Saturday, April 16, 2005

Next week is the NEXUS (the irony will be lost on most people) point for so many things I am in charge of: Security Seminar, Senior Civil Servant's Dialogue, Drama Night (shifting into high-gear), BMTC visit... As I am in charge of them ALL, my focus is so diverse I'm having difficulty controlling ANYthing. And it's even worse that next week, I'm not even going to be physically present on campus because of the week-long course I need to attend at Exams Branch. The one week I absolutely need to be on campus, I'm not. Great timing.

Fine. Perhaps I could've managed my time better. It's partially because I chose a couple of these dates myself, but at the same time, some of these dates were chosen for me as well, so the year climaxes early for me, and since the year is still early, there's promise of more to come. Multiple climaxes. If this was sex, it wouldn't be a bad thing.

Then there is next week's bowling tournament date. I'm still bowling a crap 120-130 average over 5-6 games. I changed the grip on my bowling ball's thumb hole as it was slowly wearing loose. Now my poor Brunswick 'Zone' looks a bit Frankenstein monster-like with the orange shim contrasting horridly with it's blue body. And because I now have a tighter grip, the 11-pounder feels too light and therefore less controllable. More practice needed. When? Dunno.

More bad news: Cat Rescue Squad failed this morning to secure Girlfriend (Matriarch of the Square) who is herself showing symptoms of the disease that's been wiping out the neighbourhood's cats. Her eyes are terribly sore and seriously leaking discharge, and she's too scared to see the vet. We chased her around the Square trying to put her in the transport basket, but she ran and kept running. Eventually, she settled in the branches of a tree and refused to budge. We'll try again this afternoon.

My graphics problem is no longer confined to KOTOR2. The same problem is affecting NFSU2 as well, so I have much maligned Lucasarts. My apologies. 2 possiblities: My software drivers, or more likely, overheating. Watson now operates without his chassis cover for better ventilation, and so far it seems to be working. No more graphics glitches for a while already. Ugly, inelegant solution but I'll settle for what works. I can no longer afford to be fussy.

Think I've reached my complaint quota. Thanks for listening!

Friday, April 15, 2005

Too busy, too tired... and these last 2 nights have been my nights off rehearsals. In fact they've been nights off for everyone in preparation for the big 2-week sprint to production night. But working with an expanded time-table AND coordinating next week's Seminar -- in absentia, mind you, as I will be away on course at Exams Branch all next week -- is a bit nuts. Thank god for Aileen and her organised, unflappable, solid let's-get-things-done assistance.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Yay! M2's back from hospital and he's looking fine again. Got the morning off to return the "courtesy" Soluna to the NTUC Co-op at Tampines Mall then collect M2 from IDAC Braddell where I had left him last week.

I first went to the Esso station near my place to get the Soluna washed at the Wash 'n Go. It's a fun experience -- a foam party for cars. First the entire car is splashed with buckets of water, then sprayed with loads of soapy foam, then sponged down by hand, then rinsed with a pressure hose, then finally, towel dried by hand. It took about 20 minutes as there was a bit of a queue there already even early in the morning.

By contract, I had to return a clean car, both inside and out so I extracted the car mats to beat them free of dirt and grime. The Wash 'n Go operator kindly allowed me to have the mats sprayed with the pressure hose too, so that took care of that problem. I also had to top up the fuel tank which I did.

I arrived at the co-op at about 0900 (I might have arrived earlier if I didn't get lost on the TPE) but was told the uncle would only be in at 1000 to take the car back. So I went to the nearby McDs for a leisurely breakfast to pass the time. The Soluna was clean enough to pass the uncle's standards so there was no need to apply the $10 cleaning fine. The car wash cost me $6 so I saved $4, though it wasn't quite enough to pay for breakfast.

Caught a cab to IDAC Braddell where I finally took back possession of M2, one week after his mishap. It was a minor accident, with relatively minor damage, so the whole process was largely painless. Still, it helps to have good friends who will see you through the difficult times (thanks, guys) and the attentive, amiable service provided by the IDAC staff, Eileen in particular. Without them liasing between the insurance company and the repair shops on my behalf, I would have been pretty much at a loss as to how to proceed to get M2 fixed. Bouquets and roses to y'all!

M2 is home now, where he belongs.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Exactly a year ago today I started experimenting with blogging, so Happy Birthday to quidestveritas!!! *whistles and confetti fill the air

I'm pretty proud of myself for keeping this blog updated almost daily; a couple of lapses here and there, but I've always found something to say eventually, at least so far. Must thank everyone for dropping in regularly and thus encouraging me to keep writing.

So how did I celebrate today? Well, there was PW tutorial first thing in the morning. It was my CT's first PW session with me and because one of their PW tasks involves the study of properties of a particular aspect of nature, I took the group outside the college compound to stare at the canal and otherwise observe whatever Mother Nature allowed to grow around the HDB block there. I'm not sure what the kids got out of the exercise, but they'll learn less about nature confined to a classroom, I think.

Then I had a 3 hour lecture to give. That is, the same 1-hour lecture given 3 times over within a span of 4 hours. Same exercise, same tired old jokes, and by the time the last lecture came around I was drained.

Then Drama Club rehearsal when we encountered problems with the ending and that part of the play had to be rewritten. Tina, me, Mel, Aaron and Ben trashed out some possible ideas till 2030hrs and hopefully the script will be more streamlined by the next write.

Then I went back to the Civil Service Club for bowling training. The last couple of weeks I've been bowling crap. Very disappointing scores, and tonight was little different. Back to averaging 120+ again, and the tournament is next Thursday! Good luck to us all!

