Code fixed! The true wonder of the internet is that it allows you to peek at other people's code and see what you did wrong with yours. My mistake earlier was not having a target for the page. Now I do and it's all better. Yay me!

PS: Newly discovered thought for the day: A Four-Letter Word by Sars.

Wow, the Prime Minister got through his speech in just under an hour and he didn't announce any major changes to the educational system. He must be having a pretty good day. I'm glad I didn't go, though. It sounded to me --- and I confess I was only paying partial attention to the TV switched on in the next room --- like he was using the occasion as an excuse to trot out all teaching-related stories from his lifetime, and I'm sorry, but a man who looks deathly serious when he described Singapore as a "funky city" (as he did in the National Day Rally message a couple of weeks ago) cannot possibly be entertaining when he's reliving his schooldays.

Okay, I can't get the Javascript to work right in Dreamweaver. I want the above link to my old Teachers' Day gripe to open in a new window, without opening in the existing (journal) window as well. Right now, it's opening in both and I'm not in the mood to fix it, so I'm going to leave it broke. If anyone wants to enlighten me as to what is coded wrong or missing, send me e-mail [Ed: Email link removed]! If not, I'll figure it out tomorrow or something ---

[Ed: Names have been changed in the following entry because I used to happily sprinkle friends' and colleague's real names all over the web, but now I know better.]

Lucky me. When I logged on two hours ago to print out notes for tonight's International Economics class (the lecturer always mails out his notes in PDF format on the day of the class), I was rewarded with the news that he is unable to have class tonight. So I'm free, free! I was originally scheduled to go to the Prime Minister's Teachers' Day Rally, but when I realized I had a conflict with class, I cajoled a colleague into going in my stead --- which is a real pity because I want to go for the Rally, not out of some misplaced political optimism but because I'm pretty sure the PM is going to launch some new bombshell about the direction of education tonight and I would've liked to be there to hear it and fall out of my seat in shock.

So I'll have to settle for listening to it on TV at 7:32 pm, which is when the local global news channel (and I'm quite aware of the possible oxymoron in that phrase) is going to broadcast said rally. I'm sure if it's some drastic piece of news, my husband will message me immediately so that I can fall out of my computer chair here at home in sync with him.

Anyways. While waiting for 7:32 pm to swing round, I'll catch up on the last two days' events.

Thursday was uneventful. My JC2 (an abbreviation for second-year junior college) students took their General Paper Preliminary examination in the morning. Most of them were suitably horrified at the difficulty of the exam. I must confess that the passage that was set for the comprehension part of the exam was something with such sophisticated style that I wouldn't've even handed it out for class reading. The vocabulary ranged from "triage" to "genuflexion" (and spelled archaically with an 'x') and finally "perpetuum", which I was convinced was a word coined by the writer but one of my colleagues who set the exam assured me that it existed in its own right.

My colleagues and I now fear the worst for the students' results, though part of me --- the intellectually snobbish part --- has no compassion for the students, since I'm convinced that anyone who reads half as widely as the General Paper course requires them to read would have no trouble completing the comprehension exercise. Of course, I'm privileged to teach a very bright, very motivated class who digests articles from The Economist or Salon without much ado; most of the GP students at my school complain if they have to read a one-page Time essay.

Post-examination, I hid in the computer lab and scanned more Vancouver/Seattle pictures. Can I just reiterate how much I love the HP 3400 that my school bought?

Post-scannage, I went for lunch with two colleagues: HS, who sits beside me, and Mel, who sits in my row. We are great pals partly because we all went to junior college in the very school where we now teach together. We were all students in the Humanities Program, though in different classes and without knowing each other very well then. We're much more buddy-buddy with each other now that we teach together and the same subjects too (i.e. General Paper and English literature). We had lunch at Secret Recipe --- which, for you map-reading Singaporeans out there, is across the street from Henry Park Primary School --- and the spicy chicken cornish gets my firm two thumbs' up.

I took the car yesterday, so I had to pick Terz from his school at 2ish in the afternoon. He had his hair cut at Parkway Parade --- a neighborhood shopping center --- while I went a little nuts in The Body Shop. Okay, so I just wanted to get some perfume there because I've been getting an itch with my regular perfumes and I figure The Body Shop stuff is more hypoallergenic. But of course, they turn out to be having a sale with a good deal on this and that --- and by the time I walk out of the store, I've spent fifty bucks on the perfume and some cotton swabs and a bath lily, all of which entitled me to a free pack of sample-sized products. What can I say? I'm a sucker for free gifts.

In the afternoon, I slept. I've been low on sleep all week this week, mostly because my sleep cycle got a little knocked out of whack from seeing G off to London at the airport at midnight on Monday. I got up at 6, showered, got dressed, bugged Terz to get dressed, then we headed off for our respective Teachers' Day dinners. (More about what the hell Teachers' Day is in a while, for you non-Singaporean fans out there.)

