Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Over the hump of the hill

I'm 45 today. There's no denying it. Even my knees remind me daily. I'm stuck squarely in middle age. I used to be able to skirt round it by saying I'm only in my early 40s. Now I'm in my mid-40s. Ack.

I thought I'd console myself with a grand tuck-in. The Shangri-La Hotel has a brilliant promotion called Flash Your Age where, if you and a party of up to 8 people eat at any of their outlets on your actual birthday, you'd get a discount of exactly how old you are. So a 45-year-old would get 45% off her bill. By that accounting, I wonder if a 100-year-old would get to eat for free. And would they pay a 101-year-old for coming?

I called to make a reservation a whole week ahead -- which is about as far as I can plan anything. To my consternation, I was politely, almost sorrowfully, told that the allotment for the promotion on my birthday was already taken up.

I wasn't told what the allotment was. I hope it wasn't just a handful of people. Either that or a hell of a lot of people share my birthday. Well, happy birthday to you, whoever you are, you forward-thinking advance-planning buggers.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Kill 'em all

It has been described as the most destructive creature -- it eats almost anything; it kills native wildife; it is a prolific breeder that takes over native habitat; and it spreads disease.

And that's why, on Toad Day Out, some 24 hours after respecting Earth Hour, thousands of cane toads were killed in Australia.

If they were exterminated for the above reasons, then homo sapiens ought to worry. They're equally guilty of the above.

Sunday, March 29, 2009


I've got a birthday coming up next week, and this is my pre-birthday present from L. His reasoning is that when we last celebrated his birthday, it was among sheep in the English countryside. So he would find me sheep for my birthday too. I think my sheep are cuter.

The lights are on

I'm bad, nasty and mean-spirited, as horrid as a kitten killer. I didn't turn my lights off for an hour during Earth Hour.

In Singapore, the commercial buildings and hotels downtown observed the practice. It would be bad PR not to. So they turned off their facade lights and "non-essential" lighting, according to a press release I saw.

My kitten killer instincts tell me that if these lights were "non-essential", then shouldn't they be turned off all the time and not just one hour every year?

I thought if I really wanted to reduce my carbon footprint and save the Earth, I shouldn't stop at turning off the lights, I should turn off the electricity. But I didn't want to miss The Clone Wars on TV, which fell within that hour.

Also, we had got home shortly before 8.30pm, the switch-off time, with groceries and needed the lights on to see our way through putting the food away in the fridge and also hanging up the laundry which L had started before leaving the house. I figured that since I had already consumed so much electricity in storing my food and washing my clothes, I might as well use some more so that I can see what I'm doing with my food and my clothes.

I found out about Earth Hour and the one-hour turn-off at 8.30pm on March 28 from billboard ads I saw at the bus stops when I was on the bus to work. These are giant posters mounted onto a class case which is lighted up from within by fluorescent tubes, so that the ads are visible, even at night.

And I bet you they weren't turned off at Earth Hour.

I should have gone back to the bus stop and taken a picture. The Earth Hour website invites people to send pictures of what they did during the turn-off. Kitten killer would have loved to send them a picture of their ad, lighted up brightly, from 8.30pm to 9.30pm on March 28.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Good golly, Bolly

Someone in another division of my company was looking for people to fill a Bollywood dance class, so I decided why not? I like bopping around to dance music, and this sounded like a fun thing to do. Besides, I figured that taking yoga classes had given me some body control, and plus a childhood of ballet classes, I could follow choreography.

How wrong I was. Body control in yoga class is balancing on a poise. Classical ballet choreography does not move at 100 beats a minute. Bopping around to music turned up loud on the stereo is done with no regard to moving in a sequence.

There were eight counts to the bar, there was a move for every single beat. We were constantly moving -- twirling, spinning, jumping, turning, gyrating, shaking -- and you had to do it all in order.

It was good exercise, there was no doubt. But fun? Not when you had to memorise moves that go at breakneck speed.

Honestly, within 10 minutes of the one-hour class, I was willing to give up the $80 I had paid for 8 classes over 8 weeks as a write-off.

When I got back to my desk, an Indian colleague (who bought us treats to celebrate the day Slumdog Millionaire won 8 Oscars) raised an enquiring eyebrow.

"Jai Ho, my ass," I muttered in a weak response before falling into my seat.

I swear I will never scoff at a Bollywood dance sequence again. And they do it without air-conditioning, out among coconut trees and up hills and down dales.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Royal snit

The groomer came yesterday when I was at work. When I got home, I knew Queeni wasn't happy about things when I received only a one-dog slobber salute. HRH was in our bed, under the covers with the air-conditioning on, and emerged only to shriek about all the indignities that she was subjected to.

Then she went into a sulk so prolonged that it was beyond anything I had ever seen, even for a Schnauzer, a breed notorious for its stubbornness.

She spent all night sitting upright in her crate, glowering. When it came to bed time, she refused to go with us into the bedroom -- this is the dog who's such an air-conditioning slut that she is the first to dash into the room as soon as it is turned on, and hog the bed.

She stayed out in the living room all night. I thought she'd give up and come in to bed when I turned off all the lights. Nope. Her will was greater. When I last checked on her, she had annexed Rupert's crate, which is roomier than hers, and was stretched out comfortably.

But L reported that when he checked on her, she was sitting upright in the dark. Glowering. And he got out of bed to check on her every two hours or so, he couldn't sleep without a Schnauzer-sized bump in our bed.

