Monday, December 25, 2006

Funny where you see old friends

Was just surfing around when I saw Kenneth, Huiqin, Weiyan, and Norman in a photo here...

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Friday, December 15, 2006

Miharu Ramen

I fell in love with Miharu Ramen (76 Robertson Quay, Gallery Hotel ground floor) the very first time I went with my sister.. At the time, it was a sunday lunchtime and we waited 45 min to be seated, which my sister told me was already shorter than the usual 1 hour wait on weekday lunches.

There's good reason too. The food's really good! A quick search on the internet quickly yields links to Travelling Hungryboy's review (one of several) (and he totally dissed tampopo as I mentioned before), Ringisei's review, and even a CNA special.

A lot of cool things about this place:
1) The philosophy is just cool. All over the place there are posters talking about how the noodles are all imported from Hokkaido where they are made with the well-water there, about how the eggs are made, how the chef thinks ramen should be eaten in 10 minutes so as to be fresh...

Of course, we totally broke that rule, hogging the place for a ridiculously longtime, first holding seats and later chatting after dinner... *sheepish*

2) The eggs are fantastic!!

Okay, maybe the photo don't look so hot, but the eggs are just nice - the yolk's still kind of liquid, just a little bit, whereas the white is just a little sweet with the soya sauce.
3) The ramen itself is very good value for money - smooth noodles, just-nice broth, and lots of meat and ingredients for just about $12.

So, go try this out!

Spizza for Friends

Spizza at 29 Club Street was first recommended to me just about when I started work, but I've not gone a huge number of times, mostly because of its pricy nature. I think the standard for a basic meal there is about $20 per head...

Anyway, Spizza is pizza with a difference. The standard pizza in Singapore (Pizza Hut and Domino's) is a thick, cheesy kind of pizza, whereas Spizza serves a wickedly thin, generally un-cheesed pizza cooked in a traditional wood-fired-oven style. So you can really taste that Parma Ham. For additional flavour, every pizza combination they serve is named with a different female name starting with one of 25 letters of the alphabet (all except X).

Here's an example.

Overall? It's decent for a small gathering (if pricy), but you might run into some of these conflicts:
1) Your group doesn't enjoy this type of pizza
2) If they do, a small group of you won't be able to order all the pizzas you would like to taste over 1 gathering
3) The Club Street outlet doesn't sit large groups well. It's kind of a narrow space so you have to sit all in one row - which tends to limit conversation to within 1 table's reach (2 persons each direction).

Tuesday, December 12, 2006


Shashlik was featured on CNA. I love this restaurant, and that's not because I'm Hainanese. Just love the Baked Alaska there... *drool*....

Serene Huang says:

Lavished with flaming rum before your eyes, the ice-cream cake continued to flicker blue flames for a good five seconds or so, before it shed the fiery cloak. The result: An innocuous-looking mount of whipped cream flambéed, yet so addictively decadent from the salient taste of the alcohol.

Where: Far East Shopping Centre, 545 Orchard Road, #06-19
Telephone: 6732 6401, 6734 3090
Opening hours: 12pm to 3pm (Lunch); 6.30pm to 10.30pm (Dinner); daily

Good stuff, try it out.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Small brothers are watching you...

A CNA article on televised sting operations, run by the media, in India

India's feisty television news channels have tapped a seam of public disgust by using revolutionary sting operations to expose official corruption and social ills that have made some lawmakers so nervous they are trying to limit media power.

"The media is reflecting public anger," said CNN-IBN senior editor and anchor Sagarika Ghose.

It's an interesting concept - reminiscent of someone pretending to represent an extremely rich person and approaching a prominent football coach to tap him to coach that rich person's football team.

Anyway - it's part of the conundrum. On the one hand, the idea that someone could be watching your every action leads you to be very careful that what you're doing is not wrong - not illegal, not embarrassing, etc. But on the other hand, who's to determine what's wrong? In the CNA article, it mentions a lawyer who's defending a (presumably) reviled man in a murder court case, who's being questioned on TV. It is probably ethically wrong to murder, and it might be that the majority of people in any society would think that it is ethically wrong to defend that murderer in court - but that does not in itself make the action wrong. To people who care about the legal system, any man is entitled to a defence, including the most heinous war criminals.

So let's take it closer to home. Suppose you're an ordinary Singaporean who deals with ugly Singaporeans every day. (well, if you in Tokyo, say you deal with ugly Tokyites everyday - I believe Singaporeans aren't uglier than other countries' citizens, we just have an idealism gap). You can't get on the trains because people don't move to the centre, once you're on you see lots of elderly and pregnant women standing around, and you always miss your stop because some stupid idiots are standing right in front of the entrance trying to squeeze their way on and you can't get out. Or you're a driver, and always curse at people who road hog in the fast lane (or even better, both lanes!), change lanes without signalling, or occupy that yellow box that is supposed to allow you to turn into the main road.

One day, you and every other irritated Singaporean decide to use those flashy camera-phones to good effect, and snap pictures of all the offenders. Mugshots, car plates, etc. Post them onto a website where you can rant with everyone else. There's a wave of publicity, and suddenly everyone is more polite. See an ugly Singaporean? Whip out a camera and the person shies away and hides his face. Feels good, no?

Then one day you log on and see your face, featured. Or, you're doing your own thing, and someone points a camera your way. How do you feel? Slightly self-conscious? And if it seems that people are condemning what you do, would you alter your actions?

Did one of your gadgets die recently?

An interesting post on Wired, called "Gadgets built to fail".

Kris Wagner says:

Of course, no R&D department would ever admit to creating products that are intended to crash and burn. But I believe that, like humans, the PDA holding your business contacts and favorite songs has a preordained lifespan. It's simply a matter of when it will die.

Let's call it the buy-die-buy theory: Manufacturers design technology to fail so you're forced to upgrade regularly.

Eh ... I thought it was pretty obvious... People don't make money by selling you something that lasts forever. They make money by selling you stuff that is (a) addictive and (b) requires constant flow. Like drugs.

Or put it this way. If your current MP3 player, about the size of say your primary school eraser(you know, the ones with country flags that we used to play eraser wrestling with) , could last forever. Would you pay $150 to replace it with an MP3 player that's 2/3 of the size and holds twice the songs? (and presumably lasts forever too)

Well, maybe you might, because it's "cool". But that's the consumer myth, innit?


I'm a sucker for both sci-fi and fantasy, so you would imagine that Shadowrun is my favourite RPG world setting (that is, if you knew what Shadowrun was - it's rather little known by mundanes.)

And now I find that there's a Shadowrun shooter coming out for Xbox 360 and Windows. Well, I'm not going to buy the 360 - I already feel awfully backstabbed by Microsoft over the lack of games for Xbox. So, that just means that I have another reason to buy a new system soon....

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Simple Dollar: The Road to Financial Armageddon

I recently found the Simple Dollar website through the author's article on the 30 best freeware, which was rather widely featured on several sites. So now I'm reading its RSS feed and finding many rather interesting articles.

This particular series, "The Road to Financial Armageddon", is particularly good - do read it! I've linked to #8 in the series of 10 articles.

I experienced a similar (but smaller scale) problem with credit card debt when I was in the UK - ran myself into a credit card hole and spent three months digging myself out. I can tell you, the feeling of being in debt is entirely awful and till today, it makes me very careful about my credit card spending.

Of course, I'm still a rather profligate spender - Nekki says that I "spend money like water". And it's true - I don't have the discipline to put money away at a serious rate. But I keep reminding myself, I gotta save, invest, plan for the future. If you already have a plan for the future, good for you. If not - whether you're young or old, it's never too early to start practicing some financial discipline.

Nation States

This is pretty cool: Nation States seems like a pretty lightweight, low-commitment online game.

