Wednesday, May 30, 2007

One Small Step

I cantered today! OK, not me exactly, but the horse I was riding. I wasn't exactly in control of the horse - my instructor had the horse on a lunge rein, just so I wouldn't accidentally make the horse go berserk, and go galloping out of the arena with me screaming blue murder all the way to Inner Mongolia.

But back to the story, I cantered today! And why it's such a big deal is because
a) I didn't fall off and
b) I wasn't petrified!

I had fallen off before many years ago when learning how to canter (again, the horse, not me). The fall itself didn't hurt me, but because of the position of my legs when I fell, my right shin was at just the right spot for the horse's hind leg to give a good smack as he merrily continued cantering on, riderless. (Note: the horse had on horseshoes made of metal).

I suspect I actually sustained a crack on the antero-medial aspect of the tibia where the impact was; it hurt like #%@^, had a hematoma the size of a baseball over it, and a horrendous lookinig bruise that didn't go away for 2 months. Of course, I didn't get it xrayed. I thought: after all, if it's a crack, it was just going to be conservative treatment anyway, so why bother? (By the way, doctors do make the worse patients). So, R.I.C.E it was for me, and good ol' Ibuprofen.

Ever since then, I go into a slightly panicked mode whenever I get onto a horse & it starts cantering.

So today was an achievement for me. I know I didn't look exactly very graceful, I know I need to work on my posture while cantering, & I was also hanging on for dear life to the strap in front of the saddle (put there for people like me, I assume). And I know I have a long way to go to actually feel comfortable at a canter.

But I did it.

The first step - sometimes the hardest one of all.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Books & Movies

NOOOOOO!!!! What have they done to Nancy Drew????

I just came across the "Nancy Drew Movie" website & it looks like they have changed this classic character into the latest geek-turned-cool-chick a lá "She's All That", "Never Been Kissed", "10 Things I Hate About You" etc.

I remember devouring this series of detective stories voraciously in my pre-teen years. I think I must have gone through the entire series before moving on to the"Hardy Boys" series, which, by the way, was made into a short-lived TV series starring Parker Stevenson (whom I had a teeny weeny crush on) as Frank Hardy & Shaun Cassidy as Joe Hardy. I vaguely remember the Nancy Drew TV series as well, but I don't think they brought it into Singapore. If they did, it didn't make much of an impression.

Targeted at adolescents, the Nancy Drew books were unique because its main character was a girl, with brains (gasp!), had a cute boyfriend and leadership qualities (gasp again!). Given the fact that this character was created in the 1930's, you can see how unusual this was. And the series has endured because of these qualities. She made it cool to be smart.

And now look what they've done. Watching the trailer, it seems like the producers have tried to make it more appealing to the modern-day teenage girls by making Nancy Drew's transformation from geek to cool dudette, the focus of the story. And her best friends George & Bess seem to have disappeared as well.

It's always tricky trying to make a movie from a beloved book or series of books. The Harry Potter series was pretty well done, for the most part, depending on which installment one is talking about (although nothing beats reading the books). And the Lord of the Rings has been done true to the heart of J.R.R. Tolkien's books; I ploughed through all three books consecutively which I would never had done had it not been for the first movie "Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring". Although I enjoyed the movies more than the books, I thought that Peter Jackson stuck to the core of the story & brought out its soul when he translated the written word into the amazing visual images we saw in the three movies.

I hope that I will be proven wrong in my preliminary impression of the Nancy Drew movie, although it doesn't look promising from the trailer.


Friday, May 25, 2007

Every Which Way But...

There has been a lot of debate lately, both on the blogosphere, as well as in the local newspapers over the issue of decriminalizing homosexuality.

Amongst all the back & forth & arguments that have been going on, I see some common threads emerging:

1) Homosexuality is wrong/evil/immoral.
2) Homosexual is unnatural and deviant behaviour
3) Homosexuality contributes to the transmission of AIDs/HIV
4) Homosexuals are perverts & having them around will put your children in danger of molestation.

The way I see it, points no. 1 & 2 are subjective to one’s religious & moral beliefs & should not come into play when deciding on whether the homosexual act is a crime or not.

