Sunday, 31 October 2010

Metamorphosis at 10

Coco has been amazing these few days. She had been focusing on studying for exams, be it English, Science or Maths.

Unlike her normal sluggish self, she kept at doing the work assigned to her.

I have to admit that I have screamed at her out of exasperation more than I really wanted to. William and I fail to understand what is so difficult about place values in Decimals eg. 0.456 - The place value of '4' is 'tenths', '5' is 'hundredths' and '6' is 'thousandths'.

But Coco keeps saying that '4' is 'hundredths', '5' is 'thousandths'. William and I have taught her the place values weeks before, even just yesterday. I made her doing the basic exercises in Decimals which include translating the digits into their place values. In fact, she did so well I commented that she had become a Decimal expert. Yet today, she said the same thing again, that '4' was 'hundredths'!!!

It puzzles us no end why identifying place values in Decimal can be difficult to her since she is a bright girl. To qualify her brightness, her own teachers, even her Chinese teacher who despairs at her sluggish attitude towards Chinese, remarked that Coco was intelligent and could do well if she tried.

She catches on things fast. She gets the drift of things really quickly. Many times, before I could finish my explanation, or even before I get to the crux, she just has to pick up the cue word and there she goes.

But despite all these, she has been really amazing and impressive with her effort. I haven't seen anything like this in her before. She would complete what I tasked her to do, she would sit through the day just to do work, for the purpose of revision for exams.

She said that it was because I was with her, and promised her breaks.

Silly girl! I retorted that she wouldn't need breaks if she took 3 hours to solve one problem, which was what she often did!

Let's hope this is the beginning of her maturation phase in taking ownership of her studies.

Friday, 29 October 2010

Cloning: Removing wrinkles or deep lines

It was the last day I could utilise my 5 free 8R pictures. My mother had some pics she had shortlisted and I wanted to make at least one or two abit better for my parents.
I didn't want my father's wrinkles that line his eyebags to be so obvious.

I googled for a tutorial to remove wrinkles using CS4 and I found this.

In short, it got you to add noise and gaussian blur to smooth the skin and remove the wrinkles in quite a natural way. Unfortunately, being the technophobic that I am, I could not master the smoothening techniques.

Got abit discouraged and looked at other pictures to see if there was anything else that I could do.

I searched on youtube for removing unwanted objects instead for this picture:
It was also very demoralising, because I was incompetent in using the technique to remove the few guys in the background, since the background is not just water and waves, like the one shown in the youtube was.

Then for some reason, it struck me that I could use the cloning technique to remove the wrinkles, especially when my father is tiny in the pic. The cloning shouldn't be too obvious when the pic is blown up to S8R.

1) Click on 'clone stamp tool'
2) Enlarge the clone stamp range by selecting at least No. 19 Master diameter in 'Brush' (on the horizontal menu).
3) Press 'Alt' to clone a selected area
4) Clone away the wrinkles by going over them

I didn't want the change to be too obvious. My father can't be wrinkle-less, right? So I merely lighten the appearance of the wrinkles.
From this:
to this:
The result was especially pleasing when it is printed in S8R size.

I have always hated that fabric line across my bulging tummy. As if I don't know that I have a paunch. I always remember the quiet indignant I felt when I took over the camera from my sister,"Why didn't you tell me I didn't pull my clothes properly?!!"
I used the same technique over that line. Before cloning, I added another layer so as to clone the clothes that's blurred using the noise-adding and gaussian blur techniques.
However, I overdid the cloning and it is especially obvious on the right side of the camisole.

The experience was really satisfying nonetheless. : )

Pilots' or Airport's Fault?

Yahoo! Fit to post has an article on the reflection of a co-pilot of SQ006 - the plane that burst into flames after it hit a crane at a Taiwan Airport 10 years ago.

He talked about how the Taiwanese media haunted and hunted him down, no matter how well he hid himself, because the Taiwanese were trying to find someone to blame for the accident and wanted to point finger at the SQ pilots.

I didn't know what to make of it when I read about the accident 10 years ago. To me, it was a pure accident. I wasn't too bothered about whose responsibility it was.

Until a workshop I attended had the speaker casually mentioned about it.

She said that the SQ pilots were at fault.

Reason: The pilots should have questioned the control tower why there wasn't any lights on the runway when they didn't see them.

I don't work in a control tower or a cockpit. I don't know what the perogatives are. Should the control tower be certain of the plane's whereabout before it announces its takeoff? If it should, then why was it not properly informed? And the best person to inform it would have to be the main pilot. Then the fault would come back to the pilots.

