Saturday, December 30, 2006

Playing God

Saddam is dead
So was Anthony Ler
Who's next?
Took? Huang Na's murderer?

There can be no denial
The atrocities of their crimes
But putting them to death
Would not bring back the dead

Who are we, mere mortals
To play God?
By sentencing them to die
Are we not murderers, too, in God's very eyes?

No, we don't condone
Their hideous, gruesome crimes
But surely God's wrath they'd face
During Judgement Day

Category: Musings

Friday, December 29, 2006

What's an Ass??





What's an Ass?
Can someone tell for sure?
I used that on a woman
And her man threatened to sue

A slip of tongue
This I'd swear
Uttered under provocation
From the woman I called an Ass

She demanded an apology
And I duly said, "Sorry"
But she pushed the envelope
"For what?" the vixen wanted to know

"Sorry," I said with deliberation
"For calling you an Ass," I obliged with much regret glee
"What?" she could hardly believe her ears
And I echoed again, what she wanted to hear

The husband turned to me
Accusing me of being sarcastic
This, I'd agreed
That was because I was angry

Angry at the woman
And mostly, angry at me
How did this scene blow up?
It's so unlike me

I turned
And slowly skated away
There's just no end to this ugly play
Cooler heads should have prevailed


Category: Humoresque

Monday, December 25, 2006

An unexpected christmas present

I'm not one who gambles. I'm all clueless when it comes to playing cards, or even mah jong. And the recent debate on the casino bores me. To me, it has all the excitement of a morgue.

But there are people who are just lucky when it comes to gambling. My aunt is one such lucky lady. But alas, she also owes people, some of them loan sharks, a lot of money. Whatever she won, she used it to clear her mounting debt. It's a vicious cycle. What's the joy of winning then?

My colleague MJM is another. He's always wining 4D, but unlike my aunt, MJM is rich and not in debt (as far as I know). Though short and round in stature, MJM has a towkay look - you know, the kinda of look that tells you he would rather pay his purchases with cold hard cash rather than using a credit card.

Okay, maybe the statement in para 1 is not entirely true. If gaming (a term used by the gahmen in their psychological game) is considered gambling, than maybe I have a vice to confess - 4D. But then again, I'm a small-time player. Honestly, my luck has never been good when it comes to lottery. I've never won TOTO or the Big Sweep. As for 4D, I hardly struck, and if I did, it's mostly consolation prizes ranging from $10-$20 because I normally placed a stake of only $2 on iBet. Many many moons ago, when I first joined the work force, I did strike $500, and subsequently, $75 dollars. But Lady Luck simply refused to smile after that. I continued placing bets for a year or two, and when it yielded nothing more than false hopes, I simply stopped playing altogether. I was resigned to the fate of having to work my butt off in the office to earn my "wealth". Such is my fate, like Boxer in Animal Form, the horse who was ever loyal and worked till he was sent to the abattoir by the conceited piggies. Hard life.

But since I took delivery of my car in February, I have started buying my car number. Usually, I'd place a bet of a couple of dollars on iBet, and another couple of dollars on the actual number. Lady Luck hasn't been too unkind. I've struck a couple of times, winning from $10-$20, enough to buy colleagues a cuppa. I told myself it was just for the fun of it. My sentiment in buying 4D has always been this - 有买有希望,没买没希望. Of course, one has to be very careful not to get carried away, and end up splurging all their money on 4D/TOTO or getting into debt or borrowing money from loan sharks, like my aunt did.

Yesterday, being Christmas Eve, I was at my mum house celebrating Christmas with my siblings. We had pot luck, and the spread on the table was simple but delicious. I bought the famous fish ball from Tiong Bahru and fried bee hoon. My siblings bought chicken, both the fried and the BBQ kind, pizzas, hor fan, among others. We had none of the usual Christmas stuff like Turkey or log cake because none of us really fancy them. It was a joyous occasion, everyone was in a festive and happy mood, especially the kids who juz couldn't wait to open their presents, all placed under a beautiful Christmas tree put up by my brother.

Then, while digging into a piece of fried chicken, my mum asked if I had bought 4D. My aunt has called to say that my car number came out 3rd prize in yesterday 4D draw. Of course I did, I told my mum. I got a windfall of about $1500. Not much really but hey, it's not very often that I strike, okay? So I told my family that everything is on the house!

It's an unexpected Christmas present!

Category: Musings

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Mr Fix-it

There are guys who are juz good with their hands, and there are guys who are brilliant with their hands. I belong to the former. I give good massages (juz ask the Slim Lady), and whip out a good meal whenever the mood calls for it. In school, I was good at art and craft. Many of my drawings were showcased on the classroom board for all to admire. No, I'm not blowing my trumpet.

How could I be? When there are brilliant guys with brilliant hands who never fail to show off what brilliant things they could do. I call them Mr Fix-it. And Victor is one of them.

See? I had been suffering from internet-withdrawal syndrome for the past few days. While trying to set up a wireless network at home with a router, I accidentally broke the AC adapter of my cable modem, rendering the modem useless, and the family without internet access. I was most frustrated.

I thought replacing the adapter was as simple as shopping for one at Challenger or any of the IT or electrical shops. How wrong was I. A sales assistant who said he studied electrical engineering, told me that cable modems are delicate equipment that “toast” easily if a wrong adapter is used. Another one told me that he had a customer who not only toasted his modem, but along with it went his router and his PC. Victor was of the opinion that the salesmen were juz trying to scare me. But why should they? You would think that they would want to rip me off using scare tactics to get me to buy their products, right? The other alternative is to get a replacement from Starhub which would set me back by $42. A used one I spotted at yahoo auction went for $25.

Then Victor came to the rescue. He painstaking soldered back the adapter for me. Never mind if it's safe to use (no PUB approval sale leh), but see how neat his handiwork is?

I remembered the time when both my WC at home were leaking, jacking up my water bill to a ridiculously high figure. Victor too came to my rescue. No, he didn't fix them for me; but he recommended a really good and honest plumber to do the job. In the office, Mr Fix-it is also extremely adept at "deciphering" the number lock of the office key-press whenever someone accidentally scrambles the original number lock.

Everybody loves a Mr Fix-it when they see one. Mr Fix-it would fix any crook and cranny for you, anywhere, anytime. As a man, Victor put me to shame. But it's a shame I’m happy to put up with. I'm still waiting for him to come to my house to fix my door chime, and the power point from which I pulled the problematic adapter.

LOL

Victor - I'm sure the repaired adapter would work as good as new. But I thought it's time I replace the 3-year-old cable modem with a new one. Juz to let you know that I really appreciate your help in fixing the adapter, never mind that you did it during office hour. Hahaha.

Category: Musings

Friday, December 15, 2006

What does your zodiac sign have anything to do with the way you drive your car?


I'd be damned.

If you found yourself involved in one fender-bender too many, or if you simply couldn't resist "kissing" the car in front of you, check your zodiac sign. According to an article from Yahoo!News, your zodiac sign says a lot about your ability to avoid car crashes.

And, to add insult to injury, the article says that - yes, you guessed it - Libras like yours truly (born September 23-October 22), are the worst perpetrator of auto offences and accidents. This is followed by the Aquarians (January 20-February 18). Any wonder why I accidentally grazed the side of my car against the pillar while leaving the basement carpark at Tampines Mall? Or the smooch I gave the car (the idiotic driver should have moved on when the traffic was clear) in front of me while trying to filter out of the slip road at Simei Road?

Accidents happen. Hey, sometimes my car kisses; and other times, it get kissed - perhaps by libras, too?

This is so weird. Something tells me to treat that article with a pinch of salt.

And Victor, STOP sniggering. The best drivers are Leos (July 23-August 22), followed by Geminis (May 21-June 20). You, too, are off the mark.

Category: Musings

Friday, December 08, 2006

Postcard from Down Under


On a clear day in Gold Coast Australia, you can see forever .....

Wish you were here ......

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Gone flying ......



Seeya real soon.....

Monday, December 04, 2006

Attachment & Expectation


It's been awhile
I feel the vibes
of hurt and resentment

Attachment and Expectation
The former, it creeps but insidiously
The latter, it comes unspoken

Easy
But the lines of friendship have cracked
Oh, Attachment
See what you've done


Category: Musings

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Gimme my bowl of shark's fin soup!

Lovers of shark's fin soup, rejoice. There's no reason to be ashamed the next time you order a bowl of shark's fin soup in the restaurant, or digging into a bowl at a wedding dinner.

