Sunday, September 30, 2007

Thinking Out of the Box

August 26th, 2007 Jimmy Tiong wrote ...

You are driving along with your car on a stormy night. It's raining heavily when suddenly you pass by a bus stop and you see three people waiting for a bus.

a) An old lady who looks as if she is about to die,
b) An old friend who once saved your life,
c) The perfect partner you have been dreaming about.

Question: Which one would you choose to offer a ride to, knowing very well there could only be one passenger in your car?
This is a moral/dilemma question that was once actually used as part of a job application.

Possible answer:
a) You could pick up the old lady, because she is going to die and thus you should save her first, or
b) You could take your old friend because he once save your life. This would be the perfect opportunity to pay him back ...
However, for either of the above, you may never be able to find your perfect mate again.
The candidate who was hired (out of 200 applicants) had no trouble coming up with his creative answer (click "comments" of this title) to find out.

Pushing a cleaner's brush instead of a grandchild's pram

April 6th, 2007 Winston Loong provided us an article by Seah Chiang Nee (04-03-07)
Below is an excerpt ...

DESPITE economic prosperity, more and more elderly Singaporeans past retirement age are working as cleaners or toilet attendants, instead of playing with grandchildren.

That they are opting to work past 62 years of age is not surprising and, in fact, could be a plus point. After all, Singapore's life expectancy is 81.7 years, the world's third highest, even ahead of Japan (81.25 years). But what is not savvy about it is they are doing the sort of menial work once done by unskilled foreigners workers. Some 35.7 per cent are cleaners or doing related work, where incomes are low. It's not that the elderly don't want to retire; many simply cannot afford to, said Rick Lim in a letter. Recently a student from China who was interviewed said that he found it strange to see so many cleaners were elderly, compared to poorer China where they would be enjoying their retirement. Blame it on globalization, insufficient safety net or poor education when they were young (probably all together) but it has made old age synonymous, rightly or wrongly, with poverty and hardship. Even today growing old is not a good thing. Many employers consider 45-year-olds as over the hill, preferring to replace them with younger, cheaper workers. (Making things worse is the large influx of foreign workers who are ready to accept lower salaries.)

The majority of aged workers are lowly skilled and make up the bulk of Singapore's struggling class. In recent years, their income has wither stagnated or declined, while the rich got richer. This affects their ability to save for retirement, despite their mandatory Central Provident Funds. Only 27 per cent of Singaporeans between 25 and 75 said that they have sufficient funds to retire, compared with 61 per cent of Thais and 47 per cent of Malaysians, according to an insurance company survey. Today one in 12 Singaporeans are 65 or older; by 2030, this will become one in five.

Like elsewhere, this age group has more than a higher rate of homeless and poor, the depressed, and the desperately sick. These Singaporeans have spent a lifetime working hard to build Singapore up, whether as coolies or managers, and should be looked after during their sunset years, many believe.

The Great Cook In

June 3rd, 2007
 See Movie in RealPlayer

On 30th May 2007, a group of 18 (with wives) went to Hwa Luck's residence to have a cook in. Hwa Luck has a commercial-size kitchen, well equipped for the function. Hwa Luck and Bok prepared chilli crab & steamed crab. Choon Peng & Ivy made curry chicken with home-made baguette. Dereck & Bee Geok prepared the fruity stewed oxtail. Our lady, Ethel made chap chye & fruit jelly. Gary & Nellie prepared kuay pie tee.

Our two avid cooks, Lohman and Hee Kuan each prepared sweet corn frikadel with prawn and koo chye with tung hoon & crispy sotong respectively. Janet made some fried chicken and Kimmy Tiong made the red wine chicken. John brought a platter of fruits consisting lychees, grapes, rambutans & strawberries. May Lin brought longans and Seow Boon brought sorbet from New Zealand. Tze Kwang & Diana brought eggplants. Also present in the Cook In were Glenn and SP Toh.

Related topic: Why Does Eating Feel So Good?

A Cure for Marital Problems

Sept 1st, 2007 Seng Hong wrote ...

A husband and wife go to a counselor after 35 years of marriage. The counselor asks them what the problem is and the wife goes into a tirade, listing every problem they have ever had in the 35 years they've been married. She goes on and on and on.

Finally, the counselor gets up, goes around the desk, embraces the woman and kisses her passionately. The woman shuts up and sits quietly in a daze.

