Saturday, September 12, 2009

Mmm, more mussels

First, I have to apologise to Cat and Sam for taking a rain check on our lunch date. It completely slipped our minds that June and I had a prior engagement for a detoxing treatment until we got a late reminder yesterday.

We'll get our dates right next time, 'k?

Anyway, after detoxing we went straight back to devouring this lovely pot of Belgian mussels (moules au vin blanc). We've had our eye on Oosters at Suntec City for a while already, and since we were in the neighbourhood, we couldn't pass up the opportunity.

All we needed between ourselves was this 1kg pot of mussels, cooked soft and tender, simmering in this clear vegetable soup that was knockout delish. But that's not all, this order also comes with a side of fries and two dipping sauces: creamy mayo and honey-mustard. That would actually have sufficed, but we got greedy and shared an onion soup as well. A bit salty, that one, but a liberal sprinkling of parmesan put things right... for me, at least.

Although this place prides itself with its range of imported beers, it served ice-cold water to us two cheapos at no charge. Nice.

Rag(dolls) against the Machine

"9" is a melange of plot elements from "Terminator", "Half-Blood Prince" and PS3's "LittleBigPlanet". The leading characters are LBP's Sackboy-like ragdolls numbered from 1 to 9, each with his (or her in 7's case) own personality traits. They are mechanical beings physically, but are animated with a life force that is a source of both energy and intelligence for them.

The ragdolls are the only semblance of life remaining on a completely devastated world that has seen a global war between organic life and machines, with the machines coming out tops. Nothing biological has been spared, and in a macabre twist to functionality, the self-replicating machines salvage human and animal bones to incorporate into their own designs.

The ragdolls are hopelessly outmatched as they seek sanctuary from the marauding machines. It is only when 9, the latest and most improved model, awakens that sanctuary is no longer an option because he holds the secret to bringing life back to the world. He just has to discover what it is first, by piecing together the clues left behind by his creator. Complication: he doesn't get it right the first time and as a result makes a bad problem even worse.

This was a fun movie to watch because the trials these tiny ragdolls have to undergo seem so insurmountable. The balance of combat strength between them and their mechanical adversaries is completely asymetrical, but they do prevail with ingenuity, cooperation and a pretty strong survival instinct. But frail as they are, some sacrifices are made along the way.

It may be animated, but it isn't cute. It has rather dark themes too, so it's not really meant for the kiddies. Just as well. I'd say with the complex story, the drama and pathos, and the quirky bizarreness of the entire concept, "9" is one of the better movies of this year.

Friday, September 11, 2009

On the 5th day, he rested

Tired of my labours, I took the day to just enjoy lunch with NBS whom I haven't seen in ages. Well, since Monday, anyway. She's been doing me a small favour of which I don't have the liberty to discuss here. Spoilt myself with a carbonara and an RB float at New York New York. Not sure what my Wii Fit taskmaster would say about that, and I don't intend to find out. The Wii stays off today.

NBS noted how I've been spending the week wandering the island alone. I have to acknowledge that that is the reality of my situation. Looking ahead, when it's time for me to retire, the people I hang out with now will be only just peaking at their careers. There's a gap of a whole decade at least before the oldest of them will be able to join me rocking our chairs, together on the porch of our retirement home while we watch the world go down in flames.

But what the heck am I supposed to do for 10 years until then? And in the meantime, a lot of things could happen in 10 years, especially for someone that advanced in age. So either I get used to my own company, or I keep right on working and staying relevant to the world. Thus all the more reason for me to keep fit, healthy and active now, while I'm still able. After all, retirement is for old people, not me.

Thankfully, there's still June, though I wonder how she'll cope with a sexagenerian juvenile in the house? But why scare myself now? All that is still far off in the future. Let's just cross that bridge when we get there.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Knees, quads, glutes

Healthy activity du jour: A short but intense burst of 'blading at ECP
Distance: 5-6 km
Time: 1 hr.

Mundane stuff for today. Think my wheels are getting worn out 'cos I'm moving only with a lot of effort, and it's difficult to pick up any significant speed.

Felt the burn early in the knees, quads and glutes. But the pain went away as I kept pushing, and after a while, I felt I could have pushed further than I actually did. Guess that means I'm making good progress.

