Waynetopia - Start of a new world

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Happy Little Small Group Vermont Trip

Happy to be still alive after skydiving, the Susan & Two Dr. Genes small group (from the names of the 3 leaders Susan Marshner, Gene Kim M.D. and Gene Tan, PhD) decided to drive 8 hours to Vermont just to chill (told ya they're crazy) and watch autumn leaves. Beautiful foliage. Full credits to Jeff, brother and only fellow Malaysian for the fantastic video.


I guess I have always been a sucker for life-defying stunts. After inverted pulling off inverted rappelling and run-downs, sky-diving was next in line. Of all the people I thought I would be doing this with, I never expect to be sky diving with my cell group people. This group of pious yet adventurous Christians are gonna get me killed someday (snow-boarding trip up next.)

It was crazy. At 13 000 feet and 40 degrees Fahrenheit, jumping off the plane was the one of the most adrenaline-escalating experiences ever. Believe it or not, the free-fall (before you pull the parachute) actually lasted a full minute.

Greg, my instructor and only life-line

Jumping off the plane, into the shimmering horizon and freezing temperature.

Simply lost for words. Trying to close your mouth is a challenge.

The beautiful horizon

Safe landing

Just gotta do this again!

Well, one more thing off the list of things to do before I die. Next on the list - bungee jumping!

Monday, October 16, 2006

Florida Trip

It was totally unexpected. Barely a week after coming back from Niagara, I was called to my boss’ office to discuss on a department meeting. I was basically just tasked to take care of some presentation issues for the meeting.

“Well, Wayne,” Betty said, “you are more than welcome to join us for the meeting."
“Sure. Is it in the conference room?
Betty and Liz laughed.
Boca Raton is in Florida, Wayne. Do you think you can take a few days off school and join us?”

Are you kidding me?

Boca Raton

Before I knew it, I was already flying to Florida. Checking into my room at the Boca Raton Hotel & Resort, I was shocked. I was expecting either a shared or single standard room. Instead, I had a junior executive suite all to myself. StarCite really knows how to hold high-class meetings. At the 18th floor, the view from my room was breath-taking.

The living room.....

...the sleeping room....

...the view

Our meeting area

It was a Thursday when I arrived. The meeting ended on a Friday. That’s when the real adventure begins

South Beach, Miami

After the meeting, I was all on my own. I was unrealistically optimistic here because there were still a lot of uncertainties in my plans. I put together an almost ridiculous travel and accommodations plan for the next 2 days with almost no buffer time in between. All the stars in the heavens need to be aligned for me to pull my plan off. Thankfully, I think they were. A colleague happened to be heading down to Miami to return his rental car so I happily hitched a ride and reached Miami 2 hours ahead of schedule. Getting to South Beach required another hour-long bus ride. Alighting at my stop, I was stunned for 5 seconds as I examined the surroundings – it looked exactly like Tanjung Rhu, Singapore!

Familiar surroundings

The whole of the following day was spent exploring the beach island. The beach was picture perfect, although I really thought it was kinda overrated. I rented a bike to explore the entire island.

Perfect sky, sea and sand

Proof of me at Miami Beach

Once again, thanks to the stars (and God for aligning the stars), I just bumped into a friendly stranger who was kind enough to take me around the happening places around the Miami Beach Island.

Lincoln Road is famous for its high-end fashion and occasional celebrity appearances. Antwon, my new host was telling me all the places where you might be able to spot celebrities. There were also quite a handful of shops that had works of famous painters.

Lincoln Road

Paintings of Britto

Antwon outside an art gallery

And of course, we visited the only StarBucks that had an in-store music collection.

Yes, this is StarBucks with a music shop in it

Taking one last look at the beach, I returned my bike and left South Beach to proceed with the next part of my plan.


I picked up a car in Miami International Airport. Interesting enough, I had given one of the latest Chevy models, probably a 2005 or 2006 one. Driving the red hot Chevy with Planetshakers blasting in the stereo, I headed down to Cape Canaveral, home of the NASA visitor center. Since it was an overnight drive, I pulled over at one of the rest stops and spent the night in the car.

What would I give to make you mine

Arriving at NASA was like a dream come true because I have always wanted to be here. Space had always been one of my key interests since young. Sitting through the tour, we went through the fascinating Apollo missions to the moon and the construction of the ISS (International Space Station). I ended my NASA trip by shaking hands with an actual astronaut.

Rocket garden

Beneath one of the shuttles

Replaying the Apollo mission launch

Awesome rocket boosters

Shaking hands with an astronaut

Niagara Falls

It was and early preview of autumn/winter. For the first time in 4 months, I had to don multiple layers of clothing again. With Jeff, Jamie, Scott (our only Caucasian-Korean friend) and his two ex-schoolmates, we headed up north to Niagara Falls.

The first thing we saw was the rainbow bridge, the bridge that connects USA and Canada.

Rainbow bridge got its name because you can frequently see a rainbow caused by the waterspray from the fountain.

