Monday, September 27, 2010
In this case, how far, the man with the scruff couldn’t tell.
He soon found out when she turned and walked a few steps further from him and dropped a ticket on her dashboard. As she walked back again in his direction, apparently heading to her work place, she looked up in a puzzled bewilderment. The distance between her two proverbial sand dunes was disproportionately small. For any other guy, this manly frame would have invoked a misogynistic joke or an indignant dismissal, but for him it was a huge turn on.
He crossed the road and walked over to her car. He glanced stealthily at the expiry time on the ticket placed neatly on the dashboard and proceeded to his work.
The next day.
The man with the scruff was up late this morning. His work allowed for flexible timing. He could report anytime as long as he closed his target. And unlike struggling salesmen, this guy had a secure client base and could afford to be an hour late to work and dress in modest clothing. Not that this diminished his sex appeal, he knew he had the looks and the physique. If the woman’s stunning figure conjured up an image of sand dunes, his toned body looked -he hoped- like convoluted, hardened volcanic rocks.
He came back this morning to see her car in the same parking lot. He didn’t have any business in the area. He was supposed to be somewhere else, attending the needs of other customers. He came back here only for her. He knew from checking the expiry time yesterday that she most probably worked around that area. And that she’d certainly be back at that time to put in a new ticket. Routine. He’d have a chance for another encounter. Maybe this time he’d introduce himself, or maybe concoct something to get her attention.
The man -who still had a couple of days worth beard on- waited and waited. The expiry time came and went and she didn’t turn up.
Maybe she got busy. He thought. Stuck in a meeting or something. The absent bear their excuses with them. I’ll wait for a few minutes longer.
As the man waited under the blazing noon sun, he got more irritated and his eyebrow furrowed in annoyance. Beads of sweat started rolling down from his forehead down his sunglasses. He wiped them with a kerchief and put them back on, a smile spreading across his face.
The parking inspector took out the tiny electronic machine from one of the giant pouches on his uniform and worked the touch-screen. A moment later a fine receipt rolled out of the slot and was dully placed on the windshield of the woman’s car.
After all, you never know what lies at the dark swathes between the dunes in a desert-scape.
Sunday, September 26, 2010
From then on I’m not sure what happens (in the vision), mainly because I’ve not been kidnapped before. Secondly because all the hostages I’ve seen in movies were women. Crying their eyes dry and their throats coarse. I fancy myself a tough guy who wouldn’t be intimated by mobs.
One thing is for sure, though. I’d certainly not be sending you guys coded/ciphered messages about my whereabouts though my dumb abductors.
Because you, with all do respect, suck at deciphering messages and solving riddles.
Here goes the answer to my previous post (the lyrics from the song, followed by the relevant clue embedded in the post):
There may be trouble ahead,
Frank looked forward to all the trouble and challenges that lie ahead that day.
But while there's music, and moonlight, and love and romance.
Nancy's face resembles a full moon. And music was mentioned more than once.
Let's face the music, and dance!
The guard was swaying in a pantomime dance....
Before the fiddlers have fled..
The self lock system should be engaged before the robbers have fled.
Before they ask us to come up with the bills.
The old lady was wondering how she'd be able to pay her bills.
And while we still have got the chance.
No clue on this line.
Let's face the music and dance....
Soon, we'll be without the moon.
Again, Nancy's face.
Humming a different tune.
Frank hummed his own sweet tune.
there maybe tears drop to shed.
The old lady shed a few tears.
So while there's music, and moonlight, and love, and romance
Let's face the music and dance!
The song was sung by Frank Sinatra in 1961.
There was a reference to the 60s' era in the first paragraph.
And as you could see from the video below, the song is exactly 3 minutes long.
The time that had elapsed between Nancy's checking of her watch, 10:51, and Frank's, 10:54, is 3 minutes.
Nancy is Frank Sinatra's first wife.
Enjoy the music!
Friday, September 24, 2010
In case of an armed robbery, a suspected arm robbery, or violent actions by a customer or a group of customers that can’t be contained by the security guard, the duty manager shall be notified by a red light alarm on his desk. The red light could be activated by the security guard or any of the employee through concealed switches. Upon spotting the alarm, the manager shall activate the self lock system immediately, preferably before the robbers have fled, and even before intimating law enforcement. The self lock system is irreversible, can only be deactivated by a code known to the Sheriff and the branch manager from outside after bringing the situation inside the bank under control. A piece of music will be played through the public address system of the bank to sooth the occupants of the besieged building. The music selection is left to the discretion of the manager……
Sunday, September 19, 2010
My Friend James from Atlanta, Georgia, had chosen to shave his legs (yep, with a razor) as an assignment for his Women Studies' course. He kindly gave me the permission to repost his experience with photos. He might also pop in to answer questions and debate with ya'll. I salute James and his courage to carry out this project. It's high time we examine the gender issues we take for granted.
