31.3.07

The birthday that was

The biggest slice of pie in Singapore

It was my birthday earlier this week, and it was a rather strange one.

For starters, I was PMSing, which meant that there was far more meaningless and uncontrollable crying than I'd care to admit to. All those scenes you've seen in movies where a female character burst into tears for no good reason whatsoever? It's just as frustrating in real life if you're the cryer, to say nothing of how truly baffling it must seem to any cryee(s) present. Thank goodness it lasted only two days.

Then there was the fact that something was definitely wrong with Ink. He kept getting into his kitty litter, scrabbling around and assuming the position to pee --- only to have very little or nothing come out. Rinse, repeat, rapidly within a matter of minutes. Poor boy. I took him to the vet on my birthday (I'd given myself the day off, which made it the only free day I had this week) and she diagnosed him, predictably enough, with a urinary tract infection. The antibiotics seem to have taken effect since, so fingers crossed he doesn't have a relapse or I might be blogging next about how to get a urine sample from a frisky cat.

Finally there was the weirdness that ensues when it seems like everyone's forgotten your birthday. Which, in my PMSing state, I didn't mind at all (and still don't, for the record), but it's just sort of weird anyway. I mean, even my mother --- who called me first thing in the morning to ask about something else entirely --- forgot to wish me happy birthday, as she faithfully does first thing every morning on my birthday (she later SMSed a contrite message of atonement).

Of course, not everyone forgot and it's not like I sat around all day wondering why nobody loved me. Nor am I still wondering about it today. It's just that today I downloaded the above picture of a gargantuan slice of pie (served up at Marché at Vivocity, in case anyone was wondering), which was one of the many decent eats I had on my birthday, which made me think I should blog about the birthday, else this time next year I'll be cracking my head to try to remember what happened.

Anyway, when in doubt on how to end a blog post, I always say look for a Buffy quote. In this case:
Joyce (Buffy's mom): So what'd you do for your birthday? Did you have fun?
Buffy: I got older.
Joyce: You look the same to me. Happy Birthday. I don't have to sing, do I?
Buffy: No.
Joyce: Well, go on, make a wish.
Buffy: I'll just let it burn.
--- "Innocence", Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Note: This is not some kind of poorly disguised passive-aggressive plea for belated birthday messages, nor an attempt to guilt-trip anyone who forgot. Say whatever you like in the comments, but for goodness' sake, don't say "happy (belated) birthday". Thank you!

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Budget airline, budget website?

After months of whinging about it, I have finally booked that damn vacation.

Of course, it's in August, but still.

On Adri's sound advice ("Terminal 1!", "assigned seating!", "20 kg baggage allowance!", "no aunties with plastic bags!"), I went with Jetstar instead of Tiger Airways --- also because a Jetstar ticket wound up being about $30 cheaper overall. Despite being a seasoned internet veteran, this also marks the first time I've ever booked an air ticket online. Which leads me to two interesting observations (read: gripes) about the Jetstar website.

When you make a ticket booking, you have to indicate a contact person and assorted details. Strangely, while there are no character limits on the fields where you key in the travellers' names, there is a 14-character limit on the last name of the contact person. I have a 15-character double-barrelled last name, which I whittled down to 14 characters by dropping the hyphen in the middle. But what about all the lovely people who have less truncatable last names (particularly Asian ones)?

So I thought I would do what everyone does in the internet age: click on the link for "contact us", which would no doubt lead me to some kind of online form that I could fill up with the above observation and click on its merry way to the Jetstar feedback department.

Jetstar's "Contact Us" page states:
If you have any feedback relating to our customer services or web site please forward them in writing to the applicable address. [emphasis mine]
Snailmail? They want feedback on their website to be conveyed through snailmail? My mind, it's still boggling.

Jetstar gets an A for having cheap tickets and all the other perks that Adri mentioned. But I'm not sure how many points I'll dock for the level of customer-unfriendliness at the end of the day.

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29.3.07

Who's calling, please?

All the calls I've received on my cell phone today have been from people I know calling me from phone numbers I don't know. Mostly, it's people calling me on their office line when I only have their cell phone numbers punched into my contacts list. Which means that the opening of the conversation generally goes like this:
Me: Hello?
Friend: Hey, Tym.
Me: Yes?
Friend: Eh, it's me.
Me: Er, okay ... (while I try to figure out who it is)
Except that nobody calls me "Tym" in real life. Of course.

Time was you never knew who was calling you till you at least heard the voice at the other end of the line. And my parents never had caller ID even when it became available, so it wasn't till I acquired my first cell phone that I got used to the idea of knowing who was calling before I even decided to answered the call.

