Monday, August 20, 2018

No More Cover-Ups?


Grimly watched the #MeToo movement unfold, with a mixture of happiness, relief and horror. Has it taken this long for it to find a voice? The Catholic Church isn't above it either, and it shouldn't be. There is a long history of systemic abuse of parishioners and children that it can no longer ignore or sweep under the carpet.

Many many abuse cases are coming to light and they refused to be quashed. Pennsylvania is reprehensible and repugnantThe Washington Post's 'Why the Vatican continues to struggle with sex abuse scandals' written Chico Harlan, published on 12 August 2018, asks some hard questions that the Vatican will not have easy answers to. There're many documented reports and case studies through the decades. As much as the Vatican wants to keep a low profile with regard to investigations and verdicts, they can't. Everything's out in the open now. It is Pandora's Box. (More articles herehere, here and here.)

How widespread is the abuse? This is certainly not confined to the traditional Catholic cities in Europe and the US. In fact, it doesn't even have to be restricted to the Catholic Church. Where organized religion (or a political system) exists, abuse will happen. Do we not already understand that human nature is very different from attempting conquering ungodly desires and behaving to what decent society expects? I'm not going to comment on anything else with regard to Singapore and the region. Here's an extract from the WaPo article, and I will just leave this here.

In an interview published last year with the Corriere della Sera, Cardinal Gerhard Müller, then the head of the doctrine office, said the Vatican already had the "tools and legal means" to handle cases. Vatican watcher Marco Politi said congregation members and others in the Vatican hierarchy were also concerned about opening a "Pandora's box." 
"This would mean hundreds of cases that would then bounce back to Rome with a huge media impact," said Politi, author "Pope Francis Among the Wolves," a papal biography. "It would signify the beginning of hunting season on culprits. 
In turn, Francise used another method to bolster accountability of the church hierarchy, issuing an apostolic letter that made it clear that bishops could be removed from office for negligently handling sexual abuse. But under the current system, any of the five different Vatican congregations can be involved in investigating bishops, depending on the accused person's role and affiliation within the church, and also on whether he has been accused of coverup or abuse. Coverup cases are handled by the same congregations that help to appoint bishops. 
"It's a potential conflict of interest," said Davide Cito, a canon lawyer at Rome's Pontifical University of the Holy Cross. "That's absolutely an issue."

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Second Round of Laser Treatment for the Sun Spots

The solar lentigines lightened considerably after the first laser session. I'm done with the second laser treatment for the stubborn sun spots, and there is indeed more melanin floating up to the surface and crusting over. But it isn't as bad as the first round. Most of the pigment had been broken up and this time, the crust isn't as dark or plentiful. Whewwww.

I think this is the maximum the sun spots can lighten for this second round. There's only so much the laser can do, and it's now up to the AzA cream to work its magic, and my commitment to wearing sunscreen and keeping the face out of direct merciless sunlight so as not to stimulate excessive melanin production. UV brolly, yes, it's now my daily companion. Haizzzz. I'm still taking those Crystal Tomato pills. But I honestly dunno if they truly work.

Again, I cannot emphasize this enough. This is not your run-of-the-mill IPL. Neither will lightening creams fully work on melasma or solar lentigines unless they contain 4% hydroquinone (which I'm highly against) or 20% azelaic acid. There’s kojic acid and such, which work really slowly in over-the-counter products; these are ideal for clear skin or those with minimal freckles or spots, and won’t be able to address a worsening situation of melasma or solar lentigo. Do not do laser treatments at so-called reputable beauty salons or ‘aesthetic clinics’. Go to a certified skin doctor/dermatologist at a skin clinic and get a proper professional opinion.

There's one more treatment to go in September. This third and hopefully final treatment is crucial since the dermatologist needs to not over-treat it. The cluster of melanin can come back if we're not careful. Then she will decide on future courses of action. I'm thinking of using non-ablative laser treatment to aid skin renewal. I'm not big on facials or super pricey skincare products. I very much prefer using pharmacy products that won't irritate the skin or cause allergies to flare, then pop in to the clinic every two or three months to sort out a I don't have deep wrinkles yet, or deep pitted acne scars, so ablative laser treatments aren't needed. A Medlite C6 treatment sounds good for future sessions. 😉

Friday, August 17, 2018

The Pilates Thigh Stretch

I think some gym instructors call it the 'kneeling lean-back'. I know it as the 'pilates thigh stretch'. It can be done on the Mat, Cadillac, or on the Reformer. It's a simple exercise that works a lot of muscles in a short time. If I don't feel like planking, I will do this. My pilates instructor uses this as a 'bridging exercise' between tough movements, especially if I've been utilizing lots of arms. It's supposed to be my 'rest' as I work the core even more in another position.

