Tuesday, January 31, 2006

and it all begins again

The third day of CNY and all is quiet in the office. I wander up to the fifth floor rooftop for a "fresh air" break and watch the cars zoom across the flyover below. The air is clear and a gentle breeze blows. I wish I could stay up here for longer and not have to breathe in the recycled air downstairs. But my dinner of beef, eggplant and chilli fusili awaits.

While I don't resent working on public holidays, there's still something about being in the office when everyone else is off gallivanting and making merry, or just sleeping it off.

I can't wait for my day off on Thursday.

Listening: Teitur - One And Only
Drinking: Barley tea
Supposed to be doing: page 2 summaries

I have been asked for some new music. Am thinking up a list of recent favourites to put up.
Be patient

Meanwhile, head over to Borrowed Tunes for some um, borrowed tunes.
Otherwise Mocking Music has loads of live ones from Clap Your Hands Say Yeah.

On a non-music note, the Royal Society of Literature asked JK Rowling, Phillip Pullman and Andrew Motion, the Poet Laureate, to choose 10 books they think every child should read.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Tales from a New Year

How's the CNY hols, everyone asks.

The answer - plenty of food!

(Ok that's not really an answer to that question)

The Day Before - Steamboat Nazi
I didn't have to work on Saturday so I hung out at home and helped my mum make dessert - she wanted to bring red bean pancakes to my aunt's dinner, but we didn't have red bean so substituted it with lotus paste. After the plug to the electric grill shorted the electricity supply several times (the wiring in the kitchen's kinda screwed), I had to cook them with a frying pan instead, resulting in half-moons of lotus paste pancake instead.

Dinner had to be kicked off early, as my cousin was off to Chiang Mai that night.

The yusheng was from Harbour City restaurant. It's always amusing to lo hei at home. The relatives try to recall (or innovate) the sayings that come with the various toppings and ingredients for the dish - the only one everyone is absolutely sure of is the fish.

Everytime we lo hei, I always remember what CNY was like as a kid - with our Farrer Court group of 4 families, the kids - all 8 of us - would be seated at one table, with the 'adults' at the other. Quite a fair bit of the yusheng would land on the lazy susan, cos most of us couldn't stand eating the stuff. Only the crackers would disappear, and sometimes the fish as well. These days, I eat it all.

Steamboat is the traditional reunion dinner meal in my family, and this was the first year it was held at my aunt's house. And this is the first time where I've had a regimented steamboat - where items go in course by course. The first course - mushrooms, cabbage, leeks, fishballs and chicken.

The second course - seafood

The third course - slices of sukiyaki pork

The fourth course - abalone and Pacific clams

The fifth course - vegetables

The sixth course - udon and tofu

And finally, dessert.

One meal down.

Day One - Chef Chan cooks up a storm in NTU

The feasting began with nian gao (sticky rice cake) for breakfast - coated in egg and panfried, creating a slightly crispy exterior with a sweet soft sticky interior. (according to this article, it's a southern Chinese thing, which I didn't know)

We return again to the same aunt's house in sixth ave to pay respects to my grandparents. We were spending the day with my dad's side of the family, so were persuaded to have some of my grandma's chicken curry (strangely to be eaten with roti prata) before leaving. But I can never handle her stomach soup, which my mum had to have a bowl of.

Next stop: My uncle's house in Katong where yusheng, claypot rice, steamed fish, ngoh hiang, vegetables, roast duck awaited.

Snacks and drinks and homemade pineapple tarts at an aunt's house in Bishan, then over to our house for more nibbles - but not too much - before dinner in Jurong West. Well, NTU actually. My uncle's a hall advisor and they live on campus so he cooked up a storm, as always, in their cosy house.

It was about 12 courses, I believe, including a stewed duck with chestnuts, lamb stew, ee fu noodles, tofu, a roll made of wintermelon and chinese ham, cabbage rolls with minced pork and mushrooms, prawns, broccoli with mushrooms, chicken, pai guat with black bean sauce, and some more I've forgotten.

Dessert was chin chow and/or chocolates with a glass of mead.

You can imagine how soundly I slept that night.

