Monday, June 30, 2008

Education of Window Shopping

Window shopping may be enjoyable to many in this island dotted with shopping centres. One is able to enjoy the cool air-con and the whole of the unique shopping culture, without forking a single cent.

To some, window shopping is also educational. I heard of some Singaporeans who would often enter into stores of different themes such as computers, books, health products, electrical appliances, etc and keep flooding the service personnel with a barrage of questions as they toss in their hands the products in the hands to which the service personnel though they are interested in.

They leave the store without the product but with quite a good knowledge of the product they are interested in. To them shopping has become a form of education.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

No broadcast of Eurocups on National TV

I feel sad that Mediacorp, the leading local television channel in Singapore is not screening the live telecast of the final of Eurocups.

Mediacorp, in my opinion, is silent on the needs: the fact that many of its viewers do really crave, wish, aspire, want to watch the Eurocups final live on one of its many Channels, such as Channel 5. I believe viewers do not mind if Mediacorp does not broadcast all the pre-semi final matches of the Eurocups; and when Mediacorp still does not broadcast the semi-finals of the Euro-cups, viewers still try to forgive, thinking that Mediacorp would at the very least and last, broadcast the grand final; but now Mediacorp is not broadcasting any live telecast of the final of the Eurocups at all!

Yes, one can say that with the proliferation of the internet, it is no big deal, one can just watch the Eurocup tournaments free on the internet. Also there are the Singapore Cable Vision, (SCV) channels that viewers can explore; but this option is limited only to those who pay and subscribe to SCV.

It is not really the issue that viewers have other options to view the Eurocups readily, it is the issue that Mediacorp, being the national media station should at least do something, at least broadcast this event; an event that comes only once every 2 years to its viewers whose a majority does not own SCV and have only Mediacorp programmes to watch.

Nothing beats watching the Eurocup finals on home television. One is the better quality of the graphic and the larger screen. Two is the luxury of watching at the comfort of sofa in the living room mostly and with the loved ones. I hear that some Singaporeans even resort to riding on the Malaysian television network illegally to watch the biennially great sporting event or to join the long throngs of crowds and mostly standing at the coffee shops in the wee hours of the night, watching the action.

Even the coverage of Eurocups during the news broadcast is unsatisfactory!

I do not really watch local TV productions on television, just some documentaries and news; the rest are just repeated and repeated broadcast of shows.I also prefer to watch Taiwan or Hong Kong dramas than local dramas as the quality of local dramas, in my opinion, is not up to an optimal quality.

Above is just my opinion, one can have different views on this topic.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

WHEN A LIZARD CAN, WHY CAN'T WE?

Received some emails about a sotry on Lizards and Morals, here the story goes:

This is a true story that happened in Japan . In order to renovate the house, someone in Japan breaks open the wall. Japanese houses normally have a hollow space between the wooden walls. When tearing down the walls, he found that there was a lizard stuck there because a nail from outside hammered into one of its feet. He sees this, feels pity, and at the same time curious, as when he checked the nail, it was nailed 10 years ago when the house was first built.. !What happened? The lizard has survived in such position for 10 years!!!!!!!!!! In a dark wall partition for 10 years without moving, it is impossible and mind-boggling. Then he wondered how this lizard survived for 10 years! Without moving a single step--since its foot was nailed! So he stopped his work and observed the lizard, what it has been doing, and what and how it has been eating. Later, not knowing from where it came appears another lizard, with food in its mouth. Ah! He was stunned and touched deeply. For the lizard that was stuck by nail; another lizard has been feeding it for the past 10 years... Imagine? It has been doing that untiringly for 10 long years, without giving up hope on its partner. Think, will u do that to your partner? Think that will you do it to your Mom, who brought you after a big struggle of nine long months? Or at least to your Dad, Friends, Co-workers, brothers and Sisters? Imagine what a small creature can do that a creature blessed with a brilliant mind can't. As information and communication technology advances, our access to information becomes faster and faster. But the distance between human beings . .. . is it getting closer as well? Please never abandon your loved ones Never Say U R Busy When They Really Need You... You May Have The Entire World At Your Feet...... But You Might Be The Only World To Them.... A Moment of negligence might break the very heart which loves you thru all odds.... Before you say something just remember. It takes a moment to Break but an entire life to make...
To Live Use Heart and to Survive use Brains. Then Life would be a paradise Unfurling only Love Joy and Happiness....

Fridays

Today is Friday once again, the most coveted day of the weekend finally arrives once again; and its time to rest, relax and do the things that we want during the weekends.

This weekend would be fun, especially to soccer fans as Germany would face off with Spain in the final of the Euro-cups on Monday early morning. I have not checked out whether TCS would be broadcasting this final, I would not be surprised if it doesn’t as even the semi-finals of this great event were also not broadcast o this particular channel. Anyway, we are living in the 21st century where information flows freely and unrestrictedly in a host of high tech devices like the internet and viewers all over the world are now entitled to watch the Eurocups live from the internet at absolutely no charges.

I would be expecting quite a number of panda eyes for those working and studying when Monday comes.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Eurocups

At this time of writing, the Eurocups has almost come to an end. Germany has defeated Turkey in the first semi-final and tonight, Spain will make a date with Russia in the second semi-final.

