Microsoft security scam (Singapore)

First of all, happy new year to all!

The purpose of this post is just to add on to the already saturated web illustrating such incidents. Yes, I picked up a phone call tonight from a scam syndicate claiming to be from Microsoft security.

The story goes:

I received a phone call at about 8pm asking for my father and “the owner of the windows computer in my house”. The caller was an Indian lady with her strong accent. The background was a little noisy and it didn’t sound like an office. I got suspicious and asked who she was and her attitude wasn’t excellent at all. She claimed to be from “Windows”, and wtf? What kind of “window” are you from? Tinted? Shaded? Tempered? Well, the call wasn’t for me anyway so I told her my dad was out. She couldn’t even get the name of the company right.

After my parents came home, she called again and this time my mum picked up. I was eavesdropping and heard her pathetic attempts to try to convince my mother the rubbish she didn’t even know what she was trying to say. She kept repeating that my “Microsoft licence” is being illegally used. I didn’t know that there is such a thing called “Microsoft licence”, and she claimed that the entire household shares the same “licence”. Then, my dad took over the call and screamed at her saying that she is accusing us of using fake products. The only Microsoft product my entire household shares is the Microsoft office which we bought it legally. My dad kept telling her not to accuse us and that what we are using is legal. And he slammed the phone down. She must be crying to her mama after that.

Now, that is actually not the best way to deal with it though. He didn’t understand her fully, but my dad doesn’t give a flying fuck whether you are the Queen or the President. If you are an asshole, he treats you like one. His signature moves are shouting at bank employees for screw ups to his accounts. I guess I took up that hot-tempered genes but with more self restrain.

So a few minutes later, the phone rang again. This time I was determined to find out what the hell is happening. A man was on the line this time. He sounded like a Filipino, but he could have been an Indian. Anyways, not a Singaporean, nor a Singaporean Indian. He thought I was the person who “scolded” his colleague. He demanded to know why I had “abused” his colleague. It took me no time to convinced him that was my father and apologized on his behalf and that I want to know what was going on because my parents’ command of English is not great.

This faggot repeated the same situation and explained that my household’s “Microsoft licence” is being used by a third party. Logic ran through my mind. Wait up, if each PC that runs on a Microsoft operating system has a unique licence, how is it possible that the entire household runs on the same one?? The other thing that the entire household shares is our internet connection! Thus he went on to “cover up” by saying that yes, the licence runs through the internet. Well go eat your own shit. It doesn’t take a genius to figure that it is rubbish. I continued to play with him and without me asking, he volunteered to “show me” that the licence can be checked. I asked him through which computer, and he said any one will do. So I brought out my laptop and asked him what’s the next step.

“Look at the bottom left corner of your laptop,” he said. “Do you see the key C-T-R-L?”

In my mind I was like fuck you, fuck your ancestors. Are you testing my intelligence? Seriously??

Me: “Yes”

Him: “What’s on the right side of it?”

Me: “Fn key~”

Him: “And then the right of it?”

Me: “Windows key????”

Him: “Okay I want you to press win+r quickly together, What do you see?”

Me: “Don’t waste my time. Tell me what to type.” (It was obvious he wanted me to bring out the run box and he thought I was a computer idiot)

Him: “Okay, type CMD. What do you see?” (That brings up the command prompt)

Me: “The command box????”

Him: “Do you see at the top it says Microsoft Windows….”

Me: “Yes and?”

Him: “At the bottom of it, the copyright?”

Me: “And then?”

Him: “And do you see the blinking cursor at the next line?”

Me: “I know my shit, what do I key in?” (I was seriously getting impatient with his naivety)

Him: “Type A for Alpha, S for Sock, S for Sock, O for Oscar and C for Cat” (What?? He really think I’m as stupid as him)

Instead of keying into cmd.exe, I did a google search immediately and the scam alerts appeared.

Him: “What do you see?”…”What do you see?”…”Have you typed assoc?” He kept repeating it because I was doing my google search and wasn’t actually keying into the prompt. 

Me: “I’m going to call the police right now because this is a scam.”

