The man who much prefers to introduce himself as ‘I trade coffee.’ Hardly inspires much faith as someone who possesses the extraordinary power to stop time. But that is only because one is necessarily led to belief such an act would require some métier extraordinaire.

For Mr Koreana the accomplished practitioner of stopping time – required only the most mundane of what I can only refer too as living a life dissipation.

He had a habit of wandering into museums with no precise intent and purpose other than to fashion himself as an allegory of one of the many exhibits, he frequently peers at with an expression of mild interest.

Like a man who seems different from all other men only because he did not suffer from being beholden to time. His pace and demeanor embodied the listlessness of a man who wished to be nowhere, yet beneath it all there was an unmistakable deliberate intent to even suggest he meant to everywhere at the same time, like the contradiction of the many caged exhibits in a museum – radiating their life stories as best they can across the the sea of time thru two inches of bullet proof glass – to Mr Koreana, who was accustomed to being the sort of man who never ever felt like so many other men, the weight of being anywhere specific except where he found himself at any point in time was the first precondition of being of able to stop time….to regard time itself with utter indifference…to such a degree on his best walks when he found himself lost and in a place that he could neither recognize or conjure out with any sense of familiarity – Mr Koreana relished it.

That if you didn’t know is the precise attitude that one needs to cultivate to stop time itself – indifference.

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Twelve years ago somewhere in Jerusalaem, Israel.

Kamel Bin Hussein the 57 year old Tunisian oud trader had always prided himself with the uncanny ability to read people like the many scraggy lines that crisscrossed his palm. But that morning as he sat facing the oriental in a cafe in the Arab quarter of Jerusalem – he had come face to face with an unknown quantity for the very first time in his life.

This much Kamel was sure of – the man wasn’t your run of the mill faith tourist. That was just a cover like the I love Jesus tin badge he wore. Sure, he could have very easily passed for one of those wide eyed sappy Asians who could usually be counted to make up the numbers for a Church led tour to the Holy land this time of the year…but this one was very different, of that Kamel was certain.

He too purposeful…too at ease…too dangerous, though he masked it, it showed in his square jaw line and the deliberate way he carried himself…like a matador. Or maybe it was the deliberate manner the man who wore sunglasses held the slim glass of mint tea with only his thumb and little finger with the rest sticking out – his uncle had once told him, this was the way Sudanese rifle horsemen drank their pipping hot tea on the saddle, with the three fingers holding the stirrups with only the thumb and the little finger balancing the thin stemmed glass.

The oriental spoke an uncommon sort of Arabic – an old vernacular variety, one where he stretched his vowels, placed his verbs at the beginning of each sentence. His ‘nehs’ were strained and exaggerated and ‘acks’ silent to even come across as non existent on the abbreviated ‘meh’ ‘yin’ and ‘Kah.’ It reminded Kamel of the strange way his grandfather spoke only to his granny…when they were alone in the dark and didn’t want the children to listen in – she was a camel trader’s daughter from Khartoum. As Kamel looked at the man wondering whether he should scam him. He wondered to himself…was he there…..maybe he was a mercenary…..a wanted man on the run…a legionnaire deserter. Somewhere between these smouldering thoughts, Kamel must have realised the man wasn’t worth the risk of scamming…besides he had crisp one hundred dollar American bills and somewhere between his second hot tea, he decided to put in a honest days wage. “OK, I will take you there…but it will cost you.” The stranger did not bargain and began counting off the notes with a rasping sound. “Why do you want to go there? There is nothing there except snakes and scorpions and miles of pipelines.” The stranger smiled.

Three hours later they were standing on a rock promontory in Isawiyah, North East of Jerusalem overlooking the no man’s stretch of land on Mount Scopus. The man traced the faint water pipes that crisscrossed the desert. He took pictures with a Nikon – he was good with the camera…too good.. thought Kamel….maybe he used to work as a spy for the French in Africa….or maybe he killed for them…it’s hard to tell with this one.

“We need to get closer.” The man boomed startling Kamel out from his reverie like a flock of pigeons exploding “No. Any closer and they will start shooting. This is a restricted area. We shouldn’t even be here.” The stranger smiled and drew on his cigarette as he begun to cut the wire fence with Leatherman pliers as Kamel looked on in horror. The Arab had a feeling this was going all wrong.

The following day, the watchman at the Hebrew University opened the front doors of the Department of Agriculture as he done everyday for the last twenty years – there was nothing unusual that day except coming across an Asian tourist who had lost his way and wandered into the grounds asking for directions back to the Hyatt hotel – it happened from time to time…not very often…but enough not to draw any suspicion. After all a hidden gap in the row of hedges just off the Commonwealth Cemetary was a short cut used by many who knew the University grounds wells – from time to time, someone would accidentally be funneled into the a University grounds..it didn’t happen very often…..nothing unusual at all….what was very odd however to the watch man was the peculiar way the key turned on the barrel lock of the door that led to the faculty that day. It felt looser than usual. But since it lasted only a split second, the watchman thought it might have something to do with the frosty weather – it was after all winter in Jerusalem.

Sometime around mid-day, a high security Chubb filling cabinet housing experimental vane pump designs for jet fighter aircrafts in an annex opposite the Department of Agricultural studies was found unlocked. Since nothing had been removed and all the blue prints were still in their slotted security coded trays in chronological order – the head of department simply closed the filling cabinet and locked it again.

It had happened before. Nothing unusual…. Researchers were after all a careless and forgetful lot. They have no sense of security. Nothing to worry about. Everything seems to be the way it always has been and will probably be….nothing unusual at all….except maybe a tin ‘I love Jesus’ badge on the floor next to the unlocked filling cabinet, to which the watch remarked, ‘bloody researchers…they are all bleeding Christians aren’t they!

