Wednesday, October 5, 2011

When Practice Gets Tough

Like everything else, sometimes a practice is less satisfactory than desired. I woke up with a sore back yesterday and was trying to decide whether to rest and rehab or go to practice. Being the fitness enthusiast Ms T sent me this:
It was a sign (literally) that I should go to yoga practice. So I slapped on a Salonpas patch and went. Before the class started I tried to get a printout of my package for corporate reimbursement but this guy who was signing up took forever. So that didn't get done and I started class with admin issues on my mind. As if she could read my mind, Marlene started the class with a series of breathing exercises that helped to bring back focus and settle into practice. This was my tenth class and so far no practice has been identical. Even with the same instructor, each practice is always varied to train different parts of the body. 

The practice was especially tough for me last night because my body wasn't in the best condition. I feel like that's perhaps also true with instructors. She gave mainly verbal instructions and few demonstrations, and perhaps because I at the front of the room, I felt more vulnerable and unsure. On an ordinary day I had no trouble getting into poses just by listening but without anyone in front of me for affirmation, I was hesitant. For a second I felt that she could sense my uncertainty but did not change her pattern of instruction. In between that few poses I learned the importance of confidence and getting rid of unnecessary distractions.

This practice was tough. There is one feature in Marlene's practice - when you least expect it, she sometimes picks up pace. As I went through the sun salutations and vinyasas it required so much concentration that the only other thing that I periodically thought of was the towel. Halfway through a twist the girl beside me gave up, rolled up her mat and left.

For me I was glad that I attended the practice, partly because my sore back recovered when I woke up this morning. More importantly, it resembled life a little. Sometimes we feel good and have a great practice. Once in a while we don't feel so great because of physical, mental or emotional issues. But we try to push on and continue. Sometimes when things get too much for us, we take a break, like the girl who left. A practice, very much like life, is a process to be embraced, through all the good and bad, comfort or discomfort.

Monday, September 26, 2011




Saturday, September 24, 2011

Yoga with Chunky

I enjoy having enough space when I go to yoga sessions and it beats me why people like to lay their mats so close to me when there's plenty of space around. Especially when the guy next to me is a big guy. Having done this on and off for a number of years I have a good idea of the space required for the different poses. I suspect this big chunky gym guy didn't have a clue.

So I surreptitiously tried to adjust my mat to give us some space without looking like I'm trying to move away from him. I didn't want him to think that he smells funny or something. There was definitely going to be some arm slapping when we swan dive if we stay in that proximity.

Danger loomed from the beginning. We began the practice on our backs and extended our right legs in the air using a strap. As the instructor had us lower the leg to the left, I found myself staring at chunky's big foot, which was hanging about three feet from my face. I considered what would be the worst situation - if it landed on my face, throat or chest. Chunky started to grunt a little like he was benchpressing. You can do it! I encouraged silently and prayed that he hang on so I won't get a taste of his foot. We came out of the pose and I was safe for the moment.

A little more into the practice we must have moved into some kind of a lunge or extended side angle pose. I twisted to the right and horror struck once more as I caught a glimpse of Chunky's protruding veins. These were no ordinary veins. They must have been thicker than my fingers. I swear there must be aliens residing in those. If I'd continued gazing at them they'll pop right out and rear their bloodthirsty heads at me. I gather myself and turned my gaze elsewhere. Concentrate...concentrate.

The rest of the practice went by smoothly. This was my third practice of the week and the first time that I've actually practiced three times in a week, which was really effective for building stamina and resistance. For the first time I found myself able to lower from a plank position without collapsing, a great feat for my weak flabby arms.

Most importantly, for the first time in my life I started to embrace and enjoy fitness. Instead of lamenting exercise is a chore and complaining that I had to make time for it, I actually start to prioritze it. Because of the effort I put in, I think twice before I eat, and make more eat-this-not-that choices.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The One Thing I Don't Do in Yoga...

Warm ups. I don't do warm ups. While everyone around me look like they're gearing up for a marathon, I just sit in lotus and chill. I don't do it because I don't feel that warm ups are necessary. A good yoga teacher will take you through a flow that enables your body to warm up gradually. My teacher today did just that.

Before going to the class today I was a little apprehensive. I never had a male yoga instructor and I wasn't sure if I was going to enjoy his class. But that class was really something. I think it might have changed my life. So far I've gone to sessions under three different instructors and they have different styles and strengths. Mark is a little more advanced than the other two, not just in terms of the poses but his class has a faster rhythm, better flow and style.

