All it took was a little MacGyvering

My vacuum cleaner, fixed!

Over a month ago, I ran into vacuum cleaner trouble. Here's the summary from my Facebook status update that day:
[Tym] wonders if anyone can troubleshoot a vacuum cleaner – the motor works fine but the machine (with or without the hose) is not sucking up anything.
Friend #1: change the bag?
ME: Took the bag out to empty it and fit it back in. It seems to be in the right slot, but very little "sucking" power is coming out of the machine.
Friend #2: talk to the fellow, tell him, "oi, work la"
Friend #3: Check for leaks.
Friend #4: check the ports for blockage..
Friend #5: cat hairs wreak havoc with filters ...
Friend #6: It has an exhaust also.. check the machine at the opposite end of the hose end.. to see if it's somehow blocked
ME: Thanks for all the suggestions. I don't think it's a leak and the hose is ok too. I've washed the filter and will try again tomorrow when it's dry. Failing which ... it's time to find me a vacuum whisperer.
Tonight, I finally got the vacuum whisperer to make a house call. That is, I got a friend who used to MacGyver things for a living to come over. Within half an hour he had troubleshot (troubleshooted?) the problem and fixed it with some gaffer tape. Not that I'm the sort of person who ordinarily has gaffer tape lying around, but he bought me some on a previous occasion when he fixed another household hiccup for me.

The morals of the story:
  • Gaffer tape binds the universe together.
  • Friends who like to tinker with stuff (and know how to do it without electrocuting themselves) can save you a bundle in either repair bills or a new vacuum cleaner.
Now if only he can get his hands on a multimeter so that he can troubleshoot one of my Ikea lamps ...

Labels: ,


No pictures, just (a bit of) text

Unlike the previous Lonely Planet research trip, I'm finding it harder these first few days to find the time to stay sort and label my images, which means I haven't gotten round to uploading any to Flickr. Meanwhile, just imagine the land of Winter Sonata (minus any actual winter), and you pretty much have an idea of what it all looks like around me.

When we return to our regularly scheduled programming, remind me to tell you about the story of the three jovial 60-year-old men I met at a rural bus stop. Also about funky university cafes in Chuncheon, huffing and puffing my way up an inclined road on a bicycle because I'd missed the (level) bicycle path, inhaling allegedly jade-infused air to improve my qi and wasting time looking for a room key that (duh) was in the power-activation slot for my hotel room in the first place.

(Uh ... forget about the last story. I'm pretty lame that way.)

Labels: , ,


A household in rebellion

The washing machine is fixed and running again, but one of my bedroom lamps has gone kaput.

Labels: ,


I wish I'd taken a video

--- but I was too busy freaking out that my washing machine was rocking its way around the kitchen like it was possessed by a poltergeist. First I tried to hold the machine still, but my feeble arms were no match for its wild motions, so I switched it off before it crashed into the sink or something.

I don't know what's wrong with the machine, but a repairman is coming tomorrow. Meanwhile, I have a heap of wet laundry and I'm nervously anticipating the repair bill. My threshold is $300 inclusive of the $62 house-call fee; if it crosses that mark, I'll probably just go buy the same Samsung washing machine my mother recently acquired, which sings a happy tune when the washing is done. (Seriously.)

I knew something would go awry before I left on my trip. Last time it was Ink's eye; this time it's appliance failure. Just one more thing I have to stick on my to-do list, which I've ordered by day so that I spread out the work and the errands and don't leave everything till the very. Last. Day.

See, I have learned from the last time.



Too darn wet

It's been unseasonally rainy, the kind of rain we're supposed to get in January (but this year we had just a lot of wind instead). It's odd having to deal with monsoon-style rain at this time of the year --- it just doesn't feel like March. But I don't really mind the wet. Gadding about in flip-flops brings me right back to last year's Vietnam trip, especially when I'm wearing the pair of black slippers I had to buy in Hue because my Tevas were giving me blisters. And I'm grateful for any cool weather that Singapore gets.

Nonetheless, I hope it's not going to be so wet in South Korea, which is where I'm headed next. It'll be spring and there's supposed to be "light rain"; I'm going to hit Beach Road market to pick up another $3 army poncho before I leave, but I hope I won't have to use it much.

What have been too wet lately are my pasta sauces. I failed to drain the diced tomatoes before chucking them in last week's bolognaise, resulting in a soupy sauce, and I messed up the proportion of chicken stock to sour cream on tonight's stroganoff, making for another liquidy concoction. Taste-wise both were fine, but these little screw-ups are the reason I never trust myself to cook a full meal for family or friends.

Cool things I found on the web today:

Labels: , , ,



Still ennui-fied, as I put it to a friend a couple of days ago, but there are things to be grateful for:
  • Story published in Hemispheres.
  • Recipe attempted successfully.
  • Studio 60 watched in its entirety at last (only two years late).
  • Good, good late-night conversations (post-nap, post-Korean food, post-research trip to bookstore).
  • Good, good friends.

Labels: , , ,


A little water rationing

Not exactly, but I did spend some time last night filling various jugs, bottles, the kettle, one basin and one stockpot with water. As Serene noted in response to my Facebook status update that I was hoarding water, it was very much a flashback to those Good Citizen (in Chinese, 好公民) or "moral education" lessons in primary school about saving water.

I was hoarding water because a warning notice came last week, saying there might be a "disruption of water supply" today from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. because they were gonna be tinkering with the water tank in my block of flats. In the end it was only a three-hour disruption, so that was three hours in the afternoon when I couldn't pee and couldn't drink water (because then I would need to pee) and couldn't wash the lunch dishes.

Now that the water's back, I have heaps of water lying around and no plants to pour them into. I'm tempted to leave the big basin of water out for as long as it lasts, since the cats seem to be perfectly happy drinking from it.

Labels: ,


Money no enough

This year's ang pows

When my mother asked me a couple of weeks ago how many new notes of each denomination I would need for this New Year's ang pows (red packets), my head was full of moving house and I just gave her some rough numbers over the phone.

