Archive for June, 2005

two days

Wednesday, June 29th, 2005

Well, two days after my last posting, I’m ready to post again, small miracles. Today was a productive day – I did the final changes on my big report and worked on layout stuff, and it should be really done tomorrow. Hooray! I got home at 8:30, played with Zen a bit, ate, showered him, read him to sleep, then did some song stuff, then some reading, then the blog. Wow, I’m productive today! Yesterday was less productive, some meetings and some writing and not too too much better elser. Left at 6:15 or so, got home just after 7, gave Roswitha the DVD of her visit to Singapore and we watched it together – it’s 20 minutes long. Ate dinner, Roswitha left, I washed and read to Zen and set him to sleep, then I wrote into the night to finish up on my report. Work work work. Now it looks like it’s going to get back to normal soon, which will be nice. Maybe I can even get back to watching movies in the evenings again! I watched half of “The Motorcycle Diaries a few weeks ago and haven’t finished it yet. Hmmm…

Zen at Bukit Timah Station

Bukit Timah Station


Some pictures from Batam, Indonesia

strange svastika Buddha

judges hall

three Buddha hall

three cool statues

Roswitha on the road


Monday, June 27th, 2005

Hey, another week. What was this one all about? Last week, I thought it twould be pretty mellow, unfortunately it was still terribly stressful. Monday was a regular day, Tuesday I researched Hong Kong and had great success and accomplishment. Wednesday I went to an event, then got saddles with a lot of work work work. At least the lunch wasn’t too bad. Went back to the office, worked very late checkin stuff. Thursday was a pretty fun day – my German colleague and I met Roswitha for lunch, it was terribly terribly hot, but we talked and got to know each other. It was funny hearing Chris speak German – his accent is Schwabisch! I gave Roswitha a tour around Chinatown a bit and then left her to go up the road to a bank that was opening its biggest branch in Asia. It sure was cool seeing all sorts of old friends and hanging out. They had OK food, nice drinks, I was parched after walking around Chinatown and getting dehydrated… I also stayed late doing stuff, checking stuff, writing stuff. That sure was a tough day. Friday I was kind of brain dead, so I just did mostly clerical followup stuff, although I did write a pretty groovy story. Got home at a regular time, and we all went out for food at the local hawker centre. Saturday we mostly just hung out, which was just as well since it rained a lot. I went swimming with Roswitha at noon, Naoko rested, feeling not so great in the tummy. In the afternoon, I was suffering as well, so we just had a simple dinner. I wenet with Zen to see the 6:15 Malaysia train again, which was nice. Hung out in the evening watching Roswitha’s DVD. Sunday, our big excursion. Woke up late-ish, headed down to Harbourfront ferry terminal, jumped on a ferry, got to Batam Island, and through all of the formalities. Groooan… Ate a so-so lunch at the ferry terminal, then chartered a cab for three hours to drive around the island. Got to some nice spots, but first we had to visit three or four temples. One of them was old and squat, but had a lot of charcter, another Bali shrine was still under construction, but near a nice lake. A third was brand shiny new and had lots of big gilded Buddhas. Flashback to Taiwan. Then out of the town finally to go to a nice beach-side Guanyin, then to “Harbourfront,” which was actually a holiday park for families. I would have liked to have stayed there and let Zen play with the kids, but Naoko and Roswitha wanted to do some shopping, so into the city we went. Got to the mega-mall near the ferry terminal, wandered around. I waited patiently while Roswitha and Naoko bought t-shirts and underwear, amusing Zen who was getting cranky… Sighhh… Getting late (7:20) and I was thinking that it would be nice to get on a ferry. Bought some munchies, ran for the 8:00 ferry, but it was full, so we were stuck with our groceries and nowhere to eat them, and over an hour to the ferry. Sigh… Ate in the ferry terminal lobby waiting for the boat. Soon after departure, Zen was asleep, after some tossing and turning on my chest, and then I got a bit of rest as well. Waited in long immigration queues, taxi queues, and dthen got home after 11. Sheesh… what a day!

