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the simple life

"One ought, every day at least, to hear a little song, read a good poem, see a fine picture, and if it were possible, to speak a few reasonable words." Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Thursday, March 31, 2005


Someone asked me whether I know anyone who organizes networking parties.

I don't. What do you do at networking parties?

You meet people. Cos you won't know whether they'll be helpful in the future.

This person who asked me, we hardly talked. Maybe I'm not that helpful.

Another friend calls me regularly to invite me to talks, seminars, etc. All of them free. All of them network marketing talks. She asked me recently to send her contacts of friends who are interested in leadership. I messaged her back and said I won't do the same to this person if someone else asks. So no deal.

Another person asked me to her wedding when I didn't really know her and we never kept in touch.

Then there are friends whom I emailed to tell them about my baptism. Old friends. Not a word from them. Others didn't really make an effort to come. Someone said it was too early for her boyfriend to wake up.

I tried to organize a gathering for old classmates. Wrote a email to a few of them and some didn't even bother to reply. I didn't email a whole lot of people, just a few.

I would imagine, without great difficulty, I have committed the above transgressions to others in the past. So I'm not angry, just disappointed.

O wretched man I am.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Give Me A Break 2

Legal mp3 music download through the loophole in Russian laws.


Save a few quid by turning off your monitors and television. Standby mode costs money.


My favourite movie blog.


Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Give Me A Break

Business 2.0 has a nice article about possible products from Apple. Read before it goes offline.


Neil Gaiman says this is "the best SF cat story there is, and if it catches you right it can break your heart".


And for something healthy, here are the confessions of a orthorexic.


Monday, March 28, 2005

Cause Everybody Cries

It seems like the whole world is hurting.

I don't have many friends. I know people but I wouldn't consider them friends. Acquaintances. Colleagues. Citizens of the world. But not friends.

So here in my world, my friends are in pain. In blogs, they rant. In calls, they speak of pain as it comes and never goes. In person, they speak a little softer. Enough for pain to cross the threshold of the unspeakable.

And here I stand unsure, unmoved and unfeeling.

A good thing? Perhaps not. A bad thing. Perhaps , but never too bad.

At this point, life is simple for me. If that changes, the blog will need a makeover. But here I stand, content.

But not perfect. Never perfect but content. Not blissfully but quite indifferently.

Perfectly content.

Am I better than my brother? No. And my sisters can kick my ass.

I sometimes become suspicious of my contentment when I see my lack of "success". My indifference to create. My passionless desire to make a mark. My listlessness in measuring.

So my friends, share your sadness, your trash, your self-worthlessness. May I become you, for the fleetest of moments, that I may become Me, for this moment called Life.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Art in a Test Tube

You will now be creative!
(Filed: 26/02/2005)

Singapore has pumped billions into new cultural projects - but can art be made in a test tube? By Peter Culshaw

Could you name a famous Singapore artist or musician? Neither could I, until I spent a few days in the city state recently. Despite a push for the arts that began a decade ago, it is still seen as a country that has had great economic success, but is rather dull and authoritarian. This is the place that famously banned chewing gum, where it is illegal to be gay, where freedom of expression is limited and there is strict censorship. Good for shopping, but not promising as a new global centre of the arts. The writer William Gibson called it "Disneyland with the death penalty".

Yet, in the past decade, around a billion Singapore dollars (£320 million) have been pumped into the arts. More and more countries are using the arts to promote themselves – recently we've had Japanese, Portuguese, Swedish, Russian and Hungarian festivals in this country. But none has attempted a social experiment on so ambitious a scale as Singapore – or started from such a relatively low point.

London's current Singapore Season 2005 is a cautious first taste of some of the results, and hopes to be part of what the organisers call the "re-imagining of the city state".

The artists that I saw who are coming to London are more than worthy of export. They include the young T'ang Quartet, a lively ensemble who have the potential to be a kind of oriental Kronos Quartet. The admirable Singapore Dance Theatre has a triple bill of Australian choreographers' work at Sadler's Wells. Perhaps the most "exciting" Singapore arts personality I met was the charismatic Ong Keng Sen, who is curating a programme of installations and video as well as a production by his own company, Theatreworks, called The Global Soul. He reminded me of one of those maverick arts types like radical director Peter Sellars or Robert Lepage; he's continually pushing what he is allowed to do in Singapore.

