Ain't that a kick in the head

It is maddening to go to bed early like a good girl to rest up for work, only to have an adrenaline-pumped mind keep me up for another two hours. I was grumpy by the time I finally fell off to sleep, and grumpier still when the alarm sounded in the morning.

Of course, all that was nothing compared to the misfortune of stumbling across a Westlife video for their new "jazz" album. Who knew that MTV held such perils, early in the morning? Contrary to the press release's claim that the group's "immaculately tailored suits and their hair smoothed back" are authentic to the Rat Pack era that inspired this travesty, let me assure the viewing public that jazz never sounded as slimy or flat as when these four boys thought that simply building a pretty set would be enough to approximate an era. They forgot that all it takes is one of their "soulful" hand gestures wafting past a mike to shatter the (really bad) illusion --- and trust me, those boys cannot break themselves of the habit of the waffly hand gesture.

One down, seven to go

This week started with a small birthday celebration on Friday evening and ended with a quiet movie today. Additional bookending was provided by not one, but two weddings: I was on the groom's side for the first last week, on the bride's side for the second last night, and both yielded unexpected reunions with ex-classmates from school years gone by.

I did a quick tally last night and I have only seven more weeks on this job (excluding remaining leave). It's really surreal, now that it's coming down to the end. In many ways, I feel as if I'm retiring already --- handing over major projects, filling in only for short-term assignments, being left out of the loop for anything that pertains to next year. What's left for me to do doesn't offer much sense of satisfaction; I'm really just biding my time here.

The next week off should be November 27 -- December 2. I suspect it will largely be a repeat of this week (tea with mom and aunts, midnight jaunts with friends), with additional Xmas fervour stirred into the mix, by way of Chestnuts and my usual early December frenzy of Xmas card-writing. Speaking of which, if you'd like an old-fashioned snailmail card and it's possible I don't have your address, email it to me at bubblevicious -at- gmail -dot- com and I'll add you to my list. I've already got 71 people --- the more the merrier!

To bed, perchance to sleep ---and that's a weak perchance indeed, given that on average I've been up till 2 am and awake only at 10 am all week. I'm not going to feel this gleeful tomorrow...


Past midnight in Geylang

126 Sims Avenue is the best place to get dim sum after hours because the food is hot, the waitstaff prompt, the cold drinks come in little plastic tubs with ice and rock sugar, and the char siew baos break open to reveal steaming hot meat filling within light-enough-to-float buns. The deep-fried yam balls keep BoKo coming back for more and even newbie tourists just need to point at pictures to order.

Last night, the airconditioned interior of the restaurant was full, so we found ourselves at a table by the road --- very Southeast Asian, though not at all typically Singaporean. A souped-up blue beng-mobile pulled up next to us, with two names (we assumed they were the drivers') and blood types engraved on the rear right window. While we tried to recall from the dregs of biology lessons how one's blood type affects one's offspring, a guy a few tables away sauntered up to the driver's window, took a wad of something from the driver, and sauntered back to his seat to make some phone calls while the car sped off. Placing a bet? Closing a deal? Saved from surprising his female companion with an empty wallet? We'll never know.

Minutes later, a woman in a very short white skirt and very long high-heeled white boots tottered across the road, prompting a pity "Ow" from one of us. I'm still undecided whether it was the "just had sex" gait or "these boots are killing me" limp. On our way back to the car after supper, Terz got propositioned by a short woman in a loud green top and fled to my side for refuge. Seeing as the proposition was something along the lines of, "Hey, want a baby?" in Mandarin, I don't blame him one bit.

Amidst all this, Wahj somehow managed to recollect the love theme from Star Wars: Attack of the Clones. He's uncanny, I tell you.


Time at home

I'm so domesticated. One week off work and what do I do? Get a Teflon pan, microwave steamer, dish drainer, tea towels and kitchen floor mats (except that they're more towels than mats). The only thing we haven't done this week is get groceries, because Mondays in general aren't good day for grocery shopping, Tuesday we weren't going to be eating at home anyway, Wednesday Terz had a last-minute shoot, and today was spend-time-with-my-mom day. Maybe this weekend ...

