Saturday, May 08, 2004

It's Saturday. Why should I have to wake up so early? Especially when not long after I got to sleep (it was already about 2am!) June shakes me awake and asks for my comments on the flower arrangement she had been making for my mom for Mothers' Day. Truthfully, I thought it was well-arranged for a first attempt and I thought I gave her my verbal assurance and approval, but apparently, according to her, I started to say something then became incoherent then there came a short silence and finally I resumed my gentle snoring. So, my brain sort of functions but it doesen't translate into words when I'm in that state. June wasn't discouraged and continued her arrangement until she crawled into bed at about 4am. She is such a perfectionist and I love her. [Hmm... she's a perfectionist. She married me. What does that make me? ;)]

I officially arose at about 6:30 so I could get to the GP Seminar by 8:45. Simple breakfast at the coffee shop downstairs. GP Seminar was on the topic of the biomedical hub that Singapore is being designed to become by our economists and the ethics that govern said biomed research. This topic is especially relevant as our growth engine in the near future is being tied to this untamed wild horse that until recent times was never even conceived to exist.

Biomed offers us control over what we had once merely accepted -- health and, up to a point, even life itself. As an engine of economic growth, such control, if it can be bought, will be highly sought after by the growing population of wealthy people in our region whom we are now viewing as a vast, almost inexhaustable financial resource in the years to come. As long as people will continue to fall sick and/or die, when we build Biopolis they will come!

Bioethics is like the reins of control as we are breaking in this powerful wild stallion, making it manageable and ultimately exploitable to us. Bioethics reminds us that if we wish to take control over the once-uncontrollable, then are we responsible enough to make choices from options that were never available to us before? From the issue of abortion to stem cell research, we are already making choices over life and death -- choices that now rest in the hands of individuals when once life and death could only be a decision made by collective society.

All these issues would have been very interesting to discuss, probing further into the future of this country and what kind of services we will make available to the world in 10, 20 years time. What will Singapore be famous for then? Will people from around the world flock here to be cured of cancer or other life threatening ailments? Will they also take the opportunity to determine the traits they desire of their next generation while they are visiting or do other more frivolous things like being genetically altered to sport luminous tatoos on various parts of their bodies? Will people be coming here with diseased body parts and leave with fresh, new, healthy replacement parts harvested from a lab cultured pig or some other animal?

Would have been interesting if in our Q&;A session we had asked our speakers more questions on current research and project that towards their future practical applications, or more about the guidelines that our ethics council are currently considering so we can guess at what treatments will be or might become common practice tomorrow. Instead, we became fixated on the type of scholars we are sending to read up this field of research, their personality types and their qualifications, which I suppose are relevant considerations, but I'm not sure the speakers came down to field such mundane questions. If even our teachers are this pragmatic, I fear we are slowly losing what imagination we have left, destined to only follow and copy rather than pioneer and lead as we must in this field that remains largely unexplored. To be successful, we have to be able to identify the possibilities first then work our process to get there and not get hung up with procedure right from the start and go nowhere as a result.

Ouch. Did I just write all that? Wonder if there's anyone else left to read my blog after this outburst? Had a tea-break in between speakers.

Lunched with Agnes, Avril, Cynth and Joanna at the Dome, Bishan. Herb striploin sandwich on multi-grain and walnut bread (untoasted). Pumpkin mash made the sandwich mushy but as the flavour was pleasant and unusual I forgive them. Macchiatto to wash it down. Macchiatto... reminds me of Teresa. Wonder how she's doing today. Haven't written to her in many years now. Wish I hadn't lost her email.

College Day, and I had a good time catching up with some of the guys of S4D: Ki Han, Eric, Jian Wen, Kevin, Marcus, Wei Xiong... did I miss anyone? Also Drama club alumni: Gwyn (who sweetly offered to help work with Yr 1s), Michelle, Saz, Donnie and Millicent. Watched Thad and Bernard get dunked at the dunk tank, and was badgered into purchasing a gift set from the Drum personnel who took so much trouble over it I think they deserved their $3. Bought a panda rock painting at $8 for June, whom I hope will gain more confidence that her own rock paintings are quality pieces as well. Mei, sorry I didn't get back to the Drama booth for Ramzi's brownies. Too many people, too little time.

