terse & at large

GRRRRR. Arrrgh. And sometimes a travel log.

Thursday, April 29, 2004


Ah, once again, I get to talk about my pet topic (or peeve, if you please).

A couple of articles from yesterday’s (28 May 2004) Straits Times:


THE principal of Nan Chiau High, Mr Ng Lee Huat, 53, is stepping down after admitting to hitting a student with a book. The Education Ministry (MOE) said yesterday that it had accepted his offer to step down as head of the secondary school in Sengkang, but some parents and students were upset by his departure. They called the Singapore Hokkien Huay Kuan which manages the school to ask if he could be reinstated.

Mr Ng, who had been in the teaching service since 1975, had hit the Secondary 2 girl on April 15.
A police report was later made by the god-sister of one of five students who had, together with the girl, been called up by Mr Ng. MOE did not disclose what the girl was disciplined for, but said: 'Hitting a student, no matter how testing the circumstances of disciplining the student, cannot be condoned. This is unacceptable action that is outside the guidelines governing corporal punishment in schools.' In this case, the upset parents alleged the girl had often defied school rules.

One parent, who gave his name only as Mr Tan, told The Straits Times: 'Why is it that students are given a second chance, but not principals?'

His daughter, who is also in Sec 2, said the girl, in her 1 1/2 years at the school, has been disciplined more than 20 times for truancy, being late for school and disruptive in class. Another parent, who did not want to be named, said Mr Ng had seen the school through some bad times, about five years ago, when it faced dwindling enrolment at its old site in Kim Yam Road. But since its move to Sengkang, enrolment has returned to 1,460 students. Under Mr Ng, the school also won the value-added award for two years, in 1999 and 2000.

The Today newspaper had also reported that Mr Ng's departure took the girl's mother by surprise. She said she had met Mr Ng over the incident and accepted his explanation and apology.


Thank you, MOE! That’s really sending a clear signal to the masses: teachers, even principals, are fair game. Kids are a misunderstood lot. They make noise in class, skip lessons, miss school, get into all kinds of trouble, but they’re really just misguided little people, aren’t they? And when little people like that defy school rules, throwing the book at her [literally] isn’t the way to do things. It might make have the negative effect of making her, I don’t know… WAKE UP, maybe?

Kay has said it already in her blog: the man probably stepped down more on principle (a good man, then -- more than what his achievements say about him -- in my book) than anything else. And that the idiot girl and the kay-poh godsister of another troublemaker are probably beside themselves with smugness.

From the sound of it, it seems to me that the mother was probably thankful to the principal for standing up to her bratty daughter (probably disciplined for the first time in her short, ugly, brutish life), but the girl decided to take matters into her own hands and consulted the godsister person to make a police report.

(‘Godsister’. Hmm, if they were in a Catholic school… but elsewhere, doesn’t something like this suggest gang ties?)

Not the first time I’ve seen something like this happen. Unfortunately.

MOE did not disclose what the girl was disciplined for, but said: 'Hitting a student, no matter how testing the circumstances of disciplining the student, cannot be condoned. This is unacceptable action that is outside the guidelines governing corporal punishment in schools.'


So who protects the teachers, and sometimes principals, from assault? Threats? Slander/ libel? Molest? Teenager-pique?

Also in yesterday’s Straits Times, the Forum Page:


I HAVE been doing relief teaching for the past few years and have asked myself countless times whether it is worth it.

I used to believe teaching is a meaningful job. I was wrong. My experiences have been discouraging and disappointing. My conversations with many trained and experienced teachers tell me that they feel the same way.

Children today have no respect for anybody. They talk non-stop and teachers have to shout to be heard. The top students don't bother to listen as they have had enough tuition to make sure they score, not that they are really smart. The bad ones look at their teachers as though they are nobody.

Many teachers carry personal loud-speakers because it is very hard to shout the whole day.
Should you try to discipline a pupil, the parents would file a complaint and you would be called into the principal's office.

When children do not perform well in their studies, it is the teacher's fault.

I heard recently that a student slapped a teacher. I was hoping to see it in the news but it wasn't.

I hope the Ministry of Education will take action to preserve the dignity of teachers. Only motivated and high-spirited teachers can contribute to the moral development of our children. Only morally correct children can build a better Singapore.