Returned home to a wife who was livid over the psychodrama Cat Auntie and Lau Ban Niang are putting her through. They report that Skull is now dying from same affliction that has struck down many of the other cats in the Square. If they had told us earlier in the weekend when they had noticed his condition, we could have had him seen to, but their info today is too late for us to do anything about it. Flirt, her baby (missing), the black kitten, and now Skull. I don't know how much more of this we can take.

Didn't mean to begin a new year on such a downer, but it's been the truth so far, and long may veritas rule here! Happy birthday, blog!

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Early morning wake-up call. Collected in-laws from their place at 0630. First stop: Chong Pang for brekkie. Any later and there would have been long queues for the best food there -- the chui kueh and the yu tiao. Neither are plagued with the too-much-oil affliction and they're great eaten fresh and hot. Too bad I wasn't feeling hungry 'cos there's plenty other stalls that look promising.

But it wasn't breakfast that got me out of bed early. Today is the day of my in-laws' annual visit to the final resting places of their departed folks. Well, not just my in-laws but for many Chinese families here as well.

As I was previously short of personal transportation, June and I have always been excluded from this visitation. However, this year to celebrate my acquisition of wheels, I became designated driver for the day. Don't know if it was a good thing, but as my M2's still in the shop, it was my rental Soluna that made the trip with us.

Great-grandma's tomb is up on a hillside at the burial plot up on Sime Road. Never been there before in my life. The place is just a bit creepy but beautiful nonetheless. It's like the jungle and the dead have forged a truce with each other. It's a largely uncultivated landscape, full of trees and grass, and rays of sunlight streaming through the branches overhead. If you look upwards, it's stunningly pretty, but we tend to keep our eyes on the ground to avoid walking over peoples' graves.

My in-laws place joss-sticks on the ancestral tomb and burn paper offerings in front of it. The tomb seems quite well taken care of, considering the last visit was probably last year. The grounds keeper has been doing his job well. But the adjacent tombs are overgrown with weeds and it's obvious they've been abandoned by their surviving families for a long time. At these tombs my in-laws generously spare some joss as well, visiting them in proxy of people we don't even know.

The immediate next door neighbours belong to one family and they have their tombs guarded by a pair of statues of Indian militia. Apparently the patriarch of this clan was someone important in the CID when he was alive. It's sad that it's only the statues that keep the tombs company now. Not that it's sad for the deceased, because it doesn't matter any more, but for the living who have lost the memory of their past, of the people who were once close to them. Perhaps I'm over-romanticising, but a place like this brings such thoughts to the surface.

A peaceful place, quiet, contemplative. Dutiful people arriving to remember those long-gone, armed with gardening implements and burnt offerings of paper money, paper clothes for the after-life. Other tombs waiting for visitors who will never arrive. This world is, after all, for the living. May the dead rest in peace.

We also visited June's grandparents, whose ashes rest in the San Jiang Gong Columbrarium on Dempsey Road.

Hmm... when was the last time I visited my dearly departed?
My previous post was a load of trash, and I know it. Goes to show how tired I was, writing nonsense like that. So the fact that I'm making another entry right now is totally illogical, especially when my alarm clock is set to ring at 0530hrs this coming morning. The reason why is for my next entry.

Today was another crazy run-around session, mostly work though the evening was quite fun. Morning I was at Tina's studio with the Drama Club. It was fun watching Shah choreograph the kids and watching their jaws drop in amazement at what he wanted them to do. Then it was gratifying to see them practice over and over again and get better every time. We have a really good show this year. Great director, great choreography, great accompaniment, great music, visionary set BUT too little time to pull it all off. Another couple of weeks would have made a lot of difference for us, but too bad we can't have 'em. So we'll make do and hope it'll be good enough.

Having a 'courtesy car' while your own car's in the 'shop can be a real pain when it comes to parking. Without the benefit of season parking, the tearing of chad off individual parking coupons is such a tedious chore. And knowing that each coupon is a dollar's worth for every hour of parking adds insult to injury especially when your season parking's already paid up for the month. I want my M2 back...!

In the afternoon I was busy preparing for Monday's lecture. A solid 3 to 4 hours of looking through material and condensing it all into PowerPoint slides, and I'm still not happy with the presentation. It's boring! I'll lose my audience in 5 minutes unless inspiration strikes tomorrow. Then again, it's been a week already and I have yet to be inspired. 1 more day left to think. *Fingers crossed.

Rewarded myself by joining Anthony, Weng, Celine and their dates at this wonderful eating place at the KTM railway station in Tanjong Pagar. The station is technically Malaysian territory so there's a major Malay food court operating BEHIND the main building, hidden away from the main road. We ordered an assortment of foods: Ramlee burgers, mee goreng, kambing (mutton) soup, murtabak, kebab in pita bread, satay and later in the evening, Weng ordered a seesha (secret ingredient was to put ice cubes in the water chamber to make the smoke smoother and more flavourful), forming the centrepiece of our table.

Beware the satay, though. They tell you the waiting list is half an hour long. It's actually 3 times the estimate. By the time our order came, we were too full to eat, having ordered other things while waiting. We acted 'blur' and when the server went back to check the order, we decided it was late and left to go home. Do we feel bad about abandoning our order? Not really. Other people would have snapped up our satay and have been grateful for it.

Early day (even earlier than regular schooldays) tomorrow. Must grab whatever sleep I can. 'Night!