in the clouds

I was happily playing on her iMac when I happen to glance out of her study window. And saw a big nothing! She lives high up, on the 45th floor, and we were being attacked by clouds. Swafts of it was rolling in across the harbour and I could see wisps of it and then, it was all white. It’s like when I’m on the airplane and it’s going through the cloud layer.

Then the sun came out and I could still not see the street or the building opposite. It was kinda surreal. Like being in Shangri-la.

meet the parents

We had lunch with my family today, and dinner with hers. A truly “meet the parents” kind of day. Of course she knows my folks well, and I’m almost part of her family. But … there’s always the but.

Lunch we went to the club at the small island by the beach. My niece had a great time and we ordered food for the bbq the club set up outside. It was really hot and I wasn’t prepared, had only a vegetable-like T-shirt on and must have looked like a vegetable. Food was good though.

Foot massage in the afternoon, then dinner with her family. Proper served meal and private room. Very nice food, good company. Needless to say, I’m extremely full. Her Mum gave me some herbal tea, cos I was breaking out in spots and she boiled it specially for me.

Just to show how different our respective families are. Mine is more serious, have a more simple view of the world. Hers is more worldly, knows about relationships and in general more noisy, but in an endearing kind of way.

Don’t think they’ll mix terribly well though.

firm belief

Another late start to the day, not as late as yesterday. We’d planned to go out, but it was 3.30pm and we were still at home and I’d turned the heater on for a shower.

Finally we did go out, because we went to a baptism mass. It was a long mass, combined Easter and baptism and confirmation. So much so that we had to sit at an outside bench and couldn’t hear most of the procedings. But when it came to the ceremonies we went forward and crushed with everyone to get a glimpse.

It was very moving. Very moving, long mass, but the joy on everyone’s faces. It was long, and to ‘civilians’ probably boring. But the hymns were beautiful and the readings were lovely. And it’s unusual, we had both holy bread and holy wine today.

It’s at times like this that I’m glad of my belief, even though I hardly go to church. It’s the solid foundation inside me that helps me become who I am.

do something unusual

It’s Good Friday. First off, I should be fasting today, at least refrain from meat. But I didn’t. Sigh, I mean well, I’m just not a good Catholic.

I woke up at around 10.30. She woke up for a little while but fell asleep again, she’s so very tired and I’m so glad she can sleep well here. No matter, cos I was reading the TWoP forums on TAR. I got hungry at around 1.30pm so I woke her up. sorry honey.

We saw Being Julia with librarian. It’s funny. Annette Benning carried the entire movie so well, but I was most impressed with Juliet Stevenson cos we’re both big fans of hers. We laughed our heads off at the theatre scene, and there was this other person in the cinema who had an even more insane laugh. A bit loud, but it was funny.

Then we went to her brothers’ new place for bbq. They moved to the top floor of a converted house and they have the roof. It was a good bbq. The last time I had bbq was also with them, at the roof of the office.

It was nearly 12.30am when we left. When we got back to town, we decided to do something we haven’t done for a long long time — stay out late. Went for quick dessert and walked for a little while before getting a taxi home. This post is dated 25 March but actually it’s 2.37am on 26 March, I’m waiting for her to finish showering and then it’s my turn. Yep, it’s been a long time since we stayed up this late (except when I’m reading or writing).

vacation time

The Easter vacation is probably the best vacation ever. It’s Thursday and by 3pm the office was dead, we had month-end drinks with lots of nice food so I didn’t need dinner.

And it’s only Thursday! And we have FOUR days of vacation! Isn’t it awesome?

Just me

I keep thinking I should update my personal page, you know, the 25 squares about myself that I modelled on Leslie Harpold’s system status page, even though she’s changed her format, I kept mine.

Apart from the faq, about and other tmi (oh, someone asked me what tmi means, obviously they’re not CSS versed, tmi = too much information) pages, the personal section is the only section not MT powered, they’re just a series of static pages. I’m thinking I should MT them too but can’t be bothered.