Spend-time-with-my-mom day turned out to be spend-time-with-mom-and-her-sisters day. I shamelessly cajoled my mother into buying me a bit of bling bling --- definitely no iPod for me, because I can't in good conscience cadge jewellery out of my mom, then divert my own cash towards a new toy --- then we went to tea at Toast at Ngee Ann City. You wouldn't think a place covered in small, square pink tiles would be a comfortable nook to spend a quiet afternoon, but it is --- or rather, it was once the four loud Cantonese-speaking women in overdressed denim and capris left. In comparison, my table of Cantonese women was polite and poised, although I confess that we inadvertently hijacked the communal milk jug for our entire sojourn.

Mom decreed that she was sick of marsala anything, so I couldn't try the marsala chicken wrap recommended by umami. Instead, we had a roast beef sandwich with wasabi sauce (what a zinger), a chicken caesar salad sandwich (meh), chocolate truffle cake and carrot cake. I hope their mid-afternoon deal of coffee/tea with a slice of cake for $5.50 lasts, so I can take advantage of it next year when I revert to theoretically more flexible working hours.

It's surreal to play tai-tai with three women from a family least likely to spawn wealth, fame or fortune. Of course, the fact that they give me sound financial advice while I bemoan my dwindling bank account points to the fact that they can enjoy life now because they were wiser with their dollar when they were my age. I've inherited a lot of things from Mom's side of the family, but the gene for financial discretion must've flipped into recessive mode when it saw me coming.

Seeing Mom and her sisters always makes me wish I'd had a bunch of sisters --- unfortunately, that was just wishful thinking in my "Stop At Two" generation. A brother ain't bad, but four sisters would've been swell.


They said it couldn't be done

OMG the Red Sox just won the World Series!!!

Now I'm definitely not a baseball fan, but almost ten years of being with significant others who are has rubbed off a little. I never thought we'd see this day.

Gratuitous iPod lust

I want one.

Naturally, this is right after I have a conversation with my mom about why I'm broke (again).

I could justify it by saying that I wouldn't need a PDA anymore, but that wouldn't do justice to my faithful PDA, which isn't quite at the end of its lifespan yet.



One week to go

I'm not ordinarily a fan of Eminem, nor do I really enjoy his music, but check out his latest offering, which Salon calls his anti-Bush anthem: "Mosh". He's so angry, so on target. Buy me a black hoodie and sign me up for his army already --- oh, except that I'm not American, so I can't vote, and I'm Singaporean, so it remains to be seen if I'll ever get to vote.
Dear America,
Please remember to vote next week. I'm not saying who you should vote for, but at least give it some considered thought, get out of the house and cast your ballot. At the very least, the state of the world for the next four years should not be rooted in something as ignoble as citizen apathy.

The rest of the world


Kay's already blogged about our kickfit class last night; I'll merely add that there's nothing like a little kickboxing to bring back memories of karate class. I took classes for about three years as a teenager, and on hindsight, those were probably the most athletic years of my life. Since I have zero actual kickboxing training, whenever the instructor last night demonstrated a position, I automatically approximated the karate stance-equivalent of what he was doing. It's funny how the body never forgets these things. It's also horrifying how inflexible my body is, twelve years on. I can't sink effortlessly into those ninety-degree stances like I used to.

I've started posting entries from my old, pre-Blogger blog. So far, rolling back through August and September 2001, I've discovered that some things never change: we still spend too much money, watch the same TV shows and eat at the same places. On the other hand, we no longer have a car, I no longer write long, diary-style entries, and the sky isn't falling (at the moment). To think it's been just three years.

More entries to come, as I find the time to transfer them.


