Monday, March 28, 2005

Pronunciation Perplexities

I can't even remember the topic of our conversation, but I started talking about a sword.

"A what?" asked the lecturer.

"A sword."

Some of you might know that "sword" is supposed to be pronounced as "sord", with the "w" silent. So that was how I pronounced it.

"Sword", I repeated, with the "w" silent.

He still looked puzzled.

"Sword, as in S-W-O-R-D." For some reason I couldn't get myself to pronounce it wrongly.

"Oh sWord!" he said with special emphasis on the the "w", as if I were a kindergarten kid.

I wasn't in the mood of correcting him, so I left it as that.

But, I don't blame him, since there was a time when I didn't know how to pronounce that word, and someone had to correct me. And I'm glad that I was corrected early.

Anyway, a few weeks later, me and another girl were chatting with another lecturer.

Lecturer (with a slight British accent): I'm an anglophile. I pronounce the British way.

Girl: Oh I follow the British pronounciation too!

Me: It's "proNUNciation", not p"roNOUNciation". N-U-N, not N-O-U-N. "ProNOUNce", but "proNUNciation".

Girl gives me the who-do-you-think-you-are glare.

Lecturer: He's right actually.

Girl: Oh?

Me (trying to suppress my smartass grin): Ahem of course!

Lecturer: So how do you pronounce H-E-R-B?

I know some people pronounce it without the "h" sound, but I'm not sure which is the British way, so I keep my mouth shut.

Girl: "Erb"? ["herb" with "h" silent]

Lecturer: That's American; the British pronounce it "herb", with the "h" sound.

Me: Well that's how I pronounce it...

Girl: Uh okay.

So it's my turn now.

Me: So how do you pronounce T-H-E-I-R?

Girl: "Thiar"? [pronounced the Singaporean way]

Lecturer: It's "there" ["their" pronounced rightly] - sounds EXACTLY like T-H-E-R-E.

This lecturer knows his stuff.

Girl (looking unconvinced): Is it?

Me: Yup. Look it up yourself.

Me (to lecturer): Since you're the anglophile, how do you pronounce W-R-A-T-H?

Lecturer (after a suspicious pause): So how do you do it?

Smart guy - he knows that there's something fishy going on.

Me: "Roth". The "a" sounds like an "o". But I sometimes just do it the Singaporean way, because I usually get funny looks if I pronouce it "roth", because it's quite obscure.

Unfortunately that was all the time we had - I would have loved to continue with the discussion, because I'm sure I pronounce many words wrong, or I don't know whether I'm using the British or American pronunciation.

Part of the reason for my confusion is my exposure to different English sources. I grew up on BBC World Service radio, but there was always the steady stream of American influence from music and television. In school, the official pronunciation was supposed to be British, but many of the teachers were just as mixed up. And then of course, you have the Singlish influence, which is in turn influenced by the local tongues.

But because I was rather obsessed in pronouncing words right, whenever I heard someone of authority pronounce a word differently, I would look up the pronunciation in a British dictionary. That was how I learnt that words like "wrath" and "sample" were pronounced differently by the Brits.

These days, I'm become rather confused. With the ease of looking up words on the internet with American sites like dictionary.com, or the even-better answers.com (a very fast site which allows me to listen to the pronunciation), and with no viable British counterpart (it's too bad that the authoritative Oxford English Dictionary requires paid subscription), I'm getting even more Americanized. And that's not even mentioning the amount of audio data coming from American websites. I don't even want to get started about British vs American spelling.

I also learnt as an early teen to be more humble (yes I still have much to learn), not to be too smug and insist that I'm right if I hadn't looked the word up. I will never forget how I insisted on "proNOUNciation" even after a friend tried to correct me many times, and I finally had to eat the supersized humble pie when she shoved the dictionary entry in my face.

But really...

What's the whole point of pronouncing words correctly? Is it a signal to others showing that I'm erudite and have reached a certain level of linguistic attainment? Does it give me a reason to feel superior?

Or is right pronunciation really meant to facilitate communication, so that others can understand me better? I mean, isn't that what language is all about - human communication?

And if pronouncing a word "correctly" turns out to be a barrier to communication, if I'm not being understood because I'm using the "correct" pronunciation, shouldn't I just use the "wrong" pronunciation instead so that I can be understood?

