Monday, April 15, 2013

I've moved! After sitting on my domain name and server for more than half a year I've finally made the move to my domain. As of now this blog is officially passed on! This blog is no more! It has ceased to be! It's expired and gone to meet its maker. This is an ex-blog.

To see the new one, head over to: http://www.iamohcy.com

And so for what is probably the last time on this blog (I'll miss you),

Tata.

Sunday, July 08, 2012

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,

Monday, July 02, 2012

Well it's that day of the week again. Sunday, a.k.a blog-by-today-or-you-lose-your-bet-day. For the uninformed, that is to say everyone else, I have been wagered a rather tempting prize that I will not be able to keep up this once a week updating. It occurs to me as I write this that no mention was made of a minimum word length for my posts during the bet, so I could conceivably just leave a post every Sunday containing a full stop (and maybe a comma if I'm feeling generous) to win the wager.

It's been a somewhat interesting week thus far. Brief recap time!

Monday:
I breathed for 24 hours.

Tuesday:
See Monday.

Wednesday:
A day of firsts. I spent a better part of the day waltzng in and out of dressing rooms as I shopped for clothing with Chuan. All in all it was a much better experience then the last time I properly went shopping - a rather pathetic experience that involved me trying to pry off a mirror in Zara with my bare hands thinking it was the entrance to the changing room.

Look! I actually bought things.

In another first, I went to butter factory (a club) where I further validated my opinions on clubbing and *dum dum dum* downed two cranberry vodkas. I realise that this might not seem like a significant event to most of you, but for someone whose alcohol intake largely consists of getting sprayed in the face by toilet air fresheners it was a pretty big leap (see Exhibit A). Of course this still pales in comparison to the time I went to... but let's leave that story for another day.

Exhibit A

And so within the span of 12 short hours I went not just shopping, but clubbing and drinking as well. Me. Oh well, stranger things have happened.

Like this.

Thursday:
On Thursday I frolicked at the playgrounds near my house with a few of the Perry Peeps before going up to watch Running Man. The outing was meant to be a TV marathon, but due to certain technical difficulties - such as the last person arriving roughly 4 hours after the event was supposed to start - we only managed to watch half an episode. All in all the event more closely resembled a NAPFA shuttle run than a marathon but I got two free peach tarts so I'm not complaining (thanks ken).


Friday:
I had my second driving lesson in the morning, during which I probably gave about 15 different people a heart attack, and about as many individual ones to my driving instructor. There's just so bloody many things to take note of, and I'm not exactly the world's best multi-tasker. I used to think that this was a good thing. It took a couple of honks and several (ok many) shrieks of terror from my driving instructor before it occurred to me that the problem with having a one-track mind is that oftentimes the track it's holding isn't the one I'm currently driving on.

"You want your next  lesson tomorrow!??" -Mr. Driving Instructor

After I was done giving my driving instructor hypertension, I popped over to QQ's place for a visit before going to the first Scam Club gathering in ages. We gathered in RJ for a potluck lunch before journeying to my new place for a chit chat. As we clutched our stomachs laughing over photos of our old trips and gatherings, it struck me once again that the photos I value most are not the prim and proper sorority squats in front of some monument or sign, but the ones that tell a story. The photos that spark a memory not just of going to a location, but the antics that occurred while we were there. The candid shots and staged tomfoolery that leave a smile on my face each time I view them. I guess this too is why I don't believe in untagging Facebook photos you look "unglam" in. It is precisely these photos - the ones with the kooky expressions, wild splayed out hair and crazy monkey poses - that bring on a smile or a laugh, adding just that little bit of joy to the people around you. So you can spend hours snipping your facebook photo feed like an obsessive bonsai grower, but ultimately I feel all you'll end up with is a shelve full of barbie dolls - pretty, uniform, and more than a little bit stale.

...and plastic, and anorexic, and blonde, and dating ken, and...

Leaving that uncharacteristically serious note aside, after Scam Club dispersed me and Ben rushed down to Gardens by the Bay (for those who haven't been to the place, find a free day and drag someone there with you - the place is utterly gorgeous) to meet Ge for a much anticipated Jason Mraz concert. About 5 songs into the concert though it was starting to strike us that not preparing for his  concert by listening to his new album was one of our more idiotic life decisions. Words cannot describe the joy we felt when he started singing one of his old songs, and we could shake our booties and shout along like the 100 dollar ticket buying fans we were supposed to be.

After the concert ended the three of us squeezed through a crowd of people butchering "I Won't Give Up" at the top of their voices (I was one of them) before sojourning to Macs for a lardy, late night supper. My memories of that period are a bit blurry for some reason, but I vaguely remember trying to convince Ge to eat a french fry that I dropped on the floor after hiring her as a seductive sales assistant.

Yeah I don't get it either.

Saturday
I was supposed to join the arters at Pink Dot but finished settling my stuff (Pedantic-Many-Middle-Name-Phua I hope you're reading this) too late to make it. Saw the photo of the giant pink dot on facebook though and it was gorgeous.

And that's about it really.

Tata for now.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Today I learned three things.

1) Durian flesh is yellow, not green. (Roughly one year from the day I learned that milo, despite its green packaging, is not in fact green.)

2) If a giant insect flies into my shirt I will jump up and down on my bed and scream like a little girl.

3) My computer speakers emit a loud squealing noise whenever its wire comes into contact with my skin. In deference to the noble and dignified tradition of scientific inquiry, I spent the 5 mins following that discovery repeatedly assaulting myself with the speaker jack. The results of the experiment were inconclusive.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Well it's been a week since my last proper post, and if I wish to keep to my new resolution to update this place once a week I have less than 24 hours to do so. So I shall do a brief posts on the exciting happenings of the last week.

1) I went to Malacca

Since my family trip to Taiwan has been cancelled due to the typhoon there, our family decided to organize another trip to Malacca instead. We ate, we shopped, we ate some more and that was pretty much it really. It was the epitome of an utterly free and easy trip, and I did my very best during those 3 days to chill the heck out of life. By sheer bad luck we happened to luck into perhaps the sole "5 star" hotel in the world that only offers wifi in the hotel lobby that has to be paid for. It strikes me now that perhaps there's a reason for this. After all if you can afford to book a room at a 5 star hotel, although admittedly an extremely cheap 5 star hotel, you can probably afford the extra moolah to pay for wifi.

