Saturday, July 09, 2005

Inspired by our Great Toilet Renovation, we embark on our own DIY Paint Job Project Posted by Picasa

Wake up to bright sunshine everyday -- paint your bedroom wall orange! Posted by Picasa

June and I amazed ourselves, finishing our bedroom project (no, not THAT bedroom project) within a day. Our new white-and-orange colour scheme is warmer and more cheery than our previous white-and-white combo.

Despite my initial deep misgivings, none of the disaster scenarios I forsaw came to pass. The paint cans didn't get knocked over, spilling paint all over the marble flooring; the brushes and rollers didn't drip unexpectedly; the wardrobe and air-con unit didn't get streaks of unusual colours due to careless brush-strokes; and the wall didn't become patchy with an uneven application of paint. I should'a had more faith in June. After all, she paints animals on rocks as a hobby. Quite nicely, too.

Not only is our bedroom looking new, the toilet project is finally over too! While waiting for the first coat to dry, we cleaned up the new toilet -- eliminating cement splatter, dirt and grime both recent and from several years ago. Stubborn cement splattered on the wall tiles had to be scraped off individually with my screwdriver, but they came out easily enough. We'll be able to move back into our bedroom and adjoining toilet tomorrow after the silicone holding up the glass partition dries. Meantime, hope our downstairs neighbour is happy now that the leak's been dealt with.

Too tired now, but we need to celebrate our achievement tomorrow, somehow. Wonder if June has any place special in mind?

Friday, July 08, 2005

Spent a chunk of my life trying to fill up a feedback form in response to a survey carried out by the Big Kahunas themselves. The Great Ones had wanted to know what the general public thought of all of us in the industry, so they took a survey, tabulated the results and generally got a favourable outcome. It seems that an overwhelming majority of the public likes us a lot.

Given this result, the Big Kahunas wanted us to think about how come people like us so much. I would have thought that good news was good news, so let's not look a gift horse in the mouth, but no. "Analysis" doesn't begin with "anal" for nothing. So on a Friday afternoon, after 4 nearly straight hours of classes, I engaged brain and sat and thought about it. I did.

People like us so much because 1) the Big Kahunas themselves have nice, friendly faces and like to talk and discuss their ideas with the general public, making the latter feel like they have some input into the decision-making process. 2) Most parents like us because their kids' grades are satisfactorily high year after year, so there's no reason to complain against us. 3) The media has also been good to us, trying to put a positive spin on things as far as possible.

The Big Kahunas are concerned because of the multitudes that like us, there is a dip in approval ratings for our ability to impart morality to the kids. They want to know what we might do about that. I thought perhaps we should send more reminders to parents to look after their own kids more responsibly. Our organization is an institution of intellectual-academic development, which is our "core competency," and not so much moral upbringing. No one else is better positioned to look after morality than parents themselves, and religious institutions whose business it is to tell people how to behave themselves, or else... H. E. Double hockey-sticks.

The Big Kahunas also wanted to know what we could do to get parents more involved in our business. I think parents should just look after the home front viz. the above and that's good enough, thank you.

There were a couple of better questions to answer also, so I won't bother relpying to them here 'cos I already did in the feedback questionnaire. It's these other little questions that no-one likes to hear my answers to (because they're not implementable in a 12-step, 5-year corporate action plan) that I respond to in my little private space on the web. See? Even I'm guilty of not always speaking my mind when King Kamehameha comes a-callin'.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Normal lessons resume today, coinciding with the increased heartrate I woke up with this morning. Anticipation, excitement, and a touch of fear as well. Public speaking is one of humankind's greatest fears after all, no matter the size and disposition of the audience.

Afternoon lessons spent in a steam oven of a classroom. Everyone visibly wilting as the day wore on. And again, little relief from the heat at home either due to the no-aircon rule. Feeling faint now...

