Wednesday, March 31, 2004

ok, the second day of school is over. whew. what a madhouse of running around. as it turns out, i still don't know what my schedule is going to be like. although i am registered for East Asian Security -and it looks like an interesting class- that is ALL i am registered for. it doesn't look like i want to take History of the Arab-Israeli Conflict (though i am buying the books; they're great reading) with Wasserstein at 0900 TuTh (even if i do find the man somewhat fascinating. he has the coolest accent). sitting in on Leitzel's Regulation of Vice was terrifying -- there were twice as many people present as there are slots in the class. whoa! (i just checked. there still aren't any slots available.)

i did however go and see duncan and pick up my final paper -the ASEAN one- from last quarter. and ask him to be my BA advisor next year. and he agreed! so now i have a BA advisor and something resembling a topic (much thanks to pstan for some ideas to get started). -big sigh of relief-

tomorrow is another big class-struggle day. -grin- The EU in the morning. i met the instructor this afternoon outside Duncan's office and chatted with him briefly. love his accent. he seems reasonable. hopefully he will respect seniority, unlike Leitzel, who is using a random number generator to pick people who get into his class. then Seminar in Realism with Mearsheimer in the afternoon. if all works out, i'll have six hours of seminar every wednesday -a fact which rather overwhelmed Sebastian, the EU instructor. it rather overwhelms me too. -grin- but wish me luck anyway.

last but not least, my roommate just pointed me toward this absolutely ridiculous article about being charged room and board by the state if you are wrongfully imprisoned in a British jail. can someone who lives on that side of the Pond please explain this harebrained idea? =)

postscript: the National Library at Stamford Road closes its doors forever today (Singapore time). another part of our history gone forever. another shared memory of hundreds -thousands- of kids doing school projects, finding new authors to read, whiling away saturday afternoons during the december holidays. i love that redbrick building, and i'm sad that i'm not there to say goodbye. i'm sad that we have to say goodbye at all.

Tuesday, March 30, 2004

ahhhh starting spring quarter

laundry is done, phone calls have been made, emails written and replied to. classes start soon. motet rehearsal in 45 min. (i wonder if i have a voice left?) now i just need to scramble things in order, find some relatively decent clothes to wear -it's fourteen degrees out! while a pleasant change from before-spring-break-chicago, it's an unpleasant change from spring-break-florida...- and zoom myself out of the apartment for a pleasant three hour trainwreck of rehearsal and Introduction to Finance, the ultimate backup class. (perhaps i will take Economics of Sport with Sanderson instead. then i'd be with janice and probably simon also.)

please let me get into Regulation of Vice and Seminar on Realism.

in other news i am starting to freak out about my lack of BA ideas. help me. i see duncan tomorrow at 1330.

Monday, March 29, 2004

ah spring quarter

i'm back from spring break and oh what a break it was. =)

sunshineyblazinghot beach in Fort Lauderdale -the one day i just lay like a dead fish on a lounger on the sand, half-shaded by an umbrella, slathered in sunblock SPF 30 so i could tan without peeling, all through the hottest part of the day, or walking on coarse shellcovered sand with water (i could see the bottom and the water was a lovely clear greenyblue) lapping at and over my pinknailpolished toes-; wandering around on the deck of a relatively small cruiseship in heels, seasick in high winds and rough seas, but surviving; walking around Nassau in the Bahamas and tumbling headoverheels in the crashing surf (breakers taller than my head!) on a beach on Paradise Island, where i sunburned in the merciless heat of the noonday sun, unprotected by my (forgotten) sunblock. running around Disneyworld, a three year old all over again, rushing through Space Mountain (twice!) and Splash Mountain in the sun; shooting Zurg in Buzz Lightyear world; taking a child-sized train ride and watching the parade at night, with the lights turned off and Disney lighting up the world. remembering that this -not the rides and the kookiness of daytime Disneyworld- is Disney's magic. and the fireworks late in the night lighting up Cinderella's castle and the entire park, bright as day. wishing on a Disney star.

i had a lot of fun -muchos gracias to vincent for organising our little jaunt- and did some reading and learned to play three-card-draw solitaire on my iPod. (gotta love that machine!) and talked to my cousins for more than an hour on the phone, using my mom's ICC card mercilessly. sorry mom. =)

but now it's back to the old grindstone, spring quarter starts tomorrow. however, the sun is shining -it's HOT!- and the birds are singing, and i should have a four day weekend if all goes well. (in which case i may flake off and go to boston for a weekend, like i've been planning for oh, forever now) so. Spring Quartern 2004, here we come!

Friday, March 19, 2004

i'm done! i'm donei'mdonei'mdone!

ahh the sweet taste of freedom. the last final this morning wasn't half bad, and on the way home i spent a good forty minutes wandering 57th Street Books picking up reading material for spring break. after thoroughly enjoying Banana Yoshimoto's Kitchen at Hanyann's the other afternoon, i picked up N.P, and then added South of the Border, West of the Sun by Murakami to the pile, and finished it off with William Gibson's [Neuromancer] (though i did almost wind up getting Idoru). so there's yet another reason to look forward to spring break.

we leave tomorrow. five pm. woohoo!

update: actually, we leave saturday, becos of a small misunderstanding between kwek our trip architect, and me. but whatever. it's still a week in sunshine, away from this gloom. and SNOW.

Wednesday, March 17, 2004

the government gets more offensive with each passing day

BG Yeo said today that 'If you are not of a certain economic class, you should not even think of going there. You should confine yourself to 4D, Toto or horse racing.'

now i don't know about you, but i find that beyond annoying. it's downright offensive. (of course, tomorrow he is going to come out and complain that he was misquoted. but you know what? i'm not going to believe him either. i didn't believe Dr. Ong -and anyway his 'misquote' was equally offensive in its corrected format.) 'not of a certain economic class'? oh my god. it goes beyond the whole paternalistic argument completely into a different mindset/view of the world. i dislike the fact that our society has 'classes' in it; i dislike even more the fact that a member of the national government should come out and say in the national media that we should codify these class divisions by barring certain economic classes from entry.

going to hell in a handbasket. that's what we're doing.

