When you can't live without bananas

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Saturday, October 04, 2003

Ghostzilla - the invisible browser

The Romance Reader

MC Hawking's Crib - your ultimate resource for information about Stephen Hawking the gangsta rapper


1. There's one "sport" in which neither the spectators nor the participants know the score or the leader until the contest ends. What is it?

2. What famous North American landmark is constantly moving backward?

3. Of all vegetables, only two can live to produce on their own for several growing seasons. All other vegetables must be replanted every year. What are the only two perennial vegetables?

4. Name the only sport in which the ball is always in possession of the team on defense, and the offensive team can score without touching the ball?

5. What fruit has its seeds on the outside?

6. In many liquor stores, you can buy pear brandy, with a real pear inside the bottle. The pear is whole and ripe, and the bottle is genuine; it hasn't been cut in any way. How did the pear get inside the bottle?

7. Only three words in standard English begin with the letters "dw." They are all common. Name two of them.

8. There are fourteen punctuation marks in English grammar. Can you name half of them?

9. Where are the lakes that are referred to in the "Los Angeles Lakers?"

10. There are seven ways a baseball player can legally reach first base without getting a hit. Taking a base on balls--- a walk--- is one way. Name the other six.

11. It's the only vegetable or fruit that is never sold frozen, canned, processed, cooked, or in any other form but fresh. What is it?

12. Name six or more things that you can wear on your feet that begin with the letter "S."


1. Boxing.

2. Niagara Falls. The rim is worn down about two and a half feet each year because of the millions of gallons of water that rush over it every minute.

3. Asparagus and rhubarb.

4. Baseball.

5. Strawberry.

6. The pear grew inside the bottle. The bottles are placed over pear buds when they are small, and are wired in place on the tree. The bottle is left in place for the whole growing season. When the pears are ripe, they are snipped off at the stems.

7. Dwarf, dwell, and dwindle.

8. Period, comma, colon, semicolon, dash, hyphen, apostrophe, question mark, exclamation point, quotation marks, brackets, parenthesis, braces, and ellipses.

9. In Minnesota. The team was originally known as the Minneapolis Lakers and kept the name when they moved west.

10. Batter hit by a pitch; passed ball; catcher interference; catcher drops third strike; fielder's choice; and being designated as a pinch runner.

11. Lettuce.

12. Shoes, socks, sandals, sneakers, slippers, skis, snowshoes, stockings.

Friday, October 03, 2003

Latest discovery: store-bought chee cheong fun! It's not bad, and good for a quick lunch. AUD$2 for a plastic lunch box with 4 rolls with spring onion and shrimp stuffing (and the soya sauce) - just empty the soya sauce over it, pop straight into the microwave for 4-5 minutes and eat with the fork provided. Lasts in the fridge for 2-3 weeks: i should have bought more from asian groceries!

Thursday, October 02, 2003

My Grand Tour of England and Wales - Part 2 of X

Day 2 - Sherwood Forest-York (Cont'd)

After we left Jorvik, we walked around York, looking at all the charming and quaint shops - great fun, except that they all closed to early. One shop that caught Jie and Hwa's attention was "The Cat Gallery", the perfect place for cat suckers like them. I quickly tired of the place while they were looking around, and went outside, where I saw a cute terrier in a car.

Further on, we also saw:
- A branch of the so-called authentic French cafe bakery. It's really quite amazing that they've managed to infiltrate the British market - couldn't a chain from France just have come over? But at least the Delifrance in York was more authentic than the ones in Singapore and Malaysia.
- A shop which sold swords, historical figurines, guns and helmets (including a Corinthian model and a classic gladiator type) - all looking historically authentic.
- "Past Images", a shop where you and a group of friends or family can dress up in Medieval, Viking or Victorian clothing and take a picture, with an optional ghostly effect.

York's city walls were remarkably intact, but apparently this is because they were heavily restored in Victorian Times to be a tourist attraction. Despite this, I still rather liked them, not least because some parts date back to Roman times. Before heading to our Youth Hostel, we bought some strawberries, and their aroma suffused the car.

At the Youth Hostel, we found that there was Internet Access, albeit at an exorbitant price of 5 pounds an hour. It was advertised as being of ISDN speed, but in the end was slower than dialup. To add insult to injury, the terminal was crippled - it was impossible to open a new window with Ctrl+N, new windows that were opened were set to be Always On Top while Alt+Tab was disabled, so it was impossible to surf 2 sites at once, and the terminal logged you out a few seconds before the time ran out. Most irkingly, this was all provided by a cartel which also supplied internet access in the Windermere Youth Hostel.

Happily, though, this was made up for by a magic vending machine, which gave us 2 cans of Fanta Lemon for a mere 60 pence! This Hostel being a city-type, it was larger and less charming than the one we stayed in the previous night. However, I was amused by their female toilets, for the signs nailed to the doors of the toilets were intriguing - one was of a typical female figure, but another toilet had the silhouette of a woman with practically no figure, so I christened the toilets the Ladies' and the Butches' toilets respectively, and took pictures of the signs.