Day Two - Meet the family
It already seems like many days have passed, and many meals have been eaten, but we're still not in the clear.

Lunch again is at the aunt's house in sixth avenue, where she was holding a lunch party for a cousin who's been living in Canada, and who's getting married on Saturday. So we get to meet the husbandtobe, and introduce him to the rigors of Singaporean life, such as explaining the use of 'lah' and what an ah beng is (this topic's discussion actually went on for about 1/2 an hour) and teaching him how to eat kuah chee. He didn't look too mortified when we left, so there is still hope for him. Lunch, btw, was Mediterranean - paella, grilled vegetables and salad. My uncle, as usual, had several bottles of wine open, and constantly topped up people's glasses. Protests don't work.

Day Three - ?
The only thing I know for sure is that I have to be at work at 4pm.
Otherwise I'm hoping for a simple lunch and a simple dinner.

So the eating will continue on Saturday, with high tea at the Goodwood Park wedding, which promises to be like no other wedding I've been to - no wedding dinner, a band at the reception, a bride who actually owns her own gown and I hear there's going to be laksa. And on Sunday, another lunch awaits - this time at a restaurant, most probably Kia Hiang, which a family friend owns.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

happy new year

And... we are almost set for CNY. (I will never call it Lunar New Year again, because it is so not housestyle.)

The cookies have been baked - peanut, checkerboard, mocha mudslides, oatmeal.
The cookies have been bought or stolen or given - kuih bangkit, some love-letter like thing which are not cigar-shaped, pineapple tarts, butter cookies.
The first floor has been cleaned. (Just don't go upstairs)
The curtains have been laundered.
The clutter has been squirrelled out of sight.
The furniture has been replaced. (well at least the coffee table and the sofa)
The decorations... well... I don't think we're doing those this year.
The steamboat pot has been tested and found to be faulty. (I'm not sure who's bringing the replacement but really that's my aunt's problem)

But, we are still sorely lacking... bak kwa!

What is CNY without bak kwa! (But it is important to note that bak kwa is not only for CNY, it is available all-year round and it is highly recommended that one does not hold out till CNY. Because bak kwa is absolutely brilliant between two slices of white bread for supper/breakfast/lunch. And bak kwa is equally good torn into pieces and thrown into plain porridge. It is also delicious heated up in the toaster and enjoyed on its own plain, greasy, finger-licking-good, cao-dah-ed self.)

I suppose I'll just have to hover by the coffee tables of the houses I visit, waiting, watching and wishing for my bak kwa to come.

Happy new year everyone.
May your bellies (and hong baos) be stuffed with only goodness.
May your once-a-year relatives not ask too many incessant questions.
May your ears no longer be blasted with CNY songs.
And may the Year of the Dog be a good one.
(I decided to spare you from cheesiness with any canine puns)

Clueless shopper strikes again

I set out to do some last-minute CNY shopping (I realised all of my buys in the past few months have been of T-shirts and dark-coloured tops) on Thursday afternoon, a couple of hours before work started at 4.

I hit up the usual suspects and eventually left entered the office with a large plastic bag of goodies.

Unfortunately, it contained:
1 pair of green shoes (I couldn't resist the colour lah)
1 library book (meant to only return library books, but couldn't resist a quick browse, where I found Jasper Fforde's latest - The Big OverEasy and of course I had to borrow that)
3 books that cost a total of $15 (Jonathan Franzen's The Corrections, Louise Erdrich's The Master Butchers Singing Club, Hunter S Thompson's Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas)
2 assessment books for the kid (Unfortunately, I've been told that since she's aged out of the CCF system, I have to officially stop tutoring her. But seriously, going from Primary 6 to Sec 1 is a hellhole. You suddenly have History, Geography and Lit to do, on top of those four subjects you initially struggled with. How is a student to cope?)

Wednesday, January 25, 2006


cute kitchen. Why am I posting this? Maybe cos when that day comes when I actually am able to afford a place of my own, I wouldn't mind a bright and brightly coloured kitchen like this one.

Anyway, back to the topic at hand...

