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Valar Qringaomis

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Saturday, June 23, 2007

Off to Shanghai today and Hong Kong on the 28th.

Back in Singapore on the evening of 2nd July.
Someone: *** said he just cannot make any sense out of my critical mind existing with my christian faith


MFM: my mother treats the maid like a sub-human, and then wonders why none of them are any good

and she wonders why they're all wilful

my aunt threw away a $50 bottle of luxury honey just because she deduced the maid was consuming some of it. her conversations with my mother almost entirely revolve around their incompetent maids

...

I can't stand living with my parents; I'm so fucked

the noise, the interruptions, the meddling with my belongings, the nagging, the incessant questions

the hypocrisy
the blatant irrationality

seriously considering spending some nights at the office, if possible


Someone: Oh i haven't told you about someone I know who teaches Biology in Hwa Chong Institution.
She asks students to download and bring porn to class. Then she plays the video in class. And this is approved by the school.

The topic is on human sexual reproduction.

She uses the video to debunk their misconceptions about sex.

She tells them their porn videos are too tame.
Not good enough!

Interestingly she's a Christian or Catholic.
No hangups at all. She's pursuing her PhD in Biology at the same time.

And in HCI they conduct RESEARCH.
u r wt u wr Overseas Edition:

- 'Lolita'
- 'I am a disturbing image from your childhood' (seen at Berkeley)
- 'Half naughty half nice'
- 'I can resist anything except temptation' (worn by one of our group)
- 'I give *picture of octopus* great hugs'
- 'Bad girl'
- 'Hustler'
I managed to sneak up on Screwed Up Girl in Borders and wanted to flick my hair in her face. Unfortunately, I forgot that my bag was still on my shoulders so I ended up hitting her in the ribs.

One of my theories about why women go to the toilet more than men is that they have smaller bladders, but this doesn't seem to be the case. Indeed, since they have smaller boddy masses, they have proportionally bigger bladders and so should go less often.

One reason for the haze is that selling wood without a permit is illegal (probably for environmental reasons), even though waste wood can be used for wood chips, plywood and biofuel. Thus, there's a lot of wood to get rid off. Paying someone to clear it mechanically costs $250 per hectare. Setting it on fire only costs $5 per hectare. The choice is clear.

I had to send my laptop in for servicing again since the screen wasn't always turning on and it was back in 5 days (3 1/2 working days). Turns out it was a motherboard problem. They also replaced the wrist guard for free. At least the service is still good.

It seems since May 25th there've been 6-7 rapes in Johor (my friend's been counting). The Straits Times reports the victims as being Chinese girls, while Malaysian sources just call them girls. Neither mentions the race of the assailants.

***

The IPS lifts are the only ones I know of which have buttons you can toggle - pressing a lit one untoggles it.

People at work think I look like or have the impression that I am a PS student. But then as someone commented, he'd rather people think he look like a Political Scientist than an Economist.

Singapore must be the only authoritarian country in the world to fund people to say bad things about it.

Of the limited meal options in my area, the absolute worst is this cafe in PGP called "K Gourmet". The K stands for "Krap", "Kannot Make It" and "Kenna Sai". I ordered calamari and despite a cost of $3.50 the portion was tiny. Meanwhile someone else had carbonara which had chicken ham, thus making it doubly haram. The latter pissed me off so much that I brought Carbonara (made with lots of real bacon) to work for 3 of us the next week.

The Japanese cafe at Capricorn makes their curry with pork. They said it was because many people don't eat beef, so they changed the meat used. Some ask them to change it to chicken, but they think pork tastes better. I totally agree.

***

I saw a group of people walking down from Sheares to Kent Ridge Hall and wearing T-shirts reading: "I am a good looking freshie". I wanted to know which organisation was so shameless to have T-shirts saying that, so as I passed them I turned around - only to see them looking at me. How embarrassing. Another day, I saw a group of people wearing shirts reading: 'The camp your momma warned you about'.

Yes, Orientation season has started (actually it did a while back but I hadn't gotten enough material then yet) earlier this year thanks to Slavery being shortened. Because of the Dragon Girls (the Dragon Guys are delayed for 2 years by Slavery), it seems the gender ratio at Orientation Camps this year varies from 1:3 to 1:5, in favour of the guys. Which means it's a really bad year to do internships or go overseas, though the happy hunting grounds should be open all season.

