Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Harsh Reality

24th February 2009, Tuesday

Been back for 5 days now from a trip which was truly gratifying for me and the missus and surely one to savor at the end of it...you can read all about it here (though it would only be out next week or so).

So it's back to reality once the fun has subsided...
Work was almost non existent once I had returned with the completion of whatever project at hand since I had left. While new projects are at the horizon, the lack of work surely makes me a bit uncomfortable.
Retrenchment has been everyone's mouth since the turn of the year and now at the crest of recession, everyone just want to hold on to their job.
Myself will want to hold on to this job I cherish very much and with my 3 year contract coming to an end, I do have a fear within...*fingers crossed for a new contract come May*
From the townhall session the director had with the company last week which I had missed, it seems like our department will not be taken with much regards for the coming work year and with the gaffer now in Boston, we just hope for the best...But I still have optimism that our group will be crucial to the institute.
As for performance bonus, since this recession is even worse than the SARS period, I can't expect much this year...no expectation no disappointment...

As for the missus, her industry being at the brunt of the diminishing demand for their product has started to adopt the four-days work week to reduce cost.
At the moment it is alternate Fridays till September and with her annual leave fully expended, it means her pay will be downsized due to this policy.
At least she keeps her job...

Our government had came our with a recession package including a employment credit to ensure we remain status quo and double the GST Offset package with the first payment coming in a week's time.
The amount is not much but sure do help in some way... The electrical bill is set to reduced (though still overpriced) as well as public transport (by mere 2 cents)...
As chatted with Beautiness this morning, it surely is a year to try scrimp and save as much as possible....

In such times of recession, I still hear some nuptial bells ringing... Firstly my buddy TW in October and coincidentally that of Eriko and Sou in the same month.
We have decided to fly down to Morioka just to attend the ceremony due to our friendship as well as perhaps the only chance to witness a traditional Japanese wedding ceremony which they had intended to go through instead of holding in a chapel.
Lastly my sister and her beau are thinking about tying the knot soon but maybe not the customary just yet...
Really time to get a decent suit...any good tailor to recommend?

One mildly pleasing news is that the high key in-camp training to Kao Hsiung had been cancelled..
I speculated that it could be due to the funds been cut but got wisp of the fact that it could be the unavailability of ships...
No matter what it's good to know I need not visit the southern city of Taiwan again for the 3 year in a roll though I still have one more high key to clear in the coming years...

Finally been really in groove with Foo for our side project in our quest to support of our beloved team, Sengkang Punggol.
The trip had taken us to unbelievable height for now as we meet some crucial characters in the local footballing fraternity.
Somehow watching the games now seem to hold more meaning and life surely become more interesting at this juncture...
At least it takes some blues about current economic climate away...

Japanese word of the day: 現実 ~gen-ji-tsu~(Reality) surely everyone has to wake up and smell the coffee...

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Monday, February 09, 2009

At the eve of flying off...

9th February 2009, Monday

The flight will be at 11.45 pm tomorrow... We have done the on-line checking in and secured 2 pretty good seats on the upper deck of the Airbus A380 (surely one of the highlight for me for this trip) though not the exact ones we wanted.

This is a trip I really look forward to relax myself, not that I am in the midst of a really tensed and highly wound-up working life but a good get-away for me and the missus who had surely yearned for an overseas trip like this since an entire year of confining within Singapore or the most Malaysia.
Planning this trip took a great amount of time, think since 2nd half of last year, but with the financial recession tsunami tiding it, things got stifled abit but it didn't douse our enthusiasim for the trip since I had set aside the extra dough for it for a while ago.

In the end we were glad to get a "once in a lifetime" deal from SIA and with the lodging at Tokyo also seemingly affordable, we manage to tide over the high yen rate.
The amount we intended to bring over should be more than suffice for a good eating and shopping trip but still you never know with the hap-hazard Japanese economy now.
The yen rate dropped in drastic fashion immediately after we had changed the currency, just a reason to get on my nerves...but just had to ignore it...

