Saturday, August 26, 2006
My cell phone alarm went off yesterday reminding me of Mom's physiotherapy appointment this morning at 9:15am. As usual at Tan Tock Seng Hospital Medical Centre B1.
Getting a cab is a breeze nowadays, since the fare raise. Having a bad reputation with punctuality, I am certain I can no longer use the "could not get a cab" or "no-cab-in-sight" excuse anymore, even if it was true.
The cabs are cruising empty almost everywhere I looked. Hard times for the cab drivers, but that is another story to be heard and told.
As usual, fetched both my parents at the same spot.
Mom looked particularly fresh and energetic, while Dad was kind of sleepy. They had a good day shopping with elder Sis yesterday. Good for them, they get to go out of the house.
We reached the hospital 10 minutes late, but we did not have to wait long when our queue number 0021 was called 5 minutes after we sat at the waiting area.
There Mom's Physiotherapist Ms Fong Lin was waiting with a smile as usual.
It was a proud moment for Mom when she stopped Dad pushing the wheelchair halfway and walked. She walked effortlessly with a straight posture and quick paced.
Ms Fong Lin was so impressed with her recovery. I know I was too. Dad just smiled. They did not say anything on our way to the hospital. I was indeed a pleasant surprise for me. All those trips to the therapy really bare fruition today.
She wanted to show the therapist that she has been exercising as advised and improved her condition tremendously.
The usual checks, and questions from Ms Fong Lin as she checked movements of Mom's legs, but unlike other sessions, she was not felling any sudden sharp pain anymore.
Mom was delighted, Ms Fong Lin was too. She told me she was giving an "open date" for Mom's next therapy. I told Ms Fong Lin to look at Mom's face when I told her the news.
As expected, a wide smile of relief was carved across Mom's face when she heard the news. Everyone smiled.
The moment was like a success story as the camera zoomed out and faded out.
The rest of the exercises, Mom did with zest. The last traction for year 2006 was in prone position. She hated it but persevered. I could see her face with great determination.
The attending nurse Ms Doreen was her usual chirpy self kept congratulating Mom for her quick recovery. A success story indeed today.
Of course all success stories need maintenance. Mom has to keep exercising as she has been doing at home to keep those muscles and joints healthy.
For old time sake, we had our brunch at TTSH Kopi Tiam. Both Mom and Dad had their old time favourite Yong Tau Foo while I just could not pass-off the yummy Penang Laksa.
We chatted long with our cup of coffee afterwards way passed lunch. I guess were were all in a happy mood.
To celebrate, we went... shopping! Singapore's favourite past time.
Walked across the road to Novena Square where Mom got her new watch strap adjusted at City And Chain. Both Dad and Mom were given matching watches by their grandchildren for their 58th wedding anniversary.
Stopped by Bata for Mom's new shoes. Dad was in a buying mood for Mom.
Then off we went to Causeway Point Shopping Mall; Mom's favourite shopping Mall near their home.
We took the MRT instead of the cab as usual from the hospital. Novena to Woodlands - 10 stations in all within half an hour. The journey was spent just talking. A fare of less than S$5.00 for all 3 of us as oppose to S$15.00 for a cab ride.
Did some window shopping at Causeway Point, had afternoon tea at MacDonald's. I got myself a S$2.00 brown leather belt.
Then off we went to the Bazaar outside the Mall for snacks and take-home dinners.
Sent them home and did some catching-up reading the Berita Harian past few days' issues while Mom and Dad insisted to cook my son's favourite dessert - Serawa Durian; good eaten with white bread or glutinous rice.
Left their home just after 5:00pm and get myself some "alone-time" during my 40 minutes journey home on board Service 168 from Woodlands Regional Bus Interchange back to Tampines Avenue 9.
I was ecstatic throughout the journey knowing that both Mom and Dad are now healthy and back to their happy selves again.
Life is good. Life is beautiful!
Tuesday, August 15, 2006
Came across an article in the Straits Times' Digital Life section on the recommended program downloads that will clear up lots... I mean lots of junk that reside in all parts of your harddisk.
What is great about it is that these are all free downloads.
Yes, free downloads are quite dangerous and very untrustworthy.
