Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The Good Ol' Days

,u>29th May 2008, Thursday

My shipment from Amazon came in last evening as I pried open the box with anticipation even though the list of Blu Ray Discs and DVDs are already in the back of my hand since I bought online weeks before.
This led to an epiphany... "Do I really had all the time in the world to do everything I want to do at hand?"

Once again time is not a commodity or even a luxury I have despite I am much more fortunate than most of my fully employed peers.
I have no overtime to contemplate with (i.e. no extra pay)...
Seldom do I need to go back to work on weekends or public holidays...
Therefore my usual 9-5 weekday schedule, should yield enough time on the evenings and a complete 2 days weekend to satisfy my need to indulge in my own activities....

With the acquisition of the Playstation 3, my precious time is further divided in some console gaming.
Grand Theft Auto IV is a rough ride which not many gamers will put aside despite the intense violence and zero morality.
This Rockstar-made game had really packed plenty of information on the Blu Ray Disc and promised hundreds of hours of gameplay especially when you have to repeat car chase over and over again like myself who was still getting the knack of the 6 axis PS controller.
As much as I stand now I am barely 21% into the game, and another highly-anticipated game Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of Patriots will be hitting the store worldwide in less than 2 weeks time...
Gaming on the console will surely take up huge chunk of my time for the rest of the year...

But I am greedy in terms that I have to devote some of my time for other activities like a game I never grew tired of Football Manager on the PC as well as catching up on anime series, Japanese doramas and variety programs, American TV series and movies all stacked up for my viewing pleasure.
This left whatever time remaining for my regular internet affairs (surfing, blogging, updating of webpage, hooking up with friend on MSN),manga and even neglecting my beloved collectible figurines.
Most of the time I can multi-task but it somehow takes away the joy of it all...
Though coming to work is not a dread, I wonder what I could do to maximise the spare time (had quite a bit these days with work becoming sparingly available) for some personal affairs....internet is the best option.
But work does provide me the opportunity to work out which is good for the health, cos highly unlikely I will workout on my spare time.

With most of my favorite past time restricted to the comfort of my nest, going out may become peripheral and non-essential.. But that's not the case 'cos I still enjoy hanging out with the La Tendo clique over a game of badminton (maybe no more karaoke) or movies though it is getting rare these days...
Or perhaps hitting the stadium for live soccer now with Foo which could be catching on with our fervent support of local football these days.
And definitely gaming sessions with the wrecking buddy can always prise me away from my home anyday....

All these manic yearn of more time suddenly made me nostalgic especially chatting with Chan over the MSN as I mentioned that I used to go on manga-reading marathon in my younger days...
Circa the late 1980s and early 1990s, a time when there is slow PC or Amiga which only the privileged will own and internet is almost unheard of...
A time when we were still using cassette tapes instead of listening to MP3s...
A time when snail mail is still very much in use and calling friend is through the phone at home as pager was such elusive asset to own...
A time with no Playstation 3 or NDS, with Nintendo console which we had to chip in money to head to some obscure, seedy shophouses to get our regular gaming fix...
A time when there was no cable network and only video tape recorder, TV only started at 3 pm on weekdays and 1 pm on weekends....
A time with no iPods, no Youtube, no Blogs, no Facebook, no Bittorrents; perhaps one the younger generation would shudders at the thought of living in...

