An Eventful Day

Woke up relatively late this morning because I had a rather long night trying to figure out why I cannot convert my two-days worth of work into a decent DVD format. I still owe my brother-in-law a video edit of his engagement that took place two years ago and I am determined to get it done before the end of this month. You may be able to see some of the clips in YouTube later on.

Wanted to submit a music review blog that has been in my mind for ages before heading to town for a lunch appointment but I have lost track of time in front of my computer (don’t we all love Internet?) and therefore, I have to do it another day.

Alex – Cynthia’s colleague – is a man with passion over many things. He is an avid guitar collector, photographer, and now into listening to music in vinyl record format (i.e. turntable) just to name a few. During lunch, Alex shared with me that Vinyl is the in-thing nowadays. Knowing his passion of collecting guitars, I told him that I am looking into getting a Maton acoustic guitar (S$1,500+) for my open-mic and he countered suggested models that are like 2-3 times more expensive if I want a first-hand. To him, he loves collecting vintage guitars that are second-hand but in mint condition. If I hang out with him more often, I may just be convinced that a Gibson J-45 – classified under Legends Series – is the way to go.

After an eye-opening lunch (I now even have an idea of which camera to get for Cynthia), I paid my Honda service engineer Michael a visit. Michael is a cool dude. He is so cool that one time I even got him something from BreadTalk. He looked at the circular-irregular-yet-at-times-single-directional faint scratches on the bonnet and he asked me to wait while he tried something out. 5 minutes later, he came back with my car and the scratches were gone! Amazing. In the end, his thinks that a cat did that to my car. Come to think of it, it is highly likely as I do see one around once in a while.

And since the showroom was just downstairs, it was time to pay a visit to my Honda sales engineer William who sold me the car. William was excited to show me all the wonderful enhancements that can be done to my car (with the exact price tags). He tried to tempt me with a noise insulation package like he did before and I tried to tell him that since I feel as though I am driving a sport car, noise issue is secondary. Then he tried to tempt me with a new suspension system. I kept asking if it is legal and he kept avoiding my question. Okay, I got that. And the surround sound system, “in-vehicle” entertainment system … as well as the Michelin PP2 tyres that are – hold your breathe – used by the Evolution! Impressive. All these things he tempted me with are not even sold via him. William is definitely someone significant according to the book “Tipping Point” as he has the knowledge and he knows who can help.

Lots of small talks between two people having nothing much to do in a lazy afternoon. I bid William farewell, took a drive down the road to visit the LG Electronics customer service center, and collected my S$50 shopping voucher as I have bought a DVD Recorder recently.

There was still time to kill before my dinner appointment so I headed to Bras Basah Complex to check out the art equipment as my current interest is oil painting. It is equally eye-opening to step into an art shop as there are so many items that I have no idea what they are used for including a shelf full of white female hands. Feeling confused, I have decided to pay a visit to …

… The National Library. I didn’t take long to locate the Fine Art section and the library has a good collection of books on oil painting for beginners. Just exactly the stuffs I need. I browsed the books and before I knew it, I had a stack full of books that I wanted to borrow. I have no clue how many books I can borrow so I lugged them all to the customer service counter and made an inquiry. Guess what? For this month only, we can borrow 8 books instead of 4! Now, I am really “oil painting for beginners” overdosed.

When the clock struck six, I drove to Esplanade as it is a flat S$4 parking charge after six (somehow they didn’t charge me at all when I exited). Still have an hour to kill, I took a stroll to Raffle City shopping mall to hunt for … my new home phone. Cynthia has a strict specification: speaker phone with mute button and cordless. I gave the exact specification to the salesman (with a added budget constraint) and somehow I was the one who found the phone. Entered a lucky draw and if I win, I get to take Cynthia to Switzerland for a holiday. Keeping my fingers crossed!

Now, you must be thinking, how do the people in the picture relate to this blog? Well, I met up with my friends from my previous workplace and before I continue writing this blog, they held me at gunpoint that if I post their picture in my website, I have to mention the time stamp of the picture taken – which is … ahem … very late of course as they are the hardworking people of Company XYZ and no less.

I always enjoy Andy, Andersen, and Gigi’s company. I may not be a big fan of corporate life but I always treasure the opportunity to meet some good people. After our meal and drinks at Harry’s, we headed to Haagen Dazs and indulged ourselves with some high quality ice-cream (still remember someone once told me that since she is going to get fat eating ice-cream, may as well eat the best and the most expensive brand). Good time we had.

