Saturday, August 14, 2004

Joined Mary, Jen, Adrian and June for dinner at Thai 1827, the Thai-fusion restaurant of the Art House (or what used to be the old Parliament House). Mary's a regular figure there as she works in the building so she arranged dinner for us. It's nice for us to be able to meet up again over a meal; our schedules are so unpredictable it's a rare occasion when we have a free evening together.

June and I were first to arrive, on time as usual, Adrian joined us 15 minutes later, and we waited for at least half an hour before the three of us simply had to order first or starve to death waiting. Told you everyone was busy. Ordering a la carte would have been an expensive proposition, but the restaurant offers a 3 or 4 course set for $30 and $38 respectively. The set comprises any combination of starter, soup, main course and dessert followed by a coffee or tea.

My starter was a Vietnamese-style maguro maki using Viet spring-roll skin to hold the maguro slice and vegetables together. My spicy beef soup wasn't all that spicy, but the beef chunks were tender and went well with the mystery dip provided. I ordered the rack of lamb (this is Thai?) which was light and delicately flavoured, with a fine layer of fat for the added yummy factor at the cost of mounting calories. Dessert was a goreng pisang a la mode: deep fried banana fritter coated in cinnamon powder and served with a scoop of coconut ice cream. It was a little too sweet for June's taste, but I enjoyed it. *burps satisfyingly

We discovered at the end of our dinner that Thai 1827 throws in a birthday cake with the wait staff singing the birthday song with any table reservation on the occasion of a birthday celebration. The cake came from the restaurant's sister operation, The Stage Door, and it seemed to me to be a mango sherbert cake, though I'm pretty sure there's no such recipe. It was very cold, like an ice-cream cake, only more ice less cream. The first mouthful was a refreshing, sour surprise that quickly resolved into a pleasant mango flavour on the aftertaste. Nice cake. Wonder what they did with the half we couldn't finish? We were so full by then.

Jen was nice and drove us home from downtown. Adrian's given up his idea of buying a car. Now he just wants to save up and retire as soon as possible. He must have been talking to his Mom. Hee hee.

A couple of pix:

Our nicely set up table, too bad it's missing FOOD! Posted by Hello

The 'after' picture. We waddle home. Posted by Hello

Thursday, August 12, 2004

There. Finally deleted a .exe file infected with the spybot.worm. Persistent little irritant just would not leave and always popped up again after I thought I had got rid of it. This time I edited my Windows registry manually, then started Windows in "safe" mode so the .exe file would not be loaded into Watson's memory thus eradicating the "no-write" access it usually has. I hope I'm completely virus-free now, but let's see, shall we?

Totally physically worn out, having had a male bonding session with the guys in a kickabout in the basketball court during CT period. Gals were off learning to groom themselves properly (ha ha). It'll be the guys' turn next week, so I wonder what I'm going to do with a bunch of gals during CT next? Suggestions?

Discovered that I am really getting old. Can't run for long, wheezing and panting away, quite unable to turn with the ball and beat opponents like I used to do oh, 15 years ago? Weak joints don't support this kind of body weight and I ended up on the floor a couple of times too. Still, we played in the midday sun, under which only "mad dogs and Englishmen" would dare venture outdoors. *consoles self

Rehearsal went quite well today, I thought. We seem to be getting the steps sequenced together and the routine doesn't look like so horrifyingly difficult any longer. Now, if we could just get a bit more confidence, sharpness and slickness, and a whole lot more 'tude, I think we got a show. Couple of rehearsals more should do it!

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Here's the text of the article I wrote for Contact, the Ministry's newsletter about happenings in schools. I wasn't inspired this afternoon, so this was a laboured piece of writing. It's quite long, so please bear with it. I tried to be factual but the journalistic lingo, I feel, is lacking. It's about our Cultural Adventure:

Most people take their immediate neighbourhoods for granted. They commute between their workplaces and their homes and spend so much time in either location that they seldom notice the neighbours they live with, and the community around them is usually ‘out of sight, out of mind.’ For Nanyang Junior College, this National Day commemoration event, held on 6 August 2004, aimed to open up Nanyang students’ minds to their own ‘backyard’ by organizing a walking tour around the community surrounding the campus.

Decked out in eye-catching red and white, NYJC students and staff began the celebration in the newly constructed gallery facing the college track. The ceremonyof the flag-raising accompanied by the Concert Band, the solemnity of pledge taking, and the Principal’s reading of the Minister of Education’s National Day Message to Schools grounded the festivities in the serious matters that are the nation’s independence and social cohesiveness.

The college’s Dance Society followed up with a celebratory dance number incorporating different dance styles, and the Drama Club presented a light-hearted reenactment of the Japanese Occupation and the racial riots of the past and postulated what would happen to Singapore in the future if we forget our history.

After a rousing round of community singing, the NYJC Community Adventure got underway. Civics Tutorial Groups from JC1 and JC2 competed against each other to reach their checkpoints and, once there, complete the tasks allocated to them. Accompanied by their Civics Tutors (one CT by the Principal, Mrs Ho Woon Ho, as well), each group walked routes that took them past the various community features such as Neighbourhood Police Posts, Community Clubs, sundry shops and marketplaces where the students could observe for themselves people’s lives beyond the college fences.

Each checkpoint, housed within common areas and void decks, posed activities that were both fun and challenging, but they all emphasized group participation, cooperation and communication in order to succeed. Groups performing the tasks were also competing against each other and received points according to how successfully they met their challenges. The points accumulated towards some attractive hamper prizes at the end of their Adventure.

