16 April 2010

Background music

I heard Chopin's 'Mazukas' as background music in Kinokuniya last night. Wondrous. It is certainly much better than the R&B crap that one hears in Borders.

Meanwhile, the selection of books in Borders is getting worse and worse. Vampire-romance porn, the likes of Malcolm Gladwell, more Freaknonomics, and also those how to get rich books. Oh no!

The military section has shrunk from ten shelves to a miserly three shelves, now mostly filled with American triumphalist stuff like 'The Pacific'.

The history section has shrunk significantly as has the science section. Likewise, the science fiction and fantasy section are now filled with vampire-romance porn or Star Wars novels. Terrible.

The music section in Borders is now nonexistent. Borders used to have a great classical section, second only to the one in HMV. Today? Nonexistent. Likewise, the selection of music CDs used to be good, including many Metropolis Records, Projekt Records, 4AD releases. Now? It's mostly Lady Gaga and R&B. I have pretty much given up on Borders except that it is just about the only bookstore open late that I can browse at.

The only saving grace about Borders these days is that it is open till midnight on weekends. Kinokuniya needs longer operating hours. It needs to open till midnight.

15 April 2010


Pencil doodle. Five minutes.

Illustration Friday theme: Linked

A dream of a waterfall

Pigment ink sketch. This was based on a dream I had about a month or two ago. I had swiftly drawn a pencil sketch of the layout then. Eventually, I started the ink aspects, bit by bit.

I will be considering a digital painting eventually. I would have to consider techniques and plan carefully. Perhaps, a painting utilising mixed media. Digital waters and digital oils.

14 April 2010


Pigment ink sketch. The pencil outline for the landscape was completed two years ago. The other aspects were only completed this week.

13 April 2010


Pigment ink sketch. The pencil outline for the landscape was first completed two years back.

Dead snake

My cat is the protector of my home. He kills intruders. Here are images of the snake killed by Mimi, my cat yesterday. The snake measured about 40 cm or so in length.

The area near the head had been ravaged. Horrific open wounds.

12 April 2010

Snakes, cats, football, digital painting and what not

My cat had caught a variety of animals and insects over the last two years, this morning, he outdid himself. Mimi caught and killed a 40-cm long snake. He was proud of it and stood by his trophy, showing it to whoever would see it.

Meanwhile, two weeks of excellent footballing news continued. Manure had gotten dumped out of the Champions League by a resurgent Bayern Munch, which was excellent news, then, they stumbled by drawing against the middling Blackburn Rovers. Much earlier, they had succumbed to the Chelsea onslaught which was, of course, splendid. Too bad for Sir Red Nose. And that bit about 'typical of Germans', hilarious!

"There was no threat and the referee wasn't going to do anything about it until they surrounded him. It is typical of Germans. They are like that."

What a bad loser. Hopefully, Manure (Manchester United) ends this season with only the League Cup to show.

On digital painting, my problem is the time and energy needed to develop techniques and best practices. In terms of opportunity costs, I have prioritised reading above that. I have also put drawing in a traditional sense above digital means. I have only so much time and energy.

Just as I was finishing this entry, some lady from some agency representing AIA just called, 'Hello, I am Sugiano (or something) from XXX agency representing AIA..' I said, 'I'm not interested' and hung up. It is not worth my time listening to their prepared scripts and their reactions to negative responses, they have scripted returns too.

Forest trail

Pigment ink drawing. This was drawn two years ago in pencils, I finished it with ink last week. It was almost a complete piece then. Line drawing.

11 April 2010


Digital oil. Software. The image was drawn in pigment ink, scanned and then digitally painted. My third digital painting ever. First one in five years or so.

Two images. The first was darkened. It was what that looked like when I was painting on the Wacom. After switching LCDs, this was the result. I would have to adjust the monitor colours soon.

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Forest trail

Pigment ink drawing. A pencil sketch was made two years ago. Last week, I finished it with ink. A line drawing.

10 April 2010

I have been drawing cartoon dogs, can you believe it? Cartoons of Shetland sheep dogs. Heh.