I saw some pretty gravity defying stuff today, some from Mark, some from the super fit students. At one point I glanced to my right and was like woah! Girl, tell me you didn't just levitate. Pretty amazing stuff going on there today. The entire practice was just exhilarating, it was something that I've never experienced and I ended my practice with a smile. It's no wonder they are not afraid to give promotions like $30 for 10 lessons. They know people will be back for more! I'm only halfway through my package and I feel like I'm hooked. It's probably the first time in my life that I truly enjoy doing something physical.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

The Mindful Practice

When I went for my yoga practice today I thought it'll be no different from my usual practice. It turned out the class that I went to was level one, which focused on basic poses, had a lower level of difficulty and slower pace.

Though the practice was less intense it allowed me to focus on my downward facing dog. One can never have too much practice in downward facing dog. Though it's a basic pose, it takes some practice to straighten up those legs and loosen the hamstrings. Each stretch progressively helped me to work into the next downward dog better.

About 7 years ago I started my first yoga practice with Adeline from Yoga Spirit in Singapore and she's definitely one of the best instructors that I've had. Over the years I've taken up yoga at various yoga studios on and off, dropping out of classes mainly due to a busy schedule, and occasionally because I didn't like the classes. At the yoga studio that I'm currently practicing, I feel that I've finally found a place that I can practice for the long term. 

I've always felt that the first teacher we have in everything we learn is the most important. We learn values and habits from that first teacher. Other than being a wonderful instructor, what I really appreciate about Adeline's class is that she is not afraid to set ground rules. At every practice, she would ask of her students to enter the room quietly if they were late, and set up their mats without disturbing other students. 

If anyone wants to get my attention during a practice, all they have to do is to slam their mats. That's one of my biggest pet peeves. I have been to yoga practices where people make a grand entry when practice is already in session by slamming their mats on the floor. I've even been to a class where two girls regularly giggled through the entire session and at some point even started chatting. It wasn't a drop-in class so  I couldn't go to another slot. That instructor didn't stop or gently remind them to be mindful. That really bothered me and I eventually stopped going to that class. To me, a mindful practice starts from the moment I enter the studio. Respect the mat that supports you throughout the practice. Be aware that you are sharing the practice room with others and try not to cause disturbance. 

I really like this new studio that I'm going to. My regular instructor is great and the bonus is that she has great music. It may seem trivial but the music selection really affects my practice. It's really hard to focus when I Want to Hold Your Hand is blasting in the background. I've had a really great instructor who had terrible music, but because she's really nice I never protested about her music selection.  

Sizzle Sizzle

Ooooooh baby you had me at Zssssssssssss. You are so sizzling hot spicy sweet I have to dedicate a post to you. I feel so fortunate that we've crossed each other's path in this lifetime. If tomorrow was the end I haven't lived my life in vain. I think I have no more regrets than William Hung when he auditioned for American Idol and didn't make it. In fact if William Hung had tasted you I'm pretty sure he'll probably raise his arms and start doing his little She Bangs sequence, while he expertly holds your springy body between his chopsticks . I've made it my personal mission to tell every person I know about you. I'm so full but I still want more of you. Thank goodness for the takeout box, we'll be reunited tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Simple Days

As my friend puts it, the best days are often the unplanned ones. On Labor day morning we woke up and decided to go for a run at the beach. I couldn't run on an empty stomach and wanted to make some breakfast. To my surprise Robert said he'll make breakfast. Soon we were enjoying scrambled egg whites, Starbucks instant coffee and our favorite Nutella on wheat toast. I felt blessed eating the breakfast he made. Robert talked about his sailing classes and the conversation drifted to anecdotes of his fencing days.

Before noon we started our run at the beach. The day was cloudy but beautiful and the beach was full of vacationers with all sorts of tents and grills. The run was effortless, we were just enjoying the cool weather and watching beach goers have fun. When we finished our run, we took off our running shoes and walked barefoot along the shoreline, me squealing when the tide brought in the cold water. Surfers tried to catch the next wave and kids were fearlessly frolicking in the chilly water.

