Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Twin cities of Singapore


I found this map on Google Analytics and it tickled me funny. The map shows the number of hits that come from Singapore. In this case, 38. And when the Singapore hyperlink is clicked on, it breaks it down into 37 PLUS 1.

The big orange dot in the middle is where the 37 hits are centred. Then if you look carefully up north, there's a tiny dot there. That's the one. Run the cursor over it and it tells you it's a different city and that city is Woodlands.

So, Google Analytics reads Singapore and Woodlands as different cities. Sengkang and Punggol are ok. So's Jurong West. It's just Woodlands.

I have friends who live in Woodlands and they affectionately call themselves residents of Northern Siberia. Olie quips that they are self sufficient and they actually have a Starbucks and a post office.

I couldn't live there. It's too far from anything. And even though it's a self-contained bubble, it feels like a long commute to head into the other city of Singapore where everyone else lives. I wonder if they have their own area code. :)

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Ondine tossed this thought in at 22:48

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Monday, May 25, 2009

SPUR- Skills Programme for Upgrading and Resilience

I've been quiet lately because my head has been filling with an entirely new library of information. Perhaps it's my way of subconsciously obeying the government and upgrading myself as they have been nagging Singaporeans to do, especially in this time and age. Perhaps, but unlikely. When have I ever listened to what anyone has told me to do?

Anyway, in the last week, I've learnt terms like web hosting, domains, name servers, HTML coding, the importance of , pathways and locations, FTPs and SSLs. I've also learnt that people who know this with their eyes closed should be paid whatever money they charge because at times, I thought I would go blind and or crazy and chuck a hissy fit. Especially after the nth time a messages pops up and tells me that I've failed in whatever I was attempting to do.

So why am I subjecting myself to this? Something I was obviously not born to do. I hate anything logical, math/ science and non-human based. I hate things that are not pretty. So why? Because I've got it into my head that I, of all people, would like to set up a website from scratch. Well, not really from scratch but close enough. It wasn't like I could just use a template from Blogger like I did with this and my other blog. There was a template but it required much input on my part and that was the part that has kept me busy and annoyed for the better part of the week.

But at the same time, it promises to be fun, exciting and a new adventure. Stay tuned and I'll let you know once it's up and running!

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Ondine tossed this thought in at 07:15

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Sunday, May 24, 2009

Dreaming of sandwiches?

When I climbed back into the bed about 4.30 am this morning, Packrat rolled over in his sleep and wrapped his arms round me. How nice, I thought, as I slowly drifted back to sleep. Only to have him whisper urgently into my ear. I strained, thinking perhaps he was trying to be frisky despite all other signs of being extremely unawake pointing away from it.

Packrat: It's very important. We have work to do.
Me (puzzled and wondering what weird ass dream he was having): What work?
Packrat: We have homework.
Me (Man! Is this a school dream? All ideas of frisk definitely jumping ship): Homework?
Packrat: Yes, sandwich homework.
Me (Obviously, the husband's subconscious is of the bizarro but determined to make full use of it): Sandwich homework? Peanut butter and jelly? Kaya? Or Nutella?
Packrat: All.
Me: We better start cracking them.
Packrat: Eggs.

Right. Obviously not a conversation worth pursuing. But it sure made me hungry and awake enough to chuckle at 5 in the morning.

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Ondine tossed this thought in at 08:55

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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Money minds

My six months of sabbatical are almost up. That means I have to decide whether to go back to work soon. The issues are typical. Money (Tangible, materialistic) vs quality time and quality of life (intangible, soul-enriching). I'm quite a control person. I like things within my control. When I saw our bank statements and the realisation of how this dream of being a Stay-At-Home-Mom was seriously hemorrhaging our savings, Little Miss Control Freak panicked.

