Sunday, June 30, 2013

IQ, "I (No) Queue", and My Bad...

More on... Canine IQ.
If, like me, you have dogs in the house and a robot vacuum cleaner, this is a cautionary -- albeit hilarious tale (thanks, Tom, for sending the YouTube video below to me):

Cats, on the other hand, seem to have figured out how to take advantage of these robot machines:

So, if dogs are smart, cats are smarter. QED.


More on... Human "I Queue" Deficit
Angie insists I relate these two incidents.

1) She was next in line at this supermarket checkout counter when a man -- holding a basket of groceries -- slid past and pointing to the woman customer in front, said softly, "I'm with her".

Unfortunately for him, she turned around and growled, "No, you are not!"

It was not his lucky day. Turns out that he was a habitual queue-jumper, for the checkout girl then said, "Please queue up, uncle, you are always doing this." Some days, the god of "I queue" smiles on decent folks.

2) Sadly, cruises where locals are in the majority -- those two/three/four day cruises to regional ports and especially the shorter ones billed as "Cruise to Nowhere" (an excuse to encamp in the casino once the ship is in international waters) -- will find their share of queue-jumpers. This problem becomes acute if ships' crew are uninterested in enforcing proper queueing, particularly during disembarkation procedures.

This is what we once witnessed after the ship had returned to Singapore: This low-life form posing as a human being barged his way to the front, dragging his wife and young son along. The wife, embarrassed, told him quietly they should have queued up. The man, with his young son watching him intently, yelled at her: "Wah lau, why must queue? We go off first, we get taxi first!"


I'll start an occasional segment on "My Bad" -- words and phrases spotted in articles or ads that reflect sloppiness, or an attempt to be affectedly trendy (I had once blogged about the expression "my bad" as one such example of language usage that should never be allowed to catch on):

Example 1: "Conflicted about..."

Lee Huang spotted this one, in today's Sunday Times. Conflicted about? What's wrong with "undecided about" or "uncertain about"? Here's what one online site says about such usage:

Example 2 (also in The Sunday Times): 

I am not sure one can improve cardio fitness that way. But, I would say such an outcome was more likely if the headline had read thus: "Improve cardio fitness with regular running".

After all, this was the original quote extracted from the story:

(If anyone is still puzzled as to what "runs" can mean, ask a gastroenterologist.)

Example 3: Bad ad

Just what is "7 Nature"?


I have always enjoyed Get Fuzzy. But I think the cartoon strip that appeared today was in very poor taste. Any kind of jingoistic bashing -- be it US-bashing, China-bashing or whatever "bashing" -- is uncalled for:


Finally, I hope Mr Abe heeds what this wise man says:

Saturday, June 29, 2013

How smart are dogs? You'd be surprised...

Minding your pees (cont'd)

I forgot to include this pic in yesterday's "toilet signs" segment...

...which of course contradicts this other pic which I had posted yesterday:


Whether you are a dog person or not, do watch this fascinating Nova Science Now video!

How Smart Are Dogs?

Thanks to research by scientists interested in studying "dog cognition" (dognition), humans are beginning to better understand these "furkids" better. Watch this series of short videos from this website called Dognition:

As a result, I'm beginning to appreciate my 16-year-old beagle, Brady, better as a once "self-reliant" dog, ie, he is now old but because he is set in his ways as a self-reliant dog, he is not an easy to handle dog now. Killer (nine years old) the mini schnauzer, on the other hand, is a "collaborative" dog, always looking out for the human cues to shape his responses. Both are, of course, adorable.

Brady on wheels!

Brady now needs to be "wheeled" around when we take him (and Killer) down to poop:

I found this other video of someone else who needed to take his old dog around "on wheels":


Finally, these two Animal Planet videos highlight the attributes of beagles and mini schnauzers:

Friday, June 28, 2013

Minding your pees and queues...

Minding your pees

I came across this "sign" at the Grandstand shops (the Old Turf City):

I don't think I need to explain the picture. But, just to be sure, here's a YouTube video of Restroom Signs -- Around the World (to the very irritating and repetitive tune of "It's a Small World, After All"; one comment poster called it "ear rape", so do mute the sound!):

Minding the queues

Thanks to the Hell-o Kitty saga, the world now knows Singaporeans love to queue -- but not always when they should do so. We can't seem to wait till alighting passengers get off the trains and you will always find people who refuse to wait in line at the bus interchanges.

