Thursday, 29 December 2011

I want to break free!

I want to break free!

To break away from the usual things I do, to break away from my comfort zone and to break away from being yet another typical father. 

I wanted to be a fantastic father to my daughter, to be in good health to hold my wife's hand till our hair turns grey and to add colours and wonderful memories to my otherwise dull and boring life.

Any suggestion what I should do in 2012? 

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

小tz and I.

My healthy lunch yesterday, clear soup with egg white, fish and lots of vegetables specifically prepared by 小tz. 

Monday, 26 December 2011

小tz and I.

Life is having 小tz squeezing next to me on sofa, hearing "Good morning daddy" and reading her a story. 

Oh... I am going to miss this super long weekends ending on Tuesday.

The perfect Christmas.

The perfect Christmas just happened 5 hours ago, viewing the beautiful city skyline, enjoying the soothing sea breeze and listening to the live Christmas songs with the 2 important ladies in my life.

What I want for Christmas is here and I had totally enjoyed it!

Friday, 23 December 2011

yt & Co.

Another limited edition pasta from yt & Co. Heard it is gone after lunch again. 


Waiting for me when I returned home last night, were pieces and pieces of Chinese New Year’s decorations. My lovely wife wanted dragons and 小tz insisted on getting flowers. Hmmm… looking forward to receive flowery dragonsss blessing come this Chinese New Year! 

Hey, Christmas is not over yet! Anybody put up Christmas Stockings? I just needed one big enough to fit an iPhone 4S. If you happened to meet Santa Claus, please remind him to drop by my place.


Nope, it’s not too early since I will be busy in the next few days. Santa will be busy and he might just drop by my house earlier. I need to be ready to open my door for him to drop THAT present into my Christmas stocking, you know.  ;P

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Be alive, it’s your life!

A motorized wheelchair driven by a 40+ year’s old man in office wear, with a boy on his lap overtakes me just now. The boy had a visibly deformed left arm. Catching up with them at the coffee shop in front, I saw the pair chatting, laughing and smiling.

Life is short and unpredictable. It is our attitudes towards life that matters.

Be alive, it’s your life!

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Right livelihood.

We live in a world full of people who have impacted our lives. People, who feed us, teach us, help us, love us and give us opportunities to grow. Not all of them are obliged or paid to do those things for us.

To those people that had helped us unconditionally in the past; we may not always have the opportunities and means to repay their kindness. Some suggested paying forward, but others wonder when, where, who and how to pay forward. Rather than cracking our head, Tara Taylor (Source: suggested using "we" as our approach when we need to make a decision.

Approaching and making decisions in life with "we" as the major consideration is crucial. If we continue to make decisions with "I" as their core consideration, there will be a day when people around us will see our true colour, our self-centered approach and selfishness. They will ultimately stop helping, supporting and cooperating with us.

"we" = they + you + him + her + I.

That's right. Not just you, him, her and not just helping one person at the expense of others around the person. Consideration ought to be given to the well-beings of others around the person you are helping. Is there any severe implication resulting from your action? When helping others in need, we tend to overtly focus on the person and forget about the implication of others resulting from our action.

I remembered in the year 2000, a friend ever shared his experience in befriending a young ex-offender serving his home detention part of his sentence. One night, his phone rang at 2am in the middle of the night. It was from the boy he was befriending. With a tired, emotionally unstable and crying voice, the boy told my friend that he was out, took drug and had broke his curfew to be home by 8pm. Knowing the boy came from a dysfunctional family, is isolated and does not have any one to turn to for help (the reason why he called my friend, even when he is well aware that my friend may report him), my friend's heart soften upon hearing his plead for help.

My friend struggled over the phone and ultimately found the determination to tell the boy that he will call the Ops Support Helpline, report his offence and advice him to surrender himself to his reporting officer. He shared that it was a difficult decision he had to make because he ended up not helping the boy. The decisive factor for reporting the boy is the importance between giving the boy a chance and the safety of the general public, the "we". The boy had committed an offence and therefore, should receive the consequences and not be sheltered. Moreover, being emotionally unstable and on drug, put the boy at a higher chance of causing harm to others around him. He said that he felt good making that choice; else he would never be able to sleep well knowing that his intention to help the boy may result in others' sufferings.

