Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Randy Pausch - A Dying Man's Lecture

Randy Pausch, a Professor from Carnegie Mellon, was dying from pancreatic cancer, when he gave his last lecture at the Carnegie Mellon University on 18 Sept 2007, before a packed Auditorium. His speech title was "Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams," and Randy Pausch talked about the lessons he learned and gave advices to students on how to achieve their own career and personal goals.

Randy Pausch left Earth on 25 July 2008. He was 47 years old.

12 Minutes Video Featured on Oprah

Original 76 Minutes in Carnegie Mellon University

Randy Pausch showed us how we should always live our life to the fullest.

Life means so much :)

Monday, July 28, 2008

Eunos Harmony Trail to Kuala Lumpur and Kuantan Day 3

27 July 2008

Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3

Last day of the Eunos Harmony Trail. In the morning, Eunos Grassroots Leaders had a meeting after breakfast with Mayor Zainul. The purpose of the meeting was to endorse the Kopi-Talk discussions we previously had in NACLI.

The first stop for the day was at the Masjid Negeri Sultan Ahmad. There was a group photo taking before we toured around and take some pictures.

Next up, we headed to the East Coast Beach.

After the beach, we went to Sin Kee Hung Sdn Bhd, a company producing local products like salted fishes. According to the tour guide, Malaysia government is actively promoting the trade of salted fishes because there is literally no cost in producing them, but could be sold at a good profit margin level. Mayor's wife is a heavy shopper.

We had our lunch at Li Yuan Restaurant. As usual the bus driver lost his way again and we were the last bus to arrive. It was a candid scene when Civil Defence Executive Committee (CDEC) Chairman, Mr. Pang Loo Sen PBM, was guarding the male toilet. The queue for the female toilet was too long and he volunteered to station there so that females can also utitlise the cubicles in the male toilet. He settles the "emergency" issues.

Mayor gave a final speech, thanking everyone for the success of the trail. Mr. Michael Fong PBM also called us the Trail Blazers. Mayor Zainul would continue his journey back to Kuala Lumpur for work purposes. Sending us off, he went to every bus to distribute chocolates, a gift from his wife.

We did our last shopping at Yo Yo Native Food Products. Throughout the journey back to Yong Peng for dinner, the Karaoke VCD was repeatedly played. After a while, I began to sing along some of the Hokkien songs.

After dinner at Yong Peng, we were told that we need to change our bus again for the 3rd time. We were amused by all the incidents that only happened to our bus - Rainwater leaking into bus, always losing our way, air-conditioner cover fell off, microphone spoilt, etc. I believe most of the people in the bus would remember the bus plate number and buy 4D with it.

There was a long queue of buses at the Tuas checkpoint. I was glad to be warmly greeted by the staff at the checkpoint. Each one of them was groomed nicely and had smiles on their faces.

Bus 7 brought us back to Eunos Zone 3 RC office. Home Sweet Home!

Other Coverage of the Eunos Harmony Trail:
Ministry of Foreign Affairs Press Release

Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3

Eunos Harmony Trail to Kuala Lumpur and Kuantan Day 2

26 July 2008

Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3

The 322 participants of the Eunos Harmony Trail had their breakfast at a specially reserved ballroom of Grand Seasons Hotel.

At about 7.30am, we had a change of bus again and headed to our first attraction for the day -- Batu Caves. Within the Batu Caves, there are Hindu temples. Hindus make up less than 5% of the population in Kuala Lumpur, according to the tour guide. Here lies the tallest statue of a Hindu God in the World, with a height of more than 12 storeys high. When it was launched, a helicopter had to be used to put on the garland for the statue.

A couple of us, including my family and I, walked up the 272 stairs of the Batu Caves. It proved to be an excellent morning exercise. Later, when we were on our way down, we saw Mayor Zainul with Hindu priests at the top too.

Within the Batu Caves are Hindu Temples and more stairs, haha.

