We finally got us a new fan! We don't have to open the windows anymore! Most important, as my friend eloquently put it, we don't have to turn into puddles while watching TV anymore!

And to think I only had to badger T for three weeks to get it done.


Jottings during the course I attended yesterday

9:02 am
People are funny creatures. They attend a two-day course and predictably plant themselves at exactly the same seats.

Okay, I could say people were boring, but it's early and I'm being charitable.

2:27 pm
Even funnier are people who have to sit in the front row, laugh loudly at all the presenter's jokes and raise self-referential/parochial questions all the time.

And then there are those who get impatient with the presenter when he doesn't understand their question, when they're asking a poorly phrased question about something he already explained before lunch.

3:22 pm
And then there are the people who have no critical acumen and want to accept everything the trainer says, so when he says something they disagree with, they have to nitpick about it rather than simply accept it as a different point of view.

How can someone be a web developer and not know intuitively why it's important to indicate copyright information on his website??


Updated my journal archiving function from monthly to weekly.

While I indeed have too many thoughts tonight, they are all random, stray flitterings of the mind that really ought to be nailed down and whipped into submission (i.e. formulated into more thoughtful and extended meditations on the meaning of life) rather than jotted down here. A blog is not a blotter.

Or at least, I can't let it be one right now. Otherwise I'll never have any discipline.

Mr Brown and Colin Goh are both employed as columnists by mainstream English media now. I just know that if I had kept my act together with The Gripe, and maybe not taken the position that I'm in right now, that I would be next to get a paying columnist's gig.

Less regrets. More real writing.


Apple Season!

Play Orisinal.com - Apple Season and go blind, just like me. Scalzi calls it "a game that showed the true status of one's hand-eye coordination" and he's pretty much right because I suck at it. My initial score? Of 100 apples, I only caught 47.

Knock yourself out.

"I'll admit as a working writer there is some pleasure in having internalized most of the arcane details of English grammar and usage; it's like being part of an exclusive and slightly anal secret society."

Scalzi, as usual, says it better than I could've.

Portrait IIb

Another picture by T, taken at the same time as the previous one. It's got a little more color, but just as little details of me.

I just realised I did a whole load of laundry (including drying) WITHOUT DETERGENT.


Montykins: Uninformed Political Opinion

A quick guide to all the potential Democrat candidates, as at September 19, 2003. At least Monty bothered to peruse all their websites. I only have secondhand information (i.e. the media) to keep up with the race and admittedly, I tend to read more leftist pieces in Salon or Wired.

A review of the latest Collected Poems by Robert Lowell that makes me want to go home and read Notebook all over again.

It also makes me despair of ever being a credible writer. I mean, I got tired reading that review...

Portrait II

T's latest picture of me. Warning: it's abstract, possibly because it was taken after he'd had two beers, I'd had one, and we both needed to pee.

Reflections on watching the news this morning

  • Philip Mah is pretty hot, even when he's not in his police uniform.

  • I don't know who packaged the stock footage for the news report on Microsoft shutting down all its chatrooms, but I'm sure Microsoft is delighted that they chose to use footage of a computer user navigating his way around Windows 3.1 and close-ups of 3½" floppy disk drives.

  • Philip Mah looks hot even when he's speaking Mandarin.

  • Footage of the Environment Ministry/National Environment Agency press conference looks like they cornered the Minister in a building circa 1970, even though I'm sure they organised a proper press conference for it.

  • Singapore's Brainiest Kid sounds like an ACS boy when he's speaking Chinese, thus healthily perpetuating the local stereotype that brainy kids do well in everything except Chinese.


Calling Clifford Cheam

Dear Clifford aka Cheam Doc Cow,

It was nice of you to make an appearance in my dream last night, but could you do me a favour and not be so flirty and arrogant the next time? Also, it's already somewhat problematic that your name partially alliterates, but it doesn't help when your receptionist calls me on my work cellphone to ask me to call "Cheam Doc Cow". Seriously.

In fact, best if you skip the dream appearance altogether. I actually prefer to have a restful night's sleep rather than wake up wondering who the hell Clifford Cheam is and why I was at a party that ended with a mini-tornado whipping through the house and decapitating a lovely tall tree in the garden.

