31.12.07

Not an alcoholic

Not an alcoholic

Gearing up to move house means starting to clear out things that I don't want to pay people to carry up five floors (no lift at the new place). This is all going into the recycling today, which might make any passing neighbours glance askance at me, but really, even before I made any drinks last night, the Mandrin bottle was already empty, the Ruby Red had only half a shot left and the Vanilia about one shot.

And then this morning, I overslept.

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30.12.07

Firefox is being weird

Or rather, it has been since last night. It's ignoring the domain name on some URLs and treating the subdirectory information as the full URL --- which leads to a lot of ridiculous "Server not found" error messages.

For example, I'm trying to look at my friends' status updates on Facebook, which are at this URL: http://www.facebook.com/friends/?status

Firefox tries to load http://friends/?status instead --- and spits it back as an error to me.

Alternatively, if I try to load the main Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com), I get the following error message: "The URL is not valid and cannot be loaded."

Even though several minutes later, so long as the full URL is provided, the very same browser window will happily load the page without any grumbling or misfiring of URLs.

Why is this happening to some pages (so far, Facebook, The New York Times and Wired Blogs) only? Am I right in blaming Firefox? Did I break my browser without realising it?

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Next stop wonderland

It's a little surreal to contemplate, but in about a month I will be living somewhere else.

After a surprisingly effortless search, graced by a great deal of serendipity (my mother would say God's will), I've landed myself a nice little apartment in the very heart of the neighbourhood I was eyeing. And it only took buying two copies of The Straits Times (to peruse the classifieds; the news sections went straight into the recycling heap) and viewing exactly one apartment.

Yes, you read that right: one apartment.

But the real kicker is that the apartment turned out to be owned by someone I know professionally --- not someone I'm especially close to (wouldn't that be awkward), but someone I've worked and occasionally socialised with enough that I didn't have any qualms about saying yes to the asking rental price. Sure, I wish it were cheaper, but given how manic the local real estate market is at the moment, I'm thankful for what I have, rather than griping about the unlikely.

I don't have a fixed move-out-by date, but I figure before the Chinese New Year is a good target. Which means that most of January will be spent planning, measuring, sorting and pa(ni)cking. And working, of course.

In the meantime, I'm madly surfing Apartment Therapy and websites of its ilk, and I've ordered the very first piece of friends' artwork that will grace the apartment's walls.

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29.12.07

Serendipity is ...

Going to the Long Bar at the Raffles, because Timbre at the Arts House was packed, only to run into the friend that's only ever in town for two weeks of the year (and she leaves tomorrow).

So what I thought would be a quiet drink to round off the night, turned into several hours of bar-hopping and too many green tea vodkas, not to mention a little cute-boy stalking at Mox. The friend wanted to chiong (go all-out for the night, i.e. party till dawn), but I begged off by 1:30 am. As it was, I had a teeny hangover this morning and it took me two hours to sufficiently rehydrate.

Nothing like the holiday season to remind me that I'm getting old ...

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27.12.07

A cousin collision

I saw my cousin today for the first time in what might be fourteen years. And if I hadn't had gone shopping for Abigael and Ming's birthday gifts, I wouldn't've bumped into him at all.

Impressively, he recognised me after I hailed him in the Parkway Parade post-Xmas crowds --- not bad considering that I now wear contact lenses, keep my hair short (though it's a little raggedy around the edges at the moment) and am almost half a lifetime older. He looks pretty much the same, just older and more built. Someone's got a gym membership, I bet.

Sadly, though we wanted to catch up, a quick glance at my watch confirmed that I needed to get home stat or I'd be late for my 3 pm meeting, and he leaves Singapore tomorrow. Let's hope it isn't another fourteen years before we run into each other again.

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Ladies who wine

After the wining

Not all the time, but twice last night --- once at Hermitage, and again at Wine Connection. But we did not whine, because it's the Xmas season and we have much to be grateful for. Like pink coin purses and vacations to Australia and iPhones.

Okay, so none of those were mine. But I have new earphones and I managed to avoid being stuck with a week's worth of Xmas leftovers and I have free tickets to Maria Sharapova this Sunday. Not bad for a season I barely got warmed up for.
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25.12.07

Wordiness: Godzone

Christmas candle

Apropos of the holiday, I present to you the most festive new word in the Oxford English Dictionary's December 2007 release:
Godzone n. New Zealand.
You'll have to see the release for a fuller explanation.

Merry Xmas, everybody!

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24.12.07

Xmas Eve shopping

I bought a purportedly catnip-laden cat toy for Ink from Ikea today, but he paid more attention to the giant plastic shopping bag instead. So much for my attempt at an Xmas gift.