If the visibility is bad, shouldn't the flight be cancelled? Who should have the final say in cancelling a flight? Is it not the pilot if he is already in the cockpit? A pilot who insists on flying despite low visibility - doesn't that make his judgement a poor one?

I clicked on the link provided by yahoo! Fit to post on Cyrano Latiff, the co-pilot, and it led me to a webpage dated 27 July 2002 on the departure of two of the pilots involved in the aircraft disaster, one being Latiff himself. Apparently, they were asked to leave the airline and they had their contract terminated by SIA.

No matter how I see it, it implies that SIA also felt that the pilots were at fault, although it did not openly say so.

The thread-starter posed the following questions:
Is SIA trying to appease the Taiwanese authorities? Are they disassociating themselves from the 2 pilots from future civil actions and embarassment? Or are they being 'considerate, kind and smart enough' in helping the pilots escape their suspended sentence?

My take:
If SIA was trying to appease the Taiwanese authorities, then it suggests that it had a guilty conscience. If not, it did not need to appease anyone, for the world-class reputation it held.

If they were disassociating themselves from the two pilots from future civil actions and embarrassment, then SIA indeed felt that the two pilots' incompetencies or failure to exercise proper judgement when flying had got them into hot soup, which means they did think that the pilots were at fault.

If they had been considerate and kind and smart enough in helping the pilots escape their suspended sentence, it suggests that SIA was sure that they would not be able to absolve responsibility from the accident if the pilots were sued by the Taiwanese authorities. This also points to the fact that they themselves thought the pilots were guilty of the fault.

Nobody would want to take the blame since it involved millions of dollars, and possibly more importantly, public confidence in the airline or airport would be shaken.

Of course, I am talking on hindsight. I won't know for sure what exactly transpired since I was neither the pilot nor someone working in the control tower.

The accident took 83 lives. It must have been a living hell for those alive.

I still remember a surviving passenger recounting,"The person seated beside me was shot up in flame all of a sudden." The image of that recounted scene was so vivid it would pop into my mind from time to time. I can imagine how traumatising that experience of watching someone who sits just beside you being burnt alive is.

I remember that SIA flight stewardess who could have escaped unscathed, but went back to help the passengers and had herself scourged on her face. Eventually, and miraculously, she got her pretty face back. She said she did not regret going back to help others. The horribly skeptical me wondered if she would say the same thing if she were disfigured by the incident. Something tells me she would - the interview she had when she was first burnt impressed me. She was calm and continued to reply the questions posed despite the burn.

Many flight attendants were badly traumatised. They could not go back to work for months.

I remember reading about them asking for the same paycheck for the months they were traumatised partly as compensation for the ordeal they went through. I am not sure if they got it. I hope they did.

Please, Sir, can I retire?

Minister Mr Lim announced that the retirement age may be raised.

... ...

It was 62. They announced that we should work till we are 65. It will be implemented in 2012.

The date of implementation is more than a year from now, and they could not wait to raise the age of retirement yet another time, to 68.

Now, Mr Lim, if my jobscope is like yours, and drawing the kind of salary that you do, I would be really happy to push my retirement age back.

In fact, I would be reluctant to retire at all. I would be able to emulate our beloved father of the nation and say,"I don't intend to retire." Or better still,"Retirement? What's that?"

The reason given for the raise in retirement age is absolutely valid:
We need to work longer as our life span increases and we need to accumulate more for our old age.

For the kind of money we are making, we would probably have to work till we are 80 even.

People who suggest that we should work past 60 should really become teachers for once.

Let's see you hold onto this job till 60.

For an average Singaporean, his job does not go past $5k per month. The person who suggested raising retirement probably cannot understand why we don't want to work for as long as we can. More relevant questions would be: would our employers pay us as much as our younger counterparts when we are in our 60s? Would we be able to cope with the demands of the job in our old age? Would our employers even want us in our old age?

Or do we have to work at (in all due respect) McDonald's as cleaners to earn our meagre keeps so that we can continue to live miserably?

Such ridiculous suggestions made by people who live in the ivory tower are akin to asking people to eat bird's nest for lunch when they don't have rice to eat.

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Out of ICU, finally

I visited my English Boss on Tuesday night, minutes before the visiting hour was over.

She's transferred to a five-bedder normal ward after another major operation to remove the swelling of her right brain.

