Eat, Work and Sleep, the Lack of

So I’ve only been on the job for three days and already I want to quit. Or at least, there’s a small part of me that screams out that this 5-buck-an-hour sale-of-soul isn’t worth it.

And I know which part of me that is. It’s the part that wants to have 8-hour-long nights again.

Since the job requires me to purchase, in the wee hours of the morning, newspapers to read and mutilate, I have taken to setting my alarm clock (and handphone, and watch alarm) to the ungodly hour of 0600hrs (which is still an hour later than I should be waking up). I haven’t woken up so early since my army days, and I definitely haven’t taken to the streets so early since my days in Singapore’s meat-grinder-education-system. My body rebels against this by shutting down in the most unexpected ways. Whilst transferring milk from carton to cup, I fell because the milk unbalanced me, something that sounds pathetic but is entirely plausible when you experience it. And it was low-fat skimmed milk too. I laughed when I was on the floor , because what else can you do when you’re lying on the floor with low-fat milk all over yourself?

Walking blearily through the streets before the sun is up, I look at the little kids going off to school, so excited and happy, and wonder if any of them will end up like me, a wastrel with minimal wage. I look at the mothers towing their kids along, looking as bleary-eyed as I do, and wonder if I will ever have a kid for whom I will have to wake up at 6am in the morning (if only to strangle, so I can go back to sleep). I look at the white-collar workers who buy the papers from the same store I do and wonder if I will have to wake up this early forever, doomed to a life of hating alarm clocks and having dreams of getting sufficient sleep (a cruel joke, if ever here was one).

I want to sleep. And this time, it’s not metaphorical.


On the bright side, the job has me learning so many new things!!! (in my most non-sarcastic voice)

On the news a lot these past few days has been the topic of quality service. I read the articles and weep, for they represent Singaporeans so. You see, it’s a simple enough topic that every ah soh ah ma has to give their 3-cents worth on the issue. And you can differentiate between the Singaporeans and foreigners, almost every Singaporeans equates good service with free meals or refunds when the server is bad, and has little to say on smiling and being looking you straight in the eye.

A related issue that has been brought up is that only good customers get good service (supposed premise that white men get better service in Singapore). This notion has outraged several readers, who believe that good service should be impartial and available to every customer who is kind enough to pay their poor waiter to serve them at the table. These people are invariably Singaporeans whom I doubt have ever worked in the service industry. Not that I have any empirical evidence of people who have never done service being worse customers, in fact I’m sure programmers make pretty good customers (sit in a corner, speak very little and eat pizzas).

In any case, I guess I must have been a pretty lousy waiter. I have never refunded anyone for their meals (though I have never gotten the orders wrong), I never smiled generously and made jokes at the table, nor did I ever compliment my customers’ choice of orders. But what can I say? They were all snotty cheapskates anyway who never did go for the lobster and were unlikely to tip.

Wherein Life Gets Messy

It’s a new design! I got this up after comments made me realize my blog is visited by people other than the tasteless gundus I call my friends (just look at their blogs). Errrm. If you’re reading this Mr Jean-Michael I’m sorry about my comment about your standard of English, believe me when I say it’s much much better than the standard of many people living in non-English-as-primary-language countries. Like above-mentioned friends, whom I have the feeling will be commenting in perfect grammar and an extensive vocabulary of expletives soon.

The new job I got, though I may not whisper of it’s purpose or nature, has much to do with newspapers. If Mother dearest had known that paying me a couple of bucks an hour would get me to sit down and read newspapers so enthusiastically I think she would have done it, in one of her insidious attempts to enrich the educations of her children.

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As a result of the newspaper-reading my room is now a mess of scattered knowledge. This being the result of only the first day’s work, I shudder to think what my room will look like at the end of next week.


Sadly, my earphones died today. The end was long-overdue, having lasted an incredible five years with me, but I did love them so. You see, my ears have the annoying attribute of being one larger than the other, and possessing slightly larger-than-normal ear… holes. The earplug-variety earphones (what are those called?) just slide out, and the type that sit behind your head irritate my right. I went through a whole bunch of earphones five years ago before finding I found one as gentle and kind on my ears as my just-passed (much to the benefit of my siblings, who are blessed with normal ears, curse my parents!).

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So here’s a little post to remember you by – you brought me much aural pleasure with your two circles of soft liquid sound. I’ll miss you (at least until I get a new one).

(PS: this is not a plea for new earphones, however close my birthday may be. Please don’t get me new ones, unless you want my sister to be happy.)

The Hurricane and Sympathy

Hurricane Katrina looks set to claimed the lives of thousands of people as well as leaving up to a million homeless. Another typhoon hit Taiwan and eastern China (around Fujian, I think), killing 10 (as far as we know now) and causing up to 600,000 people in Taiwan and 500,000 in Fujian and Zhejiang to flee their homes.

But is it just me or is there a strange lack of sympathy for today’s sufferers? Where are the heroes to rush to the aid of the thousands in need? Where are the pledges of food and monetary support to countries devastated? Where are the aqua-green wristbands that cost S$2 and which teenagers over Singapore will snap up in their enthusiasm to assist the typhoon-sufferers? Amazon.com managed to get a donation link on their front page up and running within a day of the tsunami – but only recently decided, no doubt after many requests from customers to do the same for Katrina.

