looking for baudrillard, boorstin, or eco?

dare to hope for what is good
instead of what is merely good enough.
Dead in sin | Saved by grace | Living in hope | Walking by faith | Surviving on a prayer

+ sola scriptura + sola gratia + solus Christus + sola fide + sola Deo gloria +

mardi, novembre 27, 2012

 SMRT bus strike highlights inadequate cross-cultural communication

image from http://www.smrtbuses.com.sg
Lim May-Ann

The bus strike by the 100-odd PRC drivers on Monday was a real eye-opener for many of us. Whatever happened to the well-ordered Singapore that we once knew? And what is rotten in the strangely erupting state of SMRT? When train services break down because of mechanical wear-and-tear, it's fairly understandable (to a certain extent, but don't push it, SMRT.) However, if the complaints are legitimate, do a group of workers have the right to protest in this manner? And if they do have the right, should they do it in the first place?

I think the drivers do have a legitimate cause for complaint if their allegations are true - i.e. that one ethnic/national group was privileged over the other in terms of remuneration, and their living conditions really suck - which in our space-starved city state, I don't doubt for one moment.

Assuming ceteris paribus (i.e. same wages for all bus drivers who are of the same seniority), it's unfair to have one nationality of drivers receive a $275 salary bump and bonus, and another nationality get a $75 salary bump and no bonus (Straits Times, 26 Nov 2012). In my (layman, non-lawyer's) point of view, this smacks of discriminatory practices if not explained.

However, this reason behind the strike would be moot if the pay difference was intended as a variable wage component based on performance, not on nationality/ethnicity. If NOT ALL PRCs received only $75 and/or a bonus, and NOT ALL Malaysians received $275 and/or a bonus, then the strike was uncalled for because the pay increment is a reward based on an assessment of their professional skill, not driven by racial lines.

That being said, strikes are a communication mode of last resort. It's fairly (very!) hostile, and its "take-no-prisoners" method of discussion holds a service (like bus services) hostage unless someone gives the strikers what they want. It's a risky negotiation technique, because if the service is replaceable (eg with new drivers waiting in the wings), then it could become a zero-sum game where the corporation refuses to come to the table and simply hire other workers to provide the service. (Or you know, like in the case of the SIA pilots, Papa LKY might scold and cane you. http://acorn.nationalinterest.in/2003/12/03/lee-kuan-yew-govt-cannot-let-pilots-have-their-way/)

I do think that the group of drivers should have found some way of resolving the issues without resorting to a strike, but I am very sympathetic to the difficulties in cross-cultural discussions and negotiations. Case in point: SMRT claims that their lines of communications have always been open, but open lines of corporate communication are rarely used if there are (1) language barriers, (2) tech barriers - imagine how a PRC driver would take up the oppty to email the PR dept if s/he didn't have access to the internet?, (3) cultural barriers, perhaps of not understanding the difference between "feedback" and "complaining", the latter of which could result in a punishment for not being thankful for having a job.

If Monday's strikes are any indication of the future, multicultural communications looks set to become elevated in Singapore very, very soon. More companies are hiring from overseas to fill jobs which can't/won't be filled by Singaporeans, and HR departments will have to equip themselves to communicate across ethnic and cultural differences, as well as make a bigger effort to engage more with their non-Singaporean employees. It's that, or more disrupted services by disgruntled workers.

[SMRT bus strike highlights inadequate cross-cultural communication]
Sngs Alumni @ 27.11.12 { 0 comments }

mardi, août 07, 2012

 Revamp... maybe

Given that this blog hasn't undergone any major revamps for about... nearly a decade?... it might just be time to put it on the cards.

I've been putting it off because (1) blogger isn't the most socially-conscious platform, (2) I wrote the HTML code myself painstakingly, and it's hard to say goodbye to all those hours of coding as an arts student, female to boot, (3) I revel in simplicity, so I don't really see the need to keep up with the latest techthingamajig app, and (4) tagging/labelling all my posts gives me nightmares.

There's also the rather large fear of being judged because this blog isn't a paragon of all the bright, shiny insights I have on living, working, and thinking. It's just a prosaic blog, used as a sandbox for other ideas which feed into - well, into real life and other articles I write elsewhere.

But yes, this is looking a little dated. An update will be put (low down) on my to-do list. One day.

[Revamp... maybe]
Sngs Alumni @ 7.8.12 { 0 comments }

mercredi, juin 27, 2012

 Transatlantic Romance

You say good morning
When it's midnight
I wake up to your sunset
It's driving me mad
And my heart is so jet lagged

Mature sentiment, punky beat. I haven't been able to get this out of my mind since the first time I heard it, and despite the fact that in the last 3 years, my pop-listening has gone down nearly to zero, this is one of the tunes that sticks out in my hazy symphonic memory.

Libellés :

[Transatlantic Romance]
Sngs Alumni @ 27.6.12 { 0 comments }

jeudi, mai 17, 2012

 Fact #2957342 you did not need to know about me

Very loud drum music like Stomp makes me very, very sleepy.

[Fact #2957342 you did not need to know about me]
Sngs Alumni @ 17.5.12 { 0 comments }

mercredi, mai 16, 2012


What's the deal with privacy laws when everyone else and their brother is happy posting what they ate and when they peed on facebook?

When did it become socially unacceptable to be an unknown quantity?

