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Thursday, May 31, 2007

It's important to rescue the frog

Except for math exams when I was in secondary school, I've never been terrified of charts. Until today. Watching that red line go up the axis, I literally felt my heart in my throat and something akin to shortness of breath...

We just saw An Inconvenient Truth, and I have to say, it was both uncomfortable and devastating to watch. Al Gore relates rising CO2 emissions to a whole host of environmental crisises- from the splitting of the ice shelves in Antarctica to the bleaching of coral reefs. I've never considered myself an environmentalist, but after watching the video, I'm actually rethinking installing the air-con for the summer and whether we should be driving to the grocery store instead of walking or biking.

Some people have criticized the movie and Al Gore's entire endeavor separately as 1) a vanity project, 2) a launching pad for a shadow campaign for the 2008 Presidency, and/ or 3) an attempt to stir up mass hysteria. Some have even incomprehensibly compared him to Hitler (????) Ermmm... excuse me, whatever the grounds for comparison, Hitler wanted his followers to massacre an entire race of people; Al Gore wants us to... save our planet.

Politics aside, watching the movie- or his presentation more accurately speaking- makes you realize that conserving the environment has truly become a moral and ethical imperative for our generation. And it doesn't have to be hard. I'm not expecting to jump on a Greenpeace ship to protest against deep-sea drilling, but I might bring my own bag to the grocery store the next time I go. Or read my notes online instead of printing them out. And start buying energy-efficient bulbs. Choose your way.

Because it's important to rescue the frog.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

"Ah, Sliced Bread, a wonderful Lady MacBeth...."

Because nothing interesting is happening in our lives right now, and because everyone always needs to remind themselves once in a while of those defining pop culture icons of their lives, here's one of those random "I have nothing to post on my blog and this looks like something vaguely cool I could use as a placeholder until something exciting happens in my live to blog about" quizzes...

Friends was a big deal for me in college- if I count re-runs and episodes I still catch once in a while on TBS or whatever, I think I've seen almost every episode of its ten seasons. I so badly wanted Monica's short bob (yes, Monica's, not Rachel's), I dreamed of the day when I would have an apartment with mismatched chairs and a purple door, I cried when Monica tried to propose to Chandler, and till today, I've been waiting for someone to acknowledge that Chandler Bing is one of the best conceived characters on sitcom in recent years... And yes, I too stayed home in 2004 just to watch the lacklustre series finale. So there were dud episodes; but when they were great, they were the best. Anyone remember "The One With The Embryos"? And they were there for me every Monday until a certain vampire slayer karate-d her way into my fluttering TV heart. But even then, I could always count on Friends to Central Perk me up when adolescent vampire slayer angst got a little too intense...

Anyways, the quiz...

Take this test at Tickle

Which "Friend" Are You? Brought to you by Tickle

You've got a little bit of Rachel going on! She's everybody's sweetheart, despite some (mostly) endearing quirks. And it looks like you too, have a little Rachel Green inside you. (If you're lucky, you might share her good looks too).Some may see you as a little spoiled, or at times naive. But overall you're a total doll. Like the real Rachel, you make your way in the world, figuring it out as you go. Sometimes your story-book ideals of how things should turn out keep you from taking life as it comes, but that lovable vulnerability just makes people feel closer to you. You have true compassion, an idiosyncratic side your friends delight in—and, of course, great taste. Reminder, o charming one: People love it when you call them "hun."
Rachel: No Way! The most romantic song ever was The Way We Were.
: I think the most romantic song is the one that Elton John wrote for that guy from "Who's the Boss?"
Monica: Which one was that?
Phoebe: You know, uh, "Hold me closer, Tony Danza...”.
- from "The One With The Princess Leia Fantasy"

Tune of the week: Battles - Atlas

Have to admit that this track has been going through my head several times a day even without the ipod on ... Battles is a sort of supergroup made up of Ian Williams (Don Caballero), John Stanier (Helmet, Tomahawk), Dave Konopka (Lynx) and Tyondai Braxton (Prefuse 73). The video production, like the track, is tight. Besides the guys in the band look like they're having so much fun just playing. I am really looking forward to watching them live.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

No, not the prince...