The counselor turns to the husband and says "That is what your wife needs at least three times a week. Can you do that?" The husband says, "I can bring her here on Mondays and Wednesdays, but on Fridays, I'm golfing."

Pike Place Market in Seattle

July 21st, 2007
Pike Place Market (Seattle)

In summer of 2007, Pike Place Market is celebrating 100 years since it was opened in August 1907. One of the things the orgnaiser has done is to "place" pig icons, 100 of them (I think), all over the downtown Seattle including in shopping centers. Click, view, to see some of the pig icons.

Pike Place Market is a place for small business with stalls selling fishes around the region (including salmon), home made crafts and other items like dungeness crabs, flowers, fruits of the season, honey, etc.

If you are in Seattle, Pike Place Market is within walking distance inthe tourist area of downtown Seattle, a place worth paying a visit and have a seafood buffet lunch in the variety of resturants and coffee outlets. Short boat rides are also available along the Eillott Bay waterfront.

Calling all durian lovers (Victimized)

May 10th, 2007
Is there such thing as free sampling? The answer is "Yes" and "No". When visiting any durian store in Singapore, be careful of the vendors offering you "free" sample of their stock of durians. They may jump a surprise on you after you have tasted them. They said that the durians they have "opened" have to be bought by you at ridiculous price of $20/kg. They continue to say aggressively that they have opened the fruit and have already keyed in the purchase. You may be put into a very difficult situation and, like all Singaporean, trying to avoid trouble will reluctantly purchase one piece of durian from them at $62!

This hard-sell tactics deployed by some stall-holders are disgusting.

Uniquely Singapore - Littering at Letter Boxes Area

May 9th, 2007

In emails, we have spam mails (electronic junk mails). In printed form, we have flyers, unsolicited commercial messages, etc put inside our letter boxes.

Most of us in Singapore stay in flats purchased from HDB (our housing authority). Consider one living in a 5-room HDB flat with 25 storeys. This block will have 96 families under one roof. If each family receives an average of 5 flyers per day, then the letter boxes will have 480 flyers. Assuming half of the tenants open their letter boxes each day, they will have taken out 240 flyers.

What happen to the flyers? Most will just throw them indiscrimately on the floor. Some civic-minded persons will walk a short distance and throw them in the rubbish bin nearby.

To solve the problem of littering at letter boxes area, the estate management of HDB come up with an unique idea of constructing a containment directly below the letter boxes. Functionally it is effective in controlling this problem of littering, but the authority is sending out a wrong message to those that litters ... it is OK to throw litter and let others (the cleaners) to pick up the pieces.

Uniquely Singapore - Helping the Environment

April 18th, 2007

Starting from 18th April 2007 and every 1st Wednesday of the Month, you have to bring your own shopping bags to do your supermarket shopping. If not, you have to "donate" ten cents, to the environment fund, per plastic bag used to contain your groceries. Alternatively, you can purchase a recycled shopping bag costing about $1 each.

In most Singapore households, especially in HDB flats, our kitchen sinks are not equipped with Food Waste Disposers. We normally "recycled" all our plastic bags obtained from the supermarket to contain all the kitchen waste that cannot go down the sewer system. Plastic bags are most suitable to contain all unwanted kitchen waste, before throwing down the verticle chute or place in the dustbins outside our house.

Hope this small step will encourage us to do more for our environment and change the mindset of those who are still not happy with this scheme by our NEA.

Uniquely Singapore - Social Grace

April 18th, 2007

With a notice posted inside the lift cubicle, it's a message to tell the would-be culprit that we mean business, but this also tell our visitors that this housing neighbourhood has a social problem, i.e. someone (children and/or adults) is using the lift as a toilet! The message projects a wrong attitude to the would be offender. He is not doing the anti-social habit not because it is wrong to do it, but because he is afraid of being caught by the authority.

How to reduce the occurrence of such unacceptable social behaviour? I believe good social habits start at home - during the early stage of child development we called it toilet training. The next stage is in the play centers and finally it must be reinforced in schools. Down the process of living & learning, something must have gone wrong with a small number of people staying in housing estates (HDB) that have this kind of "urine in lift" problem. These people causing the problem does not know peeing in the lift is wrong. For those of us who have experienced intense need of a public toilet, occasionally, we definitely know the true meaning of "relieve" after the job is done in a proper environment - and definitely not in a public lift!

