Lilypie First Birthday tickers

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Friday, August 31, 2007

Singaporean leh!!

Headlines on New York Times online:

A Singaporean doing the most Singaporean thing to do! :D :D

and note: the article is written by Steve Lorrr!! :D :D ROFL

Who's with Gwyneth? The Google Guy

Tan Chade-Meng, with, clockwise from top left, ex-Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright; Muhammad Ali, the boxer; the newscaster Tom Brokaw; and the actor Robin Williams.

Published: September 1, 2007

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. — The gallery of photos lining a hallway at Google’s headquarters here is filled with the faces of luminaries who have visited the company: Mikhail Gorbachev, Bill Clinton, the Dalai Lama, Muhammad Ali and Jane Fonda.

And in each of the more than 100 pictures, there is someone else: Tan Chade-Meng, a geeky fellow with a big smile who is a household name only in his own household.

Mr. Tan is a 37-year-old engineer at Google, and his initial chutzpah, his quirky workplace and a steady stream of distinguished visitors have turned him into the company’s in-house Zelig.

The visitors are often there to get a glimpse of the future in progress, and perhaps something to drop into conversation that suggests an advanced I.Q.: “When I was out at Google the other day...”

They end up getting a moment with Mr. Tan as well, and Mr. Tan gets another photo for his growing gallery.

At first, Mr. Tan had to work for his pictures. One day in 2003 he saw several police cars at the Google campus and muscular men in dark suits and sunglasses patrolling the hallways.

His interest piqued, Mr. Tan hustled down to the lobby and “waited for someone famous to come by,” he said. It turned out to be Jimmy Carter. The resulting photo and another of Mr. Tan with Al Gore went up on the wall outside his office.

Soon, no celebrity could visit Google without a “Meng” photo op — as in “Where’s Meng? You’ve got to get your picture taken with Meng.”

Mr. Tan, his photo gallery and the company’s endorsement of his little side project, said Eric Schmidt, the company’s chief executive, are “representative of much of what is right and fun about Google.”

At Google, Mr. Tan has a reputation as a top-flight engineer. But he is also known for his fondness for one-liners and for being a regular contributor to the company’s online humor groups. The job title on his business card reads: “Jolly Good Fellow (which nobody can deny).”

“In my free time, I do engineering,” he said.

Mr. Tan gets tips by e-mail or phone a few days before a famous person arrives. No one has turned him down yet.

It is an eclectic group. Colin Powell, the hippie activist Wavy Gravy, John McCain, Hillary Clinton, Gwyneth Paltrow, Robin Williams, Jane Goodall, Tom Brokaw, George Soros and James D. Watson, the co-discoverer of the structure of DNA, have all posed with Mr. Tan.

Mostly the guests appear to be good sports about it. A few, including Mr. Clinton and Chris Rock, the comedian, have even come to his small office for their moment in the spotlight.

Some drape an arm around Mr. Tan. He and Ken Thompson, a creator of the Unix operating system, hold plastic pink flamingoes. (The photos are online at

Mr. Tan is not a stickler for photographic technique. He uses an inexpensive digital camera, and the photos, he said, are shot by “random people who walk by.” Larry Page, the multibillionaire co-founder of Google, has snapped a few.

Mr. Tan, typically dressed in a sweatshirt or Google T-shirt, beams at the camera with a toothy, ear-to-ear grin that some colleagues good-naturedly call his Bugs Bunny smile. His regular brushes with fame have apparently not gone to his head.

“I’m just some guy at Google,” he said.


Aside to family, doesn't he look like Uncle Freddy??!

Thursday, August 30, 2007

30 Years Young

I hit the 'big' 3-0 this year.

Awkward teenage years and youthful twenties behind me now, I wonder what life will be like in my 30s.

Dave Barry says he grows steadily older each year without ever reaching maturity. Of course he's just the funniest bloke around, but I wonder if I've managed to mature even proportionately with my years.

Let's not even talk about wise. Wise is for the old.

Actually, I'm fairly grateful that I was born somewhere somehow I am not sold as a child-bride or into slavery; or into any one of the horrific circumstances of extreme poverty and hunger, or cultures with female oppression and genital mutilations.

In fact, at 30, I am blessed with wonderful people in my life - friends and family, and my husband, who puts, above everything else, our happiness together :)

I am physically healthy, emotionally fulfilled, and mentally least that's what I think.

Contentedness is underrated - especially at an age so young ;D


Did I have a happy birthday? Find out here! and here! and here!

And Happy Birthday to all my friends turning/turned 30 this year too!

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Hubs and I decided on whim Thursday evening to spend a day diving at Casino Point, Catalina island. So we packed our diving stuff and lunch and got up at 4.30am the next morning to catch the ferry.