For my visually impaired friends out there, if you ever want to buy a pair of spectacles a shop called Eye To Eye in Malacca is the place to do so. Passing by the shop randomly after lunch we decided to go in so I could replace the pair of spectacles that was stolen from me by the evil spectacle gnomes while I was studying in the US. It was in that shop that I was subjected to the most comprehensive eye exam I've ever had. There was a machine that estimated power, something else that checked my cup-to-disc ratio and various other thingamabobs whose purpose I can't remember but which at the point of time seemed rather suspect to me. I was a trusting fellow though. It was only midway through having some strange machine blow bullets of air into my eye that I expected to get knocked out by a puff of anesthesia and wake up with one eye and both kidneys missing.

Happily enough, the examination ended on a rather more prosaic note, and I was merely informed that as seems to be the trend with the rest of my body, I have imbalanced vision. Apparently one of my eyes is short sighted with a power of 150, and the other is long sighted with a power of 175. I like to think this gives me long visioned superpowers that can be activated at will merely by winking, but frankly all it does is give me mild double vision.













Meanwhile daigor being daigor was amusing himself chatting with the rather cute eye care professional who was informing him that he had a large cup-to-disc ratio and that he was mildly long-sighted. One does not spend 2 decades living with my big brother without getting his sense of humor jabbed into your skull, and thus the moment those words escaped the lady's mouth I and laodi turned to each other and sighed simultaneously. Sure enough a huge grin spread across his face and-

"So I'm bigger and he's smaller?"

"Yes you're bigger. His one* is smaller than yours"

"I see."

"Also, I'm long and he's short right?"

"Yes you are long."

And so on and so forth.

*Just in case it wasn't obvious, the lady was referring to my cup-to-disc ratio. Please.

Beyond that the only other interesting thing of note is that daigor spent a sizeable portion of the bus ride there trying to draw on my face with a highlighter while I was asleep. Alas, he succeeded.

Oh and the chendol there is heaven.

One big happy family :)

2) I threw two people into a wall.

Had an ice skating outing with my Y Camp group (Perry the Platypus) yesterday. Midway through it we decided for some reason that it would be fun if I pulled people along as fast as I could. I learnt a valuable lesson that day - if you drag someone as fast as you can down a straight stretch of ice before flinging them forward, the end result usually involves about 2 seconds of screaming and a human body flattening themselves against the rink wall.

My happy victims assuming their wall-plant poses.

There's a video of it somewhere in my camera but it's extremely shaky. I assume that's due to the camera woman's hands shaking with worry and not, say, her laughing her ass off at his involuntary attempts to become one with the wall.

We're missing the M,C and A.

After that I rushed off to Romei's flea market thing, spending half an hour roaming the void decks of her estate before being informed by shu that the flea market was in her room. Had to jump up and down like a maniac in her carpark lot so they could spot me. I would like to claim that such undignified behavior is unusual for me but I'm sure we all know the truth.

After purchasing a merry assortment of items, we then rushed down to afterglow where we cam-geishaed for a while before I tromped off to dinner with px and new friend seleena.

Photos!

 Khalisah giving her epic speech.

Evolution of Huili.

No idea what we're doing here.

NICkleback and his Perry band of groupies.

The Khalisah Girls

And I guess that's all for now!

Tata folks.

Monday, June 18, 2012

I've finally done it. Despite years of resistance and inertia, I've finally taken the huge leap of changing both my facebook profile picture and my blogger template. Some of you traditionalists out there might be frothing at the mouth that I've so casually disregarded my Web heritage, but after keeping the same basic blog template for 5 years, not to mention sticking to the same 15 year old photo of myself as my single profile pic since the day I first pondered the grisly implications of a book full of faces, I think I've done my dues to loyalty, tradition and what not.

Onward to a new future!

Addendum: I'm starting to wonder if anyone still comes here other than a few friends, the occasional mung bean flower photo seeker and people who think I'm this guy. If you do comment! Or leave a tag! Or something.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

And I'm back! To continue the post I left off sometime last month. If you haven't read it yet you can read it here. Or you know, just scroll down.

An-arbitrary-number-that-will-probably-end-up-being-a-nice-round-number-like-10 things I learned in the US (Continued).

6) Clubbing is pretty much the same thing everywhere you go.

Having attended the vaunted activity known as clubbing in both Singapore and the US, I have come to the conclusion that it's pretty much the same activity no matter where you go. With all my years of clubbing experience (amounting to 5 times over 5 years) I've been subjected to depraved sights that I will never be able to wipe from my corneas, and I longingly look back to a time when being asked to go clubbing would have resulted in me happily skipping off in search of a very large stick. But alas those days are no more, but on the bright side these experiences have allowed me to distill the essence of clubbing into a few simple factors:

 i) Loud Music

This is pretty much self explanatory. One of the hallmarks of my clubbing experiences is that I always leave the place with a ringing in my ears despite the two wads of tissue (very discreetly) shoved up my ear canal. I realise that having tissue balls stuck up your ears isn't exactly standard clubbing apparel but I swear there is only so much noxious loud music a man can take. And yet there's something about the aural assault that wipes my memory clean of it and leaves me surprised by the noise volume again each time I walk into a club and get attacked with decibel levels so loud you wouldn't be able to hear a pin drop even if it were the firing pin of an 50-foot tall grenade.

ii) Dancing

Or to be more specific, the act of dancing known as "grinding". This activity confused me a little at first until I realised it was all just part of a big food processing skit. It always starts out with the grinding of some male/female meat, who eventually ends up sandwiched between two gyrating bodies as part of a human hamburger. 

The only thing I have to comment about this is the choice of name for the activity. I mean seriously, grinding? There are at least a hundred other less painful sounding words for describing that activity. A brief search on Google reviews the following use of of the word "grinding":

"In most modern roasting plants, grinding is accomplished by feeding the ***** through a series of serrated or scored rollers, set at progressively smaller gaps, that first crack the ***** and then cut them to the desired particle size." -Britannica Online (***** = beans)

Considering the aspects of human anatomy normally involved in this dance maneuver, I have to admit I gagged a little when reading it. And I'll admit too that I can no longer hear the classic rhyme said by the giant from Jack and the Beanstalk without my mind twisting it into the following version:

"Fee Fi Fo Fum ...... I'll grind his boner to make some bread."

What this says about my mental state of health I rather not know.

