Monday, March 26, 2007

Received an SMS for help earlier. It was in Chinese. Help for this person with cancer , for people to donate blood and forward the message to as many people as possible. I just stopped what I was doing, and eye-balled my phone, eye-balled that message. I couldn't help but wonder, is this message for real? After all, it could just be a phoney.

We all get messages for help every now and then, be it by e-mail or text message. Its all very simple, step forward and offer help if you can, but if you can't, its alright. Just forward the message to as many people as possible. In the beginning, its no problem at all. You think to yourself, why not? But as time passes, you get more and more of such requests, and you begin to tire. You start to pick and choose what messages you wish to forward, and this number progressively drops to zero. But its still fine. You still bother to read the messages. But one day, you receive a familiar message. Its one you helped forward a long time ago. You hit your limit. You convince yourself that the messages must be fakes, and from then on, never open another one of those messages.

I'm one of those people. Sick and tired of it all. But as I stared at that message, the shame hit me. It doesn't matter whether its real or not; what matters is the sincerity in a person's heart. What stops people from forwarding those messages? Is it truly because they believe that the message is fake, or is it simply the fear that people will laugh at them for wasting their time on something that must be fake? Sure, there will be fakes out there, but do we then treat every single message for help as fake?

I think its down to the world we live in. Long gone are the days when a man's word could take him places; nowadays its all in black and white. We have grown apart, detached from one another. We have no time for each other, only enough time for work or study. We have built walls around ourselves, growing cold and indifferent, and it has hardened our hearts. Fooled once, and we prefer to shut ourselves off, sometimes for good. Trust is something we find hard to rebuild.

Could I trust this one message?

I guess I can. Well, I did. I forwarded the message. To a number of people.

After all, I'm still working on my sincerity. I wanna break down these walls.

i heard the crickets at 11:53 pm


Sunday, March 25, 2007

Hmmm. Dad's gone to watch Liaoning Guangyuan's first game at home against Tampines. All the way to Queenstown. Haven't been there in nearly 10 years now. Not the fanciest of stadiums, but the atmosphere back then was memorable. The crowd roared on Tiong Bahru United (as they were known then) every single time they had the ball. Brilliant atmosphere really. Haven't had that very often in our stadiums lately. Either that, or I haven't been to a game in a long time. Hmmm. Which reminds me. I haven't been to a game in a year. Its time to go again. Yea.

"Ugly Betty" is on tonight! Woo~hoo! Funny show! Must watch!

i heard the crickets at 6:13 pm

There's been a great hoo-har this past week over the probable pay rise that civil servants can expect. Judging by figures released by the Government, this appears justified. Pay for top civil servants, ministers, judges and other top mandarins is well below the formula as prescribed back in 1994. Pegged to two-thirds of the median pay of the top forty-eight earners across six professions, the formula aims to provide renumeration that the best in Government deserve. At present, top civil servants are paid at only 55% of what their counterparts in the private sector are earning. But of course, at this level, only seems to be a very unfortunate word to use. After all, we are looking at increases of $1 million for the top mandarins. Per person. Astronomical amounts compared to what many low wage workers will ever earn in the span of their careers.

The timing of this announcement, just months before this country prepares for the impact of an increase in the GST, has led many to come up with wild tales. The increase in the GST is to cover the increase in pay for the Government's top brass, some say. And that is just one of the many now circulating all around the Web. Rubbish, I say, all rubbish. Did these people not know that as the GST increases, the corporate tax has fallen? That in the same budget that called for the increases, social welfare benefits like Workfare were rolled out? The money for the benefits we enjoy must come from somewhere.

But I digress.

I believe that its only fair that we give the brightest minds in the Government and Civil Service the renumeration they so richly deserve. The facilities and benefits we enjoy are only possible because of the work they do. While it may be true to say that people looking to work in the public sector should put serving the people ahead of making money, it isn't fair to insist they settle for poor pay packages as compared to their peers in the private sector. That would only lead to massive staff turnover. Incidentally, this latest pay review comes after rising resignations in the Civil Service.

The salaries of public sector staff must be brought in line with their private sector peers. There is no doubt about that. It is impossible to expect people to work themselves to the bone for a pittance. But just how much is fair? How can the size of the pay increases be justified? There is no simple answer to this, of course. But instead of just using the wages of top private sector earners as a yardstick, perhaps key performance indicators (KPI) can be used as well? For example, the pay of minsters can be determined by using a formula that takes into consideration the GDP of the country, along with the pay scale of private sector peers. Coupled with an annual review that allows wages to rise and fall within a suitable range, this could be fairer, and thus easier to justify to the people, the taxpayers who finance the Government.

