Friday, August 27, 2004 ______________________________________________________________________________

Latin for "Table" 

I got a rather fat package in the mail the other day. It was something that I wasn't expecting for at least another 2-3 weeks. Just so everyone's on the same page, I did something two weeks ago that I didn't tell anyone about. I didn't tell anyone about it because I believe that "if you fail, destroy all evidence that you tried". As a result, I didn't want anyone to know that I tried just in case it didn't pan out.

Before I make the announcement, however, I would like to turn everyone's attention to my new watch!

I bought it just yesterday because it's so tiring not knowing what time it is while you're working. There are no clocks in the casino (obviously because they don't want anyone to realise how much time precisely they are spending playing the games). It's not like I want to know how much time has passed because I don't want to be there. It's more like I'm marvelling how quickly the time passes. Also, it's a very pretty watch and it's about time that I got one. I think it's silly how I have to keep pulling out my cell phone every time I need to know what time it is. It makes me look like some kind of lonely idiot who wonders why no one has called her yet.

I just learnt something really interesting about how the casino works yesterday. I've never worked until closing time and I've had multiple shifts cancelled because of the weather. Earlier I was trumpeting my full-time hours. Truth is, I'm scheduled for full-time hours, but that doesn't really pan out. I took this all in my stride, figuring that because the PNE is an outdoor fair, naturally shifts will have to be cancelled due to the plain and simple fact that attendance is determined by the weather. I also figured that as the number of customers peter out as the night wears on it is only logical that people get sent home early as fewer and fewer tables need stay open. It all made sense to me and I figured that it was all part and parcel of working at a fair instead of at an actual location. Until yesterday when one of the regulars (i.e. dealers that usually work at actual locations) revealed that they are guaranteed 12 hour shifts.

Basically because I'm a rookie I get half-shifts, shifts that are cancelled with less than 4 hours notice (yes, 4 hours notice, not the requisite 24) just so that everyone else can get obscene amounts of overtime! (Overtime is paid at twice someone's regular wage. Work it out people, this means that other people are getting double what they would make on a normal shift at the expense of my hours!) I think it would be fair if the rookies were the first ones to get cancelled/get sent home because of closed tables, but not so that someone else can earn grossly more than they normally would! The flip side, obviously, is that I can't wait to get seniority in this industry because they certainly treat their old hands well. It's a little like joining a sorority, only that there are guys working with you too and, well, I've never tried to join a sorority so I can't really say that I know what I'm talking about. I was tempted to try and join a sorority during my first year because I was really attracted by the idea of not having to live at home. Interesting thing is that the sororities up at UBC don't own houses in which their members stay because way back when, it was assumed that any group of girls (un-related) who shared a dwelling were running a whore-house. I think they might be finally building some houses for the sororities on campus this year, but I think they're at least 50 years too late. Besides, I already don't live at home. Bah.

I digress. I've digressed alot considering that the point of this post is that the Latin word for table is Mensa. Yeap. Mensa. I got in, I'm a member now. I sat for the qualifying IQ test about two weeks ago and scored 99% on both tests. I don't know what that score means and the welcome letter didn't tell me what my IQ was. It just said that I'm in the 98th percentile (or higher), which I'm assuming is pretty good. Best part about this is that now I have a shot at the Mensa Scholarship. It's not much money ($750-$1000) but it'll help.

posted by Joie! at 12:44 p.m.


Monday, August 23, 2004 ______________________________________________________________________________

Another Day, Another Dollar 

This entry brought to you by:

Joie's new Cat Litter Box

That's right ladies and gentlemen. No longer is she slave to the open-faced litter box where she is greeted by the unsightly results of her two cats healthy digestive tracts. No longer is she victim to the litter that is scattered over the sides of the box when her cats fight to bury their waste in a too-shallow pan. Best of all, no longer does she have to scoop away the offending matter or indeed wrestle with weak, torn litter pan liners. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, Joie's new Cat Litter Box is deep, covered and self-cleaning.