Monkeys were running about, grabbing flowers for their breakfast. As the tour guide puts it, the monkeys are legal robbers. They could grab your bags and cameras but the police won't help you in retrieving them.
After the visit to the Batu Caves, the participants set off to Kuantan. Kuantan is situated at the East of West Malaysia while Kuala Lumpur was at the West of it. The journey took a few hours. In my bus, bus no. 7, someone bought a Karaoke VCD and Mr. Yap sang along. During the journey, one of the air-conditioner cover fell off and sparked off some candid complaints. When we reached Kuantan, the driver was lost and could not find the restaurant where we would be having our lunch.

And then, we finally reached our lunch stop, Hai Tian Lou Seafood Restaurant. The participants of bus 7 occupied tables 19, 20 & 21. I was seated at 20. Those at 20 were always very full after meals because table 19 and 21 kept passing food that they can't finish to us.

After the sumptuous lunch, we went to Wan Fo Dian (万佛殿, hall of Ten Thousand Buddha Images) managed by the Pang Buddhist Association. There we took a group photo and it was published in the China Press, a Malaysian newspaper.

All the participants were led to the basement and watched a video on how Wan Fo Dian was created and the history of Pang Buddhist Association. Mayor Zainul gave a speech of which he mentioned that he has mixed blood of Indian and Malay. In Singapore, Muslims are minorities but in Malaysia, it's the other way round. If we were to include China and India, then it would be a whole lot of a different scenario. Therefore he called for us not to segregate people according to majority-minority but to live together harmoniously. Then he exchanged gifts with the Pang Buddhist Association.

The organising committee led by Mr. Michael Fong PBM treated the participants with durians (worth RM1200). There was also refreshments provided by Pang Buddhist Association.

At the main hall of Wan Fo Dian, there is a jade statue of Buddha. The statue is carved out from only one piece of jade. The hall was decorated with 15,000 small caricatures of Buddha.

Next, we headed to the Church of St. Thomas (Roman Catholic), situated right beside our hotel at Grand Hotels International. There, the Priest Eugene Benedict gave a speech which highlighted that as early as the 19th century, Singaporeans had gone to Kuantan to teach Christianity to the people. The church itself had also its roots from Upper Serangoon. Mayor Zainul also reciprocated by describing how we came to the Church with divine assistance.

During refreshment time, some Eunos residents presented a song.

We then checked in to the Grand Hotels International. No one in my bus believed it was a 4-star hotel. Nevertheless, we did some washing up and assembled downstairs to attend dinner.

We had a grand reception at the entrance of the restaurant. There was a dragon dance performance followed by lion dance. Malay drummers lined the stairways to the dining hall.

Mayor Zainul gave a speech and also exchanged a gift with the representative from Malaysia tourism board. To a grand finale, he led the residents to the Eunos Song <<爱拼才会赢>>, a Hokkien song "Strive to Succeed". All the participants rose, clapped to the tune and sang along. It was a rather proud moment.

The Church of St. Thomas held a Mass for those interested, while the rest turned in for the night.

Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3

Eunos Harmony Trail to Kuala Lumpur and Kuantan Day 1

25 July 2008

Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3

At 6 am, 322 Eunos Grassroots Leaders and residents gathered at their respective Residents' Committee (RCs) Offices and the Community Club (CC). 200 females, 122 males, with age ranging from as young as 6 years old to 81 years old. They were present together with Mayor Zainul Abidin Rasheed, Adviser for Eunos Grassroots Organisations, Senior Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Mayor of Northeast CDC for a 3D2N tour to Malaysia.

My RC, Eunos Zone 3 RC, took a 44-seater bus no. 7 came late due to a tire puncture. We would later encounter many happenings with the bus. We set off immediately and reached the Tuas Checkpoint.

Some of the old folks had problem with the new electronic gantry at the checkpoint. Those that could not get pass the gantry had their passports retained by the staff and they had to join a queue to manually clear their passports.

Then, something went wrong. A participant of the Harmony Trail actually left the checkpoint with her passport still held on by the Immigration staff. How could someone get across the Immigration Checkpoint without her passport, even when there had been a recent lapse in security issues at checkpoints?