When executed correctly, there should be zero stress on the lower back. It should be kept straight and the hips, ribcafe, shoulders and neck should be all stacked up in a straight line. Straight back down, straight back up. This movement works the thighs, the core, and the glutes. They will burn. If I don't make the abs and glutes help me and rely solely on the quads to do the work, it can almost as though the quads would tear. LOL.

Thigh stretches on the Reformer feel easier because I'm holding on to the straps; it inspires my pilates instructor to make me go even lower. "Butt to heel!" is the standard command. The straps on the Reformer help LOADS. The difficulty is in holding the position when you lean down low. PAIN SIAL. I could go as long as I want, but getting up is where your muscles die. Keeping the carriage still as I go through the reps is always a huge challenge.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Nam Seng Noodle House


To be honest, I'm not too taken by Nam Seng Noodle House's Singapore version of Cantonese wonton noodles. I prefer the version that has thinner noodles which are curlier, and more QQ. I can't appreciate Nam Seng's sauce which leans towards the sweet side. I prefer something salty. But the stall's wontons and shrimp dumplings are good. I like its gentle usage of minced pork and the generous sprinkling of water chestnuts. I don't mind its char siew since it's the lean sort and not the fatty type. But it's pork, so I try to palm off as much of it as possible to fellow dining companions. I really only go for noodles only when I eat wonton noodles. I eat here because of Madam Leong Yuet Meng, the face and heart of Nam Seng.

Madam Leong Yuet Meng still works at the stall, tirelessly. She takes orders and serves customers right up till today. She speaks Mandarin, but she's most comfortable with Cantonese. She's 89 this year. Or is it 90? It’s amazing that she has stuck by her chosen job. She started the stall way back in 1957, and is known for her wonton noodles, although the stall also offers hor fun with seafood or venisonsoy sauce chicken noodles and fried rice.

No matter what, she turns up at the stall daily, and whenever I visit, she's right there at lunch-time, standing at the counter, all hunched and wrinkled, but still steadily placing many bowls onto customers' trays. I have so much respect for her work ethics. As long as she's still fronting the stall, I will continue lunching here.

Nam Seng Noodle House (南生)
25 China Street, 
#01-01 Far East Square, Singapore 049567
T: 6438 5669
Hours: Weekdays 8am to 7pm; Saturdays 8am to 2pm. Closed on Sundays.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Getting Lunch Boxes

That day when the carpenters were fixing shelves and all at the new flat, and after the briefing and eyeballs on angles and height of shelves, I left them to their work, and was fixated on the MacBook clearing work. It was a full day's work; at midday, they took a break and went out to buy lunch. They even asked if I wanted anything. Nope, I had eaten, and I had my coffee. All good. Went back to stare at the MacBook to pound out work essays and emails.

A week later, it hit me. A whole week later... 😔 I CAN HAZ ZERO EQ SOMETIMES. OMG. I FORGOT TO BUY THEM LUNCH! I should have reimbursed their takeouts! The carpenters weren't even hinting, and were simply being nice when they asked if I wanted food, since I was gonna be around the whole day too. 

Luckily they returned again to fix up my acoustic door (for the music room), and little corner shelves, I handed the foreman cash for lunch and kopi today, and to reimburse him for the last time. "Paiseh!" I said. Hahahah. Perhaps it's unnecessary, but to me, it's a MUST. They didn't blink when I borrowed their caulk gun to seal up things. They offered to help, but when they inspected my work, they decided that I could fend for myself. Ha! For all their rough talk and yelling at one another, or talk like they're gonna start a fight, they're always unfailingly polite to me. MUAHAHAHAHAH. 