Point no. 3 may be true, but then, the whole picture is never put forward by those using this argument that heterosexual transmission of AIDs/HIV still remains the predominant form of transmission.

As for point no. 4, I won’t even bother to counter that as it is such a ludicrous generalization in the first place.

Lost amid all this noise is the bottomline question of why the homosexual act between two consenting adult males is still considered a crime (and a secondary question to that is what about the homosexual act between two consenting adult females?). Why should the sanctity of one’s bedroom be invaded by the law? What I or anyone else does in his own private space with his/her partner with full consent shouldn’t be anyone else’s business but our own.

I am not talking about rape. Neither am I talking about paedophilia or underaged sex. I am talking about two consenting adults, whatever gender they may be.

To be clear, these are examples of what I mean*:

a) Adult forces another adult to have sex with him/her – criminal? Yes!
b) Adult has sex with/molests child – criminal? Yes!
c) Adult has consensual sex with another adult – criminal? No!

*Note: I did not include sexual orientation in the examples because I don’t think it matters.

Some may believe that homosexuality is evil. Similarly, some may believe that eating pork is taboo while others may believe that gambling is immoral. So be it. But please do not impose your beliefs on others & use that as an excuse to argue against decriminalization of homosexuality.

I believe in tolerance. Whether or not I think homosexuality is right or wrong does not matter. But I will not discriminate against someone just because he/she is gay. And I certainly do not think the law should either.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

I don't get it

Someone please explain this to me.

How can a mother, let alone THREE mothers do this to their children???

Thursday May 24, 2007

Incest victims battle trauma as mothers are sentenced

Loh Chee

THEIR father's incestuous acts have left the six daughters, now aged 14 to17, with profound psychological scars.

One of them now has "difficulty in managing her sexual urges" while another has developed a "phobic reaction" to the words "torn" and "tear"as they reminded her of the sexual abuses.

And they will have to cope without three of their mothers, who were sentenced to jail yesterday for helping their husband - who had 10 wives and 64 children - commit incest over a period of 15 months.

Yesterday, District Judge Shaiffudin Saruwan sentenced the first and second wives, aged 39 and 38, to three years' jail, for persuading each of their daughters, both then 14, to have sex with their father.

The heaviest punishment went to the third wife, 42, who was sentenced to nine years behind bars.

She had pleaded guilty to three charges, including an aggravated incest charge of persuading her own 12-year-old daughter to have sex with herf ather.

Describing the jail term as "appropriate", Judge Shaiffudin stressed that the act of abetting incest is a "serious case of abuse of trust", evoking strong public outrage. The sentence must thus "accurately reflect society's abhorrence for this type of offence", he added. He also read out how each of the victims was coping based on the psychological treatment reports that were submitted to the court.

According to the reports, most of them were angry at their father's actions, although one of them still "expressed strong loyalty towards her father's (religious) teachings and downplayed the seriousness of the abuse".

The man is currently serving a 32-year, 24-stroke sentence.

The victims had sought the court's leniency in sentencing, as they were concerned that their family would suffer more if their mothers were jailed.

But while acknowledging the emotional and financial burden on the family,Judge Shaiffudin noted that the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports (MCYS) and the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis)have been assisting them.

For example, he pointed out, all 29 of the primary school-going children had been placed under a student care programme run by the Student Care Centre, with their fees waived.

Said the judge: "I am assured that with this holistic approach towards the provision of financial and emotional assistance and support, they would be better able to cope in the aftermath of this unfortunate episode."

"The family members and relatives present appeared distraught, especially when the third wife was sentenced, and several wept as the three were led away.

Copyright ©2005 MediaCorp Press Ltd All rights reserved

Like most mothers, I am protective of my children. The maternal instinct is one of nurturing, & of protecting one's young. Yet, these three people (I don't want to call them mothers anymore) have demonstrated a morally reprehensible & disgusting act, one which I cannot comprehend.

What kind of brainwashing did they go through by their husband, probably under the guise of some warped religious belief, to make them force their daughters into incest?

I don't understand. I don't get it.

Impressions from China - What Next

Man....looks like we have to worry about toothpaste now! I just read this news article:
FDA to monitor toothpaste from China

Sigh (again). I will need to stock up on Aquafresh when we go back home for the summer.

