Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Blogger on sick leave

I must have some powers in prophecy? I was able to sense that I would be falling ill. The doctor confirmed this when I saw her this evening. Actually, most people should have some powers in sensing that they needed better health? Wish me health, please.

Runny nose had made it difficult for me to have a good sleep last night. After much tossing and turning on the bed, I rose from my bed at about 1.30 a.m. To try to wear myself to sleep, I did some reading. Read a tour guide on Scotland. Thank goodness that I had managed to get some hours of sleep eventually.

The nose is runny and at times, blocked. The doctor said I had "xxx infection", but I was too tired to listen carefully to remember the diagnosis. She said if my symptoms were worse, she would treat me with antibotics. But she said I should be doing fine, because my symptoms were considered mild for such infection. As such, she recommended that my body defence system shall work on its own to fight the infection. To relieve the symptoms, she gave me medicine to relieve the blocked nose and the runny nose. Then she gave me a medical certificate for medical leave for a day. I hope I don't have to get to use it. Tomorrow is the day for orchestra rehearsal, and I hope to practise. Also, tomorrow at the workplace, we will be having a farewell lunch for our immediate supervisor who's leaving the company soon.

Anyway, if there's such thing as sick leave on the blogosphere, here's submiting my sick leave application. If you don't see me for the next few days, please do not panic. I would probably be working towards recovery.

If my writing is being missed, perhaps I shall refer my readers to read the posts in the archives. Whether you have followed me through my writings since Day One or whether you have came only recently, I hope the re-reading of my previous posts might give you some new insights or perspectives to my way of seeing the world.

Till I'm back (and I hope that will be soon), please take care. Good health to you!

Monday, May 30, 2005


Civic District, Singapore. Taken near Elgin Bridge. Posted by Hello

I was looking through the photographs that I have taken in the past two weeks, and I came across this. Somehow, in my mind, I thought of Wabbit.

She said she will be returning to Singapore soon in early June. I am no rich multi-billionaire, else I would be willing to take leave from work and go along with a chaeffeur on a limousine to accompany her home personally. (Sorry, I realised I don't have a driving license, so I am not allowed to drive.) Unfortunately, unless the entire world out there prays hard for me, I am not, yet.

So I shall be realistic, and be back in the world of reality. I think some of my better skills are that of sketching, taking photographs, and writing. So I shall prepare for Wabbit's return home in my own way.

Here's dedicating this photo to Wabbit. Welcome home Aileen.

(This may look like a clinche photograph, so please look beyond. I think of the buildings as ones that soar high up to the skies, to reach the limits of the skies.)

Jamming with my best friend

Soon the month of May will be over. I am reflecting on my work style and see if I could do things slightly differently in order to be effective and efficient, and yet not to overwhelm myself unnecessary.

Yours truly is an introvert. I would think that it takes more courage for an introvert to share his/ her innermost thoughts as compared to extrovert. In fact, it felt uncomfortable to share whatever that I am feeling deep down, such that if I may rather not. Too much of energy would be needed. It in turn becomes more of an issue of energy rather than courage. Maybe I might be wrong, so share your feedback with me if this was the case. If you do see me sharing my innermost self, especially verbally, please bear with my discomfort. It just feels so unsafe to share my innermost self with the outer world, especially verbally. Writing would be easier. Then again, unless I share myself with the outer world, I remain an enigma to the rest of the world. I think I won't mind, I love the term "enigma". Then the world would find me mysterious, I like feeling special. But I must admit that I am begging to be understood just the same. So at times when I feel out of place with the rest of the world, that bugging pain hits me. Balance might be the key, and I am still trying to find it. How to balance sharing just enough of myself to have the world understand me enough, and yet not overdo it such that I drain myself?

Overwhelmed is the subtitle of the day. I was awfully tired by the end of the work day. I did accomplished a few things, so I am glad. More to go. Cheer me on.

I actually thought I might be too tired to play on the double bass. I almost was. Then my best friend, the double bass, seemed to urge me just to play it not for the sake of improving my playing, but for the sake of entertaining myself. Then for about 45 minutes in the night, I was jamming with the best friend of mine. He has been a great company lately. It pleases me that his tone (of voice) is getting better of late. Better than the raw sound that he had started out with.

I played the Marcello's Sonata in g minor. More so, I was jamming. Gosh, my pitching wasn't 100% perfect today, but I had a good time working-out and jamming with the double bass. Next, I played excerpts from Mendelssohn's Fingals Cave and then Tchaikovsky's Fifth Symphony. I love the sound of the double bass, and having to challenge myself physically to play it. For one thing, it is at least a 2-metres tall baby. As such, it demands more physical strength from the player, than say, a violin or a flute. So if I avoid exercising, my double bass would still make me willingly use my physical strength. I think I am loving it more, and it deserving earns the title of being my "Husband".

After the jamming session, I felt better. What better gift the world could give one than invaluable friendship?

I am not just referring to my best friend, the double bass. I am referring to the readers of my blog who have silently or openly been supporting me. I thank you for walking the journey with me. Cheers to friendship!

Sunday, May 29, 2005

What's Playing: Dvorak's Symphonies

It is a good thing that I have a National Library Board's Premiere membership, as such, I could loan music CDs from the National Library.

My latest loan is: Antonin Dvorak: The 9 Symphonies. Performed by Berliner Philharmoniker, conducted by Rafael Kubelik.

I was listening to his Symphony No. 7 in d minor, op. 70, and now I am listening to his Symphony No. 8 in G major, op. 88.

I do not know why, but my ears tell me that I enjoyed the third movement of his Symphony No. 8. I like the seemingly unsettling mood found in the Symphony No. 7, just that I think I would need to listen to it for a few more times to better appreciate it.

I was doing some search over the internet, and found this site that writes about Dvorak and his music in quite concise terms. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antonin_Dvorak

If you know more about Dvorak and his symphonies and won't mind sharing, I shall open up this space in my blog for you to share your comments.

A bag that came handy

JY and SH would probably be pleased if they have read this. I started using the bag that they had got me for this year's birthday on Friday and Saturday, and I found it quite useful.

First, I could fit quite a lot of items in it. I could fit my rather large water-bottle which is meant to be serve as a thermoflask. Next, I could fit in other items such as my digital camera, an umbrella (just in case it rains), and so forth.

The best part is that the bag is considered not-too-big, and is allowed into the Esplanade Concert Hall. As such, I do not have to place it in the baggage area and leave it there throughout the entire duration of the concert. If you had read my post dated 17 April 2005, titled Last Evening's Concert, you would have some appreciation of how upset I was having my belongings kept with the security.

So I shall write a short post to say thanks to JY and SH for the useful and practical gift.

But, readers, please do not be mistakened that I would need another bag, I am contented with the bags that I currently have already.

The red balloon

The red balloon that I saw near Marina Square. Posted by Hello

For the past few days, I have been attending concerts at the Esplanade - Theatres by the Bay. My usual route to get there would be to exit the City Hall MRT (Mass Rapid Transit) train station via the escalators leading to the Raffles City Shopping Centre. Then I would walk towards the War Memorial, past Swissotel Westin, and then take the underground walk-way that leads from the War Memorial Park to the Esplanade. So it means that I would usually bypass the underground walkway-cum-shopping mall, the Citylink Mall. I shall keep my fingers crossed that after releasing information of my usual route, I would still be able to reach the Esplanade safe and sound. I fear stalkers (*laughs*). Then again, I hope whoever reads this post would be one of my ardent readers and supporters, so I should be safe with him/ her.

For the past few occassions, the moment that I exit the City Hall MRT train station via one of the escalators leading to Raffles City Shopping Centre, I would see a big red balloon. The words of the red balloon say: "Uniquely Singapore. http://www.visitsingapore.com".

If I were to have dinner at the Marina Food Loft located at Marina Square, I would also catch glimpses of yet another similar red balloon. The red balloon that you saw on this post is the one located nearby Marina Square.

On the other side of the red balloon, one would find the printed words "The Great Singapore Sale 2005, Join the sale-a-bration!, 27 May to 24 July 2005".

Pardon me please, I am not an ardent shopper. In fact I try to minimise shopping. If I do shop, I avoid the crowds. So I try not to shop when there's a sale, or if I do shop when there's a sale (to get the bargains) I do it early in the morning. I think if I were a shopper, I am a selective one. I don't usually enjoy shopping for fashion or shoes. I would rather shop for books and double-bass related stuff. Anyway, even though it does not quite excite me that the Great Singapore Sale 2005 is now on in Singapore, I thought I'll do a favour to all fellow readers of this blog by sharing this piece of information.

If you would like to visit the official website of Visit Singapore. it's http://www.visitsingapore.com. This site is not just for non-Singapore residents. It is for Singapore residents who wishes to tour Singapore. Enjoy.

The evening begs us to slow down

Singapore civic district, taken in the evening. Posted by Hello

I woke up at 9 a.m. this morning. Unusually late for an early-riser.

