Saturday, September 30, 2006
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...
Thursday, September 28, 2006
I got a little present from Serene in the form of the image above. She knows that I have long harbored ambitions of musical granduer and of fronting my own band. I thought that it would nice to let the dear readers of this here blog in on some of those ambitions ;)
The band would be called Unchained Malady. And we would be playing ironic, out-of-tune cover versions of Adult Oriented Sentimental Rock Songs. We may be the first to do this. In fact, we could be the first in a brand new GENRE!!! (*nudge* *nudge* 504 people) Think along the lines of Cake's debilitating and uninspiring version of I Will Survive (unlike Gloria Gaynor's version) or Ronan Keating's When You Say Nothing At All (a.k.a. "The Please Shut Up" song...) and you get the picture. The distinction between Unchained Malady and Cake is that we only do ironic love songs. I can just see it now- it's playing like a movie in my head... Serene doesn't know what she's started ...
Tuesday, September 26, 2006
Today, I've become drawn to the design aspect of the Web- something Jude and I share. I really do appreciate well-designed webpages and admire the effort that goes into conceptualizing both the aethetics as well as the usability behind them. And after this weekend, I must say that I have new-found respect for all you web-designers out there. It's such mind-numbing, tedious work- just one little error can profoundly mess up the whole structure of the page. Such a pain, but in the end, also very gratifying...
The site is about as good as I can get it with what little HTML skills I have (anything's better than my Google Pages one which really looks like a glorified Powerpoint presentation). It's nothing fancy- I just used the wallpapers I made a couple of months ago as the anchor design and revolved different color paletttes for each page. A huge thanks to everyone who commented on which wallpapers they liked, but in the end I made a few more that just had a single color so it wouldn't be too distracting. It's meant to be my professional website so it's no where near as fun to read as the blog (well, we try to make the blog fun to read...).
One huge problem I have though is that because it's CSS script (she talks like she knows what she's saying...), it doesn't show up well with IE6. A third of the main text gets chopped off. It looks fine on Firefox , Safari, even Linux, and I haven't even checked Netscape (do people even use Netscape anymore???). Jude and I wonder how many people still use IE, and according to Chrispy, it's substantial enough. What's wrong with you people? Wake up and smell the tabbed browsing! Anyways, if anyone has suggestion on what I can do to the code to make it show properly on IE, I would be most grateful. Until then, it's actually a little comforting knowing that only a small(er) group of people can view the site in its multi-colored entirety. I'm still a little nervous about putting so much of myself out there...
So anyways, ladies and gentlemen, my second (and hopefully, final) attempt at a professional webpage:
(I'm going to change the link from my avatar in the blog sidebar so it'll link to the new site from now on.)
Sunday, September 24, 2006
We just needed to tell ourselves that we at least attempted to bring the grill out for one last hurrah before retiring it for the year. So we had some our friends over for grilled short-ribs (Korean kal-bi), teriyaki chicken, veggie skewers and hotdogs. It was like playing catch-and-mouse initially- we'd take everything outside only to have it start drizzling, and so we'd move the stuff back in. I even started grilling the veggies in the oven coz I didn't want a house full of food (we had 12 lbs of beef ribs people...) but nothing to eat. Eventually the weather held up and we managed to hang out and cook outside for a bit before it started to really pour. There was more than enough food to go around and right now, we still have at least 4 lbs of beef, 2 huge bowls of salad, grilled veggies, hotdogs (and buns), and beer in our fridge. Guess what's for dinner for the next week?...
Frankly though, now that our little demonstration of defiance against the gods of the seasons is over, I have to admit that I am looking forward to the Fall. As the rain beats down against our windows and my feet just that slightly tingly from the chill, I anticipate many more such nights when I'll make myself a mug of hot chocolate or milky tea and curl up in bed with a book or the laptop. It'll be nice- we've been through it before and we survived... :)
Happy first day of Fall everyone!
The morns are meeker than they were,
The nuts are getting brown;
The berry's cheek is plumper,
The rose is out of town.
The maple wears a gayer scarf,
The field a scarlet gown.
Lest I should be old-fashioned,
I'll put a trinket on.
