My twin nephews taught me that...

(1) ... a slight change in environment may yield different results than previously.

(2) ... even adults have to say "please" if want things done faster/correctly.

(3) ... it is better to push the boundaries gradually rather than suddenly.

(4) ... clear and consistent words with actions work better than otherwise.

(5) ... actions have consequences.

(6) ... sometimes we just need hugs.

Australia: Canberra first day

I'm guessing that most people would have wanted to rest after travelling from Singapore at 8pm and reaching Canberra the next morning at 9am with only half an hour of sleep. I didn't. Firstly, I wasn't exhausted. Secondly, I figured it's best to try to adjust to local time as soon as possible, which means sleeping only at night. I supposed taking nap in the afternoon is ok but definitely not in the morning.

However, we (my sis, her hubby and the twins) went back to my sis's place mainly to dump my stuff and also to let the twins have some healthy snacks. They are so adorable lah! Although they are well trained by my sis and her hubby (with no physical punishment involved), they of course still exhibit typical behaviour of toddlers around the age fo 2 e.g. saying "no" regularly and trying to exert independence by not holding hands at times (but after awhile, they'll want to hold hands again).

As I'm keen to get hold scout around and get hold of a prepay sim card (so that I can still communicate with Mr Skanky ;-) ), we went to Belconnen Mall. I've looked at 3 different providers (there were two more that I didn't enquire) and I've settled on Vodafone AUD20 plan for 2 months, with sim card expiring 6 months after last top up. Amazingly the sms charge rate is the same for local and international i.s. AUD0.25. However, this is way more expensive than similar prepay plan in Singapore. Same goes for other type of plan which is also found in Singapore. According to my sis's hubby, Australia has one of the most expensive mobile phone plans but the flipside is that the handsets are cheaper, apparently.

We had lunch at the mall's foodcourt, which is nothing fantastic. There appears to be more sandwich/wrap stalls compared to the last time I was here in 2005. The best food, by appearance anyway, seems to be the large sushi set by a Jap stall but I thought I should try out something more Australian, especially one that cannot be found in Singapore. Hence this:

Oporto

It's quite bland. I was told that usually people have it with their special chilli sauce, which I don't take. Oh well.

Later in the late afternoon, we went to a playground nearby to let the kids play:

Flowers on the way to playground

Flowers on the way to the playground

Nearby playground

At the playground itself

Apparently, besides the fact that it's good to let the kids play for their development, it is also a trick to get them exhausted so that they'll sleep on time and sleep well hehe. So we adults then get to do other stuff quicker and also to play Heroes 5! :-)

Australia: The domestic journey

I was so focused on other things and the fact that I only slept for half an hour in the plane (tail-bone was sore, apparently because seat is not for small person like me) that I forgot to take any pictures at the Sydney's international terminal. Oh well. So I started with taking picture of the Qantas bus shuttle from the terminal to the domestic terminal:

Qantas bus transfer

It's free specially for Qantas passengers. Virgin Blue has its own shuttle too. All other passengers use the "T bus", which I've forgotten whether it's free or not.

The bus is comfortable. Only issue I have is its frequency: it's mostly at 20 minutes interval. I sure hope I can catch on in time on the way back because my domestic flight reaches Sydney at 4.50pm and the international flight is at 5.50pm!

Boarding gate to Canberra

The boarding gate, Gate 16, is the furthest away from where the bus arrived! By the time I reached the gate, it was already 7.50am, which was the time for departure! Fortunately there were significant number of stragglers. If this was SIA, there was no way we all could have boarded since SIA is so punctual at closing gate at 10 minutes before departure time.

Landed at Canberra

Yes, I've landed at Canberra airport (which does not have international terminal) at just past 9am local time. The screen looks a bit gimpy and as you can see, it could not fit everything in. Maybe this is just a temporary screen as the airport appears to be undergoing some sort of renovations.

My journey from Singapore to Canberra via Sydney took slightly more than 10 hours. The bad part about it is that it is a night flight. Imagine you get on the plane at 8pm Singapore time. About 9.30pm they served dinner. Now, that's 12.30am Sydney time. Then less than 5 hours later i.e. 5am Sydney time, it's time for breakfast! It's best to take the morning flight, whereas the way back, there is no such problem.

