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Valar Qringaomis

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Saturday, August 12, 2006

Now I know why there's a Finnish premium (HWMNBN's neologism) for Nokias.

My father wanted to set his Samsung SGH-X700 so when my mother calls, her picture will appear onscreen, but for some reason her number was not showing up for selection after choosing the picture, so he sought my assistance.

After some quick poking, I determined that only phonebook entries stored in the phone (as opposed to the SIM card), could be set as "caller id" (as they call it) pictures. I then copied my mother's contact from the SIM card to the phone; in the process I was presented with a screen with several text fields, which slowed down this task (this is a debatable UI decision, depending on whether users prefer just to copy contacts or to fill out the contact detail fields at the same time).

Unfortunately, there was no option to Move the contact, just to Copy. I was thus left with a duplicate contact on the SIM card, which I had to proceed to delete.

My father then asked me to copy all his contacts from the SIM card to the phone. Once again, there was no option to Move all, so I was left with 2 copies of each contact. Luckily they did include a "Delete all" option, so I could remove all the duplicates at once.

You'd think they'd at least invest money in finding out what their competitors had done - copying technology is, after all, cheaper than reinventing the wheel.


Migration from my old phone to my new one was imperfect. My whole gallery and maybe 60% of my SMSes got copied over, but my reminders seem to have been wiped. My contacts were in the SIM card, so that was one less thing to go wrong.

This is why there's still room for PDAs, even with today's phones.
"I felt like poisoning a monk." - Umberto Eco, on why he wrote the novel "The Name of the Rose."

***

Someone: i think a lot of my hangups have to do with the already formed cliques which also cant be helped since you've sat next to joe bloggs since you were like knee high in nanyang/rgps/ insert elite school name
but i also dont like the way the course is taught

it's not productive to teach law in an lt of 220 ppl
there's little engagement, and tutors dont encourage thought about the law
they just want answers to their tutorial questions

Me: hmm
well. even small facs have disadvantages
but lectures are lectures
it's like that in cambridge also

Someone: i like seminars, that's why i think i would rather have gone to a nice small liberal arts college

Me: heh
you can't skip seminars ;)

Someone: i wouldnt skip if i were engaged
the only things i look forward to in NUS is hall soccer, ivp soccer and hanging out with a few mad almost 3rd class kind of law students

Me: can I quote? ;)

Someone: go ahead i know you're dying to
i write things to entertain you

Me: LOL

wah lao
so it's not genuine *pout*

Someone: i can do a better pout
i must show you
i pout to get my way all the time... it's the most useful thing in the world

Me: we can have a competition tomorrow

Someone: lol
that will only happen if you get me drunk
which is not that likely

Me: I have nice luscious lips like shu qi
at least my Platoon Commander in obedience school said so

Someone: LOL
i knew it, no females really gets to you ppl
that's why i'm a big fan of coed schools
desperate army boys end up fantasizing about each other's luscious lips


Someone else: i was talking kierkegaard and whatnot to the last guy who told me about jesus.
and oooooh the frustration on his face.

Me: how come they target you

Someone else: they always target ri/rj boys these days
cause we're quiet and believe whatever we're told :D
don't know about girls
many ri converts.

Me: oh dear
that does not bode well for the future of our nation


Someone: I think
home is where the ps2 is

Me: hahahahah
for me it's where the broadband is

Someone: eh I get broadband anywhere
but home is where the non-firewalled broadband is
or rather, it has the firewall that I can control
the great firewall of NUS really pissed me off sometimes


Someone else: *status message: russell peters in singapore, anyone? oct 6th*

Me: serious ah
can he make racist jokes?
haha

Someone else: haha seriously.. i think he may get arrested
mabbe make jokes about *** being lazy bums..
"how do u disorientate a ***"
"put him in a round room

Me: hahahaha
foreign talent
won't lah

aren't racist jokes a large part of his repertoire

Someone else: haha! talent?
pls lor..he only does racist jokes

there's a latest clip...3 min segment on a show..laughing @ englishmen
he did that on an aussie talk show

Me: haha
just don't make fun of the races here

Someone else: sekali the whole show's boring
cos after censoring, he nothing to say liaoz

Me: precisely lor

or maybe foreigners can protest but locals cannot
so foreigners can make racist jokes but locals cannot

Someone else: ya cos "they are not stakeholders"

Me: no lah
even PAP logic is not that warped

probably something about creativity and loosening up on freedom of expression

it's just like how when our human rights record is blasted, we must stand up to evil imperialists otherwise they'll keep oppressing us till we're a colony again
but when US invades Iraq we're a small powerless country which values strong ties with them

Someone else: khaw boon wan said that the govt made a mistake with subutex...but "let's move on with it and learn from the mistakes"

of cos this logic only applies to govt
tell gomez that... :P


Someone: the pill basically makes you fat
it makes you really fat

Me: :0
so how many women use it?

Someone: among the ppl i know, not many

Me: so they use condoms?
the guys must be sad

Someone: most dont use, i know a lot of risk taking kinds

Me: :0
do they get pregnant?

Someone: and they take the morning after pill a lot
i dont know why, so bad for your hormones

Me: wah lao
it's worse than the pill right

so they take the morning after pill if the guy couldn't pull out in time

Someone: basically it tells your body to shed whatever lining it has in your womb quick

yeah

it makes you cranky and moody
and then since your body is confused, you end up having like 2-3 periods a month

Me: better than being fat huh

well it counters the effect of the semen making them happy I guess

Friday, August 11, 2006

I told the Cock not to make his meringue so early but he went ahead anyway.

So now it's collapsing while we haven't moved on to dessert yet.

Cock.
"Dear Students

The Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) is conducting a survey on job / career
preferences of our Singaporean youths today. This survey will enable MINDEF
to understand better your preferences and what you look for in a future
job / career."



Bloody hell. Unfortunately, "Slash my wrists and jump off the roof of OUB building" is not an answer. They might as well ask me which racial group should be cleansed from the surface of the earth first.
Chopping up a whole chicken is easier than it sounds, even if the chicken is half-frozen.


I thought of saving all the best parts of the chicken for my brother-in-law's ta pao box - the head, neck and feet, but the pot was too full already so I had to fish out the head and feet.

I couldn't find the neck though, so if he's lucky he'll get that part for next week.
Gah, I paid just over $10 for dried majoram, thyme and bay leaves (for tonight's co co van, but also for future use). I also bought 500g fresh garlic.

I figure that if I'm going to have to clean the floor on my knees each time, I might as well do the cooking right. Especially since I'm not doing it almost daily anymore.

This should also give me fodder to use on my brother-in-law, who always claims that I never pay for anything, but even though much of this will go to flavour his ta pao boxes, his selective memory will ensure that I will gain no capital by this act.

July trip: 4/7 - Rome (Part 1)

July trip
4/7 - Rome
(Part 1)

*This post was supposed to have some photos in it, but thanks to the incompetence/stupidity/laziness of a French Internet Cafe staff member in Nimes, they have been lost for eternity*

People complained that it was hot, yet they pulled a sheet over themselves when they slept. Strange.

I told the woman sleeping in my hotel room that I spent a whole day at the Louvre, and she asked, "Are you an artist?" Gah.

Rome possibly has even more grafitti than Berlin. Amazing.

At 8:35, there was already a very long queue to the Vatican Museums/Sistine Chapel, which opened only at 8:45. I entered the queue at 8:35, it started moving at 8:38, and although it moved quite fast, I only waltzed past the security checkpoint at 10:10.

I went to the Pinacoteca (picture gallery) first. Unfortunately it wasn't airconditioned since they were cheapskate.

*Nicolo e Giovanni - Il Giudzio finale (Last Judgment)*
2nd half of the 12th century

*Maniera di turino vanni*
Story of St. Margherita. c. 1400

*Melozzo da Forli - Apostol: e angeli musicanti (musicianangels)*

*Carlo Crivelli - La Pieta*
Mid-late 15th century
I think the sorrow was surprisingly unrestrained for the period.

*Ultima Cena Tapestry*

*Raphael - Crowning of the Virgin*
This was in the only air-conditioned room.

*Bellini - Il Seppellimento di Cristo (Lament over the dead Christ)*

*Paolo Caliare - St Helena*

*Raffaellino del Colle - Adoration of the Magi*
2nd third of the 16th century

*View out of the window*

*Caravaggio - La deposizione dalla croce (Deposition from the cross)*

*Orazio Gentileschi - Giudith (Judith and her handmaid with the head of Holofernes)*
Bloody hell. These were all undated.

The still life collection was laughable.

*Wenzel Peter - Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden*

Exiting the Pinacoteca, I found that there were many more galleries left (8 collections I wanted to see [ie No modern religious art], including the Sistine Chapel) in 5 hrs 10 mins, so I had to speed up my pace. The early Christian art section was closed, probably because they lacked the manpower. Oh well. From the description, it strangely all sounded like classical stuff anyway.

