=692= Reflections: Driving

I think before I reflect on Indonesia, let me talk about my 9 month journey with Driving.

To be honest, I actually didn’t want to take the license. My family did not have a car and I was honestly ok with taking public transport and taxi everywhere. However, my mum wanted me to take the license, so I just did.

She actually just wanted me to take my BTT first. Her reasoning was that BTT would last forever, so I should just take it, the rest can come later. She does have a valid point. So I went to Bukit Batok Driving Center to apply for my BTT.

So why BBDC even though I stay very far away? There were a few things that I considered. First of all, was that I did not want to take weekend lessons at all. So if I had to travel down from camp BBDC would be closer. Then, to be honest, BBDC is the only driving center I know where the location was! HAHA! I always pass by it when I go to G2, so I thought about it, just try BBDC Lor.

I went in, wanting to only take BTT, but the sales guy helped me set up an account and everything. Within minutes, I was enrolled in BBDC school, not private. I chose school because I know myself, I need a syllabus to learn better and it definitely helped. When asked Auto and Manual, he told me it was the same price, so I just opted for manual! HAHA!

Theory was okay, I started with the four compulsory lessons all on one day. It was tiring, but at least it gave me a foundation on driving. Then came the Basic Theory Practice. I went for 2 practices then I went for the evaluation. Passed it. Then I had to wait a month to do my BTT.

Me being me, I just cannot sit by and watch time go by, so before I even sat for my BTT, I went for my Final Theory Practice and Evaluation. It has significantly more content than basic theory, but I still managed to finish it.

Then I was all ready to book my FTT, but it turns out I cannot book it before taking my BTT and getting my PDL.

I then got full marks for my BTT! HEHE! Right after I passed it, I went straight to apply for my PDL. Paid $25 and the next day, I applied for my FTT in two weeks and have my first driving lesson the next day.

The start of practical was rather confusing for me. I didn’t know the procedures to go for my lesson etc etc. When I finally got to the car, I just listened to instruction Lor. HAHA. I was so bad at driving! HAHA! I stalled twice and my instructor kept telling me to relax and let him help me steer because I kept turning too much or too early.

I saw Darryl’s account and his training history, it was really impressive, he managed to clear 2 subjects every lesson and even cleared 3 on one lesson. My training history is not so glamorous. I was honestly quite bad at driving. At the start I had trouble keeping on my own lane, I often turn too early and I had horrible clutch control; hence causing the car to shake quite badly.

Especially in Stage 2, I actually took very long to complete it. Only clearing 1 subject every lesson for most of my Stage 2. Having instructors that would scold you was really quite discouraging as well. I got scolded VERY badly on my second lesson that it really made me quite reluctant to drive. On another lesson, the instructor even took out the book and started marking me giving me 40 points even though I had no idea how to do certain things like checking blind spot.

As I progressed, I got better at driving. Slowly ridding of my bad driving habits. First with driving in my own lane, I began to understand how to tell if I was in my own lane with the IU. Then subsequently the car wheel. Then the turning too early and clutch control was settled in Stage 3, when I had to spend the whole lesson in the circuit and had to really control my speed. There were lessons that I only went to gear 2 a few times only.

I tried an auto car lesson once, it was really easy! AHAHA, I think that because I had to control so many things at once, so when I only had two pedals to control it was very easy for me to handle. My mind could be used to handle other things.

Oh I forgot about FTT! Oh yeah I got full marks for that too! AHEHEH!

Then finally last week I finally passed my test, I shall not go into details because I already mentioned it in the previous few posts!

Today I received my photo driving license, it is nice! I have worked 9 months for it! I can finally drive! πŸ™‚


=691= Word: Rest

There are times when I really do miss serving. I am a chronic workaholic that likes to be busy, but the funny thing is that God wanted me to rest this year. I was struggling with the fact that I needed rest.

