Friday, 29 May 2009

Do not rush to grow up...

Do not rush to grow up - you only walk by each stage of life once. Cherish each stage in time and enjoy it for what it is. You'd never walk by the same way again, so take a deep breath and appreciate where you are in life.

Take a critical look at yourself now. Many of us wish that we can move forward in time - be it towards the time when our children grow up and do not need our incessant attention, or towards the time where we can comfortably retire and do what we always wanted to do. Some wish that we can move backwards in time when life was much more simple and we did not have so much responsibilities on our shoulders, or we hope to go back to times when we were much fitter and younger (late nights were easy, and we can eat without fear of piling on weight).

"Do or do not... there is no try

Not many of us can appreciate the time in which we live. As the Jedi master Yoda says, "All his life has he looked away... to the future, to the horizon. Never his mind on where he was. What he was doing." We always postpone happiness to the future, and recall regrets of the past. What we should do is to seize the day and make the best of today!

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote an entry about the Sunscreen Song by Baz Luhrmann. One of the lines in the lyrics go, "Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth; oh nevermind; you will not understand the power and beauty of your youth until they have faded. But trust me, in 20 years you’ll look back at photos of yourself and recall in a way you can’t grasp now how much possibility lay before you and how fabulous you really looked…."

That's right... we all looked back at photos of the past and see how alive we were in our youth, before all these responsibilities were heaped upon us. Sure we looked dorky in the old photos, but hey... the glow of youth made everything seem possible! Those were carefree times, and we wanted to conquer the world. Who cares if we didn't look our best in those photos? Youth does not need any make-up or branded material to look good... youth itself is priceless.

So what happened to us in-between then and now? Work... stress... responsibilities... the demands of adulthood and working life took its toll on us. Our aspirations and energy were sapped away by the relentless demands of work and life, and time passed us by in an instant. We stopped appreciating life and the things around us, content to be able to grasp a moment of respite from work and life. Our personal time became a precious commodity, and we hated people and situations that wrestled the precious few hours from us. Anything that required our additional attention, such as cars or refrigerators breaking down, or family members falling sick ... such issues become irritating because they interfered with our personal time. We want time to pass by quickly to a stage in life where we are no longer irritated by the lack of time to handle such matters, or where such matters ceased to be an issue.

Herein lies the problem - it is escapism at best, and escapism is never a good thing. By always looking forward to the future, we miss the moments that defines our stages in life (yes... the stages that we only walked by once). I know of people who can't wait to get past a stage in life, only to find that the next stage carries its own set of problems. Perhaps that is that why girls always want to remain 21. At 14, they can't wait to grow up to have the freedom to go out without curfew and buy whatever they want. At 36 they wished they were back at carefree 21 again with that terrific figure and flawless complexion.

We face different opportunities and problems at various stages in life, and it is up to us to see the bright side of life at each point in our life's trajectory. If you are married and you can't wait till your kids grow up and stop bugging you incessantly with their questions, you'd regret sixteen years down the road when you wish they'd even speak to you about their lives and friends. If you are single, enjoy your personal time. If you are attached or married, enjoy your partner's company. Enjoy where you are now, and behave like your age. Don't be in a rush to grow up.

Here're pictures of my car - a MINI Cooper S Cabrio Sidewalk edition. I love it - and I love many other cars as well. I love the new Mercedes Benz C-Class, but I picked the MINI over the C200. Why? Because I know I only live life once, and at this stage in life when I'm single and I've no family commitment, I can buy the MINI without guilt and enjoy the wind in my hair (while I still have a crowning glory). The Mercedes can wait - it's a typical saloon car that you can fit a child seat so you can buy it when you have a family. The MINI on the other hand... is a gorgeous car that fits nicely into only a short time in your life. (No... MINI does not pay me for this triade)

While you are fit and nimble, go forth and seek adventure. Travel to places you always wanted to see. You will never remain so dexterous - the next time you spot an any elderly persons with walking difficulty, remember that they were once as frisky as you are. And that you will one day have as much mobility issues as they have now. Until that day comes, run like the wind and never look back or look forward.

