Monday, April 30, 2007

I Feel Bad About My Shoulders

Singapore has a reputation for being home to some of the best tailors in Asia. Nikki and I talked about my maybe buying a suit while I was here. I don't wear one to work, but the one I have was bought off the rack 6 years ago. On Sunday we went for a walk to Chinatown, where many of the tailors are concentrated.

This is the view from the Chinatown MRT station back up to the Central District, where we are staying. The MRT is Singapore's underground system, but we walked down this street as it is only about 25 minutes.

Looking into one of the streets of Chinatown. Lots of shops, lots of stalls, everyone wants to sell you something. Clothes, electronics, food, souvenirs...

We spoke to a few tailors before Fierez at Eurobest talked us inside. He's a pretty persuasive salesman and I love to haggle, even if I suspect I never know what a good price is, so we hit it off pretty quickly. In the end we settled on a 120 thread count wool/cashmere suit, with an extra pair of trousers, 6 shirts and two silk ties for about US$800, which I think is a pretty good deal for a made to measure suit. During the negotiations one of his points was that I needed to buy a custom suit because my shoulders are at different heights.


He then got his tape out, turned me towards Nikki, who immediately said "Oh, yeah" and then showed me in the mirror that my right shoulder is way lower than my left. Awesome. So now I can't stop looking at my weird shoulders every time I see my own reflection.

While we were waiting for Fierez's tailor to turn up to take extra measurements Nikki and I took a walk around Chinatown.
Strangley, Chinatown is home to Singapore's oldest Hindu temple, the beautiful Sri Mariamman Temple.

I was also quite astonished with the idea of the Street of the Dead, where the poor came to die. Chinese immigrants mostly lived in overcrowded quarters with barely enough room for the living and believed it was bad luck to have someone die in your home. The death houses were outlawed in 1961.

Sunday, April 29, 2007


After 22 hours of travel and my first crossing of the international date line, I arrived safely in Singapore just before noon on Saturday. Changi airport played a cruel trick on me upon arrival. I cleared immigration quickly and made my way into the baggage reclaim hall, where I could see Nikki on the other side of the floor to ceiling glass wall and we could almost touch hands maximum security prison style. This was mildly amusing at first but became increasingly more agonising as my bags took 30 minutes to appear before I could deliver a proper hug and kiss.

Singapore itself has been great so far. The food has been great everywhere we've gone, the weather is good and there are lots of beautiful old buildings tucked in amongst the beautiful new buildings. It's a lovely city.

I've taken a bunch of pictures already and if Nikki remembers to bring the card reader home from work I'll post some of them soon.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007


Well, my bags are packed, I'm ready to go.

My weight (after dinner and fully clothed): 210.2lbs
My weight (after dinner, fully clothed and holding my packed suitcase): 249lbs
Difference: 38.8lbs
In kilograms: 17.6kg

Continental Baggage Limit: 23kg
Singapore Airlines Baggage Limit: 20kg
---To / From the USA: 32kg
The budget airline we're taking to Bangkok's baggage limit: 15kg

Amount of stuff in my suitcase that is Nikki's: About one third
Things of mine I'm already thinking I'll have to throw away to reduce the weight and make more room for Nikki's stuff:
---Any books I finish before next Thursday
---Socks that I've already worn
---Underpants I've already worn
---Any 2 of the 6 favourite t-shirts I've brought with me
---1 of my 3 shirts
---My pajamas
---1 of my 3 pairs of shorts

Monday, April 23, 2007

New Rules of Dating

Had a couple of beers with friends last night, including one who I believe to be one of the final members of the increasingly endangered species known as my single friends. The discussion turned, inevitably, to his recent dating experiences and encounters. As a result of the discussion we have come up with two new rules that single people need to follow:

1) Thou shalt not date anyone younger than half your age plus 7. For example, if you're 34, she has to be at least 17+7=24.

2) Guys shall not be expected to wait more than 5 minutes for each point a girl scores on the standard 1-10 hotness scale. If you're a 7, you can be 35 minutes late. If he leaves after that point, it's your fault. If he leaves before that point, it's his fault.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007


So far we have these two decent sized looking ones, a medium sized one and a tiny little one.

No peppers yet.

Sunday, April 15, 2007


It's something of a tradition around these parts, at this time of year, to go see the bluebonnets in bloom. I'm not much for wild flowers, but Fritz and Jan invited me out to their ranch near Brenham today and from what I can tell, most people drive up US290 until they see a field of bluebonnets, then they immediately slam on their brakes - whether I'm behind them or not - pull over to the side of the highway, plonk their kid in the middle of the flowers and snap away. Then, when they've got all their photos they pull back onto the highway, again not checking to see if I'm coming along at 70 miles an hour, and head back to Houston.

What they ought to do, of course, is go up one of the many country roads, where there are lots of bluebonnets. Like at Fritz's place.

After two days of rain, it was a beautiful day. Not a cloud in the sky.

Fritz and Jan's new house.

I believe this is what all the fuss is about. A bluebonnet. The state flower of Texas. The red ones are Indian paintbrush*.

*I'm no expert, so these could be lily's and roses for all I know. I didn't think to ask, I just took a picture of the nearest blue flower.

Friday, April 13, 2007

It's Still Raining.