Day 3 - York-Edmundbyers

The next day we left York immediately, me having been dissuaded from taking in more of the city's sights in favour of sampling new tastes. Plunging into the countryside, we ended up by the side of some country road, and me and Jie were dropped off to look for the Brimham Rocks. We walked down a rocky trail, till my sister spotted a "no bicycles" sign and a narrow, barely visible trail up the hill through the undergrowth - my CSM would have been proud. She resolved to wait for Hwa while I, the intrepid explorer, proceeded to trek up the hill on my invigorating late morning hike. I've done worse in Area D, but this time I was in shorts and sandals, and so got stung by what I deduce from descriptions I've read in Enid Blyton should have been a nettle. The view from the top was rather scenic, but I noticed there was no one else there as this was probably the trail for the foolhardy who wanted to get up and close to the Brimham Rocks. As it turned out, most people parked at the dessignated car park a mile away and followed the user friendly "official" trail (which Hwa didn't get very far down, unfortunately).

After my little hike, we drove to Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal Water Garden, "Britain's largest monastic ruin and most complete Cistercian abbey" and one of the many World Heritage Sites in the UK. A group of schoolchildren was there at the same time, and got to dress up as mini-Cistercian monks in their white robes. There was a mill at the abbey, and I got to try my hand at hand grinding grain - even after many turns, the amount of flour that came out was pathetic.

While walking through the grounds of the Abbey and Water Garden, I lost Hwa and Jie so I went to look for them. My search was in vain, even though I looked at a kiosk selling ice cream - a good bet for looking for Hwa. Not finding him there, I bought a scoop of blackcurrant ice cream and continued looking for them. A while on, though, the scoop fell to the ground due to the iniquity of the kiosk - instead of using a proper hand scoop cone, they used one for soft serve ice cream, which had a flat surface on which the ice cream rested, so using the conservative licking method of eating the ice cream (as opposed to biting it, which'd make it finish faster), ran the risk of toppling it. I was disgusted initially and started to walk off, but I was so fed up that in the end I scooped up the ice cream, used my other hand to scrape the bottom part off, put it back firmly on the cone and continued eating. In the end, I walked maybe more than 4 miles around Fountains Abbey's grounds looking for them, till I almost died, though the late summer/early autumn weather made it slightly more tolerable.

After we left Fountains, we proceeded to another abbey - Rievaulx, which was pretty much more of the same, albeit in an even more godforsaken location. After that, we went to Rievaulx Terrace and Temples, where a rich man with nothing better to do and a surfeit of money and time had built replica Tuscan and Ionian (more Doric in style despite the name, actually) temples. While we were looking around, 2 propellor driven planes zipped past - Spitfires, if my identification was correct. Maybe they belonged to some club.

On our way to the next destination, we travelled the more scenic country roads and so got to see the rolling countryside. The disadvantage was that it was slower, there were sheep on the road (we could've knocked one down and had lamb chops for dinner) and at one point we went up a slope so steep (the gradient was 1:4 I think) that the car stalled and I had to get out.

The final attraction for the day was Mount Grace Priory, "the best preserved Carthusian monastery in England." We arrived with less than half an hour to spare, so we had to do a quick run of the place. I was rather excited because they had a reconstructed Carthusian cell and herb garden, and after we left I got to scare ducks on the road (the duck video that I have mentioned in earlier posts). However, I sadly contributed to the destruction of historical property, as part of the wall crumbled on me when I was taking a photograph.

The road to our youth hostel for the night was long and treacherous, taking us into the middle of heather moorland, to the village of EdmundByers. The hostel there was perhaps the most interesting I was to see - a former inn from 1600. There was a fireplace both in the lounge and our room.

Day 4 - Lindisfarne and Alnwick

The next day we set off after I bought a mutant scone - the biggest I've ever seen - for 40p from the youth hostel, and it was great with Nutella. Our destination was Holy Island - home of Lindisfarne Abbey, where Aidan and his Ionan monks established their base after crossing from Scotland. After walking through the ruins of the Priory (which apparently may not have been established on the site of the famous Priory that Aidan established), we walked to Lindisfarne Castle. Then we left for Alnwick Castle.

Alnwick, being still lived in, had an interior pretty much like other historical houses. Nevertheless, there were nice touches - like a Simpsons chess set, table soccer and a complaint letter for visitors to fill in. They also had on display letters of appointment given to the current Duke's ancestors, and the Kings' seals were huge.

When we stopped by a petrol station later, a can of "Dandelion and Burdock" drink caught my eye and I decided to try it. It tasted like Strepsils. (So now we know what flavours are in Strepsils)

Day 5 - Hadrian's Wall-Lake District

Friday was dedicated almost exclusively to seeing sites along Hadrian's Wall. Sadly, it was less complete than I'd been led to believe - the longest surviving stretch is only about 3/4 of a mile in length, all because people have been plundering stone from it for centuries.