And an email from the Cousin:
wow, I would so want to be a student now – I can just challenge a teacher to dare beat me and even provoke them to actually beat me – they will lose their job!

then me – I will win.

I am reminded of a story an ex-colleague once told about how his friend, who was teaching in the UK, was walking along the school corridor (if I'm not remembering wrongly, it was the guy's first day in that school) when a student walks up to him and calls him a 'fucking wanker'. So, ex-colleague's friend grabs hold of the kid and drags him to the Headmaster's Office, where.... Ohoho! Teacher gets into trouble for laying a hand on the kid.

I fear that's the road Singapore teachers are on now.

Maybe this is the solution:


Maybe it has nothing to do with the trouble in the region. Maybe it’s all about the misguided little people. I wonder how that will work here?

“FOR THE FIFTH TIME, Mr Tan, sit down. You’re making too much noise. And the rest of the class wants to learn.”

“MR TAN! Sit. Down.”

“Stop talking to Mr Lim. Oh, what the f –“ [BLAM!]

“Oh shut up Mr Tan! Stop whining, it’s just a sucking chest wound.”

Hmm, three verbal warnings after a handful of chances, then the punitive action.

MOE guideline: Met.

Monday, April 26, 2004


So, in the six weeks that I've been doing photography for the college, I've been called sir, teacher, lao shi, Mr Photographer, T****** kor-kor (elder brother), eh!, er, um, ahem and (the one that takes the prize) uncle.

Sigh. I need to start sleeping early. It has to be the eye bags.


Anyway, new ad on TV: Mega Mattress (the one that has something to do with Starhub). Does anyone else think that the pudgy couple playing husband and wife may be brother and sister?

Sunday, April 25, 2004

Instant Solidarity

I was having lunch with the Mother, Grandmother and my brother in a mid-priced Vietnamese restaurant yesterday. The place was quite okay for noon on a Saturday: four tables filled inside the restaurant and one ang-moh sitting al fresco in the heat (so you know where the people with brains are).

The conversation was muted, as well it should be in a confined, quiet, air-conditioned setting. Of course, it was too good to last.

I can't decide which is worse:

1. Someone letting his/ her mobile phone ring for ages before answering it.

2. Someone who carries a conversation on a phone at a decibel level that would make everyone within earshot deaf in about two months, if she kept it up constantly.

3. Someone discussing a problem with her bowels/ colon where other people are having food.

4. Someone who willingly comes into a mid-priced Vietnamese restaurant (and let's face it, there aren't too many cheap Vietnamese eateries in Singapore -- a meal will cost you at least ten bucks if you're a small eater), loudly tells the waitress that 'everything is too expensive' and then orders a $3.50 bowl of plain noodles.

5. Someone who did all of the above.

First of all, the ringing got to everyone's nerves because it went on for far too long. Look, I do it sometimes, hesitate a little to glance at the caller id so I'd know who was calling, but to hesitate for what felt like thirty seconds? That's ridiculous. Anyway, it was also a cutesy, irritating ringtone at Level 6 (loudest volume), which made it worse.

Then the loud conversation began. Immediately everyone else (I shit you not) stopped in the midst of their own conversations and eating, bobbed their heads up and over to the woman on the phone. We couldn't have choreographed it better. Even my grandmother who is partially deaf looked up and over at the offending troglodyte.

The table next to hers was the one that suffered the most I guess. Their conversation, which had been rather animated (but muted -- important factoid) before the phone call, was suddenly put on hold and they were looking around uncomfortably. And more than one of us stopped eating when the details of a colon problem surfaced. One of the guys at the table looked directly at me and I shrugged, and at that moment -- [insert title here]. He smiled weakly and rolled his eyes.

And the woman? Completely oblivious.

Her phone call lasted several minutes (at least one and a half songs' worth). And when she was done, there was silence in the restaurant you could cut with a knife.

It was a long while before conversation returned.

I'm just thinking: we have all these toys to [supposedly] make our lives better, more convenient, and all that, but we still can't teach people to use these toys responsibly? I mean, bad enough that your phone rings during a movie, but you carry on with the conversation? Loudly? When the hell did people here learn to be such louts?

Hell, I'm embarrassed when my phone beeps when I'm in a cab -- I usually switch the ring/ beep tone to a lower setting so it doesn't become too irritating for the cabbie, especially when I'm expecting a lot of messaging back and forth.

