Monthly Archives: April 2014
Went to Gardens by the Bay two days in a row (Sat and Sun 19 and 20 Apr) … why? because we could not get to see the tulips on Saturday evening as the Flower Dome is lighted by natural light and we only went after dinner (@satay club, if possible avoid the live seafood stall cos quality is bad ..!! only plus point is can get seats and be served).
Armed with the knowledge to visit Flower Dome during the day time, we went again on Sunday. While it was fairly crowded, it was still “OK” as the place was big enough … the tulips were in brilliant hues and worth our effort to visit (especially as YC and SM had never visited the flower dome before).
The other plants were somewhat overshadowed by the tulips, but they are interesting in their own right and worth a closer look too!!
It is so uncanny … just a few days earlier, I was having a “counselling” session during a tuition session (yup, the whole 1.5 hr of it!) and one of the key messages was on the need to be focussed!!! Then comes this Facebook post from Dennis, who had just discovered that his talk @TEDx at VJC last year had been put up on Youtube. The title of the talk suggests that it may pay to “lose focus”, which seems to be opposed to the usual advice to “be focussed”.
So, at the same time that the talk resonated with me (in terms of “serendipity”, “leaving one’s comfort zone”, to not become “stagnant”, and to also “look around” and not be overly focussed on the subject at hand, and to seek and make use of opportunities when they present themselves), the important thing is to know that “the art” of “losing focus” and being “in focus” are not contradictory.
Like many things in life, we must know “when?”, “what?”, “how?”, “why?”. The title of the talk, “THE ART” of losing focus” is illuminating – there is no single “right” answer as to its application, or to the when, what, how, why questions.
Just attended my first dizi lesson at Eason Music School@Rochor Centre on Wednesday 9 April, 11 am … instructor is a young person in his 20s who is already “semi-retired” – has a business going (not sure in what), wants to stop his diploma studies (“what’s the point?”, although pursuing some Masters in music?), and teaching dizi “for fun” … pretty cool, right?!
In the 45 min lesson, learnt lots – did the scales, got to play “Mary had a little lamb” using three notes – do, ray and mi; which literally took my breath away, haha!
Yup, decided really must attend some lessons to get going for this “fifty before 50 thing” rather than self learn, cos am a total newbie. Very glad I did (replaces my motorbike lessons :), now that I’ve passed and gotten my bike license!)!
For some weeks now, have been playing table tennis at Ang Mo Kio CC on Thursday mornings after my short morning run at Bishan Park … this is now an “official” group that meets regularly every week on Tue, Thu and Saturday from 9:30 am to about 11 am (“official” = group can be found on the PA course website, LOL! and all are welcome to register to join in, but actually no need to lah, just drop by and play)
Who are the people in the group? Well, there’s myself and CL (an ex-NY colleague), plus another 5 or so people each time who are regulars on Thursdays (yah, I only have time to go once a week) – not sure if all are retired or something like that but we all play at about the same standard and use two tables (one table for singles or 2 versus 1, another for doubles, and one person who is the IC whom we usually see just hanging around).
Three of them are also regulars at the qigong group (meets Mon, Wed, Fri morning) at the bird singing park (near AMK Ave 4, very famous bird singing gathering place if you know your birds, quite fascinating on weekends to see the gathering) and L, who is also my classmate at the chinese painting class was the one who introduced me to both of these groups (qigong and table tennis).
Yah, and every session is a very good workout (sure to sweat buckets); glad to pick up the bat once again, after all these years … oh, and turns out that many of us were former school players (myself, CL and L included!)
Pottery wheel version 2.0 … as predicted, the first pottery wheel I made (using the *PW approach) did not last very long. After making another tall vase, (see below)
the wooden axle became a bit more worn out and the wheel started to become wobbly … luckily, I managed to complete the vase before it became unusable. To recycle the parts, I dismantled it:
In version 2, I decided that it was better to attach the top surface to a fan, and then find a way to stabilise and anchor the whole thing down …
- Attaching the fan to the chopping board (top surface):
Duct tape was first used to position the fan blades to the thin chopping board (top surface). Then, I used a nail to punch through the plastic fan blade and into the chopping board to align the hole created in the two parts. This made it easier to turn the screws in subsequently. (note: the duct tape also served to prevent the blades from cracking when the nail was punched through it)
- Mounting the unit above to a stable base:
A flat board formed the base, and two thick pieces of wood were nailed to the flat board. The fan unit was then placed into the space created (note: only a snug fit was created at this point, so that the fan unit could still move/tilt).
