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Thursday, July 13, 2017

More on Waterfall Cafe

A shout-out to all celiacs! The range of buffet anti pasti dishes at the Waterfall Cafe, Shangri-La has increased somewhat. Most of it is gluten free.












Thursday, July 6, 2017

CPF and Polyclinic

CPF Board, Woodlands

I don't suppose I will ever feel secure about money. So, for some peace of mind, I decided to pop into CPF to top up my CPF Special Account.

Seeing how my in-laws have aged, it becomes clear that there will come a day when working for a living would be arduous, if not impossible. So, having monthly pocket money given to me every month from a pool of my own money kept safe by CPF looks ok. Besides, I want to qualify for CPF Life Plan, which pays out a monthly sum to me every month for as long as I live (when I reach 65 years). To qualify I need to have $60,000 in my CPF retirement account 6 months before I turn 65 years.

If ever I become destitute, I would at least have money to buy food.... and maybe a book or 2?

It was such a pleasant experience. A tallish gentleman at the Woodlands branch Called Mr Terence Lee took me out of the very long queue when he understood that I wanted to top up my account. He gave me a form and took my IC to check the amount I was allowed to put in. He came back with a very exact amount and explained a few obscure details that he thought I might not be aware of...

- the money I put in will be stuck there till I am 55...
- moneys flow over from my Medisave to my Special Account on the 25th of each month. My top up sum could be rejected if I fail to account for these extra moneys going in by 25th of this month.

I liked him very much. He spoke to me in a Parenty-Teachery voice. When he disappeared to check my account details, other officers took over. They all approached me to ask if I needed help. They too spoke in a Parenty-Teachery voice.

I like it when Customer Service Officers talk to me in a Parenty-Teachery voice.


Woodlands Polyclinic

Then, it was time to go get my mammogram and fasting blood test done at the Woodlands Polyclinic. The Customer Service Officer on the phone had the presence of mind to line up both appointments very close to each other. I went in at 10.25 am for the blood test (appointment at 10.15am)... left for a small breakfast and completed my mammogram shortly after by 11.15 (appointment at 11 am).

There were literally hordes of people. So, I was amazed that the nurses were all so calm and friendly.  They too spoke to me in a Parenty-Teachery voice.

I think the Parenty-Tecahery voice is a very powerful voice skill in customer service. It sets the customer at ease because he/she feels looked after and it also communicates a sense of higher authority so that people won't disrespect the Nurses or Customer Service Officers.




Wednesday, July 5, 2017

3 Filial Scandals

One Filial Scandal?
When one takes a bit of distance, one can actually be proud of the FamiLEE Saga. In other countries, scandals are made of real sex and real corruption. In Singapore, our scandal is when an eldest in-law goes into her deceased father-in-law's house to organise his belongings.

Gee... I dunno. I am also the eldest daughter-in-law. In fact, I am the only daughter-in-law. My sister-in-law does not cook and she does not clean. She is not even in Singapore so I have to do the ferrying to and from hospital of the old folks. I am the one who bakes them gluten free bread so that MIL's digestive problems abate. I am the one that grows organic veggies to share with them. My kids are the ones who resolve iPad problems, fix light bulbs, help her sort out SingPass issues and all that.

If it is scandalous for a daughter-in-law to organise a deceased father-in-law's belongings, then it really is a scandal to be proud of.

Ok lah... we too have real sex scandals - Michael Palmer and David Ong but this one... this one that has the world laughing at Singapore, is not really a scandal lah! I really fail to see how an eldest daughter-in-law carrying out her filial duties of organising her deceased parents-in-law's things can be construed as an abuse of power. After all, she must have been doing similar things for decades!

Another TWO Filial Scandals?
2 siblings (LWL and LHY), from filial piety, want to ensure that their Father's last wishes are complied with. Of course, these 2 are not politicians. They have no duty nor responsibility to the Cabinet.

The eldest sibling, LHL has to face Cabinet, who to a man, are dead set against demolishing the house. Unless the Cabinet is composed of mindless robots, LHL cannot simply dismiss their concerns. If he does that, he loses their respect and loyalty. If LHL loses the respect and loyalty of his immediate followers, the damage to the government of Singapore is incalculable. Given the very laws that LKY put in place, LHL CANNOT ask his Cabinet to accede to his Father's last wish, just because it was his Father. Given the laws LKY put in place, LHL would strike a mortal blow to a cornerstone of LKY's legacy...

No one is above the law. Not even the PM can bend the law in his father's favour.

It is one thing when you own a company or are CEO of a company you founded. You can take unilateral decisions just because you are The Boss. LHL does not own Singapore. He does not own the Cabinet. Singaporeans voted in the Cabinet. LHL's hands are really tied.

So herein, we have ANOTHER 2 filial scandals. LWL and LHY are filial in wanting to ensure their father's desire is carried out. LHL is filial in wanting to preserve the kind of governance LKY wrought.

Proud of Our 3 Scandals
In the midst of those who call for this family to cease and desist in their social media war because we are all a bit tired by the kacang putihs LWL and LHY are throwing out as scandals, I think we have a good problem.

Come on lah... find me another country that makes a BIG deal out of a dead leader's last wish. Find me another country where the dead beloved and honoured leader literally die die also does not want to be honoured like Ozymandias. Look over at North Korea! Fella not dead yet and he already has commemorative statues made of himself. Find me a country where a public "Scandal" ensues because 2 kids wanna be filial to the father's last wish and another kid wanna be filial to the father's lifetime work.

