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Busy. Much. Enjoy some pictures while I'm not here.

Thai delights Dim sum

Lunch with Abigael --- twice! --- last week.

InsideOut goes up

This is what photographers do when you aren't looking. You think they let just anyone set up exhibitions? Even if it's not their own work per se.

So I provided moral support slash white noise (and supplied cold drinks) while the boys finished setting up the InsideOut exhibition at Objectifs. Go see it if you haven't already (until March 21); if you're not in Singapore, check out the website.

Taken by thelanguishingcat.

My latest first cousin once removed showed up, a tad little earlier than her dad (who hasn't updated his blog in forever) and mom expected. I squeezed out time for a short visit over the weekend, but have yet to inspect her fingers and toes, as she seems to enjoy being cocooned in a blanket while she sleeps, which, you know, is all babies do at her age.

Other than that, it's been work, work, work. Good work, but work that keeps me plenty busy. As I mentioned over the weekend to all the lovely people who wanted to do something, I'm deferring all non-critical social engagements until mid-March.


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All by myself

Today is the first day since Monday that I haven't had kk for online company, and boy, is it weird.

kk is an old and dear friend from university who now lives in Tokyo. Ever since I graduated, we have not ever been in the same city, or even the same timezone, for more than two weeks at a stretch. So to keep in touch, we've had to rely on emails and phone calls and meetings-for-coffee whenever she was in town.

It was only last year that we got around to trading IM details. And then she had this pesky habit of being invisible even when she was online.

All of this week (except today), kk has been online and visible. And oh my god, it's just like being in college again.

I should remind you, if you haven't read one of my earlier entries, that kk is the friend with whom I nearly formed a procrastination club in college. We got as far as having a name for it, PSS, though I can't remember now what the middle 'S' stood for. But we never got round to forming the actual club --- of course.

Now that our work days practically overlap with each other, and we're almost always online, well, let's just say that work hasn't been this much fun in a while. Having a friend there, all day long, is like having an invisible friend or daemon (TM Philip Pullman) with you in the office: someone you can wail at when things aren't going your way, to bitch with when strange shenanigans are afoot in the office, someone who can share your excitement over some silly webpage you've just found, who appreciates your silly humour and is well able to counter it with silly humour of their own, and who has no qualms about typing everything in caps and hitting the 'return' key after each word so that you get an incessant stream of IM messages calculated to wake you up from your post-lunch stupor.

Speaking of lunch, I learned this week that lunch is, colloquially, 'ranchi', at least in Tokyo. So then I had to tell kk all about the new stall at Maxwell Hawker Centre that sells puffs and muffins: it's called Runchy.

As far as lunch-centred conversations go, I think kk's on the losing end of the conversation because I keep reciting all the Singapore food she misses (chicken rice Monday, Thai food Tuesday, nasi lemak Wednesday and bak kut teh Thursday) and all she can tell me in return is that she had a tuna and avocado sandwich. Line them up however you will, but I don't think tuna and avocado quite cuts it in the grand hierarchy of gastronomical epiphanies.

kk is taking a long weekend away from work, so no invisible friend for me today. I'll tell her about my dim sum lunch on Monday.


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Taking over Technorati

So you know what the crazy thing about Singaporeans is? There are enough crazy Singaporeans out there to cause a feeding frenzy on Technorati for whatever the scandal du jour is. As I write this, the top 4 Technorati searches are "Tammy", "NYP Tammy", "Singapore" and "NYP". Yesterday, the top 5 Technorati searches were variations of the same phrases.

If you didn't know already --- and trust me, you're not really missing anything news-wise --- Tammy is a poor girl whose cellphone was stolen by a malicious acquaintance, who then circulated via MMS the video stored on it of Tammy having sex with her boyfriend. The Tomorrow.SG post on this attracted usual the usual pride of morons, so I spent some time earlier this week whacking them on the head here and here (Tomorrow.SG doesn't allow me to permalink to a specific comment within the comment thread, dangit).

At any rate, the current Technorati madness suggests that a) Singaporeans who use Technorati really like amateur sex, and b) there are enough Singaporeans using Techorati to take it over, so to speak, in the process of trying to get at information on the scandal du jour. The former trend is off-putting, to say the least. The latter --- well, actually, this isn't the first time that Singapore-specific search terms have dominated Technorati's top 5. It just takes the aforementioned feeding frenzy, plus some fairly distinctive "uniquely Singapore" search terms, like "NKF" or "Dawn Yeo", to throw it into light.