Spoke to my uni lecturer for the first time in hmmm... let's just say several years. Yes it's been that long. So it was nice to hear how she's doing. And that she even remembers me in the first place.

And from an even more distant time: I came across a blog of a JC schoolmate, who I knew from my days in the Outdoor Activities Club (yes I did the whole camping, hiking, biking thing, and Pulau Ubin was the place to be back then). I'm very good at not keeping in contact with people from OAC. So I decided, that since the friendship crusade is semi-on, I'd drop an email and remake a friend.

So that's score two points for me today, I suppose.

Have you talked to your lecturer or remade a friend today?

Listening: Spoon - The Beast and Dragon, Adored

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

that's the way the cookie crumbles

Oh I so want these cookie cutters. How cool is that?

I am on the lookout for interesting cookie cutters, so let me know where I can find them! I've currently got loads of Christmas shapes, but little else except a heart, a mushroom and a crescent moon. :(

cookie cutter music: Teenage Fanclub - The Concept

Monday, January 23, 2006

what you got to hide?

Grey's Anatomy struck a chord last night, when Meredith said something along the lines of: "We're adults. When did that happen? And how do we make it stop?"

And it was over midnight dimsum at my favourite midnight dimsum place when the friend who had asked me to supper said that it is sad how the number of friends we have dwindle as we grow older. I suppose that's true - look at your parents. How many friends do they have?

So how do you keep hold of these relationships? It's all about the effort isn't it? The effort made in calling up your friend and saying, hey how are you doing? Let's get dinner. But work gets in the way or people get tied down in relationships and start families. And things are different. At this moment in time though, none of my close friends have settled down as yet. But it will eventually happen. And in the first place, I myself was formerly guilty of almost disappearing off the face of this earth when I found myself in a relationship. What exactly am I driving at? I'm not sure myself. Maybe I'm spreading my friend's crusade to keep hold of friends, and work at relationships.

life's a beach

Listening to Bebel Gilberto takes me back to afternoons spent lazing in the pool at the Indra Maya villa.


Inevitably, it would drizzle. The sun catching the drops of water and turning them into diamonds.

Baking day

I took the recipe for Hearty Oatmeal cookies quite literally

Then made mocha mudslides (they aren't much to look at but are chocolatey and fudgey. Almost cake-like)

And ruined what was supposed to be checkerboard cookies - although I managed to somewhat salvage them by turning it into pinwheel=like cookies.

Recipes all from the new cookbook.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

book it

With the 30% discount coupon available in Thursday's Life! (and another taken from a copy at the office) I made a quick stop at Borders on Saturday afternoon before meeting a friend I hadn't seen for more than six months for coffee, which ended up as a flat white and then a latte for me. The almost-forgotten friend had two cappucinos and a bruschetta which came on brown bread as the ciabatta had run out.

But at the crowded bookstore, I searched once again for Bill Granger's cookbook. And ended up with the King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion to add to my obsession with baking cookies. With the rest of the books in the cooking section not as tempting, I made a quick browse at the fiction section before picking up Orhan Pamuk's Istanbul.

I had been enraptured with a piece by Pamuk, published in Newsweek some issues back. Can't remember precisely but it might have been an excerpt from this book. I still do have a copy of Snow which of course I haven't read, as I'm still currently reading Seven Types of Ambiguity by Australian writer Elliot Perlman. It's a powerful book. I never really understood what critics meant when they used the word 'powerful' but now I do. It's powerful. It makes me want to devour the book whole and yet I find myself being restrained, because at the same time I feel a need to sit and think about how it's written. And essentially one man's actions have set off a chain of events, and the pov is carried from one character to the next as the story unfolds. I also love how Perlman seems to effortlessly vocalise all the thoughts that are going on in his characters' heads. He makes them so real, so believable.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

The nose knows

It's been months since I stepped into Borders Bistro and yesterday all the reasons why I don't fancy that place came flooding in.

The smell
It's been some 5 hours since I left the cafe.
I still smell like the cafe.
I feel like maybe I should toss myself into the washing machine and air myself out to dry.

The food - I had a prosciutto pappardelle - was ok, could've been salted less though.