Who Must Win?
To me this is clear. The government cannot lose this fight. If the government yields to the threats and tantrums of LWL and LHY, it is tantamount to...
(1) dealing a blow to LKY's legacy of the rule of law
(2) admitting that it is guilty of abuse of power

If the matter had stayed private and LWL/LHY had patiently awaited an outcome, then there was every chance that the government could back down and discreetly accede to the demolition wish of LKY. Right through the parliamentary proceedings of the past 2 days, the 2 siblings continued the Facebook war. In a sense, threatening our PM (and the government) and making outsized public accusations of impropriety has painted the whole issue into a corner.

This is a fight the government cannot afford to lose. If it demolishes the house because it wishes to honour LKY's last wishes, then it makes a mockery out of the Rule Of Law that LKY put in place. It must win this fight to protect LKY's most important legacy, not because it is LKY's legacy... but because every Singaporean depends on it. It now is no longer about a house. It is about whether one man's dying wish can over ride a government guided by policy and law.

If the matter had remained quiet, discreet concessions could be made. Now that it is in the public, demolishing the house also demolishes a cornerstone of LKY's system of governance.

The only way out, and I hate to write this, is for LHL to contest the 7th will in court, void it... and preserve the house with its private areas within, demolished. There is no other way to protect the country that LKY left us.

Singapore is Soooooo Square and Nerdy
Singapore is sooooo square and nerdy that we actually have a scandal rooted in filial piety!! This reminds me of the time our friends were flabbergasted that our family was too square and nerdy  to own a TV. It was predicted that The Son would grow up stupid and only academically excellent. I was proud of owning no TV back then. I am proud of The Son today.

What a blessed woman I am to mother a family of square nerds and belong to a nation of square nerds.






Fullerton Bay Hotel, Saturday Brunch

Compared to some other buffets, The Fullerton Bay Hotel's Saturday Brunch may not have a wide enough DIVERSITY of food (you know, oysters etc...). Hence, the prices are more reasonable. However, if you are a roast beef fan, you will love this place. The roast beef is very tender and succulent. I am pretty sure this place does sous-vide because when I eat eggs here, they are au point, and when I last ate lamb chops, those were melt in the mouth tender too.

Good value for money for Father's Day 2017... and I really love the HIGH HIGH HIGH ceilings! 













Pork Knuckle at Causeway Point

When we first moved into Woodlands more than 2 decades ago, it was really the backwaters of Singapore. There were glorious sunsets and heaps of trees everywhere we looked. The provision shops looked like something from the 1970s, with a Milo tin hanging on a pulley from which the store owner would give you your change.

Oh well... for good or for bad, things have changed immensely. The provision shops are all air-conditioned. Shops like Esprit and Uniqlo have opened shop. Up until recently, I had to drive to Guthrie House in Bukit Timah to get the most delicious pork knuckle in the world from Cold Storage. Imagine my surprise when I saw rows and rows of pork knuckle at Cold Storage Causeway Point. Woah! Now I don't have to drive to upmarket Bukit Timah anymore. My little kampong has gone up in the world!

The men at the booth were very pleased with their pork knuckle. Clearly, they took pride in their work. I bought one and I will say this. This was by far the best pork knuckle I have ever bought from Cold Storage or tasted anywhere else.

The skin was THIN and crispy. How did they do that?!

Anyway, it turns out, these guys also said that Woodlands Causeway Point has fresh pork knuckle every day. I was like... "Really ah... Life cannot get better than this!"

The Best Pork Knuckle in Singapore

The Best Pork Knuckle Artists in Singapore



Friday, June 30, 2017

Telegram VS Whatsapp (aka Facebook)

Whatsapp Info Given to Facebook
I deleted my Whatsapp account.

It was because I was creeped out by how Facebook (which owns Whatsapp) would show me advertisements about the ANOVA sous-vide machine just a few hours after I had chatted with my friend about the machine. This was after Whatsapp sent me messages saying that my messages were encrypted end to end... and that without my permission, my data would not be shared with Facebook.

Facebook Desires My Mobile Number VERY MUCH
When I left Whatsapp, Facebook started to bug me to use FB messenger on my mobile phone. I could not send FB messages from my smart phone anymore, unless I downloaded the Facebook messenger app. I decided I could live with that. Next, Facebook started bugging me for my mobile number as a security measure to rescue my account. I did not comply. After some time, I found that something had happened to my FB log in. I had to key in my password twice in order to get into my account. The first time I keyed in my password, a scary messsage about losing my account would appear. A request for me to give Facebook my mobile number in order to rescue my account would also appear.

I began to wonder why FB was sooooo keen to get my phone number. I still don't know why.

What I find disturbing is that Facebook owns Whatsapp AND Instagram. A mobile number is a critical piece of information that links all 3. If people have all 3 social media presences, there is nothing about a person that Facebook does not know. Facebook knows all and sees all... my private conversations with my husband... the deepest fears I share with my friends... photographs I want to share only with my closest.

Dangers of Giving ALL My Information to ONE Company
Even if Facebook is benign, hackers are not. My greatest fear was to have a hacker get into my Facebook account and learn things about me that would give them access to my bank accounts. Since people share different things across different platforms, if a hacker gains access to 1 of the 3 accounts (Insta, FB or Whatsapp) and from there, he/she accesses the others, the hacker knows everything and anything about me that I have shared.

