After much preparation, the young self-proclaimed Emperor of The Han Dynastory is now serving a full-time mission to the UK with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

He will return in 2014.


Welcome to the Han Dynastory!

As I am now serving a full-time mission with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I have left this blog under the stewardship of a family member, who may post updates on how I'm doing as he/she sees fit.

Enjoy your stay!

Monday, April 28, 2008

I Remembered!

I finally remembered what I wanted to blog about yesterday. Although a few hours ago, when I was trying to recall, I forgot the second time. Gah.

Anyway, I just wanted to share an experience in the Aesthetics Department on Friday, after my (screwed) Music Performance Exam. Gabriel and I were talking to our teacher Mrs Ong and she started asking me some questions about how I was doing, and about my family... I must admit it was rather entertaining seeing her expression when she found out about the number of siblings I have, and better yet, my age.

"You're EIGHTEEN this year?!?"

Once again, it was the typical "Wow, you sure don't look like it."

Except that she continued to point out that it was a skill to be able to blend in so well with people nearly two years my junior. That was new. Okay, let's look at some of the coincidences -

Firstly, I'm short. It's the sad truth I have come to accept, though I'm still holding on to the laughable hope for that miraculous spurt at around 24. Okay, so maybe I'm not short enough to be called a midget, but a lot of my peers in school are at least half a head taller than me. AND, when you look at those people in JC2, who are mostly my age, then you look at me, and peradventure you pay obsessive attention to the height difference, then yeah, I don't really look like I'm turning 18 this year.

Maybe I don't appear to have that maturity? I dunno, but one teacher commented on a form that I have a "maturity beyond his (my) years." I wonder if he knew my actual age, although he being my form teacher, he probably knows, and that would mean that I have displayed some traces of maturity beyond my current age. Which erm, doesn't really show in the kind of silly things I laugh at, or *ahem* how I treat my Social Studies class...

Ah well, I can't say I haven't been amused by those shocked facial expressions. Hey, I bet my School Blues characters will eventually develop very convincing "shocked" facial expressions. Oh oh, and I'm privileged with being able to feel young while growing up! Hey, how many of you get to experience that? Muahaha

Time to sleep again. I've been addicted to dreamworld lately for reasons I may or may not share, but that obsession will be another post.

Sunday, April 27, 2008


I forgot what I wanted to blog about -_-

One of those dumbest things ever. I kept bugging Mom to turn on the internet so that I can blog, and here I am, mind all blank. I think it has something to do with spamming Bryan's tagboard XD

Just a note to my faithful readers: I you see lots of spam at yellbox, it probably means I haven't been online for a while. Maybe I need volunteers to help me monitor it =/

Been having mixed feelings this week. Quite a bumpy emotional ride I'd say.

Lately I've been feeling like I'm lacking something. Actually, I think I know what I want, but I'm telling myself not to get it, that I'm not quite ready for it. This issue will stay with me for a while, I know. It might come out in School Blues, so sharp readers may notice it =)

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Because It's Time To Blog Again

Lazy to think about an interesting title. I suddenly feel like posting a mundane, "what-I-did" kind of post.

Shortly after I posted the previous Blog entry yesterday, things started to get better (Blogs are great for venting frustrations hehe). I started work on the Clementi Ward Sports Day poster/flier which I was asked to do. The cartoonist fire inside started burning again and I poured my heart into my work. The result:
I brainstormed one night for some ideas with a bit of Mom's advice (Mom is such a great critic) and started work on it yesterday afternoon. The poster/flier is a first of many things (although a lot of things I draw are firsts because I love experimenting). It is the first time I created a publicity flier that is a comic itself (my original idea was for it to be a 4-box comic strip but Mom's comments altered the idea for the better), the first time I used french curves in cartooning (which didn't really help although it's probably because I lack practice), and the first time I successfully used perspective in a cartoon (as you can see from the table. I've been playing around with perspective for about a week). (Okay, I think I'm overusing brackets again)

Overall, I'm quite satisfied with this piece of work, unlike *ahem* some low quality illustrations for a book I coughed up under pressure a while ago. The cartoon I would say is both informative and fun to look at. I just hope people won't be mistaken to think that there will be that much food on the day itself. The little things the bug me about the cartoon? Bishop ended up looking like a kid, Sister Foo ended up looking like Sister Michelle Lee, and Emily's mouth is too big. See if you can spot who they're intended to be in the cartoon =)

