terse & at large

GRRRRR. Arrrgh. And sometimes a travel log.

Monday, July 31, 2006


I lost my mobile phone today. Yeah, the one I've been complaining about to everyone who still cares to listen. The one that doesn't take photos when it's supposed to because somehow 'the phone's memory is full; please close some applications before trying again.' The one whose buttons don't work all the time. And the one with the really, really unintuitive interface.

Truth be told, good riddance.

But to be more accurate, some wanker walked away with it. At a shoot. While I was talking to the design director and my assistant was talking with the client - all of us within a hop, step and jump away from spotting the culprits. In the middle of a busy atrium, with other witnesses within 2 metres of the crime scene.

And I'm pissed.

For the audacity. For more than that, for the mindset that everything left unattended (even momentarily - it was a split-second thing) is up for grabs. For thinking [wrongly] that it would be worth less of a hassle to have the phone replaced than to go through making a police report.

Well, here's the news. I didn't let it go when someone walked into the guardroom during my NS days and made off with the bus stamp from my concession pass and I'm sure as hell not letting it go when, what happened today, happened in front of witnesses and no less than three CCTVs in the area.

So, yeah, wanker. The both of you. I coming for you. I'm not letting it go. And for something I don't really care about anymore...

Think about that.


In the meantime, meet my new phone.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

The Smell of Dust

Every time I go to the Wrench, I start thinking about the good ol' days when I'll come back to my room in the students' residence smelling of the road and motorcycle oil.

So, here's the choice:

The Harley-Davidson VRSCAW, or

the BMW R1200C Montauk.

Decisions, decisions.

(Images taken off their respective websites.)

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Conversations with the Choo's

Or Chu's, or Chew's, whichever way you spell it, and depending on the dialect group you belong to.

So I'm told that there's a hearing problem that runs in that blood, by one of them, no less. In less than half an hour at the nasi lemak place down the street from where the movie's being edited, I got some pretty good gems:

Example One

Chu: "So here we are, like Jay and Silent Bob..."

Choo: "Gays in Singapore?!"

Example Two:

Choo: "I ate so much for dinner, my back hurts."

Chu: "You're pregnant?!"

Example Three:

Laser (not a Choo): "S is going to train in Thailand for three months."

Choo: "S is going to Tel Aviv to train?!"

Example Four:

When asked whether she'd be at the concert tomorrow:

Choo: "I'm backstage."

Chu: "Your back itch?"

Much eye-rolling.


There isn't an image available because my mobile phonecam decided to crap out on me*, but SDN 8333 R, I don't see a handicap decal on your car, so why are you parked in the lot reserved for handicapped people?

Tsk. Tsk.

* Which is just as well my plan for this phone ends in about a month's time. 30 days to go before I get to fling it against a hard object because it's seriously not up to the usual standards of a Nokia anymore.

... Splutter!

It isn't every day that someone who looks like a female version of Hurley from Lost comes up to me at the front of the taxi queue outside the Peninsula Plaza mall, after having gone through the four people behind me to ask for $2 for a bus ride, to give me my time in her limelight and ask for the same $2.

I have ears. I heard the begging already. So I waved her off mid-sentence. Waved and gave a curt shake of my head.

Then as she walks away, she tells me, "You're selfish."

Unfortunately, the quickest comeback I could think of at that moment was, "You're lazy."

Which, technically, isn't true, seeing that she's been spotted by other friends in the same area before, doing the same thing. There's something Protestant about her work ethic in that sense.

She didn't hear or didn't care to respond. The guy behind me just chimed in with, "You're stupid."

And then there was the whole commiseration with everyone in the queue. Quite fun actually, but by then she's moved on to bother other people in the area.

Four Million Smiles


Here ya go. Just repeat, ad nauseum.

Now, if we had something to really smile about...

Imagine if you would...