Have great expectations of the onsen ryokan, mainly due to the amount of money we were going to pay.
The objective to the snowy Akita surely is to laze and indulge in the healthy hot springs and taste some good food provide from the ryokan.
Spending will be kept to the minimal except for some Akita-limited omiage (souvenirs) but wonder if we ever had the time to venture out of the resort since there are quite a few hot spring to sample.

The really short spell at Morioka will be great to catch up with Eriko and perhaps her beau, Sou.
It had been 3 years since we last saw them and it's a pity we couldn't stay a bit longer. But seriously ran out of idea what we can do in Morioka except for catching up old times.
Of course I will seek her assistance to look for Hiroki and his family whom I had totally lost contact with.

Diseny Sea on Valentine's Day would be a great day out for us...I really enjoyed myself at my first Disneyland trip back in 2005 despite I could do without the sun-burn and felt we shouldn't had rushed to go off.
This time round with a full day planned to the poorer-aquatic cousin of Disneyland, we can immersed in the romantic moment (since many touted Disney sea is more for adults) minus rampant crowd and some death-defying rides of course.

We had plans to visit the likes of Yokohama and Shimokita, venues in Tokyo we had yet to explore while plans for the likes of Akihabara, Nakano, Ueda are always in the plan as well as Shinagawa where would be staying.
Eating good food surely is my utmost priority for this trip and will need to aggressively shed off excessive "baggage" when we return.

I might had gone at the wrong time with the S League now buzzing into the final week of pre-season and a lot of major news transpiring but I am sure my partner in crime, Foo will get those covered... One of the trivial thing in life that get me excited of now.

Yesterday we paid a visit to my buddy's place as we had not been doing so for the past Chinese New Year.
It was great catch up with my buddy who is in the midst of his marital scavenging and from his words sound like a real adventure while CS who came by too was fervently taking notes....not!
But he did showed us his new wagon, the Mitsubishi Lancer EX which had all the gadgets to appease our dear buddy.
We then followed TW and his parents up the Bukit Timah hill to the British Club where we had dinner at high altitude.
The humid after rain weather and the spices from the Indian cuisine is a sweaty concoction but as the night worn off, it got cooler and we were totally immersed in TW's father's wise words about the current economic downturn and the repercussions not everyone got to see unless you are doingh business like themselves.
It was a good Sunday night with my buddy and those who had seen me grown up as well as my wife... will surely render all help possible when his big day arrives in October...

Japanese word of the day: 流れ ~na-ga-re~(Flow) Wanna go with it for the coming trip

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Friday, February 06, 2009

Khatib FCC could be the next Facebook

6th February 2009, Friday

After completing the final IPPT yesterday afternoon for my recent IPPT Preparation Training (IPT) course, I have paid my due for this work year with regards to that painstaking debt we national service men had to commit if we are fit enough.

As anticipated, I did not made the grade but 5 legitimate chin-ups surely was an unprecedented phenomenon in my long history of IPPT for sure...

While I was granted 2 sessions being stand down during the Lunar New Year (yeah will plan subsequent IPTs around this holiday), the truncated amount of time spent at the Khatib FCC allowed me to meet some old acquaintances, with a pleasant twist near the end.

I was always a loner going for such trainings since it was tough to coordinate to any chums who had profligancy in attaining the minimum scores for the test, due to the time difference in our "window period" (attributed to our birthdays).
I rarely made an effort to pick up conversation with mere strangers as they would always be negative about the entire training, unwilling to put in a wee bit of effort to train and demanding "out-pro" vehemently.

This time I did found a familiar face earlier on... A comrade from my ICT unit, whom I had mentioned I found boring speaking to previously.
With a couple more years to the golden age of 40, he was just strolling down the sunset as military reserves beckon.

The pleasant surprise I spoke of happened on the last actual training on Tuesday.
As the PTI made the reluctant troop get the body conditioned for the test with a short jog round the tracks, I spotted this rotund Malay chap huffing and puffing, making the efforts to keep jogging consistently.
He looked really familiar and instantly the acknowledgement that he could be our old footballing team mate back in the mid 1990s, Shaban.