I'm starting to think so.

The next time someone gives me a puzzled look when I pronounce "sword" with the "w" silent (and I'm not in a didactic mood), I'll just throw pronunciation-correctness to the wind and say "sWord" with gusto. And be understood.

Friday, March 25, 2005

Disgust Discussed

I was hanging out with a friend in school on a lazy Saturday afternoon and we were surfing on our respective computers when I found an interesting blog. An interesting but disgusting blog.

Yes, I know many of you were disgusted at my sexy picture. (I was going to re-post it here, but decided to be kind.)

In fact, I got many hurtful comments:
wah biang, that is chao er xin leh.
wah, i don't dare come back to your blog ever again if you keep insisting on using that picture..
arggghhhhhh.. GROSS!
-lindsey

that is disturbing.
- zhi yang

for decency's sake, please stop posting that person's pic!
- fayeth

that pic is really grotesque!
- BallofYarn

i'm scarred for life
- h3lix


Fine, the truth hurts.

Anyway, I was talking about this interesting but disgusting blog. And I wasn't referring to my own blog.

It's a blog by a guy who prefers to wear panties instead of briefs or boxers. This confirms that it's not me, even though I sometimes walk into "alternative" toilets.

One thing I noticed is that this guy seems to be normal in just about everything else. He's straight, probably of above-average intelligence, and gives thoughtful advice.

Like how to choose and buy panties:
First, you need to know what style you like. Something that looks gorgeous on a woman, may not fit comfortably on a man. [...] You probably do not want to stand alone at the lingerie section browsing through all the styles there are. The tendency is to get wierd stares from people if you hang around for too long.


He goes on to give practical advice about finding the right size. I will not quote that portion since his description on the interaction between the male genitalia with the female undergarment is too graphic.

Like their male counterparts, female undergarments need to be washed too, and discreetly:
What I do now is to wash them when I shower and wash them with my shower foam, then wash away the foam as quietly as I can. I avoid spraying directly onto the panty because the drum-like sound of water on fabric is different from water on skin, and again I want to avoid attracting attention.


Very well thought through.

But even more tricky is how to dry them:
Then I will hang the wet undergarment on a clothes peg behind my computer (which is against a wall) and let the warm wind from the fan dry it, arranging it such that it is not easily spotted if anybody comes into my room.


And don't forget the decoys:
Furthermore, I have to keep up appearances so I will wear a pair of briefs and dump them in the family laundry basket everyday, even though I spend most of my time in my panties and strings.


I was reading those snippets to my friend, and we were both amused and disgusted at the same time.

I hope you're not reading this right after your bowl of katong laksa. Maybe I should have given a warning earler. My apologies.

Anyway, our panty-wearing friend waxes philosophical:
It seems strange to any normal person on the streets to see a guy wear panties. But how often will one be able to spot that scene. Why is there such a perception that guys are only allowed to wear briefs or boxers, but underwear for girls (termed as panties) are frowned upon?


"Frowned upon" would be an understatement.

I find it disgusting.

Talking about disgust, many parents know that babies show no signs of disgust at disgusting things. In fact, nothing disgusts babies. Babies are not afraid of cockroaches or spiders, they will be happy to play with their own faeces if given the opportunity, and they are usually more curious than anything when presented with things we find disgusting.

But by the time they grow to the age of around five, they would have learnt to be disgusted at appropriately disgusting things, and in fact many of them tend to be more disgusted than necessary.

A possible explanation of disgust is that it is a learned mechanism to keep us away from potentially harmful things. Cockroaches are likely to be filthy, spiders could be poisonous, faeces are most definitely filthy.

But how about the guy who wears panties? Is he more unhygienic than other guys? I don't think so. His practice doesn't harm or hurt anyone. It's just weird, or different. But I'm weird and different too, yet no one finds me remotely disgusting (I assume).

But it feels so wrong. What he's doing feels completely wrong.

But why?

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Sexy Bloggers, Calm Bloggers

It all started with this...

Xiaxue
Yes, everyone knows who she is.