Consideration! For a cabbie? Inconceivable! But I do it.

People will still answer phone calls in the movie hall, talk loudly during a movie, and talk about disgusting things that are happening to their bodies in a fairly crowded restaurant. And they get annoyed when they're told off.

What the fuck?

Friday, April 23, 2004

Ah, Satisfaction

Got this in my email today:

Thank you for your feedback.

We have opted your account out of E-Billings. This will take effect from May invoice. We have also attached a copy of the recent March invoice for your easy reference.

Please allow us to clarify that due to security reasons, we do not email the invoices to customers. Customers will need to authenticate by keying in their password and userid before being able to access to their invoices.

When days get this hot, I become Ralph Nader.

Thursday, April 22, 2004

Lightbulbs are Dim

Kid spoke to me yesterday after one of the sessions for a PDP (what this college calls its CCAs); the conservation went along something like this:

Kid: You look familiar.

Me: Ye-ess. I only taught your class GP for two weeks.

Kid: Yep. That's why I said 'you look familiar'.


If I got ten cents for every dumb-ass statement I hear...


Speaking of dumb-ass, I saw this on the ticker tape on Channel News Asia last night:

"A fifth Palestinian was shot dead... This makes the death toll, since the troubles began, five."

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

All About Nic

Spent the last hour or so watching the live coverage 'as it happens' of the collapse of a section of the road on Nicoll Highway, and I've come to the conclusion that our news teams are ill-equipped to deal with events as they occur. For examples:

1. One reporter calling the hole made by the suspected gas explosion a 'ravine'. Man, that's one big hole then. We could market it as our very own Grand Canyon.

2. Another reporter (from the same station -- no turf wars in Singapore, I guess), reporting on the minute-by-minute happenings: "The police are now looking for survivals with their dogs." No script, no Speek Good Engleesh.

3. Constant references by the anchorpeople to the first 'survival' pulled from the mess: the first survivor, a Thai construction worker, was rushed to the Singapore General Hospital in a wheelchair. Uh, wouldn't it be faster if they'd used an ambulance? Who types this shite on the teleprompter anyway?

Internet Inanity

For all that I thought I had left the notion of ‘technology for technology’s sake’ when I left teaching, I was proven wrong today.

Before I proceed, perhaps it’s best I explained what this notion is all about.

[Steps on soapbox]

If there’s an old (read: pen and paper) method of recording/ updating information, teachers will invariably be forced to use the computerised versions of said methods. Never mind that computers and servers are known to ‘go down’ every once in a while (or every once in a short while if the system is a Microsoft product) and all that has been entered will be lost and there will be much gnashing of teacherly teeth; never mind that the pen is sometimes faster than the two-fingered typing of some teachers (because we teachers have so much time on our hands, we need something like this to slow us down); never mind that when 20,000 teachers in Singapore log on to the same server at the same time (usually when the results of exams, which take place at about the same time in every school in Singapore, need to be keyed in after said exams have been administered to 125,000 students, marked and returned), the server usually finds it most opportune to have its latest breakdown.

We use Powerpoint (or Keynote) not because it’s the most effective way to teach students, but because it becomes part of the 30% of curriculum time that must be devoted to the use of IT. Who cares if it actually takes some teachers longer to create the presentation than the presentation itself?

At my old school, teachers had to enter marks of students over and over again because the various programmes simply refused to allow for all the different permutations of academic recording. In the end, these same teachers ended up making their own calculations on their trusty old calculators and then entering the final marks into the system.

Which usually promptly screws them up. Then, it’s rinse and repeat time.

Why? All for the sake of technology. Not technology that helps us and aids us in reducing time spent on everything else so that we can focus on teaching, but for technology that looks good on someone’s resume (“conceptualised and created system for calculating marks for students on all levels”).

And that’s what TFTS is.

[Steps off soapbox]

So today, I got an email from my ISP. It’s my online bill. Right. No problem. I’ll click on the handy link they’ve included in the bill. At the same time, I’ll just log onto my internet banking account and get ready to transfer the bill amount to the relevant people.


