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This week seems to be a week of tributes as following the tribute to Starbucks RC2, Michael Jackson has now left us. For good. This has shocked me quite a fair bit because he had been preparing for his London shows and I was so looking forward to him kicking off a possible world tour later on. I think he has, in his own ways, redefined pop – just like how Elvis Presley is the King of Rock; Michael Jackson is indeed a King of Pop – a talented musician beneath all that plastic surgery – a true music artist in the heart, at least in my perspective.

News reports stated that he has died of cardiac arrest, and paramedics were unable to revive him when they arrived at his home in Holmby Hills. He had been preparing for his London tours since 2 months ago and there had been worries about his health particularly since he had been rushed to an LA hospital earlier.

I remember him for his Black or White MTV (and yes, the MTV which shows him morphing into a Panther), his moon-walk, crotch-scratching and all his other Sing-a-longable songs. How did you remember him by?

Lastly, may God be with him as he leaves us in this sudden manner and may he rest in peace. Secretly, I am still hoping that this is not true :(

LOS ANGELES – MICHAEL Jackson, the child star turned King of Pop who set the world dancing to exuberant rhythms for decades, died on Thursday, a Los Angeles County Coroner’s office spokesman confirmed Thursday. He was 50.

‘Pop star Michael Jackson was pronounced dead by doctors this afternoon after arriving at a hospital in a deep coma, city and law enforcement sources told The Los Angeles Times,’ the newspaper reported on its website late on Thursday.

Jackson had been taken ill at his home and found not breathing by paramedics who rushed him to a hospital, the paper said.

The paper’s report followed news of Jackson’s death first reported by the TMZ entertainment website, which said that the singer suffered a cardiac arrest. There was no immediate comment from spokespersons for Jackson.

Known as the ‘King of Pop,’ for hit albums that included ‘Thriller’ and ‘Billie Jean,’ Jackson’s dramatic stage presence and innovative dance moves were imitated by legions of fans around the world.

His one-gloved eccentric style also earned him plenty of critics and another nickname, ‘Wacko Jacko.’

Jackson, who had lived as a virtual recluse since his acquittal in 2005 on charges of child molestation, had been scheduled to launch a comeback tour from London next month.

TMZ said on its website that Jackson suffered a cardiac arrest on Thursday afternoon at his Holmby Hills home and paramedics were unable to revive him. ‘We’re told when paramedics arrived Jackson had no pulse and they never got a pulse back,’ the site said.

Earlier, the Los Angeles Times said the singer had been rushed to a Los Angeles-area hospital by fire department paramedics.

The newspaper said paramedics performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation at the singer’s home before taking him to the UCLA Medical Centre hospital.

Jackson had been due to start a series of concerts in London on July 13 running until March 2010. The singer had been rehearsing in the Los Angeles area for the past two months.

The shows for the 50 London concerts sold out within minutes of going on sale in March.

His lifetime record sales tally is believed to be around 750 million, which, added to the 13 Grammy Awards he received, makes him one of the most successful entertainers of all time.

There were concerns about Jackson’s health in recent years but the promoters of the London shows, AEG Live, said in March that Jackson had passed a 4-1/2 hour physical examination with independent doctors. – REUTERS

Source: Straits Times Interactive, http://www.straitstimes.com/Breaking%2BNews/Lifestyle/Story/STIStory_395605.html

Article extracted on 26 June 2009

Editor: If you have no time to read through the whole post, you should join the Facebook here first: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=101036602014 :)

I discovered this gem while I was walking along CHIJMES sometime before Christmas about 2 years ago. I saw the manager putting up Christmas decorations on the glass doors of a newly opened Starbucks! Yes, that became what I affectionately call RC2 – RC for Raffles City, and 2… just to differentiate from the first outlet that’s located at the entrance of the City Hall MRT station. The term “RC2” has since been popularly known amongst all my friends, some of whom have totally no idea why it’s called as such, but to some of us, it’s more than just an acronym.

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You know what it is about RC2 that I like? It’s the feeling of home. Haha… Starbucks will probably not like this idea, but the place is really nice and cosy and makes people feel right at home. I remember the mugging days and my favourite Tazo Chai Tea Latte, 4 pumps Chai, less milk more foam. Well, it’s since changed to no milk and all foam, but yeah, they always get my order right. Well, almost always. :)

My hang-out days

Yeah. Those were the days! Tian Hong will hang out at RC2 whenever he is off school (or when he doesn’t have classes – officially or otherwise; just kidding) and Ridz will be there to do his work. In fact, both of them were there so often, they probably know every staff that had been there. There was this unique table with 2 lamps (pictures coming up soon) that had an entire power bar, where geeks like us will quickly snap up. Now, I will not mention how anti-social we were when *ahem* some of us *choppe* seats while the rest of us made our way down to RC2. Subsequently, there was a time it became a rather popular blogger hangout area (ok, just the few of us bloggers) that if we were to go down any time, we will spot someone familiar.

