Fifty before 50

(last update 30 May 2016 item 53)

A category for my list of fifty “random things” to do before hitting 50 (in 2014)! If you have ideas to share that I could pursue, please drop me a line. So far, they seem to fall under these categories –

  • health related / physical activities
  • learning workouts (as in courses and learning related – plumbing course)
  • hobbies (painting, read, pottery, …)
  • volunteer work / giving back (free tuition, … )
  • paid work (private tuition,…)
  • random stuff (like travel, reading some classic: War and Peace?)

(shall be releasing the list over time to allow for emergent ideas, many thanks to friends who have offered intriguing ideas (like trek Kilimanjaro, learn about Christ on the Cross) … …)

  1. Resign from service and do 49 other “random things” before 50 – idea to put it here credited to Tan YJ
  2. run a marathon overseas – confirmed Penang Marathon, 17 Nov 2013, wish me luck, aiming for 5 hours finish..DONE!! 4:51
  3. learn chinese ink painting – confirmed, Jul – Aug 2013@Tiong Bahru CC (update 16 Jan 2014 – 3 rounds of classes concluded, and starting on the 4th now); update 29 Sep 2014 still going strong and just signed up for next instalment of 12 lessons starting 2 Oct 2014
  4. re-learn pottery – have found a place in Tampines .. started 13 Feb 2014 at Ang Mo Kio CC instead (walking distance!); update 29 Sep 2014 after 3 courses (each 8 sessions), have joined the Ceramics Club (as considered able to work independently 🙂  ). ( and have Gifted/given pottery pieces – squirrel (to Jas), puffer fish (SM friend), 2 vases (to K for charity/auction for some health institution), a bowl and vase to KL (“birthday” present), v-shape bowl (CY), 2 vases (mum/dad)
  5. take up plumbing course – ITE and BCA seems to be the only place at this point providing it .. (and many other DIY courses too) (at ITE East or West only, not Central unfortunately) (finally doing it!! started 2 March 2015, Basic Plumbing Maintenance @BCA)
  6. set up a webpage for “paid work” – published 22 Jun 2013, Saturday, thanks to Isabelle Oh for recommending WIX
  7. send a letter to Mr Kwek, my mentor, leader and friend
  8. go for motorcycle lessons – 1 July enrolled SSDC, attended theory lessons 1 & 2 on 6 July, and circuit orientation 9 July.
  9. attend Parliament and other similar stuff (court hearings, …) – 8 July 2014 went for 12th Parliament sitting with spouse; 28 Aug 2014 attended Subordinate Court trial (some soccer match fixing case); 13 Feb 2015 went to Parliament to hear the AHPETC second day sitting, with SY.
  10. get my “paid work” going – RT, Flexi-Adjunct, Tuition, NIE, …
  11. get my “gift” work going – volunteering, free tuition, …
  12.  Nature and Landscape Photography – visit  Sungei Buloh Wetlands Reserve
  13. learn a musical instrument – Chinese flute (dixi) – made some enquiries at Eason Music School (12 Feb 2014) – started series of 4 lessons at Eason on 9 April 2014 Wed with Andy Tay (instructor); update 29 Sep 2014 now doing with Joyce at her place (private lessons)

    E Major dizi that CF bought for me from Beijing, now I have a D and F key dizi too!

    E Major dizi that CF bought for me from Beijing, now I have a D and F key dizi too!