Most interesting musically is the Singapore Chinese Orchestra under the direction of conductor Tsung Yeh, which combines Western and Chinese instruments. It has commissioned composer Michael Nyman to create a concerto for them which will be premièred at the Barbican, and they will also be performing a Calligraphy Concerto where one of Singapore's best-known artists, Tan Swie Hian, will be creating his delicate calligraphy live at the event, projected on to a screen.

Like everything else in Singapore, the arts operation is immensely efficient. Singapore now has designated "arts belts" in places such as Little India, where support is given to subsidised artists' studios and experimental galleries with names like Plastic Kinetic Worms.

There are several reasons for all this activity in the arts. One is that Singapore's dull image was bad for tourism and for ex-pat businesses choosing where to base themselves. More significantly, an economy that was less dependent on manufacturing and more on information and software had to encourage innovation and creativity. However, there is a sense in Singapore of the development being a top-down phenomenon. One has the impression of officials giving directives: "You will now be creative! The country needs it!"

It was hard to gauge from a brief visit how repressive the country really is. Although homosexuality is illegal, there have been many plays with gay themes, and there are a lot of gay bars. Few plays have actually been banned, although writing that could inflame racial tension is seen as especially sensitive. But there does seem to be a lot of self-censorship going on. Several times when we visited arts groups, artists looked anxiously at the omnipresent representative of the National Arts Council if awkward subjects were raised. It reminded me of visiting Cuba in the '80s on an official visit when there was a Communist Party member with journalists at all times.

As the poet DJ Enright put it when he was a lecturer in Singapore, "Art does not begin in a test tube." Singapore may have the energy and resources to achieve its ambition to become a global arts centre, but there remains a sense if not exactly of fear, then of terminal uptightness.

The sense of needing the seal of approval from London also became tiring. What I was looking for was a feeling of innovation coming from Singapore; ways in which a new global city was ahead of Britain; the art that might emerge from a different cultural mix in a wired-up, futuristic city.

There are exciting plans to present an arts biennale to rival São Paulo and Venice. But much of the new art from places such as Indonesia, Hong Kong and Thailand deals with just the political and religious subjects that may clash with the cautiousness of Singapore.

Still, there were fascinating and strange collisions of music to be heard in nightclubs. And moments when I felt a real flash of the future, of what could emerge from this Blade Runner-ish fusion of technology and ancient culture. The highlight was an art installation, Andy Forever, which featured the Hong Kong action actor Andy Leow, showing death scenes from 120 of his films. The result was an evocative, poetic meditation on modern media and mortality. Just imagine what they might come up with now they can chew gum…

Singapore Season, at various venues until April 5. Info: www.singaporeseason.com

Information appearing on telegraph.co.uk is the copyright of Telegraph Group Limited and must not be reproduced in any medium without licence. For the full copyright statement see Copyright

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Let Teachers Teach

ISO awards? Forget it. Just let teachers teach

March 26, 2005
The Straits Times

BRAVO to Mrs Elaine Toh-Tan for 'setting the record straight' for teachers who would not be allowed to write such a letter to the national newspaper ('Why some dedicated teachers call it a day'; ST, March 17).

The workload as pointed out by her is not an exaggeration. Dedicated teacher friends I know have sacrificed much in their personal and family lives.

The problem is, schools expect every teacher to be strong in every aspect of the unrealistically large number of responsibilities, from mundane to big scale.

By and large, teachers are able to multi-task but they, and indeed all of us, have different strengths and limits.

On top of the difficulties highlighted by Mrs Toh-Tan, teachers also have to face the pressure of endless work reviews. Evaluation of one's performance should be seen as positive but it is not so when it seems mandatory for schools to 'fail' a certain number of teachers each year.

We must also not forget how teachers have to cope with the countless changes to the education system in recent years. I wonder if the recent syllabus slip-up in one secondary school has anything to do with this.

Mrs Toh-Tan mentioned parents as one of the challenges. I would like to add another - the 'managers' of a school. While we have been exhorted to be thinking and creative, it is still very much a 'what other schools have, we must have in our school too' mentality for many of those who lead schools.

Going by what one sees on the banners being displayed at more and more schools, rare is the enlightened principal who is able to see through and do away with the pursuit of the myriad of unnecessary programmes and awards, to do what a school is supposed to do - educate and mould the young.

To do this, teachers simply need time, time to interact with their students with 'no strings attached' as it were, no award-winning targets to be achieved.