Ah … what an eventful day … what a long day too.

A Proud Owner Of My First Dumbbell Set

These days I work hard trying to get closer to the 8 hours of exercise a month target as set in my scorecard. Before today, I jog when the weather is cool, swim when the weather is warm, and frown at the sky when it pours. I need a fool proof strategy in achieving my target. Then a wonderful idea struck me: I am going to pump iron when it rains.

I met up with my friends Valerie and Tong Kiat for lunch and am still shocked by the size of Valerie’s tummy as I am writing this blog. She is just 3 weeks from delivering her baby boy! How productive Singaporeans are and that reminds me of a BBQ party I have attended last weekend. Between 5 couples, there were 6 kids. Even the newly-wed couple plans to have one this year. Amid the current situation of low birth rates and the future situation of an aging population, kids do find their way into this Planet Earth at this particularly small island called Singapore! Amazing indeed.

Having kids may not be in my mind after a sumptuous lunch, getting a dumbbell set was. Valerie kindly pointed me to a seemingly-everyone-know-but-me shop called AIBI that sells gym equipment. Don’t ask me why but I had an impression that the dumbbells I was used to practice with weighted 25 kg (on one side). You should see how Tong Kiat’s jaw dropped when I told him that I was looking for a set of dumbbells with such weight. I knew why half an hour later.

I stepped into the AIBI shop at Harbourfront shopping mall and the sale assistant showed me a choice of a 16 kg cast iron set (S$88) and a 15 kg rubber coated set (S$123). First of all, 16 kg (that is 8 kg on each side) sounded a bit … light. Secondly, to use rubber or not to use rubber, that was the question. I quickly called up my ex-girlfriend’s brother or shall I say, my perhaps-likely-future-brother-in-law-to-be (okay, my sister is going to kill me if she reads this) as I was used to practice with his dad’s dumbbells when I was still his … erm … brother-in-law-to-be (confused?). Benny gave me a very long and comprehensive explanation on what are the different types of dumbbells, the pros and cons, and even more than what I needed to know. Excellent. I learnt that a 15 kg dumbbell set is about right and rubber is good for protection … against cracking the floor. Imagine my trembling arms trying to raise the dumbbells high in the air and in one unexplainable lost of concentration, the dumbbells slip away from my hands … although I am sure that was not the image Benny had.

After a rather long phone conversation at AIBI’s counter, I have decided to invest S$123 to meet my monthly target. The sale assistant told me that the rubber ones are popular (due to New Year Resolutions I suggested) and they are all sold out. However I may put in a deposit and he will have them sent to my doorstep in 2 to 3 weeks’ time. I asked if other branches may have it and he told me that all the rubber coated dumbbells are sold out in all AIBI branches. I paid attention to his eyes and somehow I sensed that he may not be completely honest with me. I made a trip to VivoCity shopping mall next door and at basement 2, I found another AIBI shop that has the stock.

Buying the 15 kg dumbbell set was easy. Carrying it from VivoCity shopping mall back to where I parked my car (Keppel Bay Tower) was the tough part. My face was red and I was perspiring when I reached my car. Before I forgot, I better log down another 15 minutes of exercise today (event: walking with dumbbells). I swear my shoulders are still hurting and so are my legs!

What Have You Been Doing These Days?

I’ve got the question “what have you been doing these days” a lot lately. After leaving my relatively comfortably paid job last Christmas, my answers range from “I am taking a break” (that sort of confuses many people) and “I am taking a career break” (that gives a deeper confusion) to now “I am retired” and “going through my 11 years of to-do list”. The responses to the later answers are a palette of emotions ranging from a cooler tone of disbelieve, disapproval, uninterested, and shocked to a warmer tone of genuine interest, throwing in new ideas, and being supportive. Social norms dictate our reaction to events around us. We work, we save, and at 65 or hopefully earlier, we retire. We retire without knowing how much exactly we need (can you predict life?) and without a clear idea of what retirement is going to be like. By then we are old, having difficulties even to get from point A to point B and we are looking at this golden pot of Haagen Dazs ice-cream that it will probably kill us if we eat too much of it (it’s an analogy to indulgence in life that we cannot enjoy when we are old because we are too old for that). That is, if we live old enough to even look at this golden pot of ice-cream.