Card games days

Yeah, there was also a time when I was hooked onto card games and a few of us (not just bloggers), would gather at RC2 to play card games like Galaxy, the “castle-building game” and probably another one that I can’t remember. These are days that I don’t need a power point – basically meant that I didn’t have to blog, nor do any work. The games owner will get his cuppa coffee (and refills) and we’d play games until the store close – and no, we did not start playing from the time RC2 opened, it’s usually from 7 or 8pm onwards.

Celebrated my birthday

Yeah, I celebrated my birthday at RC2 last year. It was supposed to be a surprise celebration with Alice bringing in a surprise birthday cake… that was not lighted. Anyway, it was pretty memorable because the whole Jean gang came down! Woohoo! Yeah, even the not-so-regulars who hung out every now and then at RC2 came over as well. Following the mini party, we played games again! Haha… what a way to spend a birthday :P

Mugging days

Yes, I mug too. In fact, I am a professional mugger :P There’s this girl who is really nice working at RC2; and I never really got her name, and I don’t see her there nowadays :( I heard from her colleagues that she’s either Sharon or Kaiting, but I regretted not asking for her name when I saw her. Sigh. (Editor: Okie… seems like her name is Kaiting) I remembered there was once when I was having quite a bad cough and she handed me a pack of Strepsils! I think she’s really sweet and hope that I will be able to get in touch with her again.

Business and working days

Well, not really, but since the few of us are in the “business” of social media (blogging), we sometimes get together to talk about all things tech, scandals in the blogosphere, upcoming promotions and programmes, get-togethers and all. It’s a really nice environment because we have the choice of comfy chairs or the long meeting table that we plug our laptops in – 8 in all, to be precise, without using 3-way plugs. I think the environment, the people and the location could have also played a part of getting Miccheng and perhaps Bernand down as well. Oh well… no more common place for hanging out and working at the same time…

Watching Jeremy draw

Haha… yes, that’s this artist who used to be at Starbucks to do his drawings. I no longer see him there now and I wonder where he’s been to. I peeked at his artwork once in a while and I quite like it. I really never got to talk to him (although he seemed to talk to everyone else – am I that scary?!) and wonder where he’s been to. Those were the days where he will sit at the comfy sofa just next to the glass door and draw away. Through some sheer luck from my nemesis, I found out that his works are sold on here.

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Last days at RC2

It’s kinda sad that RC2 had to go. In fact, I only knew about it just barely 1 week before it was due to close. Well, I spent the next week’s evenings at RC2 – going down every evening after school and the remaining weekends there – not to mention the mini goodbye party that we had on the last Friday of the week. For the first time, I tried Cappuccino Cheesecake and I realise that I should just stick to the Lava cake or the puffs if I don’t want my lactose intolerance to act up on me.

I also spent the last few days taking photographs of the place, and with the staff who used to work there. I guess it’s going to be hard to find another place to match this place. Personally, I’d rather they close SB-RC (the one in front of the MRT station).. haha… but seriously, from a business point of view, it probably makes sense to keep SB-RC and close SB-R2 because RC faces the rush crowd and opening 24 hours next to McDonald’s mean that customers now have a choice between Starbucks Coffee and McCafe (personally, I have not tried McCafe but I don’t think I’d want to…).

So, what makes RC2 special?

Well, so what makes RC2 special… at least to me? I guess it’s the people. No, it’s definitely the people! And of course, the location and environment. A whole group of the RC2 staff will be moving over to Bugis, while about 7 will be at RC. RC is… well, different. It’s usually very packed (but that’s what gives it sustainable business); but because it’s so busy, there’s hardly any time for the barista and the customers to interact – short of just taking their orders and preparing the drinks. So – it becomes business – cold hard business. However, while it is important for businesses to establish relationships with a client/customer, I am not sure how it can apply to a coffee-chain like Starbucks, since the model seems to be one that targets take-away customers rather than dine-in customers.