They should not be wasting their time helping to write up reports for their school to achieve ISO, Quality Service and People Developer awards, etc. Schools nowadays may have gone off track in their mission.

To me, a teacher who has no time to update his teaching materials, to do research, to talk to students about things outside of schoolwork, has failed in his primary duty.

And that perhaps is why truly dedicated teachers, those who really want to impart knowledge and influence their students for the better, leave.

Initiatives to engage more admin help have so far not benefited teachers. Such personnel are employed basically to help the school principals and vice-principals.

Already some teachers are worried that the recent announcement that vice-principals (admin) will be appointed could only translate to even more administrative work for them - now there will be another person instructing them to follow up on this and report on that!

Teachers need help with things like collection of school fees/donations, following up on latecomers, getting bus services for school outings, nitty-gritty paperwork unrelated to teaching, among others.

Teaching has become so unreasonably demanding that some young teachers are already so tired and demoralised they are thinking of quitting once their bonds are up. No matter how much is spent on glamorising teaching then, it will not attract people to the 'profession', at least not the right type, if those in it have nothing good to say about it.

Indeed, if people are not treated right as unique, thinking individuals and if the turnover in any organisation is high, lapses will occur and we can forget about the world-class standards we are trying to achieve.

Increasing the salaries of teachers will only do so much. Most who choose to teach must have been motivated by loftier ideals than just a fat pay package. Instead, why not spread the money around - pay fairly but use the balance to employ more teachers?

There will then be a much better distribution of work, students will benefit from the strengths of different teachers and at least a part of the population will get to enjoy a healthier work-life balance.

The result? Happier teachers, more will be enticed to teach and, hopefully, more babies even!

Lee Pui Fong (Ms)

Friday, March 25, 2005

Reading Aloud

"After evaluating ten thousand research studies, the U.S. Department of Education's Commission on Reading issued a report, Becoming a Nation of Readers (1985), which goes so far as to state that "The single most important activity for building the knowledge required for eventual success in reading is reading aloud to children."

I haven't read aloud for a while, especially in front of a group.

So when I had to do it today, it felt strange.

I went online to find some information about the importance of reading aloud and found it to be extremely crucial for the development of a child's education.

Nothing is said about its importance to adult themselves until I modified my search entires a number of times.

I found on a romance site that reading aloud to your partner is a good way to share some time together. Short stories are recommended.

Another site talks about the importance of reading aloud when you are proofreading or when you are tired. You will understand the material better when you hear it, especially if you're an auditory learner as compared to a visual learner.

A weight-loss site talks about reading aloud as an exercise of gratefulness.

"I am grateful for the food I eat, its taste, its texture, its variety and its temperature. I appreciate that I have food. I particularly appreciate the existence of the following foods:________(Fill your own blanks)."

It argues that eating excessively is often an emotional issue and happy and appreciative people are less likely to stuff themselves.

For me, I think that reading aloud helps me to slow down and look at the text. I have my own version of speed-reading. The speed is there but I'm afraid that comprehension isn't always. Some, if not all, speed-reading books will tell you its ok not to have read everything or100% comprehension. The mind is a wonderful thing, they'll tell you and it magically puts everything together.

But it shouldn't be always about speed.

“if a book is read aloud by a skilful reader who is intelligent enough to know the text and able to express the meaning of a complex sentence, or thought, by vocal inflection, then it helps a young child to “read” a book they might not be able to take in through the eyes. And it forces them to SLOW DOWN, which is a blessing.”
- Phillip Pullman

I did, after some persistent searching, to find an article about reading aloud for adults.

Maybe we should start with this.


Thursday, March 24, 2005

Sorting it Out

I was talking to a friend the other day.

He's been a bit down lately. Most likely, for a long period of time. He's seeing a shrink, experimenting with meditation and trying to "sort things out".

I was telling him that sorting things out was probably the worst thing that he could do.

It's a confusing time to be a human being. There are so many theories out there, so much information, such a diversity of thought on one single issue that it threatens to paralyze us with indecision.

Take for example, I have made a decision to see only 2 insurance agents (or financial advisers since they much prefer this term). Even so, I find the array of plans being offered to me overwhelming.

I am a huge fan of thinking, contemplating and asking deep questions. But I think the worst thing to do when you're down is more thinking. Under those conditions, I find thinking to be unproductive and rather unwise.