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

For someone who can only focus on one thing at a time, I'm looking at this year at it's halfway point and thinking I've overloaded my capacity to handle all my expectations. My year so far is littered with a pile of things I've started but I'm having difficulty seeing how to gather up all the loose ends and draw them to a satisfying conclusion. Some things I haven't even started yet, even though I might have intended to from as early as the beginning of the year. 'Yes,' is a dangerous word that one should use sparingly for best results.

Let's not get into comparing whose to-do list is longer. That's not the point. It's sufficiently frustrating when even a few things are demanding such attention that you don't know which to give your attention to first and as a result you shut down and not do anything at all. It's the paralysis of a deer caught in headlights: watching impending disaster approach takes priority over firing the right synapses to empower the right muscles that work together to jolt one out of harm's way.

Where is all this negative energy coming from? Maybe I'm just having a bad day, I'm tense and not trusting of the society around me. Maybe it's the 9 demerit points for lousy driving I got slapped with for being in the wrong place at the wrong time; while other reckless, aggressive drivers appear to go unpunished (I've sent an appeal letter, BTW, as advised by the Traffic Police FAQ website -- see how, lor). Maybe it's how some ideas I have that look good in theory turn out a far cry from what I wanted in practice. Guess it's an accumulation of things that need venting every now and then.

If I could begin this year all over again, I wonder which non-consequentials on my current list I should've said, "no," to and thus have been a happier boy today?

Meantime, my toilet's all torn up and stripped bare. I've got bags of cement stacked outside my front door and bathroom tiles piled within. A new bowl is waiting to be installed once the waterproofing layer gets laid tomorrow. And no air-con for 3 days until the renovation is complete. I'm hot, sticky and smelly, and will probably remain so for the duration. Could this be another source of my ill-temper? Bah!

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Took Q-tip back into Upper Seletar Reservoir and finished my marking there. Way before schedule. Due to some good planning by the Department, we were able to work out a more efficient marking system this mid-year, and hopefully we can keep it going for the rest of the year.

The reservoir seems a bit paranoid about people making lurrve in the quiet spaces on the grounds. Below is a typical reservoir signboard and the interpretation of each injunction from Right to Left, Top to Bottom:

Posted by Picasa
No hookers, No buggery, No short-term layovers,
No oral, No hand-jobs, No wiping,
Handle stiff objects with care, Baby don't light my fire, No riding,
No doggie, No deflowering, No loud sound effects.

If you must, then please get a hotel room. Thank you.

Monday, July 04, 2005

This entry is about the events of last weekend so it's a bit backdated.

Amy, Vince, June and I survived each other's company over a 2-night trip upcountry. On Anthony and Wendy's invitation, we spent both nights triple-sharing a room at the Ritz-Carlton, KL, to attend their wedding on Saturday evening.

We arrived at KL's Bangsar district exactly 5 hours after we left the First Coach office at Novena Square as scheduled. On the way up, we had only 1 rest stop at a place where, to our surprise, we found an A&W outlet serving our favourite root beer in chilled mugs. But we were a little anxious that the bus might leave without us (not much shopping, eating and toilet activities we could do in 20 minutes anyway) so we grabbed our root beer in paper cups to go.

KL has pretty much everything: big, impressive buildings and monuments; busy public and private transport systems; and lots of happenin' people and hip places to visit. Everywhere you look it's a bit different from the last place you looked at, not like the cookie-cutter scenery we get here -- the same stores with the same deco and layout whether downtown or in a "heartland" mall. Smaller-scale family businesses also thrive here in the low-rise areas. It's nice to see that big business hasn't completely run rampant and taken over.

KL is also dusty and grimy, and despite the effort made to keep the streets clear of litter, there seems to be a dull grey coating of some powdery substance over every building in town. Pollution, the price cities pay as they grow in size, importance and population.

After checking in on Friday night, we went out for dinner and a taxi ride to the Hard Rock Cafe where June confirmed her arrival in yet another foreign city by purchasing a few HRC t-shirts, one of which I became the lucky recipient of. Thanks, June! We walked to the KLCC at the base of the twin Petronas Towers in the hope of catching a midnight movie, but it looked like the rest of KL also had the same idea. We made a u-turn and went back to our hotel where we met Weng to go over some details for the wedding.