The throat is still sore from yesterday. I must have been having symptoms of flu? Or was I getting ill soon? A little feverish.

It looks like I have to postpone my plans to go on a sketching trip originally scheduled for this afternoon. Rest would be what I would most need. Yet, I fear it can be stifling to be at home the entire day. I like being able to look at beautiful scenes and to share them. Maybe I should be a photographer or artist? I am confused. I do not know what I am meant to contribute to the world in this very lifetime.

Anyway, here is sharing a photograph that I had taken yesterday. If I have done a good job in capturing the beauty and melancholy of the evening, my readers would start to find that Singapore can be quite a beautiful place. A remote thought here, perhaps the Singapore Tourism Board could consider engaging me to take photographs to promote Singapore.

Since the hidden notion behind this post is to rest and to slow down, I shall hence give the post the title as above-mentioned. Please take some time to look beyond the superficiality of the mere external images of buildings. For within this photograph, you might experience the restfulness of the evening.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

A nap has helped

Reflecting. Inside the Esplanade - Theatres by the Bay. Just before entering the Concert Hall, Circle 3. Posted by Hello

It is the fourth Saturday of the month and I was scheduled to be at work this Saturday. My company practises five-day work-week in general, but each staff of our department has to work one Saturday every week. The claim is that there will be some clients who could only be available for sessions on Saturday. Yes, I do have my share of such clients. The office hours on Saturdays are from 8.45 a.m. to 12 noon.

I stayed behind for a while after the official hours to work on some paper work. Workload has become overwhelming, and I am just trying my best not to feel too overwhelmed. I think very soon, I need a cheering team to cheer me on and keep me going. I won't mind having your cheers and support right now. It seems better to receive some support and encouragements before I reach my limits. Seriously, I hope I could be like the bamboo tree, which would only bend but not break. But if I do break, maybe it is just that the world was not meant for me?

Anyway, after leaving office, I had lunch at Northpoint Shopping Centre. It is a shopping centre located in the northern region of Singapore. The food court (a place that offers food) has completed its renovation works and has been reopened recently. I went to the food court to have a look. I quite like its comparatively brighter lightings and its generally more spacious looking layout. However, I did not have my lunch there. There was too much of a crowd on this Saturday afternoon, and I would appreciate staying away from the crowds when I am feeling drained. Anyway, I had lunch at the Yoshinoya fast food restaurant. This is a fast-food restaurant selling Japanese food.

The weather had looked good, and I had considered going outdoors to take photographs. But I decided I should slow down my pace, and just simply take a rest. I was feeling tired after lunch. After much contemplation, I decided to head for home first. I figured I needed a rest before catching the concert at Esplanade Concert Hall in the evening. It won't be a nice feeling for myself to sleep through some of this evening's concert like I had done the day before.

At home, after taking a shower and doing some surfing on the internet, I took about a one-and-a-half hour nap. The nap has helped. I think.

This evening, I attended yet another event of the Singapore Arts Festival. This was a concert at the Esplanade Concert Hall, performed by the Philadelphia Orchestra, conducted by its Music Director Christoph Eschenbach.

The programme for tonight was as follow:
  • DVORAK - Carnival Overture

  • TCHAIKOVSKY - Piano Concerto No. 1

  • BARTÓK - Concerto for Orchestra

Performing on the piano for this evening's concert was Lang Lang.

Why do I say the afternoon nap has helped? I did not doze or go into "half-asleep" mode during the entire concert. It was not that I was fully alert for the entire duration of concert, but at least I did not go into the "half-asleep" mode.

The Carnival Overture caught my ears. I like it for its energetic opening. The melody of the clarinet solo is lovely too. Since I did not go into "half-asleep" mode, I shall be pleased to offer more praises on this post. I think the Philadelphia Orchestra played the overture commendably well. The tambourine player deserves some praises. I like his playing on the tambourine. This was one of the best tambourine playing versions that I have heard for the Carnival Overture. The tambourine sounded just the right way under his playing. I like the Carnival Overture. It appeals to my ears. I might be biased, I prefer Dvorak's music to Bartok's, so I could relate to Dvorak's music much better.

Next was Tchaikovsky's First Piano Concerto. I think Lang Lang is quite an engaging pianist. For his age, I think he has quite commendable level of musicianship. His playing sounded nice from where I was sitting, even though I was sitting right up at Circle Three tonight. I quite like the piano concerto, I think Tchaikovsky did quite a good job in composing it.

Maybe the first movement was too rousing, some of the audience started giving their applause after the first movement. The practice for concert-goers is not to clap between the movements. Doing so may be somewhat disruptive and interruptive for the performers, so usually the applause is saved till the end of the work. Thereafter, the audience seemed to learn its lesson and gave their applause at the right time.

Then, it was interval. I took some photographs using my camera. Earlier in the evening, before the start of the concert, I was also walking around trying to take photographs. Hopefully I could put some of these photographs up, and that they would please your eyes. If any of these photographs pleases your eyes, please let me know. Yours truly need some praises and recognitions to thrive. Thanks in advance.

After the interval, it was Bartok's Concerto for Orchestra. I found it a little more difficult for myself to relate to music. Nevertheless, I could stay relatively awake throughout the entire duration. The nap did help afterall. The final movement was quite rousing. I quite like the heroic theme played on the trumpet.

But after the concert, I admit that I felt quite tired. My throat is feeling sore right now. My shoulders are still aching if I were to consciously move the shoulder muscles in certain manners. I could only hope for good health in the meantime.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Concert Fatigue?

My friend, Mystic, said to me last week that I could be having concert fatigue. She speculated that I could have been feeling tired lately during concerts simply because I had attended much too many concerts lately. Could that be? Or was my general tiredness during the past few concerts a result of overworking myself?

I don't have the answers for now.

This evening, I attended the concert presented by the Singapore Symphony Orchestra. Yes, yet again. This evening's concert was an event which is part of the Singapore Arts Festival. It is titled Stephen Hough Plays Rachmaninov.

Opening this evening's concert was George Bizet's Symphony No. 1 in C major. I think it must have been a result of general tiredness from overworking or lack of rest, I could not keep fully awake and alert while the orchestra was playing the first and second movement. Things got a little better during the third and fourth movement, but I was still feeling a little sleepy. I wonder how much my ears were really appreciating the music. My apologies if I had seem to be disrespectful to the music. I did not mean to be tired.

Next on the programme was Rachmaninov's Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, Op. 43. The pianist, I felt, had played much better than another pianist whom I had heard playing the same repertoire live. Somehow, he has this charisma on the stage. I quite like his interpretation of the work. Yet, I could not help but have my mind turned to "partial sleep mode" at certain points of the performance of this work. But when he played the Variation 18, my ears seemed to cry out to my mind that I must pay full attention and be alert. So I did. Somehow the playing of the Variation 18 seems to melt away the gloom from the preceding variations.

Then it was interval. I could not help, but to continue to feel tired. But I was not too tired that I doze off totally in the concert hall. I do not know why, but my left shoulder has been aching since the morning. Why is my shoulders taking turns to ache? I spent some time trying to self-massage my shoulder during the interval, in hope of relieving the aches, but the aches still did not go away.

After interval, the orchestra played Elgar's Enigma Variation, Op. 36. Whether it was due to concert fatigue or general tiredness, I confess that there were occassions during the performance of the work when my mind just went "disconnected". It felt as if the mind just blanked out, and my eyes shut down. Yet when the orchestra played the "Nimrod Variation", my mind starts to get to fully awakened mode. I like the "Nimrod Variation", it appeals to me. I also like the Finale of the Enigma Variation. I suppose my mind does really practise selective attention?

The orchestra played an encore this evening. The orchestra rarely plays encore even if there were roars of applause from the audience, so having an encore being played makes the concert special. Elgar's Pomp & Circumstances was played, and I was able to stay alert throughout the orchestra's rendition of the encore. What an irony. My mind slept through much of the concert's main programme but became alert when the encore was played. Anyway, I quite like the encore.

I still have no answers whether I have had concert fatigue, but I am feeling really tired from the day. So, good night.

Enjoy the night. Somehow tonight's skies are pretty dark, and dark skies make the stars look much more visible. So there's beauty in darkness, it makes stars look more visible and brighter.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Lost and not found

*Sneeze*. I was sneezing a moment ago. Not a good sign. The sneeze seems to indicate failing health. I could only ask if you could please wish me good health.

Health refers not only to physical health, it also includes emotional health. I wonder if I would be reaching the brink very soon?

I love the tunes of the Carpenters, especially those more melancholic and sad ones. Karen Carpenter's voice and singing is simply touching.

My ears prefer music played in minor keys than major keys. It is as if when I am feeling low and sad, I needed equally sad tunes to comfort me. Perhaps because it is through listening to sad tunes that I felt understood. It is as if the sad tunes sang out for me my deepest sorrows and gloom. Those deepest feelings that I often found difficult to express verbally. The outlet to express, is like a key that releases one's pent-up feelings.

