Sunday, December 27, 2015

Morning Walks...

One of the greatest achievement of this year-end holiday is about resuming the "walking" business on a daily basis, which I think the last time I did it so regularly, almost on a daily basis was more than 15 years ago, and that time, it was evening walks most of the time, where I was highly stressed up and the clear oxygenated-mind helped me to make an important decision.

Only started in early December and so far, except mornings that I have to leave early for work, I would make it a point to commit 50 minutes to walking, taking over 5500 steps :)

Indeed, it's quite cooling behind the sun starts to work her way up to the sky, showing off her golden rays :) It's also a pretty beautiful experience to see how the sky transforms from total darkness to full brightness.

Some interesting observations picked up over the past 3 weeks include:
  • It is actually quite a pleasant surprise that walking is as popular as 'jogging' which I used to associate the morning activities with "jogs" only.
  • It is common to see "lone" joggers and walkers in the morning :)  Of course, we also see couples (young & elderly), as well as friends (usually two) who exercise together.
  • Seeing some regular faces - without fail will meet them every morning (as my morning timing does not differ much. The more regular ones actually do slow jogging (which I refrain from jogging but walking instead). There are not that many regular faces, less than ten.
  • The one who looked like Dr Lee - hahahhaa... remember what I said in the earlier post, I had never saw my dentist's face 100% - he is always 'half-masked'. So, that's my imagination from the hairstyle! Well, this look-alike does not seem to be a regular. Had disappeared after seeing him a couple of times - maybe, he's away for holidays since it's the year-end vacation period.
  • There's this elderly man who would appear after 6.45 am, also not as regular as I initially thought. He would sat at the bench facing the canal, right in front the flats. What left an impression was once, he actually took out a harmonica and blew his heart out in the early hours at around 7 am. That was the only one time I heard the tunes from the harmonica. In that morning, I counted... The tune went as far away as 100 steps from the source! He probably had not practised till he could 千里传音 yet. Hahaha.... No more harmonica this morning. Why? Hm....  
  • Up to now, I saw around 5 different dogs that would accompany their owners for the morning jogs & walks (at varying degrees). I wonder who pushes/ motivates who, sometimes :)
  • Scary stuff in the darkness (before the sun rises)? Well, it's really up to our imagination! Once I saw a huge 'object' in white moving along the canal... with the gentle breeze, I could see the white cloth moved (ok, quite a sizeable amount). As I brisk walk nearer... hahaha... It's a huge-size man in a long loose white baju! 
With the ECO Green Park along the opposite side the canal, morning calls of the birds are common.
Looking at the birds flying pass or resting on the trees... a nice way to start a busy day...

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Is this a survey question or it's a....

Came across these questions in the survey, Singapore Life Panel® , a study on Economic Security and the Ageing Demographic. That sets me wondering if it's a survey or a Maths quiz?

Wednesday, December 09, 2015

It's more than 10 years since...

It's more than 10 years since... I had my wisdom tooth (bottom right) extracted. It was the first time I visited a dentist since primary school days... hahaha... that I successfully avoided for more than 20 years then. Frankly speaking, I had no horror dental experience... but simply did not see the need.... Until the bottom right wisdom tooth erupted (ok, I used the dentist's term) and almost beyond recognition. It was left with the crown! Hahaha... you can imagine! Because of its urgency to remove the tooth, I went to somewhere that's most convenient, basically no wait time. That's when I first met my dentist Dr Lee at Raffles Dental.

I guess because of his experience, there's no fear except exhaustion after the extraction. He was patient and I think, the regular updates helps a lot, giving assurance that things are fine... and everything's in control. He wore a surgical mask... and I had no idea how he looked like, except could recognise his hair style! (Hahaha... sounds funny? but it's true). But interesting, his full name is same as Prime Minister Lee - Dr Lee Hsien Loong Bernard! What a coincidence!

Subsequently, I went back to review and removed my stitches; and adhered to his advice, I had gone back annually for general maintenance. He was thorough and would advice accordingly, e.g. pointing out that the stains on the teeth was probably due to medication, etc. and suggested me getting an electric toothbrush for more thorough cleaning, etc. I think it's how the messages communicated got me receptive to his advice and suggestions. The clinic had moved several times, but my record followed :) After a while, I lost track and had not visited the dentist for the recent couple of years until recently, in August, the top right wisdom tooth started to seek attention.