Anyway, we proceeded to the Malaysia customs where we changed our bus to a bigger and more comfortable one. We were joyous until the bus started to leak when it rained heavily.

After eating our breakfast at Yong Peng's Lucky Garden Restaurant, we changed our bus again. It was good that the organising committee had prepared a spare van and bus for emergency purposes.

At about 11am, we reached Ecolite Biotech Manufacturing Sdn. Bhd., a Bird Nest production factory. There was a grand reception where lion dance troops welcomed Mayor Zainul.

There was a tour into the viewing gallery which was a simulated bird nest house. From it, the participants can see how workers process bird nest.

According to the tour guide, Malaysia is one of the few countries in the world that has 2 capitals, the federal capital at Kuala Lumpur and the administrative capital at Putrajaya. Putrajaya is named after the first Prime Minister of Malaysia. The districts within Putrajaya can be distinguished from the different patterns of lamp posts. We settled our lunch at Putra Jaya Seafood restaurant.

One of the main objectives of the Harmony Trail is to promote racial harmony within fellow Singaporeans through visiting different places of worship and understand the different religions. So our first MAIN stop is actually the Putra Mosque.

The Putra Mosque is one of the biggest mosque in the whole of Malaysia, able to accommodate over 10,000 worshipers at one time. It has a distinctive pink colour dome. The participants were warmly received and watched a video at the underground theatrette. The Mayor then exchanged gifts with the representative from the mosque.

Following up, the participants went to Berjaya Times Square for shopping! Here, I found a Batman standee and took a picture with it since I'm wearing a Batman-themed shirt. My family and I then went to Sungei Wan to buy some goodies before coming back to meet the rest of the group.

For Dinner, everyone had a sumptuous dinner at Royal China Restaurant. Managed to get a copy of the menu back home:
  • Braised Fish Lips Soup with Eight Treasure
  • Steamed Live Patin in Village Style
  • Pan Fried Tiger Prawns with Supreme Sauce
  • Deep Fried Pork Ribs Marinated with Preserved Sauce
  • Sauteed Ostrich Meat with Hong Kong Kai Lan
  • Stewed Mushrooms with Gluten and Fish Paste
  • Sauteed Deluxe Mixed Vegetables
  • Sauteed Assorted Seafood in Assam Sauce / Yong Chaw Fried Rice
  • Sweetened Sea Coconut with Ginseng
At 9pm, we were surprised and honoured that the Foreign Minister of Malaysia, Dato’ Seri Utama Dr. Rais Yatim, joined us for a while. It was only decided on that day itself that he would be coming.

At about 11pm, we went to Grand Seasons Hotel for a 1 Night stay. I guess many of the other tourists at the hotel lobby might have been shocked by our crowd which flooded the entire lift lobby area, waiting to rest for the day and anticipate for a much exciting programme for the next day.

Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Flu Remedies

I'm down with the flu of 2008, my annual dose of illness to give me a break from my work. Let's take a look at some effective flu remedies. For those of you who can't differentiate a flu from a cold, a flu basically gives you fever, blocked nose, sore throat etc while a cold just gives you the running nose.

Combating the Sore Throat:

When Baohui said eating the MacDonald's Ice Cream could cure sore throat, I was in disbelief initially. So we put it to the test. We bought the S$0.60 Ice Cream cone and then I began to gobble it up as usual. The MacDonald's Ice Cream is smoother than normal ice creams, probably due to the gelatin content within it. True enough, my throat wasn't that painful after eating the ice cream. The ice cream might make you cough, which is good in removing off the phlegms.

Combating the Fever:

Yes, I'm a true believer that Coke works on curing fever. During my Secondary school days, I had a high fever while travelling to Vietnam on a school excursion. That night, my teacher Mr Ling bought coke for me and it cured my fever overnight. Coke is also good for diarrhoea cases too (will be explained in the next section).

Before the Coke, my Mother bought a Ling Yang (羚羊) drink, a traditional Chinese herbal drink. This is a must-have for all fever cases. Very effective as well.

Of course, I reluctantly popped two paracetemol pills before I slept.