In other news, SDU can't be very happy this year, nor will they be in 2 years time, thanks to the skewed gender ratios.
USP-Stanford Multiculturalism Forum
Day 22 (27/5) - Adieu


Americans don't like to carry change around - buses accept exact change on, taxi drivers have signs saying they have $5 in change at most (and that the cash box cannot be opened by the driver) and stores prominently display how much they have in the cashier. This, of course, is because of the threat of petty theft.

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Roomies

On the flight, we found that the 2 girls who'd been stranded with us in Yosemite were JAL stewardesses on our flight. I noticed that the non-Japanese stewardesses had their countries of origin on their nametags: subtle discrimination or possible excuse for slightly sub-par Japanese? In fact, I suspect the only reason they hired non-Japanese staff was to make announcements in Chinese (presumably on other flights they will have Koreans etc), and the Singaporean girls who made the announcements all sounded similarly unnatural and like they were reading from a piece of paper (which they probably were, but usually flight attendants manage to make it sound enthusiastic and natural).

The animated characters in the JAL safety video are Ang Mohs. Hah.

JAL's own drink "Sky Time" (yuzu citrus flavor - apparently they used to serve Kiwi) is very nice, like a slightly salty lemon drink.

In Narita I noticed the immigration queues read: "日本人" (Japanese) and "外国人" (Foreigners). Other airports would have written "Japanese Passports" and "Foreign Passports". Tsk.

All the female JAL stewardesses I saw were in skirts but the ground staff seemed to have an option for pants.

Our plane from Narita was very empty - almost as bad as planes were during the first Gulf War, so everyone got a row to themselves.

I tried plum wine. It was interesting, but I still haven't found an alcohol I've liked.

I was telling people I should learn a foreign language after graduation. Someone suggested Chinese.


Quotes:

You're so nice. [Me: I know. So why do I keep getting marginalised?] Because they don't get your GEP humour. [Me: So why don't you get marginalised?] I keep my GEP humour to myself.

[On returning to Singapore] Don't you feel like bursting into song? [Student: What song?] *Sings* Home, truly.


Stanford Trip Private Diaries
"When Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990, the fact that CNN was basically an American company helped to frame the issue, worldwide, as aggression (analogous to Hitler's actions in the 1930s) rather than as a justified attempt to reverse colonial humiliation (analogous to India's capture of Goa)." - Power and Interdependence in the Information Age, Robert O. Keohane and Joseph S. Nye, Jr.

Wth?!

I suppose North Korea's invasion of South Korea was also a justified attempt to reverse colonial humiliation.

This is basically a case of "West bad, everyone else good".

***

Han:

"The vast majority of self-styled political pundits in Singapore are mostly morons and idiots, who cannot think any original thoughts, and only know how to espouse the latest ideas in fashion they gleaned from somewhere else."

Quoted in The Political Blog: The Struggle for Hegemony in Singapore's Emerging Blogosphere; Tan Jie Ying, Dorothy
Quotes:

[On my taking leave] So next week only I am around to service the two of them.

[Me: 'Did' is passive voice]... I thought you were an econs major.

[On carbonara] Actually it's quite healthy, except for the bacon. [Me: Err. Eggs, cream...]

[Me on Orientation: SDU will give you two thousand] For each pair?

[Random girl:] I need to put on some weight.

[On dying her hair black] I'v had enough of the Ah Lian look

What is bacon? Is it the sausage?... [To Muslim:] Bacon. What does bacon look like? [Muslim: Why you ask me? Ask him {me} lah.]

[On taking photos] We do the SMU thing lah - jump.

[On Karen Armstrong's disingenuousness] You must give her credit... Not everyone knows the facts like you.

[On Facebook] It's a limited kind of stalking. [Me: For you to hit on girls at school.] But there are no pretty girls in NUS.

[On me] He was very surprised to find out that I was in NCC for 4 years... [Me: But girls' school NCC is wimpier than boys' school NCC] Fuck you.

Indulge his fattyism (fetishism)

[Muslim:] There're seven pillars. [Me: Of?] That we've to live by. [Non-Muslim: Five.]

[On the 7 Ms] I don't take Marijuana.