The ethnology section was special, since it had information and artefacts from the evangelisation of those areas.

*Taoist altar, 1904*

Tibet and Mongolia were closed.

*Our Lady of Japan*
Luca Hasegawa, 1927

*Copy of Nestorian Stele*
Found near Xi'an in 1627

*Virgin Mary with Child*
20th century, Taiwan

*Courtyard of the Vatican Museums*

There was this crazy guy taking pictures of signs pointing to the toilet (both male and female) and cafeteria. He must've had too much memory space on his camera.

The toilet bowls in the Vatican Museums had no seats so I had to sit on the bowl. Wth. This was not going to be the last time that I was forced to do this.

*Staircase*
A painted one, of course. This was leading away from a gallery of Classical statues and was just inside the courtyard.

*View of Rome from the Vatican Museums balcony*

*Mosaic with circus scene*
3rd century AD.

*Apoxyomenos* (Athlete cleaning himself)
Replacement picture:
Roman copy of 320 BC lisippus original

*Octogonal court*

*Various pieces of sculpture which I didn't note down on paper since they were not labelled anyway*
There were other works here and there I snapped but have no record of.

Almost all the Roman sculptures had no information (not even their name), and almost all had no audioguide either. Bah. Even the statue group of Laocoon and his sons was not labelled - the only clue to its significance was that a film crew had cordoned off the area around it and were filming it. Luckily, I recognised them.

*Laocoon and his sons*
Replacement picture:

*Sarcophagus?*
I like how the door was sculpted open.

Large parts of the Roman art gallery were closed also. Gah.

*Statue of Meleager*
Roman copy, c. 150 of 340-30 BC scopus original

*Relief with Dancing armed figurines*
Roman late rep. copy of classic Greek

*Mosaic*
Floor of Greek Coorls (?) room

*Mummy of a woman*
21st dynasty, Thebes
Or as an American said: "This is where beef jerky comes from"

*Anubis-Hermes*
1-2nd century AD
Anzio (?)

The Egyptian collection was alright, but there was a reason why it wasn't in the top 5 list.

Almost all of the Vatican museums collections had no airconditioning. Ugh. One lady was siting on a chair and being given water by a male paramedic.

The Etruscan art collection was closed. I was very pissed off. Every decent museum has a Classical and Egyptian collection, but Etruscan artefacts are hard to find.

In the Louvre, everything was labelled in French. Here, there were no labels at all. Luckily I have my Louvre pictures. Oh wait, due to the dual screwup by both the Cock and the bloody French guy, I have neither.

*Massacre of the Innocents*
Workshop of Pieter van Aelst. 1524-31
I should commission a sequel where unbaptised infants burn inhell, and call it "Torture of the Innocents"

The museum guards all didn't care about flash photography for sculptures. As far as I know, sculptures will not fade on being flash-ed, but there were lots of flashes in the tapestry gallery which has low lighting precisely to protect the tapestries, yet the guards did not pounce on anyone. Maybe the heat made them indolent.

*Death of Julius Caesar*
1540, Brussels.

*Italia nova*
In the Gallery of the Maps

I was looking for the Donation of Constantine in the Hall of Constantine. Unfortunately it was not on display. Aww.

*Battle of the Milvian Bridge*
Replacement pictures:
In the Hall of Constantine

*School of Athens*
Replacement picture:
In Room of the Signature.
I had a nice stitch waiting but, yeah, well. Maybe another year.
The guy with the black beret on the botom right is Raphael.

*Parnassus fresco*
Raphael. In Room of the Signature.
Replacement pictures:

*Dispute over the blessed sacrament*
Raphael.
Replacement picture:

A sign in the toilet said the tap water was non-potable. Whoops. But if I survived Malaysia, Italy should've been no problem. Anyhow I'm still aroundm so.

*Use of the toilet is free*
This sign was in a few languages.
I should've erected these all over the Low Countries.

Again, there were no toilet seats in the toilet cubicles. I asked a woman if this was the case in the female toilets and she said it was. The mystery deepened. I bet it was because everyone either hover pissed or didn't raise the covers before peeing.

As I half-expected, part of the modern religious art section was closed. It was damn ugly. They should've redeployed everyone to the Etruscan section.

The guards did not care about flashes going off in the rest of the Vatican Museums (even in the tapestry gallery where it was injurious to the works), yet in the Sistine Chapel they shouted at people taking non-flash photographs (which were prohibited). It wasn't as if the flashes (or the invisible rays emanating from cameras and video cameras when they were used) could damage the paintings on the walls and ceiling. The motive was obvious - they just wanted to earn money from postcard sales, since the Sistine Chapel was the most coveted part of the collection. What a shining example the papacy had thus set the world!

Moral objections aside, I wouldn't "mind" paying for a postcard in theory just as I wouldn't "mind" buying a bandana at cut-throat rates from a merchant before setting off into the desert, yet even if I had bought them, they would be useless to me - I want my pictorial representations in digital form, where they can be easily manipulated, are easy to index, catalogue and find, can be easily replicated and will not deteriorate. Furthermore, photography frees me to seek my own angle and take on what I want to remember, something that postcards, for all their engineered artifice, can not replicate.

For the same reason, even though I've found replacement pictures for some of my lost photos that sometimes exceed them in raw value, it is just not and can never be the same; the personal touch is important, for just as how a sex worker might be more skilled in the arts of the bedroom than your lover, nothing can beat the personal intimacy and familiarity which the latter affords.

[Addendum: Keywords to locate this post more easily in the future: a prostitute, that a lover affords]

*3-4 pictures - one wall and the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel*
Replacement pictures:


Travel tips:

- Get an ISIC unless you're going to North America; I only saved US$1 with my ISIC there - there're no student rates there! I got by with my student card, but then it's an EU university, so


xxoos: eh, ur phone now is really unusable already ah?
the phone is still technically working right?
Knowledge Enterprise 2005 - SUE, a true story

I was clearing my NUS email today when I came across this link in an email sent many months ago. Immediately, I recognised the name because of a conversation I had with My Favourite Test Tube Washer recently, where she said she was going to see SUE in Chicago. I was very doubtful that Chicago would let the pride of their collection leave, just as the British Museum would never let the Rosetta Stone leave its walls, and My Favourite Test Tube Washer proclaimed that she "did in fact see sue. on 9/8/06. with photographic evidence!­" Something was rotten in the state of Denmark.

Meanwhile, in between trumpeting their role in bringing the exhibition to Singapore, the NUS page was employing wordplay to give readers the impression that this was the real thing, while leaving just enough room to be able to claim that they weren't (kind of like saying that people have accused you of doing something you really did). Poking around online unearthed the official page of the exhibition, which was less dodgy which stated outright that this was a replica.

Luckily I didn't have to Skype Chicago to ask them (it's 11am there now).

[My Favourite Test Tube Washer: you could have skyped chicago it would be funnier]

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Someone: since you invited me to your YR meeting, I'd like to invite you to one of our cellgroup sessions when school reopens
­
Me: you must be mad
­
Someone: I'm perfectly serious...
­
Me: yeah. you're seriously mad.


Someone else: i go with you
­
Me: you're mad also
­
Someone else: no, i just like christian chicks
someone: one of hte prc girls in my old house, who used to entertain us by making lots of noise during sex, can't see a long term future with her bf
­becoz he doesnt want to be an inestment banker


Someone: i have just created a spreadsheet to decide which lover i should choose by end august
i think it's about the most frivolous thing i've ever done.. a pivot chart
and i'm not lying

the variables are: date, time at which they call (7am, 11am etc), number of emails received, duration of calls, interest in subject, subject's bullshit/pure sex factor
calls, texts, interest.. they all have numeric value which can be used. since i can't decide anyway. i wish i could. sucks

i figured i needed to chart it all. and my own interest. i need to give it all a rating

Me: so how is it looking

Someone: tedious
i'm gonna just rate it on a daily basis

my interest, their interest, call duration, b/s factor, rating of whether i'd like to see them again

i work with fucking spreadsheets all day, i realise, fuck it, why don't i do a pivot table of the candidates i'm seeing and see who have spent more times ringing me or texting me or emailing or time spent talking or generall rating of b/s factor

at the end of the month i total up b/s regularity
the higher the b/s, off the person goes.

see, that's the problem with reality.. one day someone pisses us off and we get rid of them.. the next day, they b/s and say sorry and you forget what an asshole they had been and the slate's wiped clean. a chart is all for the better. although to be more accurate over time.. i shall try and put into account the time-degeneration value

i love pivot tables
and i love statistics


Someone else: office ....... tsk tsk
office it takes 15-30 seconds to respond each time i click on a link in my email
like "next"

it's the ultimate in productivity increasing software
you don't block mail sites
you just make everything really slow.


