31 January 2008

I was at the Waterhub at Toh Guan East this morning to attend something on trade effusions into the sewers. Later, I was at the Weiner Kaffeehaus at Bukit Timah for lunch. The lunch set was $13.00 before service and taxes. Good food, great coffee. Viennese coffee house and roastery. A shame about the $1.00 charge for the water! Doh.

30 January 2008

Discounts

40% off one full-priced book. Cardholders get another 10% off the total. Click here.

35% off one full-priced DVD, CD, VCD. Cardholders get another 10% off the total. Click here.

Offers end on 10.02.2008.

27 January 2008

June Hwang introduced a new ALEA boardgame today. 'In the Year of the Dragon'. June Hwang, Terence, Tze Cheow and I played two games of that and two games of 'Coloretto' today.

25 January 2008

Borders Coupons

30% off one full-priced book. (Cardholders receive a further 10% off). Click here.

40% off for four books or more. (Cardholders receive a further 10% off). Click here.

Offer ends on the 7th of February 2008

23 January 2008

The run for David Cronenberg's 'Eastern Promises' is almost over. Likewise, the anime 'Vexille'. The period of a run is short these days. Films arrive and vanish in an eyeblink.
I was eyeing the Dell XPS quad-core gaming rigs. Hmm.. I think I can get a quad-core machine at a lower rate at Sim Lim Square.
My seven year old computer has finally given up its ghost. The motherboard died. A capacitor fell off the video card too. Well, I am now on the look out for a good gaming rig.

22 January 2008

For some strange reason, I have been listening to quite a bit of Duran Duran this past few days. 'Falling Down', 'Notorious', 'I don't want your Love', 'All she wants is', 'Perfect Day', 'Love Voodoo (Remix)' and more.
I do need to focus.

Heh.
Doh

Another morning exchange with Kuoby. Heh. We talked about a telephone conversation.

Chuang Shyue Chou says (10:54 AM):
I just grilled a salesperson and her boss to death.

Kuoby (Thuggg) says (10:54 AM):
nice one

Chuang Shyue Chou says (10:54 AM):
They wanted to sell an ERP solution.

Chuang Shyue Chou says (10:54 AM):
But they don't know what they are selling.*

Kuoby (Thuggg) says (10:54 AM):
without even knowing your needs?

Kuoby (Thuggg) says (10:54 AM):
that's stupid


Chuang Shyue Chou says (10:54 AM):
Yep, without knowing.


Chuang Shyue Chou says (10:54 AM):
I said I wanted to know what app server is.

Chuang Shyue Chou says (10:54 AM):
I wanted to know the backend language used for development.

Chuang Shyue Chou says (10:55 AM):
I wanted to know this and that.

Chuang Shyue Chou says (10:55 AM):
Database.

Chuang Shyue Chou says (10:55 AM):
etc.

Chuang Shyue Chou says (10:55 AM):
She was at a loss.


Chuang Shyue Chou says (10:55 AM):
I asked if they used Java, then what about the performance?

Chuang Shyue Chou says (10:55 AM):

Then, her boss came on. Her boss kept repeating the mantra that there is no performance issues.

Chuang Shyue Chou says (10:55 AM):
She kept saying that ABCD Company*** which used it had no performance issues.

Kuoby (Thuggg) says (10:56 AM):
hmm sounds like local company?

Chuang Shyue Chou says (10:56 AM):
It probably is.

Kuoby (Thuggg) says (10:56 AM):
yup

Chuang Shyue Chou says (10:56 AM):
The salesgirl could not speak proper English.

Kuoby (Thuggg) says (10:56 AM):
small timers

Chuang Shyue Chou says (10:56 AM):
I think they are.

Chuang Shyue Chou says (10:56 AM):
Her manager was better.

Chuang Shyue Chou says (10:56 AM):
More confident

Chuang Shyue Chou says (10:56 AM):
But was still pathetic.

