Saturday, December 31, 2011

Wrapping up 2011...

Most everyone I know laughs off the Mayan prediction that the world ends in 2012, hence the "Mayan cartoon" I posted here yesterday. We better be right on this one!

But the Mexican ambassador seemed quite serious when he wrote to both TODAY and ST (both appeared 31 Dec), to argue that people have got it all wrong, and to set the record right. Here's the TODAY version, which is basically similar to ST's:

Not doomsday but transformation
Ancient Mayans predicted Dec 23, 2012, would mark start of a new, better cycle for humanity...
Letter from Antonio Villegas, Mexican Ambassador to Singapore

I refer to William Pesek's commentary, "2012: Fear recoupling, not end of the world" (Dec 29).

Mr Pesek wrongly attributes to the ancient Mayas of Mexico the prediction that the world would end in 2012.

To set the record straight and for the benefit of your readers, I would like to note that, according to authorised scholars on the subject, the ancient Mayans, great architects, mathematicians and astronomers, predicted in the 6th century AD not the end of the world on Dec 23, 2012, but the end of the 13th cycle "b'ak'tun" of the Mayan calendar, and the beginning of a new cycle in which the Cosmos would regenerate.

That means that, far from the end of the world, according to the Mayans, the world in 2012 will face a major transformation, which is in essence the gist of Mr Pesek's and other world analysts' appreciation of the events facing the world next year.

The Mayan calendar is not represented in a single image but is a complex system consisting of around 15,000 hieroglyphic signs, known as Mayan glyphs, which look very different from the Aztec Sun-God stone wrongfully represented in some articles about the Mayan prophecies.

We are very happy with the great interest the subject of the Mayan prophecies has evoked around the world. Mexicans and descendants of the Mayans in the Mexican state of Yucatan are preparing to receive in 2012 a large number of visitors keen to know more about the vast cultural and scientific legacy of the Mayans, as well as the rich diversity and attractions Mexico has to offer visitors.

May I extend to you and your readers my best wishes for a wonderful 2012, as well as a warm invitation to come and visit Mexico in 2012 and welcome, on Mayan territory, the advent of a new and better cycle for humanity.

As chair of the G-20, Mexico will also be hosting in June 2012 the summit of the group's leaders, in order to contribute to the solution of some of the urgent problems mentioned by Mr Pesek in his article

Mucho gracias, amigo, for that elucidating letter!

I want to wrap up on the SMRT saga too. This picture, sent to TODAY (31 Dec) by reader Chan Lai Ying tells a lot:

The writer says, "On a recent trip to Hong Kong, I noticed that there is a top window in every [train] cabin which can be opened to allow for air to enter the cabin in case of emergency."

This is not the time to point fingers to ask "If it's possible, why didn't we have this important feature too?". SMRT should simply respond and say, "Yes, we'll do it."


I like this ST Life! headline (31 Dec, page E24):

The story itself is about Britons being worked up over the BBC's choice of a panda as one of its 12 female faces of the year (2011). But aren't pandas cute, as in this recent pic, from a wire story in ST:


Final wrap-up item is this YouTube video of Chook the adorable lyrebird, from Adelaide Zoo, which died this year:

Goodbye, mate!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Next change... 2012, for better or for worse?

You can spot a Singaporean anywhere... his or her lack of social etiquette, rudeness or just plain cluelessness when using and sharing public spaces. Here's the first few paragraphs from an ST report today (30 Dec, page one), "More S'pore students get a taste of China":

The Singapore students were on a school trip to Beijing. One of them confesses, as quoted in the report: " is not difficult to tell who the visitors from Singapore are. Just look out for those who cannot jog in a line or four abreast."

That's why I said yesterday that the idea of a "Keep Left" campaign for pedestrians here, while excellent and sensible, is doomed to failure.


So, it was an American (a Lincoln) that accompanied KJI to his resting place!

When I first saw the pictures of the funereal limousine used for Kim Jong Il's casket, I thought to myself, "It does not look like a Chinese-made limo!" Now, car buffs who scrutinised the pictures have concluded that the vehicle is a mid-1970s American-made Lincoln Continental. Such irony!