Whoever wrote about April showers in spring clearly did not live in Michigan... We were still snowing in April, and only now as May comes to an end are the proverbial "April showers" upon us... Go figure.

But I'm not complaining- the Sweet William buds that Tia & Audrey left us when they moved are finally in full bloom. They're really very pretty- a delightful riot of whites, pale pinks, fuchsias and deep reds. They're fairly common flowers and not your most photogenic, but they remind me of Audrey and that makes me happy... :)

Friday, May 25, 2007

R.I.P Charlie Pace

[Image from Fishbiscuitland]

For just how much Lost has heaved itself back into the good graces of the media with last night's finale, here's one of the more poignant observations about Charlie's sacrifice:
The image of him pushing away from the window and crossing himself is as close as we get to visual poetry in the chat-driven medium of TV, and it got to me. Rest in peace, Charlie Pace. You earned it.
-Jeff Jensen, Entertainment Weekly

See here for the full article and here for an extremely intelligent and lovely (read: Kleenex-worthy) look-back on the life of Charlie Pace...

Thursday, May 24, 2007

I'm Lost...

[I'm spoiler-tagging some bits in case people don't want to be magnificently disappointed or vindicated, depending on how you feel about the series...]

What ever am I going to do with myself now for the next 9 months worth of Wednesday nights??? No more meticulously planning my schedule around that one hour, no more time mindlessly squandered on message boards reading up on the latest conspiracy theories, no more pulling my hair out every time the writers make a stupid mistake like allow Jack to spew his fire and brimstone at everyone when we all know Sayid should be the real leader; and no more 60 minutes of ignoring my husband every week.

It's been a mixed Season 3 for Lost- the high points were some of the best-written episodes of the entire series (3x16: "One of Us" and 3x21: "Greatest Hits") but the low points were absolutely abysmal (3x9: "Stranger in a Strange Land; 3x10: "Tricia Tanaka is Dead" for starters...) Thankfully, tonight's episode- I thought- really helped redeem the series from the flak it's been getting for the past year or so. It reminded me a little of the downright spectacular finale of Season 1 and it was as if a tiny bit of that Lost magic was trickling back again.

It was so good that I will concede that Matthew Fox actually did a fairly decent job tonight. I usually detest the self-righteous pompous ass that his character is, but I have to say that he self-destructs pretty well. He definitely does a better job of trying to save his own losing sanity and psyche than he does with other people's lives.

And I can't believe they really killed Charlie!! *sob* *sniff* After last week's poignant episode, his Top 5 Greatest Moments of My Life love-letter to Claire, and surviving the Abyss-like dive underwater, I'd thought the little hobbit's life might actually be spared. But no, The Powers That Be have a higher calling for our VH1 has-been. I cried and I cried and I cried when he held his palm up to Desmond (who's fast becoming my second-favorite character on the show). And I didn't even like Charlie that much until last week. It's that darn music I tell you! R.I.P Charlie Pace...

And yay Hurley and the VW van!! I always knew he was more than just a peanut-butter-hoarding, jinx-attracting, fried-chicken fan...

I'm not sure where they're going to go with the series from now though. *sigh*... so many questions... Are we going to start getting flash-forwards instead of flashbacks? Is that future unalterable or can someone apart from Desmond finagle some mumbo-jumbo with the space-time continuum? Where can I go to get some information on whose *&%$#@! funeral that was? How does the Dharma Initiative get an unlimited supply of waterproof Sharpie pens? And most importantly, do I have to get stranded on a Hawaiian island for 80 days before I too can receive a Golden Pass that allows me flights to Singapore every weekend??? ;)

See here for Srah's awesome blow-by-blow "live" post of the finale.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

"Sunny day, sweepin' the clouds away..."

Many people still don't believe that a large part of the work I do on my research project is to watch Sesame Street clips. Honestly though, it's not always as cute and fluffy as it sounds. There's only so much of a little red self-referential, third-person speaking muppet one should be allowed to tolerate in a day, and watching 20 years worth of Who Are the People in Your Neighborhood gets just that tad asphyxiating after about 10 hours.