They harbour spyware, while some are malicious hiding identity-theft program, stealing your personal data, and some are just those darn embedded virus files that just make people's life hell when infected.
No, these download-ables are not malicious at all.
In fact these are from trusted sources that I swear by it. The most important of these are:
Anti-Virus Program: AVG Free Edition by Grisoft
- Link: http://free.grisoft.com
- Link: www.lavasoftusa.com
I downloaded it and tried it with great ease of use and great ease of mind that my PC was not vulnerable to either virus or spyware. Deleting unwanted junk was a button-press away.
Unfortunately, Microsoft has not extended its support worldwide yet and I had to uninstall it when it expired 90 days later. In replacement, the above free websites offer the programs for full protection for your computer free.
These are legitimate gunk removers.
No worries, I do not get commissions. I am using them and my PC almost flies like new again!
Sunday, August 13, 2006
After the tireless stake-out after stake-out for that illusive moment of capturing the postcard-perfect picture of fireworks the whole week, I received a nice and heart-warming postcard from a friend.
It was a postcard from Club Rainbow Singapore.
The organisation that I support with donations to help out chronically ill children and their families cope with their perpetual medical expenses.
For these unfortunate but beautiful children, I wish them well.
In the front, the postcard reads:
"Look What You Have Done!"
At the back it reads:
"Your continued support of Club Rainbow has enabled some40 children warded in KK Women's and Children's Hospital to receive free bedside tuition.
These daily classes, conducted by MOE-qualified teacher, are tailored to help children catch up with the lessons that they have missed in school.
Now doesn't that feel good!"
It sure does! Rainbows in my heart.
I am able to make a difference to someone else's life with my small contribution. It is oh... so satisfying to receive good news that everyone matters.
Did not get that perfect picture, but what a perfect feeling to end the weekend.
Have you done a good deed for the day? You have!
Great! Enjoy that good feeling inside... You are a good person.
Saturday, August 12, 2006
Alright, I guess you already noticed from the title that I do not speak a word of French.
I am however, able to appreciate its fantastic finale to the Singapore Fireworks Festival 2006 held at Marina Bay last Saturday, 12 August 2006.
From Wify's shop at Bugis Village, my son and I took the TransIsland bendy-bus Service 960 at Parco Bugis Junction right to Marina Centre.
From there, we already had the left-over place to set our cameras - me with my Lumix FZ10 and my son with is Sony Ericsson K610i movie. I know, he should have brought his digicam.
He did not want to go actually, but I persuaded him to, rather than sitting at home with his NeoPets PC games that he can play anytime after he does his homework.
He was actually glad that he came and witnessed the spectacular finale Team France had to offer the thousands that came to Marina Bay. What a brilliant show it was!
We were early by 45 minutes, but knowing Singaporeans, they came even earlier, picnicking just as I have thought of planning. We all think alike here. Small island, ESP seemed strong...
I just had to set my camera underneath the Benjamin Shears Bridge. It was quite a breezy night, so it really helped a lot dissipating the body heat off from the packed crowd.
It was quite intimidating to see so many photographers with sophisticated pro-looking cameras and tripods, long and wide lenses already attached to them, ready to begin, and nothing to do but looking at me setting my "equipment."
Groups of these photographers taking about angles and exposure... pointing here and there, gesturing finger frames, planning their shoot. Interesting to listen, but I caught no balls.
Set my camera to A under A/S/M dial, ISO to 200 and test-shot several pictures of the Business District skyline. It turned out good. It was time to wait.
When it started and every camera there started clicking, I had the first few photos all blurred-out and over exposed from the LCD screen. The auto-focus was not working with me.
Panicked, I just switched it to Program mode leaving the ISO at 200 still. Only then I got the sharper pictures, lots of it.
Some are great looking, while some sucked. My timing was still off. The camera could not save fast enough for another snap to take place.
Mental Note: Buy a 1 or 2 Gigabyte high-speed SD Card end this month at the upcoming PC Show!
OK. I understand now, why the other cameras have wide-angled lenses. The place that we were was good, but just too close to fit a normal lens... thus the fancy attachments on their cameras. Duh!
Nonetheless, as a consolation, I was able to get some wonderful-looking photos for my self. Yes! Never mind the picture-perfect, postcard-looking professional photos. I got my own.