Yea. About sums up my argument. Apologies if my arguments are weak, and they invariably should be. Will be working on them. =)

i heard the crickets at 12:31 pm


Friday, March 23, 2007

Everytime I look out the window and see the many shades of green, I feel a sense of comfort, a sense of relief that helps keep me sane. The colours, the smells, the sounds. Brilliant. Simply brilliant. Mother Nature in all her glory is a sight to behold, there is simply no doubt about that.

But as I take in all her beauty, I wonder to myself, will she stay this way? When my time ends, will people still see her beauty? And if so, when their time ends, will there be any left of her? I fear that there will be precious little left, if any, of nature in years to come. Every single day, in almost every part of the world, people pillage from nature, taking more than they should. Deforestation, emission of green house gases, whaling, overfishing, poaching - each and every single case an abuse of our planet. We, as a people, have overburdened this planet which we depend on, and I fear this will be our undoing. By some estimates, the destruction that we have wrought on Planet Earth will heal in about 75 years at the earliest. It makes one shudder to even think of what would happen to us all if the worst case scenario were to happen.

We must move now to confront this malaise, and right all the wrongs. Efforts, have no doubt been made, but they are feeble ones. There are many international agreements out there, but each and every one has been neglected and forgotten. Talk simply is cheap; there must be action. The leading countries in the world should step forth, and show the way. There must be a stronger, more concerted effort to drive the international agreements to fruition, to accomplish the goals as stated in them.

Singapore, despite its small size, is well-poised to be that leader. We have, as a country, punched well above our weight on many occasions. Cast your thoughts back to 1995, when Professor Tommy Koh chaired the UN Conference for the Law of the Sea. Or some years back, when Khoo Swee Chiow became the first man to conquer the highest peaks of every continent as well as both poles. Singapore has shown an uncanny ability to be at the forefront of human development in years gone by. Surely now, after more than four decades, we still have that ability within us. Let us be the champion for conservation and the enviroment. Let us take the first step to saving the world for our children, and their children.

Singapore = Conservation? Why not?

i heard the crickets at 6:19 pm

Plain as it is for all to see, its been a while.

Tuesday was spent out at the movies. "Pursuit of Happyness". Pretty good. Not on the level of bloody brilliant just yet (in my humble opinion anyway), but its one of Will Smith's best performances. Based on a true story, you could almost see the fairy-tale end, but unlike most other films of this nature, it managed to keep the viewer at the edge of his seat, eager to find out just how he did it. More than worth its admission price, no doubt about that.

Wednesday was spent out with the class in Sentosa. Fun, fun, fun! Wouldn't have missed it for the world. =)

The rain washed out our trip to the course yesterday. Which means we'll have to head back some other day to finish up. Dang. I just wanna get it over and done with. =\

And so it is, the end of the week again. Which means football's live on the telly again! WOO~! And it starts tonight. Man, can't wait. Can feel the buzz already. =D

i heard the crickets at 10:19 am


Monday, March 19, 2007

Doesn't it just make you wonder what they get up to behind the scenes of "Sesame Street"?

Great song. Pity the video quality.

i heard the crickets at 3:44 pm


Sunday, March 18, 2007

Alright. Got my computer back. Hard disk had to be changed, for a reason I can't recall now. Everything's gone as well, and this just reminded me about dropping the old girl off at the PC Clinic on Tuesday. See, as always, the guy asked the one question they never forget to: anything important? "No, not really," was my reply. Just ALL my songs, photos, and stuff I can't find on the web on my own. =\

Anyway, on to more... pleasant things. Camp was pretty good. Sapped by the time I reached school, so I was pretty subdued much of the way. Lack of sleep didn't help. But, it was fun. Nice to go to Ubin again; been months since I was last there. Turning a tad orangy wasn't too nice though. I need to get out in the sun more. Football anyone?

Strength returned by the third day, so I got a LITTLE more rah-rah. A little. Throwing hand let me down. Guess I'm not cut out for baseball or cricket. LOL.