It was only when I sat down to pack ang pows this morning --- less than an hour before I'm due at Fifth Aunt's, I might add --- that I realised I'd grossly miscalculated and didn't have enough money. As a result, my first SMS of the New Year was hardly an auspicious one. I sent the following to my mom:
Can you bring me an extra $[amount redacted] in $2 bills?
Her answer was yes, of course, because my mother is nothing if not hyper-efficient. Unlike, say, me.

Happy new year, everyone!

Labels: ,


Settling in

After Wahj graciously drove the cats and I over to the new flat during rush-hour traffic, I spent a little time getting them settled and watching them pace from one room to another. Then I left them to it and headed to my nearest HDB town central.

What I needed were essentials like toilet cleaner and breakfast food. What I ended up getting as well --- because what's the point of pottering around "the heartlands" if you don't make the most of it ---was some Chinese New Year decor and gloriously tacky ang pows to hand out to the kidlets.

Getting into the spirit

I think I'm going back for the red-and-gold hanging lanterns and fu (luck) signs.

Labels: ,


Amidst moving

I spent all of yesterday dealing with movers, then unpacking and organising --- and totally failed to take a picture of the amazing view from the new flat. I'll grab one later when I head over to finish unpacking and cat-proofing the place.

If all goes well, I should be living there by tomorrow night and waking up to the whistling wind from this weekend. I've been warned that when there's a thunderstorm, the crashing of the waves is pretty audible, even though I'm on the top floor of a very high block of flats. We shall see.

One thing I'm gonna need is a new (and good) office chair, something that will stand up to 8-10 hours of sitting per day (er ... pardon the pun, or is that a mixed metaphor at this point?). I would love an Embody, but I'd have to land such a huge contract before I allowed myself to splurge on one.

Meantime, it's back to Ikea (from left to right, top to bottom): there's the Allak, Joakim, Patrik and --- my personal favourite --- the Skruvsta.
Ikea office chairs
Images taken from Ikea

The Skruvsta gets pretty good reviews (from decor8 readers, among others) and I totally fell in love with it when I was last at Ikea on a browsing visit, so I'm leaning towards that. Thoughts?

Labels: ,


Writers' Rooms

The BBC website has a great slideshow of photographs by Eamonn McCabe of writers' rooms --- from Martin Amis to David Lodge to Roald Dahl. I particularly love the skylights that Seamus Heaney and Martin Amis have.

My own writing space at home is much more mundane. Cheap, too.

My el cheapo writing corner

I promise to do better after I move to a new place. I want to have:
  • A whole room, for starters.
  • A chair/table setup that's better for the back --- wish I could afford the new Herman Miller Embody.
  • More artwork around me.
  • More natural light --- I totally fell for an apartment I can't afford in Joo Chiat two weeks ago because it had glorious windows.

Labels: , ,


Get a whiff of this

It's funny how one's fingertips still smell faintly of raw garlic two days after I chopped some.

Labels: ,


I don't have a spillproof mug but ...

After yesterday's misadventure, this is where I place my coffee cup now.

The placement of a coffee mug

It might still get tipped over, but at least it's on a chair, below where the laptop sits.

The Kleenex isn't there to mop up spills, by the way. It's usually on the table, but this morning I stuck it there 'cause I needed more immediate access to tend to my sniffly nose (it's reacting to the unseasonably cool weather).

At least I'm not resorting to a sippy cup.



What kind of a dork am I?

The kind of dork that spills coffee on her laptop AGAIN. And this time, neither cat was in the vicinity so I can't pini it on them.

One minute I'm saying hi to beeker online, the next minute there's coffee over half the table, and too much of it on the Macbook. And then the Macbook decides to go black as I wiping down the keyboard (while knowing in my heart from the previous experience that I'll need to take it in anyway, because any minute now the keys will start sticking together) and doesn't boot up anymore.

I hope it's just a short-circuited motherboard and not any hard drive damage, because I have 4,000 words of a new chapter of the book I'm co-writing in there.

4,000 words. Not backed up because I only finished it yesterday.


All right, instead of dwelling on my ownself-sabo-ownself troubles, let me tally the things I have to be grateful for despite this morning's clumsy little SNAFU:
  • Most of my data is backed up 'cause I did a backup just a few days ago.
  • Most of the un-backed up data is stuff I can either download again or pull off my Gmail, Google Notebook or some other web-based entity (thank you, sangsara, for introducing me to Google Notebook last week).
  • Lucian showed me this video (warning: geeky font humour) to make me laugh and feel better.
  • The person I'm meeting for lunch kindly rescheduled it to an earlier time, so that I can meet her, then take the Macbook in to get fixed, stat.
  • I still have the iBook, which still works well enough for what I need, so I'm not totally computer-less while the Macbook is in the shop.
I really hope I can retrieve that 4,000 word document.

Labels: ,


Mornings are getting harder

11 o'clock

So far this week, I have:
  • Poured un-boiled water onto coffee grounds.
  • Poured boiling water into an empty coffeemaker.
  • Forgotten to eat breakfast, resulting in a forlorn and overripe banana that had to be cast into the trash yesterday.
I'm not overworked at the moment, so I'm not sure where all this un-wakefulness is coming from ...

Labels: ,


Weird things that happened this week


Around lunchtime, I got a call from a private number. The woman who was calling asked me for my name and whether I'd called her. I hadn't --- I hadn't called anyone that morning --- but it emerged that she had received a mysterious phone call from my number about an hour ago, during which a man, er, didn't say anything. (I surmise some heavy breathing might've been involved.)

As I told her politely but firmly: I live alone, I'd been alone at home all morning, no one else had touched my phone and I certainly hadn't used it to call her. She read out the mobile number to me and it was my number, which then creeped me out because I was wondering how someone could prank-call her but somehow leave my number behind.

Fortunately for me, the woman accepted my explanation and there were no further weird calls (at least, not on my end) for the rest of the day. I'm still wondering how my mobile number wound up on her caller ID, though ...


