2008 music round-up

as you know, i am obsessed with music. i’ve even been taking guitar lessons for an embarrassing number of years! being a pop/rock star is still one of my goals, so needless to say, the studio here usually has music playing.

so here is a short list of what got played the most with a short review from me.

au revoire simone: reverse migration
not a new album from this adorable brooklyn based band, but rather a re-working with additional musicians/engineers. i actually like it when artists revisit old work and this is a very successful project in that vein. vocals between 60s folk pop and pop with signature electronica music.

MGMT: Oracular Spectacular and Time to Pretend
another nyc-band! i am visually in love with their lead singer...he is so cute! but more than that, MGMT brought a wonderful light to music this year with their cryptic yet optimistic lyrics and a sound so eclectic, it defies classification. i was hoping they’d break-through but the thinness of the vocals was never addressed on their re-release nor did they capitalize on how sexy they are...oh well...i’m not their manager.

Eugene McGuinness: Eugene McGuinness
a UK entry, eugene mcguinness sounds like a happy morrisey who enjoys sex. what more needs to be said? love this record!

the Presets: Apocalypso
hailing from australia, these neo bogans bring the delirious sound i like to call boganzatronica to the masses. seriously, as i said the first time i heard “the girl and the sea” from their 2006 release, the presets have mastered sophisticated song writing so lacking in electronic and pop acts. that doesn’t mean there aren’t silly meaningless club tracks here though...a very fun album.

School of Seven Bells: Alpinisms
nyc locals again, the school of seven bells are a pleasure to look at as well as listen 2. live, they are part of the small wave of new psychedelica – an amazing wall of sound from a 3-piece outfit – powerful music with powerful multi layered vocals. the album, being recorded in a studio has a different feeling, more accessible, pop, and pretty.

Black Devil Disco: 28 After and Disco Club
you can read all the legends about the french librarian who recorded as black devil disco in the 1970s and their current revival. all i can say is that i always applaud music that is both dark, sensuous and full of energy – yummmmmm!

Midnight Juggernauts: Dystopia
also from australia here is another band i can not get enough of. though lumped in electronica, i hear the potential for this band the expand their line-up and be the next arena rock star band like queen and r.e.o. speedwagon as they have a really big sound [and by big, i mean full of drama-potential]. also, they have injected sci-fi back into music which is right up my alley – so really, they're the sci-fi synth sweet in outer space...they should do a cover of love is like oxygen to test my theory.

Panda Bear: Person Bitch
this came out in 2007 but got lots of play in the studio in 2008. also, hard to put in a genre, their ethereal psychedelic sound is evocative of the 60s yet is somehow fresh, hypnotic and happy.

Hercules and love affair: Hercules and love affair
gosh, brooklyn produces a lot of great bands these past few years. i read reviews of this band as ‘the comeback of disco’ but really, their sound is more like the no-wave music of NYC from the early 1980s. it’s also pretty gay. a great album with something for everyone.

and if i can add one more:
portland's glass candy. i would describe as a porn soundtrack meets disco dollies in the back of a nyc taxi cab known for sloppy trannie blow jobs...this is your night time soundtrack – whatever you do.

only by Grace...

Grace, my new boss in my new job is SUPER SWEET! She just gave me her own brand new Microsoft Windows Live i-buddy. I told her she didn't have to and I could just take one later, but she told me this is an exclusive piece and we are not producing any more stocks next year. This morning, I just found the cute thingy on my desk! :) It works as a laptop or PC accessory that lights up whenever an IM buddy gets online and flaps its wings once you received a message on MSN. Microsoft rocks!

Because I wasn't able to give her anything for Christmas, I created a CD of songs for her as a New Year's present. It's a good thing her name is a virtue so thinking of a cover design was easy. Hehehhe.

When she received the cd, she went wow so many times and showed it to all our sales staff telling everyone how pretty the girl on the cover is. I'm so happy she liked my gift.
Wow, 2008 zoomed in quite fast! What a year indeed. I remember it was not long ago when I was just jotting down my faith goals, and now I need to come up with a new set this soon! Well, I had my share of highs and lows this year, but I am utterly grateful on how this year has turned out for me. I just want to share some of the most important highlights and blessings I received this year- only by Grace:

1. Mummy Ana Manzano & the rest of my cell group. I was waiting to be connected with a group in my previous churches here in Singapore but after a few months of seeking, I was still shepherd-less. One day, my best friend Danzen who is working for Proudly Filipina, told me that they featured Connie Reyes in their show, and after the shoot, Connie Reyes prayed for her! Then, I remembered that Connie Reyes goes to VCF. I went into its site and found out that it is a member of Every Nation Church. I clicked on the link and found Mummy's name in their online list of leaders. I got attracted to the name (also because it's very Filipino. yay!) Our group has really provided a lot of support and has helped me mature in my faith, develop a sense of divine perspective, and learn more of the things that truly matter. I just love being in fellowships with them.
2. Having met Marian Jarquin- American slash Taiwanese slash Nicaraguan babe and one my best friends in Singapore. We went through a tough time in our previous job, but looking back I am grateful that we were together for encouragement, companionship and prayer. She's now in California and I hope to visit her soon (or vice-versa). I'm going to miss having lunch with her and watching her eat the same thai fried rice every day because that's the only thing her picky tummy can bear.

3. Turned 25 this year! I believe I am becoming more and more responsible and discplined by the day. Uhm honestly, being 25 doesn't feel any different than being 21 or 23 or 24. But I notice that I have become wiser, increased my level of persistence, become more patient and yielding, and of course- have grown more beautiful! :-)

4. Shifted to our new flat! This place is nicer, less expensive and closer to the MRT & my workplace.

5. FREE swimming lessons with Coach Lingam @ NUS Campus. I was actually willing to pay a hundred bucks for a personal coach but this came as a blessing. Goodbye salbabida, hah!
6. My new, shiny pink Sony Vaio- the most expensive (monetary-wise) unexpected blessing I received. The story on this miracle is a whole new blog entry altogether. So thanks be to God whom we can never outgive.

7. Friday dinner dates with Nipsy. This year, Nips started to work with Unilever Singapore. From Unilever-Manila to SG, Nips has her own incredible testimony to share. :) I look forward to our upcoming dates, Nipso!

8. MBA Applications- finally came around to accomplishing this. It took me months to actually pysch myself to review for the gmat and take the whole mba frenzy seriously. I've been to a lot of mba tours and have received career advice from the experts, so I really feel that I'm on the right track. I'm really praying hard for a UBC-Sauder scholarship to land on my mailbox. Just believe!

Here's to a more exciting and brighter year ahead! I pray that you will be taken to greater heights in all aspects of your lives, dear friends. Let's 'fix our [future] thoughts on what is true and honorable, on what is right and pure, and lovely and admirable- things that are excellent and worthy of praise.' (Ph 4:8)

Blessed 2009, Everyone!
XOXO from Super hot & Sunny Singapura!


Singapore shares end year down 49.2% | Key dates in January '09 to look forward

STI closed the year 2008 at 1,761.56 which is 49.2% down from the previous year. Will the bloodshed continue to year 2009?

Some 'important' dates which may be influential to the market to take note: 20/01 & 22/01. From Asiaone, "Singapore shares end year down 49.2%":
It was the worst year on record, said Westcomb Securities, but the market could rebound in January as US president-elect Barack Obama takes office, on Jan 20, and Singapore unveils on Jan 22 a budget which the government says will be expansionary.

"The market could get a boost", one trader said.

