November 27, 2003

nov 2003

[041103] once upon a time, I envied 4th kor cos he had his own bar of soap. e rest of us in e house of 11 had to share, whereas he had e luxury of having his own bar AND his own soap dish. one day, his half-used bar of soap was fished out from e dustbin. apparently he had used it until it was reduced to e shape of a dog's bone, & then thrown it away. in no time he was dragged to e kitchen & soundly beaten up for having e nerve to waste. more than 15 years later, in this age of liquid creme soaps in dispenser bottles, nothing can beat e satisfaction of having your own bar of soap. still feel happy whenever I get to open a brand new bar when e old one has been used up. & each time I do so, I think of how eldest kor tried to mould together tiny bits of soap into larger pieces so that they could still be used, & this incident comes to mind.

[071103 update] realised that e blue plastic dustbin that starred in e above episode is still around. over e years it has moved house with us twice. it now sits in my room, still with e Michelin tyre man sticker that 4th kor pasted onto it more than 15 years ago =)

[071103] according to one of those "419 scam" e-mails spamming inboxes around e world, this is my long lost ang moh twin sister living in Nigeria:

due to e threat of impending civil war, she is seeking my help to transfer USD25 million from her account with e Central Bank of Nigeria out of e country. she has promised to split e moolah between us (55% to her, 45% to me) if I agree to help her out by sending her, within 10 working days, my contact details, bank account number, & USD150000 to cover legal expenses & other costs that may be incurred during e transfer. this is provided she does not die mysteriously in a highway accident along e Sagamu/Lagos Express Road-To-Nowhere or in a plane crash over Sierra Leone. & yup I am supposed to keep a date free to fly over to London to meet up with an intermediary who will be handling e actual transaction, keep this entire transaction confidential, & not inform any US government official.

by e way, this supposed twin of mine practises witchcraft in Lagos, e former capital of Nigeria (FYI, it has been shifted to Abuja), & her work is shown live on national TV (MediaCorp Channel 5) in Singapore every Wednesday night at 10pm (+0800 GMT) in a drama series entitled 'Charmed' *grin*

[111103] for all those who have enjoyed e view from e upper deck of e SBS 2 bus on our way to Changi Village & Ubin for Noordin camping & CJ trips.

[111103] non-MOE definition of 'mother tongue': e language that your mother scolds you in. seriously think most of my Teochew & Hokkien was learnt by listening to big fat scoldings & arguments. & think e fact that I was always yelled at in perfect grammatically-correct English heavily doused with chim words helped a lot in my learning of e else would I have learnt words like indolent, insolent, incompetent & incorrigible? maybe JC GP tutors should focus more on scolding their students - rather than tearing up their essays - in order to brush up their vocabulary & prepare them for e verbal component of e SAT I exam. & yup this is in reference to a certain video clip =P

[151103] a few of e J-dorama with great soundtracks:

Aishiteru no itte kure - e first Japanese dorama that I watched, some time around 1995-6. about a deaf-mute artist & an aspiring actress. apart from sign language, they communicated by fax - like e scene where e artist flooded her fax machine with pages & pages that she joined together with scotch tape to form a drawing of a long snake. brings to mind my big fat cute snake from IKEA =D also remember a scene filmed in a beautiful art museum that first planted e idea of going to Japan in my head. no soundtrack but sis has compilation CDs of Japanese TV serial theme songs that includes e one for this drama, by Dreams Come True

Over Time - didn't watch this, but sis did & bought e soundtrack. it's now with her in California & I miss listening to it

Long Vacation - e best one so far, wonderful & hilarious plot & great soundtrack by CAGNET. e dorama where my sis pointed out e Rainbow bridge & other landmarks in Tokyo to me & explained at length e quirks about Japanese society after her month-long stay there.