The first site was Corbridge Roman Site, and later we saw the Brunton Turret. My sister was intrigued after reading about the tombstone of a Roman cavalryman, Flavinus, Standard-Bearer of the Petrian Cavalry in the troop of one Candidus and we went to Hexham Abbey to have a look at it. I ventured down to the darkly lit Crypt, but unfortunately the relics of St Andrew had long since disintegrated.

At Aldi supermarket, I picked up a jar of what was advertised as "luxury chocolate hazelnut spread", only to be shocked when I discovered its dirty little secret - it contained palm oil! Nevertheless, this ersatz Nutella wasn't too bad. Later, at Chester's Roman Fort, Hwa haram-ised a cat by feeding it fat stipped from (comparatively) expensive Italian ham.

We then visited the ruins of a Temple of Mithras. To get to it, we had to walk past several menacing and malicious looking cows which were lying on the grass just beside the path we had to walk down, and be careful not to step on cow dung. At the temple, there were casts of altars, wooden posts and statue fragments which, if I hadn't known they were casts, I would've mistaken for the real thing, for they felt like stone. Sadly, much of the temple had been defaced and desecrated, most probably by Christians who thought that the Mithraic sharing of wine and bread and importance placed on sacrifice were mockeries of their faith, though these practices were probably taken from the same source. I would've liked to have visited the full-scale reconstruction at the Museum of Antiquities in Newcastle (which also sounded like it had other interesting exhibits), but there was no time.

Along many stretches of Hadrian's Wall and at the forts, there were farms with sheep. How it is acceptable to let the sheep pee and defecate on and rub against Roman ruins (the National Trust actually owns the land but rents it out to the farmers), I don't know.

At Housesteads Roman Fort, I was told that there was a half a mile walk from the road to the remains. This sounded reasonable enough - till I passed the gate and saw that it was a steep uphill path all the way, and by the time I got to the fort, I was half dead (again).

After leaving the fort, I was sidetracked by a sign for the interesting-sounding Roman Army Museum. They were screening a hilarious Roman Army Recruitment Video promoting the Roman Army like a real recruitment video, which advertised 'job security', and where they had scenes of a mother writing a letter to her soldier son, and of her going to a temple to pray for him. There was also this scene where an auxiliary was taunting a legionary by saying he was looking forward to a 25 mile route march since he had lighter armour and a lighter shield, and I got to see "Roman Soldiers" training. Other nice touches included mosaic floors for the toilets. Sadly, photography was not allowed in the museum.

At the museum, they had an "Eagle's Eye" video about the wall showing, among other things, CG reconstructed portions. However, they kept flashing back to shots of an eagle, which was dumb and extremely irritating, and the music was bland and repetitive. Later in the bookshop, I saw an extremely specialised book - "Iron for the Eagles - The Iron Industry of Roman Britain", which included forging times!

By now, it was too late, so I was unable to visit Vindolanda, which sounded very interesting. According to a New York Times article, "Vindolanda was it. The site is vast, some 15 acres, with ruins of what was a very large settlement, including well-marked temples, bathhouses and (to the unending amusement of my children) toilets designed to be used by several people at a time. There is also a reconstructed section of the wall, a Roman temple, general store and house, and well-marked excavations of the civilian settlement that grew up around the fortress, with its weavers, grocers, alehouses, cheese makers and all the rest, as well as a working excavation site. The museum is a treasure trove, with dozens of examples of rare Roman writing on thin sheets of wood (the postcards of the day), with missives from home ranging from the practical: 'New underpants and socks are on the way,' to the heart-rending: 'Farewell, brother, most dear to your Secundus.' (The British Museum has named the Vindolanda tablets it has as among its top 10 treasures.) There are also artifacts galore: tools, religious objects, cutlery, bowls, stunning pottery, including a complete green glass bottle, weights and measures, cosmetic instruments, jewelry, tombstones and yet more shoes, some with beautiful leather latticework that would make today's shoe designers blush with envy."

Interestingly, there was a Shell near Hadrian's Wall that offered amazingly cheap (for the location) petrol - 73.9p/litre.

For the last item of the day, I tried to see the 'most complete (longest surviving) stretch of Hadrian's Wall' near Birdoswald. I got as far as a mile castle before there was a steep drop through wooded terrain, so I gave up.

We then drove south to the famous Lake District, towards our Youth Hostel for the night. The Lake District indeed was beautiful, but this beauty was marred by the fact that it was raining almost continuously, where the weather had hitherto been perfect, in the short half a day that we were there, and there were very few laybys by the side of the road, so many of the spots with the best scenery went unshot.

