Sunday, September 28, 2008

Presenting Eve

Presenting my new toy- Eve

I haven't had all that much time to tinker around with it but I like knowing that it's there.

Things I like about it.
1. It's pretty.
2. My chat platform is a little duck that flaps its wings when messages comes in and has its eyes closed when I am offline.
3. It lets me do groovy things with my photographs.
4. I like the interface although when I go to work and use my PC laptop at work, I am momentarily confused.

Things I don't like about it.
1. Sometimes I lose things I minimise because I have no idea where they get minimised to.
2. When I tried to stick a weather thing on my Dashboard, it would tell me the weather for Key Largo and immediately the Kokomo song comes to my mind and I'm still stuck for the weather in Singapore although it's never anything of interest. Give me a day when the weather goes below 20 and I'll be pleased as punch.
3. I can't isync it to my Nokia 6220.
4. I haven't figured out how to bring work to and fro because it shows up here but not at work. Although that makes the leaving work at work situation much more realistic to do.
5. I am 3 grand and a bit poorer.

But, isn't it so pretty? :)

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Ondine tossed this thought in at 01:12

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Sunday, September 21, 2008

Pepsi or Coke

The world is pretty neatly divided into two. People who like Coke and People who like Pepsi. People who like Obama and people who like McCain. People who like Survivor and people who like Amazing Race. People who like Original and people who like Crispy.

In Singapore, there is yet another clear division that cuts right through race, age and income. It's people who like Botak Jones and those who like Aston's. They sell pretty much the same thing. They run on the same concept. Cheap American styled diner food in the heartlands and in coffee shops. We discovered Botak Jones when I was pregnant and in dire need of French Fries. Strangely, it was the only thing that I could stomach and the Botak Jones fries did it for me because they were fat and seasoned with chicken salt which sounds terribly unhealthy and most definitely is but when nothing can be kept down, whatever works is good.

So, Botak's got good associations. Packrat loves it because at round the same time, the manager of the outlet we went to came up and told him about their Christmas menu which included Deep Fried Southern Turkey, Gammon ham cooked in whiskey and goodness knows what else. Packrat couldn't stop thinking about it and even though we didn't have it that year (the upchucking took precedence) we had it a year later and there was much joy all around.

Anyway, recently, we discovered Aston's, just down the road from where we live. We thought perhaps it would be a worthwhile alternative to Botak, just for variety's sake and it was indeed closer than our nearest Botak. On top of that, there was a burger that our friend B wanted to take out for a test drive. While waiting for him, we decided to do a test run of our own.

Problem is that's where our hopes and dreams died. Here is how Aston's failed.

  1. We waited 45 minutes for a take out order. At Botak, sometimes that happens too but we get apologies and once a food voucher to compensate for the wait.
  2. They got our order wrong. How difficult is it to NOT butter the corn?
  3. Their fries, while seasoned like Botak, were shoestring fries and hard. Even though I'm not pregnant and therefore less fussy, it still did not make it for me.
  4. Their grilled fish, there's no comparison at Botak because the fish there is all fried in batter, tasted rubbery and raw even though Packrat swears blind that it was cooked and I believe him. It just tasted that bad.
  5. The service sucked. Botak has got peppy, generally well spoken wait staff. Aston's had sullen servers who could hardly speak English.
So, I think it's clear to us which we prefer and where we're going when we want diner food next.

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Ondine tossed this thought in at 20:55

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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Trust, a many splendored thing

When people talk about trust, it's usually to do with relationships that they are in or with people that they are close to. I've never really had a problem with trust though at heart, I'm a pretty insecure person especially when it comes to people that mean something to me. I've always been afraid of losing those who are close to me and there have been times when it's happened through some sort of betrayal. That's when my heart breaks and I've been fucked with. And even though at that point in time, it feels like a big deal, things have always gotten better from that point and in all the cases, a silver lining always materialised.

