Sunday, November 30, 2003

Thanksgiving Weekend

ying came! =)

and we all had a great time. janice roasted us a fantabulous turkey, full of juicy goodness, the best turkey i've ever had. much kudos to the domestic goddess. =) there was lots of food, and lots of wine, and lots of dessert, and plenty of great company -- up to and including the honourary parental units: ying's parents were in town, and spent thanksgiving with us, it was a blast.

the post-thanksgiving sale shopping trip was also quite the experience: i don't think i have ever shopped for almost twelve hours straight before. no wonder we were completely unwilling/unable to move this morning; i think it took jan five tries before she was up and remained awake for longer than the time it took to mumble something and go -clonk- back to sleep, as ying puts it. but it was fun - new shoes for people, new earrings for alvin!, new sweaters for me, that sort of good stuff.

unforunately i now have a terrible terrible cold and am sneezing all over the place -we got caught out in the snow yesterday and i was inadequately dressed. so i shall be fairly quiet heading into finals week -- and then the quarter will be over, eun will be here, and then i will be home. soon. =)

Wednesday, November 26, 2003

Alvin!

tired out of my mind and ready for bed, but just a short post to announce that alvin has arrived safe and sound in chicago!

schedule today:

lunch with pstan;
trek to airport to pick alvin up, involving running around two terminals trying to figure out where he would emerge;
trek back to hyde park to dump off stuff;
chinatown -penang- for dinner;
visiting with windermere people;
MARGIE'S for a humongous sundae involving two servings of seriously the best fudge in the world; and
Jewel Osco for turkeyshopping and loading up on household necessities

no wonder i am exhausted, and i haven't done any work yet!


Monday, November 24, 2003

First Snow


Oh, the weather outside is frightful,
But the fire is so delightful,
And since we've no place to go,
Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.

It doesn't show signs of stopping,
And I brought some corn for popping;
The lights are turned way down low,
Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.

When we finally say good night,
How I'll hate going out in the storm;
But if you really hold me tight,
All the way home I'll be warm.

The fire is slowly dying,
And, my dear, we're still good-bye-ing,
But as long as you love me so.
Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.


the first real snow of the season. i woke up to a wall of white outside my window, and it's currently -7C. isn't it lovely? =)


Sunday, November 23, 2003

Lament

Everything is far
and long gone by.
I think the star
glittering above me
has been dead for a million years.
I think there were tears
in the car I heard pass
and something terrible was said.
A clock has stopped striking in the house
across the road...
When did it start?...
I would like to step out of my heart
and go walking beneath the enormous sky.
I would like to pray.
And surely of all the stars that perished
long ago,
one still exists.
I think that I know
which one it is --
which one, at the end of its beam in the sky,
stands like a white city...

Rainer Maria Rilke

outside the sky is a leaden grey, smothering the city with a fog the colour of dust and gloom. i can't find it in myself to smile, even though i walked fifteen blocks in the semi-warn mist of rain to a brunch and home again. the bad weather seems here to stay, and with it the misery of work unleavened by sunshine and walks by the lake and random wanderings on campus, meandering my way around with no real purpose except to be outdoors. and sometimes, on days like these, i miss living in the dorm, when company to wash my mood away was only seconds from my door, and i could simply run down half a flight of stairs to find the friends who always manage to either cheer me up or join me in my misery. and i could sit in the dining hall with someone else's newspaper, and drink cup after cup of coffee with too much creamer and sugar to cover the truly awful taste of bad coffee, and hide from a reality filled with work, and homesickness, and being too far away from all the people and things i really honestly love with every bit of me.

but perhaps the misery of work isn't really a misery, since i am doing what i love best -at least for now- and i don't have to face the different reality - the reality of being a functional and useful person in society, instead of someone living in the Ivory Tower that is college, and idealistically believing that she can, in some small but perhaps useful way, change the world by what she does. and company isn't so far away - a couple of blocks, or a cellphone-call away. and home, soon, very soon, though before home, people i love : come thanksgiving week, and finals week.

in the meantime: coffee, and more reading, and perhaps even more coffee.

