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More Stories from Singapore

Nothing particularly earth-shattering in this post.

As mentioned previous, I bought some sandals. I only worn them to university for one day, because the straps were painfully wearing away my skin. Is this normal for sandals? I don't think I've worn them since I was 10 or so. Is it just because I bought cheap ones, or because the skin on the top of my feet isn't calloused enough, or do sandals just have a painful "wear-in" period?

I want cheese. Real cheese, not the plasticy stuff. I know, I've been told where to look for it (Cold Storage, Marketplace, Carre Four), but I haven't had any time. And I don't expect to find the time until after April 17. :(

On a more positive note, I was complaining about the lack of pizza to my project members, and one of them suggested the Munchy Monkey. I think it's a student pub or something; it's a bit classier than the normal food places on campus. But it did indeed have pizza! S$ 7.00 for a small pizza. Compared to the S$ 2 or S$ 2.50 that a normal Chinese meal costs this may seem like a lot, but it's definitely worth it to me! Besides, I doubt I could find a similar pizza in Canada for CDN$ 6.00. This easily doubles the attractiveness of NUS.

I tried running around Jurong lake last week -- this is the lake that's right beside my house. Unfortunately, the street at the south side of the lake doesn't have any pedestrian access -- no sidewalks, no causeways, etc. So I had to turn around and home, dispirited. I mean, it's one thing to force yourself to jog around a specific area (such as a lake); it's another thing to force yourself to jog just for the sake of jogging. I don't know if I'll try jogging again in Singapore.

Singapore websites are quite unfriendly. Lots of javascript and flash, which means that 1) they're slow to download, 2) they're slow to render on a low-powered machine like this laptop, and 3) they often simply don't work in a standard-compliant web-browser.

I need to get a book about Chinese humor or something, because nobody here understands my jokes. For example, there's a Chinese folk / children's song called "Dance of Youth". I started calling it "Dance of Wolves", since they sound a bit familiar. Then I tried calling it "Silence of the Lambs", and everybody just stared at me with stone-cold faces. People back in Vancouver would understand! ... ok, maybe not "people", but at least my brother would get that one.

My attempted pop culture references also fail. I started talking about creating one monolithic application instead of having a dozen individual applications, and they asked what "monolithic" was. I tried to explain what a monolith was ("remember that huge black stone at the beginning of 2001? ... you know, that really famous space movie...?") and had an epic fail. "Do you mean star wars?"

Of course, it's my fault for trying to jazz things up. I also find myself using common English phrases -- "putting the cart before the ox", "my bark is worse than my bite", etc. I don't know why; it's just part of my instinctive "I should act this way in this situation". I mean, nothing says that instincts are always right, but unless I have any particular reason to doubt them, I act on them. I mean, that's what instincts are, eh?

This week's English mini-paper was about computer-assisted composition and classical musicians: Fixing the Unfriendliness of Classical Music. Can you find the pattern of mistakes?

Videos finally online

Nobody[1] really understands what I'm doing[2] when I talk about turning ipods into musical instruments, so here's two videos of us playing Twinkle. Yeah, I'm being true to my Suzuki roots.

[1] Nobody other than people in the MISTIC lab at UVic.
[2] Mao, I sound like a teenager.

We actually made the video so that we could give school administrators and parents an idea of what we want to do with their kids, but I figured that I'd jump on this opportunity. Oh, I made a joke yesterday about wearing good clothes for the video, but I completely forgot about it myself this morning. Not that my "Vancouver" t-shirt is horrible (... other than this being the t-shirt that's leaking blue dye over all my shirts when I was them. I should have used non-color-safe washing powder back at home, to get it all out before I came here. Or maybe I should just stop washing all my clothes in the same load... it doesn't look too bad on previously-white t-shirts, but my now-light-blue socks might seem a bit weird).

Also, the mix of instruments is terrible. You kind-of need to use your imagination for the melody, and one of the drum noises is way too loud.

Still, we've got more important things to work on at the moment, so this is what you get.
Twinkle version 1 Twinkle version 2

Holy Mao, it's a lizard!

I just got back from the bathroom (no, don't worry, I'm not turning this into twitter), where I had a huge shock (ok, that sounds even worse). As I lifted up the hand-towel to dry my hands, a lizard shot up the wall from behind the towel!

It was about 5cm long (including tail), and pale brown. And it was fast. It moved about 30cm before I let out my gasp and jumped backwards. Ok, granted I was too startled to react instantly... but it was fast. I think I could beat it if we were running 10 meters or more, but its acceleration was amazing. And it was quite at home running sideways along a wall.

This is the first time (that I recall) that I've seen a lizard in real life. And I'm on the 8th floor! I wouldn't freak out if I saw one in the jungle, in the park bathroom (they're quite open, I guess to allow breezes through), or at NUS (where there's jungle mixed with corridors. But I didn't expect to see one after midnight in my apartment! Moths, sure, but not a lizard!