Saturday, September 14, 2013

Singapore

So, I was back in Singapore to attend friend's wedding, but I also want to go around and see what has changed in a year since I left it.

Out I go to visit my old haunts; The Botanic Garden is one of my favorites, where people seem to have life. Where they have enjoyable talk with friends, lover, or their dog, while appreciating nature... or so I thought. The reality is, at this rate, not much private space left for an individual. A lot of foreign workers are sprawling across the place. Quite understandable really, given that they have no other means of entertainment. But still, its quite annoying when you want to take photo, a lot of people is in the way. I spot a couple photo ops, few wedding photoshoot, among other things.

For a while, Singaporeans have deemed their fellow countrymen as not creative. Without a quiet place to think, its not that surprising. That's why I look for quaint, sometimes rustic caf├ęs to read and ponder. But at $15 for a latte and a slice of cake, I'm afraid I'd soon be broke before even producing a substantial work. Some of the nice place to relax is Tiong Bahru Bakery in Raffles City, but get there before lunch hour, preferable from 10-11 am.

What is disturbing is the fact that even in a vacation, I find myself quite busy. I'm not sure what was the cause. Inadequate public transportation, or just lousy planning on my side? But I did wait an hour for a bus when half the island was flooded. And lets not forget its raining the whole time I was there. That made me think that I took the right decision to leave. Is this modern day lifestyle, which must be paid in hefty sum, worth it?

But its not all in vain, I did get a few good photos, discover interesting places, and experience a unique wedding procession. I found some old trading companies still doing business in the middle of the modern city state, along Hong Kong St road. They still trade spices, grains, and a bunch of other things, run by middle aged people.


Another area of interest is Mohamed Sultan Road, the place is teeming with cafes and restaurants. I did try a few places, but like I said above, I couldn't afford it too often. After all, its in the posh area of the city, surrounded by high class private apartments. But there is a small Thai restaurant which name I can't remember now (sorry!). For $8, you can get an olive fried rice, with fish cakes and tom yam soup. You won't be disappointed. 

Sunday, June 02, 2013

Watch Value

Some narrow minded professor made a comment about automatic watches. I love how Watch Snob's response to his article (although I admit the name does not reflect a good impression *cough*).

But lets take another look from a different point of view. The average monthly wage in Switzerland after tax was 4948 CHF (2011). With gross salary about 6000 Swiss francs and a low end automatic watch costing 2000 francs. I would estimate an average employee need to produce 7 to 8 piece per month for the maker to break even and make small profit, if you account for the overhead like factory building, machines, etc. Now.. depending on the automation level of the production process, some watchmaker like Rolex can produce up to 30 watches per month per employee, so if you buy a Rolex, yeah.. you are conned. But for other watches which requires high level of finish and polishing for the dial, its less. Some boutique manufacturer also build their own movement, which can take even longer (and more expensive) to finish a watch.

In contrast, a quartz watch production can probably utilize full automation. Plus circuit boards and battery  produce hazardous chemicals as by product. I think all the important points has been mentioned by Snob. But for me its down to whether you want to pay for machines (and its owners) which churns out cheap, ugly watches. Or pay real artisans for their skill.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Well.. I'm supposed to be working today. Instead I work on other things.. oh.. wait.. that mean I have worked. In fact, I'm quite productive today.. mopping the floor and cleaning the toilet. Anyway.. I want to write something while I still remember it.

The rise of charismatic Christian irks me a lot. I'd say ninety percent of them preached about blessing and prosperity. My problem with that is that it focus on receiving, and often becoming the sole purpose of people coming to church. Plus.. all other verses are ignored or left unexplained.
I quote a comment from one of the prominent contemporary charismatic pastor:
"You can be a businessman here in St. Louis, and people think the more you have, the more wonderful it is...but if you’re a preacher, then all of a sudden it becomes a problem."
Helloo?! The problem is precisely because you are a preacher. What happened to "sell your possession and give the money to the poor" ? There are some people who wants little change in their life when they become Christians, with an exception of being richer because of all those blessings that God pour on them abundantly and freely.

Last Sunday, the message preached from my church pulpit coincidentally touch on the same verse. Its about a rich young ruler, some commentary state the possibility that he was a ruler of a synagogue. We can see the parallel here. A religious leader who was rich, and have followed every legal requirement of the Torah. The only problem he had was that money as his idol.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Star Trek

About fifteen years ago, I watched Star Trek every day after school. I always amused as the crews working on touch panels in the twenty fifth century. But just in a decade, iPads are ubiquitous, and it is as natural as everything else for some toddlers. Now wearables such as Google glass is coming. I wonder what the future might bring in ten or twenty years.

Death

Yesterday my long time neighbor died. I used to play to their house when I was still in primary school.. that was more than 20 years ago. From what I heard, her death was caused by illness. What saddened me is that she died alone.. not one of her children was present. Where one can find filial piety in this day and age?

I also remember a few years ago, a man who lived nearby also died. He worked as a tyre inflator on the streets. He died at night on a rickshaw. What makes me remember that night is that just the day before, I was going to give the poor guy extra food that I got from my friend's birthday party.

Well.. such is life.. rest in peace, neighbor

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Batman

At night, when I lie down in bed, trying to sleep, my mind will be full of creative imagination and wonderful ideas. Whether its work related, life inspiration, or whatever. It seems like it work best when I try to think of nothing. Or perhaps its the quietness of the night.

Or maybe I should be Batman... but then I'll have to hit the gym..

Monday, January 28, 2013

Coffee

After resettling in my hometown, I get to know my distant nephew whom I recently met. Well..  I might have met him in the past, but just forgot. The fact is, I've been away from here for the past seven years, and so did he. Alright, that sounds as a valid excuse :)
Anyway, I'm just five years older than him. Now, my nephew is into coffee, drinking, roasting, grinding, the whole nine yards. Me, I just drink it. I couldn't tell the difference between a good coffee and a superb one, just like with wine. For me, what makes the difference is the whole experience of drinking it. You got to have a good reading material, and nice bread/pastries to go with it. I wouldn't mind music or radio in the background (my current favorite is BBC London).

Roasted coffee beans

Grinder

Slightly coarse grind
I've been looking for a decent (read: inexpensive) French press. I'm not going to pay more than 30 bucks for a French press. My excuse is.. so I can get a decent tasting coffee without burning a hole in my wallet. My standard does not include the regular freeze dried (instant) coffee from Nescafe. It just tastes sucks.
Premium brands taste better, but they costs a lot, compared to ground coffee. 
What I don't like about ground coffee is the coffee residue. That is why I need a French press. The other method is to use coffee drip, but its hard to find the filter here. So I settled with the press for the moment.

Update : Finally.. got it. And thank God the resulting brew is good.

Freedom press in action
(*okay that's a bit lame)