A work meeting got cancelled, leaving me with several hours free. I mean, I could've done some other work, but instead I decided to clean house.

Me --- choosing to clean house over, well, anything else? Very weird. I'm still not sure what possessed me.


Today, I was making bacon and eggs for lunch. The bacon was no problem, but the first egg that I cracked into the pan --- well, let's just say that instead of a transparent goo coalescing into the familiar bubbliness of egg white, what I got instead was a very strange smell and a rather black substance in the middle of my pan.

Was it the smell of a rotten egg? I honestly don't know. It was odd, but it didn't make me feel ill or anything. Although I hastily scraped the semi-cooked black goo out of the pan, stat, and poured boiling water over the pan to, er, sanitize it (at least in my mind).

Fortunately, I had one other good egg left, so I could still have bacon and (an) egg. What would've been irredeemable is if the good egg had gone into the pan and the bad egg had gone in on top of it.



Get your own Swedish furniture name

$61.70 worth of stuff from Ikea

I have a love-hate relationship with Ikea, so the Blogadilla Swedish Furniture Name Generator made me giggle.

My Swedish furniture name is YYMEI --- what's yours?


Labels: , ,


Instead of cooking

I had an inexplicable craving for delivery pizza tonight, so for the first time in over a year, I called Sarpino's and put in an order (with a friend standing by to help with the eating). The best part was that between us, we polished off the two 10" pizzas and side order of chicken wings, so there were no leftovers for the fridge, hurrah!

I would've cooked dinner but I've run into plumbing problems again: one of the pipes running from the kitchen sink has sprung a leak. A friend is gonna help seal it up this weekend, but meanwhile I'm avoiding any kitchen activities that would entail washing the dishes with soap. The hardest part is, predictably, not being able to make coffee in the morning.

Labels: ,


A little cat crisis

Yin & yang

As I reported jubilantly to a few cat-loving friends last week, Ink and Sisu seem to be finally settling down. There's been much less scuffling and many more instances when I stumble upon them grooming each other. Of course, what usually happens is that mid-grooming, Ink will decide he'd rather nibble upon Sisu's neck instead, or Sisu will be more persistent at licking Ink's ear than he'd like --- and then they're off in a tumble again.

The important thing is that they haven't knocked anything over.

However, today I learned at the vet that Sisu shouldn't be eating Ink's prescription food (Royal Canin's anti-urinary tract infection diet, with the extremely appetising name of Urinary S/O). I thought it was harmless and she really loves it anywaLinky, but no, the vet says it could affect her urine pH balance. My brain does not intuitively comprehend why that's bad but, er, it is.

At the same time, Ink absolutely cannot have regular cat food anymore. So the bottom line is that I have to get Ink and Sisu their own food, and make sure they don't eat out of each other's bowls when I'm not watching.

Which means that if I'm not home, Ink and Sisu don't get fed, unless I put them in separate rooms with their separate food --- but then that entails having a second kitty litter set-up in the separate room too. And in the small flat where I live, the only possible separate room is my bedroom. I really don't want a kitty litter set-up in there, even temporarily.

Okay, that's way too much thinking and agonizing. For today, I've stocked up on their separate types of food (Sisu gets Avoderm, for those of you who care) and fed them only under strict supervision. We'll see how things go over the next few days.

Labels: ,


Properly unpacked

I realised earlier this week that I wasn't writing very well or resting very well, probably because the apartment was still in something of a shambles. While I'd gotten the bedroom, bathroom and half the hall in good shape within the first weekend of living here, the kitchen was barely unpacked and the other half of the hall was full of stuff that belonged elsewhere. Add the fact that I'd cleared out over 100 books, but they were still in stacks on the floor waiting for friends to come pick over the leavings --- and it would seem that I was still living in a thrift store after over two weeks of being here.

So I set aside this weekend to get the place in order, which entailed buying under-bed storage boxes and kitchen shelves to stash things away, unpacking all the remaining boxes, organising the kitchen, dragooning a friend to come over and install the shelves he'd handed down to me (they spent a week sitting by the front door, adding to the general disarray) --- and cleaning up after everything.

Bag of tricks

If that previous sentence read like a mouthful to you, let me just say that it felt pretty nonstop to me too. Good thing I allowed myself to sleep in both mornings, so the fatigue that'd been plaguing me all week couldn't be used as excuse for procrastinating further on things.

But at least everything is in order now, and I'm not tripping over boxes every time I need to pull out a book or get to the other side of the bed.

Books aside, I also have a set of cutlery and some odd bits of crockery to give away, so if anyone needs to kit out their kitchen, let me know.


Technorati Tags: , ,

Labels: ,


I will not pour coffee grounds down the sink

I have been living with a blocked sink since the first day of the Chinese New Year (i.e. last Thursday), which cannot be good for one's luck. I thought that the blockage was due to accumulated crap in the drainpipe from all the people who've lived in this flat in its thirtysomething-year history --- but when my trusty plumber showed up this afternoon, it turned out that the culprit of the blockage was all too recent: the coffee grounds I've been pouring out of my French press since I moved in.

In my own defence, I used to pour these same grounds down the sink at the old place, and never had any problems. But I guess old pipes with their convoluted twists and turns are more vulnerable. It only took one week to block up the sink.

While living for four days with no working kitchen sink was tolerable only because I spent so much time not-at-home, things took a dire turn yesterday when the stopper on the bathroom sink somehow got wedged into place, reducing drainage to a trickle and resisting all attempts to un-wedge it. Bah!

Anyway, all is well now and the important thing is that I will be able to resume making my own coffee tomorrow. Which is absolutely critical because Starbucks is really awful (and the [email protected] connection there wasn't working this morning) and the kopi at the nearby coffeeshops is meh at best.

PS: On the safe side, I'm going to also buy a plunger --- though I'm not sure that my inept self could use it very successfully.