No! I don’t for one moment imagine anyone aspires to be a frontier man…not ever. Some may secret harbor illicit dreams about being a fireman or even a lion trainer in a traveling circus. But even so that’s pushing the envelop of most people’s sense and sensibilities.

People really slip into the frontier way of life when all bets are off: that’s to say, it’s their way of running away and hiding in the forest like a wounded animal – a reputation in ruins, a love gone wrong….a scandal?…an epic fall from great heights of expectations.

When they need to save their sorry souls, folks head for the frontier….of course you will never know the real reason. You can speculate and that’s that, that’s because it’s a bit like joining the French Foreign a legion…one never seems to be able to recall the life last lived or for that matter even one’s real name…..the frontier wipes it all away like dust taken by the wanton winds.

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He certainly did – trade coffee that is.

He bought low. Or what at least he thought to be low. For most the time, Mr Koreana managed to sell high or at worst break even. Mr Koreana was adept at playing the game of caprice against the vagaries of the coffee commodities trade….he was exceedingly good at the game.

So good that he much preferred to deal directly. At source as he liked to call it, which required him to travel by schooner along the neckline of the bay of Guinea shaped like a shoulder of a sleeping woman every year – he bought only between the months of November and December just before the dreaded Harmattan descended from the North when humidity drops to less than 15%, when weights and scales are truest.

In the curelean evenings when an almost paraffin blue sunset renders the Sierra in Leone ablaze, Mr Koreana knows that presages the arrival of the ochre winds that will blow relentless from North Africa to the cape of Guinea, sailors in the Coite de noire cursed – the sea of blood.

In West Africa, Mr Koreana buys only from the Parsees gypsies who caravan salt cones deep into the interior of Africa in April when the sun is at it’s highest usually on moonless. He considered them well mannered and considerate as they never ever took any exception to the shoulder holstered pistol he frequently wore with his creme suit,

With beans in hand for the rest of the year like how De Beers corners the diamond trade to keep the price of diamonds artificially high thru the successful marketing illusion of creating scarcity when there was more than enough to go around – that’s how Mr Koreana squared off the lousy odds when the market dealt him a curve ball from time to time.

During the hard years when it’s impossible to beacon out the murk of Mother Nature’s design. She can’t help it Mr Koreana would often murmur on deck only for the capricious wind to steal his words as if even she feared the sea herself would hear it…usually, he made allowances for that siaow charbor (crazy woman..the weather..he much to call caprice) often recounting – she can’t help it, the bloody moon affects her – when the loses mount while his wins dwindle and Mr Koreana makes do with maggi mee and one egg. He always instructs his secretary to send his Savile Row khaki linen suit to the dry cleaners along with a Panama, changes out his a wafer thin Constantin for a Rolex submariner – he was a man who always like to go to the very source for produce….only in the lean times, Mr Koreana went much deeper than most other men – just like the man from Del Monte – that’s what they called him Dumon only because in Creole Francaise along the Congo, a failing common to the coreoleans was their inability to curl the tongue at the ridge, which made Dumon much easier to pronounce than Del Monte. In the Congo at the prestigious Shamagh which doubled as the blue fin nightclub overlooking the river that separates Zaire from Brazaville. The regularly patrons considered him an honorary Le Sapuer de Extraordinaire Afrique who even had his own horse shoe table….Mr Koreana the man who only wears a well pressed khaki suit, chequered maroon cravat, Panama complete with spectator shoes and downs Campari on the rocks – but the man who likes nothing better than to refer to himself as Mr I trade coffee, wasn’t you regular foreign businessman in Africa prospecting for new markets or in search of the highest quality coffee beans.

He knew Africa as only someone who had lived another life in Africa could. Knew it so well that he never ever stopped whenever he came across corpse lying in the middle of the road in Lagos, because the moment, one bends over and touches it – one is expected to pay for the man’s funeral that typically last for seven days and nights and involves the entire village and probably includes free flowing nooch…he knew Africa with that sardonic bitter sweet condescending grin like how during an internal flight once from Nairobi to Uganda, when the starboard engine burst into flames all he could manage was a look of amusement mixed with curiosity. A trait one only really acquires after Africa itself permeates a man till it’s very pathos saturates the marrow of his bones. He knew Africa well enough to make out the odds of whether to call off his bets or double his bets on a ticket. To either walk away with his winnings on the magnetic rigged roulette table at the Metropole in the french quarter when the oily émigré proprietor took out his silk hanky. Or to continue playing thru the night. Knew like knowingness herself – strange don’t you think so for man who seems to be able to just manage to blurt out whenever the conversation turns to work – I trade coffee.

I trade coffee…..nothing else it seems follows thereafter…only the finality of….I trade coffee.

Knew Africa so well that when coffee supplies thinned out as they sometimes do. It had to be the work of the Amsterdam cartels cornering the market by snapping up all the bean futures – knew even then, the bazaars of the clove paradise – Zanzibar would always have a surplus of contraband beans hijacked by the Kaia pirates. Knew even how they much prefer to regard their piracy as their version of free trade African style which they refereed too as ‘Shimah’