Team France did an all out finale number and got an even louder cheers and claps from the crowd. Very overwhelming, when you get to see those very large balls of sparkles right above you.
With pontoons on the river, the finale had the whole Marina Bay land and water filled with bright fireworks that lasted 15 minutes. Awesome! Just awesome.
Well, by looking at my pictures, the clear lack of photography techniques will make one assume thit was nothing much, but one has to be there to actually witness nothing less than spectacular show to appreciate it.
My son was so excited that when he showed me the video he took with his cell phone, that he unwittingly pressed the delete instead of the save button.
We looked at each other, eye brows raised. Stunned and silent for a moment, and then burst out laughing in shock. Wify will never get to see the magic Team France did.
"Ayah, why don't they make a trash can icon in the phone like PCs have?" my son asked, knowing fully it was just wishful thinking.
We can never recover the video back. There is no "restore" command!
Anyway, It was a great finale befitting the wonderful spirit of our National Day Celebrations!
Oh wait! The celebration has not finished yet!
There will be block-buster movies being screened at The Padang on a giant screen. Free for all who wishes to picnic on the open field in front of the City Hall.
Great opportunity for another session of night photography! My calendar is marked.
A picture may paint a thousand words, but this next national family outing will cast thousands of smiles. No doubt!
Happy Birthday Singapore!
Thursday, August 10, 2006
It was my first time taking photos of fireworks with my Panasonic Lumiz DMC-FZ10 digital camera.
The result was not at all satisfying for me, and I know the camera can do much better. I just need to know how exactly, and get opportunities to practice on it.
I think taking fireworks is the next toughest thing after taking flying insects and animals in the wild. They are never still and can never anticipate their next move.
It is already tough taking pictures in the dark at night, it is even more tricky with fireworks. Anticipating when it the fireworks will burst into brilliant sparkles for that precise moment to snap.
After taking several times, I begin to appreciate how tough it really is to take good pictures. Fireworks especially.
Everyone who thronged Marina Bay had a fair chance to snap their masterpieces, but the true-blue photographer captures incredible moments, almost unbelievable photos.
Definitely one needs a lot of interest in photography to drive ones passion to having lots of practices and sharpen one's techniques.
Having the correct "tools" definitely is a plus point, but getting to know and optimized one's camera's capabilities definitely is a must.
As for me, I guess I do not really want it bad enough to improve.
Instead, like any "touristy" shutter-bug person that I am, I will leave the skills to the camera's features to do the job... though having a high-speed SD Card will definitely help - the split-second timing required to snap another picture immediately after the previous picture is saved into the memory card.
What I have been babbling all this while is because I received an email from a friend that has photos... I mean real pro-looking photos of the first, from a series of fireworks displays from around the world in the Singapore Fireworks Festival 2006.
These are from Team Italy that was held on 5th August 2006.
Photos taken from a person named Willie Yeo. I do not know who he is, but his work is just awesome!
So perfect in my eyes that I become sceptical as to whether these photos had gone through very intense touch-ups. No messy clouds of smoke to blurry the brilliance of the sparkles.
Perfect timing with all the fireworks and streaks in symmetry. Flawless! Unbelievable...
Yes, It is true. It is my jealousy that's talking.
Anyway, do not mind me... great job Willie Yeo! Very motivating to aspiring photography buffs.
I am happy though, that I get to collect Team Italy's work that I missed watching. And from the photos, I now know where the best spot to take fireworks at Marina Bay is.
That is... only if I am willing to stake-out the place 1 or 2 hours earlier before anyone concurs the spot first.
Maybe I can have a family picnic at that spot and the fireworks as a finale to our family outing. Sounds like a good idea...
Wednesday, August 09, 2006
The National Day Parade 2006 fireworks display was able to be viewed right from our home! How cool was that!
This year's national celebration was held at the Kallang National Stadium for the last time before the stadium is torn down to make way for the new Sports Hub.
Since we did not get to win free tickets to view the parade live, we watched it on TV like all previous years... but with a little difference this year.
We get to watch the fireworks right from our 5th multi-storey car park.
The parade was telecast live starting at 6:00pm and when the finale was about to begin coming to 8:00pm, we set off to the car park roof top and set our camera on a tripod there.