My school's dinner was at the Grand Copthorne Hotel, which sounds grander than it is. It was a neat ballroom --- one of those without pillars, of which I heartily approve --- and the food and service was decent. But the hired entertainment --- oh God, the entertainment. The dinner was organised by the parents' association of my college, and I don't know where they got the entertainment company, but the emcee was awful: making off-color jokes in an attempt to elicit a response from the audience because his on-color jokes were so lame that no one laughed; hounding people to play silly table games (I refuse on principle to play any game that requires putting a coin in one's ear); shouting more and more loudly into the mike because everyone was trying to ignore him and get on with their dinner; and eventually graduating to point-blank offensive 'humor' by the night's end. His name is Desmond Lim --- don't ever hire him unless you want your party wrecked. Oh, and get this: the dinner theme was "A Night of Elegance". They must've forgotten to order the 'elegant' part of the evening. I knew we were in for a long night when the headmaster and principal (it was a combined dinner for my school and its affiliated institution) got up to pop the champagne for the toast at the beginning of the evening, their attempt at dignity was interrupted by the abrupt blaring of Gerri Halliwell's "It's Raining Men" over the amplifiers.

Terz's dinner was at a restaurant at the World Trade Centre. As my envious colleague noted, the Catholics always know how to throw a good party. (He was upset at having to pay for his own beer at our dinner, considering that he'd had six by the time we were a-third of the way through dinner.) However, we had better lucky draw prizes at ours, although I'm not sure why someone thought it'd be a good idea if the top two prizes were air tickets and accomodation at Hatyai (a renowned sex resort in Thailand) and Jakarta (offering a bird's eye view of the latest riots) respectively.

Getting up this morning was hard, because by the time we got back from our dinners, it was after midnight. But today was a painless day at work because all I had to do was show up for the Teachers' Day concert. What is Teachers' Day, you might ask? Here's a gripe I wrote about it two years ago. Today's proceedings were much like any other year's, except that I had a really good conversation with my colleague O in the morning --- she was keeping an eye on the concert performers while they were waiting their turn on stage and I thought to keep her company for a bit --- and I got loads of nifty cards and few gifts. I like getting few gifts. I mean, I'm not in this job for the loot, though it's nice to get presents. The best gift I had this year was a PowerPuff Girls file, followed closely by a copy of Kurt Vonnegut's Cat's Cradle. I'm not dissing Vonnegut, but he just can't compete with the PPG in my superficial little heart. The cards, on the other hand, were a real affirmation for me. It's always nice to hear a thank-you, whatever form it takes. I keep the cards; many gifts, I confess, I forget about.

The real treat for me today was having coffee with J. J was the chairperson last year of [name removed to protect the innocent], the school activity I'm in charge of. I know her fairly well because we get along and we also went on the college history trip to the US together in 1999. Come to think of it, however, I know all my chairpersons pretty well. Anyway, I wanted to catch up with J before she enrols at the University of Chicago in a couple of weeks and we rounded off our conversation with tentative plans for me to teach her to play mahjong next week. Her friends always call her tai-tai, see (local slang for a socialite -- you know, pouffy hair, big rings, leopard print pants and the works), but she can't be a real tai-tai until she learns to play mahjong. So if she can round up two other willing friends, I've offered to give her a crash course next week, since I'm having a fairly work-free week of school vacation. My husband and I have taught lots of people to play mahjong, even a Eurasian friend of ours for whom we had to write out the translations of certain Chinese characters, so that she knew which matched with which.

After bidding J and her pal G goodbye, I headed into Watson's --- a pharmacy imported from Hong Kong --- and went crazy again. Okay, not as crazy as I could have, but I spent twenty bucks on shampoo and handsoap for the husband and feminine hygiene products for me. Something's wrong with that equation. Last weekend, I bought shampoo, razor blades and moisturizer for moi and it came to twenty-five bucks. Grrrrrr.

Then I came home and slept, always a safely economical pursuit, particularly since it was a cool enough day that I slept right through the afternoon without having to turn on the airconditioning.

And now my journal is done (for now) and I'm off to play with website ideas for the photo section. Let's see if I can churn it all out tonight.


I just watched the episode of The X-Files where Scully's running all over the place trying to figure out if her mysterious pregnancy means she's carrying an alien fetus, like all these other pregnant women that are popping up in the episode ---and man, does this show lack Duchovny. He's in about half the episode --in flashback scenes, private moments between Mulder and Scully --- and those are the only scenes that make the rest of the episode make sense. Bring back Mulder! Doggett's sweet in his own way but let's face it: Robert Patrick will always be the Terminator. Mulder and Scully will scmoulder forever.

