20When the trumpets sounded, the army shouted, and at the sound of the trumpet, when the men gave a loud shout, the wall collapsed; so everyone charged straight in, and they took the city. 21 They devoted the city to the Lord and destroyed with the sword every living thing in it—men and women, young and old, cattle, sheep and donkeys.
Just a little indigression on food to avoid posting food pics and waffling on in a most nostalgic way on FB.
As you all know by now, E@L and Izzy (SPGica domestica) and her beau Danijel (how many frackin' guy called Dan does E@L know? fuck!) traipse off around the world a coupla times a year. Summer here, summer there. Often with Odette, Izzy's sister, as well. Absolutely the best times of E@L's recent life.
We've done the Croatian coast, Cambodia and Laos, Tuscany, Belgium, and Cebu. Probably some other unforgettable places that E@L can't recall just now. All fantastic. E@L only had two heart attacks on these trips. One involved an inappropriate lust attack in Hvar and the other involved an inopportune angina attack in San Gimingaino. Won't tell you which was the more painful.
Cat, Izzy, Danijel, Odette: Split, Croatia
Arty-farty camera tricks: Luang Prabang riverside, Laos
The front lawn/breakfast/dinner nook in Tuscany
Six types of lobster: ?Antwerp, Belgium
The ferry from Negros to Cebu, Philippines
And now, as in soon, as in a few weeks, we are going together to Malta.
At first, like you, E@L be thinkin': Malta? Meh.
But as it happens he had recently read Empires Of The Sea, about the 16th century siege of Malta, amongst other nautical shenanigans involving the Ottomans and the Kerniggets Hospitaller the Hapsburgs, and found it fascinating - educational and entertaining, erudite and mildly erectile. And speaking of which, of course, as E@L twigs eventually, Thomas Pynchon's V. is set for a considerable chunk of pages in Valletta (as imagined from his Baedeker and library researches of the place) - so E@L reread that not unsubstantial tome. And realised there were several obliquely prurient scenes that he used to masturbate to as younger man. (Hmm. Not on the plan to revisit those periods of his life, but hey, whilst the tissues are handy...)
The reason for this trip to Malta, much less sensually, seems to be that Valletta was used in some outside shots as Kings Landing in Game Of Thrones, first season.
These friends of mine are obsessed.
Another of the things that Izzy and D are passionate about, as are all cool people, is good food. Or at least expensive food. And home-cooked expensive good food. On our trips they usually have a hit list of top places to eat and sometimes we have to book in advance to get seats, but also they like to experiment in the kitchen - with food, E@L reminds you correctively - when back home in their cozy nook in The Hague just up the road from the Escher museum.
We experimented with poached eggs last time E@L was there, for example. And roast carrot soup and jellied tarragon infused vodka or something...
All sorts of activities in The Hague (note the crisp sage leaves).
So E@L is currently working up a dinner plan for New Years in response, when they (E@L presumes) come to Singapore for a few days prior to our next Southern Hemisphere trip.
The experiment tonight was Roast Cauliflower Soup, with a few of his own crispy sage leaves on top. Why the fuck not.
Step One: put the oiled up cauliflowerettes into the overheated oven and burn the fuck out of them in 15 minutes. No photo, lots of smoke.
Step Two: walk to shop and buy new head of cauliflower.
Step Three: oil up, etc, but don't have the oven as hot and keep checking!
Step Four: sweat onions and garlic then add chicken stock (not home-made) with the browned cauli and simmer for 15-20mins.
Step Five: add coconut milk and whizz around in the Kenwood Over-The-Top-Complicated (it was on special) Food Processor what E@L used for the first time today.
Step Six: Put in bowl and garnish with brown-butter crisped sage leaves and a rescued roasted flowerette and observe how it looks for all the world like hummus.
Tasted very good, but it was too thick and the cauli was still slightly rice-like. Maybe E@L didn't put in the complete 3 cups of chicken stock, or maybe the cauliflower was oversize for the proportions of the liquid... And perhaps one could mash it through a sieve or something to make it look smoother.
Followed up by some lamb chops supposedly encrusted in thyme and rosemary salt, cooked to grandma's specifications (i.e. well done so you can eat the crisp fat without gagging) and with some simple steamed veggies (and a dobbed knob of butter).
Mmm-mmm. Definitely maybe the start of a menu for the anticipated end of year dinner party at E@LGHQ.
