Friday, December 28, 2007

ORIGINAL HAPPY VERSION
Saw the above cartoon in the newspaper concerning the increase in tariffs. See how chirpy they are! I thought the version below is a slightly more accurate cartoon. :P

ADJUSTED REALITY VERSION

Celebrate Life by riding SMRT!

Wow... I love these publicity slogans. I never knew that by riding the SMRT, I am celebrating life!! heh. I really wonder where these marketing companies come up with their slogans. I guess it must be from the same place where they come up with names like 'Marina Bay' for Marina Bay, 'Budget Terminal' for our Budget Termina and 'Science Centre, Singapore' for our Singapore Science Centre.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Attack of the Gurmit Clones

Loved this comic in today's TODAY. Totally captures the state of our English entertainment channel. If it's not Gurmit Singh, it's Adrian Pang. It's like, there are no other English actors in our little red dot?

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Bus Fare is too cheap! Must charge more!

Strangely, this is what our Public Transport Council told SMRT when it wanted to launch a feeder bus service in Yio Chu Kang. Below is the excerpt from TODAY (26 Dec 2007):

"When the proposal was submitted to the Public Transport Council (PTC) in June, it was rejected because the fare proposed ($1.30 per trip) was not appropriate for a premium bus service, usually priced between $2 to $3 per trip."

So... isn't it no surprise that our bus/mrt/taxi fares only go up and up? Even the PTC, who is supposed to help regulate the fares, tell the companies that they are charging too low! lolz.

No more tubes

How time flies. I've been on the tube for about a month and finally, the doctor has decided that it's time to remove the tube & bottle from me. After a series of blood tests and a very expensive CT scan (costs close to $800), it seems most of the infection has subsided. When he took out the PICC, which is basically the 'plug' inserted in my upper arm, I was anticipating a painful experience, especially since the insertion process was not the most pleasant experience . It was with much relief when he simply pulled the tube out and I felt nothing. The tube was easily up to 50cm long.... kinda scary actually. Well, I'm finally liberated from the liquid antibiotics and have moved on to tablets, which I'm supposed to be on for another month. Problem is, it seems I might have developed some form of allergy to the drug. Just before the plug was taken out, some spots and a bit of rash started appearing on parts of my skin. It's kinda itchy and I'm keeping my fingers crossed that it'll go away soon.

Christmas has been kinda low-key this year. I guess it's partly due to the fact that I was/am recovering from the MRSA infection. I stayed away from the main shopping areas as much as I could and laboured to finish my Christmas shopping more than a week before Christmas (a first for me!) so as to avoid the last minute crowds.

My office has moved to Toa Payoh. At first, I was pretty psyched that I would be so much nearer to home. But then I realized that our 'excellent' public transport system is such that travelling from Serangoon Gardens to Toa Payoh by bus took me just as much time as travelling to Shenton Way!! It's really weird, but I have to leave my house at pretty much the same time in order to reach my office in Toa Payoh HDB Hub on time. I think it's due mainly to the fact that the SBS bus is caught in at least 2 jams along the way to Toa Payoh and there are plenty of stops. When I took the 'private' bus service, it zipped along the CTE. The advantage of the private bus is I had a nice seat all the way to work/home. For the SBS bus, I have to rush for a seat and squeeze with the others on the crowded bus. Not a pleasant way to get to/from work.

Of course, the stupid increase in taxi fares don't really make things easier. I still can't believe the addition of the 35% surcharge during peak hours. Well, it's driven me to make an effort to wake up a couple of minutes earlier so that I won't need to take a taxi to work. I've also started thinking thrice before flagging down a taxi. It's not that I've given up on them. In fact, I think taking the cab during off peak hours (from around 10am to 4.30pm) is pretty ok. There is some increase which I think is reasonable. But if it's the peak hour, I'm gonna stay as far away from the cabs as possible. Congratulations to the rich folks who now find it easier to catch a cab during peak hours. My sympathies to the cab drivers who my have lost some income due to the crazy increases.

It's sometimes frustrating to live in a country where everything is spoken in terms of dollars and cents. Roads too crowded? Charge more to use them. Not enough taxis? Charge more to get them. Need better ministers/public servants? Pay more to hire them. Want to get faster service (like in the hospitals)? Pay a premium for the ease & speed. And the thing is, everyone in any position of authority just seems to nod their heads and say it's the only solution. And we (including me) obedient citizens just grin and bear it. Sigh.

Sorry for the somewhat disconnected post. Haven't posted in a while so just decided to have some writer's diarrhoea todae.

Hope your Christmas was a memorable one!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Sigh... back to work

Sigh, finally, it's back to work for me... My mc ends today and tomorrow it's back to the office. It's definitely gonna take plenty of will power to get up at 7am in the morning and drag myself to the office. Good thing is, my office has moved to Toa Payoh, which means significantly less travelling time to and from work. Food and shopping there is much better than Shenton Way too! Bad thing is... I've gotta go to work. Doesn't help that I've gotta bring my little bottle everywhere I go. SIGH.

The Golden Compass

last day of freedom before I return to work tomorrow.... what better way to spend it then to catch an afternoon movie...

The Golden Compass has been getting mixed reviews. In fact, in my favourite review site, metacritic.com, the scores aren't very fantastic. I've not the read the book so I went for the movie with no idea what it's about.

The actors in the movie are pretty well chosen. Nicole Kidman is excellent in her schizo role. I love her sudden outburst and how she suddenly switches from a bitch to a caring nun. Chilling! Daniel Craig has less than 5min screen time so it's pretty hard to say much about him. But from what little time he had on the screen, he seemed to be cast in a role well suited to him as well. Of course the big question is whether the new comer, Dokato Blue Richards, can pull off the role of her life. I gotta say I'm impressed with her acting in this movie. She comes across as being very gutsy with a hint of slyness. As mentioned in some reviews, when compared to how kids like Daniel Radcliffe first appeared in their movies, Dakota Blue Richards is way ahead of them in her professionalism.

Of course, the big stars here are also the special effects. I loved the world they created in the movie. It draws you into the story and makes you look forward to more whimsical creations. The animal/daemon CGI is also very well done. Other than the little morphing daemons, I was blown away by the awesome polar bear CGI. Look out for the big fight between the two polar bears... and watch out for the brutal end. I couldn't believe the movie was rated pg-13. heh.

I also enjoyed the story which was pretty fast moving. I'm sure there's much more in the book, but just like in the Harry Potter movies, you really can't have everything faithfully reproduced or each movie would be a 10hr ordeal. Until I read the book, I'll have to say the scriptwriters managed to put together a good story which held my attention from beginning to end.

The Golden Compass was not a disappointment. In fact, if you asked me to rank it together with the first movies of the other big franchises like The Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter, I might even say that it beats the two of them. LOTR 1 sets up a beautiful world but I didn't care much for the first story. Harry Potter 1 was a little shaky with the young actors and so-so story line. Golden Compass seems to have gotten the formula right. This is a great movie to start the December movie season!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Recovery's a bore

OK, it's been 3 days since I've been discharged. I've basically been resting at home except for Sunday morning when I had to report to the hospital for a new bottle of antibiotics. After that, I took the opportunity to drop by Funan to get some DVDs and then to Kinokuniya at Taka coz they were having their 20% discount sale. Phew. It was really tiring to move around since I've been hospital bound for 2 weeks. It's gonna take some time for me to get back to normal... if that ever happens.

At the same time, I'm also getting used to life with my little bottle. Here's a pic of it. The blue pouch is a thermal pouch which the hospital graciously gives so that we can carry the bottle around while preventing extreme changes in temperature. You can see the balloon/condom in the bottle which basically contains the antibiotic. As time passes, the balloon gets smaller as more of the antibiotic is pressured into my body.


The bottle's with me all the time, whole day long. I've gotta constantly remember to bring it along with me and at the same time, make sure the tube doesn't get tangled or caught somewhere. When I sleep, there's also the fear that I might rip the tube from the plug in my body. When I bathe, I've gotta waterproof the bottle and the plug in my right arm to make sure it remains dry so that the plug doesn't get infected. Sigh. Sounds fun right?

Anyway, tomorrow's my second refill visit to the hospital. Second day of outing! Hooray! I might just go catch up on a movie.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Two weeks

That's how long I've been away. Two long weeks. Not on a holiday, mind you. How I wish I was on one. The two long weeks were actually spent in Tan Tock Seng Hospital.

As my faithful readers might remember, I've been going through a tough time with a fever which refused to go away. I seriously mean a 24hour fever, everyday. All I could do was pop 2 panadols every few hours to try to keep the fever under control. Of course, I was seeing my normal doctor who was putting me through tests and antibiotics to try and tame the fever. However, 2 weeks ago, on 9 Nov, I knew I had to get myself admitted when my fever crossed the 40 degree limit and refused to come down. So on 10 Nov, I went over to Tan Tock Seng A&E and got myself admitted.

