December 22, 2010 § 2 Comments
Okay I’m going to blog about this because I’m very excited about it.
The Gakkenflex is a DIY TRL toy camera that comes with Vol.25 of Otona no kagaku (大人の科學), a Japanese DIY magazine. Sis brought to my attention that Kino was carrying the mag, and with it being 20% off at Christmas now I got it for around $43, which is quite a bit cheaper than buying it online or from ThirtySix (retails at $56 I think).
It comes in this exciting styrofoam box. Doesn’t it make you feel excited just looking at it? It has “potential” and “opportunity” written all over. *gleaming eyes*
Bought it on Friday and had to wait out the weekend and be a good girl till my exams were over before I came home and happily started fiddling with it yesterday. (I think I pretty much made a beeline for it when I came home after dinnering with Walter.)
So I was too engrossed fiddling with the screws and springs and getting the shutter to work and all that I didn’t take pictures of the process. Took more than an hour, but this included taking it apart and putting it back together again because the shutter was SO fast I was almost convinced it wasn’t shuttering at all. The shutter speed is 1/125, apparently. Aperture at f/11, but there’s an aperture ring inside you that can take out if it’s really cloudy.. a bit fiddly to do that though.
Here’s the completed baby! Maybe I’ll go out tomorrow and shoot some if the weather is good.
And you have a really nice proper ‘viewfinder’ as well. It was late at night so I couldn’t really point at anything bright except my ceiling lights.
The gears on the front of the camera also all you to pull your focus as and when necessary. It’s a really great little camera that uses regular 35mm film. Have popped in an expired roll that Dad conjured up (It’s not that old, expired in 2000) and hope I’ll get some interesting shots from this. :]
Will blog about those again when I get them!
But in the meantime, here are some of the nicer shots from my first roll on the Diana F+ I borrowed from Marcius (someone I met in German class with whom I seem to have a lot of common friends with and who was from my JC but I’d never seen in my life). Meant to get myself through another roll but this Gakkenflex is definitely going to distract me from that. (Also 35mm is a lot cheaper to develop than 120 film!)
December 21, 2010 § 2 Comments
The exams have finally exhausted themselves and disappeared from my life (for a whole good year). No more exams till next November! Now that I’ve slept enough and have stopped being a total zombie, I finally have the energy to be excited for the new season ahead (next up: internship!).
So my family had an early Christmas dine-out this year. Traditionally we go for a buffet at a nice hotel every year. We have our favourites – Oscar’s at Conrad, Melt: The World Cafe at Mandarin Oriental, The Line at Shangri-La… but this year Sis booked somewhere we hadn’t been to yet.
We’ve been to Pine Court at Meritus a number of times for birthdays and such (they have excellent dim sum!), but this was our first time trying Triple Three. A couple of hours before we were going to go there, I went to check out the reviews on Hungrygowhere (of course)… and boy were they disappointing! Complaints of bad service and subpar food abounded.
Never underestimate the power of the Internet because Hungrygowhere was the first site that popped up on Google search, and if I had discovered it any earlier, we would’ve canceled our reservation and headed for somewhere else.
Unfortunately, because it was only a couple of hours to dinnertime, Sis and I did try calling up some other hotel restaurants but they were either fully booked or too expensive. (Melt was going for 98++ per pax that night!) So we decided to just stick to Triple Three and test it out for ourselves.
I went with low expectations and a hungry stomach. When we got there, I was pleasantly surprised that I did not encounter any of the bad service reputedly featured on the Hungrygowhere reviews. The extremely smiley and welcoming manager ushered us in, made small talk with us and mentored his staff closely. Sure there were some inexperienced waitresses. We had one from China with very bad English but she tried. Jason had a dirty fork and we got that changed, we asked for warm water but got room temperature water, but these were minimal and nothing to make a hoo-ha about. So my conclusion on the service front: It was nothing much to complain about! Acceptable enough and they were polite and brisk with clearing the tables.
Now we move on to the food.
Of course, I am slightly biased and tend to judge buffets based on how well they do my favourite foods. Aka, seafood (sashimi sashimi sashmi, and other things) and dessert.
For a buffet, they actually don’t leave the sashimi out on a platter for you to take on your own. They have a chef (if you can call him a chef) there to slice the various types of sashimi when you want it (so it means you can’t take as much as you want and you will feel paiseh to go back for seconds because the guy has already seen you before, very smart).
