Telling it like it is (or not)

Channel NewsAsia's version: DPM Lee apologises publicly over Buangkok station controversy

The Straits Times' version: Buangkok station may open in three years

CNA reports the apology in para 1, with details in para 9. ST first refers to it in paras 12-13, with a quote in para 16.

Interesting, don't you think?

A Queer Girl's Top 10 Gay Myths

Just food for thought to keep you busy till I actually have the time to write the review of the musical. (Notice how often I keep referring to it. I'm hoping this actually makes me guilty enough about not writing it for my mythical audience that may, in fact, not exist.)

From AlterNet.org, an excellent alternative site for the news that matters: A Queer Girl's Top 10 Gay Myths. I particularly like 1-5 and 10.

Okay, so I have difficulty choosing.

Stranger things have happened

I'm really enjoying the soundtrack to The Wedding Banquet --- The Musical right now. It's got only five songs from the full libretto and I can hear the flaws, but forget all that: it's really kept me in a peppy musical mood all day. It's also made me nostalgic for Rent but I can't find my CDs right now, so The Wedding Banquet it is.

I'm planning to write a proper review of it, just as a writing exercise, but that might take a while. Watch this space.

Meanwhile, go watch it. I had a blast, flaws and all. Not everything has to be perfect to be enjoyed.


The Witching Hour

It's almost midnight and I just closed my work-email Inbox. *sigh* It's been one of those days. If not for the 2½-hour meeting this morning, another 3-hour one in the afternoon, and the fact that I'm on course all tomorrow and going out tomorrow night (rendering me offline practically all day), I wouldn't've had to stay up to finish this work tonight. But such is my life.

Tomorrow, I'll see The Wedding Banquet --- The Musical. Loved the movie, haven't read any reviews of the musical yet, since I spent about $100 on the ticket and can't bear to know ahead of time whether it's rocked or sucked. Just tried to find a website for it, only to have Google inform me that Yahoo News and Channel News Asia both reported that the musical producers had practiced self-censorship in the interests of not offending the audience (or TPTB*?) with too much actual portrayal of, you know, a gay relationship.

Argh. I overshot the time. This will be posted on 27 August instead of 26 August. Ah well.

I might as well take the time to note that it suddenly stormed like hell this evening at some point after 10 pm, only to taper off into, well, nothing about half an hour ago. I'm a little disappointed with these paltry thunderstorms. Not much fear-of-god stuff going on out there, guys!

TPTB = The Powers That Be. Fuller definition here.


The Curse of the Pilsener Glasses

There is one, you know. It haunts our kitchen cabinet --- the centre cabinet, with the glass doors. There were six pilsener glasses, to begin with. I bought them on sale at Tangs. They were utilitarian, yet with a faintly sensuous curve that suggested there was more to them than being mere storers of water. They weren't too tall, yet weren't so dainty that they would have to be refilled with every mouthful. They were the first set of glasses we had that I purchased.*

Then I broke one. I was washing two in the sink last week, after we'd had our occasional bedtime glasses of milk, and the one under the tap tipped over from the water rushing into it. Before my brain could even register that I should catch it --- or maybe my fingers were reorienting themselves to catch it, but they failed --- anyway, it smashed. Gloriously. Loudly. My echo, a curt, "Shit!"

Fortunately, it broke into large shards that made it easier to clean up. Even more fortunately, it didn't smash the other glass that was also being washed. I thought it was a good thing that it broke in the sink (again: easier to clean up), but last Saturday T apparently cut his foot on a lurking shard, so maybe not so much.

So then there were five.

Tonight, there are four. I was filling one with water after I got home, and I remember thinking, "It's filling up nicely, we'll just tip the bottle back in a minute when the glass is full..." Somewhere between the end of that thought-dangle, the bottle slipped in my hand, chipping off the side of the glass and pretty much taking off the entire top one-third of it. Water sloshed over the glass's new rim, pooling around the fragments and the stout base. And again: "Shit."