So really, it’s probably the people at RC2 that makes it special – not to mention that they always remember my order of a tall Tazo Chai Tea Latte – 4 pump Chai, no milk all foam, Tazo Chai Tea Latte. Yeah, it used to be less milk, but since everyone’s definition of less is different, it’s probably good enough to have 1/2 cup water and all foam :)

So, after today, Kenneth and a couple of others will be heading to Bugis, while the rest will move on to RC, with a small number ending up at One Fullerton, Shaw Tower and this outlet at the end of Selegie (what is it called again?) As for regulars like myself, it’s either back to Cathay (but even most of the staff at Cathay are no longer there), Vivo (1 or 2) or maybe try out One Fullerton (but the parking is… $5! Ouch!). Either way, I think I will miss everyone there.

Goodbye Party – Were you there?

Yeah, this is probably one of the saddest party that I have attended this year. Most of the barista were there and we took lots and lots of photographs and exchanged lots and lots of hugs. It happened on 19th June 2009. Were you there?

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Petitioning against the closure of RC2?

Ok, in the age of technology, when all things are free, I’d think that getting “signatures” for a petition against the closure of RC2 is futile. It’s probably a business decision to close RC2 because of overheads and dipping businesses – and petitioning against the closure will only hurt everyone because there’s probably just not enough support for the business. A decent amount of money has probably been spent on the infrastructure and it is probably well considered before the decision to close RC2 is made.

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Keeping in touch

So, while there is really nothing much we can do about the closure, I am hoping that all staff, regulars and fans of Starbucks RC2 can join the Facebook group at http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=101036602014. I have taken some photographs on the last few days at Starbucks and hope that everyone can chip in a little to keep the memories of RC2 alive :) (yeah, cynics will ask what the point of it is; but then again, they are not cynics for nothing). So, while RC2 is no longer there, I hope everyone can still keep in touch!

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And I thank all the wonderful barista that has made RC2 feel so much like home :)

Last day at RC2

08:20am

Argh! I am late! I am supposed to go over to RC2 for my morning breakfast at their last opening!

09:30am

Okie.. better late than never… :P Got myself a Tazo Chai and cold water :P

10:00am

*snap snap snap* *snap snap snap* *snap snap snap* *snap snap snap* *snap snap snap* *snap snap snap* *snap snap snap*  Met some other regulars who only knew of RC2’s closure today. *snap snap snap* *snap snap snap* *snap snap snap* And she took the “last day” sign away :(

Met Angela as she came in – not to work, but to go through her studies.

10:20am

Okie, a little hungry. Got the peppery chicken puff. It actually tastes pretty good! :) But the potato curry puff I got the last time can’t really make the mark. I still don’t know why Starbucks changed vendors for their food.

10:30am

*munch munch munch*

10:45am

Argh. Chicken shreds stuck between my teeth! (ok, that’s too much info)

13:30pm

Okie… space getting a little tight…

13:45pm

Large group of people came in. The place is starting to get noisier. But this is probably the last time that such a crowd can be seen at RC2.

15:20pm

Ok, I am hungry again and bought another Peppery Chicken Puff. Yum yum… :) And finished it in 40 minutes. Heh.

17:45pm

The guy sitting next to me is actually from Duke-NUS!!! Okie, it’s a small world! And he is taking Dr Tan’s subjects!!! Hahaha… yeah, I know the tensions that he’s facing now…

For some reasons, my lab mate got hold of a CD of classical music pieces (and it’s not pirated) where many of the all time favourites like Symphony No. 4, William Tell Overture and Piano Concerto No. 5 were compiled onto a single CD. Yes, this means not having to search through all my CDs and burning a separate piece just for my personal enjoyment. Then again, I am probably too lazy to do so…

I will probably not mind a trip to NUS just to listen to their Symphony Orchestra play/practice a piece or too, but then again, these are not places that you can just walk in as and when you feel like.

By some sheer luck (and knowing lots of people), I came to know of a concert that NUS Symphony Orchestra will be playing in… if you are thinking classical pieces, you are in for a BIG SURPRISE!!!

Tomorrow (19th June 2009, Friday), NUS Symphony Orchestra is actually going to play for Video Games Live! Yes! The series of sold-out concerts that had been happening around the world! Now, I am not sure if NUS *did* play for the other concerts, but I thought it’d be rather interesting to have NUS Symphony Orchestra playing video game pieces! Think – Super Mario, Final Fantasy and Warcraft (?!) Now, I am really not sure which pieces they will be playing, but I was definitely awed by the following video I found on Youtube:

Now, of course we are not looking at a One-Man-Orchestra!!! But I thought it’d be amazing to listen to these video game pieces being played by an entire Orchestra! And I heard that the Choir will be there too (although I am not sure what they will be singing)! So, if you would like to re-live the days of Super Mario Bros (again, I am not sure which pieces they are playing) or to indulge in your kids’ games (now now, I don’t have parents visiting this site, do I?) do go down to the concert tomorrow!

