Happy New Year 2008!

General December 31st, 2007

Happy New Year, pull your ear! Here’s wishing all our readers a very happy and prosperous new year for 2008! May your 2008 be exciting and scandalous!

– from the authors of Simply Jean

Yebber’s night out!

Blogosphere December 30th, 2007

Yes, I signed up for the dinner as well, which just added on to the number of dinners I attended this year. If there’s nothing on on New Year’s Eve, then this is probably my last dinner gathering for the year. I totally resisted bring my big-assed camera out, but ended up discovering the small one in my bag. Oh well. Here’s some pictures of the event. I think Claudia has more – either that or her photographer. Haha…

Read the rest of this entry »

I was a little shocked that a trial bus service to serve the residents of the Yio Chu Kang estate was rejected because the fare that was proposed wasn’t high enough. Apparently there’s no direct service from the Yio Chu Kang private estate to the nearest MRT stations and getting to one is quite a hassle. So while the MP for the GRC lobbied for a premium service, PTC rejected the only respondent – SMRT, on the grounds that the fare of S$1.30 is too low.

So, just to make sure that the PTC is what I thought it’s meant to be, I visited the website, which had its mission statement:

The Public Transport Council (PTC) was established in 1987 as an independent body to approve and regulate bus services, public transport fares and ticket payment services. It is entrusted with the challenging mission of balancing commuters’ interest with the long-term viability of the public transport operators.

We seek to :

  • create a comprehensive and integrated bus network;

  • assure quality bus services;

  • maintain affordable bus and train fares for the public; and

  • safeguard public interest in the mode of payment of fares.

I guess the keyword is "regulate" because in biology, regulate means that something can either go up or down so as to maintain homeostasis – which really means that the PTC does have to right to ask the service provider to increase fares; although I am not sure how this ties in with maintaining affordable bus and train fares for the public.

I think they probably forgot that not everyone got a pay rise.

THESE little green buses are on trial providing a shuttle service from the Yio Chu Kang MRT station and bus interchange to nearby private housing estates. Despite being concerned over profitability, the Singapore Mass Rapid Transit System (SMRT) Corporation launched the route yesterday.

The new service is the result of some prodding by Ms Lee Bee Wah, MP for Ang Mo Kio GRC and adviser of Nee Soon South grassroots organisations, who managed to convince the transportation company after months of discussions.

As a result, two green air-conditioned minibuses — which can seat 19 people — would now serve some 1,200 households in Springside, Hong Heng, Thong Soon Gardens and Springleaf estates, stopping at five pick-up points in these areas.

Residents there had in the past complained to Ms Lee about the lack of public transport to a nearby MRT station or bus interchange, especially useful to students and the elderly.

It has been an arduous journey. Ms Lee spent about one year trying to convince SBS Transit and SMRT of the need for such a service, but both were concerned about its feasibility.

While SBS Transit rejected the idea because it was "not viable", SMRT decided to give it a trial run after it conducted a feasibility study, said Ms Lee.

But that was not the only hurdle.

When the proposal was submitted to the Public Transport Council (PTC) in June, it was rejected because the fare proposed ($1.30 per trip) was not appropriate for a premium bus service, usually priced between $2 to $3 per trip.

"So I took another six months to talk to the PTC, Land Transport Authority and the Ministry of Transport. Eventually, I managed to get it approved last month," said Ms Lee, who added that she had even approached Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong for help.

Said SMRT’s deputy chief executive officer Lee Seng Kee: "We made a projection and based on the population size, we believe that the $1.30 fare is feasible."

When asked what would happen if SMRT does not break even after three months, Mr Lee said: "We are prepared to extend for another four months. At the same time, the committee will talk to residents to use the service. If that doesn’t work, we would look at the numbers again."

Mr Wilson Zhuang, chairman of Springleaf Neighbourhood Committee, said the shuttle service would cut down travel to the nearest MRT by about 10 minutes.

Before the service, residents in the areas would take about 20 minutes to travel to Ang Mo Kio MRT station, which is further away, on bus 169, he said.

But another resident, a retiree in his 50s who declined to be named, said while he appreciate the effort by Ms Lee, he believed it would make better sense if the new shuttle service travels to Chong Pang town centre and Khatib MRT.

He said: "There is no market at Yio Chu Kang MRT station. Housewives would be happier if the service goes to Khatib MRT which is not only nearer but also has grocery shopping facilities."

Nazry Bahrawi
nazry@mediacorp.com.sg

Article obtained from todayonline.com at http://www.todayonline.com/articles/229165.asp dated 26th December 2007 on 30th December 2007

Maximize your leave!