Kinda' makes me wonder how I'm going to find the time to keep up all this healthy activity when term begins again next week. It's almost like work and being healthy are mutually exclusive propositions.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Segway adventure

Today's healthy activity: er... well, it wasn't all that strenuous, actually. Segway riding along Tanjong and Siloso Beaches
Distance: does it matter?
Time: 1 hour

I've always wanted to ride one of these things. They seem so practical to use, so easy to get around with, and they look like a lot of fun too.

The Segway is really an expensive kick-scooter without needing the kick. The motor is battery-powered, charged from an ordinary wall socket.

The controls are intuitive, easily picked up as soon as you get on board. Lean forward to move forward and the further you lean the faster you go. Likewise lean left and right to wheel in the direction of the lean. To decelerate, lean back or return to vertical to halt. The handle grips mostly function as a point of reference so you brain knows which way to lean, but they don't actually steer the device. Just shifting your weight does the trick. Oh yeah, the handles are also a way to steady yourself over bumpy terrain.

Sentosa is the only location in S'pore that operates the business of Segway riding. The facility is at Beach Station where they offer a basic fun package, and a beach "adventure" -- guided, of course. I opted for the latter. Cost $35, and because I was alone I got a guide immediately (normally, there's a 1 hour pre-booking for a guide).

My guide was an affable chap who engaged me in easy conversation throughout the ride. Because it was just me and him, and he seemed to think I could handle my Segway with ease, after a while he raised my speed limiter from 8km/h to 20. I still couldn't catch up with him, though, and I didn't really want to. Didn't want him to think I was some kind of danger to myself and others and cut short our ride. He took the pix, in case you're wondering.

Riding the Segway is effortless fun. Once the speed limiter is off, it really moves. It requires only a little fine motor control and is quite maneuverable even within crowds of pedestrians, up and downslope even.

As a workout, it didn't work anything to speak of. Maybe an hour in the sun helped me to sweat out toxins, but that's about it. But if anyone (LTA?) is thinking of cutting off vehicular traffic from the CBD and Orchard areas, Segway rentals could be one way to do it!

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Bedok Park Connector finally found!

Today's healthy activity: Cycling the Bedok Park Connector.
Total distance: 12.4km (return)
Timing: 2+ hrs
This is the reason we never found the Bedok Park Connector, though we tried several times before. The entrance is blocked by all these construction barriers.

Finally, the entrance -- found! A steep flight of stairs leads to the tunnel under and across the ECP. There's no slope; bikes have to be manually carried down then up the stairs.

First checkpoint: Strange radio tower at the Guards' Camp.

The cycling path takes us on a tour of people's backyards and under the MRT line.

Across the canal is Big Eater, where we feasted on salt egg crab the other day. We had no idea how close we were to the elusive Park Connector we had been looking for.

After a number of traffic light pedestrian crossings, we finally reach an overhead bridge. Please alight and push your bicycle across.

Looking back from the bridge. The sky is overcast, though no rain. Perfect weather for bike-riding. No tan lines!

Earlier on, we had a little argument whether this was a canal for drainage or a concretized river. Turns out the former. The water filling the canal earlier represented high tide from the sea. The closer to the source, the drier the canal is. Can't be a river, then.

Finally, objective achieved. ECP to Bedok Reservoir Park. Discovered several other Park Connectors branching out from here. Decided not to push it but u-turned and headed back the way I came. Scroll back up slowly for the route details.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Lane workout

Today's healthy activity: bowled three straight games. Focused on keeping centred, balanced and vertical through the line-up, push-off and follow through. Also conscious of breathing and maintaining a steady rhythm, more like yoga rather than a strength/cardio workout. Everything felt aligned, except the release which tended to be inconsistent and untidy. Need more work there.

Three game average: 153, not too bad considering I haven't bowled in months.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Up early for Tiong Bahru tsui kueh

First day of the September hols. Not really much of a hol, just a short break from routine. Woke up early nonetheless for brekkie at Tiong Bahru market. Dunno why but I had a craving for the famous tsui kueh from there. Early because there we had to beat the crowd.

Parking was already crappy by the time we got there (though I got lucky with a lot just at the market entrance). Whole place has been upgraded. It's now a two-storey complex with the wet market on the ground floor and cooked food upstairs.

Was worried that the food would have been likewise 'upgraded', but the tsui kueh is still good, the shell maintaining its silky smooth texture, and the chye poh (pickled radish) filling a delicate balance of salt and sweet. Not too oily.

Oh, this stall is the one with the less flashy signage. We picked it 'cos it looked more genuine. Think we made the right choice.