Thursday, March 30, 2006

It's all about context

When one's term of indentured servitude is almost up, the preferred way of luring one to continue in such a manner is to throw a little bit more money at the slave (even though I know, slaves in the strictest sense are not paid at all), enticing the slave that staying in such service is worth while.

So that's what's been happening. And at the same time, people around me are getting pregnant by blinking. Olie talked about it as well. It's a common phenomenon with it happening in droves. The higher ups would like to think it's because of them and their wonderful baby bonus scheme but who really knows?

Such news, regardless of how you really feel about it, is always to be met with a hearty congratulatory cheer. It's a strange thing to say, seeing that you're congratulating someone for achieving something that much of the time, they have very little control over. It's like saying "I'm sorry" to someone who has just lost a loved one. It sounds superficial and platitudinal. But that's done and I've been saying "Congratulations" to people so often these days that the word holds little other meaning today.

Yesterday and today, I've been offered a whole lot of congratulatory messages. Because it was announced yesterday that my term of service is almost up and they're throwing, like another 5 cents at me to convince me that what I'm doing now is well worth it. And everytime someone came up to me to congratulate me, my first reaction after thanking them, was a furrowed brow and a big question bubble forms..." I'm pregnant?". It takes about 2 seconds to switch contexts and realise they were congratulating me for something else.

But it's been funny. I kept thinking that it's slipped my mind that I'm pregnant and I must really be tired to forget something so important before I realise it's a slight case of transference and I'm really not pregnant. It's just that so many of the people I hang out with are and it's really all a matter of code switching.

Must switch faster today before I agree to K's offer to get a huge discount off Gap's maternity line.

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Ondine tossed this thought in at 08:05

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Monday, March 27, 2006

Yellow yellow dirty fellow

I got this off from Olie's blog and I wanted to see my blue-ness who come through in a colour test. Apparently, the sallow yellow-ness of my name comes through more clearly.


You are very perceptive and smart. You are clear and to the point and have a great sense of humor. You are always learning and searching for understanding.

Find out your color at Quiz Me!

For those who need it spelt out for them, Yellow in Chinese is huang, which is the Chinese translation of my surname.

Ondine tossed this thought in at 08:23

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Saturday, March 25, 2006

Call Police!

When I was in college, the song that best described the state of affairs in school was the song Every Breath You Take by the Police. Even though my college prided itself in not having a rule book, we liked to believe we were living under a little totalitarian dictator. People got hauled into her office because they were going out with one another, not making out, just going out. Their parents got hauled in too and were lectured on how they were bad parents because they didn't put a stop to the dating that was happening. She knew everything that went on in the school. She even knew that I didn't sit for my end of year exams because I had some strange virus that hit my brain- my classmates affectionately named it Brain Rot. So because she seemed to be omnipotent and omnipresent, and because we thought we were a clever bunch- we would dedicate this song to her every time we had an opportunity.

Every breath you take
Every move you make
Every bond you break
Every step you take
I'll be watching you

Every single day
Every word you say
Every game you play
Every night you stay
I'll be watching you

After all, we were upstart snotty Humanities scholars who thought we were so cool because we were anti-establishment, knew what totalitarianism meant and thought PC's (Practical Criticism) sole purpose was so that we could be clever like that . We also thought we were the coolest thing in the world because our choice of words for vandalism went along the lines of "antidisestablishmentarianism rocks!". Of course, on hindsight , I think we were just plain idiots.

Anyway, I was reminded of the song yesterday when we were at the travel fair. WMD was there giving out flyers to the visitors at the travel fair. They were part of a move to try to stop child sex tourism in the region. A move I heartily support! Men who go away to have sex with young girls and pay premiums on their supposed virginity just so that they can prove their virility ought to be strung up, by their balls and other incriminating appendages.

The minute we stepped into the fair, we were inundated with flyers, mostly price sheets for holiday destinations. But among them was this one yellow flyer.

Child sex

It was bright and it was eye-catching. Unfortunately, I think it must have been a rushed job, from the copywriter to the ad agency to MCYS because if you glanced at it very quickly, the words that stood out were "TO HAVE SEX WITH CHILDREN" and if you read it in the context of all the extra curricular things you could do with a phone camera, the line "EVERYONE WILL BE WATCHING" would take on a whole different meaning. And either way, it wasn't very good.

