Saturday, November 29, 2008

Depressing news around the world..particularly in Asia

I am really depressed after reading the newspaper today. Pages after pages of bad news covering the gory details of the violence and unrest happening in Mumbai, Thailand and Nigeria.

In particular, the tragedy that has unfolded in Mumbai and has resulted with the Indian commandos storming to recover the places that were under attack by the Islamic militants. With a body count of 195 persons (out of which 26 are foreigners) and 295 wounded, this attack has been termed as India's 911. Recent reports has it that the perpertrators had gone through extensive training and planning to exact maximum damage. It's simply unconceivable how people can do this to one another?

I'm truly horrified by the detailed accounts from the survivors and sad tales of the people who had perished in this tragedy. This terrorist attack has claimed the life of a Singaporean - Lo Hwei Yen and although I am not personally acquainted with her, would like to extend my condolences to the grieving family.

In sorrow, I reflect on wise words left behind by Mahatma Gandhi:

"When I despair, I remember that all through history the ways of truth and love has always won. There have been tyrants and murderers and for a time they seem invincible but in the end, they always fall - think of it, ALWAYS"

I'm sure that, like many others, I will not sleep well tonight.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Sanyo Xacti CG 9 ..My very first camcorder

As some of my friends probably know, my Panasonic camera "konked" out on me during my trip to Hokkaido and thus I've recently been on a camera/camcorder hunt.

So on my second day back in Singapore, I headed straight down to Sim Lim Square to get my camera. I had done quite a bit of research on the internet and had ended up totally confused with the barrage of information online and wanted to get some help from the "experts". (It turned out that I knew a lot more about cameras than some of them did!!)

After a little deliberation, I finally settled for the Sanyo Xacti CG9. Its very much an entry-level camcorder (and my very FIRST!) and although there were several alternatives that provided much better pictures, I chose the Sanyo Xacti CG9 for its size, weight, acceptable image quality and affordable price. After a day of fooling around with it, I must say that I am not disappointed with my purchase so far.

My latest toy - Sanyo Xacti CG9
Some specifications for the CG9 (which are particularly informative when choosing a digital camera) as follows:
  1. Effective Pixel Count: Approx. 9.1 megapixels
  2. Image Sensor: CMOS sensor, 1/2.33 inch, 9.12 megapixels (total)
  3. Recording Media SD memory card, SDHC memory card (up to 32 GB), Internal memory (approx. 40 MB)
  4. Recording File Format: Still (JPEG - DCF, DPOF, Exif Ver. 2.2 standard), Movie (MPEG-4 AVC/H.264 (ISO standard), Audio -48 kHz, 16 bit, 2 ch, AAC-compression (stereo)
  5. Lens: f = 6.8 - 34.0 mm (Equivalent to 38 - 190 mm on a 35 mm camera); Optical 5.0x inner zoom lens; F: 3.5 (Wide) - 3.7 (Tele); AF: 8 groups, 11 lenses, built-in ND filter
  6. Photo Range: Standard - 10 cm (Wide)/80 cm (Tele) to infinity; Super Macro - 1 cm to 80 cm (Wide)
  7. Shutter Speed: Still - 1/2 - 1/1500 sec. (Flash: 1/30 - 1/1500 sec,; Lamp mode: Max. 2 sec.) , Sequential - 1/15 - 1/1500 sec. (No flash), Movie - 1/30 - 1/10000 sec.
  8. Digital Zoom: Shooting - Max. 12x; Playback - Max. 62.5x ([12M] mode; varies with resolution)
  9. Focus: Auto (Still: 9-point AF/Spot AF; Movie: Continuous area AF); Manual (16 steps)
I'm still trying to get used to the Xacti. (I set the ISO settings to its maximum and notice that the videos turned out too bright so now I've got to set the ISO settings back) but anyway, here is a picture of my dog taken with my Xacti.

Twinkle at the car porch
(it was actually quite dark outside as it was going to rain)

Here is another picture taken in the garden.
Note: It was very interesting for me to note that the Sanyo Xacti's face recoginition software could immediately identify and zoom in on Obama's picture on the book cover. Nice!!!)

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Love Song - 方大同

Okay...cannot resist. Another very nice song by 方大同.

方大同- 爱爱爱

I really like this song by 方大同。Saw him on one of the shows in Taiwan and I must say I'm totally impressed. So talented and extremely cool!!

HBO's favourite movie - The Holiday for me...I'm going home for the weekend.

HBO's favourite movie has got to be "The Holiday". (Note that I spell favourite with the "u" :-) )

I must have watched that movie for the god-zillion time. Okay, a little exaggeration there, but many many times...let's say 7 times. That's ALOT of times considering that my favourite movies are:
1) Fiddler on the Roof - Uncountable (watched it every afternoon for almost a year)
2) The King and I - Uncountable
3) Singing in the Rain - Uncountable
4) Dead Poet's Society - Watched it 15 times
5) V for Vendetta - 5 times
6) Wisdom of Crocodiles - 5 times.

So I would say that The Holiday (2006) is an unlikely favourite but yup...thanks to HBO, its up there on the list. (Not that I blame them, I find that I don't change the channel when its screening even though I've watched it so many times!)

Its such a feel good show! The part that really makes me tear each time has got to be the friendship between Kate Winslet and Eli Wallach's character (Eli plays Arthur Abbot - a 90 year old legendary script writer). I really love the dialogue and mix between the English and American accent too! Nice....

Okay, I'm also in a good mood. I'm really excited that I will be going home for the weekend. Its en route to my next destination: Jakarta but it sure is nice to be able to pop by home for the weekend. Hopefully, I get to buy the camera that I've been wanting for quite some time.
(My Panasonic's screen just died on me).