Him: “Who told you this is a scam? How do you know this is a scam?” (He panicked and kept interrupting my words)

Me: “I am not going to talk to you further and I am going to hang up!”

I had to shout because he raised his voice and kept talking. And I slammed the phone down. The calls kept coming but nobody answered and my mother disconnected the wire eventually.

Advice I would like to dish out to avoid being scammed.

1. Verify the authenticity of the caller. 

Using common sense, why would an authority call on a darn Saturday night about privacy issues unless it is really important? Since when did the Singapore authorities outsource “security officers” to foreigners? If such licencing issues were involved, it would most likely be my ISP calling or the media authorities such as IDA. In severe cases, the police. Fancy identifying themselves as “Windows security officers”?? I help you secure your window, want?

Sadly, my home phone does not have a caller ID, but they were most likely calling from overseas anyway. It is easy for anyone to take the yellow pages and call the “owner of the house”, so do not let your guard down even if they can identify your name. The background noise of the calls sounded much like a call center. A scamming den.

2. Do not be intimidated

Get the situation clear. Even if you did flout the law and an authority calls up, you should still stay calm and verify the situation. What if the authority turns out to be fake and you get blackmail instead? Until I verify that this was a scam, I kept my mind open as there is still a possibility that it could be a genuine call. Hence, I had to calm that fucker down and talked nicely. Subconsciously, when he mentioned that he was “a security officer”, and demanded to know why my dad “abused” his colleague, and that the call was “recorded”, my mind took a double because he sounded serious.

3. Protect and educated yourself with the necessary knowledge

Kidnap scam? Know the whereabouts of your family and always keep in contact. Lottery scam? I wonder if anyone is still stupid enough to fall for that. Thus, scammers now move into computer scams, where many only know how to use but do not know how to troubleshoot. If you are not a fan of computers, at least know that Google is your best friend. Google is legal, Google is powerful and Google is fast.

Be clear of every single step that you are asked to do if you were to go ahead to further verify the scam. Think of the possible implications before clicking anything. Even a friend can get you to reveal sensitive information if you blindly follow instructions. Although I knew that by typing “assoc” into the command prompt, there were not yet any implications, I refused to go further as the fucker was wasting my time.

I got this from another source (Hebrides Weather Facebook page):

“So, this is how it works;

They ask you to sit at your PC and click START > RUN > then type “CMD” (command) into the RUN box. This opens up a black box on the screen, which older PC users may recognise as the DOS window.
In the DOS window they ask you to type “ASSOC” and hit Rtn and a long list of stuff comes up on the screen.

They ask you to look near the bottom of the list for the letters “CLSID” and explain that this is a unique identification number known only by the manufacturer of the operating system.
They then read out a number and ask you if it matches the one on the screen in front of you, which of course it does.
The complete line looks like this: ZFSendToTarget=CLSID\{888DCA60-FC0A-11CF-8F0F-00C04FD7D062}
and they read out this number: 888DCA60-FC0A-11CF-8F0F-00C04FD7D062

This is all to get your trust and make you think that they are a support company and that they have the information about your computer, they don’t, this number is the same on every Windows based operating system released in recent years.

I don’t know what happens after this but I have read elsewhere that they are trying to get you to allow them remote access to your PC via the likes of LogMeIn or other means. This could be for various reason like charging you for the “work” they have done or installing software on you PC.

I managed to keep them on the phone for 16 minute, making out I was trying what they were asking me to do, but when they ask me to enter “ASSOC” into the DOS window I kept saying that nothing happened and that I could just see the cursor flashing and nothing else. After they talked me through another route to the DOS window and being told to type “ASSOC” into the window again, I again said nothing had come up.

She was starting to loose hope and then I said “These commands do work on a Linux operating system don’t they? As all my PC’s are Linux, not Windows.” To which she said “No this is only for Windows” and hung up!

So, be warned if you get a cold call like this, don’t do as they ask you. Ask them to tell you what your IP Address is and who your Internet Service Provider (ISP) is, I bet they don’t, or can’t!

