Friday, February 29, 2008

Fifteen minutes of fame

I don't usually blog about work but last night, there was this story sitting in the subbing basket that I simply couldn't bring myself to pick up and sub...

Thursday, February 28, 2008

You are beautiful, no matter what they say

I noticed him as I left the concourse of the train station. He was the only person standing still in a sea of moving people. He was eyeing people as they walked past, and when I got on the the escalator, he fell into step behind me. Uh oh, here it comes, I thought.

He was a salesman. And he was flogging meal supplements, the type that people take to lose weight.

"So are you saying I need to lose weight?"

"It's not a question of losing weight, it's a question of becoming healthy."

So he was diplomatic too.

And he talked and he talked as we stood at the bus stop, going on about how he doesn't just sell weight-loss products, he
keeps in touch with his clients to make sure that they maintain a healthy programme. And that there's a group of them called "From Aunties to Beauties".


Now I was getting truly pissed off. Not only is he "size-ist" but "age-ist". What, women over a certain size and a certain age are not beautiful?

I was so glad that my bus came and I could prise myself off him.

Why is it I can't shut salespeople up midstream?

Monday, February 25, 2008

Rain

We haven't had any rain since the beginning of the month and the field is looking scorched and brown. All the lamp posts have a ring of brown grass at the base -- it must be the calling cards left by all the dogs in the neighbourhood.

Before that, we had too much rain -- daily continuous steady monsoonal downpours that lasted all day which flooded the field.

It never is right, is it?

But at least this rainy spell didn't last for more than 20 minutes. Just in time for me to get to work. It is awful having to go to work in the rain and getting drenched before you even reach the shelter of the train station.


I think the grass and trees drank long and deep this 20 minutes.

The next door neighbour is in the process of renovating his flat. Today was the day they took out the windows and window grilles to fit in the new ones. When I went past earlier as I walked the dogs, the old windows had been removed but the new ones hadn't been installed, leaving large gaps in the walls.

It figures that it would rain today.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Friday, February 22, 2008

Throttled by red tape

The all-in-one process of changing the address on our identity cards when we moved in 2006 meant that all the government agencies were notified.

So efficient, we had thought. It cuts through the red tape of having to inform several different government agencies of the address change.

Famous last words. *hollow laughs*

In December 2006 and 2007, the notice to renew our TV licence arrived and I duly paid up. But it wasn't until the last payment that I realised that while the notices were sent to our new address, the address on the inside of the actual notice itself -- that is, the house for which the TV licence is paid -- was still the old address.

So last month, L made a few attempts to call the MDA to notify them of the discrepancy in the address. Nobody answered the call (not surprisingly -- doncha know, civil servants never answer the phone on the first ring) and he left a voice mail. Which was not returned (again, not surprisingly). [Just don't start me on how many calls it took to the AVA to clear up the fog over renewing Queeni's licence without having to microchip her.]

Yesterday, someone from the MDA showed up. And he had to pick a moment when I was in the shower -- blind without my glasses on but luckily, not wet yet. We did not pay our TV licence, he accused. But we did. And we could show him the notice that now had a little printout at the bottom from the post office where I paid it, showing the amount paid and when it was paid, and thus serving as a receipt of payment.

So why was he here? He didn't know either because quite clearly, he could see for himself that the licence was paid.

Aha! It must be that discrepancy in the address thing. The licence was paid, but in their records, paid for the old address, not the new. L explained to him that he had called but no one returned the call nor did anything about the problem.

So this guy gave us another number to call to inform them of the change in address. Couldn't he just go back to his office and rectify the problem, now that he could see for himself what it is? No. You must call this number, he insisted. I cannot do anything.

So L called. Again. And again. And finally got through. It took many, many tries and much patience (fast running out) before he could make the person at the other end of the line understand the problem -- that while the notice was sent to the correct mailing address, the old and incorrect address was on the inside of the notice and hence when the licence was paid, it was paid for the incorrect address.

And how was the person at the other end of the phone going to solve this besides blaming it on a "system error"? He didn't really know. But he would issue us a receipt saying that we're good and paid up -- at this new address. How about the payment for 2006? Nobody would check on historical records if the current one is OK, he said. Well, I sure hope he's right about that. L got his name down just in case because if that happened, he's going to call this guy to deal with it than to wade through another series of attempts. And then the devil got into L, and he asked the guy on the phone but what if he left his job? Then who would understand our predicament? I guess that was just one variable too many for Mr Civil Servant to deal with in a phone call.

