Thursday, May 31, 2007

Off to Hanoi

Be back on Saturday...

Saturday, May 26, 2007


Two days ago, we handed over a cheque that would allow us to rent a two-bedroom apartment for two years. The condo is in Serangoon, some five minutes walk from Serangoon MRT Station, and is named Sunglade. It's got this funky resort-type pool that's really novel. Gym, sauna, tennis court. The station is about five stops away from the office (excluding the unopened cemetery stop, Woodleigh). Twenty-minutes tops, and I heard it's less crowded. The trip is an improvement of three stops from where I am currently. It's smaller than the one we're residing in now, Astoria Park. I'd like to think that there's less extra space instead.

For those I've invited over to Singapore and stay at my place, I'm afraid I haven't got a lot of room for visitors for the next two years. You may have to sleep on the couch. And if we're really close, you can sleep on my bed (and me on the couch, natch).


The other day as well, I got a hold of the final two season three episodes of LOST. Season three has been widely criticised as being the creative mind's idea of mailing it in. It got dangerously uninteresting and unengaging in the middle, especially during that hiatus they took last January.

BUT, without spoiling it for you. I'd just like to share this personal opinion: The last three episodes (four if you split the finale two-hour ep into two) were classic LOST. "The Man Behind the Curtain" added yet even more buzz and theories to the entire LOST mythology. "Greatest Hits" was heartwarming and redeemed one of the most boring characters on the show and made him likable. The finale, "Through the Looking Glass" is two superb hours of great TV that singlehandedly restored the viewer's -- dare I say it -- faith in the series and franchise.

See you and Jack's beard in seven months for season four.


Finally, the Great Singapore Sale has officially started yesterday and runs through July 22.

I've struck first blood by buying two pairs of office pants from G2000 that are marked down 30% WITH an additional 20% for using a DBS card.

There's a festive mood here since shopping is one of the national sports in the little red dot.

Not only that, next week we'll have the PC Show in Suntec, yet even more gadgets! May 31 to June 3.

So, come on over.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

It's About Time

Blizzard has announced Starcraft 2. It should be done in a few months or so.

Brings me back to the old days around 1998 or so when Starcraft arrived on the scene. Great gameplay, great sounds, great visuals. Great game, maybe one of the greatest ever released for the PC. Consistently in the list of Greatest Ever (Gamespot, IGN). The strategy was excellent. You had a choice between quantity and quality. You try out build orders like you were wine-tasting or trying out shoes. It works much like a chess game you lose when you make a few wrong moves, and yet until the very end, you still had a chance. And of course, a hallmark of a classic, you won't really get tired playing even until now.

And this thing is a phenomenon in Korea (South, naturally. They're only allowed to build workers in the North.). They cover tournaments like they do with football or basketball. So it is appropriate that they in fact announced SC2 in Worldwide Invitational (WWI) in South Korea.

I wasn't too bad a player myself. I play Zerg and you'll be sure that I will swarm all over your Terran or Protoss ass using various sentient insects.


The Simpsons reach 400 episodes.

I must confess I probably haven't seen much after 300. So do I turn in my fan badge and slingshot?

According to this, they've yet to jump the shark. I just don't have time to watch it regularly. I don't even think they show new episodes regularly here.


Last two payments for my laptop.


Monday, May 14, 2007

In Return

I got a letter today from Singapore's Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA), informing me that I am eligible to apply for permanent residence (PR or SPR) status.

I've been thinking about this since before I came here. And this is what I cooked up so far:

  • Central Provident Fund (pension plan)
  • No need to be employed to stay in the country (no need for work passes or visas)
  • Able to set up business
  • Fewer restrictions on purchasing property
  • etc, etc...
  • National Service Liability (male children of PR will have to take part in National Service from age 16 to 40(!))
  • Tropical, humid weather 365 days a year
  • Cable TV is boring
  • Cost of living is rising
  • etc, etc...
What do you think?


Also, I've received my tax assessment for the year 2006. It's oh, oh, oh-so-low compared to other countries I've heard of. Philippines and India hovers to 30%, UK and Canada around 40%. In Singapore? Let's just say that they are fewer digits in the percentage, depending of course on the tax bracket.


