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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 Leone, 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. 🙂

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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

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

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

Amidst the pandemonium and electoral horsetrading, this is a rushed tribute to SNSD – because 9th March is Kim TaeYeon’s Birthday

I am slacking to comment on politics because amidst the many fast changing circumstances post release of the electoral boundaries, I find myself wanting to write more about my interests than anything else.

Amidst tons of work and lots of stress, bliss came in the form of SNSD’s 1st Asia Tour Album. I had ordered it online the moment I got wind of its release. It came in the mail in the usual pretty pink colours of Girls’ Generation. Since then it has been permanently playing in my last remaining Naim CD player.

Of my recent obsessions, SNSD tops the list.  I had also wanted to write about the SNSD phenomenon for some time already. Now the reason why I rather write about 9 prancing girls more than current events is because there are lessons to be learnt from SNSD a.k.a. So Nyuh Shi Dae a.k.a. Girls’ Generation which comprises of 9 distinct members. As usual, this tribute starts with listing their names, they are: TaeYeon, Jessica, Tiffany, SeoHyun, Sunny, Yuri, HyoYeon, SooYoung and Yoona.

We seldom truly find celebrities who have the cut, talent, looks to do the things they do. Though for the case of SNSD, a large part of it is probably the combined result of talent, grooming and many years of hard training put into their act but then again how many with the potential have that kind of determination, grit, and faith to last that long?

I will track the girls’ time spent in training in another upcoming post but as it is, post debut, these girls currently rule the the asian entertainment scene. They will in time to come no doubt rule the global scene, bearing in mind that they are after almost 4 years in stardom after all still very young. This itself is very much an achievement on its own.

By simple comparison, even at our ages, many of us do not know what we want. Let alone at their age, the girls are already doing what they want and they are doing it excellently. Their success did not come overnight, for they had all taken a decision and a stand and started on a path many years before. Each of them had all trained for 4 – 7 painful years before debuting. In essence, at a very young age, they each knew what they wanted. Therefore, to put this tribute in its proper context, let us take a look at their ages (with compliments to Wikipedia):

Member List
Stage Name Birth Name Date of Birth and Age
Romanized Hangul Romanized Hangul
Taeyeon 태연 Kim Tae-Yeon 김태연 March 9, 1989 (1989-03-09) (age 21)
Jessica 제시카 Jessica Jung
Jung Soo-Yeon
정수연 April 18, 1989 (1989-04-18) (age 21)
Sunny 써니 Lee Soon-Kyu 이순규 May 15, 1989 (1989-05-15) (age 21)
Tiffany 티파니 Stephanie Hwang
Hwang Mi-Young
황미영 August 1, 1989 (1989-08-01) (age 21)
Hyoyeon 효연 Kim Hyo-Yeon 김효연 September 22, 1989 (1989-09-22) (age 21)
Yuri 유리 Kwon Yu-Ri 권유리 December 5, 1989 (1989-12-05) (age 21)
Sooyoung 수영 Choi Soo-Young 최수영 February 10, 1990 (1990-02-10) (age 21)
Yoona 윤아 Im Yoon-A 임윤아 May 30, 1990 (1990-05-30) (age 20)
Seohyun 서현 Seo Joo-Hyun 서주현 June 28, 1991 (1991-06-28) (age 19)

Since getting the Korean Search Portal Daum to create a screensaver in their honour, their latest accolade was for Intel obtaining their endorsement for Intel’s latest core processor. Their Visual Dreams [Intel Collaboration Song] is a smash hit. One should see their MV and live performances on the fancams. Even more recently, French fashion house Dior have also jumped onto the bandwagon to seek their endorsement.

The success of these 9 girls are due to more than just pretty faces. They represent direction, youthful drive, commitment to excellence, unity in diversity, amongst others. They also represent a society which has become conducive for people to reach for their dreams at a young age. Such that those with potential seek out the paths they are best suited, corporations are willing to invest in grooming talent for the future, commercial set ups which are enlightened and determined enough to produce excellence and success by putting the very best in the front and putting all the support and resources behind them.

