Tuesday, November 28, 2006

You Got THAT Right

Five minutes before we entered the exam hall for our social psychology exam I suddenly blanked out and turned to June in a panic.

Me: “Dude, what’s the “intuitive scientist” mindset again?”

“It’s what people do when they want to take the information they have, make conclusions on it and use those conclusions to act on the information.”

“What’s that mean?”

June: “You know, like when we look at the economy and we want to make the economy more… economical.”


Me: "Hmm. This is why we aren’t taking econs."

Sunday, November 26, 2006

At Long Last!

Amid shouts of, “Stay still, Noelle!” and “Quit biting that, you rat!”, I finally got Miss Thing to slow down enough to get a proper shot of her. Just wanted to show how lovely and luxuriant her fur is getting now (below) compared to the way it looked when she first entered mi casa (above).

What'd I tell you, huh?

Remember: you saw it here first.

Waste Not Want Not


Looks like someone broke into the remains of a Burger King dinner while I was sleeping.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

When Christmas Comes Early

Meet Noelle.

Or as Fongster refers to her, my “ratty hamster”. It’s not evident from this picture, but she is actually a white Syrian hamster with red eyes and long fur. According to the salesman, in a few more weeks, she’ll be a veritable ball of fluff because, you know, that’s what long white fur will do to you.

M and I weren’t actually interested in buying her at first. We looked into a big tank full of dwarf hamsters. They were all sleek and plump with little beady eyes and vacuous dwarf-hamster faces. And then amidst all the tumbling and squeaking and chaos, one lone, white hamster with a scrawny body and an expression of fierce determination wandered by.

“What the fuck is that thing?” M said, jumping backwards. Indeed, with her blood red eyes and mad long fur sticking out everywhere, she looked like a miniature mutant rat.

“I have no clue,” I muttered in disgust. “She doesn’t even look like a hamster.”

We stared at her in horrible fascination for awhile and it became clear that while all the other hamsters curled up together and played with each other like little children, the white rat-thing was on a mission by herself. She ignored the little grey bodies strewn about her and attempted to climb one wall of the tank, sticking her tiny pink nose through an airhole as if to make a point. The cage suddenly seemed too crowded for her and too full of hamsters she didn’t care to play with.

She could barely hold on to the edge with her small paws, but boy, was she ever trying. Her face was screwed up with the effort of holding herself up and her back legs cycled wildly, trying to gain a firm hold.

The more I watched her, the more I became drawn into her serious expression and her valiant attempts to escape. As if reading my thoughts, M interrupted, “I’m surprised you haven’t asked me to save her yet. She seems just like the kind of charity case you’d want to adopt.”

“Of course not,” I lied, and we moved on to another tank of Syrians. They were all too old to be pets for very long, so as a last resort, we went to the front of the shop and asked if the salesman had any baby Syrian hamsters for sale.

“Aiyah. Syrians so rare. I only have one. Six weeks old only,” he added, grabbing a set of keys and leading us into the back. He opened the cage of dwarf hamsters, reached in and picked out the rat to our speechless horror. “Too small to put with the big hamsters lah. This one is long-haired. In a few weeks, she will look very nice one! Can even brush her.”

Well, who were we to argue with fate? M very sweetly bought her for me on the spot.

And you know what, he was right. As soon as she got some alone space and food, she filled out beautifully and her snowy pelt became soft pulled cotton. M suggested we name her after something Christmassy and so we picked “Noelle” after the carol because her colours make her look like a furry candy cane.

Unlike Angstrom, she’s a lot shyer and softer and doesn’t bite, but likes to sit on her ladder and look out of the cage curiously, ducking her head if I make a sudden noise or movement. She’s quiet and serious and brave and I love her.

I would never have ever bought a red-eyed hamster in the past, but even that’s grown on me, and she looks more like blighted luckdragon than sewer vermin.

Who’d have thought?

Thank you M, for constantly shaking the foundations of my world and for being my very own Christmas miracle.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Story of My Life

“You can’t argue with popularity. Well, you could, but you’d be wrong.”

-- Robbie Williams, “The World’s Most Handsome Man".


Sunday, November 19, 2006

When Pigs Fly

If someone told me that a few days back I’d be sitting in the fifth row of an auditorium, listening to the President of the United States of a America give a godawful speech about the “addiction from oil” and “nukular weapons” in North Korea, I would have told them to go roast a monkey’s nuts. Especially since I spent months in DC walking past the White House every other day in the vain hope of spotting the “Texas Ranger” only to find that he had lassoed a plane to Singapore just the other night.

If that’s not irony I don’t know what is.

Oh well, at least it was an enjoyable evening. I got see Stas in a cute dress, hang out with Fongster, eat really good cream puffs with Chand and Shah and catch up with so many other people that nobody really cared about the bullshit (or should I say Bushit) that was going on on stage.

In fact, we really should do it again, sans the keynote speech.

Lunchtime Monday, anyone?