Free Wireless Broadband

April 11th, 2007

Wireless@SG is a wireless broadband developed by IDA as part of its Next Generation National Infocomm Infrastructure initiative. During this period until Dec. 2009 you can logon to the Internet within designated "hotspots" with a Wi-Fi enable device such as a laptop computer or a PDA.

You have to register first for a free account before you can connect to the Internet. Go to any of the "hotspot" like the library, Delifrance, Starbucks outlets etc. More details of "hotspots" locations can be found through link ...

You can also go to SingTel web site
for more details.

Happy surfing ...

Butchart Gardens

April 7th, 2007
 See Movie in RealPlayer

Butchart Gardens in Victoria - the British Columbia's provincial capital. It lies at the southeast end of Vancouver Island, 90km southwest of Vancouver. One of the ways to reach Butchart Gardens is from Seattle, purchasing a Victoria City and Butchart Gardens Tour on the Victoria Clipper. Butchart Gardens has an area of approx. 20ha/50 acres. The Garden was started in 1904 by Jennie Butchart to beautify the quarry pit resulting from her husband's cement business. Still operated by the family, the grounds are maintained year-round by a team of gardeners. The floral attraction is the beautiful sunken garden with its green lawns, trees and exquiste flower arrangements that create a whirl of colour. The other Gardens include, the Rose Fountain, Rose Garden, Japanese Garden and the Italian Garden. An average visit is about 1 and half hours, in time to catch the 7.00pm boat trip (about 3 hours) back to Seattle - on a day trip ticket.

Reflection on Life - Point of View

April 6th, 2007
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SP Toh wrote (from above movie submitted by Seng Hong):
It is a fantastic way of extending a helping hand through the symbolism of bridges. What really caught my eye is the final frame with these words: "Everything that happens, happens for a reason." That equation sounded familar doesn't it to: "God does not play at dice." More than that, we are all here for a reason no matter how significant or insignificant.

Our Singlish

April 5th, 2007 Jimmy Tiong wrote ...
It was reported that 80% of Singaporean studying Law in the United Kingdom. Here is the finding:

UK Immigration Officer: "Purpose of Visit"
One Singaporean: "I'm here to study law, Sir,"

Officer: "You know, you must have a lot of lawyers in Singapore."
Singaporean: "Oh?!!, Why do you say that?"

Officer: "Well, I've been here for a good twenty years, and I'd say 80% of Singaporeans I see here say they're here to read law,"
Singaporean: "Oh, really?!! That's really something I never knew. Hard to believe in fact."

Officer: "Just you watch, then. You just stand here until the next Singaporean comes along, and I'll bet he's here to read law,"
Singaporean waits for 5 minutes ... Ah Beng from Singapore comes to immigration counter.

Officer: "So ... Mr. Beng, what's the purpose of your visit?"
Ah Beng; "Study lor ...?!!"

Chung Sy Piin is in town (16-01-2007)

April 5th, 2007 Lohman wrote ...
Chung Sy Piin and wife Emily, residents of Suva, Fiji came and joined us for a weekly lunch at Marina Loft Food Court on 16-01-07. I remembered him well as he was my supplier of the weekly Beano and Dandy comics, which I enjoyed immensely as a kid, in Primary School at Barker Road. We believe our table of 10 made the most and loudest noise in the spirit of fellowship, fun, talk/debate to slow brain death - the phrase crafted by Seow Boon.

Contact was made with Sy Piin through Lim Kee Soon in Kampong Kapor Church, Lohman contacted Sy Piin soon after and invited him & his wife to join us for a lunch in Marina Loft Food Court. Eight of us ACSians were present including Quek Seow Boon, Leong Hee Kuan, Ho Hew Lee, Ng Yew Kwok, Lim Kian Hoe, Dereck Liew, Chung Seng Hong and Lohman.

From the conversation, we learnt that Sy Piin had been away for more than 10 years in Fiji to seek his fortune. We also learnt of an idyllic lifestyle in Suva, capital city of Fiji where shops closed after 6pm. Tourism is one of the biggest revenuw collected from sea activities including diving and fishing. There are also many golf courses for avid golfers. Sy Piin spend his time managing his multi-tasks businesses including the only Golf Shop on the island, IT (Internet Services) and foreign money exchange.

Sy Piin and wife also attended one dinner in Zi Yean Resturant at Lengkok Bahru with a small group of those attended the Tuesday lunch.