I did not know if Dr Lee was still at the clinic... but met a young lady dentist. Dr Kim when I returned to the same clinic. It was general maintenance. She did what Dr Lee did in the past... the 'cleaning' job; however, this time, I did not receive any information on her observations; neither did she gave any update on the procedures... ok, though it's cleaning, there are things that Dr Lee would do that I missed. E.g. After knocking the teeth, he would give a quick report on the strength, which were the ones to look out for, etc.


So, what sets the difference between a greenhorn and an experienced dentist? 
Indeed, while I told Dr Kim that I was experiencing some discomfort before the cleaning. She reported that all looked fine after cleaning. I had to request for an X-ray to be done. Only then she "discovered" and diagnosed that the top right wisdom tooth was causing the discomfort because it had started to decay and turn hollow inside :( In a second thought, perhaps she should pay me the fees that help her learn how to diagnose where the issue was! So, if I had not ask for an X-ray to be done, the cause of the problem would not have been surfaced! After the X-ray, she, like following standard operating procedure,  suggested a tooth extraction to be done immediately! Would I leave my tooth to be treated by this dentist?! You know the answer! In addition, this is term time, and 5 days medical leave would have heavy impact on my schedule, too! Since it's non-urgent, the tooth will continue to live with me, but with special care and attention from that point onward.

Well, the tooth sought attention last week when it got chipped while I was chewing on my favourite giant fishball. It's time to see the dentist... and of course, this time, I checked and glad that Dr Lee is still with the clinic! Of course, I shall wait despite of the discomfort.

It was that familiar voice, and that familiar face (covered with a mask). I guessed that helped a lot when calming myself down as I believed I was in safe hands, and what's more, when I checked on the Singapore Dental Council website, he actually started practising since 1990. OK, I'm in the hands of a dentist who has been in practice for 25 years! and yes... he checked, and informed me the plan and describe what I would go through helps a lot! Yes, the updates along the way helped. He was trying to speed up before the anesthesia period is over, he was gentle to handle the 'push' to loosen the tooth. Unfortunately, the tooth was too 'soft' and he had to switch over to surgery to remove the remaining tooth. That took another one hour.

All in all, the one and a half hour was tiring. While I knew I was in good hands, I got nervous when the loosening work started. Having the mouth stretched for so long... it's really really tiring! Fortunately, the anesthesia numbed the right half of my mouth, including half the tongue and my right cheek. That saved me from the pain.

One point to note is, because of the anesthesia, I had the 'taste' of having part of my face numbed and experienced the inconveniences and 'lost of control' (e.g. difficulty in moving my mouth, the 'vacuum' experience when I placed the cup to my mouth. I lost control of my facial expression for a while, especially when it is still quite immense. I don't even know whether my face swell or if there's any drooling! That's scary, right? I could now better emphasize - the "helpless" feel of people who actually lost control of part of their body parts (e.g. the stroke patient).

Job done today. Took the antibotics and painkiller; and a medical certificate - to certify that I shall stay away from meetings in the next couple of days. Well, I'm glad that it's school holidays - no time loss.

Will see you again next Wednesday to remove the stitches. Cheers!

Tooth removed: 1 8


Wednesday, December 02, 2015

Who created today's 'needs'? Are they 'real needs'?

Read this,  (source:

Galbraith writes:
American demand for goods and services is not organic. That is, the demands are not internally created by a consumer. These such demands - food, clothes, and shelter - have been met for the vast majority of Americans. The new demands are created by advertisers and the "machinery for consumer-demand creation" that benefit from increased consumer spending. This exuberance in private production and consumption pushes out public spending and investment. He called this the dependence effect, a process by which "wants are increasingly created by the process by which they are satisfied".'

Having read the above... found it really amazing... did we not fall into this 'trap' set up by the advertisers that created our demands (the "wants"). For the successful cases, they have changed the habit and behaviour of the society (even global) without people knowing it.

Monday, November 30, 2015

0720 in a weekday

It's school holiday... and I now have the 'privilege' to step out of the house later... yes, after sunrise, just like many of the office workers...

7.20 am. I alighted the bus at Tampines Interchange, taking the path that I take every morning (during term time). Except, the sky is now brighter. And there's someone there to distribute that morning papers, which are normally left intact, wrapped in plastic. Yes, can see the order queues, where the commuters bother to join to collect a copy of the Chinese papers before they join another queue to collect for the English (Today) papers.

