Sunday, October 21, 2007

Sick as a Dog



When a bug hits you, it hits you bad.

I never thought that I would be afflicted with such a severe form of influenza until the darn microbes attacked me on Thursday (18 Oct) with high fever (39 deg C) that never seem to completely disappear. As I type out this post, my body temperature is hovering at about 37.4 C or thereabouts, while my nose is blocked and my body aches. Luckily, the gas in the tummy is slightly better although there is a quirky feeling in my abdominal region. The GP I visit regularly tells me that it is probably gastric flu.

I really hate being this sick and unwell. The last time I had a major illness in 2005, I was stricken with acute appendicitis and hospitalised. I still recall how bad I felt then, with bouts of nausea and vomitting followed by diarrhea haunting me throughout my stay in the hospital. I couldn't eat for days and lost 11 pounds then.

Hope to get well soon.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The Best Form of Marketing?



Came across this fabulous titbit from one of my favourite blogs Church of the Customer. I don't think there is a better way to market one's products or services, do you? If only, we can do that on supermarket aisles and also include customer testimonials into the whole proposition.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Why You Should Make Kevin Lim's Day


Check out the dude doing his Youtube plug for votes.

There are 5 good reasons why you should vote for Kevin Lim for the 2007 Blogging Scholarship.

1) He is a great guy and a good friend of Singapore's blogosphere.

2) He has helped to being a new wave of intellectualism into Singapore's blogging scene. I mean, you should check out his publicly accessible wikis which contain anything and everything you probably need to know about all this whole 2.0 nonsense.

3) Both the chicks and dudes love his humility and funky hair (...ok scratch that).

4) As a lonely and cold student doing his PhD at the University of Buffalo, every single hug, pat on the back, stroke, and voice of encouragement helps. And that includes clicking on that voting button.

5) He plans to donate the funds entirely to a notable global worthy cause, and you can decide where it goes. How often do you hear that?

Now go ahead and click on this link to show Kevin some love. He needs your love. Now!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Topless Fun in the Sun

P1060064

Once in a while, you find the need to indulge in a streak of exhibitionism and hedonistic fun. It isn't always that one gets to do something that will turn heads in the public.

First, we took Ethan along to East Coast Park, where he had fun cycling...

P1060062

We met with our good friends Clement, Amy and their 5 year old daughter Dyann, who is one of Ethan's best friends. Ethan, Dyann and Ani Kakak subsequently tried their hand at kite flying.

P1060070

As it was raining, Amy invited us to her place for lunch. After lunch, we decided to go on a spin in their nice BMW cabriolet and to ride "topless" while picking up some Koi feed.

P1060075

Here's a view from the front passenger seat of the car.

P1060082

It was interesting to see people peering at this motley tag-team of two daddies with their preschool kids going out for a spin in a convertible, risking being burnt by the sun or pelted by rain. Not something that you see everyday.

We sure had fun! Especially the two kiddies as you can see.

P1060080

Friday, October 12, 2007

Snowy Sensations

One of the reasons why we were so thickly dressed in Melbourne was because my son Ethan wanted to see snow. And see snow we did (well some snow since Spring plus global warming made quick work of alpine icicles). Waking up at the ungodly hour of about 4.45 am, we took a day trip to Mount Buller, a famous ski resort about 3 hours drive from Melbourne City and spent a day in a white winter wonderland. Having been to Hokkaido in December, I must add that Mount Buller isn't in quite the same league. Nonetheless, it was great to see Ethan's face light up as he pelted us with snowballs .

P1050335
A view of the alpine "village" with ski resort hotels atop Mount Buller. As you can guess from the photo, it wasn't as cold as we imagined it to be.

P1050304
Entrance to the Mount Buller ski area. Ordinarily, this place would be entirely white-washed in winter.

P1050311
A shot of the ski resort with people sliding, slipping and skiing their way down the slopes.

P1050347
Art in high places, with a sculpture of a skiier on the mountain slopes.

P1050341
Here's a pic of Ethan and his papa. Notice the look of glee on his face, with a snowball all ready for action!

P1050326
Another snowball fighting pic, this time with mama looking dishevelled as she helps to manufacture those icy weapons.

P1050333
Imagine if the North Pole ice caps end up melting like this one day... Going... going...gone!