I constantly want to move forward because I know that time and life is short and I want to make the best use of everything. I want to learn what I want, I want to do what I planned. I want to be creative in the ways I approach things. However, somewhere along my years in service, it seemed like I forgot how to seek God. It seemed like I forgot how to ask for his wisdom. Every step forward seems to be in the wrong direction from where I need to go.

Like a tourist trying to find his way back to the hotel, he asks his way around. The locals tells him that the only way is to walk one big round to the hotel. However, being lazy and tired, the tourist just wants to find a shortcut to cut through. However, the more he tried, the more time he is spending to return to his hotel.

This year, I felt that God had reset my life. I am relearning new joys in old spiritual disciplines. I am trying new things once again. Being disciplined to rest has given me joy again.

Looking back, I am still amazed at how God has used my life. I still remember that socially awkward kid from NA. He changed my whole life around. I am now a man that has so much ability all because of Him.

I give thanks for how God has given me human support through the years. I remember that time when I just lost three of my closest friends. It was extremely lonely. I had no idea how to make a new friend. I still remember saying that I don’t want to be hurt again. I really don’t. Being really sour about losing them, I asked God to give me friends and pillars. Fast forward to this year, I have in fact gained many new friends and support that I never thought would have happened.

Life has changed significantly. New passions found. I have gained more experience in handling all these messy stuff. I am extremely grateful. Thank You God for blessing me!

May my walk be guided by you. May I not deviate from your word. May my future be defined and unfolded by you.



=690= Thanksgiving: Driving Test

Thank God! Praise God! I passed! It is really a miracle that I have passed.

During warm up everything was going fine. In fact, I kinda felt that it was probably my best run in the circuit. Though the instructor did comment on my judgement. Then he left me to wait. Then, this Chinese Traffic Police came out and called my name.

During the circuit, he actually aided me a bit. Telling me to go here and there. My S-course was without a hitch. My slope went smoothly, thank God! My vertical parking was good, but he told me to reverse a bit more, so I was a bit disappointed. Then direction change, my car was a bit too much to the left, thankfully I didn’t mount or strike. Then came something that never ever happened before. My left leg starting shaking and trembling non- stop.

It happened just before my crank course, so when the TP asked me to go in, I was really scared. My left leg couldn’t stop shaking and my car was shaking non-stop. I entered the course with my car shaking. I knew at that point that it was really risky to do the course this way. So I stopped the car in the course, neutral gear handbrake, told the TP to give me some time, then I massaged my left leg. However, it proved to be useless, my car still shook uncontrollably while going through the course.

Thankfully, the turning points and all were done properly, so I completed the course without any points! Thank God! Then parallel parking was done properly. Thankfully.

Then we went out to the road, I kept missing things out. Things like forgetting to cancel signal and blind spot. Not to mention that the route was Teck Whye. He was silent throughout and kept tapping his tablet. So when we went back to BBDC, I was really down. Like really down. I was all ready to fail.

I waited in the room and I was all ready for him to tell me why I failed, but he didn’t. He came in and told me that I passed! PRAISE GOD! Oh my Gosh.

I passed with 18 points, it was a really close shave. Thank God for this! I am now a qualified driver!

Thank you so much God!


=689= Word: Before TP

It is 1 hour to my final driving test’s warm up and I am a bit freaking out.

For normal tests, I could practice until I was familiar with how to do the questions or at least be able to practice it until I am happy with it. For driving, it isn’t so simple, I have to book a slot and pay money to do it. If it were free, I would practice Everyday until I was more confident. Too bad that I have to do it like this.

Well, to be fair, it isn’t as if I am very unstable, I am just very scared. I think I have been practicing for a very long while and I am quite familiar, but I am just afraid that under the pressure I will panic and set me off to a bad start.

I have been thinking and honestly, learning driving is to make me a safe driver. I rather fail than to pass as an unsafe driver. So with that perspective in mind, I have tried my best to learn already. So God, still my heart, help me to take it one step at a time. Bless me O Father!

