Monday, January 31, 2011


It started several days ago. The day before I really fell ill, I was joking with a friend and colleague about "going to be sick tomorrow", so could I not attend the meeting he was calling... and well, what have we here?


I really dislike upper respiratory tract infections because they meddle with my voice and I really can't stand to lose it. For a while now I have made it a point to keep away from the coughing and sniffling, and I can't recall if I had encountered any germs-dispensing individuals recently. It usually is nearly impossible to pinpoint where one has gotten one's infection from, and I wouldn't have guessed had not someone paid me a visit no more than two hours ago.

He very kindly drove all the way here to give me a CNY gift (thank you!) and some overdue documents (thank you again!), and very kindly asked if I was well. I wasn't well, I told him. What sort, he asked. The usual, I said, pointing to my throat.

"Oh! I was down with a very bad sore throat last couple of weeks!"

Did he say last couple of weeks? Was it when I went for training, sat right next to him during dinner, and rode in his fancy car all the way home after? And wasn't that exactly 7 days prior to the first day of this misery I'm now suffering? So it was him! (Right, it might not be, but I'm gonna pin it on him anyway...)


He covered his nose and mouth with his hand, backed off, wished me good night and hurried away. Si-Heng, I've been coughing so much I think my throat ought to be numb! (but no, it still hurts...)


Friday, January 28, 2011

Climber's Marks

We get these scrapes on the back of our hands, mostly around the knuckles, when we go for overhang climbs. The wounds are usually not serious, but somehow, the scars just stay.

They call them the Climber's Marks. Someone said that if one doesn't have them, one hasn't climbed hard enough. I have multiple scars on both hands (and elbows too!), but I don't think I actually climb that hard every time. I guess I'm just more careless than the regular climber is.

Methinks mine shall be called... the Clumsy Climber's Marks!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Fellow Enthusiasts

Dear Reader, do you like photography? Do you like photographing food? If so, have you ever felt awkward at dinners when you have to politely request the hungry diners to hold on (or directly forbid them to touch anything) while you took your shots? I do suppose civility could be overlooked if we're amongst close, forgiving friends, (or if you're a famous food blogger, and even strangers at your table are acquainted with your "work"). Otherwise, I'd usually settle for photographing what I've placed on my own plate:

It is absolutely grand, therefore, if there are others at the table who are equally into preserving each dish served in pixels. Hey, if the others couldn't wait 15 seconds for a crazy person with a camera, surely they could give allowance for 3 crazy persons with 3 cameras (plus a Nexus One)...

So, we were free to indulge. And we did!

This is the very first dish of deep-fried soft-shell crabs, something else and something else:

Poor little suckling piggy (but sooo good!):

The "Ying Yang" Pomfret:

I have no idea which part of the dish is Ying and which is Yang. The stir-fried fillet and the deep-fried skeleton, perhaps? In that case, we only ate one of the "elements"...

Some huge prawns (not worth the trouble of shelling 'em):

At times, I got distracted by other interesting affairs around me and went gallivating around, only to find, upon my return, the newly-served dish half-gone. So there was no other choice than to make do with what's on my plate:

Longevity noodles:

Yes, it is noodles under all those shredded chicken and crab meat.

Another round of wandering later, I came back to a miserable leftover of 4 buns out of a huge plateful:

The fellows laughed (sympathetically, I'm sure) at me, and said they'd taken enough shots to share with me, so I shouldn't fret. Well, well!

Wonderful it was, indeed, to have company who understood!

Saturday, January 22, 2011


It was on the inside of the clear glass panels. It could see the bright day and vast sky straight ahead, yet, it could not get past the unforgiving barrier. It kept trying - tirelessly, persistently, obstinately refusing to give up. From early morn I'd seen it there, till the late evening as I was leaving for home. It could not see that if it were to just fly upwards, it could go through the windows which were open. Nor could it see that if it were to fly downwards, the glass panels give way altogether to absolute freedom of passage. It definitely didn't think that if it were to just take flight - in any direction at all - away from the impenetrable obstacle, it could very well have seen both alternative ways out.

I would have spoken to it, if only it could understand me. I would have told it not to go on pecking stubbornly at the same spot at which no resolution to its predicament could be obtained. I would throw an object at it to launch it into flight were I strong enough to reach such a distance. But there was nothing we could do. We could only be helpless bystanders, watching the hapless thing struggle in its misery.