I'm always lazy with dive reports, but here's hubby's :D

or if you just wanna look at the photos -


Also, we finally got ourselves a sturdy rack to hang/store our loads of scuba gear!!! This made me so so so SO HAPPY!!

Unfortunately when two bungling handymen try to put poles and parts together, we can guarantee ourselves an accident.

I absentmindedly let slip one of the poles and it fell and hit Hubs on the forehead with a resounding 'gong'. OWWW!! :-o


It nicked him just above the nose and drew a little blood. We wiped it clean and he wanted a plaster (a.k.a. Band-Aid) on it - the biggest one we had.

He's okay but growled at me for a little bit after that :( sorry sweetie...

Anyway, he's off to a Hawaiian-themed BBQ party with the underwater photographer's society now. He will be fine and even forget about the biggest-plaster-on-the-forehead if no one has the heart or curiosity to point it out to him at the party.

I finish assembling the rack and put things to where they belong, at least some of it..

Ah! such satisfaction to finally have decent storage for our gear, so I can stop stressing about things lying about. Let's have some order in the house, ORDER IN THE HOUSE PLEASE!!


speaking of Hawaii, we're going to Maui next month!! YaaaaYYYY!!!!!

Friday, August 24, 2007


This morning, perhaps delirious from a short night of sleep, my mind was racing with a dozen out-of-the-blue thoughts. One of which held my mind's attention for a significant while.

This is Xueli - it means pretty as snow, although she's not all white. She was a puppy-dog when we took this picture. She came to us a little, happy, excited puppy - cutest little bundle of fur and big eyes I'd ever seen. I was 8 years old, and remember being both scared and delighted by the sight of her. My uncle had adopted her from a friend whose dog had a litter of pups, and she became the (extended) family dog, mostly my Granma took care of her (Granma did everything then) but we have all walked her, fed her, took her for walks, bathed her, and played catch with her.

She had lovely soft hair, especially so after a bath and after she had dried off in the sun. The black part of her was beautiful, raven black and shiny. The white part of her was clean, pure and pretty as snow. It was a lovely feeling just brushing her.

She was mostly a quiet dog that didn't bark the house down. She was timid - she was terrified of thunder, and would scramble frantically and squeeze herself under the coffee table (it had a gap only 3 inches high!) Even when she was fully grown, she somehow managed it. She never chased cats int eh neighbourhood and was nervous with the ankle-biter that lived in the home next to the elevator, and hated walking that way. the funniest thing about her was that she knew what 'zang zui' ('to shower' in Hokkien) meant and bolted at the sound of the word. Bath time, as you can deduce, was to play catch. She would race herself crazy around our apartment in and out of every room, before coming to a sudden halt, tongue hanging out and panting, by which everyone present would freeze in their step, any false move and off she goes again!

She ran away a couple times, slipping free from the leash. One particular time that she ran away and we couldn't find her, Granma found her the next morning curled outside on the doorstep. How she made it 11 floors up the apartment building, we don't know - did she ride up the elevator??? or climbed all 11 sets of stairs up to come back home?? how did she manage to find her way among the jungle of high rise buildings and thousands of staircases?? Although we know dogs track a path by smell, we certainly have not walked her up 11 flights of stairs - we always took the elevator and pressed the button for the 11th floor; so until now we are still baffled - did she learn to press the elevator button???? All we knew then was how relieved we were and could only think how she spent a night out cold and hungry.

Xueli used to sleep in the living room at night, sometimes on the old brown suede couch that we have since discarded, sometimes on the ol' pile of newspapers we kept for the karang guni man. Sometimes when I woke up at night, I would wonder if she was okay, and would look for her and watch her sleep in the dark, sometimes she lays so still that it worried me, until she blew a little puff of air through her nose. Sometimes she trembled in her sleep, and I would start piling blankets on her. Sometimes she whined and I would wonder what she was dreaming of.

I cried when Granma told me Xueli had died. At that time, Granma had moved into my aunt's landed property home and Xueli had gone with her. They came back to Telok Blangah on the weekends. One Saturday, Granma told me Xueli had died, of old age..she was 13 years old by then. I asked Granma what she did with Xueli's body, and she told me she had thrown it out with the garbage. Although I was upset, I knew Granma would not know any other way to do it. And I think although we all love and miss Xueli very dearly, no one would be sadder than Ah Ma, and no one would miss her more.

I felt the sadness of the loss then, but this morning, fourteen years after, I suddenly saw the moment that she passed on; in my mind, I saw her lie down on her side, tired and drawing a last shallow breath..her eyes slowly close and she becomes still.


