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My Grown Up Christmas List

It’s the time of the year when it’s the end of the year.

The usual things that occupy me would be squeezing time and space to do an area cleaning of my office as well as my home.

The clean up of home is a less disruptive affair, since I actually do routine cleaning on a weekly basis. The end of the year clean up would merely be the 1st round cleaning up that precedes the Lunar New Year cleaning.

The clean up of the office is very much different. It necessitates dealing with a lot of dust which come from the old files. This course of cleaning precedes me coming down with some respiratory issue as a result and subsequently a full blown bout of flu. It has been the same over the past few years all the way from end 2006. In some ways, things have never changed.

Some things, in fact, never change.

Upon taking stock of the amount of cleaning required for the home, I come face to face with my extra audio components sitting around.
Having extra components lying around is proof that I have found time for my hobby, which means I had time to myself.
Having finally sold the car to stop the meaningless and wasteful depreciation of multiple vehicles, I almost immediately committed the monthly savings of a thousand dollars into another amplifier. The new kid was going for a song, I simply had to have it.

The manufacturer intended it as a serious piece of engineering and not some mickey mouse amplifier but it’s a toy simply because to me it fulfilled a want and not a need as I am already well served by many others. When another functional component is added to the stable but fails to serve any additional functional purpose, the desire of simply wanting the component (however seriously designed) classifies it as a toy. No wonder some women say is that “the difference between the men and the boys is the price of their toys”.

Toys are the perfect way to indulge the self when November comes followed by the festive mood and thereafter the new year.
November this year was a milestone, it marked the beginning of my forties.
Finally hitting the big “4” made me reflect that though I might be getting older but given these toys amongst other obsessions am I actually getting more mature?

Being somewhat fortunately relatively unencumbered :) without worries about day-to-day needs can make one restless. The mind wanders towards other wants and desires. I was consciously aware of this and to distract myself, I had sought to move away from materialistic wants to update myself on the current affairs of the world. Things that had occurred over the past two and half years which I did not really pay much attention.

I had to digest information on sad situations all over the world environmental and humanitarian disasters in various places Liberia, Sierra Lone, Central African Republic, the intense hardship of the Arab people that led to the Arab Spring, the civil war in Libya and Syria and the recent Philippine Typhoon.

The problems these peoples and countries faced which would have justified active large-scale intervention from the international community.
However, all military or humanitarian intervention is stuff left to the office bearers to decide. It is somewhat out of place for the common man to attempt solutions, however ingenious, to solve the world’s problems. :) Similarly at home, where Singapore’s problems are, by comparison, tiny and insignificant, they should similarly be left to those in charge to deal with for it is their responsibility. With the power of office comes the responsibility. There are no two ways about it.

And then I pondered on the role of the common man in the midst of all this. I came to the conclusion that, inevitably, each of us carry a burden unique to our own circumstances, and universal truth and logic mandates that each of us fulfil the responsibility to the self before actually looking beyond.

This corroborates with the saying that anyone seeking to do greater good must have settled his own basics, to be in the position to offer to the larger community. A failure to check all the boxes might result in the endeavour towards public office being be twisted by less altruistic motivations and thereby skewing the object, the process and the outcome of the original intent of involvement. And trust me, these will show. :)

It is then apt to conclude that all who seek public office should have proven their abilities in areas of their life, their family and their career so much so that when the calling for public office becomes the next logical extension of involvement in the community. This will result in making a conscious decision to use one’s energies towards the public good and not be skewed by self-interest considerations.

Correspondingly, logic mandates that the reverse will also be true. When office bearers fail their higher calling and act in a manner to only serve their self-interest, they inevitably denigrate themselves to the degressed position of a common man serving one’s own self-interest.

This self-introspective criteria is only one part to the equation meant to achieve a distant and lofty ideal.
Finding answers to the questions is only the first step and does not guarantee anything.
For the level of comfort and security for different individuals differ, so would their degree of honesty and self-awareness.

A simplified approach to the conundrum would be for one to direct the simplified question to himself of how much is enough?
When should a person start to consider service to the public as one of his objectives in his life?
What should the ideal threshold of one’s achievements before looking at sacrificing to serve the greater good?

I must admit that at age 40, I do not have answers to the above questions which I myself formulated. :)
Despite my having idealistically jumped the gun previously before reverting to take a more conventional and practical path. :)

It would therefore be right to conclude that I have regressed to being a common man :)
However, I must clarify that to focus on fulfilling the responsibility to oneself, one’s job and one’s family should never and must never cloud one’s sense of what is right and what is wrong. A decision to focus limited time and energies on what is basic, immediate and pressing is not a compromising of principles and beliefs. For cleaning up one’s own backyard does not equate to a changed moral compass, values and principles.

This is the only surefooted approach.
What value can a person bring to the larger society in striving to clean up the neighbourhood when his own backyard ain’t in order?
Similarly, what value can someone bring to the greater cause when in striving to clean up the neighbourhood, his sense of right and wrong gets perverted along the way?
These reasons, read collectively, fully justify each and every person first focusing on one’s basic obligations as a person, a man and a son whilst preserving the innate sense of what is right and what is wrong and only upon surmounting the intermediate levels of achievement, should one take the step forward for the larger community.

But the questions remain, how much is enough? where do we draw the line? what then can be done in the meantime?
These questions admittedly take on a deeper meaning and require deeper introspection during this time of the year. Every year.
The birthday month (time for celebration and introspection) together with the proximity of Christmas (time for giving) and the new year (a time of reflection and resolutions) come together to form a potent mix. In fact, it is probably too much for me to bear. It is no wonder that I come down ill on every approach to the new year. During this seasonal forced rest and sleep, I reinterpret my thoughts while being confined to the bed.