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Travis - Sing

Nice song....Sing Sing Sing

P/s: If you ever watch the MTV for this song - picture Travis having dinner at this classy aristocratic place which eventually ends up as a food fight party!! - well, even though I think its total rubbish (because I simply could not figure out what they were trying to say in that video). But....they sure seemed to have alot of fun! And I guess you don't need to have any reasons to have lotsa fun :D

It Never Rains in California - Albert Hammond 1973

Classic......This song grows on ya....

Out of work, I'm out of my head
Out of self respect I'm out of bread
I'm under loved I'm under fed
I wanna go home ................

Friday, November 07, 2008

Too Pink? Blog List Widget is Cool

I'm starting to like my new blog user interface.

I know its a little too black and a little too pink. :D But the matt effect of the buildings are starting to grow on me. FUNKY!! (For another version of funky, check out my brother's mohawk hair, poor mum....having a fit) :D

In particular, I think the Blog List Widget is EXTREMELY cool. Now, I don't need to click on each blog link to check for any new entries, the blog list updates automatically.


Obama....Obama....And I'm not talking about the Japan city called Obama

Never have I seen the world so hyped up during the election of another country. (myself included). But I was really overjoyed when I heard that Obama had been elected over John McCain. In fact, there was a party held at the Brass Monkey pub (Taipei) which I was so attempted to go to - any excuse to PARRTTTYYY. Haha.

In my mind, it was extremely symbolic and as indicated in several of my earlier posts, I definitely feel that Obama possessed greater qualities and traits that would be expected of a president of one of the most powerful countries of the world. In this case, I would say that the better tag-team won! (I know quite a few people who voted AGAINST hockey mum). Obama also brings about the promise for a more stable world due to his aptitude of being much more culturally sensitive. Needless to say, like many others, I find the ethnocentric view (and starting to suspect war loving characteristics) of certain Americans really annoying. "If you are NOT with us, you are against us"

The American election this time round has also created alot of debate outside of America. People are starting to question the politics of their own country. I found it oddly interesting and slightly depressing when I realized that the excitement I feel for my own country's election paled in comparison. Why? I guess I'm tired of the bully tactics.

I found that I'm not alone....

Very cool article.

I respect John McCain alot more after I heard his speech. Almost brought a tear to my eye. Such class.....

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

America Votes 2008 and my blog gets a new look

Watching "America Votes 2008" on CNN while chatting with a couple of friends online.

So exciting!

Anyway, while glued to the TV, I decided to give my blog a new face. I've been wanting to "customize" it for the longest time, trying to make it more "ME" but just never got around to doing it. So I finally decided to switch one free blog template for another.....Cheating....Hehe.

I really hope Obama wins. Love his attitude and focus. Hope and Change.

P/s: He kinda reminds me of the president of USA on 24. (I know it doesn't count but he does.) Haha.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Happy Mood...Flight of the Conchords

The last 2 weeks have been C.R.A.Z.Y!!! Work plus studying..... I thought I would lose my mind (and I almost did)!! For those part time study part time work people out there....I really don't know how you do it. *salute*.

Anyway, one more to go.

The truth is that I only managed to loan the textbooks from the company 2-3 weeks ago and with back to back conference calls in the evenings (Mon-Fri) that meant that I only had a couple of weekends to pore through the 3 textbooks. Pwah....can kill me...I don't know how many brain cells died in the process.

My colleague at work confessed to me that she was 99.99% confident that I was going to cancel/postpone the paper at the very last minute, but never-say-die attitude got me through again. (Though, I admit I was close to FREAKING out last night) Today, I'm overwhelmed but definitely elated. Yup, I finished the paper feeling really good about it.

Well, there is another paper next Friday and though I haven't exactly finished studying as well, I thought ...what the heck....I deserve one night of rest. And so, after dinner, I played Xbox360 all evening...SHIOK!!!!

I'm in such a good mood. *Beam Beam Beam*

Okay, enough about my boring "mundane" life.....some good stuff to share......

If you haven't watched Flight of the Conchords....go watch it. Its BRILLIANT!
I watched a couple of episodes on HBO (Hehe...okay so I wasn't studying that hard over the weekends) and I'm sold.....Definitely going to buy the entire series because those New Zealanders are hilarious)

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Closer to Home - Minibond Issue (Singapore)

After all that talk in my earlier post about standing up and doing the right thing with integrity, I would like to share a couple of videos regarding the Minibond situation in Singapore that I feel strongly about after watching.

Firstly, I really symphatize with the folks that have been impacted by the Minibond saga. In particular, the older folks who have lost all their life savings due to this "mis-investment". As a fellow Singaporean, I hope that the relevant authorities can act quickly to investigate this matter and work together with the parties concerned to help each other over this difficult period.

I agree with Mr Leong (one of the videos below) that this financial situation is certainly unexpected and has come as a surprise to all - financial institutions and investors alike. While symphatizing with the people who have lost their money in this type of investment, we should also try to see the other side of the picture i.e. from the financial institiutions/consultants.

With that said, I also believe that the steps taken by individuals such as Mr Tan and Mr Leong should not be viewed as an attack or protest against the financial institutions/MAS. Instead, it should be viewed as an attempt to help the investors (especially older folks) understand the situation better and provide them with an avenue to seek help and support from people who can help them. Otherwise, as individuals...where can these people turn to?