When your town's founder is some rascal who ripped it off from the local Sultan (Raffles had signed a treaty with the Sultan's brother which meant little) you end up with a plethora (veritably) of landmarks eponymous to the much-lauded (except by his senior in the Navy) pioneer.
Wikipaedia lists quite a few places: hotels (one offs and chains), notable sights, schools, businesses, hospitals, streets, shopping centres, etc... around Asia and Australasia which have the dubious honour of bearing his name.
A well-liked person. Attractive to the ladies.
Raffles Hills Jakarta Raffles City
Raffles City Shanghai
Sir Stamford at Circular Quay
Sir Stamford Double Bay
Stamford Grand Adelaide
Stamford Grand North Ryde
Stamford Plaza Adelaide
Stamford Plaza Auckland
Stamford Plaza Brisbane
Stamford Plaza Double Bay
Stamford Plaza Melbourne
Stamford Plaza Sydney Airport Swissôtel The Stamford
Raffles Class (business class) of Singapore Airlines
Raffles International Patients Centre
Raffles International Training Centre
Raffles Investments Limited
Raffles Medical Group
Stamford Hotels & Resorts (Singaporean hotel chain based in Australia)
Yantai Raffles Shipyard
Raffles College (currently National University of Singapore)
Raffles College of Design and Commerce
Raffles Girls' Primary School
Raffles Girls' School (Secondary)
Raffles Hall, National University of Singapore
Raffles Institution (Secondary)
Raffles Institution (Junior College)
Raffles-BICT International College
Raffles International Christian School
Stamford Primary School
Raffles Country Club
Raffles Town Club
Raffles Institution Lane
Raffles Place Raffles Place MRT Station
Raffles Quay Stamford Road
Which may (Understatement Alert) create confusion: for example - how does the intrepid steak- aficionado get to the illustrious and soon to be famous Wooloomooloo Steakhouse (plug intended, please spend up big) in Swissôtel The Stamford by public transport? Despite it's unexplained absence from the Swissôtel The Stamford's website, or indeed in any signage in the hotel, it is there in reality if not virtuality.
Woolies hides itself away demurely on the 3rd floor of The Stamford Hotel on Stamford Rd, at the Raffles City Shopping Center. Got it? Stamford, Stamford, Raffles. Wooloomooloo.
Let me tell how NOT to get there.
Take the EastWest Line MRT (underground) and alight at Raffles Place MRT Station.
Half-asleep thanks to the soporific sultriness of the clime, half lost in a pod-cast on climate change or in the dream-world sounds of some ambient stuff recommended by No1 son ("No1 Son, did you leave the washing machine on downstairs?" "No, it's music." "Oh.") such as Carbon Based Lifeforms, Ulrich Schnauss, or Shpongle, I rouse myself as the train judders to a stop... almost to stop I mean, as it judders (jolts and shudders) briefly again to align itself with the outer anti-suicide doors and I fight my way out against the tide of prams and grannies as, I notice, the train on the opposite platform, going in the opposite direction, takes itself off.
The crowd looks and acts the same as in any situation, train-mall or large shopping mall, I can't tell yet where I am. A pulsing swarm-unintelligence rushing, pausing, floating, obstructing, ever-alert to inanimate things like clothes and watches, but nasty with indifference to non-members of the shopping swarm, as shopping is all the crowd does. I have to join for the flow through the turnstiles, or get crushed, eaten, assimilated and ejected.
So I come up from the depths of here, wherever that is, unthinkingly choosing one exit and slapped in my eyes is light. I am coming from a gate at one of the delightfully colonial pavilions of colonial architectural provenance, brilliant white in the sun in a small rectangle of a tended park of manicured lawn and low trimmed hedges that is standing defiantly dated, dwarfed on three sides by looming bank offices of Raffles Place, of course. Over the peak of the pavilion in the dazzling azure, I see the towering round tower of the hotel I had been expecting to find one hell of a lot closer, like all around me. The Stamford, Raffles City.
I am nowhere near where I should be. I realise that I have gone one stop too far again, yo-yoed up and over my public-transit bird-flipping ring finger. City Hall is naturally closer to Raffles City than is Raffles Place. Do'h!
But, seriously. Why the fuck would a station called Raffles Place not deposit you at a shopping centre called Raffles City? It's a fucking mystery. I've made this mistake three or four times now - but being who I am, I never learn from mistakes - how plebeian.