Mayan prediction or not, 2012's coming up...

This cartoon. from BizarroComic, has been making the rounds on the Net. It puts a funny spin on the so-called ancient Mayan prediction that the world will end in 2012. Of course, Singaporeans are not about to worry about such a dire event, as they get ready to party at Marina Bay at midnight 31 Dec/1 Jan:

I like how this Standard Chartered ad below conveys the celebratory theme amid the Marina Bay backdrop and the fireworks display:

   Even the museums got into the act:

But amid all the rah-rah, some saw the prospect of gloom ahead:

The Ikea store here was ready to give Santa the boot!

Dragons were pretty much on people's minds. As this headline for an ST commentary article says, the Chinese dragon isn't about to play Santa come 2012:

The coming year, 2012, will also see lots of Dragon babies here (especially among the local Chinese):

But, why a dragon -- in the Mind Your Body article above -- that looks more like the Western "Puff the Magic Dragon" sort than the Chinese-type "loong"? (See my "A brief history of dragons" posting).

Finally, there will always be those making all sorts of claims about 2012:

So, caveat emptor as the new year approaches!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Drum roll please... for these D-Minus Awards!

Everyone's giving out awards at this time of the year. I'm calling mine the D-Minus Awards. First one is...

Dreamer of the Year

TODAY (29 Dec) letter writer Mayur Vora -- who is probably not a local -- has obviously not encountered enough Singaporean drivers, cyclists, pedestrians, bus interchange and train station queue-cutters, and (scariest of all) mall zombies who walk INTO you like you don't exist, to imagine that dystopian locals will co-exist in public spaces in an orderly and efficient fashion. Here's his Utopia-inspired letter headlined "A 'Keep Left' campaign for pedestrians?":

I refer to the letter "Cyclists hold the key to their rights in S'pore" (Dec 23) and suggest that there should be a "Keep Left" campaign for pedestrians.

As a pedestrian, I have had bad experiences with cyclists, especially at East Coast Park and also at MRT stations, where many pedestrians criss-cross the footpaths.

When I was in Kuala Lumpur, many pedestrians kept left. In New York, they kept right (like it is traffic). We need to educate our public, so that pedestrians and cyclists may have a smooth walk/ride.

Simple signs along the footpaths and at MRT stations would convey the message. Cyclists could then overtake on the right.

Seniors who use the railings for support at overhead bridges would not need to struggle with oncoming pedestrians, too, if there were "Keep Left" footprint signs.

All I can say is... dream on!


Dork of the Year (Male category):

If your family name is Weiner and you are a politician in America, and even if you are a cocksure fella, you won't want to go public with your pubic, and thereby feed the media frenzy. But there's got to be at least one contrarian. TODAY's writer (28 Dec) had so much fun with the topic below, headlined "Twitter is for twits", I'll let the write-up speak for itself:

Former New York Representative Anthony Weiner provided the, well, biggest gift to the political sex scandal pool by providing a visual aid to everyone. Weiner publicly tweeted a picture of a weiner to a 21-year-old woman by mistake, when he had meant to direct-message the photo.

Realising his mistake, he then lied about his Twitter account being hacked. The ploy worked... until a blogger announced that he had more sexually explicit photos of Weiner in his possession.

The gym-toned politician eventually admitted the appendage in question was his. Bowing to pressure, he resigned from Congress. His pregnant wife, however, stood by him and gave birth to a little Weiner, Jordan, on Dec 21.

Weiner note: Google for the slang meaning of this word if clueless. Likewise, Google for the original meaning of "Dork", which is most apt for the next award, below.


Dork of the Year (Female category):

These words above were attributed to one Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi, who appeared on a US television reality show called Jersey Shore. In response, Mr Simon Boxall, a marine expert and oceanographer, came forth to spew out: "It would take a lot of whale sperm to make the sea that salty."

This ST story highlights the "bad science" gaffes of other celebrities as well. The London-based Sense About Science (SAS) campaign had named them on its annual list of what it considers the year's worst abuses against science.