Why, it transpires that reports about sharks being in danger of becoming extinct are all crap. In truth, only three species of sharks, namely, the basking shark, the great white shark and the whale shark are considered endangered under the UN Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wildlife Fauna and Flora (CITES). The remaining 397 shark species are not classified at all and can be freely caught and traded (and be eaten without guilt, I must add). Saying that all sharks are endangered is as good (or as bad) as saying all primates (which incidentally comprises Victor, you, me, and Ah Meng at our zoo) are on the verge of extinction.

The animal activists sure know how to make man feel guilty in the consumption of our much-loved and traditional delicacy. They have done us a great disservice by repeatedly painting a distorted picture of how sharks are being killed and their fins extracted. Yes, there can be no denial of the cruelty some fishermen resort to in getting hold of the prized shark fins. These deplorable fishermen cut the fins off the shark and leave the poor creatures to die a slow death at the bottom of the ocean (called “live-finning”). The fact is, many in the fishing industry frowned on such practice, preferring to remove the fins from the sharks only after the death of the creatures. The barbaric practice of "live-finning" is outlawed in many countries.

The anti-fins group has misrepresented the facts by flooding the mass media with images of "live-finning". Their aim? They want shark's fin soup to be shunned. And to discard the tradition of consumption of the shark' fins, a Chinese culture, to the wind. Boy, have we been fooled for too long.

Having said this, I'd like to add that I'm not a great fan of shark's fin soup. But many of my friends and relatives are. My mum makes fabulous shark's fin soup. My son is a sucker for it. And so is the Slim Lady. In addition, a wedding dinner without the usual bowl of shark’s fin soup somehow just doesn't feel like a wedding dinner at all leh ....


Category: Musings

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The not so finer life ....

I just have to blog about this ....

What's the big idea with "The Finer Side", the local TV show featuring the rich and the famous living in the lap of luxury? Each time I caught a glimpse of it, my face turned green like the Incredible Hulk.

It's the kinda life only dreams are made of - the socialite who thinks nothing of blowing 45 grands on a diamond ring at a drop of a hat; the yuppie who flies to his "playground" in Batam in a private jet with a personal pilot, the towkay who collects vintage cars like toys; the tai-tai who indulges in a Spa that costs at least $1800.

What are mere mortals like us supposed to do? Drool while sitting on the old and squeaky armchair of ours in our crammed, modest HDB abode, tearing our hair out in envy?

Oh pleazzeeee.... "The Finer Side" is really not that "fine". It's utterly obscene and smacks of consumerism. Come on, how many people do know live it up the way these people do? Are they for real?

What? Me jealous? You must be kidding ... errmmm... okay, maybe a little. But I'm thankful for what I have. Really. Honestly. Well... ermmm..... maybe .....

But I don't mind a fatter bank account. I don't ask for more - just an additional zero or two to round off the figure ....

And a bigger house - no it doesn't have to be a landed property. A maisonette would be just fine. And I swear I would put up with dripping clothes from the neighbors upstairs.

And a larger car, just a little larger, in case the Slim Lady and I decide to "re-open" our "factory".

See what shows like these did to us mere mortals? Darn! The show should be banned! I must lodge a complaint to SBA!

Aaarrgghhh!

Category: Musings

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Neighbours from hell

Communal living is hard. You get on my nerves; and I get on yours. It's the same everywhere - at home with family members, in the office with colleagues, with your neighbors, and in the society at large. That saying about "familiarity breeds contempt" is ever so true. But we mere mortals are social animals - we're just not meant to live life like a hermit.

Happily, most of us manage to get along, even if hypocritically. Much as I hate to admit, hypocrisy does have its place in our society. It has to be, or I'll be waging personal war with many people I know - my siblings, my colleagues, and yes, my neighbors.

Lest you got the impression that I'm a difficult person to get along, let me assure you that I'm usually a nice and sweet guy. But when push turns to shove, I bite back. This is not to say I'm a violent person. How could I be when the person in question is but a woman in her 60s?

See, she's my neighbor living on the highest floor in my block. She has this very annoying and selfish habit of hanging out her clothes without first wringing them dry. The result? Each time she hangs out her clothes, all those living below her flat would not be able to do so in order not to get our clothes wet. And goodness knows from which garment the water is dripping! Shudder.

I've wanted to confront her on numerous occasions but was prevented from doing so by the Slim Lady who just hates confrontation. She also sees little point in talking to an insensitive person. The confrontation would not change anything, she'd said. I, on the other hand, believe that someone should at least talk to the neighbor to let her know how inconsiderate she was.

It happened one Saturday morning when the Slim Lady was at work, and when the sun was shining bright and warm. I had the laundry done and was glad to note that the neighbor upstairs wasn't drying her dripping clothes. So I happily hung out the clothes. About 10 minutes later, I glanced out of the window to see water dripping from the top. Needless to say, it wasn't raining.

Cursing under my breath, I told my kids that I was going upstairs to talk to the neighbor. I knocked on the door, and was greeted by a bespectacled frail-looking lady who looked to be in her 60s. Our conversation in Mandarin went something like this....

Aunty: Yes? (she peered behind her door)

Me: Aunty, your wet clothes are dripping all over to those of the neighbors below your flat.

Aunty: Can't be help. I got no strength to wring them. See, look at my hand..(showing me her palms, trying to gain my sympathy), I suffering from rheumatism... Just been to a doctor yesterday...

Me: You don't have any washing machine? (looking at her with a little doubt)

Aunty: No, don't have.

Me: Woa, you like that, then how neighbors gonna dry their clothes?

Aunty: Just now I hung up my clothes, there was no clothes below wat (trying to tell me that if she's hanging out her clothes, then I shouldn't have hang out mine)

Me: Sure or not? I checked before I put out my clothes wat. I put out mine before you.

Aunty: Now what time only? You dry your clothes so early meh??

Me: ????


Admittedly, I felt like a jerk for having gotten myself into this banter with the aunty. What is a man to do dealing with a "helpless" old woman? I don't want to be accused of "bullying" an old lady, you know. But I also wanted her to know it was extremely self-centered of her for not giving a thought to the neighbours downstairs. I know we've been told to respect the elderly, but come on lah.... some old people can be rather "obstinate", not to mention unreasonable.

The Slim Lady was right that the confrontation would not change anything. But I enjoyed the satisfaction of having to tell the selfish neighbor off to her face. Damn those self-centered people!

Some people are just born lucky, though - they do not have such problem because they live in landed property. Sniff.

Category: Musings

Thursday, November 23, 2006

The mindset of a Civil Servant

Reinvent. Restructure. Revamp. Remake.

These are words often uttered in the Civil Service. So much so that they have become cliche and make some people cringe.

I see where these people are coming from. For the longest time, the impression people have of a Civil Servant is –

  • He's kiasi,
  • He's kiasu,
  • And very kimsiap
  • He's such a nerd!
  • He also “jia leow bee” one (loosely translated in Hokkien, it means he's useless, despite having eaten lots of rice).
Well, nothing is further from the truth.

The Civil Service has transformed, both in its workforce and the way the organization is being run. We are more “happening” then you think. The bosses are kind and compassionate (boss, you reading this?), the workers, efficient, hip, cool and adventurous, what with the 40 and 50-year-olds acting and behaving like they are forever young and going roller-blading and all… Don't take my word for it. Just look at me. Or Victor. Oh, and I almost forgot to mention - humility is certainly not one of our virtues. LOL.

But of course, there are always the occasional "black sheep" - people who persist in projecting an image of a civil servant that is out-dated, untrue and inaccurate. I met one of these today. And she almost spoilt my day.

Let's call her "Irene", not to be confused with Serene, whose name suggests that she should be seen more and heard less. LOL. Irene wrote me an email today, telling me that I’ve been successful in my application for a course - Emotional Intelligence (EQ) - scheduled for early December. That's also the time when I’d be going for a trip overseas with my family. I promptly wrote Irene to ask if it was possible for a change of dates. Instead, she replied curtly with these words, "Please get a replacement." Feeling a little perplexed, I reached for the phone and called her. The conversation went something like this:
Me : Irene please

Irene: Ya

Me : Hi Irene, this is Chris... I got your email asking me to get replacement for a course. You mean I have to get someone to replace me?

Irene: Yalah... if not, we paid the course for nothing you know? $400 per person, you know?

Me : Oh, but why did you schedule me on these dates without first consulting me?

Irene: Hello, I sent you an email long ago to inform you about the date you know? (beginning to sound a little agitated)

Me : Ok, ok, calm down, ... Now you see why I need this EQ course? (actually I felt like telling her she needs the course more than me)

Irene: You said it yourself ah (I could almost hear her glee at the other end of the line)

Me : But I really don't recall seeing that email leh (searching for the evidence of that email in my inbox, as I spoke). Can you send me that email again?

Irene: I don't know whether if I still got that email. I juz came back from a long leave you know... so much things to do...

