Join Me for Next Training

New Year Resolution for 2008: Swim faster, Run longer, maybe return to cycling.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Cyclingturtle took a break. A big break.

He just hit the restart button.

He will still keep his mantras:

Slow and Steady Wins the Race;
No Pain, No Gain;
With GOD, Nothing is Impossible

And he's gonna return as... ...

Left Armstrong

But he's still gonna keep this site running,

And it's just the beginning.


Tuesday, September 05, 2006

new balance aquathlon 2006: transition IC

'transitions' - another triathlon photo by chenmunn

i might as well put myself to better use since i'm taking a break from endurance sports, and also hone my 'skills' as a triathlon official. hence i signed up as the transition ic under the wings of colonel lum.
besides just taking part in multisports, i got to see the nitty-gritty aspects of race organisation. even the transitioning areas had a system.

Thursday, August 24, 2006


A glimpse of the remarkable father-son bond of Dick and Rick Hoyt, and their inspirational journey together in a triathlon and life itself.

Music: "I Can Only Imagine" by Mercy Me

Video produced by unknown person(s); passed on by Tom C.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

revealed: x(ray) files

pre-surgery (23 july 2006)

exhibit 1: left forearm and hand; this is not the elbow

exhibit 2: view of the mid sections of the left ulnar and radius bones

exhibit 3: view of the broken ulnar head (bottom right of pic) near the wrist bones

post surgery review (22 aug 2006)

exhibit 4: view of screws and plates at the mid ulnar and radius, and k-wires at the ulnar head (notice the gaps between the broken bones)

Posted by Picasa

Thursday, August 17, 2006

revealed: R18 (cabaret) rating

now 18 year olds are legally allowed to watch foreign 'artistic' tittie shows, thanks to MDA's new rating for them to patronise Crazy Horse (read: Crazy Horse business is dying, so the authorities need to find a way to 'save' Crazy Horse from the brink of extinction).

what interests me about the new rating is not so much about the rating in itself, but by the excuses the authorities churn out to justify themselves. the article claims that singapore is a very family-oriented destination for tourists and that the new ratings allow families with 18 year olds to visit Dying Horse (oops, I meant Crazy Horse).

thing is, i recall that the very purpose for the existence of crazy horse (and clarke quay for that matter) was to cater to the MICE crowd - yes, it was meant to be entertainment fodder for visitors coming into singapore for meetings, incentives, conferences, and events. i doubt a significant percentage of these visitors bring their entire families along. maybe their spouses, but not the kids as well. furthermore, what is the percentage of 'kids' beyond 18 years old tag along on holiday trips?

even if there are some 18 to 21 year olds who tag along, how significant would the increase in visitorship be, specifically those who visit crazy horse?

look, i am perturbed by these justifications. i know the authorities are desperate to make this crazy horse work. after all, it took them months and months and tons and tons of cutting red tape to bring in this show. how could they afford to lose face, right? i just find their justifications stupid, because they make us singaporeans stupid enough to believe them.

i'm calling their bluff. they are targetting the ns boys. crazy horse is losing money to the no-holds-barred ktv lounges.

i'd say the next thing on the cards will be discounted fares for servicemen and they'll be promoting the place for army unit social nights.

it makes perfect business sense. if only the authorities would be more straightforward and transparent in the first place. quit the excuses lah...

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

you must be joking, joakim!

come on, singapore! it's time to be united so STOP VOTING JOAKIM AS YOUR FAVOURITE IDOL!

he's such an embarrassment to singing that i'm NOT embarrased to admit i'm watching the stupid show on the telly! the show's a quest to find the best singer, and not the cutest idiot! and our local teeny-boppers are a zit-popping, braces-cladded mass of mindless cuckoos to choose the boring, flat-toned joakim every single week!

face it, kids. if you are reading this, please do not shame yourself by not understanding what the singapore idol is all about. if there are teachers amongst my readers, please do your part to save the last hope for singapore's future music scene. please educate those brainless kids:

1. that each bloody call or sms is worth 60 cents! they can call or sms all they want but none of the money will go to making joakim any cuter. neither will he appreciate you 60 cents (or more) if he gets saved (or for that matter, get booted out!);

2. that singing is a talent, not a joke;

3. that music is beautiful, not the face that looks cute and/or dances like a court-jester;

4. that joakim is better off focusing on other talents (read: NOT singing), and kids should focus on other real singing talents.

it just goes to show how narrow-minded our kids are. it's such a shame because this is the only time to exercise their voting rights and they choose idiots/non-talented clowns to be their idol.

it is no wonder our government has no faith in the younger generation: what if they grow up and they vote for idiots to lead the country?

i will not be surprised. and i'm not joking.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

tribute to all who did the NUS Tri...

triathlon photo by chenmunn; all rights reserved

the trials of organising the first-ever city race,
the sleepless nights and countless pails of vomit
from entertaining the authorities.
the days prior to the race,
the night before.
the triathletes who believed
in the committee,
and in themselves.
the elements they braved,
the uncertainties they faced,
the traffic lights they dutifully stopped.
they started,
and they completed.
well done lads!

Friday, August 11, 2006

ayam what ayam. ayam singaporean

ayam singaporean
- my red & white tribute to singapore -

condiments and coffeeshop talk;

handicapped are my actions and thoughts.
but are we prepared as a nation?

i'd say YES, it's worth an ovation!
 Posted by Picasa

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Our dreams, our singapore? really?

this year's national day song is quite similar to those that were composed years past. all of them instill that nostalgic sense of patriotism and hopes and blahblahblah that subliminally tells you this message:

'this is singapore. she has treated you damn well. you better contribute in return, and remember singapore is your home.'

nothing wrong with that. singapore has done well. we have excellent healthcare (trust me, i know!), a generally hardworking lot of citizens, and a great defense plan amongst other things. but are all singaporeans treated equally? are all singaporeans given the same opportunities?

can we really call singapore our home?

where are our dreams?

let's take kaira gong's example. she was the cute lass that sang this year's ndp song - my island home. gong's song proclaims that she will never forget singapore, nor will singapore forget her, and dreams are born everyday. apart from getting a chance to be in this year's ndp limelight, she is otherwise honing her talent (read: living her dreams) in taiwan. there are many countless examples like her - TALENTS living out their dreams at places that give them the opportunity to do so. can we really say she's 'homegrown'?

the local university turned me down several times. i remember making an enquiry several years back about returning home to complete my university studies. i was blatantly told by a university admissions officer that i will never get a chance to study in singapore simply because i turned down a position to do my undergrad in "a world class (farce) university". my subsequent applications to do my masters were turned down and given to many students who coincidentally have 2-syllable chinese names. and to think that my industry has only a handful of us practicing, this is rather a statistical anomaly. either that, or i've been forgotten. where is my singapore?

i am living out my dreams, but where is the singapore helping me to live up to them?

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

DD-02aug06- duh! social skills findings

i shall name my daily digest ramblings and opinions as DD from now on.

anyway, today's 'featured' article is on's study that suggests that youths involved in arts or social activities have better social skills.

i think this is a rather duh! study. i mean, it's quite obvious that involvement in such activities would build character and well-being.

i am - like many others - a living proof of a person who has the social survival skills relevant to take on the challenges in life.

i've known of social introverts who were deprived of such activities whilst growing up. perhaps due to physical constraints or (lack of) parental approval, kids deprived of joining certain activities grow up to be very boring people. somehow you don't see the zest of life in them, or the enthusiasm in joining group activities. i sometimes wonder how they survive at all. after all, life is so exciting and there's so much to learn!

i also feel that this study will spur a different type of people to surface. these are the kiasu people who, after reading about such findings, force themselves and/or their children to join social activities for the sake of gaining social skills. i believe it's very wrong to do so, and it negates the very purpose of socialising.

it's socialising for the wrong intention.

i'm not sure about the current situation in schools, but some years ago, schoolchildren needed to accumulate CCA points to get into university. points were given based on the appointment/rank of the student in the particular CCA. the problem with this was that many appointments were made up, and many students took on roles which they were not suited for. the important goal for them were to rack up as many points as possible regardless if they had the leadership quality or not!

did joining such activities actually make them better people, or did it churn out selfish 'leaders'?

i personally recall the absolute lack of leadership qualities in some of these 'leaders'. in fact, it was absolutely disgusting to think that people resort to such means.

unfortunately, all kinds of people make the world go round. whether or not one's social skills are improved will also largely depend on personal intentions and the sheer passion to lead.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

humans will become more stupid with...

... those reverse sensors in new cars!

whoever invented them must have thought it was a genius idea to assist people in parking their cars.

it's the worse invention ever! now the world of stupid drivers are fully reliant on the endless beepings that tell them if they are too near a kerb or another car!

whatever happened to human instinct called 'estimation' and 'gut-feel'?

without the use of our own human capabilities, relying on the incessant beeping will just numb the sensory human brain!

there goes the human race......

not for the faint-hearted

there are 23 stitches for this one.

