terse & at large

GRRRRR. Arrrgh. And sometimes a travel log.

Wednesday, March 31, 2004


I went with the cousin to a hole-in-the-wall antique shop in Telok Ayer today to have a look at some silver prints that had been given away because the owner passed away recently.

They were prints (roughly A3 sized) of Singapore in the 1950s and 60s and some have even been exhibited, going by the labels on the back of some of the mounted ones. Though the quality wasn't all that great (that is, they won't be anywhere near 'mint' condition), they were, otherwise, all very good shots of kampongs, cottage industries (including one kick-ass photo of either a man hanging out sheets at an outdoor laundry or a man hanging out sheets of rubber) and, generally, of life in Singapore 'way back when' -- much of which is gone now*. The photographer obviously exercised a lot of care in the composition of the photos and experimented with the negatives in the darkroom: there were several prints of the same scene, but each was unique in that it was cropped differently or treated differently in the darkroom.

In other words, there was a lot of time and love that had gone into each of the prints.

It's sad then, that the man's children or grandchildren decided that these photographs were not worth the paper they were printed on and chose to give them to the shop. It makes me wonder where I'm going with this photography thing and if all I'll leave my kids are the prints that they, if they are to be brought up in modern-throw-away-everything-that's-old-and-worthless-Singapore, too, will discard eventually.

Anyway, the cousin picked out 22 prints and we're going back to the shop on Saturday to narrow it down some more. Might be tempted to buy some myself.

* Speaking of things gone or going: the National Library at its present site closes its doors to the public forever later today. I'll be there.

With a camera, of course. I will need something to remember my childhood by when I'm away from here.

Monday, March 29, 2004

No one better move my cheese!

I am brie!
Cheese Test: What type of cheese are you?

Brie is the best known French cheese and has a nickname "The Queen of Cheeses". Several hundred years ago, Brie was one of the tributes which had to be paid to the French kings. In France, Brie is very different from the cheese exported to the United States. "Real" French Brie is unstabilized and the flavor is complex when the surface turns slightly brown. When the cheese is still pure-white, it is not matured. If the cheese is cut before the maturing process is finished, it will never develop properly. Exported Brie, however, is stabilized and never matures. Stabilized Brie has a much longer shelf life and is not susceptible to bacteriological infections. Brie, one of the great dessert cheeses, comes as either a 1 or 2 kilogram wheel and is packed in a wooden box. In order to enjoy the taste fully, Brie must be served at room temperature. [ Country: France || Milk: cow milk || Texture: soft || Recommended Wine: Bourgogne ]

Saturday, March 27, 2004

It's sad when...

- you can afford to buy a branded shirt made from bad, non-airflow-friendly material, but you choose to buy the one that comes with long sleeves;

- you buy a crappy-materialed, branded, long-sleeved shirt, in the cauldron that is Singapore;

- you buy a long-sleeved, badly-made branded shirt in the heat of Singapore but cannot afford deodorant;

- you don't wear deodorant when you're wearing a badly-designed, poorly made branded shirt, and your sweat is the sour kind;

- the smell of your sweat, being the sour kind, gets circulated in the poorly ventilated confines of an MRT train; and

- you are sickly smelly, but because you are wearing a branded shirt, you try and hit on the girls standing near you, mercifully unaware of the effect you're having on them.

Friday, March 26, 2004

Serendipitous Circumstance

Approximately 300 years ago, Destruction abandoned
his realm. His sigil has been taken down, and
he can no longer be reached. He is not dead,
for if that was so, another aspect of
Destruction would have taken his place. He
simply choose not to be responsible for
destruction and all other facets of his domain
anymore. There is still destruction and change,
it is just no longer controlled.

Destruction can no longer be reached, but should
you ever you meet a tall, red-haired man,
carrying a knapsack, you might want to offer
him some bread and cheese. He tells good stories.

(Descriptions and pictures copied from

Which Neil Gaiman's Endless are YOU?
brought to you by Quizilla

Hair's not red though.


Well, I thought I'd join the Endless bandwagon since Dan, WJ, Neil and Kay had already done so. Quite cool actually, the last bit about story-telling. When I was told to write my bio for the Objectifs website for Shooting Home 2004, I ended my bio with pretty much the same sentiment: buy me a drink and I'll tell you stories.

With last night's launch and subsequent drenching (we had a water-pistol fight after guests left), my involvement with Shooting Home 2004 is ended for now. It was a great week spent with people of like mind, and coming together at the end of every day to disuss photography is like a wet dream come true (don't worry, I'm sticking to the water metaphor for a little longer only). Then it was off to Ostas at CHIJmes for a little whistle-wetting with some of the faculty and participants (there! I'm done with water).

I wish I'd thought of this earlier instead of sticking it out for another year in teaching. Might have made a difference in my hairline.

Anyway, it's back to normal service. I'll be watching the Complete Works of William Shakespeare in 97 Minutes tonight with the missus. Then it's off for more drinks with ex-colleagues.

