Archive for October, 2007

I Am So Angry!!

October 29, 2007

Angry angry angry angry angry angry angry angry angry angry angry angry angry angry angry angry angry angry angry angry angry angry angry angry angry angry angry angry.

Where does one go to lobby against poor management? Where??

Mystery Solved

October 22, 2007

I often wonder why, in our mother-island, people of Chinese descent don’t wear their ethnic clothing when people of Malay and Indian descent often wear theirs.

The two explanations often given and dismissed are:

1. The cheongsam is costly.

Yes, the cheongsam can be costly, but so can a sari and a baju kurong. And if there is a high demand for affordable off-the-shelf cheongsams, there will be a ready supply.

2. The cheongsam is inconvenient or uncomfortable to wear.

Yes, it might be, but I can imagine that the sari is more so. But one colleague says she is so comfortable in a sari, she can conduct an exercise lesson in it. A cheongsam doesn’t have to be fitted to every curve of one’s body. It can also be a looser and easier to wear shift, as it originally was. Tight-fitting cheongsams only came about in the early 20th century.

So that leaves me at square one.

Why are ethnic clothings so much more a part of our compatriots’ wardrobes than it is ours? Why is it, that when one wears a cheongsam, it is often rather contrived, something that one puts on for a theme party, a special occasion, or is part of one’s wardrobe only when one is rather wealthy or of a certain social status? Why do we not have the same affinity towards the cheongsam that our compatriots have for the sari or the baju?

I was once again mentally working on this conundrum on the way to work last week, as I spotted more than a few Malay ladies outfitted in graceful baju kurongs, when the answer presented itself with a big *tada!!*

I knew the answer all along but just never put one and one together.

The cheongsam, or qipao as it is known in Mandarin, is the ethnic clothing of the Qi people, i.e. the Manchurians. And we are not Qi people, we are Han people. Thus, the cheongsam is, indeed, not our ethnic clothing!

In fact, the cheongsam was forced onto the Han people during the Manchu’s Qing dynasty under the penalty of death!

Before the Qing dynasty, Han people wore the hanfu, literally Han clothing, which consists of an yi, a cross-collared robe tied with a sash, and a shang, which is a skirt. Later, the yishang became the shenyi, which is a 2-in-1 version of the yishang. If that’s hard to visualise, think the flowy robes in the movie Yingxiong.

Shenyi

So there, now you know!

All my fellow Han people out there, burn your cheongsams!

Did You Know That…

October 22, 2007

Speedy Gonzales has a cousin named Slowpoke Rodriguez?  He is reputed to be the slowest mouse in all Mexico.

Object of Desire

October 22, 2007

I want this!

Mobile Trolley

Anyone feeling generous?

Oral Hygiene

October 15, 2007

In the interest of oral hygiene, I very bravely tried out the tree bark toothbrush I picked up at Mustie’s last night.

I say very bravely because, the moment one opens the vacuum sealed product, its scent assaults one’s olfactory receptors. I don’t know why I did not expect it to smell of something or other. There were hints along the way. First of, tree bark usually does smell of something or other, right? Also, on the package, it indicates that the product comes in “natural and other flavours”. That usually means that the product does not smell pleasant naturally, hence the need for “other flavours” and that natural is for masochists only.

Strangely, the package does not indicate if this particular product is indeed natural or flavoured. I’m going with natural because the package colour is a neutral khaki-beige. Industry standards dictate that flavoured products be wrapped in eye-piercing psychedelic colours.

In all my excitement, and I blame shopping at Mustie’s for that lingering high, I was blissfully oblivious to all hints and hence was caught off-guard by the scent. And I do use the word scent because I can see how it can be acceptable to some people. And I should be the last person to judge that cos lots of scents unpleasant to others, I love. Scents like eucalyptus and menthol.

Anyway, the toothbrush has a sharp and pungent raw-y smell. Like a cross between horseradish and fresh tree sap. Scratch and sniff *here*. Just kidding.

Well, it’s not something one would usually put in one’s mouth. And especially not first thing in the morning. No, make that not any time of the day. And it looks exactly like a little branch someone cut off a tree. Instructions say something like “Scrape off half inch of bark from either end. Chew until it comes apart and bristles form. Brush.”

So I bravely did exactly that. Keyword being bravely. Perhaps if I was more awake, I would have chucked it right into the bin. But I didn’t. And brush I did. Or rather, I tried. The taste, thankfully, was nowhere near as bad as the smell. The problem, really, was the bristles.

Toothbrush?

You see, the bristles are at the end of the toothbrush the way a paintbrush is. So that makes brushing kind of awkward, doesn’t it? And it’s hard not to smell something that’s right below one’s nose.

I gave up after half a minute. It’s still Oral B and Colgate for me.