14 stitches for the wrist; 12 more for the one below.

 Posted by Picasa

stitches, scars and splints

just got back from my appointments at NUH. ulna and radius bones are setting quite nicely and are held by titanium plate-strips and screws. the wrist bones are held up by pins that look like hairpins. doc says i have to be careful with the wrist movements so i ought to protect it as much as possible. the therapist remolded my splint (called a Munster cast) to fit my arm and wrist which have subsided in swelling.

the cast i'm wearing is called a Munster Cast. i kid you not.

that scar is about 10cm long. i didn't count the number of stitches.

there are also stitches on my wrist (L-shaped), and another 8cm long one slightly below.
 Posted by Picasa

daily digest - 01 aug 2006

think i'll start a new series to document my thoughts on the daily news feeds i gather from agencies such as channelnewsasia and slate.

1. the public transport council has recently made some guidelines to the public transport operators to basically buck up on their service standards. i'm personally sick of SMRT's tardy frequency of especially the 980 service. i used to think i could pinpoint (alright give and take 5 minutes) the time my bus would arrive every morning. but that's not the case for service 980. i could wait for half an hour before a sardine-packed bus arrives. sometimes there's even an emptier 980 that follows closely behind the front human-canning machine. i believe that the upstream traffic condition does not warrant such phenomenon to occur on an almost daily routine - the only 'consistent' gripe being the fact that the buses do not arrive on time. now, commuters must brace themselves for a farehike. do we, commuters, have a choice if SMRT decides on a farehike while ignoring micro service levels such as the 980 case? i say we don't really have much of a choice for several reasons.
- there are only 2 operators - SBSTRANSIT and SMRT. but seriously, so what if there's an increase in fares? we still have to take our buses to our destinations. what's worse, these two buggers run the rail lines as well. bummer.
- we have EZlink cards which automatically deduct the 'correct' fare. i'm not encouraging fare cheats, but we cannot really 'control' how much we pay for our trips, right? all the more it's 'convenient' for both commuter and public transport operator to use the automated EZlink system. so how would a fare hike affect the commuters? minimal. we pumped in our monthly $50 credit into our EZlink cards and hope to stretch the travel dollar. with the increase in fares, the stretch is thinner, that's all. the initial monthly $50-sized hole in the pocket is already burned.

2. there's gonna be another big adventure race by action asia after a one-year hiatus. i read the article with abit of salt and scorn, because i can relate to the organisor's woes and tons of vomit from 'working' with the local authorities. i'd say that 'mr. madness' put it very diplomatically that the government departments are showing positive support. erm... 'showing positive support' is very different from 'acting upon it'. RED TAPE, RED TAPE, RED TAPE! the red tapes are all caused by the uniquely singaporean trait of kiasuism and the fact that the public officers handling the case are not empowered to make clever decisions. what happens? they bring the case up to their immediate supervisors (as rannk and file reporting must be strictly adhered to). sometimes the case gets heard but most of the time the 'creative streak' stops right there. dead. i wish action asia the best of luck, not so much on the event, but in tackling some incompetent deadweight in the service.

Monday, July 31, 2006

the putty in my left hand

small, indistinct, shapeless, and pink!

but the best thing to work with at this point in time. Posted by Picasa

baby steps

today, i finally managed to cut my fingernails.

daily therapy from that piece of pink silly putty strengthened my left thumb and fingers.

don't laugh at such a seemingly simple and mundane task.

it's progress. i'm happy.

next task: make a complete 'thumbs up' sign with my left thumb.

about the flag...

Sunday, July 30, 2006

who wouldn't want the heathier alternative?

i refer to this article which says that the health ministry is going to launch a programme to get hawkers to use heathier ingredients in their cooking.

i may be ignorant, but i didn't know that we could ask for healthier alternatives when ordering our food at hawker centers. i mean, i knew i had the right to request for extra chilli or requesting not to have pork liver or cockles. but asking for low saturated fat?

how many hawkers would even bat an eyelid to your requests for special 'heathier' alternative ingredients?

just look at our type of 'singapore' food: laksa, chicken rice, char kway teow.

would switching to low-fat saturated oils make a difference? in taste or in authenticity?

also, doesn't it boil down to cost of ingredients? i've heard of hawkers buying very cheap low-grade cooking oils and ingredients, just so their profit margins are bigger.

'cheaper' ingredients and 'heathier' ingredients don't seem to complement each other in terms of hawker economics.

so what if i want my 'heathier' char kway teow? will the hawker accede to my request? at what expense (if any)?

then let's look at the first paragraph of the article:

"Half of all Singaporeans will likely benefit from eating healthier hawker fare, if it's prepared using low-fat saturated oils and condensed milk. "

i'm sure the consumer would welcome the heathier choice. but would the hawker be prepared?

how is the health ministry tacking this? there's no use in encouraging singaporeans to eat healthy when the costs of ingredients remains high.

my only link to getting me back to singapore

i bought this RoadID several months back because i was sick of carrying my IC around during training and during races. i bought it also as a statement to tell others that it was important to carry a form of ID around, whether swimming, cycling, running, hiking, or even going for a holiday. other than attaching it to my wrist on days of training and racing, the RoadID would be velcroed on my crumpler bag when i go to work or bring it outdoors.

engraved on the RoadID are my name, NRIC, nationality, parents' phone numbers, blood group, drug allergies (NKDA - no known drug allergies), and my mantra - Luke 1:37 (For nothing is impossible with God)

i chose yellow because it replicates the Livestrong band, which is also a motivating symbol that nothing is impossible.

last sunday at port dickson and seremban, the effectiveness of the RoadID came into full use.

my crash during the port dickson tri left me with nothing except my trisuit, polar hrm, one cycling glove, and my RoadID. i didn't even have my eyeglasses or footwear with me. no passport, no mobile phone. nothing else.

and no one could converse in english, except the doctors. and my behasa melayu was limited.

my left arm suffered compound fractures with a puncture wound. i was conscious but losing some blood.

my RoadID was the only form of identification that i kept pointing out to medical staff that i was singaporean. the details on it were exactly the ones i needed them to know. i made sure i didn't lose sight of my vital RoadID even when they took it out to copy the information.

my RoadID also reminded me to keep focused on God and to rely on Him to get me out of the situation safely.

imagine if i was unconscious.

my RoadID just motivated the rest of the gang to get theirs soonest possible. i think the store in US must be processing a bulk order from singapore now. :) Posted by Picasa

published? frontcover?

i received this edition of sportmag in the mail yesterday. me? in the frontcover? heehee.... Posted by Picasa

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Justice League Superheroes: Iron Maiden meets Ironmunn

Pau came to visit me this morning with Albert and Andy Smallcircle. Pau had similar injuries sustained 2 weeks before mine at the Singapore OSIM Triathlon.

she broke her right arm but she's a leftie, while i'm a rightie who broke the left arm.

she gave me lots of valuable advise. at least i know what is expected in time to come.

we'll take on the challenges ahead with our iron fists! Posted by Picasa

Friday, July 28, 2006

mobility 101: accepting the fact; appreciating the mundane

it's the 2nd day since i got home from the hospital.

it's no joke figuring how to do the chores with just one hand and relearning the use of the other. on the one hand, i can do the job, but on the other hand i can't.... yeah, the pun was intended. :)

it's a whole new discovery - the pain, patience, and consequent accomplishments through sweat, blood and tears. literally. every single baby step is accomplishment, and that means progress towards recovery.

i have no idea how long recuperation will take, but i believe - to a certain extent - it's up to the individual's determination, patience, and threshold for pain.

no pain, no gain.

today, i managed to wrap my left arm with clingwrap so i could shower without getting my wounds wet.

i also managed to hang the laundry out to dry, and it took thrice the normal time taken plus lots of perspiration.

i tried to clip my right-hand fingernails with my left hand, but i don't have enough strength to press on the nailclippers. i couldn't even handle simple lever mechanisms. i've decided to reject help from mom to cut my nails. just because i want to cut them myself as i built strength in my left digits. that would be a milestone, however mundane it seems.

i'm still typing with one hand. not too bad.

mom also got me some therapy putty to squeeze. it's like squeezing playdoh and constantly molding it with your hands and fingers. not easy when you're trying to regain strength. sometimes there's pain, and then i'll stop.

slowly but surely. i'll get there.

it's as if i'm only at the starting line-up of an OD triathlon. but there's a finishing line.

i'll get there.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

thank you all!, from the bottom of the one-arm munndit's heart

dear all,

it's been a long journey getting my arm fixed and it's gonna be a long road to recovery. despite the hassle and pain, i am determined to get this over and done with. it's no joke trying to accomplish even the most mundane of chores - stretching a rubberband, showering, holding a fork, etc. yes, i can type but it's not easy to do punctuation too.

anyway, it's also very tiring to type long letters coz i have to prop my left arm at 90 degrees so there's no swelling.

my scars are ugly. i am frankenmunn. but they serve as a reminder for many things.

thanks to all who have sent their wishes and goodwill.

thanks to everyone who helped me and my barang home safely. it's great to come home for treatment. that's why i kept smiling.

thanks to all who came over for a visit. your presence brightened up my day.

i would like to reassure all that the ironmunn experience is not one to be taken lightly. i broke the mid section of the ulna and radial bones, and shattered my wristbones. there are enough metal pieces in me to set airport security alarms off. on the bright side, you can stick notes and fridge magnets on my left arm. my left arm is heavier than some of your bikes. dig that. i'm home recovering now.

bionicmunn? let's rest first. i intend to 'ctrl', 'alt', 'del' myself. reset myself.

what do i mean?

