Friday, July 28, 2006

Not my nose, but the smile is all mine!

You can't tell from the picture, but he is doing something vaguely smartass.

Four Assholes, And Only One is Mine

My stars must be aligned appropriately. Today is 3 asshole day. I'm loving it!

On a scarier note, have just committed to the Nikon D2X plus 2 lenses, one of which is heavier than my son. I am elated, but if my pics don't improve after this, there will be screams.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

More Crying while Changing

A common tragic everyday occurrence. Love the little scrunched up face - it makes it incredibly difficult to put the camera down. So I didn't.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

The Mummy is a Patriot

The lighting isn't great in this photo, so you can only just about make out the 1.5-storey flatpole on top of the Mummy's house. But the pyramid is all lit up in its full Egyptian glory for the whole neighbourhood to enjoy.

Incidentally, the pyramid seems to have sucked the patriotism out of the vicinity since this is the only flag on display. Seriously George, it's not my fault. I heard the reminders in the evening news, but market bo sell flag leh. George? Are you there, George? Hello...?

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

That Rule of 10

About a million blog entries, a lifetime of backaches and 1 epidural ago, I used to be a single yellow female, playing the dating game. And when I was not dating anyone exclusively, I played the Rule of 10.

I'm no scientist, but I sincerely believe it takes approximately 10 men to please 1 red blooded Asian girl. I'm not talking about you-know-what --- I'm talking about SOCIAL intercourse. Without 9 other reserves, it would be impossible to look at a single man, in isolation, and really appreciate his qualities. Sometimes the really good ones are all shy and diffident (translate - borrrrring) until about the 10th date. Who on God's green earth is going to wait so long? Only someone with a fallback position. Or 9 fallback positions. With that number of reserves, the single quiet, not so cute guy becomes interesting because he could be a different creature from the others you currently have in your collection. Maybe you're building up your collection and you need another 3 or 4. This one could help you tally up the numbers. In the least, you'll give him a couple more dates before you write him off as a bad investment.

With 10 men, you can have:

- up to 3 bastards
- 2 good looking ones (no personality nair mind)
- 1 or 2 not so good looking, but with great personalities (who inevitably end up being the front-runners)
- 1 who is rich (drive sports car/ rich fambly)
- 1 who is cool (ride motorbike/ models CK underwear)
- 1 is experimental (like, someone you wouldn't ordinarily date but you just want to try. Someone with tattoos/ a criminal record - am not talking about a traffic offence here/ much much older/ younger/ related to you (gasp!)).

I haven't elaborated on bastards. You know why? Because they're indefinable, and they're all different. In my collection of bastards, I've had:

1. Chester the Molester (attempts date rape - in my case not successful - but completely charming the whole time he's trying to get you comatose with the drink)

2. Camel Eyes (smokin' gorgeous, completely disinterested in a commitment but keeps calling)

3. Rawk DJ (married Eurasian deejay with a gorgeous wife and a little girl. Will chase anything that moves).

4. Secret Squirrel (rich, drives black beemer, takes me out to empty restaurants and romantic (remote) places, completely charming and completely lying about his marital status. I did not know he was married until a year after we stopped seeing each other).

All that's firmly behind me now. I miss the excitement but I don't miss the excitement, you know what I mean?

Monday, July 24, 2006

I's in Agony

This blog is becoming a real wailing wall for me.

In a misguided effort to be a "happening mom", I ventured out last Saturday morning, ALONE and ON FOOT, with The Son. The whole idea was to spend half a day with him and somehow manage to combine weekend destressing with getting to know my son a little better. It's just one kid. How difficult can this be?

I sit here now, with half my back throbbing in agony, almost unable to get out of bed without third party assistance, and I ask myself, what on earth was I thinking. Once out of the house, where he runs around like a crazy chicken, the Son refused to walk on his own and had to be carried ... let's see... over an overhead bridge to a bus stop, onto the bus, in the bus, off the bus, onto the train, in the train (no seats, bloody hell), off the train, to Centrepoint, throughout breakfast, to the pedicurist, throughout the pedicure, to the toilet, throughout the toilet visit (I should get a medal for this) and finally to the toyshop where he deigned to stand and walk around on the condition that I buy for him the S$24.90 jar of coloured blocks that he picked off a shelf (turns out he didn't want the blocks, just the jar, so I paid S$24.90 for a cheap plastic jar).