Midnight at Mustie’s

October 15, 2007

Seeing as I’m in absolute delight that Monday is a holiday and that I have an extra day to stay up late, I decided that a late-night jaunt to the local stockist of all material goods in existence is warranted.

Mustie’s functions pretty much like Doraemon’s pocket, except not futuristic. You can get anything you want, at any time you need or fancy. It’s open 24/7 and there are a thousand choices for every consumer product one can imagine. And also for those one cannot.

It is 4 levels and 2 basements, spread over 2 buildings, connected by a sky bridge of a fruit and vegetable department, with goods packed in shelves separated by aisle spaces that barely allow passing. It even boasts of an in-house travel agent, international banking services, post office, money changer, cafe, hydro-massage, and visa processing service (and I mean the kind of visa that allows you to visit a country, not the kind that allows you to delay payment. Well, of course they have the latter too).

I headed in with 4 items on my shopping list:

1. Bath puffy-scrubby-thingies

2. Eucerin

3. Cookie cutters

4. Head scarf

And on top of those, the ever-present crave for Kinder Country means that I don’t have to write it down to remember to pick it up. Mustie’s is the only store on the mother-island, as far as I know, that carries Kinder Country. I think it might not be up every person’s alley, but I love the roasted puffed cereals and grains in it. So earthy and so “mmm-mm”. If you want to give it a try, drop a note. I bought 3 packs of 6 bars. Single serving bars, of course. But in my opinion, a single serving really should be 3 bars.

Kinder Country

And so, as it always is in Mustie’s, I ended up not getting everything on my list because I was distracted by something else.

B and I were done picking up the Kinder Country when I looked further along the corridor and spied a section we’ve never visited before. No one can ever boast of having covered every single section of Mustie’s in less than 10 visits. And so I decided that this was the section we were going to con1uer on this visit. (Yes, keyboard is wonky. Won’t produce the alphabet between “P” and “R”. Comes up with a “1” instead.)

B pointed out that that was the luggage section and we don’t need luggage. I wanted to check it out anyway. And boy, did they have loads of luggages and briefcases. We, or rather I, had a good giggle trying out all the retro briefcases. I decided that if I ever feel the need to be taken more seriously at the workplace, I would pick up one of those maroon metallic boxy briefcases. It’s so retro, so fun and so funny that I’m giggling as I type this.

We moved on to the luggages and almost immediately spied a green retro floral piece. It’s a low-tech cloth and canvas thing, boxy with a single large compartment, single large pocket on the inside, flat pockets on the outside and two straps across. And of course, a flimsy lock that will not deter the most incompetent of thieves. A couple of small stains. Looked at the price tag. $26. Hmm… Should I?

B pointed out that there was a bigger one just further down the shelf. I did see it, but did not think it was bigger. Who needs the bigger of a luggage bag that is not needed in the first place anyway?

As always, B was right about the size. It was bigger. And had no stains. Ooo… tempting! Looked at the price tag. Did a double take. Showed it to B, who also did a double take. $15. Now I have to have it. Where else can one find such a lovely luggage bag, complete with dragging strap and name tag, and most importantly, in such a lovely retro print, for $15?

$15!

We debated for a bit, a very small bit, about whether I should get it. I don’t need it. Not right now anyway. But I would need it some time in the future, for sure. And as B pointed out, it is only $15. Yes, I could eat a simple lunch tomorrow and the savings could easily translate into a lovely piece of luggage. $15! Really now, that’s got to be the deal of the century.

And in case you roll your eyes and conclude that I’m one of those girls who go ga-ga over Laura Ashley floral stuff, I have to make it very clear, for my reputation’s sake, that I am not. Floral is only nice when it’s retro. So really, it’s the retro-ness that I fancy.

I was thinking that there was a possibility that at the checkout stand, the lady would take one look at it and declare that the price tag was wrong and that the luggage really cost $55, or some amount like that, which I was not willing to pay because, honestly, I don’t need it and it’s not the most hardy of luggages.

Instead, the lady scanned it and cheerfully announced, “Luggage bag, $15”. B and I leaned in to look into the screen to make sure that it was right. Well, according to the computer and the checkout lady, and you don’t get authority any higher than that, it was. And so, the suitcase is mine.

Luggage

Ha! And I also picked up a natural tree bark toothbrush at the checkout stand. Yes yes, I know, never pick up stuff that’s shelved at the checkout stand. It’s located and priced to encourage impulse buying. But it’s all of $1.20 and no price is too big for oral hygiene. Plus, no toothpaste needed.

After all that, we adjourned to the the corner cafe for a supper of naan and masala tea. Ahhh… good stuff. And the tea is what’s powering this 3 a.m. post.