Yesterday was the third time I've been set up with someone. (I suppose it's a sign of growing concern of my unattached status.) Some people are quite freaked out by the thought of a blind date but it is quite interesting to meet a complete stranger and I believe I can trust those setter-uppers to ensure that the guy is not a psycho. Or an F4 fan.

Listening to: Queens Of The Stone Age - No One Knows

look who's coming

Gap and Banana Republic are finally going to open here.
Then again, I don't know if I'll have any use for the stores.
(I write this as I sit in the office being sheltered from the air-conditioning wearing the Gap jacket I bought in Tokyo.)

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

I just had to, I couldn't help it

Despite leaving the office at 130 on Tuesday morning, and reaching home at about 150, I decided, after a quick shower and change, that I would watch Project Runway.

I already knew who won, having read some article about Jay on Village Voice accidentally, and also browsing through a copy of Elle magazine I spotted the model Julia in her winning photo shoot. So the game was up really, but I still was dying to see their collections. I was quite blown away by Kara Saun's aviator-themed clothes and quite liked some pieces in Jay's funky collection, especially his gorgeous quilted jacket. Wendy Pepper was rather a confused uncohesive mess. But then, hardly anything else was expected.

I had to force myself to press the stop button on the remote control, and leave watching Grey's Anatomy to later in the day.

Which is of course the first useful thing I did after waking up.

But remembering a promise to my dad, I made up a batch of Neiman Marcus chocolate chip cookies, this time, using a sample of Sucanat he had brought home. (Sucanat is the evaporated juice of whole organically grown sugar cane.) It was, however, the colour of molasses and turned the cookies very brown. (the camera's battery had gone flat, so I don't have brown cookie photos)

I must announce how much I love this recipe. It produces some chewy soft chocolatey cookies - the way they're meant to be. However, I noticed that the Sucanat creates a less sweet cookie and adds to the slightly fudgy texture. At any rate, I prefer using organic sugar than refined white sugar. It's got a far more intense flavour.

listening to: Wilco - I'm The Man Who Loves You (Live from the Majestic Theatre)

Monday, January 16, 2006

Hello my name is olduvai, and evidently, I'm not a shopoholic

I don't shop very well.

I was in town for about 1 1/2 on Monday before work. I had $50 worth of Isetan vouchers.

I went in and out of shops, glancing at the displays, moving some items about.

I didn't try anything on.

I went to work having spent not even one of the five $10 vouchers.

Thank god they're valid until next year.

Maybe this will help me figure out what I'm supposed to do with my life

Career Inventory Test Results

Extroversion ||||||||| 26%
Emotional Stability ||||||||||||||||||||| 63%
Orderliness ||||||||||||||| 50%
Altruism ||||||||||||||||||||| 63%
Inquisitiveness ||||||||| 23%

You are a Guardian, possible professions include - counseling, ministry, library work, nursing , secretarial, curators, bookkeepers, dental hygienists, computer operator, personnel administrator, paralegal, real estate agent, artist, interior decorator, retail owner, musician, elementary school teacher, physical therapist, nurse, social worker, personnel counselor, alcohol/drug counselor.
Take Free Career Test
personality tests by similarminds.com

Well then, I suppose I'll play eenymeenymineymoe, catch that career by its toe.
It'll probably be a better guess than what I can offer now anyway.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

the black night safari

I'd forgotten what it's like to work Saturdays. The last Sat I worked was Christmas Eve and early offstone (at 7pm) so it was relatively cheery and slightly noisy. But yesterday, the office was quiet. Still and dreary.
But it gave me time to think about what I did last night, which was a second round at PS Cafe.

It was once again the rgs group (minus the 2 married ones - one off in melby, the other newly wed), and we had, a few days ago at Cellar Door decided on wearing black. I can't remember why we settled on the theme, but it fit well with that night - Friday the 13th, and a full moon shimmered in the sky. So I put on my black dress, black shoes, a belt I got from HK, stuffed money etc into my black bag, put on the earrings the Sassy Slumbering Gal had got for me from BKK a long time ago (they're somewhat gothic), and put on some eyeliner and a plum-ish lipstick (I don't have anything darker than that).