The building itself, Swissôtel, The Stamford, was once the tallest hotel in the world, for about 20mins (it is 221 meters at 73 stories). It was designed by our buddy I.M Pei, the guy who fucked up the Hancock tower in Boston when all the windows fell out, and the guy who built the much more iconic and impressive (and stable) Bank Of China building in Hong Kong. Tall and round, it is a great hotel to jump out of the windows of - recent case of a lady landing on the roof of the al fresco Starbucks, no doubt quite a shock to the green tea lattes consumers there. (Apparently, while they were retrieving her body, it fell further, through the parapet and onto the ground! May even have been a murder...!) The Formula 1 race takes a corner right at the window of Woolies at the base of the hotel.
It's a cool place, but I am not there. Yet. Back into the depths of the MTR... And, yes, the train to doors close, beep beep,just before I attain entry...
E@L saw somewhere recently a woman defending her atheism (someone look it up for me). And was asked if she was not rather an agnostic than an atheist. She dodged the question. Some guy on the video comments criticised her for not quite understanding the bias of the question.
Agnosis is about "knowing." Atheism is about "believing". You can, he said, be an agnostic atheist. They are not mutually exclusive. You don't KNOW, but you BELIEVE.
[And I guess, for the believers, if they BELIEVE that they KNOW about LTUAE, then they have what to them is a FACT in their hands. Which is why you can't really argue with them. But let's ignore this for the purposes of the blog, as it's already having been written. E@L]
So E@L is looking for an analogy and he gets as far as Schrodinger's Cat, at least initially.
Heisenberg: Imagine, E@L, that this cat was put in its metal box several hundred millennia ago (but by whom?) and the nasty radioactive substance has been decaying and threatening to release the hydrocyanic acid gas to kill the cat ever since. Not counting the cat suffocating in the first 30 mins, or the hammer mechanism seizing up, etc... Say the cat has been there since around about when human's started thinking about the afterlife, and all-powerful tea-pots on the other side of the sun (Richard Dawkin's analogy) and Santa Claus and the like. Say that we can never open the box to confirm one non-probablistic result or the other. Let's look at that box.
E@L: Amazing material, what is that box made of?
E@L: Cool. From The Third Policeman. I get it.
Heisenberg: Is the cat dead, or is there a psi-function following the Copenhagen principle that Herr Schrodinger (zat traytor!) has set out to mock, that still allows the cat to be (calculates decay of that radioactive substance over time) only 99.9999999999976% dead and 0.0000000000024% alive?
E@L: If I didn't see it for myself, I wouldn't BELIEVE it! You did all those calculations on a fucking slide rule! Dude, you 30's scientists fuckin' RAWK! Anyway, to answer your question, I do not KNOW that the cat is dead. But fuck you and your fuzzy photos of reality, I BELIEVE that after all these thousands of years, the cat is dead. It has ceased to be.
Good analogy? Not really perfect is it? There is still that tiny, teeny weeny chance. (Cue Sfx: muffled meiaowww)
How about --
Schrodinger: E@L, you and I are locked in your bedroom behind the closed door FOREVER! How comfortable are you in your sexuality? OK, joking. But, you're typing this blog post and I am indulging in other wave-function related internet activities, and I hear a noise in the lounge room.
E@L: I didn't hear anything. Are you sure? The footy is on TV: the Cats are trouncing Melbourne.
Schrodinger: No, it was more of a big thump. Man, I reckon there is an elephant in your lounge room! In fact I BELIEVE there is a baby elephant in the lounge-room. I'm going to pray to it!
E@L: Pray for a Cat's victory and pray for it not to change the channel. You can't prove that about the elephant.
Schrodinger: You can't prove otherwise. You can't tell me for certain that the elephant is not there.
E@L: OK, I admit it. I don't KNOW if there are elephants in my lounge-room or not, however I aggressively and vehemently BELIEVE there are no elephants in my lounge room. It's 3/4 time. Score check.
Or, (and this is more my true position) --
Rosen: I moved an invisible and intangible table through time and space (from the Emu Heaven shop, yesterday) into your lounge room next to the other one.
E@L: Where? What the fuck are you talking about?
Rosen: You can't see it or feel it, or use it, but it is there.
E@L: You're a fucking nut-job.
Rosen: Don't you have FAITH?
E@L: In an invisible table? No.
Rosen: Einstein told me it is there - you trust Einstein, don't you? There are spirit photographs of the table on the web. I heard a podcasts about it. I believe there is a table in your lounge-room. I am going to pray to it.