Had College Day reception: mee siam, kueh pie tee, sung kueh, siew mai, and the other usual catered stuff at the usual catered quality.

Went to mom's for dinner. Gave bro his spending cash, and lent him my digicam with charger to use on his tour. I feel naked without my Lumix now, especially since I can't take any more Odyssey rehearsal photos without it. Maybe Boon Sin will be kind enough to lend me hers? Anyway, to my kid bro, "bon voyage!" Come back soon!

To sum: I had 5 meals today. What a pig!
Lit students went to watch Luther this evening. Me, the thrill junkie, went to Van Helsing instead. Mei's review now makes me want to watch Luther too, but VH is a visual treat not to be missed either!

Gonna be so busy tomorrow with the GP seminar in the morn, Homecoming & College Day in the afternoon and visiting Mom in the evening, I'd better make this note for VH while it's still fresh and while I still remember to do so.

VH is a non-stop action thrill ride with jaw-dropping brawls and catfights, curiously archaic looking tools and weapons of high impact, spectacular explosions and vistas of massive objects breaking, shattering satisfyingly loudly into splinters, shards and shrapnel. The screams of really horrid creatures and a couple of gasp-inducing shocks keep the atmosphere tense and the audience ready for another breathtaking stunt -- animated or live -- or another revelation of VH's or Dracula's past. Don't expect too much exposition, though, what's important happens in the here and now of their on-screen confrontation.

Plotwise, VH takes after LXG, fusing together the stock characters of the horror movie tradition in one roller-coaster thriller. Jekyll & Hyde make an appearance but it's Frankenstein's monster and the werewolf who are tied into Drac's diabolical plot in a sort of twisted S&M procreation fantasy involving straps, chains and lots of voltage. Uh huh... so the plot's a bit thin, but it's still one heck of a campfire tale! Lots of convenient plot advancing events occur showing the hand of deus ex machina, but who cares? VH delivers some little humour, even less romance but most importantly, an orgy of edge-of-the-seat action almost without reprieve and that's what we're there for.

June's rating: 5 stars (& as a critic she's hard to please).
I don't give out stars. However, the grin on my face at the end of the movie exposed right up to my back molars so I guess it was pretty enjoyable.

So grab a ticket, a bucket of popcorn and a flagon of Coke from the concession stand and go watch Van Helsing. Meantime, I'll see if I can score a couple'a tix to Luther. See you at the movies!

Friday, May 07, 2004

I could'a gone to Ivin's with my lunchmates again, but I needed some time to myself again free of noise and socializing so I need do nothing more than sit and think. And recently, blog as I am doing now. Don't expect anything profound though. It's also a chance for me to wrestle the z-monster whenever it should choose to show up. I'll be ready.

Oh, Ivin's. I thought Vince just managed to con the trainees, Lynette, Julie, Alice & Dawn, into buying us all lunch. I didn't realize that it was to be their farewell lunch -- they're going back to NTU to continue their course and who knows if they'll get posted back to us? Just a minute before I discovered this sad fact, I had turned down the lunch offer, citing my bad stomach, which was true. I still shudder at the thought of ingesting and more curry/chilli-based foods for a while. In the last two days I have had, let's see, prata, mee pok, and yesterday's superb roti jalal a la chicken curry from the mak cik in our college canteen. I've hit my limit and a wise man knows when to stop. The company at lunch today would have been so very stimulating, but I'm just not fit company myself. Social burnout and dihorrea, thats me today.

June has gone to change some cash for 100 Euros. She is so efficient and thoughtful, quite the opposite of me. It's good that we're married to each other instead of being just colleagues with each other. We'd just kill each other in the office. The Euros are a gift to my brother who's going on tour to Ireland, the UK and France. He's departing tomorrow night and we have to arrange to meet him to present him with his gift. His trip is frighteningly expensive, in the range of $6K for flight, meals and accommodation, excluding personal expenses. Thought we'd chip in a bit 'cos he's travelling "by faith" and we're not about to let God let him down. He sent June his entire itinerary which was more info than she had asked him for and she's quite jealous now. All the wonderful places in Europe he's going to visit, many places of which she and I have never even heard. Make good use of your 100E, eh? It's not much but it'll come in useful, I reckon.