Somehow along the way, I managed to do something incredibly horrible to my back and now it's a challenge just to get up from my chair to collect my printing. Lying on my left side in bed is just not an option anymore. Why? I dunno. It's sheer muscle-related agony. It even hurts when I yawn. Frankly, I think it was the toilet visit that did it. How is it possible to carry a baby whilst ... attending to urgent matters in a public toilet cubicle without sitting down. A squirming toddler who screams when his feet touch the floor. Eventually, I had to put him down for about a minute whilst ... I tidied up. The screaming and crying and whining bounced off the toilet walls and I couldn't think straight - it's a miracle I managed to ... tidy up and not come out looking like I'm incontinent. Then I opened the door and a little girl was standing just on the other side with this look of absolute horror on her face. Yes! I was cutting him up in there! You caught me!

Heading out (gingerly) for a massage, although it's possible that nothing short of a back transplant will help.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Morning Frustrations

Server is down. No email access. I, who have evolved into a specialised machine operator, am lost.

In other news, some people don't like changing their shirt.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Shutterbug Bit Again

Have agreed to join a group of lunatics to stand in some God-forsaken patch of mud and grass in the dark to take photographs of the fireworks on National Day.

Am also arranging for my second viewing of someone's Nikon D2X with accompanying lenses (Nikon - made in Japan not Thailand), all of which will cost more than I can bear to think about even when I'm writing the cheque.


Wednesday, July 19, 2006

New Favourite Pic

Even though all his clothes were wet after the photo shoot.

This is the thing with the Yellow Tape

In a comment to a previous entry, the Screwy Skeptic asked what was the deal about the ban. I wanted to find out more, and also, due to my training, I am no longer able to give a simple short answer to a question like that.

Therefore, a post.

Pursuant to an amendment of our written laws in relation to the banning of smoking in public places, smoking is now prohibited in indoor eateries such as neighbourhood kopitiams. However, hawker centres without outdoor areas can convert 10 per cent of their indoor seating capacity into smoking corners. So if you have 10 tables, only 1 can be designated. It is arguable if you can pull up additional chairs to that table, but frankly that is in breach of the "10 per cent. SEATING capacity" rule.

For those with outdoor seating areas, up to 20 per cent of the outdoor area can be designated for smokers. So if you have 8 tables, only 1.6 tables can be designated. You can't round it up to 2 because that would exceed 20%. So you have to round it down to 1 table only. I haven't found any regulation requiring that table to be directly exposed to the sun, but there must be something because THEY ALL ARE.

Businesses have to demarcate smoking corners clearly or state clearly if smoking is banned from the outlet, or be fined S$200 for the first offence and S$500 subsequently.

Accordingly, the smaller businesses have used the yellow tape whilst the larger businesses (e.g. Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf) have decided to go with spanking new plastic "Smoking" and "No-Smoking" signs. I previously thought the yellow tape industry would benefit from this, but maybe the smaller businesses have decided between themselves to split a single roll of yellow tape (they all look the same what) hence no significant impact on sales. It's definitely the plastic sign makers who are having the last laugh.

Smokers could be fined S$200 each time they flout the law, and up to S$1,000 if they refuse to pay the fine and the matter will be brought to court.

However, those caught smoking can take some comfort (Singapore style) that they can pay their fines hassle-free almost anywhere, anytime within 14 days -- either by cash, cheques, cash cards or at "AXS" machines.

AXS machines are access points and portal connectors to web services, information services, e-applications and wireless applications where the public can also pay their bills as well as fines.

All of the information above is hereby attributed to The Smoker's Club, Inc. (The United Pro Choice). The sarky comments are mine.

My personal prediction of where this is going - by 2010, it will be illegal for a smoker to expel air from his lungs if more than 10% of that air includes nicotine-related compounds. Accordingly, smokers who wish to exhale will only be permitted to blow the smoke up their own asses.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Must Smoke to be Creative

It is dusk and fashionably cool outside our office balcony. I can't confirm this personally since I'm sitting at my desk, but the ad agency girls in the balcony of the opposite office block obviously think so. They're smoking, laughing, chatting, flicking their (uniformly long brown) hair and trying not to let the wind blow their tiny little tank tops off. Oops what was that, a handkerchief in the wind?