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

hah! emailed my LRS final paper merrily on its way a little while ago and am done with that class forever! rejoice with me. also finished my last couple of scribbles for Duncan's class, so when those are printed out i can deliver them happily to his office and be done with. then need to study for the final on thursday. such a feeling of relief to have these papers done and ready to be delivered.

not much else to say except i'm really looking forward to spring break and a break from reality for a while. just some sand and some sea and some sunshine, just like home. (i miss the taste of salt in the air and the blast of a sea breeze that doesn't cut you to the bone like the cold sharp air coming off lake michigan. i miss the sound of seagulls taking off in a cloud; the wash of waves against the sand/your feet/the cliffs and rocks. i miss being on the water.) nothing to do but play some games, watch some TV, do some swimming, catch up on some reading. nothing to do but walk around in almost-bare feet, shorts, tank top, sunglasses, getting a good even tan everwhere. turning brown.

looking forward to getting out of Hyde Park and taking a break from everything, if only for a little while.

Sunday, March 14, 2004

The Waddling Kitchen

What to do with a loaf of bread

Good Lord. i'm still full from eating waaay too much at dinnertime, and reading this piece makes me hungry all over again. people on an Atkins diet will disapprove, but seriously, i don't think i know ANYONE who wouldn't be drooling over this lovely series of Things To Do With Bread.

then again, i love bread. in most if not all its incarnations and forms. (asking me to go on an Atkins diet is basically asking me to give up all the food i love in life: bread, pasta/noodles, rice, and all forms of sugar)

mmm. bread.

Blogger appears to be back to normal, so here i am.

just read rae's post over on her blog. which reminded me that by this time tomorrow afternoon, the first one of us Mathewsniks is going to be gone. Sean's graduated, and he's leaving for home tomorrow. next week, he's leaving for Hungary to play chess before he starts law school in the fall. we had -rachel organised- a graduation party-cum-birthday celebration of the march babies party yesterday at her apartment, and it was great. sort of just like old times, when we lived in Mathews and were up at some ungodly hour and just randomly decided to get drunk.

it's going to be weird to think about Sean's not-being-here. not that i see Sean all that much anyway, but it's still going to be strange to think that when next quarter rolls around, he won't be living in the apartment above Morrie's anymore. and it's more than likely that i won't see Sean again. it sounds melodramatic but hey, i live on the other side of the world, really, and what are the odds? and the whole party/graduation thing reminded me that next quarter lots more people are going to graduate, and leave, scattered to the four winds. Rachel, Pstan, Hanyann. some of my favourite people here at the U of C. and then it'll be my final year, and then it'll be my turn to fly away home, across the sea. perhaps for good.

so, in response to rae's comment that '[she] never tells [her] friends how important they are', i have to say that my friends are so very important to me. that they are a huge part of what makes this college life special and irreplaceable and oh so much better than if i had gone to NUS. so different than if i had gone elsewhere. and when they leave for other places and other people in a few months' time, this college life will be something very different for me. it's going to be a strange final year.

Saturday, March 13, 2004

temporary breakdown

blogspot appears to have temporarily lost its mind so i'm posting over at the LJ for now. go here for regularly scheduled service.

Friday, March 12, 2004

they, he, or she?

for people interested in such things (ie. Me) there're a bunch of posts over at Crescat (and links to other trackbacks) that discuss the issue of personal pronouns.

i personally prefer the use of 'he' when i am referring to some hypothetical individual in a hypothetical situation. while i am aware that this convention does not necessarily have a hidden 'and she' in it, ie this convention reflects a male-oriented view of the world, i prefer clarity of expression over gender neutrality. (not that you could tell, from that extremely convoluted sentence.) i dislike the clumsiness of 'he or she', and 'they' followed by a singular verb completely appalls and frustrates my grammarian self. while i am constantly failing to spot the finer mistakes of grammar, the use of 'they' as a singular pronoun always always sets of the Grammar Radar. i find i cannot tolerate it, either in my own writing, or when i see it in someone else's.

of course, there are situations in which i prefer to use the pronoun 'she'. the classic example, of course, is ships. they're all feminine. :) and nations, i tend to refer to as 'she' rather than 'it', despite them being -technically- genderless.

i'm also going to take this opportunity to announce the completion of the Chinese Politics final. i am Done With That Class once the paper slides under Prof. Yang's door tomorrow afternoon. woohoo!

update: i do believe one of my first posts ever on this blog was re: Fong Sai Yuk. i just watched the movie again, having bought the DVD, and it still remains one of my all time favourite chinese movies (well cantonese movies). two beautiful men (good guy: jet li. bad guy: zhao wen zhuo. mmmmmm.) battling it out with awesome gongfu. what else could a girl want, eh?

doin' the Java Jive

i love coffee i love tea
i love the java jive and it loves me
coffee and tea and the java and me
a cup a cup a cup a cup a cup

i love java sweet and hot
oops mr moto i'm a coffee pot
shoot me the pot and i'll pour me a shot
a cup a cup a cup a cup a cup

oh, slip me a slug from the wonderful mug
and I cut a rug till I'm snug in a jug
a slice of onion and a raw one, draw one.

waiter, waiter, percolator!

caffeine high. lack of data. bad for paper. -bouncebounce- need to come up with plausible political crisis china may face in the next year or so. eh. help me.

more selections from the Straits Times

He can get a $10 SingTel card for $8, he said. This buys 24 minutes of toll-free talk-time, at around 33 cents a minute. In contrast, SingTel's BudgetCall 013 costs 87 cents a minute. 'I call my family back home once a day. There are so many shops selling the cards here that they're cheap,' he said.

wow, i learn something crazy every day. how is it 33 cents a minute to call overseas? there is no way, with the telecommunications overcapacity in the world, that this is the -actual- cost of a call. if i can call Singapore from the United States for something approaching 4 cents a minute, how is it that much more expensive to call Bangladesh? shame on you, telecoms companies. -tsktsk-

[oooh final exam 0845-0945 in SS 107 on thursday. 1000 our heads get cut off. wow, i love duncan. he's such a funny man.]

