31.10.07

Orange and yellow make the world go Hallow-eeny

I didn't do anything Halloween-y this year, unless you count the orange I ate after dinner as some kind of tropical substitute for pumpkin (it was sliced into wedges, not carved, and consumed with all the finesse of a ravenous zombie).

I did "give" a bunch of friends candy corn, courtesy of the SuperPoke! application on Facebook. But that was mostly because I was excited at both finding out that SuperPoke! had Halloween actions, as well as seeing the words "candy corn" (another Americanism that I'm sure ballsy is picking up). Not that I ever actually liked candy corn. Feed me some Reese's Peanut Butter Cups any day --- available in Halloween colours all year long!

I was telling James how it's wicked fun dressing up for Halloween only if you're clever enough to think up an ironic costume, like Oz does on Buffy (season 4) when his girlfriend Willow is dressed up as Joan of Arc whom she says had "a close relationship with God" --- cue Oz pointing to the friendly white sticker on his flannel shirt that says, "GOD". Tofu Nation had a pretty close encounter with one such cleverly costumed couple this year: A-Salt and Battery (scroll down to the image of the woman in bright yellow).

Now that I think about it, maybe I should've done something Halloween-y this year. After all, given how rabid the religious right has been in Singapore lately, by next year Halloween might be banned, along with the abominations of birth control and pigskin footwear.
BARTLET: I like your show. I like how you call homosexuality an abomination.
JENNA JACOBS: I don't say homosexuality is an abomination, Mr. President. The Bible does.
BARTLET: Yes, it does. Leviticus.
JENNA JACOBS: 18:22.
BARTLET: Chapter and verse. I wanted to ask you a couple of questions while I had you here. I'm interested in selling my youngest daughter into slavery as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7. She's a Georgetown sophomore, speaks fluent Italian, and always clears the table when it was her turn. What would a good price for her be? While thinking about that, can I ask another? My Chief of Staff, Leo McGarry, insists on working on the Sabbath, Exodus 35:2, clearly says he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself or is it okay to call the police? Here's one that's really important, 'cause we've got a lot of sports fans in this town. Touching the skin of a dead pig makes us unclean, Leviticus 11:7. If they promise to wear gloves, can the Washington Redskins still play football? Can Notre Dame? Can West Point? Does the whole town really have to be together to stone my brother, John, for planting different crops side by side? Can I burn my mother in a small family gathering for wearing garments made from two different threads?

--- "The Midterms", The West Wing
Yeah, I'm as pissed off at Thio Li Ann and her supporters as any other reasonable human being. Yeah, and I said "pissed off", not "pissed on [her grave]". And this isn't anonymous, either.

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30.10.07

It's not 19 hours everyday

I thought I'd better blog, because some people think I've been on 19-hour workdays since Friday.

Which I haven't, truly. Just five hours on Saturday (would've been less if I'd been less distracted by the New York Times's weekly book and movie review updates) and about seven hours on Sunday (NYT's Travel Dispatch did not interest me but other sites did). Monday clocked in at about ten hours and today's about 11.

Not that, um, I'm scrupulously keeping track of my work hours or anything.

Besides working, I have also been cooking (very therapeutic, now that --- thanks to Nigella --- I have a clearer idea of what I'm doing) and reading Jared Diamond's Collapse. The Easter Island story I used to read in my Encyclopaedia Brittanica Children's Encyclopaedia makes sense at last.

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27.10.07

This never happens either

I was up at 6:20 a.m. It's now 1:30 a.m. and I'm off to bed. That's a 19-hour workday, y'all, if you're keepin' score at home.

Goodnight!

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Related posts: Officially a workaholic, Not quite the weekend off, Working on the weekend, Checking in, Still tapping away here, Seeing stars

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26.10.07

This never happens

When my eyes blinked open this morning, everything was still cast in evocative grey-blue tones that could mean only one thing --- it was barely dawn. I checked my alarm (aka my cell phone) and I had an hour to go before my 7:30 a.m. alarm time. So I went back to sleep.

