Friday, June 30, 2006


Just went for my second photography class, and took this picture.

This is what the class looked like, when we were taking this picture. It would be an understatement to say that some people stared.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

"There was no ledge!" and other sad tales

It's been a long and trying day and I am grumpy as hell, but I'm sure nothing compares to the kind of day all the office building window-washers must be having. Of late it seems as though no office building in Singapore would be complete without some man in overalls dangling from a rope with a soapy window-sponge.

Usually I'd give all this a miss by simply closing the blinds but in my current office, we have a balcony which every window-washer for this building seems to be using as a launch pad. They walk through our office, trudge out into the balcony, stand on (I said on, not near or against or away from, but ON) the balcony railing, light their little cigarettes, chat a little and then they start to tie a rope around their otherwise completely unsecured bodies and jump off.

A colleague had minor heart palpitations when he saw. There's a ledge, I told him blithely. It's just a metre or so down. They might be bruised, but that's it. He was not in agreement. This evening, we walked out to the balcony and looked over the railing.

I guess it's a good thing that I didn't know.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Seminar Dog

Am giving yet another seminar this afternoon despite my swearing off seminars forever as my teeth cannot take the constant grinding and are starting to show considerable wear and tear. It was a combination of the last minute request, an attractive attendee list and a former acquaintance on the telephone pleading for help. God. Now I'm in full panic mode, plus I went to sleep last night with wet hair with the consequences we now see in the mirror.

One of the other speakers at today's seminar has started a Speaker's Guild, which really is more like a Speaker's Union since its main purpose is to improve the conditions of a speaker's appointment. For one thing, each attendee pays anything from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars to attend each seminar. Do they know, I wonder, that not a single cent of this goes to any of the speakers? Depending on the length of the seminar, anything from 70 - 90% of the proceeds go to the organisers, whom no one ever sees because they just book the venue, send out flyers, collect the cash and send some young lady to go babysit the seminar itself. At one seminar in particular, the organisers made S$50,000 in pure profit, after deducting the venue costs. Each speaker received a complimentary name card holder.

Does the audience also know, I wonder, that the speakers don't know who they are? Not through lack of asking. It's like asking the organiser to give us the keys to their safe or something. Who are the attendees, I ask. Sorry. We can't tell you. Yes, I've bitched about this before but it still pisses me off.

Finally, there is the issue of equipment failure. If the microphone fails or the slides don't work properly, it's the speaker that's going to look like a complete eejit while the organiser's babysitter sits quietly in the audience hoping for a miracle. Unless, of course, they're not actually in the audience - they're outside reading a book.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Mama was Bad

He was playing with the scarf and I couldn't resist.

Monday, June 26, 2006

My Dirty Weekend

I mentioned the romantic getaway of Husband and myself, about 2 weeks ago. Just us and The Son. No in-laws. No maid. How easy is that?

We brought him to the beach. He didn't like the beach.

We brought him to the pool. I think he liked it.

What he really enjoyed, was the toilet paper roll from the hotel bathroom.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Wow. Late entrance into some random controversy

I've been noticing this rather pretty girl that looks like a rabbit with no obvious occupation and who has been getting a lot of media attention, e.g. Stomp, FHM, etc. Dawn Yang. Appears to have attracted a lot of good and bad publicity, and plenty of accounts about how she had Something Done.

If the "BEFORE" pictures are anything to go by, the person who has the most to complain about is her plastic surgeon, who did all that work but must now get absolutely no credit or recognition whatsoever. My God - the dude actually made her eyes bigger. What the heck is that all about. And the shape of her face is completely different. So is just about everything else above and below the neck. I figure he must have looked at all his instructions and just transferred her brain into someone else's body.

Yeah, I know this is so last year. I'm vague. What's that - it's Friday already?

Thursday, June 22, 2006

My Neighbour is a Mummy

The strange incidence of the neighbour with the overly-extended lightning-rod has been constantly on my mind and not in the least because of its property-value reducing properties.

The husband suggested in passing that there might be more to the lightning-rod-with-cables-attached idea than just recreating Frankenstein in Singapore, such as the fact that the neighbour is effectively creating a pyramid on his roof.

And lo and behold, he is right. The cables and lightning rod create a pyramid. I googled the pyramid idea and this is what came up:

"It has been observed that for pyramidal shapes, there is a concentration of energy in the center of the Pyramid, at about 1/3 of height up from the bottom. This kind of energy is capable, for other things, of mummifying a piece of meat that is placed there.

In this experiment, identical pieces of meats were used for 2 Pyramids, with another one for each to be placed outside as a control. The results were stunning! In the case of the Pyramid believer, the morsel inside was preserved with a nice pinkish color while the one outside became black and started to rot."

