My girlfriend has a more exciting life than me

This is my girlfriend.

And this is me. FML. I need to get out more. More when my exams are over.


We will remember the fallen.

Do not stand at my grave and weep,
I am not there, I do not sleep.
I am in a thousand winds that blow,
I am the softly falling snow.
I am the gentle showers of rain,
I am the fields of ripening grain.
I am in the morning hush,
I am in the graceful rush
Of beautiful birds in circling flight,
I am the starshine of the night.
I am in the flowers that bloom,
I am in a quiet room.
I am in the birds that sing,
I am in each lovely thing.
Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there. I do not die.

Mary Elizabeth Frye



For those who wear specs or are above the age of 50, or both, poem is reproduced below for your failing eyesight. Too good not to be shared, again.

If, by Rudyard Kipling

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you
But make allowance for their doubting too,
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream--and not make dreams your master,
If you can think--and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it all on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on!"

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings--nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much,
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And--which is more--you'll be a Man, my son!


4790m later...

It was a 4 day slog, through lush temperate woodlands, frozen streams, snow-covered fields, sheer rock walls, pecarious goat paths, and windstruck passages.

It was 3 lung-fuls of thin mountain air for every step, frozen fingers, frostbitten toes, muddy boots, snow-blinded eyes, 15 kilos on my back, -15 degrees celsius atmosphere, 3 layers of protection and a stomach full of determination.

It was conversations with your teammates at 3000m, words of encouragement every 5 minutes at 3500m, whispers of encouragement every 20 minutes at 4000m, and only the 20 knot wind and the sound of your heart and breath at 4500m.

It was goat shit, yak shit, bull shit (literally and metaphorically), horse shit and 'OMG WTH did I get myself into this shit'.

It was ceaseless cursing, ceaseless yearning, ceaseless complaining, ceaseless faith, ceaseless pain, ceaseless hope.

It was worth it.


Black Tuesday

It was the absolute worst day of my life, almost a full year ago. Progress Check Flight, and I needed to demonstrate my flying abilities to the test instructor so he could clear me for my next sortie. I can still remember every detail like it was yesterday, and as I learnt in psychology, that is one of the symptoms of PTSD. But I guess it's a haunting memory which serves to teach me now, a lesson I have to learn even now.

I prepared for the flight, every detail from before take-off to after landing. I spent the weekend in base to prepare, I took time during my breaks to mental fly every detail, and the night before, I kept going over each detail again and again, to make sure I didn't make them.

Then it came to my flight, and the errors started from the ground. Weather came in, it became a touch and go whether I would be taking off that day for my tests. I did, and I forgot details I had practised many times before even before walking to the aircraft. My checks went on with difficulty, I made some error calls on the radio, I took off late because there were too many aircraft in the circuit.

In the air, clouds obscured my vision at the altitude I was supposed to operate. There was supposed to be inclement weather, so I took my aircraft down below the operating level to do my air exercises. Bad call, as turbulence affected me throughout my tests. I screwed up on stalls, I made bad judgements on area management, and my flying simply wasn't up to par as I wrested control over my plane with the weather. Then, I was supposed to recover back to base.

I wasn't sure with the recovery route having panicked throghout, I missed a call, switched to traffic controller at the wrong time. Then, while making my descent, I busted protocols and went faster than normal, and on my way back, I focused on lowering speed I forgot my altitude for low level recovery. I was 900ft AMSL(above mean sea level) and ground was at 300ft AMSL, if I was overflying the CBD, I would have been been a permanant fixture on UOB tower. My instructor had been watching throughout and letting me commit all these errors, until I was so low he was worried I was going to let him become more acquainted with the vegetation. He took over and quietly brought me home. My nerves were wracked, I wasn't able to even do after-landing checks without screwing up. I got out the aircraft wrong, I almost walked into another aircraft taxying out, and when I reached the water cooler I was trembling and ready to break down.

It wasn't over. I had my debrief to go for still, and for such a screwed up flight which I had prepared so well for, I was not looking forward to it. My test instructor took one look at me and asked if I had come all the way to fail on purpose, to collect good money and go home when I had made my share. At that point, I was ready to find a really tall building to jump off. I walked/stumbled my way to the toilet and just broke down. That was the absolute lowest point in my life. Worse than having not done well for A-Levels, worse than not qualifying for any scholarships, worse than death even. At that point, I was a good for nothing, money grubbing, worthless piece of roadkill, and I still do not know how I managed to get out of that day alive.

Maybe it was the anger, that I was called a money minded cock-up, that I was there for the salary. I wasn't, I was truly hoping to make a career of flying then, and I made my point after going to the test instructor after work to clear up my reputation. I wanted to pass, because it was my dream.

Maybe it was the eternal idealist in me, that failures never seemed too far from me but I never seemed to cave in. Breaking down in the toilet, I picked myself up and walked straight to my review instructor for some coaching before the end of that horrible day.

Maybe it was just a quote which stuck in me. 'Why do we fall? So that we learn how to get up.' It was another failure in the long list of screw-ups which define my life, but hell if I'm gonna lie down and stay down.

I learned some things on that Black Tuesday, things which stick with me till now. Prepare too much, and improvisation becomes difficult. Take things too seriously, and life becomes seriously screwed up. Every day, is another day. I am still learning lessons, as evidenced by this post-study reflection which I am undergoing now.

Pain is inevitable, suffering optional. That's a new lesson, and I think most relevant now. I make some pretty lousy decisions sometimes, but suffering the consequences far longer than they are supposed to last is entirely up to me, and I think it's about time I end it. I'll make small changes, not drastic ones, but changes nonetheless. I've got to find new focus, a new direction, and not blindly stumble again like I did after that check flight from hell.

I'm finding new meaning in the quotes I get from that test instructor oh so long ago, in that debriefing room. In one year, the meaning has changed for me, 'When everything seems to go against you, remember that pilots take-off into the wind, not with it' It's a matter of taking failure in stride, and just going on to achieve what you want, even though you might not know what you want yet. I might have FUBARed on military aviation, but that ain't the end yet, there's something else for me still. Something I need to find.





17 Hours to...

OMGawd. OMGawd. OMGawd. Fanboy raves... Jumps around like mad monkey. I'm such a nerd. But I can't help it, IMHO, it's just the biggest video game release OF ALL TIME.