Yu Mei


Damn you, Mickey D's!

It is very disturbing to find yourself with the jingle to the new McD's I'm Lovin' It advertising campaign going round and round in your head. It's even more disturbing considering the fact that I loathe the campaign, save for the cute old Japanese man bopping on the sidewalk in front of two sceptical youngsters. Hee!

Scrawled in my notepad during an MRT ride between Woodlands and Novena stations

At 6 pm today I sent my husband the following SMS: Stuck. On a tracin from Woodlands. With no book, no Clie. Help!

I wanted to say "I'm fucked", but I couldn't be bothered to re-teach my Nokia how to spell "fucked".

Then I took out the notepad that I mercifully had with me and jotted this down. Then, even more mercifully, I got a seat as we were pulling up to the next station (Admiralty, I think). Only 21 stations to go before I get home. Woo.

I have no book and no Clie because I left them in the office. I left them in the office because I was thinking I'd go back for them (and work) after I was done at Woodlands. I was thinking I'd go back for them because ... Well, my brain must really not have been operating today --- stress from not knowing how to make conversation with PS all the way to Woodlands! --- because I didn't realise till we'd left the office that our appointment probably wouldn't end early enough for me to go back for my stuff and that I would go straight home from Woodlands.

For those of you non-Singaporeans reading this, all you need to know is that Woodlands is very far from where I live.

Now that I've found this notepad, at least I have something to do.

Today, I heard my Ultimate Boss extol the virtues of what kids learn from playing with Pokemon cards. Before today, I wouldn't even have expected him to use the work Pokemon in a work-related context, let alone delve into the intricacies of card swapping/trading/sales. Will wonders never cease.

On the flip side, last night I witnessed a musical tribute to St John Baptist De La Salle. There were six songs, mostly in the key of Alternative Pain and Whining, with an oddly Disneyesque number in the middle (the part where the townspeople were making fun of De La Salle, I think). I could feel JBDLS flipping over in his grave like a Mexican jumping bean all through the 'musical'. Good thing it was put up by primary school-aged boys; if nothing else, their age made the whole production marginally forgivable (as opposed to the laugh-out-loud angstfest of pure camp that it turned out to be).

Why shopping in Singapore doesn't pay off: They advertise a shirt at the price of "2 for $9.90" but refuse to sell single pieces, even though all the shirts on offer have visibly identical stripes and I wouldn't want to own two of the same. And they look at me funny when I want to have just one. Hello! I'm not dressing up Bert and Ernie here ...

My friend, the G-man, is going to save me! I will alight halfway home and he will pick me up, since he's going to our place fo the weekly NIE crew D&D ritual anyway. Salvation is nigh!


Between happiness and heartbreak

I had a weird dream last night. This is as ordinary as me saying "I went to bed last night", but anyway: I had a weird dream last night. A lot of it was the usual mishmash involving work, family, etc. but distinct among the images --- or at least the last swathe of images before I finally woke up --- was this newborn that had been adopted by X's Ex. In real life, X's Ex is very much single but I can totally see her taking up the single mother thing (she's one of the most independent women I've ever met). Nevertheless, because Singapore is conservative, crusty old Singapore, in the dream I remember thinking: how did she convince the adoption people to let her adopt this baby?

Anyway, in the dream, the baby looked and felt like a baby --- all soft skin, all scrunched up "Go 'way! I wanna sleep!" face --- but it also talked like a teenager, i.e. in the language of sarcasm. It was pretty surreal, even for a dream.

But the really important thing is that in the dream, I sorta picked up the baby (or maybe we were both lying down on pillows, facing each other) and hugged it, so that it's face was all smooshed up against mine. I inhaled the fragrance of its new skin, I sensed the potential of the person within that little, soft baby, I imagined the adult it would become ---

And I remember thinking: This is it. This is the moment. When you realize that having a child brings with it the sublime happiness of cradling its soft body, knowing the pure essence that lies within, dwelling in the simple beauty of holding another living thing so close to you --- and to also clearly see in that instant that the baby will grow up, grow old, grow hard, grow independent.