The problem goes way back, to my schooldays. I remember that -- whenever there was a popular show, say, one of the early Bond movies -- cinema-goers waiting in line at the ticket booths would invariably be approached by a "chow kuan" (no sense of decency) person asking to "potong jalan" (queue-cut) and piggyback a few tickets. Funnily, those behind did not seem to mind. We lived and let live then (even if the Bond movie being screened was "Live and Let Die"). But I don't think this "lompang" (borrow-your-queue position) ploy is practised any more, at least where movie tickers are concerned.

Some years back, I was wandering around Tekka Market's food centre around lunchtime. I saw a line that was fast growing. It was the only line! So I joined it, not knowing which stall I would end up at. Happily, I found myself at a nasi bryani stall. I was later to find out that it was quite famous, and operated only from 11am (I think) till 2pm -- in a food centre where many stalls stayed open till late.

And last month, Angie and I decided to do some "investigation", so we joined this queue shown below:

Let me zoom up to the sign in the distance ahead...

Ah, "branded" handbags. I wanted to know why on earth women would pay the earth to buy such bags that ranged from well over S$20,000 for exclusive top-of-the-heap Hermes designs to still four- to five-figure prices for the others (before the sale discounts). So I dragged Angie along (she did give me a scare; she picked up an LV bag, only to return it at the payment counter).

The sale of branded handbags has not abated (and why should it, right?). Here's an ad which appeared today:

I must assume there will be queues at this sale too.


Finally, this one is serious -- and troubling. It cause the person who wrote to ST Forum (June 28) to become very distressed until the matter was resolved. I expect both the bank in question and the banking regulator to fix this problem, which can happen to any of us!...


Thursday, June 27, 2013

When Hello Kitty mania strikes (aka the Ugly Singaporeans)...

More on what makes a Singaporean a Singaporean (OK, not all Singaporeans)

Smog or no smog, just mention Hello Kitty soft toys up for grabs at McDonalds (you've gotta buy a meal, of course) -- especially if it's the last in the series, the Singing Bone Hello Kitty (aka Black Kitty) -- and you have Singaporeans queuing up for hours way before the toys are available for sale.

Tempers flared, of course:

Here's a YouTube clip of Channel NewsAsia's report which carried snippets of some of the altercations:

AsiaOne's report is here:


Meanwhile, on the PSI front, this ST Forum letter raises an interesting question about the air quality here, smog or no smog:

Oh, for peat's sake!

Finally, I thought this ST graphic pretty much explained why peat fires are so terrible...

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

I live in Singapura...

With the past few days of our having morning blue skies and afternoon thunderstorms, I need to take a break from blogging about the smog (aka "haze") that has been badly hitting this Little Red Dot aka Singapore aka Singapura aka Temasek aka the Lion City aka PSI country (or, as one wag pronounced it, Pee-Sai country) aka...

So why not revisit the History of Singapore ("I Live in Singapura") as interpreted by comedian Hossan Leong and given a refreshing animated twist in this video clip?...

Song note: Hossan Leong, in his Singapore history parody, was using Billy Joel's delightful political commentary "We didn't start the fire":

Actually, the Singaporean identity is a very elusive one. One TODAY reader recently tried to flesh it out...

...but I'm glad that there are increasingly creative young Singaporeans who can take a humorous dig at the "definitive" Singaporean traits:

Finally, you are only a true blue Singaporean if you will "die, die" do anything to lay your hands on this King of Fruits... the durian. But if you are not a local, please ask around how it's eaten, Don't literally lay your hands on this yummy fleshy fruit's spiky outer shell...

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Relatively speaking...

How do you say "brother" in Bahasa Indonesia?

