Friday, December 29, 2006

Holiday

We haven't been blogging much since we've been home not because we haven't had the time- quite the contrary actually; this time round- having learnt it the hard, hectic way last year- we've deliberately taken things really slow, not packing appointments and meeting people back to back, running to and fro our parents' places and basically trying to juggle too much in too little time. Instead, we've been sleeping in (like 11 in the morning in...), spending more time with family, dinners at home, and actually just enjoying each others' company without the accompanying stress of school and chores. Basically, we've been sorta having a real holiday :)

The constant downpour has been most inconvenient and a literal damper on things actually, but it's also made the weather a lot cooler than it would have been. Thank goodness coz I don't think we would have been able to bear both the humidity and heat plus the crazy crowds this time of year at home. As our Flickr pictures attest, we've been doing an inordinate amount of eating (don't even ask how many photos we've added to our Food Pornography set... ok fine, if you must know, 38 food pics in the last 14 days.) We also finally relented and made a small, teeny, little purchase- see here. I think Jude's in a better position to say more about it's snazzy functions and super-duper Leica lens. Me, I just love how it makes all our photos so bright and pretty :)

Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Christmas!


To be able to celebrate the holidays at home two years in a row is a blessing I will never take for granted. It is the simple joy of being surrounded by family, friends and loved ones that makes Christmas truly, truly beautiful.

So here's wishing everyone a blessed Christmas and we hope that your holiday is filled with as much cheer and celebration as ours is!



[City Sidewalks. J. Pirman, 2005. Adapted from a holiday card available at MoMAstore.org.]

Friday, December 22, 2006

Little things

One thing about being so far away from home is that you realize how you've always taken so many things for granted, especially the little things. On top of the list, a good haircut. Both Jude and I have had little luck with the haircuts we've gotten in the States- Aveda is always a hit-and-miss thing with me, and the Asian lady who cuts Jude's hair makes him more frustrated than anything else.

Which is why one of the first things both of us do when we get home here is to get a haircut. Few men in this world understand me like 1) my husband, and 2) Ashley, my hair guy. The man's a genius. I barely say two sentences and he intuitively understands what I want. Any woman (heck, any person) who's had haircut problems, knows how difficult it is to find someone who just gets you, or at least gets your hair. And Ashley's such a lovely person too- I love the fact that he's still so sweet and down-to-earth despite the theatre people in Singapore having just given him a public tribute for helping them with their styling all these years.

As for Jude, his heart lies with the men we've affectionately termed his "surrogate fathers"- the Hainanese barbers at the basement of the Shangri-La. Jude and his friends have been going to them for years and as Jude put it, these crusty old men have pretty much tracked his life for the better of the last 10 years. They've even been asking Jude's friends about him every time he doesn't visit for months on end. Besides, where else in Singapore can you get a perfect scissor-cut haircut (none of that electric razor routine), a rock solid Hainanese neck massage, a warm face towel, and a good old-fashioned blade shave for under S$25? And as a plus- if it means anything- they cut Rock Hudson's hair when he was in Singapore those many many years ago :)

So folks, don't take your barber/ hairdresser for granted. You'll never know when you'll miss them.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

The madness...

I'm evidently only half the woman I used to be... The old me would have been able to traverse the whole of Orchard Road without a word of complaint and only just one cup of coffee; she would have been able to dash in and out of shopping malls in spite of torrential rain with panache and reckless aplomb; that me would also have been able to juggle Christmas shopping for a mere six people without feeling like she was on the edge of a nervous breakdown. I don't know where that me has gone because today's little trip down to Orchard Road sucked the life out of me. Maybe it was the crazy weather (it's been raining non-stop since 7am this morning...), the equally maddening Christmas-shopping crowd, or just me having been away from all this insanity for too long, but I honestly remember having more stamina for these things at some point in my past life.

And just in case shopping in Singapore in the heart of Orchard Road during the Christmas season with rain pouring torrentially outside wasn't exciting enough for my system, throw in two exuberant teenagers to shake things up just that little more. Sam and my cousin Jill were with me and trust me, nothing makes you feel older than listening to the speed at which teenagers can 1) talk; 2) change the topic of what they're talking about. Just trying to keep up with their conversation was exhausting in and of itself... I was thoroughly zapped out!

Anyways, Jude will be home in just under 24 hours and I'm literally counting down the minutes :) I've missed my husband dearly and I think he really needs this break home to just relax and unwind from the stress of this past semester.

In other words, I think we'll stay away from Orchard Road for a while at least... ;)

History that we forget all too easily

Some advertising for a friend's talk. Sounds really interesting. Pop by if you are in the vicinity at that day and time.

"The University of Malaya Socialist Club and the Fight for Singapore Independence"
by Michael Fernandez, Loh Kah Seng and Lim Cheng Tju

15 January 2007 (Monday), 3.30 to 5.30pm
Venue: Conference Room, Institute of Policy Studies, 29 Heng Mui Keng Terrace, S 119620

In the 1950s and 1960s, the University of Malaya* Socialist Club played a crucial role in the struggle for Singapore and Malaysia's independence from the British. The club, which counted major figures such as Tommy Koh, Lim Hock Siew, Edwin Thumboo and Wang Gangwu,
among its leaders, was instrumental in helping the People's Action Party obtain mass support and in pushing for a free, democratic and non-communal Malaya.

This talk is based on research for a book being written by the speakers.

Register by emailing to Catherine_Lim@ips.org.sg

* In 1959, the University of Malaya had two campuses, in Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. The latter became the University of Singapore in 1962.

About the speakers:

Loh Kah Seng is a Ph.D student at Murdoch University, Australia. He co-wrote with Michael Fernandez aa chapter for the forthcoming book "Path Not Taken" on the history of trade unions in Singapore from 1945 to 1970.

Lim Cheng Tju is a masters degree graduate in history from the National University of Singapore and works in the Ministry of Education.

Michael Fernandez is a former union leader who was detained without trial for nine years between 1964 and 1973

Monday, December 18, 2006

Be happy together.

These are the words engraved on my best friend's wedding ring. They were told to Duncan by his grandma and that's the sentiment that's going to now guide their marriage. Just be happy together. Simple, but so important...

So yes, the wedding was lovely. Just lovely. Everything from the tea ceremony to the church solemnization to the lunch reception went on as envisioned; but more importantly, did so because it all stemmed from a genuine and deep affection for Aileen and Duncan. All the organization and coordination weren't just tasks to be accomplished or a schedule to be fulfilled, but individuals' gift to the couple on their wedding day for being two of the most wonderful people around. And so insanely in love... :) I almost cried just watching Duncan's face as he read his vows (thanks to the vantage point of standing next to Aileen...)

And no, I did not trip on my two-inch heels. Buddy Holly's True Love Ways was the perfect tempo for the processional [and reminded me a little of the last song I walked down the aisle to... :)] and by the time S Club 7's You're My Number 1 came on for the recessional, I had been in those shoes for 4 hours and wore them like second skin. And yes, you're seeing right- S Club 7 (or S Club, since they're now down to 6 members...). This was Aileen's one concession to Duncan :) Apart from embodying all the requisite characteristics of the proper Englishman- loves soccer, incredibly polite, armed with a wicked sense of humor and an unfathomable affection for all things tea- he's also been a now not-so-closet fan of the British bubblegum pop group. And of course, he loves Rachel...

I am also proud to report that my speech went down as planned- all the aeronautical engineers laughed at my Airbus A320 joke (thanks to Aileen for a heads-up on that one...), people didn't just sit dumbstruck when I made a reference to her many emails of undying devotion and promises of lifetime servitude (cue canned laughter...), and I did what I promised her I wouldn't do (all energies must be harnessed to prevent those fake eyelashes from falling off)- I made her cry. I think it also fit in well with everyone else's speech- the father of the groom, the best man and both Duncan and Aileen- so that was nice too.

