Kids’ books

You can never go back – on loving children’s books as an adult, says

Handy found a means to circumvent the social inconvenience of haunting library kid’s sections, though: having kids of his own.

this, while a pretty good reason to have kids, seems to be extending social inconvenience to an inconvenience that permeates all aspects of life. I’d rather haunt the children’s section alone like a creepy stalker, thanks very much. Most people probably do assume I am checking out books for my kids. I don’t know why so many people (particularly in church or family) seem to be overly interested in our offspring. Someone recently mistook an instagram post for a baby announcement. Most friends who know us know how anti-natalist we are and would never assume such a thing. So there is a clear divide between our close friends and all the other people who are the instagram audience and two different things are being communicated all the time.

I’ve recently started reading One More Thing, by B.J. Novak – it got off to a slow start with an alternative hare and rabbit tale (I am not a fan of fables, with all their moralizing) but got subsequently much better with “‘The Something’ by John Grisham” in which one of John Grisham’s books mistakenly gets released with the publisher thinking that ‘The Something’ was the title he wanted instead of just a placeholder for his typical lofty titles, which he hadn’t had time to come up with yet. John Grisham found out that his book ‘The Something’ was number one on best seller lists in his newspaper and shit hit the fan :P Almost Simon Rich-esque. Harvard must be doing something right.

Been too lazy/busy to start on christmas cards (and I really should, if I want to send them out at all) – instead I’ve been busy making luggage tags with Japanese maple leaves and my new Amazon Basics laminator. I looked up whether or not I could relaminate something (that had little air pockets) twice and this forum that told me I could (and I did) also informs on how laminating machines are not allowed in schools without excessive checks and then devolved completely into a principal bitchfest. “Is your principal my principal? Because…”

In other news, made 12 inarizushi today with a little packet of onigiri spices I brought back from Japan (you just mix it into the rice with sushi rice vinegar etc.) and tuna mayonnaise in the middle and inhaled like 10 of them throughout the course of the day. Got a huge inari craving yesterday while we were at uwajimaya. I’m all out of sushi vinegar though so can’t get my next fix until we go to the asian supermarket.

The ending of the article:

Handy ends his survey of child lit with E.B. White, whose terse brilliance has yet to be surpassed; he was similarly successful at writing for adults. The grand tear-jerking finale of Charlotte’s Web is technically the spider’s quiet death, but I’ve always struggled most with Fern’s declining interest in Wilbur the pig’s survival. She’s grown too invested in riding the Ferris wheel with a boy named Henry Fussy. White “doesn’t condemn her for it,” Handy notices approvingly, since “Fern’s interest in boys is as natural and inevitable as the change of seasons.” White doesn’t wish to stunt his heroine’s growth like other children’s authors might (C.S. Lewis infamously shamed Susan Pevensie for leaving Narnia behind in favor of lipstick and nylons when she came of age).

I understand Fern’s falling for Henry Fussy. I’ve fallen for more than a few Henry Fussys myself. But her abandonment of unsuspecting Wilbur still hurts me in a way a Henry type never could. I guess it’s the ache of innocence—the kind of ache that doesn’t have anything to do with lust or greed or any dark desire, but with deep-seated childhood fears. I don’t want Fern to leave Wilbur behind, because I feel as though she’s leaving me, moving on from our days of lounging in the barn amongst earthy smells, two lazy friends sat in the sun. At the same time, I know that I am Fern, and I’ve abandoned Wilbur a hundred times over, following the same societal and biological pull of romance and progress. I’ll probably be torn between the two all my life. Maybe everyone is.

Huh. I’d never thought of Lewis’ portrayal of Susan Pevensie as “shaming” but now that I think about it, that’s exactly what it is. I did feel a veneer of disdain toward her while reading the series. Omg all these children’s authors are just playing with my mind.


More shouts and murmurs

1. An Imagined Date Between Two Straight Men
LOL. This is EXACTLY how I would have written it.

Matt: It’s nice to finally meet you! I like your flannel shirt that smells like whatever soup you had for lunch.

The banal conversation and the fake feminism.


lol. I guess we can agree on one thing. I wonder if this is what all married women fantasize about. Their husbands running off with another man and leaving them well alone.

I mean, I am in several Whatsapp conversations with exactly two other heterosexual (or so I’m led to believe) men and it’s really quite accurate! Especially the Cards Against Humanity obsession. My heterosexual men are not so poncey as to discuss the postmodern condition or to call things “Kafkaesque” though.

