Bills and coins from Australia

While packing for my trip to Australia, I learned a bit about the different kinds of bills and coins to look out for. I found a fantastic online guide, and reformatted it into a printer-friendly A4-size PDF, which I printed and took with me.

My list didn’t do me a lot of good, though, because most of the time I was inside the resort, and the fee for the workshop and lodgings included almost all the meals. Nevertheless, I did manage to get different denominations of bills and at least one of the special-issue coins, along with samples of three different portraits of the queen from different eras of coinage.

I couldn’t believe—I still can’t believe—how HUGE the 50-cent coins are! I didn’t think any country in the world had coins this bulky.

Here’s an Australian 50-cent coin next to a current Singapore 50-cent coin, a current US 25-cent coin, and one of the old Singapore 50-cent coins, which until now I thought seemed big!

The twelve-sided shape is awesome, though, I have to admit.

The embroidered flag patch I bought in the airport was expensive, but looks to be of good quality. I resisted buying any plastic keychains shaped like kangaroos. The pens were free, courtesy of Greenleaf Press (the organizer of the retreat) and Montville Country Cabins (the workshop and retreat venue where we stayed).

Small little bowls from years past

In Singapore I have a large collection of small little bowls purchased during my travels. However, the collection began before I moved away from home for good. Here are some of the small little bowls that reside at my parents’ house, which all probably entered the collection before 2003. Sadly, I don’t know where they’re all from. See below for details on these and several others I found during my visit to Atlanta.

Continue reading Small little bowls from years past

Spot the homophone (plus a lesson in contest statistics)

This advertisement (which was designed to be hung on a horizontal pole on a bus or a train) says:

West My Golden Ticket?

The idea for this jokey name is that the word “west” in Singlish has the exact same three sounds as the word “where’s” in Singlish.

Yep. They’re both pronounced “wes”.

Below is some explanation of what the advertisement wants you to do (spend money, duh) and how the math works.

Continue reading Spot the homophone (plus a lesson in contest statistics)

NUS E-Resource Discovery Day Book Sale 2017

I bought 16 books at the annual NUS E-Resource Discovery Day Book Sale today. The paperbacks were SG$1 and the hardcovers were SG$2. There were eight or ten tables, including some Chinese books and Japanese manga.

The book I’m most excited about in this batch is the one about Singlish (top left), called New Englishes: The Case of Singapore, published by NUS Press in 1988.

The runner up is the vintage hardcover titled An Introduction to the Study of Education, published in the US in 1951. The binding, the weight of the paper and the oddly familiar, comforting typography make it a distinctly pleasing physical object regardless of whatever it happens to say.

  • New Englishes, by Joseph Foley
  • An Introduction to the Study of Education, by George Willard Frasier
  • A Parent’s Guide to Children’s Reading, by Nancy Larrick
  • Tell Me Why?, by Octopus Publishing Group
  • Organization Development (6th Edition), by Wendell L. French and Cecil H. Bell, Jr.
  • Talking with Kids, by Alison Mulvaney
  • Megacreativity, by Andrei G. Aleinikov
  • The Chinese, by David Bonavia
  • The Pagemaster, by Jordan Horowitz
  • Arthurian Romances, by Chretien de Troyes
  • The Language Web, by Jean Aitchison
  • Vocabulary: Description, Acquisition and Pedagogy, by Edited by Norbert Schmitt and Michael McCarthy
  • Getting the Best from People, by Martha I. Finney
  • Hiring the Best, by Cathy Fyock
  • Syntax of Scientific English, by Lee Kok Cheong
  • Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (5th Edition)

Lehigh mug is lihai.

The Mandarin expression 厉害 (lìhài) means ‘awesome’ or ‘powerful’, among other things.

I heard the expression several times while watching Kung Fu Yoga, so when I next looked at this mug, I saw it in a whole new light, even though I’ve had it for years.

I toured the New Jersey plant belonging to Lehigh Press (a Von Hoffmann company) at some point when I was working in the production department of Princeton University Press (2005–2008).

The place was full of huge, expensive German printing machines and stacks and stacks of different kinds of paper.