Me thinking: (My fault lah)
Me: So I die die also must find a replacement is it? Is it possible to change the date?

Irene: I dunno if there're other alternative dates because the trainer is from overseas one. (pause). I'll check and get back to you.

Not say I wanna say one. How could someone from HR be so "unprofessional" in the way she handles her "customers"?? These are the kind of officers who's giving the CS a bad name...

Well, what can I say? Other than that it takes all kinds to form an organization, be it in a private or public company.

Another one of my pet peeves is the amount of wastage I see in the office. A recent case in point .... Two days ago, we guys in the office stepped into the Gents and were greeted by a partition that has been erected between the washing basins and the toilet cubicles. We had no idea why the need for the partition. There was nothing in our email to warn us about this “construction”. The partition made the already small toilet even smaller and quite crammed. We simply assumed that perhaps some of the girls, whose toilet is just adjacent to the Gents, probably made a complaint to the management for having accidentally caught sight of something they weren’t supposed to see. Anyway, Victor commented that the girls aren’t supposed to peep into Gent’s door wat. So if they want to peep, even if it's accidental, it's really not the fault of us guys, right? Victor stopped short of saying he's a flasher.... I dunno... ROTFL.

Anyway, to our surprise, yesterday evening, some guys came to dismantle the partition and carted it away. When I ran into the MO (maintenance officer) in the toilet today, I couldn’t resist asking him about the partition. The chap told me that the partition was put up so that in future, in the event of a SARS or Bird Flu outbreak, the main door of the gents could be left perpetually open. This way, there’s no worry of catching germs from wet door handles. Okay, then why tore it down? Because people, the chap added, had been complaining that the toilet is too crammed!

Sigh. I know our gahmen allow U-Turns these days. But what poor planning! And a total waste of tax payers’ money! OUR money! Tsk..tsk... tks.... Why not saved the money and give us 3 months bonus instead of 2.7?

Oh, I forgot to add... we civil servants are also very greedy one. LOL.

Category: Musings

Monday, November 20, 2006

Let's talk about race

Once upon a time, in a faraway land in Xiamen (厦门), there lived a great man called Sim (沈). Like many others during his time, Sim traveled to a little island known as Temasek, in search of a better life for him and his family.

It was in Temasek that my grandfather was born. He subsequently married a 1st-generation Singaporean woman known as Pek (白) whose forefathers, too hailed from Xiamen. Pek's family, comprising her parents and siblings subsequently moved to Trengganu because of some family business.

But Pek, my grandmother stayed put with my grandfather in Singapore. And so it was in Singapore, that my grandparents' family tree slowly grew and expanded, while at the other end of the region in Trengganu was the family of my grandmother's. The former became Singapore citizens. And the latter, Malaysians.

Which one of us is better off?

I can't help but shudder at what's happening in Malaysia. During the recent UMNO General Assembly, many political leaders reportedly took to the rostrum rhetoric that touched on race and religion that left many people feeling extremely uneasy. Much of these have to do with protecting the rights and privileges of the Malays and respecting Islam as the country's official religion. Indeed, for the 1st time in decades, there was talk about "Malay Surpremacy". Some of the rhetoric made by UMNO leaders includes:


  • "Umno is willing to risk lives and bathe in blood to defend the race and religion. Don't play with fire. If they messed with our rights, we will mess with theirs."

  • "The non-Malays should be grateful that their forefathers were given Malaysian citizenship. If they question our rights, then we should question theirs...."

  • "The non-Malays have no right to question the five fundamental matters linked to the Malays - the King, religion, culture, language and the country. No one should question these and we have set this out in our Constitution."

  • "The right of the Malays in the public sector and in getting permits must be maintained to fulfil the "social contract" between the communities."

  • Trade Minister Rafidah Aziz told delegates that Malaysia would not ink trade pacts with any country if it involved sacrificing the interest of the majority Malays.

Victor would no doubt warn that I'm treading on dangerous ground. And Chun See might say I'm over-generalising things. But come, let's be open about it. The issue of race is like a Gordian Knot. It will always be there, and would never go away. But surely, radical statements like those above really have no place in our society. Instead of building bridges among the races, they hit at the very core of our social fabrics. They are really more harm than doing harmony.

One of my distant cousins in Malaysia once quipped, "Why did our forefathers decide to uproot to Malaysia? Why couldn't they have stopped and stayed put in Singapore?" This sure speaks volume on the kind of sentiments my cousin felt in being Malaysian. Sure, they live in big houses and almost all my cousins possess a car each, and best still, there's no such thing as COE, and they could drive the car for life. But what quality of life if you're forever being treated as 2nd class citizens in your country? Or that being the top student does not necessary translate into securing a place in the local university?

A "democratic" country based on equality? You decide.

Category: Musings

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Do you think I'm sexy?

You have been wearing that nightgown for six years. One evening, your spouse suddenly took notice and asked, "Is the nightgown new?"

Would you divorce him because of that? Well, apparently, a Katherine Chua did to a man she had been married to for seven years. The nightgown incident was the final straw that broke the camel's back.

There are always two sides to a coin when it comes to a divorce. But one would think that a common ground for a divorce would be a straying husband or a cheating wife. But over a nightgown? I find this absolutely frivolous. Come one, which man has never been guilty of failing to notice the new hairdo of the wife? The new dress that she wore? Her birthday? Their wedding anniversary?

With reason as flippant as a nightgown, any wonder then that the divorce rate in Singapore has tripled from 2344 in 1985 to 6099 in 2005. The rate was especially high for young couples aged between 20 to 24. I'm no at all surprised, given that people these days are better educated, and have higher expectation of what they want in life. If the love fits wear it baby; and if it doesn't, just pass it on, so the song goes...

In the days of yore, when it was the norm for couples to live with their in-laws, it was not uncommon to see the in-laws trying to make peace for the quibbling husband and wife who, more often than not because of their intervention, kissed and made up. Those were the days when divorce was almost unheard of. As the Chinese saying goes, "家有一老,如有一宝。" Loosely translated, it means that oldies like our grandparents are really treasues to behold, for obviously they have eaten more salt then us younger people, and thus, they are in a good position to dish out good and sensible advice to troubled couples. But our social norm has changed. Many young couples would rather set up their own homes and stay away from their parents or in laws. How are the latter to help?

But it’s good to read that more young people who were divorced are remarrying. I always believe that everyone deserves a second shot at happiness …….

Category: Musings

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Waking up with raunchy Madonna

These days, more often than not, I wake up with Madonna. Madonna's music, to be precise.

I've just got myself the iHome iH5R Docking Stereo Clock Radio that allows me to hook up my iPod. The gadget allows the selection of three different alarm sources - the buzzer, radio, or the iPod.

Needless to say, iPod is the choice. In fact, by setting the alarm to music, waking up at 6 am in the morning no longer needs to be a drag. See, I could choose any songs by any famous gals as wake-up tone. So, today's raunchy Madonna belting out "Respect Yourself", tomorrow's bitchy Paris Hilton cooing "Turn it up", and the next, dirty Christina Aguilero singing "Dirrty".

In one of my earlier posts, I've written about my contempt for Apple's iPod for its shoddy workmanship. It's not always like that. I had always wanted to get an iPod, one that's at least 30G to hold my collection of CD. I was pleased as punch when I finally got one a couple of years ago. But my affection for my iPod soon turned to frustration when it insisted in dying on me several times for no apparent reasons. Personally, the iPod is nothing more than a piece of over-priced junk that's made in China. Apparently, the selling points at Apple's is not on quality but on Life-style. In terms of durability, I don't think it's any where near the relatively cheaper MP3 players by Creative. But just one look at the sleek and elegant series of iPod by Apple is enough to make you fall head over heels in love with them!

But let's come back to the iH5R (Damn! I juz learned that it was also MIC!). Doesn't it look cool or what? I know this purchase sounds very much like one of my many other impulsive buys. But look at it this way... it's my way of salvaging my much neglected iPod which has been left in the shelf collecting dust for ages.... Besides, I get to wake up with Madonna and Paris Hilton :P

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

My first "baby steps"


I took my first "baby steps" today.

It is something that I've wanted to do for a long time. In fact, it's one of my 2006 New Year resolutions. I told myself nothing would stop me from doing it. Not even a spoil sport like Victor, who juz had to go tear his ligament so pre-maturely, foolishly and carelessly.

I'm talking about in-line skating, of course. Finally, I took flight today with my newly bought rollerblades which have been left in my car boot collecting dust for months due, in part, to my kid's exam, the haze (which, happily has subsided somewhat), and the occasional rain.

We had planned this for months. Moogee, my fellow colleague and my new Shi Fu (after we suffered a casualty in Victor) brought me to East Coast Park after work today to commence my lessons on rollerblading. Victor was there too, but he didn't rollerblade due to his injury. He cycled, and cheered me on .... which embarrassed me somewhat.

