Saturday, March 27, 2010

Maternal Brag

I'd be the first to admit that I live vicariously through my kids.

They are both in a rock band & have been playing guitar & bass guitar for a few years now. They have both shown musical talent which my husband & I sometimes wonder from whence it comes. A. doesn't play music & is just slightly tone deaf (*GRIN* sorry dear). And I can hold a tune & took the obligatory piano lessons growing up, but never was creative enough to write songs, which is what my guys do.

I remember trying to form a "rock band" with my sister & a friend. Very unsuccessfully - 'nuff said.

And now, here they are, my progeny, performing at gigs, occasionally earning money, writing music & lyrics, and tonight winning a recording deal at a music fest!

Whether or not they eventually make music their career, I don't know. But I know that if they have passion for it, I will not discourage them from following their dream, nor quash their aspirations.

I am a proud Mom.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Impressions from China - Google

A. worked for Google China till several months ago. In view of recent developments, we are thanking our lucky stars that he left the company to join another IT company, otherwise we would be in a rather uncomfortable situation right now, not knowing what will happen next, career-wise, for him, & in turn, leave our family situation in limbo.

Living in China, I now truly appreciate the freedom that many take for granted: clean air & water, safe (relatively, anyway) foodstuff, freedom of speech (relative, again, depending on whether one is talking about the USA or Singapore), accessibility to information on the Internet. I find it hard to understand much of China's policies with regards to (restricting) free speech & accessibility to information. I am not a politician (& probably will never be, in this lifetime). I don't understand the reasoning behind blocking social networking sites like Facebook, or Blogger. If China's government truly believes what it is doing is so right, why prevent its residents from seeing what the world is reporting about China? Why censor the facts?

I, for one, am glad that Google has decided to stand firm. For a large multinational company to stand its ground & stick true to its beliefs, despite the economic implications, is uncommon.

Much like how a doctor is supposed to Do No Harm, Google is staying away from the Dark Side. For now, anyway.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

My New Hobby

Quilting and aliendoc = oxymoron. At least that was what I thought.

I have ambitiously decided to launch myself into a new hobby as soon as I get home to Beijing.
Inspired by a friend there, who has been doing this for years, it started as a charity project led by a group in my sons' school.

Then I figured that I should give my older son a memento from his loving mom when he goes off to college this fall. "A quilt!" I thought, "Using materials from different shades of his favorite color Blue!"

Then I visited my sis in Houston & stayed at her cozy new home in the 'burbs. And I thought, "How about a nice quilt throw with an Asian touch to keep her & her hubby warm during the cool winter nights?" And I got struck by the inspiration of using batik sarong material to make the quilt, & where better to buy this material than super mega-store Mustafa???

So off I went in search of quilting material, & ventured into hitherto unfamiliar territory in the "Sewing" section of a local craft store. What an eye-opener it was! All kinds of thread, sewing accessories, some of which I have no clue what they are for, yards & yards of fabric.

Then to Mustafa I went, & came back with a lovely loot of pretty batik material. Just take a look...

I can't wait to get started!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

John Mayer in Concert

I saved the highlight of my trip to Houston for last to write about. It was a tough fight between the Houston Rodeo & John Mayer, but in the end, I think John Mayer had the edge that appealed to the groupie in me...:)
He performed at the Toyota Center in downtown Houston, home of the Houston Rockets (basketball team). It was an impressive venue & though we were not in the best seats of the house, we were at a good enough vantage view to appreciate his performance.

The opening act for John was Michael Franti & the Spearheads, most well known for their one & only top 20 hit Say Hey I Love You. Their songs were catchy, with a touch of reggae, & blues thrown in. I couldn't decide if they were a reggae group or more of a rocky bluesy kind of group. In any case, they got the crowd moving & revved up in preparation for John's show.
He started it with a bang, going straight into the song "Heartbreak Warfare". Most of the tunes he performed were from his latest album "Battle Studies". He had great rapport with the audience, and did not mention a word about his latest foot-in-mouth bruohaha from the Playboy interview, and I don't think anyone cared anyway!
He ended up the night on the floor (literally), playing the guitar with it lying on the floor at the end of his encore performance "Gravity".

Thank you, John, for a great night!

