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Happy birthday, Mum [13 Jan 2010|03:31pm]
I pass by the current Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy building once in a while. It's gone through many incarnations in its life, starting as the University of Singapore. But to me it will always be the IE building, i.e. (ha) the Institute of Education Building, because that's what my Mum called it when she worked there, in a branch of the Ministry of Education, working on the "Helping Underachievers Programme".

My Mum worked almost all her life, once she got her A-levels and finished Teachers Training College. She taught in Balestier Mixed School, where she met my Dad. She taught in Anglo-Chinese School (Primary), up until her retirement in 2005. And in between there were various schools and stints at MOE. So, occasionally, after Primary School finished, when I wasn't parked at the National Library waiting for her (the family didn't have babysitting), I would go to her office in the IE Building, and get parked in the library there. I discovered the lovely graphic novel style of Raymond Briggs' "When the Wind Blows" there. Plus, while my memory grows fuzzy, I think they had a good collection of Asterix comics.

But I would also go up to her office, where to keep me entertained she would give me some paper and an electric typewriter to use, and I would type things out. It was such a revelation, compared to the manual typewriter we had back home, which was exceedingly tough to use for my little-boy-hands. Plus the ability to backspace in a line was astounding. No Tipp-Ex! And so that was where I learnt to type, by my Mum's side, up in that little room in the IE building.

She was always proud of me. But in so many ways she helped me become who I am today, and sacrificed so much to give me all these opportunities to learn. And I hope somewhere she remains proud of me. Happy birthday, Mum.
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'Tis Pithy [18 Feb 2009|12:07pm]
Twitter is a drug. I feel like everything I post now wants to be shortened into pithy 140 (why not the full 160 of SMS?) character pieces. But a welcome palliative was listening to John Updike's "Playing With Dynamite" (read by Roger Angell) on the bus. Suddenly I felt like writing again, full, proper writing. I looked around at the world outside the bus window and wondered about the lives upon lives stacked in the apartment blocks, true human contact playing out behind the glass facade of the Newton Road apartments.
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On the Susan Sontag diaries [14 Jan 2009|11:23am]
Read a review of Susan Sontag's diaries in Time, which is not quite the same as reading the diaries themselves. But inspired by the tone. Perhaps better to write out thoughts to self - these days that would almost be Twitter-style. Against Interpretation was one of the lodestars of my younger teenage self, at least in writing style.

The Sontag-Annie Leibovitz relationship has always intrigued me. That much talent in one relationship!
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Happy New Year [06 Jan 2009|03:02pm]
Happy New Year one and all. I suppose with my brother's piece in Today, it's not actually news that my mother's in the hospital, and has been so for the past few weeks. You will forgive me if it's not something I particularly wish to talk about in public at this point in time (whether on this blog, on Facebook, or Twitter), but thank you to all friends who've offered comfort, or even unknowing distraction. And I'll echo my brother's comments about doing little things to help others - besides giving blood, you can help all manner of animals, or do your part for the environment. Here's to 2009.
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New York City [06 Oct 2008|09:26am]
Will be in New York City from 13-28 Nov 2008, for those of you in the area...
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Pun of the day [15 Jul 2008|11:36am]
Friend:  "Beijing Shougang Group, one of the capital's top polluters, announced it will cut production, and so pollution, by 70% over the next few months. The company is in the process of moving its massive Beijing operation to neighbouring Hebei Province." i can't help wondering what the hebei province folks think about that

