Wednesday, December 31, 2008

No Expectation for the New Year

31st December 2008, Wednesday

So we came to the final day of 2008...seriously 2008 doesn't feel like a complete year to me, more of like a few months which juxtaposition 2007 & 2009, well we'll see if 2009 itself feels like a year in 365 days...

On the macro, 2008 saw a new American president and more importantly the historical first black president to be elected.
In this time and age, the color of our skin as well as gender has reach a level of equality yet somehow there are still classes between the wealthy and the poor which increased exponentially with the financial turmoil.
The Bush regime left the States as well as the rest of the world in major debt and the subprime situation had caused such a tsunami experts were saying it will take the latter part of 2010 to see us back to the good days....so plenty to be pessimistic about 2009.
Though my sector had been given reassurance from the government, we can never rest on our laurels could we...to cut cost , the HQ might come out with drastic measures, so I better prepare for the worst.
As for now the employment status of me, the missus as well as the rest of the family remains status quo, and I hope it will stay so come the new year.

There are been alot of chaos in recent months for our fellow Asian nation and our attention had always been with our Japanese cousins.
Aside for the incredible hike in the yen rate, everything seems fine over there, though not as rosy as the new Prime Minister Aso had wanted it to be.
In Taiwan Ma Ying Jeou toppled the Green power while the out-going president Chen Shui bian is now facing the wrath of his corruption behind bars.
In Thailand we saw 3 PMs taking the seat of Thaksin who went from owner of Manchester City to a seeker of foreign asylum.

In local aspect, 2008 gave us plenty of excitement with our 1st silver medals from the Olympics as well as the inaugural F1 night race which received plenty of accolades.
Our Lions had a good showing in the 1st ever 3rd Qualifying round of the World Cup but sorely missed our 3rd Asean Cup.
We saw increase in price of public transport, telephone bills, electrical bills due to the erratic price of crude oil while COE dropped to the unheard of level of $1 for below 1600CC vehicles (while my missus' interest in owning our own car was not subjected to changes in COE of course).
Mas Selamat was still not to be found while Venerable Mingyi followed the footsteps of T T Durai.

In sports, Man Utd did the double while Spain got alot of reprieve with a spectacular year with the Euro 2008 victory, Nadal winning many Grand Slams and their cyclists doing well on Tour de France.
Michael Phelps won unprecedented 8 golds in the Olympics while Usain Bolt is really a bolt of lightning on the tracks.
Lewis Hamilton just barely beat Felipe Massa in F1 while Boston Celtic claimed the NBA title but not for long.
Heath Ledger joined the likes of Paul Newman & Bernie Mac in the obituary this year but The Dark Knight took the cinema by storm.
While Mariah got married again and Madonna got divorced, Britney made a comeback well so did Boyzone...
In the Asian scene, Lydia Sum would be missed but not really will Edison Chen who is now the unofficial hero to many testosterone-driven guys.
A pretty good year for Japanese movie scene with Studio Ghibli's "Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea" and "Hana Yori Dango F" drawing big crowd to the cinema while Taiga dorama, Atsuhime once again drew the younger demographic to watch the yawn-inducing (not to yours truly) history lessons.
Tetsuya Komuro got arrested for swindling while Koda Kumi got into trouble over some quick words which offend the feminists.
People are still wondering if SMAP would still be a group come 2009 while their predecessors could jolly well be Arashi who had a great 2008 with many chart topping hits including the number hit on the year end Oricon chart.

On the domestic front, I bought Playstaion 3, a new iPod, a new CPU, a new home theater system, a really dear Shure earphones a new mobile and won an iPod shuffle while the missus topped the IT spending with a new laptop.
It also spelt a year of bad luck we had with our gadgets which is well documented.
Not to be outdone, my old man got a new LCD TV for the living room which also saw the previous CRT one got burnt to non-existent.

My parents enjoyed many trip to Genting as well as a short escapade to Hainandao while the missus enjoyed none for the year as she looked at me begrudginly for my 4 days stint to Japan for the Wonder Festival in February.
In April I went Kao-hsiung again for ICT and hope to not see the gloomy southern Taiwan pcity but seems like the Navy just wouldn't let me go for the new year again.