However, to maximise my stay in Canberra, and due to lack of leaves (been squandering here and there hehe), I've taken the night flight.

PS: Been having rather lucid dreams for more than a week. In fact, just 2 nights ago, I had 3 different dreams (or scenarios) within the same sleep but with a friend all appearing in all 3 of them. Weird.

Australia: Prologue

"It's all coming back to my now!"

I totally forgot how hard it is to get out of bed in the morning when it's cold and I'm all so warmed up under the comforter :-) Also, for some odd reasons, after catching up on news, blogs and other stuff, I was again so tired I sleep at past 12 noon and woke up only at past 2pm! I'm feeling tired again right now, which is just 1.5 hours after my lunch. Gah.

I'm beginning to suspect it's due to lack of exercise. Think I better go out for a walk outside shortly after this. Some fresh air should be good for me.

Exercise

Statistics = Bikini?


Statistics are like bikini: what they reveal is suggestive; what they hide
is vital


- I forgot who said this

A duck-warming story

Just another proof that animals are smarter than some moronic people I know.

Original source

Mother duck's 'bird brain' saves ducklings

She grabs police officer by pant leg to lead him to her brood trapped under grate
Nicholas Read Vancouver Sun


Don't mention "bird brains" to Ray Petersen, because after what happened this week, he won't hear a word of it.


Petersen, a community police officer for Granville Downtown South, was walking in the 1500-block Granville Street (directly under the Granville Bridge) Wednesday morning when a duck came up and grabbed him by the pant leg. Then it started waddling around him and quacking.


"I thought it was a bit goofy, so I shoved it away," Petersen said in an interview.


But the duck, a female (he thinks it was a mallard), wasn't about to give up that easily. Making sure she still had Petersen's eye, she waddled up the road about 20 metres and lay on a storm sewer grate.


Petersen watched and thought nothing of it.


"But when I started walking again, she did the same thing. She ran around and grabbed me again."


It became obvious to him then that something was up.


So when she waddled off to the sewer grate a second time, Petersen decided to follow.


"I went up to where the duck was lying and saw eight little babies in the water below. They had fallen down between the grates."


So Petersen took action. He phoned police Sergeant Randy Kellens, who arrived at the scene and, in turn, got in touch with two more constables.


"When they came down, the duck ran around them as well, quacking. Then she lay down on the grate," Petersen said.


While Kellens looked over into the grate, the duck sat on the curb and watched.


Then the two constables, John Schilling and Allison Hill, marshalled a tow truck that lifted the grate out of position, allowing the eight ducklings to be rescued one by one with a vegetable strainer.


"While we were doing this, the mother duck just lay there and watched," Petersen says.


Once the ducklings were safe, however, she set about marching them down to False Creek, where they jumped into the water.


Kellens followed them to make sure they were all right, but elected to remain on shore.


The experience has changed Petersen's mind about ducks. He thinks they're a lot smarter than he used to.


And while he never ate duck before, he says he wouldn't dream of it now.

Fly me to Down Under


qantas, originally uploaded by cronus.
This Friday night, I'll be flying to Australia to visit my sister, her hubby and her adorable twin sons. I'll be there for two weeks. Oh yeah!!!

It has been a year since I last saw them and it is my objective to do that each year. I've also chosen mid-spring as the time to visit as spring is my favourite season. Weather is mild. Cool, not cold. Just enough warmth. Flowers all around.

But this time, it'll be a bit different because of my nephews. My sis has cautioned me that there's likely no time to play board games (oh man) as they don't even have time to sit! So it's probably either activities that all of us can participate or I'll have to do it alone.

I'm thinking of paying a visit to the National Museum as the last time, it was a rush and I didn't get to look at all the things inside (everyone else was sitting around waiting for me hehe). I may also visit Floriade: the Flower Festival, where there are gazillion flowers of different type specially transplanted to an area. I doubt the entry fee remains at AUD10 though.

Here's hoping for a smooth, happy and enjoyable vacation!

Better?

