Saturday, December 4, 2010

Connexions - sandals and superglue

My favorite pair of sandals came to grief this rainy morning.
I been wearing them for 2 years now and  it is the most comfortable pair I have ever worn.
I bought them 2 years ago in Thailand, a local Thai brand called Calvin.
This morning, the rubber sole cracked while I was walking to the market.

Despite its age, it is still in excellent condition and it will really sadden me to dispose them.
So the next best thing - Repair. With superglue!

While doing the repairs, an amusing thought ran through my mind.
It's so surprising that  many people  do not know how to use superglue. 
I know this for a fact because I have seen people, including many of my colleagues, applying globs of superglue on stuff and they still say that it doesn't work or stick properly!

Superglue does not work straight out of the tube! Surprise surprise!
If it did, you would never be able to get the cap off, being stuck to the tube by the glue itself.
Yet, the cap never sticks to the tube. Why is this so?
If superglue is so strong, it stands to reason that the cap will be permanently glued to the tube, right?

The simple reason is that superglue needs another agent or catalyst to start its super bonding process.
By itself, superglue is inert but add a little moisture and the bonding reaction immediately takes place.

So, in order to use superglue, add water! or rather just wet the surface so that some moisture is available to kick start the bonding. That's the same reason why superglue sticks on your skin! Your skin is full of moisture and we all know how difficult it is to get rid of superglue from our fingers!

My sandals have just been repaired with the moisture coming from the rain soaked soles. The bond set within a minute and now I hope that sandals can last me another 6 months before I need to replace them. Ah ha! another good reason to travel to Thailand!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Getting it back from the bus companies.

How often do you look at the fare card reader on disembarking? Like most commuters, I rarely give it a glance. As long as I hear the beep, I assume that the fare has been correctly deducted from my EZ-Link stored value card.

How much was the fare and how much was deducted are not in my mind. I usually glance at the readout for the balance left in the card in that fleeting moment that the details are flashed.

We have become so complacent that we actually never bother to find out the cost of our bus or train trips. As long as we have enough value in our cards, we simply proceed with our journey.

When the bus and train companies implemented the new distance related fare structure in July, I still had not changed my habits. But I did note that the bus trip to my office would now cost $1.33.

Then about 2 months back, I noticed that on some trips the meter would read $1.37 instead of $1.33. At that time, I simply put it as technical glitch and though just a bit irritated over the excess didn't bother about the additional 4 cts charged.

Then it started to snowball, and that made me a bit suspicious that something might be happening with the bus fares. Were the bus companies knowingly overcharging and making an extra dollar without the commuter being the wiser? 

Mentally I worked out that at 4 cts a trip, I would have paid an additional $30 extra a year just to get to my office. This was unjustified! Imagine multiplying this by the number of passengers taking the bus each day! The amount would be a staggering scandal.

So I decided to fight back and claim for that tiny amount of 4 cents on a matter of principles. The bus company is not entitled to charge me extra for the journey, so why should I give them the 4 cents?
On the contrary, if I had underpaid by 4 cents, they have the 'right' to impose a penalty of $20 on me according to their regulations. So what right have they to take extra from me and get way with it?!

On the Transitlink website I found a Refund Claim Form and sent it off.  Refunds once approved would be made either by direct inter-bank transfer, by cash, by cheques or by vouchers. I opted to take a voucher.
Within 2 days I had a reply from the bus company.

I had expected to get a voucher for 4 cents but what I got was a 'complimentary' voucher for a free bus trip. Truth is, it wasn't totally complimentary as it had cost me 4 cents, but at least I could use it for a journey beyond 4 cents distance with their compliments, ha ha.

As of today, I have claimed a total of 4 vouchers from the bus company. Not a bad reward for getting back at them for overcharging.

The bus companies yesterday (Nov 23, 2010) were reported by the media as admitting to having overcharged commuters to the tune of $300,000 since implementing the new fare structures. They are now trying to work out a scheme to refund all the excess back to commuters, but I really doubt if most would bother, as admittedly most passengers were overcharged 4 cents.

Dividing $300k by an average of 4 cents means almost 7.5 million rides were overcharged and the media had reported that only 180 commuters had made claims for overcharging! Talk about apathy! But I am very sure that 99% are unaware that they were overcharged.