'Cubik' by Jason Brenizer and Stefan Fanthome - In Production

I remember watching Stop Over at the 48 hour film competition in May. It was hilarious and definitely one of the films I rememebr. I am glad they are on to producing another one. This time under the Sinema Incubator programme. In fact, they even started a company after making 'Stop Over'.

Their company is Brenizer Fanthome Films and their website is http://www.brenizerfanthome.com/. It is nice when you hear nice-sounding surnames like these. We cant do the same. You get 'Huat Lee Films', or 'Ong Lim Films'. The name of their Incubator Film is CUBIK. It is a twenty-minute Action Suspense Film Noir that explores the often conflicting desires of living up to the expectations of family and following one’s own inner compass.

The film centers on Alex, a newly initiated member of her father’s criminal organization. After her first job to retrieve the prototype of a new weapon falls apart, Alex struggles to put all the pieces together to determine who in their organization is to blame. In a society built on secrets, Alex begins to wonder if she can even trust herself.

Jeremy(J): I saw your short film for 48 hours. It was one with very high production value with the flyer and the yacht and all. You seem to have topped that this time. Care to share what it's about?
Stefan (S) :- Jason and I are pathologically ambitious and believe in pushing ourselves to the limit - and then some - of our hopelessly scarce resources. We also believe very strongly in generosity of humankind - in other words we beg, beg, beg! In Stopover, in a period of about 20 hours we filmed at 9 locations including the Singapore Flyer, a Marina at Tuas and shop front at Changi Village. Cubik was less ambitious if you count in terms of production value burned through "per hour", but in 10 days of filming we shot at two beautiful Black and White bungalows, a huge warehouse in Sungei Kadut, a marina and yacht in Changi, a factory at Pandan Loop and at a very interesting house in Woking Road. We were fortunate to have the support of Eurosports Auto, Harley Davidson and Capt Warren Blake who loaned us a Lamborghini convertible, 2 Harley Road Kings, and $3million dollar Trimaran for the film respectively. So in a way we did top Stopover...! The expensive 'toys', of course were there only to enhance the story, not as gratuitious eye candy.

Cubik is about growing up, of coming to understand what it is you really want, and learning to be true to yourself. Alex is the only daughter of wealthy businessman - his business empire, though, goes beyond legitimate enterprise, and so she faces a life where the stakes of a wrong decision are very high - indeed could be life itself - as she learns when her first mission for the family goes badly wrong. Realising that someone is trying to destroy the family, she seeks to unravel the mystery before it is too late and in that process comes to understand what it really means to live the life she was born to. As she gets closer and closer to solving the mystery of the masked assassin, she realises that the larger puzzle she must solve is whether her path in life will necessarily follow that of her father's.

J: How long do you intend it to be?
S: The film is intended to be about 20 minutes long – but I think we are looking at a 22 – 24 minute film. We will keep it such that it fits within a half hour slot.

J: It would be interesting to know what kind of films you get inspired by
S: Wow – that's a biggie! Perhaps a quick list of films that blew me away would help – Casablanca, Citizen Kane, Matrix, Memento, Minority Report, Saving Private Ryan, Sixth Sense, Trainspotting… There are many more. My absolute #1, though is the sublimely poetic, poignant and gripping 'The English Patient'.
I admire filmmaking that leaves you with a "Rosebud" moment (Citizen Kane) – a moment that wraps up the whole experience, the whole story, in one breathtaking moment of brilliance, power and poetry. I hope one day we can make films like that. Orson Welles was 25 when he made Citizen Kane – it completely beggars belief!

J: Could you share a bit about where you come from and what intrigues you in Singapore that you wouold like to put into your films?
S: I grew up in Bhutan and India and came to Singapore back in 2000 for work – in another industry – and have been here ever since. I have heard many people complain about Singapore, but frankly I think they doth protest too much. I absolutely love the place. There is a LOT to Singapore if you would only explore. I have been here 8 years, and I am still finding out places that I'd never seen before. When Jason and I were scouting locations we found places that could be the jungles of Borneo, the gritty underworld Triad hang outs of HK, the shipyards of Busan, the bungalows of Farnborough… basically pretty much anywhere. Singapore has lot more than glass and steel skyscrapers and HDB blocks, and so there are a lot of stories that can be told. It is also inherently cosmopolitan and full of intriguing contrasts – which is always good for film.

J: Any interesting things happened during the production?
S: Other than constant minor heart attacks and associated near death experiences?! Well lets see – there was the driving in the Lamborghini, riding the Harleys and sailing the Yacht. Nothing terribly horrible went wrong, luckily so all the interesting suff is actually on film.

J: Any feature film ideas in mind currently?
S: Absolutely! In fact we have a few. We are focusing on making CUBIK the best film we can make – we will be looking to distribute it and have it shown as widely as possible not only in festivals but in theatres. Perhaps we can link up with other short films and get ourselves a proper film slot in a theatre. But once we have done this, we will be looking to make our next film a feature. Now that's ambitious, but it is a distinct possibility, and that's what we are aiming for! We might possible expand CUBIK itself.

Maia Lee: 'It was more of God's will that I discovered I was expecting my second child.'


I will never, ever understand women. Most of all, Maia Lee.

Anyway, congratulation for the birth of your second baby! My sincerest wish that you really are getting wiser as per your claim in your article, "Mothering Little One has made me wiser".

3 Rogues Employers involved in 'troubling' MOM because of their foreign workers' salary issue

The 3 companies are: Zhonghe Huaxing Development, China Nuclear Industry Huaxing Construction, and Xuyi Building Engineering Company. It seems to me there will be more such lousy employers doing the same trick. Keep on not paying the foreign workers' salary till they report this to MOM.

How many of these workers know about their rights after all?

The TODAY article, "Are these workers just the tip of the iceberg?" does not mention what action MOM took against the first 2 bad companies. Only Xuyi Building Engineering Company was quoted to be slapped with a warning. Yes, just a warning. C'mon, MOM...I'm sure you can implement a harsher punishment than that.

In what is becoming a familiar sight, a group of about 200 China national workers turned up at the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) yesterday morning to complain about unauthorised salary deductions and wages owed to them.

A group of 28 Bangladeshi workers have also filed similar complaints, claiming they had not been paid for the past four months.


Happily, for the 200 Chinese workers, a MOM spokesperson said late last night that the dispute had been “amicably” resolved – the employers yesterday banked in September’s wages into the workers’ accounts, and have pledged to make good on all arrears by the Chinese New Year, with the first instalment next week.

“The parties have also reached an understanding on other differences,” said the spokesperson.


Meanwhile, the Bangladeshis who had approached MOM yesterday claimed: they feared repatriation by their employer if they returned to their dormitory. The group of 28 have been sleeping along Desker Road for the past three nights.


In October and November, 42 PRC workers from Xuyi Building Engineering Company approached MOM to recover their salary arrears and resolve penalty payments. According to MOM, the company unilaterally cancelled the work permits of six claimants, without applying for Special Passes to allow them to remain here pending the settlement of their claims. The six would have thus flouted immigration laws, and could be jailed and fined.

“MOM takes a serious view of such conduct by the employer, which jeopardizes the conciliation process,” said a spokesman. The employer was warned for failing to pay its workers on time, and “its irresponsible conduct” of cancelling the permits.

In addendum: a similar problem concerning foreign workers' salary not being paid also happens in Malaysia. Latest news is even worse; take a look at the following excerpt.

Several employers have been accused of using the Immigration Department to "get rid" of their foreign workers to avoid paying salaries.

Human Resources Minister Datuk Dr S. Subramaniam claimed these employers acted as informants, tipping off the Immigration Department on their workers whose permits or visas had been cancelled.

This led to the workers being detained before being deported.