I cannot believe that at this day and age, with Tivo, Internet TV, on-demand TV, cable and satellite TV, we are tied up in knots over a licence for terrestrial TV.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Chip in



Rupert got microchipped yesterday. He was very exhausted from the whole experience and here he is, looking dopey and sleepy. Queeni is on the high ground -- she must exert her alphadom and was kind enough not to jump him and hump him as she normally does. She sniffed him when he came home from the vet and zeroed straight in on the spot where the chip is and then kindly left him alone.

I hate needles and I hate blood but I don't think I'm being particularly over-reactive when I think that when you're bleeding, you're hurting.

Because shortly after the vet injected the chip, Roop started bleeding. Dr P was clearly expecting it and she cleaned it up deftly.

But nobody told me anything about the blood part. Everybody just tells you that it's painless -- apart from that moment that it's injected -- and that the dog doesn't feel anything afterwards.

I don't think so. If it bleeds afterwards, it's certainly feeling something until that stops and the wound heals. The bleeding went on for quite a few hours, not a lot of it but a slow sort of seep. Still, it's blood being lost.

Mandatory microchipping for newly licensed dogs, when introduced last year, was meant to enforce responsible pet ownership more so than to return lost dogs to their owners. It meant that irresponsible owners who abandoned their pets can be traced.

It also means that some poor dog bleeds just in case you turn out to be an irresponsible shit.

I would rather that microchipping be encouraged, but not made mandatory, so owners can make a decision not to subject their pets to bleeding. Queeni is a case in point. She is sedentary and not likely to run out the door and get lost. She also has had more than her fair share of health issues and I would not subject her to the pain and blood-letting of microchipping after all that she has already been through.

I'm not against microchipping. Or I wouldn't have had Roop microchipped. But now I would like to jab that thick steel microchip applicator into the AVA guy who decided that microchipping be made mandatory and the pet accessories suppliers who make/sell/import the chips and those who blithely say that "the dog won't feel a thing" and defy them to look me in the eye as they bleed and tell me they didn't feel that.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Rupert's thought process. Or lack thereof.


The cleaners are here! I haven't seen them since last week! That's seven whole days! Human days! I have to tell them how much I miss them!

If I can see through the gate, I can go through the gate!


*CLUNK*

His nose went through the gate but the iron grilles stopped the rest of his face from going through.

R, the Malay cleaner, was so concerned, she started petting him and feeling his head, never mind the dogs-are-haram rule.

We think ol' hardhead is OK because his tail never stopped wagging.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Sit and eat

Just before Chinese New Year, a colleague remarked that his Reunion Dinner would be in front of the TV. Oh, the family would gather round and eat, but they would be watching TV as they did so.

During a Chinese New Year visit, a niece brought her book to the table where everyone was sitting round having tea and read as she ate.

Just over the weekend at the Japanese family restaurant we go to, a couple came in with their child, ordered their meal and then turned on a portable DVD player and set it in front of the kid. When his food arrived, Junior ate his meal with his eyes glued onto the screen.

Today, at the next table at the food court, a mother was having lunch with her son and the kid was playing Nintendo as he was eating.

Don't people just sit and eat any more? My mother can't be last bastion of what she called table manners. Which meant no eating in front of the TV, no reading at the table. If you're meant to be eating dinner, you just sat there and ate. Granted, we didn't have Nintendo then.

My grandmother had even more finicky table manners. No elbows on the table, and not even forearms -- and that's difficult if you're using a bowl and chopsticks, you tend to need to rest your forearms on the edge of the table for support. And you had to turn your chopsticks round and use the other end when picking food from the communal plates.

My gran's standards are too high for me. But I do agree with my mum, surely the dinner table is for eating and not watching movies. That's the whole point of this Eat With Your Family worklife balance initiative isn't it? Last year, I remember the 9-to-5 shift was exhorted to go home early to have dinner with their family. Not go watch DVDs/play Nintendo with the family.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Pooped



Nah, not the solid equivalent of Roop's liquid habits. Just Queeni knackered out. She looks like she's had a long, hard day. I just don't know from what.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Aha!

The reason why Roop peed up a storm on his birthday was because his boyo friends in KCMO egged him to do so!

Friday, February 15, 2008

Here we go again

Yesterday, the birthday boyo peed inappropriately three times -- twice on the tiled floor (where clean-up was easy, like that's any better) and once in his crate (where we've learnt the hard way to line a peepad on the crate pad and swaddle the whole thing in a towel).

And this was after a week where the mop stayed unused and we were thinking that there's hope now that he's a big boyo and all.

Turning two must have been very stressful for him.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Birthday boyo


Rupert is two today. Officially, that is. We don't know when his birthday is, just that he was born in February.

Last February, he had only been here a few months and we were going crazy trying to housebreak him, we completely overlooked that he had a birthday. And because he took so long to housetrain (he still isn't completely), we still mentally thought of him as a puppy still.