I have repetitive dreams - the same dream that happens from time to time, and one of them is of Xueli. When I dream of her, I often wake up thinking that it was real. Several times, I distinctly remember waking up after dreaming of Xueli, and walked around the house looking for her, not realizing that she had been gone for years.

I don't know why it haunts me, or what haunts me - perhaps because I wasn't there with her when she was passing, perhaps I feel sad, or guilty. Or perhaps it is only natural when I miss a dear beloved one.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Fun with Mom

Scott's mom flew over from Buffalo for a holiday last week, and we shopped and shopped everywhere.

One day, when the hubs went away on a dive boat, the mom-in-law and I rented a neat little Daisun and drove ourselves around to do more shopping.

The map-reading and the navigating is another story, but let's just say we made our way home at the end of the day.

So, now I have a lovely new purple-and-butterflies bathroom, new blue, green and bright yellow bath towels, new Mexican-inspired dishcloths, wine glasses and whimsical silverware in the kitchen, a nice new floral embroidered toss pillow on my couch and more clothes that look the same but in different colours in our wardrobe.

When I have my own home, I will not have tan-coloured carpets, white blinds, beige doors and cabinets, and golden door knobs - I swear they must be installed in every rental apartment in LA just to drive tenants into depression.

Well now, colour me happy, mom's in the house and we can go shopping! :D


Just to prove we're more useful than we care to be, the ladies made dinners a couple times - some un-beliEEE-vably delicious salmon steaks with mom's special marinate, roasted asparagus and peppers, and brown rice.

The next day, I stir-fried leftover rice with corn and red peppers, put it on a bed of spinach and made a quasi-gourmet presentation of it. Boy, was mom impressed! She asked me about the recipe and I showed her my secret stir-fry sauce - Hoi Sin sauce by Lee Kum Kee!

Hahahahahah! :D


On other days, the three of us trooped to a couple of free, summer evening concerts in the park - an opera and a jazz-tap ensemble. They were our first experiences with both genres.

Opera was interesting - I didn't understand a word, and couldn't even tell if it was sung in Italian or French, and wonder if anyone amongst the crowded cheese-and-wine picnickers did at all. And knowing that, I had very loudly announced my advice to my companions before the performance:


The singers had mighty strong voices, I can tell you that. As well as that poor Great Dane that seemed a little distressed with the sopranos.

Now Jazz-tap(tap dancing to jazz) was totally different - straightforward entertainment with a marvellous groove. Easily and absolutely enjoyable. The audience had a great time cheering on the dancers and joining in the tap beat with a bout of messy clapping.

Encore! encore! at the end of it all!


Hubs and I decided to have a fun surprise for mom one afternoon. We all hopped into the car, took the route past a Santa Monica private hangar, which prompted mom to quickly declare:

"I will not go parachuting, bungee-jumping or skydiving."

Fortunately for her, we had no plans of pushing her off the plane, with or without a parachute just yet.

just kidding, mom ;)

Instead, we brought her to karaoke. Where she blasted her lungs out, circled her fists and swung her hips to the groove of Copacabana, Runaway Sue, Crocodile Rock and Great Balls of Fire!

Woo hoo! Go momma!


Here are photos of some other fun in the sun!

An Ah Lian moment

The Provocation:

BeliefWatch: Reincarnate

Rajesh Kumar Singh / AP
The Next Lama: The Dalai Lama says he won't reincarnate in Tibet

By Matthew Philips

Aug. 20-27, 2007 issue - In one of history's more absurd acts of totalitarianism, China has banned Buddhist monks in Tibet from reincarnating without government permission. According to a statement issued by the State Administration for Religious Affairs, the law, which goes into effect next month and strictly stipulates the procedures by which one is to reincarnate, is "an important move to institutionalize management of reincarnation." But beyond the irony lies China's true motive: to cut off the influence of the Dalai Lama, Tibet's exiled spiritual and political leader, and to quell the region's Buddhist religious establishment more than 50 years after China invaded the small Himalayan country. By barring any Buddhist monk living outside China from seeking reincarnation, the law effectively gives Chinese authorities the power to choose the next Dalai Lama, whose soul, by tradition, is reborn as a new human to continue the work of relieving suffering.

At 72, the Dalai Lama, who has lived in India since 1959, is beginning to plan his succession, saying that he refuses to be reborn in Tibet so long as it's under Chinese control. Assuming he's able to master the feat of controlling his rebirth, as Dalai Lamas supposedly have for the last 600 years, the situation is shaping up in which there could be two Dalai Lamas: one picked by the Chinese government, the other by Buddhist monks. "It will be a very hot issue," says Paul Harrison, a Buddhism scholar at Stanford. "The Dalai Lama has been the prime symbol of unity and national identity in Tibet, and so it's quite likely the battle for his incarnation will be a lot more important than the others."