Singapore December 30th, 2007

2008 is another good year to maximize your leave. By just having to apply for 8 days of annual leave, you would be able to get 37 days off. This is due to the closeness of public holidays to the weekends – that, by applying for an additional day or 2, you’d be able to get a continual stretch of days off. However, this also meant that April, June, July, September, and November are dry months because there are no holidays in these months. For people who have about 14 days (including most entry levels), you may either save your leave for next year, or take the remaining 6 days of your leave and turning them into 1/2-day leaves such that you can have about 2 half-day leaves each month on a Friday for that long weekend feeling.

New year’s coming in just 2 days time. So exciting!

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Click on the image to download the guide in larger size.

Cheers and happy holidays!

Christmas Eve dinner

Personal December 29th, 2007

Yes, this is another long expired post. You must be thinking… what happened? Well… many things happened… and for one, I was sort of taking a rather long leave from a couple of things, just like Claudia when she decided to take a hiatus. So what happens after a break? More entries, of course! Haha…

So, after the library lunch and roaming around a crowded town for the whole afternoon; and making many phone calls and last minute reservations, I managed to get Alice, Miccheng, Tian Hong and Xinhui down for a Christmas get-together. The place that we booked was at Indulge @ the Cathay, which is a really nice place to dine where they serve hotel-rated food at low affordable prices that even students can afford!

After bumming in town for another 4 hours before dinner, we finally met. Xinhui was hungry and crying out loud, while most of us were… hmmm… quite ok. =P Miccheng brought a long a bottle of Vienna wine which was opened without extra charge at the restaurant. We all know how expensive corkage charges can get at some places.

Pictures of food? Sure! But how about some pictures of those who attended?

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Xinhui: This is not a peace sign. If I still don’t get my food soon, I’ll going to poke them into your eyes!

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Tian Hong posing for a cool look while bearing the hunger in his tummy

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Alice can’t stand the sight of it anymore… she’s feeling a little sick

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Miccheng showing his… ahem, baby face

And now for the food! Seriously, I have a good mind to put everything into a photo gallery. Uploading pictures to WordPress is quite a chore.

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Prawn with Wasabi and Sunflower seeds. This is such a delight to have! The prawns are succulent and fresh and while it’s crispy on the outside, it’s soft and tender on the inside – perfect to go savour the taste bite by bite.

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The Cheeky Wings – essentially fried chicken wings, is a must-try! The wings are crispy and well-flavour and the meat is nice and sweet! I heard from the chef that there is a special way of preparing it that gives it its omph!

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Salmon with Kung-Po Sauce. It’s East meets West at it’s best! The familiar taste of perfectly sauteed salmon with spicy Kung-Po Sauce goes surprisingly well! If you like the flavour of Kung-Po, and you love the softness of the salmon, then you’d love this dish!

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Chrysanthemum-shaped fried dory with sweet and spicy Thai sauce. The dory is nicely sliced at one side of the fish and folded into a Chrysanthemum and deep fried and flavoured with Thai sauce. The fish maintains its absolute moist while the sauce gives it the unmistakable Thai flavour that is ever so popular at Thai eateries. A must try and a top 100 Singapore dish!

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Steak at rare. I think Miccheng had it rare because he recalled that even medium-rare was quite tough. Hmm… Think I’d still like mine medium at best.

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This is the chicken soup that was on the house. Every time. =)

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Aglio Olio spaghetti. It was ordered on the side, and in fact, we left it to the chef to decide on the pasta that would go well with all the dishes. Wise choice!

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Rice that came with the dishes. I think it was on the house.

Besides all these ala carte dishes, we had more surprises in stalled for us! The chef had order some dessert for us. On the house too! Oh man, this was turning out to be one of the best Christmas that I ever had!

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This is walnut brownie with ice cream and peach soaked in wine! It’s really good! Really yummy-licious! The peach was somewhat sweet to the taste with a well-seasoned texture while the brownie and ice cream was so smooth that it’d glide down your throat!

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More surprises! This is coconut juice service with bobo-hitam and coconut milk! It was totally unexpected because no one would have thought of putting that in the coconut husk! Moreover, the coconut meat was still inside! Nice and smooth and blissful to the taste!

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This was the Vienna classic wine that Miccheng brought along. Although it was just bought from a supermarket, it is one of the better bodied wine that I have tasted! It leaves a slightly sweet aftertaste that most non-wine drinkers will like. Too bad this is only available in Vienna.

Red wine, anyone?

