Monthly Archives: March 2009

Planning out the term

I’d never really used iCal previously, instead relying on Google Calendar for its online any-computer access, as well as my handphone’s calendar system for reminders to do certain tasks. I’d found myself wanting to plot out my lesson schedule for the rest of my practicum, but it’s quite a bit of a hassle on Google’s web interface.

However, after finding out that I could sync iCal with my Google Calendar, I decided to give it a spin, and I find that I like it quite a lot. It handles faster than Google Calendar, and the syncing capability means I can plan out my (school) schedule at home and still access/edit it at school (on the Windows laptop I’ve been provided).

Suddenly I’m interested in the iPhone once more – I’m pretty sure that it should sync with iCal pretty well. I guess I’ll wait and see if a 32GB version is released this year. If so, and the battery life is improved, I might just switch when I’m next able to upgrade my handset.

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Network One 2 One

I don’t actually know what to say about this. Are teachers among the “highly educated, successful (career women)” that the government’s hoping will get married? Even so, it somehow feels simultaneously sad and amusing that NIE has an agency specifically to help teacher trainees get together. I’ve never seen these overseas!

I wonder if NUS and NTU have similar activities…

The Winter's Tale

The Winter's Tale

…was really, really good. I say this as someone who’d really disliked studying Shakespeare as a student, but somehow watching it performed live, and with such flair and emotion, truly makes a difference (having read the SparkNotes probably also helped somewhat). I can’t say I loved it all, but I definitely did enjoy it.

I’m not going into a proper review of it, since other sites have done better ones than I can manage, but I think that if the Bridge Project were to stage more productions in Singapore, I’d gladly pay to watch them.

Looking through your eyes

I’ve been following 30 Rock for some time now, but the most recent episode contained what was (to me) the most hilarious 30 seconds of the show I’ve ever seen. Essentially, a simple country boy (Kenneth) is conversing with his boss and the camera briefly switches to Kenneth’s point of view as the scene continues. The result is simply sublime.

If you’ve not already been watching 30 Rock, I highly recommend it. It might take some time getting used to, but in recent weeks it’s not failed to leave me in stitches after each episode. Wonderful stuff.

Observation

Had my first (informal) observation by my NIE supervisor today. It went surprisingly smoothly – she thought it was a well-prepared lesson, and that I speak pretty well. Criticisms were aplenty, though, so I’ve still got loads to improve on. Classroom management is probably a big weakness of mine, though the class was (somewhat eerily) angelic today – seems like they don’t hate me after all!

In other news, I’ve managed to get myself a free ticket (from the school) to The Bridge Project’s production of The Winter’s Tale. I’ve never been big on Shakespeare, and this hasn’t really changed, but the opportunity to catch a production with such stunning resume (Sam Mendes! Wow!) was just too much to miss (Singapore’s the only Asian stop!). I guess it’s never too late to attempt to start appreciating the arts, huh?

Although if there’s anything I remember from studying Shakespeare a decade ago, it’s that I’ll be totally lost if I go and watch the play without having any knowledge of it – which is my current status. I’ll probably need to remedy that before this coming Saturday. SparkNotes, here I come!

Air China, Business class

Guess who got upgraded for the flight back? This time I was bumped up due to an overbooked flight (similar to the only other time I’ve been upgraded before), although instead of giving me a new boarding pass, the air staff scrawled my replacement seat number on the existing stub. It also turns out that my earlier experience in Air China’s business class was really limited to seating –  I’m guessing everyone else around me on that day had economy tickets, too!

The first sign that I was experiencing a different class of service was the offer of a drink at the start of the flight – not from a trolley, but from a little tray. Nothing terribly fancy, but similar to what is done with Singapore Airlines.

I know I’d dissed Air China’s business class seats earlier, and I’m still pretty surprised that there’s no personal entertainment system (just projector screens) in business class (and even first class!) – but I’m revising that opinion – these seats are pretty comfy when you’re tired from a day’s travelling. They recline further back than a normal economy seat, and the fluffier pillows provided really do make a difference. Nowhere as good as a flat bed, but still – pretty good!

The food, of course, is another key difference between the different seating classes. Fancy menus, tablecloths, proper crockery – presentation’s vastly superior outside of economy class. The food itself was pretty good – I got soup wontons for supper, and while again not quite Singapore Airlines standard, I could imagine being served the same stuff in London’s Chinatown (read: pretty decent, but not spectacular).

