Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The tortoise who got squished

From 1H2009

Once upon a time, a tortoise was chasing an ant.

Suddenly, there was a shadow.

(Note: Above the tortoise is the Big Toe of a human being :))

The tortoise got squished by a person.

The Giant Galapagos Tortoise

From 1H 2009

This is a giant galapagos tortoise.

If you count the paws you'll get 5, which means this is not a regular tortoise.

And this is his great-great-great-great-great-great-great grandson. He weighs 92 tons.

The tortoise who got turned into a sausage

For most of his final months in Kindergarten, Sean spent his time in school writing stories and illustrating. It was very much free for all, though in the beginning, he was limited to just 3 pages for each story. Two publishing parties were held, where stories were printed, laminated and binded into books, but besides the 2 stories Sean had 'published', there were lots more that he did in school, some more nonsensical than others, and his teacher passed them all to me at the end of the school year (June 2009).

The boys found the pile of stories recently and had a good laugh, I'm uploading these stories over the next I don't know how many posts. Some aren't all that funny, but the boys still laugh like hyenas.

From 1H2009

Once upon a time there was a tortoise and a sausage-making machine.

The tortoise went into the machine because the tortoise wanted to see how the machine worked.

(Notice how he drew the tortoise entering the machine :))

The tortoise turned into a sausage.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Remembering Halloween 2008

Last year, I posted about the Halloween Haunted House built by Brian's good friend Eric M's parents and their friends.

The pictures below show how the haunted house was built. I got the pictures off of Eric's parents' Facebook album (Brian is FB friends with them)...hope they don't mind. I know Brian secretly wishes he were in Eric's family, and I don't blame him one bit, heck, I'd love to be in that family. They are parents who truly make their kids' childhood utterly memorable. Just look at the amount of work involved, it is really a crazy undertaking! Eric says people call his family the Crazy Canadians, but if they're crazy, I honestly wish there were more of such crazy people in this world.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Bread by Brian

By the time we had gotten back to Moscow, Brian had only 3 weeks left of his Breadmaking Elective. When school reopened last week after a one-week break, his new elective was Computer Graphics (Forensics was oversubscribed).

These were from his last two breadmaking sessions. This first nasty-looking one is Quick Winter Herb Bread. Brian is such a fan of his own bakes :) He gobbled this up cos no one else would have it. The ingredients include Basil, Oregano, Thyme, Honey, Buttermilk, Nuts, Raisins and Marjoram, whatever that may be.

Now this one I like. It's Bliny, it's like the national pancake. Both Brian and I gobbled this up real quick.

Now, seeing that Brian loved his own baking so much, I signed Sean up for Cooking after-school activity (which he was keen on too), hoping he might also start to learn to try new food that he prepared himself. Yesterday was the first day of Cooking. Brian and I met Sean after the activity and he handed us a container which held 3 star-shaped cookies with strawberry-cream fillings.

When I asked Sean if he'd like to eat the cookie, he said No, I don't like the filling. The cookies were really yummy, Brian and I chomped up one and a half cookie each. Even seeing how much we were savouring the cookies couldn't persuade Sean to just try some.

Failed experiment --should have signed him up for Basketball!

Russian Ruse Part 2

Remember the Russian Ruse post from last year? The one where I was almost duped by this Russian maintenance guy...

Well, our filter needed changing again. In fact, I now realise just how way overdue the change was! The Russian Ruse post was from March 2008! Eddie finally arranged for someone from the condo management to change our filter. I waited at home this morning for this person to arrive.

Ding Dong...I open the door, and there he was again, the same fella who tried to cheat me last year...arggghhhh.

Nevermind, I led him to the bathroom, he changed the filter in about 5 minutes.

As he was leaving, I rummaged through my wallet and found spare change of 200 rubles, or about S$10, and gave it to him as tips. He took the money, looked at me with a grimace on his face and then proceeded to 'write' on the wall with his finger, 1, 1, and 0, followed by a Dollar Sign. In other words, he wanted US$110 for that 5-minute work!

I went "What?", and I think again he knew he'd be getting nowhere with me, so he handed me my 200 rubles (which he probably took as an insult), walked out the door and closed the door behind him.

He'd rather leave without a tip than go without his US$110?



I have always been very puzzled by the way Russians (or at least those I've encountered) deal with financial matters.

For example, when we were hunting for an apartment, owners will ask for a certain rent, and after we offer that rent, they'd tell the agent that they've decided to wait it out for a few months cos they expect the rent will increase by another US$1000 by then. Expat friends tell me they have had similar experiences.

So, if let's say the rent is US$9000, they'd rather go without rent for 3 months and hope to find someone who'd pay them US$10000 later (maybe). In the meantime, they lose out on US$27000 of assured rental income.


Fingers' uncrossed... internet woes are back.

Have not called Chief Engineer yet, don't feel like this will ever be resolved so am thinking maybe I'll just live with it. Feels like I'm back to the Singtel 56k phone line sometimes.

Oh well, as I said, this is Moscow.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Fingers' crossed...

...that my internet woes are finally over.

Ever since I returned to Moscow about a month ago, I've been having trouble with my internet service. Being an internet addict of the highest degree, you can imagine what torture it is not having a reliable internet line. Sometimes it would be okay, most times I wait for long, long seconds and then realise the page won't be loading ever. Surfing with such uncertainty was such a pain.

A Russian-speaking technical support staff came by the first week I was back. As luck would have it, the internet never acts up when tech help is around, does this strange phenomenon only ever happen to me?! So Russian tech guy declares to English tech guy that I speak to over the phone that all is A-okay, no problem at all with the line. But once he left, my problem returned. Super frustrating.

This evening, Victor, one of two English-speaking tech support I had been complaining to (the other being Maxim) finally made his way over and after some investigation, apparently, resolved the problem.

I still didn't feel too optimistic that the internet wouldn't act up the moment he left. I only felt more reassured and confident that this chap really knew what he was doing cos while making small talk before he left, I asked if he worked mostly in the office, or if he made 'house-calls' all day as tech support. Victor looked at me and said, "Actually, I'm the Chief Engineer." Ohhh...

Well, fingers' crossed, so far (been 5 hours) so good.

This is Moscow

Whenever we marvel at the unfathomable prices of some things here in Moscow, a friend likes to quote his Russian driver's response to such observations, "This is Moscow!" followed always by a what-can-you-do shrug.

But surely this takes the cake. A Singaporean friend's 3-year old celebrated his birthday early this month and the cost of this 2kg chocolate cake (which isn't even a 3-D cake),...a whopping S$400. This is Moscow indeed!