I think I got all the fragments this time and I wiped down the kitchen counter pretty good, expecting to find my hands shredded by glass slivers at any minute --- I wouldn't know I was cut, see, because you know, you get cut, it takes a good few seconds before the sensation of pain kicks in and you realize you're actually bleeding all over the place.

I'm just waiting to see where the curse strikes next.

* The wineglasses were a present; our shot glasses were mostly acquired before we got married or even knew each other. These pilsener glasses were our first glasses.


Somewhat surprisingly, in the time we've had this kitchen, I've nicked my finger on a knife but never sliced it open with any real drama. (Of course, now that I've said this, I've jinxed myself.) But this one time, in college, when I was living in the dorm, I managed to slice my middle finger open with a chef's knife, like with a wee flap of skin hanging off and all that. Surprisingly, I did not cry. I somehow held skin together, rinsed it under the water, and taped it over with a Band-aid (errrrr, the generic kind).

When it was still bleeding the next day, I crossed the street to go to University Health and presented my sliced finger to the doctor (or it might have been a nurse practitioner). She said it was too late to stitch it up, seeing as a whole day had passed, and promptly gave me painkillers instead. ASPIRIN. In a little brown bag. They gave me aspirin when my finger was sore and bleeding. I'm surprised I've still got it, wee scar and all. It's funny how a huge gaping cut will turn into a miniscule scar less than ten years later.


I wanted to talk about the cat that lives by the walkway from my estate to the MRT* station, but I'm a little too wiped now. That's what watching episodes of Boomtown (featuring Joel-angst) and ER (starring the Night when No Lives Were Lost) back-to-back will do to you.

I bought Naomi Wolf's The Beauty Myth today. It was an impulse buy, in that I was at Borders, and then I realized I had a wee bit of extra cash this week, and The Beauty Myth fell neatly into my budget. I don't exactly have a sterling feminist section in our home library, but I'm trying to pick up all the classics when I can.

One of my friends asked me today what I write in my blog. He thinks they're written by people who wear their hearts on their sleeves. If I do fall into that category, I think it's because so much of my (work)day is spent squishing my heart into a Civil Service-shaped cubicle.

Oh, another friend is egging me on to jot down anecdotes about Civil Service life, so that I can write a witty book when I leave. It's an intriguing proposition, but may take more discipline than I possess. It may also require me to engage far more legal counsel in the long run.

At this point, I'm out of thoughts. Goodnight!

*MRT = Mass Rapid Transit = subway


Not about me

Well, not specifically about me.

I don't feel particularly inspired to write about my own life, so I'll write instead about what I've been reading.

Offline reading: The Stone of Farewell, Tad Williams
Yes, I finally finished The Dragonbone Chair (it really whisks you to the end, that one) and am on to the second book. What I like about this one is that even though the action is going on in about five different places (also achieved in other great fantasy books like The Lord of the Rings), you don't feel like you're leaping about. It reads logically that in one chapter you're with Miriamele in Perdruin and the next with Simon and Binabik in Yiqanuc. I like.

Online reading:

Whatever, by John Scalzi: Encouraging Independent Thought Since 1998. If I stuck to updating my Thoughts website, maybe I could have a tagline like that too. Not to be outdone, Scalzi's also got an AOLjournal going: By The Way. It's my dream --- he gets paid to blog!

Tomato Nation has been entertaining me for several years now and Sars still rocks my world. (Yes, she goes by "Sars" online; she was around before the virus, okay?)

Then there's Wil Wheaton dot Net, which I read today because we just watched ST:Nemesis on DVD, but which is good to read any day. He's such a nice boy, you know?

That's all for now. I must sleep. Big day tomorrow. I sense a great disturbance in the Civil Service infrastructure in which I work.


50,000 words

I was at a conference today, and a speaker said: "The average civil servant in the UK has a vocabulary of 50,000 words. The average citizen he serves --- or Sun-reader, as we like to call them [heh]--- has a vocabulary of 5,000 words."

