Monday, January 26, 2009

New Year's Eve 乙丑年

First of all, we should just put the topic of spring cleaning aside.

I began the day with a round of prayers to ancestors. Luckily, everyone that we needed to pray to were all happily clustered together in Nee Soon Columbarium. My maternal grandfather is actually in Lim Chu Kang, but when my maternal grandmother passed away, they had his name inscribed on the tablet in Nee Soon Columbarium as well in preparation of when his grave will be exhumed. So we ended up just offering prayers to him there as well.

It's quite a gathering. My paternal grandfather, his parents, my maternal grandparents (and my uncle on my mum's side, if you hadn't heard the story) and my mum's maternal grandmother.

7 people, so although they were all in the same columbarium, it still took a while because they were in 3 spots in the same columbarium and we had to go round setting up 3 times.

After offering prayers to our ancestors, got back home and did my usual new year's eve clothes shopping.

Bought 2 pairs of jeans at $12.90 and 9.90 each. A microfibre shirt at $8.90. 3 Baleno polo shirts at $25 (the cutting is a lil off). A pair of islander slippers at $14.95. Not a bad haul for this year. All within $100.

Reunion dinner at home is usually steamboat and food we used for prayers that morning. This year we didn't have the steamboat but the food hanging around for us to eat was still alot. Dinner consisted of:

Braised duck
Soup with sotong ball, fishball,some vege and quail eggs.
Tofu fried with leek

Burp! The duck was yummy and I was happily whacking away at the eggs and sotong balls. We've never eaten outside for reunion dinner and especially after the fiasco where one guy who works in a hotel's kitchen called into a radio station and described how they handled festive meals.

One of the examples that stick in my mind was that they salvaged lobster shells from the bin and then fill it in with some meat to serve up. Anyway, I guess when people are really busy, things happen.

Ooooh what is a reunion dinner without an Ang Bao?

After dinner, my father actually wanted to go to Loyang Tua Pek Gong to watch the fireworks, but he fell asleep till about 0010hrs. In the end, we set off for Loyang Tua Pek Gong at about 0030hrs. It was really crowded but I think the crowd has already thinned out since it was past the fireworks.

Incidentally, I'd just like to point out that 初一 does not arrive at midnight. It had arrived at 2330hrs.

Chinese timekeeping states that the new day starts at 子时, which is actually 2300hrs. So you can actually say that a new day has started at 2300hrs. However, if you are obssessed with punctuality, you can further say that in Singapore, a new day arrives at 2330hrs because we had previously adjusted our clocks to match Malaysia's time.

Now you can be a little bit more smart ass too!

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Saturday, January 24, 2009

Mani Pedi. Plan Fail.

So my friend had booked an appointment at this new mani pedi place. We turned up for the appointment and the first thing I noticed was that the basin for soaking feet didn't look exactly clean. It still had residue from the previous soaking in it. Although it was only the soaking salts (I hope so!), it proves that no rinsing was done to even minimally clean the basin.

Well, maybe they are too busy.

Turns out that there was only one person working the joint. She had to scoot out to the washroom before starting on us. My friend commented that since there was only one person there, she was daring to accept 2 bookings at once. I replied that it's to earn as much money as possible. I figured that with careful planning, they probably could pull off having only one person work on 2 customers at once.

You know, stuff like start soaking customer A's feet, then while it is soaking, start soaking customer's feet. That sort of thing.

As she started on my friend's feet, another customer walked in. I think she was in for a touch up as the nail tech got the colour album from me and passed it to the walk in. She worked on getting the colours off my friend's toenails till the walk in chose her colours. She then worked on the walk in and I was extremely bored, regretting that I had not brought my DS along.

I thought that she would do the work in stages or stuff like that but she didn't even let my feet soak while she worked on my friend's feet. She didn't even let my friend's feet soak before starting to work on hers so I figure this was some bad planning.

So I waited as she seemed to plan to complete my friend's pedicure at one shot. I started thinking about how long this was going to take since we were going to do both manicure and pedicure. This could take like 3 hours man.