I honestly don't know how long I plan to stay here, or if it's for good. Anyway, I don't have to decide yet. But the sooner the better. I kind of hate plans as of now.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Happy Mum's Day

Got a microSD card for my cellphone (which originally came with a lame 128 MB card). The official, retail store price hovers around $34.00 for 1GB (Challenger in VivoCity). I had to check Lucky Plaza for some better deals. In my opinion, Lucky Plaza is one of the most ruthless shopping places for clueless people. They WILL give you bad deals if you have not done your homework. Sim Lim Square is similar to a lesser extent, but has more choices.

Anyway, it hovered from $28 to 60-something dollars, depending on who you talk to. I had to scour almost the entire building. The idea, was simply to get something lower than the retail store $34. In the end, I got a $30 Kingston (the $28 one was Sandisk). Being patient pays off.


Got back to playing basketball last Wednesday. Two quick sprints at the start of the game, and I've already lost breath. Shame, shame, shame. Thank God for second wind.

Shooting's terrible.
Ballhandling's novice.
Stealing's still there.
Passing's not bad.

Need a lot of work to do. But I think the jersey I wore was excellent, which should count for something.

3 small injuries, and an almost-cramp from that session.


Speaking of jersey, Noel and I made a bet on the Eastern semi-finals series of New Jersey vs Cleveland. He goes with Nets, I go Cavs. The non-winning party gets to buy the winner an NBA swingman jersey. Simple enough. Right now, it's 2-1 Cavs.

Go Cavs!
Go Warriors!


Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby is much, much better than Blades of Glory. But Jenna Fischer is a bit more girl-next-door than Leslie Bibb. Jon Heder, while funny, is no Sacha Baron Cohen.


Finally, Happy Mother's Day to my mom!

I hope the monthly remittance will more than make up for carrying me for nine months. (Just kidding!) I love you, ma!

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Out with the old, in with the Nokia 6300

My almost one year love affair with the O2 XDA Atom ended last Sunday. It was the first big purchase for me in Singapore, ringing up to around S$1200, if I recall correctly. I got tired with it around December and has rarely been used since. First and foremost reason is that it's quite a brick to keep in the pocket. (Makes for good conversation, "why yes, that IS an XDA in my pocket"). Second important reason is that PDA/XDAs allow you only around a day or a day and a half of battery life before you have to charge it again.

Anyway, I like to keep it simple. So I chose to trade it in with a Nokia 6300.

It's quite a basic phone with FM Radio, MicroSD memory, bluetooth, 2MP camera. Nothing really fancy by today's standards. After the $300 value of my XDA, I just added $98 for it and $8 more for a screen protector.

I've been using it for a few days now. I like it a lot.


I'm reading this fascinating book, The Tipping Point. I'm halfway through it. Really good stuff.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Spider-Man 3: The Rant

It's around one AM and I just got home from a 9:45 PM screening of one of the big 2007 summer blockbusters, Spider-Man 3.

I'm trying to write this blog entry before I read any reviews. I tend to read a couple of critic reviews after I watch a film, just to see if I've missed something. It turns out that sometimes, it affects my recall of the experience in such a way that it may alter my opinion in some way. So just to keep me honest, this rant/review is all me.

I'll try to keep this spoiler-free.

OK. First thing's first. Spider-Man was good, Spider-Man 2 was excellent, Spider-Man 3 was not bad, but not very good either.

[Here be spoilers (what just after one paragraph?!)]

Things I like about it:
  • Bryce Dallas Howard - I've seen The Village and The Lady in the Water (unfortunately) and just who turned this lady into a hotchick?!?! Good lord, was she smokin' in this one. I didn't really know that she'd play Gwen Stacy. I might have seen that somewhere, but not really remembered. So when I saw her name on the credits, I thought, "ok, how will that work out?" Well, it DID work out. And sure as this movie blew the box-office wide open, she'll be back in the next installment.
  • James Cromwell - Not a big role here, but I just plain like this actor from Farmer Hoggett to Zephram Cochran. Should lend his talents to future installments.
Oh god, off the top of my head, those were the things I liked. Dismal, really. Let's get to...