But what happens if that stodgy social climate becomes an impediment to success in the economic world? Talent flows to tolerant cities that embrace diverse value systems and lifestyles. They won't take kindly to Singapore's value-laden rules on who should wear the trousers in the house, its laws on whom one should have sex with and how, and its paternalistic stance on censorship.

aiyee! reasonable criticism from the ST? wow. now if only they would consider the problem of talent flowing OUT of singapore because of 'value-laden rules on who should wear the trousers'...

ok. yesterday my remarks were sparked by a really annoying series of comments made in the ST article by one Dr Ong, and one MP Penny Low. leon has since pointed out that many of the other MPs are making reasonable comments. i take his point - i do tend to overgeneralise and fly off the deep end when i see something that pisses me off. (then again, i was thinking about this yesterday on the way home -and- today during Duncan's class, and i'm not sure that on a personal blog i should feel the need to be fair and considered in my reactions -grin-) and certainly there are good things being put in place re: babies in Singapore that recognise that we have ridiculous 'value-laden rules' -things such as babies born overseas to Singaporean mothers now have the right of citizenship, not just babies born to Singaporean daddies. (and about damn time, i think!) also increasing maternity leave and so forth.

at this point, calm rational Singaporeans like my cousin would point out that i should be grateful that things are changing and it doesn't really matter WHY they're changing. but to me it does matter. it matters to me that the government might be making these concessions not because they have a desire to promote women's rights or deal with issues that women are really concerned with, but because they want more babies who are citizens of our great country. the immigration rules that change allowing foreign men married to Singaporean women to stay in the country can also be a result of the desire to retain population and 'talent' (foreign = ang moh = talent -makes face-) rather than any real desire to change the underlying value system which the government clearly stated in 1993 is 'the way our society is structured. It would be unwise to tamper with that structure.'

hanyann just complained that she never makes it onto my blog. -grin- so i HAVE to quote this. she just told me, re: my complaining that i didn't want to write my paper, to 'blah the shit out' and get it over with. there. satisfied? -grin-

Thursday, March 11, 2004

good grief

It's your 'duty' to procreate

Carrots alone won't work; it's time for the stick, say several MPs, who want pressure put on married couples who don't want babies

By Tee Hun Ching

HAVING babies is a duty. Make that a duty to self, society and country.

Alarmed? You should be, if you are married and have no desire to procreate. MPs like Dr Ong Seh Hong (Aljunied GRC) want to pump up the social pressure on such people whom he described as 'irresponsible'. Yesterday, even as their counterparts continued pushing for carrots such as a five-day work week and cash incentives, Dr Ong and several MPs suggested it was also time to use the stick. Indeed, the MPs argued passionately that procreation was a responsibility that people should fulfil regardless of sweeteners.

Adopting the most hardline stance among them all, Dr Ong emphasised traditional Asian values as he dismissed the common refrain that family planning is a personal decision. Declared the father of three: 'Procreation is not only the duty of everyone, but also the responsibility of every citizen towards his family, parents, society and country.' Those 'irresponsible' people who shun the stork, he said, should realise they would become a liability to the society in future. To prevent this, he suggested making this group bear the costs of their old age by having them contribute to an account he called the 'Preventive Eldercare Account'. The money in this account would then provide for their needs when they are old.

He said he believed that Chinese philosopher Mencius' words on filial piety - 'bu xiao you san, wu hou wei da' - still has relevance today. Translated, it means that 'of the three instances of unfilial behaviour, not having descendants is the worst'.

Mr Gan Kim Yong (Holland-Bukit Panjang GRC) also held out a Chinese phrase for those naysayers against children to ponder over - ai qing the jie jing. It means a baby is the product of love. Marriage and having children came naturally to people of his generation without too much cost-benefit analysis, noted the 45-year-old father of two. 'Sure, there were problems and difficulties, but they add colour and richness to life. If you ask parents today, few of them would regret having babies despite all the difficulties,' he said. He suggested an annual Love Campaign to add spark to the lives of young couples and help them appreciate the joy and fulfilment of having a family. 'It is like driving a car. We have the best engine, the lubricant is new and the tank is full. But when we turn the key, the engine does not come on because there is no spark in the chamber,' he said.

Dr Ong went a step further and proposed an all-out media blitz to promote family values. Such messages, he said, could be transmitted through TV dramas 'highlighting the sorry plight of a childless old couple and the great problems faced by an ageing society'.

Joining in the chorus of MPs who lamented the erosion of values that led to having children being viewed less as a duty than a personal choice was Ms Penny Low (Pasir Ris-Punggol), who is single. She said while children were a status symbol of sorts in the past, the reverse is true today. The MP, who admitted she faced pressures to get married especially during Chinese New Year from well-meaning relatives, said: 'In the not-so-distant past, we had less to eat and wear, but we had more children to show. Today, we analyse and analyse the cost until we become paralysed by it.'

the more often i read the local newspaper the more disgusted i am by the quality of the reporting/writing; the kinds of things they deem news, and unfortunately, the kind of things that come out of our politicians's mouths. (i've seen local papers from small towns in the middle of nowhere Podunk, USA that sound almost exactly like our venerable Straits Times, but with better writing. sheesh.) i'm almost ready to say that if they are going to apply 'social pressure' to me to have kids the moment i get married (or what about before, that should make them happy...that i get a 'headstart' on my 'national service'), then screw them. not only am i not going to have any kids for the sake of the government, i'm not even going to stay in that damn country. it's beyond infuriating. (i am going to die early of an anger-induced heart attack thanks to these clowns. geeeez.)