Ads, here? Say it isn’t so!

While procrastinating (again) I decided to try adding advertisements to this blog’s feed. I don’t really expect to make any money from that, but I thought since it doesn’t really mess with the layout of the site at all, well – why not?

So, well, don’t be too surprised to see extra ads appearing at the end of every post (assuming you subscribe to the web feed), and of course please don’t hesitate to check any of them out if they interest you. ;P

Chinese ad

“Mummy, I’m growing teeth!”

“…”

“Mummy…?”

“Mummy, aren’t you happy for me?”

I saw this advertisement in Beijing Capital International Airport. I’m a bit unused to seeing everything written in Chinese, so it took me awhile to process this ad – although once I managed to do so, I thought it was really smart!

See if you could guess what it’s meant for before checking the full ad (by clicking the linked image above).

Via Beijing

So, I’m back in Japan. Probably my last time here for awhile, considering the next school holiday’s quite near to when Ailin finishes her contract anyway. I’ll probably try to do my Europe holiday during that time – Anyone interested in visiting Germany/Austria/Czech republic this June? =P

Anyway, this time I’d opted to fly by Air China, since it’s a lot cheaper than Singapore Airlines (nearly half the price), plus I’d get to use the lounge while in transit anyway so I figured the wait wouldn’t be too bad. Anyway, Air China operates at Terminal 1 in Changi Airport, which made it the first time I was flying from there in awhile.

The thing that struck me at Terminal 1 was the availability of a check-in lounge for business/first class passengers (and also to Star Alliance Gold members). I’m ever-mindful of how I’ll be losing the Gold status after this June (possibly forever), so I thought I’d go check it out. Basically it’s just an area full of comfortable seats for rich people to sit at instead of standing in the traditional queues. Frankly, I’d thought it quite a waste of space/money given that non-economy passengers already have priority queues of their own, but I guess if someone offers you a comfortable seat rather than standing in line for ten minutes, you’ll sit, right?

I’d actually got bumped up to a business class seat for the Singapore-Beijing leg of the flight, although I was supposed to be getting economy class service. Still, that got me pretty excited, especially since that was the leg I was expecting to sleep through. Unfortunately, Air China’s business class seats had nothing on Singapore Airlines’ version – maybe this isn’t the case for other aircraft in their fleet, but the business class seat I got was essentially a roomy economy seat. It was slightly better for sleeping than the standard economy seat, so I’m not really complaining, but I just can’t see why anyone would pay good money for this.

Although I was promised economy class food, I got the same meal as everyone else around me – either I got the business food too, or everyone in the business section that day was an upgraded passenger. I’m going with the former assumption, but if so – the food’s pretty much the same as an economy class meal! The only real difference I noticed between this and the economy meal I had later was the provision of a wet napkin (with the business meal).

[Edit: I later got bumped up into the full service business class and have since revised my opinion of it.]

Beijing’s airport was actually pretty nice – I wasn’t all that interested in exploring it though, and headed straight for Air China’s business lounge there. It was alright, I guess. Breakfast was being served (yay!) and there was a nice variety there, although I’d found (unfortunately) that the western food like hash browns and scrambled eggs were soggy and not particularly good.

Tea eggs were a nice touch, though.

Using restaurants as coffee joints

Maybe if I had a blog titled “Stuff Teachers Like”, this would be an entry in it. Except that it wouldn’t be very accurate (yet!) – it’s a personal modification rather than an actual thing that teachers like.

Coffee joints like Starbucks seem to be a popular place for us to hang out after school hours – you can easily pick out the teachers by looking out for their trusty red pens, and the huge stacks of papers they’re marking with them. I had a few hours to kill yesterday prior to catching Watchmen and some stacks of test papers of my own to grade, so I thought of doing the same. However, I don’t actually fancy coffee all that much, milk tea being my beverage of choice, so I popped into one of those HK cafes instead.

I don’t really enjoy the food all that much, but it offers quite a good option to get some comfortable seats at really low prices (depending on what you order, of course) – with a hot teh-si, the bill would have been under S$2 (even including taxes and service charge)! Since I was staying for quite some time though, I got myself another cup of (iced) milk tea, with the bill totalling S$5.10 in the end.

So I ended up staying there slightly longer than 3h. I don’t know if I’ll do it often, but I think given the choice between Starbucks and a HK cafe, I’d definitely prefer the latter option.