Anyways, the newlyweds are off skiing in Japan as we speak and I can't wait to catch up with them when they get back in the new year. It was one of the most beautiful and moving weddings I've been too and it gives me great joy to have been just that little part of it :)

Congratulations Mr and Mrs Duncan Colyer!

Friday, December 15, 2006

The first two days home...

... have been a whirlwind of activity. I want to say that I've been relaxing and trying to slowly recover from the dastardly jetlag, but I haven't. With my best friends wedding happening in less than 24 hours, I've actually been panicking along with her (although I'm sure for rather different reasons...):
1) After walking around the mall for almost 2 hours, I finally found a nice pair of shoes to go with my dress. They're tan/gold suede peep-toes and my first 2-inch heels. I'm a little nervous about walking down the aisle in them, but as the priest said at the wedding rehearsal last night, walk slowly. Besides, the best man's like 6ft 4in- I think he only hears echoes when I talk to him from down here...
2) We're going to the bridal shop today to pick up her gown. There's kneeling involved in the ceremony and guess who's going to have to make sure that she can get up and down in her dress while herself being in 2-inch heels... I hope neither one of us falls.
3) I'm bravely going to get a haircut today. Of the people I've told this too, only the women understand what an act of courage this is, to get a haircut the day before a big event... I'm telling myself that no one's looking at me, but there's no way I'm going to walk down the aisle with what's masquerading as a decent hairstyle right now.
4) I've been stressing out about this speech I'm giving... How does one strike the balance between the right dose of funny without being inappropriate, moving without being overtly emotional; short without being forgettable, but just the right length without getting boring?... I wrote something up on the plane and I think I'm going to have to send it to Jude to ask for his opinion. I read it to Sam and she thinks it's sweet. But she's also thirteen- Singapore Idol rocked her world. Enough said.

So anyway, the next 36 hours will be a little stressful but ultimately also very exciting. My best friend is marrying a man who's made her happier than she's ever been and that just knocks my socks off!... :)

Monday, December 11, 2006

Wedding tracks

Ok, I think I'm done with the CD for my best friend's wedding. It's a mix-bag of songs- some stuff we listened to together when we were in school, a bunch of schmaltzy favorites, and a few others that hopefully distinguishes this wedding soundtrack from thousands upon thousands created every year. It needs to be a smashing collection for one helluva couple!

While the Web was kinda helpful in picking out some tracks, I had more fun reading about what NOT to have on a wedding CD. Some top no-nos:
1) YMCA
2) Chicken Dance
3) From This Moment & You're Still The One (Shania Twain)
4) Amazed (Lonestar)
5) There You'll Be (Faith Hill)
6) Wind Beneath My Wings (Bette Midler)
and ANYTHING Celine Dion...

That last one made me laugh- can you imagine how many brides probably walked down the aisle to "My Heart Will Go On" in 1997/ 1998??

Anyways, this is what I put together- with the bride's stamp of approval of course :) She has a jazz band playing during lunch, so this is more the "when-the-band's-taking-a-break-but-we-can't-have-silence-when-people-are-eating" music...

1) God Only Knows (Beach Boys)
I started compiling this over Thanksgiving weekend so there's a whole bunch of Love Actually-inspired tracks.
2) If She Wants Me (Belle & Sebastian)
3) Sparks (Coldplay)
4) Just Like Heaven (The Cure)
5) My One and Only Love (Sting)
Schmaltzy but oh so sweet...
6) Kissing You (Des'ree)
7) Flowers In The Windows (Travis)
8) Better Together (Jack Johnson)
9) Wedding Bell Blues (Laura Nyro)
Jude and I had this on our wedding CD too- nothing not to love about the joyous voice of Laura Nyro.
10) Pure (The Lightning Seeds)
11) All You Need Is Love (Lynden David Hall)
12) Fade Into You (Mazzy Star)
13) Ain't No Mountain High Enough (Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell)
This is on here coz it's from a movie we both love- go guess...
14) Northern Sky (Nick Drake)
15) Such Grest Heights (The Postal Service)
16) The Sweetest Thing (U2)
17) Nightswimming (R.E.M.)
I know, not conventional, but I've loved this song for a long time.
18) What the World Needs Now (Burt Bacharach with Elvis Costello)
19) Somewhere Over The Rainbow & What a Wonderful World (Israel Kamakawiwo'ole)
A gorgeous version...
20) The Final Frontier (Anita Baker)
From one of our favorite TV shows.
21) If I Should Fall Behind (Bruce Springsteen)
22) Truly Madly Deeply (Savage Garden)
23) The Luckiest (Ben Folds)
24) By Your Side (Sade)
Her voice is so sexy it should be illegal...
25) Ice Cream (Sarah McLachlan)
One of the sweetest of her songs, and one of her least angsty too.
26) Lovefool (The Cardigans)
27) Shape of My Heart (Sting)
28) It Had To Be You (Harry Connick, Jr. & Frank Sinatra)
29) Melt With You (Modern English)
30) Dreams (The Cranberries)

Ok, now to figure out what to say in my speech...

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Christmas present 2006


Final product!
Originally uploaded by jyew.
I think we've started some kind of tradition without quite meaning to. So the Christmas present we prepared last year were ingredients for Cranberry Hootycreeks layered in a jar. This year, Jude and I had the same idea (at the same time!) to do something with hot chocolate. What's better to get you through those cold winter days and nights than a creamy mug of chocolatey heaven? Initially, I didn't think it was going to be very pretty since all the ingredients were kinda just shades of brown and beige, but then I stumbled across this recipe from Sunset that shows you have to brighten up your hot chocolate gift in a jar. We decided to go with a peppermint hot chocolate mix coz it's just that little more festive, and I lurve peppermint hot chocolate- so Christmas-y... :) It also ended up coordinating really well with the twine and crepe ribbons I have and pink & mint gift tags I made from card-stock from Target.

I really enjoyed putting the gift together- as messy as the process was (there is humanly no way to handle cups of milk, cocoa powder, sugar, choc chips and crushed peppermint candy without spilling things all over the floor)- and we're pretty happy with the final product :) There's just something sweetly satisfying about having made your own Christmas presents. Don't get me wrong, I love raiding the mall for Christmas presents as much as the next girl, but putting together a homemade holiday gift is just gratifying in its own little way :)

I think next year, we'll make Soup in a Jar...

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Step out of the car please.

*Drats*… so I got pulled over for the first time today. Yes, you heard right. Pulled over. By cops. With the whole blaring sirens, lights flashing, you’ve-been-identified-as-breaking-the-law routine. And for what? Because I did an illegal right turn on the No Turn on Red corner from South University onto Washtenaw (yes, you’ve been duly warned…). I have no excuses for not seeing the sign, except that I really didn’t see the sign, but am just a little miffed that these cops had nothing better to do on a Wednesday night than to hang out on street corners waiting to catch someone turning on a red light onto a completely empty street. Isn’t there some drug party you should be breaking up or donuts you should be eating? Sheesh… Yes, you know Serene Koh’s upset when she makes snide remarks about food.

