Archive for December, 2003

new keyboard

Wednesday, December 31st, 2003

Hey ho, I was going to write yesterday but my keyboard was on the fritz. Yesterday was a great day – woke up, went to work for my 8:30 meeting, found out it was delayed until 10, then delayed again to 10:30. OK. Did some work, contributed to the 10:30 meeting, then split at 11:30 to meet Naoko. Yay. Off to the Maxwell food court )just round the corner from Maxwell House) to eat lunch (ramen), then off to Plaza Singapura to catch a movie – the Return of the King! We got there at 12:45, turns out there were good tickets to the 12:30 show, so we went to that. Got in just as the movie started which we didn’t mind, since we missed all the dull comemrcial previews and that crap. The next show would have been at 3:00 anyway! Shivered and watched in amazed fascination as the incredible story came to its amazing conclusion – wow!!! Walked out in a happy daze, went off to Dubliners for a pint of Guiness. Then went off to Holland Village for more drinks and some food. Dropped by to see Ailing first, but she wasn’t around – her day off. Went to Wala Wala for some fries and pizza and lots of beer! Yummy. Stayed there until 7:15, then got too lonely for Zen and headed home. Gave our darling a bath, and he went to sleep late – 10:15 or so. The keyboard broke, the fan was strange. Hmmm, what happened. Today was a regular day, I took the bus in to work a little later than usual, extended our visas again, got to work and did some phoning and preparing of articles, talking, hanging around. Went to a cool Malaysian place for lunch, very cheap. In the afternoon more work and leaving at 4. Got home by 5, very fast. Naoko went off to her dinner with her friends, I took Zen to Courts to get a new keyboard. That was OK, got one for 18 bucks and it types fine. On the way back from Courts, I drove past the park and Zen and I got to see the monkeys – about 30 of them. They were hanging out all over the place, it was very funny and Zen loved looking at them, saying “monchee, monchee.” Got home and had dinner (dry noodles again), went for a walk, bathed Zen. He fell asleep at 9:40, good for me!

Movie review: Return Of The King – This is quite an amazing movie, not just because it was so ambitous (filming three at once) and visionary (filming in New Zealand and getting better value for money), but also that it was so good. There are barely any bad reviews for it out there. People who saw it did complain about the very long running time, but if you are a fan of the books (as I am) or not (as Naoko is) can still enjoy it 100%. I liked the first movie better than the second, which I found cheezy in parts and a little dull as a bridging film, but this one I think I like even better than the first. Why? Great story being tied up wonderfully, maybe that’s why. I liked all the actors, I liked all the battle scenes, and there was very little to complain about. I probably would have groaned that Christopher Lee’s scenes were all cut, but luckily I knew that going in. I guess if they had filmed the books as they were and included Tom Bombadil and the razing of the Shire and all that then the films would need another 3 hours or so. I had a laugh at some of the scenes with the oliphants – they seemed rather similar to some of the scenes from the Empire Strikes Back with the attack of the ATAT snow walkers. I guess the CG of this movie was better than the other two – looking less phony I suppose. I found some of the Gollum/Frodo/Sam scenes replicated from the second movie – Gollum talking to his reflection in the water, bickering with the hobbits, stuff like that. Weird, considering that the movies were already somewhat over long, why double up the scenes and make them longer? Still, a great movie. I want to see the extra scenes some day, maybe when the full trilogy version comes out and I win the lotter, or something…

Here is a pic of some of our monkey neighbours that dad took at MacRitchie Reservoir.

Peter, Naoko, and Zen

spazzing

Sunday, December 28th, 2003

Hey ho, another cool fun day. Today was mellow – mum and dad went to the mall for groceries, I went to the park with Zen to play on the jungle gym. Saw a guy do some cool qigong at the quarry pond, but no wildlife of any kind was around – no turtles, squirrels, birds, or monkeys. Strange. Hung around in the afternoon, then went swimming. Went out for beers with dad and Tony until late, that was fun.

