Ludacris on Bieber's song, Baby: "When I was thirteen, I had my first love…"
My wife to the kids: "When you guys thirteen, you better not simi first love. You better study."
We stood, as a family, in our HDB home, as the SCDF sirens went off to mark the moment of silence. And as a family, we silently bid him goodbye.
After singing the national anthem and saying the pledge as a family, we watched to the end of The Funeral and felt the sadness in our hearts.
Then the wife and I got up, cleaned the flat, washed the dishes, and hung up our wet laundry. And set the children some homework.
We could almost hear LKY's voice saying, "Enough with the tears, now get back to work. There's a lot to be done."
The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep
Now fourteen, my Faith
No more a child, young lady
Always my baby
-Lee Kin Mun
I tried to find out what fourteen-year-olds girls wanted. I read that fourteen-year-olds want to be liked and want to be a part of a group.
Then I looked at my autistic firstborn and thought, scratch that. Let's work on teaching her how to blow out her candles first.
After I wrote the haiku for her birthday, I remembered that I needed to buy more adult diapers for her, because we were running low.
Yesterday, Faith sat in the living room, playing with her Winnie the Pooh toy. She hit the keys of her favorite toy phone, creating almost a rap by making Winnie the Pooh speak each number, "6-7-6-7-6, 6-5-4-3-2-1…"
Once in a while, she would pause, and let Winnie the Pooh say the number and play the accompanying nursery rhyme tune associated with the number.
She hit the zero, and Here We Go Round The Mulberry Bush came on. And then I heard her hum the tune.
I got excited and amused. And when the tune came on again, I sang along:
"Here we go round the mulberry bush
The mulberry bush, the mulberry bush
Here we go round the mulberry bush
So early in the morning!"
She looked up at me, her eyes curious. She pressed the zero again. The song came out. I smiled at her. Then she pressed the zero once more, and looked at me intently again. But this time she said, "Wuh wuh wuh."
"What do you want, girl? You want Papa to sing?"
She made eye contact again and said, "Wuh wuh wuh." She pressed the zero for me.
"Here we go round the mulberry bush…" I began.
She did it a few more times. And even tried it with another song. Pressing the nine button produced Polly Put The Kettle On.
"Wuh wuh wuh," she requested.
So I sang Polly Put The Kettle On, happy to be her Papa Karaoke Machine.
This marked the first time in fourteen years that Faith has ever asked me to do something by asking verbally. Not dragging my finger to something. Not pulling me to the object. Not handing me a bottle of ketchup or a box of chocolates. Just eye contact and a verbalized request.
I would have sung all night for her.
It was our 18th wedding anniversary. Or as we like to call it in our family, Sunday.
We had a most romantic day celebrating our 18 years of marital bliss.
Breakfast was a romantic affair of me grabbing a quick beehoon alone downstairs at the coffee shop while Joy was tasked with buying prata for my wife, as the wife got Faith and the rest of the kids ready for Sunday service.
Then lunch was another romantic meal at the Block 105 Market & Food Centre, the highlight of which was I managed to get my wife her favourite nasi lemak without too much queuing, while she fed Faith with chicken rice that Isaac queued up for (children after 10 years of age are excellent for food buying duties).
Then the wife had the romantic duty of doing the laundry plus keeping an eye on Faith, while I took Isaac with me to the office because I had work to complete. Joy had maths tuition so we had one less kid in the house, for an hour or so, which was a very welcome and romantic feeling.
At the office, I spent my Sunday working while Isaac did the English assessment book that the wife assigned him to do. Then he read a little from his book "The One and Only Ivan", that his younger sister had already completed reading some days ago. He also got to play with some of the toys in my office. This father and son briefly discussed the merits of the Suzuki Swift Bumblebee from the Takara Tomy Transformers: Alternity series of toys.
After two hours at the office with my son, I locked up the office and took him to Funan Mall, where I needed to buy some DDR3 1066 RAM for the used 2009 27-inch iMac I bought for the wife to replace her aging 2006 20-inch iMac.
That 2006 iMac was still working, but I thought she deserved something that could handle HD YouTube videos, that had a bigger screen, and a speaker that didn't go pffffft when there was just a whiff of bass.