The best thing if you not sure is to just hang up but if you want to end the call politely then the best thing seems to be telling them that your PC runs Linux or MAC.
I kept them on the line as long as possible because I figured that if they’re speaking to me then they’re not scamming someone else.”

There you have it.

I’m surprised that this was written in 2012. Nearly 4 years and now they turn their guns on Singapore? So they think Singaporeans are easy to scam? I hope not. Then again, if lottery scams are successful, this business could be thriving so much such that they can expand their operations to Singapore. Stay safe everyone.

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Paris and Beirut: The innate discrimination

I woke up yesterday (Saturday. 14 Nov 2015) to a friend’s post on Facebook that said: Stay safe, friends in Paris.

I knew something must be wrong and went to google “Paris”. I spent the next 30 minutes reading about the attacks without getting out of my bed. I felt bad for the victims and their families, and spent the rest of the day keeping track of the updates. A year ago, I was about to head to Paris for a 5-day trip while on exchange in Budapest. What if it happened last year? What if I was caught in that situation? At that point in time I was only wary of pickpockets and scammers, never considering the possibility of a terrorist attack.

This morning, I woke up to see a whatsapp message that said: “I wonder how will changing a profile picture help”.

So I went on to Facebook and saw, unsurprising, a huge wave of newsfeed announcing the overlay of the French flag on individuals’ profile picture. Then I saw an read an article about the unfairness towards Beirut. Why no one gives a fuck about Beirut? What was there no Facebook safety check for Beirut? Why are countries not displaying the flag of Lebanon on their landmarks? Why are people not changing their Facebook profile picture in the colours of Lebanon?

This is the sad truth. There is no equality in the world. Also, the theory of “monkey see, monkey do” applies and it all started with the media and how they portray the severity of an incident. I gave some thoughts about why this discrimination exists.

1. Reputation of the city

Paris is famous. Or rather, France is a country few in the world would not know about. The language of romance? French. The city of romance? Paris. The Eiffel Tower? Paris.

Beirut? What country does it belong to? Since young, the only thing about Lebanon that I know is the red and white flag with a Christmas tree look-alike in the middle. Shame on me I can say, for I thought my geography was quite good.

What if we bring attention to another two cities? Singapore and Baku. Does anyone even know the existence of Azerbaijan, if that matters? How about Tokyo and Yerevan? I meant no offence to any of the cities mentioned, but I am trying to illustrate a fact that most people fail to acknowledge. There are parts of the world that people don’t give a shit about and something needs to be done about this discrimination. But what?

2. People get numb to the same thing

While I wouldn’t say Paris is safe, for I still condemn pickpockets, it is still certainly safer than Beirut. I wouldn’t say Paris has excellent order, because you can jump over the gates of the metro like they are installed for this purpose, and the station staff doesn’t give a flying fuck about it. The everyday life in Paris is still more orderly than Beirut. We can still walk the streets of Paris knowing that we won’t die the next second all of a sudden. Attacks in the Middle-East countries are so frequent that people get numb hearing about them. It becomes normal. Why would the media make a big fuss out of something that is normal? This is human nature. We cry when a tragedy happens, but we gradually get used to it and become numb towards it. Does anyone still keep track of the news on MH370? Does the media still report about it regularly? NO.

3. Monkey see, monkey do

There must be a trigger for every event. Even newton’s first law agrees with it. If Facebook made the overlay the flag of Lebanon, will people use it? Of course, but people will ask, why no France?

“All my friends have changed their profile picture, so should I”. “All the other countries have the French colours on their landmarks, so should I”.

If the USA lit up the colours of Lebanon on the statue of liberty, would other countries follow suit? No doubt they will. Or, no they won’t. In any case, France is still more popular than Lebanon, so it is natural that the latter gets forgotten.

4. Our social network

On average, what is the possibility of someone in the world having a friend in Paris or in Beirut? I cannot calculate, but I can say with 100% certainty that the possibility for Paris is higher. Just take my country, Singapore for a comparison. Do the universities in Singapore send students on exchange to Beirut? Do Singapore companies have operations in Beirut? Maybe? But unlikely. Why would I care about Beirut when my friend is in Paris? This is the mindset we possess, sadly. But it is logical! Just like how people in Middle-East wouldn’t give a hoot about Paris because they have loved ones in Beirut. This number is sadly, much lower than the one in Paris. Paris is much more internationalized than Beirut.

