Saturday, November 18, 2006

Ken Hirai - Grandfather's clock

When I first heard Ken Hirai's "Grandfather's clock - 古い時計", I was driving my car and began thinking:"Hey, how come this song sounds so darn familiar?!?".

Within seconds, I had memory flashes (no...i did not have a car accident :P). In my mind's eyes, I started to recall the good ol' days, when I was 6 years old and my mother bringing me for my organ lessons at Hougang every week.

I remember that back in those days, every student had a parent sitting next to them. This was because all of us were so short that when we sat on the organ's bench, our legs were not able to reach the pedals. So it was a parent-child coordination every week where the parent was in charged of pressing the pedals while the student would be working away on the upper and lower keyboards. It was really fun because both the parent and the kid were mostly learning together for the first time.

As we grew older and taller, we had pedal extensions. These extensions worked by putting identical pedal fixtures onto the organ's original pedals. At that thought, while driving my car, I started laughing out loud. (The drivers to my left and right must have thought I was going crazy). Naturally, I turned up the volume for my CD player in the car and started singing along.
My Grandfather's clock (English version) was one of the songs that was taught rather extensively during my Yamaha school days . It was so much fun!! Every student was entitled to a shiny sticker to paste in their book at the end of each lesson. When the teacher started playing the "Goodbye my friend" song on her organ, the students would jump out of their seats and rush up to the front of the class to queue up and get their sticker. First comers could select the stickers that they like.

After that, we would have to sing the "Goodbye my friend" song whilst standing in a circle...without much effort, I started to sing in the car "Now its time to say goodbye, sayonara my friend.....lalalalallalala". Its amazing I still remember.

Back to Ken Hirai: Born in 1972, 17 January in Higashi-Osaka, Osaka prefecture, Ken Hirai grew up in Nabari, Mie prefecture. He is a Japanese R&B and pop singer. He released the popular nursery rhyme "My Grandfather's Clock" in 2002 which became one of the biggest hits in that year.

My Grandfather's Clock









Note: The Japanese version has slight differences from the English version.

My grandfather's clock
Was too large for the shelf,
So it stood ninety years on the floor;
It was taller by half
Than the old man himself,
Though it weighed not a pennyweight more.
It was bought on the morn
Of the day that he was born,
And was always his treasure and pride;

But it stopped short
Never to go again,
When the old man died.
Ninety years without slumbering,
Tick, tock, tick, tock,
His life seconds numbering,
Tick, tock, tick, tock,
It stopped short
Never to go again,
When the old man died.

In watching its pendulum
Swing to and fro,
Many hours had he spent while a boy;
And in childhood and manhood
The clock seemed to know,
And to share both his grief and his joy.
For it struck twenty-four
When he entered at the door,
With a blooming and beautiful bride;

But it stopped short
Never to go again,
When the old man died.
Ninety years without slumbering,
Tick, tock, tick, tock,
His life seconds numbering,
Tick, tock, tick, tock,
It stopped short
Never to go again,
When the old man died.

My grandfather said
That of those he could hire,
Not a servant so faithful he found;
For it wasted no time,
And had but one desire,
At the close of each week to be wound.
And it kept in its place,
Not a frown upon its face,
And its hand never hung by its side.

But it stopped short
Never to go again,
When the old man died.
Ninety years without slumbering,
Tick, tock, tick, tock,
His life seconds numbering,
Tick, tock, tick, tock,
It stopped short
Never to go again,
When the old man died.

It rang an alarm
In the dead of the night,
An alarm that for years had been dumb;
And we knew that his spirit
Was pluming his flight,
That his hour of departure had come.
Still the clock kept the time,
With a soft and muffled chime,
As we silently stood by his side.
But it stopped short
Never to go again,
When the old man died.
Ninety years without slumbering,
Tick, tock, tick, tock,
His life seconds numbering,
Tick, tock, tick, tock,
It stopped short
Never to go again,
When the old man died.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Geography Lesson 003 - North Asia (and recap on Southeast Asia)

Before I start on North Asia, I would like to share a conversation that I've had which I found rather interestng. Just the other day, my colleagues and I were talking about Egypt. And whilst talking about Egypt, "Egypt" and "Middle East" were used interchangeably throughout the entire conversation. And then it dawned on me: Hey...are we talking about Egypt or Middle East here?