Technorati Tags: ,




As wiser voices have already pointed out, this is something I should've done before moving. Oh well. To quote The New York Times (via Unclutterer):
There is nothing like being forced to pack up every last thing you own, load it onto a truck, and unload and unpack it on the other end to make you question the true value of all that stuff.
So perhaps it makes sense that it's only after moving house this week, not to mention many moments of "Oh, I didn't know I had this" while I was packing, that made me take a fine tooth comb to my book collection. About one-third of the books that I'm probably never going to reread are now in the "out" pile --- or rather, the 11 such piles that flank the front door and the TV.

Books to go

Also, whereas I used to pretty much buy everything I wanted to read, I will henceforth be more circumspect and buy-to-keep only those titles that I'm fairly certain I will want to read again. This is the rule that's worked well with my DVD collection so far --- I own less than 20 movies and box sets only for Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The West Wing and a to-be-completed Battlestar Galactica.

I'm also thinking about getting rid of CDs, but part of me wonders what'll happen if I *touch wood* lose my MP3s in some kind of massive digital calamity that eats up my backups too? So I can't yet be as Zen about it as Nate Mendel, especially since I can't buy music off iTunes in Singapore.

If you might be interested in buying some secondhand books, send me an email (toomanythoughts [at] Gmail) and I'll keep you posted on upcoming book sales. I've got too many books to list at the moment, but you can get an idea of what I read, starting with the 2007 list (caveat: not everything on these lists is for sale).


Technorati Tags: , ,

Labels: ,


I failed to pack the coffee

While the movers were impeccable in hauling furniture and 30-something boxes up to the new place, I failed to give clear instructions to my mother regarding the coffee --- which means it got left behind and I only realised it this morning when I woke up in the new place and couldn't find it.

Fortunately, the only thing I had to do this morning was to make sure the Starhub guy got the broadband and cable access set up alright. By 11 am, I was online and things seemed to be falling into place.

Except for the unpacking.

Unpacked (sorta)

As I've told several people today, the place looks like a cross between a second-hand book store and a furniture leftover storeroom. Or as Ondine suggested --- albeit without seeing the place --- a thrift store. I desperately need to declutter, and a book sale might be in the works (a travesty, I know).

In the meantime, I live amidst boxes and stacks of stuff, and the cat is whining from disorientation. But hey, at least I bought new coffee today.


Technorati Tags: , ,

Labels: , , ,


Packing: Day Three

Except that I was too tired last night to blog about it.

My mother came over and swept all of the kitchen into boxes. Well, not literally, because that would've meant breaking all the things she so carefully wrapped in newspaper and then even more carefully wedged into boxes. Truly she is the domestic goddess, but I am, er, not.

This reduces me to eating cereal out of a disposable plastic box this morning. There are also two eggs in the fridge, but nothing to cook them in --- unless you count the kettle?


Technorati Tags: ,



Packing: Day Two

Among the things I tossed out today:
  • Half my bags: handbags, messenger bags, document bags --- some I'd forgotten I owned, some unfashionable now, some that I got for free when I bought something, some that made me wonder what the hell I was thinking when I used them and some that I simply don't use anymore because of lifestyle changes.
  • More than half my winter clothes, mostly because they're too big on me now.
  • Boxes and manuals for a bewildering number of devices that have passed through this household: an iBook and a Powerbook and a Macbook, four models of Nokia phones, one Palm, one Clie, one Fujifilm camera, a Motorola cable modem, a Linksys router, a Netgear router and one Creative SoundBlaster.
By tossed out, I should clarify that I don't mean all of it went into the trash. Those that can be recycled or reused by someone else, will be.

My new household rule: if something new comes into the house, the corresponding old item has to go out. Or I'm going to be playing this game of clear-up catch-up for the rest of my life.


Technorati Tags: ,

Labels: ,


Prepping to move (or not)

Things I have done in preparation for moving to the new apartment:
  • Getting off the elevator at an earlier floor and walking six floors up to get home.
    I only need to walk up four floors at the new place, but the elevator doesn't stop at every floor in the current building and I figure climbing the extra two floors is useful training.
  • Washing dishes in only one sink, instead of exploiting both.
  • Stopped buying books and asking friends who have loaned my books to return them only after I move.
  • Become a daily reader of Apartment Therapy, Design*Sponge and Ikea Hacker.
Stay tuned for the list of things I haven't done to prepare (including *gasp* packing).


Technorati Tags:

Labels: ,


It never rains but it pours

It's been pouring a lot --- the rain, that is. I love it.

Work's been pouring too. I have major deadlines before Xmas, which has turned me into a furious writing machine whose eyes get itchy from fatigue around dinnertime --- but I typically plough on for a few more hours anyway. Meanwhile, all non-essential social plans have been axed, all Xmas decorations are still buried in the storeroom, and I try not to think about the fact that every other person I know seems to be traipsing off on vacation.

Nonetheless, for dinner tonight, I took the time to whip up (almost literally) some lemon linguine from a Nigella recipe. I now know how to separate yolks from whites. It would've helped if I'd remembered the salt and pepper, though.

Is it really ten days till Xmas?


Labels: ,


Occasionally, I can cook

Nigella's How To Eat taught me how to marinate and pan-fry chicken breast. bowb taught me how to saute mushrooms to perfection (a lot of butter and garlic is involved). I took a risk by tossing some cherry tomatoes into the mix. Less risk was involved with the final sprinkling of oregano and parsley and salt.

And then there was dinner.


Technorati Tags:

Labels: ,


Dreaming of pancakes

Leafing through Nigella Lawson's How To Eat before sleeping leaves one dreaming of fresh pancakes and robust syrup from Australia.

