夢裡明明有六趣 The six realms



In my dream there clearly were the (sensory, tactile) six realms,
But upon wakening there was only emptiness without even the grand cosmos (lokāḥ).


Wake up, 坤.


Hemlock cup, poison’d chalice, Prometheus Bound. And an addled spider

Very delightful ‘conversations’ recently with a special someone from the wonder years.

After all these years, she still likes my writing…

Of ‘resonating echoes from the past’ and ‘the gossamer stuff of dreams’,
of Socrates and hemlock cups and poison’d chalices,
of irritating gadflies and addled spiders…

:) At risk of being accused of ‘doth protest too much’, in its original medieval meaning or modern misunderstood artifice, I humbly demur…
Either way, methinks there is actually danger in a too fevered imagination unable to restrain itself, deliriously spinning an ethereal world of words thoughts dreams, Unbounded.
Yes, some delight may be had of a bawdy bard of dreamworlds; but alas, the pied piper of Dreams plays and builds only an ephemeral world which cannot lasts…and in the end, what awaits such Dreamers can only be the anguished poison’d chalice.
So, ere I go, let me raise my hemlock cup and propose a toast:
to gadflies and spiders, to gods and heroes…for all we are at the end, are Prometheus Bound.

Am happy…
a happy little addled spider.

一整個宇宙,換一顆紅豆 An entire universe for a single red bean

Ahh, I have been swamped by the songs music lyrics, lovely old cards, silent unsent letters, youthful and idealistic, naive but earnest words, and the tender feelings and memories, of the things and events and people of my school-time days…
梁靜茹 – 情歌 Fish Leong – Love Song:



時光是琥珀 淚一滴滴 被反鎖
情書再不朽 也磨成沙漏
青春的上游 白雲飛走 蒼狗與海鷗
閃過的念頭 潺潺的溜走

命運好幽默 讓愛的人都沉默
一整個宇宙 換一顆紅豆
回憶如困獸 寂寞太久 而漸漸溫柔
放開了拳頭 反而更自由

慢動作 繾綣膠卷 重播默片 定格一瞬間
我們在 告別的演唱會 說好不再見

你寫給我 我的第一首歌
你和我 十指緊扣 默寫前奏

還好我有 我這一首情歌
輕輕的 輕輕哼著 哭著笑著
我的 天長地久

命運好幽默 讓愛的人都沉默
一整個宇宙 換一顆紅豆
回憶如困獸 寂寞太久 而漸漸溫柔
放開了拳頭 反而更自由

長鏡頭 越拉越遠 越來越遠 事隔好幾年
我們在 懷念的演唱會 禮貌地吻別

你寫給我 我的第一首歌
你和我 十指緊扣 默寫前奏

還好我有 我這一首情歌
輕輕的 輕輕哼著 哭著笑著
我的 天長地久

陪我唱歌 清唱你的情歌
捨不得 短短副歌 心還熱著

還好我有 我下一首情歌
生命宛如 靜靜的 相擁的河
永遠 天長地久

Love Song

Time is like amber, sealing (fossilizing) forever, each and every teardrop
But even the most everlasting of love letters, will grind away into the sands of the hourglass
Amid the idealism of Youth struggling and swimming against the tide, the white clouds sail away, with the black dog and seagull*(things always change, with unexpected outcomes)
Flashes of inspiration, shall dribble and slip away

Fate is so humourous, letting Lovers remain silent
An entire universe, in exchange for a single red bean
Memories are like a caged wild beast, lonely for too long, and has gradually turned gentle
Releasing your clenched fist, shall instead set you free

Slow motion (of the past), latches firmly onto the filmtape (memories), replaying again this silent movie, the shot freezes in that moment
We promised each other, at that farewell concert, never to say ‘See you again’

What you wrote for me, this my very first song
You and I, ten fingers interlaced tightly together, a hopeful silent prelude
But then what happened after…

At least I have, this my very own love song
Humming lightly, so lightly, while crying and laughing
At my, forever ever after

Fate is so humourous, letting Lovers remain silent
An entire universe, in exchange for a single red bean
Memories are like a caged wild beast, lonely for too long, and has gradually turned gentle
Releasing your clenched fist, shall instead set you free