While we always say that we should help others without any expectation for returns, this is almost impossible. If we continue to help others without considerations for ourselves, we were ultimately burnt out and give up helping others all together. Before we even committed to an action, we need to ask ourselves if we are willing, have the means and ability to take the action. Then, we need to ask if the action taken by us will benefit us. The benefits we choose to receive might not necessary be tangible. It can be the satisfaction we get after the action, or even the happiness we felt after seeing the smile on the faces of those whom our action makes an impact on their life. 

Let’s all practice the right livelihood. If we are not able to help others, if we are not able pay forward, if we are not able to ensure that our decision benefits everybody, let’s just ensure that nobody suffers resulting from the decisions we made.

So anybody out there willing to made a decision that benefits me? ;P~

Friday, 16 December 2011

Passion = work = fun!

My breakfast this morning was interrupted by a voice calling me from the pavement next to the coffee shop. Turning my head, I recognise the gentleman we supported previously. "Mr Ling, good morning." shouted the gentleman, separated by a railing and a strip of grass, standing 2 meter away from where I was seated.

During our short conversation, people seated near me stare and must be wondering what happened. That did not bother the gentleman who only wanted to greet me, the usual thing he does every morning whenever he saw me. For me, while it is not publicly acceptable to shout, I was happily engrossed in the conversation to notice it till our conversation ended.

It is this kind of acknowledgement and greeting that fueled my passion. Isn't it great to have passion = work = fun?

Good morning everybody!

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Ah por and her cars.

Our first few visits to her back in the year 2001, when we started our outreach project to befriend elderly staying alone in one room HDB flats, were unsuccessful.

Fortunately on our third visit (I think, and I must admit that I am starting to forget little details like this. The reason why I started documenting my life… haha), we found her about to enter her house, managed to talk to her and arranged for our next visit.

When we arrived the next time, we saw that her door was opened but chained to leave a small gap just enough for her to see us. Looking into the unit, we saw her seating on a chair about 2 meters away, holding on to a hammer and staring towards the gap looking out at us. Her face brightens up and smiles when she saw us. Thanks to our years of watching Cantonese drama series on SBC, we were able survive the one hour plus visit and know more about her. Her life as a Samsui woman when she came to Singapore, her pride of the red hat she still keep, her bad experience of being robbed at home, the reason for holding on to the hammer and chaining up her door.

Following our first visit, we make it a point to be on time, yes, on time and not earlier for our visits. We tried to be earlier initially, only to discover that she sat herself on that chair even earlier so that she will not miss us. With her hearing lost, she is worried that she can't hear us when we knock on her door.

What I like about her is her attitude towards life and her ever lasting laughter. In our attempt to assure her that it easy for us to reach her block, my friend told her we travel by car. What’s next surprised us when she laughs and told us she is better off with 2 cars! By the word car, she meant the old rusty trolleys that she uses to support herself. One is chained next to the lift and the other kept in her house as spare. She prefers that as against a walking stick or walking frame because she looks fitter and younger, she joked. Besides, she can also use it to collect old newspapers and carton boxes along the way when she walks to sell her second-hand goods in Chinatown.

Being lonely plus the asthma, cataract, high blood pressure, frequent aching and falls, we would expect her to be sad and depressed. But no, not once did we saw her without her sweet smile, including the time when we send her to SGH A&E for emergency treatment due to her asthma attack. She never seeks help from the government and chooses to support herself thought her earnings selling the second-hand goods, old newspapers and carton boxes. She always insisted in making those delicious "kok zai" (peanuts dumping) every Chinese New Years and forced us to take it home. Her way of saying thank you to us for visiting her, bringing her for her hospital visits and reading her letters.

I had stopped visiting her when works get busy in 2006. Whenever I am near Chinatown, I will always remember her sweet smile and the delicious "kok zai". However, I do not have the courage to visit her as I fear that she may had forgotten me and I may be giving her the false hope that I will start visiting her regularly again.

Hope she is getting on fine and still have that sweet smile on her face.

