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Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Acorn Fed Iberico Pork

Home made gluten free bread with truffle manchego cheese and acorn fed iberico pork sausage.

I first wrote about acorn fed iberico pork HERE. The Daughter extended a business trip to Europe and passed by Sevilla, Spain. Oh joy! She came back with 1 kg of acorn fed iberico pork for me! These types of hams and sausages are horrendously expensive in Singapore!

The French Grocer retails it at SGD$374.00 per kg! The daughter spent only SGD$60 per kg thereabouts.

If you go all the way there, do not settle for the iberico de cebo (which means grain fed). Spend a bit more and get the iberico de bellota (which means acorn fed). The acorn fed pigs free range in oak forests.

New Ubin Seafood Again

After a staff at New Ubin Seafood accused me of trying to get free crab from them HERE, I sulked for years and refused to go back. Then, I found a post by ieatishootipost on my Facebook praising their new outlets and dishes.

Even though I was mortally wounded to my heart, my greedy tummy still coerced me back there to try out new dishes and new outlets. Also, the family running it has generations of boys hailing from ACS. I could not stay angry forever. It would not do justice to the ACS spirit.

So, during our staycation at home, we went over to indulge.

Smoked pork curry.

Boss beehoon.

Smoked pork curry AFTER stirring in the eggs.

Black Angus beef.

Heart attack fried rice made from the beef fat from the Black Angus beef.

Saturday, December 28, 2019

Gender Inequality

Melinda Gates' book, "The Moment of Lift," touched me greatly. After reading the book, I marched into Chong Pang Market and told one of the sweetest and kindest hawkers that I don't like to be called, "小妹." Poor man. I am sure he did not know what hit him.

I did tell him as nicely as I could. I am blessed that even though he felt a bit hurt, he bears me no ill will.

I felt that I had to do my part for all womanhood, you know. The culture of the market is emmm... quite patriarchal. The Husband usually lets me walk in front so that he has my back. As such, the hawkers see me first and call out, "妹妹." Then, they see the husband and address him as "老板." 

I know. I know. When people call me "妹妹," it is a compliment on youthful looks, and also conveys a sense of paternal, maternal and fraternal affection. I am to be pampered, cherished and looked after. However, it is also true that "妹妹" are more pampered, than respected. 

This is the culture of the Chong Pang market's social heart. 

There is a steep sense of gender INequality that is alien to my own life experience. In my entire life, up until I started making friends at Chong Pang Market, not a single male of my acquaintance of any age has ever called me ""妹妹." I have also never addressed any male as "大哥" nor even "帅哥." The sugar cane auntie refers to the young man at the drinks stall as "帅哥." He is younger than she is. He is younger than I am. Why is he "帅哥" and I am "小妹?" I am probably 20 years older than he is. If The Husband is called "老板," why I am not called "老板娘?"

People who know me professionally might even say to the hawkers, "Huh? You all never die before ah? How can "小妹" even come out of your mouth when you are addressing Dr. Pet?" The problem really is that these hawkers make food that I like to eat. The power in the relationship lies in their skilful hands.

At first, I laughed it off and told myself that my own self-concept needs to be stronger than a mere name. A rose by any other name would smell as sweet. I am Dr. Pet and even if people call me "bitch", I am still Dr. Pet. However, after I read Melinda Gates' book, I decided that I should do my part to move gender equality forwards and not sit back, giggle happily and look on the brighter side of being called "小妹."

Some of the stories in Melinda Gates book are heart rending. Her research shows that there is not a single poor country where there is gender equality. Poverty and gender inequality seem to go together.

Gender Equality: Contraception
In countries where women are treated unequally to men, women have no access to contraception. Neither is marital rape illegal. Husbands have conjugal rights. Women cannot say, "No." Women who ask their husbands to wear condoms are beaten because in such countries, husbands have the right to beat wives. 

As a result, women are unable to space out their children. They have the next child before their older one is old enough to be weaned off the breast. The women cannot work outside the home because they have 3 babies under the age of 5 to look after. The family stays poor since babies need money and mothers cannot make money.  Poor families cannot afford an education for their children. In some cases, young men of 20 years old have never learnt to tell time. Elder sisters have to leave school at 10 yrs old. They grow up uneducated and perpetuate the cycle of poverty because they have no skills to earn a living.

The Gates Foundation realised that when they lifted women up towards gender equality with men, in sexual matters, they also disrupted the cycle of poverty and lifted the whole country's prosperity. This was an area of high leverage.

Gender Equality: Education
In countries where women are treated unequally to men, women have less access to education. It is elder sisters who have to leave school to look after younger siblings. Women (even in USA and Singapore) shoulder the greater burden of unpaid labour at home. So, when push comes to shove, the boys stay in school and the girls stay home to do unpaid labour.

In such a society, women depend on men's good faith. Melinda Gates recounts the story of a woman with no education and no skills. Her husband had ditched her and her daughter. Her only recourse was sex work. This woman worked hard and send her daughter to a good school, determined that her child would never have to sell sex for money. However, one day, her daughter's classmates found out about her work as a prostitute and started a campaign of bullying. The lady came home after work one day to find her daughter hanging from a rope on the ceiling.

As a mother and a woman, I could not help crying when I got to that part in the book.

Gender Equality: Farming
When the Gates Foundation wished to improve agricultural practices in poor countries, they ran into difficulty because they did not at first realise that the women worked in the fields, not the men. 

Husbands specified the contours of seed design. They wanted high yield and pest resistant. These were good traits. However, in one case, the seeds grew into plants that grew too low to the ground for easy harvest. The women had to bend. After 1 year, the women refused to use the same seeds. As a result, all the R&D that went into a seed designed to men's specifications which the women later rejected. It made sense to ask women what plant traits they wanted before even starting to design seeds. Yet, because of gender inequality, the scientists could not talk to women because women are not allowed out of the home.

Since women were unequal to men, they were not consulted on what type of seed to buy, nor were they allowed to attend farming courses, nor did their husbands give them time to tend their crops. Their husbands did not see the work these women had to do. Their husbands did know that they wanted their meals hot and the house clean, and assumed that doing these things required no time nor effort at all. So, if it was a tussle between the husband's needs/wants, the husband won and the crops in the field were neglected.

Unsurprisingly, agricutural yield was poor. The whole country stayed poor.

The Gates Foundation realised that when they lifted women up towards gender equality with men, they also lifted the whole economy and the whole country's prosperity. This was an area of high leverage.

Gender Equality in China vs Singapore
Of the male hawkers in Chong Pang, whom I really try very hard to respect and whose friendships I actively cultivate, it was the PRC immigrant who was the first to figure out that what makes me tick is "respect" and not "masculine patronage." I am not surprised because compared to modern China today, some sectors of Singapore lag behind in gender equality.

The Daughter's gymnastics coaches were a husband and wife pair who once competed on the PRC Olympics team and even trained later batches of PRC Olympics gymnasts. The wife never took her husband's name. PRC women have spunk and expect respect. They  expect to be called "美女" instead of "小妹." In my informal ethnographic study of Chong Pang Market, I have come to understand that the ethos of Chong Pang Market is a very patriarchal one that holds echoes of the male-female relationships from Singapore's 3 wives and 6 concubines era (before the women's charter).

