Thursday, April 30, 2009

The hunt for the best mashed potato in Singapore, part 31

In this post, I shall feature Arnold's Fried Chicken's mashed potato.

On 29 Mar 2009, I ordered a two-pc meal set with fries and coleslaw. I asked for the fries to be changed to mashed potato. The two-pc set costs $6.10 each. The mashed potato costs $2 per serving if ordered on its own.

Probably, chicken stock was used as the base for the brown sauce. The brown sauce was not salty and had a rich flavour. The mashed potato was simple. It was plain ordinary and did not particularly bring delight to my taste buds. I won't boycott the mashed potato from here but neither would I travel all the way just to eat it in the future. It was acceptable yet average. Nevertheless, I could at least say the mashed potato did complement the rest of the items in the meal set.

That reminds me that I would appreciate if I could have new leads for the best mashed potato in Singapore please.

With this post, I wish my friend whom this series of posts is dedicated to simple pleasures.

Where to find Arnold's Fried Chicken in Singapore:

City Plaza
810 Geylang Rd #02-99/101
Singapore 409286

Arnolds Express
94 Pasir Ris Central
Singapore 519637

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Read: Books on the Great Depression

I must have been in a mood to read. I have too many questions in my mind that I cannot reconcile and for the past weeks, I have been seeking refuge in reading to attempt to find a few of the answers.

Sometime ago, I read Professor Stanley Schultz's Great Depression Lost Words and Grant's How Did It Happen?: The Great Depression.

I was hoping to learn from history itself to understand what had brought about the Great Depression which was at its worst from 1929 to 1934. In addition, I hope to have at least an appreciation to what had led to the end of the Great Depression.

Interestingly, as best as I could make out, some of the economic problems and political problems that had contributed to the Great Depression can be traced back to World War I.

By the end of World War I, even countries like Britain and France that had won the war had been effectively bankrupted because they had borrowed money from the United States to pay for the arms.

Russia underwent a revolution that brought a Communist government to power. When the Communists established the Soviet Union in 1922, foreign investors and governments who had put money into Russia before the World War I had lost all their investment.

During the World War I, the European countries that were involved in the war concentrated their efforts in producing war materials. Other countries which were not involved in the war stepped in to take these European countries' place in industrial production. Following the end of the World War I, when these European industries returned to the production of peacetime goods, they had produced more peacetime goods than there was demand.

Following the end of the World War I, although there were boom years in the United States, the farmers in America were suffering from overproduction of agricultural products. In addition, it was easy to get credit. This led to many people being in debt. To add to the risk, there were many people at that time who had borrowed money to invest in the stock market. However, from 1927, many people bought shares for sheer speculation even though some may be buying shares of a worthless company.

So it seems to me, that the causes behind the Great Depression were multifold. Although some had believed that the stock market Crash of 1929 had caused the Great Depression that followed, it appeared that the Crash was simply a symptom of the underlying problems in the United States and other parts of the world.

I went on to read about the various attempts that had be made to end the Great Depression. From what limited that I have understood, there are lessons that can be learnt from the Great Depression. It seemed that I may have more readings to be done to better appreciate this world that I am living in.

Monday, April 27, 2009

King and Emperor

If given a choice, I prefer listening to music live. Recordings often do not appeal to me as much as live concerts. As such, it was with pleasure that I look forward to Singapore Symphony Orchestra's performance of the concert titled King and Emperor. I have had the pleasure and honour to have Eastcoastlife as my company for the concert.

The programme for the concert is as follow:

BEETHOVEN - Piano Concerto No. 5 in E-flat major, Op. 73 'Emperor'
SAINT-SAËNS - Symphony No. 3 in C minor, Op. 78 'Organ Symphony'

Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 5 is one of the piano concertos that never fails to delight me. I think Beethoven is simply a genius in composition. While I don't have a particular interest in writing music, it fascinates me to listen to a good piece of music composition. I realised that for most of my attendance at concerts performed by professional orchestras, I was not listening to how well the musicians were performing, I was listening to whether the composition inspires or captivates me. I can't exactly tell why, but Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 5 is simply a brilliant piece of work. It inspires.

After the intermission, the orchestra performed Saint-Saens' Symphony No. 3. I wish I was sitting nearer the acoustic canopy where I have simply no low ceiling above my head. Then, I think I would significantly experience the power of the sounds of the organ. I don't get to hear this symphony very often, and it was just stunning to listen to it LIVE. I absolutely love the quiet and deep tones of the organ when the lower notes were played.