Saturday, 10 December 2011


Employees really wanted:

R ecognition,
E xciting work,
S ecurity of employment,
P ay (fair pay),
E ducation and career growth,
C onditions (environment), and
T ruth in communication.

Still grumbling?

那些年… sigh. Those years when we do stupid, obviously silly, illogical things in life that people around us will never approve. Those things that will always puzzled us and make us laugh at ourselves whenever we think about it.

Well, it is not always possible for us to do things correctly the very first time for everything in life. Most of us worked with more than one company in our life time (I already did, 4 for now), some of us have more than one girlfriend before we got married (not me) and a few of us cried when failure hit us (yes, I did). The essence is not about the end product or end result, but the process of doing those things. The sweet smile we have on our faces when we recall those events in our life, and the thought that we had filled our life with the various colourful experiences.

Some of us had grumbled how unfair life had treated us, some regrets with the outcomes of their actions and others held on to the single success and forgotten that life still continues. In reality, we ought to be grateful as we were given the choice and the right to fight for what we wanted in life.

With excuses to protect people with disabilities and illnesses, some of us had deprived them of their rights to choose what they wanted in life. Many were deprived of the choice on the school to attend, the job to take, to even the smallest details of their daily schedules. What is life when everything is controlled, when you never experience failures and when you need to ask permission for everything you do? What is life when you will never learn because you are not given a chance to fail and learn from your mistake?

So are we still grumbling about life?

Sunday, 4 December 2011


Passing by River Valley Road a few months ago, I discovered that one of the first few buildings I managed for waterproofing subcontract works in 1995 was gone. Sigh... 那些年 (those years) when Singapore Expo is still at Vivo City and not at Changi / Expo MRT Station (yt, 3 Dec 2011) 的日子. Quoting what my lovely wife said last night, time flies.

The building was special to me because in addition to being the first few projects I managed; it is also the first project that I got the workers to let me try flame-bonding 2 pieces of bituminous membranes together. I was visiting the site during a Sunday and out of curiosity to understand how the work is done, I demanded the workers to let me try. They reluctantly agreed, found an area under the shade of an adjacent taller building, position the membranes and carry the gas cylinder and torch over. The work seems much tougher than what I read on paper and after 30 minutes of trying, I decided to go for my coffee break.

I met our supervisor and foreman at the canteen and follow them back to the roof top to highlight a few mistakes I discovered. When we were up on the roof top, I immediately discovered that the workers had patched the area I worked on earlier with a new piece of membrane, perfectly bonded. My work must be so terrible that the workers worried it will fail the water test and redo it again.

Before I could talk about it, the Supervisor started scolding the Foreman, and then the Foreman turned and scolded the workers. Reducing wastages, a practice I so often preach to maintain profitability of the project. I swear I did apologize for causing that wastage of material, but nobody believed in what I said. I felt bad, really bad for involving the workers and seeing them receiving scolding for the mistake I made.

Ever since that day, I make sure that if I made mistakes, I owned up, apologize and not let others suffer on my behalf. Recently, while helping my colleagues who were dispatched to handle other issues, a mistake occurred and I wrote an email to our working partners, copied to their reporting officer and my colleagues, apologizing for the mistake and thank them for helping out on their side. I believed this time, everybody believes because it was sent using my email account. Haha...

Be it 12 years ago or now, going to the ground occasionally, hands-on and doing the work helps us to be a better planner. If not for that experience 12 years ago, I will never feel the difficulties of what is written on the method statement of "bonding 2 pieces of bituminous membranes together...". Now I am aware that it equates to getting the workers to carry the tools and gas cylinder, climbing 7 storeys on unfinished flight of stairs and working non-stop for at least 4 hours under the hot sun without breaks (which I lasted less than 30 minutes under shades). It had enabled me to have a better understanding when I plan the work schedules and make work arrangements, taking into account the golden period when workers are more alert to start on work which requires more concentration.

While we should get our hands dirty once awhile to experience the work on the ground, we should be mindful that we can never get the true experience of the workers. Examples include the specially chosen shaded work area I had and the magical appearance of the tools and gas cylinder 12 years ago, to the super cooperative reception I experienced now. Due to the nature of our position and work, it will be difficult to duplicate the exact scenario. Nonetheless, it provides us with some experience and understanding, and prepares us to be more receptive to the feedback from the ground.