In such societies, a woman's worth is in her looks (necessarily so because women were without any other worth). This is alien to me. My looks have never been my source of pride. I don't even wear make-up and clothes are always chosen for comfort. I have had the same hairstyle for 30 years, which requires only 1 trip a year to the hairdresser (chiefly because I don't like people to touch my hair and so I stay away from the hairdresser's as much as I can). Indeed, I just visited a hairdresser for an $8 cut (because Chinese New Year prices have kicked in), and the man asked me, "You woke up today and have not brushed your hair ah?" I do often forget to brush my hair, sometimes for up to 5 days. It is long and hangs straight down. I did not think people even noticed that I have not brushed it.

Since the men in Chong Pang believe that a woman's worth is in her looks, I am guessing this is why the men at Chong Pang compliment me on my looks and try to flirt with me. I am guessing that they do that with all women whom they are friendly with. That is perhaps their way of building a relationship with me so that I will buy more of their food.

They don't have to do that, you know. I cannot stay away from their food anyway!

My Challenge
My challenge now is really to get them to treat me the way I want to be treated (and how they should treat all women), without seeming snooty nor arrogant, because you see... in their worldview, they have done nothing wrong. They are being kind by being patronising to their "妹妹".

I have decided to push back somewhat and gently stand up for all women in my own small way, without hurting the feelings of these men who know not what they do (Luke 23:34). Heeheehee! Hmmm... maybe it is time to sweetly and nicely mess with their heads.

Thursday, December 26, 2019

Naked Burgers at Hans Im Gluck

On our way home from Aoki, we passed in front of a restaurant with decor so charming that Petunia wandered in to look at the menu. The prices were reasonable. So, we made a booking and returned 2 days later. This restaurant is a keeper! Food was good. The waiter was handsome and had a groovy tattoo along the whole of his left arm. He was so warm and friendly too! The music was good. There was an allergen card that detailed all possible allergens. For gluten, it also specified whether it was wheat or barley or spelt. 

A Ring of Fire and 4 Nerds

Today, on 26 December 2019, there was an annular eclipse. This is a full eclipse of the sun where for 2 minutes, all that is visible of the sun is a bright ring of fire shining at us from behind the moon.

In ancient cultures, stories abound of sun eating dragons (Chinese), sun eating wolf siblings (Vikings), sibling quarrels where the Moon God chased after the Sun Goddess (Inuits), matriarchs who drakened the sun to stop villagers fromgrowing too argumentative (Togo and Benin), sun eating demon head (Hindus).

Historically, solar eclipses came with a huge sense of loss and fearfulness. People thought they might lose their sun.

The Husband and I were freaked out by warnings of losing our sight. So, we resolved to wait for others to post photos for us to enjoy. We went to eat tauhuey at Chong Pang Market. We came home to 2 pairs of partners (The Daughter and her boyfriend, plus The Son and his girlfriend) working on a pinhole projector that would enable them to safely view the eclipse as it happens.

The Son and his girlfriend's photo of the partial eclipse.

The Son and his girlfriend messing with their pinhole projector.

The Daughter and her boyfriend's pinhole projector.

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Karcher SC2

My first Karcher steamer lasted 6 years. In January 2011, I bought my 2nd Karcher steamer - a bigger one. I blogged about it HERE. We are now in December 2019. My 2nd Karcher has lasted us NINE years. With it, I steam cleaned 2 aircon blowers weekly and another 2 aircon blowers every 2 weeks. Ah Tan, my aircon technician, charges me $40 to clean 1 blower unit. Without my Karcher steam cleaner, I would be spending $6720 every year just to keep our aircon blower units mould free.

In all, I have been cleaning our aircon blowers for 15 years. At $6720 a year, I have created value worth at least $100,800 over 15 years. This is money saved and invested. Not bad for a SAHM who was paid nothing at all over 20 years for her labour at home. The Husband used to have terrible nasal congestion. He slept poorly at night. He was tired in the day. Presumably, we can even say that without the weekly aircon blower steam cleaning, he would be a lot less productive at work.

See! Behind every successful man, is a woman who successfully cleaned the aircon blowers. Nah!

Our 9 yr old Karcher was on its last legs. We brought it to the steam cleaner hospital hoping to revive our old work horse. The Karcher hospital for steam cleaners offered to us a trade-in deal. Lo and behold! We abandoned our old Karcher and bought a new one for $170. Repairing the old one would have cost $150. The decision was clear.

I did the above sums for The Husband, who clearly thought that manipulation of oxytocin levels (see HERE) works both ways. Whilst I do all I can to keep his oxytocin levels high, he can also recompense me with oxytocin. So, he said, "How about 1 kiss for every $10,000 of savings?"

Somehow, I don't know why, 我有一种被骗的感觉.

Feeling Deprived

I don't know why I have such a busy family. The Husband could absolutely not even leave Singapore during this December holidays. He also cannot leave Singapore during Chinese New Year next year. Even my kids cannot get away. If it is not this internship or that business trip, it is, " I need to pre-do my Math HW for next year because when the year starts, I will be spending nights in the robotics room." This year, The Son is in NS. The Daughter had a business trip to London. The Husband... well... he just had to stay on this island. Not even cross the Causeway.

Normally, I am quite contented to do research, catch up on recipes and prepare for the new year's classes. I read my FB feed and enjoy my friends' holidays vicariously. This year, I must confess that I feel somewhat deprived. I realise that there are people who go on TWO holidays in December. These are working folks! I have not even told you about our retired friends who spend 6 months in South America or fly out to a different city in China every month.

Given The Husband's job, that would be unthinkable.

So, The Husband tried to make things better. He figured that even if we ate out at nice restaurants every day, we would still spend less than a pair of air tickets + holiday accommodation. That was how we ended up at Aoki, eating what is arguably the best chirashidon in Singapore.

Food always makes me feel better, and home is always most comfortable.

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Oxytocin In Women

You know the phrase, "A face only a Mother could love?" It turns out that it is the work of oxytocin. Labour contractions begin when the pregnant woman's oxytocin levels spike. To induce labour, doctors administer oxytocin injections to expectant mothers. Thus, nature just about guarantees that even if a woman gives birth to a chimpanzee lookalike, she will still think it is the most beautiful baby in the world.

I swear this is true. I used to think that I gave birth to 2 really good looking babies even though objective reports accused The Son of "red-faced, wrinkled and bad-tempered THING." The effect of oxytocin at birth can last a long time. I still thought my son ever so handsome until he came home and said his friends had nicknamed him Master Splinter, on account of his prominent front teeth. It took a lot of persuading before I agreed to pay for dental work on those front teeth because I really thought him super handsome as he was.

I had given birth to a rat-faced baby and I was convinced he would grow up into Mr. Manhunt 2019.

In 2018, Dr. Xu Lei found that when it comes to dating and relationships, oxytocin has different effects on men than on women. Men exposed to oxytocin nasal spray were MORE inclined to date a woman who had a history of extra-marital affairs. Women exposed to oxytocin nasal spray were LESS inclined to date a man who had a history of extra-marital affairs.

Both scenarios make logical sense in evolutionary terms. Attached men exposed to oxytocin develop greater commitment to their primary long-term relationship, and so have no interest in dating other women who are likely to want a long term relationship too. Instead, they are more interested in women who are more likely to have a short term no commitment relationship. This way, the men can have more offspring with none of the associated costs of raising children.

