I just typed "output" as "outpoot". This doesn't bode well for a Monday.

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Crazy is ...

The National Museum goes MPH

Not the thousands and thousands of people swarming the Night Festival last night, but the fact that somebody decided Sunday would be a good time to run a loud motor all day to slice up the tree that they chopped down on Friday. (They have to slice it up into more manageable chunks so that they can transport the lumber away.)

Meanwhile, I'm trying to catch up on writing because I only cranked out twenty words instead of a thousand yesterday, and they were twenty crappy words that I promptly deleted today.

Sunday = day of rest? Not likely.

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They cut down a tree today


The one right outside where I live, in fact. I thought they were just trimming the branches that overhang the road for safety reasons, but when I got home, the tree was gone.


So now there's nothing to provide a little privacy between my front door and the main road, or to deflect the worst of the afternoon sun. I hope there's a damn good reason for removing that tree.

Edited to add (July 31): An email from my friendly neighbourhood town council informs me that the tree had to be removed because its base was rotting. I asked them pretty please to plant a new one asap!


Rainy nights are good for ...

A cup of hot tea in front of the TV and the internet. Two cups, actually --- first camomile, then peppermint. For a change I'm trying not to snack after dinner, although watching POTUS and Senator Vinick spoon ice cream out of giant tubs in the Presidential kitchen (just to be clear, this is The West Wing universe we're talking about) made the unopened pint of Ben & Jerry's in my freezer look pretty damn tempting.

Okay, I really need to write in shorter sentences.

I created a new photo set on Flickr tonight, when I realised that I've taken heaps of pictures while looking up at ceilings. I don't know where the impulse came from, other than boredom at shooting whatever was visible at eye level. Talking to Wesley about it via IM tonight, he thinks the pictures show "a sense of freedom" or "seeking freedom". To which my glib response ran along the lines of: "So I keep looking up, but I'm trapped by the ceiling".

One wonders, huh.




I don't have a spillproof mug but ...

After yesterday's misadventure, this is where I place my coffee cup now.

The placement of a coffee mug

It might still get tipped over, but at least it's on a chair, below where the laptop sits.

The Kleenex isn't there to mop up spills, by the way. It's usually on the table, but this morning I stuck it there 'cause I needed more immediate access to tend to my sniffly nose (it's reacting to the unseasonably cool weather).

At least I'm not resorting to a sippy cup.



What kind of a dork am I?

The kind of dork that spills coffee on her laptop AGAIN. And this time, neither cat was in the vicinity so I can't pini it on them.

One minute I'm saying hi to beeker online, the next minute there's coffee over half the table, and too much of it on the Macbook. And then the Macbook decides to go black as I wiping down the keyboard (while knowing in my heart from the previous experience that I'll need to take it in anyway, because any minute now the keys will start sticking together) and doesn't boot up anymore.

I hope it's just a short-circuited motherboard and not any hard drive damage, because I have 4,000 words of a new chapter of the book I'm co-writing in there.

4,000 words. Not backed up because I only finished it yesterday.


All right, instead of dwelling on my ownself-sabo-ownself troubles, let me tally the things I have to be grateful for despite this morning's clumsy little SNAFU:
  • Most of my data is backed up 'cause I did a backup just a few days ago.
  • Most of the un-backed up data is stuff I can either download again or pull off my Gmail, Google Notebook or some other web-based entity (thank you, sangsara, for introducing me to Google Notebook last week).
  • Lucian showed me this video (warning: geeky font humour) to make me laugh and feel better.
  • The person I'm meeting for lunch kindly rescheduled it to an earlier time, so that I can meet her, then take the Macbook in to get fixed, stat.
  • I still have the iBook, which still works well enough for what I need, so I'm not totally computer-less while the Macbook is in the shop.
I really hope I can retrieve that 4,000 word document.

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Pure heaven

I really like the "taste" of ice-cold water, but it tastes even better after a cup of rich black coffee.

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Wordiness: grawlix

I didn't know I didn't know this word, till I came across this question:
"What does one call the use of random non-alphabet characters to indicate cursing?"
You know: *^!*@&#^(^$#@(*(*@$(#^*$

The answer: "grawlix", and it dates back to 1964. See the full explanation at Ask H&FJ.

(Via Swissmiss.)



Miles to go before I ...

