Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Selamat Hari Raya! I'm suffering..........

Today is a public holiday in Singapore - Hari Raya Aidilfitri (more popularly know) as Hari Raya Puasa. Hari Raya (means Day of Celebration) marks the end of the Ramadhan, the holy month of fasting. During this month of fasting, Muslims are required to abstain from basic needs and urges :) between sunrise and sunset. If I had to fast, I would be OVERJOYED when this day came about. I would be ECSTATIC. But I'm not muslim so I need to worry about my weight because no no no absolutely NO FASTING. Minor dieting is still OK :P

Last night, I was studying for my FLMI papers. Dumping as much information as I could for LOMA 280-Principles of Insurance: Life, Health and Annuitites, I gave up at 3.30am. (My stamina is at rock bottom but if there is any consolation, I have to work the entire day too, you know!!).

So this morning, it wasn't a day of celebration for me. I woke up and had 2 conference calls before I finally managed to settle at my study table for another cramming session. Did 2-3 hour solid cramming before I had information overload and decide to have a short nap. LAZY!! (My "pia" stamina is really .......... but I did get a bit bit of "feeling" for my university days where I was ALWAYS cramming 2 weeks before the paper).

My first 2 papers are on November 6 and 7. HORRORS!!!! The problem is that I'm on business trips from next week onwards and probably won't have time to study and this week is PACKED to the maximum with meetings and documents to read in the office. I still have another THICK THICK BOOK TO GO for LOMA 290: Insurance Company Operations. ARRGHHHHHHHH!

But never mind, let's think on the bright side and the sense of satisfaction I will get if I manage to get this done..........*happy thoughts happy thoughts*

Okay, I just decided that I will cancel all lunch appointments (Sorry warren) so that I can study during lunch time. The only appointment I won't cancel is the Vegetarian dinner to celebrate Meilin's birthday tomorrow. Yes, I must also cancel my movie appointments....................

Life will be the pits until my last paper in December. Sorry penguin and all my friends.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Straits Times and Today's portrayal of the haze

Today I will blog about how I felt after reading the Straits Times' article and the Today's article on the haze that is affecting Southeast Asia. My focus is partly but NOT entirely on the haze situation but the impressions that I got after reading the 2 newspapers' report on the same issue.

SUNDAY TIMES - The Straits Times

In the Sunday Times, the "top of the news" article is entitled: "Jakarta drags its feet again on haze pact". The gist of the article is that Indonesia is "unlikely to ratify an ASEAN anti-haze agreement any time soon even though President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has said that it would."

In the article, it stated that all factions in the Indonesian committee (elected to lead the debate on the ratification), including the President's own Democrat Party, had agreed that there should be certain steps taken by the government BEFORE the ratification process will resume.

An example of "certain steps" mentioned were the cross-border enviromental issues involving Indonesia's Asean neighbors. These include:
a) Malaysia's alleged role as the biggest buyer of illegally-logged timber from Indonesia
b) Illegal fishing in Indonesian waters by Thai fisherman
c) Ongoing talks between Singapore and Indonesia over an extradition treaty.

A member of the commission, Mr. Alvin Lie, also spoke about a "balance of benefits" and he added that there were already several existing laws in place that can deal with the haze problem and that Indonesia "did not need to be afraid of pressures from other countries".

*As I am writing this section of the blog, imagine me having to take several minutes away per paragraph trying to prevent my blood pressure from bursting through the ceiling. Damn this stupid Indonesian committee.....damns this stupid Alvin Lie, his mixed up priorities and his inability to see that these existing laws are not doing any good for anyone including the people in his countries. In fact, I felt that Indonesia was rather under-handed to make use of this situation to force matters in other areas and such a joke that they could refute their President’s pledge to another nation*


BUT then I also surfed online and read the TODAY newspaper and they also had another article on the haze entitled "Lifting the haze". (Immediately you can see that this is a less negative headline as compared to the Straits Times)

This article, I felt, was more balanced. It reinforced the Straits Times' report that the haze problem would NOT go away in the next few years. And it also gave a more balanced view on the size of the problem. In the article, it explained that fires from the peat land amount to 20 percent of the fires but are responsible for more than 60 percent of the haze. (In which, 60 percent is a conservative number). This makes the problem seem easier and more manageable to tackle.

In addition, the TODAY newspaper also added that the Ambassador from Indonesia called for the ASEAN member states to start pledging money to the proposed regional fund provided for in the ASEAN pact to combat the haze. Ambassador Wiryono explained that fulfilling this ambition of the pact will assure Indonesia that it won't be combating the haze on its own AND also would not make Indonesia feel like they are being singled out for the punishment for the haze. (I accept that there are many reasons that contributed to the haze even the existence of external factors in which Indonesia is not to be entirely blamed. However, I do think that they take up a large percentage of the blame due to their lax laws to combat this problem). This in turn encourages the Indonesian government to clamp down on the businesses responsible for the fire.

After I read the article, I felt more appeased. Certainly the Today's article made me understand that Indonesia did not feel that they were totally responsible for the haze, it also explained the situation in Indonesia where the fact of the matter is that the people feels like they are being blamed entirely for the whole situation. This makes them defensive which honestly, does not do one bit of good to solve this problem we have at hand.