Misc notes:

According to notes on a menu at Fountains Abbey's cafe, the widely retold tale of Marco Polo learning pasta making from the Chinese is not true. Apparently the Romans were known to have eaten pasta. So much for yet another of the urban legends propagated by the Chinese to make them feel better about themselves because of their subsequent long period of decline!

The good thing about going in late summer is that the attractions don't close as early as in winter. At the same time, I escaped the hellish heat wave - especially deadly in a country with no air cons and few fans.

My sister claims it's okay to show your bra straps in the UK because it's the local culture. Bah.

Hwa and Jie have a penchant for playing silly, petty games which waste time.

My sister seems to have latched upon a good deal - she prepares and cooks the food, and me and Hwa do everything else, like washing up and drying. Since she enjoys the former, like most females, she gets to do what she likes while getting others to do the dirty work.

There were so many nice dogs to be seen around the UK. Especially compared with the number of cats we saw.

The advantage of travelling with Jie and Hwa is that you have someone to drive the car, cook the food and do much of the planning, which saves you a great deal of hassle. This is the only way to travel!

It seemed that the roads we drove by were never dirty or strewn with leaves, even though many had trees by their side. Didn't the trees shed their leaves? If so, where did all the leaves go? A few were to be seen by the side of the road, but how did they get there if no one swept them there?

English Heritage always provides immersive audioguides which furnish you with a wealth of information. However, after a while they grate on your nerves as they're too verbose and they always insist on conjuring up some long-winded character from an earlier era to be your guide, and it becomes tiresome.

Sometimes I think it's a conspiracy. Some sites are owned by English Heritage but managed by National Trust (or vice versa). Then you find that sites near the first are managed by the other agency. So you end up having to pay ticket charges unless you're a member of both.

I wonder how they manage to come up with such glowing descriptions for various buildings and sites. After all there can only be a certain number of "best preserved", "largest" or "most spectacular" sites. Perhaps in the not too distant future, we will see a place advertised as the "best preserved 14th Century Neo-Romanesque Cathedral with an organ with the most number of pipes in England that has an extant stained glass representation of Becket's murder and was also one of the places where Charles II worshipped". Or something.

It seems people only recently have acquired a sense of history, for not too far back they were still looting old sites for their stone, lead and what not.

It isn't very nice to see historical sites that are bare of artefacts, which have all been moved to museums. The sites lose their strappings, and the artefacts their context. Nevertheless, I suppose it is necessary for conservation reasons, and to protect the items from vandalism, thieves and Mother Nature.

How come the British don't tire of Fish and Chips? Judging from the plethora of Fish and Chips shops all over the country, they must eat it very often for the shops to stay in business. Also, the British know how to make their fish extremely crispy, so why can't they do that for the chips too? Instead, the chips all come out soggy.

One day I would like to embark on a modern version of the 18th Century Grand Tour of Europe, preferably with a group of like-minded friends. I don't think I'll be able to afford it, though, so I would have to split it up into several trips. At least it is a comfort to know that British Public Transport is the most expensive and least efficient in Europe.

Why do Singaporeans always like to affect accents when talking to Caucasians? Perhaps it is a way of trying to live up to what is seen, consciously or unconsciously as higher standards. I don't deny that I am affected by it too, but I at least don't try to intensify the faux accent, and even try to restrain it.

The amount of prepared food available in British supermarkets just dazzles me when I compare it to the measly selection we have over here. But then they don't have hawker centres over there, and the only food places that open late are Chinese Takeaways. The junk food selection also compares favourably with Singapore (we have pathetically few crisp flavours), but of course it probably pales in comparison with the US.

Why do Singaporeans like to go overseas to study, but then cluster with and mix exclusively or almost exclusively with other Singaporeans, or at most, other Asians, mostly of Chinese descent? I was always under the impression that one big point about studying abroad was to get to know and interact with people from all over the world.

It seems each time I go to the UK, it becomes more and more expensive. I shudder to think how much I'd jave to pay if I went there a 4th, or even 5th time. As it stands, I'm now so poor that I'll have to eat at the cookhouse every meal and stay in camp till ORD.


Fish and chips. A great way to give hunger a battering! They're also a great source of energy and provide valuable protein, fibre, vitamins and minerals! [Ed: RIGHT.]


Wednesday, October 01, 2003

Oh wow. According to Friendster i have a total of 5 friends and am connected to 84 368 people through them.
Despite bemoaning his inability to deliver incisive critiques as I supposdly do, someone has recently been churning out some good analysis (and interesting information).

On Hair

Yeah, in police they allow you to keep your hair long. As in much longer than those army guys who have spikey hair for like 2 straight years? Policemen are allowed to keep it long so long as it looks neat and mantains a professional look.

Wah. So good.