He loves his plastic bags

Ikea's Tampines outlet was really quite civilised, despite it being Xmas Eve. I'd never been there before and the hugeness of it is very refreshing. Not to mention the inevitable Raiders of the Lost Ark vibe when one enters the self-service warehouse area.

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Related posts: Breaking the bad taste barrier, Surprises from Ikea

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When political leaders get hip to the internet

As I was wishing dolcelatte merry Xmas online last night, I was also watching the BBC, which triggered the following exchange (pardon the lack of proper punctuation):
ME: i am watching the queen's youtube channel on bbc
ME: it is surreal
dolcelatte: oh i heard about that
dolcelatte: havent checked it out yet
dolcelatte: i'll watch her christmas day speech on christmas day
dolcelatte: and it'll be like i never left blighty
ME: pretty cool, the queen :)
ME: way hipper than lee hsien loong
ME: hehe
dolcelatte: lee hsien loong is so not hip
ME: ya
dolcelatte: sigh
dolcelatte: and the queen is like 80plus
ME: i can imagine this will be a topic of conversation at the next young pap meeting
ME: "queen got youtube leh! We only had hip-hop and blog - how? how?"
dolcelatte: hahaahha
dolcelatte: but if they had youtube channel
dolcelatte: it would be political video
dolcelatte: and then, they'll have to ban themselves!
Actually, if such a channel were launched, it would no doubt debut with such nuggets as the MDA rap.

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23.12.07

How the web works out

6 minutes ago, I updated my Facebook status to: [Tym] wants to celebrate Pikkojoulu next year.

Which prompted Abigael to Google "Pikkojoulu".

Which threw up as the top English-language search result, my friend Jude's Flickr post.

Which is where I'd picked up the concept of Pikkojoulu in the first place, and left a comment to that effect.

As I said to Abigael, I'm just everywhere.

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22.12.07

What English am I speaking?

I was talking to a friend about another friend, Jamal, and for some reason I started pronouncing the name as "Juh-MAHL" instead of "JAH-mull". To which the friend I was speaking to said, "He didn't grow up in Noo York, you know."

I have no idea where that moment of cultural disconnect came from, but I felt very contrite. I felt even more contrite when I was thinking a little harder about the name and my brain switched channels to "Malcolm-Jamal Warner" --- yes, he of The Cosby Show fame (or lack thereof). I knew watching hours and hours of that show as a kid would someday come back to haunt me.

Time to spank the inner street slangster and get my tongue back to a less affected local pronunciation.

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21.12.07

The elaborate Venn diagram of our lives

A friend told me today about this new girl he's seeing. It being 2007, of course he had to have me check her out on Facebook. Which led to the revelation that she knows some people I know --- not surprising when two degrees of separation is par for the course in Singapore.

What was surprising is that she knows an old classmate of mine from primary school, whom I haven't spoken to since the late 1980s when we bumped into each other at Centrepoint. And that, upon peeking at his list of Facebook friends, it turns out that he knows a number of people in my existing circle: a former colleague, an old neighbour and a friend's ex, among others. Which leaves me further surprised that we haven't crossed paths more recently.

I like Facebook, but sometimes it just reminds me that Singapore is just Too. Damn. Small.

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20.12.07

Recent happy food discoveries

I haven't been invited to any Xmas parties (yes, I confess, I'm a little distressed about that), but there's been a great deal of dinners out with friends to make up for it. Which has led to some rather delightful discoveries on the local food scene.

Crepe and coffee

Bella Pizza at Riverside View is so new that Googling it will come up with nothing except blogger Ermita's review (sounds like she was there the night before I was). The pizzas are fabulous, the fettucine carbonara was the best I've ever had in Singapore, and I'm glad Olorin and I went for the Nutella banana crepe for dessert, because man, did that hit the spot.

Breakfast at TCC

I don't usually eat fancypants breakfast during the workweek, but I was starving when I got to TCC for a meeting on Wednesday and all they had were elaborate repasts that must've taken at least 20 minutes to assemble on the plate. No such thing as a simple bagel or muffin on their menu.

Surprisingly (because TCC is a coffee chain not exactly known for its culinary finesse), the food looked as good as it had in the menu and then tasted as good too. For a start, the "on the vine tomatoes" were really served on the vine and were nice and corpulent. I'm going to remember the combination of scrambled eggs, sliced parmesan and smoked salmon when I want to make myself a good breakfast at home.