Women exposed to oxytocin ALSO develop greater commitment to their primary long term relationship. However, the costs to women of short term relationships are high. They could end up raising a child all by themselves. Hence, a woman high in oxytocin is going to be repulsed by men who hold nothing but the promise of a short term fling.

This makes perfect sense when one looks at the profile of the teenage unwed mother. We already know that girls from broken homes are more likely to get snared by the unreliable promises of love from irresponsible men. In homes where daughters get plenty of regard, affection and love, daughters are high in oxytocin. These girls will settle for nothing less than a good man willing to REALLY commit long term to her. This explains why The Daughter (whom we hug and love a lot) went for a good 6 years of dating NO ONE before she found a man worthy of a long term commitment.

Practical Learning Points
(1) Give daughters much love and affection. This raises oxytocin levels, and protects them from roving idiots interested only in short term flings.

(2) Give wives much love and affection. This raises oxytocin levels and ensure that even if the competition out there is much more handsome and rich, she will be repulsed.

In short, go forth and cuddle each other. A lot.

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Oxytocin The One You Choose

I write this post partly for my children, who both are at an age to choose a life partner. It is funny how a mother's priorities change over the years. It was not too long ago when I was anxious about The Daughter's A level results. It was not too long ago when all my heart desired was that The Son do well at IB.

Today, I stand alongside both of them with those earlier milestones passed. We look towards a future and an unknown. Suddenly, all those educational attainments mean little for in the bigger scope of things, neither the A levels nor the IB define a lifetime of happiness.

A spouse does.

Of late, there has been a strange trend of men winking at me, or even chatting me up. I no longer walk to and home from Chong Pang because on the way home, an Indian man likes to walk with me, chatting. A fruit seller tells me that I am as beautiful as his mangos. Out of nowhere, men wink at me when they catch my eye. There is one at Northpoint City. There are a few at Chong Pang market. There was even one 60-ish fella selling chives dumplings who, after complimenting me on how stunning my $5 t-shirt and $5 Ali Baba pants looked, asked me if I bought his dumplings every day because I wanted an excuse to see him. Hahahahaha! Oh good grief! No! Petunia ate from the same vegetarian stall at Koufu every day, 5 days a week. No, I was NOT in love with the lady there. I was amazed at how a completely innocent gesture fed his distasteful hopes.

What I found even more shocking was that this man's wife was standing right there next to him! I have not been able to tolerate coming within 3m of this unsavoury character, since then.

It got to a point where I asked my daughter, my son, his girlfriend and The Husband whether Mama Petunia looked slutty, or something. Apart from a certain sense of puzzlement, I feel a great deal of pity for these men's wives for having picked such unsavoury characters to spend their whole lives with. I pray that my children will choose wisely. The rest of this blogpost is useless unless they choose well their spouse.

Then, I looked at The Husband and began researching frantically on how to increase levels of certain hormones. The Husband has never been inappropriate in his behaviours. He works in a job where his every word and action is scrutinised. Nonetheless, after all that winking from men I barely know, I was not going to take any chances. When you possess a priceless Mona Lisa, you take steps to protect it. Nobody ever died from being kiasu.

It was thus that I came across Dr. Rene Hurlemann's research on oxytocin's effects on men. Men who received a dose of oxytocin via nasal spray were shown pictures of their beloved women partners AND pictures of equally attractive stranger women. In the men who were given oxytocin, the pleasure and desire regions of their brains lit up when they saw pictures of their beloved partners. These regions did not light up when they looked at pictures of stranger women.

Do note also that other evidence suggests that oxytocin accentuates what is already in a relationship. If your home life is fraught with harshness and negativity, exposure to oxytocin simply makes you LESS attractive to your spouse, thus encouraging his roving eyes. If your home life is pleasant and cosy, exposure to oxytocin makes you MORE attractive, thus encouraging monogamy.

How monogamy works is a biological mystery. Monogamy is costly for mammalian males. Only 3% of mammals are monogamous. This small proportion likely reflects the fact that from a simple biological perspective, it makes little sense for males who can produce far more offspring by mating with multiple females. The only evolutionary reason for males to stay monogamous is if doing so ensures the highest chance of survival of offspring. It makes no sense to have 50 offspring if none survive.

Hence, in cultural traditions where a man and a woman marry and form a nucleus for survival, monogamy makes sense. This is the one farmhouse one couple tradition that comes to us from Europe. In cultural traditions where men and women are segregated, each performing gender defined duties, males do not have to ensure the survival of offspring. The womenfolk band together to do so. This is the 3 wives 6 concubines tradition that comes to us from feudal China.

Thankfully, in Singapore, thanks to Mrs Lee Kuan Yew, we have a one man and one wife system that requires men to take part in ensuring children thrive and survive. This is in stark contrast to some African countries where only women are left to hold the babies. The men are out drinking.

So, what have I learnt about oxytocin-ing a spouse?

(1) Increase his levels of oxytocin.

(2) Oxytocin can be increased by requiring him to hold the baby. Research shows that men who take part in childcare have increased levels of oxytocin.

(3) Oxytocin can be increased by cuddling. This makes sense when we look at cultural traditions. The Chinese are not physically demonstrative. Family members rarely touch each other in traditional Chinese. French families cuddle a lot. The French have a monogamous tradition. The Chinese have a tradition of 3 wives and 6 concubines.

(4) If you are an unmarried woman, please stay away from men who enjoy going out with buddies to bond over drinks. It is better NOT to marry than to marry one of those.

Yes yes, readers will point out that the French are known for extra-marital affairs. However, that is still better than the Chinese tradition where the notion of infidelity does not even exist since the men have a right to 3 wives, 6 concubines and others. Besides, the whole point of writing about oxytocin is to protect against infidelity.

I tell you ah... this oxytocin business works like a charm man! At the start of this year, The Husband was adamant that I was not a very attractive woman. Indeed, he has been saying that I am not pretty for 30 years.

12 months on, he now says I am very attractive. All I did was cuddle him SO MUCH that his oxytocin levels went through the roof. I haven't changed anything else!

(5) If you are an unmarried man, do think twice about marrying a psychologist because she knows how to mess with your head enough that you'll find her attractive even though you know she is not. Hahahahahahaha!

Now, dear readers, go forth and cuddle each other!

Gluten Free Shortcrust Pastry

In the years before I discovered my celiac disease, I used to make quiches and pies every week. Gluten free baking is really hard amd I am a lousy baker so I have not made any quiches nor pies for years! However, for my birthday this year, my children baked me a lemon tart with a delicious gluten free crust. Since then, I have gone on a baking spree.

62.5g salted butter
2 cups very fine almond flour
1/4 cup icing sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla essence

Cut butter into the almond flour, using a food processor fitted with the cutting edge. When the mixture turns crumbly, stop cutting. Continued cutting will melt the butter too much and the mixture becomes wet. Then, it will not absorb egg well and the resulting crust after baking, becomes too fragile.

Beat egg with vanilla essence. Mix into the almond flour crumble. Press into the pan.