Indeed as a collective group, the impacted persons have a higher chance to seek redress but at the same time I think it is important that the investors also control their emotions and should remain practical and fair to understand that it will necessary for some to shoulder part of the responsibilities of this mess and thus may not recover their principal (particularly for the educated persons who have not read the fine print). :P

At the end of the day, I prefer to look at the positive side of this situation which is that, if handled properly, it could be a blessing in disguise and perhaps the general public come out of this situation with even higher confidence and satisfaction level towards both our government as well as financial institutions.

Channel's New Asia Coverage on Mini Bond in Singapore

Mr Tan Kin Lian's Speech at Investor's Corner - Part One of Two

Mr Tan Kin Lian's Speech at Investor's Corner - Part Two of Two

Mr Leong Sze Hian's Speech at Investor's Corner

The Online Citizen - Angry Investors Crowd the Speaker's Corner to Seek Redress

The Online Citizen - Media Interview Mr Tan Kin Lian

News Coverage - Chinese

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Back to reality and comments on the 2nd USA Presidential debate

I'm back from Hokkaido and totally enjoyed it!

It was such a relaxing trip of hot spring baths and seafood galore. Thumbs up to the entire trip and although I admit I had my reservations in the beginning to join a local Taiwanese tour package, at the end of the trip, I am really glad that I did!

Generally speaking, I have found the Taiwanese people to be very polite and friendly and this belief has been reinforced during the 5 days of close companionship with my fellow travellers. We had a group of a nice mix of people from all walks of life and a wide range of age (fortunately no kids) and everyone was so fun loving, determined to have a great time and totally considerate for everyone in the group which really enhanced the experience. (compared to my past experiences from joining Singaporean tour groups or European ones.) The tour leader was also one of the best I've met, professional and always attentive to our needs.

Of course, there were also "down" moments in the trip as we had to cancel some of our itineries due to bad/rainy weather and I found the coach rides a tad bit too long for my comfort level but I guess that is a small price to pay for the beautiful scenery and great people we met along the way.

Bottom line: 4 out of 5 stars.

Now, back in my comfy apartment in Taiwan, I'm enjoying my last days of vacation doing mainly 2 things....either cramming for my LOMA papers (which I'm no where near completing) and waking up at 6am to try to get as much office work done as possible. (all done in the most comfortable set of pyjamas, of course) but also just reading and watching things that I enjoy.

This morning, I watched the recording of the 2nd USA Presidential debate between John McCain and Barack Obama. I must say that it did not disappoint. I was particularly impressed with the way both candidates answered some pretty tough questions thrown at them. Like they say: No debate like the USA presidential debate and indeed the "stakes" are high.

There were also several articles on the web that scrutinized the accuracies of each and every statement that both politicians made during the debate which was an eye opening experience.

Personally, my take away was that I thought John McCain was abit too aggressive, for my liking, (and at times downright rude) towards Obama while on the flip side, Obama presented a rather relaxed, gentlemanly behaviour, determined to stay above the fray and focused on the REAL issues facing the economy instead of personal digs.

Needless to say, I liked what I saw in Obama and I thought his mannerism very befitting of what is expected of the USA president despite his so-called lack of records according to McCain.

In fact, John McCain's constant reminders on how "wet behind the ears" Barack Obama was due to his lack of experience and young age got a little too tiresome. I also thought these personal attacks seemed to back fire on him as can be seen from how his rather weak attempts at cracking jokes did not seem to garner any supporters from the audience. On the other hand, Obama's answers brought more than a few "nods" from the audiences.

Make your own conclusions:

I sure am looking forward to the next presidential debate mid-October to see the politicians back in the "ring" but based on what I see so far, I am rooting for Obama. In fact, I think it may be very well John McCain's so called long track record and experience that has caused him to fail to rise above personal digs at Obama and deliver the more important message to the audience.

I like the tone that the last "zen-like" question raised in the debate........No Leader is expected to know or experience every single situation to be a good leader, it is the ability to handle the unknowns that make the true leader and Obama seems to be very focused and driven to address the core issues of the economy instead of simply having the upper hand in the presidential election.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

J.B Jeyaretnam passes away at age 82....perservering to the end

I know I said I probably won't have time to blog till 2 weeks later. But I feel like this is important enough to put everything I have aside for a couple of minutes....

Today a friend of mine shared with me that J.B Jeyaretnam had passed away last night. He commented that he found it strange that this was NOT front page news. Instead, a piece of news that DID hit front page was regarding senior Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Balaji Sadasivan having surgery last Tuesday to remove a cancerous tumour in the colon.


I confess I don't know that much about Jeyaretnam. But for someone who is really not in-tune with the political scene (and I confess I am), I know more about him than I can say about certain ministers that are currently in office. One thing that was always clear to me was J.B Jeyaretnam was not very often on the "same page" as the party in power and for that, he was heavily,heavily penalized. Despite that fact, he never cowered but continued to fight for what he believed was for the good of the country.

This is a trait not found in many of us today.

C'mon admit it. Today, whether on a professional or personal level, at one time or another most of us will choose to turn our head the other way or keep quiet even though deep down we know that something is not right because we are told that it is the politically correct thing to do.

Why go looking for trouble? Therefore, even if something seems like the right thing to do, smells like the right thing to do, feels like the right thing to do and probably IS the right thing to do, it is not done because the path to get it done is so difficult and more often than not, it is such a thankless job.

Case in point.....At work, I've seen careers of really smart, dedicated, hardworking people being stone-walled because they had a different opinion with the higher ups and voiced those opinions one too many times. It didn't matter that in the end, it turned out that those people were right because by voicing their opinions, they were deemed as challenging authorities and had therefore, unwittingly signed their "death" papers of career stagnation for as long as they stayed in that company (or their boss stay in that company for that matter).