SAS has a very informative website. Click below for more on the celebrity gaffes, as well as other nuggets from the site:


Dorks of the Year (Clueless Singaporeans category):

This next award is dedicated to the amazing folk who gave weird answers to this question, "Who sculpted the original Merlion statue?", posed to people out on the streets in a recent episode of The Noose television show ("We are Singaporeans" segment).

I too did not know the answer (it is Mr Lim Nang Seng, who completed the famous tourism icon in 1972) but I would not hazard answers like "Sir Stamford Raffles" or "Construction"! Sigh.

But, come to think about it, one should not be too surprised, since two of the top three leisure pursuits of Singaporeans are eating and shopping. In third place is surfing the Web, which might potentially make us all smart Alecks, if we were trawling for knowledge... Haha! Here's's story on the survey of more than 10,000 Singaporeans on their preferred leisure activities:


Final award....

'Die, Die, Dividends or Bus(t)!'

This headline is from an ST report on Wednesday (28 Dec). The timing for SMRT is unfortunate, given the recent series of train line malfunctions.

Incidentally, I was going through my collection of older newspaper cuttings when I came across this (undated) TODAY blurb:

Finally, here's another item, headlined "Company sells MRT survival kit". Have a good laugh:

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Cancer, not a heart attack, killed Kim? And how one man miraculously survived a 'smashed' head(line)...

Yuriko Koike, a former hawkish conservative Japanese female politician -- she was once the country's (albeit for just under two months) Defence Minister and National Security Adviser -- is now a commentary writer.

Her views do tend to be rightwing, but she seems to have good sources. Her latest opinion piece, "North Korea's real leader?" is worth a read (TODAY, 28 Dec, page 8):

She thinks Kim Jong Il's son, Jong Un, the annointed successor, is unlikely to hold on to the leadership helm, and cites two historical analogies -- one Japanese (Shogun era) and one Chinese (Qing era) -- of a regent usurping power from the annointed one. Without citing her sources, she made a further intriguing "revelation" about KJI's demise:

Both of these [historical] examples of government by regency may shed light on the succession struggle now underway in Pyongyang. At 28 (or 29, as Koreans count age), Mr Kim Jong Un is a pudgy young man with no combat experience whatsoever. So there are substantial doubts as to whether the ageing commanders of North Korea's army, many of whom fought in the Korean War six decades ago, can swear loyalty to a callow, paper general.

This helps to explain why North Korean propaganda covered up the true cause of Kim Jong Il's death -- cancer, not a heart attack. Indeed, he had become so ill recently that he could not make decisions by himself near the end, so his only full-blood relative, his sister Kim Kyong Hui, made decisions on his behalf. In other words, even before Kim Jong Il's death, a dual structure of supreme power had begun to take hold in Pyongyang.


Meanwhile, TODAY could not resist a dig at a new North Korean beer, "Pride of Pyongyang". The story below, which features a video clip of the brand's commercial ad, is headlined:

Kim Jong Ale


ST (28 Dec) also has a cheeky AFP snippet to break the monotony of its coverage of the run-up to KJI's funeral ceremony, being held today:

'Bird's grief moves many'

North Korea yesterday (27 Dec) reported more grieving by Mother Nature over the death of Mr Kim Jong Il, with a dove-like bird reportedly brushing the snow off a statue of the late leader.

The latest avian intervention was reported by Radio Pyongyang, which said the bird's behaviour last week was "breaking the hearts of many people" who heard the story.

Ruling party newspapr Rodong Sinmun said on Monday that owls had been grieving since Mr Kim's death.

"Owls flew in through the windows of the condolence venue and added to the commemorating feelings of the grieving people," it said.


Last item... The New Paper inserted this blurb in ST (28 Dec):

How gross and gruesome, I thought, imagining splattered and bloodied grey matter all over the taxi cabin. A murder case, for sure. But we were misled by the knave who wrote the blurb. Here's what really happened:

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Water ponding? Are there frogs? And more food for thought...

Some wise guy in the PUB, the national water agency, must have felt very smug when he trotted out the term "water ponding" (or just "ponding") to describe the flooding of parts of the Orchard shopping belt yet again.