Impressions from China - More Construction Conundrums

24 hours of rain + Quality of housing construction in China = Leaky ceiling


Trivia of the Day

Did you know that horses drink by sucking water, much like how we sip from a straw?

None of that doggy slurping, splashing, messy, drooling action...just gentle, soundless civilized drinking.


Monday, May 21, 2007

Sama sama (same same)?

May 17, 2007
Foreign domestic workers vulnerable to unfair practices

I BECAME a first-time employer of an Indonesian domestic helper at the end of April. It was only after this experience that I became more aware of the other forms of vulnerability faced by domestic helpers.

Other than being vulnerable to abuse by employers, which we read so much about in the press, they are also vulnerable to unfair practices adopted by maid agencies. Unfortunately, this is an area that is relatively under reported.

I would like to bring to light the unfortunate circumstances surrounding my domestic helper. She has been through three transfers before being employed by me. She was charged an amount equivalent to nine months of her salary by the agency bringing her into Singapore.

She worked half a month for the first employer, after which she requested a transfer. In this first employment, she was taking care of an elderly couple who made her climb a coconut tree in their garden everyday to pluck coconuts for them. Due to her fear of heights, she requested termination of this employment.

She was then transferred to another employer who required her to care for an elderly. She was asked to leave after one month after the elderly passed away.

She was then transferred to her third employer whom she worked for three months. In this employment, she was also looking after an elderly person suffering from dementia. As the elderly's condition deteriorated and showed unmanageable behavioural problems, the family decided to send her to a nursing home. So my domestic helper had her employment terminated for the third time.

I was her fourth employer and I was surprised that she still has an outstanding loan for seven months with the maid agency despite having worked here since September 2006.

It was then that I realised that for every transfer she went through, she incurred an additional loan amount equivalent to two months of her salary. So, after going through three employers before me, she incurred an additional four months' loan (the transfer for the second employment was waived by the agency 'out of goodwill').

In total, she has to pay the agency 13 months of loan despite the fact that some transfers were not initiated by her. These findings brought to light the many unfair practices adopted by maid agencies that domestic helpers are vulnerable to. Hence, she practically has to work for more than a year without drawing a salary in order to pay for her loan.

It is really a shame for an economy that is so reliant on domestic helpers to be treating them so shabbily. I have no hard facts to prove my point, but after asking around, this practice of charging domestic helpers for transfers seems to be a common practice engaged by maid agencies.

If that is true, my question is whether maid agencies are profiting lucratively from transfers of domestic helpers.

Are the administrative fees and other associated costs of a transfer incurred by the agencies equivalent to an average of two months of the domestic helper's salary?

What makes these domestic helpers even more vulnerable is their low education level. The majority of them do not know their rights as a domestic helper. Is there any orientation for foreign domestic helpers by the Ministry of Manpower to educate them on their rights?

Many of them are just helpless victims in this whole situation. For a country which has always taken pride in being a nation with strong integrity and ethical principles, how do we explain the way we are treating our fellow human beings who come here to work under very challenging circumstances?

Lastly, I was also surprised that many of the maid agencies are awarded 'Case accreditation'. How stringent is the accreditation process and what criteria are being used as a benchmark?
From the type of service that I received from the maid agency, I am doubtful about justification for its accreditation.

For example, three weeks after bringing my domestic helper home, I still have not heard from the agency about collection of her personal documents, which was promised to be completed by the first week.

I hope this has brought to light many gaps in our process of bringing in foreign domestic helpers whom we are so reliant on.

Doreen Yeo Sai Ching (Miss)

When I read this letter, it struck me that it had many similarities with the plight of modern day "slaves" in New York City. Here are a couple of excerpts taken from this website:

"Each illegal immigrant owes a snakehead alien smuggler US$20,000. In order to get together the money to pay back this debt, they will take any job, no matter how miserable and difficult. They work in restaurants, and in factories for about US$1000 per month.

Paying off the debt means that, in effect, they have to work for the snakehead for at least three years before they can save any money on their own. Their working hours are long -- they can even think about and don't have the time anyways to go study English. Most of them are poorly educated peasants who can't even speak the Chinese national standard Mandarin dialect well, much less learn a foreign language.