Anyway, I was dumped by Moogee and Victor at the In-line skating ring. To be fair, they did so after teaching and demonstrating to me how one should blade. They had watched over me like an eagle over its eaglet for all of 5 minutes and then they disappeared, one rollerblading and the other cycling to the far end of East Coast. True friends that they are!

Left with my own device, I rollerbladed, tumbled a few times, picked myself up and rollerbladed again. Thank goodness I had my safety guards on. To be very honest, I was kinda shy at first, not because I'm a first timer, but more because of my age. Looking around me in the ring which was not very crowded, I saw more youngersters than uncles (or aunties) like me. You could tell most of them were also beginners by the awkward way they rollerbladed.

As I rollerbladed along, I become more confident. This is especially so when a woman with a young toddler gave me a "thumb-up" sign. I guess I probably looked like an Ah Chek to her and she was probably trying to be encouraging. But it's really fine with me. Like birds of the same feathers, we were there to learn a new skill. And, more importantly, to stay healthy and keep fit. And how I sweat! It's true rollerblading makes me perspire like pig!

And you could even make "friends" while rollerblading. I had a minor collision with a woman (I swear it's accidental; but Victor seems to think otherwise), and struck up a conversation with her. She told me she's been rollerblading for a month and quipped that I was doing very well for a first-timer. Indeed, Victor and Moogee both expressed the same sentiment. But I really wouldn't say rollerblading is a piece of cake - maybe half? Well, I glided along, at times wobbly (I think) but I have yet to learn how to brake, do fanciful moves like the twirl, glide on lone leg and somersault!!!

Learning rollerblading is really like learning how to drive a car. Just as we have to start learning driving at the circuit, we first have to learn to rollerblade at the in-line skating ring. And as I gradually gain confidence, (I told the chaps to give me at least 5 – 8 lessons), I'd probably venture out on the track.

Incidentally, I was on a "Stress Management" course these past two days. When the trainer asked me what I do to de-stress, I told him I blog because it's really quite therapeutic and added that I'm gonna pick up rollerblading as a form of exercise to de-stress. He gave me a poster which I found extremely relevant to my current state of mind. It has these words on it:

We don't stop playing because we grow old
We grow old because we stop playing

How apt.

Category: Leisure

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Boardroom Vs Bedroom


Time has changed. The world has changed. But it seems like when it comes to good ole romance, the requirement of men in their search for a life partner remains the same as it was since time memorial.

How else do you explain the plight of a Ms Ivy Lee as reported in the Sunday Times? Attractive, pretty, well-groomed and rich - she's, after all, one of Singapore's top property agents - her only fault lies in her age. She's 42.

Or so we were led to believe that age was her stumbling block in finding a life partner. Dating agencies she called up told her she's just "too old" to ever become any man's OOD (Object of Desire). These agencies write off women like Ivy Lee as being "over the hill" and consider chances of them getting hitched remote. Indeed, a poll conducted on 300 men and women last year has shown that only 34 per cent of men would consider going out with someone older them.

Personally, I don't think age is the main consideration here. Well, it seems that Ms Lee wasn't really "left on the shelf" material. It transpired that she was a divorcee with two teenage sons. I'm sure most men, when it comes to true love, would have no qualm about marrying a divorcee. But if you coupled that with a high flier like Ms Lee, and if she has a high education, then some men would think twice. There would be the question of "Intellectual Compatibility". Let me explain.

My wife is a nurse; and I'm just a salaried civil serpent. Suppose my wife is a doctor and she likes to host parties and dinners for her friends and colleagues - all doctors in the medical profession. And when they meet, their chatters are all about medical stuff. How, as a man of her life, would I ever fit in?

Much as I hate to admit it, it's true that some of us men do have security issues when it comes to dating women who are brighter and better educated than us, and who earn more than us. Very often, the image of such a successful woman is one who is overbearing, obstinate and, dare I say, feministic. Nothing reassures the ego of a man more than a wife who is loving, caring and above all, submissive. Of course, being highly educated does not mean that a wife can’t be loving and caring. But this notion of submissiveness is so outdated and politically incorrect in this time and age, it sounds so strange in today's context. It's also quite impossible to find such women in modern day Singapore. How else do you explain the increasing number of Singaporean men getting foreign wives from Vietnam and Batam? Perhaps we men could do well to change our mindset. Forget about finding submissive wives - they are as extinct as the dinosaurs brought to life only in Jurassic Park. A union in marriage is based on love and mutual respect. Nobody submits to anybody.

On the other hand, women, if they truly know what men really want, should play "dumb" sometimes. Be all the high-flier-super-achiever-bitches (pardon the expression) in power-suit you want to be in the boardroom, but at home, in the bedroom, ensure that the one who's really wearing the pants is none other than the husbands.

Just hope the feminists are not up in arms .... I'm just stating what we men want, really.

Category: Musings

Monday, October 30, 2006

A fairy tale that is not that far-stretched


So, you thought Pinocchio was just all fairy tale?

Well, think again. According to a book called "The Definitive Book of Body Language", liars have a tendency to touch their noses whenever they tell lies. Apparently, neurologists and psychiatrists who did an extensive analysis of Bill Clintons's testimony during his trial on his affair with Ms Monica Lewinsky discovered that when he was telling the truth, he hardly touched his noise. However, whenever he lied, he gave a split-second frown before he answered, and proceeded to touch his nose.

Evidently, liars do this because "chemical known as catecholamines are released" when they lie, "causing tissue inside the nose to swell". They called this the "Pinocchio Effect". The book added that the increased blood pressure inflates the nose and causes the nerve endings in the noise to tingle, resulting in a brisk rubbing action to the nose with the hand to satisfy the itch.

So, if you look yourself in the mirror, and somehow found your nose looking longer than usual, you know what you've been up to :P

Oh, there's something else that's even more intriguing then the revelation about our nose. According to the book, the nose is not the only body part that expands when one lies. Apparently, body-imaging cameras have revealed that a man's penis also swells with the blood when he tells a lie. Hmmmm.... no wonder some of us men are incorrigible liars... Heh.

Category: Musings

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Would you spend $20,000 to save your pet?

I'm not an animal lover - never have been. In fact, I'm at times fearful of dogs, and sometimes cats (man, it takes courage to say this). This fear probably stems from my experience while growing up in Club St. I was almost bitten by a stray dog once. I said almost because the dog had my ankle within the reach of its jaw, just that for some reason, it didn't snap! Maybe it was trying to scare me? Then there were those darned stray cats on the roof, making lots of din in the middle of the night, keeping me (and my family) awake with their fighting and love-making. Cats are proud creatures - you give them a hard look and they seem to stare back at you with a look of defiance that sometimes unnerves me. And to top it all, they sometimes urinated all over our house, on the rags and sometimes on our school bags. Their urine stinks for days!

Lest I appear to be callous in my above statement, let me put on record that though I don't fancy animals, I don't abuse them either. It just that, well, I keep my distance from them (and they better keep their distance from me).

When I commented to a colleague once about my dislike for animals, he quipped, with a hint of sarcasm, "Luckily, the animals don't need YOUR love."

Why, he's absolutely right. The animals don't need my loving. They get plenty of love from pet lovers with heart of gold who were reported to be willing to spend between $4000 - $8000 on their pets' medical bills. There was a gal who forked out $20,000 to have a stem cell transplant performed on her cat.

My first reaction to that was: "Wow, that's a lot of money to save a pet." But you know what they say about man's best friend? To many people, they are the 4-legged kind. So, I'm not entirely surprised at the attachment some people have of their pets. I guess what they say about a dog's life being better then that of a man's is true.... I mean I'm sure people have died because of their inability to afford medical care (well, maybe not here in Singagpore, but it happened). So, it does seem kinda odd to me when you read report like this.

So, to answer the above question: Yes if I'm very rich (and single, or married but childless), or even borderline rich so long as I have some savings left for a raining day; but No if I'm poor and trying to make ends meet and constantly worrying about when the food is gonna arrive on my dining table.

Category: Musings

Friday, October 27, 2006

A Wonder called Fish


No, it's not quite a Fish called Wanda. It's a Wonder called Fish.

This is probably old news. We've read much about the benefits of eating fish, for instance, it's good for the foetus, for our brains and at keeping heart diseases at bay and blada blada blada....

What I didn't know is that eating fish can actually make us mere mortal happy!

