Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Ideas from spam

Yesterday, Tad Bourgeois sent me some spam. It went straight to the Junk folder but I'll save his name for when I'm asked for a name. Or maybe I'll feminise it. Midge Proletariat, maybe? I usually give a fake name when making restaurant reservations. I almost never give my name but make one up that you just know isn't me. This started from uni days when you (well, my friends and I anyway) made a joke out of everything possible. So I've gone by Enola Gay, Lara Croft and the last time we went to Hard Rock Cafe, we were Evita Peron, party of four. No one batted an eyelid.

Separately, someone else wanted to inform me that there is "no valve in inharmonious". I guess the valves are looking for a bit of peace. Well, aren't we all.

Monday, February 26, 2007

TV, part three

Looks like we're not the only one with TV aerial problems. When we first moved in, my mother gave us the portable TV from her house that nobody was using. We plugged it into the cable point which was supposed to give you free-to-air feed if you didn't subscribe to cable. Only the dinky set wasn't picking up anything. Our contractor said the TV was probably too old and not sensitive enough to pick up the feed. So we left it at that. The TV is 10 to 15 years old so he's probably right. My Dad gave us a set of rabbit-ears antenna to go with the TV. It picked up the signals although it can't receive the news station. But it was enough to watch Desperate Housewives with and along with that, gave the living room a retro look.

Then we realised that there were a lot of TV antenna coat-wire contraptions sticking out of the windows of our block and the surrounding blocks. It can't be that everyone here has 15-year-old portables like ours!

This morning, I saw the makcik downstairs pottering around the grass outside her ground-floor flat with a portable aerial fixed on top of a laundry bamboo pole, while someone in the house directed her where to plant it. Instructions were first given verbally, then as she moved into the distance, the mode of communication became visual -- move to the right, up, down gestures through the window. And then a cellphone on makcik rang. It was command centre inside the house calling. Much easier directing her on the phone than to yell out the window. How modern communications have eased our life -- even when cable connections fail.

Saturday, February 24, 2007


I guess you could call this a triptych composition. And the first one could easily be subtitled: no room for me on the couch.

When she's not comfortably hogging the couch and covers, Queeni sometimes likes to perch on the back rest of the sofa. It's just one of her many cat-like habits. I keep worrying she'll fall off. But she looks so comfortable, especially with her legs dangling down.

The last pic is of a bench next to the car park in the office building where the smokers hang out. I wonder how many people have been caught sleeping here before the bosses decided it needed a sign. Like that'll stop anybody.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

TV, part two

To continue from yesterday's post on TV -- I watch a lot of late night TV as I get home from work at about 1am. Since I don't have cable, I'm stuck with free-to-air TV, which at that time of the night, are mostly reruns of drama series and reality shows, several seasons behind.

Which is not a bad thing. Because I work nights, I never got to watch them when they were aired "fresh" on prime time. And the great thing is that you don't have to wait a week for the next episode, they broadcast the whole series nightly at the same time slot and and when that runs out, move on to another series.

From 1am to 2am daily on weeknights, I've finally caught up with CSI, CSI Miami and now, am on to Las Vegas (the second season). The 2am to 3am slot was taken up by The Apprentice (the second season, the one that was won by Kelly, the West Pointer) until that recently ended and it's now showing Gray's Anatomy.

I've watched most of the CSI, Las Vegas, The Apprentice and Gray's Anatomy episodes when they were first aired on prime time, this was from when I worked 9am to 5pm for a brief five months two years ago -- so that's how behind these reruns are.

I don't care much for Las Vegas (the series and the town) but I enjoy watching it because it brings to mind the great holiday I had in Vegas when T got married and the Dogtalkers met up. And it's kinda boggling to see that casino hosts apparently never wear the same dress to work more than once.

From 3am to 5am, we get two talk shows: The Ellen Degeneres Show, followed by The Tyra Banks Show. Ellen's funny and witty and a warm and wonderful talk show host, plus her DJ plays some good music, but Tyra should have stuck to modelling and kept her mouth shut because nothing interesting comes out of it. Her function as host seems to be solely reliant on empathy. But that only gets you so far and it makes her eyebrows look very overworked. We used to get Oprah. Bring her back, I say.

Afternoon TV is just as interesting. I catch about an hour before I leave for work and managed to watch a season of Joan of Arcadia, until it ended and now it's on to Remington Steele. It's kinda fun watching a retro series like that. We all know Pierce Brosnan went on to become James Bond but whatever happened to Stephanie Zimbalist? Poor woman, elbowed aside by Mr Steele once again.

Joan of Arcadia caught my attention when it was first screened because it had an interesting premise -- God appearing to a teenager in the form of ordinary people around her. It was first shown on Saturday afternoons and I missed most of it because I was either bathing dogs or grocery shopping at that time. The opening credits flash still pictures of Bob Dylan, Nelson Mandela and the Dalai Lama to theme song, Joan Osbourne's What If God Was One of Us (I wonder what happened to her, she had that one great hit and then seemingly disappeared) and I guess it's left to you to infer what you will of the association. Interesting that other than the Dalai Lama, there's no other picture of a religious leader. The Pope must be sore that he wasn't considered godlike enough. And no Beatle either, despite being more famous than Jesus.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007


One thing about free-to-air TV programming on public holidays here is that you're subjected to variety and award shows -- repeats and sometimes from a year ago.