However it was at this era which i felt was the most enjoyable...
Growing up in a middle income family, we had the most contemporary toys to play with but we made do with what we had.
That suits me perfectly as I was the best to scavenging for whatever there is around to play with.
I can easily have hours of fun just fiddling with a bunch of erasers or buttons or a slab of plasticine...let alone actual toys like Lego bricks which let my creative juices flow or even some cheap China-made boardgames like "百万富翁 (Hong Kong Edition of Monoploy)", "斗兽棋 (Animal Chess)" or "飞机棋 (Aeroplane Chess)".
As mentioned I could simply spent some days of my school vacation, embarking on my marathon of manga or comic, usually borrowed from friends or simply re-read whatever I possessed... Dragonball, Mr Kiasu and those from Malaysian artist, Lat were my favorites.
I was also religiously borrowing books from the library in my community and seemingly every TV program and every piece of literature was an eye-opener and never amazes me. These days I just felt cycnical of everything around and seemingly nothing was good enough and seems to be recycled on TV or in books.
I would write my own tales or draw my own comic and the sky was the limit as I had all the time in the world to do all that...
My childhood also filled with recollections of flying kites in the slope near my flat, cycling around the void deck, lighting an entire playground of candles on Mid Autumn Festival, playing tiny explosives of mischief known as "Pop" during the Lunar New Year period, making artificial X'mas tree when we yearned to have a special X'mas as seen on TV and even stamp collecting...

In those days time was never a factor and I seldom grew bored of doing something seemingly trivial...
Surely it was those good old days to cherish and hope it will forever imprinted in the folds of my brain as I grew old...

Fast forward 20 years to the present... It is simply being spoiled for choices or perhaps the bane of adulthood, you tend to consider too much of the consequences or repercussions while doing something...We ought to be abit more child-like or even naive at times to simply enjoy life!

Well after going through the list of items that sap my time away, one outstanding absentee has to be time to spend with my other half.
I may be a big kid, but I am somebody's husband as well.
Although I am no "filial" husband like EK or romantic lover like my buddy TW, I still try to learn the trade to be a considerably acceptable one, tendering to my missus' needs in all aspects though it is hard to come by like leap years, shooting stars or striking lottery.
Fortunately she is understanding to my own needs and try to align herself to it. She had her own little thing going for herself, so we both have our own space.
However she was yearning for attention whenever she is around and it is hard for me to reciprocate in the midst of my indulgence.
With that said, I wonder if I had the time in the world, would I shower her with more attention and care or things remains status quo...I feel it would be the latter.
Lastly with everything going on in my routine but eventful life, I wonder if I could squeeze in one element that could wipe out all competitors to fight for my time... a baby....

Japanese word of the day: 大人~o-to-na~(Adult)Being an adult somehow
just kills the fun of living at times...

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Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The Under-Dolphins

27th May 2008, Tuesday

On Saturday, I answered the call of my fellow football-loving buddy, Foo who had been the main instigator for my recent surge in interest in local footballing scene, by heading down to his backyard to catch a live football match between home team, Sengkang Punggol and SAFFC in a round 14 tie of the latest season of our local professional league...

I had long history with this Singapore Sports Council-governed sports stadium, located barely 10 km or so from Ang Mo Kio since young when my Secondary School used to host our sports meet there and I recalled traveling all the way back home by foot...
We were last into our ailing football league was a good 5 or 6 years back when I was still in college and we would make effort to catch live games every fortnight or so but the interest eventually waned... But those were good times and I could masquerade as Secondary school students (really gullible of the ticketmasters to be deceived by the matured face of yours truly) by showing my bus pass;; in order to enjoy the special $1 ticket price.

Half a decade later, we came back to the same exact stadium where we witnessed a superb win (recorded as their biggest win) by Sengkang's previous incarnation, Marine Castle as they demolished Woodlands Wellington 4 goals to 1.
Our jubilations were recorded by the camera from our local TV station and I bemusingly informed Foo when I caught the highlights show on TV.
Nowadays there was no true highlight show to whet our appetite but then only a minority actually give a damn about local footballing scene, but secretly we hoped Singapore's successful run-in to the 2010 Worlc Cup could change the landscape.