In this day and age, where many things are depressing, thank goodness we have SNSD to brighten up the world. 🙂

They are the best examples of the exact opposite of a society reduced to living without drive, prevented from dreaming, living a life mired in fear, hypocrisy and mediocrity. 🙂 🙂

On this day, we have to give thanks to:

1. SM Entertainment for talent scouting and investing in the girls’ training. 🙂

2. Daum, Intel and Dior for these particular sponsorships. 🙂

3. The girls themselves for deciding to do what they want and embarking on it, then doing it happily and doing it well. 🙂

4. The Sones for the excellent Fancams – recording and editing. 🙂

5. Finally, God for SNSD. 🙂

This post was rushed out today because tomorrow the 9th of March is dorky kid leader Kim Tae Yeon’s birthday. She is the eldest of the 9 girls and she is currently … surprise, surprise … only 21. She will be the 1st of the girls to turn 22 tomorrow.

This blog proudly joins all the Sones in wishing “A very Happy 22nd Birthday to SNSD Leader Kim TaeYeon. May God’s blessings stay with you. May TaeYeon and SNSD have many more happy performances to come!”

And in the characteristic usual parting shot…. Chigumen… So Nyuh Shi Dae! [Right Now, it’s Girls’ Generation!] 🙂 🙂 🙂

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

The cost [cause] and effect of taking up positions :)

Previously, I gave up all my extremely exotic and capable Krell amplifiers, Onkyo and Sony CD players in my switch to Naim Electronics. I chose Naim because it made music and its designs suited my lifestyle. I declared Naim to be the world’s finest and I dived headlong into Naimophilia.

I have a 700-CD collection which I thought I would listen to till i grow old and with that I allowed my Naim obsession to get out of hand – ending up with a stable of 3 Naim CD Players, a myriad of Naim amplifiers, 2 pairs [at one stage i had 4 pairs] of Naim speakers amongst others. 🙂

Then something happened recently which led me to conclude that my dream system of Active Six-Pack Naim Nap135s into DBLs would never materialise, I then was forced to decide what to do with an electronic crossover and 6 amplifiers and other surplus equipment of varying value and purposes lying idle and gathering dust.

As the elections were drawing nearer, I toyed with the idea of selling my surplus and idle equipment for spare cash. I started first with my Naim CD Players. They were chosen to go first because I knew that they were sought after and were likely to find quick buyers. Indeed, the buyers came and went very quickly before i realised, i had committed to sell all my 3 players. I had kept my CD players without expecting to sell them. however, strangely when I had committed to sell them, I began to think of selling almost everything else.

This was because Naim equipment uses proprietary connectors and cables and I took positions when I acquired them. Things were markedly different when i decided to sell off my front end which was akin to cutting off the rose at the bud or taking one wheel out of a 2 wheel cart. Though I could have substituted a replacement, the situation would not have been ideal.

I then realised that when things are so intimately connected, any decision made would have a certain domino effect. As I take make changes with my equipment front end, the limitations of a new combination forces further consequential changes and I am forced to relinquishing of equipment and find a new position and balance. The positions and steps which i took earlier led me to have to take the current positions now. 🙂 Alot poorer in fact.

Interestingly, inasmuch as I thought I would have loved to hold on to my beloved equipment, I felt a certain liberation from being relieved of their ownership and possession. This itself also proves that taking positions itself is not a bad thing. 🙂 even though sometimes I may sound as if I am coerced to do so and losing money in the process  –  it is actually part of growth. 🙂

When we take a position in politics, it means that we take a stand. Doing so connotes the idea that you wish to communicate a message. This must not be confused with the idea of being principled [which is also good] with regards to one’s position, which stems more from having an ideological standpoint.

In short, taking a position is taking a stand as a matter of choice at a certain point of time irregardless of circumstances, conditions and beliefs.

Taking positions allows others to know my stand and whom I am supportive of. 🙂

There are two schools of thought here.

Some believe that fence-sitting in life and politics may be the way to go – of being here and also being there, of not being here and also not being there.

Some others believe that standpoints and positions cannot be compromised and therefore simply they choose to make their stand.

To the first group, the second group may seem opinionated but the latter’s position is clear and good because at least it helps others know where they stand.

The only drawback of taking positions will be that it forces your opponents to react, and from the reaction of your opponents, there would be consequences (which is neither good or bad) flowing from the position that one is taking.