Grow away.

And that is why it's so difficult to have children. That's why even though I caressed a six-month-old boy's skin last Saturday, and it was beautiful, I don't have a six-month-old, a one-month-old, a any-month-old baby of my own. I am ready for the sublime happiness --- who isn't, really? --- but I can't accept the heartbreak yet.

Of course, this is twinned with the heartbreak and happiness that the child itself will feel. I think Jessica Delfino nailed it with her lullaby (link courtesy of Wilwheaton.net). But that's the next step for the parent --- after you've had a child, after you've come to terms with your own modes of disappointment and defeat, after you're ready for whatever the child flings back at you, be it sarcasm or sweetness 'n light.

And me? I'm just not there yet.



I fee l like I should blog about something, but nothing seems consequential enough to merit a blog entry. Of course, I could write a long editorial/commentary piece about something (there's always something to rant about; if nothing else, then George W.), but I'm not feeling quite energetic enough for that.

Meanwhile, as if I haven't got enough alts on my plate, I'm contemplating picking up another roster character at Threadfall MUSH. The previous alt I tried, Eimara, didn't pan out partly because the char's IC SO*'s player bailed on me, but also because I ran out of time. Now, I'm tempted again. I know KarmaBum runs a tight ship.

See? I've got nothing to post about, so I'm posting about characters that don't exist outside of bit and bytes.

The clock's ticking towards 11. I'm going to sleep!

*IC SO=In Character Significant Other, which in Eimara's case had been integral to her plot purpose.


Community events these days...

When I got home from work today, this flyer was stuck in our front door grill, for the neighborhood's Mass Cleaning Cum Community Day. As if that wasn't a weird enough title, prominently displayed on the flyer was an enticement for all residents to "participate in the Mass Cleaning Activities" with our local parliamentarian.

And they wonder why we always decline politely when they come around to sell tickets for these local events...

Nostalgia for sale

AlterNet: The Fleecing of the Alternative Nation

I know I'm as guilty as the next child-of-the-'80s for occasionally indulging in nostalgia about the TV shows and music that hummed in the cultural background of my childhood. I was just reminiscing about The A-Team the other day because the main English free-to-air channel is showing reruns on weekday afternoons now. But at least I didn't have A-Team lunchboxes and I certainly wouldn't pay $1,500 for the Eames-style dining chairs and table like the ones on That '70s Show.

I've added Svetlana Boym's The Future of Nostalgia to my growing non-fiction reading list.


Boob jokes are not okay

Boob jokes are not okay

One week after I finish reading The Beauty Myth, Ms Elisia Yeo takes up the call in a commentary in our local newspaper Today. Hooray!

If you like her commentary, email her and say encouraging things. I would, but I have to be careful with these things in my job...

Why I blog?

John Scalzi ponders the blogosphere --- and he's been at it five years!

Of course, if I had kept up with my Gripes, I could say that too. Bah.



What I look like, as at August 29, 2003. There are other pictures there too, but I picked what I thought was the most flattering/least unflattering one. Still waiting for cousin Sam to send me the final prints of what she took.

Operation Find Don

If you're living in New York or New Jersey, please help Sars to find Don.

Ten minutes of fame

Me: Where's your wife?
Friend: A body at rest --- stays at rest.



So in the middle of post-dinner coffee (or tea, rather, since I've only had coffee once since 30 June and I intend to keep my intake low), I get the following SMS: Wah, , so famous already!

And then I panic. What on earth could I be famous for? Did I get misquoted in the media? (In my job, that is always an underlying worry.)

And then it turns out that the episode of Love, Singapore Style featuring my family aired tonight. And then I got home and the friends who were over were teasing me about my baby pictures. Apparently, the episode featured many of them.

And then I watched the actual ten minutes of fame during which my family was featured in the programme and MY GOD. Considering that I couldn't make it the night my family was interviewed, my face was like in every other shot! They trotted out all the family photos (I guess, to make up for the fact that they couldn't get footage of all four of us together): me at one month, one year, eight years, fifteen years, twenty-something years, and a bunch other than that. My graduation photo was in the background of one shot; my brother's was in the background of another. My friend who came to watch my reaction asked if my family really kept that many family photos scattered around like that.