Unfortunately, I don't think that necessarily qualifies Singaporeans as technorati, per se.


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Work things

[She was] a copy editor, possessed of the rare capacity to sit all day in a small cubicle, like a monk in a cell, and read with an almost penitential rigor.
--- David Leavitt
(Quoted on Testy Copy Editors.)

While I'm not a copy editor, my current line of work does involve some copy editing and it's a métier that's made it to my (very) shortlist. I would be quite happy to have that quote posted over my desk.

Speaking of which, I'm going to be moving desks, er, actually, moving offices soon. New contract, new workplace, new colleagues. I've had good vibes about this job since I met the people involved a few weeks ago. It's nice when you leave a business meeting with both a giddy, top-of-the-world feeling and a strong sense of harmony, as if everything's coming together in its proper place.

Funnily enough, that was on Valentine's Day.

Of course, the current workplace is good too. I will miss the creative vibe, the easy atmosphere, the adrenaline rush of trying to meet multiple overlapping deadlines, and of course, the copious amounts of good, cheap food in Chinatown.


It's been a good place to ease into my new line of work. And the nice thing about my line of work is that completing a job and leaving the colleagues doesn't mean I'm never coming back.

* * *

For the first time since the start of the year, I will not be parked at a table at Wala Wala tonight, soaking up the sounds of The UnXpected.

Our Thursday ritual

No, no --- my well-honed Confucian slash Protestant work ethic demands that I stay home and put in the required laptop-time for certain non-day job-related work (notice how accurately, though not necessarily clearly, I punctuated that contorted adjectival phrase?). That's what I get for taking on too many assignments with deadlines that are compressed into the same week.


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Going home

Cross-posted to Metroblogging Singapore.

In a friend's car on the way home tonight, we spent the first few minutes puzzling over why Class 95FM was playing what sounded like Kenny G. A quick scan through the other local radio stations turned up equally muzak-ish tunes being played on 987FM, Lush 99.5 ("I can't bop my head to this music," YW complained) and every other station."Oh, this is from Somewhere in Time," the friend who was driving figured out, identifying the tune playing on Lush 99.5. Which definitely didn't make it head-bopping music.

A couple of minutes later, the theme from Braveheart took over. "Did all the MediaCorp DJs decide to take a smoke break at the same time and leave the stations spinning music on auto?" I kidded from the back seat.

Some fifteen minutes: "This is like the elevator ride from hell," quoth Terz. And then he made the connection: "Are they playing all this because Rajaratnam died today? Because the last time they did this was when Benjamin Sheares passed away..."

The station announcement that came on just then confirmed his guess. "As a mark of respect for Mr S. Rajaratnam, one of the founding fathers of Singapore, all MediaCorp stations will interrupt their usual transmission until 11:30pm."

Mystery solved.

As the husband observed, it's been a long time since they pulled out all the stops for the passing of one of Singapore's political leaders. Flying the flag at half-mast is par for the course, whether you're former President Ong Teng Cheong or former President CV Devan Nair. But former Deputy Prime Minister Rajaratnam's body will also lie in state at Parliament House on Friday, where Singaporeans can pay their last respects, and will receive a state funeral at the flashy new arts venue, the Esplanade, on Saturday. Not that Rajaratnam doesn't deserve it. It's just been a long time since the government pulled out all the stops like this.

A man passes, a generation evanesces.

For those who need a short primer on Rajaratnam's contributions to Singapore, here's the Channel NewsAsia obituary.


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At our friendly neighbourhood 24-hour roti prata joint:
"Which is older, Sanskrit or Arabic? Are they related?"
"Sanskrit, I think --- "
"Don't think they're related --- "
"Sanskrit's older.
"Why do you ask?" Beat. "Because they both have squiggly script??"
The things that pass through our minds over overly sweetened coffee and Milo...

For the record, a little judicious Googling puts Arabic as dating back to the 4th century CE, while Sanskrit dates back to 2500 BCE.