Dinner at 25 Degree Celsius

Tonight, Casey and I went to 25 Degree Celsius, which I've been meaning to check out since w wrote about it last month. Not only was it refreshingly uncrowded (though the packed MRT trains on the way to town damn near did me in), the service was delightful and the food was great: duck confit so tender one barely needs a knife, flavourful un-fishy barramundi fillet and a rice cake whose ingredients we couldn't identify but which we loved.

Plus they sell books! Cookbooks!Books about food! Plenty to browse and salivate over. I'm definitely coming back.

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19.12.07

It's not really Xmas till ...

I have fresh cupcakes from Baked Ideas in the house.

Pretty in pink

There were four boxes of them, but most are going away as gifts.

The cat, of course, immediately decided as I unwrapped this box for myself, that the pink ribbon was his new toy.

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18.12.07

Where have all the good books gone?

Borders' selection of Salman Rushdie

At Borders last night, my friend was whining that she couldn't find any of the books she was looking for. Given that initially she was looking for books in the philosophy or linguistics sections --- not exactly the best-stocked sections in any Singapore bookstore --- I wasn't too surprised. But when she got to the Ian McEwans and there were only three titles on the shelf (barring the heaps of editions of Atonement with Keira Knightley on the cover), I started to wonder ---

--- and wandered over to the R's, where my favourites Philip Roth and Salman Rushdie reside. Roth was more than adequately represented, with new editions (look for the book covers in primary colours) of just about every one of his major works, and a number of minor ones too. Rushdie, however, was languishing as McEwan had been: only Grimus, The Moor's Last Sigh and Shalimar the Clown (two copies) were wedged onto the shelf, lost amidst the spines of other less weighty but visually more striking books.

"I want to do a test. Give me the name of another famous author," I said to my friend.

"Margaret Atwood," she said, because we had just been talking about the cover of Moral Disorders.

There were also only three Atwoods on the shelf: Moral Disorders (a bunch of copies), The Penelopiad and The Tent (one each); we later stumbled upon Negotiating with the Dead in the literary criticism shelves.

"Is Borders not selling real books anymore?" I wanted to know.

Fortunately, my next litmus test was Milan Kundera, which passed with flying colours. And then we decided to get outta there before we bought up the entire bookstore with those lovely 30% discount vouchers (print as many as you like; they expire today), so I didn't get to do any more tests.

But still: only three Ian McEwans (and my friend bought one of them, Amsterdam), three Rushdies and three Atwoods (fiction, anyway) --- whereas in the past they've carried practically each writer's entire oeuvre?

"Maybe they haven't restocked the books 'cause people have been buying them in the sale," saith my friend.

To which I retorted, "There aren't that many people in Singapore who would read Rushdie."

The other thing I do at bookstores is rearrange books if they're misshelved. So if you went looking for the above-pictured shelf of Rushdie today and if no one tampered with my arrangement after last night, you would find the two copies of Shalimar the Clown side by side (as they should be), with The Moor's Last Sigh shelved to their left.

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17.12.07

The perils of working at home

A cat in the lap

How am I supposed to get anything done when he takes a stack of A3 printouts as an excuse to climb into my lap and snooze?

Fortunately, he got bored about half an hour later and moseyed off elsewhere --- just before my legs fell completely asleep.

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16.12.07

Lazy Sunday

I have a bruised toe.

I'm short on sleep.

I think I'm going back to bed for a bit.

14.12.07

Wordiness: repple-depple

I'm finally reading Robert A. Heinlein's Starship Troopers (thanks, Wahj!) and the word "repple-depple" totally threw me for a loop. It's not the only instance of military jargon in the book, but it's certainly a more whimsical word than I expected to encounter in a military context.

Anyway, a quick Google search tells me that "repple-depple" refers to a replacement depot --- which is about as un-reppledy-deppledy a place as I'd imagined the word would refer to. Huh.

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How to have a little birdsong with your morning coffee

I was wondering where the sound of birds chirping was coming from --- none are taunting the cat outside the open windows, and he doesn't even seem to notice the occasional twittering or whistling. And then I realised ...

It's coming from this website.

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13.12.07

Random run-ins today

At Bugis Junction, I was intercepted by a slip of a girl claiming to be from a modelling agency and would I like to ... "I'm not interested," I said, and waved her off. I have no idea what she wanted. I mean, I was wearing a boring button-down office-y shirt I had resurrected from the back of the wardrobe because I needed to look respectable and in case the weather turned cold, paired with skinny jeans and wedges --- the faux successful "creative" look, as one might generously call it. Definitely not one of my better-dressed days.

Also at Bugis Junction, I'd arranged to meet someone off one of my email lists to buy a secondhand Margaret Atwood book off her. Which may not sound that remarkable, but given how all-over-the-place my schedule has been in the last twenty-four hours, I'm amazed no one else beat me to it. Guess there aren't that many prospective purveyors purchasers of Moral Disorders after all.