I don't know if Australia makes remarkable syrup. Maybe my brain got confused and meant to say New Hampshire. As in,
LEO: It's a breakfast, Toby, it's a pancake breakfast. There's nothing in that memo that's important.
BARTLET: We're having Vermont maple syrup?
TOBY: Mr President, if you read item 4 you'll see that time at this breakfast will be spent discussing calling the Patient's Bill of Rights the Comprehensive Access and Responsibility Act.
BARTLET: I don't give a damn if they call it the Monroe doctrine. What the hell are we doing serving Vermont maple syrup? [a few lines later ...] New Hampshire syrup is what we serve in this White House.
--- "The Leadership Breakfast", The West Wing
I'm nowhere near ready to start whipping up my own pancake batter yet, so it'll be cereal and bananas, with no syrup of any kind, later this morning.


Technorati Tags: ,

Labels: ,


A hodge-podge of stories

I've been meaning to blog for the past four days at least, but whenever I've sat down with this blank Blogger screen in front of me, nothing's come to mind.

Japanese vending machine drinks - in Singapore

I mean, there was the story about the mango. My friend and I were walking along Upper East Coast Road when a) two bats dived out of the tree just in front of us, b) I spotted a huge mango on the road just beside the curb. "A mango!" I squeaked. My friend was nonplussed, although he stopped to look down at it. "Get it!" I squeaked." But then a taxi was coming down the road. "It'll squash the mango --- " "No, it won't. Get it!" And then we had a mango. It's in my friend's fridge, last I heard, so I can't report on how it tastes (you see why this makes a weak story?). I'm still amazed that it fell off the tree just as we were walking by --- thank you, fruit bats!

Then there's the story about wandering through a corner of Chinatown with Wahj on a too-hot Saturday afternoon, during which I introduced him to Global Sounds World Music Cafe, while interjecting every now and then about the Japanese prostitutes that used to inhabit Spring Street and the "death houses" (where the destitute went to die) that used to run down Sago Lane. That's what comes of spending a week reading about the seedy underbelly of 19th-century Singapore. Wahj said I should start running walking tours, but this being Singapore, one needs a pesky government licence for that, plus it's too hot to be walking around that much.

What other stories have I got for you? My uncle had quite a few when we all had dinner over the weekend. He'd just come in from Canada, but from the stories he told, you'd think he'd just returned from a round-the-world expedition. The best story was about taking a public bus between towns in Turkey --- only to have armed policemen muscle aboard with a handcuffed man that they were transporting to prison. Those were the days, I guess ...

Today's sad tale could be of how I had (as usual) too much work and had to (as usual) work after dinner. But instead, let's talk about coriander pesto and how it's totally different from basil pesto, which means that my pasta dinner didn't taste exactly as I'd expected (though it still tasted alright). Coriander always makes me expect a curry flavour. Guess I'll have to go look up a different recipe now ...


Technorati Tags:

Labels: , ,


So much for the pesto

When my dinner plans for tonight got postponed, I decided I would come home and make some pasta with the pesto sauce I bought last week. I didn't know what I would put in the pesto sauce (bear in mind that cooking doesn't come intuitively to me), but I would figure out something. If nothing else, there was always Google to help me along.

Except that I never got round to Googling a pesto recipe before I got to the grocery store after work. Then I thought I would heed wurh's advice and get some veggies that I could fry up to toss i the pesto.

Except that after I picked up a prepacked salad, my brain leap straight ahead to, "I wonder what meant I should buy?" and my feet obligingly whizzed me over to the meat fridge as if the rest of the vegetable section didn't exist. There, I got sidetracked into choosing between chicken (which is all I cooked the last few times) and minced beef (which therefore won the coin toss), and never looked back.

It was not till I'd paid for my groceries and was walking out the store that I remembered that the original plan was pesto. Pesto.

Don't worry, I didn't try to "experiment" with minced beef and pesto. The minced beef went safely into a tomato sauce (satisfying enough, though I added too much rosemary) and the pesto remains untouched. Maybe next week.

Meanwhile, in a stirring re-enactment of one of the grocery-shopping gaffes Terz and I once made, I picked up a packet of Gruyere cheese that I thought was $5-something but turned out to be $9. It wasn't the store's fault; I hadn't looked closely enough at the label on the cheese. Now I'm going to eat every last bite of it, dammit.


Technorati Tags: ,



Things I meant to blog in the week that passed


Some days all I do is plot to leave this country.

Other days, I've got my goreng pisang (fresh from the wok) in one hand, a cup of sugar cane juice in the other, as I'm traipsing from Telok Ayer across a corner of Chinatown to Peck Seah Street --- and it feels just like home.


On MSN with James:
James: So how has it been so far?
ME: moving the shelves into the living room
ME: then reorganising all the books again
James: So butch!
James: I think you were a lesbian in your past life

At Raffles City, I literally almost ran into a friend I hadn't spoken to in several months. But all I had time for was, "Sorry, sorry, I'm late, I'm late!" and keep on running.

Not five steps later, I ran into another friend, and yammered the same staccato response while still in motion.

Dammit, I need to stop being late for everything.

Including updating this blog.


Labels: ,


I forgot to pay my bill

First, it was due, but I thought I'd paid it, so I ignored it.

Then I got another bill informing me that payment was now overdue, but I really thought I'd paid it, so I ignored it.

Then I thought I'd better check, so I got in touch with the government agency concerned (after the due date of the second bill). They told me that I hadn't paid it, no sirree. Whoops.

Then I procrastinated.

This morning I tried to pay the bill online, but apparently online payments are not permitted for overdue bills (why the hell not?). The not-so-small print on the bill informs me that "legal proceedings may be initiated to recover the outstanding amount if payment is still not received". Oops.

I've emailed the government agency concerned to ask how I can make payment. Hopefully they won't take that as an invitation to sue the pants off me.


Related Posts: Procrastination, Chinese New Year-style, Why I should not procrastinate, The afternoon: a chronology, *poof*, They won't throw me in jail for my birthday, I procrastinate, therefore I am

Technorati Tags: ,

Labels: ,


Home fixin'

While I was assembling the fan

The nice thing about recovering from the cold is getting these short spurts of energy. So I mustered some of it into buying and assembling a new fan this week, which was something I hadn't had the time to do for about two weeks. Ink's contribution was to investigate all the plastic bags that the fan parts came in, which is why he's not left unsupervised with such bags lest he gets trapped in one of them.