Once you have this crust, you can make any filling.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Autism is NOT a Disability: Part 2

Aerated Compost Leachate

This is a vermicompost bin. Not a worm bin. Not a compost bin. It is both a worm and compost bin. I had meant it to be a compost bin but I don't know how worms got inside and thrived. 

Out of the vermicompost bin drips a fruity smelling black liquid. I suppose this is because we throw in a great deal of fruit peel. Our family can get through 6 pears and 2 mangos in 1 day, at least. On other days, we throw in even more. The fluid looks disgusting but it smells really nice, like a fruity wine. Think muscado.

I have always called this worm pee. The Husband demurs. We now call it compost leachate.

The Husband rigged up an aquarium pump to aerate the compost leachate. Apparently, this promotes the growth of aerobic bacteria (i.e., bacteria that breathes oxygen). These types of bacteria, unlike anaerobic bacteria, are good for plant health. The aerated compost leachate is not only a potent fertiliser, it is also a potent pesticide spray. The aerobic bacteria is lethal to pests.

The Husband got me lots of empty bottles and I now have a box full of aerated compost leachate. I was not too convinced about its usefulness as a pesticide, at first. I experimented with an almost dead chilli plant. See below the pictures of the before and after treatment with aerated compost leachate.

Please dilute before use or the plant will burn.

This chilli plant was on its last legs, eaten by broadmites. There is not a single bud. The leaves are all crumpled and falling off.

The same chilli plant 1 week later has new smooth leaves and multiple buds.

Sunday, December 8, 2019

The Weekend Daughter

Hamsum At Villa d'Este.

Perls Into the Sky.

Bridge Over Still Waters.

3 years ago, The Son met a girl.

1 year ago, The Son brought her home.

Since then, I have had a weekend daughter for most weekends. I think it is important for men to marry women more intelligent than themselves, simply because children's IQ is determined by maternal DNA, not paternal DNA. Unfortunately, most men prefer to marry women they feel superior to; and most women prefer to marry men smarter and more successful than themselves. Most men are attracted to physical attributes (pretty face etc...). Most women are attracted to intelligence and success.

This simply means that many intelligent women stay single, and many successful men have children dumber than themselves.

Happily, The Son has always liked clever girls. His crush in preschool was a quiet thing who was Teacher's Pet because she was such a sweet and intelligent girl. His crush in primary school was another quiet thing who topped the class and was a Prefect, to boot. She was way out of my little Blur Gong Gong's league.

Now, The Weekend Daughter is yet another quiet thing, who was ex-GEP (Gifted Education Program).

Looking at her, there is no way you can tell that she is gifted. She is quiet, humble and kind. However, as a psychologist, I know how to evaluate intelligence. The Weekend Daughter's fluid intelligence is impressive. She is also a talented painter/artist. See her works above.

Petunia has always found intelligence sexy. I am glad that The Son does too. The Daughter's boyfriend is also ex-GEP. If both of these relationships end in marriage, I am going to have a family full of very hard to control grand-children. Outwitting those little ones will be good for preventing dementia.

Actually, I am floored by both the level of intelligence and the humility of The Weekend Daughter's real family. Working together to solve a murder mystery game created by CluedUpp, we spent a day with The Weekend Daughter's family yesterday. The Weekend Daughter's younger brother is also in the Gifted Education Program. Within one afternoon, I was treated to various stimulating discourses pouring forth from the mouth of a 12 yr old boy...

- how to recognise cubic zirconia and why it turns dull over time
- an analysis of why it is NOT a good idea to jaywalk at a 4 lane t-junction
- why an opalite glows blue when light shines on it and glows brown when light shines through it
- why it is stupid to pay thousands of dollars for a jadeite bangle
- why raw stones are better than polished stones
- the difference between personality mental age and intellectual mental age
- the difference between nephrite and jadeite

All my life, I have been made to feel ashamed of my intelligence, mostly because people tended to think me arrogant when my mouth detailed a think through faster than they could think. Clearly, I was not clever enough to figure out that if I veiled my intelligence, I would be more likeable. I know that now. When someone commented that I did not seem smart enough to have a PhD, I took that as a compliment.

Still, it was quite lovely yesterday, to hang out with people who are really smarter than I am. 

Friday, December 6, 2019

He Guffawed

Going to the lawyer's office was a bit of an intimidating experience. His office was very large and he sat behind a humongous table, which he seemed to dwarf from his equally humongous swivel chair. I sat in a chair too big for me and my feet could not touch the floor. It got a little uncomfortable for me to sit there with feet dangling off the floor. So, I discreetly kicked off my shoes and sat cross-legged on the chair, answering his questions.

You know, normally, I get to ask all the questions. However, I put my clients on a sofa with plush cushions and I give them unsweetened rosemary tea.

My lawyer did a first draft of my document. Then, he called me to discuss. At one point, the lawyer asked, "Why do you close shop during the holidays? Why don't you stay open all year long?"

My eyes opened wide at that shocking question, and I replied, "Huh? If I stay open all year, when will I get to play?"

My lawyer guffawed very loudly. Then, he said, "You're an adult. You don't need to play."

Oh dear... we clearly have very very different world views. Petunia believes in playing. I am at play all the time. I see my work as play. I see my play as play. I always tell my parent coachees to let their children play. I always tell children that if they can do their work faster, they can play more. When my own children were small, I would delete HW and write excuse letters if allocated playtime was jeopardised.

I should be called Petunia Playful Lee.

When The Husband comes home, I MAKE him play. He has an extraordinarily stressful job, and often reaches home tightly coiled from the pressures at work. Did you know that stress can create irregular heart rhythms and bring on cardiac arrest? There must be playfulness in life if only to maintain good health. So, when The Husband comes home, I often DEMAND that he play with me - "Come here and play with me!"

The Husband is very dutiful and responsible. Thus, I had to convince him that it is his duty to play with me. Actually though, I really believe that play protects The Husband's emotional and physical wellbeing. Without the regular playfulness in our marriage, he would find it hard to cope with the extreme stressors of his job.

For me, personally, play time is non-negotiable. The Husband always jokes that I work too little. The hawkers at Chong Pang wonder at the sheer amount of free time I seem to have. It really isn't free time. It is non-negotiable playtime. One can get a lot of playtime and still deliver 40% to 60% A* rate in English PSLE + teach children EQ and leadership, if one is constantly trying to find ways to be efficient. 

Work smart. Don't work hard. 

It also helps to be able to do 3 things at the same time. If you do 3 things at the same time for 3 hrs, you've effectively expanded your time to 9 hrs. The other secret to getting more playtime is to hire intelligent people, who can do what you do better than you.

In this regard, I wholeheartedly embrace traditional French attitudes. In France, 30 years ago, shops close at 5pm. The French need to go home and spend time with their families. Doing what? Play lah! In today's France, it is a big no-no to text employees &/or colleagues after office hours. The HR Dept will come and counsel you for such shocking disrespect for other people's playtime.

Singaporeans work too hard, and work not smart enough. Hence, I stick out like a sore thumb with my insatiable appetite for play.

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Good Man

Today, I plucked up enough courage to "interrogate" one of the workers at my favourite braised duck stall. When I started frequenting the stall, talking to him was somewhat stressful because he had a very thick PRC accent, and spoke very fast. In those days, I was still not used to the smells and sounds of Chong Pang. This stall has 4 people manning it. Making eye contact is enough to overload me, much less having to decipher spoken words in thickly accented Mandarin.

