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28 December 2014

Ballast


It's a Sunday and this is the time I spend mucking around the house doing a little Tim "The Toolman" Taylor.

Today's assignment was the fluorescent tube in the common bathroom that has gone out the day before. A quick stop at the DIY store across the street and I had the tube replaced in double quick time.

A flick of the switch et...... nothing.

Aw... nuts. It's the ballast that has gone to ballast heaven. The old tube which I now suspect was still alive, was already disposed of already.

So armed with the new tube and the old ballast, I headed down to the store once again.

The tube tested ok and so it was confirmed that the problem was indeed the ballast.


JayWalk: (Showing her the ballast) 我要买这个. 这个叫什么?

China Lady Store Manager: Ballast.

JayWalk: Har? 我也知道叫 "ballast". 中文怎么讲?

Store Manager: 不知道.

JayWalk: (Gives the "您来自中国不知道这个中文怎么说?" one-raised-eyebrow look).

Store Manager: (Gave back the "七早八早你是来给老娘添乱的是么?" death stare)

JayWalk: *quietly exit stage right*



TIL: Ballast for the fluorescent tube is known as "镇流器“, according to the description on the box.

Image Credit: http://www.comingsoon.net
- Voxeros

29 September 2014

Seeds And Nuts 2.0




Just when I thought the last time I had "Bird Food" was just a while ago, it dawned on me that 3 years have already flown by.

Wow. How time passes!

So anyway, during my last trip back in June 2014, I decided to pack more seeds and nuts back to QQland.

This time round, my mix is:
  • Walnuts
  • Cashew Nuts
  • Pumpkin Seeds
  • Almonds
  • Wolfberries
I did away with black sesame seeds as they have a tendency to get stuck in between you teeth and really ugly when you smile. I added wolfberries for its health benefits and also the fact that there was a special offer.

No pine nuts nor sunflower seeds as there was no stock that day.

As usual, all of them are unsalted with the exception of the pumpkin seeds.

The wolfberries are quite nice but I made the mistake of buying too much which made the entire mix tasted off. It didn't help that they have a tendency to clump together and so you can imagine when I bit into a big chunk of it.

p.s. Yeah. It was the same tupperware, I used the last time round. Still good and tight sealed as ever.

- Voxeros

28 September 2014

Hong Kong Tennis Open 2014


By right, I should be featuring the match winning point above but Lisicki won that on account of Schiavone's double fault and so essentially, it wasn't a point worth my top billing. Instead, I put up Schiavone's save of the first match point.

I was in Hong Kong two weeks ago to watch the semi-final games but was too busy to update it on my blog until now.

Anyway, the other semi-final was between relatively unknown duo of Pliskova (Karolina) and Van Uytvanck.

Er.... who?

Anyway, it was a b-o-r-i-n-g match and kudos to the organisers for having the foresight to place them as the first semi-final of the day where at 3pm in the hot afternoon, the place was about 1/4 filled.

There were sparks of brilliance from time to time between these two ITF graduates but they have a long way to go as far as paying their dues is concerned before being able to be regarded as serious contenders in the big league.

The disparity in levels between Lisicki and Pliskova was evident in the final the next day as latter young padawan was schooled 7-5, 6-3.

Coming back to the semi-final between Lisicki and Schiavone, everyone was rooting for the underdog Italian as the 34 year-old put up a gutsy display against the German who is 9 years younger.

We were awed by her never-say-die attitude as she hunted down every stray ball covering every squared inch of the court.

Win or lose, as far as the point was concerned, was met with big applause from everyone. Perhaps it was everyone's way, including mine, giving her an "A" for effort.

Eventually, youthfulness triumphed as Lisicki takes the title 6-3, 3-6, 6-2.

My thought next, goes to the tournament itself. The Prudential Hong Kong Tennis Open 2014 is a tiny tournament where the winner goes home with just 280 ranking points. This compared to the Grand Slams (2000 points) and the WTA Premier Events e.g. the current ongoing Wuhan Open 2014 (900 points). The down side to this is that with fewer ranking points and smaller prize money, you aren't going to attract as many big names. In fact, for this particular tournament the top seed was eventual Sabine Lisicki and she was ranked back then as 28th. We won't be expecting the likes of Sharapova, Williams, Kvitova etc to grace the event.