On the beach in Batam

on the beach in Batam

close family comes a-calling

Sunday, June 19th, 2005

Another six days have passed. I wonder if I can remember everything that happened… Tuesday was a regular busy day, Ralph came into the country, so I tried to rush home in order to see him. Took a cab around 7 or so and got home, had a lovely dinner, caught up a bit, and hung out drinking gin and tonics and playing guitar and chatting. It sure was fun! Zen and Ralph get along great – five minutes after Ralph walked in the door, around 6 PM, they went off for a swim in the pool together. Wednesday I left early-ish, took a cab home, picked up Ralph and Naoko and Zen and Ralph’s friend who works in Singapore Amy. Had fun eating Indian banana leaf food, chatting, laughing, drinking beer, went back home, put Zen to sleep, then Ralph and Amy and I stayed up late talking, drinking beer and gin ‘n’ tonics, listening to Weezer, and talking. Thursday I had to work late, so I called in a few times to chat with Ralph. I tried calling him at 6 to say goodbye, but he just had left to go to the airport. Geez, he could have called one last time before heading off. Oh well. Stayed until midnight and got my rewrite done, yay. Friday, a pretty-busy-day, had to work until nearly 9:00. Roswitha flew in at 4 PM, Naoko went to the airport to pick her up, then went home to hang out and wait for me, ha ha. Nice to see her again, we hung out looking at pictures of her kids, but most of her pictures show the back of people’s heads, or are taken from quite a distance away and it’s difficult to see their faces. She seems to only take pictures where you can get the whole person into the picture from head to toe, doesn’t like close ups of any kind. Oh well… But, anyway, seems like most of my work is done for now, and I can get started on something new next week, yay. Feels like four months of steady deadlines coming to a close somehow. I stayed up until 2 drinking gin and playing guitar. Nice to have some private down time… Saturday we took Roswitha into town, which basically meant getting up at 8, jumping on the bus with Naoko at 9, getting to Orchard by 9:45 or so, and walking down down down. Funny – near the HMV they have erected these Fantastic Four statues – Ben Grimm, Reed Richards, Susan Richards, Johnny Storm – to promote the upcoming movie. Never mind, it still looks retarded. Went up Emerald Hill, which is always nice (quiet), and then took the MRT to Raffles Place to see the Merlion, bank buildings, Singapore River and Boat Quay, the Dali and Botero statues at the UOB Tower there, and the Fullerton 6-Star hotel. Nice. Of course it was a chore just to get from Raffles Place MRT station to the merlion, because there is no straight path, but we saw it, took pictures, baked in the hot noonday sun. Yummy. There was an old Indian guy there with a 2 metre-long albino snake that we took pics with, that was nice. Got on the MRT, headed back to Clementi, and had lunch. Am discovering which local food Roswitha can and cannot take. She seems to be OK with bitter gourd, but doesn’t like tofu much. Sat in the spot where Zen could see trains, he was a happy little clam. Went home by taxi, and I napped all afternoon as Zen and Roswitha also slept. Woke up at 4:30 or so, Naoko came home, tried to get Zen over to the pool, but he wanted to play with Zavier and Sunwoo and their funny little friend Stephan. OK. I took Zen off to see the 6:15 Malasia train, which was right on time, and then off to eat dinner across from Beauty World for dinner. That was nice – kampong chicken from Five Stars again (so packed!), then off to Beauty World to roam around looking at things. Roswitha lingered for a while in a store that sold all sorts of clothes, including some pretty sexy/weird ladies undergarments, we looked at plates, we searched for souvenir jewellery boxes, and then checked out what is being sold in a Singaporean supermarket. Yay. Got home, watched some of Roswitha’s family DVD, and Zen went to sleep. Nice night. Sunday we were planning on taking Roswitha to Little India in the morning, but she slept until 10 and then it wasn’t really worth it any more. Went for a long swim instead, which was tons of fun and I could see from the big huge blissful smile on Roswitha’s lips that it was great fun for her as well. Drank orange juice, read the newspaper, and chilled out. Zen had fun playing with the Anpanman hopper ball – you can use your foot to sink it, then release it and it shoots to the surface and flies through the air, water spraying everywhere, cool. Some funky daddy brought a bubble gun to the pool and there were bubbles floating through the air everywhere, fun. Had a lunch, then chilled out. Now everybody is sleeping, it’s really windy outside. I got some work done on my cool song music stuff, then at 5:30 we took off for Little India. Got there, and of course it was packed, mostly I suppose with migrant workers from Bangladesh, India, and Sri Lanka. Nice, lively, energetic, but not much room to pass along. Ate dinner (so-so) and visited the temple, then went along to Mustafa’s. Tiring. Went to MacDonald’s for ice cream dessert and then home by taxi. Now Roswitha and Naoko and Zen are watching family DVDs…