Sengkang, our selected choice of club to support is the perennial minnows since their inception to the league many moons back.
Their woeful run of result makes every victory sweet and the objective every season was to not hold the honour of the wooden spoon.
This season was supposed to be a transition phase for the bottom side with a new gaffer at helms in former coach and ex-international fullback Saswadimata Dasuki (whom Foo pointed out how he had aged overnight with the entire crop of silver hair) taking over long-serving English coach, Trevor Morgan.
The season was buzzing with the signing of the goal-scoring veteran Mirko Gravobac from Tampines but little did they realized that he had problem passing the Beep Test at the ripe age of 36 and now served as an assistant coach to Saswa.
Seasoned players like Amos Boon, Tan Sio Beng, Farhan Farook etc were sold and released and there was a big overhaul in the foreign region with former Alibrex Niigata centerback Yamamoto and a couple of unknown Chileans signed onboard as well.

But our plights were soon realized when in 12 games, the Dolphins (Sengkang's nickname) failed to win losing 7 and drawn 5 before clinching their first win of the season in a home game just days before Saturday against the Young Lions.
Goal-scoring is the main issue at hand as in the early season Chilean striker Asenjo were injured and without Grabovac, Sengkang had a lost cause to find the scoring boots with Yamamoto scoring the first goal of the season for them.
However it was well made up by the true resilience of the defense which kept a few good clean sheets in 0-0 draws.

The opponents on Saturday was league leaders, SAFFC and the arm forces side who won the league last season was gaining from strength to strength, hoping to put another victory and more points clear of close rivals the resurgent Super Reds.

When we entered Hougang Stadium, the gallery seating was well sparse as we had anticipated but crowd were gushing in before the match between 3 quarter past 7 in a rather humid evening.
There were boisterous cheering and beating of drums on the left side of the gallery and the bnavy blue jersey the fans were wearing made us realized it belongs to the SAFFC traveling fans contingent who were never afraid shy about making themselves heard.
At this juncture we wondered were there actual Sengkang fans except the two of us.
We found good seating (which isn't hard) behind the media table where we saw 2 1970s footballing legend in Quah Kim Song & Dollah Kassim dropping by to have a taste of some local footballing action.
There were a couple of video camera to record down highlights of the match which one Foo pointed out to be from cable network Star Sports and the other we assumed to be from local tv network Mediacorp which had been under a baptism of fire for their lack of interest in our footballing scene.
A stone throw away, a local fan had his own tripod with a digital camera affixed to record the match for his own archiving.
That's the best part about local footballing stadium. With the exception of smoking within the premises (as the emcee kept emphasizing during breaks), you could basically bring anything into the stadium....

So the game began on time as Sengkang bouyed by a new sponsorship deal and the recent improvement of results, look to add another scalp.
The gulf of a difference was not evident for much of the game as the league leaders were finding it hard to beat the minnows in their own turf.
Boasting 6 national players (including 3 naturalized ones), 3 Japanese import and a Thai midfield wizard by the name of Thersak Chaiman, SAFFC should blow the underdogs away.
But recent stats shown that the Warriors (SAF's nickname) are reeling from tight schedule with AFC commitment as well had been now running a smooth engine despite the talents they had.
Beside a shot that hit the under side of the crossbar and rebounded out, the only good chance when reserve keeper Hafez Mawasi had a lucky effort to parry a goal-bound effort.
Our beloved home team didn't looked to be fazed by their more illustrious opponents as they carved out whatever opportunity possible counter attack with skipper Croatian, Zdravko Simic the one running the engine in the midfield.
He also had the best opportunity to score with a direct freekick which was on course towards the top left corner of the SAF's goal before custodian Sharil Jantan coolly grabbed it with his safe hands.
Kudos to vertically-challenge lone targetman, Fairoz Hassan in his flamboyant red boots.
Despite been well-shackled by Kenji Arai who dwarfed him with his built, he always tried to make a run at it and nearly carved a fluke chance at goal.