[Me: Someone's picking you up?] Yes. [Me: Is it on a motorsikal?] We're not Malay.

[On the JB police not caring about a gang rape] Aren't you glad separation happened?... Apart from the fact that none of us would've gotten educated.

I think driving on the Malaysian expressway is like playing a bumper car ride. (a)

[Me: Once you go black -] You never go back. It's so true!... That's all I'll say, it's so true... They're so hot.

[To me] I want a provocative article, which was why I asked you to write it.

[Indian:] Please don't do a MBA in NUS. There are so many - no offence - Indians.

[To someone saying that girls are a distraction] You think of girls as chores and tasks and assignments. They're not essays to be written and handed up.

I also don't like spicy food... [Me: But you grew up eating it]... Yeah weird huh. I'm Indian.

The whole concept of a liberal arts education is to learn nothing of practical value.

Friday, June 22, 2007

"The thing that impresses me the most about America is the way parents obey their children." - King Edward VIII

***

My favourite periodical:

April 12th:

"Of course, America still tops many league tables by a wide margin. For example, it is the world's biggest debtor nation; it guzzles the most energy; and it has the biggest prison population. But perhaps these are not things to boast about."

"Fossils

SIR – I found your description of the dictatorships in Myanmar and North Korea as “Neanderthal” to be quite unfair (“The great game in Asia”, March 31st). Neanderthal man is famous for his premature extinction, whereas the regimes in Myanmar and North Korea are successful survivors in a rapidly evolving political world. Neanderthals also divided labour between the sexes, as you have noted (“Mrs Adam Smith”, December 9th 2006). But to the best of my knowledge neither Myanmar nor North Korea allocates power with gender in mind.

Moreover, there is no scientific evidence about the socio-political organisation of Neanderthal settlements that points to them being casually dominated by ruthless men happy to oppress and exploit their own people.

Frédéric Laforge
Lausanne, Switzerland"

[On Segolene Royal] "Critical [of 35-hour-week], because too much power for employers (sic)"

"Russia's ability to cause harm to itself and to others in the cause of proving its greatness should never be underestimated."

"Since the dawn of agriculture, man's most enduring relationship with forests has been to cut them down"


"Some Americans fret that there is a double standard. Black comedians such as Eddie Murphy and Chris Rock use the word “ho” all the time, without controversy. And Stevie Wonder refers to himself as “nappy-headed” in his song “I Wish”. Ah yes, but those black comedians are mocking misogynistic rap culture, and Mr Wonder was mocking himself. The more obvious double standard is that Jesse Jackson, a black politician who led a protest against Mr Imus, once referred to New York as “Hymietown”.

Meanwhile, in North Carolina, a more consequential racially-charged dispute ended this week. The state attorney-general exonerated three white lacrosse players at Duke University who had been accused a year ago of raping and assaulting a black stripper at a party. The media and much of the Duke arts faculty had trumpeted the case as an example of how wealthy white men abuse their power over poor black women. But the accuser kept changing her story. DNA evidence appeared to clear the three, and one had a solid alibi."

"When staff moved into the new Reykjavik headquarters of Actavis last year, the headaches were literal. Unable to tell whether the glass doors were open or closed, executives of the Icelandic generic-drugs firm kept walking into them."


May 10th:

Chronically happy

SIR – Well, nothing is really new. Your article on the unexpected improvement to patients' emotional health after they were injected with a bacterium recalls a similar effect that has been long identified in people suffering from tuberculosis (“Bad is good”, April 7th). Known as Spes phthisica, or the euphoria of the tuberculous consumptive, this partly explains the disease's impact on a long list of aesthetes, including George Orwell, D.H. Lawrence, Franz Kafka, and Amedeo Modigliani. Frédéric Chopin complained that he could not compose unless he was coughing blood. John Keats, “With anguish moist and fever dew”, poured out his ineffable poetry as the disease accelerated.

An interesting aside to this is the aphrodisiac effect of tuberculosis, so familiar to staff working in sanatoriums. As a nursing sister in my hospital once said, “You need a blowtorch to separate them.”

Dr Dermot Kennedy
Glasgow


June 2nd:

"Capitalism without bankruptcy is like Christianity without hell, observed Frank Borman"


June 9th:

"SIR – What a coincidence. The map of abortion laws in your article highlighted those countries that either prohibit abortion altogether or restrict it severely, and is almost identical to regions that are distressed from overpopulation. Nearly all those states are suffering severe social stress, ethnic tensions and civil disorder. They include almost all of the countries that the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation says will need food assistance this year.