Of course, there were tons more photos of my parents --- as it should be, since they're the ostensible focus of the segment and I don't think local television is brave enough to tackle head-on the implications and repercussions of growing up a hyphenated mixed-race 'other' in our ostensibly multi-racial society. But the programme really missed the point:

My grandparents were the original multi-racial pairing. And they got together in the 1930s. You think (from hearing my parents on the show) that it was hard being a multi-racial couple in the 1960s? Imagine what it must've been like a generation earlier, and talk to my dad and his siblings about being multi-racial in a time when race riots weren't a historical lesson but a reality of life.

So the programme missed the point. I must ask my parents if they emphasised it enough to the producers. I think they were interviewed for like two hours or something, and only ten minutes was shown (including voice-over), so I'm sure a lot got cut.

I really must scold the parentals for allowing them to film so many photos though. I was an ugly child of the '80s.


The big news at home this week is that come December 31, 2003, we're going to be a SINK*. Possibly a SINKOC**. Wish us luck.

* SINK: Single Income No Kids
** SINKOC: Single Income No Kids One Cat


Spelling schmpelling

Courtesy of Dylan, here's a point to ponder as we start the work week ...

Overdosing on POTUS

I found out during my internet wanderings last night that our National Library actually has copies of various portraits of the Clinton White House available for loan, so I popped down to two separate branches this afternoon to pick up POTUS Speaks and The Clinton Wars. Yes, I had to go to two separate branches because apparently, there's some undeclared rule about having too many Clinton histories in the same place. Did I mention that the only other libraries that have copies of these books are the far-flung community libraries out in Sengkang, Woodlands and the like?

While I'm on the subject of our National Library organisation, did I mention how most of the really excellent books I want to read (e.g. Naomi Klein's Fences and Windows and Garry Wills's John Wayne's America) are all found in the reference section only? Heaven forbid that people should actually check out well-written books with revolutionary ideas that might make people look at history or the present in a radically different manner!

Of course, I sent in my "feedback" on the above outrage immediately. We'll see what kind of polite reply I get. And people wonder why no one goes to the library to do any serious reading/borrowing anymore.

That reminds me: I forgot to look up Dancing Barefoot. And now the library catalogue's down for maintenance. Bah.

The first episode of Everwood was on TV tonight (it replaces Gilmore Girls). The premise doesn't sound very exciting (sad widower moves with sad children to Everwood, Colorado so he can do good and heal all the happy townsfolk without charging them a cent), but Gregory Smith, who plays the older of the sad children, is the very spitting image of a young Mark Harmon. And Mark Harmon, as we all know, has been very delectable for a couple of decades now. Damn you, Sorkin, for killing his character off before he got to smooch CJ properly! I don't know yet if I'll commit to Everwood on the strength of Smith alone, since I'm getting towards that age when lusting after teenage actors could be misconstrued as improper and de-moral-ising. On the other hand, I just read that Smith is actually 19 (he plays a 14-/15-year old).

It's funny how sticking 2/3 of an unfinished pizza in the fridge can make even the freezer smell of pizza. (Don't worry, the pizza's all gone now. I ate nothing but pizza for three meals straight this weekend.)


Petals on the wind

A friend's sister is going to Cambridge to do her PhD in history. I am insanely jealous.

Of course, I realize that if I ever commit to a PhD, it would probably be something fluffy like media studies or pop culture. On the other hand, freshly inspired by The Beauty Myth, media studies could use a few more minds to work out exactly how evile the media is and educate everyone who comes into contact with the media so that they're at least duly warned of its evileness.

The Beauty Myth, by the way, is the Great Book that I'm going to give to all my nearest and dearest for their birthdays for the next year. Wouldn't that be great, if every time we read a life-changing book, we passed it on to the peopl we love, so that they could maybe partake in some of that life-changing goodness?

(And I don't mean pass it on in the BookCrossing sense. I like to give books with a little more deliberation and deliberateness than that.)


I'm not one for maudlin or exploitative bloviating about 9/11, but the simplicity of Wil Wheaton's tribute is... Well, it works.