The New Look Smoot

There is a subtle but distinct difference in my blog this morning. There are LINKS!!!!! There is a SITE METER!!!!!!

You might be thinking, hmm.. obviously this blog has been touched by non-Smoot hands and you are absolutely right! The Husband took it upon himself to do all these IT-type things last night when Smoot was weeping over yet another episode of Grey's Anatomy and The Son was sleeping in the Big Bed by himself (unattended!) for the very first time ever.

For all these things are beyond Smoot. When I wanted to find the blogs that have now been linked, I'd have to search back through months of previous entries, find the comment of the relevant person and then get on to their blog. Or hightail to someone else's blog who has a blogroll longer than just 3 names. Slightly exhausting. Now, I can just click! Am all powerful, I am.

The site meter will be removed shortly. The Husband insisted on installing it, and I've made it clear (pre-, during and post-site meter installation) that it must go. This blog is my sole act of whimsy - it's pretty much the one thing I do solely for ME which is completely irrelevant to what I do on an everyday basis, so that the 99% of my brain which sometimes just doesn't want to think about legal matters/ contract clauses/ screwing someone over can just relax and think like a normal human being for once.

And I can't achieve this with a sitemeter clicking away. Can Not Have A Site Meter. So you know who you are. Please remove it.

On a lighter (and sweeter) note, I have a quarter of a waffle on my table waiting to be eaten. It is Cheap Fucker's Day at Gelato (waffles only).

Monday, July 17, 2006

What's your name?

While staring with insane envy at the beautiful photographs of my favorite flickr-ite, Sesame Ellis, I read a little blurb she wrote about what her name is about. It's straight out of a child's game where your play-name is the name of your first pet, combined with your mother's maiden name. Mr or Ms depends on the pet. I played that game the other day in the car with The Husband, The Maid and The Son.

My name: Mr Snowball Chan

Husband's name: Ms Dee Dee King

Maid's name: Mr Kelvin Malabalas (I can't believe she named a dog Kelvin!!!)

Son's name: Mr Angus Smoot

What's your name?

Friday, July 14, 2006

The Yellow Square is Very Crowded

Ever since The Ban came on, the demographic at all the outdoor cafes and coffee shops has changed dramatically. I just had tea at the Flying Pig cafe, Suntec Tower 3, and noticed that outside the smoker's square demarcated by cheap yellow tape, almost all the tables were empty. Inside the yellow square, it was full house, except for one table which was half in, half out of the yellow tape. No one wants to sit there because you look like an idiot with smokers only occupying half the table and all facing the same direction. Plus is it not against the spirit of the law to blow the smoke into the non-smoking area?

Same story at Killiney Kopitiam at Millenia Walk. It would have been the same story at the Indian restaurant a little further down, except that the 2 tables they allocated for smoking customers were occupied by cutlery and water jugs. Smokers are not welcome, said the cutlery and the water jug.

I think the people who have come out well from all this are the people who sell yellow tape.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

One of these days I'm going to give myself a fucking heart attack

I arrived in the office bright and early this morning only to notice that we had no email access and no internet access. Just like that, without warning. After a flurry of calls to the Singapore IT guys and anyone else who could possibly help, we were finally informed (by the beleaguered IT guy who had to rush down post-haste with his handphone ringing like crazy) that it is OUR SERVICE PROVIDERRRRRRRR.

To protect the self-admittedly guilty, I'll not mention the name of our service provider (what's green and slow?) but really this has happened enough times for it to become ridiculous. Of course we did not get any call from the ISP informing us that our network was down. Maybe they were hoping we wouldn't notice. One of our staff called to ask and after some discussion, we were informed that some of their lines are down, and this may affect some customers. For how long? For some time. How much time? Cannot tell because our engineers are trying to fix it. How long is a fucking piece of green string? I don't fucking know.

