Is anyone still reading this? I wouldn't be surprised if you all gave up on it. Nevertheless, I feel guilty enough to bang out an entry right now, even though I don't think there's much to write about.

Work is work. The crisis has momentarily passed, though another is set to rear its head. Meanwhile, I've had several days at work to catch up on my day-to-day stuff, i.e. speech-writing, attending to public complaints, analysing the daily local media coverage of education issues, sorting out some other miscellany, and attending meetings. I don't spend a horrendous amount of time in meetings, but there already have been times when I wish I could get away with skipping the meeting and just reading the minutes. Oh, they don't call them minutes where I work; they're called "Notes of Meeting" or NOMs. Don't ask me why. "Minutes" is such a short and functional word.

Work was so good this past week that I got to leave the office at about six on Thursday and Friday. 'Tis a miracle. Of course, on Monday, an emergency meeting took us till eight pm, though it was chaired by the loveliest woman in the entire ministry, whom I'm now rooting for to get promoted big-time because the civil service needs more delightfully human and warm people like her.

At home, we've been cooking and we've cleared a space on our cluttered dining table so that the two of us can sit down to dinner every now and then. Don't imagine anything of banquet-like proportions when I say 'cooking'. So far, the week's home-cooked menu's included Hillshire Farm sausages (with sinful cheddar baked in), spaghetti/fettucine bolognaise and spicy chicken wings stewed in beer. We're supposed to go to the store in a while to stock up. Cooking is by far more relaxing than having to figure out every day at six or seven pm what we want for dinner. It also helps us to save money, which is always a priority with us.

This morning, I was at the bank at opening time to get crisp, new dollar bills for ang pows (red packets). Yes, it's that time of the year again. Chinese New Year falls on next Tuesday and Wednesday, for those of you out of the loop, so we married types are obliged to hand out pretty little red envelopes with money to our unmarried younger relatives and parental/grandparental units. The tradition's all right, but the bank was really insistent today that the minimum one had to exchange in order to get $2 bills was $200! I only needed $50 worth of $2 bills at the most --- what was I gonna do with the rest (besides eventually spend it)? So I took the wad over to my mom's and traded half of it with her. She had been to a different bank yesterday and they'd instituted a minimum of $100 exchanged for $2 bills. Next year, I'm asking her to get the dollar bills for me.

I also had to go to my mom's to bring her the pineapple tarts I'd bought her, for which she gave me some peanut puffs (gok zai) that she'd baked. However, this is my mother, so along the way she also offered me some ham, fruit, chocolates, cookies and various other foods to bring home; I accepted only two pears. What is it about moms and feeding their adult offspring? Every now and then, Terz's mom calls us too and tells us to pick up some food she's bought for us. They must all really think we don't eat healthfully --- which to an extent is true, but it's funny how you're not living with them and they still keep piling you with food.

The best thing about the Chinese New Year is that I only work till one pm on Monday (which is just enough time to get the daily media analysis but nothing else done, hurrah!) and we get Tuesday and Wednesday off. So it's almost like a long weekend for me already.

The sad news today is that the former President of Singapore Ong Teng Cheong passed away. I don't have a great deal of personal affection for him or anything, but he was one of the political fixtures when I was growing up and I suppose there's more nostalgia for the '80s tied in to my feelings at his passing than anything else.

The really funny thing is how Lee Kuan Yew outlives everyone. Or maybe that's more creepy than funny.

Speaking of which, anyone know what happened to Ahmad Mattar?

Terz wants me to watch that godawful comedy with Frasier and Rob Schneider and Lauren Holly and a submarine. I can't remember the title, but I'll look it up in IMDB later. I just had Anchors Aweigh in full choral mode blasting from the living room, so I'd better go check on him.


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