Saturday, September 27, 2014

ACM Friday Evening Lecture: "East Indies – The English East India Company and the Founding of Singapore" by Ian Burnet

the talk was largely an outline of his book: which was arranged according to Portugese, Spanish, Dutch and English and the ports that control in the Indian Ocean, SEA, up to Hong Kong and Nagasaki. He talked quite a bit about the the Dutch VOC and EIC, and also on the founding the Singapore and the efforts of Raffles and Farquhar. Some interesting points: The Opium trade in Riau Islands. English country traders (the same ones who ship opium from India to China) would trade opium, guns and gun powder to Malaya and Riau for spices and tin (from Bangka) which they also ship to Canton. I didn’t know that the Bugis laid siege to Malacca in 1784. Dutch broke that siege and went on to capture Tanjong Pinang in Riau. I asked Burnet if EIC sent their elite and best people out to the East Indies, or do they sent the expendable riff raff. He said that the bulk of the EIC hierarchy would be based in Calcutta. it was certainly true that the more remote the station the more “expendable” ones would be sent there. But he added that there were certainly capable EIC officials in the East Indies, like Raffles and Francis Light

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

running a marathon

I completed my first marathon (Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore) in VFF (Vibram FiveFingers), that is like running barefoot with just a thin 3mm rubber sole. The route was great! Starting at 5am in the dark along Orchard Road outside Ion and Wisma Atria, running past Singapore Flyer, Marina Bay Sands (MBS), Nicoll Highway, with a torturous 15K along East Coast Park (ECP), baking in the sun along the Marina reclaimed land where we used to visit for beach vegetation field trips (now the Gardens by the Bay and Marina Barrage). crawling up Sheares Bridge at 37K was a killer (Tommy can attest to that!), and morale sapping when you can see the dome of City Hall behind MBS which meant the finishing point at the Padang. I could only walk up the slope muttering curses at the evil route planners.

I saw plenty of casualties along the marathon route. The first aid station along ECP had plenty of business as young ones "sprinted" for the first 21K and were cramping up or injured by then. Several stretcher occupants were seen at the casualty collection point at the Marina Barrage, including one Ang Moh on drip, must be the heat and dehydration. Plenty of people fall out during 2nd half of the marathon, especially after the sun came up with a fury after 11am; it was quite pleasant and cloudy prior to that. Found a young man who was in obvious distress at a bus stop along Marina Boulevard. He was in tears, probably affected by the heat and pain of the distances. I asked him for his name to check that he was not disorientated from heat exhaustion and asked the medical volunteers to monitor him. But the young man recovered enough to insist on continuing. I hope he managed to finish the run.

Finishing at a granny pace, meant that I spent the last part of the run with both ends of the age spectrum, with folks either twice or half my age. There were many seniors citizens including contingents from Korea, Japan, Thailand, one old man from Sarawak and a couple of Filipinos. Hats off to them! I will be glad if I can still do the marathon at their age. There were many young kids of Poly and University age and quite a few dragon-boaters. Managed to overhear snatches of disgruntled conversations from the young boys and girls, many of whom had not trained for the marathon. Some of them tried to encourage each other to forge on, since they could not get the finisher T-shirt and medals if they did not reach the finish line. It was a small consolation that I was not the only one suffering!

Only managed to spot two barefoot runners (one young NS age boy and one uncle in his fifties), and no other VFF spotted (maybe they were way ahead of me?). Spotted a barefoot running team from Terra Plana, judging from the shoes. They were running in a group tied up together in ropes, running and walking in intervals. Must be some strange ritual or masochistic training method?

Just in front of finishing line, spotted a Malay couple that I noticed at the beginning of the race at Maxwell Road; the wife was wearing tudong and longs. Kudoes to her since I was already melting in the heat. I helped them take a photo before the finishing arch and then ran painfully the last 50m! After the end point, spotted a single amputee who ran in a "Blade Runner" prosthetic (respect!). I remember watching the South African double amputee, Oscar Pistorius run in the Beijing Paralympics in 2008, and he was faster than many athletes running on two legs!