* Caution: Do not drink coke + Ling Yang + pop pills at one go!

Combating Diarrhoea:

Coke also helps in curing diarrhoea due to the gas it creates in your stomach. However, if you are having diarrhoea, try to avoid the MacDonald Ice Cream...

Last But Not Least:

The Love and Concern are the best antidotes for any diseases in the whole world.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Eunos GROs Kopi-Talk Retreat at NACLI

20 July 2008

Early Sunday morning, Eunos Grassroots Leaders assembled at the Eunos Community Centre where a bus ferried us to the National Community Leadership Institute (NACLI).

When we reached NACLI, we had breakfast before going into ice-breaking activities. We were divided into groups and played a competitive "Box Sled" game which basically requires each team to deliver 5 marbles (1 at a time) from one place to another using short "sleds".

Next, Eunos GRLs went into a Kopi-talk discussion on 3 topics - (i) How to attract the youth to participate in Grassroots activities, (ii) What are the new ways to attract residents to Grassroots activities, (iii) How to integrate minorities and new citizens.

The facilitators then present a summary of the discussion. It will also be presented during the coming trip to Malaysia with the Mayor.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Fond Food Memories from the Army Days

16 July 2008

Went to grab some bite before a late dinner. Had a $1 popiah at the coffeeshop right opposite Serangoon JC. Think the hard work and mental churning of ideas have increased my metabolic rate. Instead of buying half a steamed chicken for a bite, we went to the traditional grocery shop adjacent to the coffeeshop and bought Indomee instant noodles.

Back in my army training in SISPEC at Pulau Tekong, I used to buy Indomee instant noodles for supper whenever there is time to patronise the canteen. During training days, such food, when enjoyed with fellow comrades, acts as morale-boosters.

Another food item that I vividly always remember would be the Milo Bar. I remember that I would always smuggle a bar when there is outfield training. I would also buy a few extra packets to resell to my bunkmates. Those were the days.

The Chicken and Egg Theory in Relationship

The very beauty of Life in Human is how we interact with each other, forming a relationship that could be mutually antagonistic or void of animosity. Whatever goes up comes down and it can be a journey towards the bottomless pit.

The Chicken and Egg question has never had an answer - Did the Chicken appear first or the Egg?

At good times, people hang around with each other, singing praises of one another, promising of good times in the future. Whatever blob that might exist would be wiped out as a speck of dirt. Life is portrayed as a promising and bright platform, until something went wrong.

After a while, the Chicken had matured into a confident one. It found that it no longer requires the nutrients and protection from the Egg shell to survive. And when the Egg that nourished the Chicken is busy mending its cracks, the Chicken had found the Cock.

The Chicken and the Cock had a great time together. They must have a good time together. Instead of recovering from the crack, now the Egg is neglected altogether. The Egg was kept oblivious to the dating between the Chicken and the Cock. So while the Egg was still scraping whatever it had left from the inner shell to feed the Chicken, the Chicken already had its eyes somewhere else. Finally the Chicken spread its wings wide and flew for a distance, leaving the Egg at its most disastrous stage.

The Chicken confided to the Cock that the Egg was violent and frequently injured the Chicken. In fact, the Egg only cared and protected the Chicken.

Meanwhile, the Shell had managed to find the pieces of itself and mended it back to its original form. The empty Egg Shell was rolling through the forest when it hit a soy plant. It was an enchanting experience. The Soy Plant revitalised the empty Egg Shell with nutrients and support, while the empty Egg Shell once again grew strong to shield the Soy Plant against herbivores.

The Chicken had a hard time, leading a life lacking of sufficient nutrients and when it discovered that the Shell had found the Soy Plant, it began to feel remorseful. Without the Shell, the Chicken would have a hard time looking for food and leading a high-end lifestyle.

The Chicken called for the Shell to return. But why would the Shell return when in the first place, the Chicken had a rendezvous with the Cock?

The Chicken was stunned. It is speechless. It then began to wonder... how did the Shell know?