After one hour of trying, this was the end product:


To whom it may concern:

I would like to revert to the old-tech way of receiving the hardcopy of my bill invoices please. Since I'd converted to receiving the bill online, I've, in fact, not received a bill online and not seen a bill at all until the good folks at Pacific Internet send me a nasty reminder telling me that I've been remiss in my payment.

However, before you next do that, please note the following:

1. The links to my bill information on the bill reminder emails that you send me are always broken. I've been getting nothing but HTTP 404 Errors since I'd started using this service.

2. If I try the manual method (ie, through the Pacific Internet homepage), the page never loads. All I get is a query on the browser about whether or not I wish to load a page with both secure and unsecure items, and when I click 'yes', it stops loading and nothing appears. Even after half an hour.

3. I was under the misguided impression that ‘receiving my bills though [my] email’ meant ‘receiving my bills through [my] email’. Apparently your definition is for customers to receive a bill invoice reminder and then to log in onto your homepage in order to see the actual bill. I can’t see how this is ‘more convenient than receiving [my] invoices through the mail’. Unless, of course, you meant ‘convenience for yourself’.

I thought to save the environment by having you print as few paper invoices as possible, but it appears that I was stupid and wrong to have done so. So please, I'd like to start receiving my invoices, as hardcopies, through the mail again from this day on.

Thank you.


What a bloody waste of time.

Sudden-Death Overtime

Well, that's it. The Canucks are out of the running for the Stanley Cup.

Which means we won't be watching a live match anytime soon ('anytime soon' being when we're in Vancouver in June). I guess there's always the 'live' games on TV. It also means that I can start supporting the Detroit Red Wings, without fear of them being ousted by the Canucks on the way to the Cup Finals for the sake of the experience of a live match at GM Place.

When a door shuts...


Gave in to Pragmatism and had a haircut yesterday. The 34˚C was beginning to get to me. So now I'm back to pre-resignation-length hair, which is only that much cooler.

It day began with some promise. I'd spotted dark clouds over most of the east, but it's 2 pm now and there's nary a hint of a reprieve from the heavens. The wife asked me last night if we'd ever hit 34˚C when we were younger; I had to reply in the negative. The highest we'd reached was about 32˚C (or barely clearing 33˚C on really bad days). Never 34˚C.

34˚C was why we were glad we didn't live in Bangkok.

Everywhere in Singapore, Geography teachers are scrambling about trying to explain to their students why we're not getting convectional rain despite the heat and the extreme humidity.

Monday, April 19, 2004


The Canucks are still in it!

After 102:28 minutes of play, in sudden-death triple overtime, they finally put one in to send the series into a Game 7 back in Vancouver. True, they gave up 4-0 lead during regulation time; also true, they'd probably be too tired once the semi-final series begins and facing a fresh San Jose Sharks who have had several more days of rest; but they're the Canucks. Like Manchester United, they are exciting and frustrating to watch, in equal measures.


In other news, overheard during lunch:

"But it's three hours! What am I going to be doing during that time?"


"Which one?"

"'Bitch,' the verb. Not the noun."


Friday, April 16, 2004

Hot Under the Collar

Posted new photos on my Fotolog* today for the first time in a month. Just haven’t been doing any of my own things lately, and while that’s been paying for all of my expenses and purchases from Amazon, it’s not given me the same level of satisfaction I would have gotten otherwise.

But the satisfaction is there nonetheless. I am doing my own thing. While I may not be earning as much as I would have had I stayed in teaching and staying on as HOD, it’s enough to get by (and to pay for a vacation to Vancouver this June, thank you very much).

And there’s so much more freedom to savour.

Starting Thursday, I placed myself on a floating time-table. I went in only at half-past 8 and worked my requisite 5.5 hours to get the full rate. Today, it was half-ten when I got in and I still managed my quota.

A far cry from my last year of teaching and my first period on Thursdays was at 2.15 pm. In a school that didn’t allow teachers to pass their free time in the staff room logging on to online crossword puzzle sites, it. Was. Hell. Because that would be bad for morale. Or so sayeth TPTB. Right. Because other teachers cannot manage their time properly and therefore end up marking/preparing/meeting all the time, I am being punished for being too efficient? You’ve finished your work? How can that be?

Why don’t you patrol the corridors more? Uh, right.


Speaking of administrators.

