Saturday, June 28, 2008

Out with the hammer

There are regrets, and there are regrets, and there are regrets.

The cake recipe called for 5 eggs, B-grade. On cracking the 5th egg, I wailed. A bad egg, it turned out. Sighed. Wasted 4 good eggs and stuck with smelly fingers. Should have known – don’t put all eggs in one egg-cracking bowl – I’d heard that probably a million times - ReGrets.

On the way home, I saw the road in front being jammed by a growing line of stationary cars. I smiled smugly. Putting on the left-turn signal, I cut into the next lane. I took a left turn for a short cut. Braking almost immediately after the turn. Aiyoh, a longer queue! What was thought to be a short cut had turned into an excruciating driving experience with constant nagging of “I’ve told you so!” from the wife (even though she didn’t say a thing before I made the turn) for the long hours that followed – RegretS.

Standing in a queue waiting to pay at the supermarket, I looked at the watch, my feet shifting intermittently. I cursed. The cashier had been working at the rate of a snail going for a stroll on a lazy Sunday afternoon. Finally, three more customers remained. At this point, a dispute broke out regarding the pricing of an item. After trying to look impatient and to be in a hurry, and appraising the dispensing rate of the next counter, which had five customers waiting, I decided to be bold and change queue. As soon as I stood behind the new line, dispute solved. The snail suddenly put on a turbo booster. Within seconds, the cashier had served five customers. I cursed. I was stuck behind another three customers and wondering whether to be thick skin and jump back to the previous counter which had two customers – reGreTs.

Hot day. Had been craving for an ice cream all days during work. Finally at home after dinner, I opened the fridge, knowing there’s one ice cream left. Panic. No ice cream. I saw my little boy licking happily at my object of desire by the TV. I’d to beg to get five licks, no-more-no-less, insisted my boy. Arrrgh… should have hidden the ice cream immediately after I stepped into the house – rEgrEts.

So tired. Turned off my alarm clock at three in the morning to go back to sleep. Probably just another boring game ending with penalty shootout, I thought. Turned on the TV in the morning for highlights from the Russia vs Spain Euro 2008 semi-final match. The fluency of the passing, the delicacy of the flicks, the speed of the attacking build-up, the ferocity of the barrage on goals, the three goals scored, and the roaring of the crowd… Arrrrgh… I missed all these just so I won’t nap during work??


With finals of major tournament usually less open and entertaining, hopefully I won’t whine about having to sit through 120 minutes watching 22 men on the filed playing defensive football not to lose a game on Monday morning, and then snooze through the rest of the day at work, or else, I’ll bring out the hammer again.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Wordless Wednesday


Saturday, June 21, 2008

My Idols

“Another one?” I thought casually.

On my way to the office yesterday, I heard the radio DJ announcing that a certain TV station is trying to come up with a new “reality show”. I’m not a big fan of this genre of programming. And I regard the term as just a re-branding exercise of what TV has been offering for many years.

Probably, most people would have their own definition of “reality show”, if they ever give it another thought. But, “unscripted”, “non-professional actors”, “no pre-determined ending”, “entertaining” would be a few of them. Therefore, news, news analysis, documentaries probably don’t fall into this category. But sport event which can draw hopes and excitement, disappointment and anguish, pain and agony, nervousness and relief, and offer no pre-determined outcome should be one of them. But I found out that Wikipedia disagrees.

The reason I’m not a big fan of reality show is probably due to the lack of connection. So many times the program would put common people in uncommon situation (stranded on an island, eating spider, begging for money, …). Although on and off I will tune into the show, but I would rarely get hooked into it.

Although I’m not a big fan of these reality shows, I am participating in one, and submerge myself totally into it.

I am the star of the greatest “reality show” (to me): My Life. Can you get anymore connected? Is there any race that is more “amazing”? Is there anything that brings more “fear factors”? Is there any more life-threatening episode that you need to “survive”?

“LIFE”, as in the definition of “reality show”, means different things to different people, if they ever give it another thought. Exciting, dull, interesting, frustrating, satisfying, discontentment, hopeful, fearful, entertaining, … would be a few of them.

