Saturday, June 12, 2004

Q-tip explores ECP at last! Posted by Hello

Ready in the cockpit, waiting to blast off! Posted by Hello

And we're off! Posted by Hello

Deep sea exploration Posted by Hello

One seriously wet dog who needs a bath! Posted by Hello

Had a great day today with beach, bike and bimbo dog. It was Q-tip's first time out at ECP and her first bicycle ride too. There must be some discrimination going on at the bike rentals because when the rental clerks cottoned on that we wanted a basket to carry our dog in, they wouldn't let us have any bikes. Is it a safety thing or what? So we had to do it the underhand method. June parked herself some distance from the next bike rental outlet then I went to get a bike with basket for myself. Having scored a bike, I went back to get a second bike, somewhat smaller, for June. Only then could we load up Q-tip and show her the sights. How bothersome.

June ended up with the basket as it was so low-slung on my bike it dragged on the front tire. We thought Q-tip would freak out in the basket but from the outset it looked like she was really enjoying the ride. She was smiling all the way, tongue hanging out, very relaxed on the towel we provided for her comfort.

She didn't like swimming, however, not like when we were at Sentosa a few months ago. The waves were higher and stronger at ECP and she just couldn't cope. Swimming was over in less than 5 minutes before we headed back to return our bikes.

We got the scare of the day when on the way back, Q-tip temporarily misplaced her brain and jumped out of the basket from the moving bike. Both June and I narrowly missed running her over as she landed badly -- belly up instead of on her feet. She must have suffered some shock as well, immediately righting herself and running aimlessly across the grass verge with me in hot pursuit. It took a while before she recognised my voice again and slowed to a halt in sitting position. Whatever was she thinking? Q-tip doesn't have the guts to jump off the sofa; what could have posessed her to jump off a bike? A mystery to solve before we take her on another biking expedition.

We rode very slowly back to return our bikes (again one at a time) this time holdng very tightly to Q-tip's leash in case she decides to take another unauthorized skydive again. No incident, this time.

Home again and Q-tip's got her bath and is nice and fluffy again. In need of grooming, she is.

Went for dinner at The French Stall, on Sembawang Road opp. Khatib Camp. Nice French bistro. The layout is half indoor dining and the other half al fresco. June and I both ordered the same beef set but replaced the Aubergine dish with French onion soup. The soup didn't disappoint in taste but presentation-wise I'm still looking for a French onion soup that comes with a layer of mozzarella completely covering the top of the soup bowl, the way I'm used to in TO. Also, maybe it's because most people don't like it, but the soup came devoid of parmesan. I had to ask for it and it came freshly grated in a saucer; that's service! French onion soup needs a generous sprinkling of parmesan to fully bring out it's flavour. Try it, you won't regret it (unless you already can't stand parmesan, that is).

I ordered the Beef Entrecote to remind myself of the one thing I was specially looking for when I visited Quebec City those many years ago. I had heard that this dish was a specialty of a particular eatery in the old part of QC (by old we mean that that part of the city hasn't been updated for 200 years and is now a major tourist attraction). Mom and I managed to find that particular restaurant and the beef, as I remember, was really special. At The French Stall, the entrecote was juicy, tender and came in a tasty creme sauce on a bed of potato gratin. It's nice that when we asked for our steaks to be done rare, they were actually served rare. Some places, you ask for rare they give you medium because they can't stand the sight of blood or something.

The choc cake for dessert was nothing to rave about. It just... was. Next time, I'll try the lamb and maybe follow up with the ice-cream thing we saw carried past our table. Altogether, the meal cost us a few cents short of $50. Ouch. What the heck! It's payday!

Thursday, June 10, 2004

Had another sweat-a-thon this morning and I think we're making progress. Lena came to join us so we have one more member of our team getting a feel of the routine. She's picking up quite fast, but then, she has a good background in dance anyway. Had a look at the actual location and, boy, it's a lot of ground to cover. That's going to add to our sweat output, that's for sure. It feels funny, muscles aching yet it's a healthy thing to do. Well, it would feel better if I didn't screw up my knees. The left one is a bit wobbly now. I hope I haven't done any real damage to it, but I don't see how I could have. Maybe it's just not used to this kind of stress, not having done anything like it for so long already. To everyone involved, thanks for all the hard work, and I promise, we will improve!

