Monday, March 31
University of Haifa was around 20 minutes drive from Dan Panorama Hotel. The taxi ride was pleasant enough, despite slightly heavy morning traffic. The weather was fine too. At around 15 degC, we were quite comfortable with a simple piece of jacket on. I noticed that the journey to our destination was, on most part, one that was going up-gradient. The university was on elevated ground.
The lessons were held at the "Main Building", which at 29-storeys was the tallest structure on campus. It was quite old, I'd say perhaps over 40 years old. Our classroom as on the top floor - room 2901 (here's one for the Wednesday draw). I was glad to find that I could get wireless internet connection in the classroom.
We had lunch at the canteen located on the 1st storey of the Main Building. There were only 4 stalls - a cafe-type stall that sold coffee and snacks, a MacDonald's stall, one that sold western food, and one that sold "chinese" food. I ordered their 2+2 meal, which meant choosing two staples (noodles/rice/potatoe) and two sides. I took their chow mein + rice + breaded chicken + spicy beef combo, plus a bottle of peach-flavoured water. The cashier relieved me of 29 NIS, which was about S$12. Quite costly, especially considering that this i campus price. The students here must all have rich parents.
After lunch I paid a visit to their acclaimed (there was a campus staff who came in the morning to "sell" their campus facilities) Haifa University Library, which was the largest university library in Israel, with a collection of over 4,000,000 books, CDs and videos. I asked the security (they have security guarding the entrances to practically everything) whether there were any computers with internet connections. He said yes and pointed me in the direction. I didn't bring my laptop today so was happy to be able to use the PCs to send an email back to office to ask them to check and follow up on the air-ticket mess up that we encountered yesterday. Managed to also send a few quick sms'es using SingTel's free online sms-chat service.
Dinner was hosted by the President of Haifa University. I didn't catch his name when David made the introduction. What I did catch though, was that he was a professor specialising in the topic of "Love". Halfway through dinner (the stuff looked and tasted suspiciously like those from the canteen stalls), Professor Love stood up and gave an address. His curly hair looked slight unkempt and he kept adding "Eh, eh" to every other word he uttered. Somehow he reminded me of Geoffrey Rush. In his speech, Prof Love noted that his although his area of speciality had little to do with the subject of our programme on security and counter terrorism, these two apparently unrelated topics had one similarity, and that was expressed in the saying:
All is fair in Love and War
People who are in love, or at war often do things they wouldn't normally do, or even things that might be deemed immoral.
Interesting annecdote from an interesting University President.
Here's where we had most of our classroom based sessions.
Sunday, March 30
Saying goodbye was tough.
I just couldn't help turn back and take one more look at my two girls and saying one more "bye bye". Because Jae didn't get her afternoon nap, her nap time gotta be brought forward and could therefore not see me to the airport. I looked at my watch. 8:43pm. Got to go. I bent down and kissed both of them on their foreheads, steeled my heart and headed for the door. It wasn't easy taking in the fact that that was to be the last time I set eyes on them until 15 days later.
I couldn't sleep on the 13-hour flight. Not unexpected, since I have hardly fallen asleep on any of my previous flights.
Two meals and 2.5 in-flight movies ("I am Legend", "There Will Be Blood", "Sweeny Todd, The Demon Barber From Fleet Street") later, we reached Frankfurt International Airport where we were to hop on to the connecting flight to Ben Gurion Airport. What was originally thought to be a boring 3-hour transit turned out to be quite an eventful one. Bertran, one of the members of the delegation was informed by Lufthansa Airlines staff that he "didn't have a ticket" and could therefore not be issued with a boarding pass.
"But that cannot be the case! He just came on the same SQ flight with the rest of us. This is where we are to catch the connecting flight to Tel Aviv. How can there be ticket for the first leg of the journey but not the second leg? In fact, his luggage has been checked in at Singapore for a direct trip to our final destination!", I argued.
"Sorry, he does not have a ticket."
"Can you check the database again?"
"We have checked. There is no ticket."
"Could it be that..."
"Sir, I am telling you - he has no ticket."