The minister said he knew of several cases, the latest in Johor.

He, however, declined to provide details.

"The employers did this simply because they did not want to pay their salaries or any backdated payments.

"They make these people work illegally and once their services are no longer needed, they get them arrested.

"This is cruel and unfair. It could also tarnish the country's image," Dr Subramaniam said at his ministry's Christmas and New Year gathering yesterday.

From Asione, "Bosses using dirty trick to get rid of foreign workers".

Update on 02/01/09
From The New Paper, "Firm's 'new wage structure' halves their pay":
Just a day after they turned out in full force at the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), hordes of China workers were there again yesterday.

The workers claimed that their complaints about their salaries being drastically reduced had yet to be settled with their employers.

Their other bone of contention was that their employers were taking too long to pay their outstanding wages from September onwards.

More than 100 workers from Zhonghe Huaxing Development and China Nuclear Industry Huaxing Construction Co showed up yesterday and crowded the main entrance of the MOM building at Havelock Road.

Update on 03/01/09
From Straits Times, "Workers' disputes resolved":
THE Ministry of Manpower (MOM) on Saturday said it has resolved the employment disputes involving over 200 workers from China and their employers.

The 224 workers, who had disputes with their employers, Zhonghe Huaxing Development and China Nuclear Industry Huaxing Construction, have accepted a settlement following MOM's intervention, the ministry said in a statement.

171 workers will continue working in Singapore,while the rest have decided to return to China.

Two workers have declined to accept the settlement and will have their claims adjudicated by the Labour Court, the ministry said.

The workers first approached MOM for help on Dec 30 over their employment disputes with their employers.

The key issues involved salary disputes from September to November 2008, and unhappiness with employers for attempting to revise certain employment terms.

All the very best of luck for the 2 workers for fighting for their rights in Court.

If I can hazard a guess, the court battle would be dragging till the workers come to their sense that they're losing more than the employers & eventually these 2 workers would just accept any not-to-be-disclosed-to-public kind of settlement.

Cheaper business loans...but for whom?

An entrepreneur who asked not to be named told The Straits Times: 'I think the Government should talk to [the banks] instead, because they are the ones holding back on us.

'Although my bank has not pulled back on my credit line, I can see that some of my suppliers and clients are already feeling the squeeze.'

From Straits Times, "Cheaper business loans".

More highlight about the latest initiative (Quoted from the same article):
New and existing loans will benefit from the cheaper rates - they have been cut by 1.25 percentage points - which kick in from tomorrow.

The Government also announced yesterday that it will increase its share of insurance premiums for loans, which will also cut costs for businesses.


The new measures have cut interest rates for key business financing schemes such as the Micro Loans, Bridging Loans and Local Enterprise Finance Scheme by 1.25 percentage points.

Rates for loan tenures of up to four years will be reduced from 6.25 to 5 per cent while those for above four years will fall from 6.75 to to 5.5 per cent.


The Government is also lifting its share of premiums under the Loan Insurance Scheme from 50 to 90 per cent.

Businesses now pay an insurance premium of 1.5 per cent of the loan quantum but from tomorrow, they need pay only 0.15 per cent, with the Government shouldering the rest.

Looks very appealing, doesn't it?

To start a business or not to start a business...that's always the damn question that I've avoided to answer.

See it's always so easy to come up with reasons why it's not going to work. Me choosing to start this post with the quote of how one entrepreneur's suppliers & clients having difficulty in securing a loan from a bank may just be a not-so-subconscious negative perception about me having my own business.

Damn, don't tell me that I'm actually enjoying this damn rat race?! =(

PS. Read also Channel NewsAsia, "Govt announces lower interest rate, loan premium to help SMEs manage costs".

Malaysia tak boleh: Sore for not invited, Malaysian authorities condemn rumoured 'sex party'

Some of my colleagues from Malaysia jokingly said it's because the authorities are not invited. Yeah, sure. Can imagine how that results to the public condemnation of the bare-all event. Or perhaps they're annoyed because it's just a rumour. Uncertainty does irk some people.

Malaysian authorities have condemned rumoured plans for a New Year's Eve sex party at a remote beach, while police warned the "no-underwear" event could be a con job.

Newspaper reports said the party for the under-40s, to be held in southern Johor state bordering Singapore, was being advertised through a website that asked for 250 ringgit (72 dollars) as an entrance fee.

From Yahoo, "Malaysian authorities condemn rumoured 'sex party'".

Year in Review 2008: Top 10 Movies (Let the Right One In, Slumdog Millionaire)

Presenting Top 10 Movies compiled by MSN Movies Contributors. Well, the list is subjective. It's quite a shame, though, that out of the so-called Top 10 Movies, I only managed to watch one i.e. The Dark Knight.

Anyway, here are the Top 10 Movies:
10."Slumdog Millionaire"
9. "Wendy and Lucy"
8. "WALL-E"
7. "Pineapple Express"
6. "The Dark Knight"
5. "Let the Right One In"
4. "The Edge of Heaven"
3. "In Bruges"
2. "The Wrestler"
1. "A Christmas Tale"

Reading their description, I find my self interested in catching no.5, "Let the Right One In":

There is something both chilling and world-weary in the eyes of Eli (Lina Leandersson), the 200-year-old vampire trapped in the body of a 12-year-old girl in director Tomas Alfredson's haunting "Let the Right One In." Embedded in her gaze are both a familiar ache of loneliness and the impenetrable wisdom of a being almost beyond human comprehension. The tension between the known and the unknown has always been at the center of every great horror film, and now this Swedish import can be added to that esteemed list.

It's been a rough couple of years for fans of the genre, but a film like this -- about Eli's budding relationship with a forlorn, alienated little boy (Kare Hedebrant) in a bleak suburban development, set in the dead of winter -- reminds us why it's still so viable. Simultaneously moving, frightening and poetic, "Let the Right One In" and its two astonishing young stars (neither of whom have appeared in a feature film before) stay with you long after all the bloodbaths and remakes that Hollywood churns out.

Forget "Twilight"; this is a vampire love story for the ages. -- Don Kaye

Also tempted to watch--this perhaps because I've read the novel by Vikas Swarup from which it's adapted, "Q&A"--is no. 10, "Slumdog Millionaire":

Danny Boyle's big, sprawling, movie-mad spectacular mashup film brings in everything from Bollywood to British TV, from Charles Dickens to Thomas Friedman. Poor, striving "slumdog" Jamal is this close to winning it all on India's version of "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?" when the cops take him in to beat the "How are you cheating?" out of him. But he's not cheating. He explains how he's been winning, with stories from his life that illuminate how he knew the right answer to every question.

Dev Patel's performance as the steadfast, noble Jamal gives Boyle's pulsing, pounding film a true and beating heart. Some knock "Slumdog" as cultural condescension, but Boyle's portrait of Mumbai is half love letter and half critique; Boyle shows us the love and life on the streets but also the crime and chaos. With the romantic story curves of classic literature, it feels delightfully classic; with its multicultural, globalized speed and rhythm, it feels fiercely present.

The film tells us something we already know: Love conquers all, maybe, but there are plenty of things for love to conquer: hate, greed, loss, injustice, cruelty. "Slumdog Millionaire" has one of the happiest endings of the year, sure, but what makes it great is how Boyle and his actors earn it. -- James Rocchi

Will 'rubymei' be kicked out from Ping.sg for excessive advertisements?

Just wondering out aloud. =P And I swear I have nothing against jewelry.

Our 'experts' advise on how to make money in 2009--yes, HOW?!

10 prominent figures sharing their thoughts on how to make money in 2009. It makes an interesting reading when they openly answer what the best thing happened to them financially. And the worst thing as well.