- Emily Dickinson, Nature 27- Autumn
Thursday, September 21, 2006
Jude and I've decided to work on our webpages this weekend so we have something legitimate to show for at the back of the namecards. Once those are done, we're definitely going to order a set each for ourselves. They're going to be so preeeety!! :)
Tuesday, September 19, 2006
Arthur Levine, former president of Columbia's Teachers College, pulls no punches in his as yet unreleased report on the state of teacher education in the US (full report here, executive summary here). In a nutshell, Levine tears ed schools to shreds by going through the various problems of the institution, starting with the hodge-podge of state requirements, the uncoordinated responses of ed schools to these requirements, and the failure of the liberal arts model for schools which should be more professional in nature. He puts some of the blame for this mess on the lack of good leadership, namely ed school deans who he feels not only lack vision and direction, but have also too often sacrificed rigorous teacher preparation at the altar of academic research. BUT (and you knew this was coming...), the only dean who was not only spared his scathing criticism but also given a glowing tribute, was my Dean. Here's what he says about her:
In the course of this study, Deborah Ball, the dean of the University of Michigan’s School of Education, offered the most lucid and compelling explanation of what a teacher education curriculum should be. Her conception might be described as an enriched or advanced major: that is, a traditional subject matter major in an area such as history, music, or chemistry, combined with additional specialization in how to effectively communicate that subject matter or more specifically how to enable students to learn it. The future teacher would graduate knowing what to teach and how to teach it... The logic and clarity of Ball’s description are uncommon and refreshing. They stand in marked contrast to the teacher education curriculum nationally, which reflects the historic confusion of the field with regard to purpose. In our conversations, teacher education faculty were generally more concerned with the mechanics of the curriculum than with its intended goals.
I think my dean is doing a great job. She's not only an accomplished academic but also a wonderful person to boot. And at her core, she is an educator. In every sense of that word. Last year when I was teaching a class to pre-service teachers, the program had a crisis where there was a sudden surge in enrolment and there weren't enough instructors for the course. All the other sections were full and no one could take any more students. What was my dean's solution? She stepped forward and took on that extra class. Mind you, she was on sabbatical that semester but she used it to "return to the action" as she called it. For her, a sabbatical is supposed to be a time for faculty to try something new, work on their own research, and basically step back from the normal humdrum of academic work and explore. And she felt that going back into the classroom to teach undergrads was the perfect way to fulfil these goals. I was immeasurably impressed- not many full professors (and a named chair at that) would 1) give up their sabbaticals to teach undergrads; 2) spend weekly Wednesdays with grad students talking about teaching these undergrads; and 3) do 1) and 2) with as much as enthusiasm as a new teacher on the first day of school.
When I grow up, I want to be just like my dean.
Monday, September 18, 2006
I would like to say that my interest in this movie is purely academic, but alas I cannot. Oft a subject shunned by many, the etiquette of behavior in a men's restroom is an unspoken social norm that even I adhere to. For instance, one sacrosanct rule at the urinal would be not to look over at your neighbor. This unspoken compact is adhered to in restrooms all over the world, and as this video would suggest, non-compliance will lead to general anarchy and a profound tear in the very fabric of civilization.
Now to explain my academic interest in this clip. This video represents a nice example of the emergent art of Machinima. The hacking of video games to transform them into movies is surely an unintended use for the games. This activity however, has gained somewhat of a following. Heck, there's even a Machinima film festival being hosting by the Museum of the Moving Image in NY. I think that the art of Machinima offers artists and filmmakers interesting possibilities, in terms of conveying their vision and message. Think about it, I am not sure how you would produce the above video with real people, without them breaking in laughter in front of the camera. I am not much of a gamer (I am still trying to justify the purchase of a Nintendo DS lite in my mind), but I think that there's a secret thrill in seeing one's favorite games being used in ways that the developers did not originally intend. Also, given the ubiquity of electronic games now, I also think that Machinima offers filmmakers new audiences if there is something that goes beyond merely teen humor. Martin Scorsese once said that the future of cinema lies in the hands of a 12 year old with a handycam in her hands. I think that his prophecy of what is to come should be amended to, the future of cinema lies in the pale, pimply teenage boy with the game control in his hands.