As a result, I share nothing on Instagram and precious little on Facebook. These days, Facebook is useful only because I can take part in forums like the Singapore Celiac and Gluten Intolerance Group... Blessing Items for Low Income Families... Singapore Urban Gardening... Yarns Spree... These groups discuss things I am interested to grow my competence in. In return, all I have to do is occasionally contribute my own knitting or food projects and a bit of my own know how. After all, when one benefits from others' sharing, one must give back too.

About Telegram
Secret Chat: As an alternative to Facebook, I signed up with Telegram. Telegram allows an option called the Secret Chat. The secret chat sends me alerts when people take screenshots of my chat with them. I can also set a self-destruct timer that will destroy all my messages in that chat after a specified time.

Multi-Device Use: Telegram allows multi-device use. If you use whatsapp on a computer, the connections are unstable. If your phone is not switched on, whatsapp web does not work. With Telegram, I can switch off my phone and still interact via my desktop.

Send Files: I tend to use Telegram for work from my desktop. Telegram allows me to send files... pdf documents, Word documents, Excel spreadsheets. Along with the stable connection, this feature is very useful.

Pretty Stickers: I also love Telegram stickers. They are super fun! See picture below.

Delete Messages After Sending: I always send Whatsapp messages to the wrong person. Telegram allows me to delete the message from the chat after sending.

Name Mention: Telegram allows you to mention people in groups. So, you can mute a group and read nothing until someone mentions your name.

Confidential Phone Number: When people add me to a group where there are strangers, my phone number does not appear to these strangers.

Lock Chats: You can lock your chats in Telegram so that no one can see your personal messages.

Edit Messages: You can also edit messages after sending.

Partial Info: Best of all, Facebook does not own Telegram so I share only small parts of my life with Facebook. It does not get a whole picture of who I am.


Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Gluten Free Quiche


Even if you are not celiac nor gluten intolerant, you would want to make this quiche. Firstly, the crust is much easier to make than traditional shortcrust pastry. Secondly, the crust is made of almonds and egg... so, it is low carb.

Ingredients for Crust
1 egg
350 g of almonds
1 tbsp icing sugar

Sieve 1 tbsp of icing sugar into a bowl. Add 350g of almond meal. To make almond meal, simply blitz raw almonds in a blender or a food processor. 

Beat 1 raw egg and mix into the almond meal + icing sugar mixture. Make a sticky mass.

Press into the bottom and sides of a spring form tart pan lined with baking paper. Preheat the oven for 15 minutes at 180 DegC. Bake the crust with TOP HEAT ONLY for 10 minutes. 

Ingredients for Filling
A fistful of fresh oregano
5 large eggs
200ml of pure cream
1 teaspoon salt
200g of gluten free ham
500g of button mushrooms
200g of feta cheese

(1) Whisk 200ml pure cream, eggs and salt together. Keep aside.

(2) Slice the button mushrooms and fry in butter/ghee till they are wilted and sorry looking.

(3) Mince the oregano leaves.

(4) Chop the ham into bits.

(5) Dice the feta cheese.

(6) Layer the oregano at the base of the tart crust. Layer the ham on top of the oregano. Layer the feta cheese on top of the ham. Pour the cream+eggs+salt mixture over all the ham and cheese.

(7) Bake in the oven (top and bottom grill) at 120DegC for 40 minutes.



Friday, June 23, 2017

Who Was GIVEN 38 Oxley Road in its Entirety?

Fact #1
In October 2011, LKY informed his younger children on a topic related to "architect" that rebuilding on 38 Oxley Road was not possible because LHL, as PM, had indicated that he would declare 28 Oxley Rd as a heritage site. See HERE.

This shows that LHY already knew, in October 2011, that rebuilding could follow the demolition of the house. Indeed, rebuilding was discussed even before LKY died.

Fact #2
In December 2011, LKY wrote a letter to cabinet stating, "Cabinet members were unanimous that 38 Oxley Road should not be demolished as I wanted. I have reflected on this and have decided that if 38 Oxley Road is to be preserved, it needs to have its foundations reinforced and the whole building reburbished." See HERE.

This shows that LKY was ok for the house to be preserved.

Fact #3
Despite knowing that...
(1) LHY would not be averse to rebuilding on the site...
(2) LHL was looking at preserving the site for the benefit of the whole country...
... LKY still bequeathed 38 Oxley Rd to LHL in its entirety. See HERE.

LKY knew that LHL wanted to preserve the house for the whole country. Yet, he bequeathed the house to LHL entirely. What does that tell you about the choice LKY made between his 2 sons?

Since LKY bequeathed the house entirely to LHL, LHL could actually have...
(1) ... used his political power and influence to change the zoning laws of the area to allow high rise buildings...
(2)... used his political power and influence to prevent the government from declaring it a heritage site...
(3) ... exercised his personal right to demolish the house...
(4) ... personally develop the land into high rises...
(5) ... personally pocket hundreds of millions...

He could have abused his power for personal gain, but he DID NOT.

For those Singaporeans who jubilate at the attacks on LHL by his younger brother, I think you have placed your allegiance in the wrong party. LHL chose to dedicate his life to Singapore.  LHY CHOSE to leave the civil service. He preferred the more profitable private sector. Even today, LHY is uncaring to the damage he is inflicting on Singapore and Singaporeans.