Surrounded by the clusters of flats, we could see children as well as adults "perched their heads" on their kitchen and bedroom windows awaiting for the fireworks to start.
The rousing sing-along of this year's My Island Home song resonated off the buildings as the children with all their might sang it while their eyes peeled to the direction of the National Stadium.
We could not see the stadium itself, the bright light shining out towards the night sky gave a very good indication of where the stadium was.
I pointed my camera toward that direction with my trigger finger ready. All set with A/S/M mode selected, Exposure with ISO 200 and 12X zoom done.
On cue, when the children from the blocks finished singing the song, the fireworks began. It was thrilling to see it live, not on TV, but on the rooftop this year.
It was the same response, just like yesterday's Marina Bay fireworks display by Team Singapore... the Wows! and the Woohoos! The cheers and the claps. My son was no exception. All so wonderful.
I get to capture the fireworks from miles away, not as spectacular as being their, but beautiful sparkles in the skies nonetheless.
We intended to go to Marina Square shopping centre, but dreaded the traffic there that will be at its worst when it going home time.
Thanks to a cab driver I happened to talk to, who told me that his family could see and have been watching live fireworks right from their 13th storey balcony in Pasir Ris. Wow!
That gave me an idea to watch is live on the car park 2 blocks away from our flat.
Too bad Wify was at her shop tonight. With some snacks and drinks, it would have been a family affair on the roof top.
Anyway, Happy National Day, Singapore!
National Day Parade is the highlight of every birthday party Singapore celebrates.
My first attempt to get free NDP tickets via online bidding was unsuccessful, so like every year, I will be watching it live on TV with my family instead.
At least, my son had the chance to watch the preview as any Primary 5 and 6 students would get the opportunity to. He thoroughly enjoyed it. Not to mentioned the interesting goodies each person was given to use to participate in the celebration there, as well as taking it home.
Here's wishing Singapore
Happy 41st Birthday!
Happy 41st Birthday!
Tuesday, August 08, 2006
Went to work armed with my Lumix FZ10 Digital Camera today.
The mood at work was happy and festive. The fact the everybody was happy that tomorrow is National Day, no work... a break in the week to relax and celebrate the independence.
My usual "lunch group" and I went outside to have our lunch and met several other groups doing the same. Definitely everyone was in good spirits on the eve of the holiday.
Went to Wify's shop right after work, to help her out. There was a good crowd today with the happy shopping mood. Good for everyone.
Our son took the train from home to meet us there. Just in time for dinner at Burger King and a take-out for Wify, before we took bus Service 130 from Bugis Junction to The Padang to watch the fireworks.
Tonight was the fireworks display from Team Singapore.
We were a tat too late, missing about 5 minutes of the opening display, the bus route around the Padang vicinity was too crowded even with proper controls by the traffic police.
There literally thousands of people, local as well as tourists, thousands! To my right, a family from the US. Their little girl on her mother's shoulders, while their dad was busy taking pictures of the fireworks and them enjoying the display.
Behind me was a couple of Japanese ladies in their 50s. Easily identifiable, typical of Japanese tourists with their white blouses and skirts or pants, pale-coloured hats, latest model camera in their hands and those polite smiles.
Accompanied by the NDP 2006 music, the fireworks danced with the each song amid the Wows! and the Woohoos! as the night skies in Marina Bay was lit a-bright with many colours, many flowery patterns.
The moon was not alone tonight. It witnessed our celebration too.
Unfortunately, from where we were, we could not see the intricate dancing fireworks just above ground that complete the whole display theme, but only the high-flying shooting stars of brilliant colours.
We enjoyed the 15 minutes display all the same anyway.
Took lots of photos and they looked good on the LCD display. I only realized that the camera setting was not properly set to ISO, but only with the film setting at 200 and alternately set at 400.
I lost the true brilliance of the fireworks in the pictures. Sigh.
Guess I was just too excited and distracted by the large balls of beautiful fire bursting in the sky when we arrived and just started clicking away. I could not use the tripod stand as it was not able to go above the heads of people in front.
A good thing though, since I used my hands to hold steady these night shots, the unintentional setting to "P" auto-exposure had kept the photos from becoming blurry. Of course the Mega O.I.S. helped.