But one letter writer to TODAY (27 Dec, page 15), Peter Loon Seng Chee, was not amused. This is what he said in his piece headlined "Call it what it is: Flooding":

From a "once in 50 years" event, flooding is now expected in almost every heavy downpour, reducing our first-world roads to a wet mess. But in "No floods in Orchard Rd, just 'ponding': PUB" (Dec 24). this was referred to as "ponding".

It would be sad if we resort to word usage to dissipate the impact of these floods. We have been offered reasons, and remedies have been promised, but the issue has become a crisis over the past two years.

Do our officials have a handle on this problem? Has the incessant load of new developments in recent years exceeded the limit of our national drainage system?

The new head of the national water agency, from this month, is an ex-Navy chief. What are the credentials that enable him to head PUB?

When my friends from overseas talk about visiting Singapore, they joke about packing canoes and scuba gear, and I am embarrassed to have nothing to say in defence. It is time for a solution.

Meanwhile, netizens were having a field day making fun of the term. Here's one pic from a forum thread:

In the same forum thread, a netizen wrote:

So the word flood is taboo in Singapore? The new word now is ponding. So should there be a major flood, the Straits Times and Channel News Asia and all MSM's should replace the word flood with ponding. Example, "At 12.15 today, there was a major ponding in Orchard Road and many cars stalled due to an extremely heavy downpour. In some cases, the waters reached over the roof of cars that parked in the basements of Tanglin Mall. The ponding in a few areas caused traffic snarls that hampered the work of PUB."


Most usage of ponding -- in the building trade -- refers to roof ponding. There is of course the more general meaning: the creation of puddles and ponds, the latter becoming the ideal setting for frogs to make out come night-time.

Speaking of frogs, there is a video clip that shows a bull frog "playing" a computer game on a smartphone. There is an interesting twist towards  the end of the clip. Here's the link:


And now, for more food for thought:

Razor clams? Must be cutting-edge cuisine. You've gotta have the guts (or stomach of steel) for it! Then there's this interesting burger:

I may or may not be anal retentive but why would I want a BUMger? If the pattie is meat, which anatomical area is it from? And why "kungfu"? Does it mean, one bite, and you get a kick out of it? (In the bum?)

I like this last pic below. As reported in ST a while back, there is this Thai woman in a Bangkok neighbourhood who conducts cooking classes for tourists. Many Thais have nicknames and hers is Poo, hence:

Monday, December 26, 2011

More clever/quirky signboards...

The xin.msn site has an interesting write-up on Boxing Day (today, 26 Dec):

It is also a timely reminder to Christians around the world that many Christmas traditions, especially after Christianity spread first to the Western world then to the rest of the globe, had accommodated local customs and practices. Hence, the true meaning of Christmas for Christians is still the Scripture passage I posted on 24 Dec, Luke 2:11.


I realised I have collected a lot of stuff, mostly from newspapers, which I have not used in this blog yet.The rest of today's posting is devoted to cuttings/pics I collected of clever and/or quirkly signboards.

First off is the No Signboard Seafood, a chain of restaurants, some in posh places, which specialises in crab dishes and which  started out as a "no sign" hawker stall in Geylang. Hence the ironic name! The pic below is from

Next up is Once Upon a Thyme (pic below also from Good Italian food of course has lots of herbs such as thyme. What's interesting here is that this popular eating place, run by an Italian chef, is located in a non-posh address: Golden Mile Food Centre:

I really like the name of this next one: Pie Kia.

It's the name of a chain of pastry snack outlets in malls and MRT shops. There is a double word play: first, the pies are smaller than the typical ones, so "pie kia" leverages on the Hokkien term "kia" which means "child". Secondly, the brand's mascot (above) looks, um. interesting. The Hokkien term "pie kia" can mean "naughty or rebellious child" or "gangster". I'll leave it to your imagination. But food reviews were less impressed with the quality or taste of the pies.

Finally, there are a number of Christian-run coffee houses in the United States with this word play:

I vaguely remember that there was a coffee outlet with the name "He Brews" in the Upper Bukit Timah area many years back. But I think it is no longer around.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

About a surfing Santa, and a myth about Christmas Island...