All praise goes to you Lord.

Whatever comes today, Lord, I know you have the best in mind for me. Being in NA has led me here, Father, I never would have thought that I would reach here when I was in secondary school. Thank you for blessing me so much. Thank you Lord.


=688= Word: Rank and Position

While the rank of CFC was added to reward high performing corporals for their hard work. In some ways, I find that the rank is really toxic.

I hear of platoon mates that would step up and show off just to get the rank. While it may be true that it encourages the men to perform well to get the rank, when the man is inexperienced when it comes to leading, it often sparks quite a bit of pride and arrogance.

You start to hear statements like, “Oh, should I tell our superior about this ah? The fate of the platoon lies in my hand.”

“Hey Sergeant just appointed me to do this.”

“Wah I did so much in this parade, I was doing the specs'(sergeants’) job.”

“I thought that A was bad as a spec, who knew B was even worse.”

Flaunt of power/responsibilities, listing down the things that you have done, putting down other people or worse your superiors are just some signs of pride.

Everyone will have such experience at one point in time. I personally remember back in BB in secondary school and when I thought that I was better than the CSM and the DSM. It made me rather spiteful and actually gotten quite a few people angry with me. My teacher actually sat me down and told me that I was very arrogant. Something I was very thankful for. After he pointed that out, I learned how to do my best while not putting other people down; to work hard without asking for much in return. It may not make sense to you, it may not be fair, but being spiteful is definitely not godly.

While I see the need for such a rank, I really think that it has caused quite a strain on relationships among people in the platoon. I think that life in army is hard enough, having drama between people over a rank is really not cool man.

May we all grow up and not fight over something like this and work together to get through the two years together.

God, help us learn how.


=687= Word: Making An Example

There has always been this phrase, to make an example of someone. It basically means to punish someone to warn the rest that this is what would happen to you if you make the same mistake.

Yesterday, my superior did that with me. We had a route march and he wanted everyone to hold their rifles properly. As a result of not doing it, he made me carry my riffle over my head while marching. My mood was obviously rattled. It was really frustrating and shameful. The thing is that I was not the only one to not hold the riffle properly and there was no clear instruction on what is holding the riffle properly. So I felt really annoyed when I was the only one to do so.

Nevertheless I understand why he did it, when he did what he did the rest would see and be afraid to get that punishment and hence would hold their riffle properly. I guess if it were up to me, I wouldn’t just call one person to do it, I would call out a few. At least it wouldn’t be a shaming session.

Recently, several things has been making me really irritated. I have always been someone that works hard to keep the bunk area clean. I have, on occasion, tidied all 3 bunks on my own. I take it upon myself to sweep the staircase whenever I am in camp. I put a bin in the toilet and office and clear it regularly. I scrub the toilet when no one else did. I single handedly made the laundrette clean. I single handedly cleaned the spec bunk when no one else did. I fixed the lock that was spoiled for months. I cleared the lockers of the seniors which was filthy. I clear trash in my bunk regularly. I simply made the place liveable and we still got complains that our place is dirty? Are you serious? Have you seen the other platoons?

To be frank, my resume above is not something to brag about. It just feels horrible to put in so much effort and still not be appreciated. Of all the people you could have chosen to punish you chose me. Why? What for? To discourage me to stop working hard? To punish me for the things I have done?

If you want to talk about fair, the amount of work I have done is enough to make trainees’ cleaning seem minor.

There is a huge difference between demanding discipline and nitpicking. The thing about Tekong, people can always nitpick over the most little thing. You can always find a dirty spot somewhere. However, punishing people when you were not clear is just plain unprofessional. I get that we are in the army, but I still think that you can be humane and not just scold for the sake of scolding.

God, give me patience to go through this. God, help me be understanding. Father, please help me to submit to the authority placed above me. Lord, be my motivation to go through this time.