There were many needle proddings, blood drawings, body scannings. And after about 4 days, the doctors reached the conclusion that I had caught MRSA, also commonly known as the dreaded Superbug. Simply put, MRSA is a bacteria which is resistant to all normal antibiotics. For me, the MRSA had attacked my right kidney which apparently was filled with pus due to the infection. So, for the next one and a half weeks, I had a tube stuck to me right kidney to drain the pus from it, and I was put on a strong antibiotic called Vancomycin which is one of the drugs used to tackle MRSA.

Everyday was a dead bore. All I had was Channel 5, 8 and U and my Nintendo DS. Unfortunately, having a tube stuck to your kidney greatly decreases the pleasure of playing on my DS. So I'm left with the mind-numbing programmes on the free-to-air channels. I tell you, I still cannot believe how mediacorp can come up with programmes like 80s Rewind and The Noose.

Staying in a hospital is every bit as horrible as you can ever imagine. And this is coming from someone who paid to stay in a B1 ward. Other than the constant needle poking, or the misery-inducing groans from the other patients with painful/more serious problems, I must say that I cannot understand why the hospital can't make a half-decent cup of milo. Someone must have read the instructions wrong and decided that it was like one teaspoon of milo for every cup of milky hot water. The milo was miserable. Food was not too bad. But when I was put on a liquid diet for a day, I could not believe how they could mush up everything to make it 'liquid'. yuck.

Well, after two weeks, I'm finally out. But it's not quite over. Due to the strong infection, I have to be on the intravenous antibiotics for another month. So basically, I now carry a bottle with me everywhere I go. The bottle is filled with the antibiotics which I have to refill at the hospital every 2 days. Whoopee. So now, I have the pleasure of finding ways and means to camouflage the bottle and tube when I go out... which I am dying to do since I've been cooped up in a hospital /home for 2 weeks.

On a positive note, I am feeling much better since the treatment began. But it's kinda scary to find out that I've caught MRSA. It's a pretty strong bug and can be life threatening too. Well, here's hoping for a proper recovery.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

80's Rewind

i must admit it. I wanted to watch this because I wanted to find out how much it would suck. And disappoint me it did not.

Main storyline A: Mother & Father obsessed with tree-planting & starting a neighbourhood watch.

Main storyline B: Two brothers trying to get tickets to watch Return of Jedi. They end up getting it from a 'scalper' called Obi Wan Neo... :S Helloo..... Neo is Matrix.... didn't even happen till 1990s.

Both storylines suck.

The acting sucks. Talk about 80s rewind. The acting standards are probably 80s standard too.

Jokes suck. Father threatens sons with.... MOTHER! wow! no one must have ever thot about such a joke. Son says he was robbed. Everyone still keeps asking 'Were you robbed?'. funny hor.

It's been 20mins, I've not even broken into a smile. It's a seriously sad show. I didn't dare to watch The Noose last weekend. I think I'm glad I didn't.

okok.. now got romantic twist.... wife thinks of how a tree helped her get over hubby went he went for NS. That's why tree-planting so important. OMG!!!! What a contrived story!

Thank God. Advert time. Some decent storylines/filming. Please adverts, please dun end....

Sigh. Adverts ended. Soppy round up. Something about planting a bean for wife to see it forever and remember him all the time.

Wow... HILARIOUS ENDING. They all got tickets to watch Return of Jedi and just as the movie started, their sister tells them the twist at the end that Princess Leia is Luke's sister. SO FUNNY.

What is wrong with Mediacorp? Seriously.... Who on earth can think this is even near funny? This is more proof of the death of Mediacorp local programming.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Movie Reviews

OK, I'm kinda in the mood for it, so here are some quick reviews of movies i've watched recently. I've placed them in order of positive reviews to crappy reviews.

STARDUST is a pretty good movie if you are into a decent fantasy story. There's a good balance of action, romance, magic and most importantly, humour. The movie doesn't try to take itself to seriously, and the big names like Michelle Pfieffer and Robert De Niro appear to be having a whale of a time in this movie! Michelle is excellent as the old ugly witch trying to get the heart of a star in order to be youthful again with her 2 other sister witches. De Niro is a sky pirate whose name strikes fear to those who hear it. What's so fun about the two roles? Well, Michelle has got some excellent jokes when it comes to her aging. Just watch what happens when she tries to cure a mole or something on her chin. As for De Niro, I will not spoil it for you... He springs a surprise which is pretty hilarious too. For some, Stardust might be a little slowish. For me, I don't think it's an academy award winner, but it was an enjoyable movie, especially since I watched it after watching THE DARK IS RISING.... (reviewed below)


If you are offended by vulgarities, SUPERBAD is definitely not for you. Almost EVERY SINGLE SENTENCE is filled with at least a vulgarity, a reference to a sexual organ or some other offensive word. Essentially, it's a movie about how 3 nerds try to buy liquor for a girl's party so that they can 'get-the-girl' despite being social outcasts. My brother warned me that the show was pretty vulgar coz he watched it before me. But after I watched it, I told him it's sad, but I know of not a few students who do talk like this, especially when a teacher is not around. SUPERBAD is quite fun coz it pokes fun at some American institutions like the police. The whole side story with one of the nerd befriending two policeman is really funny. 'McLovin' as he is called in the movie really steals the movie from the other two kids. Watch it, but be warned that it is not for the faint of ear.


I went to watch The Drummer only because I do have some interest in these huge drums. I've always been fascinated by Japanese Taiko Drum performances and here was a movie about Chinese drums. I was also interested to see if Jaycee Chan would be as irritating as his father, Jackie Chan. Well, to answer my last question first, I thought that Jaycee Chan did a decent job and he didn't irritate me like his father does. Every since Jackie started acting in Hollywood, I have just lost all respect for him and pretty much hate most of his shows. Even his latest visa ad where he pokes his head through Yao Ming's arms and starts clapping reminds me so much of a monkey. Anyway... back to the movie... I was kinda disappointed that the movie was quite slow and limp. As much as the director wanted to showcase the drums, you just don't get the heart pounding feel of a good performance/filming. We rarely see any good performances by the troupe. Then it also tries to be a gangster type movie and again, it's so disjointed that you don't feel that the two parts are really forced together. I think the movie would have been so much better with a stronger story line and a better director/cinematographer. On the whole, sadly, a missable movie. Don't watch it unless u absolutely have no choice.


OK, down to the bottom of the post and hence the bottom of the barrel. THE DARK IS RISING is another in the long chain of Harry Potter wannabes, and it fails sadly. The other two movies that come to mind are Eragon and Narnia (although Narnia is more of a Lord of the Rings wannabe). The good news is, I think this movie is mildly better than Eragon. The bad news is, I think it still sucks. I've not read the books so I didn't have any expectations when going in for the movie. But you can't help but feel that there's nothing very magical or exciting about the worlds created through the time-travelling. And it all zooms by so fast! Each visit to another time to seek a 'sign' lasts no more than 10 minutes! The special effects are nothing to be excited about. And the evil Rider isn't very fearsome at all. On the whole, the movie just plods along and the story just doesn't excite. As I was watching this movie, I couldn't help but wonder at how the different directors of the Harry Potter series have been able to capture our attention and imagination and keep the movies fresh over 5 movies! That must really be some accomplishment. Anyway, back to this movie, I say skip it. Save your money for The Golden Compass, another HPwannabe.... but this one is showing some promise.

Medical Frustrations

Looks like i've kinda lost some interest in blogging doesn't it? Just realized it's been a long time since I posted any movie reviews. It's not that I've not been watching movies, but I guess the movies are either not very good or I usually only get to watch them on weekends, coz it's kinda hard to watch movies when I'm at work.

I don't think I've lost interest. But as you would have realized from my last few posts, I'm kinda going thru a lowish point right now. A large cause of that is this fever/infection which simply refuses to go away. I've been to the doctor a couple of times and I've pretty much been surviving on continuous panadol and antibiotic intake. I think this is the longest I've felt so sick and it's frustrating. The wonder of medical science is that when it comes to antibiotics, it's kinda trial and error. Doctors let us take those which more or less tackle most kinds of common bacteria. So if you've got some weird strain, those antibiotics just might not work... like in my case. I can't tell you how many courses of antibiotics I have taken in the last few weeks. And things get a little better before they return to the same old pattern. I am so tired of it!

So, right now, I basically keep myself panadoled-up so as to keep the fever at a manageable level. As for curing wateva's messed up inside me right now? Just gotta leave the doctors to carry out their tests and hope for the best. What else can I do, right?

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Rants

This is not a happy post. I've been in a bluesy kinda mood in the last few days and I just feel like letting off some steam.

For some reason, I'm just tired of everything. It's not to say my thots are real/factual. They're just how I feel about stuff right now.

