The thing about spending the better part of a day with Stellou is that you never know where it'll take you.

There might be breakfast at Ang Mo Kio Street 61. Not pictured are the chwee kueh (as mr brown defines it: "steamed rice cake topped with chopped preserved radish"), fishball noodles, "black" carrot cake, iced chendol and thick, fragrant coffee that we leisurely put away over the course of one and a half hours.


There might be a car ride downtown to Shenton Way. Stellou approved of the multitude of pink shoes, of course.

In case of a shoe emergency

There might be Santa Claus grinning down at you from the shiny aluminium wall of a Japanese restaurant, completely unperturbed that his traditional salutation has been thrown into reverse. This is also the restaurant that also seems to be the only place open at lunchtime at Katong Village, its neighbours being fine nocturnal establishments like Beer Belly Pub and Chevy 57.

Backwards greeting

There might be an MRT ride to town later, en route to which we discover that even our humble park names can be bought and paid for by international corporations. Americans and their Tostitos Fiesta Bowl or Busch Memorial Stadium might be used to this sort of usurpation, but I'm a little dismayed that it's snuck into our public spaces. Next thing you know, we'll have the Creative National Stadium or Osim Singapore League.

Whose park is it anyway?

Eventually, there might be a great deal of rummaging at Kinokuniya, followed by a decorous farewell at the platform of Orchard MRT station. Most importantly, there has been the repeated uttering of the immortal lines, "There's this girl from Singapore I met in London, and she's so cool, you know, she's so cool that we keep forgetting that, yah lah, like you, we forget that she is not an IJ girl but she's so cool anyway."

Thank ... you ... ?


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Without a trace

I have a couple of days' blogging to catch up on, but first: what the hell happened to the Europa outlet that used to be squeezed between the Thai Embassy and International Building along Orchard Road?

Where's Europa gone?

This is all that greeted Ondine and I when we were looking for a place to chill out tonight. Where's Europa??!

Now I'll have to hunt for a new oasis in Orchard Road that doesn't overcharge and isn't plagued by teenagers or children...


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The thing about Gmail is ---

Theory: "Gmail is an experiment in a new kind of webmail, built on the idea that you should never have to delete mail ... "

Reality: Sometimes you want to delete mail --- for instance, when you receive one of those job rejection one-liner emails.

Actuality: I don't delete the job rejection email because Gmail's generous disk quota means I don't need to free up space for incoming emails, and the packrat in me would like to have the rejection email on file "just in case" it ever becomes useful in the future.

Clearly, this whole "never have to delete mail" feature merely aggravates my latent packrat, trivia-hoarding tendencies.


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A conundrum

I am no longer able to function without an afternoon nap.

I start a temp job next week.

Die lah.



After the turkey

Outside, looking in

At a popiah party, it would be judicious to have the guy who actually has a relative in the popiah business to come early and make neat, packed rolls for everyone to partake of. However, he arrived last tonight, after we'd all slopped our way through our amateur versions, so we could only watch in awe at the flair with which he put his together.

Guest: I thought this was a healthy dinner. Why is there satay and [fried] chicken wings?
Hostess: Oh, that's for the carnivores --- the ones that die die must have meat one.
Said guest went on to eat mostly satay and chicken wings.

Food aside, it is quite something to share a dinner table with someone who describes herself as a breastfeeder and another whose primary job description is to prevent all the hazardous materials at her workplace from blowing up.

A little of this, a little of that


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Playing the customer

When I got to the bank at 2 pm and expressed an interest in opening an account, the receptionist pursed her lips mildly and said, "Uh --- there's a long queue now, you'll have to wait about, uh, one hour." But she quickly rescued me from this dismal prospect by saying, "Can I have your name and telephone number, and we'll call you when it's almost your turn?"

The downside was that after I hadn't received any such call about 40 minutes later, I decided I'd better check back at the bank --- whereupon I found that there was only one person ahead of me in the queue. And just after I'd seated myself in the waiting area proper, they called my name. So perhaps their whole "we'll call you when it's almost your turn" system isn't quite up and running yet.

The upside was that within 15 minutes, I had my bank account, my very first chequebook from a Singapore bank, and they'd also linked my accounts to a single ATM card.