Sngs Alumni @ 16.5.12 { 0 comments }

samedi, mai 12, 2012

 Outta his mind

Relationships, I don’t know why, they never work you and they make you cry
But the guy that says goodbye to you is out of his mind

[Outta his mind]
Sngs Alumni @ 12.5.12 { 0 comments }

vendredi, avril 27, 2012

 test post

test post

[test post]
Sngs Alumni @ 27.4.12 { 0 comments }

vendredi, mars 30, 2012

 Declutter: 100 things

I want to travel light.

Without baggage, without angst, without hangups.

I believe that this is something that God does call all Christians to do - to cast all our cares on Him, because He cares for us. Not to carry the weight of the world on our shoulders, nor harbour grudges or envy.

I've seen what happens when we don't take the time to curate and care for our lives: my father's recent illness has shown this clear well. Having no time to clean and do a health-check on his life is killing him - paralysing him with fear and self-loathing. It's a victim mentality, and I never want to be like that.

God is in control: we are NOT victims of happenstance, or slaves to fortune.

I believe that decluttering my life begins with the easiest: the physical. So I'm decluttering my room now. Books, clothes, papers, photos, mementos. Take a deep breath... and say yes if I want to give you stuff.

Libellés : ,

[Declutter: 100 things]
Sngs Alumni @ 30.3.12 { 0 comments }

mercredi, janvier 25, 2012

 Running Your Own Business: What, When and How To Pay Yourself, and Why You Need To Think It Through

...at least, in Singapore
by Lim May-Ann 25 Dec 2011 (wow I'm SUCH a loser!)
written for my friends Ed and Ad

Given that you're essentially a one-man show, you need to remember what you're doing this for, and why you're doing this. It's easy to go for broke when you're first starting out, and take on as many clients as you can, but remember - there's a reason why fledging eagles don't fly too well at first: cos they're new at it! So take your time to learn the ropes of how to manage your business, your time, your clients. With the freedom to do whatever, whenever, you have the opportunity to find some kind of equilibrium first, then ramp up if you need to. From what I hear from you, it's not hard finding clients - which is great, but what happens later, when you're maxed out of time, but you aren't earning as much as you'd like? You'll appreciate space/time to expand then. 

What do you do then? Make a plan:

1. What are your financial commitments?
Break it down: parents, church, self/travel, taxes, CPF, savings, madmoney. I usually run it by statistics: * Church 10%, Parents 10% (or however much it is), Income Tax 10% (this is an overestimation), CPF 20%. For CPF, note that you will be getting LESS than your peers who have employers, as employers contribute 16% of their income as well, making their CPF contribution 36% of their income. Which means that their CPF has an EXTRA 16% of what they earn going to it. http://mycpf.cpf.gov.sg/Employers/Gen-Info/cpf-Contri/ContriRa.htm

You might also be interested to know that according to Financial Planners, the recommended savings percentage is 40%. I know, it's CRAZY. 

This generally leaves 50% left for yourself and your travel, savings and mad money. But not really, since there's always stuff to buy and things that break and need maintenance.

2. Assume makes an Ass of U and Me - make assumptions anyway
Travel costs: assume that you have one student per weekday, and 5 over the weekend (spread over Sat/Sun). Assume that you'll take a cab to/fro their places, and each trip is a return trip (it probably won't be, but let's assume.) Assume each cab ride is $25. That's a sunk cost of $50 per student, so it will cost you $10*50=$500.

2. OK, so you've got a number from those financial commitments. How much do you pay yourself per year then?
Factor in yearly inflation in Singapore, which is approx 4-6% (most people estimate it at 5%), and a 10% increase every year, plus a 13th month bonus. So take X (from above), multiply it by 13 months, and then again by 115%, divided by 12. That's how much you should be earning per month.

3. You've got to be kidding.
Nope, it really is this mad. And I'm not even factoring in savings for the future and your retirement.

Libellés : ,

[Running Your Own Business: What, When and How To Pay Yourself, and Why You Need To Think It Through]
Sngs Alumni @ 25.1.12 { 0 comments }

jeudi, janvier 12, 2012

 Curation of the Virtual Self

If a tree falls in the forest without anyone to see it, does it make a sound? Similarly, if you didn’t blog, Facebook, Tweet or Tumblr something that happened in your life, did it ever happen?

With the current level of self-management (or is it obsession?), many people would qualify as “self-stalkers”. You know the type – they constantly check their social feeds to see if they’ve been tagged, mentioned, “liked” or commented on.

These are also the people who usually live their whole lives online, “checking in” to places, tweeting about things, posting  photographs of their meals, and using Facebook to login and comment on various websites. The question from me to them usually is – what happens if you DON’T do it? Does that invalidate your existence?

For many people, it does. It has been documented that people often do not  feel the full completion an event until it’s been posted online in some form or other. Great holidays that lacked a certain je ne sais quoi – until the photographs were put on Flickr. Relationships that weren’t really exclusive until someone blinked, and changed their relationship status to “in a relationship”. (Relationships have apparently broken down because of this issue.)

With this in mind, I’m looking rather mistrustfully at Facebook’s new Timeline feature. Touted as the ability to “tell your story with a new kind of profile” where you can highlight important and memorable events in your life, I’m not sure if it won’t enable us to manufacture a completely different story about ourselves altogether.

Given the choice, most people want to put forward the best version of themselves. This is why we dress up when we head for a night out on the town, and why we put our best foot forward when we go for job interviews.

Similarly, we curate our personal social media feeds to show the best versions of ourselves, and the best parts of our lives – great meals, fun parties, and amazing vacations. To us, these things “really happened” in our lives. But what happens to events which pass by unnoted and untweeted?