The up side on the other hand is that smaller tournament means smaller venue, means we are up closer to the action. And yeah, cheaper ticket prices too.

p.s. My favourite day of the tournament is actually the quarter-finals where, IMHO, the ticket price gives you the best value for money. The price of the ticket grants you 4 matches to watch in a single sitting. Compare this to the more expensive semi-finals (2 matches) and most expensive ticket final (1 match). Earlier rounds can be boring as players hold back on the throttle to avoid peaking too early and so the quarter-finals is the turning point where players step up their gear in terms of play intensity as they are just a mere two steps from victory. 

Click Here To See --> The rest of the HK Open 2014 photos as well as the video of the match point between Pliskova (Karolina) and Van Uytvanck.



- Voxeros

09 September 2014

Talent Uncovered


This is a video of Faith's drawing. It is a time-lapsed video capture and so no. She didn't draw THAT fast.

We started noticing her interest in drawing anime characters and her obsession with creating stuff on Minecraft. For those who have fallen behind in terms of technology, it's a digital low-res version of lego or nanoblocks.

Anyway, when we first saw her drawings, we were like...



... this kid's got a bit of talent. What I initially thought was just a knack coupled with hours and hours spent glued to youtube tutorials (which kinda explained her plunging grades in P5).

After watching this video, I stand corrected.

I don't recall us sending her to any art classes after school. I believed she just happened to pick things up herself.

I am impressed.

Perhaps yellow brick road is laid down for her already. Let's send her to arts school. Yes?

Who knows she may even be in the CGI FX team for Star Wars IX. Who knows?


p.s. I can see the generation gap getting wider. Gone are the days where it is just a pencil/pen and paper.

p.p.s. Perhaps I should get her to meet Grasshopper?

Image Credit: http://www.knowyourmeme.com

- Voxeros

09 August 2014

Happy National Day 2014



Happy National Day, Singapore!

Granted this song isn't going to be remembered a year from now (or even a month from now), it is nevertheless a commendable effort.

p.s. I would recommend turning on the captions to read the lyrics as the song runs along. Click on "cc" below the time line bar.

- Voxeros

29 July 2014

BarRun 2015 - Prelude


It's been two months since the Sundown Marathon where I completed the 10K with fellow Barflies. It was great fun and my decent timing improvement over last year was the cherry on top.

I enjoyed the run. Not so much about the timing but rather the fact that a few good friends are running together and who can say no to supper thereafter?

That brings me to looking forward to next year. Assuming my work dates don't clash with the event, I am torn between running 10K again or going up the next rung to 21K.

The 2014 Sundown saw the 10K event had an earlier start than the 21K Half and 42K Full Marathon, where the latter starts after the 10K has finished.

If I were to take up the 21K challenge, it would very much mean flying (or in this case running) solo. It won't be as fun as starting off together and going for supper there after.

And if I were to take up the 10K again, it would mean missing out on the chance to challenge myself further and this opportunity diminishes with every year I grow older.

So how?

- Voxeros

11 July 2014

In Defence Of NCPG "Boo Boo"


Singapore's NCPG, acronym for National Council for Problem Gambling, recently has an ad which picked Germany to be supposedly the wrong team to bet on.

In gambling, as you all would know, is a problem only if you lose. In this particular case, Germany kept winning.

Oops.

Perhaps Germany was picked because in the entire history of World Cup, no European team has ever won on the soil of the Americas i.e both North and South America. Goldman Sachs predicted a Brazil-Argentina final and so we can imagine the shock when Brazil got handed a 7-1 spanking by the Germans.

Yes, the ad and the irony of it all is funny. We make jokes of the ad but perhaps we should step back and think for a while the message that was originally intended.

Jimmy Fallon ridiculed the ad saying how much savings does a 8-year old child have? $17.25? But think about it from another angle. If the father has to dip his fingers into the kid's piggy bank, what does it say about the rest of the money in the household?

Not so funny now, huh?

The way I see it, our fellow ministers may have jumped on the wrong bandwagon joining the netizen mob in poking fun at the ad. Sure, it's funny and fun for now but bear in mind, there is still one more game to play.

