Saturday, June 26, 2004

That's the best I can do for a group shot! Seldom is everyone in the same room together. Posted by Hello

June's day must have been terrible. While I was on campus entertaining myself invigilating the GP mid-year exam, June took Mimi and Q-tip out for their daily constitutional. It was a little too late for Mimi 'cos she had a diarrhea problem from the beginning of our corridor all the way to the elevator, much to June's horror when she discovered why Mimi seemed to be dragging herself when she's usually so eager to get out. After locking up the 2 dogs again, June spent most of the morning armed with kitchen towels and a bottle of water trying to clean up the mess and trying to look inconspicuous to our neighbours. Stuff of nightmares, but one she couldn't wake up from.

Last time this happened, it was Q-tip who couldn't wait to get downstairs. She left a neat little pile in front of our neighbour's front door. After cleaning up, June bought a 4D ticket with the number on the front door and guess what? She won $4000 on that ticket! Doubt we'll be so lucky on this transaction. And no, June says, it wasn't funny.

Got some interesting feedback over the mid-year paper. There were 2 camps with widely differing opinions: one thought the paper was "quite fun" and the other thought the questions were "weird," particularly the AQ. Let's just say that students who prepare to answer GP questions by some magic formula are generally going to be disappointed because no such formula exists. Besides, if there was a formula to the AQ, then the purpose of the test would be self-defeating. A question requiring the use of flexible thinking is hamstrung if the answer was a formulaic one. Let's hope more students are in the "quite fun" camp.

Got so much marking to do now, with so little time to do it in. No way I can procrastinate because these deadlines are cast in stone. If I can't meet the line, I will definitely be dead, and not just me but there will be a cascading effect on the other markers as well. Can't afford to be the weak link in the chain so back to work I go!

Friday, June 25, 2004

England!!! The Brits put up quite a show, full of fire and guts. Unfortunately, the game was soccer and the better team won. Portugal looked like they were playing with extra players, so able to gain ball possession they were. They had better passing, they intercepted better and they had much better ball control than the Brits who couldn't string a series of passes together. Individually, the Brits have brilliant players -- Owen's first goal took a really deft touch -- but as a team they just don't work. However, it really adds excitement to the umpteenth power when in the dying minutes of Extra Time, England, trailing by a goal, still manages to unexpectedly pull back one to equalize and push the game into a penalty shootout. Gutsy, but futile, considering that the team by then comprised players that are better suited to defending than scoring goals, whereas Portugal had by then brought on a strike force in force. The result was almost a foregone conclusion with Beckham messing up his penalty shot yet again. So some big names are gone from the competition: Italy, Germany and now England. It was still a great match to stay up for. Excellent drama.

When I regained consciousness, I decided that Q-tip's limp looked worse than before so we made an appointment with our family doctor at Namly Animal Clinic. The charges are a bit high there, but the service and care are worth it. We couldn't leave Mimi behind or she'll get jealous of Q-tip's "outing" so I brought her with me as well. One guy, me, with 2 dogs, trying to get a taxi in the mid-afternoon. It's an exercise in frustration what with a never-ending stream of cab thieves and anti-canine cab drivers and 2 squirmy dogs in their carry-ons. Good thing I left early.

Dr Chan met us as usual and heard the story of Q-tip's flying leap off the bicycle at ECP. She poked and prodded around Q-tip's forelegs and observed her running around. "Nothing to worry about," was her diagnosis; perhaps just a bit of post-traumatic pain (translated in English: a sprain). So we're to give Q-tip lots of rest and she should be ok pretty soon. Plenty of rest is not a problem, she sleeps about 20 hours a day on average anyway. She also got a couple of anti-inflammatory tablets (liver flavoured) for the pain. So as not to waste Mimi's trip, Dr Chan gave her her long overdue shots, for which Mimi was grrrr...ateful.

And now it is my honour to declare the month-long vacation period officially over. >muted cheers all round< Hope you guys are ready for tomorrow's GP mid-year, and for the subsequent papers next week. Best go sleep right away, you'll need it when you see what we have in store for you. Heh, heh!

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Mom-in-law's gone to Kukup for the weekend so Mimi's back with us again! Posted by Hello
I am 29% evil.

I try to stay away from evil deeds but succumb to temptation every once in a while. I'm not quite on my way to hell but I certainly have some explaining to do.