Here are the 10 experts featured:
-Mr Jim Rogers, Singapore-based American investor, author of A Bull In China: Investing Profitably In The World's Greatest Market, and creator of the Rogers International Commodities Index
-Mr Ben Fok, chief executive of Grandtag Financial Consultancy
-Mr Mohamed Ismail, PropNex chief executive
-Mr Gabriel Yap, senior dealing director with DMG & Partners Securities
-Mr Loh Hoon Sun, managing director of Phillip Securities
-Ms Sulian Tan-Wijaya, senior director of retail and lifestyle at Savills Singapore
-Mr Vasu Menon, vice- president of group wealth management at OCBC Bank
-Professor Annie Koh, associate dean, Lee Kong Chian School of Business, Singapore Management University
-Mr Christopher Tan, chairman and chief executive of wealth management firm Providend
-Mr Shaun Meadows, chief executive of Aviva Singapore, Hong Kong and the Middle East

Read their thoughts in Asiaone, "How to make money in 2009".

thank you

i have two posts i want to get up before new year's eve, one being this one, and the other my year end music review.

creating nooka has been the most engaging and satisfying experience of my life – i wish i had made the decision to produce my own products years ago! unlike a large brand, i still have a personal connection to what i produce and truly see each product as a personal ambassador going out into the world. there are still many challenges ahead, especially trying to get new product lines launched in this challenging environment without any access to credit and financing, but i've done that before – so as always, cautious and optimistic for 2009 and beyond!

as with any complex process, i would not be here writing this without the support of others, and for this i am always grateful. and here is a short list of people who have channeled, championed, promoted, understood, supported, reflected me and nooka with such honest and enthusiastic authenticity that i can only start by saying "THANK YOU!"

matthew cohen and joe chang of the raw information group for keeping the press focused on nooka. this is great validation for a small brand that can not yet afford a national ad campaign and something i appreciate daily.

kanye west for being the only style icon in the public eye worth watching – your journey is truly inspiring!

javier laval for keeping us hip in L.A.

ddc lab and their wonderful staff for including us in all they do as well as giving nooka the only retail space to carry ALL our lines at once – thank you savania, roberto and brad!

MoMA for being a constant supporter from the very start. I can not think of a more cordial process driven organization of this size and magnitude that truly supports emerging talent with a commitment to product design.

everyone at elsewares for being constant supporters from the beginning of this journey.

daiki suzuki of nepenthes for being my first mentor to the fashion world. i do not think he realizes how helpful his advise and introductions were for me to get the nooka ball rolling 5 years ago!

united arrows for being a major brand champion for us in japan which opened many doors for us in japan and moreover, asia!

eugene kan of hypebeast for being such a great supporter!

yu yamada for making japan our 2nd biggest market after the USA.

alexander allen for his keen eye, enthusiasm and talent.

michael surtees of designotes for putting an articulate designer-lingo voice to me, nooka and my process.

tina roth for just being tina roth/swiss miss – you inspire me.

missy and sam of ghostly records for being so inclusive and supportive. it's so important to have friends with similar sized struggles and triumphs!

anya mills of poptags for her support of nooka from its inception in the late 90s on a napkin!

lil wayne for rocking the nooka on national TV more than once [and for producing truly complex music in a sometimes banal music scene].

fall out boy also for rocking the nooka on national tv. also thanks for the rockband your manager sent the studio!

erykah badu for being the most beautiful canvas i've seen a nooka on last year.

mark graham of i love dust in the UK – simply "wow, thanks!"

steve heller of SVA and the new york times for always being an accessible giant.

todd owyoung of ishootshows for always letting me know when there's a nooka sighting in a live music show or event – you truly rock!

miho hatori for reminding me of the art and inspiration i put in my work but had forgotten.

claude cohen in france for championing nooka in france, a market i was ready to give up on 2 years ago! merci bien!

josh spears for your great eye and words.

alicia in spain, magnus in sweden, falko and ben in germania, roberto in italia, stephen and maz in the UK, and viktor in hungary for helping to make nooka an established brand in europe. i'm excited for 2009!

jonathan winer for putting nooka on the map in israel.

adnan of wristfashion in dubai for not only giving us a foot in the arab world, but also being such a constant and articulate supporter from my first designs way back when it was an ignored license at seiko!

allan ho for championing not just nooka, but me as a designer in HK. when's my next interview?

raoul and marleen in the nederlands for rocking the tulip empire for us!

my staff in new york, tokyo and our one man crew in HK [eddie] for untiring enthusiasm.

william yan – keep up the tireless blogging!

carrie campbell for being our eyes and ears (and moreover, legs, arms and mouth) from the mississippi to maine – i don't know how you do it!

my friend edward enrique of the taf buying office for his advise and company for our executive lunch meeting!

joost elffers of elffers books for being an incredible mentor.

everyone who has bought a nooka and especially the fans who took the time to send me an email.

and this is by no means a complete list, so feel free to nudge me if i left anyone out [i wrote this BEFORE the benefit of a cup of coffee].

much love to everyone in 2009!

A selection of WEIRD and wonderful(?) stories from 2008

These ought to be the weirdest among 'em all.

- A British woman who celebrated her 105th birthday said the secret to long life was celibacy. Sex was a "lot of hassle," she opined.

- A Cambodian couple seeking a divorce were stumped by their country's convoluted legal processes. They sawed their house in half.

- "Cooking with Balls" was the subtitle of what a Serbian chef promoted as the world's first book on testicle recipes. "All testicles can be eaten -- except human, of course," said the (male) author.

More in "Two thousand and strange: offbeat stories of the year".

PS. If I can't find the references in the Net, I might not have believed the news. Like the article: "No sex is secret to long life, says 105-year-old Clara, Britain's oldest virgin", "Married Cambodian couple saw home in half after separation", and "Cooking with balls: the world's first testicle cookbook".

adoptions & flea mania

our four kittens have found new homes. one extraordinary family even took in the two whose eyes are a mess and will keep them even if they never fully recover. that is the kind of news that restores our faith in Christmas.

more festive news: FleaMania is organising a pre-CNY flea market where stall rental proceeds will go towards Pawpledge's stray cat sterilisation and care fund. do drop by if you are free to chat, to chill and to rummage!

Saturday, 17 January 2009 10am - 5pm
Sculpture Square, 155 Middle Road (Outside My Secret Garden)

Cat Welfare Society, House Rabbit Society of Singapore and the NTU Cat Cafe will also be joining Pawpledge there. so will our woman and she is bringing 2 kittens from ah ma's place along. besides clean comfy new homes, they need all the hugs and kisses they can get!

come visit them on the 17th!

British Council Event in Tiong Bahru

In a special 2-part, 2-day event, join artists from Singapore and the UK to discuss their contrasting experiences of creating artworks inspired by, and in collaboration with, communities.

The event includes a screening of CIVIC LIFE, a groundbreaking series of community based film, shot on 35 mm, by UK based artists/filmmakers Joe Lawlor and Christine Molloy.

CIVIC LIFE (Rating tba), 72 mins
Followed by Q&A with Joe Lawlor and Christine Molloy
SATURDAY, 3rd January 10.30 am ¨C 12.30 pm, Golden Village, Tiong Bahru

Christine Molloy and Joe Lawlor (desperate optimists) embarked on the 'Civic Life' series in Jul 2003 and have since created a unique and richly cinematic series of short films that capture different places and communities in a single, daring take. Working with 35mm equipment, complex film rigs and environments, not to mention hundreds of extras and a propensity for working with both children and animals, they have generated a body of work made in negotiation with local residents and community groups that is both theatrical and deeply cinematic, experimental and highly accessible.