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What people living in Tokyo have for dinner

From today's IM conversations:
ME: I had Thai food [for lunch]
kk: i think I'm supposed to have thai tonight
kk: or we were talking about going to this Thai-Italian place.
kk: yes...i said Thai Italian...
kk: it's not mixed but rather, they have a thai menu and an italian menu. it's quite strange...
kk: [my boyfriend] thinks they are trying to save costs on bulk purchasing basil...

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Parents, nowsadays

Dear Home Invaders,

When you declare your interest in visiting my best friend in order to inspect her new baby, you will NOT:
  • Fail to confirm the exact time of the visit in advance. Calling her on a Saturday morning when you're 5 minutes from her home is not enough.
  • Allow your seven-year-old and four-year-old to clamber all over her new sofa and furniture. Contrary to whatever you seen to have been telling them, other people's homes are not a public playground.
  • Allow the aforementioned monsters children to (mis)handle tetrapak drinks, resulting in the spillage of sweet, sticky liquids on the new furniture. And if you do, the least you can do is make yourself useful in helping to clean up the mess, not leave it to the friends whose home you've just despoiled.
  • Present clothes and other baby items that are clearly faded/used/worn and pretend that you "just bought" them as a gift. Stuffed toys that have had the stuffing whacked out of them, not to mention their unmistakable resemblance to fertile germ incubators, should be burned --- not given to the parents of a newborn.
  • Allow your uncontrollable children anywhere near the new baby. Having your four-year-old leap at the baby's head cannot be accepted as a sign of affection,
  • Comment pointedly that the apartment is not very child-safe. For one thing, the newborn is too young and immobile to do any apartment-exploring. For another, it's your own selfish brats who are clearly not safe to be let out anywhere that isn't their own wasteland of a room.
If you ever enter my best friend's home again, don't be surprised if her husband greets you at the door in full body armour with a taser or a cane, or if I spring unannounced from the back room to provide moral support and the evil eye for smacking down your kids.



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When it's Friday

Or How creative concepts originate over MSN (mild obscenity warning, assuming you understand Hokkien):
ME: I was just gonna email you
ME: I had 4 ideas. [The other designer] has on his own come up with one that is identical to one of mine, so now I have 3 left.
Colleague: Then give one to me then
ME: 1. [Idea One]
Colleague: very vulgar
ME: 2. [Idea Two]
ME: 3. [Idea Three]
I'm not entirely happy with any of the three, and neither is my colleague. Discussion ensues. A short while later...
ME: [Idea Four]
Colleague: hmm, can leh
Colleague: [Idea Five]
ME: I think [Idea Five] cannot --- it sounds as if they're sliming their own 'product'
Colleague: it was a joke
ME: :P
ME: Do you still want other ideas? And must it be [related to a particular theme]?
Colleague: oh yes...I'm still going through.
A little while later...
ME: [Idea Six, which I tossed off flippantly, thinking it crap]
Colleague: BINGO!!!
Colleague: Chee bye, yay!!!
Colleague: I can go home!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Which just goes to show you, you never know what works.





Bylines galore

We like this job

If anyone was wondering where I disappeared to for a week last year: here's 10 ways to enjoy Padang, even more stuff to do in Padang, and some places to chill out in Singapore.

Apropos, addendum: Fear not frog leg soup, and other tips (link via Popagandhi; free subscription required). Helpful reminders, even to those of us who've been travelling free'n'easy for decades now.


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I've always liked a good storm

It never rains.

But it sure the hell pours.


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Every little increase in human freedom has been fought over ferociously between those who want us to know more and be wiser and stronger, and those who want us to obey and be humble and submit.
--- Philip Pullman, The Subtle Knife


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On writing II

Sometimes, writing for a living is like being a student again and doing homework. There are some projects that you know you'll ace the minute they land in your lap.

And then there are others where upon receiving the project/assignment, you know with a sunken certainty that no matter how much time you put into it and how many braincells you expend and how many cups of coffee you gulp down, it's still gonna be a shitty piece of work when you finally "finish" it.

Guess which kind I've got in front of me right now.


Related posts: On writing

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Just for V-Day

We don't do V-Day, but if you do and you like classic Star Wars, you might want to take a look at Something Awful's A Very Star Wars Valentines (link via Boing Boing).