To add to that, I've also seen certain persons who are not as bright, not as dedicated and not as hardworking as others but lasted far longer than they should in a job simply because they were a "Yes" man to their boss.

Sure.....being a Yes-man would probably always be the safest path but in my mind, a "yes" man can never really become a leader or exact change. Never mind the fact that a "Yes" man will probably hold position of power simply because he is always saying the right words at the right times, never mind if it is not true or he doesn't really know what he is talking about.

Just sheep...baaaah.

But I digress...

After reading up on Jeyaretnam online, I found myself questioning a few stuff that I had always taken for granted or simply because I was just too ignorant.

I still love my country but loving it was so much easier by being ignorant....

But at the end of the day, I still won't walk the the path of ignorance....not by choice anyway.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Thoughts on melamine saga and HELLO hokkaido...

I'm sitting in front of the telly. CNN playing at the background. Thinking about what I should blog mind drawing a blank. Well, its not that there is nothing on my mind, in fact, there are so many things that I simply don't know where to start.... The past few weeks have proven to be pretty exciting (and I don't necessarily mean it in a good way). I'm still trying to get used to the idea that yes oh yes...the world is a pretty crazy place AND surprise surprise, this idea of craziness seems to know no boundaries.

Let's talk about the recent contamination of dairy-related foodstuff from China. This contamination has spread from milk powder to other related food stuff and it has impacted Taiwan in such a way that we simply don't know what is safe to eat anymore. The other day, I unwittingly caught myself going through the contents of every grocery that I was putting into my food basket. And before you think that I'm being paranoid, do know that the very next day when I was back in the supermarket, alot of foodstuff was already taken off the shelf for suspected melamine contamination. It sent a little shiver down my spine.

Anyway, I was talking to a couple of friends from China and despite my whining and complaints, deep down inside, I know that they are certainly the most impacted by this disgraceful matter. Out of curiousity, I asked them how the masses was reacting to this affair. Let's just say that I notice 2 major types of reaction.

Firstly, everyone agreed that this was a sordid matter and no one in the right frame of mind was going to consume large amount of dairy contents during this period and until this situation blows over. But that was just where the similarities ended.

I had pretty entertaining conversations with some friends who commented that the culprits should just be literally dragged out by the hair and shot. And on the other hand, there was also a group of "positive thinking people" who were just happy enough that this matter was no longer covered up and that active steps were taken to rectify the situation.

I admit that I was abit surprised about the "positive thinking-ness" in this and could not understand why they would be so contended with the situation. Being a very argumentive person (I admit! I admit!), I found myself challenging their view on this matter, not just for the sake of challenging but really hoping that I would finally be able to understand their views and gradually become a more "postive thinking" person.

To me, I would summarize my opinion as such:.....OK, the authorities are finally "right-ing the wrong", but damnit, its BLOODY HELL TIME THEY DID SOMETHING ABOUT IT!! After 2 months of cover up and 53,000 infants taken ill, am I suppose to be grateful that the authorities have decided to act on it AFTER this matter has blown up in everyone's face.

I admit that the idea of getting kidney stones because of some greedy corporate dude trying to boost up the nutrient level of watered down milk infuriates me. I think that there is no excuse for the people in the business to NOT KNOW the effect melamine has after consumption since we already had a simlar case in the past where people discovered that the reason many pets were dying unexpectedly was due to melamine poisioning which was also used to help "boost"' the nutrient percentage in animal foodstuff. Needless to say, I managed to get a couple of peace-loving people riled up after our conversation. Naughty naught me....:P

Anyway, I thought I would share something quite funny about the impact this has in the office. The office lady noticed a big drop in the number of people drinking coffee recently and she attributed it to the fact that most of us were not drinking because we were not certain that the creamer or milk provided was safe. I ,for one, get extremely grumphy if I don't get my coffee fix in the morning and apparently I'm not alone because the office decided that they had to send the materials to the health authorities to check for contamination.

The results came back certified as negative i.e. FREE of melamine content. Once this information was disseminated, the coffee addicts were back in the queue. People....typical. :P

On a more international front, with the financial troubles of Lehman brother's and AIG, I have had more than my fair share of concerned inquiries on whether I was very impacted since I also work in an insurance company. For the record, NO...I do not work in AIG AND fortunately, the company that I work for is apparently doing well, if not better *winks*, during this troubled times.

Last but not least, let me brag that I probably will not post another blog for at least 2 weeks BECAUSE I'm OFF to Hokkaido for a couple of days to celebrate my birthday and if I may unabashedly say...enjoy a well-deserved break from a helluva challenging time at work. (Just when you thought things can not get worse, the world always seem to prove you wrong).

Certain things just make you want to crawl under the covers and shut out the world. But hell, you already know by now, I'm just not the type to do that..... :P

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Relaxing Sunday.....

Aaaaah.....what a relaxing Sunday this is. The theme for today is:"Own Time, Own Target".

Today's blog is a little bit of those nostalgic moments I find myself getting into every once in a while. In other words, moments like these would mean quite a big deal to me and would probably mean absolutely nothing to you so read on if you will.

Just the other day, I was getting my usual cup of coffee in the mid afternoon. As I was waiting for the "chink-ing and chank-ing" of the coffee machine arduously preparing my cup of coffee, I decided to keep myself busy by amusing myself with a little mental calculation on some expenses that I was so engrossed in a couple of moments earlier.