It looks like another busy weekend for me (a play, drinks with good friends, a lunch with relations, a dinner with the wife -- who's about to begin her fourth decade -- and our friends, followed by more drinks with good friends, a game with people trying to get everyone else killed, and probably another round of drinks to make the weekend a little more consistent), which, after the intensity of the workshop, might actually be more relaxing than usual.

I'm really looking forward to Vancouver in June.

Thursday, March 25, 2004


That's it.

All the preparation for the exhibition: done!

After two days of running about like headless chickens, 80% of the class spent the whole of tonight putting up their exhibition prints and bios. All there's left to do would be to buy the food and drinks for the opening launch tomorrow (well, today!) and to embark on a frenzy of networking.

It was pretty amazing how the exhibition took shape over the course of the last two days. In fact, by eight tonight when I left Objectifs to have a quick bite with the missus, mine were the only prints on the wall. One hour later when I got back, there were another 2 up and within an hour-and-a-half the remaining five were up as well. A combination of lots of compromises and teamwork.


Now to worry about what to wear tomorrow...

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Epiphanic Exclamations

Was at the coffee shop downstairs waiting for my atas* mee pok when two schoolboys (no more than Primary Three or Four and from a rather renown school in white and blue), in the midst of a usual schoolboy tiff, let out a "fuckin' hell!"

A very loud one, I might add, that also involved the flinging of a cold, icy snack.

That, of course, drew the attention of everyone at the coffee shop.

I was watching the two men at the next table and the expressions on their faces that went from outrage at the use of the f-word, then more outrage at the realisation that it had been spoken by primary-school-aged boys, and finally, the oh-shit moment when they realised they have children at that age. (Of course, it's pure speculation on my part for the last bit -- I don't claim to be able to read everyone at one glance -- but the shock on their faces was pretty funny.)

What I found amazing was that, up until that moment, the two men were happily swearing in various languages in their own conversation. That they would feel outrage that children are using foul language as well was beyond me. But the [hypothetical] realisation that they had children the same age as the foul-mouthed boys and that they may be just as foul-mouthed is something I find really interesting.

Especially if I juxtapose this with my experience as an ADM (and, briefly, DM).

I've dealt with parents whose opinion of their children is not grounded in reality. Obviously at that age, children are learning about home-faces and outside-faces. And unfortunately for these parents, the realisation that their children's outside-faces aren't the angelic ones they are used to sometimes comes as a shock. Some parents adapt and work with the school. Others, and I can name them on one hand, take the other approach and view their children as victims of the school's malicious campaign to smear them and their reputation. These are the ones who would eventually resort to threats of litigation and/or complaining to TPTB (usually their MP -- because their MPs have nothing better to do than to defend a recalcitrant pubescent wrong-doer).

I've a feeling the two men fall into the latter category.

Somewhere out there, some teacher is feeling vindicated and can't explain why.

* (ah-tahs) Malay for "upstairs", it describes someone as snobbish, hoity-toity, affected or arrogant. Source: The Coxford Singlish Dictionary.


Never thought I'll have one of those days in which I had tons to do and not enough time to do them.

Had to run several errands today before the launch of the exhibition on Thursday:

1. Made name cards.

2. Printed the exhibition prints.

3. Sent the prints for mounting and framing. (And, in case I forget tomorrow morning, to have them matte laminated as well.)

4. Type up bios for all the other participants.

5. Rush other participants to submit their bios so I can edit and then type them up.

6. Pay the deposit at a travel agents for our air tickets to Vancouver.

7. Attend a meeting to update all other participants on the progress of our assigned tasks for the exhibition.

Thank goodness I took the whole of Monday off to rest.

And in other news:

My miniatures from Reaper arrived today. Of course no one was home to sign for the package, so it looks like before I leave the flat to go collect my prints and to mount them in the gallery, I'll have to make a quick stop at the Postal Centre to get my package.

Busy day again.

I'm gonna fall sick if I'm not careful.

Monday, March 22, 2004

Midday Update

Vancouver is a-go.

Now to plan my finances for the next three months.

And to practice knee-cap busting, a la Tonya Harding should we (Dan and I still have not received any of our orders) not get our DVDs in the same period of time from TAU.

We have their address.

It isn’t all about FUN anymore…

FUN anymore…

What was it I said about tagging stupid ‘value addedness’ to events and places?

I read yesterday (or the day before) that Singapore was having our own version of CBS’s ‘Amazing Race’. Yes, because it can’t be just be fun when we do things here, it must be educational as well.

Otherwise, we don’t get grants.

Can’t we, for once, do something for the sake of just fun?


The Objectifs workshop ended yesterday, and I’m officially beat.

In the same period I missed:

1. Morons who 'invaded' the BMT capital of Singapore, Pulau Tekong.

2. The planning for Vancouver this summer. We're only now waiting on Dan to confirm if he can be out of the country for the two weeks that the trip will take.