The middle of my left back has been aching all day. I suspect I slept funny last night. As long as I haven't 'caught' the backaches that were plaguing my husband a few weeks ago ---

Happy Hump Day! -- That's what my dorm friend in college used to say because Wednesday is smack in the middle of the work week, so it's like a hump, see?

The first thing I did today outside of my usual routine was to upload this journal. This was not as easy as it sounds. For one thing, I allowed myself to loll around in bed for a good fifteen minutes longer than I was supposed to, which ate into what is usually the 10-15 minutes I dedicate to checking e-mail and news headlines before I leave for work. Furthermore, my uploading software was acting up because I'd overlooked a couple of essential steps in installing it, which took a few extra minutes to fix. Fortunately, the colleague with whom I ride to work has been leaving a little later than our appointed time lately -- and I'm not complaining, since we still make it to work on time -- so I allowed myself the extra couple of minutes to make sure all the files were in the right place and loading correctly, then gulped down my coffee, dashed through the morning dishes (i.e. two coffee mugs, one coffee pot and the plastic filter, because I hate to leave them lying around coffee-stained all day), poured all my stuff from yesterday's brown handbag into today's black one (I have too many bags) and scrambled out the door.

The first real thing I did at work today was to e-mail my friends and tell them about this journal. Hullo, you all!

Work was great, in that I didn't have to teach any classes and merely held consultation hours. I also scanned some photographs of our Vancouver/Seattle trip in June; I discovered two days ago that we have new HP 3400 Scanjets in the computer labs and they are fast babies, so I'm finally taking steps towards creating that web album I've been promising people for over a year now. All I need is another webpage design idea, and I'm good to go.

I had to observe some project work lessons in the afternoon, but that's not important. What is extremely important is that I found out today that Mr Brown is back online! His site is focused on Singapore, so you won't get the jokes unless you live here and/or follow the local news, but I can't tell you how much I've missed him! His latest editions of SNE had me cackling to myself in minutes, to the point that when a student interrupted me to ask me something, I had to wave him away for a few minutes till I stopped laughing and then I had to tell him all the wonderful things about BrownTown, before I eventually let him speak. My only fear now is that the site will get shut down by the Singapore government -- that would be a dark day in Singapore history indeed.

Another excellent satirical Singapore-oriented website, by the way, is TalkingCock.com -- but I'm sure you knew that already.

After a healthy dose of Mr Brown's humor, I headed home. Taking the train home during rush hour wasn't as awful as usual because I was armed with Mrs Dalloway and determined to get through a chunk of it during my thirty-minute ride. The book has been sadly neglected in my busyness these last few weeks and it's the first Virginia Woolf novel that I've really liked. My goal is to finish it within the week, which shouldn't be a problem if I take the train home tomorrow and Friday.

The only downer today has been the realization that I need to write five solid recommendations for five aspiring Oxford-Cambridge students of mine -- all by the end of next week, before my 228 scripts (see yesterday's entry) descend on my desk. That's going to be a real chore, not because the students are difficult to write for but because of the pressure of knowing that this is a reference that might make or break their entry into either university. Dammit.

Last night's Gilmore Girls was refreshingly sound. Christopher (who is equal parts George Clooney and Brad Pitt in his cockiness) has been satisfactorily dispatched and I have to admit I don't mind that Lorelai got a little nookie while he was in town. Alas, poor G, who has to wait till December to watch this fine, fine episode.


Ahhh --- the very first entry of a new book. It's almost as exhilarating as the feeling of cracking open a new notebook and entering the date. I used to keep a journal fanatically, beginning with a very perfunctory diary in my teenage years (hardly more than a jotter of what I did each day), graduating to full-blown verbal diarrhoea in my senior high and college days, before winding down to absolutely nothing after my husband-then-best-friend and I had a meeting of minds, and I found myself not needing to write things down anymore.

This is not to imply that I need to write things down now because he is no longer adequate as a repository for my thoughts and fancies. No, I blame this reversion to old habit firmly on my friends who keep avid online journals, got me hooked reading them and finally guilted me into keeping my own.

So here's what I did today.

It's been a light week at work because the JC2s (examination-bound graduating class, for you non-Singaporeans out there) are having their Preliminary science practical examinations this week and the Arts students whom I teach have mostly decided to give themselves the week off, even though they aren't officially exempted from school during this time. Most of my classes have been sporadically attended for the past few weeks as JC2 students swot up at home for their big year-end examinations. I'm not complaining. I'm finally getting a breather after the absolute madness of the last two months and I need this breather because come September 12, I will be inundated with examination scripts and have less than two weeks to finish grading them all 228 of them. You heard me right: 228 English essays (most of which promise to be illegible, given the fact that students are writing them under conditions of extreme heat and emotional duress) in less than fourteen days. In fact, if I did the math right (and I do, sometimes), I have nine days to grade them all. Yay me. This is why I became a teacher, you know.

