Best SMU Confession

Today is my daughter’s birthday. Yes you heard me. I’m not kidding you. I am a Singapore citizen, 25 years of age, an SMU graduate from the class of 2013… and I made a baby. Exactly 6 years ago, Little J came into the world. Boy, it has been the craziest 6 years of my life.

Back in my school days, I made a costly mistake. Without intending to, I made a senior girl pregnant. At that time, Big J had already graduated and was waiting for university while I was still in school. Big J and I were both hot-blooded teenagers, fascinated with each other’s bodies and without a care for the world. When the news came, our worlds turned upside down. Our relationship even turned sour, and there was a lot of blaming each other and hard feelings.

I started out being unable to accept the truth, being angry with the whole world and blaming every one for my misery. However, I still had to do something about the baby. So, the arrangement was that Big J’s family, being extremely wealthy and generous, would hire caretakers to take care of Little J until after my NS. Then, I would officially take over and be responsible to bring her up and provide for her. Unwilling as I was, I did not wish to let a child be denied of care from a biological parents. I know that kind of pain because my father left my family.

The kid was a constant reminder of my mistake, each time I set my eyes upon her. During my university days, taking care of her was crazy. Caring for a child is extremely effortful meticulous work that requires a hell lot of time and attention. I had to learn all the nitty gritty things parents identify with, often getting my hands busy and dirty. I was often impatient with her for “learning too slowly” or “causing trouble for nothing”, but it was not her fault. I had spells of bad temper and was always irritable. It was difficult. I studied at SMU while I worked part time in town because I received little support from a family that is financially tight. Having a babysitter helps a lot but it’s far from enough for a child’s needs, and not to mention it’s expensive. The rest of my time and space was pretty much devoted to Little J. You just can’t go away from a child for too long, a parent’s absence severely affects her growth and well-being. I had to give up a lot of the stuff you guys do – freshmen camps, CCAs, OCSPs, hanging out with friends, partying etcetera. It felt painful to be punished as an adult for one dumb mistake you made when you were a teenager… and live with that punishment forever.

However, there came some turning points and defining moments. Thank God for these things, otherwise I would be the worst person on Earth. Those were times I realized the joy of being a father, discovered my soft side with her help, and grew to love her more and more:

1) When she learnt her first words after blabbering baby talk for so long.
2) When she called me “papa”
3) When she could finally finish a conversation with me
4) When she learnt how to stand up and walk on her own
5) When she injured herself and ran into my arms for comfort
6) When she was awarded the most outstanding student in pre-school
7) When she showed great character and stuck by her little friend who was being laughed at and bullied
8) When she wrote me an essay about her family and I was the “hero” in the story
9) When she caught a rare breed of flu and spent a week in hospital, making me the most anxious person I’ve ever been
10) When she folded a paper heart for me, as a Fathers’ Day gift.
11) When she was happy, bouncing around and just being herself
12) When she waited at the door, waiting for me to come home to tell me something

And with that, Little J helped me change to become more patient, tender-loving, thoughtful, down to earth and responsible.

Time flies. I can’t believe Little J will enroll in primary school real soon. Today, I am a proud father of a lovely girl who loves to help others and go to church. I also very unbelievably secured a well-paying job (too good for someone with sub 3 GPA) that could give me a lot of financial assurance and allow me to do what I love. Even better, Little J will have both her biological parents because Big J and I are now engaged. I don’t know exactly how it happened, but somehow we only fell in love after the birth of Little J. Oh by the way, she graduated from SMU too. Hey man, I honestly feel like the luckiest man on Earth.

What I have got to say to you who are reading this? If you screw up, no doubt you have to bear the consequences. But it is not the end of the world. Be responsible and learn from mistakes. You never know where it brings you, or who you become. To those who are sad with low GPAs, or feel that life is really tough on you, or face the situation with a child made by accident, I hope my story encourages you. Fight on, rock on, you guys can do it if I can do it. God bless you.

Yours sincerely,
Your SMU Senior

Semper Fi

I’m waiting for the one decision that will potentially make or break the person I am today.

It’s God’s will.

