31 October 2006

Taking Humorous Photos

Chris' comments on my previous post prompted me to write this one. In that post, Chris had accused me, albeit only jokingly, that I must have photoshopped that sprained ankle photo to falsely show a swollen foot. His insinuation, although he might not have meant it, was that I must have done so to justify my medical leave from work. How suspecting of Chris! I would like to state in no uncertain terms that I would never stoop so low, even when limping from a sprained ankle.

I like to take humorous photos. (However, that is not to say that my swollen left foot was a funny photo.) To capture a funny photo, you need to be quite observant and have an eye (actually both eyes) for detail. Take for example this photo I took of an unusual car:

Before Chris starts getting suspicious again, let me state categorically that save for my personal watermark, the photos in this post are all 100% original. They were all taken by me and not "ripped off from the Internet" as Chris likes to put it. Can you guess how this "hybrid" car photo came to be?

I also like to take photos of funny signboards:

This signboard was sighted at the hospital where I went for the treatment of my ankle. Obviously someone, likely a smoker, wasn't too happy with the restriction.

This cafe seems to pride itself in its slow service. It might as well add "Only for the patronage of the very patient who will not fall asleep while waiting for his 'wake-me-up' coffee".

Does this hawker know that he may be driving away "newly health concious" customers like Chris?

To be fair, I also came across signboards that were quite creative in the choice of words. One prawn mee stall at Dunman Food Centre was named "Old King Koh's Prawn Mee". People of my generation will recognise that as a play of words of the nursery rhyme "Ole King Cole". The stall owner was probably a Mr Koh. Sadly, his creativity and humour seemed to have outlasted his business - the stall had stopped operating since several months ago.

Then there was this pub in Joo Chiat Place called "Old Man's Pub". Great! Finally a pub to cater specially for my generation, I thought. I was curious to know if the drinks were served by old bargirls to match the clientele. However, I did not get to find out because the pub closed down before I could patronise it. Maybe that's because they really had old bargirls, heh.

24 October 2006

I Remember Rediffusion

When I was a kid in the 60s, mass media consisted only of newspapers, radio, Rediffusion and TV (which was just introduced then). Of course, the Internet had not been invented yet - it only came about in the early 80s.

Radio only had 3 bands then - short wave, medium wave and long wave. Frequency modulation (FM) band was unheard of at that time. We switched on the radio if we wanted to hear international news and stock market reports. But if we wanted news and entertainment with a local flavour, we turned on our Rediffusion set.

Rediffusion was a subscription 'cable radio' service. The signals came via physical wires connected to what was basically a speaker box with a volume control and a 2-station selector knob. The stations were called 'Golden Station' and 'Silver Station' - one was for dialect programmes while the other was for English programmes, although I can't remember which was for which. The monthly subscription fee then was an affordable $5 hence our family and most of our neighbours could afford the service. As the operation of the Rediffusion set did not require the use of any of the subscriber's electricity supply, most of us just left the set on at maximum volume throughout the day. I think that the broadcast for both stations started at 6 in the morning and ended at midnight everyday. Those of us who needed to wake up at 6 am would leave the set on so that it would act as an alarm clock.

Siting of the set was an important consideration. As connection was by physical wires, the set was not portable. Once you had decided on a location to place the set, it was as good as fixed. You could not bring it along into the kitchen or the bathroom with you even though it was playing your favorite song or story. Hence most people would place the set in a location where they could hear it no matter where they were in the house. This was not very difficult to do because most of us lived in tiny abodes. Most people placed their sets in their living rooms or halls so that visiting relatives and friends could have some entertainment when conversations ran out.

You also could not put on headphones/earphones to hear a programme in privacy simply because there was no such feature available on the set. Best of all, there was no remote control to fight over - whoever laid hand on the selector knob first got to choose which station to listen to, provided there was no overriding vote or veto from either mum or dad.

The Rediffusion man would come around once a month, carrying a soft brown briefcase. After collecting the $5 subscription fee from you, he would tear off a blue stamp-like receipt from a larger sheet and hand it over to you. The receipt had the subscription month and a serial number printed on it in red.