Position taking also has a place in military jargon. Taking positions mean assuming tactical, strategic, logistical or geographical and even political positions. The concept of taking a position militarily connotes determination and will. Since young, I have always been drawn and inspired by the displays of military determination [as opposed to military strength] to take/hold a position the images conjured by the call to “dig in” and “fix bayonets” or “charge”. The steely determination conveyed by such jargon perfectly epitomises the concept of taking up positions.

Back to my own life, another reason for the disappearance of fixation on equipment is due to SNSD. For the benefit of the readers who did not follow my earlier posts, SNSD is the acronym for So Nyuh Shi Dae / Girls’ Generation. In my view, they are the best girl band to have ever walked the face of this earth. SNSD is also made up of nine members: TaeYeon, Jessica, Tiffany, SeoHyun, HyoYeon, Yuri, Sunny, SooYoung and Yoona.

My SNSD obsession started when i seriously simplified my life recently. Inherent in simplification is actually letting go. Letting go of many things allowed me to better appreciate life and things in life for what they are.

For the first time in many many years, SNSD allowed me to take my attention away from the details of the reproduction. I stopped wondering whether the kickdrum sounded real and whether the trumpet sounded natural. I simply found myself sitting down to enjoy the music.

It was also around this time that I also took another stand. I managed to conclude that the equipment should help you enjoy and not detract you from the music.

This occurred around the time of my birthday. It was also coincidental that during this time, tensions on the Korean Peninsula were raised. With the sinking of the corvette Cheonan still fresh in people’s minds, North Korean artillery shelled YeonPyeong Island in yet another unprovoked attack. South Korean artillery returned fire in an exchange that would likely go down in history to be the 3rd battle of YeonPyeong. [Anyone can Wiki the 1st and 2nd Battles of YeonPyeong]

From various reports, both military and civilians in South Korea seem united in their determination to have their government show a firmer response to the North. Retired / Veteran special forces personnel demonstrated asking for firmer action. The ROK’s generals have also expressed support for firm action. Public sentiment seems to be supportive of war with the North if required. It is clear that the South Korean people want their government to take a firm stand against North Korea.

South Korea was forced to take a stand in 1950. The Americans sided them and even went to war. I recall watching one movie depicting the lives of pilots in a USAF fighter Wing serving in Korea flying F-86 Sabres battling Soviet / North Korean Mig-15s over the skies of Korea in a tale of courage and sacrifice.

This time round, though the United States deployed CVN-73 USS George Washington for joint military drills with the South Korea, it remains to be seen whether the USA with all its internal problems would take a firm position in the possible impending Korean conflict or did it merely rattle its sabre.

South Korea, after completing the joint exercises with US, continued with its own military exercises and deployments to the front line. South Korean President Lee Myung Bak has warned of serious consequences for the North Koreans and that reunification is near. This hints of South Korea’s intention to go the war alone if need be.

Pundits differ on whether or not an all out war will break out on the Korean Peninsula. My evaluation is that an all out war started by the North is unlikely. I would even go to say that an all out war is unlikely but if it occurs would be started by the South [by massive retaliation for further provocations] and this would only happen when certain indications appear.

Firstly, North Korea’s intent in the unprovoked shelling is obviously intended to raise tensions and rhetoric aimed at propping up a collapsing regime in the run up to the Father to Son succession.

Secondly, North Korea does not have the ability to mount a full scale invasion across the DMZ. North Korea does not have potent air power. Unless a surprise attack is made via succesful tunneling under the demilitarized zone, North Korean infantry crossing the DMZ will be cut down like grass before a grass-cutter’s blade and if they do get to the South Korean side of the DMZ they have to face and overcome elite South Korean Border Guards, each a black belter in Taekwondo.

Thirdly, South Korea is peace loving and tends towards restraint and would certainly not be the one to fire the first shot.

Therefore, the scenario likely cause for war would be when the North, sensing the South’s reluctance to foot the heavy cost of human lives of an all out war, might choose to push its luck with further provocations. An all out war will only come when the South decides to punish the North in retaliation for such further provocations.

However, South Korea will not go to war as yet because certain elements which indicate galvanising of national resolve to fight are not apparent yet. This is because despite all the rhetoric there has not yet been any clear call for war.