Character-molding events have a tendency to leave a bittersweet taste in their aftermath. We probably won’t note a severe reprimand on our personal calendars, but what if, upon further rumination, it deeply impacts your life?

A personal timeline should represent you in your entirety – the good, the bad, the highs and the lows. When we can obsessively curate our “public selves” to contain only the good, the happy, and the glorious, we become hyper-aware of our public image, and overly-concerned with what others’ responses to our actions are (you mean nobody “liked” the fact that I checked into the library today?)

The choice of what to portray as our "public" selves may prove to be a boon to some, especially to people who value the integrity of keeping the public-private selves as closely related to each other as possible. However, it could also mean the annihilation of the breathing space we need in order to explore different facets of our personality as we grow into our own skins. For fear of ridicule or lack of validation, one could be stopped from trying a new activity that radically departs from your established personality.

I'm someone who knows this more than most, since I seem to keep trying things which people find "out of character" or "not really your personality" for me. Case in point: I signed up for tap dancing classes for about 6 months in 2004; it was something I had always wanted to try out, so I found a school in Queensway, borrowed some shoes, and danced.

Sometime later (just around the time that I had worked off my curiosity for the subject), someone told me that they had been walking around the shopping centre after dinner and had peeked in on the dance class, only to be surprised at seeing me in class. "Not really your personality leh," they had commented to me.

I'm honestly not sure that I would have tried the class as earnestly, had thry made that comment to me just as I was starting out. I might have discontinued my lessons, considering it had I been discouraged from the activity - after all, it's "not my style/personality."

With social media timelines conflating the public and private selves, we are going to spend more time obsessively curate our "public selves" that other people base their impressions of us on. People will assume impose certain notions of our behavior, and we will continue to reinforce them on ourselves.

The question for us then is - are we ready for the responsibility of redefining who we are online? And in any case, who are we to censor ourselves? Remember how Jim Carrey's John in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind pleaded for the "scientists" not to delete his memories of Kate Winslet's Clementine. "Not this one, let me keep this one," he begged. We are the sum total of all our parts, experiences, joys, tears and laughter - what will become of our "selves" once we start to purge "unnotable events" from our public Timeline?

Libellés : ,

[Curation of the Virtual Self]
Sngs Alumni @ 12.1.12 { 0 comments }

mardi, janvier 10, 2012

 Network Users

I've already been quite disappointed at certain professional acquaintances who have dropped me like a hot potato because I've left my "well-connected" job for another which I find challenging (and therefore personally fulfilling.)

While I understand less interaction, I think total silence from a simple greeting email is just plain rude.

Libellés : ,

[Network Users]
Sngs Alumni @ 10.1.12 { 0 comments }

lundi, janvier 02, 2012

 Best buy of 2011

hands down.

Libellés :

[Best buy of 2011]
Sngs Alumni @ 2.1.12 { 0 comments }

lundi, décembre 26, 2011

 Book Review: My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult

There's no real reason to review this book for public consumption now, esp since the movie's already been released (featuring Cameron Diaz as the beleaguered mother.) However, the moral dilemma posed is indeed compelling, and it's not surprising that this became one of Picoult's best-known books.

The family's situation is heart-tugging enough without the ensuing drama. Sara and Brian (the dad) have a sick eldest daughter, Kate, and another child, Jesse. With Kate's condition deteriorating, Sara decides to have another child, Anna, in order to harvest her stem cells to help Kate. Kate, of course, continues to deteriorate further, and the medical contributions from Anna grow more invasive. At 13, Anna walks into a lawyer's office and proceeds to sue her parents for the rights to her own body.

The plot revolves around Sara (the mom) and Anna (the daughter), although there are B and C plots involving the dad, son and the lawyer. The story unwinds fairly quickly, and through it all, Picoult manages to make everyone a sympathetic character, to the point where I honestly didn't know who to side with. Every coin has two sides, and every personal story has multiple facets. The ending's either a cop-out or a tearjerker, depending on how cynical you are. Not really a must-read, but more a social capital read.

Libellés : ,

[Book Review: My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult]
Sngs Alumni @ 26.12.11 { 0 comments }

jeudi, décembre 22, 2011

 Facebook timeline and the curation of our selves

With the rollout of Facebook Timeline, we are going to curate our selves more than ever. I'm quite sure that the managing of our public selves - the tweets, the thoughts, the photographs, EVERYTHING - will hit new obsessive heights - not that it hasn't already hovered somewhere around the "self-stalker" territory already. You know the type - someone obsessively checking his/her status to see if they've been "liked" or "commented" on, or tagged in some photo or post or link or note somewhere.

The choice of what to portray as our "public" selves may prove to be a boon to people who value the integrity of keeping the public-private selves as closely related to each other as possible. However, it could also mean the annihilation of the breathing space we need in order to explore different facets of our personality as we grow into our own skins. For who doesn't need some privacy to try a new hobby that radically departs from one's own personality?

I'm someone who knows this more than most, since I seem to keep trying things which people find "out of character" or "not really your personality". Case in point: I went for tap dancing classes for about 6 months in 2004; it was something that I wanted to try, so I found a school in Anchor Point, paid for a couple of terms of lessons, borrowed some shoes, and danced.