So you began to wonder which came first -- the Egg or the Chicken?

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Trip to Pulau Semakau Landfill

12 July 2008

At 2.30pm, Eunos YEC members and friends left Eunos CC for a 1 Night Trip to Pulau Semakau Landfill. The visit is a retreat for Eunos YEC members, and it became the first ever YEC to set foot on Pulau Semakau.

Our bus reached the Marina South Pier at about 3pm. The group then went on board the ferry with all the prepared food for night barbeque and beverages. The journey on water took about 15min, faster than what we expected. Along the route, we saw a close-up scenery of Sentosa Cove.

Upon arrival at Pulau Semakau, we were greeted with a slight pungent smell which resembled the smell of "Ling Yang" Water [Chinese Herbal Drink]. Our tour guide, Edward, took a group photo for us and then we went to drop our luggage at the lounge which would also be the place for sleeping.

First programme for the day was the introduction to the island. We watched the screening of the background of Pulau Semakau and how it was to be the world's unique landfill.

Garbage waste in Singapore could be categorised as incinerable and non-incinerable. The incinerable waste would be burnt at the various incinerators in mainland Singapore. Incineration could reduce waste volume by 90%. The ashes and sludge would then be transported via a barge to Pulau Semakau from Tuas. At the site, some excavators, each costing over S$2 million, would scoop the ashes and place it into dump trucks. The dump trucks would deposit the waste into the designated area.

The landfill at Pulau Semakau is unique in the sense that the landfills in other countries are created by digging a huge hole and dumping thrash into it. In Pulau Semakau, a 7km barrage was constructed to join Pulau Semakau and another island together. The space within is further segmented into various cells. Water is pumped out into adjacent cells and sealed from the rest when the cell is used for depositing the waste. Hence, waste is directly deposited to the seabed.

Surprisingly, Singapore had developed a great method to prevent leeching of compost into the sea. A good evidence that indeed it had not been happening is the thriving mangrove swamps lining certain parts of the island. There were also exuberant growth of plants at the filled cells.

Pulau Semakau has a recreation corner for visitors. The 12 lamp posts are powered by a wind turbine and solar cells. There are barbeque pits, sheltered huts and free usage of bicycles.

After having our barbeque dinner with the sceneries of the sun setting and the cool breeze, we had a night walk before checking out the fireflies. As the moon was rather bright, we only managed to see some of them on the trees. The trees looked like Christmas trees with lightings.

On Day 2 morning, we embarked on a rainforest trail and strolled along the coast of Pulau Semakau. This is a lovely island!

Reduce, Reuse and Recycle so that we can achieve ZERO WASTE, ZERO LANDFILL :)

Thursday, July 10, 2008

A Day of Enquiry with the ACRA helpdesk

10 July 2008

You know holidays are about to end when you need to choose your modules again. Selected my modules for the module preference exercise. The theme of study for the coming semester would be Chinese Politics. Studying is about strategising. Why spread yourself thin when you can focus on an area?

After settling the module preference, I went on to Bizfile to help my Uncle in renewing his business registration. From what I thought was a simple process, it took me the whole of my afternoon to get it settled and done with.

Logging on to Bizfile, I discovered that the business registration is expired. I clicked on the renewal button but it can't work. So I picked up the phone and call the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA) helpdesk.

Through a long process of repeated calling to ACRA helpdesk and my Uncle, I realised that it will take you just a few months to get your business registration totally cancelled. It does not matter if your business had been operating for decades. With the new policy mooted just 2 years ago, business owners now need to be very prudent and diligent when renewing business registration.

An alternative route of redress was offered by the friendly ACRA helpdesk staff. Enclose a $30 cheque to the Ministry of Finance as a processing fee, together with a letter to the Business Faciliatation Branch of ACRA detailing the reason of delay in renewal and purpose of retaining the original business registration number. This was subjected to the departments' approval.

I immediately typed out a letter on behalf of my Uncle and would be awaiting for the reply from the authorities.