3. Three games that I could have had.

Was running all over Singapore over the last four days trying to piece together a series of photographs for my chosen photo essay. Had barely enough sleep – about 17 hours in total out of the four-and-a-half-days of the workshop – which might have been okay if I were younger (somehow the caffeine buzz didn’t feel the same from ten years ago, when I was in the middle of my freshman year and living on nothing but coffee, butter and potatoes). I didn’t eat much (skipped several dinners to get my photos ready for the nightly critiques) and had no social life beyond the confines of the workshop space and my subjects’ homes.


It was worth every second of it.

I now convinced more than ever that I’m doing the right thing for me. And if I can translate it into the ability to put food on the table… well! I am also more aware that it’s not ‘fun’ (like an amateur’s ‘fun’) any more. I guess I’ll have to learn to relax and to view each job as an extension of ‘play time’.

I’m taking today off from everything and just chilling with a book and a game later tonight.

Tomorrow I start worrying about Opening Night, Thursday, and the exhibition that will run for about two weeks until 14 April 2004.


Addendum to the list of things I missed while at a course:

4. How could I have forgotten the 'assassination attempt' on Chen Shui Bian in Taiwan? Lucky man. When was the last time any sniper aimed to leave the target a scar in the shape of a line across his belly instead of aiming between his eyes?

Wednesday, March 17, 2004

Some thoughts...

... before I disappear for the next four days on the Shooting Home 2004 workshop.

I got my first Amazon shipment today. The box containing the books Neverwhere (Neil Gaiman), Ishmael (Daniel Quinn), Lost in Translation (Nicole Mones) and the NGE: Reborn DVD actually arrived yesterday but since I was out at Yio Chu Kang Stadium for a shoot, I wasn't home to receive it.

Which brings me to gripe numbers one and two:

1. When I got home yesterday at about 4 pm, I found the 'failed delivery' notice jammed in the grilles of the main gate. Of course I was excited about it. So, at 6 pm, just before I was to meet Dan and Sprite, Alvin and Lucinda and the wife for dinner, I took a detour to the Postal Centre near Paya Lebar MRT station.

Now, it's the Postal Centre. Not a mere Post Office. It's supposed to handle all the mail and packages meant for the East of Singapore, and then some. Thankfully there wasn't a line, but when I got to the counter, the guy behind it says, "This came today? Or then we don't have it here yet. It's at the other centre..."

Other centre?

Isn't the point of having ONE. BIG. CENTRE. so that everything gets handled there? Why this nonsense about 'other centres'?

So, obviously I wasn't happy. I just kinda took out my frustrations on two morons who happened to cut across my path while I was still on the warpath. Don't you people hate this as well? You're walking, you're in the groove, you've got rhythm going and then some idiot decides to cut you across your path, force you to slow down or even jump to avoid running into them? That happened to me. So bad luck for them.

The first got the slipper on her left foot ripped off because I stepped onto the part that was flopping about as she walked. It was one of those colourful faux-chic ones (read: Ah Lian) that may or may not have cost her too much. I ignored her cries of outrage as I resumed my pace and got to the MRT station, where I met Moron #2: This one bumped into me, so obviously her radar wasn't working and her vectors were completely off. So I, very loudly and embarrassingly, yelled, "OY!"

And I swear, this must be the week to piss me off while walking around me. Today, when I was at the Orchard MRT Station, some woman bumped me on my left flank, not once, not TWICE, but three times.

??? (OK, I did check my wallet... can't be too careful nowadays.)

The first time should have clued you in that there was an inmovable object in your path. Smart people adjust and move away. This is what the Hokkien would call, "long bia!" (hitting the wall). What's up with that?

2. The second gripe is for Amazon. They sent me the books, they're fine. But the DVD, it just happens to be the second of a two-DVD set of the Director's Cut to the NGE series. Not very helpful there. It means it'll be gathering dust on my shelves until the first of the series arrives and I can watch both in the order that was intended.

The third gripe is from today.

On the MRT, I saw the new-ish ads for the Singapore Red Cross (or if there's a dedicated organisation for blood donations in Singapore, it would be it). Can't say I'm impressed. I'm just wondering what idiot advertising executive and the equally idiotic liaison from the Red Cross signed off their approval on it.

If you haven't seen it, it's the one where two boxers are squaring off in the ring. One's cocky, and probably OUT OF THE WEIGHT CLASS of the other boxer. The other one is dark and really, really huge. So there's Improbability #1. Then the fight begins, the skinnier guy gets a couple of jabs in, he's feeling awfully cocky. Then BAM! The other guy clocks him one under the chin and the follows-up with a haymaker with his left hand. Cocky, skinny man goes down, bleeding from the nose and mouth. And here we have Improbability #2: WHERE THE HELL IS COCKY GUY'S MOUTH GUARD? Then the tagline appears and says, "Why not donate blood where it will be better used?" (or something like that -- by then I was looking at it with a red mist.)

Yes, you want your ad to be funny, maybe even touch a raw nerve or something, but this is a pathetic and meaningless ad. It's full of things that won't occur in real-life (and they aren't advertising a product, which most people would probably not need in real-life, but something that is VERY real and not that frivolous either).

And the tagline? Don't get me started on that. OK, I will. Cocky man? NOT donating blood. That's it. In one fragment of a sentence, the ad just got flushed down the toilet.