The world is unfair

Face it. There are two sides to a coin. No one’s face is perfectly symmetrical. On this issue, as much as people feel bad discriminating, they don’t realise it. Imagine the thoughts of the Facebook manager who authorized the use of the safety check button: “Oh God, why did I not consider about the attacks on Beirut? Now I have to answer to all these complaints.”

Although “I didn’t think about it” is not a good reason, it just happens! Caused by the 4 reasons as illustrated above.

What’s more, the occurrence of the incidents one after another certainly sparked this old debate of discrimination. This is not new, for it happened during the Charlie Hebdo incident. It always happens when a tragedy occurs in a first world nation and the whole world is mourning for that country while no one looks at the third world nations’ daily tragedy. Stop comparing. It never ends.

Perhaps we can stop blaming the world about this discrimination. Stop blaming Facebook. Have a look at ourselves. How much do we care about the sufferings of others? Just because Parisians are first world citizens like us, we should show more concern? I mean, yes of course this is human nature! I am ashamed to say this, but this is the sad truth. As much as I feel bad for the people in Beirut, for the people who are suffering in Middle-East, for the children dying from hunger in Africa, I do not have extra capacity in my life to care. I have my own life to live. So I really admire people who sacrifice living their own dream to help the people suffering. Maybe they have the resources, maybe they have the resolution. Maybe, in the future I will care.

今日のイベント

今日、初めて日本研究会のガイドに参加した。栃木からの高校学生にシンガポールの観光したい場所を案内させていただきました。まあ、今日とても暑いね。長い間、このような長い距離を歩いていないので、今随分疲れた。学生たちは大体17か18歳だ。僕はお兄さんだね。

まず、マーライオンパークへ連れて行ったけど、間違った。行きたい場所を誤解してしまった。学生たちもうこの場所に来た。だけど、マーライオンパークの辺を案内して、エスプラネード劇場もちょっと行った。そこから、チャイナタウンへ昼ごはんに行った。実は、ホーカーセンターへ連れていくつもりだったけど、暑かったし、お腹がもうすいたので、マクドナルドで食べた。昼ごはんの前に、お土産を買った。

最後、セントーサに連れて行った。時間が短くても、海が見えたので、彼達が嬉しかった。その時、僕もう疲れてしまった。もちろん、みんなもとっても疲れた。だから、早くホテルに戻った。ホテルが隣にあり、あと50分なので、紀伊国屋書店を案内した。それから、今日のイベントが終わりました。経験がよかった。

はい、以上です。

Don’t “It’s okay” me

I have been wanting to write about this since quite a long while ago, but could not find the mood to do so.

I think many people have done charity work or have at least one experience with flag-raising or similar activities. When you approach people to ask for donations, have you ever met with an “It’s okay” reply? Especially when this “It’s okay” is when that person did not want to donate?

The issue which prompted me to talk about this was me making this mistake which I very much condemn. Once, on the way out of Utown to the bus stop, a girl stopped me and ask if I would like to buy a coffee bean pack for a good cause. Well, sometimes my mood do determine my charity heart. I decided not to. I gave a little smile, but I replied with a simple “It’s okay”. The moment I realised what I had just said, I felt so embarrassed and apologetic to the girl, but she had walked away. If there was any use, I could have just slapped myself a hundred times. This went on in my mind, “What the fuck were you trying to mean by saying ‘It’s okay’? What’s okay? You mean you’re okay not donating? Or do you mean she should be okay for you not donating? Fuck you!”