Too cheerful a tune playing when I am feeling sad, that would have sound as if I was fooling my own emotions. Yet, there is comfort in cheerful and beautiful tunes at times. They tell us how life could be beautiful at times.

I love the introduction to Carpenter's Ticket to Ride. The music arrangement of the introduction melts my heart. And it is playing right now, Ticket to Ride.

It is now playing Goodbye to Love. That part of the lyrics, "No one ever cared if I should live or die", make me wonder. I wonder who would ever care if this was the case. As I contemplate over this, my ears are listening intently to that long guitar-and-vocals fade of Goodbye to Love.

The feeling is that of being lost. Sadness looms. Maybe I needed another walk, even if I were to go on "auto-pilot walking" again.

I tried to express what goes on inside me, and I doubt my ability to express all that goes on within fully. It must have been me. Please do not expect me to make myself too explicit where it comes to sharing my inner self. The inner self is a sacred place that even the closest of folks would not gain easy access to.

I, at times, hope people may be clever or skillful enough to read my implicit expressions. At times, I may feel disappointed that they could not. When disappointments strikes, I reminded myself it was probably of no fault of theirs. They could not see through me and access what goes on in that sacred inner self. There was not much avenue for access. I could only hope that writing about part of what goes on within helps others discover that hidden sacred inner self of mine.

Perhaps writing has unknowingly become my friend? I did not do well for English when I was in much my school years. Scoring distinctions for Chinese was much easier than for English. At times, writing compositions in English in my earlier years can be awkward. I had not know how to start. It felt as if there were strict guides to follow, and with that, writing lost its power in giving me an outlet to express myself. Maybe now, I have come a little further.

I must have been rambling. Nothing in this post seems to fit well together. If I was lost, I had not been found, as yet.

While writing about sad feelings did not make them go away, it has seemed to help me get in touch with what have been real yet hidden. And with the new experience of sad feelings, it was easier not to let sadness bother as much. There is perhaps, strength, found even within sadness itself. Strength to make the world out there a little better.

If this post is too abstract, please let it be. It was meant to be difficult to interpret, though I tried to make it reader-friendly.

Treat for your eyes

CHIJMES, Singapore. Posted by Hello

It is Thursday. I felt awfully tired at the end of the work day.

Earlier today, I asked the intern whom I am supervising to think about what would keep her motivated in the work that social workers do. There are ups and downs in the profession, probably in every kind of profession. My supervisor told me that this would be an important question to ask so that in down times, there would be a source of strength to keep one going.

I thought for a moment, and I think what keeps me motivated in the job is to have the privilege to witness the strengths that my clients demonstrate along the way. It reminds me of the power and strength of humanity, on its most positive note. Many of my clients started unsure if they could meet up with life's challenges, but through efforts of their own, they managed to overcome life's challenges.

Hopefully this source of motivation would keep me going for a while, long enough for the "better times" to come. It has made me feel like crying right inside when work gets too overwhelming. It has been.

I could at this point in time try to comfort myself by treating my eyes to a photograph that I had taken. Somehow, I hope it would give one a sense of beauty and serenity. I have a feeling that some of the readers of this blog might like it. Would you?

26 May - 26 June 05, Singapore Arts Festival

Today marks the commencement of the Singapore Arts Festival 2005.

For more information, please refer to the Singapore Arts Festival's official website: http://www.singaporeartsfest.com

For a listings of the various Arts Festival events, please refer to this calender.

If there are budget constraints, and yet you would like to get acquainted or even immersed in the various arts form, check out the Outreach Calendar, for arts performances, mostly free-of-charge.

That is for now. I shall keep this post as short and simple as possible. Check out the links please.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

It Pays to Ask

This evening, I was having orchestra rehearsals. Prior to the orchestra rehearsals, the double bass section had a sectionals with our tutor. I appreciate our tutor for his patient and firm guidance. I think he gives his best possible, and that makes double bass playing inspiring and satisfying.

He explained to us about the concepts and ideas behind playing Tchaikovsky's music. Since today, I could better appreciate why Tchaikovsky seems to write beautiful melodies, and yet at times put in "broken rhythms" that seem to interrupt the general flow of the music. The interpretation was that despite seeing life so beautiful outside one's world (as experienced by others), one's world is actually full of gloom, struggles and unhappiness. Tchaikovsky must have been a not-so-happy man in his lifetime, yet he shares with the world one precious gift, his music.

For today's orchestra rehearsals, we had a "guest conductor" to conduct us. He was an ex-member of the orchestra, and he came this evening to conduct us as our resident conductor is overseas attending courses to upgrade his conducting skills. We played the first movement of Tchaikovsky's Fifth Symphony, and then Mendelssohn's Fingals Cave. Probably we played Fingals Cave at a slightly slower tempo than last Wednesday, my fingers and left hand did not experience as much "cramps" as compared to last week when we played a very difficult and long passage. It seems that each conductor would have his own way of interpreting a piece of music. It sometimes help to have a guest conductor, then the orchestra could experience playing the same symphony in slightly different ways.

Anyway, I shall now stay focused, and write about something that relates to the title of this post.

I took time-off from work this afternoon. I was still in search of that book that I was looking for since Sunday. I guess my hunch told me I should persist, so I did. I went to the Clementi bookshop (I hope I've got the name of the shop right?) to check if it would carry the book. Nope it did not.

I had already been to the university's Co-op about a month ago to look for the book, but at that time, I was told that the co-op did not have any stock of the book. Anyway, I guess an unknown force told me to try again. Mind you, yours truly do not enjoy dealing with disappointments, so it takes greater emotional strength to urge myself to try checking out the Co-op again this afternoon.

At the Co-op, I tried my best to search and look through each and every shelf where books related to the Social Sciences were being displayed. I tried making sure that I did not miss out any, so I actually looked through the same shelves the second time. No sign of the book that I had wanted to find.

I thought of asking the person at the help-desk if the co-op would carry the book, but I truly fear ending up with a "nil" response. Also, one of the staff at the help-desk actually attended to me about a month ago, and he told me the book was out-of-stock. For quite a while, my mind was filled with this thought: "It would be embarrassing if I were to ask him and get the same reply. Would he think that I did not trust him one month ago? Then again, he looks such a fine gentleman, I don't think he would scold me for asking him about the same book once again. Afterall, who knows, the co-op may have got new stocks now?"

Just when I was contemplating whether or not to ask, I saw that that particular staff was busy with something else, so I grabbed the opportunity to ask another staff about the book. I thought it would be less embarrassing for me to ask someone else. It sure took a bit of self-coaxing for me to approach the help-desk to ask. So I asked, and it paid off.

The co-op happened to have copies of the book. There were limited copies, so the book was not on display on the shelves. Apparently, the staff was immediately able to tell me that the co-op had the book when I gave him a slip of paper bearing the title of the book. I think the co-op must have acquired that title quite recently? Whatever it is, I have gotten the book finally. I suppose, it does pay to ask.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

I've got Mail!

About an hour and more ago, I reached home. Thank goodness that I had managed to complete a few recordings and a few tasks at hand, so I felt less loaded with work by the end of the day. There are still more work to be done tomorrow, I keep my fingers crossed that I would pull through these all.

Anyway, I reached home at about 9.30 p.m. Tonight was the night that I had to work at night.

There was one surprise when I got home. I found that I have got a mail by post! Guess what it is?

It is the Singapore Symphony Orchestra's 05/06 Concert Season booklet. This is the booklet that I would like to have. Having this booklet to refer to sure beats referring to the online versions of the Singapore Symphony Orchestra's o5/06 Concert Season listings. There is priority booking for subscribers. Furthermore, I am a Friends-of-SSO. I have no reason why I should not get myself a copy of the booklet.

I am unsure if I should subscribe to too many concerts performed by the Singapore Symphony Orchestra. For the past one month, I felt not fully satisfied with the concerts by Singapore Symphony Orchestra. I dread to imagine feeling bored to sit through too many unsatisfying concerts in the future. Maybe my ears are demanding for some kind of sound that would melt my heart?

The Singapore Symphony Orchestra is playing reasonably well, just that it seems to be missing some X-factor, but I can't what that is. Somehow, my hunch is that while the orchestra sounded well, it is missing in its courage to take risks in performing.

I do not mean that the orchestra has to play awfully strange repertoires. In fact, I must admit that my ears still find more beauty in music from the Baroque, Classical and Romantic period. My ears needed more time to accustom to contemporary repertoires, especially those strange-sounding ones. What I meant by "missing in its courage to take risks" is that the orchestra players appear to be sometimes too afraid to make big mistakes on stage that they restrained themselves from playing the best that they could be. Playing the best involves taking greater risks (calculated ones, of course), I would think. Playing reasonably all right involves taking lesser risks because one may try not to play out difficult sections so as to avoid sounding wrong. This is my reasoning, and I have no idea if I am right. Yet, I suppose if I were, there will be beauty in taking risks. Letting go of the fear of making mistake, could be the key to develop that X-factor?

