Saturday, May 01, 2004

Just a quick memory test because I'm bored. Name the dishes from our dinner at Loy Sum Juan:
Sharks' fin soup
Abalone/jellyfish cold dish
Scallop-celery salad
Har Jeong Gai
Braised duck
Steamed fish
Tofu spring rolls
Obligatory noodles
Longans with almond jelly

Seems to be a dish I can't remember. Or was it an 8-course meal + dessert? Whatever. I am so full now. 10 people at the table but only 7 effectively eating. 3 are under 5 years old so they can't each much. Cause for celebration: my kid brother is going to be 32 in a couple of days' time. We won't see him on the date of his actual birthday so, "Happy Birthday" in advance! And if he is going to be 32, I am going to be ancient. Maybe that's why I can't remember... er, what were we talking about...?
It's the Labour Day public holiday today! But I don't have classes on Saturday so as a holiday, it doesn't count for much. Still, there's no other reason to go back to work either 'cos everything's closed, so yahoo! June gets the best deal when it comes to public hols falling on a Saturday. Because her work contract is for a 5-day week, it means she gets Monday off-in-lieu. Hey... I wanna review my contract now!

Found a link to the history of Labor Day, if you're interested. People died to get us this holiday, so better be grateful!

Belle has her favourite hiding spot.

Our filter is gonna need some SERIOUS cleaning after this!

All because Auntie Mimi (right) is visiting!

As before, the cats have a cold truce with the visiting dog. Mimi is out of her natural element in our house, so she knows she has "stranger" status here. Belle isn't much afraid of Mimi although she takes on a defensive pose when Mimi gets excited and barks (screams, rather) at her or passing shadows outside our front door. As for Momo, she's peacefully hiding out of sight -- behind the washing machine, in the dryer (as pictured), on top of the kitchen cabinet, under the bed, like the unsociable thing she's become.

As a kitten, Momo was the friendliest member of our household, always ready to greet strangers with a sniff and a chin rub. Ever since 2 chubby (June says "fat") kids came over and terrorized Momo, she becomes a complete recluse whenever guests arrive, whether human or animal. It's like we gain a guest but lose a family member in exchange. Hmmm... aren't all families like this? Whenever a visitor comes a-calling, Dad or someone else (depending on who did the inviting) disappears only to reappear after the 'invaders' have left.

Anyway, there is peace in the household, which is more than I could hope for.

Going to celebrate Aun's bdae later at some Cantonese restaurant called Loy Sum Juan in Tiong Bahru Plaza. I thought our family usually goes for a buffet meal on special occasions such as this, but it seems like we've been there, done that once too often already. So, Guangdong cuisine it will be tonight. And I was looking forward to sashimi and half-shell oysters too.

June's put together the photo album of our Hawaii trip last year. Not the online one but the um... hard copy one. We're now ready to share them with Adrian who's got some shots of his own to show us too. We'll see him tomorrow at lunch, though I'm not looking forward to lugging 2 monstrously sized photo albums over to the East and then lugging them all back. But the photo layouts and the photos themselves are beautiful and deserve to be looked at by people other than ourselves. We'll manage somehow.

Friday, April 30, 2004

This is Mimi.
Mimi is June's first dog.
Mimi lives with June's mom.
Today, Mimi is coming to visit us for the weekend.
What fun!

Auntie Mimi can play with Q-tip, whom she knows quite well.
Auntie Mimi will have lots of fun with Belle and Momo, whom she's never seen before.
Auntie Mimi loves to chase cats, which Belle and Momo are.
Wonder what she'll do with them once she catches them?

The cats think they will be safe because they can jump to high places.
Guess what?
Mimi can jump too!
Mimi's no Q-tip, that's for sure.

We had the same problem when Dot-Dot came to stay with us while her owners, Samson and Charis, visited Australia. Dot-Dot loves to stare at cats, and we were a bit apprehensive about how the cats and Dot-Dot would react to each other. Let's just say there was a cold truce between the species. No trouble there. Hope Mimi and the cats will adjust to each other as easily.