I am brought back to the time in retreat when the speaker gave an altar call for being faithful where you are now and not be distracted by the future. If you are a car mechanic, you be the best car mechanic you can be where you are.

Though I responded because of something totally different, it is very applicable to me today. Lord, be my fuel to go through this time. Even when all our superiors comes against us, may we not lose morale and continue to do our best. Help me Lord.


=686= Reflections: η¦»εˆ«ηš„ζ‹₯抱


Above is the link to my song, η¦»εˆ«ηš„ζ‹₯抱. It has been quite a journey with this song.

I was contemplating whether I should write a long piece of how this song came to be on the video description, including what microphones I used, etc etc. However, I decided to refrain from doing that because it is really just the video description, wouldn’t want to bore people with what I have done.

So this song started in my bunk. I was staying in that day and I was trying to come up with something. I then came up with the chorus’ melody. I recorded myself thinking that the melody was nice. Then eventually, I totally forgot about it. I then met up with EnMing that day and I was telling him about my song writing. I think we were talking about Chinese songs and I have a mention that I have one song in Chinese. Then after that, I sent it to our group and EnMing helped me figure out the chords. I wrote the chorus that night too.

Subsequently, because I had the chords, I made up a midi guide track for the song. In my head, the song was reminiscing of the modern Xinyao songs that I listened to. Them being very acoustic driven, I asked Daniel to help me play.

The journey to record was quite long too. I remember asking Dan to stay back to help me figure out what to play. Being someone with little chord knowledge, I can only say whether I want something or not. Daniel was very accommodating and eventually we fixed up the song form. The acoustic part(actually just one bar) from chorus to instru was because of Dan as well, I like how it had that bit of youth; that little bit of something is coming. As a result of us jamming, I also wanted an e.guitar solo.

The noise you hear at the start was from the Jordan room in G1. You can probably hear the fish tank sound cause I didn’t dare to turn off the pump. Why I left the noise in was because I felt that it kinda gave my song a bit of sound design. I may or may not add in other sounds in the future. That recording was done on a Sat, with 3 SM81s in Jordan. Now thinking back, it was probably a mistake to use so many mics in a noisy room. Nevertheless, this track effectively acted as the strong base for the other musicians! So thanks Dan! πŸ™‚

Then soon after that, I wanted to record the Eguit solo and drums. I remember having trouble with the booking of the room in church. Thank you so much Bro Ken for helping me with that! That day I took off, went to the room early to set up the drums and mic stands. I took almost 2 hours to clean, tune and set up the drumset properly. I was rather happy with the tone! It was clear and modern.

The only pity was that I only had 4 channels in my interface. So I couldn’t close mic all the drums. So I only did 2 overheads, 1 Snare and 1 kick. It was enough, but I just wished that I could get that roundness out of the toms. Thankfully, the Audix DP7 mic pack was there for me to use! It sounded great!

Jun Kang’s recording was done really quickly. He managed to get it down in one take! HAHA! I was just being picky telling him to crash certain crashes just to create the nice stereo imaging in the track. Then after that, he suggested that I just play the track as well. I did, then after I played, I just decided to combine what we both played for the track! It was great! HAHA!

Then, the Eguit was set through a DI, with one output into the amp, recorded with a SM57 and the other output direct in to my interface. The solo had several people help to do it. EnMing had some ideas which sparked Dan to come up with it. I then had some comments to simplify the solo. Then, we finally settled the solo recording. Very grateful for the equipment in church. HAHA. I used the amp there, it was not bad.

I was actually fumbling with several amp simulation ideas. My first version was rather gentle, keeping the guitar more melodic. However, the more I listened to other tracks, the more I felt that it needs to have more grit and crunch to really drive the song home. Hence, you are hearing some heavy phase distortion, which I really think that it is a gem stock plugin, it sounds fantastic.