The tao of blogging

Earlier today, mr brown linked to someone's blog and hours later, upon request from the blog author, he deleted the links, so as not to worry her or induce her to lock her posts. What with John Scalzi's recent meditations on email etiquette, that got me thinking about hyperlinking etiquette.

A quick Google search points almost unanimously to Link.Openly's "Linking Custom and Etiquette", which in turn quotes Tim Berners-Lee's 1997 "Links and Law: Myths". Two of the myths highlighted by Berners-Lee seem to apply to this particular case, viz.:
  • Myth one: A normal link is an incitement to copy the linked document in a way which infringes copyright.
  • Myth three: Making a link to someone's publicly readable document is an infringement of privacy.

Okay, maybe not so much myth one per se, but the elaboration thereunto: "There is no reason to have to ask before making a link to another site, but by the same token, you are responsible for what you say about other people, and their sites, etc., on the web as anywhere" (also quoted in Link.Openly).

All of which boils down to: this is the web, people, and they don't call it the World Wide Web for nothing. Once you post something on a website --- no matter how funny it seemed at the time, or how good it made you feel to post it, or how much of a rush you were in that you had no time to spellcheck it properly --- it's out there, loose and most likely beyond your control. Sure, you can censor what you write, but if it's published and on the web proper, you'll never know who's eyeballed it nor can you control what reaction they'll have. You can't guarantee that Google won't index it, that your mom won't read it (or your boss, for that matter) or that it won't linger in cyberspace long after you've passed on. It's not like email, where there could arguably be a tacit confidentiality clause binding sender and recipient --- though even then, RFC 1855 recommends, "Never put in a [e]mail message anything you would not put on a postcard."

Hyperlinking could stand accused of pointing a reader's attention from one webpage to another, conceivably granting unwanted attention to a website that was contented with --- indeed, desired to maintain --- a low profile. And that could be problematic in the event that the hyperlink caused a massive bandwidth overload, or misrepresented information, or hijacked graphics.

But if the linked traffic didn't do any of the above, if the link didn't reveal any information that wasn't already available on the linked webpage, if in fact the link was more of the "Look, [username] said this on his/her blog" type of observation, then what wrong has the link done, in serving its intrinsic purpose? The "custom and practice" on the web, to which Link.Openly defers, is that web authors link to whatever they please, usually without asking first. The web would be a less vibrant, less useful tool if we had to keep checking all the time: I'd've had to obtain ten separate permissions before posting this entry, for instance; the most prolific hyperlinker I've come across, snarkout, would probably have to thin out most of his entries. And the web? Wouldn't be very world wide.

None of this is by way of taking the piss out of the blog author who requested to be delinked, nor of mr brown's accession to her request. mr brown can do whatever he likes on his website, which is after all the point of having a personal website --- just as I choose to ponder this point publicly, on a late, late Tuesday night, with only music from The O.C. and Buffy the Vampire Slayer soundtracks to inspire me. (See Berners-Lee's point on personal responsibility above.)

The web's a funny place. A former student found my blog completely by accident when she was Googling a local restaurant. Other former students found my website (with wedding pictures!) before I even had a blog. Nothing is private, almost nothing in unlinkable. I know almost as many people who've shut down their blogs because they decided they didn't want strangers to read their musings, as I do bloggers who've kept them going through the most personal and intimate of trials. Everyone's got a different comfort level offline, but search engines and the average web user aren't that discerning. Don't want uninvited eyes to see it? Don't put it on the web (or use password protection). Live it, love it. Welcome to the Internet.

Made for walking

The week of long-awaited leave is off to a good start when Terz announces first thing in the morning (okay, so technically it was already 11:30 am when I got up) that he needs to get some medium-format film --- prompting me to recall that at Campers' Corner, around the corner from where he gets film, I can get a pair of Chacos --- prompting me to check if Wahj is still raring to go shopping for outdoor stuff --- resulting in the serendipitous revelation that Wahj's actually brought his medium-format camera out with him today --- and ho! shopping we go.

