Sunday, June 29, 2014

Church deconsecration

It sounds bad but deconsecration is not the same as desecration. Before a church building is used as a place of worship, it has to be consecrated. The reverse, i.e deconsecration, happens when the church building is no longer used as a place of worship. As an institution which is almost 2 millenia old, there are some rituals to follow and it will be interesting to witness and experience this.

The first time I went to Church of Sts Peter and Paul was during the pre-Easter churches visitation in 2008 just before my baptism. I was not too impressed with as the building was deteriorating and not air-conditioned. The signs of its grandeur, like the super high arching ceiling and larger-than-life statues of Sts Peter and Paul welcoming the congregation before using the holy water to make the sign of the cross upon entering the church, were overwhelmed by peeling paints on the walls and the ceiling. After another 6 years, it was finally time for it to be renovated. Today also happens to be the Feast Day of Sts Peter and Paul so it is apt to start the renovation work tomorrow.

Frankly, churches with no aircon will never be my choices to attend mass. When the church is full, it is very uncomfortable to sweat in the heat and the sound of the fans are sleep inducing. However, since Sts Peter and Paul has 430pm mass on Sundays, I have been going there for mass this year and not once that I managed to stay awake during the mass. Embarassing, I know.. People are surprisingly sentimental and actually attended the "last" mass. I followed the warden which assigned me to 2nd pew from the front.. So yes, obviously, I did not fall asleep today. Haha.. but perhaps there was another reason.
With a statue of Jesus and His outstretched hands above me, obviously I would stay awake. Haha...
The mass itself was the same like any other mass. The ritual for the decommisioning/deconsecration/closing of the church only happened at the end. And thus I am going to highlight the special things that happened. And before that I have to apologise that I am not familiar with the liturgical terms so my description will be in a very layman language. Even google does not have a lot of information about deconsecration ritual.

Firstly, the pastors had to remove their robe (I don't know what it is called. Basically it is the colourful robe that changes depending on the liturgical season) before the ritual and the main celebrant wore a different robe. It was followed with the reading of the decree from the Archbishop for the deconsecration and the closure of the church building for any worship activities. It is interesting to note that there is actually Canon Law governing this but I can't remember the numbers cited.

At every Catholic church, there is always a light burning next to the Tabernacle to signify the presence of the Lord (in the Eucharist) within the church building. As the building was deconsecrated and the Eucharist would be moved out of the building, the tabernacle lamp had to be extinguished too. There is even this special tool to extinguish the lamp.

The container for consecrated hosts in the tabernacle was removed and put on the altar while the main pastor knelt down and did something beneath the altar. I am not sure if it was just some prayer or he removed the Saint's relic. FYI, in every altar, there will always be a holy relic embedded either on the altar or beneath the altar. After that, the pastor would bring out the container filled with the consecrated hosts out of the church. Here comes the exciting part, when as he was walking (and holding the container), one of the altar boys opened up an umbrella. I find this very fascinating! Haha..
I should not hesitate and snapped a photo when the priest was still near the altar. At least I won't have this random person's head!
The most beautiful thing was that the congregation was expected to follow the priestly procession immediately and exit the church. That is to signify us following the host to its new place of dwelling and after everyone exit the church, the church will be locked.

After following the procession to leave the church, I did not follow all the way to the chapel where the host will be placed. I went back to the church to take a photo of the statue of Jesus (the one shown above) which kept me awake today. Thank you, Jesus!

The priest mentioned that the church building is already 140 years old and the renovation will take about 1.5 years. I can't wait for it to be completed and then to witness the process of consecrating a church. In the mean time, from next week onwards I will experience attending a mass under a tent in the carpark. Haha...

Monday, June 23, 2014

It hurts...

You want a limited out-of-print item which was released a decade ago with a price tag of USD 395.
The common price of the item in the secondary market is above 1 grand.
In fact, a few months back, there was 1 damaged and restored piece being sold for USD 700.
Then suddenly a seller appears and sell it for USD 925.
Will you buy it?