40 mins on, I had to go to the toilet. I was bored and pissed, literally. After I got back, I told my friend that I didn't want to do the mani pedi anymore. It's one and a half days to New Year and I don't have the sort of luxury to squat around being bored while I have other stuff to do. As well, I like the experience of doing a mani pedi... and not a rush job that this one is looking to be. Feels more like an express mani pedi, rather than a classic mani pedi.

She needs to get her workflow sorted out. To people like me, it's not about getting colours on the nails.

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Thursday, January 22, 2009

7 hours of Japanese a Week.

So, this is my second week of "7 hours of Japanese a Week". Due to work constraints I've had to take cab to classes twice this week. Monday and today.

My Japanese language classes take place on Monday, Wednesday and Thursdays. I've already learnt to appreciate Tuesday when I have no classes.

I'm currently learning japanese at 2 places. Monday and Wednesday, I am at JCS. Thursday I am at Bunka. Quite a few people have asked me about the differences at these two places so far, but I find that it is probably too early on to make a comparison.

Right now, the main difference is that at Bunka, they have taught the 6 forms of verbs, whereas JCS is more conventional by teaching greeting phrases and sentence structure such as "Noun 1 は Noun 2 です". The learning curve at Bunka is probably steeper in comparison.

I'm planning to take the JLPT 3 examinations at the end of this year. Next year, they will be changing to a new system where there is a new level inserted between the current JLPT 3 and JLPT 2. It has been said by many people that the gap between JLPT 3 and 2 is very wide, so this is probably to addres that.

The current structure is JLPT 4, 3 2, 1
The new structure is JLPT N5, N4, N3, N2, N1

JLPT N5 and N4 is the same as JLPT 4 and 3 respectively. N3 is the new level inserted between the current JLPT 3 and 2. JLPT N2 will be the same as the current JLPT 2. JLPT N1 will be slightly harder then JLPT 1.

I heard that JLPT 1 is so difficult, even Japanese can fail it. And they want to make it harder??

I'm considering going strating to JLPT N2 next year, effectively skipping N3 but essentially going the same route as the current system by going from JLPT 3 to 2. However, I'm concerned that it might be too difficult. Well, I guess we should worry about that next year. This year I should focus on JLPT 3.

In other news, yesterday in class, I overheard the two boys who were seated in front of me discussing a Taiwan trip. One of them brought out a Taiwan guide book and I believe they were trying to figure out the areas in Taiwan.

As you should know, Taiwan has areas called Taibei (台北) and Tainan (台南). So there they were looking at a listing for Northern Taiwan when one of them said "That's Taibei (台北) right?"

"No no, that's not Taibei (台北). That's Tainan (台南)"

"You sure?"


"Or maybe Taidong (台东)"

They flip a page and see Western Taiwan.

"Oh. That's Taidong (台东)."

I go -.-'

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Monday, January 12, 2009

Language Class Age Groups

I blogged about this somewhat previously. So far, my assumptions are looking correct.

When I first took the Beginner Korean language class at Lingo (I don't actually recommend it unless you just want to learn language casually) my friend mentioned how the class was rather mature. Actually she said "So many aunties?"

I told her it was correct, since most people would be learning Korean because of Korean Drama and specifically Bae Yong Jun, so this would usually be the '30+ group'. She didn't really believe my statement till the teacher asked us why we wanted to learn Korean.

Out of the 6 people that she felt belonged in the auntie group, all 6 were learning because of Korean drama. If only I can tell the 6 numbers in the next Toto draw.

I also later mentioned to another friend, who was on the quest to find a girlfriend, that he could try attending language classes to get to know girls. Top language of choice if you like a mature girl would be Korean. If you like girls who are 18-24, take Japanese.

At my second lesson in Bunka, one of the 2 guys in my class went around asking our ages. Well, I'm pretty sure I'm about the oldest in the class (I was about the youngest in the Korean class!) and we had like at least three 18 year olds, three to four 22-24 year olds and the guy who asked was 26 himself.

I really need to be able to forecast the Toto numbers!!! What good can come out of guessing age groups of language classes correctly..... Anyway, soon I shall see if my theory continues to hold true. Starting classes at JCS too!