Sisu mid-yawn

Jude asked me today how work was going, to which I said:
  • I need to power through certain projects by end-September,
  • so that I can start on that Really Cool Writing Gig (more information akan datang),
  • which involves more intense research and writing,
  • and that takes me all the way into 2009.
Then I said: "I feel tired thinking about it."

Maybe this is why mornings are getting harder.


Mornings are getting harder

11 o'clock

So far this week, I have:
  • Poured un-boiled water onto coffee grounds.
  • Poured boiling water into an empty coffeemaker.
  • Forgotten to eat breakfast, resulting in a forlorn and overripe banana that had to be cast into the trash yesterday.
I'm not overworked at the moment, so I'm not sure where all this un-wakefulness is coming from ...

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Government websites: the good, the bad and the ugly

The good

I needed to start looking at some 2009 dates for work, which entailed knowing when certain public holidays are, so I took myself over to the Ministry of Manpower website. As always, they faithfully list the public holidays for the following year, but now they've gone one better and provided the dates in an iCal format.

So all I had to do was download the iCal file and let Google Calendar import it. Easy-peasy. Importing information from the web into real life should always be this easy.

The bad

Okay, first off, let's make things clear: I like the library. I love books, and books live in the library where people can borrow many interesting ones for free, so I love the library. You don't have to make me go there or want to use it or want to like it. I'm sold. Tell me that I can access library materials or services online, and I'm thrilled that it saves me a trip down to the physical location.

(See how many times I used italics in that paragraph?)

That said, what the hell has happened to the National Library website? Or websites, I should say, because where before http://www.nlb.gov.sg served all library needs in one place, they recently decided to split their web presence into three domains:
  • http://nl.sg --- the National Library
  • http://pl.sg --- the public library
  • http://nlb.gov.sg --- the rest?
To which I'm like, we're a nation-state, isn't our National Library already a public library? And where do I go to find what information? And why the hell do the sites take so damn long to load if the web assets have been divided up? And why the hell aren't any links, including "Contact info", working? (That last complaint occurred yesterday on pl.sg; within a couple of hours they emailed me to say that the links were working again.)

To quote from my email to the helpdesk yesterday:
I don't know what else doesn't work, but I'm tired of trying to find anything on this website. I miss the old NLB website. It wasn't perfect, but it wasn't as frustrating and impossible as the new ones.
I can only conclude that they're trying to be deliberately inefficient and, as I said to a web-savvy friend over IM:
maybe their secret plan
is to frustrate people
so we HAVE to go to the brick and mortar library
The ugly

Uh ... take your pick. Most government websites give me eye pain.

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Yan Yan teaches you English

When I first started eating Yan Yan in the '80s, they came in two flavours --- chocolate or strawberry (feel free to say that in a "Okay Pocky" voice) --- and the biscuit sticks were plain and unadorned.

Now the biscuit sticks try to teach you English.

Yan Yan teaches you English

More accurately, they try to teach word association in English. This is what the sticks say (the animal name is on the top end of the stick, the rest of the words on the lower half):
  • Bat --- Only in the night
  • Stag beetle --- Love it
  • Rhinoceros --- Think big
  • Elephant --- Jumbo
  • Cow --- Muuuuu
  • Frog --- Amphibian
  • Rabbit --- Eat more carrots
  • Owl --- Active at night
  • Panda --- Go for more
  • Sheep --- Wool sweaters
Now what I want to know is: who gets to be the copywriter for the Yan Yan sticks, and where can I sign up?

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Of ethics and the law

Ah, our lovely Singapore government. They won't decriminalise gay sex, but they haven't ruled out legalising organ trading.



Ask and ye shall receive

panaphobic asked for some cat pictures to alleviate her cat deprivation. Here you go (of Sisu, because Ink's over-exposed):


Watching ...

Sisu looks like an Ewok

Ewoking ...

These paws conceal fearsome claws




I wake up early only on special occasions

The light was just right

Like making plans with Wahj to go take pictures at the Botanic Gardens, a plan we hatched after I casually mentioned that I hadn't really been to the Gardens since they were spruced up a few years ago.

The only other park where I've spent a fair amount of time recently is East Coast Park, and the main advantage the Botanic Gardens has over that --- or just about any other park in Singapore --- is that it's set back and away from roads and traffic, and prohibits cycling or rollerblading. All of which makes for a very pleasant and peaceful stroll, in that most English sense of the word.

