Saturday, October 29, 2005

Day began with June waking up earlier than me, an unprecedented event on Saturday morning. She did a little marketing then returned to awaken me for breakfast. Chong Pang market for chui kueh, yu tiao and tau huay on a brekkie delivery run to the Wongs in Sembawang.

We rushed back home to get Q-tip bathed, then back off to Bishan Park for more 'blading. Meantime, I'm coordinating orders for a KFC take-out which Amy picked up for us on her way over. By the time June, Q-tip and I arrived, Vince and NBS had already done quite some exploring of the park on their rented in-lines. JY joined us soon after and we all had a picnic under the trees when Amy pulled in with our lunch orders.

After another hour or so in the rink, we broke up the party and took Q-tip home to get her ready for tonight.

Robertson Walk threw a "Halloween with a Howl" event in which pet owners could bring their pets and dress in costume for prizes. Posted by Picasa

Q-tip went as a fairy dogmother. Haha. Posted by Picasa

But in order to participate in the festivities, we had to spend some money at any of the F&B places there. We chose Bistro Cameleon where the tuna sashimi salad (above) was deliciously fresh, the tuna so smooth, and the garlic chips were surprisingly addictive. Posted by Picasa

My order was the hot-plate beef (again served with those yummy garlic chips). The beef was tender, juicy and had streaks of cow fat, so it tasted really good. Have to remember not to soak the beef too long in shoyu. It doesn't need to be that salty. Cameleon's menu prices don't seem too expensive for individual items, but it all adds up if you lose control and order whatever the staff recommend. Posted by Picasa

The coupon booklet entitled Q-tip to a free pedicure (above), us to free ice-cream, and some discounts on other stuff we bought for her, like food and fashion accessories. Blush. Posted by Picasa

But when the festivities ended, we were such lucky sods. We walked away with the 3rd prize in the Grand Lucky Draw, thanks to No. 0040 who didn't collect the prize she won, thus causing the re-draw that our ticket won. $100 worth of Centrepoint vouchers, though only redeemable at Robertson Walk. Good enough! Food and drink. What better way is there to spend unearned money?

Friday, October 28, 2005

This is Amy's car as at 0709hrs. A dark green Echo. The interior has lots of nooks and crannies to fill up with all sorts of her plushies.

This is my CT for this year. Congrats on your promo results. It's great you're all staying together next year! Keep up the good work, 'k?

And as of 1620hrs today, Echo got traded-in for Amy's new car: a pearl-white Swift. Hardly any space for plushies, except for a cubby hole in the front dash. It's now being occupied by a duck and a baby seal jostling for elbow-room with a blue hippo. Good luck!

Too bad Anthony isn't around to see the car-shopping process we started through to completion. But he's off to Japan so he's probably got the better end of the deal.

Since we're on the subject of halloween, this news item is just sad. click.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Just realized that Halloween is around the corner and for the first time in 4 years, I haven't made any plans for it. When I first proposed the idea in 2001 to the college I had a great team of librarians (led by ZL who was heart 'n soul of the inaugural fete) whose ingenuity and passion overcame our meagre resources and made it a truly memorable event, for me at least. 2002 we had a 'live' band jam session and a movie screening, 2003 a bhangra-themed event (although I suspect the bhangra music was more accidental than planned). And 2004, despite the valiant efforts of the Drama Club, and a few other CCAs, that was all she wrote for our post-exam celebration. Doubt it'll ever be revived again, and suddenly I'm in mourning.

Times have certainly changed. In these last couple of years, the JC1 cohort lost the post-exam period. That's because immediately after the promo exams were over, they all had to face a real Cambridge exam -- PW. And a lot of importance has been attached to this new subject, too. It amounts to 10% of local uni admission criteria and as such it's not to be trifled with. Kids are all so busy preparing for the exam after the exam there's no time to celebrate the end of their first year in college. As of last year, we threw a party, but hardly anyone came. This year, no one can be bothered any more.

What's ironic is that before PW became serious the kids were informally working on a real project that actually had to come to fruition -- they had to pull it off for real. They were already collaborating with one another, and even across disciplines by involving talents and skills from a variety of CCA groups who were willing to pitch in mostly for the fun of it (ok, maybe I'm romanticizing a little here). They had to plan schedules and activities, organize logistics, mobilize human and economic resources, and be ingenious in creating something out of very little. There was an actual purpose behind the Halloween Project. It was entertaining, it was student-led and run, it was creative, it was compassionate (proceeds went to charity), and there was potential for community outreach as well, given time.

Wait. Did I say Halloween is dead because of PW? Maybe not. It'll take a brave PW supervisor to mobilize a CT's worth (or two) of project groups to make Halloween the focus of their group projects. Each group could focus on different aspects of organizing the festival, after all according to the Ministry, the project task -- regardless of how the question words it -- is flexible enough to accommodate any proposal the kids wish to put up.