Gai had volunteered to help distribute these flyers and we told her to go stand near the counters selling holidays to Thailand and Indonesia and purposely shove it in the hands of men who even slowed down to consider making a query at the booth. But that didn't work so well. Apparently, people shyed away from the flyers because they had actually taken a quick look at it and thought it was from a travel agency with adult tours. Some denied that they would ever be interested. Some scolded her for promoting such a thing! Others were just ignorant. Women asked stupidly "why are you giving it to me?". Er, if you don't know the answer than you're adding to the problem too, missy!

The intention behind it was good. Really. I think the proposed legislation- to be able to prosecute these men who help support the trade's existence- is a few years too late. But better now than never. And this is one of those things that I'm going to constantly use my soap box to expound. As long as my kids hear what I'm saying and take it along with them when they graduate, my job is done. The campaign in Singapore, it just needs re-looking and quite a bit of reworking. Perhaps Tym, who spent the earlier months of this year doing some copy work, could come up with a better one. Haha... kena arrow!

N.B. For those who are able to read into the real meaning of the flyer and really want to help and find out what they can do to stop child sex tourism, this is quite useful.

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Ondine tossed this thought in at 22:59

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Thursday, March 23, 2006

Ten to the power of....

Apparently, the Russians drink 4 000 000 000 litres of vodka a year.

I found this out from the front page of the travel fair pull out today. I can't count it, but I know it's a lot. I think that's more people than Singapore has. I know it's not very good vodka, but I'm think in terms of Absolut bottles. That would be, according to the math people around me, 4 billion bottles. Gee, that's four times more bottles than there are people in China. A year.

And on a related topic, I discovered that my neighbourhood steak house Fosters, serves Ribena Vodka for $9.50. That got me thinking. I have Ribena and I have vodka. It's time to have some Ribena Vodka, for less than $9.50. Yay.

Once I've had enough of that, I can quite happily look for tickets to Perth. We need to step onto Australian soil and get our passports stamped, now that we have different visas. We could go to Darwin, but really why would we? I'm envious. People around me are going to more interesting places and I would give anything to go to any one of those, Mauritius, New York, Paris, one of those long non Star Cruise cruises. Not Perth, but oh well.

At least it's still a holiday and I shouldn't be complaining. And after all that ribena vodka, I don't think I would be. Weeeeeeeeeee...........

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Ondine tossed this thought in at 15:24

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Wednesday, March 22, 2006


I've finally cleared my backlog of grading papers. It's taken a lot of endurance and patience to get through some of the work. Some parts of the paper take more out of me than other parts. Sometimes, I grade in ones. Usually essays. After every essay, I do something. More often than not, it's playing one level of Bookworm. I realised I was extremely out of it when I couldn't find a single word in the jumble. Other pieces of work, I go through the entire level of a single question before I stop, or I do it in sets of five. Manageable. But whatever my tactic is, I always need a distraction in between. This afternoon, after finishing an entire class of extended applied writing, I needed to do something. I was tired of Bookworm. It had to involve me, moving away from my desk- right up to about ten minutes ago- my ball and chain.

So I baked. I baked 6 apple raisin oat muffins. There was something about the cracking of the eggs, the mixing of the flours and the stirring of the fruit that reset my equilibrium and gave me wings to go on. And the bonus is, I've made breakfast for tomorrow and it promises to be yummy.

Packrat , on the other hand, does not back. Instead, he comes home and fires up Clover* and enters into his doppel land where he is a she named Tylis with what we would possibly call in the real world, platinum blonde hair with bad green chlorine dyed ends and is an Elven Rogue with a white kitten rather creatively named White Kitten.


Some one else I know does it by rudimentary attempts at bodyart and possibly staining her socks after that. Her other foot was so decorated as well, but I figured it would be wise to keep her identity anonymous lest she flings the real rugby ball my direction and I end up, in the real world, with a bloody mess of a nose.


So we all deal in different ways. And since my mind hates being idle, apparently a great flaw in my design and I'm possibly a sucker for punishment, I'm plotting how to inflict more work on my kids and by extension of that, inflicting a sort of corporal mortification upon myself. But I think, I'll put that on the backburner for now and let it simmer and fester into something bigger. Tonight, I am done. I am pleased. I will rest.

*Clover- His game laptop that weighs a ton and is carried around lovingly in a specially made Crumpler bag with crosshairs on it.

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Ondine tossed this thought in at 21:28

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Sunday, March 19, 2006

Superhero Girl

Anyone who's been to our house would know that we collect television series and we think Buffy used to rock! And then there was all this network crap and Buffy got all weird in the tussle. Angel too. Packrat and YM remained a little bit more loyal than I did. Afterall, I was a late starter with Buffy, so the loyalties didn't lie as strong.

