i just wish though that he wouldn't harp so much on the "miracle" of the markets. it's wonderful, but it would be even better if everyone had equal access to them.

take a good look

Originally uploaded by ButzBE.

see that building! i feel like it! it is old, unwanted, and is going to be torn down, (i think). It's old, it's sitting on prime land, and past glory or not they're going to remove that damn theatre.

anyway, i realise i'm leaving soon. well, you see, it's not because i'm leaving, but i'm taking more photos of random places simply because i bring my camera around now. and well i know it's weird for a local trying to snap some signpost of "Bukit Timah Road" glinting in the sunlight as if I were some tourist.

Yes, I have been devouring books lately, now that I've ceased thinking about work or anything and am in "academia" mode. well, apart from meeting up with amusing people and watching them get drunk, or almost so. I caught the Capitol Theatre today on the way to LSE induction at Coleman St, and I felt rather old. Basically ended up chatting with a lot of the seniors cause I knew more of them than the young punks entering LSE=). Well, let's not have such an attitude by I'm telling you I'm not really that old! I just feel old! I don't even have to sign an indemnity form. And did you know PSC scholars have to watch NDP parade? I have nothing against NDP, flag waving and all, but it's as if they're preparing them to be ministers they go, ok, see those people in white pants, see where they sit, yeah try to be like them and such. Well it's good that they're keeping people in touch with Singapore, but really! Give them the tickets and let them go of their own free will already!

And it's the stupid books I've been reading. "All Quiet on the Western Front", which I've always wanted to read because it's less than 200 pages, has a cool name, and the author's called Erich Maria Remarque. I always like it how they think one name isn't cool enough and get 3 of them. (maria was his mom's name) I always loved the name "maria". It means Latin for "sea". Although I didn't know that, did you? I always wanted to name my daughters "Pelagia" and "Neritia" after the sea, when "maria" was sitting there all along. I digress! Apparently it's really popular in the states (well of course actually it's roots are from the virgin mary). and there's also maria of west side story, some spanish/puerto rican chickolita or whatever it is in spanish fought over by the gangs. And Rainer Maria Rilke, oh god what a name. i like jesse but you'd be frustrated when they start expecting a girl to raise their hands in class. i have chinese names too but you'd start thinking i was obsessive compulsive so no!

and in "All Quiet", you see the poor narrator is this boy who has to go fight a war and come back (he dies.) but when he's back on leave he feels so lost, kind of like that person in Apocalypse Now. Well, it's not exactly like that, I mean NS is like wimpy peacetime rubbish, but I'm saying you don't go over from 2 years and come back and nothing's changed. You're older ffsakes! And you have to relearn the intricacies of 18yrdom! But as i said i'm not all that mature, i'm a brat, really!

P. Heyne's "Economic Way of Thinking", while undoubtedly read for obvious reasons (reading list yadda), is at least good in introducing some philosophical framework for economics (which i'd be rather interested in at LSE anyway, considering close ties between philo and econs dept). It's simple econs, yadda, but it's explained in a more thorough and rigorous way. Which is good considering that 1st year will be a lot a lot of maths so it's good to go in with a good reason why you're doing all that.

and doing reams of calculus refreshers do help! and of course, let's all enjoy ourselves before we leave.


yah give me good service

i went around a bit in the afternoon settling the last bits of my air tickets. i got my refund done pretty smoothly, and i popped over to B&L travel at Adelphi (no, not product placement!), where I asked for a couple of quotes a few days earlier at my trip to the dentist. By the way, my teeth were so bad he couldn't finish cleaning it in one session. It's not a good thing to announce to the world, but then again, with the way I'm living, I'm not surprised I have bad teeth.

Yes, anyway, apart from giving me a consistent, good price (yes, that means no changing your price after 3 days or such), i said, well it's cheap, and i gave them a call earlier in the morning, specifically this motherly figure called esther. after returning my email promptly, (which ended with CALL ME!!!), i promptly called. anyway, well after the administrative booking advice was over she proceeded to give me travel advice, how her daughter who went to canada got screwed over by s'pore airport officials, so on and so forth, quite entertaining, compared to calling one of the larger agents or less friendlier ones who are dying to get you off the phone and earn more commisions and still charge larger fares!