I had a bad habit I guess, I mixed while I did not have all my tracks ready. I was missing bass, keys and I was planning to add a violin at one point. Many articles online recommend to only mix when you have everything. This was both a mistake and something that really helped with the ideas. For one, in the second chorus, you can hear a note on count 2. That was me adding midi stuff at the start to make it sound different from the first chorus. When I started mixing, those midi add-ons helped the song! I would have never had added those notes if I didn’t from the start. I was also contemplating how to make the track sound more modern. I am not one to diss band music, but I really like how modern music sound. Having electronics patch sounds and drum loops, there is a reason why music kept progressing towards that. It sounds cool, new and fresh. The rising beat to the guitar solo was actually a drum loop from logic. I edited and added a FX plugin to make it sound cool. I actually added the loop to the whole chorus, but I decided to only use it for the translation. It was because of me trying to make it sound different so early on that it had that touch.

Recording bass in EnMing house was rather easy. He had a pair of monitor speakers which I then use to monitor him. It was really simple, direct in to my interface. EnMing’s music sense was really helpful for the song. Once you added him, Gosh, the whole track immediately sounded way more professional. Bass is a fantastic instrument. I was all ready to release my music already! HAHA!

Just when I thought something can’t be better, the Keys came in. Till this point, I have been keying in the piano sounds, hence resulting in very mechanical sounding keys. I went to record Shena with no expectations whatsoever. I was very picky when it came to acoustic guitar and electric guitar because I meant for it to be the leading instrument in the first place. My idea for piano was just for accompaniment.

Don’t get me wrong, I was sure that whatever Shena played will be better than what I programmed, but man, I was utterly browned away when she added her parts. The first being the piano at the second part of the intro. I wasn’t expecting anything there but guitar, but when Shena came in with that, oh man, I just had to add it in! The paino part was just heartfelt. Then the strings added dynamics too. We also tried some other stuff, but yeah, I was happy with just piano and strings.

Oh and let us talk about lyrics. HAHA. It was a funny thing. After I recorded EnMing, I was already very proud of the song. I showed it to Tat Wai. I told him that the lyrics are not settled yet. He then went all out and gave me lyrics that he wrote himself. I was really thankful. Gosh, certain lines won’t even be there if it were not for him. However, the funny thing was that I actually still used some of my own lyrics. Reason being, I felt that I had to. The more I changed the lines, the more I felt that this song isn’t mine. There is a story to this song, there are meanings that only I would know. Changing my words would change the story and this song will not be mine anymore. So yeah, it isn’t that Tat Wai’s lyrics aren’t good, it is just not my story to tell.

Vocals was recorded on a SE Electronics 2200 II C. Previously recorded on an Audix I5. Goodness, the tone of the mics were so different. Once I changed to the SE, man, my voice just sounded more natural and crisp. I always had trouble retaining some of the high end when I mix. Hence I often add in the exciter plugins on my tracks to give the high end a boost without saturating the tone like EQ does.

There was a man that helped me out massively and to be frank my mix would not be as good if not for him. He is my teacher Mr Steven. Even after graduation, Mr Steven has been patiently helping me and teaching me. Often giving me tips and correcting me on how I should do things. There was this time when I was mixing this song when he just reminded me of something I learned. That this song is more suitable for a top down approach. There was this epiphany, to how I have been mixing wrong.

I never really understood why there was a need to do that. Why is there a need to have such a thing like bottom up or top down approach? I for one love having crazy nice bass. If I am the one mixing, why would I need to care about where to start? When he said that, I finally understood why. The reason why there is such approaches is because there is a need to put something as a priority.

If it was a rock song, the priority goes to the shredding guitars. If it was a nice slow ballad, the priority belongs to the piano perhaps. When you start with something else, the priority isn’t given to that important instrument and the feel of the song is gone. Imagine a ballad and the loudest instrument is the bass. Imagine a rock song and the loudest is the bells. The feel of the song would need certain things to come out. It is like lead and accompaniment. People will first notice the lead then they will hear the accompaniment. Just because you like the accompaniment more, doesn’t mean that the accompaniment should be louder. Every instrument should sit where it should be. When you give something priority, you give it volume, the rest of the instruments will accompany it and the mix will be balanced from the first pass.