These days, Santa does more than just getting into chimneys (which are disappearing or have been sealed up, anyway). For instance, he "hangs ten"...

The AFP story can be found on xin.msn's website:

Next, here's another Santa, depicted in this stamp, wading ashore to Australia's Christmas Island (famed for its red crabs):

Hold it, did I say Australia's Christmas Island? Yes, this little island, basking in the sun in the Indian Ocean and located near Indonesia, is Australian territory.

But there is a myth that the then self-governing British Crown Colony of Singapore under Chief Minister Lim Yew Hock sold Christmas Island to Australia in 1957!

The reality is that the British adminstered Christmas Island from Singapore, just as they administered Pedra Branca island in the South China Sea from Singapore. It was their prerogative to do as they wished on these far offshore territorial possessions.

In the eventuality, the British -- perhaps uncertain about the political leanings of a future independent Singapore nestled in a region as tumultuous as then Southeast Asia was --preferred to hand over Christmas Island to Australia to look after, just as they chose to continue to administer Pedra Branca from Singapore and eventually to transfer such administration to Singapore upon its independence.

The device the Brits used to transfer Christmas Island (to Australia) was a so-called sale, amounting to One Singapore Dollar. The Lim Yew Hock govenment signed the necessary papers, but, really, it had no choice in this. It seems that this device was used too when the Brits handed over military barracks to Singapore's MINDEF in later years.

Separately, I think the Australian government paid the Lim Yew Hock government a sum of money, but this was in compensation for loss of earnings from Christmas Island's phosphate mines.

But the myth that Singapore "sold out" Christmas Island to Australia persisted, as a Google search would readily show. See, for example, the excellent Remember Singapore blogsite, which, in the link below, has sketches of several other dramatic moments in our history:

Saturday, December 24, 2011

While shepherds watched their flocks by night...

In my halycon days, I went carolling with the church I attended. Thanks to YouTube, I can now put some of my favourite carols here:

While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks By Night

Oh Holy Night

Silent Night (as sung by Bing Crosby)


For there is born to you this day in the City of David a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord. -- Luke 2:11.

Friday, December 23, 2011

From the unmentionables to the uproarious...

Unmentionables #1
I shouldn't be telling this (adapted) Reader's Digest joke tomorrow (Christmas Eve), so I will have to tell it today:

Three men appear before Saint Peter at the Pearly Gate. It is Christmas Eve. "In order to get into Heaven, you must each produce before me something representative of the holidays," he tells them.

The first man digs out a match from his shirt pocket and lights it. "This represents a candle of hope," he proclaims. Impressed, St Pete ushers him into Heaven.

The second man pulls out a bunch of keys and shakes it, creating a jingling sound. "These keys are Yuletide bells," he says. He gets in.

The third man is a little hesitant at first but finally takes out from his trouser pocket a pair of red panties.

"What do these have to do with Christmas?" the incredulous saintly gatekeeper bellows.

"These are Carol's," the man sheepishly replies.

Unmentionables #2
If the headline says "Busty and busted! Model caught with 2.5kg of cocaine in her implants", you'll want to read on, right? I guess so... here's the link:


Uproarious #1
TODAY (23 Dec) has this story on page 6:

North Korea says a fierce snow-storm paused and the sky began glowing red above sacred Mount Paektu just minutes before leader Kim Jong Il's death. The state media added that the ice on volcanic Lake Chon, at the mountain, cracked with a loud roar.

And in the city of Hamhung, a Manchurian crane circled a statue of Kim's father, Kim Il Sung, before alighting on a tree, its head drooping, before it took off towards Pyongyang.

Similar myths and legends also surround Kim Jong Il's birth 69 years ago, said to be on Mount Paektu. Official biographers say a double rainbow filled the skies when he was born.

Uproarious #2
From the Great Fiasco to the Great Mashup...
So, what can we say about two recent omenous events -- Kim's death and the SMRT fiasco? Some wise guy apparently mashed them up:

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Curiosity thrills the cat!