Sort of stuck in between things again. Done for the day, yet waiting for rehearsal to begin. It's at Chinese High today and it's the only "full dress rehearsal" we'll get before the SYF. Maybe I should'a gone home to chill for a while but I'm stuck here now.

Finally got the souvenir Odyssey VCD-photo CD package burned for NYeDC. Packaging is cheap, though, and many are liable to fall apart very quickly. They were the only 2-disc jewel boxes I could find so I was desperate.

Yee's working on getting the CD covers designed and printed & I hope they'll be ready in... oh, 10 minutes time! Hope it will raise cast & crew spirits a bit to see how far they've come already and what they can accomplish when they have the confidence. NYeDC can achieve greatness -- we've seen it happen before -- so let's just get there a little faster now, for the recognition you deserve. SYF, here we come!
Kids of NYeDC have seen how the Odyssey is being stripped of parts in order to cope with the 30 minute time limit in the SYF. It can be quite disturbing to see so many beautiful, but time and materiel-consuming scenes disappear just like that. To cheer them up, I told them about how I went through a similar production a few years ago.

I was cast in a local movie called The Wasteland. It was set in an indeterminate country in the throes of a civil war. I was cast in the role of a rookie helo pilot on his first combat mission. My co-pilot, a veteran was supposed to torment me with terrifying tales of air disaster and enemy activity in the vicinity while we waited to extract the squad we carried into battle. This role was a showcase piece for a minor character in that it had some significant airtime and it called for quite some versatility to portray. I was good in the role, and I looked forward to performing it.

I, being a viable human resource, was also double-cast as an elite footsoldier and I enjoyed having another role to keep myself occupied with while waiting to get my scene shot. As a soldier, I was filmed with my squad assaulting enemy locations, “assisting” the interrogation of a captured enemy, and frantically radioing my helo for an emergency evacuation when my squad took an unexpected defeat.

When the time came for the scene with the two pilots, our director suddenly decided that since I had already been identified as a soldier, it wasn’t believable that I could be both the soldier and the pilot because we would have been in two places at the same time! So I was replaced and that was the end of rookie helo pilot for me. Noooo….

Further disappointments were to follow. While the movie was intended to be a commercially released full-feature, our director decided to submit it to the Silver Screen Awards and cut it as a short film instead to fit the judging criteria. More of my scenes, along with others’ were trimmed out, never to be seen by an audience, ever.

Still, in all of this wild decision-making, I am still very grateful for the fact that I had one scene left intact in the final cut – the scene of my panicky soldier and his radio calling for a “code purple” evac. 7-8 seconds worth of air-time. This is considering that all shots of the minor and supporting characters had been reduced to a minimum and this shot featuring me was the only one to survive with actual spoken dialogue rather than narrated through a voiceover. The scene with the two pilots never made it to the final cut.

So, I told the kids, in the arts, change comes suddenly, swiftly and savagely. We do what we can to adapt as quickly as possible to change. There is no reason not to give off your best in whatever role you are playing, regardless of the size of the role. The success of a production depends on the actor who delivers the weakest performance. Nicole Kidman couldn’t pull off an Oscar winning performance if 2nd-soldier-on-the-left sucked. On the other hand, who knows how your best performance might pay off?

Thursday, April 29, 2004

In between right now. Done with classes, but waiting for Odyssey rehearsal to start. Got some other work obligations done, now twiddling my thumbs and writing again.

Amazing how much chaos can come out of introducing an unusual event into a closed, organized system. Guest speaker for today was Amb. M. Hong, who had stuff to say about "Globalization and its impact on SEA youth." Apart from the sudden change in guest speakers (it was supposed to be Mr "pany," remember?) it was a surprise to discover the venue we planned the event in was actually being used for something else at the same time. A quick shuffle later and things got sorted out though arrangements were not exactly ideal. Bigger venue used for smaller audience, but floor seating only making writing inconvenient. Smaller venue used for bigger audience, proper writing space available but no writing needed to be carried out. How adaptable a species we are.