Instead, she has a dent on the right side of her head now. Part of her skull was removed.

The husband said that they would restore the missing skull part using cosmetic surgery.

When I saw her from outside the ward, she was lying on her right side, with her eyes fixated on the machine connected to her finger by a cable.

When I stood beside her, her eyes did not shift.

I began to talk to her. The patient beside her stared at me, surprised that I was talking to someone non-responsive, or perhaps she was simply surprised at me making rhetorical speeches.

My Boss is really skinny now. She used to be really slim. Now, she's plain skinny. Her calves are easily half of mine. Her head was unproportionate to her body. After close to 2 months of being on a drip, she should be.

She looked unhappy.

I wonder if it could be because she doesn't like me to visit her so often. Given her perfectionism, could she not want me to see her in that state?

I bought a reddish-orange gerbera for her. I hope that when she becomes aware, she will be greeted by a cheerful flower.

I put it in a bright pink Ikea vase meant for single flowers.

There wasn't any extra place for me to place the vase, so I put it on the feeding table.

According to her husband, she could not be fed by mouth yet, nor has she made any sound. She doesn't seem to be aware or responsive still.

She will probably be discharged soon since there is no further treatment.

A colleague asked if she would have to undergo yet another operation to replace the missing skull portion before she is discharged.

I hope not. 6 major nero operations within 2 months. Isn't that too cruel?

Saturday, 23 October 2010

Review on Puppy Money 小狗钱钱

I devoured this book within 2 or 3 hours yesterday in between my late lunch.

The Chinese synopsis, straight from the back of the book:
What it's about:
Jiya is a 12-year-old girl who lives with her financially strapped parents. She loves dogs and finds an injured dog lying just outside her house one day.
Subsequently, the dog becomes her pet and she named the dog '钱钱', inspired by the father's exasperated lament of 'Money! Money! ...'
One day, she discovers that the dog could talk and communicate with her. The dog goes on to become her finance educator. He teaches her about the four laws of success, gets her to list her three most important dreams and pen down her each successful step. He also teaches her about wealth distribution and accumulation. One thing leads to another and Jiya becomes a little rich girl by the end of the book.
It's written by 博多·舍费尔, apparently a renowned financial expert who gives wealth management talks and writes books educating people and children about finance management around the world. I thought it strange though, that I am not able to find an English translation for even his name. Not in wikipedia either.
There are some sound advice in the book though:
1) Save 10% to 50%, depending on one's comfort level, of your income.
When it says 'save', it really means 'savings'. That means you don't touch it whatsoever. Not saving up to buy anything. It's purely for savings purpose, so that it can eventually be your goose which lays golden eggs. The idea behind this is to make your money work for you eventually.
An adult financial advisor Jiya meets in the book advised her to save at least 10%, but both Jiya and the financial advisor save up 50% of their income.
2) Set aside money for your dreams.
Whatever dreams you have, set aside a separate account or piggy bank for it and save up separately from your goose savings.
Jiya has two dreams: to go to California for a holiday and to buy a laptop.
She saves up 20% of her income for each of her dreams. In total, she saves 40% of her income for these two dreams.
She spends 10% of her income as pocket money.
3) List the 3 most important dreams you have
It teaches you to focus on what is important and work towards it. The dog 钱钱said that most people focus on what they can't do and earn money by that. They feel that they should not make money by doing what they enjoy.
I was shocked to read that, because that's me! I reflected on what it says and thought about my past jobs, my past experiences. Haven't I been focusing on what I can't do and try to be better at them? And I am trying to do this to Coco! She loves painting, and I don't approve of her painting and drawing. *Gasp!*
Haven't I thought the same way too? That one should not get paid for doing what one loves. Oh dear! I haven't realised how scary this mindset is till yesterday.
4) Start a 'Success Diary' and list the positive steps you have made every day
I find that a challenge, as predicted by钱钱. I will try, but I have to start doing that really soon. In his words, if you don't start on an idea within 72 hours, you will never start on it.
5) Poverty gives people more problems than wealth does.
If you can't handle the little money that you have, you can't handle big money when it comes, and big money will not come your way if you can't handle the little money that you have.
Many think that money is the root of all evils, which many others know is not true. We say that, instead, the love of money is the root of all evils. However, the book says that it depends on the character of the person who handles the money. If it is a good person, he will use wealth to everyone's benefit; if it is a person of a bad character, he will only use it in foolish or evil ways. And stolen money will never last. Robbers and thieves think that money will solve their problems, but in fact, they will find themselves having more problems than ever after the crimes.
For a finance idiot like me, this is a great read. It educates me on the things I knew but never realised the impacts. It is supposed to be a fairytale version of 'Rich dad poor dad'. However, I have never read the adult and realistic version of it, so I'd never know.