And then I thought to myself, if a volunteer had came up to me in Orchard Road and asked me to donate to a fund set up for the haze prevention cause, the possibility of me donating would be almost ZERO if I had read the Straits Times article. However, if I had read the Today's article, I would definitely have donated.
(Although, I would still be thinking if the money would be put to good use and not into the pockets of corrupted officers in Indonesia since it is obvious that some people in the Indonesian committee are just so incapable)

Therefore, I reflected on the importance of the mass media to provide an unbalanced view of the news that they report on the world today. It is very important to reflect a balanced view at all times. Certainly, there are dimwits that make stupid decisions and comments such as (A.L) but there are also good mixes of balanced people out there who can explain the situation such as the Ambassador (W.S). Not being careful and portrayal of any imbalanced views would just incite bad feelings which is really not necessary if the ultimate aim is to avoid taking sides and focus on the problems at hand, which is: To solve this haze problem!

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Namaste....Happy Deepavali

In Year 2006, Deepavali (The Festival of Lights) is celebrated on October 21st.

Deepavali (also known as Diwali) is a Sanskrit word which is broken down into Deepa (which means light) and avali (meaning a row). Yes, you've guessed it, that is why this joyous celebration is known as the Festival of Lights (an equivalent to Chinese New Year :P) which marks the victory of good over evil and it is a joyous occasion celebrated by Hindus, Sikhs, Jains and Buddhists.

In India, the Hindu calender has 2 versions which are used in different regions. The Amantnm (ending on the no-moon) version is prevalent in southern India and the Purnimanta (ending on the full moon) version is prevalent in northen India. The Amantnm version of the Hindu calender has been adopted as the Indian national calender. However, according to the Prunimanta version, Deepavali is marked as the new year's day and regardless of the differences, Deepavali is worshipped on the same days throughout India in which it is a 5 day celebration where it is customary to fast for 3 days.

There are slight differences in the significance of Deepavali for Hinduism, Sikhism and Jainism. Nevertheless, generally speaking, this festival celebrates life and the strengthening of relationships.

I was particularly fascinated to learn that Hindus find cause to celebrate this festival for different reasons: (will not be covering the significance of Sikhism and Jainism)
1) As per sacred text, on this day, Lord Shiva accepts Shakti (a goddess) into the left half of form (body) and appeared as Ardhanarishvara.(synthesis of masculine and feminine energies - go figure, its worth while to view Indian art on this :) )
2) To celebrate the return of Lord Rama from a war which he killed the demon King Ravana.
3) To commemorate the killing of Narakasura (an evil demon) by Lord Khrisna's wife Sathyabhama.
4) Daitya king bali, who is allowed to return to earth once a year.

The 5 days of Deepavali are named as follows: (abbreviated to capture meaning only)
Day One: Dhan meaning wealth. Auspicious day for shopping!
Day Two: Narak meaning "of a new era of Light and Knowledge"
Day Three: Diwali - the moon completely wanes (something like new years eve for the chinese)
On this day, there are lights and lights galore!
Day Four: Padwa - Beginning of the new year.
Day Five: Bhayiduj - On this day, brothers and sisters meet to express their love and affection.

For more information: The Story of Diwali

In Singapore, deepavali is a public holiday and if you drive down Little India, you can enjoy the beautiful light-up. Also, one of the special things celebrated by the minority Indians here is the fire-walking ceremony (which is not practised as part of the festival in other countries!). And if you are wondering what the fire-walking ceremony is.......fire-walking is the act of walking barefoot over a bed of hot coals!!!

Friday, October 20, 2006

Geography Lesson 002 - Middle East

Okay, I decided NOT to blog too much about nuclear power today (because of some reasons that I will not share here) BUT I do more or less know the meaning of "katak". Well, katak means FROG in malay. Ahh!! Now we know!!!! Things are starting to make a little more sense now, aren't they? **Thank you Meilin for this precious information. I will endearingly nominate you as my walking Malay dictionary from today onwards. :P
Hehe, let me also share with you that while I'm writing this blog, Meilin just made a really funny comment about her friend. And its really funny because of the way she said it. (P/s: Meilin is one of my housemates). She asked her friend:"How come you don't learn how to use internet banking and still go to the bank and queue up to make bank transactions?? So aunty!!" Hahahhahaha....damn, I love my housemates.

Well, since I'm a little brain dead today. Drowsy from all the flu medication and very tired because I'm sneezing every 3 minutes, I won't blog about anything too "geeky" such as the entropy theory or my ideas on how nuclear power should be shared by the country/region. But I do want to sneak in a tiny little comment that I was very happy to read an article in the Today newspaper by Mr Bernard Baker (director - Public Affairs Ministry of Foreign Affairs). In his article, he suggested that ASEAN could "play a stronger leadership role to ensure safety and other legitimate concerns are adequately addressed at a regional level". He cited nuclear power and the haze as examples. Mr Baker also argued that such an approach "in no way derogates the soverign rights of the countries concerned". He ended off by saying that ASEAN should set an example for other regions. *clap clap clap*
For more information: ASEAN and nuclear safety

Okay, before I start on our geography lesson 002, I would like to congratulate my housemate Jomin and my colleague Johann for being the only 2 persons that I know that got all the answers correct for my questions on South East Asia. Very impressive indeed!! Note: Both their names start with "J" so perhaps for potential parents out there. Erhem...if you want your kids to be good in geography then if the first letter of their name is "J", it might be a better bet. :P

There are 22 countries in Middle East. Middle east is also known as West Asia. The countries in alphabetical order are:

Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Cyprus, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan, Yemen

Okay, anyone notice that Palestine is not mentioned in the list of countries? (I was a little surprised myself in the beginning.) Also, if you ever wondered why there seems to be alot of fighting going on in Middle East (almost Israel vs everyone else) and you dig in a little deeper, you will be "in" for a wonderful and fascination history that goes way back...........