This little brown box we called Rediffusion provided many hours of endless entertainment for us. I remember Lee Dai Soh relating his interesting Cantonese stories at 2 pm every weekday afternoon and then again at around 6 pm in the evenings.

Ong Toh, the Hokkien storyteller would come on every night at around 9 pm. For the English station, I could not forget Casey Kasem's countdown of the American Top 40 every Saturday at around 2 pm.

With TV being introduced in the 60s, the attraction of Rediffusion entertainment diminished somewhat. With the Government's introduction of the Speak Mandarin campaign in 1979, dialect programmes on Rediffusion were cut down. Lee Dai Soh subsequently retired from Rediffusion. He passed on in 1989.

Rediffusion also had to reinvent itself since then. It is currently providing a wireless digital broadcast service. Visit it's website and you will find words like reborn, reinvent, rewound, redefined, revitalised, retro, rethink, remake, relevant, etc plastered all over its website.

Further Readings

Read more about Lee Dai Soh here and here (in Chinese).

Also read about fellow blogger carcar's memory of the 'small square brown color box' (as he called the Rediffusion speaker box) here.

23 October 2006

My "Achilles Heel" - An Update

I appreciate all who offered words of concern and encouragement when I sprained my ankle recently.

When I put up a blog photo of my swollen left foot, Chris smsed me and said accusingly "You photoshopped that photo, right? You think I dunno?" This Chris really thinks that I am so free ah? 真的是幸灾乐祸, 落井下石. Ironically at about the same time, he still dared to blog about being religious and compassionate some more. Although my ankle was hurting, he was making my toes laugh.

Dr Goh P L who attended to me on 18 Oct 06 at the CGH had referred me to the hospital's Sports Medicine Clinic (SMC) for an appointment on 20 Oct. When I smsed Chris about this, he responded that since there was no fracture detected, my ankle should heal in time. So Chris accused me again of gengging (Hokkien for malingering).

On 20 Oct, I kept to the appointment despite Chris' teasing. At the SMC, I saw Dr Benedict Tan, the renowned sailing sportsman. He was very friendly and said "Hello" to me first.

Dr Tan is a Consultant Sports Physician at CGH. He is renowned for his achievements in another "s" sport - the field of competitive sailing. He was also awarded a Medal of Commendation in the Singapore Youth Awards 2004. However, Dr Tan was not the doctor who attended to me. Instead, I was attended to by Dr Roger Tian H H who diagnosed that I had almost completely torn two of my ligaments in my left foot. If you must know the medical term for the ligaments, I think they are called the talo-fibula ligaments:

Although ligaments may heal themselves, healing normally takes about 6 weeks. Swelling on the other hand on my injured foot may persist for several months. I was advised to take more RICE. No, not our staple grain but "Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation". The healed ligaments would also be weaker, looser and more susceptible to further injury and pain. The situation was worse in my case because my injured ankle had one or two similar injuries previously and was thus already considerably weakened. He also pointed out from the x-ray images that the edges of some of the bones in my left ankle had some spurs or spikes. (The edges are smooth in a normal ankle.)

On further physical examination, Dr Tian found that my left ankle joint was unstable, meaning that it had become too loose from old injuries. Hence there was a good chance that I might injure it again in the same way in future. He recommended that I should go back to the clinic for regular physiotherapy sessions. The first session was scheduled on 30 Oct. He would see me again on 17 Nov to see how I responded to the treatment. He would then decide on further suitable treatment for me. He would not rule out surgery but if it was not so serious, he might just prescribe an ankle brace for me so that I could continue roller blading more safely:

Shucks, I should have bought a size 9 blade for my left foot and a size 8 for my right.

So Chris, once again you have wrongly accused me - this time of gengging. Out of genuine concern and not revenge, I would strongly advise you to seek medical opinion first before you take up roller-blading. I am not being a wet blanket here but do you remember that old hairline fracture in your right foot?

Read more about the treatment of ankle and foot injuries here.