Now that LHY has bought 38 Oxley Road from LHL, he stands to gain hundreds of millions.


What About 5 Generations Down?
The way I see it, the government MUST gazette 38 Oxley Road. It has no choice. The day will come when every Singaporean old enough to have personally known a living and breathing LKY will die. There is no guarantee that an enterprising future Singaporean will not rebuild the house based on archived photos and plans.

I remember that when LKY passed away, enterprising folks in his old village in China, designated a house as LKY's ancestral home and charged entrance fees for a visit... never mind that LKY never ever spent a night there.

As long as the land belongs in private hands, hundreds of years down the future, a Frankenstein of a monument WILL rise to LKY. Only if it belongs to the government and today's government sets down laws and regulations in perpetuity with regard to the house, can we honour LKY's wish for privacy.


Challenge Will in Court
I think it is unseemly to have a public to and fro about LKY's will. I wish they would settle the matter in court in camera.









Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Selling Picket & Rail Bed

I am selling this queen sized bed solid wood Picket & Rail bed at $250. Self-collection please. Please fill out your contact HERE if interested.

Update: Bed sold.


Friday, June 16, 2017

I Stand With LHL

In the whole FamiLEE saga, much is shrouded in mystery. It is an alarming story of He Say and They Say. Where the truth lies, nobody really knows. I would like to think that everyone is speaking truth but they are just looking at the issue from different perspectives. You know, like the blind man who asserted that the elephant was like a wall... and his equally blind colleague insisted that an elephant resembled a snake.

Yet, there are certain things we already know.

Lee Hsien Loong's Dynastic Aspirations
Firstly, LHL is planning his own retirement. His own political career has very little to gain from errr... moving into Oxley Road himself. His son has announced that he does not want to be in politics. You might call him a liar but seriously, he really does not look like he is interested. Where is he in grassroots work? Where was he when his Dad was campaigning? Even if you believe that LHL and HC have dynastic aspirations, have you tried making an adult/adolescent child fulfill your parental aspirations? Not even LKY could bring LWL to heel... and LKY was for decades, the most powerful man in Singapore.

I once chatted with a group of CEOs about staff motivation. They were thrilled when they heard that I was branching out into child motivation. They said that staff motivation was easier - hire, fire, bonus. Staff will heed their CEOs. CEO children do not. If LHL's son is not interested, there is no way any dynastic aspiration on the part of his aging parents will ever be fulfilled. 

So, what political mileage has LHL got to gain from preserving the house? Clearly nothing.

Lee Hsien Loong's Monetary Gains
He willingly sold his share to his siblings and even donated half the value of the house to charity. So, our PM was not looking at monetary gains either! Wouldn't it have been so easy for LHL to demolish the house and cash in? He did not have to sell his share to LHY, you know.

If we had a lesser man than LHL, he would have sold and cashed out his millions. No! He donated millions instead. Look across the causeway and see Mrs Najib spend USD$30 million on jewellery lohhhh... Man! I am so damn proud of Ho Ching for wearing slippers to the White House, and carrying a plastic purse.

Are those not LKY's values?

Lee Hsien Loong's Duty to the Nation
Now, don't forget, he is our Prime Minister. He has learnt at his father's knee to put Singaporeans first. Foremost on his mind is the need to preserve 38 Oxley Road as a historical record of Singapore's history. He would be thinking of future Singaporean children who need to see and learn about the values that built our nation. He would be sensitive to the lobbying of all the historians and archivists who must have been screaming blue murder at the thought of destroying the house.

How can we fault our PM for putting country before family?

Really? You want a PM to prioritise his family before Singaporeans? Then, go become a Malaysian lohhhh...

Lee Wei Ling's Desire To Stay At Oxley Road
I can understand that LWL wants to stay at Oxley Road. If I were the unmarried daughter, I too would want to stay there. However, simply for a selfish, personal desire to stay in a house, she has come out into the open to destroy OUR Prime Minister's social capital, political capital and global standing. This is plain wrong. Your selfish desire has hurt the whole country. 

The assertions are malicious and calculated to inflict maximum damage on a PM who has for the past 10 years, been struggling to redeem his track record. Can you not see him try?

Lee Hsien Yang's Desire To Demolish the House
For certain, it was LKY's wish, However, in the fulfillment of this wish, 38 Oxley Road represents humongous monetary gains for LHY and LSF. Inasmuch as LHL has nothing to gain and everything to lose (when his siblings come out to slander him), LHY has nothing to lose and everything to gain.

Opposition MPs have been sued for saying less slanderous things about LHL. Till now, LHL has breathed no litigious word.

And really, it is ok to fight with your brother over your father's last wish. Plenty of people do that. However, to do it a way calculated to hurt an entire country is wrong. You hurt LHL. You hurt Singaporeans. Which part of that do you not get?

Why Set Up the "Secret" Committee?
Very secret meh? Even before this saga, the existence of this committee was publicised in the papers. Perhaps, the committee wished to understand better the circumstances of the drafting of the last will discreetly so that face might be saved for those who stand to gain millions from demolishing the house. Challenging the last will in court would have clear penalties for those found to have somehow influenced an old man to draft a last will in not exactly the way he really wanted.