Many thanks again to Eastcoastlife for her company. She shared with me her views on some issues which I appreciate greatly. I wish I have more wisdom to reconcile some of the issues.

Meantime, I wish for inspiring moments. Art and music remind us of the beauty in this world.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Week 17 of year 2009 on the double bass

19 Apr 2009, Sun: I sight-read a work by a composer from the Baroque period just to get myself more acquainted with more repertoire. Afterwhich, time was spent working through the second movement of Capuzzi's Concerto in D major with the help of the metronome. It was just necessary because I realised that I need stronger sense of tempo after listening to the recordings of my double bass lessons.

20 Apr 2009, Mon: I practised the third and fourth movement of Marcello's Sonata in G major with the metronome. The goal was to achieve a good tempo.

22 Apr 2009, Wed: I practised Faure's Apres Un Reve with the metronome in the hope to achieve a steady rhythm.

23 Apr 2009, Thu: For the lesson, I worked on the second movement of Capuzzi's Concerto in D major. The main issue is to be able to start the movement consistently well each and every time.

I also played the first movement of Capuzzi's Concerto in D major and Faure's Apres Un Reve.

In the evening, I worked on sight-reading. Hopefully I can build my confidence in the quick-study component of the exams.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

The colour my life quiz

I have been feeling lost at times. How do I make my life count?

May I ask for wisdom and guidance?

You Color Your Life With Subtle Coolness

You are a full of grace and peace. You don't let yourself get worked up.

You tend to be a bit reserved. You only speak when you really have something to say.

You aspire to a lot in life, and you're quietly working on your plan to take over the world.

You are elegant and a bit of a snob. You can't help it... you like expensive things!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Labrador Jetty

A good friend of mine told me that it would be therapeutic to be at the beach. In the hope to get some therapy from Mother Nature, I took a trip to Labrador Beach. Of all the beaches in Singapore, I decided that Labrador Beach shall be the one to visit for that day. It was a weekend on 12 Apr 2009, so I could take bus service 408 to Labrador Park.

The bus stopped me at a bus-stop that was within walking distance from the start of the aerial staircase. From the aerial staircase at Labrador Park, I could get a nice view of Labrador Jetty. I would have stood there at the aerial staircase if there had been a seat to sit on. Nevertheless, even though there was no seat, I was already offered a marvellously beautiful sight of the sea and the Labrador Jetty from the aerial staircase.

If you have a love for aerial views of the sea and beaches, Labrador Park is a good place to visit. The Labrador Jetty when seen against the sunset skies looked particularly quiet and dignified. Perhaps that was why many had visited the Labrador Jetty for the unique view that it offered.

As I was writing this post and looking at the photos, inspirations for a short poem came to my mind:

Time seems to have froze
I ask,
What do I need out of Life?
Then strangely
Many achievements in life become not as important
As a moment when one awes in the beauty of Nature.

I wonder how life would have been if it had been much simpler?

Thursday, April 23, 2009

The hunt for the best mashed potato in Singapore, part 30

In my attempt to search for the best mashed potato in Singapore, I encountered the mashed potato from Gourmet Martz Western Food. From the May Hua Food Court along Market Street.

I realised that this stall serves mashed potato as one of its side dishes and I ordered the GM chicken and sausage stew that cost $6.30. This stew comes with a choice of three side-dishes, and one of my choices was clearly mashed potato. I also asked for Romanian lettuce and raisin rice. The stew was pretty good.

The mashed potato was fairly smooth. The brown sauce is not salty, and has a beefy taste possibly because beef stock was used. The brown sauce was gentle yet pleasant. If one just wants mashed potato, it will be served at $2 per serving. I won't mind eating the mashed potato there again though I won't make a special trip to the stall just to have its mashed potato.

With this post, I wish for my friend whom this series of posts is dedicated to: Personal growth.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Wu Guanzhong donation exhibition

On 10 Apr and 12 Apr 2009, I visited the Singapore Art Museum to view the exhibition titled An Unbroken Line: The Wu Guanzhong Donation Collection. This exhibition showcases Wu Guanzhong's donation of 113 works to the Singapore Art Museum in 2008.

I had quite a bit of time on 12 Apr 2009, so not only did I spent close to an hour watching the two-parts documentary on Wu Guanzhong as an artist, I went for the guided tour. I was particularly attracted to Wu Guanzhong's ink paintings and his abstract works.