Seagulls went about their own business, leaving claw prints in the sand. Not bothered by humans, they seem to know that the beach was their territory. Seagulls remind me of a book I'd read as a child - Mutiny on board HMS Bounty. I wondered if birds ever get bored. They fly, stand around on the beach, look for food; I wonder what goes on in their heads.

As we stepped on the sand I couldn't help noticing the difference between Robert and me. I would look down on the sand and step carefully, ensuring that there were no sharp objects ahead. Robert took each step with ease , hardly looking down. "What if you step on something?" I asked. "Well then I step on something." he replied. This reply is just so like him - a doer, a risk taker. When he has an idea, he doesn't see any obstacles. He just proceeds and deals with the issues later. On the contrary I take calculated moves, and plans carefully to minimize failure. I guess that's how we complement each other. When we take a trip I plan the logistics ahead while he takes us on an adventure once we get there. I'll look up restaurants to go and when we get there, he'll look around to see what other people are ordering. So far it has been a great partnership. He's learned to be more prudent and I've learned to plan less and live more.

On the Yoga Journey Again

So I decided to get back into my yoga routine, and Living Social's $30 for 10 lesson deal definitely encouraged that decision. It's been three weeks since my last lesson and I was all ready to get fit and get rid of some flab.

Once the class started the muscle memory set to work and I was warming up slowly and steadily, managing the poses pretty well. Too tight on the back of my thighs and calf, but that's ok, we all practice at our own pace. Squat pose. I remember what someone said about Asians being able to squat for extended periods of time. It's true, I'm just chilling. 

Going through our vinyasa.  Sweating a little but still doing alright. My toes start to cramp whenever I'm in upward dog but I always manage to flex into a downward dog before they get into a full blown cramp. That'll be quite a sight. 

At some point where we didn't notice,Marlene put the music on. I realize that's her cue for working us to death. We go through a series of sun salutations that seem to get faster and faster, or maybe I'm not catching up. By the third set I'm hating her. By the fifth set I'm quite convinced this woman is trying to kill me. Sweat is dripping down my face and I constantly had to stop to wipe them away. I was having trouble with my downward dog, my eyes were starting to hurt from the pressure and my hands were slipping from the sweat. 

I start to realize how little muscle I have. My legs were like a million tons, I just couldn't lift them. Even the chair pose was getting hard for me. If I had any suspicions before I can now confirm - I am a certified fatty. It was getting hard for me to breathe, and I was getting light headed. The banana and yogurt I had before the lesson didn't help much in giving me energy. My vinyasa was more like stopping, wiping sweat, getting into the pose for a few seconds, stopping to rest and wiping off more sweat. 

We finally got into some seated poses. As I rested my head on my arm while in pigeon pose my hand got wet with all the perspiration from my face. I need an overnight pad to absorb this. Bridge pose. Good I'll just stay in my little bridge. Nope not going to go into the full bridge. That's it for me. A few feet away from my mat, it tickled me to see Marlene go into her bridge against the wall. Hands spread, moving nimbly and long and lean as she is, it reminded me of a lizard climbing the wall. Focus. 

I swear my face became thin after the session. With all the sweat oozing out of my pores I think I can see my chin again. I have a feeling it's going to burn tomorrow, but Ms Fatty Double Chin will be back. oh yeah. 

Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Shark that Swallowed the Plastic Bag

Every once in a while one of us gets stuck in a rut but today M my fellow copywriter and I were feeling the same way. We're viewing our respective newsletters with more hatred than usual. We tried all ways to love it, take breaks and come back to it, coax ourselves into believing that there's is still love between us and the newsletters and we just have to find it.

But today our imaginations have decided to take an early labor day break; our ideas are so dry I swear if you lit a match on them they'll combust in two seconds. M wants to murder her newsletter, burn them. My thoughts are less violent. Maybe I could just put the newsletter in a trash bag, tie it up and surreptitiously let it go by the sea. After all it's only a 20 minute drive to the beach. The tide will just carry it out to the ocean and nobody would know.

I heard there are sharks on Catalina island, maybe they'll make a good meal out of it. Well but the plastic bag will mess up the shark's insides, so maybe that's not such a good idea. The dead shark might wash up to shore and the half developed newsletter wrapped in its plastic coffin would be revealed when its stomach is split open by environmental scientists who are eager to uncover why sharks are dying in this region.

Another loud sigh coming from behind. We're just taking turns to take deep breaths now. Taking another look at my newsletter. Maybe if I use a biodegrable waterproof paperbag....