Here’s a rare picture of the five of us.

all five of us

Across the Universe

Saturday, December 27th, 2003

Hey ho, another day. Today was a cool day – we went to the Jurong Bird Park to see… birds. And a few fish and turtles and a meercat. The bird park is very cool with some really impressive birds. First we went in and saw macaws and cockatiels at the entrance, then off to a birds of prey show – watching bald eagles swallow fish whole, hawks and owls grab pieces of meet and swoop around, cool. Then the penguin feeding show. Zen likes birds, so it was all good. Walked to see the cranes and the pelicans. The CitiBank swan paradise was all dug up, thanks Citi. Saw a parrot sanctuary, as well as a waterfall aviary we could walk around and mingle with ducks and other small birds. Saw the flightless birds – ostrich, emu, and the ferocious cassowary. Birds of prey, hornbills and toucans… and Zen was asleep. Saw funky crested pigeons – never thought pigeons would be terribly interesting, but these blue pigeons had huge feathery crests on their heads, looked quite poncey really. Saw the amazing scarlet ibises and then into the world of darkness to see nocturnal creatures like snow owls, ducks, more owls, more owls, more owls. No kiwi birds, although Mum was certain that there would be. Zen woke up by the time we got home. We had lunch, hung around the apartment all afternoon. Dubbed Nick Drake and Talk Talk to MD, nice. Edited pics, wrote emails, mum and dad researched Malaysia travel, they went swimming, swept and did laundry and watched 24 – it was cut off again! Last chance tomorrow to tape a good version. Talked late, played guitar, Mum and Dad got a lesson in how they work, we didn’t drink any wine because mum thought that drinking three days in a row is excessive. Zen went to sleep near 9, so it was a quiet evening. Mihoko and Sean and 2 others yelled to us from our window to go to karaoke with them, thanks for the advance notice, guys. Tomorrow we go grocery shopping.

I forgot to mention – the other day we met a neighbor of ours, a Singaporean, he was walking his dog. He also had a little box of ashes of his former dog, he always still him for a walk, or at least his cremated ashes. Un peu bizarre, non?

Here is a pic of mum and dad wearing my Christmas present for them. Mum’s says “I am Evan and Zen’s Oma,” and dad’s says “I’m Zen and Evan’s Opa.”