So far, I've created a nation and decided my first issue - "Should democracy be compulsory?"

Trust me, I was tempted to base that nation on Singapore, but where's the fun in that? I'm sure there's already someone out there trying it out, anyway. For myself, I'm gonna take my own path.

Drop me a telegram if you create one too!

The Ultimate Alliance can't be found

Been running around trying to find Marvel Ultimate Alliance for the Xbox. Key and I, we saw this game in November, and thought to ourselves:
1) There haven't been Xbox games out lately
2) This would be fantastic for after Key's exams, since it's four player and seems kind of a good replacement for the Xmen Legends series. We had *a lot* of fun with that, playing four controllers with both gangs of gamers...

So, her exams are over, and I can't find the game anymore! Every single shop in Sim Lim and Funan, every single Comics Connection and other shop, seems to have sold out!!

Friday, December 08, 2006

Tampopo Ramen

My office people go to Tampopo Ramen every now and then, since it's quite nearby, just over at Liang Court. Liang Court as a shopping centre is pretty focused on Japanese tastes, with a Japanese supermarket (Meidi-Ya), A Kinokuniya which stocks Japanese books, and many many ramen stalls in the basement. I guess it's a historical thing, since I remember Daimaru used to be there as well - for the longest time I referred to that place simply as Daimaru, long after it was no longer accurate.

There's a ton of notices outside - food reviews and stuff, so the place seems to be pretty good. (Later on, while trying to find the website for this stall I come across Travelling Hungryboy's post saying it ain't so, but I didn't know that)

So here's the ramen. Mine isn't the expensive Jangara ramen mentioned in the article - but I find it's adequately good. The sauce is extremely salty! So next time I won't go for "shio", maybe "miso".

The pork is supposed to be special black pig. For the record, it's not bad, but there wasn't really lots of it... actually, it was quite little...

Still, it's not terribly expensive, I think I paid $14 for my meal.

So.. a nice place to go in town, but not extremely fantastic...

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Sun with Moon

Today's dinner: Sun with Moon Japanese Dining and Cafe
Came here because Key's buddy Raymond had recommended the place..

The place was beautiful! Nice mood lighting, and because we had reserved seats, we were led to this area with cushions and nice screens...

food-wise, we were a bit thrown at first, since I'd done almost zero reading up, and I'd forgotten wwhat I'd read too. It turns out the place doesn't have the usual don kind of dishes which we were familiar with. I had kind of expected the price, though. Samsies had mentioned it was 'bout thirty per head.

Funny thing was, Key wanted rice, so we should have ordered the kamameshi, but in the menu they looked like noodles...

Still, we dove in and ordered three dishes:

1) Chicken Teriyaki - just chicken and some vegetables at the side. Was good but not fantastic.

2) Pork Yakisoba - this was pork and noodles. Noodles tasted great, and had a very smooth, easy-to-bite texture. Pork was chewy...
3) Kani Tomago Toji - which was crabstick, spinach and egg in a bit of broth. This was the best main dish. The crabstick tasted like real crab and had very good texture, spinach tasted great, and the egg complemented it perfectly.
As a side note, we ordered rice to accompany and the rice was just ordinary...

Afterwards we moved on to dessert, and this was where the restaurant really stood out.

This was the tofu cheesecake. It tasted fantastic, especially the texture of the tofu and the taste of cheese.. and the portion was just nice, too. This was of course compared to the ...
Green tea tiramisu, which at first tasted great - a clean kind of taste, very understated - but I got sick of it about halfway through simply because it was too creamy.

Final verdict:
Very impressed with the dessert, main courses so-so. This is probably a good place to come out and hang out after the main meal somewhere else. Tofu cheesecake is a must, we packed two pieces back home for Key's dad and bro...

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

A second life

This is interesting me. Hmm..

Do you cook if you are sleeping...

Or is this the ultimate alarm?

Article on Wired: "Say Hello to the Goodbye Weapon"

The crowd is getting ugly. Soldiers roll up in a Hummer. Suddenly, the whole right half of your body is screaming in agony. You feel like you've been dipped in molten lava. You almost faint from shock and pain, but instead you stumble backwards -- and then start running. To your surprise, everyone else is running too. In a few seconds, the street is completely empty.

You've just been hit with a new nonlethal weapon that has been certified for use in Iraq -- even though critics argue there may be unforeseen effects.

Man oh man.. this is a scary weapon. Nonlethal, perhaps, but the pain is supposed to be excruciating.. Could this be the next torture weapon?

Microsoft just gave me an excuse not to work...

Microsoft Security Advisory (929433)

Microsoft is investigating a new report of limited “zero-day” attacks using a vulnerability in Microsoft Word 2000, Microsoft Word 2002, Microsoft Office Word 2003, Microsoft Word Viewer 2003, Microsoft Word 2004 for Mac, and Microsoft Word 2004 v. X for Mac, as well as Microsoft Works 2004, 2005, and 2006.

In order for this attack to be carried out, a user must first open a malicious Word file attached to an e-mail or otherwise provided to them by an attacker.

Microsoft has tested the following workarounds. While these workarounds will not correct the underlying vulnerability, they help block known attack vectors. When a workaround reduces functionality, it is identified in the following section.

Do not open or save Word files that you receive from un-trusted sources or that you receive unexpectedly from trusted sources. This vulnerability could be exploited when a user opens a specially crafted Word file.

seen at Channel 9

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Breaking the Sound Barrier

This links to an interesting video, about overcoming deafness in Singapore. It's not perfect, but I think it's at least decently done. And... it's got a good message.


An interesting blogpost about open-source software for the computer. Some of the software looks useful now, and some will be useful in future when I buy my next comp and don't want to spend on getting all the extra software. Keeping in mind..

Monday, December 04, 2006

Graphical multiplication

A new way to multiply!, spotted from Greg Mankiw's blog. Is cool!

RSS Google Reader

After some quick browsing to get up to speed on RSS, I decided to take the easy way out and use Google Reader.

So far not too bad - I'm anticipating using it more. But it seems to freeze up lots, which is not good...

Freezes up like this:

Probably cos it's still beta...

finally got around to getting a account. Started to port bookmarks there, but thought of something suddenly - which is:

see, Google sorts your websites by counting who you link to and who you're linked by right?

So... like if I move my anime links off to, then my relevance to all anime searches would drop?

Well, I guess, my aim is not to get noticed, to it's fine. But something to keep in mind if I finally decide to do an "expert" blog.

For now, I'm just going to tidy my links.

One down.. next: RSS, Picasaweb, Gspace. Time to get my weblife in order.

Review a book, win a prize

NLB is
giving away prizes for reviews at High Browse Online.

Way I see if, if the voucher is a book voucher, that's like 50% off a paperback!

Monday, November 27, 2006

Penang Kitchen

So we finally got around to eating at Penang Kitchen - again, at Coronation Arcade opposite Coronation Plaza - facing the Shell station. No pictures of food this time, but anyway -

1. Lime Juice - was not as good as neighbouring Curry Wok. But...
2. Laksa - Key's dad praised the laksa noodle - one bite will bite through it easily!
3. Ngor Hiang and Belachan Chicken wing - both were very very good, and as a bonus, not spicy at all! I mean, even though it's called Belachan chicken. If I can eat it, almost anyone can.
4. Crispy fillet - was fantastic, the fish was complemented perfectly by the honey sauce.
5. Pulot Hitam - now I'm not an expert, but 4 other people at the table said it was good!

Well basically - if you're going there alone or twosome, try Penang Kitchen, the servings are good to go for just one to two people without wasting large chunks of food and money. If you're in a large group, go for Curry Wok, can order large amounts and sample all the great dishes.