I'm very pleased with having put the fan together myself. Previous attempts at any home assembly kits usually ended with me shrieking hysterically at an incomprehensible assembly manual and the item-to-be-assembled left halfway done/put together crooked/missing an essential screw. This fan stands sturdily, spins reassuringly and didn't take more than half an hour of my life to put together.

Next week, we'll tackle getting the airconditioning serviced. It's getting too hot to function without it.




A Chindian lunch

I don't normally use the phrase "Chindian" (i.e. a mixture of Chinese and Indian) and indeed, I'd never heard of it till a few years ago. But it seems appropriate to describe today's made-at-home lunch (not to be confused with a homecooked lunch), which consists of:
  • basmati rice
  • mushroom achari out of an instant pack (thank you, Mustafa)
  • a fried egg
If I wanted to be really Chinese about it, the fried egg would be sunny-side up (instead of over-easy, which is how I like it) and sprinkled with soya sauce.

Speaking of Chindian meals, has anyone tried the several-months-old Indian Wok at Siglap? It claims to be some blend of Chinese and Indian cuisine, though from the outside the decor looks more heavily Indian than anything. Part of me wants to give it a shot, another part of me shies away from what seems to be yet another variety of "fusion cusine" ...


Technorati Tags: ,

Labels: , ,


Procrastination, Chinese New Year-style

And so it was, that on the eve of Chinese New Year, I finally got my shit sorted out.

First thing this morning (meaning some time after 10 am), I bought the very last box of oranges available at the neighbourhood fruit vendor. He had a few other boxes on display, but said that they'd been reserved by other customers. 21 Chaozhou oranges for $8.50 --- not too exorbitant for an absolute last-minute buy.

Then I called my mother to tell her how many new dollar bills I need in each particular denomination for this year's ang pows. I usually rely on my mother for the new bills because banks only dole them out in huge amounts of like $200 worth of two-dollar bills, whereas I never need more than $80 worth (particularly once I factor in the leftover new two-dollar bills from the previous year's ang pow situation). However, I also usually sort this out well before the eve of the New Year.

Small-denomination bills settled, I had to go get some fifty-dollar bills from the neighbourhood ATM. Banks don't typically dole out fifty-dollar bills; they tell customers to go to the ATMs for those. But it seems (according to the reliable source that is my mother) that there's a shortage of fifties this year, so all I got at the ATM were used bills.

In feeble defence of my apparent procrastination, I should mention that I actually went to the ATM to get the fifties yesterday. However, this fails to factor in the fact that after eight years of giving out the same number of large-value ang pows (to grandparents, parents and siblings), I got the math wrong. Which necessitated today's ATM trip.

Nevertheless, the best thing about doing things at the last minute, is scoring the wickedest ang pows that one could give to kids. And they were free, too.

"Level up" ang pows

Funkiest. Ang pows. Ever.


Related Posts: Why I should not procrastinate, The afternoon: a chronology, *poof*, They won't throw me in jail for my birthday, I procrastinate, therefore I am

Technorati Tags: , , , ,

Labels: ,


Not done growing yet

Let's see how I measure up against 25 Signs That, Sadly, You've Grown Up (via By The Way).

1. Your house plants are alive, and you can't smoke any of them.

The only house plant we've ever had is dead. In fact, any house plants ever given to me by some well-meaning friend has died. So perhaps this criterion doesn't really apply to me anyway.

2. Having sex in a twin bed is out of the question.

I'd say sleeping in one for more than one night is out of the question.

3. You keep more food than beer in the fridge.

True --- but only because beer isn't exactly dirt cheap in Singapore (I don't like the canned varieties).

4. 6:00 AM is when you get up, not when you go to bed.

Not any more! I usually wake up at about 8 am these days. Never been to bed at 6 am more than a dozen times in my life, though.

5. You hear your favorite song on an elevator.

Okay, I've never heard my favourite song on an elevator (or any number that count as favourites at any given time), but I have heard the muzak version of music that I liked ten, twenty years ago in an elevator, and I remember cringing at the fact --- both at the dishonour done to the song and the fact that I was old enough to remember when it first came out.

Actually, at my age, popping by Zouk's Mambo Night is a surefire way to induce the latter reaction.

6. You watch the Weather Channel.

Don't have it in Singapore! On occasion, we find ourselves watching some Shakespearean or period drama on the Hallmark Channel, though. Does that count?

7. Your friends marry and divorce instead of hook up and break up.

Fortunately, most of my friends either seem to be comfortably ensconced in the marriage boat or are still at the hook-up/break-up stage, skipping the messy business of divorce (though not always the messy business of how-do-we-stay-friends-and-hang-out-with-that-cool-person-now-that-they're-broken-up-with-our-friend?).

8. You go from 130 days of vacation time to 14.

Technically, I get zero vacation time this year. If I don't work, I don't make any money. Ah, the glory of freelancing ...

9. Jeans and a sweater no longer qualify as "dressed up."

Definitely not a sweater, in Singapore, but I'm going to assume a T-shirt passes for the tropical equivalent. Yeah, a T-shirt with jeans (or anything, really) doesn't quite qualify as "dressed up" in my book anymore, but I can still get away with it on days when I don't have to meet Anyone Important.

On the other hand, "dressed up" for my line of work can still mean nice jeans (i.e. without embarrassing holes or an unflattering silhouette), just paired instead with a dressy-ish top and non-sneaker shoes.

Note to self: learn more from Tofu Nation.

10. You're the one calling the police because those damn kids next door won't turn down the stereo.

Fortunately, there are no damn kids next door old enough to blast the stereo (though one of our neighbour's is about to have a baby, which I suppose could trigger a whole different kind of stereo noise). However, I did almost call the police once when a Seventh Moon/Hungry Ghost Festival auction at a neighbouring block went on for far too long, far too late on a Sunday night.