Then 2 jokers came along and did this:

Mr Brown
Mr Brown trying to be sexy

Mr Miyagi
Mr Miyagi also trying to be sexy


As you can see, some are less successful than others:

Adri
Adri who doesn't even need to try to be sexy


While I may be slightly more sexy than Mr Brown or Mr Miyagi, I have no delusions about being more sexy than Xiaxue or Adri, no matter how much pink or purple I use. And if you look at what many others have done, the results can be quite horrific. So I decided to be calm about it, and pretend nothing's happening.

But damn, someone put this comment on Mr Brown's post:

Anyhow, let me stir up shit here.. I request Calm One! Jay Chou shot!!


Just because she decided to post hers, she has to drag me down along too. What is this?

Then I get these 2 uncalled-for comments:
dude. where's your contribution to the "I'm too sexy for my blog" campaign?!
- G

I agree. I think we all wana see your "I'm too sexy for my blog" picture...quick quick post! =D
- fayeth


Sheeesh.

You people don't know what you're asking for. Don't you know that calm and sexy do not go together?

But just to convince myself, I went to the loo, the male loo, stood in front of the mirror, and tried the tongue thingy, the way Xiaxue does it...

Xiaxue

And guess what I saw?


The Sexy and Calm One
A calm and sexy blogger.

* * *


Update: For newcomers who would like to know how I got my stunning good looks, check out this post.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Comments on Comments on Comments

Yeah I've noticed.

I've been getting not a small number of comments lately. (Yes, the previous sentence is an example of a litotes).

Of course, it's nothing compared to what xiaxue sometimes gets. For example, her recent post exposing the cabsnatchers got her 239 comments, the last time I checked.

I do not hope to get that many comments. It's not so much because I don't want to get xiaxue jealous (of course it's never a good idea to offend her), but more because I won't be able to cope with that many comments.

Some weeks ago, in the comments on my post entitled "Damage Control", some rather notable bloggers made some observations.

It started with the infamous and much-hated Agagooga who commented:
You may not get that much hatemail, but you do get a lot of comments!


He's obviously jealous of me. But to get back at me, he makes a reference to hatemail, knowing that I know that he gets a hell lot of hatemail, which would in turn induce feelings of jealousy within me. Smart bastard.

In response to Agagooga's comment, Adri had this to say:
yeah, i was going to comment that err, you get a lot of comments. i'm jealous.


At least she's honest enough to admit that she's jealous. So sweet of her.

Which is quite something, because she has many more readers than I do. She even have fans and stalkers, which I don't. And there's even a lucrative market for her pictures (I'm the sole agent for NP), while nobody wants my pictures...

A few more comments down, Daniel, whose blog deserves more readers, made this comment:

and wow, I never had more than 40 comments in my blog...


To which I replied
yeah i'm getting kinda embarrassed getting so many comments - i think people like adri or agagooga should get more comments...


Weeks after switching to Haloscan's commenting system, I was looking at some of my older posts. I almost wet my pants when I saw that some of my comments had gone down to zero (scroll down to my older posts to see what I'm talking about).

Anyway I clicked on the comment link to check, and thankfully, all the comments are intact.

My pants remained dry.

Here's Haloscan's explanation:
Q: Some of my really old comment links are not showing accurate comment counts.

A: The comment count loader only retrieves the comment link counts for the last 200 comments (800 comments for premium members). Anything past that mark may show an inaccurate comment count in the link but you can still click the comment link to view all comments posted.


No wonder xiaxue doesn't use Haloscan.

The week before, a friend suggested to me that I'm getting so many comments because I only post about twice a week, so there's plenty of time for my comments to accumulate. That made sense, so I decided to release a succession of posts every day (15, 16, 17 March). But the comments kept coming...

I'm still wondering why I'm getting so many comments.

Thankfully, most of my friends are rather smart (I'd like to think that they're smart because they hang out with me, but unfortunately that's not the case), so I had this chat with one of them yesterday (lightly edited to make it more coherent):

me: was thinking of picking your brain on something...

she: oh, what?

me: why i'm getting so many comments on my blog....

me: u don't have to give me an answer now....

she: how would i know!

me: dang... i thot u could help me...

me: *sigh*

she: heh

me: i mean... i don't get it.....

me: my comments are disproportionately high.....

she: i noticed

me: maybe becos i've been responding to the comments?

she: heh

she: ;)

(what did she mean by that?)

me: i thot i had blogging all figured out...

me: u might have noticed that my last few posts came almost daily...

me: yet the comments are just as many, or even more

she: haha, dont be disturbed by it

me: not disturbed by the number of comments, just disturbed that i don't know why.