Out of the blue, my multi-tasking and rather distracted mind popped a bubble in my head which had that sort of Window's yellow exclamation mark "warning" sign reminding myself that too much coffee is bad for the health and I had better drink at least 3 cups of water later to cleanse my system. I had not had a single glass of water for the whole day. *gulp*

In that unprepared moment, a flashback........I was back in the days when I had my first office intership. Back in those days, getting a desk job was clearly the fastest way to earn cash and my friend and I agreed to sign our vacation away.

On my first day in the office, I still remember my schoolmate's excited reaction when she first discovered the office pantry. She was posted to another department and due to her close proximity to everything else, always found the coolest stuff first. I admit I totally relied on her to squeeze out any fun there was in that rather *erhem* professional, serious and dead-boring environment or I would have perished.

She introduced me to the staff vending machine which provided an assortment of hot and cold drinks at absolutely no charge to the staff. Kewllll man!!! (Little things that made us so happy!!!) Giggling like two ali-baba's drunk on rum, we proceeded to get ourselves large glasses of coke and this fizzy happiness lasted throughout our internship. It also became our daily routine every morning and afternoon for the rest of the days that we were there.

Towards the end of my internship, as I was marching back to my desk from the office pantry, I remember my colleague (the very motherly sort but in a man's body) looking up from his desk and reminding me once again that I should drink more water and that too much soft drinks was not good for the body. He went on to say that only interns would frequent those drink selections at the vending machine while the older and wiser would drink.....he held up his big water tumbler of H2O. "Humbug.." I remember thinking to myself and paid no attention to his words of advice.

Amazingly, with what little attention I heeded back then, this became the "picture perfect" moment stuck to my head almost 15 years later as I was getting my cup of coffee. Its funny how memories like these just get retrieved at such unexpected moments.

In that moment, I found myself silently thanking all the people and experiences that I've had along the way and I found myself walking back to my office smiling with a cup of coffee in one hand and a large glass of H20 in the other.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Singapore's rights subpar, says IBA

Recently, there has been alot of coverage in terms of China's poor record in human rights especially with regards to Tibet. Anyone following the Olympic fire would be aware of the huge amount of protests going on.

Before we step up and point the finger at China, do note that according to International Bar Association's Human Rights Institute (IBA), they have reported that despite Singapore's impressive economic development that Singapore fails to meet international standards for political and human rights and there are concerns on the independence of its judiciary. The rights institute also issued 18 recommendations for the Singapore govt to implement urgently. For more information on this article, please refer to:

To find out more that Singaporeans have to say this, check this out:

Rant and Rave for the Day: Bush blames Dems for Oil Prices

In the Taipei Times today, "Bush blames Dems for Oil Prices".

According to US President George W. Bush on Saturday, he tried to pin the blame on Congress for soaring energy prices and said that lawmakers need to lift long-standing restrictions on drilling for oil in pristine lands and off-shore tracts believed to hold huge reserves of fuel. With gasoline prices rising, Bush and his republican allies think Americans are more willing to allow drilling offshore and in an Alaska wildlife refuge that environmetalists have fought successfully for decades to protect.

In response, the Democrats representative Chris Van Hollen said that democrats do indeed support the idea of increased drilling however he also pointed out the fact that oil companies are already sitting on 68 million acres of federal lands with the potential to double US oil production. So the question is....why explore new restricted areas (i.e. beaches, coastal areas and so on) where the companies can develop these resources today. He suggested a "Use it or Lose It" legislation requiring companies to do so or lose their leases to someone else who will.

In addition, the Democrats believe that due to the urgent shortage of oil, the time has come to tap on the nation's Strategic Petroleum Reserve. However, he also stressed that the country should also focus on new energy policies that focus on alternatives to oil.

Recently, whenever I read these articles, I find myself cursing silently at the current Bush administration. It doesn't really concern me directly and I am no American. Consider me a concerned citizen of the world or a KPO (busy body)....whatever, I don't care.

Before you get me wrong, I do believe that America has paved the way for many good things and there are a lot of areas that other countries and cultures will do good to learn from. That's just my personal opinion but then again I state, over the past few years under the helm of Bush, its jsut gone sooooooooo baddddd.

Most irritiating is Bush's statements (infamous soundbites) that really irks the hell out of me:
1) Their blatant refusal to commit to the Kyoto protocol such as :"This is the American position because its right for America. We will not do anything that harms our economy, because first things first are the people who live in America"
2) The address to joint session of congress and the American people on the war against terrorism: "Every nation, in every region, now has a decision to make. Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists."
3) Recent comment with regards to oil prices: "Every extra dollar that American families spend because of high gas prices is one less dollar that they can use to put food on the table or send a child to college. The American people deserve better". (J: Yeah, and like the rest of the world don't?)

There is an article I would like to share regarding USA's position on the Kyoto Protocol in 2001 that I believe will not fail to get you riled up too. :P

Side note: If you have read my previous post regarding Nuclear Weapons, you would also recall USA non compliance with the First Pillar - Non Proliferation of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and their constant finger pointing at other nations.

The good news is during the recent G8 meeting, it appears that the powerful nations with particular reference to USA, have decided to commit to work harder in terms of controlling pollution but they did not commit a base year to their ambitious plans of a 50% reduction of greenhouse gases. While it remains to be seen if G8's action can be louder than words, I really cannot wait for someone less myopic to take over the USA reins. Yes, I've said it....myopic.

Bush will leave office next January, and both major candidates to succeed him have said they are willing to go further in cutting back American emissions. Goodbye Bush, as far as I'm concerned, the door is wide open for you and I doubt many people will be reaching for that Kleenex.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Getting some discipline back into my life

Time sure flies...its been weeks since my last blog.