If I saw him on duty, my heart rate would go up. I preferred to buy from the other fellow whose Mandarin I could better understand.

I am such a busybody. There were so many questions I wanted to ask him about his life as a recent immigrant to Singapore shores. Today, I plonked myself in front of him and asked all my questions.

It turns out that he was naturalised as a Singaporean, via his Dad. His Dad came here to work in the construction sector and brought the entire family over, along with his 16 year old son. This son did not like to study. So, at 16, he started working in hawker stalls. He met and married a woman from his village back in China, bought a flat, had 2 children. He said, "When she married me, I had nothing. Now, we have everything."

Apparently, this would not have been possible in China today. Properties are expensive. Dowries are exorbitant. Men cannot afford to get married in China these days. This was a revelation to me. It seems odd to pick a spouse just for the fact that he can give you a house, a car and a big bank account. I mean, what if you don't like the way this rich fellow smells? Besides, if one really wants to marry for money, why settle for just a man with ONE house? I would shoot for a man with an entire commercial building, a driver, 5 residences (each in a different country) and domestic staff in every residence.

You know, like Mrs Melania Trump?

The issue is whether one can bear to have conjugal relations with a Mr Donald Trump. Ewwww!

Then again, who am I to say what is wisdom. I am, after all, the stupid woman who quit her job to stay at home to work for free, allowing my Mother-in-law to own what is me and mine. It would never have occurred to me to ensure that The Husband get ready a house, a car and a huge bank account before I married him.

I quite like this man. At the very least, I can respect him. He dotes on his daughter. He is steadfastly loyal to his marriage. He is proud of his son. He carries himself with a quiet and humble dignity. He also takes pride in having built his family from scratch. Yes... there is a great deal to respect about him.

I wonder if I dare to collect the stories of the other people who work at Chong Pang Market.

Roving Grandpa

I must say that I am super impressed with our police officers.

Our Grandpa is a roving dementia patient. This means that he has dementia but loves to wander out of doors. Since forever, Grandpa has had the habit of taking long walks. He clocks about 8 km by foot daily. These walks are very important to him. Life would not be worth living if he could not leave the house and leave behind Grandma's nagging and critical spirit. I did consider locking the gate and imprisoning him at home, but it seems like such a cruel thing to do.

So, we gave him a GPS tracker. The last 2 times he got lost, we were able to locate him quickly using the GPS tracker.

However, when he left house yesterday, he had forgotten to bring everything. He took out his sling bag with nothing inside it: no wallet, no keys, no money.

He left house at 9am.

He did not come home.

At about 6-ish, we searched for him around the house. We thought it would be quite easy since Grandpa walks very slowly and with no money, he could not have taken a bus. In the end, we had to resort to filing a Missing Person police report. Normally, the person needs to be missing for more than 24 hours before we can make a report but when the police officer saw that it was an 83 yr old with dementia, diabetes blah blah blah, they sent out the search instructions to all the patrols even before we had even started typing the report.

We were grateful for that.

It was what happened later that was impressive. Grand Aunt was at the MRT station walking home. She saw a familiar shuffling figure in the distance and caught up to it. It was Grandpa! To me, it was divine Providence. I had got people to pray for our search and the person who found him was not even searching.

I quickly called the police station so that they would not expend resources in searching for a man we had already found. Instead of merely closing the case, the SPF sent a patrol down to our home and...
- checked in on Grandpa
- investigated thoroughly the circumstances of Grandpa's disappearance
- investigated thoroughly the circumstances of Grandpa's re-appearance

Then, they sent a patrol down to Grand Aunt's place to thoroughly investigate how Grand Aunt found Grandpa.

Petunia is always very respectful of people with high standards, whether the people are hawkers or police officers or lawyers. I was impressed by how thorough the police officers were in investigating the case. I had expected that they would simply close the case when Grandpa was found. To see such dedication on their part to ensure the wellbeing of an 83 year old made me proud to be a Singaporean.

I guess the police officers found it suspicious that an 83 year old dementia patient with a limp, had made his way 6 km away from home, by foot. Quite a feat!

Monday, December 2, 2019

The Collaboration Corner

Dr. Pet has expanded to Bukit Timah. We now have a presence at The Old Fire Station. The new premises will focus on Developing EQ. We have noted for a while...

- that secondary schools' DSA now have an added team assessment component,
- that the evaluation of personal qualities is now more important in student assessment
- that the assessment of personal qualities is now an important consideration when deciding which opportunities to give which child.

More importantly, the workplace has now changed in how it recruits individuals. Most companies now have internships to test out potential recruits. A university degree with a stellar university transcript of results is no longer enough to land a good job. HR Departments want to see how a potential recruit can get along with people at work.

Please find our new web presence here at The Collaboration Corner.

Please also see parent interviews below.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Solar Stove: The Gosun Sport

I have been eyeing this solar stove for 3 years. It started as a kickstarter project. I held off buying, waiting for the company to stabilise the technology and iron out the teething problems. Every year, I would youtube the latest reviews.

I finally took the plunge and am thrilled with my buy! On days when I am only cooking for The Husband, M and myself, this stove is enough for a one pot dish. It is quite hassle free because there is no need to watch the pot on the stove. Just fill the tray. Slide it into the solar tube and leave it in the sun.

The meats are succulent because the tube locks in moisture. Food comes out steaming hot. I put in onions and tomatoes. Both veggies came out mushy soft. The water in the tray comes from the natural food juices. I did not add any water at all.

The Husband has plenty of social engagements and often eats out. The Daughter eats out too because she works late. The Son is in the army camp. I often cook only for me and M. I hate cooking just for 2 people. It makes no sense to dirty the whole kitchen just to cook a meal for 2. With this thingy, cooking for 2 won't seem like such a hassle anymore. It is clean, oil-less and requires no supervision.


Saturday, November 23, 2019

Scents and Sensibilities

Sensibility: the quality of being able to appreciate and respond to complex emotional and aesthetic influences.

The Husband has gifted me 3 different scents. I bought 1 for myself. I now realise that I like each scent depending on my mood. Pleasures is a fresh and girlie shorts and t-shirt scent. It is the one I wear most often to Chong Pang Market to cover over the market smells. Pleasures smells of skipping and smiling and relaxed chatter. It is the scent I wear when I don't mind being underestimated. It is the 妹妹  scent. It is also the scent that gets the most compliments from women.

J'adore is a womanly scent. It projects confidence, strength and womanly allure. J'adore smells of seduction and a deep romantic connection. This is the smell of putting my head on The Husband's chest at night. This is also the scent that The Husband picked. J'adore has a strong sillage and it stays around for hours, maturing slowly from murmured conversations about his day to pre-dawn murmurs of "Did you sleep well, my love?"

Diorissimo is a sporty scent. It smells of cycling to Sembawang beach and lazy days in a hammock under a tree, cool wind caressing skin. Ohhh... Diorissimo eau de toilette does not last long! It is gone in an hour, leaving no sillage at all!

Yves Rocher's lilac scent is my giggly scent. It makes me feel mischievous and playful. This is the scent I wear on Saturdays to play with kids. This one gets gone within the hour too!

