Thursday, August 24, 2006

Rants

I've been so busy that by the time I come home, I just want to log on to WoW and play till I'm totally 'zonked-out'. Then I'll plonk myself into bed sleeping like a log, only to wake up for early morning conference calls. And then more calls/meetings throughout the day.

People wonder why we don't have babies...

PS. WoW has changed the Battlegrounds queue and it's nothing but BG-Madness I call it. Woot!

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Couple of things to rant:
  1. Birthrates
    I have absolutely no idea why Singapore has this issue. Just look at the recent article on the successful birthrates in Japan. Or take a look at countries like Norway, Sweden, etc.

    Title goes like this:
    "No. of January-June births in Japan increases for 1st time in 6 yrs"

    Why?
    "The government has started special projects to make raising children easier and less expensive, while improving child-care facilities for working parents. But Japan has rejected large-scale immigration."

    The Singapore government needs to be radical in its policies if the birthrates are to be higher. It doesn't take a rocket scientist or PhD-holder to analyze that. You can't have both ways, either you are pro-employer or pro-employee. So if your issue is low birthrates, you have to sacrifice a bit.

    Be radical. Protect the expecting mothers with job securities, provide 1-year maternal and paternal leave for rotation.

    Money doesn't buy everything.
  2. Foreign Talents
    I'm all for it. Really. A couple of my good friends are foreigners. They do contribute to the ecnomony and bring in new ideas.

    The thing that p*sses me off, however, is the way the government handled it. It's like these foreigners are the answers to everything that includes low birthrates, shrinking population, need for globalization, etc.

    It's so... uncreative. Just like the IR (Integrated Resort) issue. Need to boost economy? Let's have a casino. Duh.

    In my opinion, Singapore seems to be the only country who does not protect its citizens. All other developed countries I know of have laws to protect its citizens, especially in labour and job securities.
  3. IMF
    I am all for Singapore to host IMF. But donations from organizations? Aw, c'mon. It leaves a bitter aftertaste.

    The 4 million smiles? Why not employ your so-called foreign talents to fulfill your policies and campaigns? Also, why not have people lining along Changi Airport ECP highway to 'moon' at the delegates driving by? It's still a smile alright, albeit a vertical one :).

    Anyway, there is a tradition called the Annual Mooning of Amtrak, Laguna Niguel, (Orange County) California, U.S.A. And nobody's throwing nobody in jail.


    If you really want the delegates to know Singapore as she really is, drop all these fake fronts. We are already unique in our own way, and we are definitely not called the Land of Smiles. So stop selling Singapore what she is not. It may just backfire. Some smiling streaker could have just run across the road near Suntec City, waving a 'Welcome' banner.

    When I smile in a crowded lift on a Monday morning, I get weird stares. When I have to deal with smelling people's hair/shirt/newspapers/breath/armpits in a crowded bus or MRT packed like sardine, I don't want to smile. When I face traffic jams in the morning and I feel like it's the end of the day when actually it has just begun, I don't want to smile. When the government breathes down on my neck asking me to make babies, to be the best employee, to be the best Dad, to be the best citizen, to be charitable, to be global, to accept their polices and to accept the increasing cost of living, to smile alot especially to IMF delegates..

    ...I don't want to smile. A smile should come along when you feel good or happy about something. A smile is natural. Not because I have to.

    I swear the campaign would have been more successful if it had been the 1-million smiles campaign. Singapore is already small - I don't need 4 million people.


    Anyway, a nation who smiles alot don't need a courtesy campaign. Think about it.
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Thursday, August 17, 2006

How to make an orange bunny costume

Alright, for those folks out there wondering why the cute girl Rachel was wearing a bunny costume (see here)? Answer: Rachel was going for a birthday party.

But ORANGE?

*groan* I confess - I was a 'cheapo'. I didn't want to spend money to buy her a princess or angel costume just for a birthday party. I mean they outgrow the clothes so fast! I also did not have a nice white poster paper to work on (more like I couldn't find a clean white paper without Rachel's imprints on it). And since she was wearing an orange dress, I thought why not an orange bunny.

Hey it could have been worse. I could have used the blue-coloured paper... or purple one? Hmmm Barney the dinosaur costume didn't sound too bad. But I had to find pillows. Lots of them. Barney's fat, by the way.

We were going for Megan's birthday party (courtesy of Grace and Sheldon). The theme was Safari (or was it zoo?). The children were supposed to dress up in an animal costume. The good thing was that Rachel thoroughly enjoyed herself there. The bad? We got played out. She was the only 'animal' there, albeit an orange one.