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Sunday, January 04, 2009

Vegetarian Angst

I recently came across this display in one of the National Library branches on why Humans should be vegetarians.

Now, I'm not saying vegeterianism is bad or anything, but I feel that sometimes, they try a little to hard to convince people that humans are natural vegetarians. So hard that sometimes they feel like a cult. By all means encourage people to go for a vegetarian diet, but let's be objective about the persuasion points eh?

I'd understand those who are vegetarian due to religious reasons for being pigheaded about their opinions, but those who claim to be vegetarian for scientific reasons are acting worse! It's a cult I tell you.

Just google the web and you'll find articles upon articles substantiating why humans are natural vegetarians. If you read those articles at face value, you certainly will believe them. If you look closer, they are certainly almost always written by a vegetarian.

If you find an article saying that humans are not natural vegetarians, then that article will likely have a critique written about it, in a not very pleasant manner too.

It's kinda scary you know.

I'm a self professed meatatarian. All my friends know that I am allergic to vegetables. Ok, I'm not really allergic to vegetables but might just as well be. I thought it'd be interesting to compare some of the claims that was being displayed in one of the national library branches and see how it stacks up. I feel that the library has a responsibility to ensure that displays are of undisputed facts, and not of subjective opinion. If the information presented is not indisputable, then they should not be displaying it because it is my opinion that people will naturally accept information displayed at libraries as truth, since libraries are meant to foster learning and instill knowledge.

This is a social responsibility of the library.

Anyway, like I mentioned, I thought it'd be interesting to look up some of their claims to see how they all stack up. Before I do, I must emphasise that I am NOT advocating anyone to NOT be vegetarian and be a meatatarian. I'm just doing this for the heck of it.

Today, I will list just one point I remember from the exhibition I saw:

Humans are vegetarian because our intestines are longer then carnivores and herbivores have longer intestines then carnivores.

I looked up the comparison of intestines online. First I found the following information:

Carnivore 3 to 6 times body length
Omnivore 4 to 6 times body length
Herbivore 10 to more than 12 times body length
Human 10 to 11 times body length

In fact, if you actually google, you will find a lot of comparison of the Human GI system, teeth and other facial characteristics against carnivores and herbivores.

Ok, so many articles says the human intestine is "10 to 11 times body length" and is comparable to herbivores. However, I noticed that all such articles were written on vegetarian websites. So I got to thinking, just how long is that in numbers?

A quick google gave the following answers:

"length of the entire human intestine can range from 7.5 to 8.5 meters (25 to 28 feet)"

"average length of the human intestine can be anywhere from 6 to 8.5 meters in length depending on size and age of the person it occupies."

"The small intestine is about 20 feet long . The large intestine also varies and can is usually about 5 feet long. Yikes!"

"The small intestine is about 22 feet (7 meters) long. The large intestine is about 5 feet long.

Source: World Book Encyclopedia, vol. 10, p. 352."

So, we have a range of 6 to 8.5 meters. Now what is human body length? From the top of the head to the bottom of the feet? For this I referred to a wikipedia entry (we're not writing a scientific thesis so it should matter if I use wikipedia does it?) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_height. Running down that list, it seems that 180 cm seems to be well at the upper end of human height averages.

So I shall use 180 cm. If you take 8.5 M as the length of the intestines and divide it by the height, you will see how many times longer then the body length the intestines are.

850/180= 4.72222222222222 (ok that's enough 2s)
~4.72 times longer.

Hmm. Not 10-11 times longer?

Maybe I used a wrong denominator. How about just the length of the torso? Average torso length is bloody difficult to find online. After much scrounging, I finally found a few figures including 23 inches (58.42 cm) to 26 inches (66.04 cm). Anybody who is able to provide more figures may do so.

Using 66.04 cm, we will then see that 850/66.04 = 12.87 times.


So as you can see, all this information can really be manipulated and presented in whatever way one wishes it to be. Whether the information is indisputably the truth, remains to be seen.

I'm still meatatarian. lol.

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