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Friday, November 24, 2006


Swanky and expensive Japanese restaurant at Crown Prince Hotel - you know, where Swensen's is?

Really mood/ambience place, and small servings - but it's tasty! Not sure I would go there on my own at all, though. Still, if you have about two hundred to throw away, it's a nice place to eat Jap.

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Sake! Kenshin's favourite drink... Posted by Picasa

yummy sashimi at Tatsuya....  Posted by Picasa

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Curry Wok

Curry Wok - an awesome restaurant just opposite Coronation Plaza, at Coronation Arcade (not to be confused with nearby King's Arcade.

We went there looking for some other place - Key's dad had been recommended some place with good prok knuckles there. But we couldn't find the other place, so I recommended going to Coro Arcade to look for Penang Kitchen, which my sister had brought me to before.

Instead, we stopped at next-door Curry Wok, tempted by their pork knuckles. It was a good decision, since the food was awesome!

1. Lime juice. Yup, this was just fantastic. It tastes so clear! I don't know how to explain it.
2. Pork knuckles - Really really good.
3. Kung ba - Any place that serves decent kung ba is worth a visit.
4. Hainanese Pork chop - this was crispy on the outside, tender inside, and sweet, oh so sweet sauce.
5. Sayur Lodeh - this veggie dish had Key raving on and on, so you can guess how good it was.
6. Or - nee. This was possibly the smoothest or-nee I've ever eaten. And you can order it on its own!

Drop by here if you have a chance!

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Saturday, November 18, 2006

Pera Makan

Went to this cool place at Joo Chiat Road called PeraMakan, at 92 Joo Chiat Road. Its website is under renovation, but you can call in for a reservation at 63457565. You can also turn in for parking at the Astro Hotel.It's peranakan dishes. Nice ambience for some slow dining. They do catering too!
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Saturday, November 04, 2006

I don't generally hold grudges - personal policy being it's much more miserable for myself than for the begrudged. If I'm offended, I'll usually forget it within a day and a night. Kind of like a short-term memory loss punchdoll - if you hit me accidentally I'll start frowning, but the next time you see me I won't be frowning anymore.

This generally means I also keep repeating certain "mistakes". But the upside of it is, I really don't ever find myself being miserable,that kind of bone-deep unhappiness that makes me feel like just being by myself. (Though I do like to be by myself now and then to read and stuff. This is more like wanting to be on a wind-blown plateau somewhere I can just scream and have only the echoes for company).

It's generally been a good way of life for me. In five years, I don't think I've ever been seriously unhappy. I like to think that to all my friends I'm just this guy who's always positive and happy, with some typically low-level bitching about poor service at a particular restaurant or having too much work at my job. Maybe a bit stupid in some ways - but I choose to be naive.

So why the hell am I so unhappy now?

Look, I'm done with sad, okay? I (expletive) refuse to be sad. So shut up mind, go away heart. I'm gonna be happy today, or else.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Board Games with Scott

Board Games with Scott is an interesting site with good video introductions to various games! I started with this intro to the game Power Grid.

And now I want to buy the game!

There are other games on the show, including Ticket to Ride (which i now feel like buying) and Fury of Dracula (which I've already placed an order for, prior to the intro). Check it out!

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Wonderful fried Siew Mai at Furama Palace. It's got quite a good lunchtime promotion too, so try it out! Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Lots of board games

Been in a bit of a board game fugue recently. I've bought a whole bunch, and more games coming in soon. I guess I should post some pics of some of the sessions some time...

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Baby octopi

Dinner with Key at IMM, the newly opened Ichiban Sushi. We were discussing how at new restaurants, while the waiters are new and the processes not ironed out, there would surely be many problems and delays. Which, as it turned out, was true enough.

The Katsu was good, though. And so were the octopi. And to commemorate my finding the macro function on my camera phone, here's a picture of one with hair!

Friday, September 01, 2006

Good old Frog Porridge

Teachers' Day, Friday. Lunch at Good old Frog Porridge. For those not familiar with Mandarin, the characters there mean "Good" "Porridge" "Way", which also puns roughly as "conscientious (or good) service".

So it's frog legs, served in a variety of seasonings. We had an equal portion of chilli and wine ones, of which I only took the wine ones. Frog legs were okay -- but the porridge was fantastic, good texture, went well with the sauce on the legs. Price - about $11 per head. Location: right outside Chinatown MRT. Can try!

Thursday, August 31, 2006

3% disabled!

It's official! I'm 3% disabled. Sigh....

Had to travel to Nee Soon MC in today's pouring rain. Well, at least it ends the many many visits I keep having to pay to the medical centres. Saw the MO, filled in a little medical board form, and wait for it then, I guess.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Misplaced my iTunes

Dang.. can't listen to podcast cos I lost my iTunes. Where did it go?!!

Interesting puzzles!

Some interesting puzzles are listed out here, with their solutions.

The original version of the Random Native puzzle goes like this.
1) You are at a crossroads, and you don't know which way to go. One is correct and leads to life, the other is wrong, and leads to death.
2) There are two tribal natives before you. Based on their dress, they come from two different villages. One of them will always tell the truth, the other will always lie.
3) But you can't remember which is which.
4) How do you, with only 1 question, figure out which way to go?

(The answer is in white font, so you can't see it but you can highlight it!)

Ask either one, "If I were to ask you if the left road was the correct one, what would you say?"

The truth teller would tell the truth, and the liar would lie about lying, so he would also tell the truth.

Now, the Random Native has 3 natives there. One always tells the truth, one always lies, one tells the truth randomly. You have two questions, what do you ask?

Guy Kawasaki: Ten things to learn this school year

This article by Guy Kawasaki is pretty cool, even though it looks more like 12 items. Lol. Anyway, he's a start-up guy, can look him up on google if you want. But some of the 12 items are pretty cool! I like two in particular:

6. How to have a conversation. Generally, “Whassup?” doesn’t work in the real world. Generally, “What do you do?” unleashes a response that leads to a good conversation (hence the recommendation below). Generally, if you listen more than you talk, you will (ironically) be considered not only a good conversationalist but also smart. Yes, life is mysterious sometimes.


7. How to explain something in thirty seconds. Unfortunately, many schools don’t have elevators or else students would know how to explain things in a thirty-second elevator pitch. Think mantra (three words), not mission statements (sixty words). Think time, not money, is the most important commodity. Think ahead, not on your feet. At the end of your thirty-second spiel, there should be an obvious answer to the question, “ So what?” If you can’t explain enough in thirty seconds to incite interest, you’re going to have a long, boring career.

So. What do you do?

A lot of interesting readings...

Yep.. I did some reading in a bit of spare time today, found quite a bit of nice sites to improve self..

First, Greg Mankiw's blog. He's an economics professor, and I went from Marginal Revolution to there because of this article on Inequality and Unions. It puts forward an interesting question on where inequality stems from.

From there I followed his link to Piled Higher and Deeper, which is this awesome comic I first picked up in Stanford. It's about PhD students, and how ordinary (well, maybe not-so-ordinary) students muddle their way through Permanent Head Damage...

After that, it was this article about how, basically, empathy seems to be a choice that we can make - which I agree entirely with!

Some more interesting readings, but I think I'm gonna segment them out so I can say more in detail about each one.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Key's birthday

This was Key during our birthday dinner at Tonkichi. Beautiful, isn't she? She's pounding the sesame for the sauce. Pity, I enjoyed the katsu more without the sauce.

And this was me!

I booked a hotel room in Four Seasons The Regent. It was nice, not bad - but I think next year we'll try something else, get a different experience. This was the room... It was spacious, though. We spent a lot of time lazing here, or in the Regent Club, with freeflow drinks and cookies / snacks.

