Wednesday, August 31, 2005

the Peanut lives!

reading OGIC's post in About Last Night, with its reference to Bean Central Time brought on a little pang of homesickness - because i never got to see the Bean/Peanut unveiled in its glory before i left, but can imagine the glorious vision of the Chicago skyline and the lakeshore and the peculiarly intense blue of the summer sky reflected in its oddly shaped surface, and it is gorgeous. (the Peanut was still having its seams polished away when i left, in June.)

summer has come and passed
the innocent can never last
wake me up when september ends

as my memory rests
but never forgets what i lost
wake me up when september ends


Wake Me Up When September Ends, Greenday, American Idiot

reading about Katrina's effect on the Gulf Coast of the US rouses quite a different set of emotions - i feel more and more these days like some sort of honourary American (disloyal, i know, but there you have it - and yes, you can stop laughing now, you know who you are -- -wink-), and hearing about the death and destruction this Cat 3 storm (Cat 4, when she hit louisiana) has left in her wake is quite horrifying. add to that the fact that i've been to new orleans and like the city very much, and it makes me extremely sad (and angry, but what is the point of being mad at a natutal disaster?) that this has befallen them.

from the Times:

Peter Teahen, the national spokesman for the American Red Cross, said: "We are looking now at a disaster above any magnitude that we've seen in the United States. We've been saying that the response is going to be the largest Red Cross response in the history of the organization."

Friday, August 26, 2005

gainful employment

hello darlings,

it's official, i have a job. in fact, i have The Job. those of you who've been listening to me whine on and off for the last few months can heave a sigh of relief; i certainly did. after hanging up the phone and doing a victory hop. Mindef does indeed want me, so that's where i'll be headed. soon. i don't know when. whenever we find our middle ground between "ASAP" and "i want to start in mid-september". no doubt i will hear from the HR dept soon enough.

MFA also called to schedule an interview, despite PSC supposedly informing them that i'm no longer available for employment. it's gratifying to know that i did get nibbles from all the major players i was interested in. gives me hope for the future. -grin-

and now on to the newly important issue of -- how am i going to get to work? (i am still carless; and we are in the middle of a what-car-to-get knock-down-drag-out fight - i think i shd have veto power, since i'll be driving it and my brother hasn't got a licence yet!)

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

a mixed bag

the Economist's City Briefing on Singapore plonked in my (e)mailbox this afternoon, and there are some absolute gems you should all read (possibly sans snarky commentary from one J., but as eun pointed out a week or so ago, i've gotten snarkier with age. so the odds are low that post will be snark-free.). before that, however, i must tell everyone about my spectacular morning.

(by the way, i'm listening to Corrinne May's album, Fly Away, which my dear alex bought for me. she's not bad, not bad at all. lyrics perhaps could do with some work. but the voice -- not bad at all. :) and an RGS girl to boot! do we all sound like Kit Chan, do you think? -plaintive sigh-)

so i had an interview with PSD this morning at 11, at the Treasury. we leave my place a little early to avoid the impending rain (i had the last minute sense to stick an umbrella in the bag) and get to city hall mrt to find that (a) i'm half an hour early and (b) it's freaking POURING with rain out. so what else could we do but wander along to Ya Kun and have breakfast, right? only when the time comes for me to leave for the Treasury, it's still pouring out. monsoon-rain-type pouring. now those of you who don't live in the tropics, and more importantly, in Singapore, are sitting there wondering what the big deal is -it's just some rain over a walk approximately five minutes in duration. well - within the first thirty seconds -ie the time it took me to walk from the door of the shopping mall to the first pedestrian crossing- my snazzy pants were soaked to the knee, and water was rapidly dripping down the back of my jacket. -grin- forget the shoes.

i was late, of course. but once they saw my chicken-caught-out-in-the-rain look -very chic, i know- all the HR people very kindly fussed and insisted i go dry myself off and catch my breath -they packed the panellists off on a break while i did all i could to make myself presentable again. however, after all this big fuss and hoohah, my interview was seriously ten minutes long, possibly less. -sigh- then it was back out into the cold rainy world, having gotten into my snazzy togs less than two hours before.