Is this a joke you say? Nien! All I have to do is roll the Litter Box so that its top touches the floor. It's patented design will then separate the clumps from the clean litter and deposit the clumps into a convenient tray. Slide out the tray by pulling on the clean, ergonomic handle. Throw away its contents, replace the tray and
Voila! A clean, healthy litter box.

If you can't already tell, I'm pretty thrilled about my new kitty litter box. When Jim came back telling me that he spent $25 on the thing I actually said "for that price, it'd better clean itself". Hey, whaddya know? It does! Kitty waste aside...

I am proud to announce that I am officially able to drive a car with a stick shift. No more namby-pamby automatic cars for me. The reasons for this is two-fold. Firstly, I am working night shifts, which means that come quitting time, there would not be anymore buses running and therefore no other means to get home. At first, I thought that Jim could pick me up after work, but with my shifts ending at two in the morning and Jim's work starting at 7:30am, it didn't seem like a feasible arrangement. Secondly, if Jim's appeal (see below) is rejected, it seems like I will be driving him to and from work (and indeed everywhere else) for the next four months.

Jim's Appeal

August 15th 2004

Ms. Lisa Howie
Superintendent of Motor Vehicles
P.O. Box 3750
Victoria, B.C.

Dear Ms. Howie:

I was recently notified in a letter dated July 27th 2004 of your intent to prohibit me from driving for a term of four months. I am writing to request a review of the Decision to Prohibit.

I have been an employee of Kobelt Manufacturing for four years. In the past year, I have gone from being a part-time employee to working full-time. My regular shifts are from 7:30am-4:00pm Monday to Friday. However as production is based on orders that are placed by our clients I often have to work shifts that start as early as 6:30am on weekdays or 7:30am on weekends in order to fill those orders. I am unable to get to work via public transport for those irregular shifts. I have attached a letter from my Production Manager confirming my employment with Kobelt Manufacturing.

I would like to add that I am not writing merely to try and evade the consequences of my actions. I realise that on the day in question I was driving unsatisfactorily and I take full responsibility for my behaviour. However, I do require the use of my vehicle in order for me to attend my work, this being the reason I am submitting my request.

I thank you for taking the time to consider my request.

James Hobbs
Encl: Letter from Employer

So yeah. I can drive the car and it's much easier than I thought it would be.

My new job is great. I have a blast interacting with the customers. Initially I thought that losing customers would be largely unpleasant but it's not always the case. I find that as long as I keep bright and cheery and try and be slightly sympathetic when they lose the customers enjoy their time as well. The point is that no one gambles expecting to win money. There's a large difference between expecting to win and hoping to win. The difference being that those in the former group have a gambling problem and those in the latter are not fazed by losing hands. Time goes by really fast in the casino, which is something that I can truly appreciate. The best thing about it is that I don't look as stupid wearing a bow tie as I thought I would.

posted by Joie! at 1:54 p.m.


Saturday, August 21, 2004 ______________________________________________________________________________

Pomp and Circumstance 


I am now a certified croupier. I am qualified to work in any casino in the world.

Pretty cool eh? I graduated at the top of the class too. The best part about that was the people around me telling me that they didn't expect any less. I certainly didn't see that accolade coming, but I'm mighty glad that I got it all the same. Grades don't matter in the sense that everyone who passes the course is equally qualified to deal table games. They do matter in the sense that future employers will contact the school for references. This way, I'm guaranteed an excellent reference. Not to mention some of the instructors will be my bosses in Great Canadian Casinos which just makes my life a little easier.

I've been assigned to the Pacific National Exhibition (or the PNE for short) which is an annual fair that lasts two weeks. Most of my other classmates got more permanent assignments so at first glance, it looks like I got the short end of the stick. Truth is, I got the best damn assignment out there. Sure, I don't know where I will be posted at the end of two weeks but here's the deal. The gamblers in the permanent locations are regulars who know exactly what to expect. On the other hand, people at the PNE who enter the casino are mostly people who are fair goers first and then gamblers second. They have no expectations on my speed, or indeed anything else. It's a lot less pressure for sure. Word on the street has it that the tips are worse at the PNE because it's the regulars that are familiar with tipping dealers. However, I've got close to full time hours. My classmates that were posted to actual locations are only pulling 2-3 shifts a week on account of their newbie status. I think this will more than make up for the difference in tips.