  14. Macro photography – got a lens (40mm/2.8 Nikkor Micro) on 3 Nov, as a birthday present!

    Stigma and stamen of orange hibiscus in our garden

    Stigma and stamen of orange hibiscus in our garden

  15. Attend Vienna Boys Choir concert (Esplanade, 2 Nov 2013) – still managed to get 4 tickets at the last moment, on 1 Nov :).
  16. Bolshoi Ballet: Swan Lake (Esplanade, 22 Nov 2013) –  with GX, SM and Chien (SY could not go as she is hiking in the Victoria Alps, on a school enrichment programme ALP (Adventure Leadership Programme).
  17. Read “War and Peace” by Leo Tolstoy – ok, this is a “marathon” of a different kind 🙂 pg 268 of 3569 at time of this note (26 Nov 2013); passed 1000 pg (3 Jan 2014, Pierre meets the freemason); and other classics (started Lolita, by Vladimir Nabokov). 7 Aug – about 300 pages to go, Napoleon and French Army making way out of Russia in very bad conditions (cold, no food, poor morale, …), Kutusov (field marshall of Russian army dies). FINISHED!! 22 Aug 2014
  18. Learn some calligraphy (esp. to write on the paintings! and writing name “nicely” to sign them)
  19. Actively seek tutoring work at tuition centre(s) – in progress, 2 Jan 2014…met up with one on 2 Jan, another on 6 Jan., and home tuition …
  20. Travel … Koh Samui (Sep13) Taiwan (Dec13) Mt Bromo (Apr14) Bali(Jun14) Huangshan (Sep14) Fujian (Dec14)
  21. Attend a Andrea Bocelli Concert … (ya, but IL DIVO is a pretty good substitute 17 March 2014, STAR Theatre, I guess)
  22. Do a PB for half-marathon (target: sub 2hr) (current PB is 2 hr 11 min at 2013 2XU run) – registered for 2XU 2014, on 2 March, Sunday) – YES! did it in 1 hr 58 min (unofficial timing)
  23. Do at least 4 courses on Coursera (in 2013 – managed to do 6 with completion certificate) – done 5 so far this year 2014! 3 courses done so far in 2015 (8 March 2015 update)
  24. Get my motorbike licence! YES, I did it (passed, on 4 April 2014, second attempt; first attempt on 23 Jan, 16 points but one immediate failure)

    The sticker reflecting the vehicles I am licensed to drive ...

    The sticker reflecting the vehicles I am licensed to drive …

  25. Declutter – pack up the balcony area (too much stuff just lying there, taking up space and collecting dust) – started 13 and 15 Jan 2014; to be continued …
  26. Organise a class reunion for S03F  (93-94 RJC), first CT class of my teaching career 20 years ago – 9 Feb 2014

    Class Gathering with my first ever CT class- the way to "take attendance" nowadays!

    Class Gathering with my first ever CT class- the way to “take attendance” nowadays!

  27. World Press Photo Exhibition (world tour, starting in Singapore, Raffles Hotel, till 30 March) – very touching and disturbing and amazing shots! visited on 18 March 2014 with family. see the images online at  ; went again in 2015, update 8 March 2015. And also 2016 (on 29 Jan, first day of public opening but this time at National Museum)
  28. Make a pottery wheel – DONE! 25 March 2014, (and completed a 25 cm tall vase with it on 26 Mar)
  29. Joined a table tennis interest group! group plays 3 times a week on Tue, Thu, Saturday from 9:30 to 11 am at Ang Mo Kio CC (haha, and I am in the photo on the CC notice board that advertises this)
  30. Take part in an Art Exhibition – “maiden” art exhibition on 31 May and 1 Jun 2014 (each of my instructor’s students could submit one or two pieces). I submitted two landscape pieces done in my earlier courses (one from the 1st course, 5 th week lesson, and another from the second course, both landscapes)
  31. Meet up with Khoo Swee Chiow! – see post about him turning 50
  32. Read “Mere Christianity” by CS Lewis – read some but got a bit put off by some of his “reasoning”
  33. Attend an event at Speaker’s Corner (went to a LKY tribute session 28 March 2015)
  34. Go “rock” climbing! (planned for 28 July 2014, Kallang Wave) – first two attempts to do climb did not materialise due to the big crowds! finally did a session at ClimbAsia, located in The Civil Service Club on Tessensohn Road on 27 Dec 2014 (Saturday evening, 5 to 8:30 pm)!
  35. Watch WTA Women’s Event at SportsHub (PM tickets bought for 22 Oct 2014, Deepavalli), in the end went for the next two days as well as it was simply too good to miss!! (haha, and went again in 2015, including seeing the FINALS this time!!)
  36. Visit Yellow Mountains, Anhui (Huangshan) – place for landscape inspiration in Chinese painting (going in Sep school hols – airfare and accommodation settled) – FANTASTIC!! 5 – 10 Sep 2014
  37. Catch Planet Earth Concert with SSO -12 Sep Fri@Esplanade
  38. ChinaMania Exhibit@ACM (about the influence of Chinese Porcelain in world history) and Genesis@National Museum (Sebastiao Seldago – amazing B&W photography of Nature and Tribes) – 6 Aug 2014
  39. Take the family out Sailing
  40. Tennis on Thursdays and/or Tuesdays – played for the first time on 30 Sep 2014, since stopping in 2008.