Favorite season: fall
Favorite color: green, orange or lavender, depending on my mood and the context
Favorite time: when I read in bed just before I fall asleep
Favorite food: sushi
Favorite drink: duh… coffee. Preferably Illy's
Favorite ice cream: mango ice-cream from Stucci’s
Favorite place: southern tip of Western Australia, from Margaret River to Augusta.
Favorite sport: to watch: platform diving or competitive figure skating; to participate: does running count as a sport?
Favorite actor: haha, where do I start? Are we talking TV (Denis Leary), film (Ed Harris) or international (Tony Leung)?
Favorite actress: because they're both luminously beautiful and crazy talented: Nicole Kidman and Kate Winslet
Current feeling: physically: full from brunch; mentally: happy and relaxed, ready for the new week
Current drink: black coffee from the espresso machine at SI North
Current time: 12:48pm EST
Current show on TV: we're not at home right now
Current mobile used: Nokia
Current windows open: iTunes, Word, Firefox, Mail
Current Song: Wuthering Heights, Kate Bush
Current clothes: white tank top, capris, Lacoste sneakers
Current thought: that this meme is not easy…
First nickname: Sero (from my friends in secondary school)
First kiss: on the cheek
First crush: Ke Huy Quan from Indiana Jones/ Goonies
First best friend: Joy (primary school)
First vehicle I drove: my dad’s Mitsubishi Galant
First job: filling in COE (Certificate of Entitlement) forms at my mum's office when I was 16.
First date: at Delifrance in Wisma Atria, and a definite mistake.
First pet: I’ve never had a pet (not a real one at least)
Last drink: yoghurt smoothie
Last kiss: when I woke up this morning
Last meal: vegetarian hash (made with red potatoes, sweet potato hash, piquillo peppers sauteed spinach and fried shallots) with a side of buttered onion rye toast, at Zingerman's
Last website visited: Pandora
Last movie watched: The Illusionist
Last phone call: Jude calling me last night to tell me he was picking me up from the Ann Arbor Brewing Company
Last TV Show watched: Iron Chef America
6 Have you evers
Have you ever broken the law: not consciously, no…
Have you ever been drunk: yes, from a Smirnoff cooler
Have you ever kissed someone you didn't know: nope
Have you ever been close to gun fire: nope
Have you ever skinny dipped: nope
Have you ever broken anyone’s heart: I guess, yes...
5 things you can hear right now: I have my earphones on so all I’m hearing is Tori Amos.
5 things on your bed: there are only 3 things on the bed: a comforter and two pillows
5 things you ate today:
i. yogurt smoothie
ii. vegetarian hash
5 things you can't live without:
i. my husband
ii. my family
iii. my friends
iv. a computer with internet connection
5 things you do when you get bored:
i. finish reading the half-read books/ magazines we always seem to have lying all over the house
ii. go for a run
iii. look for interesting recipes to experiment with
iv. organize my iTunes music
v. watch whatever's on Bravo or the Food Network
4 Places you have been today: too early in the day to have been to so many places:
iii. SI North
3 Things on your desk right now:
i. water bottle
iii. Virtual PC software
Black or White: depends on what we’re talking about- coffee: black; clothes: white
Hot or Cold: again, it depends- coffee: hot; weather: cold
1 Place you want to visit:
Just one? Italy, or Ireland
Saturday, September 16, 2006
From what I've read so far, this book covers a wide spectrum of curries, not just Southeast-Asian, but also those from Africa, India, and the West Indies. And one of the things I appreciate most about it is that it's structured almost as a cultural narrative of sorts. She traces the ways in which Indian spices and recipes travelled with Indian migrants, shares the sentiments she associates with certain recipes, and peppers the book with little anecdotes about the provenance of certain dishes, one of which I hold especially dear to because it's about Fish Head Curry from Singapore, Mutthu's in Little India to be exact :) In her words, "Diners tucked in as if there were no tomorrow." I'm getting wistful just thinking about it...
She even dedicates a small section of the book to talking about the Raffles Hotel in Singapore and how the Tiffin Room there has been- and still is- reknown for its curries and chutneys. Rudyard Kipling and Somerset Maugham are just two eminent guests who've stayed at the Raffles and Kipling is said to have coined the phrase, "Feed at the Raffles when visiting Singapore."