That's fantastic. Just what I need. A neighbour who gets preserved (with a nice pinkish colour), whilst the rest of us around him become black and start to rot. Real nice.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006


I attended a breakfast seminar this morning and it occurred to me that this probably ranks fairly high as one of life's little ironies. A breakfast seminar starts at 7.30 a.m. and wraps up at 9 a.m. sharp so that all attendees will be spared the inconvenience of missing more than half an hour's work. For this opportunity, attendees have to greet the day as early as 6 a.m. and get out of the house by 7 a.m. How it could be possible for someone who got up at 6 in the morning to be able to absorb and digest facts and legal arguments by 7.30 a.m. is beyond me. I for one feel like I have been exhumed, dragged out of a crypt by my hair and then forced to shake hands and exchange namecards with complete strangers. And I'm sure that's how I looked.

As luck would have it, I sat next to a very intriguing PR manager who kept me awake. It's not a compliment. I've always lamented that it's impossible to be sleepy and irritated at the same time. You're either one or the other, but you can't be both. She irritated the hell out of me within 3 minutes and after that I was completely alert. She reminded me of 3 people who used to be friends and acquaintances but are no longer. Come to think of it, why is someone like that even put in charge of PR. It's like hiring the Anti-Christ for a PR position.

She insulted people. People she just met. It wasn't direct, but it was as subtle as a sledgehammer.

"I've never heard of your company before." she said to the guy on my right, who is the country manager of a rather international recruitment firm.

"Your accent is funny." she said, to the guy on her left, an Irishman.

"See you around ... I suppose." she said to me and a colleague when we were parting. "I never attend these events." she said, in leaving. Yes. Maybe you should stop attending. Please.

I don't think she was stupid or silly. I think she just derived pleasure from putting people down and seeing the looks on their faces. I can never understand people like that. I had a friend of some 20 years who put me down constantly throughout 3 dinners in a row and since then I have not been able to meet her due to my busy personal schedule. So what are you people up to these days, she would ask. And then laugh when I tell her and say "you're so provincial", or "that's so boring" or "that's just so typically Singaporean", as if she had not spent the first 18 years of her life in Singapore. Honey, did I say we spend our days digging for cassava and licking ants off trees for extra nutrition? And when she said getting married and having children was "so typically Singaporean", I almost ground my back tooth off I was so irritated.

Yes, as you can see, Singapore is the only country where the population is actually increasing in the traditional way. In central London (just behind Harrods) which is where you come from, everyone is 20 years old forever in the latest Galliano and they reproduce by mitosis. You can be as cosmopolitan as you think you are, sweetie, but is your passport still red?

Monday, June 19, 2006

Your teenage son, just after dinner and before he jacks off to his nightly porn

A client asked for a quote to translate some docs to Chinese and in line with yours truely's good practice, I sent him a quote from one of our Chinese lawyers, and another from an external translator (not legally trained). The external translator quoted US$280, just US$40 or so off our Chinese lawyer. I sent both on to the client.

Why so expensive? asked the client.

I told him I thought it was quite competitive.

Do you know anyone who can do it cheaper? he asked.

As a matter of fact, I do.

I hate to remind you again, but when are we having lunch with Adele?

It's not a crush that girls have on other girls. Adele brings me great joy. I'd like to meet her again. You know who you are - can you please fix lunch?

We all have our specialist practice areas. A friend of mine specialises in dating pale slim Chinese women with rather flat faces and very sparse eyebrows. I referred to them as "Hello Kitty" faces once - ok, more than once - and I think he's still mad. I spoke with him once before a rather formal get-together and he was in a foul temper.

I'm scraping the bottom of the barrel, says he. I've just had my date cancel last minute and no one is available except Adele.

Who's Adele?

She's this very pretty girl. Great bod. Pretty face. Nice hair. Dumb as dogshit.

What's the problem with that?

You'll know. We'll sit with you.

And so it came to pass that I ended up sitting in a tight little group with Adele and my smirking friend. And by "tight little group" I mean not enough people to start an alternative conversation with. It was terrifying. It was clear from the get-go that her world revolved around a single axis, and that axis had "ADELE" inscripted in bold and uppercase, underlined twice. There was no topic too remote that could not be gently led back to the topic of herself, there was no other topic that she would prefer to discuss and I tried my best, but it was like trying to steer a headless chicken with a rocket jammed up its tight little ass.

I think at one point we were actually discuss politics, something about which I could not be less interested but nonetheless I was tired of talking about Adele and her drinking and partying. Then it switched to someone knowing someone else in the "biblical sense". Adele avidly watched the 2 people talking, her eyes switching from one to the other like she was enjoying a tennis match.

