Monthly Archives: July 2008

The felonious cup

Artist impression

Mug shot

Ailin and I were at Starbucks earlier enjoying a 1-for-1 deal on their caffe latte, and I was commenting how I’d thought the doodle of the coffee mug on the wall had a happy face drawn on it (with the white squiggly eyes and brown smile), and Ailin suggested that it was an artist’s impression of a wanted cup. I’d quipped ‘mug shot’ at the same time (I think I was expecting her to use that phrase rather than ‘artist impression’), and somehow it all added up to pretty amusing imagery.

I think maybe you have to had been there to appreciate it. =P

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Journey to the West

The term at NIE has started, and I now have to lug myself daily to the western almost-Malaysia part of the island. These four weeks are quite light for most of the other teacher-trainees, but because all student doing English Language are required to do extra lessons, plus I didn’t do any Physics in university (thus necessitating supplementary classes as well), I’ve got a pretty busy schedule already, as far as timetables go.

One of the few things I like about the place is the NTU food court. As with all campus eateries, it’s pretty cheap (it sells things at prices comparable to commercial hawker centre food), it’s relatively tasty, and best of all – it’s air-conditioned! I particularly like that Ayam Panggang is available here, though not as tasty as Riverside‘s, it still makes for a pretty good lunch option. The NIE canteen sells cheaper food, though sacrificing comfort and variety in the process.

I actually first saw the NIE Library bus stop about 4 years ago. I was on my SISPEC course (I think), and we’d come to the area for live firing of support weapons. Funnily enough the driver didn’t know where to pick us up after the shooting, so to help give the driver a more easily recognisable landmark, we all marched to this very bus stop in the middle of the night.

It remains a rather vivid memory in my head – tired from the day of waiting my turn to fire the M203 (among other things), tired of being marched around like little ants, and tired of the whole army experience in general, it was really bittersweet to be just looking at the compound I knew I would one day be studying in. Fastforward 4 years, and here I am today, at last.

I can’t remember what exactly was on my mind as we stood at the bus stop waiting for our transport to bring us back to Pulau Tekong, but as I stood there today waiting for the bus to come, I was just glad to have made it so far. I don’t expect my course here to be particularly exciting, but it’s a definite step in the direction I want to be headed toward, and no matter how exactly it turns out, I’m just grateful to be able to push off into the road ahead.

Settlers of Catan

I was first introduced to Settlers of Catan by Weining, who got a bunch of us to play it using a set he’d brought home from Canada. I played it a few more times in Japan with some of Ailin’s friends, and decided to get myself the complete set from eBay at about US$150, including shipping to Singapore.

I hadn’t actually used it (or even take it out of the packaging) for quite a number of weeks after it’d arrived, though – today marks the first time I’ve played it (with Lester and Carey), and it was really great fun. Hopefully I can gradually convert my house (back?) into a hub of entertainment and lounging one day.

Maybe I’m just missing a Wii

Re-opened doors

Some years ago I’d briefly considered a career in the Admin Service – admittedly it was just the mainly the prestige and pay which enticed me, which I know are pretty silly reasons (even back then I thought so, too). Eventually I concluded that I wasn’t quite up to the job, and gave up on that little daydream.

Today I was astonished to find out that I might have a shot at joining the Management Associates Programme (which possibly results in joining the Admin Service) after all – a pretty slim one, perhaps, but there nonetheless. I’ve not actually thought too much about working on broad policy, since I’ve mainly been interested in education and related issues myself, but if it turns out that I am capable of doing more – well, why not? For all the cheesiness associated with the ideas of serving your country and whatnot, those are ideals I actually do believe in

(Hey, you never know who might be reading this right? Better link to some vaguely patriotic post, otherwise end up like this guy instead.)

More seriously though, now it’s all going back to that question I’d first asked almost half a dozen years ago – how exactly am I going to distinguish myself from all those other people who’re getting interviewed? I’d somehow managed to before, but I wonder if it’s something I can pull off again, five years on?

Protected: The sound of a backward step

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Heritage site

It’s a little strange seeing a little plaque from Singapore’s National Heritage Board outside the church for which my neighbourhood is named after. Especially if in my head, it’s just “that stuffy church down the corner that’s dreadfully popular and under-ventilated”, but in the mind of others, it’s apparently a monument worth preserving.