You see a van with the religious organisation it's affiliated to printed in big, bold letters (and Chinese characters) pull up to the kerb in front of you. It is 11:47 in the morning and it's perhaps after a mid-week service and the religious organisation is perhaps providing a service, returning elderly parishioners to their residences. There are five women in the van: one, the driver, looks to be in her late-thirties or forties; the other, the front seat passenger is perhaps in her twenties. There are three elderly ladies in the back and one of them has just opened the sliding door to the rear section of the van. Another, in a floral sun dress, attempts to alight from the van, but since she is elderly, she has some difficulty. In the end, she gets down into a sitting position and then inches herself out of the van on her buttocks, which isn't the easiest of exercises because for starters, she is in a dress and in case anyone's forgotten, she is elderly, assisted somewhat in vain by the other two ladies in the rear section. It takes a while, during which I make a move to ask if she needed my help. (It is declined.) In the meantime, the two younger women in the front of the van remain in their places - the driver, perhaps unable to move because her door opens into rather heavy traffic at that moment; the younger, intent on her mobile phone. SMSing.

What is wrong with this picture?

Monday, July 24, 2006


Now that they have additional categories:

Create Your Own Visited Country Map
or Write About It On The Open Travel Guide

Episode Four


It's out.

Go. Now.

(Website here. Flash 8 required.)

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Wah Lau Eh!

OK, there are some days I wonder why I married the missus especially when I'm half-drunk (actually, mostly drunk, and trying to get bored enough by web content so that I can fall asleep) and I come across her blog and realised she tagged me.


So much for 'to honour and to hold' or whatever it was I said seven years ago... How about to OBEY!, woman? Sigh. But I still love you, babe.

So, to respond to her meme, started by the asshat (yeah, dude, if you can start an MSN conversation with that, so can I) himself:

1. I'd rather be a Rockstar than an American Idol (reality music shows).

2. I'd rather be getting bugs in my mouth than bugs on my windscreen (road trip vehicles of choice).

3. I'd rather be in Canada than anywhere else in the first world (or supposed 'first world' countries) (countries of residence).

4. I'd rather be teaching photography than teaching (no offense to the students from my first batch who've finally discovered my blog, but seriously, you guys were the best I've had - apart from my first two NCC batches, now men) (teaching. Bah!)

5. I'd rather be taking trains than flying (travel transportation of choice).



This asshat meme goes to:

1. The Tourist

2. Staff Caffeine

3. Kitschy Gal Who Never Comes For Drinks and ROCK Anymore

4. Running Boy

5. Bee!

Because some are new to the blogosphere and my blogroll, some don't write about anything other than running (dude!) anymore and some, I haven't seen in a while and I know I won't get ganked by her.

There Are People Who Go, People Who Stay

Damn it, man. Too soon. Not even had the chance go visit you and talk about quitting and staying yet.

I'll see you when I can. I'll buy you a drink.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Life As It Is

Or was.

As an addendum to my previous post:

Took more a few cabs between July 10 and now, and there's been an increase of $3 per trip across the board (before the prime time surcharge and booking fees - not that I've done any booking since Black Monday). Waiting at the traffic intersection at Suntec saw my meter jump from $8.10 to $8.60 by the time I got to the right turn into Raffles Road. Cabbies seem more willing to cross under ERP gantries whenever possible. If I book a cab during peak hours, I can expect my fare to be $8.50 before I even move off.

And still, we can't find any of them between 10.30 pm and midnight.

Ah, progress.

Well, I guess it is good for me. Economic planners forget about the ripple effect this has on everyone in the country: taxi fares go up, then people switch to other forms of public (to use the term very, very loosely) transport; cabbies complain about having not enough to cover their rental; somewhere along the line, the bus and train companies decide that 'it's been a while since we had a hike, so let's do it'; coffee shops charge more for their coffee; we get another Progress Package payout which is, in effect, a proactive thing rather than a reactive thing (because we're getting the money that will pay for something else down the road - the old Army song comes to mind: 'the Army pays us $100, they take back ninety-nine - I'll be sure to be looking at future payouts with a lot of suspicion from now on). And all the while interest rates on this island haven't changed in the last twenty years.