So live your life without regrets - one stage at a time...

If you've not watched the movie "Click" by Adam Sandler... go watch it. I can't explain the concept more vividly than the movie.

Sunday, 24 May 2009

Photo gallery: 7 days in Tibet

Sometime ago, I went on a short vacation to Tibet (strike one off from the "100 things to do before I die" list). While Brad Pitt spent "Seven Years in Tibet", I could only afford to spend seven days. Frankly if I can end up looking like Brad Pitt after seven years there, I would stay there!

While Brad may look slightly better than me (getting shameless here), I'm pretty sure my photos look better than his. So here they are...

Click on photo to enter gallery.

Saturday, 23 May 2009

Bus from the past!

I was having lunch with some friends on a hot Saturday afternoon, when the topic turned to the good old days when air-conditioning was not readily available. We talked about the nostalgic times when SBS buses were truly an experience to behold! I’m sure many of you remember the 70’s to 80’s era of SBS buses:

1) There were no air-conditioning, and windows rattled incessantly beside your ear due to the terrible vibration. Half the windows were always jammed shut, the other half required He-Man’s (if you’re reading this article, you'd remember He-Man and the Masters of the Universe) strength to open.

2) It would be a cold day in hell when you finally sit in an ideal position. If you were not sitting next to the windows, you’d be too shy to ask the passenger next to you to open them. If you were sitting next to the window, the opening was almost always too far ahead or too far behind for you to enjoy the breeze. If the window ahead of you was open, you could count on a lady with long hair seated in front of you, so you got a nice lashing of her Sifone hair (pray there’re no louse or “kutu”) across your face. It always seemed more romantic in the movies.

3) When it rained, nobody bothered to close the windows unless the rain was pelting their faces. The window seals never actually work properly so you’d end up with water drips on you when you sat beside the windows. The windows would fog up from the immense heat generated from everyone’s heavy breathing and the carbon dioxide built-up was enough for the vegetable in the aunties' baskets start photosynthesis again. If you thought that was bad, wait till you see the torrents of water gushing by your feet every time the bus accelerated or braked. Did I mention the little cockroaches scuttling for cover from the rainwater? It looked like a scene from "The Day After Tomorrow".

4) The seats were really just metal frames with ply-board backing lined by thin sponge and red PVC coverings. There were always some numbers scribbled on the back of each chair for you to call “for a good time” if you were feeling bored. Check if you can spot any of your friend’s home numbers (only 6 digits… nobody owned a handphone then). If some long-legged passenger sat behind you, you’d end up with two inverse breasts on your back from their knees caps pressing against you - the seat backs were that thin!

5) Student fares cost only 25 cents then.

Yes sir... I'd love to have hair like that!

6) There was no need to buy hair products. There’re always plenty of Brylcreem smeared on the windows by sleepy old men who leaned their well-greased heads against the window. Simply scrape the cream off the window with a ruler, and you’d have perfect hair to withstand the strongest wind from the wide-open window in front of you. Not to worry even if you never use Brylcreem… they had the same philosophy as Famous Amos - you got to enjoy free smells as well.

7) Bus number signs were not lit up, so good luck spotting your buses at night.

8) There were no buttons for bells – there was only a rubber strip mounted on the roof of the bus for the buzzer. If you were vertically challenged or belonged to the leprechaun/dwarf/elf species, good luck. Be sure to press your buzzer at the most opportune time, because there was no “Bus Stopping” signage to remind the bus driver (we call them bus drivers during those days; nowadays they’re “promoted” to bus captains) to stop at the bus stop. Buzz too early and the bus driver would forget about you and zoom past your bus stop.

Don't we all miss the good old days...

Thursday, 21 May 2009

Ellen DeGeneres Commencement Speech at Tulane University (2009-05-16)

Hot off the oven... this is Ellen DeGeneres' speech at the commencement ceremony at Tulane University last week.