I figured it wouldn't stop trying to get through the glass because it could see the world beyond it so clearly - it was all it wanted, and it was all its. And there it would be trapped - for as long as all it saw was the desired yet unattainable, and none else. At times, I wonder if I were any different at all.

Perhaps, when the day grew dark, when it could no longer gaze at the outside, it would spread its wings, and actually fly. Then, perhaps, it would stand a chance to break out, and be happy. Perhaps.

Sunday, January 9, 2011


That, I definitely am!

I injured my right wrist - I don't know exactly when, but it wasn't hurting yesterday so it must've been today, possibly at yoga, but I have NO IDEA how - and it is in quite a lot of pain. It should not be a deterrent, but I guess I'd subconsciously used it as an excuse to convince myself it is OK to not be marking the horrifyingly huge stack of reports I ought to be marking. Instead, I enjoyed (= wasted) my night away reading blogs. This included.

Yes, I actually enjoy reading my own writing - and very much too! Tonight, I'd read posts written way back in 2005, when I first started keeping Ahem!; and tonight's not the first time I'd done so. Somehow, I don't tire of myself (which, on a serious note, is a very fortunate thing!) If it is possible, I'd love to fall in love with someone just like me (but no, it isn't, because there simply isn't!).

I love writing and love reading what I've written equally as much - and I guess it is what keeps me going given how lonely I really am. Reader, do not get it wrong - loneliness is a state of mind, and most of the time has nothing to do with whether one is actually alone or not. I guess I should be grateful that I could find such great companionship in myself (no, I am not clinically insane... not proven to be, yet, at least).

I shouldn't, however, revel in the fact that my awesome ability to self-amuse has caused me a night of not doing what I ought to. Furthermore, instead of getting on with it, I'm spending (= wasting) more time writing about this now, probably so that I could indulge (= regret) in reading it tomorrow...

Friday, January 7, 2011

Name This Song!

Once upon a time, whenever I heard something I really liked on radio, I could only hope that the DJ would, at the end of it, tell me its title and the artist performing it. I'd make a note of it - actual, physical note - if he/she indeed did. Thereafter, whenever I had the radio on, I would be ready with a blank cassette and patiently wait till I hear the DJ say that the song would be played next, and then record it. I remember one particular song which was so rarely aired I had to call in and request for it (during the 3am-6am segment, for it would have been almost impossible to get through during "normal" hours). It was My Sentimental Friend by Herman's Hermits. What good ol' (difficult) days those were!

In 2007, I offered to help make a slideshow for a dear roommate to be played during her wedding, and she requested that I use a song which she really liked. I asked her what it was, and she said she didn't know its name, but she could give me the URL of the website on which she heard it. Well, finding out the song title wasn't even a challenge, for it was an English song - all I needed to do was to catch a few words of its lyrics. Google told me what it was in 0.24 seconds. With the help of YouTube and an educated guess, I found out who performed the version I needed. It was A Lover's Concerto by Kelly Chen.

In 2008, I, after haven't done so for a really long while, developed a liking for a song which, at that time, got a lot of airtime on the station I listen to every now and then while driving. Perhaps it had got something to do with my advancing age - every time I heard it I made a mental note to look it up online, but when I got online afterwards I could never remember to do so. This exasperating cycle went on like an infinite loop for a few weeks, and would have gone on most gleefully, if not for that time when I was hitching a ride with Big Eyes, and the song came on. I asked her immediately if she knew it. Fortune must have taken pity on me, for since her sister loved it too, she did. It was I'm Yours by Jason Mraz.

Recently, I joined the increasingly massive group of smartphone users - those who can't be apart a single moment from work, those who can't be apart a single moment from social networking, those who can't be apart a single moment from the Internet, those who think carrying a smartphone makes them smart, those who must have iPhones because they're the latest cool thing in town, and those, like myself, who simply want to (and can) have one. Being relatively new to the smartphone craze, I have to admit I'm still learning the ways to fully exploit all that the powerful little device can offer (while bearing in mind the battery drains several times faster than my tough old Nokia). So, it wasn't until last month that it occurred to me, that the moment I heard a song I'd like to know the title and artist, I could immediately google it up using my phone (yes, google is a verb to me). It is a grand idea, except that it isn't exactly feasible if I happen to be driving - and I only listen to the radio, which leads to the possibility of hearing a song I find interesting enough to want to know it, when I'm traveling in the car. Sure, I could wait till I've stopped at some traffic lights, or reached my destination... if I could still remember to do it.