But yesterday, it was good. I finally got to watch the recent Grammy awards. It was telecast live on Monday morning but I slept through it -- 9am really is too early for me. There was an encore telecast at prime time later that night but I worked through that.

What I really wanted to watch wasn't so much the award presentation or the stars, I just wanted to watch the Police open the show. I wanted to know what they look like now. Quite interestingly, Sting, the good looker of the trio 20 years ago is now the baldy guy. The others still have full heads of hair. Must be retribution.

I wondered why of all their hits, they chose to come back with Roxanne. That rather brings to mind a Sting concert in Australia. He had performed all his solo hits, all the Police hits, came back for encore after encore and still the crowd wanted more. What else hadn't he done, he asked the crowd. And in one voice, they sang: "Roxanne..." And Sting started to beat his head against the microphone and groaned: "Every single f***king day of my life..."

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

New sofa covers

This stuffed dog is Queeni's favourite toy and Rupert likes to rile her by grabbing it and shaking it -- it has a rattle in it. Wedging it against the sofa backrest must be her way of hiding it from him.

And if you notice, we changed the sofa covers for Chinese New Year. We did it on the eve, after my parents went home after reunion dinner. We didn't want to do it any earlier for fear of Rupert peeing on the sofa. The last time my parents were here a fortnight ago, he was so excited that he leaked all over the house.

In fact, as we were struggling with the tight-fitting covers (Ikea designers should incorporate the use of elastic, like how fitted sheets have elastic in the corners -- L was so exasperated he wanted to e-mail the Ikea president and invite him over to change sofa covers and see if he can do it), we heard our downstairs neighbours counting down to shouts of "xingnian quaile". I've never had a Chinese New Year countdown before, I thought it was only a Dec 31/Jan 1 thing.

I guess this portends a lot. We missed the English New Year countdown because we were walking the dogs. We missed the Chinese New Year countdown because we were changing sofa covers because somepuppy peed on the other set.

When we bought this second set of covers as a spare set, I picked this pied beige colour because it looked like sand, and I thought that went so well with the picnic table, surfboard and sky-painted ceiling.

We still don't trust Rupert fully, that's why there's a towel draped on the sofa seat -- in the vain hopes that it'll soak up most of what he might decide to leave. At best, we say it's a decorative touch -- a beach towel on sand effect.

Now that Rupert has moved it, I've discovered another nice thing about this pied colour -- it beautifully camouflages shed fur.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Hongbao deficit

You know you're going to go into hongbao deficit every Chinese New Year because you have to fork them out now that you're married but have no kids to reap in return hongbao.

Last year, we thought the tide might turn because Queeni got hongbao from Mum and from the neighbour. This year, we thought, we might even do better, now that Rupert's onboard and we're a two furkid household.

Nope. Not a single hongbao came their way. By the end of today, the pile of hongbao that we packed with crisp new notes diminished sharply.

What's funny though is that although we're in hongbao deficit, we're in mandarin orange surplus. I don't know how it happened, we brought the customary two oranges to every visit but came back with more oranges than we left.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Gongxi facai

HRH Queeni wishes all her loyal subjects, devoted servants and gentle readers a Happy Chinese New Year.

The Year of the Dog may have trotted out but she wants you to know that she has got the Year of the Pig covered, especially as she snorts like a pig when excited. And you know how bak kwa excites a dog.

Queeni's press secretary would like to point out that this is a file photo, from two Chinese New Years ago. HRH has had a hair cut since.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Sound effects

Every Friday, I look forward to picking up from the subbing pool the food stories for the weekend edition. Especially today, after last night's killer nine-pager on the Budget following Parliament.

Only today, someone else got the choice food story first. But she was so taken in by what she was subbing, she messaged excerpts as she went along. Heston Blumenthal has a new take on fine dining. And it comes with iPods. The idea is to have a sound accompaniment to what you're eating.

His new menu features seafood -- shellfish served on a bed of edible sand, which is Japanese breadcrumbs fried with something I now forget. It is to be washed down by "sea water" in a martini glass, which is some seaweed infusion. And all this time, you're plugged into an iPod, listening to the sound of the sea.

He wanted to explore the sense of sound together with the sense of taste. It's not illogical, I suppose. It's like beautifully presented Japanese meals which cater to the the sense of sight along with taste.

Only I don't think Bray is by the sea and I sure hope his inspiration isn't the British seaside because I can tell you that my experience of Blackpool Tower, Brighton Promenade and Dover didn't inspire me to want to drink the sea water. Or maybe I had been to the wrong places. I had an involuntary tasting of the sea at Lyme Regis, it sprayed me in the face along that wall structure when I was pretending to be The French Lieutenant's Woman.

And when you reach dessert and opt for Blumenthal's famed bacon and eggs foam, the iPod plays you the sound of sizzling bacon.