In the course of a conversation, someone asked: "How are construction cranes hoisted atop buildings, and how are they taken down?"

It was an intriguing question. What's more, Singaporeans have dubbed the construction crane, or tower crane, the country's "national bird" since it is seen everywhere here.

Being the curious cat (I am born in the Year of the Tiger), I Googled for answers. As the picture above shows, the tower crane is actually set up on one side. It "grows" with the building and is progressively dismantled later. But how is it kept from toppling over?

All such whys and wherefores are revealed in this excellent website:

Just search under the topic "How Tower Cranes Work". Or just click on this link:

If you are naturally curious, like me, you'll find a cornucopia of topics and fun quizzes, eg:

* 10 of the Biggest Lies in History
* Top 5 Myths about Video Games
* 8 Stars Who Died During the Filming of a Movie
* 10 Great iPhone Apps
* 5 Ways to Cut Your Monthly Living Expenses
* 15 Oxymorons
* 5 NASA Inventions You Won't Believe
* What Happens in the Brain During An Orgasm?


Yet another interesting question, "Bubbles in urine", was posed in today's Mind Your Body supplement of ST (22 Dec, page 17). Here's the Q&A:

Q: I am a 16-year-old boy. When I urinate, bubbles can be seen in the toilet bowl. Usually, the urine is yellow. But if I drink enough water before urinating, the bubbles disappear. Is this a sign of any disease?

A: Bubbles in the urine are usually caused by the impact of the urine jet on the water. They are usually not significant.

However, occasionally, they may be due to the presence of protein in the urine.

If the bubbles are persistent and associated with leg swelling, you will need to consult a doctor, as you might be suffering from nephrotic syndrome -- a condition in which the kidneys are damaged, leading to the release of too much protein in the urine.

The kidneys can be damaged by different disorders, such as kidney diseases, diabetes and infections.

When the urine is yellow and smelly, it may mean that a person is dehydrated, usually due to insufficient water intake. The strong colour and smell of the urine will clear up if you drink more water.

But if the strong colour and smell are persistent and are associated with pain and an urgency to pass urine, then it may be due to a urinary tract infection. This is an infection that affects any part of the urinary system in the body, which consists of the kidneys, ureters, bladder and urethra.

In this case, you will need to see a doctor.    

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Kim Jong well, Kim Jong Il(l)... now Kim Jong gone.

Suddenly, everyone's an expert on North Korea and Kim Jong Il. Frankly, no one can crystal-ball how the Korean peninsular situation will pan out. For sure, we all mocked the "Dear Leader" while he was alive, but he alone knew how to take his hermit kingdom to the brink of an international  crisis, then pull back. He epitomised reason in madness.

China is the key player to watch, and I recommend Victor Cha's commentary piece "North Korea: China's newest province?" which first appeared in the New York Times and which both TODAY and ST have re-published (21 Dec). Here's the TODAY link:

I've extracted a key segment of Cha's article here:

The allies' best move, then, is to wait and see what China does.

Among China's core foreign-policy principles is the maintenance of a divided Korean Peninsula, and so Beijing's statements about preserving continuity of North Korea's leadership should come as no surprise. Since 2008, it has drawn closer to the regime, publicly defending its leaders and investing heavily in the mineral mines on the Chinese-North Korean border.

But even as Beijing sticks close to its little Communist brother, there are intense debates within its leadership about whether the North is a strategic liability. It was one thing to back a hermetic but stable regime under Kim Jong Il; it will be harder to underwrite an untested leadership


OK, I'm done with the serious part of today's posting. Did you know that there are at least 13 interesting tidbits about Kim Jong Il? As claimed by media reports, these are:

* He had over 50 titles
* He had a "divine" birth
* He ate donkeys and giant rabbits
* He could control the weather
* He was afraid of flying
* He liked fine wines and cognacs
* He never needed to pee or shit (despite quaffing all those wines and cognac)
* He liked waterslides
* He was such a movie buff that he kidnapped a South Korean film industry couple
* He was fastidious about the rice he took (each grain had to be inspected by staff)
* He was the world's greatest golfer
* Afraid of becoming addicted to painkillers after a fall, he had his staff pop the pills too
* He invented the hamburger

So there, all 13 "strangest facts" about the man... Read more in this xinmsn link:


Finally, what were Singaporeans' three favourite YouTube videos this year? Check them out here:

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Dogs rule?