Saturday morning we woke up too late for the Ritz-Carlton provided breakfast so we followed Weng's directions in search of a certain famous "Muk Kut Teh" stall on Jalan Medan Imbi. We ordered from the first stall we came to and though June later scouted ahead and declared we were at the wrong stall, our herbal pork garlic soup was still better than the stuff we get in Singapore.

From breakfast we walked to Berjaya Times Square and made a bee-line for the Baskin Robbins, another treat that has gone extinct where we live. Of course, you know what else is in this building that would be a great attraction for June and me: the indoor roller coaster operated by Cosmo's World. Amy isn't into thrill rides so we abandoned her outside and paid 25RM each for an unlimited pass into the theme park.

"Supersonic Odyssey" is quite an extensive ride passing through every part of the indoor theme park. It starts high, which saves the initial clacketty climb and whizzes through a course boasting several banks and a few twists before ascending in the middle of the ride so as to plunge through 2 great non-consecutive loops before the end. We came out dizzy with wobbly legs and at least for June and me, eager to do it again later.

We didn't have much time so we went to try out the other ride that we thought was worthy of our time. "Space Attack" is a twin suspended "Viking" like ride that begins with a standard "Viking" type swing then goes into 5 rapid 360° loops one way, then another 5 backwards. Oh, the screams! Thrill factor way above the coaster I would say.

We were needed back at our hotel soon, so Vince ran off to find Amy while June and I stayed on to ride the coaster one last time to get our money's worth. We walked back to the hotel drenched in a sudden downpour.

As soon as we got ourselves showered and dry,Weng brought in Edward and Cheryl to meet me to rehearse our tribute to Anthony and Wendy. It was a short, [mostly] true dramatization of the love story behind the happy couple. Obviously, Edward played Anthony and Cheryl played Wendy. Weng was the narrator and also Wendy's mom, and me, well, I played "everyone else": Anthony's friend, Wendy's friend, and boring lecturer. Perfect casting, then.

Our "play" seemed to have gone down well. No vegetables came hurtling down our way, but that was probably because we were scheduled to go on before the dinner's first course.

You already know how the wedding went so skip to the next day where the 4 of us went back to look for our elusive pork soup for breakfast and went to the right place this time. Unanimously, we decided that yesterday's was marginally better.

Back at the hotel, June and I had a little time to kill before catching our coach back to Singapore. The 4 of us explored the hotel swimming pool and spa then went up to the 19th floor lounge for another round of coffee/tea and a read of the daily newspaper. We met Weng, Luanne and Desmond there too and yakked a bit before we had to leave. Amy and Vince were booked on a later coach so we took leave of them too, leaving them to their own devices until check-out time.

Waited for the coach at the place where it dropped us off the night before, which was the wrong place to catch it again. Fortunately, we were a little early so we decided to explore the area while we waited, and found the coach parked around the corner where other passengers were boarding. That was a lucky break for us.

Home by 1700. What a weekend!

Sunday, July 03, 2005

We're back from KL, and Anthony's officially hitched! He and Wendy signed on the dotted line at the Ceylon Coffee House in a small outdoor ceremony followed by a sit-down fork-and-knife dinner. Weng, the MC, Best Man, Wedding Coordinator was the most stressed-out person on the spot. I know how he feels, at managing events as complex as this.

It was a theme party to the theme of 'Never-Neverland' and most of us invited came in some kind of attire based on 'Peter Pan.' The four of us, me, June, Vince and Amy likewise dressed up for the occasion:

4 Neverlandists await the arrival of the Pan Posted by Picasa

How does this hapless landlubber know my sword's only made of plastic? Posted by Picasa

Oh, for a life on the sea! Posted by Picasa

My digicam's quite useless for night shots so unfortunately I couldn't get too many more pix. Hope Luanne will develop some of her shots from her roll for us...