Memory is really expensive these days, $75 for one piece of 4GB. I bought a pair (wincing at the $150 bill) so I could bump the memory in the "new" iMac from 4GB to 12GB. The wife would never know the difference but I would.
I picked up the RAM and the basic wired keyboard the wife asked for and as a treat, I let Isaac browse the toy stores at the fifth level of Funan Mall. "See only," I said to my son, "Not buy ah."
He complained a little about it but was content to look at the toys on display.
Then my Mom called and said she needed a ride home from her mahjong session, and I called my wife to let her know I would be picking Mom home then we could all have dinner together when I drove back. My wife romantically managed an "OK", the kind of distracted "OK" that came from having to deal with laundry, still-wet school shoes, and a bottle of ketchup broken by Faith. My autistic firstborn likes ketchup too much, and knows where we keep it in the kitchen.
We then took the kids and my Mom out for a romantic dinner at the kopitiam. We usually have dinner at my wife's parents' place on a Sunday but my in-laws were at some RC dinner so no 夜市人生 to watch and tweet about this time.
Halfway through the romantic family dinner, Faith spilled grape soda on herself, and we had to clean her up. The wife gave a loud "Tsk!"
And then Isaac complained a little about the lack of fries in his Fish and Chips (but ate all of it anyway). As usual, Joy could not finish her meal (it was spaghetti with Irish meatballs), and got a mild chiding from my mom about it.
"Look at you," Mom said, "So skinny and short! You are still wearing your school uniform from Primary One! In Primary Four! How are you going to grow taller without eating enough?"
"Hey, I am not a midget, ok?" Joy replied.
"Hahahahaha!" my Mom laughed heartily.
Mom went for her Sunday Qigong session and we went home after dinner. The wife started preparing the kids' school uniforms because the next day was Monday. Then I watched an older episode of local animated series, Heartland Hubby, with the kids because they are my biggest fans (I voice one of the characters, the arch enemy of the hero).
We tucked the kids into bed, then the wife said she can't seem to find her ezlink card, so I offered to change out of my pajamas, and go downstairs to look for it in the car.
While at the car, I decided to make a late night grocery run to Sheng Siong. I picked up the cereal that Joy likes, plus some toilet rolls, and a 2-litre bottle of Meiji fresh milk (because the one currently in the fridge was already past the due date. How did I know? My stomach told me a few days ago).
I know, very romantic things to buy, right? I also picked up a little something extra for the wife.
When I got home, the wife was already done with the remaining housework and was watching Luke kiss Lorelai at the gazebo in Gilmore Girls.
"I couldn't find your ezlink card in the car, dear. But I did buy some groceries. And your favourite ice-cream."
"Oooh, Magnum!" she said, and got one for herself and one for me, and we continued watch Gilmore Girls together.
Then, just as we finished our TV show and ice-creams, Faith came out of her bedroom.
"She wet herself and her bed, aiyoh," the wife said, with a tired sigh.
"You clean her up and change her pajamas, I will clean her bed and change the bedsheets, and soak the stained sheets in the kitchen toilet," I said.
It was almost midnight, a few minutes before the end of our wedding anniversary.
"That wasn't the most romantic wedding anniversary day hor?" she laughed.
"Who said?" I reply, and gave her a quick peck.
We lay in bed, staring at the ceiling lit by our bedside lamp, the room aglow with faint yellow light.
The wife turned to me and said, "There is a young lizard on the ceiling."
"It won't kachao you lah."
"But what if trips and falls on me? Like wahoohoohoooooo!"
"Don't be silly. Hanging upside down is what lizards do all day."
Then we both laughed.
Married for eighteen years, together for twenty six. This is what it comes down to. Juggling three kids, changing the adult diaper of our fourteen-year-old, and talking about a lizard on the ceiling at night.
Wouldn't trade it for anything in the world.
[Photo by Dominic Leong]
Two MRT breakdowns in one day, one at morning peak hour and another at evening peak hour. That has to be a record. So, inspired by a tweet by @sarahcoldheart, I started the hashtag #SMRTmovies. It trended within two hours.