Spain is hotly tipped to defeat Russia and face off with tournament’s favorite Germany.

I predict Germany would win this year’s Eurocup at the commencement of the tournament and my prediction is gathering shape.

77,000

The number of Singapore’s millionaires (defined as Singaporeans having a net worth of US $1 million in net assets, excluding housing property) surged up to 77,000 from the previous official figures of 66,600. This figure makes up about 2% of the total Singapore population of 4 million and Singapore ranks 7th globally among the countries with the highest proportion of millionaires.

Thus out of 50 locals one meets, one of them might be a millionaire, not having just S$1 million in accumulated worth but owning a US $1 million in net assets! I have personally observed that Singaporeans are getting wealthier, judging from the slew of luxury items they are lapping up distinctly and readily off the shelves!

While it is still common to hear of Singaporeans earning a modest income of $2000 in our society, a bulk of our people are starting to earn big bucks and at a much earlier age. Newspaper reek of stories of the fresh graduates earning starting salaries of $20,000 and more per month in jobs, mainly in the finance line. Banking seems to be the most lucrative career and an investment banker seems to be the most coveted job in terms of monetary payout (provided one can take the stress and strain of some of these highly demanding jobs).

Many others, in their quests to join the ranks of local millionaires are also exploring entrepreneurship. Newpapers abound of free seminars on the varied routes to become entrepreneurs (for more information on such seminars, please refer to my earlier posts) and the take up rate for such entrepreneur programmes seems to be pretty encouraging.

In a nutshell, to become a millionaire in Singapore and join the ranks of the 77,000 uber-rich, one could explore the following means:

a) Inherit a profitable family business
b) Investment (think of Warren Buffet who becomes the world’s wealthiest man via this mean)
c) Join banking (especially investment banking) and other traditionally lucrative industries such as insurance, property agents and strive to be the next MDRT, Court of the Table or even Top of the Table)
d) Be an entrepreneur

If the above four methods are not for you, then one could only explore the traditional method of working hard and saving hard (though it may possibly take a lifetime to garner a million bucks in this way). Alternatively, one could also join the long queues at the Singapore Pools outlets!

The important thing to note is that one shall not indulge in the heedless pursuit of money, as happiness and health are more important in life. All said, with the rich in Singapore getting richer, the income gap between the rich and poor further widens.

Music to some is noise for others

In this age, some songs are no longer songs. It is not that uncommon today to hear the loud music emanating from the headsets of youngsters on the streets, on the buses, in the MRTs and in fact everywhere.

I often find it infuriating when the individual activities one engage in pervade into public domain and become public nuisance, even causing harm to members of the public. Take for example, smokers who smoke indiscriminately, huffing and puffing among non-smokers, and harming the health of the latter group. Loud music, as mentioned earlier is also a constant sources of annoyance to the public. In fact, it is flattering to label loud music as such, for most of the public would find it a noise and disturbance.

For truly classical and inspirational music, one would find a gem of it in legendary composers such as Yanni and Kitaro. ‘Song of Antarctica ’ a musical piece by Yanni is especially soothing to the ears as well as soul.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Strength of Life

Saw a young child today going to school with clutches on both his hands. His legs seemed to be deformed and weak, every step he took required great strength and courage as he dug both his clutches just to make one step forward. Every step he made, he displayed immense courage, put in rapt concentration, totally ignoring the countless number of stares drawn to him by the on-lookers.

Imagine a simple thing that we take for granted such as walking, to some, it is a challenge to be surmounted everyday. It is easy to get carried away with life, to grumble small things here and there, to chase for the unimportant things in life, while forgetting that we are healthy and blessed in certain ways.

The sobering reminders often come knocking to us only when we witness how some unfortunate brave and cherish each day with their undying courage, determination and strength.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Home internet connection

A large proportion of Singapore’s homes have internet connection, broadband connection to be exact.

Gone were the days where computer is a must for every Singaporean household, nowadays internet-connected computer(s) have become a necessity for all Singaporean households.

The proliferation of home internet connection has become a necessity as a bulk of Singapore’s government services and transactions are now made online and schools from the primary to the varsities are moving towards the electronic learning platform.

It is not convenient not to own an internet connection for students, even for primary school students. I have colleagues who are not really pleased to wire up an internet connection at home for their school-going children, just to ease their inconvenience of doing and submitting electronic school work (most schools offer computer clusters for the use of their students, but nothing beats using home internet connection).

And with the internet connection at homes, children start to get exposed to some of the vices lurking in the internet such as violence, computer games addiction, chatting, pornography etc.

Home internet connection may become a necessary evil but how much negative impact internet can have on one’s children can still be controlled by the parents.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Right to Breathe (Fresh Air)

I have something to share with readers. I wholeheartedly find that the number of smokers in Singapore is really increasing exponentially!

I have nothing against smokers; it is their right to choose to smoke. However being a non-smoker, I do not really like smokers who puff and huff cigarette smoke or hold their lit cigarettes as they walk; spreading the cigarette fumes around to non-smokers.