We left Indulge feeling good and well-fed. I’d recommend this place for a nice change without bursting your wallet. Moreover, this place is nicely tucked away from the hustles of the crowd at the Cathay, so you can enjoy a nice meal with your friends or loved ones in your own privacy. The only other attention that you’d get is that of the friendly staff at the restaurant. 4.8 stars out of 5. This is definitely a must-try. A Simply Jean recommend. 😉

Yeah, I was almost back to ghost town at the now defunct library@orchard. Everywhere was deserted. No books. No shelves. No floorings. No counters…

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From outside, it was just a glass with white paper pasted over the windows (#1). There was nothing. Once inside, I saw… empty space where the Chinese books used to be (#2). No more checking out machines (#3). No more IT books (#4). No more comics (#5). No more multimedia computers (#6). No more facing against the wall (#7). No more printers (#8). No more cubicles where you could listen to music as you read (#9). No more counters (#10). No more checking out just near the entrance (#11). No more stage (#12). No more Galilee (#13). No more waterfall (#14). No more health books (#15). No more meeting rooms (#16)…

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Well… then I met our 2 comedians librarians at the library. Here, Ivan was wondering where Jillian is. Hmm…

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Oh! Is Jillian teleporting from the future? Did she see where she was going to go to? But that’s secondary…

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… because what is a lunch without food?!

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… and log cakes?!

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… and desserts?!

Side-track a little. One of my friends was thinking of opening a dessert shop in town to beat the hot weather during spring and summer. She intends to call it Just Desserts! Yes, including the exclamation mark! Haha… how apt to be situated in the midst of busy Shenton Way. Now, directors can ask their employee to go get some desserts…

Director: Look at how you handled the case? How can you not put the interest of your clients before your own? Now they are downstairs demanding to get an explanation and to sue you for your negligence. I am not going to care. I want you to go down and face the music and get your just desserts! And I want Ice Jelly with Aloe Vera…

Lawrence Lee (the employee): …

Ok. Enough of the side-track. Since today’s also going to be the last day of reporting to the branch for the librarians, I figure it might be safe to show some more pictures…

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Here’s where the books from he book drop goes to… sliding down a now-non-existent slide… and they go to…

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… these shelves! Where the books are sorted out first and if they belonged to the same branch.

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The manager’s room! But… where’s the window?!

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Ah… here it is =S

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And this is the counter that’s right in front of the staff room door…

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And an overview of the staff room… The manager’s room is to the left.

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And soon, it was time to go… guess I won’t be seeing any more of the library@orchard. Still, thanks for the good memories. I look forward to the next library that’s going to open in town. I hope Ivan and Jillian can return together to the new library. 😉

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See you in 2012!

The last week or so was packed with so many Christmas get-togethers that I was starting to lose track of what happened when. Haha… It started off with Ping.sg’s Christmas celebrations, on 21st December 2007, my KCS meeting on 22nd December 2007 – which wasn’t a celebration, the Wii party cum crab session on 23rd December 2007, an unplanned, unexpected Christmas dinner on the 24th December 2007, kitty hunting on 25th December 2007 and watching some legendary show on the next day – which is today.

The Wii party started at 2pm on Sunday, when Jeff picked up most of our friends from the MRT station. Everyone except Chin and Lynn were here. After a while, we began to wonder if Chin holland’d again – just like the last time when we were supposed to meet at Settlers’ Cafe… but he ended up at the Holland Village branch instead of the Boat Quay branch. Oh well…

So we decided to give him a call and realised that he thought it was the following week?! Hmm… I don’t think Chin’s that blur though. Haha… cos he managed to bring a yummy log cake along the way! Haha… it was nice! A little creamy, but nice! =P

We played tennis on Wii and were showing off all kinds of stunts and aces. Most of them are random – especially those by me, but no one knew the better! Haha.. geesh. I think now the whole world now, but it doesn’t matter. Haha… Chin kept returning a ball that was consistently out of court. Even I wasn’t able to do that – and he was using my Mii – not that it matters anyway.

Alice was supposed to join us, but she missed the entire Wii party! Oh well, but she managed to join us in time for the next item on the agenda – crab session! Yes, we went to Melbourne Mellben Restaurant at Ang Mo Kio and lined up in that crazy queue for a share of our crabs! Since crabs, when cooked are red, it’s sort of a Christmas celebration for us, especially when garnished with leafy mints.

We ordered lots of food – rojak, tofu with lemon sauce, pork ribs, stir fried vegetables, man tou, chilli crab, black pepper crab, and bee hoon crab! Yum yum! A picture tells a thousand words right? So here you go!

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Doesn’t all these food simply make you hungry? Especially the sambal chilli crab! More photos!