It seems to also be missing in a sense of unity as an orchestra. I guess this would just take time to develop, for members of the orchestra to feel together as one. It must have been the effects of the night, I am getting philosophical.

Nevertheless, despite several disappointments that I had encountered, I shall continue to subscribe to some of the concerts performed by the Singapore Symphony Orchestra. Hopefully, this time round, I could be more apt to choose concerts that would entice my ears.

Monday, May 23, 2005

When I can't get to sleep

I am feeling tired but I could not sleep. So I shall play music from the compilation album of Carpenter's music. The track that is playing right now is Yesterday Once More.

Music should soothe. I love the melancholic tunes. I found them easier to relate to.

It is regretful that such talented people like Karen Carpenter had to die young. But her voice and persona shall live on, in our memories.

And since I am at the topic of "When I can't get to sleep", I shall list down some of the things that I would do if I cannot put myself to sleep. Here goes (not in order of preference):
  • Play the double bass (though not late at night, or else I would need to use a practising mute.)
  • Read a book
  • Write, keep writing (blogging is a form of writing)
  • Listen to music, usually melancholic tunes
  • Sing to the music
  • Watch TV and flood my senses
  • Toss about the bed and try to sleep, but find that I can't
  • Surf the internet
  • Sketch whatever comes to mind
  • Look out of my window, out into the darkness of the night
  • Chat with friends on MSN or ICQ
  • Let my thoughts overflow
  • Start to feel irritated that I cannot sleep! (especially when I am very tired)
I would be interested to know what my readers would do when he/ she cannot get to sleep. Your contributions are welcome.

Walking till my feet ache

My feet are aching, probably from a day of walking. Actually, if I include the amount of distance that I have travelled yesterday, I had done quite a fair amount of walking in these two days.

Since I don't not carry a measuring tape around to be able to calculate the exact distance that I had travelled these two days, I shall report the routes that I had taken during these two days.

If I happen to have any reader who know the routes around Singapore well enough to be able to give me an estimate of the distances that I had travelled, I shall be appreciative.

I shall promise to write descriptions long enough to ensure that you would believe me that I had walked a lot these two days.

On 22 May 2005:
I took an MRT train to Dhoby Ghaut MRT station and walked from the station to the Singapore Art Museum. Throughout the entire two hours that I was there, I was walking from exhibits to exhibits. There were only few short moments when I had a chance to rest my feet.

After that, I walked to Bras Basah Complex to look for a book. I combed almost the entire second level of the complex but had no finding. Then I walked to the Kinokuniya Bookstore at Bugis Junction. There was such a crowd there, I gave up trying to ask the counter staff for assistance to search the database for the book that I had wanted.

Then I walked to the Asian Civilisation Museum (Empress Place), and then spent time walking within the museum itself. When I left the museum, I spent time walking between the Old Parliament House and the new Parliament House, and also walked along a short stretch of the Singapore River.

After which, I walked to the MICA building from the new Parliament House to take a bus to Little India. That was a short moment when I could take a seat. At Little India, I could not stand still to wait for my friend, so I paced up and down about the meeting place. Pacing, in itself, is a form of walking. Then when my friend reached the meeting place, we walked to the eatery for dinner. After dinner, we walked to another spot for a second round of dinner, only to discover that it was not open. That was fine. Strangely, I did not mind walking yesterday. Then we walked further to a restaurant for the second round of dinner. After the second serving of dinner, we walked to Mustafa Centre. Then we walked about within the compound of Mustafa Centre. When we were done with Mustafa Centre, we walked all the way from Mustafa Centre to Sim Lim Square to take a bus home.

23 May 2005:
I took an MRT train to Orchard MRT station. I walked to Borders Bookstore to check out for the same book that I did not manage to get. The bookstore did not carry the title, and I hate to reserve for I feared that I would end up waiting indefinitely for the book even if I were to reserve.

Then I walked, via the underpass, to the Kinokuniya Bookstore at Ngee Ann City. I got a nil response too for the same book. Trying to lighten my feelings of disappointments, I decided to spend some time at the Kinokuniya Bookstore and after much browsing, I bought myself a map of Scotland.

Then I travelled to the Orchard Library and borrowed some travel guides of Scotland. I checked for the book too, but there was one and only one copy held at the Repository Used Books Collection. The book could not be loaned out, but could only be read within the compounds of one of the Regional libraries. When I asked how long I would need to wait before I could get to browse the book, the librarian-on-duty told me that she was not certain because it was dependable on how long her colleagues at the repository (which is like a warehouse) take to find the book. I decided that getting the book via the National Library Board was an awfully unaccessible option so I ended up not making a reservation for it.

As if I had not enough of walking, I walked to Paragon to check ou if there were any bookstores there. There was none, but I spent some time at one of the shops there. Then I walked to Centrepoint Shopping Centre to check out the Times Bookstore. The reply that I got was "Sorry, we don't carry this title."

More walking awaits. I walked from Centrepoint, to Stamford Road, walked to The Adelphi, and then to Peninsula Plaza. No attempt had been made to take any other modes of transport in-between. My mind just decided that I had to walk, even though taking a bus was an affordable option. Before my feet die from exhaustion, I did my feet some justice by taking a break for meal at Peninsula Plaza. There I sat for about close to half an hour.

Maybe the urge to walk has became ingrained in me. I would not be surprised that if I were to stand up from this very seat which I am now sitting on, my feet would go on auto-pilot mode and start walking. I still feel like walking, but my feet are aching, so I shall consciously rest my feet. They ache such that I find myself walking with a slight limp on my left leg. I would think that if anyone would to show me some concern, my tears would start shedding.

So, how far do you think I have travelled on my feet for the past two days?

I somehow foresee that I would still wish to walk long distances tomorrow and the days after, until my feet simply protest from walking.

Boats, they sail away

Near Asian Civilisation Museum (Empress Place) Posted by Hello

Will the gloom sail away too?

Or do they stay, just like the boats that are parked near the jetty, until someone with a more joyful mood comes to request for the boats to sail away?

Day at the Museums

Yesterday, was 22 May 2005, and there were free admissions at several museums in celebration of the International Museum Day.

Several hours before I met QH to have dinner at Little India, I was visiting the musuems, namely, the Singapore Art Museum and the Asian Civilisation Museum (Empress Place).

It was pleasant to see the lobby of the Singapore Art Museum get a new look. Hopefully, with its new look, it could attract more visitors.

The exhibition that one should catch at the Singapore Art Museum is the one titled "Art of Our Time". It features the museum's permanent collection. I was pleased to participate in a tour of this exhibition given by one of the museum's curators, Ms Joyce Chan. The Singapore component, "Unyielding Passion: 8 Masters of Singapore Art" , features eight artists who have made significant contributions to the Singapore's art scene. My favourite artists among them were Georgette Chen, Chua Mia Tee. I also quite appreciate the works of Liu Kang and Iskandar Jalil. Going through the part of the exhibition reminds of the days that I took art history of Singapore back in my secondary years.

The other component (The Southeast Asian component) of the same exhibition was referred to as "Of Tides and Times: Encounters with Southeast Asian Art". It explores the art of the Southeast Asian through themes that range from nation-building, social commentary and notions of identity. It took me a while to relate to the works in this sections for I have comparatively less knowledge of Southeast Asian art as compared to Singapore art and Western art. In my opinion, appreciation of certain works would deepened with greater understanding of the historical, social and cultural context in which the works were created. Rather than lamenting on my comparatively limited knowledge of Southeast Asian art, I decided to take the chance to learn new knowledge.

I enjoyed the tour. It felt as if I was enriched in terms of my knowledge of the art of Singapore and Southeast Asia.

I also visited the "President’s Young Talents 2005" exhibition held at the Singapore Art Museum. However, I was probably still trying to digest the information that I was provided with from the "Art of Our Time" exhibition that I found myself having some challenges relating to the exhibits in the "President’s Young Talents 2005" exhibition. So, I decided to visit the Singapore Art Museum some other day.

I walked about the area nearby the Singapore Art Museum to find a book, and to take photographs. Towards the later part of the afternoon, I was at the Asian Civilisation Museum (Empress Place), to catch glimpses of the exhibitions there. I did not spend as much time there.

After the Asian Civilisation Museum, I walked about, and found myself near the Parliament House. It was quite a surprise for me to find mushrooms growing on the grass compounds of the Parliament House. I have no idea how the spores of the mushrooms found themselves there. Perhaps someone had wanted to test how fertile the compound was?

Mushrooms found nearby the Parliament House. Posted by Hello

Anyway, if you have missed visiting the museums yesterday, you may visit them on other days, (though please note that there will be admission charges usually). By the way, you might be pleased to know that on Fridays, 6.00pm - 9.00pm, admission to the Singapore Art Museum, the Singapore History Museum and the Asian Civilisation Museum is free.