Kuoby (Thuggg) says (10:57 AM):
hard doing sales

Kuoby (Thuggg) says (10:57 AM):
but you make it harder if you don't know your product

Chuang Shyue Chou says (10:57 AM):
Yes, one should be at least versed in one's products.

Chuang Shyue Chou says (10:57 AM):
Or someone should have written the product specs for the salesgirl.

Chuang Shyue Chou says (10:58 AM):
That way, the sales person can survive at least.

* The salesgirl had to slowly pronounce 'Enterprise Resource Planning...'
** Entry was edited for clarity.
*** Company name disguised.

21 January 2008

Books I am reading

I am currently reading:

'Light' by M. John Harrison
'Introducing Romanticism' by Duncan Heath
'Home from Nowhere: Remaking our Everyday World for the 21st Century' by James Howard Kunstler
'A Military History of China: From the Manchu Conquest to Tian'anmen Square' by Peter Worthing

The first is M. John Harrison's first SF novel in a long time. The second is an illustrated introductory volume explaining the Romantic movement, the third, a tome promoting New Urbanism and the final volume, another military history of China. I had just finished 'The Omnivore's Dilemma' by Michael Pollan and 'Ancient Rome' by Nigel Rodgers just last week.

I am always curious as to what everyone is reading. May I know what you are reading at present?
I am weary. Heh.
The Fixer

As usual, I am the last resort. I am like the 'Michael Clayton' character in 'Michael Clayton'. I have a debt to collect.

I have to make an appeal regarding something else too.

In both cases, it is not that I do not have a leg to stand on, it is that there may not be means to achieve what has to be done. I will need to squeeze blood out of a stone. That will be interesting.

20 January 2008

I swam twenty laps this morning. It had been a while since I swam. The rains in December had made it almost impossible as the pool was shut due to the potential of a lightning strike.

I finished reading 'The Omnivore's Dilemma: The Search for a perfect Meal in a Fast-Food World' by Michael Pollan this evening. I would recommend this volume to everyone.

19 January 2008

A fine Saturday morning

A girl just backed her Mitsubishi Lancer GLX into my father's car. Doh.
Friday doodle




A doodle of a tree-lined ravine. Colleen 2B Pencil. 11cm x 11cm.

18 January 2008

I saw an eagle or a hawk of some sort on the roof of the house of the South African ambassador today. The bird of prey had landed momentarily and was soon aloft.
What a glorious day! The sun's shiny. No sign of rain at all.

17 January 2008

Something Sneaky This Way Comes

It had happened a few times. There was a request for quotation called by a certain organisation on a certain online system.* This organisation was bound to abide by a certain set of rules. So, I had placed a bid. Some time later, the quotation period ended and the results was not announced. Another quotation was called immediately after. It was announced that there was some internal problems and the quotation had to be recalled. Suspicious eh?

Well, it was much later when I heard of the true situation as related by another supplier. The organisation or the people who had called for the quote was in cahoots with a certain supplier or friend. In the first instance, the favoured supplier learned to their dismay that it had not won. Instead, another supplier had won. (In one of the cases, I had the lowest prices.) So, the organisation voided that 'tender' and called for another citing 'internal problems' to ensure that its favoured supplier would win.

Injustice? This had happened a few times. I guessed this was not an uncommon means of doing business around here. These organisations were bound by certain rules due to their affiliation and they had found means to means to get around it. It would be close to impossible to gather proof. All there was was hearsay.

*Note that I am not naming any organisations or systems. They shall remain nameless. I will remain vague here.
Wow! It's already Thursday!

I ran a brisk 2 km before slowing for a slow jog last night.

I do need more exercise.

15 January 2008

Hmm.. I have been invited to a dialogue session with the Water Reclamation Department, Reticulation Division. This should be interesting.
A parking dispute between two tenants in the building threatened to blow up. Fortunately, it was settled in an amicable way.