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Conversations on the nuclear power topic

Today I had 3 short but interesting conversations regarding nuclear power. Let me see if I can share it appropriately here:

[FF] : Jme, so are you FOR or AGAINST nuclear power?
*FF is reacting to my MSN statement*
[Jme]: You mean nuclear weapons? Definitely AGAINST.
[FF]: Me too! But for nuclear power, it seems that at this point in time, it is the most viable energy souce.
[Jme]: Agree.
(which is quite sad because it seems that if we use nuclear power, it is hard to control nations NOT to have nuclear weapons - refer to pillar 3 arguement)

I shared this conversation with K.Ling and she asked me some interesting questions:

[K.Ling]: Why do you think nuclear power is the only viable energy source?
[Jme]: Because we will eventually run out of fossil fuels (coal, gas and oil) AND renewable energy like solar,hydraulic, wind power is neither stable nor adequate to meet the world's demand on electricity. At this point in time, nuclear power is the only stable source.
(My brother later shared with me a new method using hydrogen - water and a new type of car that is powered by this new method)

[K.Ling]: Nuclear power is stable?
[Jme]: At least it can be controlled by man. Renewable energy depends on nature and there is just so many dams you can build for hydraulic power.
(My brother commented that there has been no known nuclear power plant problem at least for the past 10 years)

[K.Ling]: Which countries do you think can be trusted with nuclear power?
[Jme]: ERm....tough question. At the top of my head, I think only a few countries per region require to have nuclear power plants and maybe they can provide this to the surrounding countries??

[K.Ling]: Hmm...these countries will become very powerful.
[Jme]: Yes, I think so. But it is the same situation we have now. Some countries have oil, some countries don't. Therefore some countries are richer than others.

I thought about this more and then I added the following -
[Jme]: Hmm...there should be more than one solution. For instance:-
a) Countries that cannot afford to build nuclear power plant can invest in research to determine how to make renewable energy sources more stable. If they have natural resources like rivers/land, they can become self-sufficient.
b) Countries that can afford to build nuclear power plant but do not have the land to do it can buy electricity from their neighbours. (Like Singapore - but these countries then need to provide services in other ways.)
c) Countries that can afford to build nuclear power plant and have the land to do it can then sell their services to other countries.
d) Countries that do not have money to build or purchase on their own can group together to share.

Anyway, I also read somewhere that some places in Nigeria do not have stable electricity supply at this point in time.

The interviewer asked the Nigerian:" When do you think you will be able to get stable electricity supply" and the Nigerian's reply was:" 2056".

The interviewer laughed and said: "Wow! You are a very patient man to be willing to wait half a century for stable electricity!!!" The Nigerian good-humouredly replied:" I may not be alive when this part of Nigeria gets stable electricity, but so far, we can make do with what we have"

Conclusion: Maybe, we can get use to life using less electricity and yet be happy? Or maybe, we can trade away our lives in this nuclear power gamble.

P/s: If you have any thoughts on this matter, please do write to me and share.

Feeling unwell......only 24 hours a day.

I have been sleeping an average of 3 hours a day for the past week since I've returned from South Africa. (My brother ask me how I manage to do it!)

My waking hours are spent doing the following things (estimated):
a) Reviewing stacks and stacks of documentations for work. :) 40%
b) Writing stacks and stacks of reports for my boss and attending conference calls. :) 40%
c) Reading newspaper and surfing the internet to answer the questions I have based on my reading. :P (Once again, I love the internet love the internet love the internet) 5%
d) Studying for Loma :( 5%
(Looks like I"m going to do miserably but I am just too tired when I return home so I just flip the pages.)
e) Travelling to work and listening to the radio 5% :O
f) Blogging 5% :)

(Yes, nhon, exercising is currently not on my daily to-do list. Working on it!!! But I know you are not proud of me so I put this in smaller fonts. Haha!)

In fact, I realize that I eat lunch at my desk while reading documents (today glenn had to pick up my sandwiches for me because i was feeling so unwell) and I ate dinner in 15 mins today while reading the newspaper online. It seems that the body is very unhappy with me at this current point in time. But I can't seem to sleep very well. Stressed up?

Anyway, I came home from work slightly earlier today while struggling with a conference call at the same time! Drove like a maniac demonstrating the idiotic Singaporean side of me: apologies to all the drivers who had the bad luck of seeing me on the streets today. :P

After my medication, I was going to bed but I ended up having a chat with my brother on lots of stuff. I think he is a very informed person (he reads a lot!) and I encouraged him to share it in his blog. It only takes 15-30 mins a day and I feel that it is wonderful thing to share.....In the sharing process, we learn many things from the people around us as well.

P/s: The fever has subsided. Its great to be alive!!!

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Nuclear Weapons...who should have them?

Anyone reading the newspaper, listening to the radio or watching television will know that one of the hottest discussion topics in the world today is North Korea becoming a nuclear power after their (supposedly) partially-successful nuclear detonation experiment held on October 9 2006. The world went into shock because of the unspoken consequences (horrors!!!) that this Stalinist country could unleash with their new-found power. Countries, especially USA, were quick to condemn this improvised country.

In my mind, my first reaction was fear and I thought to myself:"Damn the North Koreans! Their people are living in poverty, half starving and yet the government spend their money investing in nuclear weapons. Pyongyang is reputed to have few lights on at night because they do not have enough power for electricity. So minimally, I thought, if North Korea had nuclear knowledge then I would think that their priority would be to use it for some good such as generate electricity for their people and not for mass destruction weapons. So..what kind of half-baked logic is that? Damn Kim Jong II, this stupid mad man."