'ctrl': regain control of my mobility in my left hand.
'alt': alternate forms of exercise - pilates and lots of therapy.
'del': delete the past and look forward. whether i get back to tri, i will leave that to the willingness of my body.

for now, i might see you on the starting line of 10km stanchart. i'll restart my journey from there.



Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Munn down! Munn down!

i just got back from the national university hospital after spending 4 days there. broke my left forearm in 3 places - mid ulna, mid radial, and smashed my wrist bones during the port dickson tri. now undergoing therapy to regain mobility of the left hand.

will write more.

it isn't easy typing with one hand... but nothing is possible....

and everything is possible with God.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Be careful now. You wouldn't want to be caught flying the State Flag for an extra day, would you?

This is another thing about Singapore I just don't understand.

Here's a report stating that rules would be relaxed for flying the national flag.

Until most recently, the national flag could only be displayed at residences in the month of August, which happens to be the month for national day celebrations.

"Some" Singaporeans have expressed that they wish to fly the flag earlier in July. So the Ministry of Information, Communication, and the Arts (MICA) is allowing residents to do so, albeit on a TRIAL BASIS.

What the heck should the basis for this trial be? Why must everything be 'on a trial basis'?

It just goes to show something about some of our decision/policy makers:

1. They are so uniquely Singaporean kiasu,
2. They don't trust Singaporeans that the flag can be flown appropriately in the month of July (or for a slightly extended period),
3. They don't trust themselves in making the policy - they don't think a simple extension of flag-flying would work!

Just let the flag be displayed and be flown without all these barriers and 'trial periods'.

Let Singaporeans be proud of their flag! Let's go back to the meaning of our national flag and celebrate our unity and brotherhood as Singaporeans!

Friday, July 07, 2006

Up Your Sir's Ass

I know, I know I'm sounding crude here. Sorry. I apologise.

My entry is based on this media report: Singapore can achieve superior service standards in 2 years. The statement was said by this American service guru called Ron Kaufman, who is also the author of 'Up Your Service'.

First of all, what the heck is a 'service guru'? Does coming from America make a person a 'guru' of sorts? So he knows alot about service? Does he know about different cultural types of 'service'? How about cross-cultural service, for example how an Asian might treat a gwai-loh?

And what is that sweeping statement all about? Define 'superior service standards'. It's not like your regular 'superior shark fin soup', mind you!

I don't think it takes a guru to rate anyone's service standards. If it's bad, it's bad. If it's worth the commendation, then service will be rewarded. And so he claims that Singapore can achieve superior service standards in 2 years.

Someone please take note of this for the Joke of the Week.

Also, the report mentioned a fine example of service quality in Lim Ah Buay, who visits patients even after they are discharged! You know why she got mentioned? Because she keeps asking people if they have drank enough!

"Lim Ah Buay?"
"Lim liao" or "Ah Buay Lim"

Okay... so that was a classic FOS moment. I just had to let it out.

Another thing irks me. Some civil servants actually have to go to the Up Your Service College to be certified.

If we're going to be Japanese standard in service, then it's gonna take more than 2 years. Trust me, coz I'm also a service guru. Really.

I'm back!

Alright folks!

I'm back! Actually I was 'released' about 2 weeks ago but I didn't have the time to update. Rest assured, I have many things to write about and I promise to insert my thoughts as we go along.

I'm gonna talk about the 3G Army transformation and how it has got a positive impact on me.

I'll also talk about some World Cup stuff.

Then there'll always be the transportation / trafficky stuff I'll bitch about as usual.

Stay tuned.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Uncle Lee Wants Me!

Yeap.... I'll be away from the blogosphere for a little while. I'll have very limited access to the internet while I'm away.

I'll be doing my country proud. I'll be protecting you.

I'll be away for reservist. In fact, I'm already in the midst of reservist.

Will be done on 23 June 2006.

I'll try to update my blog as I go along... but sorry, I cannot leak out secrets.

I'm only doing my duty as a responsible citizen of Singapore. I've come this far in realising that my country's defence is top notch and I'm not going to reveal any secrets in my blog to compromise the security of my country.

Friday, June 09, 2006

The Reason

I'm not a perfect person
There's many things I wish I didn't do
But I continue learning
I never meant to do those things to you
And so I have to say before I go
That I just want you to know

I've found a reason for me
To change who I used to be
A reason to start over new
and the reason is you

I'm sorry that I hurt you
It's something I must live with everyday
And all the pain I put you through
I wish that I could take it all away
And be the one who catches all your tears
That's why I need you to hear

I've found a reason for me
To change who I used to be
A reason to start over new

and the reason is you
and the reason is you
and the reason is you
and the reason is you

I'm not a perfect person
I never meant to do those things to you
And so I have to say before I go
That I just want you to know

I've found a reason for me
To change who I used to be
A reason to start over new
and the reason is you

I've found a reason to show
A side of me you didn't know
A reason for all that I do
And the reason is you

- The Reason, Hoobastank

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Grandiose hopes from the Manpower Ministry

What is the Manpower Minister thinking when he said that Singapore aims to be the world's best services workforce?

What is services workforce? What is world's best?

I'm sorry but Singapore services seriously lacks in COURTESY, PRODUCT KNOWLEDGE, and BASIC COMMONSENSE. Couple that with the severe lack of empowerment with regards to decision-making, his statement of aiming to be world's best is a tall order.

There are so many examples to choose from when it comes to lousy services compared with what other countries give. Mind you, being able to serve is usually in-built in a person's character. How to have such world's best services if we are so stiff and stifled?

Take for example if a diner finds out that there is something wrong with his food order. He tells the waiter. What would be the reaction of the waiter?

1. Act blur. Stand there like goblok and don't know what to do.
2. Call his supervisor, who will call his manager, who will call owner....
3. Automatically replace the offending order, no questions asked

How about those waiters at japanese restaurants who holler some japanese greeting everytime a diner enters the restaurant. Let me ask how many staff actually mean what they say WITH A SMILE?

Too many examples....

It's a tall order. The Manpower Ministry can keep dreaming. Please come up with something more down-to-earth and realistic. This seems to me like sweet talk.

Learning from migratory birds

I was in Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve last Saturday morning. Some people would know that Sungei Buloh is a refuelling stop for many migratory birds flying in from the north to escape the harsh winters.

These birds travel thousands and thousands of miles non-stop!

They are masters of fuelling and efficiency. There must be some sort of weight-to-food intake ratio for sustaining the endurance flight. We have also seen the V-shaped flight patterns of some bird species - supposedly drafting techniques to save on energy resources. Each bird taking turns to 'pull' the rest through the air stream, while the rest sucking in the vacuum of least air resistance. I'm sure there must also be the 'prefect' angle of deviation to achieve the best draft.

There's so much to learn from migratory birds that can be used in the science of triathlon.

Simply awe-inspiring and amazing!

Friday, June 02, 2006

Joe, Trish and Choonwei

Here's introducing 3 of the Singaporeans going for Ironman Canada!

Choonwei the Zoomway
Freelance web designer by day, strong cyclist by night.
Not only he bikes and runs much faster than most of us,
but he sure eats a lot!
Legend says he got a superworm in his system,
but that ain't gonna stop this single, eligible dude
from taking part in his first IM this August!

Tricia "Aqueous"

Don't let this little girl fool you either,

she'll beat you on the swim, bike, run and on the trails.

Her mental focus and determination will bring her to the finishing line.

With ease. Anytime.

Joe the Relac-wan-korner "Blow"

You'll hear him from miles away.

He'll walk faster than you can speed on your BMX.

His breaststroke will put a jetski company out of business

And he's only doing triathlons for fun!

Mapledreams: 5 S'poreans Help Others By Attempting Their Own Achievements

Come 27 August this year, 5 Singaporean youths will race in the Ironman Canada at Penticton, British Columbia. That is a gruelling 3.8km swim, 180km bike, followed by a full marathon run of 42.2km.

