Random Events During Chinese New Year 2021

Over time, the Chinese New Year celebration isn’t quite like when I was a small boy. The pandemic changes the way we celebrate. Or not celebrate. Not just Chinese New Year. Birthday. Wedding. Maybe the future of celebration would emphasize something very personal. Like the first time when a couple holds hands and kiss. Or the first time you see a million dollar worth of assets in your account. Two million. Five million. Life then filled with personal badges and achievements like Steam or Garmin. Why not? My Princess is the 160th song I have written. The “badge” was earned on Oct 31, 2020. I am looking forward to earning the 170th song “badge” this year.

Tiong Bahru Market 2 Days Before CNY

Tiong Bahru Market

I cannot think of just one single reason why prices of meat and vegetable go up as we approach Chinese New Year. In my mind, there is a multitude of reasons. Most stalls are closed during the festive season. Hence, we stock up. More prefer to cook at home as we invite families and friends over. Hence, we buy more. And lastly, I reckon we eat way more during this period of time than we used to. Our meals during the Chinese New Year have to be sumptuous. It is the tradition.

Sum them up explains why a1.8 kg large chicken cost $16.50 two days before Chinese New Year. To put things in perspective, a medium chicken costs around S$8 on a normal day. Vegetable price has also gone up too. Curiously, pork and fish price stayed the same.

You would wonder why.

Someone At Work Delivered a CNY Gift to My Door

Two cans of abalone and biscuits for CNY, as a gift received.

I did not expect this at all. I had in the past someone junior at work sent me a bottle of wine during my birthday and Christmas. This is the first item I have received a gift from someone junior at work during Chinese New Year.

As a matter of fact, I am having the biscuits right now with my glass of white wine. I cannot describe what the biscuits taste like. They are savory and have a spicy aftertaste. Was it dried shrimp flavor? I can’t tell. The taste is so unique that … I just love it. I am eating non-stop as we speak.

Yummy.

An Antique Audio Recording Device

My Zoom Handy Recorder H2 that still works!

In the past, I could make do with the audio recording app that came with my Samsung phone. Now that I have right-graded to a budget realme phone, it just wouldn’t do. To assemble a home studio with a proper mic, DI box or guitar effect, and a multitrack recording device, is just so tedious. The wires. So many wires.

Last night I recalled I have a semi-pro audio recording device inside the dry cabinet. It must have been more than ten years old. I was used to having it to record my band’s jamming sessions inside a studio. Or for live recording when we performed live.

Surprisingly, my antique Zoom recording device still works today, albeit with a very inconvenient user interface. The sound quality beats any phone out there. And it is easy to set up too.

I Have “Rewarded” My Recent Active Lifestyle with a Garmine Venu

Meet my second Garmin watch, Venu!

Recently, I have started to resume living an active lifestyle. I walked a great deal more. I even jogged. I said to myself, if my knees don’t give me any problem after my jogging, I would upgrade my sports watch.

I wouldn’t say my knees are 100% okay. But they are well enough for me to take on a more strenuous form of exercise. My last Garmin watch was Vivoactive HR. It is ugly, very uncomfortable to wear. I was very skeptical over Garmin Venu. I even thought of switching from Android to Apple just for the Apple watch.

I have got to say, Garmin Venu has exceeded my expectation. It looks great. Very functional. And it is comfortable to wear. I will post an honest review once I have experienced what this watch offers.

I cannot remember when was the last time I swam. I have moved to my new condo a few years ago. Today was the first time I swam in an Olympic-sized pool. I have to work on the laps though. I have to glide more so that the watch can detect the strokes per lap correctly. And of course, it goes without saying that I have to swim faster.

Chinese Couplets

To loosely translate this, the couplets say “good fortune flows in smoothly every day, good luck comes every spring as each year starts”.

Before the pandemic, I was used to have a dedicated area in the office for my team of ten or more. I would – with the help of my team – have the area decorated. It could be Christmas and it could be Lunar New Year. Because my team was located in the IT department that are mostly Indian, the minority races such as Chinese and Caucasian would find our area refreshing. Something different.

Now with pandemic, we work from home. Since I have paid for these Chinese decorations in the past, I have decided to bring them home and decorate my place to be more festive.

Back to the Chicken Dishes

A 1.8 kg large chicken can easily be made into three dishes, if not more.

Back to the overpriced large chicken, I had to call my mom in Hong Kong and seek her advice on how long I needed to steam the large chicken. I actually knew the answer. I just wanted a reason to call mom and to confirm what I have already known.

We brainstormed on the phone what other dishes I could make from this 1.8 kg bird. My original plan was to invite my sister and her family over for a reunion dinner. But she could not make it. In the end, one dish on New Year Eve was the freshly steamed chicken (bottom left) serviced with soy sauce, oil, and spring onion dip on the side. Another dish was salt “baked” chicken, which was basically chicken thigh and wing marinated with salt overnight inside a frig. I had it on the Chinese New Year evening. It was delicious.