I am encouraging my friend to be doing rather than thinking. To have small goals and to enjoy small successes. And taking small steps but enjoying consistent results. I hope this will help my friend get into the right frame of mind before trying to "sort things out".

There are many ways to make a film. One is the Hitchcokian way where the director plans in extreme detail and execute it in perfection. Another way is taking advantage of creative accidents and letting it work to the betterment of the film. An accomplished editor such as Walter Murch would be an expert in the latter.

It's funny how sometimes when we stare at a problem till we are blue in the face and get no answer. But when we are busy doing the routine things in life, sometimes things get sorted out by themselves.

Life is funny.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

A Salute

"Very few works spring to life in perfection. They grow, test themselves and slowly crystallise in collaboration with small, dedicated audiences."

I strongly believe that we need to increase our funding for the less commercialized works of art.

Having said that, I was strongly encouraged by some artists who came together to put up a show at the Substation last year.

They had no funding from NAC, almost no sponsors, so they had to fork out their own money to do this.

Many of the people involved were students as well as first-time performers. The students were in the midst of their exams and others had to juggle with work and rehearsals.

But they turned up and did the show.

They delivered.

Wasn't a great piece of work. In fact, someone who works in theatre told me that it was very pretentious. It might have been, but the production was a testament of their passion, hard work and dedication. I am sure it bodes well for their growth as artists and human beings.

While the problem of arts funding remains, let me salute the artists who work in spite of that.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Funding for local arts

March 12, 2005
Funding for local arts - a plea for discrimination
by Eleanor Wong

LOCAL theatre has taken an alarming downturn. This may sound like a strange thing to say in the wake of recent news on the arts front, like the Singapore Season in London and the budget commitment to extend arts appreciation in Singapore. But I'm worried.

For the first time in several decades of observing and occasionally participating in the theatre community, I'm worried that, due to a confluence of several factors - some systemic, some not; some foreseeable, some not - local theatre is suffering.

Over the past three years, many smaller groups have been forced to close their doors or consolidate.

Even among established groups, most are cutting back, several to the point where I'm reminded of 20 years ago, when a single artistic director was the only person a theatre company could afford to employ full-time.

What has led to this? Is it just a blip on the steady trajectory of progress? If not, what can be done to redress the situation?

Bigger is not better

LET'S start with the factors that couldn't have been anticipated.

First, the economic downturn in 2001. Next, Sars in 2003. Finally, the humanitarian crisis caused by last year's tsunami which will justifiably overshadow most other philanthropic funding projects this year.

These events have affected everyone. But for the local theatre community, they have been magnified and exacerbated by other factors.

Groups are still reeling from severe cutbacks in funding last year by the National Arts Council (NAC).

Perhaps that funding was prioritised to current darlings like the Singapore Season in London. But this may be the wrong year to gamble on a London beachhead or seed a future crop of arts aficionados.

Promoting Singapore work overseas is a step in the right direction. But, meanwhile, artists still working in Singapore must deal with legacy effects of earlier eras.

One is the building of big arts venues. On the face of it, scaling seems to make money sense. But this reflects a poor understanding of the developmental process for truly artistic work and the small absolute size of our arts-buying audience.

Very few works spring to life in perfection. They grow, test themselves and slowly crystallise in collaboration with small, dedicated audiences.

Think of Kuo Pao Kun's early works, works we acknowledge as having played a pivotal role in our theatre history and having great artistic merit. In their initial showings, they probably drew total audiences in the region of 1,000 to 2,000.

A commercial re-run of such classics (when they have become classics) may attract total audiences in the higher thousands, but rarely exceeding 10,000.

It's not that local artistic work can never attract large audiences. It just doesn't happen every day and certainly not without substantial creative investment.

In this context, building large performance venues of 1,000 seats and more forces the entire industry to move towards the commercial entertainment end of the spectrum.

It also pushes the entire industry towards foreign productions which have amortised their development costs in other jurisdictions and are therefore more cost-effective than a local commercially oriented production.

That would be fine if these shows were neutral or possibly beneficial to the local arts scene. But their net impact is negative. They hog mindspace, media attention and word of mouth.

They divert arts dollars from audiences and sponsors. They push up advertising costs by being able to afford more and therefore increase the expectations of media owners.

And they condition audience expectations on production values (I won't say artistic quality).

Bizarrely, we continue to build showcase venues that aren't really optimised for serious artistic work, like The Arts House. And there are rumours that the old Capitol cinema will be converted into a huge hall to stage musicals.