(end)

Yeah... so now you know what I'm thinking.

I guess this is not one of those things that highly-commented bloggers want to talk about. I can imagine some people telling me "why don't you just shuddup and let the comments pour in? Are you trying to make me even more jealous or what?"

Ah well. You readers are smart people - help me out with this mystery ok?

P.S. In case the post title is confusing, let me clarify it with an expanded version:
[My] Comments on [some of your] Comments on [the many] Comments [I'm getting for my posts]

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Thinking about Toilets and Tae Kwon Do

I was at the sports complex one evening when I heard nature calling.

Most of us learn early in life that when nature starts calling, you'd better do something about it soon, for when nature starts screaming, things can get quite uncomfortable.

So naturally, I went to the nearest toilet.

In a recent post, Jason Kottke talked about some "new reseach" findings:

Some new research is showing that the number of things humans can hold in our heads while solving problems is fairly small, three or four things at the most.


I kinda like his blog, but I was mildly irritated because this is hardly new research - I already knew the stuff in the article he quoted a long time back. Maybe I'm missing something.

But where was I?

Ah yes, the toilet. I must have been thinking about something else.

Anyway, my thoughts were violently violated when I turned the corner. Standing there was a girl wearing her tae kwon do uniform.

What is she doing in the gents???

For some reason, I was actually quite offended initially, and I almost wanted to say to her, "excuse me, but what are you doing here??"

But I quickly decided against it, since she probably was there by mistake, and there was no need to embarrass her, especially since she was only partially dressed. Besides, she might even think that I was the one in the wrong toilet, and may start screaming or worse, start tae-kwon-doing me. So I quietly turned back. I'll just stand outside the toilet and wait for her to finish like the true gentleman that I am *ahem*, and keep other guys from coming in.



I noticed something about the door as I was walking out.

No Pricks Allowed
No pricks allowed.


I almost died.

I scanned the area outside. Thank heavens no one was looking.

Peter and Paul
Except Peter and Paul, but they're ok.


I quickly dived into the other door.

The Ying and the Yang
The ying and the yang.


I think I should think less the next time nature calls.

P.S. No, I don't think it has anything to do with my feminine side calling me home (to the toilet). Remember, I am 110% male.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Happy Birthday

I'm reading a book after dinner at canteen 1 when I notice a flickering light from the next table, like someone lighting a cigarette.

It turns out that a girl is lighting the 2 candles on a cake, while her boyfriend looks on.

I suspect that that cake is too big for the couple.

When the candles are lit, the girl sings "happy birthday", while her boyfriend looks on.

He blows out the flames.

The girl removes the candles, cuts a piece from the cake, and serves the boyfriend. Then she walks away.

She comes back with a styrofoam food box, and packs the remainder of the cake into the box, while her boyfriend eats the cake.

From where I'm sitting, I can only observe the boyfriend's face. He doesn't look happy at all.

They leave the canteen after they are both done.

Happy birthday.

The words we often say without meaning.

Happy birthday.

The words we often write without thinking.

Happy birthday.

The words we often sing without feeling.

Happy birthday.

Empty words.

* * *

Warning: rambling below.


I've often wondered why we celebrate birthdays.

Just because we were born on a certain date, and the earth completes an orbit round the sun and it's cause for celebration? What if I'm born on a moon colony - do I celebrate every time we go round the earth or the sun? Or what if I'm born on a Pluto colony - does it mean I don't get to celebrate my birthday, since I'd be long gone before Pluto completes an orbit?

And why birthday anyway? Being born is nothing more than coming out of my mother's womb - which is really not that much different from coming out of, say, a lecture theatre. Conceptionday makes a bit more sense to me - that's the day when dad's sperm joins with mom's egg, the day when I am conceived and conceivable.

Maybe my parents prefer to forget the circumstances that led to my conception. How would I feel if they told me that I was the result of some activity in the backseats of Lido? Or perhaps in a bird sanctuary at East Coast park? Or maybe they really didn't know which place it was?

