Monthly Archives: March 2015

Five things that I will always remember from last week …

Well, the week is now over, but the memories and emotions will remain with us for a long time (forever!?).

Here are 5 of mine …

1. Singaporeans at their best (united, helpful, appreciative, responsive, orderly … )

– the volunteers who distributed drinks, food, tissue, umbrellas, flowers (the florists who gave them out for free), the tributes and words of appreciation Singaporeans penned in fb and at tribute sites, the ushers everywhere who guided the crowd,

Ang Mo Kio Central on 25 March 2015, Wednesday

Ang Mo Kio Central on 26 March 2015, Thursday

Tribute at Hong Lim Park, 28 March, with Ministers and MPs placing flowers on stage at the end ...

Tribute at Hong Lim Park, 28 March, with Ministers and MPs and the public placing flowers on stage at the end …

Tributes from students ...

Tributes from students …

the orderly queues everywhere and everyday (even when the wait was 8 hours!),

Queue stretched to S. Bridge Road on Day 1 after 12 noon (Elgin Bridge, Supreme Court, and Swissotel in background)

Queue stretched to S. Bridge Road on Day 1 after 12 noon (Elgin Bridge, Supreme Court UFO roof, and Swissotel in background)

the improvement of the queueing system after Day 1 (my belief that someone would do something quickly about the queuing system was right 🙂

was pretty sure someone "in charge" would do something about the queue system ...

was pretty sure someone “in charge” would do something about the queue system …

Day 2 new queue system, at the Padang

Day 2 Quick response to improve queue system at the Padang, instead of snaking queues around Raffles Place and Coleman St area on Day 1.

2.  The spontaneous snaking queues and how orderly it was on Day 1 even without the railings for crowd control, how long the queues were on all the other days (even in the wee hours: the girls thought of going early Friday morning but wait time was 8 hours at 3 am!), and the patience that everyone showed while in the queue (on Day 1, when SY and me joined it at 1015 am just after coming out of the Raffles Place MRT exit, it did not move at all for 30 min; then when it moved, we advanced like 5 steps …, which led to me going on a walkabout to “study” what was happening; turns out to be a bottleneck as two queues merged into one near the Cavenagh Bridge, that crosses over to Parliament House side. Everywhere I went, noticed that people waited patiently, and were in good spirits even though it was under the noon sun).

From Raffles Place side, queue snakes around all over the little streets, Fullerton Hotel, Circular Road, all the way to S. Bridge Road when I went to walk about while SY stayed in the queue ...

From Raffles Place side, queue snakes around all over the little streets, Fullerton Hotel, Circular Road, all the way to S. Bridge Road when I went to walk about while SY stayed in the queue …

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Bottleneck as queue from Fullerton Hotel and rest of the Raffles Place queue converge near to Cavenagh Bridge, before snaking down the walkway (pass the Botero Bird) and u-turning around before it crossed the bridge to the Parliament House side …

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Supreme Court Lane, where I joined another queue (having left the earlier one at Raffles Place, as it was simply not moving)…am on the Supreme Court side to the right of the picture, looking at the “silly” u-turn that had formed on the other side of the road. Parliament House is actually right across this lane if you follow it (from image bottom left to middle right…)

Even at 7 pm, one hour before the closing time for joining the queue to enter Parliament House, the queues were still so "thick" ...

Even at 7 pm, one hour before the closing time for joining the queue to enter Parliament House on 28 March Saturday, the queues were still so “thick” …

3.  The best National Education one can ever get!

I think that not only students learnt so much about Singapore’s recent history last week, but all Singaporeans (myself included) received a  much better understanding of the events pre and post-1965. For one thing, I believed the interest shown by my girls is indicative that this would be a very special moment in the collective memory of all Singaporeans, young and old (and middle aged): how from “mudflats”, we now have the modern city of today, and that it was the result of visionary leadership, hard work, courage, and commitment to make Singapore extraordinary. We must never ever take for granted that the Singapore of today is the natural order of things!

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4.  Standing in the pouring rain at Shenton Way on the day of the state funeral with fellow Singaporeans, and with my own family … everyone was wet even with umbrellas, but there was no grumbling heard as we braved the weather together to pay our final respects as the cortege pass the Singapore Conference Hall and AXA Tower (where we were standing on the steps) …

Singapore Conference Hall across where we were standing ...

Singapore Conference Hall across where we were standing …

AXA Tower Steps, which offered a higher vantage point, as the crowd was already a few umbrellas thick when we arrived ...

AXA Tower Steps, which offered a higher vantage point, as the crowd was already a few umbrellas thick when we arrived …

Men in Blue braving the pouring rain ...