I guess it’s good that the conservation efforts are stepping up, though. Buildings are certainly disappearing quickly enough on this little island.

Money matters

My very first successful card waiver!

I’ve long heard of card companies deciding to waive credit card fees for you if you call in and threaten to cancel the card, but I’ve never done it myself, not having a credit card of my own. More recently I heard from my brother that they usually refund the annual fee if you just call in and request for a waiver, which seems easy enough to do, but I didn’t think I’ll need to do it that soon.

Turns out that the debit card I’m using had suddenly decided to charge me an annual fee (or more accurately, the three year waiver had expired, since I got it shortly before leaving for the UK) and so I called in to try my luck at getting a fee waiver. It’s an easy enough procedure – just call the hotline, and voila! S$19 saved.

I think I’ll still be cancelling the card soon though, probably will be applying for some credit cards – mainly to enjoy the discounts offered – and this procedure seems to be quite troublesome if you’re juggling too many cards. I’m currently eyeing the Citibank SMRT Visa Card, since it doubles as an EZ-Link card (Singapore’s version of London’s Oyster card) and I’m definitely interested in maintaining a (relatively) light wallet. I’ll have to wait awhile for my first paycheck (12 Aug) though, a day I’m quite eagerly anticipating. =D

How exactly does someone rack up more than 1500 messages in less than a month?

On the end of the spectrum, we have my sister, a 12-year-old girl who has somehow managed to rack a bill of S$70+ on a mobile bill that’s supposed to be free (for six months). A large part of the bill was due to the number of text messages sent – a whopping 1568 in less than a month (25 days to be exact – it’s a new plan). I know that the female species is capable of many things beyond imagining, but how exactly she managed to use an average of 63 messages daily escapes my fragile male mind.

I’ve told her that she’s going to be paying for all excess charges, and am planning to get her to manage her own account in secondary school, but I wonder how exactly to teach a teen the value of money?

Awaiting the dark knight

I’ve somehow managed to fall ill again. I suspect it’s related to the climate – I (almost) never fell ill in the UK, but I’m often getting sick back home. I’m actually feeling rather light-headed now, which might explain why I got into a near-accident (or two) last night while driving.

I think I should just avoid taking the wheel in the future, if feeling unwell.

Anyway. I’m actually really looking forward to catching The Dark Knight. I remember really liking the previous film (Batman Begins), although to be honest I can’t remember that much of it now. I really enjoyed some of Chris Nolan’s other works (e.g. Memento, The Prestige) though, and with all the rave reviews it’s getting now, I think it’s a movie I’ll really enjoy.

There’s actually a (not so well-known) recent Batman DVD release – Batman: Gotham Knight. Like The Animatrix, it’s a series of short animated films that fills in some blanks between the two movies. It’s done anime-style, which I’m actually not a big fan of, and I didn’t really like the first short all that much – but it grows on you, and as I watched on and started appreciating the different styles in each short film, I ended up being rather impressed with the whole project. Definitely worth taking a look at, if you’re not violently opposed to watching animated flicks.

Befuddling

I found it just the slightest bit confusing to see a London brand selling Asian nuts (made in the UK, no less!) in a Japanese department store in Singapore today.

They might be on offer,  but I think I’m sticking to the infinitely more affordable Tong Garden, thank you very much.

I’m lovin’ it

That lone McDonald’s in Tomioka…

I’m a relatively big fan of McDonald’s internationally – in that I don’t actually eat it all that frequently, but really enjoy hunting down the local variations in each country.

So when I was about to leave Japan this time, I took the trouble to do the 20min cycle (from Ailin’s house) to McDonald’s – especially since there was this limited-edition burger that I really liked. It’s based off the Teriyaki burger (which I rather enjoy), except that it uses a crispy chicken fillet instead of a sausage patty. Teriyaki sauce + crispiness = good. They actually sell those fillets as separate menu items (shaka shaka chicken), and they’re apparently pretty popular – wonder who thought of stuffing them into burgers, though. Reminds me of how I’d add hash browns to my ham and cheese burgers back in school last time.

There were other interested things at McDonald’s, actually – they were having a limited edition McFlurry, where they blend the ice cream with milk tea, resulting in something that tastes pretty much like milk tea ice cream (with oreo bits), which I quite enjoyed. I also spotted an advertisment for upcoming bread products – dang, those look pretty good!