Well, for the uninitiated, the Omega 3 fatty acid found in oily fish such as mackerel, lake trout, sardines, tuna, and salmon has the attributes to make people less prone to depression. Indeed, scientists conducted a survey across the continents and concluded that the Japanese has the lowest rate of depression in the world. The reasons? They eat large amount of fish. On the other extreme, scientists are saying that people who are aggressive and unhappy probably have very little Omega 3 in the body system. The study implies that killers, murderers and psychopaths behave the way they do because of a lack of Omega 3 in their system!! Dig that. Yes, Omega 3 is believed to have the ability to make us less irritable, and is very likely to make us happy individuals.

We already know Omega 3 is good for the human brains, ie; it makes us clever. So, if you want your kids to be smart and ace the exam, make them eat fish! This is not a joke. It's been scientifically proven. Why? I see living examples of this everywhere. Not just on kids, on old men as well.

A case in point is Victor. Now I know why he's such a smarty, always so clever with his retorts. And we don't make him a consultant in the office for nothing, you know.

Yes, Victor is a fish lover. Man, you should have seen how he stripped a decent size fish to the bones during lunch time with a look in his face that reminds you of the Cheshire Cat in Alice in Wonderland - satisfied, happy and shiok! He probably has more Omega 3 in his brain than most of us. The fact that Victor is mild in temperament and is always cheerful is further proof that Omega 3 is good for the development of our brains.

Sad to say, I'm the exact opposite of Victor. I'm mostly a meat-eater (I tried being a flexitarian but it didn't really work out) - bakwa, kway chap, pig trotters - you name it, I'd eat it. I'm just not that fond of fish. Which calls into question my level of intelligence (or stupidity?), cheerfulness (or moodiness?). But hey, things are about to change. With all these evidence right in my face, the chief of it being Victor, I've decided to mend my way. Yes, I’ll opt for fish henceforth. So instead of the Big Mac, it's gonna be fillet; instead of beef steak, I'll have fish 'n' chips, instead of Bakwa, I'll have ... well.. BBQ cuttle fish? Why, I do realise eating fish could make a BIG difference whether I'd become a psychopath or a normal law-abidding citizen, and I rather be the latter. Heh.

Category: Musings

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Resolve that's as hazy as the region.....

The haze annoys me. It irritates my eyes, causing them to smart easily, and makes me and my family coop up at home most of the time, instead of enjoying the out-door. It is also making me spending more time then necessary in front of my computer, and making me blog more than I normally do. Victor is right on this score.

So, the Indonesian authorities are reported to be dragging its feet in ratifying the Asean anti-haze pact. Why am I not surprised? From Megawati to the current SBY, the Indonesian leaders have never really exhibited any sincere resolution to tackle the haze problems. What they did so far is to apply lip-service.

In refusing to ratify the pact, the Indonesians have talked about the need for a "balance of benefits". Did I hear wrongly? Are they saying that measures to bring the haze down would benefit only its neighbours? Are the Indonesians not suffering from the effects brought about by the Haze as well? How could the issue of the haze be linked to non-environmental issue such as the extradition treaty with Singapore? Personally, I find it incredulous that the Indonesians should think they are in a position to negotiate with our government.

Not too long ago, there were reports that the Indonesian government was toying with the idea to acquire nuclear energy to serve its population of about 222 millions. If they can't clean up their backyard and solve the haze problem now, what makes them think they could manage if ever there is a nuclear fall-out in their country? If this happens, the ramifications to the countries in the region would be far worse than what we are experiencing now.

Category: Policies

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Does being religious and compassionate go hand in hand?

An article in the ST today caught my attention. On page S13, the headline screams: Does God get in the way of social cohesion?

The article reports that Singaporeans today seem to be more religious. According to a survey done in 2000, 85.2% of Singaporeans said they have a religion. Granted, having a religion does not equate being religious. But is having a religion, or rather being religious equate to being compassionate? I would think the answer is an affirmative, but what I see happening in our society is at odds with the report.

Many mid-lifers or the elderly would agree that there has been a general degree of deterioration in the level of civil-mindedness in our society today. On the MRT or public buses, people, especially the youngsters no longer bother to give up their seats to the elderly or the needy anymore. At the shopping malls or even right at the flat you live in, nobody bothers to say “thank you” when you hold the door or the lift to you anymore. Indeed, our society has degenerated to one with a “me, myself and I ” culture. The human race today is sorely lacking in basic human courtesy. Where’s the compassion? How can one who is religious on the one hand is so devoid of compassion on the other? What has gone wrong?

Have the educators in our schools missed out on something fundamentally crucial in the social development of our kids? In the past, we used to have moral education or 好公民. I heard that these are no longer being taught in school. Of course, one would argue that one can’t depend on our educators to teach our kids everything. Parents must also play our role in molding our child into an up-right, sensitive and social being.

Or, at the risk of sounding judgmental, is it a result of a generation of kids being looked after by maids? If you have a maid who picked up after you or do practically everything for you, including buttering up a piece of bread for you since you were young, don’t you think, in all honestly, that such an up-bringing will have a bearing on how you would eventually turn out as an adult? In the past, having maids was almost unheard of, and is limited to the upper class strata of our society. Is it any wonder why that the past generations of Singaporeans seem to be more sensitive to the needs others?

Category: Musings

Glimpses and reflections of a President


I've read our former President's Wee Kim Wee's book Glimpses and Reflections not too long ago. A friend of mine once quipped that the role of or President is mainly ceremonious. They exist to “safe-guard” our national reserves, pardon the hard-core criminals in their appeal to escape the gallows, and yes, to soften the otherwise hard and cold image of the government.

Well, I don't absolutely agree with the above statement. But I've noticed, as had my friend, that incidentally, all our presidents, past and present, tend to be men of grace and poise, both in mettle and character. Of all the presidents that I've known, President Wee strikes me as being the most benevolent, with Mr One Teng Cheong a close second. They are quite unlike our Prime Ministers who are usually made of steelier stuff making hard decisions in the world stage.

In his book, President Wee reflects on the influences in his childhood that were to shape his life in later years. He shares many snippets of his childhood life - his family, his love for his mother, and how poverty put paid to his dream to further his studies. President Wee never had a university education. Indeed, he once quipped that his "university is society" (I call that "University of Hard Knocks"). From being a humble clerk to a diplomat and finally the head of state, President Wee demonstrates that there's no such thing as free lunches (Victor, you're absolutely right!) and hard-work is the key to successes in life. Not that President Wee coveted the presidency. In fact, he was thrust into the limelight not without resistance from himself. A simple man with simple taste in life, he declined, albeit unsuccessfully when he was appointed High Commissioner to Malaysia. He again declined when his name was mentioned in the government's search for a candidate for the Presidency. But that was not to be.

President Wee also gives his take on several issues that effect our society – filial piety, the danger of borrowing on credits, punctuality and service standards. On the world front, he writes about Malaysian relations, and could hardly contain his low regard for the UN. He also narrates how he cheated death twice - once when he was just a boy trying to reach for some fruits atop a tree when he fell into a well. He was a non-swimmer and thanked his lucky star that the water in the well was only ankle deep. The other time was when he was beaten to a pulp by a Japanese sentry for no apparent reason during the Japanese Occupation in Singapore.

It is clear in his book that President Wee was not a believer of the Christian faith, or any religion for that matter. Rather, he worshipped his ancestors and sought their help and guidance whenever he ran into problems in his life.

He is also not without a sense of humour. He describes his harrowing trip to a "quack" dentist (I reckon that's a dentist without proper qualification?) when he was a boy because his mother was too poor to afford a qualified dentist. The quack dentist had a hard time trying to extract the boy's decayed molar and resorted to breaking up the molar into piece to the boy's scream. President Wee wrote that he came out of the clinic "more dead then alive" and was "amazed that he “did not pass out or become the subject of a coroner’s inquiry". He also talked about his brush with astrology, about how he was told by a Mdm Kim (a friend of the Korean Ambassador to Malaysia) in Seoul that he would eventually be Head of State upon his retirement from the diplomatic services. When the prediction came true, President Wee was stunned but nevertheless advised against giving too much credence to this business of fortune-telling.

In a way, the "story-telling" manner in which President Wee wrote the book reminds me vaguely of Chun See's blog. The book does contain several chapters on nostalgia. But the humour, intentional or otherwise, in the book can certainly rival that of Victor's. But of course, President Wee NEVER wrote about the stuff that are not quite indecent, unlike Victor. Hehe....

Monday, October 16, 2006

Just how wet can a blanket get?

What a damper. A wet blanket. A spoil sport. All rolled into one.

The rollerblades have been bought. The Grand Master, who has offered me lessons FOC, has also spoken. Yes, we have agreed to have some rollerblading good time at East Coast Park, barring worsening of the haze condition, and immediately after my son finishes his exam. Friends who blade swear by it. They say it's much better then high-impact exercises like running which is detrimental to the knees and joint. And I'm not really fond of jogging. I was told I could have a good work-out with just the rollerblades. An hour is all it takes to make me sweat out like pigs, so they say. At long last, I've put thoughts into action for one of my 2006 resolutions - to learn to roller blade. I was most happy. And excited.