19 October 2006

An Offer Too Good To Be True

I received an envelope in my letter box that had my name and address handwritten on it. Thinking that it might be a letter from a long-lost friend or primary school classmate, I opened it eagerly. The letter inside was from a company called "Electric LLP Hub". (Don't ask me what "LLP" stands for - it just doesn't sound decent to me.). The letter said that I had a free gift converted from redeemed points. The free gift was still waiting for my collection. The letter even added a warning that "the expiry date for the collection of the gift will not be extended".

Now I don't remember having ever participated in a lucky draw conducted by this company. Neither do I recall accumulating points that I've redeemed but yet have forgotten to collect the gift. This sweet offer came my way without I having to "go through 100 steps on the web just to redeem it", as Chun See put it. Since the company provided its telephone number in the letter, the "curiosity in the monkey" made me decide to call them to find out what monkey tricks they were up to.

I don't know why but when you call up such companies, 9 out of 10 times you have to speak Mandarin to be understood:

Me: Hello, what is this letter mentioning the redemption of a free gift all about?

Man: 哈? (Ha?)

Me: 我搜到这封信,说我得奖. (I received a letter saying that I got a free gift.)

Man: 对吖,这是你在 Courts 买东西积分抽奖赢来的 (Correct, the gift is from points redeemed when you made purchases from Courts.)

Me: 是什么奖品?(What gift is it?)

Man: 是 camera. 你带你的身份证下来领取啦.(It's a camera. You bring your IC to redeem it.)

Me: Okay. 好,可以的.谢谢你.(Okay. Will do. Thank you.)

Now I am not that naive to really believe that I could be so lucky to have won a free gift. After all, I've heard people being tricked countless times before in a similar fashion. Therefore, I should've known all the tricks in the book. However, since I was near the shop's address (Blk 3014 Bedok North Avenue 4 #03-2158), I decided to pay them a visit despite still limping on my left foot. Besides, I was running out of topics to blog about.

When I reached the foot of the block, I removed all the cash and bank/credit cards from my pocket and locked them safely away in the car. When I reached the front door of the unit, this signboard greeted me:

Eh, I thought it should've been "Electric LLP Hub"? Moreover the name "Pine Rich" also sounded notoriously familiar but I just couldn't recall where I came across it. (I am quite sure that if you check with CASE, they will be very familiar with this company.) I plucked up enough courage to venture in.

In the shop, a man served me. He checked my driving license and then passed me my free gift. Like a shameless child who just received his angpow, I opened it in front of him. It was an "ultra-cheapo-looking" 35mm film camera with plastic body and manual winding mechanism - the type that would cost at most $1.99 and which I wouldn't even dare to present as a toy to my grandson if I had one. I wanted to return the camera to him but he insisted that I could keep it as it was my free gift. To avoid creating a scene or ending up limping on my right foot as well I decided that I would throw it away in the dustbin outside.

The man proceeded to market his other products to me. First he showed me a sound system complete with standing speakers, amplifier and DVD player, ALL FOR FREE. I just needed to give him my address to deliver the goods. (Why is this bloke asking for my address again? I thought that the company already had my address to mail the letter?) I struggled to think of a credible answer for a moment. Finally I said, "No place to put. My flat is very small." Then he showed me a set of stainless steel pots that could cook a meal for a whole football team. Again, they are ALL FREE but I need to pay a "small" advertising fee of $1499 for the steel pots.

I've had enough. I turned and slowly limped out of the shop. Outside, I met an auntie who was clutching the same letter in her hand and on her way to the company. I cautioned her to be careful about the company. Then I passed her the camera and she said, "Yes, I can give it to my grandson as a toy. Thank you."

17 October 2006

A Passion That I'll Never Fall Out Of

Don't be misled by the title of this post - it is not about sex again. I've not written a decent post in the last several weeks. And when I say "decent", I mean it in all senses of the word.