That evening I got a call from Benji asking me if I'd like to join him for dinner out (his parents were out for dinner). Delectable, succulent images of Hokkien Mee and Oyster Omelet flashed across my mind, but Mom said no because it would be spending money unnecessarily. So... I invited Ben to come over to our house instead XD

We had a nice meal of sweet and sour chicken and chinese sausages omelet, and veggies, of course. Had a brief game of basketball since Ernie and Ray wanted to play. I seriously have no ball sense whatsoever. It seems that the only thing my hands can make good use of is the pen and pencil XD So Ben, now you know how crowded (and messy) my house is =P

I went over to cousin Ying Er's house today to practice my Music Exam piece with her (Meditation from Thais, with me on the piano and Ying Er on the Violin). Brought along two different recordings of the piece, one of which was lent by Ben (thanks a bunch!). We listened to the two, plus one that Ying Er happened to have at home, and interpreted our score accordingly. The recording lent by Ben was against a full orchestra, and was extremely dramatic. The other two recordings were much more subdued and contemplative. We decided to try a mixture of both and I think the result was quite interesting. It was one of the rare occasions when I could fully enjoy the Music while making it at the same time. It was a good practice basically.

We started talking a bit after that, including setting a date for the exam, after which I was treated to my favourite longan plus apples and pear. I helped her a bit with Chemistry and whoopseedaisy, it was time for dinner which I was invited to stay for XD The Horfun was great, and Ying Er and I got to talk lots about Music =D She's a fellow Romantic! Take that Irfan! Haha.

It seems like I will be giving Ying Er tuition after all. I call it consultation though. Auntie Chai Yan says it's a win-win situation because Ying Er will get help on her studies, I will benefit from teaching, and I'll get extra pocket money too. Sounds good to me!

Last week of school before Mid Year Exams. Sometimes I think exams are such a pain. There's always something to draw and there's always something to take me away from my drawing table. Sigh.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

The Importance of Laughter

Yesterday was one of those days that started out horribly wrong.

I was down with a runny nose the day before that, so I took a chloropheromine tablet my Uncle gave me a while ago. It might have been the medicine, or the runny nose itself, or the fact that I didn't sleep well because I woke up with a splitting headache the next day.

I normally wake up smiling and thinking about all the things to look forward to for the day. That is, unless I have those Poh Mi dreams that leave me sitting up in bed in a daze with Gabriel Faure's Apres Un Reve being played by a Cello in the back of my head, or like that day, where I had a headache.

I climbed of the bed and went to wash my face as usual, thinking that it would get better. It didn't. My whole morning at school was ruined thanks to the headache. Every little thing that my friends normally do annoyed me. I couldn't concentrate at all and had to control myself from losing my temper or cracking under the frustration. I resorted to food therapy during recess, buying a lunch that I normally consider a luxury. It didn't really help, and I had to sort out a problem with the Class Monitoring Record which was another cause of annoyance. After I had it sorted out with the teacher though, things started to get better.

It started off when I was on the top floor looking down at the tennis court where my classmates were playing Soccer as usual. It was quite entertaining, and I couldn't help but laugh when Joachim let in a goal when the ball bounced off his hands and went between his long legs. It was my first real laugh of the day.

The next class was English and that was when my headache and bad mood finally evaporated. I sat next to Lennard. Lennard is notorious for being a troublemaker in class, but when I sat next to him, I couldn't help but laugh throughout the whole class. I know I should have been paying attention, but considering how forty minutes of laughing allowed me to think better in the following classes, I think it was a worthy sacrifice. The next lesson, A Maths, started off with so much joking with the teacher that there was no longer any reason for me to feel under the weather.

Now, like a vicious anticlimax, my home is killing me. I think I need to go out and take a long walk. Just too bad Simba is back in KL.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Several Chuckles Later

I just felt like declaring that I love my friends who really make me laugh just by being their funny selves.

Been doing the usual Blogs reading. The way my 无所谓 friends write always intrigues me (not to mention makes me laugh, especially 晨辉)

It's just nice to know that I have friends.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Playing 3rd Clarinet

While I was at school today I ran into an ex-band member who shall not be named.
Guy: Hey. I heard you're not playing 2nd Clarinet anymore.

Me: Uhh....... (Zorndrix style for all you 4A3 people)

Guy: And I heard Byron is playing 2nd now while you're in 3rd. Why do you let him take all the credit?

