Before I was a photographer or a writer, I was an artist. I drew incessantly when I was a child, and hoped to become a graphics illustrator when I grew up. It’s a long story as usual, but that didn’t happen.
Over the years, my drawing ability became dormant from disuse, but the arrival of the Surface Pro 3 got the artistic juices flowing again. For those who don’t know, I am in charge of the Surface consumer business in Singapore but I make it a point never to write about my day-to-day work on this site. I’ll make an exception here because of what I’ve been doing on the SP3 outside of working hours – rekindling my love for drawing.
Much has been written about the SP3’s ability as a drawing tablet for professional or amateur artists. And it’s all true – the combination of the 12″ touch screen, 256-levels-of-sensitivity Surface Pen and software like Fresh Paint, Adobe Photoshop and Autodesk Sketchbook Pro – makes digital artwork both affordable, convenient and easy.
One of the most exciting bits about being a motorcyclist is having a staggering range of motorcycle models to choose from. My fellow biker friends and I were having a recent discussion lately on bike shopping and I told them that my number one criteria was Seat Height.
Yep, it can be the sexiest or most powerful bike on earth, but I would never ride a bike where my feet are barely touching the ground when the bike is stationary.
I had an interesting time this past week listening to different conversations and encountering some unique situations. They triggered some existential and day-to-day-living questions in my head and I thought I’d write them down to mull on them further.
1. What defines a person’s status or position in society? His job, his skills, his knowledge, his attitude towards life, the way he treats others, the way he asks to be treated, his wealth (or his idea of wealth), his possessions, his impact on others, his looks, his conversations or his family?
2. Do other people often define us in their own terms? ie. Do people pigeon-hole other people based on what they can understand of themselves?
3. What does it mean to do one’s best? When it impresses other people or when it impresses oneself?
4. When a pastor preaches at his flock and tells them not to live the rat race and live a materialistic, hedonistic life, how many of them actually realize that they’re the ones being described?
5. Do people realize when they have become followers, and living their lives according to how someone defines it for them? Does this in turn lead to the creation of the “status quo”, when enough people believe in a certain definition of “the life they ought to accept” and then actually go fulfill it?
6. Should people live their lives in fear of what might happen, or in the hope of what might happen?
7. Which makes more sense – to lead a life solving problems created by others, or to lead a life solving problems created by oneself?
The last one is the question I’m most interested in.
I was shaving my head in the bathroom today when I realized that it has been 18 years since my hair started to thin out. It really feels like a lifetime ago when I first became terribly distraught about becoming a balding man at the tender age of 21.
My university days was the period which I had to grapple with this issue head-on (ok, bad pun) and I decided not to take any medication as it was both expensive and not permanent in restoring my hair. I also had the support of my girlfriend, and now my wife Goy, who liked my lame jokes better than my departing hair.
As I twisted the throttle of the Ducati Scrambler to overtake a few more cars, I thought to myself : “This is a really nice urban assault vehicle.” I was taking Ducati’s latest motorcycle for a quick 30 minute spin and I felt like this bright yellow bee zipping from one lane to another with minimal effort.
I rode through a few curvy roads, took it onto CTE and TPE expressways, went up a kerb or two (ahem) to make a phone call on the pavement, waited at a few traffic lights and it was all dandy.
The Scrambler feels like an unusual combination of the different bikes that I have ridden before – it looks like the 185cc army recce bike where I began riding in 1996, it has the slim tank of a 125cc learner bikes at BBDC, it has some of the torque-y character of my previous Ducati Monster 1100 Evo and when moving off, even whirrs a little like the venerable Honda 400cc Super Four.
One of the more encouraging trends I have noticed lately is that more motorcyclists are now wearing dedicated riding jackets on Singapore roads. Despite the sweltering hot weather, bikers are increasingly aware of that you shouldn’t go on the road in thin tee-shirts and shorts, because you would never know when you’re going to get thrown off the bike.
Recently, a reader asked me where to buy riding jackets and what price they should pay, so I thought I might as well do a quick primer here. Apart from a helmet, a pair of gloves, knee guards, a motorcycle jacket is necessary for basic biker protection.
My son likes to ask me very pragmatic questions during meal times like “Why does this fried rice at Han’s cost twice that of the hawker center version?” or “Why doesn’t the cook earn more than the cashier, according to this job advertisement?”
I explain to him as much as I can, covering the logic of high rentals and business survival, because I always believe that if I don’t tell him what he wants to know today, I might never get a chance tomorrow.
He and his sister still don’t believe that I could just die tomorrow from an unpredictable event, but they haven’t gone to many funeral wakes yet. I already exceeded my lifetime quota when I did crime news stories and put my old friend’s coffin into the ground when he was 29.
But sometimes, this whole train of thought also gets me thinking in a meta-sorta way – do we persistently think about the situations we face, or the situations that we are currently operating within? Why do many people accept their scenarios the way they are? Do they ask questions about the obvious things they see? Are we truly awake as we go to work or school every day?
Recently, I read this article “How To Make The Next Great Motorcycle Blog” by ex-motorcycle journalist Wes Siler and he’s right, it’s really difficult to find or to create good motorcycle content. And no, I don’t intend to do so because it’s more fun to ride my Ducati than to write about bikes.
But I do discuss motorcycles with my friends frequently, and the motorcycle world is one filled with technological wonders and non-stop advancements. Since the first motorcycle was invented, man has been finding every way to create a two-wheeler that will go faster, look sexier, growl louder, lean lower or all of the above.
Many bikers don’t bother about their bikes – they just ride it to work daily and let it rot in the hot sun. Then there are those of us who care about our works of art and science. It’s not just about cleaning and polishing the bike, but learning about the new models and classic vintages on the road that make it such a great experience of being part of the community.
So once in a while, when the mood strikes, or when I’m tired of the daily grind, I shall write about motorcycles in this journal format. It’s not going to be terribly technical or hopelessly vapid, just sharing some two-wheeled goodness. So here goes another attempt at consistent content (and apologies in advance, I’m just not good at that after 10 years of blogging here):