There's just this one little thing about working at the PNE that really pisses me off. It's not even directly related to the job either. Well, here's the deal. In order to work at the casino, I will have to wear a Gaming Policy and Enforment Branch (GPEB) tag that has my picture on it. It is valid for three years. In order to work at the PNE, I will have to wear a PNE pass that has my picture on it. It is valid for two weeks. Guess which one has the better picture? My picture on the PNE pass is so amazing that I'm going to post the scanned image up there for all you people out there. If anyone reading this thinks that they will see my GPEB tag anytime soon think again. The obvious security issues aside, the picture on my GPEB is just plain wrong.

Pretty good eh?

Yesterday I went shopping for my uniform. They don't have to give me a uniform because they completely sidestepped the issue by calling it a "dress code". Technically, I provide my own clothes as long as they conform to the (ridiculously strict) dress code. If it's a uniform then the employer has to provide and maintain it. Bah Humbug. I met Amy at Metrotown so that we could but stuff together. Amy's the one with the professor husband who is currently working as a labourer. I learnt yesterday that she's a teacher herself. I really like shopping with Amy. Both our budgets are really small so we could bargain hunt unabashedly. The added bonus is that spending time with her is improving my Mandarin by leaps and bounds.

I'm very proud of the shopping that I did yesterday. All the shops right now are scrambling to get rid of summer merchandise because the fall collection is coming in. Which means that you can drive a bargain. I spent less than $100 yesterday for stuff that would've cost $300+. I got a really nice skirt for free too, that has absolutely nothing to do with my working clothes. The only thing that I have yet to buy is a bow-tie. That's the piece of clothing that I'm the most upset about having to buy. For one thing all the other casino locations provide their employees with bow ties. This means that regardless of where I will be posted after the PNE I will have absolutely no use for the bow tie. Where am I going to wear it to?! The good thing is that Moore's gives us discounts for being GCC employees, which means that I can get a bow tie for $9.99+10% off. Nonetheless I still don't think I should have to buy one at all.

Tonight I will have my first shift on the job. I'm psyched and nervous, all at once. Adrian (the guy who owns Canadian Gaming Institute) said that everyone will be nervous first shift. After the first hand we will feel better and after the first hour we will find our groove. I just hope that he's right!

Final Note: Rick didn't quit. He resigned. With two days left to go till the end of the course, I have no idea why he would. He should've just stuck it out, gotten the certificate and then quit. I mean he really didn't need this job, he had savings and pensions and everything. The certificate framed on his wall would've made an interesting conversation piece at the very least.

posted by Joie! at 11:22 a.m.


Tuesday, August 17, 2004 ______________________________________________________________________________

Where is the Love? 

With two days to go to the end of Dealer school I figured that we've all passed, the real question being how well. I was wrong. There were 2-3 more people terminated today, rumour has it - without mercy. I'm sitting tight, I know that I'm not going to go, but right now I'm wondering how well I did. It's important, even in the face of this many people outright failing to complete the course, because future employers will call the school to ask about my performance. Still, I'm thankful that I still have a job. In light of the past year, I'm certainly not complaining.

I hope that Rick didn't lose his job. Rick's a retiree, forced into early retirement thanks to government cutbacks (government cutbacks seems to be a recurring theme nowadays). He used to be a social worker and everntually ended up in the welfare cheque department. He doesn't need the job per se, he has savings and a pension but he decided to become a dealer for something to do. Not to mention this job offers benefits and a steady paycheque. He got called into the office today afternoon, the same time all the other victims were. He didn't say anything to me as we were leaving, so I have a sinking feeling. It might just be that he was reprimanded for not taking things seriously enough. I just hope that I see him in class tomorrow.