After an entire morning of getting calls from clients and having to explain that we were defeated by technology, I finally tried calling Sta.. I mean, the ISP, themselves to get a clearer answer. After listening to repeated "We can't tell you how long it will take to fix the problem", I finally started screaming "So you can't tell me if it will take hours, or days, or weeks, is it? Like the last time this happened and it took a week to fix, and you couldn't even tell us how long? You haven't told me anything I couldn't have told myself, sitting right here, talking to nobody except myself. Self, how long will the computer be down? Self says, I don't know. It could be hours, or days, or weeks. I think they're trying to fix the problem. So it'll be fixed when it's fixed!!! Ho ho ho!!!"

To be fair to the person on the line, she actually heard me through and finally said "We can't tell you how long it will take to fix the problem." before telling me she'll get "someone" to call me back. (of course no one did)

What does it take to get through to them. We do not expect a goddamn miracle. I just need to know roughly when this can be fixed. So that we know whether to send people home to work, or not. And if it's not fixed by tomorrow, whether we should get people to work from home. Plus we have at least a definitive timeframe to inform the clients and fellow colleagues in other offices. So we don't look like we're sitting on our hands here.

By evening, we were back online, but no one had provided any explanation or (gasp!) an apology. I finally called our "Dedicated Customer Service Officer" to ask what happened. Not sure. Will it happen again? Dunno. What do we get for business interruption? Nothing. Your contract says very clearly that we are not liable to you. Well thanks missy - do you think that people who are stupid enough to sign up with Sta.. sorry, [ISP] are also too stupid to read the contract and must call you to read it for them?

Jesus Christ. Finally, I just asked her how much additional money we could possibly pay for better service. Is our plan too cheap and therefore we get all these service interruptions and non-answers? Are we in arrears or something? Do we consistently pay late and therefore service levels have to be reduced? Tell me, what kind of super el-cheapo plan are we on, when an email from SINGAPORE to someone else in SINGAPORE can get held up for days because an undersea transmission cable off JAPAN is damaged? [When we called them about that interruption, we were informed that the ISP had sent their ship to go and repair the cable, but it would take some time because it involves sea travel. Can you beat that??] I fucking LOVE these people. I LOVE THEM.

Just to demonstrate ridiculousness, and also to see if I'm overreacting, the next time a client asks "When can we receive your advice?", I'll say:

"I don't know. We are looking into it. Our partners are trying to resolve your issues. You'll receive your advice when we send it to you. Also, please note that by the terms of our engagement, we are not liable to you for anything. Thank you for calling and have a pleasant evening!!"

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

I'm so proud of my tuition student!

I taught this guy math and science for 2 years when he was 14 and 15. Now he's a semi-professional photographer and also set up this really kewl website!

I am so proud! Also noted that there is nothing math-y or science-y about this website or anything he does now, but hey.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Separation Anxiety Not Applicable to All Parents

The Husband informed me this morning that The Son had cried buckets upon his departure from the homestead. The whole shebang - the clinging to the leg, the whining, drooling and crying with snot running from his nose down his chin and the absolute refusal to accept the maid in temporary substitution for daddy.

Yet I seem to recall The Son waving goodbye to me this morning with a calm complacent look on his face. And I wasn't even ready to leave yet - I just pulled my suit off the rack and that was apparantly enough.

(Wave) Bye mama. See ya.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Bearers of False Witness! And the False Witness that they bear!

Can't believe I spent 3 hours yesterday watching some woman lie and lie. It was disgusting. I wanted to wash my hair.

Basically a client decided to convene an emergency meeting to confront a contract party who was in flagrant breach of contract. Also diverting business to herself, and not hiding it very well. Urgh... this is why I do not practise litigation.

When confronted, she denied any knowledge of the events that amounted to a breach. We have photographs, said the client. We can get sworn statements, said the client. You have allowed our competitor into your business premises (she's my friend!). You have allowed our competitor to access your computer records (she was checking the ingterneck!). You have allowed our competitor to give instructions to our staff and to liaise with our customers (she was chatting only what!).

I tells you. What kind of woman would fuck around with a contract where she gets to earn between S$30k - 40k per month, free and clear. All she has to do is follow the instruction manual and do her job right. Too bad I'm in a position of conflict because we are the lawyer - I'd love to take over the contract myself.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

300 of my best.

