Fast cars

Been rushing projects recently, which means I’ve been leaving office late.

Thankfully, my job pays for my late-night taxi rides home.

Unfortunately, recently I’ve been considering the wisdom in making these late-night quick-trips. Taxi drivers on the PIE after 10 always seem to go as fast as they possibly can without crashing, flipping their cars over and killing their passengers in the resulting explosion that ensues.

Today’s driver insisted on hugging cars half-again the size of his Standard Comfort Taxi, and overtook motorcyclists in a manner I can only describe as dangerous (I took to looking out for the bikes’ license plates, in the event I had to play witness). Yesterday’s driver got me home in 10-minutes on a route that normally takes 20. The day before’s looked like he was falling asleep–whilst going at 100kmph on an expressway.

And I can never bring myself to ask them to slow down. Somewhere in the back of my head there’s a part of me that doesn’t want the manly taxi drivers scoffing at me, to think of me as an effeminate woman-thing who, contrary to his god-given testorerone-al urges, refuses to hurtle down highways towards freedom! Freedom!


In reality, though, I think they would just ignore me. If the little shrieks and gasps I make don’t make them drive slower, I doubt asking in a small and frightened voice will.

It’s times like these that I’m grateful for the mandatory safety-belts installed in all Singaporean cars.

4 days to last day of work with Sony!

Birthdays suck

I don’t really like it when people send me Birthday messages, primarily because it puts an obligation on me to remember theirs, which I’m not really good at. I can’t even remember peoples’ names half the time.

It’s not that I have a bad memory–after six months of not having to use them, I can still remember my old company’s IP addresses and even SingNet’s DNS servers. It’s hardly my fault that people have such hard-to-remember names. If we all had 12-digit designations I’m sure there would be much less confusion and administration all round.

In any case, I received a call from Friend F, wishing me well on the passage of another disappointing year, and at the same time reminding me that his own was approaching(birthday, not disappointing-year). I lied with the standard Yes-I-remembered-of-course-we-are-such-good-friends-how-could-I-forget and made a mental note to check Friendster out.

Of course, I forgot.

So today, whilst I painted the window grills, giving myself a red-paint-high, I was suddenly struck with the realization that Friend F’s birthday might already be over. I vaguely remembered his star sign was Virgo (the only possible use of star signs is for the remembering of birthdays, in my opinion) and hidden somewhere in the dark recesses of my brain a small memory piped out that Virgo was Ending.

So I decided to check out Friendster, but as usual got sidetracked by the idea that it was so damned inconvenient to have to keep looking up peoples’ birthdays, and so I drew up an XML chart of my friends and relatives, with information on birthdays and such that I could put on my desktop and update when necessary. I then hosted on a little private site for future reference and started on an XSLT for easy viewing. I figured I could probably write a quick app to email me alerts.

Then I came across a stumbling block. Friendster doesn’t show birthday information anymore.

Now there’s just this silly little message that comes up if the person’s birthday is <= two weeks from today (as far as I can verify, but since I can’t remember any actual birthdays it’s a bad guess at best).

So now I have an XML file with a bunch of empty nodes and a half-complete XSLT.

Birthdays are so troublesome.


Sometimes people make reference to rabbits wrongfully, and I always feel it is my duty to correct them.

In the case of a Singaporean, it is most probably wrong to say that something will last as long as an Energizer Bunny. That is because Singaporeans have probably never seen the Energizer Bunny on television. The confusion stems from the fact that BOTH Duracell and Energizer, battery rivals, used bunnies as mascots.

Duracell’s bunny came first, as a cuddly little collector’s item and which most Singaporeans will remember seeing trotting along to some irritating tune. Energizer, however, also had a bunny as a mascot, though it was produced primarily as a parody of Duracell’s by-then already popular ads:

Duracell Bunny

Energizer Bunny

In Singapore, we have instead a musclebound anthropomorphic battery that serves as Energizer’s mascot, no doubt the result of a marketing team full of homosexuals with disturbing sexual deviancies.


Just so you know.

Wherein I express my fillial piety–or not

Whilst out at lunch at IMM, I came across a DVD sale. There wasn’t anything that I’d watch, but in a flash of fillial piety I decided to get Daddy a copy of æ°´æµ’ä¼  – The Water Margin, the characters of whom I happen to know he admires.


The volume I’d purchased turned out to be Chinese production (ie. from China) that was of some repute, according to Chinese-colleague. It was the most emotion I’d ever seen her express, when she noticed the box set in the plastic bag I carried. It reminded her of her family back in China, she said, because it was one of those television programmes they’d all watched together when she was but a wee innocent little girl. Which I found slightly strange, because I hardly thought that a tragic literary epic about a bunch of men engaged in bloody war against a corrupt government would have counted as family entertainment.


Encouraged by my seeming-interest in returning to my roots, Chinese-colleague then started to engage me in literary discourse about the Four Great Chinese Classical Novels, which consisted of her talking and me nodding occasionally. The only one I can safely attest to having any real knowledge of is the one with the monkey in it, and that’s only because I’d seen some cartoons and read a comic about it as a kid–I wasn’t sure if it was appropriate to admit to that. Her favourite was, as she recounted, was 红楼梦–Dream of the Red Chamber, of which I only had the vaguest idea was the prototype of the modern Taiwanese melodrama, with women crying in every scene. I said as much, after which Chinese-colleague stopped talking to me.