'procreation was a responsibility that people should fulfil regardless of sweeteners' indeed. bah. i certainly don't see it as a responsibility to have kids. (even if i do, i shouldn't.) having kids is a choice that every couple should make on their own, weighing their own costs and benefits, weighing their own ability to care for a child, not just financially but emotionally. having a child is a huge responsibility -not in the way dear Dr. Ong means it- but the responsbility is not to -society-, it's to the child you bring into the world. as if there weren't enough children in this world who are starved not just for food and water and a roof over their heads, but for the love and support that parents should (and all too often fail to) provide. as if there weren't already enough children who share a house with their parents, but have never had a conversation with their parents about something other than how well they are doing in school; have never felt that their parents love them as people and not as little extensions of themselves, a tabula rasa that their parents can make in the image of the person they always wanted to be but couldn't. does the government even care about that, or is all they want increasing birthrates so they can reach their all-too-often mentioned target of a 4mil population on our little rock in the middle of the sea?

to digress a little: someone needs to remind our MPs that 4mil is very crowded indeed. they should be banned from their fancy cars and pretty houses; and made to live in a three room HDB flat and have to take public transport to work every day. (ok, so i don't live in a three room HDB flat. but i don't drive to town/work/the country club either) once they've spent a week fighting rush-hour commuter traffic on the buses and MRT trains (and even the NEL is getting crowded on weekdays during rush hour), they'll understand a little better what it's like to have 4 mil people on this island. it's not a matter of having to sit in the back of your mercedes a little longer on the CTE. it's being unable to breathe, or move, or sneeze in the train on the way home; it's being forced to stand 45 min on a bus driven by a crazed maniac with a lead foot surrounded by strangers who are all trying very hard not to put their hands in sensitive places. try that for a change, mr MP. see if -you- want 4 million people on our little piece of rock then. (i understand that they are obsessed with the idea of a 'critical mass'. but i doubt not only the rationale behind it but also their ability to squeeze this many people on this little space. it's like squeezing one of those hand-exercise ball things filled with sand, you know? the harder you squeeze, the more bits of the sand-wrapped-in-elastic come squooshing out between your fingers. and then the ball explodes in your face.)

but to return: 'a baby is the product of love' -in the sense that sex results in babies, yes. that's all you can really say for it, if you put pressure on people to produce children they might or might not want. because of the exogenous carrot, and the all too familiar government-society stick. (as if our parents weren't enough 'social pressure' as it is. i don't know about MP Low, but -my- mother certainly wants lots of grandkids, and despairs of my brother ever giving her any's up to me. gah, i'm going to adopt.)

but most of all i resent the fact that the government thinks that it has the right to intrude beyond the front doors and grilles of our homes, and make what should be personal, carefully considered decisions on our behalf; that the government can use the media to 'blitz' us, can take over our privately-produced television shows/stations and demand that they serve the greater purpose of reproduction by showing us depressing images of abandoned old people with no children, and an aging population dying joyless and alone in their beds. i resent the fact that the government thinks it has control over the way we think. that the government always knows best what is good and right for us, not only as a political entity, but as individuals. that they try and coerce us into doing things they think is good for the country by making it sound like it's the best thing in the world for us, as people.

most of the time i can forget that i signed on with these people, this system. most of the time i think about the kids who are struggling through an education system that stifles their potential, and the people who live in three-room HDB flats who care passionately about their communities, and their country. About the people who stand in line for hours to watch the National Day Parade, and sing the national anthem with lots of pride and joy in their hearts, because they believe in this country. but try as i might, i can't forget -looking from the outside in- that our country is run by paternalistic or ineffectual men and women who pretend to know what's best for me. and it makes me wonder all over again whether i made the right choice three years ago when i signed that piece of paper. people assume that i'm a stayer, but who knows? in years to come, life on our tiny little rock may become all too stifling, and i may up stakes and 'quit', and move to more hospitable climes.

where the newspapers write in complete sentences, with commas in the right places, with more than one sentence per paragraph, about -real- news.

* the format of the article has been edited to make it more readable. damn straits times interactive thinks that every sentence should be a paragraph by itself. did no one take them to grammar school as children?

update: for a look on the funny side, go to Talking Cock's take on the government's new baby policy!

Wednesday, March 10, 2004

Chief Justice Explains Himself

CJ explains why he cut sentence in oral sex case

i know the link will disappear in a couple of days, so here's the text:

There was 'striking disparity' between ex-cop's two-year term and those given to other men for sex with underage girls

By Selina Lum

THE sentence for 'unnatural' oral sex with a young person should not be too different from that of someone who has 'ordinary' sex with a girl below the age of 16, the Chief Justice has ruled.

He did so in his written reasons for halving the two-year jail term in the much-publicised case of Annis Abdullah, 27, a former police sergeant who had oral sex with a 15-year-old girl.

In a 31-page judgment released yesterday, CJ Yong Pung How said Annis' two-year punishment was manifestly excessive.

He also noted a 'striking disparity' between Annis' sentence and those generally given to men who have had sex with underage girls.

But he acknowledged that the two offences are different. Sex with a girl under the age of 16 years is an offence under the Women's Charter; oral sex falls within Section 377 of the Penal Code.

However, both are deemed criminal offences, he said, to protect young victims from being exploited through sexual activities, whether natural or otherwise.

'In this light... there should not be an overly large disparity between sentences under the two provisions.'

Under the Women's Charter, a man who has sex with a girl under the age of 16 faces up to five years' jail and a maximum $10,000 fine.

In 2001, the CJ set the benchmark for such offences at one year in prison when he sentenced a 45-year-old married man who had sex with a girl 30 years his junior.

Oral sex offenders can be sentenced to life imprisonment.

However, the age difference between the victim and accused, as well as the victim's age, are significant when it comes to sentencing such offenders, said the CJ.

It was the clear policy of Parliament, he said, to criminalise sexual activity involving girls under 16 years old. This principle should be extended to oral sex.

Consent is irrelevant when it comes to young victims, as young girls may not be mature enough to make decisions about their own sexuality. So the law must step in.