Someone who lost his job for sure is Terry. Terry's from the Phillipines (Manilla, I think) and has held a series of convenience store clerk/gas attendant jobs. He has a degree in business that's not recognized here. He figured that it was time to move into an entry-level job that wasn't dead-end. I guess he's back to handing out his resume to 7-Eleven stores. Terry certainly didn't see this coming. None of us did. The talk in the lunch room has turned slowly from "this is what I'll do if..." to "we've made it this far, we must've passed". I guess we were all wrong to be complacent. The news of mass firing would have spread by tomorrow and I'm certain that by the end of the day we would have sore bums from holding our assholes so tight. We've dropped more than 25% of the people that we've started with. I'm still stunned by the drop-out rate. I mean, it's not like we're working for Donald Trump on some stupid TV show. And no, I don't watch the Casino.

Terry is not the only immigrant whose education and prior experience mean nothing here. I was just talking to Amy (just moved here from the Mainland two months ago) and I asked conversationally what her husband does for a living. She says that he's doing hard labour at the moment, but he's actually a tenured prof at a world-class university. He is published regularly and participates as a speaker at an annual, widely-regarded symposium for the specialists in his field. She was speaking so fast and in Mandarin that I couldn't ascertain what it was exactly that her husband specialized in, but I didn't want to ask again. It would seem too much like I was rubbing her misfortune in. She said that on her husband's first day on the job he couldn't lift a thing. She joked that the bright side is that he's getting real buff, but it's not a happy story.

Uncle Simon works as a translator for the courts here. Before we moved, he pumped us full of cautionary tales about people here who hold multiple degrees, successful professionals, etc. who enter the janitorial profession here. We shrugged it off as cautionary tales, nothing more, thinking that we could do better. Well, I don't know what's going on with my dad, but it's closing in on four years since we've moved here and it certainly doesn't look like he's going to be living here anytime soon. I look around class and all I see are immigrants who are being underemployed/have been underemployed for a very long time. There are so many articles about professionals in entry level jobs because Canada makes it so hard for their credientials to be recognized. Even worse. Walk into any Starbucks here and it's not just the immigrants that are having it hard, most Baristas have at least two degrees. Why would anyone move here? I guess not enough people do their homework, that's all. The grass isn't always greener people.

posted by Joie! at 8:09 p.m.


Saturday, August 14, 2004 ______________________________________________________________________________

Start of Something New 

There are only four days left to the end of Dealer School. Everyone's freaking out right now about whether they are going to pass the course. People are actually discussing contingency plans over lunch.

Meanwhile, I've met great people at work. I feel bad calling it work because it doesn't feel like it, I assure you. I figure I've finally caught my break. A job that's not too bad to be at, with reasonable pay, in an industry that cannot bankrupt. Not to mention I'll be exiting this (hopefully!) with a little piece of paper (that I will no doubt put on my wall) that will allow me to work in any Casino in the world. My five year plan? To graduate with my Bachelor's and then get work on a cruise ship for about a year before I buckle down and do my Master's. The dream is so close that I can taste it. Perhaps it's the alcohol in my bloodstream, but I'm feeling really good about my future for the moment. (I'm dead sure that I've passed. The real question at this moment is how well.)

I digress. I was talking about the people that I meet. On Friday (payday!) we went out to Richmond Sushi for an All-You-Can-Eat dinner. There were the fanciest things there, stuff that I would never have tried were I on my own. The best thing about the crowd that I was with was that they really knew how to navigate faux Japanese cuisine. Due to the fact that I didn't have to fear reprisal for food ordered but uneaten (lest I discover that I really don't want to eat the dish after I've already ordered a serving) I tried so many new things. More types of sashimi than you can shake a stick at (including beef sashimi, very good) and various items that would cost an arm and a leg ala carte (raw oysters, not so good). I had a blast. The best part about all this is that we were all Chinese there (with the exception of one Japanese guy and one Vietnamese girl, both grown in Canada) so we really didn't care about taking food without the use of serving cutlery. Plus there's something about being with people of your own race. You just "get" each other. It was a multi-generational gathering so for me it felt like a family reunion. Despite the fact that we've known each other for a scant month (most of us have never worked at the same table at school) our comfort levels were skyrocketing and we were laughing so loud that people stared. I'll say this again, I feel really good about where I am in life and where I'm going.

