Saturday, December 10, 2005

Oh, the blood... the blood... swimming in it... drowning...! When you order a rare steak at Morton's be prepared. It's gruesome, but if your stomach can take it, your mouth will thank you so very much.

How does a scribbler who promises stuff on "middle-class entertainment" get to write about a place where one entree alone costs more than what he would normally pay for a splendid dinner for 2 elsewhere? Simply, company sponsorship. June's company has finally wound up ops in Singapore and the ex-employees -- all 3 of them, and their spouses -- got together one last time at company expense to have a such a meal together that our grandchildren will hear of it when they're old enough.

Posh a nook that Morton's is, we riff-raff are still welcomed with the same courtesy as the other guests. There is a general smart-casual dress code, though we did notice a couple of youthful looking patrons in round-necked Ts.

Cutlery is basic, but attention immediately goes to the steak knife whose authority no one will question. It's heft and size put it in the 'lethal weapon' category, so it's not a good idea to have a disagreement over dinner. The spontaneity of a duel may be exciting but such activities usually end in tears and not a little blood.

Each table starts with a loaf of bread served straight from the oven and butter to go around. Soft, warm, solid, chunky bread. Delicious, but not what Morton's is famous for. When we are ready to order, a staff-member wheels over a cart and explains the menu in a show-and-tell of pre-cooked ingredients. What you see really is what you get.

There must be a trick to it: the staff bringing us our orders isn't the same as the staff who took our orders, but he knew who ordered what anyway. I had the crab cake for the appetizer. Thankfully, more crab than cake. June gave me a morsel of her Maine Lobster cocktail which was cold and fresh. But the steak entrees are enormous. Gigantic slabs of meat served only with a bit of steamed watercress(?) and done to order. Mine was a New York Strip Steak done rare . The only way to do a steak of this size justice is to carve little bite-sized chunks and just take all the time in the world savoring it piece by piece.

Veggies come as side orders. They're quite ordinary -- steamed broccoli, mashed potatoes -- but necessary to keep the guests from becoming total raptors and t-rexes. The carnage would be unimaginable.

Janice's filet mignon was a little charred and she fed back to the management which agreed and offered to replace her steak with another. Janice had already eaten too much by then and wasn't interested in another steak so the management decided to give us 1 free dessert to make up for it. 1 dessert, so I'm not sure what happened next. First an amazingly smooth bread-and-butter pudding appeared on our table for all of us to share, then an NY cheesecake (rich and creamy, though it also appears to melt in the mouth and thus it goes down oh, so lightly) made an appearance as well and was likewise devoured.

June's idea to finish with fresh strawberries (and cream whipped with Marsala wine) was a good one. Left a fresh, clean taste in the mouth as we wished each other well, hoped for success in future endeavours and staggered back to our respective transports and home.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Sick days. Yesterday at midnight, I took June to have her knee looked at. I insisted 'cos she was in a lot of pain. Doc at Silver Cross at least confirmed no bones broken but rather the ligaments were more likely to have been injured. Said to take her back for another look when the swelling subsides in the next couple of days.

By morning, she was in less pain, so that's a good sign. She could stand and hobble around again so she accompanied me as we packed up the whole family to see the vet, Q-tip and Momo for their annual shots, and Kaiser for his dihorrea problem (been too greedy, probably).

Me? I'm still not feeling all that healthy either. My screwed-up neck gives me a slight headache which my dry cough exacerbates. Sneezy too. But I pulled myself together and got onto campus to give some attention to the clutter on my desk and do the painful but necessary annual dumping ceremony. Some parts of the surface are visible again, and the piles of, er, documentation, aren't as tall as before. There's a sense of accomplishment here.

Thanks to Amy who consented to my request for "something bland" and kept me company at lunch. The staff-room's pretty deserted these days. Even the sugar-cane auntie commented that she's missed us for a while already.

June and I met Anthony, CW and Celine at MindCafe to talk about the next scavenger quest. We tried out "Guesstures" which was a bit of silly fun. Since our bill exceeded $50, I got to toss a pair of dice for a token prize. I threw a double-six for the top prize of a free pizza on our next visit. Better remind myself before I lose the voucher.

Meantime, hope health improves tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

"Secret" blade training for June today. Midday Tuesday and Bish Park is empty. The rink is deserted, the Skateline rental facility is closed and tumbleweed rolls merrily across the dusty landscape. The silhouette of a lone cactus pines away in the distance...

June and I tear up the paths together. We are familiar with them after so many rounds of training over the last few weeks. She does pretty well, 2 rounds continuous. We take a water-break at the refreshment kiosk, which is kept open, thankfully, by a chatty auntie-type. Refreshed and cocky, someone has the brilliant idea of taking the reverse path for our 3rd round. At first, things go great. June learns to pick up speed and starts to enjoy it. Then a section of the pathway we're used to huffing and puffing on an upward climb suddenly becomes a perilous plunge accelerating the unaware blader on a plummet into purgatory.