So there goes $130, and with it, my dreams of a new super-slim digital camera I was saving to buy myself for Christmas. Urgh… I am so not happy :(

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

7 days

I'm going home in a week! And yet at this point, it seems like such a looong way off... Someone dropped a bomb on the research project I'm on so now everyone's in crisis mode, plus I have to watch even more Sesame Street videos, and finish this 25-page final term paper by Friday, after which I will be HOME FREE! :)

Things to do from now till next Tuesday:
1) Finish term paper
2) Work on research project stuff
3) Watch Sesame Street clips (till tolerance for primary colors runs out)
4) Prepare Christmas presents/cards for our friends here
5) Shop for Christmas presents for our family/friends back home
6) Download, compile and burn wedding CD for best friend (see here for some pretty good suggestions)
7) Prepare speech for best friend's wedding (see here for some downright dreadful suggestions)
8) Make sure can still fit in dress for best friend's wedding, i.e. gym till I turn Grover-blue
9) Tidy up study room so that it looks less like tornado wreckage
10) Spend much time with The-Man-I'm-Married-To who's not leaving for home till the week after :(

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Don and Drew no more

I am sorry to have missed this radio show in Singapore. I have been somewhat peripherally aware of the Don and Drew show for some time now. However, I never really took the time to listen to it. I just found out a couple of days ago that the show's been pulled off the air a couple of months ago and I think that it's a crying shame. It's one of the best things to happen to Singapore radio in a long time. Sure they're rude and make fun of everybody and everything. But these guys write, produce, and even compose music for their own shows. This is more than can be said for most radio stations that are all tangentially linked to the government and all seem to employ the formula that pretty young actors and actresses would make good radio DJs and hosts. How is Singapore going to attain the title of the regional IT and media hub when there is little tolerance for difference and creativity? I am not trying to defend Don and Drew because they can be extremely rude. But you have to admit that they had the balls to enact some change in the Singapore radio scene. And besides they were one of the first people to use podcasts as a means to draw in an international audience for a radio industry that is really quite parochial.

As I've said, my lament for this show perhaps comes too late. (and I should even admit that I know Don's brother & Drew's wife) But I do like their weird irreverent humor and making fun of all things local. Check out their inspired Ramly Burger Rap.

For those of you not familiar with what a Ramly Burger is, there's a wikipedia entry on it and I have attached a photo below for good measure.



It's a burger with a fried egg on top. I do miss it dearly. And the best approximation for a Ramly Burger for me is a triple with a fried egg and onions from Blimpy Burger. But I digress. You can listen to Don & Drew's last show below. Check out especially the last 10 minutes of the show. It's inspired and the saddest ending to a show I've heard in a long time.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Where's...?

[created by eBoy]

[click for enlarged version]

It's like playing Where's Wally, except with all things webalicious... Enjoy!

The beginning of the end

I've done it. Submitted the first draft of my first pre-candidacy paper. It's a little unnerving actually, and I'm not actually sure how good a job it is. I keep telling myself that it's only a first draft, but there was a sense of inevitability as I hit the "Send" button this morning when I emailed the draft to my committee. This first paper is meant to exhibit my ability to do original research, which means I had to "showcase" all the research methods I've acquired. I basically augmented my conference paper from last year and pulled out all the stops in terms of whatever quantitative skills I have. On some self-flagellating level, I guess I do enjoy crunching the numbers and pouring through reams of data, but it's not something I anticipate doing for life.

So a couple of weeks ago, I made a potentially momentous decision with regards to what I might be doing for my dissertation. I kinda have to take that step soon since my second pre-candidacy paper- which I'm writing in the Winter- is supposed to be the lit review for the thesis. Typically, doctoral students in my position use the research they're doing for their professors as data for their dissertations, but I'm in sort of a unique situation. The professor I work for isn't my adviser, so technically, I don't have to use her data. Besides, as much as I enjoy working with Sesame Street, writing curriculum, and all those things associated with early literacy instruction, I don't quite see it as my life's work. Jude and I were talking to Eric the other day about what kind of research we want to do, and I came to the conclusion that I want to write a dissertation that is rich and generative of later work, not just something which "shows" that I can run multilevel regression models. It has to be work I can stand by with conviction and say is mine. One of my friends who defended her dissertation last year talked about how she couldn't wait to wake up in the morning everyday to write her thesis because it was something that really inspired her and that she felt passionate about. I want the process to be like that for me- if I'm going to commit the next three years of my life to one single topic, it had better be one that I can really dig into and explore, break apart, put together, basically get my hands dirty so to speak and really grow intellectually from.

Rachael shared these wise words with me over lunch a couple of weeks ago, that as an academic or a scholar, you may not get paid as much as let's say lawyers or doctors, but your work belongs to you. It's your research and your ideas- you may be accountable to your professor or your dean, but ultimately, what you create is yours. Sorta like an artisan- ok, I might be romanticizing it a little, but you get the point. Anyways, it was truly quite heartening to hear what she said, and also made me think really long and hard about what I want to do.

So like I said, I think I've made my decision. I'm not sure if I'll regret it or if I might change my mind in a couple of months, but for now, I'm incredibly excited :)

Dissertation research

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Hey... you... guys!!!!!!!

You know those moments you have after you've watched a really good movie by your favorite director, and you wished you could just meet them in person and tell them what a great job they did, and how their movies have profoundly changed the course of your life and you would appreciate it very much if they could adopt you as their charity case? Well, it was a little like that for me today, though not the movie director and adoption part. So as some of you know, the project I'm on works closely with Sesame Street, and is also partially funded by the Department of Education and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (which runs PBS and NPR). So the other people at the presentation today were producers of all these shows on PBS- like Sesame Street- who are also supported by the DOE. And guess what? I got to have lunch with the very people who created Between the Lions, Blues' Clues (they have a new show coming out in Sept '07, for all you parents out there... and are such wonderfully funny people), Zoom (the now online-only science program that Sam loved when she was younger), and get this Eric and Amy, the man who brought Thomas the Tank Engine to the U.S.!! I spoke to him actually and told him how I know a 2 year-old who would give anything to hang out in his office. He gave one of those full-bellied laughters only a man above 60 who's worked with kids is capable of giving... :)

I also met the puppeteer behind Bear in the Big Blue House and Sesame Street, and the most awesome of all, I discover that the woman I've been in contact with for the past month about this presentation used to work at Cartoon Network and was in charge of creating the Powerpuff Girls, Rugrats, and Dexter's Laboratory!! If all this means nothing to you, that's coz you don't have a sister 17 years younger than you who made you spend so many hours so many years ago plonked in front of the TV with her... These characters were such a huge part of her formative years, they were practically family.

Anyways, it was just heartening for me to learn about all the effort and care that goes into producing a children's TV show, especially ones that try to reach out to low-income children in order to teach literacy and numeracy (a certain yellow sponge was brought up disparagingly several times as being antithetical to all that these people are trying to do...) The research behind it all, the testing and trialing with the kids in actual settings (it's a little like user-testing really), we were shown storyboards of brand new seasons of many PBS shows, mock-ups, scripts- it was so exciting, I felt like a kid all over again!

But the piece of news that really thrilled the socks off me is that PBS is going to bring back The Electric Company!! For those of you not old enough to remember the Electric Company, it was conceived in the '70s by the Children's Television Workshop, building on the success of Sesame Street, but targeted at older children. It was cool, groovy, hilarious, and so much fun. And most importantly, it focused on teaching literacy skills to pre-teens who were otherwise not getting it anywhere else. That was when I first encountered Morgan Freeman and Rita Moreno (she's the voice that screams, "Hey-You-Guys!!!!!"), and the Spiderman (a.k.a. Spidy) who spoke only in bubble words. It was such a big part of my Saturday afternoons as kid that when I saw some of the old footage today, I could feel my heart just swell three sizes larger :)

One of the highlights of the new Electric Company is that they've gotten the help of Freestyle Love Supreme, an improv hip-hop troupe. Their specialty is improv rap, which is perfect for teaching literacy components like rhyming, phonics and decoding. You have to listen to one of the tracks on their MySpace site where fans challenge them to come up with a rap with the word "orange". It's brilliant!