Everyone still remembers the mass destruction in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Towards the end of world war II, in 1945, USA dropped two bombs comically called "Little Boy" (uranium) and "Fat Man" (plutonium) on Hiroshima and Nagasaki respectively. Sure, there are arguements that this action resulted in a quick end to the war. Yet, no one can deny that these weapons resulted in immediate deaths of 100,000-200,000 and more over the years. The radioactive "harm" that lingered through the years created many genetically deformed people in those 2 islands. In addition, who can forget the disasters during the failure of the 2 nuclear power plants now known as the Three Mile Island (1970s) accident and 1986 disaster at Chernobyl.

Remembering these "well-loved" moments, countries around the world including N.Korea's well-known ally, China, signed an agreement to implement trade sanctions on North Korea until North Korea will come to the table for talks on disarmament. No one could trust them to hold onto this power.

And then the story unfolds and the hyprocrisy surfaces. The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (signed in 1968 with a participant of 188 soverign states - out of which Malaysia and Singapore are one of them :)) can be summarized in 3 pillars.

First Pillar - Non proliferation
5 states are permitted to own nuclear weapons: France, Russia, China, USA and United Kingdom. (Reason being at the time when the treaty was signed, these countries already possessed these weapons, I believe). The first pillar basically indicates that these 5 states will not transfer nuclear weapon technology to other states while other non-Nuclear Weapon states (WPS) will not seek to develop or acquire these nuclear weapons.

However, many people argue that USA does not abide by this guideline because it is sharing its technology with NATO states. For more information, please refer to Wikipedia - First Pillar

Second Pillar - Disarmament
The second pillar basically states that the 5 WPS will pursue plans for eventual disarmament.

However, in reality, over the past 3 decades, disarmament plans have been rejected by the 5 states for one reason or another.

This I believe has caused many non-WPS to become disillusioned and start to withdraw from the treaty and seek ways to arm themselves. Case in point: North Korea.

Third Pillar - Right to peacefully use nuclear technology
Obviously, due to the relunctance to abandon nuclear alternatives, a way must be decided to allow nuclear power to be harnessed and used for the good of man. And this includes generation of heat, electricity and others.

However in reality, it is only one small step for moving from nuclear technology for constructive purposes to generating weapons. USA has constantly criticised Iran for developing nuclear weapons under the pretense of using nuclear power to generate electricity.

I am by no means an expert on this topic but I do know that I hear the common people on the street comment that the easiest solution for the nuclear problem is for everyone to disarm (including India and Pakistan who have nuclear weapons althought they are not permitted to have). This will give NO further excuses for other nations to arm themselves.

Note: In North Korea's case, they were actually a signatory to the Treaty for Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons up to Year 2003 when they made a withdrawal. Reason at that time: North Korea felt that USA was becoming a threat to them.

Ultimately, I still condemn the fact that North Korea has nuclear weapons and are continuing to strive to perfect their technology. At the same time, they are constantly using this as a threat for the world to back off.

Yes, I do NOT think that weapons in the hands of HALF CRAZED man allow me to sleep easy at night. Yet, I would also like to highlight the hyprocrisy that I see with these so-called established countries (WPS) refusing to disarm and also pointing the finger at North Korea.

My view is that everyone will become a mad man when they become the ultimate power..........Even more so, who can bear the consequence if this technology lands in the wrong hands such as insane religious fanatics or extremist (-we won't say who-) and then used for terrorist means.

Nations need to make a stand to disarm so that the world can be a safer place to live in. We need someone to make the first step and then, we won't have to answer the question: Nuclear Weapons.....who should have them?

Veil Update - Today (Singapore)

I couldn't agree with this article more: Today article - Why Britain fears the veil

Contest for a national anthem - Armenia (also Singapore anthem)

Has anybody heard about the country called "Armenia"?

Armenia is a country next to Turkey, Iran and Azerbaijan. Its capital city is called Yerevan and its total land area is 29,800 sq km (Singapore = 647.5 sq km). Armenia has a population of about 4 million. (Singapore = 3.5 million) In the lonely planet, Armenia is romantically entitled as the ancient country making a comeback in the 21st century.

A mountainous area, Armenia is at the edge of southeastern Europe and serves as a gateway to Middle East and Asia. This wonderful geographical location could have been a blessing but it turned out to be a curse: Over the centuries, Armenia was invaded and torn apart by different empires including Roman, Byzantine, Arab, Persian and Ottoman.

Finally in 1991, Armenia gained independence from the Soviet Union but ended up in a bloodbath with their neighbour Azerbaijan. Peace was attained in 1994. The Armenian people have been involved, in several occassions, as victims of ethic cleansing (such as in Turkey). Nature also did not spare this country with a major earthquake in 1988 destroying most of its infrastructure and killing more people.

Armenia is turning around and the tourist industry is starting to blossom. Today, I heard that Armenia is holding a contest to decide on their new national anthem. It is the belief and hope of the government that Armenia, which has undergone so many changes in the past 10 years, can unite their people with a new national anthem. However, interviews held by BBC, has obtained only lukewarm or negative response from the Armenian youth.

For more information: Article on Armenia's national anthem contest

After I have read more about this country, I recall back in secondary school where we had a debate on whether the national anthem of Singapore should be changed. Right now, the national language of Singapore is Malay. So is the national anthem. Yet to be honest, most of the Singaporeans are unable to relate to both the language and the anthem. Sure, we remember it by heart but if you question any Singaporean on the street, they are probably going to have a hard time telling you what the national anthem means.

I made a resolution to find out what my national anthem means.

My country is small and it has no natural resources and the people is by far from perfect but I do count my blessings and I'm very proud to call this little island my home where I feel safe enough to walk out on my own late at night.