And with everyone else in black, we walked up the dark road that is Dempsey and into the Night Safari that is PS Cafe. (Char pointed out that it was Night Safari/Jurassic Park-like, with its floor-to-ceiling windows looking out onto a forested area. We peered out - I was faintly hoping a Brontosaurus would just amble towards us, but all we saw were diners feasting and smoking and drinking.)

The reservation was at 830. It was either that or come earlier and vacate the table by 830, which is a terrible idea. It's amazing that this place, less than 2? 1? months old, is just absolutely Packed with people - making service a little less than perfect and raising the noise levels such that I couldn't hear the person opposite me.

We started out with one of the specials - a portobello mushroom, baked with gorgonzola and surrounded by some chopped vegetables drizzled with a slightly tangy sauce (I'm sure there's a word for this but I am so stuck right now). I liked the mushrooms and I liked the vegetables but I didn't like them together. The sticky prawn salad was once again on the menu, and once again recommended by the waiter, but honestly, while I did like it, I thought it was something I could hop over to any Thai restaurant (or BKK) and eat.

The chips (again) with just the kaffir lime aioli (as it's just too yummy) came next.
Oh and the waiter had recommended the Zinfandel from Sonoma. We tried it but regretted not sticking to what we had loved the previous visit - the Brown Brothers Heathcote Shiraz 2003.

The mains took a while to come. And I wasn't all that impressed with the beef and mushroom ragout, which came with dumplings (more like smears of batter). The beef chunks were quite tender but it was quite forgettable.

Mel's order of the chicken special was interesting - chicken breast stuffed with crabmeat, shrimp and smothered with a lemon hollandaise sauce. The chicken was very tender but it was a bit disappointing that crabstick was used. And the lemon sauce somehow seemed a bit dessert-like. Eps had the moussaka which we had determined the last time as rather tasty, but a rather small portion.

We decided that another round of alcohol was needed and ordered, what else, but the Brown Brothers. And apparently that was the last one in the house. Char, when told by the waiter that he had to check if they had any more bottles, said, pointing at eps: "Oh try to find one, it's her birthday."

And after the wine was uncorked and poured, he brought out a slice of their chocolate cake, which was a nice surprise. All too soon, the wine was finished and we went over to the quieter Wine Company for a bottle of sparkling wine. Very pleasant, very easy. But I was very full.

And the place closes at 1.

And we still had about 1/3 of a bottle left.

So into the taxi we went, off to my house, as I was the closest. Where we sat around for another 1 1/2 hours, finishing the wine and chatting.

So that was a good night.
That was also an expensive week. But that's another story.

(As I had to work - yes I said work - in between writing this post, the office has gotten noisier as the night flows on, mostly cos of the ManCityManUnited match on TV, which my boss is quite animated about - he announces whenever a goal is scored, so non-fans like me can ignore him and fans/gamblers can pray for something to happen. And this is when the proofs get double and triple checked, and the ed makes noise about this and that to my boss and I try to stay hidden.)

PS Cafe
28B Harding Road,
Tel: 6479-3343

bundles of joy, maybe not

i always thought babies were cute wee things.

On Saturday, at my cousin's baby's first birthday, there were quite a few little ones with faces like old men, who would look exactly as they're looking right now in 40 years time.

One had rather big eyes, marred by some thick bushy eyebrows and a screwed-up mouth.
Another had a rather flat forehead and a chin that jutted out.
There was, however, a darling little girl of about 4 or 5, who had large adoring eyes and long straight hair. Very photogenic.

The birthday girl herself looked sweet in her pink dress and headband, which fortunately was of a faint dusty pink, and not the frightful dayglo plasticine pink that was the colour of her cake.

Now the cake was such a sight - It was a teddy bear, in 3D, and cost $158.

It actually tasted better than it looked, with some blueberry filling sandwiched with chocolate cake layers.

Strangely though, none of the kids were traumatised by the decapitation and slicing up of the bear/cake. Maybe they were too young. But it was amusingly weird to see the pink head - long eyelashes and all - smiling away at everyone as it sat body-less on the plate. I wondered if I should just poke it back onto its stake and leave it outside the flat as a warning to other dayglo plasticine pink bears heading this way.