So, apparently, last week when my mother and brother were in Genting Highlands for a short break, they had a close encounter of the eerie kind in their hotel room. Now, she's insisting that I wear a charm of some sort if I were to go ahead with my plans to go to Bangkok for the Songkran festival.

Oh well.

Monday, March 15, 2004


.. had one of those weekends that geeks! have wet dreams about: had a game on Friday, another on Sunday and, if Dan, TKDD and Ru hadn't cancelled because of prior engagements, we might have had another one today.

And in-between the games, I had a couple of shoots with STAGES and at a wedding.

Quite the weekend.


Then I wake up to this:

"'There is no question of HDB ducking its responsibility. It's about getting residents to play their part in ensuring that our high-rise living environment in Singapore is safe,' he (National Development Minister, Mr Mah Bow Tan) told MPs on Saturday."

Are you sure it's not "about getting residents to pay their part"?

"But Mr Mah countered that the windows in HDB flats were not faulty to begin with. 'They were fitted according to the international standards at that time,' he said."

Ah yes, international standards at that time.

Now it is implied that stainless steel rivets are the new international standards. Funny. I'm pretty sure stainless steel technology exists 8-13 years ago (the figure was given in the article about how old the windows were before they decided to end it all by letting go of their housings -- too much exam stress too?), so why weren't stainless steel rivets used instead of the aluminium ones?


I am suddenly reminded of one of the tenets of Murphy's Law of the Military: "Never forget that your weapon was made by the lowest bidder."

You don't have to 'wonder' about the apathetic stance of Singaporeans towards politics, the Government or even our own damned lives when things like this come up and all we get in return are rationalisations basically telling us to. Live. With. It.

Friday, March 12, 2004

When it rains, it pours...

Not to worry, this entry has nothing to do with the weather we've been having lately (Sprite already covered it on her blog, so I'm not about to be redundant), though I must say it isn't making me too happy. It does, however, have to do with the number of things I've got lined up for the next three months:

1. I've been offered a position teaching ESL in Ho Chi Minh City. I'd rather it be Hanoi; the money isn't awesome too (unlike what expatriate teachers in Singapore get), but given how little we'd spent when we were in Vietnam in January, what they are offering is enough to live comfortably and still have something by way of savings.

It's also attractive because it'll be a new experience, and we really did enjoy ourselves. Moreover, I drool to think of the photographic opportunities.

2. There are also tentative plans to visit Vancouver in the summer (June really, because while I am no longer restricted by school holidays when planning my overseas trips, Dan and Sprite, who are coming, are). It'll be good to be back there again (the last time was 4 years ago) and visiting my old haunts -- I've always been accused of being a creature of habit. Dan and Sprite want to visit a relatively cooler English-speaking country this June and the wife wants to "see the mountains again, Gandalf!"

My plan is to attend a uni classmate's wedding in late-May and then to stay on to look for a job. The wife will come only in June with the cousins-in-law for the touristy part of the trip. Depending on whether the job search is successful, I'll either come back with them or stay on and have my stuff sent over.

This is, however, dependent on my Performance Bonus from last year... although, seeing that I was appointed Acting DM in the middle of the year, it shouldn't be less than a C grade (read: enough for a 12-day trip, but probably not enough for a month's stay in Vancouver) and it would be pro-rated for just nine months of work. Here's to hoping that I keep my track record and get nothing lower than a B.

[Puts away trumpet] Heh.

Before ex-classmates who are in Vancouver, and who read this blog, jump up and volunteer their homes (especially the ones who've just had kids, you know who you are), you know me: not the kind to like to impose... So, thanks anyway.

3. Photography projects. There are at least four I've got lined up:

I would really want to take pictures of Changi Prison and the National Library, before the bulldozers move in and tear down more ties to my childhood and youth. That's two projects -- though I'll have to write in to the proper authorities for permission, I think, before anything can be done about them.

The third, was suggested to me by a teacher at the college (thanks P!). It's overseas and involves spending time in a supposedly very remote village somewhere in Sarawak or Sabah (I forget which) and taking pictures of the landscape and the people. Apparently there are plans to produce a coffee table book and they could use my photographs. Who knows? There may be an exhibition/ book launch in the works if this does come through.

And finally, there's still work to be done at the JC I'm at. The schedule's already planned, so it's about the only thing that confirmed in this list of projects.

4. Happily, the Shooting Home 2004 workshop starts the middle of next week.

Not so happily, I have yet to decide on the project for the exhibition that'll follow the workshop. Now I find out, I should have up to four projects when I go in next Wednesday in case people shoot down my ideas.


Still, having an established photographer as a mentor for the next year has to be a good thing. I wonder who I'll get.

5. Just got the confirmation email from Reaper that the miniatures I've ordered from them have been shipped, so I'm looking at painting them in 2-3 weeks' time.

Still on the topic of online shopping, the stuff I'd ordered from Amazon should come in around the same time.

6. The 'results' of the Eye É City 2003 project should also be in by May. I'll know then if any of my photographs have been selected for the book.

