Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Finally started adding to my portfolio again.. I've stopped really shooting since I entered army, though now that I'm finally going to ORD, maybe things will change. Anyway, enjoy! This was taken May 26 2003, in a garden home in California..


I've been reading http://tomorrow.sg for about a week now.. I don't know if I like all the content that's been posted, but just bumping around the sites there are quite a few that I'd go back to read (and one even has a nice jazz soundtrack in the bg!)

So to me it seems good. Haven't signed up with the site yet. It gives me mucho stress -- I think these guys write really good blogs and mine is frankly of little interest to anyone other than key.. hahaha.. Mom used to read it when I was overseas but now I'm in collaring distance so why would she want to?

Haiz.. I'm whatcha might call a bland personality.. you know, the kind of "he's a nice guy" types who don't have much of an edge, just boring and safe. Even today, now, at this very moment I'm very surprised, bemused, just pure stunned that i'm with my darling key...

Monday, May 30, 2005

Honey Milk Tea!

Key got me a honey milk tea for dinner drink!

Hee... I love honey milk tea!! My favorite drink of all the bubble teas, and actually it seems better than ice Milo too... hmmm... got to figure out the mix for it, then can make for myself!

Fire somewhere in Singapore?

Key was sending me back to camp, heading onto TPE off Old Tampines, when we saw the weirdest glow in the horizon, roughly north north west.. maybe Sembawang or Sengkang? Red glow, with white clouds heading upwards. Made me think fire, but no report in the papers.. was I the only one who saw it? Or did I miss the report?

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Star Wars III

Caught Star Wars with Junx today.. heh, Key wouldn't touch it with a stick! It seemed quite a bit better than the previous two. Still, I thought the cutting at the start was awful!

See, you have Anakin and Leia talking on a balcony.. "Oh, you're so pretty" "You're blinded by love" yada yada time 4 lines each. Then, cheesy scene change, not a straight cut but some powerpoint-ish transition that is so eighties, and you see Anakin's dream, then them in bed, and so on and so forth. They keep doing those powerpoint transitions every thirty seconds! George Lucas is just trying to cram all this information into the first half of the movie so he can justify everything that happens later, and it makes for a really broken up movie.

It does get better once Obiwan goes after Grevious on his own.. from there on, the movie rolls very smoothly..

I thought it was really poignant, how we saw the Jedi dying one by one, being betrayed by the Clones... it's too bad that it seems most of the Jedi, other than Windu, Yoda and Obiwan, are just a bunch of general wusses who get owned by the clones, but still.. very poignant.. Nevertheless, I think Star Wars 1 through 3 aren't really good movies on their own, they can be considered good only when you watch them with the significance of the events in episodes 4 through 6 in mind.. Kind of like how only Infernal Affairs I is really good, and the other two are only really enjoyable once you know the storyline in I.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Bottom of the Well

I'm down at the bottom of the well.
It's night, and the rain is coming down.
The sides are falling in,
and there's no rope to climb.
I'm down at the bottom of the well.

That's how I felt just a few short weeks ago. Was reading Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time again and one of Mat Cauthon's songs struck a chord in me. Ah well. I can't say the situation has changed, but at least I don't feel so bad anymore..

Band of Brothers

Was reading Jimmy's blog. He's blogged twice since Nov 2004, so when I read about his watching Band of Brothers last year, I sudden;y felt like watching it.. so now I am! It's not fantastic as I thought it might be but maybe that's cos I'm distracted half the time. Still, watching it now..

Liverpool won!!! hahaha... I've slept most of the morning away now. It was just pure amazing.. After Maldini's goal I was already down, and when Crespo added two more? I didn't think the referee screwed us over at all, and it didn't make things better when Key's bro was like, "The game's over, I can go sleep now!" He was cheerful! Guess it's easier when you just support good football, you can always support the better side. For me, I just couldn't go to sleep even though watching an avalance was torture. I was thinking, what if? What if Liverpool actually came back and I missed the rest of the match? That would have been AWFUL! So I hung on, and as the second half ticked away I was like, "Wow, they're doing better, but it's not enough!" Then Shevchenko almost scored, and then Riise's cross bounced off the defender, and then he came back at it for a second try, Gerrard was there, and I was thinking "That's not possible!" And I was just off the sofa! Couldn't shout and scream, but boy did I want to! And after the replays, when they switched back to the game, Liverpool had the ball again, and I was feeling good, and Smicer scored! Fabulous, fabulous goal, and before my disbelief could end, replay was over, Liverpool had the ball again, and suddenly Gerrard was true, and down, and the penalty!

