Saturday, December 03, 2011

All Grown Up

Today completes the first week of Sonny temporary work.

Yes. Sonny is out of the house and away from his Gamer PC for most of the week to work.

After sitting his last paper for GCE 'O' Levels examination for secondary school, he is practically free and on a long holiday until the results to come out to confirm his placement to a higher tertiary education.

Already successful in his Direct Poly Admission or DPA application, his results will determine his confirmation on the placement that is reserved for him in Ngee Ann Polytechnic, his first choice for higher education institution.

Both Wifey and I are confident that he will get his place because he has studying hard since the beginning of the year, in preparation for his exam and his dream career path he has set for himself.

Today, he will receive his first paycheck. At seven dollars an hour, he works for ten hours a day, five days a week. He starts work at seven in the morning and ends his day at five in the evening.

It has been a very exciting time for him. Being his first experience in the working world, each day, he would tell us about his day enthusiastically during dinner.

He seems to be doing well as a concierge at Front Desk at Ibis Bencoolen Hotel. Meeting people is the perk that made him decide to work as a concierge but most certainly the close friends that went together to apply for the temporary jobs at that hotel.

In Malay culture and very much encouraged as a Muslim, we are waiting for Sonny to give a little of the money he earns today, to his Mom. The amount is insignificant but the thought and the sincere intent from his heart the most important and will be revered by us. It is believed that The Almighty will bless his hard earn money in future earnings. His earnings will come easy for him, God willing.

Wifey and I know that we are bringing up a son that is responsible to himself, to his family and society. We are not asking much from him but we certainly encourage him to do his best and go the distance with his vast potential. We facilitate the paths he chooses to realize his dreams and aspirations. We will always be here for him, always.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Happy AidulAdha Everyone!

eCard from
Wishing all Muslims across the world,
A blessed AidulAdha!

Wishing all Others,
The best of family life, love and peace.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

They Have Arrived

Picture from

They are back. I saw them this morning as the cab I was in passed the open fields on my way to work.

I was running late yesterday. Late for the usual morning bus to get to work. So I had to take the cab to work instead. That was purely my fault. I intentionally left home late and made up for time to reach work by taking the cab... a fifteen minute ride as compared to the bus of quarter of an hour, not including the waiting time.

Intentional, since this body needed some adrenaline rush from a good boring workout on my home-gym. Just that I needed it, so I forked out fifteen dollars worth for the cab fare instead of one tenth of the cost if I were to take the bus. Well, it was worth it every time... for me.

This morning was not the same case. I wished it was because I felt I needed a much longer than the usual half-hour workout. This morning, Wifey woke me up.

"Are you going to work today?" she asked gently as she tapped my shoulder lightly.

It has been raining on and off for several weeks now. With it, came the cool weather, so conducive for sleeping. But that wonderful after effect also brings with it, the bad side of things... mosquitoes!

Wifey and I did not get much sleep last night because we were awakened by the bites and had to wake up twice last night to spray insecticides before we could get any sleep again.

"We must install the ceiling fans for the bedrooms." Wifey's dazed qualm while as covering her face with the blanket, as I got back into bed after spraying the room.

Air-conditioning would definitely do the trick because the whole room is enclosed but both Wifey and I do not like it. We prefer the natural air flow when its cool or just have the tower fan turned on when the weather gets a little too hot. Anyway, it is better for the environment without the air-conditioning blasting the whole night.

"Yes," I replied whole-heartedly, "maybe this weekend, we'll shop for it."

I had my ten minutes of workout which amounted next to nothing, so I was not that happy because I did not feel invigorated as if I had my, at least, thirty. That was as much I could steal time away before I had to rush to work.

It was fortunate that I did not even have to wait to flag for one, I approached the curb, two cabs were there for me. Such good timing.

I got into the cab happy as I know I would not reach work late. The traffic was smooth... no slow ride or had to stop at the many traffic lights along my route... thirteen to be exact. Thirteen traffic junctions from the time the cab exits Tampines Expressway, all the way to work in Ang Mo Kio Avenue 5.

That was the time I saw them. And my heart melted.

The first one was spotted at the open field along Sengkang East Road, just after exiting TPE. The lone one as usual like the last time.

"You're back." I whispered to myself and gave me a wide smile.

Spontaneously, I looked out for more of them at the other open fields along Buangkok Green...

True enough. They are here again or the months to come.

I saw another four, then another. I counted them all as fast as I could as my cab passed the fields. Altogether, there were 16 of them . I missed looking out to the vast open field on the other side of the road. There it would be whole flock of them... the Great Egrets, also known as Siberian White Cranes!

Their white plumes reflecting the morning sun, tens and easily over a hundred, dotted against the background of pure green. A serene picture to behold, a snapshot of beautiful, tranquil nature for me to take with me for the day, to my fast paced job.

"They have arrived!" I thought to myself, almost gleaming as I got off the cab, apparently I had arrive for work, in time.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Now In Technicolor

The more verbal, long-tailed Goldie Boy

The leftover cat food. The food and water bowls. The unopened cat shampoo. All of which were Alola's. Now that he is no longer with us. It all seems so strange just stored there in the cupboard in the service balcony.

A for strange cosmic reason, one awesome cat's demise is another cat's fortune. Well, two cats in fact. Months after Alola... this family was greeted with almost like twins in front of our door.

