This just in ---

New DVD player! Finally we can watch DVDs coded for all regions, not just the region 1 and 3 ones. And the remote control that comes with it is larger than the old one, so there's less chance of it vanishing down the side of the couch.

New dengue fever patient! Alas, a friend's down with it and trying to ride out the worst of its debilitating effects. They're taking good care of her at the hospital, but when a person's too blah to flip through Harper's Bazaar, Elle, Her World or even *gak* Seventeen, she's pretty darned sick. Maybe she should start with something really vacant like 8 Days...

New favourite cze char place! (Cze char places serve Chinese dishes, like in restaurants, only they're usually found in coffeeshops and even more basic than a no-frills restaurant: i.e. no airconditioning, no tablecloths or receipts, and definitely no "please wait to be seated" service.) We've known about Le Wan Tian forever, but it was only tonight that I discovered that they serve claypot fish head --- the non-curry, non-assam, merely vegetables-and-tofu-in-gravy kind --- otherwise known as "the fish head dish that I've been trying to hunt down since I moved back here almost eight years ago". The fish was tender, smooth and tasty; the vegetable and tofu servings generous and simmered to perfection. Lovely.

Tomorrow, there will be work. But tonight there is a sated stomach and a quietly feeding iPod. Life is good.


A tourist, for a time

When you have friends who just moved to Singapore last week, you find yourself doing the strangest things.

Like wandering in the landscaped plaza of Parkview Square (which my friends have dubbed Zool Building), and wondering why any office building developer would endow it with bronze statues of Churchill, Sun Yat-Sen, Chopin, Dante and Plato (among others).

Like explaining why the taxi driver is "uncle" and the woman who takes your order at the hawker centre is "auntie", but even though your friend is 49, he's never "uncle" to you.

Like playing miniature golf for the first time ever. I acquitted myself perfectly by coming in dead last in our group of five. Par for the course was 65; my score, 115 --- proving indisputably that when it comes to anything requiring hand-eye coordination, I'm absolutely hopeless.

Oh, and we all agreed that the new National Library building is truly, truly ugly.

A little domestic crisis

Five minutes before we left the apartment last night to go meet people at Villa Bali:


No more perfume!! All those extra boxes of perfume bottles I had? Were just that: extra boxes. No more actual unopened, unused bottles of perfume.

Fortunately, I had a couple of other half-used, less-preferred-but-still-passable scents lying around. But I must go stock up today. How to survive in Singapore without perfume??


In our own worlds

According to Andrew Sullivan, society is dead, we have retreated into the iWorld. An excerpt that I can attest is true, just from my first few days with my iPod:

These are the iPod people. Even without the white wires you can tell who they are. They walk down the street in their own MP3 cocoon, bumping into others, deaf to small social cues, shutting out anyone not in their bubble.

(Link via By The Way).

Actually, I keep the volume on my iPod low enough that I can still hear my cellphone if it beeps or, you know, have ample warning of traffic that might be barrelling down the street at me. (Why I'm in the middle of street and vulnerable to traffic is another matter.) Also, I'm wary of going deaf-by-iPod.

But I can appreciate Sullivan's sentiment, especially when he talks about how people access only information that they already have an interest in or read only those blogs written by people who think along the same lines as they do. Guilty, as charged. There are times when it's a little like living in an echo chamber --- bloggers swopping links to each other because everyone's talking about the same thing, finding the same few links propagating throughout the blogosphere --- but it's a lot better than being forcefed a diet of something that you didn't want to read in the first place, or that isn't enriching in any way.

Take the whole furore over The Straits Times charging for their online edition, for example. Personally, I don't intend to read it anymore, not if I have to pay for it. Yeah, I get that they want to make money off it, but I get Salon for US$30 a year. That works out to US$2.50 a month or roughly S$4.30, as compared to the $12 a month ST is proposing to charge. As a point of comparison, Salon updates everyday too, and it's a purely online publication which can't rely on a print edition to support the web costs --- and it's Salon for goodness's sake. It's in a whole different league from The Straits Times.

I've actually been ST-free for several weeks now. On the one hand, I kinda don't really know what's going on. On the other hand, my life doesn't seem to be adversely affected by it, so maybe I didn't need to know what was going on in the first place.


On giving blood

I've seen too much Buffy in my lifetime. At the blood drive today, I happened to glance at a full packet of blood and my first thought was, "Wouldn't Angel love to get his hands on that." (Of course, I'm also the girl who got the new iPod engraved with "Once More, With Feeling".)