At night, I indirectly learnt some incidents that had been happening. I just find it strange why one could be so unconsciously addicted to money but proclaimed that one is not. It is one thing to love money, yet another to be addicted to it. My message to the individual: Even if you proclaim that money is not the factor, you know it is. Do something about it before it is too late.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Review on the Pinhole Glasses

Finally received the free pinhole glasses from Pietro Joaquin.

Removing the pinhole glasses from the envelope, I was amazed by the design of it. The pinhole glasses that I usually see have black frames instead of transparent ones.

Pinhole glasses, also known as stenopeic glasses, are eyeglasses with a series of pinhole-sized perforations filling an opaque sheet of plastic in place of each lens. It works like a pinhole camera, restricting the amount of light that enters the eye so as to reduce the circle of confusion at the retina and increase the depth of field. As a result, it is said that pinhole glasses could treat myopia, astigmatism, hyperopia, cataract, presbyopia and computer vision syndrome. Check out how pinhole glasses work.

Now to the reviewing...

Initially, looking at the pinhole glasses, I was afraid that it might be too small for my head. When I tried it on, it fit comfortably well with the elasticity. One size fits all.

The pinhole glasses worked better when you are in brightness. For instance, wearing it while blogging gave me the same kind of vision comparable to when I am wearing my own spectacles. However, I found it not very useful when reading the newspapers and book. I would suggest users to only use it in the day or when facing the screen where there is sufficient lighting. This would give you a good feel of how effective the pinhole glasses is.

As mentioned above, I find this design cooler than the usual ones I encountered which have black frames, although you wouldn't want to wear this out to town (It's not meant for that anyway). With transparent frame, it looks more like a pair of sunglasses.

Purchase your pair of Pinhole Glasses from Pinhole Glasses Direct

Monday, July 07, 2008

Aljunied GRC MPs Block Visit at Eunos

6 July 2008

Started the day with L1 Branch District 80 Toastmaster meeting. This is my first meeting after I took up the Vice President (Education) position. The meeting was informative and (since it is a Toastmaster event) it ended punctually.

After the meeting, I took off immediately to my Residents' Committee (RC) office to prepare for the Aljunied GRC MPs Block Visit. Most of the members were already folding and counting letters for residents when I arrived.

My role was to take down notes of residents' concerns during conversation with the MP. I was assigned to BG (NS) George Yeo.

At about 2.30pm, the MPs started to arrive. First was Mrs Lim Hwee Hua (Senior Minister of State for Finance and Transport), followed by Mr Yeo Guat Kwang and Mayor Zainul Abidin Rasheed (Senior Minster of State for Foreign Affairs).

A briefing by Mr Sim Wai Chin, Chairman of Eunos CCC

BG (NS) George Yeo arrived shortly after the MPs. Mdm Cynthia Phua was absent for the event. The 4 MPs were to visit the residents of Block 620 and 621 Bedok Reservoir Road. Grassroots leaders and representatives from Town Council, PCF, HDB, NEA, LTA were divided into groups led by a Eunos grassroots leader with the MP.

After getting to know the residents, the MPs then presented a notepad with a letter to them and took pictures. Many of the residents were thrilled. Of course, some also enquired about issues that concerned them and the various representatives were there to reply promptly.
BG (NS) George Yeo speaking to residents at Void Deck

After the block visit, the MPs and representatives gathered at the RC office for refreshment.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

eDLink Singapore - Unethical Way of Driving Web Traffic to Site

I received this email in my inbox and felt weird about it.

I didn't register for such a service in the first place. My first thought was "Did anyone sign this up for me?"

Immediately, I attempted to log in at the website. However, fortunately or unfortunately, the given username and password didn't work.
A try at resetting the password shows that the username is not found.

Uh Huh! Another spamming email to drive traffic to its site! The email by eDLink Singapore mimicked a registration confirmation email so that it gets readers of such emails to log on to its website to check it out. According to the spam law in Singapore, all advertising emails/SMS would need to include a in its message title. So eDLink Singapore literally found such a loophole to gain traffic for itself.

I thought such unethical approach by eDLink Singapore would definitely be detrimental to its image.