In any case, that the DVD-set I had purchased had been produced in China for a Chinese audience should have set of warning bells in my head, but I didn’t really think anything about it. Father was suitably moved when I presented him with it (he grunted something that sounded like “Mmk Ye”), and was also impressed by the fact that it had been well-received in China. Until later that night when we started watching it.

Because the series tries hard to remain faithful to the original text, much of the dialogue is unintelligible (as far as we’re concerned). Our initial viewing was peppered with cries of “What?” and “Huh?” Worse–the subtitles only come in traditional Chinese, which means my father has to pause it every time someone says something and look it up in a dictionary.

I think partly because he’s praised the work so much in the past, my father is unwilling to give up watching it despite the difficulty in understanding it–even scenes where the main character orders something from a waiter result in a flurry of dictionary-activity. Mother is very much irritated, because he’s crawling through it at a snail’s pace and hogging the television, meaning she can’t watch regular TV (Taiwanese drama serials involving women crying in every scene). I can’t stand to watch it together with him neither, because of the terribly slow pace at which he goes (I’m slightly better at reading traditional chinese) and having to read out every line after the actor has already said it (for Dad’s convenience in checking the dictionary) makes me feel like I’m at an audition for a play starring mentally-disabled people.

Unsurprisingly, this has not turned out to any kind of family entertainment at all. I’m even reluctant to say this is entertaining for Father. I think the next time we fall out I’ll buy him Romance of the Three Kingdoms.

Bad Rap

So when I was in France I remember seeing a lot of Michaël Youn–better known as Fatal Bazooka–on MTV, almost once every couple of songs or so. At the time, I thought it was rather strange that a middle-aged, slightly-overweight white French rapper could ever attain so much fame, until I paid somewhat more attention (MTV is more background-noise for me than actual entertainment) and I realized he was actually doing parodies. Par example, below is a clip of his music video for a rap called “J’aime trop ton boule”, which means “I love your ass too much”, which looks normal (if that is what can be said about our post-freedom-of-sexual-expression society) until about the second minute of the clip. (You don’t have to understand French to get the joke, it’s rather blatant.)

I guess it says something about the state of Rap that this guy actually gets primetime spots on MTV, and now there’s Schaffer the DarkLord (aka STD) on YouTube’s front page. This one’s called “The Rappist”, which sounds weirder than it looks.

Good for one laugh.

For some reason, along on the YouTube related links, together with some of STD’s comedy clips there are a lot of Turkish music videos attributed to (I’m thinking) another Schaffer The Darklord and his The Rappis Serdar Dansöz. No rapping in these, just a lot of the correct kind of boule. I think some Turkish fans are in for a surprise.

Pavarotti, dead

My parents, from the living room:

Mother: (watching the news) Old man! Pava-loti dead already leh!
Father: (reading something) Wah. Great soprano leh.

Then my father breaks out into some kind of yodel, possibly in adoring emulation of Pavarotti’s vocal ability.

I laughed, because:

  1. at first I thought my mother was talking about Papa Roti, the coffee-bread brand
  2. Pavarotti is not a soprano, he’s a tenor
  3. they probably wouldn’t be able to name a single thing he’s ever sung (in fact, the only thing I’ve heard him doing is some poorly-conceived duet with Celine Dion)

Here’s to a man who was a household name, even though less than a single percent of the world actually ever heard him sing.

Ticking my life away watching Magic Gourds

After painting the room, I put up a blue Ikea clock. It’s one of those cheap Ikea products that cost $2 and looked like a bargain until I started using it.


(note pinkness of walls–the colour is more-or-less how the entire room is coloured)

It might sound strange, but the clock TICKS VERY LOUDLY. In the quietness of my room the only sound I hear is its ticking.

tick . tick . tick .

It really gets to me, possibly because I’ve watched too many horror movies where ticking clocks portent impending death. I’m sure I’ve also read a few books where the main characters go mad listening to clocks ticking.

… I think I need a little more drama in my life. This drab and dreary existence leaves me clutching at straws.

Also went to watch The Magic Gourd with HS, because she had free tickets. Perhaps I should have asked what the movie was about before I agreed to go, because it became apparent within the first 30 seconds of the movie that it was for very little children, possibly between the ages of 4-8. The animation (the titular character was animated) was rather poor by today’s standards, and according to the ending credits was done by some Chinese studio. I find it unbelievable that Disney would lend its name to something so sub-par (the animation was done by Hong Kong studio Centro Digital Pictures), but even more unbelievable is the fact that it managed to make a whole million within two weeks, proof that Chinese kids can’t possibly have access to that much pirated content.

Still, I was rather fascinated by it purely because it was a movie localised for the Chinese (clarify: China-Chinese) market. The children in the movie looked to be no more than 10 years of age, but when in school were solving mathematical problems involving radii calculation that were, even for me, a little tricky. Long division involving non-integer numbers were calculated in their heads and it seemed to be the norm that the answer to 36.098 / 0.17 could be provided within seconds.

Even more fascinating were the communist undertones throughout the movie–the little children had to work in teams of 5 in school, their individual scores for every subject contributing to the performance of the team. The main character’s team, staring forlornly at the pitiful numbers of stars awarded to them on the class scoreboard, berated him for being lazy and “pulling us all behind”. There were scenes of children bent over models of bridges in what was ostensibly a craft class, industriously toiling to produce the infrastructure of the future despite the lack of any authority figure, which in itself is almost surreal, because we know what would REALLY happen if children were left unsupervised in a room with any amount of glue, straws and mounting-board.

I couldn’t stop thinking of Mulan, because it was so disparate.