Author Archives: Security Guard

As I Grow Older

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* The above image is taken from HuffPost.

Earlier today, I overheard a conversation between 2 young boys at the park.

It went something like this.

Boy A: xxx is really too much! I am sorry to say we are no longer friends!

Boy B: But… xxx’s our friend for so many years already. You also know what he’s like…

Boy A: I don’t care! There’s no need for us to be friends with some people!

Well, obviously, nobody would name their child after a porn site. I just used “xxx” to protect the identity of the child who’s about to lose two of his friends. Anyway, this conversation set me thinking. I thought hard about my youth, the younger Teck Yong who didn’t give a damn and could easily befriend strangers or sever existing relationships on a whim.

Back then, I felt young and adventurous. The world was a more exciting place and it looked like opportunities lurked everywhere. Drinking at a pub in London might get me a couple of good friends. Walking into a bookshop at San Francisco might let me meet the girl of my dreams. And they were interesting people, the cosmopolitans in London and San Francisco. We spoke the same language and shared the same political ideals and it’s so easy to meet many of them outside of Singapore.

So because I had both the energy and time to go on plenty of adventures, it became easier to meet all sorts of interesting people. And because it was easy to meet new friends on a regular basis, it also became easier for me to forget old friends. Read the rest of this entry

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Books vs. Google

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* The above image is taken from School of Management Sciences, Varanasi.

Once upon a time, if you needed to get some information about a particular subject, you had to either go to a book store or library.

Back then, I thought the retail staff who worked at bookstores were really cool. I remember this one time when I wanted to learn more about ninjutsu, the deadly art practised by the shadowy assassins known as ninja. That was during the latter half of the 80s, after the airing of the first American Ninja movie.

Because Google wasn’t around yet, I had to take a bus to get to the Times bookstore in my neighbourhood. The entire operation took more than an hour. I had to get down to the bus stop, wait for the bus, take the bus, pound the pavement and, after resting a bit to recover from the tropical heat, search for the the bookstore at the shopping center.

And when I finally reached the counter… Read the rest of this entry

The 3 Ways Of Martial Arts Training

Shaolin

* The above image is taken from The Telegraph.

Chinese wuxia novels often contain archaic words that are necessary for the mise-en-scène, and even native speakers who are fluent in the language sometimes have trouble understanding them. So I wasn’t too surprised when an American friend of mine, who’s a fan of the wuxia genre, asked me for my help to translate some of those antiquated Chinese words into simple everyday English.

And one of his questions was: What’s 横练金钟罩?

金钟罩 (Golden Bell) is the name of a body toughening skill, but what does 横练 mean? I went and did some research and found out that 横练 is just one of the 3 ways of martial arts training. Below are my explanations for the 3 ways written in simple English.

#1. The Wen Way (文练法)

Basically, it means training solely in the techniques and developing “nei jing” (内劲) naturally, without using punching bags or other hard objects to strengthen your striking power.

Shadow boxing and mirror training (i.e. practicing in front of a mirror to improve your form) all fall under the umbrella of the Wen Way.

#2. The Wu Way (武练法)

Punching heavy bags and kicking wooden stakes etc. These are all training methods under the Wu umbrella.

The Wu Way allows for swift development of striking power and when used together with the Wen Way, will allow the martial artist to grow in a balanced manner.

However, it is detrimental to a martial artist’s growth when used by itself. Many teachers lament that too many youths are focusing on the fun and quick aspects of the Wu Way and neglecting the refinement of their techniques by using the Wen Way.

#3. The Heng Way (横练法)

Is simply a more extreme version of the Wu Way. Methods include thrusting your bare hands into buckets of sand, striking your body with a wooden bat and hitting your head against a tree etc.

The Iron Shirt (铁布衫) and Golden Bell (金钟罩) both use the Heng Way when it comes to external training. It is inadvisable to practice such skills without knowing the internal training methods as well.