Well, the first time is never the best. I will have several more attempts at his night, especially fireworks photography as there are 2 more fireworks displays scheduled to take place at the same location.
Last Saturday was from Team Italy, tonight was from Team Singapore, this coming Friday night will be from Team New Caledonia and the last, that will be on Saturday night is from Team France. All at 9pm.
These countries were all invited to showcase their talent in fireworks displays here, in celebration of National Day.
Saturday, August 05, 2006
I know I was missing on something spectacular today.
At 9pm tonight, there was a first in a series of fireworks displays from several countries, in conjunction with the National Day celebrations.
Tonight was the fireworks display from Team Italy.
I read in the newspapers about the festival, but Wify needed some help to display some of her new stuff the came, and fortunately enough I was there to help her out as the crowd was incredible. A brisk business today. Yes!
Anyway, there will be 4 more spectacular displays to capture. I just hope I am able to witness it with my son at least. Wify can take-it or leave-it on fireworks, my son and I are just children who get excited with bright lights.
Well, one is a true child and the other still with child-like awe inside.
An opportunity to practice night-photography with a twist of correct anticipation of bursting fireworks before clicking the button, is coming my way. On tripods, definitely.
I am very excited and the child inside me just I cannot wait!
Friday, August 04, 2006
How is this for hanging out!
Our baby hamsters are fun to watch. They are just like human children... playing, frolicking and climbing every where.
We can always see the child-like antics, no matter what being we are; humans or animals... in this case the hamsters.
At first I thought one of the baby hamster was stuck in between the side of the cage and the hamster wheel. It appeared lifeless with its 4 legs hanging out of the cage. Its eyes shut and was very still.
A a closer look and it was breathing, but was it still stuck?
I touched its legs, and it woke up and moved a little to make itself more confortable, then fell back to sleep.
Wow! A hammock it seems.
It reminded me of the many funny videos of babies dozing off while being bathed, or during meal times and even while playing.
This one exhibited exactly like any baby does. Dozing off while playing. Very adorable, that I just had to take pictures of it.
My son and I had a good laugh while snapping the pictures, and the laughter continued when Wify got back and was shown the pictures.
Wonderful creatures, these hamsters are. We have yet to name them since they looked all the same.
Over a month old, now they have become distinctive in their looks that we can distinguish the 2 males and 4 females.
Like my son said, we should start to name each of them because each of them has their own funny antics worth to sharing a laughter together.
Now, to snap a picture of the hammies doing the monkey bars!
Thursday, August 03, 2006
This is something stupid that should not get bothered with...
I have a working colleague who is a nice person... quite a reserved character, but sometimes gives out deep and insightful comments on the working conditions here and even what the world has become.
So far, so good. I do not really know about the rest of the "tea-break" group, but it sort of bothers me to look at him and put out a straight face while talking or listening to him with his nose hair jutting out of both nostrils.
Not a piece of nose hair, accidentally overlooked when one grooms in the morning before going to work, but a whole chunk of long and thick black hair that you cannot deny spotting it a mile away!
I can understand if you keep a moustache and beard starting from the nostril, down to the beard.
One would look either wise like a professor, then again some people may look like accidentally look gangterish... if there is a word for it... but the bunch of them?! No!
I cannot help it but my eyes will trail down to his "well-hung" nose hair and subconsciously trying to spot any "golden retrievers." Yucks!
I should not care whatever he chooses to, or not to do about his "facial hair", definitely none of my business... but for him to join us only during meal times, really freaks me out.
Imagine trying to eat your food while talking to him... trying very hard not to look at his face but listening and nodding intently... with my mind shouting "Yucks! Yucks! Think happy thoughts!" and munch and swallow.
Strangely, no one in the group has ever talked about it before.
Maybe they have no qualms about it at all, maybe I am being overly sensitive about someone's personal choice... or maybe no one really knows how to bring subject up for fear of being too... errr... gossipy? Totally uncool!
It bothered me then and it still bothers me now. Does it not bother anyone else but me...?
I just do not want to see him when he has runny nose.... No! No! Think happy thoughts!
Tuesday, August 01, 2006
Alright, alright! It was my big, fat idea!
Since we had lovely hamsters - Puffy and Buddy a few months back, they have grown and procreated like all good hamsters do.
6 more addition to the family at a blink of an eye, it seems.
