Join Me for Next Training

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

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.