Talk was informative, very densely packed for an hour's duration. Intesting observation: during the Q&A, some controvertial questions were raised about how much we support American foreign policy and whether local youth function under intrinsic or extrinsic motivations; however, the questions were raised by our foreign students, leaving our locals with the more mundane concerns. I guess that answers the second question quite effectively, doesn't it? >Sigh<

I was just going to say life is too safe here to have many other meaningful concerns than ourselves and our entertainment but I just got the news from June by SMS as follows:

1 dead, 15 injured in Ayer Rajah building cave-in

A basement cave-in at a construction site in Ayer Rajah has left one person dead and five others missing. Fifteen casualties have reportedly been sent to the National University Hospital.

The collapse happened just before 2pm at the worksite of the Fusionpolis building and the MRT station at One-North. Engineers on the site say this - at 30m - is the deepest construction site in Singapore and that six or seven people may be trapped at the bottom.

This cave-in comes a week after a portion of the Nicoll Highway collapsed, leaving four people dead. But this is an industrial accident that is not related to last week's cave-in at the underground site of the MRT Circle Line.

The Fusionpolis complex, which will house info-communications and media firms when completed in 2005, forms part of the Jurong Town Corporation's One-North development in Buona Vista.

OK, June only SMS'ed me the news, I got this off the STI website.

2 major collapses in the last week causing loss of life and infrastructure damage. We're not used to this sort of thing happening to us, and I wonder if we can cope emotionally even if our 'systems' are in place to deal with the physical disaster.

Regardless, my chaos of this morning is nothing like what is happening out there right now. How could I possibly say my day was crap? Actually, I never did, did I?

Say a prayer for the injured and the trapped, ok? Hope we get them out in time.

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

I’m pretty sure you don’t want to know how smelly I am today.

Got chewed out a little by Maj Chia this morn for not being able to provide enough seats for the MI kids, but I only found out about our seat shortage late on Monday, so there was nothing much anybody could have done at this late stage. Still, thank God for Mr Pau and the AVA crew who were up to their mark today getting everything ready for the MI S-cube seminar in our Hall this afternoon. Must also thank Shun De (check spelling please) and the Council ushers who were punctual, and genuinely welcoming to our guests. I was running around like a mad thing getting the directional signs from the music room and placing them in strategic positions so no one would get lost, and coordinating things in the car-park area to the transit area to the Hall to the AV control room. So, blazing afternoon sun + me working up a real sweat = 1 smelly, sweaty T-shirt, so bad I could even smell myself >yuck<. I apologize to everyone I sat next to subsequently including Sharmala and Ee Ling (who’s been a pleasure to work with in coordinating this event). Also sorry to cast & crew of NYeDC whom I worked with at SYF rehearsal today.
I surmise my sweat reacts with different T-shirt pigments in different ways and today’s combination was particularly bad. That’s why I try to avoid wearing black Ts – worst possible combination yet.
Still have our Senior Civil Servant’s talk with Mr “pany” of ISEAS to look forward to, which means more of the same tomorrow. I need a vacation…
More scenes chopped off The Odyssey today to fit into the half-hour slot we’re given for SYF. It seems a shell of its former self now; kind of a long trailer mostly. Just hope it makes sense to our judges in its present incarnation.
Also as an anti-climax, I didn’t get my trophy today. No one important enough around today to give away prizes at assembly. Maybe tomorrow then.

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Officially getting my bowling trophy tomorrow. I haven't won a trophy for years now. Decades even. That's probably why this one is so important to me, trivial as it is in the grand scheme of things. I've never won a championship before. My previous trophies are a silver medal for a relay sprint event in primary school, a silver clamshell for soccer in Sec 2 and a bronze trophy for high jump in JC (from which I dropped out eventually). The high jump one wasn't that big a deal, there were only 4 competitors in that event. I got a medal for indoor soccer in an intra-varsity tournament playing for a team I had no business to be playing for. I was a York U student playing for a U of T club, and the circumstances under which I received the medal were just as dubious. As I recall, we lost every match that we played and yet we were still runners-up in the tournament. I'm also pretty sure there were more than 2 teams participating then. Strange.
But there are no controversies over the bowling championship. Our scores are clearly above every other competitor, even without adding our handicap of 10 pinfalls each. I've never picked up a gold before, and I never thought I would ever. Could this one be the start of more golds? We'll see...
All right. All this might seem quite petty and inconsequential to you, making such a production number over such a small achievement. Give me a break, please. I entered the contest with confidence, I took my training seriously, we even attempted to train our competitors so we could have more opponents and more skillful opponents to challenge(!), as partners we gave each other the moral support we needed during rough spots during the game, and hell, yeah, it all paid off in the end! If this isn't the sum of the ingredients of a success story, then what is?
So here I am obsessing again... what else is new?