P1050355
Of course, you can't do without one of these. Even on a ski resort!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Branding in a Periodic Table

Once in a while, you stumble across something really neat that you want to share with everybody. Today I came across this Branding Periodic Table by Kolbrener which is really neat and concise. It tabulates the key definitions in the advertising, marcoms and branding world in a neat "periodic table" format which helps to make it easier for anybody to capture the different terms at a glance.


Built by Kolbrener, corporate branding experts

Of course, I would add that just knowing the terms themselves ain't enough to make you a branding expert. Still, its a good start...

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

I Know That You Guys Are Desperate But...

...do you have to resort to this in order to grab my attention?

P1060060

Spotted this officious looking "Notice" which was stuck on my door handle. It certainly looked - at first glance - like a notice from the housing authority, exhorting us flat dwellers to repair our ceilings within the stated period. The moment I saw the phrase "No Obligation Call Us Now At....", I knew that I have been had. Well almost.

What would they do next? Create an envelope with the "state-crest" and the words "ON GOVERNMENT SERVICE"?

Sunday, October 07, 2007

My Family's Car Accident - A Tale of Service Excellence

Yesterday afternoon, my wife together with my son and maid got into an accident along CTE (I was attending a work lunch then). What happened was a tale of God's divine providence mixed with extraordinary service excellence.

My wife was driving towards the city and encountered the usual Saturday afternoon jam. Traffic was extremely heavy and crawling at a snail's pace. Unfortunately, a slick black BMW driven by a young 19 year old guy crashed into the rear of our car. He must either be driving his dad's car or distracted by his girlfriend.

The shock was so hard that the beamer's airbag popped up. Fortunately, my family didn't suffer major injuries although my maid had a swelling on her head (currently under observation) while my wife's back hurt. Both cars stopped and my wife took down the driver's full particulars (NRIC, license plate, hand phone photos of damage, insurance company, car model).

Immediately after, a circus of different "animals" descended on the scene. First were tow truck operators from accident workshops who stopped and offered help. Second, the EMAS tow truck arrived, hoping to clear up the mess from the expressway. As the car could still move, I advised my wife to drive to an authorised workshop instead.

As she drove, the rear bumper came loose. It fell to the floor partially and started to drag. A vehicle behind my wife's car signalled for her to stop and she pulled into the road shoulder.

Apparently, a loose part of the bumper hit the front light of the car behind. She immediately thought that the driver and his friend (Gary and Zack) wanted compensation. Instead, they said that the loose bumper was very dangerous especially to motorcyclists and offered to tie it back. They waved off the broken headlamp as unimportant.

Despite their best efforts, the bumper wouldn't stay on. It was then that Gary asked if our car insurance company was aware of the incident. My wife told him that our car was covered by AIG, and Gary replied that their workshop was actually authorised by AIG. Although it was his off day, he would be happy to handle all the accident related issues for us. However, it was entirely up to us if we want to do so.

After some consultation, my wife and I agreed. After all STAR Workshop was one of the reputable leading motor workshops in Singapore, owned by the ST group.

Gary and Zack drove my family back to our home where I met them. We then proceeded together to the workshop. Concurrently, Gary arranged for a tow service for the car to the STAR workshop called XCars Pte Ltd at No 15 Kim Chuan Terrace (near Paya Lebar).

We were chauffered to the workshop by Zack, who was very friendly and spoke in reasonably good English. Quite different from your typical mechanic I must say. On the way there, he told me that a replacement car was already arranged at the workshop ready for collection.

STAR Workshop

Once we arrived, all paperwork needed for the accident was done by Gary with the help of Zack. Gary handles group operations for STAR, and helped to show the ropes to Zack. I got a close up look of my car to assess the damage. It certainly looked like a few thousand dollars worth - bumper gone, rear sensors gone, and even the chasis was dented.

Car 1

Professional and friendly, Gary told us that he will manage all expenses incurred under the workshop's account. We don't have to pay a single cent - no excess payment, no service charge, no doctor's fees etc. Naturally, the workshop will claim everything from the insurance company.

What's amazing was that he remembered me from our NS experiences 15 years ago even though I sheepishly couldn't recall who he was. As we spoke, my memory was slowly awakened. Soon, we regaled about the good old army days.