Someone: dude i am totally normal.
i don't actually squeal i just... hit people really hard.

Me: wth
I warn you
I have no compunctions about hitting back

Someone: i'm sure you have a conscience

Me: what's wrong with hitting back
I do not hew to archaic norms of proper behavior

Someone: you're certainly hew to archaic norms of proper english expressions
archaic sounds so ancient
hitting a girl is ungentlemanly
especially if she's me

Me: a girl hitting a guy is un-ladylike
especially if he's me

Someone: unfortunately i'm not ladylike

Me: I'm not gentlemanly either
so we go well together
like frites and frietsaus

Someone: no actually it's more like a bitch and a bigger bitch.
i think you should be gentlemanly.

Me: shouldn't you be ladylike?

Someone: um. no. coz i'm 18 i have like 3 years to fool around before i should be ladylike.

Me: bah
you'll be in uni then
so if you want a sincere guy you need to pretend to be a simple girl

Someone: the solution is to get a submissive guy


Someone else: i pretend to sound intelligent but i'm not good with details
­then again that's like half of law school
­
Me: that's why you have open book exams right


cherub: ehm, u know that day i was, er.. thinking about you...

(that sounds gay...)

and I realise that if I am a judge and I want to punish u with community service, I will order you to live a week with a, ahem, muslim woman who is a staunch PAP supporter.

Whooo... that would be so interesting.

Me: Die lah, I hate chili some more.


JB: you blog too much. if you blogged half as much as you did, I'd have finished reading all your posts by now but the task is too daunting. honestly...

Me: can you believe people tell me to blog more every now and then?!
The biggest disadvantage of cooking in my mother's kitchen is that she has unearthly standards of cleanliness.

After doing no more than cook pasta (ie No deep frying), and even after mopping the floor twice, she still proclaimed it "very dirty", so I had to clean it on my knees tile by tile.

No wonder she's always so stressed. She should just wear slippers at home.

I can't imagine what will happen when she retires. She should just turn the house into a museum.

***

Lardon - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

"A lardon is a piece of bacon taken from the purified fat of a pig. Unlike the slices of bacon ubiquitous in most of the English-speaking world, lardons are oblong cubes roughly 1 cm×1 cm×2 cm. This is the most common form of bacon sold in much of Europe, but is something of a gourmet ingredient in the United States.

Lardons are frequently used in French cuisine and are a staple ingredient in Quiche Lorraine among other dishes."

Okay. This explains a lot. I guess I'll have to go for bacon cubes or pancetta next time since I can't find spekjes here, which are so convenient to cook with.
"Newspapermen learn to call a murderer 'an alleged murderer' and the King of England 'the alleged King of England' to avoid libel suits." - Stephen Leacock

Unfortunately this won't work here, since there's the doctrine of innuendo.

I used this quote more than 2 years ago, but heck.

***

Borders has both "women studies" (sic) and "gender studies" sections. How refreshing. Though I didn't see just what the difference was.

Now that I'm back in Singapore I might use my mother's minced garlic, especially since when I chop my own it turns out uneven (and doesn't brown evenly).

If a packet of fruit juice doesn't say that it has vitamins in, I wonder if it still contains them.

The most annoying thing about returning to Singapore must be the air. We all know it's hot, but the humidity makes it seem heavier and more oppressive.

Ever since Old Chang Kee turned Halal, I've seen a woman in a tudung at each outlet. I hope they didn't lay off any people because of this - I hope they redeployed them.

I was on Orchard Road on Flag Day, and NUS students were swarming the streets. On principle I refused to donate: normally it'd be because Flag Day is not about charity but vicious competition (eg KE VII's stunt a year ago). This year I was even more indignant - I highly suspect school was pushed back a week, and exams by maybe half a week, so that they could target schoolkids swarming Orchard road after National Day celebrations. They should just hold it on a weekend to target the crowds (including boyfriends who want to impress their girls). I also saw some schoolgirls trying to solicit money for the Straits Times Pocket Money Fund - how unfortunate that they'd chosen that day.


One of my brother-in-law's more recent faux pas: he showed me a picture of Notre Dame in Ho Chi Minh City and asked me if I thought it looked familiar. When I said no, he triumphantly pointed the caption to me, which read "Notre Dame". It seems he thought that "Notre Dame" referred to the famous one in Paris, and other "Notre Dames" were meant to be replicas. Despite someone's snobbishness ("aiyah! if the perso reading doesnt understand then they are also a tortilla"), I shall explain.

"Notre Dame" means "Our Lady" (The Virgin) in French (Onze Lieve Vrouw in Dutch). It is thus not a specific cathedral or church but a generic name indicating to whom the church is dedicated to.

Another faux pas: spelling "Coq Au Vin" as "co co van".
Eleanor Wong's Campaign to confer the Public Service Star on JBJ

On hearing that a play with such a provocative name was going to be staged, a Young Republic outing was planned for the day - appropriately enough, National Day, which happened also to be the opening day. The play was rated 'Adult themes: Suitable for 16 years and above'. At first, I thought that this was because it was subversive, but after watching it it's presumably because of the odd vulgarity/obscenity ("fucked", "almost had a hard-on") and a bedroom scene (no, kiddies, there're no tits - you probably see more on the beach, and there was no action since it was a post-coital scene).

Unfortunately, as a source informed me a few days ago, we got conned: "it's not about jeyaretnam!! i just found this out!! damn irritated! the "JBJ" is some other fictitious person!! DAMN IRRITATING HOR" Be that as it may, I suspected that there would be lots of deliberate conflation of these 2 JBJs, and I was right. Luckily, this conflation was stretched only as far as it could be without the gag getting tired (the first half), at least in my opinion.

The play was composed of a few elements:

- Conflating JBJ and WP ("Wildlife Preservation"), and making statements about the other JBJ which also apply to the one we all know and love
- Un-subtle cheap shots (which often worked, but which got tired after a while as the audience got desensitised to them)
- Lame jokes (eg Newater - it's been so long, it's not really funny anymore)
- Puerile jokes (eg Many jokes about ASS - Association of Students for Self-expression, having a policeman go on his knees, hide under the table and suck his thumb)
- Sometimes obscure references to current events/Singaporean history/personages/things that only the artistic circle would get/other context-dependent in-jokes ("A modern reinterpretation of rap lyrics as Japanese Noh")

As an example, one of the funnier bits had "New Age technology", where a woman named Crystal ("Crystal Jade"), dressed up as a mystic, recorded a Persistently Politically Correct Podcast (I hope I got the name right) and called her show "The Mrs Brown Show", despite having no claim to that nom de plume. She proudly proclaimed that to stay safe, her show did not have puns on governmental ministers' names (?) and did not use dialect. She also said that the secret to getting "tens of thousands of hits" was to do precisely those things. She also declared that "like all right-thinking people, we believe that the Internet must be managed". That scene ended with her saying, to the audience, "tur kwa".

During the interval, I was saying that this was annoying, but at least it was better than the alternative, which would be a pretentious show with large dollops of existential angst. Unfortunately, we did get an (un)healthy dose of generational/relationship angst in the second act, especially in scene 5 when it was so thick, you could slice it with a butter-knife, so in a sense we had the worst of both worlds; this felt like an obligatory theme grafted on to a framework of cheap shots and obscure references, but perhaps it was supposed to account for the protagonist's selling out and becoming a cog of the system, albeit a bitter one (I hope I read this bit correctly).

However, the second act was also more mature in that it toned down (somewhat) on the cheap shots, references and such, and had perhaps the best cheap shot of all - an old man with a cane standing in the shadows, adept at moving the levers of power, commenting on the hoi polloi: "They want us to take charge. Even when they don't admit it. Even when they pretend that they want to make up their own minds" (the last line might be a bit wrong)

The epilogue and ending didn't make much sense, with the protagonist reciting some lines undoubtedly intended to be meaningful and then dancing with a dead man (?).

Much of the play gave me the "school play" feeling; among other things, how the actors (especially Rodney) liked to look at the audience directly while delivering their monologues; Pam was better at addressing the audience without being direct to the extent of breaking the fourth wall. But then again, most of my theatre experience is limited to school plays.

In the first half of the play, Pam played the assorted parts while Rodney was the same character all the way. Meanwhile in the second, the reverse happened. This was fitting in a way and is probably some elaborate theatrical joke, but since the second half was darker and more angsty than the first, with themes of civil service intrigue, it might not have been all that appropriate.