Mr I trade coffee even knew when the sun hangs highest in Zanzibar in September. Somewhere in the tiny Arab quarter where the streets are so narrow that only one person can walk thru at a time – when everyone is content to lounge like lizards with a hookah laced with hashis and speaks in murmurs and sip cardamom laced tea as if they all wished their had necks as long as giraffes to savor every drop – There in the wide open court yard known as Kafur. He could always bid for contraband beans even when there was none in the market along side the Omani Kiswahili merchants whose Ma’ai negro bodyguards armed with gold plated a-47’s guard over their masters. In the square north east of the Arab quarter where the third minaret of the Masjid stands like the leaning tower of Pisa and perhaps no where else on this planet – bids for illicit beans are conducted by strange shapes one makes with fingers like how slaves were once sold and bought during the heady days of the Atlantic wars – Mr Koreana installs himself in a rattan chair to the east facing balcony that was once the preserve of the Medici’s, who once prospered thru slavery and the clove trade in East Africa – a young boy holds out the earthen bowl with beans. He picks only one and rolls it between his thumb and index finger and brings it to his nose. For a moment his eyes glisten with interest only to wane to feign disinterest. Beneath him the rest of the traders jostle in a human swirl of frantic hands making a field of strange gestures like plants that eat and when it seemed the bid could no go higher, the whizhar (auctioneer) looked up expectantly at the man seated at the balcony….who incidentally just happens to be the man who the world knows to be Mr I trade in coffee, responds with a casual jab of the index finger followed by three flips of last three fingers..in a dead and forgotten language that only those who once traded in slaves could understand…’his teeth were bad, but I bought him nonetheless, this would make up for the three guineas less than what I am supposed to pay you! The elders seated in the West balcony, turn to each other and begin murmuring, while the traders beneath still in anticipation…then slowly the elders begin to raise their white canes…it’s sold.

But tell me my dearest perceptive reader – what really was sold? Mr Koreana would of course insist – I trade coffee. The absence of a prefunctionary ‘only’ to complete the sentence might have suggested finality…but it’s omission is deliberate as it leaves plenty of room for improvisation.

Truth usually lies at so many levels of lies – when a man responds with a casual jab of the index finger followed by three quick flips of last three fingers at the auctions in Zanzibar….it could mean one of either things…it could mean exactly what it meant as I just describe with not the slightest variation or embellishment…but that day in the crowded courtyard of the bazaar when the sun hung highest and the seagulls plied inland…as even they had sensed lean pickings in the rough seas – it could only mean, he was willing to pay for his consignment in what Africans term white gold – ivory.

It seems Mr Koreana doesn’t just trade coffee…

Maybe that could be the reason why Mr Koreana smiled wryly like a fox two weeks later when he returned back in Singapore – perhaps that’s why the girl whose different from all other girls was seized by an inexplicable compulsion to pause during their delightful dinner at the Compass Rose. Put her knife and fork down only to turn and ask of him…

‘Do you really just trade in coffee?’

To which Mr Koreana placed his knife and fork gently down, looked up at the woman seated before him only to express in a whispering rush, ‘I trade coffee.’

Safety First – Part 2

August 27, 2016

When using descenders for technical climbs, ALWAYS tie off before starting work.

I notice for some strange reason even professionals don’t tie off – that’s fine if they fall and kill only themselves. Problem is when they fall, the climbers below them fall as well!

So learn to tie off.

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Watch this…if any of you want to argue with me…as I don’t feel like negotiating with anyone.

A couple of readers who saw my Youtube Vid ‘precheck’ below – asked whether I am using my ascender aka JUMA as a fall arrestor. The answer is No! During tech climbs it’s not uncommon to run three ropes. First is to tie one down. Second arrestor and third to haul work stuff – I use the ascender for strictly work stuff!

Ascender should NEVER be used as a fall arrestor! You might be saying to yourself, “Fine, I’ll make sure to keep my ascender high so as to minimize my fall distance. Then there won’t be enough force to damage my rope and I’ll be fine. I’ve always used a hand ascender as my backup, and I always will.”

Hey I mucho understand. I totally get it. As I did that myself once upon a time. Only let me leave you with a few thoughts:

Ascenders will wear out your rope faster because of their aggressive teeth.

If OSHA catches you using an ascender as your backup your tech climb license will be revoked!

Besides there are lots of great back up devices on the market now that work way better than 80’s ascenders as fall arresters.
So, please get on the new page.

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A fall arrestor that I highly recommend for technical climbs is the ASAP range by Petzl….I am especially impressed by three features of this device. Auto rope feed during ascent and descent. Quick arrest of the momentum weighted cam (6 inches on dead fall! @ 100 Kg rating) along with the ease of post fall recovery.

It’s pricey, but worth every cent.

Safety First

August 26, 2016

The rainy season is fast approaching. And I need to fix some awnings that requires me to climb and work under very cramped conditions outside the face of the bird house – it’s less than ideal work conditions….but it’s just doable as a one man job.

Early this morning. I planned to finish it off before lunch….as soon as I started work. It didn’t take me very long to realize I was in an awfully dangerous position and got down immediately.

Spent the entire day instead preparing the ropes, procedures and gathering the tools to get the job done safely….first thing tomorrow….it occurred to me then how I was nearly blind sided by rushing into a seemingly benign task…it’s very easy for me to over estimate my abilities. As I happen to be a very accomplished mountain climber who probably suffers from a delusional narcissistic arrogance when it comes to heights – and that blasé attitude is just right for accidents to occur…I must have kicked myself a couple of times really hard when this realization sank into me….I of all people should really know better not to take stupid risk…paradoxically, since I know mountains so well that was what probably prompted me to stop dead on my tracks, do a quick U turn and spend the rest of day planning HOW I should work SAFELY tomorrow – mountains are very unforgiving teachers….safety is like breathing — if you don’t climb safely, you die….it’s as simple as that.

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‘When arrogance gets the better of you…you will fall. That’s hundred percent…the question is whether you get up or stay down for the full count…but fall you will!

So never allow arrogance to get even one millimeter of space in your head….when you find yourself behaving impulsively and rushing into something – press the pause button and set it aside for a while…take your time…never be pressured and just look at what’s before you…study it from all angles like a hunter and scale the opportunities and threats…this is good, this is bad, that sort of attitude…take your time about it…above all do this with the attitude where you’re always mindful…if you don’t have an exit strategy and another to back that one up…you will die – man after all is very fragile.’