After the dinner we went shopping at Kino, then tried to look for a pub. The first few at Orchard road were too crowded / noisy, and then later as we got closer to the hotel they were all quite quiet. In the end we went to the hotel bar. Keying got a frozen margarita which was not a match for the Olive Garden one. And I somehow ended up with a chick drink! Next time, I'm only going to have beer. Somehow, everytime I ask for a cocktail it looks like a chick drink. damn sianz.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Waste of electricity

It's 7.30am, and the lights are on.. what a waste of electricity...

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

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Just upgraded my phone to this nifty one. I'm not really a phones person - all I ever needed before was a phone that can call, sms, and take notes, but when I saw this phone I was like - damn, I want it! Finally, a phone with a decent camera! And so here's two pics from the phone, of myself and my darling Key Posted by Picasa

Lim Siong Guan on leadership

Was at a talk yesterday by Lim Siong Guan on "The Failure of Leadership".

Only really remember a bit of it... Let's see. He started with a joke, saying his slides were pretty much the same if you'd heard him speak before... And the joke went like this:
1. Some guy with a degree in Economics goes back to U to see what the exam questions are like after twenty years.
2. Finds that they are exactly the same!
3. So he asks the professor, how come the questions are the same? Haven't things changed?
4. Professor says, ah, the questions are the same, but the answers are different!

And of course, like in any talk, I can only remember the first thing he said - the 3 failures of leadership, being 1) not learning from the past, 2) not adapting to the present, 3) not anticipating the future.

The talk is pretty much stock, but one thing sticks out in my mind: that it is imperative to change before change is critical. You should change while you don't need to, because then you have some slack to do things well. He gave an example: Suppose someone is not the best fit for a job. You should immediately retrain him or exit him while times are good and you have the resources to do right by the chap - else by the time the company gets into trouble and you HAVE to retrench the chap, you don't have any resources to help the guy move on...

This actually makes sense! Well. So now I gotta figure out why I'm only listening for directions from my boss rather than being an agent for change...

And, to end off with another joke from the talk:
1. Two hunters were out walking. One collapses, eyes rolled up and not breathing
2. The other whips out phone and dials emergency services
3. "Help! My friend is dead!"
4. Operator calmly says, "Don't panic, I can help. First, let's make sure he really is dead."
5. Silence. Gunshot.
6. "Okay, what next."

Read from that what you will!

A long night at work

Sigh.. was working till 4am rushing some work. Flat like pancakes now!

Anyway: from Key:

1. Hm... you're a good finanical planner!
2. Babysit Erin and Emily for a day!
3. blue... composed (sometimes) and organized...
4. your patience with me..
5. the guy who got cut near his eye by his glasses (which broke) during a basketball game.
6. Puppy....
7. why me?

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Randomly Lari

And now something for Lari!

1. You're the best poet I know. (Like, as in personally)
2. Get something published!
3. The red of autumn leaves - bright but also faded, somehow. Both that you're so lively and yet reserving a bit of yourself.
4. You're so enthusiastic about other people...
5. OBS, and you and Penny asking so enthusiastically about me and Keying. LoL
6. Puss from Shrek - cute, but sharp... ...
7. Why are you so sad sometimes?

Oh. and to answer Lari's question: I travel a lot because I like travelling, and because I'm lucky.. lol..

Randomly about Key

First random list is for Key, who asked offline...

1. I think you're definitely the more popular half..
2. Try to totally "qian jiu" your mom for 1 week.
3. Orange, bright bright orange!
4. You are so willing to go out of your way to help whoever.
5. That first time when Nekki introduced us on the 151...
6. Dolphin! Dolphin!!
7. When did you first, first, first have the tiniest suspicion I was trying to date you?

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

7 random things

Got this from Lari..

reply to this comment and,
1. I'll respond with something random about you
2. I'll challenge you to try something
3. I'll pick a colour that I associate with you
4. I'll tell you something I like about you
5. I'll tell you my first/clearest memory of you
6. I'll tell you what animal you remind me of
7. I'll ask you something I've always wanted to ask you
8. If I do this for you, you must post this on your blog

So.. if you want me to try it with you, drop a tag or a comment!

And first, Lari's response!
1) He's a basketball fannn!
2) erm.... hahah. Meet me and penny. Lol.
3) Blue, calm and cool ^^
4) You're really creative about your solutions. we couldn't have made it past more than half our challenges without you ^^
5) First and clearest: The guy who gave a real creative solution in our first challenge at OBS^^
6) Monkey - Smart!
7) Why is it that you travel so often?!?!

Back from Florida and New York

So I'm back from the US. Will probably have to post a blow-for-blow if I ever get my pictures uploaded, lol. But as usual, I'm wayyyy too busy to think much about doing anything as mundane as keeping track of what happened.

Part of it is simply the crush of work and 400 unread work emails. Still - I'm glad I went. Managed to spend mucho time traveling with darling Key, and not worrying about things like work and living....

Friday, July 28, 2006

Crazy over board position

Well, not strictly true. Board position's a Magic:the Gathering term. What I did was buy 2 board games strictly on impulse. Lol.. Bought Shadows over Camelot and Betrayal at House on the Hill. Now all I need is some players!

Tuesday, July 25, 2006


Lol.. during tea break today I saw Beng Choo, and I've not seen her basically since Stanford, so I went over to say hi. When I caught her attention she didn't seem to recognise me, so I said, "Hi, Beng Choo, right?" and she paused and replied, "Oh that's my sister".

Oops... never had that happen to me before!

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Fury of Dracula

Was playing "Fury of Dracula" with Shaun, Poon, Tongli, and Poon's "little friend" on Sat night - Sunday morning.. 2 hours.. lol. I remember from our last visit to Settlers Cafe (Andy, Poon, Tongli, and beloved Key) that we should double the estimated play time when we're playing - and true enough we took 6 hours to play including breakfast!
I wonder why, though...

Anyway, all of us were new to the game, so I volunteered to be Dracula. For your info, four vampire hunters (Lord Godalmine, Dr Seward, van Helsing, and Mina Harker) hunt Dracula all over Europe.

It's a fun game, I think - good combination of deduction, luck, and devious thinking required for the game.. though maybe it was more fun for me than them! (I volunteered to be Dracula, since (a) I think vampires are cool, and (b) I like being the devious , scheming one.) I would recommend this game, especially if your group doesn't like to have free for alls where everyone backstabs everyone else.. Only one guy has to feel ostracized, lol.

Warning: I thought it was pretty tough being Dracula, since I got away by the skin of my teeth several times -- And I was already not fighting much, to Shaun's frustration. I just kept running, in weird and tricky ways that kept them guessing at my intentions. And even then I could not get fully away! So if you volunteer to be Dracula, pretty much be prepared to be staked and watch your spawn get hunted down...

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Chemical anagram?

This New York Times post on the dangers of second hand smoke.

Told me that nicotine is metabolized into cotinine.

Cute! It's an anagram!

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Didn't this happen before? (Deja vu)

Not sure whether these thoughts are inspired by Neil Gaiman, Ted Chiang, or just recent happenings.

But recently, I've been having waves of deja vu.

Things like: I'm about to email someone at work for something, and I have this feeling that I've already done it. In fact, I can remember the chain of events leading up to it.

But there's nothing in my archives. And when I check with the person, yes, it's my first time asking for it.

Or, someone asks me for something, and I have the feeling this has happened before, and I know exactly what's going to happen next. And what my response is/will be. And a feeling that I have to respond in that way.

The feeling, like I've dreamt it before somewhere. And it's coming more often, and stronger, than ever before.

I wonder if people with photographic memory can remember their dreams.
I wonder, if dreams can portend the future, or possible futures. How can it be, when the future has not happened? Or if time is truly an illusion, and our paths are already set out from before we were born, or even before our grandparents or their grandparents were born?

