Sunday, December 31, 2006

Another meme

I don't think I'm quick enough to be the second one to respond to but I'll do it all the same. These are rather interesting questions.

1. Do you think the world will be a better or a worse place 100 years from now?

Some things would be worse but some things may be better. So I guess that means things stay the same. I don't think human nature changes very much. We will still have natural disasters, disease and terrorism. There will be people who will still hate each other, but there will be people who will find love. The standard of living should get better with a higher per capita income new medication and better medical care. The only problem is how to get the resources to those who need it most.

2. Would you accept $1 million to leave the country and never set foot in it again?

Yes, please! I would leave it anyway and I could sure use the $1 million.

3. If you could wake up tomorrow having one ability or quality, what would it be?

Patience. I'm very short on that.

4.  Would you be willing to murder an innocent person if it would end hunger in the world?

I don't think I could bring myself to do that.

5. If you could choose the manner of your death, what would it be?

Going gently in my sleep. Without knowing in advance I was going. I'd rather know when I get there. And I hope to live a life of no unfinished business. So that the people I love know they are loved, the people who matter know that they matter, and the people I don't like, heck, they probably already know.

6. How do you feel if people sing "Happy Birthday" to you in a restaurant?

I'd cringe with embarrassment. And that had better be a very good chocolate cake.

7.  If you found a good friend has AIDS, would avoid him?

Absolutely not. Things like that make me very, very angry. The reason why I got involved with Action for Aids years ago was when their executive director, who was fast becoming a good friend, got a call from the CDC asking if he would sign out the body of a patient who had died from Aids. Even in death, this man's family did not want to have anything to do with him and a stranger had to do the last things for him. No one should walk a difficult path alone.

8. If you walked out of the house and found a bird with a broken wing lying in the bushes, what would you do?

I'd take it to my vet.

9.  Would you be willing to spend a month of solitude in a beautiful natural setting?  Food and shelter would be provided, but you would not see another person.

Yes. I would miss L and the furkids but I think I could also use a month of solitude. I might even look forward to it. I'm an only child, I'm used to being alone. Sometimes now, there are days I can't have even have a minute to myself, not even in the bathroom.

10. How do you picture your funeral?  Is it important that people mourn your death?

It would be very small and I would want everyone to bring their dogs and there will probably be more dogs than people. I wouldn't want them to mourn. I'm not as flamboyant as Paddy who left instructions that people should dress glam but I wouldn't want them in sober black. I would be upset to think that they would be upset. My motto is: let the dead bury the dead, and let the living get on with living. It has gotten me into falling-outs before, when a friend and ex-colleague killed himself many years ago. Everyone was lamenting the waste -- RL actually wrote about it in his column and I couldn't let it sit, I had to write him and tell him to let the dead be. But I thought if this person felt so deeply that he needed to go, he might as well go and I hoped he found peace in going. As long as anyone thinks of me, I'm not really gone.

Your turn now.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Christmas spoils

Not ours, the furkids'. The corn on the cob and spare ribs are actually Nylabone chews. Rupert has claimed both and Queeni has given up. They're both already well-chewed. Queeni never was much of a chewer, she's only taken to chewing lately if only because she must do what Rupert is doing.

The treat jar is from C, one of those rare finds that only a consummate shopper like him will know it even exists. He said there're only a few pieces of this item here. I guess that makes it a designer thing, although I don't know what designer it is. After all, this is the guy who bought a Gucci chew-bone for Toby. There's a pseudo dog collar that goes round the middle of the jar and a little bone-shaped dog tag on it that says "Two please!" Took the words right out of Queeni's mouth.

Only thing is, the jar isn't at all air tight and the cover is very loose, so dog biscuits will go soft in the humidity if they are stored in it. So it's now filled with Japanese rice crackers, the individually sealed type that will stay crispy till it's opened. The humans need a treat jar too.

Thursday, December 28, 2006


I went back to work on Boxing Day to find that I'd be laying out the op-ed pages. Now. Today. You start this very moment.

Eeek! A few weeks ago, when the January roster was out, I was given advance warning that come January, I would be doing page layout. As opposed to text subbing -- which I'm doing now. And which I would like to continue with. So starting right after Christmas was the last thing I expected. Or maybe catching me unaware could be a good thing, it saved me from the sword of Damocles hanging over my head over New Year.

Because as sure as heck, it was hanging over me when I went back to work yesterday. In fact, I had an anxiety attack so bad, I was nauseous. I didn't think I could manage a proper lunch so L fed me cookies, cake, ice cream and hot cocoa. The dear. Nutrition be damned, the wife needed the sugar to get through the day.

It has to be age. I'm less flexible than I used to be. And I don't mean just physically. So I tried to be philosophical about switching to layout. It would be a useful -- probably even necessary -- skill to have and it's about time I learn something new for myself. Only thing is, I hate the dinosaur MTX system that I have to use to learn the skill. And the fact that you know it is so outdated that we're switching to a brand new system in the next quarter doesn't help. Only, apparently, the new system is so full of bugs, ironing them out is taking longer than expected, and the switch has been delayed, oh, six months already.

I guess sometimes, you don't want surprises.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Bones would rain from the sky*

Well, it got pretty close to that from HRH's point of view. We were lounging around C's house in the evening of Christmas Day. He had cooked a turkey and various other yummy stuff and all the food was laid out on the table for people to help themselves whenever they fancied. By the evening, most of the turkey had gone, leaving just the carcass and G took it into the kitchen to cut off the remaining remnants of meat. All the dogs, two resident and two visiting, lined up at the kitchen door, tails wagging. C, the well-trained dog dad, took the hint. He rinsed off the morsels of meat and all of them got a piece.

HRH couldn't be bothered to join the riff-raff at the kitchen door. She was lying down on her back, enjoying a tummy rub from L. So C took a piece of turkey to her, special delivery so she wouldn't miss out. Her eyes widened but she wasn't going to question this bounty. She ate the turkey while she was still lying belly up and L, being another well-trained dog dad, didn't stop the belly rubs. Up until now, I didn't know a dog could eat while lying belly up. It must have been the canine version of reclining to someone peeling grapes for you.

Think about it from her point of view. Why jostle with the plebeians when you're enjoying a belly rub? When you're royalty, turkey slices will naturally rain from the sky for you.

*a great book by Suzanne Clothier

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Housewife vision

That's the term the optician used when fitting me for the progressive lenses -- I meant to write about this in the post on the new spectacles ( but forgot.

Housewife vision was the term he used for wide-ranged peripheral vision, adding the analogy of a housewife who can instantly scan all of a room when she walks into it.

Oh boy. Talk about a male-centric definition. I would call this woman vision -- the natural ability to walk from point A to B and see that the puppy has left a puddle at point C, which is nowhere in relation to A and B.

As opposed to man vision that kicks in only when L walks into what the puppy has left at point D, and only when pointed out to him that he has tracked it to point E.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Six weird things

OK, so (hello! Safari is still missing the hyperlink option) did not actually tag me but she said any three people who'd care to do it and I might as well -- I need content anyway. Besides, this meme is actually quite fun. You need to actually think for a bit, unlike the types of a what's-your-favourite-beverage/food/smell/colour nature.

First, the rules and explanations:
So if you get tagged, here are the rules: Each player of this game starts with the 6 Weird Things About You. People who get tagged need to write a blog entry of their own 6 Weird Things as well as state this rule clearly. In the end, you need to choose 6 people to be tagged and list their names. Don't forget to leave a comment that says you are tagged in their comments and tell them to read your blog.

1. I'm a what L calls a compulsive reader. When I see a paragraph of text in front of me, I need to read it. This means that I read the cereal box on a daily basis and when I'm done, I start on the jam jar labels and so on, until I leave the breakfast table. Oh yes, I read instruction manuals too. And catalogues. And Tshirts (not many people do here).

2. I like Bon Jovi. They have memorable riffs, thumping bass and sing-along lyrics at the chorus. I'll even forgive them for the 80s moussed big hair.

3. I talk to my dogs. And I don't mean just saying things in English. Queeni and I have this thing, particularly at bedtime, when she croons to me. And I croon back. I imitate her in tone, pitch and rhythm and we have a conversation back and forth until she falls asleep.

4. I buy melamine children's dishware because I like the bright colours, and use the dishes as bread plates and the little bowls as dessert bowls and the little cups as tea cups. But the designs have to be really nifty and no Disney characters. And when I use the plate, the little fairy or teddy bear has to be upright facing me.