What I've been through the last few days has however, caused all these previous experiences to feel like child's play. All my previous experiences had to do with my feelings being screwed around with, and the fall out I had to deal with was up to me to temper. But this time, the fall out affects those who are dear to me and this makes it an even more intense betrayal. And it's difficult to be rational.

It sounds overly dramatic but it really feels like it's along the lines of having lost faith in humanity. Up till this point, I had never understood why some people who employed house help were paranoid about them. When I needed to hire help, I followed my mother's example. Treat them well, treat them as equals. Provide for them and always be reasonable. In fact, be kind to them. So, I was. It wasn't so much the case of giving her more autonomy than she deserved, but according her respect and trusting her because she was after all, a matured, grown person with kids of her own.

Who knew that maturity was such a relative concept? (Please don't be snarky here) Who knew that according basic respect and trust could lead to so much betrayal and problems? Who knew that those we thought were cruel were actually the ones who might have gotten it right? Who knew that trying to be as close to not violating human rights as possible was going to be our downfall?

So, because we tried to be good people, we allowed for a feud to brew in our backyard, literally, to epic proportions with tinges of Fatal Attraction meets Godfather in it and the scariest part was to have my pre-verbal twins caught in the middle of it all. Even in our response, we were punished.

An employer has every right to buy a plane ticket to repatriate the help and only inform her hours before. The rationale behind it, inform the help any earlier and it gives her the opportunity to escape or retaliate. Any decent human being would feel wracked with guilt for giving such short notice. In fact, such treatment seems unfair and harsh. But it was the way we were instructed to do it.

Much of this guilt came from the fact that repatriation was involuntary and these girls were out here to etch out a living for themselves and their families. And for us to think that we might be depriving people of enough currency to pay for electricity and water just did not sit well for us. In fact it caused us to lose quite a bit of sleep and for me, some weight as well.

But the problem was that our frames of references were different as night and day. Where we felt guilt, nonchalance was dujour. Where we felt that we were at wits end and this was the only way we could end the hissing and call off the attack dogs, they just saw it as a minor hiccup they would overcome. Where we thought we were condemning them by cancelling their work passes, they saw it as an opportunity to go to places more exotic. And where we thought we were being merciful by giving them a second chance, there was no remorse and there was no sense of being contrite.

At the end of the day, the worst has blown over but there's a terrible after taste in my mouth that I don't really know how to get rid off. It's made worse by the realisation that it really is not much of a point being a bleeding heart No doubt we've promised a clean slate and a second chance, but there's something painfully missing from the entire equation on my part. Trust. The thing lost that is never to be found.

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Ondine tossed this thought in at 09:55

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Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Three blind mice

There is something rotting in the state of Denmark...

Well, not actually but it sure is happening in my office. It has been discovered that we have a rat. Not the political backstabbing type that goes and tells your boss that you're sleeping or IMing and Facebooking instead of working but the real kind that was responsible for more deaths than World War One itself, is ugly, giant salmon mutant sized and has a sonic squeal pitch that makes me want to drag fingernails over chalk board so that I can cringe over something else.

And this rat, apparently, is purported to be as intelligent as the students that populate the school. It has evaded all attempts to capture it and it eats our food. That's not surprisingly until it is discovered that the rat has opposable thumbs and can unscrew an airtight container and eaten through half a family size block of chocolate. So, loaded up on caffeine, the rat can go on and on and on.

Then this buzzing on chocolate, rat, we discover, is myopic because the 2nd thing he sinks his teeth into a bottle of contact lens solution and drains the bottle. All the better to see the chocolates with.

To add more colour to the rat, we also found that not only did it topple sealed jars to steal chocs, nibble through plastic bottles, it bit through the plastic wrapping of mooncakes. Obviously it was a rat brought up on Chinese legends and observed the lunar calendar. And somewhat unsurprising considering the rat's geographical location.

It's been difficult trying to track it down. No one's seen it. It's elusive except for the occasional rat dropping and incriminating evidence of half eaten kilo sized chocolate blocks it leaves behind. My suspicion is that even that is done on purpose, to show us that he can get away with almost bloody murder and no one knows whether or not he's got whiskers, is grey or for all we knew multi coloured and is a rat dressed in cat's clothing.