They only have two dreams. First, they want to pay off their debt to the snakehead as rapidly as possible, then to accumulate savings for a few years until they can buy and operate their own restaurant."

"In addition to the Immigrant Services Company, there is another agency which plays a large role in this new immigrant society. That is the Employment Agency. There are dozens of employment agencies in the East Broadway area of Little Fuzhou.

"Restaurants, helpers, odd jobs, out-of-state -- many, many jobs await you". When they hear this announcement, many people go inside to sign up with the employment agency. Illegal immigrants who have no friends or relatives to help them must depend upon the employment agency.

Although one might think that because it is called an employment agency its purpose is to help workers find jobs, it would be more accurate to put it the other way around -- the role of the employment agency is to help bosses find workers. This is why many of the new immigrants from Fuzhou are dissatisfied with the employment agencies. The employment agency charges workers six percent of a month's salary just for accepting their application.

Even if the applicant is fired after a few days and is never paid, the employment agency won't refund the application fee. Naturally, from an employment agency business perspective, the faster workers are fired the better -- because the agency can then recommend another person for the same job and take six percent of that person's first monthly paycheck as well.

Many of the positions are for ordinary laborers -- just the sort of job the new immigrants from Fuzhou can do best. The boss often never pays the workers, the employment agency pockets the fee for introducing the worker to the employer, and the only one who makes nothing from the deal is the poor worker."

The difference is that in Singapore, it is not illegal while in New York City, it is.

Sad, isn't it?

Friday, May 18, 2007

Doctors Gone Bad


This is what happens when Greed takes over.

I am sure there are greedy people in all industries. And doctors are human after all. But it seems more despicable when it happens in the medical field because this is people's lives & well-being we are talking about. Of course, there is money too, which is probably what concerns the insurance folks more.

Which is why I am wary of MHC's.
Which is why I do not jump up & down with glee when the STB promotes SingaporeMedicine.
Which is why I would rather stay away from doing aesthetic procedures.

There are just too many gray areas. If one is not careful, one may wander into the Dark Side.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Young At Heart

I keep forgetting that I am not as young as I used to be.

Young at heart, yes, but time does not spare one's body from the ravages of age. Okay, maybe the word "ravages" may be too strong, but certainly, the joints are not as smooth as before, nor the muscles as supple, nor the vision as sharp nor the hearing as acute. So to me, "ravages" describes very aptly my perception of what aging is doing to my body against my will.

Just last weekend, I went on a bike ride with my son around the neighborhood. It was just half an hour, along paved streets. But that half an hour spent hunched over the bicycle was enough to strain my back and make it damned difficult to get up the next morning. I could envision how I must have looked hobbling around with one hand on my lumbar spine, needing help to get up from a chair or to get out of the car. My lumbar muscles were probably all spasmed up, and I think I probably lost my lumbar lordosis too!

Two sessions of Chinese massage, and a couple of doses of Celebrex & Ibuprofen later, I am much better but can still feel that there is spasm in my lower back. At least I can get up without any assistance now. I have one more session of Chinese massage this afternoon which will hopefully help to relieve more of the spasm.


Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Every Which Way But...

This letter was an eye-opener for me. I didn't realise the discrepancy within the Penal Code that discriminates between male & female homosexual acts (i.e. sexual expression).

May 15, 2007, ST Forum
Why is male homosexuality a crime but not lesbianism?

IN RESPONSE to Assistant Professor Yvonne Lee's reply to my letter, 'Professor's view on gay's prejudiced' (Online forum May 8), I would like to follow up in the interest of clarity and fair comment on the points raised.

First, Prof Lee feels that I have questioned her professional qualifications and engaged in a personal attack in asking questions about her essay. I intended no such attack and apologise unreservedly for any offence.

Second, it seems that Prof Lee's article has generated a substantial amount of debate, both reasoned and otherwise. I view this as a welcome effect as I firmly believe that only though public discussion will Singapore become a better civil society on such an important topic as equality under the law.

Therefore, contrary to Prof Lee's assertion, I am delighted to see the muddle scrum of public debate - informed or not, for or against - as it usually produces a consensus that current society can live with until the next evolution in local values dictates further review.