When one's energy is flat

When rechargable batteries go flat, we could put them onto the recharging-unit to recharge them. I wonder how one could recharge one's energy when one's energy goes flat?

I could have been searching unconsciously for a way to find more balance in my life. There seems no clear directions at the moment, I have no idea where I am meant to head in life. I could only try to search and discover.

Sometimes I wish I had a clearer map to guide me, then again, if there had been a clearer map, life won't be much of an adventure. Yet somehow, a lack of some sense of direction seems to be somewhat discouraging for me, gradually draining my emotional energy away. The best I could do is have faith that somehow my map would be mapped out the way that it was meant to be eventually.

But now, I am feeling tired, flat of energy, from the daily routine. At this rate, I wonder if I would go on a emotional strike? How could I find balance and peace, to help me to recharge?

Am listening to music now. It does soothe a little.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Evening at Little India

Indian temple along Little India (Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple) Posted by Hello

It was meant to be a dinner for the double bassists from the double bass section, anyway, in the end, only myself and QH were present for the dinner.

I met QH nearby the bus-stop opposite the new Tekka Mall and we had Indian food for dinner together. We actually spent our evening in an area that was fondly referred to by fellow Singaporeans as "Little India". According to one website that I had visited, the introduction of cattle rearing on the fertile land near Rochor River and the building of the Race Course for the Europeans nearby in 1843 have attracted many immigrants from Calcutta, Madras and Malaya to the area. Soon enough, the area became a flourishing commercial centre for the Indian community.

We had dinner at an eatery that serves North Indian food. I have forgotten its name, but it starts with "Komala". I know it isn't very helpful, but this is the best I could provide. We ordered poori, masala thosai and some Indian desserts. The poori tasted nice with the chickpeas and sauce. QH told me that poori was made into ball-shapes and then deep-fried. In a way, it means that the thosai should be healthier food compared to poori. Afterall, thosai isn't deep-fried.

The Indian desserts were sweet. One of the desserts that we had was called Gulab Jamun. Gulab Jamum, I understand, are Indian milk balls deep fried and soaked in honey syrup. It is sweet, a treat for those with a sweet-tooth. I am not one, but I could sample it for the novelty of it.

Poori: with dough made from whole-wheat flour, made into balls and deep-fried. Posted by Hello

Masala Thosai, with its sauces. Posted by Hello

Dinner was affordable and satisfying. QH told me that because the eatery was not a restaurant, customers are expected to leave once they have finished eating their meals. The staff of the eatery had been prompt. They cleared our tables the moment that we finished eating and were ready to leave.

Hence we left the eatery. QH said there is a restaurant along Race Course Road that sells nice Naan. We headed there. Along the way, we could see the area crowded with people. I don't like crowds, mind you. But I guess today's crowd was not the worst that I had encountered.

Little India, full of people. Posted by Hello

The restaurant that QH had wanted to go to try the Naan was not opened, so we headed for yet another. I cannot remember the name of the restaurant that we went to, for I did not make any effort to look at its name in the first place. The place was air-conditioned.

We ordered Garlic Naan, Chaphati and a mutton dish. QH ordered Masala tea too. Prior to serving the Naan, we were being served an appetiser consisting of onions topped with some peppermint-tasting sauce. The sauce had the taste of Indian yogurt, and QH agreed. QH said that just like Chinese may eat peanuts before a meal as a form of appetiser, the Indians eat this dish prior to eating Naan. I don't have more details about the appetiser other than what you read here, but please feel free to contribute.

The appetiser, before eating the Naan. Posted by Hello

Naan, as I got to find out, is dough made from refined flour. The process of making naan goes like this: The dough is slapped at the side of the tandoor, then hooked with an iron skewer and taken out. The garlic naan is sprinkled with garlic. The garlic naan at that restaurant did not taste fantastic. It was below expectations. However, I like the Chapati. I like its texture. It sure beats the naan from the same restaurant. The mutton dish was alright though average. After all the two meals, you bet I was very full.

The Garlic Naan on the left, and the Chapati on the right. Posted by Hello

Mutton masala? Anyway, it's mutton in thick spicy sauce alright. Posted by Hello

I learnt one thing today that Masala actually refers to an assortment of herbs and spices. If I could remember correctly, the Masala Tea contains spices such as cloves, cinnamon, fennel and so forth. The aroma of the tea is rather strong.

Masala tea. Posted by Hello

After the second round of dinner, QH and I walked to the Mustafa Centre, a well-known shopping centre that is located in the area. We walked about within the Mustafa Centre's compound. It was relatively large and sells almost everything. Just for chocolates alone, there were at least five rows of shelves on which various brands of chocolates were being displayed. This is considered quite a lot in Singapore's context. I was told that this Mustafa Centre opens 24-hours. I personally would think that shopping in Mustafa Centre would not really give me a positive shopping experience for I do not like the crowd there, yet it does sell quite a variety of Indian food which we would seldom find in other supermarkets in Singapore.

It was quite an enriching evening. I thank QH for bringing me around.

By the way, if you would like more information about touring Little India, you could check out this URL: http://www.littleindia.com.sg/stb/stb_index.htm

Aberdeen International Youth Festival

I have mentioned in my earlier post that I will be participating in the Aberdeen International Youth Festival this coming August with the orchestra.

Since I hold a full-time job, I have to take leave from my job for the event. If you think I would be paid to play in the Aberdeen Internation Youth Festival, then you will find yourself wrong. In turn, I would have to pay for my own airfares and accomodation. Then again, I guess the relatively affordable accomodation rates for participants and the thought of playing some of my favourite music had entice me to register to participate in the event.

My main woes will be that I do not know what kind of double bass I would lay my hands on when I get there. We will rent the double basses there at Aberdeen. Four of them. I have no idea what kind of double basses we would get. A well set-up double bass will be easier to play, but I fear getting an instrument otherwise.

Apparently, it would costs a lot to transport a double bass there. Ideally, we should buy a $2000 flight case (since we have no flight case for the double bass) for each double bass, and then insure each well enough. Also I expect that there will be heavy taxes because double basses on flight cases can prove to be bulky and heavy. Then we have to figure out how to clear the customs and load the double bass safely onto the plane.

For some, I know they will buy a seat on the flight for the double bass. Of course, it means that the relevant people from the crew must know how to strap the double bass onto the flight seat. I read somewhere that the recommended way is to turn the double bass upside down so that the scroll will touch the floor, and then strap it to the seat. Supposedly, the neck of the double bass is one of the strongest parts of the double bass.

Enough about my woes over the instrument issues. I shall write briefly about my plans to take photographs during my trip. Since yours truly is quite into taking photographs of sceneries and landscapes, I shall do my best to reward your eyes with the sceneries of Aberdeen (and maybe other parts of the United Kingdom, if I ever get the chance to visit) when I am there. This is provided that my camera works throughout the entire course of my trip there. Please keep your fingers crossed for me that my photography tools would stay in good working condition for the entire trip.

A few friends have asked me to take photographs of people (for example when we are at the concert hall and so forth). I shall try, but no promise. I think I might just get carried away with the sceneries. Anyway, a few of my colleagues complained that when I take photographs of people, I was more interested in capturing a beautiful background!!! I cannot help but say that capturing sceneries of landscapes entice me more than capturing images of people, so there is some likelihood that I would prefer to put my focus on getting the best of the sceneries.

To help prepare for the trip, I would be doing some research of Aberdeen. Maybe this is a characteristic of people with the personality profile of INFJ to research about the places that they would be visiting?

Anyway, if it does not bore my readers, I shall be glad to share a bit of my findings on this blog. I welcome your contributions if you have something to share about Aberdeen.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Musical Baton?

Crazy cat passed me a musical baton, and I don't know exactly what to do with it, but to take it.

So if I guessed it correctly, I am supposed to answer some questions.

Total volume of music files on my computer:
I don't personally store and save music files on my computer. I play directly from CDs, or listen to the online radio station 92.4FM.

I think my brothers have stored some music files on the computer that I use, but I have no intention to find out the total volume that they have stored, afterall it was not me who have stored them there.

The last CD I bought was:
Butterfly Lovers, composed by Chen Gang and He Zhan-hao. Played by Gil Shaham on the violin and accompanied by the Singapore Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Lan Shui.

Song playing right now:
Only Yesterday performed by Carpenters.

My Top Five (Not in order of preference):
1. Carpenters' compilation album Yesterday Once More: Greatest Hits 1969 to 1983
2. Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 5 in E minor, Op. 64, conducted by Valery Gergiev, performed by Wiener Philharmoniker. (I don't have this album personally, but I quite like listening to the Tchaikovsky's Fifth Symphony found in this album.)
3. I like Brahms' Symphony No. 4 but I have yet to figure out which recording I would truly prefer.
4. Rachmaninov's Piano Concerto No. 2
5. Undecided, I can't think of a fifth option, but I think Bach's music appeals to me in general.