Phone calls were made. The keyboard was tapped on. As the minutes ticked into hours, I realised that if this was to go on, there would only be 5 (or even 4, if I was to stay behind to accompany Bertran) of us boarding the flight instead of 6. I told Bertran to go ahead and purchase a fresh ticket, and promised him that we will get this resolved before the end of the 2 weeks - either getting the airline or travel agency who made the mistake compensate, or claiming from the travel insurance and then reimbursing him accordingly. When we rushed through the gatehold room to board the plane, we were just 10 minutes away from the stipulated take off time, and literally the last of the boarding passengers.
The flight from Frankfurt to Tel Aviv was a short one, at 3 hour 45 minutes. Again, sleep didn't find me.
Dan Panorama Hotel in Haifa turned out to be quite decent. Though not as extravagant as the David-Intercontinental Hotel in Tel Aviv I put up at during my first trip to Israel in 2001, it still managed to come across as pretty cosy, and had good ameneties like gym, swimming pool and a business lounge with free snacks and drinks.
After more than 24 hours on the road without any shut eye, I hit the bed and crashed almost instantly, after getting a much welcomed shower.
I was hoping that I might dream of my girls, but I didn't. I was surprised though, to find myself waking up naturally 15 minutes prior to my preset alarm at 6:45am. Looks like my body has automatically adjusted to the local time (5 hours behind Singapore time) already. That's good.
Wonderful weather at the Ben Gurion Airport.
My first dinner on the trip - Shoalmar in pita (20 NIS)
Ah. The "No U-turn" signage. Something we won't see in back in Singapore.
今天是媛媛在Baby Jumper Gym的最后一堂课。因为她过两个星期就要上托儿所，所以我们决定不让她继续在Baby Jumper Gym玩了。问了其中两个小同学的妈妈，原来他们的安排也跟我们一样！
我和媛媛在泳池里玩了一个多小时。在泳池里有一个有点娘娘腔，皮肤白皙，可是却有六块腹肌的男人。媛媛说：“Uncle。”我叫媛媛昧着良心叫“gor gor。”媛媛果然大声叫了白斩鸡“gor gor”。白斩鸡立刻眉开眼笑，兴高采烈，以为自己真的看起来那么年轻。之后，每次媛媛游过他的身边，他就满脸笑容地跟媛媛招手。
I can run to and fro this rope bridge! This is something I couldn't manage when l I visited Go Go Bambini the other time.
The ball pit is fun!
Mommy messaged Ezra gor-gor's mommy to join us at this wonderful place! Mommy was busy chasing after me, resting and chatting with Aunty Meekfreek that she forgot to take pictures of Izzy mei-mei.... mom~~~!!
Friday, March 28
The thing about topics such as promotions, salaries, bonuses is that no matter how much better off a person is when compared to previous years, there are bound to be others who are even more well off.
More and less.
Long and short.
Big and small.
High and low.
These are all notions that are relative in nature. 一山还有一山高. There is never any end to such comparisons, which therefore become not only unnecessary but also meaningless. He who always compares upwards ends up finding himself drawing the short straw all the time. And he would surely be one very dissatisfied dude.
"知足常乐", I remarked over the coffee table.
One chap nodded fervently in response. "Yah yah yah! My friend used to tell me what it means to be '知足'. He said '知足' is to
As the rest of us nodded in agreement, he added "Of course, that doesn't mean we should all be Nuah lah!"
Sunday, March 23
Don't complain, dear. I am fair, and've gotten something for you too.
HersA factory refurbished iRobot Roomba Scheduler. For you dear, so you won't have to vacuum on your own anymore.
Yes, I do think I'm having a repeat episode of YEBIS, only slightly delayed. No doubt triggered by the recent announcement of the bonuses.
This morning, Clement returned home from his overnight duty with this:
I NEED ANOTHER THERAPY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!NOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Quick! Somebody give me the number of the therapist! (I mean the LV catalogue)
Saturday, March 22
Ok, you go first, then I'd go. Lurp, right, lurp right lurp...
And all together now. A one, a two, a one two three...
Friday, March 21
Bo-bian. When boss shot an arrow this huge, at point blank, no less, there was simply no way that I could have siam'ed. Lan lan.
So, we'd decided to bring forward the celebrations to a week before my departure. This was meant to be just a small family-only affair that we planned to be held today, coinciding with the public holiday Good Friday, which incidentally didn't turn out to be that good for us 'cos of this nasty flu and fever that Jae came down with earlier this week. I still blame myself for this.
Well, Angie has already blogged about this family get-together, so I'm just gonna post some more pics taken today over here.