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Because I Care and Share

So I’m supposed to be doing a paper about avoidance and approach mechanisms to emotional information right now. In fact, I am not JUST supposed to be doing a paper. I am supposed to be on top of this paper, giving it a huge wedgie while whooping its ass.

But I just had to take the time to share this because it makes me so happy that I could jump out of the fifth floor window and I would FLOAT onto the rooftops of the building next door.

Meet my new toy: The Yamaha PSR- E403. (Say it with me, people: “Ooooh! Aaaaah…”)

I ordered one a couple of months back (with the kind help of Mel and Jason… thanks guys!) so that I could play it in my room in school and at home without having to disturb the peace of the good citizens of this country. Unfortunately, it’s such a popular model that they apparently had orders backlogged till the twelfth of never. So they told me I had to wait and they would call me when mine arrived.

Spring came and went. Fall fell. Still no call.

I got so desperate, I actually posted a picture of it on my desktop to remind me not to lose hope like a wife whose Marine husband had gone off to free another blighted country on a “god-given” mission. And THEN. Yesterday, my phone rang! And I was so happy that I was positively vibrating the whole night and the whole of today until I was able to go pick it up.

M and I strolled nonchalantly over to the Yamaha branch in town only to find out that it came in a box big enough for me to climb into and weighed 11 kilograms. “No problem!” the salesman waved airily, sticking plastic strips onto it to use as handles.

Well, after nearly knocking down five people and almost giving one girl a concussion, we dragged, pushed, pulled, carried and staggered onto the train back to school only to find that people were throwing us suspicious glances. A four-foot tall giant cardboard box with all sorts of strange markings and plastic tape all over it causing suspicious glances?! Well, I never!

M suggested pretending it was a bomb, so I kept looking at it worriedly, checking her watch and saying things like, “Once we reach the platform, you have to run because we don’t have much time.” Which was a lot of fun until we noticed a girl in a Cisco t-shirt eyeballing us. (Half the time everybody else was sleeping or didn’t care. Singaporeans are the epitome of vigilance. I could walk onto the train with a semi-automatic and they would pretend to sleep so they didn’t have to give up their seats.)

Anyway, we FINALLY got it back into the hostel where it now sits, waiting for this paper to be finished so that I can start doing trills on the keys like a fey Andrew Lloyd Webber kind of character with an equally barmy Sarah Brightman counterpart who hits high notes by rolling her eyes into the back of her head.

In fact, I’m already thinking of composing a musical inspired by the whole saga which I will call “Bomb on the Train” (for which the drumbox in the Yamaha will come in very handy).

I hear Phantom of the Opera is coming next year.

Save your cash though folks, my musical is going to be a lot cheaper and a lot more… wait for it, wait for it… EXPLOSIVE.


On a more serious note, my hamster Angstrom died on Friday night. He was over two years old, so I guess he’d had a long and fulfilling life, but somehow thinking about things that way doesn’t make you feel any less sad. He was my favourite hamster because he was a birthday present from M two years ago and he was funny, bright, curious and very active, if cantankerous.

We buried him in some soft earth under a nice tree and I am ashamed to say that I cried like a pansy while M dug him a little hole. We blew some bubbles over his grave because he was that kind of hamster, I think he would have liked the bubbles, found them interesting.

Bye Angstrom. I’m going to miss all the times when you’d do pull-ups on the top bar of your cage and when you’d come running to see what food I brought you when I made a squeaking sound. I'm going to miss rearranging your cage every week because I heard rats whose surroundings constantly changed grew bigger brains.

I’m glad I got to know you and I hope that wherever you are, you have much much more to run on than a titchy old wheel because you deserve it.

Ahh, things come and go. I suppose that’s what life is all about.

All that’s really real is now.

And now, for me, is feeling good enough.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Of Castes and Cannibalism

Yesterday, while sitting at an open air café and eating a very pleasant chicken salad, two pigeons came pecking for food and I indulged them. They enjoyed the celery and carrots, but seemed to like the chicken best; they were soon squabbling over little bits of it.

Worried about the ethical conundrum that this presented, I brought it up to my mother when she came to meet me.

“Have I done something wrong?” I asked her worriedly. “Am I inducing barbaric habits in their society?”

“I think so,” she said, looking at the expensive, thickly dressed chicken salad (that she paid for) with chagrin, “You’ve just fed a rich person to a couple of beggars.”

HAH! Trust jaded adults to worry about the class implications rather than the idealistic concerns of the socially-concious youth.

Although, I’m not even sure chickens and pigeons really come under the same group of organisms… it would be like apes and humans, the chickens just peck around and stupidly hang with each other while the pigeons squat on rooftops and statues, slowly plotting the coup d’etat that will win them the world. After all, if they would so unflinchingly eat a member of their brethren, they must have grisly plans ahead.

I can almost imagine an initiation ritual in which pigeon one says to pigeon two (with an Italian mafia accent):

“Come on, eh Luigi. Don’t be such a boid-brained chickenshit. Just eat the damn poultry without gaggin'. Attaboy. Now you’re ready to take down the people.”