There are moments of course, when I'm watching these things, and one or two of them just jump out at you, and you go, "Ok, for this, the past 4 hours of Elmo's World was worth it..." These are usually the ones that either remind me of when I was a kid, or the ones that have something entertaining for the child, but also a sly side joke for the adults watching with them (invariably featuring some celebrity guest). And that was one of the founding principles behind Sesame Street- that it would be a program that encourages low-income families to watch together. Here's are just some of my favorites:

One of my all-time favorite celebrity appearances on Sesame Street: R.E.M. doing "Furry Happy Monsters". It even has a muppet version of Kate Pierson from the B-52s doing back-up vocals for those adults craving that element of authenticity. We're using this clip to teach children about Emotions:

The letter "Y" is always a difficult one to teach children because they sometimes confuse the sound with "E". But why worry when you have chanteuse, Norah Jones to help? (the video's a little wonky in the beginning...)

This one got my entire research group roaring in laughter when we saw it. Patrick Stewart doing the "To be or not to be" soliloquy from Hamlet, but about the letter "B" instead. I'm not sure how accessible this is for kids though- I think this one definitely tickles the parents more:

Ok, I have to confess, I've watched this next clip at least 20 times. Every time someone new joins our group, we make them watch it as an initiation rite of sorts. If they choke up at it too, they're ready to join the project. Until today, NO ONE who's watched this has not liked it (except maybe Jude coz he's heard me- and all my friends- talk about it to death). For you parents out there, this is a really good one to show kids just before they go to bed- I promise :)

Sunday, May 20, 2007

ghetto of our mind inagural Blog Challenge

Ok, so let's see... Since last weekend, I've indulged in a total of four unabashedly heart-on-my-sleeve romantic comedies- Love Actually, Notting Hill (back-to-back, and with Jude no less- see how much my husband loves me?... ;), While You Were Sleeping, and Serendipity. Serendipity was about as predictable, improbable and formulaic as they come, redeemed only by the magnificent John Cusack and Jeremy Piven (who are the real couple of the movie if you ask me). And by the song chosen for the cheesy final reunion scene (the song starts two minutes into the clip). As anyone who reads this blog knows (or anyone who notices our blog banner at least...), that song always gets me. Always... :)

Which brings me to the inaugural ghetto of our mind Blog Challenge: Top 5 Greatest Must-have Indispensable Mixed-tape Staple Love Songs. Songs to set the mood, songs to win that heart, songs about breaking up, songs about making up... These are the songs you would either put on a mixed-tape you were making or would like to listen to on a mixed-tape made for you. To put it another way, what would you like to play/hear blasting from a boom-box if your life were a version of Say Anything? :)

There will be no winners or losers, although credibility will be seriously compromised if anything by Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston, or Celine Dion makes anyone's list...

Here we go:
1) Northern Sky- Nick Drake
2) Hallelujah- Jeff Buckley
3) Sparks- Coldplay
4) All I Want Is You- U2
5) Full of Grace- Sarah McLachlan

Now, your turn... :)

Saturday, May 19, 2007

"Do you brush your teeth before you kiss?..."

You know how it feels like when the lover you'd always thought was sweet and shy suddenly surprises you with an ardent ferocity that is at once disconcerting, but also kind of exhilarating? No? Ok, neither do I. But if we did, I'd guess that it would feel a little like last night's Damien Rice concert. So this is one of my all-time favorite singer-songwriters, and I've always loved the tremulous, spare beauty of his music. But last night, there were moments when I thought I had walked into a manic-depressive's intense rock haven. And we're talking head-bangingly intense...