We initially wanted to meet him at the airport tomorrow to see him off and at the same time get us some Popeyes Chicken & Biscuits. Generous-sized chicken portions; crispy skin; and a juicy, tender interior. If KFC is 'finger lickin' good,' Popeyes will have you stuffing your gob with your fists. Not pretty, I know, but it is Popeyes! There's no canned spinach on the side, curiously enough, but the buttermilk biscuits and mashed potatoes feel so wholesome going down and they make you feel like a total pig after. I only have one regret after a meal at Popeyes: why did I eat so much? Urrrgggghhhh! Changi Airport, either Terminal, if you're looking for the nearest outlet. Unfortunately, my bro will only be going to the airport late so we have now agreed to meet him at Mom's instead. So much for Popeyes. *Sob.

Anyone for Van Helsing tonight at Sun Plaza?
Ladies and gentlemen, we have a show! The Odyssey is back on its feet with more fun and action. Energy is high today and hopefully will pick up even more over next week. We’ve finally got the play down to a manageable half hour and even rough as it was today, I’d say it rox! Everyone was more purposeful in everything they were doing and the new motivations for some of the characters worked nicely. The addition of subtle and some not-so-subtle movements by certain characters do add a visual cue to the spoken lines, aiding the understanding of the action onstage.

Only a couple of minor errors in today’s run which are understandable due to the newness of some of the scenes, but unless corrected immediately could be disastrous to our performance next week. Silly things like breaking out of character with the giggles or acknowledging a fluffed line or appearing onstage without being appropriately attired or not carrying on the proper handprops are definite no-nos and will not happen from next rehearsal onwards.

Other than these minor hiccups, everything else seemed to work ok, and I found myself suppressing laughter in certain scenes where there was once dull delivery before. The tweaks to the crew, Odysseus and Mother work well; though I hope we’ll be able to get a 2nd opinion in time before the SYF. Would love for Tina to come in one last time for her last nuggets of advice.

Scary that our actors are still falling sick. At this late stage it's so hard to work without a full cast. Still, it shouldn't be surprising as they're all so stretched in their committments. You must take better care of yourselves; do everything you can to keep yourselves in good health: eat well, sleep well, drink plenty of fluids, engage in regular exercise, look both ways before crossing the street, etc. Your health is a priority.

Van Helsing opened today, and usually I’d be the first in line at the box office for a movie like this. I couldn’t today because of Odyssey rehearsal. Considering what we accomplished tonight, it was an evening well spent.

Wednesday, May 05, 2004

Hermes leaps into action again

NYeDC Yr 1 and Yr 2 bonding session, pizza to follow

Tired. Knees wobbly. Sweatier and smellier than I was last Wednesday (see respective entry for details). We had a blast playing Captain's Ball in the abandoned canteen. Audrey says it makes a good skating rink too and I understand ODAC is already using it for just that.

Great to see NYeDC running around having fun again. You people are lunatics! We played 2 games split in 2 halves, broke for dinner and you insisted on playing some more after pizza. Have mercy -- I'm too old for this physical abuse. If this keeps up, PE Dept will send PFT failures to us and we'll train them for PFT gold in a month's time.

Year 1s joined us which was more than I expected because they were busy with painting the banner for Saturday and I thought they would be tired. Duh! Nice to meet them and interact with some of them for effectively the first time. *waves at all Year 1s if you're reading this.

Also unexpectedly, the Debate team with Anthony and Greg joined us as well. It was the first time since the split 2+ years ago that Drama and Debate had gotten together for an activity. Fine. The Debate team won their games but we had a great time anyway. Well played, fellas!

Pizza delivery put me in a state of panic for a short while. Bill amounted to what we had agreed on amongst Yee, Cara and me, but I hadn't collected the cash from all of them at the time. I had enough on me to pay for half the bill and I was wondering where the money for the rest would come from. Yee showed up at the nick of time. It must have been funny to see us tutors pooling our cash and counting up the combined liquid assets on our persons which was just right to pay off the pizza dude. We were so grateful we let him keep the change, all 70 cents worth. Don't spend it all in one place, ok, buddy?