I present to you my country's national anthem.

(Onward Singapore)
Mari kita rakyat Singapura
(We, the people of Singapore)
Sama-sama menuju bahagia
(Together match towards happiness)
Cita-cita kita yang mulia
(Our noble aspiration)
Berjaya Singapura
(To make Singapore a success)
Marilah kita bersatu
(Let us all unite)
Dengan semangat yang baru
(In a new spirit)
Semua kita berseru
(Together we proclaim)
Majulah Singapura
(Onward Singapore)
Majulah Singapura
(Onward Singapore)

Note: Composed in 1956-57 by Encik Zubir Said. Adopted as the republic's National Anthem upon independence in 1965.


DUDE, PIMP MY RIDE => All day long that damn phrase was stuck in my head, like the chorus of an irritating song that won't go away.
(which makes it 100,000 times more annoying when all day long imagine someone shouting in an American accent in your head: DUDE, PIMP MY RIDE!)

Like, wah lau eh, GET LOST already…..

For all those MTV junkies out there, you should already know what this show is about. For the benefit of those people that don't watch MTV and don't know what the hell I'm talking about (you better be too broke to pay for cable or 35 years old and above or just spend your time watching Chinese MTV channel [V]. Muahahahhahaha), here is an explanation:

MTV – "Pimp my ride" is a show that happens weekly where 2 teams compete with each other to pimp (which means modify in this case) a pok-gai (that is Cantonese which means lousy/useless) car to become the coolest ride ever. So each team starts with a similar pok-gai car (now, you know what that means), come up with creative ideas based on the theme of the week and build really cool rides that blow your mind away. The winning team gets RESPECT and more importantly………….the other team’s car. :)
**Flash Update: 18 October 2006 - I have been updated by the MTV expert -Mak that the show with 2 teams competing is called "Trick it out" and not "Pimp my ride". Pimp my ride has the rap superstar and car specialist create unheard of pimped out masterpieces. However, I would like to confirm that the phrase "Pimp my ride" was in my head and NOT "Trick it out"

But enough of digression, once again as I was saying, the phrase “DUDE, PIMP MY RIDE” was in my mind the whollllleeeeeeeee day. And I’m also saying, I have no freaking idea why the hell that phrase is in my head. I mean…..it does NOTHING for me!

Dude, seriously……………. I don’t mind if there is like this really “healthy phrase” stuck in my head. Erm..for instance: *cough cough*
人人为我, 我为人人 (meaning – All for one and one for all) –
*CHIN CHONG CHANG *cymbals clashing to announce what a chin chong chang person I am :P

Correct????? So healthy!! But NOOOoooooooooooooooooo *sacarstic voice*. What was stuck in my head was: DUDE, PIMP MY RIDE!!!

I mean ENOUGH ALREADY. Just had to ask that voice to “ShOO Shoo….GET OUT OF MY Head. GET LOST!!!” *takes up the broom to do the sweeping act* (do you hear the cymbals clashing again??)

Well, while I'm talking about MTV, another thing I want to share is from Channel [V]. Channel [V] has this show called: “MTV! Wah Kao!!” (Yes, I watch channel [V] too, note how I consciously put the square brackets [ ] covering the V). So now, I take it upon my personal duty to explain what I think Wah Kao means.

Wah Kao means…………erm…wah kao. Its just like Wah Lau.

Hahhahaa. Okay, I don’t think I did justice to that explanation. Aiyah, sorry, seriously I can’t think of a better way to explain it. But like what the bak chor mee man says: “Sorry, your si nang tao (direct translation is: Dead Person Head) sorry also must expRain”

Anyway, so one day I asked my Taiwanese colleague what the phrase “wah kao” meant. She didn’t really answer me but just told me that “Wah Kao” is not a very ladylike thing to say. Like “Wah Lau”, nice ladies JUST don’t say it.

I thought about this long and hard and decided: “Ma ma de, I’m not nice lady so WAH KAO…………AWAY!!!!


Okay, before you think I’ve gone complete bonkers. Explanation time:
1) Slept only 2 hours last night. I tossed and turned till about 5.30am this morning and just couldn’t go to BED! And my brother was playing “Need for Speed” last night, so I’m thinking that phrase “DUDE PIMP MY RIDE” must have just popped into my head. *HORRORS, you mean it was nesting in my brain since last night?!?!??!*
2) And if I really had to guess the meaning of wah kao…hmmm…*thinks hard*….wah kao could be a hybrid between something harmless like 我的天啊!(direct translation: Oh my heavens) or…something less harmless like WTF! :)

Monday, October 16, 2006

Oh MaMa...Check out the giant cat fish - Mekong wonders

For some obscure reason, I wandered onto the National Geographic website at 3am in the morning and chanced upon this article.

(I've NEVER EVER EVER been on the National Geographic website but I do watch them on telly tho.) :) I must say HEY, that website is really not BAD. Very Interesting! (Book mark it book mark it!)

Okay, anyway, the picture above is NOT a hoax. Its a giant catfish caught from the Mekong river and ...erhem....their species are now facing the risk of extinction. I'm thinking: WTF! What other monsters are there in the Mekong river.....and then I thought....the NAGA!! (For those of you who don't know what the NAGA is.....where have you been?)

