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

Monday, December 31, 2007

WhatAreYouTryingToSay and Other Thoughts of Singapore for the New Year

String up the following sentences:




Yes, say it a few times. Does it sound familiar? No? How about if I were to hint 'Japanese Restaurant'? Rings a bell? Okay, how about if the phrases sound like those coming out from the mouths of the non-japanese greeting staff at Japanese Restaurants? They just blabber japanese phrases as if they were robots spewing out excess lubricating oil. I honestly have no idea what they are trying to say. With that, I question the sincerity of such greetings. Mere formality or true courtesy from the heart? I choose to believe it's the former, as I've never seen any such staff smile with the right kind of enthusiasm. It's utterly rude, if I must say.

Say say say, and that's exactly the point I'm trying to drive at - the social corruption of a beautiful culture due to the inept nature of a restless and young mixture of youths. DOn't get my point?

Look around you (in Singapore). There are so many foreigners residing in Singapore. Globalisation works both ways - we bring in the people, we also bring in the cultures from overseas. In recent years, a plethora of restaurants from different cultures/countries/ethnicity have sprung up. Yes, it is undeniable proof that Singapore is becoming more and more globalised. In fact, it has become so globalised that I think we have somehow lost focus on who and what we, Singaporeans, really are.

Are we - because of the rapid rise in 'culture exposure' - too overwhelmed by external media-induced globalisation?

Does the proverbial 'When in Rome, do what the Romans do' apply in today's Singapore context? Or is it conversely true that 'When in Singapore, do what the Others do'?

Where is the 'Singapore' flavour? What is so unique about 'Uniquely Singapore'?

Our museums such as Images of Singapore (in Sentosa) and the Discovery Centre celebrate the multi-racial 'uniqueness' of Singapore. They present to us that our forefathers have come from the four corners of the world to set up shop here to make Singapore what it is today. They came when Singapore was still establishing itself. Some may say that the current throngs of peoples from all over the world is analogous to what our forefathers did, but somehow it is different.

We are Singaporeans. We grew up on government campaigns that encourage us to be courteous, to stop at 2 babies, to keep our hair short, to drink our milk everyday. Growing up in the late 70's and 80's, we've always been exposed to the ubiquitous posters from the People's Association and other government agencies. We've always seen 'the 4 races' depicted ever so commonly in our national holidays and festivities. What do we see on our posters now? Your MP's face? Is that it?

Perhaps it may not apply in today's context because we have moved on and we have moved up the social ladder of developing nations. But we have a different set of issues today and we cannot expect the government to constantly remind us to stop littering or stop spitting on the streets.

And yet we have educated idiots who cannot read signs, and they think that amusing kids by shamelessly feeding wild monkeys is a form of 'education'. To think that such idiots come out with the stupidest of excuses!

A melting pot for migrants. The Land of Opportunity. Is that what Singapore has become? With that, have we lost our sense of direction such that we become selfish with no commonsense. Is the true Singaporean a dying breed?

What's a true Singaporean? Simply put, he's one with the zest for challenge and community spirit, serving the country without complain and with pride and honour. He shall not succumb to external pressures that compromise his patriotism for Singapore.

You laugh. Sure, coz he's a dying breed. After all, such examples in public service are a rarity.

Friday, December 28, 2007

So Your Grandmother Wears Army Boots?

Well my Grandmother wears different hats! Ho Ho Ho!
Have a merry and blessed Christmas everyone!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

SWET needs more than bra supports

Indeed, the Singapore Women's Everest Team (SWET) needs more support for them to achieve their dreams of becoming the first female team from Singapore to conquer the world's highest mountain.

Some say these bunch of lasses are crazy, especially when you see their profiles on the official website. I bet many people will remark that they just look too demure and frail to even attempt climbing Bukit Timah Hill. Look further my friend, these very lasses have scaled mountains that'll make you think twice about them.

A friend sent an email to me, informing that SWET were raising funds for their top-of-the-world mission. They've got calendars (with awesome black & white photography) and T-shirts for sale. Donors may also adopt-a-meter through ebay.

I'm gonna get a calendar and a T-shirt, and I'm gonna rile up the crowd in the triathlon community to help these lasses.