The single security hitch was when I couldn't reproduce my old signature (a fairly legible version of my name, you can pretty much read each word) in order to access funds from an existing account. My current, evolved signature is much more scrawly, more slanted lines than recognisable letters. I had to eyeball a copy of the old one, then re-sign the form carefully. But at least I know that the bank checks signatures and doesn't just let forms slip by without appropriate scrutiny.

(This is what really stresses me out each time I go overseas and have to fill out a customs form, by the way --- a deep-seated fear that I will not be able to replicate the signature in my passport, which predates the one on the bank account, then I'll be screwed. And at customs, no less.)

So, despite the no-phone-call-when-it-was-my-turn, DBS Parkway Parade scores an overall B+ for service.

The Body Shop in Parkway Parade, on the other hand --- tsk, tsk. When I waved a tube of the facial cleanser I use at the sales assistant and asked if they had it in stock, she looked uncertain. As I averred that I hadn't seen it on the shelves except for the tester tube in my hand, she said that it was probably out of stock.

This was the second Body Shop to tell me that, and the last time this happened to me, it turned out that the Singapore shops had stopped importing the item I was using. So it was in a stricken tone that I asked the sales assistant, "Are you still bringing it in?" She assured me so, but couldn't tell me when stock would arrive (even though all the other items in that range were in stock). "But I'm almost out of it," I fretted. She suggested I look at the rest of their facial cleanser range. "No, no, the rest smell funny," I said, rather tactlessly, I suppose, but they do.

A few doors down, at The Natural Source, they had an inoffensive-smelling facial cleanser. The sales assistant claimed it wasn't on sale, but when she rang it up, there was a 20% discount. And she approached me in the store, not the other way around as in The Body Shop, even though both shops were equally busy with customers (that is to say, there was one other customer than myself present).

I'm just sayin', is all.


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Why I sleep with my cellphone by my bed

So that I can pick it up within three rings when Terz calls at 3 am to say that the driver he's with has been pulled over by the cops for drunk driving.

The other object lesson is about why you should always keep your cellphone battery charged: so that when it's 3 am and your friend's been pulled over for drunk driving, and you yourself are over the legal limit for driving, you can still call your wife or your friend to come drive the car to Police HQ until the whole case is sorted out and then to drive the lot of you home.

Now I know why parents of teenaged or adult children are so terrified of receiving that phone call in the middle of the night, and why they always go crazy if the call comes. It's a cold shock to one's system to have the phone shrill in the dead of the night, and then, while you're still groggy, to have the voice of a loved one telling you that Something Bad has happened. You're not mad at the kid or the other persons involved, so much as struggling to put the pieces together while all is dark and still, and all your circadian instincts are completely out of sync. On the grand scale of things, last night's phone call wasn't anything bad at all, but my sleep-fogged brain still took at least fifteen minutes to figure that out and settle down.

Anyway, I didn't get to play the sober heroine in last night's adventure. Aanother friend of ours was actually still awake and fully functioning when Terz called him, so he came to the rescue instead.

It seems that the penalty for the first time you fail the cops' breathalyser test is a stiff fine and an immediate suspension of your driving privileges from one year. Hm.


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The season for feasting

Fruitcake All lined up Shoes

There was cake. It was none too sweet, which is how I like my fruitcake, but it had an unfortunate predisposition to crumble to bits the instant a knife was applied to it. So Fourth Uncle (who cooks) christened it "fruit crumble", Fifth Aunt (who bakes) deduced that its disintegratory nature was due to it being too well-packed with fruit and nuts, and the family picked at it anyway and consumed at least half of it in one afternoon.

There were chairs and benches, all lined up for the pretty people to come take their places for the family portrait. We had two absentees, unfortunately AWOL for the afternoon due to an unfavourable encounter with an oyster, but all six children and the one babe-in-arms (I miscounted the last time) made it and were less trouble getting in line than all the adults.

There were many shoes, because that's what happens when forty-two people converge on the same location and immediately flee into the house to escape the maddening afternoon heat.

I wish I had pictures also of the excellent turkey (don't knock Cold Storage, people) and the sweet sweet ham and the heady homemade oxtail soup, the extended family engrossed by episode after episode of The Family Guy, my mom and Ondine orchestrating the last-minute gift exchange (where some people got ragged handwritten notes that said ,"Merry Christmas" or "Better luck next time"), my five-year-old cousin "feeding" keropok (fried crackers) to the stuffed tiger on the floor or Terz chilling out with a beer after the photo shoot.