4S gathering on Saturday rocked! Steven actually came along for once, would you believe? We guys (as in Hao Jie, Kiren, Hayden, Steven, and moi) had a rollicking good time, and I bet the girls did too. Steamboat steamboat steamboat. Man, what can I say?

4S rocks! WOO~!

i heard the crickets at 11:41 pm


Monday, March 12, 2007

In entries past, I have been guilty, as some of you have pointed out, of rambling on and on about matches that I have had the pleasure of following. This may not seem like much of a travesty to those who share my obsession for the Beautiful Game, but for those who do bother reading those entries of mine, you'll realise that you can find most of that in match reports in the papers or off the web. Most of what I write is a simple rehash of how the game flowed, and nothing more. And I do apologise for putting all of you through such torturous treatment. Starting from this very entry, I promise no more rambling nonsense, no more regurgitation. (Funny, I hear cheering.) Instead, I'll buckle down, and make this space a much more interesting read. I will, instead, write on a deeper, technical level, detailing my humble analysis of tactics, teamsheets, players, and managers.

Got ya there didn't I? Read it again. Didn't mention who I'd make it interesting for. Grins.

Anyway, enough posturing, and on to the serious stuff. The Cup tie between Chelsea and Tottenham last night was basically a tale of two halves. Berbatov and Lennon, playing out of position on the left, combined to great effect to put Spurs 3-1 up at the half, and could have made it even more embarassing for the newly crowned League Cup champions had they been more clinical in at the start of the second.

However, as always, Martin Jol found a way to shoot his team in the foot. With Chelsea at the start of the ascendency, he pulled off both of his in-form stars, and put on Mido and Malbranque respectively. Straight switches I hear some of you say, but the two substitutes were, and are, no where near being as good as the men they replaced. Malbranque appeared in need of a shepard for every single minute he spent on the pitch, and his poor first touch betrayed him everytime he went near the ball. It speaks volumes of Spurs' true strength in depth (or lack of) when an out-of-position Lennon still played better than both Malbranque and Ghaly, who both played on their preferred flanks. Speaking of the Egyptian, despite getting his name on the score-sheet, Ghaly bore more of a resemblance to a block of wood than a Premiership footballer. He is clearly out of his depth at this level, but it seems only Jol is oblivious to that fact.

And while Mido possesses the same massive frame as Berbatov, he lacks the good first touch and creativity that the Bulgarian has in abundance. Mido did manage to trouble the Chelsea backline with his size, but otherwise, his impact on the game was limited.

Chelsea had one of their rare off-days, and for everyone who caught the game, it was rewarding (or painful, depending on your allegencies) to find Chelsea concede three on their own ground. Without the formidable presence of Terry at the back, the boys in blue seemed to quiver in fear whenever the ball was played in their half, and deservedly trailed by two at the break. Things looked even bleaker when Wright-Philips, brought on for the unfortunate Ferreira, found himself out-hustled by the more eager Spurs midfielders. For 21 million pounds, he has been a poor investment, and it looks increasingly likely that his future lies away from Stamford Bridge. But apart from him, the rest of Mourinho's changes did their jobs, and supersub Kalou fired home the equaliser with just 5 minutes left on the clock. And so the replay it is come next Monday, joining Manchester United-Middlesbrough on the FA Cup replay fixtures list.

i heard the crickets at 1:44 pm


Sunday, March 11, 2007

The 12th of March is tomorrow, and aside from it being Yvonne's birthday, its also the final day that a certain Mr Larsson will spend in United red. Its been a brilliant 3 months, and his contributions to the club will never be forgotten. Thanks for the memories Henrik!

Glory glory Henrik Larsson!

i heard the crickets at 6:34 pm

Thanks to an odd spot of TV programming from the media bigwigs, most of this week's FA Cup games will be played today, instead of the usual Saturday kickoffs. So, deprived of my usual fix of the Beautiful Game, I decided to buckle down to follow my first Six Nations rugby game in full. Scotland vs Ireland.

The Irish were the more dominant side in the first 20 minutes, running rings around the Scots with their powerful forward pack and brilliant ability to spread play. The gulf in class eventually showed, even as the Scots began to get themselves more into the game, when a mistake from the Scottish number 10 allowed Ronan O'Gara to steal in for the try. O'Gara converted, and added to the two penalties he had scored earlier on. 13-9 to the men in green at the half.