Are you evil? find out at

Evil laughter index rates a 'Heh heh' and still not quite a 'bwa ha ha!'
I am so dumb. England vs Portugal is tonight -- early Friday morning! That means I can stay up to watch the game after all! This deserves one big DUH from me. *DUH*

Heh. This is one instance when my stupidity works for me rather than against me. I feel so embarrassed. Lucky I don't teach math.

Hmm... I'll miss the France vs Greece game then. French class vs Greek tenacity. Maybe this one will prove to be the better game to watch. Limited supplies, unlimited wants.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Looks like everyone's hard at work and even I'm trying to get back in the swing of things again. That's right, all the last minute work, all the anxiety that everything I wanted to get done isn't going to get done after all. And it's just so aggravating that the Euro Cup matches are going to keep me up all night so that when morning comes, I'm too grogged out to focus on getting my stuff done. Something's got to give pretty soon and I hope I can make the right decision as to which one.

The great tragedy is that England plays its quarter-final match on Friday night but we've got to report back in College at 7am the next morning, so there's no way I'm going to be able to watch it 'live.' Next best thing: tape it and watch the match in the afternoon, all the while avoiding like mad any news about what the final score is. Good bloody luck! Avoid Anthony, avoid Vince, avoid, duck, cover... OK, so I do fancy England, but I seriously doubt their chances of going much further, Rooney notwithstanding. He's just one kid after all, and now everybody's going to be on their guard against him, shutting him out like they're doing to Owen.

On the homefront, now that Q-tip's been shaved again, it's become obvious that she's limping as she is favouring her front right foot when she walks. She hasn't been complaining of any pain, even when we conduct a hands-on examination on her and there doesn't seem to be any swelling, so I hope it's something that will take care of itself soon. She's still capering and running about quite happily so maybe there isn't really anything to worry about.

One of our missing strays, Lung-Lung, has turned up again and she's been taken for neutering by someone other than us! Her ear's been "tipped." It's encouraging that other people in our neighbourhood are doing their part to care for our strays too.

Have also got to mention this one little girl who looks Malay and who has a real affection for our four-legged friends. Reminds me of Elmira from Tiny Toons. Tonight she was running around with Flirt in her arms. Flirt loves the attention apparently, and didn't seem to want to be rescued. The kid had a long, nasty scratch down the side of her right arm but it didn't deter her from looking for more cats to hug and squeeze. Scary thing is, she's got a thing for Q-tip as well and insisted on carrying her for a while. Q-tip's a bit afraid of her rough handling, but I'm more worried about how her parents would react to her proximity to our dog if indeed she is Malay. She's such a cute kid, but another one to tiptoe around if we spot her from afar.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

We haven't seen Joyce in such a long time. It was nice to see her again seeing as how our schedules are so hard to coordinate and we've had to call off some of our previous meetings because of this or that.

We finally met for dinner at Ikea, which is convenient for her as she lives close by, and by unofficial tradition, it's where we usually meet for a Christmas meal, though we haven't done so for the last couple of years. I don't know how the 'tradition' started. Maybe it's because the first time the three of us had a meal together there, it happened to be around Christmas time. It was also the first time June encountered Swedish meatballs and was horrified to see how many of them Joyce and I put away together. Back then, Ikea served plates of 10, 15 and 20 meatballs. I would systematically demolish the 20 while Joyce scarfed down the 15. June played safe and had the salmon instead.

Today, Ikea only serves the 10. No 15, no 20. Wonder why? Anyway, the 3 of us had a plate each and they still are really very good. The dish is simple in presentation: just the meatballs covered in a brown gravy with what tastes like a cranberry sauce dip. We also ordered 8 chicken wings perfectly fried -- juicy inside, crispy skin with some substantial nibbling on the tip as well. June doesn't eat skin and Joyce was aghast at how much skin June was discarding from her wings. She even discarded the tips, disregarding Joyce's cries of "sacrilege."

Beware of Ikea's soft drinks fountain. The drinks are pretty fresh and froth up easily, leaving you with what you think is a full glass but is actually half effervescence. This is especially true of the root beer, the froth of which takes quite some time to dissipate. It's also easy to overflow your glass as you're filling it up and leave an embarrassing mess on the counter, not to mention making your fingers unpleasantly sticky. The drinks come cold enough already so don't bother wasting an already small glass capacity with ice cubes.