For those who has dabbled in a punt or two, you know how it is like to be on a streak. You feel invincible. This string of victories gives you sense of false bravado and the final wager this coming Sunday/Monday may just be the undoing of every win leading up to this match.

Sure. Germany looks like they have God-status mode turned on right now when they trashed super powerhouse Brazil not by the odd goal or two but freaking 7-1. Mind you, while Germany was indeed the better team that day, they won only because Brazil imploded. The Brazilian team this year is probably the worst team ever assembled for the World Cup. Without Neymar and Captain Silva, they are nothing. People have been singing praises of David Luiz throughout this tournament but I reiterate my stance this lazy fella has been a cancer cell in the Chelsea squad. He is not that good as people made him out to be.

Also, if you look at Argentina-Germany's last 8 international head-to-heads (friendlies included), Argentina has won 7 of them.

Bookies are making Germany to be the favourite here and I am sure majority of the punts will go in favour of them.

Odds always favour the house and so I am thinking bookies will clean everybody out when Argentina lift the trophy come Sunday/Monday.

So. Perhaps it is too early to ridicule the NCPG ad?

I may be wrong with my prediction but the message intended behind the NCPG ad is definitely right.

Think deeper. Don't be so shallow.

-Voxeros

05 June 2014

BarRun 2014 - Sundown Marathon 2014


Yup, this year is still the Fantastic Four of us doing the BarRun. Word has it that Airpork no longer run and we are in the midst of recruiting new people for next year's.

This run this year was much better, the change the running route and we were running clockwise this year instead.

Our 10K run was also flagged off earlier at 22:30 so that we finish before 0:00 for the actual Marathon and half marathon to start at 01:30 and 00:30 respectively.

Result? No bottlenecks! Good. For some strange reason, we found ourselves near the front of the starting pack and that turned out to be a blessing as well. No start-off traffic jam too.


My time this year at 64:15 was an awesome improvement from last year where I came in at 78:14. From 2699th to a whopping 589th! By interpolation, I am estimating that I improved from 1933th to 310th in the Male category and 337th to 50th in the Male 40-49 Age Group category.

Perhaps the only disappointment is the missing infographic analyst of your run that usually comes with the official release of your results. They had it last year and I believe the year before too. It was loads of fun to read.



I have always liked Sundown Marathon's tank top as the material is really comfortable. This year's look better than last although I fear the back decals may start to peel after a few washes.


Special mention goes out to my Wahoo BlueHR Bluetooth 4.0 Heart Rate Monitor which again, worked flawlessly. Guess what? It is still on its first battery since I bought it in Apr 2013 and it's not like I haven't been using it regularly. I have over 50 runs amounting to over 40 hours of running and it's still going on strong.

Kudos!

- Voxeros

02 June 2014

Coca Cola Second Lives


Coca Cola has lotsa of novel initiatives that deserve our applause as far as creativity and the somewhat greater good that it promotes. Ranging from the Hug-A-Coke-Machine for a Coke or a "Thank You" Coke via air drones to the construction workers for building our city's skyscrapers or a payment via Coke bottle caps for a phone call home.

But this.

This one takes first prize as far as I am concern. Putting Coke bottle into reuse with a series of utility caps ranging from the fun water guns to the more domestically useful spray bottle, condiment shaker etc.

Question is, what did Coca Cola do, if at all, such that the caps fit only Coca Cola bottles and not other brands?

It seems awfully unfair for Coca Cola to spend all the time, resources and effort to do a good thing only for other brands like Pepsi to achieve the same utility putting these innovative caps onto their bottles?

Or am I just being too petty?

- Voxeros

30 May 2014

MYP Award Ceremony 2014 - Part 2



Time really flies and before you know it, we are into our eleventh year.

Wow. Eleven.

Anyway, here's the report of the Maximise Your Potential Award Ceremony held 6 weeks ago with a brief statement of accounts of our current finances.

--> Click Here To Go To The RunForFunds page. Like Us!



REPORT: 11th Maximize Your Potential Award Ceremony (12th April 2014)

The 11th Maximize Your Potential (MYP) award ceremony was held on 12th April, 10 am @ Geylang Methodist School (Primary).

Present were 21 MYP award recipients (11 of them are prefects!), their parents/guardians, supporters of Run For Funds and GMSP teachers-in-charge.