Loh Teck Yong

Author’s Note: 文, 武 and 横 could be translated as scholarly, martial and overbearing respectively. But I thought “Scholarly Way”, “Martial Way” and “Overbearing Way” sound weird so I went with the hanyu pinyin for those Chinese words.

 

Book Review: Gods of the Mountain (A Cycle of Blades Book 1) by Christopher Keene

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Gods of the Mountain, Book One in A Cycle of Blades has all the ingredients that make a fantasy novel interesting.

There’s an original magic system… I know, I know. In this day and age, with the massive number of fantasy bestsellers that have already flooded the market, is there even such a thing as an original magic system?

Maybe not. BUT in Gods of the Mountain, there are no long-winded arcane chants or hard-to-get herbal concoctions. Magical effects are instantly activated simply through mental visualization of the Lunari symbols. Pretty handy in a fight. With that sort of system in place, the mages-are-rear-line-support trope no longer holds true.

And that alone gives Gods of the Mountain a fresher look than most fantasy novels.

While we are still on the subject of magic, let’s talk about the gods. After all, they tend to show up when magic’s out and about. Much like rats in a food larder. Well, the gods in the mountain are selfish and whiny so I don’t feel like talking about them, but which bestselling fantasy novel worth its salt doesn’t have heroes or villains rising against the gods?

Much like Raistlin Majere, the ambitious anti-hero of the bestselling Dragonlance series, Gods of the Mountain too has a protagonist who breaks the rules and challenges the will of the gods. Unlike Raistlin though, Faulk, our protagonist, seems to do it out of the goodness of his heart. And unlike Raistlin, Faulk actually gets laid… Oh no! Spoiler alert! Spoiler alert!

But that brings us neatly to the romantic sub-plot. In one corner, we have Yuweh, the aloof and unattainable Messenger of the Lunari gods. She receives a mission to find and capture outsiders guilty of abusing their sacred symbols and journeys to the Tyrian city. In the other corner, also in the Tyrian city, is a former army officer laid low by the death of his former commander and father figure. He lives a life of crime, in squalor, a shadow of his former self. Oh yeah, he’s also one of the outsiders guilty of abusing the Lunari symbols.

Virginal priestess and broken hero. Naive cop and hardened thief. You can see where this is going, right? I don’t know about you but I really enjoy watching unlikely couples get together. And this particular trope also seems to appear frequently in popular Japanese manga.

And look, fans of blood and gore are not going to be disappointed! Because while Faulk warms himself by a naked priestess, a certain disgruntled former Messenger of the Lunari gods skulks around in the shadows as he pits his students, Kessler the Tyrian assassin and Pry the Inqusitor’s assistant, against one another.

As the two unleash the power of the Lunari symbols, hundreds of corpses pile up in the city. And here’s where the explanation for the series title comes in. Cycle of Blades. Because of all the flying swords that are used to create the corpses.

And that’s as far as my explanation goes. If you want to know how to make swords fly and why there’s a need to create mountains of corpses, go read the novel. You can purchase a copy from Amazon.

Loh Teck Yong

The Problem With 24-hour Guards

So this morning, the regular day guard didn’t come. Because today’s his one off day per week. So the agency had to send in a replacement, right?

And so the manager thought it would be perfectly alright to call in a night guard who’s been working the night shift on the other side of the island. So that means this dude is pulling a 24-hour shift even as I am writing this blog post.

And obviously, since he had a night shift to complete and he’s on the other side of the island, he came in late. I was supposed to be relieved at 7 a.m. but the night guard came in at 8.30 a.m.

When I called the manager to ask about the day guard’s replacement, he told me, in a jovial tone, to claim O.T.

Why the f**k should I claim O.T.? I am already working 12-hour shifts for 72 hours per week! I need LESS hours, not more!

Anyway, when the day guard’s replacement came in at 8.30 a.m., I told him, “I am going to come in at 8.30 p.m. tonight because I don’t do overtime.”

The day guard’s replacement actually got indignant when I told him that. He tried to explain why he’s late.