Just today alone, I have met a number of inconsiderate smokers who huff and puff near me, forcing me to inhale some of the cigarette smoke and become a passive smoker. I have also really notice that on the streets that more and more Singaporeans smoking, irregardless of age and sex.

Along with this phenomenon, is the unstoppable increase of vehicles on our roads which inevitably increases air pollution.

Thus the air around us may not really be as fresh as we would want it to be, in light of more and more smokers and vehicles in Singapore.

When I am abroad in a really rural kind of setting with lush vegetation and lesser people and vehicles, I can really breathe in FRESH air and I could tell the distinct difference and the invigorating taste of fresh and unpolluted air.

Systems

I attended a useful workshop on Systems Learning yesterday and learn the Systems parlance such as ‘balancing feedback’, ‘reinforcing feedback’ and the like. However I would like to add that a System in everyday life, like in the Engineering context, has a

a) desired set-point
b) actual output
c) disturbances
d) feedback
e) controller


Desired set-point is the goal you set for yourself, actual output is what you actually achieved. Along the way towards achieving one’s goals, one would face many challenges; these are what I called disturbances. Pursuant to one’s actual output, there would always be feedback given to us for us to constantly tweak our actions to achieve our goals. Last but not least, controllers are we ourselves and we are the controllers of our destiny! (if you are in the same camp of thought as me J )

Underdogs

This year’s Eurocups were marked by winnings by underdogs. In today’s quarter-final match, the seeming omnipotent Netherlands was sent packing home by the underdog Russia. In the match one day before this, Croatia fell prey to Turkey. At this juncture, only Germany has upheld its traditional powerhouse status, slaying off Portugal in the first quarter-final. The ball is round and both Spain and Italy shall have an equal opportunity of winning today’s quarter-final though personally I prefer Italy and would like to see a final between Germany and Italy.

The striking and stunning performance by the underdogs is what makes this year Eurocup special. It is exactly for the same reason that pundits lose their hard-earned moneys; for seeming easy- to-predict match like the Netherlands and Russia today (where the widely tipped-to-win team was the former) deviate from their strong beliefs.

It is a good sign that some countries who are not traditional winning favourites in the Euros are having a field day now by having come so far in the tournament, regardless of whether they would win the Eurocup ultimately or no; it has been a marked improvement for them. Applying the same principle to our everyday lives, the less successful lot of our society would one day improve their standard of living, given that they constantly upgrade themselves and be resilient in the face of adversity.

Sunday Blues

As I am typing this post on my blog, many Singaporeans have fallen asleep. The time is now 0025 and the day is 22 June 08, Sunday, and needless to say the most coveted day of the week: Saturday has come to a close 20 minutes before.

Yes, today being Sunday is a brand new day and a new day of the weekend as well as being the first day of the week. However Sunday can never takes the place of Saturday: on a Saturday, one can paint the town red, return home really late, sleep late and wake up late on the following day but not on a Sunday.

Many say that they have Monday blues come every first workday of the week and they use this to justify their lack of motivation, productivity and cheerfulness on Mondays. I would like to add that there are actually Sunday Blues, just that we do not really notice this phenomenon; or we notice it and just pretend that it does not occur. How many times have you rethink of your plan on a Sunday night-out due to the fact that the next day would be a Monday where another busy and hectic work week would commence? I believe many Singaporeans return from a night-out on a Sunday earlier than one that falls on a Saturday or just go for an afternoon outing completely, returning home on the early evening of a Sunday and get prepared for a week of work, both mentally and logistically. Thus, there are really Sunday Blues, whether we want to deny or not, just that they vary in degrees to different people. I can only think that Sunday Blues do not apply to people who are not employed (except for home makers with kids who may dread the start of another week of sending their kids to school etc) or who have taken off on the following day.

We have heard of people telling us how much less hectic work is in other countries compared to Singapore, and we envy the greener pasture in these countries, but unless we really experienced it, we shall not really validate their opinions.

As I was typing this post, my internet connection comes to a crawl. I reckon it must be the hundreds of Singaporeans logging on to the internet to catch the Eurocup actions for free.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

My predictions for Eurocups from Quarter-Finals to Final

Finally after 2 weeks of battling, the quarter-finalists of Eurocup 2008 finally come to the fore. The quarter finals kick off today with Portugal vs Germany.

In a nut shell, the quarter finals would be fought as follows:

Portugal vs Germany

Croatia vs Turkey

Netherlands vs Russia

Spain vs Italy

I predict Portugal would triumph over Germany, while Croatia will slaughter off Turkey. Netherlands will easily win over Russia and Spain will be no match for Italy.

Portugal would then face Croatia and win over Croatia in the first Semi-final.

Netherlands will then meet Italy and easily triump over the latter.

Finally, Portugal will come face to face with Netherlands before lifting off the championship trophy.

Man fell into refuse bunker!

A refuse truck operator fell 21 metres down into the refuse bunker of Tuas South Incineration Plant this afternoon, lucky to cheat death and just escaped with fractures.

But it must be a harrowing experience for the man who was cushioned by the tons of smelling and rotting refuse for the smell would definitely be unforgettable to him.