John Bermingham
Denver"
"It is not enough to succeed. Others must fail." - Gore Vidal

***

Having been forced to use a Mac for 2 weeks, I was acquainted with many of its failings:

- There's no right mouse button
- You can't resize windows normally, but only from the bottom right
- You cannot press "escape" to close an MSN window
- There is no backspace, only delete
- There are a gazillion modifier keys - function, control, alt/option and the Apple button, and the system is inconsistent: Apple + Tab is the equivalent of Alt + Tab in Windows and Apple + Tilde is the equivalent of Ctrl + Tab, but in Firefox Apple + Tilde doesn't do what Ctrl + Tab does, so manual dexterity is needed in changing fingering positions to switch between tabs and applications in turn; Alt + Left skips a word to the left, but Apple + A selects all text.
- Focus keeps running around in Firefox. Page down doesn't always work. (this may have been a system configuration specific issue)
- When you open (not save) a file in Firefox it isn't saved to the cache but the desktop (this may have been a system configuration specific issue)
- Apple + Tab switches between applications, not windows, so when the MSN messenger icon jumps in the dock showing there're new messages, when you switch over you have no idea which windows the new messages are in. These windows may not even be visible, being hidden behind others, resulting in a frenzy of frantic clicking to find them.
- Of all the laptops, the Mac had the most trouble finding, connecting and staying connected to wireless networks

Of course there're the little touches, like how the power supply plug magnetically snaps into its socket, the cover snaps shut mangetically and the light on the Caps Lock key itself that turns on when it's on, hurr hurr.
"Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and it may be necessary from time to time to give a stupid or misinformed beholder a black eye." - Miss Piggy

***

Gene Expression: Physics Envy - "And yet, even then, physicists will be the first to admit that even the most powerful mathematical machinery they are able to bring to bear on a problem can deal successfully with only the very simplest situations, beyond which their equations are useless. Thus, for example, their equations can be solved for the two body problem but not the three body problem in Newtonian mechanics; they can solve the Schrödinger equation when there is only one proton and one electron interacting, but not when there are even two protons and two electrons, let alone anything more complicated than that... Contrast this with the situation in economics. Here the elementary particle, so to speak, is the individual human being, no two of which are alike. What's more, the forces of attraction and repulsion that each individual feels for the goods of this world cannot be measured with any precision at all, much less to an accuracy of 20 decimal places. Furthermore, these forces of attraction and repulsion do not remain constant, even approximately so, over time and place for the same individual, let alone for different individuals, who vary enormously in their likes and dislikes."

The Straight Dope: Hair today, more tomorrow? How effective are treatments for baldness? - "1. Castration. Don't be a wuss. A real man does what it takes to get results. Male pattern baldness is thought to arise from a particular version of an androgen receptor gene. If you've got the wrong one, a testosterone breakdown product, dihydrotestosterone (DHT), gradually reduces hair growth by shrinking the size of the hair follicle, meaning thinner and eventually no hair. No testosterone, no baldness. Whatever other beefs they may have, eunuchs have been famed since the days of Hippocrates for killer hair. Caution: Castration is best thought of as a preventive measure. If DHT has already wasted your follicles, shutting off the tap now won't necessarily bring them back."

zynfandel: why women make bad drivers - "1. They get emotional about driving. 2. Their attention wanders. 3. They make split second decisions but don't have the balls to carry them out. 4. They turn to glare at other drivers. 5. They put on makeup in the car."

YouTube - Famous Sheikh on the Risks of Female Masturbation - "She will bring disgrace upon herself and her family. This will be a disaster, and some relatives might kill her... Obviously, killing her is forbidden and is a grave sin. Even if she did fornicate, she does not deserve to be killed. At the most, she should be flogged."

FaceBookProfile.com - Facebook ASCII, Hacks and Tricks - "The Completely Unofficial Facebook ASCII Art, Photo, Album & Wall Resource"
Ooh, ASCII art for walls.