Well, I tried to take pictures of some of that, but I have a shaky hand. In lieu of that, check out what we had for dinner at X-man's last night.

Xmas Eve food


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Of phones and things

As Xmas Eve crept past midnight and officially became Xmas proper, my cellphone remained silent. The only SMS greeting I eventually received chimed in at 1:46 am, and it was from my Pilates instructor, whom I haven't seen in about three months. It seems that everyone else I know had wisely decided not to bother with the typical barrage of SMS greetings that battle with each other for the limited airwaves at midnight --- hurrah!

At about 6:30 am, my cellphone rang rang rang loudly, and I practically fell out of bed trying to get to it.
ME: (very warily) Hello?"
Caller: *indistinct words*
ME: Who are you looking for?
Caller: *more indistinct words* [or maybe I just wasn't awake enough to comprehend the sounds]
ME: (more testily) Who are you calling for?
Caller: (abruptly completely intelligible) ... Melanie. I'm calling from Melbourne and trying to reach Melanie and the number I have is XXXX-XXXX.
ME: You have the right number, but it's my number. There's no Melanie.
Caller: Oh, I'm sorry about that. *click*
And I crawled back into bed and tried to fall back asleep.

At least he was polite about it.

Merry Xmas, everybody!



On the eve of ... whatever

You know Stellou is a sharp one when it's almost midnight and she can say, with perfect aplomb, "You didn't have a plaster on your finger when we were out this afternoon, right?" That was also my cue to tell her the story of the fingernail that's been half-broken since Thursday afternoon: it hasn't quite come off but threatens to bleed assiduously when it does, so last night I'd slapped on a Handyplast to keep it in place.

Miraculously, pre-Handyplast, it did not get ripped off in the afternoon despite the many opportunities for such a mishap when Stellou, cour marly and I were gallivanting through Little India and fondling all manner of tchotchkes, bangles, spices and sweets. I could describe it all but it would take too long, and besides, cour marly's snapshots say it all. At least now I can say I've been to Mustafa's (the Ali Baba's cave of a 24-hour department store in Singapore, not the planet where Anakin Skywalker falls into a lava pit).

Thoroughly refreshed by an iced Milo (the sweetest in all of Singapore, even without the whipped cream topping) at Mustafa's Cafe, I took it into my head that we needed to go to Muji, so we walked over, never mind this pesky thing known as a mid-afternoon monsoonal shower.

I think the subliminal reason I wanted to go to Muji was because I've had my eye on their minimalist Xmas trees since November, and there's no better time to pick one up than on the eve of Xmas eve. So now we have our very first Xmas tree.

Xmas tree

In the grand spirit of procrastination, I only set it up at about 5 pm today. But the old tinsel and mini-wreaths for the front door still aren't up. Ahem.

The best moment at last night's party was when I was in a conversation with two other people, and one of them said, "Wow, I'm sitting here with two teachers," and I got to interject, "No, no, ex-teacher," while pointing to myself. (Okay, still on the payroll till December 31, but for all intents and purposes, I'm pretty much the ex at this point.) Yeah, that felt good.

Merry Xmas Eve, everyone.


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On the eve of Xmas eve

You figure the Xmas season is when life in an urban environment gets a little crazy and people get a little neglectful of their blogs and things. But that is not my excuse.

Xmas has actually been pretty painless for us this year. Procrastination always helps: We still haven't put up any Xmas decor, save for the Xmas table runner. And instead of sending paper cards, I decided I would save some trees and send pseudo e-cards (i.e. an email with an image attached, as opposed to a graphic/animation file that's actually designed to serve as an animated/interactive card) --- which I just sat down and emailed all in the last twelve hours.

But I also did some of my Xmas shopping online (thanks, Sarah!) and managed to pick up the rest without being mortally wounded by the downtown shopping crowds. And my mother has just informed me that we don't have to bring anything for ye olde Xmas family gathering besides the homemade fruitcake I offered to buy.

Of course, the latter mercy is double-edged: we're absolved because Terz will have to, er, work on Xmas. My grandfather has decreed that he would like us to all take a family photograph on Xmas Day. Okay, "decreed" is a little harsh because my grandfather is the mildest person in the world and doesn't decree anything. But precisely because he so rarely expresses a preference, that when he does, it takes on the air of a decree. Plus Terz owes him a favour from a photo project last year.