I first heard some faint scuffling sounds outside our front door. Then several loud meows. I thought the sound traveled from downstairs but it was kind of a surprise, when I followed the meows all the way to our front door.

The puffy, short-tailed Goldie Boy having his first dinner a our home

I opened the door to reveal not one but two white cats with orange patches. Both were looking at me with those big, adorable-looking eyes and tails raised high, they both meowed several more times as if in unison. The were unsure of my reception, but walked cautiously anyway towards me. "Wow!" I thought.

That adorable stare wins this
family's hearts
"Do you want food?" I asked as if these felines understand the human language... well, just for the fun of it. The two "Goldies" as Wifey named them eventually, responded with a meow. "Food?" I asked again. "Meow." They answered. "OK!" I replied, "Wait here."

They sat facing the front door. I looked at them amazed. Amazed that we just had our first conversation. Amazed that they were here, on the fourth floor, at our door among the many other doors on this floor and the many floors in this block of flat!

I took out Alola's food and drink bowls out. A bittersweet feeling came over me. I smiled as a picture of Alola appeared in my mind. I  filled them with cat food and felt excited all of a sudden. I just needed to give the food to the waiting cats outside and get Wifey to witness this experience.

The two cats stood up on all fours and started to meow when I they saw me approaching the door. I placed the two bowls apart from one another outside, at our corridor garden. The two cats took their places as if it was done many times before and started eating while looking at me briefly once in a while.

The long-tailed Goldie Boy resting by the staircase

I stood there looking at them and noticed that I had a smile on my face the whole time. I was just happy about the whole encounter. This could be a long and wonderful experience, I thought. The felines eat their fill and walked away from the bowls to the staircase. They both laid there, facing my front door and started cleaning themselves.

"You guys finished, huh?" I asked. They both stopped a while to look at me and continued cleaning their coat after their dinner. I took the bowls in and said "Good night!" before I closed the door. "That was nice." I thought to myself.

"Meow, meow."

The long-tailed Goldie Boy waits patiently
by the gate for his food
It was the day after. I quickly opened the door with delight, expecting the two Goldies to come again. True enough, they did! This time, they came just before noon on a Saturday. "OK. Wait here!" I said, as if they understood anything I had to say.

Two bowls filled with cat food for the two Goldies. Lunch was served. Wifey and I watched as they eat their fill. Once finished, they looked up at us for a brief moment and slowly left. "Wow!" I muttered.

"How on earth did they know how to climb four floors up and end up at our doorstep out of the many homes in this block of flats?" I asked this time, out loud to Wifey.

"Alola must have informed them of us." Wifey joked. I just smiled in delight and said "Now we have two... and with sound too!"

The last time it was without sound and in black and white. This time in color and in "stereo" too!

The long-tailed Goldie Boy having his first lunch at our home

Since then, Wifey has developed a keener sense of hearing behind our normally closed front door, of the "meows" or "we're here!" calls at lunchtime when I am at work. I have the opportunity to feed them in the evenings whenever I hear their calls. The calls are not noisy or incessant but only once or two short meows.

It has been going on almost consistently now for the past month and it has been wonderful.

We are now contemplating with the names we want to give each of these Goldies. One has a short tail while the other has a very long one. They both seem to be of the same age. Not sure if they are siblings and even more clueless of their age look like they are of the same age. My best guess is about 3, maybe 4 years old?

Monday, September 26, 2011

Farewell To Alola

Alola very tired. Too big for his bed.

Our family pet, Alola, had left us for good months ago.

Wifey named it Lola at first, thinking it was a female but changed it to Alola, to a more musculine-sounding name after my elder Sis' visit to our home one day and found out that she was a he.

Nonetheless, the very quite cat responded still to the sudden name change, since it almost sounded about the same to him. He came to our lives via our "cat magnet" Sonny.

Apparently, Sonny brought him up to our fourth floor flat with him when he was on his way back from school. He had been seeing, petting and feeding Alola many a times at the void deck. Noticing that Alola was different from the other strays around our block, he decided to show Alola to Wifey and I.

It was true! Alola was very different from the other cats that we have encountered since living here for the past sixteen years. He was quiet, not scared of people and he let anyone pet and even held him. He moved very slowly, like taking his time in his own terms. He was not as agile as a cat should be. He did not care much for catching a fluttering feather in front of his face. He just looked at it and did not budge. He was a lazy cat, we thought.

The most peculiar of it all, Alola did not make a sound. Never a "meow" from him. Never at all.

The most likable character we noticed of him was that he knew his place. He came every weekday at our front door at lunch time for food. Once fed, he would either sleep around the house or leave. He did his nature calls downstairs, never in or around the flower pots at our corridor.

He did not climb up onto furniture. Nor did he scratched any. He knew his place in our home. All he needed was food and showed his gratefulness by behaving very well around the house. He never snatch or stole food off our plates. We did not have a problem with him at all.

For his wonderful demeanor, Wifey made a more comfortable place at his usual sleeping corner for him... a basket tucked at the corner under the living room window where there is a nice breeze, hooked with a tiny bell and always fresh towels and rags as bedding for his catnaps. After his meals, we would hear the tinkering of the bell, telling us he was taking his nap. Another tinker will mean he was ready to be let out. An ingenious idea from a once, ailurophobia lady.