To me, the approach to retirement should be like the approach of marriage: in normal circumstances, I endorse pre-marriage cohabitation just to have an idea of what marriage is going to be like. Traditions force people to plunge into marriage with less knowledge of what they are getting themselves into. We all think that retirement has to happen after the age of 65 (or before if you are well-off) but if we can take some breaks here and there, in the surface, we got a taste of what this golden pot of Haagen Dazs ice-cream is like. In a deeper sense, we know what to expect in our actual retirement and we know what we are working so hard for.

Many people wonder how I spend my time these days. I have known a friend’s friend who had a week of compulsory leave came close to consult me on how to spend his days (he never did). Some friends of mine from reading my website think that I have turned into a full time sportsman. Others think that I have turned into a movie-craze goer. My gaming friends think that I become a full time gamer. Some who know that I need to start preparing food at 6pm think that I have become a full time house-husband. Those of you who know I am working hard to memorise 5 of my songs for gig performance think that I am heading towards becoming a performing artist. And the books that I am suppose to write, my recent interest in oil painting … the list just goes on and on. In short, my days are very much fully occupied with all my passions on top of the time spent meeting up with friends for lunch and dinner and other social events.

Compares to my life before this break, right now I have 8 hours of sleep a day, eat healthy, exercise regularly, meeting people whom I enjoy the company, doing things I love to do, and most importantly, feeling happy all the time. Now of course, sooner or later I need to return to Planet Earth and do a reality check. Even if I need to return to the workforce in a couple of months’ time (provided that none of the business opportunities come through), I shall remember what this golden pot of Haagen Dazs ice-cream tastes like and what I am working so hard for.

French Toast

I can’t remember when was the last time I made french toast but this image of french toast was my number one motivation when I took a swim early this afternoon.

Finally, the raining season is going, going, and sort of gone. We still have occasionally rainfall (look, this is a tropical country) but the day usually begins with a bright sunshine. In this time of the year, the breeze is cool to the skin. Perfect timing to do outdoor exercise.

My jogging ritual must have helped in building up my stamina, which by the way, my timing improves steadily shaving off 1 min from the last run record for 3 consecutive runs. I must have swam for 45 minutes with a hot sun above me and the cool water underneath.

The french toast was delicious – how hungry I was! – especially with those butter and honey. I mean, people exercise so hard so that they can eat to their hearts content … right?

Day 15 of 2007

Officially passed the 2-weeks point whereby a good majority of people by now have forgotten and put aside what they set out to do in their New Year Resolution (once again quote from Reader’s Digest). Having developed a Personal Scorecard, I found myself very focused these days on what I want to achieve. Just to give you an idea, I have consciously cut down on my gaming hours. I have clocked in 20.5 hours so far and it should not be a problem not exceeding the target of 40 hours a month as set on New Year Day. I hope that the new World of Warcraft expansion that is due to come out this week will not ruin my plan.

Avid readers of my website probably know by now I have put in a lot of emphasis in achieving my exercise hours target. I still fall short by a great deal and the idea of revising the targets has crossed my mind. But I must practice what I preach: scorecard is not a report card. The aim is not to get green lights at each reporting period but rather to highlight areas of improvement. I still think 8 hours a month is the right thing to do. I may not hit the target this month but I should get closer the month after.

And when I look at my measurements, it does have causal relationships like corporate scorecards. If I free up more time from gaming, I will have more time to do other things such as ideas on book publishing, practicing for my upcoming-yet-to-be-organised gigs, money matters, and etc. And if I wish to fully realise the benefit of all the exercise hours I have put in, I better stay away from alcohol and eat healthily (the other two measurements of mine). As for the healthy eating department, we have home cook food more than 50% of the time so far and I hope to see another measurement hitting the target.

In the medium term horizon, I do have some quarterly targets to achieve. I have public performance to think about and as the very first step, 5 songs are selected and day-in-day-out I have been trying to memorise them. As for the travelling budget, Cynthia has already picked Australia as our next destination. How about “extraordinary projects”? I have something in mind but it is probably too early to talk about it now. Last but not the least, I have already set up 2 private forums in this website as part of the collaboration effort in co-writing some books with my friends.

There are still some measurements I have no clue in how to tackle. By and large, I think I am in for a fruitful 2007. How credible is that statement? I am not sure but I hope that this Personal Scorecard will take me where I want to be.