Plenty of things have happened over the last few weeks. Some good...others bad. Unfortunately, I have to say that this month more nasty things have happened compared to good ones. As such, I unwittingly found myself spiraling down a bottomless "motivation-sucker" hell hole.

After mopping around over the past few days, I did some soul-searching and decided to do myself a favour and just pull myself out of the rut and get my act together. I figured life still has to go on even though we sometimes find ourselves in a particularly long stretch of bumpy road. *sigh* Is there no justice in this world?

ANYWAY, for starters, I decided to embark on some major "spring-cleaning". Packed up my winter clothes, folded my summer clothes neatly in the cupboards, went through my inventory of toiletary supplies, food stuff and so on. (Threw out the expired stuff so I don't accidentally poison myself in my gloomy state. )

I am happy to share that today I woke up earlier than usual and headed over to Carrefour. This is because last night I decided that today would be curry day so I had to go and buy the ingredients. After chopping, frying, boiling, stewing, steaming, washing, I had a hearty meal, watched a little telly, played on my xbox and chilled out with some "alone-time".

In the evening, I headed over to yoga lessons and my yoga teacher insisted everyone push themselves to the limit. It was a tough session and though I worked really hard at it, I found myself not being able to balance very well on one foot. :P

Right now, my muscles ache a little but seriously I feel really fantastic after the session! I know I have to keep working on my yoga because I absolutely have to get myself back into shape especially since I gained weight in Bangkok. *Fingers crossed*

I'm lying in bed now and it sure feels good when everything feels like it is in order. Another work-week starts tomorrow so deep breathe and chin up!!!!

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Back in Taipei..another prisonbreak article

Returned to Taipei yesterday evening and am back in my little shoebox apartment after a fruitful day at work. After having spent 2 weeks in Singapore, there is little doubt that I have tons of work to catch up on and was kept so busy that when I finally caught a breather, it was already 8pm and my colleagues had all left the office. Well, not that I'm complaining, I would rather be busy than bored out of my wits at work (Bro, I'm sure you agree with me after your intern-"shit" experience :) ).

Needless to say, I'm often tasked with the duty to lock up the office since I'm always the last one out. I do it so consistently that I personally feel that 20% of my performance evaluation should be office security and lock-up. Hehe. :P

Talking about lock-up or break-outs for that matter. During dinner today, I was happily reading my latest copy of newsweek and on page 24, sandwiched between articles of the Sichuan earthquake and terrorist bombings in New Dehli, is an article covering Singapore entitled:"Gone in 11 Minutes Flat".

With all the nasty news going on in the world today, its very rare to see Singapore pop up in an article under the World Affairs section. But OH YES, there it was on page 24 of the May26/June 2 2008 special double issue. I sat up to read more and as suspected it was regarding the escape of Mas Selamat Kastari - reputed head of the Singapore cell of Jemaah Islamiah (JI is a notorious Southeast Asian terrorist group linked to Al Qaeda. )

In late Feb, Mas Selamat had broken out of a detention facility and became Singapore's most wanted man. As a Singaporean, I admit that I was initially in disbelief and frankly a little traumatised when I first heard the news on the escape. As a MAJOR Prisonbreak fan (Fox Series)....suddenly, prisonbreak held a total different meaning for me. (Hint: Compare Wentworth Miller versus Mas Selamat's picture...I'm sure you will understand)

Interpol - Mas Selamat Kastari

Prisonbreak - Wentworth Miller

Anyway, the article goes on to describe that "the episode is revealing shortcomings in Singapore's nanny state.....Singapore does an excellent job mobilizing its resources and directing them at recognized problems. But there are few external or independent checks on the system - and this lack of scrutiny, combined with the government's generally successful record, has produced blind spots. Past circumstances have made it easy to become smug. But this smugness has proved dangerous."

I didn't know whether to laugh or cry when I read this - "when the guards started to wonder why Mas Selamat was taking so long in the toilet, rather than act immediately, they went to their superiors for permission to open the bathroom stall door".

For me, the moment of truth was in the later part of the article describing the actions taken after the fact. As follows - "the authorities took five days to tell the public what the terrorist was wearing at the time of his escape. And only a few days after that did they bother to inform citizens that the fugitive also limps on his left leg. "

I love my country but I think this is a good wake up call for us all.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Chinese Eye Test

I'm supposed to be doing some work now (a report actually) which needs to be submitted early next week on Monday. However, I'm not being very efficient at the moment because I'm suffering symptoms of brain slowing down to a crawl. All I feel like doing is to go to bed early but I can't because I haven't finished my work.

Next Tuesday I'll be heading back to Taipei *boohoo*. Not that I don't like Taipei but it just seems that this 2 weeks back in Singapore has gone by so quickly. Despite all my efforts, I still did not get a chance to meet up with all the people that I've been meaning to meet.... Simply ran out of time and energy. Bahhhh!!!

On a lighter note, I thought this "Chinese Eye Test" was too brilliant not to share....

Hint: If you can't make out the words, try pulling the corner of your eyes outwards so it becomes all squinty. :)

Saturday, May 24, 2008

A successful drive down to Kuala Lumpur. :)

Took a 3 day trip down to Kuala Lumpur as I needed to close the bank account for the Damansara apartment. Went down with 3 friends in my Honda Edix. It was my first trip (and my car too) driving down to KL, and as you can imagine, I was pretty excited and after hearing so many horror stories about robberies in JB, frankly a little apprehensive about it too!