Desire turned Dream

Like I said in one of my latest posts, I have put up my blinds for sale online.

This morning, I dreamed of a couple coming down to my place to check out the blinds. They were very thorough and were especially particular about the transparency of the blinds. They used various devices to poke at my blinds to see if they would let in too much light.

After checking repeatedly, they were happy with the blinds and paid the original price of the blinds to me. I remembered we agreed on half the price instead, but since the guy wanted to pay me the full sum, I gave him back a hundred and he was happy that he got a bargain.

When I woke up, I looked at my blinds. They were, and are, still standing outside my bomb shelter.

They are custom-made. I doubt I will sell them off that easily. But nevermind, I'll keep them anyway.

Tiredness, unexplained

I have been feeling incredibly tired.

It is strange because I have never felt this way about marking.

For the past few days of marking, I would feel totally physically drained by the time I reached home. In fact, I would be already closing my eyes half-dozingly on my colleague's car and getting some rest on my way home.

By the time the clock struck 10, I would lie sprawled on the bed and be knocked out by then. I woke up at 6am the first day and second day, afraid that I would be late. I woke up at 5.30am on the third and fourth day and today, I woke up at 4.58am! I still feel kinda tired though.

I am not sure why. I keep asking myself the possible reasons for the exhaustion:

1) Was I tired out?
No. It was only marking. Even if it's vigorous marking, I have never felt this way before.

2) Is it age?
Could be, but it's only marking. I don't need to use my energy to stand, or scream or get angry or even suppressing anger. So why should I feel tired?

3) Is it depression?
Exhaustion is a sign of depression. After all that has happened to me at work, I wonder if depression could have hit me, unknowingly. Sometimes I feel that depression has become so much a part of my life that I am not aware that I am depressed.

4) Can I have some unknown sickness?
Given my age, and after listening and seeing all the unfortunate happenings to the people I know, I am starting to wonder if I could have some infirmities in me. I have read that extreme or constant fatigue is a sign of this and that cancer.

5) My mother's usual suspicion: are you pregnant?
Impossible. I am not Virgin Mary.

Even for yesterday, we finished marking at 8.30am, half an hour we started work. After that, we just hung around and waited for the release at 1.45pm.

When I got home, after collecting some dang dang books (China website) from a spree organiser at Bishan, I felt really tired and wanted to sleep. I rested and finished reading a new book before I took my baby to my sister's place, where my mother was. But by the time I reached the place, I was also very tired.

Some markers said that the waiting made them tired. One said she dozed off in her boyfriend's living room without realising it the previous day.

If there is really nothing wrong with my physical health, my only explanation for my constant exhaustion these few days was that it was too relaxed, compared to the all-day highly-strung stressful work in school. When you are constantly on the go and doing work all the time, thinking about things at work all the time, it can be a drastic change to tune your physio and physco modes to a slower pace.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

In love with marking

The official PSLE marking exercise is carried out over these four days, with tomorrow being the last day.

Contrary to how most people in my line of work feel about it, I look forward to the marking exercise every year.

I was actually disappointed that I did not get to mark during the year I had my baby, and the following year that I was made to stay in school to pack P1 orientation packages, which was basically a no-brainer job.

Why? Despite my age, I enjoy learning. I feel that I gain insight on how marking is carried out for each marking exercise I go to. To have an idea of the standard of Singapore students' writing is refreshing, although it is also horrifying at the same time, especially when the high standard serves nothing but a hellish contrast to my school's students'. Teaching students how to answer questions and knowing what makes an answer acceptable or unacceptable is enlightening.

Some teachers dread these four days. Reasons given: you have to be confined in this place from 8am to 5pm; it's only marking, not teaching.

For me, I like the marking, even if it's a marking marathon. You mark till the parts that hold the pen hurt, and the shoulders ache.

It's tranquil. Nobody to accuse you of doing anything unethical for no fault of yours. Nobody to irritate you by jumping up and down in a classroom. Nobody to fight with you to get heard. I love the peacefulness of it. Totally. Don't have to get angry over recalcitrant brats. Don't have to be upset over lost books or worksheets.