So on Xmas day, we will haul Terz's camera, lenses, lights et al to the family gathering place. In the evening, Terz will somehow organise 44 members of the grand extended family (including 6 children and 2 babes-in-arms) into an aesthetically pleasing arrangement in the garden and try to get everyone to focus and smile, or at least not look daft, at the same time.

Yesterday, my mother called to ask, "What if it rains?"


* * *

So that's Xmas in my family. For my best friend, Xmas came early in the form of an extremely cute baby boy, who currently alternates his time between sleeping, deigning to open one eye at us and snuggling with his mommy. He's also good at pooping and clutching adult fingers.

Baby finger

It is miraculous to think that he will never be this small again, and certainly not this wrinkly for quite a long while.

While I was visiting yesterday, the father came in with the paperwork for registering the baby's birth. He needed me to write his name in Chinese characters on some form, since my best friend's writing hand was sort of occupied with cradling the baby. (Daddy is pretty much Chinese-illiterate.) It was only after I'd done the deed --- fortunately, with none of those excruciatingly complicated Chinese words involved --- that I found out that I'd been writing on the birth certificate itself and that my feeble Chinese handwriting would be immortalised thereon.

Hopefully, the kid doesn't think his mom's Chinese handwriting (on a related form) or mine is the pinnacle of Chinese calligraphy or anything.

After I left, the best friend SMSed me to say she thinks the boy looks like the Claymation character, Morph.


* * *

Other things I have been busy with include work (both looking for it and experimenting with different types thereof) and entertaining Stellou, home for the holidays, to whom we can credit this gem of a remark:
"I can find my way places. I am a worm."
I also cleared out my desk at what will soon be my former workplace, so that the guy inheriting it can move in before the new (school) year begins. One last errand there next week, then I'll turn in my security pass and other work-related paraphernalia, and I will be a free agent.


Happy holidaze, everyone.


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Open for business

So there's this thing called a Metroblog.

And they recently started the Singapore Metblog.

And I blog there too, because blathering over here just wasn't taking up enough of my (increasingly scarce) free time.

I guess you could say that my posts over there are a little more Singapore-oriented and less me-oriented, whereas this blog is all me-oriented and incidentally Singapore-oriented.

Anyway, in the spirit of Singlish: go and read lah!


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Holy crap

I've received no new email since I last checked in at noon.

Sadly, this is the sort of thing that makes me wonder if the internet is broken.

Edited to add: Of course, I receive a new email just as I'm publishing this post.




Drinks at the Raffles

We stepped into the Long Bar at the Raffles Hotel for the first time in our lives last night, expecting to see many, many glasses of Singapore Sling and plenty of peanut shells on the floor.

We weren't disappointed. It seemed like the bar did nothing but churn out Singapore Slings by the bucketload. We were probably the only table that didn't have one --- but we were also likely the only table of Singaporeans in the entire place.

Peanuts & drinks

While Terz munched on peanuts and cour marly shredded the shells into confetti, I tried not to stare too obviously at a couple that won, hands down, the Get A Room Already award for the night. The barstools where they were sitting must've been anointed with aphrodisiacal properties, because an hour later, a solo guy who chose one of those stools successfully chatted up a solo girl who happened to sit down next to him.

This couple and guy and girl were all of the Caucasian persuasion, of course. Seriously, the bar staff and our table notwithstanding, there were no Singaporeans in the entire place. A middle-aged tour guide with wide gestures temporarily raised the Singaporean quotient with her appearance, but trailing behind her were at least thirty white tourists on a "Night Tour", so that immediately screwed up the math.

So the next time you want to feel like you're in a foreign country but can't actually leave the country, just pop into the Long Bar. Even the overhead fans are weird --- or is that uniquely Singaporean?

The weirdest fans I've ever seen


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The afternoon: a chronology

Things I'll do to procrastinate on the extremely urgent and important work that I have to complete by today:
  • Update my version of Firefox, which I've procrastinated on doing for past few weeks.
  • Download all sorts of nifty Firefox extensions.
  • Add all sorts of nifty search engines to my Firefox search bar.
  • Figure out the requirements for opening my very first chequing account in Singapore.
  • Go shopping for new low-heeled sandals for the prospective employment situation.
  • Come home empty-handed and superglue old sandals back into working order.
  • Blog about procrastinating.

