Thursday, April 12, 2012

Oh, that special feeling

I wonder if Elgar Lee who wants his citizenship to "feel special" remembers what it really feels like to be at home?

Nobody "feels special" when they're at home. Parents yell at each other and at the kids. Elder siblings yell at younger siblings, then lock themselves up in their rooms to feel unloved and unwanted. Small children are always getting underfoot, grandparents always getting in the way. Home is where the chores are, where we wash our dishes and underwear alike, sometimes in the same sink. How glam is that? We pick up after ourselves if we want a clean, orderly environment to live in. At home we dress down, slouch, burp and f*rt in front of the TV (and each other). That's home: the one place in the world where we can be ourselves and NOT have to be special though the rest of the world demands it from us.

It's home because despite our differences, family is still family. We can fight each other all the time, but whomever else threatens one of us threatens all of us. It's home because without that piece of land or concrete or dirt to stand on, we have nothing else and we have nowhere else to go. In no way does the land need to be special, nor do we have to be special to stand on it. Like it or not, it just happens to be ours. Does Mr Lee have anywhere else to call home? No? Then home is here. How special does he feel now?

If Mr Lee takes issue with having to defend his home, then who else is going to defend it for him? It is sometimes said that because of National Service our boys feel like second-class citizens. O persons of impaired judgement! Only first-class citizens will defend their home because they have something to defend. Second-class citizens either have somewhere else to call "home", or defence doesn't matter to them one way or another because they have no home to begin with.

At home, traditionally, the only ones who should feel special are our visitors. Because they DON'T belong, we treat them with extra care to make them feel welcome. We pay special attention to their comfort, to see to their needs, and defer our needs to suit their convenience. We do what we can to make them leave with a good impression of us. That's basic hospitality, and it's especially important to be hospitable with friends, neighbours and even strangers, when we know we won't last long in a tough neighbourhood without their goodwill. And even if this wasn't the case, it's still how well-bred people treat one another.

But S'pore has come such a long way that we might just have forgotten the realities of home. We feel special now that we have a maid to boss around and do all the things we are supposed to be doing for ourselves at home. We feel special when we have someone at home calling us "Sir" or "Mam", and we can just put our feet on the coffee table and enjoy instant-home, where everything we need or want appears like magic (though we hardly give a toss about the human cost behind the magic). We feel special when our parents put us precious little darlings on a pedestal because they don't know how to keep us quiet otherwise love us so much.

We know we've had it too good for too long when we want to "feel special" in our own home.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The new buzz

After nearly six years of faithful service, my el cheapo no-name-brand PC 4.1 speaker set finally bit the dust. Lately, it developed an incessant buzzing noise that grew louder and louder with repeated use. I tried to live with it for the past couple of months. Sometimes, smacking the boom box helped quiet it somewhat; but now no amount of abuse will keep the peace any longer. The buzz has grown so loud I don't hear what I'm supposed to hear from the speakers any more. It's a goner.

Time to fork out a little disposable income. I settled for this Altec Lansing VS2721. 2.1 speakers means less cabling entanglement in the back. That little gadget in the middle puts volume control on a big handy knob right at my fingertips. Though I feel the sub-woofer doesn't give as solid a bass boost as a comparable Creative model, I'm learning to love hearing all the digital subtleties in my music and games that were swept under the carpet by the old speakers. Voices are clean, as are individual instruments -- and even their relative spatial locations can be imagined if I close my eyes. Battle noises in ME3 come out layered , as if things are happening around me beyond my immediate field of vision. Sweet!

Once again, I'm no audiophile and because of what I was used to listening to, I'm easily impressed by what I have now.

Monday, April 09, 2012

Old salt tale

Hear-tell some of our fellow deck-hands who jumped ship to work on the new luxury liner are jumping off again to parts unknown. Guess t'wasn't quite the Caribbean cruise they thought t'was going to be, eh? I'm not saying this to gloat, however. It's a tough life swabbing decks, no matter which bark ye be sailing. These days, it feels like we're swabbing twice as hard to get the deck only half as clean. T'is enough to make an old salt go, "Arrrgh!"