And, if deja vu is happening more frequently, what does that mean? Is it like when you're near the side of the swimming pool, and the waves bouncing off the wall are coming back more quickly and higher?

Songs in context, out of context

Sometime back I blogged about the last episode of Ghost in the Shell: 2nd Gig. A really poignant episode, which touched on the what it means to live.

Anyway, one of the sad parts was this "Tachikoma's song" which was sung by the cute little Tachikomas.. a song which all of them sang together. Because of their high-pitched voices and the translation of the lyrics, it sounded like some kind of children's folk song, and the context plus instrumentals made it sound really dramatic and tragic... And I kept wondering what the song was!

Today, I checked my mail and discovered that a visitor somehow knew the song. There were even youtube music videos by some singers who I was not aware of. But when I went to see the videos, I was shocked to find that the song was a bouncy-bouncy, dance to the rhythm dance to the beat bubble-gum pop song!

Eh. not exactly what I was hoping for.. waiting for the GITS CD...

Monday, June 19, 2006

Destiny in the Sandman

Kinokuniya's having a 20% sale!! Awesome stuff! lol..

Anyway, I went ahead and bought all the remaining Sandman books in the series. Started reading The Season Of Mists.

Introduction by Harlan Ellison: did I mention I like his style of writing?

anyway, as I started reading, I was struck by a certain resonance in the character of Destiny: a character, carrying his book, which records everything that has happened, and possibly everything that has ever happened.

Examining his book, he finds the encounter with the three women outlined there in every detail. Reading on, he knows what he must do.

Once, I read a short story by Ted Chiang, "Story of Your Life". In it, an interpreter learns the language of an alien species. Their language has a different structure from human language, and reflects a difference in how they view life/time -- they do not seem to see a cause/effect structure in time, but rather that cause and effect are bound up together in time. Kind of like, if the effect did not happen, then there would not be a cause.

The analogy drawn in Ted Chiang's story is of a person who finds a book that writes out exactly how the future will happen. Having found out the future, there are normally two storylines that play out from there in classical fiction: (1) that the person changes her future, or (2) that the person's efforts to change the future result in the predicted future happening. Ted's protagonist posits a different possibility: that the person will be unable to choose otherwise than how the book has written.

(The linked Wiki has a much better explanation of this)

Anyway, it seems to me that Destiny is like that. He sees the book's contents and has no choice but to do exactly as it says, no?

Anyway, Ted's story is a good read. If you want to read it, I have it in one of my Dozois' annual collections. :> The Sandman is also good, and now I have the set!

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Back from Geneva. Swiss Air ground service sucks!

Got back in abt 7am this morning, but feel asleep until close to lunch.. lol.

Swiss Air sucks!
The flight started badly. One thing I consistently found from Geneva is that the service isn't very good at all, unless you speak French. Surprising, cos people keep telling me they have these hotel and tourism schools there.. Anyway, what happened was that we handed 3 passports and 3 sets of tickets to the check-in counter, and they lost one of the tickets (my mom's), and insisted they hadn't taken it. The staff even went through my mom's ticket folder searching for it.. Then she directed my mom to go to the ticketing counter to see if we can get a replacement. And I'm thinking, look my mom booked her ticket, you have her passport there, so why can't you check her in, even without a paper ticket? Those E-tickets are pretty much nothing but a name as well!

At the same time, there was a queue forming up behind us, and the next lady in line pointedly said that we should hurry up and move on cos lots of people are waiting and she's got a nine am flight to catch.
Eh.. Our flight is at 10.20. I got into the queue at 8.40am. Your flight is at 9. You came in after me. Right.. blame it on me, yes!

So, my mom went to ticketing, where they said this is not their responsibility and the check-in staff should call their supervisor. We're just heading back to check-in when the staff reappears holding my mom's ticket.. Oh, they dropped it behind the counter (just like we guessed), they're sorry.. Took us back to the counter. The staff was going off duty I think, and her replacement checked my mom in, but refused to check in my mom for her transfer to the Zurich-Singapore flight... asked her to do it in Geneva.

!@#$%^ service standards.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

June 16, a national holiday in South Africa

Discovered that today's a national holiday in South Africa, to commemorate the Soweto uprising against apartheid, June 16, 1976.

High school students in Soweto protested for better education, and were answered with teargas and bullets. 23 died, and the protests were followed by more riots and more deaths.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Without you

Without you I am...
A field without flowers
An ocean without fishes

When will I hear
the music of your voice,
and see
the end of sadness?


Sunday, May 07, 2006

Ain't no sunshine when she's gone

Ain't no sunshine when she's gone.
It ain't warm when she's away.....

Ain't no sunshine when she's gone,
and this house just ain't no home,
anytime, she goes away.

Yup. She's gone to far shores.. just three months, but.

I was having dinner with my mom and bro at S-11, and I suddenly get the feeling, like if I were to turn around, I would see her there, smiling at me....


Sunday, April 16, 2006

After battling NTLDR, the next dragon is... Windows Activation?!!

Eh. So I've formatted the laptop, reinstalled windows, and now going through the whole hassle of doing every single update, installing every last software that is requireed to live a proper internet life. Someone should put all this stuff on a CD. Can label it something like, "eLife after the crash -- Getting back the basics". For one thing, I am super nervous about catching viruses while the lappy is in its current state.

But two big hassles so far. First thing is the IBM Wireless Lan card itself. It took me a damn long time just to figure out that the bloody thing doesn't support WPA - which is what I'm using on my wireless network. Quick research seems to reveal that the IBM card (and IBM is now owned by Lenovo) was made by Lucent (spun off from IBM?) which itself spun off Agere which then sold its card technology to Proxim. If that's complicated, the simple thing is this: No-one is supporting the card anymore, that means no WPA, ever! That's just downright silly.

Anyway, main beef today is with Windows, Microsoft and their Customer Service. Activation failed! Even though the Certificate of Authenticity is pasted right on the back of the laptop. It's not like a pirated copy, duh. So I had to call MS Singapore. The nice, shiny voice recognition system then made me read out a 45 digit installation ID, then told me it was invalid and read that 45 digit code back to me to verify, and then asked me to say "Customer Service" to get to a human customer representative. The system then played me some muzak, before, surprise, surprise... disconnecting me.

Okay, maybe it was a one-time thing. Try again, and essentially the same result, except that the muzak lasted longer. Wrote a stiff complaint note off to the website, and then tried again. This time I got lucky, managed to reach a living human being! (In some other country, doubtless.. Don't think anyone's working here on Sunday). And... she made me read out the 45 digit code too. So why did I key it in if you're gonna make me read it out again? Well, at least the code she gave me back was only 35 digits long and made everything okay again.

Pissed off with MS now. Maybe should consider moving to And also, more keen to get my MacMini now, just to avoid all this nonsense.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

What do butterflies eat?

The answer to the question..

Why? Because that's a question my niece asked me yesterday, which I didn't have the answer to at all! I think I thought that they didn't eat and they just die... but I was wrong, they do eat! Mostly liquid and vegetarian, though there is one which basically eats aphids, and another which can digest pollen. There's lots of other interesting Q&A about butterflies too..

Extended set of Q&A

Miharu Ramen

Lunch today at Miharu Ramen, Galleria Hotel, opposite Robertson Square. Hmm.. nice place, each bowl of ramen costs $10-$12 and they are totally non-pushy about just serving you plain, iced water. Which is good cos the dishes go very well with that! The ramen is of a special Sapporo blend, apparently the noodles are made with wellwater from Hokkaido and shipped frozen here, before being defrosted over 3-5 days.. and many of the ingredients are specially shipped in as well.

My dish: The Tokusen Shio, noodles in pork salt broth.. the broth tasted very very nice, and a bit reminiscent of maggi mee, lol.