The fear of intimacy

August 26, 2016

Not very long ago, I asked a girl who always pretends not to see me whenever I go there for lunch….what is the furtherest distance between two points….at first this girl pretended not to register my question to her. But it must have been too much for her to bottle up I reckon. It is after all a very interesting question. So eventually when this girl could stand it no longer, she blurted out, ‘scientist say, it is the distance that separates two furtherest stars in the universe….is that right?’

I smiled and told her, ‘No. It is when I am standing here right before you and you don’t even see me.’

That is when she lowered her head and blushed.

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‘Most people are not cold and indifferent EVEN when they appear to be so…they’re not…so don’t take it personally. Your neighbor who you hardly know and seems content not to know further about you besides the fleeting hello and goodbye followed by a sheepish smile…he or she is not cold or indifferent either. That’s just a way to protect themselves against getting hurt and disappointed….when people keep a distance from you. Never take it personally. There is nothing wrong with your aftershave. No…you are not wearing a look of a sex crazed stalker…it just means they want to be in their little hermetically sealed bubble world of inner consciousness….that’s fine….only understand this clearly!

When we decide to play it safe, we sabotage our chance to make real and memorable connections in authentic ways. That’s to say we are so triple bubble wrapped safe that we can only disappear completely and feel and experience absolutely nothing.’

Living a simple life

August 25, 2016

When one strives to live a simple and unpretentious life. Only then can one begin to see the many illusions that has managed to cling to one’s existence….only then is it possible for one proceed to discard them one by one.

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‘Life can indeed be very simple and wonderful….but the moment one complicates it with frivolous yearnings and desires. It can only become very complicated…for example, when we EXPECT others to respect us. The moment someone disrespects us. Suddenly we feel the pain of being slighted and anger comes into our midst.

When we EXPECT others to treat us fairly, but they are abusive….again we feel the pain of being marginalized…and again anger comes into life.

So learn to expect nothing from others.

After all if you are walking down a street and you step on a banana skin only to loose your footing and slip and fall….you wouldn’t get angry at all. You might feel slightly embarrassed or even remind yourself to be mindful when you walk. But you wouldn’t get angry…but if you were walking and someone bumped into you and should you lose your balance and fall – you would probably be furiously.

That is because when you slipped on that banana skin – there was only you!

You were alone….you assumed all responsibility for the act of walking so there was no EXPECTATION on others…but when someone bumped into you…you harbored an EXPECTATION – the person should at least have been more careful not to bump into you….in other words – you EXPECT this other person to bear the burden of responsibility to walk without bumping into you!

So it is our EXPECTATION of others that usually complicates our life – when life is very simple…there can be no EXPECTATION.

There cannot be…it is impossible, as that is the first lesson living a simple life teaches one. Never EXPECT anything from others. You have no right to EXPECT anything from anyone….when you can do just this and this alone…suddenly your life will become very uncluttered and simple.’

This morning. A fuming landowner complained to me – the village elders had allocated him a table next to the toilet for the upcoming Chap Goh Meh celebrations…he fumed…’how dare they insult me in this manner?’ – ‘do they not know who I am…’ I told this man to calm down and call up the organizers of the event to seek further clarification.

After he had cooled down – he called the organizers and was informed the table allocated to him was no where near the toilet as due to the sheer number of guest attending – new toilet facilities would be built elsewhere.

He was very happy after that…before this landowner departed he asked me, ‘where will you be sitting.’ I told him in my plantation. He seemed surprised, when he realized I was not even invited….and he asked, ‘aren’t you insulted?’

I said in the past I would have certainly considered it a great insult….he concurred with me by thinking aloud…’after all you are a substantial landowner in these parts…you may be comparatively young, but nonetheless your land holdings should at least be recognized and respected….all I could manage as a reply was…it is not a big thing. Besides I care very little about such petty things these days….they no longer seem to be important.

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‘The story of man. The social animal is a very curious story. Here we have a character who is not so different from a bumble bee who flits from flower to flower. At times, he’s happiest when he discovers a sweet treat, but within the blink of an eye he falls sullen as he discovers nothing there and so his mood is perpetually on a roller coaster ride of up’ and down’s.

One moment he is happy…the next sad and at other times indifferent….and so it goes on like this thru the day…up and down.

This is what happens when a man falls into the ego trap and becomes all too invested in the idea of his alter ego – call it what you may, in Chinese business parlance, it’s face….in the western conception…self worth or self esteem.

My point is when one is constantly soliciting approval, respect and validation from others – one can really only be bubbling all the time in an illusion of who you are and what’s your worth….YOU WILL NEVER KNOW YOURSELF! YOU WILL ALWAYS FALL SHORT and you will NEVER be able to find real contentment.

As since so much of your self worth is premised on the external and not the internal – the opinions of others who hardly know of you…your mental well being will always be held hostage by others….how much sense does that make?

None whatsoever in my opinion….hence it makes far more sense for one to internalize the idea of self worth without the noise of society….granted this is definitely counter intuitive…only because man by nature is a social animal…but consider this: if a man does not learn to stand on his own two feet….then how can he possibly know deep down who he really is?

That is why WHAT you think about yourself is in my opinion far more important and valuable than what others may think about you!

True confidence, contentment and deep sense of identity and mission is not something to be sought after, out there in the vast expanse of the world…..it is to be realized deep within the self.’

Travel well Sir!

August 24, 2016

He was an unassuming man. That will always be his hallmark. A man who I was mindful never to write one single word against…as not only did Mr Nathan personify all the qualities of humility and reserve and dignity that I admired in all great men.

