Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Clams in white wine broth.

A simple recipe by Packrat. (After desperately trying to recreate the dish from Big Fish)

Fry chopped up garlic in a dash of olive oil till golden.
Toss in chopped up chilli padi according to tolerance level.
Fry till teary. (you that is...)
Pour in clean clams ~ 1-2kg
Drown in white wine ~ 250 mls. You can drink the rest while choking on the resultant fumes.
Shake in salt to taste.
Bring to boil and turn off heat when most clams are open.

Serve with bread to dip.


Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Ed. ~ Firstly, we have to apologise for the inconsistency of the posting here at empty-vessels. We at EV would like to assure readers that we are looking to motivate Packrat to post more often through the use of electric tazers and other motivators. We now return to our regular scheduled programming.

So here I am, forced to write an update to my blog and since I’ve been on a (n unofficial) hiatus), I’ve had a ton of things to blog about. It’s all fodder from reading The Straits Times (which I’ve been told is a health risk, especially for me) and specifically letters from stupid people. (Read: Singaporeans)

I am ready to quit. (Not professionally but as a citizen of our “great nation”), I have had it up to here. *Motions at neck* We’ve tried education. We’ve tried reason. We’re in the information age for goodness sakes. We’re a well traveled nation and we have the power to learn more about other cultures with the snap of the fingers (or the wallet). We have the ability today to see through the lies fed to us and break through from ignorance into enlightenment.

And yet we don’t.

We still have people who think like this:

“As a resident of Singapore I am really pleased that the Singapore Government has banned street demonstrations and the entry of known trouble-makers during the IMF/World Bank meetings.

It's nonsense to say or imply (as some IMF/World Bank officials seem to do) that noisy, violent and property-damaging demonstrations are all part of the democratic process, that they are part and parcel of the freedom of speech. They are not.

We can all do very well without such demonstrations and the folk who promote them. Will the world be a worse place in the absence of such demonstrations this week? Will the world's poor and suffering peoples be any worse off? Undoubtedly not.”

And this:

“Before the IMF actually chose Singapore as a meeting venue, it already knew that Singapore is well-known for its tough stand on protests, troublemakers and all things bad.

Singaporeans are law-abiding, peace-loving people. We have great leaders who have gone to great lengths to keep Singapore a safe and harmonious place to live in, not just for Singaporeans but also for our foreign friends.

Our leaders are caring and responsible towards the safety of our IMF visitors and Singaporeans cannot understand how Juan Jose Daboub's desire to have protests in Singapore would do better.

Singapore would not be what it is now and the IMF will be afraid to pick Singapore as its meeting venue if our leaders had allowed protests, demonstrations and chaos in our country.

If these are allowed, I will be the first to stand in line to protest against Juan Jose Daboub for wanting to usher in trouble.

Let's be realistic. Protests are just for show only. Can the IMF really please everyone? What is important is our leaders are sincere in our fight against terrorism to make this world a better place to live in.

We want four million smiles, not tears so please don't change that.”

Are we really this naïve? That we automatically believe that protests really always end in violence? I’ve been to protests. And I know that they don’t automatically lead to the kind of violence that people imagine protests to degenerate into. It’s funny that Singaporeans tend to think in these terms. Perhaps it’s because we’ve been fed some really inaccurate information. I’ve been to 3 protests. All non-violent (although the first one involved students storming into the administration block and holding it for 72 hours), all peaceful with no trouble and a whole lot of hot air. So what is the big deal behind protests that make them dangerous? Could the banning of protests in Singapore truly be just about keeping our precious visitors safe? Or perhaps some authority doesn’t want Singaporeans to realize that the danger in protest is not necessarily physical but ideological instead?

The naivety that protests are dangerous because of violence ensuing may just be a justification for us not to have said activities in any of our democratic processes. After all, without any voice of opposition or protest, no one need ever know that there is truly unhappiness here in Sunny Singapore. The papers will continue to cover everything up and paint a perfect picture for those who still swallow its lies hook, line and sinker. And those people are legion here in Singapore.

More importantly, though, without protest, there is no voice to speak for those who wish to take part in the democratic process but are unable to because they are unrepresented. There is no way to make them listen because that which the government hears (even if they are “caring and responsible”) is censored by toadies who just don’t want to admit that they screwed up. The lies and propaganda work both ways. The government tells the people what they want to hear. Middle management tells the government what they want to hear.