Anyway, like I said, I keep meaning to update the page, cos it’s been there since early Jan. But I can’t think of anything special to say. May be I’ll leave it till April then.

firefox

Everyone who is just that little bit knowledgeable about web stuff, ie anyone who stays away from the evil twin monsters that are Windows and IE (cos they’re like lemmings who don’t know nothin’ and who don’t matter) knows firefox is good for you.

I’ve been having problems with the website lately, slow loading times and occasionally being shut out. I switched back to firefox and eureka! Loading time is like 1/10th that of Netscape. My goodness! I’m totally in awe. I love me this firefox more and more. I’m even getting used to the unfamiliar way the fonts appear.

planning our retirement

We met up with our financial advisor today. Though most of our money is held separately, we have an investment account in our joint names. Actually it’s 2 accounts, one lumpsum and the other a monthly savings plan.

It’s grown, and we have a neat and tidy sum there. It was all her idea and I just latched on, so I’m glad she thought about it.

We’re going to open another one, to house the GBP I have sitting as cash in my account for so many years, not earning much. It’ll be spread between one fund is invested in college campus accommodations and another fund that’s a hedge of hedges.

I still don’t know what to do with my bonus. I want to buy more CHF but it’s dreadfully expensive, so is EUR and GBP. It’s frustrating when the dollar is so weak. With interest rates still low it doesn’t make sense to repay my mortgage. I have to do more research, but I know that I’ll just end up relying on her ideas.

birthday presents

I’m the world’s worst person when it comes to presents and being romantic etc. Like the jigsaw chain fiasco, when I moaned about Swarowski not giving us 2 boxes to keep our necklaces in, when the whole idea is supposed to be all romantic and keeping them together as a pair. Heehee, she had a good laugh at me for that.

Our birthdays are coming up. She’s planning a holiday for us, so far I’ve done nothing, she’s made all the enquiries and bookings. So lovely!

I asked her what she wants for her birthday present, cos I can’t think of anything interesting. Digital camera? iPod? She already has. Jewelry? Clothing? I have no idea. A book? Does she have time to read? Argh!

I thought about what I want. Originally I thought of aeron chairs I have in the office. But I made enquiries and the supplier doesn’t give corporate discount for personal purchases and these chairs are extremely expensive. Sigh.

stay inside

I didn’t have much food in the fridge, not having done any grocery shopping. So we were thinking we need to go out to eat sometime during the day.

But we had noodles and chiffon cake for brunch, and didn’t feel like going out. She was watching Korean drama and I was cleaning up my laptop.

I took a nap on the sofa (yeah, it’s big enough for the 2 of us if we squish together) and when I woke up, didn’t feel like going out again. So we ended up calling KFC delivery.

I like it. I hope she doesn’t think it’s boring.

uri names

I’d already tidied up the format of entry files so they have both enty ID and title. Now finally I get round to tidying up the category names.

Posts now have the uri:

home/section/archives/category/000123title.php

The spec to use under Archiving in weblog config is from elise.com, both category and post names are trimmed to 20 characters

<blockquote><$MTEntryCategory dirify="1" trim_to="20"$>/<$MTEntryID pad="1"$><$MTEntryTitle dirify="1" trim_to="20"$>.php </blockquote>

Categories have their own subdirectory now:

home/section/archives/category/index.php

<blockquote>/index.php </blockquote>

wine

On the plan back I watched Sideways. Originally I wanted to watch Closer but my colleagues were talking about Sideways last night and they said it’s good.

And it is. One of those little gems that doesn’t do a lot, has no big message or action sequence. The 2 main characters, and the 2 slightly less main characters, are all excellent, carrying the film throughout. I only now realise it’s over 2 hours, it certainly didn’t feel like it, no sparse moment, smoothly going from scene to scene.