For past readers, you would have noticed (as otherwise it may be time to pay a visit to your doctor) that I have changed the layout of the blog. The main motivation is to enable me to blog larger Flikr picture (in previous layout, this contraint resulted in this tiny picture), to embed comfortably Youtube videos (in previous layout, this video was touching the margin) and to insert larger version of my own Flikr photos, if I wish.

I spent hours browsing the web for something suitable and finally settled on this. It seems that this has a few drawbacks too but nothing noticeable to readers and not significant enough to bother me.

I would dearly love to hear your opinion. Unfortunately, on hindsight, I should have taken a screenshot of the old layout so that more readers can comment and hence only those who have seen the old layout would be able to comment. Please let me know which looks/feels better. Thanks!

Magazine addict

FSM


Rick: Oooh it's finally here

Me: Huh? Why? You're distressed by the current financial turmoil and would like to seek advice, is it?

Rick: No ar.

Me: Then why so excited?

Rick: Been long time since I received magazines

Me: *Laugh* What? You are suffering from...err...err...

Rick: Ya, ya. Withdrawal symptom.

Me: *Laugh louder* Boy, I'll have to blog this.

Rick: Don't be crazy lah.

Me: Why? There's something wrong with it, is it? Can't be seen in public?

Rick: Errr...no ar.

Me: *Snigger*

Can't You See

For those who couldn't resist falling for someone you know you shouldn't. Goodness knows I have.




You took me wrong just because we kissed
And now I don't know how to say goodbye
I know it's wrong when you're holding me like this
Still won't you stay, let me love you for awhile
You know I'm not that strong when I see you smile

Can't you see
This is all a big mistake
I should try and walk away
But I need someone to hold me
And I know there's no way that this can last
Still I know that if you ask me to
I know I would stay
Tonight, just for tonight

You look at me and you don't understand
You know I'm not the one that could feel your dreams
I can't believe that this is how I am
Still won't you stay, let me love you for awhile
You know I'm not that strong when I see you smile

Can't you see
This is all a big mistake
I should try and walk away
But I need someone to hold me
And I know there's no way that this can last
Still I know that if you ask me to
I know I would stay
Tonight

I love the way you watch me
I love you the way we move
But in my heart I know
I'll never be in love with you
Can't you see

Can't you see
This is all a big mistake
I should try and walk away
But I need someone to hold me
And I know there's no way that this can last
Still I know that if you ask me to
I know I would stay
Tonight, just for tonight

Insulted


Shakespeare Insult
Originally uploaded by
dramamath


(To see the highlighted text in the picture, click here)

Remember my post about a colleague's resignation? Boy, how I wished it is truly his funeral.

Close to lunch time today, a colleague asked whether I have any lunch appointment, of which I didn't. I didn't perceive anything unusual about that since it is usual that if she is free for lunch, she would normally ask around. As expected, she did. The colleague who resigned ("the resignee") also joined in.

Earlier on, it was revealed that the resignee is having trouble with HR about leaving on the date he wants, which is mid-next week. However, there was already talk on Monday of having farewell lunch for him.

So off we went for lunch at a restaurant. There was even joke that this colleague was paying for lunch since he should have a nice increment moving over to the new job.

It was another colleague who paid for lunch first. So naturally, someone wanted to know how much his share is. I took a look at the receipt and used my handphone to calculate, dividing the total bill by the number of people who attended the lunch.

Later in office, the resignee sent e-mail to all of us thanking us for the lunch although he did not know why he was asked to pay for his farewell lunch especially since he treated us dessert and said something about being disgusted at the person who caused this.

I was livid! Firstly, I didn't know it was supposed to be a farewell lunch. Secondly, I was planning to have the farewell lunch next week instead, which is closer to his intended last day. Thirdly, it's juvenile to think that we should treat him lunch simply because he treated us dessert. Lastly, there is absolutely no obligation on any of us to treat him lunch.

Later, after I told him that I didn't know about the supposed farewell lunch (and added more, without shouting (thank goodness) to indicate how insulted I feel), he half-heartedly apologised. In an e-mail sent only to me, he again tried to imply that I knew all along but stated that if I did not, it was alright since he has apologised.