After a 15 minutes intermission, 2nd half was a nail-biting affair as SAFFC laid siege outside Sengkang's 30 yard box trying to find that elusive goal.
But their torrid accuracy at goal was further hampered by the goalkeeping of Hafez who even blocked a snap header from Duric who put the likes of Winston Yap and Ratna Suffian on their toes the entire night.
We then decided to labeled Hafez, "The Glass' considering how fragile he was everytime he went down after a good save and needed treatment from club physio.
Previously he looked dazed with oversized goalkeeping jersey, so we thought he look a bit psyched-out but now he should hold the No.1 spot since the actual No. 1, Adi Salleh seemed to had balloon after a constant diet of nasi lemak, kambeng soup and ayam goreng.

Sengkang tried to generate some counter attack on their left side which left a deep impression with Chilean leftback Luis Eduardo Hicks repelling some pressure from SAFFC winger Masahiro Fukasawa before trying to release his midfield counterpart the stocky Rozali "I want to play football" Johari who was perhaps the one true talent with attacking impetus for Sengkang.
Sengkang's midfielder Firdaus Salleh broke free towards goal in the final quarter of the game and was halted from an intentional tug by Arai which the referee only meekly rewarded a yellow card instead of sending the Japanese centerback off, much to the fury of the Sengkang supporters (at this point the attendance statistics stands at 2.4K which look more like 240 to me).
What's worst to follow as we entered the 4 minutes of added time...
Ratna Suffian who had another good performance seemed to had drew a foul just outside Sengkang's 30 yard box and a free kick was awarded.
Chaiman who had his freekick aimed at Serangoon several streets from the stadium didn't seem to miss from that range and the curler soundly beating the exhausted Hafez to much esctacy of the players and fans of SAF.
However it did seemed like the Thai midfield maestro might had carried his celebration too much and some Sengkang players nearly wanted to beat him into pulp.

So with that late drama and some injustice, Sengkang was robbed of a valuable point but the match was surely packed of drama which got the two of us well entertained.
Our under-dolphins surely did seemed unfazed by the challenges ahead and if they could get more attacking options when the transfer market opens up in July, Sengkang looks good on the rise...
The live game atmosphere surely got us into the mood for more and warmed us up enough for the crucial home game for the Lions against Uzbekistan in a week's time...

Japanese word of the day: 弾力性のある(Resilient) You can be down but should never be out

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Thursday, May 22, 2008

Reunion of the Clique

22nd May 2008, Thursday

Last Sunday, as reluctant as she is, Karen turned 30...I will be joining her and most of the rest in the "30 club" come November...

However her birthday celebration was a perfect platform to get the entire clique out since perhaps the Lunar New Year...
Haven't seen the likes of Bryan, Vincent and Miyano for a while, so it was a joyous occasion for all to behold.
The obvious absentees would be Ferris and his other half who were too caught up with the renovation of his new place.

For the past week, Chan had painstakingly coming out with the perfect gift idea for Karen as well as making the effort to get the birthday cakes... There might be something more to it but we shall not digress further.
We came straight from our Fullerton Hotel stay, and I was seemingly a bit overdressed for the occasion.
By 10pm, the gang was getting rowdy as the store was closing by 10 and we had a couple of special guests in EK's friend, Joan and Vincent's nephew, Stam. The LT staff such as KJ and Reynald were around for the initial cake cutting ceremony.

We bought 2 cakes for birthday girl Karen as well as Vincent who's birthday fell in late April but we only got to celebrate with him a month later.
It was also then we realized that our food-loving gentle giant friend despise durian as much as chocolate while his Japanese spouse too ain't a big fan of the king of all fruits.

We bought Vincent a 2008/2009 version of the Chelsea FC jersey to his delight while we create another of our endless mock gifts to Karen with that awful looking "Karen" figurine which god knows why La Tendo brought it in hoping some dumbass collector who splurge on it.