Then, a few days ago, I stumbled across this application. It claims to be able to identify any songs playing, just by "listening" to a part (any part!) of it, including the user's singing/humming! I just had to give it a try.

In minutes, I'd had it correctly identify a contemporary pop (Terrified by Katharine McPhee), a relatively obscure oldie (Nothing Could Be Good by Bee Gees), a piano instrumental (The Sacrifice by Michael Nyman), an acoustic guitar instrumental (I Will by Ed Gerhard), a violin concerto (Chopin's Nocturn In C Sharp Minor by Joshua Bell), and even a Chinese karaoke favourite (无言的结局)! Amazing!

Of course, Reader, you wouldn't imagine I would test the app on only a small handful of songs, would you? Well then - I discovered that it couldn't identify any of the tracks from the album a Guitar for Elvis, and Warrior's Blue, from the soundtrack of Rurouni Kenshin. Out of sheer curiosity I had the app listen to Mamula Moon by Felix Mendelssohn and His Hawaiian Serenaders - but no, it couldn't find a match (not that I expected it to, but I had to know for sure!).

Needless to say, the next thing I did was to sing to it. I chose a song I had the accompaniment to - Dream a Little Dream of Me - and had barely sung past the first verse when a list of the closest matches was returned. In addition to the original version, the app showed several of the most popular covers of the song - the information given include the artist, the album, lyrics and the option to purchase the music.

"Try a Sarah Brightman song!" he said.

Being a little over my head with awe and delight, I overestimated my singing ability and launched into Think of Me. Three lines later, the incredible app identified the singing as that of Sarah Brightman, and the song from her album Encore. I felt absolutely flattered, though I am aware that Sarah herself would probably feel insulted if she knew.

Though this app undoubtedly made it that much easier for me to find songs out, it still remains that using my phone while driving isn't something I ought to do. But hey, maybe someone will write an app that would allow me to snap my phone out of its idle mode by shouting a preset password, and then let me scream my way through starting apps and getting stuff done (which includes "ID this song and bookmark it!")...

This is how far we've come!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

New Year

Hello, readers! Instead of resolutions (which I seriously despise), I shall share a list of lessons I've learned in the past year:

1. If you eat a tiny fish at lunch, you will be hungry before it's time for yoga.

2. If you ate a stale fish at lunch, you will have an upset tummy and irritable bowels the next day.

3. If while you're not yet completely recovered from having eaten a stale fish you ate more fish (even if they're non-stale), you will have an upset tummy for the rest of the week.

4. If you boycott all the stalls serving oily fried rice and stale fish, you will have nothing else to eat.

5. If you talk to your roomees about roast pork and assam fish 10 minutes before you go to class, you will be hungry until the end of it.

6. If you let your fringe grow long and unruly enough, you will get ink stains on your face at the end of the class.

7. If you wear baju kurung / kebaya to work, people will ask you if you have official functions or meetings - no matter how many times you've done so previously, and explained that they were for no particular reason.

8. If you noticed someone has put on a little weight and you ask her if she is pregnant, the answer is most certainly NO, even if she actually is (therefore, NEVER EVER ask!)

9. If you look up and say hi to someone while halfway down the stairs, you will fall the rest of the way.

10. If you do a dynamic move (on the climbing wall) with your left arm, you will injure your left shoulder.

11. If you attempt a bouldering problem before the aforementioned injured left shoulder is healed, you will hurt it even more.

12. If while belaying you keep the rope slack because the climber insisted it, you will be lifted off your feet and hurled towards the wall when he falls unexpectedly (but it's fun!)

13. If you do not want to run to faculty office 3 times in 2 days only to be told the refill ink you wanted isn't available, buy your own.

14. If you're by nature clumsy and you keep cacti, you will get thorns in your fingers every now and then.

15. If your roomee complains that eclairs are too troublesome to make and you disagree, you will be tasked to make them instead (OK roomee, I will, but yikes...)

Fine - not very useful, I'll admit.

Let's hope we'll all have love, laughter and good health in great abundance always! Happy new year =)