Pop quiz:

You’re an administrator (and I say it like it is a bad thing). One of the people you’re supervising is pregnant and has been on MCs, on and off, for a period of time. Do you:

a. because you are also a mother of kids, fully support the employee’s choice to have kids and understand that the body isn’t quite what it usually is and not give her too much grief about it; or

b. tell her that she’s ‘only pregnant’ and that pregnancy is ‘not a disease’ and that if she gets too many more MCs between now and the popping of the kid, she wouldn’t get a good grade come performance bonus time and she may not get promoted in the short term. Hell, I might just terminate your contract. That'll teach you to spread your legs so easily next time.

Hmmm. If I were an administrator, which would I choose?


Weather is still bad. I was sitting under one of those industrial-strength chrome fans and all I got was a hint of a breeze every once in a while.

Not good.

Gone are the days when I could wear three layers of shirts to school and not complain.


Well, so much for the possibility of watching a hockey when we’re in Canada. The Vancouver Canucks are now trailing the Calgary Flames 3-2 in their quarterfinals series.

Dang! There goes the cultural programme for the trip.


* From the trip to Sedili over the Easter Weekend. And for the people who are keeping track, my teeth are better now. Thanks.

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Woeful Weather

It was only two days ago when, after a whole day of taking photos at the college for their yearbook, I got home and, when I removed my T-shirt (yes, not even a button down, long-sleeved shirt) in the relative aridness of my living room, my torso looked fairly reminiscent of the times after I had run the 2.4 km for my annual IPPTs and other assorted incidences of manly exercise. To be sure, I stood in front of the full-length mirror in the bedroom and noted the steam rising from around my head and shoulders.

All this from just walking from where the cab dropped me off at the foot of my block to the flat, a mere four minutes, most of which was spent in the cool dimness of the lift.

Things didn't improve yesterday and it looks even less likely to happen today. And it isn't even the hot season yet! Told Sprite immediately after this morning's shoots: it's too damned early to be so stinky already.

So looking forward to summer in Vancouver -- glorious sunshine, without the goddamned humidity.


Today's the last day of the exhibition, so everyone from Shooting Home 2004 will be meeting today to take down our prints and to have a little post-exhibition party.

Monday, April 12, 2004

D is for Dentist

Which is what I'll need soon.

It wasn't the best trip for X, whose repair bills just hit a new plateau: a blown tire (a Simex Centipede no less, one of those big-assed, heavy-duty ones that, when fitted on a normal car going at about 40 kph on normal asphalt roads, has the ability to replicate the sound of an M113 going at full throttle); one rim that got completely warped from the explosion of air from the aforementioned blown-tyre; a leaky radiator (from the car sitting on it for too long) that had us worried for the drive back to Singapore; and paint jobs for the bumper on the front-right side and the gash along the driver side body.

And not the best trip for me, for feeling the brunt of the blast from said tyre, which happened to have been directly under my left foot at that time. It felt like we ran into the brick wall. By noon the next day, while running about the car to attach, detach, and re-attach the tow cable, I was feeling my every step in the canines of the upper set and the premolars of the lower set.

Not that we didn't enjoy the trip.

It. Was. Kick-ass. To say the least. There were leech sightings (three confirmed bites, on and around the region of my toes), lots of mud, a couple of river crossings, difficult bridge crossings and enough obstacles to ensure that X had to check every once in a while to see if his testicles were still attached to his undersides. (I had it easy; I was only the co-driver and official photographer for X's 'Faces of Fear'. Hell, I don't own the car, though it would have been interesting trying to find alternative passage back to Singapore if anything had happened to the Freelander.) Everything I could have hoped for in an expedition like this.

Still, the deal with the teeth is a bit irritating. I'm giving myself one week for them to recover from being pounded into my jaw bones before I bite the bullet and go see my dentist.



On another note, Sprite is no longer The Languishing Cat.

The Cat, as Sprite puts it, has been put to rest.

The wesbite is no more because some people had too high an opinion of themselves (ie, everything had to be about them) and took everything said on her blog (stress on the word, 'her') a little too personally.