It was in this period of rest that I surfed the web to update myself and was taken aback by humanitarian disasters in various places of this planet that deserved far more assistance and active intervention from the more well endowed nations.
In the comfort of my bed, I could not help but compare the plight of the affected of having not enough food, water, medicine, sanitation and basic safety from physical harm to my own dilemmas of adding yet another redundant toy to the stable.

But this then begets the question – what is a common man to do in the face of big and insurmountable problems that are undeniably way beyond his abilities? Do we stop living? Do we stop doing the things which we are supposed to do? Do we stop enjoying the things we have earned and are entitled to enjoy? In the past, I have had little difficulty in making wishes for myself at the end of the year (hey its my birthday and its christmas). However, this year 2013, faced with this dilemma, as opposed to other years, I could not find it in me to ask for more.

Nursing my bout of flu in bed, there were no celebrations.
I was unwell with dip in my health and fitness, but by and large, I had to concede that I was not lacking in anything.
I had a sense of fulfilment.

But at the same time, I also had an equally strong sense of entitlement for it was Christmas and the New Year was coming.
This was coupled with a sense of being at a loss of being entitled to make a wish, but not knowing what to wish for.

I sought the internet for answers in the same manner that I sought information.
The answer came to me when in my medication induced stupor, I “youtubed” ‘Christmas list’ as opposed to “googled” ‘Christmas wish’.
The song that came up was “My Grown Up Christmas List”. This was written by David Foster some time ago and though it is a great and meaningful song, it does not seem to have enjoyed much airplay.
The beautiful lyrics went as follows:

Do you remember me
I sat upon your knee
I wrote to you with childhood fantasies
Well, I’m all grown up now
And still need help somehow

I’m not a child
But my heart still can dream
So here’s my lifelong wish
My grown up Christmas list
Not for myself
But for a world in need

No more lives torn apart
That wars would never start
And time would heal all hearts
And everyone would have a friend
And right would always win
And love would never end
This is my grown up Christmas list

As children we believed
The grandest sight to see
Was something lovely wrapped beneath our tree
Well heaven only knows
That packages and bows
Can never heal
A hurting human soul

No more lives torn apart
That wars would never start
And time would heal all hearts
And everyone would have a friend
And right would always win
And love would never end
This is my grown up Christmas list

What is this illusion called the innocence of youth
Maybe only in our blind belief can we ever find the truth

(there’d be) No more lives torn apart
That wars would never start
And time would heal all hearts
And everyone would have a friend
And right would always win
And love would never end, oh
This is my grown up Christmas list
This is my only life long wish
This is my grown up Christmas list

The lyrics of this song are amazingly powerful AND as it is obviously an old song, I must have heard it before.
But somehow I have never noticed it. Until now.
The revelation brought by this song was the answer to my dilemma.

I have come to believe that God specially places angels to guide each and every one of us, to show us the way.
For me, He has generously given me several :) He placed one notably in Korea, and yesterday morning, He spoke to me through her and made me grow up.
This is the link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oS3p4jv4Ov0 to the somewhat incomplete fancam recording but one that has the least audio distortion of angelic TaeYeon’s lovely rendition.

I have to admit that it was only after TaeYeon’s rendition, for the first time in my life, I made a wish for the world at large. AND at the risk of sounding like some beauty pageant contestant wishing ad nauseam for an abstract concept of world peace…..

(there’d be)
No more lives torn apart
That wars would never start
And time would heal all hearts
And every one would have a friend
And right will always win
And love would never end

On this final day of the year 2013, I do hope, that with this wish and prayer, I have indeed changed and grown up. :)

December 31, 2013 Posted by | audiophilia, Life, Politics, So Nyuh Shi Dae - Girls' Generation | Leave a comment

Twinkle & The Power of a Single Star – III

Part III – Stars, Angels and Dreams

Dedicated to the Star, the Angel and the Dream

Stars

Behold the power of a single K-pop star when one sees Jung Soo Yeon’s sizzling rendition on Christmas Eve 2011 of the Disney classic When You Wish Upon A Star

It’s the performance, the visuals :) and the lyrics of course :). The lyrics go as follows:-

When you wish upon a star
Makes no difference who you are
Anything your heart desires will come to you
If your heart is in your dreams
No request is too extreme
When you wish upon a star as dreamers do

Fate is kind, she brings to those who love the sweet fulfillment of their secret longing
Like a bolt out of the blue, fate steps in and sees you through
When you wish upon a star
Your dreams come true

When you wish upon a star
Makes no difference who you are
Anything your heart desires will come to you
If your heart is in your dreams
No request is too extreme
When you wish upon a star your dreams come true

Angels

What shows up at night?
Other than stars not many other things
Except for lovely angels and our long-awaited dreams
Stars, Angels and Dreams, is there a link?
The more you think, the more so it seems

When you wish upon a star, it is an angel that hears you
And she quietly sets about a myriad of cues
creating a series of unexpected steps
To bring about a difference in view

Angels are small in size but big in heart
And they always try to do their part
Small like a star’s twinkle to the eye
Let down your guard and they will just slip by

Kindness and charity is their self-trap

They aim to put others on the map

They move around much having lightness in their step
Bringing everyone blessings like a tap

An Angel worked hard to make things happen
She was probably acting at the direction of heaven
And when dreams come true, despite our problems and quirks
Due regard must be had to the Angel’s work

Heavens are where from the Angels come
Yet looking to the sky, there seems to be none
We can look up and yet can’t tell what we missed
Until the Angel appears in our midst

Dreams

When you believe in a dream, you should reach for the stars…

An opportunity for change confronted me in due time
Bringing about the need to count my dimes
On the one hand there was a tussle within me
On the other hand was the comfort of familiarity

Stars being my constant gazing
Make it hard for me to keep my grounding
The pull to reach for the stars comes from the longing
And gravity works against us through our belongings

For eons I kept my feet close to the ground
And now I start to feel my heart pound
As I part with my roof to reach above my head
To tell the truth, I am truly a little afraid

To take a plunge to reach for the stars
Is good for the soul but not exactly a must
But true living is about getting closer to your dreams
Even if it means moving towards the other extreme

If I lose the roof over my head
Will there be thatches or tents in place instead?
Having the sky as an awning
Need not necessarily be a bad thing
As all the stars into view it brings
Except and unless when there is perennial clouding

Stargazing of whatever nature comes at a cost
But the cost of which should not be reason a cause be lost
In the desert where there are no clouds block my vision
Is truly the place of calling and where to be for all seasons

I part with the roof and head to the desert
After having done my sums and careful research
In Tucson, Arizona the deserts are abound
And naturally the costs of travel will inevitably mount

How difficult is it to reconcile?
For a man to give up his entire house
Just to climb up a hundred plus yards
And cover maybe over twenty plus miles?

