#2075 | Sunnier days

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I dont think i actually did a post proper on my January maldives diving trip. I suppose I will, one day. Not today. Today is closing on a rather exhausting note: a late morning start because of a book I just could not put down last night, a series of work related hijinks, bashing through the bramble of my thesis-in-progress, and then the last three hours of my night, spent paying respects (but more so just being there for a friend) at a wake. It all seems so grown up and adult. I miss the times when my greatest worry was bumping into a pufferfish or stepping on coral underwater, while simultaneously holding the knowledge that the sentiment is fluff and nostalgia. I like being grown up, part of me does, because being grown up comes with benefits like freedom and age-related respect and money. But I like my adulting doled out in small, manageable doses. Not the type where people try and fail to pay for mortgages and stress about where to live and also, the type where people get old, and expire at the exact moment when you realise the gravitas of death.

I remember the statistical truth of once having felt that I had it all put together, but i no longer feel the reality of the truth. Perhaps this is thesis, stage four, talking. But surely it has gone on for too long. Is there ever a point where you wake up and think that you’ve got it all figured out? I laugh at my younger self who felt like I did, once: it now seems naive. Perhaps it is that, at also the 1am ennui pressing itself upon me. Another thing: the imposition of age, the wearing down of invincibility. I now feel it in my bones, a grumbly protest, whenever it hits midnight, like some perverse reverse cinderella. My greatest goal now is to nap my life away. And from, you know, chats, conversations, confessions, it seems that this goal is not specific to me but to the stage of adulthood in general.

ah. happy days in the sun.

x
jem

#2074| millennial lingo

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Robe: Pomelo

Question: Will your cat ever love you, or is bitchiness just their aesthetic?

Aesthetic is a word i’ve been using quite frequently, in a mildly self conscious manner. The thing about living with two quote-unquote millennials is that they are always talking in this lingo i cannot understand, which seems specifically designed to make me feel old and out of touch. Damn you! I said. I am mainstream and in the know. Stop making me feel old! But my sisters just stared at me and sniggered.

Really?
They said. What’s woke? What’s shook? What’s triggered?

I know lit af
, I said.

And they shook their heads at me sadly (apparently not the same shook they were referring to earlier). Lit af was so 2016, jie, they said.

… Whatever. Get-off-my-lawn-style grumpy aside, it’s been interesting. All I’m taking away from this season’s millennial lingo is, kids these days sure are keen on the past tense.

x
Jem

#2073 | hashtag cheryl blossom

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starbucks’s new green tea strawberry blossom is ultra grammable

Is it normal to love coffee so much? I really don’t know. I drink it black and cold (like my heart) almost exclusively nowadays, but one must make exceptions, and my exception this week was a sip of shane’s green tea strawberry blossom frap. so sweet. so pretty. so indulgent.

the new blossom frap reminds me of the ever annoying cheryl blossom from riverdale, this new netflix series that i cannot stop bitchin about. everyone i know, and i do mean everyone, is obsessed with it. even my self-proclaimed cinephile friends, and film-maker friends. I’m in disbelief. as someone who grew up in absolute love with cole sprouse (or dylan, i dont care, my affection is interchangeable), devoted in heart and spirit till i was in junior college and discovered sterling knight aka chad dylan cooper from disney’s sonny with a chance, this breaks my heart. i vowed to love everything my boy sprouse was in. but i cannot take riverdale seriously. i just cannot.

putting aside the fact that i told everyone i had no more time to tv cos, yknw, #thesis, i still dont stand up as well to peer pressure as i thought i would. i finally got suckered into watching it by martin who insisted that its surprisingly damned good. thus four hours of my life passed, and at the other end of four hours i came out and yelled at him for another four for making me do that.

firstly what the hell.

is no one in the show at least attempting to be believable? i cannot bring myself to believe that betty loves archie. she looks like she secretly hates him off camera. i have never seen anyone look so unconvincing when declaring to their gay best friend their love for the generic main protagonist. and generic is cutting it too close for comfort – whats up with archie? dude’s way basic. yes ok he’s cute – but so is literally everyone in the show. plus why are we pretending that his songs about heart break are revolutionary and indicative of talent?! hearts get broken, songs get sung. entire careers are built on this trope. ahem taylor ahem swift. this is nothing new. I’m tired of people using artistic endeavours like music or painting or whatever as a crutch that’s meant to symbolise that a character is ~varied emotionally and deep~. couldnt they have been a bit more respectful of female standards instead of making betty and veronica fight over this lame boy?

