Saturday, March 25, 2006

June and I met JY, Tonn and Thad at ECP. Bicycle rental for me and the 2 girls, the guys 'bladed. We covered pretty much the entire stretch of beach on either side of the McD's, about 2 hours of cardio-vascular activity for us.

Put all the calories lost back with interest at lunchtime. Went to Swenson's at Parkway Parade where I ordered the unhealthiest-looking thing on the menu: the Cheesy Beef Burger. But it was the first time I have gone into a Swensons and left without ordering ice-cream. Dessert we saved for New Zealand Natural: mocha almond fudge+walnut butterscotch for me, and chocolate ecstacy+vanilla classic for June. Mmm...

M-i-L signed Q-tip and Mimi up for a "Dog Parade contest" at this RC block party in Toa Payoh this evening. The programme involved some karaoke items, a balloon artist, and us, the canine celebrities of the day.

Each handler did a catwalk (how ironic) with our dogs who were mostly dressed to impress the audience. There were a couple of nudie entries like the retriever and the westie, but it was the smaller, dressier dogs that got the gasps and the applause. And the photo ops.

The contest results were exactly the same as the last time: Q-tip (Miss looking-fab-in-her-faux-Burberry's-trenchcoat) was 2nd runner-up; Mimi (Miss Personality/Photogenic) emerged the Champion. They won a doggie hamper (sponsored by Annie's Pets Corner) and a trophy each. So Neopets.

More pix here.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Began the day with news that my timetable will increase by 4-and-a-half more hours per week, which I kinda' expected it would. The difficulty is in getting myself acquainted with another bunch of J2's who are already used to one tutor and now have to get used to a new one: me. And I only have 6 months or so to get them up to standard for their 'A's, though as of right now, I'm told, they aren't doing very well. A challenge, then.

Also began preparations with Vince, Nirmy, Cynth and Boss Lady for a 2-hour long presentation on critical thinking for a bunch of Ps and Vice-Ps of our cluster. When we gave this presentation to our own staff sometime last year, we never expected the upper-echelons to take us so seriously and offer us to such scary levels. Hope we won't disappoint.

1 piece of good news I did receive was that my request to push back PUS submission deadlines was cheerfully granted, so we -- me, Mel, Gerald and the PUS kids -- can breathe a little easier next week.

Went to lunch with Amy and Dee. I haven't had a Han's black pepper steak in nearly 10 years, but it's still quite good value for money. Food-court style steak with emphasis on "pepper." It burns lips, tongue and stomach, but what a feeling! I extinguished the flames with an iced lemon tea, and unless I'm mistaken, it isn't the usual post-mix crap but the real stuff -- real tea, real lemon, real cold. The set also includes garlic bread (slightly over-toasted walnut bread) and a slice of mystery fruit (which I declined to touch). $7.50 for the lot. 10 years ago when I was dirt poor, this was a luxury meal. Today, it's comfortably affordable. Life is good.

Joined Vince almost immediately after lunch at Friends to keep him company while he marked exam scripts. I still had a bunch of scripts too, so it was quite a productive hour of marking and having tea. Discovered that Friends offers a home-made variety of vanilla ice-cream which is beautifully rich and flavourful. It even has traces of raw, ground-up vanilla beans speckling the white, creamy goodness. This is one place to remember for ice-cream.

Spent the rest of the evening photographing the O2 Finale dance party. Not sure why even, 'cos no one's been assigned to write the story. But if it's pix you be wantin', you can get 'em here.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Another satisfactory day of marking. Maybe it's because most of the essays I'm marking actually have some decent current affairs content and language usage. And most essays come in legible handwriting too.

A few of these scripts overshot the 800 word limit too, so I'm going to have to advise some students to be more concise. But there are a couple of other students who turned in scripts lazy as heck, who tried to pass off clever rhetoric as arguments, cliches in place of of evidence, theories instead of facts.

The general problem for this tutorial group is that they present topical knowledge (of which they do have some, thankfully) without likewise presenting a clear opinion on the topic. It's a start, at least.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

I was a good boy today for having put a major dent in my marking load. Hope I can keep it up and not get distracted with other activities over the next few days, then I can start wearing all my other hats again with a clear conscience.

Rewarded myself by watching my "Mirrormask" DVD this evening. Weird. Most of the movie takes place in a dream. It's a blend of 'live' action with Henson puppetry with CGI, and often it's hard to tell which is which.

Gaiman's designs are as surreal as they are bizarre. Strange creatures like headless storks that make up a police contingent, dove-apes that prefer swinging to flying, a spider that doubles as the Black Queen's eye, petrifying tendrils of darkness that sweep relentlessly across the cityscape... the brain works overtime interpreting the visual stimulus and trying to make sense of it all.

The experience is like having a nearly 1-hour long hallucination without having to consume drugs. I kinda' liked it for the story, but the surreal elements got too much for me. I'm pretty sure my own dreams are less fanciful, more realistic -- and I found this dream hard to accept and believe in after a while. Thankfully, the movie is relatively short.

Think I would have enjoyed the story more reading it than watching it. But that's just me.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Marking season is upon us again, but Vince found time to make up for his rain check from June's dinner. NBS, who was likewise absent with apologies last Saturday, joined us at Shima Aji for the sashimi buffet.

The raw fish, as usual, was delightful. I tried the tempura shishamo -- done so crispy there was nothing left to waste. And with the delicate little fish eggs rolling around on the tongue, it was quite an experience. It had a strong fish oil taste, though, like a dose of cod liver oil with every bite; so I could only manage downing 2 fish before the law of diminishing returns kicked in.

Washed down with lots of wasabi and green tea, it really was a good dinner.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

We took Mimi home to M-i-L's this afternoon. Mimi's had a long vacation with us -- about 3-4 weeks -- in which she went out with us quite a lot. She won't get many chances to take car rides when she's home, but we feel that at least she won't be so starved of human company there, compared to our place where for much of the day there's only Q-tip and the cats to entertain her.

Mimi may be a noisy little thing, and combined with Q-tip the mess they make can be quite a headache, sometimes, but we're going to miss her. Always following us around, snuggling up to us whenever she gets a chance, asking for tummy-rubs, going mad whenever we come home... Q-tip could learn a thing or two from her.

Hope the folks at home remember to keep brushing her teeth.

June's big day yesterday. Celebrated at (relatively) dog-friendly Sunset. Posted by Picasa

It was a simple affair: called a few friends together, made dinner reservations, ordered a cake from Awfully Chocolate, picked out a token gift from Mintmark & Co.... There were still a couple of hitches and hiccups 'cos I'm not exactly the best of social event organizers, but things went mostly according to plan.

Happy birthday, June!

Glad to have these guys around to help me celebrate with June! Hope everyone had a good time! Posted by Picasa