SUNDAY 4th January 2.00 pm ¨C 5.30 pm Sinema at Old School

A forum about artists working with people and places.The label 'Community Art' hardly begins to describe the exciting range and breadth of artistic activities that have been created by artists in collaboration with groups of people, often drawing inspiration from the places and spaces where they live, work and play. The meeting between people who belong to communities with artists from outside, is usually a delicate process of negotiation and expectation-management. The experience of facilitation, sharing, discussion, agreement and conflict, all play a crucial part in the 'final' artworks, which often defy easy categorisation.

Framing Communities brings together a diverse line-up of speakers to discuss their contrasting experiences of creating artworks that involve 'ordinary' people. The artists come from various backgrounds and work in multiple media, including film, video art, theatre and photography. Their projects all take very different approaches to working with communities, but each of them are linked by their interest in urban spaces, art as a collaborative event, and the process of discovery and inspiration sparked by the coming-together of strangers and friends.

The aim of this forum is to discover more about the practice and process of creating unusual and unique community art projects; to explore how artworks of this kind function as both process and product, and how they are valuable for urban communities and spaces, and the artists themselves.

Moderated by Ben Slater


Shannon Castleman (Singapore/US). An artist whose work has been concerned with urban environments. Her recent video installation, Jurong West St. 81, is an ambitious, large-scale collaboration with the inhabitants of two HDB blocks in Jurong.

Jing Quek (Singapore). A photographer known for his humorous and distinctive group images of various communities and 'tribes' within Singapore. www.superhyperreal.com

Joe Lawlor (UK). Along with partner Christine Molloy, Joe directed the 'Civic Life' series, in which they work with specific urban spaces and the people that use those spaces to create richly cinematic films, shot on 35mm, and designed to be shown in cinemas.www.desperateoptimists.com

Kok Heng Leun (Singapore). Artistic director of theatre company Dramabox, who have conducted many community theatre and performance projects, including pioneering work in the area of 'Forum Theatre', an open form that allows for audience intervention and participation.www.dramabox.org

Entry is free but pre-registration is required.
Please note that as space is limited, PLEASE ONLY REGISTER if you are sure you can attend.

To register for the Saturday screening, email ker.layhong@britishcouncil.org.sg, citing CIVIC in the subject line.

To register for the Sunday symposium, email ker.layhong@britishcouncil.org.sg, citing FRAMING in the subject line.

Tiong Bahru Estate Re-Painting Exercise Updates

Kelvin Ang has just updated the Tiong Bahru Residents via the email network on the status of the Re-Painitng Exercise.

Find out more from the Tiong Bahru Heritage Club's blog.

If you care about Tiong Bahru and has yet to register yourself into the email network, pop an email over the Kelvin Ang and you will never miss out on any important announcements.

Scatter my ashes at Tiong Bahru Park

The New Paper
30th December 2008

RESTING PLACE: Mr Kit Lam keeps Mr Lawson's ashes at his Tiong Bahru home.

Retired US lawyer's last wish:
Scatter my ashes at Tiong Bahru Park

HIS last request - to have his ashes scattered in Tiong Bahru Park.

Those were the instructions of a 76-year-old American who had grown to love Singapore since his first visit in 1993, reported Shin Min Daily News.

Retired lawyer Paul Lawson had even developed a passion for durians and nonya food.

He first met Singaporean Kit Lam, a 51-year-old manager, at a party in San Francisco 16 years ago. They hit it off immediately.

At that time, the American had never heard of Singapore and had never visited Asia.

In 1993, he visited Mr Lam here. He liked it so much that he returned every year, staying at Mr Lam's home each time.

Mr Lam lives near Tiong Bahru Park, and Mr Lawson would go for morning walks there, even making friends with other park goers.

Then Mr Lawson was struck down by cancer earlier this year and underwent two operations.

He eventually lapsed into a week-long coma before dying on 2Jul.

Mr Lawson's family sent his ashes to Singapore, following his instructions. But he could not have his park wish fulfilled.

The National Environment Agency website states that after cremation, 'the ashes of the deceased can be stored at home or in a columbarium'.

The ashes can also be scattered at sea, 'at the designated site located about 1.5nautical miles (2.8km) south of Pulau Semakau', off the main island of Singapore.

So Mr Lam decided to place them in his home in Tiong Bahru.

Last Saturday, Mr Lam also hosted a farewell gathering for MrLawson.

Mr Lam said: 'I believe that Paul wouldn't want a tearful goodbye. He'd want us to remember him with a smile on our faces.'

Copyright © 2005 Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Co. Regn. No. 198402868E. All rights reserved.Privacy Statement and Conditions of Access

Free Public Transport: Singapore zal nooit meer hetzelfde zijn?

Sorry, can't resist the re-use of the slogan "Hasselt zal nooit meer hetzelfde zijn" or in English, "Hasselt will never be the same". Being the first city in Belgium--and in fact, in the world--to implement a zero-fare public transport system since 01 July 1997, many in Singapore may wish to have such a system practised here.

I have my doubt, though.

If such a free-of-charge transport does work, why it is only practised in only one city out of so many cities in Belgium?

Singapore Transport Minister Raymond Lim once revealed that it would take a further 1.5 percentage point hike in GST if bus and train rides were to be made completely free. That means Goods & Services Tax (GST) of 8.5%.

So I wonder how much taxation in Belgium. A quick check in the Net leads me to this site, EXPATICA.com "Taxation in Belgium" & let me quote:
Most goods and services are taxed at 21% with a lower rate of 6% applying to necessities such as food and transport, and for the time being to certain home renovations though this is under close scrutiny.

Uh-huh...Indeed, with a great transport system comes a great deal of money to pay! Imagine the rest of Belgium citizens--and they are not necessarily residing in Hasselt--paying such a ridiculously high tax of 21% for their goods & servises. No, thank you!

Knowing all this I'd say in the end: let the GST here in Singapore stay at 7%. Let the usual complaints & grumbles spread in the Net about how public transport like SMRT has operating profit for the year 2008 as much as S$178.0 million--an increase from S$145.3 million from the previous year.

Let people gripe.

As long as the GST here won't be hiked up--just to prove that GST 8.5% would be sufficient to finance the free tansport. (As if the shareholders of the public transport company will approve that idea! From a shareholder's point of view, that is very likely to be interpreted as a stagnant profit over the years)

In any case, there's always a choice to cycle. Or walk. And both are surely healthier and cheaper.

"What are you doing here?": man asks wife at brothel

Heck, the wife should have asked him the same question!
A Polish man got the shock of his life when he visited a brothel and spotted his wife among the establishment's employees.

A complete story here.

Jonathan Nolan's short story, "Memento Mori"

In my desperation to get the DVD "Memento", I came across this site which has a short story, "Memento Mori". A quick glance on the fiction written by Jonathan Nolan, I feel more compelled to find the movie. Any suggestion?

Yes, "Ip Man"!! (The movie that brings handclaps in the cinema | Why Li Chiu is my favourite character)

Perhaps deep down we all are Chinese. Either that or we just simply hate bullies.

Haha. I love how to hear the audience were clapping during the screening of Ip Man. Can't remember when last I witness such an interaction from audience.

There are a lot of memorable characters in the movie; one I do have to praise openly: the character Li Chiu by Lam Ka-tung.

At first this Li Chiu gives me a bad impression with he as a police officer irresponsibly pointing a gun to Ip Man in the tavern after one commotion between Ip Man & one Master Liu (the latter insists Ip Man to clear his name that he's not defeated in a friendly closed-door duel earlier).