I now own a pair of Z/2s --- not because I'm about to climb any mountains or ford any rivers in the near future, but because I really missed having a pair of sports sandals after my Tevas died a few months ago (don't mind the snorting sound, that's just Terz expressing derision that I didn't "invest" in a pair of Chacos in the first place) and because you never know when an impromptu beach vacation opportunity may present itself. I was, in fact, planning to spend a day at East Coast Park this week, but the year-end monsoon that I love seems to have descended prematurely upon us. I suppose I can always take a walk out to the beach and back along the local park connector, since that'll also let me test out my "walking to school next year" theory.

(The theory, contingent upon the school to which I'm posted to resume teaching come January, is that if the school's indeed located along the park connector, then maybe I'll cab in the mornings, because a) I won't be able up to consistently wake up early enough to make the walk to school, and b) I don't want to be all sweaty when I get to school --- but then I can walk back, which would save me some money in cab fare and also be healthyish to boot.)

I'm going to try a kickfit class tonight. Sprite and I have rejected kickboxing per se as too violent for our dainty tastes, though for the boys, the jury's still out. Kay warned me to be sure to eat something first, so I don't pass out. We had a late lunch today, so I hope two slices of wholemeal bread covered in sugar-free jam counts as "something".


A nightcap

I was gonna blog, but Boko is staying over and the clatter of my keyboard sounds immensely loud, even though he's in the next room, so I'm going to rein in the overcreative impulse, shut down the humming computer and tiptoe into our room.

Tomorrow, I may start weeding through my old blog to transfer entries to this one, so look out for embarrassing new/old entries to read. Meanwhile, here's my little PSA to tide you over: Singapore needs its own Metblog already. Quick, hurry up and apply!


I'm on leave! The entire week! Yeah, so I had to put in a few hours at the office yesterday ... but that's it! I have no work laptop, therefore no access to work email. Yippee!!


Chick lit'ing

It's been a long time since I went shopping with a guy, so allow me to sing fulsome praise of Wahj, who, when enlisted on my emergency lunchtime shopping expedition, balked not, winced not, and proved to be an unexpected source of faultless fashion advice. The results: I now have not only a new little evening purse but also a new choker, both of which perfectly match the previously unaccessorised dress that I'm wearing to a wedding dinner this weekend. I mean, I had shoes for the dress, but that's about it --- which is pretty lame considering that I've had the dress since December last year.

Well, today, in half an hour of purposeful stalking about Holland Village, guided by Wahj's unerring sense --- all the more remarkable when you consider that all he knew was that it's a black and red dress, he's never seen it --- I acquired everything I'll ever need to go with the dress. Which just goes to show you that sometimes it takes the ominous cloud of an impending fashion emergency to bring the planets into alignment, so that despite the limited shopping opportunities within a lunch hour's reach of work, you can find exactly what you want.

Now that my Barbie moment is over, let me add a suitably postfeminist (I think) postscript: While we were yakking after lunch, three colleagues were shocked, shocked to discover that I don't wear powder or foundation, don't own any and, most importantly, don't know how to use the stuff. It began with me preening over my new bag, which led to sighs about how little stuff can actually fit into evening purses, and then I said, "Well, I only bring lipstick anyway." Which I rapidly corrected to, "Well, the only makeup I ever use is lipstick anyway." Thence came the shocked looks.

Since the moment seemed confessional, I added that I didn't pluck my eyebrows or know how to use mascara --- or any makeup, for that matter. Didn't know the difference between pressed powder and loose powder, or that it was important to use a makeup cleanser to wash one's face or else the makeup will clog your pores. My redeeming graces: I moisturise after I wash my face and I used to have concealer.