It's not as philosophical as the "sunscreen" commencement speech, but it sure is funny and sobering at the same time. Sociology students will especially understand the speech about social pressures, conformity and deviance. The message though is simple - stay true to yourself and live your life the way you think it should be. You only live once, so do not let others run your life. Live free and be yourself.

The next time others pressurize you to make a major decision in your life against your wishes, think about how you'd like to be remembered in death. Will you be "the guy who's really easy-going and with the crowd", or "the guy who lived his life to the fullest in the way he deemed fit". I certainly know what I want inscribed on my tombstone.

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Imitation is the best flattery

As the saying goes, imitation is the best form of flattery. This is an old ad from Peugeot, but it still gets me in stitches whenever I view it. Not many brands dare to use humour in their ads, but when done well humour is an exceptional weapon in disarming the jaded consumer. Stupid management will say that this ad will not really make consumers believe that the Peugeot is a desirable brand.

The clever marketers will snigger at such comments, for they know the true value of this ad lies in the portrayal of Peugeot as a clever brand, and the drivers of Peugeot as fun people.

A better investment than real estate - beverages!

My suspicions have been confirmed. Drinks prices have been going up faster than the property prices during the boom. A can of Nescafe Latte coffee which used to cost $1.20 can now retail for $2.05 in less than 3 years. It's true... I paid that price in a 7-11 at Chinatown. That's a whooping 70% price increase... I guess I can forget about buying a unit at St Regis and spend S$4 million on buying crates of Nescafe instead. That should net me $2.8 million profit by 2012 since everyone needs to drink coffee to stay awake during the overtime they put in to pay for ridiculous property prices.

According to a report in Today newspaper, majority of drink stall owners do not display their price lists, and even some of those with the list are guilty of overcharging by 10-20 cents. Just last Sunday, a food court staff approached my table asking if we'd like to order drinks. That's new for a food court! I discovered the reason why when the bill came... $1.7 for a can of Coke and $1.50 for a cup of tea. Jeeeze... and they wonder why people are choosing NOT to drink during meals!

Quite frankly, I've never seen any price indices move as quickly as drinks prices. Sugar prices went up, the prices shot up. Coffee prices increased, the prices of drinks edged up again. Why... even oil prices were excuses to increase the prices as well! Everyone is also blaming the landlords for increasing the rents, which in turn caused the drinks prices to spiral out of control. While I'm not sure of the actual reasons why the drinks prices have escalated so much, the drinks sellers sure took advantage of all sorts of excuses to pump up the prices.

At the end of the day, nobody is capable or responsible for regulating the prices of beverages, which explains for the inflated prices across the months. CASE can advise the stall-owners, but I'd hardly imagine that to be effective. So consumers... vote with your money. If you think that things have gotten out of hand, DO NOT purchase the drinks. That is the most effective way of getting your message across - to the stall owners... to the landlords... to the manufacturers... whatever...

Monday, 18 May 2009

The burden of our minds

There are many things in life which we remember and hold close to our hearts, whether it is an act of kindness or a grudge against someone else. Over time, the burden gets heavier and the bitterness grows stronger. However, the other party may not even remember what happened, and this creates a distinct disparity of experience between the two parties who are involved in the same incident. This Zen Buddhism koan is a great example to illustrate the burden of our minds.

Two monks were at a river crossing when they saw a young lady standing helplessly by the broken bridge, unable to get across. She requested the monks for help, and the younger monk refused outright. The elder monk kneeled down and carried the young woman across the river on his back, and the two monks went on their way back to the monastery.

A few days later, the young monk reproached the elder monk for his act which was unbecoming of a monk, and that he shouldn't have carried the woman on his back. The elder monk laughed, "I carried the woman across the river because she needed help, and I left her at the other bank of the river. Why are you still carrying her in your mind?"

Sunday, 17 May 2009

The tiger and the cat

This is an ancient fable about passing on knowledge to others with dubious morality...