And why happy birthday? Must I be happy on my birthday? Wouldn't it be more interesting if, every now and then, someone wishes me a "sad birthday", "depressing birthday", "you-think-your-birthday-very-great-is-it birthday"?

Stress does wonders to my mind.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Thoughts on Tests

Surfing around different blogs the last couple of days, I noticed that quite a few bloggers have taken this "What Gender Is Your Brain?" test.

Respectable bloggers do not take such silly tests. (Even if they did, they wouldn't be caught displaying such frivolity on their blogs.) Think for a moment - when was the last time you saw something like this appear on mr brown's blog? Never. Or a respectable blog like mine? (Okay I did one before, but that was reeeaaallly long ago, so it doesn't count.)

But exceptional circumstances require exceptional responses.

I'm talking about my recent whimsical post, which for some strange reason seemed to have resonated particularly well with the female readers, which made me particularly uncomfortable.

The final sting came from a seemingly-casual remark by Agagooga, who asked

Why all girls here ah


Of course he knew that it wasn't all girls, but sneaking beneath that innocent-sounding question was really an insiduous attack on my masculinity.

Exceptional circumstances require exceptional responses.

What better way to prove the degree of my manhood than to take that "What Gender Is Your Brain?" test, especially since Singapore is such a numbers-oriented society, where everything is measured, quantified, and ranked, and without which no one will believe your quality?

Besides, exams will be starting at Ngee Ann in a few short weeks - what better time is there to attempt a couple of tests?

Okay, enough excuses, let's get on with the test.

I won't bore you with the questions, or how I answered them, but here are the results:





Your Brain is 46.67% Female, 53.33% Male



Your brain is a healthy mix of male and female

You are both sensitive and savvy

Rational and reasonable, you tend to keep level headed

But you also tend to wear your heart on your sleeve


This is pure, unadulterated BS of the highest grade!

Anyway, education experts know that tests, even multiple-choice ones, have fundamental flaws and lack objectivity, despite what most people mistakenly believe. This is an excellent example of a flawed and badly-designed test, where the cultural and psychological biases of the test designer based on certain gender stereotypes has resulted in an inaccurate test result.

The above result can thus be safely discarded.

Thankfully, there's something called a retest. Of course, I'll have to change some of the answers to offset the inherent bias of the test.





Your Brain is 33.33% Female, 66.67% Male



You have a total boy brain

Logical and detailed, you tend to look at the facts

And while your emotions do sway you sometimes...

You never like to get feelings too involved


I AM NOT ONE-THIRD FEMALE!!!







Your Brain is -10% Female, 110% Male



You have an absolute boy brain

Logical and detailed, you always look at the facts

You have not emotions or feelings.

You must be the Calm One!


Perfect. A little HTML knowledge can be useful in exceptional circumstances.

* * *

Still somewhat agitated by the results of the test, my eyes caught another one on the same site. "How Logical Are You?"

Of course I already know the answer; there's really no need to take the test to convince myself that I'm 100% logical.

But I do have a bit of time on my hands.

Besides, it's gonna be so easy, so it wouldn't take long.

And I can see how well-designed the test is - maybe it will have less bias than the previous test.


Well, the test was slightly more difficult than I expected - I actually had to think. And I needed to get 100%.





You Are Incredibly Logical





(You got 88% of the questions right)





Move over Spock - you're the new master of logic

You think rationally, clearly, and quickly.

A seasoned problem solver, your mind is like a computer!


Ptui!

I think I got distracted during the test. Retest!


It took me a while to find the offending question. It was really quite an easy question.





You Are Incredibly Logical





(You got 100% of the questions right)





Move over Spock - you're the new master of logic

You think rationally, clearly, and quickly.

A seasoned problem solver, your mind is like a computer!


You see, even if a test is well-designed, it is probably still not objective, because the test-taker may not be feeling well at that moment, or may have been distracted by various environmental factors, such as temperature and humidity levels, intensity of lighting, ah lians walking by - the possibilities are endless.

Thus my first result for this test is invalid. The second one reflects reality more accurately. And I didn't even touch the HTML!

* * *

The problem with such tests is that they can get rather seductive.

Especially when my eyes landed on "What Is Your Seduction Style?"

Very funny. I don't seduce people, so no harm trying out the test.