Just like we train ourselves for races and aim to achieve our dreams in each distance we attempt, these girls are also living their dreams. They are working very hard towards it, and we should share their joy of achievements when they make it to the top. I know conquering Mount Everest is something many have done since Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing. But these girls - human beings with great spirit in them - are also working professionals, just like many triathletes. They are going the distance (and altitude!). Our hearts and support should go out to them as fellow sporting Singaporeans and as fellow human beings with the spirit to aim high.

They are also our inspiration. So what's stopping you from supporting?
(You may either go to their website to see how you may help, or send me an email by Christmas Eve - that's tomorrow - to tell me if you'd like a T-shirt and/or a calendar)

Thursday, December 13, 2007

It's a Festive Season of Bad Spelling

It's the season of Christmas where the world typically honours the birth of Jesus Christ.

But it's meant to be - remembering Jesus Christ. Remembering a fulfillment from God to us.

Alas, there's gifting, santa claus, snow, winter atmospheres, etc. It's so 'westernised'. No wonder there's a missing link somewhere.

And everywhere we all see the misuse of the word 'Christmas'. Commercialisation has negated the true meaning of Christmas. Sigh... shopping centers, advertisements, the newspapers, and even some churches have begun to misspell 'Christmas' as 'Xmas'.

It's a cardinal sin. How can 'Christ' be replaced by 'X'? What's Christ to you? And what's X?

In mathematics, X is an unknown;

In pirate-talk, X marks the spot;

In the categorisation of media, X means content that is unsuitable for the young.

Some say that 'Xmas' is just a simple way of writing 'Christmas'. Is that why some Christmas cards are so impersonal? (Dear Cyclingturtle, Merry Xmas! From so-and-so) Isn't that so sweet and warm to receive such cards in the mail? Save the card stock and stamps lah!

It's so difficult to spell 'Christmas'? C'mon, for all it takes, perhaps this might just be the saving grace to actually remembering what Christmas is all about!

Have a blessed Christmas, everyone!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Some Commercials Should Undergo Climate Change Also

Did anyone catch more cheesy low budget commercials from Carlsberg?

I'm not referring to the cliffhanger-with-the-table-soccer-parachute one. That one is not too bad.

I'm referring to the one with local celebs Michelle Chia and Tay Ping Hui bobbing to some club music and going "Yeah.... Yeah" (or something to that effect). Gosh they even had 2 extras bobbing (not dancing) behind them! Terrible! Talk about creativity? Whoever came up with the idea ought to be shot in his/her legs with paintball pellets (then they'll know what 'bobbing around' means!).

Carlsberg should stop wasting money on such low budget commercials. It not only cheapens the beer brand, but it's.... well... literally tasteless in every aspect!

(and I also think that Michelle Chia and Ping Hui should stop endorsing the brand as well. It's just suicide to their own image)

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Bucking Up!

I went for the Trifam swim session last night after almost a hiatus of 2 years. It's now temporarily held at the Buona Vista Swimming Pool coz the regular one at Bukit Timah campus is undergoing renovation.

There were only 6 of us training - Julzz, Lloyd, Dion, Teryn, Yanglyn, myself. Perhaps it was because of the continuous rainfall we've been having in Singapore. The weather is also kinda chilly at 23C, so it wasn't really a welcoming condition to head down for some pool sessions.

Nevertheless, the skies took a brief break between 7pm and 8pm, and I took the opportunity to train with the boys again.

It's been awhile. Perhaps it was the cold weather.

Whatever it was, the supposed 15x100m sets were tiring! I only managed 10 sets. I was out of breath very fast. But we still completed the 100m in less than 2 minutes, averaging some 1min 40sec each set. It was fast.

Very shagged, but if I continue to train with them, I should be able to get back to easy sub-30min timing for my 1500m swims.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Rich Bank; Poor Boy

Come save with POSB but pay $4.50 to deposit coins

Basically, this boy (and many other children) was given a free piggy bank from POSB to encourage them to put aside some spare change on a daily basis.

The boy religiously saves his spare pocket money, fills up his piggy bank to the brim, and happily trots to the local Post Office Savings Bank (POSB) to deposit his coins into his account.