Prudence requires a parting with toys
No more room for pet peeves and childish boys
Only with luck and blessings can things fall into place
If things go awry, my lovely ponies I can only hope to retrace

Does seeing clearer mean getting any closer?
Are sight and distance linked? that is the poser
What can I make of all such dreams
Can they come true? Yes it so seems

Dreams can come true
But only if you can ride out the blues
Putting together all the nuts, bolts and screws
And making sure that nothing can come loose

October 3, 2012 Posted by | Amateur Astronomy, Life, So Nyuh Shi Dae - Girls' Generation | 1 Comment

Twinkle & The Power of a Single Star – II

Part II – Stargazing on Earth

We on Earth – are on a spaceship, and inevitably some of us become obsessed with celestial bodies and the space that is the Universe.

This obsession manifests as the urge to stargaze. In so doing, we seek to expose the mysteries of the Universe and to unravel its origins and the meaning of life.

Today, 6th June 2012 marks the Transit of Venus, a day when planet Venus passes in between the Sun and Earth. During this day, Venus will appear as a black dot moving across the Sun. Unfortunately, due to the capriciousness of the weather, the sky was overcast and prevented my witness to this event. Another 100 years or so has to pass before the next transit.

I loathe to be thwarted in my astronomical escapades but I have no choice. I am too minute in the scheme of things to make any demands on the Cosmos. For all the difficulties of stargazing from Earth, I am however consoled by the ease of stargazing on Earth.

Man’s gravitation towards pretty and wondrous things is only nature taking its course. Even though we loathe to admit, in life, we bear witness to both the pleasant and the ugly. To this end, people abhor evil and while nice and pleasant things are easily accepted, pretty things get all the attention.

As we appreciate the two ends of the spectrum and come to realise the limited time that we have, our attention turns to search for understanding and meaning to it all. As we search for meaning in life, we inevitably question the purpose of each of our lives.

As we search for the purposes of our lives, we realise the need to get in touch with ourselves.

To get in touch with ourselves, we need to look at ourselves, our identity, our thoughts, our feelings and emotions.

This change in focus must not be equated to nelsonian blindness – as in seeking to block out the unpleasant and the ugly but rather a looking to understand the self better. This is in itself by no means a small feat and aptly qualifies as a revolution on the personal level nonetheless.

To the seemingly innocuous question – Which is your favourite star?

One would normally expect an answer pointing towards a particular stellar constellation.

But when we find instead an answer referring to a member of the K-pop band Girls’ Generation, other than acknowledging the power of a single star in this instance, one would need to acknowledge that there certainly is a need for some serious investigation in one’s aspirations, adulations and obsessions.

Girls’ Generation is the translated English name for So Nyuh Shi Dae, more commonly known by the acronym SNSD, the original Korean name of the South Korean K-pop band that is now famous across the entire Earth. They are to me, the best girl band to have ever walked, danced, pranced and adorned the face of this earth. Girls’ Generation is also made up of 9 distinct members: TaeYeon, Jessica, Tiffany, Sunny, HyoYeon, SooYoung, Yuri, SeoHyun and Yoona.

SM Entertainment recently changed its focus. SM separated 3 girls from the rest to form a sub-group and named them TaeTiSeo – TaeYeon, Tiffany and SeoHyun for short. And TaeTiSeo have released an album called Twinkle.

The ensuing performances of the songs in Twinkle seem deliberate in showing off the trio and their talents more intensely. The coverage of TaeTiSeo’s performances are also markedly more close-up, more personal, and more intense.

Fans are on one hand thrilled by the focus on 3 very able members of our favourite band, it certainly does not mean that the rest are forgotten. The hope is that the focus is temporary and not permanent. Like the Venus Transit today is a focus on the play of the Sun, Venus and Earth, our Solar System will only truly be Complete with the Sun and its 8 planets. :)

By all logic of reasoning and the confines of definition of the English language, the answer, albeit unusual, is nevertheless gramatically and logically correct. For it is irrefutable that the girls in Girls’ Generation are each also stars in their own right, K-pop stars to be exact. :)

June 6, 2012 Posted by | Amateur Astronomy, Life, So Nyuh Shi Dae - Girls' Generation | Leave a comment

Twinkle & The Power of a Single Star – I

Part I – Stargazing from Earth

In my recent amateurish astronomical exploits, my observations and ruminations over objects gobular, circular and spherical, ecclesiastical and celestial, I arrived at some conclusions.

On an almost nightly basis, we may catch a glimpse of meteors which are also called shooting stars. Sometimes, we get to see comets.

In our night sky, the most noticeable body is the Moon. 

Next brightest to the moon are small bright specks which appear to be stars but are actually the neighbouring planets in our solar system. e.g. Venus, Jupiter, Mars.

Last in the line are the stars from our galaxy – the Milky Way – these are scattered across the sky.

Though it would seem that the moon and the planets outshine the stars, the truth is that our moon and the planets do not emit light. They look bright because they are closer to us and they reflect the light from the sun.