Oh all right, this entry is just an excuse to link naif aka Alfian bin Sa'at's short story in ten parts, "This Was Where: Weilong and Derrick: A Topographic Diary". The best love story I've read recently.

This Was Where: Weilong and Derrick: A Topographic Diary (Part 1)
This Was Where: Weilong and Derrick: A Topographic Diary (Part 2)
This Was Where: Weilong and Derrick: A Topographic Diary (Part 3)
This Was Where: Weilong and Derrick: A Topographic Diary (Part 4)
This Was Where: Weilong and Derrick: A Topographic Diary (Part 5)
This Was Where: Weilong and Derrick: A Topographic Diary (Part 6)
This Was Where: Weilong and Derrick: A Topographic Diary (Part 7)
This Was Where: Weilong and Derrick: A Topographic Diary (Part 8)
This Was Where: Weilong and Derrick: A Topographic Diary (Part 9)
This Was Where: Weilong and Derrick: A Topographic Diary (Part 10)


Related posts: The Straits Times asks, I answer, Getting into the spirit

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Must be Monday

It's not everyday that I message the boss with the following:
Sorry, I will be late! My shoe broke, getting a replacement now.
I don't ordinarily pull off the Bohemian look, either, but desperate times call for desperate measures. If you saw a woman wandering barefoot in the basement levels of Plaza Singapura around 3 pm today, that was me. My sandal snapped irrevocably as I was entering the adjacent MRT station, so I had to hightail it over to the nearest shoe shops at the mall. It didn't help that I was supposed to be back at the office for a 3 pm meeting.

I like shoes, I like shoe shopping, but I don't like shopping for shoes under stress. For one thing, it automatically means that they won't have any shoes that I find attractive. They didn't today, in either X:odus or Charles & Keith. On the bright side, both stores were having post-Chinese New Year sales --- you know, the ones that come right after the post-Xmas and Chinese New Year sales --- so I didn't have to pay too much for the least offensive and least uncomfortable pair of shoes that I finally settled for.

I was highly apologetic at my lateness upon finally getting back to the office at 3:30 pm --- but as it turned out, due to other more compelling deadlines and appointments, we didn't have our meeting till 6 pm anyway.

The best word I found in the (online) dictionary today: abecedarian n. 1. One who teaches or studies the alphabet. 2. One who is just learning; a beginner. adj. 1. Having to do with the alphabet. 2. Being arranged alphabetically. 3. Elementary or rudimentary.


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Would you watch this?

In a completely unscientific poll of some of my friends and acquaintances in Singapore, I can't find a single straight guy who's willing to watch Brokeback Mountain. The most common reason proffered is a reluctance to watch a gay relationship between men portrayed onscreen.

I'm ... surprised, to say the least. This is a biased sample of my friends and acquaintances, after all.

* * *

The first time I saw gay men kiss onscreen was in the movie Jeffrey, which someone rented at some point in my college years. I don't actually remember anything of the movie now. But without fanfare, hullabaloo or anything remotely resembling an epiphany, it normalised for me the sight of kissing between men.

The first time I read about love and sex between gay men with the same intensity we've grown to accept and even expect in heterosexual couples, was in the Alan Hollinghurst novel The Swimming Pool Library, which I read a few years ago. In my review of books read in 2003, I described Hollinghurst as "a good fiction writer, not just a good gay fiction writer", because that distinction was (and is) important to me. To pigeonhole him as a good gay writer --- or, for that matter, to pigeonhole anyone as a good insert-your-ethnicity-/nationality-/minority-of-choice writer --- would be to imply that what Hollinghurst had to say only mattered to a gay readership or as a portrayal of gay relationships.

But his stories have universal resonance regardless of a reader's sexuality, just as good writing in a language other than English or from a country outside of Asia can have universal resonance for me (as long as it's translated into English, that is). Hollinghurst's descriptions of what gay men can feel for each other were an eye-opener, not because I didn't expect men to have such feelings for each other, but because I didn't expect myself, upon my first encounter with gay fiction, to so easily disregard the characters' genders to read about those feelings.