Jude and I had bought tickets for the concert the moment they went on sale, but the week after, he discovered that he had to go for this conference in Philly. I thought I was going to have to go alone, but I found out that Billie's a fan too so last night became a little of a girls' night out :) After an excruciatingly long hour and a half wait, our patience was rewarded with the soulful strains of "9 Crimes" as Damien Rice appeared sitting softly and simply on the piano. His voice ringing loud and clear, and intensifying in passion as the song progressed, I soon discovered a depth and robustness to him that isn't always apparent on his studio recordings. This came through on his harder tracks like "Rootless Tree" and "Coconut", and I was like, "Huh?", I thought this was a Damien Rice concert? Did we buy tickets for Radiohead?"

His best songs were the ones that came with a narrative- you see him standing there, mumbling and grasping for words in that awkward but kinda endearingly dorky way, and you want to just go over, smooth this hair over, give him a hug and tell him that everything's going to be ok. There was some story about how grass inspired him to write his only happy song ("Dogs"); something about milk, cereal, crows and breaking a hole in your neighbor's wall ("Eskimo"); and the one about his brief flirtation with a girl at a supermarket that resulted in a song that could have been pleasurable at one point, but ended up all laceratingly painful in the end ("Professor").

Then it happened. The stage got all quiet and dark, and just a single light fell on him. And I heard the opening chords... I turned to Billie and almost ripped her arm off. He was singing "Delicate". It's one of those moments when something magical is unfolding before you while everything else is just kinda suspended in some kind of freeze-frame. All I could do really was smile and kinda go *sigh*... It was beautiful.

The encore was pretty good- he did "Cannonball" as I expected, but without back-up or a mike, so all the longing, ache, and rawness, if you will, really resonated. And then there was "Unplayed Piano" for Aung Sang Suu Kyi (see video), and the absolute crowd favorite, "The Blower's Daughter". But what took the cake was when everyone left the stage and he was all alone; some random guy came up, gave him a glass of wine and lit him a cigarette. All languorous and boozy, he hammed it up for the audience with "Cheers Darlin'", and you could almost believe the persona of a debauched alcoholic... if only the cigarette didn't go out three times ;) And at that moment, you could sense that all the women in the audience were completely and utterly smitten, swooningly reduced to 11-year-olds having their first blushing schoolgirl crush, while all the men stood there wishing they could write and play their own music so that all the schoolgirls would love them instead.

He was very simply, quite awesome :)
I don't write happy songs. When I'm happy, I'm enjoying being happy.
-Damien Rice

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Fancy some coal miner noodles?...

Spaghetti alla Carbonara
Originally uploaded by jyew.
Jude's leaving for Philly tomorrow for a conference so I thought to make him something nice for dinner tonight (not that I need a reason to make my husband a yummy meal of course...) A dish I've always wanted to try but never got round to making is Spaghetti alla Carbonara. And we're not talking about runny noodles drowning in some cruel unidentifiable white sauce that you get at your regular wannabe Italian joint. This is the classic Carbonara with no cream- all velvety and luscious, with just a tinge of that saffron hue from the eggs and cheese. Purists will tell you that a good Spaghetti Carbonara has only four humble ingredients: spaghetti, pancetta, eggs and cheese.

The key to a velvety Carbonara sauce is timing. The pancetta should be crisp and ready in its drippings and the pan should be off the fire before you drain the pasta. The cheese and egg mixture goes in immediately and the heat which cooks the sauce should come from the pasta and not any heat from the stove. You don't want scrambled eggs in your noodles.

Ingredients (serves 2):
1 tbsp olive oil
3 oz thickly sliced pancetta, diced into 1/4-inch pieces
2 tablespoons salt
1/3 pound spaghetti
2 large eggs plus 1 egg yolk, well beaten
3/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1/2 cup boiling pasta water
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1. In a large pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the pancetta and cook, stirring often, until it's crisp. Set the pan aside.

2. Mix all but a handful of the cheese with the eggs.

3. Bring water to a boil. Add the salt and the spaghetti and cook until al dente. Drain, reserving the 1/2 cup of pasta water, and return the pasta while it's very hot to the pan. Immediately add the egg mixture and toss well. Add just enough of the pasta water to make the mixture creamy. Sprinkle liberally with pepper and the remaining cheese. Serve immediately.