hitting the road again, i knew something was wrong. but it wasn't until i had walked the same five minute walk back to the shopping mall and stopped inside after nearly killing myself falling several times that i realised i'd lost the sole of one of my (newly resoled) heels. (not the toe part, but the tiny little rubber part attached to the bottom of the narrow almost-stiletto heel...), and had been walking, essentially, on the point of a nail. how's that for fantastic balance?

so what could i do but throw up my hands and buy a new pair of sandals? (for seven bucks, so i don't feel so bad. i needed something heeled, for the pants would be too long for the three-dollar flipflops...)

ok. interview, so-so; morning, fraught with disaster. on to the Economist briefing:

No Contest

Singapore’s president, S.R. Nathan, said last month that he would welcome opponents in the election on August 27th, having been the sole candidate in 1999’s “race”. But though three men did apply to run for the presidency—a ceremonial but influential post—a government-appointed committee deemed each of them “ineligible” on August 13th. None met Singapore’s strict qualifications, which require a candidate to have been the chief executive of a large company or have held a senior government post.

Mr Nathan’s most serious opponent would have been Andrew Kuan, a former finance executive for a state-run industrial real-estate company. Mr Kuan had promised to make the presidency more transparent, claiming that his candidacy would test Singapore’s commitment to democratic principles. But the election committee quashed his bid after the state-linked media carried reports that were critical of his employment record. The committee’s rejection of all three contenders ensures that government-endorsed Mr Nathan, a former intelligence chief and diplomat, will serve a second six-year term.
how many times did the Economist manage to use the word 'government' in a two-paragraph long snippet? and how did i never notice before?

Troublesome Foursome

Singapore authorities like to keep a tight rein on public protests—unauthorised gatherings of more than four people have long been banned. But officials faced an unusual challenge on August 11th, when four protesters collected outside the offices of the Central Provident Fund (CPF), the state’s compulsory pension scheme. The quartet, which included the sister of Chee Soon Juan, a prominent opposition figure, bore T-shirts and a placard calling for greater transparency at the CPF and other state agencies. Mr Chee stood nearby but did not join the group, contenting himself with selling copies of his book.

The gathering in the heart of the business district soon attracted police, some of whom arrived in riot gear. They ordered the four to disperse or face arrest, saying they were causing a “public nuisance”. (The law forbidding such a “nuisance” is a wide-ranging statute to maintain public order.) The protesters complied, giving up their T-shirts and placard.
what the Economist failed to point out is that FORTY armed policemen arrived to disperse this little protest. that's ten policemen to each protester. -grin- i don't even have to try to be snarky! i'm sure you're ALL thinking what i would have said anyway --




Monday, August 22, 2005

podcasts and internet radio save my sanity

have i mentioned how much i love internet radio? i REALLY love internet radio. i'm sitting here listening to a repeat broadcast of BBC Radio 1 while searching for the full text of last night's National Day Rally Speech (in my defence, i wanted to watch it, but had dinner at grandpa's and then had to send daddy to the airport -he's off to denmark and norway for a week- so i missed a huge chunk of it. and it wasn't three hours long this year!). Someone out there has got to have a transcript of it. (SPRINTER doesn't, because PM doesn't write out his speech in full before he gives it. he merely produces a list of talking points eerily reminiscent of my presentation notes over the years and extemporises based on those. smart man.) in the meantime, thanks to ST Online -how i hate saying that- i've downloaded the podcast of his speech, so theoretically i could listen to it over again. i do prefer reading though.

that said, if anyone could point me toward an online version of the full speech, and/or email it to me, that would be awesome. (if you don't have my email, leave a comment and i will send it along to you --)

Amended to add: the podcast quality is appalling. so i withdraw my thanks to ST Online in relief. -grin- the ends of sentences are cut off, sections are totally missing, etc etc. oh well. still need transcript...-sigh-

Saturday, August 20, 2005

shoes?

for those who want to know what my latest obsession in shoes is: roundtoed flats that are cutesy and weird:

cutesy new shoes

and

less cutesy new shoes

aren't they adorable?