He was very old and frail at that time... (and yet, his daughter quarrelled with him. Surely, for a father so old, one could close one eye and indulge him?)

A committee would have allowed LHL to get to the bottom of the matter without the courts punishing anyone.

Powers of the Committee
The government has a legal right to gazette anything in this country as a national monument. It could gazette my house if it wanted. Once gazetted, it belongs to all Singaporeans.

The government really doesn't NEED a committee to study the issue of 38, Oxley Road if there was a clear desire to disobey LKY's deathbed wish. The only reason I can think of, for this committee to be set up, is to ascertain whether the last will was INDEED LKY's true desire. If not, then the committee could go ahead and gazette the house as a national monument. If yes, then the committee would honour LKY's wishes.

Hence, LHL's 9 questions pertaining to LSF's involvement are very important. IF LSF and LHY had unduly influenced the drafting of the 7th will, then the government could exert its right to go right ahead to preserve the house for future generations of Singaporeans.

Bear in mind that there is no need for the committee. The government of the day has every legal right to designate 38 Oxley Rise a national monument, over riding LKY's will. No man is above the law. Not even LKY. He would not want to be above the law either.

Hence, if a committee was set up, it really was to honour LKY. However, to honour his last wish, it was necessary to know whether the 7th will was really his true last wish.


Robbing Singaporeans
If it should really turn out that LKY's last will was messed with, then LHY and LSF  are robbing the nation of our birthright. Standing between us and this loss is LHL! This should get personal for every Singaporean! Why are we not standing with our PM on this?


First Salvo
The desire to do hurt came first from LHY and LWL. It was they who brought this out into the open. To me, it was clear that they meant to hurt. If they were really afraid of a PM abusing his powers, they would have left the country already. Why are they still here?

Clearly, they know that LHL is too kind to sock it to them with the same ruthlessness that they socked it to him.





Wednesday, June 14, 2017

It is NOT Islam, but Malsi!

It pains me to see the carnage currently taking place in European capitals. France and Britain have been the subject of terror attacks for years now. Terrorists have wreaked havoc in the Middle East on true Muslims for decades already. That the carnage which regularly happens in the Middle East does not flood our media in the way European terror attacks do, does not mean that Middle Easterners are exempt from the violence unleashed upon Muslims by other people who call themselves Muslims.

It is easy to confuse the 2 - terrorism and Islam. It is easy to think that Islam is a religion that gives birth to terrorism and violence. Part of the reason is because these terrorists like to yell "Allahu akbar!" just before they mow down people with their cars, their bombs and their guns.

I refuse to believe these terrorists are Muslims. Unfortunately, we do not have another name for people who kill in the name of Allah. There is power in names you know. If we had another name with which to refer to these individuals who subvert a largely peaceful religion (Islam) to violent ends, then we can psychological differentiate between the multitudes of Islamists who are peaceful and loving... from those few who kill in the name of Allah.

If we had a different name for those who kill in the name Allah, then we can name them and talk about them without psychologically hurting people who are true Muslims. Right now, when we call those who kill in the name of Allah, Muslims or Islamists, we also verbally attack the true Muslims.

We really should call those who kill in the name of Allah, Milsum. This is "Muslim" written backwards to signify that these are people who do NOTHING in the name of Allah, because Allah is love and NOT murder.

Similarly, the religion espoused by those who kill in the name Allah, should be called Malsi, because it is quite the opposite of Islam... and would benefit from being called something that is the backward spelling of Islam.

Words have power. It is important to name things without ambiguity. In this case, it is important to differentiate between those who love in the name of Allah and those who hate in the name of Allah. They may read and quote the same Quran BUT they are NOT the same people. They do NOT have the same religion.

Once we can name a phenomenon properly, we can deal with it in a targeted manner without fear of being politically incorrect.

I really like what the Australian Muslims have done HERE. They clearly reject those who kill in the name of Allah. The whole world should follow their lead and reject the Milsums as people who subvert a peaceful and loving religion (Islam) into a violent one (Malsi).

I don't care that it is the same Quran. It really is not the same religion.

I mean, the Crusaders could call themselves Christians but they really were Crusaders... a violent group of ne-er do wells who killed in the name of God. Crusaders had a religion that was NOT Christianity because the Christian God I know is a loving one.

God... Jehovah... Yahweh... Allah... all are love.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

P6 SA1 Testimonials

These testimonials are from parents of the originally poorer students. 

This child was failing in early P5. I thought he would be hard to help but he made it!

This child has special needs.



This one was quite poor too, at the start. Extremely careless!



Last year, his school teacher said that he was CMI (cannot make it).


This love note made my day! From client to friend... it makes all the frustrations that go along with being a Teacher so worth it!



Thursday, May 11, 2017

Kawai K800


I have a preference for the rounded mellow tones of the German pianos. Years ago, I explored buying one. The difference between a German piano and a Japanese piano was stark. The German pianos sounded silky smooth with every note full and rich. Back in those days, the Japanese pianos sounded bright and sharp.

I much preferred the deep, rich and complex tones of the German pianos, but I could not afford one.  So, I settled for the electronic keyboard pianos just to have something to bang tunes out on.

If I had the money, I would buy the $35,000 August Forster piano or even the Steinway. These sound even better. However, I really am not a very good piano player so I decided to buy something I could afford and still sounded nice enough for me to feel good playing it.