I did manage to catch The Punisher at Bishan J8 in the mid-afternoon. Was starving since I hadn't had anything to eat since the Oreos-Os for breakfast. Wanted to line up for popcorn and coke (great -- healthy exercise not being supported by healthy diet) but I just barely got my ticket before the movie started. Then I realized that perhaps I could have lined up for food after all 'cos the pre-show commercials ran on for quite a while. Good thing there were no ads for food products, else...

As expected, not many in the audience. Just a few Marvel fanboys and that's about it. The run isn't going to last long. You have to be a fanboy to appreciate a movie like this. After all, the lead character is a psycho who's lost everything. How else do we expect him to emote? He's just grim all the time, no emotion left in him. With the death of his entire family -- and I mean cross-generational extended family on both his and his wife's side in the same hour -- and his own attempted murder, he evolves into what is basically the Angel of Death on his 'resurrection.' Nothing supernatural about his return to the living, it's like the Bride in Kill Bill. The assassins just didn't finish the job well enough.

It's not really giving away the plot because it's quite obvious what game Punny is playing from the time he sets his plan for revenge in motion. If you haven't got time to watch 4 hours worth of Othello at the Arts Festival, you can get a quickie version with lots of guns and explosions in The Punisher. It's not as 'cultural' but it's probably more fun. There's even a tip of the hat to Homer's Iliad ('Troy,' for the more pop culture inclined) at the end. I won't say which part 'cos again it's quite obvious.

So we have a story about a loony who does terrible things to terrible people who did terrible things to him and to other people. It's hard to support a guy whose cruelty and spite matches that of the one who caused him harm to begin with. The Punisher is not a character we sympathise with. He is not a hero, not a role model but rather an unnatural disaster that befalls evildoers who deem themselves above the law. Maybe that's why this movie is so disturbing. The lead is not one to root for, not one to cheer for. Apart from the misfits and outcasts of society who become Punny's inadvertent neighbours, one of whom suffers for his sake, they, I think are the ones who show true courage, standing up for what they think is right: friendship, community, family. And they don't have guns either.

Do I recommend it? Go if you like the Punisher already, or if you like guns, bombs and fisticuffs to go with your popcorn. If you're still interested, be warned: it's been censored to NC16 although it was released as R in the US.
My CD-RW is giving trouble again. I've managed to burn two CDs worth of stuff before the burner seems to have given up. The device doesn't seem to be recognised any longer and I'm getting frustrated. I can't tell if it's a problem with the burner or if I've bought a bunch of bad CD-Rs. There! What do you know? It's started burning again! That's good news then. 'Unreliable' is how I would call it. Sometimes will write, sometimes won't. It's so annoying!

Exciting that our CT T-shirt is in the works at last! Nige seems to have got the colours problem solved and we should be able to wear it soon. After the hols we hope, eh, Nige? Now, I haven't actually seen the design yet but I'm hoping to, if one of you will forward me a copy. Thanks!

As far as movies are concerned, it's a quiet week with nothing opening that I'm really dying to watch. The Punisher is opening tomorrow but it got quite bad reviews in the papers today so I doubt June will be interested to go watch it. I'd still support it as Frank Castle is a pretty interesting character in the Marvel universe where everyone is super-powered but Castle only has his training and combat smarts to rely on. He's at an obvious disadvantage, yet he can hold his own if he has to. Maybe I can go sneak off to watch it tomorrow, after our work out session, on my own, which I haven't done for a long time already. At one time, I wouldn't watch a movie with company 'cos I always found company too distracting. Also, I couldn't find anybody to go with, which was sad. It was always either one or the other.