Again, let me reiterate: teachers don't talk about you all the time. We have lives outside of teaching that do not involve dealing with angsty minors. Frankly, we'd rather talk about our lives. You think life is shitty when you're a teen? Wait til you hit our age. If it sounds too a little familiar, a little too much like your life, it's because, believe it or not, teenagers, for all their wanting to be identified as individuals, are too fucking alike. You have a problem with authority? You want to rebel? You want to express your uniqueness? You want to bemoan that the world isn't fair and doesn't care and that everyone is against you? You are depressed, stressed and about to go postal? You are shocked that teachers will refer to students as 'damned kids'? Well, take a number and get in line. Jee-zus.

Anyway, that blog is no more. Sprite and the rest of us will just have to stay in touch with each other the old fashioned way: over good company and strong drink.

Which is the better way, IMHO, anyway.

Sunday, April 11, 2004

Good Friday, Bad Singaporeans

On the way to Sedili for the off-road trip, X and I were stuck in a jam which started about 2 km away from the Sultan Abu Bakar Immgration Complex at the Second Link (we'd crossed the bridge and all, so technically we were on Malaysian soil even though they don't know we're there yet).

So, in the 2 hours we were trapped there, inching forward one car length at a time, what do I see? Oh, only about 150 vehicles using the road shoulder to get ahead of the queue. And of the 150, easily 92% were Singapore-registered vehicles. Of course there were Malaysian vehicles doing the same thing, but they could be counted on one hand: 1 BMW X5, a couple of Wiras, and assorted tourist buses and goods trailers. But the majority?


More specifically, Singaporeans travelling in the following vehicles: SBT3200R, SFA5704T, XB7518H, SDU5645Z, SBQ9885R, SDW8188X, SBV6741K, SDY3347B, SDX4456T, SDW6926X, SBJ3375Y, SDX418E, SDY5529E, SDJ5944T, SCH1720X, SFD9334K, SCL8583H, SFE5950C, SDL4965D, SCY3083Z, SDN9998R, SDW3762X, SDQ6984J, SBR712K, SDW1692C, SCK9671K, SDE6064C, SCJ2449M, SFA5611C, SDV8143E, SCH2805D, SCH1165R, SCR2324Y, SDK2385X, SBG4286E, SDK7449M, SDK3618T, SFC9093K, SDK8428S, SDK4227G, SDL5977M, EF2882S, SCV6277C, SDN4247H, SDJ2393C, SDF8993C, SCN7910B, SDF3448T, SDL376E, SFH2222A, SDD399G, SDB5789S, SBJ4992J, SDL1462Y, SFE1036T, SDH660E, SDP3241U, SDU3894J, SDK2009H, SDB4712U, SFF30K, SDW2126P, SCL90R, SDV3163E, SCY4745R, SCK3809X, SCH26Z, SBU7804S, SBY8135U, SDU1608H, SBT1288B, SDT4055M, SDT1567B, SFG9065X, SDE9151P, SDS9785L, SFB6045A (ah this one -- where others may be forgiven for not realising they were travelling on the road shoulder, this guy clearly knows what he's doing because he zips in and out of the shoulder later on as well -- I've got photos), SDH1072X, SDJ827G, SCU7272P, SBV5410C, SCL1567B, EW911R (no prizes for guessing what car this is. I swear, it must give a lot of people thrills of the wet dreams sort to have a faux-vanity plate that reflects the car they drive -- which is to say, they're kinda sad and unimaginative, really), SFA9793J, SDT1747U, ER6770S, SDM8633E, SDU2118Z, GM8795K, SDL1350Y, SFG284P, SDF4219G, SDP2140J, SBU4532X, SCL1444Y, SDJ5078T, SDW7953K, SDS1551Y, SCW9118D, SDW7386Y, SDM3659P, XB7524P, SFB2347E, ER2222J, EZ77H, SDW3578L, SDD9856U, SCX2968H, SDH5949T, SBE6565Y, SCK8893T, SCH4114P, SDT5201E, SBV3293L, SBT3983P, SDJ1385H, GV3910E, SCU2567Y, SCZ9099J, SBC9450K, SCY6932D, SDK3178X, SDH3885D, SDL4905C, SCR9070H and SCX6699H.

In the moment of boredom and pure inspiration I decided to take pictures of their transgressions. So if there are any Malaysian Traffic Police Department/Bureau people (or people who know such people) reading this, I'm willing to sell you the photos for, say, 5% of the fines accrued from these vehicles. I couldn't take all the photos of the cars that passed me (some had problems of their own, what with assholes tailgating them), but those I did (which is all of the cars listed above) will tell you date, and time, of offence as well (ah, the wonders of digital technology). For that, and for pictures taken from a 6.9 megapixel camera, you know that 5% is really very good value.