Saturday, November 22, 2003

Seabiscuit

is a great movie for people who love horses and love to watch horses run and interact with people and just be themselves on camera. i loved it. i'll even admit i cried at it, when Seabiscuit starts winning races by just going into high gear, sprinting full out for the finish line.

it kind of reminds me of Secretariat -- the Triple Crown winner that literally had a bigger heart than other horses. they're all about their willingness to go the extra bit for you, to win, to beat the rest of the pack. people forget that these horses are bred for one thing and one thing only -- to run, and run as hard as they can until you stop them. they're at their most beautiful when they are sprinting for that finish line, and they open up and really take off and it's the closest thing to flying while being on the ground you could imagine.

people say the movie is kind of cheesy and i have to admit, as far as the whole symbol-of-a-nation-getting-out-of-the-Great-Depression goes i have to agree. but the whole thing about him loving a challenge and coming from behind -- horses have great hearts, and they are intelligent animals. it's totally believable that he needed to be challenged [i love the whole thing about him being able to sleep all day and eat twice as much as a horse twice his size] before he could find the spirit to win.

at some point i'll have to post something abt the Chicago Shakespeare Theatre's production of Taming of the Shrew that we attended last night [and its relevance to the recent furore about RGS girls and the unmarriageability thereof] but it will have to wait til i am more coherent. =)

Thursday, November 20, 2003

Happy Birthday Adrian!

singing

happy birthday to you
happy birthday to you
happy birthday to ADRIAN
happy birthday to you

adr: hang in there, exams will be over soon, and we will be back to descend on you and drag you out and make the best of our mutual one-month-of-freedom-from-the-tyranny-of-schoolwork! take care of yourself. =) best wishes, and remember, we're behind you 100% of the way! -hug-

that's all i wanted to say tonight. =)

Wednesday, November 19, 2003

i need to find some kind of motivation to do work, rather than read endless amounts of Steingarten, get hungry, and putter around my kitchen fixing my divine smelling beef stew -which will turn out too salty but delicious nonetheless. oh, and wander around friends' blogs, where i found this on Michelle Lim's blog re: RGS girls.

now, i'm an rgs girl. that much is obvious to anyone who has ever met a bunch of rgs girls as a base for comparison. random strangers off the street go 'you went to Raffles, didn't you' moments after they hear me open my mouth for the first time. in fact, i couldn't imagine where else i would like to send my daughters [i must be a disappointment to my mother, who is a st. nicholas girl through and through, and would have liked her only daughter to have been one too!] than my own alma mater, because of the education she will receive and the kind of -you can make the world a better place- attitude that we seem to come out of secondary school with. Filiae Melioris Aevi indeed. perhaps it was all carmee's influence, who knows.

i object to Chua Mui Hoong's implication that an RGS education is all about getting good grades. i certainly didn't come through with an impeccable report book, and i know lots of my friends didn't either. we spent countless hours in choir rehearsals and debate meetings; and almost as many hours lounging in a macs on orchard road eating fries and BBQ-sauce and blabbering about our favourite books --which had nothing to do with school AT ALL. in fact, we went to the library tons of times together - to get favourite fiction authors out of the library -- and i can't remember the last time i got a work-related book out of the rgs library. it was all about the terry pratchetts and the orson scott cards i couldn't bring myself to buy because i was a poor secondary school student then. =)

ooh, and who can forget sitting in the HD at the Mariott trying to decide what delicious confection to try next?

i loved my time in RGS, and i really like the kind of person it has made me. and my best friends. of course, i'm biased -- i am a big fan of my own kind, i guess --birds of a feather flock together and all that jazz. but on the whole i think i prefer being an articulate -well most of the time-, semi-intelligent, competitive and argumentative person who nitpicks about the meanings of words rather than be imprecise. i guess i've been fortunate in going to various schools that have been able to pick out and shape the best bits of the academic, intellectual me, while giving me various people who have shaped the emotional, human me.

i guess that really is what i want to pass on to my daughter -if one day i have a daughter, who knows i might have all boys, the horror-: the entire experience of an education that has made the most of the raw material that was kind of just sitting there behind my eyes the entire time. but as a start i think i would like to send her off to rgs, assuming that it hasn't turned into a pressurecooker, academics-only focused school...in which case i will pack her off to SCGS so that she can at least 'marry well', to quote Chua Mui Hoong!