Me: UHHHHHH.......

Guy: I mean, I thought you were a better player than Byron.

Me: I don't see why the level of proficiency in the instrument should have anything to do with that.

Guy: But... but... I thought 2nd is harder than 3rd?

Me: So what if 1st, 2nd and 3rd are at different difficulties. They're all equally important.

Guy: But... why would you want to play 3rd?

Me: Because I like it? (duh...)
Seriously, that was a big waste of time spent on a conversation second to speaking to Jonathan Chan.

First, some background information about playing the 3rd Clarinet.

For some strange reason, many players are led to believe that playing 1st Clarinet is the most prestigious position because you get to play the melody, and often, many solos. Out of ignorance they assume that 2nd and 3rd are filled with players who just aren't good enough. Practically speaking, this is the case in many wind orchestras because it is true that a higher level of proficiency in the instrument is required to play 1st Clarinet. Thus the importance of the 2nd and 3rd parts are often neglected.

Anybody with a decent understanding in Music would know the importance of harmony. You can have a wholesomely beautiful melody but it just feels empty on its own. But when you add in other parts in the background, the contrast between the melody and the accompaniment/harmony creates a greater emphasis on the melody, contributing to a greater overall flavor.

Such is the case with your 2nd and 3rd parts. Those in band/orchestras are likely to have come across the pyramid where the highest instruments are on top, the medium range in the middle, and the basses at the bottom. Likewise, the 1st is on top, the 2nd is in the middle, and the 3rd on the bottom. From this structure, you can infer that without the bottom parts, your pyramid will have no base!

I am not sure how many fellow amateur players I have played alongside with fully appreciate the wonderful way in which the 2nd and 3rd parts complement the 1st Clarinet. One has to stop and consider for a moment: What is the significance of this countermelody played by the 2nd Clarinets? What is the significance of the long tones held by the 3rd? When one realizes how the three parts blend together to produce a beautiful sound, one has come to appreciate the work composers go through in order to come up with these parts. For a good example of how different parts of the same instrument section blend well, listen to the second movement (Andante) of Felix Mendelssohn's Concert Piece No. 1 in F Minor, opus 113. Incidentally, it was The Han Dynastory's National Anthem for a while last year.

So why is it that the 2nd and 3rd parts are not getting the attention they deserve? Personally, I think that too many musicians dream of becoming famous soloists and stars of the music, playing all the dazzling cadenzas rather than the accompaniment. Because of this, there are bands that are filled with soloists rather than musicians ready to work with each other, each playing his or her own part with pride. Only when each member of the band accepts that he or she has a special role to play in the music, and must cooperate with the rest of the band, then can the band truly shine.

I have always been fascinated by the why in which the "not-so-important" parts make the entire piece sound nicer. In fact, playing the Bass Clarinet in 2006 was a blast. As long as there are 3rd parts to play in the piece, you'll see me there, happily ensuring that the composers' efforts are not wasted.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Top Student

I don't mean to boast, but for those who do not know yet, I was the top student for my school's Sec 3 batch last year (2007), as well as the top for the subjects English, Elementary Maths, and Additional Maths. Most people would congratulate me and think what a wonderful thing it is to win so many academic awards. But being known as "the Top Student" by my schoolmates is not a bed of roses. It's more of a rose bush. The roses are nice but don't forget the thorns. I've been thinking about this for more than a month and I think it's time to mention it here.

First, once people know you as the guy who topped, they treat you differently. I'm not saying this applies to everyone, but coming from a school where I was just any other guy struggling through the syllabus but occasionally shining in some areas, I can definitely feel the difference here.

Obviously, the teachers will remember you if you're the top student. They are more likely to expect more out of you. As a student who occasionally gets sick of homework and hands in sloppy work, there's pressure for me there. Another thing is that teachers may use you as an example for your peers to follow. I have a teacher who will - every now and then - tell the class what a model student I am. The way I bow when I greet the teachers, the way (it just so happens that) I am composed in the class, never speaking unnecessarily but always doing the things I am supposed to do (such as Monitor duties), and basically the way I am different. It's always a good feeling when people praise you, but it puts pressure on you to uphold that good image.