As it turned out, at least two of the conference attendees, despite their ostensibly 50,000-word vocabulary, could not:

a) understand a simply analogy for the filtration/reverse osmosis process for NEWater that the allegedly 5,000-word-vocabulary citizens had no trouble absorbing during the NEWater publicity campaign last year; or

b) overcome the ick factor when uttering "sterilised waste" during the Q&A session. That's one guy who's not gonna touch NEWater anytime soon.

I don't see what all the fuss about NEWater is about. I'm just amazed that it's possible to make water even more tasteless than it already is --- more like fake water, believe it or not.

I wonder what my vocabulary is. 50,000 sounds like an awful lot of words, but I guess it really isn't if you get down to counting every single last one of them. I should have a decent-sized vocabulary because based on the results of a casual but largely by-the-book IQ test we took for fun at dinner last night (this is what happens when we're at dinner with a professional educational psychologist), my nonverbal IQ is pretty average. Hence our professional educational psychologist friend speculates that I'd score pretty high on a verbal IQ test. The question now becomes: do I dare take such a test, or is the shock and terror of scoring only average on a nonverbal test already too much for my ego to bear?


ICQ has started appending mini-banner ads to the bottom of its message dialog boxes. How annoying.


I really don't know what to say

I created a new entry in my PDA Address Book today: Death anniversary.

My friend Eugene passed away last Saturday. I found out today, when my mom called to say the obituary was in the local paper (he'd been living in another country). I really don't know what to say.

Facts are paltry: cancer, five years, a daughter the same age.

I pondered as I walked out to lunch and back --- alone, not by design, but simply because everyone else had other lunch plans. I still don't know what to say, except maybe to tell his little girl that her father was a good man and a good friend when I needed one, and the world is a quieter, duller place without him.


Chickenshit, cowardly, lily-livered whinebags

Parents feel pinch of enrichment courses -- Today Online

Apparently, the current standard of local journalism condones an investigative report that carries four comments by two anonymous members of the public, including the original (and loudest) complainant, and only one by a person who consented to be named. Admittedly, the named person gave a positive comment, while the other two were, well, complaining. But if you think something is important enough to warrant a national newspaper's attention, shouldn't you at least be gutsy enough to stick your name to it? More importantly, if you're a national newspaper, shouldn't you have reliable named sources rather than run the equivalent of hearsay?

Plus I have my suspicions that the two anonymous sources are really the same one. But that's just my instinct (or maybe crabbiness).

Good thing it's a free newspaper.

Just for the record...

I'd just gotten into bed, then got up to blog. See? I am determined to make this work.

I did want to post the previous entry on the actual day I wrote it see, rather than have to explain all about how I forgot to post it and how I'm posting it three days late or whatever. Of course, now I think T's a little annoyed with me because I came into the computer room just as he was heading to bed.

I learned tonight that there's nothing like watching a little solid West Wing action to perk up one's Monday. Especially when it's a hardcore episode like "The Shadow of Two Gunmen".

7:35 pm

Today was the day of trying to leave work and being repeatedly delayed.

First there was the email telling me my first draft wasn't good enough. That sucked, because I'd thought I'd done a good draft.

Then there was Lotus Notes crashing my email for the fourth time today --- this was at 6:20pm, by the way --- just when my email was perfectly composed. Every time Notes freaks out, I have to reboot, which takes at least 5 minutes, what with the entering of passwords and automatic launching of software crap and all.

Oh, and of course when I actually finished my work and wanted to shut down the computer, I wound up rebooting it instead. BECAUSE THAT'S WHAT I'VE HAD TO DO TO IT ALL DAY.

Then I helped my colleague proofread something that had been translated from Chinese to English. I learned that while I recognise the Chinese characters for "donation", I have zero recollection as to how to pronounce them.

Finally, I left the office, left the building, got to the train station --- and promptly ran into my ex-classmate Lian. She's having the ex-classmate karma, because she ran into another of our ex-classmates just yesterday. We were really good friends in school and even traded old-fashioned snailmail all the way through college, but sometimes it's harder to keep in touch when in the same country. She's been at her current job a year and I didn't even know she'd switched jobs. She lives near where I work, but this is the first time we've run into each other.

But eventually, I got to my train and now I'm on my way home.