2. Valentine’s Day word problems
Ah, I was falsely led to believe that it would be problems to do with words, like anagrams or some such thing. I forget that K-12 teachers here inexplicably like to call math problems ‘word problems’.

6. A friend sets you up with one of her co-workers on a blind date, on Valentine’s Day. At dinner, your date insists it’s important that “we give President Trump a chance.” If your youngest sibling is five years younger than you and is about to celebrate her second wedding anniversary in three weeks, how important is it that a couple has so much in common, really?

3. People more difficult to break up with than your SO

4. Classic Rom-coms Rewritten for Trump’s America
This makes me feel like rewatching all of them! It’s been more than a decade since I went on my romcom binge in rgs. To watch: Clueless, You’ve Got Mail, Maid in Manhattan, Reality Bites (have not watched?), Obvious Child, Casablanca, Kate and Leopold, Annie Hall, The Lake House. Well, maybe not Lake House.

5. The Kama-Sutra for Married Couples
As always, Simon Rich is gold.

6. The Cheater’s Guide to Love

7. Books just for grown-ups, with cute interactive shelf!

8. A Singaporean love story in civil servant speak
omg… “Irregardless”… the whole thing was so painful.

9. OMG This is me to a tee!

For years, I resented any recipe that called for tomato paste. It wasn’t the flavor of the paste itself, which I’ve always been fond of, or even my erroneous suspicion that its impact on finished dishes was overrated. Rather, it was the sight of yet another full can (less one or two tablespoons at most) joining its half-used predecessors in the back of my refrigerator, an elephants’ graveyard of forgotten tomato pastes in various states of decay.

Finally, a cute comic by Adam Ellis:
No automatic alt text available.

Links 2

Mainly for my own remembrance
1. Well people are actually moving to Canada

Also, a company called True North has sprung up overnight, in Vancouver, to take advantage of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to start poaching some of our top technology talent.

“Got U.S. visa worries?” the company’s website goads. “The solution is True North. We make it simple for you to immediately gain the necessary paperwork to set up a Canadian work and residency status similar to what you have in the US, so that you avoid disruptions or uncertainty relating to changing U.S. visa regulations.”

2. How the kiwi descended from the chinese gooseberry

It all began in 1904, when Mary Isabel Fraser, the principal of an all-girls school, brought back some Chinese gooseberry seeds from China. They were then given to a farmer named Alexander Allison who, planted them in his farm near the riverine town of Whanganui. The trees went on to bear their first fruit in 1910.

But, as luck would have it, neither the British nor the American attempt at commercializing the fruit was as fruitful. For example, the first batch of seeds brought to Britain’s Veitch Nursery all produced male plants, thwarting the growers’ plans to produce edible fruit. The same fate befell the U.S. government’s attempt. “It seems ironic that the sending of seed by a missionary to an amateur gardener should eventually lead to a new horticultural industry, when the efforts of the Veitch Nursery and the U.S. Department of Agriculture were so much less successful,” Ferguson remarked in his 1983 essay.

The gooseberry’s rebranding didn’t happen until almost 50 years after Allison’s trees bore fruit, according to New Zealand’s official history, when agricultural exporter Turners & Growers started calling their U.S.-bound Chinese gooseberries “kiwifruits” on June 15, 1959.

The fruit’s importer told Turners & Growers that the Chinese gooseberry needed a new name to be commercially viable stateside, to avoid negative connotations of “gooseberries,” which weren’t particularly popular. After passing over another proposed name, melonette, it was finally decided to name the furry, brown fruit after New Zealand’s furry, brown, flightless national bird. It also helped that Kiwis had become the colloquial term for New Zealanders by the time.

Huh. I thought it was at least hybridized or something but it looks like they took it wholesale!

3. On Puzder as labor secretary

A bit whingy and over-emotional/irrational. Like, if for the first 5 years of your job you hardly see any raises or anything wouldn’t you go looking elsewhere? Why would you let your career continue in the same trajectory? But yes, I see your point.

4. Jake Tapper grills Kellyanne Conway on Trump’s Lies

5. The dishes of different dialect groups each chinese new year
Thought the hainanese chicken rice with creamy mushroom and chicken sauce was quite weird haha. I always felt chicken rice was a 清 dish though, having a gloppy sauce is a bit weird.

6. On Emily Temple-Wood, the wikipedia editor who fought back online misogynist trolls by adding articles about underrepresented and unknown female scientists every time she received a threat or insult. People -.- Should learn that their personal insecurities are not a woman’s problem to solve.