“Accept the things to which fate binds you, and love the people with whom fate brings you together,but do so with all your heart.” 
― Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

Places to Go by August 15

Zedd ft. Foxes - Clarity     

– Koh Grill & Sushi Bar
– Ramen Keisuke Tori King
– Ramen Champion
– Ramen Keisuke Tonkotsu King Four Seasons
– SushiAirways Sushi Bar

– 2D1N Soju Bang
– Ssikkek Korean Grill BBQ

– Mookata Thai Steamboat
– Nakhon Kitchen

4 Fingers Bonchon Crispy Chicken
– Choupinette
– Epicurious
– Five & Dime
– Group Therapy
– Kith Cafe
– La Nonna
– Nook DIY House of Pancakes
– Riders Cafe
– Sapphire @ The Jewel Box
Selfish Gene Cafe
– Spruce
Starbucks @ Rochester Park
– Strangers’ Reunion
– Strictly Pancakes
– Table Manners


– Roxy Square Ban Mian
– Two Chefs

– Carousel

– 3 Inch Sin
– Carpenter & Cook
– Dean & Deluca
– The Fabulous Baker Boy
– Tiong Bahru Bakery
– Tuxedo Cafe
– Wimbly Lu

25 Things About Metaphors


A metaphor is a little bit of writing magic that allows you, the writer, to draw an unexpected line between two unlike things. You are comparing and connecting things that have no business being compared or connected. How is a wasp like an auto mechanic? A banana like a storm cloud? How do you talk about a nuclear winter while evoking a beautiful symphony? The metaphor is the writer holding up one thing (“a double-headed dildo”) and asking — nay, demanding — that the reader think of something else (“a floppy slice of freshly-baked zucchini bread”). It is a subversion of expectation; a sabotage of imagery. Metaphor is metamorphosis. You can tell that’s true because they both have “meta” and “pho.” Or something.


A metaphor fails if it’s obvious. Comparing two alike things is meaningless in terms of providing engagement and enlightenment to the audience. “That horse is like a donkey” simply isn’t meaningful. We already know that. We describe the things that need describing. You wouldn’t say, “This double-headed dildo is like a single-headed dildo” and call that a metaphor. All you’re doing there is thwacking the audience about the head and neck with your +5 Double-Headed Dildo of Obviousness.


Further, a metaphor is not to be taken literally. “A snake is like a worm” is literally true, and thus fails as a metaphor. Metaphors operate best as purely figurative. Life is not literally a bowl of cherries. The power of metaphor is in its ability to transcend the real; in this way, metaphor is like an artsy-fartsy version of sarcasm. It is a beautiful lie. I say one thing, but I mean another.


A simile uses like or as to connect things; a metaphor eschews both words. Simile: “My love for you is like old lunchmeat. Still here, but way past its expiration date.” Metaphor: “My love for you is a zombie. Dead but still walking around.” The simile creates a little distance; this is like that. Not same, but similar. A metaphor undercuts that distance. This is that. Not just similar, but absolutely (though abstractly) the same.


Metaphors and symbols are not the same thing. A metaphor is stated outright. I say it. I write it. I don’t hide from it. When I say that “her vagina is like the blown-out elastic in a pair of old underpants,” or, “his dick is like soft serve,” I’m not trying to hide what I think or feel. I’m shoving the imagery right into your eyeholes. A symbol is far cagier, far more guarded. A character who symbolizes something (sin, colonialism, addiction, zoo-keepers, reality television) does so in an unspoken way. The author never takes the time to complete that picture. A metaphor draws the line between two unlike things. The symbol never draws the line — it just casually gestures in the direction of the other thing, hoping you’ll connect the dots yourself.


A metaphor that kicks open the door to its cage and runs around a little before being put down is an extended metaphor, or a “conceit.” It refuses to be kept to a single iteration, and will get its roots and shoots all up into the paragraph where it initially appeared. The metaphor continues — it’s not enough to say that “urban development is like a cancer” and leave it at that. The metaphor grows and swells, blister-like, using the whole paragraph to explore the metaphor to its fullest: gentrification is metastasis, developers are like free radicals, rich guys like tumors, and so on and so forth.