My contractor's hires (and even the wallpaper workmen whom I sourced from another shop) for all the jobs, are Malaysians who currently live in Johor Bahru. They drive in daily to Singapore to work. It explains why their work day onsite usually starts at 10.30am and ends at 7pm. Food options at the coffeeshops around this area costs about S$4.50 to S$6 for a meal of say, point-point rice (every cuisine has a version).  That averages out to be RM$15 per lunch box. A McD's takeout meal upsized plus delivery charges is about RM$50/SGD17. (A 'Mega Mac' burger in Malaysia now costs RM$15.40/SGD5.20.) Hefty. 

The workmen are helping me shape up the flat into a livable space. It's hard work. It's manual labor, it's hot and dusty. They eat on-the-go. The least I can do is to buy them three lunch boxes out of 1095 meals in a year.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Lechón at Don Lechon

These crazy people wanted to eat lechón at Don Lechon. I was like, WHUT. It's got ZERO nutritional value again, and for once, I cannot get behind this method of cooking pig. I'm not into fats or crackling skin. #SorryNotSorry The table isn't unfamiliar with Filipino food. When we go diving often enough in Filipino islands for two weeks at a go, we tend to exhaust dining options in the remote villages, and are fairly familiar with mainstream Filipino dishes.

Usually for these types of dinners, I'm there for the company. I'll either eat something beforehand, or eat something else after so that I don't starve. So I still went along for fun, and booked a table for all of us. Don Lechon does answer queries via WhatsApp and only takes reservations for large groups. I was completely tickled that they replied me with sentences half in Tagalog. Had to ask help with translation!

You really need to like roasted suckling pig to eat at Don Lechon. And welcome fats, oil and salt. There isn't any other food offered on the menu. Steamed white rice is served with the meats, but the broken grains are kinda clumpy. The eatery is super casual. Outdoor seating only. Lechón is usually roasted and ready to be served by 6pm. So go early if you can. It's sited on the external shop unit of Grandlink Square, facing the tiny strip of Geylang River. Tonight, we ordered the standard lechon sisig and chopped lechon. Nobody ordered bopis leh. Chehhh. I was a wee bit curious about innards, and wouldn't mind stealing two bites from someone's plate. Hurhurhur. Also had two pots of sinigang na lechon to share. Washed down by cans of coconut water on ice.

Monday, August 13, 2018

Walking Between The Raindrops


T.C. Boyle is one of those writers whom I've stashed into the category of American Literature- books that I don't read for fun. Hahaha. Oddly, I wasn't as tortured reading his works as it felt for some other writers, since he writes mostly short stories in prose style. 'World's End' (1987) is definitely not too painful to plough through.

69-year-old T. Coraghessan Boyle's new book 'Outside Looking In' will be out in September. He writes about self-discovery, creativity, LSD and the 1960s. In the wake of the completed novel (that the world hasn't read), he has written a number of stand-alone essays in its wake, and 'I Walk Between The Raindrops' is one of those.

'I Walk Between The Raindrops' was published by The New Yorker's issue July 30, 2018 in its Fiction. Set in Southern California, the essay drew inspiration from the author's experiences of being caught in the December 2017 Thomas Fire that engulfed Ventura and Santa Barbara. Brandon and his wife of fifteen years, Nola, went to Kingman for a short getaway. Along the way, Brandon recalled the misfortunes of others, and if he had a part to play in those, and seemed to try to deflect some sort of inner guilt. That turned into four other subplots.

These four subplots came in four incidents mentioned. (1) There's randomly Serena, the woman in the bar (who claims to have ESP), and is fixated on Brandon. (2) That led to him remembering the recent wildfires and mudslides in their hometown, and how storms devastated their town, but he and Serena were okay, and they felt guilty for being alive when others died. (3) He recalled Serena's volunteer work at the local chapter of the National Suicide Prevention Society, and the many stories she had experienced, and one poignant one of a co-worker Blake who befriended a depressed caller, nineteen-year-old Brie, and in the end, took their lives together. (4) The last incident is almost hilarious. Brandon and Serena tried to matchmake two of their oldest friends, Fredda and Paul, who are both plus-sized. They hosted and cooked a dinner in their California home, and while that was a success, the matchmaking attempt was a disaster.


Did Brandon really have a part to play in other people's misfortunes or feelings? One definitely did, for sure. That failed attempt at matchmaking. People shouldn't intentionally matchmake anyone. That's dumb. That's what the friggin internet is for, with Facebook being the most archaic but still useful platform. Written in first person narrative, readers will have to decide if protagonist Brandon, is a reliable narrator.