1. @mrbrown: The Fault in Our Tracks #SMRTmovies (props to @sarahcoldheart)
2. @mrbrown: Rush Hour #SMRTmovies
3. @mrbrown: Tai Chi Hero #SMRTmovies
4. @mrbrown: Stoppable #SMRTmovies
5. @3rdeye_blind: The Enemy of The State #SMRTmovies
6. @marcnair: Tekan #SMRTmovies
7. @qamuri: How To Train Your Patience #SMRTmovies
8. @direcow: Down in 60 seconds #SMRTmovies
9. @why_vo: When Harry Met Sally Very Very Late #SMRTmovies
10. @why_vo: Crappie #SMRTmovies
11. @joleeqh: The (Not So) SMRT Express. #SMRTmovies
12. @sarahcoldheart: Frozen. #smrtmovies
13. @mrbrown: Rail Steal #SMRTmovies
14. @mrbrown: Trainstopping #SMRTmovies
15. @Pandawithacam: Fury. #SMRTmovies
16. @JJChai: Start Trek #SMRTmovies
17. @mrbrown: About Time #SMRTmovies
18. @marcnair: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey #SMRTmovies
19. @marcnair: Gate Expectations #SMRTmovies
20. @brianlian: No Train for All Men #SMRTmovies
21. @ycmok1081: The Stuck and the Furious #SMRTmovies
22. @jookuang: 那些年，我们一起追的地铁 #SMRTmovies
23. @jookuang: 跑吧孩子 #SMRTmovies
24. @brianlian: No Need For Speed #SMRTmovies
25. @mrbrown: Dawn of the Planet of the Late #SMRTmovies
26. @lupcheong: West Side Sorry #SMRTmovies
27. @lupcheong: 28 Days Later #SMRTmovies
28. @lupcheong: The Day The Earth Stood Still #SMRTmovies
29. @dennycheong: Failure to Launch #SMRTmovies
30. @TiongChye: Premium Crush #SMRTmovies
31. @ThatBakaBrendan: Real Still #SMRTmovies
32. @mrbrown: Twilight: Breaking Down #SMRTmovies
33. @mrbrown: Unforgiven #SMRTmovies
34. @mrbrown: Once Upon a Time in Jurong West #SMRTmovies
35. @mrbrown: Let Me In #SMRTmovies
36. @mrbrown: A Walk to Remember #SMRTmovies
37. @mrbrown: The Usual Suspects #SMRTmovies
38. @mrbrown: Menace II Society #SMRTmovies
39. @pharaon: Planes, Bus Bridging Services and Automobiles #SMRTmovies
40. @nomoreemostory: Total Refund #SMRTmovies
41. @mrbrown: Fifty Shades of Boon Lay #SMRTmovies
Every year, my family gathers for the Reunion Dinner on the eve of Chinese New Year. It is a rowdy affair, filled with food, drink and laughter.
Ma cooks up a storm each time, and we all tuck in. Back in the old days, it was just my immediate family: Pa, Ma, my two younger brothers and me. But the participants grew as we siblings got married and had children.
These days, it is not just my brood and my brother's kids at these dinners. Even family friends, cousins and aunts are here. We didn't have Pa with us for the last three years but Ma felt we should have even more loved ones in the home for this dinner, and so the party grew to as many as 19 people.
It got so big in numbers that we had to buy two folding tables from Giant, so that we could seat everyone.
My second brother usually cooks some of the dishes too, because he is a great cook. And also, it helps take some of the load off my mother, who is already 73 years old. But Ma loves to cook for us, so she still does a fair bit of the cooking. It's in her DNA, I think. She has been making meals for us since we were born, while juggling work as a teacher.
I cherish these Reunion Dinners. I like eating at home with all my loved ones, and home-cooked meals. My children too, are used to this scene because they are at my mom's every weeknight for dinner (we live a few blocks away from my mother).
I am not sure how we would even execute a Reunion Dinner without her hands-on involvement. She has run this show and this household for so long.
Ma is what you would call the Pioneer Generation. When I think of her though, I don't think of the term Pioneer Generation. I just think of her as Ma.
It is nice, of course, to appreciate that generation for their contribution to nation-building and all that. But really, my late father and Ma impacted us in a more intimate way, providing for us and bringing us up.
They were there through all our ups and downs; when we struggled in school, when we failed an exam, when we grappled with work and business, when we got attached, when we went through breakups, when we got married, when we had children of our own, when we had a special child, when we lost a child.
Through it all, our parents were there, a pillar of strength and support. Their contribution to us is beyond nation-building. They are the very foundation of our lives.