size - medium

wedding anniversaries and Christmases

Thursday, December 25th, 2003

Hey ho, another few days have gone by. Monday and Tuesday were spent shopping and such, Wednesday was spent shopping and Christmassing, and today was spent chilling out. Took a bunch of great pictures, but I will just put them up in stages. Monday was a day at work, I had my regular meeting and did some work on some articles, then met Naoko on Orchard Rd. We tried to do a bit of Christmas shopping, but didn’t get much. Picked up our medical reports from the clinic, those are for our visa. Last thing now is the banker’s guarantee – who knows how long that will take. Went into Takashimaya and found some cool stuff. Wandered around the expensive boutiques like Salvador Ferragamo, got a shawl for mum and some other stuff. Ran to catch a bus to go to Raffles Hotel where we were meeting Mum and Dad and Zen for their 41st wedding anniversary dinner, caught a bus at the last second, and inside the bus there they all were! What a happy moment. They had to wait 20 minutes for their bus, we got ours without waiting at all. Wandered around Raffles Point looking at OSIM chairs and childrens clothes and other thingies. Mum didn’t want to buy one kids shirt because she thought that the flag on the front looked commmunist, but then we explained to her that it was the Singaporen flag! Off to dinner: had plenty of yummy northern Chinese food with great service, then off to Raffles Hotel to wander around. Nice. Looked at the Christmas Lights in front of Raffles Point. Zen fell asleep in the bus, it was only 9:00. When we got home he was still asleep and slept through until the morning, nice. Had a bottle of wine to cap the evening off. Tuesday was a “last day at work before the holidays.” Discovered Singapore’s rail station with its big “welcome to Malaysia” flags on it. Not a nice place to hang out, though. I finished an article, then got a call from the editor saying that it was all old news. Horrors! I wrote a new one in an hour, hope it did the trick because I was out of there and heard no more from her after that. Met Naoko at HMV, she had just gotten paid for some freelance work. Nice. Went for coffee at Spinelli’s, our coffee was more than 2 lunches in a hawker centre. Amazing. Got the rest of our Christmas shopping done, found bags and books and maps and everything. Everything… almost. Wednesday morning we wrapped presents while mum and dad grocery shopped, got t-shirts from Tony, almost forgot to pay him (sorry Tony), had lunch, picked up Zen from school but he stayed awake until THREE! Went to Holland Village to say hi to Ailing and give her some stuff, then to buy some ornaments for the tree and go back home. A lovely dinner waiting for us, we just ate and ate and drank beer. Yummy. Listened to cool Christmas music that mum and dad brought from Canada – unfortunately the chimes and organs music tape was busted. Darn. Mum and Dad took Zen out for a walk, Naoko and I did the dishes and… dished out the presents. Zen came back in and discovered that Santa had been there and left goodies. He ripped off the paper from one of Naoko’s presents from Mum and Dad first, a candle holder. Then came the big truck and he had a lot of fun playing it no presents were opened for a while. Mum and Dad liked the t-shirts I made for them, then there were more toys for Zen including the bizarre car that drives and plays music and flashes lights and opens and closes its doors, when it bumps into something it redirects itself. What a clever invention. Even the strange song loop is quite captivating. Of course, there is no volume but LOUD, so the charm may wear off soon. I got a nice bag and an umbrella and a dress shirt and some other stuff. Yay, nice stuff. Ralph gave me a Pacifier CD. At first I was not sure which band it is, but now I see that it is the former “Shihad,” so that will be interesting to hear. We stayed up late drinking wine, Zen finally went to bed around 11:30. What an excited kid. I woke up at 1:30, because I fell asleep next to Zen. Finished off a few dregs of wine, then off to bed for me too. Up at 7:30. Crazy. Christmas cards from Ken and Rosemary in the mail. Crazy – i don’t get emails from him for years and years, but then suddenly there is a card in the mail. Funny. Today we went swimming, first time in a while. And why not – the weather was so perfect for it.

We four kings

We three kings

the heart of the action

drum, they told me - dumb ditty dumb ditty dumb dumb dumbbbbbb

pics

Sunday, December 21st, 2003

Hey ho,not a day after my last posting, and I have two nice pics of mum an dad to put up. Every time we get together, there are more pics of Zen than anybody, and I don’t think I even have a good recent pic of mum and dad, so here are two at once, and one with Zen undergoing a “halo effect.” Mum and dad are with Zen now at at the park looking at monkeys, Naoko is napping, it is quiet in the house. I am supposed to be doing work, but I guess this is work. Yesterday it rained so much, we just hung around. The power went out in the evening just as I was reading Zen to sleep (Harry MacLary, I think, or maybe Hand Hand Fingers Thumb) when the power went out. We spent the next few hours with candle light, which was nice. We had started watching Clint and Shirley in “Two Mules For Sister Sara”, but will have to leave that for another night. Later in the evening we sat around singing songs to the guitar and drinking amaretto by candle light, a pleasure in warm Singapore. Power outs are no fun in the middle of intense heat and cold I bet. Today we hung around a bit, Naoko and Zen and I went to the wet market to get some more fish for the fish tank, also some other stuff. We got 11 gold fish for a buck!! Amazing. Mitchan and Manae came over in the mid-afternoon, which was nice. Manae was mellow as always and didn’t want to wear the sailor moon crown we gave her, so that went with Mitchan to give her husband – to help him make a career decision, as January is crisis time.

