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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Disappointing Results

We had 5 kids go for PSLE this year. 3 out of 5 topped their cohort. See HERE and HERE. Given that these were children from "elite" primary schools, I had expected 3 A* out of 5 and 2 A. In the end, we only have

- 1 A* and ...
- 4 As.

This blogpost probably puts a dent in our reputation. But truth is truth and we owe it to people to report the results honestly.

Monday, November 24, 2014


The Husband and I celebrate our birthdays together. This year, we decided to go and eat truffles. We booked a table at Ristorante da Valentino and ordered truffle pasta. The truffle cost $12 per gram. There were 15 grams worth of truffle shavings atop the pasta. Ok... you can do the Math right?

Never mind. We did not celebrate our birthdays the past 2 years so I rationalised this under 3 celebrations in one. Fewer celebrations but maximum delectation.

Unfortunately, it wasn't very delectable. The truffle was bland as bland can be. It smelled of nothing at all. The reasons can be as follows...

(1) Valentino's had mistakenly bought Tuber Indicum (which are lookalike truffles from China) - See HERE. You just have to give it to the PRC people. They can forge anything - even truffles.

(2) Petunia's palate was not refined enough to taste the subtle truffle taste... but no lehhh... I am generally quite good at differentiating tastes. This time, I tasted nothing.

(3) We had black truffle, which should really be heated to release its flavours. These shavings had not been heated so they did not release their flavours.

Black Truffle at Valentino's

Alba White Truffle at Garibaldi. This one had flavour. 
The Husband had this as an invited guest. I was not there.

Hmmmm... I am not keen to try truffle again. It is a lot of money to pay to taste nothing. In contrast, $5 can get you a laksa with kick... and $2.50 can get you xin zhou mi fen with crispy edges (like a flavourful cross between a roti prata and fried beehoon). Really... I should keep my feet firmly planted on the ground, and eat from our Singaporean culinary tradition... rather than try all these fanciful whimsies.

I am trying NOT to think about the money I spent for tasting nothing.


Xin zhou mi fen with crispy edges.

The first time we went to Valentino's, we had a great meal. See HERE. This time around, it wasn't that great and even more expensive.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Small Setback Leading to Large Setback

From Empty Water Bottle To Cuts And Abrasions
The water bottle was not properly closed. By the time I had cycled to the beach, all the water was gone. That irritated and frustrated me. It was just a small thing but because I kept chewing on the idea, it distracted me from the route.

The cycling path towards the beach has slopes that go up and go down. I fell on a down slope. It was a painful fall and the bike was damaged. It was nothing serious because I had a few cuts, some abrasions and a big fat scare.

However, compared to an empty water bottle, it was quite a bit more serious.

From A Badly Sighted Pistol To A Disastrous Competition Result
Smelly Boy loves guns. It was a no brainer for me to sign him up for shooting classes, from whence he progressed to shooting competitions. He had, in fact, been talent spotted by the RI shooting coach for DSA... but stubborn Petunia chose not to DSA him.

He took part in a competition on Sunday. His gun was badly sighted so his first shot went awry. He scored that first shot in the lowest of the low. This irritated and frustrated him. A badly sighted air pistol is common. It is a small thing and only requires a few adjustments with knobs to fix. However, Little Boy kept chewing on the missed first shot. It distracted him from all his shots in the first 2 sets.

He recovered at the 3rd set, calming himself down and placing the poor shots behind him. 拿 得 起 放 得 下.

Nonetheless, the damage was done. For the very first time, Smelly Boy was chewed up by his coach.

Little J's Wrong Paper Leading To Lousy Marks
This little boy had written on the wrong paper. In itself, this was a small thing. However, his emotional balance left him entirely because of this little mishap. As he was writing, he failed to implement all the writing techniques that he had practised so hard for a year.

His compo score was rather dismal, even if he did not fail.

If only he had been able to 拿 得 起 放 得 下  Then, he would not have allowed an earlier setback to lead on to a later and more serious setback. All these thoughts fell into place in my head as I sat there almost in tears wondering exactly which part of my body was in excruciating pain. I tell you... everything hurt.

So, on the way back, I resolved to write this post for Little J's mommy to read. Hopefully, she and I can train Little J to 拿 得 起 放 得 下, so that at his PSLE... one small setback won't lead on to an overall disaster.

Post-Script: Pilot Training
A blog reader helpfully told me that in fighter pilot training, the pilots are specifically trained to ignore and accept small errors so as to prevent bigger ones with fatal consequences.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Living Gluten Free in Singapore

Awareness of coeliac disease is low in Singapore. Just this week alone, a nurse asked "What happens to you when you eat gluten?"... AND a doctor said, "You have an expensive allergy."