Today was the first time that I've given blood when the nurses didn't have to spend ten minutes trying to coax a vein to cooperate. All she had to do was tilt my arm at a slight angle and voila, she could stick the needles in me (two needles: a thin one for a mild anesthesia, so that she can slide in the thicker one that actually channels out the blood). Between that and the stress ball they had me clench and release, the blood packet was filled up in no time (i.e. five minutes). It's a new personal best.

Public service announcement

I'm going to channel Terz for a moment:


Pronounced kuh-SEE-no.

Not cash-EEE-no.

Yeah, English is weird, there are words like Asian and evasion and erasure, where si takes on a sh sound. But if we're going to be talking about the damn thing for another six months or however it takes the government to "make its decision", let's at least not sound like total rubes while we're at it.


On the 16th day of New Year

Yesterday was the 15th day of the Chinese New Year, Chap Goh Meh, and Terz's cousin had his usual orange-/apple-throwing activity at the Singapore River. It's the cousin's revival of the ancient (?) Chinese custom where unmarried men and women would toss apples and oranges respectively into a river (or some kind of flowing body of water, I guess), in the hope that the New Year would bring them a mate.

The first time I heard of it, I was like, they had apples in ancient China? Then again, maybe that's the cousin's modern adaptation; I suspect in the version I heard in school, it was only women that did the throwing of oranges. Guys, you know, didn't have to worry that they'd be left on the shelf.

Anyway, so last night found us at the river, lending moral support to all the unmarried folk the cousin had managed to gather up. Some people scribbled in black ink (names? phone numbers? sexual fantasies?) on their oranges, but I don't think that's quite kosher.

Today, the 16th day of the New Year (which means it's technically not the New Year anymore and all the dong-dong-chang music and bright red and gold decorations can go back into the closet for next year, thankyouverymuch), I find that we have the following Chinese New Year food left:
  • One box of love letters (unopened)
  • One box of pineapple tarts (unopened)
  • One box of shrimp rolls (unopened)
  • One half-eaten box of homemade cookies and pineapple tarts
  • About half a kilogram of bak kwa (from two different stores)
  • At least 10 mandarin oranges in the fridge
Die lah.


iBook --- activated.

I'm blogging from the new iBook. Whee! Who'd've thunk it --- that it would be so easy to unpack, investigate, plug in, power up and log on?

I thought the laptop battery would take longer to charge the first time, but it was raring to go after being plugged in for less than two hours, so who am I to stand in its way?

The million-dollar question now is: how much longer do I let myself play with this and rip music for the still-charging iPod, or do I be a good girl and get back to grading essays?

New topic

--- because the old one was making me sound like I had all the emotional maturity of a blueberry scone, or alternatively, that I was channelling the spirit of a self-absorbed, overwrought sixteen-year-old.

So I learned in class today --- yes, from the students --- that no one says "chao mugger" anymore. (It's a phrase used to describe a student who studies ridiculously hard, does all the extra reading, has no life apart from school, and generally has no personality either.) They still say "mugger" (from "mug", that is, to study by rote), but they stared at me blankly when I invoked "chao mugger". Needless to say, they'd never heard of "mugger toad" either.

There's nothing like being dated by the slang you use. I'm only about twelve years older than the kids I teach, but it shows, baby, it shows.

Mac-ification update:

  • Saturday morning --- iWork and iPod speakers arrived.
  • Monday afternoon --- 20GB iPod arrived. I haven't opened it because I can't fill it up with music without the new iBook. My home PC is so old, its operating system can't even run iTunes.
  • Today --- the long-awaited phone call! My iBook is finally in the store and I can pick it up today. Of course, this would happen on the day when I'm tied up at work till at least 6.30 pm, plus I still have to go home and get my receipt for the iBook first. But! It's! Here!
Now I'm psyched.


Is it Monday already?

I've had four hours of sleep, because I decided that welcoming dear friends back at the airport was more important than, well, sleep.

All I can think about as I sit at my desk is how much I want out of this job.

I feel sick to my stomach.



I've been griping a lot about my job lately, so it's only fair to acknowledge that for all its shortcomings, it also has its little perks.