Beautiful Life - another one with a great soundtrack, with music that TCS has used for trailers for other shows. 'Night Run' (track 9) makes for damn good listening while in e lab. also have e soundtrack for Kyumei Byoto 24-ji but can't find any pic to post here

[151103] there was this scene in some American show where someone died in a hospital at night, & e camera zoomed out to show e view of e room from outside of e window, & then e building, & then an aerial view of e big fat city with its neon lights, skyscrapers & expressways. struck me how e ward was just a tiny square of light on e building's facade, & how e building was but just a little structure lost somewhere in e mammoth expanse of e city, & how e city was just one of thousands around e world. & thought of how e hundreds of people in e same building were busy doing their own thing, & how e millions of people in e same city were going about their own lives - all anonymous, oblivious & far removed from that tiny square of light that barely registers a blip on e radar screen of e big fat world. & thought of how insignificant our own troubles seem when we take a step back & look at things in a greater context. life goes on, whether you like it or not - e world will not sit down & cry with you. used to imagine how we humans are just little specks on a little planet in a little solar system in a little galaxy in a cluster of galaxies in a supercluster in a big fat universe - makes us insignificant humans seem so ridiculous for e big fat fuss we kick up over anything & everything & e wars we wage. maybe if I were an alien I'd have died from laughing at this silly human race?

[181103] couldn't be a greater contrast: me telling Dr Ge back in 1999, based on e stuff that I'd been taught in secondary school & JC, that Cell Biology was a big fat BORING *yawn* (can still recall e reaction on her face - if looks could kill I'd have lost all 9 of my lives at one shot in her office)....& me choosing to specialise in Cell Biology for honours & postgrad research, & staying awake for every lecture (so far) of e TLL Cell Biology module....

[271103] when things reach e point where they can't get any worse, they can only get better?

if a tree falls in e forest & no one hears it, does it make a sound? - esse is percipi

[ filed under: thewonderingstraycat + 9_lives_2003 + music1 + labrat ]

November 24, 2003


MONKEY BAR DANGER WARNING - Straits Times 19 Nov 2003
More than 400 children fell from monkey bars and were taken to two hospitals with children's emergency rooms, in the 12 months ending in January this year. Of the 136 that ended up at the National University Hospital's children's emergency department, two-thirds had broken bones, and one in three had to stay in hospital. One was in intensive care. The KK Women's and Children's Hospital A&E attended to 278 children with monkey bar injuries. They made up more than a quarter of the 1,047 children treated for playground injuries. These numbers were revealed in a recent NUH study that recommended children under 10 avoid playing on monkey bars, a popular feature in many public housing estate playgrounds. One of the NUH doctors behind the study, Dr Toh Teck Hock, explained: 'Children under 10 are not so agile and usually don't know how to break a fall.'

HDB said it was looking into whether the bars should be included in future playgrounds. Playground accidents made up about 10 per cent of the 4,600 accident patients seen by NUH, said the report. But home was the biggest danger area, as that was where roughly half the child accident cases seen at NUH happened, including babies falling from sofas or beds. Of the two children who died from accidents, one was a nine-month-old boy who swallowed a screw. Dr Wong Chin Koon, who was also involved in the study, said common sense could have prevented most of the accidents. Put electrical cords out of reach behind furniture, for instance, and remove loose knobs and buttons on furniture that a child can choke on. Dr Wong added: 'You must start planning once you walk down the aisle. It will be very expensive to start child-proofing only when the baby arrives.'

should have seen e look on my mum's face when she read this article....when she finally stopped laughing, she remarked how Singaporean kids nowadays are brought up to be so hopeless & helpless, that before reaching e ripe old age of 10 years, they can sit for primary 3 streaming exams & conquer virtual worlds in computer games, & yet not be able to learn how to judge for their useless (to quote her exact words: 'lua3 boh3 yong3') selves how high they can (or cannot) climb on e monkey bars, or how far they should keep away from e trajectory of a playground swing (in some other article it was mentioned that swings were disappearing from HDB estate playgrounds cos kids were falling off or getting hit by them). & worst of all, in her opinion, these kids were unable to pick themselves up after a fall, & could only sit there & cry (her exact words again: 'zhei3 bang4 tou3 eh2 hi4 dao1 kiu1 kiu1 jiang4') for e maid. yup & she thinks that all those kids who can't learn to take care of themselves (& their parents who can't teach them or simply won't let them learn) deserve all those trips to e A&E. can just imagine how when e boys in this generation reach enlistment age, their parents will probably petition MPs to pressure SAF into doing away with monkey bars & other playground-associated structures from obstacle courses? that will be another big fat round of laughter for my mum =)

e playgrounds in my life:

  • Lagoon View: with monkey bars in e shape of an arch & painted red - my mum would lift me up to cling on for a while long before I dared to try them
  • Laguna Park: best swings with e longest chains ever, could swing till almost parallel to e ground
  • Tung Ling kindergarten: jungle gym that two boys & I would climb up to sit on top out of e teacher's reach so that we could delay going back to class
  • Siglap PCF kindergarten: had chickens & other animals kept by residents of e one-room flats in e same block, hence e stink of chicken poop
  • Changkat Changi Secondary School: obstacle course with plenty of mud. also e first school I ever went to in Singapore, even before starting nursery school or e new 'through-train' system can't match this =)
  • Siglap CC basketball court
  • Good Shepherd kindergarten: no challenge & e structures were unstable plastic rather than metal
  • Tao Nan school: obstacle course where kindergarten friends Terence, Pieter & Bianca taught me how to sit on top of chin-up bars & hang upside down from parallel bars & monkey bars
  • Pasir Ris Park: need more be said about e spider web?
  • Bayshore Park: highest-ever monkey bars =) where I learnt to climb low walls & jump from heights, & where e craze for climbing onto rooftops started (inspired e successful hunt for a way to get to e RGS rooftop)
  • Sentosa Palawan Beach: game station for one of e SPS newbie orientation camps

[ filed under: thewonderingstraycat + 9_lives_2003 ]

November 17, 2003

yio chu kang kampung

[171103] with places disappearing & people passing away & my memory short-circuiting everyday, I wonder for how long more can I remember all here goes:

e SBS 55 route that links Marine Parade & Bishan is like a journey back in time. from e stop near my present home, it passes by, one by one, e places where my relatives were resettled in when e government took back e kampung land in e mid-'80s - paternal grandaunt's former home next to e present day Maha Bodhi primary school in Kampong Ubi, her present home across e road in Kaki Bukit where she lives with my paternal uncles, second maternal aunt's former home (Blk 101) in Hougang South, late maternal grandma's former home (Blk 232) near Kovan, e nursing home where she spent her last days, & e homes of two maternal cousins (Blk 610 & Blk-I-forgot) in Punggol South just next to e primary & secondary schools that my dad attended.

when e bus enters Hougang Ave 2 & passes by Hougang Stadium, on e left will be a turning into Florence Road. this was once a dirt track that ran through e jungle from Serangoon Road all e way to e kampung & e wooden house built by my maternal grandpa, right smack on e very site where my dad's alma mater is being rebuilt today. e dirt track & jungle have been replaced by HDB blocks 601-632 & Punggol South Park. but Yio Chu Kang primary school (where eldest aunt sold snacks for a living from a little stall under e shade of a tree atop a hill), & Woodbridge Hospital in Buangkok (where an uncle worked) still remain in roughly e same location 20 years later. just that now they are accessible by new roads & buses, instead of e 1+km trudge along dirt paths that tired this preschooler out.

e house that grandpa built was a single-storey wooden structure with an attap roof, bare concrete floors, pale chalk green pillars & walls painted white on e exterior & light blue on e interior. facing e entrance was e altar, & e living area was on e right & all e bedrooms on e left. strangely cannot remember e house having any doors at all, only sheets of cloth that covered e entrance of each bedroom. but in those days nobody in e kampung ever closed e doors of their houses anyway, even at night. dogs simply wandered in & out as they liked. there were snakes & rats around but somehow only snakes were found within e house. probably cos whatever rats that crawled in were eaten by e snakes that slithered in through e gaps in e wooden walls? outside of e main house was e space where e scooters & my eldest maternal uncle's van were parked. right across was a wooden zinc-roofed shed where cooking was done over charcoal stoves. e loo was a shack with a cesspit below a wooden platform, & remember being so scared of losing my footing & falling in. by e time I was born, e government had restricted pig-farming to certain areas to cut down on pollution, & so there were no more pigs in e kampung. but my mum used to have to chop up banana trees & use their trunks to make some kinda mush to feed e pigs before she went to school every morning.

e transition to HDB high-rise living wasn't easy for e older relatives who'd never stepped into a multi-storey anything or taken an elevator ride before. e concept of having e kitchen within e house, suspending laundry poles from outside of e window, even sliding windows, cooker hoods & dustbin chutes confounded a few of them. for many many years to come eldest aunt would persist in setting up her charcoal stove at e staircase landing outside e front door of her flat & cooking up a storm that one could smell from e carpark four stories below. & I recall seeing older folks clinging to e inner walls as they walked along corridors, refusing to go anywhere near e parapet cos of their fear of heights.

[151203 update] The Persistence of Memory by Salvador Dali:

[ filed under: thewonderingstraycat ]