In a bid to realise their physical and mental abilities, Choonwei, Tricia, Joe, Sijie and Tommy are going to raise funds for charity as well. They have chosen Mercy Relief as their beneficiary. They will raise and race to achieve their own dreams while helping the underprivileged.

Now, Mercy Relief is in need of more funding since the recent devastating earthquake in Yogjakarta while the destruction of Mount Merapi volcano looms.

The five youths have designed a special dri-fit T-shirt for this fund-raising event. Each T-shirt costs S$30.00. 75% of the proceeds will go to Mercy Relief, while 25% will go into the Mapledream fund.

Anyone interested may contact Tricia at or call her at 9128 1817, or call Joe at 9112 9903.

The anti-littering rule applies to triathletes too!

Endurance athletes like marathon runners and triathletes rely alot on gels for quick replenishment of lost energy into our body systems.

The gels come in 'handy' packets with pre-determined 'shots' of contained carbo/protein/electrolyte mixes. Tear the top off and gulp the eecky gel into one's mouth and swallow with water. You squeeze 'em gels into the mouth and you throw the wrapper away while on the bike or run segments. Yep, we litter on the race course. I admit to doing that almost religiously in every race.

In long races, gels such as Powergel, E-gel, Carb-boom, Hammergel, etc. can be a life saver to keep a triathlete from bonking. There are usually no strategically-placed recepticles for a shagged out triathlete to throw the empty wrappers, unless we take the trouble to stuff the gooey wrapper into our bento boxes (if available) or stuff them into the teeny pockets of our tri-suit (if available). In other words, there aren't many choices to store 'em up for later disposal.

I just found out - by chance - that some races actually penalise triathletes who litter! If caught by the race anti-litter patrol, the offending triathlete can be penalised for up to 2 minutes. (this means an extra 2 minutes is added onto the final time taken to complete the race) 2 minutes can affect the overall standings!

Alright, I will make it a conscious effort to store my used gel wrappers for disposal at the finishing line. Not that the additional 2 minutes will matter much to me. I'm just going to try to be a civilised triathlete. Perhaps that is a greater challenge in itself eh?

Here's an article by Mountain Man, a writer for the Triathlete Magazine.

I quote him "Pick up after yourself; your mother doesn’t work here!"

Revealed: Da Munnchi's Code

I have to admit that I was very half-hearted in taking part in last weekend's Bintan Triathlon. I had a nagging headache which didn't give me much motivation to even attempt the gruelling course.

A recce of the bike route (by bus) and a glimpse of the run course didn't help either. The only inviting consolation were the clear blue and calm waters off Bintan.

So what was the oomph factor that spurred me to keep going and going like the energizer bunny on reserve fuel?


Words from my loved ones and friends, and timeless words from the Bible kept me on course to complete the race.

"For nothing is impossible with God." - Luke 1:37

"You can make things happen if you try hard." - Papa's birthday wish to me

"I have faith in you, and I pray that whatever you do & become will make a positive impact to your life, your loved ones & the community." - Mom's birthday wish to me

"If you haven't got fever or joint aches for the past 3 days, then go for it... but do it slow and enjoy the race" - Doc

"You eat (carbo-load) so much, I better see you at the starting line tomorrow! " - Choonwei the Zoomway

"Slow and steady wins the race" - Papa, as always

So here it is... I hope I've been an inspiration to all my 'fans' and critics out there. Cheers.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Getting to the bottom of the trashcan

The National Environment Agency (NEA) recently launched a new campaign for 'anti-littering' that focuses on hawker centers.

In the news report, the NEA 'hopes to find out why people are still leaving litter everywhere when there are bins nearby through a littering behaviour study'.

Singapore has come very far in its Keep-Singapore-Squeaky-Clean campaigns, but its overly-sanitized approach has resulted in a negative consequence which has got attitude to blame.

Think about it: Who does the cleaning of tables after we eat at the hawker centers? The ubiquitous banglahs.

Does the common singaporean appreciate the efforts made by the banglahs who clean up after them? HOW OFTEN DO YOU THANK THE PERSON CLEANING YOUR TABLE?

No. In fact, almost all if not all singaporeans EXPECT the banglahs to clean after them.

In effect, nobody 'litters'. They just leave their 'shit' around for someone else to clean after them. Littering is when you consciously throw your 'shit' everywhere. Leaving it on the table for the banglahs to clear is not considered 'littering'.

I just personally find the whole concept of getting a 'foreign worker' cleaning up after someone is rather racist, degrading and lack of respect for fellow human-being. What are we teaching our young ones?

So how now, NEA?

Solution is simple.

1. Hire less banglahs. In fact, stop the hiring. No more cleaning uncles and aunties.

2. Then launch a 'Clean up YOURSELF' campaign. This teaches one to be considerate to the next person using the table.

3. Provide napkins and tissue papers. Ever noticed Singapore has a severe shortage of such cleaningware? Either that, or our food vendors are ultra-stingy on such items. NEA should make it compulsory for the provision of tissue papers and napkins for cleaning hands/mouths and tables. NOT FOR RESERVATION OF SEATS, dammit.

Forget about the draconian anti-littering campaign. Who's going to enforce it?

Let's just educate and move on to a more gracious society. Leave our Singaporeans with no choice but to learn how to clean up after themselves.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

0/100: I came, I saw, I conquered!

Yes I came out of the darkness
and into the sun
I took the risk.
I took the chance.
I brokeaway.

It was an awesome experience to conquer Bintan.
1.5km swim, 40km bike, 10km run.
Swam in the clear blue South China Sea,
Rode through the thunderstorm and long slopes,
Ran on the undulating golf course. Twice.
Three hours, thirty eight minutes.
First Olympic distance, longest endurance race thus far.
On my 31st birthday.

Small step for Munn, giant leap for Munn-kind.

Monday, May 29, 2006


"I'll spread my wings and I'll learn how to fly
I'll do what it takes till I touch the sky
And I'll make a wish, take a chance, make a change
And breakaway...
Out of the darkness and into the sun
But I won't forget all the ones that I love
I'll take a risk, take a chance, make a change
And breakaway... "

- Kelly Clarkson

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Deja vu! This happened more than 20 years ago in Maris Stella!

I picked up a copy to this morning's edition of Today and I laughed to myself when I came across this article entitled "Stabbed with a fork". The subheader read "Canteen scuffle turns nasty as schoolboy jabs a fork into his classmate's head".

I laughed because a similar incident happened when I was in primary school!

I was standing in line, together with perhaps 1/8th of the recess population, at the laksa noodle stall. Ahead of me was this fat boy and his skinny friend behind him. I wasn't sure what exactly prompted the whole incident, but I recall hearing the skinny boy endlessly taunting his friend and calling him "Fatty Fatty Bom Bom". If I recall correctly, I think there was a popular song during that era, hence the reference to all oversized people.

Well, Fatty reached his limit, couldn't take the taunting anymore, and he turned around with flimsy metal fork in hand and stabbed Scrawny on his forehead. The fork was clearly embedded on Scrawny's head because it stood right there like an arrow on a hit cowboy when Fatty released his hand.

Shocked, Fatty began to cry while a teacher came to the rescue and pried the offending weapon off the equally shocked but suddenly silent Scrawny.

The rest of us stood there in amazement. Some of the boys were laughing their heads off (no pun intended).

Scrawny was left with a visible '4-dots' on his forehead for a few days while it healed. He was aptly named 'Shaolin He Shang' after that incident. We didn't know what disciplinary measures were meted out on Fatty.

So... whatever happened in St Pat's in 2006 is nothing new. The Marists were there first. Waaay back.... ;)


That's right folks.

80/20 is the figure I'll probably NOT take part in the triathlon on Saturday. My constant headache is pissing me off big time. Thought I could swim it out during lunchtime... easy swim of half hour at the Concourse pool. Heart rate (HR) was alright at only 60% effort. In my head, I knew I could handle the heart rate, distance and time, at least for the swim portion of the race. Heck, I was even imagining swimming in the clear waters off Bintan amidst flailing arms and bobbing heads while I coolly take each participant on with easy fish-like glides. Then my mind drifted to the bike course.... well, if I could maintain at 70% base HR, then it shouldn't be an issue as well. Then I could also walk the friggin' course back to the finishing line!

But I haven't factored race day conditions and the mid afternoon heat yet. That'll surely pump my HR at least another 5-7% for the same indoor intensity.

Disappointment and frustration is an understatement for the amount of time and 'smart' training put into this. 'Smart' because I've trained using heart rate as an indicator and building up my endurance base by maintaining at up to 75% of maximum HR for progressive longer periods of time. Damn I even did the hill training runs at the golf course behind my home.

I was so looking forward to this memorable race: Longest distance attempted so far, and it's gonna be personally achieved on my 31st birthday.