[Recipe adapted from David Leite @ Leite's Culinara, Paula Laurita @ BellaOnline, The Kitchen Geek, and Tyler Florence.]

Traditional Spaghetti Carbonara is not as rich as people think because it does not have cream, but we did have it with a small salad just to balance the meal a little. I really have to stress that the pan must be off the heat when you stir in the egg and cheese. I think because our pan retains heat really well, the eggs would have scrambled if it had been any hotter. And this is why people tend to add cream to the recipe- it prevents the eggs from cooking so quickly. But I think any additional ingredient would have detracted from the depth of flavor that comes from the cheese and pancetta.

Because there are so few ingredients in this dish, make sure you have the good stuff- good olive oil, good pasta (I like De Cecco or Barilla), pancetta instead of bacon, freshly grated Parmesan or Pecorino cheese (not the hideous shredded plastic you get in a bag) and fresh eggs. This is a really simple dish to make, and because the ingredients aren't at all expensive or hard to find, you don't even have to wait till your husband is leaving for a conference to make it! :)

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Tune of the week: Camera Obscura responds to Lloyd Cole

Lloyd Cole and the Commotions challenged the listeners in 1984 by asking them, not unseriously, "Are You Ready to be Heartbroken?". 22 years later, Camera Obscura, also from Glasgow, responds with the track "Lloyd, I Am Ready to be Heartbroken" below ... Love the intertextuality and the conversation between 2 very different bands across time :)

"Until you've learned to drive...'ve never really learned how to swear..."- Robert Paul

My sister, Sherri passed her driving test! She's been waiting for this day for the longest time and I'm really excited for her! :) She has dreams of traipsing around Singapore in a little zippy red car, which I can't afford to get her of course, so she'll have to make do with our best wishes and this... ;)

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

How we've spent our past three Sunday nights...

We calculated. With the ads thrown in, we pretty much squandered about 12 hours over the past three Sunday nights watching the Lord of the Rings trilogy on TBS. I use the word "squandering" generously of course... As much as we love the movies, there is an element of regret and guilt (and I stress the present tense...) 12 hours spent watching Lord of the Rings is 12 hours of work not done, readings not read, and data not analyzed... And the last 30 minutes of last night's installment did almost get a little tedious- we were screaming at the TV, "Get there already!" We had initially told ourselves that we wouldn't watch The Return of the King, but we switched the TV on while we had dinner, saw Gondor falling to the Orcs, and before we knew it, it was almost 11.00 before either one of us got up from the couch. Such was the power of the ring... ;)

If I had to choose, I would say that The Two Towers is my favorite of the three. It has all the requisite ingredients of a masterful operatic epic- conflict, romance, duty, valor, sacrifice, redemption, and two ragging, cathartic battles. One could argue of course that this describes all three installments, but there's just something about the middle story that really moves me, where it's not about the journey beginning, or the task completed; it's about the struggle, the quest. Or maybe I just love the Ents...

At the end of the day, nothing beats a good story about Good vs. Evil, the righteous vs. the wicked, and my favorite part, that a hobbit and a woman can defeat the big, dark dude... Yes, it may be three movies, but it is ONE story, one powerful narrative that stirs you to believe that there is something good and pure in any world to fight for. One day... one day, we will watch all three movies back-to-back as it was filmed. Watching it three Sundays in a row was already a very different experience compared to watching it a year apart each. That or maybe I should just sit down and read the darn thing. Jude thinks it's appalling that I haven't read any of the books- I think so too...
It's like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger, they were. And sometimes you didn't want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it's only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you. That meant something, even if you were too small to understand why. But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn't. They kept going. Because they were holding on to something.
- Sam, The Two Towers

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Shirlyn's first video- Window

I had posted here about my old friend, Shirlyn's first album, Newfound Jealousy. Her show at the Esplanade was said to have been really well-received and I'm so happy for her! :) She's now released the music video for the first single, "Window" which has been getting some good buzz too...

Yay Shirlyn!

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Of Cutie and bunnies...

Thanks to my cousin, Terri for posting this Death Cab for Cutie video!