This isn't the first time I've come out to girls about not knowing eyeliner from an eyebrow pencil and Joanelle's blogged about it far more eloquently. Still, it's always fun to watch how people react --- and then to sink into my seat with growing horror as the novelty of "she doesn't use makeup!" turned into an animated debate on the merits of pressed powder vs. loose powder. (I still can't remember the difference.) Y'know, I like my colleagues, I think they're beautiful without makeup --- although based on today's exchange, it could be that I've never seen them without it --- I just never thought they would get round to discussing this topic with the earnestness more often seen in clergymen discussing doctrinal minutiae.

On a related note, I was in Borders last night, and damn if you can't scan a row of new books or "literature" without stumbling over a chick lit title on every shelf. I mean, I enjoy the odd Bridge Jones's Diary once in a while, but can anything more be milked out of the genre? As articulated in Hanne Blank's "Chick lit to chew on" (link via NaNoWriMo), "[Chick lit authors] are, to put it bluntly, not self-aware enough to realize that the constant low-grade misery they depict has larger causes and both larger and smaller cures. Insofar as these novels and their anti-role-model protagonists are nonetheless role models for their readers to some degree, that's a crying shame." Amen. I'm not saying I'm never going to touch another chick lit title, but could it revolve a little less around shopping, makeup and/or a gratuitous guy?

But let's not end on a ranty note. Let's end with quiet, satiated applause for my resident cook (aka the husband), who made fabulous dinners all this week and the last. He cooks, we eat, I do the dishes and ponder the next grocery run --- it's all good, people.


The many uses of a cellphone

9:19 am --- To confirm that bowb's baby is due any minute now!
I'm quite excited about all the babies about to be born in the next few months (five), especially as they will have fine, fine parents. Better yet, two were "surprise!" conceptions and the other three will be additions to a non-Singapore population, so the local government's latest procreation policy has not had one whit of success within my social circle. Take that, baby bonus!

10:04 am --- To confirm with a friend that I was actually going to call her in a few minutes.
This friend lives in Singapore too, but her life is busier than if she had three children and two jobs (like me, she in fact has none and one respectively). As she was, indeed, free to chat, we had a lovely one-hour romp through our worlds of work, fun and husbandy.

12:30 pm --- To pick the brains of friends more well-educated in literary criticism than I am.
You think SMS only for simple chitchat like "Where to meet?" and "Sorry, going to be late", is it?

12:35 pm --- To have one's literary ruminations interrupted by an SMS summons from the husband: "Bring me toilet paper, please."

12:45 pm --- To be updated by Sprite on the latest essay bloopers uncovered in her year-end marking frenzy.

Where would I be without thee, cellphone?

Bits 'n pieces of the weekend

"That is the worst excuse ever!" --- the best friend, upon learning that I'd cancelled jogging plans today because Terz and I got our hair highlighted yesterday and we're not supposed to wash it for a couple of days.
Even if it's the worst excuse ever, I managed to get all these things done instead, so it was hardly a wasted weekend:

As a bonus, I got to meet Adri of Popagandhi. It was one of the least awkward instances I've had of meeting someone in person whom I'd already encountered on the internet. I first admired her mighty Mac evangelist skills from the side, while waiting for her to be done with some customers, and then contact was established, CD and blog-related chitchat exchanged, and we got to marvel at what a small place Singapore is.

This makes it two days in a row that I've voluntarily hauled myself down to Orchard Road on the weekend. In return, I've got a new haircut, a new(ish) CD and enough food to last us till Wednesday. A decent trade-off, I think.


Besides my 2 litres of water a day

Snapple's Lime Green Tea is so good that even though it was hot and I was bothered, when the first convenience store didn't have it, I was ready to trek up and across a (greenhouse-hot) bridge to get to the supermarket on the other side of the road. Happily, another convenience store presented itself before I started up the bridge and, miracle of miracles, though it was smaller than the first store, it had bottles and bottles of the precious tea.

One was enough to keep me satisfied for the rest of the afternoon, making it a total of three I've had since I discovered the flavour. If only it weren't 200 calories + 46 grams of sugar a bottle ... (Not that I'm a dieting freak, but ye olde family history of diabetes looms over me with impending doom, and 46 grams is more than 3 tablespoons of sugar, y'all.)