The atmosphere seems lighter, with live music along the sheltered walkway leading to the MRT station. Yes, someone playing the saxophone loud and clear. As we walked nearer to the MRT station, there sat another live musician playing a chinese instruction (like the yue qin). Both elderly men were enjoying what they did. I guess commuters also walked at a livelier pace.

Welcome! It's Monday morning.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Tuition - to start before knowing your needs?

Chanced upon this advertisement this morning (in the Straits Times).
It's from a Tuition Centre to encourage one to start early to prepare for the "future", which I think it could be interpreted as 2016 EOY exam results or as far as your performance for the GCE exams!

Indeed, this is riding on this kiasu syndrome, which exists, I think, more amongst parents then students (though the advertisement addressed to students).

This set me thinking... do you just give 'extra tonic' when you might not have diagnosed the issue? There's only one "top" place there if you want your child to move all the way to the top... but it is worth to sacrifice other (comparatively) better things to come in the expense of the the hope to achieve results. I wonder.

Indeed, it would be great if a child could cope with demands in the school on his own, with the support from the school, as well as the support from home. What does he do with the rest of the time? Well, to be engaged in something more meaningful as a youth - a based experiences would be more desirable.  Indeed, one parent wrote in a recent survey reply. She was grateful that her child could survive Sec 1 without having to go through any tuition as the support rendered by the school is enough. Well, note... this child is a scholar!

Occasionally, parents would ask, "Is it time for me to get tuition for my child?"
My advice is always... let's diagnose the issue first...
1. Is your child really not doing well?
2. When your child did not do well, is it because your child is academically weak (since young already faced challenges to make sense out of the string of numerals) or is it due to his personal habit?
3. If it is about personal habit... have you sat down with your child to analyse what were habits that need to be addressed to, what new/ good habits need to cultivate?
4. If it is about personal habit, would sitting him in front of the tutor helps?

These are just few questions (out of the many) that parents need to think before making the first step to engage the tutor.

Indeed, for some parents who already engaged tutor but children still have yet performed up to expectations, one question to ask would be: How was the child responding to the tuition?
e.g. Is he clarifying areas of doubts (that he did not know and needed help) - which should be the primary purpose of tuition
OR is he doing additional pieces of work assigned by the tutor so much so that he had not gotten the opportunity to clarify his doubts? Is he also overwhelmed by this 'additional amount' of work?

Points to ponder...

Friday, September 25, 2015

My first SMART P(ersonal) D(igital) A(ssistant)

This was a post by the Straits Times this morning.

So nostalgic. I owned a Palm top

I fact, I had no desire to own one for a start... as gadgets did not really appeal to me; well, it's still the same today... I do think twice before placing my order - though these days, I must admit, the reason behind the 'buy' is more like a 'want' rather than a 'need' to. I think it's a blessing that my desire to own such gadgets have not changed much over the years (unlike the way that I would splash for food) :P

One of the push factors (to get the Palm Top) was largely because of work - the portfolio that I newly "acquired" then - so, to some extent, it's an expectation that the ICT Head should be one who look out for new technologies for exploration and assessment (on its relevance to teaching and learning in classrooms). Well, I recall I only bought it after more than half the colleagues in the room had one... and yes... it was also an "encouragement" from people around me...

It was pretty exciting to had that device on hand, though it's monochrone. By the excitement did not last long, probably because I was one of those slower learners when it comes to handling devices. I probably had too high an expectation of the gadget and forgot the need to look into managing "change". I must admit, my "change management" for this instance was a disaster. That's also why I did not harbour the thought of getting an iPad until I had assessed all the potential issues that I need to addressed to.

Well, two things that I will not forget my encounter with the PDA:

1. It was the first time when friends were surprised why I could 'press' the keys so fast ( thought I was using a handphone) when replying to SMSes. Hahaha... I appreciated the stylus a lot then.

2. Life turned chaos when I decided to abandon my A4 size planner and moved all my schedule to the device; and I had to switch back to pen-and-paper. Well, think about it... because of that lesson, I learn to plan my 'implementation' more carefully and now can manage my life much more smoothly with the Google Calendar!

Thursday, September 24, 2015

The Dot (by Reter Reynolds)

My Interpretation...

Saw the facebook post this morning:

When look into these 2 lines (separately), actually it's pretty interesting...
(without looking into the dictionary or wiki to check out the deeper meaning of the words...)