That was definitely not a sincere apology. Oh well, I give up. What made me really upset is the fact that I was upset. That it mattered to me. Although in my opinion, he is not good at work (disorganised, afraid to try, does not take initiative) but he is quite a nice person and I was hoping he'll keep in contact. Not any more.

However, in keeping with my word, I'm still organising a farewell lunch for him next week since my manager will be back in office then and it's going to be a joint farewell lunch for another colleague whose last day is this Friday.

Any spare coffin around?

Double Trouble

This is for you, sis :-)


THE TERRIBLE TWOS

Do the “terrible twos” really have to be so terrible? Just ask any two-year-old. The answer will most assuredly be “no”.

If there is one word that characterises the period between 15 and 24 months of age, it is “no”. “No,” he doesn’t want to eat his cereal. “No,” she doesn’t want to have a
bath. And – you can be sure – “No,” he doesn’t want to go to bed anytime at all.

Perhaps the most frustrating aspect of the“terrible twos” is the tendency kids have to spill things, eat horrible things, fall off things, flush things, and to get into things (our son Ryan used to blow bubbles in the dog’s water dish, which horrified his mother).

The picture sounds bleak. And admittedly there are moments when a toddler can wreak havoc on a home. However, even with all the struggles, there’s no more thrilling time of life than this period of dynamic blossoming and budding
independence.

And it passes by all too quickly. There are many parents of older children today who would give all that they own to relive those bubbly days with their toddlers.

So, to the harassed mum out there who has just about had it with motherhood, I
hope you’ll hang in there. Some day you, too, will look back on these experiences
with the warmest of memories.


- Dr James Dobson


Updated: Respecting my sis's wish, I've taken out my twin nephews photo.

Four Funerals & No Wedding


Quit?
Originally uploaded by
-hbm-

Yet another colleague quit earlier today. His "funeral" (i.e. last day) is sometime next week. That'll make 4 funerals since the beginning of the year.

Before this, a few of us have indicated to our boss the need to hire to replace the 3 who have left. I would have been contented if we can even get 2, especially in this environment where actuarial people are poached left, right, centre and sometimes even below the belt ;-)

Our boss has just recently broached the idea once again with our top boss, sitting at our largest office, situated outside singapore, but instead, she suggested that should we need help, we can ask the largest office to lend a hand.

Huh? Excuse me? Since when that office can help us during our peak period? They are even busier than us so much so that almost every year they have asked us for help! That's a ridiculous idea.

So hopefully with this latest funeral, at least a "wedding" (i.e. hiring) will be permitted very soon.


This is on top of another relatively mild bad news that shortens my planned trip home at the end of the year. Gah. Yours truly drowned in sorrow with a trip to Wahiro and taking taxi home from there hehe.

Three of a kind

Actuary

There are 3 kinds of actuaries: one who can count and one who cannot count.

Humour in financial dark times

"Following the problems in the financial services sector in both the UK and the USA, uncertainty has now hit Japan.



In the past 48 hours, Origami Bank has folded, Sumo Bank has gone belly up and Bonsai Bank announced plans to cut some of its branches.



Yesterday, it was announced that Karaoke Bank is up for sale and will likely go for a song, while today shares in Kamikaze Bank were suspended after they nose-dived



While Samurai Bank is soldiering on following sharp cutbacks, Ninja Bank is reported to have taken a hit, but they remain in the black.



Furthermore, 500 staff at Karate Bank got the chop and analysts report that there is something fishy going on at Sushi Bank where it is feared that staff may get a raw deal."



- Anonymous

First pictures: Naruto Shippuden

I have so far collected 21 figurines prior to Sunday, not counting the 6 Transformers in my display cabinet. My Naruto collection can be found here while the best quality figurines I have are these.

People who know me might be surprised that I do not have more since I love a number of Japanese anime. However, I only buy if they look interesting to me and it is nicely done (hmmm sounds like food). This is regardless of whether I like the character or not. I would dearly love to add more figurines of quality similar to the Inuysha collection. Now, those are expensive (and I bought them at a discount). Perhaps it's time to pay the Marina Square shop once again.