Clearly, she was punishing him, seeing him as the traitor who let in the groomer. I was just collateral damage.

The punishment continued into this morning. She wouldn't get out of the crate even though she obviously needed to pee. She'll usually come running up to the door when I put Rupert's leash on him as she can't stand to be left out. Not this time. When I came back after walking him, I rang the doorbell, thinking that it would surely get her out of the crate. She did bark furiously at the ring, but from the depths of the crate. She's smarter than me.

Finally, I abandoned my golden rule of not molesting any dog that's gone into its crate because it's its sanctuary, and L tipped it on its slide and she slithered reluctantly out. And she still refused to have anything to do with him, she came up to me and clearly indicated that I was the chosen one to walk her. Even though L usually takes her while I take Rupert when we walk the two together -- she is daddy's girl while Roop is mummy's boyo.

And so I retraced the route I had taken earlier with Rupert, my second walk of the morning with the second dog. I was being punished as well as L. She only acknowledged L somewhat when he set her lunch dish down.

I'm sure it's not over yet and that this is going to be a long drawn out soap opera of a Schnauzer dog story.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Say what you mean, mean what you say

I've had the most frustrating fortnight as my ISP changed mail servers and I couldn't access my primary email even though I'd followed instructions to the letter on changing the POP and SMTP settings.

I thought it was just me being dumb or something. Then when the ISP got battered on Net forums and Twitter over stuck email, I felt a little better.

But when I could finally dial through to the server, only to have it reject my password, I thought it was just me again. Especially as it accepted the same password when I checked the Web version of my mail.

Tech service was of no help -- if only because they couldn't even be reached. I lost patience and hung up after being put on hold for more than a few minutes.

So I toyed with all my settings. And then, amazingly, after a minor change, everything worked and my email was back in business. Where the prompt asked for username, I had duly given just my username. It really wanted username@address.com. The java error window couldn't express that, it could only tell me that it was rejecting my password when the problem all along was the username. Or more properly, username@address.com. It must've been programmed by a geek who didn't know how to say what he meant.

Now I feel kinda smug that I solved all that without tech service. They can go and tie up the phone lines and keep not saying what they mean.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

These are the sort of brainards I work with

There were cookies left out on the communal food table at work some nights ago, and one of the night editors happened to be at the table while I was choosing which flavour cookie I wanted.

He looked at the little flat discs and muttered: "Can you imagine a three-dimensional being in a two dimensional world?" And went on to talk about a novel called The Flatlanders.

It was like jetstream, ie flying way up high above my head, very, very fast. So when I went back to my desk, I had to Google what he was talking about. It's a Victorian novella, published in 1884. I couldn't suppress the feeling that the ancient night editor probably read it when it first came out. Although Wikipedia tells me that it was also made into a movie in 2007, so maybe he might have read it again more recently.

And yes, it does examine the concept of different dimensions.

All this from cookies.

And I was having trouble choosing between chocolate chip and cranberry oatmeal.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The Queen and her royal comfort zone

You know the fairy tale about the princess that slept on a hundred mattresses? Well, this one is about the Queen who slept on my pillows.

When you're royalty, sleeping on the bed isn't quite good enough; you need to annex all the pillows as well.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Dear Nabilah, girls can do anything

The constituency that I live in publishes a thin family-style magazine that is distributed to all the residents in the ward.

One of the regular columns is a 'Kids Talk' section where a question is posed to young children living in the district, mostly in the hopes of getting cutesy or smarty-pants answers that only kids can give, along with pictures of them grinning, their fingers flashing a V sign that only young innocents can get away with.

This issue's question to them was "Would you like to be the Prime Minister of Singapore?" Most of the children, mostly aged 5 to 8, were completely disinterested.

Louis, 5: Uh-uh. (Shakes his head).
Q: Why not?
A: I don't even know what that is.

Nabilah, 8: Isn't it only boys can be PM?

The first answer is cutesy-funny but the second almost chilling. I don't know what's more disturbing, the girl's answer or her picture, in which she is already wearing a hijab. Strictly speaking, that's not required of her for some years yet, she's only 8 and clearly pre-pubescent. And already, she's somehow got the message that some jobs are for boys only.

I want to talk to her mother.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Comfort zone

L calls this the "furkids sandwich". It's always me, not him, that they press up against in bed. He gets plenty of space. But it sure does make me feel very loved. :)

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

In limbo

I haven't been updating due to a combination of reasons. My dad is in hospital for hip surgery after a fall and proving once again to be the patient from hell.

And my primary email account is unaccessible after my ISP migrated its mail servers, despite my following detailed instructions to change the POP & SMTP settings. Most frustrating, both ways.

So, nothing really nice to write about. Except last night, one of my supes came over, he had been reading the page proofs and brandished one that had a lead story which I subbed earlier.

"Eh, is this your handiwork?" he asked.

"What did I do now?" I groaned. It's my standard reply to him because everytime he comes over, it's to wag a finger at me because I missed a typo or a literal.

"You did good this time!" He liked the headline I had given and the pluck quote that I had selected.

It made my night. Now if only more supes will come round with good things instead of bad.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Fight this WMD

Spotted on a Tshirt: "Poverty is a weapon of mass destruction."

Makes sense. Now imagine what could have been achieved if the US$595 billion that was spent on the Iraq war went into fighting this WMD.