In other news, I feel like getting unbelievably drunk and throwing up on my philo tutor’s shoes.
We’ll see how it goes.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Life in General

3:30 am and on top of everything else, I have a fucking Descartes essay to contend with. “We don’t exist! Nothing exists! But squares! And of course, God!” Oh sod off, you old French fart. Put a piece of wax in it.

It is at times like these that I tell myself I’d rather stab my liver out with a fork than go through writing another thesis statement. Of course, I’m not courageous enough to do that and I recognise that studying is far and away more enjoyable than being chained to a desk at work. To me, anyway.

It’s just that exams and assignments put a huge cap on what you can do and they make you want to do more in return when all you can do is shuttle between school and home, doing nothing all the while. For example, in the past few days, here is a list of the most exciting things that happened to me, in no order of merit.

1) My dog had a sole tick on him. We sprayed him, and the tick was no more.

2) I forgot to close the windows of my room and the floor filled up with rain. So much rain in fact, that when I stepped in, my foot splashed in a puddle.

3) I discovered the niftiest little thing on my laptop. It’s called InkArt and acts a little bit like a simple virtual illustrator on which I can draw and save pictures. It has about eight different drawing tools with paintbrushes, pencils, crayons, charcoal and even a watercolour tool that allows me to smudge my drawings with water. The best part is that there is a little virtual glass of water at the side for my to dip my brushes in when they get dry (and yes, they do get dry) and when I stir the water with my stylus, it makes a bubbling sound.

This makes buying this Tablet PC completely worthwhile because I am a doodling nut and will draw on anything at any time even though it don’t do it very well! So, thank you, Fujitsu, I am, as Harold Pinter would say, “chuffed to my bollocks”. (I used to tell people something similar like “I am freezing my balls off” and they would get agitated trying to tell me I didn’t have any. I know, you fools, I’ve looked. Some people just don’t get metaphor!)

4) The Chinese drama that I’ve slipped into the habit of watching every night has taken an extra dramatic turn (I say extra because on normal days these things are like Days of Our Lives on speed anyway). It turns out there is a love triangle going on between two half sisters and a man who just got in a car accident and the evil half sister is plotting to win the competition ruthlessly. In the meantime, the other half sister is being courted by another guy who also has a crush on a woman twice his age, while his father just came out of hospital. What the extra dramatic turn is, I can’t exactly tell, but there was certainly a lot more shouting, crying, eavesdropping and attempted suicide today.

Ah… the stuff wet dreams are made of.

But by far the most interesting thing that has happened to me took place in one of my regular classes yesterday. We had handed in an essay a couple of weeks ago and as we filed into class, the lecturer regarded us solemnly over her lectern.

“I have something very serious to talk about today,” she announced in her most important manner. “I have evidence that some students, and not “student” but STUDENTS have plagiarised in their essays. Now this is a very serious offence. I have the names of these students, but I will not say who they are. Instead, I want these students (you know who you are) to send me an email confessing what you have done so that the consquences will be less severe. If you do not admit your crime by the end of this week, the results will be serious. I have your records and will look into suitable punishment.”

She paused for dramatic effect and then launched into friendly, animated discussion about the left anterior cingulate.

Naturally, none of us were paying attention by this time, we were all shifting around nervously wondering what to do. Erm no, we don’t know who we are. There are real plagiarisers and then there’s us. Most of us try our bests not to plagiarise if we can help it but it’s hard to tell what with the millions of published papers lying around.

I mean, you think you haven’t copied anyone’s arguments without citing, but it’s not at all easy to tell. It’s damn near impossible to write something completely original and so by this time everyone was well and truly worried.

Over the course of the lesson, it emerged among ourselves that we had three possibilities:

a) Just keep faith in the fact that our papers were innocent and carry on like nothing happened
b) Ask her to contact the plagiarists herself (which she wasn’t planning on doing because of the self-disclosure ploy)
c) Have the whole class confess to be on the safe side and then let her absolve those of us who she thought hadn’t plagiarised.

I mulled over this problem for a couple of days and then when it seemed that everyone was resorting to option (c), I wrote my “confession” this afternoon saying I hope I hadn’t plagiarised and regretted it if I had and sent it in.

Why am I putting this in a post?

Well, this is just in case I suddenly disappear in a few days after receiving a reply from my lecturer. After all, she’s wonderfully nice but she is German… who knows what the Gestapo taught them about punishing cheaters?

So do me a favour if you guys read this. Keep an eye out for me and if you don’t see me around, raise the alarm. Tell them to let my dog out of the house because he knows my scent best (spray him first to avoid a recurrence of that horrid tick problem), keep my folks calm and keep vigil outside my doorstep. Oh, and worse come to worst, please announce what happened to me at my memorial.

They won’t believe it, but we both know it’s true.

Thanks, ya’ll.