Or rather, I wanted to and I tried to, but the brain was already awhirr with adrenaline, beyond what I knew was the point of no return. Funnily enough, I didn't feel like I needed more sleep either --- whereas I'm usually bleary-eyed and reluctant to wake up even after a solid eight hours' sleep, which is what I'd planned for last night. But this morning the mind was all up-and-at-'em, racing away with with all sorts of work-related foo.

So I got up. At 6:20 a.m. I reiterate, without the alarm clock going off or any extrinsic circumstance motivating my getting out of bed.

Or to use a pithy Singaporeanism: faster go and buy 4D now.

When I fired up the laptop, no less than three IMs popped up almost immediately, marvelling at the fact that I was up. Ondine was up because she has four-month-old twins, kk was up because she's in Tokyo and they work hard over there, and the third friend friend was up to help with the Cat Welfare Society's mass spay-neuter day. My excuse: "I went to bed at 11:30 p.m. last night."

Well, clearly, I need to not do that again.

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24.10.07

Random word-related observations of the day

Dear Channel NewsAsia,

I refer to your news report dated 23 October 2007, "Penal code should be updated to avoid gender biasness".

Please note that "bias" is already a noun and there is no such word as "biasness", nor any need for one.

It's not clear from your news report if Member for Parliament Charles Chong used the word "biasness" in his actual remarks, but if he did, you might want to tell him that too.

Love,
Tym

* * *

Speaking of unexpected errors, I was just revising something I wrote two weeks ago and found that I'd written "breakbacking work" (instead of "backbreaking work", obviously). Oops.

Maybe I should thank Ang Lee, Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal for making "brokeback" a household term.

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Dreaming of pancakes

Leafing through Nigella Lawson's How To Eat before sleeping leaves one dreaming of fresh pancakes and robust syrup from Australia.

I don't know if Australia makes remarkable syrup. Maybe my brain got confused and meant to say New Hampshire. As in,
LEO: It's a breakfast, Toby, it's a pancake breakfast. There's nothing in that memo that's important.
BARTLET: We're having Vermont maple syrup?
TOBY: Mr President, if you read item 4 you'll see that time at this breakfast will be spent discussing calling the Patient's Bill of Rights the Comprehensive Access and Responsibility Act.
BARTLET: I don't give a damn if they call it the Monroe doctrine. What the hell are we doing serving Vermont maple syrup? [a few lines later ...] New Hampshire syrup is what we serve in this White House.
--- "The Leadership Breakfast", The West Wing
I'm nowhere near ready to start whipping up my own pancake batter yet, so it'll be cereal and bananas, with no syrup of any kind, later this morning.

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22.10.07

The most unexpected language error I found today

"Hick-ups", instead of, well, you know.

It's a strange error to find, especially since it's in a Singapore publication from 2002 and it's not like Singapore wasn't thoroughly so English-educated then that people didn't know then what hiccups were.

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Confusing the cat

Where's the baby?

I was watching Evan flip over on YouTube and Ink trotted over excitedly to investigate, very much wearing an expression that said, "I can hear the human noise, but where's the human?" He has the same reaction if my cell phone ringtone with the screeching "Ohaaaaaayyyyyo!" voice goes off.

It was only after two minutes of replaying the video that he lost interest and moseyed off.

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19.10.07

Wordiness: C2DE

Technically, it's not quite a word but it's not an acronym either. I was reading about the internal reorganisation of BBC News and "C2DE" kept popping up without explanatory notes.

Turns out it's UK jargon, springing from the terminology of that country's National Readership Survey, where grade C2 refers to skilled manual workers, D to semi- and unskilled manual workers and E to pensioners, widows, casual or lowest-grade earners (more details here, if you really must know). "C2DE" is shorthand for all these groups, i.e. roughly synonymous with "working class".