Is it easier in our culture for me, as a woman, to accept images of homosexuality because it doesn't threaten me? That's what conventional wisdom would have us believe, anyway. Images of women kissing have become fetishized to titillate the male libido, so it doesn't matter whether it's lesbians or women doing it for a lark, à la Madonna-Britney-Christina. Images of men kissing, on the other hand ...

Yet, it's important. Is it acceptable today to declare disgust at seeing people of different races exchange kisses, or people from different classes? How about if one finds abhorrent the image of a woman depicted in a position of power? And at what point does discomfort become so strong that it manifests itself, outwardly or not, in discrimination, prejudice and a complete lack of understanding of the Other?

Of course I'm not insisting that everyone watch Brokeback Mountain because they will then magically get over their discomfort, if any, at watching men kissing. In my ideal world, people have a choice about what they want to watch and are given enough information about what's available, so that they can decide for themselves whether they wish to see a particular programme or film.

On that note, here's my second readers' poll, then: Would you watch Brokeback Mountain?

In responding, please indicate your gender and sexuality. As always, feel free to append additional remarks and witticisms.


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A Chinatown rat

All my usual lunch buddies were busy today, so I was left to my own devices. The imperative of having to run certain errands and the fickle weather conspired to trap me at Chinatown Complex, where I spent a meandering hour amidst its rabbit warren of hawker stalls, sundry shops and dank staircases.


The kind of people who run stalls at Chinatown Complex are the kind of people who work all year round, except when they take advantage of the Chinese New Year for a short break. Fortunately for me, the cheerful tailor I was looking for had reopened for business, and business was busy enough that at first she wanted me to come back for my bag only after work. But as always, all it took was a smile and a polite request for her to say, "Okay, you come back after lunch."

Now by "after lunch", she probably meant "another 45 minutes to an hour or so". So what to do when I had finished lunch within 15 minutes?


Well, there's CK Supermarket, where shoes go for $10 a pair and ching-chong clothes never go out of fashion. Then there's the entire maze that is Chinatown Complex: this way seems to lead towards stalls specialising in all things red for Chinese weddings, that way seems to lead to an explosion of auntie fashions. But take a different turn, and instead there'll be a coterie of Chinese deities to greet you, as they await installation on someone's ancestral altar. Or maybe just an industrious old grandfather bent over a key press, his stall encaged by locks of every shapes and sizes.

Touch-touch here, touch-touch there, buy a couple of things --- and the hour passes.

The tailor's not only mended the strap of my bag, as requested, but also stitched up the torn lining inside, even though earlier she said it couldn't be done. My own friendly neighbourhood miracle worker. A handwritten sign parked beside her sewing machine informs me that she'll be relocating come May, because Chinatown Complex is scheduled for upgrading later this year. As my colleague so eloquently put it, "They're going to fuck it up all over again."


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Because it's Friday

Check out Live Science for the real dirt on the most popular myths in science (link via By The Way). It's like Myth Busters, only compressed into a paragraph instead of a half-hour TV episode.

I don't think I can completely abandon the 5-second rule, though...




Well, now

It occurs to me that I really suck at interviews.


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Retail therapy

My favourite all-purpose font

So Terz and I spent about an hour tonight putting together our Threadless sale order. Because that's really productive, as opposed to, say, me scouring the classifieds for job leads (bearing in mind that these are the classifieds from Saturday).

I will note, however, that we did not get this shirt (link via Popgadget). Nor the one in the picture above --- that's just my colleague gratuitously striking a pose in exchange for a link.

Our T-shirts won't get here in time for the ampulets wedding, but I'm sure we'll have plenty of other occasions to wear them.


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How on earth did I miss the news that Betty Friedan died last Saturday?


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Good (blog) reading

It being the New Year (if we temporarily ignore the Eurocentric Gregorian calendar universally enforced upon the modern world), I figure it's as good a time as any to consider some new blogs that I've been reading.

And by reading, I mean blogs that I've read the latest posts of, thought to myself, "Huh. This is a pretty cool blog. How long have they been writing? Oh, since then? Let's just read them from the start then," and then proceeded to read them from their very first blog post.

There's onomatopoeia, by a Texan transplanted to Vancouver, who's been blogging since July 1, 2001 and has some excellent tales of his cat Ivan. Things we share in common: savouring good food of every imaginable cuisine and a fondness for Vancouver.