The Zen Report: Zen is now a recording star! I’ve recorded his voice reading “Green Eggs and Ham,” I call it the “Green Eggs and Zen mix.” That and a few other things are to be released soon on Hoflich Records. Pre-order your copy now, only $1000 for this special-edition three-CD set. Zen’s pronounciation has turned funny, and he pronounces his “o”s in a strange way. For example, instead of saying “no,” he’ll say “nyoh,” or something. Lots of other examples. Oh well, at least he doesn’t talk like Darth Vader!! He says funny things like “Zen has a big hand, Papa has a small hand,” inverting things. I need to take better record of the funny things that he does, so much is going unrecorded… Zen is getting good at bargaining:

Peter: “You can watch TV for 5 more minutes, then you have to take a shower.”
Zen: “Twenty minutes!!”
Peter: “Six minutes.”
Zen: “Ten minutes!”
Peter: “Okay, seven minutes, and that’s final!”
Zen: “Mmmm… okay then.”

Uncle Ralph, Zen, Peter

Peter, Zen, Uncle Ralph

Zen shows Ralph what trains are all about

Ralph, Zen, trains

Heeeeeeere comes Roswitha!

Peter Zen Roswitha

eating Indian food in Little India

eating Indian food in Little India

dessert – ice cream!!

dessert - ice cream!!

even Zen likes MacDonald’s ice cream

even Zen likes MacDonald's ice cream

late and tired

Tuesday, June 14th, 2005

what a week. How did it start? No – let me pick up from… Thursday. I… went to the office and got work done. Too bad I don’t remember anything special about Thursday. Friday I went to work, stayed until 8:45 or so, had the dickens of a time getting home – I thought it would be a nice treat to take a cab home, but I ended up standing for ages on the street corner, then giving up and going to the Amara hotel to catch a cab from there. Yeesh. Got home, ate dinner, set Zen to sleep, watched a bit of Flypaper, a video I got from Matt, but I was too tired to see more than a bit of it. Seems interesting, though. Saturday was a weird day – went downtown with Zen and Naoko intending to do some strolling on Orchard Road, but when we all got off the bus I realized that my glasses case had fallen out of my pocket. Cripes!! I said goodbye to Naoko, then jumped in a cab and chased the bus down Orchard Road. Just managed to catch up to the bus at the final station and… the glasses weren’t in the bus. Did they fall out of my pocket at the bus stop on Toh Tuck Road? Zen and I took the train right away to Clementi, then the 173 bus almost right away, got to the bus stop and… it wasn’t there. Only two possibilities – at the apartment, or gone for good. And sure enough… it wasn’t in the apartment, hence – gone for good! Jumped on the bike, off to the mall, a glasses shop there makes them within an hour. Cool! Some Carrera frames, sporty, stylish! Got home, ate lunch, hung out, did chores, Zen slept, then on the computer making music. It was a good weekend for accomplishing personal projects, no work from work, just personal stuff. Cool. The nice thing was that I could finish all of my songs except for the two cover versions that I am trying to get done (Sabbath Bloody Sabbath, by Black Sabbath, and Stigmata, by Ministry) with keyboards and vocals. Needs a bit of finishing up, and then my double album is finished. Trying to think up a title for the project. Have an good idea, but it sounds more like a punk band than a software project like this one is. Oh well. Saturday afternoon, Zen woke up, I took him to the mall to pick up my glasses, got to Bukit Timah Train Station, just saw the train coming by, back around to go home. Naoko came back, we went off to the eating center across from Beauty World. We chose the Korean spot, which was very nice. Ate chige and bulbolgi barbecue, very nice indeed. Got home, Zen slept, and Naoko and I watched a bit of the Motorcycle Diaries. Even Zen watched a bit (he likes motorcycles), but that was it. Later we watched some more, but Naoko was too sleepy, so I played some guitar or something and then slept too. Sunday we woke up late-ish, then off to the same eating area for breakfast of kaya toast and kopi. Then off to Holland Village for some Cold Storage shopping, then cab home to do some sweeping and dusting and cleaning while Zen watched the Incredibles. Cool. Zen slept, I did more computer stuff, Naoko napped, Zen woke up just in time for us to go off see the train, but this time it was late, and it STOPPED at Bukit Timah station. I wanted to leave, because the fumes were strong, but Zen wanted to stay. After a while, the train reversed and headed BACK to Singapore. I guess they forgot something. Weird. Got home with 4 bagettes to greet our 4 dinner guests. Had some good food, like brie and salami and smoked salmon and croquettes and olives and feta and white wine and a bunch of other yummy stuff like steamed Chinese rice packs, deep fried shrimps, all sorts. Yummy. They left at 9, we chilled out, and that was the night. I watched the end of Flypaper, not a bad little movie, before going to sleep. Monday was a regular hectic day. This time I had my bagette sandwiches, so I didn’t need to leave the place from 8:30 AM to 7:30 PM. I love my job so much. Wrote two perspectives and two e-newsletters, was a busy busy boy!