- Making the unit sit “tightly” onto the base, and ensuring the top surface rotated horizontally
To lock the unit in place and to ensure the top surface was horizontal, a “fine adjustment/locking device” was created by glueing down 4 small wooden blocks on each of the 4 sides of the fan base. For two of these wooden blocks, screws were inserted that would lock the unit rigidly in place, as well as control the tilt of the top surface (see diagram above).
To test whether it works (and IT DID!!), this was the first piece created on the Version 2 wheel:
Haha, in version 3 (if I ever do it), I may try to make it spin by using the electric motor of the fan. Although the fan still works, its speed has to be made much slower and controllable before it can be used for “throwing”. This was the method I learnt when I first started pottery lessons in 2007.
The Safe Rider’s Pledge … the last line of the pledge reads, “We pledge to ride safely and stay alive.” OMG!!
After almost 9 months since I first started practical lessons to ride a bike (19 July 2013), I finally passed on my second attempt today (4 April 2014)!
Like the previous time, I was again the oldest Singaporean to take the test (LOL!) – had bib no. 4 this time, with 3 young foreigners ahead of me (including the one who also did not pass at the earlier attempt (see this link for itinerary of first attempt on 23 Jan 2014 … and this for the test result score sheet of that attempt).
Everything went pretty much like the last time, except that today, when it was time for the first ten of us to get ready, I could not find my bike which I had used for the warm-up earlier, even after walking up and down the rows of bikes parked outside the briefing room … OMG! In “desperation”, I took a bike with a number similar to what I had used (or thought I had used) and which was near to where I had parked earlier, thinking that maybe I was mistaken about the number … this bike turns out to “belong” to someone else, who came up to me, but by then, it was already almost my turn to proceed (hope he managed OK!! very sorry for this, but really no idea what happened, unless somebody else amongst the first 10 riders took mine, or an instructor moved it upstairs??). Luckily, this did not affect my riding performance, and it was all pretty smooth in my own assessment, perhaps except for coming out of the driving school (truck turning in partially obscuring view and I moved off … ). In no time, I was done and back at the school … PHEW!!
This time round, it was so much more nerve wrecking to wait for the results … can feel heart beat (just like the time I was at the primary school ballot for SY) – no obvious immediate failure this time, but one never knows what kinds of mistakes you may be caught for doing, knowingly or unknowingly (e.g. slow acceleration, slow to start off …). When the first of the testers came to announce results for his group, 4 out of 5 bib numbers were called out. Whoa! bad start … , and then there was a group where all 5 riders failed … so the tension mounted for the rest of us waiting in the room (but accompanied with a good dose of humour, I must say …) and when my tester came, he called out bib numbers 3 and 5 (number called out means FAIL 😦 ) … YES! I PASSED … woohoo (and immediately sent an SMS to wife who had been really supportive and keeping her fingers crossed 🙂 ).
What followed next for those who passed was that we had to watch a video as a reminder of the dangers on the road, and NEVER to drink & drive (except if one drinks orange juice or PEPSI, then why not? so the instructor says, haha), followed by all of us taking “THE SAFE RIDER’s PLEDGE” (the last line “We pledge to ride safely and stay alive” a bit err, morbid??!!). Then, we went to pay for a “Expressway Familiarization Ride” that would take place after lunch …
Must say it was a pretty exciting ride travelling at up to 90 km/h along SLE (all the way to Lentor Avenue, and then back to Kranji Turf Club, and back towards the school) and soon enough, we were back to finally collect our test results sheet and to get our license:
This is the first time we actually see our test sheet, and the group of riders who were with me for the expressway ride were all going “heng seah!!” or equivalent (myself included, LOL!!); turns out ALL of us had 18 points which was the cut-off points for pass!!! (hmm, a bit coincidental but then, who cares … pass is a pass!). And then we quickly proceeded to Level 1, at the Traffic Police booth to get our license, which was a sticker pasted over an existing driving license if one has a Class 3 or higher (but first timers would have to wait to get theirs sent to them a month later)
And so, today it took the 24 of us who passed from 7 am to 3 pm to complete the “journey”. For me, it has been 9 months since signing up to learn to ride a bike (see 1 July 2013), 48 practical lessons later and after more than $1000 spent on both theory and practicals, my conclusion about this “Fifty before 50” activity – it was worth the ride!!!