7) Electronics are much cheaper in the US than in Singapore

Lo and behold, an actual useful piece of advice on my list! I feel kind of proud yet pathetic at the same time. Anyway to keep it brief, for those of you planning to buy a laptop/Desktop PC/TV/protocol droid before college in the US, I highly suggest that you buy it in the US instead of Singapore, even though I know the kilometer long lines seen at every Singapore IT Show are extremely tempting for all you queuing addicts out there. It's really just so much cheaper.

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Alright, I said I'd continue the list and now I officially have so I'm stopping here. Besides, 7 is a nice number.

In other news, it's officially my summer vacation, and I have braved a 20+ hour plane ride on the A380 to return to sunny island Singapore. Yes my Singaporean brethren, I have once again returned to our sunny island, and I know that all of you are just dying to invite me out and bask in my august presence again. Scammers all of you. Don't think I don't know you're asking me out just to convince me to try to speak in an American accent in front of you after reading the previous post. For the people I'll be meeting over the next few months or so, I'm very honored that you still visit this spot and all but please stop asking me to try speaking in an American accent. For the people who already have, please stop trying.

Since I just did a post on things I learnt while staying in the US, I shall briefly write about a couple of things I've learned now that I'm back in Singapore.

1) Singapore is #$#@!%!@$ humid and !@#!@$!@#%$!#@$%@!$ hot.

I swear the moment I stepped off that plane it felt like I had been thrown into a swimming pool. Any more moisture in the air and I would have given up walking and just freestroked my way home. It occurred to me sometime after sweating half my body weight in fluid after just a casual walk to J8 that this humidity is simply not natural, but the result of a vicious cycle involving humidity-caused sweat evaporating and further increasing the humidity levels. I expect my Nobel Prize any day now. On the bright side I now have a cunning new business plan of building random wooden boxes in the park, pasting a sign saying "Sauna" on them and charging tourists for entry.

2) My body is in love with soap.

About two days ago I drifted off to sleep on my bed late at night while reading a book. Just then a sudden noise from outside woke me up, and I dragged myself to the toilet to brush my teeth before returning to my slumber. For some reason or another the huge bottle of shampoo my family uses was placed next to the sink instead of its usual location in the shower. For another, more inexplicable reason, I proceeded to squeeze a giant dollop of minty, anti-dandruff shampoo on my toothbrush to use.

One would think that after almost poisoning myself drinking liquid detergent honey water, my brain would be slightly more cautious of ingesting any soap based materials but that theory appears to be moot at this point. Thankfully I caught my mistake in time and avoided brushing my teeth with it because I seriously hate mint. And you know, the whole poisoning myself dead thing.

3) Singapore food is unbeatable


Despite nursing a rather bad cough, I have been unable to resist chomping down on every platter of Singapore food that comes my way. The result of course is that most of meals consists of me coughing like a madman while vacuuming my meals down in utter bliss. For anyone about to leave Singapore for an extended period of time, trust me on this - no matter how amazing an experience you're having, nothing beats being near to your family, your friends and a Mee Siam store two blocks away.

Alright I'm about done for now. Just to touch on what I've been doing since I've come back, for the last few weeks or so I've mostly been going out to eat, hanging out with friends and attempting to learn iPhone programming, the latter of which has taken a backseat to the former two pursuits. Besides that the only thing of note recently is that Chuan has treated me to both the Harry Potter show and some circus comedy show called Soap: The Show. (Whether she was aware of my distinct affinity for all soap-based things before she decided to buy the tickets is questionable, but I assume it must have been so.) The former is way too short but cool to look at, and the latter is way too long although it has numerous extremely cool bits if you ignored the other, slightly recycled portions of the show.

Tata for now then.

P.S. I made a resolution to keep up with my writing more, so technically I'm supposed to update this place once a week. Let's see if I can keep that up.

P.P.S If anyone wants to help me revamp my template and what not please tell me. I'm starting to feel that this template is mildly, mildly, present-at-the-discovery-of-fire dated.

P.P.P.S I went to Bishan Park for the first time since it's renovation today and the place is gorgeous. Kudos to whoever designed it.


Monday, April 23, 2012

Hello people, it's been a while. I sit here now in my dorm room at CMU, typing my first post as a college student. Those who know me know that I usually only blog in moments of inspiration or sheer boredom, and I would like to clarify that the reason I am typing this entry now is purely due to a love for writing and nothing to do with my being locked out of my dorm room for the past 2 hours after leaving my wallet inside and closing the door.

It has been remarked to me by many people, many times that I do not update this blog often enough. Well here you go, and I hope all of you are happy now. I must admit that I feel somewhat pressured whenever I think about writing here, because for some obscure reason I feel like I'm obligated to keep the size of my post above a certain threshold. But I have now decided that size shouldn't really matter  (Royce: "That's what she said!") and with that decision comes a burst of freedom so liberating it feels like a healthy breeze around my-

I have been in the land of the free for what amounts to almost two whole semesters now, and I would say that I've gotten into the flow of things rather nicely, with new friends, new experiences, new knowledge and new pillow cases to boot. I'm in a rather listy mood today so I think I shall dedicate the remainder of this post to a list of an-arbitrary-number-that-will-probably-end-up-being-a-nice-round-number-like-10 things I learned in the US.

So here goes.

An-arbitrary-number-that-will-probably-end-up-being-a-nice-round-number-like-10 things I learned in the US.

1) I will go to ridiculous lengths not to get an English name.

Oh I still remember that foolish boy wandering for the first time onto the CMU campus, imagining all the happy introductions he would soon begin as he embarked on his quest for Friendship.

"Hello! My name is Chin Yang," he would say.

"Hi Chin Yang! My name is Happiness. Let's be friends!" they would reply

And so with a smile on his face, a song in his heart and the stench of a 2-day unwashed t shirt wafting through the air (my flight got cancelled. Repeatedly.), that innocent young boy walked into his lounge and greeted everyone he saw with childish abandon.

"Hello! My name is Chin Yang!" he would say.

"Hi Cheeya!" they would reply.

This went on for a long, rather depressing while, but I'm happy to say that eventually Cheeya/Chiang/Shinyag decided that all this humiliation and embarrassment was plainly insufficient, and that he should subject himself to even more. Suffice to say that I have now become a master at telling people how to pronounce my name, a perfected and intricate ritual of interpretive dance and miming that has served me in good stead for the last few months. It goes somewhat like this:

"Hi I'm XXX, what's your name?"