So yes, Electric Company 2.0- and you heard it first here :)

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Of Peanuts and presentations

How festive- I'm listening to the A Charlie Brown Christmas soundtrack while ambulance sirens have been blaring on and off for the last 3 hours... It's hard to get in the mood for Christmas when all you're thinking about is why ambulances are driving past your hotel in droves.

So I'm in D.C. for 2 days to give a presentation to the U.S. Dept. of Education at George Washington University. Sounds fancy I know, but honestly, I'd rather be home. I have so much work to finish before I leave for Singapore, it's not even funny. Which is why I have more books and notes in my suitcase than clothes. No sightseeing for this girl- it's going to be just me and my computer all night, with the soothing blares of ambulances outside to calm my fraying nerves...

But guess who's also going to be taking a break to hang with Charlie, Snoopy and gang on ABC later tonight? :)
I never thought it was such a bad little tree. It's not bad at all, really. Maybe it just needs a little love.
-Linus, A Charlie Brown Christmas

Monday, November 27, 2006

Tiger, tiger burning bright

My happy new desktop picture- all pink and orange :) Thanks to Julianne!


According to Dan, she had initially said, "Well, I kinda want to keep it..." Then she graciously let me use it after he explained that she didn't technically have to give it away... :)

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Video of the week

Slacker turned musical wunderkind Beck, playing on Saturday Night Live:

Think Stomp, but with silverware. And if you didn't know better, you'd think Malcolm Gladwell had quit his day job at the New Yorker and joined Beck's band...

I suggest you watch the video quick before NBC pulls it off YouTube the same way it's done with almost all the SNL clips.

Oh, and I want to get myself one of those Beck puppets... :)

[Update: They've removed the video- I knew it! Here's the backup. The video mentioned above is the second one.]

Saturday, November 25, 2006

The day after

So it's 11.17am the morning after and I'm still not hungry. The last time I ate? About 3.45pm yesterday. I think the menu speaks for itself:

Thanksgiving Dinner @ Rick & Emilee's (11/23)
Vanilla & Cranberry Biscotti
Dinner Rolls
Creamy Mashed Potato
Sweet Potato Mash with Brown Sugar and Pecan
Green Bean Casserole
Spicy Mac 'n Cheese
Herb and Bread Stuffing
Spicy Cranberry Sauce
Deep-fried Turkey (with gravy)
Miniature vanilla cheesecake with strawberries

See what I mean? How can we not be hungry for another 4 hours? And I just have to say one thing- people, wake up and smell the deep-fried turkey! There should be no other way of cooking the bird- because of the direct contact with the heat source, the turkey became extremely crispy on the outside, locking all the yummy juices inside so the meat stays all moist and fall-of-the-bone yummy... Is it dangerous to cook a 14lb bird in a vat of boiling oil over an open propane flame? Yes. Should it be of concern that to date, no turkey deep-fryer has been endorsed as safe by the FDA? Probably. But is it worth it? Definitely. The day after, Serene Koh gives thanks for leftovers... :)

She also gives thanks for the indulgent luxury of two movies in a day (both about the Brits- one she could watch over and over- and probably has because it's one of her all-time favorite holiday movies, and the other about one man's globe-trotting mission to save the world from global terrorism which she's glad to have to watch only once because it was incomprehensible from start to finish, Uganda to Montenegro.)
We may be a small country but we're a great one, too. The country of Shakespeare, Churchill, the Beatles, Sean Connery, Harry Potter. David Beckham's right foot. David Beckham's left foot, come to that. And a friend who bullies us is no longer a friend. And since bullies only respond to strength, from now onward, I will be prepared to be much stronger.

Thanksgiving photos here.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Give thanks


Our family, friends, good health, and happiness in each other- for these we are thankful :) Here's wishing everyone a Thanksgiving graced with good and simple things!
To wake at dawn with a winged heart and give thanks for another day of loving."
-Kahlil Gibran

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Local indie covers by LocalBarBoy




Former Padres frontman and "Mee Pok Man" Joe Ng's new band Localbarboy only belts out cover versions of local band music and "aims to create a karaoke-friendly environment at our shows, with lyrics on cue boards for the audience to sing-along". All this according to their MySpace site. Joe has also made recordings of localbarboy's shows available on his blog.

I am not sure how aware Joe is about the limits of copyright that he is pushing with this band project. And I am not sure that he cares either. My impression of the music scene in Singapore is that it is still a nascent community that draws little mainstream acknowledgement. Perhaps localbarboy's efforts may be a little naive legally, but I think Joe's got his heart in the right place. When there are few official channels to publicize and make local music known, you DIY. Joe's offering of the recordings of many other Singaporean bands on his blog is not only a community building effort on his part, but also harkens back to the days when listening to a grainy, poorly recorded bootleg recording of a live show. And as testament to Joe's community building efforts is the fact that members of the other bands that localbarboy covers often play on stage with them. In solidarity with Joe, (and perhaps a little foolishly) I offer you a sampling of a localbarboy show above. As evidenced by the reception of the crowd at these shows, there is lusty enthusiasm and familiarity for these songs. And to think that a couple of years back, local media had pronounced that the Singaporean music scene was all but dead.

This brings me to a "rockumentary" that was screened in the Detroit Flim Theater a couple of weeks ago and that we tagged along with Eric and Amy for. "It Came From Detroit" highlighted the Garage band scene that was at its peak during the 90s in the city. One line in the movie stuck in my head "everyone's band was like their own little gang, and there's all these little gangs intermingling with each other ..." Kinda sounds like Joe's little project here.

Oh BTW, the track performed is a song called "Siti" by former Singaporean enfants terrible, Force Vomit. The recording was taken from a show that localbarboy performed at Homeclub on 28th July 2006.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Mythbusters

It's about time someone gave this show the accolade it deserves. Here's a NYT article on one of our favorite TV shows, Mythbusters on the Discovery Channel.

Is Mythbusters the Best Science Show on Television?

Basically it's a bunch of stunt-men/science geeks/ daredevils coming together to investigate if myths about certain phenomenon are really true. Like electrocution by throwing an appliance in the bathtub- is there a voltage threshold? Does having pee in the water intensify the effect? What about beating a security system? Can you really do what Tom Cruise did in MI-1? What if you covered yourself completely in mud? Would you be able to evade the motion/heat detectors?

My favorite cast member is Kari- she's the babe with the tools and she rocks! She wields a hammer and screwdriver in a way that would make Rosie the Riveter proud! So definitely try to catch the show if you can- it really is blast and you'll learn more in that hour than any chemistry or physics class you've ever taken. In the words of co-host Adam Savage, "It's Jackass meets Mr. Science". And that's no myth :)

Monday, November 20, 2006

Snowed in...

I don't really know what it is about this song- maybe it's just the mood I'm in today, the stress from end-of-semester work, and/or the fact that's it's snowing outside and it's just one of those physiological things that happens to your disposition when the weather drastically changes. It's not as if it's an exceptionally well-composed song, and I'm not even that huge a Snow Patrol fan at that, but there's just something about it today that I'm responding very viscerally to. The lyrics maybe- that combination of desperate longing and mute, repressed pain(?). It's almost sexy, in a "I-need-to-sweep-you-away-now-because-you-grip-the-madness-of-my-soul" way... Am I even making sense?

You decide for yourself.