11. Older relatives feel comfortable telling sex jokes around you.

Damn, with my mother's side, this has been happening since I was a teenager. It's just that half of the jokes are in Cantonese, which I don't altogether follow.

My father's former colleagues still don't want to swear around me, though.

12. You don't know what time Taco Bell closes anymore.

I never liked Taco Bell. I do, however, know where to get food after midnight in Singapore, and thanks to an IM conversation with Sarah, I now know that the pseudo-pretentiously-named TCC (The Coffee Connoisseur) outlet at Clarke Quay is open till 2 am on weekends for those late-night coffee-and-dessert cravings.

13. Your car insurance goes down and your payments go up.

No car = no car insurance! Hooray! Though we still miss our Buttercup on occasion.

14. You feed your dog Science Diet instead of McDonalds leftovers.

We have a cat and feed it Felidae. Fortunately for us, he seems completely uninterested in human food, so we don't have to fend him off every time one of us sits down with a snack (McDonald's leftovers or otherwise).

15. Sleeping on the couch makes your back hurt.

Obviously, you haven't met my couch. It's the perfect couch for sleeping in! The only time either of us get a backache is if the aforementioned cat insists on having space of his own, which then squishes us into a funny sleeping position.

16. You no longer take naps from noon to 6 PM.

Does the occasional weekend 3-7 pm nap count?

17. Dinner and a movie is the whole date instead of the beginning of one.

Actually, dinner is the whole date. Terz doesn't like going to the movies here --- too much asshattery going on.

18. Eating a basket of chicken wings at 3 AM would severely upset, rather than settle your stomach.

Probably, yes. Especially if they're Popeye's.

19. You go to the drug store for ibuprofen and antacid, not condoms and pregnancy tests.

I think I have fewer headaches and stomach upsets now than I used to when I was in college.

20. A $4.00 bottle of wine is no longer "pretty good stuff".

I live in Singapore. No such thing as a $4 bottle of wine.

I admit that I try not to buy any bottle that retails for less than $20 here though.

21. You actually eat breakfast food at breakfast time.

I suppose this means not having refrigerator-cold leftover pizza for breakfast, which I've never liked. I've always liked breakfast food, though for quite a few years in university and the years thereafter, I didn't eat breakfast at all. Now I down coffee at such a rate that I feel like I'm back in my early twenties again.

22. "I just can't drink the way I used to," replaces, "I'm never going to drink that much again."

Tell me about it!

23. 90% of the time you spend in front of a computer is for real work.

Aw man.

24. You drink at home to save money before going to a bar.

No, but that's also because I usually go straight to the bar from work.

25. You read this entire list looking desperately for one sign that doesn't apply to you and can't find one to save your sorry old ass.

Hey, I found plenty!

This was not designed to be a meme, but there's nothing stopping you from turning it into one if you're in need of blog fodder.


Labels: , , ,


Help wanted

You know it's a bad sign when you meet friends for lunch and the first thing they say is, "Wow, you look tired, man."

In no particular order, I need:
  • A WorkSpace.
  • A less hyperactive cat.
  • An electrician --- or rather, someone who can figure out how to detach our ceiling light covers so that we can replace the lightbulbs. We have been living with only one working light (instead of the two needed to illuminate the whole space) in our bedroom for more than three years, and now the lightbulb in our attached (ensuite) bathroom has given up the ghost too. Anyone know a good handyman who can fix anything?
  • A vacation.
  • A drink.

This blog post has been brought to you by the vices of workoholism and coffee addiction, and the sublime delight of a champagne truffle mooncake.


Labels: , , ,


It's hard to make coffee when you need coffee

I woke up. I needed coffee. I put the coffeemaker on.

Several minutes later, I wondered why the coffeemaker was making all the right coffee-making sounds, but the coffee pot remained forlornly empty.

Then I realised I'd forgotten to put the water into the coffeemaker.


Technorati Tags:



Going nowhere fast

Chatting online with Ondine tonight, I admitted rather abashedly that I have no real goals in life at the moment. Then I remembered that I cobbled some together for a meme some time back, so perhaps I should revisit them:

1. Write a novel. Any novel. Even if it's chick lit and Stellou never speaks to me again.

Does starting several short stories and toying with the idea of interviewing my grandparents oral-history-style count? Baby steps, man, baby steps ...

Okay, perhaps I should have an intermediate goal, like complete one of those damn short stories by the end of the year.

2. Learn to speak another language.

I think this one will have to wait till I have more dough, or can trade lessons with someone who wants to learn English. If I could, though, I'd take refresher classes for French or start Japanese.

3. Keep a cat or dog. Iguanas need not apply.

Hey, accomplished! And it wasn't even planned that way.

4. Attempt another musical instrument (maybe the cello?).

See #2 above.

5. Bake a cake or brownies from scratch (i.e. not out of a Betty Crocker box).

This might have to wait till we get a real oven, which really isn't a high priority for us right now. Also, till I become accustomed to spending time in the kitchen again.

6. Live in a place that I can afford to furnish with enough bookshelves for all our books.

Heavens, no. Though we keep buying more books! Again, I sense that money will be an issue for this ... Unless I learn to build my own shelves, which doesn't seem likely given the fact that it's usually a struggle for me to assemble Ikea furniture.

7. Finish this damn meme already.

Well, that's done, but it really doesn't count.

I think I need some better life goals.


Labels: , , , ,


*burp* says my fridge. Or maybe *vomit*

This one's for kk.

I have just thrown out the char siew baos from our Crystal Jade feast way back when.



Related Posts: The kind of kitchen I keep, I am not a housewife, My fridge is 80% chocolate

Labels: ,


Adventures in the vegetable drawer

In the latest round of housecleaning, I have unearthed rotting vegetables in our refrigerator's vegetable drawer. Who knew that celery could make such a mess, including melting into a murky brown liquid?

So I've thrown out the celery. And the carrots. And the wilted cucumber. And the dessicated cherry tomatoes. And the tainted onions. And various green leafy vegetables now of indeterminate origin.