But, what do we know? It likes chocs, is myopic, is Asian in descent and we suspect it came off the Ark because he was first spotted at Noah's desk.

Of course, there are clueless enough people around to suggest that someone takes it home and rear it as a pet. I felt pretty much like saying to this person, "A rat is NOT a hamster. A rat is NOT a plaything!" But I didn't just in case the rat heard me and took it out on my desk tonight.

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Ondine tossed this thought in at 16:27

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Sunday, September 07, 2008

National Security Coordinating Council

Dear DPM Jaya,
For some years now, I have belonged to the revered professional whose sole responsibility is to inspire and to be a teacher, according to the new MOE recruitment campaign. The students I teach supposed to be among the brightest of the land and in some ways are. These are the students who have believed that the aim of education is to groom and produce the next generation of leaders for the nation and each of them believe that they will be a future leader. However flawed on however many levels this is, it is how they see themselves and each 18 year old has the right to have great ambitions and ideals.

What has disturbed me over the years and is increasingly irking me is their schizophrenic and skewed perception of the societal reality they live and will live in. There are many aspects that are flawed but let me concentrate on one particular one that will be of interest to you and the National Security Coordinating Council.

I have found it part of my responsibility to ensure that the students I send out into the world are critically aware of the world they live in. Sometimes that means teaching them to be cynical and to question their unquestioned loyalty and ability to rattle off, on command, the five pillars of defence in Singapore, the five pillars of good governance in Singapore and the five reasons why Singapore is a safe and peaceful society amidst all the turmoil. Credit must be given to the National Education programme in Singapore because at every juncture, in every way possible, when questioned, the students have utmost belief that we are a racially harmonious society and that we are a united people that will stand the test of trials because we are Singaporeans before we are Chinese, Malay, Indian or Others. It has always managed to floor me, how unfailingly able they are to parrot all this and with utmost confidence declare that there is not one racist or prejudicial bone in their bodies because they are Singaporeans and they are racially tolerant of the other races.

And this is where the fissure turns into a great fault line that if not addressed, will cause a tremendous eruption at some point. While worldly wise and knowledgeable in some areas and academically ahead in quantifiable areas, these same students who are destined for greatness are dangerously myopic and racist. No doubt they have grown up in a time where terrorism is a great threat just like the generation before them grew up thinking that all communists were evil. The problem however, lies in the stereotypical prejudices. This is a generation that considers terrorism a new threat and a threat that has been brought about by one religion and that religion is Islam. This is the generation that on one hand is able to declare that they live in a racially harmonious society and declare that each individual has the freedom to practice their religion but on the other hand bitterly and blithely classifies all Muslims as terrorists and all terrorists as Muslims. They, who live in a region whose dominant and primary religion is Islam, consider themselves superior to those who worship Allah because they consider everyone who worships Allah and fasts during the month of Ramadan a potential terrorist out to carry out jihad and blow up the world.

So, despite all their brave declarations of civil harmony, the elite of this generation will grow up with such a warped mentality and when I think about how they are going to be ones who will possibly be shaping the foreign policy direction of the country, I quake in my boots and feel that I would be doing society an injustice by allowing them to graduate into society. Better to keep them cloistered within the walls of the school till we are able to re-educate them. The problem however is that it takes more than just their one teacher to undo all the inherent discrimination that they have developed. It is indeed true that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing and this mentality that our young possess is indeed a dangerous thing, in that they are blind and unaware of these prejudices that are deeply entrenched within the psyche.

It is an issue I feel that the NSCC must address from a young age and it is obvious that whatever messages that the NSCC has been crafting and sending into society have been gravely misinterpreted or are in dire need of a drastic rethink.

Thank you.

A peon working to mould the future of our nation, on minimal wage.

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Ondine tossed this thought in at 17:27

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" Far in the stillness, a cat languishes loudly"