On how filthy rich AC kids are

I actually felt quite sad for those girls who got tricked into coming over only to find like 50 plus over AC guys just gazing upon them as eye-candy material. Its not nice and not fair to them. Plus they get irritated when the usual slew of people try to hit on them repeatedly. I didn't have much part in any of this nonsense. Usually, I'd just lock myself and a few other guys up in brother's room and "watch and hear"the action (via Brother's security system) with the other guys as "reality tv". Laughing at the failures of guys who failed trying to hit on the girls. I'm sorry I'm so evil, but sometimes, you just need a cheap thrill to relax.

Emphasis added. They have a security system with cameras in the house?!

On. Erm. Psychology

To elaborate on the AC girl's 'security system'. This is a complex theory formulated by a bunch of 1988 ACSians who "have passed it down the generations". The quote goes:

"If you want a girl, you gotta win over her friends FIRST"
"Win her friends, win her, guaranteed".

Some 2SC1 bloke came up with it a long time ago after studying psychology, probability, human nature, social issues... etc all rolled into one. His theory has been tried and tested and still found true even in my batch.

For my ACS batch, we did alot of covert experiments in ACJC. One of them was to test this theory. Whilst I won't go into much detail the trick to winning a girl's heart to remove her security. Like if you feed a couple of guard dogs meat laced with glass, you can easily rob a house. Likewise, once you remove some girl's security apparatus, which are her friends, her close cliche of girl-friends etc and all those people that surround her into your favor. It is "jadikan makan" already.

Or as Prof. Wang would put it, "GG Liaoz". Or as another rugger would say, "So damn FF". Think. Think: What is simple is true.

These people have elevated such matters to a science. For more hot tales from the School of the Buaya and Buayee, do tune in!

And on Slavery (consider that this comes from the police side

I don't know much abou the PES I guess. But alot of AC people I know are either Clerks or in damn slack vocations! If not, they're all in OCS! Like half the guys I know are in OCS! The rest SISPEC and MP/RP. Only a few extras in Commandos, Divers, RT, Armour and GUARDS (Wah suffer sia!). Well, ARMY is just an organisation created to serve death as its master. What can I say?

The training is really tough. Even Maggie's bf (who is COMMANDO MATERIAL) is like out of course thanks to a dislocated knee. Then Sanee (Dalvir) is also O.O.A (out of action) thanks to twisting his knee very badly. Nonsense man this army. Drive recruits to the edge, make them suffer and get injured then put them through an utterly useless medical care system. HELLO SAF? No hospital gives patients THREE DRIPS for a cold! Nonsense man! Really rubbish I'd say! Please don't believe the public relations propaganda. Its laughable what they write sometimes.

What I saw was alot of my ayam sakit friends getting PES A/B like FREE ONE. Then all out of course end up clerks. Nonsense man!

What I heard in police, during my training. Is that the Civl Defence is somehow instructed, that when there's a car/motorbike road accident. They have to save the civilian FIRST before attending to ANY personnel in ARMY uniform (even if the guy is in critical condition). Yeah! Save the civilian and trash the dogs eh? I was quite sad when I heard this. Even at hospitals where NSmen end up in. Alot of the doctors and nurses believe they they all chao keng one, and give them shabby treatment - which is why most of my rich AC friends who get injured in army INSIST on being sent to a private hospital (ah pa will pay) cos the gahmen hospitals really descriminate against NSmen. From personal experience, I think its is so damn true.

I think honestly, if there's one gahmen organisation that 18 year olds are very unhappy with. Its definitely the SAF. Silly And Foolish. Tsk. Best thing is that they block all recourse to take such issues up to Parliament, insisting only on "proper channels of feedback". I guess they're really scared if the general public find out what really happens to alot of the guys during NS.

You learn new things daily
My Grand Tour of England and Wales - Part 1 of X

Editor's Note: I took just about 300 pictures and movies on this trip, but due to the plummet in Internet Advertising in recent years, am at a loss as to where to host them, if at all. Any suggestions would be welcome - otherwise I'll just post the most exceptional ones, and use generic Internet images to illustrate the rest of my tale.


Nothing eventful happened, except my breaking my self-imposed restriction on wearing non-white socks with non-Army footwear, happened till KLIA where there was this whole group of chinese muslims waiting for a flight to Chengdu (presumably after returning from Mecca) - the men were in white skullcaps and had flowing beards, and the women were in white tudungs. I wonder about the significance of the white.

At Heathrow, the Immigration Officer asked me what I did back home. When I replied that I was a conscript soldier, she asked to see my return ticket. Maybe she thought I would go AWOL in Britain. Actually, that would have been a rather good idea, then I could have claimed asylum!

When I got to Jie's (my sister) apartment, I finally met the cat which they'd been raving about to me for so long - FCUK (Furry Cat United Kingdom) [Ed: These people being acronym crazy, they give an acronym to everything, even to food near expiry (RF - Rotten Food)] FCUK is actually the neighbour's cat, yet he frequents Jie's apartment because there, he gets spoilt rotten, has the run of the house and gets to bully Jie and Hwa (my brother-in-law), especially the latter, because they're suckers for pussies. He looks rather stupid, and a bit evil (as are most cats), but as cats come, is rather quite and friendly. For some reason though, Jie and Hwa insist on calling him a she, as they are entrenched in their archaic ways, not having discovered his true gender till recently.