So. Plenty of things to keep someone, brought up with the Protestant Work Ethic, happy.


Looking forward to the game tonight: if G does come tonight after he attends the grand opening of the Lord of the Ring Exhibition at the Science Centre (now here's someone whose geek! quotient's higher than mine), it'll be the first time in over 18 months that we've had the original players come together for a game.

Plus, I'd like to think I've designed a pretty kick-ass dungeon crawl for tonight's session, so I can't wait to put their PCs through some truly-horrid suffering.


Thursday, March 11, 2004

Excuse me?

Saw this article on the online Straits Times tonight.

"A Chinese footballer killed by lightning was on Thursday hailed as a sports martyr by Singapore League officials who say the player's unusual height may have spared the lives of his team mates."

Sports martyr?

There's nothing like platitudes like these to make someone's death really meaningless. Do we really need to label the poor victim a 'martyr'? I don't think he chose to be 1.88m tall. I certainly don't think he threw himself in the path of the lightning bolt in order to save everyone else on the field.

It's kinda like the 'martyrdom' of suicide bombers. Only worse.

Some people need to go for sensitivity training, methinks.

A New Look

Had a little time in the evening today, so I decided change the look of my blog slightly. Too many blogs of friends and acquaintances using the same template.

Sign o' the Times

A delivery man? With a SGD28,000 club membership?

Only in Singapore.

Again, I blame this on Singapore becoming too rich too fast.


Whenever I ask the kids I teach why they thought children are so pampered nowadays, the answer is invariably, "because their parents don't want them to suffer as they did."

Uh. Right.

I'm not sure, but didn't this 'suffering' in the past make them who they are today? In most cases, it can't be a bad thing, especially if this country isn't falling apart and going to hell in a handbasket (not yet, anyway). I find it ridiculous that many successful people/ captains of industry/ pillars of society are buying into the whole "my child cannot suffer as I had done in my childhood/ youth" argument. So much for character-building*.

I'm sorry, but how else is your child going to learn to be resilient and independent, if not through 'suffering'? Which also bring us to the question: what is 'suffering' anyway?

Apparently, nowadays it means:
1. Carrying your own bag of books to school and back.
2. Taking public transportation (... that's not an air-conditioned cab).
3. Not having someone pick up after you.
4. Not being able to watch the TV programmes you want after a certain time.
5. Sweating! (I shit you not.)
6. Not having an overseas holiday every time school's out.
7. Having to face up to the consequences of your own actions.
8. Not having an allowance that's the GDP of a small, developing African country with few natural resources.
9. Being scolded.
10. Not being allowed to back talk.
11. Not being allowed to dress or style their hair as you please.
12. Not getting everything you want.


So much for the other minor forms of suffering like disease, war, famine and drought. The Four Horsemen don't have a branch office in Singapore. For which I'm thankful, but not when we need to invent new forms of suffering like honest, hard physical work and being courteous or respectful just to feel at ease with the rest of the world.

How does a child, having experienced nothing but material and physical comfort all her life, learn about growing up in an increasingly difficult world? How would she deal with bad things that will happen to her? Quit? And then what? Blame the System for making things difficult for her in the first place (like some students from my old school who'd blame everything and everyone, including their own indulgent parents, but themselves for the offenses they've committed)?

It's one thing to want to be a good parent to your child. But it's criminal to not prepare your child properly for adulthood, warts and all, and then unleashing them into a world that wouldn't give a rat's ass what happens to them.

* Which, suddenly, becomes the responsibility of teachers. Right. But when it is necessary to discipline and take them to task for their failures of self-control, these same parents swoop in and rescue their children from a fate worse than death (given the way some parents act in these situations, it has to be so).

This, here, is character-building for you. Singapore-style.

Tuesday, March 09, 2004

We now return to...

... the regularly scheduled mid-week frivolity:

You are Schroeder!

Which Peanuts Character are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

Monday, March 08, 2004

Small country, smaller minds

It's taken me a few days to stew about it. I'm finally ready to vent.

(Normally, I wouldn't involve myself in something like this, but having experienced the same kind of crap from the bureaucrats and parents from my school, I fully understand what Dan must be going through and the effect it must have on a new teacher. This is the essence of what I had found wrong with the teaching profession and why, for my own sanity, I had to quit at the end of last year.)

Dan was the subject of a rather malicious and unnecessary attack by his supervisor-twice-removed on Thursday. His professional integrity was questioned by said supervisor, as well as his school spirit (he's at his alma mater, FYI) and attitude.

To which I have this to say:
"... professional integrity was questioned...":
There have been three days' MCs since he'd started teaching, yes, but two were for a sprained ankle and one for a flu. How can anyone (of sound mind and objective perspective) question a teacher's professional integrity when it's something like a sprained ankle? Did she* expect him to hobble around the school in a gallant effort to overcome his pain? He was on crutches, for fuck's sake! Was it not enough that he only took two of the three days he was given for rest?

"You've only been teaching for five months and you already have three MCs this term."