She did not lie - so, what does that mean?
Well, I would interpret that the 'fact' remains as a 'fact'. It is in the absence of 'noise' - There is no additional information or tweaking to the existing information that would probably clouds one's interpretation. 

On the other hand, it may also mean there are information undisclosed. Without this 'undisclosed' information, this would mean the lack of info may lead one to make some assumptions, which could led to wrong assumptions. Hence, this leads to the next line, "But she did not tell the whole truth". But at least, what's made available would be 'facts'; however, an incomplete picture of the actual scenario. So, now, one might say one has lied because the lack of info leads one to make assumptions - the wrong lead could create a total wrong picture.

So, not giving a complete picture does not imply lying, isn't it?


Saturday, September 05, 2015

Reaching out to the Pioneer Generation


Since the Pioneer Generation Package was rolled out, the government has made a remarkable and commendable effort to communicate the benefits to the pioneers - not only gatherings at the community levels, but also through the media, which is the most powerful media to reach out to the mass (as long as there's an element that makes it goes viral)!

In fact, the 'pioneer' (first) series (led by Mark Lee and Sebastian Tan) was a great success! Indeed, I think, not just the pioneers, but also the younger generation. It's not necessary in dialect - in mandarin is good enough to communicate the message effectively. Of course, thanks to those behind the scene who crafted the lyrics and the re-arranging the music, as well as the conceptualisation of the clip. Had heard the Hokkian version, and it was good; while the cantonese version was not a song, but it's something that, as a Cantonese, I could understand and appreciate.

Recently, another series was released - nevertheless, it's something that I think the Cantonese version got backfired. Well, I guess fortunately the "comments" feature was disabled, else, it would be overwhelmed by responses that would suggest the authority to take it down. Apart from the tune that it adopted from a well-known song from Sam Hui (半斤八两), I guess none of the Cantonese community could appreciate who's uttered by the presenter. The words were "off" when pronounced - 建国一代becomes 建国一“袋”. It's the first time that my parents, who are usually quite indifferent to any advertisements/ commercials actually bothered to get the TV remote controller to mute the sound until the entire clip is over!

Well, it's not over yet... here's what I found from Youtube - the critique was quite subtle, but it tells all...

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

RSVP redefined in today's world

It's an interesting observation - how online social media environment and culture has changed practices that have been in practice for decades!

Click HERE to read original document.

In fact, when asked "RSVP", we would normally indicate the host our attendance to the invited event. This information is certainly very useful (in the past) when we could use the number for preparation. However, today, the online social media has changed the entire 'ball-game'. It could be used as a moral support to the organiser of the event, but not necessary attending.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Waste no more food

Source: 16 June 2015 联合晚报

This is a great way to remind food wasters! Basically, it's about educating food wasters by heightening their awareness.

Sometimes, we simply could not stop ourselves from being 'greedy' when the situation permits.
I'm not sure if it's the Asian mentality? or it's just the "Chinese" mentality? or simply because we have yet heard of similar reports of food wasters in the other side of the globe?

In Singapore, we faced similar problem - not from the "chinese" as this was an issue long before the chinese started invading. It's our local people who possess the "kiasu" mentality, thinking of stretching every single note or cent - to make the money worth. It was so serious that the restaurants here introduced "fine" as a penalty. Well, it works here, in Singapore! Don't forget, we earned our reputation as a "Fine City" long long ago, so the approach to 'fine' was not new to many people. However, "fine" only imposes as a deterrent. It had not educated people or raise their awareness about the impact of their action. That's why I like the Swiss' approach :)

Monday, June 08, 2015

Holiday is for...

In Singapore, it's not new to find the wide range of activities that are available to engage children during the school holidays. It's not surprising to find pages of advertisements on programmes to engage children.

During my childhood days, I looked forward to school holidays because that's when I could laze around... and take my own sweet time to complete any holiday assignments (that I could vaguely recall there was any of them!). Well, getting the opportunities to watch TV programmes in the afternoon and 'extended' play hours were what we looked forward to during the holidays. Going for tour was not common those days. Computer games were not in existence.

Well, some parents would have commented that those holiday time were gone to waste as I was not 'purposefully' engaged, or put my time into good use - to learn a new skill or do something to enhance my learning. Anyway, those were holidays that I guess children would look forward to! That's when I could really unwind and re-charge. Okay, I only came to understand what "unwind" and "re-charge" mean as I grew older, when I had been increasing deprived from my school holidays - when I had to channel time to prepare for exams, complete assignments, and these days, to clear my backlog markings, carry out planning, etc.

