Saturday, August 21, 2010

Shy beauty

In commemoration of today's special event, it had to be nothing less than a first class slab of beef done by people who understand the meaning of 'rare'.

This gorgeous hunk of fillet mignon was demure and fairly trembling with anticipation in my presence. As she opened up to my advances, a delightful blush of pink rose to meet my gaze; so warm and tender as she met my mouth again and again. Yes, a truly 'rare' carnal experience with such a pretty filly. She didn't come cheap either, but there was reason to celebrate tonight.

Location: Stuart Anderson's Black Angus Steakhouse, NUS Bukit Timah Campus. A touch of nostalgia too because this was my campus for  year when it was NIE, NTU, before NUS took it back. There's a smart casual dress code though we didn't see it strictly enforced.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Fire! Fire!

On the pretext that there were important papers to be signed in the staff lounge, dNYel had me charging straight in, wondering why there was so much fuss over such a minor issue. Once inside, they sprang a real fire for me to fight. The flames were huge and I couldn't even approach without first donning a protective fire-retardant suit and arming myself with a high-pressure hose.

Fortunately, my fire-fighting skills were as sharp as ever. When the flames finally died down, we celebrated with cake while keeping our tootsies warm in the dying embers of the sudden blaze. Toasted marshmallows would have been a nice touch to follow up.

Thanks for igniting the flames, my friends! The warmth will stay with us long after we've moseyed off into the sunset.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Service or slavery

Poor YOG volunteers. Such terrible working conditions, bad food, unappreciated servitude. I can almost feel for this forlorn complainant slogging it out at the Olympic Village. Almost.

Sorry. Whatever he may call himself, his heart and mind are not those of a volunteer. He sees himself as an indentured slave; and so he is, compelled to labour under his own sense of injustice at the drastic, if temporary, upheaval in his usual day-to-day routines.

But he is a slave with a great deal of miscarried authority. Mr Hall Supervisor is frustrated that his co-workers "are working WITH, not under" him (emphasis his), suggesting he wants to be the Big Man In-Charge. He lets this attitude carry over into his dealings with his guests! Like a tiny tinpot tyrant he tells his guests off for smoking and sitting on railings. In his sheltered world, he doesn't realise that in many countries there are far worse dangers to fear, and that the police are a source of ridicule and disrespect, or otherwise a source of terror and violence. Being a policeman to people from so many different political systems and social backgrounds is just asking to be derided at the very least. Fortunately, he hasn't been beaten up, though that may yet come in time.

Mr Hall Supervisor is more a martyr to his own cause than he is a volunteer to a cause greater than himself. He complains about unfulfilled compensation, as if compensation is a volunteer's due. Whomever plans the bigger picture can only see the bigger picture. Every specific need on the ground cannot be catered to every individual volunteer's convenience. So, yes, there will be snafus galore, but dealing with problems on the ground either shows class and personal initiative or there-I-fixed-it, happy now?

Every setback is an opportunity. Packed buses and long waits at the bus stop are really lonely when there is no one to talk to. Here the volunteers are literally rubbing shoulders with the cream of international athletics -- young, vibrant, exciting people (some might even be girls!) anxious to discover what they can about their host country -- and Mr Hall Supervisor just wants to sulk in his corner, bristling and prickling with leave-me-alone. Sigh. Such opportunities going a-begging.

We read a lot about how unnecessary the YOG was. How the money could have been better spent on ourselves instead of entertaining all these foreigners. Let's put this view in perspective. What is Singapore's core business? We'd like it to be shuffling paper in a predictable 9-to-5 air-conditioned office job, wouldn't we? That's what we exert so much energy studying to get into university for. But if Singapore is really going to survive, our place in the world is to be able to throw the biggest parties that keep international party-goers coming back for more! Realistically, there isn't much else we can offer. We have to learn to be hosts of the best hospitality and highest standards of professional, friendly service and here at the YOG , unfortunately we see some of our service staff just not being able to fit the bill. (BTW, it's his future core business as well, being a current student from **ATEC).