But Victor, the Grand Master, like the evil covetous step-sisters in Cinderella, just couldn't wait to try his hands feet on his new pair of rollerblades. Having learned how to roller-skate (note: it's SKATE and NOT blade) when he was many moons younger, Victor naturally thought that he would take to rollerblading like monkeys to trees ducks to water. So, off he went on a solo trip to the East Coast Park last Friday, to have some fun with his blades.

Today, he text-messaged me to tell say that he was on MC for a day or two. He had sprained his ankle while rollerblading last Friday, but woke up this morning and felt the pain. Poor Victor; I feel for him, cause I suffered a hair-line crack on my right foot years ago and was out of the office for two solid months. Let's just hope that Victor would not suffer the way I did, even if the 2-month MC sounds rather appealing....

But Victor seemed to be trying to tell me something in his next text, "Is your son wearing a size 8?" When I replied no, he texted that he would put it up in Yahoo auctions. Obviously, he was trying to get rid of his new pair of rollerblades. It's also quite obvious that he is no longer in the mood to blade or coach me. And to think that I was almost on the verge of kowtowing to him and calling him 师父。

Sigh.

Category: Musings

Sunday, October 15, 2006

My birthday "rewards"....

Enterprising merchants and establishments never miss the opportunities to make money out of us. On my birthday, Metro sent me discount vouchers, subtly disguised as "birthday cards", and cleverly designed with the hope of making me part with my hard-earned money.

Look at how pretty the card is. It tells me that "I don't need an excuse to shop (since) it's my birthday".



On close inspection, the card is really a sleeve in which several discount vouchers from various merchants were enclosed, all aimed to squeeze money out of me. One of the vouchers calls out:



This is what was written on the overleaf of the voucher.



What a minute.... SK-II? Isn't that the company whose products caused a health scare recently in the region for having potentially harmful chemical? Besides, why should a grown man like me be using facial products? Did Metro think that I'm a Metrosexual? A male super model? How presumptuous!

If this is not bad enough, the next voucher with its attention-grabbing shiny and luminous background tells me that "I got to look great on my birthday", (and implying that it's okay for me to look shabby for the other 364 days.)



On the overleaf is a sales promotion for, horror of horrors, a make-up session and a Personal Make-over session at Sisley Paris.



I was angry with the first voucher. But now, I was hopping mad! Did Metro think that I'm a transvestite? Or worse, a transsexual? I've nothing against men who dress as fairies, nor fellow human beings who have opted to go under the knife for some very personal reasons. But Metro has all my personal details and particulars, and has no reason to think I'm a female. Unless Metro presumes that I either have a girlfriend or a wife and that these cards are actually meant for them? In which case, Metro should have rephrased the wordings in those vouchers to reflect as such, rather than using statements which are all politically incorrect!

I don't like these cards one bit. They're presumptuous and downright "sexist" and probably are the product of "mass production". Whatever happened to "personalised service"? Metro should have something for the male species on their big days. Say, for example, a discount voucher to the gym? (not to say that the females don't use the gym, but the incidents of the males going to the gym is statistically higher). Or perhaps a discount voucher for lessons on rollerblading? That would be nice, and it would mean that I don't have to depend on Victor to coach me...... considering that the last time he rollerbladed skated was DECADES ago?? LOL.

Category: Musings

Friday, October 13, 2006

男人为什么须要女人

Why do we men need women?

  • A simpleton would say, "Women are sweet, pretty things we men should love and protect."

  • A poet would say, "Without women, my world is all grey."

  • A song-writer would say, "Without women, I wouldn't have composed all these nice songs."

  • A practical man (READ: A Male Chauvinist Pig) would say, "Without women, who's going to do my cooking and washing?"

  • A blogofriend of mine, a gal who'd sent me several "sexist" jokes making light of how stupid we men are, would have said, "Men are dumb. They need women to guide them in their lives."

I would say, all the above are TRUE (and no, I'm no chauvinist pig).

Funny how a colleague of mine used to quip that in a cold war between a man and a woman, it is usually the former who breaks the ice and starts the road to reconciliation. Her reason? We men need SEX. Aha.... that's more true than any of the above.

I'm sure Victor would be the first to agree.

Category: Musings

Sunday, October 08, 2006

The Tome


Thanks to Victor, and his "connection", I managed to get hold of a copy of the Singapore Encyclopedia at half the price sold in the market. But frankly, I've no idea why I bought it in the first place.

Why would I wanna blow more than $30 (discounted price) for a book about personalities and monuments I have never heard of in all my 42 years? Do I care enough to read about them?

Well, I suppose I would, if only I could find the time. But there's another reason why I bought the book, and it does not differ very much from the people who resorted to keeping a piece of the red brick of the National Library when it was torn down in the name of "advancement", ie to own a piece of Singapore history. Such sentimental fools that we are.

I haven't really got time to go through the encyclopedia but a cursory glance yielded some surprising finds.

For instance, I was pleasantly surprised to find the place where I grew up - Club Street - making it to the list. And the book offers reasons on how the name was derived, something that I've never known before.



The cinema where the Slim Lady and I went on our first movie date is also featured - The Orchard Cinema. That sure stirs up some sweet memories.....



My favourite local food, Chicken Rice, is in there, too.


So is my favourite local singer-composer, 梁文福.



Our fore-father, MM Lee is there.



And the one that really caught me off guard is the ubiquitous monkey (I searched in vain for the word Dragon). Yeah, the monkeys too made it to the book. I said ubiquitous because the monkeys have been making a great deal of news lately, especially in areas around Thomson. Besides, we seem to be on the topic of Monkeys quite often in the blogosphere of late. We see it here, in Chun See's blog and also in Victor (notice the absence of the apostrophe 'S'). They are always up to their mischief!



Of course, how could we miss out Victor's favourite pornstar - Annabel Chong in the book? (This joke is wearing thin, huh?) LOL



Category: Musings

Friday, October 06, 2006

Lesson never learned

The past four days, I had been at Park Mall, undergoing a course on a computer software run by a private firm. The premises where the course was conducted actually belongs to or is leased to NUS. They called it NUS Extension (whatever it means). Anyway, it occupies the whole of level 12 in the building.

We were into our 2nd day of the training when the trainer, a young Australian woman, found her notebook missing after her lunch break. According to her, she was away only for 15 minutes. And the lecture room, as usual, was not locked. It never has been.

The school staffs were duly informed, and when they tried to view the tape from the CCTV, they realised, to their horror, that the CCTV was not turned on.

Remember the case of a Singapore man who was killed when he fell into the MRT track from the platform? Some people said it was probably suicide. But his widow insisted that it was not, and sought to prove so with the CCTV, thinking that perhaps it would capture the last moment of her late husband. But alas, she couldn't believe her ears when she was told by the SMRT that the CCT was not in operation at that time.

Then there was the 4-D cashier killed and robbed at the Ang Mo Kio (or was it Yishun)outlet years ago? Again, the CCTV was not turned on, and the killer(s) has never been caught.

The trainer left for Australia today, and probably did so with a bitter taste in her mouth. It's really an unpleasent experience for her, and I certainly hope she did not leave Singapore with the notion that we Singaporeans are a dishonest lot. There was so much movement in the bulding. It is, after all, a school, catering to students from all over, notably from China. Anybody could have taken that notebook - the staff, any of the local students, as well as the foreign students, etc.

If anyone's to be blamed, then blame it on human complacency. Why must it always take something valuable, sometimes lives, to make us learn a valuable lesson? The trainer should have locked the room in the first place. And the staff at the school should have turned on the CCTV and leave it running 24/7. As it happened, both did not. The trainer made it a point to lock the lecture room the very next day. But what's the point? Robbers don't strike twice in the same place, or do they? Or is that complacency talking again? LOL.

Category: Musings

Friday, September 29, 2006

My 2nd Twenty-one

When I received my ElderShield letter from the CPF, it took me a while to realise how far I've aged come. That letter was a rude awakening. And when the message finally sank in that I've arrived at the "senior citizen" bracket, I've nothing but curse for the CPF. It's not a pleasant thought. That was two years ago.