I was standing there at the bar, my change in my hand and the next tune coming on to bury me in the moment. Someone popped a balloon. I looked over to where Nola was sitting at the table still, admiring one of the pewter serving dishes she’d got for a steal at the third antique store on the left. What did I say to the bartender, finally? I don’t know. Something like “Wow.” But it was Valentine’s Day and it was all on me: the poor disjointed E.S.P. woman rejected by a man she didn’t even know (and didn’t have the faintest inkling of how deep and true he ran, except, I suppose, on a paranormal level) and feeling that there was just no use in going on living without him. Hold on to that for a minute and tell me about the fathomless, inexpressible, heartbreaking loneliness of life on this planet. 
Are you shitting me? Holy sweet Jesus, save us! Save us all right now!

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Supermama's Akoya Pearls

@supermamasg

I'm quite fond of Supermama's products. A good number of items are also ideal as gifts. They're well made, and try to keep to the original spirit of the makers. That's something our retail scene lacks in terms of originality and innovation. As and when the designs and their quality are something that catch my eye, I support our Singapore shops and brands.

Supermama recently trotted out their range of cultured Akoya pearls from Ise-Shima. It sounded really fun. I'm iffy about pearls, the same way I'm not into jade. Pearl necklaces are an accessory I totally avoid. I'm not inclined to spend a lot of money on items that I don't particularly fancy. But I suppose a small little pair of earrings is inoffensive and can be kinda fun.

Popped into Supermama that afternoon to have a look. The range of pearl jewelry is rather limited now as they didn't make a lot to begin with, and they had sold many since its launch. But there's a pair of earrings in small-enough pearls set in gold that's pretty. It isn't quite me, but wearing it once in a while is okay. Bought it. Also picked out a pair of earrings for a girlfriend who's suddenly into pearls now. Heh! These are encased in silver. Spent some time mulling over which pair suited her better. In the end, the luster of the pearls made the decision.

Friday, August 10, 2018

Unagiya Ichinoji :: 鰻家一の字

The man recently came back from Tokyo gobsmacked by the food. He has gone to Tokyo many times on work trips, but the recent two trips were the ones he truly had time to ditch big names and touristy draws to explore little shops or famous enough quality eats. Well, he's now armed with a full list I drew up for him, and he even bravely ventures into unknown little restaurants because he knows he can either send photos of the menu for me to decipher, or put me on the phone with the server. I'm his concierge to call and make restaurant reservations (which I'm hesitant to do so since his schedule is unpredictable). WIN LOR.

Among all the delicious stuff he inhaled on this trip, he came back raving about freshwater eels, unagi (鰻, うなぎ). He has never tasted such well-treated unagi in his life that came as courses paired with sake. He wanted to find a restaurant offering something similar in Singapore. I literally laughed in his face. DON'T HAVE LAH. Pay many money also cannot find.

While I prefer anago, I’m not averse to unagi; I'm just very picky and rather not eat them in Singapore because I haven't found a restaurant that does it the way I love.

The man had tried a few restaurants that claimed to serve good unagi and had come away unsatisfied. Tonight he decided that we should try our luck at new-ish Unagiya Ichinoji (家一の字) at Robertson Quay. It's the Tokyo restaurant's first overseas outlet. Their eels come in from Indonesia. Apparently the restaurant doesn't take reservations, but on the week day night we went, there wasn't a crazy queue out of the door, and it was half empty.

The man ordered the eel fins and liver, and had the main in Nagoya style (hitsumabushi, ひつまぶし). He didn’t mind the food that turned up, but of course it was nowhere near the exquisite standards of Ryo (翏) in Tokyo. Please. You can’t even begin to compare. With only nine counter seats and I think six at the tables, Ryo (翏) also plays alternative and indie rock music as background. Good taste abound! 😉 At this less exciting restaurant in Singapore, I chose a safe dinner set that offered the least amount of grilled eel—in Osaka style (mamushi, 鰻まむし飯). Like I said, I wasn’t expecting any pleasant surprises. The yamatoimo (Japanese mountain yam, 山芋) was disappointing. Never mind, as long as there were eggs and potatoes, I was happy.