Here is the full newspaper report from Straits Times of 23 Nov 2010  if you wish to read the article.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Let's get physical

Let's get physical, physical,
I wanna get physical!

Today,  I went for my quarterly physical checkup at the government polyclinic.
Actually it was more for the doctor consultation as I went for the blood and urine tests last week with the results only being released today.  And what's the prognosis?

Here it is, for the world to see...

Click for a more detailed image.

I underwent an ECG test at the same time and the above chart show everything's normal with the my ticker. Except for some signs of left ventricular hypertrophy, which is still OK.

More important to me were the results for the Big Three! (Diabetes- Hypertension-Cholesterol).

At my last visit to the doctor in August, I had my cholesterol medication changed from Lipitor to Simvastatin, the more generic form of medicines (statins) to control cholesterol, and was anxious to see if it had worked. The earlier Lipitor medication had brought my cholesterol levels down from a high of 200+ to 145 (even down to 139 mmol/L at one stage). If it had not worked for me, I would have requested a switch back to Lipitor despite the higher cost.

Here is the official lab report.

Lab Results


Dipstick, U


Glocuse, U

Bilirubin, U

Ketone, U

Specific Gravity

Blood, U
Trace intact

pH, U

Protein, U

Urobilinogen, U
0.2-1.0 mg/dL

Nitrite, U

Leucocytes, U

Hypertensive Panel

135-150 mmol/L

3.5-5.0 mmol/L


3.8 (145)
Desirable <5.2 mmol/L

Borderline High 5.2-6.1 mmol/L

High >= 6.2 mmol/L

Desirable<1.7 mmol/L

Borderline High 1.7-2.2 mmol/L

High 2.3-4.4 mmol/L

Very High >=4.5 mmol/L

0.97 (38)
Low <1.0 mmol/L

Desirable 1.0-1.5 mmol/L

High >=1.6 mmol/L

2.02 (77)
Optimal <2.6 mmol/L

Desirable 2.6-3.3 mmol/L

Borderline High 3.4-4.0 mmol/L

High 4.1-4.8 mmol/L

Very High >=4.9 mmol/L

Chol: HDL Ratio
>4.5 High Risk for CHD

Glucose Fasting
3.0-6.0 mmol/L

10-70 U/L

10-50 U/L

In short, my cholesterol has remained stable at 145 mg/dL (3.8 mmol/L).
Glucose level is in the optimal range.
Just to watch my salt intake and exercise a bit more!

The cost of the tests and consultation? S$66.14 but I only paid $38.40 for everything, inclusive of 3 months medication, as the rest was covered by Medisave.

My next quarterly check is due at the end of January 2011.
Stay healthy, eat healthy and live long!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Eternal rest

I was at the Saturday Novena at St Alphonsus Church at Thomson Road yesterday. Fr Simon Pereira preached at the service. He had just returned from Malaysia where he celebrated the Feast of St Anne.

His homily was about grandparents and how they always seemed to be the oasis of calm, support and peace for the grandchildren, as opposed to parents who, in comparison, are usually made out to be the boogeyman. His homily in part was due to the fact that St Anne was the mother of Mary, vis-a-vis, the grandmother of Jesus.

His words brought forth memories of my own grandparents, especially now being less than a week ago that I attended to the re-interring of my grandparents remains.

My maternal grandmother, Mary Lee, was exhumed from CCK cemetery, while my grandfather, Louis Goh, together with an uncle Sylvester  who passed even before I was born, were exhumed from St Joseph Church cemetery. They were re-interred at the Franciscan Columbarium at my parish Church of St Mary of the Angels on 4the August 2010.

The Franciscan Columbarium is one of the best designed I've seen anywhere. The atmosphere here is one of calm and serenity throughout. I have already reserved a niche for myself and my wife. This was part of the fundraising effort towards the re-construction of St Mary. Sounds a bit morbid, but here in a typically Singaporean manner, it's planning for the future as well and doing your part for society.

When my time comes, I'll be at St Anthony #6022. My grandparents are just a room away at St Bonaventure #4132.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Should I tell the Pope I was an abused child?

Poor Pope Benedict XVI.