Climbing on board the Maid of the Midst, the ship took us as close to the falls as we possibly could. I thought we looked a little silly in the bright blue ponchos. But then again, it probably the colour probably helps rescuers locate you in case you fall Thanks to the rain, none of us really dared to flourish our cameras so a lot of otherwise beautiful shots were missed. We could see the Canadian side of the falls on board.

sea of blue ponchos

The Bridal Veil behind me.

The rest of the gang.

Of course, we had time for other stuff, like visiting the aquarium and seeing some penguins.


Food was perhaps on of the best highlights. Staying a night at Buffalo, who would miss out Anchor Bar, where the original Buffalo wings came from?

Scott going strong at wing number

Scott was just out of control, downing almost 20 wings on his own. It was a short and wet trip, but it was generally good clean fun (except for the messy BBQ sauce).

The Niagara rapids

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

My Most Amusing Failure

Some of my most disastrous failures come from computer-related projects, of which design work contributes a significant portion of it. I don’t usually like requirement-based design, meaning someone comes to me and say, “I want this and that and I want you to use this and that” cause that would mean me working around a very restricted perimeter.

Yesterday I was tasked to come up with an “eye-catching” event poster with images of mikes and mouths (the requirements). Sent to me was an attachment with about 10 pictures of which I only found 3 functional.

Now usually if I am forced to use what people give me, I would need a fair amount of trial and error to get the right composite. After struggling for 2 hours, I did come up with something really loud, but not too palatable. I decided to pull the plug.

In the morning, just before I was about to hit the delete button on my failed product, I decided to play a prank and send an email to every involved in organizing the event with the following 3 attachments.

in original colours

with purple colour overlay

with blue colour overlay

I stepped away for meeting and when I came back, all sorts of responses were pouring in via email and MSN. This had got to be the first time responses from NOC people were so prompt. I couldn't stop laughing when I read all the responses - I believe I had just started a demonstration of how varied the opinions of the NCBV people are. Responses range from A-Z and everything in between.

“Besides that (the morbid gums), the rest of the picture looks fantastic, the words, color and especially the mike used. Brilliant.” – Kai An
“Eye-catching….I like the blue one” – Adrian
“This should look good on a T-shirt” – Rex

“Yucks, who’s mouth is that” – Cat
“It will be controversial – not sure if it will fly. It’s a bit disgusting. This person’s mouth is riddled with imperfections. Is it yours?” – Estee
“I feel like puking” – Tim
“If you put this as publicity I am DISOWNING you as a friend.” - Alicia

“OH MY GOODNESS! In my worst design nightmare I have never seen this coming! So freaking well done! … We might want to send it out together with our email to our sponsors to prove to them that we have some solid work done” – Pacey
“I think it would be good to have SPIN Logo there as well as "Website for more info".... “ – Deliang
"Eh dude, where got jaw blue colour one." - Iris.

Anyway, to quell the unrest, I had to come up with something fast, so this was how the final product looked like.

Sleek, safe, professional, boring. But it keeps friends from disowning me.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

MLB (Major League Baseball)

It was another surprise call, this time from Hans.

"Wayne, you free tonight? I have extra tickets to the Phillies game."

Unlike the NBA game, I didn't really jump immediately at it since I am not a big fan of baseball. Furthermore, there's lots of work to be done.

"I'm desperate to get people cause I don't want to see the tickets go to waste."

I agreed.

The Phillies is Philadelphia's baseball team. They have been pretty inconsistent in performance this season. But still, it's rare to watch a free game on homeground. Hans still had one extra ticket by the time he picked me up. So, I cordially invited Rex, my dear housemate along.

Citizens Bank Park, one of the nicest stadiums in Philadelphia, is home of the Phillies

Inside the stadium

The diamond

The crowd

We had a good start, leading the first 3 innings. The weather was beautiful that day too, a comfortable 20-23 celsius, perfect for an outdoors game. I began to feel glad came. Towards the middle of the game, the Phillies and the Cincinnati Reds were both not scoring for 3-4 innings. The stadium however, looked really beautiful as the sky got darker.

A shot of the stadium as the sky was getting darker

American flags flying in the graduated sky

The hi-res LED screen.

Of course, like any American sports game, breaks were always filled with interesting stuff being displayed on the LED screen. The highlight was one one guy proposed to his girlfriend, with everything on camera broadcasted in front of 39 000+ people. She didn't really have a choice. Smart move. Too bad you don't get this kind of opportunities in Singapore or Malaysia.

He asked, "will you?"...

...she said, "yes"...

... in front of 39 500 people

It was a close game. We were 3 down in the last inning. Some Phillies fans were already walking out of the stadium. Surprises do happen though. The first batter hit a home run - 2 points more to go. The second batter was struck out. By the time we reached the last batter, we already had 2 more men in the first and second base respectively. Another home run and we win the game.

But we didn't. He was struck out. It was the second time I watched our home team lost on home ground. but it was a good game though. I was glad I went. And thank God for friends who always seem to have extra tickets. :-)

Evidence of our attendance at the game