Now, I have to reduce my chances of being at the starting line-up. The tension headache is quite disturbing. I'm not sure if it is due to sinus, wisdom teeth or something worse. Whatever it is, I want to enjoy my race if I were to take part in it. It has always been my principle to enjoy my races and complete them with a smile. I know I can complete it in comfortable time and pace, but the headache is preventing me from enjoying it.

It's one fact of life that I have to accept, albeit a tough one to swallow.

I haven't decided if I want to do OSIM, or should I just go ahead with the Port Dickson one?

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

The Big Three-One: Akan Datang

It's coming right up.

And I want to complete my first Olympic Distance Triathlon in Bintan this Saturday.

I've been training and I know I can complete it. But my body says 'relac bro! see thursday how you feel first.'

On MC today to rest. I hope I can recuperate and recover by then. It's rather depressing and indeed disappointing if I cannot do the race but I have to be wise.

Then we can all celebrate this coming-of-age together....... another feather in my cap!

What's with the MC?

I'm sick today. In fact, I've been feeling under the weather since yesterday (Monday). I think there's the flu bug going around the office. Anyway it's been the congested-head-aching-joints kind of feeling.

I decided to see the company doctor yesterday after lunch.

I just don't understand the concept (and hassle) of getting a medical certificate if one is feeling under the weather. I know what I have to do - REST. I need the rest after a whole week of training. My body is telling me to REST. REST means staying at home and recovering so that I am not susceptible to other people's germs. Hence I don't know what or how labour laws in Singapore are drawn up insisting that a 'sick' person has to make his/her way to the doctor's, stand in line for his/her turn at the clinic, and only to see the 'doctor' for 2-3 minutes, get the nod for a medical certificate, and then f*** off home to REST.

It doesn't make sense.

Are doctors just there to endorse a silly little slip of paper 'certifying' that one is unfit to sit in the office the whole day, while seemingly deemed 'fit' to make his/her way to the clinic, stand in line, and see the 'doctor' for 2-3 minutes?

Time is precious for REST. I want to REST. Time taken for the process of getting a slip of paper takes longer than if I have to just steal 40 winks in the office toilet cubicle for that much needed REST.

What makes it worse is this:
1. It's damn easy for doctors to make such money out of patients who genuinely need the REST and that slip of paper certifying it.
2. Sometimes doctors give you THAT kind of silly look 'you come here to get MC right?' I mean, come on, doc. I wish I could just go home and REST! I don't need a bloody Phd to tell me that I need that REST, coz it's my body that needs REST, not yours. I only need that stupid signature of yours on that stupid piece of paper because of the stupid labour law that requires me to take so much of my stupid time to make that stupid trip to see you, stupid!

This is what happened yesterday at the company doctor. Stupid doctor gave me half day mc for the sake of it. Dammit, time's up by the time I got home! What rest? I could have just rested in the toilet cubicle. And the diagnosis took a mere 3 minutes. It was even faster than speed dating. Shit...

Some doctors are quacks.

Nonetheless I had to seek more professional judgement on whether I needed that rest this morning. Another day of mc for that trouble. Fortunately I knew of better doctors around.

Friday, May 19, 2006

SPUI illustration

This was the previous configuration. It's called a 'diamond' interchange. Note the right-turn lanes coming off from the PIE exit. Vehicles had to go through 2 traffic lights. Congestion magnifies if traffic is not cleared in time along Eunos and Ubi.
The above is called a Single Point Urban Interchange, or simply a SPUI. The configuration is 'squeezed' together (perfect for land-scarce Singapore!) and the traffic junction is effectively made into one operational signal. Notice the concurrent right-turns are also possible with the SPUI design! The SPUI increases storage capacity, yet it decreases delay because there's only one set of traffic lights to maneuver!
Well, screw the person who snitched my idea!

SPUI Phooey!

As a planner at Al-Tee-Aye, we were 'encouraged' to keep our eyes peeled to technological advancements in our career fields and try to find ways and means to inject 'brilliant' ideas into the Singapore transport scene. We were also 'encouraged' to observe our surroundings and think of how we could maintain Singapore's position as a 'world-class' transport system. Awareness and a keen eye in such totality was what spurred me to come up with several ideas, and I had the passion for it because I took them as noteworthy challenges in my career. Other co-workers felt that such 'involuntary creativity streaks' were just a pain in the ass. I suppose it's a very civil service kind of outlook in the work environment. It is also no wonder they are 'happily' stuck in the cogwheel of public sector, enjoying all the benefits and bonuses with minimal physical and mental work done.

A case in particular is the Eunos Flyover interchange, or rather the interchange beneath the Eunos Flyover just off the Pan Island Expressway (PIE). Just a few months before I left the [dis]organization in 2003, I put up a proposal to improve the traffic congestion along the said interchange.

Basically, the interchange consisted of 2 ramp intersections which required the operation of 2 traffic signals to control the ever-increasing traffic coming off the expressway. The proposal came with a suggestion to change these 2 intersections into a single point urban interchange. In traffic terms, it was called a SPUI (spoo-ee). I even drew out a schematic to illustrate the idea, which I remembered coming across in my senior year at Purdue.

To understand the benefits of the SPUI, see illustrations (drawn by me, of course).

Point to note is that the civil service (at least in the Al-Tee-Aye) has many layers of rank and file. As such, my 'idea' only went up one rung and it was gunned down like a prisoner condemned to the firing squad, citing cost issues and dig this: "Your US example will not work in Singapore! No need to bring US ideas here!". Period. Screw their myopic view on 'thinking out of the box' and other related shit. And so I left the [dis]organization without my plan coming into fruition.

Fast forward to present day May 2006. I travel along the PIE and get off the Eunos exit. Guess what? The SPUI is in place! I would love to think that my 'idea' and efforts were appreciated, but I doubt that would ever have happened. It is more likely that some *expletive that starts with A* cannibalised my 'idea' and is taking full credit for it.

I am so damn pissed everytime I use that intersection. That SPUI idea is meant to be mine! Ergghh!

I know sometimes workplaces are like this - people take full advantage of you, and sometimes they even take you down in that process. But I see it as more evident in the civil service where there is absolutely no sense of teamwork (there is, but it is 'forced upon') and integrity. It just irks me no end that there are so many ignorant and narrow-minded deadwood in the service.

It's like that in life sometimes too. This doesn't always happen at the workplace. Sometimes I just wonder is this an Asian trait? Kiasu-ism? Survival of the fittest?

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Singapore could follow suit if it claims to be First Class

Article from the International Herald Tribune points towards many cities, including 'First Class' ones, accepting and recognising the bicycle as another mode of transport.

Some excerpts from the article:

1. "London, Paris, Chicago, Bogota and Seoul have embarked on major campaigns to incorporate the bicycle into traffic grids. The results have led to substantial shifts in fuel consumption, commuting times and even real estate values."

2. "Cycling has become a primary mode of transport for 5% of the population [of Bogota (pop. 7 million) ], up from 0.1% when he [Enrique Penalosa, mayor of Bogota from 1998 to 2000] started. The share using the car as primary mode, by contrast, has fallen to 13% of the population from 17%."

3. "If all citizens are equal, urban policy should be democratic and not everyone has access to a motor car."

4. "London may be the greatest success story in the new wave... ... a surprising side effect was a 28% surge in cycling in the first year [since congestion charging was introduced in 2003]. The city says overall cycling mileage has doubled in the last 5 years and it aims to achieve another doubling."

5. "In some cases, merchants who were initially nervous actually saw sales rise as the population of more fluid bus and cycle lanes fed them more customers."

6. "What has also been discovered worldwide is that accident rates have dropped wherever cycling has gained momentum, as cars are forced to slow down and as they become more accustomed to sharing the road."

7. "What planners generally have discovered is that a little money spent on cycling infrastructure can go a long way, even though it may take time to produce results and they are not often easy to track statistically."

8. "Bogota's investments in cycling infrastructure eventually produced savings roughly seven times greater."

9. "The standard formula is that one automobile parking space can hold 10 bicycles."

10. "When such [bicycle] facilities are coordinated with rail systems, the volumes become impressive. Nearly 30% of Dutch rail passengers cycle to the station, and 12% then get on cycles again to reach their final destination."

So here it is: Here's something that the First Class Singapore government can seriously consider if it wants to keep up with the Joneses of other First Class cities.

It's really simple because the government has always preached about a world-class seamless transport system. If only they could recognise the bicycle as another mode of transport.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Will my real MP please stand up?

Okay. The elections are over, but it didn't really matter to the Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC because it was not contested. I belong to the Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC. Specifically, I'm what the ruling party calls a "Thomsoner" because I stay in the Upper Thomson area.

Prior to the recent elections, my MP was Mr Leong Horn Kee. I heard he's no longer my member of parliament, which again, didn't really matter to me because I've never seen him in my 18 years living as a "Thomsoner". Sigh... he didn't even say bye to us. I'm sure we'll miss him dearly.

