Saturday, April 26, 2008

Life, Made Possible by Opposable Thumbs

I had no idea how important it is to have opposable thumbs. I guess you never appreciate something until you don't have it. Not that I don't have a thumb - I just have limited use of my left one. Last Monday while cutting pineapple I managed to cut a sizable chunk off the end of it. I mean enough that I thought, "I wonder if I need stitches" except I don't know how they could sew back on the small piece that was completely severed. Yeah, we're all about severing body parts in this house. At least I refrained from shaking my thumb in response to the pain like Erik did when he cut his finger. There are still splatters of blood on the refrigerator.

It didn't stop bleeding completely for about 24 hours. That's right, feel sorry for me. But my point is that it's amazing what I can't do now that all the nerves in the end of my thumb are exposed. I tried to do beading with Megan the other day. It was excruciatingly painful. I had to quit. I can't open things with caps. I can't text message, which in Singapore is essential. And the list goes on. Maybe it sounds minimal, but observe throughout your day how many times you use the end of your thumb.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Asia's "greenest" city?

My announcement that there was a plastic bag for empty cans near the cooler was met by a chorus of "Wah! Gina - so green lah!" from our Singaporean friends at the BBQ. Green, for suggesting that we recycle our cans? Green for 1985 maybe.

But such is the sad state of affairs in Singapore, the "greenest" city in Asia. It is green by physical description, but by no means in its commitment to the environment, unfortunately. Though the rumblings of "going green" are present here as they seem to be everywhere now, Singapore is slow to respond. From what I understand, the sentiment here is that Singapore is a small country and therefore its "carbon footprint" must be small. But a recent study of impact on the environment ranked Singapore #22 out of the world. This, from a country that is 15 by 25 miles long.

In some ways, Singaporeans could seem like they are environmentally conscious - they rarely run air con at home, take cold showers and generally use cold water for everything, use public transport, reuse many items like plastic bags. But as a recent magazine article here pointed out, that's not green, it's cheap. They want to save money. Singaporeans like comfort and convenience as much as the next human. Maybe more.

I don't mean this to be an indictment against Singapore, but it's frustrating to try to be environmentally conscious in a country that doesn't seem to care. Though many stores now sell reusable bags, actually using them is a struggle not just because of the strange looks I get, but because Mustafa (where I do most of my shopping) won't let you. Since you can check out at any of the plethora of checkout counters there, they cinch your bags closed with plastic ties. Can't do that with reusable bags. Instead, I just nag them to put more items in one bag so I have fewer, which is tiring. They're resistant. And recycling? You have to go find it. There is a place near us that takes metal and glass, but we have to drive to find a place for paper and cardboard. There is no encouragement to use such facilities.

Hybrid cars have finally come to Singapore, though I believe you need about $50,000 US to purchase one. I've debated lately getting rid of my car, or going back to using public transport more often, but I confess, with homeschooling, my time is precious and the thought of doing so stresses me out. So here I am pointing my finger back at myself. I'll do my part to take cold, short showers, bring my reusable bags or recycle the plastic ones, not run my AC unless I'm dripping, recycle what I can, but the reality is, if the people around me aren't pushing me to do it, I'm afraid I'm tempted to go with the flow and keep sucking the earth dry.

In my dreams, I build a house that is as eco-friendly as possible, with solar panels and an incinerator for garbage, and anything else I can afford to do to make less of an impact. I'll admit this desire is new for me, so I'm far from being labeled green (except it seems by Singaporean standards). Any suggestions on what else we can do here to save the earth, I'm open.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008


I received an email recently featuring pictures of how various aspects of the world would look if women ruled. One of them was a car dealership which organized the cars according to color. That made perfect sense to me. Cars are vehicles which move people and objects from one place to another. I prefer ones that are gas efficient - if I could afford a hybrid here, I'd get one - and are colors I like such as red or orange.

I understand boys are different in this respect. I saw this firsthand today when Ethan peered over my shoulder in the car and said, "Mom, is that a Ferrari in front of us?" I said, "No, that's a Lamborghini." (the only reason I knew that is because it said Lamborghini on the back). All I could think about was how ugly Lamborhinis are, and how choosing yellow made it even less appealing. But I could practically hear Ethan drooling behind me.

"You think that's pretty cool, huh bud?"
"Yeah," he said in a long drawn out way.

I will never understand, but it seems my son is falling in with his own kind.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

I should have known

I am happy to announce that I am once again the proud owner of a pair of white Gap pants which do NOT smell like fish. What finally did it for them was a good vinegar and water soak. Of course it was vinegar that did it! I should have known.

I think I may have become vinegar's biggest fan. Check out this website: 1001 uses for vinegar. I plan to try every one. In the last six months I've started to use vinegar for almost all my cleaning. It's cleaned things I couldn't get clean with anything else. I put it in my laundry instead of bleach to disinfect my clothes. It made my dingy sink white. It finally got that black scum off my tub. It removed the mold from the tiles in my bathroom. Mix it with baking soda and you've got an amazing scrub. And it's cheap and non-toxic!

Ok, now that I sound like an infomercial, rejoice with me that I no longer have fish smelling pants thanks to the wonder of vinegar.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Word to the Wise

Here's your friendly tip for the day: Never, ever, EVER, leave your omega 3 fish oil pill in your pocket. Why? Because when you wash your pants, it will dissolve and your pants will smell like fish FOREVER.

As you may have guessed, I know this from personal experience. I have washed this pair of pants three times, but it still smells. Any suggestions? I was thinking of soaking it in a bleach solution because it's white. I'll probably google "fish smell pants" later.

Just trying to help you learn from my mistakes.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

The toe

People keep asking about Megan's toe. It's never visible to the general public because she herself refuses to view it. This requires a constant switching of socks, Crocs (but only inside!), shoes, flippers or loads of bubbles in the bathtub.

Today I convinced her to let me take a few pictures of the toe for you all to see. It looks fairly normal, but the lack of a tendon on the bottom side means that she can't curl it down. As a result, it sticks out a bit more than the others. It also seems to be much more chummy with its right neighbor than it was previously.

So here it is - judge for yourself how it looks. She is coming to terms with the fact that it may never curl down as much as the other ones, since she lost the tendon on the bottom. I for one think it might end up being a cool party game someday (hey, check this out - I can make my middle toe stick out straight!). Maybe that's just wishful thinking.

Can you tell which toe it is? If it's not obvious, it's the middle toe on the left foot. Her foot itself looks a little goofy because she has a rash right now. Notice how the skin between the second and third toes is connected a little higher than on the right foot. This is what seems to be making it lean to the right.

I think if you click on this picture you'll be able to see more clearly the pin mark in the end of the toe. Here it's a little more obvious that it's not back to normal, and may never be. Are you still letting your children wear Crocs outside?? They're evil!

I asked Megan to curl her toes down, which is when the injury becomes more pronounced. It's strange to feel it, because literally she has no power to push her toe down - there's no muscle there to make it happen. But we're thankful she still has a toe at all!