New lease on life comes with big IOU; British man suing doctors - "The "Last Holiday" scenario has the terminal patient learning to really live for the first time in her life. She tells off her boss, quits her job, empties her bank account and goes on a dream vacation, where she learns all sorts of valuable lessons about embracing life and love. And then she finds out she's not dying after all! It was a big mistake! Talk about your happy ending... Doctors told John Brandrick he had cancer and he had probably less than a year to live. "The 62-year-old council worker quit his job, sold his car, stopped paying his mortgage and dug into his life savings so he could treat himself and his relatives to expensive restaurant meals," reads the story in the Daily Mail... "Turns out Brandrick didn't have a tumor, as originally diagnosed. He had pancreatitis, which is not life-threatening. It's the classic good news/bad news setup. The good news is, you're going to live. The bad news is, you're flat broke.""

A Brief History of Economic Time - "Rising income is only part of the story. One hundred years ago the average American workweek was over 60 hours; today it's under 35. One hundred years ago 6% of manufacturing workers took vacations; today it's over 90%. One hundred years ago the average housekeeper spent 12 hours a day on laundry, cooking, cleaning and sewing; today it's about three hours."

Interracial Marriages Surge Across U.S. - "In some categories of interracial marriage, there are distinct gender- related trends. More than twice as many black men marry white women as vice versa, and about three-fourths of white-Asian marriages involve white men and Asian women. C.N. Le, a Vietnamese-American who teaches sociology at the University of Massachusetts, says the pattern has created some friction in Asian- American communities. "Some of the men view the women marrying whites as sellouts, and a lot of Asian women say, 'Well, we would want to date you more, but a lot of you are sexist or patriarchal,'" said Le, who attributes the friction in part to gender stereotypes of Asians that have been perpetuated by American films and TV shows."
"Women want mediocre men, and men are working hard to become as mediocre as possible." - Margaret Mead

***

I was railing against the injustice of the legal system, that it was unfair, inconsistent and sexist that men have no say at all over the fate of a foetus that they have jointly conceived with the woman (since it is regarded as an issue over the sovereignty of the woman's body), while suddenly bearing prime financial responsibility for the foetus once it is born as a baby (since it then becomes "you banged her. Face the consequences").

This means that if I don't want a woman to have my child, I have no say at all over the foetus's fate but am still obliged to pay for the child once it has been born. Conversely, if I want a woman to have my child, she is free to abort it at any time. The sheer injustice of it all rankles me.

A really strange excuse I was given was that an abortion is a medically invasive procedure and that you cannot force a woman to have it. Meanwhile, if the male doesn't have to pay for the child, the woman may in despair abort the foetus anyway since she may not be able to support it.

This strange structural inequality results, I think, from focusing only on the point of view of the woman and giving it primacy. The Chinese always blamed childlessness on the woman's failure to conceive (as opposed to the man's failure to impregnate her), and here we see that nothing has changed - a woman's being with issue is the "fault" of a man (as opposed to being the choice of the woman). However, the modern twist is that now the man has no rights - only responsibilities, and the woman has no responsibilities - only rights.

An added paradox is that those supporting these sexist laws will almost certainly support the right of women to have late term abortions, so the mere act of birthing a foetus is sufficient to transform it from a parasitic, incomplete lifeform that has no right to life to a living, breathing human being with rights (not least child support) due to it.
USP-Stanford Multiculturalism Forum
Day 21 (26/5) - Yosemite


Tong Wei liked to change in the closet. It was very strange. Trying to discover the appeal of doing so, I tried changing in the closet too. It was quite cramped but I managed to do it - the main problem was the coat hanger which was in danger of taking out my eye if I was too reckless in my movements.

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Female, if found in male toilet, will be handed over to police

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The bus driver gave great commentary but I needed to sleep, having had only 4 hours the night before, 4 hours the night before that (at the airport) and 3 the night before the Grand Canyon, so I missed out on some of it.

The reason why there's a bear problem in Yosemite is because people feed them. That is why there's a $250 fine for feeding animals there, and there's a federal magistrate on duty 24/7.