Today I decided that if I was going to work in a casino, it would be beneficial for me to enter a casino just to see what it would be like. In the course, they've said many, many times that we will have to speak up when we call the games in order to be heard above the chimes of the various slot machines (not to mention the other dealers). Since they revealed that in class, I was always nervous about that because I'm really tuned into not overusing my voice. When I went to a casino today though, I realise that it's really not that bad. The chimes and whistles, while obviously audible aren't disruptive. I should've known. Casinos will never employ anything that doesn't lull players into a sense of complacency. I think it's an environment that I can stand working in, although it's for sure not something that I want to be doing for the rest of my life.

Since I'm an employee of Great Canadian Casinos I can't play at any of their casinos. After a little research (including a jaunt into a seedy hole-in-the-wall type "casino") we went to Royal City Star Riverboat Casino. Jim and I were really looking for table games with $1 minimum bet so that we could play without having to risk too much. Apparently the standard for table games is $5 minimum, which meant that with the $20/person that we were willing to risk, we could lose it all in four hands. With an experienced dealer, four hands should take less than four minutes and not much fun. Jim wanted to try the slot machines for entertainment instead. Now, I'm of the opinion that slot machines are mindless, boring, to loud and bright. Not to mention they are the easiest to get addicted to -- something that I'm keen to avoid, thank you very much. But since we weren't going to play table games, Jim decided that he would put $5 into a slot machine and see where it was going to take him. While he was doing that I took a seat beside him. After a while, I started getting bored looking at his screen so I plonked 25 cents into the machine that I was sitting at. I won $25. Not too shabby. Jim won something at the same time so we both cashed out. Turns out that we won $35 with a $5.25 wager. Not too shabby at all.

I decided that I would get a nice haircut if our trip to the casino was fruitful. I decided that I had had enough with the budget lines (like Great Clips and Magicuts) where I would only trust their "stylists" with a one-length-all-over cut. So I started looking up hair salons in Vancouver. I decided on Helmet Salon in Kitsilano. At first the name turned me off for obvious reasons, but when I called, not only did they have appointments open for today, they were going to give me 50% off for my first visit and (bonus as I was only told this when I was supposed to pay for my cut) 20% off for me being a student. This meant that I paid $12.84 for a $40 hair cut (after taxes, $17.84 after tip). I LOVE my new haircut. I even have a photo of it for all you people out there.

I've got a fringe but I don't look like a doot. There are nice long layers all over so I can flip it in, out and both with minimal effort. Best of all, the stylist managed to accomplish this without cutting too much off the bottom ("Just the parts that have dried out" she said) so I still have long hair. (Read: low maintanence) All-in-all, things are looking good for Joie.

posted by Joie! at 10:07 p.m.


Tuesday, August 10, 2004 ______________________________________________________________________________

National Identity 

In the spirit of National Day (and the topic that alot of the blogs that I frequent have touched on) I think I'm going to take this opportunity to write about myself as a Singaporean living overseas.

My parents were never proud to be Singaporean. This point is made ultra obvious by their move to Vancouver and their plans to apply for Canadian citizenship. Growing up, their reflections on "the little island set in the sea" were all pretty negative. Despite that (or perhaps due to a tendency for children to rebel) I'm really proud of being Singaporean. There isn't anyone here who's known me for more than five minutes that doesn't know where I'm from.