And then I heard there's a new member of parliament who has taken over the place of Mr Leong. I have no idea who he or she is. The new MP is a new face in PAP. My new MP just became an MP without proving if he or she is worthy of the job. I would have expected at least some form of introduction and/or a friendly 'hello' kind of newsletter to the "Thomsoners". I mean, I don't think the MPs were involved in the rallies, except for DPM Wong Kan Seng (who happens to be the 'leader' of the Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC). In this respect, I'm sure the new MPs had the time to at least make their rounds and say hi. Well, maybe they did but I'm pretty sure they did not make themselves known in my area.

Where is my MP? Is there a channel for disgruntled residents to complain against their MP if they feel their MP has not been up to standard? An MP's allowance (not salary) is very high, hence I should think that he or she owes us some form of formal introduction, at the very least.

Who is my MP? Will my real MP please stand up? I would like to make friends with you. After all, we're a friendly bunch you know? Don't worry, I don't bite.

So here's a hint: Let's get working without the need for dangling carrots when crunch time comes along.

The very 'Pantang' View on Progress

"Progress" has been loosely used in the recent general elections. One wonders what exactly is 'progress'?

The polling stations closed at 8pm last night. The night skies were somewhat red with subdued lightning and thunder followed almost a few seconds later. Even before the electoral results were out, it seemed to me that the PAP (synonymous with the lightning symbol) would not get the obvious oomph mandate that PM Lee was hoping to get. Then the even more subdued thunder pretty much signified that the Worker's Party (The Hammer) would just be a tiny voice in parliament, albeit a necessary one because we all know that lightning and thunder always occur together.

The PAP is returned into power with 66.6% of valid votes. "666" in hokkien is really good in terms of 'progress' - since it sounds like 'luck luck luck'. But '666' does not bode well in biblical terms. '666' is referred to as the number of the devil.

We've also seen the ubiquitous 68% victory margin by the PAP in several single ward constituencies and GRCs. '68' in chinese sounds like 'look fatt', which literally means 'prosperity in the road ahead'.

Aljunied GRC was a close fight between the PAP and WP, and the results show a trend away from PAP rule. It's a numbers game in the end. Potong Pasir and Hougang are the most uncorrupt residents on the island, unfazed by the 80 and 100 million dollar upgrading carrot.

It all means that the PAP has probably got to veer out of the 'complacency' mode and get more down to earth with the people, just because the Worker's Party is getting the formula right after all.

By the way, we will get our Progress Packages along the way, because PM Lee says so!

Saturday, May 06, 2006

The local 'alternative' community must be so happy ...

... because today's local frontpage headlines reads:

" (PeeAm) Asks for Strong Man Date" - Straits Times

"All eyes on the measure of man date" - Weekend Today

"Singapore (PeeAm) asks voters for personal man date on eve of Polling Day" - channelnewasia

Premonition of a good fight?

The polling stations are going to open in a few minutes time.

It's early morning now.

And it's raining now. Thor is hammering the skies with thunder and lightning.

Looks like a foreboding premonition that it's gonna be a good fight between PAP and WP.

What a show!

Let me have my Saturday breakfast now.

All the best SL and BS!

Thursday, May 04, 2006

The cool thing about Mission Impossible 3 is... ...

that Ethan Hunt works for the Department of Transport,
he analyzes traffic patterns,
and he goes for transport conferences!

And I never knew my job would be 'glamourized' in an action-packed movie!

Think I'll change my name to Tham Cruise.... where are my shades?

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Flaw in Sports Participation Survey?

Some time ago, the Singapore Sports Council (SSC) reported their findings of the 2005 National Sports Participation Survey.

In brief, the report highlighted that there is a 10% increase in Singapore residents participating in any sports activity at least once a week. This translates to 48% of the population, up from 38% in year 2001. Out of this 48%, more than half of the participants exercise or participate in any sporting activity at least 3 times a week. Also, there is a wider range of sports activities, perhaps due to greater awareness and exposure to other types of sports. Another encouraging figure is the number of female participants from 32% in 2001 to 42% in 2005.

The report also noted that the top 3 activities were jogging, swimming and walking. In addition, it mentioned that yoga climbed up to 10th spot from 19th spot in 2001.

Personally, I seriously doubt the authenticity of the report. I’ve always pondered that since the civil service is the largest employer in Singapore, the findings should give quite a good representation of the top 3 activities being Archery, Taiji, and a tie between Shopping and Eating!

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Paradigm Shift in Democracy

So here are the statistics:

There will be 1.22 million Singaporeans who are eligible to vote. This constitutes approximately 56.65% of eligible Singaporean voters. Well, I think that's pretty impressive by Singapore-style 'election' standards.

I can't vote because my GRC is a walk-over this time around (again!).

I want to exercise my rights.

But wait! Democracy is actually alive in this tiny nation of 4-point-something million people (and growing) - I actually CAN vote! And I can vote as a Singaporean regardless of race, language, religion, salary, and type of housing!

All I need is a telephone and a TV and I can VOTE for my favourite Singapore Idol, Superband, Superstar, or what-have-you.

At least I can pathetically exercise my rights. It's not so bad afterall.


Tuesday, April 25, 2006

First World Standard Gahmen?

There's a recent debate between PAP and WP over Singapore having a "First World Standard" opposition and ruling party.

MM Lee says that the opposition lacks First World Standard, while WP's Low Thia Khiang says that the PAP lacks a First World government. At least this is what I think they are saying lah.

It's all in the definition of the phrase "First World". What do they mean by First World? MM Lee equates it to the standards given by the World Bank and the World Economic Forum. But I think Low is coming from the grassroots level coz I think that Low is perhaps a better candidate in seeing things from ground level.

If we compare Singapore with all our neighboring countries, then Singapore is indeed First World with great urban planning initiatives and a generally hardworking and illustrious population. We don't experience massive traffic jams and overly irregular/infrequent public transport. We are a beautiful and 'green' city, and our streets are clean. Even the leaves of our roadside shrubbery does not have a layer of dirt on it! These are tangible results that will put a smile on a Singaporean's face when we look back and reflect (especially on National Days). And we realise that Singapore has come a long way - at times way ahead - of our neighbours.

What about the micro happenings within 'the system'? Can we say that the government is made up of First World people? Or is the government LED by a First World person with First World ideals? Definitely something to ponder.

However, I'd like to add that there are deadwood within 'the system' that is a hindrance to Singapore having First World standards. Most are mid-management public servants. It may be a very generic remark that I'm making but in light of this, we cannot call ourselves "First World".

Singapore cannot afford to be complacent and too arrogant about this. We are not First World. In fact, there's alot of room for improvement. We should learn more and STRIVE to be First World. There's only one way to strive forward and improve, and that is to KNOW that we are only Premium Business Class standard. Therefore I agree with both Low (that we don't have a First World government) and MM Lee (that we don't have a First World opposition). I'm sitting on the fence on this.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Weekend Me-Knee Update v3.0

Doc replied my email and said that my knee conditions are known as
  1. Chondromalacia Patella of the left knee,
  2. medial collateral ligament sprain, and
  3. medial collateral capsule sprain

He also added the sweetest 2 words I've heard in recent times: NO SURGERY. I was so happy when I received his reply that I wanted to jump for joy (until I remembered that I better not jump for joy lest my knee becomes worst!)

I didn't run over the weekend but I biked on early Saturday morning from home to Lim Chu Kang via Mandai, Neo Tiew, Lim Chu Kang and then u-turn back to Sungei Buloh to meet dad in time for the launch of his art exhibition there. I've got to admit that I haven't ridden since the Duathlon and I've had spinning classes in between. My average speed has improved from 30kmph to about 34kmph over long distances. I'm quite happy with that. This despite the fact that I was wearing the knee sleeve to protect my knee cap (scientific n: patella).

There wasn't any pain or discomfort of the knee until when I woke up on Sunday morning. I wasn't too sure if it was due to the long distance biking or long duration of standing when Ros and I were preparing for the BBQ dinner the night before (Saturday).

Anyway I went swimming on Sunday afternoon as well and I didn't feel the discomfort.

The only times I felt discomfort were at night and when I just wake up. Is it rheumatism? Arthritis? Need to report to Doc when I meet him for a review tomorrow.

Till then... still no running.

Ass de Pee Clown does it again!

He never fails to entertain me, this Ass de Pee clown.

We all know that the General Elections are coming and that there would be opposition who would be contesting the ruling PAP party and wrestling them off their comfortable electoral seats.