The acting was generally great, and leagues ahead of Channel 8 (though this isn't saying much - I happened to see a few minutes of one episode a few days ago, and it's apparent that the acting has not improved in 2 decades). I especially admired the speed at which the actors changed their costumes and hair/wigs, and how well and fast they slipped into their various personas. A friend adds, though, that: "Rodney appeared to start off uncomfortable and one-note. he got better by the end. i couldn't feel the emotional arc of Daniel Lee in short. Rodney only came to life after he started to multi-task. pamela was better overall". Meanwhile, the soundtrack and background music also suited the purposes of the play very well.

All in all, the play was very parochial and would never succeed overseas. Or, indeed, outside of a small circle of intelligentsia with the knowledge, background and capability to catch all of the in-jokes and references.

Miscellaneous things I was amused by:

- jibes at NUS (about the new University Hall, built only a few years after the old new one)
- allegations of funny things going on within the police force (I thought it was illegal to include such innuendo, or use the police uniform for such purposes, yet the Ministry of Truth MDA passed the script uncut)
- A civil servant on public chatter about government complicity in the murder of someone: "He was a University student for Gods' sake... We wouldn't stoop to murder. Exile, the occasional detention maybe"

At the end, I felt like heckling but didn't have any ideas about what to shout. nw.t suggested "Stick to Puccini!", but I was too polite to do so. One of the advantages of watching a show on the opening night is that you get to see the director and writer get lauded and make a speech. Given the nature of this play and for all its gahmen references, I couldn't help but feel that "This festival is about new voices... Speaking out" was just falling into a gahmen-dictated paradigm, speaking their vocabulary and playing with their rules.

As we were milling after the show, this lady with a British accent was trying to get us to fill in the feedback forms, but none of us was willing. I wanted to frame my thoughts properly, since they would be too long for the measly space allotted to us. Maybe I should CC this blog entry to them as my feedback.

Everyone who had something to say about the play was in accord about the general conclusion, so it wasn't just me. nw.t went around asking people: "When was your 'Fuck. Kill me now!' moment", and most recounted various points in the play when they had that sentiment. Several of us felt that the play was basically saying "look how clever I am [in being able to squeeze in so many references and in-jokes]!" nw.t commented that the only consolation was that we hadn't watched "that other meretricious piece of garbage - NDP". I pointed out that at least that was free.

Meanwhile, the programme was very pretentious, consisting of navel gazing and self-indulgent artistic masturbation in a vacuum, especially the part where they gushed about the role of art and how great artists (they?) were.

Maybe my expectations are too high, but as I always say about Malaysia Airlines - it's easy to go beyond expectations if you don't expect very much.


Miscellaneous notes not about the play:

In an act of cockitude, despite having $60 worth of Esplanade vouchers for buying 8 tickets, Jiekai forgot to present them before payment (he better not burn down my kitchen on Friday). Luckily nw.t asked if the final bill ($112 for 8 people) included the vouchers before signing the credit card slip. Luckily the staff were nice enough. Ichiban is nice and has very reasonable prices, but the sushi is much better than the a la carte non-sushi menu. It has many exotic types of sushi ("abalone salad" for $1.90 [right.] and turkey bacon handroll) Unfortunately, as one can tell, it is one of those places which has forsaken culinary principles in the pursuit of vulgar money.

In another act of cockitude, the Cock didn't zip his coin compartment and coins fell onto the floor. Later, in a clear case of the negative effects of Force Chain, nw.t didn't close his Clorets box, and Clorets fell onto the floor.
"Your file exceeds the size limit!

Your file size exceeds the limit allowed for your account. Send files this large by upgrading your account.

Or, send this file for just $2.99!

A one-time fee of $2.99 sends this file with extended features like 500 downloads, 14 days expiration, and no ads for your recipient(s). Click here to continue sending this file."

Bloody hell. YouSendIt told me this only AFTER I had uploaded my 130 MB file.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Happy National Day!

For my National Day Special, I would like to announce that after more than 6 months, I have finally managed to obtain Royston Tan's excellent and critically acclaimed short film "Cut" from my source. It's even patriotically themed, with red and white costumes and props.

blip.tv is a bit slow, but it was the only suitable hosting provider I could find. So press the play button but wait for the bar to be suitably long before watching the film.












I would've gone to YouTube, but the limit is 100 MB/10 minutes. This file was 209mb/14 minutes. I coudld've split it in 2, but that'dve been messy. I then tried Google Video, but there was a problem with their uploader and everytime I hit 67.0 MB it looped back to 66.0 MB. I emailed tech support but it's been a while (almost a week - I got the file the day I returned) and the problem still hasn't been resolved.

So I looked for a suitable hosting provider, and found blip.tv - they support unlimited sized files, but I was panicking for a while after uploading because they gave me the impression that they were just hosting the AVI instead of streaming it, since I didn't see the current flash window but the normal WMP plugin window, linked to the source file, and the HTML for linking the file was for the WMP applet.

If you know of a faster video hosting provider with suitable file size limits, please leave a comment or otherwise tell me.


Selected scenes:



And we say: thank you to the censors,
The scenes you're chopping,
Thanks for all the crime you're stopping.

How to live without you?
There's so much I mustn't know,
Doesn't it show?

As long as you think it's no good, it must go,
So I say thank you Madam Censor,
For saving our country!



Must cut! Too violent, must cut!
Must cut! Show durian, must cut!
That one, got lesbian,
This one, got streetgang,
That one, can see the see butt fatt. [Ed: fatt = butt in cantonese. Thanks to northwindbrat for the correction.]



They said in time,
Let Singaporeans make their own decisions,
They were wrong!
(Refrain: They were wrong!)

They said in Newsweek,
Our public is discerning in its viewing,
Wait long long!
(Refrain: Wait long long!)

We built a nation,
Quick to judge.
But when it comes to morals,
We need that moral nudge.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Someone (on partito - NUS Science Club's latest project): you know what i really hate
i freaking hate those camps with poseur names in french or greek or pig latin or whatever

bloody annoying
like singaporeans think anything in a foreign language is exotic

like that stupid food appreciation club in NTU
it's called Deli Aprecio
deli and aprecio aren't even the same fugging language
they were quoted in the school paper as saying something along the lines of "deli is in french and aprecio is in spanish because we thought it sounded nicer than whatever aprecio is in french and deli in spanish
not verbatim of course

Me: at least they're honest
­
Someone: more like clueless

!@#!@#!@

and you have all those orientation camps
all with weird ass foreign names


Engineering student friend: Foundations of Engineering????
­e most important lesson learnt will be engineers work bloody hard, r underpaid and have no life

someone: the most impt lesson is that engineers are undesirable to women
­but this is easily turned into a virtue as it means they can be trained
but that actually applies only to yellow engineers. white engineers are actually quite cool
altho i know a bunch of female engineers and they are all quite cool


Dangerous Animal:

Cherub: Girls are nice pple, really. sometimes. well, at least once in a while.
=)

Me: You know about How Girls Waste Time, I trust?

Cherub: heh. yeah, i know abt that.
i'm a fan of that.

u're such an adorable female-hater =)

(PS: i am losing a lot of female friends...)


Someone on a slavish ST forum letter: No I doubt it is a parody -- the style is too cramped. It reads more like the product of a propaganda-addled mind. I mean he described saying the pledge as 'an ecstatic moment'. I can understand if you say that having sex with the love of your life is an ecstatic moment, or like taking your first car for a test drive is an ecstatic moment, or listening to Allegri's Miserere (oh those descants) or reading a Racine play etc etc BUT if you say that reciting the pledge is an ecstatic moment, then you really have issues.


Someone else: My school plays the song 'Home' ad nauseam EVERY MORNING to signal to students to gather at parade square.
Once the English version ends, they play the Chinese version.
Then last year's NDP song

They played it for about 2-3 weeks.
I hope it stops when I return on Friday morning.

oh wait, ithink i got mixed up
(coz all the national songs sound the same)
they played 'reach for the skies' (last year's NDP song) ad nauseam
and then Home in both language versions
or some permutation of the sequence
July trip
3/7 - Antwerp-Eindhoven-Rome


*This post was supposed to have some photos in it, but thanks to the incompetence/stupidity/laziness of a French Internet Cafe staff member in Nimes, they have been lost for eternity*

The previous night, I was talking to an American who had transferred to the University of Amsterdam to do International Economics. He said his professors were crap, and it was a waste of time to go to lecture. But then to defray the €6900 course fees there was a €5000 grant if you passed 50/60 credits a year (apparently not that hard). He said there's money floating around - you just have to know where to look for it; this is something some of those who've sold their souls and now have to pay back their pound of flesh have also lamented to me.

He also said that with regard to trying to learn/speak Dutch, there're 2 attitudes the Dutch adopt: if you try to learn it they think it's the most difficult language in the world, so you shouldn't try (he commented that only the pronunciation is tricky, and it's like English combined with German, with all the bad bits gotten rid of [he spoke German also]). If you don't learn it, they get upset you're not integrating into their culture. So he gave up on learning. Maybe Amsterdam is more unfriendly, since I didn't get any vibes of this variety at all in Utrecht. It was more of: "It's nice that you're learning" and, as a German guy commented, when he tried to speak in Dutch people said it was nice, but wondered why he simply didn't use English.