In other randomness, it looks like both the projects I was rushing to get finish before Xmas are pushing their deadlines back --- due to circumstances that have nothing to do with me, of course --- so maybe I'll get to enjoy a little pre-Xmas jollity next week. Earlier this week, I was in a house that had two real Xmas trees and real Xmas wreaths scattered throughout all the ground-floor rooms. It smelled incredible.

Finally, for my l33t-sp43k1ng fr13nds: who'd've thunk it that "w00t" would make Webster's word of the year?

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Now why didn't I think of that?

So there are these two female architects in New York who make it a point of a) having lunch out of the office, b) documenting it religiously. Hence: LUNCH with Front Studio, which even has a handy-dandy map of all the places in their neighbourhood where they eat. They also keep track of their daily 4 pm espresso break snacks.

Saith the ladies:
We believe leaving the office everyday for lunch is an invaluable ritual. In a time and city where people are constantly rushing around, trying to accomplish three tasks at once, taking a moment to have a civilized meal becomes even more vital. Eating at your desk while reading emails, surfing the world wide web, snarfing down a bland turkey sandwich from the deli down the street is NOT lunch.
Amen, sisters. If I had a dollar for every time I've said that to myself, or tried to entice an overworked associate out to lunch with that logic ...

As karma would have it, today might be a day when I skip lunch because I have meetings that run 11:30 am - 1:30 pm, followed by many urgent errands thereafter. Poo.

(Via Popgadget.)

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11.12.07

It never rains but it pours

It's been pouring a lot --- the rain, that is. I love it.

Work's been pouring too. I have major deadlines before Xmas, which has turned me into a furious writing machine whose eyes get itchy from fatigue around dinnertime --- but I typically plough on for a few more hours anyway. Meanwhile, all non-essential social plans have been axed, all Xmas decorations are still buried in the storeroom, and I try not to think about the fact that every other person I know seems to be traipsing off on vacation.

Nonetheless, for dinner tonight, I took the time to whip up (almost literally) some lemon linguine from a Nigella recipe. I now know how to separate yolks from whites. It would've helped if I'd remembered the salt and pepper, though.

Is it really ten days till Xmas?

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9.12.07

Is it almost midnight?

It's no fun when the work week begins on a Sunday.

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7.12.07

Morning call

For the second time this week, my day has started with me reaching under the bed with paper towels to mop up Ink's puke.

He does this every so often, usually after scarfing down his food, then immediately running around like a mad hatter. It's preceded by the telltale hacking sounds that suggest he's retching up a young alien creature, followed by the appearance of a pale brown puddle of gloop.

At least today, he didn't do it at 6 am.

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6.12.07

Random is ...

Random is running into Torrance when I went to collect my passport on Wednesday. Or rather, him running into me --- he came over to see who was tapping away at a shiny white Macbook in the crowded collection hall.

I'd foolishly assumed from my previous experience of making a new identity card that I would be outta there within half an hour. Instead, the number I drew at 2:01 pm was the 200th in line, so I settled myself down to do some work. When Torrance showed up 20 minutes later, his number was 40 after mine, so he flipped open his PSP to pass the time. Yes, we are geeks.

(More importantly, I got my passport after a total waiting time of about 1 hour 20 minutes, so now I can make travel plans again!)

Random is also watching teenage boys try to solve Rubik's Cubes while on the MRT trains. I saw one with a 3x3 cube on Tuesday, and a few others with two 5x5 cubes the day after. Are they making a comeback, just like all things '80s? It was very surreal to watch them strategise in Mandarin how best to twist the puzzle next.

For the record, I suck at the Rubik's Cube. An uncompleted Rubik's Cube taunts me from a high shelf in the living room, to remind me that I have neither patience nor the pattern-recognition skills for it.

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5.12.07

A sole comparison

The last piece of lemon sole I had before last night was as delightfully light as its name suggests, served on a white plate with some sparse vegetables. It was at Le Chien Qui Fume, a seafood restaurant off Les Halles in Paris that my cousin brought us to for dinner, after a day at Versailles. She had a splendid platter of fresh seafood that she happily plucked off its mountain of ice, and later we shared a sublime sabayon, the first I'd ever sampled and what she assured me was a very good specimen thereof.

A big hunk of fish

Last night's lemon sole was a whole different matter. At Big Fish, the friend whose birthday it was wanted oysters and rainbow trout, then there was seafood chowder too, and I thought the lemon sole would be a nice light wrap-up to my meal. But how wrong I was because at Big Fish, they give you the whole lemon sole, slathered in a sauce that my tastebuds are too feeble to identify other than that it was tomato-based.