This Pioneer Generation video below reminded me of our own family, as we gather for our Reunion Dinners.
Does it remind you of yours?
When I was growing up, my parents set up a POSB Savings Account for my brothers and me. We deposited our Chinese New Year ang pows into the account every year (well, in the early years, I think it was my parents who deposited it for us, because babies are too short for over-the-counter banking).
We were even taught to save our allowance, to put aside some of it for a rainy day. At one stage, I was so hardcore at saving my allowance, I even went without buying food during recess, bringing food from home instead. Partly because I was saving up for a really cool yo-yo, that the school bus auntie sold on the bus (along with snacks like “rat satay”).
I still remember the old National School Savings Campaign, run by the Postal Savings Bank, later called the POSB. We saved by buying 10 cent stamps, then fixed the stamps on cards until we had $2 of stamps. The filled card would then be dropped off at the bank as a deposit.
I remember there was Smiley the Squirrel, admonishing us to save. I also remember the sticky fingers (mine, not Smiley the Squirrel’s) from handling all those savings stamps. Good times.
So when we had kids of our own, the wife and I also chose to impart this saving ethic to them. I look at their bank accounts now, and feel a little poor but proud. They have quite a bit of ang pow money saved in there.
On a daily basis, they also set aside their allowance. I allow some of the allowance to go towards a toy fund, but there must be some set aside for pure savings.
I lugged some of those coins from their allowance piggy banks to the coin sorting machine recently. It was really heavy but satisfying to deposit their savings for them.
You know what? POSB is bringing back the National School Savings Campaign, supported by MOE. I am quite excited about it. Yes, the saving stamps, the stamp card, and even Smiley the Squirrel.
Find out more about the campaign here and pledge your support.
Parents and primary school students can get their POSB National School Savings stamp card from any POSB/DBS branch, SingPost outlet and at Pacific or Popular bookstores in schools from 2nd February 2015 onwards. Students can then deposit the completed stamp card into any POSB/DBS Quick Cheque Deposit location and earn a $1 bonus (limited to one stamp card per child, per month and only valid for POSBkids account holders).
Sign up here for an ePOSBkids account if your child doesn’t have one.
If anything, stamps will be way easier to carry to the bank than a 5kg bag of coins.
[Image of old POSB stamp card above by Mel Naa, used with permission]
Wow, I just realized that it has been EXACTLY eight years since I joined Twitter on the 5th of January, 2007. Has it been THAT long?
Other signs you are getting old: A new musician friend says to you, "When I read your blog and listened your podcasts, I was in Primary School."
I am Pioneer Generation for Twitter. Got any special promotion or not?
We were at the mall today, to deposit the piggy bank coins that the kids have been diligently saving from their allowance. It was heavy to lug those coins to the machine, but fascinating to watch the machine count the coins so well.
Faith didn't quite like it there and she freaked out a little. It was probably the crowd and the music and the general noisiness overwhelming her senses. She can be a little vocal when she expresses her displeasure.
It is always interesting to see the reactions of people when Faith screams or shouts in a public place like this.
Some stare. Some look on with a smile of empathy.
Some actually get up from their seats and scurry away.
Faith's younger siblings ask me, "Why do they do that? Cheh Cheh is not a monster. They are being silly."
I tell them it's ok. Some people just don't understand the quirks of her autism so they are afraid. Or they think they might be blamed for causing her behaviour. People fear what they don't understand.
We who understand our daughter's condition, also understand why people don't understand. So we rarely get mad at them.
A well-dressed middle-aged man wearing a lanyard with ID knocked on my door.
"Hello, we are conducting spalling concrete works over the weekend and we are here to do a pre-inspection."
"May I see your authorization letter? Are you from HDB?" I asked.
"Er, we are a private contractor."
"My home is fine, thanks."
Nice try, dude.
Bukit Batok has a new tourist attraction: Gardens by the Rats.
That may explain why these people have gathered to watch 22 men try to catch them all.
The infestation was blamed on residents feeding the stray dogs which apparently led to the rats coming out to eat the leftovers.
If this were an opposition ward, the authorities would probably blame the town council.
People feed stray dogs in other estates all the time, why rats don't come out like this leh?