But it is taboo in Brotherhood culture to attack those who set good standards for us all to model our lives on.

There were many occasions when I politely told the webmaster and forumers not to refer to him as prata man…as I considered it demeaning….as he was a good man who showed us all how to lead a full life.

Travel well Sir!

P.S btw a Dimitri class space station will be name after you this December…it is a honor sir!

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‘His quietness, reserve, dignity and his unassuming demeanor spoke volumes…he was a great teacher to me personally. As I often emulated his ordinariness…..there must be honor even if we choose to agree to disagree.’

Fear

August 24, 2016

Whenever fear comes to you. In whatever shape and form…do not deny it. That is to say, never try to run away from it, by trying to reason or negotiate your way out of the grip of fear.

Only children do that…remain calm and very still.

Instead observe this dark force….watch the sum of all your fears carefully as it coils around your heart and mind like a serpent….be mindful of how it canals thru your mind, body and spirit strangling everything….don’t stop it. Or the magic spell will be broken…just observe it all.

Just bear witness to fear..do this quietly with a still mind with no preconceived ideas about the past, present or future.

Do not try to deny fear. As when you do this, it is like adding petrol to fire…..just observe and be mindful WHAT it is doing to your mind, body and spirit.

Above all do not allow your mind to run helter skelter….here there and everywhere….learning to do this will enable you to go into the very source of your fear and soon without you even realizing it…you will be at one with it and that is when fear not longer exist. As it is replaced by complete understanding.

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‘Today I received an anonymous phone call. The caller told me that I had pissed off very powerful landowners and that I should be very careful as since I live all alone in the wild….I am a very easy target.

I told the man over the other side in a very calm voice, ‘I don’t fear death…I went on to share with this person who was trying to intimidate me…after all…each and everyone of us have to go sooner or later – what does it matter whether it is in a hospital bed surrounded by loved one’s or in the field on a moonless night gripping a blood stained parang….it is the same thing…we all have to step on the same bus that will take us on the journey over the other side… is that not true?….after all if I die defending my lands and my right to exist under my own terms…it is a very wonderful way to go for a frontier man.’

In the South China seas…To me it is very natural for China to regard the western Pacific as her backyard. In probably the same way, the US regards Pearl Harbor. The Russians the Crimea and the British, Gibraltar.

China has ever right to regard the United States as an interfering agent in the south China seas island disputes – all indications and intelligence leads me to suggest: China is prepared to go all the way.

As I believe, one aspect of the calculations are based on the assumption the US and her allies are a declining power, unable to marshal either the collective resolve regionally or men and materiale to wage a protracted war in the South China Seas….should the current rules of engagement fall apart.

By occupying the Spratly’s and weaponizing them like a porcupine with a pheltora of missiles, China is trying to lure the United States and her allies into a long and debilitating war of attrition like Stalingrad to the German 6th Army by precipitating a classical Richardson arms race….any country that is dumb enough to be allied with the US will be sucked into this crazy arms race and suffer cancer of the wallet on a Byzantine scale.

The Chinese have I believed calculated (quite correctly) the US military especially the Navy specifically the seventh fleet is already stretched beyond it’s operational limits. As a consequence it’s theatre strategy is to further exacerbate this constraint by forcing the US and their allies to commit more hardware and men and materiale into the South China Seas theater. The cost for China to pursue a war of attrition when compared to the US and her allies is negligible. The same cannot be said about the US who seem to be basing their entire efficacy of its deterrent effect on a mix of carriers and missile system spread out from the Sea of Japan to Australasia.

Granted the US deterrent strategy that relies exclusively on leverage on carrier doctrine has been successful in the Pacific for 80 years – but in light of significant improvements in Chinese missile tech combined with the reality the rest of the world may not be inclined to join the US like they did in Iraq to fight the Chinese, it is doubtful US carrier doctrine alone will be able to perpetuate US hegemony in the South China Seas.

China is using the South China Sea islands as the means to bankrupt the US war making machinery into obselescence – The islands from the Spratly’s to the Paracels are by themselves quite useless devoid whatsoever of obvious strategic utility …in my assessment they do not seem to fulfill any objective Chinese geo political agenda. Rather it seems – the primary objective of China’s strategy is to tie up valuable military hardware in the Pacific theater thereby thinning out the US military sphere of influence elsewhere – this is obvious a grand Sino Russian strategy to put the United States into a steel box!

If the China gamble proves to be correct, many countries allied to the US doctrine of containing China military will end up being sucked into a black hole where they too will have to spend a lot of money on arms along with aligning their domestic and foreign policy to be more anti Chinese.

This is why where possible Singapore should remain neutral and not get entangled in stupid things that does not involve her!

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‘I see the affairs of the world coldly without an undue attachments. I don’t for instance support the Chinese merely because I am Chinese. No! If I appear to favor their point of view it’s only because I am conscious of the historicism that may account for their acts and omissions…but whatever it is one reality holds true, the US is a diminishing empire, it’s really at it’s final leg of it’s grand swan dive…that accounts for her desperation to hold on to the status quo.

Nothing unusual there…only that too will fail. It’s a mathematical certainly.

As it’s not possible to contain China anymore than one could possibly deny the existence of a whole continent or wish it to sink into oblivion somewhere in the featureless Pacific…this notion of trying to control China to me is very very stupid….it’s akin to talking about snakes in Norway or how many angels can one manage to fit into the head of a needle…now if you happen to be ignorant about Norwegian fauna or believe in angels…I guess it’s possible to have to a conversation on those subjects…only just because you’re talking earnestly about them, doesn’t by itself increase either the probability of success or can somehow transform implausibilities into reality – fact is China will grow and it will dominate and even come to it’s own under it’s own terms…that is reality…this whole notion of trying to create a supranational cage to contain China militarily via the seventh fleet or economically thru the machinization of the TPP is in my opinion very very stupid.’