Vincent informed everyone that he was recovering from the brink of hysteria and stress from his work and he might be abnormal that night especially his behavior in the karaoke room...
Well the antics he pulled were all too normal for us and we needed it to set the night ablaze...
From doing head-banging to May Day's song to totally ruined Michael Learns to Rock's "Paint My Love" to rocking it out with Tay-chan with a medley of Wu Bai and Zhou Chuan s' songs and even hope on the centerstage with his nephew to do a parody of the young w-inds with "Be with You" which got the entire floor into uncontrollable laughing fit..I was even tearing while trying to finish the song....

Karen finally received her actual gift by stroke of midnight....Should be Takashimaya gift vouchers but miscommunication from Bryan who bought a hefty sum of Kinokuniya vouchers instead....

Vinny's Green Balloon, nicely dangled on his spectacles...

As usual, Vincent signed off with his signature song..."十分十二寸"

We left after that whiny George Lam Canto pop track and was startled by the $21 we had to pay for parking inside the shopping mall...damn bloodsucking management.
The bill for the karaoke session divided to around $50 per person which really was over the hill for me...no doubt it was enjoyable, what happen to those days when karaoke is no more than $10 or so...
I will surely forbid myself from anymore such karaoke session which sees my wallet getting lighter after each visit...
Japanese word of the day: 自由にしなさい (Unleash) Vinny surely had unleashed his suppression that evening

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Wednesday, May 21, 2008

A Slice of Luxury

21st May 2008, Wednesday

2003 was best remembered as the year Singapore was living in fear of the SARS epidemic which sent our city state in high alert to curb the deadly virus from claiming more lives as it should have.
Of course we do not want to re-enact the entire scene of 5 years ago but for a while in a boisterous city like ours where over-crowding was a way of life; it was quite refreshing to see streets devoid of much human activities or traffic.

Our retailing scene and more importantly tourism sector was badly hit during that 3 months of turmoil.
Local hotelier were trying hard to woo local people to fill up their rooms but one specific case of one patron contracting the virus from a local hotel see our paranoid republic refrained from coming into contact with any hotels housing foreigners which could be the transmitting agent of the flu virus.

However I was undaunted and jumped on the great offer, The Ritz Carlton Singapore, one of the premier 6-star awarded hotel locally which offered a night stay at mere $100+.
I made reservation for 2 rooms, one for the missus and myself and the other for my family.
I extended one more night for mine and the hotel was kind enough to upgrade from the Deluxe Room to the One Bedroom Suite.
We had a ball of the time back then and now whenever we walked past that jaded white building along Millenia Walk, we got that fuzzy feeling to stay there again.

After my recently-concluded ICT, my missus suggestively shown me a newspaper cutting of a package offer by another high-scale hotel, The Fullerton Hotel.
Having stayed in such luxurious accommodation (with great view of the Marina Bay) at Ritz Carlton, we didn't want to settle for anything less and we thought the Fullerton might be the only one comparable in terms of quality and service.

With my bonus, I felt it is ideal to treat the missus for a weekend stay over the long Vesak Day weekend and we had been looking forward to the stay since making the reservation weeks ago.
However our anticipation had been hampered by the persistent coughing she and I both contracted but I was fortunate to recover in time before the weekend.

We proceeded with the check in at around 4 after we got to utilise our off-peak transport after 3pm; and was greeted with hospitality from this Malay receptionist, Samad or something.
He duly brought us to our "Quay Room" at level 7 which had a great view towards the Merlion Park as well as the floating platform and Singapore Flyer across the bay.

You get to see name emblem of the hotel from our balcony

My sister and her beau dropped by while roaming around town came into conclusion that the standard room at Fullerton pales in comparison to that of Ritz Carlton, in terms of size, furnishing and of course the latter has a bathroom with ample space and a nice scenic view...

The box on the study table is the complimentary bath robe that come with the "Time for 2" package. The missus however was more smitten with the woolen flip flops

Didn't really did much except for waiting for our in-room 4 course dinner and we were both famished at that juncture though was mildly alleviated by some tasty pies from Sis...
We had arranged for the dinner to be serve at 6.30pm and it didn't took them long to fulfill that timing as this dining staff pushed in the foldable dining table on wheels and an incubator in built to keep the food warm.
I felt with the hefty weight of the crockeries, it was better for her to set all the dishes on the small table.
There wasn't too much room to maneuver once the table was sandwiched between the study table and the armchair...