The chef is quite stingy with the pieces, he normally gives about 3 or 4 little slices each and I asked for more because well, I love sashimi. As you can probably tell from his cuts, he’s not very good at this slicing this. I’m not sure whether to give him the benefit of doubt that his knife isn’t sharp enough or that he’s really just not very deft with it, but they were quite badly sliced in general.
Sashimi verdict? Okay lor. Not great. Not bad. Wasabi was the kind that knocks you out and cures your sinuses so I liked it.
Moving on to the crayfish.
This was not bad, but that cheese/cream/calories sauce thing they drowned the meat in was a bit much. Some people like it I guess, I liked it too, but would’ve liked it more if there had been a little less of that cream.
Turkey and roast beef. Okay the thing about Christmas right… what is Christmas without turkey? Turkey was actually the key deciding factor in choosing buffets (because my sister wants turkey).
The turkey and roast beef were nicely done. Turkey was tender. Bad point: no stuffing. Where’s my turkey stuffing? Roast beef was on the medium rare side which I liked.
This is also sliced on the spot for you. Surprise surprise, by the same guy who cuts your sashimi.
Roast duck. The concept of this buffet is they have a lot of stations where people have to prepare things ‘on the spot’ for you. The duck was not bad but I just feel like, I don’t really pay 70 dollars to come to a buffet to eat duck.
Or prawn mee either. Though I must say I liked this prawn mee. It was nice.
They also had very bad chawanmushi.
It was bad, and didn’t taste anything like any chawanmushi I’ve had in my life so I don’t really know how to describe it.
Some of the other stations they had were a stir-fry station, where they had juicy mushrooms and bean sprouts, fish and beef cubes. These were not bad I’d have to say. And they also had an Indian food corner that I must’ve completely ignored.
So my verdict on the mains overall:
Variety – okay.
Quality – okay, some inconsistent. Nothing stood out.
But sometimes if the food isn’t fantastic, dessert makes up for it. But not here.
Always remember that sometimes they look better than they taste.
Of the 3 little cups here. One was mango, which was the only nice one. Strawberry was dull. The last we couldn’t even identify but it definitely didn’t taste good.
Green tea log cake, or they should’ve called it green tea buttercream with a bit of cake. Unidentifiable soury brown cake in the background.. I have no idea what it was supposed to be but it tasted like it had gone bad. The thing is, it probably hasn’t, but whatever they were trying at, it failed (might have been an attempt at some sort of yogurt cake). Even the cute little chocolate thing tasted bad. How can?
Completely fail. Except for the lime ice-cream, because it’s citrus. But of course they don’t make the ice-cream in-house so that doesn’t really count.
So would I recommend this place?
If you’re a dessert queen… definitely not. But overall the food is not bad (not good, remember, just not bad) and apart from the chawanmushi
being the only major turnoff, sorry, I forgot the soba, don’t eat that either, the food is actually quite edible. But if you’re going to pay $68++ for a Christmas buffet, I’d suggest topping up another $10 and going to Oscar’s at Conrad instead. Impeccable food and service there. But if you a a DBS cardholder and want to go for the 1-for-1 promotion (that ends at the end of the year, Mon-Thur only, must book because every night is full), then I guess it’s worth a shot?
Anyway looking forward to more Christmas gatherings now. Have one almost every day till the end of the year! Happy holidays everyone. Enjoy the remainder of December and look forward to an amazing 2011.
December 19, 2010 § Leave a Comment
This is an entry I’m hesitant to write and publish, because here on the Internet, people (you don’t know) often don’t see you as a human being, with individual thoughts whose opinions do not represent the whole that you belong to. Many times, they see you as a member of your faith, of your church, your race, your sex and your sexuality.
I don’t really follow most news. Partly because I’m not interested, and partly because what the local newspaper considers newsworthy in recent months have been bordering on incredulous. But, even the most newsophile hermit can’t avoid seeing snatches of the DADT repeal floating around on the Interwebs.
Today, the US Congress has finally passed the vote to repeal the DADT policy enacted in 1993 – that all gay soldiers are required to keep quiet about their sexual orientation or face dismissal.
Now, everyone immediately has an opinion on this. You have yours, but this is mine.