“I was at Tuas! I need time to get here…”

“I am the only one who can do this!”

Yeah, I KNOW. I know how long it takes to travel from Tuas to our workplace. BUT if you knew that as well, then you shouldn’t have agreed to come in to replace the day guard! Why would you want to inconvenience someone else just so you can earn more money for yourself?

Have you ever considered that there are people who don’t want to wait an hour and a half for you to arrive? Have you ever considered how dangerous it is to ride your motorcycle on the road after completing a 24-hour shift?

HAVE YOU SPARED A THOUGHT FOR OTHERS?

However, I told him that I wasn’t angry with him. I was angry, and rightfully so, with the manager for arranging this. The manager already knew the day guard takes every Sunday off, so he should have arranged for a proper relief guard to come in every Sunday! And not make some overly enthusiastic guy work 24-hour shifts!

The manager* and the 24-hour guard both need to think hard about how they are inconveniencing others and endangering lives. Mark my words, and mark it well! Security guards have died in the past due to overwork, and they will continue to do so if this industry continues to turn a blind eye to 24-hour guards.

Loh Teck Yong

* I have always called him the manager, but the regular day guard told him his actual title is Senior Operations Executive. Oh well, whatever.

They Kept Their Promises

A few days ago, I made a blog post about my agency. I said that they might be breaking 2 out of 3 promises they had made when I first signed up with them.

Things have been a bit hectic recently so I haven’t found the time to post updates. But tonight is my only off day this week, so I have some spare time.

Here’s an account of what happened on 14/11/17 (Tuesday).

When I reached the train station near my work site, I went to an ATM machine to check my bank balance. And I found an extra 200 dollars in my bank account! Okay, that means they kept their promise to pay me a weekly advance every Tuesday.

And when I reached the work site, the day guard told me the manager had came down earlier with my uniform. Good. They finally managed to keep their promise to provide me with 2 pieces of uniform.

So far so good. I hope this good behaviour keeps up.

Some of you might think that I am being too skeptical, but I have seen too much of the ugliness of men in my line of work. Too many security guards have been abused or scammed by their employers, so there is no way I can trust an agency blindly.

Especially one that still HASN’T given me a copy of my contract.

Loh Teck Yong

Book Review: Birth, or the Exquisite Sound of One Hand Falling Off a Turnip Truck by S.T. Gulik

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It all started with the Divine Disturbance on April 12, 2148, Some musicians revealed their alien forms at a public park and melded into a god form. The unleashed psychic energy caused weird phenomenon such as the dead rising and humans evolving into, well, better humans who could heal amazingly fast.

But all that really has very little to do with this novel. Even the zombies just function as mobile props. Sometimes they are shot at and sometimes they carry messages for secret agents. The role of zombies in this novel could easily be replaced by carrier pigeons really.

So don’t go expecting Birth to be just another apocalypse zombie novel. This is a novel about humans killing one another. Oh no, it’s not as boring as it sounds! When I say “humans”, I mean sewer-dwelling mutants with super strength and surgically enhanced surface-dwelling nerds. It’s as bloody and gory as it gets. Birth is, after all, set in a world where damsels get killed and shoplifters get sent to the chipper.

And Maxwell Quick? Don’t expect him to be yet another good-looking, strong and intelligent hero with good intentions to save the world. He doesn’t work out, drinks like a fish and is currently missing both his kidneys. And he has never saved a damsel in distress either. He just uses them for sex, the bastard.

As for his intentions… He was forced into helping the “good guys” (whoever they are) save the world from the “bad guys” (whoever they are).

It can get kinda confusing, sorting out the good from the bad.

If you like morally ambivalent drama, bastard anti-heroes and government conspiracies hatched in sewers, then you might enjoy Birth by S.T. Gulik. Birth and its sequel, Sex, can be purchased via links from the author’s website.

Loh Teck Yong

P.S.: To better enjoy this novel, please do read the glossary of terms BEFORE reading the actual novel. It can get frustrating at first, trying to figure out what is what and who is who.