Monday, November 17, 2003

You Know Things Are Getting Hairy When...

...you spend an entire afternoon at your ex-roommate's new apartment watching Sliding Doors instead of homework, although you have to give us the fact that we had already -at least!- finished the music homework due tomorrow. if not yet the reading. man the homework was a bitch.

that said, i've watched an incredible amount of good stuff this weekend: last night we had an Indiana Jones marathon at my place -on alex's computer, much thanks- involving Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, pizza and ice cream sundaes; and i've been watching Witch Hunter Robin on my computer -again- because i love that series; and this afternoon was spent with H watching Sliding Doors, which we both love, though the ending is quite quite unsatisfying. we both want the other Helen to live. because she kicks ass. =)

i also did no work at all yesterday, instead i stayed in my apartment -mostly in my own room- all day and read Steingarten's It Must Have Been Something I Ate, and slept, and ate some junk food and watched anime -before the movie marathon. this has GOT to be the most useless weekend i have ever spent.

Things To Do This Week:

(a) Write a memo for Org. Dec-making;
(b) Start reading for the Kamikaze paper for Lipson's World Politics Class;
(c) Register for classes for winter quarter [i am obscenely thrilled about it, it makes eighth week livable]

still fighting an inner battle between Mearsheimer's American Grand Strategy and Snidal's Theory and Practice of International Cooperation. hmm...


Sunday, November 16, 2003

in a valiant attempt to avoid doing any work and thereby attempting to fail out of school this quarter, i have been wandering around various blogs and am reminded of something i thought about in this week's episode of CSI, which i watched while having dinner, having cooked dinner through Survivor.

anyways, what this all boils down to is (a) a letter written by Jolene re: the recent oral sex case in the newspapers -which, to bring non-STOnline readers up to speed on, is this: a guy was recently jailed for two years, losing both 'his livelihood and liberty' to quote jol, because a girl performed oral sex on him. consensually, mind you, and she above the age of legal consent. because oral sex is illegal in our little island home.- and (b) a rape-murder case on CSI where the victim was murdered because she could identify her rapist. that triggered the memory that rape carries a maximum sentence of life, just like second-degree murder.

while i agree viscerally with the notion that rape is at least as bad as murder, as a crime, i have to bow to common sense [and reasoning provided by the discipline of economics] that argues that if the rapist were to get as heavy a sentence for rape as murder he might as well murder his victim, because he might then get away with the whole affair. most rapes are, after all, committed by someone the victim already knows, however casually -date rape, raped by 'that guy at the gym', the neighbour. so while i would LIKE to see the rapist get twenty-to-life for his crime, i -don't- want that to happen if it means that he is going to get life-death-penalty instead for rape AND murder.

which brings me to the issue of what a legal system DOES. i think we often forget that the legal system isn't just about laws, it's an encoding of what a society's morals and social mores are, to a certain extent. at least a portion of society anyway. the portion that writes the legal code. and the enforcement of such a code is subjective -some things we turn a blind eye to, because we recognise that they exist as a kind of signal as to what we perceive to be our moral code, but are unrealistic reflections of normal life. it's a rude shock to me to see enforcement of what i have always considered a kind of archaic, poker-up-the-ass victorian-priggish law. yes technically oral sex and carnal -read anal- sex is illegal in our little island state - come on, you mean to tell me it doesn't happen? does this then technically give the state the right to barge into our homes and conduct spot checks if they suspect such a horrendous crime is ongoing?

i don't even know what to say in response to the whole case. i think i'm still stunned that the guy was jailed - i think i'm even more stunned that the girl made a police report about what she freely admitted was a consensual act. dear god, what is the world -what are PEOPLE- coming to?

