Friday, 28 November 2008

Shonky awards

Perhaps I am simply too idealistic, but it always saddens me to realise that there are evil companies out there selling dodgy products that are made simply to make a profit without care of the consumer.

I mean, I'm not that naive to know it exists. I just get sad when I hear about it.

Why can't we all live in peace and harmony without wanting to take advantage of each other for our own selfish gain?

Anyway, despite the unscrupulous methods of some businesspeople, there are also people out there protecting the interests of consumers.

Introducing the Choice Shonky Awards - a list of the dodgiest of dodgy products out there.

The one I found most concerning?

If you’re concerned about animal welfare, you may have been buying free-range eggs in the hope they come from more cheerful chooks than their cramped cage cousins. After all, some of the cartons show happy hens roaming in lush, green paddocks. But don’t be fooled. The term “free-range” has no legal definition in Australia, found a CHOICE report.

There are voluntary standards, such as FREPAA’s, the Free Range Egg and Poultry Association of Australia. However, the vast majority of free-range eggs are certified by the Australian Egg Corporation, the national industry body representing about 90% of producers. Conveniently, its Egg Corp Assured scheme has a more relaxed definition of free-range than the voluntary standards, making it easier for members to use the free-range label and access the shopping dollar from concerned consumers.

Even true free-range chooks spend more time in a shed than outdoors. But while FREPAA restricts the number of hens to seven per square metre of shed area, Egg Corp Assured allows 14 – not much less than the 18 /m² in cage systems. Unlike FREPAA, Egg Corp allows beak trimming and shed sizes on a scale that means many chooks will never find their way outdoors.

More Shonkiness here.

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Lelah the debutante

My first ever knitted top!

No, I did not name my top Lelah. The pattern for the top was called Lelah and so I pretty much just ran with it.

It was an incredibly easy knit for a top - I suppose not having to worry about collar and sleeves do that. It took a while (about six weeks of on and off knitting), but it was fun to see it turn out in the end and add the pretty ribbons and finally wear it.

I was rather worried that it wouldn't fit me, but it fits fine. The only thing I might have changed would be to make it slightly longer so that it was kind of like a half-dress. But I like it like this too.

I knitted this with a wool/alpaca yarn, making it rather heavy and warm. So it's nice to actually wear it like a vest over a shirt. May consider knitting it with cotton or something one day, so that it will actually be some sort of summer wear.

Sunday, 23 November 2008

Christmas tree, oh Christmas tree

I don't really see the point of spending money on a Christmas tree that will be displayed for only a few weeks in a year. And it's not just the cost of the Christmas tree. The many ornaments that go on to the Christmas tree is enough to send someone broke.

But I liked the idea of a Christmas tree. And so one day, while walking the dog with D at the back of my flats, I stumbled upon what would become my Christmas tree.

Yes, that piece of branch.

I stuck it into an old juice glass bottle and bought some red pebbles for some Christmas cheer.

Then I gathered the raw materials.

Some photos printed on normal paper, using some pretty pictures from A Print a Day as background. Simply used a needle and some unwanted yarn and poked a hole through the top of the paper and tied it to the branch.

I tried making a wreath as well using some junk mail that was lying around.

However, it was really heavy card stock and made it slightly harder to fold and stuff. Looked good though, and cost nothing. If more junk mail appear in my letterbox in the next few days, I may embark on more wreath making.

Behold, my "Christmas" tree.

Total cost: $2 - for the red pebbles.

Friday, 21 November 2008

Yellow fever

Disclaimer: I am not dismissing the seriousness of body-trafficking and prostitution. It is an atrocity and believe me, happens not only in Thailand, but in your neighbourhood as well. Up to four million people are victims of human trafficking each year - that's the equivalent of exploiting the entire population of Singapore every year and forcing them into slavery, sweatshop labour or prostitution. It is terrible and it must end.

That was the reason why I was researching this article, but then I came across a few remarks that made me smile. And I quote:
Some men - a lot of men - prefer Asians. What lies at the heart of Thailand's sex tourism industry is the way we sexually stereotype Asians; about the way Asian women perform in the bedroom and act in a relationship.