Halloween might be the perfect project focus because of its timing in the PW cycle. All the plans have to be laid down, carried out and documented in the groups' Written Reports; following which there are a few days left before Halloween to get the logistics and publicity together; there can be one huge bash involving the entire college and maybe the community outside as well; and everything ends just in time for the groups to report on their involvement during the Oral Presentation.

But like I said... that's gotta be a brave PW supervisor, or a pretty smart one, anyway. He or she will have to run by his or her own schedule, not necessarily in keeping with the college's schedule but still abiding by Cambridge's. Not easy. Anyone wants to revive Halloween, next year's JC1 tutors?

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

I hadn't anticipated it, but it's turned into another mad week. PW rehearsals seem to be going ok. The kids are taking this last stretch of the PW cycle seriously, maybe because most of their hard work is done already. Now it's time for the assessors to get into full gear rehearsing, assessing, commenting, calibrating and recalibrating our standards so as to be as fair as possible to all students in the final assessment exercise.

It's going to be like this for the rest of the week, plus a few other duties and details to take care of as well.

Am lookin' forward to the weekend already...

Monday, October 24, 2005

Since Anthony visited Blue Jaz a couple of weeks ago, he's been highly recommending the place to us. Today we got our chance to see it for ourselves. It's located on the corner of Ophir and Beach Roads, parking is anywhere in the Arab Street area -- it just takes patience and just a little luck, especially around lunchtime.

We sat in the outdoor area under a large canopy. It happened to be breezy and cool at the time, so outdoors was a good choice. No set lunch today, but today's special was the sirloin steak. It was quite a large chunk, quite thick and reasonably tender. On the side were a handful of crispy home fries and a stir-fry of zucchini and carrot. I ordered my steak rare but it came medium instead -- pink inside, not bloody. Kitchens tend to be rather conservative around here, I guess. Price-wise, for my steak and fresh lime juice: roughly $11.50. Not bad, indeed.

It rained for a spell during lunch, but the canopy held up well and we didn't even get splashed. But the one important thing I found out about this place is that it probably is pet-friendly, as long as we sit outside. "Probably," because the wait staff said, "yes," but her face looked doubtful. Q-tip will have to take her chances if we bring her next time.

Amy and NBS abandoned us after lunch, not at all interested in our after lunch activity: to drive over to Weng's and use his PS2 for the rest of the afternoon. Male bonding time, then, over Pringles, Tai Sun garlic flavoured peanuts, coffee and Konami's "Winning Eleven 8." At this game, Vince and Anthony make a pretty good team. Weng and I are still barely getting used to the controls. Silly afternoon. Wheeee!

Sunday, October 23, 2005

We introduced Q-tip to JY today. Q-tip seems to be the perfect advertisement for owning a pet because she has such a good public face. She's quiet, unexciteable, fluffy and allows strangers to pet her. No biting, no barking; sometimes it seems she isn't even a real dog at all but a toy -- a bicycle with training wheels on. Hee.

But because we had a dog in tow, we had to lunch at dog-friendly Acacia rather than at J8, our original plan. No regrets, though. Acacia serves up very generous portions of presentable food, particularly from the a la carte menu. No set lunch on weekends.

My fettuccini with mushrooms and ham was such a delight. The pasta was bouncy and the cream sauce was light and tasty. There was an assortment of mushrooms and small chunks, rather than slivers, of ham. Each mouthful had a satisfying bite to it, and it all went down easily without the feeling that it was too heavy a meal.

Amy's orange duck looked gorgeous: the drumstick lashed with an attractive orangey-red gravy and resting on a mound of mashed potatoes. JY ordered a wild mushroom salad. She went wild over the sauteed mushrooms but couldn't finish her salad. But June's fish 'n chips came in such a huge platter that even with us picking from her plate, there were still quite some chips and June's 2nd chunk of fish remaining at the end of our meal. We were sorry to see it wasted, but there was no help for it. Where's NBS when we need her?

Amy was tired out from last night's nuptial duties (er... coordinating the festivities, not what it sounds like) so no bike for her. June kept her company in the shade but JY and I hit the rink again after lunch. Yay! After 3 sessions, JY is off the railing and is gliding on her own. She still takes tumbles every now and then but she's learned to fall without hurting herself, and she can stand up again without assistance. She's moving with much more confidence and all that's left, as I told her, is to work on looking like she was enjoying herself. Q: can JY rollerblade now? A: She's passed basic theory. More learning needed, but congrats for making it this far.

Next step: to do the stuff the inline hockey guys were training to do. Hur hur.