Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Joy And Sorrow

Today is a day of mixed feelings... of both extremes.

I was not as productive at work today as I would normally consider myself to be. The euphoria that started yesterday still lingered on and created much distraction for most part of the day.

My new toy on my desk charging and syncing with iTunes was just too much to ignore by everyone. No, this much revered communication-cum lifestyle gadget is not to be blamed... the people owning them are, me included.

Today, several iPhone-owner friends came over to my desk upon hearing the news that I have joined in the unofficial "Your got an iPhone... wow!" group. They willingly shared their tips of a better iPhone experience especially with third-party software.

Were too, those who fancy this revolutionary gadget stopped in their path to ogle at it. I was just as ecstatic today as I was yesterday when I first held my very own in the palm of my hand. I have yet to start exploring my iPhone...

"I have bad news to tell you, Ayah." Wifey paused over the phone. "Andy died this afternoon."

My heart just sank. Andy is one of the gentlest hamster we have in HamsterVille. He was born in HamsterVille and had been with us for the past couple of years.

Lately, he was not feeling too good after we discovered he developed a growth around his scent gland. It got bigger until he bit it bloody about to weeks ago.

Since then I had been nursing him; cleaning his open wound and feeding him antibiotics and the nutrition paste the Vet had given, apart from his normal diet of dried food and vegetables. He had been drinking lukewarm water mixed with pure honey which he loved.

He was considered too old to get the growth surgically removed and may not survive after that. Just after a week of nursing, it was encouraging to see his lump reduced in size, he regained his appetite but he turned for the worse.. kept panting somehow. He lost weight despite his good appetite.

"I fed him the paste and he drank a good amount of honey water too this morning." I told Wifey after a long pause. I always fed and checked on him every time I thought of him which was quite often. I made it a point to feed him every morning morning before I leave for work.

Deep down, I know Andy was not getting better. He stopped playing on the wheel as often and not anymore these few days. He became half awake most times, but still would try to come toward us when being called.

I was not sure if he was in constant pain, but guess it was his time. The pain should stop.

"Andy cried," Wifey replied "his eyes watered... Sonny showed me." Sounding sad over the phone.

I knew it too. He looked at me when I called him this morning, but was not too weak to come to me. I noticed Andy's watery eyes when I picked him up to feed him.

"Hey, how are you boy?" I talked to him as he was drinking the honey water through a syringe. "Andy's a good boy. Good boy." I had never seen him "cry" before this. I did not feel good when I left for work.

Most probably it was too painful for him towards the end. "Maybe he was sad to say good bye to his partner Angie and us." Wifey thought. Maybe we all were just being too sentimental.

"I buried him under the tree." Sonny pointing to the direction of the 3 palm trees beside our block,

I nodded as I entered the door coming back from work, "Poor Andy. We did our best for him here. Now he is in a better place." I replied.

"Now his pain has stopped." Sonny reassured everyone. Both Wifey and I nodded in agreement. I made my way to the bedroom to change...

"Sonny has something he wants to tell you." Wifey changed subject. I was puzzled.

Our son pulled out his Dunman Secondary School Report book and handed it over to me. It stated 6 A's and 3 B's for his first term tests on the 8 subjects.

Wow! Hurray! My heart screamed and jumped for joy as I kept my composure.

"I'm first in class." Sonny added calmed, but I could see it in his eyes that his heart is jumping with joy and ecstasy. He should.

"Well done son! I know you have it in you to always excel in what you do." I complimented him... rather plain come to think of it. "This means we're on for a celebration."

I promised Sonny that I would reward him with a hundred dollars if he was within the top 10 spots in his class of 41 students. Wifey promised him her hundred dollars if he was in the top 3.

Guess he has earned S$200.00 for being number one and for his efforts... consistently studying and revising with Wifey's tireless guidance. On top of that, Sonny has already earned several "ten dollars" for each subject as top scorer in his class.

It was such good news for us. It is a good indication that he has made a good transition from primary education to secondary and all the culture shocks that he has to go through as far as secondary school is concern.

Today has been quite a day of two extremes. Loosing a beautiful pet at one end, and a happy celebration of our only child achievements.

The sorrows and joys of life... still we must life passionately everyday and make it matter.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

iGot My iPhone!

Yes, dreams do come true.

