Archive for the ‘daily rants’ Category

Haven’t been blogging here for a while. Well, I’m in Portland, Oregon awaiting to walk into the tutorials. Will come back here with more updates πŸ™‚

Woot! 50 Laps!

This is going to be a childish and silly post.

Last evening at 8pm, I decided to go for my swim again. Though it didn’t rain, the temperature for the entire day has hovered around 27˚c, which means the pool would be a little chilly. I thought I would just do 20 laps, and then another 20 on Saturday.

So, in I go and burrr-urrr, and I started off quickly to work up some heat in my body. In the past, I’ve been counting the 5th, 15th and 25th laps (counting takes my mind off the monotony of swim) but tonight, I’ve decided to do odd numbers.

There were some people barbequeing, throwing a fragrant, oily aroma at the far end of the pool. To get myself even more distracted, I started to think about what they’re grilling. Hmmm, definitely chicken wings, lap-5 and satay, lap-7, some otah perhaps, lap-11.

I use the Heads-up Breaststroke style for all my swims. Heads-up means I never submerge my head into the water. It’s a thing with my eyes and chlorinated water. I would like to swim everyday if I can so red, irritated eyes will definitely get into the way.

At lap 15, I noticed a girl walking around the pool looking for someone. She found him and they sat facing each other on the deck chairs, about 2m from the poolside. Lap 17 … it’s evident now the couple wasn’t on a date. It could be a fight, or even a breakup chat. Lap 19 … although I cannot hear what they’re saying, the chinese conversation started to get louder. Lap 21, “It’s you! It’s you!” Lap 23, “It’s your fault, it’s always your fault.” Well, guess who’s doing all the talking and who’s sitting there with a blank, doe-eyed look.

I know, I know, why am I such a busybody. Well, by that time, it’s not a matter of getting away from them so they can get some privacy since they are already so loud I can hear them anywhere. Lap 25, the girl takes a couple of swings at his arm. I was saying to myself, how about I swim until they’re done. Lap 27.

At this time, a little girl, her aunts (or older cousins) and a couple of teenage boys jumped into the pool. Hmmm, it’s probably 8.45pm now. Cool. The ruckus they were making forced my closer to the couple. Lap 29, the girl started crying, and the boy is still quiet. In fact, I’ve not heard a word out of him everytime I swim pass them.

One of the teenage boys started swimming lapwise. Great! A pacer. You see, I like to have company in the pool. At lap 31, without any reference, you could be going as fast as a water-strider and not notice it at all. I started following the boy. Lap 33, after 2 laps, he takes a break. Lap 34, he takes a break. Lap 35, he stops halfway at lap 35 and started playing with his group again. Back to the couple I guess.

The girl stopped crying and as I was swimming away from them at 37, I heard her stomping off. Cool. 38 laps today. I made the turn at the end of the 37th lap and … guess what … she’s back! Grrrr… I sprinted half of the 37th. Now, I’m panting.

Another guy dropped in at lap 41. Yeah! He looks promising the way he dived into the pool, tournament-style. He was going pretty fast, overtaking my leisurely pace without much effort. Lap 42, he was ahead and reached the end while I still has about 1/3 left. He started adjusting his goggles … that’s why I like swimming heads-up – no leaky goggles to interrupt the swim. And he’s taking his time to adjust them … haha … looks like he’s waiting for me to catch up. Over lap 43, the group left the pool and the lone swimmer zipped passed me once again and made it to the other end. This time though, the distance was less than 1/3. And he’s adjusting his goggles again. Once I touched, he goes off again, beating me once more on the 44th. I’m thinking, this guy probably didn’t know I did 40 laps before him, haha. On the start of the 45th, I sprinted and we ended it together. On the turn, I was off but the pool is silent once again. He stopped! Dang! And the couple is still talking, oh, well, the girl is still talking.

Lap 47, I suddenly realised. What if the couple decided to have the chat until I finish my swim! I usually stop at 30 laps, and, talking is alot less tedious than swimming. On the other hand, the kind of talk they’re having, it’s probably a lot ‘tougher’ than my laps. And then, I started thinking about my own experiences with such talks. They’ll last all night if they have to.

So, I decided, 50 laps it shall be. A nice big round number. 50.

48 … 48 … 50! Done! Thereafter, I stayed in the water for about 2 minutes, climbed up, put on my clothes and walked off … leaving the entire pool to the couple to work their differences out for the night.