This piece of news put a smile on my face, because to me, it represents a lot more than the narrow-visioned, polarized Republican/Democratic feud that takes place at the lofty level of politicians. This is something that finally means; symbolically, psychologically and literally, strength and support for a group of people for whom your laws cannot deny their existence.
This post is not about whether as a Christian I support or believe in gays, or whether I am championing their cause. It is far-fetched and ridiculous to say that because I believe in the DADT repeal I am promoting their message, their way of life, their beliefs. The ‘Church’ does not represent my faith, or necessarily my God or my denomination. I do not represent the television pastors who preach that all gays go to hell, that if I am a friend to one God will punish me, that by supporting and helping ‘non-straight’ people I am fighting against ‘God’s war’, whatever this war is. This is not God’s war. This is your self-declared war as you sit behind the veil of religion that has nothing to do with the Christian faith of my bible.
It is not because I have a fairly liberal education (as liberal as it gets in my country, maybe), I belong to an industry that probably has as many gay as straight people or that I have friends, close friends, who are gay.
It is because in these countless years of theoretical and academic debate, we forget that what we are debating over isn’t just words on a piece of paper, but words on a piece of paper that have inadvertently caused lives to be destroyed and souls and consciences to be tormented.
It is not just these words, but many others. Amazing how a sharply written turn of phrase can change a person’s life for bad, or for good.
We forget as we sit in the comfort of established bureaucracy, that the bureaucracy was first created to help the very people you are currently hurting. I believe in being human, and I believe in Christian love that looks past the AIDs ravaging your body, the shotgun marriage and teenage pregnancies and whether you choose to call yourself straight or gay. Christ came to save sinners. Christ ate with the tax-collectors and the Gentiles, whom the Law considered unconsecrated and unclean. He made a detour to touch the life of the woman at the well who had 5 husbands and was staying with the 6th, who was not her husband. He met the lepers where they were in the lands they were outcasted to. He took a boat to an island for no reason other than to cast the Legion of demons out of the possessed man who was in the cemetery, alone, cutting himself.
I believe that for the first time in a long time, this is a President who is trying his best to remind America of the values and dreams this nation was founded on. This is a President who knows that words are not just black text on white paper, but that beyond that paper are very real people, very real lives fighting a very real war outside the safety of the White House, a war that the world has grown weary of watching but American lives are still being sacrificed for.
Every time I see pictures of the funeral of an American soldier, the indescribable anguish on a parent’s, wife, or brother’s face still overwhelms me. And if it never mattered whether that soldier was straight or gay, it never mattered either when he was there fighting by the side of his comrades and friends for the country they both believed in.
Beyond the bureaucracy, there, here, and anywhere that has handicapped our ability to see human beings as human beings, I choose to believe that God created us to love each other, to look after the weary, to lend support to the hurting, to never forget that we have been given a conscience so that we can choose to help others in a very practical way that actually matters beyond the loosely thrown words in today’s economy and political jostle that say plenty but do little. Use money, and love people. Not love money, and use people.
I am aware that there are many who wince at a distinction between property and persons–who hold both sacrosanct. My views are not so rigid. A life is sacred. Property is intended to serve life, and no matter how much we surround it with rights and respect, it has no personal being. It is part of the earth man walks on; it is not man.
Martin Luther King, Jr., The Trumpet of Conscience, 1967.
December 13, 2010 § 2 Comments
So, this was the accompanying title for my travelogue about the mini Sri Lanka adventure I had with 11 others from WKWSCI earlier in August.
Back then I had 3 choices – (a) to do a short internship in Amsterdam at a design studio I chanced upon, (b) go to Vietnam under the NTU Global Discovery Programme, (c) or apply for Pac N’ Go (Haven’t got over that they really named it this) and take a trip to Sri Lanka.
Troubled over how to make a choice, I talked through the pros and cons with many friends during the short window I had to make my decision. Eventually, (a) didn’t fall through though I know it looked the most attractive of the above options, I couldn’t return to Singapore in time for (b), and with pohtecktoes’s encouragement, we both signed up for (c).