This retreating long range shot, pulls farther and farther away, passes further and further away, many years have gone by since that moment
At that memorable concert, we timorously kissed each other goodbye

What you wrote for me, this my very first song
You and I, ten fingers interlaced tightly together, a hopeful silent prelude
But then what happened after…

At least I have, this my very own love song
Humming lightly, so lightly, while crying and laughing
At my, forever ever after

Sing with me, sing out this your love song
Reluctant for it to end so quickly, after only such a short refrain, the heart/feelings still so warm
Yet it must come to an end

At least I will have, this my next love song
Life wends and meanders, quietly along, like intertwining rivers
Always, forever ever after

(Goodbye, forever ever after)

[*from the lines of the Du Fu poem 《可叹》, the later paraphrased aphorism 白雲蒼狗 white cloud black dog]

Memories of the 吉他社/guitar club, and Project Toccata-the synthesizer keyboard and electronic music club in RJC…

I swore to myself, I would paint, write and play up a storm for her…
The beautiful invitation card to her 17th birthday party and farewell party:
“You are invited to Angullia Park on July…”
but the actual party, I chickened out of attending.

The letter I wrote for her which I wanted to give to her at the airport, but in the end, kept tightly shoved down my pocket. I was heartbroken she had to leave, cutting short her JC studies in Spore to leave for California, to go to prep school and start her college studies directly.

She would always be my Lin Yan-mei 蔺燕梅.
It’s that time of the year again…
How have you been?
[And she is lovelier than even the very pretty 翁兹蔓, model and actress in the music video above]

相思紅豆, 月如鉤 ‘Mutual love beans’, Moon hook

Good poem.




-劉大白 (1880-1932)

相思紅豆 or 相思豆, transliteration: “mutual love beans”. Long a symbol of love in chinese culture.
Known as the seeds/beads of the Sandalwood tree:



王菲 – 紅豆 Faye Wong – Red bean:

Partial lyrics:


還沒為你把紅豆 熬成纏綿的傷口
然後一起分享 會更明白 相思的哀愁
還沒好好的感受 醒著親吻的溫柔
可能在我左右 你才追求 孤獨的自由

Red Bean
Lyrics: Lin Xi

Have yet to grind down the red beans, brew them into a mutually sticky love wound
To be shared between you and me, so we’d better understand, the pain and melancholy of yearning
Have yet to thoroughly feel, the tenderness of a lucid sober kiss
Perhaps only when you are next to me, will you be seeking, the freedom that comes from being alone

Faye Wong is so beautiful…
And Lin Xi is a poetic genius. Lin Xi channeling/replying 劉大白.
My old post on Moon hooks:

O Captain! My Captain!

Dead Poets Society – Oh Captain, My Captain:

One of the most hackneyed, and also most inspiring movie scenes (for my generation).

And that scene of heated confrontation and barely concealed contempt between teachers, and between teacher and students, played out in real life. In the offices of my school’s PE Dept and the principal’s office, between the principal and the Head of PE Dept looking to shut down our canoeing team, and our canoeing teacher-in-charge, who was then going through a personal life crisis and breakdown, and who was browbeaten into submission and silence. And our team captain, who boldly stepped forth into the fray to fight and plead on our behalf.

Our day of redemption finally came on that Monday morning school assembly following the senior team’s stunning, totally unexpected and historic win at the Nationals. The school has a tradition of formally announcing the winning achievements of our athletes and sports teams on Monday morning school assemblies, and for first place winners, the athlete or team will go on stage to take a bow before the entire school and receive their recognition and applause (for our trophy sports teams like rugby, if they win first place, the whole school even gets a day off).

That particular Monday morning, the principal grudgingly read out his announcements, including our canoeing team’s first-ever first-place win. He then promptly wanted to end assembly right after. The team had been told beforehand that due to a heavy schedule of staff meetings that morning, there would be no time for us to go on stage and take a bow.

But then someone called out for the team to go on stage and take the traditional bow. It was Mr T, a wiry and affable PE teacher who had been friendly to the canoeists and sympathetic to our many difficulties. The call was taken up and repeated a few times from the assembled crowd: this time, our friends from the swim team and water-polo team. The principal hesitated. Then, some words and gestures from the senior staff standing by the side.