I asked my ex-girlfriend, Viv - brought up in England by parents from Hong Kong - about it. Her words detonated off the screen:"Oh my God, I have so much to say about this." In her opinion, there is "a hell of a lot" of sexual stereotyping. She told me: "We call it 'yellow fever', which I find hilarious, or 'Asian fetish', which is more common. I get it all the time at certain clubs, and you know that guys are only talking to you because you look Asian.

Viv had a number of theories about why Caucasian men are attracted to Asian females. First, there is the physical difference. "Perhaps it's the hairlessness of our bodies and the different feel of our skin due to the extremely healthy diet and the blackness and straightness of the hair," she said. "Everything is completely different."

Cultural differences serve to heighten the attraction. "Girls are taught to bring up a family and to know their place; to take all sorts of shit and still be courteous and long-suffering without a word of complaint.

"Western guys who look ugly as hell and don't stand a chance with strong-minded, selfish, feminist, materialistic, status-driven Western girls can have beautiful Asian girls falling over themselves to be with them."

After reading this, I can't help but feel that I'm a failed Asian.
  1. * I have naturally wavy hair that become quite curly if I don't brush it.
  2. * I started going grey when I was about 14. I have to colour my hair at least once every three months to ensure I don't get mistaken for a grandma (perhaps the fact that I knit doesn't help matters).
  3. * I have no intention of having children at the moment and certainly do not have plans of bringing up a family.
  4. * I know my place - it involves being assertive and not being trodden over.
  5. * And alas, I am somewhat feminist.
  6. * Oh, and I do know a lot of Western girls who are not selfish, feminist, materialistic or status-driven. So much so that they put me to shame.
But the beauty of this is that it proves to me that D loves me for me and not simply because he's suffering from some sort of yellow fever.

Ah, the beauty of I love it.

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

The closet activist

I preached a sermon at church about two months ago and it was filmed.

But before I show you the video, I need to say this - man, the camera really does add 10 pounds.

No, not really. I mean, the statement is true, but that was not the point I wanted to make. What I want to say is that there are two breaks in the video where I run off and sit down. It's not because I got tired or got stage-fright. I was showing two different videos.

The first video, I'll embed just below the video of my sermon.

The second video, well, it's actually a powerpoint + music slideshow thing. I can put the powerpoint presentation up, but I don't know how to put music up. So you'll just have to use your imagination as to when the music presentation starts and how it all fits in.

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Constant trouble

I was recently reminded of this quote by a friend:
Jesus promised those who would follow him only three things - that they would be absurdly happy, entirely fearless, and always in trouble.

The problem is that I'm not sure if I should attribute the quote to Gregg Levoy or G K Chesterton, but that's not the point of this post.

It's a quote that I really like because it says so much about my life as a Christian.

It's not that I'm an anarchist, or consistently finding myself in trouble. But I have discovered that since becoming Christian, I do often inadvertently find myself in some sort of "trouble".

Whether it's challenging the way things are done because I believe it is going against God's moral law and principles, or simply following God's leading and finding oneself in an environment completely unfamiliar with only God to lean on, I have had my fair share of trouble.

But the beauty of it all is the peace you get with the faith you have.

When you trust that God is there for you, looking out for you, you have a sense of peace and the feeling that you can conquer anything.

And that's when you get the feeling of absurd happiness.

And although fear will still exist, it will not be crippling.

Monday, 17 November 2008

Knitted graffiti

I don't know how people can have that much time in their hands to knit frivolous things.

I hardly have time to finish knitting a scarf, what more spend time knitting fruit cosies or stuffed guitars.

But maybe it's simply because I knit far too slowly?

Knitted graffiti is one of those frivolous things that fascinate me though - it's like graffiti-ing a public object, only not with spray paint, but yarn.

Check out this tree:

And this:

Essentially frivolous, but oh so funny. And somewhat akin to random sculptures/art pieces in the city. Imagine walking past something like that, in such bright happy colours - I can't help but think it'll brighten your day. And I suppose the damage is not as permanent as spray paint.