Miraculously, the Romaine lettuce survived. So I had some of it with my lunch, which was what had driven me to rummage around in the vegetable drawer in the first place.

Oh, and I washed out the vegetable drawer. Of course.




Don't buy any Xmas cards this year

In the process of cleaning my desk, I have found at least 40 unused Xmas cards of varying shapes, sizes, colours, designs and tastes. Since I'm going electronic with my greeting cards this year, except for people who don't have email, I probably won't use more than 10 of them --- so if anyone needs any old-fashioned Xmas cards, let me know and I'll pass you as many as you need.

I also unearthed a fragmenting powder blue envelope with $24.30 inside, earmarked for South Park T-shirts. I have no recollection of having anything to do with such shirts, or who I might've gotten the money from, so mayhaps the money will just go into a Salvation Army can later this month.

Those of you who are familiar with our messy apartment may want to know that we can now see almost the entire surface of the living room table, game room table and my desk, as well as a good bit of the kitchen counter. I think this is the highest proportion of visible table space we've had in years.



Ain't nothin' like it

Nothing like spending almost a week away from home to make me decide it's time to clean house.

Nothing like cleaning house to help me excavate two missing CDs and also realise that if a heap of paper hasn't been touched in three months, it probably contains nothing of long-term significance.

Nothing like more music for my iPod.

Nothing like three bags of trash down the rubbish chute and a newly clear living room table and desk. I've also been authorised by ampulets to throw out some literature files of hers that've been with me since 2000.

More cleaning to ensue tomorrow. Tonight, it's Chestnuts and then another little farewell party for someone who's put off National Service for as long as he could, doesn't have money for the $5,000 AWOL fine and really, really has to enlist next week.



Gluttony and sloth

Late lunch + lazy evening on the internet = eating almost an entire 6.5oz bag of Ruffles potato chips between 10 pm and midnight







Requiem for a bathroom rug

What happens when a blue bathroom rug explodes in the washing machine.

Okay, it didn't explode so much as the frayed edges of a hole in the rug took the opportunity to unravel while it was tumbling end on end in the machine. By the time the laundry cycle was done and I took it out, it held two gaping holes and a trail of blue fluff.

It was the latter that proved most insidious, spotting all the other items in the laundry. The dryer filter was all choked up by the time it got done with them.

Bye bye, blue bathroom rug. You served us well for three years (not bad for something bought at Giant) but now we'll have to find something else to stomp our feet on.




Domestic triumphs and tribulations

The miracle of the week is that a combination of grocery shopping with Ondine on Saturday night, eating almost every night at our coffeeshop downstairs and Agagooga's nagging impelled me to resume real grocery shopping (i.e. not chocolate or pre-packaged salads), so that we could cook again.

I should point out that prior to Sunday, we had not cooked anything --- not even instant noodles --- in our kitchen for something on the order of six months.

(There are no typos in the previous paragraph.)

I should also remind everyone that I'm not a very good cook. My contributions this week have included:
  • Monday: Slightly burning the spaghetti sauce (using phylsfrill's recipe, found via a Google Blog Search for "spaghetti recipe" --- yes, I am the kind of feeble cook that needs to Google something as basic as a spaghetti recipe).
  • Tuesday: Slightly undercooking the rice.
  • Thursday: Burning the rice. Behold what happens when you don't use enough water to cook rice in the microwave:

    Originally uploaded by Tym.
Fortunately for us, Terz is a fine, fine cook, not to mention a natural-born concocter of wizard, no-recipe-required, what's-in-the-fridge-that'll-do meals. His contributions this week:
  • Sunday: Fettucine tossed in olive oil with preserved olive leaves
  • Tuesday: Stir-fried chicken and fried bean sprouts
  • Wednesday: Chinese-style chicken macaroni
  • Thursday: Stir-fried pork and sauted dou miao

    Dinner for two
    Originally uploaded by Tym.
I am a lucky woman. Now if we get the house cleaned up, maybe we'll even graduate to having people over for dinner some time...


Technorati tags: , ,



And then there were two

Remember the curse of the pilsener glasses?

I broke another glass tonight. So now we have only two left --- exactly one for Terz and one for me.

Terz used to use this huge Coca-Cola glass, but I broke that too, a couple of months ago. (Profuse apologies were given and received, as well as a pledge to keep an eye out for a replacement glass any time I pass one of those pop culture paraphernalia stores.)

My mother would be so ashamed of me.




I am not a housewife

At Cold Storage with Ondine and Kay on Friday night, I scoured the vegetables aisles for packs of pre-prepared salad, which my mother had recommended as not-too-expensive, in-fact-on-sale-this-weekend, and good-for-lunch-since-I-always-complain-about-the-school-canteen's-oily-food. When it turned out that the only salad packs left were of the $6/meal variety (ouch!), my friends helpfully pointed out that I could buy a head of lettuce and other assorted vegetables to make my own salads for the week, and it would cost less than even the allegedly on-sale-but-out-of-stock $3.45 variety. To which I glummed in return, "But then I'd have to do all the chopping and washing ... too leh cheh (inconvenient/troublesome)." Fifteen minutes later, I left the store empty-handed, while Ondine had a host of lasagna ingredients and Kay more Prima Taste products than she had cupboard space for.

Later, at Ondine and Packrat's apartment, I mocked them for having strawberry milk that dates back to Chinese New Year. In return, I was put in my place for having fermented Ribena, a feat which apparently wins, hands-down, the blue ribbon for lackadaisacal housekeeping.

For dinner yesterday, I had two slices of wholemeal bread with Vegemite. This is not any newfangled attempt at a diet; I simply wasn't hungry, but figured eating a snack was better than having an empty stomach revolt at 10 pm. Even as snacks go, however, there just isn't that much in our kitchen to eat. Except chocolate, of course.

Some people are desperate housewives. I'm neither desperate nor a housewife. I'm just a chica with a highly underutilised kitchen. For rent, anyone?


Technorati Tags: , , ,