When the world was made, cats roamed the earth for thousands of years. Tigers were created very much later, and when the first tiger cub was born, he was helpless as he could not hunt or fend for himself. Weak with hunger, the tiger cub begged the cat to teach him the life skills to survive in the world.

Taking pity on the tiger, the cat agreed to teach him how to hunt and evade detection. Everyday the cat would teach the tiger how to stalk the prey, lie in the downwind and conceal his outline. The tiger was a fast learner, and soon he became as good as his teacher. Other animals called him the lord of the jungle, and he was mightily pleased.

One day, the tiger thought to himself "why should I continue to listen to the cat when I'm the lord of the jungle? I've no more use for him, and I should eat him as a reward for my immense skills!" The tiger found the cat lazing by the edge of the forest, and he pounced towards the cat in a mighty leap!

The cat raced out of the tiger's reach and made a beeline for the trees and scrambled up to the branches. The tiger screeched to a halt at the bottom of the tree and glared at the cat, "you didn't teach me about climbing trees!" he growled at the cat.

"Fine thing I didn't," said the cat. "Or I'd be dead by now."

Moral of the story: be careful who you impart your knowledge to, and keep an exit strategy for yourself.

Monday, 11 May 2009

The best advice ever - wear sunscreen

We often get emails with articles or stories of inspiration, which leaves us with good feelings in life - for all of five minutes, until we receive a nasty email from someone else and it's back to office politics again. However, sometimes we do come across gems of wisdom that may prove to be life-changing (so something along that line).

When I first heard about this song "Everybody's free to wear sunscreen", I was immediately struck by the lyrics and the obvious truths it held. It didn't change my life, but it did change my perception of life. In just a few paragraphs, the lyrics captured very much the essence of what it means to live a fruitful life, especially for those of us who have experienced enough in life to understand the lyrics, and probably have enough years left in us to benefit from understanding the lyrics.

Contrary to what many people believed, this song did not originate as a graduation class speech. It was originally written by a journalist Mary Schmich in 1997 for the Chicago Tribune, and subsequently turned into a song by director Buz Luhrmann. The "Sunscreen Song" became extremely popular, and for those of you who've not heard it, do pay particular attention to the lyrics.

P.S: The MTV looks really dated because it is!

We often get emails with articles or stories of inspiration, which leaves us with good feelings in life - for all of five minutes, until we receive a nasty email from someone else and it's back to office politics again. However, sometimes we do come across gems of wisdom that may prove to be life-changing (so something along that line).

When I first heard about this song "Everybody's free to wear sunscreen", I was immediately struck by the lyrics and the obvious truths it held. It didn't change my life, but it did change my perception of life. In just a few paragraphs, the lyrics captured very much the essence of what it means to live a fruitful life, especially for those of us who have experienced enough in life to understand the lyrics, and probably have enough years left in us to benefit from understanding the lyrics.

Contrary to what many people believed, this song did not originate as a graduation class speech. It was originally written by a journalist Mary Schmich in 1997 for the Chicago Tribune, and subsequently turned into a song by director Buz Luhrmann. The "Sunscreen Song" became extremely popular, and for those of you who've not heard it, do pay particular attention to the lyrics.

P.S: The MTV looks really dated because it is!

Ladies and Gentlemen of the class of ’99

If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be 
The long term benefits of sunscreen have been proved by 
scientists whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable 
than my own meandering 
experience…I will dispense this advice now.

Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth; oh nevermind; you will not 
understand the power and beauty of your youth until they have faded. 
But trust me, in 20 years you’ll look back at photos of yourself and 
recall in a way you can’t grasp now how much possibility lay before 
you and how fabulous you really looked….You’re not as fat as you 

Don’t worry about the future; or worry, but know that worrying is as 
effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing 
bubblegum. The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that 
never crossed your worried mind; the kind that blindside you at 4pm 
on some idle Tuesday.

Do one thing everyday that scares you.


Don’t be reckless with other people’s hearts, don’t put up with 
people who are reckless with yours.