Monday, April 26, 2004

This week promises to be mad. I'm arranging for our campus to be invaded by another college and I've inadvertently 'volunteered' myself for fatigue duty -- helping to carry and arrange chairs in the hall for 500+ audience members! Me and my big mouth. Luckily, our furniture store only has 200+ chairs so most of the audience will have to sit on the floor. Also stage arrangements have to be done, but I think I have a handle on that, thanks to Mr Pao. I've got till tomorrow to sort out and make directional signs, "Hall this way --->," "TOILETS --->," etc. Should I arrange for volunteer ushers as well? Do I have time? My brain's scrambled right now. And that's just for Wednesday.
Thursday I'm overseeing the stage arrangements (again) and the AV setup (again) for our VIP guest speaker to the whole year 2 cohort. I'll be glad when this week's over.
Also by Wednesday, I have to confirm the number of students who want to visit P. Tekong, but I'll just peg it at 150 pax, as allocated. I'm sure I'll find takers for this once-in-a-lifetime experience for many of our students.
NYeDC is going to be busy as well, with 3 rehearsals this week. Friday's rehearsal is a sort of tech run at the Chinese High stage, venue of the SYF Drama this year as every year. Will I get a Saturday off this week? One can only hope.
Had my weekly bowling session at SAFRA with Anthony and Wendy. It's never too early to start training for next year's Tourney. But Monday evenings might be a little inconvenient after SYF; I want to attend the open rehearsals at Mime Unlimited again. Miss all the stretching and toning. Feel so out of shape. Look it, too! Could also use a confidence boost and work a production at the same time. Oh yeah. Tonight's 3-game average: 143, not bad, I guess, but lots of room for improvement still.
Funny, I don't usually blog my future plans so far in advance. Must have been a boring day.

Sunday, April 25, 2004

"Friendship Sunday" (to us) means a potluck breakfast before service. There are regular entries, staples more like, such as Tony's super excellent bee hoon cooked in fresh chicken stock the night before. This is the one thing that June and I make a bee-line for as soon as we arrive. It is light, dry and liberally sprinkled with crispy vegetables and beancurd skin (I think that's what it is). A monthly treat that cannot be missed.
June's contribution to breakfast is also a staple, and also a great favourite. Egg salad sandwiches. She uses Gardenia white bread which she cuts into quarters once they have been filled. The filling is made of mashed (doesn't have to be too finely mashed) hard boiled eggs with a dash of cooking sherry, some finely chopped spring onions and parsely, two tablespoons of Kraft mayo and a tablespoon or so of dijon mustard mixed in to taste. Exact proportions have to be the result of personal experimentation, trial-and-error. Ideally, the filling should be well mixed but have a pasty, viscous consistency rather than runny. Not a good idea to have sandwich overflows during a buffet-style meal. Also, the filling should be prepared the night before and only used just before serving (or transport as the case is with us) to avoid the bread getting soggy. Thanks to Jen Lim for generously sharing her recipe with us. It's made many breakfasters happy at 930 SAC.

Cable guy was just here. Our cable channels tumble on occasion and we have finally got irritated enough to call Starhub to see what they can do. Just our luck. Cable guy arrives to find our cable decoder behaving perfectly nicely, no signs of giving trouble at all. He's gone and switched cable boxes on us and now we're just hoping for the best.

June reminded me that we haven't seen our respective parents in what has become several weeks! Everyone has been so busy. So, we're visiting my folks tonight and will arrange to visit June's folks sometime next week. How neglectful we have been. Sorry.