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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.