So, being the usual pain in the arse (that's just me :P), I had to ask and I learnt that due to to the Arabic influence in Egypt, it is often related with Middle East in the business world.
In reality, ladies and gentlemen, Egypt is on the African continent. But hey, before I had even started on this blog, I would not have even thought about this at all. So I would say that this blog is not an entire waste of my time :P

Okay, so now since Middle East is on the Asia continent, here's a little tribute to Asia (before I start on North Asia) *drum rolls*

Did you know.....
Asia is the largest continent on the planet covering up to 30% of the world's landmass and includes 44 countries and assorted islands. Significant features of the continent of Asia include:
a) World tallest mountain - Mt Everest 8,850m (Nepal and China)

-> Are you going to tell me that K2 is taller?
b) World lowest point - Dead Sea 392m below sea level (Israel/Jordan)

-> Yes, that is middle east.
c) World most populated countries - China and India
d) World longest coastline
e) World deepest lake - Lake Baykal (Russian Federation)
f) Some of the most important rivers (more on this at a later date)

And now, here is a list of countries in North Asia:
1) Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea)
(HORRORS! I had it the other way round)
2) Japan
3) Mongolia
4) People's Republic of China (Include Hong Kong SAR and Macau SAR)
5) Republic of Korea (South Korea)
(Once again, I really thought this name had more of a communist flavour)
6) Taiwan

And as you can see from the map, Russia (largest country in the world) is divided into Russia (Asia) and Russia (European).

Also, just to avoid confusion, I need to do a recap.

There is South Asia (includes India, Sri Lanka and etc) and there is Southeast Asia

Here's recapping the countries in Southeast Asia:

1) Brunei (Tricky, Tricky I always connected it with West Malaysia. Pai seh)
2) Burma
3) Cambodia
4) East Timor (Tricky, tricky, I missed this out the last time)
5) Indonesia
6) Laos
7) Malaysia (East and West Malaysia)
8) Philippines
9) Thailand
10) Vietnam

Monday, November 13, 2006

Vera baby niece

Look at her. Isn't she just a cutey? Her name is Vera Zagorodnov and she is my niece. (Yes, yes, I've elevated in status and am now an auntie :P)

She was born on October 30th (thanks k.ling!) at about 1am. A very healthy baby and according to her parents...she is a really good kid as well. She doesn't cry too much and I tell you...she smells wonderful and has got the tiniest toes and fingers.

Baby Vera has got double eyelids and soft black baby hair. My mum says she has got a sharp nose but it doesn't look it in this picture. :P

And actually, I'm telling you that the lower half of her face has got my sister's cheeks. Hahahha...Baby Vera...I hope you grow out of it!

Her daddy takes her out sun bathing on the steps of Nanyang Technological University because baby vera has got slight jaundice problem. But not to worry, in the capable hands of her loving parents and grandma, Vera is bound to make a fast recovery.

P/s: I need to take good care of myself, pamper myself with lots of moisturizer, day cream, night cream, eye cream...... Baby Vera, I love you lots but ARGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Persistent headache, TODAY and Prison Break

First scene
It’s a dark and empty room except for a wooden chair right in the middle. A spotlight shines on that chair, a girl is sitting there with her hands on her head. She looks up and notices that she has company. She says:

Let me introduce you to my new best friend, (you probably already know him) his name is called * drum rolls* Mr Headache

My dear friend Mr Headache has paid me a visit and has been continuously by my side for 2 and half days and counting. He endearingly keeps me awake when I try to go to sleep and kisses me good morning when I wake up. His constant reminder that I’m not alone and that he is always by my side is heart felt.

At this point, 2 backstage persons appear. One with a drum in her hands and the other with 2 dustbin tin can lids (What the hell am I thinking?!) They stand slightly behind the girl. Backstage person 1 with the dustbin tin can lids starts clanging. Backstage person 2 decides:"What the heck" and starts drumming on the girl's head. Despaired, the girl puts her head back in her hands. Life with mr headache…..

(As of this writing, I’ve slept almost 15 hours on a Saturday and Mr Headache appears to have gone off visiting someone else. 3 Cheers…hip hip hooray!)

*screen fades*

Second scene
Sitting in front of her study table, Jamie is multi-tasking. Reading the newspaper and having a nice chat over MSN with her friend, Feifei. It has been raining all Saturday afternoon and the air has cooled a considerable bit. There is music playing in the background and a Todayon her lap.