5. My bottles of shampoo and conditioner have to be at the same level and the same "flavour". If I run out of one and there's still an inch left of the other, I need to start two new full bottles, I simply can't start a full bottle and use the dregs of the other bottle. L inherits the bottle-ends. Besides, I reason it's his fault because if he borrows one or the other, he made the levels go wonky. It's not me, I carefully pour out as much shampoo as conditioner so the levels remain the same.

6. Same with the bottles of facial cleanser and toner.

That's not really six things, is it? #6 goes with #5. So I don't feel qualified to tag six people. Actually, I daren't. I don't want to impose on six people who may not want to do this. So as long as I've already broken one rule, I'll break another. I'm not tagging six people but if you are reading this, feel free to feel tagged and join in.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Mr Bean

If you haven't seen much of Mr Bean on TV lately, it's because he works for Transit Security here . Really. I've been going to work by train instead of bus recently despite a longer route because it's more monsoon-proof and also because the train goes through the shopping district and I can stop off for a few quick purchases when I have time to do so (how do you think I managed to get the Christmas shopping done?).

And that's when I noticed that Mr Bean three times in a week on the North-South line platform at Dhoby Ghaut interchange. He has the same haircut, the same walk, with one arm stuck out akimbo and shirt-tail falling out of his trousers. Seriously, this guy out-Mr-Beans Rowan Atkinson. Mr Bean is looking after the safety of transit passengers. That'll scare any would-be transit terrorists.

Thursday, December 21, 2006


While politically correct people elsewhere have banned religion from Christmas and generalised it to a secular Solstice festival or whatever the term of the day is now (Winterval appears to be catching on in the UK), a group of Christian charities here have put the Christ back in Christmas. And in the heart of Mammon -- the shopping shopping artery of Orchard Road -- no less.

Maybe that's permissible in Singapore if only because it's only fair to let the Christians have their turn after Hari Raya and Deepavali. Hari Raya and Deepavali may not be your "thing" but everyone joins in the celebrations anyway by festive food osmosis. And having a day off, of course. Besides, Winterval in Singapore would only be ridiculous. Maybe Monsoonval would work. Unless it got rained out. Hur hur. Cabin fever shows in fox terriers after three days of continuous rain.

Anyway, back to the Christmas Nativity Village along the Orchard Road pedestrian mall. It has tableaux of the inn with no room with a life-sized paper-mache Joseph and Mary (who looks outsized rather than preggers and looks like she's having fun swinging her legs on a fairground donkey ride); Herod's palace; three life-sized fibreglass gift-bearing magi and their camels; and the traditional nativity creche scene with a really ugly pink, bald, plastic swaddled Baby Jesus and placards on the side in Singapore's four official languages explaining the scenes if you aren't familiar with the Bethlehem story. And you're welcome to pose for photos in front of them. People actually did. At regular intervals throughout the day, a group of actors moves down the tableaux, enacting the Christmas story. In different languages as well.

Makes you feel really churlish for getting short-tempered while caught in the crowds at the mall just metres away (yes! I finished the Christmas shopping!).

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Closer look

Here's a close-up of the stockings for those who couldn't read the cross-stitching from the photo in the previous post. The one on the far right is Spock's. I turned it the other way round so you can see the fabric on the back.

Actually, I hang it that way round too, I started doing this the first Christmas without Spock, each time I saw his name on the stocking and the ornaments turned me into a weepy wreck. The stockings are made by A in Ohio in my dog e-list who cross-stitches as a hobby. Her sister D in California helped her out by rushing out Rupert's this year. I met them both in Las Vegas when we went to T's wedding, they're wonderful folks.

I'm not sure if Rupert deserves a lump of coal in his stocking. The weather outside is frightful, it's been pouring almost non-stop for almost two days because of the monsoon and that has destroyed regular walks and along with it, housetraining. HRH is very good, she baulks at going outside in the wet but comes home to do it on the pee pad. She prefers to go outside but will use the peed pad for urgent emergencies. With Rupert, the pee pad is a hit and miss. Last night, he held his pee only to let go on the common corridor outside -- the walkway that is shared by all the flats on this floor, of which three are Muslim households. We're only on nod-and-smile basis with the neighbours, they don't seem to want to mix much and I don't know if it's because of the haram dogs so I'm very careful not to cause any offence, particularly as I'm actually one dog over the HDB limit. So we doused the corridor with enzymatic cleaner or Harvey the papillion upstairs would feel the need to contribute when he runs down the stairs and past the corridor to the field.

I know what to use as a stocking filler for Rupert. A rolled-up pee pad. I will even decorate it with a festive bow.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Bah, humbug


Christmas is a week away and I am Not Ready.

So I had the tree up in November because I was excited about the first Christmas in the new house ( I even got my Christmas cards written and mailed -- the post office didn't have Christmas edition stamps this year, rats.

And then I did Nothing. Now, Christmas is a week away and I haven't done my Christmas shopping. L has been home a lot and it's hard to get away from him to go shopping, especially when he's been giving me a ride to work most days. I guess this means he will get socks for Christmas from heartland pasar malams. Ha. And friends may end up getting bottles of wine. From the usual bin ends picked up during the weekly supermarket run. I also picked up a duck yesterday, thinking that I'd cook it this weekend and then I realised we won't be home for dinner tonight as it's E's wedding banquet. So L popped the duck in the freezer and we'll have it for Christmas. Looks like this year's Christmas vittles and presents are all by default, it's almost Grinch-like. Who was I fooling when I bought cookie cutters in readiness for making Christmas cookies?

The only shopping I've completed is for the dogs. Our two and all their canine cousins. You think this speaks volumes for priorities, huh? The dogs' gifts fit nicely into their stockings. A and D (thank you!) rushed Rupert's because a puppy must have his own stocking with his name on it, especially as it's his first Christmas. Said puppy will not hold still and pose with his stocking so HRH stands in from her palace.

Saturday, December 16, 2006


I have bookmarked on my computer at work. It's a blogged maintained by some smart guys (academics and economists, you know, *that* type) and I must've bookmarked it for work-related edification. I read it now and then, ie during occasional down periods at work.

There was an entry on reading ( where the boffin says to read more, one must read fast. And that he has a high discard rate, just so he can read more -- he starts 10 or so books for every one he finishes.

That must be why I never get anywhere. I tend to stick to a book to finish it, even if it means hard-going ploughing through it. I'm not sure if it's a leave-no-stone-unturned mentality or a disposition to finish things once started since I'm not known to always apply these principles to other things.

It's like why I still feel cheap and dirty buying songs one track at a time. Somebody took the trouble to make a whole CD, chose the order of songs (not so long ago, you even had to decide A-sides and B-sides) and even the cover artwork. I feel you need to acknowledge the whole process and listen to the whole CD in order of song appearance.

And read the whole book. In fact, I can count on the fingers of one hand the books I've had to abandoned ashamedly because the going was too tough -- and I still have them, with bookmarks sticking where I left off: Ulysses (and that was double guilt because James Joyce was part of my English Literature curriculum), The Tao of Physics (you cannot blame an Eng Lit student for this one) and Goethe's Italian Journey (chosen to accompany me on a trip to Italy; I thought it was apt at the time but then I was young and distracted -- I thought at first that being stuck on long train and coach trips means that you're forced to read what you've on hand but I forgot that this only works on airplanes. On trains and coaches, scenery is more inviting than dead Germans).

And now, the way it's gathering dust on the bedside table, maybe I can add Harold Bloom to that unfinished list.

And I'm not sure about speed reading techniques. I think that when you read, you need to absorb the language, style and plot. So why speed read? You might as well not read.

Incidentally, L abandoned the Margaret Lawrence period novel mentioned in the previous post. He was thinking of Margaret Laurence (The Diviners) when he stumbled on the novel in the library's sale of discarded books and got the wrong one.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006


If eavesdropping is what you do when you listen in on somebody's conversation, what is it called when you read over their shoulders? Actually, on the train today, it wasn't reading over anyone's shoulder, it was reading the front and back pages of the newspaper the guy directly across from me was holding up.

And next to him, a tall gangly youth's reading material of choice was a thin book of Emily Dickinson's poetry. Wow. I can only read Dickinson when I sit properly and concentrate, there's no way I can read her in a train commute.

And that's why Harold Bloom is still on the bedside table since November's post (, he's been abandoned for a Margaret Lawrence period novel which L picked up from the National Library sale of used books.

Monday, December 11, 2006


You know how it is when you're on a train and someone is talking loudly on his mobile phone and you can't help but overhear? Only today, it was in stereo. Mismatched stereo -- Hokkien to the left and Tamil to the right. What's worse, being forced to listen in or being forced to sit between two conversations you can't understand? Only in Singapore.