Sometime later (just around the time that I had worked off my curiosity for the subject), Matt/Sam told me that they had been walking around AP after dinner and had peeked in on the dance class, only to be super surprised at seeing me in class. "Not really your personality leh," Matt had commented to me. I'm honestly not sure that I would have tried the class as earnestly had he made that comment to me just as I was starting out. I might not even had continued considering it had I been discouraged from the activity beforehand - after all, it's "not my style/personality."

The other thing which continues to astound people is that I like mucking around with household DIY (like grouting toilets and re-upholstering chairs), and I also like fooling around with sewing stuff. I can't imagine experimenting with all this if people impose their impressions of me - I'm no shrinking violet, but the peer (sheer?) pressure would be fairly strong.

With Facebook Timeline, we're going to obsessively curate our "public selves" that other people base their impressions of us on. People will read our FB Timeline, and impose/reinforce that idea of who we are back onto ourselves. The question for us then is - are we ready for the responsibility of defining who we are? And in any case, who are we to censor ourselves? Remember how Jim Carrey's John in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind pleaded for the "scientists" not to delete his memories of Kate Winslet's Clementine. "Not this one, let me keep this one," he begged. We are the sum total of all our parts, experiences, joys, tears and laughter - what will become of our "selves" once we start to purge "unnotable events" from our public Timeline?

Libellés : ,

[Facebook timeline and the curation of our selves]
Sngs Alumni @ 22.12.11 { 0 comments }

mercredi, décembre 21, 2011

 Book Review: Sing You Home by Jodi Picoult

Yes, I'm on a reading kick at the moment, and yes, I am a fairly fast reader of fiction books - particularly fast if they're fluff. Case in point: I finished all four Twilight books in about 12 hrs. More accurately: I suffered through the poor writing and editing and melodramatic storylines for 12 painful hours.

Ahem. Yes - book reviews. This one's on Picoult's latest novel (released Mar 2011), which is my first Picoult book. I've heard she takes on controversial topics, populates her novels with characters who inevitably wind up in court, and then adds a twist (we call that deux ex machina, dahling) which wraps everything up in a neat bow before the end of the novel.

Sing You Home is about embryo ownership - who owns fertilized eggs held in cold storage after a couple divorces? Protagonists Zoe and Max find out after they divorce, following many painful (and expensive) years of fertility treatments to treat both their fertility issues. After that, Zoe meets and marries Vanessa, and tries to get her eggs out of storage for Vanessa to carry to term. Max, who has since then has become a full-blown born-again right-wing Christian, has religious/moral questions regarding having his child "raised by two dykes." When the fertility clinic requires Max to give permission to release the eggs to Zoe, he opts to fight for them, so that he can give them to his brother and sister-in-law, who are also facing fertility issues.

Enter two hard-talking, media-hungry lawyers, and you have a book. Not a great book, but a readable book, with a court battle, and a life lesson on how sometimes, things just don't work out the way you thought you would. Picoult's presentation of the moral dilemma that all parties find themselves in makes the characters fairly sympathetic, and if you could have predicted how this would have turned out, then you're a better person than I was (I thought the embryos would be left to die, or someone would have accidentally forgot to flip a switch to the refrigerator.) 3 hrs tops, if you're a fast reader.

Libellés : ,

[Book Review: Sing You Home by Jodi Picoult]
Sngs Alumni @ 21.12.11 { 0 comments }

mardi, décembre 20, 2011

 Book Review: Bittersweet Surrender by Diann Hunt

Female business owner (Carly) has weight and body image insecurity, best friend Scott is a guy who helps her out. Sounds formulaic, but Hunt makes it work. Big, life issues like illness, desertion, adultery, teen angst, alcoholism, gambling addiction, with a side of snarky females-on-the-prowl make for a fairly fun two hour read on a rainy Sunday afternoon.

What's excellent about Hunt's writing is that she somehow makes it all sound believable, if a little packed with hot-topic issues - throw in an LGBT and this might be the perfect hot-issue book. Carly is fairly likable as a slightly overweight cancer survivor, and Scott's lightbulb-over-the-head moment (you'll know what I mean when you read the book) has to be one of the better written male perspectives I've seen in a while.

Switching between Carly and Scott's POV was a little bit disconcerting at first (as I had assumed we'd be "staying" with Carly most of the time), but it did well to provide a more rounded look at all the plot points raised. Unfortunately, due to the myriad issues raised, many other plot points were glossed over. I felt Hunt could have done more to explore the difficulties of raising money for a business, for example, or discussed Magnolia's history a little more. (I think Magnolia's life would make an excellent follow-up book.)

The most problematic issue was the lack of mentioning God (beyond the general italicised prayers, which - let's be honest here - show a woman who uses God when it suits her or when she needs him, rather than one who relies on Him for strength.

Fun read, but where's God?

I review for BookSneeze®Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Libellés : ,

[Book Review: Bittersweet Surrender by Diann Hunt]
Sngs Alumni @ 20.12.11 { 0 comments }

lundi, décembre 19, 2011

 Book Review: First Date by Krista McGee

Yep, 2nd teen romance book in as many days - this one's based on the story of such a time as this Esther. Thanks to Jenny B Jones, I was predisposed positively towards the book... only to be let down by the lazy fall into cliches by McGee.

Although the story's based on the book of Esther, I didn't expect it to be so formulaic: reluctant girl (Addy) gets conscripted into an amazing reality TV opportunity - win a date to prom with the President's son ("stylishly" spelt 'Jonathon'). Of course she dislikes him at first, and of course he falls for her once he meets her, and of course she surmounts mean girls and a nasty TV producer to get the guy in the end.