Men in Blue braving the pouring rain …

and finally,

5. How totally awesome LKY was as a visionary, global statesman, intellectual, mentor, father, husband, leader, … A GREAT MAN!!

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RIP, Mr and Mrs Lee …

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What the … another plumbing repair job!!

Now, just because I signed up for a plumbing course does not mean I want to get maximum practise at home!!

But for some reason, this happened just last week, a few days after I fixed the choke problem on Sunday (see previous post) and one week into the plumbing course:

Pipe from kitchen sink to bottle trap gets dislodged ... a few days after I fixed the choke!

Pipe from kitchen sink to bottle trap gets dislodged … a few days after I fixed the choke!

What is that sealant thing doing all over the place?? That came from a previous job more than a year ago, when after replacing the kitchen tap, a tiny leak (one drop by one drop) developed from the joints that is seen above, and I managed to seal it up only after several attempts (over a few days!!) of applying sealant!!! (Now on hindsight, and after fixing the problem shown in the photo above, what was really needed was to replace the entire bottle trap as probably the washers for the joints needed replacing).

Anyway, I asked the instructor during one of the practical sessions about the situation, and he says, “change a new washer and just push it back in”.

What the …!!? so simple only?

And I duly did it (buy a new bottle trap, ask the lady about fixing the problem, took the washer from the new bottle trap set) and VOILA!! PROBLEM SOLVED! 🙂

problem fixed and the entire set up "improved" with a support below the horizontal gray pipe :)

problem fixed and the entire set up “improved” with a support below the horizontal gray pipe 🙂

 

Actually, it was not quite as easy as it seems because in fact, the other bottle trap had also “dropped” down (but not completely; see the line on the white pipe). When both were pushed upwards, the grey drainage pipe along the wall came out from its joint (see picture above of the grey vertical pipe along the wall) i.e. I pushed the bottle traps too high up.

After the plumbing course and having learn some tips to do the job, I  shall replace the whole set up, as the bottle trap on the left (with the sealant) cannot be unscrewed now for clearing, and the joints are old and likely to have been “damaged” due to the use of solvents and hot water to clear the recent choking problem (and btw, my instructor also says don’t use those solvents, as it causes damage to the pipes and joints :O   )

 

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Shooting birds …

since the workshop last Saturday, really have been able to see more kinds of birds (haha!) and also to identify them, and shoot them (but with a camera, of course).

white throated Kingfisher (Sri Lanka trip in Jun 2013)

white throated Kingfisher (Sri Lanka trip in Jun 2013)

Olive backed sunbird female (Mayflower Estate, 15 Mar 2015)

Olive backed sunbird female (Mayflower Estate, 15 Mar 2015)

olive back sunbird male (regular visitor in our garden)

olive back sunbird male (regular visitor in our garden)

scaly breasted munia, tall grasses in clearing AMK Garden West (15 Mar 2015)

scaly breasted munia, tall grasses in clearing AMK Garden West (15 Mar 2015)

Yellow vented bulbul (tree just outside our house, 15 March 2015)

Yellow vented bulbul (tree just outside our house, 15 March 2015)

Oriental Pied Hornbill, Mayflower Estate, lamppost just outside house

Oriental Pied Hornbill, Mayflower Estate, lamppost just outside house (Sep 2014)

Black-naped oriole (AMK Garden West, 14 March 2015)

Black-naped oriole (AMK Garden West, 15 March 2015)

Pink necked green pigeon female (mainly green, as this is the female)(Venus Car Park entrance to tree top walk, 16 Mar 2015)

Pink necked green pigeon female (mainly green, as this is the female)(Venus Car Park entrance to tree top walk, 16 Mar 2015)

Javan myna (Singapore Island Country Club while walking towards tree top walk, 16 Mar 2015)

Javan myna (Singapore Island Country Club while walking towards tree top walk, 16 Mar 2015)

Collared kingfisher (Upper Pierce Reservoir, 14 March 2015)

Collared kingfisher (Upper Pierce Reservoir, 15 March 2015)

not sure what bird (Macritchie trail between Jelutong Tower and Ranger Station 16 Jul 2013)

Common emerald dove (Macritchie trail between Jelutong Tower and Ranger Station 16 Jul 2013)

think this is the female Asian Koel (the very noisy bird that goes woooh oooh) (Upper Pierce Reservoir, 15 March 2015)

think this is the female Asian Koel (the very noisy bird that goes woooh oooh) (Upper Pierce Reservoir, 15 March 2015)

Turning out to be a fun thing to do and helps with my “flower bird painting”, but need to be careful not to get neck strain or trip over rocks/roots when out on the trails!!