Do you realise how impolite this little phrase is? Consider this scenario: I ask if you would like a cup of coffee and you said “It’s okay/fine/alright” as a mark of being not too direct. That’s cool, you just mean you are okay not drinking coffee. Consider this: I ask if you would like to donate, and if you donate, I thank you and you reply “It’s okay”. This would be perfectly fine! You are telling me “It is my pleasure to contribute, you don’t have to thank me.” If you don’t want to donate, reply with a “no”, and I say “It’s okay”, and this would be perfectly fine too, because it means I am fine with you not donating. However, if you don’t want to donate and reply with an “It’s okay”, it means “…FUCK it doesn’t even mean anything! Wait… let me try to interpret…

Okay, it could mean, “It’s alright, I am okay not donating (Because my money is precious, I am a selfish bastard so leave me alone).” Or it could mean, “I am telling you, you should be fine with me not donating because you are lousy. I am the boss.”

And both of these aren’t exactly polite. Who says I am okay with you not donating? I am not okay! I am not even asking if you would like a cup of coffee. If you freaking don’t wanna donate, just say NO. Next time if someone tells you “it’s okay” when you are asking for a favour, ask them back, “Hey hey. Sorry but what do you mean by it’s okay? What’s okay? Are you okay with yourself not doing it or should I be okay with you not doing it? Wait this doesn’t even make sense. I am definitely not okay with you not doing it and I should not be okay with you not doing it because I want you to do it and if you don’t want to do it, just say no. If you are a little polite perhaps you can add a “sorry”. Thank you for listening to my wonderful piece of advice!”

You’ll probably be branded neurotic, but hey, at least there is some righteousness toward the use of words.

Now don’t be surprised if I get a swollen eye from telling someone not to “It’s okay” me!

Human Cheese

An interesting read

scienceandfooducla

Cheese1

Have you ever been offered a fancy cheese that smelled more like a used gym sock than something edible? Odor artist Sissel Tolaas and researcher Christina Agapakis took this idea and ran with it, with their project Synthetic Aesthetics. The duo used bacteria isolated from human hands, feet, noses, and armpits to generate cheese!

Many cheeses, like beer, wine, and yogurt, are the product of fermentation. Fermentation occurs when microorganisms such as yeast and bacteria convert carbohydrates such as sugar into alcohols, gasses, and acids to generate energy in the absence of oxygen. One common cheese-making type of bacterium, Lactobacillus, breaks down lactose, the primary milk sugar, to lactic acid. This results in lowering the pH of the milk, which as pointed out in a previous post, causes coagulation and solidification into cheese. The work of microorganisms in cheese also results in the creation of many other byproducts…

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Remembering Lee Kuan Yew

Today, we bid farewell to the one who led Singapore to independence. Mr. Lee Kuan Yew, the first Prime Minister of Singapore from 1959 to 1990, passed away on 23rd March 2015 at 3.18am.

I would be a liar if I said I was filled with grieve and sorrow on hearing his passing. No, when I was born, he had already stepped down as Prime Minister and I have never experienced the “iron in him” as he once mentioned in his 1980 election rally. Although I have watched videos of him when he was at his peak, I have not once seen him delivering powerful speeches that were relevant to the context of my generation. And of course, as age caught up with him, the recent speeches and conferences he spoke in has no more aggression. He was visibly weakened, but nevertheless possessed unrivaled intelligence.

I respect Mr. Lee as a formidable figure. However, I was indifferent because I had no emotional attachment to him. My mother told me I shook hands with him when I was about 3 or 4 years old, when he came to my estate in Tiong Bahru. I had no recollection. Somehow, as the week progressed, I felt some emptiness. As social media began to flood with tributes to him, pictures of people queuing up for the Lying in State, I felt something. As I watched on the vigil guards, videos of his life, I felt something. As the news of Singapore’s national mourning got around the world, I felt a sense of pride. At the same time, I felt that we have lost someone very close. Emotions are contagious, scary huh?

I did not go down to the parliament house. It is true that if Mr. Lee could spend his entire life building this country for me, waiting for 10 hours is nothing. Like I said, I had no emotional connection with him. Practicality overcomes my emotions. To me, walking pass the casket for a mere few seconds will not communicate my respect and gratitude. Neither will posting his picture on Instagram convey the same message. It may not apply to many, but to the some who used this national mourning for likes, fame and nobility, you are not fit to pay respects to him. The most practical way to show it is passing down his legacy and mentioning this legendary historical figure to generations after generations, all over the world.