My youngest daughter, when she saw the Bukit Batok rats in the news video, went "Awwwww!"
I blame Disney.
Maybe they can throw a tent around the Bukit Batok area and start a rat circus. Call it Cirque du 鼠 Leh.
[photos via TODAY]
The response to the most useless taxi app in the world, made by the Land Transport Authority, was swift. The app lets you see the cabs in your vicinity, but cannot be used to book any of them.
The app is named Taxi-Taxi@SG, and the tagline is, without any self-irony, "Taxi Taxi, where are you?"
I suggested that my readers #RenameTaxiAppByLTA and here were some suggestions.
1. @mrbrown: SeeTaxi #RenameTaxiAppByLTA
2. @mrbrown: WhatTaxi #RenameTaxiAppByLTA
3. @mrbrown: CrapTaxi #RenameTaxiAppByLTA
4. @mrbrown: LookNotBookTaxi #RenameTaxiAppByLTA
5. @mrbrown: OohBlur #RenameTaxiAppByLTA
6. Jermyn Wee: TaxiGoWhere #RenameTaxiAppByLTA
7. @avalon: KuaTaxi #RenameTaxiAppByLTA
8. @mrbrown: TaxiNoEnough #RenameTaxiAppByLTA
9. @omgitsjy: TaxSee #renametaxiappbylta
10. @Geoffreeeyy: BoTaxi #RenameTaxiAppByLTA
11. @lupcheong: 德不到士 #RenameTaxiAppByLTA
12. @lupcheong: No Cab for Cutie #RenameTaxiAppByLTA
13. @dead_cockroach: #NinjaTaxi? #RenameTaxiAppByLTA
14. @st_meow: CatchNoCab #RenameTaxiAppByLTA
15. @mrbrown: TaxiKosong #RenameTaxiAppByLTA
16. @mrbrown: ChangingShift #RenameTaxiAppByLTA
17. @munchykinss: YouWaitLongLong #RenameTaxiAppByLTA
18. @lupcheong: Flipbird #RenameTaxiAppByLTA
19. @northernstarlit: Turn Up For What #RenameTaxiAppByLTA
20. @DanielFoodDiary: NotVeryEasyTaxi #RenameTaxiAppByLTA
21. @funkshin: Dude, Where's my Cab? #RenameTaxiAppByLTA
22. @miyagi: AngryNoWhere #RenameTaxiAppByLTA
LTA launches a taxi app that lets you see available taxis around you… but does not let you book taxis. Slow clap.
LTA Can't-Book-a-Taxi taxi app: "Hey look, another available taxi you can't book! Hey look, another available taxi you can't book! Hey look, another available taxi you can't book!"
Isn't it fun to monitor taxi movement, folks?
LTA statement: "With this information, commuters can better decide whether to continue waiting for a taxi on the street, walk to a location with more available taxis, book a taxi instead, or make alternative transport arrangements."
I suggest that LTA takes this app to the back of the barn and shoot it, to put it out of its misery.
I read in the news that in a National Workplace Happiness Survey, Singapore's overall workplace happiness index is 59, which falls into the band "Under Happy", between "Unhappy" & "Happy".
This made me Over Sad, so I went on Twitter to start the #UnderHappy hashtag.