Alola would came back most evenings at dinner time, only to feed and then have his nap before he would sit patiently, facing at the closed front door without making a hint of a sound. Once a while, he would turn back to look at whomever was at the living room, making eye contact, and then looked at the door. It was his "ESP" way of telling that he wanted to be let out.

Alola would come by very early in the mornings just to go to Sonny's room and watch him sleep. Sonny would wake up and gave him a good pet and held him for some time before he let himself out. It was intriguing to just watch a cat watching Sonny sleep.

The routine went on for a little over two years. Alola was our part-time pet cat without the need for a litter box to be toilet trained. He came pre-trained by nature. To get food and give love in return.

Wifey was once scared of black cats. Not because of witchcraft or any superstitious connotation associated with black cats, but because she was scratched once on the arm when she as a child. From then on, she was petrified of cats going near her and actually hates them because the dander is known to aggravate an asthma attacks.

Alola taught her to rid of her fear and a little more... Wifey fell in love with cats all over again.

Alola touched me too. Once Wifey and Sonny was vacationing at her mother's place in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia for a week. Alola came for dinner as always but stayed the night. He did not sleep in his basket-bed, but on the floor beside my bed. I thought he wanted to go out when I saw him entered my bedroom, so I let him to the front door and held open the door for some time. He stopped short at the door but did not leave. He followed me back to my bedroom and slept beside my bed when I climbed into bed. Alola was still sleeping at the spot when I woke up the next morning.

Wifey's BB for Alola. A good sleep after a heavy meal.
Alola was keeping me company for four night out of the six days that Wifey and Sonny were not around. It was just incredible! People may think its just outrageous and I may be exaggerating but it is true and I am very happy that it happened to me!

I thanked him for that. Yes, I thanked a cat for its kindness to me. To this day, I thank The Almighty for that once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Wifey once asked me to look for Alola downstairs because he did not come home for lunch or dinner for two nights in a row. She even searched for him downstairs for a while that day. She kept a look-out for him around the vicinity of our block whenever she ran errands on weekdays. Alola had made her feel concern for him whenever there was an uncomfortable gap in his "visits" to our home.

"Alola did not come home today." Wifey would lament during dinner time whenever that happened but Alola never let us down. He would show up and did his routine.

Our concern for Alola became grave and one fine day, Sonny came back bearing sad news. He chanced upon the cat-lover Malay auntie, our second floor neighbor, as he came back from school. He asked her about Alola and was told that he had died at her home. Alola was quite sick with coughs and runny nose. He died a few days later.

We were devastated by the news but we got closure, at the very least. I remember telling Wifey and Sonny that if Alola were to come back, we will bring him to the Vet for all the injections and grooming, whatever he needed for his well being but it was not meant to be! Alola had gone to a better place. He died in a home of a cat-lover. He gave love and received love to the very end.

Thank you Alola, for being a part of our lives. For being can extraordinary being. For your love and lessons in life you showed without even uttering a single sound. We miss you and will always remember you.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Time For Me

Wow! Where do I begin?

I have not been here as often as I should. I have not updated anything as frequently as my life passes me by... maybe a little too fast for me to catch up and reflect or narrate. Maybe just too many distractions, with other stuff, with other electronic interfaces.

Facebook is a big thing for me initially, but I have never been an avid status updater ever since I started it. Maybe I feel a little too old to update my well being to the masses of virtual friends... even to my own family and close friends contacts too. Maybe I have become too lazy to do this...

That is it! I have become too lazy to update anything that is happening in my life nowadays. Sigh!

I want to start the momentum all over again but like most times, it has stalled too many times and I ended up skipping my blog site all too often.

Apart from checking my personal emails and those from work, the only times I spend on my iMac were downloading pictures of Raya celebrations and editing them to post to Facebook... just because my family members want them shared. There! That is about it. I have lost much interest in blogging.

I believe I lost my "Passionate About Life" when my late Dad's health deteriorated acutely toward his last days and until finally left us after about an intensive year fighting his battle with lung cancer.

I thought I would write about my grievances until I become much better after going through that phase in my life, but then I had to be strong and available for Mom who suddenly became a lonely "other half" of a wonderful couple of almost 60 years.

Finding that suitable solution for Mom and to work out our lives back to the new norm, now without Dad, was tough for everyone... for my siblings, for me and for Wifey too. I am fortunate that I have Wifey who understands and stayed strong for me throughout. Now, more than a year later, we are still coping with Mom's adjustments to daily living without Dad in their home.

With a maid as her companion, and all other matters like finances, bills and groceries taken care of by her children, what she needs most is our companionship as often, if not everyday.

So free times are spent talking over the phone to her during lunch breaks at work and being at her home on weekends or at the start of the month to give her some spending money. Between listening to her complaints of the noisy neighbors upstairs and taking her to her schedule medical appointments, her happy times are seen and expressed when her children are round her.

Sigh... there is just so many things to say, to vent out, to express, to release. But is there time enough to spend blogging about it. Time for me to be happy, somewhat to escape, to write happy thoughts, to reclaim my "Passionate About Life" again...

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Selamat Hari Raya!

Wishing Muslims the all world over,
E'id Mubarak

May there be peace on earth,
Among humans of all creed, race and faith.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Survey or Surveillance

This is either a freakish coincidence or I am just being paranoid.