They were strong enough however, to think it a cool idea to have the Buffy and Angel standees be part of the living room decor. We bought Buffy on our honeymoon and Angel a year later. The point of buying Angel was to keep Buffy company, but when we put them together, true to themselves, Buffy knocked Angel down. Everyday, while we were out. And we would have to come home to a bent out of shape Angel, flat on his face. Eventually we decided, they were better off permanently apart.. Strange how reality mimicked art there.

Anyway, there is no more Buffy to be watched. We tried some other Super hero girl type shows like Tru Calling and even Joan of Arcadia (even though she was just a regular girl with the inordinate gift of being able to talk to God) but thanks to the whole horrid-spit spit-annoying- Apprentice-Survivor- The Contender type-cheap to make- reality tv series, both series were axed in the middle of Season Two. Tru Calling seemed a natural extension of Buffy since it was Eliza Dishku sans deranged, psychotic killer Slayer persona. Unfortunately, she could relive days and save the dead from dying, but not her own television show. Same with Joan. She could talk to God, but not the network executives. So the two were short term loves of ours and we often felt incredibly cheated and love lorn after they axed them and left an empty hole in our Tuesday evening television schedule.

We even tried to replace Buffy with Sidney. Sidney Bristow, the CIA operative who looked good and always seemed to get out of situations even though she wasn't as deft with her fingers as MacGyver was. That was ok until it got so weird and so whiny that watching a daytime soap was better than watching Alias. And on top of that, some important person dies in the show and one wonders how the network figured that was a good idea at the time.

In a nutshell, our lives have been devoid of a superhero girl for a while. And in Melbourne last year and at a friend's house this year, we flirted with a new love. True attraction was only borne after we found her in Patpong- the red light district of Bangkok. While I was busily trying to sneak a peak into one of those girly bars, Packrat discovered her and bargained her down to an affordable price. Afterall, this wasn't the real thing. It was a pretty good copy of the real thing, but not the real thing. And even then, the magnetism was amazing.

We just spent the whole afternoon getting to know Veronica Mars. Our new superhero girl. She doesn't have super strength like Buffy, nor does she have a divine hotline to God. She doesn't even have all the interesting disguises of Sidney, but she's one interesting broad to get to know. She's a little bit like Nancy Drew, sans the strawberry blond hair and the mysterious guy friend called Ned and she's smart, got a little bit of a Scooby gang going for her and trying not to let her best friend's murder and her mom's disappearance screw her up too badly. And the good thing is, she's made it past the middle of Season Two, so there is some hope that this will be a fruitful affair.

Now, to savour the time we have with her since we're going through Season 1 so quickly and it's unlikely that we're going to get Season 2 anytime soon since it's still airing in the U.S. Now to shower and climb into bed with the next episode of Veronica Mars.

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Ondine tossed this thought in at 00:28

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Thursday, March 16, 2006


On our way to the airport, Packrat and I were playing this game. We were each to name our best and worst moments. This is what happens when you trust the guy driving and you don't have to worry about what was on the meter.

Best Moment for Packrat
The Banyan Tree Spa

Best Moment for Me
Discovering little toys on the bed after housekeeping had unobtrusively come in to turn down the bed.

Best Buy for Packrat
Another Zippo lighter.

Best Buy for Me
A T-shirt with patchwork stitched all over for like SGD$5

Most Surreal Moment for Packrat
Standing up as a sign of respect to the King of Thailand before the start of a movie and in a very close second place, watching Fearless in Thai.

Most Surreal Moment for Me
Being shown a menu for Ping Pong Girls and other interesting and acrobatically trained girls.

Epiphany for Packrat
The Bangkok sky train system isn't crappy and anything like the Monorail system in KL.

Epiphany for Me
Paying 20 Baht to feed an elephant after realising that elephants cost a whole lot to upkeep and by doing that, you prevent the animal from starving. 20 Baht is less than SGD $0.50.

Why Packrat would stay in Bangkok
Because he could get this at the market anytime he wanted to. By the hunks!

Meat Paradise

Why I would stay in Bangkok
Because I could have a driver at my disposal to take me to the market to buy cheap but wonderful spoils like flower lamps!

Fairy lights

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Ondine tossed this thought in at 00:34

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Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Living the High Life

We resume regular programming now that we're back from a weekend soujourn to the extremely hot and humid Asian capital of Bangkok where we led almost doppel-lives. Here in Singapore, we live on the tenth floor of public housing and drive a second hand car because we cannot afford anything more.