I have recently bought more. However, unfortunately due to having my camphone as the only digital cam I have, close up shots of these small figurines did not turn up well. So I've taken shots with their respective boxes.

Actually, I've intended to buy only Sai and Sasori figurines:

Sai

Sasori

But they are sold as a set together with 3 others. I didn't mind Sasuke and Deidera figurines:

Sasuke

Deidera

The one that looks ugly to me is Naruto being cloaked with Kyuubi's chakra:

Narut_Kyuubi

Overall, I thought it was worth buying despite the ugly Naruto figurine.

Dormitory


This story was printed from TODAYonline

A busy Sunday afternoon at the park Residents at Tai Hwan estate unhappy over proposed workers’ dorm

Monday • October 6, 2008

Lin Yanqin
yanqin@mediacorp.com.sg


IT HAS long been a pleasant spot for residents to relax and for children to play in, but yesterday afternoon, this leafy park in the middle of the Tai Hwan estate — just off Serangoon Gardens — saw a crowd gather for a very different purpose.


Already unhappy about having a temporary foreign workers’ dorm in their vicinity at Serangoon Gardens and further dismayed that a new access road for the dorm was to run right along their estate into Ang Mo Kio Ave 1, the 100 or so residents were here air their views to their MP, Mrs Lim Hwee Hua.

In a 90-minute question and answer session, Mrs Lim sought to dispel the belief that the dorm was a “done deal” and that the consultation exercise had merely been lip service — a view held by several residents present.

Ongoing roadwork at the Central Expressway (CTE) had given rise to the “mistaken belief” that he construction of the new road had already began, she said.

Some of the residents who, though appreciative of how Mrs Lim had worked past midnight to deliver the decision —detailed in a newsletter to households — were still not mollified. They wanted to know whether the busy traffic conditions of the area has been considered, and whether roads could handle the additional transport shuttling
workers to their workplaces.

“You’ve shifted the problem here (from Burghley Drive),” said a resident to applause. Another resident proposed building a shorter road directly into the CTE instead, to avoid adding to the congestion at Ang Mo Kio Ave 1. “There have been many accidents (at Ave 1) ... it’s for the
well-being of the workers as much as for the residents,” he said.

Mrs Lim, also the Senior Minister of State for Transport and Finance, said that she would put
the suggestion to the Land Transport Authority for consideration. But it was an option previously considered and ruled out, as it would be tricky to execute due to the terrain. “I don’t want to overpromise,” she said.

Also a cause for concern was the noise and pollution the new road would add to nearby residences. There was also the issue of littering, and the safety of the residents.

Would the Government keep its promise that the dorm was temporary with a maximum lease of five years, they also asked.

Mrs Lim said that all these concerns, plus any others made by residents, would be made known the dorm operator — to be selected — who will incorporate them into house rules, a “condition” of the proposal. “The promise (of the five-year lease) is in the newsletter for all to see,” she said, adding that the dorm was likely to be in use for less than five years.

But some remained unconvinced that workers’ dorms had to be built in residential areas at all. Said resident Mark Giblett: “(The Formula 1 Grand Prix) was put together in less than a year ... our Government is known for being able to do anything it puts its mind to, so I find it hard to accept that they can’t get dorms ready elsewhere.”

Another resident, citing “poor planning” on the part of the authorities to house foreign workers, called for a reversal of the decision.

Mrs Lim said the “poor planning” was “a point well-taken” but felt that it was time to focus on what could be done going forward to make the best of the situation.

Indeed, residents determined that their concerns would not be left out are consulting with Hwan Gardens Neighbourhood Committee chairman John Leow to join a task force that will be set up to address their concerns.


Copyright MediaCorp Press Ltd. All rights reserved.



I highlighted the sentences in red as reference for my comment:

If they object to noise and pollution, then Singapore government should never consider building anything there, be it road or houses. *Roll my eyes*

Littering? Are they insinuating that foreign workers will litter? Goodness, have they even looked at the local themselves? Singapore may be a clean place but definitely it is not due to civic mindedness of its people but they owe it to the army of cleaners that the government employs to clean up. I have seen both adults and children littered. Even my Singaporean friends would just dump cigarette butts on the ground and would have simply left empty can drinks on the ground if I have not lightly reprimanded them. This is despite the decades long campaign on cleanliness.