I have learned two things about my propensity (or lack thereof) for taking pictures of "nature":
  • Still-life portraits in natural settings don't really excite me.
  • I keep seeing things as desktop backgrounds.
Way up high

(There's more in the Flickr photo set.)



These are not the birth rates you're looking for

The next time someone tries to convince me that the Baby Bonus and financial incentives are the way to get the population numbers back up to replacement level, I'm going to point them to what happened in Ulyanossk, Russia.

Giving parents US$11,000 for having a second child on Russia Day (June 12) worked real well, didn't it?

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Weird things that happened this week


Around lunchtime, I got a call from a private number. The woman who was calling asked me for my name and whether I'd called her. I hadn't --- I hadn't called anyone that morning --- but it emerged that she had received a mysterious phone call from my number about an hour ago, during which a man, er, didn't say anything. (I surmise some heavy breathing might've been involved.)

As I told her politely but firmly: I live alone, I'd been alone at home all morning, no one else had touched my phone and I certainly hadn't used it to call her. She read out the mobile number to me and it was my number, which then creeped me out because I was wondering how someone could prank-call her but somehow leave my number behind.

Fortunately for me, the woman accepted my explanation and there were no further weird calls (at least, not on my end) for the rest of the day. I'm still wondering how my mobile number wound up on her caller ID, though ...


A work meeting got cancelled, leaving me with several hours free. I mean, I could've done some other work, but instead I decided to clean house.

Me --- choosing to clean house over, well, anything else? Very weird. I'm still not sure what possessed me.


Today, I was making bacon and eggs for lunch. The bacon was no problem, but the first egg that I cracked into the pan --- well, let's just say that instead of a transparent goo coalescing into the familiar bubbliness of egg white, what I got instead was a very strange smell and a rather black substance in the middle of my pan.

Was it the smell of a rotten egg? I honestly don't know. It was odd, but it didn't make me feel ill or anything. Although I hastily scraped the semi-cooked black goo out of the pan, stat, and poured boiling water over the pan to, er, sanitize it (at least in my mind).

Fortunately, I had one other good egg left, so I could still have bacon and (an) egg. What would've been irredeemable is if the good egg had gone into the pan and the bad egg had gone in on top of it.



I am a kaypoh auntie

A minor road accident (turning car vs. oncoming motorcycle) just occurred at the intersection immediately in front of the block where I live, and like a good kaypoh (busybody) auntie, I first cracked open the window louvres, then half-opened the front door to see what was going on.

Then when I saw what it was and my curiosity was sufficiently sated, I closed the door and went about my business.

Telltale signs of a road accident in my neighbourhood: the unexpected crash sound (today, accompanied by a mild but startled scream), followed by the resumption of traffic noises at a muted level, because I live on a not-so-wide road and if the accident takes up even one lane, everyone has to slow down to pass (and stare, of course).




It's entirely possible that I'm white.



Of governments and new technologies

I know I said I was going to write a proper blog entry soon, not just toss out links, but I couldn't pass up on the comparison which leapt out at me while I was reading this morning's news.

The UK government's idea of harnessing new technologies: Make public a wide array of government statistics for the Show Us A Better Way competition, where anyone can suggest new ways of using that data to make people's lives better. It hopes to attract everyone from the tech industry to "hardcore coders to adolescents in their bedroom". BBC News even calls it "data mash-up" in the article headline.

The Singapore government's idea of harnessing new technologies: Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports Dr Vivian Balakrishnan is quoted on Channel NewsAsia as saying:
I think we will get into the 'YouTube' style of politics, which means it's multimedia. It's no longer enough to just talk, you must have moving images, you must have sound, you must have music. And if it makes an impact, you will get millions of hits. And if it's true but boring, without multimedia, then no one's going to watch it.
Also, as quoted in the Straits Times:
Because you think you are not revealing yourself, a lot of people on the Internet engage in what I call virtual shouting. They want to gain attention and the best way ... is to say something crazy, outrageous, scandalous, maybe even defamatory.
Uh. Yeah. So one is releasing information out there in the hope of getting something good back in return, while the other is still concerned with the Sisyphean task of outshouting the crazies.

As a tax-paying citizen, I certainly know which project I'd rather my government be working on.

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Get your geek on

Cast out

Monday's links were about reading, today's are more tech-inclined:
I promise that my next blog post will be an actual blog post and not just a linkdump.

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