Case in point: Project work in schools.

Wait for the day when protests are allowed and 20’000 students march on the Ministry of Education demanding for the abolishment of that which is not named in JCs without a curse and a spit. Nothing changes? Wait for the day when every student refuses to hand in their PW projects in a silent protest of the uselessness of it all.

Protests aren’t democratic. Pui! Protests are a way for the citizen voices, drowned out by the drums of bureaucracy, to make themselves heard. And if they yell hard enough, there can be changes made. Even if it’s for no other reason than just to shut people up.

So, here I am. I am lodging my protest against stupid Singaporeans and their stupid narrow minds.

Signed: Packrat.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Some people really just deserve it.

There are times when you really want to gripe about what kind of flack teachers are getting in their schools and that they are undeserving. And then there comes along a person like Mdm Ang Ai Min. And then you think, well...

A QUIET dinner at a quiet restaurant in Upper Thomson Road turned ugly on Friday night when a spat broke out between the chef and a customer.

Teacher Ang Ai Min, 43, claims she was left with bruises on both her arms after the chef at the Le P'tit Breton, a French crepe restaurant at Thomson Imperial Court, physically forced her from the premises during an argument.

The problem started because Mrs Ang's two sons had brought a drink into the restaurant.

The co-owner of the two-year-old restaurant, Ms Sabrina Tan, 42, told her that drinks bought outside were not allowed in the eatery.

Ms Tan said: 'She told me off and said that I was picky.

'She also said that her sons did not drink in the restaurant. Then she stood up and said loudly that she was not eating at our restaurant anymore.'

Ms Tan said that Mrs Ang was still complaining loudly when she walked past the open-concept kitchen in the middle of the restaurant.

'Our chef told her to keep quiet, but she continued with her complaining and was taking her time to leave the restaurant,' said Ms Tan.

Mrs Ang alleges that the chef then grabbed her and forced her out.

She told The Sunday Times yesterday: 'We were leaving when the chef waved a spatula at me and told me that I can't talk so loudly in his restaurant. He also told me to get out.

'So I asked him why I can't talk loudly, and before I knew it he grabbed my arms from behind and yanked me out of the door,' she said.

'It all happened so quickly. I was so shocked that I didn't even scream for help.'

She called the police while outside the restaurant and later went to see a doctor for her bruises.

'I want people to know that such behaviour is unacceptable. How can anyone lay his hands on another person, not to mention using brute force on a customer?' she said.

Ms Tan said: 'The chef probably grabbed her arms, but it was not for no reason.'

She said that Mrs Ang had created a scene by complaining so loudly inside the quiet, 24-seater restaurant while making her way out.

She added: 'Our restaurant is a small and cosy place with a quiet ambience and we have to consider how other diners might feel about the noise.'

Let us take a pause while we view our exhibits. In the red corner, we have the ugly Singaporean. An uncouth lout who has no ability to control ones behaviour and the audacity to treat other people like dirt. In the blue corner, we have the French restaurant owners.

The red corner seems to think that the world revolves around her and her precious darlings and does not care two hoots for the world around her. She seems to think that she owns said restaurant and any rules set up that are not to her convenience are pointless and therefore easily floutable. She kicks up a fuss when told otherwise and is prepared to ensure that all other patrons in the restaurant have their experience ruined because of the supposed slight.

The blue corner is probably pondering why they opened a restaurant in Singapore in the first place.

I'm personally rooting for the blue corner. Anyone else?

See, I believe that the whole "Singaporeans really can't give good service" (Har har, think of the sexual innuendo) shtick is prevalent partly because Singaporeans really aren't good customers. They're crappy people and I think that they deserve all the bad service heaped upon them. (Notice the emphasis on the words "they" or "them") I have, save for a few lapses, treated all service industry people nicely. And most of the time, I've gotten smiles in return.

And when someone like Mdm Ang pops up (like an ugly zit that ain't quite ready to erupt yet), you just hope that in the future, restaurants would be just that little bit more attentive to the little extras that go into her meals...

Madam, please leave the profession so that the attitude can die out with you. You give teachers a really bad name.