Listening to: Ash - Angel Interceptor

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

public holiday rosé and blues

While you lot were enjoying yer public holiday, here's what I did.
Got up at about 10, had a cup of milo and glanced at the papers.
Took a quick shower, grabbed my coat and hat, and I walked the streets trying to remember, all those wild nights breeze through my mind.
Ok it was more like
Took a quick shower, grabbed my purse, keys, phone, umbrella, and walked to brunch at the lovely Ikea haven of Cellar Door Deli to have brunch with the rgs bunch.
Instead of adding $9 each to our meals for a glass of champagne and coffee/tea, we got ourselves a nice bottle of bubbly for $53. Extravagant yes but it was a public holiday. It also seems to be a week of indulgent meals for me. We're heading out to the PS Cafe yet again - well, again for eps and me, char and mel will be there for the first time.
Then with eps only heading to a friend's house nearby after 2, she popped by to catch Will & Grace for a bit.
I adore Will & Grace! Although that really should be "I adore Jack & Karen!"
And then I had to go to work. Where I snuck off to the gym for an hour and now my legs are tired.

Listening to: Youth Group - Why Don't The Buildings Cry?

desktop publishing

I've been using this desk for the past six months and I suppose I settled into it quite early, despite not knowing earlier on if I were to stay put or not.

It's now stocked with 3.2GB of music, loaded with the essentials like iTunes, Firefox (and the del.icio.us extension) and of course, my favourite wallpaper - Weezer's the lion and the witch.

Some of my favourite photos line the sides of the cubicle, and now, thanks to huijie, a bear sits beside the monitor, all snug in his woolly hat and scarf, a secret smile on his face as he watches me with his beady black eyes. I glare at him and give him a poke in the stomach to show who's boss. But I have the feeling that when I leave the office he hops off the desk and dumpster-dives my box of crap, his dirty-yellow feet sticking out, waving in the air.

And under the table:
One box full of stuff - including some ten art books that the LaSalle museum piled onto me after an interview, between 20 and 30 notebooks full of scribblings, some 10 other blank notebooks given free by publicists of various events - is jammed into a corner under my desk. This box has been lugged upstairs, from one temporary desk to the next.
Another box, empty. I just like to have it around cos its from Agnes B. And it really would look quite nice if I dusted it off a bit. Probably will move it home one day.
My old pair of running shoes and a bottle of soap.

Music landscape: Fin by Furniture

Monday, January 09, 2006

It was a cold and wet January day

My sleep cycle's screwed.
I was settling down for a nice sleep at about 2am. But couldn't sleep until 45 minutes or so later. And I woke up from a strange dream about travelling in Seattle (and visiting a bookstore) at about 730. I could hear the traffic outside, full of people just dying to get to work. So I lay back in bed, shut my eyes and tried to think of something sleepy, like waves crashing onto a beach. It didn't work. Maybe the waves were crashing too loudly. Whatever it was, I was still stark raving awake. Yet I could feel the tiredness in my eyes - they were calling out for more rest. But I'm not the type who falls asleep easily (although I've surprised myself several times there) and am not very good at doing nothing. So instead, I get up and go check something online which was bugging me (and probably the cause of my not being able to sleep).

At any rate, K was supposed to have lunch with me. Which never materialised, that ass.

So got an email from eps who got a last-minute half day and off we went to Marmalade Pantry, although I had to wait for her, starving, for about 1/2 hour.
We shared the beef and barley soup - a nice hearty soup for a cold and wet January day.
It was a little thinner than I'd like though.
However, I did appreciate that the soup was divided into two bowls and both bowls were supplied with a slice of bread on the side. It's the little things that matter!

I finally tried their Ultimate Burger which I wouldn't call Ultimate but had a rather lovely thick and juicy patty, with hardly any gristly meat at all. However, I always think burgers do better with a bit of bacon in them. So the taste could've been kicked up a notch - as well as the likely heartburn.