Needless to say, I couldn't eat dessert afterwards.

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4.12.07

Lunch hour

Faux kopitiam

So Daniel and I are dawdling over lunch at Shin Kushiya, when suddenly we realise how quiet the place has gotten. It's only ten minutes after two, but all the men wearing pin-striped shirts with ties have cleared out and we're the only ones left in the section.

"Wanna go for coffee?" Daniel asks.

"Okay."

I guess that's why the pin-striped types make all the big bucks and us "creative" types, er, don't.

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3.12.07

I love Leopard but ...

Toggling between Spaces gives me motion sickness.

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2.12.07

MacBooking

What to do while the MacBook is loading the data from the previous Mac:
  • Panic about the fact that the MacBook expects the process to take 3 hours and 38 minutes --- and I'm supposed to be at Packrat's birthday dinner with the family in an hour's time.
  • Heave sigh of relief that the MacBook keeps revising downwards the estimated time needed --- except that it eventually stalls at the point where I'll still be at least half an hour later for dinner.
  • SMS family to say I'll be late.
  • Fold laundry.
  • Refill jug of cold water (yes, Packrat, I mean cold water).
  • Attempt to watch videotaped episode of this week's The Amazing Race.
  • Curse the fact that something's gone wonky with the VCR's programming and it taped an hour of black static instead.
  • Check on MacBook progress --- now it looks like I'll be an hour late.
  • Channel surf and watch Christiane Amanpour talk to the Russian nouveau riche.
  • Think about hand-writing notes for this blog entry, since there are no free computers to blog from.
  • Use the VCR to keep an eye on the time, since there are no free computers to check.
  • Decide to leave the computers on and head out to dinner.
  • Get dressed for dinner.
  • Check on MacBook progress --- the transfer's sped up again, so maybe I'll just sit down and wait for it.
  • Watch the lovely Megan McCormick talk about Vietnamese food on Discovery Travel and Living.
  • Attempt to count down the last 20 minutes of the data transfer --- except that the process keeps speeding up, slowing down, speeding up, slowing down ...
  • Learn that there are Vietnamese versions of the Philippines' balut (a duck embryo eaten straight from the egg). Megan McCormick has great expressions when she's eaten something truly foul yet she's trying to say nice PC things about it.
  • Make a note to eat banh xeo the next time I'm in Ho Chi Minh City.
  • Rejoice that the MacBook's finally all loaded up.
You'd think that my next words would be, "And then I went off to dinner," but no, the MacBook had to be online to complete the setup process, and then I thought the wireless router didn't want to play nice with the newcomer in the house, and it was only after dinner that I figured out I was being the doofus, not the technology ---

MacBooked

Anyway, it all seems to work nicely now *knock on wood* and I'm already getting cat hairs on the screen.

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The week in pictures

Sea view

On Monday, I went out to sea. But only for a little while and it was choppy enough that I had to stop taking notes and concentrate on the horizon to quell the potential seasickness. Now I know exactly where some of the Southern Islands are, like Kusu and St John's. They always seemed such a long boat ride away when I was a kid.

PS: Our port is truly, irredeemably ugly.

Nature reinterpreted

On Wednesday, I popped in on Culturepush's Next Stop: Wonderland tour of Majestic Bar. Groovy art. Besides Yuki Chong's stained-glass ceiling installation (above), I'm also in love with Sandra Lee's third-floor blue-room set-up, staircase and all.

They don't build 'em like this anymore

Yesterday, there was ROJAK. I hadn't been to one in some time, and since my Singapore Writers Festival panel put me right across the street from the old City Hall where it was happening, I had no excuse not to drop by for a bit (until my stomach demanded to be fed anyway). It was very, very cool to be sitting in the same room that I've seen in so many black and white photographs of historic events.

Things that I forgot to take pictures of this week:
  • The also very cool Dual City Sessions party on Friday night, where I ran into all and sundry, and managed to finally meet a couple of people that I'd been hearing about for the longest time. Other people have pictures on Flickr; all I've got to show for myself is a pair of well-worn wedges (lots of traipsing up and down the stairs), a resolution to bring my mom to see what her Old School has become, and the vicarious thrill of reporting that I loaned Daniel the camera to make his art.
  • The Reel Blogging panel I did yesterday evening, which I completed failed to even, er, publicise. Good thing Stefan was, as usual, quick with the blog post and the camera to record what went down.
Pardon the lack of more eloquent descriptive phrases. My brain's all used up from crunching text for that Very Important deadline.

No pictures of the new Macbook yet. Let me post this, then I can go play with it.

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