I had a bad feeling about the penalty, but Alonso managed to tap in his rebound even after the save.. Haha.. at that point in my heart I was cheering and screaming and dancing around and feeling ashamed that I'd ever doubted them... And when 3 minutes before penalties Shevchenko broke through my heart was in my mouth, but somehow, somehow, Dudek saved! And when it came to penalties... omg! It's just retribution for my glee during FA Cup Final's penalty shootout, but I'm glad we won!! HAHAHAHAHAHAAHAHAHAHA!!!! Now, if only, if only, we would be allowed to defend that title!

Gerrard, you rock!!!!

A big Liverpool night part I

It's 2am now in Singapore and half the TV sets in Singapore must be on.. The Champion's League Final for Liverpool! I've been a Liverpool fan since I was ten and first started readong the newspapers. Perhaps it's fate that the first article I remember reading is our 9-0 thrashing of Crystal Palace, a match so well remembered that when I visited Anfield in 2001, the article was framed up in the stadium tour. Still, over the years since Souness and the beginning of our sunset years, we've disappointed terribly.. There was Houllier's five-trophy year, and the horrible disappointment of the 4-3 loss to Leverkusen in the Champion's League semi-final the following year ( That match was awesome, worth watching all on it's own even though we got knocked out) and even this year the EPL was a terrible disappointment and we won't be in Champion's League next year unless we win tonight..

I don't know what to expect. Shevchenko's scary! But I'll be watching and hoping, and maybe a blog at the end!

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Shifting around...

The day's been pretty tiring. Sis was having a new bed brought in for Erin, and required Zeal and me to do quite a bit of shifting. Tear a table down, rebuild it somewhere else, tear a bed down, etc, and so on. But Erin was very pleased with her bed once it arrived...

Erin: I like the new bed. Better than old bed.
Sis: Erin, since you like the new bed, then the old bed can give mei-mei right?
(Sis is expecting her 2nd child in August)
Erin: Okay!

Well, anyway, I'm expecting to do some shifting at home too. Sis is going to give us a spare wireless router, and so I've got to configure to take advantage. 3 PCs and 1 notebook lying around at home, got to have a connection for everyone! Wireless is the new convenience everyone should have.. But I've also got to check out all the necessary security setups too. Wonder if there's a dummy guide out there?

Telemarketeers' profit..

Today's Home section had an interesting front cover. The focus was on some telemarketing groups that have been running donation drives for some charities. Basically, they cold call households and convince them to pay $10 for lunch packets consisting for curry puffs or nasi briyani or other similar foods, and told that this is for charity. The food is bought from various food stores in the Geylang area. Apparently there's a hullabaloo because the donaters are suprised that only 25% or less of the money goes to the charity. The rest goes to the food itself, or the rental and phone bills, and of course the telemarketer's cut. One company was surveyed which collects about $1000 daily, and about $300 goes to the charity, while the company takes about $100 profit.

Of course, there are also complaints about bad food, and also pushiness of the telemarketers. And some of these complaints caused charities to stop engaging the fund-raisers. But I think the article was not worded well, or if it was, then Singaporeans are focused wrongly. I think it's inevitable that only a certain percentage of any donation reaches charities. When I was at Stanford, Glen Davis, my pastor there, once advised a friend who was about to set off on a cross-US cycle trip and wanted to raise money for charity. His advice was to set and disclose targets for amount raised and percentage that would go to charity ( as opposed to his food for the trip, for instance). Ideally, he could get one organisation to sponsor his expenses on the trip so that he could present to other sponsors a 100% donation rate -- Every cent of each dollar would go to charity. Glen also mentioned that most donations only have a 10% donation rate -- the rest goes to various administration costs. I'm not entirely surprised.. When NUSSU Volunteer Action Committee (NVAC) did a donation drive in conjunction with Duracell (Gillette), we sold batteries in 5-battery packs for $5, and we had to pay Gillette a small amount for each battery sold. They covered the cost of packaging, and took back every unsold battery, and office and van rental costs were covered by NUSSU itself, and if not for that the donation rate would have been much lower than the 70% or so we had. And of course we were non-profit and volunteers ( so no pay issues) but I think 10 cents on each dollar went to NVAC itself, which went to wards maintaining our own volunteer operations with MINDS, Boys' Town and other groups, so the donation rate was a bit lower even than that.