I finally got my iPhone 8GB this evening for S$740.00 from a parallel importer who also did the unlocking for it to work with any GSM Service Provider... M1 in my case.

Stalking website for several days now and after several emails and contacts via SMSes, finally "David" responded with a favorable reply that ready-stocks were available. Yes! Phew!

Though I would rather have the 16GB model which was out of stock, the 8GB is still as good and more than enough memory than I could have hoped for.

All my ever-expanding songs collections, my work and home emails, together with appointments and calendar events updates, favourite pictures that I wish take along with me... and more storage for my insatiable urge to capture everyday interests in photos are now all in one large-screen, slim design, yet hardy techno gadget!

My colleague also jumped to the opportunity to own one when I told him of the available source. He too had been looking around for it for some time now.

So off we went to meet-up with "David" and "James" at Bedok Reservoir after work for a cash-on-delivery deal. We both got our sets working once our SIM cards were inserted and powered-on to a blissful graphics... a technical wonder in the palm of our hands.

Yes. I am guilty like Barbara from Trying To Catch Up when she said I love to shop. Definitely for techno-gadgets like this... within our financial means, of course.

It is an American Art a person should own. It is practical and it is beautifully designed. It is the only phone I will need for a very long, long time.

Nope, I am not a spokesman for the brilliant Cupertino company, but just an elated Apple fan.

I got home. Synced it to my iMac via iTunes and iAm iMpressed at its simplicity to just work. A trademark of Apple; to simplify a complicated life we thrust ourselves into... yes, at a premium but worth the investments.

As another friend who already owns a 4GB iPhone since early this year says "I'm full of happy cells when I got my iPhone."

So, Sonny got my DOPOD C800 after Wifey turned-down the complicated features she could not care about and will hardly use. He is tapping his hand-me-down PDA to mark his scent as owner, while my iPhone easily gets internet over my wireless home network.

Finally... I have happy cells tingling inside of me too.

Friday, March 21, 2008

A Good Friday

Technically, today is a good Friday for Wifey and I.

Yes, it is a Good Friday for the Christian faith and a public holiday here, but for Wifey and I, today was a very "good-buy" day.

Wifey's old Acer desktop PC had been acting-up for some time and until a few months back it refused to work anymore. She has been using Sonny's Laptop since in his room... "encroaching" his space.

An advert in The Straits Times by Courts MegaStore changed all that.

For only 10 Units, Acer Aspire M1100 PC with Windows Vista Home was selling for S$340.00 only! A catch though... for first-come-first-served customers only.

Though having a modest configuration of only 512MB RAM and 80GB Harddisk, the AMD Dual Core PC is good for computing and emails, enough for Wifey to use at home... always better than her old 4-year Pentium 4.

A simple upgrade with minimal cost to 2GB RAM will fire-up this PC hands down.

The pedestrian overhead bridge to IKEA & Courts Megastore

Wifey was filled with excitement when I told her about the PC ad over breakfast. Before the hour was over, we were out of our home to Courts MegaStore in Tampines Retail Park.

We had to rush down to the Customer Service Counter upon knowing that only customers with the 10 available coupons issued were allowed to purchase them. We were number 8. Phew!

What was amazing today, was the fact that it was our first time being successful in getting "Price-Leads" merchandise. We flew like early birds and got our worm. Yes!

Now Wifey is happy tapping away on her a brand new toy, while Sonny is happy he has his room all back to himself.

As for me, I can finally rest after hours toiling with the alien Windows Vista set-up, updates and peripheral installations. Those we the easy part. The tough part was to share the network amongst all the PCs and Mac we have at home.

Nonetheless, I take it as a labor of love, for my love.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Just Too Good!

I believe I am to blame for being naive... or it is tacky?

When something is just too good to be true, it probably is. I have learnt my lesson well... fortunately before the damage is done.

Being the Techno-geek that I am, the rage in Singapore... and the world over I believe is to own an Apple iPhone, even before it officially reaches the shores here.

Being a faithful character that I am, I have not looked at another cellphone the way I used to since I met iPhone. No communication tool is good enough for me anymore except iPhone.

So, like many here, I depend on HardwareZone marketplace, a local equivalent of eBay to purchase mine from parallel importers... but apparently with its own sets of risks if ignorant... well, stupid individuals like me is willing to respond to the too-good-to-be-true offer in the first place.