Jamie says: “Hello FF, How are the deers?”
(Note: Feifei is currently working in AT&T research lab in USA. The research lab is surrounded by trees and wild deers)

FF replies: “Hello. Haha, they are all right, they come out at night” *or something to that effect*

Jamie says: “ Don’t work too late, if not the deers will come out and say: “Hellow Fei fei”

FF replies: “ Hehe…Hey, don’t scare me…..”

Jamie’s attention is distracted to an article that she is reading. Its entitled “Walking Tall” and is an article written by Neil Humphreys. I like Neil Humphreys…his article always makes me laugh.

For more information, please refer to the following article:
Neil Humphrey’s Walking Tall.

Quoted from the newspaper: “Its worth repeating that TODAY is the only newspaper not controlled by the Singapore Press Holdings to survive and thrive. What you’re reading right now represents an alternative of sorts and Singaporean consumers must cherish alternatives.”

Support TODAY today. .....3 Cheers.....

*screen fades*

Third Scene

Oh! I’m hooked. I’m so much in love with the hit series by FOX: Prison Break. It’s a thriller….very exciting and has very very very erm..interesting cast.
Its a story about 2 brothers: Lincoln Burrows (middle guy) is accused of killing the Vice President's brother and has been sentenced to death penalty. The problem is he didn't commit the crime! But no body really believes him except for his young, talented, handsome brother (who happens to be a genius by the way) Michael Scolfield.

Michael Scolfied is a structural engineer who happens to have worked on (and thus have access to the blueprints) the prison where the brother is currently held! Initially, he tried all sorts of legal ways to help his brother but it was (of course) not successful. Finally, he decided to take things in his own hands. He plans meticulously for several months and then arranges for himself to be arrested (by attempting to rob a bank) and locked up in the same prison as his brother. The story unfolds......

My god, c'mon look at him, is he handsome or what.....his look is so…………INTENSE! *melts melts*.

P/s: Jomin agrees that INTENSE is the right word to use. Haha.

A little bit about Wentworth Miller:
Born in United Kingdom, raised in Brooklyn, New York, and a graduate of Princeton University in English Literature. Wentworth Miller can be seen in:
a) Buffy the Vampire Slayer (guest star)
b) ER(guest star)
c) Popular(guest star)
d) Dinotopia
e) The Human Stain (this I need to watch)
f) Underworld
g) Joan of Arcadia (guest star)
h) Ghost Whisperer (guest star)

This is a picture from Prisonbreak. You might be wondering what's up with all the tattoos right?

Okay, let me give you a little insight: Well, Michael Scolfield ends up in prison as an inmate right? So he can't bring anything in with him. Therfore, he gets the prison's blue prints and any other necessary information tattooed on his body (encrypted nonetheless).

Jomin said he would look alot better with a nicer body but I think. Okay lah! Good enough. :)

Therefore, if you ever get a chance, get Season One of Prison break. I promise you that you will be absolutely hooked by the 3rd episode.

Here is the official website for Prisonbreak: Fox – Prison Break

Monday, November 06, 2006

Feeling demoralized....and overwhelmed overwhelmed overwhelmed!

Ever had the feeling that you wish you could turn back the clock to make "right" something that you have done wrong? I'm there.............right now.

It made me think of this REALLY cliche phrase:" Life is like a roller coaster ride. There are ups and downs". Or if you prefer: "Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you are going to get." *rolls eyes*
Well, whatever it is, at this point in time, I'm riding the lows on the roller coaster or eating that bad chocolate.

Recently, things seem to have gone a little out of control for me. There are just too many things going on at the same time and the more I try to manage them, the more I realize that I can't manage them.

Anyway, I'm here blogging and trying to blow off some steam. I've had enough of unproductive revision for the day. Boy, am I'm glad that I will be finishing the second LOMA paper tomorrow. The paper that I did this morning was pretty okay but now, I already know that I've made a couple of careless mistakes. What the HELL!! (Note: I've been kicking myself all day in the head for making those stupid mistakes.)