Did I need to go back to teaching? Packrat pointed out that I was a much nicer person and a much better mom while I have lived the life of a non-teacher. But can we afford for me to be a non-teacher for much longer? Then there is the whole larger picture of perhaps I should find something I really want to do with my life and start working towards that. Problem? I don't particularly know what I want to do with my life. A simpler proposal was just to be a good mom for these couple of years and be there for the kids while they are at their most sponge-like times (i.e. now) and make the best out of it, for them and for myself. I like the third option best but I'm realistic enough to know I can't make it work if I'm not earning an income. And I'm realistic enough to know that with play school fees, car and house payments as well as helper salary and levy, we can't live on one civil servant's salary unless that was a Superscale salary and Packrat laugh hysterically at that thought.

So what am I left to do? Sell my soul and return to something that makes in inherently unhappy but allows me to provide financially for my family? The very pragmatic in society will tell me with a sigh that young people nowadays want everything. Good paying salaries for jobs they enjoy and that is a pipe dream. I should suck it up, just like our parents did for us.

But I also know enough to question what is the point of being able to make enough if that is going towards sending the kids to full day play school because Mom isn't home when they wake from their naps in the afternoon? And what is the point of buying them a whole ton of toys and books if Mom isn't there to play it with them and read it to them? Even now, sometimes, I leave them to their own devices or their other caregivers while I sneak in some chill time or some work time and those times, I feel guilty as hell because I haven't really reconciled the fact that a good mother doesn't need to spend every breathing moment doing something with her kids.

Packrat's final words on the subject however were reassuring. We have enough savings for a while yet. And I'm not squandering it on the new season Kate Spades and at the spa. I'm using it so that I can be with the kids. And that to him is the definition of good and responsible stewardship of money. Now, I can't argue with that logic and the rest of it, in his opinion will sort itself out.

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Ondine tossed this thought in at 18:11

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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Egging the eye

Updated as of 2137 hrs 13 May 2009

I hate eye make-up and eye make-up hates me. It doesn't matter that my mother says I have nice Peranakan eyes (whatever those are!) that are great canvases for eye make-up. Every time I put on eye make-up something bad happens.

On Friday I had to because I had a photo shoot and it required mascara and eye shadow. Eye shadow is the lesser of the two evils so I use that a tad bit more often. But mascara. I think it's got something to do with sensitive tear ducts and whatever other lubricant producing pores I have in my eye.

Anyway, on Sunday night through the night, I began to increasingly feel like either something had bitten me on the eye or someone imaginary had hit me hard in the eye. There was the tell tale bruised feeling as well as a red-rimmed lid. The doctor subsequently confirmed that one of my tear ducts had gotten blocked and was therefore infected. The cure was simple. Compress and antibiotic ointment.

The problem was after the antibiotic ointment, the swelling looked worse. I now looked like Rocky Balboa after he'd fought the Russian Dolph Lundgren and it itched! Turns out, my penchant for antibiotic allergies applies to ointment too and my eye really didn't like the ointment much. All that was left to do was to try and alleviate the swelling with compress.

Anyone who has kids or has had sport injuries knows that compress in the form of a wet towel whether cold or hot is ineffective. It loses its heat or coolness too quickly. When I was breastfeeding and had mastisis, the best heat compress came in the form of a milk bottle filled with hot water because it was cylindrical and I could roll it. I needed the same thing for the eye and was advised to try a hard boiled egg. Not because it will seep the toxins from the eye as some believe but because it is soft, can be rolled around and traps heat well.

Of course, Olie was plenty grossed out especially because I said that it was nice to be able to eat my remedy after I was done with it. But hey, at least, I hadn't put a raw steak on my eye which was supposed to have even better healing properties.

I have however, admitted that the egg can only take it that far and am going back to the doctor to possibly get a jab to reduce the swelling and the itchiness. It's not a nice prospect but it sure beats feeling self conscious, unglamourous and paranoid that everyone thinks I am full of infectious germs.


I sent the above picture of my eye to my doctor brother and his immediate message was "Go to the GP, get a shot". This coming from my brother, who was trained by the "take Panadol" school of medicine, was enough to send me running straight to the clinic.