On the contrary, these days, the range of activities to engage children has expanded! Not just what parents would "design" and "do", but also lots of service providers are leveraging this golden period to devise a wide range of academic and 'character' related programmes to the attract parents to send their children to participate. Well, these programmes are devised accordingly to today's needs! While vendors would have carried out the market research to identify the needs so that their supply would meet the demand (hence a worthwhile investment at their end).

With the population becoming more educated and there's a larger portion of parents who are more 'affluent' (and can afford to spend more.. and would not feel too much a pinch when it comes to spending on their children), the types of programmes have evolved too!

Some of these would include: Tours are no longer just a means to unwind - there are travel agencies that draw up educational tour itinerary where parents and children would be immersed in some learning journey - to parents, that's definitely a 'draw' - how intensive these types of tours are? I don't know. Well, I guess there are pros and cons. I just wonder... parents can just make any trip educational without formalising it. Learning could be more personalised and seamlessly weaved into the journey if parents do some carefully planning, especially in this technologically advanced age! Well, I believe, with the intensity that is certainly much lower, it would help to make the trip a more pleasant, personal and enjoyable one :)

Boot Camps and Workshops are not new these years! Singapore is well known to the world for its fantastic education system. It is also known for its competitiveness to be enrolled in the 'desired' programmes and schools! These structured programmes are not only meant for children at critical years that we previously assumed to be (Primary 6 and Secondary 4), but also increasingly common at junctures where children are to be 'readied' for Primary Schools (Primary 1), sitting for tests to be potentially shortlisted and enrolled into gifted programmes. You name it, you would definitely find 'takers' to run such programmes. Of course, to some, it's 'catch-up' times! there are also clash courses to help children to "level up", to close their learning gaps so that they could catch up with others in class. These courses are definitely not cheap to go for... not just the amount of fees to pay for, but also in terms of the children's and parents' time.

Going around Singapore actually could be a great way to 'spend' the holiday. Indeed, we are pampered with so many options out there... While we often look outwards (beyond the Singapore shores), there are numerous places that children can go and learn more about the small island that we call home. Museums, Parks, Zoo, Gardens, etc. Even a slow walk at some heritage places or zones could be interesting too. These places are easily accessible, and the beautiful part is, we can make multiple visits over time (and over the years!). There is no need to learn everything at the same time. Take our time to learn about the country that we call ourselves citizens to this place. In fact, many of these places organise activities for children during the school holidays, too! Bravo to the effort put in by these organisations to make the holiday educational yet fun to children!

Well, there are of course a lot more things to do during the holidays.... e.g. catching up with readings (not referring to school related reading) and revisiting some habits that we might have forgotten :)

Well, well... I guess, this is only when I start to appreciate my profession in the non-work-related aspect, i.e. when I could have a few days of the school holidays to do something that I could hardly carry out during school term, too :)


Saturday, May 16, 2015

What is responsible for the fall?

This is not the first time that people fell 'into' the gap.
However, it is something that is not un-anticipated because announcements to remind commuters to "mind the gap" have long exist!

Let's draw a parallel - there are lines of drains along the payments and we don't see or hear about any forms of installations to remind pedestrians to "mind the drains". Why?

Why, in the past, such instances hardly happened compared to these days?
Is it due to a change in the human behaviour?
Is it due to a shift of our attention and focus to the surrounding?
It's because we become so 'distracted' by gadgets and hence lowering our awareness to our surrounding?

Just wondering, how many are aware of the changes to the skyline just outside the MRT as the train moved past on its rails.

I wonder...

Thursday, January 01, 2015

My Collection of 2015 New Year Greetings...

Photography is one of my passions that grows from strength to strength as it goes each day... when I put in more thoughts each time I hold the camera (or the camera-phone). Well, I'm not into "serious" photography, but I think I learn to (and it's a strength) to make do with the minimal and stretch its capability despite being just "idiot proof". Certainly, that counts to my photography skills and an 'eye' of the angle to shoot :)

It's always a pleasure to be able to showcase some of my "artistic" masterpieces to friends, and of course, the festive greetings become one of the greatest platform.

Below is the collection prepared for Year 2015 New Year greetings.