Composed on my Clie at 7:35pm --- because my Clie isn't high-tech enough to be all wi-fi and Bluetoothed and shit.


Lazy Sunday

I think being online for 4½ hours at one go is a pretty good definition of a Lazy Sunday, don't you?

Anyway, I just wasted some time laughing at some of the funniest banner ads about TV shows: TWoP Pixel Challenge #59: Banner Ads We'd Like To See

TWoP is an awesome website, if you've got a skin thick enough to bear the snark. And some of those banner ads are just priceless.

The apartment's wind tunnel is no more. I shut the window here in the computer room because I was starting to smell the incense and paper that people are burning for the Seventh Moon. I'd rather have no wind than a layer of soot on my floor.

We're celebrating the end of the Tan-Oehlers' scholarship bonds today. Technically, the bonds ended several weeks ago, but we only got round to making dinner plans for tonight. If you didn't know already, keep your calendars free for July 14, 2005, when I'm going to have my end-of-bond bash. I can't wait!!

Windy City

I just had to add how windy it's been with all the rain we're having. Last night, we had only one window open and it admitted plenty of welcome circulation (and not too much rain-spatter). Today we've got more windows open, and every now and then the wind really whips itself up through the little wind tunnel we've got going through our apartment. I had to start putting heavy items on our little bits and pieces of paper (courtesy T's habit of leaving receipts wherever he goes, like a breadcrumb trail) to make sure nothing was inadvertently blown out the window.

The downside to this is that the Seventh Moon ge tai* cacophony has gotten started downstairs. If I want to enjoy the wind, I gotta put up with the noise. Last night, I watched Spirited Away to the soundtrack of the ge tai.

Sigh. Only in Singapore, dammit.

* Ge tai is this Singapore Chinese Seventh Moon (i.e. of the Lunar calendar, not necessarily in July) tradition, where makeshift stages are set up in housing estates, and they run auctions of stuff that you can burn for your ancestors, and along the way there's a lot of noise and sometimes sleazy performances of singing and dancing too. I don't get it at all. I don't even know who sets up these auctions/performances. It's for the ghosts, but T assures me it's run by human beings for a tidy profit.

Blackout blank out bedroom light still out

Colin Goh ponders: How I learnt to stop worrying and love the blackout*

So I have to admit that the magnitude of the East Coast blackout didn't really hit me till I read this piece. For one thing, I haven't been in a blackout in years. The last time I was in a blackout, it was in the US and I had to write my journal (yeah, I was an old-school journaller then) by candlelight, which gave me a whole new perspective on how people functioned after dark in pre-electricity days. The time before that when I was in a blackout, I'm pretty sure I was still a kid, which means my ever-efficient mom simply whipped out the candles and the torchlights and no alarm needed to be raised.

Of course, when I was a kid, we didn't exactly have terrorists lurking on our doorstep, either. That's one perspective that, I'll admit, completely eluded me when I heard about the East Coast blackouts a couple of days ago --- which explainins why initial reaction was, "Eh. Blackout. Big deal. What else is on?"

My husband and I did have to find out way around the apartment in the dark last weekend though, when our bedroom light gave up the ghost and decided to trip the fuse along with it (see the entry for August 10, since I haven't figured out how to link to previous blog entries yet). That's when we realized that should the lights fizzle out again, we have no idea where our torchlights or matches are. We'd have some scented candles and a rusty cigarette lighter, but that's about it.

Oh, and the bedroom light? We still haven't replaced it yet.

*The link is valid only for 7 days from today, thanks to the Straits Times' unfriendly archive-access policies, so don't try reading it after that.


It's almost 5 pm!

Can you sense my jubilation?

Of course, I'm working tomorrow (Saturday), which is why I'm entitled to go off at 5 pm. To those of you to whom that sounds like unfair working conditions, remember that we keep 5½ day weeks where I work.

It has been an unexciting couple of days, hence the lack of blogging. Of course, most of Singapore is in a tizzy over the murder at the local university that I blogged about last time, but I prefer not to read that kind of news. Bad enough it happened; the media frenzy is just --- ugh. One of the Chinese language tabloids devoted six pages of their coverage to it. The poor family.