Tomorrow is the last day of the exercise. Kinda sad that it's going to be over so soon. If there is a job like this, I would jump at it and never look back. Four days is just too short.

In another four weeks, the term will be over. And then the school will close after one more week. I hope I can hold out till then ... ...

'Bad service' dream

I just woke up from a 'bad service' dream.

I dreamt that I met up with a friend at IMM in Jurong, and we went to a Chinese family restaurant similar to 三盅两件.

Our first order was a glass of barley. The waitress served us the drink (yes, just one - it's a dream) and wanted to collect the money for just the drink. It was $3.20. Yes, my dream is that vivid, and the vividness is not isolated to just this dream.

When I took out $3, the waitress said in a demeaning tone that $3 was not enough to pay for the drink, what with the service charge that was not added in yet, but she refused to tell me what the service charge was.

After that, she continued to be rude - she half-threw, half-slided a dish onto my table.

I got angry and treated her the same way, but sliding my glass of barley across the table. She saw that and did not want to come back to my table to take my order.

A manager came by instead.

He heard me out and appeared to be empathetic.

Then suddenly, he took out a back-scratching device and started to chop up our dishes which were some buns cooked in different styles. I protested, saying that it was unhygienic, but the manager insisted it was not.

I screamed that I did not order those dishes and I would do something drastic if he dared to give me those dishes.

After that, he went to the kitchen to bring us more dishes.

While he was in the kitchen, we stopped a young waitress in her track to give us the bill.

She gave us a figure: $9.90 for a plate of fried rice and barley water.

I requested for a receipt and she panicked, like I was being a customer from hell.

Just then, a blind customer came in through the door.

The young waitress immediately treated her like a VIP ie. helped her change into another pair of shoes, supposedly to aid her in walking, and guiding her to a seat.

As I watched how they treated the visually impaired customer, I wondered if I had been a difficult customer myself ...

Then I woke up. It felt so real.

Monday, 18 October 2010

An Angel on Earth

Isn't she a darling?

I was telling William that Baby doesn't look like a two-year-old. Other toddlers around her age have a more 'grown up' look but my baby still looks very much like a baby. I hope I am making sense but she is still keeping her babyish features ie. her eyes, puffy cheeks, button nose, cherry mouth, and her fine, brownish babyish hair.

Incidentally, the babysitter made the same comment yesterday. She said that strangers thought she was younger than the other baby who was 10 months younger, until she stood up.

But I love her baby looks. I wonder how long I will get to keep this babyish looks. I have the same wish as I did when I had Coco: Don't grow up, till I press the 'grow up' button on you!

Getting Sentimental about Things You're about to Lose

I get really sentimental about things that are with me for some time.

An example is the window blinds at my balcony.

They were custom-made 3 years ago for Home Decor Survivor. It cost us close to $300 for this pair of beautiful blinds. I adore the walnut colour and the dainty and intricate checks on the blinds.

They look really at home on the balcony and I love the burst of sun they let in when pulled up all the way.

I like the aesthetic touch they add to the house in the morning and afternoon. However, come night time, they don't do privacy any justice.

With lights, the blinds are not forgiving to their owners' privacy. Anybody opposite our flat would be able to have a full albeit translucent view of our messy house. Even if you want to pick your nose or put your feet up on the table, you'd hesitate to do it in full view of unknown peeping Toms.

I was quite torn between taking them down or keeping them. But I decided to take them down eventually as I miss the privacy the conventional curtains give, and I thought if I ever want to set up a home studio or shift my couch and TV up the platform, I ought to get the curtains up again. Having the blinds there will make TV-watching uncomfortable for sure. As it is, I am already feeling self-conscious when the blinds are a platform away from us.

So yesterday, my handyman neighbour took down the blinds and put up the curtain tracks again with the help of a screwdriver.

'Should I, or should I not?' moment ... Viola! The soft and private curtains are back!

It must have taken me a good 2 or 3 hours just to iron those curtains! They were awfully crumbled after being crushed under other trash in the storeroom for 3 years. But when I saw the dreamy organza flowing in the wind, I felt a certain sense of happiness. Curtains are as beautiful, but with more privacy.

I put up the blinds on the internet to sell, but I find myself feeling a wee-bit sad when there was a query about their dimensions. I started to think of reasons I didn't have to sell them off: 1) Perhaps when I am sick of curtains, I can put the blinds up again. 2) If I don't sell them off, I won't have rooms for regret. Next time I can always have them anytime I want. 3) Will I regret selling them off? 4) Actually, they don't take up a lot of space. I can put them aside in the storeroom. 5) They are really beautiful you know? I usually don't find wooden blinds beautiful, but this is an exception. It's a great find.