And already I digress beyond the tried-and-true diaric formula of "what I did today".

So today, I taught some classes, which generally entailed giving students reassurances of how much they knew and pretending I knew all three books I'd taught them inside out, even though I hadn't touched one of them in almost a year. I also spent a good deal of time surfing the internet. I love surfing the internet. I go through phases of being phenomenally addicted to it, then hating the very sight of a web browser (and no, it's not just IE that brings out this side of me), and right now I'm in addict-mode. I blame it firmly on my International Relations class, which gets me all excited about interpreting current international affairs by applying all the theories we're studying -- but if you ask my husband, he'll tell you I've been addicted to the internet for as long as he's known me. Heck, we had some of our best conversations over ICQ in the early days.

Again, with the digression. Bah.

After school, my delightful husband picked me up, dutifully interrupting an impromptu college counselling session with one of my students. Fortunately, she was easy-going enough that she didn't care that he parked himself right next to us and proceeded to interrupt us appropriately whenever he could bring up his alma mater. (I'm a college/guidance counselor in my high school -- a shocking number of our students apply to US universities.) After I was done with her, the husband and I met my aunt/insurance agent at the bank to do some boring adult foo, then went for coffee, during which she again inadvertently depressed me with these exorbitant calculations as to how much money one needs to save now in order to have sufficient money for retirement in fifty years' time (assuming you die at 82). I tell you, someone's calculator must be broken because these numbers just can't be true.

That's too depressing to think about. Happy thoughts: we bought a printer that now resides on my computer table because there's no room on Terz's for it. It's a Canon LBP-810 and it's the standard computer hue of white-gray. It was a spontaneous purchase, which means I'll regret it when I evaluate my finances on the eve of the next payday, but we've been putting off getting one since we moved here two years ago. All we have to do is find another low bookshelf so that we can rearrange some stuff in this computer room, and we'll have space to set up the scanner as well. Check back with us in about a year regarding this -- my husband and I are both equally procrastinatory about things.

Post-printer-purchase, I returned home and designed this journal website, which made me late for my 8 pm appointment, which made me late getting home here, but now this is done and I can go to bed. I'm dutifully taping Gilmore Girls for G (hello, London boy!) and will watch it tomorrow; it's the episode after Lorelai's ex-boyfriend aka father-of-her-beautiful-perfect-daughter shows up and I have a feeling he is going to irritate me a lot. Get back with Luke, you foolish Lorelai!

But I'm starting to sound like MightyBigTV so I will STOP NOW thank you. Goodnight!

A Person's Most Private Place

"A diary is like a person's most private place! I... You don't even know what I
was writing about!"
-- Buffy, "Angel"

So I decided I should keep a journal.

I also decided that it should be uber-low maintenance, because anything requiring additional coding or debugging or even imagination on my part --- and God knows I have really no aptitude for any of the above --- would mean that this journal would never make it beyond an idea that exists on my hard drive. So I'm not even making a graphic for the banner frame above [Ed: Obviously that top frame *shudder* no longer exists in this incarnation] and thank God for Dreamweaver and its preset framesets.

I furthermore decided -- in the spirit of all things BtVS-inspired on my website -- to hunt up an old quote from the first season of BtVS which rather accurately sums up the paradoxical nature of web journals, even though it was written in 1997, viz.:

  • A diary is ostensibly a person's most private place.
  • A diary (aka journal) published and updated on the web cannot offer any such assurance of privacy.
  • People who read diaries published on the web usually don't know what the author is writing about because the whole purpose of web journals seems to be to lure people you'd never otherwise meet in person to become enthralled by and addicted to accounts of your wholly mundane life.

Nevertheless, here we are in an age where online journals are thriving across the uncontrollable vastness of the web.
The main reason I'm keeping this journal is because I know loads of people who do and I feel I ought to return them the favor. We'll see how it takes.

PS: The reason this is not a LiveJournal is that I'm already paying for my own domain name, so I might as well have my own private site. Besides, LiveJournal is frankly too successful for its own good -- which means that most of the time when I try to read my friends' pages (paid or free), the server doesn't respond. Best wishes to LJ in its upgrading of servers and best wishes to me in my attempt at writing with the consistency of my LJ friends.

Tym [Ed: Okay, I used to sign off with my real name, but I don't with Tym Blogs Too, so I'm going to edit all references thereof to 'Tym'.]
who signs off with her real name because she's not planning to publicize this page, so if you're not actually a friend of hers and wound up reading some of this garble anyways, please drop her a line [Ed: Email address removed to elude spamdevils] so she knows and can marvel further at the power of the Internet. (Not even at a journal entry yet, and I'm already talking about myself in the third person.)