For instance, by 5.15 pm on Friday, I was comfortably ensconced at Brewerkz, coasting into the weekend on a glass of sauvignon blanc. One of my imbibing companions enlightened me about the brewery's self-styled ludicrous happy hours: all pints go for $3 from 12 pm to 3 pm everyday, which is pretty darned ludicrously cheap as far as alcohol in Singapore is concerned. $3 pints, apparently, make it that much easier when it comes to grading student essays.

Of course, whether having a glass of wine before Pilates class was a smart thing to do --- I think my longsuffering instructor might have a thing or two to say about that.


Let there be water

It's raining!

Okay, so it rained for only ten minutes or so. But still! Water! Falling! From the sky! It's been too long since we've savoured that. I damn near stepped out onto the grass to dance in it. (Except that that would cement my reputation as the Princess of Planet Looneytunes.)

What's next?

Nothing much to blog about, but I didn't want the angsty post to linger at the top of the page for too long, like my inner three-year-old moppet clawing mercilessly for attention. Thanks for all the encouraging thoughts, people.

Today, I, er, didn't go to work. That's all I'll say about that.

Terz and I popped into Katong Shopping Centre in the afternoon, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was nowhere as sleazy inside as it looks on the outside. Terz was delighted to find that Morgan is still intact, although it's moved to a new shop space, and still sells plenty of military models and the like. And we found a store that reminded us of the sadly-defunct Entertainment Realty, formerly at Holland Village, although it seemed to stock mostly posters and T-shirts, not so much cool figurines and other fan paraphernalia.

It's time to go watch TV, so I leave you with this over at flights: Signs you've been in Singapore too long. Needless to say, far too much of it resonates with me.



Why am I not working for a non-profit in Santiago?
Why am I not doing my Masters or that law degree?
Why is it that when I talk to students about having dreams or conquering the world, they stare blankly back at me as if I'd just docked in from Planet Looneytunes?
Why do I envy the cat that lives by the train station?

If I had a hundred bucks for every blatant public display of affection I saw on the train tonight --- all the teenaged boys cradling pink posies while some girl leeched on to your other arm, this means you --- I'd have enough moolah to pay off my scholarship bond and put an end to this angst.


Race matters, Singapore-style

1) A Chinese calligraphy competition shall entail the participation of non-Chinese staff (I assume the rationale was to give non-Chinese staff the opportunity to get down and dirty in the celebration of a festival that's ostensibly not theirs).

2) I receive a phone call inviting me to take part in the competition, on account of my double-barrelled, maybe-she's-non-Chinese last name.

3) I point out that I studied Chinese in school for twelve years --- though if you've seen me write Chinese characters, you'd realise I wouldn't necessarily possess any competitive advantage in this exercise. Well, it seems my education background is moot in this case, so I shrug and allow myself to be dragooned into Chinese calligraphy for the first time since those messy school art classes when I was nine or ten.

4) About a half hour before the competition --- and remember that this is a tiny little thing to celebrate the New Year at work, it's not like I was representing my organisation or country on an international stage or anything --- I'm asked if I'm in fact non-Chinese or if I just married one. Okay, so my double-barrelled last name is admittedly ambiguous, but does it at all matter? I already 'fessed up that I studied the language for twelve years. For better or for worse, my answer of, "I'm non-Chinese on paper" seems to satisfy them, so a short while later ...

5) I'm on stage for the competition, with four colleagues who fit to a T the dictionary definition (at least in Singapore) of non-Chinese. Given how Chinese I look, I bet all the kids are wondering what I'm doing up here --- well, all except the class that's already heard my rant about how the government insists on pigeonholing citizens into the Chinese/Malay/Indian/Others categories with all the subtlety of a five-hundred-pound mallet.

Y'know, in other countries, deciding whether a person can participate in a competition based on their race would likely constitute a case of ethnic discrimination. In Singapore, it's par for the course.


Doing the right thing

There comes a time when you cannot put off the pain anymore, even though you know precisely how much each word will sting. When all the excuses have run out, when you can't let things go on the way they have been, when you have to look at things squarely and not dither over how you let things get this bad, this far, this fast. When you have to be an adult about it and face up to the uncomfortable reality. When you have to let all those suppressed emotions out, no matter who you hurt.

There comes a time when a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do.

And mark the entire bloody pile of homework that she's been sitting on for three weeks now.

See you later in the weekend.

2:30 pm update
Remember resolution 1: "Do not write snarky or cutting remarks in the margins, not even for the most insipid or ill-thought out of essays"? That went out the window at about 10:52 am today.