I know how he must have felt. After all, there was a (somewhat) similar scheme when I was a kid. It was called Squirrel Savers or something like that. I still have the ceramic piggy bank. I say 'somewhat' because things have changed.

You see, the boy deposits his hard-earned 500-plus coins and finds out that he has amassed a princely sum of $86.60. For a kid his age, it must be a fortune. To suddenly see a figure of $86.60 is akin to a windfall!

Alas, there's a catch. The article goes on to explain that this poor boy has to fork out $4.50 to get his coins counted. It's an administrative fee from POSB.


Let's do some financial analysis here:

$4.50 is 5.20% of his savings;

At current POSB interest rates of (a meagrely) 0.25% per annum, this poor boy has to save $1800 (ONE THOUSAND EIGHT HUNDRED) a year just to cover his stupid admin fee of $4.50.

Is this fleecing or what?!?!??!?!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Politicians Should Endorse Hindu Priests

Amidst the UN Global Warming conference of sorts held in Bali, Indonesia, some hindu priests are urging a day of complete silence in a bid to fight global warming. Apparently, it stems from an ancient Balinese tradition that requires the entire resort to totally 'switch off' everything and all activities for a day, just so that ghosts and spirits will perceive that Bali is 'uninhabitated' and souls of the living will not be stolen. It also requires that all islanders keep silent - not even uttering a word - to ensure that spirits are convinced.

The article can be read here.

Since many of the world's leaders and politicians are in Bali for the talks, perhaps they should follow suit and endorse the hindu priests.

After all, from a very practical point of view, politicians are so full of hot air anyway. Their silence will certainly fight global 'warming'!

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Someone Shares My Views, 2.5 Years Later...

I wrote a post in June 2005 about the impracticality of wearing long-sleeved business shirts in Singapore: (referenced here)

And today, some 2.5 years later, some valient hero writes about it in the Straits Times Forum. Only now, there is more worldwide focus on climate changes and he's coming from the very practical way of looking at it from the energy conservation angle. Way to go Francis! (I don't know him). His article is reproduced here:

Energy conservation - do away with suits and ties

DESPITE numerous articles and discussions regarding the low temperature setting of air-conditioners in Singapore, we still observe waste of such energy.

Last week, at the opening event of the Energex 2007 conference in Suntec, various distinguished speakers highlighted the point of energy conservation. It was ironical that the room in which the participants were gathered was uncomfortably cold.

While I am sure that the National Environment Agency is trying to educate (why not enforce?) those in building and facilities management roles, I feel that changes are not happening fast enough. This issue is not new as Minister Lim Swee Say's inspiring speech on April 28, 2001, at an American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Engineers (Singapore Chapter) event already highlighted this challenge.

Perhaps the reluctance to change stems from the fact that Singapore has adopted the Western dress-code (for men) of the tie and long-sleeved shirt. Is this practical for our climate? I have not met a single person who was unhappy to remove his tie when the opportunity arose. Because we, in Singapore, have set a social decorum on 'business' dress-code, on top of the culture of 'giving face', we have created an impractical fashion in business.

It could be that the air-cons are set so cold to accommodate those in ties (and suits). Well, that looks like a problem that could be solved.

Boldly, I suggest two possibilities:

1. The Singapore Government sets a rule that it is absolutely acceptable if participants of their meetings (with vendors, corporate companies, international visitors and also internal) need only dress smart (that is, neat). Do away with ties and long-sleeved shirts, and I'm sure that the private commercial organisations will follow. Essentially, donning a suit and tie is voluntary, and at the wearer's own risk of discomfort. Is this too radical? Check out the Japanese government which introduced the 'no tie' summer look, breaking decades of tradition. They have removed the fear of 'not giving face'.

2. Create a new Singapore business dress-code. Each time I travel to the Philippines, I am always impressed with how the barong shirt is accepted as business attire. Yes, we have the batik shirt - but how many of us truly accept this as normal day-to-day business wear?
If we dress right, we eliminate another reason for setting low air-con temperatures unnecessarily. Coupled with the increased awareness and education programmes regarding energy conservation, I believe that Singapore will be seen as a nation that 'walks the talk'.

Francis Wong Tai Yin