Read more about the giant catfish (eaten by villagers): National Geographic Article

The Mekong river really has piqued my curiousity. Just the other day, I watched this Thai movie called the "The Mekong Full Moon Party" (my Thai colleague bought it for me because I commented that I was interested about the strange phenomenon that happens at the Mekhong river near Nong Dhai (Thai village). You see, towards the end of the Buddhist Lent, there would be strange fireballs (colourless, odourless, smokeless) that shoot up in the air from the river (supposedly from the NAGA) to celebrate the end of buddhist lent. (Yes.....this movie is about it and it speculates on the different theories on how the fireballs came to be. It is very good. You should watch it!)
About the Naga's Fireballs

One day, I'm going to plan for a trip to watch this phenomenon. Perhaps I have to book a hospital bed when I check into the Nong Dhai village (if u don't understand, read the article above). AFter all, thailand is such a nice place. Sawardi -ka................

Geography Lesson 001 - Southeast Asia

I had a discussion with my colleagues (Chinese) while stationed for work in Ho Chi Minh City last year. The question was:" Is Vietnam bigger than Thailand?" At that point in time, my first reaction was:" Hell yeah, Thailand should be WAY BIGGER than Vietnam...erm....correct?".

So when we got back to the office after our dinner, we googled it on the internet and then I realized: DAMN. The size of Thailand is 513118 km and the size of Vietnam is 329,560km. (I was expecting total land area for vietnam to be 1/4 that of Thailand).

And so, I went around quizzing my friends on some geography questions concerning S.E.A like:
a) On the map, what is the country to the left of Thailand?
b) Is Laos above or below cambodia?
c) Etc etc

And guess what...................................... most of us didn't know!!! Muahahahhaha.

Here is an excerpt of my hilarious conversation with my bro:
*USA CIA/FBI agents, if you want to snipe my brother, I can give u the address*
Erm....bro....seriously.....I love you and your sense of logic to death :)

So Kids, the lesson for today is to learn the south east asia map and don't be so darn swah ku lar, before you "clever-clever" go and learn the map of europe/africa/america/china.....拜托 (means please lar) learn the map of south east asia OK?

(As for me, erm, I had better start off with the map of singapore first. Hahahahahha. So I don't get lost looking for IKEA. :P)

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Michael Jackson - The Indian

I got cramps from all the laughing watching this. :) Enjoy

Perseverence.....Its the size of fight in a dog that matters.

I spend the afternoon reading my textbook- Principles of Insurance: Life, Health and Annuities. Okay, come to admit it, it really is not bad. Quite an interesting read. If it weren't for the exams, I might enjoy it better but yet again, if it weren't for the exams, I'll probably be reading some other novel. (Psstt...I am reading an interesting book called the Knights Templar but I promise to keep it away until I'm well-prepared for my exam. But last night, I quite sneakily read one chapter but I was nabbed red-handed and a little reprimanded this morning). *sheepish look*

After a couple of chapters, I fell asleep and had this really strange dream. I know it was strange but now, I actually cannot remember what it was about. :P So I had dinner and came online to blog a little. Sigh! When you are supposed to be focus on doing something (studying in my case), everything else just seems so much more interesting BUT when you are not studying for anything, then the mind keeps nagging at you to keep moving forward to upgrade yourself. Life is such a paradox. Cannot understand!

I was also surfing the internet (THANK GOODNESS FOR INTERNET. Computers and Internet, I love you *muacks muacks muacks*) and chance upon a few quotes on Perserverence that I would like to share.

" People of mediocre ability sometimes achieve outstanding success because they don't know when to quit. Most men succeed because they are determined to." by George E. Allen.


"What counts is not necessarily the size of a dog in the fight - it's the size of the fight in the dog" by General Dwight Eisenhowell.

Enought of inspirational "moments". I"m going to take a shower and hit the books again.

Love or hate the veil....

I was driving home and listening to the BBC on the radio when a particular segment caught my attention.

The topic was on a Muslim teacher in England who was asked to remove her veil because her students could not hear her clearly. She refused and was later suspended. She is currently pending the decision of an employment tribunal. Please read: BBC news

Living in a multi-cultural society, I am surrounded by people from all walks of life with different religious beliefs. I've worked closely with many Muslim colleagues who later became good friends. For me, religion was never a barrier. In fact, most of my colleagues, especially in Malaysia, wear the Tudong - head scarf but they do not cover their faces. I think it is a personal choice that they want to cover their head, religious reason or not, and really it makes no difference to me.

Due to the actions of certain Islamic extremist, Islam has become the focus over past few years. Because many people do not understand the religion, they tend to fear it. Now, all sort of ridiculous things have been raised such as the banning of Muslim woman wearing the tudong. I think it is a matter of HUMAN RIGHT on what people choose to wear, as long as it doesn't affect (harm) another person, why do you want to force your will on others? It is the same thing as freedom of speech. Sure, we can have freedom of speech....IF freedom of speech is practiced in a responsible manner. Its that fine line...but its there.

However, with regards to this particular issue, my personal opinion on this particular matter is a totally different matter due to the following reasons:

1) The Quran says “And tell the believing women to lower their gazes and be modest, and to display of their adornments only that which is apparent, and to draw their veils over their bosoms.”(24:31)

In this verse it is clearly mentioned that sex parts must not be exposed and must be covered. “Adornment which is apparent” alludes to the common body parts between male and female sexes. The face, hands and feet are common parts and are exposed without any indecency or immodesty.

Quoted from: Article by Prof. Maqsood Jafri

Based on what I understand above, covering the face is not compulsory. Isn't it?

2) Has anybody heard about "In rome, do as the roman does."? If foreigners/tourist who visit countries like Saudi Arabia, are REQUIRED to put on a veil when they go onto the streets such that the hotel provides these garments for them and they put it on, out of respect for your culture, what is the difference between that and the situation where if you are in UK, and it is courtesy to take out your cap or sunglasses when u are talking to others so that they can see your facial expression clearly. Why can't the Muslim woman who wear veils over their face respect that?