Save for the moon, these bodies are invisible to us during daytime and they become visible only at dusk, they appear as darkness sets in when the sun sets.

The stars and the planets are masked during daytime. The “masking” comes about because light from our sun illuminates the entire sky, the stars and planets being relatively dimmer, they are outshone and are “masked” by the sunlight.

Thus the power of the sun illuminates and yet masks the sky at the same time. Ironic it seems, as it is.

In as much as our sun prevents us from seeing the planets and the stars during daytime, it’s presence combined with the earth’s rotation creates night and the illumination of the planets and the moon which makes our observations of the planets and the stars possible.

Whilst the sun illuminates our lives during daytime, it’s temporary obscuring gives us night.

Even at night, it illuminates the moon and the planets and is actually still providing half of the earth with daylight.

We blame the sun for the warm weather. This is but a miniscule fraction of the sun’s power filtered by our atmosphere. The full brunt of the unmoderated radiation from the sun is lethal to us but yet, without the sun, we would be cast into an eternal winter.

However, because of the Sun’s omnipresence (in that never failed to rise at dawn and has always stuck around us and has never disappeared save for occasional solar eclipses), we take it for granted and expect it to be there all the time. Our minds then revolve around our own little concerns and worries.

Even as we forget our own concerns and worries and gaze at the faraway stars at night, we often forget that our sun is actually also a star, and not unlike the stars in our night sky which we gaze at.

Twinkle Twinkle Little Star which every child knows reflects the human fascination with the distant stars. :)

In contrast to the hundreds of thousands of stars scattered all over the night sky – in outer space, the star most important to us is the star that is nearest – that which shines our day and that which also gives us night including the night for us to gaze at other stars. :)

It is only when light disappears and darkness sets in, do we then seek light again. Ironic it seems, as it is.

Contrast humans with nature. Nature has its impeccable way of correctly and aptly paying tribute to our sun in setting the established positions in relative importance.

We strain to spot shooting stars, scrutinise the moon, search for the planets, marvel at the occasional comet and be dazzled by faraway stars.

The moon outshines them all.

Yet the moon orbits our earth. And meteors burn up in Earth’s atmosphere.

The earth and the planets and comets in turn orbit the Sun.

In astronomy and astrology, the other stars may be no lesser than our sun and the planets may be no lesser than our earth and whilst all may be instructive as to the origins of our universe and our own coming, they are simply too far away to be of any importance or to have any effect on our daily lives. :)

The conclusion of all of this is …. one should not spend too much time stargazing … :) :) :)

May 21, 2012 Posted by | Amateur Astronomy, Life | Leave a comment

Between Melancholia and Euphoria is a space called Mundane

I have had enough of shifting my speakers and it was time they had to go.

I was unable to convince myself to continue holding out for the ideal naim system when it was obvious that even if it materialised, I would not have much time to enjoy it.

Rather than work against the odds of getting the system into place, I took the easy way out – I sold my last remaining naim components to go for something simple.

It was a surrender. Non-resistance to the greater forces at hand.

Giving up the pursuit of perfection to embrace the ordinary and mundane.

Ordinary, normal and mundane does not equate to non-importance. There are ordinary things which we sometimes take for granted but are so essential that we cannot live without.

This frightening prospect was revealed in the movie “Melancholia”.

Terrified as I was by the prospect that our oft-taken-for-granted Earth might not be alone, and of the possibility of a sister planet, lurking in somewhere in space, appearing with little warning to collide into our Earth and subsume it and everything on it – including us, I sought to learn more about the celestial objects in outer space and started looking at telescopes.

My impulses were restrained only by the revelation that almost all sources had advised that a novice astronomer ought to stick to something simple and not too expensive.

I have since been torn between a medium and well-equiped power scope and the famed budget Galileoscope as I honestly do not know how long my latest fancy will last.

Whilst I hunted for the right telescope, my mind also wandered towards the possibility of marrying a camera onto the scope to do some serious astro-photography.

The telescope trail then led me towards the latest digital cameras and lenses. I have not touched photography for ages and I must say I am impressed by how much is available to the hobbyist for so little these days.

The Nikon D800E is a photographer’s dream. For me, it would make a fantastic fancam as well. :)

I have lived with multiple speakers for a long, long time.

Biking led to several hot machines sitting side by side in the garage.

Now a newfound interest in astronomy is threatening to unleash a resurrection of an old hobby with a vengeance.

Is there a simpler way to through all these desires and temptations?

That thought turned me towards my beloved Ipad which has accompanied me through a year of euphoria, boredom and melancholia and in doing so never made me feel the need to acquire anything.

And I began to think that I might be better off after all just by reading and learning about astronomy on my Ipad from the comfort of my couch rather than lugging and setting-up a telescope every now and then. :)

Must I pursue perfection when what’s mundane and at hand may be all that I need?

Indulging in the mundane avoids the complexities of life and the melancholia that comes with it.

Being mundane is about being ordinary and treading the simple path.

Being mundane would also mean being simple-minded and taking joy in the simple things.

It is about enjoying the stuff of life.

It is not about disconnectedness.

It is actually connectedness to the highest order.

It is about taking on life … and living it. :)

P.s. Taking pleasures in things simple and mundane is what i hope for and the Nikon D800E looks keen to help me do so but then again the Nikon D800E is anything but mundane. :)

April 3, 2012 Posted by | Amateur Astronomy, audiophilia, Life | Leave a comment

The Essence of Timing

I had the good fortune of having more time to spend on myself recently. This circumstance did not come about by chance. It was a product of deliberate action and good luck.

Consolidating one’s life can only do good. It takes time to learn that it is futile to spread oneself. And I was spreading myself too thin. My edges were fraying and something would have gone in a matter of time. I was fortunate to have that little voice persuade me to reduce the tension that was arising from stretching myself. As I slowed down and consciously set time for myself, I began to discover areas which had been neglected and which needed my time to deal with.