Everyday feels like such a drag. I drag myself out of bed. Drag myself to work. Drag myself to lunch. Drag myself to see clients. Drag myself back to office. Drag myself home. Drag myself to bed. I think it's sad to live like that, no?

I've been trying to understand why I feel like this. Maybe coz I'm not in the best of health (still recovering from the effects of my operation). Maybe coz I'm not terribly excited by my work. Maybe I'm tired that I'm settling into a routine that I can't imagine for myself. Maybe it's just that time of the month... lol...

Hopefully I get out of the blues soon.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

a day of fun, a week of pain

It has been a painful week. But before talking about that, let me talk about something more pleasant.

Last Monday, I took some time off work to go back to visit 2M. It was Children's Day and I thought it would be nice to drop in with some goodies since it would probably be the last time I will see them as a class. sniff. It was a short but really nice visit. Great to catch up on all the juicy gossip. I think I've said it before, the one thing I've really missed about RI is the interaction with all the students. Well, I think this will probably be the last time I will visit RI on my own accord since after this, 2M will be divided into different classes and I think by next year, most of the students I really know would be out of the school. Kinda sad really.

OK, back to painful matters.

Last Tuesday, I went in for my operation to remove a kidney stone. I actually have two that need taking care of. One big one up in my kidney and a smaller one in my... shall we just say body's plumbing system. So this op was to remove the smaller one first. Anyway, got to Tan Tock Seng Hospital at 8.30 and it was good that there was no line so I was attended to quickly and moved into the prep room. Changed into the operation gowns and couldn't understand why they were designed like that. Someone should seriously look into improving those silly gowns. Anyway, within minutes, the nurse finished keeping my valuables and asking me repeatedly who I am (as if the person in front of her would change identity in a wink). Got wheeled towards the Operating Room. It's always a strange sensation, lying on the bed and being wheeled around. YOu just get to see the flourescent tubes overhead zooming by, and I just don't know what I should be thinking about. After being wheeled around like a supermarket trolley, I arrived in the prep room of the Operating Room (that's what I think it is anyway) and then began a couple minutes of waiting as the operating team/anaesthetist/doctor get ready. I finally got wheeled into the OR and that where they start prodding me with needles and monitors and stuff. Then came the best part... the mask. They put this gas mask over me and say 'it's just oxygen, take deep breaths', so i comply. Can't do anything else rite since the mask is in my face? Then this time round, the anaesthetist didn't even tell me she was injecting the drugs, i just knocked off.

About 2.5 hours later, I opened my eyes to the sound of the nurse asking me to take deep breaths again... something about filling my lungs or something... quite tough coz it feels so good to just go back to sleep. Then the worse thing happened. I had to pee. Believe me, this is not something I want to do after a kidney stone removal. For the sake of my male readers, I shall not describe the ordeal. Anyway, I found out later that the doctor had cleared the first stone fairly quickly so he made the decision to go after the bigger stone in the kidney. There's kinda mixed feelings although it would mean I probably need not go for another big op for that stone, it also meant that the doctor had to put in a stent (a tube from the kidney to the bladder)... so that means I have to go for a stent removal procedure... which I will describe at another time....

Anyway, finally left the hospital at about 2.45pm.

The past week has been painful coz of (1) sharp pain on my right side, probably due to some stones moving through the system and (2) peeing out sand... lolz... yes, i've had to pee out sand at times. It's not really painful but I think the thought is quite scary. But seriously, the first few days after the op, going to the toilet was something I had to but didn't want to do.

It's been 6 days since my op and things seem to be slowly going back to normal. Still have some pain, but it's becoming more manageable. Have MC until Monday, so it's back to work on Tuesday.

Might talk more about the past week of pain if i feel like it... but I think I've given enough info for now...

Monday, October 01, 2007

Weird poster


Have you seen this poster on our buses? I find the way they insert little 'lessons' creepy. Sorry for the blurry pic, hard to take a pic in a moving bus. Anyway, for your ease of reading, here are the 3 steps listed above:

1. Take SBS Bus and/or Rail Services. (No eating on bus and train!)
2. TITO: Tap-in-tap-out to accumulate e-tokens with your monthly e-stamp. (Give up your seat for the needy!)
3. Login and redeem! (Remember to study hard too!)


Can someone explain to me the relevance of the little 'lessons' after each instruction? It almost feels like some form of brainwashing! What does tapping in and out have to do with giving up my seat for the needy?

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

A question of control

I've been thinking about how important is the issue of control to me. I'm talking about this ideal state where I get to call the shots and decide how and what happens to me. I'm not talking so much about control over others (though I admit it's one area I've had to work at in especially in my last job working with students). In this case, I'm talking about control over my own life.

I realize I hate it when I feel helpless. This could be in the case where say, I fall sick. Like right now when I'm working through my kidney stone problems (yep, got a couple of them swimming around my plumbing system rite now), I feel frustrated because this is something that I can't control. I mean, I can't get rid of them, I can't stop them from giving me other related problems like infections. I just have to sit and wait until the doctor blasts them out of my system, one way or another.

Another example is when people force me to do what I don't want to do. I don't know if I sound pompous, but I kinda feel that I've reached an age/point in my life/career where I shouldn't need to do what I really don't want to do. Haha, I can think of so many examples with respect to this. In fact, this contributed partially to why I left teaching last year. I was feeling hopelessly powerless with what I was doing in my job. When I was younger, I'd think about patience, tolerance, etc. But somehow, for me, personal fulfillment/satisfaction seems much more important than just doing something for the sake of doing it.

Right now, I'm still struggling with this issue of control.

It's a frustrating life when I'm controlled by a clock and a card.

It's a frustrating life when I'm controlled by what others want me to do.

It's a frustrating life when I don't find myself doing stuff I find meaning in doing.

I guess that's partially why I'm irritated by those little government things like the longevity insurance, etc, etc. Our governments gives me the idea that we are powerless in making decisions for our lives. Only the government knows best. MPs can say all they want in the 'debates'. You can make all the noise you want at 'feedback sessions'. But in the end, government knows best. The decision was already made anyway. It's just nice to let you rant a little, to let it out of your system.

How? Like that can go crazy rite?

Monday, September 24, 2007

Cloudy skies


I love bright and cheery mornings, but I must admit I also like dark cloudy and breezy mornings provided the rain hasn't started pouring. This is how the sky looked today at about 7.15am. It wasn't raining yet and there was a wonderful wind stirring up the air. Not a bad way to start the day.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

In that kinda mood

For some reason or rather, I've been in a kind of buay song mood over the last few days. Reading the newspapers & surfing the blogs on singapore issues just reinforce this buay-songness. It's like, there are just so many weirdish things going on in our little red dot and we littlereddotians just seem to live with and tolerature them (myself included).

One example is the silly Odex 'demonstration' where a couple of people got together and placed some toy figures carrying little banners and toy flags to protest against how Odex had handled the whole issue. I just can't understand why our dear authorities had to send police to go and 'control the crowd'.... I mean, don't they have better things to do? And what's really wrong with people just trying to make a statement? And as some blogs have mentioned, it's interesting to note that despite having all sorts of news on the Odex court case, there was virtually no reporting in our local papers about the mini-protest. It's all just messed up, imo.

Well, I believe that as a consequence of my mood, I'm a little more irritated with little things that I see around me, stuff that are less political (dun really intend for this blog to make big political statements).

So the thing which I can't understand is this totally silly road crossing between Bugis Junction and Bugis Village. I dunno which wonderful civil servant designed this zig zag crossing but I marvel at how they can connect two MAJOR large road crossings with this tiny strip between them. Everytime I have to cross this place, there's this huge clash of people moving from Bugis Village to Bugis Junction and vice versa. And there's this huge jam as you can see from the pic below resulting in people pushing and shoving and trying to get off the road before the red man flashes on.

Wonderful quirky examples in our efficient little city. My next rant... butt-rests. Be back for it.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Two things on my mind

Two things that happened over the last weekend are kinda weighing on my mind.

First. I was at 7-11 buying some sweets for the movie when I saw this teenager taking two boxes of sweets and putting it in his pocket. Basically, he was shoplifting. Of course, it was disturbing to see this teen behaving like that. But what got me more disturbed was.... I didn't do anything about it. Yep. I just stood there, saw him put the sweets into the pocket and did absolutely nothing except walk out. The point is, I dunno why I didn't do anything. As a former teacher, I talk about doing the right thing always. The right thing would of course be to either stop the teen or immediately inform the store staff about it. But I just did nothing. N.O.T.H.I.N.G. Ok, at the end when I was paying for my stuff, I did tell the cashier that some teens had shoplifted some sweets. But that's kinda too little too late rite. So i've been kinda stewing on why I didn't do anything when I saw the fella taking the sweets. Was I apathetic? Was I scared? It's really weird. Talk about moral reasoning and moral action. ie. Knowing what's right and doing what's right.