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Yes, it’s happening tomorrow, 19th June 2009 @ The Singapore Indoor Stadium. There’s still time to go get your tickets from the Stadium Box Office or at all SISTIC outlets! This is a one day performance and there’s no knowing when they will return again… (and the pieces may not be the same any more). Yes, go book your tickets now and don’t even bother checking them out at www.videogameslive.com/singapore because the tickets may not be there any more! :P

See ya!

PS: And oh yes, you enjoy discounts if you are a gamer student! :)

Exams took a good part of my time in the last 2 months – when I had to cram through 2 weeks of mugging in a cubicle and hoping that what went into my head doesn’t come out immediately. My classmates and I began to conjure up stories of how instead of just burning the books and drinking them, we should mix glucose with the burnt concoction before drinking it so that the burnt materials will undergo glycolysis together with the glucose and how it can then travel to the brain.

Yes, I know. Bio geeks.

But speaking of which, I gained a hefty X kg to the extend that my jeans almost no longer fit (think ‘deep breath’ and ‘tuck in’) and it was amazing what a twice daily meal of McDonald’s can do to me; especially when all I did was just eat, study, drink (water and upsized large ice lemon tea) and sleep. Soon, I had a tummy big enough that I’d get seats when I take the bus or MRT.

It’s that bad.

Anyway, the exams came and went, but the extra “’blob’ didn’t. In the past (in the hay days of my secondary school life), this wasn’t usually a problem since I used to run. However, this isn’t the case after I went into University… some of my classmates blame it on the lack of time, but for myself, I think it’s probably just sheer laziness.

Nonetheless, I took a break after the exams to the highlands, hoping that I’ll come back fitter after all the walking, vegetable leaves and cleansing teas. While it was a refreshing trip, it didn’t seem to help with the extra pounds. When I came back, I got an email regarding some capsules that I could take to help with reducing appetite and cholesterol, improving sugar balance and lowering risk of heart diseases and diabetes, in addition to the superfibre product that it claimed to have.

You know? Being the skeptical life science student that I am, I thought that this is one of those get-slim-quick gimmick that has been around since years. Still I decided to go ahead with some samples and got them in a week.

Looking through the content, one of the active ingredients is konjac, which is commonly used as a vegetarian substitute for gelatin. The other active ingredient is medium chain triglycerides (MCT), which is probably how energy levels are sustained throughout the day – even thought it had been thought that MCT aid in the process of excess calorie burning.

Moving on, I started a 2 capsules, twice a day regime of capsule swallowing (my labmate says I swallow like a bird) before meals and while it didn’t seem to have any effects on me on the first couple of days, I realised that my appetite is gradually reduced. I seem to get full faster which, I joke with my other authors here that it’s because the capsule is so heavy, taking 2 alone will just give the sensation of having eaten something heavy. Literally.

Of course, no sane self-proclaimed scientist will take any form of supplements without reading all the notices and contraindications. There was this part that said: ‘You may experience a temporary change in your bowel movements as your body adjusts to the addition of PGX, usually in 3 to 7 days’. Gasp!!!

Well, today is the 7th day and I have not experienced the kind of ‘plat plat plat plat plat booosh puuuuuuut’ bowel movement, so I guess I am fairly safe from getting such symptoms for a while; and the reason why I actually know that such symptoms are possible is because I tried different types of slimming tea and product and they usually result in enormous diarrhoeas which just made me more lethargic and dehydrated. In fact, after taking this capsule, I seem to adjust, pretty naturally, to a more balanced and regular diet.

So, what was this that I have taken?

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It’s the PGX Daily Ultra Matrix Softgels. (Oh yes, I took the product shot myself; please tell me it looks professional :P )

According to the product information that I have gotten, PGX® Daily Ultra Matrix Softgels can help to moderate high cholesterol levels, better manage blood glucose levels, lower insulin resistance, achieve healthy weight loss, cut food cravings and reduce my intake of calories, while reducing my risk of developing diabetes and/or cardiovascular disease.

Really, I first thought that it might be too good to be true, but after seeing what it did in just 1 week, I am looking forward to the results the next week and towards the end of the month.

Do stay tune for my quest to reduce my weight! :)