Err on the side of simplicity rather than complexity. The weightier and more Byzantine a metaphor becomes, the more likely that it becomes unstable, untenable, overwrought. When I say, “John’s a dinosaur,” the message is clear: he’s old-school, probably too old-school, and if he’s not careful he’s going to get face-punched by a fucking meteor. But I don’t need to say all those things. I don’t need to beat the metaphor into the ground until it’s a pulpy, shitty mess; it’s not a watermelon, and I’m not Gallagher. The audience wants to do work. They want to take the metaphor and help draw the line. Hand them a simple machine, not a Rube Goldberg device.


Some metaphors are implied. When you say, “Gary’s coming for you, Bill — that guy can smell blood in the water from a mile away,” we’re using a metaphor to imply that Gary is a shark, but without actually saying that he’s a shark. The power here is in letting the audience bring a little something to the table. The danger here is you reach too far and fail to make the implication click.


Some metaphors just don’t work. You maybe think they do, because in your head you’ve drawn a line that makes sense to you and… well, nobody else, you fuckin’ goon. The reader’s sitting there, scratching his head, wondering just what the hell a blue heron has to do with a head cold and what happens is, it stops the reader dead. Every component of your writing is binary — it’s either a 1 or a 0, it’s either Go, Dog, Go, or Guy Running Full Speed Into A Tree. It’s lubricant (facilitates the reader reading), or a fist (forces the reader to stop). A broken metaphor asks the reader to stand over the confounding imagery, chewing on it the way one must jaw hard on a hunk of gristly steak. Make sure you’re not putting out metaphors that are clear to you and only you. Think of the reader, not of the writer.


If I wanted to mix metaphors, I might take that love/lunchmeat/zombie metaphor and smoosh those fuckers together: “My love is like a zombie — it’s dead and walking around long past its expiration date.” It’s mixed because it’s in effect creating a metaphor within a metaphor: love is like a zombie, and a zombie is kind of like lunchmeat in that it has an expiration date even though human bodies and zombies don’t usually have expiration dates and love isn’t really a zombie and besides, zombies aren’t real anyway. So, it’s asking the reader to draw the line and say “love = zombie, but zombie = lunchmeat.” It’s not the worst mixed metaphor ever (as one could suggest that a person’s date of death is his ‘expiration date’). You can, of course, get a whole lot worse — the worst ones build off cliches (“Don’t look in the mouth of a upset gift horse of another color before the apple cart or… s… something.”)


Let me define for you: “Kick-stab.” It means I duct tape a diver’s knife to the bottom of my boot, and then I focus all of my chi (or: “ki”) into my kick as I drive my knife-boot into your chest so hard it explodes your heart and fires your ragdoll body through a plate glass window that wasn’t even there before but the force of the kick was so profound it conjured the window from another universe. All this because you had to go and use a cliche. Cliches are lowest common denominator writing and serve as metaphors for unimaginative, unoriginal turd-witted slug-brains. KIYAAAKAPOW *kick* *stab* *krrsssh*


Ew, no, not like that. Put your scrotum back in your pants, you monster. No, what I mean is: metaphors represent an authorial stamp. They’re yours alone, offering us a peek inside your mind. When a reader says, “I would have never thought to compare a sea squirt to the economic revolution of Iceland,” that’s a golden moment. The metaphor is a signature, a stunt, a trick, a bit of your DNA spattered on the page.


Look at it another way: a sky is a sky is a sky. But when we cast against the sky a chemical haze or the ejecta from a volcanic eruption, it’s like a giant fucking Instagram filter — it changes the sky and gives us heavenward vistas and sunsets or sunrises that are cranked up on good drugs, revealing to us unearthly beauty we never expected to see. The haze or the ejecta are entirely artificial — applied to the sky, not part of the original equation — but it doesn’t matter. That’s metaphor. Metaphor is the filter; it’s a way to elevate the written word (and the world the word explores) to something unexpected, something unseen. Metaphors are always artificial. But that fails to diminish their magic.


Metaphors do not merely carry tone; they can lend it to a story. The metaphors you choose can capably create mood out of the raw nothing of narrative — a metaphor can be icky, depressing, uplifting, funny, weird, all creating moods that are (wait for it, wait for it), icky, depressing, uplifting, funny, or weird. A metaphor is a mood stamp. A tonal injector. Consistency in the tone of your metaphors is therefore key.