E@L: Einstein has been misquoted and misinterpreted since forever (relatively). If I can't see a table or touch it or use it for any practical purpose, there can't be a table there. A table that is not manifest in the world doesn't in effect exist.
Rosen: But I have seen the photos! This table cured my niece of hiccups! It has an aura! I can see it.
E@L: Those photos are fake, just painting done up with photoshop - it is so fucking obvious. I scared your niece into not hiccuping in a manner I will not divulge. Your aura is a migraine coming on from me about to thump you.
Rosen: How do you KNOW that?
E@L: Because there is no table there. I'm looking: No table.
Rosen: Oh table, grant E@L the faith to believe in you.
E@L: I don't need to BELIEVE that there is a table there or not. There is no table. Repeat. There is no table. I KNOW there is no table there. However, I BELIEVE a cup of tea from the Great Tea-Pot on the other side of the sun would be nice. Milk, no sugar.
I have a task/meme that has been put to me by Philip Willey, who may or may not have once blogged under the pseudonym of Dick Headley, to answer some question about my blogging (or more appropriately, the lack thereof). I have been working on this, Philip, and I promise that before I die or maybe soon thereafter, I will submit this to my vast reading public to add to the circle of responders.
In the meantime I have been finally, as in at last, hit with a load of genuine, employment related work, as in preparing some training PowerPoints, most of which have been written already and just need translating from Japglish into Australglish. The question for me is what the fuck are these people talking about, mostly.
Example: "Both X and Y are possible to cope with different purpose." It is almost understandable, but not quite right. What is purpose? Do they mean situation? Aiyah! This is one of ten lines on an over-crowded slide (this is not an iPhone launch) and I have maybe 150 slides to rewrite.
There are two training sessions. One is two days of new product introduction to be given to our distributors. This was meant to be held in the sunny, smiley land of Siam in May, but political matters have intervened at the cusp of our triumphant "press this button then press that button" sessions. So the initial numbers of 80+ will probably drop to about 30 as the venue has shifted to our office in outer sticks of Singapore. Pain in the arse.
Secondly, I have a day and half to teach salesman of one of our partner companies about the basics/advanced physics and technology of ultrasound - something that took me 12 months to study and 30 years to, um, master - as well as do the "press this button then press that button" routing on a machine from my parent company that I have hardly ever used. Sigh.
For this second session, I have become bogged down continually rewriting a presentation that I started 14 years ago to explain visually quadrature phase detection so that I can talk about it without getting lost and without having more than 50% of the audience start snoring. That's a tough job, even though... zzz... zzz...
Meanwhile I have been asked to run this week's Pub-Quiz at the salubrious venue of the Sportsman Bar in Singapore. Come one, come all. The spectacularly predictable task is for me to set up a series of obscurely-themed questions that make me sound smarter than I actually am (not a difficult task), ask the questions to the hopefully full-pub (maybe 30 people), get the results tabulated, and then announce the winning team - they get a free drink! Whoopee! - all in a suitably E@L-style of flamboyance, intellectualness and culturality. And to avoid mumbling throughout.
But being much more a visually communicative person (see above) than a non-mumbling person, I am putting all the questions and answer into -- wait for it -- a series of PowerPoint presentations. To show my style I have used several of the default PPT themes. Awesomely crap.
So guess on which of these tasks I have been spending the vast majority of my time?
... They worked four weeks on and two weeks off and in the down time would be shuttled in helicopters to the nearest city, 40 minutes away, and then from there fly to Singapore.
“I’d been kind of an Ayn Rand guy before that,” he said. “And then you go to Asia and you see people who are genuinely poor and genuinely suffering and hadn’t gotten there by whining.” While on a break in Singapore, walking back to his hotel in the middle of the night, he stopped by an excavation site and “saw these shadows scuttling around in the hole. And then I realized the shadows were old women, working the night shift. Oh, I thought, Ayn Rand doesn’t quite account for this."
Saunders, George (2013-01-03). Tenth of December (Introduction: p. 2). BLOOMSBURY PUBLISHING. Kindle Edition.
In the Kamigata area they have a sort of tiered lunchbox they use for a single day when flower viewing. Upon returning, they throw them away, trampling them underfoot. The end is important in all things.
Yamamoto Tsunetomo, Hagakure: The Book of the Samurai.
Kata, Phuket, after midnight...