As for me, I'm just glad I get to charge my clients more for transportation (by about 150% to be exact - 200% if my client happens to be the one to blame for this).

Ah, progress.


Two Thursdays I've been at Walas to catch the band and both times, there've been a marked difference in the crowd. Previously I had to go there by 8.30 or risk not getting a table, now, if I come at 9.10 there's still a number of tables available (and I don't have to listen to Noisy Guy too). Queues are shorter, or non-existent.

And the reaction of the crowd? D. E. D. Dead. We're talking Code Blue dead here. People who stare at the band and doing pretty much nothing else - except maybe to talk loudly during the set and to laugh even louder at crass jokes.

Where's the follow-up report I've been waiting for? No boring World Cup matches played between boring World Cup teams to blame this time, but people aren't coming back to pubs and nightspots.

So, let me get this straight: you want people to stop smoking. Along the way, you make businesses stop allowing smoking in some areas. They lose business. Nobody comes to a pub (it's a fucking pub - smoking, drinking, carousing, whoring!* is expected in pubs) where they can't smoke. It's not hedonistic. So why the fuck? Anyway, to continue, smoking continues in designated areas, where, in between sets, people will congregate, so again, why the fuck?

Are you trying to make people quit smoking, or are you milking every bit of profit from businesses because they allow smoking, otherwise their licenses will be revoked, like a very bad Timothy Dalton James Bond?

* Aw, please. Grow up. Nobody goes to a pub otherwise. Also, what are our beloved foreign talent to do if they feel bored at pubs?

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Private Number

It must really suck to be urgently trying to get in touch with someone, but because you have an unlisted number and I, for various reasons (I was asleep for the first call, in the shower for the second, and dealing with an unresponsive button for the third) wasn't able to pick up or to call you back.

And all because you don't want to be star sixty-nined.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006


How many times must an end-days preacher get the date of the End of the World wrong before we can start calling him/ her a false prophet or false teacher?

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Movie to Catch

Awesome stuff.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Quitting and Staying - Revisited

It's been a while since I've said anything about reasons why I wouldn't want to remain in this country for too long - over 2 years, to be just a little more precise. It's been the missus who's been doing the bulk of it, most recently with this one.

So here we go again:

It's been untenable for a long time now; thinking about staying here and then retiring at 62, with the piddly amount of CPF savings I have so far to last until someone puts me in an urn and entombs that somewhere. Hell, I don't even know if there's going to be enough space for that when it's my time.

The whole mrbrown (his name is Lee Kin Mun, by the way - which everyone knows, so I don't get it) situation really got me thinking. The dude lives and breathes responsible blogging and writing. Said so in no uncertain terms during Blogger.SG last year. Got to be able to substantiate what you say, got to have it stand up to scrutiny. Do I believe there's a problem of rising costs in Singapore? Does my spending power go as far as it used to? Do our salaries increase with inflation?

Well, let's see. A meal at a coffee shop now costs about $5 to $8. Taxi fares to Parkway Parade used to be $5.20, now it's $6.20, before today's price hike; I'm not even going to talk about the trips down to town or, g.o.d. forbid, somewhere in the West. I'm in debt for the next 23 years because we took a loan for our flat (I wouldn't even deign to call it a home, because heck, it doesn't belong to me - I'm only on a 99-year lease and 20 of it is gone already. How many housing estates are there older than 30 years?), because public housing really is that expensive here. Do I feel any compunction to really do it up, make it our home? No, seeing that at any point in time, someone's going to knock on my door and tell me: "Congratulations! Your estate's getting upgraded. Pay us $20,000 for the lifts that stop on every floor and cosmetic additions to the facade. In the meantime, get the fuck out." (Well, it better be soon - because if it happens after I retire, it'll suck balls. But I'd rather take my money and go elsewhere now.)