Some for here, the rest to go

In our version of married life, you can either have dinner for two for $67.40 or buy groceries for two for four days for $48 (including cab fare home). Tonight, we managed to do both.

Gourmet Plus at Frankel Avenue is a delightful little europeen bistro with an unpretentious and unambitious menu, by which I mean that they don't give you fifty kinds of pasta and entrees and pizzas and main courses --- just about fifteen, no pizzas, and maybe six or seven appetizer ideas to get you going. One crispy duck confit and one well-pesto'd seafood fettucine later, we were too full for dessert --- "our creme brulee is excellent", coaxed the young waiter, all dressed in black --- and we forgot to ask why they serve only light Erdinger beer, instead of Terz's preferred dark variety. To think we'd meant to have a light soup and sandwich at the neighbouring Cedele Bakery Depot --- except that they were closed.

As for the aforementioned chocolate cake, it turned out to be not too bad --- nowhere near the seratonin-inspired stratospheric rapture of the legendary Lana cake, but none too shabby for a cake boxed in by professions of "Cherub's Love". There's still half left.

Fortunately, there was still room in the fridge for it after we unloaded all the groceries. We deliberately bought a not-too-big-or-fancy fridge when we moved into this apartment, and it's never really been filled to the brim, except around festive seasons when parents and in-laws ply us with food --- but I'm starting to think we need to both spring clean (how long's that mint sauce been there, hm?) and reorganise so that we can pack more food into the same small space.

We're eating in all week, in order to save money, ensure that groceries do not go bad and avoid excessive consumption of alcohol. Cabin fever symptoms should start to show up around week's end...


Dreaming in blog

I don't know how common this phenomenon among bloggers, but it is pretty surreal, more so than a dream already is surreal, to have events unfold in your dream not via action or someone talking about it, but by watching blog pages flash by. I've never even read notes or books in my dreams before --- at least, not to my recollection --- and now I've skipped ahead by whole centuries of technology to read not just ordinary webpages, but blogs?

Sadly, I can't remember the two incidents that I was reading the dream-blogs about. However, I was sufficiently taken aback that even as I slept on, I was thinking, "I'm dreaming in blog. Somebody save me now."

An open invitation

We have what is ostensibly half a chocolate cake in the fridge, because my aunt received a whole cake in celebration of her nephew's engagement and she passed half off to me so that she and my uncle won't eat it all and then have to move into the gym for the rest of this week.

The cake portion really isn't that large. I peeked into the box just now and I'd say it's equivalent to either two Packrat-sized slices or three me-sized slices or six friends who are thirtysomething and bemoan our declining metabolic rate-sized slices.

The upshot of all this preamble is that anyone who wants to eat chocolate cake, feel free to drop by tomorrow evening and carve yourself a portion. (Sorry, cannot be Tuesday because I have signed up for death by kickboxing that evening.) The cake box is delightfully labelled "Cherub's Love", adorned with drawings of what I assume are cherubs, though the rendering seems to be an eight-year-old's so I'm not sure. It promises, "This fresh cake with original goodness and flavor that something delicious for everyone and sweets make a very special." (Sounds like Engrish to me.) If I had a camera that took decent pictures in artificial light, I would have a picture here to entice you. Maybe tomorrow.

Anyhow, just SMS to let us know if you're coming. Don't shy, don't shy!

The chapalang* entry

Shopping was a bust. To get a much-needed 15% discount at Camper's Corner on the Geckos (aka Chacos in Singapore), I'll have to return another day with someone who can help me rack up the $200 bill minimum to qualify for the discount. Current likely candidate: Wahj, fresh out of reservist and all raring to go.

Hush Puppies --- also a bust. Shoes in question not as nice as I'd thought from a few days ago. Discovered a couple other nifty shoe stores in the Great World City complex, but while they had neat offerings, nothing leapt out at me with the conviction of Eureka! Ended up getting some functional things for the home: bread, candles, bleach (can those words be used in a sentence without writing an Edward Goreyesque tale of doom?).