After the election day, the lackluster results that was not according to my expectation prompted me to post my take on it... knowing full well that I should not step on spats of hot lavas that may lead to a full volcanic eruption that might incinerate my livelihood.

Threaded carefully with my words because of my limited interest on the subject, thus limited knowledge as I wrote my disappointment and the general helplessness.

Late last week, I received a call from a company that does surveys for corporations. Normally I do not entertain such calls, replying a spontaneous answer of "no, I'm not interested. Thank you" after the first breath of the caller's "Hello. I am from... and we are doing a survey..." bit.

But that night, apart from that sweet sounding young lady's voice introducing herself and the survey, the word "post election" sparked this paranoia ablaze.

So I excepted the request for my time to answer loads of questions pertaining to the recently ended general election and my take on the whole process, as well as my knowledge on local politics.

My acceptance to sit through the twenty minutes of questioning was more of wanting to find out if my posts had any repercussion... an ill effect that was "brewing" as a result. I was giving my paranoia its validation.

I set through the entire session a "professor from NUS" set to study the local take on the election. I could hear lots of voices and questions of the same kind in the background, so I know it was a legitimate survey for that "professor."

The entire survey was quite a fulfilling experience for me since I learned a few things about politics in return and the questions politically inclined people would ask for answers to and are passionate about.

I thought that was that. I dismissed that little unsettling feeling away.

Then yesterday, the door bell rang just after noon. Sonny answered the door. It was a man from the Ministry of Health, who wanted to talk to "your parents" to do a survey. What! Another survey?

Now my paranoia is fuming again and erupting like the volcano I wish to stay far away from and avoid getting burnt! That last man standing at my door yesterday was the last straw. The last third survey that I had encountered.

Third, because, the first survey I had "participate" was inf the form of a letter I received earlier in the week. It was from the Ministry of Manpower stating that this household had been selected to take a "Comprehensive Labour Force Survey, 2011."

A compulsory participation survey, under Section 5 of the Statistics Act (Chapter 317) conducted by the Manpower Research and Statistical Department that had to be taken between 25th and 31st May 2011.

With the given username and password, I took the survey online this morning. It was not as intensive as I had initially thought it would be, given that it was my first time being involved in such surveys.

Why the paranoia?

Well, I figured, after shaking hands with the then Managing Director of Monetary Authority of Singapore, or MAS Mr. Heng Swee Keat, during his door-to-door rounds during election period, his casual comment on featuring our corridor garden had somewhat been taken seriously by me when his "people" wrote my address down after that. Gulp!

Then, for the life of me, after forty years of living without event the slightest graze with authority, I was suddenly confronted with three government-related surveys within the span of about a week or so. Yikes!

Are these surveys or am I under surveillance? Yes, that is my paranoia questioning me. I watched too much TV and conspiracy theory movies. I am too insignificant to waste good government funding and time to dissect on. Then again... I can any time become the little frog killed at the science lab during a biology class.

Having said all that, I should have taken a photo of Mr Heng, who has been newly appointed as Education Minister, shaking hands with me during his rounds then. He is somewhat a celebrity now who is also the MP for Tampines' GRC.

Monday, May 16, 2011

iWant, iOrdered iPad

After so much contemplation and with the "blessings" from Wifey, I finally ordered an Apple iPad 2 tonight.

The first batch of iPad 2 that was launched in Singapore received an overwhelming response. I was sold out in the stores within the same day, similar to other parts of the world, I read.

Contemplating on purchasing mine online for a few days was not to my advantage. After getting Wifey's "permission" to invest on one, and with Sonny's more than enthusiastic support, I finally logged online to Apple's local website to place an order for one... only to find that the "Select" button was disabled... then totally disappeared from the website.

It finally was sold out online too! The website then indicated that it was no longer taking orders. A very sad outcome for my few days hold-off... hesitance.

That led to the frantic search by phones to all the major and authorised Apple distributors for an iPad 2 Wifi-3G 32GB configuration. 16GB was just too little a space while 64GB, too much.

The primary choice of the white colour was chosen but we came to compromise for black, if it was available anywhere on this island. He could not find any.

Weeks past but the desire to own one never simmered. Sonny called one Friday to inform that Challenger IT shop at Tampines 1 was still selling but the ones available were of 16GB capacity. That call started the "frantic" search, this time on foot, all over again.

All three of us went on our search for the 32GB version on foot. As suggested by Sonny, we left for the hunt after lunch at Al Salam, right after casting our votes on Polling. Funan IT Centre did not bear any "fruit" and so we went to Sim Lim Square, the notorious electronic shopping centre in Rochor Road.

There, we found so many of the exact model that we wanted. Only catch was, most shops there prized it it ten to 30% more... before GST or Goods & Services Tax of 7%!

The only decent one, the last shop before actually gave up, was charging it at S$980.00, just over a dollar from the actual retail price by Apple... but before 7% GST. It would have cost S$978.00 with free delivery from Apple Store, we would need to fork out an extra S$70.00 more if we were that desperate.

Fortunately that time, Wifey talked me out of it and we went home empty handed and defeated!

A little patience go a long way...