Don't think of it as a 'fuck-you' to all those dicks, dickettes and their parents who didn't learn (or teach them) to observe orderly queues in disorderly situations, but as my small way of improving relations between Singapore and Malaysia. And to make a little money while doing it as well.

Be hearing from you.

Thursday, April 08, 2004

Are We On About This Again?

This was in the Forum Pages of the Straits Times today.

And since the Interactive Straits Times doesn't believe in archives of news older than four days, I'll put some of the pertinent points of this 'article' here:



HDB designs and installs its windows according to the prevailing industry standard for windows set by Spring Singapore. The standard concerned is the Singapore Standard SS 212 entitled 'Specifications for Aluminium Alloy Window'. Clause 4.5 of SS 212: 1988, which was cited by the writer, specifically allowed the use of either aluminium or stainless-steel fasteners, such as screws and rivets, to install windows.

In the preparation of the standard, reference was also made to prevailing international standards such as the British Standard BS 4873 set in 1986 and the New Zealand Standard NZ 3504 set in 1979. Both these standards allowed the use of either stainless-steel or aluminium fasteners.

The use of aluminium rivets by HDB for installing windows had therefore complied fully with the prevailing industry standard, not just in Singapore but also internationally. There is therefore no design deficiency on the part of HDB.


While stainless-steel rivets are generally more corrosion-resistant than aluminium ones, it does not mean that aluminium rivets are inherently unsafe or that stainless-steel ones will last forever. Windows fitted with aluminium rivets are safe if flat-owners maintain them regularly, e.g. by replacing corroded or missing rivets. Stainless-steel rivets can still corrode after exposure to the elements and become unsafe over time.

Under the terms of the lease, HDB flat-owners are responsible for maintaining their windows in good working condition. Nevertheless, to improve the safety of their windows, HDB will co-share half of the cost of replacing the aluminium rivets with stainless-steel ones for HDB-installed windows, on a goodwill basis.

No, no design deficiency on the part of the provider of public housing in Singapore. Only confirmation of what I'd said in my previous post on the subject, you made the cheap choice. Because, gasp!, the standards quoted allowed the use of stainless steel fasteners on windows, but the choice was aluminium anyway.

And for that, we are now paying for half of the replacement costs of said rivets, as a goodwill gesture, and not the full price? Wow. Is that supposed to make me happy?

What gets me? In the same article, the civil service stooge says: Windows are subject to constant wear and tear. The lifespan of a window depends on several factors - its design and material, and regular and proper maintenance and repair.

Uh, right: We want our windows to last, so we choose the material that's less-durable and more subject to corrosion, and when things start falling apart, we'll show our goodwill by footing half the bill?


I think people would be complaining less if the rivets were stainless steel to begin with (we didn't have a say in the materials that go into the building of our flats in the first place -- trust was implicit in that the 'proper authorities' would make the right decisions and choose the best materials). Then, when you slap someone with [half] a bill to replace wonky rivets, she doesn't get to complain about it because you'd already used the stronger material to begin with.

Again, boys and girls, let's Live. With. It.

Corporate Make-over, Anyone?

Companies which are in need of a name change:

1. Tanishq Jewellery

2. Morpheus Creative Communications

3. Powergenitalia

I shit you not. These are real companies. Granted, the first one isn't an English word and probably means something deep and meaningful, but in this age of globalisation?

Anyway, the last one came from that latest SNE 98 by mrbrown. Apparently the parent company is called PowerGen, and the website I'd linked is for the Italian subsidiary, ergo powergenitalia.

Wednesday, April 07, 2004


Today I start writing my obituary.

No, no, nothing wrong with me (that I know of anyway). Not about to keel over from an incurable disease or something. At least not yet. And definitely not when I have a few packages from Amazon still on their way to me.

No, just an exercise in reverse engineering. Something for me to aim for for the duration of my time left. Might do me a world of good by lifting me off my ass and propelling me towards some lofty goals. I might as well leave my mark on the world now, seeing that I remain planted firmly in my agnosticism and will probably burn in hell for my rebellion.