Bible? she finally cut in. I'm not religious. I just like to drink.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Everyone's Dog is a Snitch

It's said that your pet reveals a lot about you, but could it actually be possible for your pet to tell the neighbours what you've been eating?

I'm not talking about a dog puking all over the street - this curious phenomenon came to my attention fairly recently when I noticed a tomato plant growing in our back yard.

What the fuck is that? I asked the husband.

It's a tomato plant. Can't you see the tomatoes growing on it?

Yeah, but why are we planting tomatoes? And why is it growing in the middle of nowhere? [Subtext: Can you see straight when you plant?]

I didn't do that [Subtext: Yes, I can see straight.]. It was Angus (the dog). He pooped over there and it grew a plant.

That's fantastic. Now we can have some nice free organic tomatoes. And if we keep this up, we could have an organic farm with all my favorite vegetables! Too bad the dog has to be the middleman.

I passed the neighbour's yard this morning and notice they have some lovely portabella mushrooms in full bloom.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

You Are Where You Sit

I come from a junior college where, depending on your seating position in the canteen, it's actually possible to tell (i) whether you're a Science/ Arts/ Commerce student; and (ii) your degree of happeningness.

Like, if you're "with it", you'd be sitting at the end of the canteen right next to the drinks machine, the running track and the gym where you get to see all the toned athletic types jogging, playing netball or just walking around in short shorts.

If you're reasonably cool, you'd be sitting in the middle of the canteen watching people walk in and out, and just chillin' with the dudes.

I sat at the end of the canteen next to the carpark, with all my JC1 classmates. We had a great view of the carpark, the road and ... the sky. Mostly the sky. Every now and then, someone athletic in shorts would wander by, and we would look up in amazement. Like this one time when a JC2 student walked into our neck of the woods by mistake (he was looking for the chicken rice stall). As if to underscore the deeply uncool locale in which he found himself, he stepped on and over the table at which I was sitting and almost landed in my bowl of noodle soup. I was honoured.

Anyone who spent the early 1990s in a junior college would almost immediately know what college I went to. And that I was a triple science student. "All you RJC snobs." they would say. "It's an RJ thing." they would say.

Well, why is it even now I am still identifying my NUS classmates by where they sat in the Lecture Theatre? "Who the fuck is that?" a classmate would say, in reference to another classmate I've just mentioned.

"She sat in front lah. Front, centre."

"Oh. Not cute lah!" Like that's the whole point.

As far as I can understand, the classification is thus:

1. Front Centre: These are the mighty morphing power muggers. They sit in front so that they can copy everything on the slide and if they can't make out what the lecturer is saying, at least they can read her lips.

2. Middle: These are a mix of people who came for the lecture on time/ wanted to sit in front, but there were no seats left.

3. Back: Latecomers/ Don't give a crap about the lecture/ Want to catch up on sleep/ Not dressed properly even with the low standard of dress code and therefore could catch it if the lecturer could see what they were wearing.

Like there was one time this girl in the lecture theatre in front of me stood up and there was suddenly this overwhelming smell of ... sperm. Not in the sense that she was a he, but in the sense that she might have had a good time last night. Gross.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Welcome to Oyster Heaven/ Welcome to Oyster Hell

I was en-route to a fairly routine client lunch this afternoon when a sudden change in plan led us to the Raffles Hotel Long Bar Steakhouse where, for a bargain price of S$40 +++, we got fantastic steak, great service and ...(drumroll) as much live oysters as I could put away under the circumstances. And by under the circumstances, I mean in front of a client without giving away the fact that I am a bottomless oyster chomping pit/ behaving like a true Singaporean at a buffet.

Effectively, this amounts to about a dozen oysters, 2 shrimp, asparagus soup, cheese, salmon tart, one filet mignon and a bunch of vegetables. Most of the oysters were fairly well behaved under the lemon squirt, but a few were downright frisky. Not only did they cringe into a tight little muscle mass when I squeezed lemon juice on them, they also twitched pathetically when I poked the fork in for the kill.

Vegetarians of the world are probably screaming. If they read this. But anyway.

I can rant for a fair bit longer about the great oysters and the fantastic oysters and the nice .. oysters. But I think I already have. But with great oysters come great responsibility. My stomach is now growling and churning for reasons I can only attribute to angry oyster gods. And yet all I can think about is Oh Yippee! If I get sick over this meal, I'll be able to write a complaint letter about how I got sick over this meal, which would result in the hotel giving me a voucher for a free meal and I can go and get more oysters. Yay!