"Hi, I'm Chin."

And then I point at my chin.

While you bask in the genius of my solution, I feel obligated to point out that as a result I now have several people delighting in calling me Chinny Chin Chin. It all drew to a close one day though, when I took a good long hard look at myself in the mirror and asked myself: "Are you really ok with the name your loving parents gave you being truncated into a single, anatomic syllable? Are you really that easily satisfied?"

I was.

2) It is impossible for me to codeswitch.

One thing about having an accent, is that until you start staying in a foreign country you're never the one with the accent. That's everybody else. And so I spent my misspent youth laughing along with everyone else at Leng's and Hiok's imitation of a US accent during our scout's activities.

And then I went to the US, and suddenly I was the one speaking in the weird Singaporean accent with unintelligible bits of Singlish slipping into my vocabulary every now and then.The result of which is that unless you've known me for a while, my speech to "Huh?" ratio (what I've termed "The Huh Ratio") remains at about 2 huhs for every 5-10 words.

Which is just not fair. I understand the US accent perfectly. Terms like "Legend-wait for it-dary!", "Awesome!", "Whatsup Homie" are all perfectly understandable to me due to the constant influx of American TV shows on Singapore cable TV. Just once, just for one single conversation in my 4 years here I would like to go up to an American and hear him say:

"Wah seh! Last night I kenna pangseh buy my khaki for makan. Lucky hor, I got jin dua workload to mug tonight plus got new Phua Chu Kang episode so not that lonely lar."

But no, it never happens.
 
And so now that I'm in the US, and finding it impossible to get people to understand me on a regular basis, I'm starting to see the benefits of being able to codeswitch at will. For most people I understand that this is an instinctive thing. You talk to a foreigner, you codeswitch. It's as simple as that. For some reason though, I do not instinctively codeswitch when faced with a foreign accent. For a while I was reasonably proud of this. "Mindless sheep!" I cackled, as I watched Singaporean friend after Singaporean friend adopt a fake American accent when talking to Americans. Until one day Chuan decided to challenge me to try codeswitching, and I found out to my horror that it wasn't that I didn't want to codeswitch, and therefore did not, but that I could not codeswitch at all.

According to Chuan, every single thing I tried saying in an American accent sounded nothing like it. "It sounds like a British accent", she would say, giving me momentary hope that perhaps I could at least spend the next 4 years entertaining people with sexy British humor, before she cruelly informed me that it didn't sound British either. A British accent was just the closest thing it sounded like. And after listening to a recording of myself, I have to agree that although that's indeed the closest thing to a real world accent my mangled attempts at codeswitching still sound like, any hopes of becoming the next James Bond having a convincing British accent will have to be consigned to my ever-growing heap of failed ideas.

And so I have resigned myself to a life of vocal inferiority. It's not enough that my vocal chords have the singing ability of two fingernails doing the horizontal dance on a rusty chalkboard, but now they have apparently denied me the ability to sound comprehensible to almost all my class mates. Sigh. Oh well, neimind lar. Quay sala sala.

3) If you accidentally leave egg white in your water boiler for a week, it will grow mould and stink to high heaven.

This is pretty much self explanatory.

4) Never place a bottle of dishwashing liquid and a bottle of honey on the same shelf, especially if you're color blind.

When I first came to the US, I swore to myself that I would make use of my new found freedom to cook. And so for the first few weeks I tried a few complicated recipes like Adding Le Boiled Egg to Le Instant Ramen and Throwing-Le-Copiouz-Amountz-Of-Zingapore-Chilli-at-Ze-Special-Chinese-Takeout-Cuizine. My usage of the first recipe came to an unsightly end after a rather sorry kitchen incident (see point number 3), and my usage of the second reciple too came to an end after my carefully hoarded supply of extra hot Chilli gave its last breath in combat with a particularly tasteless bowl of ramen.

And so my cooking adventures gradually whittled down in scale and complexity until finally I reached the peak of culinary college cooking that was Chucking-Every-Damn-Thing-In-The-Microwave-Oven. Eventually I got too lazy for that too, and therefore limited my cooking exploits to making myself a nice warm cup of milo or honey water every now and then.

Now I'm sure none of you elitist, perfectly color visioned (cough px cough queenie cough cough everybody in art class) people out there will understand this, but there are times in a man's life when he's so sleep-deprived, mentally exhausted, emotionally wrung out and just plain lacking in cones (but not rods) that dish-washing liquid looks more than a little like honey. And so it was one night that I bounded out of my chair to make myself a cup of honey water, and returned with a nice steaming cup of soap suds.

I would say that on the bright side my cup needed cleaning/at least I didn't fill it with bleach or something but let's face it -  there is no bright side to drinking soap. After spewing a mouthful of dishwashing liquid all over your worksheets, you've pretty much hit the pits right there.

What Honey and Dish-washing liquid look like to a normal person:


What Honey and Dish-washing liquid look like to a color-blind person:


5) When faced with the prospect of doing a 3000 word essay to be handed in tomorrow, and blogging, I will choose to blog instead.

It's currently 6:26 pm and I have not written a single word of an essay that I was supposed to have started writing at 10 am. Oh well.

(...to-be-continued-because-oh-crap-it's-6:26 pm-and-I-have-not-written-a-single-word-of-my-essay)

Friday, March 18, 2011

Unless you've been living under the rock that itself is living under a larger rock on the moon, chances are you've probably heard about the earthquake and nuclear crisis in Japan. Reading the news for the last few days has been heart rending. Never have I felt more strongly about helping out or more helpless to actually doing so. 

I doubt that many people still come here, but for those who do, and who wish to help, here's how you can (as taken from another website):

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Mercy Relief: The organisation is accepting donations to procure relief supplies. It has deployed a two-man preliminary disaster response team to Japan to ascertain ground needs and procure relief supplies.

The MR team will help distribute supplies with UN agencies. It will also collaborate with local non-governmental organisations to support their relief efforts. With an initial tranche of USD $20,000 provided by SAP Asia Pacific Japan, the team will help address the pressing needs for food, water and quilts.

For cheque donations, please make the cheque payable to Mercy Relief Limited and send it to the Mercy Relief office at Blk 160 Lorong 1 Toa Payoh #01-1568 Singapore 310160. On the back of the cheque, indicate ‘Japan Quake and Tsunami Relief’’.