Late decision in the tuk-tuk back from Patong: he would go back to the Luv-You Bar again after all. He asked the driver to drop him off at the bottom of the strip near his Kata Beach hotel (the hotel that wasn’t the hotel he thought he was making his booking at, but hey, it was a rushed job, for a spontaneous mid-week golf holiday [being single rocks] and the hotel was just next-door to the other). This meant three nights in a row now he would be talking to Noo. He knows the Rule of Three, hey fuck he wrote the rule, but he was powerless to stop himself (which is what the Ro3 is all about). It was late for this part of Phuket Island, about 1am, and he didn't really expect her to be still there, to have waited for him, even though she said she would. But if she was there, and not bar-fined, he would take her to his room for another 4am session. He wanted to hold her again, to look into her eyes as they made love. Maybe he could make her cum this time.
He could grab a few hours kip before his airport taxi came at 7am. He would sleep all weekend.
She was there, he saw her at the back, in one of the small yellow lounge chairs near the billiard table where he had played ten indifferent games of pool with her, or with Gap, the bar-manager who punched the air every-time Bruce made an error - it’s cultural, not rude, he had reasoned. She was squeezed in the chair with a Thai man about, how can you really tell, 30. He looked, let’s not kid, like a Thai hit-man - long-hair, deep eyes, thin lips, sprouts of a goatee, sun-lined face, and a dark shirt, in jeans and with shiny black boots. She did not notice Bruce as he stepped up to the bar, she was talking and laughing with the Thai man, yep, her boyfriend obviously, the one she said she didn’t have on the previous two nights. He paused. He tried to stop himself moving forward, to halt completely. He should have left quietly before she saw him, but what may have been merely tragedy slipped into farce when he found he could not leave and, despite a flash of awareness of his breaking all the laws he often had admonished others about, approached her chair.
Hoping against the hollow sense of his own human frailty, against everything he thought he knew well enough to overcome, his head spinning with the Thai music from the karaoke-player, he stepped closer, small steps. Eventually her eyes looked away from the man she was cuddling, they unglazed (she liked rum shooters) long enough for her to see him. She must have been trying to place him and then, presumably it clicked and she stood up, a bit shaky, from the chair from the hit-man, paused for balance, and then came towards him. He took her all in: triangular face, petite, a loosely crocheted top over a pink bra, belt-sized jeans shorts, bronzed skin (getting fairer, she hoped, with that skin bleacher she was shooting up each night in the bathroom) and he couldn’t move, couldn’t turn away away. And his face froze just below a smile and he said, Hello, and kicking himself later he added, I just came to say goodbye…
Which is not what he had really intended to say at all. The boyfriend, professionally slippery, had already slipped away, and Bruce saw too that no-one else in the bar was looking at him (he would imagine their bursts of laughter when he tried to sleep later), but their faces were down, away, focussed on other, suddenly fascinating, things.
Noo came right up to Bruce and put her arms around his neck and looked up. A very sad, what-have-I-done face, a look somewhere between feigned apology and feigned pity, a look that said I thought you were one of the ones who wouldn't fall in love, who only pretend to believe when I pretended to like you, but I was wrong (Beware The Ro3!), and she asked him to buy her a rum shooter. Pathetically, he nodded and indicated he would also have a beer he didn't want or need, and, here’s the kicker, he said again, I just came back to say goodbye.
I'm going back to Hong Kong tomorrow, he said and she looked even sadder as she saw 3000Baht slipping away with more plastic surgery and her boyfriend's motorbike repairs held off in the distance still, and she pouted her lower lip. Which must have done something inside her mouth because she slowly unwound her hands from his neck to tighten the stud in her tongue and she smiled, against the flow of Little Miss All-Forlorn, as she did this. But his confused mind was made up, probably, and he would leave now, now that all his dignity was shredded and burnt in offerings at the bar’s small shrine. He took his beer, drank most of the bitter razor-blades quickly, called for the check-bin, paid, then placed a 100baht note tenderly into her bra, making sure it was right against the nipple (he wondered later if those firm breasts were genuine, or part of a job-lot with the silicone nose-bridge she was so proud of), and he kissed her cheek again (it struck him that she hadn’t kissed him properly - only pecks - on the lips in all their time together) and somehow, not through courage, not through reason, almost accidentally, he managed to leave.
He cursed himself audibly for being the cliché he always mocked as he walked down the strip, crushed a 20Baht rose underfoot and, neither sober nor drunk but flushed and giddy, turned left at the quiet road to kick at stones and cans along the footpath and to fend off the occasional katoey on a scooter for the half-K back to his wrong hotel.