Your Seduction Style: The Natural





You don't really try to seduce people... it just seems to happen.
Fun loving and free spirited, you bring out the inner child in people.
You are spontaneous, sincere, and unpretentious - a hard combo to find!
People drop their guard around you, and find themselves falling fast.


*Sigh* If only it was true.

I'm tired of these tests.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Scam Baiting - Final

I got pretty tired of my half-hearted attempt at scam baiting, but a few of you were curious about the outcome.

For those of you who didn't follow the whole episode, here's a quick recap:
Part 1: I got this scam spam from a certain Mark Ncube asking me to participate in this great business deal. He asked for my number, while I asked for his picture.
Part 2: He insists on getting my number, while I confess my love for him while insisting on his (nude) picture.
Part 3: Mark turns out to be shy, so I send him my nude picture (tubgirl), and await his reply.

So here's part 4, the final episode.

* * *

A number of days after sending him my picture, Mark finally sends me a reply.

Dear My love Calm one,
Thanks for nice nude picture, here is mine also, please dont show it to anyother person, as i told you that am very shy, but dueto the love i have on you makes me to do so.

Thanks and hoping to hear from you soon.
Mark.


He attached a picture. Unfortunately, since Mark asked me not to show his picture to anyone, I have to respect his privacy and not post his picture here. An unsatisfying description will have to suffice.

Attached was a picture of a dark-skinned person. But only part of the legs were shown - the inner thighs actually - as well as the area where the legs meet. Somehow the genital configuration is quite different from mine, with some items missing. I shall say no more.

Needless to say, I was most disappointed.

Mark,

You are very ugly!!!
I don't like you anymore.
I am very sad and angry.
Don't email me ever again!

Calmone



So that's the end of the whole story.

* * *

Just a couple of days back, I saw this title in my Inbox:

URGENT AND CONFIDENTIAL


I heaved out a sigh. Yet another scammer. For some reason, I decided to open it.


I humbly crave your indulgence in sending you this mail, if the contents does not meet with your personal and business ethics, I apologise in advance, I am Mark Ncube the first Son of Mr Solomon.D.Ncube former national security advicer to the ousted Sierria Leonean military head of state, Paul Koroma.I am writing to express my interest in real estate or landed properties in your country. Though my father died in detention a couple of months ago while been detained by the new government. Before his untimely death, he instructed me to leave the country for my safety and start up a business somewhere out side Africa with a total sum of
USD7.300.000 ( Seven million three hundred thousand United States Dollars) which he deposited in a Security Company here in Bangkok Thailand.

Actually, I have never met you before, but it was a friend of my father who happened to be present at his bural that adviced me to consider your country for my investments. After due
consideration, I started searching the web side where I got your email address. No one else is
aware of my proposal to you.Due to social, economic and political instability in west African
region, I decided to seek your assistance in transfering this money into your private or institutional account for my investment purposes.I have all the vital documents that covers the deposit which could be faxed to you upon request. Transaction of this nature demands the
highest trust and confidence between both parties. This transaction is 100% risk
free. For your assistance in this transfer, I have decided to give 20% of the total sum involved and 5% mapped out for miscellaneous expenses that we may incure during the process.
Your acceptance of this proposal or otherwise should please be communicated through my E.MAIL address. Your quick response will be appreciated. However, if you are not disposed to assist, kindly distroy this letter to protect the identity and confidentiality of the
parties involved.

I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Thanks.
Yours Sincerely,
Mark Ncube.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

I Love Reading; Life Is Random

I love reading. Even those who don't know me too well know that I'm a slightly neurotic bookworm. My friends know that wherever I go, inside the bag I'm carrying will be a book. Or two. Or more.

Unfortunately, I don't have the time to read as much as I would like to, so I often have to grab whatever opportunity there is to read - while waiting for friends, waiting for the MRT, or riding in the bus.

But the bus isn't always the best place to read, especially when you have to stand. So the other thing I like to do on the bus is observing people - adorable three year-olds whom I sneak faces at when their parents are not looking, filthy coin-in-the-ear old men with wild hair and wild eyes I will not look into, young and pretty girls who are perpetually late for school. I always have the most fun with the first group, but it's nice to observe the last group too, for very different reasons.