3) I think Ms Azmi's arguements about wearing the veil during class is a little weak. I think that communication is always best when you are face to face. Everyone knows the difference between having a conversation over the phone and face-to-face in which you can see the other person's facial expression. The entire point of face-to-face is so that you don't have to guess the other person, it is normally written all over the face.

Ms Azmi is in a teaching profession and it is her responsiblity to let her students understand her clearly and to minimize all probability where her students are guessing her intentions. When I read that she expected her students to understand her clearly with a piece of cloth over her mouth, her body expression under all that garments AND her eye expression, I really laughed. I was immediately picturing myself *with the mentality I had as a young student* sitting at the back of the classroom STRAINING my eyes to see my teacher's eye expression. HAHAHAHHAHAHAHA.
----------------------------------Leaving nothing to the imagination -------------------
Look, Ms Azmi, I know you are a modest woman, following strictly what you think your religion expects you to do but please.....perhaps you should consider changing your profession. Isn't the purpose of wearing the veil to minimize lust in the male counterparts? The people in your class are STUDENTS! YOUNG CHILDREN!

I'm rather sceptical about MAN being unable to control themselves because they can see your face but hey...if that is your religion, I'll keep my big mouth SHUT. But to be honest, I would PREFER to talk to someone who is not covering her face because the idea of talking to someone whom I don't know under a veil really scares me and makes me very uncomfortable.

Just my 2 cents worth on this matter. I apologize if I have offended anyone but this is just my personal opinion with regards to this matter. And for the record, I'm not anti Islam and I have great respect for the religion. For more interesting opinions, please read: Forum on the veil topic by BBC

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Haze and Rain Update

As of 10pm on 14th October 2006, the PSI reading is 116. It has been steadily climbing all day!!! I'm not feeling so calm and tolerant at this moment in time. *murderous look in my eye* I could just about KILL some bloody inconsiderate KUKU bird out there right across the strait.......

Its bloody HOT and bloody HUMID and so very UNCOMFORTABLE. And it is so much WORSE when you know that every time you inhale, you are breathing in BAD AIR that will slowly work to KILL YOU. Slowly but surely. Sure, I can hide in an air con room all day but hey let's just say everyone is doing just about that.....aren't we also ultimately contributing to a greater destruction of the ozone layer. *cough cough* The throat is starting to itch and I'm actually having sore throat symptoms.
Erm....maybe if it rains the air will clear abit. *jamie starts to prepare for the rain dance*

Oh! Talking about RAIN. I just read in the newspaper (actually it was yesterday's newspaper) that Rain is coming to Singapore on January 21st. Tickets ranging between $188 to $888. Wah lau eh....How many rich people out there will pay $1000 for a bloomin Korean concert where you don't understand a SINGLE word except for the occasional incoherent sentence in English which gets repeated 2/3 times every chorus. Anyway, erhem....to my fiery penguin-tiger (yes, you know who I'm talking about). It might be worth it after all.

P/s: I also note that on Friday's newspaper, I read 2 articles about the haze problem. One article talked about $79m lost due to a dip in tourism, productivity (because ermm people take time off from work if they are sick)....and recreation.
Also, a correction to my earlier post, this year's haze is not as bad as in 1997. (But hey, it is still damn bloody BAD okay. Too much...basket!)
The other article talked about environment ministers from Asean - meeting to discuss the haze problem and that "Indonesia and the regional countries would take concrete steps and develop a long-term plan of action towards preventing the haze. "

Hmm.....A very comforting thought.....we will see if there are any improvements next year. Meanwhile, I might thinking about digging out my mask -purify the air- very soon. (the unused mask which I bought while working in Shanghai during the SARS period)

Haze situation in Singapore

I looked out of the window in the afternoon and just got irritated. The haze was so bad that it made the view outside look like it was winter wonderland. The cause of the haze, based on what I understand, is that the plantation firms in Indonesia intentionally set fire to clear the fields. The traditional practice called “Slash and burn” (One of the few things from school that I still remember ). The first thought that I had was….how can people be so stupid, inconsiderate and myopic to do such a thing. Each year this happens, each year the neighbouring countries around Indonesia complains, each year the Indonesian government apologizes and promises to take up measure to prevent this in the future. Obviously, these measure are NOT working because this haze is the worst in 10 years. The current PSI reading is 99. (PSI = Pollutant Standard Index). Right now we are in borders of moderate to unhealthy air quality. At 99, the air quality may cause problems for some of the general population especially those with air respiratory problems such as bronchitis or asthma. If it crosses over to 100, this is the “Unhealthy” region where even the healthy people may experience eye irritation, sneezing or cough.
For more information, please refer to the following link: National Environment Agency
I had a friend just return from Malaysia and according to her, she mentioned that the Malaysia papers actually reported that their government wanted to curb the reporting on the haze but in the end, the government effort’s was reported in the papers as well. (I’m trying to get the newspaper article on this to verify what she said). I laughed when I heard about this because if it is true, KUDOs to the Malaysia press for freedom of speech and standing up to what is right and fair. As for the people who tried to curb this reporting, my personal view is: “ Are you freaking kidding me?? Do you think that the Malaysians are blind or stupid or something? Do you think that they don’t have eyes to look out of the window and realize that there is something different about the air that they breathe in?” We should be educating people and not restricting information!!!
Therefore, I think that the constructive solution to this method is not only to complain about the situation but also to contribute towards helping our neighbour understand the consequences not only short term but long term as well. Of course, yes, short term we are suffering for their behavior but long term wise, we are all living in on planet earth and need to be responsible for the hole in the ozone layer. So if there is something that I can do, I will surely sign up for it and I hope that my fellow Singaporeans will join me as well. As for the people up there, making the decisions for the countries, please make the correct decisions and if the common people can only see the short term benefits because they are looking out for their self interest. You, the elected leaders to lead your country, please make the right decisions and lead us in the correct direction.