The Well in the Forest

Pigment ink drawing. This was first drawn in outline about two years back with lighting and textures defined. I put it off for a long time. I did not get to complete it until last week.

09 April 2010

Chinese Warfare IX

'Fighting Techniques of the Oriental World A.D. 1200 to 1860: Equipment, combat skills and tactics' by Michael E. Haskew, Christer Jorgensen, Chris McNab, Eric Niderost, Rob S. Rice. The sections on Chinese warfare is sparse in this volume. It's mostly about the Mongols, Japanese and others. The Chinese? Defeated city-dwellers!

'Medieval Chinese Warfare 300-900' by David A. Graff.

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08 April 2010


Pigment ink sketch. This had been in my sketchbook for a while now, well, since 2008. I finally finished it last week. Like the preceding piece, this is a scene of a lake with a mysterious building on an island.

07 April 2010


Pencil doodle. I was just messing around with pencils while I was in the office reviewing some documents. Heh. Well, I liked the slopes and the trees and I could have expanded further. Anyway, back to work. Haha.

Midnight dip

Illustration Friday theme: Dip.

Pencil doodle. This was done during lunch hour in the office. Heh.


Pigment ink sketch. This was swiftly sketched in pencil in 2008 and finally the proper ink rendering was done in March of this year. I decided on a light touch instead of one with more textures as the place is fairly open without much shade.

06 April 2010

Clarke Quay

It is pleasant sitting by the riverside and enjoying the breeze. I was there one afternoon with my sketchbook.

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Blue skies, little fluffy white clouds, hot day. So dreary.
"I couldn't recognise my photograph
Me, I disconnect from you."

'Me, I disconnect from you' by Gary Numan

05 April 2010

Courtesy Lion

This little forlorn figure, a now forgotten mascot from the old government courtesy campaign was spotted at Hill Street one night.

I am doubtful if campaigns such as this one, exhorting people to be courteous really helps. There are numerous ugly Singaporeans out there, ungracious, angry, bitter, etc.

As for behavioural modification...

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"We are turning words into different shades of blue
While we hide from all the things that cannot come true.."

'Resurrection' by God Module

04 April 2010

Chinese Warfare VII

Given the amount of material on samurai warfare out there in English, I would really like to see more volumes on warfare in China, and please, not another volume on the Mongols! Enough! Five thousands years of military history and every other book on warfare in China in English are about Mongols! What about studies on the conduct of warfare during the Warring States era? What about the scholarly reconstructions of campaigns and battles of the Three Kingdoms era? A book on the Manchu banner armies?

I would like to see detailed reconstructions of well-known Chinese battles. The study of these reconstructions should include order of battle, logistics, casualty figures, leadership, battle plans, equipment (arms and armour), and more. Good illustrated volumes would be greatly welcome.

I would also like to see significant military campaigns of that era studied through rigourous lenses which should include grand strategy, operational planning, geopolitical realities, and more.

I would also like to see studies tracing the development of Chinese arms and armour.

Lastly, I really wish that Western scholars would abandon the Giles-Wade and adopt the pinyin system. I find that the Giles-Wade system does make for very confusing reading. If not, at least provide both transliterations, side by side and not in a glossary.

03 April 2010

Man Utd 1 Chelsea 2

YESYESYES! Manure defeated in a top of the league match! What a week. Two Manure defeats. I hope Bayern Munich can complete the set. Whee!

There was no effect without cause

Pangloss taught metaphysico-theologico-cosmo-nigology. He could prove to wonderful effect that there was no effect without cause, and that, in this best of all possible worlds, His Lordship, the Baron's castle was the finest of castles and the Ladyship the best of all possible baronesses.'

It is demonstratable,' he would say, 'that things cannot be other than as they are: for, since everything is made to serve an end, everything is necessarily for the best of ends. Observe how noses were formed to support spectacles, therefore we have spectacles. Legs are clearly devised for the wearing of breeches, therefore we wear breeches. Stones were formed to be hewn and made into castles, hence his Lordship's beautiful castle, for the greatest baron in the province must perforce be the best housed; and since pigs were made to be eaten, we eat pork all year around; consequently, those who argued that all is well have been talking nonsense; they should have said that all is for the best.