Highlights: The noodles are really, really nice. Good texture and very tasty. The eggs are good too, they serve you half an egg with each of the main dishes but you can add more. The egg itself is cooked to a very exact timing so the yolk is still just a tiny little bit liquidy.. and the egg is soaked in soya sauce after cooking, so the white carries a hint of soya taste. The two taste elements combine very well!

Slightly negative points: The shio is "pork salt", so it's not surprising that it's a little too salty, though liberal amounts of ice cool water helps! Also, the soup base is very oily, really very oily... Lastly, my sister advised us not to add the bamboo shoots, which supposedly is super-pungent. No idea though.

Overall: I would recommend this place! Quite fast meals, ramen is supposed to be taken in ten minutes according to the chef. Supposedly the waiting time for lunch seats on weekdays is half an hour to an hour though, so that might make weekday work lunches a bit difficult.

Friday, April 14, 2006

NTDLR continues

So I thought I fixed it, but when Key tried to switch on the laptop, it has the same problem. Quick investigations using the enclosure reveal that the ntldr, files are being deleted everytime the computer starts up! A quick call to Junx establishes it might be a virus. So I scan it and detect several viruses, and the McAfee automatically cleans them: W32/Squirrel, W32/Oror.dll, W32/Oror-G@mm. And copy all the relevant files.

Only, when I switch on the laptop again, the files are no longer automatically deleted, but... the computer can't seem to run .exe files anymore! It actually asks me what to use to open .exe. The files themself run, if I open some random file and specify word or excel or whatever then the word or excel will actually run. Silly, no? Whole of control panel is also down with some rundll32.exe is missing error, even though the file is right there in the folder.

Pissed off with the virus, so since I've got her files backed up I'm gonna reinstall windows. But silly bird that I am, I forgot to bring along the power cable. Quick check on symantec website reveals that Oror-C@mm and related viruses will insert themselves in the registry to make them run with every exe, so maybe that's the error. Damn. I can't seem to get this problem solved.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

NTDLR is missing

Key's laptop went down yesterday, with the error "NTDLR is missing". Couldn't even boot. At first we feared the HDD was dead, and Junx suggested that I could try recovering the files using a 2.5" HD enclosure hooked up to my PC.

So I bought the enclosure from Audio House.. a $20 piece of equipment, basically just a little aluminium case, a cable, and a small piece of circuitry. (As to why Audio House: I was going to office which is near Liang Court. And as to why working on a Sunday, I'll blog about it once I know what the IT staff at company have to say about this particular piece of sillyness).

My first problem: taking out the HDD from the laptop. Never done this before, the closest was when I stripped apart my own Acer laptop to try to fix the lines on the display. Unscrewed two panels and discovered that neither looks like the HD. Took a step back, looked at the thing and decided that the HDD should be the little block next to the battery. But I couldn't find the button to release it!

In the end, googled a hardware manual from internet, found a product manual from Compaq. Figured out which screw to release the HDD (but I still had to pry the disk out with a screwdriver!) and then stuffed it into the enclosure. I really mean stuff, because the case was just exactly the size of the disk. Took a lot of stuffing!

Backed up her files, copied the files "NTLDR" and "NTDETECT.COM" from my root.. it's weird, the error is NTDLR but the file is NTLDR! weird weird.. Stuffed the HDD back in, and it works! Phew.. saved a couple hundred in maintenance costs.. Junx, owe you a treat d00d.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Wild wild wet

Went to Wild Wild Wet with Key and Xp and Nekki on Saturday, was fun! We've been quite lucky with rain, first on Friday which was the only non-raining day the whole week, then with Wild Wild Wet where the rain receded, so that the theme park opened at 4pm.. By the time the park was almost due to close, we were just about sianz. Rides were fun, particularly the group rides (the Samsung, that was fun!) and the Tsunami. All in all, it was worth the time since we had free tickets. If we had to pay $12 for it I might be a bit disappointed.

A bit worried for Key.. her knee is hurting more and more. Well, soon be seeing a specialist, hope it's nothing serious.

As an aside, there's the basketball arcade game that we used to play in Taiwan every day we were there... it's at the arcade in DownTown East! A little bit expensive, because for the arcade, you gotta buy a $2 non-refundable deposit on the card with the value, and each bball game costs $1.05.. weird number.. Still, the cool thing was, there was this awesome girl playing the game. In Taiwan, the best we saw was this guy who would pick up the ball with right hand, toss it to the rim, then left hand, toss to the rim, and so on. That guy was accurate plus fast!

But this girl, she was shooting with both hands but at an unbelievable rate of like 2 shots every second! And extremely accurate too, it's more like watching a factory line then a game! End result, 600+ points... what a sight!

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Why Watson's Tissue is so thin

Choon Leng was saying that he didn't like Watson's tissue because it was so thin it kept tearing when he wiped his face. Other than uncomplimentary comparisons between his face and sandpaper, the other thought that struck me was one of the small lessons from the Undercover Economist:

Basically, the tissue is designed to be lousy, so that you'll buy the slightly higher quality brand of Watson's tissue right next to it, that costs twice as much. The cheaper one is for the price-conscious people, and the expensive one is for people willing to pay a bit more. Now, the funny thing is, the cost difference between the two brands is probably much smaller than the price difference, and it may cost less than 5cents for Watson's to improve the quality of their tissue, but they won't, otherwise they won't be able to make you pay lots for the other pack anymore!

It's part of this strategy where they deliberately sell one cheaper product to the price conscious, and the higher quality but even more highly marked-up product to the price-insensitive.

(The example given is actually like, the Safeway Select and other housebrands which are sitting right next to the expensive Post cereals and Free Range eggs, where they purposely pay for bad packaging that makes you think the product is dodgy, but I've found that in Singapore I don't really notice the difference, whereas in US and UK I did!)

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Kino books!

I just, finally got my member's card at Kino! Figure I'll be buying lotsa books anyway...

Well, I was at Kino with Key. My intention was to get my membership and pick up two books. While I was walking around though, I saw a funny thing.. Two books next to each other that showed someone at Kino had a lame sense of humour.. =p

Book 1. Malcolm Gladwell's Blink (which I have), subtitled: The power of thinking without thinking.

Book 2. Michael leGault's Think!, subtitled: Why crucial decisions can't be made in the blink of an eye.

Well anyway, if you didn't think that was funny, you're probably not lame. Anyway, my two new books are:

1. Sandman vol 1: Preludes and Nocturnes, by Neil Gaiman

This is pretty cool. After reading Gaiman's American Gods and Anansi Boys, I find that I quite like his writing style. Interesting thing is, you'll see more and more of his work popping up on the shelves at Times the Bookshop ( I was at PS store the other day), and the shop is quite popularist about which books it puts on its sci-fi and fantasy shelves. So I guess he's becoming mainstream popular.

Anyway, will review as I read, and as I add more of the volumes to my collection.

2. The Undercover Economist, by Jim Harford

This book was recommended by Wei Shyong. He'd read the first two chapters and shared with me the example: Who makes the most money in getting you the Starbucks coffee? The answer? Think, who along the entire chain has the rarest commodity?

So I'll slowly read this and free-associate myself through its principles. First off..
If scarcity increases the share of profit to the holder of scarce resource, and abundance of buyers transfers profit to sellers.. then Singapore's drive to produce "entrepreneurs", not the Silicon Valley types but more properly people who start small businesses... that will drive rentals and the price of commercial property up, while making it harder for those businesses to make good profits..

Kind of half-baked, but hopefully it'll get better as we go along..