At work, the likes of BY and my French supervisor left for greener pastures while I was changed my work scope after the 1st quarter which see me working in sync with His Beautiness, yes he is still around.
Shitty Green became slightly more tolerable but he would not be around much for the new year.
While my previous employers saw major axing of lab and staff who many jumped ship over here, I look forward to my 7th year of employment (riciculously long in Singapore standard) in 2009, seemingly rather contended with my wage package, benefits and even my designation.
One of the main attraction at work, the gym is rumored to be closed in the future and I am crossing my fingers it would not be realized...I don't want to be lerthagic at work again.

Though we had not meet up as much due to the distance required to traveled to the new shop at Kallang, the La Tendo clique is still as closely knitted as ever with several new inductions, hope for more in 2009.
Had alot more of good times with my buddies especially ranting about movies, TV shows and local soccer with Foo while moaning at our luck with supporting Sengkang Punggol.
For most of 2008, I had been hounding CS to fix my PC but he was truly glad I join the PS3 community which see an exponential growth this year with the likes of Foo and Ferris being "baptised" into the knighthood as well.
As for TW, he pop the question to his lass somewhere in October or November but it took him a trip to San Diego to have the epiphany about getting hitch.
It's been a while since I last saw the likes of Selina and Cheryl but both seems well with their respective hubbies and their new homes.
Lastly lost much contacts with my University friends though the occasional meet-up on wedding banquets, same for friends from the Secondary schools.
Overall I had grew to be much more a hermit if I was a major one previously in the year of 2008...sad but true

While most of the spending had been on IT products, I had tried to curb spending on my hobby which see the reduction for figurines channeled to perhaps console games as well as my new found love for amazon and their great offers in DVDs.
Had not wander into any major investments though my current CPF ones are giving headaches as the government change some ruling which embargo transfer of funds unless a minimum of 20K is met in each acocunt.
As I felt most of 2008 just zooms past me without a squeak, my time might not had spent as useful as I hope them to be; then again no point remorsing over loss time...perhaps 2009 will see me making better use of whatever time I have.
Health wise, being pretty fit for the past year which is a blessing but there were several niggling issues which I hope will not make a return in the new year.

Finally marriage... Over the past month, my lack of basic husbandry had been exposed time and again. And the missus' grumble about me seems creditable.
I have to be one of the worst husband of all time but I am really glad my wife tolerate with my nonsense all these while.
I know I have to improve or I might lose someone so dear to me like her...Let's hope 2009 will be a year for me to change, though I still cannot change my personality to suit the company of people who I felt to be wasting my time.
The 2 major investment she had yearn so dearly, cars and babies had always been the first agendas I tried to dodge but not any longer I supposed.
However we can only focus our time and money on one and the latter seems more viable and it would bring much more life to everyone around us; once again my lack of preparation especially in the mental aspect is holding me back.
I am already such a lousy husband, what make you think I would be a a father...I shudder at the thought.

All in all, as much as I am not having great anticipation for the new year, I still have to face it dearly.
A rather hectic 1st 2 months awaits and I just want to get the ICT out of the way, hope everyone I love stays healthy and happy while I would gain more satisfaction in everything I do...
Seeya'll in 2009!

Japanese word of the day: 羞恥心~shu-chi-shin~ (Shame) The biggest surprise J Pop hit of the year and sometime I ask myself whether I have any Shuchishin

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Friday, December 26, 2008

3 Time Lucky

26th December 2008, Friday

Spent X'mas snoozing away, due to the overnight exertions on the eve for another fabulous X'mas party with the La Tendo clique...

It was an evening of yuletide madness at Ferris' pad which was a nice change of scenery (not that EK's place was any worse off).
There was great company, hilarious squabbling from Vincent and Miyano, sumptuous vegetarian cuisine and plenty of laughter from the games...