To be honest, I know very little about Wu Guanzhong and his art. As such, the purposes of my visits to the exhibition, An Unbroken Line: The Wu Guanzhong Donation Collection, was to get myself acquainted with the art of this master.

Particularly interesting to me was Wu Guanzhong's approach to art which basically could be summarised into the following statement in Chinese: 风筝不断线

I have found a rather long-winded quotation in English that gives a clue to his approach to art from a source:

Art is like a kite. You have to pull the string hard in order to stretch it to its limit, but you don't want to pull it so hard that you break the thread, because the thread connects you to the land and its peoples. (Wu Guan-Zhong)

In essence, what I could make out of the quotation is that Wu Guanzhong's art is rooted in and connected with the community. From the documentary that I had watched while I was at the exhibition, I learnt that 风筝不断线 could also mean that as an artist, Wu Guanzhong's art is linked and connected with he himself: his emotions, his philosophy towards life, his dreams, his vision etc.

The exhibition will be held from 9 April to 16 August 2009 at the Singapore Art Museum. It is worth a visit.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Cupcake test

This test says I have a sunny outlook. I thank a good friend of mine for teaching me that happiness is a conscious choice. At the very least, I have learnt to find joy irregardless of my situation.

Do I have a wickedly funny sense of humour though? I only know that not everyone could appreciate my sense of humour.

You Are a Lemon Cupcake

You are spirited and spunky. You embrace life and have a sunny outlook.

You're drawn to all sorts of people. You can find something to like about almost anyone.

You are like a cupcake because you're cute and happy. You can turn anyone's day around.

You love to laugh and have a wickedly funny sense of humor. You enjoy teasing and joking around.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Read: Dowswell's The Causes of World War II

It must have been that I am in a craze to learn the lessons that we, mankind, can draw from the World Wars. As such, last Sunday, I borrowed Paul Dowswell's The Causes of World War II.

If I were to explain the causes of WWII, I realised it is not as simple as I would like it to be. Some of the issues, according to Dowswell's The Causes of World War II., that would contribute to the start of World War II would include:
- The effects of the Treaty of Versailles,
- The effects of the Great Depressionin helping to bring extreme political regimes to power
- The role of the League of Nations and the policies of "appeasement" and "isolationism" that were used by some of the Allied countries.

It looks like the more I read, the more I realised I don't understand. I think I would need more reading soon. Yet, I am glad that I have read. It is actually a joy to read from books.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Week 16 of year 2009 on the double bass

12 Apr 2009, Sun: I started to practising selected works from Hartley's Double Bass Solo Book One. Afterwhich, I worked on practising selected passages from Lennox Berkeley's Introduction and Allegro.

I look forward to listen to the recording of Berkeley's Introduction and Allegro. I have just purchased a copy of it via online sources. About a week ago, I received an email from Tom Daly of The Lennox Berkeley Society informing me that there is a recording of Lennox Berkeley's Introduction and Allegro performed by Leon Bosch (double bass) & Sung-Suk Kang (piano) available from Meridian Records. That led me to purchase a copy a couple of days after I had received the mail.

13 Apr 2009, Mon: In the late night, I decided to be disciplined to practise on the double bass. It turned out to be not as productive as I would like. Maybe I should just practise scales rather than selected passages from Dragonetti's Concerto in A major.

16 Apr 2009, Thu: During the double bass lesson, I continued to work on sight-reading. There is some improvement, yet I need more practice and help!

Meantime, my rendition of the second movement of Capuzzi's Concerto in D major is starting to take some shape. The first few bars are extremely challenging to play, and I hope that with more practices, I could be more consistent in achieving the tone qualtiy.

In the later part of the night, at home, I worked on more sight-reading exercises. I need to sight-read more works in tenor clef. I felt I was still in need of more practice sight-reading passages in tenor clef.

18 Apr 2009, Sat: Sight-reading exercises include passages from orchestral works by Carl Maria von Webber. Technically, it wasn't sight-reading because I had played Weber's Euryanthe Overture and Oberon Overture many years ago. Nevertheless, it was a good training to improve eye-fingers coordination.

Afterwhich, needing a break from playing the works from the diploma syllabus, I practised Dittersdorf's Second Concerto for Double Bass. I felt I was playing for the pleasure of it, and not to improve technical competencies. Whatever it is, it was a stimulating practice for the mind.

From Heritage TV: The Kangxi Emperor

While I was browsing, I came across one recent episode of Heritage TV that features the exhibition, The Kangxi Emperor: Treasures from the Forbidden City. Check it out.