Today, I am reminiscing on a childhood passion. As a 10-year kid, I loved roller skating. I can't remember how we got the skates but we had 3 pairs. These were first generation skates - the parts were mostly made of metal, including the wheels (rightfully called rollers). The only parts that were not metal were the leather straps used to fasten the ankles to the skates. One very famous manufacturer of roller skates then was Winchester which I believe was either a US or UK company. I heard it later progressed to making weapons:

The skates were extendable to fit almost all feet sizes.

Although I lived in an SIT flat and not a kampong, I was resourceful enough to find space to skate. There was a 50-m access corridor linking the 10 flats on each floor. This corridor did not belong to us but I used it like my very own skate park almost daily. Because the rollers were made of metal, the skates made a roaring sound on the go, with a decibel level that could rival an approaching fighter jet plane. Whenever I encroached upon the area outside a neighbour's flat which always had an elderly Indian man resting inside, his daughter Mary would always come to the door to stare at me. If that didn't work, she would shout at me, "Go away. Don't come this side. People want to rest." After that, I would stop just before her door and then turn back, effectively shortening a useable 50-m long corridor to a mere 30-m one.

Of course, when you first learn skating, it is inevitable that you will fall a few times. But the learning is in the falling. Children recover very fast and are not deterred by a few falls. Maybe they have a short memory.

So about 2 weeks ago, after we can't stand the constant prodding of a mutual friend and colleague MGC, Chris' and my resistance finally crumbled. Accompanied by MGC, we went to Peninsula Shopping Centre during lunchtime to buy ourselves a brand new pair of in-line skates each. Thanks to our patronage, the cash register at the shop registered an additional sale of $500 plus that day. To make the sport more challenging, the modern skates have all 4 rollers in a line, hence the name "in-line skates".

On 13 Oct 06 Fri, I had an hour to while away so I went to East Coast Park and put on my new skates for its maiden ride:

Along the way, I lost my balance and fell two times. Nary suffering a scratch even though I was not wearing any protective guard, I got up and continued skating.

Friday evening went past peacefully and Saturday was also uneventful. But on Sunday, my left ankle started to swell and it felt extremely painful when I walked. On Monday, I consulted a GP to get a 2-day MC. I asked him if I should see a Chinese sinseh. He replied, "If you ask me, then I will say no need." So I pretended that I didn't ask him and I consulted a Chinese sinseh after that. (Incidentally, did you know that Chinese tui na is called "traumatology" in English? I saw it being spelled as "travmatology" once. Maybe the letter "v" is used interchangeably with the letter "u" in some languages, e.g. have you heard of the Domvs Restaurant?)

In my opinion, the Chinese traumatologist or chiropractor is even more fearful than the dentist. He would rub, pull, bend and twist your ankle any which way he likes, without any care for your cold sweat, screams, squirms and pleas. Anyway I survived that too. At $20, I call it cheap torture. It is indeed a traumatic experience visiting a traumatologist.

Today my ankle is still swollen and in bandage:

Notice what a nice right foot I have.

Chris advised me to visit the A & E department of the CGH to get my ankle x-rayed. "You won't know if you've got a hairline crack until you've had an x-ray done", he said. He has a way of making people worry. He also said that he would be blogging about my experience. Chris certainly has a way to build his blog on other people's miseries, doesn't he?. In any case, I am putting up my own post on this. There is nothing like hearing it from the monkey's horse's mouth.

Although like Chun See, I am also not superstitious but I can't help but begin to wonder whether choosing to skate on Friday the 13th had anything to do with my falls and my sprained ankle. Still, skating is the other "s" passion that I'll never fall out of, literally. (No prizes for guessing what the other "s" passion is.) It is as if by premonition that I have commented on Chun See's blog earlier that skating can be a health hazard if you are not careful.

I also don't care if Chris decides to find another skating coach. But he better buy that helmet that I have been urging him to. That is because the only way to learn skating is by falling as I have explained and demonstrated. He may think that he has a thick skull but I don't want him to find out the hard way that the floor is actually a lot harder.

05 October 2006

Driver Thinking Of Sex Rather Than Signals

I read an amusing article in the Straits Times today. It was entitled "UK drivers think of sex rather than signals". I quote part of the article below:

LONDON - Over a million motorists think about sex rather than the road ahead and millions more who don't indulge in intimate thoughts are worrying about work or thinking about their families.