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NParks Garden Bird Count 2015

Signed up for this “citizen science” initiative  by National Parks Board in early March and immediately went for the first training workshop held on Saturday (7 March) at Ridley Hall in the Botanic Gardens (see this link for details on how to participate, closing date 3 April).

The training was to show participants the 30 birds to be counted, and how to identify them based on four factors – shape and size, colour, habitat, and vocalisation. The colour handout (see below) on the birds was most useful, especially for a newbie like me!

The handout, available as pdf file sent to all participants via email or as a hardcopy.

The handout, available as pdf file sent to all participants via email or as a hardcopy.

After a fun quiz where chocolates, bookmarks, and magnets were given out for correctly identifying the birds shown, we were taught the “point-count” method – basically, this involved going to an assigned spot on a map, staying there for 10 minutes, identifying, recording and counting whatever species of birds we could spot in that time.

We were then dispersed to various points in the Botanic Gardens to practise identifying the birds and using the point-count method, in small groups (of 2 or 3). With Karon and Peishan (two other volunteers), we “navigated” to the Sundial Garden, parked ourselves in the little shade we could find and did our bird watching … hahaha, identifying birds in their “natural” habitat was so much harder compared to looking at images projected on a screen in the classroom!! The bright sunlight washed out the colours, or the birds were seen in silhouette, or they were mostly hidden in the trees/bushes/tall grasses, or they flew past really fast etc etc. However, we did manage to see a collared kingfisher, a few bulbuls, and plenty of javan mynas … (thanks mostly to Peishan, who was the most “expert” amongst the three of us!).

 

the beaks tell a story of what birds eat

beak shape: slide on how the beaks tell what birds feed on

Whatever it is, bird watching certainly helps to sharpen one’s observational powers (e.g. see beak shape) and I’ve already noticed more kinds of birds (and able to name them) since the training yesterday!  And it would certainly help when I do my “flower-bird” painting  🙂

 

Anyway, am looking forward to carrying out the bird count (any day during 16 – 26 April) at my assigned “points” (exactly where not known yet) and being able to “see better” and “hear better” as a result of learning more about birds!!

 

 

 

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First 3 lessons of Plumbing course … and fixing a choke (just this morning!)

was simple enough … the first two lessons were “theory” and Friday was the practical. The class learnt about various materials, joints and tools used in plumbing works (includes water, gas, sanitary), and some specifications for fitting various common fixtures (e.g. height of wash basin should be 800 to 850 mm from floor level). The practical involved an introduction to the workshop and tools (in theory lesson, we just see the pictures of the tools), sawing galvanised iron pipe (100 mm, 5 pieces) with a hacksaw, and using a copper tube cutter to cut 8 pieces of copper tube (120 mm).

Doing this course is item 5 on my Fifty before 50 list but am glad I finally took the plunge!! It was quite by chance that on 27 Feb 2015 (Friday), I was just randomly surfing and decided to email BCA (Building and Construction Authority) about when the course would start. The reply came like 30 min later that it was on the following Monday 2 March, and that I would need to go down and sign up and pay fees by 5 pm. So, I took my bicycle and cycled through both parts of Bishan Park, and the park connector to Braddell Road (where BCA is located) and signed up (fees are $850 by the way, unless company sponsored; unfortunately, am ahead of the SkillsFuture thingey)!

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Why plumbing?? Well, after a few occasions in the past when I had to repair some simple leaks, change taps, and seeing how plumbers fixed our choked pipe and mend a burst garden pipe, I decided that it was work that involved a lot of skill (e.g. problem solving, technical) and therefore, worth investing my time!! (not to mention that you pay quite a bit when you call a plumber, who then just solves the problem in less than 30 minutes).

Just the last couple of weeks, we had a choke somewhere (our domestic helper had been having this flooding situation where she does her clothes washing) and pouring the “chokage removal liquid” each time it occurred didn’t seem to solve the problem well (this method was used on three separate occasions of choking, only for it to recur soon after). So, it was time to adopt a different approach … using the “snake” (or “extendable cleaning road” in my course notes below).

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After doing some preliminary diagnostic work (this is actually the fun “mental” part of plumbing, where you have to figure out what is most likely happening in terms of where the blockage is), I set out with the “snake” to try to dislodge the blockage. My first attempt pushing the “snake” into a pipe (purple in diagram below) was a total FAIL; opening any one of three taps immediately led to flooding. Wrong diagnosis!

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I then realised there was another pipe (orange in diagram) that I could push the “snake” through after feeling for that pipe in the water trap; it was not visible as it was all under the dirty water, and this time it worked!!! woohoo!

Lesson learnt – persevere, diagnose correctly, and check your assumptions!! (I was misled in a way by our helper who was totally convinced that the blockage was at A above, haha, when there was no pipe there!)

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