Related Posts: *poof*, They won't throw me in jail for my birthday, I procrastinate, therefore I am

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The season of love

Christastrophe's said it all: The taste of love is sweet / When hearts like ours meet.


Nothing of consequence here

I was going to blog about the Obiang Ean Kiam party last night --- but Terz beat me to it.

I was going to blog about my junior college class reunion today --- but all my pictures are recognisably of my friends' children, which I don't want circulating willy-nilly on the internet.

I was going to blog about how I've really got the adrenaline going for work --- but I can't blog about work. Client/prospective employer confidentiality, and all of that.





Who, me?

I have just been described by someone who's known me for ten years as 'free-spirited'.

Now that's a first.

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It's not you, it's me

That's what I felt like when I turned down a job offer earlier this week. It was a very nice job, a job with a good organisation, good people, dare I say good values --- but it just wasn't the right job for me, at this juncture.

As I told Stellou over the weekend, this may someday come to be known as The Dumbest Mistake In My Life, but for now, it seems the right thing to do.

I finally got around last night to telling my parents that I'll be imminently unemployed. Surprisingly, the reaction consisted more of the faint raising-of-eyebrows than of anything more histrionically Asian. Then again, I'm wondering if there'll be more fallout after the details have had time to sink in --- particularly since they haven't yet asked how much of a pay cut I'll be taking to do this damn fooled thing called "pursuing what I'm really interested in", and the answer is, a startling, startling amount.

On the other hand, it could just be that blogging about one's trepidation on this matter led to a crippling inability to actually broach the subject (even last night, as my mother maundered on about the Xmas family photo and my dad pottered away at his laptop) and an all-encompassing phobia of telling them --- than if I had not-blogged about it and just told them months ago in the first place.




Me and my Web 2.0

Because reading a Blogger profile isn't enough to tell you about a person.

Check out SuprGlu, which allows you to create a personal page with feeds from all the usual Web 2.0 suspects (Blogger, Flickr, del.icio.us and so on). It's a neat way to see a snapshot of a person's online presence in one place, --- but of course this assumes you have an interest in that person in the first place. My SuprGlu page, for instance, doesn't tell you anything about me that you wouldn't already know if you were already regularly reading this blog and skimming my Flickr account.

On the other hand, it's a handy cheatsheet for people who, say, come across this blog for the first time and want to find out a little more me before they commit to bookmarking this page or something. And it's always current, always updated (assuming one keeps using those various web services) --- as opposed to a static profile text entry, which tends to languish for years at a time.

(Thanks, domch!)


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Push back!

One of the little idiosyncrasies of commuter behaviour on Singapore's subway system (aka the Mass Rapid Transit or MRT) is the preponderance of impatient, inconsiderate chuckleheads who insist on pushing their way into a train before alighting commuters have had the chance to, well, alight. They do this even when the train is jam-packed, ignoring the plain fact that if no one gets off the train, there won't be space for them to get on it.

I'm not sure if this is a uniquely Singaporean phenomenon, but the fact that some years back, the guys who run the MRT decided they should paint helpful arrows and queue lines on every station platform to direct commuter traffic off and on the train, suggests that it is a problem indeed.

200402 train platform
Taken and uploaded by superciliousness.

Despite these arrows unmistakably indicating that boarding commuters should wait on either flank behind the line and leave the middle ground clear for alighting commuters, anyone who takes the train today can tell you that there are still plenty of schmucks who plant themselves squarely over the centre arrow, ready to storm the train once its doors open, as if their very lives depended on it.

Have you been elbowed rudely by someone going in the opposite direction as you tried to get off an MRT train?
Have you staggered back onto the train despite trying to get off, because some charging bull of a commuter had pushed his/her way in with such vehemence?
Have you worried for the safety of the children/elderly persons/pregnant women around you who might be dangerously thrown off balance by such aggressive train-boarding tactics?

Then it's time for you to do something about it: Push back!

It's quite easy, really. All you have to do is to steel yourself for the fact that the commuters boarding the train may indeed engage in such nefarious boarding tactics. When the train doors open, stride confidently forward with the full certainty that you have to get off before anyone --- no matter their age or urgency to get to their destination --- gets onto the train. If someone encroaches onto your alighting space (i.e. the area around the centre yellow arrow) and their body comes into contact with yours, feel free to push them back with just enough force that you can disembark as you need to. We're not starting fights here, we're just maintaining a comfortable degree of privacy or space around our own body.