One thing I had noticed in the party was that the children didn't care if someone wore a princess, angel, lion, monkey or even a Barney costume. They were only concerned if there were:
  1. Lots of kids around their age to play with.
  2. Toys, drawing, sing-along, kiddy activities.
  3. Birthday cake.
  4. Candles. Everyone will want to blow the candles. This is indeed a mystery.
  5. Screaming. And crying.

Back to the bunny costume. Ok, orange bunny costume. For me, the most fun thing was doing it with her. She had this pair of scissors in hand and she was all eager to cut the ears out. She also gladly provided her face as the canvas for my 'bunny-face' masterpiece.

To top it, she was giggling while I crowned the 'hairband-with-bunny-ear-antenna' on her head. She simply loved it!

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Recipe for successful orange bunny costume makeover:

  1. 1x Victim
  2. 1x Hairband.
  3. 1x Orange-coloured big poster paper.
  4. 2x Long oval ears. Need to draw and colour them, if necessary.
  5. 1x Scissors to cut ears. Tape ears to hairband.
  6. Facial crayons. Draw red nose, red circles around eyes and black whiskers.
  7. Lots of creativity, imagination and fun.
  8. 1x Mirror.
  9. No laughing. I repeat, do not laugh at your victim.
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Wednesday, August 16, 2006

What a week, what a week!

It's not that I have stopped blogging. The past week had been a nightmare for my missus and me. Too tired and drained to blog or even play World of Warcraft.

Our lovely daughter, Rachel, was admitted to hospital A&E twice. First was on 8 - 10 Aug with viral fever and , the other on 11 Aug with mild pneumonia (caused by the viral fever).

8 Aug
The first happened kind of a sudden. Rachel was well for the whole day and we had just come back from dinner at around 9pm. Rachel mentioned that she suddenly felt cold.

In the next 5 mins, she had a temperature of 38.5C. Within the next 5-10mins, the fever shot to 40.7C. Her fingers and lips were turning bluish, and her skin became fairly mottled, especially on her hands. We tried to rushed her to the hospital but during the trip to the car, she started convulsing in my arms.

I freaked out! My wife was screaming and shouting her name. Rachel's eyes rolled back and she was shaking uncontrollably.

I was screaming Jesus, God, Rachel, 911, Police, Ambulance, Help... whatever 'words' that sprung to mind. She was losing consciousness. God, I was hysterical! The thought of losing her gripped my heart. You can't imagine the choking feeling of despair and the sense of helplessness. Though she came around after 5 mins, she had that blank look on her face.

I drove like a madman, hitting 120-130km/h on a normal Singapore road and arrived at the A&E in 10 mins (I live pretty near the hospital). The doctor diagnosed the seizures as febrile convulsions. After calming down and reading the medical article provided, we were assured that the convulsions were not harmful to her nor did it cause any brain damage.

Made me think life can be so unpredictable and vulnerable. I felt so helpless when she was shaking in my arms. What can I do? Without God, I would never have the peace that He is in control of every situation. What is money when you don't have the health to enjoy it? So says Ecclesiastes 5:19-20
"19 Moreover, when God gives any man wealth and possessions, and enables him to enjoy them, to accept his lot and be happy in his work—this is a gift of God. 20 He seldom reflects on the days of his life, because God keeps him occupied with gladness of heart."

11 Aug
Her fever returned on Fri night, hitting a high of 40.1C. We took no chances and drove straight to the hospital. After a blood test and x-ray, she was diagnosed to have early pneumonia, probably the virus had infected her lungs. She was given anti-biotics and sent home. Rachel still had fever of 39+C and she had difficulty sleeping - laboured breathing sound and phelgmy cough.

We prayed. We worshipped. We gave thanks for all that the Lord had done for this family. As the head of the household, I claimed His word to be true. Jesus is faithful. His name is Jehovah Raphe, my daughter's healer.

Then there was this awesome presence of the Lord in the room. My left hand was on her forehead and the right was on her chest while praying. I felt power going forth from me into her. Power to heal. Images of Jesus at the well with the Samaritan woman came to mind - "...whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst". Cool, refreshing water to soothe the fever. I was also reminded of the bronze serpent that was raised in the desert. Whomsoever looked at the snake on the pole (symbolic meaning of Christ on the cross lifted bearing our sins) shall live.