is the show’s aesthetic that no one can act? is this everyone’s first real role out of acting school? why is veronica always crossing her eyes everytime she wants to look serious? i cannot believe that veronica is a real person. she is very attractive but i think that’s the actress and not the character. who wrote this show? why do the character lines and dialogue feel like they’re trying to teach me something about ~insert hot social issue here~? and what is up with cheryl blossom? is she a fake blair waldorf? why is she so unbelievable as a character? why are all the parents in this show crazy? is this show channeling pretty little liars? when are we going to stop using this idea of male-female-bestfriendship as a vehicle for one party pining for the other? it is totally possible for men and women to be friends without one falling in love with the other. every single time a tv show turns a platonic friendship into a plot device for a romantic relationship, a fairy dies somewhere. tinkerbell, save me.

the only thing i liked about it was the appearance of josie and the pussycats, whom i loved in the comics. but then the representation of josie confuses me too. why is she so angsty? why is she so unnecessarily bitchy to everyone she talks to? wheres all this emotion coming from josie??? tell me!!!!

I was bitchin about this in the car, on the way to supper with my uni friends. the occasion was that emmanuel, who had migrated to hongkong a month ago, was back in town for twenty four hours. and in the car, we were talking about television, and either one of us brought up riverdale, and i went onto this tirade again.

watched episode one and hated it, he said. does it get better?
I’m on episode four and it still makes me want to smack something.
ok never mind then
i dont understand why its so unbelievable emman i really dont. why didn’t they qc the acting a bit more??

emmanuel stopped and stared at me.

its the CW, jem. acting is not their priority. hot people and melodrama is.

and i suppose he has a point there.

so that’s kind of my life update for the week, i guess. been studying, drinking starbucks, and bitching about television. i think school related stress is making me unnecessarily emotional about everything. my boyfriend was looking at emman and i go on and on about riverdale, and he finally said: jem, why u gotta be so triggered?

hashtag life.

x
Jem

#2072 | #LADiaries – Waking up in Airbnb Ktown, obviously.

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Waking up in LA
sign up at airbnb.com/jemma for $35 off your stay

Oh, my Airbnb #LADiaries are far from over, friends. But it’s a short one today, because I was flipping through my trip photos and was just reminded of how gorgeous our listing was, a crime not to document, really. Sometimes, I look through Airbnb listings even when I’m not actually going anywhere simply because the entire site serves as a reminder that apartment goals are totally, hundred percent achievable. They’re not just a studio photoshoot set, people live in these beauties! And then other times, being very, very lucky, I get to live in some of them, and live the dream, if only for a little while.

This one was picked out for me by the Airbnb team when I was in LA last November for Airbnb Open 2016. They sure know me, I thought, as I walked in, the place was all sun-filled with natural light and wood. Beautiful. I actually had a friend stay at the exact same apartment during her trip to LA a couple years back, and I saw her little profile picture next to her testimony under the Airbnb reviews when I was checking the listing out online, pre-trip. It was something along the lines of Love love love love love this place, and I screenshotted it and texted her, normally a totally deadpan person, you love love love loved this place?

Shuddap, she said, but yes, ok, it was great.

Anyway, I was suitably hyped up before actually landing in LA, and the place did not disappoint. Huge, by any standards, and gorgeous. So comfortable, too. You went to America and stayed in Korean Town? my boyfriend asked, but then I sent him a picture, and he said, oh, ok, fine, I get it. So yes, another case of when pictures speak for themselves.

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The iconic LA view from our balcony. At certain angles, when the sun hits just right, you can see the hollywood sign!

It never ceases to amaze me, how people open up these absolutely gorgeous homes to strangers to come live in. If I owned a place like this, I would want it all to myself, all the time. I’d never leave! But again, another part of me is grateful that people do, because it’s been such a source of gorgeous memories for me over the past couple of years, and also an avenue to friendship. Just last month, my London Airbnb host Hayley came to visit me in Singapore – we went for fish head steamboat and she swore it was very, very good. And then we went bar hopping. So I guess some things dont change, country to country.

While she was here in Singapore, I asked how her London listing was doing. It seems a bunch of you had gone to stay with her after my post on her listing, which was both really nice for me and a mighty surprise for her – she was initially under the impression that Singapore was one big family, and everyone who went were friends or friends of friends of mine. Which I guess is true, in a way. But while she was traipsing around Asia, she put her Airbnb listing on hold – another thing I never realised you could do, take it offline for awhile if you need a break and want to go travel. Which gave me a bit of a nice insight into hosting habits and lives. If ever, one day, I should find it in me to lease out my home and life as well 🙂

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the absolutely gorgeous black and white kitchen in our LA listing

Which was kind of my segue into saying that this LA listing, gorgeous as is, seems to be doing a bit of the same. I’d like to imagine that the host is off relaxing and taking a well earned break up in Palm Springs, or something, while her listing is offline. And so if you want to stay with her in the summer when she returns, you can either bookmark this blogpost, or check her out when she’s back, at this link.