Most injuries in the park are not from bears but deer, because people think they are like Bambi. The only fatality so far caused by an animal has been caused by a deer:

"A 5 year old boy was gored to death by a deer in Wawona in November, 1977. The boy, Colin Robert Neu, was visiting the park with his parents and having a picnic near the Wawona school. The boy was feeding potato chips to a deer, one by one. He then brought the bag of chips down to the creek and the deer pushed the bag out of his hands. When the boy bent over to pick it up, he startled the deer (a buck) and the deer 'stabbed' the boy under his armpit. Unfortunately, the antler nicked an artery and the boy died." (Santa Clarita Guide - High Sierras - Yosemite National Park)

Coyotes in Yosemite are smart. In late winter, there's no food so they stand in the middle of the road looking miserable and wait to be fed by motorists. If you try to take their picture, they run off.

There was a huge fire 17 years ago, the damage from which is still evident. It came about because they liked to put small fires out but this led the underbrush to build up, increasing the risk of big fires. The area damaged by fire had no tall trees and had mostly small bushes and undergrowth, with some short trees.

It was much warmer than I expected, despite the forecast claiming it'd be colder than San Francisco; "Isn't it interesting that the same people who laugh at science fiction listen to weather forecasts and economists?"

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Half-dome and El Capitan (? - I think this is what the bus driver said, but I might've gotten confused, especially about the latter)
There was no highway rest point to view these. There was one at Cascade Creek and the Leaning Tower/Cathedral Rocks, and many cars stopped there but there was no space for the bus. At Cascade waterfall there would've been space but there were 10-11 cars parked there, so. Renting a car is really the best way of viewing the place (but Memorial Day Weekend is probably not the best time to go), though you do lose the commentary so maybe the 2-3 day trips in vans are better (they don't cost much more; transport is probably the major cost).

Fern Spring, the smallest waterfall in the park, was cute.

Finally, at Tunnel View, we got to get off, admire the view properly and take pictures.

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El Capitan, Cloud's Rest, Bridal Veil Falls

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I wondered why the Grayline tours, with big buses, cost the same as the small vans. We'd actually wanted the latter (which had a Sequoia tour also), but by the time everyone decided on what they were doing both the small van tour recommended by the hostel and another company the first had called up were fully booked, so.

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Bridal Veil Falls

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El Capitan

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Yosemite Falls

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River

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Yosemite Valley

Our bus driver had gotten married to a girl he met who was working at Yosemite at the Yosemite chapel a few years back. They had recently had his 4th child (his oldest is in his 40s) and her 1st.

The bus driver then let us off to walk around for about 2.5 hrs. Most people went to eat lunch but I wasn't hungry (perhaps I was carsick) and anyway decided I would be better off eating later in case I wanted to spend more time walking about, so I only had a scoop of ice cream from the shop at the swimming pool.

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You're in the middle of nature and what do you do? You go to the pool. Also, I don't get the funny gym machine beside the pool.

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Yosemite Falls, Upper and Lower

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Lower Yosemite Falls

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Lots of people were clambering beyond the point warning of danger past it. Hurr hurr.

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Spray (I was too close to safely point the camera at the falls)

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Me
If I come back in 20 years, I'm not sure that I'll be up to clambering on the rocks and hiking, revolutionary advancements in cybernetic technology notwithstanding.

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Valley

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Butterflies

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Boating

There was an information panel on moonbows (like rainbows except by the light of the moon). Unfortunately the picture of a moonbow was in sepia (!) so it couldn't be seen properly.

Even in Yosemite, a pint of Haagen Dazs cost only $3.95. Meanwhile, the food was only slightly pricey, rather than being hideously expensive, very expensive or just expensive. This was because:

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Anti-profiteering regulations for concessionaires. Obviously this didn't apply at the Grand Canyon.

There was a display of tagua nut products - the inside of the nut looks like ivory, so they hope this will save elephants.

I then had lunch (of sorts) which was surprisingly good - a pizza with a great crust (fluffy and chewy at the same time - probably baked with a bit of cheese in it too).

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Yosemite Falls

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Some rock formation from bus

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Opposite El Capitan

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Opposite El Capitan

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El Capitan - 'the largest granite rockfall in the world'

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El Capitan. Yes, I know the stitch is weird.

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Me opposite El Capitan

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Bridal Veil Falls, Leaning Tower

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Sign showing water level in 1997 flood

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Valley Point

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Me on a log

At this stop point, the bus driver suddenly drove off despite our running after the bus (ie We were only a few seconds late), leaving 5 of us behind (3 in my group and 2 others). At this, my headache immediately became worse.