/bitch on
Someone just yelled to ask what our office fax number is. I don't blame the person for forgetting, 'cause sometimes I blank out on the most basic of information --- the other night, I couldn't remember how old my dad was and had to painstakingly count the years --- but do you have to yell to ask the entire office?

/bitch off

5:05 pm! I'm outta here.


Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the water...

NUS lecturer dies after he was slashed in the neck during a staff meeting

Let's just say this isn't the sort of news that usually graces our local news pages/websites. It's more the sort of headline we might see under Foreign News and then snicker about, because it's the sort of thing crazy foreigners do. It would never happen here.

We'll never be able to say that again.

At a loose end

We were supposed to have our regular department meeting today, but an hour before the scheduled meeting time, an email came around, postponing it to tomorrow.

This leaves me at an unexpected loss. I mean, I had work to do, but I was ready to put it aside for the meeting (which was liable to take all afternoon). So now I can do my work, but I'm not mentally prepared for that; what I'm mentally prepared for is a long, dry, dismal meeting where I exchange droll glances with fellow longsuffering colleagues. I even dressed for the meeting: the meeting room is always too cold, so I wear pants on meeting days, rarely a skirt. Now I've got to go through the whole preparatory process tomorrow again.

Help! I've become a sad, suckered civil servant.


Tuesday's child is full of grace

See, today wasn't so bad:
-*- The phone didn't ring itself off the hook all morning.
-*- The presentation that I dreaded went off less dismally than I feared.
-*- The person in charge of the presentation session was cool and thanked me, despite my having spoken way too fast for non-native English speakers to keep up with what I was saying.
-*- I got to bitch over lunch about the usual assortment of Things That Aren't Going Right At Work. That's always therapeutic.
-*- My two meetings went excellently, not least because I was (power trip alert!) more or less in charge of running them.
-*- I got a ride home with a friend, which always beats having to take the train.

Dude, I am such a list person.


I. Hate. Mondays.

So let me try this post again.

I hate Mondays. Everyone always wants a piece out of you. The phone doesn't stop ringing. You never have enough time to do all the things that you remembered over the weekend that you needed to do. Worst of all: the rest of the week still looms before you.

I mean, last week, I was out of the office the first two days and didn't check email till I got to work on Wednesday, and even with that buildup, it was still better than today's Monday.

On top of the usual Monday hellishness, of course, it turned out later in the afternoon that I'd forgotten to do a Very Small but Very Important Thing since August 1 --- actually, since July 1. It has to do with managing an email list --- something I'd remember I was in charge of if I actually had a note reminding me I was the Administrator à la a Yahoogroup or even those old-fashioned listservs I managed while in college --- but anyway, the point is that I didn't realize I was the adminstrator, and then my boss asked who was supposed to do it, and of course it was me, and then I think he could've been pretty mad, but I couldn't read him at that moment, even after I fixed my mistake, and maybe he realized from my utterly bewildered expression and absolute contrition that I had made an honest mistake ---

So what I was meaning to say is that I screwed up at work and it's going to take me a whole SARS crisis to chalk up enough brownie points to be able to tease my boss again about how much work I do for him.

I have to give a presentation tomorrow, introducing our education system to some foreign visitors. I hate doing it because I speak too fast, then I worry that the visitors won't understand me, and along the way I pretty much get bored out of my skull with actually delivering the presentation --- so all in all, it's not my best show. I was going to brush up on the presentation contents tonight, but I decided procrastination, blogging and Boomtown were more fun instead, so I'll probably steal half an hour out tomorrow morning to swot up.

The best part about growing up in a former British colony and then going to school in the US of A, is that you get the best of both worlds where funky slang is concerned. How often otherwise do you get to say 'swot up', eh? *

* And that's the Canadian coming out.

Currently Reading: Tad Williams, The Dragonbone Chair

Computer Rebellion

It would help if, when I were trying to blog, if my computer would not crash in the midst of my doing so.