This one's for the guys

For all the guys I saw Troy with:

The Iliad, en manga

(Link via Balderdash!)

Eating through Chinese New Year

Have you ever seen these before?

Rat shell pastry (no, seriously)
Originally uploaded by Tym.

Apparently, it's a Teochew snack with a name that translates to "rat shell cake/pastry"; small wonder it's only produced once a year for the Chinese New Year season. The filling tastes like ang koo kueh, while the "rat shell" was pretty bland, like any other plastic-looking Chinese kueh staple. This overhead view made me think of rats' ears myself.

So that was the surprise food amidst the otherwise typical spread at the aunt's place: vegetarian beehoon (rice vermicelli), fried chicken wings, yam cake, pumpkin cake, bak kwa (pork jerky) and assorted New Year cookies. At grandmother's house, there was fruit and New Year cookies, some of which I felt compelled to eat since the grandmother was mildly perturbed that I'd lost weight.

On the second day of the new year, I decided to give Chinese New Year goodies a miss and finish the Cocoa Krispies instead. It occurs to me that eating Cocoa Krispies is a lot like eating chocolate-flavoured air.

However, seasonal snacking resumed over mahjong, washed down alternately by Green Spot or some kind of vodka beverage. (We should've had Malibu pineapple prepared --- that would've been the perfect thirst-quencher mid-afternoon, during the weather's baking-in-an-oven phase.) I'd had a first Green Spot the night before, shared with Terz, and even so, my teeth started to hurt when we were about two-thirds of the way through it. However, the second and third cans (shared with BoKo this time) went down more smoothly. Maybe my teeth have simply given up and caved (ha ha) in.

Proof positive of my achieving auntie-dom:
Me: Want a Green Spot?
G: You have Green Spot? Where did you get Green Spot?
Me: Sheng Siong.
G: You went to Sheng Siong? With all the aunties?
For dinner, there's nothing more traditional on a public holiday than delivery fast food. Look how Sarpino's personalised the occasion for us:

Gongxi facai from Sarpino's Pizza
Originally uploaded by Tym.

(This is not to knock Sarpino's Pizza, by the way. They're the best delivery pizza around; we've given up on all competitors ever since they started delivering to our area. If they don't deliver to your neighbourhood, then you need to move to someplace where they do.)

Today, I declined an invitation to stuff myself silly on non-Chinese New Year food at Kuishin-Bo's Japanese buffet. Instead I came home to leftovers, and will continue to detox, in preparation for my third lo hei at tomorrow night's dinner...

For all that I blog about food, notice how I never actually make any myself?

KKNB chau peng hu*

So it turns out that it is possible to squeeze two mahjong tables into an average-sized HDB room, and to have two concurrent mahjong games running. While Terz coached the beginners' table, I pondered mediocre hands and tried to salvage at least three tai out of each win (we were playing, as usual, minimum two, maximum five). More than once, we took turns asking ourselves, "What the hell are we doing?", then twisted around to consult for the beginners' table. Their most common query: "Can I win with this?" We were often wondering that about our own hands.

Final score at our non-beginners' table: Two maximum wins; while G managed to break even, BoKo did well off Kay and me.

Rematch: Good Friday, possibly at G's place. Someone please remember to bring a tape recorder, like we always say we're going to, because our mahjong table conversations are so goddamn weird.

For the record, KKNB chau peng hu was uttered maybe only three times all night, albeit with great zest. Yes, we have the collective maturity of a five-year-old.

* KKNB = kan ni na bei, which means either "fuck you" or "fucking", depending on the context, and like its English counterpart, can be used to punctuate just about any phrase. It's usually followed by chau chee bai, which then brings the entire phrase up to par with "motherfucker". Chau peng hu is a mahjong hand whose value is halved if the player draws a flower tile, rendering a "pure" peng hu hand, er, chau (smelly?). (Definition adapted from the Coxford Singlish Dictionary)


New year, new look

To celebrate the new year, I thought it'd be a good time to change my blog layout. While the black background may upset more traditional-minded Chinese readers, I think the pink links atone for that, right?

I'd originally planned to change the layout for January 1, but didn't get around to figuring out enough CSS to be able to tweak Blogger's standard templates to suit my whim and fancy. The other problem with relying on Blogger's standard templates --- and most of those on Blogskins are just too annoying --- is that all these other Blogger users whom I read are inevitably already using them. I've barely avoided looking identical to Mr Miyagi as it is.