If you're feeling up to it, you may wish to say something like, "Excuse me, you can't get on unless you let people get off first." Although you may be tempted to punctuate your remark with words like "asshole", "dickhead" or "crazy person", refrain from doing so. At most, just think those words in your head. I reiterate: we're not trying to start fights or get arrested here, we're just reminding people that the way our universe is ordered, trains have a finite capacity and no amount of forceful pushing will in fact transcend that simple law of physics.

And only, only push back if you have first been pushed.

I say all this because I'm startled at the number of startled responses I get when I tell people that I push back --- yes, little old me, who can barely lift a 1 kg bag of rice. Just last week, I was able to halt a woman larger than me in the middle of her train-charging maneuver because I simply kept moving forward even though she got in my way.

Of course, as Polite, Nonconfrontational Asians, all this doesn't come intuitively to most of us. We're inclined to pause, step back, step aside --- and let the schmucks have their way.

But why should we? Because they're ruder or brassier than us? We don't have to stoop to their level by pushing our way out of the train; we simply have to remind them that, hello, human body, standing right here.

Stop getting pushed back into the train when you're trying to get the hell off it. Push back!


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More firsts

If you can't tell from the previous post, I have recently come into possession of new technology that allows me to check and send emails from the pub, and participate in this newfangled activity known as moblogging. Some may scoff at the need for unimportant little me (or anybody, really) to have all this connectivity, but what can I say: in addition to being a city girl, I am also totally a girl of the internet age.

But talking about my new phone is boring. On to gratuitous pictures of cuteness.


Don't worry, it's not my biological clock that's ticking. This is from a few days ago, when for the first time in my life, I had to ask the waitress for a high seat for the baby, please. (Coming so rapidly on the heels of having for the first time driven a pregnant woman around, I feel like I'm finally growing up --- just a bit.)

The really impressive thing about this kid, all 7 months of him, is that while his mom and I were chatting and eating for a good hour, he was mostly quiet and sedate, and completely capable of amusing himself by looking at other people and things around us --- and okay, putting one packet of sugar and later one napkin into his mouth, and making at most two half-hearted grabs for our food or drink --- but really, when you consider the attention span slash processing ability of a 7-month-old, not to mention the flurry of temptations around him in a noisy cafe, that's really, really good.

As I mentioned over breakfast this morning, I like kids when they're a) quiet, b) not mine.


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Moblog test post

What happens when we push this button?



A tale of two burgers

Yesterday, due to the exigencies of errand-running, Terz and I were forced to partake of a meal at McDonald's. He asked me to get him a McChicken meal and went off to get a table. I stepped up to the counter, ordered his meal, blanked out when the woman asked me if that would be all, and hastily added, "And a Big Mac meal."

No, I wasn't thinking. Yes, this is the power of McDonald's relentless marketing through the decades --- that when confronted by the urgency of making a consumer decision, my brain lapses into some subliminally preprogrammed mode and utters the two words that are at the core of the McDonald's faith.

I mean, seriously, I don't like eating the Big Mac. I don't like eating much that's at McDonald's at all, but if I had the chance to think rationally about what would be the least undesirable of all its dietary options, the Big Mac would not be it.

Nevertheless, I had one: a soggy, squishy and truly unappetizing Big Mac. I couldn't finish it. I'd been starving before, but looking at the Big Mac long enough made those hunger pangs dematerialise instantly.

Even the fries were a disappointment. Time was when the point of going to McDonald's, really, was the fries. But after so long away, they tasted the wrong kind of salty and crispy. Yuck.

So much for that hopeless "meal".

On to happier events. Today, we wound up in the back of the back of beyond: Botak Jones.

Botak Jones

I don't have the street address for it, but it's in Tuas, just around the corner from Tanjong Gul camp. (For non-Singaporeans, this means that it's about as far west as you can go on our tiny island before you cross the border to Malaysia.)

In a manner of speaking, it's not that hard to find because it does lie along an actual road that's in the street directory and you can take an expressway (the Ayer Rajah Expressway) almost all the way there. So Sunset Grill still wins the prize for being the most unlocatable restaurant in Singapore.