Time and tide waits for no man. Now that i am approaching my 40s :) sometimes i do look back with a little regret and wish i had just a little more time. Time is important as it is needed to get things done, to make money, to heal the body, to rest the mind, to nourish the soul, to think about directions as well as simply to slow down to appreciate life.

Every cloud has a silver lining.

In spite of the setbacks, I had the good fortune to be blessed with good timing.

Sometimes things go awry because of some wrongly recorded appointment…. but the timing of which can make it a blessing instead :) and it just happened that after i had decided to consolidate myself, I had the “misfortune” of being in a place. I was there “incorrectly” for a “wrong” matter but somehow at the “right” time.

And so when the golden opportunity presented itself. Something told me to take the step to find out more and I did. I could not have taken a more correct and timely decision and there it begins the story of a new chapter.

As this new chapter progressed. I found myself spending time more productively. Little pockets of time freed up allowed me clear the garage, clear the office, clear my bedroom. I even had time to clean up my stamp and coin collections so that things could be better managed. Whilst alot of the cleaning up meant that i had to let go of both my stamps and coins, it nevertheless was a right, timely and liberating thing to do.

As it is said, “To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under the sun.”

In lex (Legal) jargon in my area of work, the archetype clause which epitomises the importance of time is “Time is of the essence”.

After relinquishing things that no longer served me – in a sense that i had over time outgrown them, i managed to develop and re-combine my hobbies towards another direction and area of focus.

After dabbling into several deals of acquisition, i decided to give it my lot to build up the new collection. Though this meant refocusing, it was all for the better. My room looks better now with less stuff. Less things lie idle and unused in the garage. My possessions have all taken a smaller scale –  they could fit into my pocket. They are also more likely to hold their value as they have had since time immemorial. :)

Having more time in my hands, I also managed to trade and reduce the number of temperamental motorcycles down to just 2. My current 2 fuel-injected motorcycles finally give me a little bit more ease of mind about their reliablity. [come to think of it, fuel injected engines are touted to be superior because of the real-time live-feed from the sensors in the exhaust which measure the degree and completeness of the combustion which goes to the On Board computer which adjusts the fuel-air mixture and the TIMING of the ignition spark] And I did go a little overboard in my drive to downsize such that i contemplated even selling off another one of them so as to make myself a one-bike guy. This has, however, over time become more and more difficult.

The two bikes each have a character and feel of their own. They handle very differently even though they are in the same class. Though they were not my first choice, [My first choice being the storm coloured Yamaha FJR1300 which is no longer available - which means i will need to hunt for a good condition used sample. The current 2011 model is silver tone.] they have inevitably over these past 4 months become an inseparable part of my life.

The 2 bikes also sit very prettily side by side in the garage. Their Orange and White colours contrast starkly and brightly for a pair of motorbikes. Colours which i had also grown to love deeply.

The timing of how these 2 motorbikes came to be parked side by side was also very inspiring. Things would not have led to them being together if not for the events that have occurred in the first place, awaiting to bring the current state to fruition. Out of desperation and frustration, I had almost decided to sell my Orange bike without even riding it. If not for the fact that I had at the same time missed out on 5 consecutive attractive deals of used FJRs at the shop, I would not have seriously considered acquiring my White bike when it came to me and I first laid eyes on it. It was only after I had confirmed the deal for the White bike that I decided that it was ludicrous of me to be searching for a newer bike when i already had a brand new unused one sitting in the shop already registered under my name.

And so it has been truly a process of consolidating and clearing on all fronts.

The two bright coloured bikes now take turns ferrying me round the island. I have recently discovered that as they are my trusty steeds when it comes to transport, they also happen to help me in my acquisition trips for my recently re-focused hobby. Talk about good timing.

Having had time to think and talk also allowed me to get involved in some investment. As with all investments, I made some and lost some. And fortunately the experience has made me wiser than if i had not had the chance to dabble in it. As it is with all investments, the timing of your investment, more often than not, happens to determine whether or not your investment turns out to be good.

The importance of timing goes beyond deals and investments, it is so even with music.

As it is with Naim, timing of the music has always been its focus. Pace, rhythm, timing – are the bywords. Having time on my side, I deliberated enough and finally convinced myself to relinquish the spare equipment which was merely just spending time idling around.

Now for once in a very long time i can finally safely say, within each system, all components are being used at the same time, :) though not all the systems are being put to use at the same time. :) The redundant naims are at the present moment being converted to cash and hopefully, they will be in time reinvested into items that would be more useful.

The timing of their sale and the availability of spare cash would also determine how the remaining Naim components are going to be set up. Now that the space has improved and opportunities for change increased, the lost dream of  Naim’s Active six-pack DBL system is resurfacing once again.

Naim’s Active Six-Pack DBL system is something which is to many people to be from a bygone era. More than 20 years have passed since its introduction, but the passage of time does not necessarily mean that if something is old, it is no longer good enough :) More often than not, whether a thing or a person is considered good depends on what lies beneath the outer covering. :)

That is also not to say that as i grow older, i will almost definitely like older stuff. Well that is true for music, coins, stamps and maybe some hifi systems. But I have now conceded that i have outgrown my love for old bikes. In this regard, i think the automobile industry has certainly improved with time – newer bikes are indeed better.

But I am also similar to people in general in that i have a liking for new and young things. The girls in SNSD are a very good example. They are all very young. As it is their ages range from 20-22.

SNSD is the acronym for So Nyuh Shi Dae which is the original Korean name of the South Korean Girl k-pop band Girls’ Generation. They are to me the best girl band to have ever walked, danced and pranced the face of this earth. SNSD also comprises of 9 members, they are: TaeYeon, Jessica, Tiffany, Sunny, Soo Young, HyoYeon, SeoHyun, Yuri and Yoona.