Don’t waste your time on jealousy; sometimes you’re ahead, sometimes 
you’re behind…the race is long, and in the end, it’s only with 
Remember the compliments you receive, forget the insults; if you 
succeed in doing this, tell me how.

Keep your old love letters, throw away your old bank statements.


Don’t feel guilty if you don’t know what you want to do with your 
life…the most interesting people I know didn’t know at 22 what they 
wanted to do with their lives, some of the most interesting 40 year 
olds I know still don’t.

Get plenty of calcium. Be kind to your knees, you’ll miss them when they’re gone.
Maybe you’ll marry, maybe you won’t, maybe you’ll have children,maybe 
you won’t, maybe you’ll divorce at 40, maybe you’ll dance the funky 
chicken on your 75th wedding anniversary…what ever you do, don’t 
congratulate yourself too much or berate yourself either – your 
choices are half chance, so are everybody else’s. Enjoy your body, 
use it every way you can…don’t be afraid of it, or what other people 
think of it, it’s the greatest instrument you’ll ever 

Dance… even if you have nowhere to do it but in your own living room.
Read the directions, even if you don’t follow them.
Do NOT read beauty magazines, they will only make you feel ugly.
Get to know your parents, you never know when they’ll be gone for 
Be nice to your siblings; they are the best link to your past and the 
people most likely to stick with you in the future.

Understand that friends come and go,but for the precious few you 
should hold on. Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography and 
lifestyle because the older you get, the more you need the people you 
knew when you were young.

Live in New York City once, but leave before it makes you hard; live 
in Northern California once, but leave before it makes you soft.


Accept certain inalienable truths, prices will rise, politicians will 
philander, you too will get old, and when you do you’ll fantasize 
that when you were young prices were reasonable, politicians were 
noble and children respected their elders.

Respect your elders.

Don’t expect anyone else to support you. Maybe you have a trust fund, 
maybe you have a wealthy spouse; but you never know when either one 
might run out.

Don’t mess too much with your hair, or by the time you're 40, it will 
look 85.
Be careful whose advice you buy, but, be patient with those who 
supply it. Advice is a form of nostalgia, dispensing it is a way of 
fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the 
ugly parts and recycling it for more than 
it’s worth.

But trust me on the sunscreen…

Sunday, 10 May 2009

The importance of observation

Once in ancient Thailand, the King led his Ministers on a hunt for deers. They passed by a small village and the King decided to stop by for a visit. The villagers welcomed the King and his entourage with great warmth as they passed through. The pompousness and the grandeur of the entourage contrasted greatly with the humble nature of the village, with the royal hunting party decked out in the finest of silk and gold. One of the villagers was offended by this disparity and made a disparaging comment, which the King overheard. He called for the villager to be brought forth...

"I heard you are displeased with the fine clothes and food that my ministers are having," the King said. "Your Majesty, we are all human beings. Why should some be treated so much better than the rest?" the villager asked.

The King did not say anything more, but he asked the villager to go ahead of the hunting party and come back with what he saw. The villager soon returned, and the King sent forth one of his Ministers with the same task.

While the Minister was gone, the King asked the villager, "What did you see?" The villager replied, "There's nothing there, just some wild dogs."

"How many dogs are there? Tell me more about the dogs." the King asked.

"Well... I did not really count, but there are probably eight to ten dogs. Some are puppies and they are just playing around in the woods," the villager said.

The Minster returned and the King asked him the same question.

"There are eleven dogs in the pack, out of which four are females, three are males, and the other four are puppies around one year old. They are brown with short-fur, do not seem to belong to any pedigree species, and are probably mongrel breed. The dogs were abandoned by some villagers who moved out, and an old lady living nearby has been feeding them. One of the female dogs look pregnant, so the group population is likely to increase by the end of this month. The old lady did say the dogs usually keep to themselves, and do not pose any danger to the children playing nearby."

The King turned to the villager and said, "the rule of the land requires the best people to serve, and the ministers that I choose are incredibly perceptive and analytical. While many people see only the superficial issues, great men go above and beyond to see the circumstances and repercussions. While we are all human beings, our responsibilities vary greatly and this is reflected in their standings in society."

