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Tuesday, April 25, 2006
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
- Chondromalacia Patella of the left knee,
- medial collateral ligament sprain, and
- 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.
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 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.
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
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.
Wednesday, April 19, 2006
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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!
Wednesday, April 12, 2006
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.
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.
I also remember that those were the times when I was put to the test in my ethical upbringing. I knew that forgery was a bad, bad thing. I was aware of the consequences of forgery. In primary school, I'm quite sure that - for most of us - this situation would have been one of the first tests of one's morals and ethics.
Most of us learn through adulthood of the seriousness of such dubious actions, and the criminal consequences that usually follow.
Unfortunately, some don't. And one day, they will face the music.
Monday, April 10, 2006
For centuries, the Land of Cluttered Mayhem has built upon itself as a unique urban jungle of sorts, comprising piles of used and new clothes, boxes and bags of knick-knacks and other sentimental ware, tons of photographic experimentation, and even hardcopies of old college project files.
The team leader of the expedition, who is also the Wardrobe Environment Investigator from the Ministry of Urban Nonchalant Nonsense, claims that the discovery could mean a whole new species of previously unclassified clutter. For the time being, it is temporarily referred to as ‘organized mess’.
When asked by reporters how the taxonomy of such delicate ecosystems should proceed, the Wardrobe Environment Investigator replied, “We will try our utmost best in maintaining a harmonious balance between man and environment. If we need to sieve out worn clothes and tattered old receipts, then so be it. But it will be on a case-by-case basis if there is any ambiguity. Species that are deemed useless to the ecosystem will be sent over to more deserving civilizations. I will reiterate that this will not be a simple task, but I’m very confident that the mystery will unfold itself in due time because of the natural scheme of things. Having said that, isn’t this my job to address the issue and to organize it?”
Saturday, April 08, 2006
I made Milo this morning and I evidently left the teaspoon in the kitchen sink.
It must have been pretty sweet because there was this troop of tiny ants that started to feast on the remnants of Milo nourishment. I'm sure they must've been really happy and enjoying themselves. They probably were regaling in this rare opportunity in discovering the marvellous difference that Milo makes. (Heck, even humans do too - sometimes enjoying the health drink almost daily!)
Well, you see ants in the sink and you'd probably wash them all away into the abysmal sinkhole, right? That's what I did.
And all the once-happy little partying ants - drunk on Milo - are suddenly thrown into a chaotic churn of rushing tap water, and then heading into infinite oblivion.
And I have this random thought about how humans were suddenly washed away by the 2004 tsunami.
Whether it was in sink-ant proportions or coast-human proportions, the thought was scary and so real.
Thursday, April 06, 2006
I can see a love restrained
But darlin' when I hold you
Don't you know I feel the same
'Cause nothin' lasts forever
And we both know hearts can change
And it's hard to hold a candle
In the cold November rain
We've been through this such a long long time
Just tryin' to kill the pain
But lovers always come and lovers always go
And no one's really sure who's lettin' go today
If we could take the time to lay it on the line
I could rest my head
Just knowin' that you were mine
So if you want to love me
then darlin' don't refrain
Or I'll just end up walkin'
In the cold November rain
Do you need some time...
on your own
Do you need some time...
Everybody needs some time...
on their own
Don't you know you need some time...
I know it's hard to keep an open heart
When even friends seem out to harm you
But if you could heal a broken heart
Wouldn't time be out to charm you
Sometimes I need some time...
on my own
Sometimes I need some time...
Everybody needs some time...
on their own
Don't you know you need some time...
And when your fears subside
And shadows still remain, ohhh yeahhh
I know that you can love me
When there's no one left to blame
So never mind the darkness
We still can find a way
'Cause nothin' lasts forever
Even cold November rain
Don't ya think that you need somebody
Don't ya think that you need someone
Everybody needs somebody
You're not the only one
You're not the only one
Wednesday, April 05, 2006
Tuesday, April 04, 2006
The train to Hangzhou
See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil on the West Lake
Hangzhou Untitled 1
Growing up, we saw Uncle Lee's army of die-hard 'revolutionists' working so hard to establish Singapore's position in the global arena of economics, politics and military might. Now the scene has changed (naturally) to include the post-1965 generation to continue in the torch run in maintaining Singapore's integrity and position.
In the upcoming elections, the political parties are slowly introducing new faces to the people.
And I'm already familiar with at least 3 blokes - all of them who are buddies and we all sort of grew up some way or another (although I don't think all of them knew each other prior to the GE). One of them is even in Opposition! I mean, WHAT IS THE LIKELIHOOD OF HAVING A BUDDY IN OPPOSITION?!?!
It'll be so interesting to see my own friends campaigning and hopefully holding on to the leadership reins for the country.
Good luck to TSL, BS and CDS! You know my vote doesn't really matter since my GRC is a perennial walkover, right?