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Questions Answered 1

I'm going to answer a bunch of emailed questions in this blog post, under the time-honoured teacher theory that if one person asks a question, 10 more were thinking it.

Singapore has an extensive public transit system. The main backbone is the MRT (Mass Rapid Transit), which is a mostly-above-ground subway. There's a single prepaid card you use for both the MRT and busses, which makes travel very convenient. You tap the card when you enter and exit, and you're charged based on the number of stops you travelled. I haven't seen any car rental places, but there's lots of taxis around. Getting to NUS involve 10 minutes on the MRT and 15 minutes on a bus.

Singapore food portions tend to be smaller than Canadian ones, so I'm generally hungry even with 3 meals a day. That's not necessarily a bad thing -- it makes the food I do eat seem much more tasty. For example, the best pasta I've ever had in my life was S$2.00 (or about CDN$1.80 and US$1.60 -- I got the exchange rate the wrong way around in the last post).

I'm using my eee strictly for personal business. Some days I don't even bring it to NUS, although luckily I brought it today (I'm in a seminar which just had two Chinese speakers). I only turn on the windows computer when I need to proofread somebody else's papers. So most of my life is spent on the Mac Mini running OSX 10.5.

The research group has 15 people. I think there's approximately 3 undergrads (NUS has undergrads doing significant research -- the speaker just now said it was a full year of undergraduate research, which seems incredibly high). Maybe something like 3 Masters students, 6 PhD students, 3 PostDoc / Research Assistants... plus the professor. Ok, subtract 1 from one of the above numbers. Other than me, everybody is Chinese or Singaporean with Chinese ancestry.

The violin in the lab was bought a few years ago, and had sensors put on it. They hired a few musicians to play it, while they videotaped it and did bow-tracking or something like that.

The mobile device orchestra will of course be videotaped. I'll try to get it posted online, but at the very minimum I'm sure I can bring a copy back to Vancouver.

The proofreading was proofing other people's papers. I can communicate fairly easily with people in the group, but even the best English speakers here do things like writing "for buffering mechanism". (either missing an "a" or an "s")

The apartment has a rice cooker, kettle, and a hot plate. I've found a local supermarket and a "mini-mart". I haven't bought anything yet, and I'm not certain if I'll bother. I mean, eating out is so cheap, and has no hassle of cooking or cleaning up. This was in the local mall, which had other stores at well.

Weather is a mixture of sun and cloud, and probably constant between 25 and 30. The past few days have felt a lot better than the first few days, but I'm not certain whether that's due to me wearing shorts and white t-shirts, getting used to the climate, or any actual change in temperature. I saw two brief (less than 1 minute) rain showers, but no real rain yet.