Actually, I know you are going to say that I'm a geek, but I'm still going to say this... I really did enjoy reading some parts of the textbooks because I think those parts were interesting and erm...informative. But comes the test and its a totally different story.....My personal opinion (and I know that I'm not alone in saying this) is that the focus of the LOMA paper is all wrong! I mean..I feel that it should be focused on testing the basics of insurance and NOT on the regulations for USA or Canada. Because I really don't giving a flying f*** on the age limitations, rules and regulation for USA's SSDI or SIMPLE plan, for that matter. (which is Social Security Disability Income or Savings Incentive Match Plan for Retirement purposes) 好废哦!Oh pleaseeeeeeeeee, I can barely remember what the Singapore CPF rules and regulations!! (blush!)

So therefore, though I agree that taking papers are a good way to test your understanding on a subject, I think it really depends on how the paper was prepared. This morning really killed my interest in studying for the paper tomorrow. Oh well, we'll see how it goes.

Desperately need to oil & crank up the ol' machinery...geez my brain has gone rusty over the years. I realized that I cannot remember half the things I've read in the textbook. Tricky tricky! Very dangerous. Either I've gone all stupid or I wasn't very "focused" while reading the text. Either way, I'll pay for it soon enough. :)

So! Come tomorrow....I'm going to get my life back in order. Er...hem...My to-do list as follows:
1) "Exterminate" all outstanding emails/reports/work items pending in my tasklist since last week. So, if you are reading this and I owe you something, I'm going to get it to you by the end of this week.
2) Read my newspaper.....oooohhh such a luxury to be able to do it everyday.
3) Spend some quality time with my tiger cub. This time, my undivided attention -I promise.
4) Love myself more by controlling my diet. Ok, need to get back "with the program" *canadian street slang* and make Nhon proud of me. HA!
5) Man-handle my Japanese textbook for the paper in December. Like really MAN-HANDLE.
6) Spend more time with my friends. Guys, I love you to bits but I really have a lousy way of showing it. Hang in there, Mak!
6) Get the rest that I deserve. Just sleeeeeeeeeeeeeepppppppppppppppppppppppp!!

God!!! I'm so tired.

Over and out!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Shanghai....Its nice to be back...and the smelly ang mor

I'm back in Shanghai.........its great to be back!!

When the plane landed on the tarmac, I had only ONE feeling:

For several reasons:
1) Because I could get out of the plane...............
Well, you see, I tried to do an internet check-in (the night before the flight), so that I could get myself my "standard" aisle seat. I don't care left or right or centre, I just wanted to get a seat with at least no one on ONE of my sides. Is that soo much to ask for?!?!?

BUTTTTTTTTT the flight was so full that I only managed to get a middle seat!!! (I think everybody just WISED up and started booking their seats online via internet.) Naturally I was rather irritated but I thought....its only a 5 hour flight, should be manageable......... Boy, was I wrong.

When I boarded the plane, my first realization was that I would be sandwiched between 2 rather BIG guys. If you think that is bad enough and it couldn't get any worse, you would be so wrong. The next thing I realize was that the ang moh on my left smelt soooooooooooooooooo BAD. It was like every time he exhaled through his mouth, I'm wondering to myself if life is worth living at all.

At one point in time, I figure that I was better off just killing myself by smashing my head on the screen or just jumping out of the plane.

I mean, seriously dude, shower or something!!!

I think it was pretty obvious because I was SOOO not in my chatty mood, in fact, I was bordering between absolute BITCHINESS or complete MADNESS (in which both ways I would end up killing him and throwing his carcass out of the plane.)

Towards the end of the flight, he "waddled" over to the toilet and I think he poured the entire cologne bottle on himself, because the smell was OVERPOWERING when he returned. Everyone should know that bad smell and cologne just don't mix so well!!! It made it even worse....that cheapskate and smelly guy.

Fortunately, the Chinese guy on my right was VERY gentlemanly and well, minimally, he smelt all right. :P So I naturally "gravitated" to his side and I'm pretty sure he could understand how i felt because he gave me that "knowing" smile.

If the flight wasn't so full, I would have demanded a change of seats!!

2) Fantastic weather and the lure of Shanghai second home.

Anyway, the weather in Shanghai was fantastic. About 16 degrees on average. It's great to be back in Shanghai, after all I've regarded this place as my second home for the past 3 years. It is great to be back to see the familiar buildings, cars all over shanghai, although this time, I'm strictly THE "OUTSIDER". I miss Shanghai!

3) Wonderful friends and colleagues
It's been a couple of months since I've seen my friends and colleagues. So many things have changed! The office has been relocated to a location that is quite far away from the old office. New location, new building...old faces and old friends.

It's great to be back!