The thing about SNSD is that the beauty of all their performances goes beyond pretty faces. It is actually found in the impeccable timing of their dance moves. Now having been involved in taekwondo performances and demonstrations before, i know very well that it is one thing to be able to perform a technique. It is totally another thing to be able to get the timing correct for an entire group of performers for a certain move. It is entirely another different level to be able to do it time and time again for an entire performance.

Of late, SNSD’s songs have taken a more mature note. Its about time though. But somehow or the other, my preference is still for the older stuff, from their debut year. Some of SNSD’s performances done pre-debut and during debut really exemplify precision timing.

I have to look for one of their exemplary performances and link it up here so that people can see what kind of effort went into creating the timing and synergy of their performance. :) Found it. Here are 2 exemplary performances: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UmH2ik-pL94&feature=related and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rl_loDLP53w&feature=related

I must not forget to mention that it was also timing that finally allowed me to attend SNSD’s coming concert in Singapore. This sequence of events was very timely indeed. If i had not consolidated, i would not have had enough time. if i did not have enough time, i would not have cleared my work. If i had not cleared my work,  i would not have had the time and energy to think about attending. Further, if i had not had the time, i could not have talked my friends into going with me.

But this was not all smooth sailing. When their concert ticket sales was launched online at midnight, the several thousand tickets were gone in a matter of 40 plus minutes. Talk about selling out in record time. The number of people trying to get tickets at the same time caused the electronic booking system to jam up. Fortunately, the organisers had the wisdom to add another concert date, and even with that extra day of tickets, i had to try a number of times to book my tickets. That is in the nutshell, how i got my SNSD concert tickets. :)

At this moment, I am currently happily taking my time to work on the essentials of a career to nourish the bank account, spending time on my hobbies to nourish the soul. If the experience of the concert is good, i might just try to acquire and set up Naim’s Active Six-Pack DBL system as that is the one system which supposedly can produce music at real live concert levels :)

As to whether i will take my hobbies to the extreme, only time will tell – which is after the concert.

This post is rushed out today 4:51pm on 8th December 2011 very timely on the EVE of So Nyuh Shi Dae’s Concert in Singapore which happens on the 9th December 2011. My ticket is for the 10th :). I have just finished clearing the bulk of my backlog, finished a meeting with a client and about to rush off to have a haircut, collect my concert tickets and be back home in time for a family dinner.

Under such trying circumstances, I am quite sure nobody will fault me on the content or timing of this post. :)

December 8, 2011 Posted by | audiophilia, Life, So Nyuh Shi Dae - Girls' Generation | Leave a comment

The Power of 9

In case many of us have not noticed, the number 9 is actually the biggest digit in the numerical system in use today.

Just in case many of us have also yet to notice, 9 always appears in the somewhat strategic and somehow oddest of places.

Firstly, 9 is the recorded strength on the Richter scale of the recent Japanese Earthquake that hit northeast Japan.

9 also appears in phone numbers which are essential all over the world, e.g. 911 in USA. In Singapore 999 for the police and 995 for the ambulance services.

Closer to home, where there has been an election fever for the longest time, this campaign has also been characterised also by the number 9, we have always had the customary 9 day campaign period for eons and until recently 9 single member constituencies used to house the braver of the PAP candidates.

The recent boundary changes have added 3 brave men [when i say brave i mean brave enough to be fielded in an SMC] into the PAP fold and seemingly the magical number 9 had disappeared. But interestingly as if by coincidence the number 9 reappeared in the form of 9 seats for NMPs and 9 seats for NCMPs. :)

On the subject of bravery, this election also saw the opposition display its fair share of brave men. SPP’s Sec-Gen Chiam See Tong joined his Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC team to try to take down that GRC. WP’s Sec-Gen Low Thia Khiang joined his Aljunied team to try to capture Aljunied GRC. This has been described by some as going into the mountain to get the tiger cubs. To go and get the tiger is of course a good thing but we should all remember that a cat has 9 lives. And a tiger is a big cat.

Besides extending the life of a cat, the number 9 also had some powers of coalescence and division. And this time it was within Socialist Front’s backyard that the number 9 wrecked havoc.

I had again 9 aging men (myself included) in the council of the Socialist Front. There was a king cat in the mountain of Tanjong Pagar. Prior to the elections, no firm decision was made on going after the kingcat. It was only after our withdrawal that an attempt was made by some renegade members to go for Tanjong Pagar GRC. This last minute attempt naturally ran into problems. Now that the elections would be over, it remains to be seen whether the experience of sitting out this 9 days of election hustings would be a unifying or disunifying event.

Amongst the parties participating in this election, the 9 day hustings also exerted pressure to bring the parties in solidarity with each other.

In the past we had the fallen PAP candidates and walkover PAP ministers who cried. Then its those PAP ministers who were stepping down [Lim Boon Heng], then the last thing i heard was even Khaw Boon Wan was close to tears. We also had a Workers’ Party candidate who cried on his… erm… introduction as candidate. SJP’s Sec-Gen Desmond Lim Bak Chuan also shed some tears due to the stress of the campaign. The sensational Nicole Seah also fell prey to her emotions. As to how many more candidates will be left crying upon the revelation of the polling day’s results is for everyone to imagine.

The pressure of these 9 days also honestly did some good for the country, we have a humbled George Yeo, we have Vivian Balakrishnan finally apologising for his unkind remarks made in parliament, Lee Hsien Loong apologised as well.

If this is anything to go by, I must say that there must be more of such 9 day elections so that certain people can be brought down closer to mother earth.

This to me signals the maturing of politics. This is good for the country. This is how a ruling party should behave. Be willing to admit that you are wrong. Be willing to change and further our nationhood.

As usual, it will be unlikely that a single post on this blog is to come out of my fingers without making reference to SNSD. As explained previously before, SNSD is the acronym for So Nyuh Shi Dae – Girls’ Generation. They are to me the best girl band to have ever walked the face of this earth. SNSD is also made up of 9 members: TaeYeon, Jessica, Tiffany, Sunny, SeoHyun, HyoYeon, SooYoung, Yuri and Yoona.