Who to pass this baton to?
Since I am feeling too tired to pass the baton, I shall keep it with me for the moment, but if you would like to claim the baton from me, please feel free to let me know. Thanks.

Fatigue and Dismay setting in

I am feeling terribly tired by the end of the work week. I have no idea how things would be if workload continues to be so heavy. I would prefer pace to slow down, so that I could enjoy most moments of the process of doing my work and learning on the job. Yet, one part of me would hope to get things done soon.

I woke up today at 9 a.m. This is unusually late for an early riser. The mood for me to start the day seems to be fatigue and dismay. There seems nothing much to look forward to for today.

Strangely, my shoulder still continues to ache. I have no idea why. I wish it would go away soon.

When fatigue and dismay set in, somehow I lose the momentum to practise. Yet, I know my most trusted and loyal companion could probably be the double bass. The double bass, he has comforted me many times when I feel down. An irony that I do not seem to fit well with the rest of the world when I am feeling discouraged and melancholic. The rest of the world did not seem too competent to walk into my seemingly mysterious inner world as yet, but I have no wish either to make my world easier for the folks in the external world to gain access.

The weather is out of my control. I could not have any justified reason to complain that the weather today does not seem ideal for photography. Afterall, I have no control to change the weather, and having such a complaint will not result in any change in the weather to suit myself. I could either not go for photography, or I shall engage in taking photographs under such dull weather conditions and hope that I come up with creative shots that would depict the darker moods of the weather.

Not too sure what I could look forward to. Hopefully this long weekend will help me to recharge a little from the fatigue.

Friday, May 20, 2005

The late evening

When evening draws nearer, so does the darkness of the night. Posted by Hello

When melancholy and uncertainty strike, may one find beauty from within the shadows thrown by the evening skies.

Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall, taken during the late evening, in March 2005.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Celebrate International Museum Day - 22 May 05


There will be free entry to the Asian Civilisations Museum, Armenian Street, Asian Civilisations Museum, Empress Place, Air Force Museum, Singapore Art Museum, Singapore History Museum, Singapore Philatelic Museum & Reflections at Bukit Chandu, on 22 May 2005 (Sun), in celebration of the International Museum Day!

The courtyard, Singapore Art Museum Posted by Hello

If you are thinking of ways to spend this weekend in a more cultured manner, or if you simply wish to treat your eyes to a feast of enchanting exhibits, you may wish to take this chance to enjoy the benefit of the free entry.

If you have not visited a museum for quite a while, and you don't mind being exposed to and be updated of how museums look like nowadays, the free entry treat on 22 May 2005 is definitely not to be missed.

If you are wondering why I am so keen to promote for the event, it is because I hope to share my interests for the museum with you.

For tourists to Singapore, I would think that visiting the museum will help give a better appreciation of the history and cultures of Singapore.

Aside from free admission, there are even shuttle buses being engaged by the museums to give you more convenient access to the museums from the City Hall MRT Station.

For more details, please click on this link. (Adobe Acrobat Reader will be needed to read the pdf file.)


In case you are wondering why this technical-looking title is doing right above, it is the model of the digital camera that I have been using to take most of the photographs that you have seen on my blogs.

This post is an attempt to respond to those of you who wishes to know which camera I am using.

I am using the Kodak EasyShare CX7430 zoom digital camera.

Here are some of its functions:
4.0 megapixel picture resolution.
3x optical zoom, 4x advanced digital zoom,
lens: 34 -102 mm,
focusing range: 2 ft to infinity, with built-in flash.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Curves and contours

Esplanade - Theatres by the Bay. Posted by Hello

I am feeling too tired to write much for today, so I shall post a photograph that I had taken same time ago in April this year.

Look out for the curves and the contours in this image. Observe how the lines of the Esplanade's dome-shape structure fit together. If all fails, appreciate the colours of the white.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

War Memorial

War Memorial Posted by Hello

Yesterday, my friend, Mystic, told me that my photography skills have improved. Is this the case? I would be pleasantly flattered if it is.

For today, I thought of sharing a photo that I have taken of the War Memorial. If I understand accurately, this War Memorial is dedicated to civilians (of all races) who have lost their lives during World War II.

I like a duller looking photograph to match a not-so-bright mood. I also like to share a subject that bears witness to countless of sad stories, and a great number of stories that reveal the brighter side of humanity. Maybe this is the subject meant to suit my preferences?

This URL gives some background of the War Memorial Park: http://www.nparks.gov.sg/parks/loc/par-loc-war_mem.shtml

Tiring Tuesday

It is just Tuesday, second day of the work week. Yet, by the time I left office at about 9 p.m. at night, I felt awfully exhausted. One of my colleagues asked me some work-related questions, and I had to excuse myself from answering because I felt too drained to concentrate on answering the questions.

Tuesday is indeed a long day. I could only delight myself with the thought that I will be claiming time-off from work tomorrow's afternoon. Then I would set off for double bass sectionals and orchestra rehearsals.

Work is satisfying, but I wish I could either have a personal assistant, or I could have less cases on my hands. It can get awfully uneasy when I have too much work more than I could finish. Of course, I don't expect to have all work done by the end of day. Work just keeps coming in. But I don't like having the feeling that there is more backlogs than I could comfortably accept. Maybe my readers could pray hard for me that I am rich enough to afford a personal assistant, or to have less cases. Me and my wishes.

Anyway, yours truly is now feeling more energised with blogging. Perhaps too much interaction with the external world does drain some of my energy. Coming home and facing a computer monitor, and writing my blog helps ease me from tiredness a bit. I think the nice warm bath that I had just now has helped me feel more refreshed.

Well, hopefully tomorrow would be better.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Remote (Arafura Games)

Talking about being remote, I shall write in this post about a topic far from my usual topics.

I am no sports person, so I shall write a post here that would be sports related.

Until yesterday, I have no idea that Darwin is a name of a place located in Australia, so here's more reason for being remote. For those who do not know yet, it is alright. I started being ignorant. Darwin is, in the best of my knowledge, the capital of Australia’s Northern Territory

Have anyone of you heard of the Arafura Games? If you have, I will praise you for being in touch with the world of sports. I don't know, until I searched google.com for "Darwin" yesterday. The Arafura Games is now a leading international sporting competition for the developing athletes of the Asia-Pacific region.

If I am correct, the Arafura Games has its name inspired by the Arafura Sea. The Arafura Sea is a shallow part of the Pacific Ocean, between the Timor and Coral seas, separating Australia from New Guinea. If you visualise it on the map, it is the body of water joining Northern Australia and South East Asia.

For more information on the Arafura Games, please visit http://www.nt.gov.au/cdsca/dsr/arafura/2005/welcome.html

Here is wishing all contestants and participants of the Arafura Games all the best. Give your best.

First Sunday rehearsal for May

Sunny weather. Not cloudy. Just after noon hours. At this kind of weather condition, I found myself yesterday walking from a bus-stop nearby the National University Hospital to the Prince George's Park Residences which is a place of residence meant for graduate students. The entire journey took close to 15 minutes on foot. Maybe I should view this walking as a form of exercise, that is great for healthy living?

Our orchestra has moved to a temporary rehearsal venue at Prince George's Park Residence. This place is situated at one of the remote areas of the university. Maybe I should have brought my camera along yesterday so that I could take a photo of my journey on foot to the rehearsal venue. I am fine with walking, but I dread to imagine that the bow in my bow case might soon melt from the hot sun. Well, maybe the bow can't melt, but the rosin might.

For your general knowledge, string players use rosin on their bows in order to help better grip the string. And also for your general knowledge again, here's a site that offers some clues about what a double bass is: http://www.answers.com/topic/double-bass

Anyway, I eventually got to the rehearsal venue. The rehearsal room's doors weren't opened yet. There was a ruling that on Sundays, someone must go to the security point and sign in the log-book before one of the technicians could help us open the room. I must say, unless one is a resident of the compound (Prince George's Park), one may find difficulties finding the security point intuitively. Anyway, eventually the room was opened with some patience and a good sense of searching skills required to find the security point.

We started the rehearsals playing Mendelssohn's Fingals Cave. Most of my section mates from the double bass section were not able to come, and one of them who would come was late. In the end, I ended up playing all alone by myself, on the double bass, with the rest of the orchestra. I could only be thankful that my tutor had went through Fingals Cave with the section, and that I have been diligent to practise it. So I had managed to play a considerable amount of the entire overture. Yet, there were several passages that I had found myself struggling to play perfectly. Well, more practice would be needed.

The orchestra is preparing to go to Aberdeen for a music festival, i.e. the Aberdeen International Youth Festival. Yours truly will be going. Like any diligent and responsible player, I guess I could best do my part by practising. I am no professional musician, yet I could do my best to play well by practising. Playing scales and studies have been helpful, so I figured I needed to be consistent in doing so.