Chan, The Chong Brothers and Karen simulate the impossible tower before the party starts

As Ferris requsted, something different this year

The synchronised Team White..3rd year in a row for me, Karen, Miyano and Yanhui to be in the same team

Team Rainbow...all out to win this year

Miyano kick starts this year's Win, Lose or Draw

Team white won by 6 points after the 1st round

We took a break before the final round Jenga to celebrate Yanhui's & Bryan's birthday

Tower of Nerves

Ferris thought he would topple a hard fought round of Jenga

Miyano who had been complaining all these time about playing this game was the one who toppled the game deciding round...good work nonetheless

The winning team and their prize kitty

Gift Exchange Time: Ffrom Ek to Bryan, a City Chain watch

From Reedy to me, One Piece Snowglobes

From Chan to EK, a Casio Edifice

From Yanhui to Karen, Guess Carrier & Body Scrub

From Vincent to Reedy, a 8GB iPod Touch

From Ferris to Corin, Bento Set

From me to Miyano, USB speaker cum webcam

From Corin to Yanhui, hand knitted scarf and cap

From Miyano to Ferris, a Nike backpack

From Karen to Chan, a sling bag

From Bryan to Lisa, Re-ment Disney miniatures and a kitchen mixer

From Lisa to Vincent, a Jean Perry comfort pillow

As usual, time pass so fast when we are having fun, we now have to look forward to X'mas 2009

A parting shot by the hospitable hosts

Japanese word of the day: 非常に近く (Very close) It was surely a close fight between the 2 teams this time round

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Tuesday, December 23, 2008

A Sweet Fruit Tart doesn't sweetens a Bad Loss

23rd December 2008, Tuesday

Something sweet to whet our appetites on Sunday for the family X'mas dinner:

These nice (and costly) pastries from The Patissier as well as the spicy herbs pasta the missus cooked up which I can never get sick of eating as well as Mom's crispy roasted chicken, it was a perfect evening for dining with the family as well as my buddy who came to deliver the white wine.

The dinner also prevented me from heading to the National Stadium (yes it is yet been tore down despite set to do so 2 years back) for the return leg of the AFF Suzuki Cup semi final between our Lions and Vietnam with the first leg ending 0-0 in Hanoi.
I had the luxury of watching it with my buddy at the comfort of my home and that surely had "blessing in disguise" written all over it.

The mission was a simple one...scored against the Viets and we will hold on for a victory and proceed to the final against highly-fancied Thailand.
However that was very much hindered by the resilient Vietnam team following the wise tactics of their Brazilian gaffer, Henrique da Silva Calisto while our boys also showed the lack if luster especially at the final third.

We saw glimpses of brilliance from Sharil Ishak on the left after reinstated to the first team duties after been struggling from match fitness for so long; however the final ball always didn't end up at the back of the net.
In the 2nd half we saw Ridhuan who had been the mired one for most of this tournament coming to form butu his passes and Jiayi's setpieces just aren't doing much for our wasteful forwards.

With minutes ticking away, Vietnam compounded a cruel stroke with 12 minutes to go with a fast counter attacj which saw substitute right back Ismail Yunos being brushed away.
We tried in vain to find the leveler and Raddy's proud unbeaten record in the ASEAN cup came to an end to much joy of the well-represented 5000 strong Vietnamese crowd while our local fans left home, sadly without the chance of seeing our national side claiming the title for a 3rd time in a row.

Well if only the real world would be as easy as how me & TW whipped England and Calamity James' asses in PES2009...

Japanese word of the day: 甘い~a-ma-i~(sweet) Well things can't be sweet all the time...

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Monday, December 15, 2008

Way too Lax

15th December 2009, Monday

10 days to X'mas, still no mood....

For the past fortnight, I had barely decent amount of time at work, which is a salaryman's dream comes true but it was had to ge back into groove when it matters.

Kinda big mistake was to space out the off/leave as I did over the past few weeks...After consecutive four days away from work, it was really an ordeal to creep out of bed especially when you have tuned to sleep at past 3 am in the morning for the past few evenings watching senseless deadpan, stereotypical satirical comedy like "Harold and Kumar".

So what I have been up to during the past few days, laxing at home?

Basically laxing...in an utmost unproductive fashion...