During the brief stint, dozens of minute harmful particles may also be inhaled by the man, and this will pose a health risk to the man

Discount

I bought 3 bottles of vitamins at one of the many branches of a popular pharmacy stores at a supposedly discounted price of $39.90, 20% lower than the original prices. I was happy with my purchase, thinking that I have a great bargain.

The next day, I happened to patronise the OG store at Bugis and noted the same set of 3 bottles of vitamins at the same price of $39.90 (with 20% discount). Same price, I thought, however one of the sales staff then attended to me, and promoted the vitamins, rattling off that the vitamins are now under discount. No big deal, I said to myself, however I was later surprised to hear that the price tag of $39.90 stated the price before the 20% discount and thus the same bottles of vitamins is now selling at $31.90! I could practically feel my heart pinch as it was a clear $8 difference and I could have saved $8 if I were to wait for just one more day!

Anyway, I have always thought that the pharmacy store selling the higher priced vitamins is always the more expensive store in Singapore as I have experienced similar episodes to the one I described in this article, and I am going to give this store a miss in future for seemingly discounted items are still pricier compared to the same offerings from other stores.

PRC Service Staff

An increasing number of local shops are being served by Chinese nationals who only speak basic English. Many a times, I was surprised when some of these service staff could not understand my requests though I have used very simple English; some of them could not even understand in English, the names of some of the product that the shops carry. What was surprising is that these encounters also occur in uptown shops like Raffles City Shopping Centre and the like and I have to resort back to using Chinese to be understood by the staff. Singapore’s service quality has not always been ranked top-notch by both locals and foreigners; the continuous use of service staff who could not understand common English would stand Singapore in an even bad stead. Some tourists may also be turned off by the lacklustre and wanting service standard as well finding it awkward for being not understood in English in a city where English is a spoken common language. Employers should ensure their service staff could understand common requests from customers made in English else their bottom lines would soon plunge and the Singapore’s service quality will ebb subsequently.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Work

I see scores of working adults returning home from work late every night during the period 8pm to 11pm, tugging their luggage and handbags, appearing visibly tired, with lethargy written all over their faces. They are employees who have clocked overtime.

This is the face of work for a significant lot in Singapore whereby employees work overtime, sometimes at the expense of having no overtime pay at their companies, trading after-office hours for work instead of pursuing family life, catching up with friends, exercise and other hobbies.

It is inevitable as most of the times, bosses hold the triumph cards. The refusal to work overtime when other colleagues are doing so may be tantamount to slacking off the job and forfeiting the chance for further promotion or bonus.

Work-life balance should be the priority for all employees. Employers should also recognise that their employees need a balanced life and that the balance of life would translate ultimately to better productivity and profit margins for the company.

In my opinion, there are two schools of thought for the definition of work: a) work is life b) work sustains life. For me, I believe in the latter thought that work sustains life as via working, one earns the keep to support his or his family’s daily expenses of living and pursuing his interests and his hobbies; which collectively form life, not work alone.

However in some cases, whether work sustains life or is life itself is not an option: employees in certain sectors may spend significant portions of their time at work due to the nature of work.

Fortunately, employees do have a choice to quit his job if his work becomes the sole definition of life and cross over to another which offers better work-life balance. There may be definitely be some sacrifices during this transition in terms of pay, status etc; but ultimately I believe it is worth it.

Ultimately, one’s health would be adversely affected if one is to work and work and work ………. and health is of utmost importance to man.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Is Life Fair?

Many people including me must have the impression or rather perception that life is unfair owning to the diverse people we see in our everyday lives. Some are very rich, others are very poor; some are fit and healthy, others are unfortunate…. and the comparisons run the gamut of mind-bogging comparisons.

If there are things that are fair in this world, it must be that all man on planet earth each has the same number of hours each day: 24 hours, no more or less and that all man, no matter, how established and successful they are, will fade away with time, though people will argue that even in death, life is unfair: some live to a ripe old age while others may not live very long.

I find that time though is a standard dimensional unit and every man is given the same 24 hours each day, when we enjoy ourselves or are busy, time passes very fast and when we do not enjoy what we are doing, time seems to be crawling.

Sleeping occupies almost third of a person’s life, thus if a person has lived 90 years of age, in practical, he is living only 60 years of age. Since man spends a significant amount of time sleeping, can one then shortens the time spent on sleeping so that one can spend more hours living on this earth doing more productive things? Unfortunately, the answer is no. Sleep is a biological activity and all animals, including man must sleep to live. Sleep deprivation and lack of sleep will be injurious to health and ultimately sends one to the grave faster than if he were not to sleep.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Playing with fire

I was walking past the void deck towards the starting point of my routine jog today when I witnessed a NTUC trolley containing a piece of debris which was starting to burn. Seeing this, I rushed towards the trolley and fished out a cardboard discarded near the trolley and with some heavy patting, managed to extinguish the fire in its infancy. Then I pushed the trolley away after putting out the fire.

Pondering on who could be the culprit(s) to set the fire, I looked around me and saw a group of 3 kids, playing with matchsticks at the playground. It was obvious who the culprits were and so I confronted them, asking them whether they were the arsonists.