Friday, October 13, 2006

4am in the morning and I can't sleep (Panic Attack)

I have to work tomorrow AND a really important conference call at 10am but I can't seem to go to bed. There is just so much to do!!! Oh my god oh my god oh my god.... Project potentially delayed??? cost overrun??!?!? *panic panic panic*

I ALSO haven't finished studying for my 2 LOMA papers in November and my Japanese paper in December.....*more panic more panic more panic*

Okay, deep breathe...deep breathe. Focus...think one thing at a time. Breathe damnit...BREATHHHHHHHHHEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE
*pulls hair, sweaty palms, eyes dilate, cold sweat, stammers...sta sta a aa mers merss merrrsssssss*
*DEAD silence*
AND THEN..............................
Person A: "Psstttttttttt, ok, I think the panic attacks are gone. You can come out now..."*looking around furtively*

Person J looks out from the corner of the building, crouching low, eyes bloodshot and wild with worry. "Are you sssssurreeeee? What about Mr big bad tomorrow?? Will the panic attacks return with him....................?"

Note: A day in the life of a STRESSED OUT working-class habitually nocturnal creature. It is very tough....trust me.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

South Africa, here i come...

October 2nd: After flying 14 hours on SQ, I almost kissed the ground of South Africa when i landed. Muahahaha. Inhaling the clean cool spring air, I thought to myself...
"Oh beautiful glorious South Africa, here I AM! No computer, no conference calls...just plenty of sun, glorious sights to soak in. Simple rest and relaxation :) "

We met Jensen from Thompson's Tours who sent us to our hotel. He was busy showing us the CCTV that was in almost every other building in the city and main roads. Security seems to be a problem in South Africa and for good measure, the authorities have put the entire city under close watch. Nothing like, big brother is watching....
Upon arriving at the hotel, we had a quick shower and were soon geared up for our half day city tour.

Mummy and I at St George's Hotel Lobby
During the short half day tour, we visited table mountain, the malay quarters, the Cape Town "Defunct" Castle (which, by the way, currently is home to the Cape Town military, and I do think they have a pretty easy life because they close their doors at 4pm!!)

Like any typical Singaporean, we did quite a bit of shopping on the first day and oh yes, simply ate like kings! I mean, seriously, the food was soooo good and reasonably priced too. Fantastic! You really should check out the Waterfront restaurants if you ever visit Cape Town. Everything there is to die for *drools*

Note: I didn't get a chance to try the Ostrich, Crocodile and Kudu steaks though. Couldn't muster the stomach to do it. :P So do let me know if it tastes good.

Oh yes, and about shopping, i really must talk about the pair of diamond earrings that I bought. My first pair of diamond earring! I bought them from a tiny store. The boss is called Uncle Dave, who has been in the diamond business for almost 40 years. He was quite a nice guy and after the "magic" that my mother persistently worked on him, he threw in a set of smaller diamond earrings to me as a present. Well, at that time, I simply didn't realize what a good price he had given me until I did some price comparison later. So I would say good price, good quality. Well, I certainly believe it is good quality because if it ain't, I just don't want to hear about it. :) If you are heading to Cape Town and need some recommendations, do drop me a note.

The remaining two days we toured the rest of Cape Town and its outskirts. I need to particularly mention visiting Cape Point which, contrary to popular belief, is really NOT the point where the atlantic ocean meets the Indian Ocean. (Hehe, guess you didn't know that right, I certainly did not either!)

We also had a nice ferry ride by Drumbeat Charter to a tiny island about 20 minutes away from the main island that was full with furry seals. We also had plenty for chances to see ostriches, baboons and penguins! All out in the wild.

Here is a picture of the Table Mountain which I nicked off the internet. I couldn't find a nice picture of the table moutain that I took without a close up of my face. P/s: I'm very self conscious after all the good food that I ate so....hehhe... Enjoy!

Back in the blogging business

Ta-da! Back back back....

I'm back online and trying this blogging thing one more time. This is like the THIRD time I'm setting up a blog site. The previous 2 became defunct after a loooooooooooongggg time of not accessing it. I'm thinking....if my OWN FATHER can set up a blog site which he religiously maintains, surely surely surely, it is not so damn hard to do one myself. Oh, I do write journals but I can hardly read my own handwriting so.....blogging is not such a bad idea.
My dear friends and brother who visited my previous blog site and it has not changed in eons. Muahahahah... This is the new one. I can't seem to access those sites anymore.

Well, what should I blog about? Don't know. But I know what I should NOT blog about.

I should NOT blog about (I made such a firm resolution not to blog about...) work. This is after attending a very scary e-compliance online training course conducted by THE company and it got me so scared that I decided to watch my back after every 3 sentences that I type.
Moral of the story for the e-compliance course:
a) Beware of what you write in email - they are company property and can be used against you.

b) Beware of what you use from the internet - you might infringe copyright
c) Beware of what you say - Check your facts at all time.
d) Beware of what you do - It may offend the people around you.

Beware beware beware!

Therefore, I made this firm resolution that I will not blog about work. However however, since my life revolves around work, I really wonder what else I can blog about. :P

Okay, I will blog about anything under the sun except work. I will try.....