Lowering the Temperature

August 22, 2016

I have decided to send an olive branch to my business rivals by personally presenting all of them with seasonal gifts of moon cakes. This gesture is strategic and in my view necessary….all warfare after all is based on deception. Besides they have suffered so many rounds of defeat and have been outwitted so many times despite being numerical superior, better networked and having a bigger war chest…round after round of trying to fix me and failing on every occasion is bound to take a toll of them… I sense some of them starting to feel very uneasy and nervous about me….my gut feel tells them…I must feign weakness to convince them all of this relentless intrigue had also taken a toll on me. If I don’t at least make a believable effort to come across as weak…some of them may do something stupid and escalate the conflict to where I and many others don’t want to go….it’s getting very dangerous….just like sudden death.

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‘I will pretend to be complaint, Kwai Kwai (cooperative),harmless and above all frivolous to my business rivals. This is very easy. All I have to do is hire a couple of big tit China tiger beer aunties and stage a scene where I am cavorting with them. Once my business rivals see this, they will be convinced….they will look at each other gleefully and say, ‘See! Success has all gone to his head…it’s downhill from this point.’ This is all it takes for them to set aside their suspicions (real and imagined) and they will feel reassured that I no longer harbor further imperialist ambitions to grab land – I will wait for all this to sink in. I will create a spectacle of myself and when their defenses are lowest…I will execute a swift U turn and begin hammering them again.

I will work secretly by night to improve the Western roads and continue the decoy of improving the Eastern roads to give them all the impression this is how I plan to transport my fruit during the rainy season…meanwhile my men will train, train and train to transport fruit thru the treacherous Western route…this is key!

After that I will commence trade talks.

In the past it was all too easy to convince them that I am down and out and had bitten off more than I can chew. All I had to do was amble around the village in the dead of midnight with a bottle of Johnny Walker filled with Jia Jia Liang Teh and sing vulgar Hokkien folk songs at the top of my voice…Lamentations of a defeated man who had foolishly put all his chips on one number and lost it all…..but this time, the deception has to be more elaborate.

The deception this time round has to be seamless as they have been deceived in the past so many times. This time round their defenses are bristling with layers and layers of filters – I need to spread rumors that I am going bankrupt…I will also need to hire and acting troupe to act as bailiffs, lawyers and creditors foreclosing on my business.

Once rumors spread….it will gather momentum…I will wait a while then strike like cobra again….it gives me no pleasure to do all this. It seems I have been fighting so long that I know no other way and this a profound source of sadness for me.’

The super duper expensive F-35 is a very sad lemon with wings that unfortunately most countries allied to the US will have to buy…it’s not as if they have a choice…that is the politics of power when a sovereign state is aligned with America, the superpower.

These unfortunate countries will have to bail out America and the failed F-35 program. A nightmarish fighter that has been plagued by endless technical glitches pushing it’s final roll out date years behind schedule, and its price tag has ballooned to a staggering $400 billion—nearly twice its original cost.

But it was not always like that…in the beginning there were two jet fighter programs, the current super duper complicated F-35 and the unassuming X-32 manufactured by Boeing.

Personally, when the US military decided to give the whole contract to Lockheed Martin by scraping the X-32 and going exclusively with the F-35.

Many including myself felt that they were committing themselves to a very risky proposition without a fall back plan.

As it turned out the F-35 has been the worlds biggest financial black hole in the history of the armament industry…no other program in the history of weaponry has consumed so much money and yielded so very little….

Maybe there is a lesson here somewhere that we can all learn from…never put all your eggs in one place.

Race politics?

August 22, 2016

When funny leaders float the even funnier idea – progress in this day and age can only be gainfully made…by going back to the good olde colonial period when race politics featured so prominently to enable the powers that be to remain in power unchallenged….then that is a very strange way in my opinion to make progress….going backwards to go forward!

Maybe what they should really say is – ‘I just want to make double and triple sure the person who gets voted in is our man! That’s why I have to rewrite the rules of the game.’

Life would be much simpler if people don’t best around the bust…as since less words, brain juice and effort will be needed to explain the rationale for the constitutional change.

It’s OK to be different

August 21, 2016

Not very long while driving thru an estate. I came across a group of men wielding sticks and standing over a frightened child. I promptly stepped out of my car and demanded in an authoritative tone of a landowner – what is the meaning of this?

A man shouted angrily, this mischievous boy claims there is a talking tree in this orchard. Another jumped in, he’s fibbing as usual to scare us all! Yet another who was about to wallop the child screamed out, he’s always making trouble and the whole village has had enough of his nonsense!

I asked in a calm voice – where is this talking tree? Someone in the crowd exclaimed, ‘what the hell are you talking about? Trees don’t talk!’ I asked again, ‘where is this talking tree?’ Everyone looked at each other and soon they all turned to the boy and asked him to lead us all to the tree.

That was when I intoned sarcastically, so no one it seems even knows where the talking tree is?

Soon we were all standing before the majestic sprawling ficus talking tree. The crowd was murmuring. I took off my sunglasses and glared at them menacingly and in a whispering hush told them all sternly, ‘Shaddap! Can’t you see I am having a very important conversation here…are you all deaf!’

Soon the men who were once angry loosened their grips on their sticks and the crowd began to fall so very silent as they all strained their ears….that was when I noticed the boy flashed me a smile….I winked at him.