At Annis' appeal three weeks ago, the prosecution had argued there was 'little difference in the moral culpability' of a person who has sex, rather than unnatural sex, with a young girl.

In his written reasons, CJ Yong described Annis' original two-year jail term as 'problematic', as in 2000, a man who broke into a woman's home and forced her at knifepoint to perform oral sex on him was jailed a year for the offence.

The district judge who sentenced Annis had erred in concluding that the 'starting point' for oral sex with a young victim was 'in the region of five years' jail.

The judge had relied on cases in which those who were accused exploited their young victims. But Annis was not in the same league.

'Each case will turn on its own unique facts, and the court must always be mindful of this.'

He said the judge had also erred in imposing a deterrent sentence because Annis was a police officer.

The offence was unrelated to his status, said the CJ, and there was no evidence Annis had used his position to coerce the girl.

A deterrent sentence may not be warranted if an officer offends outside the scope of his duties and does not abuse his position to commit the offence, he added.

He also dismissed Annis' argument that the girl had been intimate with him of her own volition.

It was Annis who had asked the girl for oral sex in his car after she declined to have sex with him, he pointed out.

Said CJ Yong: 'Even if the victim was sexually experienced or promiscuous... it is established law that this is wholly irrelevant in sentencing.' -- Additional reporting by Maria Almenoar

-rolls eyes-

why don't we just lump this all under 'protecting the underage' -since she clearly is- and remove the word 'unnatural' from our penal code? i still find that word completely bizarre. CJ, go do your job right and review the outdated, extremely-full-of-british-madness criminal code, all right?

in other news, i read shereen's post about flooding and rain, and i was unconvinced that it was that terrible (remember, i haven't been home for the monsoons in years, plus it really hasn't been all that bad in recent years, right?). but i wandered onto the ST Online minutes ago (professor yang is talking about the death penalty and death by lethal injection instead of being shot in the back of the head by the army) and found this article with scarylooking pictures of cars driving through a foot of water. while i can understand that things were pretty nasty for businesses and people driving around in cars, the three-year-old in me was jumping up and down wanting to know if she could go walk through a foot of rainwater in the streets in her sandals and shorts, because paddling through puddles is So Much Fun. oh man, i wanna play in the rain. -grin-

Tuesday, March 09, 2004

i'm pleased to report that despite the abuse i put it through last night, my debit card still works. i managed to withdraw ten bucks from the ATM, and that's really all i ever need it to do. yay. =)

Monday, March 08, 2004

this is cool

southpark fans, ever imagine yourself in an episode? wanna see what you'd look like in southparkworld? give it a whirl. i'll show you what i look like, once i figure out how.

i've discovered something that most of you already know: i'm a complete and total idiot. guess what i did today. laundry. seemingly normal, harmless, everyday task, right? wrong. i put my debit card through not just the washer but also the dryer. it tumbled happily in there with my sweaters, pants, linings of winter coats, that sort of stuff, for half an hour. now it's slightly bent out of shape, and who knows if it still works? we'll find out tomorrow. stay tuned. -grin-

mood: growly

update: i've just finished writing the first draft of my duncan-paper (3900 words! woohoo!) and the second draft of my LRS paper on free trade. hopefully the argument is tighter this time around. bah. why can't people just believe in free trade and do everything it requires and then sit around and enjoy the benefits i don't know. oh wait. Mark Twain said it best: 'i'm all for progress; it's change i don't like'. anyways. so i'm off to take a break. shop on eBay. (dad! buy me anime? -googly eyes-) shop on amazon. (bought the latest hardcover terry pratchett for five bucks. gotta love amazon. it's putting my local bookstore out of business. that and the Borders that opened up on 53rd street, where the crazies hang out now. outside the store, not inside it.) go to church. things like that. and watch some more Full Metal Panic -- i'd forgotten i have it! was watching it last night/this morning. i love that show. =)

and shereen: i'm wearing the donkey on the left ear and the elephant on the right. it looks unbalanced and funny, but also cool. -grin-

/update, begin previous detail-filled post:

went out on spur-of-the-moment shoe-shopping-and-dinner excursion downtown with alex last night. while the shoe shopping was moderately successful (i have new fire-engine-red strappy sandals), i didn't get the ankle boots that i really wanted, to replace my semi-worn out pair that i bought shortly before coming out here to chicago. (eun's influence. she bought a pair, and they were so cool i wanted my own pair. so i got them. and i love them.) they've still got some wear in them, so there's no real rush to get a new pair, esp since the only pair i liked last night was sixty bucks. =)

then we went to dinner at Bennigans, where i once again had their excellent chicken strips, and alex went all out and had half a rack of babybackribs. mmmmm. they were taaaaasty. and the Irish Lemonade is also good stuff. =) at least, i liked it. -grin- after dinner, things started to not go so well. we wandered back to the 6 stop on jackson, which incidentally is right outside a Garrett's (probably misspelled) Popcorn, which was open. since we both love caramel popcorn, alex popped in to get some to eat while we waited -an interminably long time- for the bus. when the bus finally came, crowded as hell with hyde park revellers including a bunch of unfortunately shrill and noisy high school kids (argh i hate them all), we leapt gratefully on, and grabbed a handrail. then things rapidly deteriorated. alex started feeling extremely sick and faint. ten seconds later, i followed suit - to the point where i was chalk-white, drenched in sweat, seeing bright sparkly lights and on the verge of throwing up on the nice couple seated right in front of me, oblivious to my distress. (i should have thrown up on them.) and before anyone says something about my being unable to hold my liquor, let me tell you, i've never reacted this badly to half a glass of beer with a full meal, and i totally managed to walk several blocks in heels in a straight line without falling over, so it wasn't that. alex, by this point, was practically sitting on the floor, trying not to pass out/throw up.