The company printed the book cover (but I think not the pages) for some of our titles. They also printed Harry Potter book covers!

Before we left, they gave us some company-brand swag stuff like this mug, plus samples of things they’d printed with fancy techniques.

Lehigh Press closed down in 2008.

It was home to the country’s largest vacuum collator, an assembly-line machine that uses suction force to stack sheets of printed paper or plastic film in order.

That was awesome.

Euros from Malta

You can spend any country’s Euros anywhere in the Eurozone, which means the coins spread around a bit. Still, in Spain, mostly you see Spanish Euro coins, and in Italy, mostly you see Italian ones, and so on.

Thus, if you were trying to collect all the different coins in circulation in the Eurozone countries, you’d have little hope of running across all the coins from the small Mediterranean island country of Malta, unless you or someone you knew actually went there.

Challenge accepted.

My husband Aquinas brought back a set of eight Maltese Euro coins for each of us when he went to Malta for a conference this month.

Maltese for Foreigners

My husband Aquinas brought back this set of learning materials for me from Malta, where he went for a conference.

It’s not that I have any serious intention of studying the language, it’s that I collect language-learning materials. I suspect the fact that Maltese is written using the Latin script would make it easier than other Semitic languages for an English speaker to learn, though.

Semitic? As in, related to Hebrew? Yep! Maltese is not just a popular breed of dog or an infamous falcon statuette, it’s an amazing hybrid of Arabic and Italian, two languages which, frankly, I didn’t know had a non-empty intersection.

Popular atrium sale at United Square

I bought the 20 books shown above and listed below for S$2 each at a sale hosted by the United Square branch of the Singapore bookstore chain Popular. Two Singapore dollars is a tough price to beat, even for used books in the US! These books were new but remaindered or noticeably shopworn in some cases.

I think the one I was most excited about finding was China in Ten Words, which was on my Amazon wishlist. If I’d bought it new on Amazon, it would have cost what ten of these books cost me.

Windhaven by George R. R. Martin and Lisa Tuttle
I already have an old mass-market paperback but I wanted a trade paperback version.

Find Your Strongest Life by Marcus Buckingham
I wanted a trade paperback version to replace the bulky hardcover I already have.

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
I wanted this 50th anniversary edition for the cover. I have lots of different editions with different covers.

Blink by Malcolm Gladwell
I have already read it, but I didn’t own a copy.

Literary Singapore by The Literary Arts Team of the National Arts Council
As a member of the Singapore Writers’ Group, I wanted to learn more about other Singapore Writers.

Things That Suck by Jason Kaplan
So funny!

10,000 Extraordinary and Puzzling Words by Robert H. Hill
When I saw the word ‘coelacanth’ on the back cover, I had to have it.

We Love Toa Payoh by Urban Sketchers Singapore
I’ve admired these sketchbooks for a while but been unwilling to fork over the full price.

H Plus by Edward de Bono
As stated previously, this guy is a master of the short-but-expensive book, so I grab cheap copies when I can.

China in Ten Words by Yu Hua
I have wanted to read this for a while!

Stylized by Mark Garvey
This is a book about that much praised and maligned touchstone of writing manuals, Elements of Style by Strunk and White.

Tiger Babies Strike Back by Kim Wong Keltner
This book is an answer to Tiger Mother Amy Chua.

A Good Talk by Daniel Menaker
This is a book on an intriguing pop-psychology self-improvement topic.

How to Talk So Teens Will Listen and Listen So Teens Will Talk by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish
I have one of their other books.

The One Thing You Need to Know by Marcus Buckingham
This is another strengths-based management book.

The Truth about You by Marcus Buckingham
This is another strengths-based management book.

Sometimes You Win Sometimes You Learn by John C. Maxwell
Learning from mistakes is perhaps not just the best way to learn; maybe it’s really the only way to learn.

Bright Side Up by Amy Spencer
Positive psychology strikes again.

Antifragile by Nassim Nicholas Taleb
I have his other books.

Bounce by Matthew Syed
This is an attractive green hardcover about competition, success, the importance of practice, or the myth of talent. Or something. Could be a rehash of Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers but with even less science.