It may be natural for me to act in those ways, but when someone mentions it, I begin to fear if I ever slip up, such as that one (and only) incident where I had a face off with my own form teacher over being held back as a punishment for my classmates' actions when I had to go for Music Class. My teacher was very disappointed in me (she said so at that time) especially with my reputation, and I ended up in tears later. Thankfully, the problem was resolved after I left a letter of apology after the Music Class (and she had left) and apologized to her personally before school the next day.

In short, I now go to school with a fear of failing to live up to expectations. If you (you'll know who you are) are reading this, that's the reason why I was so reluctant to go to Island Creamery on your birthday =P

The next thing, which I find is a cause of more worries, is how my peers treat me. It's always great to have the top student as your friend. I myself mixed around with people like Hao Ran, Chern Hui, Zi Xian, and Poh Yi. These were all very good students, three of them within the top ten of the whole school back in Tsun Jin. I always went to them for help with homework. In 2006, I was placed in a class with many talented students, and I always approached them for help. For a large portion of the year I was seated next to Keng How, who is very good in Maths. 2006 was a tough year for me (for various reasons) and it was the time when I started failing Maths - the subject the pulled my grades through 3 years of chinese secondary school apart from English and Physics. Keng how had a bad reputation of being arrogant and rather impatient. But whenever I asked him for help with Maths, he never hesitated to help, and would explain things to me in a very patient manner that made me realize his bad reputation was just a misinterpretation of his loud voice and exaggerated movements.

Here in Singapore, there seems to be no end to the number of those who approach me for help with their work, be it E&A Maths, Physics, Chemistry, or even English and Geography. Very often, they will approach me at a time when I'm trying to understand some concept during class, or trying to solve a mathematical challenge. Answering them would break my chain of thought and I would have to start thinking all over again (I am not as fast as some other people I know), effectively affecting my own work or grasp of the subject in question. I would feel very guilty if I did not answer them, because I don't remember anyone ever refusing to help me. But I must admit it is rather annoying when people approach me to ask a question they would have understood if they had paid attention in class.

Sometimes I wish they would stop asking me. But I know the teachers appreciate having a student who can help teach others, because otherwise they'd be answering hundreds of questions by themselves, and the questions themselves get increasingly repetitive over time.
I know I have benefits too for helping others, but it's tiring. In class, when I'm deep in thought, people will approach me for help. After school, in the library, when I'm trying to study or finish my work, people will also approach me for help. When I'm at home, my brothers will approach me for help. It never ends! Sometimes I wish for all of them to stop, but then I remember yet again that I was never turned down, and will push myself to answer them as patiently as possible.

There's also pressure I put on myself. Being slightly perfectionist, I don't like seeing careless mistakes (which I seem rather prone too) and falling grades. I especially don't like talking about tests moments after taking them, and tend to openly be annoyed when people keep asking me what my answers were. When I get the papers back, I dislike being constantly asked what my grades are (and I especially hate those who are comparing) when I'm trying to go through it and understand my mistakes, remembering not to repeat them.

Generally, I would say that there's a lot of pressure being a top student. However, it is slightly amusing to see people's reactions when they find out, especially when they say "I thought you'd be a bit taller...."

Thursday, April 03, 2008

"Really Meh?"

Frequently spoken by Nicodemus and Samuel in class, it got me thinking a few weeks back.

Although the phrase itself is primarily to annoy teachers, who usually return the phrase with the I-just-explained-it-to-you-so-pay-attention-next-time look or even dirty ones especially with the funny nasal tone Nico uses, when I thought about it a little more, well, I just have some thoughts about it.

"Really Meh?" questions the viability and truthfulness of the subject in question, which is a very important thing to do whenever we learn something new. Take Aristotle's idea about falling objects, for instance. His idea was that the speed of the falling object is directly proportional to its weight, meaning to say heavier objects fall faster. Many physicists accepted this theory and moved on. But along the way there were those who thought "Really Meh?" and were ridiculed by others (the well-known Galileo Galilei being one of those people). Today, because of those who doubted Aristotle, we know that the speed of objects in free fall is, in fact, independent of its weight. And even this could change in the future. As long as there are those who dare to doubt and to experiment, new information will be discovered.

My conclusion? Don't believe everything you say straight away. As annoying as "Really Meh?" is to someone sharing something new with you, it is important that we can be confident that we know is true... for now. Erm...

I'm open to discussion on this, if any. I would appreciate it if any further comments on this topic are left on the "replies" section rather than in the yellbox on the sidebar. Don't worry, I won't question your opinions =P