I picked up my friends on Monday morning and we headed down to the Tuas Second Link. Although it was Vesak Day, the traffic was relatively smooth and customs at both the Singapore and Malaysia side had several counters opened to meet the needs of the SIN- MALAYSIA travellers. It was basically a drive-through affair although we had to come out of the car once at the Tuas Checkpoint to get a thumb scan. For the higher purpose of tighter security, I thought it was quite understandable and hardly an inconvenience as it was so efficiently carried out. :)

In particular, I noted that Malaysia has done away with that annoying white immigration card that we had to fill in the past. Kudos to that!! I thought the white card was quite a pain especially since we had to keep one small part to show when we leave the country. As it was a loose piece of paper and thus relatively easy to lose, I’ve had a bad experience once of losing it (careless me) and was not-so-gently prompted by the custom officer in Malaysia to “help him out” so that he can “help me out”. Being a poor student at that time, I had to part with RM 50 dollars and would have parted with more (as I was pretty much scared shitless at that time) except that I did not have that much money with me at that time. Grrr!!! Try to make me part with my money like that again……just TRY ME!!! *takes out the punching gloves*

Anyway, I found the North South Expressway in Malaysia of good quality and well labeled. In fact, it was such a straight-forward drive, I didn’t even have to refer to the map once. The speed limit on the highway was 110km per hour and K.Ling told me that if I stick below 123km per hour, I would be OK. There were the occassional cars that were speeding around the vicinity of 140-160 km per hour and I found that if you kept out of their way, it was a basically a pleasant drive.

There were 3 toll stations along the highway and they had 3 different types of lanes depending on the payment mode: Lorong Tunai (for cash), Touch and Go(pre-paid card) and Smart Tag (that works like our erp service in Singapore with cash card services and machine and all). We spent approximately RM 70 on a one way trip. Along a stretch of 330km (between Singapore and KL), I found that pretty acceptable.

We took a break for lunch at Malacca at a famous chicken rice restaurant which was famous for their rice BALLS. (literally rice that were rolled up in small balls). It was interesting but I preferred the traditional pandan flavored chicken rice though.

Anyway, a typically 4-5 hours drive was covered in about 3 hours 30 minutes (it was easy to exceed the speed limit as the roads were clear and the roads in good repair) and with such a successful trip, I’m looking forward to another trip to Malaysia soon!

Note: The visit to the bank and developer went smoothly. It was a nice surprise since we had quite a lot of problems with them in the past but I guess after months of harassing them, they probably decided that they had enough of me and ensured everything would be sorted out before my trip down. Hooray!! A weight off my chest. :) *clap clap clap*

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Home Sweet Home.......Bliss

YOOOHOOO...............I'M HOME!!!

I've only been away for 3 months but I admit its nice to be back home. Back in my own room, in my own bed, familiar surroundings and among people that I love and adore. Not to mention the "royal" treatment I get from my mom with home cooked food, ginseng soup, liang-cha and the list goes on. :)

It was real nice to wake up this morning to my mum nagging at me to come down for breakfast and having a sumptious spread on the table when I finally did. All this as compared to starving in Taipei on the weekends because I'm just too lazy to get up and cook and clean. I probably gained 2 kg in my first day home. Hehe.

This trip home is part work part leisure. Although I've got tons of things to do in the office but I've decided to let myself totally relax this weekend. For starters, I'm catching up on my comic book reading. Thank god for a brother to provide an ongoing supply......

I'm re-reading The league of Extraordinary Gentlemen Volume I. Its such a great read! Volume II is also sitting on my table.

Some quotes I enjoy from LTEG: -

Quote from the Editor: "..let us not forget the many serious, morally instructive points there are within this narrative: firstly, women are always going on and making a fuss. Secondly, the Chinese are brilliant, but evil. Lastly, laudanum, taken in moderation is good for the eyesight and prevents kidney stones...."

Quote from Campion:" We live in troubled times where fretful dreams settle upon the empire's brow. If England is to survive them, then your work is vital. Be about it vigorously and without delay, for the shadows of the century grow long...."

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Overcoming my fear on the topic of Investing and the exam screw up

For the past few weekends, I have been locked up in my apartment cramming for my next 2 LOMA papers related to Investing. Four textbooks “impressively” covering various aspects of:
1) Investment for the Individual
2) Investment for Organization
3) Financial Institution & Financial Markets
4) Economics.

This time round I admit that I’ve left my studying to the last possible minute. Each time I tried to open my books, I always found something else much more interesting or important to do. :) By the time I decided that it was time to get SERIOUS, I was nearing a state of panic, constantly checking the calender and counting down to what I would affectionately know as “doomsday”.

I’ve never been knowledgeable about the variety of financial instruments or markets out there. And I totally admit that when it comes to Investing, I can be quite the ranking idiot. The first few chapters was an uncomfortable start for me.

Fortunately, after “hanging in there for a while longer”, I soon found myself getting to know and making fast friends with my 3 buddies: DJIA, S&P 500, Wilshire 5000. Of course, I admit that before you can get to the really fun part of investing, you need to slog through the hours of calculating Present Value versus Future Value, Compounding on Annual or Semi Annual Basis, Yield to Call or Yield to Maturity for Bonds, Leverage/Activity Ratios, Profitability Ratios and so on. Using Capital Asset Pricing Model (CAPM) to determine the risk and expected return for stocks can also take its toil on you. But trust me, once you get over the tough part, it slowly gets more interesting.

Today, indexes/market averages no longer scare me as much as they used to. Also, you won’t find my eyes glaze over during the investment meetings discussing stock splits, NAV, ETFs, Money Market Funds, Closed/Open Funds and so on. Another plus point is that I can also better understand the Financial Section of the newspapers and headlines such as “Bonds Rally After 3 Days Slump” no longer baffles me.