Saturday, August 20, 2011

A Joyful Pot of Curry

I had a chat with a friend today and was surprised that he wasn't joining in the curry cooking event. He was turned off by the negativity projected by some people who are supporting the event out of their distaste for the folks who caused this hoopla.See original story here, and the clarification here.  I knew exactly what he meant. I have a theory that if you do not cook with love, the food won't taste good, so I never cook when I'm unhappy or angry.

When I logged on to the Cook and Share a Pot of Curry  event page, I saw a lot of joy. There are those who couldn't wait till the 21st and made their pot already, those who are looking forward to tomorrow's big curry cooking event, and the most memorable was the group of Malay ladies crowded around a big bubbling pot of curry - in the office! 

The truth is, Singaporeans are a happy lot when we have food. We love to immerse ourselves in the joy of eating more than anything else. I did my national service too and made a pot of my favorite chicken curry! Unfortunately the Asian supermarkets here don't carry my favorite A1 brand curry mix so I had to use curry powder. Well we make the best of what we have!

What I love about curry is that it makes an excellent freezer meal. Instead of consuming the pot over three days like I always do, I froze some of it for lunch or dinner in the next week or two. 

Sunday, August 14, 2011

A Pot of Curry Unites a Nation

As of today, over 53,000 Singaporeans (see the current number of responses here) have responded to the call of Cook a Pot of Curry, an event that will take place across the island on August 21 2011.  Singaporeans will cook a pot of curry in their homes in protest of a news report that a local Indian family agreed during a mediation session to cook curry, their staple dish, only when their neighbors are not at home. The neighbors, a Chinese immigrant family, had complained of the smell of the dish.

If there is something we Singaporeans love more than our country, it is our local food. I suspect we will defend it to death if necessary. Though not officially coined as a national dish, curry is a dish that Malays, Indians and Chinese enjoy. We all have our own recipes and versions of this beautiful dish and nobody's ever heard of a curry related complaint till now.

Though I'm thousands of miles away I'll be joining in the spirit of curry cooking, mainly because I cook curry from time to time anyway, and also because of what the event means to me. Many Singaporeans are joining this event in spite and retaliation that immigrants are expecting locals to conform to their ways instead of them assimilating into local culture. I think many more positive things can come out of this movement other than simply wanting to "show em".

The Singaporean government has been trying to instill creativity into its people, but no amount of grants, incentives or campaigns work better than events created from the ground by the people for the people. Singaporeans are starting to come out of their shells and learning that they do not need permissions or permits to do everything.

The organizers have found a harmonious way to embrace our cuisine and culture, and bring the people closer.If there were any concerns of divisiveness, we have shown camaraderie and will speak up for our fellow Singaporeans regardless of race.

Food has always united us, and likewise Singaporeans can take the opportunity to invite their foreign friends and coworkers to try our favorite dish and foster relationships. The sooner locals help them to adjust to the local culture, the less conflicts and discomfort will exist (for those who are willing to learn, can't say much for those who insist their home culture is superior).

Lastly I feel that the response by Singaporeans this time really sends a strong message to some newcomers that they really need to humble themselves and take steps to acculturate themselves. I speak from experience, living in another country myself. If you sincerely make the effort to learn the local culture and norms, people will accept you. We move out of our own comfort zone into foreign territories to broaden our views and learn new things. If we never open ourselves to new things, behaviors and culture, what then is the point of leaving our home country?

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Office Chair Reupholstery

Thought I'll write a post after reading my friend Beverly's note on being green. I did this project last summer, right about a year ago. It wasn't a simple green project but gave me a lot of satisfaction after it was completed. Of course, there are those who would question why I don't go out and get a new chair, my husband included. But there is something special about making things with your hands and turning potential trash into something useful. The experience is something that money cannot buy.

I love the website P.S. I made this. The creator really inspires me to look around and see what can be repurposed. I learned to do the upholstery from Apartment Therapy and a few other websites.

It's pretty simple. I went out to Walmart to get a heavy duty staple gun, which is very handy for home and decoration projects, always good to have one handy. For the fabric, I went to Ikea and picked out a fabric that I liked for less than $10. The whole project probably cost me around $20 while a new chair would have been a few times that price, not to mention that it's probably not going to fit in the car and I'll have to get it delivered.
So I simply unscrew the parts, taking care not to lose any screws or small parts. One tip is to stick the screws on a piece of tape. Then I cut the fabric, ensuring it's big enough the cover the original fabric. The next step is to start stapling with the staple gun and make sure the plastic parts cover the edge of the fabric when I assemble it back. Lastly, simply screw the parts back together and there's a brand new customized chair!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

And...The Ring Fits!