Apple Store is now taking orders again and this family finally will own one white iPad 2 Wifi-3G 32GB together with a green Smart Cover when shipment arrives end this month! Yes!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

All About Mothers

Mother's Day had passed and gone. But the celebration is still ongoing as far as this family is concern.

I did not get to celebrate it on the actual day that was on 8th May with the rest of my siblings, but I got to celebrate with her a little later and all to myself today. Moreover, I got to celebrate this special day with two of my favourite ladies!

Took leave off work to accompany Mom to TTSH for her routine checkup this morning. The first appointment was at 10:40AM at the Geriatric Clinic with Dr. Ian Leong... Mom's favourite specialist, just because he is a pleasant and patient person who is always generous with his smile.

All went well. Mom's blood pressure was normal... the first time I had witness as such! Her ECG was normal too.

She put on over a kilogram of weight unfortunately... the downside of happiness, I suppose. Now that her diet, housework and general well being at home are all taken care of by the maid. It helps too that she has religiously taken her medications exactly as prescribed.

Dr Ian was happy that all was looking good. He gave a four-month interval before Mom's next follow-up.

Next appointment was at 11:45AM with Dr FC Yong, Senior Orthopedics Consultant. Mom's right wrist was weak and often felt numb. With several therapies at the Occupational Therapy Clinic and the night wrist brace that she wore everyday for the past two months, the normal functions of her hand is now restored, though not fully. Dr. Yong said eventually since she had shown a marked improvement with his test during the consultation.

Mom will see him for a routine follow-up in three months time before he finally releases her with an open date.

All is well at the hospital. It was then time for the planned celebrations.

Mom, myself and her maid made our way to Harbourfront Mall after our lunch. We took the MRT and Northeast Line to get there, since Mom wanted to got o Sentosa. Wifey joined us there from home.

We made our way to Sentosa Resort Island via the Sentosa Boardwalk. We spent hours sightseeing on the island. It gave me a warm feeling to see them both interacted with one another so lively and lovingly. Between them, they had so much to talk about, so much laughter the whole day. I just relished at the sight.

I am truly grateful for the opportunity given to me with these two favourite ladies in my life. Happy Mother's Day my dear ladies!

Sunday, May 08, 2011

The Morning After...

Wifey and I really tried to stay up after eleven last night but we just could not stay awake.

I was the loser, I dozed off while the hotly televised results were under way. I knew that because Wifey kept waking me up and finally woke me up the last time to tell me to get into bed... which I did.

Woke up early this Sunday morning just like any other weekday and was surprised the newspapers were not already slotted between the grill of my front door gate. I turned to my iMac instead to get the full results... Wifey was still sleeping soundly.

What I saw was not a surprise at all. It was expected of, as it was for all those terms before...

Eighty-one out of eighty-seven seats contested were won by the incumbent party. The opposition won a Group Representative Constituency or GRC and a Single M Constituency or SMC. That was a change... a small change, but nonetheless, a change.

What really surprised me was the losing of Potong Pasir constituency. A stronghold of the another and only opposition party since 1984 was "returned" back to the incumbent. This party lost everything as far as holding a ward is concern but being given a seat as a Non-constituency Minister in parliament is anything but a consolation.

With that, life moves on for all citizens. Yesterday's polling day was just another routine mandatory motion for most of the voting mass, I think. This island is just too small a pool of people to really have credible political parties from both sides, or from all the sides for that matter with the 7 parties in total that had contested in this general election.

It is now time to see how much the promises both parties had promised can be delivered. Life goes on after much huh-ha had unfolded for the past few weeks leading to the election day.

Tomorrow is a holiday for some work places but not mine. I get an annual leave credited as a replacement holiday, so I have to go to work on Monday... Life goes on.

Monday, May 02, 2011

I'm Going Wireless

After more than three years, the mighty mouse that came with the iMac had finally picked its last straw that breaks my camel's back.

Well, enough about these animals. It is my Apple mouse. Its scroll function which stopped functioning for the past few months has made me frustrated enough to call it quits. It was just too cumbersome without the scroll function to do anything from surfing to actual work on my iMac.

I finally made up my mind to replace the mouse with a wireless one... a wireless Magic Touchpad. With that significant change, I decided to replace the white, transparent-bottom keyboard that came with the iMac with its new equivalent, wireless one too.

So off I went with Wifey to Nubox at Tampines Mall to get the sleek appendages for my white iMac and blew off S$240.00 for both wireless keyboard, touchpad and a rechargeable battery charger.

Come to think of it, I have been updating my iMac to keep up with the times, it seems...

I maxed out its onboard RAM from the original 1GB DDR2 667 SDRAM MHz to 4GB. Bought the pair at Memory World in Sim Lim Square for S$65 each and self assembled it at home. That was when my prized possession had become sluggish when I ran my iPhoto or Aperture. That was less than a month ago. The problem has since been resolved.

l aso upgraded its original Tiger OS to Leopard. I spent S$248.00 for that last December. The many features and improvements over Tiger were just too wasteful if I had not upgraded. I treated myself that with my year-end bonus money.

With the new keyboard and touchpad, I finally have peace of mind... no more little irritable here and there. I feel the same rush I got when I first got my iMac out of the box and turned it on. Everything works fine again!

A perfect end to Labour Day celebrations.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Friday Is Good!

It seemed to want me to wake up very early today.