Cash donations can also be made at the Mercy Relief office. Office hours are Monday-Friday, 9am - 7pm.

For ATM transfers/internet banking, Mercy Relief’s DBS Current Account is 054-900493-6

Credit card donations can be made via eNets at www.mercyrelief.org

Singapore Red Cross: The organisation has started a hotline (6334-9152 / 6334-9153 / 6334-9154) to help those in Singapore get in touch with relatives in Japan. The SRC will take down details of the missing person and forward the information on to its sister national society, the Japanese Red Cross Society and the International Committee of Red Cross. It is also working with the Japanese Association to raise funds.

For cheque donations, please make the cheque payable to Singapore Red Cross and mail to the SRC office at Red Cross House, 15 Penang Lane Singapore 238486. On the back of the cheque, indicate ‘Japan disaster 2011′.
Cash donations can also be made at the SRC office during office hours.

The public can also SMS “Red Cross” to 75772. Each message will cost $50. The SRC is also working with banks like DBS, OCBC and UOB, to allow donations through ATMs and the Internet.

World Vision Singapore: A World Vision assessment team has arrived in the quake zone to assess the needs of the survivors and prepare supplies and programmes for the homeless. The team brought baby supplies, warm clothing, food and daily necessities for distribution.

World Vision also plans to establish child-friendly spaces so children affected by the disasters can resume normal childhood activities and experience structure and security.

For cheque donations, please make the cheque payable to World Vision International and mail to the World Vision office at 750B Chai Chee Road, #03-02, Technopark @ Chai Chee, Singapore 469002. On the back of the cheque, indicate ‘Japan disaster’.

Cash donations can also be made at the World Vision office. Office hours are Monday-Friday, 9am – 5pm. You can donate online at http://www.worldvision.org.sg/japandisaster/

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If you don't have a credit card or know that you probably won't have time to do any of the above but want to donate nevertheless, just pass me the cash if or when you see me and I'll help you. Don't worry, I pinky promise not to use it to buy a gold plated toilet bowl. 

(Update: My laodi just told me he intends to donate the edusave and good improvement award money he earned last year. A grand total of 400 dollars. Here I am making CENSORED-BY-TLL dollars a month and the amount I intended to donate came nowhere close to that. Kudos to you Laodi, you put me to shame. Proud of you.)

Here's hoping then that those suffering from this calamity still find happiness and goodness and joy, no matter what form they might take or how small they might be.

Also, as an after note, I saw a note on facebook by someone named Jun Shiomitsu. He translated some of the posts about the disaster. Some of them were quite moving so I'm sharing them here:

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Japan Quake as Seen from Twitter (Translated by me so quality questionable)
by Jun Shiomitsu on Sunday, March 13, 2011 at 8:13am

At Tokyo Disneyland:
Tokyo Disneyland was handing out its shops’ food and drinks for free to the stranded people nearby. I saw a bunch of snobby looking highschool girls walking away with large portions of it and initially though “What the …” But I later I found out they were taking them to the families with little children at emergency evacuation areas. Very perceptive of them, and a very kind thing to do indeed.

At a congested downtown intersection
Cars were moving at the rate of maybe one every green light, but everyone was letting each other go first with a warm look and a smile. At a complicated intersection, the traffic was at a complete standstill for 5 minutes, but I listened for 10 minutes and didn’t hear a single beep or honk except for an occasional one thanking someone for giving way. It was a terrifying day, but scenes like this warmed me and made me love my country even more.

During the earthquake

We’ve all been trained to immediately open the doors and establish an escape route when there is an earthquake. In the middle of the quake while the building was shaking crazily and things falling everywhere, a man made his way to the entrance and held it open. Honestly, the chandelier could have crashed down any minute … that was a brave man!

Reminded of the goodness of the Japanese people
This earthquake has reminded me of that Japanese goodness that had recently become harder and harder to see. Today I see no crime or looting: I am reminded once again of the good Japanese spirit of helping one another, of propriety, and of gentleness. I had recently begun to regard my modern countrymen as cold people … but this earthquake has revived and given back to all of us the spirit of “kizuna” (bond, trust, sharing, the human connection). I am very touched. I am brought to tears.

Card board boxes, Thank you!
It was cold and I was getting very weary waiting forever for the train to come. Some homeless people saw me, gave me some of their own cardboard boxes and saying “you’ll be warmer if you sit on these!” I have always walked by homeless people pretending I didn’t see them, and yet here they were offering me warmth. Such warm people.

What foreigners are saying about Japanese people
At a supermarket where everything was scattered everywhere over the floors, shoppers were helping pick them up and putting them back neatly on the shelves before quietly moving into line to wait to pay for them. On the totally jam-packed first train after the quake, an elderly man gave up his seat for a pregnant woman. Foreigners have told me they are amazed witnessing sights like these. I do believe they actually saw what they said they saw. Japan is truly amazing.

Touch of art
I saw artists and painters trying to keep things upbeat by painting or drawing beautiful or encouraging drawings for the evacuees around them. I was touched at how everyone was doing their very best to help.

The bakery lady

There was a small bread shop on the street I take to go to school. It has long been out of business. But last night, I saw the old lady of the shop giving people her handmade bread for free. It was a heart-warming sight. She, like everyone else, was doing what she could to help people in a time of need. Tokyo isn’t that bad afterall!

Japan is a wonderful nation!
Both the government and the people, everyone is helping one another today. There are truck drivers helping evacuees move. I even heard that the “yakuza” (gangsters, organized crime groups) are helping to direct traffic in the Tohoku region! There have been many recent developments that have made me lose my sense of pride in my country, but not anymore. Japan is an amazing place! I’m just simply touched. Go Japan!

At the supermarket
I just came back safely from the supermarket! Man, I was so touched at how everyone there was mindful of others, buying only as much as they needed and leaving the rest for the people behind them.

“All of us”
I spoke with an old taxi driver and some elderly staff at the train stations. All of them had been working non-stop and had not been able to go home for a long time. They were visibly very tired, but never once did they show any sign of impatience; they were gentle and very caring. They told me “… because all of us are in this together.” I was touched at what the notion of “all of us” meant to these elderly people. It is a value I will treasure and carry on to my generation.