The only reason for selling them off is practicality. I don't fancy storing things at home actually. Like clothes, someone once said if you have not worn them for one or two years, it's unlikely that you'll ever wear them again. So ditch them.

The only way I can ever convince myself to give or sell away some things is to tell myself that the item is better off with an owner who has a real need or want for it. The new owner will better appreciate it than I do.

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Happy Two!

It was Baby's 2nd birthday.

For some reason, I always have some grand plan of sourcing for her ultimate birthday cake months ahead, but never got any confirmed. In the end, I rushed to order a cake just 3 or 4 days in advance. How ironical, yet typical of me!

My beloved mother brought me the ingredients for cooking Baby's mee sua - a Hokkien tradition for a loved one's birthday.

Ingredients: garlic, shallot, two hardboiled eggs, slices of Chinese mushrooms, pork and mee sua (In case I forget how to prepare the mee sua in future)

The Minnie-theme cake I sourced on the web with our once-a-year shot
The sister lit the candles The pretty cake

An excited Baby
"Blow the candles!"

Isn't she an angel with that smile?

Yum Cha Express delivery. They were piping hot when they arrived!

Pine Garden's Citrus Drop (top tier) and Hazelnut Chocolate Crunch (bottom tier)

The birthday girl is tired

My kids' birthday celebration is always another reason for the adults to gather and the kid-cousins to play together.

Very exhausting I must admit, but the end results are almost always satisfying, especially when you see that everybody is happy with the food, and the amount of it.

Baby seemed to know that everybody was singing the birthday song to her. She responded really excitedly - she kicked her legs in excitement and laughed aloud while in my sister's arms. It was cute to see.

Happy Two, my baby!

Verdict on the cake:

Citrus Drop - The commercial description is definitely superior to its actual taste. It is quite sour. More sour than sweet. I'll definitely skip it the next time.

Hazelnut Chocolate Crunch - I wouldn't scream over it. It is okay. The chocolate sponge is ... well ... chocolatey, with layers of pale chocolate cream and chocolate chips for that crunchy bite. Not phenomenal though. I'd much prefer the other chocolate cake ie. Bailey's chocolate crunch, which I'd skipped due to its equally superior price.

As usual, the cream is thick for the purpose of decoration. I like the colours and the fact that Pine Garden was able to meet my demands of the cake. I emailed them pictures and explained in details how I wanted the cake to be like.

But I appreciate Pine Garden's step of faith in trusting its customers by delivering the cake to their doorstep without the need for them to go down to the shop to place a deposit first.

I thought it'd be perfect if Pine Garden is not so sticky over copyright issue. I'd wanted a Minnie Mouse's pair of ears on the cake, behind the ribbon, but they'd insisted that it would be tantamount to an infringement of copyright should they emulate it. Quite a damper there.

Yum Cha Dim Sum - Despite the mistake of substituting another dim sum I could not tell what it was for glutinuous rice with chicken, I have to give credit to Yum Cha for arriving steaming hot. The dim sum spread was more than sufficient for 12 adults and 4 kids. In fact, we could not finish them. Because of the massive amount of food, I suspect I ate myself silly and did not entirely enjoy the taste of the food. Not much different from the ones we have at the restaurant itself I felt. Besides, it was rather cold when we started tucking in. The food arrived a little over 7pm but the guests only fully arrived at after 8pm

But I must say the delivery guy was not all pleasant. He looked miffed (over what I don't know) and heaved a sigh of ... unhappy relief as he placed the load of dim sum on the floor before he laid the table.

Thursday, 14 October 2010

My English Superior




为什么这样不幸的事情会发生在她身上?为什么会这样?为什么在这个时候发生?如果她没怀孕,是不是就不会这样?为什么好人没好报?为什么 。。。





Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Wee Nam Kee Chicken Rice 威南记鸡饭餐室

After picking up Coco at her enrichment centre last night, we ate at Wee Nam Kee Chicken Rice (威南记鸡饭餐室)opposite Novena Church. We were hungry and tired and it was late. We didn't have many choices. But my sister sang praises of this place, so there we went.

The Mainlander server took our order: steamed chicken, $11.

When the chicken came, there was a chicken wing on top of the dish. We started eating.