For some freakish reason, the Asian Koel birds have been roaming plenty of times around this area. Their loud calls do not bother me during the day... or probably most other people, I think. But calling out incessantly for hours on end starting at about 4:00AM in the morning for the past week or so, is just plain crazy!

That led me to suspect two things why this has happened...

One thing, with the clearing of the wooded areas along Tampines Avenue 9 to build the eco park and the large stretch of wooded area along Old Tampines Road leading to Hougang, and God only knows how many more areas across this island, these birds and many other species are driven to the housing estates. Amid all this development, their fate and the fate of all the animals in these areas are truly unfortunate.

Another is most probably, due to seeking refuge in the housing estates, where the street lights and lights from all the blocks of flats are always brightly lit during sun down, may have made these birds lose their sense of time. It is always bright like dawn even at 4:00AM in the morning...

I do not know about the other people in this vicinity, but I have not been sleeping well for the past week because of the callings of these birds in the wee hours of the morning... it is like taking revenge over the humans... you take away my home where I roost to sleep, I make you lose your sleep!

I am not angry at the birds, but am angry at the fact that I feel helpless knowing their fate.

When I did finally got out of bed this Friday morning, it was not because of the koels but because of curiosity.

The usual singing of the numerous kinds of birds in the morning was particularly different today. Intermittently, cackling sounds of another particular bird were heard. I just had to take a look out my bedroom window to find out...

Alas, the beautiful bloom of the White Trumpet Flowers at the Poi Ching School yard had attracted the colourful parakeets. These birds were noisy and were busy feeding off only the bottom of the flowers... nectar, it seemed.

It was an interesting sight. I felt like a National Geographic photographer observing nature. When I came to realize that I had to capture this view, I rushed to get my camera. It was not everyday that this unusual view out my bedroom window presented itself.

When I came back, they had all flew away. It was unfortunate but still not a total wasted of effort. I took pictures of the tree as it showed off its blooms to everyone... and it was beautiful indeed.

I was hoping I had captured a hidden parakeet somewhere among the blooms but after scrutinizing the picture closely on my iMac, I guess not.

Well, another day perhaps... but since today is a public holiday, the long weekend ahead of me seems promising. To all my Christian friends out there, Happy Easter!

Friday, April 15, 2011

All Dressed Up

"Ayah!" Wifey called out to me from the living room, "Take a picture of Sonny."

All dressed up in his white, long-sleeved school shirt, his brown tie and that distinguished Dunman Secondary School blazer, Sonny was all ready and handsome looking young man.

Sonny was going back to school this afternoon, right after Friday prayers, for his school's 48th anniversary and official opening ceremony after it went through several years of infrastructure upgrade under PRIME project by the Ministry of Education.

Sonny was to man his station - showing the guest of honour, his team's Life Science Apple iPod App they self-developed during the intended tour of the school's facilities.

A few poses for pictures were "forced" out from this handsome but reluctant young man for his parents' sacred memories... and there he went off at 2:00PM to school.

The ceremony was to start by 5:00PM with the guest of honour being the prominent figure in this country, the distinguished Dr. Ng Eng Hen, Minister for Education and Second Minister for Defence.

Fortunately, being in the executive committee of the school's parent support group - as vice chairman of DSP, I was invited too, to be able to witness Sonny experience this historic event in his life.

It was my turn to get all dressed up. Formal attire requested, it has been ages since I wore a tie to an event. In white and light blue pin stripes, long-sleeved shirt, dark pants and a dark grey tie, the tight around the neck seemed to choke me the moment I buttoned up. I could never be comfortable wearing a tie...

"Wait!" Wifey stopped before I stepped out of the front door. "Let me get the camera..." Wifey hurried off to my gym room to get it.

"Set the camera for me and let me take your picture." She handed it to me as soon as she came back to the living room.

Like Sonny, a few poses for the camera and off I went to Sonny's school. It was a pity that Wifey was not invited to the event. She would have loved to watch Sonny in action. A great "family outing." Also, I would be much more comfortable if she were there with me... being surrounded by all those elite educators, high achievers and high society people, I was like a fish out of water... choking, hard to breathe... all nerves. The tie made it worse.

Anyway, to be there to witness Sonny interacting with the Minister while he toured the school grounds, it was one of Sonny's important life experiences that I would not miss for the world. It was all worth it. Well done, Sonny!

Congratulations to Dunman Secondary School for this proud milestone!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Saturday's Supermoon Surprise

Most certainly it was biggest at a certain time in Singapore... 11:00PM or so but the time I realized and looked up into the night sky, the moon was as bright as I could remember but I could not say it was the biggest I had seen.

This morning, the report says that it was suppose to be about 14% bigger and 30% brighter than any other given day, or years... about 18 years once when it was at its closest to earth last night.

We were busy watching TV when Sonny burst out from his room, reminding us of the rare event. He took out my Canon camera to capture the phenomenon but was having trouble with the settings.

That was when I helped him and became interested in it and got involved to catch that celestial moment with him. So father and son, both with a Canon D450 dSLR and a Lumix FX10 respectively, were busy taking turns out of the master bedroom window, clicking away, taking pictures of the heavenly satellite.

Lots of clicking... trying all kinds of settings to get those details we normally see, so effortlessly captured by professional photographers it seems, on the covers of magazines and nature websites.