June does her best to chicken out of the run, but she's already picked up too much momentum to bleed off too suddenly. She goes sprawling onto the grass verge and, as luck would have it, smashes the unprotected part of her knee into the ground. She's able to pick herself up and walk, so probably nothing's broken, but she's in a lot of pain anyway.

As the afternoon wore on, we had lunch with Amy, then the 3 of us joined Anthony and Yee for yet another crap bowling session at CSC. June sat out on account of her injury, but by the end of our game the pain in her knee kept increasing instead of decreasing.

She refuses to seek medical attention for the moment, opting to "wait till tomorrow and see how," but in the meantime, I've got her immobilized in front of the TV. Probably want to rub her down soon, if she'll let me anywhere near that knee.

Monday, December 05, 2005

I thought that the phenomenon of campus security making up its own rules occurred only in movies involving American academia. Today I was barred from entering the college compound with Q-tip, whom I brought with me to work. Whose rule was that? Whenever did "no dogs allowed" become campus policy? How quickly people forget...

Our campus once excelled at dog-friendliness. We hosted a posse of dogs who patrolled our compound and kept it safe. They knew who belonged on campus and who didn't. At night when it got dark, the dogs were known to escort late-staying students out to the main gate. All they asked for was a meal a day and a place to stay. How much better security could we have asked for? They didn't understand much English, though. But lately, this deficiency seems less and less of a problem for the employment market.

When it was time for campus redevelopment, for their own safety the dogs had to go stay in the kennels at staff expense, which we gladly paid. Unfortunately, once the new building was complete, they didn't come back. Guess we forgot about them after that.

And now we have this lamentable situation. Here we're trying to teach our students to respect life in all its myriad forms. Human beings don't live alone on this planet; moreover, we won't survive on this planet if we became the only species of life on the planet -- which, sadly, is what we seem to be expending a lot of energy on these days. And then we implement a "humans only" policy. And we wonder why the state of the world is such. Go figure.

On a happier note, in the afternoon June, JY and I met NBS in her home element: Fuji Ice Palace. That's the 'first' I mentioned in my previous post. I miss ice-skating in winter so I took the opportunity to take my blading L-plates and see how well they can put their skills to use on ice. Pix follow:

Despite our hand signals, people continually speed past our road-block. Maybe we should also face the other way? Posted by Picasa

...3 ...4 ...5. Yup, I still have all my fingers. Posted by Picasa

JY isn't here by accident. She's here to accompany her CT kids too. Posted by Picasa

JY and June insist there should only be 2 in this picture. I'm just so thick skinned. Posted by Picasa

You guessed it! Today's secret number is 2! Posted by Picasa

And finally, we got news this evening that the scavenger quest was over and we didn't win it. :( Met with the team at Blu Jaz to comiserate over mango smoothies and chocolate shakes. And Q-tip provided some much-needed pet therapy for everyone. Good girl!
Started the day with June and JY at J8's Ya Kun Kaya. Totally screwed up my order. Instead of teh-o, I got teh, and my order of cheese toast with kaya came without the kaya. Guess the auntie at the cashier's counter didn't speak English as well as I thought. Then again, 'teh-o' isn't really English, is it?

For once, the 3 of us had a coordinated blading session in Bish Park. As a trio we circled Park II a grand total of 5 times almost continuously. It was bright sunshine today, quite the contrast from yesterday's dismal dreariness. It was still relatively early morning so we had to dodge cyclists (including a mad little boy way over the speed limit), dogs, L-plate bladers, etc., but the girls are showing great improvement. Less fear, more enjoyment, fewer falls.

Dropped JY off at home then met Weng and co. at No 49 Katong Laksa for more scavenger quest strategizing. I stole Wendy's parking space unwittingly (sorry, Wendy!) but she was prepared to be forgiving this time. This place Weng swears is the good one, and, yes it was pretty ok. Problem with laksa is that we shouldn't classify it as 'food.' It counts more like a 'snack,'and anything that tastes this good can't be healthy, anyway.

While we were there, Weng brought us to Puteri Mas where June bought a box of powerful durian puffs that didn't survive long when our little party tore into it. The sign on the shop claims "100% durian." Wonder what they make the pastry out of?

After this little motivational boost, we hit town again looking at the Orchard Road shopping malls for any sign of the next clue. But till now, we've had no luck. Bah.

All throughout today, in all this activity, I haven't been feeling so good. My bones ache, I have a slight headache, my throat is sore and I've been sneezing too. Hope it only because I slept badly last night, and not that the flu I've been incubating all year has now chosen to hatch. Not a good time, you hear? Anyway, I'll try to sleep it off tonight as tomorrow promises to be another exciting 'first.' See how.