(Note: To date, 86 students have received the MYP award)

Mrs Rina Liang, Principal GMSP, kicked off proceedings with a welcome message. She told the parents and students that they should be very proud of their achievement thus far. The recipients were selected for MYP based on their academic performance and good behavior.

Amongst the supporters who attended, there were 2 SuperFriends (who have run to raise funds for MYP).

Meng Hwei, a pioneer SuperFriend, ran a full 42km marathon in 2003.

Byron, our newest SuperFriend, ran 21km in December 2013 and raised $2,061 for MYP.

In his address to the recipients, Byron shared that we are created with unique talents and we must put these talents to good use i.e. help others and contribute to society. He also shared, like running, the students need to persevere when the going gets tough and never give up.

Adrian shared with the students the importance and joys of giving. He encouraged the students to make a difference to people around them with acts of kindness, peer tutoring etc. The simplest way is to give others a smile to brighten their day. Adrian also reminded the students that they, like their predecessors, have the right foundations to succeed in the future. He profiled success stories of MYP recipients who have qualified for tertiary studies in law, actuary, accountancy, hospitality. He urged the students to aim high, work hard and don't give up.

The MYP Awards were then presented to the students by Rina, Henry Tan (pioneering RFF supporter) and Byron.

Event ended with a tea reception + group photo taking.

Accounts
$21,000 was donated in March 2013 to GMSP to fund MYP award for another 3 years (2013-2015).

As per past practice, I donated the money from the stand-alone RFF bank account using a cheque in my name.

As a result, I received a tax credit for making a donation to the school.

I'm recycling back the tax benefit of $10,500 in my recent tax assessment (from making the $21,000 donation) back to RFF account.

RFF account as of 29th May 2014 = $18.076.19 + $10,500 =$28,576.19


Special Thanks
Special thanks go out to the following people:

Theresa Thong and Jessie Soh – Your labour of love and persistence over the past 11 years has impacted 86 young lives and their families.

Rina and the staff of GMSP – Thank you for making a difference to the lives of students @ GMSP. The commitment and dedication of your staff in a demographically challenged Geylang district will leave an indelible mark in these young lives.

RFF supporters – As always, thanks for your support, prayers and contributions all these years.

Blessings,

Adrian

Winners of MYP award 2014 with their proud parents/guardians and teachers-in-charge
Winners of MYP award 2014 with their proud parents/guardians and teachers-in-charge

--> Click Here To See The Rest Of The Album (Not as many pictures this year as there was a slight "mishap" with the digital camera. We were fortunate to be able to salvage whatever is left. Oh well. We'd be more careful next year. Onward to the 12th!

--> Click Here To Go To The RunForFunds page. Like Us! 



- Voxeros

08 May 2014

A Cola For The Migrant Workers


A gesture for gratitude for the migrant workers who toiled under the sun and in the rain to build us beautiful skyscrapers.

Coca Cola and the Singapore Kindness Movement showed their appreciation delivering over 2700 cans of Coca Cola to them as a way of saying Thank You.

Thank you.

On a side note, there has been talks about rezoning a parcel of land to relocate all the migrant workers there. It could be just me but isn't that also otherwise known as segregation?

Racism, anyone?



- Voxeros

25 April 2014

Philippine Independence Day In Singapore


There has been quite a big ruckus kicked up over the Philippine Independence Day celebration in the heart of Singapore's shopping belt recently.

Some people were quite upset why they couldn't do it on their own turf and have to have it here.

Er.... because it is too costly to fly everyone back to celebrate and then return here again? Duh.....

I also beg the question. What is wrong with celebrating in Singapore? It is afterall a joyous occasion and what better than to share the joy with others?

What is with the hostility?

My friends and I had a discussion recently on this issue and here is my take.

As much as I welcome them to hold their celebrations here, I would hope that one day, we can also have a Singapore day in Manila and share our joy too!

I think it is an awesome idea to bring some colour to the place and also an excellent opportunity to learn about another culture. After all, Singapore is a melting pot of races and nationalities from all over the world. No?

Besides, it is only for a day. How much inconvenience and/or grief, if at all, can one day of celebration bring? We tolerated, every year, an entire week of inconveniences e.g. road blocks, road diversions, squeezy public transport, loud deafening noise, otherwise known as the Formula One race. No?