7. This picture is me at any social gathering involving more than 4 people (including Z)

8. Flight Attendant Quietly Informs First Class Passengers Where Real Emergency Exits Are


Used to do this quite often last time when I was very free to surf all the weird and wonderful links on fb.
Have been having trouble sleeping recently so here’s what I have been reading (in addition to watching Sens. Warren and Sander’s videos on fb)

1. This gecko sheds his scales to get away from predators – why, I’m not sure how it helps. Oh, apparently its predators grab onto it via its scales, so it’s akin to criminals shedding their coats when they are grabbed by law enforcement officials. They also have some freaking humongous scales! More like a pangolin than a gecko.

2. New Yorker mockery of hygge

I sit under a thick, lumpy blanket with my new book about hygge and light the “cabin-scented” candle I got from my office Secret Santa, Gail. Is this hygge?

The candle smells more like new rain boots than like a cozy cabin, so I put it out, cupping my hand around the flame and blowing slowly, savoring this moment of domestic defeat. I pull on another pair of socks. I think this is hygge.


My hygge book doesn’t say anything about not looking at screens, but it feels implied. I should Google it.

I open a fifteenth tab about Laura Linney. I don’t know how I got here, but I embrace the journey.

I love Laura Linney too! Especially her accent.

3. And since I am really missing the chowder at Skipjacks, I suppose I should try Kenji’s New England Clam Chowder recipe pretty soon. It’s just not the same as Seattle clam chowder, as our recent visit back to New York confirmed.


4. Why yes I would like a greasy soulless valentine’s day menu. Screw the champagne and the chocolate covered strawberries, those pepperoni garlic knots are definitely what we’re going to do.

5. On Republicans silencing my favorite senator and well, now everybody’s gonna hear about Coretta Scott King’s letter. I gotta say though, with Betsy Devos being confirmed I can’t help but be convinced that majority of the senate republicans are a bunch of wusses with little to no regard for the competencies and ethics of the people they are handing influence on a platter.

6. China’s oldest newborn teenager – well the jury’s still out on having children but it’s nice to know technology allows you to do it when you’re in the middle of a mid-life crisis.

7. Sherlock Holmes and the Massacre at Bowling Green. Well. The title speaks for itself :P

He handed me a dusty photograph featuring a rather tall man reminiscent of the orangutan in “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” and a blond woman with a somewhat vacuous expression.

“Is she on the left?” I asked, peering at the crumpled image.

“The far right,” responded Holmes. “Oh, you mean in the photograph. Yes, that’s her.”


“What was it that she said again?”

“ ‘I bet it’s brand new information to people that President Obama had a six-month ban on the Iraqi-refugee program after two Iraqis came here to this country, were radicalized, and were the masterminds behind the Bowling Green massacre. Most people don’t know that because it didn’t get covered.’ ”

“Goodness. She’s not a very eloquent speaker, is she?”

“My dear Watson, the woman just witnessed a horrifying event all by herself. Of course her words were not so well selected. She is obviously in shock.”

lolol this story is gold everyone has to read it.

8. Kenji’s recipe for extra flaky scallion pancakes, since I have not had any good ones here yet. The hot water dough sounds easy enough to make, and I thought it was cute how he got inspiration from Yan can cook. We all used to watch that as children in sg! I think it was on free-to-air. There’s no telling what you pick up from your upbringing that will psychologically impact the way you cook and live.

9. In which the internetz discusses Obama’s snapback fashion choices and the reality that he’s not coming back

10. Long-ish NYer article about losing things. Very me.

23 December 2016 – Snorkeling on Rose Island

Went snorkeling today!!! On the huge reef at Rose Island. There were about 3 private charter boats there too, so you know that place is really worth snorkeling. We paid about $84 each (with a promo code) for the Sandy Toes tour which included a buffet lunch and a boat ride to and from Rose Island from the Paradise Island Ferry Terminal.

Everything on Paradise Island is overpriced, including parking. Like we frequently manage to park for free in downtown Nassau, things are pretty badly regulated and unmonetized there. The Atlantis employee parking garage costs someting like $17 for a full day of parking, which I suppose is not unreasonable. But we found the lot opposite RIU that cost only $5/day and felt pretty damn smug about that.

The snorkeling was amazing, and the snorkels we got from Amazon are amazing! You can literally stay face down on the water indefinitely quite comfortably! We went in with just our prescription goggles and the snorkel, no fins or like snorkel mask or life jacket. Swallowed a hell lotta salt water but it was totally worth it. The two best fish of the day we saw was the grey angelfish and the queen triggerfish, which can apparently change its color depending on its mood and how much it feels aggressed. It’s one of the largest triggerfishes that one is unlikely to see in a marine aquarium because it’s also highly aggressive and eats almost everything else.