I also had a taste of the portobello mushroom and asparagus risotto with lemon zest which was quite the winner.
Unlike other risottos, it was not heavy as the lemon zest seemed to cut through the cream. And the rice grains were cooked just right. Wouldn't mind taking this on myself next time. eps was raring to go for dessert after and even ate some of my fries so I suppose it was a doable portion.

I hemmed and hawed over the dessert menu. Nothing called out to me. Mostly cos I was just too full from the burger.

And I decided to save $3 and have a coffee back at the office's Spins instead.

But as we sat and waited for the bill, I watched as the table of five slightly scraggy yet very walking-the-straight-road, probably MICA types who are trying to look like creative types ordered the same chocolate cake and coffee/tea. I'd never seen five people at the same table order the exact same cake before. And this is hardly a cake that can be easily polished off. It looked very chocolately and was a hefty slice. It looked like something you'd balance out with a fruit tart or a crumble - something less jelat. I couldn't help but watch, out of the corner of my eye, fascinated by this motley crew.

Outside, the rain had slowed to a drizzle.
So full stomach, cold day, no work in yet for the past two hours.
Of course I had to get a small Americano - which I believe, is essentially a long black.

(Other facts about coffee including: "An Americano is a single shot of espresso with 6 to 8 ounces of hot water added. This term was originally devised as a sort of insult to Americans who wanted their espresso diluted" can be found here.)

On a non-caffeine note, hit Extra Tasty to find out what drinks you can make with all them bottles of booze you have in your bar (or like me, hiden in your bookshelf, or under your desk, or if you're Karen Walker, in your handbag)

On books and reading

I did a quick count of the number of books I read last year (via my hardly updated book blog) and ladies and gentlemen, I read 91 books.
December and June were the best months for reading it seemed. (I suppose December cos that's when the library kicked up borrowing a notch by doubling the quota and June cos... I took leave? I can't remember now)

Fewest reads (only 5 a month) were in July and May.

If I keep on going like this, the 50 book challenge and ed's 75 book challenge will be a breeze.

and via ed's rants, it seems that James Frey of A Million Little Pieces might have conned Oprah and thousands of readers into thinking he's badder than he is.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Weekend update or non-update

Stuff happened
Don't feel like writing about it.
If you really are just dying to know, ask me.
I think it might be the fact that on Sunday morning I slept from 230am to 215pm. Woke up, looked at the watch, looked at a second watch to make doubly sure. Luckily work only starts at 4. Otherwise I'd be so screwed. I think it's easily forgiveable, it was a perfect day to sleep in, as the rain dripped on unendingly outside.
And I, under the quilt, was snug.

Sunday's randomniser (posted on Mon)
- the 15-minute hipster learns that a new upcoming album has been overlooked.

- Heidi Fleiss opens an all-male brothel in Nevada, where prostitution is legal (is that why the girls on the TV show Las Vegas dress that way?)
And apparently she's scaring the Nevada Brothel Association.

- Slate tells you how to rip off Starbucks or any other coffee chain. I've already been doing it to Spins.

- My horoscope in the Times' special thinks this is the year I go "From Caution To Courage". Sounds like a good idea.

- This was quite an interesting read. A treat for Christmas, then, but not necessarily for life.

- Some more best of lists including "The Top 10 Things I Accidentally Ate In 2005" which has a Real Meat Products Mixed With Vegetarian Faux-Meat Products dish - Turn dinner time into a politically-loaded, baffling ordeal!

- oh and of course, What Would Jesus Blog?
(via Banana Nutrament)

- I did not know that John Cusack blogs for Huffington Post and now that I do know, you can bet I'll be reading it. (which leads onto my next confession that....