Friday, November 22, 2019

Sugar Cane Bagasse

Sugar cane bagasse is what is left after one has pressed the juice out of the sugar cane.

Fruit smoothies are a great way to get everyone in the family to ingest a lot of fruits. Some fruits, like guava, have little water content. So, I blend them with sugar cane juice. With 350ml of sugar cane juice, I can make smoothies for 7 people.

It was not long before I started looking wistfully at the sigar cane bagasse, wondering if I could turn it into fertiliser. With some research, I found that sugar cane bagasse, when composted, is rich in potassium. My garden needs high potassium feeds. So, I asked my favourite Sugar Cane Auntie for a pail of sugar cane bagasse for my compost bin.

My helper then told me that my compost bin has somehow become a vermicompost worm bin. Apparently, some vermicompost worms got in there and multiplied. Now, there is a thriving community of composting worms inside there! No wonder a dark fluid has been dripping out the bottom, which the vegetables seem to love.

That would be worm pee, I guess.

I shall bring my pail every 2 weeks to ask for sugar cane bagasse.

Monday, November 18, 2019

Intermittent Fasting: Fountain of Youth

It was Tracy Tay, my personal trainer, who taught me about intermittent fasting. In intermittent fasting, I fast from 6 pm at night to 11 am the next day. This means I go 17 hrs without food. At first, I did it to lose weight.

However, since I pair it with about 1000 calories to 1500 calories worth of cycling per day, plus various strength exercises, I am not losing weight. I gain weight but lose inches. It can be demoralising to fast, and see nothing happening on the bathroom scales. So, I almost gave up.

Then, I realised a few things...
- I was not falling sick as often as my kids were falling sick.
- My skin tone improved. My hair looked better.
- I seemed to react less violently to foods that used to make me really ill.
- I was mentally sharper.

So, I did some readings off the internet. I found that intermittent fasting...
- Improves immunity.
- Speeds up cell renewal.
- Reduces inflammation in cases of auto-immune diseases.

My readings reported other benefits which I did not notice but I do believe I experienced because of overall improvement to health...
- Cancer fighting.
- Better glucose regulation.

Boosts Immunity 
Dr. Yasmine Belkaid found that when mice fasted, their T cells and B cells (cells responsible for creating immunity against past infections by recognising and destroying pathogens previously encountered) disappeared entirely from the bloodstream and organs. They had gone to hide inside the bone marrow. The bone marrow is a nutrient rich environment for T cells and B cells. When the body started feeding again, these cells emerged from the bone marrow supercharged.

When Dr. Belkaid introduced a pathogen, fasting mice got well in 2 days. Non-fasting mice needed a week to overcome the infection.

On fasting days, I eat only from 11am to 6pm daily. This means, I fast for 17 hrs and eat only within the window of 7 hrs. Looking at Dr. Belkaid's research, it appears that my T and B cells get supercharged daily during the 17 hrs of fasting. So, now, I know why I can throw off a bug in 2 days when my kids drag on for 2 weeks.

On days when I have morning meetings, I will take a low carb breakfast of tea and soybean curd. No sweets before 11am and no sweets after 6pm.

Cell Renewal 
Dr. Valter Longo found that during fasting, damaged body cells are destroyed. When the body re-feeds, stem cells turn on and the body regenerates new and healthy cells. Dr. Longo writes of multi-system regeneration. In short, fasting forces the body to clean out low performing cells, and generate new cells faster.

No wonder my skin looks better. In fact, my complexion and hair have improved so much that I am getting compliments from men 20 years younger than I am. One fruit vendor smiled at me appreciatively and said, "You are a beautiful as my fresh mangos." Of course, we all know he was trying to sell me his mangos. Thank goodness he was not selling cuts of fresh pig. I wonder what he might have said then.

Another appreciative shopkeeper selling pots and pans waggled his eyebrows and then winked at me when he caught my eye. I am quite shocked. When did Singaporean men become like French men?

Lessened Inflammation 
Dr. Vassiliki Boussiotis reports that patients with rheumatoid arthritis reported less pain when fasting during the month of Ramadan. Studying the phenomenon, Dr. Miriam found that monocytes (white blood cells that attack pathogens) all went to hide inside the bone marrow during fasting. Monocytes are really good at inducing inflammation. With fewer monocytes in the bloodstream, patients with auto-immune conditions such as multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis, experienced less pain. I have an auto-immune condition. My immune system attacks my gut lining and my thyroid whenever I eat gluten.

Ever since I started intermittent fasting, my reactions to gluten have been much less severe and of shorter duration too.

Cancer Fighting 
Cancer cells feed on glucose. During intermittent fasting, the body switches to ketones for energy. Cancer cannot use ketones for energy. This research is by Dr. Mark Mattson.

Better Glucose Regulation 
I did not notice this before I read up. After reading, I can see that it makes sense. I used to be hypersensitive to sugar. Now, I no longer am. I still do stay away from sugar as much as possible, indulging very sparingly but I do notice that when I do take something sweet, I don't feel as ill as I used to.  For the past 6 years, The Son and I have disagreed on his habit of skipping breakfast. It turns out that he is right. Since I started skipping breakfast daily, my health and vitality have improved.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

The Sex Game

There is one biological reality that handicaps women vis-a-vis men. That reality is that women get pregnant, bear children and then spend years as primary caregivers to children. Pregnancy puts women's lives at risk. For 9 months, we are fragile beings, incapable of hard labour. The men at the braised pork stall start work at 4am and end work at 8pm, working through the sweltering heat. Imagine a pregnant man doing that.

The Sex Game disadvantages girls.

It is girls who end up fragile for 9 months and shackled to the full time care of children for 2 decades. In these 2 decades, the work we do at home, is unpaid labour. People think that the worst paid folks in Singapore are cleaners. They are not. The worst paid folks in Singapore are stay-at-home mothers, because people like us are paid nothing at all.

My decision to stay home was motivated by a single obsession. My children were not doing well. I did not really count the financial sacrifice because The Husband (after he saw how The Daughter went from bottom 25% of her cohort to top in cohort and became a prize-winning gymnast) was more than happy to be the sole breadwinner. Nonetheless, since my work attracted no salary, I did not feel good about spending money.

In those years, I was frugal to a fault. I felt that I had to justify all my expenses.  So, I allowed myself no indulgences. I paid some price in indignity too. I often had to ask The Husband's permission for purchases. My mother-in-law sincerely believed that it was her son's salary which bought our home. She claimed to own my house through her son. It hurt me very much to see that all my years of stay-at-home labour and the raising of 2 high achieving children gave me no stake in the property I lived in.

Clearly, my mother-in-law believed that I had no right to own my home since I had not been drawing a salary for 2 decades. It was her son's purchase and therefore, her house.  I, the mother of 2, and wife of her son, was merely a slave with no rights. When I signed over the title deeds of our HDB flat, I noticed that the next family had left out the name of the purchaser's wife and mother of his children in the purchase. The property was deeded in the names of the purchaser and his parents, instead. I felt sad for the purchaser's wife.

Happily, in my situation, I was able to robustly counter that I had made money through various property transactions, the proceeds of which had then gone into the purchase of our house.