I had intended to carry out those things I set out to do, only to indulged myself in FM 2009...like a drug addiction which you need rehabilitation on...
I had also catch up on some of the TV series, movies and even anime series stockpiled in the crypt but the bane of multi-tasking making most of the viewing just in the audible aspect.

The soggy weather of late also made me disdain from any outdoors activities, though the ploy was to conserve my wealth by confining myself indoors as the forthcoming Japan trip would really stretch my budget (damn you excruciating high yen rate!).
I did headed out to town on last Thursday to get my X'mas exchange gift as well as paying Chiaki another visit at the JTB saloon.

I had the missus with me for much portion of time laxing at home and herself had been glued to her own recently-purchased laptop as an avid fan of some China-based video streaming site...

Speaking of streaming, I had also been retrieving music videos from the golden era of English Pop for myself since my aunties exposed me to Tears for Fears with their "Shout" MV or A-Ha's "Take on Me"...with the nice Videora application, I can upload cool mp4 versions of those ageless MVs onto my iPod which I had since watched on MRT journeys...

Then there was the AFF Suzuki Cup...
Our home team despite the tireless tirade from our neighbors for fielding so many foreign talents as compared to the last 2 editions, we managed to fend against the odds to get a clean slate of records in the group stage; majestically beating host nation, Indonesia 2-0 to guarantee our top spot, and earning that ticket to face Vietnam in the semi-finals.
Based on the 2 leg system, our fearless Lions will try to get a positive result in the 1st leg away before gracing the new winnning mantle in front of the home crowd this Sunday at the Grand Lady which never dies..Kallang stadium.
Unfortunately I had already promised for a family X'mas dinner on that day, so I just had to contend with viewing it live at the comfort of my home.
Once again this competition saw unruly, ugly, unsporting scene when the Myanmar team walked out briefly when they felt that the Viet referee had wrongly allowed us to play a quick freekick which saw us grabbed the 3rd goal and killed off the game.
The Burmese goalkeeper pushed the referee and only gotten a match suspension for his deed...surely tell you the level of leniency of this event.
Myanmar was rightly eliminated from the competition as well..hope they would be made to sit off the next one.

So 2 more days at work and I'm off to the long break again...hope I wouldn't in that lax state once again
Japanese word of the day: 緩めなさい (Relax) You guys should check out Frankie Goes to Hollywood's uncensored version of the MV

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Tuesday, December 02, 2008

3rd Consecutive ASEAN Cup for the Lions?

2nd December 2008, Tuesday

The 7th ASEAN Cup (previously more affectionately known as Tiger Cup) or now known as the AFF Suzuki Cup will kick off in Indonesia

With our constant failure to win the elusive SEA Games gold for football, our hungry nation were awe-struck with the success we had in this competition.
We had shared 3 each with perennial giant Thailand for the previous 6 editions while close rivals and neighbors Malaysia and Indonesia would always watch on.

Our first title came in 1998 with the famous Sasikumar's blade of glory against host nation and hot favorite, Vietnam.
That competition was mired with the disgraceful match between Thailand & Indonesia who felt the better option was to lose and stay at the city they had been residing for the group matches. Own goals were scored blatantly but it was poetic justice when both were knocked out in the semi finals by our Lions and Vietnam.

After the years of distraught under the tutelage of Jan Poulsen and Vincent Subramaniam where we just aren't the regional footballing power as we yearn to be, it was the emergence of a bony former Notts County Serbian coach, Raddy Avramovic that saw us hogging the limelight again after 6 years absence in 2004.
With young FTS talent like Agu Casmir and Itimi Dickson, Singapore was irrepressible brushing everyone aside.
In the memorable 2 legged semi against Myanmar, the Burmese resorted to throwing plastic bottle and having their reserve goalkeeper storming to the pitch to get into the argument which duly backfired on them and saw us meet the host Indonesia in the final which we pulled a stunning 3-1 away victory in the first leg which set the way.