Managed to hobble from the Padang end point to Raffles City where I guzzled down a cup of coffee to cure my withdrawal symptoms. I missed my usual morning cup after waking up late for the race (big mistake!). two days after the race, my muscle aches were largely gone, with only slightly swollen ankles. Ever since converting to VFF, my knee pain is gone! I used to be reminded by a stab of pain from my knees whenever I reach 5K mark, more accurate than a pedometer! So the ultimate test for my VFF was this marathon, thankfully I felt no pain in my knees during this marathon or the earlier Army Half in September.

This year happens to be the 2500th anniversary of the Battle of Marathon, between the Athenian Greeks and Persians; and the reason behind Pheidippides running from Athens to Sparta, and later from Marathon to Athens. it's as good a reason for me to bake in the sun and run a marathon...

Thursday, April 29, 2010

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Tuesday, September 08, 2009

lunch today

went out for groceries and bought lunch back.

cheese burger from Five Guys. toppings are free, asked for grilled onions, mushrooms and jalapeno peppers. their burger is better than Carl Jr! didn't get their fries though, even though it is quite good! the problem is that their portion is so big that I will be OD on fries alone.

they serve free peanuts which I think is to encourage thirsty customers to buy coca cola and other soda drinks. which is relatively ex around $2 to $3 depending on size.

bought Utz potato chips from supermarket which I was told, is quite good!

Friday, August 28, 2009

new habitat

this will be my main habitat over the next 9 months! Johns Hopkins SAIS is a city campus like SMU, spread over several buildings in downtown DC.

after the first week of classes, I am adjusting back to the grad student frame of mind. going through readings of chapters and papers before each class. before long, I should be bog down with term papers and assignments...oh joy! the classes I'm taking are challenging and interesting, hope to update myself and learn more...

compared to the MA students (who are mostly fresh from college), we mid career people are generally older than the younglings...but I am finding out that I'm still learning new things from the young padawans...

Monday, April 27, 2009

aware of AWARE

Like most Singaporeans, I had been "aware" of AWARE and the good work of Constance Singam and Dr Kanwaljit Soin. until this recent "brouhaha", AWARE has always been there at the back of our minds. for most of us, it was just good to know that they were there, even though we might not be familiar with their day to day work or need their help. It was enough that we know that women’s issues in Singapore is well covered.

During one of our home visits back to Singapore, Robina’s ex-work friend X (not a close friend, only an acquaintance I would say) shared her family problems. Turns out that her husband had gone astray (ran away with Thai prostitute). Now X and husband were fighting for their children’s custody and the family flat (husband wanna sell). According to X, her husband has been violent (as in physically hit her).

However X , being a Christian, refused to divorce the cad. despite counselling from their pastor, the husband insisted on divorce. What was more shocking was when she told Robina that she had attempted suicide before. she was convinced that she could not win custody of her kids. I think X was using suicide to "convince" her errant husband to return. Robina heard from X that she was hiding her separation from her close friends. they were told that the husband was working overseas. This might explain why X poured out her troubles to Robina; while she could provide a listening ear since she was not from X's close circle of friends. all in all, it was a cry for help.

Even when Robina was still talking with X, she called me to check AWARE phone number (a quick google search). She referred X to AWARE. Robina thought that AWARE would be better placed to advise her friend on the legal issues as well as counsel her psychologically. We didn't know if X did seek out AWARE, I hope she did.

Singapore needs a group to champion women's issues. It should remain secular. Women who need help must have an avenue for assistance, and should not be discriminated for their sexual orientation, beliefs or creed. In the immortal words of Depeche Mode, "People are people, So why should it be, You and I should get along so awfully".

Sunday, April 26, 2009

chicken weekend

we made chicken rice and two batches of grilled chicken over the weekend. now OD over chicken!
chicken stock for the rice.
two chicken legs: for plain boiled chicken
grilled chicken marinated in Home Gourmet Chicken Kai Yang spices.
boiled pork ribs for Sally. it came from the lotus root soup, with scallops and dried cuttlefish
for carbo: Sally is having brown rice with shitake mushrooms

Alvin's spiel

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