Towering above them and with my stern tone of voice, one of the kids who has the biggest build confessed to the act and I asked them whether they would like me to report to the police. Furthermore, I asked them where their parents were but they had no answers for that; it seems that their parents were not around at the place with them. They were clearly afraid by my confrontation and ‘interrogation’ and to end the matter, I confiscated the matchbox from them and proceeded on.

Unrelentlessly, two of the kids followed me, still feigning ignorance, claiming that they were not the culprits. They begged me to return the matchbox to them. Tears were welling in their eyes. I handed the matchbox to them after letting them off with a stern warning.

Throughout this episode, there were quite a crowd who had gathered to watch the commotion. I was nonetheless perturbed or embarrassed by this crowd who had formed to watch the scene as I was just doing what a normal citizen shall do.

What disturbed me was the fact that when I discovered that the trolley was starting to burn, there were some adults who had obviously seen the same thing, why did they not want to put a end to the fire and chastise the kids or to even prevent the kids from carrying out the arsonist act?

Kids nowadays are really spoilt from what I have observed. In Singapore, both parent are usually working to support their family, leaving the care of their children to their maids. Lack of parental guidance is dangerous; one see from this incident that kids can actually play with fire as a consequence from it; what greater ‘fire’ would they afflict on the society if their character was not tweaked subsequently from proper education and guidance?

Croatia vs Germany

I braved fatigue yesterday midnight to watch on the internet the Eurocup Group A match between Croatia and Germany. That was the first match of the Eurocup soccer tournament 2008 that I watched as I wanted to validate my belief that Croatia would triumph over one of the tournament’s favourite teams.

Prior to watching the matches, I have read many news and sports articles which prophesied that Croatia was definitely going to be run down by the Germans in this match; some of these predictions were also written by renowned local soccer players. The whole nation has many believing that the Germans were clear winners, with the odds at Singapore Pools for Croatia to win at this game starting at 6.00 and jumping to 6.50 just few hours before the commencement of the match (conversely, odds for Germany opened at 1.6 and become lower as the match drew closer).

Alas, my belief was right: Croatia won against the Germans by 2:1 ! For soccer matches, personally I believe there is no really much analysis to look at or done; the news articles and reports predicting the results of the matches are one thing; the actual playing of the teams at the match is another. The ball is always round, and it does not always mean the better team will win; even the best soccer team on earth may fall to a minnow (here, I am not saying Croatia is a minnow team, in fact, this team has immense hidden soccer power, that’s why I am supporting fully for the team in the match, though I do not think it will march to the finals).

The probability of better teams winning is always high, but I believe too in trusting your natural instinct. I agreed wholeheartedly with the theory of the book ‘Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking’ book written by Malcolm Gladwell; sometimes one must trust one’s gut instincts.

For those who would like to watch an action of the tournament that is currently besieging the world but have no access to the channels featuring the matches and do not like to go to the packed coffee shops to roar together with the uncles, one may download the free media player ‘TV U player’ from the internet and start watching for free. It is still not late; there are about two weeks more before the tournament closes, not to mention that there are also many other interesting channels to view on the player.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Portugal and Germany

The Eurocup fever has fantasised the world for close to a week already. On the onset of the competition, I have predicted that Portugal and Germany would be facing off in the finals of the competition. At this juncture of the competition, my guess may still be correct as these two countries are at the tops of their individual groups in the results so far.

Europe seems a nice place to travel to. Though I have not been to Europe myself, I have heard of how nice the place is, how friendly the people there are and the slow but quality pace of life in Europe in terms of work, life and leisure balance. Europe is also a beautiful place with iconic attractions, blessed with the beautiful four seasons, with friendly people too.

But I have to experience Europe myself too as seeing is believing.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Customers are still Kings

In my blog post one or two months back, I have mentioned that a stall owner of a mixed vegetable rice stall I patronized almost daily, has capitalized on the rising cost of rice to justify the price increases of all rice items. All rice dishes, after the increase cost 20 cents more and additional toppings of rice incur an additional charge of 20 cents.

When the ‘price increase policy’ was implemented, it was done without prior notification to customers, thus all of them including them were caught off-guard and grudgingly paid the increased prices.

I have even clarified with the stallholder himself asking for the rationale of the price increase; ‘to cover cost’ he bluntly stated.

Since the price increase of the dishes by the stall, I had stopped patronizing the stall and switched to purchasing my meals from the other stalls, which not only have not increased their prices but also serve better food as I gradually sussed out.

And gradually as I have noticed, the once-long queues, which formed at the rice dishes stall, has silently become shorter everyday. The regular customers must have also switched to other food stalls as could be seen by the increasing length of the queues at these stalls.

Today, after about one or two months since the particular food stall has increased the prices of its rice dishes, I saw a signpost made out of vanguard sheet hung at the stall; obviously it must have been created by the stall owners themselves.

On the signboard read: “One meat dish + two vegetable dishes at only $2.30 only (limited for takeaway only). Additional toppings of rice at additional 20 cents.”

The food stall owner definitely would not have resorted to putting up such a signpost except to pull in customers, to ‘win’ back customers they have lost as a result of the price increase they have implemented.

At the now reduced and attractive prices, some previous regular customers may really do an ‘about-turn’ and returned to patronizing the food owner’s stall, hence the stall owners thus would have won some old customers back.