Appetizer: Deep-fried Chicken Dumpling with caviar and salad

Soup: Some creamy soup with scallops and go well with bread

My main dish: Bak-kut Teh flavored Lamp with Asparagus

Her main dish: Steamed Sea Bass

Desert: Cranberry pastry or something

Complimentary bottle of red wine (in the package as well) which we saved for the night. I was too absorbed with the preview show of the FA Cup final between Portsmouth and Cardiff City that evening.

The food was quite satisfactory and filling and we even received a buzz from one of their managers hoping to gather any feedback on the dinner and offered us coffee and tea just as we were leaving for La Tendo in Kallang.

The Fullerton Hotel was just 8 storey-high as they preserved the original Fullerton building. The guest rooms span the entire perimeter of the building with a hollow center where we could access via sky bridges from one side of the building to the other

While we left the key at the counter, we made the enquiry on whether we could be granted a late check out (which was subjected to whether the rooms are in demand) and got a positive reply from this helpful Indian supervisor who also arranged for the bubblebath (another item in the package) to be set up by 1 in the morning which was the time I thought we would reach back after crooning for the karaoke party.

In the end we only made it back by 4 in the morning.. By then we could only enter the building via the front door and there was just a lone soldier at the counter.
We scurried back to our room, hoping the bubblebath wouldn't go to waste and were glad it was still intact and the water still reasonably warm...
So the feature romance moment was the bath with scented tea candles all around and red wine which tasted rather cheap though.

We were knocked out and struggled to wake up by 9.30 in the next morning as we wouldn't want to give the buffet breakfast a miss, not especially me...

The buffet at the Town Restaurant didn't seems to boast a variety to be on par with that from Ritz Carlton but then again it could be we were rather late.
It was a window of opportunity to check out the nationality of our fellow patrons.
As expected a majority were the "ang mohs" who seemingly like to dine along the walkway towards the Cavenagh bridge along the Singapore river.
There were some wealthy Indonesian Chinese and a few Indian expats as well.
What I like about our local hotels is that they rarely discriminate between local and foreigners in terms of service which was evident during my Koh Samui stay.
The missus checked out the final bill (it was included in the package) but we still get to see the actual price which added to around $40 odd per person.
Luckily we need not pay 'cos the missus had poor appetite and nibbled on a bit while I just want to sample whatever there was on offer...

Because of the late check-out we were able to go for a quick swim in the pool which is a miserable stretch with mere 1.5m depth.
But it overlooked the Singapore River and you can check out people heading towards the Asian Civilization Museum as well as the bank buildings on the left.
We also had a look at the gym and spa which despite being rather small in scale, are pretty well equipped.

Another round of dipping in the bubble bath before we packed up and checked out as the staff said with formality to see us again...
Overall the hotel might had lived up to its billing but we spent too little time to maximise the pleasure of the place.
Service is impeccable but other factors like bath amenities, buffet breakfast etc fell short of our expectations.
Time to source another grand hotel to stay in the future then...

Japanese word of the day: 贅沢 (luxury) Conrad Hotel might be the next destination of luxurious living

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Monday, May 12, 2008

End of the Road

12th May 2008, Monday


As the penultimate game of the 2007/2008 season of the English Premier League drew to a close last evening, the fixture that see Man Utd and Chelski went down the wire to see who will win the championship, my beloved Red Devils just managed to squirm a result against Wigan coached by Man Utd's former skipper, Steve Bruce of all people.
The Blues fell short as they would need to whipped Bolton 21 nil at home by then but when Giggs clocked that record appearance for Man Utd and poked in the 2nd goal at the JJB Stadium, it surely wasn't curtain close as fans of the team perhaps the world loathe the most went off to celebrate Fergie's 10th title and Man Utd's 17th overall.
We just needed 2 more to pip Liverpool as the most successful English club and surely hope grand patriarch, Sir Alex will still be there to see it through.