The latest interest in the arts as a driver of creativity, as a way to make Singapore seem funky to foreign talent and investors - this fascination with cultural capital - still judges the arts as important only to the extent that they contribute to some bottom line.

Arts policy-makers measure progress and determine funding by criteria such as number of performances, number of audience members, number of tickets sold. These are blunt measures that say little about the quality of the work, that cannot differentiate between attendance which responds to mere entertainment and that which is drawn to lingering art.

Any enterprise will experience ups and downs, but what if we're approaching a transition point where scaling down has an exponential effect, tipping the whole industry into a prolonged period of aridity?

The symptoms are visible. The cutbacks have begun.

Further, in this environment, the financial risk of mounting an ambitious developmental production becomes incalculable. So we are seeing that many groups are hedging by either sticking with safer work or safer-size venues or productions.

Safer work exacerbates the same trends as big venues. Moving developmental works to safer, smaller venues reduces their reach and increases the chance they will never gather the critical mass of exposure they need.

Redress the balance

TO THEATRE goers and corporate sponsors, I say this is the year to vote your arts dollars generously but judiciously.

Discriminate. Please. In favour of the group or production that offers a true value proposition, not just a fun night out or a large audience for your half-page advertisement.

To the authorities, I say the same and more.

Monitor for signs of further downward spiralling. If necessary, put some longer-term initiatives on hold to staunch the wound.

If you won't increase over- all funding, have the courage to focus your funds on a few groups rather than spread the crumbs and merely draw out the starvation process.

Definitely reconsider the case for more big halls.

And do something to redress the balance you have tipped, wittingly or not, against developmental work.

First, tier the costs of government-related performance venues - charge developmental productions substantially less.

Second, cap ticketing costs - surely Sistic makes enough from its 10 per cent cut of gate takings to offer a lower fee to arts groups?

Third, mandate cheap advertising space in the media for developmental work - give us a reason to celebrate the links between our state and media.

It's not perfect, but the NAC can pre-qualify groups or productions for these concessions.

Let me be clear.

I am entirely in favour of being entertained and I know there is some overlap.

My position is simply this: We can each pay for our own entertainment. But our nation will pay if we don't together pay for our art.

The writer is an associate professor of law at the National University of Singapore and an occasional playwright. Her plays include Mergers And Acquisitions and Wills And Secessions.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Of Mores and Estates

My estate is undergoing upgrading.

New paint. New floors. New (additional) rooms. New roads. New lifts. New facade.

But it the same people who live here. Old customs. Old habits. Litter, Rubbish, Waste. Beer cans, urine, discarded furniture, trash in lifts. Filthy habits.

While upgrading itself is not a bad thing, I wish we can upgrade the mores of our people for their new homes.

I'm reading C.S Lewis. He's talking about a different context but the same thing really:

"What is the good of drawing up, on paper, rules for social behaviour, if we know that, in fact, our greed, cowardice, ill temper, and self-conceit are going to prevent us from keeping them? I do not mean for a moment that we ought not to think, and think hard, about improvements in our social and economic system. What I do mean is that all that thinking will be mere moonshine unless we realise that nothing but the courage and unselfishness of individuals is ever going to make any system work properly. It is easy enough to remove the particular kinds of graft or bullying that go on under the present system; but as long as men are twisters or bullies they will find some new way of carrying on the old game under the new system. You cannot make men good by law: and without good men you cannot have a good society. That is why we must go on to think of the second thing: of morality inside the individual."

- Mere Christianity, The Three Parts of Morality

C.S. Lewis is one of those chaps you'll like for a lecturer: concise, intellectual and interesting.

He's old school for a new world.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Film Festival List

I guess the theme of the week is lists so I might as well include my list of films for SIFF.

Of Love and Eggs / Rindu Kami PadaMu
Underexposure / Gheir Saleh
The Five Obstructions / De Fem Benspaend
Route 181 - Fragments of a Journey in Palestine-Israel

I'm taking it easy this year. Apparently, I have been saying this for the last few. It's ironical as it's so much easier for me to watch, as the cinemas are just across the street from my office.

Again, I am taking a rather conservative approach - safe choices after being sorry many many times in the last decade or so.

Whoever programmed Route 181 and Henri Langlois: The Phantom of the Cinémathèque on the same day ought to be shot. Its 270 mins and 210 mins respectively. Its still possible to watch the films as the first is at 2 and the other at 7. But I rather hang on the the last remnants of my sanity, thank you very much.