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‘Some kids are just hardwired differently – they have a high degree of sensitivity. Despite what parents and educators may tell you, it’s not due to a deficiency in character. Neither are they necessarily anti social…it’s just the way they see the world and it’s certainly not something you, me or anyone else has control over….my feel is it’s this aspect that usually causes us great discomfort and anxiety…the idea that we are not able to exert full and total control over the child.

Sensitive children are very different – they’re very curious and perhaps more exaggerated in their reactions to situations. They certainly don’t act the way you’d expect a typical child should in many situations.

To me this is not something to fear. Rather it is something that parents, educators and stake holders need to broaden their knowledge by striving to understand.

Unfortunately, in Singapore, this is often seen as a character flaw.

But to me – it’s just the direct opposite. The reality is Mother Nature is incredibly fair and democratic – and I much prefer to see sensitive children as having a rare and valuable gift that rightly deserves nurturing rather than reinforcing the corrosive idea – why can’t you be like other kids.

As only since sensitive kids are able to experience the world at a higher level of consciousness than average children….that’s why they cry at the drop of the hat….throw tantrums easily and often react in an exaggerated manner….it’s a cry for help….as they don’t understand.

It is NOT them who are dysfunctional or even anti social and incapable of being productive and well intentioned human beings…rather the problem lies with those who expect everyone to be exactly like everyone else….it’s as if these unimaginative people can only see humanity in terms of ONLY black or white without any nuances of grayness – and it is this corrosive attitude that lies at the root of the problem and NOT the child.

Usually all it takes is an adult to sit this kid down and tell him in a brotherly tone, ‘it’s OK to be different…..it’s no big deal.’

In my book…the boy didn’t get charged. Neither did he stand trial or was found guilty…so he’s innocent.

That at least is how civilized and educated folk draw a straight line conclusion…I can’t comment on how pariahs determine guilt and innocence because experience informs me quite reliably for this inferior quality of men anything goes!

What’s the point of insinuating that master Ben did this or that in the lift with the girl….in the absence of a trial…all that is speculation, conjecture and not cross examined evidence – what does it really prove? What is the goal? Who benefits from all this?

Again I cannot comment on pariahs! Because they just take and run without ever bothering to interrogate the facts and evidence…that’s why they’re pariahs.

After all you’re not talking to one of your gullible robots who would readily lap up whatever gibberish you throw out…we all know, kids get sexually aroused for all sorts of crazy reasons…there is no malevolence there…no evil even…and certainly no presumption of guilt…to me, it’s just very much run of the mill part and parcel of growing pains….it just means they’re very human like you and me.

Again I can’t comment on pariahs…that other lowly and inferior category of men who confect all sorts of delusional ideas concerning their sobriety, probity, moral rectitude etc etc.

Like I said, they’re kids…compared to me Ben was probably quite well adjusted. I used to get a hard on whenever I looked at trees in the moment of youth….never fucked any them though, not in public parks at least…may have molested a few along with a couple of girls when we were playing ‘please show me yours and I might consider doing the same’ in the kiddies sandbox…what is the big deal?

Use your cheebai mentality lah, grow some brains and a set of guli’s while you are it…..after all it’s been such a very long wait for so very little that seems to raise more questions than supply answers!

Above all let sleeping dogs lie…this has been a tragedy in more ways than I care to elaborate. You have absolutely no idea how much I am holding back.

As for the coroner – he should stick ONLY to the facts of the case and not sully his reportage with unsubstantiated innuendos and spurious character assassination conjectures…because that is precisely what it is (I am so sorry to burst your bubble) when a boy is not charged…did not stand trial or even found guilty by a court of law….then by every definition of the law…he’s presumed to be innocent.

It is, what it is….doesn’t even matter what he admitted too…as kids admit to all sorts of things for 1,001 reasons…he could be scared…hungry…cold… or maybe he was just dying for a pee…that’s why they are different laws for juveniles and adults.

Besides the poor boy is dead…he can’t even defend his good name…as for his parents, they have the arduous task to find the courage and hope to go on, the best they can.

Try to be a gentlemen…try to be honorable…try always to do the right thing….try!

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‘You want to cover your ass…that’s your bum wot, so it’s your business lah! But don’t do it at the expense of those who don’t have the means, opportunity or presence to defend themselves…in my book that is unacceptable – as even should you seem to ‘win’ – the serious men of this world will exchange looks of disapproval and probably label you a pariah…as your methods are devious, cunning and nefarious…that is another way of saying…you don’t know right from wrong…you cannot be entrusted to do the right and honorable thing!

Once the serious men of this world label you a pariah. You are well and truly finished…as they wouldn’t even talk to you. Without communication, nothing is possible and even the simplest things in life become laborious.

Please learn this early on in life to avoid complications.’

Rambutan Blues

August 20, 2016

Rambutans seem to be in full bloom…they’re two months late, but from the looks of it, they’ve finally made it safely to the other side despite the crippling drought.

Must have been due a spell of cold we have been experiencing from the East these past few weeks…Maybe….perhaps it’s the unusually cold morns….hard to say…who really knows.

The fruits this year are unusually small. The seed un characteristically larger than usual, the flesh meager and the skin tough like hide – this is nature’s way of preparing for the worse, she’s saying, ‘Be prepared for hard times ahead farmer…if you think it’s been hard. You have seen nothing yet.’

That’s how it is when one knows how to talk to trees…they tell you things.

Nature never lies…she’s not like man who likes to hide behind a false front and pretend to be someone whose he’s not. When the going gets tough…she produces more seeds to guarantee the survival of her species…it’s a very matter of fact thingy for nature to be so straightforward about the whole business of survival. She’s never ashamed to stake a claim on her right to exist in this planet under her own terms.

Man I reckon can learn a lot from trees…..if only we just still our minds and prick our ears to hear what they have to say.’

