Saturday, December 02, 2006

Edit 01:

These Finns seem to have got the Great Singaporean Pastime down to an art form! And they do it so beautifully, too! Could it be we're all Finnish(ed)?
It's very dangerous to leave me on my own on the weekend. When I'm left to my own devices, I usually end up spending money.

These I got from the Times bookshop at Marina Square. Should be loads of fun to read, but can also be used as source materials for tutorials.

Also went bowling at the CSC in the afternoon. Not a brilliant session. It was like 144 was my ceiling, attaining this exact same score in 3 separate games. Then there was the crappy 116, 119 and 122, which I will attribute to the pandemonium of a kids' party going on a couple of lanes from mine. Kids were running, screaming, and whooping it up with their noisemakers, occasionally darting across other bowlers' lanes unexpectedly. Pesky, annoying, distracting. Grr... pushing my low child tolerance to the limit.

Thankfully, they left in time for me to finish one last game in peace. Clean game, hitting a 4X4, scoring the lane's high game at 219. Oh boy, all that pent-up frustration.

Final 7-game average: 144. I swear, tomorrow's winning 4-D number will have some permutation of 144 in it somewhere. 1212? 4144?

June came home from work in time for a nice dinner at Tamoko -- mmm... salmon sashimi -- and dessert at Swenson's, Thomson Plaza. Yay!

Friday, December 01, 2006

Goodness. How important it is to use the English language properly. You can be a Hollywood celebrity, have the very best of intentions in seeking to comfort bereaved friends, eulogise a mentor and father-figure, philosophise on the fleetingness of life, and yet people are going to remember what you said with ridicule and contempt because you displayed a very poor command of the language.

Letter of Condolence, full transcript via USA Today.

Ms Lohan has some slight problems with her subject-verb agreement, but gets into more trouble with her use of prepositions. One major howler occurs in her opening sentence which unintentionally casts aspersions on Mrs Altman's fidelity and propriety due to the faulty preposition, "of". Not the most diplomatic way to address a recently-widowed friend, eh?

But her biggest problem is in writing run-on sentences and sentence fragments, which suggests that she transcribes directly from her thoughts. Few of us think in grammatical sentences, but we do bother to edit for linguistic convention in our written communication.

The quality of her writing deteriorates closer to the end of her letter, closing with some bizarre vocabulary.

If this specimen is representative of how people generally write today, then we English teachers can see two possibly outcomes: job security for life, or unemployment. Depends on how optimistic we are.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

The school hols are now in full swing. It's also the time we hear horrible rumours of this college or that college decreeing that their staff must put in a compulsory number of working hours every weekday on campus just so that they look like they are still earning their keep.

I personally do not know if such draconian measures are actually enforced, but regardless of the fact that we do not operate under a fixed timetable in this period, there still is work for us to undertake. The difference is, we have to discipline ourselves to perhaps a more flexible work schedule because our deadlines are still fixed.

We also have a choice, to work on campus or off. The staff in our college seem to choose to work on campus, strangely enough, but I rather think it's a choice we've made for ourselves and not something imposed and enforced upon us by some authority.

So why do we rank-and-file employees still report back to our workplace even during the ostensible holiday period? I think it's because our work environment allows and encourages cooperation amongst staff rather than competition between staff. There is time to relax and socialize amongst ourselves in between all the busy-ness that goes on during curriculum time.

In this environment, we've been conditioned to hang out with each other on an almost daily basis, and we miss that camaraderie when we go our separate ways during the hols. Just the possibility of having lunch company is enough incentive for us to drag our sorry butts back onto campus and put in a good few hours of focused, constructive work -- voluntarily.

How does an organization build up a motivated staff? No need for complicated and expensive "team-building" programmes, much less a "compulsory" clock in-out regime -- more like a recipe for building staff resentment. We do need meaningful tasks; clear, reasonable deadlines; an inclusive, non-threatening work environment; "white space" for socializing time; and common mealtime slots while the fixed timetable is in operation. And let the hols take care of themselves. See? We don't ask for much. :D

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

After a break since September, NY conneXions is back with fresh updates and a new look!

We've had slight problems with our latest server migration (I've already fixed the link in my Blogrolling sidebar) and we've lost a few pages and pix in the process. And granted, the new design is still a work-in-progress, but it's great to be publishing once again.

Since it's the hols, we're presenting less campus oriented articles and more articles from outside sources instead.

Loga and co., thanks for keeping us alive even though you're all supposed to be on vacation! :D

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Check out our new quilt cover from Aussino's kids' collection. A lovely pastoral scene that Kaiser can't resist being a part of. Always fancied himself living on a farm, that boy!

Monday, November 27, 2006

Finished my last invigilation duty today. Now I can sit down and plan for next year's programme. Went back on campus to have a think about the future of NY conneX, and a few fresh ideas came up. Would like to chat about them with my current staff first though, and see what they think.

Amy happened to be on campus, and HP was nearby so we lunched at Friends like we haven't done in what seems like a long time. I'm not so impressed with this month's set menu with a choice of fish 'n chips, teriyaki chicken or spaghetti for the main course. The quality is still there, but the options are a little bland this time.

Had a pot luck dinner at Aggie's place. A sort of small farewell for Vince attended by Lucy, NBS, Josh, ZC (special guest appearance!), me and June. We brought the dessert, partly financed by NBS, that June spent much of the weekend making. June makes a good almond jelly served with longans, and a konnyaku-style pandan/coconut layered agar.

Nice to be back amongst friends again!

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Shopping at Taka with June who was looking to buy her sister some l'Occitane products as a Christmas gift. Spending over $150 including 1 item from the Christmas shelf gets an FOC handbag hand-stiched in France (so no 2 designs are exactly alike) and a small sampler pack. Sis-in-law should be happy with her eye gels.

Lunched at Ambush in the Taka basement. Strange name for an Italian pasta joint, but since it took us by surprise as we were stepping off the escalator, what the heck, right? Although we were miles from Ikea, we both were craving Swedish meatballs, so we were thrilled to see a Swedish meatball pasta on offer.

It was nice that the cashier informed us that the meatballs were made of beef and pork before we confirmed our order. I was tempted to say, "Thanks for the warning, I'm vegetarian!" but I kept my mouth shut.

The pasta and the meatballs were heavy, in a rich tomato sauce, served in a large bowl. We were already full about halfway through our bowls. That's a what a good pasta does. The remainder we slowly consume as we relax and enjoy each other's company while the meal lasts.

Quite affordable, too. Most pasta dishes are below $10 each, with an additional $3.80 to make a set. We took the garlic bread and soup, the other option being dessert and a drink. The complementary cold water from a dispenser was a thoughtful touch.