Open Your Eyes
All this feels strange and untrue
And I won't waste a minute without you
My bones ache, my skin feels cold
And I'm getting so tired and so old

The anger swells in my guts
And I won't feel these slices and cuts
I want so much to open your eyes
Cos I need you to look into mine

Tell me that you'll open your eyes [x4]

Get up, get out, get away from these liars
Cos they don't get your soul or your fire
Take my hand, knot your fingers through mine
And we'll walk from this dark room for the last time

Every minute from this minute now
We can do what we like anywhere
I want so much to open your eyes
Cos I need you to look into mine

Tell me that you'll open your eyes [x8]

All this feels strange and untrue
And I won't waste a minute without you
-Snow Patrol

Sunday, November 19, 2006

The end zone

Watching the game was supposed to be stress-relief for both Jude and I. Isn't sports supposed to be relaxing and fun? Shouldn't it allow you to take a break from the frantic cardiac palpitations that already plague the other 15 waking hours of a grad student's life? Apparently not- those three hours were instead nail-bitingly, nerve-wreckingly anxiety-ridden. Everytime we thought Michigan had control of the game, Ohio came back with an even better play, and in the end, it seemed clear that the Buckeyes were the better team (or so I was told of course- I just cheered whenever everyone else was squealing, and dutifully boo-ed on command...). With 19 seconds left to the game, we resigned ourselves to second place with a infinitesimally narrow score of 39- 42. And this was despite a momentarily euphoric touchdown in the last 2 minutes... :(

I can see how supporting a professional sport- even at the college level can consume you. It was intoxicating enough even without quite understanding what was going on. Kinda like when my family used to watch soccer when Singapore was still in the Malaysia Cup (the intoxicating part I mean, not the lack of understanding...). So Mr. Petersen, I think I might just take up your suggestion and read Don DeLillo's End Zone over the vacation. I could be convinced about this whole American football thing... :)

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Hail to the victors...

As if the century-long rivalry isn't enough to make me give American football another chance to impress me, former UM football coach Bo Schembechler passed away this morning, making tomorrow's U-M vs. Ohio State game even more emotional than it already is. How big a deal is tomorrow's showdown between the two unbeaten teams and the impact of Schembechler's death just the day before? See here, here, and here.

Till today, I still don't understand the game. When our friend Terence came to visit, he attempted valiantly to show me the beauty of the sport as we watched a game together (ok, he watched and I watched him watch so I could pretend that I was watching too...) But I won't be watching for the game tomorrow. I'll be watching for the players. And I'll be watching for the fans. And I'll be watching to see the Wolverines beat the Buckeyes to claim the Big Ten Championship title.

Go blue!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

BSS update

To complete the triptych of blogposts on the BSS concert, here are some videos of it that we found on YouTube. The sound quality isn't the best in some of them and others are a little Blair Witch Projectesque (cue: motion-sickeness and nausea), but you kinda get a feel for why until today, we're still reeling a little from the experience :)

Warming up


The ladies of BSS- Lisa Lobsinger on vocals and Julie Penner on violin ("Anthems for a Seventeen Year-Old Girl")


The crowd was invited onstage during "Hotel" (it was a virtual stampede- someone broke a pedal.)


Bandwitch


A less known track- "Canada vs. America"

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

What's that?...

[thanks to Rachel and Wikipedia]

It's been 48-hours. That's it. We have tinnitus.
Tinnitus (ti-NIGHT-us or TIN-i-tus) is the perception of sound in the absence of a corresponding external sound. It can be perceived in one or both ears or in the head. Tinnitus is the Latin word for "ringing", and usually it is described as a ringing noise, but in some patients it takes the form of a buzzing, hissing, humming, or whistling sound, ticking, clicking, roaring, "crickets," tunes, or songs. It has also been described as a "whooshing" sound, as of wind or waves.

Although there are no specific cures for tinnitus, anything that brings the person out of the "fight or flight" stress response helps symptoms recede over a period of time. Calming body-based therapies, counselling and psychotherapy help restore well-being, which in turn allows tinnitus to settle.

Libby says if she sticks her finger in her ear and then pulls it out really fast, she can hear for like 5 seconds. Beats psychotherapy.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Is the Social Scene broken?

[photo from NYT]

I am typing this as a desperate ringing in my ears threatens to drive me criminally insane. That's what you get for sitting four rows from the stage as Broken Social Scene spent three hours jamming their rambunctious Canadian hearts out in downtown Ann Arbor. And it was sublime...

They've been called everything from a musical co-op to a network to a "tribe and a cult" (see this wonderfully written NYT article about the Toronto music scene in general and BSS in particular). With a revolving set of band members, they can have anywhere between 9- 15 people on any one track at the same time. Which makes for a great live show because you see the full range of instruments and creative vibe just explode synergistically. Today, I counted seven guitars, a keyboard combo, two drum-sets, four horns, one saxaphone, one trombone, several tambourines, one violin, the cow bells, and one harmonica. And sometimes simultaneously.

BSS does not have a sound- that's not what they do, that's not who they are. Which is what makes their music so great. One minute they sound like a folk-band straight out of North Carolina, another they are jamming as hard as rock bands come, and always, as Rachel says, subtly symphonic. This is clearly a function of the fact that each of the various members brings with them something to the music which becomes a different creation depending on who takes the lead. One of favorite tracks, Ibi Dreams of a Pavement (see video) starts of head-bangingly hard-rocking, but then has a violin solo in the middle, and crescendos to the blast of the brass instruments at the end. And Jude just finds the social dynamic of the band utterly fascinating, especially how it contributes to the organic, electic nature of their music.

And yet this could also be what may spell the premature death of what could be one of the greatest bands of our generation. There are just too many sensitive artistic souls for one stage to accommodate. Some splinters were already beginning to show in the concert tonight as lead singer Kevin Drew said something to the effect of how the band is messy, disorganized, and how this might be BSS's last concert. It certainly was the last performance of their 2006 touring season (which was why there was an almost epic tenor to the whole concert) but the way he said it and the tension that seemed to transpire between him and some of the other band members (on stage no less...) seemed to suggest that we might be the last people to see BSS perform together again, whatever together might mean for a band like that.

Tonight, amidst a sound system that performed beyond what the acoustics of the Michigan Theatre could support, copious amounts of alcohol consumption on-stage, and a near stampede when the audience was hauled up to bogey with the band, BSS played their hearts out. Everything from the ethereal Anthems of a Seventeen Year-Old Girl to Jude's favorite Handjobs for the Holidays was heart-renderingly and exquisitely delivered. The whole theatre was enraptured, swept up in the electrifying combustion of a group of people just coming together to make good music. And Jude, Rachel, Libby & I had the time of our lives.

Will Broken Social Scene tour again? Who knows?... But I'm glad they toured today.


[I couldn't find a video of their concert here tonight. Here's one of them performing at Berkeley. I think it suitably captures the euphoric energy that is so much a part of BSS, especialy tonight.]

Radio scan of the day

Via BoingBoing. This is a radio scan from the Burning Man festival in Nevada. Sound familiar to anyone ;)

Saturday, November 11, 2006

There she goes...

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

So get this, I've had my nano for more than two months now, and I've been religiously using my NikePlus transmitter when I run and downloading the data after. But did I think to look at the chart of my progress? Nope, not till today-*dumkopf*.... I'd always just looked at the History folder in the nano and used the last run as a gauge of how hard and long to run this time. But voila, I log on to my NikePlus account today and what do I discover? In the past two months, I've completed a total of 19 runs covering 65.45 km (40.66 miles)! Now that's incredible... Geez... I'm impressing myself...