Safe travels, and happy dreams, you guys. x

x
jem

#2071 | The Low Down: Circles Life, Singapore’s Unicorn Telco

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Okay guys so I’ve had a lot of people ask me about Circles over the last year, mostly because whenever I share a screenshot and they see that Circles telco sign at the top left hand side people get a shock and think it’s amazing because I’m one of the few who got on Circles really early on.

And now with that new 20GB plan launch, everyone is going nuts over Circles and i have gotten a TON of people suddenly messaging me on twitter and IG and wherever else, and it’s just like the taobao frenzy again. So I’ve decided to just write one detailed post on my experience with Circles, and everyone can please just REFER HERE when they want to send me a message about it instead!

DISCLAIMER

This is not a sponsored post.
Yknw, just putting it on the table so you dont ask me later.

BACKGROUND

I’ve been on Circles since May last year, which makes this my 11th month with Circles. That’s nearly a year! So I think that gives me a pretty good range of experience from which to speak of, especially since I joined Circles almost immediately after they launched, meaning I’m probably one of the oldest Singapore users.

How I got to know of Circles was, my kind of not-by-blood older sister Christel introduced me years back to her girlfriend Carrie, and last year Carrie made a job switch to Circles and was looking for people to be beta testers. Beta testers are people who try out new or upcoming products (can be skincare, apps, software, etc etc) and give the company feedback about their user experience. I was not engaged to advertise for Circles. I didn’t even tell anyone I was using it except my close friends around me who asked why I was suddenly using two phones. I was also not paid for this. This was done purely out of my own interest, because I’m a geek who likes new techy things (though I’m not always good at it), and because Carrie asked me.

Because I used two phones, for my Singtel number and my Circles number, I could also compare the difference in speed between the two, which I thought informed my experience with Circles better as well. At that time, I didn’t know yet if I would continue paying to use Circles after my beta testing period was up (3 months), and so I didn’t opt to port my Singtel number over in case I didn’t like it. In theory, the plan (data-centric, app-based, cheap) made a lot of sense to me, but who’s to say that it’d be the same in practice and execution right? So I just kept the two phones separate, and used the Circles one for work, and Singtel one for personal use since thats the number all my friends have.

CIRCLES: THE PLAN

I’m on the basic plan, which is $28/month for 3GB and 100 mins talk time. This comes with free “plus” features, like caller ID, unlimited whatsapp that doesn’t eat into your data allowance, 4g service over 3g, unlimited customisation of your plan, so you can choose to buy more data this month, then change back to only 3gb on less busy months, etc etc.


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this is my app’s homepage with my data tracking info

Because I signed up early, within the first two months of Circles launching, I had an extra 2GB/month early bird promo data allowance that stays on my line forever, bringing it up to 5gb.

Then I took part in one of their IG competitions, which is this hashtag competition called #neverrunoutofdata, which gave everyone who took part 1GB/month extra too. So 6GB/month.

Then when I hit my 6 month anniversary with Circles, they gave me a 500MB/month “loyalty” data bonus. So now 6.5GB/month.

Then my sister and one of my managers switched to Circles a few months after they saw me using it so happily, giving me 200MB/month referral bonus each. This brings us to 6.9GB/month. PS. IF U SIGN UP FOR CIRCLES PLS USE CODE “JEMMA” SO I GET 200MB THANK U THANK U. U ALSO GET $20 OFF YOUR REGISTRATION FEE IF IM NOT WRONG!
Finally, for the new year, Circles gave everyone a happy new year bonus of 1GB/month through till June 2017. Meaning now I have 7.9GB/month data allowance, but when July hits, I’ll go back down to 6.9GB.

And yes, now they have a $20 for 20GB data add on option, but I dont think its necessary just yet because I feel like I do ok with my current data allowance, in addition to my singtel line which I still keep because I dont want to give up that number.

Essentially, what Circles did was to keep randomly giving me data for “good” behaviour, like staying on their network, referring friends to them, using their hashtag, etc etc. I guess this is also a safeguard on their end, because they’re a no contract network meaning you can technically terminate anytime. But once you terminate, if you sign up again, youre back to your base data plan without all the add-ons that you’ve earned.