I do not blame the website for it because it also prominently displays an alert of rogue sellers claiming it as the guarantor for the transactions. It also reminds potential buyers to stick to its policy of using PayPal in its secure site than off-line Western Union or MoneyGram.

Curiosity killed the cat... well, this old tomcat did not die, but shaken. Taken for a ride when the seller from UK responded my email request to buy it a lower than the average offering price of S$900.00.

Simple ruse. Yet I fell for it... and almost to the bottom of the pit.

He replied on how the transaction was suppose to be carried out once eBay sends the invoice after I provided him with the "ship to" address.

"eBay" sent me a blank email but with address. The seller purportedly claimed eBay had informed him of problems with my email service provider. He asked me to give my Yahoo! or Gmail address instead, which I did.

Minutes later, the spoof email... very well, meticulously and accurately done email I might add, arrived into my Yahoo! Inbox.

The terms to pay by Western Union and not to mention eBay as the transaction agent was just too stark an evidence to be a fake email from eBay.

It triggered me to inquired eBay through Live Help. After forwarding the email to both eBay US and UK, both returned my email and confirmed that the transaction email I got was indeed a spoof. They have taken down the sellers ID and are investigating into the matter. Phew!

Why was I so tacky to try it out anyway?

The strong-turned-stupid desire to own a 16GB iPhone was just too much. It made me take the first step anyway against my logical sense AND my gut instinct telling me otherwise!

I would be S$500.00 poorer and very frustrated if not for eBay's Roy G. who was competently very helpful.

I was like a bug going into the blue ultra-violet light to be zapped... the irresistible light.

A sucker is born everyday... minutes maybe with such convincing phishing emails and fake websites. I repent.

Back to the right path. Mental note...
  • Always use legitimate website with its HTTPS domain for online transactions. Got it.
  • No giving out personal details over emails. Got it.
Oh, oh... I got mail. Later!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

What Fun af-Fair!

Sonny manning his Stick 'Em Up Games Stall

So this is how a department sales person would feel!

Standing, walking, attending to customers all day long... 8 to 12 hours a day. Wow! Hats off. My new found admiration to all the people in this profession out there.

It was 3:00PM and the Dunman Secondary School 6th Carnival event had finally came to a close. Phew!

The unpredictable Sticky Spiderman for Stick 'Em Up Game

It sure was hard work. Being there at 7:30AM for final preparations before the carnival officially started at 9:00AM with the school's own Lion Dance Troupe inaugurated the opening.

Like all schools here, Dunman Secondary School has been organizing this carnival and other fairs annually. All for the same purpose of collecting funds for a good cause. This carnival was meant especially to help the needy and less fortunate students of the school as well as their families with financial assistance.

Wifey manning her MARBLEous P!cks Game Stall

All three of us - Wifey, Sonny and myself were manning our two games stalls we called "Stick 'Em Up" and "MARBLEous P!cks" that we had conceived and made them ourselves from the games boards and props to decorating the stalls.

We even made "Game Master" badges for our Games Group.

Wifey busy entertaining players at her MARBLEous P!cks Game Stall

Since Sonny had been accepted to study his four years of secondary education, Wifey and I have been attending DSP or Dedicated Suportive Parents group meetings.

Wifey has been a true-blue veteran of parent volunteer since Sonny's primary school days at Saint Hilda's Primary... being a Reading Mom to help weak children learn to read and helping out at all the fun-fairs the school had in all 6 years Sonny was a student there.

Crowds picking-up at MARBLEous P!cks Games Stall

I am a first timer. I figured that I should be a little more involved since this secondary school years are the most important to mold him for tertiary education in his later years.

We chose to join the Games amongst the Food and Arts groups.

First Record Holder picking 8 marbles in one minute

When paired together to man a stall out of 8 game stalls, we decided that we create our own brand of games since all the games were the same last years and the years before. We thought that the student would need fresh new games and something more to their teenage age.

We were delightfully surprised when the DSP members gave a resounding applause in agreement after we presented our game sets we brought in.

Crowd having a great time playing Stick 'Em Up game

They played them and was full of praises for us... requesting us to "expand" our game sets to allow more players in one go. They were anticipating a good response from the people at the carnival and this collect more funds.

So it was back to the drawing board for Wifey and I.