I also mentiond the evangelists to him and he remembered them because he was working that day. He said there were 20, from Indiana, and that they were crazy, coming to the most liberal city on earth to try to shackle people.

Breakfast was included but I had no appetite. This was not helped by the fact that it included the vilest vile juice I'd ever had (up to that point, at least). Perhaps vile juice is deliberately made vile so the taste will wake you up.

Belgium is so screwed up, you have 2 bus companies - "De Lijn" for Flanders and "Transport En Commun" for Wallonie.

*Pelikaanstraat*
Diamond street

As it got hotter and probably more humid, my hair tangled less.

Belgian rail works by zones instead of destinations. It probably helps in making pricing decisions.

When I reached Eindhoven, I saw 2 girls cycling and sharing one pair of earphones.

When I boarded the bus I found that my strippenkart had disappeared. I know I didn't misplace it, because I used it to get to Utrecht Centraal Station and had put it back in my wallet, so it must've fallen out. Wth. So I had to buy a new one.

The signs at Eindhoven airport say that you're being recorded by CCTVs and that you can 'seek rectification' (whatever that means).

"Eat local, fly global" - Sign at the airport cafe. Unfortunately the only local food they had were fries. Hah! Belvedair SML must be ashamed.

Sometimes, Dutch signs with requests or warnings use the acronym SVP instead of AUB (Alstublief). I wonder if people complain about cultural imperialism. It's the bloody French influence, I tell you.

One reason why my backpack was so darn heavy (about 10kg, sans a secondary bag with my camera, passport etc) - I had 300g of digestives, 400g of chocolates and 400g of chocolate chip cookies. When I returned to Utrecht I still had the chocolates.

In the airport they sold sticks of carrot and dip. It was quite sad, and the price was probably exorbitant too.

Hilarious €10 shirt in the airport shop, after what would've been immigration if there were any non-EU flights: "Not everything in Holland is flat". Behind the words were 2 concentric crescents - like a small bowl floating in a bigger one.

Interesting looking book in the shop: "I always get my sin - het bizarre Engels van Nederlanders". See? I'm not the only one who notices issues with European English.

T-mobile offered internet access in the airport. If you subscribed to T-mobile NL you got a tariff of 20 cents per minute. If you were on T-mobile US you paid only 18 cents per minute. Tsk.

I saw a Rode Kruis donation box and there was a €500 ote inside. I was amazed that someone would donate so much. Then I looked closer and saw that the word "specimen" was printed on it. What a cunning way of boosting donations.

Exiting the male toilet, I saw in the reflection of a mirror in the female toilet that there was a dispenser on the wall with 10 buttons. I was curious why the dispenser so many things whereas the male toilet didn't even have a condom dispenser, so I stared very hard but could only make out 1 red label, 3 light blue and 3 green labels. I doubted very much that the dispenser sold 6 brands of pads and 4 of tampons, so I asked a woman coming out of it to look for me. Amazingly she agreed but gave me the vague answer: "Personal care for ladies". Perhaps there were duplicates. Someone suggested that there were condoms: "these enlightened times... ­its as much the girl's responsibility. ­i saw this on match.com: a list of 10 things every single guy must carry, and a corresponding one for girls. and on the girls list was a condom. ­simply because, if you dont want it to break, you bring it. nuff said. :D well as that article said­. the guys condoms will usually have be lying crumpled in their wallet for god knows how long. theres a good chance itll break" Others opine that in other countries, unlike Singapore, they offer various varieties, corresponding not only to different flows but different sizes [of the wearer].

A sign: "Ryanair, the on-time airline" (emphasis original). In the end the flight was delayed by an hour.

"The weather in Rome is excellent. It's 34 degrees, there's not a cloud in the sky" - the pilot. Thanks ah. I hope he was joking.

When the plane landed, people clapped. Their previous experiences with Ryanair must've been really bad. When the aircraft stopped, everyone sprang to their feet and opened the baggage compartments despite multiple announcements not to do so. The stewardess had to walk down the aisle closing the overhead compartments.

The overhead compartments had mirrors inside them. Weird.

Smoking gets you a fine at Rome Ciampino. This fine is doubled if you smoke around pregnant women or children under the age of 12.

In Italy, you need a photo ID to use the Internet at Internet cafes. This is due to some anti-terrorism law passed in September 2005. At the cafe I used in Rome (15 minutes' free Internet for those staying at my hostel), the guy didn't take down anything, but just kept the ID for the duration of usage for show.

A lot of Doner places had posters and banners taken from Germany, with German words and websites printed on them. Gah. Of course, the same moustached guy was present on all the posters.

Why do places have tourist menus? I'm sure people other than tourists go for them, and surely set menus must exist for locals.


Travel tips:

- Bunk with friends. My Dutch friend befriended people in youth hostels (he knows a lot of Israelis, who travel after their Slavery) and can crash with them, so if you're extroverted enough you can try that
- Ask for student/youth (<26) reductions if applicable
- Bring your own sheets. You can save a few euros at some places
- On continental Europe they drive on the right. So look right or you may be run down
- When you travel you have to expect giving up some of the comforts of home, especially when on a budget. The first time I went outfield in Obedience School our sergeant knocked us down to each us that when you go outfield you have to get dirty. So if you're like a fussy (female) friend of mine who wants her own toilet ("im picky lar i dont like communal toiles"), either inflate your budget, decrease the length of your trip or stay at home
- Be prepared. Print out directions to hostels, note train times etc. Internet cafes make planning on the road easier
THINK HAPPINESS: Meeting David Marshall In 1994

Many years ago, I made a promise to David Marshall, the first Chief Minister of Singapore and one of Singapore’s finest legal minds.

The promise was to publish in full an interview, which I had with him on 5 May 1994 at the offices of Singapore law firm, Drew & Napier. Today, about 12 years after the interview and as Singaporeans celebrate 41 years of independence, I am pleased to make public this interview in full and keep a promise made.



"I don’t know much about Indian history but look at China. You had Confucian authoritarianism for more than 2500 years. What happened to China? She was a fossil. She had to reinvigorate herself with the Western ideology of communism. Another authoritarian ideology! And what was the result?

There must have been a million decent people who were transformed into vipers, vicious obscene vipers. I’m afraid of this control of the mass media...

Of course, there should be respect for the needs of society over the right of the individual but you must respect the individual too in seeking the expression of the needs of society. Here, we have no respect for the individual.

Cane them! Hang them! There are more than a hundred queuing up to be hanged, you know that?

[Minister For Law] Jayakumar said, “I have plugged the loop-hole whereby they could escape being hanged and just have twenty years of imprisonment!”

Oh, wacko the ducks – you need a monument!

The joy of hanging people; flogging them, every stroke must break the skin. I don’t like it. I don’t believe it is a deterrent. I see no proof. Look, it seems to me logic! If every year we have more death sentences, how can you say death sentence is a deterrent? If it were, there should be less death sentences...

The government doesn’t see I do respect them immensely. They don’t see I’m a genuine friend. They only see me as a critic and to be a critic is to be an enemy who must be erased and destroyed. There is no such thing as an honest critic to the PAP. It’s a blasphemy to criticise the emperor, spoilt son of heaven.

[Lee] Kuan Yew says you mustn’t lampoon a Chinese gentleman. Oh, dear me! Ya, what happened? What happened to China?

In Europe, they institutionalised the court jester and the court jester had total immunity against any result from his public criticism of the kings and emperors and the courtyard. Open public criticism – that was his job! They tried to laugh it off but at least there was one person to prick the bubble of their overgrown egoism.

And which civilisation has progressed better for the development of humanity? The Western civilisation or the Chinese civilisation?

You talk of Asian values. I only know two Asian values and, I wish someone would really pinpoint instead of pontificating ponderously in humbug and hypocrisy."
"Always be nice to those younger than you, because they are the ones who will be writing about you." - Cyril Connolly

***

WindizUpdate - "This free website allows users of Mozilla Firefox 0.9.3, Netscape 4.0, Mozilla Firebird 0.7, Opera 5, or K-Meleon 0.9 to keep their copy of Windows up-to-date. Newer releases of these browsers are also suitable."

The secret life of semen - "hormones. Some found in semen, such as follicle stimulating hormone, luteinising hormone and estradiol, are known to induce ovulation. FSH actually causes the egg to ripen and burst out of the ovary. Others, such as human chorionic gonadotropin and human placental lactogen have a role in maintaining pregnancy."