No doubt Mr. Lee had done things that pissed many people off. People have suffered during the tumultuous times, some due to his policies and his aggressiveness. However, which leader is perfect? He could not have satisfied everyone, and basic ethics tells us that the utilitarian approach is the best way to run a nation. He did it. So before anyone even thinks of criticizing Mr. Lee, ask yourself if you would be able to lead the transformation of Singapore into what she is today. I am not a fan of Mr. Lee Kuan Yew, but I strictly condemn inappropriate comments made against him, especially during this national mourning period. Amos Yee, congratulations, you got what you want. Fame? Yes, now the whole country knows you, good luck to you.

It baffles me sometimes when I meet English educated or English speaking Chinese not using English names. I expect otherwise. However, this man answered me in his memoirs. Although the main reason could be garnering votes from the Chinese population, it was no doubt a preservation of his roots. Mr. Lee dropped his Anglicized name Harry in 1950. Also, he did not give English names to his children. He thought that there was no need to because they are all Chinese. I am impressed. He will never regret this decision. His first name “Kuan Yew”, in Chinese “光耀” means bringing honour. He did it!

Today marks an important date in world history, for Mr. Lee’s name will command admiration in every land. Also, in which other country have you seen so many people gathering to send their leader off, almost an entire 16km of road. Uniquely Singapore it is.

Actually the following is quite a touching video. Him giving kisses to his late wife… At 2:29 of the video, we see the life of a man in a flash, from a 2 year old baby boy to a 90 year old political veteran. I kept looking at the collage over and over again. This was the man who almost got executed by the Japanese somewhere between the 3rd and the 4th picture. This was the man who became the father of our current Prime Minister in the 6th picture. This was the man who was already a Prime Minister in the 7th picture…

I would like to repeat MG (NS) Chan Chun Sing’s words, “Singapore is small, but nobody dares to bully us. They tell us to jump, but we dare to say no. Because we can.” Why? Because our ah gong trained us so.

Thank you Mr. Lee Kuan Yew.

Year of the Goat

The year of the Goat/Sheep for 2015 begins on 4 Feb, 11:58am (GMT+8). Please refer to my previous post last year for the reasons:  https://themysterycross.wordpress.com/2014/01/30/today-is-not-the-year-of-the-horse-not-yet/

However, it is still to be noted that prior to 1913, Chinese New Year was celebrated on 4/5 Feb until the President of the Republic of China changed it to the first day of the first month of the lunar calendar.

So hey there, Happy New Year! Yep, I’m a goat, or sheep whatever hehe

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国に帰った感想

今日から、ここで時々日本語で感想を書く。練習を要りますね。日本語がわからない人へすみませんが、大切な事は何もありません。

国に帰ってから、生活がちょっと違います。あまり慣れないよ。ブダペストの物価の方が安い。そして、生活のペースの方がずいぶん遅いね。しかし、まだシンガポール料理が一番好き!本当にこんな食べ物を欠場した!この学期はダンスのコンサートをやめた、とても忙しいと思うんです。例えばFSPがあるね。さらに新興企業をはじめたい!先学期自分で日本語2を勉強した、だからいま日本語3を取れるよ!プレイスメントテストに合格したんです!浜崎先生は優しくて、ユーモアな先生ですね。でも、日本語の勉強は難しくなっていますね。じゃ、また。

Delusion

I am back in Singapore for almost two weeks, but I am still trying to adjust back to this fast paced society, not to mention the timezone. Although I had fully recovered from jet-lag, I still refuse to accept the truth deep within me. Sleeping at almost 3am in the morning everyday and waking up after 10am, I kept convincing myself that my circadian rhythm is still with CET. This nonsense needs to stop.

Exchange seemed like a long dream. My life in Singapore seemed to come to a standstill the day I flew and resumed after I came back. Things changed: From small household items to new buildings being constructed. I felt foreign yet familiar.