Ok, this might not seem a huge deal for some of you but you try bearing the indignity of never (I stress that word with all earnestness) having passed a single physical fitness test in your entire life because you could never complete the 2.4km-run under 17 minutes. Trust me, this is nothing short of miraculous. If my math hasn't completely failed me, based on my last run, I'm clocking 2.4km in just under 15 minutes. And it could potentially be shorter if I disregard the time I take to cool down.

Now by my standards, that's incredible.

This all given appropriate motivation of course. That's what the nano's for- Arctic Monkeys great for running; Damien Rice not so great. The Radio Dept. good for warming up; Cat Power for cooling down. And gotta have that PowerSong. At the end of my run, I have Paula Radcliffe congratulating me for completing my workout. Now that's sweet :) Can I run without my nano? Honestly, I don't know. I might have to say No.

So I promised Sam I'll run with her when I'm home over Christmas. Hopefully I'll keep this up and won't end up eating her dust when she leaves me sputtering in her tracks...

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Goopy Interweb arts







I love this set of arts about teh interwebs ;) I found them via mrbrown.com and fell in love with them immediately. For the complete set of interweb speak arts check out Goopy's flickr set. Best of all, he's using an open license and all are free to use his interweb arts as long as we credit him. FTW Goopy!!!

BTW can anyone guess what the above interweb acronyms stand for?

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Georgia on my mind

So, I'm off to Atlanta tomorrow for an early childhood conference. It's just for two days and I'm presenting in a symposium on professional development for teachers. It's a different audience from what I'm used to so it'll be interesting I'm sure.

The furthest south we've traveled in the States is Kentucky (because Florida isn't quite considered down south, and if you think about it, Miami's like a whole other country anyways so that doesn't count...), so it'll be cool to see a little bit of Atlanta. I asked around about what might be interesting, and someone's response was that 1) people talk funny there, and 2) they serve everything with grits.

Fun... ;)

Monday, November 06, 2006

Oh, the horror...

Ok, so I thought I'd left the nightmare of taking stats behind me: three semesters of quantitative methods and a Masters degree later, I'd believed that I can now run a one-way ANOVA without reeling from post-traumatic stress disorder after. I've never seen myself as a quantitative researcher although I use it for my research, but at least I can distance the use of statistics from the pain I had to endure to learn it. Till today, my friends and I still think of that whole sequence of quantitative research classes as our Nam- we were stats PoWs...

But this video has opened the floodgates of painful memories all over again- I feel the rising nausea, the bile, the dull throbbing ache of an oncoming migraine, that sickly familiar cold sweat... What's the chi-square? How do you calculate the F-statistic? What does this standard deviation mean? Read the p-value!! I'm an English major!!!

And yet, I laugh... and laugh... and laugh :)


The scary thing is how much of the video I actually understand...

[video courtesy of Kevin @ theory.isthereason]

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Pop

So as part of Serene Koh's continuing initiation into American culture, I decided to foray into a culinary unknown today.

I ate my first Pop Tart. Frosted Brown Sugar and Cinnamon if you must know.

It was... how shall I say this... OK. I mean, I wasn't sure what to expect, but maybe something more exciting? I hear people talk about it as the quintessential American snack- Lorelai and Rory love it on Gilmore Girls, there's a Smashing Pumpkins song all about it, and didn't it essentially kill someone in Pulp Fiction? Maybe I was hoping for something which snapped, crackled and popped, or exploded with taste, tickled my tastebuds, tantalized my senses... I don't know, the pop tart was just... fine, I guess. Kinda like a cross between a cookie, a covered pineapple tart from home, and a biscuit. And it's way flatter than it looks on the box. I was a little bummed...

Maybe I should start looking out for a deep-fried Twinkie.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Time Lapse Road Trip LA - NYC


Found this on Digg. I'm not familiar with the artist performing the music- Lacquer's "Behind"- however, this is a new video from the minds of Michel & Olivier Gondry. This one is for all you folks that have done that coast-to-coast drive (well from Michigan to the West Coast at least)- something that we would like to do at least one in our lifetime. Hopefully it'll happen sometime soon, though doing it multiple times could become a pain after a while (as some of you can attest...)

Challenge: Can you identify the different landscapes through which the guy drives? :)

First snow


My frosted phlox
Originally uploaded by jyew.
Yup- it was the first official day of snow here in Ann Arbor. The freak "blizzard" that couple of weeks ago doesn't count... The snow today was sustained and actually came down quite hard in the afternoon- I somehow managed to get snow on my sweater which was under a zipped jacket- go figure... And as you can see, my darling plants are bearing the cruel brunt of the frost :(

It would also seem that Michigan drivers have forgotten how to drive in the snow. The news reported a 10-car pile-up on Huron Parkway, and many freeways all across Southeast Michgan were experiencing crawling traffic as well. Trust me, come January, these same people are going to be hurtling through blizzards at 100mph...

As for my husband, we get snow, and what does it make him think of?

Ice kacang.

See, that's why I love the man... :)

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Pumpkincide


Mr. Nervous post-carving, pre-lit
Originally uploaded by jyew.
Every year we tell ourselves to get more candy, and every year, we don't get enough. Once again, I had to turn trick-or-treaters away because we just ran out... Of course, it didn't help that Audrey screamed from half a block away, "C'mon guys, let's go to Serene's house!!", after which I was promptly assailed by a motley crew of Spidermen, ninja witches, fairies, princesses and a chili pepper. But my favorite this year has to be a the little girl who was a stick of bright red Crayola crayon :)

Anyways, Rick and Emilee came over with three monstrously huge pumpkins and we spent the night listening to The Pixies and Rickie Lee Jones (whose song, Ghetto of My Mind, incidentally, is what this blog is named after...) while hacking those gourds to bits... For some unfathomable reason, my pumpkin ended up with a perplexed expression *again* (see last year's)- it's as if I'm incapable of carving a scary pumpkin... Rick's Big Dipper pumpkin was awesome and so was Emille's Casper the ghost, especially with the flickering candles inside. It was good fun and Emilee even ended up with a huge bowlful of pumpkin seeds to roast.

Hope everyone had a ghoulishly good Halloween!

Sunday, October 29, 2006

A Halloween birthday


Thanks so much for those of you who braved the unseasonably cold weather to come out for drinks tonight! Yes, there were those strange moments at Bab's where the guy in the Richard Simmonesque spandex costume got a little too close for comfort, or when the troupe of Wonderwomen looked more like a female wrestling team than superheroes. And who can forget the human gum-ball machine whose costume no one could quite figure out till Anna took it upon herself to ask the poor girl... Yup, the perils of celebrating your birthday on the same weekend as when the rest of a college town celebrates Halloween.

Whatever the case may be, insanely cold weather and weird Halloween characters aside, turning 30 has been a blast, and that our friends were around to celebrate it with me made it all the more special. Thanks a ton guys!!

[Birthday photos here.]

Friday, October 27, 2006

30

No, I'm not going to wax all philosophical about what it means to turn 30 today, or dispense pearls of wisdom as if I've gained this new insight into the metaphysics of existence. Honestly, I don't feel any different today than I did yesterday (except maybe 3lbs heavier considering the indulgent birthday breakfast I got free from Angelo's this morning- corned beef hash with raisin toast and a side of bacon. What a way to embrace your age, with a one-way ticket straight to cardiac-arrest central...)

But, if there is one sentiment to be shared on this momentous occasion though, I guess it would have to be gratitude. Gratitude for being able to do something I love and enjoy everyday, and that even though I might not be making as much money as people much younger than I am, I have the privilege of being constantly challenged, humbled, but also strengthened, that I may do something good for others in the future; gratitude for the people who love me- my parents and sisters who are never far from my mind even if they are far away geographically; and my friends (both near and far) who love me for simply who I am and ask for nothing more.