Managed to grab a slice of apple pie and the last chocolate truffle cake from the dessert counter. I don't like cooked apples but I downed the apple pie remains after the 2 girls refused to eat another bite due to their being overstuffed. This was after I polished off the chocolate truffle cake which I hadn't realized was meant for sharing. >burp< It was rich, moist and deliciously chocolatey and which, I'm sure, June would have collapsed from if she had even one bite. Too rich, too smooth, too much of a good thing. >contented sigh<

Ikea furniture is nice, but it's the cafe that keeps us coming back.

Monday, June 21, 2004

Guess who's got a haircut today? Posted by Hello

Gaiman's "Neverwhere" was a fun read. With Gaiman you play the game of "spot-the-myth" as he throws in elements of familiar old stories in an interesting plot of his own. The "melting plot," so to speak. Let's see... Alice in Wonderland, though London below is much darker and more dangerous; the Marquis of Carabas is a common pen name derived from "Puss in Boots;" Mayhew undertakes a spirit walk with the prerequisite spirit guide; and there's even a unsubtle reference to the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ, though the Marquis can hardly be considered "Christ-like." Messrs Croup and Vandemar, Victorian assassins, are dangerously humorous, displaying intelligence, ironic wit and a sense of pride in their own malevolence, akin to that of Jack the Ripper. There is a sort of Blyton's "Magic Faraway Tree" likeness to the Floating Market; and Perseus' labyrinth is guarded by a centuries-old escaped pig rather than the Minotaur. London below comprises the literal manifestations of the quirky place names of London above. I may be stretching things a bit but the description of Down Street reminds me of how the impact crater looks like in Final Fantasy 7. There is also the gathering of the Fellowship as every quest requires the different abilities that each member can bring to the party (although we can only guess at what Mayhew's abilities are, "normal" as he is); the betrayal of the Fellowship (never fails); and when Mayhew returns to familiarity again he does so a la "Wizard of Oz" style.

It's great fun that Gaiman is able to take bits and pieces of all these old familiar stories and integrate them with icons of popular culture of our contemporary period although the environmant created is dangerous, chaotic and insane. Yet, it's the promise of adventure and the idea that anything's possible that make London below so much more preferable to mundane, predictable, well-planned and organised reality. At the end, the Marquis stands at the door and invites you [wow, another Biblical allusion] to come live in the realm of fantasy and chaos. Don't always take the realistic, pragmatic route but be free to choose freedom. I think that's Good Advice. We need to acknowledge that life is more chaotic than we admit and when we can do that, then things become more possible for us, and Doors open!

eeps... my book review just turned into a sermon.

Sunday, June 20, 2004

A minor argument over queue jumping results in the stabbing death of a man who had gone to place a bet on a Euro Cup match. The perp was caught on CCTV and is now being sought by the authorities. Who needs terrorists when there are crazies who commit murder over such a petty incident? This story was in yesterday's news but the link won't last the week so if you must read the story, read it fast.

Well, I can say I bought my first 4D ticket today. No, it wasn't for myself but for my mom-in-law who usually gets June to make the purchase 'cos it's more convenient for us to do it for her than if she was to do it for herself. Today, however, June was right in the middle of preparing our dinner when the call came through. Being unable to turn her attention away from the sizzling, bubbling pots and pans on the stove, the next best option was to send the more dispensible of us to the Turf Club outlet to acquire the precious ticket.

This late in the afternoon, the line at each counter is long and the evening sun shines directly into the betting store making it a hot, tedious shuffle towards the clerk. Meantime, I'm flipping the betting slip to read the instructions on how to place a 4D bet and trying not to look like such a virgin at the same time. The instructons were clear enough and I've seen June fill in the form once or twice so I got the hang of it pretty easily.

I went to join the line, which by that time had already spilled onto grass. As I did so an elderly uncle-type collided with me. 2 pairs of hands immediately went up and a barrage of profuse apologies erupted between the both of us. I guess I'm not the only person today who read yesterday's papers.

I successfully purchased my ticket (0220, Big, $5; what kind of number is that?) and now I just hope that win or lose mom-in-law isn't going to conclude that her son-in-law is either a charm or a jinx. I only went to place a bet because it was an "emergency" situation. I hope "qing3 jiao4 Min bang1 wo3 mai3 ma3 piao4" isn't going to be a regular occurence from now on. *fingers crossed*