Oh dear, is SMRT going to the dogs?...

A reader sent this pic to STOMP. This dog was said to have been spotted at Lavender station. Read the story here:

How did it get through the ticket turnstiles? Are dogs getting smarter (conversely, are humans getting dumber vis-a-vis canines?) and are dogs aiming to rule the world? For sure, this poster ad below is for "intellectual" top dogs:

So, what books do top dogs (Dogsford/Caninebridge-educated "scholar" dogs) conniving to take over the world read? This could be one such book:

Already the little dog in my household, Killer, is scheming to displace me on my favourite chair. He tried this (below, from an earlier posting) and was shooed off:

But he may now have reached halfway towards his objective, as this latest pic shows:

As they say, stay tuned for what'll happen next. Meanwhile, here's a hilarious YouTube video of a "really smart" dog, sent to me by Kim Ann. Enjoy!...

Monday, December 19, 2011

Eggs get laid... what else? (and other quirky stuff).

Aussies ("No worries, mate") have sometimes been unfairly typecast as laidback. Truth be told, they are among the hardest working people around.

That makes them hungry, which means a lot of hens have to lay a lot of eggs to feed them, like what's in this carton ("100% Hunter Valley Produced") that my daughter Liane bought when Angie and I visited her and CK in Sydney:

Breakfast over (and those eggs dispatched), we all went to Paddy's Market. That's when, at the nearby University Technology Sydney, I came across something else that had been "laid":

Later in the week, on a trip to Kangaroo Valley, we came across other quirky signs at scenic spots we visited:

Hmmm... Reminds me of a sign supposedly spotted above a drinking fountain at an airport terminal in China: "It is safe to drink the water. It has been passed by the airport authorities". Anyway, we got thirsty, and -- duly forewarned -- drove on to a cafe in the town, which displayed this sign:

CK gamely asked for a "Spider" (and hold the web, please) and we learnt that it's actually a soda-ice cream float.

Back in Sydney, we went to the Sky Casino, and checked out the pastry outlet of Adriano Zumbo (he of Master Chefs fame). For staters, the macaroons were A$2.50 a pop:

His cakes were interestingly shaped, named, priced and displayed:


At the Imax Theatre, we caught a tornado-chasing documentary which featured specially fitted vehicles for that purpose. No glass was broken, no "breaking of wind" either, but the show's poster proclaimed something else:

Finally, here's "proof" that Aussies are not laidback. Even Santa has to work very hard to deliver his bag of presents:


I still have two items to put up here with regard to the SMRT saga.

ST (19 Dec) ran a very good colour write-up of the hero who -- when the air inside his train carriage got really stale -- took the initiative to smash a window in the cabin last Thursday night (sorry, it was not an Angry Bird thaf did it, despite the picture I had used). Everyone except SMRT and the authorities hailed him as a hero. I'll use's story here:

Finally, it had to happen... someone created a spoof YouTube video titled "The SMRT Song":

Sunday, December 18, 2011

A cheeky Facebook page, and some puzzling stuff in print.

One more SMRT-related item before I move on.

Once again, it is that provides us with some much-appreciated humour. It highlights a fictitious Facebook page titled "SMRT Ltd (Feedback)" that appears to have been set up by a netizen to mock SMRT's recent gaffes.

Here's one hilarious example taken from that Facebook page:

A netizen is depicted offering this idea: "Dear SMRT, there is a vertical marathon and a Sundown marathon. SMRT can organise a Train Down marathon where commuters have to make their way out of the tunnels. There will be booby traps, like your CEO will appear randomly to shout 'Fare Hike!', or crawling cabbies can grab the legs of commuters and shout 'Income Opportunity!'."

To this, the page administrator supposedly replies: "You are at the wrong page. Go to 'Left4Dead'."