He's having a crisis of major proportion arising all over his domain. From USA to Italy, Ireland to Malta, paedophile priests are popping up faster than you can say Holy St Joseph!

But if you know the history of the Catholic Church, he will survive it through, no doubt about this. The Catholic Church has been in existence for 2000 years. It is the only organisation existing today that has survived every other government, regime, dynasty or political entity in history. And it is essentially the same organisation from the beginning till now. Think of what it takes to do that and the power it wields to keep the organisation going for all this time! In other words, don't mess around with the Catholic Church!

Scandals have rocked the church before, some to its very core, like the Reformation, but ultimately, the Church continues to survive.  Having some deviant priests and religious are nothing new, why even the infamous and scandalous Borgias became Popes! The only difference today is the speed at which scandals are broadcasted throughout the world. And with ambulance chasing lawyers out for fame and a quick buck, the scandals are easily blown way out of proportion.

But that is not to say I condone any sexual misdemeanour by the priests, and I do sympathise with  those victimised young minors and the trauma they went through.

His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI has been invited to visit Singapore next year. President SR Nathan extended his invitation through Foreign Minister George Yeo just last week.

Hmm, maybe this would be a good opportunity for me to tell the Pope of a shame that I carried for the last twenty odd years?

I want to tell him I was a victim of child abuse. I want the chance to tell him face to face and see him weep like he did in front of the victims in Malta.

Yes, I was an abused child and I have the evidence to prove it.

For all my adult life, I carried what I assumed were birthmarks on my body.  Hell, I even remembered being told by my mother that they were birthmarks. When I got married, my wife inquired about them and out of the blues it struck me that the marks were suspiciously not congenital!

No CSI  experts are required to tell me that my 'birthmarks' are an exact match of some despicable person's finger positions! Here are the photographic evidence to prove it.


These 'birthmarks' are the remnants of the abuse that I suffered as a child! No doubt about this too. Only that I have no memory of who did this despicable act. Someone pinched me so hard that the bruises became permanent.

Yes, I want to tell Pope Benedict XVI that I was an abused child. I want His Holiness cry for me!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Good Friday 2010, April 2nd.

          I was in church this morning for Good Friday service. The church was packed, with an additional 1000 seats outside on the piazza, and this was only 1 of 4 services scheduled for the day.

          As usual, the theme for almost every Good Friday always revolve around The Passion of the Christ. Friar John Paul preached on the symbolism of the cross. Over the years, I have heard many variations on this theme,  but of all the sermons that I can remember, only one has been vividly etched deep into my brain.

Back in 1987, there was a visiting missioner, Franciscan Friar Desmond Lean ofm, who was invited to preach at the Good Friday service. To paraphrase his sermon this was what he preached...

"When I look at the cross, 3 things come to my mind," then he told a story of his little niece Sarah. "Sarah, do you love your uncle Des? how much do you love uncle Des? Do you love me this much?" making a gap with his index finger and thumb.  Sarah shook her head.
"Do you love me this much?" making a space between his two palms about the size of a breadbox. Sarah shook her head again.  "then how much do you love your uncle Des?"
Sarah said, "I love you this muchhh!" and spread her arms outstretched.

I love you this muchhh!

"The second thing I see when I look at the cross is that it is a crossroad where the directions converge onto one  point. And like all things in life, Christ should be where all our directions lead to.

The third thing I see when I look at the crucifix is that it is on the back. The cross is something we bear, a burden that can be heavy at times but it is always on our backs. It is something we carry all our life."

Friar Des Lean's words struck a chord right within me at that time and has remained with me all these years. I remember Fr Des Lean.  (extract courtesy of Bro George Boggs ofm)

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Big Brother is watching- Paranoia or security at the station?

Recently I noticed that security cameras were being installed at the Bukit Batok MRT station.
Nothing unusual in that, except that as the days progressed, the number of cameras being installed were sprouting all over the station!

Today out of curiosity, I actually took a walk to the station just to count the number of cctv cameras being installed.
I counted 53 cameras all over the station. And this number was just the concourse and surroundings and excluded those inside the station and on the train platforms!
Mind you even with this unusually large array of cameras, half the station is being refurbished and as yet has not had cameras installed.

Really makes you wonder why the need for so many cameras. Practically every inch of the station is under surveillance.