The trouble with SNSD is that more often than not, Sones like us just cannot seem to get enough of them. SNSD videos are a mix of group shots, panned shots and close up shots of the girls. This was the same for live broadcasts of their performances as well as their music videos. The beauty of SNSD is in their synchronised dancing. However, given 9 pretty faces, cameramen often zoom in for close ups and given the way their videos are mixed, being able to see the entire action of a song is itself a miracle on its own.

Complete and unedited dance versions of their performances are very rare such that even leaked out practice videos have gained a following.

Samples of the practice videos are at the following links:

Genie (Tell Me Your Wish / I Just Wanna Wish) – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QKPxeS6uXt8

Oh! [This is the cheerleading song] – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S7SYWFeaSqc&feature=related

My Best Friend [watch for TaeYeon's mistake] – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vmaa81tt9Wo

Now practice videos being practice videos, no one should expect them to be dressed to the 9s. These are not performances but leaked videos of their practices. The appreciation is not in the dressing but their dance moves, the choreography, their timing, their poise and gracefulness.

Some Sones were obviously dissatisfied when they started delving into making the videos more interesting and having organised fancam recordings so that they would not miss out on every move of each of their favourite SNSD member.

Some Sones having decided that one screen playing SNSD was not enough, pioneered the use of 9 screens (they wanted to look at all 9 fancams together so they split the screen into ninths – each playing one fancam). Later on some brought the game further, some wanted 9 different SNSD performances of the same song to be put on the same screen, then it was cast, someone mixed 9 videos into a super SNSD HD video sending some Sones to cloud 9 and giving some others sleepless nights.

Maybe I am reading too much,  if SNSD has nine members it would be apt to divide the screen into nine miniscreens for the screensaver. But i could have sworn that it was the Soshi fans did it first, it was only thereafter did the SNSD Daum Screensaver come along, then came the SNSD Woongjin Coway advertisement.

The 9th of March is also Kim TaeYeon’s birthday. And if you take a closer note of Kim TaeYeon and her cheerleader’s garb and oversized jersey in some of SNSD’s music videos, her jersey is always numbered ‘9’. Someone said that my adulation for SNSD bordered on insanity and obsession….

Notwithstanding the above, it is clear that the power of 9 works its magic once again. As stated earlier, the number 9 appears not only just in the 9 days of campaigning, there is now the promise of 9 NCMP seats, the 9 parties contesting: PAP, WP, SDP, NSP, RP, SPP, SDA (SJP/PKMS)

but interestingly none of the 9 parties actually fielded 9 members…. the minimum number of candidates each participating party fielded is 7 which was obviously an attempt to qualify for the Party Political Broadcast on TV which required each party to field a minimun of 6 candidates. Now this sets me thinking… and incidentally, the polling day has also been fixed as 7th May 2011. What does that mean of the things that are to come?

On this polling day, it pays for each of us to sit down and think about the things happening around us and draw commonalities from the coincidences and the unexplained.

In any event, since Socialist Front had already decided to take a back seat for this round of elections, this 9 days to me have been a time of firefighting, deep thought, self-reflection and re-orientation. This blogpost is the product of these 9 days of detachment.

It would be heinously wrong for me to assert that I had come up with this post entirely on my own intellect and reflection. It would be apt for me to pay tribute to the original creators of the phrase that lent inspiration to this post.

“The Power of 9″ is actually the phrase used by the Soshified community in tribute to the South Korean Girl Band named So Nyuh Shi Dae – Girls’ Generation a.k.a. SNSD.

May 7, 2011 Posted by | Life, Politics, So Nyuh Shi Dae - Girls' Generation | Leave a comment

Socialist Front’s Statement at 15th April 2011 Press Conference – On the Front’s Withdrawal from General Election 2011

The following is my statement to the press as Secretary-General, Socialist Front on the Front’s withdrawal from participation in GE 2011. This delayed posting is the result of fatigue and distractions the author encountered subsequent to the Press Conference and which will be the subject matter of an upcoming post. In any event, the Press Statement went as follows:

Socialist Front Press Conference
Press Statement for 15th April 2011

We are Singapore’s newest and smallest political party.

We were formed on 1st September 2010. 7 months after our formation, we are thrust into the fever preceding Singapore’s 12th General Election. In this election, 3 aspects stand out:

1. Changes in boundaries, wards absorbed and new wards carved out.
2. 12 SMC seats out of 87 seats total
3. 9 NCMP seats for top unelected losers from opposition

These aspects must be considered against the PAP’s overwhelming dominance in parliament. The NCMP scheme cuts both ways, the PAP will use it to undermine the need to vote for the opposition as the scheme ensures opposition presence in parliament.

The NCMP scheme also deviates from the principles of parliamentary democracy and is thus a hurdle for Singapore’s political development.

The Socialist Front believes that success for the opposition, which is real political development in Singapore’s interest can be achieved by:-

1. collectively rejecting the NCMP scheme.
2. co-operating to avoid multi-cornered fights.
3. focusing resources behind their best candidates.
4. campaigning on a common message on a united front.

Our party like all political parties desire electoral success but the nation’s political development is an overriding objective and Singapore’s interests must come first before our party and individual interests.

There looms many multi-cornered fights which are likely to advantage the incumbent.

In a hotly debated and carefully considered decision, the Front has taken a position for this General Election. This position can be summarized into 5 points:-

1. Singapore’s political development takes precedence over our party & individual interests.

2. National politics should not be degraded into an arena for personal ambition or turned into a contest of personal egos.

3. The Front does not intend to split the opposition vote by way of multi-cornered fights.

4. The Front does not intend to endorse the NCMP scheme.

5. The opposition is likely to field many presentable and well-qualified candidates, Singapore will not be worse off with our absence. Our non-participation will serve to benefit our fellow opposition.