And in some way, this is kinda connected to the next thing on my mind.

As some of you might already know my now, Mr Otto Fong, my former colleague, apparently posted a letter on a blog telling everyone that he is gay. Wow. I've known him in my 5.5 years in RI and he's a real nice guy. But I admit that I've never thought he was gay. In fact, I'd thought he was married. lolz. I think it's incredibly brave for him to come out of the closet and tell everyone that he is gay, especially in Singapore and in RI. For that, I salute him. I know he is in for a really rough ride coz he now has to face both MOE and RI, not easy at all. For me, the question is... why did he do it? Why now? It's interesting to read all the comments in Tomorrow.sg and The Online Citizen. My response comes in two parts. First, from Otto's point of view, I can see how he might want to do what he did. But of course, I'm sure he's thought through it thoroughly and knew he could be martyred for this. For whatever reasons he might have I'm not here to judge him. But I must say he is incredibly brave to do it.

My second part has to do with what the school/MOE is gonna do to him. I am of the stand that a teacher's sexual orientation has nothing to do with his suitability to teach. Sexual orientation has nothing to do with moral values. It's ridiculous to equate gay with immorality. So, do we take a lousy teacher who is immoral or do we take a good teacher who is gay but moral? hmm. It's interesting to read about moe's stand that it “does not condone any open espousal of homosexual values by teachers in any form, in or out of the classroom”. As mentioned by many netizens, what exactly are 'homosexual values'? Is there even such a thing? Otto is an excellent teacher in my opinion and has mentored many students well. If he gets fired just for saying he is gay, then it goes to show the school/MOE's priorities.

It's been an interesting weekend.

Hairspray

Last weekend, I took the chance to go catch up on some movies which I'd not been able to watch since my 'incarceration' due to my sickness. I've wanted to watch Hairspray.. it's got raving reviews and I'd just finished watching the latest season of So You Think You Can Dance, so I was in an extra 'dancey' mood.

OK, before I talk about Hairspray, let me tell you what happened before. I went down to The Cathay at Dhoby Ghaut to catch it, but unfortunately, when I arrived, the seats were really bad, like first row bad. So I decided to catch a later screening at AMK Hub. In the meantime, how to past the time? I looked at all the movies screening at The Cathay and I saw the poster for Azur and Asmar. It was kinda eye-catching coz it was an animation not in the usual Disney/anime kinda way and of course, they had those 'First Prize in blah blah blah film festival' flashed all over the poster. So I looked at the screens above the counters and it said it was in English, so I thought, what the heck, how bad could it be.

Yes, how bad could it be.... sigh. First off, to be fair, the animation was interesting in that it really wasn't your typical Pixar or Anime-style. So it was eye catching for a few minutes. What got to me was that it wasn't in English. In fact, I frankly don't know what language it was in. I think is was French and Arabic. Yep... Arabic. I have nothing against the Arabic language. I just never imagined I would go watch an arabic cartoon. My point is, as much as I want to enjoy the animation, how do I do it if I am focussed on reading the subtitles? So, basically, I lost concentration and kinda fell asleep towards the last 1/3 of the movie. I definitely must stop being a sucker for the 'Won First Prize in blah blah blah festival' trick.

OK, back to Hairspray.

This is a real 100% feel good movie. I've read in some reviews that this movie is supposed to be the 'GREASE' for the current generation. I don't think I agree but I think it comes close. Hairspray is a musical. So of course, those who hate shows which break out in singing every 5 minutes better give this a miss. The singing in the movie was not bad. Everyone did a pretty fine job. I even liked all the songs John Travolta sang as a woman. lolz. The songs. Hmm. I don't think the songs were that memorable. Other than the last song, 'You Can't Stop the Beat', I think the rest of the songs are fun/nice but not very memorable. Next, is the dancing. I enjoyed the dance numbers but I can't say that the choreography was very fantastic. It was nice to watch and all that, but I think it lacked some bang. To some extent, maybe it was the filming coz often, we can't see the whole dance move but bits here and there.

For me, one of the highlights was John Travolta. I think he did an excellent job playing the mother of Tracy. Of course, many say it's just a gimmick, but I was checking it out and apparently, in the original musical version on broadway, that role is always acted by a drag queen and usually done in an over-the-top kinda way. I saw a video on youtube and saw this really flambouyant drag queen in the role. I guess it could be interesting, but I think I like the way John Travolta played it, more subdued and in a non-drag kinda way. In fact, I find his quite believable as the mother who was scared to go out. And his dance numbers were quite exhilarating, especially when he/she decides to go for it and does the Tina Turner-like number at the very end.

Overall, like I said, Hairspray is a nice feel good movie. The singing, dancing, acting were done well and it's nice to leave the cinema feeling warm and fuzzy. :P

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Long silence...

Yeah, sorry for the long silence, faithful blog readers....

It's been a miserable two weeks and it's only getting marginably better. I've been down with a viral infection since two saturdays before and it's been terrible. First and foremost.... out when my appetitite. For more than a week, all I could stomach was porridge and kway teow soup. OMG... after the 3rd day, I almost wanted to just inject the stuff into my veins so I didn't need to force it down my throat. Those who know me how important it is for me to enjoy my food. Forcing myself to drink porridge and kway teow soup was just plain cruel.

Then there was the constant fever. Yes, I mean CONSTANT. This time round, no matter how many panadols I took, I constantly had a fever of at least 38 degrees and it just wouldn't quit. Fevers are no fun. They sap the energy out of you from doing anything and everything. So while I may be home on medical leave, i can't do anything coz I simply dun feel like doing anything. Add to that the fact that my baby nephew comes over every afternoon, I had to pretty much hide in my room to prevent passing the virus to him. Fever finally started coming down three/four days ago. It still comes and goes, but at least it actually goes down to a normal 37 degrees some times.

Stomach cramps. It was some kind of stomach virus. So it led to really uncomfortable stomach cramps. And to make it worse, it also led to constipation. Sigh. Actually, I guess there wasn't much for me to... shit out... since I was only taking porridge and kway teow soup anyway. This also persisted for about a week.

Miserable, miserable.

I pulled myself to work this week, partly coz i was really getting too bored at home and partly coz it really wasn't good to be gone on such a long long mc since I'd only start working there for about 2 months. It's been quite uncomfortable coz it's kinda hard to focus on preparing a proposal when you head just doesn't seem to be screwed on right. Add to that the cold sweats due to the occasional fevers and I've got a super uncomfortable day every day.

Silver lining on the grey clouds.... I appear to be able to ingest more solid and palatable food today. Can't take food that's too oily, but I was at least able to have some better food today like chee cheong fun (without sesame oil). Fever is still there, but seems to be less frequent.

Gotta make my way to the hospital next week for some shockwave blasting. Doctor says there's a kidney stone blocking my system so I gotta need to 'blast' it. Sure beats having a scope go up your manhood to attempt to crush and break up the stone. Trust me, it's as horrible as it sounds.

On a more positive note, I was really glad that one of my former students invited me back to RI for his installation ceremony just before I fell sick. It was nice to visit them in RI and I really felt proud of him for being appointed the president. So to my dear Zongyi, congratz again and I'm sure you'll do a marvellous job! (PS. Ernie, if you're reading this, you did great too! Never imagined you as an emcee but you did it really well!).

So that's about it. Sorry for the long delay in posting. Like i said, it was just a long moody two weeks.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Lunch Options... YAWN

One time of the day I almost dread now is... Lunch time. Yeah, surprising rite? Especially considering the fact that I enjoy food. But that's exactly it. Because I enjoy food, I am kinda picky when it comes to stuffing it into my mouth.

There are some nice options for lunch around Shenton Way, but the problem is, there are only so many places (which I do get bored after frequenting the shop often) and I hate it when the places are super crowded coz I don't get to enjoy my meal. I hate it when people are staring at me when I am eating, wondering when I will finish and vacate the place for them. I hate it when the tables & chairs are cramped to allow for maximum seating and minimum space. It just doesn't make for an enjoyable lunch experience (yeah, it sounds kinda spoilt I know).

I don't like to eat at Lau Pa Sat. Most of the shops are selling cookie-cutter food at higher than average prices. There's a cheaper market at Amoy Street but it's really crowded and has long queues. Recently, I've taken to eating sandwiches coz I can't seem to find anything else I really want to eat. Sandwiches are not bad, but BOY ARE THEY EXPENSIVE! I can get a plate of chicken rice (with extra rice) at abt 3.50 to 4 bucks. A sandwich (like the one u see below) with a soup and drink, costs about $10!! The sandwich alone is about $6. Sigh. If you think about it, two slices of bread + lettuce + tomatoes+chicken... cost price can't be more than $2.... These shops really know how to make a profit.