Bump keying - "an unbelievable security flaw in locks, this is a very good lockpicking technique, works on at least 90% of all pin locks, very interesting, the man in the video is Barry Wels, a lock and security extrodinaire. This is a relatively old concept and this technique was mostly used with pick guns, not many people knew that this could be done with a key, but it requires no pick gun or any special tools and no lock picking concept to get this to work. All you need is a key blank that fits a lock and a file or key cutter and some craft ability."
Over here they'd accuse the makers and broadcasters of the show as being irresponsible and promoting crime.

BookMooch: free book trade and exchange community

Yahoo! Answers - Is it ok for a guy to use Garnier Fructis? - "It does not say its for ladies, so I am thinking that guys use it too. Please Give me your honest opinion. Thanks"
Wth.

David Byrne Journal: 8.2.06: American Madrassas - "There were some perfect sound bites — at one point Pastor Fischer instructs the little ones that they should be willing to die for Christ, and the little ones obediently agree. She may even use the word martyr, which has a shocking echo in the Middle East. I can see future suicide bombers for Jesus — the next step will be learning to fly planes into buildings. Of course, the grownups would say, “Oh no, we’re not like them” — but they admit that the principal difference is simply that “We’re right.”"

Charity wants people to lend a hand... - "Hundreds of Britons are being urged to attend what is being branded as Europe's first "Masturbate-a-thon," a leading British reproductive healthcare charity said Friday."

Raw deal for disabled travellers - "In 2002 Ryanair faced a disability discrimination lawsuit after charging Bob Ross, a disabled passenger, £18 for use of a wheelchair. The court ruled in Ross’ favour and Ryanair quickly introduced a 33p wheelchair levy to all air fares to cover the cost of wheelchairs, which is the responsibility of the airline once a passenger has checked in (and the responsibility of the airport up to that point)."
I find this case interesting because most reasonable people would agree that wheelchair users should not be discriminated against. Yet, the costs of accommodating them is now passed on to their fellow passengers. This is definitely one reason public transport fares are going up here.

Singapore’s ‘Martyr,’ Chee Soon Juan - "Striding into the Chinese restaurant of Singapore’s historic Fullerton Hotel, Chee Soon Juan hardly looks like a dangerous revolutionary. Casually dressed in a blue shirt with a gold pen clipped to the pocket, he could pass as just another mild-mannered, apolitical Singaporean. Smiling, he courteously apologizes for being late—even though it is only two minutes after the appointed time."
This sounds like ST hagiographies of the Great and Dear Leaders.

The world of wacky plug-ins - "At last! USB devices that can warm your fingers and your drink, launch missiles, float faux fish and burn the (fragrant) midnight oil"
They're called peripherals, damnit.

English (Australian) Dictionary :: Mozilla Add-ons - "Currently free support is not available - paid support is available at AUS$100 per second."
For some reason, my UNESCO World Heritage Meme appeared in my drafts list and disappeared from 31 July. Oh well:


(Yes, this means I'm back in Singapore)

UNESCO World Heritage Meme:

World Heritage List

"The World Heritage List includes 830 properties forming part of the cultural and natural heritage which the World Heritage Committee considers as having outstanding universal value.

These include 644 cultural, 162 natural and 24 mixed properties in 138 States Parties."

At first I thought of starting a meme requiring people to list which sites they want to visit, but only the most dedicated meme do-er would browse through the list of 830 sites.


Sites you have visited by country:
Australia - Great Barrier Reef, Tasmanian Wilderness
Austria - Historic Centre of the City of Salzburg, Palace and Gardens of Schönbrunn, Historic Centre of Vienna
Belgium - La Grand-Place, Brussels; Flemish Béguinages; Belfries of Belgium and France; Historic Centre of Brugge; Major Town Houses of the Architect Victor Horta (Brussels)
Czech Republic - Historic Centre of Prague
France - Palace and Park of Versailles; Paris, Banks of the Seine; Pont du Gard (Roman Aqueduct); Cathedral of Notre-Dame, Former Abbey of Saint-Remi and Palace of Tau, Reims; Historic Centre of Avignon: Papal Palace, Episcopal Ensemble and Avignon Bridge
Germany - Museumsinsel (Museum Island), Berlin; Aachen Cathedral
Greece - Acropolis, Athens; Archaeological Site of Delphi; Meteora; Archaeological Site of Olympia; Archaeological Sites of Mycenae and Tiryns
Holy See - Historic Centre of Rome, the Properties of the Holy See in that City Enjoying Extraterritorial Rights and San Paolo Fuori le Mura; Vatican City
Italy - Church and Dominican Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie with "The Last Supper" by Leonardo da Vinci; Historic Centre of Florence; Venice and its Lagoon; Historic Centre of Naples; Early Christian Monuments of Ravenna; Archaeological Areas of Pompei, Herculaneum and Torre Annunziata; Portovenere, Cinque Terre, and the Islands (Palmaria, Tino and Tinetto)
Luxembourg - City of Luxembourg: its Old Quarters and Fortifications
Netherlands - Mill Network at Kinderdijk-Elshout; Rietveld Schröderhuis (Rietveld Schröder House)
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland - Stonehenge, Avebury and Associated Sites; Studley Royal Park including the Ruins of Fountains Abbey; City of Bath; Frontiers of the Roman Empire [Hadrian's Wall]; Westminster Palace, Westminster Abbey and Saint Margaret's Church; Canterbury Cathedral, St Augustine's Abbey, and St Martin's Church; Tower of London; Maritime Greenwich
United States of America - Grand Canyon National Park; Independence Hall; Statue of Liberty; Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
Total: 47/812 (someone has done 122)

I've probably been to more (in Japan, Indonesia, Thailand etc), but I've forgotten just where since those trips were when I was in Primary School or before.

5 sites I would like to visit:
(Instead of places like the Taj Mahal which everyone knows about I'll put some more obscure but still interesting ones)
1) Zambia/Zimbabwe - Mosi-oa-Tunya / Victoria Falls (The highest waterfalls in the world! No, Niagara hardly qualifies The Angel Falls are the highest. WHOOPS. Gah. Time has eroded my mental faculties.)
2) Romania - Dacian Fortresses of the Orastie Mountains
3) Croatia - Historical Complex of Split with the Palace of Diocletian
4) Japan - Himeji-jo (I've always wanted to see a Japanese castle)
5) Syrian Arab Republic - Site of Palmyra

Tag 830 people as many people as sites you have visited to do this meme!
Go and die. If you want to do it, please tell me so we can swap photos/views/comments about sites we've both been to and can discuss those only one has.
The CHIJ girls from across the road are singing Home.

Aiyoh. Damn National Day celebrations.

I just closed my window.

Unfortunately it's not helping that much.
"The only winner in the War of 1812 was Tchaikovsky" - Solomon Short

***

In the sciences, there is a fixed body of structured knowledge and principles that you are supposed to learn, and which is easily tested. With the arts, its more of swallowing and digesting knowledge which then slowly diffuses through your system; you don't always realise that you've learnt something. Perhaps this is why people think the arts are so fluffy.

It turns out that of the 2 packets of Rookworst I bought at Albert Heijn just before leaving (29/07), one was expired (10/07). Gah, they need an expired food bounty. Also, the receipt says "Degelijks geopend". I guess Sunday does not count as a day.

I could find 2-3 brands of canned white asparagus in Carrefour but no sauerkraut, despite asking 4-5 staff members. Bah. I think the staff don't know anything. I should ask the ang mohs who shop there instead.

Fabled Lands: Lord of the Rising Sun always goes on eBay for 18-28 pounds. The only time I've ever seen it go for below my reservation price *has* to have been when I was backpacking and unable to bid. Gah.

Every country has dumb laws. How they differ is if the police/judiciary are stupid enough to enforce them - what Mr Not-So-Creative calls NUTS - No U-Turn Syndrome.

If someone faked a degree or some other qualification to get a job, and someone else exposed the first person, I wonder if the second person would be slammed as jealous, ugly (in more than one sense), mean, persecuting the first person, trying to destroy everything he saw, bludgeoning people's reputations just because they could, a skanky scumbag, tearing the first person apart, making a personal attack, having a very warped sense of righteousness, crucifying the first person, a bitch, having been rejected by the first person, bent on giving the first person hell, ripping apart fellow humans, having no life, going on a witch hunt etc
July trip
2/7 - Bruges-Antwerp


*This post was supposed to have some photos in it, but thanks to the incompetence/stupidity/laziness of a French Internet Cafe staff member in Nimes, they have been lost for eternity*

*Ark*
1710-2, 1753
This is in the shape of the Ark of the Covenant

*Pulpit*
Replacement picture:
1713

*Organ*
1891

Below the explanation about the Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament: "Shall we let outselves be filled with the presence of Jesus? Why shouldn't we remain here in silence for a short while?" I've seen similar exhortations in the rest of Continental Europe. Probably another translation artefact.