X’mas eve started early for me. 9am to be exact. This is going to be the first time I host a proper dinner party. No more Pizza Huts and KFC delivery services, no more canned soups and frozen meals, food, eh? real food. So, tonight’s guests will kinda be, uh hum, guinea pigs I guess πŸ˜‰ We prepared a lot of booze too, wanting to do one of those drinking-smoking kind of dinner.

xmas_dinner_1.jpg

Turns out the new Ikea acquisitions worked pretty well. The 2-piece extendable table sits 10 snugly. The Frenchy blue-floral dining set decked out nicely, complete with cutlery, wine and water glasses.

From 10am onwards till about 6.45pm when the first guests arrives, I was largely working non-stop in the kitchen. The cooking wasn’t so bad as I started a couple of hours earlier. Plus there was help from Yep Nee and a family maid who cleaned the house. There was a couple of hiccups though, but I’ll leave that for another entry.

xmas_dinner_2.jpg

Around 7.45pm, everyone arrived and we quickly rolled out the first dish. It’s a french onion soup. There were really two groups of friends and they were slow to warm up, I think the wine and Tsingtao will have an important part to play later in the evening.

Well, here’s what we’ve whipped up for the night:
xmas_dinner_3.jpg
Poulet au Vinaigre (Vineger Chicken)

xmas_dinner_4.jpg
Tartiflette (Cheesy Baked Potatoes)

xmas_dinner_5.jpg
Roasted Tomatoes

xmas_dinner_6.jpg
Grilled Rosemary Lamb

As the night rolled, people started to propose toasts all round. The more tipsy we got, the more toasts we proposed. Then we brought out even more wine, told more jokes (JT had some great ones) and played games so we can drink even more. It’s a pity I didn’t have my cigars at home, so Jeff’s cigs were a good substitute. I think I was the first to knock out, and went to lie at the sofa. When I woke up, everyone was already halfway through the apple pie.

xmas_dinner_7.jpg

The dinner finished at about 12 midnight. Some of us started exchanging X’mas presents. I got a box of cookies and a chinese tea set. Most of us were drunk. A couple of girls threw up. I didn’t see some of them go, having fell asleep before they left.

Post mortem? It was a great party. I’ve never had so much fun for a quite a while now. I thought the no-kids-more-booze rule worked quite well too. I should get started composing my next party menu soon πŸ˜‰

X’mas came early for the kids this year because mom has booked them for a holiday trip in Korea leaving tomorrow. It’s a potluck and Shu Yee coordinated the dishes amongst us, with Shu Min getting away with just a log cake. On my list: fried beehoon, meatballs, sausages, mashed potatoes and cheese toasts, mainly catering to the kids. Yee has a maid so she does the poh piah. Mom did her ngoh hiong and sweet dumpling soup (ζΉ―εœ“) for the winter solstice.

I was over-confident and only started cooking at 9.30am (party’s at noon) after a morning swim. Boy, I didn’t recall cooking was so, erm, challenging. It was already 10.30 when the first wok of bee hoon was done.

xmas_a.jpg

This is one of the first dishes I learnt how to cook from mom. This time round though, I used chicken stock instead of boiled water, making the bee hoon a lot more fragrant than the norm. This is the carbo dish for the adults.

As I knew I was going to be late, I stopped taking pictures along the way. And it was a real mad rush to bake the meatballs (30 min), grill the sausages, toast the bread, mash like 14 potatoes and make the gravy. The results? Ta-da…

xmas_b.jpg

At 12:40, we finally got to head out for mom’s place. I kept thinking why I blew my timing. Not that I’m anal about it, but I have a more challenging meal to prepare this Sunday. And, today’s dishes was simple. Yep Nee reassured me it’s the bee hoon. But hey, coming from someone who doesn’t cook much, it wasn’t very reassuring. Think I’ll buffer another 90 minutes into my original cooking plan for Sunday.

xmas_c.jpg

Mom’s big dining table was put into good use today. Yes, we overcooked again and there was more than enough food for 11 adults and 9 kids. Good thing Yee had another party in the evening, she took my 2nd tray of beehoon to that.

xmas_d.jpg

Turns out, what Gerald (furthest top left) and Madeleine (bottom right) told me about their favourite dishes are the kinds of answers they put in their homework – simple and totally convenient. Yep, they didn’t really liked meatballs and the creamy mashed potatoes. What to do, Chinese kids. The beehoon was popular though.