I've always loved the song (see here and here), but for some reason, have never seen the video. It's so very sad though... And it reminds me of another bittersweet story about bunnies- well, a bunny, and one that has become a defining piece of children's literature for me. It's no lofty epic or anything, and it is precisely this simplicity that makes the story so deeply profound and unbearably moving.

I will never forget the first time I read it- I was eighteen, sitting on my bed, clutching the book to my chest and virtually choking on my tears. It's so powerful and so fiercely elemental, almost frighteningly so. If you have 20 minutes today, please spend it on the Velveteen Rabbit- it will be one of the most remarkable 20 minutes of your life.

The Velveteen Rabbit, or How Toys Become Real
(full text with original illustrations)
by Margery Williams

Illustrations by William Nicholson

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

How I got a brand new MacBook for $127.48

Ok, this all started about 2 months ago when Jude and I were toying with the idea of getting me a new computer with our tax refunds. The Powerbook I have now was his and it's getting old. Besides it was a refurbished product when we bought it more than 2 years ago and it's been going all slow on me lately... Then he told me that someone in SI had gotten a brand new Macbook Pro for next to nothing and I was skeptical, but intrigued... I didn't think it was possible, but apparently it is. Ladies and gentlemen, my brand new 2 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo, 1 GB RAM, 80G MacBook:

So this is how it works: via Josh Clark, the guru of all things free on the Internet, I got my new computer through, a site that looks like a thousand other scam sites. But unlike other sites that get you to recommend three friends to sign up, and then another three friends after that before you can get your gift, SFP doesn't involve anyone else but you.

How it works:
First, you select the free product that you want. Depending on how expensive the product it, you have to sign up for X number of offers. For a MacBook, I had to fulfill 12 offers that are broken up into three pages: 4 offers on the first page, 6 on the second, and 2 on the third. A couple of offers appear on multiple pages, and you cannot complete any offer more than once. Some of them are from companies you’ve probably heard of (Blockbuster, Entertainment Weekly), some are not (I can't believe there are really such things as online psychics...) And offers on Page 3 are often either the ones which require the most initial cost, or the ones that take the longest to fulfill, like credit cards. The key is this: most of these offers are for trial, hence you should cancel them before the trial period is over. You will almost always get a refund of your money.

My Timeline for a MacBook (if you choose a cheaper gift, your timeline may be considerably shorter):
3/17: Began process; signed up for 12 offers (including one credit card application).
3/17 : Received immediate credit for 5 offers.
3/18- 4/9: Received credit for next 6 offers.
4/10: Received new credit card.
4/11: Received credit for final offer. Order goes into "ordered" status.
4/12- 5/1: Excruciatingly long test of patience...
5/2: Received W-9 form via email (if the gift you chose is worth more than $600, you are required to fill in this form for tax purposes- no biggie)
5/6: Received phone-call from UPS to expect overnight delivery the next day and to be present to sign for the package.
5/7: UPS drops off my brand new MacBook at 5.42pm!

Money spent:
Altogether, I initially forked out $448.95, but got $337.47 back in refunds. Add the cost of shipping a few of the items back ($16.00 to the dot) and the grand total spent was $127.48, for which I received five bags of coffee, two weeks free movie rentals from Netflix, a stack of Disney books, one free issue of Entertainment Weekly (before I canceled the offer), one video teaching me FrontPage, one teaching me Spanish, and another to help me get started on my own eBay Marketplace account, and a brand new 80G MacBook. To purchase this particular model from Apple directly, it’ll cost you a cool $1,299.

Time spent:
- 2-3 hours spent completing offers (this takes some time because you want to review all the Terms and Conditions carefully, especially their cancellation policy);
- time spent on the phone and online canceling trial memberships (be nice to the customer service people and they won't give you a hard time. I always start by remembering their names and asking them how their day has been...);
- an hour or two packing and shipping returns (including trips to the post office); and
- a bunch of time spent obsessively checking my e-mail account and member page on SFP for updates.
So in total, probably 10-15 hours altogether (20hrs max), but spread over a month and a half so it really isn't that much in the larger scheme of things.