To me, the clear sign for imminent war would be when SNSD’s concerts are cancelled [for no apparent reason whatsover as opposed to reasons like Tiffany’s ligament injury or Taiwan’s spat with Korea over the Taekwondo refereeing] and SNSD begins to make appearances in ROK’s military bases to cheer and encourage their servicemen.  🙂 If and when that happens, Kim Jong Il will have reason to be afraid, be very afraid. 🙂 🙂

In the event a Korean conflict breaks out. My stand is firmly for South Korea, ROK.

In my view, the South Koreans deserve a pat on the back and support for punching well above their weight as a nation, be it in sports, economically, technologically, socially, politically and culturally they have excelled against many other countries in stark contrast with the North simply on the very reason that theirs is a society that thrives because it is a democracy. AND Democracy did not come to South Koreans simply served on a platter, they as a society and a nation paid a price for it [An example was the Kwangju Uprising – wiki this].

Inasmuch as democracy should be sought despite the costs involved, democracy when achieved must be defended at all costs.

In fact, if I had any say, I would even despatch our F-15s to South Korea to see action if need be. Interestingly, this is also a politically correct position since our current ruling party is friendly with the North Koreans and I am in the opposition so I have to be friendly with the South. 🙂

Taking up clear positions is in line with being transparent and on top of being true to yourself. I will take positions when the situation calls for it irrespective of the costs and consequences of doing so as the satisfaction, growth and lessons learnt will in any event be priceless.

However, war mongering and belligerence aside, despite the positions I have communicated, I would venture to suggest a more intelligent way to break up North Korea.

North Korea despite its reclusion, has its cracks and weaknesses. A recent report revealed that North Korea has imprisoned more than a thousand of its own people for possessing or imitating South Korean pop culture.

South Korean pop culture is the fruit of a free society which is a by-product of a true democracy.

The actions of the Kim Jong Il regime in imprisoning their people for admiring the South betray their fears that South Korean pop culture is indeed an undesireable influence and a threat to their continued hold on power.

To break the Kim Jong Il regime from within, you need to bring democracy to North Korea.

To bring democracy to North Korea, you need to bring a thirst for democracy to the North Koreans.

To bring a thirst for democracy to North Koreans, the best weapon to do so is not with bullets and shells.

What the South needs to deliver to the North is to show to the North Koreans that their political and economic set up and their ruling party will never be able to facilitate or produce i.e. a culture worth being proud of.

If i were Lee Myung Bak, I would make the following orders for the counterstrike:

1. Request American assistance in the form of adequate Patriot Missile Defence Systems to be deployed;

2. Request American assistance in the form of a Tomahawk cruise missile strike package to be deployed;

3. Take out North Korean long range artillery, air power, air defences, nuclear facilities and sites in conjunction with several rounds of precision air strikes by Tomahawks, Stealth fighters and bombers;

4. Air drop Korean Pop culture [especially SNSD] vcds all over North Korea.

5. Beef up defences all around but Broadcast Korean Pop culture [especially SNSD] songs over to the North Korean border guards at the demilitarised zone. 🙂 🙂

How the North Koreans will react to the invasion by South Korean pop culture is anybody’s guess but what I am certain is that the delivery of a glimpse of what a free society may bring will precipitate very quickly the cause and effect of the actions of a regime that has closed off a society for decades with their warped ideas.

Seeding North Korea on such a scale would cost millions of dollars or billions of won. This, however, pales in comparison with the cost of human lives and infrastructure damage should an all out war occur. Therefore, the cost [cause] and effect of such a move will definitely be promising. 🙂 🙂

December 12, 2010 Posted by | audiophilia, Life, Politics, So Nyuh Shi Dae - Girls' Generation | Leave a comment

Honey, Chocolate, Cooky, Goobne Chicken, A-Solution

Honey, Chocolate, Cooky, Goobne Chicken, Naeng Myun, A – Solution?

I was getting too fat and so i put myself on diet. As i watched the calories, my thoughts wandered to fried chicken, chocolate, honey and cooky and naeng myun [cold korean buckwheat noodles]. As the diet was slow to take effect, i began to question whether I was depriving myself for nothing and whether the diet was A-Solution?