Are these people less deserving of help than those hit by the tsunami?

I’m tempted to think that the tsunami’s major impact wasn’t so much the numbers as the enormous amount of publicity it received. Perhaps it came in a period of dry media fodder, or perhaps (for me) it was closer to home, but the difference is palpable when you remember the 24-hour non-stop news reports of tsunami casualties.

Is it because of a numbers game? The Indian Ocean earthquake raked up over 100,000, whereas the recent Katrina and Talim will be lucky to get 10,000 frags. In accordance with a sympathetic theory of numbers I suppose we can then expect only a tenth of the effort raised to help the sufferers.

Or is it because the people hit are a superpower themselves? Do we think that there is nothing we can possibly do with our puny exchange rates and International Monetary Fund loans to help the drowning in New Orleans? Or, perhaps, has America Inc become nothing more than a daytime soap opera, with wars and people dying and magnificent plane-crash scenes? Are we bored of watching the Americans all the time?

(*Note* I hail from Singapore, which tolerates little nonsense and waste of resources. At worst, our most sexually deviant politician practices a “see, no touch” (as opposed to “swallow me NOW!) policy. Thus, life in other countries, especially their political mechanisms, always seem like soap opera material, with people dying, rioting, running around with weapons and screaming their beliefs. This is, I believe one of the effects of always hearing about peoples’ problems but never experiencing them. We’re “numbed by disaster”?)

Is it due to America’s unpopular foreign policies? Is the new US delegate to the UN such a sore-eye? Bush’s face so unliked?

Was it cheaper to help out in Aceh? I mean, a plane ticket to a third world country in South East Asia is a lot cheaper (for Singaporeans) than to an American state.

I can’t help but wonder.

Was the Asian Tsunami a one-off? Where is that line in a disaster, even in another country, that gets our hearts tugging?

(Not to say Singapore won’t do anything, of course – I’m just surprised that Singapore hasn’t done anything YET)

My Biological Clock

After tossing and turning around in bed for over an hour, I decided to just wake up and surf a bit. And… I found Google Talk!!! Granted, if I’d been /.ing as I used to I’m sure I’d have sene it earlier, but I’m only about a week behind the first post, which I guess I good for a hick living on a small island like me.

My contact list is empty for the moment, but if you do decide to use Google Talk add me! I’m at huangzhonghan@gmail.com. Errrm. I’m just hoping the Video messaging features will be better than VSkype’s.


Also found this website which has stolen my country’s name. Well, my country’s name in frenchm anyway. This is why you should do product name research before a launch, kids!

Wherein I Realize I Have No Life

It is now 2130hrs. Some party is going on somewhere and “I Hate Myself for Loving You” is playing.

I have to go to sleep in a half hour if I am to have any chance to wake up early enough to do my job tomorrow.

The full implication of the term “no life” has just struck me.


By the way, I kinda missed it but yesterday was Blog Day. You’re supposed to list 5 blogs you just discovered, along with descriptions, supposedly to incite people to expand their reading pool. Oh, and the blogs are supposed to be as far from your usuals as possible – so here goes:

Suicide Girls – ostensibly a porn site for guys (???) who like their girls “tatooed, pierced and bad”. How is this a blog site? Well, ummm… all the girls supposedly keep blogs. I recommend Sicily’s blog. It’s more read-worthy than the one-liners the other girls spout, which just goes to show that you can be an alternative rocker chick with attitude but still only have single-line thoughts.

09h09 – Blog by this french guy who takes pictures of himself every single day at 0909hrs. It gets a little boring after a bit, the da4 tou2 zhao4 (big-head pictures – selfportraits in which your head figures for most of the image) of this guy, but IT IS WONDERFUL FOR LEARNING FRENCH!!! He posts in both French and English (though I am unsure how good his french is – the english is bad). If nothing else, you got to admire his grit. 3 years worth of pictures since September 2002!

安替关于新闻和政治的每日思考 – Andy, an aspiring journalist living in Hong Kong analyses the latest news and politics. The entire site is in Chinese (english site has a single test post), which means I’ll only read it once a month when twinges of guilt for not being culturally-integrated. hit me and I require my daily doses of be-a-good-chinese-boy-verbiage. Just look at this little rant (if you can read chinese):

我常常批评中国。但在我心中我自己知道,中国人是最伟大的,一旦实现的民主一定是最伟大的民主,会再次吸引全球的华人回到中国,参加伟大的中华复兴。

Just sends shivers down your spine, don’t it? Well, it does mine.

Ashar Edith FLYing to ONEderland – a blog of a girl who tries to lose weight. If I say any more I will be arrested by the mean police and banished to a cold and dark place where my sarcastic comments will be heard only by the rats nibbling on my toes as I contemplate how I should have been nicer to people. So I’ll just say “You go, ‘girl’!” and we can move on to the next post.

Philosophy of Biology – it’s a blog about… Biology! Brownies for all those who got it right! Intelligent, with mostly popular scientists for posters. Mostly Americain, so there’s a lot there about the evolution debacle and environmental issues in America, but still a good place for the “hot” (my hands itch to do the inverted commas really really violently) gossip in the world of biology.

Okay! Those are my 5 new blogs!