Then there is the bigot who claimed that such an event is an act of war on us. Really? War? What is this guy smoking?

Anyway, I hope the authorities will haul this idiot's ass up in court for inciting unwarranted hatred. Should lock this guy up for a couple of weeks to let him cool off. Time out corner you go, spoilt little brat!

The way I see it, the good people of The Philippines are welcome to hold their event in Orchard Road. Just make sure all licensing, permits and the relevant laws and regulations are adhered to. Would appreciate the extra hand to clean up when the event is over.

Other than that?

Happy Independence Day, Philippines!

Mabuhay!

Image Credit: http://singaporenewsalternative.blogspot.com

- Voxeros

15 April 2014

Microwave Poached Egg - The Second Attempt



Following the first disastrous attempt, I decided to give it another shot after reading and studying the comments on my facebook entry (of the same topic) what could have gone wrong.

So here's what I did on my second try.

I continued to use room temperature water as I still think "cold water" in any recipe refers to unheated water. Otherwise, they would have specified refrigerated water or spell out the temperature to which the water should be, which I find is a tad overboard.

It's a cooking recipe. Not a science laboratory experiment, mind you.

And no. I am not going to use a pipette or burette to get the mug (not measuring beaker) to fill up to 1/3.

Next, I pop the mug with the egg (unbroken yolk) into the NukeBox on high for 60 seconds.

I started the countdown as I nervously watched the mug spun nonchalantly on the carousel.

50 seconds, just a tad short of the full minute, there was a loud POP!

I was thinking "oh great!", we have another eggplosion (term courtesy of Desiree).

I was suprised to see that the microwave was clean with no mess. I picked up to see the mug, half expecting to see nothing (and thus begin the mystery of the disappearing egg).

But no.

There it was, sitting nicely and almost pretty.

It wasn't completely cooked as there is still about 10 to 15% of the albumen still in its uncooked transparent form.

I let it sit for another minute to let it cooked in the heated water. I don't want to pop it back in again, lest I risked the real eggplosion.

Skimmed off the uncooked portion of the egg, throw it on a toast, leaf of lettuce, sauce as a "glue" to prevent the egg from sliding all over the place, a dash of mushrooms in truffle oil, sliced tomato for garnishing, take a photo et voila! Hipster meal!

- Voxeros

11 April 2014

Microwave Poached Egg - The First Try


It all started with the above facebook post from Ellen.

Having my fair share of *ahem* experimenting with the microwave oven, I have come to learn never to put an egg in the microwave without first poking a hole in the yolk.

Hence, I got curious with this recipe that specifically says to keep the yolk intact.


So. Step 1. I got ready the slice of bread and lather it with a layer of mayo. Didn't have lettuce in my crisper and so I guess the end product would turn out slightly different. *shrugs*


Step 2. Egg. Checked. Mug with 1/3 full of water. Checked.


Step 3: Break egg carefully into cup WITHOUT breaking the yolk. Checked.


Step 4: Into the microwave on high for 1 minute. By the way, that's my Vietnamese coffee brewing on top.


Eh. How come the picture in the recipe is a Jupiter planet, mine is Saturn? Here's the problem. The transparent liquid in the middle is water or uncooked egg white?

Well, the recipe DID say that it is permissible to pop it back into the microwave to nuke it for an additional 10 secs to have it a little bit more cooked.

I was thinking heck lah..... a bit more cooked better lah. What is another 10 extra seconds on top of that 10 extra seconds?


And to quote my dear friend Ellen.....

dibabom.

The egg flew out of the cup and the egg white was plastered everywhere.


So Ellen, buy that air ticket and fly over. The microwave oven is not going to clean itself.



Afternote: Undeterred, I am going to give it another try this weekend. Perhaps with a hand on the power knob the next time round.

Click Here To Proceed To ->
- Voxeros

09 April 2014

MYP Award Ceremony 2014

On to the next decade as we are into our 11th year of the Maximise Your Potential Ceremony.

While we do not have the type of stellar growth that Uncle Tony's Willing Hearts project has, we are nevertheless happy with the way we are.