But for some, the stall owner’s remedial actions may have seem futile or even desperate. Others may also not return to the food stall anymore, no matter how attractive the prices look now, for ‘once bitten twice shy’.

The stall owner has foolishly and unjustifiably increased the prices of his rice dishes when his counterparts at the food centre does not do so. Doing that, he has thought he could earn some profits too. Little did he see that 'Customers are still Kings'

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Saving Gaia

Mediacorp is currently running a publicity blitz of spreading the Green Message with the overarching theme ‘Saving Gaia’.

‘Gaia’ has become one of the hottest words in Singapore these days, but what is ‘Gaia’? Some Singaporeans even pronounced ‘Gaia’ as ‘Kaya’, slighting the Green Message campaign.

So what is ‘Gaia’?

Dr James Ephraim Lovelock, CH, CBE, FRS (born 26 July 1919) is an independent scientist, author, researcher, environmentalist, and futurist who lives in Cornwall, in the south west of Great Britain. He is known for proposing the Gaia hypothesis, in which he postulates that the Earth functions as a kind of superorganism.
James Lovelock defined Gaia as:

a complex entity involving the Earth's biosphere, atmosphere, oceans, and soil; the totality constituting a feedback or cybernetic system which seeks an optimal physical and chemical environment for life on this planet.

Bio-fuels

In a bid to curb the reliance and use of the dwindling fossil fuels, more and more countries are exploring the use of alternative fuels like bio-fuels.

Bio-fuels such as corns are increasingly being harnessed for fuels. Such alternative use of food like corns are welcome measures in this world where we witness the dwindling natural resources amidst the mounting environmental degradation issues that homo-sapien has inevitably created as a result of modernization. However the use of food like corn as fuels has brought a host of problems of a different dimension.

With more food like corn being harvested for fuels, a smaller proportion of this food is cultivated as food for man and this set the march of the prices of this food north. Alongside with the price hike is the corresponding shortage of these food items for man.

Monday, June 09, 2008

A larger purpose of life

I often see scores of people holding a parochial and myopic view of life, failing to see the larger sense and purpose of life. Instead they spend their days in entertainment and fun, chasing the material aspects of life and ignoring or deliberately eschewing the unfortunate lot of society.

I really hope people can read more on self –improvement books or other self-enrichment books and learn more useful things to improve themselves and others.

Readers are learners and the learning in life never stops, everyday there is always something to learn, one must be open to discover the many opportunities of learning in life everyday.

NDP tickets

With the notification period of successful NDP ticket applicants come to a close, once again, I am not chosen to attend the NDP parade and the preview.

I have religiously applied for the NDP parade and preview annually since the inception of the E-balloting system, but alas, my luck still falls short each time.

Are Singaporeans really interested in Euro-cup?

The Singapore Pool outlet at my place extended its opening hours till 2200 hrs in order to facilitate the placing of bets by punters on the matches of the Euro-cup.

Major soccer matches like the World Cup, the Euro-cup often draw a mix of genuinely soccer fans and the punter fraternity who are only interested in getting a dose of the thrill in rooting for their favourite teams.

Thus I wonder do the scores of Singaporeans who stay till the wee hours to watch the Euro-cups really have an interest in the games or just to find out firsthand whether their bets have won?

It may be a case of both too.

Euro-cup: my favourite teams

I predict Portugal and Germany would be meeting each other in the finals.

Public Bus

Our public transport system has always drawn brickbats from critics and Singaporeans in general.

Though I do certainly agree that the current public transport can be further tweaked, overall, I gave the thumb up for the current system.

Take for example our SBS buses, now they come equipped with air-cons (which get super cold in the early mornings), excellent designs and the ‘mobile TVs’ though the latter can be rather disturbing at times. More and more of the buses are designed to be ‘disable-friendly’ too.

The attitudes of passengers can be improved; the main grouse I have is the seemingly inability of passengers to move into the interior of the bus, to make way for passengers boarding at the subsequent stops. Too often, I feel a sense of pity and injustice that passengers could not board on the bus and be late for work as a result of passengers in the bus not moving in to the back.

At times, I count myself fortunate to be able to land a coveted seat, especially in this period of school holidays. And it is really a luxury to be able to catch some good nap in the bus. Our buses can be very comfortable at times too and once I was even wakened by the bus captain himself for sleeping till the bus reaches the bus stop!

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Art of persuasion

In our lives, we need to persuade certain people at certain times of our lives to achieve certain goals of our lives.

Think of the interviews we have attended, where we need to convince and persuade our prospective employers to consider us for the positions in their companies. The ability to persuade and convince our prospective employers can mean the difference between getting a job and being unemployed and hence our livelihood hinges on the ability to persuade at interviews

Think of our love, sometimes we need to persuade and assure our lovers that we love her at certain times.

Think of our jobs, we need to persuade our superiors to accept our ideas where our promotions inevitably hinge on this ability to persuade and influence our superiors.

In a nutshell, the art of persuasion is an invaluable and paramount art and skill that everyone should master in order to advance to the myriads of opportunities that are open to us.