The good bits:
- Addy does work out her faith in a real fashion, and McGee's portrayal of her as a Christian girl just going about her regular QTs and prayers very well.
- Kara, Addy's reality TV roommate, is an unexpected breath of fresh air in the tired plot.

The bad bits:
- Can we veer away from the myth of the perfect guy? Jonathon is ridiculously nice and non-existent in real life.
- Addy's sudden preaching/sharing to the nasty TV producer, and his "candid" review of Christianity read terribly awkward in Chapter 51, almost like McGee decided "okay, this is where I'll put the preachin' and teachin' in my novel."
- The assassination plot - terribly contrived; I understand the need to parallel the biblical story, but this could have been done better and added more flesh to interactions with the first family.
- The sudden ending. I really, really dislike books/shows which end at the crescendo. Learn how to anti-climax!

Overall: Could have been so much better without writing to cliches.

I review for BookSneeze®Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Libellés : ,

[Book Review: First Date by Krista McGee]
Sngs Alumni @ 19.12.11 { 0 comments }

dimanche, décembre 18, 2011

 Book Review: There You'll Find Me by Jenny B Jones

While I'd love to primly announce that I'm reviewing this for my youth, in all honesty I can't - I grew up on hokey Sweet Dreams novels, and after trudging through more than a hundred of those paperback teen romance novels, I can smell a good story a mile away. Jenny B Jones' There You'll Find Me is not only well-titled, it's tightly written as well.

Story in brief: Finley Sinclair, bereft after the loss of her brother, visits Ireland as she follows in his footsteps using his diary to guide her. Meet cute on the plane with a guy, who happens to stay at her host family's B&B. She works out her life issues (and there are many), helps an old lady leave life well, and - of course - finds love.

It's a Christian book, so I expected a lot of teachin' and preachin' to be going on through bad prose. But Jones surprises me there (the same way that Fireproof surprised me with its professional production) - Finley's struggles are universal (insecurity over looks, boys, weight etc) and her prayers are reminiscent of prayers which I've prayed myself as I grew up feeling around my faith in God.

My issues with the book are fairly serious ones though:
(1) Jones concocts an absolutely ridiculous scenario of rich heiress and movie star which does nothing for the plot - Jones shouldn't have done this; it adds nothing to the story, and instead removes the reality of the situation even further away from the average girl-at-home. Not everyone's a poor little rich heiress a la Paris Hilton, and no 18 year old hunky male movie star would be left unattended like that.
(2) Absolutely irrational behaviour from boy - the sensitive sweet 18 year old boy does not exist, and should have been written out completely, or portrayed more realistically. But I suppose nobody wants to read about 18 year old jerks. I'm on the fence whether such portrayals of guys are more damaging than aspirational, but since more girls than guys are likely to read this YA novel, I'm leaning towards the "bad for girls to dream about this completely fictional guy".

Jones is an excellent writer - I'll be looking out for more balanced and mature works from her as she grows as an author.

I review for BookSneeze®Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Libellés : ,

[Book Review: There You'll Find Me by Jenny B Jones]
Sngs Alumni @ 18.12.11 { 0 comments }

samedi, décembre 17, 2011

 Crisis Communications CorpComms lessons for SMRT from me

Before I head into this, I'm prefacing it with: thank you SMRT, for 24 years of generally smooth MRT rides. I'm sorry you're having a quarter-life crisis right now, but rest assured that your customer-base has no one else to turn to for MRT rides, thanks to your monopoly.

And we get right into it:

Corporate Crisis Communications Lessons for SMRT from me:

(1) Get your CEO on social media NOW
Then make sure you get someone who knows how to use it to man it for her. Ms SPH's the only one with authority enough to speak for the company, so any utterance from her should carry the weight of the company, and should trump all other rumours etc. This way, people have a focal point for news, and the papers will have something to quote. YES there will be people who will flame, but be a classy girl, ignore the haters for now - you've got a fire to put out!

(2) Don't think you can keep office hours during a crisis!
http://twitpic.com/7uc0za --> office hours FAIL and http://www.smrt.com.sg/ --> HAPPY WEBSITE FAIL. Get that happy photograph off the front page. When CNN was responding to news updates on 9/11, they wiped their ENTIRE SITE clean of any other news and HTML coded the index page to ensure that they had timely news up online for anyone in the world to view. While train shutdowns aren't on the same scale, for SMRT it was the equivalent, and CorpComms should respond accordingly!

(3) Set up trust systems that allow your staff to respond PROMPTLY, even if they don't have full info
Many, many people would have been happier had SMRT acknowledged the problem earlier, which could have been managed with a twitter feed along the lines of "we are investigating, we'll have more info soon" - and if SMRT had kept that twitter feed updated every 5 mins with updates, it would have been the PR coup of the year.

This is a huge issue for Singaporean firms; we don't trust our people enough (and to be honest, many times there's a reason why). But in order to build a robust, dynamic organisation, you have to start somewhere, and a trusted company spokesperson HAS to be let off the leash to respond promptly; we've seen how brittle SMRT's communication systems is.

(4) Say sorry, mean it, show it.
Ms. SPH's apology was heartfelt, and calls for her to resign are ridiculous; I'd much rather she fix the issues since she should know them! SMRT does need to apologise for the crazy breakdown in a huge way; I'd say accede to the calls to give one free day of public transport via MRT and buses before the year's out would be a very, very nice gesture of goodwill.