Three days? In five months?

Look, lady, I admire you for your iron constitution (and I would admire you more if you weren't mean-spirited) and your fucking [insert: blind, mindless, drone-like] dedication to the school, but if someone is sick or unfit, you don't expect them to come to work. If you can excuse whiney schoolboys from school or PE because of their precious health, can't you extend the same bloody consideration to a teacher? Is it because teachers, unlike the parents of your precious charges, won't or can't, sue the bejeezus out of the school if bad shit happens to them?

And what are you suggesting? It's okay to take more MCs once you've served your time in the school?

"school spirit...":
He's lacking in school spirit? He couldn't have more school spirit if he tried! I can't imagine what it must be like to return to the school you love enough to want to teach at it, only to be accused of being lacking in school spirit.

And way to foster school spirit among the teachers, lady. Certainly the kind of leadership style that really, really ought to be spread on lecture circuits and at seminars for the I-want-to-be-seen-doing-stuff-and-not-actually-doing-stuff crowds.


He's one of only few in the staff meeting not sleeping, having their own conversations and marking scripts, and his attitude gets questioned? This last one, more than the other two, suggests to me that she's simply picking on Dan because she can.

The worst part of it all? That it was done in front of The Man, the other supervisor-twice-removed, his immediate supervisor and someone who might be a supervisor, but probably isn't.

In a whole fuckin' crowd.

Very nice. Very EQ. Pass. A-star.

The Number One Cause of dissatisfaction among teachers isn't the amount of teaching they have to do, or the long-standing issues with classroom sizes and mountains of marking at the end of every school day. It's morale-sapping shit like this and the number of people in all schools everywhere who are doing it to the teachers. With impunity. All in the name of fuck-knows.

It wasn't as if Dan is a threat to the system or to the lofty position the bitch is in, so there really is no reason for her to be chewing Dan out (and for very little justification) in front of everyone. Just a sense of satisfaction accorded only to bullies and other weak people.

I enjoyed teaching. Once in a while, the kids are gems and I feel proud of what they've achieved in the months they've been in my classes. I just didn't enjoy working with the stupid, out-of-touch people who are running the show.

Teaching is supposed to be a calling for most. Don't change it into something horrible for them.

Excuse my language, but things like this really piss me off.

* Not using the gender-neutral term this time.

Also this morning:
Was almost late for the first time.

When a cab arrived there was a female student, from the college I'm at, waiting about four people down the line who will most undoubtedly be late for the start of school. I hesitated, then decided against calling out to her to get into the same cab as me. Which would have helped her since I barely got into the college on time.

All because of two idiot teachers who couldn't keep their penises to themselves.

Sometimes, altruism really takes a bigger person.

Saturday, March 06, 2004

Some thoughts

... while I concentrate on coming up with a photography project. Moreover, I wasn't planning to update the blog until I'd drafted an entry concerning Dan's predicament, but these articles were a bit hard to pass up without comment:

The first, from MSNBC, mentions that there are women in Singapore lining up to marry William Hung.

What the...?

It's either a joke or, really, the taste of women in Singapore have taken a downward turn since I was last single.

The second is a little closer to home (literally). So much for a second chance for Changi Prison. All that's left will be a 180-metre stretch of wall, two turrets and a transplanted gate. That's nice (I like the 'transplanted gate' part especially. Sure, move the damn thing, butcher the original architecture of the place, why don't you). That should be enough to help future generations of people imagine what ordeal the POWs and civilian prisoners went through from 1942-1945.

Hell, why not? We all know that our sense of imagination has always been very strong. Oh wait. That's before people decided that Literature isn't important as a subject any more.

Oh well.

I guess when I've emigrated, all I'll keep of Singapore will be the magnetic strip from my passport, one or two pages with visa stamps and a transplanted thumbprint from my IC. I suppose that would be enough to tell everyone of my origins from a country that doesn't seem to understand the importance of memories and symbols of our past.

And they wonder why we don't have a national identity.

Thursday, March 04, 2004


I'M IN!!!

Got the email this evening. I'm be in Shooting Home 2004 (so long as I remember to pay the course fees in time -- hyeah, like I'll forget something like this).

Now to think about a photo project.

And if I hit the Toto jackpot tonight, it would really make my day.


So last night, I went to the largest bookstore in Singapore to try and get at least one of the books from my reading list.

What did I buy at the end of two-hours?


They either didn't have the books I wanted (can't tell because the Information Counters were all closed by the time I got there -- from a HRC dinner. We chose to eat there because the wife had never been to one before; hyeah, I would also like to know from under which rock she crawled out from) or the only one that was there (Neverwhere) was in such a ratty condition, it didn't justify the price tag.

So I thought I would buy something else, so as to not make the trip a wasted one, but there really was nothing that caught my eye (I almost bought Elmore Leonard's Mr Paradise; I changed my mind because Noir wasn't a genre I'd really enjoyed for a long time already and I didn't want it to turn into a mercy buy). Most of the books in stock were in incomplete sets and I didn't particularly feel like starting on a new trilogy or series, only to wait weeks or months for the stock for the missing Parts to come in again.