Saturday, December 09, 2006


The first error in Beta Blogger has arrived. This picture was uploaded here, and meant to go into the profile as snugpug's little icon picture. However, it just won't load. I just get a error message saying: We're sorry but we're unable to complete your request. Help.

On a good hair day, you can watch forever

I am wicked, wicked. I was having lunch at the food court when a young lady sat at the next table and you could tell that she was fresh from the hairdresser's -- her hair was immaculately styled and she was carrying a plastic bag of high-end hair products, the type that they sell only at salons.

She was about to tuck into a bowl of noodle soup and I watched with interest how she would eat it. When you have immaculately styled hair that hangs straight down the side of your face, it also hangs straight down into a bowl of noodles.

She first tucked her hair behind her ears -- which is also what I have to do when I eat. But that interfered with the immaculately straight hair style. So she pushed her bowl away from her and ate in a contorted fashion, her arms having to negotiate her spoon and chopsticks away from her hair but still reaching her mouth. You know how you play choo-choo-trains-into-the-tunnel-now-open-up when you're feeding a kid? It was like she was playing that with herself combined with a slapstick gag of someone in arm casts trying to feed herself.

It is as I thought. Models with immaculate hair and tight fitting little black dresses can only stand and pose, and not sit and eat.

Give me a choice between immaculate hair and noodle soup, I'll take the noodles any day.

All the better to see you with

A big youngish wave to y'all who said that 50 is the new 40 and that middle age doesn't start till 50. One even said that middle age doesn't start till 60.

Only thing is, how come everyone who said that is younger than me? Like a mass denial: if Adi isn't middle aged, then we're a long way off too.

The ones who are older than me and are (or maybe not) middle aged are the wise silent ones.

As if you prove y'all wrong, a couple of things propelled towards the middle aged camp today. The mini-bus driver called me aunty. He wasn't the regular one but was standing in for his uncle and was moaning about how young men shouldn't be driving all night but should be at ZoukOut instead.

The other is my new pair of specs -- with progressive lenses (which cost another several thousand pretty pennies). I hadn't been able to read with my normal glasses for quite a while now. The last time I saw the optician, she very kindly said she would give me a year and then reassess me for progressive lenses. For the past few months, my eyes have been telling me that I don't need her reassessment, it's reading glasses that I need.

But heck, as long as I'm getting granny glasses, I might as well have them in hot pink frames with a touch of lime green. And the case for the specs looks kinda fun too, it looks more like a gift package than a spectacle case.

I guess today's progressive lenses are a far cry from my Dad's bifocals. And there's no obvious line like in bifocals that tell you old fogey eyes are behind the lenses. But the principle is the same. And if I need what my Dad needs, I must be old.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Tight squeeze

I've got a silly thing that I do with the dogs. It's something that I started since the Spock days and now L has picked up the habit too -- I hug the dogs tight and squeal in that silly playing-with-dogs-and/or-kids voice: "'Gotta squeeeeze ya!"

Only now, squeeze has taken a new meaning. Gotta get a bigger couch, ya think?

Thursday, December 07, 2006


... and not the ones on the bottles of bath essence.

It's bad enough having to think of a punchy headline for stuff you sub at work, it's worse when you have to think of one for every blog entry because you're writing for fun but having to think of a nice hed makes it lose a bit of the fun and it becomes work-like. Now, there're labels at the bottom of the post to think of.

Yup, it's there now that I've upgraded to Blogger Beta. And with the labels, Blogger has pretty much what WordPress has. So there.

I took the longest time to upgrade because it involves switching your log-in. I was deeply suspicious that something would go wrong and then I would be locked out of my blog. And the warning that once you've switched, you can't turn back didn't reassure me. Maybe it had to do with how I handle change.

The impulsive Aries in me used to embrace change. Change took you out of the norm, brought you new experiences. Now, change makes you want to reach back for the comfort of the familiar. Aries on the cusp of Middle Age.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Good enough to eat

"This is not a food. Do not swallow." I was quite amused to find those instructions on a bottle of bath essence. The new range from Marks and Sparks comes in fruity flavours like tangy citrus and even comfort-food flavours like vanilla and exotic flavours like lemongrass and pomegranate, in bottles that looked like they belonged in the kitchen. I'm pretty sure that if I had left them there, the unhousetrained husband would probably think they are cordials, try to make a drink from them and put them in the fridge.

It's simple yet eye-catching packaging. A few years ago, there was a brand of toiletries from the UK called Lush which sadly now is no longer available here. They were like the Body Shop, only they marketed their toiletries like food items and their shops looked like greengrocers. Blocks of soap were displayed on carts, looking like cheese wheels and were sold by weight. The assistant cut out how much you want and wrapped the wedge of soap in greaseproof paper like a slice of cheese. They also had bath bombs (which I'd very much like to get now that I finally have a tub but of course can't find any) piled like fruit displays. Lovely to look at, but I think they didn't get much sales. And however good the displays looked, they were hopelessly impractical in this humid climate which could melt or sweat the yummy looking blocks of soap. Which is probably why they pulled out of Singapore very rapidly.

Gone along with them were the days when toiletries just smelled like flowers. You could maybe pick lavender for relaxation and maybe at the most jasmine for a pick-me-up. Now there's vanilla for comfort, lemongrass for rejuvenation (guess what works in your tom yom soup will work in your bath water) and pomegranate to soothe.

As long as you wash in them, not eat them.

Asian Games

I'm forced to watch sports on TV now that regular late-night programming has given way to live coverage of the Asian Games in Doha. It's almost refreshing to see Chinese athletes represent China. As opposed to the recent Commonwealth Games where China -- not a Commonwealth country -- showed up, representing Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, the UK and even Fiji. It was really weird then, you'd see Chinese badminton players competing against each other like a China vs China final only they weren't China flag-bearers.

Textiles, consumer goods and cheap factory knock-offs be danged, I think China's biggest exports are badminton and table tennis players.

Monday, December 04, 2006

World Aids Day

I didn't write an entry on World Aids Day on Dec 1. I cannot name friends* who have died of Aids or are living with HIV because here, I cannot out them and have them oustracised by a disease that will claim them. But not before I do whatever I can to stop it, so help me goD.

*Except for Paddy, that is. I was quite amused to see that he has an entry in Wikipedia:
The English is a little stilted and in some places, it's a little hard to understand. But Paddy would have loved it. But I don't think he's resting in peace, though. He's probably bitching away at how utterly useless we are, having been left to carry the Aids advocacy torch but achieving little. Actually, with the exception of the 24-hour cremation after an Aids death rule lifted, I can't think of anything that has changed since he died. Oh yes, maybe a hundred or so dollars more a year you can use from Medisave to pay for antiretrovirals that can cost up to $1,000 a month.

Every May and December, every Candlelight Memorial and World Aids Day, I hold in my heart those that have gone, those that remain, those whose names I cannot say.

And every May and December, something ticks me off and I remember Anita Roddick's words about how it's actually good to get angry because it fans the fire in your belly to go do something about it. And then feel like I'm beating my head against a brick wall after listening or reading to some minister say something really mind-boggling. All this time, it has been a junior health minister doing the talking, and now, he's not even holding the health portfolio. I still haven't heard the health minister address the issue.

On World Aids Day, the broadsheet ran a full page interview with the no-longer junior health minister who said the mistake made was not treating HIV like any other disease and apply public health principles. It took him three years after SARS to say what Action for Aids had been saying then.

And his answer to the suggestion that the reporter put to him that HIV should get more resources because of its potential of becoming an epidemic owing to its exponential spread (hugely loaded question because I am so aware that every cent Action for Aids raises is wrestled from the Cancer Society, the National Kidney Foundation, etc): "So because the cancer patient cannot go and spread it to somebody but the HIV patient can, we should give it to him so he can go and spread it to somebody? I don't see the logic. The question is this: Antiretroviral medication doesn't stop the numbers from growing... In fact, if you look at it the other way round, it's the opposite. If we give you antiretroviral medication, you are well, you have more sex, you spread more..."

What is he saying? That if you have HIV, you might as well crawl into a corner and die? Hello? Aids education? Condoms? Safe sex? And what about paediatric Aids? So the growing segment of new infections are from hetero men who get the virus through unsafe sex but that's not to say that virgins and nuns have a biological immunity to the virus too. The virus does not discriminate. People, unfortunately, do. Antiretrovirals stop the virus from reproducing, it allows an HIV+ person to live a normal life, hold down a job, support his family, raise his children and pay his taxes. Which part of that is draining state coffers?