Libellés : ,

[Crisis Communications CorpComms lessons for SMRT from me]
Sngs Alumni @ 17.12.11 { 0 comments }

 Book Review: Why Men Hate Going To Church by David Murrow (completely revised and updated)

I picked this book out of a list that was available for free download at booksneeze.com, which gives free books in exchange for reviews (like this one, which I've also cross posted on Amazon). It seemed to address the problem of disappearing men from the church, so I thought, why not give it (and booksneeze) a go. Plus I wanted to see if booksneeze was really legit, esp if I wasn't in the USA, but could read/review from the kindle ebook version that they were giving out.

First things first - the book's really about all the reasons why men hate going to church. The central thesis: poor preaching has led to a lopsided view of God (more lamb than lion), and have thus drawn more women than men. Women develop women-friendly programmes, and men are left out in the cold (or more likely, left out to be ushers.)

Murrow is fairly comprehensive when it comes to listing down the things that church does to alienate men - and I have to agree with a good many of his thinly-veiled complaints, like when in meetings (oh the bane of the baptists!) where we have to be meek and conciliatory towards everyone, ensuring that everyone is "happy".

Most damning is his painfully honest assessment of the ministries that we have in church - children, visitation, choir, vacation bible school - they're skewed towards women's skills, rather than the man's abilities. Murrow here skirts a very, very, VERY fine line between adroit observation of gender difference, and sexist attitudes when he prescribes - almost demands - that churches sit up and take notice that unless we start re-engineering and re-thinking some of our programmes (rather that stick with "what all the other churches are doing), we're going to lose men altogether - and be left with feminized, emasculated men.

It was an interesting read - a little long-winded (could have been made much, much sharper with better editing; Murrow tends to ramble on with many stories), I was most disturbed that a lot of Murrow's prescriptions to "fix" the church tended to be predicated on a marketing fix, rather than one grounded in the Word. To give Murrow credit, I think he tried to ground in on observations of Jesus' behaviour: for example, he said that men are driven to challenges, which Jesus did give in the imperative "Follow me" when calling his disciples. Linking this to men's need for risk-taking was good, but not all men are risk-takers, and to draw a link between the imperative command and men's need to rise to challenge/competition seemed rather shaky. I don't think that these two inductions lead to a biblical truth being presented.

This is not to say that it's a bad book - read the book if you want fresh ideas on how to make your church more appealing to guys (and girls). Just remember as you read the book that these are methods, not biblical truths - and the problem with methods is that it can never be "everything to everyone". Not every guy is a jock in the making, and not all guys are macho-men who work with power tools. In this information age, other methods of engagement need to be thought up for guys working in financial services and technology - aren't these the freaks and geeks who get picked on by the jocks in the first place?

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Libellés : , ,

[Book Review: Why Men Hate Going To Church by David Murrow (completely revised and updated)]
Sngs Alumni @ 17.12.11 { 0 comments }

vendredi, décembre 16, 2011

 HDD: the weak link

Hard disks are always the weakest link in anyone's data systems. Most of my portable unpowered ones are working fine; it always seems that the powered ones die fastest.

Grr. Here I am taking it all apart. 1.5TB+0.5TB HDD gone.

Libellés :

[HDD: the weak link]
Sngs Alumni @ 16.12.11 { 0 comments }

mercredi, décembre 14, 2011

 remember the name

10% luck
20% skill
15% concentrated power of will
5% pleasure
50% pain
100% reason - remember the name

- fort minor, remember the name

ironic that i forgot how much i love this; gotta put FM/LP back on the workout playlist.

Libellés :

[remember the name]
Sngs Alumni @ 14.12.11 { 0 comments }

lundi, décembre 12, 2011

 I lost a dream today

I lost a dream today, I can’t find it anywhere!
It was here in my pocket; I just put it there!
I clambered down on my knees; maybe it fell under my chair
But oh, oh, I lost a dream today, it’s not there!

I lost a dream today, and I should honestly be frantic;
I thought it would always be there - but you know dreams,
those fickle things. Gossamer dust, you turn around
and they disappear in a puff.

This dream I held in my hand,
it was so small, so tiny -
but I swear it was there, it existed,

I left it in my pocket as I took a call
But after that, I couldn’t find it anymore.
I just lost it.

Sunday 21 September 2003 3:06pm

Libellés :

[I lost a dream today]
Sngs Alumni @ 12.12.11 { 0 comments }

 the angry dinosaur

Not quite the dino that started it all, but nearly...

Here's another one which was more apt since it's pink:

Libellés :

[the angry dinosaur]
Sngs Alumni @ 12.12.11 { 0 comments }

samedi, décembre 10, 2011

 George Gray

Edgar Lee Masters (1868–1950). Spoon River Anthology.  1916.   

I have studied many times  
The marble which was chiseled for me—  
A boat with a furled sail at rest in a harbor.  
In truth it pictures not my destination  
But my life.
For love was offered me and I shrank from its disillusionment;  
Sorrow knocked at my door, but I was afraid;  
Ambition called to me, but I dreaded the chances.  
Yet all the while I hungered for meaning in my life.  
And now I know that we must lift the sail
And catch the winds of destiny  
Wherever they drive the boat.  
To put meaning in one’s life may end in madness,  
But life without meaning is the torture  
Of restlessness and vague desire—
It is a boat longing for the sea and yet afraid.