At the end of the day, it's purely empirical I know. I don't have teams of [foreign] consultants working out the scientific aspects of this, but I know what I know.

There is very big difference between being apathetic and being scared shitless. One's "I don't know and I don't care"; the other's "I'm not saying anything because I don't want trouble for me and mine." Seems like people who are earning big bucks should know that. Do I feel I have some form of recourse? I probably do, but do I want to say anything? Probably not. Life's difficult as it is already.

So, when the good Doctor says:

"If you feel there is a problem with cost of living, say so, let's collectively explore solutions. But don't in the name of humour distort or aggravate on an emotional level. That sort of discourse does not generate solutions. It generates more heat than light.

"So we should put this in its proper context. If someone says something which we disagree with, we will say so. If someone says something which is unhelpful we have a right to say it is unhelpful. We have a right to remind everyone that at the end of the day, this is not a fight."

I think about that shot across the bow. And the suspension. And then, this.

It's a great signal to send. To me, it says lay low, hunker down, ride it out. As it always has.

But, sir, it is an emotional thing when people talk about supporting their families, when they see opportunities slip them or their children by. We can't all be pragmatic when we see our savings whittle away to barely survivable levels with every passing month. It's not about generating problems, that ship's sailed: the problem of a rising cost of living is clear and it is present. If this is a preamble to discussion and the collective exploration of a solution, then so far, it doesn't look like anyone's getting to speak out about anything because we're all hiding now.

On the other hand, that issue's out in the open. So I shall wait and see if something's done about it. And more closely to what'll be done about it.

Do I have a stake in this country I was born and raised in? Maybe just a splinter, when I get the opportunity to vote, which is as rare as England doing well in a World Cup. Is what I have to say important? Probably not. What would I know? I leave such things to the people who are paid to do so, as I always have.

I recited the pledge every morning, even when I'm no longer a student but a teacher. I served my National Service. I worked here from the time I graduated ten years ago, giving up whatever opportunities and offers to work in Canada because I thought I'd better do something here. First. Repayment and all that. I tell a survey taker that I'd willingly don my uniform and fight if Singapore's ever in trouble. I consider myself as patriotic as the next guy.

But when I don't have a voice or no one who has that voice can speak for me, I wonder.

So, quitting or staying? On the one hand, this is the country of my birth. My friends and family are here. My life is here. I am Singaporean. Or so it says in my passport and identification card. On the other hand, with what the missus and I have now we can live comfortably in another country for years, not months. Taxes are high, but it all comes back when you retire. But is taxation really an issue? Taxes pay for roads, schools, airports and every other bit of comfort we would expect in a developed country. Pragmatism, ingrained in us from the first day we step into a school here, tells us to leave. Because it's the emotional that's making us stay. And only the emotional. We won't have a say in the policies of other countries? Well, we don't have a say in domestic policies anyway (or rather, we're allowed a show of grave indignation, full of sound and fury, but plans go ahead despite that because we 'don't understand the global economy'), and I haven't voted for three elections. Not much of a difference. So why?

People grumble about things all the time. That has to be accepted as part of running a country. In a democracy, no one's ever going to have the entire population of the country agreeing with the policies of the government. The difference is in the handling of differing opinions. It takes a certain level of arrogance to dismiss these rumblings, broad-brushing them even, as unconstructive and cynical. Highly emotive, unhelpful. And when the only people who are in any of position to effect changes to quell these rumblings do so with warnings, threats of litigation, police action, it tells me there is no reason to want to say anything at all because their minds are made up.

This is the new economy. We teach creativity in schools so that our young will be prepared to face a new world of opportunities. But it's been forgotten that creativity comes from questioning authority (not just people in charge, but hypotheses and formulae that have existed for years), finding out things for ourselves, having an opinion, to challenge what has been done before and to do them differently. If our opinions are to be censored, why bother teaching the schoolkids they must think for themselves and accept only what they have proven through interrogation and exploration? If opinions are going to met with hostility then why bother making them at all?