As a nameless events coordinator once said, 'we let you work with the stars for a WHOLE fortnight, and you still want money?!' I don't doubt that the volunteers are working hard. Long hours, blood, sweat and tears I understand. My problem is that Mr Hall Supervisor has no clue whom he is working for. Poor fellow is literally his own boss and is suffering for it.

Kid, in your own self-importance you are viewing the task as being more important than the experience. Turn it around! Time to climb out of your ostrich hole and cast you eyes towards a bigger horizon and a bigger world than you have ever imagined. Learn the difference between service attitude and servitude. And do try to get a life.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

NYeDC goes Bohemian

A bad week with lots of deadlines to meet and the grading, oh, the grading! Training temporarily on the shelf.

Most exciting thing happening, though, is the Drama Club's concert item that we're currently auteuring. It would make more sense if the staff we hope will participate can make rehearsal time, but failing which the kids will have to play teacher characters on their behalf.

Basic blocking is done, enough anyway to get us past our audition... just barely. Today we work on character interactions, scene transitions, entrances and exits, and activity specific individual movement -- all for an item just under five minutes' duration. Already lost a couple of afternoons on it, expect to lose a few more.

Hope it'll be worth it!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Paternal instinct

Said too much at lunch. We were gossipping about new dNYel staff Elim's beau whom we had seen on campus on a previous occasion. As we updated Lucy on this juicy tidbit, I intimated that as a group we did not approve of him.

First impressions, right? Compared to Ellie's immaculate, professional, confident demeanour, beau looked like an unkempt neanderthal adorned in mismatching 'zebra and leopard prints'. Not impressive at all. Tut, tut. *shakes head in despair.

But if I were to look at the situation objectively, that's how most couples look. One makes a great first impression behind which the other tends to languish. It's the same with June and me, no prizes for guessing which is which.

What if we had seen beau appearing like a suave Prince Charming instead? Heck, I'd still disapprove on grounds that such a man is only out to impress, all facade and no substance, or worse, out to cheat an innocent of whatever he can get.

If I was ever a father to a daughter, any interested boy will have to get past my shotgun first before he gets in through my front door. Bah, it's stress I don't need, and I'm thankful I don't have.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

From behind the counter

Some dNYel people plus family walked through McD's Open Doors to view the operation from behind the counter. The idea behind giving us this opportunity was to show that there are no conspiracies or hidden agenda, and that the food they serve is indeed as wholesome, clean and fresh as they claim. Considering I am one of McD's best customers, I didn't need a lot of convincing but it was worth a poke around backstage anyway.

To me, McD's is a symbol of independence. When they first opened here, I was already in my teens, mobile and in possession of  moderate teenager allowance. I could blow a week's worth on a Big Mac and Coke, but if I really wanted to, no one could say, 'no!' I'd starve the rest of the week, but that was MY decision to make, so there.

And so we toured a spotless kitchen -- spotless that is until HP dropped her milkshake and whipped cream on the floor of the freezer. Oops. We saw the process of putting together a sandwich from scratch, cooked to order on the spot. They emphasized their policy of only choosing suppliers with socially responsible and environmentally sustainable practices with no record of animal abuse, at least until the point when the animals become meat patties.

The guides fielded all kinds of questions from us quite openly. We asked about specific kitchen practices, crowd control, marketing procedures and employee issues. Above all other indicators, it is the employees themselves who are the best indicators of the worth of the company they work for. They know the ins and outs of the business and they know best when the company is trying to pull sh*t because they are the ones first impacted by it.

In this tour, the employees we met were fully committed to their employer. My last question was, 'who gets to play Ronald McD?' to which our guide instantly shot me a look of utter incomprehension and replied, 'Ronald McD is Ronald McD!' Now THAT is serious buy-in to the company's branding. If the employees believe in it, that's good enough for me.

Now, if only someone could tell me which part of the cow the beef patty comes from. They assured us that it didn't come from a sirloin, rib-eye or T-bone cut, but definitely somewhere much cheaper. But they didn't know exactly where. Oh well, as my advertising elective prof used to say, a cow is a cow is a cow. It's 100% beef, no gluten, no fillers. Any other questions?