(By the way, I'm not encouraging violence against film programmers, but if some of them choose to do a Anders Frisk, the world will be a better place.)

I'm hoping that our Gallic friends at Alliance Française will bring in Henri Langlois cos I will go with Route 181 for now. I do hope I can stay awake as I have managed to do so for last year's absolutely delightful 6-hours long La Meglio gioventu.

I'm looking forward to see Danny Boyle back with Millions. I saw a poster of 28 Days Later in my colleague's office in San Francisco and having met him only minutes earlier, I was liking him already. He takes nude photographs of men and if that's your thing, check him out here. His photos were just published in Blue, and I was told he's going places. By the way, Blue is a Men's magazine, but not exactly like GQ or FHM, if you get my drift.

Thursday, March 17, 2005


Was at SFJAZZ for Roy Haynes 80th Birthday Party. Read about him here. I didn't know you can play like that. He's played for Louis Armstrong, John Coltrane, Miles Davis, and Dizzy Gillespie. I was also very impressed by Christian McBride, "the most gifted bassist of his generation". So glad to be there. Would have loved to go and see Bob Dylan but that was sold out. Damm.

Helpful and funny. One loved jazz and passed me a bagful of CDs to rip. I miss them.

I moved to the Hotel des Arts in the city for a short holiday. Was living in a part of the building where it was U-shaped, the room opposite my window was only 10-15 feet away. While trying to get my blinds down one night, I saw the couple opposite having sex in all their naked glory. Frankly, would have stayed longer to watch but it was too close for comfort. Fascinating. Returned 10 minutes later to get the blinds down and saw only the guy lying down with his prick reaching for the sky.
I'm still recovering.

Wasn't there on a weekend so wasn't too exciting. But minutes after exiting the car, an elderly gentleman did nod at me. Was glad to be chaperoned by 2 lesbians, who were there to protect my virtue.
The Castro Theater was the loveliest cinema hall I ever laid eyes on. Very pretty. I know. That's such a gay thing to say.

Love the SFMOMA and Legion of Honor. One thing about museums though is you need time to enjoy and experience. Learnt that you can't use pens in the museum since you might deface the artwork. They gave me a pencil for my notes. Also, you have to carry your bag with your hand in front of you. Slinging it on your shoulder might cause accidents when someone knocks into you. Didn't have such restrictions in China or Singapore.

I love Diego Rivera's Cargador de flores (The Flower Carrier). I love its message and its color. Bought a postcard but its far from the same.

The steep stairways of San Francisco can be a killer. Some roads, I had to stop for a while before proceeding further. See pic here. It's frustrating if you're lost cos there's a lot of climbing to do. Downhill is fine, uphill is no laughing matter. I did have a most enjoyable walk from Fisherman's Wharf to the Coit Tower, and to Washington Square and then North Beach/Chinatown. Till I got lost in the Financial District.

American food is relatively bland and unexciting.
Spanish is another matter. My colleagues brought me to B44 at Belden Place where I had a most delicious arros negra, seafood and rice colored black by squid ink. Wash those lips when you're done.
If I were to visit again, I would eat lots more oysters (I had that at Zuni's) and milk shakes. Not together though cos that will be painful.
And watery.

Golden Gate Bridge
I walked across and back. Foggy but still a great view. I did the cruise too, went underneath. The narration on the cruise was very well done, the best I heard so far on all my travels.

Sunny and cold. Bloody lovely. Exceptional.

San Francisco

Places I visited:

University Avenue, Palo Alto (near Stanford University)
Fort Mason
Fisherman's Wharf
North Beach
City Lights Bookstore
St. Peter & Paul Church
Washington Square
Union Square
Golden Gate Bridge
San Francisco Bay Cruise
San Carlos
Redwood City
A Different Light Bookstore
The Castro Theatre
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
Coit Tower
Nob Hill Masonic Center
California Legion of Honor
Yerba Buena Gardens
Moscone Center

the sinful life

I am not proud of myself. But the damage has been done and I can only comfort myself with my impeccable taste.