I did.. and I regretted it.. Sigh..
The seller did not ship outside US so I took the risk to get it through proxy. I was expecting the proxy to refuse my request as previously they refused my request to buy similar item which was deemed fragile although it cost only USD 120. It took about 2 days for them to process it and while waiting for the "Yes" or "No", my gut feeling told me that perhaps I should just cancel it. Guess what.. they approved my request.

While waiting for the transit of the item, another item was put up on auction starting from USD 1 and the seller was willing to ship overseas. I honestly was praying that item would arrive broken at the proxy warehouse so I can get a refund and to get from this auction. Obviously, that did not happen. And to make matters worse, another 2 appeared over the weekend starting with USD 1 too T_T

The first item ended this morning at USD 660. With shipping costing almost the same, I basically overspent close to USD 350 needlessly :'( I even hoped that my item arrived broken to me this evening and again it did not happen.

Seriously.. it hurts.. I could get another 1 or 2 items with the difference. Fuck, man!

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Boyish charm

Yesterday I met 2 of my junior high school friends that I last saw almost 12 years ago before I left my hometown for this foreign land. They are here to attend a friend's wedding. I can't tell you how touched I was when they were looking for me and could not wait to meet me. I felt very tired throughout the week (thanks to doing opening shift!) and was tempted to just slack at home after work. But seeing how eager they were to meet, I decided to heck about my tiredness and to meet them.

It never fails to amaze me that despite having no contact for the past decade, once we met, it was like we were teleported back to our younger days. There was no awkwardness and we could have a very normal conversation. I guessed I really had a good teenage days back in Indonesia. In contrast, I would imagine a very awkward and uncomfortable atmosphere when meeting with "friends" from my secondary or JC days here. It also made me imagine how my life would be if never left my hometown in 2002. Back in those days, social media was non-existent and I sort of "lose contact". I guess a part of me is just being anti social and I don't bother to look out for my friend to hang out when I am back at home for holiday. I guess it is too late now with many of my friends are married and already having kids. 

I am glad that they did not find me changed other than me being fatter now. That was not a surprise since I am 10kg+ heavier than I was in 2002. Haha.. They still find me very boyish, perhaps because I don't smoke and I don't drink. I kinda felt disappointed that they drink and smoke. I just find drinking and smoking are things that bad boys do and it is not a sign of maturity. I know it is just a stupid prejudice that I have but that is how my mindset is formed by my parents.

I still can close 1 eye for drinking as drinking wine can be classy (and beers are always low class to me) and I am fine as long as people know their limit and do not get drunk and vomit. I just personally don't drink because I have a weak gastric and I get the Asian flush very quick. Thus I don't really find drinking pleasurable.

Smoking, however, is just a big turn-off for me. I don't see anything cool about harming your own health and worse, harming others too! Bleah... They asked me if it was okay for them to light up with me around. Out of courtesy, I said okay. Haha.. They did their part by asking permission so it was my "loss" for not saying no. Having friends who smoke changes my perception on smoking a little bit. Other than the smoking, I don't really see a lot of change to my friends as compared to many years ago when they were not smoking. I should not see smoking as a sign that someone is bad.. but I still dislike smoking as it makes everyone around them suffer. Just from 1.5 hours of exposure, I am already having phlegm since this morning o_0

So while my friend was enjoying a beer, I got myself a mocktail (yes.. alcohol-free LOL) and a slice of Tiramisu.. Haha.. Yes no wonder they still think that I am a boy boy. And I am not offended by that. Lol..