Eventually, the principal relented. The canoeing team (only the seniors, for it really was their victory to savor) was finally called up on stage, and led by our team captain HK, lined up and took their bow and deserving applause from the school.

Oh Captain, My Captain.

Canoeing & O Captain! My Captain!

Great book recommendation by Taichiseal of the rowing book, The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown. And the wonderful excerpts from the book.

Which led me to fond memories of school-time experience on my canoeing team, and of an inspiring ‘O Captain! My Captain!’.


Don C said…

TS, this is good stuff. Truly inspiring.

I am reminded of my JC canoeing and dragon boat team back in the 90s. RJC was a latecomer to the sport of canoeing and dragon-boating, and when I joined the team in my junior year, we had only taken part in 3 or 4 Schools Nationals Competitions then, and with only out-of-podium results. And the pecking order even showed in the ordering of the canoe storage sheds for the different schools at MacRitchie Reservoir, the venue then for canoeing training and competition:
Shed #1 was taken by NJC, the reigning champion and canoeing/dragonboat powerhouse which had dominated the sport ever since it debuted.
Sheds #2 and #3 were taken by Hwa Chong and VJC, then the only schools to seriously threaten NJC, and which had managed to score some first place finishes in some years.
Sheds #4 and #5 went to ACJC and St Andrew’s, the perennial bridesmaids trying to get into the top three podium results.
And RJC got Shed #6, the last and grimiest lot at the end of the row.

And the numbering of the sheds mattered, with shed #1 being closest to the water and the little jetty which was the prescribed point to load the canoes onto the water, and the trail leading from the sheds to the jetty was at least about 500m long, and with uneven steps going up and down some slopes.

Imagine hoisting single and double canoes onto your shoulders/back and making several trips (cuz sometimes our girls simply have no strength left after a strenuous training session, and we guys of course gotta help them. But the seniors soon put a stop to that…) to and from the shed to the water and back for every training session. And all the while we are sixth and last in the queue and with the narrow walkway/space in front of the sheds, sometimes we have to stand and wait there with a double canoe on our shoulders while NJC/Hwa Chong/VJC/ACJC/Saints people jam up the tiny space washing down and putting away their canoes.
[But after a while we stopped complaining: there were a couple of really pretty girls from the ACJC and Saints teams. We would grab every chance we could to walk pass their sheds and try to catch a glance at them, and ahem, to try and catch some glances at us…


Photo credit – Flickr

But enough of that; what I really wanted to say was about the inspiring stuff.

At that time, canoeing/dragon-boating was way, way down the prestige and pecking order within RJC; we were about as far away as can be from the adulation and accolades given to RI/RJ’s traditional trophy sports of rugby, track & field, swimming, tennis (which I am sure you are aware of). Which also meant a corresponding lack of support from the school. Case in point: while the rugby, track and swimming teams had special time-slots for the school weights-room apportioned for their exclusive use, we had none. Our coach and teacher-in-charge was nonexistent and AWOL for almost all of our training sessions. In fact, the pudgy principal Mr Lee FS seized upon this last point and wanted to shut down the canoeing team and remove it as an offered ECA from the school.

It took the sheer perseverance and dogged determination of my seniors (the Year Twos, I was Year One freshman) in the canoeing team, especially the unifying and inspiring leadership of our team captain Hoon Kiat, to keep the sport intact within the school, and to train towards the Nationals.

I still remember his ‘pitch’ during my freshman orientation week when he and his team members were trying to recruit freshmen into the junior team. He said if we joined, we would be joining a sport and team overlooked by most of the school, disdained and scorned by the other sports teams, and despised by the Head of PE dept Mr K and the school principal, Mr Lee FS. We would have no coach to train and guide us, no teacher-in-charge to fight for us and protect us.

And we would train and train and train, every single day:
at the reservoir, at Kallang river, on the cross-country trails, on the old Roman rings at MacRitchie near the sheds, in the weights-room, on the track, at the pull-up bar next to the school track (which became known as the Canoeists’ Corner. We had to do 100 pull-ups everyday, counting from the time we got to school till before we leave at the end of the day. We had a buddy system to make sure we don’t cheat. We were at our Corner all the time.)…

And on top of all that, HK said we also have to make sure we score 4 As for our A-Levels, to prove to all our naysayers in school that we could train hard and study hard too.