*Fountain in front of City Hall*
Replacement pictures:

*City Hall*

I then went to the Rui Huis, but it was even more popular than the Last Supper, since it was booked till October (whereas the Last Supper was only full till August). What is the Rui Huis, you ask? Basically you get to walk through 1.6km of old Antwerp - underground. You get a special suit and boots, and you can smell the sewer stench from the entrance. Unfortunately the website is in Dutch and isn't very informative to boot: http://www.ruihuis.be/.

*Steen*
Replacement pictures:
Shipping museum. Formerly a fortress, then a prison for Antwerpens (and only Antwerpens).

*Docks*
Note the woman mounting the man. She then lay on top of him and they made out.
The Use-It guide said you hadn't been to Antwerp till you had dangled your legs over the docks, but I noticed no one was doing that - it was a long, long plunge down. I dangled mine until just before my knees, and then scrambled to my feet.

"Emery et cie" was a shop that sold bathroom tiles and similar things. It also provided free public toilet services so you could go in and see (and use) a model toilet. What a novel publicity tactic.

I was sitting on a bench and watching the triathletes. One guy was topless except for his bra (heart monitor). He has a lot of hair on his lower back. I think it was more disgusting than if hair covered his whole back, since attention was then drawn to the small of his back. Meanwhile some other men were wearing half-singlets - cut off at some point below their breasts. They looked like tank tops.

"Frituur Max", according to Use-It, was "one of the last fanatical advocates of fries in bags instead of boxes". I was wondering what they meant by this - it turned out "bags" referred to paper cones. It's so much more fun eating them from cones, albeit slightly messier, and you can fit more (maybe this explained the slightly higher price - €2,20). Sauce cost another €0,60, so I carefully squeezed a bit of various types of sauces. I asked for a container for more sauce but the irascible woman said I'd have to pay €0,60 more. Bah. In the end I had barely enough sauce to last me till the end. The frites were good, but I still prefer freshly-made fries, like those served by Mannekin Pis (a Belgian said it was a Dutch chain and not a Belgian one, and indeed I saw none in Belgium) or Hank's in the Utrecht Vredenburg market (the current blog header picture) - these are moister inside and taste fresher and more natural.

The cheeky Use-It guide had marked the red light district as a romantic hotspot and I was bored, so I went to have a look. Fittingly for the city of Rubens, there were some Rubenesque ladies in the windows. The place wasn't as commercialised as Amsterdam - almost everyone walking through was a lone male, though there was the odd male couple or group. The only women I saw looked like they worked there. Meanwhile a police car crusied slowly through the place every now and then,

*Figurine at the corner of a building*
Below it was a closed-down Indonesian restaurant. This was along 'straat zonder racisme'. Gah.

At an Antwerpen internet cafe near my hostel where they charged 2 cents per minute (€0,50 minimum), the terminals also had an interface to order a cola, hamburger or one more food item. Hah! I was annoyed though that the counter to tell you how long you had left contained ads. Wth. It was also the second internet cafe in a row where IE hated my Hotmail and I had a problem with the javascript.

Mosquitoes bothered me that night. Not since Singapore had this happened to me.

Monday, August 07, 2006

July trip
2/7 - Bruges-Antwerp


*This post was supposed to have some photos in it, but thanks to the incompetence/stupidity/laziness of a French Internet Cafe staff member in Nimes, they have been lost for eternity*

I wanted to wake up at 6:30, but I couldn't get to sleep the night before. Rather, I tried to get to sleep at 10:30, but this Canadian in the next room was talking so loudly to 2 British girls (who were somewhat softer), and it was so hot that I only got to sleep at 2+. In the end I still got up reasonably early and went to the Crown Plaza; my hostel's reception only opened at 9 anyway.

*Dice, semi-manufactured dice*

*Small coin hoard*
Philippe II August, 1180-1223

It looked like the medieval foundations were built on and around. Finds were also displayed. The spot where Charles the Good was murdered wasn't marked, though.

*Jan Breidel, Pieten Deconinck*
I have no idea what this was.

It occured to me that the Begijnhof in Bruges would've been perfect for a romantic hotspot, but it wasn't marked as such on the guide. Aww.

It was Sunday, but there was a huge flea market stretching from the train station to the tourist office. One stall had cheap DVDs (<€5 - including normal stuff that I'd heard of) and also this strange show called "Dirty cop no donut" with the tagline "A girl, 2 guys and a gun". At another stall there were swords and helmets with coifs.

In Antwerp, I saw a sign advertising an "Interdenominational healing and annointing conference" and "Wild fire weekend - the deep secrets of success".

*Teniers plaats*
Pedestrian square

I arrived at my hostel just before noon, so I first made my way to the Rubens house. Admission was free for residents of Antwerp. Bah.


*Rubens House*

I was very disappointed - there were almost no labels (those that did exist didn't date the works), no explanations and photography was not allowed. Even if someone had the audioguide he wouldn't know about everything, since much stuff was not labeled (not even with an audioguide number). Apparently the place was in a mess because they were rearranging their exhibits and they apologised for the inconvenience. I'd rather they gave discounted admission than apologise - not giving information about works was one thing, but I didn't even know the *name* of most of them. Hell, even The Annunciation had no audioguide commentary - unforgivable! In contradistinction, the Nationaal Museum van Speelklok tot Pierement is offering a 50% discount on admission while it is shifting the permanent collection back after the end of the Royal Music Machines exhibition.

I only saw one of the Rubens women on canvas, in Neptune and Amphitrite. I was somewhat disappointed.

Someone complained about the lack of airconditioning in the guestbook. Heh.

To add insult to injury, the toilet was €0,30. The gardens and courtyard were nice though.

*Gardens and courtyard of Rubens house*
Replacement pictures:

*Poster for ABBA musical, with facial hair drawn on the members on the glass*
This was probably the one which was playing in Utrecht. I doubt there're 2 traveling Dutch performances.

This East Asian man was playing the violin along Meir. He had a printout with his program in front of him. This must be the first time I've seen such a thing.

I saw a lot of familiar chains in Flanders - Blokker, Kruidvat and Hema. I almost expected to see an Albert Heijn.

*Statue of Rubens in Groenplaats*
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Groenplaats is not green.
On that day there was the Antwerp Iron Man event, and this was Transition Area 2 (Bike-Run). The whole place was full of barriers. I couldn't even get close.

I bought a Coke in a McDonalds for a caffeine boost. A sign on the ground floor said the toilet was for customers only. When I went up to the second floor, despite holding my cup, I had to pay €0,30 for the toilet; maybe €0,30 doesn't even cover the cost of stationing someone there, so only customers can have the privilege of paying that nominal fee to use the toilet. I was offered a sweet from a basket when I exited, but still. They should try a new concept - make people pay €0,01 to use rubbish bins and fine them if they litter the streets.

I then went to the cathedral.

*Onze Lieve Vrouwe Kathedraal*
Replacement pictures:
The largest Gothic church in the Low Countries. So I wonder where the largest church in the Low Countries is.

The cathedral had the first representation of the circumcision of Christ that I've seen.

*Our Lady of Antwerp*
Replacement pictures:
16th century
When I was there the background was a painted canvas with a photograph of the chapel rear printed on it. They were renovating the back of the chapel.

*Madonna with Child*
Replacement picture:
1350. Master of the Maasland Marble Madonnas

Moral hazard tea light! <- I think in writing this I had some musing about how tea lights are left out and people can light them without paying.

*Rubens - Assumption of the Virgin*
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1626

*Choir stalls*
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*Cupola*
With Schut, Assumption of the Virgin. 1647.

*Rubens - the Descent from the Cross*
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1612

These people are very hardcore. About the Schyven Organ, 1891: "Typically symphonic timbre and its exceptional poetic melodious tone". It's for 19th and 20th century works. Meanwhile the Metzler Organ, 1993: "Distant positioning of the organ pipes and its precise 'touch'". It's intended for Bach and French contemporaries.


Travel tips:

- Don't wear a waist pouch. It's easy for you to be pickpocketed and you look silly
- Chinese food is cheap, and Turkish food (kebab stands) even cheaper. Not as cheap as eating bread in the park, of course, but at least you've something real to eat
- Bring spare batteries if you have electronic equipment
- Use a packing list. The Universal Packing List is good.
I needed to use the toilet in Utrecht but I didn't want to pay, so I decided to use my museum card, which granted me free entry to 400+ museums in the Netherlands. I walked to the Nationaal Museum van Speelklok tot Pierement, but my museum card didn't get me free entry - there was a €3 supplement for the Royal Music Machines exhibition.

So I walked down to the Centraal Museum. I didn't have €1 for the locker, so I had to change my €10 note for lots of coins. And then I finally got to use my free toilet (yes!)