And this time, I'm going without the client.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006


I just got interrupted 5 times, patronised and then ignored by a client, all in the space of me trying to tell him that (i) he is overpaying a contract party; and (ii) he should be able to offset this amount from another due payment.

What has the world come to when people can't even take the time to listen to someone telling them something that could save them money. Even if I had explosive diarrhoea, I'd still sit through that extra 20 seconds if I could save myself an entire US$25,000. Some people, like probably this guy's maid, could work a whole year and not even make that. When I finally get to finish my damn sentence, he tells me he's "too busy to bother with such details". Well don't let me get in the way of you saving the world, asshole. Because what else could be more important in the last 20 seconds when you could have been writing this piece of information down instead of drowning me out.

"Have been overpaying X. To stop overpaying X, ask for refund. X must think I am fool."

Monday, June 12, 2006

The husband and I are CEOs

Chief Entertainment Officers, both of us. He's the Head CEO. I'm the VP.
The Son is, of course, the Chief Entertainment Recipient.

Have just returned from a short holiday in Bintan, and am more exhausted now than I've been in a long while. It was great spending all that time with The Son, and getting to know the little person he's growing to become. He was mostly upbeat the entire holiday, except when we were trying to get him to eat, or when he was on the beach (waves too loud, and we couldn't turn down the volume for him).

I managed to get some nice photos of him in the pool, just before he muddied the waters. YES. He did Number 2 in the swimming pool. We took off his swimming costume and stuff fell out, plop plop, onto the ground. Then whilst I gamely washed out his swimmies, he peed on his father.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Of Lightning Rods and Loose Women

One of my neighbours has seen fit to set up a lightning rod on the roof of his house. Most people who do this don't attract the kind of publicity that the neighbour does, but it could be because their lightning rods aren't competing with the house to see which one is taller. Neither do they hang bright yellow Christmas lights from the tip of the lightning rod to each corner of the house, thus creating a crazy steeple effect.

Driving back home the other day, I thought we had turned into the wrong neighbourhood when a 6-storey structure with Christmas lights suddenly loomed ahead. It looks like a half-lit church. To add insult to injury, I have a great view of it from my bedroom. Who the hell in their right mind does something like this - Victor Frankenstein? A lightning rod that tall will invite lightning strikes. If I hear a monstrous roar one of these rainy nights, I'll know that a great bolt of lightning struck, causing electricity to travel down the fricking ridiculous Christmas lights to reanimate a dead body.

I'm sure the property prices in my estate have plummeted because of that hideous thing. Argh!! Argh!!Argh!!Argh!!

Speaking of loose women, a colleague of mine recently had the joy of entertaining a female insurance agent in his office for an hour. She just sat there like a lump but didn't actually try to sell him anything. His view of it is, this is just a soft sell. She will not try to sell him anything until they get to know each other better. I thought about it at some length last night. They've had coffee, they've had dinner, they've had ... an hour of chatting in his office, where people are accustomed to thinking of ... official things. And she still didn't bring up the topic of any insurance products. My view is that, either she's completely ineffective at selling insurance, or she's keen on him, and has basically done everything to make herself available except for asking him out.

I know she's interested in me, said he, after I decided to share my secret but ever so incisive opinions. But I'm not interested in her. What should I do?

Damned if I know. Most guys I've met who aren't interested just won't ask me out (let alone coffee, dinner and then one hour of extra time). If I show interest, they'll just behave like complete assholes and put me off. One guy told me he was gay. Granted that I had responded to his personal ad wherein he actually said he was gay. Who knew?

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

One of these is a joke CV. The other one isn't.

The first of the 2 links is a real CV. The second one obviously not. I read the first and wondered, is there a lot of cheap dope in Latvia? Then I realised it was a cunningly disguised personal ad. Imagine - unlimited web-time, no cost to the advertiser, and it's officially endorsed by her law firm. She's a genius! I'm sure she gets a lot of dates when people read this.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Statistics for Suntec City

A new colleague who used to work in another tower within Suntec City had the fortune(?) of working with someone who had The Sight. One day after an unfortunate incident, he asked her about the population of disembodied spirits floating around in his office.

Currently 3 or 4, was the short and calm response.


Hey, it used to be about 40, okay? I had to ask them to clear out.

I asked him about which tower, which floor. Unfortunately he answered the question. Fortunately, it's not this tower or this floor. Reportedly they congregate within the ladies' bathroom. Between holding it, and risking it, I think I might hold for a day or two until I have partially forgotten that he told me that.

Old Friends

It's such a warm and tender feeling to run into an old friend again. And it was through the barest of coincidences that we met - someone knew someone who knew someone, gave me the contact, I did a search on the internet and here we are, together once again and still the best of friends.