Me:  probably gave them the hebei-jeebies
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Year of the Rat [10 Feb 2008|11:45pm]
Happy Lunar New Year, y'all... been a crazy set of weeks and suddenly it's impossible to lead my 2nd online life (or even my first regular life). But I wish everyone health and wealth for the upcoming year.
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Contact lenses for sale [10 Nov 2007|01:20am]
Helping a friend sell off her contacts (post-Lasik!). Anyone want to buy 1-Day Acuvue Johnson & Johnson's? 2 boxes of -2.75, BC 8.5, DIA 14.2. 2 boxes of -3.75, BC 8.5, DIA 14.2.
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Facebook addiction [07 Sep 2007|04:58pm]
Why is it so easy to succumb to Facebook addiction even now, given that I was an early adopter (user id of 4 digits - an odd source of geeky pride) and the whole novelty should have flamed out by now?
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High Pedestrian Activity [25 Jul 2007|08:46pm]

High Pedestrian Activity
Originally uploaded by dsng
Sydney pedestrians do really boring things when they're high, apparently.
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Back in Sydney [22 Jul 2007|10:44pm]

The Sydney Opera House
Originally uploaded by dsng
The last time I was in Sydney was post-JC, way back in December 1996: a gawky kid, 14 kg lighter. It was my first taste of independent travel - sure, I'd been overseas without my parents before, but even then others had helped set the itinerary. Sydney 1996 was the first time I ever planned a trip, decided where to go.

So it was with pleasure that I re-walked the streets of the Rocks today, and re-visited the Museum of Contemporary Art. (Last time I was at the MCA, a brilliant Keith Haring show was going on. This time around, I was pleasantly surprised by the fact that there was an exhibit of Matthew Ngui, the Singaporean/Australian artist. Very inspiring.) And this time round I got to going onto the Harbour Bridge, from which vantage point this shot - captured by my new Canon IXUS 950 IS - was taken.
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Memories of Grandma [22 May 2007|11:13pm]
So we sat around the table with the peanuts, exchanging stories of Grandma. Tales that were long buried resurfaced. How she sat in my overcrowded kindergarten class, the only parent/grandparent allowed to do so, barking out orders in Teochew to 40 screaming kids to keep them in line. Apparently my mother went to the teacher to apologise for my grandma sitting in, and she was told that no, actually her presence was much welcome.

Of course, stories from my early childhood are all a little fuzzy - that's a tale I only know in the telling, not one in my memory. What I remember: I remember her taking me to some shop in Geylang, and she needed to get down the road, and back then you could actually took a trishaw for transportation, rather than for any novelty value. I remember going to the wet market with her and nibbling at the dried shrimp. I remember going to the hawker centre where she would take me to my favourite Western food store, probably the only place in Singapore where a hamburger came with ham. I remember her cursing out the hand-me-down old metal tricycle after a tricycle malfunction caused me to crash, needing stitches. And so I will remember her that way: feisty, pugnacious, rather than the frail shadow of herself that she had become near the end.

I am only one of twenty-six, or twenty-seven (one loses track) of her grandchildren, but she did babysit me for many years, and I will always be thankful.

Tonight driving home I was listening to Ben Gibbard on All Songs Considered, and he launched into "We Will Become Silhouettes", and I nearly lost it. "And we will become silhouettes when our bodies finally go..."

Rest in peace, Grandma.
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The Arcade Fire live [08 May 2007|02:06pm]
Just caught the Arcade Fire live at the United Palace Theatre up in Washington Heights in New York (with one of my LJ friends) :) Incredible show. Especially the one-two punch of "Neighbourhood #3 (Power Out)" and "Rebellion (Lies)" that closed out the main show before the encore. "Rebellion (Lies)" is amazing to hear live - the build up, and then the release, with the whole crowd screaming.  It's already a good song recorded, but it goes to a whole new level live.

Seemed that the Funeral songs were better concert songs, although maybe that was just because the crowd were more familiar with them. "Antichrist Television Blues" was outstanding - have to say though, it does sound like Springsteen - and the spare version of "Neon Bible" I thought played well in the converted church...

Family, religion, they tackle the big subjects and do them well (and with every conceivable instrument).