As the saying goes, "Leave one man behind, shame on him. Leave five people behind, shame on you." Evidently, he hadn't counted the number of people in the bus before driving off, or even done a visual inspection to make sure no one was left behind (then again perhaps he did, but the fact that 4 of us were Singaporean Chinese and 1 Singaporean Indian and there was a group of Japanese tourists there at the same time had something to do with it).

Now, normally I'd accept a modicum of blame for such an untoward occurence, but the fact was that this bus driver never told us what time to return to the bus (not at 5 minute photo stops, anyway). In fact, at the first photo stop of the day I'd asked him when we should come back to the bus and he'd replied unhelpfully, "Just take a few pictures and come back".

And so we were left in the middle of nowhere with no transport, no handphone reception and no passports, with all of us flying the next day. Some of the girls didn't even have their wallets (moral of the story: keep your wallet on you). Coincidentally, none of us remembered the bus's number or the driver's name ("Tom") either. Luckily, the aforementioned Japanese tourists agreed to give us a lift, albeit only to Oakdale.

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Fire damage, 17 years on

On the way to Oakdale, I suddenly got mobile phone reception. Coincidentally, my brother-in-law called me so I got him to get me Grayline's number and Tong Wei called them up. However, the lady on the other side ("Mona") was very unhelpful. Their lost and found office closed at 10, but they stopped processing people at 7 (?!), so we would have to go back the next day at 6am. She refused to check which bus it was though they had 1, maybe 2 tours to Yosemite that day at most and refused to call the bus driver for us. When Tong Wei asked to speak to her manager, she said he was on vacation and gave us his email address.

Luckily, just after we got off the bus in Oakdale, our bus pulled into the parking lot. The driver claimed he'd counted but had made a mistake (he missed 5 people?!) To add insult to injury, 2 of the other passengers scolded us for missing the bus. Luckily, the rest were more sympathetic, with some telling us that they'd told the bus driver just after he moved off, pointing out that we were missing. The bus had then gone back but we'd left by then.

As a saving grace, there was an A&W at Oakdale, albeit one combined with a KFC. Neither was labelled as an "Express". Yet, when I walked in, I found that they didn't have Curly Fries either!!! Furthermore, the only way the menu was bigger than in Vegas was with the provision of Onion Rings and a few Kids' options. I asked the counter girl if A&W had stopped selling curly fries, and she said it depended on the outlet. Furthermore, MFTTW has since informed me that she visited 2 A&W outlets on the East Coast and neither had Curly Fries either, so I'll probably have to visit Bolehland for my fix. Although I was very pissed off, I bought an A&W glass mug for $3.99 and a large rootbeer float (which could be refilled! American fast food places rock)

The only "The Golden State" license plates I saw were tourist license plate souvenirs with generic first names on them. Bah.

When we got back to San Francisco we found the fog was even worse than the previous day. When we viewed the city from the Bay Bridge, a giant fog cloud seemed to have descended upon the city.

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Fog cloud

We hadn't eaten a proper dinner, so Tong Wei and I went to Chinatown

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Chinatown Gate

Some of the shops selling random crap were still open:

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'Got rice?'

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A family dinner - for one person

Shunning more expensive and tourist-looking places, we went to a crowded, unassuming-looking restaurant whose kitchen greeted our entrance. I had Char Siew Che Cheong Fun. I was expecting something like what we get in dim sum restaurants here, but instead I got a dry version with a lot of stuffing (char siew, cilantro and egg strips).

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Effusive sign in Eastern Bakery. We got fried Bow Ties here.
'Eastern Bakery is the oldest bakery in Chinatown! Since 1924! We were here before the Great Depression, the Bay Bridges, World War II, etc... President Bill Clinton came to visit Eastern Bakery on July 23, 1996, from 5:00 PM to 5:30 PM. He shook hands with everybody inside our bakery. All of us, our customers and employees were thrilled, and it was just like a short but big, exciting and memorable party!!!'

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Shop windows

We were walking past a shop when we saw a woman sitting in the recessed doorway of a shop with some stuff around her. Presumably she was homeless, but she was in a conversation with an unseen person. Either she was talking on her mobile phone or she'd gone crazy.


Quotes:

[On Jabir and I] Between the diva and the monster, I choose the diva.
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