And most importantly, I am thankful for the blessing of waking up every morning next to a good, kind man who makes me laugh everyday, and with whom I can't wait to spend the next 30 years of my life (and the next 30 after that too...)

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Wedding reunion

It's been more than two months since Christine's cultural experience of a bridal shower, and our first full-fledged American wedding was wonderful to say the least. It was a really sweet ceremony- Christine almost had to choke back her tears when saying her vows, and the reception was a complete and utter blast too. It was obvious to everyone there that the two of them could not be more in love if they tried- Christine, the epitome of the blushing bride, and Josh, the adoring groom. They're just so perfectly cute together!!... Congrats again the two of you!

The wedding was also a reunion of sorts for us as all the SI people descended upon Michigan from wherever they've been since graduation. Most travelled in from the west coast and immediately thanked their good minds for having moved there in the first place when Michigan welcomed them with nothing but its beguiling dreary skies, fortifying chill and the refreshing dampening of rain. How nice. Ann Arbor just hasn't been the same without them and it was so heartwarming to catch up with everyone and hang out just like old times (except that now, everyone actually has a real income- well, except Kathy who's just that bit sado-masochistic like us- while we're still stuck under the poverty line...)

Anyways, highlights of the evening:
1) Sweet Adrien telling me that he had actually drafted a detailed email to me about how to solve my webpage's IE problem. I fixed it before he could send that mail but I was still touched and told him to send it anyway.
2) Allison's date, Rory, connecting with Jude on The Big Lebowski level, which made me realize that there will always be a part of men I will never understand.
3) Everyone hanging our at Forte in Birmingham after the ceremony over drinks, coffee and inordinate amounts of chocolate mints. We talked about absolutely nothing, but in the words of Meg Ryan in You've Got Mail, all those nothings meant more than so many somethings.
4) Our 7-car convoy navigating our way across southeast Michigan from Bloomfield Hills to downtown Birmingham to Pontiac without once losing anyone. I can't even begin to describe how cool we are for accomplishing that...
3) Marta reading an email from Josh he wrote 2 years ago just as he and Christine were going out saying how he would one day ask this woman to marry him. The newlyweds looked like they would have cried into their dinner entrees.
4) Two words: Hokey-Pokey (or is that one word?). And I'll just leave it at that.

All in all, I was just plain happy to see everybody again. The photos are up here, and I can't wait for the next wedding (I'm not naming names...) so we can do this all over again... :)
What a feeling in my soul
Love burns brighter than sunshine
Brighter than sunshine
Let the rain fall, I don't care
I'm yours and suddenly you're mine
Suddenly you're mine
and it's brighter than sunshine.
- Brighter Than Sunshine, Aqualung (from Josh & Christine's wedding program)

Student feedback



I am in the midst of getting student feedback for my teaching and this video got me on the floor. Now I am wondering whether all the feedback this lecturer got was from one class, and if so ... where did all the sexy comments come from???

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Make it work!

[I spoiler tagged the parts about the results so I won't ruin the fun for those of you not in the U.S. Only scroll over (or highlight if you're an IE user) if you want to know who won Season 3 of Project Runway.]

Julie's silhouette
Originally uploaded by jyew.
Jeffrey won???!!! C'mon... My bet was on Uli, who's just such a lovely person. She was the first to hug Jeffrey after Tim Gunn announced that he was still in the competition, and with such genuine affection. And her clothes! Beautiful!! I've always loved her designs, and just as you thought she was going to be just a one-trick pony, she wowed everyone today with that stunning line.

In the end, we figured Jeffrey won because his clothes were more haute coutureesque, whereas Uli's didn't exactly break new ground. Jeffrey's definitely the more innovative of the two, but still, his *&^%$#@! attitude throughout the whole season notwithstanding, I just didn't think he deserved to win the same way Uli did.


The show aside, a bunch of friends and I came up with what we feel is an inspired idea to celebrate Halloween (sorta) early, and dress up for the finale in show of our support for Project Runway in general, and Tim Gunn in particular (isn't he just everyone's favorite teacher??). The theme is to come dressed either as a designer, a judge, or one of the challenges. The party, ladies and gentlemen, was a complete and utter blast!! Check it out here.

Most people turned up as the Black and White challenge (some even hand-made their outfits!), but there were a few sublime exceptions. Jude taught today till 8.30 so in the absence of a special outfit, we said he was going as the "Elle Editorial- An outfit to best capture your style" challenge, which in his case, if anyone asks, is geek chic... ;) I had problems figuring out which challenge my outfit would best capture, and in the end, I guess it's the International Jetsetter challenge (because it's kind of dressy but comfy and travels well) meets Couture (because it's sparkly). I had to "walk the runway" barefeet though coz I couldn't bring myself to buy a pair of shoes just to match my outfit. It seemed to work; although neither one of us won prizes for Most Imaginative, Best Presentation, or Most Like the Show, I got a prize just for how sparkly my skirt was :)

So yes, now you know what grad students are really like beneath our geeky facade. In reality, we actually don't study at all and have a lot of time on our hands which we spend by getting together in weird outfits and celebrating our collective nerdiness by drinking beer and watching TV. Ahh... the sweet life :)

Simple "bento" lunch


Simple lunch
Originally uploaded by jyew.
Jude and I make it point to bring our own lunch to school everyday. It's so much cheaper, and also much healthier and more satisfying than say a slice of pizza or take-out. More often than not it's leftovers from dinner (we just make larger portions of everything to last us a few days), but today, we didn't have any and I just ran out of ideas.

So it was return-to-basics-raid-the-pantry time. I decided to go simple and just cooked up some brown rice, roasted a couple of portabello mushroooms with garlic, fried up some franks, and sprinkled the rice with furikake. Furikake is a Japanese rice seasoning made of dried seaweed, sesame seeds, salt and sugar (as with almost everything these days, it of course has it's own Wikipedia entry...). The one we have also has dried salmon flakes. It's a staple for Japanese school-kids and simply the easiest way to make rice tasty. I could have a bowl of rice with just a generous sprinkling of furikake anytime- it's that yummy!

'Tis a simple lunch, but satisfying in a homely, comforting sort of way :)

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

The Evolution of Beauty

Check out this inspired new ad from Dove as part of their Campaign for Real Beauty movement.

Produced by Ogilvy & Mather, it's a biting indictment of the manufactured nature of "beauty" as conventionally perpetuated. The ad's also a sobering call to recognize that the only difference between the regular Jane Doe down on the street and that supermodel up there on the billboard is the luxury of tons of make-up, a good hairstylist, a skilled photographer, and a nifty computer program.

This has been a while coming... Thanks Dove.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Go!

As much as I enjoy running, at the end of the day, I don't kid myself by thinking that it is one of my great loves. Some people are really passionate about the sport they play- basketball, swimming, tennis, competitive channel surfing... For me ultimately, running is a means to an end, there's little pleasure involved. And while the adrenaline does give me a high for a while, it really is mostly pain, cathartic as it is.

Which is why this Ok Go video tickles me to no end. On top of being impeccably cheorographed and side-splittingly funny (there's something about four geeks in suits on a threadmill that's somehow perversely alluring to me...), I'm assailed by the cognitive schism of how someone has managed to fashion what is essentially a torture machine to me into an instrument of art. If for nothing else, these geek chic poster-boys deserve an award.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Of cows and snow


Moo cards
Originally uploaded by jyew.
Yay! My Moo cards finally arrived today! I ordered them 3 weeks ago and was almost convinced they got lost in the mail... But they're here and they're pretty :) I only chose the pictures of the wallpapers I made so they'll match my webpage and also because this way, Jude can choose from the rest of our Flickr photos when he makes his cards. The cardstock Moo uses is good and heavy so the namecards don't feel like the kind that you run off at Kinko's. They are really puny though (see relative size) and when you hold them together, they almost feel like the cards you use to play chap jee kee*.