Brick wall. And it's not just the ministers. Even the retailers are against us. What really sparked this entry was that today, I tried to buy a Red Edition iPod. I had been dithering about buying an iPod since getting this iBook and getting hooked on iTunes. I didn't need an iPod. But since I found out about Red Edition products (, I thought I might as well buy one of those. I can afford it and someone can benefit from it.

And was told that I couldn't. It's a USA-only thing, the salesman (sorry, Mac evangelists, they are called) at the Apple shop said. Actually, that's not true. The UK newspaper, The Independent, has a Red Edition. If a newspaper can do it, I don't see why it's so hard to get Apple/Motorola/Armani to import Red Edition products, it can't cost more than their normal products, I mean everything's imported anyway. I'm not a shopper. I don't care about labels and brands. But if I'm going to buy something, I might as well make my consumer dollar work extra and buy a Red Edition product. I was quite set to buy Red Edition gifts this Christmas. I thought it was quite the Christmas spirit. Your friends get your gift and someone who needs Aids medication also benefits from what you've bought.

But noooo, not in Singapore.

Brick wall.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

All my children

Aren't they gorgeous?

There's plenty of room on the couch but of course they had to scrunch up in the corner with Mummy.

Friday, December 01, 2006

New cushions

We put the old floor cushions out with the recycling yesterday as we have got two new ones. The old ones never recovered from Rupert. There's only so much odour remover can do. And anyway, the fabric of the inner lining has given way and attempts to mend it only ripped it further so every time I changed the cover (which has been quite frequent because you-know-who did you-know-what), a flurry of sponge filling came spilling out.

This is one of the two new cushions. It's firm and more like a mini mattress than the previous bean-bag-style ones. We got it specially made and there's a PVC inner cover between the sponge and the outer cover that's liquid-proof -- you know why because of you-know-who. Two cushions, two inner covers and four outer covers (one set to wear and one spare to change when you-know-what happens) cost us a pretty penny. Several pretty pennies by the thousand. I think we got fleeced. A said we should have bargained.

The cushions are designed to do double duty. They are three feet by three feet and can be put together, with a single-bed sized fitted sheet over them to hold them together, and they turn into a mattress for anyone foolish enough to stay overnight with a fox terrier trampling on his/her face. And that's why we probably won't ever get the sofa bed we first intended to get. No more $$$ left.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Talking shyt

All right, y'all who said I haven't written (about) shyt lately. The Diarrhoea Wars are over. Now, we have really solid shyt.

Yesterday, while eating brunch, I saw Rupert go to the pee pad, circle and squat. The good boy has gotten the hang of where to poop (now if only he'd figure that pee pads are good for peeing too). Picking up poop sausages is infinitely easier than cleaning up brown patches of diarrhoea, you only need to pick it up in a tissue and flush it. Which you need to do fast or he has tendency to walk over it and track it about. So shyt disposal was rapid, done while I was still chewing my bagel.

Today, shyt disposal interrupted a bowl of meat ball noodles. You've got to be a hardened dog parent to be able to pick up puppy waste, wash your hands and resume eating. That or I'm becoming one of those harassed parents who cannot eat a meal in one seating.

Last weekend, at the steakhouse we frequent, a family group of papa, mama and two kids were seated next to our usual table. I couldn't help noticing that the mama did not order a main course. She ate what the kids left. After feeding them first. Poor mama, I think she deserves better than that. The mama should be the alpha bitch in the pack, eating first and the kids get the leftovers. At least our furkids got that bit right. :)

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Potential jailbreak averted

This has to do with the resident felon this time. Rupert somehow managed to dip his long snout into his harness and chewed it so I had to do a patch-up job. He's been making me sew more than years of handicraft class at an all girls school ever did and some of the dogs' toys now look like little Frankenstein monsters.

At least my mending box isn't as full as M's. Vivi will make a seamstress out of him yet. I forgot to take a picture of his "Christmas tree" when we were there last weekend. It's a beautiful creative take on the inverted Christmas trees that hang from the ceiling that were all the rage in the US last Christmas. M made his using a Christmas wreath as a base, from which he used fishing string to dangle glass ornaments down in an inverted pyramid shape. Completely Jack Russell terrier proof!

The big picture

... behind the picture of two happy dogs in the previous post -- or how we actually got the two of them standing together in the same frame long enough to take a picture. It has everything to do with Mum cutting her birthday cake.

When I was young, a birthday cake automatically meant a chocolate cake -- the best flavour ever for a cake. And ice cream. But it's been a very, very long time since any family member had a chocolate cake. That happened when we started having dogs. They share in the family celebrations so the cake has to be dog-friendly. That was firmly implanted in my head during my birthday, oh, 10, 15 years ago. Why didn't I get my usual chocolate cake, I asked my Mum. Because the dog needs to eat it too, was her answer. And that's when I realised, my birthday be danged, that wasn't the main thing; it was the dog's dietary requirements.

Yes, the dogs also partake of steamboat during the family reunion dinner every Chinese New Year's eve. But I bet you knew that already.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Jail break

Not mine but Ah Boy and Ah Girl, the two dogs from the ground-floor flat across the field. They had visitors who left the gate open, their owner later explained. There I was, taking down Rupert for a much-needed pee and there were Ah Boy and Ah Girl dashing about to scattering, screaming kids, which only made the dogs skitter some more and the kids scream even more, with the owner in hot pursuit with leashes.

You know what they say about using a thief to catch a thief. Same principle. Use a dog to catch two dogs. All I had to do was stand still with Rupert. All he did as bait was wag his tail at the two dogs and they came running up to him. And then I just grabbed their collars until the owner panted up with the leashes.

A waggly tail is irresistible. To kids, grown-ups and other dogs.

Oh, the tails here are wagging at attention because food is involved.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Ready for Christmas

I've never been so early with Christmas ever. I guess the first Christmas in a new house has everything to do with it -- you want to know how the tree looks like in the new place. It's also kinda nice that this will be Rupert's first Christmas too.

I'm so organised, I even have all my Christmas cards addressed. However, actually writing them and then going to the post office to stamp and mail them is something else. I'm not sure if I can follow up this spurt of sudden organisation.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Megamall bore

I gave in. I went to the new megamall. Quite by accident, though. I was waiting for a train at Outram and that station is just one stop away from HarbourFront, where the Big Huge Exciting Megamall is. Only, it was one stop in the other direction. And that train came before mine did. So I thought ah well, let's hop on. Besides I had an hour to spare.

An hour is more than enough time when you're not a mall rat. One million sq ft of retail space, 300m waterfront promenade, rooftop wading pool, Singapore's largest 15-screen multiplex cinema and a mention in Wikipedia notwithstanding, I was out of there in 20 minutes.

When they said that two million people or half of Singapore's population have visited VivoCity, I didn't think it to mean that they were all there at the same time. It sure seemed that way. And that was mid-afternoon on a Thursday, when I thought it would be free of weekend-type crowds. Apparently less people in Singapore work than I realise.

One of them would be this tai-tai at Marks and Spencer's. I was looking at their Christmas offerings (I'm drawn like a magpie to their glittery and beautifully packaged gift packs) when the tai-tai recognised a saleslady from another branch where she presumably frequented. And bitched about how the last time she went there, she bought six shirts and the cashier put them all into one bag. When she asked for another, the cashier breezily told her that the bag had more than enough room to hold them all. Tai-tai was affronted that she was denied that one extra bag. Tai-tai probably doesn't recycle plastic or save the earth.

Went past the new GAP store -- first in South-east Asia, first in Asia outside Japan -- and didn't even go in. I looked and shrugged off jeans and tees as being the same everywhere and keep on walking.

In the end, the only thing I bought from the spanking new megamall were some pastries and buns -- from a bakery chain that's everywhere and I could have just as well gotten them from the mall down the road from my house.

I was actually looking for a Body Shop, I needed to get one of their items. I gave up looking for one shop out of one million sq ft of shops, took the train to work, dropped off at suburban Toa Payoh where I knew exactly where the Body Shop there is and got it there.

Clearly, megashopping and megamalls are lost on me.

Saturday, November 18, 2006


At first, HRH would take the high ground, relegating Rupert to the lower echelons -- well, it's still that way at night, she still won't let him on the bed. But in the daytime, they at least enjoy the view together. The peace accord doesn't always last, though.