It is funny how some people attach snob appeal to gluten allergy, like it is some Sexy Disease.

Anyway, in Singapore, gluten allergy is not expensive at all. In fact, it almost ensures that in Singapore, one spends less on food. I can no longer eat in most Western food restaurants (... you know, Jamie Oliver... Jaan... Lawry's... The Clan). If one is not careful, gluten can be found in sauces and dips... or coating this or that. It is just not worth paying so much money to tikam-tikam an encounter with stomach cramps, diarrhoea and a sulking thyroid gland.

I hang out mostly in hawker centres and kopi tiams now. Restaurants that sell local fare revolving around rice is mostly safe for me. The whole range of nonya cakes that I never used to eat, must now serve as desserts for me. I have tried buying gluten free chocolate cakes... sponge cakes... bread. Seriously, they are nothing like the real thing. Most taste awful. I actually make yummier gluten free bread than the bakeries which sell gluten free.

Petunia's gluten free dinner rolls - light, fluffy and chewy. 
Most gluten free breads taste powdery and dry.

Most though, I rely on local food. It is a whole lot cheaper, a great deal more yummy than gluten free wannabe quiches, pies and cakes... and it is gluten free. So no, this is not an expensive allergy at all... and it is definitely not a Sexy Disease when one spends so much time letting loose in the toilet.

At least, my skin does not break out in boils.

In general though, healthy people underestimate the impact of a gluten allergy. In one café along Robertson Quay, I asked the waitress if they had gluten free bread. She came back with the answer "Our sourdough bread is delicious and gluten free." I was pleasantly surprised but I decided to double-check.

"What is your gluten free sourdough bread made of?" I asked.

"Like all bread, it is made of wheat flour," she said.

Oh dear... if I had believed her, I would be writhing in pain the next day.

Then, last week, I went to Aston's for ribeye steak. The gravy comes in a small bowl, which I remove because it looks like it has been thickened with flour. On this occasion, the gravy had spilled all over the meat. I considered what to do.

"Can you tell me if there is flour in the gravy? I asked.

"There probably isn't," the manager said.

"I cannot eat it based on a 'probably' dear. I can get very sick from it. Can you be sure?" I insisted.

This manager was quick to grasp the ramifications of her careless answers. She quickly said, "The gravy comes from a central kitchen. We don't know what is inside. I think you should not eat it."

Most servers don't catch on so fast so one must really be very careful when eating out.

From Fail to 15/20

Friday, November 14, 2014

Blk 122 Sin Ming Road

At Blk 122 Sin Ming Road, there are 3 kopi tiams in the same block. The kopi tiam on the far left has an over representation of yummy food. There is...

- Ah Orh Teochew Seafood (1 pomfret for $75)
- Braised duck (and Kiam Chye Duck Soup)
- Bak Kut Teh (peppery sort)

Ah Orh Teochew Seafood's cold crabs are chockfull of yellow roe EVERY time. This time though, the flesh was a bit dry... like overcooked. It is $15 for one teeny crab (full of roe). I could not help comparing this with New Chua Kee Restaurant's delectably delicious black pepper crab. There is no fight. New Chua Kee's crabs win hands down. I don't think I will order Ah Orh Seafood's cold crabs again. Too expensive, too small... even if full of roe.

Braised duck... best!

Everyone orders this. Once, I noticed no queue at the stall. It was because they had run out of duck soup.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Disciplining a Child With Pee

A while back, I decided to call him Smelly Boy, a tongue in cheek reference to the odour that radiated from my son. He smelled bad even after a shower. I discovered that for 3 weeks, he had bathed only in pure water because he had run out of soap, and could not be bothered to get a new bottle from under the commode.

One can only imagine the slurry of bacteria, milling about under those armpits, feasting on his teenage sebum and sweat.

Unwilling to enter into direct confrontation with my teen, I resolved to be tolerant of the miasma that hung palpably about my son. Till one fateful night. This huge thing came crawling onto my bed into the tiny space between his Father and I. Along with the huge thing came the smells of 5000 farts.

I lost it. Persnickety Petunia lost it. 

The smell was so bad and it assaulted me in what I considered my bastion of cleanliness, cosiness and safety. It was like Sauron's dark forces had invaded the elven refuge of Lothlorien, and I, the Galadriel of my bed, rose in my queenly glory to repel the... the... the... unspeakable PONG!


He was unspeakably smelly and I was unspeakably angry, having done with many gentle admonishments. In the grip of my fury, I invented a Persuasive Line of Action. I told my son that if he PONGED me again, I would collect my pee and spray it here, there and everywhere in his room. I did think of using Milo's pee but I thought too that Milo would be very disturbed if I rushed towards him every time he tried to pee. It is easier to collect my own pee, and/or his Father's pee. Smelly Boy would then have to sleep night after night in the miasma of our ammonia.