After these few months of being away from home, I knew I cannot settle down. I have to keep moving. Life is too short for one to find a good career, settle down and work our asses off for the rest of our lives. The world is so big out there and it’s foolish not to experience as much as one can. Singaporeans like to compare this tiny island to other countries. We like to say, “Hey, why don’t we have this system? Why must we do this? Why is it so expensive here?”. We speak as if we know the world at the back of our hands. The unfortunate fact is we don’t. Unless you have been living outside Singapore for at least several months, mere holiday experiences don’t give us the rights to criticize our homeland in comparison basis. Yes, other countries may be better when you’re there as a tourist, but the perspective changes when you’re living there. Singapore would be a paradise if not for the weather.

After coming back, I know I need to start building my future. I have to get started on the goals I had set before I entered university. No more student activities, no more fun. Even though such activities still excite me, my self-discipline has got to take over. That was why I decided to pull out of Synergy’s NAF concert in order to dedicate my time and energy for my goals. I really really want to perform for it, but I know I will not make it out of this vicious cycle and will still be stuck in delusion if I don’t make this difficult decision. This is the semester which make or break.

Stutterers need your patience

For the purpose of this, I will use the word stutter instead of stammer. And they mean the same.

I am a stutterer, and I can’t help it.

Yes, for those of you who know me well enough, you will hear me stutter(stammer) frequently. I can’t explain it but when I get too comfortable with speaking to someone, the frequency of my stuttering increases. Whereas the normal case should be the other way round.

I have seen and experienced it myself, that some people just like to make fun of stutterers and while I can tolerate the jokes, I believe many others feel hurt because it is not something we want. I know it could be annoying, and it is annoying for us too! We have no control over it, just like how sufferers of seizures can’t. It attacks more often than not, in the least expected situations like a casual talk with friends. On the contrary, although I worry about stuttering during presentations, it has yet to occur. Now, even doctors find it hard to explain.

My dad is a stutterer, and a heavy one at that, so naturally I believed my condition to be a genetic one. When I was a child, I used to stutter more than I do now. I am glad that the condition improved. While there is no exclusive explanation for the causes and mechanism of stuttering, let me share what is going on inside my brain when I stutter. I would probably describe my condition as both a speech block and repetition of words/syllable.

As I talk, usually images and words appear in my mind before they come out of my mouth so I could articulate my ideas and content. If I am too comfortable talking, my brain tend to relax and go into a half asleep mode. I could get stuck somehow because the part of my brain that controls speech just refuses to process the word! Or it could be me talking too fast for my brain to process the words and images (so my mouth has nothing to say). For example I could be wanting to say the sentence, “So he told me that he has to create another folder because it is too messy.”

I could get stuck at the word, “create”, so I could be saying, “cre-cre-cre-create”. As I am very conscious of this situation and want to avoid it, I would restrain myself from repeating and forcing the word out. Thus it will result in this awkward pause, “creeeee…(take a long breath) create”.

Also, in order to avoid the repetition of syllable, I would sometimes use substitutes. In this example, I may say, “So he told me that he has to cr… make another folder because it is too messy.” Well it certainly trained my brain to think fast because most of the time the word that is blocked won’t even get time on stage before being masked. It may thus appear like this, “So he told me that he has to … make another folder because it is too messy.”

Sometimes the substitute word can be damn weird. “So he told me that he has to … form another folder because it is too messy.” And although the sentence is understandable, it doesn’t make proper sense. Other times, I may just change them to Mandarin words.

And sometimes I could even get stuck on the first word! Like, “Theeeee (fuck me) Theeeee (fuck la) That day blah blah”. I do curse myself for being unable to speak properly, but we need your patience.

If friends who know me didn’t know of my condition, I would say that it’s probably me masking it well or that I may not feel comfortable enough around them (which means my brain is working hard).

I regard myself as having above average self-confidence, and getting laughed at for stuttering is not something to be concerned about. However, I still feel injustice for stutterers who are being made fun of. It could potentially destroy someone’s self-esteem and worsen his condition. Please stop it if you’re guilty of making fun of stutterers. And with that, I would like to help heavy stutterers to improve their conditions.

And if you’re thinking of what to say to stutterers, these are not what we want to hear.

I don’t know how much of this makes sense to fellow stutterers, but if you want to share how your brain is wired differently, or have unforgettable interactions with people, I would like to know.