Both of us got the pictures of the moon we wanted. We are happy about it but the other phenomenon of the large circular ring of clouds around the moon, almost like a rainbow around it was not able to be captured properly. Either it was too dark and revealed no ring or the moon appeared too bright but still no rainbow ring, the way we saw with our naked eyes.

I hope we would have improved our photography skills in 18 years time to come when this moon shows its brilliant show again. Hope we live to see it once again.

Anyway, it was just awesome to witness that spectacle shown for long hours on a clear night sky. With several faint sparkles of the planets in our solar system accompanying the moon, it was kind of... magical.

At least, an exciting event on a Saturday, replacing our cancelled outdoor outing Wifey and I had planned for the day due to rain that poured the whole day, only to stop towards the evening.

All that rain was a curtain to revealed a very clear sky when it opened wide, for the moon to make its most beautiful appearance for all to see. A stellar performance!

Friday, February 04, 2011

New Day Rising

While the Chinese folks celebrate their first day of the Chinese Lunar New Year of the Rabbit, this Malay family made the most of the long weekend holiday to a "magical" camping and barbecue at East Coast Beach Park.

Joined Wifey's sisters to a barbecue... thought it was suppose to be just that but it turned out everybody present did not want to call it a day to go home. Instead we stayed on, already armed with tents and sleeping bags.

Fully stocked on fresh seafood for the barbecue, lots of snacks and both cold and hot drinks. We were set and very happy having our "family reunion" Malay-outdoor style.

The day was perfect. A good chance of rain was expected, after all, it rained non-stop for two days in the past week and on and off for the most part of the thereafter. It miraculously, did not rain that night. It was even cooler and windy instead... the weather was perfect.

After a long night of fun and sibling bonding, we get to witness the sunrise from the shores of East Coast Beach. The morning was quiet. A stark contrast to the loud laughter and singing by the picnickers all through the night and into the wee hours of the morning.

Every awakened eye watched patiently as the darkness broke into streaks of dim colourful lights and the eventual globe of fiery orange light that broke through the clouds in the horizon to reveal a new day.

It made me feel blessed to get to sit and watch a miracle unfolded right on the beach. It has been such a long time since I took a moment such as this not for granted... a beautiful moment that happens every day, only to be appreciated.

Backed by the soothing sounds of not a single soul but only the waves crashing, and Wifey beside me, it made me feel good to be alive. Happy New Day!

Monday, January 31, 2011

Spring Is Here!

The day finally arrived when we have our home back to its clean and comfy condition.

After tolerating with the mess, the dust and disarray since last Tuesday, and after toiling with Wifey and Sonny for the rest of the week, we can finally rest and call it our home, sweet home again.

We had our home floor renovated.

It sounds simple but renovating an already lived-in home is a total nightmare. We did the flooring of the entire house except the ceramic tiled kitchen and our two bathrooms. The entire laminate flooring we had installed since the first day we moved in about sixteen years ago had seen its days way and was ready to be replaced.

We replaced it with the same type of flooring, not ceramic tiles or marble slabs but with a Belgium made laminate flooring called Balterio. This new type of laminate technology may be known in Europe but is very new in this part of the world. The contractor told us that we are the first home to install it in Singapore! We feel special nonetheless, however true that claim may be.

The whole house was "ransacked." Contents from furniture and our wardrobes had to be taken out for the contractors to shift them around. They pried open one end of the room and laid new flooring and then moved the furniture to the other end of the completed area to start prying open the old flooring to lay new ones.

It was repeated from one room to another, starting with our living room, then the bedrooms where they spent a longer time "maneuvering" around the built-in wardrobes. But the worst was the store room.

We knew we had lots of stuff in there but never thought it could fill up two rooms' floorspace!

We are Malays but felt we were so much more busier than the Chinese folks who are currently spring cleaning their homes for the coming Lunar New Year of the rabbit. The whole house churned out more "dust bunnies" than we could ever imagined!

We ended up spring cleaning even harder and throwing out more junk than we even remembered we had. Important stuff way back then but mostly for charity and the dumpster today.

We have been more than happy with our old laminate flooring. It was easy to maintain, not slippery, not cold to the touch as we can lay on it comfortably unlike laying on ceramic tiles where you can feel the coldness all the way in your bones.

Scratch, stain and high impact resistant. It was water resistant too but we pushed our luck too many times and had to deal with the consequence when we accidentally left our living room windows wide open at night before we went to sleep.

The rain at night blew into our living room and made puddles of water on the floor to slowly absorb in between the planks and damaged it. Rough ridges popped along the edges of the high compressed planks. The first incident was forgiving but by the third time, we learnt our lesson and had to pay for it... literally.

We love the feel of this type of flooring, so people may say we have not learnt our lesson still because we chose to install the same type of flooring again... yet, we have no regrets at all. We are ecstatically happy instead. We brought the resort living into our home now.

After almost a week of dust, a couple of days of putting back where everything was, throwing out the stuff we do not need anymore and six thousand dollars later, we have our home again. Phew!

We made it. The long weekend is coming... we will get to enjoy the two days public holiday and the weekend back to back!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

A Good Day

Woke up this morning as usual. It was another mid week like all weeks of the year.

Did my morning prayer and my workout on my home-gym as usual. True enough as usual, I extended my workout until the last minute to being late for work.