What ensued was the most painful procedure of my life. This coming from someone who has had 4 wisdom teeth extracted in one sitting, corrective eye surgery (Not LASIK), a laparoscopy, several surgeries in the name of having the kids including the C-section and NONE of them came close to the pain I felt today. It turned out that infected duct was in infected in two different places and it was in dire need of draining. This was done with a hypodermic needle and antiseptic eyedrops. Apparently, it was like trying to drain a pimple except the skin surface on the underneath of the eyelid is a lot more sensitive than the skin on the surface of our skin. So, the pain was unparalleled to anything I have ever felt before and tears were just involuntarily streaming down my face. The doctor, however credits me with an extremely high pain threshold because I didn't even move through the whole thing. Of course by that point, I was like "I'll tell you the nuclear weapon codes, just make it stop!" No need waterboarding or whatever else the CIA could think of to elicit false information.

It's over now but the pain required some Nurofen as well as an antihistamine to knock me out cold. Now, I'm just going to be either mistaken for thinking pink eyeliner is in for the next week or Packrat's going to get hauled up on 'suspected wife-beater' charges.

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Ondine tossed this thought in at 08:25

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Saturday, May 02, 2009

School before self

As I write, I'm sure the riot police are donning their full riot gear and headed down to Suntec City. These riot police are probably muttering under their breath about women and their petty whatevers and making them burn their weekend.

Why am I not at Suntec? Why am I not making my vote count to get rid of the Bible-bashing women activists? Well, if I were a member of AWARE before this clown show started, I would but for me to join up now would be just replicating what this new bunch did and endorsing their way of making themselves heard. And much as I want them to go back to church, I don't want to use their weapon of choice.

In the last week, the impact of Josie and her pussycats have hit home. It's made me think about where I stand as a parent and where I stand as a teacher and a larger member of society. As a parent, of course I worry that my kids get taught things in school that are not in accordance to the values that I hold true and wish to raise my children with. Of course, as a parent, I fear that my children will be sexually groomed in some way (either homosexually or heterosexually) and we don't find out about it till it is too late. But are these fears sufficient enough to warrant a dial back to the days of yore where children got stoned at the city gates for disobeying their parents?

If I gave in to these fears and concerns and allow this new bunch of people to use a secular organization as their scare-mongering, bully pulpit, I would also be allowing them to restrict what we can teach in school. As is, schools have been targeted for teaching gender issues in an impartial manner, which is to say that we teach students that alternative sexuality exists and that these are people who face struggles, some of which are similar to what heterosexuals face and others which are harder to fight because they are born out of discrimination and prejudices. We do not teach them that it is right to be gay but we teach them not to judge those who decide to be gay. Why do we do this?

Because our responsibility is to teach them to see things in an impartial manner whatever the issue. We teach them that they can take a passionate stand but they must also be able to see where the other side is coming from. And only in that way can they make a coherent argument. The students that excel in my subject are the ones that are able to articulate a mature argument about any given subject, sexuality and gender issues included. This means they need to be aware of all the arguments. Be aware of all the controversies and be able to make sense out of it. How are they to do that if the day comes when we are not allowed to teach them some arguments because it offends the sensitivities of a powerful some who have generalised their views as the right view to take?

It has begun in schools. Emails have been circulated. Aghast emails about what is taught in the classroom, outrage that we dare to expose kids who are about old enough to serve the nation and die for the nation to alternative lifestyles and the likes. This slippery slope is an extremely steep one and the end will come fast and quick. And when it comes, these yokos better not blame us for sending their darlings into the exam with nothing in the pretty heads because that's what's going to happen. Censor gender issues, next will be abortion, euthanasia, gambling, stem-cell research, terrorism and it goes on and on till there's nothing left.

By then, we'll be out of a job although by then, all the money in the world wouldn't be able to keep us from staying on. It really wouldn't be what we signed up for when we decided that teaching was our vocation. And that's where it will head with Josie and her pussycats. And that's why, even though I am a parent first and a teacher second, I'm putting my foot down.

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Ondine tossed this thought in at 13:43

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" Far in the stillness, a cat languishes loudly"