With a pitch like that, how could I resist…

At the end of their senior year, our captain, HK and the senior team accomplished all that they set out to do, and more. The senior team won the A Division Canoeing Championship at the Nationals that year, and stunned our rival teams and their coaches (save one…), as well as our own schoolmates, teachers and principal in RJC. A few of us juniors were privileged to be reserves on that team. The feat has not been repeated since. (Sigh, the following year, my team-mates and I only managed to place fourth overall. And as far as I know, we have not come anywhere near first again in the years since…)


Photo credit – Flickr

Additionally, every member on that senior team got their 4 As in their A-Levels, and a few individuals, whether as a result of the tough canoeing training, or probably because they were already gifted athletes to begin with, also competed in many other sports with good results. One of them, the star of our senior team who set a record time on the technically-difficult and fiendishly-arduous event of 1000m kayak, went on to win gold in cross-country and track events, and also played for the soccer team.

So sorry for this long comment. But your excerpts above from this rowing book made me think of my initial time in canoeing when my confused paddling in circles and countless capsizes suddenly crystallized, crested and straightened into ‘effortless’ stroke after stroke after stroke…
And the delight at the moment when me and my doubles partner and our paddling seemed to meld into one unit and one precise machine, when our every stroke matched perfectly and you could feel it in your very being that finally!, we are not paddling ‘against’ each other, not wasting any stroke and work and energy we were putting in, but that every pull-and-push of this paddle-flywheel goes 100% efficiently into propelling us farther and faster ahead…

And especially for the inspiration that was my seniors and our captain, HK. He was truly: O Captain! My Captain!
They really were like a single well-oiled machine. And all heart.

Those were the times…

The answer to the massive bond funds outflow: a USD cash ETF ?

In this current rising interest rates (or at least, the coming anticipated rising interest rates, courtesy of ‘The Fed Taper’) market landscape, fund outflows from bond funds as well as other yield instruments may be on a one-way ticket – they ain’t coming back.


As Bond Market Tumbles, Pimco Seeks to Reassure Investors

As investors prepare for a long-term shift in interest rates, few large financial firms are as vulnerable as the giant money manager Pimco.

Over the last 30 years, the company has been one of the biggest beneficiaries of steadily falling interest rates, which have made bonds, and Pimco’s trademark bond mutual funds, into star investments. The environment propelled Pimco’s transformation into the fifth-largest asset manager in the world, landed it in many retirement plans and gave its leader, William H. Gross, an aura of invincibility.

Now, as interest rates have surged in the last two months, the company is showing several signs of stress.

Three-quarters of the company’s popular exchange-traded funds have experienced outflows during June, with two of them losing nearly 40 percent of their holdings, according to data from Lipper. At the same time, nearly 70 percent of Pimco’s mutual funds and E.T.F.’s have been underperforming their benchmarks, data from Morningstar shows.


But with the traditional outflow destination markets of equities and alternatives/commodities looking either iffy or bubbly, where can several hundred billion dollars go?

Perhaps, to cash?


An E.T.F. Too Far

Exchange-traded funds are taking over the financial world. At last official count, there were nearly 1,200 of them at the end of 2012, compared with about 100 a decade ago, according to the Investment Company Institute trade group. With a new issue now linking to the virtual currency Bitcoin, the $1.3 trillion index tracker industry seems to cover nearly everything. And yet the most important asset class of all has been ignored. Breakingviews stands ready to remedy the situation.

The first E.T.F.’s were created to track the performance of broad market indices. Two decades on, there are E.T.F.’s that offer exposure to Mongolia, combating global warming and even, in a way, garbage. There are E.T.F.’s that invest in other E.T.F.’s. And if the Winklevoss twins of Facebook fame get their way, it will soon be possible to trade shares that track the value of bitcoins.

Putting aside the question of whether a bitcoin E.T.F. shouldn’t really be priced in bitcoins, this addition to already breathtaking diversity makes it all the more surprising that no such fund caters to the growing group of extremely risk-averse investors. Tapering talk means more of them want to wait out the storm by rotating back into cash. Here, the E.T.F. whizzes have let them down.