And I thought Singapore was bad with the obfuscating language!

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18.10.07

The things I do for my cat

He likes his cold water

What can I say? He has a penchant for cold water, preferably when it's in my glass.

(Quite a bit of water was spilled on the table in the making of this photograph.)

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Getting out for a change

The problem with working at Starbucks is that I can't sit there with one leg up (TM Stellou) --- which, as anyone with working-class Chinese immigrant forebears will tell you, is the most comfortable yet least dignified way of sitting on a chair. (I am sitting with one leg up now. But I'm at home.)

The other problem is that it's exam season and the Siglap outlet was positively packed with teenaged students, ostensibly studying, though a number of them did a fair amount of wandering aimlessly in and out of the place. I was barely able to get a table at 2 pm and now I know why James says it makes him feel old to be there.

But actually the main problem is that there doesn't seem to be a publicly accessible power point. Which means that after less than two hours, I've got to pack up the laptop and head home. But at least I'm not cabin-fevered anymore.

PS: Will someone open a nice indie cafe at Siglap, please? The neighbourhood is just drowning in chain cafes.

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Writing style

I write in Helvetica 11 point with 125% zoom on Microsoft Word. How 'bout you?

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17.10.07

The appetite strikes back

The thing about having a stomach ailment is that it makes you want to eat everything in sight, especially everything you're not supposed to be eating.

Like all the cheese at Cold Storage: Brie, Emmenthal, Gouda, Gruyère and Havarti. I also have Gouda in my fridge that I probably shouldn't try to eat till next week, but that didn't stop me from stopping by a bakery to see if they had any good bread that might go with it (they didn't).

The other thing I probably won't touch till next week is the Honey Bunches of Oats cereal that I bought last week when I had a craving. It doesn't taste the same without milk.

At Cold Storage today, I settled for minced beef, mushrooms and a tomato-based pasta sauce; chicken, asparagus and a basil pesto sauce; bananas, TimTams and a pack of frozen char siew baos. I am not planning to eat the last three items in conjunction with each other.

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15.10.07

False start

I bounded up out of bed this morning, feeling like I'd beaten back the bug and was ready to take on the world again. Hooray for sleep!

Two hours later, after picking up cat food and some basic groceries, I felt like I'd been whacked over the head with a plank. It took a three-hour nap in the afternoon to make me feel like I could somewhat function again.

Now it's not even midnight and I'm ready to hit the sack again. I guess I can only function in four-hour spurts or so. Man, being sick is tiring ...

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14.10.07

Barely eating

My stomach is extremely unhappy this weekend, which took all the fun out of my mother's birthday dinner last night. I haven't been able to retain anything in my system, although I'm now hazarding a banana walnut muffin (bought from Cedele yesterday before I realised how seriously ill I was).

Anyway, before I got sick, I went to the National Museum's 120th anniversary party on Friday night, which included the premiere of 120, a commissioned theatrical performance (I don't know how else to call it) about the redesign and revamp of the museum. Very postmodern, as these things are wont to be.

Theatre at (and in) the Museum

Since then, all I've done is try not to aggravate my stomach further. I suppose drinking orange juice wasn't the smartest move in the book, but I hate that icky taste in the mouth that comes from being sick. On the other hand, watching some season 2 The West Wing helped, mostly because I know certain episodes so well I can just sit around and wait for the punchline, which sometimes goes like this:
JOSH: You've heard.
BARTLET: About the Chinese refugees?
SAM: They escaped.
BARTLET: Yeah. Can you believe it?
JOSH: No, as a matter of fact, neither one of us can believe it, sir.
BARTLET: That detention center was being guarded by the 22nd Division of the California National Guard. Now, what does it say about our reserve army?
SAM: That 83 men, women and children who haven't eaten in two months staged a prison break.

--- "Shibboleth", The West Wing
I haven't eaten (properly) in two days and I don't think I could help the cat stage a breakout from the apartment right now.