The Kawai K800 was a surprising find. It is an upright grand. This means that its strings are longer than a normal upright piano. Thus, the sounds it makes are larger, richer and silkier than a normal upright. I liked that it uses ABS carbon (a synthetic material) in its piano action. Most pianos use wood which makes maintenance in our high humidity more problematic. With its ABS carbon parts, I expect the Kawai K800 would be easier to maintain over the years.

The Yamaha upright grand equivalent of the Kawai K800 is the Yamaha YUS5. I much preferred the sound of the Kawai K800. It was nearer the quality of sound I was hearing from the German makes. I don't know if I am dreaming it but 10 years ago, the German makes sounded better. I remember thinking they sounded like creamy soft serve vanilla ice cream. The Yamahas 10 years ago sounded like lemon sorbet back then. - sharp and crisp sounds.

I just prefer the creamier sounds. Possibly, others prefer the sorbet-like sounds. That is still very much what the Yamaha YUS5 sounds like - sorbet. These days, German pianos seem to sound less creamy and the Kawai K800 sounds MORE creamy. So, I guess I found something creamy enough but not as creamy as I would like.

Still nice... and far more affordable.

The design is ever so cute too. The piano sheet holder can be pulled forwards, towards the pianist and underneath it are 2 sound escapes. So, the sound not only emanates from the back and the top of the Kawai K800, it also emanates from the front panel as well. This makes for a lot of resonance.

I do think I bought a piano that is way too good for my lousy piano playing skills. So, I am trying to practise and practise and practise so that I can deserve the piano I bought. I dread to think what my neighbours think because I literally play it all day. After every compo I mark, I play for 5 minutes just to refresh my senses and help me regain focus enough to mark the next compo well.

It also means that this poor blog has been sorely neglected. For someone who has no real job, I really am quite a busy person, you know. What with my piano and my Le Creuset pots...




Thursday, May 4, 2017

Parent Seminars 2017

HOT Skills Parent Workshop and Positive Teaching Parent Seminar are open for registration.

(1) HOT Skills HERE.
(2) Positive Teaching HERE.


Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Dr Tay Kai Xian, Dentist

Last year, I had a wisdom tooth taken out. It was growing on its side and impacting a good tooth. At the point of impaction, a cavity had begun to form because my toothbrush could not reach that spot. I knew about the impacted tooth but somehow, I missed out on the fact that there was a small cavity there.

When I went for my yearly scaling and cleaning at the Woodlands Polyclinic, the dentist sent me to Khoo Teck Puat Hospital to get my cavity looked at.

A specialist dentist looked at it and spent a looooong time telling me how DIFFICULT it was to fill that cavity. He went on and on about the challenging case. It was right at the side of the mouth. It was growing into the side of the tooth and getting perilously near the tooth nerve. If they tried to fill it, it might touch the nerve or there might be a nerve infection. Then, there would need to be a root canal operation OR an extraction.

Then he said, "This case is so difficult that I need to get someone else to look at it."

Within 10 minutes, the other doctor was ready for me. You see, I really don't understand why people complain about our healthcare. I was referred from the Polyclinic and yet I experienced very prompt intervention. Undoubtedly, I had to wait 3 months for my scaling appointment and then another 2, to see the specialist... but once they saw how urgent my tooth was, I waited 10 minutes.

Now, this is where it gets interesting.

I hopped over to the next aisle and opened the door into Dr Tay Kai Xian's consultation room. I came face to face with a man that looked not a day older than 17 years. He talked fast and made small jerky motions with his hands. I thought to myself, "Huh? This is the guy who can do the challenging thing that the other older dentist cannot do?"

I was stunned. I stared at this 17 year old male in a dentist scrubs and I asked a few questions, meanwhile, churning in my mind my next course of action. Do I allow this 17 year old to lay hands on me? Do I kick up a fuss and tell the hospital that I object to being operated on by a student? Do I take a leap of faith and submit to the ministrations of this young boy who looked not a day older than my son.

I took the leap of faith.

And Dr Tay Kai Xian was WONDERFUL! His entire demeanour changed from the moment his dentist's mask went on. He spoke slowly and gently, carefully explaining each thing he was about to do to me... "This will sting a bit. I am injecting local anaesthetic. Now that the area is numb, I will do this, so you will feel a lot of pulling on your cheek. I am going to shave off the side of your tooth, so you will next feel some vibration.... and so on."

He had steady hands and he was unfailingly polite to his nurse when he asked for this and that... or gave instructions to prepare the next step. It was so lovely to be treated by a genuinely nice person, who was so quietly confident at every part of the process (except for the start when I asked him if he could really do this challenging op and he started to talk too fast and gesture jerkily). He had such STEADY hands!

Seriously, the moment I sat back in the dentist's chair, Dr Tay morphed into a father figure.

I came home and told my family about him. The Husband asked, "Is he handsome?" Then I kicked myself! Whyyyyyyyyyyy didn't I ask if he was married/attached? Whyyyyyyy didn't I tell him about my pretty daughter with her 8 A level distinctions, gymnastics medals, Dean's lister, good job and a temperament so sweet that 4 kids sit on her legs at Sunday school, with more fighting to do so.

Whyyyyyyyyy?

See photo of Dr. Tay Kai Xian HERE. I highly recommend him!