Monday, March 27, 2006

Good food on the weekend

The other day Andy mentioned that he was running out of places to eat.. So here's a couple of good places where I ate on the weekend. It's not rocket science food review, I'm just a simple person, if I like it, it's good! Otherwise, it's not! =p

Anyway, Saturday evening was Ramen Ramen Ramen at the Rail Mall, along Upper Bukit Timah. Accessible by bus if you know the Upp Bt Timah stretch well. Dish: Ramen, Ramen, Ramen, their signature. Think ramen noodles in tonkotsu (pork) broth, really really good! Like all the ramen dishes I've eaten, light on meat, but it's really very delicious! And only a teeny weeny bit spicy, even to me with my super-sensitive pepper-detecting fire-breathing tongue. There's also a chizu ramen (cheese!) which I didn't try but it seemed interesting. Side dishes: the codfish was pure heaven, the meat had just a bit of fish oiliness, like snowfish, and blended perfectly with the sauce. I would not recommend the tempura stuff though, kind of bland. Is it supposed to be? Anyway, it's quite affordable too, think the ramen cost was $7.50, well worth the money.

Sunday evening: Margarita's in... Clementi, somewhere. Off Commonwealth avenue, opposite the Clementi fire-station, near Nanhua Primary? Yeah. there. That is so so so so so a drive-in place, unless you want to work up a sweat before AND after dinner. There's a couple of restaurants there, right in the middle of all this landed property. Serves mexican food, I wanted the fajitas, but waiter cautioned it was spicy. In the end... Dish: Some fish (I forget) in avocado sauce. The non-spiciest dish, but it was only so-so. The catfish (which is off the menu) which my mom was having was much much better, and the vegetable paste it came with went superbly well. Drink: Peach honey was only so-so. But the place seems to serve sangrea, next time will try. Side: Nacho's were good, even without sauce. (I don't take salsa sauce, same culprit again.) The fried mushrooms were fantastic, some of the best mushrooms I've ever taken. Bring on the portobello's!

Friday, March 17, 2006

Ban smoking?

This article talks about yet another city that's banning smoking. I like this part:

...defending the right to smoke is politically as appealing as defending the right to pick your nose.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Sunset Grill and Bar

Met Jav, HJ, CZ, Jon and Pierre at the Sunset Grill and Bar for dinner today. Well, out of the whole gang I'm the only one who hasn't bought a car, so had to finagle a lift from CZ. Met him at Yio Chu Kang, and went down Jalan Kayu towards Seletar Camp. It's the hardest place to go, so for the benefit of others I will now provide instructions.

Let's start from the northern end of Jalan Kayu, at the entrance to Seletar Camp. Go through the entrance.. yes, it's inside the camp, don't be like Pierre and wander around outside looking for it. At Picaddily circus, take the second exit, East Camp. Head down and keep going straight, looking for the Seletar Base Golf Course entrance on your right. Turn right, go past the golf course clubhouse, and take the first left turn, there's a sign for "East Camp". Follow the road (ignoring the two right turns) until you come to a T-junction. Take the left turn, and follow the road until you have a chance to right-turn. There should be a signboard here as well. Follow on till you come to the hangars. There should be a left turn that goes behind the hangars... You'll know you're on the right road because next to the road on the right side there's a red Fokker building. Also, there's signs that say no left turn and no right turn before the building.

Almost there! Just follow the road till the end, and left turn at the T-junction. Park, and the sunset grill is just there!

Well now the tough part is over. It's quite a nice place, cool and with the standard Wallaby's kind of fare: Steak, pork chops and fish for main, buffalo wings, calamari, nachos and fried mushrooms for starters. Kind of expensive: My pork chops were $16+, steaks are $22+ to 28+ for ribeye, and wings were $13 for half a dozen level 0 wings. (no, they don't play warcraft, it's a spiciness measure. Level 0 is fried wings, buffalo wings start at level 1.) Verdict: good food, pricey. Jon would add, good place to bring girls because of the dark areas all around... lol..

Conversation was mostly catching up, and crapping, the usual. But before everyone else arrived I had quite an interesting conversation with CZ. He was talking about swimming, the wet kind. He's kind of into sports and fitness now, going for biathlon next week. Now for me, I was swimming since before nursery, was actually competing and winning prizes as a little kid in swimming club, but got yanked out of swimming classes when primary school started. So I thought my basics were pretty good. But here CZ was talking about all the research he had done into swimming: how you're supposed to spin on your long axis in free style, how your arms are supposed to be making a "hold" like you're doing rock climbing and hauling yourself along, how you're supposed to twist your arm like you're diving into a sweater. Really cool stuff analysing the process of swimming! Was superb interesting, thinking about this kind of thing.. physics and swimming.

Anyway, he recommended a book, Total Maybe I'll go look it up.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

We're out of Europe! :<

Woke up to sad news.. we lost, out of Europe now. Well. let's hope we can overhaul Man U...

Parliament was fun!

I spent a day in Parliament yesterday. It was fun! too bad I couldn't bring a camera in to show and tell.. but I don't understand why, anyway, it's a televised session, why no camera?

Right at the gate to exchange passes I had my first incident of note. The queue had two lines, "Ministry officials" and "public". I was behind my friend who was being served, and I'd just noticed that the other counter was open, but I didn't walk over (my friend's name and mine were together so it was easier to serve us both). Instead, this lady walked past us to the counter, past the rest of the queue. So the guy behind us spoke up and said, "Excuse me, why don't you have to queue?" And the lady said she was a ministry official. Whereupon the guy who spoke up said, "Well, so are we!" The lady just ignored him at that point...

You know those magnetic walkthrough scanners? At the airport, I always worried that the screw in my wrist would set it off. Now with the screw out, I confidently unloaded all metal objects and walked through. Set it off. In fact, no-one managed to get through. This tells me two things. (1) Why bother with the big scanner? The policeman's gonna have to screen you with the handheld scanner anyway. (2) If someone walks through without setting it off, as a police personnel I would really be suspicious.

Well, on to the debate proper. Three main funny bits and 1 interesting one:

1) PhD from USC v Hon D from SCU
1 MP's speech touched on the misuse of honorary doctorates. In particular the raised the example of one CEO who recently had to clarify that he did not have a PhD from University of Southern California, he had an honorary doctorate from Southern California University. "The former a top 30 university, the latter... couldn't be found in a listing of universities in California."

2) So long as it's a male costume...
Dr Ng Eng Hen made a joke about Mr Lim Swee Say's being a chef one week and a roadsweeper the next. He was remarking on the success of the JRP and wondered what uniform he would wear next - but so long as it was a male costume it was okay!

3) Bao bao bao
Mr Seng Han Thong also had a very nice speech in Chinese. I actually thought the Mandarin speakers were much more entertaining than most of the English ones. Anyway, he made a few jokes based on the use of the word "bao" in outsourcing, comparing "wai bao", "hao bao", "lan bao" and others. I'm looking for a Mandarin transcript, anyone have one?

4) NUS University Fees
Out of order here, but this was the interesting one to me. Basically the argument is that NUS can practice "needs-blind admission" (true) and maintain a high-quality education ( some would disagree) based on 3 factors: Govt funding, realistic fees, and financial assistance for the poorest. And NUS/NTU/SMU together offered 25% of each cohort a high quality education.

Now, I first must say that I think that the fees generally are reasonable - whether hikes are, or whether consultation is necessary, I don't know. And the quality of education is not poor - Despite all of the stories I head bandied around, my memory of NUS education was a rigorous one, even if it was somewhat boring compared to my overseas experiences.

Therefore, I would not mind sending my child to NUS. However, I would not expect the same standard of education of say an Ivy League institution, no matter what the rankings say. That's not a slight to NUS. I simply think (and have always thought), that NUS has a dilemma at its being, in that it has to provide education for Singaporeans in general and is unable to restrict itself to an elite bunch of entrants.