Enough of my babble, here we go:
For the gender project assignment, I couldn’t really decide what to do. As a man who identifies as a full-fledged feminist, and has done so well before this class, it was hard for me to find something that would put me outside of my comfort zone. I already don’t believe that masculine and feminine are even labels that we should embrace, as I tried emphatically showing the very first day by standing in the middle of the chalkboard. If I want to dance ballet, it should not be considered feminine; likewise, if a woman wants to play football, she shouldn’t be considered a Tom Boy. I’ve worn dresses; I’ve worn high heels; I’ve worn skirts; I’ve worn makeup; I’ve worn bras; my ears are pierced (although most of those things were done during Rocky Horror or Powder Puff). The one thing I hadn’t done, surprisingly, is shave my legs.
This change seemed to be the most appropriate for me because a.) I’ve already stepped out many times, as I’ve stated, and b.) I didn’t think anyone else would do this. I also decided to do this because lately I’ve read articles regarding women and shaving their pubic region. In today’s society, it is a guarantee that women will shave their legs, or else they’ll be seen as unkempt, gross, dirty, lesbian, or even the f-word (in the pejorative sense, of course). The goal posts are moving even farther and now women are expected to be totally clean-shaven in the pubic area, especially with the growing spread of internet pornography for what women should look like naked (I happen to be a “sex-positive” feminist, in that some pornography is ok, but that’s for another time). Although there’s some pressure on men to also be shaven, in my own experiences, I’ve seen it to be more of the man’s choice rather than pressure from his partners. In the case for women, I believe it to be the opposite. This seemed like low-hanging fruit just ready to be grabbed.
Before the day started, I didn’t expect much. People usually don’t look down when you’re walking; they look straight into your eyes—or your chest if you’re a woman. So with respect to other people, I didn’t expect to turn any heads or raise any eyebrows. As for me, I didn’t have many expectations about the entire experience, either. I just thought that it was going to be an annoyance more than anything, as I’ve frequently heard women complain about shaving. The women I interact with regularly are also feminists, so I expected positive reactions from them.
Sure enough, as the day went on, I didn’t even notice one person who looked at my legs or said something about them. I specifically wore shorts to highlight that they were shaved, too. It took a surprisingly long time to shave them, but I suppose if you’ve never done it before and it’s long that it won’t take a short while. At the end of the day I took pictures and posted them on my Facebook account to see many of my girlfriends comment approvingly. No guys really commented, which sort of surprised me. I half-expected some sort of homophobic statement from at least one guy and didn’t get it. Perhaps they didn’t notice the photo album.
What did poke out to me, though, was that if a woman decided to do the opposite of me, as in not shave her legs, I guarantee that heads would be turned. So while I didn’t expect anyone to really notice, it was a poke at gender not just because men traditionally do not shave their legs, but for the gross hypocrisy of what would happen if women didn’t do it. Sure, some people might make fun of the guy for shaving his legs, but a woman would be treated as an outcast.
As to gender in and of itself, I believe almost all of it to be a social construct. There are some biological differences in the brain, to be sure, but they’re very small and trivial at best. I was brought up as a boy, and I know that throughout my childhood I was constantly being hammered by male-affirmative messages and biases, and I think it's obvious that girls were also hit with lots of their gender-specific cultural influences.For example, a few months ago I saw in a Toys ‘R Us catalog listing children’s telescopes and microscopes with three different colors: pink, black and gray. The pink one, however, was the weakest in strength and ability. Obviously, a social message is being conditioned for how people think. A color that’s known to society as feminine and girly means you aren’t as concerned about utility of the equipment in science, and are more concerned about appearances. People often wonder why there aren’t as many women in engineering and science—my discipline—so the first thought was that women simply couldn’t handle that hard thinking stuff. It couldn’t be all of these gender roles being shoved into our faces since we were young children, not at all.