As we are coming close to the end of the classes, the photography teacher has asked us to submit 300 of our best shots. Special allowance has been given to "some of us" who have shown a propensity to take photos of small children, to submit those photos instead of the ones we were originally supposed to take. Being photographs of tall buildings, special perspectives, lines, curves, stuff like that.

I wanted to post a picture of one them tall buildings that I had actually photographed but as you can see I got distracted. This is a 12-year old Pokemon tee shirt (of which I have 10 almost identical versions) which I have worn to sleep every night since my second year in university. Well, almost every night. Anyway.

Speaking of antiques, the relocation of Chinatown market to Outram has resulted in my usual vegetable seller disappearing to sell her vegetables somewhere else. So I was forced to buy vegies from a complete stranger last Sunday. Boy was I surprised when I didn't have to throw out 50% of my silk squash because it was too old. And it was cheaper! I believe my previous vegie seller was charging me a premium because I was buying some genuine antiques from her. My maid suggested once that if we waited a few days, we could dry out the squash and use it as a loofah.

Braving the Shitstorm/ Yes, I'm still bitching about it

It's so innocuous how these things start.

At a meeting between clients and advisers to discuss the structure of a transaction, Smoot asks the Indo tax adviser - doesn't this particular approval need to be obtained by 1 August? Indo tax adviser, miffed that I am intruding upon the hallowed grounds of his authority and knowhow, replies in a loud voice which is clearly audible to all: "That's where YOU are wrong, Smoot. It is not necessary at all to get this approval until year end when the accounts are finalised."

The client then mumbles something which must have gotten the gears moving because the Indo tax adviser says in his next breath "Actually, given the specific facts of this transaction, it would be necessary to get that approval by 1 August after all. SMOOT - please ensure that [blah blah blah blah blahdeeblah] gets done by this Tuesday. Please ensure that ... please ensure that ... we are depending on you to ..."

I ask you. Who would not be pissed. Basically 3 entire days to draft all the documents for the entire transaction as well as corporate resolutions for all of the parties concerned and to open the bank accounts as well as trading accounts for one of them. Do-able. Then last evening during a telephone call, Indo tax adviser's colleagues in Singapore start to hedge and say that even if we get everything done now, it's still impossible to get the approval. When asked to clarify this statement, she hedges the hedge and says it is unlikely, although not impossible. When asked to clarify this statement, she tap dances all over the place and at one point, even giggled girlishly. I hate it when women use that tactic to get out of a difficult situation.

So basically I have a horrible deadline imposed by the Indo tax adviser (which I'm pleased to say I met) but the tax advisers have still hedged on their obligation to get things done in time. Clients are keeping quiet, but I'd love to be able to hear what they are thinking. I do know that they have appointed another tax adviser on the sly.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Well Obviously I'm Not a Jedi Yet

My schedule the entire last weekend and the beginning of this week has been unexpectedly messed up by the unexpected appearance of a tai-chi master in an ongoing transaction. I've always been skeptical of consultants/ tax advisers and I will continue to be skeptical until I am proven wrong and it will be a happy day (as well as a cold day in hell) when I am in fact proven wrong.

I'm not endearing myself to anyone by saying that I have had more than my fair share of consultants/ tax advisers who are tai-chi masters. The guy I met last weekend when I had the occasion to travel to Indonesia was such a one. I arrived with a very limited mandate. I left with a very full mandate. Chock full of juicy goodness. He managed to shuffle most of the "to do" things in his consultant's checklist to me. Then he got to the item of "Who is going to get the tax clearance certificate" and I could see the thought bubble in his head forming. Before he could open his mouth to say, "Smootie, can you handle this as well" I said loudly "I've never done this before, and I can't guarantee anything."

So reluctantly he keeps that on his own "To-Do" list and I find out today that he hasn't even delegated it to his own colleagues in Singapore. Plus they called me to find out the name of the company involved in the transaction. "How do you spell that?"

Pissed I am. Really really pissed.

Monday, July 03, 2006

World Cup Fever

The Son was inspired by all the activity on the pitch, and insisted on dressing up. Here he is, taking a corner kick.

Dribbling.... (in the football sense, and in the literal sense)
That's dad's socks he is wearing, btw. Refuses to wear his own socks.

We watched the England vs. Portugal match on Saturday evening. The Son waited for England to score.