Now, over a month of babies... maybe teenagers in hamster years, the cage seemed just too crowded. Even their parents do not think they are cute anymore as they compete for space.
That was where I came in.
Needing a bigger space, I use the word "big" here in its true sense... I hunted for the ideal hamster cage, but the biggest was just still too small to me.
I finally found one at Sam's Pet Shop in Marine Parade Promenade.
Bigger than the ones I have seen, at one third the cost too. At S$49.00 it was a perfect find!
Well... it was perfect when I pictured it before I bought it and all the potential the cage could be once I "remodelled" on it.
It was not a hamster cage, but a bird cage instead. A canary cage to be exact.
Well, the bars are narrow enough like a hamster cage. Yes, there were 2 wooden bars across it for the birds to perch on, but it was made into a second storey living by yours truly.
A piece of black plastic corrugated board costing only $3.50, did the trick!
Made strips at base around the bottom to contain the wood shavings bedding. A 2nd floor with a trap door in the centre where an unused toy train track was attached and used as a ladder for the hammies.
And viola! A Hamster Mansion!
It looked great. Big, airy and oh... so much space for roam around. A big sand bath-tub, a big toilet tub and two wheels for all the active youngsters... perfect!
I was proud of myself.
Moved the happy family... well, they were bickering for space I think, and watched them moved around the mansion.
Everything was well and good since late morning. They were busy IDing their place. I felt great for the and told Wify she should not have any worries that the teenagers would escape.. like many teenage runaways.
When she came back from her shop late in the evening, I told here everything was great. There and then, 1 teenager found a slightly larger space between the bars and escape!
What a blow for me, but what a relief to have it happen right in front of our eyes. How the heck can a hamster flatten itself like that? It was freaky!
Yikes! Already late a night, time to turn-in... and this happens!
Took a fine wire and patched up the slightly spaced-out bars. That should do it.
I sure did... for the teenager! An exodus of baby hamsters escaped the next morning! 3 of them!
So then begin the nightly vigils to spot the escapees, when we could not find any one of them after we searched the whole house. Every nook and cranny.
Armed with a mattress, a pillow and a torch light, I slept in the living room... being a light sleeper and all.
I gave up after the 2nd night, but found 1 scurrying underneath the sofa, trying to go towards the "Mansion" on the 3rd night of my vigilante work.
1 found 2 to go.
Wify happened to see one scurrying towards the "Mansion" on the 4th night after dinner. We caught it behind the big house.
2 found and 1 to go!
Then finally, our son found one... well, it woke him up from his vigilante work on Friday night. We chased it and caught it finally, in our closet in our master bedroom.
There, we saw food and other hamster leftovers. It took refuge there all these time.
Yes! All accounted for, finally!
We had to put all the teenagers back to their old home while their parents remained in the big house.
Then, Puffy went missing!
Just 2 days after everything was fine, Puffy escaped the mansion through the slide-up door. She has yet to be found. Guess she went out to buy a pack of cigarettes and never returned.
Buddy was left alone int he big mansion and soon could clearly be seen going nuts!
We could not mix him nor Puffy with the children as they will fight with their own gender. My best guess is its animal kingdom's primal instinct for supremacy and competition for procreation.
So Buddy had to stay isolated from his children. His only solace is our son's company when he brings him out to play with.
2 weeks past and then Buddy went missing! No!
Our son was the hardest hit when Buddy went missing. It was his favourite, ours too.
He could hardly eat any lunch, just frantically look for Buddy around the house. My primal instinct told me that Buddy will be found.
That was because Buddy is the most mild mannered and kind to all other hamsters so far. He also responds to us when his name is being called. He is not afraid of humans and will surely come onto our palm as I think he likes to be patted.
Our son did not touch his dinner either. He was truly very sad without Buddy.
Since Buddy is truly the best hamster in the world, he appeared in my gym room, while I was using my PC. I was delighted to see him.
I called out to him and place my palm on the floor. He came toward me and onto me palm. No chasing, scrambling or grabbing necessary.
Everyone was overjoyed. Our son placed him back in his Mansion and lock the doors this time.
His appetite came back instantly. He finished a plate of Chicken Rice in record time.
Buddy is the best!
Where the heck is Puffy now...?!