Thursday, October 31, 2013

'The trouble with retirement is you never get a day off'.

Apropos yesterday's blog entry, apparently, there is at least one other version with a different 10th "commandment". Here it is:

10. Pray always and focus on your eternal life. You will definitely leave everything behind, a final journey detached from burden and care.

Be more accepting that, sooner, not later, you will croak. Prepare your swan song with a humble and contrite heart. If you believe in a merciful and loving God, there is no need to strut like a star. Nobody is.


Meanwhile, I found this retirement-themed ad intriguing...

Ah, who wouldn't want to have such an activity-filled retirement? Then I looked more carefully at the pic:

If this is the "before" pic, I wonder what the "after" pic is like? All I can say is that, the advice with regard to horses anyway, is to keep a safe distance from their behinds. Fatalities have been known from kicks from horses' hind legs.


I like Cate Blanchett's quote on her being constantly on the verge of retirement:

But the reality is reflected in these two recent headlines...

... and this (typical) bank ad giving us a paltry interest rate for our hard-earned money:


I'll wrap up with this link that has a series of retirement quotes. Some are quite good (including the one in the header):

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The other '10 commandments'?

Now that I'm retired, people have been asking me what will I do next. This "advice" below was sent by someone:

1.   Do not retire. If you're over-aged, retire and get all the benefits but find another income-generating job or open a business that will keep you active physically and mentallyTravel and bond with true friends, play a sport, learn a new hobby and volunteer in your community or parish. Don't loaf around. Your spouse will hate you because you've become a sloppy, listless bum with nothing good to say about the household and things that you never bothered about before. Solve crossword puzzles, play Scrabble, write your memoirs, and above all, read ...this will keep you alert and keep Alzheimer's at bay.

2. Live in your own place to enjoy independence, privacy and a solo life. If you move in with your children, your rank or degree of importance is reduced to that of a bed spacer who has no place of honor or, worse, like crumbling furniture merely displayed with no added value. Maybe, you have to 'kowtow' to conform to their own rules that are not kind, considerate or mindful of you? If you witness your children engaged in a war of will and wits with your grandchildren, whom will you side with? Will they even appreciate your arbitration? Remind your children that silence is not a sign of weakness; you are merely processing data that is taking longer to complete.

3. Hold on to your nest egg, bank deposits and assets. If you want to help your children, do give, but not to the extent that you wipe out your life's earnings, singing heroically not a shirt on my back nor a penny to my name.
Staying solvent and in the black is a good hedge against all kinds of tempests. You will sleep better, you will not be afraid to express your opinion and you will be confident about yourself.

Don't believe your children's promise to care for you when you grow old priorities change. Many children are not guilt- ridden or filled with a sense of moral obligation when the wife and offspring take top billing in their lives. There are still children who would consider it a privilege to show compassion, genuine love and deep concern for their parents but be warned that not all children think alike.

5. Expand your circle of friends to include young ones who will definitely outlive your old BFFs. Keep up with new inventions, trends, music and lifestyle including all the scams and schemes you should guard against.
Remember that when you mix with the young, you also open a fresh avenue to channel your thoughts, experiences and values through so that the lessons you learned are not lost, forgotten or buried with you.

6. Be well groomed and smelling fresh of spring water all the time. There's nothing more depressing than seeing people exhale when you walk by because you reek of baul (camphor chest) or lupa (dirt). Old age or bust, don't look and smell like a corpse when you're not one yet.

7. Do not meddle in the life of your children. If they ask for your counsel, give it, but be ready to accept that they may not take it. Their situations in life cannot be compared to the situations that you experienced in your life. The playing field has changed and they need to develop their own set of survival skills. If you raised them to be street smart, they can handle themselves in tough situations and be able to read people. Champion and encourage their dreams and desires but on their own terms.

8. Do not use old age as your shield and justification for turning grumpy. There's nothing more annoying than an arrogant, old fool. Welcome each day as another chance to be kind and forgiving, to yourself and to others.

9. Listen to what others may say. Do not throw your weight around just because you are a septuagenarian or a nonagenarian. You are not a depository of knowledge. Even if the roles have been reversed, make growing old a fun-filled, pleasant experience for you and your brood.


     MONEY - Your last power in old age !
If you are broke at old age, nobody, not even your children will come close to you.

If you are broke at old age, not even your wife will respect you.