I'm proud that I'm billingual even though Chinese was never my strong point at school. (I can hear sniggers...alright alright...) I'll admit that I never put too much effort into studying my handbook-y thing (I don't even remember what it's called now) but I've always taken the time to learn about the more "heritage-y" things. You know, like those four-word phrases or the sayings with stories attached to them. I've looked up word origins tried my best to learn about Chinese mythology (despite my mother's exhortations that most of it was Satanic). Most of all, I thought it really important that I could speak Chinese well even though I probably could not write an essay about current affairs in Mandarin. I never did any of this obviously because I'll admit that to some degree in the circles that I moved in (and certainly in my family) it was a bit of twisted pride that my Chinese sucked. I suppose I owe this pride in my race and culture to a tutor that I had since I was 7. He was from Mainland China and even though he worked as a computer-something-something he could've passed as a scholar who studied Chinese heritage. He was the one that sparked my interest in the language and history even though he didn't inspire me to memorize example sentences.

The point I'm trying to make is that I think anyone who is proud to be monolingual can kiss my ass. A second language is an unbelievable asset, most of all a language that is understood by more than one in six citizens of the world. I acknowledge that my command of the English language is waaaay better than my command of Mandarin but that doesn't mean that I stop trying to improve it with every opportunity that I get. Right now in dealer school, I talk to the mainlanders (often translating the lectures for them during break time) and constantly ask them to help me improve my Chinese. If anyone asks (especially during a job interview) I speak Mandarin, Hokkien (or Fukien as it's better known here) and I can hold simple conversations in Malay. I can also swear proficiently in the above languages and then some others. Language is not the only thing that relates to national pride though.

When most people realise where I'm from, this is the most common question that I get, "Do you guys cane people for chewing gum there?" A close second would be, "Wow you don't even have an accent! Were you born here?" (No you fuck, weren't you listening? Why would I say that I'm from Singapore if I were born here? WE SPEAK ENGLISH IN SINGAPORE. IT IS TAUGHT IN OUR SCHOOLS. I WAS A DEBATER. WE DEBATED IN ENGLISH.) I feel that there is no way to answer these questions in the one or two sentences that they are expecting. For the most part, they aren't even listening to your response, they're really just waiting for their turn to talk. Due to the fact that there's no concise way to explain that caning is not barbaric, that only the sale of gum is illegal and that the world should be thanking us for having the balls to cane an American I fear that my short answers end up only turning Singapore into a quaint caricature. Then again, perhaps I'm fighting a losing battle anyway. The people here have such a small world view that all they are looking for from me is a stereotype that they can repeat to others when they reveal that they know someone from Singapore. (I guess from this paragraph it's evident that I'm not someone who can come to a point easily) My dilemma stems from my desire to represent Singapore for the amazing place that it is (without many of the social and economic problems that plague most of N. America) and the need for me to provide a quick answer to people's questions about Singapore.

The solution that is the most attractive to me is to pack a .38 (which, while banned in Singapore is perfectly legal here) and just put a slug into anyone that asks if Singapore holds public canings.

There isn't a place in the world without problems. Anyone moving out of Singapore for a "better life"? Hate to tell you this buddy, but you're just swapping your problems and from where I am right now, Singapore is a better place to be. This is a very salient point. I talk to many immigrants about why they moved here and what they think about it now that they've settled here. Almost all the immigrants I have spoken to are from developing countries with SOLs ranked lower than Canada. They all wanted to be here to up their standard of living. To look for opportunity that was otherwise absent in their countries of origin. Did any find what they were looking for? Perhaps two of them, although they've never said so. Half of all the immigrants that I've spoken to since I've landed have since gone home, preferring the problems they are familiar with to the ones in this foreign land.

I'm a Singaporean and I can't put it in a cute two-liner for you what that means to me. I can't even define it by the actions that I plan to take. All I know is that I'll talk about Singapore at every chance I get. I'll advertise the edge that my upbringing in that beautiful, clean, first-world nation has given me academically as well as in terms of discipline and respect. I'll shoot every person who asks me another stupid question about where I'm from (once this plan is feasible, that is) and yes. After all this is over, I'm coming home.

posted by Joie! at 8:04 p.m.