Standard ring sizes start from size 6 and I’m probably a size 5, so it’s pretty hard for me to find fitting rings. I don’t want to give up on those pretty rings so I went ahead and got them anyway. After all, I’m sure somewhere out there in this universe, someone has to be selling something to adjust ring sizes.
So I started looking online and found several solutions. After combing through the reviews, the ring adjuster seemed to be the best solution; or rather the one with fewer failures.

I was really thinking about ordering it when I came across a reviewer who said it’s just a pvc tube fitted over the ring. Yeah, why would I pay $2.99 for a few pieces of pvc plus shipping? So I checked out the Lowes website and found that vinyl tubes were sold for as little as 20 cents a foot. What a genius. I went to the hardware store and cut out a foot of the vinyl tube I needed. Either 3/16 or 5/16 inch would be good depending on the size of your ring. I took it home, cut a small segment, and looped it over the rings. Works like magic!
Cost: 20 cents and 1 foot can probably work for 7-8 rings.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Saying No Made Me a Happier Person

Some weeks ago I was having a bit of trouble with handling requests from people. It always started with a small harmless request and it started working its way, growing bigger and encroaching my comfort zone. Twisted but it reminded me of the way crime documentaries describe how pedophiles groom their victims.

When asked for a favor, I was always too quick to say yes, or find it hard to turn down the request. In some cases like I said, I had agreed to doing one thing but that one thing quickly multiplied in the form of by-the-way tasks attached to the original request. Because I totally agree with the portion of Kein's post about saying no: "do not say yes and subsequently waste everyone's time by not doing it", and because I've been taught these 20 odd years that we have to deliver what we promise, I ultimately follow through the task, albeit with a lot of unhappiness on my part.

Buddies advised me not to feed the monster by agreeing to things that I'm not comfortable with, because that will only make the requesting party think I'm ok with it and I'll never see the end of it.

Now, I often click on the links posted by Kein on Facebook simply because there is always just a one word instruction - "read" or "watch". That made me realize something basic. People often take action when you instruct them to, and people act the way you want them to. And buddies were right - by not saying no I'm leading the requesting party to think that it's ok to request or demand. While most people have the self realization to not overstep their boundaries and give others space and respect, we certainly can't expect everyone to be the same. In some cases we just have to tell people exactly how we want to be treated.

So I started practicing the art of saying no. Growing up with the notion that we have to do what we are told to, it wasn't so easy at first. But you know what? It's been alright. There's been no nasty drama, no excessive tension, no raging winds and lightning bolts. In some cases it just becomes a negotiating game. And it works. This week I just said no to a ridiculous request. I was glad I took a little bit of time to process it, said no but offered an alternative that solves the problem within my comfort zone. I gave myself a little pat on the back. And that's growth right there.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Would I be happier in Singapore?

Just for fun. Sometimes I try to imagine how life would be if I were still in Singapore.

The optimistic view:
I'll be close to friends and family, have access to cheap good food, be there when everyone gets married and have babies,  have access to cheap good food, pay really low tax, and have access to cheap good food.

The pessimistic view:
I'll probably buy a flat that I can't afford, work a job that I don't like to pay for the expensive flat, take the overcrowded train to get to the job, and be angry with Mah Bow Tan and subsequently Khaw Boon Wan.

Friday, June 17, 2011

What Can You Do With a Kashi Snack Box?

I picked up a box of Kashi TLC Fire Roasted Veggie Crackers to beat those late afternoon hunger pangs in the office. Those were absolutely delicious but as usual I find it a pity that the good sturdy packaging was going to go to waste.  
While recycling is a great way to save the box from the landfill, I always remember from a talk that the three R’s should be practiced in this sequence – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. Since I couldn’t reduce it, I decided to look for a way to reuse it before it finally ends up in the recycle bin at the end of its lifecycle.
My office drawer was in a mess and one of the things I love to do with old boxes is to make drawer organizers out of them. This is a real simple project. All I do is to cut the box across so it’s now two boxes with an open top. Takes less than five minutes and my pens and little trinkets are now tucked away neatly in these little organizers.