CIRCLES: DATA SPEED

But this is the key question, really. Everyone keeps asking me: but what is Circles’s data speed and reception / network / cellular service really like?

Circles is tied to M1’s network. So if you’re on M1 and you switch to Circles, you wont see a difference.
But, Circles is definitely slower than Singtel.
And I dunno about Starhub, cos I’m not on Starhub.

How do I know this? When I get a notification on my social media accounts, my Singtel phone gets the notification first, then after a few beats, my Circles phone. Easy.

Is it a huge difference? No. But it’s a difference lor.

But then the next two questions that follow are:

1. Can you feel the difference if you only use one phone?
I can tell mainly because I use two phones. But if I only have one, then I wouldn’t know that my phone is marginally slower, right?
and 2. Is the slight drop in speed worth it for the massive drop in price?

Probably.

Over my past year of using the network, I’ve also noticed that the network has improved significantly. Because I was a beta tester during my first three months, I was looking out for things that weren’t working well so I could feedback to them. Things like data calls being dropped at certain locations, reception being spotty at some areas, etc etc.. and I sent everything to them as and when. But over the last six months, the number of times I’ve thought “hey, I need to text Carrie about a problem” has happened only twice, both times because there was an error they were sorting out, which caused the network’s data service to be down for an hour or so.

Which makes me think that they’ll continue to improve, or at least try to. After all, past experience has shown that they did. So I’m hopeful that in six months, the number of things I’d think about sending in feedback for would run down to zero!

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PROS VS CONS

Ok, so moving on. Here are some of the things that I like about Circles:

– Fully controlled on the app. I do everything via the Circles Care app on my phone, like buy extra data when I need it, or check on my bill. No need to use website, I dont think I’ve ever logged on to their actual desktop website before actually.
– THE BILLING CYCLE IS JUST THE FIRST OF EVERY MONTH. If you sign up in the middle of the month, they just pro rate you until the start of the new month. This is so much better, seriously, cos it’s just so much more convenient to remember that in the new month you have new data!
– Bills are directly deducted from your credit card/ debit card. This is, again, great, cos i hate logging into the Singtel website to pay my bills. I always end up forgetting or putting it off, then paying late, and getting slapped with a fine.
– Cheap for lots of data.

Things I dont like about Circles:

– Can’t buy a cheaper phone when you sign up for a Circles plan. You can pay for a phone by installment, but its full price lah. It still works out cheaper in the long run than if you get a cheap phone and some expensive-ass plan, but I suppose the inertia of spending a thousand bucks for a non-contract phone is really high.
– Last time no roaming at all. But ok, this is another example of how i could see it really improved throughout my experience with it. As recently as last June, there were no roaming options for Circles at all. But now they have so many! Havent tried them yet, but i mean, it’s there.
– No non-mobile benefits. I have 30% off for all my family’s Singtel bills (including our MIO TV!) because of some family bundle. And I think Starhub does something like this too. But Circles doesn’t have it.. yet. And I dont know if they will also, because I suspect they’re (rightfully) focusing on getting mobile right before moving on to other things. But come to think of it, my plan is still cheaper than the post 30% discounted singtel bill.

But now writing it down, I think its pretty hard to find something I dont like about circles. Even the above is nitpicking already! Actually I’m quite happy with my Circles line one. Haha!

CONCLUSION

So, I feel like I’ve covered most of the things that people often ask me and that I wanted to say. Is there anything else? Well, I’m sure if there is, you’ll email me. But for now, this is just my own experience from being on the network for close to a year. Overall I’m pretty happy with it, and most of my friends who’ve signed up whether through my recommendation or not seem pretty damned pleased with it too! So I’d say, definitely think about it if youre always busting your data allowance, and if you cant even remember the last time your phone bill cost less than thirty bucks. Ahmaaaazing.

And PLEASE HOR. After that donkey ass long post, if you decide to sign up for circles, please use my promo code JEMMA to get $20 off your registration fee because then i can get 200mb data too! Don’t cb cos I already spend a lot of time writing this ok so dont just sign up and forget to use it. USE IT! JEMMA. J E M M A. My life dream is to get 20GB from referrals, so i dont have to buy then $20 20GB plan. Haha!

Ok, that’s it from me. It’s like 3am now. This took longer than expected. So I’m going to sleep, and you guys, dont forget: JEMMA. PROMO CODE JEMMA.

Night, guys x

x
Jem