Friday, August 19, 2005

i am a geek, and proud of it --

i want this shirt.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

for the people who are beginning to wonder:

I Aten't Dead. :)

and bonus points to those who spot the reference (come on, i KNOW you people know where it comes from.).

just been up to too much lately - was just realising that i haven't eaten at home for quite a few days now. what have you been up to, jeanette, i hear you ask. well -- driving refresher courses that resulted in my being able to park a car both in a parking space (in a multistory carpark to boot) and curbside (parallel parking, freshly learned today. with nary a scratch to said car, any other car, and without crashing into lampposts or anything. i did bump the curb once, but not hard at all.). i can also drive now, after a fashion, though rush hour traffic wigs me out, esp those dratted motorcycles. bleagh, i say.

and meeting old friends, and having tea/coffee/dinners with them, and generally catching up on lives. and meeting new friends, and building new friendships along the way.

and having interviews in between all of this socialising - hopefully interviews that went well - and hopefully i will be employed in the next month or two. (Old Man - it looks like i can sub for you if required. i doubt i will be employed before the first of oct, to be frank. unless wheels start turning inordinately quickly.) the interview up The Hill was fun, and meeting all the people i hope to be working with come the fall (not that we have seasons in Singapore) was also really cool. keeping my fingers crossed they will soon be my colleagues.

not much time to be homesick, these days. :) all to the good, i think.

Friday, August 12, 2005

far away

I stepped into the cool of Bishan Park this morning, and suddenly the gravel beneath my feet transformed into -- the wide, tree-lined boulevard of Central Park, the walkways through the Boston Commons, the meandering paths of Chicago's lakeshore. The rush of traffic transmuted into limosines fighting buses along Park Avenue, into cars zooming down Lakeshore Drive doing the speed limit and nothing more. For a long, peaceful moment, I was far away - and then the stray call of an oriole sounded over the thunder of a C-130 lumbering overheard, and I was home again.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

of show and tell

am feeling rather drained by a longish day, but wanted to stick my head in and suggest people in Singapore head over to the Esplanade and catch a show of the Dim Sum Dollies if they can. i am given to understand the show has been extended for three more days next week, so go get tickets and go. thoroughly worth it, i think.

the quality of the production was very high, though perhaps the content was rather inconsistent. some of the sketches contained material that skated a very fine line between funny and offensive, or crass. some i felt fell rather flat, while others went on for too long - the Dollies stretching a moment for all they were worth, but some things are just funnier -unsaid or said quickly, in passing, like singing (in true Romantic Love Song fashion) that 'if i were to fall in love again/shoot me in the head'. it slips by and a moment later, your brain catches up to your ears and you realise what this skinny creature is singing, and it's impossible not to laugh until you cry.

my biggest complaint about the evening was the sound system in the theatre in the Esplanade where Dim Sum Dollies is playing is totally inadequate for a show that is as much singing and dancing as it is speaking. it just cannot handle more than one person singing at a time - everyone fades in and out in a most disconcerting manner, and you can't really hear the words - which is a pity, because when you CAN hear the words they are frequently hilarious. so booo for spending so much money and touting the acoustic wonder that are the Esplanade's performance spaces, only to disappoint me yet again. (at least the concert hall where the SSO plays has decent sound.)

in other news:

(a) rae and I had dinner with a whole tableful of former teachers this evening before the show - Mr R and Mr McConnell and Mrs Perry and Mr Purvis - and it was very strange listening to them be social and to be social with them - very strange indeed. but i always enjoy talking to mr R, so all in all it was fun; and

(b) Commission interview this afternoon was an unmitigated disaster; and

(c)) the other interview after went well. keep your fingers crossed for me that i'll do well next week at the return engagement?

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

coming home

Why do you go away? So that you can come back. So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colours. And the people there see you differently, too. Coming back to where you were is not the same as never leaving.

-A Hat Full Of Sky, Terry Pratchett

Saturday, August 06, 2005

but...but..but....

i've finally finished Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (which i began yesterday, on the train to Gombak, sitting beside a man who clearly needed to reacquaint himself with soap, hot water, and a fresh towel). i am...gobsmacked, perhaps, is the word? as Bertie Wooster would say, gorblimey.

i await the next -and last- with (slightly) bated breath.