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Flying Dutchman

World Cup 2014 has begun. I am quite distanced from soccer news nowadays, especially after Manchester United screwed up their English Premier League latest campaign. In fact, the only thing that caught my interest to read news on the opening ceremony is Jennifer Lopez-lookalike who sang with Jennifer Lopez for the opening ceremony. Her name is Claudia Leitte and she is a Brazillian pop-singer. No idea why she looks so alike to J Lo in the opening ceremony. Haha.. Anyway the official song for World Cup 2014 sucks so I am not embedding the video here.
J. Lo is the one in green.
The hottest news about World Cup now is about The Netherlands demolishing Spain 5-1 and of course the star of the game: Robin van Persie with his beautiful and unbelievable header. Epic goal, goal of the century, the best goal of this World Cup, wonder goal, Flying Dutchman, and I don't know what other things people will be calling this goal. It also has become the latest viral meme sensation of internet. With Louis van Gaal as the new boss of Manchester United, I hope Man U will return to her glorious days in the upcoming EPL.
I am sure there are better quality gifs out there which I am unable find T_T
Just one of the meme

KFC Singapore is bringing back Double Down burger starring Cristiano Ronaldo to celebrate this World Cup. I am not too interested as I tried it previously.. but wait.. the promotion is not only on the box with CR7's picture. There is actually CR7 water bottles too! I shall see if there is something special with water bottle like his signature or something. If there is nothing special, then I guess I should just get the red/black version.. Wait.. the red/white version looks nice too... and the green/yellow has green.. Aaarghh!!! I am not exactly a fan of him but oh well, it's World Cup fever now!!

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Change of heart

I can't remember exactly how long I had "left" the church. I did not attend any mass since Easter.. or perhaps since Lent because I deliberately skipped the penitential service too. I wanted to go for Ascension Mass which was a Day of Obligation but skipped it eventually. Last week was Pentecost and I guess the Holy Spirit was inspiring me to go.

I wanted to attend the early morning mass which obviously did not happen. The plan for afternoon mass was almost called off too because of a stupid cockroach that disrupted my shower. When I slid off the sliding door, I saw something black moving. I tried to find out and found nothing so I proceeded with showering until the bloody cockroach decided to drop. Aaargh...!!! Thank goodness the water was on and the cockroach was unable to fly. Honestly, I was so scared on how to kill it. Lucky I found a cockroach spray which did not exactly kill the cockroach as its legs were still moving. I also did not know how to discard the body. Even the idea of "picking" it up after putting it under 2 stacks of newspaper was too much. I saw the drainage hole and I flushed it down.. Aiiih!! 15 minutes of terror. Because of the time wasted, I had to run after the bus and despite skipping lunch and feeling very hungry, in the end I made it for my first mass in close to 3 months and I was not late! Gosh..

For the past few times I attended Sunday afternoon mass at Sts Peter & Paul, I always fell asleep for homily. I kinda expected that the same thing would happen again. Funnily, for the homily, the priest wanted it to be a kind of meditation. So he asked the congregation to relax and close our eyes while listening to what he said. "Don't worry about falling asleep. The Spirit will sustain you.". He actually said that and guess what, not even the spirit could wake me up! Haha.. During the exchange of peace, the person sitting across the aisle was someone I knew from NUS CSS. It is always a good feeling to unexpectedly meeting someone you know but I was quite self-conscious if she saw me sleep sia... Haha..

But believe it or not, God works in His own ways. Just after that mass, I felt very energised "spiritually". At home, I immediately flipped my daily bible calendar and daily reading to the current date. Their pages had been stuck in early May and was left untouched. It also got me to start my night prayer before I go to bed too. I tried to get my rosary going again but it only survived Monday. After that, my sleepiness was too overpowering.. I still have a long way to go to pick up the good old habit but I am trying.

I also overcame my laziness and finished up my recording of monthly expense for May. There is no surprise but I just felt very shocked and emo at the amount I spent for toys/manga. Recently I don't post that much about my collectibles but it does not mean I stop buying. In fact, I am buying too many that I don't have the time to catch up with taking photos and enjoying them. Sigh.. This really has got to stop somewhere!