'From 'Candide' by Voltaire.

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I was at Square 2 and Novena Square earlier this morning, doing some errands. It was humid and hot out there.

I will probably head down to the library later today.

At Tanglin Tree

This was a dinner last year with old friends at the Tanglin Tree at Tanglin Road. There was once a charming little house which housed the Tanglin Post Office here but it had been torn down decades ago and replaced by a modern structure which houses Friven & Co., the Tanglin Tree, HSBC, and a few other shops today.

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02 April 2010

An evening of books and drawing

I met Leon at Borders this evening. Later, I met Charles. I picked up a few volumes by A. C. Grayling at Borders. I had enjoyed his writing in the Guardian and I had wanted to explore more of his thought.

I was also at Kinokuniya where I picked up some Sherlock Holmes volumes.

I also finished four sketches and I would be putting them up in the near future.

Chinese Warfare VIII

As good ol' Brian rightly pointed out, tactics does not exist in isolation from strategy.

In Brian's own words on Facebook:

"I'm surprised that you haven't cited three of the four seminal texts to understanding Chinese warfare. Art of war is obvious, but what about Three Kingdoms, Water Margin or the 36 Strategies?"

"How can you understand the tactics without understanding the underlying strategy?"

The Three Kingdoms. This is easily the most celebrated period in Chinese warfare. The most well-known. Many people of Chinese descent would be able to tell specific stories from that period. There is, of course, Records of the Three Kingdoms and the Romance of the Three Kingdoms, both of which are worth examining.

The Water Margin. This consisted of a series of tales, some totalling seventy while others totalled a hundred and a hundred and twenty. These tales told of different campaigns by the group of bandits to put right the empire.

36 Stratagems. This, of course, consisted of thirty-six Chinese idioms which had specific events behind them, some dating back two thousand years. The Warring States Period. Some are on the level of strategy while others are battlefield tactics.

01 April 2010

An Open Letter to DuneMUD

An letter to all DuneMUD players by Dan aka Paradox expresses his thoughts on the game.

Here are a few quotes:

"It blows my mind that the goal of half of the playerbase when engaging in PVE combat is to actually keep their enemy alive as long as possible."

"Most of the issues are a result of horrible decisions made by other people long before Mreh, Clutch or myself had the ability to stop them."

"The oft raised issue of “balance“ is hilariously oversimplified by players with no real insight into the mechanics of things. Consider for a moment that Dune was created in 1993, and since that time has been staffed by volunteers of varying age, skill, nationality, and goals. "

"Presently exactly one person has a shell account: Mreh. It is also a non-root shell account. What this means is that we can’t easily do anything especially advanced. I can’t search the mudlib (thousands and thousands of files) for where old code is used or not used. We can’t set up test instances of the MUD or upgrade the driver easily."

and the most important bit:

"There are more issues, there are likely more fixes. All of them require tough chocies. All of them require a metric fuckload of boring work."

Is DuneMUD on the threshold? Possibly. I have not played for a few years. The DuneMUD that I know somewhat and even then not well is that of the mid-nineties. Even then, my knowledge of that game is limited. It will take me a while to pen my thoughts. Dan has raised important issues. I do not know as to the audience and if there will be any replies to his thoughts.

*Yes, the fonts in this post are messed up. I cut and pasted the quotations. It is not worth the time doing something about.

At Fish & Co and Bakerzin at Suntec City

This was a dinner with old friends who were old colleagues. We had dinner at Fish & Co. and Bakerzin last year and we would usually meet up a few times a year.

We had last been in the same office over a decade ago, suffering the same frustrations. All the same, it was great when one finally left that hotbed of politics and favourites. A most 'Dilbertesque' workplace. I remembered a pre-meeting to prepare for a meeting. It was surreal.

Time had flown then and in an eyeblink, it had been more than a decade since we all left.

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