Propeller affair

I had never noticed how much more fun a propeller plane is compared with an jetplane. You can sense the ground speeding beneath the wheels and hear every creak of the wheel axels as the plane speeds up for take-off. For me, it adds to the thrill.

Just getting onto the plane feels like an adventure all in itself, to step out onto the tarmac, feel the wind, see the outside of the plane up close… and climb up.



One gets so much closer to the action – see the baggage loading for example


And if there’re decorative themes on the plane, so much the better to get up close.



It is a strange thing, but the camera shutter is so fast it freezes the propeller action, so giving the impression we are floating up into the air by magic.


To illustrate, the collage below shows how the propeller appears at two different camera shutter speeds. The left picture shows how the propeller is “frozen” by the quick shutter speed (1/10000 sec), and right shows a normal propeller action at a slower shutter speed (1/125 sec). I cannot explain though, why the propeller looks distorted when it’s spinning rapidly, it surely is not that flexible.


In case you were wondering, we were safely boarded before the propellers were started.


Good morning, Sister! 

Everyday my mom starts her day by greeting me thus.

She calls me Sister only but once a day. The rest of the day I am nobody. But without a doubt I will be Sister once more when morning comes again. It is like a game we play, every day, same time, same place. 

I tried interupting her by boldly saying “Good morning, Mom!” before she can get a word in, but she only laughs and says back, “Good morning, Sister!” 

Seen around town

We are approaching the Mid-Autumn on 4 October; this is the 15th day of the 8th month of the Chinese lunar calendar. Seasonal roadside decorations have been put up to both set the mood and remind us. The picture below shows large cellophane (or glass paper) lanterns which are traditionally lighted up by placing a burning candle inside… and then they look very pretty like stained glass sculptures flickering in the moonlight. One childhood memory comes to mind – the more coveted and treasured a lantern, the more quickly it catches fire and burns up. 

These doggies at a major shopping center never fail to attract crowds of admirers. This a rare photo without someone standing in the midst of them. I can’t figure who they are supposed to symbolise. Paparazzi? Doggarazzis? 

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Now this sight caught me by surprise. Google maps and Wikipedia informs me it’s a Thai Buddhist temple established almost a hundred years ago called Ananda Metyarama. It has a modern cubist extension added behind it in 2014. I may plan a proper visit with a camera some day. 

The Queen and her daughter

Mom was watching TV – the 20th anniversary show on Princess Diana’s death. She looked more engrossed than usual, and actually emotionally affected.

What are you watching? I asked.

It’s about the Queen and her daughter, she said, It’s terrible!

Why? I asked.

The Queen doesn’t like her, and she just died.

It was as though it had just happened. She has no memory how affected she was when Diana passed away 20 years ago.

Mom watches a lot of TV, consisting of whatever the people around her choose to watch, or whatever channel the TV happens to be at when it is switched on for her. She gets excited watching the thrills and spills of Ninja Warriors. She watches homegrown dramas, cooking shows, thrillers, game shows, movie re-runs. Sometimes she surprises me by reading the word off Wheel of Fortune.

She’s happy to go with the flow, watching TV, whatever is playing.

Last night there was a show about unusual local professions, and it featured a young woman embalmer. Her job was to embalm dead persons and put make-up on in preparation for their funerals and wakes. She wore a thick gas mask as she went about powdering and colouring her “client”. I guessed she had to wear the mask because the embalming fluid, formaldehyde, is a poison.

My domestic helper couldn’t understand why the face had to be made up, because in her home country, dead people were neither embalmed nor prettied up. I explained that embalming helped preserve bodies in Singapore’s warm weather until time for the cremation, and the cosmetics were to help the person look more natural. Although truth to tell, in my opinion, the result is almost always most unnatural-looking. Maybe I should let it be known I do not want the thick pancake foundation or garish lipstick applied.

As we watched the show, it occurred to me it might be a good opportunity to ask Mom what her preference was, but I didn’t.



No more subtraction

One day, I decided to be brave and brought Mom out to lunch. It was special because Mom only heads out for medical appointments nowadays. (How did it come to this? Let me think about it and cover this in another post) 

Anyway at lunch I put her to the test – and asked if she could still count. Yes, she could! From one to ten, and then backwards form ten to one, more slowly and with slight errors. She could add single digits, but when I asked her to minus, she couldn’t do this anymore. Ten minus eight is “I don’t know, eight?” Three minus two is… “???” She just couldn’t do it. She knew it sounded easy and was just as puzzled why she couldn’t manage it. 

About 6 years ago, when I first brought Mom for screening because I thought she had early dementia, Mom could minus 7 from 100 all the way down. The tests pronounced her normal, but we knew she was already different.

She can no longer tell her own age nor understand who’s older or younger. But she loves a birthday cake and song, and happily joins in no matter whose it is.

A rite of passage

Long ago I learned that social rituals are observed to seal an event, give meaning and help people adjust to changes. Graduations, weddings and funerals are examples of “rituals”. Rituals are to be respected; performing rituals bring the community across the threshold. As such rituals tend to be highly prescriptive ceremonies and full of symbolic meanings. 

I attended a graduation ceremony recently as a guest, marveling at the colorful robes (also called regalia) on stage and wondering how it has come to mean so much to us. Most of us there had no idea how this ritual came about but there was no mistaking the parents’ pride and the graduands’ exuberance!

Given the number of little teddies on sale, it was obviously not part of the ritual to take one home. 

I kept wondering “rented” or “owned”?
With glasses or without?