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Two things in life are certain: death and taxes. (c) benny franklin

April 15th is fast approaching, which means it’s time to fork over some dough to Uncle Sam. It also means it’s time to fork it over to Uncle…Tan? I find the Beatles always make this time of year more bearable.

I looked up the Singaporean income tax structure this morning, and was shocked to discovered that after credits and tax rebates, my total tax rate works out to be less than 5%.

That’s insane! And as a single person, my US taxes would have been somewhere around 25%. Crazy! If I were living in France: approximately 30%.  And probably close to 50% in Scandinavia.

I spend more than that on gasoline in a year in the US. I spend more than that on a plane ticket home. I spend more than that on restaurants in a year.

I’m living in one of the wealthiest nations (per capita) in the world, and paying less than 5%? Hmm…maybe best not to ask questions.

Well, who needs the Beatles now? Laissez-faire baby, and long live free market economies!

[Disclaimer: my SG health insurance sucks].

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I was here –

– with a lot of love, a lot of laughs, a lot of happiness – and it was just as amazing as you might imagine.

Is it really Monday morning already?

Somebody let me into a kitchen today. Obviously they had never heard about my butter chicken fiasco (a year ago, to the date). Nor about the time I called my mother screaming while I gutted a chicken (poor George). Nope, if they knew, they never would have given me this sweet hat.

We did the group cooking class/bonding experience at Coriander Leaf, which happens to be one of my favorite restaurants in Singapore. Fortunately no one asked me to use an open flame. I did however roll a mean rice paper spring roll (aka Vietnamese burrito).

Crystal and I decided to make a video to share our underwhelming culinary prowess with the world (aka Mom and Dad). We also wanted to share Assad’s creative vision, as he felt it was “misunderstood.” [A’s peanut sauce not pictured]

We may not be excellent chefs, but it turns out we can mash peanuts and fold a damn good spring roll. I expect the food network to call any day now.

Below, for your Thursday morning amusement, descriptions of the symbols you will find at Unversal Studios, Singapore.

My personal favorite is the illustration for what happens if you are a guest who has “medical conditions that would be aggravated by strobe effects.” Brilliant.

Reminding guests to remove prosthetic limbs? What percentage of USS visitors have prosthetic limbs? Enough to warrant a symbol (rather than a statement)? What exactly happens on a ride where you would need to take off your leg?

What do you miss about home?

It’s a common question in ex-pat circles, and I hear it even more now that everyone knows I will be returning to the states in a few short months. Most American ex-pats will probably tell you they miss some specific brands, some familiar food items, a favorite store (Target and Whole Foods seem to be popular responses), and the seasons.

But one response that’s generally unanimous amongst the Yankees? “I miss wide open spaces.”

It’s true: everything in the US is big. BIIIG. Our roads are wider, cars are bigger, people are larger, meal portions are super-sized, and heck – even our toilet paper rolls are thicker. There’s just a general sense of more space.

And this is what I was pondering this morning when my Dad sent me this link to pictures of Deadwood, SD – a town about 400 miles east of where his ancestors settled when they emigrated from Norway in 1882 – and the town of HBO fame.

[all pictures by John C.H. Grabill, via the DenverPost]

They make me feel nostalgic for home. It’s an America that no longer exists (and possibly never existed in the way we romanticize it today), but that reminds me of the spacious skies of my country.

The photos are currently archived in the Library of Congress. Check out the link for more images of frontier life.

http://blogs.denverpost.com/captured/2011/02/23/from-the-archive-frontier-life-in-the-west/2713/

Well, it’s official: I’ll be leaving Singapore this summer.

I’m moving back to the States where I’ll be working on my PhD at Yale!

As I was reminded these past few weeks,  it turns out that making major life decisions is… not so easy. I don’t think I’ve been so on-edge since, well… since I decided whether or not to move to Singapore!

It’s a bit strange to know my days in the Little Red Dot are numbered, but I’m exited to move on to a new chapter in my life and for all the exciting things on the horizon!

I suppose it’s time to make a SG Bucket List.  Who’s in for the Night Safari?

I’ve been in my own little personal feminist hell this week (see yesterday’s post for further evidence), but my taxi ride this afternoon was really just the icing on the cake. Please, read an excerpt of the conversation below.

***Taking a taxi back to work from lunch with J at the marina:

Uncle Taxi Driver: You are researchers? Waaaa what a waste!

Me: What??!!

Uncle: Such a waste two lovely ladies in a lab all day nobody can see their beauty.

J: [sarcastically] yeah well that’s why we come out into the sunlight for lunch.

Uncle: You are lovely ladies, so I’ll tell you how it is.  Men like all the Barbies. First you have beautiful Barbie, but next week, newer Barbie!

J: Yeah, I know a lot of guys like this…

Uncle: Yessss I know how the guys. Cheeky cheeky. Got Barbie, but then new Barbie comes and wah lan!  Must have new series.

Me: You mean guys wanna have Malibu Barbie too? Or even Malibu Ken.

[my inappropriate joke is unappreciated]

Uncle: Well, if you can get fresh milk you don’t need to bring home the cow.

[silence]

J: Wait let me guess, the woman is the cow in this story?

Uncle: Correct! If you can drink the fresh milk, why you need to bring the cow home? Then you got to feed the cow.

Me: Hey! What if the cow doesn’t want to come home with you? What if she doesn’t want you pulling on her udders, trying to get her fresh milk all the time?

Uncle: Well, the mans need a lot of different flavors: vanilla milk, chocolate milk, strawberry milk, milk in the coffee…

[a lot of suppressed snorting in the back seat]

Uncle: …and I like this Irish coffee. Good milk.

J: Well, I for one never saw the appeal of a redhead…

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