The bit that the sub incredulously copied and sent: when you're eating chicken, you get to hear the clucking barnyard sounds.

That's where it started to go horribly wrong for me. When I'm eating chicken, I do not want to think that it was once alive and had a mother. So I don't really want to hear its voice when I'm eating it. As it is, I only eat meat that comes in fillets. I can't eat wings or thighs or bits that are recognisably limbs or part of an animal. I would like to not think that my dinner was once a sentient animal, I prefer to have an ostrich mentality and think that it comes on a styrofoam tray and think no further back. Or I would have a problem eating at all.

It's like that bit in Douglas Adams' The Restaurant at the End of the Universe where the talking cow points to his various bits and recommends Arthur Dent the choicest cuts before trotting off to the kitchen to become dinner.

At least Adams was being sarky. Blumenthal wasn't.

I suppose it's a good thing Blumenthal hasn't explored the sense of smell. Imagine, barnyard smells with your chicken chop.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

No rhinoceros in sanhedrin

That's the subject of a spam e-mail I got. Maybe there's something wrong with the water in Sanhedrin. But first, I have to find out where it is.

And the spam next to had the subject: No by malaysia. So I guess the rhinos are bypassing Malaysia too. But they're definitely in the neighbourhood somewhere.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

What rubbish!

Nowadays, new HDB blocks have just one centralised rubbish chute. That's just one chute for the whole block, usually located off the lift lobby. As opposed to the old design where every kitchen had a chute. Which is still better than a Hong Kong block (a Happy Valley condo, no less) I once lived in which had no chute at all, and the residents just left their bags of garbage on the back stairs for the cleaners to dispose of.

But this one central chute means that every bag of garbage thrown down by every household in the whole block goes down that way. And when the garbage truck is late or doesn't come (as was the case yesterday), the garbage thrown out by everyone stacks up to more than two floors high.

That's what I found out when I took out the garbage -- when I stepped on the pedal to open the chute flap and tossed in my bag, I wondered why it wouldn't go down. Then I peeked in and realised that it was blocked by a towering mound of garbage bags that reached up to the second floor where we were. I should have gone up one floor to see if the mound reached the third floor.

That's how full of garbage my block is. :)

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Dog park

We took the furkids to the dog park in Pasir Ris this afternoon. Rupert had the time of his life running off leash. Curiously, he didn't shoot straight off to join the welcoming band of golden retrievers (why is it that every dog park we go to, every dog cafe, has a resident bunch of golden retriever greeters at the door/gate?) or terriers that were trotting around.

I thought he would be off like a shot now that he had off-leash freedom. Instead, he stuck to us and only ventured to run when we threw a tennis ball for him. And when we sat down, he stuck around us, never venturing more than a few feet away and then coming back. The good side to this, I suppose, is that this puppy has established a bond with us. And he's probably not going to be the sort of dog that would take off the instant he could. That's nice to know.

HRH, of course, stuck close and wouldn't mix around. That's why she's at the corner of the top photo, seeking solace between Daddy's legs while Rupert mingled.

And now, the two dogs are comatose again. Another peaceful evening. :)

Early reunion dinner

The humans are having their Chinese New Year reunion dinner next Saturday so it stands to reason that the dogs will have theirs first, today. Only two canine cousins didn't come because their daddies decided they wanted a stress-free evening. Or maybe they wanted to go out after dinner? It is Saturday night after all and some dog parents do have a life. Even if we don't. :)

And of course, as in every photo, Vivi the terrorist Jack Russell has brimstone eyes. She also left her pawprints on our bathroom mat. Haha, Vi's a dirty little girl.

The furkids are unconscious now so that means it must have been a great evening.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Lucky numbers

Eight is supposed to be a lucky number for the Chinese, it's a synonym for for prosperity. 1888 is supposed to be a lucky combination, it sounds like "prosper straightaway".

So that's why the supermarket cashier was astounded when she totalled our shopping yesterday. It came up to $188.88. She thinks we should buy that number for the 4D lottery, especially with Chinese New Year round the corner.

Friday, February 02, 2007


This blog last week has been a casualty of work. After wrestling with layouts and that dreaded MTX program, I wasn't in a mood to come home and fire up another computer.

I've had to call HelpDesk almost every other day and of course they're stumped by my problems. Only me. Yesterday, it was so unsolvable, they had to get Prepress to delete the page and create a whole new one in its stead.

I'm having this recurring nightmare where I know I'm in a dream state and cannot break away from it until I save my story but the MTX Monster will not let me save.

Other casualties here are wrecked by the fox terrier weapon of mass destruction. The wicker basket is HRH's, given to her a few Christmasses ago by her godma who called it her day bed, knowing full well that her night bed is the double bed the humans in the house so foolishly think is theirs. That Dog has been chewing on it and bitter spray did nothing except to probably enhance the flavour for him. He's aberrant, remember? He started throwing up from the ratan but that didn't deter him either. Then I freaked when I saw ratan pieces in his poop. The idiot hadn't just been chewing it, he's been eating it. He's lucky he didn't get an obstruction with a sharp piece. So out goes the basket into the recycling. I don't know how to make up to HRH for this one.