In the almost ten years that have passed since then, I've come to regard with mild suspicion any phone call from an unidentified number. In fact, I used to summarily not return missed calls from unidentified numbers, but that changed when I started freelance work --- you never know when it's a potential new client calling. So now if it's an unidentified number, I pause, mull over who it could possibly be, sometimes ponder which part of Singapore they might be calling from (if it's a land line), then answer.

Maybe I should just go back to my pre-cell phone habit of just answering the damn phone already.

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24.3.07

How to pwn a runny nose

It worked before and it's worked again: after blogging about a bad nose, it's decided to retreat into submission and has ceased to torment me. Looks like I didn't need that second box of Febs tablets after all.

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23.3.07

My nose runneth over

Seriously, having to blow my nose every 5 minutes? Not funny. Interspersed with very animated sneezing of about the same intensity as a Pacific Rim volcano? Really tiring.

This isn't the first time I've blogged about having a cold. But I still hate having them. Give me a good debilitating fever any day.

The downside to being a freelancer? No such thing as "taking MC" or pleading for medical leave. Work proceeds apace.

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21.3.07

You know, this could be mathier

I was just freaking Suzie out recently with the admission that while I studied predominantly arts subjects in junior college, I actually enjoyed the mathematics that we were compelled, more or less, to take as a fourth 'A' Level subject. I mean, it was a subject that involved zero reading, plenty of rote work and no essay-writing --- the perfect break after hours spent labouring over a biography of Robert Lowell or parsing the difference between certain rock formations.

Having said that, I will admit that I clicked on this BBC News link with some trepidation: "248-dimension maths puzzle solved". And after reading it twice, I still have no idea what it's about.

Clearly, my geek cred needs a little help (even with a plus-10 boost).

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18.3.07

Day of rest I

I took the day off.

A good English breakfast

Day of rest

Note to self: spend more time at East Coast Park.

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17.3.07

All is explained

I don't have the time to keep up with Boing Boing anymore, but I've got pals like Suzie to point me to gems like this: "Mood-altering cat parasites make women friendly and men into jerks". It seems that the presence of the Toxoplasma (in cat faeces) may make infected men more "self-reproaching and insecure", "jealous and suspicious", while infected women "tend to be more outgoing and warm-hearted".

I don't know how many cat-keepers read this blog, but consider yourself warned, regardless of your gender.

The contortionist sleeps

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16.3.07

Only connect

It is a sad, sad day when a 3G connection on my cell phone loads webpages more quickly than the free wireless connection at the National Library. I'm guessing the latter is having a bad day, but even so. What's the point of boasting about an island-wide free wireless network if it doesn't actually let me access the net the way I need to?

I suppose I should be grateful that the creakingly slow connection's still sufficient to let me blog...

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15.3.07

Thirsty

I know I drink more than my share of 2 litres of water a day, but sometimes I just want to be hooked up into an IV drip of iced green tea, stat.

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11.3.07

Making the prequels make sense

When George Lucas makes a tasteless chop suey out of his own mythology, it's nice that someone else tried to make sense of it:
As we now know, the rebel Alliance was founded by Yoda, Obi-Wan Kenobi and Bail Organa. What can readily be deduced is that their first recruit, who soon became their top field agent, was R2-D2. ... When he needed reliable people to join the embryonic Alliance, who else would Yoda turn to but his old friend from Kashykk? Given his background, there is no way that Chewie would spend the crucial years of the rebellion as the second-in-command to (sorry Han) a low-level smuggler. Unless it's his cover. In fact, Chewie is a top-line spy and flies what is in many ways the Rebellion's best ship.
(Via Montykins.)

It doesn't necessarily make The Revenge of the Sith go down any better, but at least it shows how neatly things could have been resolved if Lucas had only tried.

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Related posts: I have plus 10 geek cred, You were my Yoda!, You know what really bugs me?, A long, long time ago

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10.3.07

Surprises from Ikea

$61.70 worth of stuff from Ikea

The first surprise was that on a Saturday afternoon, the Ikea Alexandra store was not sardine-packed with browsing Singaporeans. It felt like we were shopping on a weekday afternoon --- no children too short to see over the edge of shopping carts pushing them into me, no long queues at the checkout line, barely any wait for a table at the cafe for lunch.

The second surprise was that while there was no official sale on, there were all sorts of discontinued items with the prices slashed to clear them out. Which is how cour marly ended up with a spiffy retro-print queen-sized quilt cover and pillow sheets for just a cool $29.

The third surprise (or maybe this wouldn't come as a surprise to anyone au fait with Ikea's patterns of stocking inventory) was that the same Pult ceiling light purchased almost eight years ago was still available. So the bathroom lights will still match each other.