Its diet consists of invertebrates. In aquariums shrimp, squid, clams, octopus, scallops, and crab are all good choices of food.

According to wikipedia. I also want to be a queen triggerfish. Man, we had such good lotus root flour battered calamari at Saigon Kitchen the other day.

The pictures were… not great because we were shooting blind. All the refraction from the water to the camera case ensured pretty much that I couldn’t see what I was shooting, so I just aimed randomly. Will add some to the post if and when they get uploaded.

Oh yeah the woman at the parking garage told us “You have a beautiful family” lol. I think they think maybe Chris and Rich adopted us. Are most people who travel to Nassau in families? Or is it being in the same car that makes you a family? In which case I am families with very many people. This reminds me of Shim Cheong’s misconception about marriage way back in episode 3 or 4 of Legends. Anyway yesterday Chris almost gained a new husband, today she gained a son. The tour guide on the boat to Rose Island told everyone else on the boat (there were about 50 of us) that Chris was his mother. He was named Chris too, so he told the whole boat she named him after herself :P And he was Bahamian, so his skin tone was quite a few shades darker. He looked at her and told everyone “it took me ten years of giving this tour under the hot sun to look like this” lol. Then she introduced him to his sister (me), who is a totally different color altogether and told him “as you can see, I have an errant past!” lol. He gave me a hug and it was so cute we should have taken a “family” pic.

While we we were snorkeling, the other guide, JU, handed me a huge orange starfish the size of a neck pillow. I shot a few pics of it in his hand and later tried to pass it to Z so I could shoot Z holding it. At the same time JU was swimming to Z to pass him a smaller starfish to see and Z kept signalling “no no no” in the water because he was frightened (of the both of us handing him the starfish). I heard JU snort in laughter beneath his mask and then he surfaced and gave a real loud belly laugh. “He’s scary! A scary cat!” (He meant scaredy lol but maybe their accent makes it come out as ‘scary’) “Who’s scared of a starfish?? A starfish ain’t no gonna bitechu?!?!” lol! Then he told everyone on the boat Z was afraid of a starfish lololol I was so amused. Z was not and said we were both mean people hahah.

22 December 2016 – Food tour

Since I am quite behind on my journalling I am going to put some key highlights here to help my foggy memory later:

Today the Carl’s Jr wait staff mistook me for Chris’ daughter and she was so pleased :P She asked the waitress for the order number and the waitress told her “I gave it to your daughter” and she raised her eyebrows and was SO happy when she was telling us all about it.  I told her I must be starting to look more and more like her :P

We managed to get the car exchanged today for an even older one (same model – Suzuki Swift), but one whose door locks and internal light works. The hood of the car has had its paint scuffed off in two places, so when we got out of the Carl’s Jr, Rich tapped the “bald” spots and said “This car is new. It doesn’t even have paint on yet.” in his wry, Rich-y way that is so adorable.

We told them about how we used to sneak Carl’s Jr burgers into the cinema in empty popcorn boxes and they had a good laugh. Also about how all the Carl’s Jr in Singapore are all in very central areas and does good business, even though if I had a choice the first fast food chains I would be bringing in would be more like Chick Fil-A or In-and-Out. Chris said looking at the Carl’s Jr logo it’s likely under the same family as Hardee’s and she’s totally right! I just looked it up! They have the same star and the same font.

Chris found a piece of coral and a piece of sponge on Love Beach today and said she was gonna make it into a necklace. I took them and used them to scare Ze and Rich had a good laugh. Chris said “Yes. A highly revered army lieutenant, scared of coral..” :P we’re gonna have a good time snorkeling tomorrow. Z tested the snorkels and verified that they didn’t let water in.

My phone died after being submerged in the sea water and Z tried to take a pic. So much for the rubber seal. Give me a break. The funniest part is we intentionally put it in the water to see if it could take photos. Lame shit.

Ooh, we went to John Watling’s Distillery and had a hilarious tour by the tour guide. Apparently John Watling was a pirate (not a distiller) and he was killed by a gunshot to the liver. So they named the rum distillery after him because “if you drink too much rum, it shoots straight to your liver and you die.” That’s such a great reason to name something after someone!