After the break, the orchestra played the fourth movement of Tchaikovsky's Fifth Symphony. I am liking the symphony more and more. Somehow, my ears are proned to symphonies that seem to depict inner struggles, and I felt this Fifth Symphony was one. The fourth movement is one of the more technically challenging movements of this symphony for the double bass. Now, I could manage this movement better than I did more than four months ago. I suppose this in itself is a small breakthrough?

Following the fourth movement of the Tchaikovsky's Fifth Symphony, we practised the third movement of the same symphony. It was not too difficult technically, but it requires diligent counting.

For a few moments, I wish I could play the rehearsal yesterday with more double bassists. Then the double bass section would produce a more stronger and louder sound. The double bass section sounds best, in my opinion, when it is strong enough to support the rest of the orchestra, and lay a good foundation for the orchestra.

That's all for the day. Sometimes I wish I have a driver to shuttle me to the new temporary rehearsal venue, which is quite out of the way by public buses, especially on Sundays. Until then, I shall bear with what seems to be physical exertion.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Learning Swedish

I chanced upon this blog titled How to learn Swedish in 1000 difficult lessons when I was visiting Reflections in d minor.

I was quite attracted to consider Sweden as a possible place to visit after I had attended an art exhibition at the Singapore Art Museum about a year ago. This exhibition had showcased the works and designs of Swedish designers, and I found myself quite attracted to the designs and the country.

For now, you may wish to sit comfortably at home and learn a few Swedish. The URL of How to learn Swedish in 1000 difficult lessons is: http://www.francisstrand.blogspot.com.

Double bass recital on 14 May 2005

Yesterday, I attended a double bass recital at the YMS Arts Centre.

Xu Li was playing the double bass for this recital. Also playing in this recital was Mr Yew Hong Chow, on the harmonica.

Double bass recital in Singapore aren't so frequent as compared to violin, or piano recitals. So, despite feeling quite tired from a long week, I decided to drag myself there to listen.

The double bass was quite a difficult-to-play instrument. I would say it is to some extent, more physically demanding than playing the violin or the viola. So I would say that although there were a few slip-ups in the playing, Xu Li played reasonably well. It was commendable for him to organise such a recital to share double bass music with us all.

I think I would need at least a few years (maybe more) of good, solid practising before I could play as good as Xu Li. I wish I could be good enough to give a recital of such nature one day. Now, that means more practise, and perhaps considering the possibility of registering myself as a music student to spend more time to study the double bass. I find myself uncertain if this would be the path I would be committed to take.

Anyway, Xu Li played the following for this recital, on the double bass:
  • Teleman - Unaccompanied Sonata in A major (1st and 2nd movement)
  • Bottesini's - Grand Allegro "alla Mendelssohn"
  • Gliere - Four Pieces for bass and piano
  • Bracali - "Soliloquy" for bass solo (2004)
Then I got to realise that the piece that I had heard during the masterclass which I had attended earlier this month was the Bottesini's piece.

Mr Yew
who played the harmonica last evening also captivated my ears. Where it comes to harmonica, I have only heard the harmonica being played by harmonica students who are my age or younger. So, I must say, before I had attended the recital, I was uncertain if I would enjoy the harmonica segments of the recital. Anyway, I am pleased that I did. I think Mr Yew has a good tone of sound on his harmonica. He played musically too. Now, I could have a different and more positive opinion about harmonica playing. Thanks to Mr Yew. I quite like his rendition of Schubert's Cradle Song and Brahms' Hungarian Dance No. 6.

So despite a tiring day, I was able to stay alert throughout the entire of last evening's recital. Things would have been more perfect if more double bassists could be present to listen.

Lunch with grandma

Thanks to SingNet (the company which I subscribe to for broadband connection), I got a special voucher that would allow me to get a complimentary buffet meal for one person at the cafe of Hotel Phoenix. There was a condition to the use of this voucher, I must use it on the same month as my birthday, or the month immediately following it. Also, in order to use this voucher, there must be an accompanying paying guest.

I have been to the cafe at Hotel Phoenix, and the food there tastes pretty good. I thought it would be good to give my maternal grandmother a treat. Of course, I could also take it as a chance to give myself a treat too.

So yesterday afternoon, I asked my grandmother out and we went to have buffet lunch at Hotel Phoenix's Cafe. Lunch was good. I was glad that the food there suited my grandmother's taste. She said she like the sausages and the smoked salmon. She also found the steamed fish in soya sauce to be nice.

The roti prata there is supposedly quite good. I had tried it once about a few months ago, and I felt it was nice. Yesterday's roti prata was not quite up to expectation. That was probably because the chicken curry and the mutton curry that was supposed to go with the roti prata did not taste as nice yesterday. Somehow, I felt that the proportions of the spices in the curries were just wrong, at least for yesterday.

I like the smoked salmon and the mussels. The chicken in creamy mushroom sauce was nice too. The noodles were good too, at least the noodles weren't too oily, and the beansprouts found in the noodles are fresh. The durian cake is nice and rich, but since it was rich, I did not have more than half a slice of it.

Lunch was also good in that I could grab some time to chat with my grandmother.

So here's a short post about yesterday's lunch with my grandmother.

Actually, if I were to choose, I would prefer breakfast over lunch. I prefer the menu for breakfast.

Saturday, May 14, 2005


Bukit Timah at the background.  Posted by Hello

Alone by itself at the back is Bukit Timah Hill. It is the tallest hill in Singapore.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Friday the13th, a tiring day

Today has been such a tiring day somehow. By the end of the work-day, I felt terribly tired.

There were three almost back-to-back sessions with clients this afternoon. I managed to survive and performe as best as is required, yet I was pretty drained at the very end. Next time, I shall schedule longer breaks in-between each session to give allowances for unforeseen circumstances.

Embarrassing to say, I was so tired that I was at a "half-asleep" mode when I was listening to a concert by the Singapore Symphony Orchestra this evening. Please pardon me, I was too tired, so the music must be heavenly fantastic before I could be made more alert.

The concert was alright, but I was tired. Shlomo Mintz was the conductor for the concert, and he was also the violin soloist. It was noteworthy to know that he conducted the orchestra from the violin tonight, while playing the solo violin for Beethoven's Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 61. I think his sound on his instrument was pretty good. It was clear and refined, to my ears. It was just a pity that I was too tired to appreciate his playing fully.

I think Shlomo Mintz must have played very well. I saw many people from the audience giving standing ovations.

But truly, after sitting through the concert and wishing I had been less tired, the next thought on my mind was to get home to rest and relax. So, I shall end the post here. I needed a rest soon.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Welcome back Mystic

For Mystic's eyes' pleasure. Posted by Hello

Mystic is back. She spoke to me on the phone this afternoon. Actually, she had tried to call me yesterday but I missed the call. Meantime, wishing her a good week ahead. Here is a photo dedicated to Mystic to brighten her day.

Back from rehearsal

Just about half an hour ago, I reached home from rehearsal. Actually, to be accurate, from supper that happened after the rehearsal.

This afternoon, there was an one hour sectional with our double bass tutor. He taught us a few things. If I had remembered and expressed these accurately, they go like this:

1. To articulate accents on notes that are supposed to be played softly (in terms of volume), the left hand could be employed to articulate the accents by trying to achieve something quite like a fast and quick vibrato on the left hand.

2. To make that leap from the C# on the first position of A string to the A (thumb position) on the G found in the first movement of Tchaikovsky's Fifth Symphony, we could raise our wrist to prepare to move the A note. This also applies to a few other passages.

Sectionals with our tutor have generally been enriching, in fact, always. I thank my tutor for being such an inspiring and responsible tutor.

Following sectionals was orchestra rehearsal. We played the second and the fourth movement from Tchaikovsky's Fifth Symphony. There was a short break mid-way during the orchestra rehearsal. When I returned to play after break, I felt my fingers were feeling tired from all the playing. Anyway, practice has helped. I managed to be able to play through most of the second and fourth movement. More improvement will be needed, but at least I managed to play through most of the passages. Now I could feel those hours spent on practising on my own were not in vain.

Practising scales and exercises have also helped me too. I wish I could somehow encourage one of my section mates to do more of this. He sounded very out of tune. I was too far from him to give him the feedback this evening. Could anyone tell me how to encourage him to do what is necessary to improve his intonation, without hurting his feelings or pride?

The double bass that I regularly used at the orchestra sounded more full in its sound. It had just returned from repair and maintenance. I thank the Luthier for the job well done.

For now, I look forward to the rehearsal held this coming Sunday. Yet first, I should find more time to practise and improve my intonation. It was not as bad, but it was not perfect. My friend who has perfect-pitch will still be able to find flaws in my intonation.

After rehearsal, YY was nice enough to give us a lift on his car to a fast-food restaurant. Emily had needed supper for she was too busy to have her dinner before the rehearsal. For myself, I had the Berrinice Yogurt (I hope this is its name).

