Monday, February 28, 2005

Frog Boiled Alive

You do know what happens when you boil a live frog, don't you?

Knocking off, I managed to catch a lift home and had a curious conversation about career planning, organizational structure, global economics and life in the public service.

Never mind that my new balding acquaintance readily introduced himself as "strange" and began on a spiel of his career bloopers over the past decade or so.

To cut the story short, his take is that wealth will increase globally but wealth distribution will not improve - the richer get richer while middle classers like me will only have to slog harder.

He likened staying in the civil service to an island surrounded by rising waters and people scrambling to prove their strategic value to remain on the island. Kinda sounds like Survivor meets the Apprentice.

His take? Learn to swim. Even better, go swim in China or India.

Friday, February 25, 2005

I Love the Way You Look

Quote of the day: You look like you are from Mindef

Thankfully that remark wasn't directed at me, though the recipient didn't catch it till I repeated it with a chuckle.

Retort: 7 months is enough to get that comment coming

Attended the Spring-organized conference "Best Practices in Customer Service" today. Held at Meritus Mandarin, food and service were expectedly great. Attendance was overwhelming, there must have been 500 people present. But not surprising, given Singapore's positioning as a service hub.

Among the lessons learnt, I've realized that it ain't easy to be a customer service officer (CSO), regardless of which industry you're in, be it F&B, hoteling, healthcare, banking, tourism etc.

As one speaker surmised, customers have unlimited expectations but we have limited resources.

A major thread that ran across the discussions was the concern about motivating and training service staff. Considering how service staff need to be all of immensely knowledgeable about products & services, adeptly skillful, puffed up with pride, and displaying a professional AND amiable AND patient attitude, I think I really look at CSO's in a different light now.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Natalie Dee


Wednesday, February 23, 2005


Apologies to my fans *wave wave* for the lack of entries over the past week. Have been busy - attended a course on Business Continuity Management over 2 days & attending a Revival Conference over 3 nights. And generally not much inspiration.

Quote of the day: "You are what you eat... & read & think & say"

Friday, February 18, 2005

Today: Mr Brown's Fri Column

Life is getting scary, Mummy ...

An amusing take on the kiasu & kiasee S'porean.

Thursday, February 17, 2005


Leaving the office late, I walk out through the cold & quiet lobby.

The sky's darkening, the road's quiet.

A feeling of calm tiredness remains.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005


Monday, February 14, 2005

V Day: D Day or The Day

Twice last week people's questions about my plans for monday drew a blank look.

"Eh... what's happening on monday?"

That's right, I'm single... and proud of it.

Today, I snorted and flicked my nose to every sms of heartfelt Valentine's Day greetings.

"Nuttin 2 celebr8."

What's so special about V day anyway?

The hopeless romantics say it's a day to proclaim one's love through the extravagant shower of intense affection.

*cue television ad*

Flowers, diamond necklace, lingerie, chocolates, dinner at Top of the M: $$$$$++++

Electric moment when eyes lock: Priceless

For everything else, there's .

The utter pragmatists (usually male, sometimes balding) protest against the wanton commercialization where florists, chocolater makers, jewellers and restaurateurs alike benefit from the simple rule of Economics 101 - Supply & Demand.

Yes, women demand.

Coyly, of course. Some will even reject it outright, yet secretly yearn for that bouquet of roses.

Beware, for hell hath no fury like a woman's scorn.

What else can men do but to hope that a greater reward is waiting at the end of the evening - usually a misguided thought that leaves him high and dry.

Hence the expensive wine.

Oh, don't forget, the bigger the bouquet, the more intense the jealousy aroused in colleagues.

Make sure you get it up to her office first thing in the morning.

So size does matter. Period.

Received this in the mail today: Certified Penetration Testing Professional.

Turns out this adult-oriented title is actually a course on computer hacking. But I'm sure our ladies could do with some reprogramming.

On this very same day, the sad singletons hang out and christen it Friendship Day.

Yup, who better to mourn your failures in one relationship after another than fellow failures?

WHAT?! Never been kissed?? I feel better now.