It’s the sort of film that makes you feel like you really do know these people, and at the end when the credits roll, you just want to put your arms round them and go off for another round of drinks.

Lots of wine references, the vineyards and vintage shown really look great. Love the dissing of merlot and the redemption of chardonnay.

Was drinking airline wine, quality of which is no way close to the wines sampled in the film, but it’s ironic in a way.

final dinner

Original plan was to go to usual foodcourt, no big deal. But then my colleagues invited me to drinks at the newly refurbished Oriental, they are having a happy hour special for martinis. Never drank a martini before, quite nice. The bottom of the glass has more of the salty olive taste that gives a nice aftertaste.

Then they adjourned to the Tiffin Lounge at Raffles for curry buffet dinner. Must have been expensive, and filling, though I only had a plate each of salad, main course and dessert. I was still full when I went to bed.

It’s a nicer way to end my multiple weeks of stay here than the foodcourt, definitely.

no washing

I can’t help but laugh. I think my clothes are too sub-standard for the hotel. At least their laundry.

Normally I baulk at sending clothes to the hotel laundry for washing, but I’ve been doing this for a month and a half and I can’t handwash everything. So I send my shirts and my pants for the laundry.

And even when I tick the box that says No to “do you want to be notified of defects in your clothing”, they still wrap them up in plastic with a note that either there’s a big hole or the colour’s faded, and I have to sign and send back to have it washed. It wastes a day.

Okay I admit it, my polo shirts are extremely faded and my cargo pants have a gigantic tear and hole at the bottom. But didn’t tick the box that says it’s ok?

It’s like, they’re trying to disqualify my stuff from going into the laundry, like amongst all the other nice shirts and all that presumably other hotel guests send in, my clothes simply don’t make the cut? Shouldn’t be seen in that company?

Like I said, gotta laugh.

smoking ban

This is really good news. Singapore will ban smoking in certain public places by October. Places include bus-stops, public toilets and open air stadiums. The government is considering extending to pubs, clubs and hawker centres.

I believe it will work in Singapore, people are very conscious of keeping to the rules and being a conscientious citizen, a recent study found the majority favoured a ban, even smokers themselves.

To be honest, I have absolutely no sympathy for smokers, why do they have to poison the air, force me to smell that foul smell and endanger my health through inhaling those particles into my lung. I have no problem about them slowly killing themselves in the privacy of their own home, I couldn’t care less about them. But as soon as it starts affecting me, that’s when I get annoyed.

referrer spam

I’ve been getting hit by referer spam for a couple of months. At first I noticed in my site stats that I’m being linked to by a lot of those stupid poker, pay-day loan uri’s. So much so that I have no idea about the genuine people who come to the website.

I added these to MT-Blacklist, knowing that isn’t the source of the problem. I didn’t even know what it is. Gradually I figured it out and there’s even a name for it.

Lots of articles on how to combat referer spam, mostly passive. But that’s the best we can do now. Someone’s written a perl script to get rid of bad referers in the log file but I haven’t figured out how to run perl scripts yet.

So I’ve done as much as I know how to.

  1. Password protect the stats log file. Easily done in the control panel. Username is admin, password the usual bxxxxxx.
  2. Block the offending root domains using .htaccess. I got the fomat and a list of banned referers from Tom Raferty, it’s uncanny how I’ve encountered most of the offenders in his list.
  3. I have to check site stats regularly and update the htaccess file. Small steps though.

I can recite this in my sleep

They’re showing Original Star Wars on TV tonight. Thing is with the hotel room is, the desk faces the window and the TV be actually behind me so I can’t see it. Another reason why I watched so much football, no need to watch, just listen.

Anyway, back to Episode 4. I’m sitting here at the desk as usual and I’m listening. And I can imagine every single scene, know the dialogue and even the score.

Yeah, so I’m an original SW geek, but not Episode 1-3, okay. Only Episode 4-6, I’ve seen those so many times I really can recite the whole film in my sleep.