Finally, returning to the substance of Prof Lee's essay, the writer continues to be vague in answering the questions raised in my original letter asking for evidence supporting her generalised statements on the linkage between homosexuality and public health concerns; the existence of a broader slippery slope homosexual agenda in Singapore; and how 'free speech' as construed within Singapore's legal history would be curtailed by decriminalising homosexuality in Singapore.

To the questions above, I would appreciate Prof Tan explaining why only male and not female homosexuality should be a crime under Singapore law; if homosexuality is against Singapore's public interest why criminalise sexual expression and not the person; and how can homosexuals in Singapore follow her advice to live their lives peacefully when Section 377A (whether enforced or not) is explicit in making their private activity a crime.

Brian Selby

According to the Penal Code:

"377A. Any male person who, in public or private, commits, or abets the commission of, or procures or attempts to procure the commission by any male person of, any act of gross indecency with another male person, shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to 2 years."

In all likelihood, the penile code, oops...sorry, I mean penal code (couldn't resist *GRIN* heeheehee) was written by lawmaker/s of the male gender. Was it because of insecurity in their manhood? Did their machismo feel threatened? What was their take on the lesbian sexual act? So is it OK to be homosexual as long as you don't have sex with each other?

I wonder how the law professor will respond to this?

Addendum (May 17, 2007):

The law professor has spoken. And honestly, I am still not convinced by her arguments despite her use of big words & long sentences & quotations from a medical doctor in Massachusetts. And she still hasn't explained the reasoning for the gender discrepancy in S377A.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Happy Mother's Day!

I received this in an email and I think it describes very succinctly what it means to be a mother...

Before I was a Mom
I never tripped over toys or forgot words to a lullaby.
I didn't worry whether or not my plants were poisonous.
I never thought about immunizations.

Before I was a Mom -
I had never been puked on.
Pooped on.
Chewed on.
Peed on.
I had complete control of my mind and my thoughts.
I slept all night.

Before I was a Mom
I never held down a screaming child so doctors could do tests.
Or give shots.
I never looked into teary eyes and cried.
I never got gloriously happy over a simple grin.
I never sat up late hours at night watching a baby sleep.

Before I was a Mom
I never held a sleeping baby just because I didn't want to put them down.
I never felt my heart break into a million pieces when I couldn't stop the hurt.
I never knew that something so small could affect my life so much.
I never knew that I could love someone so much. I never knew I would love being a Mom.

Before I was a Mom -
I didn't know the feeling of having my heart outside my body.
I didn't know how special it could feel to feed a hungry baby.
I didn't know that bond between en a mother and her child.
I didn't know that something so small could make me feel so important and happy.

Before I was a Mom -
I had never gotten up in the middle of the night every 10 minutes to make sure all was okay.
I had never known the warmth, the joy, the love, the heartache, the wonderment or the satisfaction of being a Mom.
I didn't know I was capable of feeling so much, before I was a Mom.


Thursday, May 10, 2007

Impressions from China - Pung!

I have recently discovered the pleasure of mahjong! Not that I have never known of its existence before, since there are quite a few avid mahjong players in my extended family. But I had never quite appreciated the game before, probably because I could never understand the rather complex scoring system & different "patterns" by which one can win. And seeing the speed & skill with which my relatives played can be rather intimidating.

But last week, I joined a group of ladies in the neighborhood, from different corners of the world (USA, Scotland, Mexico, Hong Kong, Phillipines, Singapore), in learning how to play using simplified rules & step by step instructions with a chart on how to score the winning tiles - no money involved, just fun & good company. And I was hooked. The 3 hours passed by in a flash, and left me wanting to play more!


Monday, May 07, 2007

Impressions from China - Comedy of Errors

Since my last entry about the quality of housing (the term quality being used loosely here), I have become even more convinced that I will not buy any property here unless I can personally supervise the construction from the foundation up.

We recently have had to have our airconditioning turned on. Now, this seemingly simple endeavor is actually not so simple. Our landlord had to call the aircon guys to come & do something to the compressor outside the house & to fiddle with some valves inside the utility room in the basement before we could use the airconditioning.

Alas! I shouldn't have thought that it was as easy as that!