It was a close battle in the relegation scene when Reading and Birmingham fought for survival with the skin of their teeth with big wins over Derby County and Blackburn respectively but Fulham's victory at Fratton Park over host Portsmouth just set the 2 to doom.
Seriously all the teams struggling with relegation (inclusive of Wigan, Sunderland & Middlesborough) didn't seem half bad..with the exception of Derby County for sure.
Doubt the likes of West Brom and Stoke City could match the caliber of this season relegation battlers.

Other European leagues are concluding next week or so and there are a couple that are down the wire as well...
But I am surely supporting the underdogs in this case such as Roma over Inter in Serie A and Borduex over Lyon in French Liga.
Nobody likes a particular club hogging a certain league with the exception of Man Utd of course...heehee

This week marks the end of the road for my closest confidante at work BY.
It is kind of muted on the effects of her departure is on me especially I am not particularly close to anyone else remaining in the office.
Her departure might be positive as my morale might not turn for the worst with her constant complaining and whining but we surely lost a source of entertainment and gossiping.

Her harding mode also helped for the rest of us and her absence will surely be felt as the one taking over just ain't competent enough despite holding a dud Master degree from some dubious American college.
The latter's ominous faction will continue to proliferate once their usual whistle-blowers like BY as well as Shin depart.
I told myself to keep a close eye on their activities but when they stepped on my tail, I wonder how big a reaction I will gather for my rebuttal.

I surely will miss BY's presence as I travel home daily but just had to live with it...

Kudos for the one who pull me into the great place (at least for the recognition, self confidence and most importantly promotion and pay increment since I hopped over) I am now...
We may work again in the near future...we never knows

Japanese word of the day: 道~mi-chi~(Road) I don't think I will see my end of this road as wyet...

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Sunday, May 11, 2008

Going High Definition

11th May 2008, Sunday

It's Mother's Day Sunday... In Singapore, it's another great opportunity for restaurant retailing to milk on supposedly filial children who showed their appreciation to their favorite person on the ailing earth, their mother by bringing them to dine and wine at the finest.
The same children who showed more in-fighting and ugly courtroom drama to ultimately claim some inheritance or something...

I do not born myself with a silver spoon in my mouth but I truly love my parents and I think I had done my best as a good son though at the end of the rainbow, their greatest desire as a traditional Chinese parent is to be able to have great time with their grandchildren...well we'll see but just for today we'll have to settle for some Golden Pillows instead...
Wanted to bring them out for a meal but Mom felt it might be overcrowding everywhere and most probably she is right and customer service would most probably in the ultimate worst; so nothing better than to stay in the comfort of our home for another lazy Sunday before yet another long week ahead.

Yesterday I went out and got myself the following:

I am surely not a serious gamer and never bought myself a home entertainment game console in a while as I know I might neglect other great things in life.

However with my close friends being advocating for this ingenious blackbox from the money-crazy IT company which I had loathed for a while now and vowed off buying their products, I had also contemplating on maximizing the capability of my LCD TV which surely with its 720 progressive projection, or something a bit more High Definition.

Sony recently won the tug of war for setting the benchmark for the next generation of video storage capability in their Blu Ray technology over Toshiba's HD-DVD and now the former though still slow is set to set the scene ablaze.
We as IT-philes should get into the act and try to jump onto the bandwagon and I had always been interested to see the great difference visually for how high-def the Blu Ray discs can project as comparison to the ordinary DVD which had ruled the scene for the last 10 years or so.

So after finding the best deal in town for the 40GB Playstation 3, and a rather hard time setting it up with the HDMI cable and all (cos my TV was mounted to the wall which left little room to work with), we had a great time for our eyes with "Click" borrowed from Chan.