Libellés :

[George Gray]
Sngs Alumni @ 10.12.11 { 0 comments }

mardi, décembre 06, 2011

 Going Gong Cha @ United Sq?

Say hello to our Christmas tree.
Yep it's outside Gong Cha United Square.
Ming, SE and I help to set it up. Not as easy as it looks!

[Going Gong Cha @ United Sq?]
Sngs Alumni @ 6.12.11 { 0 comments }

 Lightly burnt rice = fairly nice

some jap bbq at chijmes
angeline's gonna kill me for
not remembering their name.

[Lightly burnt rice = fairly nice]
Sngs Alumni @ 6.12.11 { 0 comments }

 Space furniture launch party

[Space furniture launch party]
Sngs Alumni @ 6.12.11 { 0 comments }

 Saying goodbye

After 5 years, I think I can safely say I've given up on completing it.

[Saying goodbye]
Sngs Alumni @ 6.12.11 { 0 comments }

mardi, novembre 29, 2011

 Enneagram Test

So I took this test called the Enneagram http://www.enneagraminstitute.com/dis_sample_36.asp, and it showed that I was mostly Type One:

THE REFORMER Enneagram Type One
Enneagram One

The Rational, Idealistic Type:
Principled, Purposeful, Self-Controlled, and Perfectionistic

For more about the meaning of the arrows, see below.

Type One in Brief

Ones are conscientious and ethical, with a strong sense of right and wrong. They are teachers, crusaders, and advocates for change: always striving to improve things, but afraid of making a mistake. Well-organized, orderly, and fastidious, they try to maintain high standards, but can slip into being critical and perfectionistic. They typically have problems with resentment and impatience. At their Best: wise, discerning, realistic, and noble. Can be morally heroic.
  • Basic Fear: Of being corrupt/evil, defective
  • Basic Desire: To be good, to have integrity, to be balanced
  • Enneagram One with a Nine-Wing: "The Idealist"
  • Enneagram One with a Two-Wing: "The Advocate"
Key Motivations: Want to be right, to strive higher and improve everything, to be consistent with their ideals, to justify themselves, to be beyond criticism so as not to be condemned by anyone.

The Meaning of the Arrows (in brief)

When moving in their Direction of Disintegration (stress), methodical Ones suddenly become moody and irrational at Four. However, when moving in their Direction of Integration (growth), angry, critical Ones become more spontaneous and joyful, like healthy Sevens. For more information, click here.

Type One Overview

We have named personality type One The Reformer because Ones have a “sense of mission” that leads them to want to improve the world in various ways, using whatever degree of influence they have. They strive to overcome adversity—particularly moral adversity—so that the human spirit can shine through and make a difference. They strive after “higher values,” even at the cost of great personal sacrifice.
History is full of Ones who have left comfortable lives to do something extraordinary because they felt that something higher was calling them. During the Second World War, Raoul Wallenburg left a comfortable middle-class life to work for the protection of thousands of European Jews from invading Nazis. In India, Gandhi left behind his wife and family and life as a successful lawyer to become an itinerant advocate of Indian independence and non-violent social changes. Joan of Arc left her village in France to restore the throne to the Dauphin and to expel the English from the country. The idealism of each of these Ones has inspired millions.
Ones are people of practical action—they wish to be useful in the best sense of the word. On some level of consciousness, they feel that they “have a mission” to fulfill in life, if only to try their best to reduce the disorder they see in their environment.
Although Ones have a strong sense of purpose, they also typically feel that they have to justify their actions to themselves, and often to others as well. This orientation causes Ones to spend a lot of time thinking about the consequences of their actions, as well as about how to keep from acting contrary to their convictions. Because of this, Ones often persuade themselves that they are “head” types, rationalists who proceed only on logic and objective truth. But, the real picture is somewhat different: Ones are actually activists who are searching for an acceptable rationale for what they feel they must do. They are people of instinct and passion who use convictions and judgments to control and direct themselves and their actions.
In the effort to stay true to their principles, Ones resist being affected by their instinctual drives, consciously not giving in to them or expressing them too freely. The result is a personality type that has problems with repression, resistance, and aggression. They are usually seen by others as highly self- controlled, even rigid, although this is not how Ones experience themselves. It seems to them that they are sitting on a cauldron of passions and desires, and they had better “keep the lid on” lest they and everyone else around them regret it.
Cassandra is a therapist in private practice who recalls the difficulty this caused her in her youth.
“I remember in high school getting feedback that I had no feelings. Inside, I felt my feelings intensely and yet I just couldn’t let them out as intensely as I felt them. Even now, if I have a conflict with a friend and need to address an issue, I rehearse ahead of time how to express clearly what I want, need, and observe, and yet, not be harsh or blaming in my anger which is often scathing.”
Ones believe that being strict with themselves (and eventually becoming “perfect”) will justify them in their own eyes and in the eyes of others. But by attempting to create their own brand of perfection, they often create their own personal hell. Instead of agreeing with the statement in Genesis that God saw what He had created, “and it was good,” Ones intensely feel that “It wasn’t—there obviously have been some mistakes here!” This orientation makes it difficult for them to trust their inner guidance—indeed, to trust life—so Ones come to rely heavily on their superego, a learned voice from their childhood, to guide them toward “the greater good” which they so passionately seek. When Ones have gotten completely entranced in their personality, there is little distinction between them and this severe, unforgiving voice. Separating from it and seeing its genuine strengths and limitations is what growth for Ones is about.
(from The Wisdom of the Enneagram, p. 99-100)

[Enneagram Test]
Sngs Alumni @ 29.11.11 { 0 comments }

vendredi, novembre 25, 2011

 Cambridge bungalow for sale £2.5m neg: Pictureque & convenient

Hello! I am helping my aunt advertise her amazing home for sale. I'm listing it here just in case anyone reading is (1) interested in buying this place, or (2) can help me forward it to someone whom you think would be interested.