Eric Ng is in town (23-10-06)

April 5th, 2007 Lohman wrote ...
Eric Ng Eik Cheng, a resident in Sydney and working there as a business consultant was home on leave. He agreed to join us for a buffet lunch in the Melting Pot in Holiday Inn Atrium at Outram Road/Havelock Road junction. This coffee house do have senior citizen discount on Mondays and we took advantage of that.

We have a total of 11 persons came to the lunch - Leong Hee Kuan, Quek Seow Boon, Jimmy Tiong, Chung Seng Hong, Ng Yew Kwok, Chan Weng Yew, Ho Hew Lee, Ng Eik Cheng, Lohman, SP Toh and Irene.

The range of food items was extensive - hainanese chicken rice, pork chop, pepper and chilli crabs, japanese sushi as well as the Indian Food items together with deserts. Our group did enjoyed the epicurean cuisine.


April 2nd, 2007
from the book titled - Chinese Personal Names - by Ning Yegao, Ning Yun

Life is like a blank sheet of paper
Having no special significance.
Only when touched by green,
Did I begin to grow,
Red gives me warmth and feelings,
From yellow I learned loyalty and uprightness,
And from blue, purity and dignity,
Pink brings me hopes
Grey increases my sadness.
To complete this picture of many colours
I need black to promise death.
I've fallen even deeper in love with life
Because I love its colours.

The poem above illustrates the feelings that colours convey to a person. Different colours symbolise different feelings and evoke different emotions on the part of the beholder.

Related topic: colour symbolism

How to Re-activate an Expired Driver's License

March 31st, 2007 Perk Harn wrote ...
Coincidentally I have a question about expired Driver's License and did not know where to find the answers overseas. This might be the best forum to air my question and invite some helpful responses.

Does anyone know the procedure for re-activating an expired Driver's license in Singapore. Is a driving test required (although I hold a valid driver's license overseas) or does procedure just involve submitting renewal papers and paying the necessary fees. Will anybody be able to shed some light on this? Also, what is the jurisdiction in charge of Drivers' License in Singapore - the Traffic Office? Somehow, I had expected the name to be something more high-sounding.

Grateful for any advice or information I can garner, and thanks.

The Book titled - the Secret

March 29th, 2007 Hew Lee wrote ...
my daughter, the blogger commenting on the book, the Secret

enlighten reading ...

Chai Tow Kueh (Carrot Cakes)

March 29th, 2007 Seow Boon wrote ...
I'm inexplicably fond of this crispy, aromatic and crunchy stuff. How does a simple rice cake turn into such a wondrous combination of smell, taste and mouth-feel?

Lately, though, it's been disappointing. Mostly mashed into little bits glued together with egg which just doesn't feel right. The chilli is lightly smeared on but not fried to release it's aromatic secrets. Then, it tastes too oily, though whether this is really so or my preferences have changed, I don't know.

Here comes the question: where's the good stuff?

The Surgical Gloves are off

March 29th, 2007 Lohman wrote ...
A friend sent me an interesting article below which reveals certain surgical procedures to a very private part of a female anatomy ... TODAY Online: Hot News //Friday, December 15, 2006 The Surgical gloves are off. It's doctor versus doctors as gynaecologists take on plastic surgeon Tan Hui Leng.

In a rare public confrontation, a group of surgeons here have crossed scalpets. At one end of the operating table, one of Singapore's most renowned plastic surgeons; at the other end, a group of top gynaecologists in public and private practice. Between them a war of words challenging the competency of a fellow medical professional, and accusations of "protecting turf" erupted - all over two procedures. The dispute arose from a newspaper feature on plastic surgeon Dr. Martin Huang, the executive director of listed Pacific Healthcare Holdings, which runs a clinic at Orchard Road. In the feature, Dr. Huang claimed he was the only plastic surgeon in Singapore certified to offer Designer Laser Vaginaplasty (DLV) and Laser Vagina Rejuvenation (LVR). DLV modifies the appearance of the vagina and LVR tightens loose muscles. The latter is said to be a modified version of a gynaecological procedure to treat loose muscles and its associated symptoms, especially Stress Urinary Incontinence (SUI).