My "Stick 'Em Up" using sticky Spiderman toys - the ones that when thrown onto a smooth wall will flip zig-zagging downward by gravity, had a player at a time to become four. The plastic white perforated board was increased from one extended to three.

Our proud Stick 'Em Up homemade Game Board & Rules

At the bottom of the board are plastic cups stuck across the board and labeled with either first and second prizes to win and booby traps if the spiderman falls into any of them.

Wifey's "MARBLEous P!cks" had another container to increase the number of players from two to four at a time. Picking up 6 marbles with chopsticks from a container filled with 2 inches of flour in to a bottle in 1 minute.

Good crowd at Stick 'Em Up Games Stall

Today turned out to be a fantastic day and a day I am very grateful for.

Firstly, it had been raining heavily for the past week, but it was sunny all day long today.

Secondly, I got to spend family time with Wifey and Sonny while entertaining the people at the carnival that came to our stalls to play. There were so many people and repeat customers too.

Christina Seet Stick 'Em Up First Record Holder of 3 1st Prizes

Thirdly, both of our games stalls turned out to be a hit amongst the people there. We placed coupons after coupons into our ticket box until it filled almost right to the top and we could see the coupon from the tiny slid.

It was worth our efforts to make the game sets and donated about a hundred dollars worth of prizes we bought from a wholesaler.

YiLing & Friend Stick 'Em Up Record of 8 1st Prizes

Fourthly, many people thought that our games stalls were the best and the most well-decorated amongst the many stalls there, they thought we were party planners. Many inquired if they could engage us for their children's parties.

We even got an order to replicate the exact "Stick 'Em Up" game set for her workplace to hold a family day. Wow!
Mr. Choong manning his Water Gun Shooting Game Stall

Many of the games stalls closed much earlier for some reason and the many sponsored prizes they were holding were given to our stalls since we ran out of prizes due to overwhelming response.

Anne on the right & friend manning the Egg Pong Game Stall

The DSP chariman had to tell the people there, still gatering around with coupons in their hands ready to play that our game stalls had to close. Not sure whether those disappointed people could exchange their unspent coupons at other food or arts stalls if those were still open.

We were fortunate that many of the DSP members waited for us and helped dismantling the stall in good time. Everyone was full of praises for the great efforts put in by every member of DSP.

Lilly on the far right & friends manning the Craft Stall

It was a fulfilling first time experience for me doing charitable fun-fairs and certainly not the last, because helping out never felt this good!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Now, Breathe Easy...

Changi General Hospital view from EastPoint Mall direction

"I'll meet you at home..." I called Wifey over the phone, "I'm on the bus heading home."

I took half-day off work to accompany Wifey for her appointment to see the Respiratory Specialist at Changi General Hospital. Her appointment was at 2:10PM at Clinic D on level 2.

Queue number 1412 was hers when she was called in to Consultation Room 2. Incidentally, the Associate Consultant was a young Malay doctor having the same name as mine with my second eldest brother's name as his father's... Dr. Imran Mohamed Noor.

After some questions and examination later, Wifey was sent for X-ray at B1 Room 9.

I helped her put on the "Kimono" attire for the X-ray. Reminiscent of the time I helped my Mom to get dressed for her CT-Scan for her back problems over a year ago.

Then, it was an awkward time for me... seeing "more" of my Mom than I did before or ever wanted. Then again, it was an even awkward moment for my Mom, but she said "you're my child... I'm thankful for you being here today... and hereafter."

That relinquished all my awkwardness. Instead it made me truly feel I made a difference in her life. It was quite a moment.

"Oh, please let it not be anything wrong with my lungs..." Wifey said to me, almost praying while we walked back to Dr. Imran's consultation room.

"Your lungs are clear..." Dr. Imran explained "so is the nasal passage." He gave an appointment for Wifey to do a Spirometry Test on Tuesday next week to confirm her lungs to be normal.

Wifey breathed a sigh of relief. I thanked God in my heart, even with my gut instinct telling me it could not be the case. It was not that serious. Then again... Thank You Almighty.

Dr. Imran gave Wifey 1 week of nasal spray and oral pills to be taken twice daily to relief her of her nightly symptoms before she comes again for the Spirometry Test on Tuesday next week.

If he suspects that Wifey has overactive sinuses, than her case will be handed-over to a Nose and Throat Specialist.