Thursday, November 13, 2003

winter quarter

it's the middle of seventh week, which means one thing and one thing only to crazy people like me: the timeschedules for next quarter are posted online! i can spend pleasurable hours poring over possiblities and picking what classes i might want to take in the middle of cold, dark, miserable winter-at-the-U of C-hell. =) i know, i'm such a U of C-geek. but it's really the only time when the possibilities are completely open -once you pick a schedule you have narrowed your choices down to four; and when the quarter starts you are pretty much locked in for ten weeks, like it or not. but in seventh week you can daydream for hours abt the pros and cons of taking, say, Mearsheimer's American Grand Strategy [pro: it's a great class with a great instructor; con: it's NINE AM twice a week in winter quarter and i live off campus. chances i'll make it to class on a regular basis: slim to none.]

so without further ado here is what is planned for the upcoming ten weeks:

Harmony and Voice Leading
Little Red Schoolhouse: Academic and Professional Writing
Introduction to Chinese Politics
Public Policy Analysis

the earliest class is 1030, and it seems like a fairly reasonable schedule: MWF will be relatively light and TuTh will have a nice 1.5 hour break before Little Red Schoolhouse - though lunchhours will be fairly messed up i imagine. boo.

the wind is absolutely howling outside my window; it's almost frightening. shades of scaffolding falling of the John Hancock last year. and BOTH the elevators in my section of the building do not work; one wonders what is next. first the heat is on the verge of collapse and now the elevators don't work -i had to run up seven flights of stairs this evening on my way up. grr.

they better have it fixed by the time i have to leave for class tomorrow. otherwise i'm gonna go scream in the office, the *@#&$% management company needs some crap kicked out of them.

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

heat

this arrived, stuffed into my door frame, this afternoon while i was taking a nap:

Dear Unit Owner/Tenant,

For the past week, we have been dealing non-stop with boiler and plumbing problems at the property. Environmental Control has continued to address a myriad of problems associated with the age of the equipment and many years of neglect.


explains why we have been alternately freezing and broiling in my apartment! they'd better get the heating system fixed before the real cold sets in, that's all i can say. otherwise i'm sleeping on jan's futon til the heating system is reliable again. boo!

was reminded that i have not been blogging much recently so -- quick update on what is going on: i am in the process of trying to produce a GOOD 100-200 word precis for my twelve-pager for C.Lipson, who i am convinced is possibly the funniest crazy man on earth; trying to do the reading for my music class since i am rapidly getting lost in the mysteries of figured bass and inversions notated completely different from what i am used to; and trying to do the reading for my ODM class, while preparing to write another paper next week. gotta top the A i got on the paper about the Polaris missile, which alex keeps pointing out is a Navy missile. which it is. an ICBM carried on nuclear subs capable of submerged launch. ok, enough =)

in the meantime i have a shopping trip downtown planned for this friday, possibly with Matrix Revolutions thrown in for good measure though who knows, since i have heard bad things about it. also dinner with rachel at the Snail on thursday, and a nice relaxed weekend involving perhaps an Indiana Jones Marathon at my place saturday night with my roomie and her bio chick friends. =)

along quite different lines, a shout out to all who are stuck in the midst of NUS exam season: hang in there, adrian, evan, anyone else i missed out who comes by this blog. they will be over soon and then you will be having fun before i even get to think about packing to come home...



Sunday, November 09, 2003

I have regained control of my life

Citylights Chicago 2003 is over, and while it was not particularly what i would call a resounding success, i certainly think that it went reasonably well. having been totally caught up in the details and minutiae of organising the event, i hadn't spared a thought as to what would happen on the day itself. IE what the speakers would talk about, and so forth - we were more concerned with things like who would pick up the Ambassador, and who would be assigned to entertain which speaker and where would we get alcohol and could we serve it and a myriad of other things.

too tired to put together a long post, but certain things from panel discussion stick out in my mind:

(1) Ambassador Chan Heng Chee urging our generation of Singaporeans to speak out, be brave, to feel like we can be a part of and make a difference to our nation. she spoke to us of that feeling of patriotism that doesn't come from waving a flag and singing Majulah, but from giving a damn about the future of our country, for us and for our children and our children's children.