Much later, during the Japanese occupation, Li Chiu apparently works for the Japanese army as a translator. Dressed nice & clean & looking healthy & well-fed, in contrast to the rest of the suffering Chinese--he is easily despised not just by Chinese but also by the audience. However further in the show, it is shown that he just has to be "a Japanese's lackey" to bring home a decent meal for his old mother & family. He earns my sympathy.

He too in a few occasions, helps Ip Man. When Ip Man easily defeats the three Japanese soldiers who visit him (one of whom, by the way, lecherously approaches Ip Man's wife), Li Chiu secretly hides him & his family despite the risk of being found out by the Japanese. This act earns him a few beatings, but he endures it well to be able to bring home that decent meal to his family.

And before the duel between General Miura & Ip Man, he translates rightly the warning that Ip Man will be killed if he's not to lose against the Japanese general.

Spoiler alert: the general is defeated in the end. (I'm not sure if he's killed, though). And the other Japanese (the only one bad guy in the movie actually) attempts to shoot Ip Man. The bullet fails to kill him as Li Chiu manages to push the Japanese & during the wrestle of the weapon, Li Chiu successfully shoots the baddie.

Home Alone on Christmas Eve!

This is my first time to spend Christmas away from my family. Since moving in here in Singapore, I've been doing quite a lot of things on my own, but I occasionally fly back home for special events- holidays, weddings, and the like, but this time I couldn't afford it and I didn't want to. Surprisingly, I don't feel sad at all. In fact, I feel contentment, joy and blessings overflowing in my life. God is just amazing; He has always been.

A month ago, I lost my job. I didn't even think that I would have a very merry Christmas. Back then, everything didn't matter so long as I found a job to cover the next month's rent. But now, God has placed me in a company of generous, cheerful, pleasant, and lovely co-workers! They gave me gifts and encouragement as if I were working with them for a long time. I could have been hired by the other companies I previously applied to, but God has other plans and He indeeed has a reason for everything. After all, He does all things well :)

Right now, I'm watching Love Actually (for the 3rd time I think). It is one of my favorite feel-good holiday movies. I'm waiting for my housemates to arrive from work so we can all feast together. But I'm savoring this wondrous feeling that is a blessing in itself- solitude. The rain has just stopped and I can sense the dampness of the chilly air blowing from my window. The grey clouds are still and the sun is beginning to light up the horizon though not as harsh as on a sunny day.

Allow me to bask in all this- the quiet holiday break, piles of dark chocolates from friends, a good book on my bedside table, the pleasantly cold weather, sunlight from my windowpane, singlehood and independence, and the opportunities to celebrate the ongoing works of Jesus in my life.

"40 Inspirational Speeches in 2 Minutes"

Check out the Yahoo! video clip, "40 Inspirational Speeches in 2 Minutes". Originally from the site, "overthinkingit.com" from this particular post, "40 Inspirational Speeches in 2 Minutes". The speeches are cut here & there from those of the movies'. Can't really name all of them.

Year in Review 2008: The Year in TV

Out of the 22 entries from MSN Year in Review 2008 "Memorable TV Moments", one includes "South Park rapes Indy". I won't include the screen-shot of such a NSFW image.

Also quoted in that particular article:
After the kids of South Park feel duped by George Lucas and Steven Spielberg's latest "Indiana Jones" film, they have a series of dreams in which the filmmakers deflower Harrison Ford in a variety of manners that parody famous movie rape scenes like "Deliverance" and "The Accused." (Comedy Central)

Experts: Goof off at work, read a book, ignore e-mail

Let me clarify first that this is NOT a spoof news. You've got to read this CNN article about how some surprising work habits helped workers achieve their goals. I'm particularly amazed about the point no.7 "Lower your standards" can be beneficial to the company. Heh.

JI Fugitive Mas Selamat Bin Kastari earns an advertisement income from a banner for one Toa Payoh shop?!

Really, whoever comes up with an idea has some knowledge about advertising. Can't wait to read the guy to be slapped with some fine. Heh. Apparently he's done the same trick last time with the image of President S R Nathan!

For almost a week now, residents in Toa Payoh have been wondering about a big banner outside a shop front.

The banner - about 2m long and 1.5m wide - features the photo of escaped detainee Mas Selamat Bin Kastari with his full name.

The banner has been hung outside an unopened store, with no sign, on the ground floor of Block 69, near Toa Payoh Lorong 4 and Toa Payoh East.

Who put it up, and why?

No one really knows.

But one resident claimed he saw a man put up the banner last week.

The resident, a security guard in his 50s who only wanted to be known as Mr Singh, said he asked the man why he did that, and the man replied: 'This man is wanted, that's why I put it there.'

Mas Selamat escaped from the Whitley Road Detention Centre in February, sparking a massive manhunt.

Mr Singh, who has been living on the 12thstorey of Block 69 for about 40 years, said he first spotted the banner last Wednesday night.

He also claimed he saw the man sleeping on the window sill at the second storey of the shophouse.

The banner, which hangs just below the window, has created a buzz among residents, and not necessarily in a good way.

Mr K Nagandran, 39, who is unemployed, said: 'If you put up his poster, everybody will think he is here.

'Our reputation as Toa Payoh residents will be ruined.'


Another resident in her 50s, who is unemployed and wanted to be known only as Joyce, said the poster was provocative.

'I feel threatened and distressed. Who is he (the man who put it up) trying to provoke?'

And it appears it is not the first time the man has been in the news.

Lianhe Wanbao reported how, last July, he had allegedly used an image of President S R Nathan on a banner while promoting shampoo outside a shop in MacPherson.

The report said he had a big table in front of the store with about 10 bottles of shampoo.

But when asked if he had permission to use the image, he allegedly replied: 'This is a confidential matter.'

Until early November this year, the Toa Payoh shop used to be a provision shop run by an elderly woman.

Several residents in the area said that the new shop will sell antique furniture.

The police, who were alerted to the banner, referred the matter to the Bishan-Toa Payoh Town Council.

Banner removed

The banner was removed yesterday afternoon.

Criminal lawyer Edmond Pereira said the relevant authorities have the right to remove any banner which is offensive to the general public.

He said: 'The question is whether the figure is offending. Mas Selamat is a wanted person, and the banner might be interpreted to be glamorising him.

'The authorities should be the ones publicising himas a wanted person, (and that is all done) in the relevant places.' --TNP

From Asiaone, "Who put up this giant banner?"

Crazy Al Cayne: South Park "I'm Skeemin"(A Christmas Parody Song of "I'm Dreaming Of A White Christmas")

I just have to have the above screen-shot of the Youtube Christmas parody song, "I'm Skeemin". Cute, just South Park-like. The video clip here.

More info from Youtube:
This song is off of Crazy Al Cayne's mixtape Greatest Skits Vol#3:Ghetto Christmas Carols. The characters in this video where created on the Sp-Studio.de website.

Check out as well Crazy Al Cayne's channel at crazyalcayne. So far he has 10 parody songs. Heh.

3 graphical Quotes of the Day (AFF Suzuki Cup semifinal loss, Singapore Flyer faulty, Junk mails)

“I saw a Singapore fan running into the Vietnamese crowd with a flying kick, causing the Vietnamese man’s face to bleed. This is really stupid, we should learn to lose graciously.”

From Channel NewsAsia, "AFF Suzuki Cup: Local fans’ unsporting rampage".

A banker from New Zealand, who gave his name only as S.W., rushed to the Singapore Flyer an hour after his fellow New Zealander sent him a text message to say she was stuck. Both kept in touch via SMS as her cellphone was running low on battery.

After four hours of being trapped, she sent him an irritated SMS which read: 'The music over the PA system is driving me crazy.'