Then, it struck me. What if I had made no financial contribution to the purchase of my house? Could I lay claim to my own home by simply having done 20 years of stay home labour? Put this way, readers might answer, "Yes." In reality, the answer was, "No."  For 20 years, I worked for no salary and people assumed I had no rights to own my home nor buy indulgences for myself without permission.

I am reading "Moment of Lift" by Melinda Gates. She writes of African daughters-in-law who, upon marriage, have to stay in a small mudhouse away from the main house, not allowed to be under the same roof as their mother-in-law. Melinda Gates shares that financially empowering these daughters-in-law to start small businesses, also allowed these daughters-in-law to command more respect within their husbands' families. Meanwhile, in Singapore, I stared in horror at my friend, whose mother-in-law had called her "lazy cow" during her confinement period.

So, you see, The Sex Game is highly disadvantageous to women. If we do our jobs as mothers and wives, outside of the workforce, we give up some personal rights and suffer a lot of indignity. I contrast my past 2 decades with my friend's 2 decades. She is the CEO of her organisation. She asked no one's permission to buy her $200,000 Porsche. My friend's mother-in-law would never claim to own my friend's house.

Every so often too, I see married men (with stay home wives) trying their best to score with a woman not their wife. This then begs the question, why is life so unfair? Why is it that women, who work hard at being wives and mothers, have to give up personal rights, suffer financial indignities AND the indignity of a husband with a roving eye?

So, no, I am quite unable to accept an attitude of nonchalance towards teenage pregnancy held by some communities in Singapore - See HERE. The Sex Game is simply too disadvantageous to females, even within the context of a legal marriage and The World's Best Husband (i.e., my husband). Research data all over the world shows that teenage pregnancy CAUSES long term poverty. Teenage mothers disrupt their education. In turn, their own children become poorly educated and raised. These children cannot climb out of poverty.

Now that my children are grown, my career can re-start. I have earned an interesting income for the past 6 years. I have plans for professional development. My mother-in-law no longer bothers me. My claim to own my house is indisputable. I no longer ask The Husband's permission to buy my indulgences.

I am aware that I can re-start my career only because I am well educated. Teenage pregnancies put a stop to a woman's education. Uneducated, her earning power across her lifetime is directly pressed down to subsistence levels.

If Dr. Pet had to put up with being treated as a lesser person, with lesser rights, for 20 years, imagine what life would be like for an uneducated teenage mother. Surely, it would be a life full of indignity and even fewer personal rights.

One moment of pleasure translates into 9 months of pregnancy pains, a lifetime of indignity, and unending poverty because of low educational attainment.

Tell me, is it worth it?

So, when The Daughter was dating her first boyfriend and jeopardising her A level results, I made sure I told her that sacrificing her academic performance for a boy was not worth it. A woman should have her own worth (above and beyond a pretty face), independent of the man she dates or marries. That is the only way for a female to live a life of dignity, beholden to no one, desired by all, and loyal to one. I cited the example of Coco Chanel, who established The House of Chanel and with a combination of independent worth and beauty, was greatly loved by the Duke Of Westminster.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

6 Mushroom Glutinous Rice

The Husband loves glutinous rice. So, when I came across a selection of forest mushrooms at Chong Pang Market, I decided to cook them with glutinous rice. Since these are dessicated mushrooms a little goes a long way.

50g Agrocybe Aegerita (also called Black Poplar mushrooms)
50g Agaricus Blazei Murrill (also called Mushroom of the Sun)
50g Morchella Esculenta (also called Morel mushrooms)
50g Hedgehog Hydnum
50g Auricularia Auricula-Judae (also called Black Wood Ear mushroom)
50g Shiitake
6 Chinese sausages (sliced thinly)
3 cups of glutinous rice
4 tbsp of sesame oil
1 large onion (chopped)

(1) Re-hydrate the mushrooms by pouring boiling hot water over them, and letting them soak for 2 hrs.

(2) Cook 3 cups of glutinous rice for 4 minutes in a pressure cooker with 3.5 cups of water (used to soak the mushrooms.

(3) Heat up 4 tbsp of sesame oil and brown the chopped onions. Add in the sliced Chinese sausages. Saute till edges crisp up and blisters form on the slices.

(4) Add in the re-hydrated mushrooms. Saute till steaming hot.

(5) Add in the glutinous rice. Saute till steaming hot.

(6) If the glutinous rice is not soft enough, transfer into a large bowl. Add 4 tbsp of water. Microwave for 20 minutes.

Monday, November 11, 2019

Different Worldviews

Growing up, I had no hawker friends.

In the circles I grew up in, if you did not make into university, the world would come to an end. At the very worst, all my cousins my age graduated from polytechnic. With The Son and The Daughter, our expectations were much higher than scraping through to university. I aimed The Daughter at 8 A level distinctions. I aimed The Son at the perfect IB score of 45. The Daughter did get 8 A level distinctions. The Son scored 44.

I expected The Daughter to apply to the Ivies and to Oxbridge. She refused to. We all know that children always fall short of parent expectations. I was angry and disappointed when she decided to accept a place in NUS. I expected The Son to try for the Ivies and Oxbridge too. This child is happy to do so. Secretly though, after The Daughter's experience in NUS, I am hoping he will go to NUS too.

What I am trying to say is that in my worldview, it is unthinkable that my children and my friends' children NOT go to university at all. My clients and my friends all think like me.

Now though, I have hawker friends, and they think very differently, indeed. I very much enjoy chatting with my hawker friends because their mindset and worldviews are so different from mine that I almost feel like I am travelling to a different country, getting to know a different culture. When you're more than half a century old (as I am) there is little that fascinates you, unlike a child of 2, who finds even an ant trail full of novelty and charm.

Talking to my hawker friends, I recapture the feeling of being fascinated by something complex and new. Sometimes, I wonder if the social divide is less of an SES thing than it is a cultural thing. Clearly, a large difference exists between how my hawker friends think and how I have been brought up to think... and how I brought my children up to think.

If I had less respect for my hawker friends, I think I would dismiss their worldviews as not worth my time. However, I have grown to respect them too much now. I prefer to think there is no right or wrong, better or worse. It is a different cultural mindset, is all.

For one thing, their view of an education is unlike mine. The 58 yr old man with an 11 yr old son tells me that it is not necessary to be very educated. He does not have the same expectations of his son as I have of mine. This 58 yr old man tells me that plenty of graduates cannot find jobs even though they have studied for so many years. This is true. He further states that in life, education is less important than a pair of hands that can make money. This is also true.

Then, it struck me. Isn't this what Ong Ye Kung has been saying? It is not education. It is skills, attitude and passion. A degree is only a piece of paper. It means nothing if you don't possess a pair of hands which can make money.

When I talk to my hawker friends, I notice that they have pride. They hold their heads high and think well of themselves. They do not see themselves as inferior nor less intelligent than anyone. They tell me that they are not stupid, but they just did not like studying. The lady who makes my teh si kosong can make a drink so fast that it blurs my eyes. On second, I am waving at her. The next second, my drink is handed to me. She yells at the newbie for being less than focused, "You must focus! We cannot keep people waiting!" Oh dear... I imagine that if I were hired to make my own teh si kosong, I would probably get yelled at too. I don't even make my own tea at home!