So because of returning home late from rehearsal, I had missed writing a post for 11 May 2005. Anyway, it did not quite matter, would it?

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

The precious commodity

It has been a long day at work for me today. It is Tuesday, and I was scheduled for night duty this evening.

I still have lots of things to see to at office when I go back tomorrow. I think it would take about a good one week to work through those paperwork. Then again, considering that I would have to schedule for sessions with clients, and meetings with colleagues and partners, I may need more time.

So I suppose time is a precious commodity. It is invaluable, and yet, a pity money can never buy time. So if I needed time, I can't resort to buying time with money. I could only either cut down my committments, or give myself more time to complete things. In some situations, I could devise more efficient way to use time. Sometimes, I do not enjoy living in a fast-paced society. When things go too fast, I felt I did not have enough time to smell the flowers, and enjoy life at leisure. Anyway, for leisure, I shall write a post on this blog.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Disjointed post: 9 May 05

Today's post shall be short and possibly, disjointed.

The weather has been good for photography today, but since it is a workday, I did not have the luxury to travel outdoors to take photographs.

Today also marks the first day when I start being a field supervisor to a social work intern. The intern will be at my centre for field placement. I tend to get some self-doubts at the beginning of any endeavours, then again, I should trust myself that I should be able to live up to the expectations as a qualified field supervisor. Hey, I have read at least one and a half books (going on to two full books) just to prepare myself to be more aware of issues related to field placement and field supervision. Of course, I could do more along the way.

Now I am wondering how Mystic has been. Hopefully she is enjoying herself right now. I look forward to a more recharged Mystic.

I practised on the double bass this evening. 45 minutes on the double bass. Sight-read several double bass pieces taken from Hartley Double Bass Solo 2. These include double bass solo excerpts from Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 Presto and Allegro assai, Britten's The Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra Variation H, Stravinsky's Pulcinella Suite Vivo, Verdi's Otello Act 4 Poco piu mosso. Also played some exercises from F. Simandl's. I like the Beethoven's piece among them all.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Now, I am the drawing

I was prompted to try the following test again, and this time, I came out as the drawing. Maybe this might have been a more accurate result than the flower? I am not very certain.

But for one thing, I do feel misunderstood many of the times.

You are the drawing.

Saint Exupery's 'The Little Prince' Quiz.
brought to you by Quizilla

8 May 2005

Today's yours truly birthday, so I thought I could try a test related to my birthdate. Please find my results below, though it surprised me that I have a gift for business. Do I? Then I must have not been utilising it fully. Here are my results.

Your Birthdate: May 8

Born on the 8th day of the month, you have a special gift for business, as you can conceive and plan on a grand scale.

You have good executive skills and you're a good judge of values.

You should try to own your own business, because you have such a strong desire to be in control.

You are generally reliable when it comes to handling money; you can be trusted in this regard.

Idealistic by nature, you are never too busy to spend some time on worthwhile causes, especially if managerial support are needed.

There is much potential for material success associated with this number.

This is also a post to thank those of you who have sent me your birthday greetings and well-wishes. I appreciate your thoughts and warm gestures.

Today also happens to be Mother's Day. One of my friends that I knew said that a child told her that one's birthday should be spent celebrating with one's mother for having given birth to oneself. Perhaps having my birthday this year coinciding with Mother's Day is a reminder to that. I have to thank my mother for her nurturance and for her trying to attend to me and the family. Happy Mother's Day!

Earlier this morning, I met J and T for brunch at Father Flanagan's, located at the basement of CHIJMES. It was Mother's Day, and so the restaurant which usually serves Sunday Brunch Menu took away its brunch menu just for today. Instead, it was serving Mother Day's Special Lunch. I was a little disapppointed that there was no brunch. Anyway, I tried the Irish Stew from the regular lunch menu. It was nice, though at the same time, very rich and filling. Is it common for Irish food to be rich and large in its serving?

The view was nice. We sat at a spot where we faced the courtyard of CHIJMES. We had quite a good time catching up.

While we had our meal, we have a magician who came up to our table, and gave us a magic show right at our table. He did some card tricks. I still have no idea how he had managed to do those card magic tricks. Three of us had our three pairs of eyes on his hands, and none of us spotted any loopholes. We also saw him entertaining the children with his balloons earlier when he was at another table. Father Flanagan's sure has its way to make the pub a homely place for the young and old, on this Mother's Day.

Meantime, the day has been a wet and rainy one. I look forward to a better weather.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Good host award

I was invited to one of my good friends, JY's place of residence for lunch gathering this afternoon.

May I have the honour to confer her a Good Host Award? Her place of residence was quite a distance from the main road and most of the guests came by buses, and she offered to drive the guests from the main road to her place and vice versa. I thought that this was a thoughtful gesture of a good host.

Yours truly, ever so interested to strive to be independent, was able to find my way there without having to ask her for a drive in. I thank my relatively good sense of direction that I could manage to find my way to her place from the bus-stop.

Food was good. At least I had three helpings, though each helping was relatively not very large. Thanks to the host for hosting us all.

Our dear host also played The Incredibles and I, Robot. These sure entertained the guests. Even a none-movie-lover like myself could spend time watching these.

I also managed to meet and catch up a bit with a few friends and acquaintances that I got to see at the lunch gathering.

Thanks JY for the invitation, and for being a great host.

Thanks to JY and SH for the birthday gift too. It will sure come in handy.

How to stop those aches?

"How to stop those aches?". This is one of the questions up on my mind. My right shoulder and right neck been aching for the past few days since last week. I had attempted to do self-massage on the shoulder and neck but the aches did not go away.

Next was poor left thumb. Yesterday, I tried to stop the iron board (which had been leaning against the wall but it fell down) from falling down to the floor, and I injured my left thumb. Thank goodness it was not fractured. But I could sense an aching sensation at the thumb's lowest joint area whenever I try to bend my left thumb. Could I have sprained it?

Now, I wonder, when would those aches stop? I don't have any clue at all.

Beethoven's Choral Symphony, the concert

Last night, I attended the concert by the Singapore Symphony Orchestra, and the concert was titled Singapore Symphony Chorus' 25th Anniversary: Beethoven's Choral Symphony.

The programme was as follow:
  • Ludwig van Beethoven - Choral Fantasy
  • Ludwig van Beethoven - Symphony No. 9 in D minor, Op. 125 "Choral"

One of good friends was nice enough to be my company for the evening. I heard she was pretty busy at the workplace, but she managed to find time out for the concert last night.

On the first page of the programme booklet, there was a print that reads "This concert is dedicated to the memory of Dr Wee Kim Wee, a people's President, a caring man who has profoundly touched the lives of many Singaporeans." Before the start of the concert, everyone was asked to observe one minute of silence.

Dr Wee Kim Wee is certainly deserving in commanding the respect and love of Singaporeans. Here's an eulogy for Dr Wee Kim Wee by Singapore's Prime Minister, Lee Hsien Loong.

Back to the topic, there was quite a good turn-out for last night's concert.

The first programme for the concert was the Choral Fantasy. I find the form of this work less appealing compared to many of Beethoven's other works. This is what my ears told me. Of course, I must admit I am myself not a master in analysing the forms of music.

The programme notes read that:
Beethoven had hoped to invite the great and good of Vienna to a concert showcasing his latest works. To conclude the event, Beethoven was determined to compose "a brilliant closing piece" and he chose to combine the four main strands of the programme - his piano playing, the orchestra, solo voices and choir - in the Fantasy in C minor for Piano, Chorus and Orchestra.

The Choral Fantasy was about 20 minutes long in duration, and afterwhich, there was an intermission.

The work that was played after the intermission was Beethoven's Symphony No. 9. It was alright, though it was not any way near excellence. My friend commented that there were a few points in time where she felt nervous for the orchestra, fearing that it may fall apart, because the players weren't quite exactly playing together as an orchestra.

I might have fully agreed with her if my ears were listening to the orchestra, but I realised that I concentrated on listening to and watching the double bass section. There are several challenging sections in the Ninth Symphony for the double bass, so I did not want to miss listening to the double bass section. I think the double bass' section, especially the first desk, was good. I was impressed by the fingerings adopted by the principal. I thought the fingerings were economical and musical too. Possibly, my ears could have also unconsciously realised that the orchestra in general was just alright but not appealing enough, so my ears had decided to focus on the double bass section.

As for the solo singers, I felt the bass, Johanne Mannov, deserves some credits. He sang quite his solo parts pretty well, and that had made me interested to listen to the rest of the fourth movement. Yet, perhaps it was that I had been critical, the rest of the soloists (the soprano, mezzo-soprano, and tenor) were alright but their singing were not appealing to my ears.

The chorus deserved an applause for their commendable efforts. I would think many of them sing in the chorus outside their full-time commitments. Good work, chorus.

That's for now.