In life, we choose what we eat, who we befriend, the goals we seek, what path we set for ourselves. As always, consequences arise from the decisions that we make. The effects flowing therefrom neither immediately obvious nor necessarily good or bad but they are certainly there.

If I choose to have huge steak for dinner, i run the risk of clogging my arteries. If i choose to indulge myself with fried chicken, I run the risk of a bout of heatiness. If i choose to deny myself, i feel the pangs of hunger and lack. If i endure the hunger, i might get slimmer. I choose a fancy sportbike as transport, can i complain of sore back and wrists on a daily basis?

If i choose to cling on so tightly, my pain of loss will be so much more unbearable. 🙂 If i choose a less trodden and difficult path, it is inevitable that the journey will be lonely 🙂 but destination will be no less sweet :).

In short, our actions and decisions will also set off a reaction, however minute, to set the stage that eventually will come. And when we meet the stage that we set for ourselves, we should know where it came from.

Talking about stages, the stage was set by Sones for So Nyuh Shi Dae recently on 23rd October 2010.

23rd October 2010 was So Nyuh Shi Day – the day when So Nyuh Shi Dae (SNSD) [Girls’ Generation] came to Singapore.

The newspaper reports on 25th October 2010 were all aplomb with acknowledgement that the loudest cheers and applause went to So Nyuh Shi Dae. The reporters, however, might not have perceived the reasons for SNSD’s popularity correctly. Some wrote that the loud cheers were due to the short and dark blue sailorette outfit which emphasised the long slim legs and high heels. According to one, SNSD’s songs were of secondary importance and the girls even went off key.

This to me was not an accurate description of what had happened. My vicarious experience of the concert obtained from observing youtube uploads and conversations with eyewitnesses corroborate my belief that the girls performed impeccably and that overzealous fans who could not stop cheering completely drowned out Seo Hyun and Jessica’s voices when they tried to address the crowd.

Why that kind of popularity and adulation for 9 Korean Girls singing merely 4 songs in a foreign land? How can some 9 dancing girls become so popular?

To me, SNSD is the symbolic example of how a conducive environment and culture + potential + talent + hard training + proper planning = outstanding results. The SNSD story is in short inspirational.

The night of 23rd October 2010 saw me languishing at home when SNSD was at the Expo Singapore Hall 2 less than 3km away. I did not have any right to complain. I had chosen to not camp out overnight for a concert ticket and deservingly i had to be excluded. There was no chance i can get my SNSD poster or album autographed. As i had no cause for complaint as the plight was my own choosing, A – Solution was for me to indulge myself with Honey, Chocolate, Cooky, Chicken, Naeng Myun.

The good thing to come out of the indulgence is the inspiration for yet another blog posting

Contrary to what some might expect, Honey, Chocolate, Cooky, Chicken, and Naeng Myun referred to here are not food. These are in fact the titles / sponsors of SNSD songs.

Honey (a.k.a Perfect For You) is an early SNSD song released in 2007.
Chocolate Love is an SNSD song sponsored by Samsung and used to promote Samsung mobile phones.
Cooky is an SNSD song and a cover of Hey Mickey sponsored by LG and is used to promote LG Cyon phones.
Goobne Chicken is a Korean restaurant chain serving fried chix and had adopted SNSD as its mascot or should i say SNSD adopted Goobne Chicken as its restaurant. Either way it seems to some people that Goobne Chicken = SNSD.
Naeng Myun i think is a song sponsored by some noodle brand delivered extremely well by SNSD Jessica and Park Myung Soo.

A-Solution is a brand of cosmetics with endorsed by SNSD Taeyeon.

This is by far my 3rd tribute to SNSD and an upcoming blog post likely titled the “So Nyuh Shi Dae Phenomena” is in the works. If this goes on, i just might get inspired enough to write poetry once again. 🙂

October 27, 2010 Posted by | Life, So Nyuh Shi Dae - Girls' Generation | Leave a comment

The perpetual human dilemma of having dual roles, double standards and cluttered motives… :)

The reason for my long absence is that I have been fighting tooth and nail to keep up with the work that has been piling up on my table. As I write this I can’t help but be reminded about this  joke about the successful lawyer who owns expensive watches but has little time as compared to the simple man owns no watches but has lots of time.