Movie review: Two Mules For Sister Sara – A young Clint Eastwood and Shirley MacLaine harken back to the years when these two really were young. Rebellions and vigilantes in Mexico, this is a tame remake of the Wild Bunch (of the year before) where the guy gets the girl and not everybody dies at the end.

the flash didn't, but it's still a nice shot

who has a halo over his head?

working working working

Saturday, December 20th, 2003

Hey Ho, another few days have passed. Now the 20th. What a crazy four days. Monday was a dud, but on Tuesday I got a lot of work done – high level banking people were calling me with information, others were agreeing to interviews, nutty stuff like that. Exciting. Wednesday I knuckled down and got cracking on a tough article, finished that and turned it in. Turns out it needs to be reworked in to four different pieces (?!?), but it is still OK. At 4 I went off and did an interview with a big shot at a huge local bank, which went off so-so – maybe because he was new, maybe because I was new, everything he told me was very vague. Have to try to figure out if anything he told me is worth writing up. Nice guy, though, very cool. Looked like Superman. I couldn’t believe what happened on Thursday – the day was going along normally, then around 2 PM the boss has a short informal meeting with all of us and says he wants to be able to phase things out of his hands and more into our hands, including things like appearing on TV when news stations request opinion from us. He says that we should be able to produce someone who can talk knowledgable on any topic. He looks at me and asks me if I would be willing to do something like this, and I said OK. He said really? I said I could give it my best shot, and he says OK, you’re on TV. I didn’t know what I had gotten myself into, but I prepped and had help from others and then at 5:40 I spoke on TV for 3 minutes about Chinese banks. It was quite an amazing experience. 15 minutes before air time we walked over talking and prepping as we went, then I went into a waiting room where I waited for a few minutes, then on the air. I had told my parents and Naoko and Zen and they were at home watching me. Three minutesw later and it was all over. I went home in a daze and hung out a bit, and later got a chance to see myself on TV. Not bad, not good. I knew what I was talking about, but because I was nervous I took a while to get to the point after saying all the obvious background things. Also slouching a bit, not projecting my voice, mumbling a bit. Strange. Still, the boss was pleased that I had made the effort, and considered it a good first try, so that was fine. Friday was a more mellow day – got my visa extended again, then wandered the streets of Tanjong Pagar a bit before going to work where I just sat around doing a few things, this and that. Met Naoko at 4:30 and we went for a beer, a walk around TP, and some shopping. Nice evening, hanging about. Today we went grocery shopping!! Been listening to a lot of Bruce Springsteen recently – what is happening to me? Today I downloaded Bread, and Michael Jackson. Dad asked me today if MJ is hard rock, I think he needs to hear these songs he has probably heard a hundred times. I’m sure he has heard them before. How could he not…?

Book Review: Fathers and Sons - The great book by Ivan Turganev, finally read by me. The story of two sets of fathers and their sons, told as we follow the two young men as they travel, fresh university graduates, visitings the estates of first one, then the other. There is also a visit to a house that seems to be peopled exclusively by women – ripe for romance. The love is intellectual love, and the characters are all nothing if not totally pretentious, especially the young nihilists. All the dialogue is intersting in a Brothers Karamazov kind of way, and the drama is not too involving. The book is short and leaves its mark. Excellent.

O Christmas Tree

Tuesday, December 16th, 2003

Hey HO, a week without blogging. What has happened to me recently? My parents are here, and I am working a job and writing freelance at the same time, that’s what. Not much new… Dad had a bad cold for a few days, he slept near constantly. He is OK now, but mom is sick – sore throat and lethargic. When they get over their ailments they will be strong and raring to go again, although it is pretty hot for them and they complain a bit about the heat – now is actually pretty cool, especially when the sun is not shining bright. Both swim several times a day (dad always brags about how many minutes and hours he has swum non-stop) and eat plenty of papaya and other fruit. Saturday we went shopping and got tons of fruit and other groceries, I also picked up 10 baguettes from the local DeliFrance. Sunday we went to Bukit Batok park for a morning walk. Hoped to go to the botanical gardens for a picnic and an evening concert at the bandshell at Palm Valley, but it rained too much. Stayed home and worked on writing projects instead. Today I got a 7-foot tall fake Christmas tree for 30 bucks. It was a good deal, considering how the $30 4-foot-tall trees were sold out and 6-foot trees are selling for 90 bucks!!!!!! Checked out some more guitar tabs, was then overcome by an uncontrollable urge to listen to Bruce Springsteen!