I must say that the PAP is doing pretty well in waving all kinds of carrots in full view of the public. There are orange ones, white ones, long ones, short ones, carrot cake, chaitoukway, upgraded carrots (from beansprout to carrot), packaged carrots that progressively grow, extra carrots for military men, soft chewable carrots for your grandparents, etc. It is such a Bugs Bunny society! Oops, but I digress... Some other opposition parties are waving 'counter-carrots', proclaiming that 'our carrots are better than yours' kind of 'vote marketing'. I think it is all in the name of basic salesmanship to proclaim who has the best carrot for the voters. Whoever does a better marketing strategy will win, and this is the case of politics around the world. While real salesmen want your moola, the politicians want your votes. Whether the carrot is edible or not remains to be seen. During campaigning, just make sure the carrots are nicely polished without blame and blemish.

But this Ass de Pee clown, who keeps getting into trouble - Is he the court jester or what? I mean, what is the use of nitpicking and proclaiming that PAP's carrots are bad, when Ass de Pee cannot counter their statement with a 'better' carrot?

No use saying, "Oi! Your carrot is bad!" So? Tell us you have a better carrot lah! Or else just shut up or seriously join Barnum & Bailey's or Cirque du Soleil lah.

I maintain that sometimes we are treated like stupid Singaporeans. However, if there should be any opposition that wants to take on the ruling PAP party, then the opposition had better be credible. To make us look even more stupid is an insult. We seriously don't need this kind of opposition.

Show us what carrot you can give the people!

Friday, April 21, 2006

Overseas Singaporeans Gather To Rally for Rest-of-the-World GRC

Overseas singaporeans gather for a picture before the friendly march

Timbuktu - Overseas Singaporeans gathered by the throngs in this city in a bid to encourage the Singapore government to include the "Rest-of-the-World" GRC in the latest electoral boundary map. This came almost immediately after news that Singapore will be having her General Elections come 6 May, 2006. Political observers noted that since Singapore gained independence from colonial rule in 1965, the tiny island nation has progressed by leaps and bounds in the international political, economic and even in the arts scene. Some experts claim that it is due to the ruling party's (People's Action Party) strong presence in the global arena.

Ms Peh Ann Peh, strong supporter of the ruling party and first-time voter (hopefully)

"I flew 10 hours from New York to come to Timbuktu so that I can vote. I figured I have more voice as an overseas Singaporean. After all, we are a globalised country and we should have a Rest-of-The-World GRC. It makes sense, right" said Peh Ann Pey, a Manhattan resident for the past 6 years.

Overseas Singaporeans have a chance to have a go at the General Elections but many feel that they don't know their homeland well enough to vote for the 'right' candidate. Many don't even know who their respective members of parliament are.

"That is why we're seeking the Singapore Government to redraw the boundary and let us, overseas Singaporeans, have our own constituency or GRC or whatever they want to call it. We want somebody to represent us! That is why I'm holding on to my red passport in hopes that I can vote, because my friends in Singapore don't have many chances anyway." said Iyama Kwitter, a Singaporean residing in Mexico.

"That's right. I want to have my own MP and make my own decisions here. Otherwise I change my citizenship." added Yang Pang, who just turned 21 in January.

Mr Yang Pang, Singaporean in Iran

The Elections Department in Singapore cannot be reached for comment but sources say that the protest fell on deaf ears as Timbuktu does not have a Singapore consulate.

Spotted in a heartland chinese restaurant

Timely Reminder That I'm A Stupid Singaporean

Remember the previous blog when I mentioned about the delay in transport fare hike?

Well, at least someone up there has taken the liberty to explain that the delay is not an election move.

Wow... I mean... I'm so convinced. Really.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Me-Knee Update v2.0

I went for a mid-distance training swim last night. Swam a total of 1500 meters by doing 200m warm-up, 1200m pull buoy with hands only, and a remaining 100m cool-down segment. In brief, I hardly did any flutter-kicks so pressure on the knee was minimal. However I did manage to complete the course within my target time of 35 minutes.

I also did about 15 minutes worth of calisthenics, concentrating on the abs and lower back. I really need to focus on my personal G.A.W.K to achieve what I’ve always wanted to achieve since college days (read: since I got that beer belly, thanks to all the free beer Dave Ong and I got in exchange for buying the kegs for Kurt and the neighbors across from our apartment!). FYI, I’ve been religiously working on the G.A.W.K program for 2 weeks already. In fact, I’m also ensuring that my torso and core area is used when I swim with the pull buoy. I did notice a significant improvement in stroke-count, glide and overall tiredness when I employed my core area by using the torso to propel myself instead of using arms and legs. My program may be working after all! If only the abs appear! Why are they so shy? (here’s yet another mystery in a chubby guy’s life)

Left knee still hurts this morning from bending it inwards. I’m not sure if the anti-inflammatory pills are working.

I’m still wearing the knee wrap today.

I’ve emailed Dr Low on some questions regarding my injury. Should I – and can I – use Voltaren or any analgesic cream together with the anti-inflammatory pills? What physio exercises can I do to assist in recovery and repair of the knee joints? I’m waiting for his reply.
I may go for the moderate spin class in the evening instead of the rock-climbing session with Ser Ling and Ros. I figured that spinning is more natural in movement compared to the potential split-second knee-jerking reactions while climbing.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Me-Knee Update v1.0

So Dr Low says I should stave off running for at least a week, but I can swim and do some light spinning/biking.

I went for a double spinning class yesterday at the gym (that's how I discovered the missing showerheads). I didn't really follow the hard-thumping rhythm but I just spun at moderate heart rate of between 60% and 80%. I kept focusing on keeping my knees facing forward, in the attempt NOT to deviate the angle of the knee while peddling.

Knees didn't hurt at the end of class, so I guess I managed to achieve burning calories while not aggravating the knee injury.

Slight pain returned after I took out the knee wrap at night.

Today, I still find it difficult to cross my left leg over my right - even with the knee wrap.

I really hope I can heal fast so I can get on with training for the Bintan Tri come 27 May.

Gonna head on home now for a swim.

Grim Fact: I'm a Stupid Singaporean and So Are You!

Reporters can churn out the best stories and public agencies can cook up the best excuses.

But why can't they be straightforward about the damn thing and tell it straight to Singaporeans in the face?

The case in question is with regards to today's news that any public transport fare increases will only be effected in October instead of July. Then there's alot of blah blah blah reasons to justify the delay.

Okay, why can't they just admit that the LTA is incompetent? Either that, or just tell us - public transport users - that the General Election is coming and this would be a potential vote-losing measure?

So I'm stupid (and so are you) to believe all this crap. I'll just sit and wait for the approval of the fare hike 'to ensure that commuters' interests are safeguarded'. In this case, I better set aside my Progress Package carrot to tide this through. Hey, it pays to be prudent.

Showerhead Burgler on the Loose

I have absolutely no idea why some showerheads in the male changing room of the Bugis California Fitness gym are missing. Either some cleptomaniac has a knack for stealing showerheads or is fooling around with showerheads anyway. There are many weird people at the gym.

Well, I've heard of people stealing steel drain gratings in exchange for money (steel prices shot up some time ago). But showerheads?

I doubt that the showerheads were removed for maintenance either. I think showerheads are one of the world's least maintained household items (it's self-cleaning isn't it?).

So will someone enlighten me regarding the mystery of the missing showerheads at California Fitness? Because I do treasure the shiok shiok shower after a great spinning class, and a showerhead-less gush of water is not what I paid for in a club membership... and definitely irksome!

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

No more trying to remember what the heck ITB means!

I just got back from visiting Dr Low Wye Mun - a specialist in Sports Medicine - in hopes of determining what the problem is with my left knee.

For the longest time, I’ve been suspecting it was ITB. Perhaps it’s due to my limited knowledge in sports physiology and my meager education in Biology (only Sec 2 standard), I knew nothing else about the 1001 things I ought to know about the knee. The visit to Dr Low’s clinic proved otherwise – that it was not ITB. And this revelation was a relief for several reasons: I didn’t have to worry too much that it was the ITB irritating me to bits, and that I didn’t have to remember the pronunciation of ITB. I mean, try playing this silly tongue-twister game – Iliotibial Band Syndrome, Iliotibial Band Syndrome.

Note: The following account is what I understand from my little conversation with Dr Low. I may be wrong in interpreting the medical terms and all the knee jargon, but at least I got the picture (I hope) and I’m just recounting from an extremely layman point of view.

In brief, the pain on the outside of my left knee is due to the underside of the knee cap rubbing itself on a worn part of my knee joint. I experienced this when I ran the Kuala Lumpur Half Marathon and when I do my regular runs at Macritchie. The pains become more pronounced when I’m on the boardwalk sections. Of course my initial thoughts were ITB, but now Dr Low says it’s likely caused by my running gait, which shifts itself when I run on different surfaces. For now, I need to embark on a preventive measure so that the wear and tear does not get worse. Glucosamine is the answer and a daily dose of 1000mg should do some maintenance to the joints. Dr Low also mentioned that anything less than 1000mg is waste because there should be a minimum amount of Glucosamine that we should consume on a daily basis for effective absorption into our bodies. Otherwise, it’ll just pass out as ‘expensive pee’.