To be honest, after having put in time and effort to finish the textbooks, I’ve been kinda looking forward to taking the papers and getting over and done with it. My first paper was set for today and the night before, I had survived only 2 hours of sleep trying to juggle between work and last minute revisions. The good news is that I finished my revision as I watched the sun rise on another beautiful day, the bad news is that I won’t be taking my papers this week after all.

Just minutes before the scheduled time for the paper, I was "cordially" informed that there had been a screw up and my name were not registered for both papers. *Dumbfounded* My colleague tried to cheer me up by saying:" Look at the bright side, you'll have more time to work on getting a better grade".

Erm...Thanks but no thanks! W@#$!#$%@# :(

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

What about that..............*Grumbles*

For the past few weeks, I have been locked up in my apartment cramming. 2 papers...4 textbooks: Investing for the Individual, Investing for Organizations, Financial Institution & Financial Markets, Economics. That's just me.....always leaving it to the very last minute until panic sets in before I sit myself at the desk to hit the books for some serious intense cramming.

Lost in a world of financial instruments, market averages and indexes became my best friends: Hello Dow Jones Industrial Average, S&P 500, Wilshire 5000 - How are you doing today?! Feeling bearish...feeling bullish? When I was finally done with my reading, I was introduced to a whole new world of Present Value Future Value, Compounding, Bond Yield, Leverage/Activity Ratios, Profitabiliy, Capital Asset Pricing Model and the list goes on.

Finally the big week arrives. My first paper is on the 13th. I can't wait to get it over and done with!!

Yesterday night, I finally finshed up on work at 1am before I could start with my final round of revision. After bars of chocolate and cups of coffee (plus ice cream and an apple), I finally closed my textbook as I watched the sun rise at 5am. Well, that's all I could have done...I'm all ready to take my exams, come what may....

After 2 hours of sleep, I woke up and almost drowned myself in the shower before I could get out of a zombie state and decent enough to go to work. I still had 2 conference calls to get through before my paper at 1pm and my "moment of truth".

In the midst of the morning, I innocently asked my colleague "Hey...where is the exam held later on?" She takes a look at me and replied "In the training center" and then hurries off. Hmm...did I see her shoot me a funny look? Nah..I just shrugged it off.

A while later she comes up to me and she cautiously starts with: "Jamie, I've got something that I want to tell you." She still has that look on her face and by now I'm sure that I don't like it. She explains that there has been some screw up and that one of our colleagues had not registered me for the paper!!!!

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Cobweb infested blog space and reminiscing some really good musical productions.

Okay, I've been receiving quite a bit of "complaints" that I've been neglecting my blogging responsibility and now the site is overrun with cobwebs and weeds. :) Bear with me, I am in the midst of sorting out my priorities and will work on getting that blog-engine up and running again soon.

So the big question....what have I been up to recently?

Well, I've been working (definitely working), studying (sort of half- hearted studying at best but more procrastination than anything), spending alot of time on my guitar, travelling around Taiwan whenever I got the chance, watching telly during dinners.

What really bugs me about telly nowadays is the quality of some of the shows that they screen. Yup, I'm talking about those really cheap productions that simply take up air time with totally predictable scripts, accompanied by really lousy acting and that fit into a certain....I don't know...mold....

Picture macho man with bandannas crawling in the jungle with their rambo guns or perhaps picture screaming fainting ladies that can bring themselves to say the darndiest things! I tell you that there are really A LOT on telly nowadays. Sometimes I just sit there dumbfolded and let my brain totally rot away.

What I really miss are those good wholesome muscials that I used to grow up watching. Such as "Singing in the Rain", "Fiddler on the Roof", "The Sound of Music" and so on. In fact, I think as a kid, I watch so many re-runs of the musicals that I could sing them by heart at a very very young age. In fact, I don't remember watching much cartoons or Sesame Street, I don't remember liking them very much.

One of the more memorable muscials that I enjoyed is the "The King and I". It really was very very good and I loved it so much that at one point in time I wanted to move to Thailand and grow that little bun on my head. Unfortunately, as I grew older, I soon realized that I would never grow that bun on my head or sit on elephants all day long. Alas......*heart breaks one more time*

ANYWAY, I was talking to my Thai friend about this musical some time back and he told me that this musical is banned in Thailand. Apparently any production related to the monarchy is banned. HORRORS!! I think its a pity.....I thought it was a great production that put Thailand in a very good and charming light. I wanted to become THAI for crying out loud! Hehe.

So, I'm looking for a copy of this musical. Do you know where to find it? Do let me know.

Here is a little snippet: -Getting to know you by Julie Andrews.

I'm a oldie at heart...Everly Brothers

All I have to Do is Dream and Cathy's Clown by Everly Brothers
2 great great songs.....Just love it.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

蘇打綠 小情歌 - Great Song

Heard this and liked it instantly! There was a great debate on You Tube on whether the lead singer is a guy or girl. Go Figure!! :)

Anyway, its a great song and I'll definitely go buy their CD. The unpirated version of course, support talented artists!!

The band name is 蘇打綠 - literal translation: Soda Green.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Merry Christmas!! Happy New Year!!


Okay, I know I'm a little late but at least I made it in time for the first day of the year.
(I.e. If I manage to get this posted out before the clock strikes 12. :) )

Anyway, my sister has put together 2 christmas "cards" and if you are ready for a good laugh., please follow the links below....HOHOHO!