After the meal, I jumped in and played some games with them. There were 2 P3s, 4 P1s, 2 K2s and 1 nursery girl. I taught them how to play charades, this was a game none of them knew. Then we played Find The Killer (the blinking one) but I realised they cannot really hack it. It was quite fun but only lasted 45 minutes because the pull from the presents under the Xmas tree was just too strong.

xmas_e.jpg

Min’s mother-in-law, who’s a seamstress for school plays happened to have spare material to make a traditional Korean outfit for Madeleine. She looks ready to jump into one of those Korean sob-dramas, doesn’t she? We all agreed it was her single-eyelids that did the trick πŸ™‚

First salvo was the office’s party just this evening. I halted all work at 4pm, being this year’s Secret Santa organiser … we originally wanted each colleague only buy a present for another anonymous co-worker. Each person gets assigned a Looney Tunes character (Bugs Bunny, Sylvester, etc) and writes out a choices of 3 gifts.Β  Here’s what the tree looked like at 4pm…

spira_xmas_2006a.jpg

No, we didn’t have 50 people in the company, only 14 of us. But some of us, including myself, felt like giving to everyone else. Here’s Boon Tat, our tech chief happily grinning with his brand new cordless laser mouse (geek!)

spira_xmas_2006b.jpg

And here’s YN, my sales manager and girlfriend, posing happily with her new Swatch.

spira_xmas_2006c.jpg

And here’s Elaine and Viv waving their what-you-call-it lotion/moisturizer/base dunno-what… They’re happy πŸ™‚

spira_xmas_2006e.jpg

And finally, there’s the round of pizzas, ham, ribs, wings, soda and fruits to make sure everyone gets home full and satisfied. Dinner was very different from the past, this year, folks were more chatty (I got some of them a little drunk on wine), we made the Christians say grace, played some games, and voted the King and Queen of Bashful-ville too.

spira_xmas_2006d.jpg

back at the haze

cigar.jpg

The haze has been hanging around for what? Two weeks now? Sometimes, you try to be the good citizen and lower your carbon emission by walking home, and what happens is you get dirty air in return.

Today, I decided to even things out a little by puffing my smog as I take that walk back home. πŸ˜‰

wedding

nana_and_ng_chun.jpg

Today is my second younger sister’s wedding day. Well, technically, it’s on Saturday since they did the customary and solemnization on that special day, followed by the dinner tonight. This sister of mine has always had the attitude – she seldom smiles and is frequently stern. But these 2 days, she’s all cheery and bubbly. She must be very happy. So am I.

working out everyday

Was planning to head for the gym today but Yep Nee managed to sign a new deal! We’ve talked about celebrating new deals and decided to do it today, albeit, a partial celebration (Many of our colleagues are staunch family people and goes home for dinner very day, unless you pre-book them a week ahead).

So, we rounded up the usual suspects: Chardy, Vivien and Angela and headed to MachΓ© for dinner. It was a great gathering. Very good chat. And in the end, I was satisfied except for the regret for eating a tad too much.

ipod.jpgHence, I decided to talk a walk back home. Luckily, I was equipped: my 3G iPod will supply the workout entertainment while MacBook-stuffed sling bag will provide some drag.

The brisk walk took about 30 minutes. I think just about enough to take away that piece of pork steak I had. Uh-hum, I didn’t just eat one piece of pork steak, but the rest will have to wait for another workout to burn πŸ˜‰

cheering up

apple_ad.jpg

I tell you, there’s really nothing funnier than a guy stubbled guy in a dress that can cheer me up for an entire day!

After almost a decade’s dosage of Stephen Chow’s (ε‘¨ζ˜Ÿι¦³) high school friend who starred in almost of his comedies as the “stubbled guy in a dress”, it’s Apple’s turn to pick it up where Stephen left off.

My next car

I’m driving my 6th car now. I’m not saying this to brag but to stress how utterly stupid and wasteful I am previously. I’ve just made a decision to sell my Toyota when I run out it’s road tax and insurance sometime Feb 2007.

By then I hope someone will bring this into Singapore. Isn’t it the cutest car you’ve ever seen? Introducing my next car, the G-Wiz: it runs on batteries, goes about 65km per charge, costs about Β£7,000 in the UK and I think it’s made in India.