It's an amazing house - I stay there when I visit Cambridge (too few times for my liking), and we're all heartbroken that she's got to sell it (because it's so pretty!) but all the kids - my cousins - are all grown up and moved, so she wants to move closer to them so visiting isn't such a hassle.

Address: 14 Barrow Road, which is along Trumpington Rd. It leads (if I remember correctly) all the way to King's College's greens, which to me will always be remembered as the "Harry Potter learning quiddich place in the film" - a long name, but a fond memory. 1,538 sq m (or 16,555 sq ft) of pure bliss!

Pictures you say? Here:

And here's the details if you're seriously interested (or are reading this from an ad somewhere):

Cambridge bungalow for sale £2.5m neg: Pictureque & convenient
This is a lovely pictureque and spacious 1930s home on Barrow Rd (off Trumpington Rd) - I know because I've stayed here! Prime residential area on a private road on the south side of Cambridge town.

Cambridge University within cycling distance (or a pleasant 2 mile walk!)
Private schools St Faiths and Perse Prep within easy walking distance.

Addenbrooks Hospital, Botanic Gardens close by.
Local shopping centres located at Trumpington.

One hour away from London.
20 mins away from Stansted airport.

Moving to be closer to children.

This is a family accommodation on two floors. Ground floor has reception hall, sitting room, and south-facing dining room that looks out into the mature garden (it has a fruiting mulberry tree!)

Ground floor: Garage, Reception Hall, Cloakroom, Kitchen, Pantry, Dining Room, Sitting Room,
Breakfast Room, Conservatory, WC1
Second floor: Bedroom 1-5, WC2, Bathroom, Study, Storeroom 1 & 2

Ann LIM (+65) 94389284 (Singapore)
Mrs KERR at +44-(0)1223-312-067 (Cambridge)

[Cambridge bungalow for sale £2.5m neg: Pictureque & convenient]
Sngs Alumni @ 25.11.11 { 0 comments }

jeudi, novembre 17, 2011

 Authenticity: Becoming, never Being

Tonight at Kennel Nights (edition 004), we spoke about Authenticity - being honest, true to oneself, following one's passion, and responsibility. The scene was set amidst Dempsey's lush greenery - in the old barracks building. The mood: intimate, almost confessional. A wonderful jazz saxophone player from Australia (moonlighting as a student in SMU) started the evening with a stripped down version of What A Wonderful World - and with that, the evening began.

Secret Speaker John was invited to initiate the discussion with his story - how he escaped the clutches of management consultancy, to running an ice yoghurt store, to a coffee house, to buying and running a design school. Unrehearsed and unassuming, his insouciant sharing led to a soul-searching session with the 20-odd participants who were in the room. What exactly is Authenticity - who do we know personally who has this quality, who doesn't, what is it, how is it responsible to the people around us, how can we live with aspects of uncertainty around us as we muddle through life - these were the questions this disparate group grappled with in this 2-hour long session (it could have been longer; I left at 10 as I had to return home to make enough Wordless Books for CEC8.)

What were my take-aways from this session? Content-wise:
1. Authenticity can be felt
2. People don't really understand the difference between authenticity and success (seems like most feel there is a trade-off between your soul and money

1. Ambience matters.
2. Moderator must ensure punctuality (on all ends)

[Authenticity: Becoming, never Being]
Sngs Alumni @ 17.11.11 { 0 comments }

mardi, novembre 15, 2011


Libellés :

Sngs Alumni @ 15.11.11 { 0 comments }

 How do I address you?

Been meaning to post this for a while - applying for a KrisFlyer account reveals the extent to which they really chap about how to address you - check out the dropdown list for the sheer plethora of titles which you can attribute to yourself! (Also says a lot about their clientele.)

Libellés :

[How do I address you?]
Sngs Alumni @ 15.11.11 { 0 comments }

samedi, novembre 12, 2011

 Julian's Wedding!

[Julian's Wedding!]
Sngs Alumni @ 12.11.11 { 0 comments }

 Skinny jeans

So I'm planning on altering an old pair of bell-bottom jeans into skinny jeans. I thought I'd hand it over to the alteration aunty, but after watching this awesome video - complete with rap soundtrack - I think this project is home DIY-able.

Wish me luck!

There are plenty others too, but this one tickled me the most, and I think the rap soundtrack won me over.

Libellés : , ,

[Skinny jeans]
Sngs Alumni @ 12.11.11 { 0 comments }

mercredi, novembre 02, 2011

 Real Steel

Lego is for wussies.

Libellés : ,

[Real Steel]
Sngs Alumni @ 2.11.11 { 0 comments }

mardi, novembre 01, 2011

 Toilet Trouble: Grout

Mix the grout (its like flour!)

Spread the grout on tiles

Use your hands to really get the grout into the holes between tiles
Leave to dry for about 30mins

Wipe away the excess grout
Leave to dry for 48hrs(2 days)

Sigh... stupid tile refused to get its groove back.

Libellés :

[Toilet Trouble: Grout]
Sngs Alumni @ 1.11.11 { 0 comments }

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