My office is moving to Toa Payoh at the end of the year. Can't wait! More interesting (and economical) food choices! Thinking of the yummy char siew & roast pork rice shop liaoz... and also the katong laksa shop... Ooh-la-la!

Yep, the meal above costs $10.

Biscuit World

Was at J8 today and saw the biscuit models of famous landmarks. Tbh, it was not very impressive. It looked nice, but the biscuits were pretty big so it's like simply glueing big bricks together.

I was a little disappointed at the way the event was held. As you can see from the pic, other than the sculpture in the middle, the rest of the place was pretty sparsely decorated. Not very festive.

On the whole, a nice distraction I guess. :P


Monday, August 13, 2007

I want to puke....

Sorry for the 'strong' title, but that's exactly what I'm feeling right now. I was happily settled in my seat on the bus when suddenly this lady sat down in front of me with a totally overwhelming pungent odour. OMG... Learn some moderation lady! Since I started work, this is the first time I've had such a puking experience. I've had to shift the air-con vent to blow directly at my face to try and blow the odour away. So it was a choice between stinking to death or freezing to death. It worked a little, but every once in a while some of it escapes and I want to gag...

What a wonderful way to start my day.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

A Nice Way to Start the Day


Wonder how many of you ever read the line under the title of my blog. It's kinda like my mantra in life ever since I learnt that poem in secondary school. For the working person (and for students definitely), I think it's like a constant reminder: what is life, if full of care, we have no time to stand and stare.

One thing I realized when I leave for work every morning is that the sky can be really beautiful. No, I am not being poetic or anything, I just think it really looks nice. Have you looked at the sky lately?

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

JMAG Tour

Feeling kinda proud... I've fulfilled one of my dreams in planning a Manga, Anime and Tokyo Game Show tour. It's being launched under the name JMAG (Japan Manga, Anime & Games). I'm not too sure if people are gonna sign up for it, but I think it's a start!

Take a look at the blog I've set up for it: JMAG2007.blogspot.com

Here's the flyer(updated).

Disturbia


Disturbia has been getting some decent reviews in the media. So when I was given the chance to go catch a special screening tonite, I jumped at the opportunity.

The movie stars the golden boy of the season, Shia Labeouf (of the recent Transformers movie fame) as a kid going thru a rough patch and ends up undergoing house arrest with that thingamajig tied to his ankle to prevent him from leaving his house. To pass his time, he starts observing his neighbours closely, learning their habits and their secrets too. Of course, as with any Hollywood movie, there has to be the obligatory love interest and the act-cool asian sidekick. Thru his spying, he ends up suspecting that his neighbour is actually a serial murderer. The remainder of the movie is basically an edge-of-the-seat ride that ping pongs you between 'yes he's a murderer' to 'no he is not'.

The movie really follows the typical paranoid-thriller formula. You know, the sudden shocks with someone touching your shoulder or breaking through a door kinda cliches. But surprisingly, it all works. And it works very well. Despite knowing that these things were going to happen, the director still manages to catch me off guard and gives me a few shocks along the way. And the edge of the seat moments are really good - at moments, the tension is so tight I almost felt my blood vessels bursting.

So what makes this movie tick? I think I must give credit to Shia Labeouf. He really does a pretty credible job of acting (and not over-acting) his role. The supporting roles are also fleshed out nicely. The cliched asian side-kick was not too irritating and manages to draw some laughs, especially at the start with his 'kick-ass' spanish. And taking the role of Shia's mom is non other than the Matrix-woman, Carrie-Ann Moss. She looks so motherly and... fleshy... that it's kinda hard to imagine that this was the same woman in the Matrix. Last but not least, we have the suspicious neighbour, portrayed by David Morse. David who? Haha.. he has actually acted in many movies, but never really in the A-list roles. I remember him best as Jodie Foster's dad in CONTACT. He's pretty creepy in Disturbia.... keeps you guessing if he is really evil... or not...

Disturbia is a surprising hit for me. I thought that after The Simpsons Movie, there would be a slump of good movies. Don't miss this thriller. Highly recommended.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Grey skies

On my way home... Look at the dark skies. Hoping to rush home before it pours.


Looks kinda ominous. Maybe Voldemort's coming? lolz..

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

This weekend was dedicated to Harry Potter's new book, all 607 pages of it. I am quite impressed with myself that I managed to finish the whole book by 12.30am on Monday morning (basically Sunday night, 30mins past midnight lar).

So how was the last book? I've given my comments below but have whitened them out coz they are full of spoilers and I dun like to ruin the book for any of you who are still reading it. So simply use your mouse to highlight the paragraphs below to read my comments...

SPOILER ALERT

Who dies?
The biggest question on everyone's minds is who dies? I think JK Rowling (JKR) noes everyone is guessing like mad so she was kinda notti coz she makes sure there is more than one death. So as I read the book, I kept wondering, is this THE death everyone is talking about. It starts of with Mad-eye dying... I was like.. hmm.. ok... so he dies. Then a surprised for me was when Dobby the house elf appeared in the story to save Harry and his friends from the Malfoys and ends up getting killed. Having read the two deaths, I thought.. ok lor, Harry won't be dying liaoz. Then more deaths occur... Fred Weasley, Remus Lupin and his new wife Tonks. Then came Severus Snape. That caught me offguard a little. And finally, JKR decides to kill Harry too!! For a few pages anyway. He comes back to life and kills Voldemort (of course). Quite alot of deaths I must say. For me, the most stirring death was a fight between Dobby's and Harry's. But since Harry doesn't realli die, I must say I really like how Dobby's death and burial was handled.

Is Harry a Horcrux?
Yeah... this was pretty much guessed by everyone. It wasn't difficult to guess that Voldemort has a piece of his soul in Harry since Harry survived his attack as a baby. So, I kinda also knew that Harry would somehow had to get rid of that piece of Voldy's soul at the end. The onli question was would Harry have to die.

Will Dumbledore come back?
I was betting that Dumbledore will pull a phoenix and resurrect somewhere in this last book. Well, I lost that bet. He does appear to chit chat with Harry at the end but he doesn't come back. Guess that might have been just a little too cliched if he did.

Is Snape evil?
Up till the very last few chapters, Snape is still seen to be evil. So, although I was guessing he was actually good, I had given up on it 3/4 way through the book. But, that was all resolved when Harry picked up Snape's memories when he died and looked thru them in the Pensieve in Dumbledore's office. A nice back story I think. Kinda sad to learn about the relationship between Snape and Lily (Harry's mom).

Best section?
I realli liked the battle at Hogwarts. The whole battle lasted around 100 pages out of the 600page book. I thought it was done very well, very epic. It had everyone coming back to help, it had good vs evil, it had giants and gigantic spiders... very exciting stuff. I can't wait to see how they handle this in the movie. It will really be a fitting end to the whole movie series if they did this on the scale of LOTR battles.
Coming in a close second is the whole Gringotts affair... how they break in to how they escape. I can just imagine the dragon guarding the vault (awesome image) and how they had to hunt for the Horcrux among all the treasures. Good stuff.

YAWN parts?
Some parts were a little slow but it doesn't realli spoil the pacing too much. The sense of time through the whole book seemed just a little off to me coz they sometimes spent weeks just thinking of where to go to look for the next Horcrux. Sounded like an awful waste of time. I also didn't really get the last section '19 years later'. So we find out who marries who and wat they name their kids. But.. so what? It's a little hard to try to imagine Harry, Ron, Hermione and Ginny 19 years later and the short section doesn't do much to give them much character. I thought I could do without that part.

So is it any good?
The simple answer is yes. I enjoyed the book and it was a decent ending to the entire series. I think JKR has mentioned that she won't be writing anymore Harry Potter stories, but I think it might be interesting for her to tell other stories like maybe Dumbledore's adventures? Well, books may have ended but still have two movies to go. And I'll probably have to reread Half-blood prince and Deathly Hallows one more time to try to understand the stories better.

Pottermania

Yep, I'm also caught up in the whole pottermania. I know... not small kid liaoz... but hey, I'm not gonna miss out on the last book after reading the first 6... more than a few times each! lolz.

I didn't want to pre-order my book coz I wasn't really very attracted by the pre-order gifts. I was quite amused with the article in LIFE on Friday about the different incentives the bookshops were offering to get people to go to their shops at 7.01am in the morning to get the book. Most shops were offering T-shirts, vouchers, free gifts, etc, etc. This one shop (I can't remember the name) was offering..... the chance to open the box and get your picture taken with the first book from the box!!! WOW! ROFL.

Anyway, I decided that Carrefour was giving the best offer... a $20 carrefour voucher, free vcd and a goody bag. My friends and I then decided, what the heck, let's go blow our Saturday morning by waking up at unearthly hours (for a Saturday morning) to queue up for the book.