Flat bread

Ikea, of the flat-packed assemble-it-yourself furniture, have a capital new item in their small little Swedish food section: flat-packed assemble-it-yourself gingerbread houses. It's brilliant. They're baked, shaped gingerbread panels and all you need is some icing to hold them together to make your own gingerbread house. And maybe add some candy pieces to decorate and dust some icing sugar for a snow effect. I've never made a gingerbread house before, I thought it was too time-consuming plotting out house panels, measuring and cutting them to size before baking them. Now maybe I'll make one for Christmas.

The Ikea Christmas catalogue arrived today, along with news that their new branch store will open in December, in time for Christmas. I'm looking forward to it. The new store will be less than 10 minutes down the expressway from where I live, so no more one-hour cross-country trips with a taxi fare that could cost more than the cheap Ikea items in the shopping bag. This sounds a whole lot more attractive to me than 1.4 million square feet of retail space in the newly opened megamall -- which I still haven't been too and still haven't drummed up any interest in going.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Counting the costs

Vet fees (plus skin scrape and medication) only to find that there's nothing more than a stubborn bacterial infection on the paws: $117

New bed, more pee pads and odour removal: $100

New set of floor cushions with inner PVC liquid-repellant cover because the inner sponge filling in the current ones are pee soaked: $400

Puppy curled up in new bed: Priceless

Caffeine fix

The coffee percolator broke -- the water reservoir leaked onto the hot plate and I'm not about to plug in a wet appliance -- so this is L's solution: drip the coffee into a pot and then keep it warm on a low gas flame on the stove-top. I just realised that I can't live without a percolator not because it brews the coffee but because it keeps it warm all day so the coffee remains hot whenever I want some. It has spoilt me, I can't drink cold coffee any more.

The broken percolator this time round wasn't such a panic-stricken affair. When you don't start the day till late afternoon, you can at least muse on the problem a while before coming up with the pot rig-up on the stove-top. The previous percolator shot-circuited at a time when I was working the 4.30am shift and I remember staggering around bleary-eyed because L was plugging it into every electrical outlet in the house and the percolator duly tripped out the electricity no matter where it was plugged. Going in to work at 4.30am without any coffee in your system meant that that was a very, very bad day at work.

Tomorrow, we're back to caffeine-induced normality. We bought a spanking new percolator today.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Au naturel

L and I have this thing: everytime we meet another Schnauzer, we check to see how white its paws are. The Schanuzer standard calls for white paws and beard (unless the Schnauzer is brown). We've seen some with perfectly white bits where they're supposed to be white. They've been Photoshopped, I always say. Keeping white paws white is an impossibility. HRH has brown paws (and no beard). They started turning brown from off-white maybe a year or more ago and have remained brown since.

And then on Saturday, we dropped by our Schnauzer's groomer's shop. HRH didn't need grooming, she wasn't even with us, we've just taken in to dropping in when we're at the mall where the groomer's shop is, just to say hi to her and her various dogs that go in to work with her. Most are white hairy dogs -- one's a Westie and and I don't know what the other hairy ones are -- and our favourite is Kayla, the mini-Schnauzer. We've known her since she was a pup -- in fact, Groomer was trying to push her on to us -- with white paws. And that was when we realised it. Kayla, now a little more than a year old, now has brown paws. Our groomer's Schnauzer has brown paws. Our groomer -- who hand-feeds her show Westie so that its muzzle would not be stained -- has given up on keeping her Schnauzer's paws white. I suddenly feel so good about HRH's brown paws.

Sunday, November 12, 2006


Forget about what the boss tells you at work. Multi-tasking is soothing a dog that has vomited while trying to peel off a duvet cover without spilling the vomit while keeping the puppy away from another puddle of vomit on the floor (did not manage to get heaving dog off the duvet in time) while cleaning that up. Without glasses on. At 4am.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Yin and yang

It really wasn't as peaceable as it looks. They weren't lying down in this yin and yang symbol position, they were actually wrestling. I guess finally Queeni is having some fun with him. At least I think she's enjoying the wrestling. Heaven knows, she instigates it most of the time.

Rupert's paws still aren't healing well, despite the satellite dish on his head to stop him from licking them. Yesterday, I realised why. Queeni was licking them for him. I really don't think it's out of commiseration. I suspect a yeast infection may have developed and his paws taste like Marmite to her. Back to the vet.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Trees died for this

One August morning, I woke up to a bulldozer raking up the grass downstairs, hoarding erected round the middle of the field and chainsaws killing off at least three trees behind the hoarding. The town council was building an exercise station.

I say the trees were nicer than these metallic posts -- there's a platform for sit-ups, climbing frame, monkey bars, parallel bars and balance beam. They're all at adult height level so the kids are put off the climbing stuff, though the balance beam is only a few inches off the ground. I honestly don't know why it's there, I can't think of any one that will back flip on a balance beam since Olga Korbut. In the exercise station at the flats near the office, there is at least a stationary cycle and pulleys that let you do arm lifts. I haven't seen anyone use any of this equipment -- except for the mothers who sit on the sit-up platform and chat as their children tear round in the nearby playground.

Thursday, November 09, 2006


A few weeks ago, a (non-Chinese) friend who now works in Beijing asked if I'd ever been to China. My answer was that I'm never going there until the Chinese leave it (and of course the irony that I'm Chinese -- albeit Singaporean -- didn't escape the both of us).

Here's one reason why:
"In one county in the southwestern province of Yunnan, where three people had died of rabies, authorities killed 50,000 dogs, many of them beaten to death in front of their owners.",1,524659.story

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Cheap stuff

I stand corrected. You can get bath salts in Singapore. Japanese imports, which means you don't know what you're getting until you open the packet. I found these in a $2 Japanese goods store -- you know, the type of store that sells cheap Japanese imports like toiletries, plastic ware and kitchen ware and every item is $2. Love those shops, you load up on stuff because everything is so cheap and then you realise at the cashier that $2 each can add up to quite a bit. Only when I read the small print did I realise that while most of the stuff were Japanese imports, they were really made in China, even the bath salts and incense sticks, that's why they're so cheap.

There was a sign with a translation from Japanese explaining the bath salts flavours -- rose, jasmine, lavender, chamomile, bergamot, the usual suspects. But when I got home, I'd forgotten what flavour I'd bought. The one on the left is supposed to be a soya milk bath and I got that because it intrigued me. It's nothing like a Cleopatra milk bath though, the contents of the packet were a bright yellow powder and it made the bath looked like I was stepping into a tub of pee, only it smelt sweet and creamy.

Speaking of pee, we've given up pulling on and off the tight-fitting washable covers on the couch. It's now covered with towels and blankets until you-know-who develops bladder control. He'd better do this by Chinese New Year.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Saturday night out

... and we were home by 10pm. L and I found ourselves downtown by the river yesterday evening after plans to go over to M's fell through because he was nursing a bad throat that sounded worse by the minute.

We went to a pub that we used to go to, ordered a breakfast fry-up (I can quite happily eat breakfast at any time of the day), a bottle of wine and settled back. And talked about HRH's last poop and Rupert's peeing habits. There we were, on the edge of party central on a Saturday night and we were talking about the dogs' toilet habits. I guess we need to get out more.

I miss my food writer soap box. We hadn't been to this pub in a while and while the manager who remembered us (or L at any rate, he goes more often than I do) was welcoming and reserved us a quiet corner table, the rest of the service left a lot to be desired. We were early enough to order a pint during happy hours, so when happy hours was over, were duly presented with the bill. Only by then, we were halfway through dinner. I understand the need to close the happy hour tab, but they could have come round and ask if the food was OK, and could they get us anything else, and by the way, could we settle the happy hour tab instead of shoving it in our face when our mouths were full of food. And when the waitress came back with the credit card slip for us to sign, she didn't think to even look at the name on the card which is clearly a woman's name, she just shoved it at L. I guess I'm grumpy when I have to sign a bill while still chewing my food.

And just about when the night was getting started for those who really had a Saturday night life -- there was a bunch of guys in tuxedo shirts and bowties waist-up, shorts and sandals waist-down who were obviously warming up before heading to the real party and some party that must be to be dressed so -- we finished the wine and went home, mindful that the dogs needed to go and that there'd probably be a puddle to mop up after Rupert (there was, he'd shredded the pee pad).

We used to go clubbing till dawn. Somewhere along the way, we've become homebodies timing our lives round the dogs' needs. I used to spend my days off staying up late and reading. Now, I look forward to my nights off work so that I can go to bed early. I have no idea how it happened.