Read on for Adrian's letter to everyone with details of the ceremony.

Do come down and join us. RSVP, please.

+++++

Dear friends,

The Maximize Your Potential (MYP) programme is into its 2nd decade, 11 years to be exact.

You are invited to join the 11th MYP award ceremony on 12th April 2014 (Saturday)

Time: 10:00 – 11:30
Venue: Geylang Methodist School (Primary), 2nd floor Library.

Our guest speaker this year is Byron Teo. Byron, a “newly-promoted father”, who ran the Standard Chartered Marathon in Dec 2013 and raised $2,061 for RunForFunds (RFF) which supports the MYP programme.

He will share some pearls of wisdom to inspire our MYP recipients.

Come, meet and inspire the MYP recipients you have sponsored via the Run For Funds (RFF).

Your support has made a difference to more than 70 young lives in the past decade.

Visit the RFF facebook to recap those magical MYP moments: https://www.facebook.com/RunForFunds.

Please email, whatsapp or SMS me to RSVP (for catering purposes).

Thanks for your continued support of the RFF movement.


Blessings,

Adrian

+++++
- Voxeros

02 April 2014

Princess QQLand Syndrome



Was forwarded this video clip of a local program where it is sort of a couples' counseling session, except that it is on National TV for all to see. Talk about dirty linen in public!

The girl obviously is Stage 4 Princess Syndrome where you want to slap her until she stick wall.

But the real kicker is right at the end. Watch for yourself to the end as I don't want to spoiler this.

 - Voxeros

01 April 2014

Rain Rain Rain

 


Had this been deliberate, it would have made an awesome indoor display. This is Festival Walk in Kowloon Tong, Hong Kong, recently acquired by Singapore's Mapletree Investments.

 
The Hong Kong Drainage Services Department called it "once in 200 years". I am sure he hasn't been following Singapore news in recent years.

Given that Hong Kong encounters severe weather on an annual basis (read: typhoon season), perhaps they are more astute when it comes to making such a statement? I am willing to place a bet to say we won't have to wait another 200 years to encounter yet another mega storm.

We've certainly learned our lesson when our own big mouth then-Minister of Environment and Natural Resources said that the big flood of 2009 was "once in 50 years", only to have another subsequent mega flood shortly after.

The dumb folks at PUB trying to dumb (no pun intended) down the Orchard Road flood of 2011 to that of ponding. Riiight.

What I am trying to say here is this. Ladies and Gentlemen, meet the mighty force of Mother Nature. I think it is naive of us tiny humans to think that we can actually yield it into submission.


I think the main reason of us getting into all sorts of natural disaster troubles is that we do not respect Mother Nature enough. We belittle the wrath of destruction that Mother Nature can bring.

I am not saying that we should all just give up hope but instead fear it more than we are doing right now. That would keep us on our toes and be ever vigilant in anticipation of crisis. While I cannot guarantee that will eliminate all losses, we could at the very least keep them to a minimum.

Had we been more diligent with the maintenance of the drainage system at Festival Walk, we would have prevented the "waterfall". Complacency has been our downfall many a time in history. Too many times are we experts on 20-20 hindsight.

It's time to stop this bad habit.


- Voxeros

27 March 2014

Chicken Climbs Tree

This incident happened on the evening of 25 Mar 2014 in the NanNing City of GuangXi. It was an anti-vice sweep targeting street walkers trawling the parks in the evenings.

Many were arrested and this particular one climbed up a tree to avoid capture.


As you can see in the picture, how thin was the branch that she was perched on. Perhaps the cops didn't want to take further action at the point was for her own personal safety.


I find this picture the most amusing of the lot. Look at the number of people gawking at her! I don't see how she is going to Houdini out of this!


Quite an artistic shot this? No? Anyway, do check out how dangerously high she has climbed.


Ahh..... the legs are starting to tire or perhaps she was going to pee like the suicide attempt girl in my earlier entry? --> JayWalk Online (10 Nov 2009) - Bizarre Suicide Attempt In China


Even squatting will be tiring after a while as this girl is attempting to sit on the branch instead? Frankly, capture is inevitable and so I am not sure what she was thinking. Perhaps she was hoping to frustrate the cops into giving up?


Looks like the local cops this week all no need to buy 4D/TOTO liao.