Jaimie woke up at around half past seven this morning. The first thing that came out of her mouth when she saw me walk into her room was "要看。要看 Maisy. Please!" Since we have recently started inculcating in her the habit of "No TV at night. TV only during daytime", I thought it only fair that I give her what I'd promised her last night when I rejected her request to watch "Bing and Bong" just before her bedtime. I picked the Maisy VCD titled "Birthday and Other Stories". Quite apt for today, I thought.
See how happy she looked in these pics? She was really quite fine early this morning. I didn't at all expect that shortly afterwards, the tap that is her nose would get turned on all of a sudden. Temperature also went back up. She must have been feeling really bad today 'cos her normally cheery disposition was completely gone, replaced with perpetual wailing. Poor girl's face was just covered with tears and mucus the entire day.
This here is a Photo Book. I'd got this made some 2 weeks ago, with the intention to show this collection of Jae's photos taken between her 12th and 23rd month during the get-together. In part due to my own forgetfulness, in part due to Jae's constant fussing throughout the session, I'd totally forgotten to bring this item out to show our guests. *sigh* Anyway, I intend to get one of these books done each year. Hopefully I'd remember to bring it out during Jae's 3rd birthday celebration.
BIL Ah-Leong, who also got the cake for Jae's first birthday last year, got one with Elmo on it this time round. Angie decided to get the cartoon agar-agar this year. This Pooh one she ordered from a stall at Beauty World foodcourt - cheaper than the other source which she used to place orders from previously.
Her presents. I hope she'd be well enough tomorrow to enjoy the TMX Elmo (Extra Special Edition) that I'd gotten for her.
Anyway, we went ahead with the celebration as planned because we had invited our guests.
Jaimie was super cranky and teary when her grandparents and uncles came. She hung on to Clement like a kola bear and cried very hard. There was no way we could pacify her. Then, my brother took out the cake he bought for her. Jaimie saw the picture of Elmo on the cake and she got excited. She insisted in blowing candles on the cake (she learnt it from Maisy... =_=). To make the birthday girl happy, we lighted the candles at least 6 times for her to blow. I took out the Pooh Bear agar agar, Jaimie insisted she wanted to blow candles on Pooh Bear again. Well, I think I have used up the entire box of matchsticks just to light up candles!!
We didnt cater any food for this little celebration. My mom cooked fried noodles, we bought some dim sum from Hoe Kee, some chicken wings from Hup Lee and some ang ku kweys from May's House of Soon Kwey. Err... I wanted to get their soon kwey actually but it was not available today at the stall.
Jaimie's aunt bought her a cute little balloon pig which she could pull along and bring miss piggy for a stroll. Her grandaunt and great grand aunt bought her some toys and clothes. The little princess's mood was much better after blowing the 2 candles until she was satisfied. She ate a little bit of cake, 2 fishballs and that's all. She hasn't been eating much for the past few days. Before the guests left, Jae went into the room with her daddy to watch Maisy (again). When our guests wanted to come into her room, she screamed at them and fiercely protected her territory. That was quite unlike her as she was usually quite generous in inviting people to go into her room.
She slept very early this evening. I think it must be the medicine and antibiotics which made her lethargic and drowsy.
Hmmm... what a birthday celebration.
Dearest baby, mommy and daddy hope that you can get well soon! We miss the little energetic and happy monster! Wishing you a happy birthday! We love you lots.
Wednesday, March 19
Pardon me. It is absolutely impossible for me to stop laughing heartily today. I went for a therapy today. For a price of $1600 (GST inclusive), I had the best therapist to boost my self esteem, clear all the dark clouds in my sky, motivate me to go to work eagerly everyday, inject loads of positive energy in me, made me feel so sexy and intellectual at the same time...
To put it simply, I BOUGHT A LOUIS VUITTON BAG TODAY! ROOOOOAAAAARRRRRRRR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Monday, March 17
I sat on the dentist chair and as the seat was lowered, I imagined I was William Wallace from Brave Heart. If you recall the movie, the last scene was William was being tied to a stone slab to have his intestines taken out one by one... and he endured the pain, only to conserve all his energy to cry out "FFFRRREEEEEDDOOOOOMMMMM" when he was asked to plead for his death.