Woke up at 5.30am on Saturday morning and took a bus and MRT to Plaza Singapura. The usual entrance from the MRT was closed... mildy irritating... so we exited by main MRT exit and entered Plaza Sing to find that the book launch was at basement 2.... kinda stupid, considering the entrance at B2 from the mRT was closed. It was already 6.40am so we were kinda wondering if we would get our voucher coz it was onli for the first 200 customers. When we reached the entrance.. we found to our amusement, that there were onli about 20 customers ahead of us. lolz.


So, we waited patiently in line for abt 20mins, and they promptly opened at 7am with no fanfare and started selling the books. I was mildly disappointed at the lack of any event... I mean.. no music.. no atmosphere... no effort. Quite lame. The goodie bags were piled in a carrefour cart, and the whole place was just quite YAWN. But, nevermind lor, my purpose was to get the voucher and the book. And I achieved both happily! When we left, there were about 50 people in the queue. I thought it was a little sad until I went to Suntec...

My frenz and I decided to go to the Burger King at Suntec for breakfast. We remembered Harris (the upmarket version of Popular) was having their launch at Suntec so we decided to pop by for a look. It was even SADDER than Suntec. They had two people dressed up in what appeared to be Hagrid and Dumbledore, but it was seriously pathetic. They looked like they hadn't eaten in months. And we found out from a salesperson that they had less than 10 people there when the doors opened. lolz.

I guess Harry Potter is popular, but not much that Singaporeans will go head over heels to buy the book. I wonder how good were the first day sales.

Well, it was fun queuing up with my friends and having breakfast at BK. And the book... well.. that will be my next post!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Lovely weather

Out for lunch right now and I must say I love the weather. There's a slight rain (not heavy enough to get you drenched) and a light wind. And it's not humid. So shiok.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Morning musings

It's 8.05am right now and I'm in the 572 bus on the way to work. Feeling a little sleepy as usual, but I thank God that I have a comfortable direct bus to work. Of course, I wish I didn't need to wake up so early but hey, we gotta sacrfice something to make some money so we can enjoy other things in life yah?

I've been a little under the weather lately. have this persistent blocked nose and a somewhat sore-ish throat. Gotta go get my ingrown nail cut again today... Sigh... Pain pain. Work's fine but I do miss my freedom. Wonder which I value more....

Monday, July 09, 2007

Irritations - Taxi Drivers

I've wanted to blog about this for a long time but kinda held back. But over the last few days, I had a few unpleasant experiences which 'motivated' me to blog now.

This week alone, I've encountered 3 types of drivers which really get on my nerve.

1. The know-it-all
I had this driver who was bringing me to Temasek Poly. We weren't sure where the lecture theatre was, so I asked him to ask the guards. This fella just REFUSED to ask anyone. He kpet saying 'Aiya, I know lar, it's around here lar...' and come on... Temasek Poly is a huge poly. Worse still, he started following another taxi coz he said that taxi was going the same place I was going!!! And he didn't even ask the other driver or anything. I was so irritated coz he was so adamant about following the other driver when he didn't noe where the other driver was going. Through it all, he was laughing and joking as the meter jumped and jumped. ARGH. Finally, on my insistence, he asked a guard who showed us which way to turn, which happened to be on the OTHER side of the campus. Sigh.

2. The talker
I'm not an unfrenly guy. But oftentimes, when I am in a cab, I just want to rest/play my psp/read my magazine. I don't mind chatting with the driver some times, but if I don't want to, I wish the driver would get the hint and stop. I think sticking two earphones into my ears is quiet a clear indication. Anyway, yesterday, I had this driver who was so interested in my media player. Here was I trying to watch a programme on my media player and there he was, asking me question after question about the media player... 'what is that', 'what does it do', 'where did you get the programme', 'do you need a computer to make it work', etc, etc ,etc. Of course, there are other drivers who try to engage you in the all kinds of topics. And they pry into all areas... 'what do you do', 'why are you not in office', why are you going here', 'when did you leave NS', 'how old are you', etc, etc, etc. SIGH. These are really irritating.

3. The stinker
This is probably the worse kind. There are a select few taxi-drivers who really, seriously have a body odour problem. I dunno if the cab companies give personal grooming courses to these drivers, but sometimes, when I step into a cab, I get totally overwhelmed by the stale scent of the driver's BO. The worst thing is... I can't get out! Because, before I can even react, I would have already closed the door. It doesn't help that Singapore is a warm and humid place and we are undergoing our warmest period of the year right now. Today, I had just such an experience. I was waiting for a cab for almost 20mins and was so glad when I saw an empty cab coming in my direction. I was thinking 'Finally... Some luck!'. But when I slipped into the cab... Oh-My-Goodness.... there was this wave of odour which just invaded my nostrils. So for the next 20mins or so, I had to just pretend that everything was ok and try to take real shallow breaths.

So there you have it... Taxi-drivers which drive me up the wall.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Transformers

This is one AWESOME movie.

AWESOME robots kicking serious robot ass.

WATCH IT.

Nuff said.

PS. If you are interested only in story, this is so NOT the movie for you. Go watch something like... 'Little Women' or 'Lord of the Flies'. This is a summer popcorn movie. And a pretty good one too!

Loooong Day

Wow, it's only my second day on the job and I left my office only at 10pm! Heh, a sign of things to come?

I've been thinking about posting about food... maybe I'll start talking more about places with yummy food.

Monday, July 02, 2007

My New Workplace

Here's where I'm working right now. Smack in the middle of Shenton Way (actually, it's Robinson Road) and just diagonally opposite Lau Pa Sat.

Today was my first day at work. My biggest challenge? Getting out of bed at 7.15am. lolz.... It has been many many MANY months since I'd had to wake up that early and believe me when I say I had to drag myself out of bed. Worse still, I couldn't sleep at an super early, ungodly hour of 1am last nite! I just laid in bed for what seems like 2-3 hours before finally drifting off to sleep. Miraculously, I stayed awake the whole day at work!

It also seems that I'm quite lucky that I have pretty easy transport options to work. I can either hope on the MRT (super crowded this morning) or pay $2.50 for a one-way trip on the school buses which do a run between Serangoon Gardens and Shenton Way via the CTE. Very convenient indeed!

Working hours are kinda long... 9am to 6.30pm... phew, looks like no more weekday afternoon movies. lolz. Sigh, already missing my slacker days.

Now to find good places for lunch!

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Sunday Paper Blooper

Saw this in today's New Paper (Yes, I do read that thrashy paper... it's a handy lunchtime reading material). At first, I thought.. wow... must be a real amateur competition to offer $23 for a top prize... but of course, our dear New Paper made a mistake... is was supposed to be $23m (as in $23 million) US dollars. heh.

New Day New Directions

It's the start of a new chapter of my life so I decided a blog template revamp would be a right way to go. Furthermore, spending time setting up the new elements will keep me busy after work (other than wow-ing of course).

Tomorrow, I will be starting a new full-time job. Well, I guess it isn't new as in totally new, but new as in it kinda marks a decision on my part to put my commitment into something for the next couple of years.

It's hard to imagine, but it's been almost 10 months since I left RI. And I've actually not had any full-time job since then. Scary actually. Of course, my income has been severely cut but I've still been living a fairly comfortable lifestyle (Lego, movies, travelling, etc) from the freelance work that I've been doing. As a friend of mine reminded me, being jobless is very addictive. And the longer I stay unemployed, the harder it gets to get back to the grind of a full-time job.

So why did I decide to start working full-time again? Well, I guess to be very practical, I do need to start getting a more stable source of income. Let's face it, no money, no luxuries (like Lego, movies and travelling). So that's one factor. Another factor is the opportunity has presented itself for me to take on something on a slightly more entrepreneurial nature. My new job (while similar to my freelance work) will give me the opportunity to do logistics management, event management, planning of new travel programmes and a host of other stuff. It's hard to pass up the chance to work in an environment where I will be allowed to explore doing whatever I really like.

I'm gonna miss slacking. And for now, I'm also missing teaching. But I'm excited to take on the new challenges and try to make something of this opportunity.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

From New York City...

Blogging from New York City. Tomorrow is my last day here and I'll be flying off on Monday afternoon, New York Time.

The trip has been a mixed bag so far. It's been a while since I led a tour overseas so I guess I'm a little rusty.

One highlight was a visit to Salem, the place where the famous Salem Witch Trials were held. One of my all-time favourite plays is THE CRUCIBLE by Arthur Miller. And it was awesome to visit the place where it all began. We visited the Witch Dungeon Museum where there was a short re-enactment of the trial from actual transcripts. It was really good. Below is a pic of the stage. The mannequins look a little cheesy but believe me, once the two actors took the stage, I was just so drawn into the scene.