1st aid Kit

Needing a handiplast urgently today, I opened the drawer of a cabinet in my house which stores all the medications, handiplasts, burn creams and a host of other first aid items. Opening the box of handiplasts, I found that it was empty!

I believe one shall always keep a well-equipped and well stocked first aid kit to prepare for any unforeseen circumstances. It will come in handy. Invest in a good first aid kit today; the costs of investment are certainly worthwhile.

Our Singapore 2010 Dream

Singapore has lost 3-7 to Uzbekistan just last week, smashing the little island’s dream of qualifying for World Cup 2010.

The Singapore Sports Council has employed bio-mechanists to spend hours analyzing the move of its Uzbekistan opponents in their previous matches, with the assistance of highly sophisticated scientific and technological instruments, to present a finding on the opponent’s formation, its Achilles’ heel, etc to the Singapore soccer coach.

Alas, that does not help much, for the opponents easily triumphed over the Lions.

Singapore team has not performed well in the international soccer arena despites funding and intense training of the National team, the introduction of S-League to boost the standards of the team, etc.

Why is it always so? Why are the Lions not as good as other international teams despites the efforts and funding spent to train and nurture the players? What has happened to our vision of Singapore 2010?

Is soccer in Singapore really a matter of nature vs nurture: do the players from other countries just happened to have the ‘soccer genes’?

Today is the start of Euro 2008 season: 6 gruelling matches all within 23 days for the winning team to emerge.

Seeing the players play, their style is really different from that of Singapore.

No dream is too big for Singapore. Many Singaporeans may thought that Singapore 2010 is just a pipedream, for me I still think it is still a dream. Man need dreams to excel, aspire and improve, so does our national soccer team.

Be it 2010, 2050, 2100, 2150, 2200, sooner or later, we may see our Lions playing in the world cup!

Saturday, June 07, 2008

How to rebut cleverly when someone calls you 'stupid'

WARNING: PLEASE USE THIS TACTIC AS LAST RESORT AS IT MIGHT SOUR FUTURE RELATIONSHIPS

Person A: You are stupid!

You: So you think everything that I am thinking of, in my mind, is useless?

Person A: YES!

You: Good, I am thinking of you!

Alternative scenario:

Person A: You are stupid!

You: So you think everything that I am thinking of, in my mind, is useless?

Person A: Not really

You: Then why you call me stupid when you think what I am thinking of, in my mind, is not useless, you are even stupidier in this sense!

The dialogue may end here, or continues further as below:

Person A: Okay, you are stupid, whatever in you think in your mind is useless, like rubbish

You: Good, I am thinking of you!

Friday, June 06, 2008

Misleading Traffic Lights

The location of the two traffic lights at this traffic crossing in front of Blk 11, Jalan Eunos, makes crossing by pedestrians dangerous.

Shown in the picture are the 'red mans' of the two traffic lights. The 'red man' and 'green man' of these two traffic lights are not synchronised.

The dangerous situation is when the 'green man' of the traffic light behind lights up while the traffic light in front still indicates 'red man', because at the orientation of the traffic light can easily mislead pedestrian that this 'green man' is indicated on the first traffic light when it is not; accidents might then result.

Riddle of the day

Which liquid becomes solid when heated?


Ans: Wax and Egg Yolk.

Virtual living

It is appalling that our younger generation has fallen prey to the newfangled devices of modern technology.

As parents would often attest to, their young kids at home are always closeted in their own rooms, busily tapering on their keyboard, spending their nights away on the latest internet games, internet chat forums, MSN chats and social networking sites like the Facebook, blogs and the like.

On the buses and the MRT, one would also witness Singaporeans, especially the youth, plugged into devices like the portable play stations (PSP), 3G or camera handphones busily ‘SMSing’, listening to the latest music offerings on their iPODs…… their different senses fully and inexorably immersed into myriads of worlds.

Such is the irony of modern technology: In its attempt to bring people closer by offering more convenience, the use of technology has detracted from this fundamental purpose. Instead we see more and more young Singaporeans spending the bulk of their time in front of their computers, handphones and other gadgets, socializing virtually.

Nothing beats the tactile and tangible human-to-human interaction. Youth who lives off their computer games, and other fun gadgets would become socially inapt in time to come, they would realize they have become a misfit in society and this made them even more willingly and unrelentlessly return to their virtual worlds they find familiar and love in.

Their constant indulgence in a sedentary lifestyle also has health implications, not to mention the adverse effects of such a lifestyle on their studies, work and relationship.

I exhort all youth to come out and enjoy life to the fullest. Moderation in all aspects of life is key.

Part-time traffic lights

Two months before, I was waiting to use the traffic light crossing to get to the ‘Kopitam’ next to SMU (Singapore Management University).

I and the other pedestrians waited and waited for ten or more minutes for the traffic lights to switch from ‘red man’ to ‘green man’, however despites our frantic waiting and the exasperation building up within us, the ‘red man’ refused to budge.

We had no choice but to cross the road in the most primitive manner, i.e. jaywalk.

To us, the traffic lights was faulty; that was my belief till I read an article in today’s paper that this traffic crossing was specially designed as a ‘part time’ traffic crossing, which would not operate during 7am to 9.30 am and 5pm to 9pm everyday.