video review – Flypaper: Notable as a HBO film, with appearances by Lucy Liu and Robert Loggia and a bunch of other people. Garish gangster “noir” about a bunch of low life scum who drift around LA trying to get things going. Kind of like Pulp Fiction, or Hurly Burly, or Hugo Pool, or one of these films starring Sean Penn. Funny knife-in-head scene, and this one other guy has such BAD LUCK, you just have to laugh. Weird scene with snakes too.

Episode III

Thursday, June 9th, 2005

Wow, BUSY!!! What did I do recently… Sunday, pretty much, we just flaked out. Went out to eat… something. I tried to do some work, but ultimately nothing was accomplished. Pooh. Monday was a regular Monday, I was busy busy busy!!! Meetings, writing, working, eating. Tuesday, more of the same. The big deal there was that I worked from 1 PM to midnight without a break or going for food, completing a massive writing assignment. It might be a little choppy, but at least it’s DONE!!! Wednesday I worked from home for most of the day, ducked out in the afternoon for a short errand, then showed up at work to get a few more things done. Realized that I’d get more work done at home, I took some discs home and did more work!!

Movie review – Episode III – Revenge of the Sith: Finally saw Episode III, and of course there’s lots to complain about, nothing more so than the terrible acting and the awful dialogue. The original film didn’t have fantastic acting (Harrison Ford was awful, but at least he was cool), but at least it had great lines. What happened? In this one, the good things to focus on are Ian McDiarmond as the Emperor, who was mighty creepy. Of course it might be better to see the films in order to get an idea of what this whole war was about. The thing about the original movies is that you understood that there were good guys fighting bad guys and the bad guys were pretty invincible. In this one you never had the sense that the bad guys were… what? Who were they? Of course Lucas’ shameless ripping off of the Godfather and Frankenstein was a bit corny, and obviusly his idea of directorial style is to juxtapose two developments on top of each other (two sword fights, two operating rooms). Maybe what I didn’t like in this one was the fact that there were droids everywhere. What’s the point of mowing down rows and rows of stupid robots, then? Happily, C3PO wasn’t in the movie much. But neither was the cloaked-in-black Darth Vader. The transition was all a bit too jarring, wasn’t it? Oh well. Time to hope for another movie as cool as the Matrix to come along. Who’s going to make it then?