Thursday, April 13, 2017

The Son: Reincarnation of Leonardo da Vinci

I really am not supposed to blog about this. The Son has given me a gag order. I am not allowed to blog about him very much, which is such a bummer because blogging about him is so entertaining for me. And so entertaining for my readers. No?

Anyway, it all started with a BBC broadcast on the way to school. A voice with an Italian accent read out excerpts from Machiavelli. Apparently, the excerpts were shockingly evil in their content. So I questioned why they were listening to them at all. So began an amusing exchange between father and son.

Daddy: My son is so intellectual that he refuses to listen to pop music on the way to school, preferring meatier fare from BBC.

The Son: Noooooo... it is because your selection of pop music is so repetitive. Anything is better than that.

Daddy: **with a perfectly straight face** My son is a renaissance man. He can fight and write.

The Son: **roll eyes** Splutter!

Me: Ohhhhh! My son is like Leonardo da Vinci. He is the reincarnation of Leonardo da Vinci.

Daddy: Ahhhhh! My son is better. Leonardo da Vinci cannot code computer programmes. My son can code.

Me: Trudat! Our son is better than Leonardo da Vinci.

The Son: **glowering at me**

Me: Heyyyy... how come you don't glower at your Daddy? He was the one who started with "renaissance man". How come when I praise you, you get all mad?

For some strange reason, The Son has evolved to be like his sister. He keeps downplaying his triumphs and saying that he is not good enough. Every time I tell him I am proud of him, he gets peeved... and I am not allowed to blog about his triumphs either! Then, when I play along with his I-am-not-good-enough line, I get knocked on the head for not having faith in him. The conversation unfurled as follows.

The Son: **to change the subject** Oh, by the way, we got into Finals.

Me: Oh! You did!? You got into Finals!?

The Son: **looking peeved again** Mom! I ALWAYS get into Finals! How come you even doubt that I can get into Finals!?

Me: **speechless**

Now, you tell me. Is it fair?! Sheesh! A mother cannot do anything right! You know what... teenaged sons are idiots!! Certainly nothing like Leonardo da Vinci, who, I am certain, was much nicer to his Mom.




Friday, April 7, 2017

Will You Make the World? Or Are You Made For It?

See HERE for the full article.



See HERE for the full article.


Daniel Yap wrote in the article HERE. "I can feel the massive ship turning ever so slightly."

I oso say!

I read the above 2 articles in the past 2 days that gave me much to be excited about. Since 2010, I wondered why our educational system had evolved into the huge mess that it pretty much still is, at the moment, with its over emphasis on academic excellence to the detriment of other developmental areas.

In the end, I concluded that the MOE had forgotten about first principles and allowed itself to be seduced by the fads in education emanating from the USA... standardised testing... PISA and what not. For 7 years I wondered why the MOE was not preparing our children for life. 

Since Ong Ye Kung and Ng Chee Meng took over, it does appear that we have come to our senses.

What is the use of topping the PISA scores and having a world class testing methodology if our children are poorly equipped for life at work? So finally, the MOE, helmed by 2 men with WISDOM if not actual educator experience, is working from first principles.

What is this first principle? 

To know what the education system needs, we need to work backwards from the future ready children we want to have, 20 years from today. Certainly, the future is hard to predict and nobody expects the MOE to be entirely clairvoyant. However, certain things are perennial in a useful and productive adult.

- Emotional intelligence
- Social networks
- Literacy and numeracy
- Knowing how to learn and unlearn
- Respect for high standards

Throughout The Son and The Daughter's education, their schools focused largely on literacy and numeracy. It was up to me to teach them emotional intelligence (the old people will simply say 做人道理  for emotional intelligence). It was up to me to nudge the development of their social networks along. It was up to me to teach them how to learn independently, and how to identify stuff to unlearn. It was up to me to insist on high quality work with the mantra - If you're not going to do it properly, please don't even do it at all.

Every week, I do battle with parents and students who want to do a lot HW but give me junk to mark. This attitude is endemic and it takes all of my strength and determination to stand firm and say, "Your junk will end up in my bin. It will not be marked. It will not even be returned to you. You will not learn anything new from me until you learn this properly."

At least learn something small, but don't learn nothing at all.

In truth... right up until today, with Ong Ye Kung and Ng Chee Meng at the helm of the MOE, the strategic direction of our education was still very much what Goh Keng Swee had set down in the 1960s when he had to MAKE people fit the staffing needs of the global MNCs which invested in Singapore. 

Singaporeans learnt to be compliant do-ers. Our best students were compliant do-ers. Never break the rules. Work hard. Work very hard. Work very very hard. So, not surprisingly, our top entrepreneurs seemed to have a less than stellar academic history. Think Sim Wong Hoo and Eldwin Chua. These are people that the MNCs would vomit out from their ranks and told that they were un-employable.

And yet... what wouldn't I give today to BE Sim Wong Hoo and Eldwin Chua, my Phd notwithstanding?

With so much disruptive change on the horizon and in front of us - Grabtaxi, Uber, AirBnB, Facebook, Kickstarter, Redmart... the world is very different today than what it was when I grew up. The MOE can no longer make people to fit something. Why? Because the MOE (and everyone else) does not know what the world our children grow into, will be like.

As a 3rd world country, Goh Keng Swee could look at the 1st world countries and project our manpower to fit those needs. We are now a 1st world country. We have been a 1st world country for a long time now. This change in strategic direction is long overdue.