Tonight, the coach driver brought us to Hamilton Park in New Jersey to take a night photo of the New York City skyline. I've been to New York City a few times, but never had a chance to take a proper night pic. Must say the city looks very beautiful at night. The tallest building in the pic with the green/red top is the famous Empire State Building.

Ok, I'll probably talk more about the trip when I get home. Am looking forward to laksa as usual! lolz.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

June holidays... time to get busy!

Sorry for the lack of posts in the last week or so. No excuse, just plain lazy to post. lolz. Well, here's a bumper crop of reviews of some movies I've caught. Actually there's one more I watched but I don't think I'll bother putting up a review... NEXT... it's quite a silly movie with Nicholas Cage trying so hard to NOT act his age. Getting quite tired of him trying to be young. heh.

Anyway, I'm gonna be travelling over the next few weeks. I'm freelancing with a travel company and I'll be helping to lead two tours over the June holidays. The first one is to New York and Boston next week and the next one is to Japan sometime in the middle of the June holidays. Yep, the two countries I like best! It's been a while since I last led a tour... specifically, almost 6 years coz that's when I left Ken-Air and joined RI. I'm kinda looking forward to it, but as with all new experiences, there is some apprehension with leading a group again after so long.

Yeah, some of you are gonna say it sounds so lucky that I get to travel. Truth is, it's a mixed bag of feelings. While it's lucky to be able to travel to work, it's also quite a huge responsibility coz I've gotta take care of the group and make sure nothing goes too wrong. lolz. Of course, I won't deny that it will be fun to visit these places again, even if I won't be able to do my own things like when I travel on my own for leisure. Will probably be bringing my laptop, so I'll be able to blog while I'm away. Gonna miss the opening of Shrek... who knows, maybe I'll catch it in the US. heh.

Pirates of the Caribbean 3: At World's End

OK, I admit it, having a fictictious Singapore play a small role in a major blockbuster movie was a big kick in itself. It was fun to see Singapore portrayed as an irreverant pirates den, though I believe this might not be totally untruthful of Singapore's ancient past.

I didn't really expect much from POTC3. Frankly, I didn't think POTC2 was very good. I felt the story was getting too complicated for its own good. Well, I think POTC3 is a little better than 2 but the first movie is still the best.

Johnny Depp goes back to being a little more fun in this movie, not trying to be too serious like in POTC2. Of course, all eyes are on Chow Yun Fatt to see how he can carry his role in a Hollywood blockbuster. Well, here is a case where I thought Chow spoke too well. haha.. I know I shouldn't be subscribing to hollywood stereotypes, but to see an ancient chinese pirate speaking in almost perfect american english with little accent just feels wrong.

Story wise, it's also a little better with some cool ship battle scenes thrown in. The effects for the movie are pretty good. Quite awesome to see the sea waters swirling around.

I'm guessing this is one movie which will do well regardless of the reviews. So, go watch it and enjoy it. Just don't expect too much from it.

Blades of Glory

This is one heck of a funny movie.

I really enjoyed it coz it doesn't really pretend to be anything more than it really is... a simple campy look at the world of competitive ice-skating. Of course, it's totally politically incorrect as it plays up all the stereotypes of ice-skaters. Hence, expect scenes of effeminate guys and macho women. lolz.

There are some drop dead funny scenes. Some of the skating routines alone are worth the ticket price! Take my advice, don't be late for the movie. The first two routines which show the difference between the skating styles of the two leads is hilarious. Will Ferrell is pretty ok in the movie, he hasn't reached my irritation levels so far.

So, if you're looking for some good laughs, don't miss out on this. Probably one of the funnier movies in recent months.

Hula Girls

Last Week, I was invited to go for a special preview screening of HULA GIRLS by the Japan Tourist Board. I must admit that I wasn't too keen on going coz (1) there were some outstanding work which I was rushing and (2) with a title like HULA GIRLS, it doesn't exactly sound like a very interesting movie. I'm glad to say that in end, I was very wrong.

The movie is basically about a small mining city in 1965 Japan and how they struggled to come to terms with how their economy was dying and how they need to move on with the times when someone comes into town to start a Hawaiian tourist resort in the city. The movie boasts some really strong performances by the leads, especially the two girls who struggle to be more than what they were expected to be.... simple daughters of coal miners. Of course, there are the usual gags of how the girls from the city struggle with learning to dance and worse still, dancing in bikinis. lolz... But these were handled very well and never become campy.

The music is also really good. I've been looking for the CD since watching the movie but no luck yet. It's by this fella, Jake Shimabukuro. Anyone knows where to get his CD in Singapore?

HULA GIRLS is one of those shows I think will never last in the cinemas. It's due to be released on 31 May only at The Cathay and many people will probably just skip it. Well, if you are interested in a heartwarming story about people overcoming their traditions, don't miss out on this. I'm almost sure you won't regret it.

Check out the official site here.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

More 8-bit pics

Heh, managed to do two more lego mosaic designs. The one on the left is Rockman. Anyone wanna guess who is the one on the right? Prize is a pat on the back!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

New Lego Mosaic

The new Lego Mosaic was just released a couple of days ago in Singapore. It's basically a collection of lego 1x1 pieces which are arranged on a transparent 16x16 grid lego plate to form designs. Of course, the included designs are kinda kiddish as you can see below. Not too expensive, $29.90 for a large box and $14.90 for a small one.

I have some strange attraction to this 16x16 pixel art coz the old arcade/video games like Pacman and Mario were designed to fit a 16x16 grid. I think they call them 8-bit graphics. Anyway, I looked up some pics on the net and put together a blue pacman ghost and a pretty nice mario mushroom. Whaddya think?

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Favourite Singapore Adverts

Was at Forum Galleria yesterday morning when I saw this poster for those Children Learning Centre. I'm a little curious why anyone would want to give their child a chance to excel in Hyperactivity, Clumsiness and Learning Disability.... lolz....

Friday, May 11, 2007

PURE TEMPTATION

OMG! OMG! OMG! Just look at this special edition Simpsons Movie Xbox360! I want to sell mine to get this new one!


Thursday, May 03, 2007

Lucky me! - LUCKY YOU

On Monday, I was invited by Golden Village to go for a preview screening of Lucky You, a new movie starring Eric Bana (of Hulk fame) and Drew Barrymore (my favouritest actress).

As I did with my previous reviews on movies starring Drew Barrymore, I would like to warn you that I tend to be biased with any movie starring my dahling. lolz.

So, how was Lucky You? It was quite nice actually. Not as fun as MUSIC & LYRICS but it's quite watchable. It's basically a movie about playing Texas Poker (I think) and how a sweet innocent girl (Drew at her sweetest and innocenest) is able to change the cold logical heart of a professional gambler (Eric Bana).

Frankly, this movie is pretty by the book, so don't expect any twists and turns. I did get a simple lesson on Texas Poker and I think I at least understand how to play it a little. Heh. I'm sure the Las Vegas casinos must have invested in the film. I can imagine many non-gamblers thinking about trying it out after learning it from the movie.

This is the kind of movie you go to if you are a gambling addict or in the mood for a chick flick. For me, it's neither. I went coz it starred my dear drew. lolz. (i noe i sound like an idiot but I dun care).

So go watch it when it's released! Support Drew!

Spiderman 3

Was really looking forward to this movie. Actually, I was looking forward to the months of May, June and July. Other than Spiderman 3, there's Shrek 3, Pirates of the Carribean 3, Harry Potter 5 & Transformers, just to name a few! So Spiderman 3 kinda starts the entire summer movie craze.

With expectations running high, I guess you could say that it would be very hard for Spidey3 to meet them. And I think Spidey3 falls short in some areas but does meet up to the expected standards in others.

Marvel decided to give the fanboys everything. And nowadays, I am coming to the realization that more doesn't always mean better. In this case, I don't know how wise it was to have three villains in the story: Sandman, Venom & Green Goblin's son. While attempts were made to flesh out the backgrounds/characters, it was quite a rush job and you never really feel for the poor Sandman and his conflicts. Venom is supposed to be quite terrifying. But other than a few cheap shocks (you know, the sudden face grabs-jump out at you moments) and the snarly teeth pics, venom doesn't really do much more. And Green Goblin's son? Well, nothing new and interesting here. He puts on his father's costume and tries to kill Spidey for killing his dad.

The story also tries too hard to be dramatic. So much so that at times, it almost feels like watching a soap opera. It has too many coincidental moments. You know, spidey is happy, wants to propose, girl gets into bad luck, wants to tell spidey, spidey is overly excited, doesn't hear, girl gets upset, spidey gets bad news, girl comes over, spidey brushes her off, AWWWWW.... heartbreak. And the director/writer does this pretty often in this movie. So after a while, it just felt poorly directed.