"My Sis had her sinus operated on," Wifey told me, sounding worried "she had her nose swollen for the whole two weeks."

"A small price to pay for good breathing." I replied. I guess it was easier to say when it was not happening to myself. "She hadn't had trouble with her breathing anymore, does she?" A rhetorical question to comfort her.

Wifey nodded and then gave me a smile as we walked out of the hospital.

"Let's have Tom Yam Noodle at Banquet!" I suggested for our late lunch. Her face lighted-up. Our spirits were back as spicy as Tom Yam.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

March Too Grateful

I have nothing but the feeling of being grateful with what had been happening today.

The highlight of the day was definitely the ride on the first public opening day of the Singapore Flyer. We got our ride at 2:00PM today but arrive just before noon to have a brunch there as well.

First. I am grateful that I still have my parents to enjoy this technical marvel in Singapore and ride together with my family.

Second. Unlike last weekend with the Singapore Airshow 2008, there was no crowd at the Flyer at all. Most probably because most people were not out from half-day work yet, so there was no congestion of human or the traffic kind. Phew!

Third. The whole place was "exclusively" ours. So photo-taking opportunities for me were great... no waiting for people to clear away. I was able to be at any spot and took my time snapping away without having somebody's body part in my composition or people passing into my shots.

Fourth. We had the privilege of having the staff to concentrate on serving us... Mom especially. No rushing, no queuing, no waiting... no frustration. Just us. Yes!

She received the VIP treatment. From being the centre of attention by the busker along the ticket counter on the second floor, to being taken up the VIP route to the Flyer's boarding platform while we went up the normal route with the rest of the passengers.

The whole gigantic wheel that normally would not stop revolving, came to a halt for the staff to bring her into the capsule.

Fifth. We got the whole capsule all to ourselves and nobody else. We had the freedom to roam in it that usually accommodates about 20 people for our 360 degrees view.

Wife and Sonny took turns to record the ride with our camcorder, while no-holds barred for me, snapping hundreds of photos with my digital camera... from all conceivable angles.

Sixth. I got to witness the excited and happy faces of my parents as we went higher and higher up the wheel. Dad was cracking jokes... something he does when he is happy while Mom was mesmerized by the sight, pointing "is that Indonesia?" to far away places.

"We're at the top, we're so high now!" Mom excitedly announced, beating the computerized voice-box announcement upon reaching the highest point at 168 metres.

"Woooo..." Wife started saying and everybody joined in when we were at the top going downwards. The view was nothing short of spectacular!

Amazingly, the haze that blew northwards to Singapore from the land-clearing fires in Indonesia and the drizzle during our ride, did not dampen our spirits. In fact, the morning rain had cleared away the haze to give us a clear view of the horizon.

We had a clear, new and heightened perspective of what this small island of 4 million people can achieve, so to speak.

Having lunch at Sour Puss in Marina Bay

We strolled down to Marina Bay and had our late lunch at Sour Puss, a Malay-owned halal restaurant that fuses Asian and western cuisine together. Mom had her usual favorite pasta while all four of us had Malay, Indian and western burgers.

Headed down to Carrefour at Suntec City where I saw for the first time, the side of Mom I had not seen before. She had been talking about getting a stationary exercise bike for herself. Carrefour was having a Hyper Sale and fitness equipment were on display.

Knowing how reserve and conservative Mom has alway been, she rose to my challenge to get on several of the bikes to test-ride them out.

Something she would not have done before, always embarrassed by the crowd. She instead got on several other types to try them out!

She settled on one, but the delivery would only come in two weeks time.

I sent my parents home while Wifey and Sonny went back themselves.

Dad had a surprise for me.

He had a sweet smelling white flowering plant he had been taking care of for a while now, ready for me to take home for my Corridor Garden.

Not sure of the species, so I will be on the internet to find out. What I do know is that my home will be sweet smelling when the wind blows in.

Seventh. "Thank you Imran..." Mom said to me with those nurturing eyes, "we won't get to see new things if not for you." Dad nodded with a big smile, "Best lah." He added.

My heart melted. I foresaw my only reward was seeing them happy and having fun. I never expected today to go so well and heartfelt. I have so many things to be grateful for.

It is only the first day of March and I am already in seventh heaven.