Seldom do I walk off a playing field without some damage to my corpus. It's been a habit since my youth. There's something about the image of the bruised, battered, bloodied body of a gladiator who's lived to fight another day that somehow I'm enarmoured with. It draws attention, sympathy or at the very least a seat on the bus because few people want to sit next to a walking human disaster. Who knows when the latter might keel over, causing the nearest person to undergo a police interview? Today was no different. In a mad scramble for the ball I collided with one of the pillars (actually an I-shaped steel girder) and in the process dented both my wristbones and caused what looks like a bruise on my right forearm. I can still type so I guess nothing's broken. Maybe the bruise will fade by tomorrow. June promised to rub me down with medicated oil before bedtime. Sounds good to me! Attention, sympathy...

If the X-men can break for a mad game of Bball with hilarious results I think we can have a game therapy session too! NYeDC, thanks for the game!
A week and a day to our performance of The Odyssey at the SYF. It's a risk not having a rehearsal today but many of our cast are rehearsing for Homecoming/College Day this Saturday and so we had a choice: to rehearse scenes in which cast were available or to forget everything for a day and play our brains out.

We've chosen the latter and once the cast & crew are done with helping the Year 1s with the Homecoming banner, it's off to simple pleasures again -- of running, throwing, catching, cooperating with some, competing with others, and getting sweaty and out of breath while doing it -- back to primeval basics. In prehistoric times, the hunt was the thrill of the week because our lives depended on it for food and materiel, to sustain and maintain our very lives.

Our hunting skills badly need sharpening. We have to remember what it's like to be hungry again. We need to know the importance of playing the game as a team again. We have to look our opponents square in the eye and be sure that constraints or no we will prevail. We will prevail because we will it to be so. Hence, the game is an analogy for our will to survive. How badly do we want to survive?

It's not about winning, it never was. It's about learning to cope and still coming out on top, as Odysseus himself did in Homer's epic. Odysseus had no reward waiting for him at the end of his journey, all he wanted was to come home. If this isn't motivation, silver and gold are even less of a motivation in the long run.

We need our achievements, great or small, to give us the confidence to face harder and tougher challenges as we progress through life. The harder we strive to win the sweeter our victory if we achieve it. If we don't, there is a vaster pool of learning that accumulates towards our victory next time around. Regardless, as long as we can keep on looking for and looking forward to the next time we are already a success.

The contest is not yet upon us, folks. There is still time to prepare. Let's sweat hard for a sweet victory. A week and a day. Let's give it all we've got. For today, LET'S PLAY BALL!

Tuesday, May 04, 2004

Well, that was terrible. I fell asleep in the middle of making my previous entry. When I awoke I had barely enough sense left in me to sign off properly. Can't imagine how I got so tired. Must be getting old.

Anthony's back from playing petanque in Bangkok. The Thai team is so good, his focus was "not to get his ass kicked," which he successfully accomplished, he reported.

Lunched at the prata place off Rosyth Road. Their maggie mee goreng is quite outstanding, if you can stand the MSG it's cooked in. We had to repeat several times that Mun Yee's order must not have any chilli in it. Must not have any chilli in it. Bad memories from last week's mee kuah, which he ordered and found to be as edible as a spouting flamethrower. Sensitive, that guy. Andro's nasi briyani looked good and his order came quickly too. Definitely on my list to try next time I'm here.

Ordered an ice Milo which was rich, sweet and very cold. Delicious. The ice Milo is quite good enough, but if you're really thirsty you could try the "Milo dinosaur" which is an up, no, supersized ice Milo, beaten into a fluffy froth on top and liberally sprinkled with Milo powder. For most purposes it's overkill, but feel free to indulge. There are worse ways to spend $2.50.

Service is very friendly. Very. The mak cik is very patient taking orders. Dealing with large groups of screaming schoolboys from St Gabriel's(?) ordering a myriad of prata combinations and frequently changing their minds and their orders is liable to drive someone bonkers or imbue a serenity, patience and longsuffering on the victim. Glad to say Mak Cik is of the latter calibre, and can still maintain her sense of humour to boot.