Having learnt my lesson from my last time in London, I did not count on my naturally elevated resistance to Jet Lag but instead made minor alterations to my sleeping patterns, so I was almost not affected by it at all.

Day 1 (Monday) - London-Sherwood Forest

Since the temperature was pretty tolerable, I changed into shorts and stayed in them all the way (not the same pair, though) till the next Monday.

We left somewhat early (would've been earlier if Jie had not refused to wake up) and drove straight out of London, all the way to Northamptonshire, where the Rushton Triangular Lodge (image)was. This curious building is full of religious symbolism being, among other things, three sided (to represent the Holy Trinity) - one of those things aristocrats with too much time and money do with them.

We then proceeded to look at one of the few remaining intact Eleanor Crosses, in Geddington, I believe. After that was Tattershall Castle.

The next stop was Lincoln, where I visited the gigantic Medieval Bishops' Palace (which had a vineyard, even), then the Castle while Jie and Hwa went to the Cathedral. It having been advertised as one of the 8 original Castles built by William the Conqueror, I was disappointed when I saw that the Keep and inner buildings did not survive in any condition, and that it'd been slightly slighted by Cromwell and friends. However, I got to see their Magna Carta (together with the copy I saw in Salisbury last year and the 2 I subsequently saw in the British Library, I can now say I've seen all original copies of the 1215 version), do a Wall Walk, see a cute bust of King George III and half-kill myself climbing up the observatory with its devilish stairs which gave me trouble squeezing through - not because of my girth, but the width of my shoulders (I wonder how I managed St Paul's 2 years back) (image).

At the Magna Carta exhibit, I was disappointed that all photography and video filming was disallowed to "prevent further damage" to the document. Bah. Like my CCDs damage the vellum by absorbing mystic particles and vital energies from it, causing it to lose its integrity. There's at least some justification for banning even non-flash photography (idiots who are either unable or unwilling to disable their flashes), but video recording? It's fine if they want to earn more money from postcard sales, but they shouldn't disguise their intents by claiming that it is in the interest of preservation (as did the people running the Little Penguins' Penguin Parade near Melbourne). The document itself was rather well preserved, though not quite as legible as the Salisbury version.

The Magna Carta exhibition also made much light of the importance and significance of the Magna Carta as a key step for democracy, but as many people do with history, they forget the context and ignore the fact that the Barons were securing said rights for themselves and only themselves, and had no intention of allowing their villeins fair jury trials.

At the Castle shop, I bought a DIY "Bob the Dog" pop-out for Bob to construct when he's at Wallaby. By then though, it was past 5pm, and too late for me to look at "the finest example of 12th Century Architecture in Europe", Lincoln Cathedral, at least as a paying tourist, but not for me to sit in at Evensong.

Evensong has a lot of monotone sung statements, some of which are very long, but at least all the replies are homophonic. A lot of the songs are monophonic, and many tunes are boring, but I guess if you have a million hymns to set the tunes to, they can't all be tuneful.

After Evensong, we went to Tesco to buy dinner, and I saw that Tesco Finest stocked Chicken Chasseur! Now, some may remember this dish from the School of Military Medicine (SMM) cookhouse, when the weekly pseudo-Western meal would inevitably include Chicken Chasseur - except that eahc week, the colour of the sauce would change, as would its taste. Having been disappointed by SFI, I was excited to see *real* Chicken Chasseur, which was described as Chicken with a "white wine and tarragon sauce" - haram, which may explain why the SMM cookhouse didn't cook it authentically.

After more driving, we ended up at our accommodation for the night - the Sherwood Forest Youth Hostel. Now, having heard tales of Youth Hostels from Jie, I wasn't expecting very much, though she'd assured me that they'd improved since her days of youth when she trekked halfway across Spain on foot. To my surprise, though, I found that the place was actually rather bright, neat and clean.

For the uninitiated, I will describe some aspects of Youth Hostels briefly. Youth Hostels are charitable houses which offer cheap, yet acceptable accommodation for people of little means (eg me). You get to sleep in double bunk foam beds, and instead of bedsheets, you get this shroud which you lay on the bed and clamber into, throwing your duvet over yourself. This saves time and costs for them. Most (at least all we went to) Youth Hostels have self-catering kitchens to save you even more money.

Day 2 - Sherwood Forest-York

On Tuesday morning, Hwa and I woke up an hour or so before my sister to embark on an invigorating , nippy walk through Sherwood Forest. Being casual walkers, we selected the shortest route - the one to the Major Oak and back, and along the way we saw plenty of people walking their dogs.