No matters what Life means, I always find that at times, transposing ourselves from being a participant to a spectator could give the “show” a whole different, fresh perspective, especially during one of Life more emotional episodes filled with negative feelings like fear, anger, anxiety, frustration, failure, etc. Take a deep breath, pause for a split second, and transform ourselves to be a spectator in the gallery, watching calmly onto ourselves standing in the middle of the situation, analyzing every aspect of the surrounding and its implication. Only then we’ll be able to make decisions with a mind clear of murkiness stirred up by negative thoughts. Much like how we sometimes question the decision of participants in a TV reality show, since we are shown scenes of other participants’ action and other happenings that they are not aware of.

And of course, being a “reality show”, the ending of Life could only be unscripted. But that’s a matter to be scripted by none other than ourselves.

Lastly, my Number ONE reality show for 8 years in running is ....

The Life of My Two Children!

They are my greatest Idols. I try to follow their path of adventure every single day at every stage of their competition in Life. I’ll laugh with them, cry with them, hope with them and struggle with them.

And hopefully, as their “reality shows” run into the many seasons that follow, I would turn out to be their greatest Idol. Actually, that’s not a hope, that’s my target in Life.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Get in the hole!

I stand firm, feet squarely beneath my shoulder, toes pointing outwards, knees slightly bent. I glance to my left. My eyes fix onto a hole no larger than an orange, or an apple. My palms are sweating. As intense as I gaze at the hole, I feel the eyes on me from behind are just as vicious, silently hoping I’d fail. I take another look at the ball sitting in front of me. Tighten my grip on my club. Focusing on the path that my ball will travel towards the hole, I try to block out all other thoughts, other than the imaginary curve that leads from my ball towards the hole.

Focus on the curve. Focus on the curve. Curve. Curve. Jessi. Jessica. Jessica Alba. Curve. Curve. Suddenly, for no reason at all, Jessica Alba slips into my thought. And she’s eating ice cream. So delicious. Next to her is a tiger. Beauty and the beast. Tale as old as time. A tiger. Putt like a tiger. Putt like Tiger. Tiger Woods ...

I was going to write that I knew Tiger Woods would win the US Open 2008 today yesterday, so that I can write “I TOLD YOU SO” loudly on today’s entry.

A lot has been written about the greatest athlete in our era. To me he’s the greatest athlete because of a lot of reasons. But the one that tops my list of admiration is: FOCUS.

If my six years old boy can take a putter in his hand and hit a golf ball around, then putting is probably the easiest part of the golf game to execute, if you don’t intend to put the ball in a hole, with the objective to win a tournament, under the watchful eyes of millions in the gallery and besides TVs, eager to claim a place in the history book of sport and to pocket million of dollars. Under these circumstances, the green is a ring buzzed with tensions and pressures, where a true champion stands tall amongst the pretenders.

When a mere millimeter, a slightest tremor of hands, a tiniest hint of distraction could stand between the fist-punching satisfaction of winning and the head-hanging disappointment of losing, the degree of intensity of focus of the mind will be the differentiating factor. And nobody can paint the picture of intensive focus better than Tiger Woods on his face, standing next to his ball, with a putter in his hand, staring at the hole on the green, about to make the championship putt, the first major title putt, the second major title putt, … or the force-a-playoff putt. You could almost see the line on the green leading from his ball to the hole in his eyes. Great visualization.

How did I know Tiger Woods was going to win the US Open after he forced an 18-holes playoff with Rocco Mediate? Actually, I didn’t. But I knew Rocco’s not going to beat Tiger. On the final round, immediately after Tiger sunk his putt into the last hole of the round to extend the championship for another day, one of Rocco’s comments was, “I knew he’s going to make it.” A deflation I sensed.

To me, self-confidence is the second most admirable characteristic of Tiger Woods. To a lot of his competitors, this has transcended into an aura of invincibility, to his fans, a dependable source of fist-punching, uplifting moments to make their days. To me, Rocco’s remark had totally betrayed his submission to the invincibility of Tiger, the athlete with the greatest mental strength.

With comment likes: “on his day, any players on the PGA tour can still take Tiger down,” as plausible as it is deceptive, what enabled Tiger to yet claim another golf major championship were probably self-confidence and focus.