And when you consider that full-time operations, even non-profits, have to pay their staff and pay rental and all kinds of costs all the time, then the donation rate is bound to drop to even lower levels. One of the biggest complaints against NKF is that their top level staff get paid so much, and how their top executives fly business class and so forth, but if accountants would just get at their books and everybody else's and show us their donation % rates, then it would all become clearer. I for one would not mind paying those executives to take business class if they really are able to administer NKF so much better that their donation % rate is significantly higehr than average.

No, I think the real issue is that the telemarketeers are taking a good cut, and not overtly telling the canvassees about it. If they're not asked about the donation rate, they won't tell -- they said as much in the article. And Singaporeans still associate philanthophy, donation, non-profit and so forth, that the concept of someone professionally raising funds for charity in order to make a living for self is a weird concept. We pretty much assume that if someone is raising funds for charity, that they're not getting a cut. For instance, organisations doing flag days could conceivably take a 50% cut for themselves and still be legal in the eyes of the police. But nobody ever thinks that. And anyone who is making a profit on these things inevitably attracts suspicion. I myself feel these companies are not doing right, in some emotional way. Yet, even if Singaporeans are naive in this way, can we really expect these companies to call people and say "Yes, we're asking for your donation, oh, and of each $10 you donate, 10% goes to us as profit, 60% covers costs, and 30% goes to the charity" ? On the one hand, this is disclosure, but on the other..
1) Charities don't do this, even though they should.. The numbers may be in a prospectus but they certainly don't tell you this when they're asking for donations..
2) We don't expect car salesmen to tell us every last thing also.. Buyer beware right? If these companies are out for profit they should not be handicapped by a mandatory conscience either.

Personally I think Singaporeans need to grow up, be less naive. If we can be so cynical towards religious and governmental institutions and MLMs, why not towards these? And we should with our own behavior reward responsible institutions the way we reward those that don't do animal testing or are environmentally friendly...

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Sea Code

Check this out! http://www.sea-code.com/
I read an article in a Forbes magazine, about this company that brings a new take to offshoring. So they're going to buy a cruise ship, maybe 800 berths, and they're going to park it in international waters and bring in all these programmers as "seamen". Some international maritime law thing makes these people all non-taxable, and so they can do outsourced programming quite cheaply.. Supposedly it's more convenient for US CEOs because the ship is just off California, no more trips to faraway countries!

Friday, May 13, 2005


Big fight with Key yesterday.. we made up before the night was over, but still, want to say:

Sorry dear.. I would never say anything to hurt you, so don't doubt me anymore?

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Abortions delayed by finances?

Key was telling me about something she learnt at work which was really shocking. Teens coming in for abortions often do come in very early in their pregnancies, when the risks are very low. But because there are no subsidies for abortions, they end up delaying the procedures while they gather funds for the operation, and during that time, the risks of complications, after-effects and so on increase...

Is that silly? Or a concession to the pro-life lobby? Eh.. if subsidizing abortions was seen as a nod to pre-marital and teen sex, then why do we allow condoms?

Or to put it the other way, I think most organisations and the government would like everyone to have sex only with a single partner and within the sanctity of marriage. But nevertheless, condoms are sold and their use is promoted! (At least within the SAF it is.. ) So why should abortions not be subsidised? Argh.. think I may get to find out the answer soon enough once I'm actually in civil service.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Key started work

Yes, she's started her attachment at last. So though I'm clearing leave, we may not get so much time together, cos she has to work.. and after work she'll be quite tired and drained, and I also don't want her to spend so much energy going out and stuff and make her zzz at work the next day.

Guess work is another test of a couple's resolve to stay together.. when we may not have the energy to party together, and being tired makes us irritable... Still, I'm going to keep at it and make sure that this only makes us stronger!

I was planning to go to church this weekend but the plans just dissolved into nothing.. On friday instead of going, I met Key for dinner and then the 2F people (CZ, Pierre, HJ, Ivy, Noelle) to catch up. Had a lift home from Pierre, he's decorated up his van nicely, even the back is nicely done up...

Talking to them really brings back old days... They're a bunch I could always talk to forever in a group. In fact, when we're in Bristol staying together, Pierre, Ivy, Noelle and me basically managed to spend 6 months chatting without getting cabin fever.. We could just talk on and on.. and nowadays we always spend so much fun time reminiscing about past events and jokes. Retelling the old jokes, savouring the flavor of the same things, like good wine that never sickens us with its taste.