Remember V the TV series? The one where reptilian aliens disguised as humans invade earth and try to take over the world. When confronted, they shed their human skins to reveal their hideous green selves beneath.

Kinda sounds like marriage.

Happy Valentine's Day. Enjoy it while it lasts.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

What Roots?

painting by Xue Jiye

Today's ST ran the articles of 4 Singaporeans each defining their own Chinese identity:Incidentally, I recently wondered if my grandfather would appreciate a visit to his hometown in Shantou, China. After all, there's so much of my roots that I do not know. I also wonder how much of his hometown would he actually recognize, having been away for more than half a century.

When I visited my mom's eldest brother, there was a sepia-toned picture of my grandfather, his siblings and some sworn brothers. Posing with expressionless faces, they were all decked in Western-style suits with hair slicked back. My cousin then pointed out that the "gold" accessories they had on them were all painted on. And on closer look, the crude image-editing became apparent.

But knowing my roots wouldn't make me feel more chinese, would it? Or more Singaporean, for that matter. I definitely see myself as Singaporean, albeit a shallow sense of identity meshed with Singapore's brief history.

What then defines our roots for us? Is it tradition, customs or patois? If yes, then my roots are getting eroded pretty fast.

On the topic of living with parents, a friend commented wistfully that most young Singaporeans long for the day they can stretch their wings and flap off to their own nests (HDB or otherwise) in a proud manifestation of their independence.

In a different conversation about a coming house warming, another friend also voiced his desire to get his own apartment. "Isn't it a curse to be Asian?" he remarked.

Perhaps they, having seen how our Western counterparts are booted out of their homes the moment they turn 18, are more liberalized than I am. But it sounds like a fairly presumptuous to me to state that young Singaporeans value independence more than family.

For one, I love my family and see it as my obligation to look after my parents as they age and to continue to spend time with them after I get married. I've no statistics to prove my point but I would think that for the same reason I've stated, a fair number of young Singaporeans prefer to continue living with their parents.

Ah yes, I also hear the cynics out there pointing out the economics and conveniences of living with your parents. Honestly, that's not among my main considerations but it's definitely a pull factor.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Moving On

Accenture Paper - "Infrastructure: Consolidate, Standardize, Streamline"

You know you're definitely moving on when you're searching NLB's catalogue for books on IT infrastructure, IT service delivery and IT management.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Wanna Be

I recently decided to take up the guitar.

So it's me, guitar and a LIY book.

Actually I did take up the guitar before.

That was in sec 1 under Edward Choo the facially-inexpressive art teacher till he cracked the joke about the G string.

Ha ha.

Ok, I crack that joke too.

Inspired by my fave singers, esp. the folk ones.

Let's see, Natalie Merchant, Damien Rice, Jason Mraz, Joni Mitchell...

Once I was at Somerset's Jazz Bar @ Raffles City and a bluesey band was playing. It was a quiet weekday night so he decided to play on the acoustic guitar.

I was mesmerized.

So there.

Besides, the guitar is way quieter than the horn so I shouldn't suffer much persecution at home.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Damien Rice, Irish Songwriter

Doesn't reflect my state of mind, just think it's a haunting song.

the blower's daughter

and so it is
just like you said it would be
life goes easy on me
most of the time
and so it is
the shorter story
no love no glory
no hero in her skies
i can't take my eyes off of you
and so it is
just like you said it should be
we'll both forget the breeze
most of the time
and so it is
the colder water
the blower's daughter
the pupil in denial
i can't take my eyes off of you
did I say that I loathe you?
did I say that I want to
leave it all behind?
i can't take my mind off of you
my mind
'til I find somebody new

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Reunion Blues?! No Way!!

As per Chinese tradition on CNY eve, my extended family of 3 generations on my paternal side gathers at my grandparents for our reunion lunch. We also take the occasion to celebrate my grandmother's birthday - this year she's 78 and I thank God for her good health! :)

Interestingly, I'd just found out from my mom that back then most people lacked calendars so they didn't know their exact birthdays except for the year that they were born in, unless their birthdays coincided with landmark occasions like my grandmother's with CNY eve.

This year's attendance was 14 adults and 9 children (thankfully grown up beyond the ultra noisy phase of endless screaming and running into walls).