A strong voice

Yesterday, I was impressed and touched by the actions of my neighbor’s 13-year-old-boy. He was home alone when the earthquake hit. But instead of hiding, as soon as the earthquake quieted down, he jumped on his bicycle and road around the block repeatedly shouting at the top of his voice, “Is everyone alright? Is everyone okay?” At the time, there were only women and children and the elderly in the homes. I cannot describe how comforting it was just to hear a strong voice asking if I was okay. Thank you!

The beauty of helping one another
I went out last night to help some friends who were volunteering as security personnel between Machida City and Sagami Ohno City. I saw total strangers, both young and old, helping each other along everywhere I turned and was heartened with an overwhelming feeling of encouragement. I was so touched I hid behind the toilets and cried.

I just have a bike
I’m so touched! My colleague at my part time job, wanting to help even just one extra person, wrote a sign saying “I just have a bike, but if you don’t mind hop on!”, rode out on his motorbike, picked up a stranded construction worker and took him all the way to Tokorozawa! Respect! I have never felt so strongly that I want to do something helpful for others.

Rest here!

Last night, I decided, rather than stay at the office, I should try walking home. So I slowly made my way west on Koshu freeway on foot. It was around 9PM when I saw an office building that had a sign that said “Please use our office’s bathrooms! Please rest here!” The employees of the office were loudly shouting out the same to all the people trying to walk home. I was so touch I felt like crying. Well, I guess I was too tense yesterday to cry, but now the tension is wearing off and am very much in tears.

On the way to the emergency evacuation area
My oldest daughter was making her way to Yokohama’s emergency evacuation area. Total strangers were helping each other out and showing each other the way to the emergency evacuation area. She told me she was moved at how strangers, who can seem so cold at times, showed her kindness and care. I was reminded at the Japanese peoples’ inherent ability to immediately unite in the face of adversity. Today, I have discovered a newfound faith in my nation and my people.

A big, kind voice
I’ve been walking for many hours now. I’m touched at how everywhere I turn, there are shops open with people shouting “Please use our bathroom!” or “Please rest here!” There were also office buildings where people with access to information were voluntarily shouting out helpful tips, like “**** line is now operational!” Seeing things like this after walking for hours and hours made me feel like weeping with gratitude. Seriously, there is still hope for this country!

On the platform

The Oedo Subway Line for Hikarigaoka is very congested. On the platform and at the gate there are just crowds and crowds of people waiting for the train. But in all the confusion, every last person is neatly lined up waiting his or her turn while managing to keep a passage of space open for staff and people going the other way. Everyone is listening to the instructions from the staff and everyone acts accordingly. And amazingly … there isn’t even a rope or anything in sight to keep people in queue or open space for staff to pass, they just do! I am so impressed at this almost unnatural orderliness! I have nothing but praise for these people!

Station staff
I said to a Tokyometro station staff who was on all-night duty, “I’m sure it has been a tough night for you. Thank you.” He responded with a smile, “On a night like this, gladly!” I was touched.

Coffee
My husband finally got home very late last night after walking for 4 hours. He told me he felt like giving up at around Akabane, when an elderly man who was going around handing out free coffee saw him, gave him a steaming cup and said, “You must be tired and cold. Here, have some coffee!” My husband told me that it was because of this elderly man that he found the will and strength to continue walking. I’ve already heard this story from him five times tonight, so no doubt he was really, really touched! Thank you to my husband’s anonymous helper!

Not enough money!

At the store where I work, a huge group of young men suddenly came in to buy booze. One of them suddenly said, “Oops, I only have enough money to buy booze, I can’t donate! Forget the booze, maybe next time!” and instead put ALL his money into the disaster relief donation box. One by one, every single one of the army of youths threw all their money into the box after him. What a heart-warming sight that was!

Goth youth

A goth youth with white hair and body piercings walked into my store and shoved several hundred dollars (several tens of thousands of yen) into the disaster relief fund donation box. As he walked out, I and people around me heard him saying to his buddies, “I mean, we can buy those games anytime!” At that, we all opened our wallets and put our money into the donation box. Really, you cannot judge people by their appearances.

Same boat!

Last night, Aobadai station was jammed with stranded people unable to get home. But there were private cars with drivers shouting “If you’re going in the direction of ****, please hop on!” I was able to hitch a ride on one of them. When I thanked the driver, he replied “No worries! We’re all on the same boat. We have to stick together!”

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Sunday, March 13, 2011

It was a lazy Saturday afternoon, and with both parents in China and my brother at a scouts camp, I had the entire house to myself. Naturally I made a few calls to the Scam bros.

"Hey bros, I have the whole house to myself for the next three days. No adults around... No one to supervise us... Are you dudes thinking what I'm thinking...?"

"Hehehe..."


Five hours later:


Rather than the drug-fuelled, alcoholic rave party we were supposed to hold as respectable youths of our generation, we ended up belting out various Taylor Swift songs while dancing around the room in an accurate, yet probably disturbing imitation of 9 year old girls having a slumber party. The night is pretty much a blur of singing, yelling and ass shaking now, but I'm pretty sure there was crying at one point. And hugging. And a sobbing declaration of "I love you guys man". I won't say who. Ok it was me.

After the testosterone depleting activities of the night, we woke up determined to do something earth-shakingly manly the moment Royce and Waisum arrived - something so studly and savage that in the future legions of Lumberjacks and Sailors would look back at the paragons of Machosculinity (that's right, I just created a word) we became on that day and weep in inferiority.

Having come to this decision, we bumped our fists together, roared our agreement to the heavens, and then stomped into the kitchen to cook a nice, low fat meal.

Yup those are some manly, oyster-sauce wielding studs right there.

Manly, manly studs.

Ever conscious of the camera's eye, Royce catches the opportunity to strike a pose while the rest flail around in blind ignorance.

The power of eye power.
(It is probably worth mentioning that poor Ben got his hand burnt by a splash of hot oil while deep frying the pork. Get well soon Bencakes. )

I suppose some of you cynics are doubting the quality of our cooked food. "Pffft!" you think. "The Scam Boys can't possible be paragons of machosculinity (use it), Taylor Swift belting wannabe Pop Stars AND good/ok/you-probably-won't-need-charcoal-pills cooks! That would be just unfair!"

Tadaa.

Nic's Belachan Fried Rice

Royce's 宫保鸡丁 (gōng bǎo jī dīng)

Ohcy's Scrambled Eggs (oh laugh it up.)

Bencake's Sweet and Sour Pork

The whole meal!