From Straits Times, "Harrowing rope rescue".

To me, receiving junk mail is akin to loan sharks splashing paint on my door.

From Today, "Flying into a junk-mail rage".

Could have been the most stupid of those FAIL pranks!

Received one email--screenshot below--from Compensation Head Office, Mrs. Helen Chops (Feel free to spam him/her/it at helenchops@yahoo.com). Basically it's about me is requested by her to contact her secretary, Mr. Sam Brown (Also feel free to spam him/her/it at sam.brown.1001@hotmail.com) so that the check for my share of winning fund $500,000.00 can be sent to me. Wonderful, isn't it?

No, it isn't. Never mind it's surely a failed attempt at igniting my Greed. My logic just refuses to accept that I am the one who is supposed to contact someone else's secretary?! Unacceptable...

The Case on The Vanishing Taxis: Solved!!

Yup, I found the taxis. So, gotta catch 'em all?! Nah, I mostly swear myself not to ever use a taxi unless the circumstances dictate (Read: during emergency only la...). On another note: I don't even think it's legal to have those taxis making such a long line taking all the space of the road. Anyway, who cares?!

Darn hilariously sarcastic: Gallery of Unfortunate Christmas Cards

Haha. You've just to check this Gallery of Unfortunate Chirstmas Cards out as well as their often-literal explanations.

I especially like the card no.1's:
There's nothing that sums up Christmas quite like the eyes of an excited child... unless those eyes are strange black holes with pin-point lights shining from them and set way too far apart. If this were my daughter, I'd be asking the wife if she remembers any strange lights taking her into the sky about nine months before the little one's birth.

Card no.5's annotation is hilarious too:
First reaction: Oh, what a sweet little girl. Isn't she cute with her little pig tails and her dolly?
And her wings?


And she's on a little cloud.

Oh dear.

It hits: Oh my God, this little girl is dead!

I know this is the theme of this whole section, but here I must reiterate: Who, in their right mind, would send out Christmas cards with a picture of a little dead girl!?!

Cards no.2 & no.8 have nicely been linked with that stick of Santa's. Hehe.
Card no.2:
Look, kids! It's Jolly Ol' St. Nick! Only, Santa isn't really looking so jolly here, is he? In fact, he looks downright angry. Sure, he's lost all that weight, but he's not the "Ho Ho Ho" kind of guy he used to be. He's also taken to carrying a stick everywhere he goes. The elves are nervous.

And the sequel at Card no.8:
Oh, you'd better get down on your knees and pray, all right. You're supposed to be in bed! Santa doesn't like little boys sneaking around while he's working.
And he's still got that stick.

But look at Santa's eyes. He sees the chid's fear and wonders, "What have I become?"

The Online Citizen...suspended?!

Trying to visit the site, "The Online Citizen" leads me to this page saying that it "has been disabled" (screenshot below). Pity that it doesn't mention any reason why. Sure will love to make fun if it's due to someone forgets to renew the site domain. Honest mistakes do happen. Heh.

12 Storeys--a book, not a movie review

Who haven't heard of the movie, 12 Storeys directed by Eric Khoo? That film won him the Federation of International Film Critics (FIPRESCI) Award, the UOB Young Cinema Award at the 10th Singapore International Film Festival, and the Golden Maile Award for Best Picture at the 17th Hawaii International Films Festival. 12 Storeys was also the first Singapore film to be invited to take part in the Cannes Film Festival. (Soure: Wikipedia entry on Eric Khoo)

It's a shame that I didn't manage to catch the show.

Finding the book, "12 Storeys" in a library was enough a consolation. Here I finally know what the story is all about. Reading the book is a breeze.

James Toh--who was also a co-writer for the movie--writes the book in such a familiar way with topics which Singaporeans find familiar: a lonely overweight lady living a sad life haunted by verbal abuses from her dead adopted mother, a Singaporean successful noodle-hawker struggling in his marriage with a China wife, and an older brother playing a role of parents to his promiscous younger sister & rebellious brother.

These 3 unrelated issues share a common that they all happen in one 12-storey HDB & within a time span of 1 day. They're witnessed by a ghost of a man who in the beginning of the story committed suicide (it's not really clear why, but it has to do with his medical reports).

Thus the interesting way of telling the story: the ghost uses a "First Person point of view" as he narrates about what happens to himself whereas the rest of the characters are written using "Third Person Omniscient" perspective. By using such a style, readers are able to read the thoughts & feelings of the characters.

I hope "12 Storeys" won't be the only "Screen-to-Print" book from Eric Khoo's movies. Let's have his other films, "Mee Pok Man", "Be With Me" & "My Magic" out in the bookstores soon. Heh.

seeking production advice

i need help. here is a design we came up with for a nooka sign to use at shows and parties. each single letter should be about 15 inches [38 cm] wide based on the 'N'. the quotes we're getting involve building each letter like a box from acrylic which i do not feel will ship well at all. any ideas? thank you in advance!

nooka sightings: chad beatz

chad beatz is a rap/pop/r&b producer who is also an ardent supporter of nooka. i love this foto of him wearing a nooka zen-h!

buy the same nooka watch here.

nooka press: stuff france

pretty cool full page coverage of the nooka glow in the dark [gitd] zub in the french edition of STUFF magazine. mercĂ­ claude!

it is interesting that they gave it a full page but only a 3-star rating...i'm not complaining.

'Ojek' (motorcycle taxi) drivers uses internet to move into fast lane

At busy intersections, housing complexes or outside shopping centers in Jakarta, one often sees men, of various ages, dressed in worn-out shirts, sitting on motorcycles and waving their hands at any pedestrian that walks by.

They are ojek (motorcycle taxi) drivers, and when they ride, most of them will use whatever means possible to get to the destination as fast as possible.

But an ojek driver in Bintaro, South Jakarta, named Arman looks and operates in style.

He dons a dark blue jackets, wears purple shades, sports polished leather shoes and drives carefully. Unlike most ojek drivers, Arman offers his services through an Internet blog where visitors can find his contact number.

Before becoming an ojek driver, Arman worked as a telephone operator and an office boy for a company in Jakarta. The company terminated his contract a year ago.

He was 32, had no job and only a motorcycle in his possession. Not wanting to rely on anyone and facing difficulties job-hunting, the high school graduate decided to become an ojek driver.

Many Jakartans use ojek for fast transportation through the congested metropolitan streets. He saw that the market for the service was always available, but he also knew that competition was stiff.

During the first few months, like many other ojek drivers, Arman decided to wait for passengers at one of the ojek terminals near his home in Bintaro, but he faced bullying from senior ojek drivers there because he was new to the profession.

"I felt isolated. So I moved away from the terminal and just looked for customers near my home," Arman told The Jakarta Post on Tuesday.

With only two or three customers each day, the single man found it difficult to support himself. Arman knew if he returned to the terminal he would have to face more bullying. The situation forced him to find other means to promote his services and he tried the Internet.

"I posted a small classified ad on a free advertising websites on the Internet. I was just giving it a try, turned out I had three calls from customers," he said

One of his first customers, Handono, works as an IT consultant. He found Arman's classified while searching for ojek driver services in the Bintaro area using Google three weeks ago.

"My motorcycle was down. The nearest ojek terminal from my home is a kilometer away. I tried my luck by searching for ojek services on Google. After a couple of search result pages, I found Arman's advertisement and gave him a call," Handono said.

The next morning, Arman arrived on time at Handono's house. Handono said he was very surprised to see the ojek driver because he was very well-dressed.

"I thought he would be dirty and smelly like most ojek drivers, but not only is he well-dressed, he drives very carefully," Handono said.