There's just no running away from it - this thing called "age". We try to reclaim our youth - by spending our hard-earned money on plastic surgery to make us look good and beautiful like movies stars (I've always wanted to look like Tom Cruise, until he started jumping like a monkey in Oprah Winfrey's show); we dye what used to be our crowning glory black; we go for Botox injection to smoothen our wrinkled skins, but there's nothing we could do from the inside. We realise that something else is missing - stamina. A flight of stairs would leave us panting for breath. We no longer walk with a spring in our step; but found ourselves unable to keep up with the young people in front of us. In short, we become sluggish, and our movement just gets slower. And worse, some of us men found, much to our horror (and probably our wives' too) that we're no longer as firm and hard as we used to be. Now I know why they call it the "mid-life" crisis.

In ten days, I'll be 42, not exactly old or "senior citizen" material, I must add (CPF be damned). In fact, I've read somewhere that if you're between the age of 38-45, you're considered to be at your "prime". Women at this age exude womanly charm feeding the fantasy of most men. And the men would attract bees like nectars with their masculinity and manliness. I'm not sure if there's any truth in this. Whatever it is, save for the Slim Lady, I'm still waiting for the arrival of the bees. Sigh.

It's really not as depressing as I made it out to be. At least I had a free lunch today, courtesy of BAGUS. They are an incredible bunch of fellas, I must tell ya. And all, but one - cheers to that - is older than me, at either 50 or 51. They are a living example that life at the half-century mark needs not be that bad. In fact, it could be as exciting and fulfilling, if not better than some of the younger people I know. VT is a sports fanatic who jogs regularly. Jen is a mahjong enthusiast. That game has been proven to keep the mind alert and young, but young she is not, alert a definite yes! MJM who is three months younger than me, is the hyperactive one among us, very loud and articulate, and likes driving in an out of JB buying grocery for his family. Then of course, there is Victor, the wordsmith who's never short of wit and who celebrates life as much as he is a half celeb-blogger.

The lunch at Prima Revolving Tower was fantastic, not least because it was a birthday treat. The highlight for me was the Beijing Duck. Call me suaku, but this was the first time I ever sampled this dish, my mouth still drooling as I recall the crispy duck skin rolled on a small popiah skin with spring onions.







The Beijing DUCK was good, but we hope our LUCK would be just as good comes Saturday or Sunday. See, it's kinda weird but we kept seeing lots of figure 6 during the course of our lunch. MJM was issued a parking coupon bearing no. 000666 at the restaurant. He also happened to have lent Jen The Omen today. Those who had watched the movie would know the significance of 666 in that movie. What's more coincident was that on my way home from work today, a car in front of me bears the no. SGH 6666 on its number plate. And today's date 29, incidentally, also forms parts of my office telephone number. There are people who do not believe in buying 4-D, but there's just so much coincidence here that we just had to give our luck a try! So we unanimously picked the number 2966, 12 permutation, for the fun of it.

We wait with bated breath.... Huat Ah!!!

Category: Musings

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Many ways to skin a cat


I don't know whether to laugh :) or to cry :( My friend Victor actually stayed up till the wee hours of the morning just to write a post about me in his blog.... I'm more than happy to have provided some sort of light entertainment to his otherwise mundane life revolving around the office, his computer, his wife and two kids, not to mention his "healthy" obsession with Annabel Chong and all things sexy.

Yes, I'd admit I have little road sense, but that's because I'm not a veteran driver like him, having got my driving license a couple of years back. In terms of mileage, I'm no where near Victor, who's been driving like forever? And if you've been playing chauffeur to your wife and kids, you're really no different from a cab-driver who are expected to know the roads of Singapore like the back of your hand. And Victor, my dear pal, has already obtained his taxi-license as a possible life-line after he retires from being a consultant in my office. I like a man who thinks far ahead.

But let's come back to this "Lost and Astray Person". You have no idea how exasperating it was to follow a driver who has no hesitation whatsoever to cut lanes just to save a few minutes of his time. He was supposed to be directing me, but there he was, giving my all the wrong signals as he swerved in and out of the lanes.

It's not a big deal to lose our way here in Singapore. The car is at my disposal. If I'm lost, I simply make a U-turn. But there're drivers who are so complacent that they forget that in Singapore, there are actually signs that allow us to make U-turns. Besides, as Dr M, my favorite politician, has said - "In Singapore, there are roads but when shifting into fourth gear, you fall into the sea because it (the country) is not big". See? No problem at all because we are so "small". We'll never get lost in Singapore. Besides, my philosophy when comes to driving - always stick to the roads you know best even if it takes longer, than roads you're unfamiliar with.

Besides, Victor may want to know that there're many ways to skin a cat, as Chun See, a man given to reminiscing about his army days (who you calling topo king, sir?) pointed out to Victor an alternate road to get to my destination.

Did someone say something about "thinking out of the box"?? Victor, you reading?

Contrary to popular belief and Evan might want to take note of this, I don't always aim to win. In this instance, I declare Victor the winner. Just so I could amuse him.

LOL.

Category: Musings

Saturday, September 23, 2006

The years(s) of living dangerously....

Chun See was spot on when he mentioned that "our kids are living in a more dangerous world; with more hidden minefields all around". I couldn't agree more. In the past, we parents only worried about our daughters falling prey to sex perverts and predators. But the reality has sunken in, at least to me, that our boys are equally susceptible to such risks.

According to a report in the ST today, more teens are getting Aids and STDs. Last year alone, four boys aged 17-19 tested positive for HIV. They had sex with men. I find this rather troubling, not least because I have two young sons. And it makes me wonder what kind of sex education is being taught to our kids in school. During my time, there was no sex education. My parents, like many others, did not tell us about the birds and the bees. This was probably due to our Asian culture. We were pretty much left to our own "devices" which, in my case comprised mainly books, sometimes trashy ones. Unfortunately, it did not help that these books tended to sensationalise when it came to the act of love. Surely, the situation should have improved by now, and our kids shouldn't be made to suffer the fate of their parents! Or so I thought.

These days, our kids are given education on sex in schools. But why is it so that the number of teens with STDs and Aids has shot up? It makes me wonder what exactly are being taught in schools. Whatever it is, it's clearly not effective. I also wonder, on top of topics like abstinence and various STDs, are our kids taught the existence of "homosexuality" and "lesbianism", topics still considered taboo by many strait-laced Singaporeans? And are the girls (and the boys) taught about the psychological and emotional scares left behind by abortions?

My view is that sex education should also be taught together with topics on the danger of chatting with strangers on-line. I wrote this because I'd read about a case in which a boy was tricked into believing that he was chatting with a girl who was really a middle-age man. He ended up having sex with the man who gave him Aids.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not a homophobe. I've nothing against homosexuals who are basically people just like you and me with a basic need for love, emotionally and physically. But it's the man preying on young boys that got me worried for our kids.

I don't think we should leave the education of sex entirely to the schools. We parents ought to re-enforce the message. Needless to say, I've spoken to Senior Junior about the birds and the bees, the STDs and Aids, and yes, we've even discussed how some people are born with a certain sexual orientation. I guess most parents would feel awkward broaching these topics with their kids. But my sentiment is - better now than sorry later.

Of course, there are other problems facing our kids, who are becoming increasingly savvy in this ever-changing world, but not necessarily wiser. Social problems like the abuse of drug, hooliganism, and anti-social behaviour are real and they may befall our kids if we are not careful.

Category: Family

Friday, September 22, 2006

How evil are you??

This is some kind of a joke. A friend of mine directed me to this website which gauges how evil a man I am. What? Only 34%?? That's just me. My EVIL TWIN would have fared much better, as would Victor, I'm sure. Heh. It's amazing what inane stuff you could find in the internet... There's one that measures how "Malaysian" you are as Victor has shown in one of his posts. And I also came across one that tells you how "gay" you are. Totally insane. Go on, give it a shot if you think you're Evil enough. LOL

You Are 34% Evil

A bit of evil lurks in your heart, but you hide it well.
In some ways, you are the most dangerous kind of evil.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Teenage Angst


At 14 years old, Senior Junior is already towering over his old man by almost a head. How fast he grew! He's become more attentive to his appearance, spending what seems look forever in the bathroom combing his hair every morning. Vain is the word. And I've to keep telling him to hurry up or I'd be late for work! And how rebellious he's become! He gets bored easily these days, and is always asking us permission to hang out with his friends after school. If we limit the movement on our kids and impose curfew on them, it's because we parents only have the best interet for our kids. They are at an age most susceptible to peer pressure, and we don't want them to be caught in a situation doing stuff they would regret later in life. I guess we parents in this part of the region tend to me more protective over our kids. And it's not necessary a good thing. Sooner or later, the storks will fly the nest. But I guess it's important to educate them about the danger of mixing with the wrong group of people, or bowing down to peer pressure. Yes, we can't control them, but we could educate them the best we can. There's only so much we could do. The rest is really up to them.

Tell me it's a passing phase. I've been young before (and I'm still YOUNG). But I've never given so much headache to my parents. Never.