And I'd given up on Tom Clancy after Jack Ryan became POTUS.

So much for being the largest bookstore in Singapore (actually, I'm not sure if that's true anymore, but why be technical about it?). For a place so large, it was hard to believe that it would be so impossible to find anything to catch my attention enough to make me buy it.

It sucked more because I couldn't go to any of the Information Counters to check if the books had been displayed in different sections from where I had looked, or if they were going to be brought in in the first place. The counters, if you remember, were all closed and the cashiers were having their own problems with the late-night customers paying for their stuff before the store closed at 11 pm. I couldn't even make advanced orders for the books I wanted.

I think I had better luck looking for Playboy and Penthouse magazines in the National Library.

Update, as at 14:36 hours, 4 March 2004:
Frustrated by my lack of procurement last night, I've just contributed no small sum to the US economy by ordering the books, along with some DVD titles which have been sitting in my Shopping Cart for a damn long time now, through Amazon.com.

I might be a couple of hundred USD poorer, but I'm feeling much better.

Alternative retail therapy.

P.S. For those who are interested, the latest Neon Genesis Evangelion DVDs (NGE: Resurrection and NGE: Genesis Reborn) are also out.

Wednesday, March 03, 2004

Sharpening the Saw

It's sad, but when you have very little free time, sometimes a list is what's needed to get a reading habit going again. Here's my reading plan for this year (italics are re-reads):

1. A Feast For Crows* (George R R Martin)

2. Dancing Barefoot (Wil Wheaton)

3. Ishmael: An Adventure of the Mind and Spirit (Daniel Quinn)

4. The Angel of Darkness** (Caleb Carr)

5. Neverwhere: A Novel (Neil Gaiman)

6. Iliad*** (Homer)

7. The Song of Troy (Colleen McCullough)

8. Lost in Translation (Nicole Mones) -- not the movie, though I wouldn't mind springing for a DVD if it's really that good

9. The Gospel According to Tolkien: Visions of the Kingdom in Middle-Earth (Ralph C Wood)

10. LOTR: The Fellowship of the Rings (JRR Tolkien)

11. LOTR: The Two Towers (JRR Tolkien)

12. LOTR: Return of the King (JRR Tolkien)****

We'll see how many of these I actually get through.

I don't do resolutions. Only book lists.

* And about time too; it's been two (three?) years since A Storm of Swords. For a while I was worried Martin might be going the way of Robert Jordan and his Wheel of Time series, which has taken far to long to complete. I think I gave up after The Dragon Reborn (Book Three) because I didn't have the time to wait for the next book to hit the mass market -- that would have been when I was finishing NS and had leave to clear.

It might take me while to read the first three books again to get myself back into the story.

** Another old one, but I haven't gotten around to reading it. Enjoyed the first one (The Alienist) immensely though.

*** Need a refresh for Troy.

**** Which, if I time it right, should place me in good stead for when the Extended DVD Edition of LOTR:ROTK arrives from TAU, assuming I still trust them to deliver the goods -- it's been three-and-a-half months and my last order hasn't arrived.

Tuesday, March 02, 2004

Twelve Angry Men

Well, I guess somewhere in my future, Mr Stroke is waiting by the highway of life for me to pick him up; that is, if this article is to be believed.

Still, I'm working my way to keeping that possibility a distant one. I know I've been a lot happier now that teaching isn't something I wake up every morning to do. I know I'm still teaching in some way or another, but to know that it's not a long-term thing and that I can walk away from it without a second glance (heh, just thought of that De Niro line from Heat: "A guy told me one time, 'Don't let yourself get attached to anything you are not willing to walk out on in 30 seconds flat if you feel the heat around the corner.'" Words of wisdom from a great actor.) makes it a little more palatable. The money's still a little tight, but what I've put away in the last three years I've enough to last me at least the next two years, especially if I continue to have jobs popping up everywhere.

And this could not be more appropriate:

You're South Africa!

After almost endless suffering, you've finally freed yourself
from the oppression that somehow held you back.  Now your diamond in the
rough is shining through, and the world can accept you for who you really are.
 You were trying to show who you were to the world, but they weren't interested
in helping you become that until it was almost too late.  Suddenly you're
a very hopeful person, even if you still have some troubles.

Take the Country Quiz at the Blue Pyramid

And no, unlike Dan (who doesn't have work today, the lucky stiff), I'm not planning to use movie titles for all of my blog entries.

Monday, March 01, 2004

Thoughts for a Cruddy Monday

Bah, humbug!

Woke up feeling I didn't get the 6 hours I was supposed to have gotten. There was then the tummy ache that kept me home beyond the time I would usually leave the flat. And when I did leave, I had to go back again because all my money was still in the pocket of the shorts I wore last night. Funny really, because the wife had seen me off at the door after (quite unnecessarily) handing me the coins I use for coffee money. But one does not live on coffee money alone, not at today's prices; I had to go back up to the flat and get the cash.

Yes, it's been that kind of Monday morning.