The fever immediately broke! Rachel started to perspire and her breathing became easier. She slept peacefully too. The sense of comfort and triumphant joy washed over me.

Today, Rachel is recovering very well. In fact, just this morning, she went cycling for a bit of fresh air. She is looking radiant and her bubbly, chittering and joyful self is returning.

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However there are some things that I need to get off my chest.

Apparently she had caught the virus from the childcare centre. And why wouldn't she? Some inconsiderate parents had been sending their sickly kids to the childcare. Reason? So that they won't have to waste a day's leave or two to care for them at home. To make matters worse, the childcare centre is fully air-conditioned. All it takes is for a kid to sneeze and the whole world will enjoy his aerosol... and air-borne viruses.

Thanks to you that Rachel's mum had to take at least 1 month of NO-FRIGGIN'-PAY leave to look after Rachel. Missus said she had noticed on numerous occasions some kids with coughs and runny noses attending the childcare centre.

To those culprits: #$%* $#*!!!! Yeah, I ain't finished. %$#&*(*&^#$@!!!

Pisses me off when people selfishly inconvenience others at the expense of my family, time and money.

Reminds me of the incident when there were a number of SARS cases in Singapore. The government, trying hard to control the virus, issued a form for school children to declare if they had gone to countries infected with SARS during the school holidays. What did the d*ckheads of the parents do? Told their kids to lie in the form.

Classic. I'm just speechless.

PS. I have already taken Rachel out of the childcare centre. Darn, she really enjoyed the interaction and teaching there. She was learning so well, her teacher said. Thanks to you, bloody inconsiderate morons!

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Thursday, August 03, 2006

Irritation

I woke up on the wrong side of bed. Tired, headache, late. Rush to work. Send daughter to school. Hurry-hurry, rush-rush.

...and some idiots just had to rub you the wrong way.

  1. Don't you hate motorists who drive at 70 - 80km/h on the extreme right lane of the expressway? Wished I had a camera phone to snap the license plate of that vehicle and publish it.

    This joker of a driver in front of me took his sweet time at 80km/h when the maximum speed for the expressway is 90km/h. There was also a trail of 4 -5 cars tail-gating behind me and wondering why the 'express' lane had become the 'non-express' lane.
  2. And to top it, just when I was packing to head home at the end of the day, some idiotic colleague had to call me about a project cost. Her questioning words made my blood boil and I raised my voice at her. More like I blasted her so loudly that the other colleagues near me stood up from their cubicles to hear the din.

    People can be so self-centered and domineering. You know, the kind of attitude that goes 'I need to know everything because I don't trust you' and 'Everything has to go my way as I planned it to be'.

    Unbelievable. Two words. Get LOST! Go fly a kite, get off my back or something. Get married... maybe that explains why she's not.

    And that wasn't even the first time I blew up at her. To add, I have also witnessed others blowing their tops off at her.

    Shessh, some people just don't learn...
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Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Transport fare hikes

First taxi fare hikes. Now public transport fare hikes.

So what's new again? As expected after elections. Whenever the General Elections (GE) is near, the government will give a legalized 'ang pao' (economic package, soften-GST-blow package, progress package, etc.) to the citizens to 'win' their votes.

And again, most Singaporeans are suckered into it. In my opinion, it is mostly the pre-65ers under Father Lee's rule. Those who actually believe that the government can track the names of the voters and their families. Thus an elderly father may vote the incumbent party, thinking that his son (who works in the civil service) will not be penalized for promotion or bonus.

I must admit though, that people are beginning to catch up, as seen in the last GE. No wonder the government targeted the post-65ers. Even a SG$100 million carrot cannot change the hearts of the people who voted Low TK and Chaim ST in again. It is a good thing some people still have integrity. Kudos to you! You know who you are.

Also the so-called strong mandate at 66% is totally rubbish. Everyone knows 1/3 of Singaporeans are unhappy with many of the current polices. And the figure could have been worse if there had been more more challenges instead of walkovers.

So my words to the those who who did not vote from their hearts and are now complaining about the fare hikes:
Suck it up - you deserve it!