OK, I'm not saying Spidey3 is a bad movie. Actually, despite the above, I still enjoyed the movie. I guess I just wished it was even better. I liked some of the action sequences. Pretty well choreographed. Effects were very good too. The scene where Sandman is born and how he tries to take his first step is very well done. (Unfortunately, after that, the effects crew decided to emulate the sand storms in Mummy Returns, so it got kinda cheesy). Venom also looked pretty good. There were some nice lighthearted moments in the movie. Peter Parker turning to the bad side (when he wore the black costume) was quite hilarious. But the thing is, it almost felt out of place coz it stared feeling very b-gradey at that point.

I think I liked Spidey 2 best. But it would be a tough fight between spidey 1 and 3. Spidey 1 had a sucky villain but it had the privilege of introducing spiderman to us. Spidey 3 had much much more action and 3 villains, but the whole movie didn't seem to gel as well.

Haha, but regardless of wat I say, I'm pretty sure half (if not all) of Singapore would probably go watch it. Have fun!

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Daiso Rocks

I discovered Daiso a long time ago when I visited IMM a long time ago. Thought it had excellent variety for the $2 price tag. Of course, considering that in Japan, this would be like the local 'Hyaku-en shop' (or 100 yen shop) which converts to only S$1.35 nowadays, Daiso must be earning heaps thanks to the exchange rate!
Anyway, due to the Rhythm of Kyushu event, I've been visiting Daiso a little more, but it was only yesterday when I discovered they had these mini 130-piece puzzles. Quite nice quality for $2. I've been thinking of doing a puzzle of The Tower of Babel by Pieter Brueghel d. for a long time. Since this was only 2 bucks, heh, I thought why not. Took me about 15mins to finish this I think. Quite nice, no?

The Rhythm of Kyushu - Reflections

It's taken about 2 days and I can't say I've recovered but at least I'm functioning more normally. Lolz.

The Rhythm of Kyushu (RoK) has been a pretty interesting experience for me. I think the most significant thing for me is that it's the first time I've ever planned a public event. In the past, it has always been in fairly controlled conditions. I know who are the audience, where it'll be held, what time we are gonna do what, how everything is coming into place, etc, etc. This time, it's been almost the opposite. I don't know how many people will come (or even if people will come at all!), I had to go find a venue for it to be held, I was held ransom by the weather and I didn't noe how to do many of the things. And I think because of this, it's been fairly stressful (especially towards the end) but also very educational for me. And I think that's something I've craved coz one of the reasons why I left RI was to pick up new skills and learn new things.

It was interesting to learn how to arrange with contractors to put up canvas backdrops, exhibition stands, tie up with sponsors (who of course wanted their brand name to be advertised), design and print posters, and the list goes on and on. Another big difference was that in RI, I had an army of students to work on the project. I pretty much worked on RoK with a core team of .... 4 persons. So each person really had to do much more. But I'm glad it turned out well.

I think I'm personally proud of two things in particular: (1) the Taiko Drum Competition and (2) the exhibition.

It was really a godsend to find Namiko Sensei who worked with us to conduct the Taiko Drum workshops and Competition. I am very impressed with what the students were able to put up after about only 7 hours of workshop! And the crowds at the two group rounds was really quite good. I thought it was extrememly successful! Wouldn't mind organizing more of such competitions.

The exhibition was the other thing I was quite happy with. Although it might not seem like much, but I learned quite a bit in terms of using the graphics editing software and preparing stuff for printers. Also thought the poster boards turned out well. Must say that I am extremely thankful for one of the staff members for working on the small pics which went onto the boards. We had to review the boards via the phone until like 5am so that it could be sent to the printers in time! Lolz. Talk about stress!


Of course, it wasn't a perfect event and some things went wrong, but I think on the whole I definitely learnt quite a bit. It's my first time doing a public event (hopefully not the last....) and I think on the whole, it should be a pass grade. :D

Monday, April 30, 2007

So glad the event is over! Glad coz it's the culmination of over 3 mths of planning. And glad coz I think it went on quite well. Gonna sleep first. Will blog abt it another day.

Shiokz. BEDTIME!

Friday, April 27, 2007

American Idol - COP OUT!

I'm really busy with some work but I can't help but log in to rant that this week's result show is such a COP OUT!

They keep announcing through the night that tonite's elimination will be a shocker. So we watch and wait and wait and watch. What happens at the end? NO ONE GETS SENT HOME!??!

Votes can rolled over to next week and they add up the votes for two weeks.

That's such a cop out!!! I am really disappointed at such a lousy conclusion.

I hope someone in America sues American Idol for this. Come on... you make people spend time and money to vote to support their favourite, then at the end, say, hey, it doesn't matter?!! Another way of looking at it could be, possibly, Haley was lowest and supposed to go back. But they don't want to let her go, so they say combine two weeks of votes instead. Come on man... Haley's fans noe she is in bottom and might call like siao next week. Where got fair?

Dunno why I'm so upset by this. Maybe work too sianz rite now. heh. okok... enough ranting. Back to work.

But before that, one more time... AMERICAN IDOL IS SUCH A COP OUT!

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

The Rhythm of Kyushu!

It's almost here, so now I am gonna make some shameless advertising!

Sorry for the lack of updates the last few weeks. It's partly due to WoW, but it's also because the first major public event I am organizing is fast approaching!


Yepz, this Sunday, I'll actually be organizing a promotion fair for Kumamoto Prefectural Governement & Minamata City at Junction 8. You can see the poster below. It's been a really rough but enriching ride. Similar to the events I've organized in the past in RI but also very different coz of the scale and the target audience (this time being the public!).


The last two weeks has seen a build in the intensity of preparations. This week is pretty much when the proverbial s#!% hits the roof. :P. Quite normal I guess, since it's expected that there will be plenty of stuff to tie up as the event approaches. Two weeks ago, we started the Taiko Drum workshops and my arms were pretty much dead for the 3 days following the workshop. I don't think they've moved that much in a very long time. Last week saw the completion of the Japanese Calligraphy Competition.


It's quite fun getting busy again. Of course on one hand, there's this inertia after slacking for quite a while, but on the other hand, it's nice to feel the rush and anticipation of see an event coming together.


The event is this Sunday. There'll be the Taiko Drum finals (quite exciting I think) and other stuff happening. Take a look at the poster below. So, if you're free, come support me by dropping by Junction 8 from 12noon to 8pm... and oh yes, there's free Uzumaki ice cream too! (that's if you take part in some activities lar... nothing's really free you know. :P).



Tuesday, April 17, 2007

PC Frustrations Again

Had a horrible scare on Sunday evening.

I'd finally decided to get a new colour inkjet printer coz I needed to do colour prints for a project I'm handling. I'd been using my trusty Samsung laser printer for a couple of years coz I could do my colour prints in school previously.

Anyway, after some consideration, I went for the Canon Pixma IP4200. Nice little printer that isn't too expensive. Actually, I thought for the prints it produced, it was pretty reasonably priced. And what I liked were the separate ink tanks. So, I bought the printer and decided to rearrange my desk so that I could put the printer there as well. I happily unplugged all the connections from my CPU, cleaned up the table and wires and reconnected everything. Then I eagerly hit the power button on my CPU and..... nothing happened. SIANZ. I tried a couple of times, reconnected the cables, switched cables, etc, but the CPU refused to power up.

For those of you who have tinkered with your PCs, I think you know how frustrating it is when a PC dies. And troubleshooting is a painful and slow process coz a million things could have gone wrong. I remember once when I spent hours trying to get a router to work only to find that the only thing I did wrong was not upgrade the firmware. :S

So, yesterday (ie. Monday), I carried my PC to Sim Lim, found a little repair shop at the corner of the second floor and asked the repair guy desperately for help. After some poking around, he suggested that one obvious problem (which may or may not be the actual problem) is that I had a power supply which could not support my PC. Since I bought it 3 years ago, I had added RAM, a second harddisk and upgraded by graphics card. And my dell's power supply wasn't built to support the extra parts. So, this could be a possible problem. What to do? Change power supply lor. Ended up spending about 300 bucks for a new power supply. Tested everything, seemed to work. So I happily brought my PC home.

Bet you can guess what happened next.

I plugged in everything and happily hit the power switch. The PC powered up, but nothing came out on the screen. SIGH. I opened the casing, checked every connection I could see in case I had shaken it loose during the transportation. Then I closed it and hit the power switch. Nothing again. I opened the casing AGAIN. Hit the power switch. It worked! Yay! So I powered down. Closed the casing. Powered up. Nothing came on the screen and to make matters worse, the CPU's fan started going haywire! I was really gonna cry. This went on a couple more times, then finally, when I tried the power button, my PC started up properly.

I have no idea what went wrong and how the problem was solved.

My pc has been working find since yesterday and I'm keeping my fingers crossed that it'll stay fine for a long time. Really not looking to buy a new motherboard/CPU anytime soon coz I'm pretty satisfied with the processing power of my current PC.

PCs. Sigh.

My new printer and my old power supply.