Enough digression. Back to my “intense” focusing …

Focus on the curve. Focus on the curve. I swing my club along the imaginary curve towards the ball. As the ball leaves my putter, rolling firmly towards the hole on the carpet, my fists are in the air. Going, going, going … drop. YES! Fists punching. The ball drops perfectly into the hole, 3 feet from where I’m standing on the putting practice mat. My little boy groans from behind me in disappointment. As I wipe the sweat on my palms onto my trousers amid the hottest day in the week, I take out my trophy and start licking away. Being a sporting winner, of course I will share the only ice cream left in the fridge with my little boy.

Thursday, June 12, 2008


The grass might be greener on the other side. But if I can’t drink a drop of milk from cows grazing on them, it’s just a pretty picture.

The whale might be the biggest animal in this world. But if I can’t touch it, I won’t go “WOW!”

Aishwarya Rai could be the most beautiful woman in this world. But if she’s not right in front of me, I doubt my heart would skip a beat.

Celine Dion could be the most talented singer in the world. But if I haven’t been to any of her concerts, she’ll just be another digitally reproduced voice from my CD player.

KFC fried chicken could be finger-licking-good, but if it’s not between my fingers, I’ll hardly go and lick my fingers.

The petrol price might have gone up 78 cents. But if I’m not pumping any into my car, it doesn’t hurt.

Until today … OUCH!

After 7 days imagining my car to be a glider going towards a red traffic light with the gear set to neutral (and similarly while going down a slope, towards a corner, or anytimes I’m slowing down); after 7 days staring back at drivers who overtook and stared at me, while I was cruising at 50 km/h; after 7 days of passing by the bicycle shop hesitating to stop by and make a purchase; after 7 days of cursing at drivers who make me brake while my car is gliding in neutral gear; after 7 days … I was finally standing next to a petrol pump.


Err... that’s not me. It’s my wallet.


Tuesday, June 10, 2008


I like watching movies. And I very rarely have popcorn or soft drinks during movies, I like to stay totally hooked to the movie. And I’m usually one of the last to leave the cinema, reading all the credits, while listening to the soundtrack, just to soak up all the good feels of the experience. And I only watch movies at night. Coming out from the comfortable, cool, enchanting darkness into bright hot sunlight would vapourise all the imagination stirred up during the movie, it gives me headache too.

And it’s been eight long years since I last fully enjoy a movie.

After my eldest child was born, fatherhood had somehow diminished my interest in movies, and makes cinema a less attractive place than by the side of my children. It was not until my eldest girl was six and my little boy was four that we went for our first family movie, when I thought they were old enough to be introduced into the wonderful world of movie magic.

“Chicken Little” was the first movie we went together as a family, and the first after a 6-years-long hiatus. I was ready to enjoy movie again. Yipee!

“Why the soda give out gas when you shake them?”, “How come Chicken Little is so little and can swing such a big bat?”, “How come the pig so fat can go through the hole so small?”, “How come … ” - Q & A session.

Ooo…kay, that’s what it’s like bringing little children to their first movie. I spent half the time answering their questions while trying to hush them down. Needless to say, I didn’t get to enjoy the movie, but it’s a revelation.

So there was quite a long while before we decided to take the children for another movie again. “Spiderman 3” came along. That time, I invited my cousin and his family to come along. My 2 kids and his 3 kids would have each other for company sitting together. They would have a good time while I could enjoy my movie.

All was fine when there were fast and furious actions on the screen, However, when the audience was enjoying a quiet, romantic moment between Peter Parker and Mary Jane, they also had to endured our kids arguing about whose turn was it to hold the popcorn bucket. Ooo…kay, too many “cold” scenes, and not enough hot actions on the screen to attract their attentions. Lesson learned.

We sat through the movie trying to instruct, order, and even threaten the kids to shut up or turn down their voices, while hoping for more car chasing, web swinging, and villains fighting scenes on the screen.