At the end of it all, she had to come down and be arrested finally.

The twist to this whole saga was that when they established her identity, the cops realized that she was in actual fact, a man!

Wow.

There is an old Chinese saying 狗急跳墙, 人急生计 (The panicked dog jumps the wall, the panicked man hatch a plan).

In this particular case, one may have to adapt that 鸡急爬树 (The panicked cock climbs the tree).


Image Credit: http://www.netease.com

- Voxeros

11 March 2014

Checkpoint Breach


I am not going to go into how this is the second border breach blah blah blah.

I was watching the CCTV clip and three things came to my mind.

Three things not right.

First, were the police officers. Noticed how everyone just standing around not knowing what to do?

Were there no SOP/drills to handle such a scenario?

Why did everyone appear to be clueless?

What about the second police officer who took out and extended his telescopic baton? Then what? Only know how to wave wave menacingly without any real commitment. NATO. Wayang only.

Come on! Smash that goddamn window already!

Mind you, this isn't a mere trying to sneak into the country. This was a blatant broad daylight in-your-face breach of our sovereign border. I'd say smash that bladdy window and shoot the bugger (to wound/disable) already! At such a close range, hard to miss then accidentally kill right?

What I saw was hesitation. It was very much the same during the Little India Riot. In my humble opinion, I do not think that our boys in blue froze at time of crisis. Perhaps what was more crippling was the worry of the consequences of their action(s) at that critical moment. It was a time where the situation calls for one or more of these officers to take action WITHOUT permission/approval from a higher up first.

I may be wrong here but it appears nobody wishes to gamble by sticking his neck out. What if the said officer were to be accused of "excessive violence"? Heaven forbids we discharge a weapon! Loss of job? Career hentak kaki?

During the COI of the Little India Riot, we saw that those who took positive action received commendation while those who cowardly dragged their feet trying to find someone to pass the buck first before doing his/her job got stick.

Something is not right.


The second item on my list of "something not right" was the cat claws road barrier whose Gandalf purpose was to prevent any vehicle from passing.

From the video clip, we can see that it was working properly. There was no malfunction which suggests that there is no issue in the maintenance of this device.

The ICA claimed that it did not work "optimally" but it appears to me that it DID NOT WORK. PERIOD.

That brings us to the question if due diligence of evaluating this device at public tender time. Was there a lapse in competence and/or negligence when we awarded the relevant contracts to install this, which at crunch time failed to fulfill what it had promised to do?

Perhaps we need a COI for this too.

Lastly, it was reported that the cat claws punctured two of the four tyres.

Question 1: Why didn't the cat claws puncture all four tyres? Something in the design needs to be reviewed, which brings us back to point No.2. Was the due diligence on the product diligently done?

Question 2: With 2 of the 4 tyres punctured, how is it that we can't locate the chiongster until 5 hours later. Was it THAT difficult to chase a car with only 2 out of 4 healthy tyres?

We need a shitload of COIs this coming year.

- Voxeros

06 March 2014

World's Most Expensive City



So we have now become the world's most expensive city  according to the Economist Intelligence Unit's Worldwide Cost Of Living Index 2014 Report.

Essentially, it is an aggregate score of a basket of items, one of which is the price of a car.

So that kinda got me thinking.

WHAT IF.......

...we are to take the price of a car out of this aggregate score calculation?

The way I see it, the price of a car in Singapore is ridiculously expensive to the extent that it doesn't, imho, offer justifiable utility to own one.

Good thing we are a small island country where in time to come (soon), our subway system would be able to cover almost every corner of this land, sans the occasional breakdown here and there and here and there and here and.....

I am sure our Gahmen are already on hand to tackle the issue of frequent breakdowns for we, the voters will have a say in getting the right guy for the transport ministry. We will replace any incompetent minister with our vote and we will continue doing it every 5 years until we get the right guy.

With the ruling party getting only a mere 60% of the popular vote in the 2011 General Elections, the day where we have the option to pick an alternative candidate from the opposition pool may just be sooner than we think.

If the ruling party cannot find the right person for the job, then perhaps we should try someone else from alternative parties.

But I digress.

So coming back to the topic on hand. I was thinking since the average Singaporean CAN do without owning a car due to our relatively awesome public transport, sans breakdowns, why not take that out of the equation?