The article evoked a strong response. On Wednesday, five obstetric and gynaecology (O&G) specialists sent a jointly signed letter to The Business Times taking issue with Dr. huang's claims. The doctors were "alarmed" at the fact that an aesthetic specialist - after only three days of training - could claim to be certified to perform the procedures, whereas it takes six years of post-graduaate training and examinations before the Ministry of Health accredits them as specialists. "It's not a procedure you can learn over three days," Dr. Tay Eng Hseon, chairman of KK Women's & Children's Hospital's medical board and president of the Obstetrical & Gynaecological Society of Singapore, told TODAY. "We think that the training Dr. Huang has gone through cannot be good enough to treat SUI." The others are Dr. Roy Ng, chairman of the College of Obstetricians & Gynaecologists' urogynaecology department, and three heads of departments at different hospitals.

The man at the centre of the controversy obviously disagreed. He said it did not make a difference whether one is a gynaecologist or a plastic surgeon. "Plastic surgeons are trained to perform technically difficult operations in tight spaces with skill, meticulousness, a high degree of accuracy, and great attention to detail. LVR is exactly that type of operation," he told TODAY. Hitting back at the obstetric and gynaecology specialists, Dr. Huang accused them of being overly protective of their turf, the authors have strangely chosen to remain silent about their O&G colleagues in Singapore, who are openly offering and performing cosmetic surgery procedures such as liposuction." He also said that the authors of the letter had misunderstood the intent of the procedure - he had described in the newspaper feature saying it was not primarily intended as a treatment for SUI.

This is not the first time a spat over turf has erupted between plastic surgeons and mainstream practitioners. Last year, it was the aesthetic specialists that criticised general practitioners for offering simple cosmetic procedures such as botox injections, mesotherapy and fillers for wrinkles. But why wash all this dirty linen in public instead of resolving it behind closed doors? Once again, Dr. Tay pointed an accusing finger at Dr. Huang. Because the plastic surgeon had talked about the procedure in a newspaper feature, the O&G specialists felt the public deserved a different point of view. "I am not aware of any O&G doctors offering aesthetic services who have been featured in a publicity article like this," he said.

Weighing in, the Ministry of Health made a similar point, albeit in a different way. Referring to the Ethical Code and Ethical Guidelines of the Singapore Medical Council, which all doctors have to abide by, the ministry cautioned doctors about what they can say in public. The ministry also highlighted the guideline that a doctor should practise within the limits of his own competence, and said doctors should not persist in unsupervised practice of a branch of medicine without the appropriate knowledge, skill or experience.

Why Does Eating Feel So Good?

March 29th, 2007 Seow Boon wrote ...
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Why does eating feel so good? The secret may lie in the head, not in the stomach. U.S. researchers reported on Thursday.

Tests on rats show that the appetite hormone ghrelin acts on pleasure receptors in the brain.
The findings may help researchers develop better diet drugs.

"In mice and rats ghrelin triggers the same neurons as delicious food, sexual experience and many recreational drugs; that is, neurons that provide the sensation of pleasure and the expectation of reward," the researchers write in Friday's issue of the Journal of Clinical Investigation.

"These neurons produce dopamine and are located in a region of the brain known as the ventral tegmental area (VTA)," wrote the researchers, headed by Dr. Tamas Horvath of the Yale University School of Medicine in Connecticut.

Saturday, September 29, 2007


Swanky Franky dish
March 29th, 2007
Seow Boon is managing a Google Group of makankaki. If you want to be included in the loop, please post to the group at . It is normally a monthly event. For the past months, the group (changes in every event) has been to:

  • Le Troquet at Balestier Road (French Fare) on 13-10-2006.
  • Zi-Yean Resturant at Lengkok Bahru on 10-11-2006.
  • Yanqing Shanghai Kitchen at Bukit Timah Road on 07-12-2006.
  • Ah Orh Seafood Resturant at Bukit Merah on 05-01-2007.
  • Dinner @ Ka Soh Fishhead Noodle at Amoy Street on 01-02-2007.
  • Buffet Lunch at Melting Pot in Holiday Inn Atrium on 12-02-2007.
  • Lunch at Botak Jones in Clementi on 20-03-2007.

ACS61-63 Blog

March 29th, 2007

Hello, classmates of ACS61-63. I have created this blog where everyone, no matter where you are, you can join in the discussion. The problem with email discussion is that only the group selected by the first writer will be in the loop. The rest are left out.

I try to improve on this by reproducing, in this blog, any interesting discussion I find in the emails. With this, I hope all of us (worldwide) will have an opportunity to comment and/or contribute on topics posted.