There's finslippy, by a writer/editor and mother of one, who's been blogging since January 27, 2004 and writes, among other things, wickedly funny accounts (and I'm not just saying that, see if you can get through more than five posts without a chortle or, at the very least, a snort) of motherhood.

And to round off this triumvirate, there's New York Hack, by a female cab driver (FCD) in New York, who's been blogging since August 29, 2005 and tells the most excellent stories about her passengers and how to behave right on New York roads, whether you're a driver or a pedestrian. A neat glimpse into the life of someone who drives one of those iconic yellow cabs, and a reminder that their job is neither easy nor safe.


Fine, fine traditions

The second yu sheng of the New Year

At the family dinner tonight, talk naturally turned towards the origins of yu sheng, which seems to have exploded in popularity in Singapore these past few Chinese New Years. I honestly don't remember eating it at all when I was growing up, but it's everywhere these days, from fancy fine dining establishments to humble corner coffeeshops where you can pick up a veritable kaleidoscope of vegetable-and-fish goodness to toss at home.

Everyone says the dish originated in Singapore and is gaining popularity in Malaysia. This prompted my mom's recollection that my grandmother didn't allow her or her siblings to have any when they were kids, on the off chance that it would upset their stomachs (which I guess would be bad luck for the New Year, not to mention necessitating inconvenient and, back then, not necessarily affordable medical treatment).

The reminiscence and common wisdom notwithstanding, I thought it might be interesting to scrounge up a slightly more authoritative source for the claim. As it turns out, The Straits Times reported on it in 2003:
While yu sheng was created in Singapore in the 1960s, the origin of this Chinese New Year (CNY) delicacy can be traced back to a simple village practice held by Chinese fishermen in the past. It was traditional for fishermen along the coast of Guangzhou to celebrate the seventh day of CNY, or ren ri, by feasting on their catch as fish, or yu, is synonymous with abundance and prosperity. This cultural practice was then brought to Singapore by migrants where it evolved into fish porridge found at roadside stalls. It was only in the mid-1960s that master chefs Hooi Kok Wai, Lau Yoke Pui, Sin Leong and Than Mui Kai decided to create a unique CNY dish using the strips of raw fish from the porridge. Combining the raw slices of a local fish with a melange of ingredients including shredded carrots, turnips, ginger and jellyfish, yu sheng was intended to be colourful, tasty and, above all, symbolically auspicious for the allegorically-minded Chinese. (cited in A Dictionary of Singlish and Singapore English)
Happily enough, today happens to be the seventh day of the New Year, i.e. 人日 (ren ri), i.e. everyone's symbolic birthday, i.e. the day for eating yu sheng anyway. Apparently, on this day, some Singapore Chinese families have the tradition of having the whole family home for what seems to be a second reunion dinner. I was surprised by the number of friends and colleagues who were completely blasé when I mentioned that we had a family dinner tonight, as if it was the expected thing to do.

But it's just coincidence, really, because my parents just like having us do dinner and yu sheng with them (since we spend the reunion dinner with Terz's parents) and we just pick an evening that works for everyone. Which is my way of saying that we follow some traditions 'cause they're convenient and others 'cause they're fun, which altogether isn't a very consistent cultural doctrine, but hey look: more yu sheng from earlier this week.

The first yu sheng of the New Year

Tonight's yu sheng (in the picture at the start of this entry) was my second of the New Year and Terz's first; my first was this one with colleagues on Wednesday. As a point of comparison, Wednesday's yu sheng was my boss's seventh for the New Year. Seventh. I don't think I've ever had seven in one year before.


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How young punks in their late twenties celebrate their birthday these days

Until last night, I'd never been to a birthday party where purely by coincidence, approximately two-thirds of the 30 or so guests were wearing jeans and black tops of some sort.

Of course, until last night, I'd also never heard anyone declare the following about Martell Cordon Bleu: "Even if you're dead, you won't have a hangover."

More accurately, until last night, the three words "Martell Cordon Bleu" had never entered my hearing in that sequence before.

I didn't have any, anyway. The word "Martell" gives me the heebie-jeebies.

Let them eat cake


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There's been a light chill in the air all afternoon, as if a huge airconditioner's been left running outside somewhere. I suspect it's the last exhalation of the monsoon, and we're trying to get the most of it by leaving our apartment door open.