House viewing and naps

Met up with my friend RM who has just moved to here to work, he was going house hunting this morning and invited me to come along. To take pictures and report to his wife, who hasn’t moved here yet.

Saw 8 places, 1 townhouse and the others were apartments. We were unanimous in our first choice, the townhouse. It’s in a narrow quiet street and on 4 storeys — basement leads to the garage and has a storage / maid room. First floor is the large living room and open terrace. Second floor is the master bedroom. Top floor 2 bedrooms that can be study and guest room. The bathrooms aren’t of the best design, they have this weird sunken bathtub in the master bedroom floor. If I were them, I’d ask the landlord to replace the entire bathroom with more modern and regular fittings.

It’s nice and open, airy and has a sort of peaceful holiday home feeling. There’s a pool that’s sculpted so it’s like flowing water. It was the biggest place we saw this morning, but rent is about the same as the others cos it only has a pool and no other facilities.

Our second choice was a top floor duplex that had 4 bedrooms and full length windows. The second floor is on a balcony you get up to by a spiral staircase. So the living room ceiling is 2 storeys high. Very impressive.

We also saw one penthouse that was only 2 bedrooms and small (actually lousily designed) living room. But it has a roof terrace and its own jacuzzi. Wow. I wouldn’t want it cos I was scared walking up the quite open stairs to the roof that had no handrails. Too much of a fear of height.

Had a simple lunch at the foodcourt and I went to the supermarket.

Very sleepy so I had a shower and took a nap. It was around 4.30pm when I went to bed and when I next opened my eyes it was still sort of light out so I figured, around 5.30. But it was past 7pm! Normally I only nap for an hour or so, this time it’s nearly 3 hours.

I think I was quite tired. I think it was catch-up sleep, don’t forsee any trouble falling asleep tonight.

a little change

The big hoohah for the day was that we didn’t go to the foodcourt for lunch, we went to one of the restaurants downstairs, they were giving out leaflets the other day. Today’s set lunch was fish and chips, for SGD1 more there was a glass of soft drink.

When I think fish and chips I think of UK style, with beer batter and fat chips. But here it was thin breaded fried fillets and a small portion of fries. Still, it tasted nice and the price was about the same as the foodcourt.

Then after work we went for a beer. Now she will be happy to hear this, but I had only 2 glasses (plus some slices of pizza) and I’m feeling a little wooozy already. Each glass isn’t even half a pint. Must be out of practice.

reality check

There’s too much reality tv on, and I get hooked into them. Whole night tonight has been American Idol, Amazing Race. Later in the week it’s Survivor and The Apprentice. It’s too addictive, a cheap form of entertainment. A far cry from the high art, like BBC dramas or even animal documentaries. But it’s difficult not to get involved, laugh at the hilarity of the casts, the stupidity of the tasks.

What did I read somewhere a long time ago? Television is a medium because it’s neither rare nor well done.

random nothingness

It’s highly unusual for me, not having anything to write about. It’s been kind of boring. Our training begins at 9am, then we have lunch at the foodcourt at Marina Square. I don’t need to attend the afternoon class, which is a repeat of the morning class (we can’t close the Service Centre so we split the reps into 2 groups). So I’m back at the SC in the afternoon and I do my acting SC Manager thing, checking documents, signing letters, answering their questions. This time I’m sitting outside and we have a really good time, having fun, joking with each other, getting work done. These are real nice people.

The afternoon class returns and I meet up with them to talk about any issues plus any other matters to discuss.

I have dinner at the foodcourt, as a change, the one next to the hotel, then I’m back in my room by around 7.30 – 8pm. Shower, TV, Powerbook. That’s my day.

Tomorrow we have a demo to the rest of the regional team, 8am start. But it’s fine.

Still more than a week to go, work-wise it’s fine here, finer than fine. But we talked on the phone today for a short time, and now I feel lonely again. Sigh.