The Breakingviews Dollar Trust should calm their nerves. This Hades-on-Winter-registered security will hold United States dollars in a segregated custody account and issue shares that aim to reflect the performance of the underlying asset – minus expenses, of course. Its sponsor is Greenback Reserve Electronic Exchange Distribution, which controls the proprietary technology needed to manage the assets.

As a defensive investment, this trust is unlikely to suffer from the market dislocation that has recently afflicted more speculative E.T.F.’s. And by holding what is arguably the world’s most liquid asset, it avoids the liquidity mismatch regulators fear is a feature of some of the funds. The Breakingviews Dollar Trust will quite literally be as safe as keeping cash in the bank. Owning it will now be as easy as buying and selling a stock – and for only a fraction of the typical management fee.

The writer of the second article was writing entirely tongue-in-cheek. He presented the idea of a cash ETF simply as an ironic counterpoint to the recent news of the Winklevoss twins coming up with their bitcoins ETF.

But of course, in this modern financial world, anything can be replicated. For those who do wish to take a position on USD without opening a USD bank account, you can always go long USD Index futures or even simpler, just buy the UUP (PowerShares DB US Dollar Bullish Fund).

Not. Bloody. Again. [Oil slick hit Sporean waters after two ships collide]


100 tonnes of fuel hit Singaporean waters after two ships collide

A 2010 collision in the Singapore Straits left this oily memento behind - Reuters/Drew Fritz

A 2010 collision in the Singapore Straits left this oily memento behind
Reuters/Drew Fritz

Two bulk carriers—the South Korean-registered Oriental Pioneer and a Bahamas-flagged Atlantic Hero rammed into each other in Singaporean waters early this morning. Damage to the Oriental Pioneer’s fuel tank spilled around 100 tonnes (110 tons) of fuel oil. No one was injured, and the Singaporean government reports that cleanup is proving successful, though it has not clarified the cause of the collision.


And the referenced news release from the MPA:

2 July 2013

Oil spill following collision between Oriental Pioneer and Atlantic Hero -Update 1

Good progress has been made in containing and cleaning up the oil spill resulting from the collision between the South Korean-registered bulk carrier, Oriental Pioneer, and the Bahamas-registered bulk carrier, Atlantic Hero.

There has been no further spillage of fuel oil from Oriental Pioneer. As a precautionary measure, an oil boom and an oil spill response craft have been deployed around the vessel. Bio-degradable oil dispersants were used to break up the oil slick in the waters. As of 1700hrs, no significant patches of oil were sighted in the waters.

In total, 11 craft and some 100 personnel from MPA and oil spill response companies have been deployed as part of the containment and clean up efforts. A helicopter was also deployed to conduct aerial surveillance of the affected waters.

Vessel traffic in the Strait of Singapore and port waters remain unaffected. Port operations are also not affected.

Members of the public can contact MPA’s 24-hour Marine Safety Control Centre at 6325-2488/9 to report any sighting of oil slick in our waters or coastlines.

The collision between Oriental Pioneer and Atlantic Hero occurred about 6.6km south-west of Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal at 0530hrs on 2 Jul 2013 (Singapore time). Prior to the collision, MPA’s Port Operations Control Centre had provided information and issued warnings to the vessels when they were about 1.5 nautical miles (about 2.8km) apart. The ships were also in communication with each other.

MPA is investigating the cause of the collision.

End of release.

Am keeping my fingers crossed that this time, despite the collision location and distance from our eastern shores, the prevailing currents and winds, and most importantly the small size of the spill, any oil slick not mopped up by the cleanup operation SHOULD, in all likelihood, just miss the shores of our mainland and drift west and northwards towards the open South China Sea.

And a reminder of that rather bigger oil slick in 2010 which hit and blanketed my ‘playground’ and favourite running/walking route for weeks and weeks:



-The continuing oil ‘spill’ half a world away (now acknowledged to be an unprecedented oil leak disaster), to a much smaller but no less distressing oil spill and sludge drudge in home waters (and almost on my doorstep);