Most Singaporeans visit infinitely more humble establishments for their frequent curry fixes, which itself tells you something about the centrality of curries to Singaporean life- regardless of income and social stature, when it comes to curry- in a pot of steaming fish head curry, with simple prata, or in delicate portions served on white linen and fine china- all Singaporeans respond the same way, with gusto and relish, as if there were no tomorrow.
Thanks Rick & Emilee!
This curry was like a performance of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony that I'd once heard.....especially the last movement, with everything screaming and banging 'Joy.' It stunned, it made one fear great art. My father could say nothing after the meal."
Thursday, September 14, 2006
So Audrey comes over a couple of nights ago determined to show Jude & I her new outfit for school (she started kindergarten last week). It was cute- a leopard-print skirt with leggings and a denim jacket- definitely a walking Gap ad. Anyways, somehow, between her tellling me about her new teacher, Miss Connor and me carrying (yes, carrying) her home, she managed to convince me that I needed to bake her some cupcakes. I don't know how it happened, I don't know what magical powers of persuasion she conjured- it's all a blur.
All I know is when I brought these lemon cupcakes over just now (topped with melted chocolate because one can never give a five-year old enough sugar right?...), the look on her face was so precious that it made all the effort worth it. They ain't no heavenly cupcakes from Magnolia Bakery in New York (famous already even before the publicity from Sex in the City and that Saturday Night Live skit on the Chronicles of Narnia), but for the little girl next door, they were good enough :)
Sunday, September 10, 2006
As always, retro is the new chic!
Saturday, September 09, 2006
But the highlight of the past two days is that the dress I ordered for my best friend's wedding has arrived! And it's lovely! (the picture does not do it any justice...) Thanks to everyone who shared their thoughts and advice on my initial choice of the brown polka-dotted dress :) But I tried it on at the store and it just didn't look right. I guess you really have to look like Julia Roberts to pull a dress like that off. Besides, on retrospect, the color isn't particularly festive I suppose. So this is what arrived at our doorstep yesterday:
The catalogue says it's a keylime green, but in reality, it looks more pistachio than anything else. The color theme of the wedding is cream and green so the dress will fit right in. More importantly, the cut is really flattering, which basically just means it gives me curves where I need, and hides the bad ones that I have... I'll have to work on my abs a little from now till December but I've been planning to do that anyway. *Sigh*, in a perfect world, I'll have the arms of Evangeline Lilly from Lost (or Carrie-Ann Moss's in The Matrix) and Gwen Stefani's abs...
And shoes! I think I'm going to go with a pair of peep-toes after some wise fashion advice from the bride-to-be. And unless I want to be wobbling all the way down the aisle, they'll also definitely be better for my flat feet than too-delicate strappy heels. I have my eyes and heart set on these sweet semi-retro peep-toes, but believe it or not, they actually cost more than the dress!! Sam thinks they're a little much, but I love the bow! The color takes a little getting used to but it does grow on you. *And she talks like she can actually afford the shoe...*
I think I'll shop for the shoe when my best friend visits next month; will keep you all posted of course- I mean, why else do we keep a blog except to foist all the mindless shenanigans of our life onto our unsuspecting friends who love us too much to complain??...
Have a great weekend everyone!
Friday, September 08, 2006
Happy anniversary dad and mum!! :)
Happy marriages begin when we marry the ones we love, and they blossom when we love the ones we marry.
- Tom Mullen
Tuesday, September 05, 2006
I think I've been drinking too much coffee and working too many late nights on my internship. Thankfully this semester will be relatively light so I'll hopefully be able to recover soon without some insane schedule hitting me straight between the eyes right away. Jude starts teaching today and I think I'm about as excited for him as he is about the whole thing. It's going to be hard work of course, but I know he'll do a great job :)
So something that's been helping me get through these past days- Pink Martini and their Hang on Little Tomato (link to streaming audio). Their sound is an eclectic mix of samba, classical, jazz and even trip hop, but this track in particular is a lovely gem. Sweet, whimsical, and so full of hope. So to all of you for whom the next three & a half months are just going to be one fantastic circus of pedagogical acrobatics, academic pins to juggle, and rings of teaching fire to jump through, just keep hanging on! Like a little tomato...