Chris also got proposed to today by the owner of the Rum cake shop. She went in, wanted to know something about the production process and the owner (a British guy, it seems) said it was highly secretive and he spent a long time fine tuning it. “If you want in on the secret you’d have to marry me. How about it?”
“Is there any other way to find out?”
“It all depends. How keen are you? I’m old, I’m broke, and I am quite frequently grumpy.”
Old people flirting are SO cute. gosh. She’s so good at talking to anyone and everyone, even the people beside her on the plane to Nassau, she talked to them the entire plane ride.


While I spend several posts going over the stupid things people say on facebook, I thought it would be worthwhile to highlight one intelligent comment R made today, which is especially pertinent for many of my friends who love to share articles that advocate for certain lifestyles or modes of governance.

In an age of social media disinformation can we please point out inaccuracies where we see them and not just blithely share articles? Gives them the imprimatur of legitimacy especially when someone who should be in the know about these things doesn’t say anything.

It takes a lot more effort to filter the things you share comprehensively, and most of my smarter (and more diligent) friends tend to not share anything altogether because they want to share responsibly and only give the full picture instead of propagating any particular bias. The article in question was a Fox News article on ditching Obamacare.

Recently I called out my own MIL (privately, of course), for sharing this other article on being early for things. She adores punctuality in general and very much prefers it when people are early. Z has this aunt XX however who is always late for things (she’s my favourite aunt haha). I am somewhat ambivalent but I do hate it when people are unapologetically and dramatically late (like say 30 mins – 2 hrs) because they subconsciously send the message that their time is more important than yours. So one day while we were driving someplace Z’s mum actually remarked “XX is always late. I don’t understand how she still has so many friends.” and I was utterly shocked at that ridiculous statement. Hands up all of you who make friends with other people because of punctuality. Wow. Just trying to give context as to how obsessive she is with this, to the extent that she even posts articles like the one above encouraging people to be early to things.

I don’t normally read stuff she shares (or any sort of moralizing type article) on fb because they are 1. uneducational, 2. have low entertainment value but I was checking her feed because she complained that they made the font bigger for one of her status updates (and she dislikes attention being directed to her in any overt way).

I disliked the article she shared because the writer was so obviously self-righteous about being early to things (“To my knowledge, none of my blood relations has ever missed a plane.” lol. Z says she must be indirectly sniping her husband/wife) and also seems to utilize her punctuality as a way to assert dominance – “Being early makes you feel in control — or makes others think you are in control, which is the next best thing.” It would be one thing if she wrote that it makes herself feel as if she is in control, which is fine and good, but when you advocate being early for things so that you can play mind games with people? That would be okay for perhaps many other people but certainly NOT a pastor’s wife.

Other choice gobbets:

But my favourite lesson from Lunch with the FT cuttings comes from Stephen Green, then head of HSBC. He turned up three minutes early for the meeting and apologised for being late. This is a stroke of genius. It forces the other person, who had been occupying the moral high ground by dint of getting there even earlier, to pull out his watch and protest that, on the contrary, the new arrival is early too.

The writer is batshit crazy! She’s got some serious neuroses going on! I mean, can’t you at least read through the entire article before sharing it? It actually says

(Being early) gives you the moral high ground. If you arrive first at a meeting, not only do you choose where to sit, you are also in a position to lord it over those arriving later.

So my question to her was – do you actually lord it over other people just because you are early to something? Are you advocating that people who are early get to lord it over other people? Simisai moral highground. What a crock.

So that was one example of an article being blithely shared, without the sharer reading through it herself or fully understanding all its implications. I expect any educated person who shares articles to at least read through them and make sure it makes sense. Most people, I wouldn’t bother calling out but my MIL has got a perfectly fine education and is not stupid. I told her she should write her own opinions clearly instead of just hiding behind some article that only roughly (and very tangentially) shares the same opinions as her. The only reason she expresses herself badly is because she doesn’t express herself enough to have had any practice at all.

Just to be clear, I have nothing against fluffy silly articles being shared, I glory in Buzzfeed listicles and all the Shanghaiist and George Takei fluff :P But those aren’t (overtly) trying to change people for the better or anything. If you are trying to get me (or anyone else) to change their lifestyle or decision-making algorithms then you’d better have some strong arguments going for you instead of anecdotal bs like

Earliness is the defining characteristic of my entire family. Both my parents were wildly early for everything. All three of their children and all 10 grandchildren — even when in the throes of assorted teenage phases — could always be relied upon to pitch up with bags of time to spare for any given occasion.

Cut it out with the self-righteousness already. So you were early to your appointment today?

come i clap for you - come i clap for you  Misc