Yes. I was late to leave home... but the workout was great!

I thought I was able to catch the last bus to work before I was officially late to arrive. I opted for the cab when the "ShowNearBy" on my iPhone showed the next bus was 6 minutes later... I had missed my last bus and I was going late. My bad.

Well, you win on the workout and lose the money for the cab fare; a ten fold more expensive than the S$1.33 bus fare to work.

I got a cab less than a minute after standing and flagging for one near the bus stop bay. It was the white, Singapore Gas Company cab. I could see the driver inside as the cab approached me. He was an old man with sparse, white hair... in his early seventies, was my guess.

"Good morning, Sir." He quipped cheerfully as I was getting into the cab. He turned back and made sure he made eye contact with me.

I reciprocated his good intentions and told him my destination. As I continued telling him my preferred route to work, his left hand stretched over and back of the front passenger seat, holding a couple of sweets in pink and green wrapper each.

"This is for good luck." He said. "Take it, it's for you."

Wow! That was nice of him as thought to myself. Maybe it is nearing Chinese Lunar New Year, so such gifts are custom to him. In modern Singapore, old folks still stick to their customs... not so sure about the younger generations though, regardless from any race or creed. Being a cosmopolitan society has its downsides too, nevertheless.

"Thank you." I replied. Obligingly took the sweets from his hand, "That's nice."

The journey was pleasant enough. The old uncle kept quiet and gave me my time to enjoy the journey. The rush hour was not as painful because my preferred route avoided most of the traffic jams that one would expect in the morning.

Pleasant enough that along the whole route, I could count flocks of egrets, gracefully frolicking in the open fields along Tampines and Sengkang.

There were forty-seven of them in total I counted, plus or minus a few. My favourite thing to do when I had to take the cab to work. Of course these graceful birds are from as far as Siberia. Escaping the winter months there for sunny Singapore. So such bird-spotting-while-commuting hobby of mine is subject to the seasons.

I arrived five minutes after eight. Paid the metered fare and made a point to bid the cab driver a nice day first in return.

"You have a good day too... thank you." He replied. Making eye contact and smiled. Such a pleasant old man. He made today, a good day for me regardless of the craziness that I was expecting at work.

Thank you Sir.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

My 2011 Revelry

I sat alone on the sofa watching the countdown to the new year on TV last night. Watching it alone was as thrilling as watching the clock ticking on the wall.

When the clock stroke twelve and the brilliant, eight-minute fireworks blasted in the skies over Marina Bay wowed everyone, witnessing the New Year celebrations alone created not even a spark in this living room.

It is true. However wonderful it is, but if you cannot share it with the people you care or love, it does not really amount to anything.

Wifey was fast asleep in the bedroom. She is not a late "nighter." Lack of sleep is her kryptonite. She turned it just before eleven claiming "my eyes are not willing to cooperate!"

So too was Sonny. He can pull an "all-nighter" but was soundly in dreamland since half past ten. Now that he has reverted back to his school-day sleeping time regime, the latest he is allowed to stay up late... only because of school projects or homework, is eleven o'clock. He had enough fun during his month-long December school holiday.

I switched from channel to channel but nothing interesting was on... on New Year! Well, probably most people are reveling out or in parties somewhere, so no reason for good shows to be aired to waste, I guess.

Last night was one of the most boring New Year celebration I had in recent memory. Even the little children were having a blast downstairs when I looked out the window and saw families in the courtyard garden playing sparklers and flashes from their cameras.

Reluctantly, I went to bed before the first hour of the New Year was up. Then again, I got woken-up several times by the passing revelers downstairs in the wee hours of the morning. Not at all an exciting start to 2011... my rant post 2011 countdown.

Woke up early this morning and did my morning prayers. I went back to sleep to wake up to a sunny new day, full of potential, I felt. I over to Wifey, still sweet in slumber land.

Looking out of the window, the sky was blue as the morning sun shone on my face. The birds were chirping... promising a beautiful day. I was happy and content.

The day turned out to be cloudy but hey, there I was having a picnic on the beach with Wifey. Wished Sonny could join us but I think he was having a blast at the New Year's barbecue with his classmates and teachers over in Simei.

Wifey knows my simple pleasures... a day at the beach was all it took for me to be happy. Simple pleasures means, a packed meal consisting of Kampong fried rice and Tom Yam Soup, hot Teh Tarik and lots of snacks as we spent our time as a couple at Changi Beach Park. Our version of New Year celebrations of sorts.

Wifey and I talked about so many things... topics ranging from our childhood days to the latest happenings, like her trip with Sonny to Kuala Lumpur and Perak a few weeks ago, together with the entourage of her whole family of just over thirty people!

Listening to the CD she bought from her trip, Her latest favourite Lebanon artist who is very big in Malaysia currently.

We even installing Viber on our iPhones and testing the free online chats together. We stayed well into the evening and left just before half past nine!

Before we headed home, we took a stroll around the shops at Changi Village.

There I met an old army camp mate who just got off the boat from a day trip to Pulau Ubin. It had been more than ten years since we met! He was with his teenage son, both were holding a fishing rod each.

There too, I met my old neighbour, a childhood friend from the village. For the first time, I met him together with his wife and two children.

Wow! Has time passed us by or what?! Talk about "Auld Lang Syne!"