The Scam Boys - Scammers Unrivaled, Chefs Extraordinaire, Horribly Slow Murderers with Extremely Inefficient Weapons

Royce admiring his Heavenly Meal.

Eating together as one big, happy, gender imbalanced family.

After our meal we jumped straight into a rip roaring session of Guitar Hero, strumming and yelling our hearts out to testosterone fueled classics from rock legends like Bon Jovi, Led Zeppelin and AC/DC.

Ok fine we sang Taylor Swift.

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Most of the time, teaching classes is quite a pleasure. I get to share fun facts, interact with children and command the only people who will probably still listen to me around. The marking may be a chore, but I generally look forward to the classes themselves. This was not the case when I was asked to take a Pri 5 science class on Reproduction. You see, drawing on my knowledge of what 11 year old kids are like, this was what I imagined the class would be like:

Me: "Good morning class, I'm Mr. Oh and today I will be teaching you all about Reproduction. Let's all be mature about this."

"..."

Boys: "PENISPENISPENISPENISPE-"

Girls: "EWWWWWWWWWWWWW"

Me: "Everyone keep quiet!!! Boys! Stop repeating that!!"

*momentary silence*

Boys: "VAGINAVAGINAVAGINAVAGINAVAG-"

Girls: "EWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW"

Me: *squats in one corner and cries*


Surprisingly though, while mildly chaotic, the actual lesson had none of the rampant chaos that had haunted my nightmares. There was plenty of eww-ing yes, but in general none of the boys said any of the words I had been expecting them to repeat like a Ben broken tape recorder. After a while I started to realise the only way I was going to hear the word from them was if one of them placed their pen on the floor and told me about it.

I refused to believe it at first though. "They're just putting it off." I thought to myself. "It's coming any second now." I would mutter. And all they would do was quietly listen to me with only a mild eww every now and then.

It was unnerving.

 



Eventually the tension got so bad I started to unhinge a little. On the surface I maintained the illusion of the dedicated teacher, but in my head I was screaming "JUST SHOUT PENIS ALREADY DAMNIT!" over and over again.

And that was just the lesson. You know how when you mark something (for all you teachers out there) you normally mutter the answers out loud while ticking? For example if someone is marking multiple choice you might find him muttering:

"ABCDCBDACAD-"

*flips to a new worksheet*

"ABCDCBDACAD-"

Likewise for the happy 30 minutes I took to mark their homework the people around me were entertained (or scandalized) by the repeated drone of:

"Penis, Testes, Sperm, Prostrate Gland, Ovaries, Fallopian Tube, Vagina, Oviduct...Penis, Testes-"

Not one of my prouder moments no.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Hi people.

For those who don't know, I have recently started something I like to call Writing Sunday as part of my mission to get more writing (duh) done. This basically means that I shall take some time each Sunday to write a little piece and upload it here. Whether or not I can sustain this is highly suspect, but wish me luck anyway. This isn't one of my Writing Sunday posts, but someone requested for me to post this so here it is, uploaded as requested.

Till next week, tata!


The Story of the Cake


Prologue:

“Let them eat cake.”
 - Marie Antoinette

Once upon a time, there was a Cake.

It was an extraordinarily beautiful cake. A Cake filled with heavenly spongy goodness shaped into a delicately carved cylinder, covered with icing so sweet, so divine, you’d lick it out of a plate, wash the plate and then drink the water used to wash said plate.

This is not the story of that Cake.

This is the story of that other Cake.

You know that tiny little kid at every school playground? You see him getting pushed around by all the bigger kids and spending every recess sitting by himself in a corner because no one wants to play with him. Now I’m not saying this other Cake is like that kid, I’m just implying it.

Let’s get on with the story then.


Chapter 1: 

“I tried to commit suicide by sticking my head in the oven, but there was a Cake in it.”
-Lesley Boone

Once upon a time four people decided to bake a Cake. Their names were Shiying, Lisa, Ohcy and Beck. Otherwise collectively known as SLOB. Now the SLOBs hadn’t just decided to bake a Cake for no reason, no, they were baking the Cake for a very special friend. No, not that kind of “special friend”. For convenience sake, let’s call this special friend He. Might be a little sexually confusing but I’m sure she He can deal with it.

And so the SLOBs went to Shiying’s house to bake this Cake, under the guidance of Master Chef Beck (a.k.a Bake Yong-Joon) and Lisa’s Cake Cookbook. The quest had not long begun however when crisis struck, for Chef Beck and the Lisa’s Cookbook would not agree on the correct recipe! The Cookbook called for Butter, But Beck Bet that Butter was not Better for the Baking Batter and insisted on a Butter-less Batter. (say that ten times real quick) Chef Beck stubbornly argued his case, but the Cookbook remained impassive to all of his passionate arguments, refusing to respond to any of Chef Beck’s tirades or change its recipe.

Eventually, the SLOBs voted to follow the recipes of Chef Beck, and ignore those of the Cookbook. The Cookbook refused to comment on their apparent mutiny and merely sulked in silence. You might think, dear reader, that with the Crisis of the Recipe settled, there should be no more obstacles to the SLOB’s Cake baking quest. Alas as all who have watched 大長今 know, trials and tribulations are but an hourly occurrence for the Korean Chef. Rusty whisks, eggs dripping on his sock, nonexistent baking materials - Chef Beck and his motley crew conquered all of these calamities, and more. No baking tin? Use an old pot! No baking paper? Use margarine! Sock covered in egg yolk? Wash it and-

Wait, that part comes later.

Chef Beck decreed that we should separate the egg yolks and the egg whites, and then promptly demonstrated the wrong way of doing it (thereby dripping egg on his sock) so that we would not repeat the same mistakes. We bow in awe of Chef Beck’s wisdom. Distracted by the resulting bowl of unseparated egg yolks and egg whites, Ohcy proceeded to celebrate their loving commitment to each other by roasting them together in a fiery inferno.

 Their morale greatly boosted by the scrambled eggs, the SLOBs proceeded to whip out their forks and whisks and take a master class from Chef Becks titled “How to Beat the Shit out of Eggs and Flour”*. Sadly due to a miscalculation from Ohcy’s iPhone units converter app (my bad) they ended up using three times as much flour as they were supposed to. The resulting mixture looked less like something they had beaten the crap out of than the crap that might have beaten out of something. And so they condemned it to the dustbin.**

*Rule #1 – You can’t have your Cake and not beat it.