Also, Botak Jones occupies two hawker stalls in a large coffeeshop that serves the workers in this industrial area. It doesn't have its own restaurant space per se and so has little control over the ambience. To wit, the unprepossessing view from our table tonight:

Botak Jones

And because the coffeeshop already has a drinks stall, Botak Jones doesn't sell its own beer or any other fancy drinks.

What Botak Jones does have, and this is nothing to sniff at, is burgers of this variety: three meat patties stacked atop each other, smothered in cheese because that's how askgerard.com (formerly known as G-man on this blog) asked them to make it.

Big ass burger

I had my own burger, just one patty thankyouverymuch, and it was tasty and meaty, and it held together rather well.

One of the staff told us they're opening a branch in January at block 608, Ang Mo Kio Avenue 5 --- but as Terz remarked, what's the point if you don't have to drive all the way to the ends of Singapore to find it?


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Go read

"Art, Truth & Politics", aka Harold Pinter's acceptance speech for the Nobel Prize for Literature.




Year in review: 2005

(Shamelessly stolen from rosmar.)

Write down the first sentence of the first entry in the past twelve months.
The first things I did after waking up on New Year's Day were: clean the two-week-old nail polish off my fingernails, cut and file my fingernails, whip Xmas leftovers into a late sandwich lunch, watch the second disc of director's/writers' commentary on the extended edition of The Return of the King and take a nap. Ondine thinks it might be my inner auntie coming out, but I went a little crazy this year and we're the most stocked-up on Chinese New Year goodies, ever. I had my very first Skype conversation last night with Nardac. It is a strange thing to give a boss what is essentially nine months' notice. While I was away from work last week, I set my students a guided research assignment on the Singapore blogosphere. I unexpectedly encountered two former students recently: one via email, the other in person. Today is one of those days when I wish I still had a car. You need a little poetry to spice up your life. At some point after dawn, Terz turns to me and goes, "Don't you have to get up for school?" Because black text on a white background is the easiest on the eye.For the first time in months, we have exercised our coffeemaker. Uh.
At least my sentences seem to be getting somewhat shorter.



The maternity thing

For the first time since the wedding, my best friend and I got to hang out today. We are not neglectful of each other; we're just busy people. She's busy going-to-have-a-baby, and I'm busy, er ... actually, half the time I don't know what the fuck I'm busy with, but I'm just busy.

Anyway, we hung out today and did self-indulgent things, like marvel at her new apartment, fawn over hand-me-down baby clothes, dawdle over lunch at 2 pm, shop at Ikea and test-drive Chinese names for the baby. All this, while she's fiercely pregnant.

Akan datang

It's an impressive bump!

Our discussion of Chinese names in particular proved that despite our remarkable examination grades in that language, we are not actually very good at practicalities like figuring out a baby's name without the aid of the internet or repeated telephone consultations with erstwhile Chinese language scholars like Terz.

Today was also the first time ever that I drove a vehicle with a pregnant woman as my passenger. It was very nerve-wracking.




The thing about Xmas in Singapore

I can't decide which shopping mall wins the prize for the worst Xmas marketing campaign this year: Raffles City, for its bizarre Batman logic ---

How Christmas begins in Singapore

--- Or Scotts, which I haven't had the time to take a photo of, but their slogan is: "It's all about ME this season". 'Cause, y'know, that's what Xmas is all about.


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Adventures in the vegetable drawer

In the latest round of housecleaning, I have unearthed rotting vegetables in our refrigerator's vegetable drawer. Who knew that celery could make such a mess, including melting into a murky brown liquid?

So I've thrown out the celery. And the carrots. And the wilted cucumber. And the dessicated cherry tomatoes. And the tainted onions. And various green leafy vegetables now of indeterminate origin.

Miraculously, the Romaine lettuce survived. So I had some of it with my lunch, which was what had driven me to rummage around in the vegetable drawer in the first place.

Oh, and I washed out the vegetable drawer. Of course.




Status check

I have been telling everyone I'm imminently unemployed. I like the way the phrase rolls off my tongue --- for now.


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A pseudo-purity test

(Stolen shamelessly from Agagooga.)

Start off with 100% and minus off 1% for each thing that has happened to you.

