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Archive for March, 2009

I’ve stopped eating fast food.

No more McDonalds, KFC, Burger King, Popeye’s Chicken, etc. (McDonalds, Vienna, Austria, Sep 2008)

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No more donuts (Krispy Kreme, Manchester, Dec 2008)

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No more decadent breakfasts. (Hostel Les Goblins, Paris, France, Dec 2008)

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No more Pringles. (Metro, Paris, France, Dec 2008)

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No more cake! sobs (Sacher Torte, Vienna, Austria, Sep 2008)

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No more chocolate! (Yorkie, Manchester, UK, Dec 2008)

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No more soft drinks (Cockta, Montenegro, November 2008)

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No more Nasi Goreng Pattaya! (Vienna, Austria, Jan 2009) And yes, that is a double chin.

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(I ended with that terrible photo to give me motivation to start my healthy lifestyle)

As to why I am going healthy, it’s to prepare for my very first marathon, the KL International Marathon happening on June 28. That’s 89 days to the marathon. More importantly, that’s 89 days to being able to eat fast food again. And being in Malaysia, that means that’s 89 days to Halal Carl’s Junior, A&W and super cheap Secret Recipe. Wish me luck!

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I read this letter in the forum pages today, commenting on a recent article (Pack them in, build them up – March 27 2009) in which a certain Professor Edward Glaeser extolled the benefits in Singapore having a 6.5 million population. I was similarly alarmed. With more crowded trains, buses, shopping centres (with Tampines starting to look like the new Orchard), with more and more land development transforming previously empty spaces into brand spanking new condos and office buildings, with more heritage areas being torn down, spiffed up, renamed and otherwise obliterated, I really wonder what Singapore would look like if it got even more crowded. He may be an academic but his arguments, while being sound academically, just make me balk.

His idea of a perfect candidate to boost our population rate?

My model of a skilled worker is that 42-year-old biotechnology worker who has a husband and two kids and is trying to live a decent life.

On how having a dense city would help the environment?

Crowding more people on less land is fundamentally good for the environment. Partly because people have lower transportation costs, live in smaller homes, and use less energy.

On our street life?

There’s a huge amount of pedestrian traffic but it’s indoors. It’s all in the air- conditioned malls, which is really where the street life is. That means connections between those malls are actually what city planning needs.

Read the article and tell me what you think? I just feel sad at the thought of a Singapore supplemented by an army of biotech workers, living in high-rise buildings that simply get higher and higher as if trying to make an escape, and preferring to walk in underground air-conditioned walkways. (Brings a whole new meaning to ‘rat race’?)

As it is I see the working crowd at Raffles City in the mornings and think ‘Dawn of the Dead’. TOC calls it, the Sardine City. Is it no wonder Ethan Hawke lamented in not having seen Singaporeans really living?

HALP.

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Loads of people read my post SMU:Victim of its own success. When I wrote it I didn’t realise that so many people would read it upon searching for something related to SMU, but read it they did. I got a lot of really great comments on that post, go read them to see the various opinions of people who are still in SMU, who were in my batch, and some who didn’t go to SMU but similarly felt sad about how the school has fallen back on its claim of being different.

Almost 1 year has passed since then, and I’m wondering if what I wrote still rings true? Or if the situation has changed? I haven’t been in school for a while now, but it does still seem that the intense competition faced by students (between themselves) is still there, or has even intensified. I know of current students who actually feel depressed about the state of things, and I feel really sad about it.

Well, the actual reason for this post is that I don’t want people to read what I wrote almost a year before and hold it as truth if it simply isn’t true anymore. Any current students out there who could weigh in with their opinion? Or, am I harping too much on this and should I just simply accept the fact that SMU has become what it has become? Is it inevitable given that it is a Singaporean school after all, hence kiasu-ism is bound to rear its ugly head in our classrooms?

(I’d also just like to clarify that despite what I wrote about the school, my times in school were great, because of the awesome friends that I made, some really good Professors, and frujch. My main contention was and always has been the unnecessary competitiveness that simply sucked the soul of the school, with people studying in the library from Week 1 — I know, what?!)

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Back in Junior College I was slightly obsessesed with the poems of Sylvia Plath.

The visual imagery of:

Nigger eye/Berries cast dark/Hooks—/Black sweet blood mouthfuls. (Ariel)

The lovely onomatoepia in:

Viciousness in the kitchen!/The potatoes hiss. (Lesbos)

The hatred for her father expressed in childlike rhyme:

They are dancing and stamping on you/They always knew it was you/ Daddy, Daddy, you bastard I’m through. (Daddy)

The subject matter of death and suicide:

Dying/ Is an art, like everything else/I do it exceptionally well. (Lady Lazarus)

It’s no wonder that at the time I kept writing poems like that, channelling my inner depression to come up with the most disturbing imageries (I still find myself writing like this). My Literature teacher used to let us listen to tapes of Plath herself reading her poems, and her thin, stark, somewhat matronly voice made the poems all the more powerful. I remembered thinking that listening to those tapes was like that moment in a depressing movie, that quiet, still moment where you just know something bad is going to happen ( The Royal Tenenbaums, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, American Beauty, Virgin Suicides..if you watched the movies you know what I mean.)