During warm down, I approached him for confirmation of his ID and true indeed my natural gift of remembering people in my life and strong ability to put the right name to the picture works again.
In fact Shaban had noticed my presence since the beginning and always thought my name was that of my buddy, TW whom he had close allegiance back in their Secondary School days.
TW would be thrilled that I managed to reunite him with yet another old classmate whom himself had not met for like 13-14 years now.
As we exchanged contact numbers and had a brief walk down the memory lane, we both agreed that money can never buy the great memories we once shared in our lives.

I do forsee a mini get together with my buddies, myself and Shaban for perhaps coffee soon as we relinquish the good old days of training at the old pitch, something our aged (and for some of us "bloated") bodies would cringe at the thought of.
Surely another wonderful jab of nostalgia for me...

Actually also spotted an old University friend in the midst of unfamiliar faces. In fact he just lived a block or tow away from me but we never had the opportunity to meet again since start of my working life.
He was an avid S League fan back in those days with season ticket to watch Sembawang Rangers, would be good to chat with him over my renewed interest in local football; but missed the opportunity when I choose to speak to Shaban instead.
Japanese word of the day: 認識 (Recognition) Surely is one of my rare talent to recognise people I had encountered in my life


Monday, February 02, 2009

Uncertain Times hit the Clique

2nd February 2009, Monday

Mt. Asama at the prefecture of Gunma had erupted last evening, another meteorological hindrance that could jeopardize our trip in a week's time...yeah right...
If that crazy yen rate didn't stop us, nothing will....

The final piece of the trip preparation jigsaw was settled as we looked up Chiaki on Saturday to purchase the JR East pass.
We had intended to change the money but at 1.685, reluctance was still within me to budge... perhaps when the time draws ever so near, would I condescend to part my S$ to the Indian money changers...

After helping out La Tendo at the AFA 2008, I think the good people there wanted to give us a treat and could only jump on the occasion of the Lunar New Year to give the helpers a treat.
The main treat as it turned out was a karaoke session which of course by this juncture, I am jaded by the mandarin pop crooning that warrants our hard earn cash into it.
I went abit later than the others hoping to catch the gang just before dinner but was coaxed to attend a concert given by the usual entertainer, Vincent.

Over another nice vegetarian dinner which filled us to the brim, we talk about almost anything from Kaka's fallen transfer to Manchester City to who the hell are in Dragonball GT, Vincent's secret video watching behind Miyano's back and a little on the current economic climate.

Although it has yet to hit us directly but with a bulk of us in the semi conductor industry including my missus (Chan and YH are the others), they had already had the brunt of force annual leave-taking, pay-cuts and taking no-pay leaves... all the measures to at least ensure employment in a bleak market with decreasing demands.
Bryan's electronic industry still unscathed but the signs are ominous...let's hope not...

As for the rest of us in the government-linked sector, things still look pretty stable for the upcoming year with perhaps try to curb the audacity to wish for handsome wage increment or at least a decent bonus although we can almost guarantee that Karen's teaching line will be pretty sound.

As for retailing itself, considering La Tendo's goods are generally luxury collectibles surely will be one of the first thing ailing middle class collectors with a shruken pay-check or pocket money would give up without any consideration.
The escalating yen rate is not helping matters and for the past few weeks I had been comparing prices with other retailers with my fellow collectors, as usual because it seem like our good friends had been over-charging people ($30 at one instance).
We had been very frugal with pre-orders these days with the likes of Chan even concentrating on what to collect...perhaps I should follow suit eventually...
I wonder the shop is badly shaken from the downturn but with the recruitment of another staff, it doesn't seems so...well all the best to them and most importantly a sound Year of the Ox for the gang career-wise and of course everyone is good health...

Japanese word of the day: 削減される(retrenched) Surely not a word anyone wants to hear this year

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