Drank alcohol.
Cried when someone died.
Been drunk.
Had sex.
Been to a concert.
Given a handjob/gotten a handjob.
Given a blowjob/gotten a blowjob.
Been verbally sexually harassed.
Verbally sexually harassed somebody.
Felt someone up and/or been felt up.
Laughed so hard something came out of your nose.
Cheated on a boyfriend/girlfriend before.
Been cheated on by a boyfriend/girlfriend.
Been to prom.
Cried at school.
Gotten lost in a WalMart or a department store.
Went streaking.
Given a lap dance.
Had someone of the opposite sex in your room.
Had someone of the opposite sex sleep over.
Slept over at someone of the opposite sex's house.
Kissed a stranger.
Hugged a stranger.
Went scuba diving.
Driven a car.
Gotten an xray.
Hit by a car.
Had a party.
Done drugs.
Played strip poker.
Got paid to strip for someone.
Ran away from home.
Broken a bone.
Eaten sushi.
Bought porn.
Watched porn.
Made porn.
Had a crush on someone of the same sex.
Been in love.
Frenched kissed.
Laughed so hard you cried.
Cried yourself to sleep.
Laughed yourself to sleep.
Stabbed yourself.
Shot a gun.
Trash talked someone and then acted like their best friend the next day.
Watched TV for 9 consecutive hours.
Been online for 9 consecutive hours.
Watched an animal die.
Watched a person die.
Had sex and/or messed around somewhere with at least 1 person present.
Pranked somebody.
Put somebody in the hospital.
Snuck into someone's room and/or your own room after being out.
Kissed somebody of the same sex.
Dressed punk.
Dressed goth.
Dressed preppy.
Been to a motocross race.
Avoided somebody.
Been stalked.
Stalked someone.
Met a celebrity.
Played an instrument.
Ridden a horse.
Cut yourself.
Bungee jumped.
Ding dong ditched somebody.
Been to a wild party.
Got caught stealing something.
Kicked a guy in the balls.
Stolen a boyfriend/girlfriend from a friend.
Went out with your friend's crush.
Got arrested.
Been pregnant.
Been to another country.
Started your house on fire.
Had an encounter with a ghost.
Donated your hair to cancer patients.
Been asked out by someone that you never though you'd to be asked out by.
Cried over a member of the opposite sex.
Had a boyfriend/girlfriend for over 3 months.
Sat on your ass all day.
Ate a whole carton of ice cream all by yourself.
Had a job.
Gotten cut from a sports team.
Been called a whore.
Danced like a whore.
Been mistaken for a celebrity.
Been in a car accident.
Been told you have beautiful eyes.
Been told you have beautiful hair.
Raped somebody.
Danced in the rain.
Been rejected.
Walked out of a restaurant without paying.
Punched someone/slapped someone in the face

My score: 50%

Of course, I'm not saying where I lost those points.



Don't buy any Xmas cards this year

In the process of cleaning my desk, I have found at least 40 unused Xmas cards of varying shapes, sizes, colours, designs and tastes. Since I'm going electronic with my greeting cards this year, except for people who don't have email, I probably won't use more than 10 of them --- so if anyone needs any old-fashioned Xmas cards, let me know and I'll pass you as many as you need.

I also unearthed a fragmenting powder blue envelope with $24.30 inside, earmarked for South Park T-shirts. I have no recollection of having anything to do with such shirts, or who I might've gotten the money from, so mayhaps the money will just go into a Salvation Army can later this month.

Those of you who are familiar with our messy apartment may want to know that we can now see almost the entire surface of the living room table, game room table and my desk, as well as a good bit of the kitchen counter. I think this is the highest proportion of visible table space we've had in years.



Ain't nothin' like it

Nothing like spending almost a week away from home to make me decide it's time to clean house.

Nothing like cleaning house to help me excavate two missing CDs and also realise that if a heap of paper hasn't been touched in three months, it probably contains nothing of long-term significance.

Nothing like more music for my iPod.

Nothing like three bags of trash down the rubbish chute and a newly clear living room table and desk. I've also been authorised by ampulets to throw out some literature files of hers that've been with me since 2000.

More cleaning to ensue tomorrow. Tonight, it's Chestnuts and then another little farewell party for someone who's put off National Service for as long as he could, doesn't have money for the $5,000 AWOL fine and really, really has to enlist next week.




Uh. What the title said.

Thanks for all the love. Excuse me now, while I go wade through 106 emails.