All groups gathered in the college hall for a final round of community singing before the prize giving. There was much spontaneity as students sang, clapped and jumped along with the music, formed conga lines that snaked through the hall, and the occasional, if brief attempt at “body surfing” by some members of the crowd.

In college there are few occasions for staff and students to let their hair down. NYJC fully took this opportunity to do so, and learned to appreciate each other beyond the usual classroom context. Nation-building begins in the hearts of all citizens. These occasions make for lasting bonds, and are hard to forget.

Well, an echo anyway of what went on from a PR point-of-view. Wish I had read the Cikgu's email properly, though. Contact only wanted a 150-200 word write-up. Sigh. Time to exercise those old summary skills...

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Haven't done one of these in a while!

You are Tifa!
You are Tifa.

What Final Fantasy VII Character are you?
brought to you by
Wandered a little further in the dark, hunting monsters, trying to stay alive, ammo constantly running worryingly low. Monsters teleport in, sometimes from behind, and sometimes they swarm. Hmmm... whatever happened to the rule that different monsters will fight each other first? They must all have had a change of attitude after Racial Harmony Day. Now they all just want to beat the snot out of me, and they seem to be cooperating too.

Lots of wild waving of the ol' weapon around, keeping track of multiple hostiles, trying to prioritize each one before they get too close and getting frustrated during reloading sequences, being ass-kicked while getting the next clip in and ready to fire.

Don't know which I like better, the chaingun or the plasma gun. If I was the aesthetic type, I'd go with the latter 'cos the plasma discharge is pretty, and also hard to miss. I think somewhere along the way, I missed out on getting the BFG. Must have left it in an area I forgot to explore. Hope I can pick up another one soon, or else I'm really going to regret it. Oh, I do like those little sentry bots, walking machine-gun turrets that shoot monsters while I hang back and bring up the rear. Not too many of them around, though.

Yes, my social life has taken a turn for the worse again...

Monday, August 09, 2004

I looked at last night's pix and decided that they're terrible. My cam's crap when taking night shots. Still, y'all gets a coupla' samples:

Aloha! To my cousin and his blushin' bride. Posted by Hello

Just a section of the feast. Not a traditional luau menu, but still a great feed! Posted by Hello

The nightmare that is Doom 3 is finally over! With me desperately trying different combinations of install configurations, I accidentally discovered that it wasn't the install disks that were the problem. It was my DVD-ROM drive that was being finicky. Doom 3 installed without a hitch on my secondary CD-RW drive. Stupid. Stupid. Stupid.

Now installed, I've been through the first couple of missions and one thing I can say about it is that the environment's dark. Not gothic dark, just absence of light dark. Things jump out at you or fall on your head while you're frantically pointing your piddling little weapon all over trying to locate the thing that's screaming and causing your screen to flash red at the same time. It's scary to hide things in the dark, of course, but it's also plain annoying because id's put so much work into creating the environments and the monsters, but you just can't see them so well 'cause it's dark. Some balance would be nice.

Haven't been able to do much Dooming, though. When I went online last night, and again this morning, I went surfin' naked. Don't get excited and drool all over your keyboard. I mean I went in without my trusty Norton Internet Security (NIS) and Anti-virus 'cos I had uninstalled them the night before in hope that by doing so I could load up you-know-what. Apparently, uninstalling Norton is easier than reinstalling it. The one time I go surfin' without Norton, I download a bunch of viruses that are still persistently hanging to shreds of their miserable existence in my hard drive. If they have spread to other people's PCs I am sincerely sorry.

I called Symantec technical assistance and I actually got to talk to someone who really did help me with my situation. Whoever you are, many thanks for working through National Day and solving my problem for me. I finally got my NIS installed and the viruses are now more or less rendered harmless, and I should be protected from any further attacks. *crosses fingers

My system is up and running again after three days of teeth gnashing anxiety. There are still some niggling little problems left in Watson to solve, but after all I've been through, I'm just grateful for small mercies (oh, did I mention that before?).
OMG! I'm back on-line at last! Where have I been for the past day? Lots of fear and trembling, lots of cussing and swearing, lots of mental anguish and several attempts at violent acts beyond all reasoning. If you think all this has something to do with Doom 3, you are mostly right. Trouble is, I haven't got past the Doom 3 installation screen yet!

I want to scream and cry and string the longest chain of multi-lingual swear words together for the uncensored Guiness Book of World Records, but I still haven't got the bloody game running. In the process, I did some desperate things like uninstall my Norton Virus-scan, Norton Internet Security, and did a reinstall of my Win XP, thus effectively wiping out my ADSL connection to the 'net and I've only just managed to regain my connection again after lots of trial and error. My document and picture files remain undamaged, as far as I know, and now that I can surf again I am just relieved of this small mercy. I have a bone to pick with the dealer of my wayward PC game, but let me just install all the other programs that I know are still working first.

Odd thing is, the installation disks worked perfectly on the dealer's PC when I brought it in to exchange yesterday. His PC is in worse shape than mine, but no problems with installation. They just refuse to work on my PC. Pah! Why should I be so special?

Alternated today between taking the dogs out, to inducing hypertension trying to get Watson running again, to attending my cousin's wedding lunch and dinner which happened to be quite fun and helped take my mind off Watson for a bit. Maybe I'll u/l some photos later, when I'm not so tired. Perhaps more tomorrow, and BTW, Happy National Day!