a few minutes later, we hit Lake Shore (thankfully) and the bus driver just floors the accelerator back to hyde park (they don't get speeding tickets? we were totally doing more than 35 mph) so we're back inside of ten minutes. then the nice couple gets off at the first stop, and we thankfully sit down. i'm regaining feeling in my extremeties and the bright sparkly lights have gone away. but i'm still in pretty crappy shape, and alex is totally out of it. gah. at this point my befuddled mind finally realises the cause of our distress: mild food poisoning of some kind. goddamm garrett's popcorn. (though frankly, i'd forgotten we had any, and was ready to call Bennigans and demand my money back for feeding me 'tainted' food)

luckily we make it back to my apartment without much further distress, though my brother does call me to wish me a belated happy birthday at a most inopportune moment, and i have to tell him to go away because i am about to collapse. and collapse we did. -shudder- remind me never to eat Garrett's again. (ok, you know that's not going to happen, i like their stuff too much. but never again late at night before they close up anyway)

so that was my exciting night. -grimace- lucky for us, there are no seriously unpleasant aftereffects; a good night's sleep (at least for me) took care of it. now i'm back to work in the Reg writing more interminably long papers -sigh- why is the weekend so short?

Saturday, March 06, 2004

one more post before bedtime: the second part of my birthday gift from alex arrived today. he got me two pairs of earrings: one pair of donkeys and one pair of elephants. -grins- so that i can wear a donkey in my left ear and an elephant in my right...=)

i've been looking for donkeys and elephants for a long time. this is the coolest gift yet! (cooler than the iPod!)

FOX's national IQ test on tv... a farce. there are questions on it that are in no way objective. they require subjective interpretation and as such make very poor multiple-choice questions. pah. of course, it's FOX we are talking about so what can i expect, right? (that said, i scored exactly the same as i did last year, when we were all sitting around in the mathews house lounge screaming at the tv. looks like at the very least i haven't gotten more stupid)

finished reading the Goldstones' Used and Rare: Travels in the Book World and was pleasantly charmed. think i made it through the entire book in one day, which is something i haven't done in a long time. (well with anything other than crappy romance novels, which i zoom through post-haste when i am sick in bed and have a headache too bad to deal with real books) it's worth a read if you are any kind of bibliophile or collector of books. =) am contemplating getting their next book, Slightly Chipped: Footnotes in Booklore, but the reviews don't seem encouraging. perhaps i will investigate the book in the store before committing myself to buying a copy off Amazon. (no giving the Barnes and Noble any money. that's just sick)

also contemplating a lovely little book i picked up in the Sem Co-op today. it's Elected Friends: Robert Frost and Edward Thomas to One Another, and it's a book from another time. or it feels like that. because it's a collection of the letters the two authors wrote to each other - about their works, and about the people they knew in common and stuff like that. i'm a big fan of reading collections of letters (and published journals like those of Sylvia Plath, though one of these days i am going to get an edition that wasn't edited by Ted Hughes. i don't trust the man.) and diaries. but letters are cooler than diaries, because they really are a two-way conversation. it's fascinating to watch the back-and-forth between the two men as they talk about their work and the travails of getting/being published. so perhaps i shall get a copy of amazon, though i'll feel bad for not giving the Sem Co-op (already desperately in the red) any of my money. but i can get it online for half the price...

morals vs. my rapidly dwindling bank account.

for everyone who enjoyed the pingu hitting game, here's another version that requires vaguely more skill and makes more funny noises, over at YETI SPORTS.

in other news, it transpires that i am somehow, oddly enough (it must be the shoes question), a Trendy Sheep.

Which flock do you follow?

this quiz was made by alanna

salutations and congratulations

congratulations are due to my very own clever girl cousin, Joanne, who scored 4 As in her A levels and what appears to be a Distinction in Math S paper. (i assume it's a D; my mother called it 'another A') woohoo!

Friday, March 05, 2004

i owe a bunch of people thank-you emails for sending me birthday wishes, but since the university's email system has conveniently chosen today to go down yet AGAIN, it will have to wait. if you sent me a birthday email and haven't received a reply: thank you and this is why you haven't received a reply.

it was a reasonably good birthday, all in all. -grin- despite the fact that i spent a lot of it sick as a dog. (no, it was not a consequence of partying too hard last night) i have a cold. woke up in the middle of the night with the full-on body aches like someone had been beating me with a huge stick. and of course i stubbornly refused to take a painpill (at least til two in the afternoon) so i just shivered my way through several hours of the early morning, finally managing to fall back asleep approximately ten minutes before the gas people and their blasted jackhammers start drilling into the street outside my place. (the same people who have been doing that all week as a result of last week's 'accident' with the gas pipe leading to my building) anyways, i spent most of the morning sleeping in, while alex cooked me breakfast and made me tea. he really is the best. =) (i also slept through all my classes - i only woke up to eat, and then to take painpills and go back to sleep. oh and we watched last night's West Wing somewhere in there too.)

and then i slept some more, til mom's call in the middle of the afternoon. yay! i thought she'd forgotten all about my birthday. it turns out that she'd intended to call in the morning, but had fallen asleep (just as well, since this morning i would undoubtedly have laid in bed and whimpered about how i was shivering, everything hurt, and i wanted to cry; and when asked if i had taken anything for the cold, would have had to answer 'no, because i'm stubbornly stupid'). shortly after, dad calls, and we have a nice long chat about my bro's progress Down Under. seems he is doing well in everything but some weirdass difficult math class. rock on, bro! kick that class's butt. (we all hate math. but don't forget, doing well in it is the best revenge for it kicking your ass earlier)

and the day wound up with dinner at Pizza Capri with Hanyann. we spent a long time there -- i think the wait staff were on the verge of kicking us out when we finally go to her place so she can pack for Nationals (she leaves tomorrow) while we bullshit some more about med schools and Teach For America, which she's in the interview process for. =) so that's all good. Good Luck, babe. kick some butt!

all that said, it's now time for me to get my aching body back into bed. so more from me tomorrow. hopefully the damn email will be back up and running by then. grrrr. ciao!