If you are broke at old age, you become a parasite.

Money buys you power when you need it most at old age.

No Money means:
  • No "honey"
  • No holidays
  • No wine
  • No friends
  • No social life
  • No phone calls
  • No Email

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Going by the numbers...

This blog has now hit 1,000 entries!

But what is 1,000 compared to this number:

So, one zetta = 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000.

One step higher than the zetta is the yotta, with 24 noughts after the digit one.

How does the "naming" system work? It starts with the humble deca, with only one zero after one ie 10 to the power of one (10). Next is the hecto, or 10 to the power of two (100); the kilo, or 10 to the power of three (1,000); and so on.

Wikipedia has provided a chart:

So, if you have never heard of femto, atto, zepto and yocto, check out the link above.


How about this for a numbers puzzle?...

Use eight (8) exactly eight times to make a thousand.


Next, how many zeros in a zillion, ie, how much is a zillion? Here's the answer:


Zero is, mathematically, a number. But did you know it is also a given name? For instance, there is the American actor Zero Mostel ("Fiddler on the Roof"):


Numbers can get a politician into trouble, like this one:

Many Japanese nationalists think he's a hero but people in countries like China and South Korea will probably rate him a zero. As they say, from hero to zero!


Finally, one answer -- but not the only solution -- to the numbers puzzle above is:

888 + 88 + 8 + 8 + 8

Monday, October 28, 2013

Grammar matters? Of course it does but don't get too 'hung up'...

I came across a useful site called "Daily Writing Tips". Among its contents, this one headlined

7 Grammatical Errors That Aren't

by Mark Nichol is worth checking out:

I felt that Tip No 2

Never end a sentence with a preposition

tied in nicely with this "grammar joke" (inspired by Native American folklore?) that Tom sent me:

On his 74th birthday, a once-virile man got a gift certificate from his wife. The certificate paid for a visit to a medicine man living on a nearby reservation who was rumoured to have a wonderful cure for erectile dysfunction.

After being persuaded, he went to the reservation, handed his ticket to the medicine man, and wondered what he was in for.

The medicine man handed a potion to him, and with a grip on his shoulder, warned, 'This is  a powerful medicine. You take only a teaspoonful, and then say '1-2-3.'

'When you do, you will become more manly than you have ever been, and you can  perform as long as you want.'

The man was encouraged.  Before he walked away, he  asked, 'How do  I stop the medicine from  working?'

'Your partner must say 1-2-3-4,' the medicine man responded, 'but when she does, the medicine will not work again until the next  full moon.'

He was very eager to see if it worked so he went home, showered, shaved, took a spoonful of the medicine, and then invited his wife to join him in the bedroom.

When she came in, he took off his clothes and said, '1-2-3!'  Immediately, he was the manliest of men.

His wife got excited and began throwing off her clothes too. She then asked him, 'What was the 1-2-3  for?'

And that is why we should never end a sentence with a preposition -- we could end up with a dangling participle. 


Anyway, there's no need to get too stressed over grammar or that dangling participle. Here's the antidote:

Sunday, October 27, 2013

When below par is good (golf), and when below par is bad (just about everything else)...

Banks are always asking their customers to deposit "fresh funds" with them. And it's all right to have fresh ideas -- innovations or different perspectives that had not emerged previously. But the moment the money is deposited, it is no longer fresh funds; and while a new idea attracts attention, at some point it will have to be embraced (ie, no longer fresh), reworked or discarded.

So, something fresh is something new but the flipside is that it does not stay fresh, semantically speaking. It can get stale even -- as with freshly baked bread. So can eggs be passed off as fresh?...

I've already recounted the story of the fishmonger whose sign "Fresh Fish For Sale" was ridiculed by a linguist. I'm sure those free eggs in the ad above are some way from becoming rotten but they are not fresh either. It's below par to call them "fresh".

Ditto for this box of dates which -- even if airfreighted -- would surely have gone through a process of being harvested, selected, packed, etc. No, I'll quibble too with the use of "fresh" on the box:

Here in Singapore, there is an unthinking use even by the media of the label "fresh graduates" ("fresh grads") when, again, the correct phrasing should be "new graduates" or "recent graduates"...

So, don't say "fresh grad" -- it's below par, language-usage wise. This man below got it right!...


As for this ad below, what's being put on sale is just a one gram gold wafer (or medallion). But it is being advertised as a "gold ingot"!...


