Saturday, June 22, 2013

Thanks for trying, better luck next time

Tasha is so very proud of her Certificate of Participation in her novice class in basic obedience training. Notice it's for "participation", not for actually passing the course. We expected this outcome, of course. The naughty girl sat when she was supposed to "stand", stood when she was supposed to "down", remained stationary when she was supposed to "come".

It's ok. She's welcome to recourse through another 10-week ordeal for free, or until she passes. At least she showed up to take the exam.

Friday, June 21, 2013

K9 Kafe: great food in a hard-to-find location

On another pet-friendly food establishment run. We are at the K9 Kafe, Grandstand. However, it isn't actually located at the Grandstand building, but in a smaller set of buildings that might have been the stables when this place was the Turf Club. K9 Kafe is part of K9 Campus which houses dog grooming, daycare and veterinary services. The place could use better signage because it took us a couple of phone calls to the cafe for directions. Driving, you're more likely to find the place when you're almost exiting the main complex. It's right at a T-junction at the south end of the Grandstand. Don't drive too quickly or you might miss it.

On the doggie menu, Tasha enjoyed the shepherd's pie with a side of veggies.

She was really excited when the supreme pizza came. It was packed with ham, loads of cheese, some bacon and pepperoni and green peppers. It had the fragrance of very freshly made pizza, homely and it's a flavour I've missed since I got acquainted with it since TO days.

If you look past the chair, that's my burger being grilled on a propane BBQ. That's a summer tradition I've also missed since TO days. I apologize for adding more smoke to the haze but... totally worth it!

I didn't know when I ordered it but my burger was a double! The grilling left the patties juicy, but what the menu said were baby portobello mushrooms look more like champignon mushrooms to me. Eh, who cares? The whole thing was awesome to bite into, and once again, that home-made freshness came through.

The aftermath. Everything. clean. The food might have been so good because the staff probably took the time to pay attention to the details. The pace was unhurried, the portions lavish. This place could use better business, but until then it's a great place to grade assignments... with dog.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

A taste of Penang

Considering we are a group of friends who met to eat so frequently once upon a time, it's nice that we can find the time these days to meet once in a while, when one or the other of us makes a return trip to visit us here in sunny (ahem) S'pore.

Anyway, here we are at Penang Place. Really good Penang food buffet where we can stuff ourselves silly with authentic street food for a very decent price of $29.90++. How authentic? The char koay teow has see hum in it! The rojak is deliciously fruity. Beware the assam laksa -- hot on the tongue, hotter in the stomach! Be thankful for the chendol and ice kachang to cool you down after. Definitely a place we can bring parents to.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

My vacation in Bioshock: Infinite

Looks like the vacation is prematurely over. Been recalled from Columbia, but although I haven't uncovered all its secrets, I have completed the main tour.

Columbia is a city in the clouds. Set in 1912 and made to float on high by complex quantum mechanics it is a beautiful town when you arrive. It is also devoutly religious, with the citizens swayed by their leader and Prophet, Father Comstock.

While the place is quite lovely, I'm not here for the scenery. Because of what I owe on the surface, I'm up here to abduct the one thing these Columbians hold dear, their "Lamb". Upon delivery to my mysterious employers, they will "wipe away the debt".

Yes, I'm a bad person, and I know it. My presence here will disrupt the peace of this miraculous floating city and make the inhabitants very upset with me. But I never imagined that my actions would spark off a civil war, and at the same time uncover the horrifying plans Father Comstock has for the world below. The Lamb I came to take is the key.

Although I don't have much justification for my actions, it makes me feel better that the privileged Columbians are white supremacists who keep black slaves and exploit Chinese labourers and craftsmen. It doesn't help that the freedom movement (a.k.a. Vox Populi) is intent on wiping out their previous masters, so it doesn't look like I'm on anybody's side in this war. I just want to get off this cloud city with my prize and shoot everyone who tries to stop me. Simple enough.

My assets are a wide range of weapons starting with an effective sky-hook which doubles as a melee weapon as well as a means of zipping around town on sky-rails which are normally meant for mass transport. All other hand weapons are upgradable, though I prefer the carbine as rapid-fire one-shots are more accurate than auto-fire. There are also Vigors to collect: biological enhancements that allow me to do superhuman things like set people on fire or electrocute them from a distance. Occasionally, I also find articles of clothing that amplify the effects of my fighting capabilities with brief invulnerability or to extract more hurt, for example.

My fourth, and probably best asset, is the Lamb herself: a 17-year old girl by the name of Elizabeth. She sees me as her best ticket out of town. Because she is special, she is confined, groomed, experimented on and her only friend before my arrival is a giant bio-mechanical monstrosity she calls Songbird. Did I say she was special? She can open doors to other realities and make them real in this one. Apart from gun turrets and medical supplies which she can call into action to help our escape, she also keeps me stocked on the fly with weapons, ammo, and salts which power the Vigors. And she's someone to talk to in between lulls of fighting. Closest thing I've had to a friend for a while too.

Elizabeth also revives me when I die in combat. I doubt she has a divine resurrection power. It's more like she reaches into another reality in which I haven't died yet and pulls that me into her current reality. To me it's like coming back to life, but in fact I'm just being replaced by another me. Head-scratching stuff.

While we're running and gunning to find an airship to take us back to the surface, I'm constantly discovering new information about the origins of the city and further details about my mission. These little clues seem almost trivial at first, but eventually they amount to a mind-blowing (or is that boggling?) truth, so intricately woven I'm still struggling to wrap my mind around all the facets and implications of it today.

Bioshock: Infinite is a first-person survival horror (though perhaps not as creepily horrific as Bioshock 2) shooter that has thrilling gameplay with strategic elements and a powerfully gripping, well-paced storyline you just have to see through to the end. Fortunately, it's not an epic that takes too long to play through -- just a couple of days if you must look everywhere for everything (and even then, I haven't found everything yet) and a few in-game surprises that are really cool. Even the post-game credits shows off a making-of clip if you are patient enough to get to plus an end-credit scene that adds a bit of closure... we hope.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Exam stress

It's been nine weeks since we sent Tasha to basic obedience class. In one week's time, we face her final exam. We're stressed out 'cos it looks like she's on the verge of flunking out. She's been such a rebellious teenager: bored, distracted, looks everywhere except where her instructions are coming from, and I swear she rolls her eyes every time we make her sit-stay.

Clearly, the cert means more to us than to her. So for this week, we're increasing her training from one to TWO hours a day to get her ready for her test. We're going to be very stern and correct every little mistake until she gets the routine down pat. What was it they said? "Don't practice until you get it right; practice until you can't get it wrong."

But don't get us wrong. We have the best intentions for her. Apart from being more assured of her safety in public, we want to let her have fun and still trust her off-leash, and we have plans to enroll her in agility classes. Since she likes to jump so much, it would be such a waste of her talent if she didn't hone this skill and do herself and us proud.

Suddenly, although we have been consciously avoiding it like the plague, we've become S'porean parents ourselves.