Friday, June 25, 2010

Start your engines

I've been in hibernation. Long hols effectively cut me off from social interaction. There's little reason to meet anyone, no collaborative agenda to accomplish, hardly any requirement to leave the house except for meals or the occasional airing. In this state of temporary isolation, one gets out of practice with basic conversational skills and when everyone is called back to commemorate the end of our social winter, the buzz of meeting everyone again takes quite some getting used to.

We are facing down the last weekend right now. The engine's been idling, now engaging first gear... Staff spent half the day with our usual pre-term opening meeting and being introduced to the newbies joining our ranks effective immediately. Second half my group got a tour of Jurong Island -- a rarely-seen section of our little nation because there really is no reason to go see it on a casual basis. It's a mass of storage facilities, a spaghetti of pipes running all over the place, steel geometric structures everywhere at a scale that the layman's mind can scarcely take it all in.

It's Mordor, only much cleaner and far more orderly. Probably every single thing that has been manufactured for mass consumption has passed through this tiny section of this tiny island as some form of petro-chemical raw material. I couldn't help thinking about our contribution to global warming considering how much toxic greenhouse gas and other materials we're processing right here and shipping off to the rest of the world.

Capped off the day with a refreshingly mundane meeting of friends at Amy's. A great chance to practice my social skills before term starts. Two birthdays to celebrate over fried chix, Japanese pizza(!) and chocolate cake. I think we must have hit some kind of chronological barrier because the Wii was promising a really mad, noisy session of hilarity and general chaos, but we spent the evening in table conversation and general gossip instead. And everyone, myself included, preferred it that way.