When President Yudhoyono ("SBY") apologised for the haze caused by fires started in Indonesia's Sumatra, he spoke in Bahasa Indonesia. ST (June 25) reported it, quoting SBY as referring to Singapore and Malaysia as "brothers":

Hmmm. There is no equivalent term for "brother" in Bahasa. There is "abang" which means an "elder brother" and there is "adik", which refers to a younger brother. Likewise, in Hokkien, we have "Ah Hia" for elder brother and "Ah Tee" for younger brother. Since I was No 5 in a family of five brothers, I had to call Bro No 1 "Tua Hia", Bro No 2 "Jee Hia", etc, with the prefix "Tua" denoting "Big" (haha, Big Brother!) and the prefix  "Jee" denoting "Two", and so on. Because I was the only one (apart from my sis How Eng) living in Pulau Bukom as a boy, each time I visited the rest of the family on the mainland, I had to respectfully call my brothers Jee Hia, Sar Hia, etc (BB lived in Malaysia). One day, I discovered they had started calling each other by name! Ha! From that day, as far as I was concerned, it was How Tiong, How Teng...

But I digressed.

So, did SBY use "adik" to refer to his country's two smaller neighbours (one of which was even called the Little Red Dot by one of SBY's predecessors)? I don't have the Bahasa version of his speech, so I won't know.

TODAY (June 25), reporting the same speech, used the term "relatives" instead:

Now that would be "keluarga" or even "famili". But if SBY had meant "siblings", that would be "adik beradik" (the Hokkien equivalent would be "hia-tee").

TODAY also reported Indonesian Energy and Mineral Resources Minister Jero Wacik as resorting to using the term "friends" (albeit in an admonishing tone), and then -- gosh! -- "husband and wife"! Was he hinting at a menage a trios sort of entanglement?...


So, when reading newspaper stories, and you take the trouble to read between the lines, you may be able to read more into them.


To wrap up, relatively speaking, I thought of rehashing an old joke based on the riddle "Who's your father's son?" I found this variation titled "The real reason why Anwar was kicked out":

(The link above has three other old political jokes too.)

Monday, June 24, 2013

Q: Why is the haze so severe this time?

When leadership sets the tone

The latest news is that Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has apologised for the latest fire-ignited smog and for intemperate remarks some of his officials made in recent days:

I think many ordinary Singaporeans and Malaysians appreciate his candour, and a few of us will even recall Suharto in the 1990s having done likewise and even angrily telling his officials he would personally "tumbok" (punch) those responsible for starting the fires in that earlier period.
Importantly, I think Singapore's PM set the tone for leadership behaviour when he refused to be baited into a war of words in the opening phase of the current smog season:

But did he mean "dry season"?

TODAY's story (June 24) headlined "Be prepared for haze to return" carried remarks by PM Lee which quoted him as saying "rainy season" when "dry season" would have made sense instead:

"If the winds aim at us, we get hit, if the winds miss us, we are lucky... we must be psychologically prepared that... it could last a few weeks, maybe for a couple of months until the end of the rainy season."

ST (June 24) on its front page had a different version of the quote: "This is a problem that will last at least a few weeks, maybe a couple of months until September or October, so I think we will have to be psychologically prepared..."

Hmmm. Acting Manpower Minister Tan Chuan Jin did get his facts right (ST, June 24, page A8) when he noted that Indonesia was only at the start of its dry season. "The season extends all the way to September, and that's a few more months," he was quoted as saying.

On that note, Sunday Times (June 23) had a very informative interview with a weather expert. Here's the pertinent excerpt:


Wrapping up on something not smog-related, I found this "explosive" label on these mandarin oranges:

Sunday, June 23, 2013

The 'bear-able' likeness of being...

Another day of blue skies in Singapore! So I'll get back to posting stuff from my recent holiday.

The Teddy Bear Museum, Jeju (South Korea)

The land tour we selected for Jeju included the Teddy Bear Museum. Ho-hum, I thought; just go along, snap some pics, and look forward to the next more interesting stop on our itinerary. How wrong I was! The exhibits were very creative and delightful. What's below is just a sample:

This is South Korea, so meet Psy's 'bear-able' likeness...

The Thinker: I stink, Therefore I'm bear


Mona Lisa... the unbearable lightness of being?

In the beginning...

You'll recognise these historical figures...

And these historical events...

("B Company" -- Bear Company -- storming the beach!)

(Houston, we have landed. And there's a crater-ful of honey up ahead!)

You'll also recognize these famous showbiz folks...

Hey, you two, don't take a pic of me like this. Even a bear needs to wee-wee!

The Xian terracotta bears (note the tourist bear snapping a pic) ...

Finally, here's why teddy bears are so-called...