PS: Ikea Hacker makes me realise what inept technical skills I have.

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9.3.07

Let this not be my destiny

Where would I be without Urban Dictionary? Today's unbeatable word of the day:
technosexual n. A person, male or female, who is so deeply enthralled with technology they discuss it with a level of passion that most people reserve for sex. Not always a geek or a nerd, but generally someone who has the latest and greatest everything.
I don't have the latest and greatest everything, but I often wish I did. I don't discuss technology with a level of passion that most people reserve for sex, but I do write for Popgadget. I cannot deny that I'm somewhat enthralled with technology.

Oh dear.

Edited to add (8:55 pm): Entirely by coincidence, mrbrown blogs about a completely different definition of technosexual that Calvin Klein's trying to exploit.

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Kill me now

I almost just typed "greatful" over MSN. The only thing I can blame it on is the fact that I was looking at the Great Eastern website (for work, not for personal edification or entertainment).

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Bah

How can I be so tired even after 8 hours of solid sleep?

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6.3.07

What does a cow's lung taste like?

Paru-paru

Sorta spongy but, surprisingly, without any strong flavour like liver (which I'm not a fan of) or kidney (which I sometimes like).

I don't know if the Chinese --- alleged purveyors of all impossible-to-fathom gastronomical choices --- cook lung, but what I had was at a Malay food stall, where it's called paru-paru and the lung(s?) seems to have been salted and fried.

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4.3.07

Another one to bite the dust

Nick informs me (via a comment on an old post) that CSS bus service no. 608, which runs from the east down to Shenton Way, will be terminated at the end of the month. I believe this is the last CSS bus route still in service.

Guess it's time to grab those pictures of the old orange bus while we can. I don't have one myself, but I'll try staking out Siglap over the next couple of weeks.

Nick's also asking for suggestions on how to document its passing. I'm partial to a short film myself, but anyone else have other suggestions for him?

Edited to add (March 6):

CSS bus service 608

Photo acquired. Anyone else wanna play?

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3.3.07

Call it a seafood surprise

So the original plan was to eat at Hua Yu Wee, a charming Chinese seafood restaurant located in an old bungalow (the kind that used to qualify as a seaside bungalow till land reclamation took the sea away from it). Then I couldn't get through on the phone to reserve a table and by the time I did at 4:45 pm today, they told me they were fully booked for tonight.

So I called Ponggol Seafood and booked a table there, thinking that they were still located at East Coast Parkway. Except that they were not, which I only found out when I directed the family to what I thought was the restaurant and found the space occupied by --- well, it all looked different.

So after I apologised for screwing up big-time, we ended up at the place we didn't want to eat at: the East Coast Seafood Centre. I hadn't really wanted to eat there because it's always obstreperously crowded on weekends and I didn't want to be shouting over the table all night. Plus I'm always a little doubtful of the quality of food at places that have become bona fide tourist destinations.

As it turned out, the rain seems to have thinned the crowd somewhat (the weather's been very monsoon redux lately), and we got a table at Chin Wah Heng Restaurant haste posthaste.

Never had bamboo clams before

Besides the availability of bamboo clams, there are plenty of other reasons to eat at Chin Wah Heng:
  • We all remarked that the chilli crab sauce and deep-fried baby squid dish were noticeably less sweet than they typically are at other restaurants --- which suggests that the kitchen doesn't season everything liberally with sugar to make it taste good.
  • Our plates, heaped with prawn and crab shells and other discards, were cleared often enough to put some hotel wedding banquets to shame.
  • The vegetables were not the first dish to arrive.
  • The staff were all indefatigably polite, despite my feeble command of Chinese.
  • Although one staff member dripped a spot of chilli crab sauce onto my arm, his apology was so overwrought as he speedily fetched wet towelettes for me, you'd've thought he'd thrown up all over me or something.
  • They gave us fresh hot water for our teapot without us asking for it, even though we were obviously already done with our meal by then.
  • I'm not sure if it had anything to do with the spillage incident, but we got a plate of complimentary fruit at the end of our meal.
Chin Wah Heng, people. They get the job done.

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I like the rain but ---

Having to sit through dinner in squishy wet sneakers and socks?

Nosso much --- no, not really.

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Hamlet Prince of YouTube

In lieu of actual blogging, here's the first YouTube video I've ever clicked on that wasn't recommended by a friend.


To post; to blog:
No more; and in that blogging, to say we counteract
The thousand stupendously stupid comments
The Net has heir to, 'tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish'd.
Yes, I really enjoyed this one.

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