A Book Review – Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. Finally read the classic by Robert M. Pirsig. It is very little about Zen, and even motorcycle maintenance doesn’t play such a large role. Interesting to read a book that is not about what it says it is about. It is about a man who goes on a cycle trip with his 11-year-old son. It quickly becomes a book about philosophy and the creation of a logical system that systematically tears apart thousands of years of philosophical thought. Yes, it becomes very heavy, and at times I was just “looking at words” instead of actually reading them. Maybe it is a bit like “Sophie’s World,” although it is not exactly as interesting – see, “Sophie’s World” has been made into a movie and “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” is still waiting for a good script and a director to commit. I found that the book works best when it talks it IS talking about motorcycle maintenance, actually…

Thums Up, babies!!

Zen and Zen

Tuesday, December 9th, 2003

Hey Ho, what a day. Got up very early to get us all ready so I could leave early to get to the 8:30 Monday meeting. Zen was wanky as we were leaving, then the teacher delayed me with some requests, then I missed my bus by a shave! Waited 20 minutes for the next one!! Got to Clementi MRT and the train door nearly closed on my face getting in, no warning sound either. Got to work 15 minutes late, only to find the meeting had been delayed 30 minutes. I didn’t know whether to be happy or pissed off. When it started it went on for 2 hours, but it was not so bad, interesting stuff. Had a meeting with ED, then off to the passport office to do visas. Waited there for 45 minutes, then found out that the visa has been approved and all I need to do is wait a few days for the letter – hooray! Tired, very tired, probably from the running, or maybe from drinking gin and tonics late into the evening and going to sleep at 12:30, either one. Got lots of work done in the afternoon, and ED gave me a new article. I called through to India and even got 2 of the people I have been trying to call on the phone. Work is getting easier to understand and manage, very fun.

Got home at 6:15, had noodles and chili ketchup, which is a low calorie dish my mum has invented. Interesting… Went for a walk in the evening, Zen was using his legs a lot. We had fun looking at the Christmas lights, also met big Bob and Zack his dog.

Photo of the day: Zen and Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

Zen and Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

a week

Monday, December 8th, 2003

Quite some time has passed since I last wrote at the blog – like a week! Tuesday I was supposed to go pick up Mum and Dad, but they were delayed 24 hours, so I went to work instead. Wednesday I took the day off and went to see them in the morning at the airport, brought them home by Maxicab since that is what their skis would fit into (most of their baggage was delayed, actually and had to be shipped later), picked up Zen from the kindergarten at noon and hung around with him until he fell asleep. Naoko came home and I went out in the evening to a CitiGroup event to hang out with banking bigwigs and fellow journalists. Interesting. Got home late, slightly drunk since I drank some, but barely ate. Nice place in East Chinatown.

Thursday I walked around East Chinatown again in the morning, finding some cool shops, an old mosque, and a Chinese temple, before going to work. Got down on some articles, called all over Hong Kong, China, and India. Wow. Mum and Dad have already bought a serious supply of papapya and other fruit. In the evening we went to the hawker centre near here and ate really crappy Chinese food. It was bad…

Friday… uh, what did we do? Worked, ate, slept.

Saturday, we went shopping in the morning and got a ton of groceries, then chilling out in the afternoon and swimming. I interviewed Dominic about Valentine’s Day, then we had an early pasta dinner and went off to the Clementi MRT area where there is a sort of market and carnival. We bought an ironing board and some papayas, woo hoo. Tried to get to sleep early so that I could be rested for the marathon tomorrow. Packed a bag with stuff, then ordered a cab, slept around 11 or so.