So where in the world will the next Dalai Lama be born? Harrison and other Buddhism scholars agree that it will likely be from within the 130,000 Tibetan exiles spread throughout India, Europe and North America. With an estimated 8,000 Tibetans living in the United States, could the next Dalai Lama be American-born? "You'll have to ask him," says Harrison. If so, he'll likely be welcomed into a culture that has increasingly embraced reincarnation over the years. According to a 2005 Gallup poll, 20 percent of all U.S. adults believe in reincarnation. Recent surveys by the Barna Group, a Christian research nonprofit, have found that a quarter of U.S. Christians, including 10 percent of all born-again Christians, embrace it as their favored end-of-life view. A non-Tibetan Dalai Lama, experts say, is probably out of the question.

© 2007 Newsweek, Inc. |


I've never used this word before, but I feel compelled now to respond:

"Siao ah!!"


Thursday, August 09, 2007

Soup for the Soul

This is the soup that Pei Chin made for me.

I'm so happy I could cry.

How would I have known that, 14,000km away from home and Mom, I would have Lian Ou Tang to drink?

My favorite - Lotus Root soup, with groundnuts and red dates in pork broth, cooked from scratch with the freshest ingredients and simmered over the stove for hours and hours.

mmm.....It has an aroma so light and fragrant, and a taste so sweet and surreal it transports me back to my mom's kitchen in our HDB flat in Telok Blangah, where my mom has made a potful and is bringing me a bowl of wholesome, nutritious soup just like this one.


Soup soup!! I am bouncing around waiting for the soup to boil over the fire.

I am grinning and skipping all over the living room waiting to taste my soup.

Sweetie!!! come take a photo of my soup!! I want to tell everyone I had Lian Ou Tang!!!


bounce bounce bounce.

The hubs looks into the pot and refused to be stirred by my enthusiasm.

As gently as he could, he turns down 3 times my loud ballistic offers for him to try a spoonful of wholesome nutritious soup.

My mother-in-law, who was visiting from New York, bless her kind-hometown-Buffalo-roastbeef-and-baked-potatoes ol' soul, tries not to screw her nose at the sight of my steaming hot bowl of pork bones and tuberous roots.

I don't take their rejections personally; I am too dizzy with delight to be a dampened spirit, and unabashedly besotted with gluttony over my bowl of soup, looking like I was possessed by the Tasmanian Devil himself.


Home-cooked soup, especially soup this good, is nourishment for the homesick soul.

Happy 42nd Birthday to Singapore :)

Monday, August 06, 2007

My Piggies eat poop

We have the most adorable guinea pigs, Mousey and Tobey.

They eat all day long, chomp chomp chomp.

Lettuce, tomatoes, carrots, celery, cucumber, strawberries, parsley, lots and lots of timothy hay. Chomp chomp chomp.

Look - this is Mousey, isn't she funny?

I like watching them prod around in the shavings sniffing out pieces of food and hay.


When I woke up this morning, still groggy with sleep, I lazed on the edge of the bed peering into their cage, and watched Mousey in her hutch nudging around in the shavings for morsels of food. She looked so cute.

She sniffed at a pellet of poop.

and I said to her languidly, no Mousey that's poop.

She sniffed it a couple more times.

And promptly gobbled it up.

And looked immensely satisfied with herself for having found a yummy bite.

I was hoping she would spit it out, but she had eagerly munched it up and swallowed.

My face melted into a mixture of disgust and nausea - eeeeeeEEEWWWWw, mOUSEEyyyy!!!!!


That pretty much woke me up.


WHYYY is my guinea pig eating poop?! You would never think that a normal behavior unless you were some kind of dung beetle.

Research time:

As it turns out, piggies eat their own excrement sometimes. Guinea pigs produce 2 kinds of poop - one that is actual waste and another called cecotropes, which are nutrient-rich with proteins and essential vitamins.

The delightful thing about this peculiar behavior, is that these poopy treats, like all worthy foods, are best eaten fresh off the harvest; so when the piggies want a treat, all they have to do is dive in back and pluck a scooby snack right out of their piggy butt! :D yummy!

Disclaimer: This behavior is only acceptable with guinea pigs, rabbits, most other rodents and certain other mammals; not including dogs, cats and curious human babies known to have exhibited other charming displays of a sense of adventure.

Here are the piggies chomping on more palatable (to us at least!) gourmet choices.

Poop-snacking aside, guinea piggies are lovely pets, all they do is eat, poop, grow fat and look cute (according to Nat). Here's how it's done:

Wednesday, August 01, 2007