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

Friday, February 29, 2008

"This Should Never Have Happened"....

...... and DPM Wong goes on to say sorry for the security lapse that led to the escape of Mas Selamat Kastari, the JI leader.

This must be one of the 'Sorry seems to be the hardest word' moments. After all, the escape has sparked off a massive manhunt for the fugitive. Even the Interpol has roped in efforts, together with the goverments of Malaysia and Indonesia.

With it are also pressing issues that even I cannot really fathom:
  1. This guy is a JI leader who once plotted to crash a jet plane into Changi Airport. With such evil terrorist intentions, then why is he just kept in a 'detention centre'? Seems like a minimum security place to house such terrorist, right?
  2. Why is the focus - for a couple days running - seemingly at the Goldhill area (immediately next to the detention centre)? Dude, if I was an escapee in Singapore with her world class transport system, I'd have the luxury and ease of hopping into a cab and fleeing far far away. After all, news of the escape was only made public a few hours later. Therefore plenty of time to escape.
  3. Likewise if I were a terrorist leader capable of plotting massive harm, would I be running around on unbeaten paths in a small forested area in Singapore?
  4. Again, if I was running away, would I run into an all girls' school (SCGS)? Heck, the mere sight of a man (whether limping, beard, clean-shaven, Muslim, or what-not) would have triggered some suspicion, right? Or can male strangers just walk in freely into all girls' schools? Another 'security lapse'?

But honestly, despite such pressing questions, I actually have some faith in our homeland security matters. Perhaps it's - as usual - the way the media plays things up. They portray schools as possible hiding places and such. I don't know, but it makes the whole operation look so silly and carelessly put together.

I just don't believe that a security lapse occured. Even if it truly occured, I would think that our homeland security planners would have looked more professional. It's an uneasy feeling... it just seems kinda 'relaxed' on the homefront, yet the Interpol and our neighbours are on high alert.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Left Behind? For 18 days?

I just saw this article in the Straits Times. It's about a M'sian girl who "was accidentally left behind by her university group" in Gunung Tahan.

The article goes on to say that she fell into a river and she survived on a few sticks of chocolate (won't they melt into gooey stuff?), and that she was eventually discovered by a Russian couple and their guide when she was screaming for help.

Thing is: If she was supposedly 'accidentally left behind', then why for the longest time did no one send for search parties? Was she THAT unpopular?

This is classic SABO case.....

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Confidence Paid Off

There are some things that you just have awesome gut-feel. There's a sense of certainty and surety that borders along the lines of complacency, yet you take the backseat approach because it's just gonna happen....

Some things. You just know......

and these are the reasons why I know Singapore can! Coz I'm a Singaporean.

Here's pride and I'm not showing off. We've worked hard and we reap our benefits.

Youth Olympics in 2010. That's what I said in April the moment the president of IOC made the announcement in Beijing.

Well done Singapore. Let's get to work!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

and 15 years later... ....

circa 1993

14 Feb 2008

Now let's play a little "Spot-the-Difference" game

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Teaching is Indeed Rewarding

I received a telephone call some 2 weeks ago from a former student of mine. I was doing relief teaching at CJC for almost 7 months in 2002. He seeked some advice on overseas universities, and apparently he clinched several offers from colleges in the UK. Only thing was that (at the time of phonecall), he hadn't heard from the university of his choice (a highly-reputable one) and so he was kinda concerned if some further steps needed to be taken or not (appeal, transfer, etc.). The former student of mine was the least known to be academically-interested in his studies. I knew him as a playful chap with a streak of leadership abilities in him. He was in the SC but his focus on studies was below par amongst his peers. Then again, boys will be boys. Been there, done that myself. Who was I to nag? I could only encourage him to do his best, and let him be responsible for his own actions. We fall once; we fall twice. Sometimes we keep falling, but we always get up and move on. Failure is the route to Success.

And so the phonecall took me by surprise. Here was the very same student who has dreams and aspirations. Aiming high and getting there. I'm very proud of him. Keep up the good work, ZJ!

In that short 5-minute conversation, I sensed a tinge of fulfillment. It was a feeling that perhaps only some teachers would understand - a sense of reward, a certain sense of security to know that your former wards are doing fine.

Last night I met up with Mrs Low my former Vice Principal in CJ. She has aged quite abit (oh come on, it's been 15 years!). Together with Anston and Angtau, we had dinner in Marine Parade. It was great meeting up with Mrs Low, and I'm sure she's very happy to know that we are all successful people in our own right.

This morning (13 Feb 2008), she sent me a picture we took together w-a-y back in 1993.

Yep, the 'anorexic' figure is me. Times were bad then (just joking).

I've been in different career paths, and I can vouch that the sense of fulfilment in different jobs are very different. Teaching is truly a rewarding career if one has the passion to nurture and guide - just like Mrs Low had a very positive effect on us.


Is it a national linguistic phenomenon of sorts? Only in Singapore (alright, I haven't heard it in M'sia or other parts of the world yet) that some people pronounce Melbourne as 'Mel-boom' or 'Mel-berm' instead of 'Mel-buurn'.