(2) Richard Lai telling us that censorship is sometimes entirely self-imposed, and suggesting that we are heading in the right direction, that things we could never have imagined saying ten years ago are possible now. telling us to keep trying, and not to expect everything must go our way; just because we have something to say that's different from the next guy doesn't mean we must expect the next guy to agree immediately.

(3) varied comments on the philosophy of education and censorship; freedom of speech; and what a Singaporean identity consists of

which reminds me of what jon and the rest of the Family were discussing a while back on the need for an evolving education system. i think this helped crystalise what i think is wrong with it: while perhaps i can concede that we don't need/can't afford radical change now in terms of execution, i think we need a fundamental rethink of our philosophy of education. it's entirely possible to teach the same kids the same subjects in a totally new manner: it can still be physics chem bio math, but in a less -memorise the formula and pass the exam- sort of manner, and in a more -learn from first principles and understand what is going on manner-. i don't think we can afford to throw structure and content out the window, but i think we do need to revamp our attitudes toward traditional methods of instruction.

that's all that's coherent that's gonna come out of this brain tonight. more tomorrow, perhaps.

Thursday, November 06, 2003

To Do List

i just managed to get my cellphone unlocked from the Tmobile network -the bastards, they were never going to tell me how to do it until i called them again and harrassed them. email? what email? oh, sorry jeanette, there are instructions here how to do it, why don't i read them out to you? five seconds later, my phone is unlocked, free from tmobile forever. hah. take that, you inefficient lying pigs. =)

so i am in a triumphant mood, all too rare because i woke up this morning with the panic-ked feeling that Citylights is falling apart on my watch. so i need to call jess in the next half an hour or so and ask her what is UP with the banner and if it is undone to bang some heads, probably mine, against the wall. but until then, i am staying abreast of the panic by eating lots of Goldfish -the baked kind in packaging that declares, somewhat morbidly, 'The Snack That Smiles Back' as if that would make kids MORE likely to pop whole goldfish in their mouths- and drinking lots of water. i love my new Nalgenes, i consume so much more water when i have a litre of it sitting in front of me at my desk.

but. so that i don't forget over this weekend -yes i use this blog as a constant reminder of what is missing/going wrong/needs to be done in my life- here is a to-do-list for the weekend:

(1) SURVIVE CITYLIGHTS WITHOUT COMMITTING MURDER even at take-down on saturday night;
(2) Research and write a precis for my fifteen-page term paper for Lipson's World Politics class, which i really need to get a good grade on since i fucked up on the timeline and got a miserable-ass B, which is stupid because this is essentially a low-impact easy class;
(3) Do music homework with Hanyann

now i have no idea if this is managable considering that citylights takes up all of saturday in one form or another, but it should be fine. i need some refining ideas for my paper though. my TA commented that my 'topic area is too broad' and i should find a particular aspect of the Japanese war in the Pacific to focus on.

it's tempting to focus on Pearl Harbour but i'm trying to think of something more obscure than that - of course that means that there might not be sources available. but hell. i had a brainwave re: kamikaze pilots last night but in typical jeanette-distracted fashion forgot to write it down, leaving me with a tantalising fragment of idea floating in my head, attached to a large label on which 'kamikaze' is written. so maybe i'll work on getting that idea back while i walk to school in the bitter cold later.

at least my heat is on; i have no section for IR this week; i have no keyboard, and therefore my afternoon is free once Lipson's class is over. i'll sit in the B-school cafe and eat and read obnoxiously taking up a table at the busiest time of the day, waiting for alex to get out of class so we can go to walgreens -and he can carry stuff home for me. -grins- of course technically i should be reading Kagan's 'On the Origins of War' but more likely than not i will actually be reading Winchester's 'The Meaning of Everything' because it is much more fascinating that yet another explanation for the insane breakout of general war that characterised the early part of the 20th century. if i could, i would simply say the reason is that mankind is stupid/insane.

time to go look at some history re: kamikaze pilots!