Now why is it that I have neither expensive watches nor the time???? 🙂

On a separate front, I have also been fighting and losing repeated Battles of the Bulge. My heavy workload mandated I get my morale and energy fixes. Therefore I brought war against the chix, devoured them time and time again. Herbal Chix, Fried Chix, BBQ Chix. After each battle, interestingly, the waistline gets a little thicker and the pants tighter.

At this point, I can’t help being reminded of another joke where someone approaches a grave and finds engraved on the tombstone “Here lies a lawyer and a good man.” The joke goes on to have the man question how did they ever put two people into one grave. The connotation often understood is that a lawyer cannot be a good man.

This I would beg to differ, though I think the question is valid, the actual reasons are different.

My explanation – Most lawyers are fat or sooner or later will get fat. With one dead and fat lawyer inside a grave it is simply just impossible to fit in another man. 🙂

There is of course a whole other set of  jokes about the people who will never make it to heaven: The politicians and the lawyers. Now what happens when you are both a lawyer and a politician…. ???? Where does that leave me?

Even though I am a lawyer, a budding politician and a moderately fat man, I have for all intents and purposes, always tried to be a good man.  Though sometimes I fail…. intentionally…  I almost always mean no harm… the tongue-in-cheek twist though, I must admit, has almost always been intentional. 🙂

A childhood friend’s dad recently passed on. I was saddened by the passing as it brought the fact of human fraility and mortality home once again. However, life just has to go on. Much time has flown by and I am already 36. Has anyone kept track of how much time each of us might have left on this earth?

Like it or not, we have to face whatever is thrown at us. How much better would it be for us to strive to face adversities cheerfully and also enjoy the process. For in death, there is nothing more to feel, nothing more to worry, nothing more to face, and nothing more to fear.

How much better then would it be for us to bring happiness, laughter and cheer to all who are around you and maybe beyond and when doing so press home a point that needs to be pressed. To me at least, that would be, in the words of the MasterCard advertisement, – “priceless”.

With that in mind, I deliberated on my attempts to be a good man (by my own admittedly flawed standards) whether i should continually pass unkind remarks towards members of the ruling party a.k.a PAP.

I counted 4 opportunities recently: Yacoob Ibrahim – Environment Minister (flooding), Vivian BalaKrishnan – MCYS (YOG Budget Overrun), Khaw Boon Wan Health (Means-Testing) who just underwent heart bypass surgery and my favourite minister …. ahem… Zorro Lim …. or should i say Lim Swee Say (Minister w/o portfolio and in the Prime Minister’s Office).

[To digress abit into public education] Now the problem that lies herein is this:

When people volunteer for, seek election to and thereafter hold public office, they are no longer their own man. They owe a duty to the public at large when they carry out their duties. They ought to expect to be FRIED when they don’t carry out their duties AND when they do carry out their duties they should expect criticisms from the public. (It does not mean that if you choose to put on some zorro suit and give out roses, the public owes it to you to give you roses in return) They should instead expect to receive brickbats and take it in their stride. [Haven’t you heard that life is not a bed of roses? In any event, even roses have thorns :)]

People in public office should therefore expect to be treated more robustly and not expect to be handled with kid gloves, for you are after all supposedly the best that we have 🙂 … or should i say the best the world has ever had…. the brightest and the most promising… the most reliable and of course …ahem…. the most selfless [how come i hear giggles?].

So therefore each of you ought to take the heat that comes with public office which sometimes may include some references to heat, pressure, the action and process of producing heat –  which we call in chemistry as – combustion .

This is also why phrases like “the baptism of fire” are coined even though John the Baptist had actually baptised using water….

You should also never hide or cower behind rules or allow subordinates and ball-carriers to create the impression that you are cowering in fear. Such behaviour does not exactly gel with your claims that you enjoy the support of the populace and that you yourself sincerely believe that you are doing good for the country. 🙂

And so I reasoned to myself that Lim is after all trying very hard to gain some acceptance. [Now i rather you catch me dead before i would even put on a Zorro suit, cape and all and giving roses to ladies.] And that what he did was something which i cannot, will not and dare not do, I would hence hold my peace. If there is anything to be done, the Prime Minister himself ought to award his minister in his Prime Minister’s Office a medal – for courage. 🙂

Khaw is unfortunately not in good health. My code [rules of combat in the Taekwondo arena] does not allow me to strike a fallen opponent even though you may be in competition and you have him in range and in sight.