Actually I can predict some of the upcoming hikes:
  1. Utilities
  2. HDB carparks
  3. Conservancy charges
  4. GST @ 7%
  5. ERP charges

And the same old replies:

  1. Increase in oil prices
  2. Increase in the Singaporean combined household income
  3. It has been X years since price revision.
  4. It is inevitable. Read here.
  5. Singapore economy needs to keep with the global economy and inflation
  6. The increase is not much. Media will then:
    - Swarm us with the living standards comparison in major cities like New York, Paris vs Singapore, OR
    - Publish accounts/testimonies of people who regretted migrating and how they had missed Singapore and the affordable living standards, OR
    - Inform the citizens to look at the BIGGER picture. The price of a stability, the clean government, the plenty opportunities, etc.
  7. Nothing comes free, the price of freedom. Er, right...

Sometimes I wonder why they even form the PTC (Public Transport Council)? It's like the Workers' Union being run by the government. Hmmm wait, bad example. Out-going in 2006 NTUC secretary-general is minister Lim BH, who will be handing over to Lim SS, also a minister. What gives?

While surfing for the members of the PTC, I chanced upon a website. (warning!) Read at own risk here. I am not liable for the contents therein.

And to top it, the maximum increase is 1.7%. Doesn't take a rocket scientist to know how much the public transport operators (SMRT, SBS, TransIsland, etc) have proposed the hikes to be. It is as if they have already decided it last year.

Want to know something I have been trying to figure for years? How come I have never been interviewed in any surveys? I have been around for at least 30 years, with 15 years knowing what policies are and how they will affect me.

And yet, the Straits Times publishes statements like for example:

  1. XX% of the people agreed that a fare hike is due. It's been YY years since the last hike.
  2. XX out of YY people interviewed believe that the economy is doing very well
  3. XX% of the people believes the government will bring the people into the new decade, solve national crisis, etc

I have no idea where the numbers come from. Amazing but true.

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Tuesday, August 01, 2006

A new monitor

I hastened my way to Sim Lin Square yesterday after work. My budget was SG$250 and I had absolutely no idea what to buy. Some shops were beginning to close when I reached there.

Actually, I was tempted to buy another 17" CRT monitor. The price ranged from SG$130 - $180. Come to think of it, I really didn't mind the bulkiness. How often does one move a monitor anyway? However the missus had other ideas. She specifically told me to get a reasonably-priced (read her lips: cheap) lightweight, LCD flat panel one. The cost summary is:

Flat panel 15": SG$230 - $250
Flat panel 17": SG$260 - $300+

Since cost was the main concern, I ignored the other technical specifications. Not that they did not matter. When I speak to the missus about cool gadgets and guy thingys, she is only interested in - the cost. However, when she speaks of her shopping, cost is never the issue.

For newly married guys, here is a tip on how to keep a marriage alive:
When she buys a new dress, NEVER-EVER ask her how much it cost. Keep a straight face, smile and say something like,
  1. "It's beautiful, darling." - Short, sweet to the point
  2. "Simply gorgeous! Can't think of anyone wearing it other than you." - Sweet words at the right time melts her heart. Always.
  3. "It has a thousand dollars look. 50% discount, you said? Wow, what a bargain!" - Letting her know she's smart? Priceless.
  4. The least you could say is "No matter what the price is, I will always love you." Good old-fashioned way. Awww.
Then blog about your wallet pains.

Back to the guy stuff - monitor. I was deciding between the Samsung, Acer and Phillips brand. Guess what? I chose the Phillips monitor. Why? Purely because the previous one had served me well.

You hear that, Phillips? I actually bought another of your product because the previous was so good. Don't let me down, you hear?

Funny how sometimes a company/restaurant wins a customer over because of a previous experience or a good review from a trustworthy source. That's where it counts, I think. Customers want their money worth. A proven name comes long way when making a decision.

Have you noticed how we scan for the longest queue in the hawker centers to decide what to eat? The queue says a lot of the quality of the food. And also the hungry people.

Proven, quality product actually sells!

But then again Singaporeans are a weird bunch too. They queue up just for anything. 'Hello Kitty' MacDonald toys, NDP tickets, sale of condominiums, Primary 1 registrations, 4D-Toto, Progress Packages (you should have seen the ATMs - unbelievable!), etc.

There is a whole bunch of topics to write about but I digress here.

Have you decided to buy that particular brand because your friends have been telling you how good and lasting it is? That's why review columns are so popular. Cameras, computers, cars, mobiles, coffee, and yes, even games are reviewed and updated constantly so that enthusiasts would buy a product that is worth their every cent. Or so they think.

Consumerism. Choices.

By the way, I bought the Phillips 17" SXGA 170S flat panel monitor for SG$265 (3-yrs on-site warranty), and I played World of Warcraft till 5am this morning.

Now that's what really matters. :)
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