P/S. Dan, ol' man - i'm sorry to read about the bitch-thing going on back home. =( hang in there, ok? i know you love that school of yours, and it SUCKS ASS that someone is ruining it for you. -hug- keep me updated with what's going on, and if necessary i bet eun and i would totally join shereen in some kneecap-breaking, letting-air-out-of-tires illicit activity. hang tight, big bro. -hug-

Thursday, March 04, 2004


it's late and i need sleep -esp after the muscato and my first taste of Jaegermeister- but before i do, i just want a send a HUGE thank you to everyone who came to the surprise party tonight. and most of all:

alex, you're the best. =) thanks dear. -muak-

so. the Big 22 approaches. to celebrate, i'm gonna cut duncan's class tomorrow and sleep in. woohoo! more from me in the morning.

Wednesday, March 03, 2004


today was Super Tuesday, and it's gonna be Kerry. one simple, heartfelt wish: kerry, beat bush.

how remiss of me: i've left out the Drudge Report from my links sidebar. the situation has now been rectified. just in time for Super Tuesday, too. in other random news, i received my first birthday card today, from claire =) it was a nice surprse and it has a princess kitty on the front cover. -grin- i love it.

my LRS paper on free trade was sort of kind of torn apart in critique session today, and deservedly so, i think. clearly i'm not convinced enough of the arguments behind free trade to be able to persuade some entrenched anti-free-trader to switch over to my side. my only hope is to get the guys who are closet-free-traders. =) it doesn't help that duncan pointed out to us in class today that despite the seductive elegance of free trade theory, which almost compells us against our will to believe in it with all our hearts, the empirical evidence for said benefits is sort of weak. i blame that on the fact that our version of free trade in no way reflects the kind of free trade that trade theory/comparative advantage talks about. (transportation costs, though low, still exist. and barriers to trade exist everywhere, in the most entrenched industries, but also the industries that we could benefit most from removing trade barriers in. agriculture, for one.)

that said, sarah K helpfully pointed out that i needed a more concrete example of free trade, like 'children being able to have shoes that fit at prices their parents can afford'; and keren's pointing out that 'we don't really want to be paying 40,000 dollars for a crappy car' (to which i almost responded 'yes! i do! because...because that's not really that expensive to me!' but my ideas about car prices are seriously warped by the COEs) so the argument is going to get a radical makeover sometime between now and next monday.

(1) put an anecdote about how somebody somewhere got something he otherwise wouldn't have because of free trade in the introduction (thanks again to sarah k);
(2) put concrete made-up examples about the benefits of free trade to 'real' people in my comparative advantage, while simultaneously pulling out the theory-hat and talking about 'diffuse cost/concentrated benefit' being the reason we have labour unions campaigning to keep the american car firms in business.

on the other hand, looking at information helpfully summarised and pointed out on Dan. Drezner's blog, it might well be that trade policy is taking an entirely new direction with the rise of NAFTA. i do believe that NAFTA rules will only allow goods that are (some large percentage) made in a NAFTA country to be traded customs-free within NAFTA. the Japanese car companies have a simple solution to that: set up shop in detriot. if my memory doesn't fail me, the numbers i looked at over the summer at the Fed seem to suggest that the Japanese car companies are rapidly expanding in the domestic market and they are still making better, cheaper cars here despite the higher cost of labour. now why did i decide to talk about that?

(3) take out the whole human rights violations argument, and point out instead that some of the major objections we have like CEOs making outrageous bonuses and MNCs making enormous profits can be addressed ways other than cutting off their access to cheaper labour markets. i'm not sure how. perhaps i'll just have to point out that it's just another way free trade makes everyone better off --after all, the theory doesn't suggest that everyone will gain the same amount, only that the sum total of good stuff in the world will increase. it says nothing about distribution of gains. (oh damn, does this make it yet another tiresome relative gains problem? goddamit!)

(note to self: figure out how trackback works, since you have it on the page already)

now i'm hungry again, so it's time to -once again- fix myself something to eat. oh! and i won another free iTune in today's diet pepsi. (without cheating, i might add -looks at adrian- looks like my luck is improving) and i also noticed that the coolers in the B-school cafe hold the 20oz bottles of bothCoke and Pepsi. i thought that wasn't allowed?

Tuesday, March 02, 2004

very tired and sleepy. need about twelve hours of sleep. and food. really hungry. -sigh-

you know it's gonna be a bad day when you're falling asleep at 10am, in the middle of duncan's class...

congratulations are due to one mr. paul staniland, who today received his acceptance to UC-SD. imagine this -- sunshine and warmth this time of year next year. far away from here. well done, pstan. -grin-

update: add MIT to that rapidly expanding list of acceptances. -grin-


Longer than there've been fishes in the ocean
Higher than any bird ever flew
Longer than there've been stars up in the heaven
I've been in love with you

Stronger than any mountain cathedral
Truer than any tree ever grew
Deeper than any forest primeval
I am in love with you

I'll bring fire in the winter
You'll send showers in the springs
We'll fly through the falls and summers
With love on our wings

Through the years as the fire starts to mellow
Burning lines in the book of our lives
Though the binding cracks and the pages start to yellow
I'll be in love with you

Same Old Auld Lang Syne

met my old lover in the grocery store
the snow was falling christmas eve
i stole behind her in the frozen foods
and i touched her on the sleeve
she didn't recognise the face at first
but then her eyes flew open wide
she went to hug me and she spilled her purse
and we laughed until we cried

took her groceries to the checkout stand
the food was totalled up and bagged
we stood there lost in our embarrassment
as the conversation dragged
went to have ourselves a drink or two
but couldn't find an open bar
bought a six-pack at the liquor store and we drank in her car

we drank a toast to innocence
we drank a toast to now
tried to reach beyond the emptiness
but neither one knew how

she said she married her an architect
kept her warm and safe and dry
she would have liked to say she loved the man
but she didn't want to lie
i said the years had been a friend to her
that her eyes were still as blue
in those eyes i wasn't sure if i saw doubt or gratitude
she said she saw me in the record stores
and that i must be doing well
i said the audience was heavenly but the travelling was hell

we drank a toast to innocence
we drank a toast to now
tried to reach beyond the emptiness
but neither one knew how
we drank a toast to innocence
we drank a toast to time
reliving in our eloquence
another auld lang syne

the beer was empty and our tongues were tired
running out of things to say
she gave a kiss to me as i got out
and i watched her drive away
just for a moment i was back at school
and felt that old familiar pain
and as i turned to make my way back home
the snow turned into rain

double rainbow!