Yes, there is a greater responsibility for journalists and columnists to make sure that what they write, because it goes out to the hoi polloi, isn't going to incite a riot somewhere (but, truth be told, what are the chances of that?). But is mrbrown saying something that someone else in the country isn't feeling as well? Well, I'm feeling the pinch. I see the rewards from my efforts on jobs evaporate quicker than I expect them to. Do I feel fed up? Perhaps, but then again, I've also learnt to 'cope'.

And it is a bad, bad thing. Coping doesn't advance a person's way of thinking, I'm not even sure it does anything for thinking. All it does is to numb the effects, walk me through the day in a resigned, dazed state of mind and I have learnt to ignore things that are important to me. Things I feel are necessary for a country I still feel an iota of patriotism to. But the heartbreak of being a teacher has taught me one thing: I may have joined the system so that I can change it, because education is the great equaliser (next to death) of every single living human being, but if the system doesn't want to be changed or if I feel that it is moving in a direction that is abhorrent to me and every other person who actually joined the profession for noble reasons, well...

Does this make me want to quit? Run away? To where the grass is greener? Where it's always greener?

Perhaps not greener, but at least we have a choice in the matter. Maybe I want grass that's slightly brown from the heat of the sun. Maybe I'll have that grass in the shade of that tree. And the farmer isn't around all the time to use an electric cattleprod on my ass every time I wander far from where I'm supposed to be. And once in a while, I tell the farmer he's doing a good job, or a shitty one because I can.

Still quitting?


'If you care too much about Singapore, first it'll break your spirit, and finally it will break your heart.' Alfian Sa'at

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Cause. Effect.

Really? Is this the real reason?

I. Don't. Think. So.

Funny how there wasn't anything about questioning these owners whether or not it changed after 1 July...

Friday, July 07, 2006

Get Yer Tix! Now!

To this. I already have.

As an occupational hazard, though, I got to say that the picture of Shirlyn on the Sistic website isn't quite flattering (as much as it's flattening):

Clearly, when some people try to force a 4:3 ratio image into a 3:2 ratio web picture, they're too lazy to make anyone look good.


But I'll still be there on the 28th.


I wonder what's worse: having your new bar of soap smell vaguely like Robutussin or having a cough drop smell vaguely like a bar of soap...


Random things: this.


And in other news: Episode Three is ready and out.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Normal Wear and Tear?

I don't think so.

So apparently the cards issued by a bank hasn't undergone any change from the time I got my first credit from them ten years ago - this despite the fact that I've used that card pretty much the same way and it lasted until it was time to get a replacement because it's expired.

This latest one lasted me six months: the plastic laminate has come off the front, the magnetic strip's kinda flaking off, and I've had the card declined at some places in the last two weeks (that, or I've seen cashiers put the card through the machine several times, harder each time, just to get some sort of reading).

But it's just "normal wear and tear" according to the customer service person I spoke to (happens to all the ATM and credit/ debit cards issued by said bank apparently). And since they'll replace the card for free anyway, it doesn't really matter, does it?

At six months? When I've another 4 years left to this card?

I really don't think so.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

"Red Card! Red Card! Blue Card ...!"

"... whatever card also can! As long as there's a card!"

There are reasons why I'm becoming more and more of a curmudgeon as I grow older. Watching a football match that's boring to the nth degree was bad enough without having drunken morons sitting at the table behind screaming

"Red card!"

"Break his leg!"

"Yellow card!"

"Fuck you!"


every once in a while.

Uh, right. Whatever dude. You want to impress the girls at your table, do it at home. It's frustrating watching a bad football game, yeah, but you don't have to spoil the rest of the time others are having too. It's just attention-seeking behaviour, plain and simple.

It might have been like watching an S-League game last night, but really, don't have to act like S-League supporters either.