Oh. Some may say that owning a car gives you the freedom to go anywhere, anytime in comfort. Well, if you wallet allows it, take the taxi which would still be cheaper than owning a car.

Wait? What's that you say? No cab during peak period especially during thunder storms or near midnight? Well, if you can't sit back, relax and wait for the peak period to be over i.e. you die-die-money-no-object must get to a certain place, a certain time, there is always UBER Singapore.

While we are cutting back on luxuries, perhaps we should also take into consideration giving up alcohol, tobacco and gambling, given the tax hike as announced in the latest budget recently.

When one is living on meager resources, one should be able to forgo the able three items that are already expensive even before the latest tax increase.

A dram, a shot, a glass or a mug is nice to have but not essential. Tobacco is bad for the health which will cost you even more when your medical bills start coming in later in life. And then there's gambling where it is well, just bad.

So, if we are to take out these items from the calculation, would we still rank No.1?

I would like to believe that we won't, albeit we'd probably still be in the Top 20.

My point in this entry is this.

There is no need to panic right now. Singapore is NOT THAT expensive to the extent that you can't survive.

You'll live. Trust me. Just need to keep your material pursuits in check and you'll do just fine.

Image Credit: http://i2.cdn.turner.com (CNN Edition: International); http://www.bloomberg.com; http://www.straitstimes.com

- Voxeros

08 January 2014

Plane Vs Train

When I was in Singapore, we used to have this debate whether it is faster to fly to Kuala Lumpur or just take a coach.

On paper, it appears to be a no-brainer since it is merely a 45-minute flight but since 9/11, the whole airport checking + security process take a much longer time. Coupled that with the fact that airports are located further away from the city i.e. your final destination, the 5-hour coach ride up the North-South Highway may not be any slower.

We figured that it takes the same amount of time to get to KL via both modes of transportation. The coach's advantage is that of a more comfortable ride, mobile broadband access throughout and cheaper fare, while the good thing about taking to the skies is that air travel is the safest mode of transportation.

So anyway, I decided to put the same test on my Shanghai to Beijing trip back in November 2013.

To be honest, I was secretly hoping that the train will win with Ch1na being infamous for flight delays.

I booked the 10am train where the station is only 10 minutes away from me. However, due to the morning traffic, I needed 40 minutes to get to the train station.

Unlike airport where you are advised to arrive 2 hours before departure, the train boarding gate opens 15 minutes before departure and security check is only putting through your luggage through the x-ray which takes about 5 minutes.

Counting back, I booked a cab and left my place at 9am on the dot.


What I like about the train is that the seats, as you can see from the photos below, are more spacious and there is on-board power outlet even in second-class cabin.

Like the coach, there is cellular signal available for your mobile voice/data use. However, since the tracks are laid in remote parts of civilisation, signal coverage can be very spotty. I am not sure if the speed of the train has an effect on the quality of signal as well.

In short, voice call is terrible and data signal is few and far between. I gave up trying to pick up signal eventually.


The whole journey was 1200km and at a cruising speed of 300 km/h the journey was completed punctually in 4 hours 55 minutes.

The estimated arrival time of 14:55pm train was spot on as picture in the schedule above.

So we now move on to flying.

For the sake of comparison, I tracked 4 flights that I would take if I were to leave me place at 9am as well.

The cab ride to the airport is the same as the train station as both buildings are located side by side.

Following the 2-hour before departure rule, I should be taking the 11am flight. So the 4 flights that I earmarked were CA 1832 (departing at 10:55am), MU 5139 (departing at 11:30am), HU 7608 (departing at 10:55am) and MU 5107 (departing at 11:00am).


As it turned out, one of the four flights was canceled. So score one for the rail. Two were punctual (Surprise! Surprise!) and one was delayed albeit by a mere 20 minutes.

The punctual flights were about 1-1/2 hours earlier than the train and even the delayed flight arrive an hour ahead of the train. Factoring in the journey time from airport to final destination, flying still come up on top.

Verdict?

Anything above 4 hours (or 800km) and flying will have an advantage over rail, even with a slight delay.

Rail would only be the ideal choice if time is on par with flying.
- Voxeros
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