Our chairman Mr. Ng Teck Siong is our party’s only confirmed candidate. He is keen to contest Mountbatten SMC. The party has given him our blessings and the option to do so, so long as he does not enter into a 3-cornered fight in Mountbatten.

We believe that our position removes fog from the opposition camp and we sincerely wish our fellow opposition all the best in the coming days.

Chia Ti Lik
Secretary-General
Socialist Front, Singapore

There are 4 videos of the event which is up on Straits Times’ RazorTV Election Website.

April 20, 2011 Posted by | Politics | Leave a comment

Byul [Star] – A song that touches the heart :)

It is no secret that Kim TaeYeon adorns my desktop, the SNSD Daum Screensaver appears every now and then when my mind goes empty. I have so many SNSD songs in my phone that no other application takes up more space than the music program. One of the songs so often played is the MP3 of Taeyeon’s rendition of Byul.

Byul was originally sung by Korean actress Kim Ah Joong in the movie “200-pound Beauty”. A performance good enough for me to remember that it was a very nice song. Not knowing a single word of Korean in its lyrics did not stop me from feeling the energy and emotion of the performance.

Having gotten to like SNSD, SNSD’s videos are all over youtube by the way, it was a pleasant surprise that my favourite TaeYeon had also sung a version of Byul live on Korean Radio. I have always admired TY’s rendition of Byul [Star] without really understanding a word of it.

Surfing around in youtube, I chanced upon an english subtitled version of Byul three nights ago. I could not help myself but reduce the lyrics into writing. The music is touching, the lyrics are touching, and TY’s performance makes me breathless. :) it brought a tear to my eye. :)

I don’t know if this will work but this is the link:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IBDNaEdVobQ&playnext=1&list=PL502A1883DA48D5CC

Here is how the lyrics go:

Lyrics – Byul (Star)

The wind is shaking the windows

And over my small room

The stars fill up the sky

Shining brightly too many to count

The stars reassure the tired me

They wipe away the many tears

That are deep inside me

“Don’t be hurt too much!” they hug me tight, pamper me and comfort me

Telling me to go to sleep

Though I’m exhausted to the point where I can’t walk

Though my tears blur my vision

I’ll still smile in front of my love that I’m not able to get

Even though our happy times were short

I’ll treasure it deep inside my heart

Like those countless number of stars

Forever

My dream is coming

Though it is unusual that my one star is bright

It is very bright

Even blinding

It comes down to my shoulder

“Stop being so sad” it holds my hand, as it touches me, and gives me a warm hug

Though I’m exhausted to the point where I can’t walk

Though my tears blur my vision

I’ll still smile in front of my love that I’m not able to get

Even though our happy times were short

I’ll treasure it deep inside my heart

Like those countless number of stars

Only for today

I won’t cry though my eyes fill with tears

I want to laugh like those stars

I want to cherish all my happy moments

Deep inside my heart

Like those countless number of stars

Forever

I used to like the tune of this song alot and I loved TaeYeon’s performance. Now that I know the meaning behind the lyrics. It makes me enjoy TaeYeon’s rendition even more. :)

April 14, 2011 Posted by | So Nyuh Shi Dae - Girls' Generation | Leave a comment

Lessons from the past – the same road, the same reason

This morning i awoke with a heavy ache in the chest. I could not fathom why. I was not really ill. Perhaps i ought to see a doctor for it but my schedule does not permit me taking time out easily to address minor aches and pains these days.

I wondered if its because i did too much walking recently. I realise that these days, i like the dead of the night. In fact i long for it. Time to be alone. Time to myself. To search and to find myself. These days, i can no longer run anymore. Age has caught up. Knees hurt. To counter this, i resort to taking long walks instead. in the dead of the night. Alone. My long lonely walks was serving a dual purpose on getting me some much needed exercise as well as time to reflect.

In my recent reflections, I end up questioning the things i have done. For myself, for others. All in the name of idealism. Sometimes no one sees the burden actually shouldered by the person coming in to solve the problem when the problem was not created by the problem solver in the first place.

When the problem has been solved and consequences follow, the problem solver is interestingly left standing alone. I did not see this so clearly until of late when the prospect of progress is placed on the table. I saw the scramble. I saw the orientation of agendas. I begin to see and recognise where loyalties truly lie.

At this juncture, i have to pay tribute to an acquaintance of mine. I recall a particular trying and painful episode in September 2005. This friend knowing which path i was on had chosen to warn me – out of pure concern – that the path that I was taking would be hard, extremely hard. She warned me of the hard truth of the quest for power in politics, of glory and fame and the lust for it. She told me that there were no real friends. There was something that each person involved would want for themselves and this itself would be the key spanner that screws things up when the test comes. Out of pure innocence and naivety, i brushed her concerns aside.

She told me that everyone involved in politics has an agenda and for my own good i better not be too idealistic. I am likely to be alone in my quest. A smart person would ask “What’s in it for me”. Its a pity i did not heed her advice then. And I took 6 long years to learn this. :)

The New Paper recently interviewed me telling me that SF scored the lowest in the survey on credibility as well as recognisability. One of my answers to the reporter is that the Socialist Front is being left out of some events like forums organised by NUSS and talkshows by CNA’s Talking Point bearing in mind we are Singapore’s youngest political party, is it surprising? :)

It was then that I realised that the Socialist Front of Singapore is treading this path alone :) so is Chia Ti Lik Secretary-General of the Socialist Front. :)

There is a serious need to reassess, need to recalculate. Need to change operational philosophy and doctrine. There is just simply so much to do. And surprise surprise… I am doing it alone.

This is not something bad. It just thoroughly removes the naive idealism. Once and for all. :)

March 26, 2011 Posted by | Life, Politics | Leave a comment

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