Saturday, January 31, 2009

Hiking Henderson

Hiked the Southern Ridges with Cat and Sam. It was an excellent day for trekking as it was neither too hot nor wet enough to favour bed and blankie over the great outdoors .

It was also an opportunity to meet Sam's folks again, old friends they are from TO days. They did well to keep up with us most of the way, but eventually they left us young 'uns to finish the trail, or rather, until we reached the Hort Park before turning back.

Have to apologise to Cat for turning down her lunch offer. We'd already had it in our minds to reward ourselves with Belgian mussels, and we would not be turned from our culinary objective. All I can say is, we were not disappointed. Mmmm... mussels.

Jen hosted us at dinner at her place. We sampled her experiments with sambal pasta, chix rice balls and her apple juice/7-Up beverage and pronounced them most savory. No leftovers -- is that a compliment to the chef, or what?

A quick shoutout to Felicia and Jessica, new friends Jen introduced to us over dinner. Hi!

Friday, January 30, 2009

Girls and gaming

When I was considering a marriage partner, one characteristeric of the girl of my dreams was that she would enjoy video gaming as much as I did. I could see us pairing up online and adventuring together, hacking and slashing our way to wealth and glory, at least in the virtual world.

June, who I married, is no gamer. All our adventures have been in the real world, and online I still game solo. That is, until she discovered PS on FB.

PS is a game she plays online with her FB friends. It's partially a home-builder's dream in which a key objective is to furnish and decorate the player's virtual home with all the splendours of opulence as the player can afford with the credits earned through playing the game. The player's avatar likewise gets decked out with the the rarest and most lavish couture and accessories virtual money can buy. In a sense, it's transferrance at work: our materialistic fantasy life actualized through a game that rewards pro-social behaviour and a keep-up-with-the-jonses motivation for keeping gameplay fresh and active.

Because of the competition to accumulate wealth, there has developed an almost real-world economy for the game world. Real people -- friends and strangers -- are talking to each other through an online forum inquiring, offering, trading, begging, basically bartering virtual items for the rarer and more in-demand commodities. That, I guess, is where the real fun is.

Now June and May have plunged themselves into the PS game world and are now serious traders in hard-to-acquire goods. It started with a stroke of luck in running across a hot item and making a good trade, spinning off enough capital to seek out more... rinse, repeat, make more profits.

Oh, and I get to help out too, questing for stuff they are likely to sell, and because they are the more market-savvy ones, I leave the selling to them.

So I've got my wish, after all. My wife and I are in a non-violent adventure to acquire obscene amounts of virtual social standing and commensurate ostentation, though I'm kinda' missing the gore and tension of a more visceral survive-or-die struggle. Still, it's a start.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Shoulders of giants

So good to have Tina back to guide the Drama Club this year. Steph did a fantastic job last year, but with the ambition and scale of my vision for the Club, I think Tina has the influence and standing to make it happen.

Hey, I can so dream big, ok?

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Settled in

Finally, we can say we've completely moved into our new digs. The last room is clear of our stuff and we can see the floor once again. Operation Spring Clean has been a resounding success. We're so proud of ourselves... well, mostly June. Heh.

Already we can say the cats have settled down as well. They're so comfortable, they've already destroyed our brand new sofa! Poor sofa.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Years in the making

Haven't seen Lil and Mike for a while, but they've arrived from TO to catch up with us, bringing their little one in tow. This meeting, several years in the making, saw us convening at the PS Cafe, Dempsey Hill, to devour pastries, sip beverages and share accumulated gossip about our absent friends we used to hang out with long ago. Here we are considering how to divvy up five profiteroles drowned in dark chocolate sauce among seven of us, with more desserts to follow.

The company looking totally stuffed after a good feeding. We shared a variety of a la mode cakes. Yums.

We came to the conclusion that we should meet more often than just once a year. We were once a tight knit bunch way back in TO, and there's no reason why that has to change, even though some time has passed between us since we last saw each other.

Urgency bordering on desperation

Between reunion dinner and reunion coffee, June and I took Aunt Shirls to absorb the atmosphere of Chinatown on CNY eve.  This is the first time Shirls has dropped by to celebrate CNY with us, so we thought it would be most memorable if we plunged her straight into the heart of the dragon itself.

As expected, Chinatown was bursting at the seams with bargain hunters, last-minute shoppers and tourists. Human physical contact was frequent, limited mostly to shoulder charges and elbow jabs; though I must add in a non-threatening form, just enough to avoid traffic from seizing up altogether. Stallholders hawked their discount prices over portable amp systems adding to the general chaos and confusion.

We we there only from about 2000-2100, early enough to soak up the excitement without feeling a complete loss of control over the situation. Any later -- say around midnight -- all bets are off. By then, most people would have been done with their reunion dinners, and prices would have reached rock-bottom, triggering the buying frenzy of the patiently circling, milling, gathering crowd. No, we were long gone by then, the only purchase we made was a new pair of flip-flops to replace Shirls' shoes which were giving her blisters.

Must make a note of the public restroom facilities at Chinatown MRT which under no circumstances I would have even approached except in dire necessity. Surprisingly, despite the crowd and its urgency bordering on desperation, people arranged themselves within orderly queues behind their unit of choice and patiently bore out their turn.

My particular *ahem* need was for the cubicle, for which I had to wait a bit longer. Butt instead of the hellhole I was expecting I found myself in a clean, dry space with lots of TP to spare. Even the seat was spray-free, if a tad warm. It was a pleasant surprise because the crowd comprised a large proportion of people who do not have a particularly strong reputation for their toiletry habits. Perhaps it's time to rethink the stereotype.

Made it back to Dad's for the usual family coffee and riot to count down the new year.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

I live at mumble, mumble...

Here's an interesting article about place names that have changed in meaning due to changes in language use over time. Once respectable addresses are now the butt of jokes, much to the embarrassment to the good folks in residence there.

Perhaps they should now just opt to have their correspondence via email instead. Like for example,