But for the last 5 days, we lived like kings in Bangkok. Ok, one must discount the fact that we flew budget. But then again, no one ever flies full fare to these destinations anymore, it's just not done. Anyhow, once we got in, we were met by my Uncle's driver. I half expected him to be holding a sign that announced that he was waiting for Mr and Mrs D Tan.

And that was just the beginning. My uncle who lives there made sure we ate like kings. The drink of choice at dinner was either 12 year old Scotch or Johnnie Walker Green Label which I just found out is 15 year old Scotch. Of course, the moment that made everyone gasp in horror was when the waiter thought the whiskey glass was a glass half full of chinese tea and was ready to top it up. With Chinese tea.

And the food! Every night, we ate like there was no tomorrow. There was much much beef, enough to put together a cow. There was tongue of duck, web of goose, leg of frog and trotter of pig.

That was just the food. The accomodation as well. We opted not to stay in the middle of the shopping district. We chose embassy row instead, slightly outside the shopping areas, but the best hotel we've stayed in, bar none. We were swept off by a guest officer right up to our room where she proceeded to check us in, in the suite itself that had a bed sprinkled with rose petals and a rose bouquet for me and a table of fingerfoods complete with a bottle of wine.

IMG_0022 IMG_0019

Service was just wonderful. I claimed that it was this way because the hotel chain was Singapore owned, but much of it had to do with the ambience that it created as well. At breakfast, we sat by a waterfall with ducks that either chased one another up and down or stared quite longingly through the glass at us, hoping we would feed them. For drinks there was Vertigo, the open air bar on the 62nd floor of the hotel.


Problem is, we were only kept in by glass panelling.


That made our toes curl and kept us from going near the edge since we were on the 62nd floor and it was a tad windy and neither of us had a death wish of sorts. It was a beautfiul view and I must say, pollution does give the photographs a nice rough feel to it.

And since we were 62 floors up higher than we usually are, the moon looked a whole lot closer. The only thing was, there was a lot of cloud movement and this was the best photograph I could take.

Shooting at the sky

It was extremely fun just shooting at the sky. It wasn't like the moon was going to move or anything. The clouds did a lot of that, but the moon was a good solid object to shoot.

Throw in a spa experience in a private suite complete with shower facilities, a couch and a view and it sure makes one idyllic holiday. Add to that, a driver at our disposal, sitting in the back seat of a Mercedes with someone opening the door for you everytime it stops, it's easy to understand why people are seduced by this life.

I was.

But now, I'm back in reality, doing the laundry from the last four days and picking up after my dear Packrat since I don't have a housekeeping crew that comes in every morning to do it for me.

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Ondine tossed this thought in at 23:05

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Thursday, March 09, 2006

G'day All!

Finally, after 2 long years of paper work, countless tests (physical and otherwise), we are now proud Permanent Residents of the country of Van Nguyen, Pauline Henson, Cronulla Beach and all wonderful things Australian!

Now to plot the holiday to get our visas stamped. Woohoo!

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Ondine tossed this thought in at 14:02

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Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Blown Lightbulbs

That just about desribes the state of mind that I am in now. There's the usual end of term rush of papers to grade. To date, there are still about 95 scripts to grade, 2 testimonials to write, a publication to get out there, some work appraisal stuff that is unavoidable. Throw into that, a partridge in the pear tree and it's one mindblowing concoction.

But literally speaking, there are blown lightbulbs in my house. In the plural. Our bathroom light's been on the fritz for a while. Times like that, I wish my husband took woodwork and tech classes instead of art. Anyway, that's been that way for a while. It's the guest bathroom so whenever we have guests, I light candles in there. Easy to get over. Last night though, we discovered that the main living area light had blown too. And that was two light tubes that went "Poof". It was a good thing my brother came by last night, because he was able to do what Packrat couldn't- dismantle the light tubes from the wires.

Problem is, that wasn't the end of that. In an attempt to reduce that pile of papers to grade, I got myself out of bed at 5 this morning and try and squeeze in an hour of marking. 5 am. The entire house is in darkness and total silence. I struggle to get my desk lamp switched on and after a nanosecond flash of light, there is a loud "pop". And it wasn't because Dumbledore was in the area or something. It was my desk lamp blowing a fuse as well.

I swear, it's a conspiracy. It's blowing my brains.

Ondine tossed this thought in at 12:08

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Friday, March 03, 2006

Shooting Hoops?

I walked into the washroom this morning and saw this.

Shooting Hoops

I know stress levels in school, especially this week have been very high, but I really don't know what to make of this. Shooting hoops from the throne? Shooting hoops into the throne? Who knows?


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Ondine tossed this thought in at 09:25

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" Far in the stillness, a cat languishes loudly"