Scenes from a reunion dinner

Tonight's reunion dinner had the impressive distinction of having been the first such dinner that was not an overeating fest. The mother-in-law usually enjoys feeding us as if we're still growing teenagers and over-orders with great zest. This year, she showed magnificent restraint and stuck to what was on the set menu --- which was in turn perfectly proportioned by the restaurant so that we had just enough of each of the nine courses, easing ourselves comfortably but not prematurely towards a quiet fullness.

However, I'm not sure the chef would have approved of the way I caked everything (except the soup, fish, glutinous rice and dessert) in chilli sauce. I usually show restraint, since the point of paying good money for food is to be able to taste the chef's brilliance, but the chilli sauce was too damn tempting! And fiery-hot too. Terz deduced that it had sesame oil in it.

In fact, I was so busy dipping everything in chilli sauce that we completely missed the little family drama at the next table. One minute, they were eating merrily; the next, an orange-shirted boy (aged ten or so) was sobbing into a gnarly tissue, his mother and younger brother had vanished from the table, and his father glowered ominously over him, looking all the more fearsome for his alcohol-reddened complexion. The boy continued sniffing, the father exited dramatically after a female relative failed to cajole him into a more even temper, then mother and brother returned, the latter looking red-eyed as well. There were no grandparents at the table, so neither boy had any hope of being sayanged (coddled) --- only sober expressions all round as relatives and cousins poked politely at the food. When the father returned a course or two later, he strode unwaveringly all the way to the restroom at the back of the restaurant, causing further discombobulation at the table.

Whatever it was the boys fought over, I hope it was worth all that Sturm und Drang.

I told Terz that if we ever have a kid and he loses his temper at it, he shouldn't get so drama at a reunion dinner. We also agreed that our kid(s) wouldn't be allowed to bring Gameboys or books to family dinners, or to dress like they'd just strolled off the tennis court.

Yeah, you know you're old when you start criticising all the kids at the other tables.

The CD the restaurant had on a loop played the usual seasonal ditties, and we caught strains of a "Jingle Bells" cover with Chinese New Year lyrics. In the car on the way home, the father-in-law had the Carpenters and other golden oldies going. The roads were as quiet as if it were already the middle of the night.

Chinese New Year auntie shopping Part 2

The irony of the matter is, despite braving Chinatown the Saturday before the New Year, I failed to buy a single thing that we needed at home for our New Year festivities. So I had to brave the supermarkets yesterday evening (which means I skipped my kickfit class, so no one can call me a fitness freak anymore).

First stop: Sheng Siong, in search of Green Spot, as tipped off by mr brown. Alas, alack, this particular outlet only had Green Spot in a can, not in the traditional bottle that I was craving for. I bought 4 cans anyway, but they won't be the centrepiece of the mahjong party on chu er (second day of the New Year).

The funny thing about Sheng Siong is that for all that it's a supermarket that caters to the masses, with a massive fresh fish section --- imagine twenty open styrofoam cases, each about waist-high and at least 4 ft x 2 ft, overflowing with various types of fresh but nevertheless dead fish --- it smelled nowhere as puke-inducing as the fish corner in the small Cold Storage supermarket that we usually frequent, which despite its paltry ten or so types of fish in a small open freezer, smells like rats gone wild.

The other funny thing about Sheng Siong is that it did not sell love letters or shrimp rolls, and its kueh bangkit didn't look too appetising. I wound up getting the former from a nearby NTUC Fairprice supermarket (it'd be a tough fight to determine which supermarket is more downmarket, but I think Sheng Siong wins by virtue of its stunning fish and butchery sections). I was going to support local small business and buy the goodies off a small, non-chain bakery, but the shopgirl wasn't too friendly and they only accepted cash, and when I asked about nearby ATMs, she waggled her hand so vaguely that she might as well not have bothered. I didn't, either. NTUC got Nets what.

And then this morning I realised that I forgot to buy bak kwa. So there was half an hour in line at Bee Cheng Hiang --- $46/kg!! --- followed by a quick swoop through Bengawan Solo for kueh bangkit. I am ashamed to admit I spent slightly longer at Watson's trying to pick out a new nail polish.

Now I'm all shopped out, the living room stockpile of goodies is all maxed out (as far as my bank account and energy levels will take us this year), and there's only waiting for the New Year to get here already.