***

Eloquent fanmail I got:

"Subject: U suck

u fuckin muggy porn-deprived bastard! - Ur Mother"

This was on Diary of a Chinese High Boy - archived

***

Shianux:

"in Singapore, the implied meanings of what you say can also be taken into account
so saying that durai was on first class implies that he is spending lots of money

you're not implying anything
you're DIRECTLY saying that he's not creative

ironically its safer to just say things directly
because when they imply, they can imply anything they want
if you say "j00 sux0rs", I doubt they can find anything to imply"
Today, I was in Carrefour shopping for ingredients when my spider sense tingled. There was a promoter selling nuggets, and as we all know chicken nuggets have been on the scene for years, offering their suspect blend of reconstituted chicken meat (perhaps a few grades above that in chicken feather sausages) and palm oil. Yet, there was something about these nuggets so I moved in for a closer look.

Lo and behold, there was a big sign saying "Non-halal". Could it be? I looked at the packets and they said "pork nuggets". The meat of the gods had finally been made into nugget form.



I was excited enough, but the nuggets were on offer - 2 packets for $5.80, so I promptly took 2. A short while ago I prepared some and was so enthused that I typed up this blog post instead of saving it for another day/merging it with another.



These pork nuggets are really good stuff. The top ingredient is pork fiber, which is why they're so firm inside. Even better, there is NO PALM OIL in them - instead of this wretched artery clogging substance, they use the healthful and flavorful sesame oil. One might also note that there is less sesame oil than pork fiber, soy protein, flour and sugar. The cherry on the cake is that it is made in Singapore. I feel patriotic.



If I had one word to describe the nuggets, it would be - wah. Usually, when you toast chicken nuggets the oil oozes out readily, yet these pork nuggets released no visible oil onto the foil-covered surface of the snack toaster tray. The meat is also very good quality - even if it's not real meat, it's darn close to the real thing.



The only disadvantages are that there was a touch too much pepper for my taste, and that in 8 nuggets, I found a small piece of tendon in one (but then, that's the price of using real meat). Also, preparation is slightly protracted - even after microwaving the nuggets for a minute on high heat, they needed 3-4 5 minute cycles in the snack toaster to be done (though this might have something to do with the lousy appliance, which automatically turns off for periods sometimes).

Those used to chicken nuggets might be disconcerted by this product since it is firmer and less oily. Yet, I believe that this is a mark of culinary distinction in contradistinction to run-of-the-mill chicken nuggets.

I heartily recommend this product, which can be found (at least) at Carrefour Plaza Singapura. While you're there you can also enjoy REAL bacon in the Carl's Jr outlet there (it has the most ang mohs of any fast food chain I've seen in Singapore).
July trip
1/7 - Bruges


*This post was supposed to have some photos in it, but thanks to the incompetence/stupidity/laziness of a French Internet Cafe staff member in Nimes, they have been lost for eternity*

Nice Bruges pictures: Bruges pictures - Europe stock photos, fine art prints by QTL

I was under the impression that the Memling Museum provided information about the medieval hospital it used to be, yet 90% of the space was devoted to medieval art; the first storey had a hall with information on the hospital from the late 19th to mid-20th centuries, but there was nothing about the medieval hospital except for a few medieval paintings with nuns in them and a computer providing information on the medieval hospital. Yet, this computer had a horrible interface which was hard to use and very confusing - it presented a few paintings of the medieval hospital and you slowly and with much difficulty dragged an onscreen magnifying glass over the paintings with your finger. When the magnifying glass hovered above areas of interest, it lit up and you could touch it for more information which would then call up an expanded box, blocking part of the painting. It was then hard to dismiss this box. I wonder which cock designed it.

The Memling museum was quite expensive - €5 concession and €8 full price. Though there was nice stuff like the St Ursula Shrine. The ticket also granted admission to the potterie which was very smart of them since it gave extra perceived value at little cost to them, the potterie being on the other side of town.

I then went back to Onze Lieve Vrouwekerk (Church of our Lady). Part of the church required payment, but amazingly the Michelangelo was free.

*Pulpit*
Replacement pictures:
16th century. Jan Antoon Garemijn
Comment on Flickr: "All cathedrals in Europe were impressing . . . to the point that they weren't impressing anymore. As a fellow hostel mate from Australia said, "It's the ABC effect . . . you know, Another Bloody Cathedral.""

*Relic of the Holy Cross*
Mid-18th century, Bruges
There're so many relics here. It spoils the market.
I was thinking of a way apologists would explain the proliferation of relics, including 2 heads of John the Baptist, enough Holy Nails for up to 10 crosses, multiple Holy Prepuces (foreskins) and enough drops of Mary's milk to stock a dairy. Then I remembered the fishes and loaves. Another might be something similar to transubstantiation. Some would consider these suggestions seditious, but it is seditious also to suggest that most of these relics must be fakes (or, to some, that relics even exist, and to most monotheists that other monotheists are right). So really, there's no way to escape and everyone can just go to jail.

*Mausoleum of Mary of Burgundy*
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1502

*Mausoleum of Charles the Bold*
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1562

*Tomb XIII*
1300-10
Excavated in choir in 1979

*Memorial statue of Louis de Baenst (Jr) and family with the Virgin*
15th century

There was an urn with the heart of Philip the Handsome. Wth. There was also the tomb and coffin of Mary of Burgundy. I almost didn't see them because they were hidden under the mausoleums and I had to squat to look under them, and even then I couldn't see the tomb.

In a supermarket:
500ml Coke - €0,85
250ml Coke - €0,69
250ml Fanta - €0,75
Gah.

*Lace making (Picture and Video)*
It started in the 16th century. This woman started at 8 and at the end of July she turned 86. She had a piece of paper with the patterns on it: she poked pins into the paper and then threaded the thread around it.
I read that nowadays all lace making is done in Asia.

I was sitting in an alcove. I'd made sure it was dry, but thne I smelled a familiar scent. I got up, but I think I was too late.

*Belfort from courtyard*
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I tried looking for the Elf in the Belfry, but I couldn't find her.

*Courtyard of Belfort*

Public toilets in Bruges are €0,30. Perhaps it is true that generally things get more expensive as you go North in Europe.

I then went to the Begijnhof. It was very nice with the shady trees, and quiet except for the stupid tourists ignoring requests for silence.

*Begijnhof*
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There were some swans in the canal near the Begijnhof. Their feathers were incredibly fine.

*Swans around Begijnhof*
Replacement pictures:
someone: its just a stupid swan
Me: better than a stupid cat
someone: you're evil

*Street: Oostmeers*

It was damn hot in Bruges. I was thinking that I'd die in Rome.

Bruges was a little fake, but it was nice fake. It was so touristed that there were signposts pointing to hotels, and under the icon of the bed there were stars indicating how many stars the hotel had.

I felt like rabbit stew for dinner, so I looked at the recommended restaurants in Let's Go. One was this joint called "Hobbit" - it was expensive but had unlimited spare ribs for €14 (no rabbit though, IIRC). Another was my hotel's restaurant - it was cheap and guests got a free beer with dinner (the man at the checkin counter the previous night explaining this to me and saying I couldn't change the drink expressed his regret and said he didn't drink beer either) but they didn't have rabbit. The man at the hotel suggested another place but there the rabbit alone was €25 - my reservation price for dinner was €20. So I went to the markt - there were 3 adjacent joints which were all about as crowded. In the end I chose the one which had a €19 3 course set dinner including rabbit (the rest were marginally more). This was a bit extravagant, but I'd had no breakfast and had had that awful samuraisaus frieten for lunch. The place didn't serve tap water, unfortunately ("we have everything except tap water". Bloody hell. I should've asked for Root Beer) so I asked for a Sprite. In the end I was given a medium sprite (500ml) for €4. Grr.

*Performance artist*
This guy was dressed in a monk's robe, sunglasses and sneakers and was standing on a stone seat in the Markt and striking a pose. Every now and then he'd shout something (like "Hallelujah *insert pop-culture-influenced phrase*"), as he would when someone donated money to him. I donated and got a UFO shaped communion wafer with a different colour on each side. Inside there was a white sweet-sour powder.


Travel tips:

- Travel when you're under 26 and/or a student. It's cheaper since you get discounts.
- Summer is safer. There're bigger crowds and it gets dark later. Yet, crowds and the lack of a sweater means you're more prone to pickpocketing.
- Keep your friends close and your belongings closer. Be mindful of where your valuables are. Have situational awareness. Is there a crowd? Are there people coming close to you?
- Don't put your wallet in your back pocket (this must be one of the most stupid things any traveler can do)
- Backpack if you're strong enough. It's more convenient and easier to transport over distances
- Plan ahead - beware of public holidays. For example Greek Easter is a week ahead of normal Easter
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