I think the reason for a lot of the arguments regarding social vs. biological is comfort and laziness. There is inequality in this world, and it’s just easier and takes less effort to just say “It’s obvious why things are the way they are, WE’RE BORN DIFFERENT!” I think a lot of these biological arguments also stem from the social conditioning aspect. For example, women are thought to understand emotions better than men simply because they’re more compassionate and empathetic. After all, in public policy polling, women are usually more anti-war, empathize with the plight of the poor more, and incidentally also vote more Democratic. So it must be our biological differences, right?
No, it is the result of social conditioning to pay attention to these things more. Women being more in tune with their emotions could be true in the sense that our environments often remind women they should be good at it and remind men they should be bad at it. That doesn’t mean that men are actually bad at it, but it is society reminding us that “this is how things are, so just accept it.” To wit, when women are taught that men are “hard-wired” to deal with math better than they are, rather than trying to work against this stereotype they simply accept it because how on Earth can they fight their own biology? You know, if women tried thinking too hard, their brains would overheat and they would get hysterical, or something.
So you have a perpetual sexist cycle going on here: there aren’t many women in hard scientific fields; biology prone people say it’s because men are better or that women aren’t interested because it’s how they’re hard-wired; women believe they’re hard-wired to fail at science and become disillusioned with trying harder, basically “proving” the biological argument; and then the cycle repeats.
This cycle needs to end, and it starts with people throwing aside this ridiculous argument that gender comes solely, or even mostly, from biology.
Thursday, September 16, 2010
Wednesday, September 08, 2010
A crane operator has by far the most scenic view of a construction site. From his vantage point, always at a higher altitude than the rest of his colleagues, he gets to watch the building going up. He communicates through a walkie-talkie and in sign language, picking up loads from places he may not see, heaving them up, lowering them down. Lifting stacks of cement block, steel rebar or scaffolding rods. Relying on a predetermined arc of rotation. Working his gears with precision and efficiency. It's not within his purview to ensure the load is safely hooked to the tip of his suspended cable. But once he's given the green light, it's his job to move the load from point A to point B. Dancing around with his arms extended. Rising and falling to the rhythm of the work below. Befriending the sun and heavy winds. Keeping a set of binoculars at hand to aid his sharp eyes. Feeling his load, through intuition and experience and training, as the battered seats shudders and jitters beneath him. Coordinating the movements of his eyes and hands and to make sure the load doesn't swing; a swinging load is his first enemy. A full bladder is a close second.
A tower crane grows in height as the building itself grows. A tower crane is the custodian of a new born structure. It's the proprietor of its skeletal growth. Its reassuring presence exudes confidence and inspires hard work. With its three different combinations of linear and radial movements, it's capable of reaching any point in the three-dimensional space of a building. Patting it, caressing it, and feeding it material with the tenderness and care of child rearing.
But for all its enormity and grandiose posture, a tower crane isn't always active. Indeed, the operator enjoys a lot of idle time up there. Hours of heavenly solitude. Vertigo is out of question. Fear of heights unheard of. Long hours. Punctuated by planned bathroom breaks and a quick lunch. The journey up and down the cat ladder isn't something that can be performed frequently, even by fit and eager men.
I wonder if his binoculars ever come to use during these uneventful times. Checking out the vicinity, keeping an eye on fellow cranes nearby. Observing the mundane activities around; laundry being pegged to clotheslines, curtains drawn, balconies washed, flower-beds watered, school buses inching through traffic made of toy cars. Watching the indifferent life of birds, invariably using his arms as a perch. It must be a different perspective from the commanding cabin. Could he ever grow bored? Could he ever long to the life of earthlings? Could he ever grow accustomed to the relentless swiveling of his giant machine, his eyes covering miles and miles of sky and sea and dusty air and bickering humanity at each turn?
After sunset, when natural light dims, it's time to switch off the engines and put the dynamics of this machine to rest. And the operator descends the ladder, his only access to normalcy, gripping the bars with hands used to the delicate handling of gears and levers. It must be nice to have your feet on the grounds again. To be spared the perils of soaring heights and fuzzy physics.
I've been to the cabin of a tower crane today. The view was magnificent. The air smelled different. The passage of time was drawn out, as if the world was standing still. The moment my feet hit the ground again, I had the crazy urge to run. To shout and sing and point out to frowning men how silly they looked like in the grand scheme of things.
And I realized, with a conviction I can't articulate, how it makes perfect sense to keep the lights lit at night, on the arms of a tower crane.