I will refrain from indulging in any Year of the Cock reference, since calmone seems to have that covered.


The Great Chinatown Walkabout

Saturday, February 5, around 9.15 pm
Partners-in-crime: Casey, EH and ex-bosslet

We began, wisely, with an ATM/restroom stop at Chinatown Point. Miraculously, there were only two people in each ATM line and I nipped into the loo before it got crowded with children (imagine what it'd be like post-children-peeing, eeyur), so we hit the streets without much delay.

Among the things I hadn't seen at these bazaars before:

  • Muah chee --- Besides the usual, there were plenty of stalls selling a Taiwanese variety, which was basically Japanese mochi balls with various fillings: strawberry, red bean, etc. They were individually packed, like Japanese confectionery, and the standard going rate seemed to be $1.80 per 100 grams or $5.00 for 500 grams. No free samples, though.
  • Ashtrays shaped like open cigarette packs, going for $6 each --- On the other hand, while I don't mind people smoking around me, I suppose I shouldn't encourage anyone I know to continue to do so, so I don't buy smoking-related gifts (I lied politely to the lady stallholder that I'd "think about it").
  • Milk ice --- Smoothly shaved milky ice, topped with red bean or peanut. Kinda like Hawaiian shave ice, only with fewer colours/flavours and in much larger servings.
  • Decapitated lion heads --- Okay, so Casey enlightened me that they're not just selling the head part of the lion dance mask, but they've got the rest of the lion (i.e. the body fabric) tucked inside the heads. But when it's just a row of lion heads peering at you from the stallfront, it'a little creepy.
  • Yellow pomelos! --- I thought they only came in green.

Yellow pomelos
Originally uploaded by Tym.

I didn't get many (decent) pictures because we had to keep moving along with the crowd or risk being twisted aside. As for toddlers, this seemed to be the preferred mode of transport:

Not very Dash-ing
Originally uploaded by Tym.

It sure beats trying to push a stroller through the human morass.

Thankfully, despite the crowds, it was a breezy evening and the Chinatown streets were mercifully free of wet slop. Yes, there was the unmistakable Third World-esque whiff of garbage every so often, but no sweaty bodies brushed up against me and I didn't feel completely icky by the time I got home.

Buddha Tooth Relic Temple update: It turns out that the temporary structure will be replaced by a permanent five-storey palace on the same spot, as soon they raise all the money they need for it. Which just proves that every time I think Chinatown can't get any tackier or more abused, they go and think of something even more garish to add to it.

As we passed CK Department Store, EH declaimed, "That's the ah lian store." Miraculously (again), we did not get immediately beaten up.

Later, Casey and I stopped for a dim sum snack before heading home.

Dim sum shop
Originally uploaded by Tym.

As I walked home from the train station, I was newly jealous of a neighbour's Chinese New Year decor:

Originally uploaded by Tym.


While other people woke up to discover that they suddenly had 50 Gmail invitations to give away, I checked both my Gmail accounts to find that I had gone overnight from 4 to none. Wtf?

Procrastination, to the extreme!

So this weekend, I was supposed to mark two classes of literature essays and two classes of mini-current affairs-type essays. Instead, I've spent every free moment blogging and my recalcitrant computer, which of late crashes every half hour, has been mysteriously compliant by running smoothly all afternoon today, for a new record of 3.75 hours.

Maybe it heard about me getting a new iBook.

Weirdest. Junk mail. Ever.

I'll get around to blogging about my evening at Chinatown shortly. Meanwhile, look what we got in the mailbox this week:

Condoms for sale!
Originally uploaded by Tym; taken by Terz.

Feel Embarrassed to purchase condoms from outside store?
Are you bothered by People's Eyes when queuing to make your payment at the counter?


(All fomatting and misspellings are faithfully reproduced from the original.)

Personally, I've never been bothered by People's Eyes; what irks me is how much condoms cost in the first place.

I wonder: if you're too embarrassed to buy condoms at a counter --- and I mean, geez, they're sold everywhere, if you don't want your local 7-Eleven guy to track the frequency of your condom purchases, just get them from any other 24-hour convenience store --- maybe you're not ready to be having any sex either.


Observations from a cubicle (not the work kind)

At work
What I want is toilet paper that tears neatly along the perforated edge, instead of what we have, which frays every which way when you try to pull a few squares off. As if things weren't messy enough.