OK. Disks burned at last. It was such a waste to burn a single track on a whole CD so I randomly stuck in a bunch of filler tracks to use up all the space on the disk. Hope the work out crew will be happy.

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Ouch. Body hurts again, especially my right butt which seems to have cramped up. Rythm and movement sure is taking its toll but it's worth it, just to be able to move and sweat again. I gotta get the moves down, but it's difficult. It helps that the music has a strong beat but while I can execute specific moves, stringing them together in sequence addles my poor brain. Maybe that's it! Use less brain and just move! Let's try that next time.

I'm sort of ok if there is someone to watch for cues, but on my own, PANIC! Oh well, I guess we're doing fine for the first two sessions. Things must improve from now on!

Jong Yann and I are the first ones to try out the steps, having had a headstart last week. Today Cara and Jeremy came in and while Cara should be able to pick things up pretty quickly, Jeremy looks like he's under a lot of stress. It'll be interesting to see how fast Lena and Thaddeus are going to pick up since they've already missed the first few sessions and we have to catch them up soon.

Really have to thank our instructors for taking time off to help us work out. You guys are already so busy that helping us isn't necessary but we really do appreciate you for it. To chief instructor, S_, you've been so patient with us, the uncoordinated, going over the steps again and again for our benefit. To H_, R_, and er..., sorry I can't remember your name, thanks for keeping us company and showing us what the more advanced of us can do.

As for NSF:U, I'm now third in the rankings driving the most obiang Mazda Miata MX-5 fully kitted out internally and externally, wearing a coat of 'pearlescent' green paint, and floating over a pulsing pink neon undercarriage. What to do? It's the only way to attain a 5-star reputation in the game world! In reality, I hope I never meet my car in a dark alley in the middle of the night. It'll make the Bengest Ah Beng go blind.

Met June for dinner at Yishun Central in my sweaty t-shirt, fresh from this afternoon's workout. Apparently, I was an affront to her olfactory sense. As soon as we got home, she banished me to the bathroom where I took an early shower for once. I can go sleep right after 'Smallville' if I so choose, and maybe I will. I am that tired.

Monday, June 07, 2004

You are a Technologist. You may not have any magic
--but you either don't want or need it. Whether
you are a spear-throwing Barbarian, an Imperial
Mechanist or even a humble Tailor you build
what you need, rely on your own strength and
follow your own path. You are happy doing your
own thing and thinking your own way. You are
extremely self-reliant and have a hard time
trusting others.

Which Magical Order Are You In?
brought to you by Quizilla

Well, that description seems to fit! See entry below:

You know your mind is empty when you cut yourself off from the rest of the world. Then you go look for things to fill it up with, not necessarily healthy stuff either. Anything to pass the time, break the boredom, and procrastinate from doing the things you really should be doing instead. When June left for the flea market again yesterday, I was left to my own devices and I decided to spend my time alone again at the PC. All day. Not doing anything profitable, just immediately gratifying and terribly frustrating at the same time.

Same thing today. Was supposed to join the rest of the men >ahem< for the staff hike but when I woke up it was pouring rain and I thought I should pull myself out on account of the weather. I don't know if the hike was called off, I just didn't go. Lazy bum! Spent the day with the PC again (his name's Watson, by the way) while June was at the office.

What's Watson got that's been holding my attention? 'NFS:Underground,' that's what. I'm developing blurred vision, risking epilepsy and suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome and for what? The satisfaction of moving up the ranks of an entirely ficticious racing circuit for the glory and honour of building the most Ah Beng looking car imaginable. As your successes mount, so do the car accessories accrue to your disposal until you can drive around the ultimate Bengmobile, complete with chassis modifications, neon highlights and blinking lights. An addictive RPG, if you can see it from that perspective, and an obsessive gamer are a deadly combination. I'm feeling quite ill now. I wonder why?

Hmm... I missed an entry last night, and I'm not bowling tonight either. Wow, just look at all the stuff I haven't done all weekend. Thanks, NFS:U! Should I feel guilty?