So I surfed a whole lot today, and rooted out some interesting stuff:

I think the Slate review, which recommended SMINT, was spot on. Haven’t tried the other two items, but think the idea of the gorillapod was something someone should have thought of a long time ago. If those flexible tripod legs retain their “grip” over time, that gorillapod would make a useful gift for a photog friend of mine…



So today, at our organisation’s National Day Observance Ceremony, kindergarten* kids and a primary school choir performed. The kids were really tiny – I don’t see young enough kids often enough to realise how tiny they are and how quickly they grow. And they were cute the way they stuck gamely to their much-rehearsed moves even as they half hushed themselves and half shouted “Mummy!” or “Daddy!” when they saw their parents in the audience.

The choir sang 小人物的心声, “My Island Home” and “Home”. I grew up listening to 巫启贤, and although I’ve come to dislike him as a person – he appears to think too much of himself – there was a time when I really identified with his songs. Listening to the choir give this song a modern, folksy twist was intriguing – I hadn’t heard 小人物的心声 sung like that before. I’ve never heard “My Island Home”, which is supposed to be this year’s National Day Parade theme song. (If that sounds to you like I don’t watch TV much, you’re right!)

But I know “Home”. And listening to choral voices singing it, hearing the lyrics, looking at the earnest faces of the children concentrating and trying their best to get the song right on the video feed backstage, I felt a fleeting sensation of a lump rising in my throat and somehow reaching behind my nose and eyes where tears start.

It went away quickly, and I don’t think I miss it much, but I hadn’t felt that patriotic in a long time :)

* Long ago, I remember insisting that “kindergarten” was spelled “kindergarden”. I remember being told that even kindergarteners knew that “kindergarten” was spelled “kindergarten”. I remember finding out through browsing the Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary that “kindergarten” was spelled “kindergarten”. I remember detesting the German language.


So last Friday, after a wonderful BBQ spread with steak, tiger prawns, stingray, squid, fried bee hoon, pizza and franks, we had a spirited game of Pictionary at my boss’ house, an old one-storey place off Dunearn Road. (Before I forget, this one-storey place was the temporary harbour of an interesting couple, whose current mission is to “drive from Sydney to London going overland as much as possible”. Although the trouble in East Timor had scuppered some of this “going overland”, they were still determined to drive on, through Pakistan, China etc. all the way to London, which they figured they would reach in seven months. They have a web site at

During the game,

  • A colleague drew an intact building, and then a mess. Thought that was a really smart way of doing “ruins”.
  • Another colleague drew a house, then an arrow pointing inside the house and then a syringe and a bottle of medicine. Thought drawing a house with a cross on it would make people think more immediately of “hospital”, but hey – someone guessed it before the minute was up.
  • A colleague drew a stick figure with lines sticking out of it, and then other stuff with single, short, straight lines coming out, and got more and more frustrated as it became clear no one knew what on earth she was drawing. Then she changed tack, and started drawing a car – first the few archs that make up the car’s body, then the wheels; and her teammate started bouncing up and down on her sofa in the “I know I know” fashion, and shouted out, after getting it caught between her brain and her tongue a few times: “acupuncture”. Brilliant.
  • A colleague drew a stick figure with arms up and legs tucked in, clearly in the midst of a jump, and added a few archs after the figure, depicting its path. So the guesses came thick and fast: jump; leap; bounce; jump, jump, jump; frog… but none were right. He changed tack, and drew a ear and then drew a stick figure with a hoop around it. So the word sounded like “hoop”. Time was running out, but we couldn’t think of any “jump”-like word that sounded like “hoop”. Eventually, the answer was revealed: “hop”. Someone commented that perhaps we didn’t get it because we typically hop on one leg, and the colleague drew his stick figure with both legs tucked in. Maybe he could have drawn a bunny instead of a stick figure…
  • A colleague drew some wavy lines, and a horizontal, elongated thing beneath the lines. So this was underwater. We started guessing: submarine; torpedo; octopus. But she then drew a tank on this thing’s back. And immediately: scuba; scuba diving; diving; snorkelling… But she drew an arrow, aimed insistently at the tank. Okay, so it was scuba tank. Only it wasn’t. Then another colleague went: “oxygen”, and that’s what it was. This was my favourite – I have no idea what I would draw if I had to do “oxygen”, and I think the idea of an oxygen tank is really creative.
  • Another colleague had to do “silver”. She tried drawing some jewelry, but gave up halfway. Tough to draw “silver”, even if you break it up into “sail” and something. We all commiserated.
  • Another colleague had to do “Swiss army knife”, and did decide to break it up. We got “knife”, but despite her drawing the Swiss flag and a couple of stick figures with helmets and guns and bullets shooting out of the guns, we failed to get the rest. A colleague said it might have been easier to draw the actual Swiss army knife, and I think he was right :)

The 13 of us played past 10pm. I wish I had the drawings, but they were binned soon after the game.

That was a fun night.