Hang on Little Tomato
The sun has left and forgotten me
It’s dark, I cannot see
Why does this rain pour down
I’m gonna drown
In a sea
Of deep confusion
Somebody told me, I don’t know who
Whenever you are sad and blue
And you’re feelin’ all alone and left behind
Just take a look inside and you will find
You gotta hold on, hold on through the night
Hang on, things will be all right
Even when it’s dark
And not a bit of sparkling
Sing-song sunshine from above
Spreading rays of sunny love
Just hang on, hang on to the vine
Stay on, soon you’ll be divine
If you start to cry, look up to the sky
Something’s coming up ahead
To turn your tears to dew instead
And so I hold on to this advice
When change is hard and not so nice
If you listen to your heart the whole night through
Your sunny someday will come one day soon to you
- Pink Martini
Monday, September 04, 2006
Sunday, September 03, 2006
Anyways, I found a great recipe that makes light crisp waffles. That's how I like my waffles- I don't like ones that are too dense and cake-like. Waffles are a breakfast food and they shouldn't sit too heavy, and they must be crispy. If they're going to be soggy, have a pancake instead. The key to the lightness of this recipe is separating the egg and beating the white on its own. The things is, I don't bake enough to justify buying any baking appliances, least of all a hand-mixer (do an egg-beater and a spatula count?), and so it was my arm muscles to the rescue. I saw Jamie Oliver do this on his show once and it didn't look too hard. And really, it wasn't- about 4 to 5 minutes of sustained whisking to get the soft peaks that the recipe required. I always knew doing those free weights were more than just about having trim arms... :)
In the end, the batter turned out really well- it's a little thinner than what I had expected, but apparently, that's what makes the waffles crispy. Ther finished product turned out just the way I like them- crispy and crunchy on the outside, light and fluffy inside. Next time though, I'll leave them in the waffle iron a little longer so they'll turn a nuttier brown, and use the buttermilk specified in the recipe (we only had regular milk).
We ate the waffles with butter and the maple jelly we got from Montreal- deleeecious! There's just something very satisfying about making something you love on your own, plus there's now that faint aroma of vanilla and toasted sugar lingering in our house :) And it wasn't even difficult at all to do. Try it- you'll never have another Aunt Jemima frozen waffle again!
Thanks again Olivier for your waffle iron!
The Perfect Waffles
* 3-1/2 oz. (3/4 cup) bleached all-purpose flour
* 1 oz. (1/4 cup) cornstarch
* 1/2 tsp. salt
* 1/2 tsp. baking powder
* 1/4 tsp. baking soda
* 3/4 cup buttermilk
* 1/4 cup milk
* 6 Tbs. vegetable oil
* 1 large egg, separated
* 1 Tbs. sugar
* 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
Heat the oven to 200°F and heat the waffle iron. Mix the flour, cornstarch, salt, baking powder, and baking soda in a medium bowl. Measure the buttermilk, milk, and vegetable oil in a Pyrex measuring cup; mix in the egg yolk and set aside.
In another bowl, beat the egg white almost to soft peaks. Sprinkle in the sugar and continue to beat until the peaks are firm and glossy. Beat in the vanilla.
Pour the buttermilk mixture into the dry ingredients and whisk until just mixed. Drop the whipped egg white onto the batter in dollops and fold in with a spatula until just incorporated.
Pour the batter onto the hot waffle iron (mine takes about 2/3 cup) and cook until the waffle is crisp and nutty brown (follow the manufacturer's instructions for timing at first and then adjust to your liking). Set the waffle directly on the oven rack to keep it warm and crisp. Repeat with the remaining batter, holding the waffles in the oven (don't stack them). When all the waffles are cooked, serve immediately.
Saturday, September 02, 2006
I know that I've gone on
This clip comes from the Talking Cock in Parliament event, which is an evening where local celebrities come onstage in the old Parliament chambers (which has been transformed into a performing arts venue) to deliver speeches in the style of how our government does its business. It's a rather daring venture and is perhaps another sign of the increasing liberalness of the country.
In this clip, Ruby Pan, a trainee teacher, takes on the various forms of English spoken in Singapore in voices that all too familiar - the American accented radio DJ, the crisply enunciated, British-sounding newscaster, a local teenager speaking in the vernacular, and a Filipino migrant worker. She's actually very good and drew the most laughs at the event.
We haven't decide yet if this clip makes us homesick or not... :)