A metaphor used to describe a character tells us more about the character than a mere physical description — saying a character is gawky is one thing, but then saying he “walks like a chicken with a urinary tract infection” paints for us a far more distinctive and telling portrait. Evoking those things (the chicken, the yellow of urine), suggests cowardice. It also suggests that he probably puts his penis in places he shouldn’t. Like hamster cages and old Pringles cans. Or chickens. #dontfuckchickens


Metaphor is part of description and we use description when something in the story breaks the status quo — when it violates expectation and so the audience must have a clear picture of it. You don’t talk about every tree in the forest; you describe that one tree that looks different, the twisted old shillelagh where the character’s brother hanged himself. Metaphor operates the same way: you use a metaphor when you want us to know something new, something different. It’s you pointing us to a thing to say, this thing matters.


Metaphors aren’t just some shit writers invented so they can strut about like pretty purple peacocks. It’s not just a stunt. Metaphors are part of our brains — not just writer’s brains (which are basically rooms where armed chimpanzees force drunken dogs to chase meth-addled cats all day long), but the brains of all humans. Here’s the cool thing about metaphors: our minds know the difference between the real and the metaphorical, and yet, our brains respond to metaphors often the same way they would to reality. You call someone a “dirty bastard,” and our brain pulls the chemical triggers that make us think of, or even feel, a moment’s worth of uncleanliness. How fucking bad-ass is that? THE BRAIN BE STRAIGHT TRIPPIN’, BOO. (Article: “This Is Your Brain On Metaphors.”)


Another awesome thing the brain does with metaphors? We’re sitting there, reading, right? And the part of our brain that’s active is the part associated with reading and language. Ahh, but when we encounter a metaphor, our brain short-circuits and leaves that area — it freaks out for a moment, and kung-fu kicks open the door and runs to the area of the brain more appropriate to the sense triggered in the metaphor. In describing a smell or a touch, the brain goes to those areas and highlights that part of your skull’s mental meatloaf. Example: words describing motion highlight your motor cortex. What this means is supremely bad-ass: it means that good description and powerful metaphor are real as real gets. They trick our brain into a reality response! Stupid brains! Ha ha ha, eat a dick, brain! I just fooled you with words! (Article: “The Neuroscience of Your Brain on Fiction.”)


This tells us then that metaphors should use all senses, not just the visual. Mmkay? Mmkay.


You can stimulate metaphorical thinking. At the simplest level, just make a concerted effort. Walk around, look at things, feel them, smell them, try to envision what those things remind you of — a summer’s day, a calculator watch, a used condom, a wicker basket heavy with roadkill, James Franco. Take one thing and then ask, how is it like another? Find the traits they share, both literal and abstract (hint: it’s the abstract ones that really matter). You can also force such stimulation: sleep or sensory deprivation will do it. So too will the right amount of al-kee-hol (not too much, but not too little, either). Probably the biggest category of “metaphorical stimulator” comes from hallucinogens, which are illegal and you should never do them. BUT IF YOU DO NEGLECT MY ADVICE AND WOLF DOWN A PALM FULL OF FUNNY MUSHROOMS AGAINST MY DOCTORIAL PROHIBITION, you’ll find that your brain makes crazy leaps between things — the very nature of hallucinations is due to the powerful tangling of sensory neurotransmitters (note: not a brainologist). Hallucination is metaphor; metaphor is hallucination.


Another critical way to train your brain to love the metaphor: read poetry. Lots and lots of it. Old and new from every geographic region. Then: write it. Poetry is often a doorway to a metaphorical wonderland. You know what else is a doorway to a metaphorical wonderland? Churros. Mmm. Churros.


I want to point this out because, well, me and profanity? We’re buds. We’re bros. We’re in the Fuck Yeah Sisterhood. We went to space camp together and sold Girl Scout Cookies together and lost our virginities togeth… you know, we don’t need to keep talking about that. What I’m saying is, when I say, “Dave is a shithead,” I don’t mean he’s actually got a literal pile of feces roosting on his shoulders. When I say, “Fuck you” in anger, I don’t mean I actually want to fornicate with you. (I mean, probably.) Profanity is abstraction. It’s dirty, filthy, gooey abstraction. And it is wonderful.


Don’t overuse metaphor. Every paragraph can’t be a metaphor for another thing — sometimes you just have to say the thing that you want to say without throwing heaps and mounds of abstraction on top of it.