But change is also happening. Like Pierre, for instance, he used to tell stories of his army life, his sniper life, his SOF life, his semi-pro basketballer life, his bartender life, and so on, until Ivy and Noelle ask me how I can sit down there and so patiently listen to his stories, wondering how true they are. And now he talks about travelling every weekend for work, about how as senior engineer he doesn't ever look at grades when hiring engineers -- he's really rising, manager level already, and so much more mature then when first we met.

At least, despite all this change, we can still come together and spend some time together recapturing the old friendship, building the continuing relationships.. :>

Saturday, we had the first session for the OSY mentors/mentees. It went well, the mentees were very receptive, and even asked if there would be a session next week. That's a good start, now we got to keep up the momentum. Following, went to support Key's cousin at the Superstar contest. There was one blind singer just in front of her cousin who was really good, had a fantastic voice.. will he get though the third stage? Who knows.. he doesn't have much image, but that can change easily.

Sunday morning, was thinking of going to chc as well, but just decided to sleep in. I'd planned to cook for mothers' day dinner, but ended up deferred one week cos sis recommended Mushroom Pot. That's a really nice place, I'd first gone with Velle and bunch maybe three years ago when the first store opened at Stadiumfront. It's still open now, so it's doing well. Even has a second branch in Orchard, near Somerset station. And the taste was quite good. Recommended for a good dinner, mushrooms and steamboat, at about 25pax I think.

Monday, May 02, 2005

made key angry

I made Key angry.. we were at compasspoint food court with her friends Qian Ray and Qiwei when some idiot cleaner, without any prior warning, just scolded her and said "Auntie, don't block the way". She was of course pissed.. and I just sat there. Needless to say, she was angry at me.

So why did I just sit there and not react? probably cos the first reaction would end with a newspaper article about a scholar beating up some poor cleaner. But still.. I need to react more aggressively I guess, just that I've spent so many years trying to clamp down on that hot temper that people tend to think of me as a very mild person.. and I just can't unleash it all that easily.

But: my promise to you, Key.. Never again! I'll defend your honor like the knight in shining armor that I want to be for you, an angel to enfold you in my wings and protect you!

The long Mayyyy holiday..

So most of you had a long weekend this week, I'm sure you had fun! I did, and I'm going to tell you about it! :> Well, mostly it was cheerful because of Key.. First, I had a wonderful anticipatory run-up to it. Key planned a surprise for me but couldn't hang on to it:

While I was in camp I played a game of Risk: Lord of the Rings Trilogy edition, and I enjoyed it so much I was blabbing over the phone to her about it, and then she went and bought me the game! haha, because we'd just spent a saturday at Settlers'.. So her exams ended on Thursday and I took Thursday and Friday off and went to Paradigm Infinity to pick the set up on Friday. We were supposed to spend saturday at my place watching dvd and cooking dinner, (mom was out at Club Med Bintan) but then spontaneously decided to invite poon and tongli over to my place to play the LOTR Risk. It was extremely fun!! A game well worth the money, and the next morning we decided to play another quick game.. and when andy and junx are both free we can probably have another session with everyone!

For dinner we tried to cook rosti, and the attempt turned out well. Also added stir fry vege, the usual unagi sauce baked salmon thing, and then some frozen / vacuum packed teriyaki chicken and meatballs.. Meal was good, and now I have another dish on my easy-cook pot luck roster. Yeah!

So poon and tongli and us chatted about stuff until 4am about ghost stories and DA and Wheel of Time.. sudden;y made me feel like the reading Robert Jordan all over again. Sunday, and it was to join Key's friends (Qianhui, Raymond, Qiwei) for mahjong, and then to join the engin mcs for a bbq at reg's place. Reg's place, never been there b4, wow it's a nice place. BBq was slightly expensive, but heh, gotten used to massive expenditures when hanging out with that bunch. And today, just nua-ing around in general before picking up my sis and mom and Jerm at the ferry terminal.

Thing is, I can't even seem ot have fun without feeling guilty about it, cos there's just so much that's undone. NYF arrangement with AMK FSC, I haven't really even touched that, and the THC OSY stuff and web things, I haven't done as much as I could. But.. a bit sianz, really.. There hasn't been a weekend in three months which I haven't spent some part of working on these things.. Even this long weekend had a half day of training built in on saturday morning. It's childish and immature to complain, but most days I still feel like a kid anyway...