After the 1st visit by the AC guys, we realised we had no gas to cook dinner! Why, you may ask. How is gas connected to the AC? I wonder too. When the estate management maintenence guys came to check, it was discovered that the gas valve had been turned off! Presumably by the AC guys, who, when I checked, seemed to be doing a eenymeenyminymo kind of procedure when they were turning on/off valves.

After a couple of days, we realised that the air coming out of the vents wasn't exactly cool. And the AC in my son's room kept turning off on its own.

So the AC guys paid us a 2nd visit. One of them looked at me like I was Mulder telling him that I had been abducted by aliens when I told him about the AC switching off by itself. But then it happened again when they were there (much against Murphy's Law, thank God) so, at least I didn't feel like a blooming idiot. So he looked behind the switch, above the ceiling, did something to something in the ceiling, and so far so good. Then they fiddled around with more valves (again with the eenymeenyminymo process). I made sure they didn't touch the gas valve this time having learnt my lesson.

Then after they left, we realised we had no hot water!!! So here come the estate management guy to the rescue again. Apparently this was due to something about the pressure in the water pipes leading to the AC compressor being too high & preventing water from getting into the boiler. At least I think that's what he said given that
a) my Mandarin sucks, and
b) Beijingers tend to talk like they have marbles in their cheeks.

That's not the end of the story. The AC guy had to visit us a 3rd time because the AC in the master bedroom was not blowing out cold air at all. So he came. And he checked. And apparently it has something to do with the insulation around the pipes that was coming off. Or the inlet & outlet vents that were too close together - two different versions of reasons given to landlord & tenant.

After he left, I made sure that we still had gas.
And hot water.
And the toilets can still flush. Just kidding. I think.

Impressions from China - A Long Way to Go

Here is another report on how lacking the state of safety & quality control is in China, and how the pursuit of happine$$ leads to a trail of death & illness...and from something as simple as cough medicine...

Like SARS, the lack of transparency only adds to the problem of finding the culprits. Perhaps it's the Chinese fear of losing face that prevents them from allowing foreign entities access to investigate suspected sources.

I, for one, am not getting Made In China medicines. I will stick to meds from Singapore or the US where there is at least some assurance of quality control.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Spidey's Back!

We finally watched the much anticipated "Spiderman 3" today. Yes, amazingly, the movie came out here in China together with much of the rest of the world, & we were definitely not disappointed.


We have been eagerly awaiting its release since last year. We recognized the street (Broadway) where the Sandman was hiding in the dump truck, as well as the street where Peter Parker did his Tony Manero strut a la Saturday Night Fever. I even caught a glimpse the Art supply store (Pearl River Mart) where I went to buy paint! I still kick myself when I think about how we could have witnessed the actual shooting of a blockbuster movie!!!

I was impressed by Tobey Maguire's performance, especially his nerdy-geek-trying-to-be-cool Venom-ized Peter Parker. And I must say, he does a pretty good jazz dance routine (well, it looked like it really was him doing it & not a stunt double).

The storyline may be a bit too busy for non-Spidey fans or for first time audiences who missed the first two installments. Because (without giving too much away) there was the Peter Parker-MJ thing, and the Peter Parker-Harry Osborne/Green Goblin II thing, and the Venom-Spiderman thing, and the Sandman/Flint Marko-Spiderman/Peter Parker thing, and the Peter Parker/Gwen Stacy thing & the Peter Parker/Brock as you can see, lots of things going on. But there was also some closure with regards to Ben Parker's murder & also with Harry's enmity against Peter. I was a bit disappointed with Sandman's rather schizoid changes in behavior though - bad one minute, then all soft & emotional the next.

And the special effects...OMG...the CGI wizards have really outdone themselves this time & have done an AMAZING job with this. The Sandman & Venom were brought to life vividly, and the aerial fight scene between the GG & Spidey was awesome (for lack of a better word).

So for die-hard Spidey fans like moi & my son, we walked away from the theatre with a smile, and a hope that there will be a fourth installment to this very successful series. We even stayed till the end of the credits hoping for a teaser clip, like what happened in X-Men III, but alas, nada. But in the movie world where moolah means a lot (and this franchise is probably one of the most successful coming from Marvel), I suspect that Spidey 4 will happen.