I noticed a pretty girl on the bus to school one day. When I stood beside where she was sitting, I could tell from the notes she was reading that she was also from Ngee Ann. But what caught my eye was not her notes, nor her pretty face. It was the obvious fact that she was pregnant, probably already in her third trimester. I wondered if she was ready for motherhood.

A few weeks later, as I walked from canteen 2 after lunch, I saw another pretty girl. No, she wasn't pregnant. Not anymore at least, since she was pushing a pram with a baby sleeping inside. I wanted to stop to admire the baby as the girl approached, but I didn't.

But I adore kids. I love to squat down beside the five-year-old and get busy poking the soil with her. I love to explore the underground labyrinth of the neighborhood drainage system with the adventurous 12-year-old. I love to stump the intelligent and articulate 10-year-old as I ask her the strangest questions. I love to carry the two-year-old in my arms, as I introduce him to the world of texture, letting him feel a leaf, a screw, an uneven wall, a leather surface - anything that we can get our hands on. I love to watch the fascinated face of the seven-year-old as she gets transported to another land as I read Cinderella with full expression.

Even without the seven-year-old, I often read aloud when I'm at home, just for practise. I've always had a tendency to mumble and stumble over the easiest words, especially after too many days of not talking very much, so I find that reading out loud helps to loosen my tongue a little. Of course, that's not the primary reason for reading. I read because

I love reading.

* * *

This has got to be my weirdest and most whimsical post yet. I don't even know if I like it.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Presentation Presumptions

A girl stood erect as her classmate smoothed out the shoulders of her tight long-sleeved shirt, before coaxing the collar straight. When that was over, she returned the favour to the classmate who was also dressed in a white pin-striped shirt, tight black skirt with a teasing slit revealing a slice of thigh in light stockings leading down to the stealthy stilettos. When they were finally done, the two girls mirrored each other and beamed, completely oblivious to the canteen crowd, or at least acting like they were oblivious, before turning to pick up their leather handbags, fluttering their mascara-marinated eyelashes at anyone still looking, and sashaying away, just like the way they do on Shenton Way.

Or the 3 loud-talking Ah Bengs swaggering down the corridor in what was meant to be smart and formal attire, yet still looking every bit Beng, even before a (Hokkien) word was uttered. Was it because their shirts were crimson, purple and violet respectively? Or the way they rolled their sleeves? Or how they walked? Or their hair? Or facial features? Or just the whole convergence of dressing and being that screams Beng?

When the Ah Bengs of Ngee Ann Poly start dressing like their Ah Beng sales assistant counterparts of Ngee Ann City, you know that it's the presentation period over here.

This period is the dreaded few weeks a few weeks before the also-dreaded exam period, and pockets of students all over the campus wear their Shenton Way best to face their already-familiar classmates and lecturers, yet be nerve-wreckingly nervous about it.

Others see it as an opportunity to do well, in any and every possible way. Like this friend of mine...

"I'm gonna wear low-cut and a short skirt tomorrow for the presentation."

"For what?" I asked casually, trying to control the urge to arch my eyebrows.

"So Mr C*** will give me more marks," she explained matter-of-factly.

"How many marks do they give you for your dressing? Or the lack of it?" I may have controlled my eyebrows successfully, but my sarcasm was slipping out.

"You know lah... Mr C***... he's that kind lor..." she replied with an air of resignation.

"And you're still going to reveal yourself to him?"

"Aiyah... if I can get more marks, why not?"

"You really think he'll give you more marks for that? I think you'll just end up giving him a free show."

"Then too bad lor..."

Knowing her, I think she just wanted an excuse to wear only the necessities, so I didn't bother to reason with her any further.

But it is my belief that in most cases, the audience does not really care so much about how you dress during your presentation (as long as it's not distracting), especially if your presentation is great. I'd always prefer an engaging presenter who happens to dress badly to an immaculately-dressed one who induces sleep. (I'm talking about male presenters; there may be exceptions for female presenters.)

So yesterday, I did a presentation wearing a T-shirt.

It turned out fine.

Monday, March 07, 2005

I Am Sorry!

This entry is related to my last two posts.

* * *

I was on the bus when I felt like someone was looking at me. You know that feeling? Anyway, when I looked up, there was this butch staring at me. Okay she was looking at me, or at least in my direction, but I suspect that she was staring straight at me. With a lot of strong and not-so-loving feelings.