This module was pretty mad. Juggling 7 mods this sem stretched me to my physical limits. I took 25AUs in a bid to clear enough so that I would only have to do one more semester of studies. (Planning to take Year 4 Sem 2 to do some freelance work, intern or set up a business.) I tried to justify that I was taking 2 non-examinable mods (Film Fest and this Lanka one), so once the insanity (and boy was it insane) died down, I would have ample time to study for my remaining 5 mods, 2 of which I SU-ed. Sounds pretty okay right? Okay lah. I wouldn’t recommend it and I wouldn’t do it again.
Sooooooo… well, here are some of my favourite shots from the Lanka trip.
Many of you have asked with much curiosity about this country that we know so little about. The 12 of us who went definitely didn’t know what to think of the place ourselves before we went. But my lowdown is this: I will go back. Someday. Hopefully soon.
If I could describe Sri Lanka in one word, it would be this: Raw.
In more words: Raw, untouched, unspoiled, truthful, honest, and naturally beautiful.
There’s just something about how very underdeveloped the whole country is. They’re trying very hard to become well, what every 3rd world country wants to be, and may in time to come lose it’s flavour like much of Singapore has in the name of steely cold progress.
But for now, while you have your usual money grabbing tour merchants (like in Italy) who try to suck you of as much money as they can because you’re a foreigner, the natural beauty of the country is a joy to any traveler who wants an experience down a road that others seldom care to travel. The people aspect, unfortunately, did put most of us off quite a fair bit. But as a seasoned traveler, you just try to wisely worm out of what you can, and focus on enjoying what you came to experience – the untouched and unspoiled Sri Lanka.
It may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but if you fancy yourself a bit of a wanderer who doesn’t mind roughing it out a little bit, then yes. I would recommend the Sri Lanka experience.
Also, I think more than half of the shots were taken while on a moving vehicle, primary our mini bus. I must warn you of this if you ever decide to go to Sri Lanka. The distances between the places may seem few in kilometres by our standards, but by the standards of Sri Lankan roads, you’re normally going at 40–60km/h MAX. There isn’t much traffic to speak of, so it’s not because there are loads of vehicles, but because of the road conditions and how you share the road [which is a dirt road, not a tar road] with tuk tuks that will worm their way into every space they can fit their vehicle into, cows, dogs, cows, cows, and the ‘public buses’ that travel at 150km/h and honk like crazy when they’re approaching.
So. Photos! (Lots of them in this post!)
Okay. That’s all for now. Now to find another excuse not to study… hey look, it’s about bed time. Goodnight world.
December 11, 2010 § Leave a Comment
So I’ve been home for almost half a year now.
Some friends have said I’ve changed since I came back, especially those who’ve been attempting to study with me for this semester’s finals. I’m more ‘slack’ (or distracted, in a way), less intense about studying, happier, but definitely slacker.
Is this really a ‘return from Europe’ syndrome? Not sure how the rest are faring, but half a year in Switzerland and traveling across more than 20 cities in Europe has taught me more about life than the close-minded, narrow-sighted tunnel vision rat race that we run, constantly and daily, as a Singaporean youth facing Singaporean pressures.
I have learned to relax. To enjoy time. To enjoy people. To have a clearer understanding of the ‘eternal perspective’.
I have been reminded to treasure the people God has blessed me with, to put people above results. To put human beings before goals. To value a person above perfection in their work. To let go of things I cannot control.
I have learned to treasure the gift of time. The gift of time to spend with family, loved ones and treasured friends. To appreciate the fact that at the end of the day, my grades are not going to save me, they are not going to make me happy, the endless chase for perfection can only satisfy for so long, and that my life would be meaningless and worthless if I had no one to come home to, and no friends I can call to share my happiest and crappiest moments with.
I don’t want to wait till I lose somebody, someone gets a terminal disease, or face a near-death experience to realize that it’s time to say ‘I love you’, ‘Thank you’, and ‘I’m glad to call you my friend’ to the people who matter.
So, don’t forget to tell the people who matter to you that you love them. Love them now, not tomorrow, not when the exams are over, not when you have the time, not when they become perfect or do the right thing, not when you can finally prepare something grandiose. But love them simply, and love them fully, and love them now.
This post is titled Missing Europe. So here are some other photos from my travels, some from later trips than the last Europe photo post which was of us in Spain. If any of the juniors going to Europe are reading this, please, get excited, travel lots and don’t just be caught up in the photos, but be caught up in the experience.