Speechwriting isn't the most gripping and challenging aspect of my job. But I'm a Sam Seaborn at heart --- really, I am.

Jed: Can I see the intro?
Sam: It's up on the prompter.
Jed: Ha! "Good morning, I'm speaking to you live from the West Wing of the White House. Today, we have a very unique opportunity to take part, live, in an extremely historic event whi..." Whoa, boy...
Sam: How ya doin', Mr. President?
Jed: Who wrote this intro?
NASA Public Affairs Dude who's about to get slapped ten ways to Sunday: I did, sir. I'm Scott Tate, from NASA Public Affairs.
Jed: Scott, 'unique' means one of a kind. Something can't be 'very unique' nor can it be 'extremely historic'.
CJ: While we're at it, do we have to use the word 'live' twice in the first two sentences, like we just cracked the technology?
NASA PA Dude who's deader than dead in the water: Look ...
CJ: We're also broadcasting in living colour, right?
Jed: Sam...
Sam: Yeah.
Jed [to daft NASA PA Dude]: He's going to make some changes.
Deaf, dumb and blind NASA PA Dude [to Sam]: You're going to clear them with me?
Sam: I doubt it. [To typist] Write this. "Good morning. Eleven months ago, a twelve-hundred-pound spacecraft blasted off from Cape Canaveral in Florida. Eighteen hours ago..." Is it eighteen hours ago? We're on the air at noon Eastern.
CJ: Yuh.
Sam: "Eighteen hours ago it landed on the planet Mars. You, me, and sixty thousand of your fellow students across the country, along with astroscientists and engineers from the Jet Propulsion Lab in southern California, NASA Houston, and right here at the White House, are going to be the first to see what it sees, and to chronicle the extraordinary voyage of an unmanned ship called Galileo V."
Jed: He said it right.

"Galileo", The West Wing

I want to be Sam.


Down and out

My website is down. My friend's DSL got hit by something wicked (namely, the telco that provided the service), so it might be a week or so before toomanythoughts.org is back up. Meanwhile, I'll impose on Blogspot's free hosting service.

It's been a busy week, mostly because it was Sam's last week in town. We had a family photo plus dinner on Sunday, then we had dinner at the Bs' on Monday, followed by drinks on Tuesday, and tonight she's flown home. Well, technically she's still puttering around in Changi Airport right now, but she'll be off in a few hours. Tuesday was, conceivably, the latest I've been out on a work night before. By the time we headed out to join Sam and Kelvin for drinks, it was well past 11 pm. It was well on its way to 2 am when I got home. On the other hand, driving has never been easier and Union is a pretty neat bar.

Work has been relatively pleasant. The big boss took these two days off, another middle boss took the week off and the last remaining boss-type fell ill. Of course, it meant that us junior types were holding the fort, but fortunately we didn't have 10,000 Uruk-Hai bearing down on Helm's Deep or anything.

[Please excuse the Lord of the Rings jargon. We were enjoying The Two Towers these past few days and must now somehow find a way to pass the time till the Extended DVD of that movie is released in November. I might have to hunt down Fellowship from the friend it's with so that I can indulge. Of course, there's always the Secret LotR Diaries to pass the time.]

Before I go to bed (early, yes, but last night's 2 am splurge wiped me out), I just wanted to state for the record that we cleaned our living room and dining room. Yes, cleaned. I think we should take photos so that we have evidence for all you skeptics out there, my mother included.


The storm has broken over Naglimund

... and taken T's hard drives in their sweep.

I cannot describe how heartbreaking this is to him (and me). Our faith now lies in the eminent Mr B, who offered to undertake a last-ditch salvage operation, in the hope that some data can be recovered.

It's funny how one moment SMSes and phone calls are all excited and optimistic about a cat with the unfortunate name of Girl Girl, and the next they are weighed down by the Voice of Doom. Yesterday was a dark day indeed.


Addendum to the tale of battle

It struck me, as I was in the shower (which is where I'm clear-headed enough to have a lot of 'Eureka!' moments), that the first casualty in the battle was not T's computer, but the bedroom light. Which we still haven't replaced, by the way. Maybe later this week, while we're catproofing the apartment.