Following the river down to Clarke Quay, the smell of the sea thickens near Alkaff Bridge. Before that, the air's nondescript: no smell of Zouk, of traffic, no human activity at all, really, till the Copthorne Waterfront hotel. Even the river is quiet, save for the regular susurrus of lapping water --- colourless, lifeless, boatless till a floating tourist trap buzzes noisily in a U-turn near Brewerkz. Alas, before that, approaching the Clemenceau Bridge underpass, the air's already choked with the indissoluble stench of pee. No wonder the foot traffic thins north of the bridge. My steps quickened, not because the underpass itself looked like a perfect locale for some horrific urban crime, but because I could only breathe through my nose for so long.

Beyond: civilisation, with its tourists and expats enjoying their beers al fresco. I must've looked so plebian in my This Fashion cutoffs and KFC paper cup.

Home: Jaws is on TV, which means I'm finally sitting through the film for the first time in my life. It helps that I'm catching up on blogs too, so I neither feel very suspenseful nor have I actually been squicked out by anything on the TV screen. (If you didn't know already, I'm a total wimp when it comes to horror films. Even as I recognise how truly lame Fright Night was, it nevertheless gave me sleepless nights when I was a teenager --- and might continue to do so should I stumble inadvertently into watching it again.) Jaws seems to have lots of macho conflict/angst going on, so maybe that's why it's not that scary (yet, I'd qualify). At this point, Dreyfuss et al seem to be having a more Old Man and the Sea/Moby Dick moment with the great white beast, rather than the stereotypical shark-bites-everyone-in-half scenes I was expecting.

Ruh-roh. The trademark Jaws soundtrack of impending doom just started up, plus Dreyfuss is in this flimsy-looking shark cage plus he just lost his spear! So I think I'm doomed.

To counter the horrid thoughts of dismembered Dreyfuss (or any other dispensable cast member), here's a Lord of the Rings link that I know will amuse at least some of my friends: Why did the (Middle-earth) chicken cross the road? (linked via By The Way).

Dammit, Tolkien-/Jackson-inspired mirth doesn't quite drown out all the screaming and blood on the TV screen...

* chapalang - local slang meaning everything/anything/a mix of all kinds of things.

What a little Nutella can do

The downside to taking a sick day on Friday was that I had to work from home this weekend. On the other hand, this was one of those writing assignments that are impossible to do when I'm actually at work, since either the phone's always ringing or a new email's blinking for my urgent attention or someone's popping by my cubicle to ask about something. So I was probably gonna have to write it at home anyway.

I didn't do anything about it on Friday; just made a quick pit stop at the office to pick up my laptop and some research materials. I was more glum (glummer?) when a colleague dropped off more research for me to wade through on Friday night. Yesterday, there was no way I was doing work after starting the day with a great long-distance phone call. So by default, today was D-day.

And what a D-day it was. I've been working since 10 am, fortified myself with a litre of water and the last two slices of bread with Nutella spread, and I've written propaganda with the finesse of a Hollywood script doctor dolling up the final version of POTUS's Inspirational Address for next summer's USA-saves-the-world blockbuster. And it's done.

The secret, really, to getting myself to do any work, is to dangle a suitable reward thereafter. (I'm such a puppy dog.) Today's reward: swing by Camper's Corner to peruse its range of Geckos, then consider whether Hush Puppies sandals on sale at Great World City are the better buy. I'm off!


"Excuse me, but are you ... ?"

Is there a better way to be woken up on a Saturday morning, than to have Astella call long-distance and triumphantly declare, "I met Colin Goh!!!"? I really don't think there is. And because we non-stalkers of Singaporean Internet celebrities don't have these encounters very often, she had to tell me every minute of it, after which I reminisced how my best friend and I once startled mr brown out of his skin by outing him as he was Clark Kenting his way through life.