Here's a list of items I bought from the capitalistic capital of the world:

2nd Hand DVDs

Napolean Dynamite
Mayor of the Sunset Strip
The Saddest Music in the World
The Life of David Gale
Taking Sides
Swimming Pool
Demonlover (Director's Cut)
Fast Times at Ridgemont High


Miles Davis - In a Silent Way
Miles Davis - A Tribute to Jack Johnson
Miles Davis - At Newport 1958
Miles Davis Quintet - Miles Smiles
Stan Getz - Captain Marvel
Various Artists - The Sound of Jazz
Al Dimeola/John McLaughlin/Paco de Lucia - Friday Night in San Francisco
Mike Bloomfield/Al Kooper/Steve Stills - Super Session


40 Years of the Amazing Spider-Man (11 CD-ROM Collection)


The Essential Neruda : Selected Poems
The Hero with a Thousand Faces
The Road to Ruin


Exclusive Simpsons Flashback Playset with Figures
Kingdom Come Series III Figure: Armored Wonder Woman

I had to break open Wonder Woman cos there wasn't enough room in the luggage.

She can tie me up anytime.

Monday, March 07, 2005

the simple american life - monday

I was in front of the train station, in front of Blockbuster, waiting for a cab to my hotel.

This is in the suburbs, by the way.

A lady, of Japanese descent, was dragging along her luggage. She asked me, without stopping,

"Hey honey, you have change for a $100?"

I managed a "No". Weakly.

"Ok. Fuck off."

Welcome to America.

Thursday, March 03, 2005


"I'm gonna have such a migraine tonight because I didn't beat you."
-Sipowicz, "Boxer Rebellion"

I just watched the very last epsiode of NYPD Blue.

After 12 years and 261 episodes, it finally ended with 16 million witnessing the finale.

Thats 7 million more viewers than the season average. Which really means that the show has been doing poorly in the ratings war.

I was reminded recently, having watching the cast of Seinfeld reunite on Oprah, that Seinfeld ended at the height of its popularity. The cast decided for themselves that they would end, and despite offers of more money, stuck to their guns.

It makes sense to me now why they ended, having witness the rather dismal end of NYPD Blue. Still, 16 million is a good figure.

I shall miss Sipowicz.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Hell is 57 varieties

"Perhaps the happiest people are those who do not have much choice..."

This article says something that is close to my heart.

Ever since I've embarked on the journey of a simple life, I've been trying to enforce more restrictions in life.

For example, I usually have yong tow foo or fish soup for lunch. I wanted a system where I have yong tow foo on mondays, wednesdays and fridays. And fish soup on tuesdays and thursdays. Saturdays and sundays, I enjoy more variety.

I've not been successful, except for the weekends of course. Blame it on Subway and Pasta Mania.

I tried not going to libraries, limiting myself to the books I have not read at home. With the opening of the Bukit Merah Library last weekend, my plan was blown to pieces but it landed me Michael Chabon's The Final Solution, Mikael Niemi's Popular Music, Caldwell/Thomason's The Rule of Four.

One area where I have enjoyed some success is in the area of films. I have been going to the cinema less liberally. As a result, I've been watching more television programs: Battlestar Galactica, CSI-NY, Everybody Loves Raymond, Numb3rs.

Spending wise has been good too. But my impending trip to San Francisco, this Saturday to be precise, will put this to the test.

I intend to fail this gloriously.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

The real toast

After putting it off for a while, I attended my first Toastmasters' session.

I enjoyed it.

We played an ice-breaker in the beginning where each of us has to talk about a person they would like to swap their lives with.

Answers from the house: my wife, Osama bin Laden, Martin Luther King Jr, my supervisors, etc.

I thought about the answer for a little while and I had it.

There is no chance in hell I would swap my life with someone else.

Of course, the language that eventually came out was slightly milder.

One of the goals in my life is to be who I truly am. That is not easy. I remembered going to Tony Robbins' seminar for the first time. I flipped open the manual and there it was :

This is not a weekend about changing yourself. It's a weekend about KNOWING yourself and then BEING yourself.

Till then, I have always thought that self-improvement was about being better. I was wrong. It's not about that. It's about being who you are created to be. It's about having the courage to be true to yourself.

I'm so happy that this ice-breaker and my response to it sets the tone for the rest of my Toastmasters' adventures. If I should continue, that is.

The evaluation tonight was very technical: grammar, tenses, vocabulary, etc. I was hoping more talk about PASSION, the number 1 quality in my book. I don't care how technically competent you're. You've got no passion, you've got nothing.

The other missing ingredient was personal style. Absolutely no mention of it at all. I want to have my own style. No point copying someone else. No point being someone else.

Be myself.