1. @mrbrown: Bak Chor Mee came with one less meatball. #UnderHappy
2. @kuekj: Bak Chor Mee, no ter kwa! #UnderHappy
3. @mrbrown: Boss just bought a Lamborghini after announcing this year no bonus. #UnderHappy
4. @mrbrown: "Realistic and correct salaries" for "morally upright" ministers. #UnderHappy
5. @frhn: Managed to board SMRT. Personal space violated and guy beside me has bad breath. #UnderHappy
6. @polarpaws_: Finding the last clean and dry pair of underwear when out on field camp. #UnderHappy #UnderWearHappy
7. @vinyarb: Thirsty, but Dao Huey Zui too hot. #UnderHappy
8. @mrbrown: On the ball during BMT to go to OCS, kena SAFINCOS. (Ok, it's called SISPEC now. I am old. Update: I am told it is now SCS.) #UnderHappy
9. @shunoski: My ban mian never put anchovies. #UnderHappy
10. @mrbrown: Just bought an iPad Mini with Retina Display. iPad Mini 3 with Touch ID announced. #UnderHappy
11. @mrbrown: Whipped cream on my Frappacino when I told them no whip. #UnderHappy
12. @mrbrown: Barista spelled my name wrong on my latte. #UnderHappy
13. @rasuanta: Barista spelled my name correctly on my frappe. Cannot instagram. #UnderHappy
14. @weilien: Finding the last available stall in a public bathroom, but it's a squat toilet. #UnderHappy
15. @mrbrown: Paid 10 cents to enter a public toilet. Toilet looks like shit. #UnderHappy
16. @mrbrown: Wife ate the food before you could Instagram it. #UnderHappy
17. @mrbrown: The ice in your Teh Si Peng melted before the drink became cold. #UnderHappy
18. @ErvinHan: Normal is too sweet. Siu Dai is not sweet enough. #UnderHappy
19. @marcdnair: Tapao food, forget to take spoon. #UnderHappy
20. @brianistic: Boss say leave cannot bring forward next year and no cash out, must clear by this year #UnderHappy
21. @marcdnair: Receive camera as birthday present, but win the same model last week in office lucky draw. #UnderHappy
22. @marcdnair: Got cash voucher, but only valid in one ulu outlet. #UnderHappy
23. @nyithetnyi: If Pharrell had grown up in Singapore. #UnderHappy
24. @mr_wilson95: Not all pieces of chicken on my roast chicken rice had the skin on them. #UnderHappy
25. @mrbrown: The vending machine still doesn't accept the new Singapore coins. And that's all you have. #UnderHappy
26. @mrbrown: Ordered Teh Si Siu Siu Dai, kopitiam auntie made it Siu Dai. #UnderHappy
27. @furryphotos: Leave house, phone at 50%, no power bank #UnderHappy
28. @mrbrown: Brought Powerbank for iPhone. Didn't bring Lightning cable. #UnderHappy
29. @ErvinHan: Tons of 'Likes' on Carousell but no offer. #UnderHappy
30. @mrbrown: Friend spams Carousell posts on your Facebook Feed. #UnderHappy
31. @mrbrown: The state of the S-League. #UnderHappy
32. @furryphotos: Made #UnderHappy joke but @mrbrown already did it earlier.
33. @mrbrown: Harass and scam customers, then online parody site posts your cringeworthy shirtless photos on Facebook. #UnderHappy
34. @mrbrown: Bus app says "3 MIN" but bus already "ARR". #UnderHappy
35. @DanielFoodDiary: 2nd in line. Person in front tabao 2 dozen packets #UnderHappy
36. @MrFoxxie: Want to change fries to onion rings at BK, no more onion rings. #UnderHappy
37. @syuk_cookie: After a 12 hours night shift,need to attend another 3 hours 'work life balance' course #UnderHappy
38. @MothershipSG: Ask real Indian foreign workers act #underhappy at fake riot. #UnderHappy
39. @marcdnair: First in class but report card says got room for improvement. #UnderHappy
40. @weilien: Someone praises you in the comments on Instagram but, for some reason, doesn't "Like" your picture. #UnderHappy
41. @amirulhsbm: Want to think of #UnderHappy jokes but can't think of any. #UnderHappy
42. #UnderHappy is the new #Sianhalf
43. @mrbrown: Ordered Mee Kia. Gave me Mee Pok. #UnderHappy
44. @mrbrown: No one understood your hipster-ironic t-shirt. #UnderHappy
45. @mrbrown: #UnderHappy is the Singaporean employee's Whatever.
I do not know when a visit to the neighborhood GP went from an average of $28 to what is now $52. Don't fall sick in Singapore. Can die one.
What went up for doctors? Rent? Staff salaries? Cost of antibiotics?
Firstly congratulations to Serena Williams for winning the finals in Singapore.
Secondly, where did they find the geographically-challenged commentators for the WTA Finals?
I think some of us were gobsmacked when we heard WTA Finals commentator say "Goodbye! From China!"
Oi! Singapore where got is part of China? China your head lah!
And then friends and readers heard a commentator say that 50% of our population speak Mandarin as the main language, with English as our second language. Simisai?
Then yet another commentator said that this is the first time Singapore has had live telecasts of major tennis tournaments.
What The Finals, man.
Update: The commentator Kevin Skinner, has apologized for the China remark.