Thursday, October 30, 2008

Settling in

Refugee reporting in from the homeless shelter. New owners have taken over the old place, new place so close to completion, but not in any habitable condition yet. Cats are totally upset, but they're spending the next couple of nights at a pet hotel (a.k.a. pet shop) while we and Q-tip are bunking in at M-i-L's. Just another day more...

Been checking out the neighbourhood in the meantime. It's only a seven minute walk to the mall, so I went whole hog and did the urbanite thing by getting a new book for the bookshelf (Gaiman's latest, "The Graveyard Book"), and reading it at the Coffee Bean while sipping a regular Black Forest ice blended. I got my watch battery changed, browsed the latest PC game releases and made inquiries about a possible HD upgrade at Starhub. Checked out the cinema on the top floor, and decided there wasn't anything worth watching this week. 

Looks like everything I might need and want is here within easy reach, plus the walk there and back should help burn off some calories while I'm at it.

Look out, sleepy backwater town, your new neighbour has arrived!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Too easy credit

June's cheques are bouncing, and that's odd because there's sufficient funds in her account, but no money is being withdrawn at all. There are no mistakes in the cheques that have been returned either, so that deepens the mystery.

When she called the bank, this is what she discovered: The cheques she was using came from a new chequebook the bank had thoughtfully sent over. However, the cheques in this book were not being drawn from her bank account, they were for a credit facility called "Cashline" which June did NOT sign up for.

Cashline acts like a credit card, except in cheque form, and the cheques June has been signing for our contractors have mostly been above the facility's credit limit, hence the bouncing. However, some of the smaller cheques did clear and, holy #%$@, there's a daily rated interest that accompanies each cleared cheque. That's so unecessary for us since we're paying everything by cash (no wonder we're so broke) and hence there is no need for us to incur any interest charge whatsoever.

Fortunately for us, the bank waived all interest charges after June kicked up A Big Fuss over how the chequbook so conveniently appeared with no proper explanation -- or even differentiation from normal bank account chequebooks -- for its use.

Banks can be too proactive with their services to their customers. Automatic approval is not always a good thing, especially when they approve things they don't inform us of beforehand. So BEWARE when receiving chequebooks in the mail. Check the account number very carefully, and make sure it tallies with an account you are familiar with, before using.

Current status of June's Cashline chequebook: shredded and burned, existing only as a carbon emmission polluting the upper atmosphere.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Thank you for the music

There isn't much music that can truly be described as "evergreen", but if anyone deserves the appellation, ABBA does. ABBA may be a guilty pleasure to listen to now, but their brand of disco was mostly fun and baggage free, and their simple tunes and catchy beats give them extra, if unintended, longevity at the KTV lounge.

ABBA music is easy for anyone to identify with, because underneath all the fluff it captures a full range of emotions that are part and parcel of people's experiences through the many different levels of relationships they have with one another. And Mamma Mia proves that ABBA music really has something for everyone.

Mamma Mia (a.k.a. "My Big Fat Greek ABBA Wedding") essentially depicts a reunion of old friends who have not seen each other for the last 20 years. It is the wedding that brings them back together, and it becomes an opportunity to confront the secrets and issues that drove them apart all those long years ago.

Apart from exploring estranged relationships, the movie also celebrates the rock-solid friendships that have stood the test of time. It is a kind of tightness that the many years of separation cannot wear away. Old friends picking up where they had left off, each having grown in experience doing different things, yet when coming together it's like no time at all between them.

60 is indeed the new 20. The energy output of the main cast fronted by Streep and Brosnan in their dance, and all the running around they do show the great shape they're in. A generation or so ago, 60 was sagely and settled, yet these guys are still chasing dreams and are still looking for "the one". Yay for youth and life even as we grey!

As for the dance sequences, although mass dance plays a big part it isn't quite as Bollywood as some people might have described. If anything, it is both a tribute to and a parody of the Bollywood style in the simplicity of the movements and its occasional silliness (check out the "Lay all your love on me" sequence).

And through it all, ABBA music supports the action. There are a few liberties taken with the lyrics to fit the scene (even then the "Winner takes it all" sequence didn't quite make sense), but generally ABBA writes in a very conversational style such that the songs blend in easily with the spoken script. And yet, the lyrics convey a powerful emotive force, from being young and in love, to being heartbroken, to wisps of nostalgia in watching a child grow up and away.

I suppose for me, Mamma Mia gives me a little hope as I age too. I've never done anything wild and crazy, never done anything I might regret, never been a rebel and explored my own hopes and dreams (can't even remember what they were any more), but with an ABBA anthem in my 'pod and a reasonably healthy bod, I have been assured that it is never too late.

Right to die, not left to die

Would it be a good idea to legalize euthanasia* like today's ST suggests? The process sounds so easy:

"Say you are dying of an illness and your doctor pronounces that you have no more than three months to live. Worried that your last days will be racked with unbearable pain, you ask to die.

Two doctors certify that you are of sound mind and have made the request voluntarily. They administer you with a drug overdose. Several minutes later, you are dead."

That could be the problem. If it sounds too easy, it could be too easy. Do we really want life -- anyone's life -- to end so easily?

Perhaps I'm in no position to judge at this time, but I think that the right to die should be fought for and won, rather than being freely given by the sagely nods of two doctors' heads.

We fight for everything else in life, the right to be free, the right to live, the right to be independent, the right to acquire resources, and after having fought for all that to throw everything away to excercise the right to die seems rather like a waste of everybody's time and effort to win it all in the first place.

I'm not unsympathetic to the plight of the terminally ill. I'm ok with having a process in place that will ultimately get someone what they want. I'm just saying the process shouldn't be too easy (or as easy as what ST described).

Let's go case-by-case. Wanna die badly enough? Then prove how badly you want it: fight for your right to die, win it, then die with some real pride. Who knows? The process itself could be so arduous it might actually kill you, but that's what you wanted in the first place, isn't it? Sounds like win-win to me.

*full story requires subscription

Floored and comatose

Isn't it that the older we get the less sleep we need? So why is it that this week my sleep habits are completely in disarray? Uncharacteristically, my brain has been shutting down earlier in the night than usual, on average at around 2200, and I've more often than not just fallen asleep wherever I am -- usually the nice, comfortable floor. Can't beat that back support!

Hence, I realize, no posts this week. I've been making short, almost daily updates on my t-blog with pix of the renos at the new place. Making pithy small talk with fellow homemakers has been fun, but that's about the intellectual capacity I've been able to muster these last few days.