Foreign extra? What's that?


I'm not just throwing brickbats. Here's one classy ad with a clever play on words. In golf, if you are playing "below par", you are playing well!...:


I like this one too...


I felt this Volkswagen ad (earlier this year) had that creative touch too...

I have been to Berlin, was at the Wall, listened to the tour guide's gripping account of its sad past and the momentous day when it was breached. I took back this souvenir fridge magnet:


Finally, this ad is corny but it's kind of cute, ie, good for a laugh. Haha, "You'll be DIM not to get SUM"!

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Sign spotting...

An "active" retiree keeps his eyes peeled (hmm, but why "peeled"?) for interesting signs, like this one:

What! Call the NEA inspectors... this worksite has to be hauled over the coals for daring to openly proclaim that it breeds mosquitoes at a time of high dengue alert in Singapore.

But, wait. There's more...

Haha, two key words had become faded. "AIMS" can be just barely made out but "ZERO" is almost completed faded. So the full message is "Our Construction Site AIMS for ZERO Mosquito Breeding!"

This sign on the bus I boarded, on the other hand, is very clear in its message that you can't bring durians on board:

Yup, you can't even sneak in durians that are pre-packed in styrofoam boxes. Hello, SBS Transit, I'm available as your onsite durian inspector. All confiscated items are mine, of course.

And then there is this puzzling carpark exit sign (sent to me by KA):

So, did some silly fool paint a zebra (pedestrian) crossing right in front of where vehicles exit the carpark? Or is the sign alerting drivers to beware of (beware of? look out for/watch out for, lah!) just ONE pedestrian who -- for some reason -- likes to walk across that spot, perhaps back and forth repeatedly.

I found a similarly silly sign at a turnstile gate which connects to a path:

This one is even scary. The presumably moving bicycle you have to watch out for is not expected to have a rider; or there could be a ghost rider! The correct signage should be: "Watch out for cyclists".

Still on cyclist-related signs, I found these two online:


In an earlier blog entry, I had "noticed" this road sign that seemed to depict a man walking towards a flying saucer:

While I was in Hongkong, I spotted another strange sign -- a man walking his pet snake past a hill?...

So, doesn't this one here (with some imagination) look like some bug-eyed insect? Or space alien?

I think most people will know what it is, but I'll show the entire sign at the end.

This one is not local; it was sent to me by CC:


I have just a few more from the Incredibly India series:



And that full picture...


Keep Your Eyes Peeled

Finally, this link explains how the idiom above came about:

Friday, October 25, 2013

What 'ecosystem' really means.

Singaporean bureaucrats just seem to love the kinds of buzzwords and jargon that the spin doctors and the marketing/advertising world try to foist on everyone else. Apparently, the civil service buzzword that's in fashion is "ecosystem" (see yesterday's blog entry). By extension, the media seem to uncritically and happily go along -- with nary an effort to explain to the layman what the heck "ecosystem", as used, means. This example appeared today (Oct 25):

For good measure, the really silly phrase "going forward" was thrown in:

Isn't that understood just by having the words "will roll out" in the sentence? Was there a chance the HPB will be "going backwards" as it rolls out its plans?

Elsewhere, Britain's civil service is making an effort to arrest this spiralling decline into semantic spin:


How then should the term "ecosystem" be used by ordinary people. Here's a really good explanation:

And here are examples of how the marketing/advertising world uses this term:

So, if you are a believer in clear communication, just stick with that first definition above: An ecosystem is a community of living and non-living things that work together.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Did they say that?

I have a small collection of what I shall dub "Did they say that?" Warning: no one is spared...


Here's a reversal of the "banana syndrome" (yellow on the outside, white on the inside).


Wah, this man sure knows how to "angkat" his wife!




Body of evidence?


Aiyoh, how, how, when the Chief Justice uses empty buzzwords like "ecosystem"? (Also, very long, long sentence, meh.)


I rest my case on this one.


I'm including this one only because it gives me an excuse to rehash an old joke from my school days:

There were two brothers named Trouble and Shut Up. One day, a policeman came across Shut Up looking agitated, as if he was looking for someone or something.

Policeman: Young laddie, what are you looking for?
Policeman: Watch your tongue, boy. What's your name?
Shut Up!


And, finally, this is how I think those little Minions came about...