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The (almost) full table!

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Look at that crab! The claws! And the meat!

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This is a moment in history! Jeff having his first taste of crab!

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Finger licking good!

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Jeff: Yeah man! That was good!

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Jeff posing with his trophy.

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Stephanie and Kelly obviously delighted with the crabs! Yum yum!

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Eddy helping himself to more food!

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Chin aiming for his next game while Lynn continues enjoying the food 😉

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Yuhui: Yeah! I like that!

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Stephanie: Oh gosh, I’m so full!

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Stephanie and Jeff, both looking very fulfilled from dinner! =P

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Alice: Heh… is there more food?

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Chin: Sorry, it’s all in my stomach, but you can pose with me though

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Chin, Stephanie, Jeff and Yuhui all looking very happy and fulfilled with their meal

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Do you know what’s so special about this? The claws are clean without using fingers! Alice scooped everything out using satay stick and chopsticks!

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The disaster that was left behind by us for the lady to clean. It was a good meal and a good gathering! Also a good get-together before Kelly leaves for her new job! All the best!

Well, the recent increase in fuel is beginning to show it’s domino effects – starting from the raise in electric tariffs. This means that every household in Singapore that uses electricity will be paying more for every single second of electricity they use. Fuel is also used widely in other industries, especially in the transportation sector – hence I believe strongly that a raise is eminent.

FROM next month, electricity tariffs will go up nearly 6 per cent, to 22.62 cents per kilowatt-hour (kwh).

This is the highest price hike since 2001. The revision is the result of soaring fuel prices, said Singapore Power which released the January to March tariff on Wednesday.

The 1.24 cents per kwh increase works out to between $1.30 and $5.50 a month for one- to five-room HDB flats.

Between Jan 1 and March 31 next year, Singapore Power expects fuel prices to go up by some 10.5 per cent, from $87.46 per barrel to $96.64 (US$66.28) a barrel.

Electricity prices are adjusted every three months. The last increase was made for the October-to-December quarter where electricity costs went up between $1 to $4.20 a month for one- to five-room HDB flats.

Members of Parliament The Straits Times spoke to agreed that with the rising fuel oil prices, the electricity tariff hike is inevitable.

Dr Lily Neo, an MP for Jalan Besar GRC, said lower-income families and the elderly ‘will definitely feel the pinch’.

She noted: ‘Already, many don’t switch on the lights at night to save the extra few cents. What we can do is offer financial help such as NTUC vouchers and food and grocery vouchers to tide them over.’

Article obtained from straitstimes.com on 27th December 2007

Hmm… I heard about volunteering for the Grand Prix (GP) since a few months ago and mentioned to some of my friends that it’s probably one of the better ways to get to watch the match without paying through your nose for the tickets.

Now that they have made all criteria known online, along with the different appointments, I am beginning to wonder if I am fit to volunteer for the GP. The reason why I am saying so is because the specific requirements for some of the roles are still quite hazy and moreover, I have no idea what profile fits that of a senior official and what fits that of just an official – and what differences do these 2 levels of hierarchy make.

There were also many terms that I, as a layman, do not know. Things such as "sectors", "grid", "paddock" and all – which explains why I am having second thoughts of volunteering. Moreover, the training days are rather vague – and that everyone must attend all of the training sessions or be thrown out half-way. Sigh. Without actual dates, it’s really hard for me to commit (yes, they are asking for full commitment). What if my exams fall right in the middle of it? Or worse, on the same day as the training?

Sigh. No wonder I am so afraid of commitments. Hmm…

The MRT train service stopped twice within 90 minutes after separate reports of people falling into the tracks were reported. Apparently, it was reported that someone fell into the tracks at Kranji MRT station, but staff were unable to find anyone on the tracks. Soon after, there was another report of someone falling onto the tracks at Marsiling and he lost part of his leg as a result of this.

Hmm… scary.

TWO MRT stations in the north on Tuesday were disrupted following separate reports of a man’s fall onto the tracks.

At 9.43am, the southbound train service between Yew Tee and Woodlands was disrupted when the train driver spotted someone falling onto the tracks at Kranji station, a Singapore Mass Rapid Transit spokesman said.

The authorities could not find anyone after an extensive search of the area.

Normal train services resumed at 10.53am, but within minutes, it was disrupted again when witnesses saw a man fall onto the tracks at the Marsiling MRT station, one stop away from Kranji MRT station.

The man, believed to be in his 40s, lost part of his leg after being hit by the train and was rushed to National University Hospital. — TNP

Article obtained from straitstimes.com on 26th December 2007