Raddy continued his good work 2 years later when Singapore was the co-host and the main feature of the group stage was the 7 goals scored in the match against Laos by Noh Alam Shah.
As usual, disgraceful scenes were shown...this time in the final when hot favorites and co-host Thailand felt the referee were poor to award us a penalty which saw us win the 1st leg 2-1.
The coaching crew and perhaps their manager urged the players to commit a mass exodus from the field when there were still some minutes to be played.
The Thai were hungry for revenge in the 2nd leg at home and Pipat duly delivered the vital goal to give them the advantage.
However our trump card was shown in young Khairul Amri who took the entire Thai defence by surprise and whipped in the winner.
Total euphoria to win pretigiously, away at Thailand somemore...which is why the competition had etched with such significance in the heart of the local fan.

Merely a year or so later, Raddy hoped to be 3 time lucky when he led our valiant Lions to pursur yet another title, reinforcing our status of the footballing giant in Southeast Asia, and making all the skeptics eat their words.
However Thailand will still be the favorite to pip for their 4th title while co-host, Indonesia and emerging force Vietnam are looking to claim the title for the first time ever.
Then there is the sleeping Tiger in Malaysia...so competition will be steep.

Preparation for the competition hadn't been smooth... The squad was fresh from a long, tiring S League season inclusive of 2 cup tournament, AFF Cup for the likes of SAF and Home Utd and a string of World Cup Qualifying and national friendlies.
The usual captain Indra Shadan who had a quiet year for both club and country were criticised and had his position in jeopardy.
He responded in the most positive way on the pitch and nearly allowed Home Utd to claim the title till an inury put him out but he did managed to get back to fitness just in time.

Young forwards Khairul and Fazrul Nawaz were both unfortunate to see their chance to show their talent in the competitions due to season-ending injuries.
Qiu Li, the most recent naturalized player from China saw his eligibility been rebuked with the FIFA regulation.
Noh Alam Shah who served up to 7 months of ban for punching national teammate Bennett during last year Singapore Cup Final were struggling with fitness after recent injury woes.
But his presence would prove vital as well as another striker who went into oblivion in the early part of the season, Agu Casmir.
With the evergreen and ever-fit Aleksandar Duric, we should have a strike force that would sent shivers down our opposing defence's spine.

The midfield relys heavily on the naturalised trio of Mustafic Fahrrudin, John Wilkinson and Shi Jiayi.
No matter the constant barrage of criticism of us buying for success, all 3 as well as the other FTS are willing Singapore citizen and without them our team might not be strong enough to see us into the 3rd qualifying round of the World Cup.

The Achilles heel of the squad really lies with Raddy's staunch faith in his favored back four.
Big Precious and the equally immobile Baikkaki Khaizan somehow did not have the pace nor the defensive capability to fend off the speed of some of SE Asia best forwards.
I think even Fandi at his ripe old age now could breach the defense with both eyes closed....
Noh Rahman had always been a reliable rightback but having missed most of the season through injury when playing for his club Geylang, still ain't back to his top form.
Meanwhile the man many fans including myself pinpointed as the solution for the softbelly at the heart of the defense, Daniel Bennett is playing out of place at the left where he lacks the pace, crossing ability or the attacking impetus.
Somehow his young SAF team mate Saiful Esah or Home Utd's Juma'at Jantan might be of better option.

The frailty of the defense was exposed in the 2 recent friendlies with Vietnam and Malaysia for the build up to the competition when our team was leading 2-1 on both occasion with only minutes to go but the defense couldn't held on the lead and were punished with a late equalizer.

While we seemed to bless with some good goalkeepers in recent time, I felt Lionel Lewis though the bestowed with the perfect physique for a custodian, somehow just isn't the same guy who took the competition by storm a year ago.
His sombre form opens the door to the 2nd choice, Hassan Sunny who shown his capability to guard between the sticks in the latter 2 games of the WC qualifying when the fissures in Lionel's game was showing.
Once again Raddy's blinding nepotism saw Lionel claiming the starting position which many feared might jeopardized our chance to retain the cup.

Our campaign began this Friday against Cambodia and a big win is crucial as every single goal counts when you want to notch the top placing going into the semi finals.
Myanmar and host Indonesia will be a stumbling block but if we can get 4 points out of those 2 games, the lads will be brimming with confidence going into the semi with perhaps the Viet who seems the likely opponent if we finished top of Group A.