But I remember one poem that was not very “Plath-esque” at all. You’re was a poem dedicated to her baby son, Nick, and I remember thinking that it was uncharacteristically hopeful.

Snug as a bud and at home

Like a sprat in a pickle jug.

A creel of eels, all ripples.

Jumpy as a Mexican bean.

Right, like a well-done sum.

A clean slate, with your own face on.

And it is at this point that I read with sadness that Nicholas Hughes committed suicide by hanging himself on March 16, at age 47. I have always wondered if we follow in the footsteps of our parents, and this was a tragic case of “like mother, like son” (and also “like stepmother”, as it turns out). According to his sister Frieda Hughes, Nick had been battling depression for a long time. It must not be easy to live with the fact that your mother gassed herself in the oven while your sister and you, a baby of just a year, slept in the next room. The suicide note was pinned to their perambulator.

I may not be a parent, but I have thought about things such as how we can rise beyond our personal tragedies, screw-ups and our failures to actually bring another living being into this sometimes terrible world. Such sobering thoughts for a Tuesday.

I apologise.

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There is absolutely no point in this post other than to express my utter love for blankanvas. I discovered Pat Law’s blog only recently, and what I love about it is that she successfully weaves many different topics in one website without being too “all-over-the-place” as I feel that I am with my blog. I guess it helps to have a great blog title that allows you to talk about a variety of topics. With well-written posts, entertaining content and a nice, clean layout, blankanvas.bypatlaw.com is definitely what I want my blog to be when it grows up. Read her blog if you’re interested in design, advertising,marketing, the gay community and cool pretty things in general.

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So I’ve started to get back into the groove of blogging, and I went to Facebook to see if I can do that thing where everytime I publish a new post, it shows up on my News Feed. So I went to my WordPress application on Facebook, and chose the settings that would allow me to do so….except, nothing happens.

I went to the application page and it turns out, many people are experiencing the same problem too. In a discussion board entitled “Post from WordPress not showing up”, 19 people have reported the experiencing the same problem, but as I read the posts I was dissapointed with the fact that no one from WordPress bothered to respond to the discussion.

The first post was on Feb 3rd, and I feel that some sort of response would be better than none. Even a “We’re sorry you’re experiencing this problem, but we’re working on it and will let you know as soon as the problem is fixed” would be great. Apparently there are other things wrong with the application besides the one I mentioned too.

I’m not sure if WordPress created this app, but if they did, they should know better than to just leave their customers (not customers per se since we don’t pay, but for lack of a better word customers will do) hanging. They should be using this channel to address problems and create open channels of communication with their customers. One could argue that perhaps they are not using the application page to communicate with their customers, but given that the option to leave posts and create discussion boards is open for people to use, they should be covering all their bases right?

So WordPress, whaddup? Do something already. As one Facebook user says, rather politely or perhaps with a tinge of sarcasm: “Could be great, but it seems the developer is MIA nowadays”.

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Sometimes you lose a little faith in humanity. This is rather sad, especially following the video I last posted. Me and Erfen watched in disbelief yesterday as Channel 5 News reported the case of sabotage during the Aviva Ironman Triathlon. Apparently, someone scattered thumbtacks on the road in order to sabotage the participants on the cycling leg of the competition, and managed to damage the tyres of 30 to 40 participants.

As someone interested in running (hopefully I’ll be running the KL International Marathon in June), this really made me angry. Training for these competitions is not easy, and it involves so much self-discipline and hard work, and for many people, it’s the sense of accomplishment and achievement at the end that keeps them going. I can accept that there are situations out of our control, such as the weather or the behaviour of other participants, but when it comes to cases of intentional malice, I find it utterly unacceptable.

Who could have resorted to such behaviour? I don’t really want to think that it could be another participant, so I can only think that it was the work of some pranksters. If so, I fail to see the humour in such a situation. For many who are not really looking to try and be the first to complete the race, but who are trying to beat their personal best, such a setback is really heart-wrenching. I read this article with more than a little empathy, especially at the part where she said she felt like wanting to cry every step of the way as she did not have a spare tyre.

If it was another participant, then this reeks of a childish brand of competitiveness that results in the desire to not see others succeed. Perhaps an unintended side effect of our very Singaporean trait of competitiveness? I shudder at the thought.

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