Not that I would ever have time to do something like this. I'm still trying to finish a top I started about two months ago.

More about Urban Knitting.

Friday, 14 November 2008

Rainbow cowl

I had a lot of fun knitting up this cowl, and it wasn't because it was such an easy knit or because the colours are just oh so pretty! Those reasons are all valid, but the real reason for all the fun is because the yarn came from a magic yarn ball.

See the little lollipop stick peeking out? The entire ball of yarn not only had hidden lollies, but a whole bunch of different surprises. I found a pair of earrings, some lovely beads, hair ties and of course, lollies.

These were hidden at random stages of the yarn ball, so after knitting for a length, a surprise would pop out. It was most fun to discover what the next goodie would be!

Unfortunately, I still have half a ball of yarn left after finishing the cowl, so I'll have to look for a new project to embark on to reveal all the other goodness.

The yarn was initially meant to be used to knit up a pair of socks, but a quarter way through, I came to the realisation that I am not a sock knitter. Too fiddly, too slow and I just simply cannot see the point of knitting socks. It's not as if I would be bear to wear what I've painfully hand knitted on my feet anyway.

As for the cowl, I simply love the colour. It was a rather quick knit and is really lightweight as well, which means...perfect for summer!

Thursday, 13 November 2008

Photo challenge - wash

I actually quite enjoy xfacta's photo challenges, so here goes another one on the theme of wash.

This time, I couldn't quite decide, so I ended up with two photos.

After wash

The cat on the top of the photo is Checkers, and the other is Domino. I was pet-sitting them last week and they are such adorable and affectionate little kittens/cats. Well, Domino more than Checkers, who is a bit of a scaredy-cat.

But this photo opportunity came up while I was reading in bed. First Checkers came and snuggled next to my legs (which are under the blanket), and then Domino joined us in bed. Checkers started licking Domino on the head, which prompted some rather loud purring. Then Domino proceeded to do the same to Checkers, which caused even more purring.

For the next ten minutes or so, these two cats were licking each other (even in the ear, which grossed me out a bit) and giving each other a wash and purring away. It became a wash/snuggle/purr party. It was the cutest thing.

Then they fell asleep. Domino actually had her arm around Checkers initially, kind of like she was hugging her, but by the time I got the camera and took the photo, they had somewhat changed positions.

Needs a wash

This is Louis. A rather unfortunate looking French bulldog who sounds more pig than dog. I had to turn up the volume while watching TV just so that I can hear it over his snorting.

Despite not being your typical cute puppy, this pig/dog is quite charming in his own little way. He likes company, but doesn't like being petted. He loves going for walks, but only lasts for about a block. He especially loves it when you play frisbee with him, not in the throw and catch way, more of the "I'll grab it with my teeth and we'll see how good you are at prying it off me" kind of way.

I took this photo before the photo challenge came up. But I just had to use it because it's just so appropriate since when the photo was taken, the dog badly needed a wash.

We washed him that very afternoon, but it needed two people. One to hold him down, the other to scrub.

Oh, and if you look closely, you may be able to see my reflection in Louis' eye.

Friday, 7 November 2008

Role models

There was great media attention and debate in Singapore this month, when a primary school teacher decided to join an international competition where contestants had to send in photos of them wearing extremely skimpy bikinis.

The photos are then posted on a website for the whole world, including the teacher’s students, to view.

The controversy wasn’t the fact that she joined the contest, but because she was a teacher.

The Singapore public did not like the fact that someone who taught pre-teens was parading around in barely there, if at all, outfits.

As Faith mentioned on her blog in an interview with a teacher, teachers have no private life. There is a code of conduct that must be adhered to, and permeates all aspects of their public image. Their image and actions are more important than what is taught to students in class.

But this public image is not just something teachers possess.

We have a very public image as well by the fact that we call ourselves Christians.

We are role models to the world in everything we do and say. Do Christians have a private life? Not really. Because by the very virtue of being Christians, people are judging us.

A teacher may affect her influence on her students, but a Christian affects their influence on the salvation of others, and people’s view of God.

So how have you interacted with others and behaved today?
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