27 March 2008

An End That Leads To A New Beginning

Some of you may know that I am the co-author of a stamp-based book. You can read more about it here, there and everywhere.

Well, I have good news for you - my second book is out, if only in cyberspace. (The hardcopy is not off the press yet but who cares about the hardcopy nowadays in this Internet age?)

My introduction to this book (reproduced wholesale from Wee Kiat's blog) is as follows:
We have eventually come to the end of the transport book. But wait… the journey has not ended. As they say, "every road leads somewhere" and "when a door closes, another opens". Or rather, in our case it should be "when a book closes, another opens". ;)

Tomorrow, we will start page-by-page blogging of our brand new book, Singapore Stamps: Remembering VIPs. This book is another joint effort by the same 3 co-authors who brought you the transport book, i.e. Dr Tan Wee Kiat, Noel Hidalgo Tan and yours truly.

Undoubtedly, most of the hard work involved in writing this book was done by Dr Tan and Noel; I only played a minor supporting role, i.e. proofreading and on-line publishing aka blogging.

This book is special in that it is the first time that we are putting it on-line even before it goes to the printers. Yes, that might affect profits somewhat should the book ever go on sale later. However, as Dr Tan would say, the purpose of our books has always been to share knowledge. And when knowledge is shared, everyone profits.

We hope that you will find this book an interesting read.

23 March 2008

I Once Almost Killed A Man

The headlines of the 20 Mar 2008 edition of the New Paper reminded me of a recent incident.

On 10 Mar 2008 at 6.05 pm, I was driving home along the inner carriageway of the Jalan Toa Payoh stretch of the PIE. I had just picked up my wife and as there was a light drizzle, the roads were wet. Just as I was passing under the Toa Payoh South Flyover, I noticed a small motorcycle turning out from the filter road from Lorong 1. At first he kept to the left side of the road. But just when I was almost passing him on the right, he suddenly skidded and swerved into the centre of the road. Instinctively, I swerved right and braked hard to try to avoid hitting him. However, there was no way I could have avoided a collision. Next I heard was a loud "BANG!" just as my car ground to a halt on the chevron-markings.

graphic myspace at Gickr.com

OH NO!!! OH MY GOD!!! From the driver's seat, I couldn't see where the motorcyclist was after the accident. Could he be under my car's wheels? Would there be a lot of blood and gore?

I remained frozen in my car seat for a few moments. When I came to, I finally plucked up enough courage to alight and walk over to the left side of my car. I found the rotund Indian man pinned under his own machine. It was to my great relief when he extended his right hand to me and pleaded, "Help me!"

I helped him get up on his feet. (Boy, did I really thank God when he could!) Other than a slight bruise on his elbow, he was alright and could still walk normally. His wallet and money, including a $50 note, were strewn on the road. I helped him to retrieve them. Then I picked up his motorcycle and pushed it to the safety of the road shoulder.

I told him that he skidded and knocked into me but he said, "No, you were going too fast."

I replied, "But I was going straight and had the right of way whereas you came out from the filter road and should have given way to me."

What he said next surprised me. "Are you going to pay me for the repair of my bike?"

I retorted angrily, "Pay you? But I wasn't in the wrong. Who would pay for my damaged bumper then? Frankly, I am just so very glad that you are not seriously injured. You could have been killed, you know? There is no way I am going to pay you. If you insist, then we report the accident to our insurance companies and let them handle the matter."

He said, "So you are not going to pay me? Okay, never mind, God will know."

With that, we exchanged telephone numbers and we both left the scene.

The next day, I received a call from him. I was expecting another argument.

But he said, "I actually called to thank you for saving my life. Sorry, I was not in my right frame of mind yesterday. Perhaps I was a bit groggy from the accident. I realised that I actually skidded. So I will not be reporting the accident to my insurance company. Have a nice day."