And so, without fail, annually we tuck into regular steamboat fare and, recently added to the menu, red wine which also brought much red-faced mirth and mutual teasing about drinking limits.

I used to be awfully quiet at such gatherings because everyone's speaking in Teochew. At least this year I had a 5min conversation with my grandma - in Teochew!

And I found out that her sewing machine that I used to imagine was my war-torn battle fort for my Transfomers toys is actually 22 years older than I am. My grandparents had bought it for $264 in the 1950's and it became a source of income by making school uniforms.

Without fail, we also bring out the birthday cake and take an extended family photo when the same uncle has to set the camera on auto and to the children's excitement and glee, scramble back into the picture. Before the kids grew up, someone had to attract the infants' attention and hopefully solicit a cheerful smile.

After the mass photo, each family then take turns for a Kodak moment with my grandparents. Watching my uncles and aunts organize varying configurations and shouting for the missing members to quickly take up positions amused me to no end. More than that, I'm so glad to be a part of this big fat happy family.

There was the usual bantering, updating each other on the past year's activities (boasting for some), comparing children's growth spurts or performance in school, reminiscing old times etc. The living room was kept abuzz with chatter and the frequent piercing of children's laughter for the entire afternoon.

And then I remember PM Lee stressing family ties. Simply because these are ties that bind and they cannot be broken. These ties are ultimately what's important in life.

Happy reunion.

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Know Thy Backyard


Against all rational thought and shedding all semblance of sanity, I visited Chinatown last night and spent the evening rubbing shoulders with fellow Singaporeans, buzzing in anticipation of Chinese New Year which is due in 3 days.

Actually the real reason was that I thought I would play the kind tour guide to a Canadian friend. Unfortunately the phrase "I'm ashamed to call myself Singaporean" was uttered or at least flashed in my mind more than once.

So there we were, 1 Canadian and 4 Singaporeans, one of whom hasn't been to Chinatown in 6 years and hasn't even been on the NEL. Granted he did spend 4 years studying in the UK but I didn't even know the street names (directing people on the phone turned out to be quite futile).

Thankfully I was able to educate with what little knowledge of Chinese customs I did have, such as the significance behind the colour red, pineapples and spirally bamboo sticks.

At times the crowd was so thick, we found ourselves stagnating in a pool of thick air and sweaty bodies, but I genuinely enjoyed the evening of endless sights, smells and sounds - all familiar and homely though I couldn't make sense of some.

After milling down two streets, I plainly declared that we had seen pretty much everything there is to see. But today's Sunday Times ran an article with the tagline "Think you've seen it all in Chinatown? Think again. Some sights will surprise you." Yes, there really are a few sights which we'd missed.

I've realized that I and many others are quick to dismiss our traditions and customs, without even trying to appreciate them first - ironically some even lament our brief history.

On a separate matter, my dear mother has taken it upon herself to make pineapple tarts. As proud as I am of her culinary escapades, I'm quite amused to report that batch #1 have turned out as pineapple cookies rather than tarts. Go figure.

Gong xi fa cai.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Of Flies & Bees

Everyday is a day of learning.

A curious phrase appeared in a document being discussed: luring flies with honey.

"Shouldn't it be luring bees?" I objected.

My manager offered, "you can do the same with shit, you know?"

The ensuing guffawing nearly had us tearing.

Over lunch, my colleagues voiced their common gripes about a particular government agency.

Gahmen bashing, I term it, and it seems quite fashionable.

Anecdotes and complaints offered lots of insights...

Eh, into what? I still gotta figure all these out.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Babes on Ice

Went Ice-Skating at Jurong East yesterday. 2nd time I'm there in my lifetime.

Wasn't as crowded as I thought it would be and somehow the rink felt much bigger than I'd remembered it.

Loved it. The lack of friction makes for such easy movements - with a shift of my body weight, I can do spins and twirls and cart-wheels.

Yeah right.

Saw some young girls practising their figure skating moves. Was absolutely amazing, the graceful movements and more so, their persistence in refining each move.

So why Babes on Ice? Because I was there with 3 other gals :)