The usual verbal horseplay goes around the lunch table, which sometimes gets too intense for Mun Yee. Andros himself contributed a paraphrase of "OMG" in response to our irreverent banter. Tried to pull a fast one on Vince but he's wise to us now. Mealtimes are fun.

No rehearsal tomorrow. Cast & crew bonding instead. Need the energy boost and the reminder that team spirit is still alive and ready to take on new challenges. Once we get our Homecoming prep done it's off for food, fun and a round of Captain's Ball. Wa-hey! Thinking of using the abandoned temporary canteen grounds to use as our court. Whadda'ya think peeps?

Monday, May 03, 2004

Hi Farisa! Hi Mei! Hi Yan! >big wave< You've discovered who is responsible for this abomination!

As you can see, this page is quite blah and the html is going to take me quite some time to figure out. I'm just cutting and pasting text in my template right now and seeing what works and what doesn't. Would be grateful for any assistance you could provide in making my blog look prettier. Also anyhow signing up for all kinds of odd blogging services to see what they actually do. As long as it's free I don't mind experimenting.

My mind is almost totally incoherent now. All I know is that I've been fed, so now I'm in a better mood, and my blog's had a couple of visitors today that is a pleasant surprise. But, neeeeed sleeeeep...! Brain refusing to function. C u tomorrow!
The college seems to be shut down today, i.e., no one's allowed to log on the 'net for fear of the Sasser worm infecting our systems. Warning came too late for me! I was already online and my laptop suddenly flashed a window showing a countdown timer and shut down my system in a minute.

Very cleverly, I tried to download the Windows patch preventing the Worm from taking further effect (was that the proper procedure, I wonder?) but because the stupid worm kept shutting down my laptop during the installation of the patches (guess I haven't updated for a while!) I screwed up my Windows and now it won't start up properly anymore. Crap!

Moral of the story: update Windows often, before it gets too late. Gonna have to take my laptop to our tech who is probably up to his neck fighting Sasser on our LAN right now. Wonder when my laptop will come back to me?

As a public service, here is the link to d/l the Sasser removal tool from Symantec if you've been hit.

Very annoyed now. Nobody talk to me! Wait till I'm in a better mood. Grrr...

Sunday, May 02, 2004

Lunch at Adrian's. He made a seafood pasta for us which was yummy. Said he woke up early to get fresh ingredients from Chinatown, about an hour's bus ride from where he lives. His seafood pasta comprised spinach fusilli with fish, shrimp and calamari topped with a tomato-basil sauce and accompanied with sauteed champignon mushrooms (I would have preferred raw champigons, thinly sliced) and steamed asparagus. Slices of baguette from Delifrance to sop up the sauce and our contribution -- Waldorf salad -- on the side.

It seems I have very poor hand-eye coordination. As I was inserting a bit of sopping baguette into my cakehole, it bounced off my teeth and landed sop-side down on the chair I was sitting on before bouncing off again to hit the floor. It left a couple of faint sauce stains on the cream-coloured upholstery which sent Adrian scrambling for the Scotchgard. Oops, 'scuse signore. Hope the stains are not permanent (crosses fingers).

I make a simple Waldorf salad based on the recipe the American tourist recited to Basil Fawlty in an episode of Fawlty Towers. Green and red apples cut into small cubes, celery, walnuts and raisins well mixed with mayo (we use Kraft). The apple cubes should be thoroughly soaked in lemon juice to prevent them from turning brown. The apple cubes are cut by June herself 'cos she doesn't let me play with sharp objects -- soaking the cubes in blood makes them turn brown faster. Adrian doesn't like raisins, so we kept them on the side for ourselves. I don't know. It just isn't right without the raisins which, if used sparingly, give an occasional sweet surprise to the generally sour salad.

The rest of the afternoon we reminisced over our Hawaii trip, pouring over the photo albums we brought over to his place and seeing the shots he took of his trip to Europe and Japan. The lucky pig spent a couple of days in a Japanese onsen! He said if he was going on vacation again this year, he'd like to go see some real snow once again. It's been years since I've seen real snow too. Will I get the chance this year? Hmm... (thinking hard).