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‘Rambutan is a medicinal gift to the tribesmen – when the skin of rambutan is dried, it can be boiled to cure dysentery and lower a high fever. Whole rambutans can rid the gut of parasites and it’s good for a spot of the runs. Deep in the jungle, young tribes women would dare young braves to pluck the highest rambutan fruits when they are in season…the tribes people believe when these the seeds of these fruits are dried for four days and pounded into a fine powder, all it takes a tea spoon mixed with honey and water to render the complexion youthful and supple.’

My Boots

August 19, 2016

I’ve been getting a ton of mail concerning my boots – so here goes, it’s Danner, Fort Lewis 200 Grammes Gore Tex insulate…now before you rush off to place an order online.

This is a technical military spec zero nonsense kit…it’s something that you would really only wear under mission critical…not exactly something that I would recommend to the casual hiker or weekend Bukit Timah warrior. As it’s heavy and chunky….besides it’s very very pricey and you could just as well make do with a pair of budget Solomon’s or even Timberland.

So don’t go and waste money unnecessarily….

Due to the cost penalties and overkill factor…I seriously don’t recommend this pair of boots.

The only reason why I happen to have a pair is because I work in the field…that’s my office.

The other question is some of you (especially the perceptive) probably noticed it’s Gore Tex lined and you’re asking it’s already waterproofed treated…so why bother with dubbin.

Well the short answer is Gore Tex has an irritating expiry date…it’s hardly forever…as it tends to wear off eventually depending on frequency of use – in my case within six months…besides the first line of defense against water is the exposed leather, so that should ALWAYS be dubbed. Even then experience informs me there is no such thing as a waterproof boot…it doesn’t exist. All one can hope to do is mitigate by wearing technical socks, which in my opinion is a waste of $ – if you want 100% water repellant nothing beats a dedicated pair of Wellies…but the issue there is traction and fit and comfort.

So Dubbin always needs to be used.

Some frontier men recommend application should be sparing….but field experience informs me, one can never apply enough as leather tends to soak it up quite readily.

Does it interfere with breatheability…of course, but then ALL boots are hot when compared to slippers…so get use to it lah!

Hope this helps.

Keep walking.

(1) Develop a keen interest in the weather. Hopefully when you do that…you will only talk about the weather all the time and very little else.

(2) learn to whistle while walking…this way neither you or anyone else will ever be inclined to talk about serious subjects.

(3) Invest in a Nespresso coffee machine. As the guilt of spending so much $ on a lousy coffee maker will effectively stop you from ever visiting the local kopitiam to chit chat about serious subjects.

(4) Play Pokemon Go. This way hopefully you will develop a obsessive and compulsive habit of only trying to find Pokemon on the go and that guarantees you will never ever have the time or inclination to discuss serious subjects ever again.

(5) Make friends with your local Kalang Guni uncle. This way you will only read old newspapers and this will mean even should you eventually discuss serious subjects…the case is already liao already…so you’re always out of the danger zone as you are completely out of touch with current affairs.

(6) Try to get into the good habit of cultivating an eating disorder. This way it is impossible to ever talk about serious topics as your mouth is always full with fish balls all the time.

(7) Develop a split personality. As contempt of court only applies if you are discussing serious subjects with others and NEVER to imaginary friends.

(8) Cultivate bad breathing techniques whenever conversing with others – that way you will always be a mumbler and since no one can ever understand what you’re trying to convey…it’s impossible to talk about serious subjects.

(9) Take up scuba diving as well…as it’s impossible to conduct a coherent conversation under water.

(10) Sleep with a mosquito coil every night…this is the most reliable way to dumb down your sense of smell to smoke.

Good luck! May the force be with you!

Landsraad

August 18, 2016

It is not possible to petition the Laanstrad or ‘Landsraad’ directly. That is not the correct protocol. As since time immemorial, filling a petition has always been a very convulsed and convoluted process of appeal after appeal first beginning at the lowest level of the Sysselraad.

It will be a very long process involving many layers of secret negotiations beginning first with the spacing and mineral Guilds.

Many of those who once played the game are no longer kids. Many are now industrialist and captains of industry….I have to proceed cautiously using the weirding way to feel my way deftly across this labyrinth of intrigue….if I am to succeed in my mission – not everyone I expect will necessarily share my negative views concerning the TPP…that is unrealistic…some I feel will support it for what they feel to be very valid reasons. That is only to expected.

They have to be won over with diplomacy and logic.

Nonetheless, I remain confident a superior logic will eventually overcome an inferior one.

It has been many many years since the man called Darkness last walked into the game…..many would have read about his many colorful exploits in our Bible….the Book of Ages.

But since nearly 2,000 space years has elapsed since my last appearance in Primus Aldentes Prime…I expect, I would only be a distant figure to most in this long and arduous journey thru this new and exciting virtual realm…nonetheless, I remain very hopeful in this mission.

We will win!

What I do consider ‘quite astonishing’ however is how some ‘leaders’ actually believe it’s even possible and sensible to stop people from thinking and voicing out their valid opinions in this day and age in a timely manner…of course, these half baked leaders will supply all sorts of cockememe reasons for their new legislation….these people should consider doing mankind a great favor by stepping back into a time machine (please make it a one way ticket lah) journey back to the quaint olde days of candles, sail ships, slavery, hand written books and ivory dentures…now if that medieval attitude is not very very astonishing in this day and age…then I really don’t know what is!

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‘Want to stop people from thinking and talking…just say so lah. No need to come up with cock stories of how this may influence people’s decision making process. If that were really true, then everyone from teachers to ministers in Singapore should be bubble warped and put into a sound proof chambers twelve hours a day….what kind of pariah dog logic might that be!’

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