Ah ... good times.


When the phone rings

When Astella and I were kibbitzing recently about cellphone ringtones, I was aghast to discover that while she had her Star-Spangled Banner, there were websites offering Singapore's own Majulah Singapura. In fact, they even had different versions of ye olde Majulah, including a jaunty "country" one.

None of that prepared me for the outburst tonight, when the tinny and unmistakable notes of the Majulah struck up on the train on the way home from work. I had to simultaneously swallow a chortle and try to identify who belonged to that valiant ringtone. The answer: a tall, lanky Chinese boy, twenty or so years young, hair cropped close (but not in a cool way), nondescript T-shirt and jeans, snaking his way across the carriage. The really funny thing was that no one else on the train reacted. Is the Majulah a well-established marker on the local cellphone landscape? Did I miss the moment when national anthems became the ringtone of choice?


Dinner and then some

It's not every day we have racially harmonious meals. Here's what was on tonight's menu, according to Singapore's peculiar classification of local racial groups:

  • Chinese: Beef noodle soup, rice and mixed veggies;
  • Malay: Chicken and mutton satay and ketupat;
  • Indian: Tandoori chicken, chick peas and naan;
  • Others: Pork knuckle and otah-otah.

Plus beer and Snapple to wind the whole meal up. It was completely spontaneous, the assembly of food, not like we were trying to show off national pride or anything. Pity the lighting was no good for Terz's phone camera to memorialize the moment, or we'd have a picture too, and schools could use it to teach their kids how to put together a racially harmonious and nationally educational meal.

In other "national education" news, the other night, we were at Ocho's and when Terz's tapas arrived, Casey and Jiamei proclaimed, "It's like Western dim sum!"

Okay, now for real national news. The Great Egg Shortage is almost over. Malaysian chickens and eggs from selected farms are now allowed back into the country. Everyone sing along together now, to I Love Egg!

By the way, my egg entry earned me two shout-outs in Mr Brown's latest column in Today. It could in fact have been three shout-outs, except that I don't think he knows how I'm connected to the third one. At least, not till I email him tomorrow (promise!).

Who's your boss?

Exhibit A
My current boss, with whom I had a most excellent conversation yesterday morning, culminating in my first actual moment of sadness that I'm leaving the job next year because I really, really like working with her.

I couldn't've asked for a better pick-me-up, given that it's been a really shitty week at work (what's new) through which I've stumbled, zombie-like, through the miasma of deadlines, knowing that the work's out there but having no idea where to begin actually doing it. Not that the one conversation changes everything, but to be able to have that frank, that open and honest of an exchange with someone I've worked with for less than a year --- it was enough to trigger a fleeting wish that I could stay. There are lots of work-related dynamics that are pushing me out the door, but the boss, suffice to say, isn't one of them.

Exhibit B
Potential boss from next year onwards, with whom I had drinks with last night. It's not that I make it a habit to have drinks with potential bosses, but she's also a friend of EH and they had dinner last night and EH insisted I join them. Weak-minded fool that I am (plus Terz thought it was a good idea), I did. I probably talked a bit too much about work-related foo, but that's preferable to chumming it up too much, I think? Anyway, I still have good vibes about her. My fingers are crossed that the "more than 50% chance" she mentioned of my coming to work for her tilts heavily closer to 100% by year's end.

Exhibit C
Boss of someone I'll refer to just as my friend, because it's not the sort of thing where you want to get into the details in public. The long and short of it is that it's a classic example of being victimised by politicking and hypocrisy, and in the process my poor friend alone has borne the brunt of it. It enrages all who know him personally and professionally, but none of us are really in a position (of sufficient power) to do anything about it.

The moral of the story: For every Exhibit A, there's an Exhibit C (or more than one) ready to screw over decent, hardworking people. And you never really know till you're in the thick of it, which way the tide is turning. I hope my friend gets an Exhibit A on his next draw because, believe me when I say this, his time is due.