I am a John Cusack fan.
Even when he delves into the more commercial and acts in inane movies like Must Love Dogs, which I just saw, I still gaze up at the screen, at his pleasant but not handsome face, watching his every move.
He is not in the leagues of the chiselled Brad Pitt or the gorgeous and slightly eccentric Johnny Depp, but he still manages to charm. Perhaps part of his charm is the way he seems more ordinary than those two who seem as reachable as that rainbow in the distance.
And those characters he plays are always just a little offbeat - such as the assassin in Grosse Pointe Blank (which he co-wrote) or the boatmaker in Must Love Dogs (which I have to honestly admit, was actually watchable, although painfully so in some parts which were just so glaringly wrong).
He's not the suave charming type, yet he's got charisma.
He plays the every man who is "Confused. Morally ambiguous." as he says in an interview with The Guardian

will stop.
(you might be wondering why I'm posting this at 0800 on a Monday. Rather unlike me, but then I'm compensating for having slept 12 hours. So today I only slept about 5. I could've slept more but all these thoughts were running around in my head so I couldn't.)

Thursday, January 05, 2006

recent reads

William S Burroughs
(had been wanting to read The Naked Lunch, which is his most famous book, but a colleague had told me how hard it was to get through, plus the library didn't seem to have a copy, so I picked up this one, Burroughs' first book and supposedly most autobiographical. It's about his life as a junkie and how he goes from addiction to addiction. Good read.)

Joan Didion
Where I Was From
(I have to admit that I didn't finish this. I didn't even really start it. It was just going on too much about California and kinda bored me. I flipped through the rest of it, decided it wasn't worth it. Plus I didn't like the layout - it's one of those narrow books, which to me is always weird.)

Kazuo Ishiguro
Never Let Me Go
(Loved it. Didn't in the beginning. But it grew on me. I like how it's somewhat sci-fi and yet absolutely not. It's more like a book that lived too long next to a sci-fi shelf and took on some tinges of sci-fi. I like that Ishiguro never states the obvious and lets the reader make her own deductions. Great read.)

John Irving
Until I Find You
(The length of this one is rather frightful. But it is John Irving, so it is expected. Equally expected are mentions of wrestling. The thing about Irving is that I somehow just can't stop reading. I have to know what happens in the end, despite having to chug through hundreds of pages to get there. This one reminds me, in particular, of The World According To Garp, the first Irving book I read and adored. But it's a step down from that.)

Rick Moody
Black Veil
(The full title of this is Black Veil: A memoir with digressions. And yeah, plenty of digressions. Moody leads us through his life, one of addiction - yes another book that has something to do with addiction this time - and melancholy. And how he learns that one of his ancestors might have been written about by Nathaniel Hawthorne. This relative was known for wearing a black veil over his face, all the time. It's not so much about the story and the relative, but Moody's relationship to the story and how he sees himself. Complicated.)

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

on looking back and not looking back

As it has been for the first few years, I've started the new year in a new position but in the same company.

I've taken a step back from the hectic pace of reporting and slithered into this deskbound position as a sub.
This means late nights, probable back problems and worsening eyesight.
But it means I will get my Saturdays off (provided I chope them) and my sanity back.
It also means I will stop whining about work. Which I hated doing but still did anyway.
What else..
It also means never seeing much of my family, who are asleep when I get home and off when I get up - it's almost like living on my own, which is something I have to figure out my finances and work out soon.
It means time before work to run errands, read books and watch the taped shows of the night before.
Yesterday I realised this also means being shocked out of bed at 830 by horns blaring outside my house. And being the one to receive deliveries of various things like a new stove.

I see now how big a mistake I made for staying on. For some reason I wanted to give it six months, when everything inside me was screaming to get out. That's probably one of the stupidest things I've ever done. But what's done is done. And it's left me scarred. Sounds silly to say that about a job. Sounds like I'm talking about a major calamity. But those were the longest six months of my life. I don't know what I would've done if I hadn't managed to get out. And yet I wonder, why was it so? How could I go from happy and excited about work to hating it and despair. How could my colleagues do it?

But no more. No more whining. No more questions about that. No more wondering about what's past.

And now, here in this other job, I am calmer, a little more at ease with work. But it's still not the right fit. I don't want a career in this. I cannot see myself doing this for a year. It's already been six months. It's not something I hate, unlike the previous job. But it's just not what I want.

I keep wondering to myself why I feel so apathetic about the state of things.
It's like I've sunken onto a comfy sofa and can't get up.
I tell myself, I must do something this year, and not just remain stagnant.
But still the question is, what?

I know what I don't want.
I just don't know what I want.