Who's doing evil, now?

We already know that Google is censoring the information accessible to its China search engine, so that pesky trivialities like what really happened at Tiananmen Square in 1989 and any criticism of the Great Communist Plan To Lead China Into Capitalism won't inadvertently turn up in search results. How does this affect the typical person using google.cn?

The Google Censorship Viewer displays, side-by-side, the results for any search term punched into google.com and google.cn. In particular, a search for 'Tiananmen' throws up jaw-droppingly different results.

A less in-your-face but also telling comparison is google vs. google.cn, which maps similarities between the first 100 results for any search term on the two engines. When I searched for 'Tiananmen', there was absolutely no overlap among any of the 100 results.

(links via InsideGoogle)

Say it with me: censorship is evil, not just because it restricts the flow of information, which should be free, but also because it acclimatises a person to the notion that information and creativity can have its wings clipped and then you get this.


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Yes, sex sells

From today's Today report, "Girls on scooters to quiz heartlanders on sex life":
Don't be surprised if you see a sexily-clad sweet young thing riding a bright red scooter zipping by your local coffee shop or wet market.

She's just one of several sexual health investigators who, starting this coming Valentine's Day, will be going deep into the heartlands on Vespa scooters to conduct a year-long sex survey.
Because when conducting a survey that aspires to get honest views from the masses, the best way to do that is to objectify and demean women. It's good to know that pornification has reached us here in Singapore, even as pornography's still officially banned.

What a crock. If you're approached, boycott the survey, please.

Edited to add: While we're on the subject of objectifying women, Moroccan feminist Fatima Mernissi has a tale about "Size 6: The Western Women's Harem" (link via Capitalism Bad; Tree Pretty).


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I'm just sayin'

It's very cruel to be able to hear fireworks pop-pop-popping from the office balcony but not see them at all. Instead, I watched for a few moments as the passing clouds seemed to turn a sunsetty pink (or maybe it was just my wistful thinking), then I went back inside.

Yeah, I'm still at work. It's one of those nights.


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The Straits Times asks, I answer

The cover of today's Straits Times' Digital Life Urban (whoops, thanks, Kiv) section carries the following poser: Why oh why are its single, eligible (subtext: cute) male journalists spending Valentine's Day alone?

Maybe because Valentine's Day is a Hallmark holiday designed to boost the economy in the post-Xmas shopping lull (particularly considering that fresh flowers are expensive enough in the northern hemisphere during the winter).

Not to mention the fact that if you have someone special in your life, you can celebrate your love at any time of the year, not just when the Powers That Be (PTBs) tell you too.

Oh, and if you're single by choice or happen to be single on February 14, there is nothing freakishly wrong with that, even though the aforementioned PTBs will do their best into guilting you into being "in a relationship" (even if that relationship is wracked by pain, tension, insecurity and delusion), so that their precious social norms wet dreams of nuclear families with 2.3 children can be preserved. And so that they can laugh all the way to the bank too.

We don't celebrate Valentine's Day. Never have, never will. Thank God.


Related post: Getting into the spirit

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Sex in the office

It is very difficult to have to write an advertising slogan about doing things in pairs when the job brief eschews all sexual innuendo. I keep thinking of lines like "Grow a pair" or "Tired of doing it by yourself?" --- when really, it's so, so wrong.

On the other hand, it is very amusing to read an email in which a colleague has written to our boss, "[Tym] & I have come out with 4 possible taglines ... " [emphasis mine]. Uh, he's not gay, either.

The best (non-sex-related) word I came across today: ambage n. archaic 1. Ambiguity. Often used in the plural. 2. ambages Winding ways or indirect proceedings.

Oh all right, I guess it could be sex-related if you tried hard enough.



More time-wasters

This one's for cour marly: I have recently learned that this is what drinking Carlton Draught looks like, and that this is what a Honda feels like (latter link via a gecko's tale).



Not very alert, even after lunch

I know it's not Monday anymore, but those of us who got to enjoy the long Chinese New Year weekend just started our work week today, so it's apropos that we take a moment to take Monday's Test (link via By The Way).

I failed the test (5/11) so apparently I'm of "normal intelligence". Pah!