Friday, March 12, 2010

More Equine Pursuits

...actually in addition to horses, there were also cows/bulls (the appropriate cowboy term is "steer"), goats, sheep, pigs, chickens, rabbits & even a couple of deer & alpaca thrown into the mix - a veritable Animal Farm.This was the annual Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo, a huge annual event in downtown Houston held at the impressive Reliant Stadium. It was bigger than I imagined; not only were there the typical events one might think of when you see the word "Rodeo", but there was also a large carnival area where one could play carnival games, go on rides like the Ferris wheel, and also a shopping area where vendors selling a large variety of products ranging from automobiles to western art to, of course, cowboy boots & hats (I was tempted to buy one but then I thought I would look kinda strange wearing a cowboy hat in Beijing).

A Texas Longhorn - this fella was HUGE

The deer that tried to eat my blouse (while I was wearing it!)

There were also events at which steer, goats, pigs, horses were "shown", much like how dogs & cats are shown i.e. paraded around by their handlers & inspected by judges & winning prizes. No clue how they are judged but I would guess things like the shape of its rump or how it stands & how it moves (but don't take my word for it).
Steer competition

One thing that struck me was how "odorless" the animal holding area was, seeing how the whole center was occupied by thousands of animals (steer, goats, pigs etc). One think I learnt is that horse poop is a lot more smelly than the other animals (they had a separate holding area in a different building & we could smell the ammonia-scent as soon as we walked in).
Highlight of the evening, of course, was the rodeo itself. The event started off with a touching rendition of the Star Spangled Banner sung by a representative from the Army, accompanied by fireworks set off in time to the tune (indoors!).The parade

I watched, in morbid fascination, at the bucking broncos trying to throw off the cowboys during the Bareback Riding & Bull Riding events. They (the humans) hanging on for dear life (literally) while being thrashed around like rag dolls on the backs of horses or bulls was almost painful to watch, especially when they were thrown off. One cowboy looked like he had a compound fracture of one of his limbs as it dangled uselessly while he was carried off the arena after being thrown. Another landed on the back of his neck but managed to walk off on his own. I wonder if he sustained any fractures to his cervical vertebrae.

The equestrian skill required to lasso a steer then jump off the horse, flip the steer over, and then tie two of its legs together is a wonder to watch. The horses are so well trained that they know exactly when to stop dead in their tracks when they need to. Horse & Man working together as one - what an accomplishment & a thrill to watch.

The sportsmanship between competitors as well as the spirit of support shown by the audience was palpable as they cheer their encouragement for those who did not do well in their events. One thing that stood out for me was the high level of patriotism shown by the Texans. Last night was "Support Our Troops" night & homage was paid to all the military ladies & gents repeatedly. Very touching.

The night was rounded off with a concert performance by Rascal Flatts. After watching John Mayer in concert a few days ago, this was rather an anti-climax as I am not a fan. I was impressed, though, by the mobile rotating stage that was rolled out to the middle of the arena for the concert.
All in all, an amazing experience!

Note: Please ignore the dates on the pictures - I forgot to reset the date on my camera!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Equine Pursuits

Yesterday, we went horseback riding. I didn't realize how much I missed being back on a horse! I have ridden since my skiier's thumb injury incurred over two years ago during a riding lesson.

It wasn't a challenging ride at all since most in the group were beginners. But still, the feeling of being on a horse again was amazing. I wish Beijing had more trail rides near where we live out in the 'burbs; I would need to travel about an hour out of the city to get to grasslands to ride. Or to Inner Mongolia.

In any case, I am going to look for more chances to ride!

And am looking forward to more horsey related activities at the Houston Rodeo today!

Yee Haw!

Friday, March 05, 2010

Houston - the first few days in pictures

Blue Blue Skies

Strawberry Shoots - Spring is coming

Jet Lag

Carousel in the mall

Shopping in Katy Mills

Wednesday, March 03, 2010


I am amazed by the number of new buildings which have sprouted up in the last several months in Singapore. I visited last week & was astounded by the very new shopping malls along Orchard Road - ion, 313, Orchard Central, just to name a few. One wonders how much is too much?

Am now in Houston, Texas, visiting with my sister. Once again, one of the first things I do upon disembarking is to take a deep breathe of clean clear air, the likes of which I never see (or smell) in Beijing! The blueness of the skies here is hard to describe, & I will try to take pictures over the next 10 days & post them up when I can; as they say, pictures speak louder than words.

We just touched down several hours ago, & from the little I can see, Houston is flat & spread out! The Houston Rodeo, Rascal Flatts & John Mayer are some of the things I am looking forward to in the next 10 days that I am here! Will put pictures up, I promise!