Sunday, August 08, 2004 ______________________________________________________________________________

Public Service Announcement 

No, I'm not dead. The thing is that there really hasn't been anything new to write about. Dealer school is very consuming so I'm not doing anything too too terribly exciting on my days off. Really I've just been watching Alton Brown on his show Good Eats which I highly recommend. In fact, if anyone's wondering about what to get me for my birthday (which is incidentally very, very close) either one of his 9-disc DVD sets would be a very nice present. Co-ordinate it amongst yourselves, just so I don't get copies.

As much as I have written about this on my blog, I feel as though I should insert one last (probably not the last, really) paragraph about dealer school. People are dropping like flies from the school. After about the first week I had a sense of how intense a ride this was going to be. Made sense to me given that graduation meant that I could work for any casino, anywhere in the world. This was going to be some high caliber stuff. I should have realised that because we are being paid to attend the school and because our tuition is covered, the instructors wouldn't hesistate to can people they felt were not up to scratch. Much less hesistant then they would be with people that were paying their own way. That being said though, I'm still really shaken when someone points out that another of our number has bitten the dust. The worst part is that it's not an event. Very often we switch our seating plan so you wouldn't neccessarily realise that someone has left/been asked to leave. I'm starting to suspect that they shuffle us everytime someone drops out so that as few people notice as possible. It's always a few days after the fact in the lunchroom when people mention that so-and-so hasn't turned up today and they're hoping that they're not too sick that someone else butts in with "that guy? he's gone!"

I'm hanging in there pretty well. I hold some class records (which really doesn't mean anything) which means that I'm still buffered by people below me that are likely to be canned first. I was just saying earlier this week that I think that by this point most people have already passed the course as long as they don't do something mind-numbingly stupid. I guess I was wrong. At least we're now done with blackjack and we're all learning how to deal various other table games based on our aptitude for it. I scored 100% on the Mini Baccarat test -- one of only four people who have mamanged to do this. *big grin* I'm glad that I did too because it's a very nice deviation from dealing blackjack all day and it means that I'll have som variety in the casino as well.

Here I am talking about doing well on a gambling aptitude test when my godbrother has just told me that he's been shortlisted for the air force (after undergoing a series of medical and aptitude tests) I think I should stop now.

Last weekend I did manage to get out of the house and do something fun. We went on a bike ride along the Iona to celebrate Jim's Dad's birthday. It was the first time I had ridden a bike in two years. It felt really strange because I used to ride in Pasir Ris all the time. Not to mention that I'm used to be 21-speed mountain bike (now sulking in my parent's garage because I'm willing to wager that no one has taken it out since I last rode it two years ago) and the bike that Jim's dad lent me was a foldable made by know, those ones with tiny wheels that most respectable people spend hours laughing at. The bike was surprisinly nice to ride though and I promise to stop bashing foldable bikes for the next little while at least.

Out on the Iona the tide was ridiculously far out by the time we had reached the end of the trail. The trail extends 4km out into the ocean which is really nice because you are rewarded with being in the middle of a nice body of water (Fraser River I think) Like I said though, the tide was so far out that we could walk another half kilometre beyond the bike trail (this is half a km beyond the end of the 4km jetty) onto rocks that are usually underwater. I saw the coolest wildlife out there. Apart from being splashed with a bit of Commorant poop while we were out there it was a very nice experience. The most mind-blowing thing out there though was a postrate jellyfish. Bright red and as big as Jim's size 11 foot this was something that both Jim and his dad had never seen before (they are both avid outdoor people) . Here's a picture to give you some idea:

There were also a bunch of bright pink starfish that I just has to have a picture of. I have too many pictures of the starfish (including one where it appears that Jim's sucking on one of it's legs) but this is the one that I like the best. It's a kooky pose and it makes it look like Jim and I are being wedded by Triton:

That's what I've been up to lately and I can't promise more regular blogging although my appreciation extends to all of you that are still reading my blog despite my prolonged absence.

posted by Joie! at 9:28 a.m.


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