Things which are pretty much OK:
  • Characters/Actors doing their thing - Aunt May, J. Jonah Jameson, Robbie Robertson, Miss Brant, The professor guy, Uncle Ben, etc.
  • The Black suit - In the comic books, the suit was plain black, with white eyes and a white Spider-Man logo on the chest and that was good minimalism. This movie version was just his costume on monochrome, as you may have seen on the promo materials. Makes sense. Ive got nothing on the detailed suit.
  • The Sandman/ Flint Marko - OK, not bad. Loved the actor in Sideways, by the way.
  • The opening credits - You knew, watching the opening credits of Spider-Man 2 that that movie was going to be special. Alex Ross painted scenes from the first movie, brilliant. It was like looking at the first movie with a new set of eyes. In this one, actual clips from the previous two movies, it's more of like cheating. Not bad, but obviously somebody ran out of ideas.
  • The length of the movie - clocking in at two and a quarter hours, pretty much expected from a high-budget blockbuster. Wouldn't really have expected any less.

Things I hate about it (in no particular order):
  • Topher Grace/Eddie Brock/Eric Forman/Venom - I've got nothing against this guy. I like him in That 70s Show, Traffic, even cameos in Ocean's Eleven and Twelve. But he is simply not what I had in mind when I thought of Eddie Brock and Venom. I might be thinking of bulked-up Eddie Brock on steroids like in the comics, but certainly not this pimply-faced retro kid (dumbass!). In retrospect, it may have been better to cast this guy as Carnage instead if ever that comes along.
  • The drama - Where the hell is the action? Keep the drama brief except when it makes sense.
  • The comedy - The first two installments have bits of comedy. But this is just a mess. Plain idiotic at times. And the dancing, ugh.
  • The Evil Peter Parker look - Star Trek's Spock character revolutionized the way good and evil were depicted on screen. Good Spock: normal-looking. Evil Spock: normal-looking with goatee. In this movie, Good Peter Parker: normal-looking. Evil Peter Parker: crazy-eyed looking with bangs.
  • The Green Goblin II / New Goblin (as he is called in IMDB) - the change of heart, the acting, the costume, the amnesia, the steal-your-girlfriend angle. Doesn't work really.
  • The story. Black Spiderman? Venom? Sandman? Gwen Stacy? How could you go wrong? Oh wait.

Anyway, this is just me. I've gotta go read some reviews.

Oh, and go watch Spider-Man 3. It's probably not as bad as I think it is. ;)

Tuesday, May 01, 2007


It's almost been a year for me over here. It also means that our yearlong contract in this apartment we're renting is just about over. We recently learned that the owner is selling the apartment. So we may have to move out in two months.

To where? Who knows. Way up north? Way out west? Further East?

Rents are skyrocketing. Either we fork up more rental money or move to a more affordable nesting spot. So we've got around eight weeks to look again. But this time, we've got furniture to haul as well.

We might not be in any shape to accept visitors until then. The owner's agent frequently asks for time during the night for a potential buyer to view the apartment. That's been happening for the past week. Imagine me sitting, watching TV. And strangers go inside your room, peek at your cabinets, bathroom, bedroom, walking back and forth talking and whispering. At one time, the grandfather of one of the viewing families asked me if the sun shines straight inside or in a slant.

In a slant; the windows face southwest towards the city. Armed with feng shui compasses, they examine the unit. It takes all fifteen minutes but they usually come twice or thrice in a given night. Anyway, soon it'll be our turn to view other's apartments.

Let's hope the next one is as good as this one, which was superb to begin with.


Kuala Lumpur
Siem Reap

Hanoi's still on, as far as I know.

Yesterday, I've been handed out an invitation to go to Hong Kong by a friend this weekend(!) After considering for a while, I decided that while it's tempting and just about within a stretched budget, it wouldn't be practical. Sorry, dear. Saving up for a big trip later this year.


Met up with the Kid today. Welcome to Singapore! Have a good career!

Told me of an old friend that I failed to inform of by move to Singapore. I'll find a way to reconnect with him. We go waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay back. As in first day of (prep) school way back. I shit you not.

Went to Courts Megastore today. Will it be the Nintendo Wii, The Xbox 360 or the PS3?


Golden State Warriors up 3-1 against the best of the regular season, The Dallas Mavericks. High energy, very emotional games. ALL HEART. Go Warriors! I believe!

Guess who's also rootin' for the Warriors. You can-NOT go wrong with this fan around.