No, wait, sorry, I mean, “Practice makes perfect.” Silly me! If you’re not particularly comfortable with metaphors, if they make your throat tight and your body tense and cause you to pee two, maybe three drops of scaredy-urine into your Supergirl underoos, you merely need to practice. Sit down. Write metaphors. Let your brain off its chain and see what it comes up with. Write a whole page — hell, a whole fucking book — of the damn things. Nobody’s reading these. No pressure. Care little. Just write.


Narrative can, at the basic level, exist in a way where it tells us what has happened or is happening. Right? It serves as a simple explanation, the story being the literal actions taken and words spoken. John went to the grocery store. There he saw Mary. John and Mary kissed by the cantaloupes. John said, “I love you.” Mary Tasered him in the nipples. John died. Mary took his shoes. Whatever. But our storytelling can have levels that go above and below our words, that exist outside the literal flow of events and dialogue spoken. We have subtext. We have authorial intent. We have theme and symbol. And, drum roll please, we have metaphor. Metaphor elevates our narrative. Subtext is an invisible layer but metaphor is very visible, indeed: with metaphor we’re adding new colors to the sensory and experiential wavelength. This is why we use metaphor: to elevate storytelling to more than just the story told.

Tears of Sadness for Yale-NUS Rejection

May 8, 2013

Dear Brian,

The Yale-NUS Admissions Committee has completed its evaluation of candidates in this round of admission, and I am genuinely sorry that we are not able to offer you a place at the College.

I realize that this decision may come as a disappointment. I also hope you will understand that this decision reflects only the extraordinary range of talents represented in our applicant pool, not a judgment of your own abilities or potential. Of the thousands of students who applied to Yale-NUS, most are fully capable of doing outstanding work and making unique contributions in a college or university community.

You may be tempted to ask what was lacking in your application. In truth, it is usually difficult for us to point to obvious weaknesses when so many applicants have demonstrated real achievement and potential for the future. Our decisions say far more about the small number of spaces available and the difficult choices we make than they do about a candidate’s personal and academic promise.

While regretting that we were not able to respond positively to your interest in Yale-NUS, I want to wish you every success in your educational pursuits.



Dean of Admissions & Financial Aid


……..(‘(…´…´…. ¯~/’…’)
……….”…………. _.·´

Seriously, I don’t give a fuck, flying or not.

Working My Way

Fk yeah moola!

Other than putting a significant sum into Kiva, I’ve been hard at work doing investment work on weekends and lunch breaks. Last week, they interviewed Daniel Roberts who manages the Fidelity Global Dividend Fund. This is the list of stocks he likes, which I am putting under my radar.

Kimberly Clark – US
Sanofi – France
Astellas Pharma Inc – Japan
Shimano – Japan
Reed Elsevier – Netherlands
Wolters Kluwer – Netherlands
Novartis – Swiss
Mattel – US
Unilever – US
Microsoft – US
Scor – French

Also, Jim Rogers who is based in Singapore, said in an article that he likes companies based in the business of water, agriculture, natural gas and China.

This is what I hope my income statement will look like. :D

No More Kiva Donations in Singapore

It sucks that PayPal users like me can’t use my funds to lend to people who need it more than I do.

Dear Brian,
We regret to inform you that as PayPal Pte Ltd does not have a remittance license, payments from PayPal users in Singapore to Non-Profit Organisations (NPOs) and charities registered outside of Singapore have been discontinued from 31 March 2013. As such, the payment that you’ve recently sent to Kiva has been reversed, and the money will be returned to your credit card or PayPal balance depending on your payment method.We would like to reassure you that PayPal users in Singapore will continue to be able to support locally-registered NPOs and charities. Our users in Singapore will still be able to use PayPal for faster, safer commercial transactions for purchases of goods and services online and on their mobile devices.
In light of the recent changes in our service to our users in Singapore, we have created a webpage to address concerns and questions you may have at: You can also contact our customer support team by logging into your PayPal account and clicking on ‘contact us’ at the bottom of the page.

We sincerely apologise for any inconvenience caused. We thank you for your ongoing support and will continue to enable secure commerce anytime, anywhere and any way.

The PayPal Team

Here’s my Kiva progress thus far!
Not too shabby contribution towards the Carnegie Mellon Kiva team 😀 From 4th place to sitting pretty at 2nd now! 😀