Research from car insurer More Than published on Thursday found one in five drivers admit to concentrating behind the wheel less than 75 percent of the time, with 1.2 million thinking mostly about sex.

And sex wasn't the only non-traffic thoughts motorists have.

For 3.2 million drivers work was the main focus and for 2 million more it was family issues that dominated.

'Unsafe habits can be unlearned just as easily as they can be learned, but first, drivers must recognise the risk they face by not concentrating on their driving,' said Ms Lisa Dorn, director of Driver Research at Cranfield University of the findings.
This article could well be talking about Chris. I don't know what was on his mind when he mistaken my right signal for a left one and turned into the wrong road that day.

01 October 2006

Sex Is Only An Incidental Topic For This Blog

Contrary to Chun See's accusation and Chris' assertion, I am not obssessed about sex. Annabel Chong is not my idol either, because at 33, she's too old to be a pornstar, let alone being my idol. (Source of Annabel's age - Singapore: The Encyclopedia, Pg 119. If you didn't buy it when I told you it was on offer at half price, then you will just have to trust me).

It just so happened that everywhere I looked recently, I came across sights that have sexual connotations:

In addition, for the past several days, the media were bombarding me daily about the trial of a university don who was accused of giving false information to the authorities. (For the benefit of those of you who did not follow this case, the don paid for sex had an affair with a China woman. Of course, the woman was young and pretty. And the don was indecently, filthy rich, successful and much much older. In return for regular sexual favours living in with him, she was paid handsomely by the handsome don. One day, the don found out that the woman was also living in with another man. Not only that, the woman was also married to yet another man. This led the don to think that the woman's marriage was a sham because no husband would let his wife prostitute herself sleep with another man for money. Furious and feeling cheated, the don reported the woman's suspected sham marriage to the authorities. The authorities investigated but found no evidence of wrongdoing. Instead, the authorities found that the accused had wilfully withheld or supplied wrong information to investigators to support his allegation of the woman's sham marriage.) So it looks like another case of commercial transaction gone terribly wrong followed by a revenge that backfired.

Today's New Paper also has two screaming headlines about sex on its coverpage:

1. Most Viet sex workers disappear after stringent checks in Joo Chiat. One says she fears getting caught because... "My S'pore boyfriend doesn't know I'm a prostitute."

2. 'Bra & panties' flasher strikes in Hougang. Teen in women's underwear picks on young girls. One victim flashed 3 times.

Of course, I know that quoting media reports alone does not prove that sex is all around us. My post usually comes with an anecdote. This one is no different.

Last Saturday at 3.50 pm, I was in the vicinity of Geylang Post Office. My wife wanted to buy an electric water jug from one of the shops. While she was negotiating the price (of the water jug) with the shopkeeper, I lingered outside in the five foot way. It was especially hot that afternoon and I am not talking about the weather. Two very attractive young women dressed in short tight skirts sashayed towards me. One was dressed in shocking pink and the other in green. Before they could reach me, the pink lady was accosted by a balding man who was much older than me. It seemed like the old man much preferred pink colour to green for the green one walked on but kept looking back at the pink lady. After a few minutes of negotiating the price (not of the water jug), the pink lady walked off with the old man:

If you blow up this photo, you may be able to see the tiny image of the green lady looking back in the centre of the photo.

The odd couple was possibly heading towards this hotel where it had a sign outside advertising hourly rates of only $10:

Now who would want a hotel for only an hour and what can you do within an hour? Read a novel, take a bath or a short nap? Nah, unlikely. The two women were obviously ladies of the afternoon night and they knew each other.

I just hope that the old man didn't forget his two C's:

1. His CPF (which is actually meant for his old age, that is right now for him); and

2. His condom (if he didn't wear one then he might not need his CPF because he could die from AIDS).

After I took the photo, another attractive woman smiled at me. Remembering that my wife was nearby, I quickly looked away. It's not that I can't, mind you. It's just that I won't.