I acknowledge that there are a few genuine concerns, with the one I agree most is traffic congestion. However, it appears to me that some residents just try anything and everything by giving flimsy excuses as long as the dormitory is not built in their estate, specifically one that houses foreign workers. And for what reasons? You can make an educated guess by reading the article above. Aside from those with reasonable concerns, the rest are just arrogant bunch of people.

Singapore government should just ignore them and go ahead with the plan. Let those who don't like the idea move out. Hey, in fact, with private property prices just fell a little the Q2 08 for the first time in 4 years, it is a good time to sell. Move out. Let some other people who can accept foreign workers (who built their homes!) be the new owners of this estate.

Censored dreams

I'm sure the following tv scene is familiar to some of you:

Sexual tension's in the air. The couple gazed intently into each other's eyes. Their faces gradually inch closer to each other. Just a millimeter...and bam! They are now in bed, under the cover.

Jeers and curses go around the living room. So anti-climax, right? Now imagine that your dreams are censored. You and your dream partner are fooling around and then something happens to stop it. Curse the person who's causing it, right? But what if it's you?!

Yup, yours truly is mysteriously sabotaging such dreams. In my dreams, I'm usually the one who stop it, albeit meant to be temporary, because reasons like "this is not the place, let's go elsewhere", "my parents may come back any time", "this is not comfortable", "I'm already interested in someone else" etc. But somehow, even if it is "fixed" accordingly, something else interrupts or often than not, I wake up. What the hell!

Lesson in life

“If you can start the day without caffeine;

if you can get going without painkiller;

if you can always be cheerful, ignoring aches and pains;

if you can resist complaining and boring people with your troubles;

if you can eat the same food every day and be grateful for it;

if you can understand when your loved ones are too busy to give you any time;

if you can forgive a friend’s lack of consideration;

if you can overlook it when those you love take it out on you when, through no fault of your own, something goes wrong;

if you can take criticism and blame without resentment;

if you can ignore a friend’s limited education and never correct him;
if you can resist treating a rich friend better than a poor friend;

if you can face the world without lies and deceit;

if you can conquer tension without medical help;

if you can relax without liquor;

if you can sleep without the aid of drugs;

if you can honestly say that deep in your heart you have no prejudice against creed or colour, religion or politics;

then, my friend, you’re almost as good as your dog.


Almost, but not quite.”



- Anonymous poem sent to Dr James Dobson

Lazy introduction

Company's dinner and dance was just way too long! Dinner started only at 8.45pm, way later than any wedding dinner in recent memory. Last dish came only past 11pm. That was the first and will be the only time I'm attending it. It's a shame because the food was great and the two hosts (local celebrities) were quite entertaining.

Well, since I was in a hurry just now (just created this blog!), I didn't have time to do a proper introduction. Ok, the truth is that I'm lousy at doing such thing. I'll do it in point form, ok?
  • I'm working as an actuarial consultant
  • Chinese Malaysian but working in Singapore
  • S&A
  • Reads both fiction (fantasy/science fiction especially) and non-fiction (history especially)
  • Plays computer game (Heroes of Might and Magic, Titan Quest, Civ3)
  • Into Japanese anime

Bit more details can be found in my profile.

Through this blog, I'll be penning my thoughts on various things. It is also a way to keep friends and family updated and hopefully shed some light for them on the mysterious me :-) Please feel free to share your thoughts by leaving your comments here or via e-mail found in my profile.

Testing testing 1,2,3

Hello? Hello? Is this thing on? Hmmm...

Woah! Look at the time. I really have to get dressed for company's Dinner & Dance. It is supposed to start at 6.30pm but I understand that it functions more like a wedding dinner: starts after 8pm. Bah, in fact wedding dinners I've attended recently starts before that.

Since I would be hungry way before 8pm, I had a small packet of instant noodle. I know it's unhealthy but it's filling and no MSG! Just a few cents more expensive than those with MSG. Koka's the name.

Ok, I better get dressed.