That would put him through the exact suffering he puts us through every time he comes within 1 metre of us.

And whaddaya know. This Pee Discipline works like a charm. Smelly Boy no longer smells bad at all.

P5: Top in Level

Thursday, November 6, 2014

P5 SA2 Top in Class

Frankly, this boy was good to begin with. He is one of the easiest children to teach - gentlemanly, biddable, motivated and very intelligent. His Mommy is one of the easiest to work with. I need to say something only once and she gets me, and gets it done. Nothing falls in the gaps. With this pair, it is like giving a helium balloon a very very light tap. The balloon soars with little effort on my part.

With parent-child pairs like these, the Teacher matters little. Unlike MANY of my other students (who have either this or that problem and whose parents require [sometimes] more than their fair share of coaching and reminders) I have a nagging and very demoralising suspicion that this little fella would do well, with or without me. 

Top is top, however.... so here it is.

For more student results, go HERE.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

UNSW Writing

I had never heard of UNSW Writing till today. My own kids took Higher Distinction in the UNSW English, not Writing. The difference is that one tests MCQ. The other tests composition writing. 

So, this came as a surprise. This child signed herself up for this without telling me and the results have just been released. Seriously, to all of Dr Pet's mommies who are reading this, please do not give me any more gifts nor presents. From 2015 onwards, I will return every single gift that is presented to me, no matter what the occasion (from Teachers' Day to Mooncake Festival). I don't want gifts. 

I want committed parent-child pairs, and emails reporting results like the one below.

Actually, I am doubly proud of this Mommy. She is not a graduate. Yet, she writes better than some graduates I know - coherent and clear. This Mommy's overall socio-psychological circumstances were such that she had to be doubly committed and 3 times more determined than anyone else to make it work. There was so much weighing this Mother down. I think this Mommy is a prime example of the adage "Love Conquers All."

For more student results, go HERE.

Maintain A Sim Lim Square White List

Picture from HERE.

There are miscreants in Sim Lim square that prey on tourists. They sweet talk and cajole unsuspecting tourists to sign documents that pledge that they will pay $1500 for warranties. In a case reported HERE, the miscreants fleeced a man who earns only $200/month. In another case reported HERE, the same miscreants refunded $1010 to a woman (upon the injunction of the Small Claims Tribunal) and forced her to count her money on the floor of their shop. There is even a third case HERE!

Frankly, this goes beyond merely fleecing a customer. Whoever these people are, it is not the money they are after, it is the joy of seeing someone writhing in emotional agony. Someone in that shop is a psychopath who enjoys wielding abusive power over another human being... and enjoys inflicting gratuitous emotional pain on another. Money is just a tool to that end.

The Sim Lim Square White List
It appears that the shops get around Sim Lim Square's Black List by changing their names. So, the solution is to maintain a White List. The White List contains the names of shops that Sim Lim Square Management has accredited to be trustworthy. Place these White Lists in prominent locations and on the internet. Shoppers can then refer to the list to see if the shop they are patronising is ON it.

If the shops want to get ON the list, then they have to behave. They won't be able to just change their names to get ON the list because it would conflict with another shop's name, and that other shop will complain.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Highest Mark of All Her School Compos This Year

For more student results, go HERE.

Behind Every Improvement There Is A KickAss Mommy!

For more student results go HERE.

Student Results Collated

This post will be updated as and when student results are reported by parents via email, whatsapp or Facebook.

Results Reported From 31 Aug  2014 to the Present
(1) Top in Cohort, Top in Cohort, Top in Class - HERE
(2) Three of Five Topped Cohort - HERE
(3) Breaking Out of Sisyphus' Punishment - HERE
(4) From 14/20 to 17/20 - HERE
(5) Behind Every Improvement There Is A KickAss Mommy - HERE
(6) Highest Mark Out Of All Her School Compos This Year - HERE
(7) UNSW Global Writing - HERE
(8) P5 SA2 Top in Class - HERE
(9) P5 Top in Class - HERE
(10) From Fail to 15/20 - HERE
(11) Disappointing Results - HERE.
(12) P6 CA1 Results - HERE
(13) 2015 SA1 Results (Part 1) - HERE
(14) 2015 SA1 Results (Part 2) - HERE
(15) Thrilled to Bits - HERE
(16) Promising Writer. Wow! - HERE
(17) 2015SA2 - HERE
(18) 2016SA2 - HERE
(19) 2016PSLE - HERE

From 14/20 to 17/20

For more student results, go HERE.