Sunday – got up at 4 AM, ate, took my cab at 4:45 and arrived at national stadium around 5:10. Amazing vibe there – thousands of runners getting ready for their day, people milling about, loud music with loud beats and MCs keeping the spirit happy. 10 minutes to go, we all get in the starting lines like cattle. It is a weird tunnel feeling. The starting gun goes and the “elite runners” from Africa line up, we all shuffle closer to the line and run across and get started. It is 6 AM, with most of Singapore still sleeping. Nice. Run along feeling like a hundred million bucks – what a feeling to be racing out and among other runners! Pass by a wedding couple taking photos on the sidewalk with we runners in the background, we give them a hearty cheer. Get along east coast park and run along along along. Doing quite well. The route follows the park going east, then doubles back and runs west parallel to the eastern path. So at 11 km we can see the fastest runners who have already turned around and are heading on, probably 3 or 4 kilometers ahead of us. I get to 15 km and start losing energy. Happens quite suddenly. Probably I kept too fast a pace, out of excitement, maybe because there were better runners around me that psychologically made me want to run faster to keep pace with them, who knows. Did some walking and some running. Sweating a lot, feeling weak all over. Took a drink at 16 km, then got slight cramps. Walked and ran all the way in, with the last two km. running constantly. By the time I was down to the last 250 metres I felt like a million bucks again. What a great run. My clothes were soaked straight through, salt and scum was building up on my socks. My legs were stiff and rubbery at the same time, but it sure was fun. Time – 2 hours, 10 minutes. I figure that the marathon runners were coming in at about the same time, 21 km. away. Like, they had run twice as far as me in the same time (or so). I don’t know how I will ever run a full marathon – get a good pace, don’t drink for the whole race for fear of getting cramps, arrive at the 41 km. mark completely dehydrated – instant Pete, just add water. Gulped down water and sports drinks, had an energy pack, and found Tsutsui-san. She had come in about 10 minutes after me. She’s small, but strong. We got our medals, got our bags, and got on the bus to go to the Padang where Naoko and Zen and Mum and Dad were waiting for us. Cool. That was fun. Watched the marathon runners coming in there, some of whom I rememberered from the starting position, and mellowed out. Mr. Tsutsui-san came and we went for Australian beers. Later we went down to Boat Quat, the Fullerton Hotel, and the Merlion for some sightseeing. Zen fell asleep in the stroller, so we headed home, but he woke up when we got home. Nice. Chilled out in the afternoon, did some napping, some work on a proofreading project, some writing of a Valentine’s Day article, and some eating – chicken schnitzel for dinner tonight. Thanks mom, goo done. Zen was so well-behaved. He was fine when we were out, playing happily by himself while we adults had beers, then later at home amusing himself with his train set and also playing with the ball with mum and dad. He got to sleep at 9 – not much napping for him today, he must have been tired. The last thing he said before he went to sleep – he looked me in the eye and said “baba” in a soft, loving voice. What a beautiful memory to carry with me my whole life.

Things Zen Does: Zen has done a lof of growing up just this week and he loves hanging out with us adults. He is talking more and remembering more. He still has trouble with h’s, so “hana” is “ana”, “hana hana marron” is “ana ana marron.” He calls Doraemon “do do,” and Tendon-man “don don.” Cute.

Hey - thumbs up!

Tsutsui-san is a hero too!

busy day

Tuesday, December 2nd, 2003

Hey Ho, busy day, four more to go. Went to TAB all day today, got nothing concrete done except to attend two long meetings and to finsh an article with the editor’s revisions, but again I learned a lot lot lot, and am feeling good about the two articles assigned to me this week. Nice. Had congee for lunch, good food. Such cool people work there, it is all quite nice. Saw Sean on the bus coming home, talked to him all the way into Signature Park, then home for dinner and watching videos and playing guitar. Zen went to sleep after 10 again, silly kid. Very changable – it’s the terrible twos. One minute he’s moaning and groaning, another minute he’s our little darling. His latest trick – demanding to change the video every ten minutes. Often he pulls a video out, contemplates the others, then chooses the same one and puts it back in. Nuts. And me? Here I am drinking vodka and thinking about my day tomorrow. Got a call at ten, it was mum and dad – they are still stuck in Toronto! Their schedule will be delayed a day… if the snowstorm that is coming doesn’t delay their departure further! Nuts. Mum and dad, if you can see this blog from a remote internet site or something in the airport or hotel, here’s a pic of Zen, he’s waiting for you.

all the pretty cars, lined up in a row