What I wouldn't give for a little Evanstonian windchill right now

That's my way of telling you how bloody hot it's been in Singapore today. In fact, I don't think I ever used the phrase 'bloody hot' so much till I moved back here from more temperate climes.

In other news, our bedroom lightbulb has given up the ghost. Its demise was heralded by all lights going out in the apartment last night --- though strangely enough, all the power points were intact, so the only light we had for a bit was the glow of my computer monitor. We procrastinated buying a new bulb today, so this means we can't read in bed until we get a new one. Anyone want to take bets on how long this will take us? I'm guessing at least a week. We excel at procrastination, we two.

Of course, while keeping track of household essentials can be procrastinated, T absolutely had to rent the Band of Brothers DVDs once he spotted them in the store today. I talked him down to just half the season, instead of a full set, since we only get to keep the DVDs for a week --- but I think I underestimated his capacity to enjoy nonstop faux military footage. He's still overdosing on it now as we speak. I predict I'll be hearing machine gun rattle from my TV set all week.


Iguy rocks

... Because now my blog is published at my own domain name, which is really where it should be. Woo!

National Day is, in fact, over

To clarify, as it's now after midnight, today (August 10) is not National Day. August 9 is National Day. By the time I was done writing that post and configuring the publishing settings for my blog, it was August 10. Funny how a matter of tiny tick-tocks can push an entry over the edge.

National Day

I just felt I ought to reflect the fact that it's National Day somewhere in my blog. I can't own up to doing anything particularly National today. We were supposed to go watch the fireworks with T's cousin and some friends, but we begged off on account of our lingering hangovers.

That turned out to be a good thing, because my Canadian cousin Sam called after she was done at the National Day parade (she's in the country only once every couple of years and what's one of the first things she does --- attend the bloody parade) and we had a late dinner at Le Viet at Siglap, and Sam and her friend hung out here for a while, mostly to satiate their Internet withdrawal symptoms. She also said flattering things about T's photos and borrowed two of my books, and we made plans for dinner next week.

Sam is awesome. We were born in the same year, but eight months apart (i.e. her mom was just getting started on her pregnancy when my mom had me). We've lived in separate countries most of our lives, but there's still this cousinly click every time we get together, which is great. She's way cooler than me, though.

I watched bits of the parade today, just the parts where the marching contingents marched into the stadium, did their fancy drill stuff, had the guard-of-honour inspection for the President, and then marched out again. It wasn't as zesty as in the old days (i.e. the 1980s) when there were like fifty contingents involved and they marched in to traditional martial tunes. This year, the contingents actually sang along to some ditty as they entered. Where's the dignity?


I threw up in a drain at Chinatown

Those of you who've only been out drinking with me since 1999 or so will scoff merrily at this, but it used to be that I could knock back a good 5, 6 drinks a night without having to worry about it, and it took something like 10 to put me into hangover mode.

Last night, I had 2 beers and spicy Turkish food, and after 10 minutes in a crowded little bar, I had hurtled down the stairs to ready myself for the inevitable upchuck into the nearest drain. On the bright side, I have dear friends who held my hair back to keep it out of the upchuck and offered me tissue and water afterwards (T was off getting the car).

I suppose I should've known better than to indulge in spicy food so quickly after the beer, but it was very good spicy Turkish food. If you're ever in the Tanjong Pagar area, check out Efem. Nice people, good food, decent prices. My British friends swears they're the best in Singapore (he's my only authoritative source since Turkish food is a lot more common in the UK than it is here).

I'm a weak-minded fool and you're all sly, crafty old rats

Blame it on peer pressure. Blame it on all the pro-blog hype going around. Blame it on the fact that it's a (relatively) slow day at work.

I, too, have a blog. Not just a web journal (i.e. each file tediously formatted and uploaded the old-fashioned HTML way). Not just a LiveJournal (I still keep the account, but I use it mostly to read my friends' pages). A blog, veritably a blog, and hosted at blogspot to boot.

It remains to be seen whether this allegedly addictive pastime will take root. In the meantime, let's all do our part to contribute to Singapore's evolving pop culture. Use sly crafty old rat in a sentence today!