Sunday, May 29, 2011


阿花:  (无奈)就这样。



Thursday, May 19, 2011

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Singapore Elections Humor: Chibi Aljunied

Friend of mine posted this. I have to say this is really good rendering, kudos to the guys who took time to bring us some humor. There's a bunch of creative elections drawings there, visit The Silent Majority of Singapore: Chibi Aljunied to see more. 

Emiliana Torrini - At Least It Was

A bit of music to get me through the afternoon.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Tin Pei Ling's Biggest Mistake Was Really....

...the lack of planning in social media management. 

There's been a lot of discontent ever since Ms Tin Pei Ling was fielded as the youngest candidate from PAP; and that famous "Kate Spade photo" circulating on the internet certainly didn't help with her popularity.

I do not dislike Tin Pei Ling although I think she's a weaker candidate compared to some others. I really don't think she is as stupid as most people think she is but I'm just not convinced that she really believes in what she says. In fact, I applaud any young person who is willing to step up and serve the people. If we take a step back and look at it, Ms Tin is not very different from the average Singaporean girl of the same age. Many of us do like to indulge in luxury goods when we can afford it. Just because she is running for elections doesn't mean she has to give up everything she likes.

Ms Tin's personal campaign went downhill even before it started, not that it would matter as long as her team achieves overall victory. Political views aside, I feel that a lot of things went wrong for her simply because of the lack of planning in social media management. 

What do I mean?

The landscape of political campaigning has definitely changed and while PAP had ample experience in traditional campaigning, they were not necessarily prepared to connect with the voters through social media. In my humble opinion, there are four things that Ms Tin and her team could have done better to avoid the fiasco:

Social media management should start before the election campaign.  Using social media is more than just putting up a profile. The PAP should have anticipated that voters would be searching for Ms Tin's information the moment she was introduced as a candidate. Therefore it is important to decide what kind of information to be made available and which is best kept private or deleted. Pictures of branded bags: best kept private. Pictures of candidate carrying a bag of groceries for grandma: display in public folder.

Keep private profiles....private. This is a no brainer, we heard it too many times but failed to heed the good old advice. As a political candidate, there will be people who love you, who hate you, and those who would love to dig dirt out of you before slinging the mud right back at you. Before going out to campaign, wouldn't it make sense to change your privacy settings to limit access to your private information?  

Content matters. It's been said that Kate Middleton's dress wasn't more elaborate because she was considerate of the tough economic times and did not want to appear too extravagant. As a political candidate, everything you put online represents you. While Singaporeans are complaining of the rising cost of living and disagreeing with the high ministerial salary, a picture of a future candidate holding a luxury item couldn't have come at a worse time. Pictures of branded bags: delete. Pictures of candidate eating at hawker center or taking MRT: put in public profile. Pictures of candidate carrying baby: Give me a break. 

Comments made on social media ARE taken seriously. The social media may not be an authoritative source like the mass media, but people do take comments seriously. As it is, eyebrows were raised over Tin Pei Ling's age and competency, and SM Goh Chok Tong had to rub it in with his tongue-in-cheek (or so he thought) comment that "Young Pei Ling has been traumatized" was counter productive. Thanks for confirming that she's young and can't handle setbacks, which brings us to wonder why you were promoting this candidate. 

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Day Dreams

3.46pm. Staring at the article I've been trying to start on for the last 30 minutes. Drowsy from the allergy meds, trying to neutralize the effect with a cup of coffee. Getting a coffee high and feeling fuzzy at the same time.  Plugged in my earphones and went into my chinese world.Thinking of the sights and sounds when I walked the streets of Taipei and wishing I could experience it again. The stuff that allergy meds do to you.