Just remember. 25% of each cohort. I'm not sure how many students NUS has, but I'm pretty sure that entrance grades for NUS are far far lower than MIT, or most of the Ivy League schools. And that's the way it has to be, otherwise even more Singaporeans won't be able to get in. Not that Singaporeans are dumb, far from it, but it is not appropriate to compare NUS with the Ivy Leagues.

There's a lot to say here, but at the end of the day, I would say that NUS students should stop bitching about the "shortcomings" of NUS, and realise that their university education is in their own hands. If you think that your NUS degree won't get you places, well, you have plenty of time between classes and during holidays to do stuff to build up your resume.

Well, that takes care of quality. That leaves cost. Simply consider this: your education will help you earn higher wages. If you think that having an $x increase in your starting wage (NTU reported $2600 right?) and even larger increments over the rest of your working life are not worth the university fees and 4 years of your life, then my advice to you is, don't! If it is an economically sound decision, then why should anyone pay you to do what is profitable to you? If it's not a sound decision, then go seek out whatever gives you the best opportunity cost: entrepreneur, retailer, hawker, insurance agent, soccer player, Singapore idol. If you are at this juncture of your life, you have the opportunity to make of your life what you will. Your most precious resources are time and hope. Don't waste time burning your own hope...

Monday, March 06, 2006

ASK! and win something

Heh, Gahmen initiatives do tend to give away nice stuff nowadays. Last time it was that CPF financial planning game (how DID those guys score so high anyway?!!) and now, NLB is offering iPod Shuffles and other prizes, if you just ask questions...

Best part, you can ask by email... fire away! Me, I've got a ton of questions. Dunno if they're interesting or thought-provoking though, lol. Don't think I'll be lucky enough to win the iPod Shuffle, but books and movie tickets sound good too!

Check your wireless connection

Read this article on NYTimes, and thought, I've set up my wireless encryption from day 1,b but I'd better hop back and take a look.

Can you legislate against discrimination?

There's been a lot of focus in the last few months on discrimination: age, sex, race, even weight! New York Times had a feature which touched on this today. Basically, Craigslist is being sued for advertisements appearing on it which say things like, (and I quote from the NYTimes article)
"African Americans and Arabians tend to clash with me so that won't work out,"

and that's apparently against the law -- specifically, the federal Fair Housing Act. The person making the ad can be sued -- and now they're testing to see if Craigslist, carrying the ad, can also be sued.

My question is, if Mr XYZ placing the ad actually did feel that way, how would forcing him to place an ad minus the discriminatory comments, help to give fair housing? In the end, he would have those thoughts in his head when he makes a choice of room-mate.. Unless of course, you're saying that say an African American applied for the room and didn't get it, then he would be able to sue Mr XYZ for discrimination because he didn't get the room! Which would be mind-boggling to me, because, what, if I were letting out a room, I would discriminate actively against smokers, against druggies, against... well, if I just didn't think that I'd enjoy staying with him I wouldn't let him the room would I?

Or, look at this other NYTimes article, on an imam in NY. On page 4, the imam discusses how a tone-deaf man could sue for discrimination if he were not allowed to give the call to prayer. That's like, if people who couldn't sing wanted to lead praise and worship and could sue you if you didn't let them.

Of course, that's robably an extreme view of discrimination legislation in the US. But still, the main thing is that you can't effectively legislate against it. Instead, changing mindsets is the way to go...

Question: Is discrimination bad for the person discriminating, relative to the rest of society? If it is, we shouldn't need to bother, those guys can figure out what to do to help themselves. So for instance, if people refused to do business with people who discriminate, then the practice would soon die out.

On the other hand, if discrimination imposes costs on society (probably true, though I won't argue that at length today), but doesn't hurt the person discriminating: then there's no reason for him to stop discriminating. It's like the negative externality of traffic congestion.. no individual person has enough of incentive to stop driving, because most of the costs he inflicts is on others.

So if you want to end discrimination: discriminate against those who discriminate, today!

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Two new blogs

Nekki just reloaded his blog, and XP finally started up her own. So, refresh the blog a bit so that can add theirs in!

I'm barely home for dinner nowadays. Other than the financial impact, the main thing is that I'm getting home late everyday and tired. And I'm missing out on catching up with friends + having any time for say, THC stuff. Am I happy? I feel comfortable with my current lifestyle.. but def got to make more time for friends. As for THC.. I don't know, I feel partly guilty about living a selfish life, but somehow the fire's gone out...

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Career. what a thing to think about 6 months into work

Today, I had a discussion with my boss. It's part of this 6 month review thing because I just started work. Anyway, my boss is really a fantastic guy, in the sense that he does care very much for us subordinates' well-being both in the short term and in our careers. So he took the time to describe to me the various qualities that I would be rated on throughout my career, the concept behind CEP and what I could expect.

Basically, if I proceed like an average average MX, I can probably expect to be earning about 9k a month when I'm 38 to 40. And maybe 16k when I'm 50 through to retirement.

Is that alright / enough for me? I don't know. It's not a fantastic amount compared to what private sector could pay.. but of course it's an unbelievably stable (for the nonce) rice bowl. And a family could get by comfortably on that salary, if not fantastically. So... how? I enjoy my job... I just don't know if at the end of it I'll be happy with the compensation... It's not that I'll be unhappy. Just that I don't know. Well... 5 years is a long time, I'll know more soon.

Dinner today was at this union event. I was attending cos I need to research, but anyway, I'm discovering more and more that I can be a very reserved person... As in, I can interact easily with a fun bunch of people, but with older people, authority figures or just people I don't generally see as fun, I tend to clam up. Not a very good thing for networking. Maybe I would be better off in an academic setting? heh.. something to consider in the future.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Caught under the car tire..

No, not a figurative way of describing a bad situation.
Jimmy's foot was actually caught under the tire as he was getting in a car on Sunday. I was in the car and the car started moving, while Jimmy was still half-in. He shouted "Stop!" and when the driver stopped, I was expecting Jimmy to quickly get in. Nobody knew his foot was under the tire, cos his expression and voice were pretty calm.

It was when he asked the driver to reverse that we realised that something was wrong. Gosh, imagine, half in a car, and your foot being run over by the car. He wasn't permanently injured, but pretty shell-shocked the rest of the day. If driver had pressed accelerator he'd at least have twisted his foot. (Probably wouldn't have been torn off!)

2 years..

Well, two years and we're still together. I'm loving her more and more every day!

Anyway... we cooked at my place. Penne in cream sauce with ham and salmon in unagi sauce. Yes the two dishes don't go together, but I have a limited repertoire okay? Photos of cooking and her gift for me coming up.

Friday, January 13, 2006


Been a long time since I've posted.. Busy, and not much reason to, I guess.

Yesterday, I was at TTSH. Visiting someone, who as it turns out, had diabetes. A first that I didn't relish. It's a tough disease to have... and most of all because it's not something that hits you all at once, it's more long and protracted, and it offers the possibility of salvation, but at so much sacrifice.

Coincidentally, or not, I've been reading the New York Times' special series on the diabetes, Type II problem that is hitting New York now. So far, these articles:

Diabetes and Its Awful Toll Quietly Emerge as a Crisis
Living at an Epicenter of Diabetes, Defiance and Despair
In the Treatment of Diabetes, Success Often Does Not Pay
East Meets West, Adding Pounds and Peril

It makes for sobering reading. At an intersection of culture, diet, and modernization, there's a trap awaiting each of us. And Asians, particularly Far Eastern stock, are far more vulnerable to it than the average Caucasian. And once you're in the trap, it's awful hard living to stay alive, controlling your diet, watching your feet, living life in an invisible intangible bubble, like that bubble boy maybe...