According to the article, there was a sign indicating the hours of operation of the traffic lights but it was hung too high to be notice by pedestrians using the crossing. I strongly agree.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

The riddle

A young man was found dead on a desert.

Next to the young man was a package.

If he has opened the package, he would not have died?

What is inside the package?

Ans: Parachute

Where have all the people gone?

Last two weeks have been somewhat an anomaly for me.

Taking the overcrowded morning bus to work has become the norm for me every weekday, at certain times, I was not able to even board and get on the bus. Thus I was immensely surprised that since last Monday, I was able to board the bus easily at all times. I could also find a seat effortlessly; to the extent that each passenger on the upper deck of the bus is able to take up one full seat meant for two passengers, with some seats still left unoccupied.

Where has the maddening crowd gone? Where is the perennial jostling and shoving to board the bus and to land a coveted seat? What has happened? and last but not least, where have all the students gone?

It was on the last note that I realized the mid-year school vacation has commenced since 24 May 08.

1st 2nd and 3rd

People like to use ‘1st’, ‘2nd’, ‘3rd’ and so on to denote the words ‘first’, ‘second’ and ‘third’. It is important to note that these symbols ‘1st’, ‘2nd’, ‘3rd’ are neither words nor numbers; these are a hybrid of both.

Though I am not an overtly critical person, when people read out a year, say 2008 as ‘two-oh-oh-eight’, it is grammatically wrong. The correct pronunciation should be ‘two-zero-zero-eight’!

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Food for thought

Though Singapore is a food haven, I think it is quite difficult to find wholesome healthy food at the myriads of food stalls here.

All the food that is popular with Singaporeans are more often than not, laden with MSG, sugar, salt, oil and artificial preservatives. Though these are appetizing, they pose health risks, especially to the working class who consume their lunch and dinner outside of home.

Some go for vegetarian dishes, thinking that these dishes are deemed healthier as they contain lesser oil. In the past, I am of this belief that such dishes are healthier, but after lunching on these dishes for quite a while, I do find that these dishes contain no less oil, cholesterol than the normal non-vegetarian dishes. In fact, the oil content of Vegetarian dishes sold at the food stalls may exceed that of non-vegetarian dishes as some of these dishes fry flour in excessive oil to take the form of meat dishes like fishes and chicken drumsticks. On this note, I believe Vegetarians who choose their diets to avoid the consumption of animals on religious or personal grounds are contradicting their beliefs if they were to consume vegetarian dishes made to resemble meat dishes.

Even for fruits and vegetables bought from supermarkets, I am also hesitant to say that these are still healthy. I have eaten apples whose sizes are so big that my mouth grows tired by just gnawing at them; such big-sized apples may be due to some genetic modification. Modern pesticides may also be used in wanton volumes to kill off pests, and inevitably leaving some traces of these chemicals on the fruits and vegetables, which definitely pose health risks to the consumers.

Last but not least, even the basic form of food or rather fluid, water, is being constantly re-engineered and innovated….it may not be necessarily healthier.

Artificial preservatives, organic foods, re-engineering of food have extended the gamut of food and the pleasures of consumption to human beings, at unknown and unstated health risks.

Given a chance, I would like to stay for few months on a mountain, inhaling the fresh air, consuming fresh vegetable and fish and taking in the unparallel natural charms, far away from the maddening crowd of the city…….this would really be a retreat!

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Sleazy Joo Chiat

After my meeting today, I walked along Joo Chiat Road to take the MRT home. Joo Chiat Road, a road lined up with pubs, discos, KTVs, massage parlours, budget hotels and not forgetting the eateries offering gourmet dishes, is one of the seediest streets in Singapore.

True enough, as I walked on, I witnessed how around this time of the night (2 hours before the stroke of midnight), the earthly creatures of the night came to the fore, transforming the whole street into a street of neon lights filled with cigarettes fumes, shady deals and activities.

These creatures of the night inevitably included scores of women, who look like Vietnamese, openly plying their trades along the streets, in outfits that are far from modest. The nocturnal creatures of the night included the prey: men who indulge in earthly pleasure: smoking, womanizing, drinking etc. However there are also the decent ones who just go there for their suppers and meals, seemingly unperturbed by the surrounding lusty environment.

It is sad that Joo Chiat road, a beacon of rich Peranakan heritage and culture falls prey to such immoral activities. However, it was reported that the present Joo Chiat is much better ‘cleaned up’ these days through actions by the police and Grassroots volunteers.

As I continued my walk to the MRT station and ponder what I have seen, one point that validates my observation of life from this walk is the mindsets of man: for some men, they have very lofty goals, for others, their goals in life is to indulge in the worldly pleasures…….

And I may add…….To each his own.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Tampines Secondary School

Tampines Secondary School, as the name implies, should be a secondary school in Tampines.

Yes, in fact the school was in Tampines but today I had a double look when I saw Tampines Secondary School is now situated in Bedok!

Though this finding is not surprising as secondary schools do change their locations in time ( e.g. Siglap Secondary is not in Siglap, but now in Pasir Ris), for people not aware of the relocation facts, these findings definitely come as surprises !
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