In total spent a good $750 or so on the console, a HDMI cable, one PS game (Grand Theft Auto 4), a composite cable (to make use of auxiliary audio output function of the home theater system), and some multi-plug hub as I have only one measly power point to hook up all the IT stuff in the room.
I also made use of some Takashimya voucher which I was rewarded for my long service award during the Dinner N Dance this year to purchase a 6 axis controller with dual shock capability which is all good as it would chalk up another $73 or so.

It was sort of like a reward for myself after the bonus which is still a week to arrive, so I am committing something blasphemous at this point.

But much gratitude to my dear La Tendo clique-mates Chan who had been a strong reference for me to make my decision for the console and EK for the contact with the game shop which they had allegiance to since they had provide the latter with some figurines for sale, thus resulting in a rather good deal.
Of course my wrecking buddies who themselves are avid gamers, especially CS who was present at the game shop to render some useful advices along the week as well.
And finally the missus who had been understanding to my splurging need and helping me to set the console up with her patience.

So it is all green for a good time of High Definition!

P/S: Let's cross our fingers for Man Utd to notch a victory over Wigan and pip Chelski for the title on this penultimate final day game.

Japanese word of the day: 高精細度 (High Definition) Hey we are living in the 21st century afterall man...wake up and smell the coffee!

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Monday, May 05, 2008

Great Bonanza!

5th May 2008, Monday

I stared at my first complete 5 days work week for the first time in a month, with a tingling feeling of anticipation.
With the biannual employee appraisal done up by late February, and the HR staff from the Headquarters evaluating the thousands of employees under the main parent network, every single of us were looking forward to a handsome bonus come April and for my company it's delayed till May.

While news of employees from sister companies getting burgeoning bonus package even the hellhole known as my previous company were spreading like wild bush fire in the States, we were hoping the unexpected market adjustment we enjoyed last year didn't bite back on us.

Unlike last year when we went down to the HR at their beck and call from individual email sent to collect that "sacred" letter, this year they just sent the entire batch of letters to P.Is of individual group and let them do the distribution.
So our favorite shitty green shirt wearing postman went around his call of duty, with that smug on his face as if he was Santa Claus or something.

It was indeed good news on my side. I got the promotion as promised, a double promotion instead and perhaps the biggest bonus package in my 6 years of employment.
After relishing my "dream come true", I started to reflect on the fact that this bonanza ain't that great afterall.
Despite having a two-stepped promotion, my pay increment seems to be only that of a single promotion but it would be asking too much for them to up my pay to 20% or something.

Then the bonus package was barely higher than the average rate dished out to the entire network of research institutes for the last fiscal year, so nothing too outstanding.

At the end of it, I was too overjoyed by the letter but meekly satisfied for the work I had put in the last year and perhaps I should be a bit more appreciative as next year's would be another tale altogether as we braced for a lousy year ahead as we would first see the sign of it when the government announced the average bonus package for their civil servants and since we are a statutory board, we would be affected more or less.

Soon after we received the letter, our French boss came scurrying towards BY to check on whether she had gotten the promotion as promised.
It seems like my long-time colleague did got promoted but it is unlikely to deter her from moving on and she would be finishing up her final 2 weeks here after tendering in her resignation and clearing her annual leave accumulated from last year after the 15th.
Her absence would surely be missed by some individuals in this faction-segregated workplace.

As for myself, I am now doing some budgeting on my head on what novelty items I am going to reward myself with as well as giving the folks some extra money the next month and saving up for more overseas trips in the near future...

It seems like my wrecking buddies had to celebrate Mother's Day on coming weekend, so our highly-anticipated gaming session is off for this week.
I had requested the lads to push to Vesak Day on the Monday after, so one more week to endure for that...

Japanese word of the day: どん欲 (Greedy) Man is a greedy creature afterall...give you a dollar you surely want 5...