**Ohcy however once again decided it would be a waste of materials to just dump it and thus added more eggs, milk, butter, margarine, water, sugar, spice and everything nice into the mixture and tried to make muffins with it. The resulting baked concoction was hard as a rock on the outside, mushy on the inside and tasted purely of egg. We called them “Eggs in a Cup”.

With the first attempt now deemed a failure, the SLOBs started on their second Cake, which, under their combined efforts, actually made it past the preparation phase into the baking phase.

 
Chapter 2:

“Let's face it, a nice creamy chocolate Cake does a lot for a lot of people; it does for me.”
- Audrey Hepburn

It was only until the Fellowship of the Cake had decreed that the Cake was ready to undergo it’s metamorphosis into a beautiful butterfly, that it was realized that the Oven of Doom had yet to be preheated.

“No!!” moaned Chef Frodo Beck-ins. “How art we to bake the Cake, if the oven is not heated yet? The bubbles will be lost if we wait too many moons! The bubbles!!!”

“Oh no!” cried Legolisa.

“Heavens forbid!”  shouted Shiyimli.

Chillax lar. Just throw it in. She He won’t mind.” drawled Saruyang.

And so they rushed to preheat the oven, but upon touching the shiny metal contraption they were thrown back by a bolt of lightning. Well, if a bolt of lightning felt like a buzz shock and made you go “Ow”. Yes, the baking gods weren’t satisfied with the mockery of baking we were performing, and were showing their displeasure by turning the oven into a giant version of a prank hand buzzer.

Eventually, Chef Becks decided that, heated oven or not, he could not afford to let any more bubbles escape from the Cake, and thus opened the door with a mighty yell of defiance to the baking gods (“Ow”) and threw the Cake in.

With the Cake (and the so-called-muffins) baking in the oven, the SLOBs had a while to relax and enjoy the amazing vista of Shiying’s kitchen wall. Lisa, Shiying and Ohcy occupied themselves with a rousing game of Wheel-of-Fortune on Ohcy’s iPhone, while Chef Beck stared into the depths of the oven and bitterly moaned every few seconds that the Cake wasn’t rising evenly but was sagging at some places. There’s a joke in here somewhere.

Soon enough, Chef Beck decided that it was time to extricate the One Cake from the Fiery Depths of Oven Doom. With another cry of defiance he opened the Electrical Deathtrap and retrieved the Cake (and the so-called-muffins). It was done. The quest was ended, the task was finished, the Cake was baked. And so Chef Beck cut around the sides of the Cake and proceeded to pull it out of the pot.

Except he could not.

What followed next was an orgy of smashing, whacking, pounding, slicing and crying that no man should have to witness. And the Cake still clung to the bottom of the pot like it had been welded to it. Eventually, Ohcy shoved a spatula down the sides and under the Cake, forcefully carving it out.

“The Cake is free! The Cake is free! Freedom for all!” they cried, as they danced a victory dance. Overcome with elation, Chef Beck ran to wash his sock, for as all know you can’t celebrate properly with an egg covered sock. Upon returning with his soggy (but clean) sock, Chef Beck proceeded to dry his sock in a highly efficient manner, by which I mean he threw it into the oven.

Withdrawing his sizzling sock (that almost sounds edible) at Shiying’s cry of horror, Chef Beck threw it back into his bag and went back to complete the Cake. Eyes tearing with joy as he gazed at their wondrous creation, he started to cut the Cake in half to add a middle layer of strawberries to it. At this critical juncture though, stress overcome him and he had to appoint Lisa as the official Cake cutter. A few minutes later, she split open the Cake with a final cut, and Chef Beck spread a strawberry mix over it.

Or he would have, had the Cake been fully cooked.

And so they gazed at the half cooked insides of the Cake, and wept.


Chapter 3:

“You know you're getting old when the candles cost more than the Cake.”
- Bob Hope


It was the lack of a Cake tin, Chef Beck decided. The sides of the pot were too thick, thus the Cake would not heat up quick enough. And so they sojourned to the House of Oh, where it was said the mythical Cake tin might be found. Mounting a Super Big Steed named 157, they raced to the Legendary Hill of Braddell and made the terrifying climb to the top.

Upon reaching Ohcy’s kitchen, they immediately began on the third Cake, beating the eggs, whisking the mix and cooking the strawberries with the calm efficiency and telepathy of a team that has stared death and half-cooked Cake in the face. Within a mere 50 minutes they had the Cake fully baked and the strawberry mix safely cooling in the freezer.

Though SLOB’s epic quest had yet to be fully completed, the Cake had been Baked and the quest was almost done. It was not a Perfect Cake. It may not even have been a Good Cake, but it was a Cake nonetheless. But alas, Just a Cake was not acceptable to Chef Beck and he sunk into a deep depression.

“I have no part in this cake! No part! You better not tell He that I helped to make it! (oops)” he moaned, before staring vacantly at the less than Perfect Cake.

It seemed for a moment that he was about to suggest baking a new cake, but the rest of the Fellowship of decided that their quest was done. Their bones were weary, their souls were scarred and they had come far enough. Plus you know, dinner was calling. And so the Fellowship left the Cake to Ohcy, for the cutting of the cake and the spreading of the strawberry mix.

With a final farewell to each other, these noble compatriots parted at last, each knowing that though their Quest had (kind of) ended, their bonds of Fellowship never would.

Thus ends, the Story of the Cake.

Or is it?


Epilogue:

“You threw your SOCK, in my OVEN? I don’t want sock-flavored pastries!!”
 - Shiying

Ohcy:

“The SLOBs have left, and I am all that remains in the kitchen. Carefully, I cut the sides of the cake and pry it out of the cake tin. Moving the cake tin to one side, I slice the cake in half with a quick swipe of my butter knife katana, and place the bottom half of the cake back in the cake tin so that I can spread the strawberry mix over it.”

Ohcy’s maid:

“Aiyar, that does not even look like a cake. I thought cake supposed to be round one. Luckily they never make big mess in the kitchen. Oh, he removing the cake from the cake tin, I can finally wash it. Hmm, I better fill it with water first and  let it soak. La la la. Hahaha, that idiot wielding his butter knife like it’s a samurai sword. He think he Ken Watanabe is it. So many dishes tonight sia. Eh? Why he putting the cake back in the cake tin? I just filled it with wate-”


The End