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9.10.07

A hodge-podge of stories

I've been meaning to blog for the past four days at least, but whenever I've sat down with this blank Blogger screen in front of me, nothing's come to mind.

Japanese vending machine drinks - in Singapore

I mean, there was the story about the mango. My friend and I were walking along Upper East Coast Road when a) two bats dived out of the tree just in front of us, b) I spotted a huge mango on the road just beside the curb. "A mango!" I squeaked. My friend was nonplussed, although he stopped to look down at it. "Get it!" I squeaked." But then a taxi was coming down the road. "It'll squash the mango --- " "No, it won't. Get it!" And then we had a mango. It's in my friend's fridge, last I heard, so I can't report on how it tastes (you see why this makes a weak story?). I'm still amazed that it fell off the tree just as we were walking by --- thank you, fruit bats!

Then there's the story about wandering through a corner of Chinatown with Wahj on a too-hot Saturday afternoon, during which I introduced him to Global Sounds World Music Cafe, while interjecting every now and then about the Japanese prostitutes that used to inhabit Spring Street and the "death houses" (where the destitute went to die) that used to run down Sago Lane. That's what comes of spending a week reading about the seedy underbelly of 19th-century Singapore. Wahj said I should start running walking tours, but this being Singapore, one needs a pesky government licence for that, plus it's too hot to be walking around that much.

What other stories have I got for you? My uncle had quite a few when we all had dinner over the weekend. He'd just come in from Canada, but from the stories he told, you'd think he'd just returned from a round-the-world expedition. The best story was about taking a public bus between towns in Turkey --- only to have armed policemen muscle aboard with a handcuffed man that they were transporting to prison. Those were the days, I guess ...

Today's sad tale could be of how I had (as usual) too much work and had to (as usual) work after dinner. But instead, let's talk about coriander pesto and how it's totally different from basil pesto, which means that my pasta dinner didn't taste exactly as I'd expected (though it still tasted alright). Coriander always makes me expect a curry flavour. Guess I'll have to go look up a different recipe now ...

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6.10.07

Fighting the good fight

I failed to read blogs for a few days (as I, um, often do) and when I popped over to Little Miss Drinkalot, I found a Grammar 101 question (yippee!) and a misguided answer (boo!). So I exercised my elfin bow of gold and pointed out that an apostrophe-s is used to denote a possessive only if the noun in question is a plural form, not necessarily with proper names that are singular.

On hindsight, it was a very restrained explanation --- much shorter than the detail I went into on this blog last year (Raffles' vs. Raffles's was the proper name in question at the time).

Predictably, there was a detractor (predictably, an anonymous one) but two subsequent commenters, armed with their respective elfin bows of gold, took care of that. I'm just glad I didn't have to whip out New Hart's Rules all over again.

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2.10.07

Another reason the news in Singapore annoys me

There are many reasons why I don't typically read The Straits Times or watch MediaCorp News or Channel NewsAsia, but here's one more that I've not regularly articulated:
The first 10 minutes of the nightly news concentrated, as it always does, on the comings and goings of the senior leadership, which seemed to consist mostly of making speeches.
It's from yesterday's BBC News story, "Lessons from the Burmese uprising", and describes TV news bulletins in China, but I think it applies well enough to TV news in Singapore. How many times I've listened to or read news reports (including lame news ticker headlines) that dutifully reported the mundanities in a minister's speech as if they were the gospel truth or Eureka! moment. In an age when almost anyone with an internet connection can speak directly to a global audience, does the mere fact that it happened to be a politician who said something make it news anymore?

I happened to switch on the TV at 9:15 pm last night because I wanted white noise and was tired of my iTunes playlists. For a moment I was tempted to leave the TV on Channel 5 and wait for the 9:30 pm news bulletin --- but then I remembered how annoying previous experiences had been and switched over to the pabulum of a Discovery Travel & Living programme about travelling in Alaska instead. At least there were pretty glaciers to look at.

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