Not that I'm complaining. I look at Rupert and Queeni snuggled up on the couch and despite the pee stains on that piece of furniture, I think that snuggling with them is a whole lot nicer than queueing up outside Ministry of Sound. Even on a Saturday night. I'm happy to be a middle-aged homebody dog lady.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Read any good books lately?

From Bev's blog ( - darn not being able to hyperlink)

1. Grab the nearest book. If you are currently reading something, that'll be fine too.
2. Open the book to page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the text of the next 4 sentences on your Blog along with these instructions.
5. Don't you dare dig for that "cool" or "intellectual" book in your closet I know that is what you were thinking!

Here goes:
One feels that Montaigne, Emerson's master, preferred Socrates to Plato, while Emerson's own love went more to the chronicler of Socrates: "The great-eyed Plato proportioned the lights and shades after the genius of our life." Emerson's definition of being a Platonist is very wide: it included Michelangelo, Shakespeare, Swedenborg and Goethe. I like best Emerson's classification of Hamlet as a Platonist, though I disagree with it: Hamlet is a pure Platonist, and 'tis the magnitude only of Shakespeare's proper genious that hinders him from being classed as the most eminent of this school.

What I'm actually reading, or will read after I get off the computer is the SPCA Annual Report which has only 14 pages. The above sentence is from the book on my nightstand -- Genius by Harold Bloom. I'm not showing off or breaking rule #5. Honest. I don't know what possessed me to get the Bloom volume. Good value, I suppose, it's thicker than the phone book. I was browsing in a second-hand bookstore and it called to me from the top shelf. Obviously, that's the kind of book that's relegated to out-of-the-way shelves. I have been reading it on and off for the past three months. And that one sentence alone should tell you why it's been on and off and for three months.

In between, I put it aside for John Grogan, Terry Prachett, Anthony Bourdain, Ruth Reichl and Bill Buford. I pigged out on all of them at my last trip to the bookstore and now that I'm done reading them, I went back to Bloom, which had in the meantime gathered a slight layer of dust on the bedside table. It's not really so bad, it's like literary criticism of 100 creative minds -- all of which are dead, Bloom steadfastly refused to include anyone living. The bits on Shakespeare, Donne, Pope, Swift, Austen, ie the English geniuses, I breezed through because I was familiar with them but the French, German and Spanish ones were heavy going because I hadn't read much of them. From that one paragraph above, I had to break off and look up Swedenborg. That was when badass kitchen prose from Bourdain etc beckoned me over. Now that I've exhausted all the new books and have not been to the library in a while, it's back to Bloom.


Yesterday, on the way to work, I walked past the field to the train station directly after a heavy downpour. The field still had soggy patches of accumulated rain. There was a flurry of activity in one of the wet patches and I realised that a family of mynahs were having baths. They rolled around in the water, shook themselves, fluffed up their wet feathers and then hopped a few feet away to dry off. 

Now all the mynahs need to do is to tell my dogs that baths can be fun.

Ah, here's the clever stitch. I wrote yoinks ago when the bath tub was new and I was spending many happy hours soaking in it (I still do) that there seemed to be the absence of Epsom salts in the country. I finally found them! All the established pharmacy chains didn't have them or don't carry them any longer. I finally found them in a chain that sells over-the-counter medicines and toiletries and they are revamping their outlets to become full-fledged pharmacies with a pharmacist manning an Rx counter. So phooey to the established big boys.

I went into their newly opened outlet in the mall near our home. The pharmacist knew what i wanted but had to scramble to find it because the shop was newly open, he was new and he wasn't sure where everything was. But he was sure he saw Epsom salts in a corner somewhere. He told me to browse around while he hunted for them. He was so pleased when he finally produced a packet for me. Then I asked for two. I figured I might as well get more than one since it took me so long to find them. L said I should take a good dozen if not the whole carton -- Costco would've loved his quantitative approach. What if I never find them again, was his reasoning.

Now that I've found Epsom salts, it's occurred to me that I no longer see bath salts and bath cubes -- stuff that my mother used to have in the bathroom -- on toiletries shelves here. Maybe there's a severe lack of demand because there's just no bath tub culture in a hot country?

Anyway, got home, pleased with the Epsom salts purchase, ran the bath and while I normally just chuck in a couple of handfuls, the compulsive reader in me who reads the cereal boxes on a repetitive basis actually read the instructions for use on the side of the box. It said to use 375g for a normal-sized bath. So what's 375g? I wasn't going to measure out 375g exactly, this isn't baking where you need stuff down to the last gramme. Flipped the box over and did the agak-agak (estimate) lazy measurement method -- every package has a net weight. Just take the net weight and proportion out what you need, ie measure things by halves, quarters, fifths, not grammes.

So I flipped the box round and round for the net weight. 375g. I had to put a whole box of the stuff into a bath. That's finishing up a box almost as soon as I found one. Sheesh.

So I did what I should have done. I ignored the instructions completely

Friday, November 03, 2006

Out and about

I need to get away from my desk more. I didn't brown bag dinner today, I didn't have time to fix any food because L had an early start and I was home alone with the two dogs. It took a while to feed and water them and then walk first one and then the other (I tried walking both together before, it wasn't very successful -- they either tried to head in different directions or got their leashes tangled) , all of which took even longer because in between I had to mop up after Rupert who can seemingly generate pee out of air in five minutes.

All that activity and copious cups of coffee meant that I hadn't time (or the inclination) for lunch, so I slipped out for what I considered to be an early dinner before the workflow started. It was about 6pm, and as I walked through the blocks of flats to the coffee shop, residents were returning home from work. It's a weird feeling to see people heading home, some with grocery bags and others were takeaway food packets, knowing that your own workday is yet to properly begin.

And the dogwalkers were out. I patted one mutt, one shihtzu type hairy dog, one retriever and smiled at two Jack Russells yapping and trotting away in the distance. Suddenly my day got better. And that's when I thought I need to get away from my desk more.

Saturday, October 28, 2006


Before this blog completely goes to the dogs, here's a cat pix. The two dogs were tearing around in a post-bath frenzy and then I noticed a sudden silence -- which made me go all suspicious -- and found the two of them standing at the floor-length window, looking intently out. And this was what they were looking at: the semi-feral cat that hangs about the flat downstairs and one of her kittens. Queeni's treed one of the kittens before, at the far end of the field. I think she was so in shock that they were suntanning directly downstairs that she quite forgot to bark.


According to a wire report, more than two million people -- ie half of Singapore's population -- have trooped through VivoCity, Singapore's largest shopping mall at HarbourFront (what used to be the World Trade Centre down by Keppel) since it opened on Oct 7.

This means that the opening of a shopping mall was a bigger deal than the recent IMF/World Bank meetings. How very Singaporean.

Obviously, I am not one of the two million who went shopping at VivoCity recently. Clearly, I'm not a normal Singaporean. Or maybe I'm just out of touch. No wait, not really. I knew about the hype of the megamall opening. I'm just not curious enough to go and check it out. It'll only be more Ferragamo, Gucci and Chanel. Although it also has GAP store, the first in Asia. But it still ain't a draw for me. I'll be lucky to make it there by Christmas, and I'm talking next Christmas, not the coming one.

Which is coming too fast. It's only October and the Deepavali and Hari Raya lights are still up but are rapidly being converted into Christmas decor by the major downtown retailers.

Yesterday, for some relief at the end of a very long six-day week, made much longer by coming on the tail of a two-week slack-off periods, L and I decided to leave the dogs home (Rupert's become a little more reliable now) and go out for a meal that we did not have to cook and wash up after. And then do some grocery shopping so we wouldn't have to jostle with the weekend crowds at the supermarket. Now that's the shopping that I do. It involves Jeypine and pee pads and not GAP.

We went to one of those Japanese chains that have sushi going round in a conveyor belt. I always order a menu item because I want something hot and freshly prepared. If I want something that I know is going round on the belt, I'll include it since I'm ordering anyway
L thinks the kitchen will make it fresh along with the rest of your order but I say they just pick up something that's already on the belt. I only pick up something from the belt when it looks tempting and I need instant gratification.

Which turned out to be a grave mistake yesterday. What I took to be a croquette turned out to be a rolled maki (with crabstick, that faux stuff that I just can't stand) that was dipped in breadcrumbs and deep fried. You can deep fry anything and make it tasty, even Mars bars, but deep fried maki is an aberration. For all I know, that maki had been going round the conveyor belt for two days and had dried up and deep frying was a way of recycling it. Eww.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Back to work

I started the day relatively early today, I must've been primed still from the 7am starts of the past fortnight. 11am is not early by ordinary standards but I've been known to sleep till 1pm since I don't leave for work till past 3.30pm.