On a totally different note, MY BEST FRIEND ARRVIES TOMORROW!!! She'll be visiting for the weekend on her way to Minneapolis for corporate training. I've missed her so much and it'll be so nice to see her again. But...

It's going to SNOW here for the next two days.

Remind me again what month it is? And I bet it's not even going to be pretty snow, but probably eeky, slushly, wet and gross snow... :( Whatever... she & I figured we can always just stay indoors, have hot chocolate with marshmallows, and watch Meg Ryan movies all weekend long. Jude can join us too... ;)

*A gambling game popular among Straits-born Chinese played by four players using narrow cards based on the 12 pieces in Chinese chess.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Weird Science

We were disappointed. And not just because we had psyched ourselves up too much for it. You think- a Michel Gondry film with Gael Garcia Bernal. What could go wrong? Quite a bit apparently.

What made Eternal Sunshine one of our favorite movies is that despite its lovely impish charm, at its core, it has a soul- a poignant, and oftentimes devastating narrative. It's about a love so hardwired into your very being that even modern science can't reach it. You may be able to erase memories, but you can't erase destiny. Science of Sleep on the other, in Jude's words, is a victim of its own cutesiness. Without the origami mind of Charlie Kaufmann, Michel Gondry's writing and directing exude more whimsy than anything else. It's charming for sure, and the whole stop-motion animation and papier-mâché props are delightful for their childlikeness; but at the end of the day, that's about all there is. I guess I understand his whole the unconscious as governed by its own perverse logic and the blurring of dream and reality spiel, but like Stephane's one-second time machine, the film is interesting for that moment, but then nothing much more.

It wasn't without its redeeming moments though: the scenes of Stephane directing his own dream sequences as if it were a TV show were definitely TiVo-worthy; I love Charlotte Gainsborough's crisp French/ British accent and slightly kooky disposition; how can you not be enamoured by water made from cellophane and a felt-cloth Noah's Ark of handmade trees?; and like Eternal Sunshine, what's a Michel Gondry film without a sweet soundtrack? This track is particularly enchanting, resonating the dream-like whimsy that is so much of the movie.

So ultimately, watching Science of Sleep was a lot like eating cotton candy- it conjured sweet memories of a childhood suspended, with moments of laughter and delight- nothing particularly sad or upsetting; but in the same measure, because of that, like cotton candy, it was also neither very substantial, nor terribly satisfying.

Friday, October 06, 2006

WTF, what's with the white rabbit on the blue bus?



As I got on the UM Blue Bus bound for central campus this morning, I noticed that one of the passengers in front of me had a larger than usual head. In fact, as I observed him/her/it more carefully, this passenger appeared to be a larger than life ... a RABBIT. WTF man!

Thursday, October 05, 2006

A Tale of Two Cities

Ok, so my Lost counter has counted down its last second, I've watched the season premiere, and I must say, this girl is one happy camper! :) From the jaw-dropping, "OMG!-are-you-messing-with-me?" opening 5 minutes, to one of the creepiest breakfasts ever shown on TV, to the heart-meltingly sweet Kate and Sawyer reunion, I was riveted. Transfixed. Awe-struck.

Without spoiling it too much for those of you who haven't watched it yet (I think Season 3 isn't going to start in Singapore till later this year, if not next), let's just say this season opener is way better than the first episode of Season 2. Less claustrophobic, more expansive. And I'm not just talking geography. It's about obsession, pride, civility, and... nourishment. You'll know what I mean. My only disappointment is that we didn't get to see the rest of the Losties like Locke and my new favorite character, Desmond (whose middle and last names are David and Hume. You put two and two together...) Love that Scott'ish burr, brudah!

Guess who's going to watch it again tomorrow when ABC.com loads a repeat up on the website?
Most of the time, we live our lives within invisible systems, blissfully unaware of the artificial life, the intensely designed infrastructures that support them. Accidents, disasters, crises — [when] systems fail we become temporarily conscious of the extraordinary force and power of design, and the effects that it generates. Every accident provides a brief moment of awareness of real life, what is actually happening, and our dependence on the underlying systems of design. Every plane crash is a rupture, a shock to the system, precisely because our experience of flight is so carefully designed away from the reality of the event. As we sip champagne, read the morning paper, and settle in before takeoff, we choose not to experience the torque, the thrust, the speed, the altitude, the temperature, the thousands of pounds of explosive jet fuels cradled beneath us, the infinite complexity of onboard systems, and the very real risks and dangers of takeoff and landing.
-Bruce Mau, Massive Change

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Thriller redux Indian style



Found this via MrBrown.com. I concur with him, this is wrong on so many levels :O

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Countdown

Just one more day people. By 9pm tonight, it'll all be a matter of hours...

Jude teaches till 8.30 tomorrow night and I'll be d@%*ed if we don't make it back by 9pm. Apparently the first 5 minutes will take your breath away (or so say the message boards and the people who've watched the premiere in Hawaii over the weekend).

As emotionally compelled as I am by the relationships on the show (ok fine, one relationship in particular...) that one hour every week isn't easy on the mind either. We're talking myths galore, literary connections, philosophical underpinnings and pop culture references. If you want to do some homework on what's been invoked so far (and I'm sure will continue to be in the new season), you only have slightly more than 30 hours to wrap your head around:
Don DeLillo's Underworld. Alan Moore's The Watchmen. Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet and The Tempest. The Book of Revelations. John Locke. David Hume. The Greek word thipsis. John Mayer's ''Waiting for the World to Change". Creed's "My Own Prison". The lost continent of Mu. All things H.G. Wells. Pink Floyd. George Orwell. P.S. Shelley's "Ozymandias". The defunct performance art/electronica band The KLF. Charles Dickens. The word oulipo.

To psych you up for tomorrow, here's a video of all the promos that've been aired to date:

Be still my beating heart, be still...

Monday, October 02, 2006

Hello Kyra!


I'm an aunt (again)!

My cousin, Brigid, had her first baby, Kyra last week and here she is in all her delicate bundled sweetness.

Congratulations cuz, and I hope you and Leonard get some sleep!
A baby is God's opinion that the world should go on.
-Carl Sandburg

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Fixed!

I swear, you can learn to do anything via the internet. If I ever decide one day that I'm going to build my own hairdryer, I'm sure I'll be able to find out how to online. So anyways, after a couple of disgruntled comments from IE users that my webpage was clearly discriminatory of their browser choice (oh puhlease...) as well as a really sweet long-distance call from my dad just to ask me if there was something wrong with my site coz he couldn't see it properly, I decided to apply myself more actively to solving the whole IE problem. Ok people, in the past two days, not only have I gained a whole new vocabulary- hack, quirk, workaround, element- all of which have a totally different meaning from what I'm used to, I've also felt more ignorant and clueless than I've ever felt before. I mean, I'm fairly intelligent, right?... But really, trying to understand these online discussions about scripts and codes was like trying to engage in a conversation about quantum physics in a foreign language... So anyway, to make a long story short, in the end, Serene Koh- the English major with no technical computer background whatsoever- has managed to solve the IE bug problem of her website all by herself. Here's how it looked like on IE before the workaround:


Here's how it looks like now:


I'm actually rather proud of myself :) For those of you who are interested, here is where I finally found the solution I needed (this is after having to suffer through many incomprehensible websites). I had to then tweak the code some more, and after much painstaking experimentation, finally got it right.

I am woman, hear me roar...