At first, I listened and noted what my hawker friends said. Later, I thought on their words. Their words make sense.

What is there not good about their lives?
(1) Popular stalls make a good living.
(2) They are proud fathers and husbands, able to provide for their families.
(3) They are beholden to no one.
(4) It is money made honestly through skilled work.
(5) There is pride to be had from high quality craftsmanship.

They are not highly educated but life is still good. Some find in themselves the generosity to give generously back to society. The Boss of my favourite stall refuses to raise prices because doing so may affect the poor elderly folks who patronise his stall. Twice a year, he treats his workers to an overseas company trip, happy to forego earnings from stall closure, and happy to pay for his employees' holiday. Within his circle of influence, he is such a blessing to others.

Best of all, his circle of influence is wide because his food blesses so many people.  This, I tell you, is a life of contribution Dr. Pet would be proud to lead. Unfortunately, I am such a bad cook!

Another difference is in their attitude towards sexual issues. My eyes opened wide when the aunties nonchalantly mentioned that some customers had to marry at 18 because they had gotten pregnant. They used the word "caught it", like it was a contagious something that you can catch from ignorance. Hence, the persons involved weren't quite at fault.

They communicated no judgment of the unwed mother. When they looked at me, and said that I looked rather young to have my children in their 20s, I panicked inside wondering whether any of them thought that I once had been an unwed teenage mother!

Perhaps, I should not have worried? They may not think badly of me even if I were really an unwed teenage mother. In fact, I do remember that when I visited the GP to get a pregnancy test, the receptionist took one look at my baby face, and looked for my card in the Children's Records. Then, she also mentioned some counselling service. It took a while for her to understand that I was already in my mid-20s, and married.

When The Daughter was growing up, I watched her like a hawk. I vetted all the young men in her circle. I made her do Powerpoint presentations about sexually transmitted diseases, telling her that a young man who LOOKS clean, may not be clean. I drove her home from every late night. I did not allow sleepovers at all.

I even had a talk with The Daughter's boyfriend telling him that The Daughter does not give her heart easily and if he was not serious about her, he should stop right there. The Son was basically given a talk about respecting other people's daughters in the way he would like his own sister to be respected.

Once, I was out at a late night movie date with The Husband. We passed by a group of youths when I saw 2 young girls who looked about 14 yrs old. I was aghast. What a gross dereliction of duty on the part of their Moms!? Why were the teen girls allowed outside so late into the night? I spluttered all the way into the theatre when The Husband told me off and said, "Stop complaining or you will spoil our date."

With my fingers crossed, I am thankful that there has yet been no unplanned pregnancy in my immediate family. Then again, talking to the hawkers also got me thinking. I would like grandchildren and The Daughter is LATE in giving me one. Perhaps, an unplanned pregnancy is not quite as bad as no pregnancy at all? Unfortunately, I think I did such a thorough job of my children's sex education that I don't think The Daughter nor The Son will ignorantly "catch" something.

In a separate conversation with the hawkers, we spoke about dialects. One hawker commented that his mother tongue, Teochew, was quite crude because the phrase for asking someone to come and eat could be translated as asking someone to come make love. I stared at him with my eyes large, unable to decide if he was being rude to me or not. I decided to overlook the comment because I really was not sure if he was just being normally nonchalant about such things, or if he really meant to be rude. These hawkers have been so kind to me that I cannot think that they would be deliberately rude to me.

Post script:
After some thought, as a mother of a daughter (and a woman myself), I do think that all this sex business disadvantages the female. I don't buy into this nonchalant attitude to sex. For sons and men, the impact may be not as great. For daughters and women, a teenage pregnancy means being unable to rise into independent wealth. Men have strength and stamina. Women need an education because we do not have brawn. I do not have a pair of hands that make money. I have a brain that makes money. 

Else, women would be forever dependent on men and subject to men.

I don't like that.

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Knitting In Cashmere

Finally, I finished knitting my dress in cotton yarn. I had to knit, unpick and knit again a few times because I am a lousy knitter. It is finally done after 9 months. Gee... come to think of it, I could have made a baby in that time!

My next project is in cashmere! In Italy, I walked into a shop selling cashmere woollen wear. One scarf was 350€. The pullover was 1000€. I can knit my own for under $60. 

As we age, we lose muscle mass. To counter that, I cycle 12.5 km to 18.5 km daily on a stationary bike. It is quite boring so I watch drama series. However, I am also easily affected by the emotions in the drama. When there is too much blood or too much sex, the only way I can continue watching is to knit and listen to the drama, instead of watch.

The Last Madame was hugely popular on Toggle. I could only finish following the story by knitting and cycling furiously away. There was too much blood and sex. I like happy stories. I love romances where the protagonists end up together. These days, I will watch the last episode to ascertain whether it is a happy ending. If it is a sad ending, I simply won't even watch.

Where the stories have laughter and joy, I put down my knitting to watch and cycle. I wallow in the happy feelings. All stories have complications. When these complications get too emotionally painful, I pick up my knitting to help me regulate the strong emotions within me.

I reckon that such practices expand my time. Instead of spending 1.5 to 4 hrs cycling, then another 1.5 to 4 hrs watching drama and another 1.5 to 4 hrs knitting in a day, I get 3 things done in 1.5 to 4 hours (which would normally need 4.5 to 12 hrs to complete if I did them separately). This effectively adds 4.5 to 12 hrs to my 24 hr day! 

Haha! This means my day has between 28.5 to 36 hrs, instead of just 24 hrs!

If I wake up at 6 am, I am done cycling by 9 am, and I can still put in a half day of work, plus have extra time to cook, garden, visit with friends and mosey about Chong Pang Market for interesting things to buy! Even then, compared to when I was working full time, I am already a lot less efficient. When The Son and The Daughter were small, and I was homeschooling them, I used to do something like this too. I cooked or cleaned whilst asking the children questions about their learning.

If you ask questions, the children are forced to focus to a higher degree. Best of all, they were so pleased to be able to answer my questions. The trick is to ensure that one asks easy questions that help them discover and think about the material bit by bit. Success motivates. How best to ensure success than to ask easy questions that build upon previous questions so that the child levels up without even knowing he is leveling up to a very high difficulty level.

I used to sit inside McDonalds at The Science Centre 2 afternoons a week, typing client reports, and requiring The Son to come look for me every 15 minutes to report what he had seen. Then, I would smile and look interested, even though sometimes, I did not understand the scientific principle he was explaining. It did not matter. My role was to look enthusiastic about his discoveries and infuse him with my mirrored enthusiasm. The result was that by P5, The Son was downloading and reading actual bio genetic research papers from my university's e-library.

In the times when we had a maid, I could expand my day to 40 hrs a day, doing 3 things at the same time:
- supervise an apple pie being made
- ask the children questions
- type up work reports. 

When I realised that I had to help The Son master 6 yrs of primary school material in 2 years, I made him do tingxie whilst eating lunch on the way back home in the car. We were THAT short of time and I refused to work The Son beyond 7pm every night. I also refused to work him all of Sundays and the Saturday afternons. It took 30 minutes to drive home. I expanded 30 minutes into 1.5 hrs for him and gave him the extra hour to do unstructured play.

I need 9 to 12 hrs of sleep a day. That is why I have to expand my hours.