To find out more on how you can begin your own ShopFreePay endeavor, go to Josh Clark's site, in particular, here and here. BUT, I'm not saying that this is always going to work for everyone- YMMV (a.k.a your mileage may vary) so this not an endorsement of any sort. Try anything at your own risk. So there, some of these "free"-gift sites are genuine. Just be careful, read everything, and be patient... Very patient.

Spring swing

Jude and I went for a walk around our neighborhood yesterday and he took the opportunity to play around with the manual functions of our camera. The spring colors are really pretty right now, especially the trees outside our house. The temperature is still a little nippier than I would prefer in May, but at least the sun is out and it's light until just before 9pm. Finally, spring is here for real! :)
Oh, give us pleasure in the flowers today;
And give us not to think so far away
As the uncertain harvest; keep us here
All simply in the springing of the year.

Oh, give us pleasure in the orchard white,
Like nothing else by day, like ghosts by night;
And make us happy in the happy bees,
The swarm dilating round the perfect trees...

-"A Prayer in Spring", Robert Frost

Friday, May 04, 2007

Tune of the week: Snow Patrol - Signal Fire

Snow Patrol's not normally my cup of tea. But given the fact that we just watched the movie last night, I thought I'd follow-up the movie by checking who's on the soundtrack. I was pleasantly surprised to find this video on the movie's website. I think Serene will really like this video and she'd be surprised to see this :) The band did an outstanding and inspired job with the narrative in this video. (hint: it's not spiderman that's the protagonist). It's so damn cute too :)


Inspired by Jude's hard work in getting his webpage up and looking good, I decided to redesign my webpage so that it looks like something I can be proud of and am happy with. Not that I didn't like my last design, but having looked at more webpages and having figured our exactly what I want to go into mine, I felt that some cyber-remodeling was in order...

I think Version 2.0 is a little more interesting, aesthetically as well as content-wise. I was aiming for something sleeker and more contemporary so there's less color and fuss than before. I condensed much of the information that was in 1.0, and added some stuff in as well (more inspiration from Jude here).

In general, the overall design is inspired by several sources (see A.C. Newman's site, and one of Noor's recent flickr photos); besides, I've always loved polka-dots. They make me smile :) Most of the CSS/HTML codes are from Jude, some I picked up from here and there, and I created some on my own, but mostly just the color and font elements. I don't know how people designed webpages before Photoshop, but I definitely couldn't. That together with iPhoto and the mosaic tool in fd's Flickr Toys were absolute lifesavers for all the image stuff.

So there, I'm pretty happy with the overall product- I think it has a more "enduring" feel to it. Like Jude, I'm done mucking around with my webpage. Now on to more pressing tasks including- but not limited to- grilling, picnics and other related matters like sitting out in the sun... :)

Thursday, May 03, 2007

The first summer blockbuster of 2007...

Guess who has tickets to the IMAX version of Spiderman 3 at 12.05am tonight? :)

Who cares if it's $27 for the both of us and I have a 9.00 meeting tomorrow morning that I'm almost surely going to be late for? We've been waiting for this for 2 years, and it's going to be awesome!...

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Bye Audrey!

Happy face
Originally uploaded by jyew.
Our next door neighbor Tia graduated over the weekend and we're so happy for her! But that also means that she and Audrey can no longer stay in university housing; in fact, they spent the weekend packing their stuff and officially today, they've moved out :(

We're going to miss them- Audrey especially. I've grown really fond of the "little twerp" (as her mom calls her). She's only five, but so precocious I sometimes thinks she's really a 4-foot tall 12-year-old. She's the one who goaded this city girl into climbing her first tree and jumping into her first leaf pile. Now that she's gone, who's going to take silly pictures of me? Who's going to come over at night to show me her new school outfit and ask me to make her lemon cupcakes? Who am I going to give all our extra candy to? And who's going to sing Ashlee Simpson's "Pieces of Me" so loudly in the shower I can hear her from over here?... ;)

All the best Tia and Audrey- we're going to miss you both!!