The Major Oak is an 800 year old tree in the centre of Sherwood Forest. It is so old and weak now, many of its branches are propped up with supports, and it it surrounded not by soil but by an inert mulch, to prevent the soil form drying. (More Information)

After waking my sister, we headed to Bolsover Castle in Derby. While walking the ruined buildings of the hall, some bird shit splattered on my arm. At one end of the compound was an inner castle, a stylised medieval castle incorporating Renaissance ideas and ideals, so looking quite surreal. Inside, there were wall and ceiling paintings in excellent condition, though I wasn't quite fond of them because they included such classical elements as depictions of Hercules and his labours, but executed in a style not faithful to classical painting. Overall, the castle gave me the impression of being very fake - a romanticised idea of what an earlier age was like, but with a plastic feeling.

On the way to our next destination, I had a look at open strip coal mining, and it looked extremely destructive.

The next stop was Haddon Hall, near Bakewell. The owner of the house doesn't seem to take very much pride in it, considering that he lives in it, as the middle portions of all the steps are extremely worn (I even took a picture of the most worn step I've ever seen), and most surfaces are uneven and unrepaired.

After Haddon Hall we left for York. By the time we got there, it was already very late, so we only got to visit Jorvik Viking Centre, where there was a theme park-esque ride, with a gay "scientist" in a hard hat sending us on a Time Travel experience (the disadvantages of pandering to kids). As rides went, it was good, maintaining a high standard of historical accuracy while still being entertaining. To increase its immersiveness, the ride had olfactory elements which, while not uncommon on rides of this sort, was a nice touch. The bulk of the smells were the generic "Ye Olde World" type which you always get in fantasy-themed rides when you pass through habitations, sort of a romaticised version of animal dung, but at one point, there were smells of cooking - perhaps the first time I've experienced this sort of thing. All in all, the ride was nice, but I think it would be cheaper and more cost effective to have the experience without the frill of having a car you sit in, and instead walk through with an audioguide.

After the ride was an exhibition, where I finally got my hands on some Lapis Lazuli, Amber and Hematite and bought them, a reproduction Viking coin and a Viking pendant, among other things. The exhibition had some wooden and leather artefacts, which is quite rare for items of this age, and there was a form for visitors to ask questions which would be answered by some experts on their staff.

At the shop they were selling weapons, which I would have bought if I'd had more money to burn - like Damascus Sword (just a fancy name for a more well-decorated sword) for 375 pounds. I enquired as to the popularity of these weapons, and the salesgirl said that the axes were quite popular. Actually I could go to Caesar's for a sword, but their swords tend to be too ornate and more for display purposes than practical use (so to speak). If I get one, it must be an authentic one, and not one with plenty of engravings and filigree.

Misc notes:

Sheikh Ahmad Yassin, spiritual leader of Hamas, looks like a druid, what with his white cowl and beard - all he needs is leaves in his beard!

With my acquisition of a digital camera, my mother can no longer complain that I waste film taking pictures of cockroaches (read: Scenery shots, without anyone in them). As an aside, I was discussing with Ben in camp about printing digital camera images, and he claimed you needed to take 1MB sized photos to print them in 4R size to analog quality, something which I doubt. I was also decrying the tendency of Singaporeans to exclusively take shots with people in them, but we reasoned it was probably because there is little scenery in Singapore worth shooting, so people rather take people shots. I suppose it's become ingrained in most Singaporeans then, but it is truly a tragedy when people waste all their film taking dull people shots for their bodies tend to block the scenery. After all, isn't that what they came for? To take in the view, and not to boast to people that they have been there.

Though the quality of ice cream is higher in the UK (no palm oil, no thank you!), with almost every type you get being of premium quality, made with cream, double cream or clotted cream, the flavours are decidedly more limited, and largely fruit-based. Partially this is due to their not using artificial flavourings, but also it is because the British palate has not been exposed to a wide range of flavours. I wonder how successful flavours such as Green Tea would be.


We don't just visit houses and gardens. We only go to houses which have an interesting history, or have someone connected to them, or a cat.

Bloody aristocrats. The French did the right thing by chopping all their heads off.


Sunday, September 28, 2003

Gah. Somehow my Phlog got removed from here, and the last few entries I sent didn't show up.

A joke Mrs Sng told us a long time ago in History 6:

Pope vs Moshe

A long time ago, the Pope decided that all the Jews had to leave Rome.

Naturally there was a big uproar from the Jewish community. So the Pope made
a deal. He would have a religious debate with a member of the Jewish
community. If the Jew won, the Jews could stay. If the Pope won, the Jews
would have to leave.

The Jews realized that they had no choice. So they picked an elderly man
named Moshe to represent them. Rabbi Moshe did not speak Latin. In fact, he
knew very little, but he was a man of great faith and well respected in the
Jewish community.

The Pope agreed. What could be easier than a silent debate?