The powers of observation and analysis go beyond this ancient tale, and they are more relevant in today's society than ever. Where others see obstacles, the most perceptive and talented individuals see opportunities. As Einstein is often quoted, "there is opportunity in every difficulty". In your daily life, observe what is happening around you and dig deeper into your analysis of why things happen in certain ways, or why people behave the way they do. Gain precious insights of the world around you. People like politicians, businessmen and marketeers will kill to gain insights on how people behave, but it is something that you cannot glean from textbooks. Question everything, assume nothing. Keep your eyes open, and your mind even more open.

Friday, 8 May 2009

The charm of Leica rangefinder cameras

I love digital photography for the convenience and "cleaniness" of the photos. The images are always clean and sharp, which makes it easy for digital manipulation. And because I do not have to pay for the film, processing and printing, I do not feel the pinch of every time I shoot (after I forget the price of the DSLR).

But like the LP lovers who find a place for vinyl in the world of CDs, I find myself turning back to film ever once in a while. Film is therapeutic for some of us, when we load in a cartridge and pull the glossy brown film leader across the film gate. I still get anxious over the results, and I still get a thrill when I open the envelope of photos at the lab counter. Film is glorious in its own way.

Given that film photography is a return to the nostelgic world for me, my choice of camera must match the mood and manner as well. Which is why I love the Leica film-based rangefinder cameras. These are extremely sturdy and well-built cameras of Teutonic designs, which you will feel immediately in your hands. The heft of well-sculpted metal that sits right in your palm, with buttery smooth operations and clear bright rangefinder that opens up a window to the world. The feeling of winding to the next frame on a Leica M camera is heavenly.

Part of the charm of a Leica M film camera lies in the fact that every camera is handmade by craftsmen, who manually assemble and fine-tune each camera, just like a fine mechanical watch like a Lange or Patek. Vorsprung durch technique is definitely not the philosophy of this German company, since the technology in today's Leica film cameras is probably only equal to Japanese cameras of the 70s or 80s. But the built quality of Leica film cameras is unmatched, and here's a behind-the-scene look at how each Leica camera is built:

I leave you with a funny quote I read about digital photography:

"Digital is like shaved legs on a man - very smooth and clean but there is something acutely disconcerting about it."

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Canon EOS 500D: Class-leading Performance!

I was at the Botanical Gardens a couple of weeks ago to try out the new Canon EOS 500D, and I must say the results are stunning. For a camera that costs slightly more than 1k, this camera deliver a lot of bang for the buck. For starters, it has a 15MP sensor and records Full HD videos, something which no other camera in its class can deliver. I also like the compactness and lightweight of the EOS 500D, which makes it the perfect camera for outings and travel.

Check out some of the photos I took at the Botanical Gardens with the EOS 500D and the kit lens...

My photos


Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Get bitten by the serpent!

If you have $120k to spend on a car, would you opt for the Teutonic-inspired Mercedes Benz C180, the driving machine in the guise of a BMW 320i, or the lean-mean technological machine Audi A4?

These are the traditional choices of the young and successful yuppies, focusing on the badge to show that they've arrived. Which is funny though... if they've arrived, where are they supposed to be heading towards after they have "arrived"? Throw your car keys casually on the table during your reunion with your classmates, and they know instantly that you are successful in your career and you are one of the herd who heads towards the premier marques' showrooms once you have achieved something. That used to be true for an executive continental saloon car, because you only have three sensible choices (trust me, you wouldn't want to be caught in a Citroen C5 because everyone will be wondering why you bought a "corporal" brand car when you could have gotten a "star").

Now the universe has changed with the introduction of the Alfa Romeo 159 1750 TBi. Alfa Romeo (pronounced ro-may-o, not Romeo as in the love story) has one of the richest heritage in automobile history. Unfortunately somewhere along the way, Alfa lost their direction and churned out great sports cars which were great when they worked. Their unreliability became as legendary as their driving prowess, and as Jeremy Clarkson put it "Alfas depreciate as fast as they accelerate". But these were still true-blue sports cars, which prompted Clarkson to claim that you are not a petrolhead unless you have owned an Alfa. That's pretty strong endorsement for Alfa Romeo from the man himself.