And so I held back on my comments on Khaw Boon Wan and my favourite minister Lim Swee Say. I managed to restrain myself. I relinquished the opportunity to taste that priceless feeling, that feeling on cloud nine, that top of the world sensation.

This was so despite the fact that I had to pay S$1,400 in fines recently for what was levied against me and another for being part of an assembly of probably 20 persons who had gathered to celebrate National Day 2008 in Toa Payoh Central.

I accepted my lot and came to terms with being S$1,400 poorer. To keep spare cash handy, I made a painful decision to sell my blood red VFR800fi interceptor.

At about the same time, news had it that So Nyuh Shi Dae (SNSD) was coming to Singapore for some K-Pop Night Concert with 5 other Korean bands. I had hoped that this money would now come in handy.

But guess what happened, even before i could do anything nearly 2000 fans had turned out to queue for the limited tickets the night before. [I repeat the night before] The size of the crowd scared the shit out of the authorities and the organisers that the ticket selling date had to be cancelled and queue numbers were issued to the people who turned up to disperse them. The crowd must have been amazing.

Kudos to all the SNSD fans for turning up in strength in full support. Kudos to SM Entertainment for training the girls so well in what they do. Kudos to the girls themselves for being as they are: TaeYeon, Jessica, Tiffany, SeoHyun, Sunny, SooYoung, Yuri, HyoYeon and last but not least Yoona. 🙂

They [SNSD] afterall gave my fellow Singaporeans a reason to assemble 🙂 and assemble they did 🙂

I have to shamefully admit that i wasn’t present at this assembly. 🙂

But no one should expect me to be there because I am, after all, the Secretary-General of the newly formed Socialist Front. I cannot be caught oogling at a bunch of girls who have just barely reached adulthood. Like they say, what’s done in private, people can’t see and don’t care, but what’s done in public is in full public view. Furthermore, the last thing I need now is to be summoned as Secretary-General of the Socialist Front before a Disciplinary Committee of the Socialist Front. 🙂

Besides, my presence could have endangered others 🙂 thank goodness, my fellow SNSD fans were untouched, none of them were prosecuted for being part of an assembly which obviously did not have a permit… or maybe i should say tactfully… that a permit was not required. [Even as i am typing this, I found myself nodding in agreement :)]

Therefore, it is clear that in this situation, even if i, Chia Ti Lik, had held the reins of government, i would also say “For SNSD…. if it is SNSD…. a permit is not required.” Even if that would amount to an admission that there were double standards in place 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

Some friend pointed out that i crack corny jokes which are hopelessly out of place when I am stressed. That might be true. But if my intent is to entertain the readers of this blog with something humourous, lighthearted yet uplifting and with educational value – that would uplift my soul. The feeling would be [as described hereinabove] – priceless.

After a 3 month hiatus from blogging, I could have given in to my compulsions turned this entire post into an all out critique on the competency of the PAP but i did not. In fact, I consciously gave this post a softer touch.

Now trust me, i have been holding back…. on our dismal showing on the YOG, on the quality of food in the YOG, on the YOG budget overrun, the means-testing retribution, on the repeated floodings in Downtown Singapore, Zorro Suit etc.

But let me forewarn all, should anything untoward happen (traffic jam, poor crowd control, flooding, blackout of whatever) that would derail the K-Pop Night Concert for fellow SNSD fans, and if i am able to point a finger at any member of the cabinet that can be held responsible, then i would not hold back my brickbats anymore. 🙂

So here i am, interceptor-less, tired, hungry, bogged down by personal actions, hands full with obligations owed to clients, not having the time, energy or gall to support my favourite girl band in person but I am playing part-time comedian to others on my blog.

It did occur to me – Whether any of all this brings me closer to heaven or further away from hell or what? 🙂

I was rewarded very quickly. Last night i had a dream. 🙂

I dreamt that I was surrounded and fawned upon by 9 girls. The girls were so pretty, they even looked like SNSD. 🙂 🙂 🙂

September 9, 2010 Posted by | Life, Politics, So Nyuh Shi Dae - Girls' Generation | Leave a comment