So hot, I was stopped by security

The recent heat wave in Singapore, and the unfortunate H1N1 epidemic reminded me of a story. I’ve only told this to a few people, but here is where you’ll read about the full story.

It was slightly later than the SARS period. People were frightened of getting infected. The basic detection method was the temperature check, so thermometers and heat scans were employed.

I was also looking for a potential job position, and I got an afternoon interview with a company. I arrived early because the location was a bit remote.

Now, it’s a habit of mine. Whenever I know something important is happening later, I stop drinking. Just so I won’t have to go to the bathroom at the most inopportune moments. I don’t know why, it’s just a personal quirk.

So I was walking from the bus stop to the company’s location, under the hot sun, in long sleeves and pants (thankfully no suit and tie needed), and heated, slightly sweaty and parched. It was a wonder I reached the security guardroom of the company not dripping wet from my own sweat.

Now this company had a very high security level. They had a full temperature head scanner. They had this device that scans people, and a heat map shows up on their screens.

Well, it was after the SARS period, so I could understand their security concerns. Someone from the company was waiting for me. He waited by the side while the security guard asked me to stand at a designated spot. Then the guard activated the scanner.

Apparently, my temperature scan looked like a sunset with lavish swathes of reds and oranges, because the guard told me to stand still again while he scanned again. Sensing something wrong, the adrenaline in me surged a little, which didn’t help cool down my body temperature. I held still. I even held my breath. I still failed the temperature scan.

The company liaison, surprised by this unexpected unfolding of events, took me to the inner parts of the guardroom, where the air conditioning was stronger. He also offered me a cup of water from the dispenser. Then he told me to sit and wait for a while first. I got myself a cup of water, drank and accepted his suggestion.

“I’m gonna fail the interview before I even step into the company office, aren’t I?” silently and matter-of-factly entered my thoughts.

After 15 minutes (or half an hour, I didn’t keep track), I stood up, and took the temperature scan again. I placed my feet at the exact position of the designated spot, shifting my shoes to fit the exact outline of the pre-drawn shoe print. My hands were held in a limbo of alternating tenseness and forced relaxation. I looked up as confidently as I could, keeping my breathing steady, taking deep breaths… And the guard scanned.

What took seconds felt like the time passed while running around a 400 metre track 2 times, then jumping into a pool to swim 100 metres and then work out a 6 digit long division. By hand. I was getting ready to dive into that imaginary pool in my mind when the guard said it’s ok. I passed.

The company liaison, obvious relief on his face, took me into the company proper. And the interview itself? Well, it’s not as interesting as the guardroom episode… alright fine, I’ll tell you about it some other time.

The heat, the other and the pens

The heat was palpable in sunny Singapore for the past few days. Waves of scorching air rose off the asphalt. The bright yellow orb in the sky was indifferent to the mere humans living on the tiny island. With nary a cloud to shield the solar rays happily streaming down, nor an itinerant breeze to eddy ground level air, people were dropping like flies. Freak rain showers also left people sick, the weak unable to hold their own against the rapidly changing temperature.

Me? I’m hot! (double entendre intentional) The days were sweaty and the nights were sweltering. The small industrious electric fan at home did a great job at providing much needed relief, though there’s much to be desired. Because I have a high metabolic rate, and I generate enough heat energy to single-handedly power an entire apartment block. What those Matrix machines wouldn’t do to get their metallic hands on me…

What with the recent energy saving measures in the office, even my cubicle didn’t offer the cooling comfort sorely missing at home. I was drooping at work while the others were just moderately suffering in discomfort. Actually, my colleagues were only just a tad bothered by the mild increase in the thermometer readings…

The whole point of this monologue is that my brain’s fried. I can barely get my head around the programming work, let alone come up with a thought provoking article. Yes, I find writing harder than programming. Sometimes.

So I’ll leave you with a few discoveries of mine. And I discovered that I’m not the first one to coin the term “polymath programmer”. *sad* Refer to this Ruby forum article by Michael Letterle, the other polymath programmer (his site listed in the article is his old site). Yay, a fellow C# programmer! Alas, I’m not familiar with both manifestations of Ruby as a precious stone and a programming language…

I also found Brent Diggs, author of the witty and stomach-holding-hilarious site The Ominous Comma. I’m still laughing over his description of hectoplasmThanks Ben!

My final discovery is Men with Pens. Now I have every respect for James and Harrison, so I hope they’ll forgive me. When I first read their site name, my first impression was that there’s a missing “i” between “n” and “s”. Allow me to explain this unexpected association with the male genitalia…

When I was younger, my friend told me this joke about a teacher in a class full of students.

The pen was rolling off the teacher’s table.
“Sir, sir, your pen is dropping!” a student exclaimed.
“What? My penis dropping?”

You’ll have to excuse the crudity of the language… and the pronunciation. Non-native English speakers sometimes just pronounce words as they are, familiar syllable by familiar syllable… To make it up to James and Harrison, please go read about the exciting new world of niebu.