Having said that I felt very emo when I missed the auction for Final Fantasy Chrome: Butz with serial number 0000!! Sigh.. 2 weeks ago, it was sold for 20000+ yen and I think the winner did not pay for it so the seller listed again. The auction ended at 4600 yen yesterday. I woke up about 40 minutes before the end of auction and I decided to rest a bit and wake up again nearer the end of auction. I was too lazy to put a deposit for a snipe bid as I was not going to pay anything above 20000 yen for that. Obviously, I never woke up and I was very angry and disappointed with myself!! Fuck fuck fuck!! Yes.. how ironic it is that on one side I want to save but on the other side, I still need to feed my pride of owning "special" items. I mean, how often do you have a chance to own a limited edition item with a small number. Haiz.. fuck!
I want him T_T
My spending on food for May is 1.5x more than my usual and this is crazy. Haiz... Basically anything related to money makes me very irritable lately. I have yet to recover my bank balance after paying the yearly insurance premium in April. Not to mention that with my PR, my take home pay is less.. And shockingly, they actually back-dated the CPF contribution! My PR was approved in late April so I still took a full pay for April. They minused away some of my May pay to deduct whatever it should be for April.. Darn!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014


When you have passion for something, no matter how arduous that something can be, you will still feel excited and eager to overcome the challenges that comes with it. One thing that I am passionate about is teaching, I wrote a not very good experience last year. This year I have more things on my plate and I am not involved in the preparation for staff's exam. Ironically, despite the not very pleasant experience last year, I am very heartened when some tell me that I am a good teacher and it is unfortunate that I am not involved in this year's training, Of course I have to give face to my colleagues who will be doing the training this year and give politically correct answer. It is kinda premature to say that they are lousy when they have not even conducted any session! But anyways, I feel kinda sad that I don't get to teach this time.

Apparently, in the end, I was lazy to write down about my first precepting experience last year. It is time to write it down right now as I am doing another round of precepting. I don't know if I am just unlucky to get "problematic" students or now NUS admission standard has dropped. The general trend that I notice is that the students are lacking EQ and/or people skills.

My student last year was a mugger type but apparently he was not able to mug on the correct things. He had difficulties mixing in with the rest as he was a guy (I can tell you that it takes skills for a guy to survive in a majority female environment) and he was more of the reserved type. People found him weird and anti-social which I disagreed as it was just a matter of different personality. I just told him that like it or not, at least he had to try to work as a team. My favourite piece of advice is: I don't care whether you are friends or enemies as long as when it comes to work, you work as a team and get things done. I gave the feedback on the pretense of mid-point review. Since he is the mugger type and hence more grade-oriented, after the feedback, he told me that from the following week onwards, he would come early, leave late, and skip lunch. Oooh laa laa... That made everyone find him weirder.

I also had a bit of friction with my colleague who found that I was spending too much time with the student. That really made me super duper upset and angry. Just because we have different teaching style, she has no right to say that. For me, I will go through things first, prepare the students thoroughly before letting the students hands-on. Her style is more letting students try hands-on first and then going through things as and when necessary. No style is right or wrong. Bleah.. not to mention that at that time she had no student to precept yet so I guess she said that because with me spending time with my student, she had to clear crowd and had no time to do her own work.

I thought I had someone "bad" enough last year and honestly I could not imagine there could be students more troublesome that that. I was wrong. My current student proves more "problematic". The lack of EQ and/or people skills are more or less the same. However, the current student has worse discipline issues. She was late for the whole first week despite daily reminders, she kept disappearing to the toilet, returned to "work-mode" late after lunch, etc. Bleah..

Honestly, I am very lenient as a preceptor. I used to be students "forced" to do attachment during school break too and I know very well how it feels. I can tolerate normal naughty things that students do but when you PLAY GAMES with handphone at work, that was the last straw for me. It was so busy this afternoon that I decided to give a pep talk tomorrow instead. Guess what, she left work at 528pm today before her knock-off time 530pm! Yes it was only bloody 2 MINUTES but it is a matter of discipline and tomorrow she will see my scary side. Let's see how it goes tomorrow..

Despite all the negativity, I am quite glad that at least her preparation for presentation slide was pretty well done. In fact it was like 90% done. Last year's student of mine had to re-do his slides 3-4 times because he was so blur on the organisation of the slides and his multiple spelling errors. Wew...