Which meant that there was time to enjoy a leisurely lunch of sausage (leftover from yesterday's all-day breakfast) and fresh crusty bread still warm from the oven (from frozen Delifrance dough -- I had time but not that much time to make bread from scratch. Anyway, L was the cook today).

That was when it occurred to me -- last week's enjoyment of leisurely home-cooked dinners wasn't so much the home-cooking. On a work day, my dinners are home-cooked anyway. I bring dinner in to work as I tend to eat late, after the canteen closes at 8pm. There are a few kopi tiams (coffee shops -- not the Starbucks type but the Singaporean type which is more like a mini food court but minus the airconditioned mall setting) within walking distance from the office but I don't always have the time to pop out for a bite by that time of the night when the work starts coming in fast and furious. Nope, what made dinner at home so enjoyable that past fortnight was that it was eaten not at a desk but at a table, off a pretty Noritake plate with proper cutlery. As opposed to from a Tupperware with a disposable plastic spoon. One of my colleagues keeps a microwavable Corningware plate and a set of stainless steel cutlery in his drawer. Perhaps I should do the same. At least there would be some semblance of a "proper" dinner.

I may turn out to be a foodie yet. I'm now reading Bill Buford's Heat, on the heels of the new Anthony Bourdain and Ruth Reichl. There must be a reason why I'm stuck in the food genre at the moment.

Anyway, it wasn't so hard going back to work today after two weeks of slacking off. It's always quite pleasant to work on a Sunday -- even if it is a Sunday. The workload is less and you get to call it a night by 11pm when most nights you're kept busy till past midnight, even 12.30am on a busy mid-week night. Today, I processed my last copy shortly after 9.30pm. It seemed churlish to leave at 10pm so I started surfing at my desk till 11pm -- when the first staff transport of the night starts running.

I'm trying to console myself that this week will be a doozie, despite it being a Sunday to Friday six-day week because there're a couple of holidays in it. Yesterday (Saturday) was Deepavali and a press holiday, Tuesday will be another holiday -- Hari Raya Puasa -- so most companies are enjoying a long weekend especially as many people are taking Monday off. That means less advertising and less pagination. Not good for the marketing department but great for editorial, a thinner paper means less work for us. Ad dollars be damned, I just want to go home to the furkids.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Sleeping beauties

Pix were taken by a proud papa who couldn't resist. He captions the second one as: Strawberry sundae of sleep with a Schnauzer topping.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Back to normal programming

I've been on course the past two weeks -- which was really rather nice. No work responsibilities. And you get to slack off at the back of the room, and in between you're fed fried snacks at morning and afternoon breaks (breakfast and tea) and get let off for long lunch breaks that stretch up to almost two hours.

Actually, lunch was also provided but there was a poor response on the first and second days and we asked HR to dispense with it entirely. They ordered food from the Malay stall in the canteen and it came cold and greasy and we didn't think we could stomach two weeks of it. I think HR automatically ordered halal food so as to cover all grounds but this is fasting month and nobody who needs to eat halal would be eating lunch. The course convenor requested for the lunch budget to go towards a bigger tea time budget, for pastries and baked goods from Spinelli's instead of the cheap fried pastries we'd been getting but HR said they couldn't/wouldn't make any exceptions. Fine if we didn't want lunch but we're not getting any extras. And not a word of thanks for the money we saved them -- which probably wasn't much, someone said their lunch budget was $1 a head. Eww. That explains the bad food. The first day, we had cold, greasy mee goreng and the protein item was fish cake. No real meat and processed food. I'm not a fussy eater but I couldn't put that down my throat. The second day, they'd already known that it was to be the final lunch, we got something slightly better -- nasi lemak with all the condiments including freshly fried crispy ikan bilis. After that, we were let loose on our own for lunch -- which I preferred. I'd rather not be forced to eat lunch with strangers on the course. As it is, the lunch idea was probably to get us to network but two weeks would have been too much to force a group of people to eat together. I don't know why people need to go for lunch/dinner breaks with other people. I actually enjoyed being alone and on some of the longer breaks, managed to go shopping at Toa Payoh and Bishan.

It was such a nice change from being chained to my desk and gulping a packed dinner there. I go back to all this tomorrow and shall miss being on course. I don't know why people complain about going on course. It was like a mini-holiday to me. Oh yeah, you have to sit and listen to someone and in between, they throw worksheet exercises at you but that's not real work.

I thought I'd have a problem with getting up in the morning. Well, it was punishing for someone who's been working nights but I was quite surprised that I was rather good at getting up. In fact, most mornings, I woke up before the alarm went off. Getting up was not the problem. It was staying awake later in the day.

Still, I was home most days by 5.30pm, which meant I had long, leisurely evenings to enjoy home-cooked dinners, walk poopy dogs and watch prime-time TV. And tomorrow, life goes back to "normal" -- dinner out of a microwavable container at my desk, home past midnight when the only thing on TV are reruns. But the dogs would still be poopy, I'm sure.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

If a dog will not come to you after having looked you in the face, you should go home and examine your conscience.
~ Woodrow Wilson

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Family reunion

M found an al fresco wine bar at a newly opened development along the river that has eateries downstairs and posh apartments upstairs. The wine bar welcomes dogs to the extent of setting out water bowls for them, and for food, you could order from the neighbouring restaurants, some of which we had eaten at before. Perfect place for getting all the dogs and their people together.

L and I had a rocky start getting there in the first place. We weren't going to drive, not if we're going to be drinking, so decided to take a taxi. Instead of using the automated booking where the cabby will not be informed of any special requirements such as two dogs, we decided to book through the operator, who will key in the dog information so that anyone who didn't want dogs in their cabs wouldn't pick up the call. We've had cabbies who responded, only to refuse to take us when they saw a dog. At that time, it was one dog. Now, its two. Not surprisingly, we couldn't get a cab. The two dogs addendum must have scared them all. The operator said there just wasn't any cabs in our area for a driver to respond. Which I knew was bullshyt because there's always a rank of cabs at the mall just two minutes away. After half an hour, L lost patience and used the automated booking system. Bingo! We got a cab in two minutes. I'm sorry this cabby responded without knowing that we have two dogs with us but I had run out of patience with the system and with trying to be honest. Anyway, the guy didn't mind the dogs.

It was a great night out. The children hadn't met Rupert and Colin before and were delighted with them. Rupert spent the whole night on one child's lap after another or was carried by them in turn. And these are the kids who have babysat Toby and Vivi and I thought they'd want to play with them.

G missed Rupert and I think the only thing that made him feel better was when, at the end of the evening, he saw Rupert curled up asleep on L's lap. His boy was happy, that was the main thing. C had a few babytalk moments with Rupert and I couldn't help hearing what he was calling him -- Roopy-Poopy. Very apt.

Every one along the stretch of eateries stared when we began to arrive. You see the occasional dog at a table now and then, but no group has ever met with five dogs before. What got worse was once the band of five got started, they began to bark at every single dog that went past. Vivi would start and then every one would chime in, even the normally quiet ones and Queeni would insist on the last parting bark. And everytime that happened, the whole street would be staring at us. The group with the badly behaved dogs.

Queeni and Rupert (to a certain extent) slept in this morning, and are knocked out again after lunch. Sleeping pups pee and poop less, right?

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Book ends

And when they're good, they're very, very good...
Adventures of multiple dogs and diarrhoea -- and in rhyme!
You're a better man than I am, Gunga Din

Friday, October 13, 2006

Peace on earth

.. or as close as it can get. That is to say, as close as Queeni will get to Rupert. That boy will be the death of me. He's mostly OK in the day, particularly as L has been home the past days to take him out for frequent potty breaks. Then, the minute I get home, he loses everything. He goes on the floor -- repeatedly, within minutes, even if he's just had a potty break outside. All over the house, even though in the course of the day, he had gone quite nicely on the pee pads. I don't know what he's up to. That happened yesterday and today. L says it's me, the minute I come home, he gets thrown out of whack. So now it's my fault.