It wasn't until maybe the middle of the year that I finally looked properly at his papers and realised that we'd missed a birthday and that we had an adult year-old dog. Who still peed indiscriminately like a puppy.

C, who has Colin, Rupert's littermate, decided that Valentine's Day was a good day for their official birthday since they are such sweethearts.

And the sweetheart dogs, of course, are the ones with a terrible vice that a dogowner normally wouldn't tolerate.

Oh well, another excuse for bak kwa in the kibble. Rupert also had a butter roll in lieu of a birthday cake.

Happy birthday, my sweetheart boyo. And get with the peeing programme, you're a big boyo now.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

It's good to be home



The furkids always know how to make you better after a long day at work.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

The joys of bak kwa

My overseas Singaporean friends who are far away from even a whiff of bak kwa this Chinese New Year will hate me for this post ... and that's why I'm not rubbing salt into the wound by posting pix.

I was trying to describe bak kwa (Wiki does it better than I can in this link) and likened it to smoked bacon, Chinese style.

Which then set off a whole string of thought. Why not use it like bacon then? Bak kwa pieces in a caesar salad. Bak kwa in carbonara sauce with pasta. Bak kwa and scrambled eggs. The possibilities are endless. That was when L looked at me strangely.

And that was when I had a bak kwa sandwich for lunch. It was good

Friday, February 08, 2008

Happy birthday

I was only kidding when I blogged yesterday that the dogs don't need feeding till next week. Not when today, the second day of Chinese New Year, is supposed to be the birthday of all dogs -- the way the seventh day is Yen Yat, the birthday of all mankind (fair's fair, if we get a day, the dogs also get theirs).


So not only did they get fed, they got an extra treat -- slices of bak kwa under their kibble for that surprise find when they reach the bottom of the bowl. Bak kwa, for my gentle overseas reader(s), is barbecued marinated sliced pork. It's available year round but has become a must-have delicacy during Chinese New Year. It's sweetish, savoury and very, very greasy. Which is why the furkids love it.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Gongxi Facai

We're back from making our Chinese New Year visits and we're exhausted. The furkids have collapsed into a heap of fur at my feet. And this was just from visiting two houses -- my parents and my in-laws. I don't know how my friends pack in a whole day of visits.

One grandma plied the furkids with bak kwa. The other doled out cream crackers. Between them and the round bellies, I don't think I need to feed the dogs till maybe next week.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

All these years living with dogs and I never knew

Spotted in Wikipedia by a friend who duly alerted me:
"On the second day (of Chinese New Year), the Chinese pray to their ancestors as well as to all the gods. They are extra kind to dogs and feed them well as it is believed that the second day is the birthday of all dogs."

That's a lot of missed birthdays! Queeni and Rupert now have a not-to-be-refused reason for bak kwa.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Sychronicity

The difference between The Police in concert last century and The Police Reunion tour this century is that last time, when they launched into Roxanne, Every Breath You Take and all their standard bearers, or when Sting rushed the stage towards where you were, it would be lighted by the pin-prick glow of hundreds of cigarette lighters. Now, it was illuminated by the pin-prick glow of hundreds of LCD screens of digicams. Seriously, I think a significant number of the 10,000 strong audience saw the concert through their digicams/cellphone cameras.

The most fun part of the concert was actually even before The Police came on stage. The support band had left, saying that they "had more fun here than in Australia" (gosh, wonder why), and the roadies were dismantling their kit and setting up Stewart Copeland's and the music in the background -- David Bowie, Fine Young Cannibals -- was played at a low, barely discernible volume. They turned up the volume for the last song before The Police came on -- to Bob Marley's "Stand up, stand up, stand up for your rights". All the ang mohs in the audience rose up. All the Singaporeans had their butts firmly planted down. Yup, Sting had obviously played in Singapore before.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Snack attack



Ooh, Mummy has cookies! *glint in eye*

Mummy hasn't got any more cookies. Mummy polished that batch of cheese biscuits (well, they were meant to be cheese straws but I used a cookie cutter so they aren't the usual stick-like things but little heart shaped cookies). Silly Mummy actually thought that any cookies made a week before Chinese New Year will stay in the jar till then. So it looks like Mummy will have to rustle up some quick sugar cookies real fast before Chinese New Year.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Groundhog Day

It's grey and wet today and if there were groundhogs in Singapore, they'd be telling us that we're still in for 6 weeks of monsoon. Groan.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Enjoying the view


It was very windy yesterday so we threw open the windows to enjoy the cool breeze wafting through the house. Which meant that the furkids' windowTV was further enhanced by Sensaround, Soundaround and most importantly, Smellaround.

Today, however, is a different story. The windows are tightly shut against a raging thunderstorm outside and HRH is back to quaking. Poor thing.