At the end of the day, I have to admit that I am still a newbie and am still learning to become a good teacher.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Free! Makoto Tachibana Garage Kit by DAVYACE

Free! Makoto Tachibana Garage Kit by DAVYACE
Welcome to a new side of anime/manga figure collecting :) In contrast to the professionally mass-produced figures, there is this lesser known category called "garage kit". Historically, garage kit is fan-made figurines built at their own garage or workshop. Garage kits are typically made by fans for "obscure" characters or series that no professional manufacturer will ever make, characters whose present mass-produced figurines are not up to fans expectations, or for poses that copyright holders will not approve for mass production i.e female characters in pornographic acts. They typically come in several parts which require assembly (with super glue) and painting although nowadays, there are more and more pre-painted garage kits to cater to fans who have no painting skill (like me) and just would like to enjoy the figurine.

ALTAiR is making a PVC-figure of Makoto scheduled for release this September. The reason why I still bought this garage kit is: exposed body. Free! is an anime about swimming so it is kinda overwhelming to make a figure of Makoto wearing a jacket and folding his arms. I am pretty sure ALTAiR makes this pose to avoid a big hoo-haa regarding nipples. Japanese anime characters are drawn without nipples. Exposing his chest without making any nipples will mean staying true to the anime character design but there will be people who want a bit more realism i.e humans have nipples. So yes, the nipples in this garage kit make the figure stands out from tonnes of nipple-less male figurines in the market.

It is a new experience to "hunt" for this item as it is not something available in normal anime shops. The circle which produces this (DAVYACE) has a facebook page and after scrolling down to find the post in February, I found its blog and its contact email. The price is NT$ 2300 (USD 80) for the painted version and NT$ 1700 (USD 60) for the unpainted version. I bought the painted version and the shipping fee from Taiwan cost additional USD 10. Unfortunately, mine is imperfect and to make things worse, it arrived damaged too. I bought the 2nd last piece and by the time I got the item, the painted version was sold out. No replacement part can be obtained and I had to be satisfied with 50% refund.

Moving on to the figure itself, Makoto is standing at about 24cm tall. His pose is rather plain and boring. His face, although spot-on, looks very tired. The sculpt is great and I am not only referring to the muscles but also the bones and even the little details like the fingers and toes. The proportion of his body is rather awkward as he is rather scrawny for a swimmer. His arms and back are not muscular enough to depict someone who swims backstroke. I know Japanese guys in anime are usually scrawny but even in the anime, Makoto is the most muscular among the rest.

I have written long enough so just enjoy the picture now.
He is not standing straight because of the damage and imperfection on his left foot. I will explain why later after some close-ups.
Torso.. something is not quite "right" with the hip bone which makes his body weird
Isn't he quite big down there?
Not enough musculature of the back for a backstroke swimmer
The butt is too "flat" but you can see that it is well sculpted
Details for the toes are great
So are the details for the hair
It is time to discuss about the imperfections now. Since I bought the painted version, everything was supposed to be glued together except for the head and the goggles to give the options to display with or without goggles. The separated head also allows slight movement of the head. However, when I opened the parcel, the upper and lower body parts are separated. This is a minor issue as I can glue them together quite easily. The feet were inserted and glued to the legs and unfortunately, the left foot broke and it is almost impossible to fix this to perfection :(
This is what I got
They need a stronger super glue -_-"
Haiz.. I rather the glue came off rather than the foot broke :(
Notice a bit of chipping on the neck
 Showing how his head can turn sideways
 Slight chipping on the heel
The foot problem does not end here. After inserting the peg to the hole at the base, the foot does not rest flat on the base! So unlucky that the peg is at the same foot which broke and had to be glued together. Because of these foot problems, I don't dare to display the figurine for the fear of it toppling down :(
No, I can't (and don't dare) to force it to rest flat on the base as it may damage the foot further
I guess I will stay away from garage kits and stick to official merchandises as I am pretty disappointed with this: chipping, imperfections, and poor packaging which makes it impossible for me to display and enjoy this figurine.