I've been working "normal" hours this week and next because I'm on course. It wasn't so difficult getting up at 7am because I'd be up to take Rupert out anyway. Only now, I can't go back to sleep for a few more hours and must start the day straightaway. The course starts at 10am -- which really is very reasonable -- but after years of working nights, I'm just not used to morning kickstarts. This morning, as soon as I sat down in the bus, went to sleep until it was my stop at the office. At lunch break, I went to the library to have a nap on one easy chairs in the reading corner. When I got home at 5.30pm (and that was an early release), I had to have a lie-down -- that was when L discovered (and cleaned up) Rupert's nefarious acts all over the house, which did not take place until I came home. Apparently, he is as good as gold when I'm not home and turns into Devil Dog when I am. Strangely, G is having the exact same problem with Rupert's litter-mate, Colin. Colin is an angel all day with C but becomes badly behaved when G comes home.

Just now, tired of cleaning up pee in the computer room, I unfolded the ex pen so that Rupert could step into the room with a two-foot square space but can't go into the rest of the room. HRH was on my lap as I typed at the desk. I swear she was smirking at him. Rupert got up on his hind legs but realised he couldn't get past the ex pen. So he turned around. And peed. He was on the pee pad but he had to squat and aim outside the pad. Another clean up job. Aargh.

And then now Rupert is lying on my lap as I write. I left him sleeping on the sofa but he woke up, dashed into the computer room in search of me, wanted up on my lap and now he's sound asleep and twitching away. How is this endearing snuggler the same devil who committed all the housetraining crimes a few hours ago?

Monday, October 09, 2006

I know it like the back of his head

When Rupert first arrived, it struck me that the back of his head looks so much like Spock's, with the tan (only it was black in Spock's case) from the ears meeting a white triangle at the back of the head. When Spock was a puppy, this was all I saw of him. When he was awake, there was no stop button. He was constantly on the go. I could only spend time with him when he was asleep, and he'd sleep on my lap, all curled up like this and all I could see of him was the white triangle of fur at the back of his head. I hardly saw his face, it was always running away from me when he was awake. And when I walked him on leash, again, I would only see that white triangle at the back of his head.

Rupert however, has more snuggle moments. In between the peeing and pooping, that is.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Better than WWE

Welcome to WWDog -- we've got more thrills and spills! And all this action comes without the benefit of steroids!

Today, HRH Boss meets Rupert the Squirt in a Grudge Match for the Sofa. Boss is a seasoned campaigner but Squirt has youth and energy on his side. And he moves fast -- very, very fast while Boss is a little lumpier, stockier and slower.

Squirt goes for Boss first, rolling her over, straddling her and nibbles her ears. Boss flips over, allowing Squirt to win the first round. An easy victory. And we all think he wins! But the crafty old bitch flips back, hooks two paws round Squirt's hips, hauls herself up, and mounts him -- all in a smooth move.

They tussle, all the way down the length of the sofa and back up again. Along the way, they thoughtfully stopped to replace the fur that the vacuum removed only this morning.

Squirt flips her back and now he's on top! Boss rolls over and pants. The countdown begins... she is older and tires faster... will she get up? And just as the countdown hits 9... she flips right back!

This old Boss isn't going to take anything lying down. It's all a ploy. As soon as Squirt is caught off guard, she makes her move. One carefully-placed headbutt and Squirt is sent sprawlling off the sofa.

HRH Boss wins again!

Saturday, October 07, 2006

In the pink of things

JW is wrong, there is such a thing as too much pink. I bought this set of fitted sheet, duvet cover and pillow covers yesterday -- couldn't resist, it was discounted at 30 per cent.

Only the design looked much better on the picture in the package. Now that we've got it out of the package and on to the bed, the hearts look too big, the curlicues unnecessary, the pink too well, pink and the whole thing tacky and over the top. L insisted I take a picture for the blog. HRH of course had to model. So that I won't get away with not posting a dog-related entry.

Full moon madness

Now that we have the poo situation under control, Rupert has backslided on the pee bit. I walked him about an hour before Les got up and we fed the dogs together. So I figured he didn't need to go. Stupid, stupid, stupid! Of course he did. Even if he hadn't had any water. A puppy can make pee out of thin air.

And so he went all over the floor. This was my fault. I should have known better than to disregard the always take the puppy out immediately after meals mantra. So I took him out while Les mopped up. He didn't go. I guess there was nothing left after the giant puddle. But he obligingly did a little (solid) nugget poop since he was out. Such a good boy, I thought.

Then we came back upstairs and less than five minutes, he turned air into pee again and went on the floor. Again. Sigh.

Maybe it's the full moon that's driving him wonky.

And this is a clever stitch to the Mid-Autumn Festival. What, you think I only blog about puppy waste products?

It's the full moon Mid-Autumn Festival tonight but you can't even see the moon -- we're blanketed by haze from the Indonesian forest fires. Still, judging from the candle wax and the spent sparklers on the playground downstairs, some kids must've been out with their lanterns, determined to make a go out of it.

I'd rather stay indoors and tuck into mooncakes. I still like the traditional lotus paste and egg yolk version best despite the new-fangled flavours the hotels conjure up -- I've had chocolate (you can't go wrong with chocolate but even so, I say let the mooncakes be mooncakes), mango and green tea fillings. In Singapore, you get into the mooncake act even if you're a Belgian chef. Emanuel Stroobant's new Archangel deli offered snowskin mooncakes with East meets West fillings: red wine and pandan; truffle and chesnut; basill and white lotus; foie gras and red bean. The last combination intrigues me. Liver mooncakes! I guess maybe the dogs would like that.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Blog spot

And here's where I talk to my friends. When the children let me do so, that is.

HRH has trained L to drag her big cushion into the room when I'm on the computer so that she doesn't need to lie on cold, hard floor. The computer room has now become the Little Squirt's room. He stays in the ex pen when nobody's home. But when I'm in here and on the computer, he expects to sit on my lap -- that was how we bonded in the early days, in the mornings when HRH was still in bed. But no lap for him when HRH is in the room. Mummy is hers and nobody else's.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Sharing space

I wouldn't say they're doing it nicely (and HRH Boss is the culprit here), but they're starting to share some space.

Still here

I had taken a lovely picture of L on the sofa bookended by the two dogs. And then I promptly lost the picture because I thought I'd downloaded it with the previous pictures and deleted everything. Oh well, I'm sure there'll be lots more opportunities for pictures later.

I had to refrain from posting any of the ones taken in the past two days though. They look like dog porn. HRH Boss has been humping the Young Upstart to let him know who rules. He's accepted that. But one of these days, she's going to realise that he's going to be much bigger than her. It'll be interesting then, I'm sure.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Schnauzer stand-off

The Poopy Wars may be over soon -- all praise to the doG of Antibiotics -- but the stand-off continues.

Friday, September 29, 2006

L. Charlton Heston

Here's L doing our very own Ben-Hur chariot race

HRH rules

Here she is claiming the highest spot on the couch -- the arm rest. The little squirt is on what we call the day bed -- properly, Queeni's day bed. She used to love lying in it and watching out of the full-length window. She doesn't like to do that any more ever since Rupert decided to sleep in it. I feel really bad for her.

However, today, she got her own back at Rupert. She humped him to show him who's HRH Boss. Then she used her paw to smack him in the head. The bitch is back.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Making himself at home

Spot the puppy -- like HRH, this guy is into couch cushion camouflage too. Well, that was yesterday. Today, he found the "day bed" that HRH's godma gave her and decided to blend into the soft toys. Her soft toys, I may add.

His first day manners are over now that he's making himself at home. Which means I have to rethink the plants on the lower level of the plant stand -- he has already used the money plant as a high-fibre supplement to his diet.

He has also found his voice. L called me at work so that I could hear him in the background. I heard him again today, barking at the neighbours who dared to enter their own home.

The only good thing is that if he's feeling comfortable enough to do all this, then the diarrhoea will stop. Please goD

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

The great divide

The couch is like the Berlin Wall now. I feel for HRH, I really do. As reigning Queen, she should be in comfort on the couch and the young upstart should be taking the floor.

The washing machine got a break this morning. But that was because I took Rupert out at almost 3.30am last night, before I went to bed, and again at 7am. Then L took him out at 9am and again at 11am. Since he didn't have any water overnight, I don't know where the copious amounts of pee he produced at those outings came from. We may never again sleep for 8 hours at a stretch -- but at least it saved us from cleaning up.

We withheld food for 24 hours, so there's no diarrhoea either. His last poop at 7am was soft but at least not watery, enough consistency to hold its shape as poop. There you go, dog parents talk dirty like this all the time. I hope that's the end of the squirts.

L is now in a quandary. He will leave the house for a few hours to send me to work. The original plan for the times Rupert is unsupervised is for him to be in the ex pen. But L is deadly afraid of coming home to another shit-hit-the-fan clean-up and is toying with the idea of putting Rupert in the bathroom, just like G did.