Friday, May 04, 2007

IN SYNC ( and I don't mean the boy band)

The synchrony between man & see it in dressage or show jumping, or even just from watching the cowboy riding through the plains. I want that. I have only experienced that a handful of times when I have ridden in my life. My lifelong dream of riding like the wind – that is something I am working on now.

The feeling of exhilaration and utter joy, resonating into the very core of your being, like the perfect harmony of two notes – that is what I am searching for. When you GET the rhythm, & you feel the balance, the horse beneath you moving in that three-beat canter, suddenly,
you just know it is right, you just know. This is how it’s supposed to be- the wind rushing through its mane, the wind rushing through your hair. You are one with nature, you are on top of the world! What a rush of pure unadulterated happiness!

Tuesday, May 01, 2007


I just watched the trailer for Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, and it looks...well... FANTASTIC.

It opens in Singapore June 14, 2007.

Guess who's going to be there?





May 1, 2007, ST Forum
MM's comments have me and family worried

I AM writing about the review of the criminal code. Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew's recent comments about liberalising laws regarding homosexuality have got my family and me very concerned.
My expatriate friends find Singapore a conducive place in terms of its low crime and cleanliness. More importantly, they comment that it is a wholesome place. One does not find pornography sold openly in a neighbourhood shop. Having lived in the West myself, this down-
to-earth wholesomeness is what makes Singapore special.
Singapore today faces the challenge of a declining birth rate and families are breaking down at the same time. To legalise homosexuality will compound these problems, given that homosexual couples do not reproduce.
The homosexual lobby in the West is extremely aggressive. It is the same here. Observe how it is now considered intolerant when one criticises them.
What would it be like to have a homosexual teach our children that it is normal to be gay? You might scorn the idea but this is what is happening in the West.
Homosexuals lead a promiscuous and hedonistic lifestyle. What else can you expect when you do not have children to live for or be in a loving and committed relationship? This increases the risk of STDs, Aids, etc, further increasing the risk to the general population.
Homosexuality is not going to go away. All I am saying is that we do not make it easier to be a homosexual by legalising their activities. Singapore is our home and I am proud to be Singaporean. Let us keep it a wholesome place.

Jonathan Cheng Hern Sinn

Man, someone needs to straighten this guy out stat! No pun intended.

I wonder where he got the impression that "homosexuals lead a promiscuous and hedonistic lifestyle". And he is also implying that a homosexual cannot be in "a loving and committed relationship".

I personally know some friends who are homosexual. They are by no means promiscuous or hedonistic. Mr Cheng should realise that heterosexuals can also be promiscuous, with multiple sex partners. If he is worried about transmission of HIV, he should take a look at these stats from the Ministry of Health website:

"Heterosexual transmission has been the most common mode of HIV transmission among Singaporeans since 1991 (Table 2). Most of these cases contracted the infection through casual sex and sex with prostitutes in Singapore and overseas. "

The ignorance is un-freakin'-believable. I wish that more Singaporeans can open their closed little minds & get out of their safe, sheltered environment & be willing to learn more about the world outside of the little red dot, one degree North of the Equator.

Sorry if I sound obnoxious about my own people, but I was SO ANNOYED when I read the letter from Mr Cheng.

Young, Gifted, and Not Getting Into Harvard

I read this article from the New York Times this morning.

I must admit that I am a parent with hopes of at least one of my children getting into an Ivy League school, or at least one of the top tier colleges. Although I don't push them by enrolling them into all kinds of prep courses to increase their SAT scores (not yet anyway!), I do occasionally drop hints like:

"Hey, you know, you really need to high score in the SATs to get into XYZ University"; or

"Hey, you know you should take part in more community service groups so that it will look good on your college application."; or

"Hey, you know, if you are REALLY good in basketball/football/fencing/hockey/tennis/badminton/synchronised swimming/lacrosse, you will stand a better chance of getting into XYZ University?"; or

"You know, you should start working on improving your writing skills because you will need to write an outstanding essay in your college application."

Realistically speaking, the chances of getting in is very slim. So I am going to try & let go of this pipe dream; if my kids are happy doing what they love & have passion for, it will not matter which college they do or do not get into. After all, life is more than about getting an Ivy League education.

Heck, Life itself is an education.