so i decided to go down and settle invoicing, and she did my ticket and all, talked to me about "yi ge ren qu lun dun, yi ding hui ren di sheng shu..." and the experience her brother had who ended up staying in london for 23 years, gave me his number, told me to ring him if he needs help, asking about me, and i asked about her family which seems to be all over the place... it's all so different from gimme your card, swipe, ok, come back on xxx to collect. ok. bye. it's a personal touch, well, maybe it's sometimes a luxury you can't afford, but, if you do business in an ethical and sincere way, and, as a customer, you also behave sincerely (meaning, try not to screw them over by booking/refund, being an arsehole customer in general), you get good relationships and you enjoy your work (getting return customers aside).

yes, you can't be friendly to everyone, but it doesn't hurt, and just on a day when i was thinking of the fundamental immorality of a company being responsible to shareholders, it's nice to see that business can be done well. more rants, i promise, on the immorality of modern capitalism next time!


gasp almost a week has past since my last post! slowly but surely, time is slipping away but i haven't been taking any photos or writing anything to pin it onto a green felt board.

i know i'm sick because there are lumps in my throat and my muscles are sore, but that won't spare me from eating badly and sleeping irregularly. i must say i've had some very good food (last week's char kway teow mm!), and then zion road for beef hor fun, almost like i'm scared of missing out on the food or something, although it serious hasn't struck me yet that i'm leaving.

i am foolishly thinking i can save up all my leaving thoughts till before the day i'm leaving or something, just like how i thought i could save all my army thoughts for my ord day. but you know, singapore's not the most interesting place, but when i buy indian rojak from adam road and i walk back i realised the places do remind me of something, i don't know what, but vaguely something!

i will somehow stumble through the next few weeks, a bit of work here, some maths there, french lessons, periods of long intense boredom and erratic sleep patterns, a sprinkling of friends and small amounts of stress on travel preparations. i should read a good book but i don't know which!

and then there'll be orientation and stuff for lse in the coming weeks, and i have to continually remind myself that ALTHOUGH i feel 21 i do not look 21, and maybe i don't have all the experience a 21 year old ought to have. but it somehow strikes me that I'm going for all these pre-uni things and thinking (omg all the chicks are 18) or (young punks nowadays...) or some other variation, no it's not some structural disconnect, it's not coming back and staring at a fan after Vietnam, nor is it the narrator's disquiet upon returning home in All Quiet on the Western Front. It's just NS, and I'm going to have to get used to all these young punks and have fun where I can. the survival guide has weird pieces of advice on drugs and hiv/aids to the tune of "if you're going to do it might as well know what you're getting into. ecstacy? remember to drink water, take care of yourselves kids." And then I know that thinking people are young punks is a universal hobby for those aged 20 and above. Don't you feel old now?

and i will arrive sept 18th, a little bit bewildered, maybe a bit of a time for a trip around town and settle the myriad procedures which come about when you're arriving in a foreign country. the world will be happy, there'll be lse crush every friday and maybe i'll remember to be a nice person!


char kway teow man

not the best pic, but just wanted to preserve a little something abt the place, and the bulb was in the way.

No, the char kway teow man is not made of grease and flour noodles and does not climb skyscrapers in singapore. He works at a food centre at Margaret Street which happens to be rather old and those left untouched by renovation and the works.

Of course, I happened to be want to crazy enough to wait 1 hour to eat char kway teow at this place, because it's famous, and since I had nothing to do during my wait, I pursued a train of thought. Now, apart from this stall, really, the rest of the food centre was really quiet. Next to it was a satay stall and the owners were lounging around. A far cry from days when this place used to be crowded.

now, singaporeans rock at queues, or so we like to say. you could get very impatient and start questioning how smart u are to have started in the queue. but, typically, you won't settle for 2nd best when it comes to food, so you wait, and the longer you wait, the longer your investment becomes.

thoughts like these keep me patient. but as i waited i got more and more impressed. because this guy does not have any helpers, he has stacks of plates and he keeps dishing them out. it's almost relentless, there's a one hour queue backing up, no respite for him in site. He remains fumigated in vapour and grease, grabs noodles, ladles in the chilli the "hum", lup cheong, taugeh, add dark sauce, break the eggs, fry fry fry, top up with water... next customer, ad infinitum, except some say mai hiam or mai ham and he takes 1 step or 2 out of the whole process. its fucking tiring to be frying non-stop in such heat (oh of course, he must be used to it.)

and maybe it would be better if he screamed at someone in the queue for not staying in line or for not ordering correctly, just to vent his rage and stress at the neverending queue or at work. but know, he smiles before each order and there are pple who go up to talk cock with him occasionally but most of the time he is frying with robotic efficiency. can his 50/60+ yr body hold?