Impressed with Arman's services, Handono then offered Arman another method to enhance his online promotion.

"I told him that his ad was hard to find using Google. It would be more effective to build a website, so I made him a blog site," he said.

Handono finished creating Arman's blog last week, posting an article on the advantages of using an ojek and Arman's contact number in the blog.

After the blog was created, Arman said, he had more customers calling for his services, especially from the Bintaro area. Arman earns between Rp 5,000 (US$5) to Rp 15,000 for a one-way trip.

"Now I have loyal customers, including mothers who want their children to be taken to school safely. They pay me in advance for a month of services. On average, I charge Rp 150,000 per month for per child," he said.

Handono also posted information about Arman's services and blog on Indonesia's largest Internet forum, Kaskus. After the posting on Kaskus, the number of hits Arman's blog received increased significantly, Handono said.

"I posted the link on Kaskus, there were at least 100 visitors in just an hour," he said.

He said he and Arman became good friends.

"I just wanted to help because I saw there was a man who was jobless and tried to work hard but the circumstances were all against him because of the bullying.

But he never gave up and tried to innovate by using the Internet. I have the skills and pleased with his services, so I said to myself, 'why not?'," he said.

"We run this ojek blog in a serious but fun way. In the future, I hope the blog will not only provide services in Bintaro, but will also build an Internet network of ojek drivers in Jakarta, so that every ojek driver in various areas can offer their services like Arman," Handono added. (hdt)

Four tips to choose a good ojek driver:

1. The rider's countenance.
Friendly faces with a smile are preferable to scary ones.

2. Motorcycle condition.
A relatively new motorcycle will ensure customer safety and convenience during the ride. A good braking system always comes in handy to avoid collision with other vehicles.

3. Choose a rider wearing a helmet.
A responsible ojek driver will always obey the rules and put safety above all else. A rider who refuses to wear a helmet will be more likely get caught by the police.

4. Age.
An older driver will have more wisdom and experience serving their customers. Younger drivers tend to use ojek to channel their speeding desires, earning money at the same time.

From Asiaone, "'Ojek' driver uses internet to move into fast lane".

An interesting news indeed, but I find myself irritated because the blog address is not mentioned at all in the article. A quick blogsearch leads me to the right blog, "ojek untuk warga bintaro & Rempoa". The content is in Bahasa Indonesia.

Even Somali Pirates have problems with middlemen?!

Yeah, those despicable pirates should have learnt from Dell which claims to sell their computers without middlemen & thus, cheaper! Perhaps then the ransom money of the captured ships may be more affordable.

Check out the NEWSWEEK interview with one of the pirates' leaders, Shamun Indhabur here.

China's animal of the year: Quake zone hero pig, "Zhu Jianqiang" or "Strong Pig"

Screenshot below, "Zhu Jianqiang" sure looked alright when he's rescued. The point of him "vividly illustrated the spirit of never giving up" and has become a model for Chinese entrepreneurs" is rather exaggerating, though. He survived the quake, but he should not survive the slaughterhouse. That's just unnatural to have a museum to 'nurture' this "Strong Pig".

A celebrity pig that survived for 36 days buried beneath rubble in quake-hit southwest China has been named the nation's animal of the year, state press reported.

The pig won the award in an online vote after his ordeal earned him celebrity status and a plush life as the top attraction at an earthquake museum, the China Daily said in a weekend report.

The pig, known as "Zhu Jianqiang" which means "Strong Pig", shot to fame after he was discovered alive beneath rubble, 36 days after the magnitude-8.0 earthquake struck Sichuan province on May 12.

The pig survived on rainwater and a bag of charcoal during his ordeal and was sold to the Jianchuan Museum, which agreed to nurture him for the rest of his life as a reminder of the nation's resilience in disaster.

Now free from the worry of the slaughterhouse, the pig enjoys a cushy life at the museum, the report said.

"It's gotten fatter and lazier by the day," the paper quoted a museum staff member as saying.

"We used to take it out for a walk every morning and afternoon, but now it's too lazy -- and too fat -- to do it. So we're feeding it only twice a day."

According to the Red Net forum, the website that held the online vote, the two-year old pig "vividly illustrated the spirit of never giving up" and has become a model for Chinese entrepreneurs" amid the current economic downturn.

From Yahoo!, "Quake zone hero pig named China's animal of the year".

54-year-old cancer-patient (a victim of DBS High Notes 5) stages a protest...alone!

It's annoyingly beyond me to understand why DBS choose to be non transparent & not revealing its compensation criteria. Compare that with Hong Leong Finance and Maybank which both publicly announced that they'd compensate those 'vulnerable' investors & defined clearly what 'vulnerable' means.

Hobbling on clutches, 54-year-old Lin Jinjiao struck a lone note of protest at Raffles Place in Singapore's Central Business District during lunchtime yesterday.

A cancer patient, who underwent an operation to remove a tumour in August, she hung card boards torn from a paper carton around her neck.

Handwritten in English and Chinese, the card boards highlighted Ms Lin's plight after she invested in DBS High Notes 5.

Ms Lin told Lianhe Zaobao that she invested $50,000 in DBS High Notes 5 and other investment products.

However, with the global credit meltdown, she lost the principal sum she had invested.

She had protested to DBS and had three interviews with them. She was then told that the bank would not compensate her for her loss.

In the letter from DBS, she was also informed that if she did not accept the bank's decision, she could file a complaint with the Financial Industry Disputes Resolution Centre Ltd (FIDReC).

According to the FIDReC website, "to date, more than 380 financial institutions have subscribed to FIDReC and have agreed to submit to the jurisdiction of FIDReC in adjudicating complaints against them by consumers".

During her interview with Zaobao, Ms Lin added that she had also invested in Lehman Minibonds with another investment firm. She claimed that the firm had started discussing compensation a week after one meeting with her.

She also said she had since signed an agreement with said investment company regarding the compensation amount and, therefore, could not give Zaobao further details.

She was very dissatisfied with DBS because the bank's letter to her had not explained why she would not be compensated.

Ms Lin told the Chinese daily that she did not understand English, so when she called the FIDReC and found out that the resolution process and sessions would be conducted in English, she felt this was unfair to people like her.

Teary-eyed, she told Zaobao: "I know I'm making a fool of myself, but I hope that what I've done at Raffles Place will catch the public's attention and persuade them to give non-English speaking retirees like myself fair treatment."

However, the FIDReC told Zaobao that if any complainant could not understand English, the centre's staff would provide assistance. Its spokesperson also said that, at the arbitration stage, complainants could authorise a close friend or relation, who could speak and understand English, to help him or her.

Meeting with DBS staff

Ms Lin protested at Raffles Place for about an hour, drawing much attention from the lunch-time crowd.

After that, she headed towards the Royal Brothers Building, where a DBS branch was located.

A manager saw Ms Lin and invited her to the office to talk about her dissatisfaction. Ms Lin, however, said it was not convenient for her to move further into the premises and insisted on sitting in the main hall.

Finally, 45 minutes later, Ms Lin relented and followed a bank staff into the office.

In reply to Zaobao's query, DBS said the bank had already informed Ms Lin that it would re-assess her complaint and would inform her of the latest outcome by February next year.

DBS added that it could not reveal details about its compensation criteria as this could compromise the confidentiality of clients' investment details and the cases in process.

The spokesperson confirmed to Zaobao that work on the cases were progressing smoothly and that the bank was doing its best to complete the work by February next year.

About 1,400 have invested about $1.3 billion in High Notes 5.

From Asiaone, "Lone protestor's plea: 'Return my medical fee'".

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