15 March 2008

Shingled And Swindled

About 10 years ago, I was infected with chicken pox. If I remember correctly what my late mum had told me before, I already had a bout of chicken pox when I was a child. If that was true, then according to my doctor, I belonged to a very rare group of patients who got afflicted by chicken pox a second time. (Most people would have had acquired immunity to chicken pox after they have had it for the first time.) Either that or I was particularly jinxed.

And boy, was I jinxed! Early this week, I had herpes. No, not genital herpes but herpes zoster or commonly known as shingles.

I understand that after a person recovers from chickenpox, the virus goes "undercover" and manifests itself years or even decades later as shingles. This usually happens during a period when a person's immune resistance is low.

Fortunately with the abundance of medical information on the Internet, I managed to diagnose myself even before my doctor did. I told my Section Head that I might have shingles and was consulting a doctor. Then I found out from a colleague who had shingles recently that I should consult a GP and that the medicine and consultation would cost from anywhere between $100 to $200.

So I was quite pleasantly surprised that my GP only charged me $85 for consultation and a one-week supply of acyclovir (800mg).

Hmm... my colleague could have been both shingled and swindled. Haha.

Perhaps the best thing that came out of this painful and itchy episode is that I got one week's medical leave. :p No wonder, the Chinese call shingles sheng she "生蛇" (growing a snake) and malingering chi she "吃蛇". Haha.

Wee Kiat, on hearing that I was on MC said, "Your shingles and 1 week's MC is scheduled very well - when your MC leave expires, the long Good Friday weekend inspires. Ha! Ha!"

He continued relentlessly with this story of his wife who is a retired teacher:

"This reminds me of the time when my son was born, back in 1967. He was born in mid-November and at that time mothers were entitled to 6 weeks' maternity leave. Well, being mid-November the maternity leave coincided with the school vacation period. So, when the maternity leave expired so did the school vacation leave. My wife went back to teach on Jan 3. Ha! ha!

So, what's the moral of the story?"
My reply to him was: "Never try to conceive in mid-February when your wife is a teacher."

Hmm... looks like my colleague wasn't the only one who got swindled.

09 March 2008

Four Wise Monkeys

Chun See's blog entry commenting about Peter H L Lim's recent article titled Mistress? Me? No, I'm Ms reminded me of a story.

You may have heard of the maxim of the 3 wise monkeys but have you heard of the 4 wise monkeys?

As you may know, the 3 wise monkeys together signify the proverbial principle to "see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil". So what is the 4th monkey not supposed to do?

A friend recently told me the answer. As he is a respectable man, he made me promise not to name him. (In other words, in keeping with the spirit of the proverb, I am supposed to speak no evil of him. Haha.)

Anyway, this was what he said:

While chatting with a male colleague one day, he asked me if I've heard of the 4 wise monkeys. I said, "No, I've only heard of 3."

He proceeded to show me (using actions):

See no evil

Hear no evil

Speak no evil

(Disclaimer: The photos here are for illustration purpose only. My friend is certainly no chimpanzee and I am quite sure he does not even work with them, whether literally or figuratively.)

Before showing the action for the 4th monkey, he looked around to make sure that no lady colleagues were around:

Do no evil

(Disclaimer again: Photo is for illustration purpose only - my friend and his colleague were fully-clothed then. And I didn't pose for this photo - I don't have such a chiseled body, but how I wish I had. I used this photo merely because I couldn't find one in which the chimpanzee is modest enough to cover his crotch. Also, I don't mean that only men should do no evil - women too - but if I have used a woman's photo instead, I will have to cover more than just the crotch.)

Actually, the 3 wise monkeys as well as the 4th monkey are mentioned in this Wikipedia link. So my friend's colleague is not really the originator of this story. (That, I hope, is not speaking evil of him. And I trust that you didn't see anything evil from this blog entry either.) So relax, my friend - your reputation is still intact.

May I add that this story holds a special meaning for me as I was born in the Year of the Monkey. Honestly, I cannot claim to have lived by all four "monkey don'ts" but I am not telling which one(s) I ran afoul of.