There would be another long wait for the next movie. “Transformers”. That time, I made sure by consulting my friend who had watched the movie, “Good exciting actions from start to finish. Good show.” Ah … that’s the one. No cousin that time. Some expected Q & A sessions regarding the story. Tolerable. And just when we’re getting excited gearing towards the final showdown between the Autobots and Decepticons with Sam and Mikaela being brought to the secret base of Sector 7, a voice whispered in my ear …

“Baba, I want to pee-pee …”

“WHAT?” I screamed out at the top of my lungs … in my thought. “But they are going to fight soon, it’s going to be very exciting, you’ll like it,” I tried to persuade him to hold on.

“But it’s going to come out already …”

Ooo…kay, no more popcorn and soft drinks for movie, another lesson learnt.

A few more movies we watched recently during school holiday, “Iron Man” and “Indiana Jones”. Knowing what to expect, the pain and disappointment in not able to enjoy the movies become more tolerable.

Finally, “Kungfu Panda”. I expected the worst for this movie. Because we’re going with the family of my sister-in-law, 5 adults, 5 children, loads of popcorn and soft drinks. Ooo…kay, I’m ready.

However, as soon as I walked into the cinema, I had a good feeling. Children were everywhere (it was school holiday and it’s the second night after the premier) talking, eating, laughing and, of course, asking questions. Seemed like my kids were the more mature ones this time round. One down.

In the middle of the confusion in trying to get everybody seated, I was separated from my kids, by two seats, my wife and my sister-in-law. Shouldn’t be any Q & A this time round. Two down.

If only I could sit through the whole show with Mother Nature going AWOL on my kids, I would have a great time.

True enough, after being enchanted, and laughing together with everyone in the cinema, I was able to enjoy the whole movie for once, at long last. No Q & A, no fighting for popcorn, no toilet breaks, lots of laugh, loads of humour, kungfu in every other scene, nice atmosphere, .... Ah ... satisfied. Oh, I love movies.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Vacation, anyone?


“Ouch … “

“Where am I? Am I dead?” my nose felt like bleeding.

“ …apart from the petrol price increment of 78 cents, the price of diesel will also be raised by RM 1.00 per litre … “ the radio announcer continued.

Oh no! The world was spinning again …

That was 6:15 pm on the 4th of June 2008.

Back to 9:00 am of the same day:

I was reading newspaper during breakfast. Headline news: Higher fuel price by August even with new subsidy plan.

“Well, at least we have two months to adjust towards the price increment. Should be enough time for me to get a bicycle, exercise, shape up my physical stamina, convert the petrol-free machine a little bit to accommodate 2 adults, 2 children and make rooms for 2 brief cases and 2 school bags, ” I concluded smugly, before happily going to work in my petrol-sucking monster …

As I regained consciousness in my car (in about less than one split second), I was trembling slightly (out of excitement, or out of anxiety? I’m not so sure). On the way home, I could see queues of cars building up from all directions at various petrol stations waiting to suck all the petrol from the stations’ tanks into their vehicles before 12 midnight.

When I read the newspaper in the morning, I was expecting the government to officially announce the new subsidy scheme before letting the petrol price loose, in a manner not unlike the current scenario, swift, clean and precise. As efficient as a guillotine. As full of impact as a punch in the face.

After much anticipation, after the opening acts of flour, cooking oil, and rice, the star everyone is waiting for has finally entered the stage, with a big bang. A new era begins: days when we will need a bigger fridge, to accommodate the larger volume from conversions of daily marketing to weekly marketing, weekly marketing to monthly marketing, etc; when short 5-minutes drive now means long 20-minutes walk; when a jog in the park means a jog TO the park, then jog around the park (if you have enough energy to jog back to the house afterwards). And, of course, fuel cost being the mother of all things inflationary, a firework of price increment of other items will surely follow suit. Now, instead of using the same buckling hole on my belt all the time, I finally have a chance to use the holes to my right to fasten my trousers.

“Stagflation” – some would call it – is when prices of daily items are on the rise while economy (and our income) remains standstill, or slows down. But, being an optimist, I’d rather call it “Vacation” – when my income remains the same, and suddenly I wake up holidaying in an exotic country where the people looks familiar, the places look familiar, the weather feels familiar, but all things on the shelf are being priced in figures that are twice of what I’m used to pay, if you're visiting Singapore. Let's hope we won't be visiting US or UK anytime soon!. Wallet on alert!

Here’s to a happy and memorable vacation ahead.

(Click here for news article)


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