[oh, and -- if anyone should find themselves on the verge of swearing at a recorded menu when waiting for 'customer service' from their dearly beloved cell-providers -- pressing zero generally connects you immediately to a real human being who will be highly appreciative of all the new combinations of swear words and curses you can possibly come up with, i'm sure. i know, because i did just that earlier this evening. (well i refrained, womanfully, from cussing out the poor child who answered the phone, but am sure that i was far more brusque than necessary. however, i think they bloody well deserve it, their company colour being my favourite green nonewithstanding.)]

Friday, August 05, 2005

coming up for air

ouf.

that's all i have left to say after a long week of open houses/ministry visits. i can't say it hasn't been an education week, all in all, so i have no complaints. (except about the amount of travelling i've been doing, but that can't be helped i suppose.) i've gotten a clearer picture of what life is like inside various places, and i've made up my mind what i would like to do. now if only my dream job would fall out of the sky -- but they haven't even called me yet! and they've already been on the phone with some of my peers. so who knows what the future holds forme.

still, by and large i've enjoyed the week. meeting up with old friends was a bonus amid all the crazy dialogue-session-presentations-eating-copious-amounts-of-food rounds to various function rooms and event halls - catching up with wee keong and sidney, for example, especially chatting this afternoon - that was tons of fun, and it was v cool to find out where people wanted to go and what they were looking for in their future jobs. (i hesitate to use the words 'job' and 'career' interchangably...)

however, as old hands at this scholarship round will know, what's next is Interview Season. it's beginning already. =) so this weekend is my chance to take a quick breather and recharge my enthusiasm and energy for the next couple of weeks, and i'm looking forward to making the most of it! (read: finish reading my library books, and Harry Potter -i started it on the train today -reading on the bus makes me carsick- i managed quite a few chapters on my half-hour-long train ride, but nowhere near finished yet-, and sleeping in? unlikely, since dad likes to get us up early for bfast on weekends, and church on sunday at 0800.) i suspect you won't hear much of me for a while -unless interviews and/or written assessments go badly, in which case there will be much moaning and gnashing of teeth.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

a tale of three

item the first: mommy cat and four little kittens living next door. mommy cat is a lovely silvery-white, with tabby markings on her legs and tail. three of the kits look like her; one -the largest of them all- presumably resembles dad, with a white body and grey patches all over. aggressive little bugger, climbing all over sibs to get to mommy. and making lots of noise in the process. the runt is a tiny little darling just precisely the same colour as her (?) lovely mommy, and she got stuck in the drain during the rain earlier (the drain is covered, and she couldn't find her way back to the entrance) necessitating a rescue mission from mother and a good talking-to afterward. i have pictures, but they are blur as a consequence of having been taken from my bedroom window. (i must've looked awfully suspicious leaning out and taking pictures of the neighbour's washing-machine, which is where the kits were hiding. under it, that is.)

item the second: i drove my mom's car today. for a very short distance -just home from the grandpere's home, about a ten minute walk and normally a three minute drive. however my terror of scratching the car made me drive at a pace more suited to an eighty-year-old half-blind lady. (my brother, in the backseat, safely buckled in: jie! you drive like a little old lady! no! even slower!!!! me: shut up! be glad you're not dead yet!) i even managed to get it into our driveway -after a fashion- dad had to adjust it afterward because there is no way mom could have gotten into the car the next day. i had to perform some fairly strenuous acrobatics to get out as it is, and i was wearing shorts and flipflops, not high heels and a suit. but the car is scratch-free and we are all still alive. hoorah.

item the third: today was the MFA open house for us scholars waiting to be deployed. (like missiles! and...erm...NSmen.) not a bad presentation at all. made me rethink my previous opinion on a foreign service job. (no. no no no.) however the same concerns exist -perhaps i'm not too worried about the location of overseas posting per se, but it is still an overseas posting. i'm not too sure i would like to be away from our merry little island for three years at a stretch, esp with that stint beginning in three or four years' time. otherwise it sounds like an awesome job. do you think they will take me in the protocol office? i LOVE protocol.