Wednesday, November 05, 2003

Never Again

never again am i going to be on the organising committee for something like Citylights. i have my misgivings in the beginning before accepting the post, and now i know there was a real reason other than laziness behind it. never again.

if i make it to this saturday without killing anyone, it will be a miracle of the first order. already i'm having nightmares at night and my skin is breaking out for no apparent reason other than lack of sleep and tons of unwanted unwarranted stress, and i refuse to check my email. that, in itself, is a sign of how unhealthy my life has become in the last two weeks or so. i went the entire weekend without turning on my computer. that's a sign that things are severely awry in jeanette-land.

i had an amazing time at lindy this evening, learning a blues routine from hanyann and adeoye that will blow anyone's mind. my euphoria lasted less than half an hour, as immediately upon checking in at my computer i am flooded with email and demands for information. -poof- goes the good mood, that's all i can say.

so. here i am. impotently homocidal, at least until saturday. after that, i'm gonna go into total isolation mode, hide in my apartment, and only come out and play with people i REALLY REALLY like.


Monday, November 03, 2003

pit stop because i am not Macbeth, i am able to sleep, and i really need to get some sleep tonight! -grins- midterm tomorrow, though in music, so not too nasty, and will probably even be fun assuming i do not forget the bloody rules of counterpoint which i should go over at breakfastime.

but.

some background: every year during orientation week, the U of C has a 'Aims of Education' address that the incoming firstyears attend, along with their oaides and staff. the Aims of Education address is a hallowed old tradition: it's a big honour to be picked as the speaker for this; it is one of the few long set-speeches in the four years everyone is here, yadda yadda yadda. and it focuses, as the title implies, on why we seek an education. why become educated. what is an education. the kind of question that the U of C revels in, indeed, makes the basis of its philosophy/identity. part of why we have a 'Life of the Mind'. anyway. this year's version seemed particularly interesting, so - do go take a look. much thanks to leon, since i stole the link off his blog. =)

Aims of Education 2003

bedtime.

Sunday, November 02, 2003

That Way Madness Lies

i feel like Macbeth after he's unable to sleep and his brain is falling apart and he's going psycho. it's not been the most stable of weeks for me and my system is finally rebelling against the abuse i've been putting it through. last night i had the most horrific set of nightmares involving almost everyone i know here at the U of C [ok maybe not but close enough; all the usual major players] and running away, and i woke up feeling even more exhausted than when i went to bed, in tears. as if i wasn't already tired enough. sometimes i think this school demands my soul as well as my intellectual effort. i don't think i've looked forward to going home quite as much as this since fall quarter my first year, right after i got here. it's ridiculous.

i also have a midterm in Intro to IR to study for, and am slowly realising that although i will manage to finish all the required readings, i might not be any more prepared for it after than i am right now. it's a terribly depressing thought and a really frightening one for me since i have essentially not been too worried abt any kind of exam since i don't know when, really. at least not in a 'i totally don't have a clue' kind of way. even econometrics was sort of ok, since i knew what to expect from it. i really am so much happier with paper writing as opposed to taking exams, this whole midterm in a paper-like class is a real bitch. much more so than my theory midterm on monday which worries me not at all.

speaking of theory classes: i was at a Bach concert last night -involving a real harpsichord instead of a fortepiano, which was cool, in a dynamic-less, i-have-to-concentrate-to-hear-it sort of way- and was thinking to myself abt how i sort of appreciate it more for the conceptual underpinnings the theory class is starting to give me and that i appreciate the theory class precisely for those conceptual underpinnings. i like learning things for a reason, and i hated theory lessons back in the day when i was taking them because they seemed so POINTLESS. like, ok, i do this, i build a triad, so? but now i know abt the whole overtones thing of the major triad; i know abt tertiary harmony; it makes things a lot more comprehensible and helpful and...logical! my theory class is really the one class that makes me super happy despite the shitload of work it involves, almost constantly. it is like taking another language, only tons more fun. it's just so ironic that something that i used to dread has become something i voluntarily take, enjoy, work at, where i used to avoid it, never did my homework, despite having really little of it, and stuff like that. i still hate writing counterpoint because of the rules, but simultaneously appreciate how the rules make it so much easier by limiting the possibilities.

figured bass lessons start next week.

back to studying for my Intro to IR midterm. hope i don't pass out from irritation!