We had lost contact years ago, when he suddenly moved away without telling anyone. I was very sad for a long time, and never really got over the loss. I dreamed about my friend a few times, and thought I would never see him again.

Standing in front of him, it was as though no time had passed since our last meeting, and everything that had been good and wonderful about our relationship was still preserved, waiting for the day when we would once again be together.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Om.. Om.. Om.. OM.. OM.. OM..

Am still trying to calm down after an unfortunate incident this morning when The Boss used my Mac lip pencil to write a note. To his credit, he didn't complete the writing of the note once he realised it was a lip pencil. To my credit, I didn't pass out. Maybe I should stop putting my lip pencils and eye pencils in the stationery holders.

Which still isn't as bad, I think, as the locum doctor who put his hairspray with the anaesthetic spray and the sterilising spray next to the operating table of a clinic where my mom worked. Fortunately, she saw the "true-to-colour" Loreal label before she sprayed fixing gel into an open wound.

To top the morning off, have just looked at the fine print for my health insurance medical checkup tomorrow and it ominously reads "blood profile". Please please please let this translate into a pulse reading. Or a detailed examination of my NRIC for blood type information. Urrrgh.

Ok. It could be worse. It could read "stool profile" or something equally unspeakable. Like the time in a previous work place where all our staff had to provide a stool sample. And to twist the knife a little deeper, the lab did NOT want the entire piece, just a sample. I, having opted out, could have done without a detailed description but my then secretary came to the office the next day with a sad tale of how she had to, um, do Number 2 on a piece of newspaper and then extract a cross-section of, um, the product into a test tube which she transported to work using the MRT.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Happy days are here again

Two posts in a day is pretty excessive, but I need an outlet for this great joy that I'm feeling right now. Is it possible to be completely joyful and completely frustrated at the same time?

We've just been asked to work on a fairly simple straightforward project that could potentially wrap up in a month. A flurry of paperwork, some people sign things and everything is done. Very minimum fees.

But enter the other side's lawyer, impossibly earnest, thorough, careful, prudent, picky, verbose... sometimes when I'm talking to him, it's almost as though I'm trying to communicate underwater. With the dead. Everything... goes.. reallll... slow. I'm sure even my metabolism slows down so I don't have a heart attack.

If I can get away with saying something twice, then it's been a great day. Otherwise, I could be saying the same thing over 2 days, using different words, different inflections, pulling out different strands of hair. We spend so much time on the phone together and so much time trying to relate to each other and to just get along (contract clause-wise) that I almost feel obliged to ask him what time he's coming home for dinner.

I've actually re-done my makeup once over whilst having a discussion with him about why the arbitration clause should be like this, and not like that. Why arbitrate in Singapore, he asks. Why is the sky? What is the moon? Why is water wet? I also have really deep incisive questions for him.

With him on the file, this transaction will carry over into 2007 and become one of our major sources of revenue for this financial year. I'll also have the opportunity to age 20 years, as we explore together the potential consequences of, maybe, perhaps, could we consider using straight quotation marks in the document instead of curved quotation marks. And if we could change the agreement from letter format to agreement format, and then back again to a letter. Or should we still have an agreement format? What do I think?

Maybe instead of taking the clients out to lunch, we should take him. After all, he's the one that brings in the revenue for us. The only problem is that I might just kill him on sight. And then we'd really have slaughtered the golden goose.

A Newer, Better Con

A friend was once asked by some poor American from Chicago about whether working men in Singapore wear ties. I think it was unfortunate because:

(a) the American did not know that my friend just had 3 beers; and

(b) my friend did not know that the American was getting this information for a speech, to be spoken before his colleagues from Asia, Europe and the Americas.

Yeah. Life is full of sad coincidences like that.

Anyway, he told the American that no, men in Singapore don't wear ties to work. In fact, the weather is so hot that they don't even wear shirts. That's why they need to go to the gym, so that their bodies are buff and they look good in front of clients. Do they wear pants? Yes, they do. But only short pants. Short waistpants with proper leather church shoes and black socks.

Isn't it chilly in the car with air conditioning? No - most people don't drive cars in Singapore. They still use horses. That's why mornings are so hectic - everyone's getting their horse ready for the long ride, with the feeding of the horse and the brushing of its mane. It's a lot of work.

And so it came to be that my friend was sitting next to the head of the Hong Kong office at the firm's dinner and dance when she choked on her champagne, at about the time the American was getting into his speech about how lawyers constantly need to overcome the challenges of work and practice in order to deliver good product to their clients.

"Take our colleagues in Singapore for example. Do you know how long it takes to groom a horse in the morning?"