At Wheelock Place
The toilet roll covers are made of such shiny aluminium (do they polish them or what?) that when you turn to tear some, you get a crisp vision of your upper body sitting on a toilet bowl. Talk about a side (sight?) of yourself you hadn't seen before.

At Wine Bar
Apparently, there was a guy passed out in the guys' toilet at 10 pm last night. The girls' toilet was much more civilised --- though the line went from nothing at 10 pm, nothing at midnight, to an outrageous 7-strong after 2 am. I guess that's when everybody's bladders hit their limit.

Wah lau eh*

There is nothing more aggravating than getting all psyched up to make the big iBook/iPod/iWork purchase, getting the relevant info from Adri (who was kind enough to help even though she wasn't working today), getting myself over to Apple Centre at Wheelock Place --- only to find out that they're all out of 12" iBooks and I have to wait at least a week for one.


I hope they get stock before the entire Chinese New Year weekend's over, or it's going to be very distracting to resume work and orientate myself Macwards and try to fill a 20GB iPod all at the same time.

* A polite version of wah lan eh, which literally translates from Hokkien as "Oh, penis", but is "used much the same way as "oh my goodness", "wow", or "damn!" (definition from the Coxford Singlish Dictionary).


What a morning

I woke up early, 8 minutes before my alarm was due to ring. I thought that was a good sign, since we got back from Menotti only after midnight (more about that later) and it was my second late night in a row.

I got out of bed, did my usual sun salutation, brushed my teeth, got dressed.

Then I realised that one of the earrings I wanted to wear had snapped, so I'll have to figure out how to solder the pieces back together before I can wear them again.

Then I got something on my shirt, so I had to change it.

Then I had to get another pair of earrings, which was wedged in awkwardly where it was stored, so I couldn't slip them out in the dark and had to take the entire container out of the cupboard.

Then I couldn't find my keys for my desk at work. They seemed to have vanished from the side-pocket of my bag --- this, after I'd noticed absently yesterday that maybe the side-pocket wasn't the most secure place to store them.

Then I berated myself soundly all the way to work, because I already lost something else last week, and if I had to replace these keys as well, the school administrator was going to hate me and never trust me with anything again.

Then I got to work and the keys were --- miraculously! --- dangling from the drawer at my desk.

All better now.

Walking-home break

Of course, that's not as surprising as having a black, glossy crow swoop down into the middle of the path, the broken body of a smaller pigeon in its clutches. It proceeded thence to tear with great enthusiasm into the dead bird's breast, then cocked its head and looked up, as if the taste wasn't precisely to its satisfaction.

Overall, it ranked high on the "Surprise!" factor, but didn't really freak me out. The dead bird looked, well, well dead and the crow was as evil as they all look.

If only I'd had a cameraphone, dammit!

Marking break

In the middle of marking, I looked up at the webpage that was loading, only to be greeted by this:

microsoft ad
Originally uploaded by Tym.

A Microsoft, appearing on a page about activists at the World Social Forum who view Microsoft as "a corporate bogeyman". Now that's your advertising dollars working for ya...

(Click on the image for a larger version hosted at Flickr. I only have rudimentary Microsoft (ha!) Paint at work, so I can't do a more whizz-bang version of the image.)

Edited to add: Meanwhile, my brother noticed this blooper in Today...


An old-fashioned Chinese New Year

Originally uploaded by Tym; taken by Terz.

Ondine thinks it might be my inner auntie coming out, but I went a little crazy this year and we're the most stocked-up on Chinese New Year goodies, ever. We have, in no particular order:
  • pineapple tarts --- two boxes instead of the usual one, 'cause like I said, I went crazy;
  • love letters, half of which I've eaten already;
  • kok zai aka peanut puffs, made by my mom! Just the way I like it;
  • red bean rolls, the greatest invention since maple creme cookies;
  • prawn rolls, Terz's choice; it's a little too giam (salty) for my taste;
  • kueh bangkit, also for Terz's benefit; I've never developed a taste for it.
I was actually thinking of getting more food 'cause friends are coming over on the second day of the New Year to mahjong. Besides stockpiling more of the above, I'm thinking I need to get some serious 'traditional' local fare, like F&N Orange Crush and Van Houten's chocolates (especially the mixed nuts variety). It's just not Chinese New Year unless you've had enough orange-flavored fructose syrup to make your teeth squeak.