So recently, Alfa Romeo got its act together, and began producing cars that not just look gorgeous, but they actually work. The new age of Alfa began a few years ago with the Alfa Romeo 159, an executive saloon which makes the competition look like they have been styled with a sledge hammer. The strong sexy curves and delectable triple headlamps make you want to drool all over the car. Nobody can design cars like the Italians can, and the strong emotive styling continues inside the car with some really strong racy elements centred towards the driver. Everything about the Alfa Romeo 159 is perfect...

Well... almost. You see... in a bid to build a better car, Alfa went overboard with its engineering and made a overweight car. Everything works like they ought to in this car, but the car was slightly sluggish with the excess weight. Mind you... it feels sluggish only because we can comparing to the great Alfas of the good old days (those rust buckets!), but they deliver pretty decent performance against the Mercedes C180 or BMW 320i. So what they have now is a sexy looking number without the soul and passion of an Alfa Romeo.

Other than the weight, there were a couple of other issues. The engine was not inspiring like the old Alfas, which compounded the problem with the heavy body. The 159 was styled by the great Giugiaro, so now Alfa needs to make the 159 as fast as it looks. And it does look fast!

Fast forward to 2009... Alfa announces the arrival of the new Alfa Romeo 159 1750 TBi. With a new turbo charged direct fuel-injection 1.75 litres engine, the new 159 delivers a sparkling performance of 7.7 seconds for the century-sprint, and it develops 200bhp (4750-5500rpm) and 320Nm from just 1400rpm! That is phenomenal - imagine pulling away from the traffic at the lights or overtaking in the city traffic!

To make it perfect, the new 159 is rumoured to have a dual-clutch motorized gearshift like the DSG, to deliver power and convenience (but worrying bout jerkiness for newcomers to Alfa). Detractors will wince at not having a manual gearbox, but hey... Alfa developed a modern turbo petrol engine. Nothing is sacred anymore... Alfa needs to get more market share to thrive, so you can get your new Alfa GT the way you want it!

So if you are in the market for ane executive saloon, take a good hard look at the new Alfa Romeo 159 1750 TBi, and take it for a test spin. With competitive pricing and a good reliability trackrecord, owning an Alfa Romeo is not the unthinkable thing it was. Why arrive with the rest when you can lead the pack?

Designers... make it work!

If you are a fan of Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn, do not read this post. You have been warned.

If you are a fan of the Project Runway reality TV show, be sure to watch the following video clip on Youtube. The first time I watched it, I nearly cried from the laughter. It is hilarious! One thing is for sure... you will never see Project Runway the same way again.


Are you AWARE of the implications?

Unless you were living under a rock for the past month, you would have heard about the AWARE saga. For the sake of the earthworms who did live under a rock for the past month, here's a short summary. The old Exco was unceremoniously booted out of the woman rights' association by a sudden turnout of new members who voted their own compatriots in. The mysterious newcomers were silent on their stand or viewpoint on feminist issues, and drew public speculation on their intentions for pulling such a coup.

It later emerged that the new group came from the same church, who had strong anti-homosexual opinions. They alleged that the old Exco condoned homosexuality instead of branding it as a negative trait, which promoted their coup to set up a new establishment. When contacted by the press, the church initially denied having any involvement in this coup, but the pastor later admitted to using the pulpit to encourage the congregation to support the new exco by joining AWARE to vote out the old guards and establish a new anti-homosexual order. And even more recently, it emerged that the previous dean of the law faculty Dr. Thio (a self-professed anti-homosexual "feminist") was masterminding the coup. And Dr Thio even claimed that the founding members of AWARE were her friends, a fact she was unable to substantiate when confronted by the founding members.