no, i'm not holding him up as an example of someone so wonderful and charitable or anything, because the only responsibility he feels is probably to serve customers who've been waiting an hour, so he cooks as fast as he can. and at 2.50 a plate, having a neverending queue is a good thing, and lots of money. and, he gets press too, when the food reviewer comes down and says his char kway teow is a word of art. and everyday he does this, excepting mondays, and what drives him? this is something else the world is throwing at me, something i don't understand.

because i can understand why someone would jump in front of a car to save someone, and sacrificing himself. that's sacrifice, it's simple, and u can do such things in moments of foolishness=p. but to do something like this day after day, it must give him such pride, or, what? what drives him? uncle, close down for 3 days and go to bali? or just stay at home at watch tv? do you have kids, or a wife? so much i don't know.

because even if i made the best damn char kway teow in the world, i don't know how i could keep it up at the rate this man does. i would want to go to bali to slack after earning enough, or maybe learn how to cook something else. basically, maybe i wouldn't have that drive, if i had enough money, or enough fame? but this guy does this day in day out, and i don't understand.

and one day, maybe, there will be no one who fries char kway teow like he does in singapore. i'm not saying this to tar progress with a bad brush or to be romantic. i understand why everyone would possibly want to progress to eating and cooking in air-con comfort, have hygienic and clean places. i'm just saying it because it is a fact, that one day he will die, and if he has children, he won't want them to fry char kway teow, although he loved it like the world, and that he deserves to be remembered because he's actually holding out against the world by being his old, resistant to change self. and maybe that's just something i simply can't understand, not quite yet, not quite now.

the char kway teow? oh yeah it was good.


Beauty 101 : Things of beauty; what a beaut

I think I am a dork when it comes to appreciating things of beauty (note, not beauty per se, but things which possess beauty), and so I will post the beautiful things I saw today.

1. The Victoria falls... the left is an aerial view of the Zambezi river plunging into a gorge... it's probably the most magnificent curtain of falls in the world, (it is the longest). BBC has recently been turning its focus towards Africa (what with live 8 and all)... and when they showed the falls my first thought was "what the fuck, I have to go there". Not to mention the skies seem to be perpetually blue and giraffes are frolicking and co-existing happily with antelopes and deer. All you need is the rainbow from the waterfall. Africa may not have progressed much from the days of Livingstone, and maybe it's unfair that the only thing we'll ever appreciate Africa for is its natural beauty. Well, god certainly gave it some natural beauty, now if only they had good sanitation, clean governments and a cure for aids.

2. Pair of swans, white. They come in black too but I saw these 2 when I was running with Debi in the botanic gardens. I'm quite sure they weren't the only swans in the pond (it's not fair to give them one pond!), but I'm sure the rest were not so vain and decided to hide in the bushes, and only stupid proud swans that are white as bleach would want to swim around displaying themselves to no one in particular.

3. The Pic du Midi, in the Pyr�n�es. More blue skies, and, as the travel brochure says , "you can catch the glint of the first rays of light slowly illuminating peak by peak during sunrise," "the melange of the sky and the sea on a clear day, when you can see all the way to Zaragoza in Spain, and even the lights on a clear night"" (translated). Can you imagine the sunrise here? What the hell.

All in all, rather impermanent stuff. Kind of like seeing the view at Sapa, you have to come back another time or you won't get it.


need something up your ass?

While sourcing for lab supplies today, lip found something he could use for anal-retentive people, or for unspecified kinky purposes. hidden in the midst of vaginal speculae and fiche clips for female sterilisations. i think i know why i'd rather not be a doctor, so i'd love to thank all those noble souls who do these dirty jobs for us. and for all that've been naughty, mean and not nice, up yours.


the musical education continues

maybe we don't talk all too much but when you play songs like this. i guess we are really quite the same. another 30 years, perhaps. by cat stevens, now known as yusuf islam.
It's not time to make a change,
Just relax, take it easy.
You're still young, that's your fault,
There's so much you have to know.
Find a girl, settle down,
If you want you can marry.
Look at me, I am old, but I'm happy.

I was once like you are now, and I know that it's not easy,
To be calm when you've found something going on.
But take your time, think a lot,
Why, think of everything you've got.
For you will still be here tomorrow, but your dreams may not.

How can I try to explain, when I do he turns away again.
It's always been the same, same old story.
From the moment I could talk I was ordered to listen.
Now there's a way and I know that I have to go away.
I know I have to go.

It's not time to make a change,
Just sit down, take it slowly.
You're still young, that's your fault,
There's so much you have to go through.
Find a girl, settle down,
if you want you can marry.
Look at me, I am old, but I'm happy.