And since it is the time of romance, we often hear (even on national radio!) people pronounce Valentine's Day as 'Valen-times' instead of 'Valen-tyne's' Day.

Which cunning linguist started this trend? Why and How did the fatal phonetical mistake catch on with so many people here?

Thinking too much or too little

I read in today's newspapers that someone is querying on the potential health hazards of burying our beloved Singapore icon, Ah Meng the Orang Utan, near the edge of Seletar Reservoir. The author is concerned over the health hazards posed to our source of water supply.

I'm not sure what to make of the 'query'.

Is the author ignorant? Is he aware that most of our water bodies are in the open and are therefore susceptible to all kinds of contaminants anyway? Is he aware that there are live creatures that lurk within the waters as well? And yes, these live creatures will also die and decompose or are eaten up by other hungry ugly-looking creatures like snakeheads, monitor lizards, terrapins, and reticulated pythons. Does he know that our water supply will be treated by advanced state-of-the-art technology even before it becomes drinkable (potable)? Heck, even our wastes (shit, urine, puke, what-have-you) can be treated by Newater processes. What is a single Orang Utan compared to huge water bodies? By the way, contaminants are derived in parts per million (ppm), so the volume of Ah Meng is almost negligible to the volume of water.

Or maybe the author is thinking too much: Is Ah Meng buried in a coffin that might have lead content? Or perhaps Ah Meng the Orang Utan is a 'foreign body' because never before have dead Orang Utans been introduced into our water supply (hmmm... a little taste of Sumatra there?)?

I really cannot fathom why some people ask such questions anyway. Might as well say that while Ah Meng was alive, her fart might just have been a potential cause for the haze problem sometime back!

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Gong Hei Fatt Choy! MTV

Here's wishing everyone a happy Gong Xi Fa Cai! May the new year bring about health, wealth... and luck! :)

Monday, February 04, 2008

Poon Choy Diaries - Part Three: The Final Product

And here's the final installment of the Poon Choy Diaries. I brought the layered smorgasbord of yummy delicacies to grandma's house. In a separate container was the cjup (gravy) from the first layer and some 'clam juice'.

For the final gravy, I boiled the mixture of 'First Layer cjup' and clam juice with some cornflour.

Then I poured the gravy over the 'poon choy' pot..... and voila, it was ready for consumption. :)

Everyone liked it - the Munn Choy 2008 Special!

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Poon Choy Diaries - Part Two

I woke up this morning to the fragrant smell of last night's preparation. Yum yum......

then I decided I'd add some tofu and fatt choy into last night's cauldron of yummy stuff. Then I covered the heated pot in the vacuum container and went off for church.

I came home and started on Part Two proper. Let the layering begin! First layer: the mixture of yummy stuff, but I drained off the gravy.

The I blanched some broccoli, and added the vegetable on top of the mixture (that's the 2nd layer, btw)

Ahhh... 3rd layer consists of fish maw. I crisscrossed them for the heck of it.

Then I opened a can of pacific clams and a can of razor clams; bathed them in boiling water for a couple of minutes, then formed the 4th layer of goodies.

The 5th layer was more fatt choy (a kind of seaweed that looks like hair)... and voila, my version of Poon Choy (aka Munn Choy).

Gonna bring it to grandma's house for the reunion dinner. But before everyone tucks in, I'd have to prepare the gravy......

Stay tuned for the final installment of... The Poon Choy Diaries!

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Poon Choy Diaries - Part One

The cantonese call it 'Poon Choy' and it's also known as 'pen cai' in mandarin. I first tried it almost 2 years ago with some colleagues at Crystal Jade. I thought it was worth the shot in making this dish since it's basically a smorgasbord of chinese delicacies all layered in a single claypot. My attempt last Lunar New Year made it look more like "Buddha Jumps Over The Wall" dish. This year, I'm attempting it again and I'll spend alittle bit more effort in learning from last year's 'mistake'. I'll specifically cook each layer and then separate them out carefully to achieve that 'layering' effect at the final presentation. I shall call this concoction the 'Munn Choy', coz 'munn' in cantonese sounds like 'braising', and I intend to prepare the dish like so.

To start the ball rolling, I prepared the first layer today with the hopes that keeping the mixtured broth overnight would make it tastier tomorrow (in time for tomorrow night's prematured reunion dinner):

Ingredients for first layer: pork belly, dried oysters, shitake mushrooms, button mushrooms (not shown), cinnamon bark and star anise spice (not shown)

Stir fry the pork belly until fragrant and slightly crispy. Make sure wok is hot (that means heating the wok for a couple of minutes before throwing pork belly into wok)

Then throw in the dried oysters (washed), and stir fry with pork belly.

Add water, shitake mushrooms, button mushrooms and the spices into the wok and braise the mixture. Oh yes, cover the wok.

I transferred the mixtured broth into a vacuum pot to cook it further (and overnight).

Stay tuned for tomorrow's Poon Choy Diaries......