All right, while sleeping is giving in, I think I need to head to bed. More on the show when I'm not as dazed...
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Back in NYC [01 May 2007|09:05am]
One thing I like a lot about travelling out of Singapore is the sense of anonymity, the sense of escaping the feeling that you might meet some random acquaintance around every corner. And so it has been with NYC, with me happily strolling down the streets of Midtown (okay, Midtown more than any other part ensures anonymity...). It's really good to be back.
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New York Cares [28 Apr 2007|05:01pm]
(Random reference to the Interpol song) But anyway, as some of y'all know, will be in New York for 2 weeks for work from Monday. I like how things work out sometimes! Haven't been to the city since 2003 - which was a lifetime ago.
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Phone Calls [13 Mar 2007|11:26pm]
I hate getting phone calls. They make me jumpy, they rile me up. I've switched to calmer ringtones to avoid getting too worked up over calls (Natalie Merchant's "One Fine Day" is my default ringtone, although in the past I've used Erik Satie). But that only alleviates it somewhat.

I don't know when that happened. When I was a teenager it was always such a thrill to get calls. And I still love getting SMSs and e-mails and IMs. And I really, really love getting mail. Even official business mail is good to get! But phone calls... I think it's having a mobile phone. To me, getting a call on my cell is basically like someone coming over and going TALK TO ME TALK TO ME, regardless of what else I may be doing, regardless of whether I might be out doing something. Some of the aversion is also due to some residual fears arising from a long-distance relationship, I suppose. It's funny the scars that people leave.

That hatred of being called has spread to my home phone. I guess I like communicating on my own terms. That, and/or I like the written word rather than voice. And it doesn't matter whether I like the person calling. I love my parents to bits, but I really, really wish they would SMS rather than call. I think for me love is being left alone when I want to be alone, and respecting that I will call whenever I can. Is this a "guy thing", or just me?

What I really hate is the second call, after I hit the 'busy' button. I mean, I've already signalled to you that I'm in a situation where I shouldn't be bothered, and yet instead of following up with an SMS you just keep calling for my attention.
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Shaken, Not Stirred [07 Mar 2007|01:36am]
The news today was the tremors from the Sumatra quakes: was on the 24th floor in the conference room, and then the room shook so violently I got giddy. For a while I thought it was the usual - every now and then I find the room starts spinning to me. But no, it was really spinning, or at least, shaking.

I wonder if people, thrown out by random movements of the earth, met each other on the street, saw old friends, fell in love with new faces.
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There is a Light That Never Goes Out [07 Mar 2007|01:30am]
"And if a double decker bus
Crashes into us
To die by your side is such a heavenly way to die"

There is such beauty in the misery of Morrissey, innit?

Cue Nick Hornby: "I advertise in the back of the glossy rock magazines, and get letters from young men, always young men, in Manchester and Glasgow and Ottowa, young men who seem to spend a disproportionate amount of their time looking for deleted Smiths singles and "ORIGINAL NOT RERELEASED" underlined Frank Zappa albums. They're as close to being mad as makes no difference." (High Fidelity excerpt)

Come to think of it, I watched Morrissey many, many moons ago with my friend Annie (who would go on to write music reviews for proper sources - in another life, I suppose that could've been my career as well). At that time I didn't understand all those going up on stage with flowers. Now I wish I could go back and re-live that concert, knowing what I know now.

But in any case, I am trying hard to remember all these sides of myself that I'm afraid might have gotten trampled on or starved in Singapore. That feeling that a song and an album could transport you, not just serve as the backing soundtrack to a life. Trying to remember the person I was, and can be.
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LJ Talk [19 Feb 2007|03:42pm]
Ooh, I added LJ Talk to my Adium list, so supposedly anyone's who's a mutual friend (and uses LJ Talk) will be on my buddies list. Not that it really matters - a lot of you are on my MSN/Gmail etc. friends list - but the nice advantage is that I can post to my LJ via IM (like I'm doing now), instead of calling up the LJ site. Nice.
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Year of the Pig [19 Feb 2007|03:33pm]
Happy New Year, one and all!
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