Ok.. where was I? Anyway, I told the petite dentist about my concern and she used something to knock knock and poke poke on my tooth. Then she used her finger to push my crowned tooth, checked it and declared that it was alright. I was SOOOOOO relieved!!! However, she mentioned that we need to review the crown every 6mths and perhaps need to do another crowning some time later. Oh well, we'll worry about that later.
She went on to check do the scaling while checking for possible cavities. Woooo hoooo~~~ another good news!!! I HAVE NO CAVITY!!!!! I almost wanted to jump for joy!
Now I can be very happy for the next 6mths. No more butterflies in my stomach... until my next visit to the dentist.
今早量体温，发现她发烧，38.1degC。我弄湿了她的小手帕，放在她微微发烫的额头上，嘴里轻轻地哼着她喜欢听的 Alvin & The Chipmunks 的旋律。可爱的媛媛，眼睛还是闭着的，双手却能举起来，跟着旋律挥动着。我摸着她热热的脸颊，不禁觉得好内疚，好心疼。
昨天在 IMM playground，媛媛玩得好开心。玩着，玩着，她牵着我的手，从那 dry playground 蹦蹦跳跳到那 splash area。 她伸手摸了摸小喷泉，却发现衣服和裤子被水溅湿了一点。小瓜于是连忙跑回我身旁，一面扯着自己的衣裤，一面望着我，嘴里叽里咕噜着。媛媛上个礼拜有流鼻涕，也有点咳嗽。吃了药，几天前刚刚康复。我也晓得病刚好，体质比较弱，需要一段时间好好照顾，调养，以免复发。不过，我看她那兴奋的表情，一时心软，就让只穿着一条纸尿片的她去玩水。之后被媛妈发现了，我也被训了一顿。果然，今早媛媛便不适了。
Sunday, March 16
Saturday, March 15
This particular tooth has a wide gap between its neighbour and food tends to get stuck in there. It was filled up at least twice, had a root canel treatment and crowned. It was close to being extracted for good.
Each time I go to the dentist, I receive bad news about my teeth. It was frightening and demoralising. The dentist always asked me if I flossed my teeth. YES!! I DO!! EVERYNIGHT WITHOUT FAIL!!! But why is the condition of my teeth so bad, as if I did not brush or floss? The last time I went for a scaling and polishing, I remembered sitting on the bench outside shivering (literally!!!) and had butterflies in my stomach until I wanted to vomit (LITERALLY!!!). I am terrified of seeing a dentist!
After I rang my the dentist to make my appointment to see him on Monday, I felt nauseous immediately but I know have to see him now.
Oh god. I really do not know what will be the fate of my problematic tooth. I am hoping for the best but I know the worst might have happened already.
There is no way I can enjoy this weekend...
Friday, March 14
It's definitely a good skill to pick up, especially if your house comes equipped with a private pool. And if you have the habit of leaving your young ones unattended when you leave the house. And if you have the tendency of leaving your doors unlocked. And if you have a dog that might open the unlocked door for your baby to exit the house.
Thursday, March 13
Wednesday, March 12
This trailer looks mighty awesome! Can't wait to catch this movie...
Video #2 - "青花瓷" MTV
This here is one of Jay Chou's 中国风 piece from his latest album. Great song!
Video #3 - Another "青花瓷" MTV
This here is the same song, covered by someone who calls himself "首席才子" (the audacity!), switching between the distinctive vocals of 19 different singers. Really something...
Tuesday, March 11
She kept asking me to replay the song "Kiss the Girl" and she was smiling to herself throughout the whole song. I wonder if it is because the song was nice, the animation was cute, or my girl was in the mood for love!!??
Monday, March 10
Me: That's right. What can we see at the airport?
Me: Yes. We'd get to see aeroplanes. 飞机 is "aeroplanes".
Me: Yes, good. Who are we going to the airport with?
Jae: Uncle Yao-Sing!
Me: That's right, Jaimie. Who else would be there with uncle Yeow Seng?
Jae: Aunty Shelley.
Me: Yes. Anyone else?
Jae: Aae-fin jiejie.
Me: Yes yes....Seraphine jiejie would be there as well. Do you like to play with Seraphine jiejie?
Me: Is Seraphine jiejie your friend?
Me: Would Jaimie share your toys with Seraphine jiejie?
Me: No? Why not?
Jae: 媛媛 toys.
Hmmm...Think we'd need a bit of work here.
Saturday, March 8