by Larry Colen

To steal a line, I'm the sort of guy who could find something to complain about if they hung me with a silk rope. I've got a job hacking linux where they rent me a flat a third of a kilometer from work and a little over a kilometer from the MRT (train). The observant reader will have noticed from my previous posts that I'm from Santa Cruz, in California, where we have apartments, and measure distances in miles. I'm not quite sure who is scamming who, but I've agreed to let my company pay for me to live in Singapore for the next six months.

First things first. I know that there are other peevers in, or near, South East Asia. It is time to start planning a peevefest. I'm open for suggestions as to time and place. Preferably someplace where at least one person in attendance will, if not live, at least know their way around, and where the beer is better and cheaper than in Singapore. It would be nice to keep the round trip airfare under US$300, but since I've found out that I could get to Melbourne on that, it shouldn't be too hard. And I suspect that it would be hard to find a place where the beer wasn't better and cheaper than Singapore.

I don't necessarily want to hold it in Singapore. If there are any other peevers, or lurkers, here I'd love to get together, but I'm looking for excuses to explore other places in the vicinity. While I won't claim to have seen everything of interest on this Island, there is by no means six months worth of sightseeing to do here. I sometimes wonder if there is really six hours worth of sightseeing on this Island.

Driving is a classic source of peeve fodder. One peeve is that while there are all sorts of really interesting cars on this Island, I won't be doing much driving while I'm here. With 3 million people on an Island that is 40 km by 27, if it was easy for everyone to get a car, no one would be able to get anyplace. On the other hand, DWO (Driving While Oriental) is plainly not a phenomenon restricted to the bay area. I do think that I will try and find out when the local car club is holding an autocross and try to rent an MGF or a Nissan March for the day.

My biggest peeve with Singapore is the weather. I admit that I'm spoiled by weather that rarely gets below freezing or above body temperature and which has just enough humidity to keep you from getting uncomfortably dried out. If it weren't for the humidity, the temperature here this time of year would be on the warm end of pleasant. With the humidity, the weather sucks. It's nice that every building has aircon, but due to some perverse twist of human nature it is turned up just a little past arctic, so that on walking indoors from the outside rivulets of sweat running down your body immediately freeze solid. And if you wear glasses, be prepared for five minutes of blindness as the frozen glass of the lenses condenses about three litres of water out of the air.

Being uncomfortably warm isn't the worst of it. As a friend said, you get used to it. Not being warm that is, just being uncomfortable. The worst part of it is the chafing. I hereby call upon the worldy knowledge of the men of Peevetown. If one is going to be walking around in a hot, humid environment, was is the best underwear to prevent chafing of the inner thighs, and anything that might get chafed by ones inner thighs if one has the temerity to walk outside for more than two blocks.

In general, the food here is a pretty major !peeve. It's good, there is a tremendous variety and you can get a very tasty meal for about US$3. On my last trip here I set up a mailing list for people who wanted to hear about my adventures and about 3/4 of the writing was about the food. That was, in no small part because while there is a lot of excellent food there isn't much else to do here. First of all there isn't any nature left. On top of that, it is a very conservative culture, so most of the cutting edge expressions of Pop Culture that you expect from a city of three million are noteworthy in their absence. I'd be willing to bet that the average middle aged programmer in the Bay Area lives a more avante garde, rebelious lifestyle than the average Singaporean twenty-something. And in my limited experience the bars frequented by the middle aged expats here are rowdier than the bars filled with the 20-30 year old Singaporean kids.

While it hasn't yet taken over the mainstream again, I think that most people in the US are aware that swing is undegoing a major revival. By now, almost any decent sized city will have at least a couple of swing concerts a month, if not a week. On my last trip here, it took me almost three weeks to find the local swing scene. Granted, once I actually thought about asking usenet it only took me a few days to hook up. If everyone on the island who has gone to a swing dance or class in the past month showed up at a typical Bay Area swing concert, people might notice that it was slightly more crowded, but they probably wouldn't.

There are some very nice things about the swing scene here, versus the one in the Silicon Valley. The classes are a lot less crowded so each student gets more individual attention. Unlike the Silicon Valley there are more women dancing here than men. Since most of the people who do Lindy here learned in classes, rather than bars, they dance 8-count lindy rather than 6-count (east coast swing), so I'm finally going to get enough chance to practice my 8-count enough to learn it well enough to do it outside of class.

Last modified 01/23/98

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