I'm awake at this ungodly hour (for a non-schoolteacher) because I have to *mwah* go to school. I must remember to slate more of these sorts of visits. I was starting to forget that it's a privilege to have an office job that doesn't require me to wake up pre-dawn everyday.

Of Golbins and Elves, enjoying themselves

Tonight, we battled mightily with our household demons.

It began last night with an ominous hiss and then a foul vapour, issuing from the vicinity of T's just-rebooted computer. That first salvo successful --- we have only one functioning desktop in the apartment tonight --- the second assault proved to be a sly, secretive intrusion tonight. One minute, the printer was chugging along happily, having printed 13 sheets and working its way through the next 17. The next minute: a baffling silence. A quick internal checkup showed that one piece of paper was jammed. It took a bit more than I expected to dislodge the sheet, but all looked well. But the printer refused to re-calibrate itself. It insisted in that annoying female Star Trek Computer-wannabe voice that there was still a "paper jam".

And 'lo, squeezed tight between immovable black piece and immovable white piece, was a tidily scrunched-up sheet of previously pristine paper, leering at me. The opening into which it was squeezed was too narrow for my fingers to grasp it. I applied a pair of tweezers instead, but only succeeded in extracting minute squares of paper, rather than the entire sheet. We didn't have a Philips-head screwdriver, naturally, since we haven't been able to find T's Swiss Army knife in weeks (we really do need to clean this place up, yes). And I was ready to give in and let the computer tech who's dropping by tomorrow to take care of it, when T decided he'd be all manly and somehow get his thicker fingers into that narrow opening (really, no innuendoes here, we couldn't afford the sexy printer model so ours is distinctly utilitarian and even faintly bulbous) --- and voila! A well-accordioned sheet of paper emerged and the printer was working again.

But the worst was yet to come.

My printouts were complete, I was ready to start blogging, and the final onslaught made itself known. T hollered from the kitchen, where he'd manfully shifted our dryer out of place. Behind it: the evidence. A dripping hose, no longer plugged into the right outlet in the wall that drains water from our washing machine. Behind the machines --- and indeed, under where the dryer had sat, now that T'd moved it --- a carpet of lint, dirt and the odd leached roach. The hose could be realigned into its outlet, no problem, but I wasn't going to let T re-site the dryer without at least a passing attempt to mop up that lint (and the roach). So off I went, scrubbing on the floor for a good ten minutes and shaking lint into the trash. I didn't get all of it --- there's a corner of it where the washer leans up against a perpendicular wall that my arm's too short to reach. But I made good inroads into the mossy undergrowth and I'm happy to report that there's, really, only a square of black miscellany left in the further-most corner.

Now I'm pooped. And I didn't even get around to the articles I wanted to work on tonight.

Non sequitur of the hour: My eyebrows itch where they were "trimmed" Saturday.

Today's achievement

Fastest. FAQs. Ever.


Happy Teachers Day

I've got the day off, which is nice. Nothing like a 3-day weekend to lift one's work-weary spirits.

What I did last Saturday

So my cousin Sam decided she would take portraits of everyone in our extended family. This involved renting a studio, obtaining the services of some makeup artists and borrowing the kinds of cameras she wanted to use. The session was pretty fun, and I proved to be the worst --- model --- ever (as I already expected to be, based on my highly self-conscious performance during my pre-wedding photo shoot).

The makeup session wasn't too bad --- quite mild and 'natural' --- but my hair was a nightmare. It's too long, so it kept flopping the wrong way and shadowing my face instead. It got to a point during the group shot that everyone would laugh when one of the makeup artists came over to fix my hair for the zillionth time.

After the session, we* had chicken rice, followed by monstrous ice cream desserts, followed by a good bit of liquor. I was, for some reason, really wiped out by the (brief) photo shoot and was practically falling asleep over my dessert and drinks. T and I called it quits after the drinks, but Sam and Cindums went out and partied till 5 am. I just got the full report from Sam over the phone about half an hour ago. We're practically the same age, but I definitely feel too old for 5 am nights.

*We being not family, but Sam, T, T's cousin and our friend Cindums.