However, I also had some perspective after several times Mr Steven had helped me. Me Steven was shocked to see that I have done so much editing. He told me that you should not do that, that it wasn’t the right way to do stuff. He then tried mixing himself and his version had less plugins and it was great too. However, it was not what I wanted; I actually preferred my own mix. It got me thinking, when is it artistic preference and when is it wrong? I actually asked the Produce Like a Pro channel this question and Warren Huart’s answer was, “does it sound good? If the wrong gives you the feeling of danger and youth and that is what you want, then it is good!”

That is the thing, I wanted my track to sound the way it did, that was why I kinda loaded my tracks with quite a few plugins to make it sound the way it did. I eventually landed on a simple rule on how to do things. Basically do whatever it takes to get that sound. It doesn’t matter if I have to use 2 or 10 plugins to get my desired sound, as long as the result is what I want, it is fine to do crazy stuff. It is only wrong when I am trying to do one thing but I am using 3 plugins to achieve that. For example, if you are curing the low end, you don’t need to use 3 EQs to do so. In some cases you just need one. However, if 1 plugin is curing the Low end, another is boosting the highs and another is for making it consistent, using 3 plugins is not wrong!

Nevertheless, Mr Steven has helped me a ton on this project! There is still so much to learn from him. Now let me move on the video!

From the start of this project, I was picturing a MV. Kinda feel like I was back in school rushing to get a MV up together with our group mates. Man, it was crazy back then. We could be juggling between 4-5 projects and we still delivered a MV all within a month. Gosh, how did we ever survive?

So I actually thought about the concept and I asked quite a few people to help me out. Some agreed, but some didn’t. I just did not manage to find a couple that was willing to help me act. So for quite a while I was rather bummed. I wanted to produce a high quality MV, but I don’t even have the basic cast. Hence, I was procrastinating a bit. At that point I had a girl that could act, but I had no guy, so I was thinking of how I could rewrite the script. Then I just gave up and settled on a simple lyric video instead.

My reasoning was that I rather produce something higher quality by less stuff than to produce something lower quality. So my lyric video concept was very simple. It is basically δΊ”ζœˆε€©’s 后ζ₯ηš„ζˆ‘δ»¬. Black and white pictures with words.

So it was very simple. Just go around with a tripod, shoot the video of something still with something moving in the background. Shoot at 50fps, so that it is possible to slow the video down smoothly.

I then had some ideas for a single cover. Though they were mostly crap.

Then something went wrong, my adobe cloud license expired… 😫

I was stuck. I couldn’t edit anything. I had no lightroom, no photoshop or premiere. I think for a good 1-2 months, I was stuck until I found a way to get my hands on the license.

During that time I was using alternatives like IMovie. Gosh, even for a basic movie editing software, it just cannot compare. I was considering buying final cut, but, I read functions of it and I was surprised that some people actually swear by Premiere.

So when I finally got the license, I got back on it again. It was tiring and I learned that the Chinese fonts on my computer was rather limited. The ones I liked just did not look good together. So I cross referenced the Mayday video again. Then I realised that they made the font smaller and have the tracking set quite large. Then TADA. I managed to have it up. It was rather tedious though, to put up subtitles one by one, perhaps I need to learn how to do it in a more efficient way.

The single over was finally settled upon after many hours of working on it. I took two hours in camp, just working on it. Then eventually, the next day I change it altogether. Got quite satisfied with it. Then added the noise cause Soaps told me the picture is not melding together. Then added some texture because I found that the white borders made it look weird in ITunes.

So yeah, this was my very long journey with this song. It has been a really fun time learning so much!

To the next!