It didn't help when one of the parties involved had a volatile person while the other had someone with an attitude.
Horrendous

It was a strange afternoon. The grey billowing clouds had cast a gloomy hue upon the urban landscape of faceless concrete structures and in the midst of the heavy, relentless sheets of falling rain, I saw a white police sub-compact and an ambulance outside. I was informed that a man, while running in the pouring rain, had hit his head against a section of a 20-foot container, opening a bloody gash.

14 January 2008

12 January 2008

I'm sleepy.

I have gotta write a letter to Japan and another one to Hyundai.

11 January 2008

10 January 2008

It's time for me to continue the AFV blog entries which I had ceased posting eleven months ago. Heh. Likewise, the sketches which I made last year.
Radioactivity, it's in the air for you and me!

It's been a while since I heard the Kraftwerk albums. I have pulled them all out and I am listening to them. 'Fun, fun, fun, on the autobahn...'
A Human Placeholder

I had been meaning to write about this. Two days ago, I was at UOB at Novena Square. I observed a maid in the long queue. I was curious. After half an hour of queuing, it was finally her turn. At that moment, her employer, an auntie in her 50s, who was sitting on a bench nearby (all that time) came and took her place. The little maid had become a human placeholder. I thought this was demeaning.

Do you think this is demeaning? Opinions?

09 January 2008

I will go seek out my good old Kraftwerk albums. German electronic music! WOO!
Power blackout at a level five corridor. Dealt with. Phew!

At work again. Typing out a new price list.

Price increases all round due to Chinese subsidies being removed last year under US pressure. Bravo.
Novus Café

When I was at the Novus Cafe last year, the food and service were alright. My sisters who were there recently this year had warned me of the poor service there but I had not heeded as my previous experiences were alright.

Last night, I went to the National Musuem to catch 'Radio On' which was slated to start at 7:30 pm. At 7:03 pm, I was at WA Café or Novus with my friends. We ordered drinks and ready-made food like a pie. Well, at 7:25 pm, the drinks which were bottled mineral water had come but nothing else. Oh dear. The bill was impossible. It was just not coming after 10 minutes or more. The situation there was a complete mess.

I doubt if I would ever be returning to this establishment again. These people, meaning the management, really would need to sort out their processes and make things work. I wouldn't blame the counter staff or service staff.

Meanwhile, the choices in the menu had shrunk. There were no longer much real food left apparently.
Radio On

Last night, I went to watch this classic 1979 road movie with a few friends. With a highly detached plot and unsympathetic characters, the starkness and sparseness, was accentuated by the deliberate choice of black and white film. However, this Chris Petit effort seemed to lack a certain something that will propel it to the ranks of a great.

There were symbols abound, possibly carefully placed. The initial message tagged on a wall, the opening of a package from the protagonist's brother containing three cassettes consisting of Kraftwerk's 'The Man Machine', 'Autobahn' and 'Trans Europe Express' albums which, perhaps, inadvertently signified the plot and progress of the entire film. The beginning which had the man and his automobile and had 'The Man Machine' album as a marker and the 'Uranium' and 'Radioactivity' played. The journey was symbolised by the quintessential automobile and road journey album 'Autobahn'. Lastly, the end journey where the protagonist took the train was symbolised by the Kraftwerk train journey album 'Trans Europe Express'. The end soundtrack was, of course, 'Ohm Sweet Ohm' by Kraftwerk, which was a technological 'pun' on 'Home Sweet Home' where the presumably, the protragonist took a train home. Perhaps, I was reading too much into this, perhaps, I wasn't.

The choice of these three cassettes could not have been randomly made, likewise the choice of having three Kraftwerk tracks in the soundtrack.

This film had featured a soundtrack with Kraftwerk's 'Uranium', 'Ohm Sweet Ohm' and 'Radioactivity' and David Bowie's 'Heroes' and a few more.
It also featured Sting, grinning like an idiot with a guitar in one of the scenes.
What fascinated me was the visuals of British physical landscape of 1979, which in my opinion had not changed much in many ways, the political landscape, which was heard in the protagonist's car radio, and the depiction of the people.