The Scots lost Nathan Hines, their number 4 to the sin bin at the start of the second, but survived the resultant brutal Irish onslaught. This gave them the confidence to take the game to the Irish, and they deservedly took the lead after three consecutive penalties took them up to 18-13. Going behind to unfancied opposition finally stirred the Irish, slumbering as they had been much of the half, and they roared back, with O'Gara netting two more penalties, and the Irish put their noses in front, 19-18. The scores stayed that way till the end, and allowed the Irish to win the Triple Crown, after earlier disposing of Wales on the opening weekend, and thumping the English 43-13 two weeks ago.

Watched the game between Italy and Wales after that, and it was a little more exciting, what with the expansive styles employed by both sides, unlike the parasitic tactics of the Scots in the earlier clash. Brilliant game, but it was sad to watch it end in contravesy at the end. With 10 seconds on the clock, Wales were down 20-23, and had a penalty. Hook, the number 12, received assurances from the referee that they was enough time for a line-out, and he proceeded to boot the ball out to touch. But almost as soon as the ball crossed the line, the referee blew the final whistle, and the furious Welsh surrounded him, robbed of at least a certain draw. Take nothing away from the Italians, I think they played a good game, but the Welsh deserved more than they got out of it.

i heard the crickets at 12:35 pm


Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Woo-hoo! Class chalet was major fun! All the games, talk-cock sessions, the Great Chase, the February birthday surprises... Man, just fantastic. Up for another one. What say you?

Picking up from what we talked about at chalet (the Eagles, Hotel California, and the little legend of the Satanic messages), William did some major research, and man, its all pretty interesting. Its worth checking out. And have a laugh at some of the silly reverse messages.

i heard the crickets at 11:50 pm


Sunday, March 04, 2007

Life. Purpose. Fulfilment.

There isn't much in life I can complain about. Life's been more than fair. Things are pretty much going smooth. Looks pretty good. Man, I ought to feel good. But funnily enough, I don't feel all that fantastic. Yea, its all pretty good, and I'd be pretty greedy to ask for more, but you know, its just not right; it doesn't feel complete.

I feel a void in my life, a gap that I just can't seem to plug. My life lacks purpose. I don't know where I want to go, I don't know where I want to be. I enjoy what I do, but will I still enjoy all this two or three decades from now?

I seek fulfilment. I seek happiness. And right now, I can't find it. What is my purpose here? Will I accomplish what I am meant to do? When this all ends, will I look back and feel satisfied?

I don't know.

But everytime I look up at the sky, be it in the day with the billowy clouds, or at night with the beautiful little stars, I find comfort. Its a big world out there. Someday, I'll find my place in the world.

i heard the crickets at 5:30 pm

1-0 to Utd! Its a massive win for the lads, and puts us one step closer to taking back the Premiership title that is rightly ours. For 90 whole minutes, Liverpool looked the better of the two, and could've easily won the game at the Kop end with two or three chances just going a-begging.

They came storming out in the second, and had us on the ropes for much of that 45 minutes. Fergie tried to reverse the flow by pulling Rooney back into midfield, but to little effect. A flurry of changes followed for both teams, enforced or otherwise. Utd threw on Silvestre, Saha and O'Shea for Evra, Larsson and Rooney, while Rafa played around with the formations, first pulling off Bellamy for Pennant for the 4-5-1, then back to the 4-4-2 with Crouch on for Sissoko. The latter change was the turning point in the game for me. Without the man-hulk in the centre, Utd managed to push back the tide, and started making forays of their own into the Kop half. One of those forays resulted in a freekick, intelligently won by Giggs in his 700th game no less. Ronaldo's inswinger befuddled the Pool defence, and Reina's poor stop only managed to push the ball out to O'Shea, who made no mistake from less than five yards.

And so it is, yet another smash and grab effort from the boys. Mark of champions? Damn sure is.

i heard the crickets at 12:15 pm


Friday, March 02, 2007

Alright. I've got it all over and done with now, but it has been, to borrow a sporting term, a wretched run of form. I picked wrong. And for back-to-back papers too, would you believe it? =\

Hmmm. Come to think of it. My work this semester seems to resemble how Ballack's playing at Chelsea; distinctly below-par.

Anyway, mammoth game on Saturday. We visit Anfield for what is the biggest rivalry in Premiership football. Could ultimately decide where the title ends up. We HAVE to win this. Absolutely have to. Come on ya Red Devils!

i heard the crickets at 1:33 am


Ginger & Garlic