All the times that I cried, keeping all the things I knew inside,
It's hard, but it's harder to ignore it.
If they were right, I'd agree, but it's them they know not me.
Now there's a way and I know that I have to go away.
I know I have to go.


through some fault of my own again i'm somehow awake now. when i got up to check the time i suddenly had an impulse which i haven't had for a long time just to call someone and hoping that talking would somehow make time passable, considering i do not wish to start on another series of questions or play some stupid game that would make me sleep.

and i realised that it's wishful thinking. not that nobody's there for you. just that's it's not very much and anyone would kill you for waking them at 5 to talk about nothing, whether or not they deeply care for you or not. just some thoughts.

just a piece of blue sky

Haven't been around much lately have I? Must be pretty infuriating. The past week has been relatively free from work, and got to catch my breath and have a change of pace (oh, it wasn't slow enough?)

The photo, well, was on my way to Zining's party (Happy 21st!) and I decided to try out my new phone, not too bad is it. Yes, I did go really early and was rather bored so that's what I did in my spare time.

I had plenty of weird, weird moments, and moments of inspiration over the past week.

Here are some of them:

1. Roger Federer winning Wimbledon. Thing of beauty.
2. Walking along Orchard Road in the morning, realizing that clueless tourists or expats co-exist together with retirees, who mill about with no purpose whatsoever. And there are even the flyer givers, no escaping them. albeit this one was weird, she seemed afraid of me and seemed to withdraw from giving flyers, as well as manage to look totally clueless.
3. Dodgy X-ray clinic, but cheap. Receptionist looks like someone you could shag, it's the make-up and all. Some people do retain their beauty well. "lao chio?"
4. Getting very interested about my course, the options available, and wanting to do every course in the book. (website). Read up on "Calculus of Vector Functions", a simple enough title. It's what my dad used way back when he was in UNSW, and the terminology is really confusing (perhaps because I'm not trained enough). If you browse through it you could probably follow until pg 75 or so, when it starts getting complex. All the same, the interesting stuff seemed to be at the back, and some bits of it were at the front too. In particular, the topology sections, and the way they prove stuff for weird shapes as well as until n values and such is quite beautiful. It's not quite instinctive, a bit complicated, but I guess mathematics is nice in that the simpler the truth is, the harder it seems to derive. proving for all cases always harder than proving for one. In particular, this Riemann guy seems to be a hero of differential math. But my god... how much there is to know in this world, and how little time.
5. Knowing that with my current level of mathematics, I will never complete "Calculus of Vector Functions", I have chosen to be modest and work on calculus and algebra refreshers. MA100 looks manageable enough (the 1st few weeks), and quantitative analysis of econs questions seems really interesting! I never thought I would say this but yes, I do need math to do what I love. I wish I knew that earlier.
6. I should be able to get SIA tickets to London paid for. Bulk discounts and such.
7. Medical Report done. I am fine and well (yes, the waterfall didn't dent me), although I must confess the doctor seemed to presume I was fine, and yes, didn't check for STDs too.
8. usual, little bit happy, little bit sad. sometimes when you're alone you're inspired, and no distractions, but sometimes it's weary. "what do people do?"
9. I have a home in London. To be more modest, a roof over my head. It's at Bankside Hall, 24 Sumner Street, SE1 9JA, London, United Kingdom of Great Britain. The 200 pound deposit put a dent in my account. But it should leave me worry free for.... 2 weeks? More when I get there.
Letters should come addressed to me. But, in due time of course. Of course, pleased that London won the bid, and if you want my views on the terrorist bombings, I will oblige because they're rather strong and perhaps do not belong here.
10. And the pleasures of just walking around under a clear blue sky, when one would be normally in school, or at work, and going to the post office, dropping letters off, making lunch. Aaah, slow and leisurely. I'm not usually this appreciative of the simpler things in life, and I should blog while I still have this happy mood. The irony is that it's pitch dark but I'm happier.


5th July 2005

I ran into Isis again today and it turns out she's taking French on the same day as I am... and talking with her about the travails of being young in China... pretty interesting, and of course I really would love to work or study in China one day, if only to be insanely stressed, have a shitty small flat for moderate amounts of money. But they do have a good sense of humour, so we'll see.

I did post some of my thoughts on china on the class blog... It probably has one of the most brilliant high school systems anywhere (well if you want a qualifier, for science and mathematics), and considering the number of people they manage to put through a high school education it's fantastic... of course when it comes to the "gao kao" they're all so freaking stressed and probably share the same unenviable stress we complain about for all our exams.

I wanted to post something about language and how it's learnt, and comment a bit about education systems... guess not, a bit dry huh.