Yes... help our children find their passion. Give them the following set of skills...
- Emotional intelligence
- Social networks
- Literacy and numeracy
- Knowing how to learn and unlearn
- Respect for high standards
... and then watch them make their world.

The young all have that capacity for change. It is in the adolescent's natural psychological evolution to challenge the status quo and to question if things can be done differently. We spent so much effort in the past 2 decades trying to prepare them... to groom them... to mould them... for a future that you and I do not know. Adolescents are programmed to re-make their world.

However, in this new direction, where we actively look to bolster strengths and grow diversity of skills and encourage passion, we will have a whole field of colourful wildflowers ready to take their chances with the new world.

Their world. Not ours.

Gone are the days where the government can predict the world and protect us with their clairvoyance. It will be uncertain days ahead and only diversity can give Singapore the resilience to make it through.

We must educate our children to make (or re-make) their world so that they can shape their future. We should not make them to fit it.








Wednesday, April 5, 2017

925 Chicken Rice

This eatery is opposite the Sembawang Shopping Centre. It is new, good and reasonably priced. In my humble opinion, it is better than Sum's Kitchen (its neighbour). Strangely though, the queues at Sum's Kitchen are longer.





Ohm Shimono Cyclone Vacuum Cleaner

I wasn't even looking for a vacuum cleaner. 

I passed by Home Fix and stopped to see the demo. It was such a light machine that I decided that my mother-in-law might like it. So, I told the man that I would bring her back to take look. He urged me to try it for myself on the tiled floor (that looked clean to me). He shook out all the dust from the dust container and handed the machine to me. To be polite, I dragged the machine up and down a bit. Then, I became REALLY intrigued. In no time at all, a dust bunny had built up inside the transparent dust receptacle.

I looked the floor and it did look clean. Then, I looked at the dust bunny and I knew that the floor was clearly not clean. So, I decided to buy it. If mother-in-law did not want it, I would keep it for me.

The mother-in-law LOVED it. She tried it out on the floor that she had mopped just that morning. She was surprised that a dust bunny had formed in no time inside the vacuum cleaner. She loved it so much that for a few days after, she would bring it over to show me how much dirt she had collected in the mornings. MY helper also loved it. She would go over and borrow the thing.

So, I decided to buy my helper her own machine. It wasn't easy to find you know. Online, it retailed for $300. I bought it at $168 at Home Fix. However, Home Fix had no more in stock. They still have no more in stock. In the end, I found it retailing at $168 at the 2nd floor of Thomson Plaza.

There are 2 models. One model is wireless. The one with wire was more powerful and cheaper.




Nice Day Today!

I woke up feeling rather low. The Husband has been working late nights frequently. The Son... well... I never see him because he is so busy trying to win this or that. Believe it or not, the twit has 5 CCAs. The Daughter has started working and sometimes works up to 3 am. You know, life in Singapore is crazy. There are people who work so hard they don't go home for 3 nights!!

How does that happen? Won't they die?

Me... I thought it would be another boring day of marking assignments. And then, I received 3 emails today that sent me over the moon.

I am not keen on the idea of working the children hard up to the PSLE. This burns them out. So, I try to crack the whip much earlier, through P4 and P5. Then, in P6, I close the P6 class in end-May. Parents and children who have worked with me closely in P4 and P5 enjoy this respite. If all goes well, the children are much less stressed too.


Then, it is time to say goodbye. 



Now, this is the email that really caught me by surprise. This is a P5 parent. She is caught right at the moment when I am at my most pressurising... and yet... I don't think many parents agree with her but her email still made me glad in my heart.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Another Bird Nest


We found another bird nest in the garden. This time, it is an even tinier bird with a nest not larger than my finger. So thrilled! Now I have 5 pet birds.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Our Zebra Doves

There was a Papa Bird and a Mama Bird. Two zebra doves had staked out my 2nd floor balcony as their territory. They foraged for food in my garden and then, they built a nest (the size of my palm). Then, they laid eggs (the size of my thumb's first phalange). 

Shortly after the chicks hatched, one of the parents died. It had flown into one of our large glass doors and knocked itself out. Milo picked it up and tried to revive it. His way of doing so was to hold the poor bird in his mouth and shake it. Not surprisingly, it died. I came home to a living room littered with feathers and a puzzled Milo.

We were all devastated. I even cried. Seeing me in tears, The Husband googled material for me to read and learn about how to feed nestlings and squabs. That is his way of comforting me. You know, not take me in his arms and wipe away the tears gently with a soft silk handkerchief... like in the movies. The Hub points to the computer screen and says, "Nah! Here, read this pdf file and watch this youtube. You will feel better when you know how to help the birds."

I guess it worked because I wiped away my tears, got in touch with a bird expert friend and figured out how to keep the birds alive. Fortunately, one of the parents is still alive and so all I had to do was to rig up a bird feeder next to the nest. The parent did the rest.

We are not sure if it is a Mama or a Papa bird. The literature says that the males are more likely to incubate in the day and the females incubate at night. Now that one is dead, there is no parent at the nest at night. So the one left must be a Papa bird? I can't tell because I can't see any ahems dangling anywhere.

2 eggs.


Papa and Mama Bird.

Dead Mama bird.


We took out the babies to clean the nest.





Nice clean nest.