But I'm more than capable of entertaining myself.

Look! A ghost!

E.T. thinks his shiny finger is cool. Pah! Total amateur, bet he can't do this:



OK. I'm going to go out and do something before my craziness deepens.

They Said It Wouldn't Rain Today

Yesterday was beautiful. Blue skies, perfect temperature, lovely sunny day. I woke up early today and dragged all the gardening stuff outside:

Just as it started to rain. So here's a herbs and veggies update instead.

The herb garden is doing well, apart from the rosemary, which I managed to trim before the rain came down and the basil, which is dead.

There may or may not be a shoot sticking up from a bulb of garlic Nikki planted:

It seems like the right area. I'll keep an eye on it.

The tomato plant is doing great, despite being surrounded by weeds which may live another week if the rain doesn't stop. It's the big bushy plant on the left of the picture below. No tomatoes yet. I think they need another month.

The yellow pepper plant on the right above looks kind of yellow. I don't know if this is expected behaviour, I suspect not.

The cayenne pepper plant on the right looks good, but something may have been chomping on its leaves. We're still organic so far, so until something starts attacking the veggies themselves I'm not taking any drastic action. I don't recall planting all the stuff in the middle of the two. Was it there before Nikki? I may have to trim it down a bit I think, it looks kind of messy.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Regrets, I've Had A Few...

So I have a reservation on a flight leaving for Singapore in 1 minute. I booked it a couple of months ago and last month we had to push my trip back by two weeks, but, having bought the cheapest, most non-refundable, non-transferable ticket I couldn't change my flight and had to buy another one. The airline did say that once I had taken the outbound leg I could probably change the return leg.

For the last 3 days I've been getting lots of reminders about the flight I'm not taking and I've been more and more tempted to go for one night, then try to change my return to Sunday. I have Friday off, so I wouldn't have had to use any vacation. Leaving Houston at 6:55pm on a Thursday gets you into Singapore at lunchtime on Saturday. Leaving Singapore at 5pm on Sunday gets you back to Houston at 6am on Monday.

This is not unprecedented. I did, not so long ago, fly Lagos to London to Houston, spend one night with Nikki and then fly back to London. I didn't even have time to adjust time zones and it was great and stupid all at the same time. This trip is a bit longer, I don't have a confirmed return flight and I really don't have any vacation days to spare should I not get back Monday.

It would totally have been worth it. Should have gone.

Due to Underwhelming Demand

The Spot The Egg competition is over. The egg was located in square C3, behind the milk carton looking thing that holds sugar. Right in the back.

The closest guess was Mr. Shanks' stab at A3, but sadly close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades. I will have to eat the grand prize myself, which was going to be the last of the mini Lindt chocolate truffle eggs that were inside my egg.

Better luck next year everybody.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Found it!

Don't panic! Don't panic! With one hour and 17 minutes to spare the egg was located in the baking supplies cupboard. I only found it when I gave up looking and decided to go to bed. Before going to bed, I drink a glass of fiber (yes, I'm an old man) and I store my fiber in the baking supplies cupboard. I looked in there 7 times today, but didn't notice the egg. After Nikki's earlier comment a light bulb went off when I opened the cupboard to grab the fiber. Photos will follow tomorrow and you can all play "spot the egg" together.

It's tomorrow.

Here's the photo:Okay, which square is the egg in?


Nikki told me the other night that she hid a chocolate egg somewhere in the house before leaving. I managed to hold myself back from searching for it all week and woke up quite excited today...half an hour of searching later and I've no idea where it is. I've tried all the obvious places that she knew I'd never find it in by accident - the cleaning supplies cupboard under the sink, the cupboard with the clean sheets, the closet with the fresh towels, her underwear drawer...nothing.

Argh, now I'll have to have something semi-healthy for breakfast. What kind of a way to start Easter is that?

Wednesday, April 4, 2007


New my ass, Subway! I don't remember off the top of my head exactly what day God created fruit, but I know that's an apple and I remember it playing a pretty big part in the whole Garden of Eden story, which makes apples "Old".

Don't try to pass them off on me like you just invented them.

Sunday, April 1, 2007


April's here. This means that Houston is, for the next few weeks, going to be fantastic. It's already started, it was 29 degrees celsius here today, which is about 85 fahrenheit. But, that's not all, April means that baseball is back. The Astros open their season tomorrow against Pittsburgh. Yesterday I went to watch them play a pre-season game against Kansas City. It was good to be back in the park. I was excited enough about the game that I got there early enough for the national anthem:

Nothing to do with me being invited to a suite where the beer and hotdogs were free. ere's Lance Berkman at the plate with a man on first...Ah, 162 more games to go, plus, with any luck, somewhere between 11 and 19 in October.

Baseball's not all that makes Houston great in the spring...there's also these little critters:

I mowed the lawn in the blazing heat today and then, as I was fetching my groceries, I realized it was going to be a beautiful evening. I decided that the best reward I could give myself would be some mudbugs from the Ragin' Cajun, washed down with a couple of bottles of Fat Tire.

Mark and Marisa joined me, but sadly they neglected to tell me they didn't like crawfish until after I'd ordered a full bucket. Being the trooper I am I managed to finish the 3 pounds by myself.