Ok, so I just turned 50; shall make use of the next 10 items before I turn 51 in 2o15! (edit 9 Nov 2014)

  1. 41.  Obtained a Level 1 Sport Climbing Cert – basically means I can belay properly, and can bring kids to climb at climbing gym!

    Finally went climbing after getting Level 1 Cert, Climbing Gym at Civil Service Club in Tenssensohn Road.

    Finally went climbing after getting Level 1 Cert, Climbing Gym at Civil Service Club in Tenssensohn Road. see item 34

  2. 42.  Donate blood 3 times in 2015 – link to post about how this came about (a call to do a blood test to check my blood that I donated in 2006, amazing!) – first donation made on 26 March 2015 Thursday HSA Blood Bank@1pm, second donation on 30 July 1 pm@HSA
  3. 43.  寻根 Tracing Roots – (A once in a life time family trip) 6 – 16 Dec 2014 travelled to Fujian, where my in-laws parents once lived
  4. 44. Read at least one book a month in 2015: Jan (The Accident, Ismail Kadare), Feb (The Architect’s Apprentice, Elif Shafak), Mar (The Book Thief, Markus Zusak), April (The Blazing World, Siri Hustvedt) May (The Devil’s Elixir, Raymond Khoury)Jun and July (re-read selected essays from Zen Mind Beginner’s Mind, Shunryu Suzuki, and On Learning and Knowledge, Krishnamurthi), Aug (The Dinner, Herman Koch, NLB ebook), Sep (Hunger Games All three books!, Brad Thor – Foreign Influence, The Last Patroit, The Apostle, Amir Alexander – Infinitesimal), Oct (Brad Thor – The Lions of Lucerne, Dan Brown – Deception Point, Emily St John Mandel – Station Eleven) Nov (Mario Puzo – various books The Godfather, The Last Don, etc), Dec (read Qiu Xiaolong Inspector Chen Series), Jan2016 (DH Lawrence, Lady Chatterley’s Lover)
  5. 45. Do some origami (especially on a rainy day!) – (see origami peacock entry for a list of “benefits”) (Akira Yoshizawa “self-portrait” youtube link)(hyperbolic paraboloid 4 Aug)
  6. 46.  Learn to identify 30 species of birds commonly found in Singapore (and volunteer in a bird count – NPB citizen science initiative)
  7. 47.  Remember LKY – my own memories of the week of 23 – 29 March
  8. 48.  If I were a carpenter – made 2 benches and a stool from discarded pine wood bed frame!! 🙂   (see also the post before this, about the process)
  9. 49.  Attend AGM of listed companies – started going finally!! (Apr 15 Suntec Reit, Apri 17 Noble, Apr 17 Keppel Corp, 23 Sep SGX )
  10. 50. Otter watching with the girls! 27 Apr (first time seeing otters@Bishan), 4 May with SY, 5 May with Chien, 6 May with Chien and SM, 9 May with Chien 630 am, 10 May (but otter no evening show)

    4 May 2015, Monday. with SY, possibly the best session of otter watching as there was a lot of fishing/eating actions from the otters!!

    On 10 April 2016 (Sunday), very lucky to see this group just near to the Helix Bridge with SY when we went running in the city area  🙂


  11. 51. Went to Bromo (again!) and Ijen, and did the Bromo Half Marathon (10 to 13 Sep 2015), with SY 🙂
best pic of blue flame

best pic of blue flame that we took at Ijen

52. see Mt Fuji 🙂 (see post on How we got our Mt Fuji views) posted Jan2016

53.  Climb Mt Rinjani! – 24 to 29 April 2016, 4D3N trek with Hallo Trekker and D, friend from Lasalle Chinese Painting Class


54.  Sundown Marathon 2016 – on 29 May 2016, starting at 00:38, achieved a PB of 4 hr 27 min (woohoo!!) 🙂




3 responses to “Fifty before 50

  1. Pingback: First 3 lessons of Plumbing course … and fixing a choke (just this morning!) | While I Live, I Learn

  2. LengLeng

    Great achievement! 4.27.. nice! Congrats!

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