I'd expected to be in a snarly mood for the rest of the day, which would have been good if I were still a Discipline Master (I'd originally typed "DM", but with the weekly D&D sessions I have to keep up my geek! quotient, I thought better than to be ambiguous), but not any more. In the good ol' days, it meant more patrols of the corridors with the mean look in my eyes. Now, it just means scaring the neighbourhood cats (only those that were asking for it) that live around the estate.

Now that I'm in college and in my little nook (which appears to have been originally used by other tutors, when their work spills over from their own workstations, to mark and to complete admin work because their work occasionally still spills over), though, it's been a little better. The stomach's settled somewhat with the infusion of coffee and, in between pauses to think as I craft this entry, I'm finally getting work, that really should have been completed over the weekend, done.

Also, starting to feel guilty about the cats.


I've been thinking about a photography project in case I do get into the Shooting Home course this year. Wouldn't do to be picked and then have absolutely no idea what to show at the exhibition.

The wife is suggesting I do one on old people in Singapore. Feels overdone though. I was thinking about doing one about the youth of Singapore (not quite as hardcore as 15, but there's something to aspire to). Was kind of inspired by a group of youngsters in the taxi queue in front of us last night. They didn't look a day over 15 (which meant that it was technically illegal for them to be smoking), but all of them were puffing away [poser-style] like chimneys at the height of the Industrial Revolution. Then again, I might just so irritated by the punks that I don't even finish the project.

There's always the Songkran Festival in Thailand (the one that has celebrants tossing water at each other), but that would mean having to take shots with only a disposable camera because the DSLR will probably go into a cold sweat thinking about the possibility of being drowned again (yes, again). Which means the quality of photos will be quite poor. Unless, of course, I manage to afford that waterproof Olympus mju camera between now and April 13.

Would love to do a bit of travelling again -- and with the earnings of the last three weeks (and then some), it's not a wholly impossible notion to have -- but we are saving up for a rather costly trip back to Vancouver at the end of the year (and I've just been told by Sprite -- post-discussion, see point no. 2 -- that plans for London in June or Calgary in February 2005 may also be in the works), so austerity is the key word these days.

Looks like it might be old people or young punks, after all.

Gawd, I hope I don't kill someone, accidentally or otherwise.


Add this to the reasons why I want to leave. It's only February and the temperatures are already as bad as it gets in June.


Had a D&D session yesterday (was late for it because of the lunch at Dan's). By the time I arrived, a Moria-esque map was already on the whiteboard and everyone was getting into what turned out to be a Monty Haul weekend. All quite fun. But by night's end, we'd lost one PC (death by shadow dragon) and possibly one player (alienation by social skills, or lack of).

It started as an obvious jibe at another player who was rather draconian in the division of treasure, insisting that whoever wanted an item had to pay for it (sale price) out of his or her share of the treasure. But when it came to items which are gifts to specific players, the rule would not apply. Such was the case last night when she finally received an item that was specifically presented to her. We were fine with letting her have the item but one player kept insisting that she paid for it (after said jibe). When we pointed out that throughout the course of the campaign, every one of us had been presented with such 'gifts' and no one else had made an issue of having to pay for them before, he got agitated and insisted on paying for his item instead.

That went on for a ludicrous amount of time (the social one insisting on paying for his gift and the rest of us telling him not to be stupid -- not so bluntly, of course -- and actually putting the notion to a vote -- 4 to 1, if you're interested in such details) before the DM, who's usually the most affable chap, stepped in and snapped at Mr Social. "Leave it alone" is the summarised version of what was said.

Uncomfortable silence followed.

After we broke for the night and left for our abodes, I was thinking about the whole incident. The player in question had always been weird to me (even more so than your usual D&D geek! types) and definitely lacking in some social skills. We never know whether he was serious about the things he said he would do or if he was even capable of understanding irony. There have been many occasions when he'd react to bad news, or, ambiguous news even, with all the grace of a 3-year old and then sulk at his corner of the table, refusing to contribute to the rest of the encounter. Or he'd harp on things said or encounters that had occurred a long time ago and bring them up every once in a while like a trained parrot. And like a trained parrot, when another player says he or she doesn't have the skill or equipment to do something, he'll chip in, even though the encounter does not concern him, and say that he has said skill or item.

Yeah. Whatever.

I remember a time when his character got caught in a trap and I'd jokingly said, "Cut the leg off and let's continue!" He didn't speak to me for the rest of that session and kept repeating to no one in particular, "When I'm walking around with only one leg, I'll remember you..."

Yeah. Again. What-ever.

I've taken to letting him do whatever he wants at sessions.

Why do we continue to play with him then? (That's what the wife would like to know as well.)

I have absolutely no idea. I do know that the rest of the group is fun to be with (even the one that gets us killed all the time, because he knows irony when he sees it -- most of the time, anyway). But with Mr Social, it's like playing with a sociopath. You don't know what he's thinking most of the time. Worst of all, he takes everything we say at face level.

Which, in the end, makes the game less fun.


Hmm, looks like it's a rambling kind of Monday morning as well.