The third dish is going to be chicken porridge. I intend to shred the salt marinated chicken breast and add dry scallops. That will be my lunch on CNY day 2.

A Chinese New Year Dinner

The beauty of keeping my website current is that I can always go back in time and find out, say, what I did last new year.  It is hard to believe that one year has passed.  Reading what I wrote last year makes me feel that it was only yesterday when Bethany was a tiny baby.  OK.  My niece Bethany is still a little one.  Even with a little bit of motivation (such as doubling the content inside her hong bao this year), she has yet to learn how to call me kau fu, or in English, uncle.  I am a patience man.  I know that day will come.

“A home cooked dinner. From right to left, little Bethany, Benny, my sister Lora, Cynthia, and I.”

This year, my mother is not in town.  So, it was I who wore the apron and cooked up a few Cantonese dishes.  I even had the honor to heat up little Bethany’s dinner, specially made by Benny’s mother.  I have no idea what kids love to play when they are one year old.  But I have discovered that Bethany likes to play with buttons.  And I have tons at home.  Such as my remote controls, my computers, and my amplifier.  With much restraint, I tried not to say ‘cannot’, ‘no’, or ‘not that‘, for it is not quite cool to have Bethany repeats those words I say.  Instead, I brought her the walker and said, “Go to you mama [and please stay away from my stuffs!]”  Or in my attempt to divert her attention, I took out my Indonesia drum and said, “Play this”.  Bethany seemed to enjoy playing the drum, although I really wish that she plays the piano instead.  Maybe she will, when she gets older.  I am thinking of Moonlight Sonata.  I am thinking of Chopin.  I am thinking of chilling out with my books while Bethany plays the piano all day long.

Some traditions should remain, like our family dinners on these special days.  As I was guiding little Bethany to walk next to my sofa, looking at those eyes and ears that are the exact replicas of my sister’s, I could not help but to feel that it was only yesterday when my sister was a toddler, when I was learning to play my big brother’s role in taking care of her.  Decades have passed, with a blink of an eye.

A Small Reunion Dinner

When asked what we do during Chinese New Year, I often begin the lengthy recount of our culture and tradition with a reunion dinner that happens during our Chinese New Year Eve period.  Family members get together in a dinning table (or a dinning hall depending how big one’s family is) to celebrate and to catch up, especially with the elders of the family.  How often do we get to meet our relatives?

A lot more often when we have a baby in the family.

Ever since my little niece Bethany landed on Earth, I see her mother – my sister – almost daily.  And her daddy – my good buddy – too.  Not only that, my mother has also decided to travel from Hong Kong and stay with Cynthia and I because of little Bethany.  She is a little magnet that pull this small family together.  I cannot remember when was the last time we have a reunion dinner together.  It would be nice if my dad could travel to Singapore too.  Perhaps when Bethany is old enough, we shall travel Hong Kong and celebrate our reunion in our birth town.

I often think that babies are sound polluting machines.  Little Bethany seems calm and well-mannered when she is in my home, or in my car.  Most of the time, she sleeps like a baby.  She is a baby!  This is her second long visit to where I live.  And I have to admit, the more often I see her, the deeper bonding I am developing with her.  Imagine parents who see and handle their babies every minute of their waking hours.  That bonding must be strong.  It is something that is hard to explain, best to experience.

Observing things that we do with Bethany, I ponder upon the necessity of daily routine act of affection with your loved ones.  Something that we may have overlooked, something that may have been overwritten by other daily routines.  As I was holding little Bethany in my arms, the first time after she was born, I could not help but to think …

… I reckon if she was to camp to my home for a few days, I could still play computer games while she is sleeping in my embrace.  Her daddy Benny doesn’t seem to be convinced.  I should do a live demo the next time they visit us.

Happy Chinese New Year

Happy Chinese New Year!  When I walked into the office, some of my clients actually knew that today was the Chinese New Year.  According to them, it was being broadcast on the radio.  I wore red shirt and red tie, just to look very “traditional”.

Today was not so good for Aurore as she had locked herself out.  Lucky her landlord does have the spare key.  As for me, I was such a good day before I received a new SIR from Noubi.  What a bastard!  Usually when a SIR is closed, he would write, “Attn : Wilfrid. This is to inform you that <SIR#> has been successfully tested, and can be closed.”  Being so bored with seeing this all the time, me and Mohamed composed this, “Attn : Noubi. This is to inform you that <SIR#> has been successfully installed, and can be tested.”  And he actually issued a SIR on this Microsoft Mail Message.  The SIR said something like, first the information “Noubi” was duplicated (as it is in the header as well) and said that it should read, “tested successfully” instead.  I was so pissed off that I went straight to Aurore and told her that that guy was crazy and needed some help.  In the end it was supposed to be a joke between Noubi and Mohamed and of course, Mohamed did not appreciate the joke either, and neither did Aurore.  God, that fellow needs some HELP.

And met my Aunt and Uncle for dinner tonight.