because i'm lazy and because it's raining, i'm not going to pilates class this afternoon as previously planned. (it's much harder to make it there when there's no one to force me to go, ie Hanyann is working in the lab and won't be there tonight) it's one of those spring-is-coming sudden rainshowers (thunderstorm, the weather forecast calls it, as if we could have real thunderstorms before summer hits us), blowing up out of nowhere in a clear sky and showering us with semi-cold rain that's oddly refreshing -and extremely damp. hence the desire not to be outside. it's probably over by now, but now i'm too lazy to leave the apartment again. (i got all the way downstairs and out the front door before i realised it was raining)

but while i was on my way out the front door, i looked up, and hanging in the sky in front of me was a double rainbow. this must be the second time in my entire life i can remember seeing a double rainbow. one is terribly, wonderfully clear - i can see at least five colours instead of my usual miserable three- and the second, a shadowy echo of the first hovering just above it in the air, not so clear -maybe an echo of three or so colours. but distinctly a rainbow nonetheless.

that just made my day.

now i'm gonna go back to writing this duncan-paper (progress is being made, slowly but surely) after taking a break to (a) watch the Simpsons -it's so strange to watch the Simpsons while the sky is still bright! Spring definitely Cometh- and (b) read some more Naked Economics. Wheelan might not be the sharpest tack in the academic-economists box, but he sure is entertaining! (oh, and somewhere in there i guess i might make myself a tuna sandwich. mmm.)

oh joyous morning

this appeared in my mailbox just a couple of minutes ago:

I decided we have enough money in our budget to purchase new Brahms scores.  They will arrive next week so until they are all here, we will concentrate on SWEENEY and the saber dance.

See you Wednesday.

Randi Von Ellefson

now i know this seems out of the blue to many peeps, but those of you who are choral singers will understand my pain. Motet is doing Brahms's Liebeslieder Waltzes (yes, all 18 of them, apparently) in the german for our spring concert. however, the old crappy edition that we are using not only has tons of printing errors ranging from missing/extra-and-bizzare accidentals to completely misprinted notes and text. on top of that, although originally in German, the edition for some unknown and completely offputting reason has the english translation printed ABOVE the german text. now imagine sightsinging a completely new waltz while desperately trying to remind yourself to read the SECOND line of text, in a FOREIGN language. -moan- by the end of the first song i wanted to shoot whoever had set this edition in the head. by the end of the fifth song i wanted to hang him by his toenails from a ceiling fan and turn it on. it only gets more violent from there on out.

so now imagine my joy upon hearing that Randi is getting us new scores! and we no longer have to use the crappy old sixty-five cent editions! (yes that is how old they are)

oh, advance advertisment to all U of C folks -- for our superduperextralong spring concert, we are doing excepts from Sweeney Todd, and a cool Romanian piece (RJ choir folks, if any of you read this: it's the takatakataka song -grin- Sabra Dance on a Chair), as well as the Libeslieder Waltzes and some pieces from the winter quarter concert that no one got to watch becos we were at Knox College in Galesburg, IL. -grin- come listen to us rhapodise a Dying Sun in Lauridson's Midwinter Songs (a very perculiar setting of Robert Graves's equally perculiar poems on winter) drink some coffee before you come, is my advice. it's gonna be long. ahhh randi. (leann's petitioning to throw some of the songs out, hopefully it'll be successful)

update on the progress of my paper writing: i have officially thrown up my hands and turned in the crappy first draft for the LRS paper, though reading Naked Economics has oddly enough given me some ideas on where to go with the paper for real (muchos gracias, mr. staniland). the Duncan paper (as i shall refer to it from now on) is about halfway through in first draft, ie rapidly approaching 2000 words. whoopee!

i think i feel justified in taking a break and having lunch and going to pilates this evening. yay!

Monday, March 01, 2004

ah, the oscars

i wasted several hours of my life sitting in front of our tiny tv this evening, watching the award show for this year's Oscars. as expected, The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King did extremely well -i was particularly pleased that they got best song, becos i really like the chorus-y part- which leads me to wonder why i watched the award ceremony at all. my favourite part is the red carpet, and that's over in like half an hour before they even start. i could've done so much more work, and just tuned in for the last ten min to see who won best picture -as if there would be any surprise there.

in other news, LRS is still kicking my ass, but i have reached the point where i am just ready to turn in the damn thing without a conclusion. it's a draft, after all. it doesn't have to be a finished, polished masterpiece. (i would just like it to be.) and i'm starting, slowly and laboriously, to outline and to write duncan's final paper. -groan- having read what i was supposed to read over the weekend from The Rational Design of International Institutions, i have discovered that my paper -which was turned in last tuesday- is once again quite quite inadequate but oh well. it's not my fault this time -duncan didn't get to where he was supposed to have gotten before we had to write that blasted paper! anyways, things make a lot more sense and i think i can steam along pretty easily once i get into write-mode.

which means tomorrow, hitting the reg with the iBook, and blasting music happily from the iPod. ah, march. it's finally here. (it was a positively balmy 15C today! people were out on the bartlett quad lying on the dead brown grass in the afternoon sunshine. i really wanted to lie out there too, but there are -how inconvenient!- no power outlets in the middle of the barlett (or any other) quad for me to charge my batteries off of. booo. and tomorrow it promises rain. well today, really, since it's past midnight. bedtime.)