To our horror, beneath that one and only chicken wing, which was only just the mid joint and the tip of the wing itself, the rest were all breast meat!

Even when we packet chicken rice home, we would order chicken drumstick rice, or worse comes to worse, chicken without breast meat.

Now, the whole plate was breast meat! Imagine our dismay.

The last few pieces of thick, dry breast meat that no one could bring herself to down

And the cucumber slice feedback cum silent protest I left behind

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Pushed over the limit

I replied the lawyer to confirm the facts I gave him in our last meeting after 3 weeks he emailed me.

Even up till that point, I was still trying to give him yet another last chance.

I was trying to see if he would really change.

Indeed, what we said about him came true. He handed me his money for a few instances. After that, no more.

His debts remained huge. I only managed to pay off $1000 to Standard Chartered in August. He promised to give me $2000 every 29th of the month. But no, he 'don't have the money'. Expectedly.

The last incident was the breakdown of the washing machine.

It's been two weeks since it broke down.

It's beyond repair.

He bought a second-hand washing machine. I was against it even before it came. I bought second-hand furniture because they were cheap and faults would be obvious to the naked eye. But I would not buy a second-hand electrical appliance because you never know how it was handled. And if it'd worked well, why would the owner sell it?

He insisted that the store was 'reputated' and the washing machine was a 'trade-in', so it would be in working condition.

But no. The washing machine didn't budge beyond the second stage.

I said,"I told you so." (Yeah, I know it's hated, but he never listens to his wife. So I had to say it.)

Then he got the man to replace something inside the washing machine and promised that it would work.

No still. It was still at the same fault.

Then the person promised him a cheap washing machine. I told him to get a refund.

All the while, I was handwashing my clothes. Already very frustrated.

Then he went down to the stores to look at the washing machines himself.

I just felt very ... sad, for a lack of better word, about our marriage.

I have been wanting to watch Julia Roberts' new show. But I don't have a company.

Which couple doesn't shop for a washing machine together?


I asked myself why our marriage is in such a sad state?

The only answer I have: this is not a marriage.

A marriage without sex, money, love, trust, faith, good words, future ...

I asked myself if those two years of happiness during courtship had worth the many pains and agony I've gone through for these five years.

I asked myself if Coco going to a good school has been worth all my misery for marrying a jerk.

I had told myself I would put up with the loneliness of being a single mother when I decided to have Coco, but this loneliness and frustration of being married to a lousy husband has been absolutely tormenting. I asked myself if it's really the loneliness that I cannot handle, or is it the daily frustrations of being with such a man that is causing me to break down.

I feel that being married to him has hurt me in all ways, even in my job. I suspect that his bad reputation had reached the ears of the bitch or even my First Boss to make them feel that I deserve a D since he was a triple D case.

By divorcing him, I will lose the flat, and my home studio will never come true. I'll probably really have to slog in a job I hate forever. I know I might lose Baby since it'll be difficult for me to keep two kids.

Even so, I know, in my heart of hearts, the divorce has to be done. Sooner or later.

Saturday, 9 October 2010

Insecure about photography?

I dreamt that I had a rude shock when I opened my photo album. The pictures were all gone!

I have quite a few 5-pieces-of-4R-per-page photo albums just for the past one year alone. Among them was an album specially for Coco's photographs. When I opened that one up in my dream, I was horrified to find that the photos have gone missing.

In the dream, I was too shocked for words. My babysitter was equally dumbfounded when she saw me panic.

I haven't been taking photos actually. I have been reading up on strobes and studio photography. I wonder if that could have contributed to the insecurity portrayed in my dream.

Friday, 8 October 2010

Fall from great height

Some time ago, I dreamt of myself falling from great height.

The fall was petrifying. As I fell, I kept asking myself if it was a dream or reality. And I was going down, down, down ...

As I hit the ground, I woke.

A nightmare no less.

Wednesday, 6 October 2010


Coco didn't do very well for her Chinese Paper One (composition) yesterday.

She didn't complete it in fact. She said that the classroom clock was down and she didn't have a watch with her. As a result, she left the last paragraph undone.

I was quite disappointed, but there was nothing I could do.

Today, I had her practise her English composition. I gave her a three-picture fire scenario and gave a time allowance of 50 minutes.

To my pleasant surprise, I thought she wrote very well for a 10-year-old.