I quickly looked away. I'm not about to test the validity of that "hell hath no fury" saying.

Thankfully we went in different directions after we reached school. Well actually she got off before me (thankfully), and I chose to go a different direction.

I think I'm turning into a paranoid hominoid.

Which reminds me...

I'll be going to SMU later in the afternoon to attend some talk.

Wish me luck.

* * *

I hereby publicly and unreservedly apologise to anyone and everyone from the Singapore Management University whom I have offended in any way through my blog.

I beg for your forgiveness.


Note: The above apology expires after 1800hrs today.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Damage Control

Thanks to my one-sided reporting in my last post ("Girls Kicking Balls"), I'm getting a bit of flak, and even HATE MAIL!!!

If you've been following my blog, you'd know how much I love hate mail, and how hard I've been trying to get hate mail.

And how I wasn't that successful.

The irony is, just when I wasn't thinking about getting hatemail, it comes.

Moral of the story: you don't have to try to get people to hate you; people will hate you anyway.

But back to the hatemail.

Tada!

your a f***ed up piece of s***

- Anonymous


Unfortunately, due to the family-unfriendly language used, I have to asterisk out the strong language.

But can you feel the outrage? the fury?

Notice the first word used, your. Ms Anonymous (I'm assuming a female this time) was so incensed that proper English grammar was hurled out of the window. Ms Anonymous, it's supposed to be you're instead of your, because you really meant you are, and you're is a contraction of you are. You've made a common error of using a homonym of the correct word, instead of the correct word itself. I hope that helps.

With the hate mail properly taken care of, let me deal with the more legitimate comments from the SMU players themselves.

Hey there are no butches on our team! Just a couple of girls with short hair. NO BUTCHES!

You know why none of us ripped off our tops? We badly wanted to, but we had no excuse to. Not a single goal scored in the whole tournament = no chance to do topless jigs.

SMU Girl (I'm the ditzy one, in no way representative of my club)

- Joyce


And here's my panicky reply:

die lar - they're actually reading this.

joyce: my profuse apologies about the butch statement. i couldn't tell who was the ditzy one. what number was your jersey?

and i should have cheered for SMU much harder. *sigh*

- calm one


Later on, another SMU player comment came in:

hey.. thanks for your comment on the goal kick. it was taken by yours truly. i was definitely taking it as hard as i could. have no idea why my fellow school mate says we can act well. maybe it's just the people he/she mixes with. which is quite sad i must say. anyway, your comment will definitely push me to train even harder to execute proper goal kicks! DEFINITELY!! thank you.

by the way, you might not think the smu gals played well. but i dont really care what you think. we know whether we tried our best and i think that's more impt than anything else.

would also like to add that there are women teams out there who can play. it's just that they are not given as much attention as guys. just becoz you dont see them, doesnt mean they dont exist.

- sharon


Cool.

Actually I did acknowledge that there were good women's teams in my comment reply to amanda:

amanda: the US national women's soccer team can really kick ass. i mean kick ball. (they also rip off their jerseys when they score.) so not all women are bad at soccer


But, as mentioned in the beginning of this post, my coverage was selective and thus not very balanced. So the purpose of this post is to balance things up a little in an attempt to be fair to the players, as well as to ensure that I can walk the streets of Singapore without fear again.

Let's come back to a comment by sharon which I haven't addressed:

by the way, you might not think the smu gals played well. but i dont really care what you think. we know whether we tried our best and i think that's more impt than anything else.


Well, I can't say that the SMU players played well, because I think they didn't. But neither did the NP players.

But I did notice that the SMU girls played with a lot of heart (ok, so did the NP side). I did look into their faces when the game ended, and I saw the downcast and despondent looks of disappointment. And one girl was even in tears.

As they always say - it's not about the winning.

As someone who's been involved in competitive sports, I know how it feels to lose. And I think I've lost more than I've won, at least in tournaments. I've felt the pain, the urge to shed tears in disappointment, even though, stepping back, I knew it made no sense; it's only a game. But the emotions during those times can be strong, and they take over the mind...

I'm rambling.

Maybe it's because I'm not used to blogging in the middle of the night.

Girls, keep playing, no matter what others say.

And have fun!

(And don't kick me!)