I have been catching up on the local newspaper issues that I had missed reading while I was in Oz. Here's a sampling of stuff that caught my eye:

The Samaritans of Singapore (SOS) came up with a good idea in placing "call us" signs at Bedok Reservoir, the site of a recent series of suicide by drowning. But what puzzled me was the choice of the number for the hotline: 1800-221-4444.

The number "4" in Cantonese is pronounced "say" and in Hokkien is pronounced "see". In both instances, the appropriate intonation gets you the meaning "dead"! Aiyoh, didn't someone spot the obvious? (It reminds me of the marketing gaffe made by Nissan Motors long ago when it introduced a sedan car model here badged as the Bluebird. Try saying that in Hokkien!).

Then there's this weird ad above. Since when has an ache become enjoyable? Or have we become a nation of masochists?

Finally, some hospitals and private medical specialists have been organising (usually) paid-admission medical-themed talks for the public. There are a number of such ads appearing in the local papers. I suppose that's one way to get own-referrals. But the ad above -- presumably addressed to the lay reader -- posed a strange question: "Heart attack or stroke... Which is more life-threatening?"

What should the answer be, whether from the medical provider's or the potential heart attack/stroke victim's perspective? Sheesh!

Tomorrow, I'll trot out pics I took in Oz.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

MRT = Mana real transit?

Is SMRT jinxed? A second network malfunction took place on the North-South Line for about seven hours this morning (17 Dec). Because today is Saturday, and just a week from Christmas, shops in the Orchard area were bereft of shoppers till the afternoon!

The bright spot is that people in charge of relevant agencies seemed to have learnt some lessons, and both the mainstream media and social media were kept updated through the day, so the public was not left clueless. There may be light at the end of the tunnel after all, maybe not so soon, but after all the post-mortems have been conducted.

Here's's short write-up on today's MRT (mana real transit?) glitch:


It's been a long day at work today, so I'll wrap up with this not-very-cheem poser:

Q: Why did the teacher get cross-eyed in the classroom?



A: Because she could not control her pupils!

Friday, December 16, 2011

The Great MRT Fiasco... and a three-minute walk between 2 stations?

I'm back! Sydney was cold and it rained quite a bit, despite it being officially the start of summer there, but Angie and I had a really good holiday, thanks to our being pampered by Liane and CK. More on the quirky pics I took there, in a later posting.

For now, the top local news is of course last night's (15 Dec) Great MRT Fiasco which saw commuters stranded for hours on the North-South Line, as a result of a track malfunction. SMRT staff did not seem to have coped well, hence the chaos and confusion all round. There were angry birds out there all right...

In the midst of commuters' anger, SMRT went and put its foot in its mouth, instantly creating the local buzz phrase of the year: "income opportunity":

It sent out a message to its fleet of taxis, telling the cabbies there was an "income opportunity", as stranded train riders would be desperate to find ways and means to get home. Sheesh! SMRT later apologised for the gaffe, saying the wrong template had been used. It should have been "service disruption", SMRT added. Here is's story on this Great PR Gaffe, the sideshow to the Great MRT Fiasco:

There'll be more media stories on this fiasco in the next few days. All agencies, from the LTA to the transport operators to even the media, were caught flat-footed.

There will be an inquiry, with foreign experts tapped. Do we need them? Already, Singaporeans are coming up with sensible critiques and recommendations. SBS Transit should not be feeling smug, that its train operations were not hit. One netizen observed that SBS Transit could have mobilised its own fleet of buses and other vehicles to help.

To me, the key lesson all-round is the quick evacuation of people from affected train stations as soon as possible. As well, steps should be taken to keep unsuspecting commuters from getting into stations. TV and radio, and the social media, should also be deployed to keep the public up to date. This was a malfunction. It could have been worse.


One picture, on the "fiasco", in the front page of today's ST (16 Dec) intrigued me:

The caption to the picture said commuters took the three-minute walk through the tunnel stretch between City Hall and Dhoby Ghaut stations. Think abou it...

A three-minute walk, along dimly-lit tracks? On a normal day, when you are in the train and going from one of these stations to the other, how long did the journey take? Just under three minutes?