Category: Family

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Did money grow on trees for these women???


"Move your arse! You lazy cow!"

Ooops... I didn't say that. But a dance instructor by the name of Mirko Saccani certainly did, to the face of a Monica Wong, a 61-year-old successful banker in Hong Kong. If you could recall the news, the latter has agreed to pay the man and his wife, a 15-times world Latin-dancing champion, a jaw-dropping HK$120 million for unlimited private lessons on salsa dancing from 2004 to 2012. She successfully sued the couple for the return of the HK$62 deposit she put down after the relationship with the couple turned sour. It happened when the dance bugger commanded her to "move her arse" and called her a "silly lazy cow" in full view of the public. Of course, he did this while laughing quietly and heartily to the bank. But alas, he foolishly slaughtered the goose that laid the golden eggs. What a silly cow bull.

Hot on the heels of this story is another one on another super-rich woman who has just become the first female ever to travel to space as a tourist. The woman, an engineer who made her fortune in the telecommunication sector, reportedly paid a cool US$25 million to fulfil her dream to travel to space.

Unbelievable. Stories like these never fail to amaze me, and I could only watched dumbfound with jealousy and envy at the incredulous ways the super-rich splurge their money. To me, it's almost obscene, considering the number of mouths these money could feed the hungry in the world. No, I'm not moralising. Of course, it's their money and their prerogatives. The grapes have never tasted so sour! Nope, it's not about the grapes either. I'm just moving kicking my arse for not having known these women earlier!

Category: Musings

Monday, September 18, 2006

The sad story of two bright men ...

Two men. One, a double degree-holder and an Asean scholar. The other, a third and final year student at NUS. Both are obviously intelligent and smart. Their stars were shining, and their future looked almost bright and certain. But both men chose to be on the wrong side of the law.

The former faces a life sentence for having pushed his girlfriend onto an oncoming MRT train. It appeared that the girlfriend, who survived the ordeal, had wanted to break off with him. The latter committed burglary after learning that his father had insufficient CPF money to sponsor his university education. His is a story that could have turned out quite differently and perhaps with a happy note. When he was 15, he got into bad company, became addicted to gambling and went on a burglary spree to feed his habit. Caught and sentenced to seven years jail, the boy took his "O" and "A" level while behind bars, but was released on good behaviour five years later. He got into the university, and life seemed to be doing fine until he realised that he may have to drop out of study because of his father's depleting CPF money.

It's really sad to see these men throwing away their future like that. While not condoning their actions, I feel that these two young men are obviously troubled, perhaps even depressed. The first chap was said to be depressed over relationship problems. With their intelligence, why didn't they seek professional help? I'm no psychologist, but I think people who are unhappy do exhibit some signs to suggest that they are depressed or feeling really down in life. I wonder if the people around them saw their cry for help? I can't help feeling really sorry for them .....



Category: Musings

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Mum's Pumpkin Noodle


I've mentioned this dish several times in my blog, the last one on the meme that Evan tagged me. Yes, it's definitely something that I would like eat before I go. I learned how to cook it from my mum. In fact, it's mum's specialty. It's a no fuss dish, extremely easy to prepare and good enough to eat. It reminds me very much of the "Kan Chia Mee" used to be sold at China Street near Club Street where I grew up. Having said that, I'm not sure if we could get pumpkin noodle anywhere here in Singapore. The only pumpkin noodle I know and ever tasted was my mum's. And I usually eat at least two bowls! Here's how you prepare the noodle.

Ingredients (for a family of 4)

  • pumpkins (a least 4-6 pieces to make the soup thicker)
  • dried prawns (100g)
  • fish cake
  • chye-sim
  • cut chili (I prefer chili padi)
  • fried shallot
  • salts
  • msg (optional)
  • a big pot of water

Method

  • Fry dried prawn till fragrant
  • Add pumpkins, stir fry. Dish out and place aside
  • Boil the pot of water
  • Throw in pumpkins, stir and let it boil
  • Add sprinkle of salts. Add msg (optional)


Once the soup is done, you could do either two things:
1. Throw in the noodle and cook it as a big pot. In this instance, the noodle has to be consumed fast, or it will become soggy.
2. My preference is to cook the noodle in individual bowl. Pour some of the soup into a sauce pan. Wait for it to boil, then throw in the noodle. Once it's boiled, add the chye-sim. After 30 seconds or so, it's done and then pour the noodle into a bowl. Garnish it with fish cake, fried shallot and cut chili, and the noodle is ready to be served.

I like the noodle with lots of chye-sim, fried shallot and chili padi. You should try this dish at home. The Slim Lady loves it, even the kids. Home-cooked Pumpkin Noodle that I couldn't get elsewhere in Singapore!


Category: Food

Saturday, September 16, 2006

A simple lunch

Several years ago, the Slim Lady got hold of a recipe for Chicken Stew from her doctor. It was pretty easy to cook, and both the boys and I love it.

Then we shifted house, and the Slim Lady lost the recipe. She also claimed that she couldn't recall how to cook it without the recipe, easy as it was.

Anyway, I'm feeling kinda adventurous today, so I googled and found some recipe for Chicken Stew. There was no better time to make guinea pigs out of my family. That's it! That would be today's lunch! The result? Well, not too bad really, but I still prefer the one from the Slim Lady's doctor though. I don't know what's missing.



Ingredients (for a family of 4)

  • 4 strips of carrots
  • 6-8 potatoes
  • 3 onions
  • garlics
  • 2 Knorr chicken cubes
  • oyster sauce (optional)

Method

  • Fry onions and garlic till fragrant
  • Add carrots and potatoes
  • Add chicken
  • Add Knorr chicken cubes
  • Add oyster sauces and fry the mixture for about 3 minutes
  • Transfer mixture to slow cooker and let it simmer for at least 3 hours on high heat.
  • After 3 hours, turn the heat to low, and the dish is ready to be served

Easy to prepare, economical (only $4.20 for all ingredients!) and yummy. *slurp*.

Category: Food

Sunday, September 10, 2006

My Army Daze. Si Beh Siong ahhh .....


FOR HONOUR??

Training in the BMT was tough - both mentally and physically. I was never a strong kid, in the physical sense. In school, I wasn't really into sports. And didn't bother to train up prior to my enlistment. In short, I was one of those physically unfit soldiers Chun See mentioned in his blog and whom he's resolved his son would never become.

And so it was I flunked my IPPT and the SOC test during my BMT. I managed only two chin-ups and failed my running. It was not a big deal. The weak ones were made to train doubly hard than the others. I didn't feel "humiliated" for having failed the physical test. When you are a recruit, you soon realise that dignity is hard to come by. And everyone got humiliated, one way or the other.

The SOC was really tough, and I was all worn out just trying to clear the first obstacle, the low wall. Then there was the bayonet fighting. It looks easy, but the thrusting and the shoving of the rifle soon wore many of us out.

I'm sure any soldier worths his salt would know the term extra-drill. This word is really a misnomer. We greenhorn recruits had thought it meant extended drill lessons. But we soon sensed something amiss when we noticed a medic on standby by the side of the parade square. In truth, extra-drill is drill executed in double quick time. We found it quite funny when we first performed the act. It made us look quite "cartoon". That made our OC to comment,"You can laugh. I see later you cry or laugh." True to his words, ten minutes into the extra-drill, some of my fellow recruits started to vomit and one of them even passed out.

Among all the training I had in BMT, I like log PT the best. See, this exercise entails the recruits in rows to manoeuvre a huge log at the command of the PTI. So if the PTI shouted, “Up”, we recruits would hold the log and lift it up over our heads in unison. The problem was, I was never able to reach for the log above me. I don't have to get into the specifics, but the PTI thought I was trying to “keng”! But to me, log PT was really effortless! Tall people like Victor, dig this!! Heh.

Well, if you're fit to be enlisted, you're fit no matter if you failed your IPPT. So, despite managing only two chin-ups, I was posted to SAFTI to take up a course on becoming a section leader.

This is where I had the best part of my NS life. I was posted to Echo company, and met some wonderful instructors. I was sort of the blue-eye boy to my RSM. He became my personal trainer of sort, making me got up earlier than the others, and helping me train in the gym to build up my strength and muscles. He was particular kind towards me, excusing me from fatigue duties, even offering me extra night snacks. Needless to say, I was the envy of the rest of my platoon mates. But such is life. Sometimes, you meet people that help you when you're at the "lowest ebb" of your life. No... no...… I wasn't getting suicidal. Life at SAFTI, as I said, was wonderful, and at the end of my SAFTI stint, I managed ten chin-ups and passed my IPPT with flying colours. I remember my platoon mates applauding for me when I did the chin-up!

SSG Chua should be so proud.

Category: Yesteryear