Ironically, I was thinking about my finances during the day, wondering why I don’t have any more savings than I do, considering that I’m not much of a shopper, that even when I shop, I delight in lovely low-cost items such as the above mentioned luggage, that I’m not much of a gadget person, owning just one basic model cellphone and no mobile music, game or data consoles of any sort, that I don’t feed any addictive habits, that my cellphone bill almost never exceeds that paltry minimal plan I subscribe to, that I don’t pay any insurance premiums, that I don’t pay any car or housing loan, or any other kind of expense I can think of.

I then concluded that I spend my money mostly on food, craft materials and, oh yes, that rather hefty school loan. That aside, I should still be saving more than I do. I probably don’t feel the need to keep track of what I spend on small items because I know I don’t buy big items. And so I resolved to cut down on small unnecessary items.

Then I met the luggage bag and the resolution went to the toilet.

P.S. Notice how I wrote this, by my standards, super long post using only one “1”? Wow… what an under-used alphabet. No wonder my keyboard doesn’t remember how to produce it.

C’mon keyboard! It’s an “O” with a little tail! Or a mirror image of “p”! Or an upside down “b”! Remember?

Oh, If I Just Had The Time

October 6, 2007

I was posting a comment to BGF’s post about having not very much to do and the comment became so long that I think I’d better post it here.

I said:

Wah… I would never be aimless however many off days I have. Allow me to day dream for a bit…

I would…

go to the beach

work on my clay projects

roast a chicken

make a killer alio olio

try out a new recipe. Oh oh!! Try out that bread and butter pudding with caramelised bananas and chocolate chunks!

buy glass paints and paint up every glass bottle in sight

get test-tubes and wooden test-tube racks to display my marbles

lovingly polish every marble

watch every episode of CSI, NCIS, Criminal Minds, and Xiaolin Showdown

read a whole shelf of Robert Ludlums and Tom Clancys

pull out the old-fashioned sewing machine and make a bag

make tzitzits

bake bread

make a lasagne

dig out my oil paints and paint

dig out my watercolours and attempt to paint

learn to crochet or knit

make a cup of tea and pore over coffee table books of Van Gogh, Klimt, Chihuly

write a letter to Donovan

organise my paperwork

make turkey meatballs in green curry

hunt for that super duper 1 inch thick dense foam exercise mat and do pilates

So much to do!

And I Was Right!

October 5, 2007

Right after the previous entry, I went back to that website to continue whatever it was I was doing.  Only to have them tell me that my session was timed out.

Ok… So I logged in again.  Guess what?  Password wrong.  I try again thinking I’ve made a typo.  Still wrong. Ok… It’s quite easy to make a typo with a password like that.  Try again.  Still still wrong.  Try again.  Get locked out.  Urgh!!

And so I have to reset my password.  Already.  All of 5 minutes after I set it.

I should just not bother to remember the password and reset it every time I have to log in.

This Is Getting Ridiculous…

October 5, 2007

As with everyone else, I’ve been grappling with the difficulties of having a gazillion passwords to remember.  To simplify my life, my passwords are usually some variation or other of one theme.  (Yes, now that you know that, you can hack into my bank account and steal my life savings of $20.)

That usually works until one comes across a website that says this:

  1. Passwords must be at least eight (8) and not more than twenty (20) characters long.
  2. Passwords must contain at least three of the following four types of characters: uppercase letters (A-Z), lowercase letters (a-z), numbers (0-9), and punctuation characters (!, @, #, etc.).
  3. Passwords must not contain a sequence of one type of character that is more than 3 characters long, for example (abcd, ABCD, 1234, !@#$) are all invalid sequences.
  4. Passwords must not contain spaces or non-printable characters.

Rule No. 1 – Ok.

Rule No. 2 – What? Good grief…

Rule No. 3 – Ok…

Rule No. 4 – I can do that…

So I think up a password that (I thought) satisfies all of the above.  But when I entered and double-entered it, an error message appeared and showed:

  1. Passwords must be at least eight (8) and not more than twenty (20) characters long.
  2. Passwords must contain at least three of the following four types of characters: uppercase letters (A-Z), lowercase letters (a-z), numbers (0-9), and punctuation characters (!, @, #, etc.).
  3. Passwords must not contain a sequence of one type of character that is more than 3 characters long, for example (abcd, ABCD, 1234, !@#$) are all invalid sequences.
  4. Passwords must not contain spaces or non-printable characters.

Then I realised that they don’t really mean “sequence” as in the chronological sequences in the examples they showed, but really meant “string”, in that no more than 3 characters of the same type may reside next to each other.  Yikes!

So I guess one’s password has to look something like that – oyc72!* or YNay%@ or ^#htxQA. But I’m sure they’d rather have you submit something super secure like N%p9$C6h. (Don’t bother, all the above are just examples.)

How does one remember a password like that?  I’m sure they get lots of people asking to reset their passwords every day.