'Radio On' was an experience.

Addendum
I said 'hello' to JF when I saw him at the theatre last night. He left almost at once when the film ended. I also met another aquaintance from the film society.

07 January 2008

Only in Death

I'm reading the new Gaunt's Ghosts novel 'Only in Death'. So far, the story is highly promising! It is priced S$36.95 at Borders. With the 25% off coupon and another 10% for the card, and the 7% GST, it is S$26.69 for a hardcover. It's very affordable.

On a curious note, the cover on my book is different from the one depicted here. This image is from Amazon.com.

I also picked up another Warhammer 40,000 and a Warhammer Fantasy novel at Borders. The original price per volume is S$17.95. After discounts and GST, each book costs S$12.96. I can't argue with that kind of pricing.

Addendum

I finished 'Only in Death' just before midnight! WOO! Suspenseful. Atmospheric. Eerie.

06 January 2008

State of Progress: Mobile Weapon: Battle Stations

Trader Trader Oggg
Ship: Speed 295 (Destroyer)
Level: 52 (Exp: 6,582,516/6,703,900)
Craft: 70
Gunnery: 8
Navigation: 156
Stats Points: 0
HP: 9750/9750
Capacity: 1985/2000
Speed: 351 (+156)


I spent 298AP (+5, +5 for astrolabe). The encounter rate is supposedly 10%.

By right, I should have about 30 encounters. I have 28 encounters. Slightly less than the 10% average. Of the 28 encounters, my quarry got away in 2 encounters. I got sunk by the Hand of Death in one of them. Not a particular good xp haul tonight. Heh.

There were encounters with three new NPC ships. Nightwing Assassins, Sandstorm Raider, Royal Renegade. None of these are as powerful as the Hand of Death or Flying Fortress of Doom. However, some of the NPC ships are fast.
'The Omnivore's Dilemma' by Michael Pollan is a fascinating treatise on the nature of food. I recommend it.
I was at the New Building International 1927-2002 exhibition for the second time on Saturday. Interesting!

05 January 2008

Such a pleasant day. Blue skies and all.
There is an upside though. It's unrelated but it's still an upside. I signed for electricity in a fixed price contract at the end of last year. Guess what? The oil prices went up. The HSFO price at contract confirmation was USD491.70/MT. The current price level is about $513.84/MT. High Sulphur Fuel Oil. Whee!

I will probably head down to Borders this afternoon to pick up a few more volumes. I picked up 'A History of Histories' last night, some pulpy SF novel and an illustrated volume on Ancient Athens and Rome.
Troubleshooter

It seems like I am born to be a perennial troubleshooter. When there are fires to be put out, they get me.

Right now, I'm settling an accident thingie. Van hit some car or the other way round. No details at all. It happened a bit ago but no one told me till half an hour ago! Now, they want me to assist and I shall have to utilise my 'powerful mind-reading ability' again.

Oh well. I have a few days left before the deadline set by the other party's lawyers. Let's see what I can do.

I am usually called in to fight fires. Settle ugly incidents or businesses when it is sometimes far too late to resolve. Heh. In many previous jobs, I dealt with emergencies too.

04 January 2008

The creator of 'Flashman' has died

Alas!

I only read of George MacDonald Fraser's death today. I have only read the first of his very funny Flashman novels.

Of course, if one were familiar with 'Tom Brown's School Days' and some Victorian era history, the books can be immensely enjoyable.

02 January 2008

I am looking forward to purchasing and reading Daniel Dennett's tome 'Breaking the Spell' soon.

I read 'The Siege of Mecca' recently and it has been both instructive and indicative.

01 January 2008

I visited the National Museum this morning. I was home for lunch. I would liked to have visited the Istana grounds which would have been opened to the public today.