The day of the great debate came. Moshe and the Pope sat opposite each other
for a full minute before the Pope raised his hand and showed three fingers.

Moshe looked back at him and raised one finger.

The Pope waved his fingers in a circle around his head.

Moshe pointed to the ground where he sat.

The Pope pulled out a wafer and a glass of wine.

Moshe pulled out an apple.

The Pope stood up and said, "I give up. This man is too good. The Jews can

An hour later, the cardinals gathered all around the Pope asking him what

The Pope said: "First I held up three fingers to represent the Holy Trinity.

He responded by holding up one finger to remind me that there was still one
God common to both our religions. Then I waved my finger around me to show
him that God was all around us. He responded by pointing to the ground and
showing that God was also right here with us. I pulled out the wine and the
wafer to show that God absolved us from our sins. He pulled out an apple to
remind me of original sin. He had an answer for everything. What could I

Meanwhile, the Jewish community had crowded around Moshe. "What happened?"
they asked.

"Well," said Moshe, "first he says to me, 'You Jews have three days to get
out of here. 'So I said to him, "'Up yours.' Then he tells me the whole city
would be cleared of Jews. So I said to him, 'Listen here, Pope, the Jews
stay right here.

"And then?" asked a woman.

"Who knows?" said Moshe. "He took out his lunch so I took out mine."
More comments on the ducks:

"hahahaha who's that?
what amazing screams

you yowled like a eunuchified mat rocker in a monastery??"

"Why did you send me screaming ducks?

Oh my god. YOu are insane."

I must find some way to post it online. Maybe I'll share it on Kazaa with some choice keywords, especially those taken from Kazaa Lite's default "banned keywords" list: r@ygold, reelkiddimov, kiddie, underage, ddoggprn, child porn, incest, sex child, preteen, pre teen, twinks, gay, 11yr, 12yr, 13yr, 14yr, 15yr, lolita

My queue is sure to be full.
Oh dear.

**SAR guy:

"btw, u are damn famous.
even my platoon medic has heard of u..
the great outspoken medic of 42sar. :)

my platoon medic is ***. dont think u know him. coz he doesnt know u..
but has heard of fellow medics at the medical centre talking about u...
about your blog etc... haha... so cool... i guess mindef reads your blog too..
must be careful with your words.. at least until u ord... :)"

People cooling off in the midst of the heatwave (NB: Not taken by me):

Trafalgar Square 15th July 2003

Paris Fountains June 2003

NB: These were not taken by me.

I had Sea Coconut Ice Cream for the first time today!

I miss my old wavs, though I never listened to them after I discovered mp3s. I'm especially fond of this (introduced by Tim in freer and happier times [both in more than one way]):

Shooter: - You're in big trouble pal, I eat pieces of shit like you for breakfast!
Happy Gilmore:- You eat pieces of shit for breakfast?!

The three episodes of Time Force I just watched are quite weird.

Quantum Secrets:
- Eric's Mega Battle Armour comes with Rollerblades. Wth?!
- I think it's the first time any ranger or ranger team has taken out a monster without a zord.
- Any guy who lives alone in a shoddy ghetto home who makes friends with a pre-pubescent young girl (without anyone else around), and who invites her to come over anytime she wants would most likely be viewed by society as a pedophile!

The Last Race:
- It was so obvious why they used an Asian Sales Assistant. At least they bothered to ensure consistency, but is it really so expensive to shoot a few seconds of footage of someone running into the street and bounding into a car?
- Nadira's shriek is inhuman and extremely irritating.
- The scene when Dash turned good after just a sentence by Lucas was also unbelievably bad.
- How can you become a mutant just with a dose of electricity? At least that explained why his driving suit was so grotesque and unreal. Or maybe that, like eating bananas with ketchup, is common practice in the year 3000.

Lovestruck Rangers:
- Ransik finally comes out to play!
- I wonder why the rangers stopped him from consuming his medicine. He was obviously in great pain, so it's quite sadistic to deny him his vial.
- Hilarious line - Ransik: "Ooo. Girl Power. I'm so scared."
- What a lousy monster. Why can't it cast a love spell on females too? Or maybe it only works on lesbians.

I hate the ads for Boneeto, some calcium rich milk drink, that they always show before, during and after Time Force. Does anyone really think kids give a shit about making their bones strong by drinking calcium rich drinks?

On reflection, I'm glad that the newer seasons do away with the unrealistic "teens" premise.

Why do I like Power Rangers so much? - And if it wasn't For Power Rangers I wouldn't have met My Awesome girlfriend (pinky)! - ??? Too bad he doesn't explain what he means.

Power Rangers Poetry

I'm trying to find out how Bob Manahan, aka Zordon, died in 2000. So far the best I can come up with is a testimonial by him for Strauss Heartdrops. So apparently his heart did him in. [Addendum: Apparently it's not the same person. The one I'm looking for died at the age of 43.]
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