It's not wise to count the eggs before they hatch but I do have faith this team can repeat their previous heroics and will keep tuned to the live matches including that on Friday since I will be on leave (what a great way to spend my off days from work).
But somehow I felt the odds will be stack against us...if we can persevere through it, surely we have earn the rights to be called the footballing kings of Southeast Asia!

Japanese word of the day: 第3回目 (Third Time) Might be 3rd time unlucky..yikes

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Monday, December 01, 2008

In No Mood For... Work and X'mas

1st December 2008, Monday

Don't envy me when I said with the start of the final month of 2008, I have only need to work 8 days inclusive of the half day on New Year's Eve.

Yes about time I am reaping the rewards of accumulative annual leave as well as the weekends burnt at work during September.
Then again I think I have slightly more leave than those in the private sector...so one of the rare perks of my statutory board job...

With the maximum of 3 full working days per week, you can't fault me for feeling abit unmotivated about traveling an hour in the packed sardine known as MRT every morning to work.
There are still work lined up to the wall to be done actually but annual leave needed to be cleared, hell even Shitty Green acknowledged that we do deserve a break at the tailend of a rather uninspiring 2008 which ended off with much gloom and fear in some part of the world.

With the time at hand, I am figuring out what I could do to spend my days more proficiently rather than just wasting the precious time (thru. the hour glass...this is the days of our lives) away... Seriously it is easy to do the latter as I did over the weekend when I confined myself at home at my own will (and a weak wallet); basically I just stared at the PC monitor and play Football Manager.
Not that FM is a shameful waste of time (maybe to the missus it was just sapping my life away), but I am sure there are many constructive activities I can indulge in as well...

Top on the list is the chronic lack of activity for my figurine collection webpage...
As usual will try to cook some X'mas cheer on the page with my figurines, but I am running out of idea these days.
Then there's the annual year-end "top ten" with full reviews which I will try to be disciplined enough to accomplish before 2008 comes to a close.

I also have a stack (alright maybe 2-3) of games for the Playstation 3 waiting to be played but somehow I always end up drifting towards the PC-based FM because it is less tedious and I can multi-task as well.

I should also try to come up with the complete itinerary for the up and coming trip to Japan, now that our dear Chiaki had successfully helped us made reservation for Taenoyu while staying close supervision of the movement of the yen rate.

There's a stockpile of TV shows and anime series waiting to be watch but somehow it like anything else, I need to find the groove for it...For a while now, I had an undying yearn to rewatch The Office from season 1 again and laugh myself silly at the jokes I am so well versed in (likewise with Seinfeld, which is on it's umpteen rerun on Star World and I still am a willing viewer).

With my new iPod, I also had the knack of finding some classic music video (especially the obscure 1908s with those New Romantics but seriously have the most endearing pop songs of all generations) and ripped into a substantial video playlist.

I ought to go jogging at that park nearby when I am not working (thus no mandatory gym time) to keep myself in shape...

To conclude I surely have plenty of things to keep me occupied and keep my spending to the minimum when I spend those wonderful times all by myself (Air Supply please...) at home for the remaining few weeks of 2008.

In 24 days, it would be the holiday which means nothing if you aren't a Christian here.
Year after year I had hoped X'mas would be better spent (with well documentation of how I want my ideal X'mas to be).
But Singapore could be the one place you have no X'mas spirits to immense in unless you headed down to major shopping malls and bask in the repetitive X'mas jingles collection while contributing to the economy.
However my sister and myself both agreed that the mood is especially subdued this year...well we could all blame to the financial turmoil but generally this year just ain't that jolly in many aspects...
Well I will just be looking forward to a family dinner where all of us contribute something as like last year (I will want to get that fruit tart from The Patissier I had been dying to have a bite on for a while now).
Then the annual La Tendo X'mas Eve party...A change of venue this year surely should perks things up though the event is almost unspoken about for now...let's hope when the date draws near, people will get more interested....

Ode to a wonderful December!

Japanese word of the day: 余暇(Leisure) Sometime free time away from work doesn't always equate leisure time

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