In the same way, people on the ground should also be cautioned not to expect the frequent appearance and perfect performance of people on the planning board. In order for the team to function, we need different people to focus and work on the different roles. People on the planning board were engaged for their skills in managing and not doing the physical work. I can keep trying and I will never be able to carry a gas cylinder up 7 storeys. But that does not mean I am not good, neither does it meant I don't care about the workers. It is equally important to take note that the time we spent on the ground is also at the expense of our time to be on the planning board, to coordinates and move the team forward.

Friday, 2 December 2011

Living with limited resources, I learnt!

My Samsung Galaxy Mini is much better than iphone 4S and Samsung Galaxy S2! In addition to the functions that is compatible to both phones, it is also capable of teaching me the concept of opportunity cost, the importance of resource allocation and remind me to be constantly on a lookout for innovative ways to do more with less resources. Great Right!? This is such s wonderful phone that teaches me how to survive in the real world out there where resources are always not enough? ;-)

Right, I am complaining having to maximize 160MB of internal memory with apps to fulfill my work and entertainment needs. Will there be any kind soul out there? I will be good, I promise. I will be happy with just iphone 4 or Samsung Galaxy S. :-P

Now, that's my music!

Love jazz, hate rock.

Thanks to my former secondary school band instructor and an old friend, I was given the opportunity to listen to a variety of music. I had always enjoyed listening to jazz and get frustrated with rock. Maybe it's my character, maybe affected by the approach I adopted in life, or maybe as simple as my misunderstanding that had resulted in me loving jazz and hating rock music. 


Listening to rock music, one must be prepared to face with blast after blast of explosions with each instrument trying to be louder than the other. There is no break, no slowing down, no changing in tempo and one must be expected to face that for the entire duration of the music. 

Jazz give people a very soothing feeling, the thought that the pieces are well planned with the idea to prepare its audience towards its highlights. There is a mixture of highs and lows within each pieces of jazz, as if it understands that its audience requires a mixture of pace, excitement and be given time to rest and in preparation to enjoy its highlight. Even when it's low are presented in a fast tempo, one can feel that it is communicative, empowering, involving and never pushy.


Most jazz pieces have a segment for improvisation where the lead musician choose how and what he likes to play. There is only guided time frame for the musician to present his or her creativity. There are no music scores, no preference nor limitation in the octave chosen. This somehow added to the enjoyment and fun in listening to jazz, where the same piece can sound differently when it's played at different locations, at different time and/or by different musicians. Interestingly, that segment for improvisation need not be handed by a particular instrument; the same segment can be presented with improvisation by the saxophone, the vocal, the bass, the piano and even the drum set.

With rock, the musicians tend to follow a strict music score, tempo and approach. Musicians are hardly allowed to improvise. While this ensures standardization, it curbs creativity and therefore limits the presentation and marketability of the music.


Typically with rock, the leader of the band set the tempo and stops the band towards the end the music. It is common to hear the drummer hitting 4 beats or the leader shouting the beat to start the music. 

Jazz had a slightly different approach in my opinion. There are variations where different instrument leads with different style on different pieces. Sometimes it started with the drummer providing the basic beats, sometimes the saxophone will start with an improvisation and sometimes the vocal will leads the audience to start the piece in unconventional ways. With jazz, it is always the official leader taking a back seat, facilitating and leading the team to decide whom to be the leader and in what approach or style should the music be represented.


There is always the blurring of sound in rock music; possibility resulted from the loudness of the pieces and the intention for each instrument to be louder than each other. It is difficult to differentiate the instruments and notice how each contributed towards the formation of the music.

I am always amazed by the ability to clearly listen, the contribution of each instrument and yet fascinated by the end result in jazz. Whenever there is a segment for improvisation, the other instruments carry out the supportive roles of providing the basic rhythm in a subtle and non intrusive manner. This gives the lead instrument the freedom and opportunity to improvise.

Now, that's my music.