Fun Sounds of Summer

Sunday, June 5th, 2005

Hey, another time writing about this and that. Hmmmrrrrmmm… Tuesday, Wednesday were pretty totally ordinary days, got busy writing and going through meetings and fun stuff. Tuesday night went out for drinks (gin and tonix!) with my boss and my cool new colleague who looks just like my brother (but with a bigger nose – i.e. his nose is more like mine than Ralph’s). His first name and is the same as my brother’s middle name – weird coincedence. Had some good laughs and got home at 10:30. Zen was still up waiting for me when I got there! I read him to sleep, had some dinner, then hit the hay myself. Wednesday night I rushed away at 6:30, and met Mrs. Tjan, the mother of one of my high school friends, for dinner and chatting. I haven’t seen her since 1991, just before I went to Taiwan, which is where my Asia oddyssey really began. Actually, it was my friend who introduced me to two friends of hers who were heading to Taiwan to work, which is the main reason I went to Tainan in Taiwan, instead of some other part of the island like Taipei or Kaohsiung, or somewhere or other. The rest, as they say, is history. Thursday and Friday I worked from home. Altough I wasn’t as productive as I would have liked, I did get more done than I would have if I had gone to work. Thursday evening I went with Zen to the Apple Store to try to figure out how I can get some use out of my microphone. Problem solved – the line in is not the same as a mic in, hence the reason why my mics always end up sounding terrible. Friday I again picked Zen up from his school, and we went off to Bukit Timah train station to watch the 6 o’clock train from Singapore to Malaysia pass by. It was 15 minutes late, so we waited around, took pics, took video, chatted with the platform dude. It was nice, it was fun. After such a long wait, over 20 minutes, the train sped by, I think Zen was a bit disappointed, he immediately wanted to stick around to catch another one. But there are only six in a single day, so now way, dude. Went home, chilled out, went to sleep at 2 after some more writing and some. Cool. Saturday I took Zen to Seedlings school for a teacher chat. All is fine in school, Zen knows about 80 Chinese characters and can “read” stuff in Chinese, which is in a way easier since it is about recognizing symbols instead of reading a word letter by letter to “sound it out.” He seems to know his numbers, and is self-initiating and well-behaved. I think he’s the oldest in his class at the moment. Funny – the teachers wonder why I don’t get him started in French or German. Like he should be learning four languages instead of ony three!! Took him for a swim at noon, then we went to the food centre for rotii prata, but they were out, so we had chicken noodles instead. Yummy. Dropped off the suit for dry cleaning, bought beverages, then headed home to watch the Incredibles. Nice. Zen slept at 3:00, woke up at 5:00, we went off to Dominic’s to hang out, off to barbecue pits, fun stuff like that. Naoko came back with my new microphone, I plugged it in and tried it out and it works! Cool… Had pizza for dinner, Zen watched the Incredibles again, and I tinkered around a lot on the computer. By next weekend I should have my double CD together, and also a new DVD to bring me up to current – finally!!

book review – “Out”, by Kirino Natsuo: In some ways a rather conventional murder mystery, written in the typical descriptive way that many Japanese authors write (“she chopped the onions, then realized that she had forgotten to pick up a new pack of miso at the supermarket, so she decided to make an omelette instead. Opening the refrigerator to get some eggs, she suddenly remembered that she had murdered her husband one year ago to the day.”), but the strength of the book is on the author’s excellent understanding of character. A murder happens, haphazardly, and a group of women get together to tdispose of the evidence. One thing leads to another, and before long brutal murderers become part of the storyline. In someways, this makes it similar to “Shallow Grave,” but again it is the strength of the characters that guides the book. A good yarn, that ends well, and never relents in the basic thesis that even the best of people are actually quite mean underneath it all.

CD review – “Cracker EP”, by G-Spec: Electronic dance music, normally not the type of music that I listen to. Cracker is a bit typical in general, although the sounds are generally quite nice. Not quite as original as the unfortunately titled “The Rise of the Funkka Machine.” G-Spec is a guy whose sister works with my wife in Singapore. Cool!!

CD review – “The Rise of Funkka Machine”, by G-Spec: Very interesting arrangements of funky sounds, voice samples, all sorts of interesting commotion going on. Although this is the sort of electronica I normally don’t listen to, this project is very nice and shows a lot of creativity on the part of Mr. Spec, who clearly has a good sense of humor combining beats and cheezy sounds with cut-off samples of Marlon Brando muttering something or other. Weird, wild sounds. Yes, I really do like this a lot, it is a ton of fun!

happy at the train station!

happy at the train station!

Bukit Timah train station

Bukit Timah train station!

a face with characte

a face with character