Monday, March 28, 2011

My Nguyen… Kopi Gao My Way

My Nguyen really took kopi gao to another level – the kopi gao gao level. If anyone’s reading this and can’t make out what this girl is talking about, kopi is what we call local coffee in Singapore and “gao” means thick. Essentially kopi gao is local espresso with a thick slob of condensed milk.
So like everything Nguyen, My Nguyen restaurant is a Vietnamese-Chinese restaurant in Garden Grove, CA. We didn’t plan on coming here. It was purely a I’m-hungry-oh-look-there’s-food kind of decision.  The place looks really old school, with dragon-phoenix chopsticks so we figured there could be potential in this place. Not going to talk about the food coz my fascination here is really with the coffee.
I flipped to the beverage menu and these words were jumping at me “Coffee with condensed milk (iced)” Kopi Peng!!! It’s 7 in the evening, I was punished with a sleepless night later but for a taste of my coffee it was well worth it.
The waiter came back with my order shortly. I didn’t see a glass of iced coffee anywhere, only an empty glass with ice and a coffee cup with a metal dripper. Authentic Vietnamese drip coffee!! Bonus! I almost forgot about the drip coffee. I didn’t see my condensed milk anywhere but I figured I’ll just take it with sugar. I patiently waited for about another 5-10 minutes for the coffee to finish dripping and carefully removed the dripper.
When I finally dipped my spoon to stir the coffee, voila! My spoon hit the sludge of condensed milk that was hidden beneath the black coffee at the bottom of the cup. Pure happiness as I watch the coffee lighten into a familiar brown. Next step, hot coffee goes over the glass of ice. More stirring. Then a sip. Come to Mama, kopi gao~~ What followed was the same ahh~~ after the first sip from a freshly opened can of coke on a blistering hot day.  My Nguyen my oh my. I’ll be back for my coffee.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


" 天降大任于斯人也, 必先苦其心志, 劳其筋骨, 饿其体肤, 空乏其身..."


Friday, January 21, 2011

how to screw up a perfectly innocent civilian's computer

How to screw up a perfectly innocent civilian's computer:
Step 1: Offer a new update for windows live.
Step 2: Do not allow sign in if user clicks "no".
Step 3: User clicks yes. Somehow come up with an error message that doesnt allow the download. Point user to troubleshooting page.
Step 4: Advise user to uninstall all windows live programs among 100 other steps, reboot and try to install from windows live website.
Step 5: When user completes every step in troubleshooting guide and tries to install the update, come up with error message "programs can only be installed by administrator" and don't allow installation.
Question: If I'm not the administrator of this computer, who is?

So anyway I'm not on MSN anymore till I have time to reinstall/upgrade the OS, since there's been a host of other problems with the computer.

We're not planning to join the Mac community anytime soon, I guess we'll either have to reinstall Vista - which has proven to be incredibly screwed up, or upgrade to Windows 7.

We've been talking about upgrading to Windows 7 for a while, but I keep hearing this voice over and over again:
"...and it's not going to have any problems our last operating systems had...Trust me." yeah right.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Missing You

I lay awake, my thoughts drifting to you again. Every time you appear in my mind, my thoughts run wild and uncontrollable. I recall you so vividly.I could almost smell you, taste you, feel your every texture. What an indescribable feeling of comfort. The world blacks out and it's always just you and me. Every time I think of you, I search the web for ways to get closer to you. A few times I come close but you were always elusive. It's as if you were punishing me for leaving you behind. I know I will see you again. In my mind I've rehearsed the route to you a hundred times. In my mind I would make my way to the familiar train with my luggage in tow. I imagine myself stopping in the familiar corner with anticipation, my heart beating wildly and my eyes fixated on you. I finally compose myself and say..."auntie, 6 chwee kueh. More chilli."
Oh chwee kueh, you will never know how much I missed you.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Journey to the West

23rd Dec 2010: Our journey to the west coast began on 23rd December 2010. Our movers came around 9am and had everything loaded on the truck by noon. The building slapped us with a "standard" carpet cleaning bill and we said goodbye to our little apartment.
Yayong had a flight to NY and got a twin hotel room where she could put us up for the night before we start driving the next day. We were starving by the time we got to her hotel in Brooklyn. Thank God for the gyros stall outside the hotel and I was grateful to be able to have gyros once more before we depart from NY. It was good and too spicy, just the way I like it.
We found a place on called Traif to have an early Christmas dinner that evening and arrived about 30 minutes late after the confusion with main and service roads, which put us on the Brooklyn bridge and back.

According to our waiter Traif means non-kosher, and their chef has traveled within Asia quite a bit so some of the items on the menu have Asian influence. We started off with a little spicy broth to warm up. Tasted like meesiam gravy but it was nice for a cold night. The menu here features small plates so we ordered some to share. I yelped it. Among the items we ordered our favorite was probably the seared foie with fingerling, ham chips and sunny egg. It was goood~~