Her work:

"Sniff, sniff!" "What's that smell?" I thought as I walked towards the block of flats I lived in. It was quite late at night and I had just returned home, tired out, after a whole day spent at the zoo as a school excursion. The moon was shining so brightly, that I looked up to admire it. Suddenly, I noticed, beside the moon, there was a huge billow of black smoke! "How strange ..." I thought, I looked at the black smoke closely and relised that the smoke was coming from Mother Earth! With a dawning horror, I knew in a flash, what was happening. Black smoke could only mean one thing: Fire! And it was nearby too! I decided to go there and see how big the fire was ... ...

As I came in to sight of the fire, I stopped in my tracks. A shophouse was burning up! The place was engulfed in smoke! It was Uncle Lin's shophouse that was burning up! I had a crush on Bethany, Courtny and Faith's sister Hope for the longest time I could remember! I hope the Lin family were out. Suddenly I remembered to call the fire brigard. I whipped out my cell phone and called the fire brigard ... ...

Suddenly, I heard a distant scream, familiar to my ears. It was Hope's voice. I heard a "Help!". It was Hope calling for help! Muttering a fast prayer under my breath, I turned to look at the shophouse. Hope was trapped on the upper level of the shophouse! I felt my jaw fall open. Hope! I whispered a prayer that before the fire got to her, the fire brigard would come ... ...

"Ee-aw, ee-aw!" the fire brigard's sirens could be heard. The firemen extinguished the burning inferno while the captain had went to the window which Hope was at just now and carried her down. I was releved that Hope was not hurt. Hope thanked me for calling the fire brigard and I started dating Hope. It turned out that Hope's mother had forgotten to turn off the stove and thus caused a fire. Hope learned never to trust her mother with anything flammable and I learned that the old saying of if you do a good deed, you will be rewarded is true!

(red font - mistakes; blue font - my addition)

I like how the writing made me laugh out loud. I haven't been tickled by a piece of writing for too long. I thought it cute to add the 'crush' bit and how 'I' ended up dating Hope for the good deed I did, and Hope's learning never to trust her mother with something flammable again.

I am almost proud that Coco is developing her style of writing. The pictures came in a model composition assessment book, but she did not even bother to check out the 'pompous' - as some people call it - or bombastic vocabulary used in the model compositions.

I do notice that she has a preference for '... ...' . In fact, all her first three paragraphs end with the same punctuation mark.

Having been a Paper One marker at the all-important PSLE exam, I had a nasty surprise at how high a standard many children's writings were. I remember feeling totally uneasy and worried about my school kids' composition results at PSLE as I marked those fantastic scripts. Compared to these scripts, my school kids are at Primary 2 or 3 standard of writing. They won't be able to match that kinda standard for another ten years.

The marking experience made me do a reality check and decide to send her for enrichment lessons on her supposedly-already-good English. I guess it was a wise decision after all. It has so far piqued her desire to be better in the language to match up to the centre's standard.

And for the writing that I see now, boy am I glad to say that for once in my life, I think I've made a right decision. Of course, she might have developed her writing ability on her own, but it doesn't matter to me. I needed her to know that for something that's already great, it still has room for improvement.

(Talking about 'room for improvement', I better start preparing student's remarks for the year-end result slips!)

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

This is Life

Every once a week when I take my elder kid to her enrichment class, I would pop over to visit my Boss who is still heavily sedated in an ICU ward.

Our close working relationship is only part of the reason I visit her so frequently. Another part of the reason is I feel that to a large extent, her stroke not only affected her destiny, it also has a great impact on mine.

If not for her stroke, I would not get a D. She would be at the management meeting to speak up for me for the amount of work I have done and the academic impact I have made on the upper levels.

If not for her stroke, I would not contemplate quitting. All along, I thought I would be a teacher till I die, amidst the grumbling and grouses.

Whenever I visit her, I think about how she would feel if she could feel, how she would think if she could think, how things would be very different for me and for her if not for her stroke, how life indeed makes sport of us, albeit in a not-so-funny way, when she will be able to get up and walk, when she can start on a physiological therapy to ensure her mobility, when she will regain her senses.

When she called me on 24 August and asked if everything was alright, I was tempted to tell her that I was given a D. But I thought it not exactly appropriate since she wasn't my sup and was on her maternity leave. I thought that she would be informed about it when she returned to work in October anyway, and she would be able to speak up for me then.

It was only a matter of days, and she fell to a stroke. And my fate, and hers, were sealed.

I wish I could say that life is unfair, juvenile as it sounds. Yet I know: this is life.