And as a bonus, let the 2 shirtless boys stand side-by-side as a comparison. And yes, Kaworu, you really need to eat more. Haha..

Wednesday, June 4, 2014


Since the first day I knew about this movie, I knew I was going to watch it just for 1 reason: Angelina Jolie. She did not disappoint as she looked wickedly amazing in the trailers. The fake cheekbones really helped her to personify the Mistress of Evil. It was a great surprise to see Maleficent's version of "Once Upon a Dream" in the trailer. However, the trailer did dampen my interest as seeing the army of men vs army of CG-trees battle gave me the impression of some lame war would be going on and I did not watch this on the premiere week. Only after it beat X-men on the box-office that I got so eager to watch. There must be something magical to allow this to beat X-men.

I was surprised when the Disney castle at the opening looks quite different from usual. That turns out to be the castle for this movie. The movie begins with sweet-voiced narrator and beautiful CG of the fairy land. The next 20-30 minutes is boring. I am sure they can get better looking and less awkward boy and girl to play young Maleficent and Stefan instead of these 2 kids.

Things get a bit more exciting after Angelina Jolie appears as mature Maleficent. She is really gorgeous and she can be very ferocious at the same time during the poorly explained war which appears out of nowhere. After this the proper story begins with Stefan's betrayal (I would liken his cutting of wings equal to an act of rape), Maleficent's change of heart, and that famous curse bestowed on Aurora. From then on, everything becomes so "twisted" that the story bears no resemblance whatsoever with the Sleeping Beauty we grow up getting to know with.

The 3 fairies are dimwits and Maleficent turns out to be sort of Aurora godmother. Yes I don't make a type error. It is godmother and not stepmother. One of the gifts bestowed on Aurora by one of the fairy is that she will be loved by whomever she meets and that includes the Mistress of Evil. In fact, Maleficent even tries to remove her curse but failed. She even tries her best to bring Philip to Aurora believing that he may be Aurora's true love.

It seems that Disney is following the trend from Frozen that you don't fall in love with a stranger that you just meet once. In fact, Maleficent believes that there is no such thing as true love kiss and thus making her so evil: pretending that the curse can be lifted by something non-existent. Philip's kiss fails to awaken Aurora and *not surprise*, the true love kiss comes from Maleficent -__- who has been sort of a mother figure to Aurora for the past 16 years. The climax makes no sense whatsoever. Aurora releases Maleficent's wings captured by Stefan and indirectly causes the demise of her own dad. Finally, the movie ends with Aurora being crowned as the leader of both the human and fairy land to ensure that both lands live happily ever after.

With such story development, it is no wonder that the movie is getting mixed review. If you consider this as a movie completely separate from Sleeping Beauty, it is quite nice and has great lessons to teach the viewer. However, if you can't take off Sleeping Beauty from your mind, this movie is a disaster to the Sleeping Beauty universe/story that we are so familiar with: Maleficent is good? Aurora indirectly kills her father? 3 dumb fairies?

I am confused on whether I like or dislike the movie. While I am quite upset that it "butchers" the original story, I honestly left the cinema feeling good which meant that I kinda enjoy the movie. Perhaps there is magic in this movie after all. Haha..

So how is Angelina Jolie? I have to say that she makes watching this worth it. She is able to portray vulnerability of a woman, personification of revenge and evil, love of a mother, strength as a protector of her territory and many more. As someone more inclined to the dark side, I obviously love her playing her evil side than her good side. I can see that it is not a joke or publicity stunt when news reported no child actor, except for her own daughter, who was not scare of her on the film set. She really looks really menacing during the famous curse scene as well as when she gathered the power from the universe to prepare for the curse. I don't know how the movie will turn out but I think it can be pretty awesome if she stays evil throughout following the original Sleeping Beauty.

Oh and do you know why the movie has no mention about Sleeping Beauty at all? Firstly, the Beauty (Aurora) is not very beautiful.. In fact, Maleficent is prettier than her. Secondly, she is barely sleeping.