I’ve given myself until the end of this week to do it. Seems appropriate, it being Holy Week, Easter and all.

Once in a while, I take a turn for the morbid.

Tuesday, April 06, 2004


[I would have updated earlier (I did, in fact, write a couple of entries) but for the missus's computer crashing whenever I get into the swing of the writing. Which pisses me off, of course. So there are two entries that won't be aired for a while.]

So I went back to the college today after my own MC to find out that I've been made redundant as far as teaching is concerned. The tutor whom I was supposed to be subbing wasn't going to be on a month-long MC as initially planned, but has returned to the fold.

Which means I can focus on photography rather than teaching. Yay me; tomorrow I get to wear whatever I want when I report in the morning.


Car SDF 1945 M. GREEN VOLVO SDF 1945 M? Are you listening?

You do not go through a zebra crossing at 70 kph. You do not ignore your front seat passenger who was gesticulating wildly at a person (me!) crossing the road right in front of you. And you certainly do not deserve to be let anywhere near a goddamned car, you fucking misbegotten son of a motherless whoremonger.


Saturday, April 03, 2004

Taking a Break

An enforced one though.

Been under the weather since Wednesday and this morning, the fit hit the shan. Woke up with a throbbing headache and sinuses and a throat so congested, it took me several minutes to try to clear them.

The doctor's verdict? A sinus infection.

So I'm laid out for the while I think.

Friday, April 02, 2004

Things to do when you can't sleep at night...


What LoTR Character Are You?

You are most like Aragorn. You have strong convictions and you stick to them. Although you are more of a recluse, you are extremely loyal to the few friends that you have. You are very serious about things, but you like having fun. Fame and fortune mean little to you, and you aren't concerned with being popular. Good for you!

Oh well, could have been worse. Could have been Arwen.

Thursday, April 01, 2004

More Ugly Singaporeans

It seems like once I left the relatively-cloistered environs of a school, I'm getting to witness more and more scenes of Ugly Singaporeans. Take today for example:

I met Wes at O'Brien's at City Link Mall for a quick bite. He had just gone to the SH2004 exhibition and I was on my way to the National Library. Before he arrived, a hatchet-faced, pinched-voice woman in the queue in front of me got into a little something with the serving staff.

Apparently she'd ordered a Chicken Caesar Salad. But, could the server please add a serving of tuna to it as well? [Note that tuna is not an item that's usually found on an O'Brien's CCS.]

Sure, but it'll cost another dollar.

Oh, she says, and then taking all of the next five minutes to consider
(of course I'm exaggerating, it was only four minutes. Bear in mind, there were other people in the line, including her lunch companion), how about you give me half-a-serving of chicken and half-a-serving of tuna?

Um, no, I can't do that. Even if I did, it'll still be a dollar.

Her voice shriller now: I'm sure you can.

Says the server-who-doesn't-make-the-rules-and-doesn't-really-get-paid-to-do-so-and-REALLY-shouldn't-give-a-damn, really, I can't.

But it's only a half serving of each. You're being unreasonable. I'm already paying one dollar for the chicken. Can't it be fifty cents for the chicken and fifty cents for the tuna?

I'm sorry, ma'am.

[Grudgingly] Fine. Give me the chicken only.

And people in the queue rejoiced. Then...

I don't want salad cream with that.

Uh, I've already put it in.

No, really. I don't want salad cream with my salad. Throw that away.

End result? Poor server had to toss the salad (no pun intended) and make a new one. And in the time it took the server to make the new salad, the witch was complaining loudly to her friend about the bad service in the outlet.

Sorry, you're getting no sympathy from me. And you know what lady? How about looking at it this way: the chicken and tuna servings are fifty cents each, the extra dollar is for the crap you just put everyone through. I mean, seriously, and the part about the salad cream? That could have been mentioned a lot earlier. Like, when you first ordered?

Someone told me recently the best way to see a person's true character is how she treats people who are in a subservient position (wait staff, counter staff, service providers, etc, ie, people who have to deal with you and be nice, no matter what) because you can never tell if she's genuinely nice when she's dealing her superiors or if she's just sucking up to them.

Words to live by, I think.


To the National Library at Stamford Road: goodbye old friend, and thanks for the memories.