I am not aware if the same security features are being implemented at other MRT stations but it seem so ridiculous to see so many security cameras in just one location.

Who knows, eventually we'll end up like in London, with 1 million cameras they can track your every movement in the city on their surveillance monitors!

Big Brother is watching......

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Going blind and getting your brain frozen

I went for a medical test at the hospital last week that really freaked me out.
It's called a fluorescein angioplasty

Basically, it was taking photos of my eyeballs! Yes, eyeballs.
The inside and the back where the retina is.
That's what it looks like above.

The whole experience was truly surreal.

It was exactly like those sci-fi movies of aliens doing medical operations on abductees. The whole scene is blurry, lots of wires, tubes, weird sounds and flashes of coloured lights.

It starts with the nurse giving you eye drops which dilates the pupil in your eye. This makes everything you see not only blurry but very very bright. Its like looking at the world through frosted glass. When your eyes are fully dilated, you are led into a darkened room. omg! It's full of machinery, wires, tables of syringes, medical equipment and what not.

The doctor then comes in and injects a yellow dye (sodium fluorescein) into your blood vessel. He keeps peering into your eyeballs with his scope and then after an eternity says "OK." This is when the technician leads you to humongus machine and straps you in! (just kidding ha ha). You are seated at a machine called a Fundus Camera. Your eye is pressed against a viewing scope and the technician shoots a laser light into your eye to take measurements.

Once he's ready he says "ok look at the red light and don't blink".
What happens next can only be described as having a 7-11 Slurpee brain freeze x 100! Flash! flash! flash! flash! flash!
Bursts of bright flashes rips through your eye, and while there is no physical pain, the torture is like having your brain frozen in an instance! The pain is pure and mental!
Then, the whole process is repeated with the other eye, at the end of which you are totally blinded, literally. Your eyes, as well as your mind, are completely blacked out.
The guy who invented the fundus camera must have worked for the Inqusition or gestapo previously.

A funny side effect is that the dye in the blood takes a while to be discharged from the body.
Your urine is bright fluorescent yellow for the next few days!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Uncle will scold you !

This is the most irritating, most irresponsible statement I always hear, especially on the shop floor where I work. Mind you it happens also at places like supermarkets, foodcourts and where children run amuck.

Uncle will scold you ! What a bloody cop out by stupid parents and child minders. What I hate about this is the irresponsible parent or grandparent who make me out to be the boogeyman. Uncle will scold you!

Instead of trying to make their child understand what is right or wrong, they instill fear into the child and push the blame to others who happened to be nearby! No wonder so many children grow up so misguided nowadays. I am not the boogey man, I do not scold children, nor have I scolded them for being children.

Children are naturally curious. They touch things, they feel stuff, they make a mess of displays but they are learning, they are growing in their curiosity and intellect. Instead of teaching proper values like "you shouldn't take what is not yours.." they say "Uncle will scold you!"

This is so typical of singaporean parents today. I have heard this once too many times, and yes, there was once when I really told off the mother. "I do not scold children but I think you should teach them the proper things instead of telling them that I will scold them!" I said.

So parents please. Uncle does not scold children but Uncle will scold the parents instead.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Farmville fan

I am a fan of Farmville.
Yes, like 74 million others out there, I too, have been swept up by the current rage on the social networking site Facebook.
Of my current 149 listed friends I have on Facebook, 76 of them have indulged in, or still playing the same silly game. Farmville is a phenomenon given it's simplicity.

I play Farmville as a means of de-stressing after a day's work. It's a totally mindless activity. All you want is to move up to the next level. And to do this you simply plow your fields, plant your crops and later harvest it.
That's it, it's a no brainer.
Along the way, you can add farm animals and trees. And neighbours help too, by giving you gifts.

Yet it's addictive, even entertaining, and you do get some sense of achievement when you see your farm increasing and you are rewarded with more experience points, known as XPs in the game.

While I was starting this blog, I realised that the mechanics of Farmville had long been available.
Remember Tamagotchi?
That was the rage back in the mid 90s and almost every child and young person had at least one.

Basically, Farmville's game is based on the same simple principle. Grow your crop and continually maintain it or else it'll die.

As of now, I am at Level 61 with 352,301 XP. I swear I will stop when I reach Level 70.