We next proceeded to our replacement car - a bright red Toyota Corolla Altis. This was the same model that we got the last time our car was hit! Hmm....

Temp Car 2

Zack next drove us a clinic at Ang Mo Kio Hub to make sure that everybody was all right. This was part of the service that they provided. Gary paid for the doctor's fees. He even had a photocopying machine in his car so that he could make copies and return the originals to us - on the spot!

Before we departed from Ang Mo Kio, I thanked Gary and Zack for going to all the trouble in helping us with our case. What I liked was their professional yet personal, friendly, and non-pushy approach. Even Ethan liked them and asked "Uncle Gary" to carry him a few times.

I told Gary that I will definitely share my experience and recommend his services. If you ever (touch wood) get into a car accident, just remember to call 92207212 or 62821313.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

881 - Royston Tan's Magnum Opus?



881 is one of those rare local films which struck a chord with me. While some may dismiss it as a crass musical comedy, I find that it resonates with many Singaporeans by showing how underdog performers can have their day. The show's colourful and spectacular costumes, out-of-this-world sets, and highly cheesy performances just adds to the whole fantasy of getai entertainment. It gives a sense of escapism and good old campy fun.

I like the acting by the different leads in the movie: Liu Ling Ling as the "mamasan", Mindee Ong as the cancer stricken "Little Papaya", Yeo Yann Yann as the family angst ridden "Big Papaya", and of course Qi Yuwu and his rooster. As one who has grown up with the Hokkien dialect in my childhood, I found its use refreshingly poetic in the movie, without necessarily degenerating into the more "colourful" aspects of the dialect. The contrast between the glamour of life on stage versus the gritty realities of day-to-day living makes the movie even more compelling.

Straddling arthouse appeal with mainstream popularity, 881 shows that Singapore films can make a mark given the right blend of storytelling savvy, directorial talent, stellar acting and right context. Royston Tan shows us once again why he is one of Singapore's greatest directorial talent in this day and age. From what I read, it is already making waves at the box office, garnering sales of more than $3 million locally (which I understand from Raintree CEO Daniel Yun to be "phenomenal")

Oh yes, the songs are fabulous. In fact, I believe that some of them may outlast and outlive the appeal of the movie. Let me end with this beautiful title track "One Half" or "Yi Ban" for the movie by Wu Jiahui.



PS - I must be one of the last folks to blog about 881, but what the heck. It's my blog and I will dawdle if I want to...

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Cuddly Koalas, Sassy Seagulls and Perky Penguins

One of the day trips which we took recently at Melbourne brought us to Philip Island, which is one of Australia's most well known penguin lookout. En route to the nursing grounds of those cute tuxedo-ed birds, we stopped by a koala conservatory and had a glance at an island full of seals (supposedly). While the service standards of that particular trip wasn't great, it did bring us to a few interesting spots - including Warrook Cattle Farm which my son loved.

P1050696
A map of the Koala Conservatory which includes boardwalks to homes of the furries.

P1050674
Can you see me? I am nestled comfortably amidst these branches of a gum tree.

P1050675
Here's a shot of a cute and cuddly mother koala with an even cuter baby koala clinging onto it.

P1050683
A koala keeper explaining why we should never poke, slam, or throw a sheep at a koala.

P1050692
Yet another koala meditating and pondering over the vicissitudes of life.

P1050699
The Nobbies is where seals hang out on Philip Island.

P1050700
Here's a view of the great southern ocean from the observatory.

P1050703
The island itself. Unfortunately, we can't really see any seals there. I guess they were either shy or too busy fishing!

P1050707
What we do see lots of however are these seagulls, which were gregarious, social and creating a major spectacle.

P1050721
Naturally, I can't resist a kodak moment. Ethan however, didn't seem too pleased.

P1050722
Finally, nearing dusk, we visited the world famous penguin parade.

P1050732
You can actually "pose" with the penguins and pretend that you are surrounded by flocks of cute little penguins.

P1050733
Talk about tourist friendly. I spotted 10 different languages amongst these brochures.

P1050727
The walk down the beach to where the penguins come up to nest. Unfortunately, we were not allowed to take photographs of them. Besides it was too dark... so...

P1050726
We came up with our own alternative penguin pics.... ;)