The pain on the inside of my left knee was caused by a sprain and the subsequent inflammation of my joints. Hence I’ve been feeling a discomfort on the inside of my knees whenever I cross my legs. Dr Low gave me some anti-inflammatory pills to reduce the swellings. He also gave me a knee guard to help keep the inflammation in place and so my joints do not slip and cause unnatural gait.
In the course of 'discovering the wonders' of my very own knee with professional help from Dr Low, I managed to quench my curiosity in how come I never could do that knee twitch thingy whenever someone tested my knee reflexes. He tested my reflexes and confirmed that I had very subdued reflexes, which is probably why I cannot perform well in my standing broad jumps even though - according to Dr Low - my thighs were well-developed.

Actually I’m not sure if surgery would be needed on my knee but I remember Dr Low saying that I’m still able to manage the injury at this stage. I can still work towards the Bintan Triathlon on my birthday.

Meanwhile I have to stop running for a week, but I can still swim and bike/spin. I’d have to come back for a review visit next Tuesday 25 April 2006.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Be Still or The Birds Will Fly Away

For all his artistic talents, patience in getting details right, and his undying love for nature, Sungei Buloh Wetlands Reserve is going to launch Dad’s stone painting exhibition this Saturday 22 April 2006 as part of the Earth Day celebrations.

The theme of his art exhibition is “Be Still or The Birds Will Fly Away”.

For the past few months, Dad has been challenging himself to paint on new medium. Previously he painted on different types of paper. As with his penchant for experimenting – and therefore expanding – in his hobby of painting, Dad took it upon himself to try painting on pebbles after a trip to New Zealand with Mom. What began as just a trial quickly turned into frantic searching for the right type of smooth pebbles in gardens as well as at shops that dealt with landscape architecture. Dad would handpick pebbles that gave enough flatness and a ‘large enough’ canvas for him to paint on. He would then spend his free time on his paintings in our humble kitchen.

His subjects were inspired by the flora and fauna of Sungei Buloh, which include the common and the rare sightings of permanent denizens and the occasional migrant visitor to the Reserve.

His hard work did not stop at painting on stones. He also devised ways and means to display his works, such as finding the strongest method of gluing stone to wood or plastic. He also managed the framing part and composed each caption that came with every stone painting. To say that he put his heart and soul to his masterpieces is an understatement.

Honestly, I feel a sense of pride for my Dad who has proven to me time and again that we can achieve something from sheer passion for a hobby. If I could put my finger to the meaning of Work Hard, Play Hard, I would credit it to my father who has shown me what it means by enjoying a balanced lifestyle.

(Having said that, I still need some ‘fine-tuning’ to lead a balanced lifestyle)

Sungei Buloh may be far-flung for most people, but I’m sure the exhibition, coupled with the natural beauty of the Reserve will leave one very educated of our surroundings. It will surely be a memorable visit. Haha.. just look at my Dad – all it took was one visit to Sungei Buloh and he’s totally hooked!
Dad's exhibition will be launched this Saturday 22 April 2006 Saturday at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve (have I mentioned this already?).

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Hey, hey! There really IS a famous Munn

There's this dude called Charles Munn, and he's a famous environmentalist too! - a pioneer in South American ecotourism. Recently, Grist interviewed him. Here's the extract of the interview. I think he's a really interesting person, quite similar to my way of thinking. Perhaps coz great Munns think alike? ;p I think I should get to know him and then maybe he could bring me up to South America for nature photography!

Q. What work do you do?
A. I am chair of the board of Tropical Nature, a nonprofit conservation group specializing in conservation through ecotourism.

Q. What does your organization do?
A. We run the world's largest network of eco-lodges in tropical rainforest -- in Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia, and Brazil. We also consult for rainforest and tropical ecotourism companies and for government tourism ministries in a number of countries of Central America and the Caribbean, as well as in China and Gabon. We use ecotourism as an effective conservation tool to add value to tropical rainforests and thus make them worth more standing than cut.
We think that most so-called ecotourism has little to do with anything truly eco, and that most tourism in tropical rainforests is a boring, hot, sometimes buggy disappointment. But it does not have to be that way -- and that is why we created Tropical Nature. We specialize in offering the finest wildlife viewing in rainforests.

Q. How do you get to work?
A. Half the time, I work out of a small office in my home in a forest near Baltimore, Md. The other half of the time, I am visiting one of our project sites, or possible new project sites, in the tropics.

Q. What long and winding road led you to your current position?
A. In the '80s I completed a master's in zoology at Oxford, and a Ph.D. in biology at Princeton. From there, I went immediately into field research on macaws in the rainforests of Peru, as a field biologist for the Wildlife Conservation Society.
From 1980 through today, I have tested and refined a series of techniques for making tropical forests come alive, through the electronic and print media, and through new models of ecotourism. Our ecotourism tests then became a conservation method, and we have expanded this successful method to create the network of tour lodges that we run today. By 2000, it was clear that applying our research findings about rare, attractive wildlife to create local jobs in ecotourism was a better conservation method than pure research alone. Research did not create enough jobs or alternatives for the local people, who often hunted rare wildlife and cut forest in national parks out of desperation rather than any malice. Tropical Nature was a direct response to our desire to create lots of high-quality, sustainable jobs in conservation-oriented nature tourism in tropical forests.

Q. Where were you born? Where do you live now?
A. Baltimore. After decades of living in Peru and Brazil, I am back to my roots, based in Baltimore again.

Q. What has been the worst moment in your professional life to date?
A. When a corrupt government minister in Peru tried to imprison me and destroy our conservation system to stop our team from organizing local forest peoples in the Peruvian Amazon to protect their forestlands from the minister's land grab.

Q. What's been the best?
A. When that minister went to prison, in 2001 -- he remains in prison to this day.
Also, when the Connecticut-sized Tambopata-Candamo Reserved Zone in Peru and the adjoining New Jersey-sized Madidi National Park in Bolivia were declared (in 1990 and 1995, respectively). We spearheaded the effort to create both parks, which seemed outrageously ambitious at the time we proposed them. But they happened! These twin parks are the most biologically diverse protected areas on Earth -- full stop

Q. Who is your environmental hero?
A. Our Peruvian conservation executive, biologist Daniel Blanco, who ran our entire Peruvian system during the attacks on our conservation system by the corrupt minister. Daniel received frequent, telephoned death threats from the minister's goons. He stuck it out there and saved our system (through clever legal maneuvers) while I had to duck the direct attacks by leaving Peru for a year to keep from being imprisoned on trumped-up charges.

Q. What's your environmental vice?
A. My work requires me to fly a lot on jets, thus generating a significant carbon footprint. But I hope our creation of 12 million acres of tropical forest parks in Peru and Bolivia and the protection of a few million more acres of parks through our ecotourism work offsets my jetting around. We hope that the parks we have established become ever more powerful nature fortresses that protect themselves through well-designed ecotourism, thus ensuring that this carbon stays locked up forever.

Q. How do you spend your free time?
A. I go to see more national parks -- especially in Brazil, where they have such an amazing, and relatively poorly publicized system of parks.

Q. Read any good books lately?
A. I am enjoying Tom Friedman's The World Is Flat.

Q. What's your favorite meal?
A. Ceviche -- Peruvian-style raw fish marinated in lime juice with spices and hot peppers.

Q. Which stereotype about environmentalists most fits you?
A. The ancient, rusting, sticker-covered Volvo wagon -- 23 years old. A rolling billboard promoting nature conservation.

Q. What's your favorite place or ecosystem?
A. The luxuriant, forest-savannah mosaic known as the Pantanal, in central western Brazil. It is simply the biggest wildlife spectacle of Latin America. Harbors the world's largest jaguars, world's largest parrots (hyacinth macaw), world's largest snakes (anaconda), world's largest otter, and many other species of wildlife, often in incredibly high densities. What amazing clouds and sunsets there. No malaria or other nasty diseases. Closest thing to an East African photo safari in the New World.

Q. If you could institute one environmental reform, what would it be?
A. That eating vegan be promoted and become the accepted norm. Eating lower on the food chain would allow us to save an enormous amount of nature around the globe.

Q. Who was your favorite musical artist when you were 18? How about now?
A. Then: Dvorak. Now: Dvorak, Kjarkas.

Q. What's your favorite TV show?
A. Green Acres.

Q. Movie?
A. Motorcycle Diaries.

Q. Which actor would play you in the story of your life?
A. Hugh Grant.

Q. If you could have every InterActivist reader do one thing, what would it be?
A. Visit our websites -- Tropical Nature and Tropical Nature Travel -- and visit one of our South American lodges sometime.