So exactly what is wrong with this debacle? Plenty. First of all, the coup was done in a legal way (certainly since they had a ex-lecturer of law on their side). But was it morally upright to stage a coup like this? There was no open disagreement with the old Exco prior to this, and the newcomers did not openly declare their agenda nor intentions. More importantly, the new Exco represented their church - an institution of high moral standings. Pulling off a coup like this reeks of sneakiness, hardly behaviour expected from people with supposedly high moral values. Not only did they oust the old Exco, the new Exco took pains to conceal their background (of being from the same church) and the pastor vehemantly denied instigating the church goers of being involved in the saga, until further investigations prompted him to admit otherwise. Such actions does not bode well for the individuals of supposedly high moral values.

They may truly believe in their moral stands and values against homosexuality, but to pull off a stunt in such a morally depicable fashion goes against every strand of morality. This puts the new Exco and the pastor at a poor moral position to preach about their religious beliefs. How can the public trust them to instill the right moral values of life when their behaviour is not exactly righteous to begin with? Decit and outright lies are the stuff of TV drama, hardly something one wants to associate with a church.

Secondly, and more importantly, the church serves as a vessel for moral beliefs and practices, not secular associations and groups such as AWARE. By hijacking the woman's association, the members were already guilty of overstepping their boundaries in propagating their beliefs. AWARE is an association to fight for the rights of ALL women, regardless of their sexuality and orientation. Will the new Exco fight the rights of a lesbian who has been abused or discriminated? Given their tough homosexual stance, it is highly unlikely - even though the victim certainly qualifies as a woman. This already puts them in a position that is contradictory to the goals of AWARE.

Take this example (of a secular group infiltrating a non-secular group to promote their beliefs) further, and we can soon imagine other scenarios if this was allowed to happen. Maybe some Buddhists groups may hijack the association of beef sellers to block the sales of beef, because they believe consumption of beef is evil. How about vegetarians taking over the pork seller assocation? Can we allow this precedence of AWARE to take place unchallenged?

Fortunately the civil society in Singapore is well and alive. The membership of AWARE multiplied ten fold to 3000 members in just a month, with concerned Singaporeans swarming the group to challenge the morality and legitimacy of the takeover. During the EOGM, the new EXCO was voted out with a vote of no confidence, and a new leadership was installed. This amazing show of civil participation is reassuring and impressive, and puts to rest any more notion that Singaporeans are indifferent to civil matters. We are beginning to see the stir of passion in Singaporeans to fight for what they truly believe in. Majulah!

Monday, 4 May 2009

Welcome to Hell...

Hell's Kitchen, that is. Hell's Kitchen is a reality TV Show about small time chefs vying to become the chef of one of Gordon Ramsay's new restaurants. Now in case you don't know who Gordon Ramsay is, google him online. That's right... the bad-ass devil-tempered chef is one of the top 3 chefs in the world, and he has been awarded... count this... 16 freakin' Michelin stars. When you realize how hard chefs around the world strive to get that one coveted star, you'd realize what a big deal it is to have 16 stars.

Of course, having 16 Michelin stars on your shoulders gives you higher authority than any US general, so that automatically grants you the right to cuss and swear at the mere mortals on the show. And Gordon Ramsay did it like no one else can, which is why he earns another star as the King of the F-word. I never knew anyone else who can make the F-word sound better in the British accent than Ramsay.

Oooh... you don't know what I'm talking about, do you? Of course you don't, not if you're watching terrestial television from Mediacorp. That's right... all the nice bits have been *beeped* out for the docile audience in Singapore. My friend sent me the YouTube link to the uncensored version of Hell's Kitchen. What an eye-opener... this show is freaking cool! See it for yourself at:

Welcome to Hell's Kitchen!

There're a lot of people who'd disaggree with Gordon Ramsay's vulgar verbal abuse of the contestants. But seriously, if you had to run a kitchen with some of those jokers, you would swear at them the same way too. I know I will... once I get my crummy hands on those Michelin stars!


In the beginning, there was a blog. Nelson said,"let there be text". And there was text, and it was very good.