If the video entices you to visit the actual exhibition, you may wish to know that the exhibition is held from 13 Mar 2009 - 14 Jun 2009 at the Special Exhibitions Gallery, ACM Empress Place.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Finding hope in music

11 Apr 2009, Sat: Thanks to the Singapore Symphony Orchestra and the 92.4 FM call-in contest, I had won myself a pair of tickets to a concert performed by the Singapore Symphony Orchestra. Many thanks to one of my good friends who had taken time to accompany me to the concert. I appreciate her company and friendship.

The programme for the evening featured Haydn's Mass in D minor which is not an often performed work in the Singapore context. In addition, for the first time in my life as a listener, I got to listen to the entire Elgar's Enigma Variations, Op. 36 live.

My favourite variations from Elgar's Enigma Variations, Op. 36 were Variation 9 (Nimrod), Variation 12 (B.G.N.) and Variation 14 (E.D.U.). I am a biased listener in some ways. I personally prefer listening to live performances compared to recordings. This is especially so for choral works.

I was particularly looking forward to listen to Hadyn's Mass in D minor for it is a work that would be rarely performed live in the Singapore context. Like the biased listener in me had said early, I state that choral works simply just have to be listened to live. It is usually in a live performance that one can experience the impact of a choral work. I particularly like how Hadyn composed the strings parts to create a sense of tension in the music.

Could mankind find hope through music? Hopefully music evokes the compassionate side of humanity.

With this post, I share with you Nimrod Variation from Elgar's Enigma Variations.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Behind the name

To the dear people who see the side of me that is fiery and intensed: Thank you for accepting me as who I am.

Your Name's Power is Optimism

Your name's power is that it helps you be optimistic.

Your name conveys both endurance and devotion.

People who meet you can't help but think you are fiery.

You try to live your life in a solid, connected way.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

The hunt for the best mashed potato in Singapore, part 29

I may have found one of the best mashed potato in Singapore that is comparable to the mashed potato that is made by my grandmother, if not better than hers.

This is found at Miss Clarity Cafe, Singapore.

I passed by Miss Clarity Cafe on 10 Apr 2009 and was in the mood to sample mashed potato. As such, I browse through the menu just to figure out if the cafe serves mashed potato. I realised Miss Clarity Cafe does serve mashed potato as a side dish to the main sets. However, mashed potato was not listed as an item that was sold on its own. Anyway, I am thankful that I had asked if I could just order mashed potato on its own. The waitress gladly obliged and the Cafe hence won me over as a guest.

The mashed potato took a while to be served. Yet it was worth the wait. The mashed potato from Miss Clarity Cafe has a smooth and silky texture. I like its creamy, buttery taste. The mashed potato used quality potato and even one can still taste the earthy potato taste even when the mashed potato was well-blended to a smooth texture. The mashed potato tasted delightful and most wonderful on its own, without the brown sauce. One can realise that the chef has made the mashed potato with lots of pride and care.

I realised that perhaps because I have found comfort in the buttery mashed potato that is made by my grandmother, I have a preference for mashed potato that has a buttery taste. This mashed potato from Miss Clarity Cafe has scored better marks from yours truly than the mashed potato that is made by my grandmother. I like its more refined taste and its much smoother yet thick enough texture. I could feel the mashed potato melting away in my mouth when I licked it from my spoon. I would personally consider it as one of the best mashed potato in Singapore!

For the folks who like mashed potato with brown sauce, it does help to cleanse one's palate with water before sampling the mashed potato with brown sauce. This will help one better do justice to the brown sauce. Interestingly, the mashed potato when eaten with the brown sauce on did not taste salty. The brown sauce actually coated the mashed potato with a tinge of saucy delight. One can taste the herb-like aroma from the stock of the brown sauce.

On the right: Mashed potato

If you ask me, I would prefer to just eat the mashed potato without the brown sauce. I would have ordered another serving of the mashed potato if not for the fact that I was trying to practise self-discipline in terms of my diet.

I will go back for the mashed potato from Miss Clarity Cafe if I am craving for a silky, smooth, buttery and creamy mashed potato.

The mashed potato is affordable at $4 (nett). Many thanks to the Chef who had made such a wonderful serving of mashed potato to delight yours truly.

Miss Clarity Cafe
5 Purvis St #01-04
Singapore 188584
Tel: 6339 4803
Opening Hours: 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Closed on Sunday.

With this post, I wish my friend to whom this series of posts is dedicated to, the best treasures in Life.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

An evening date with Nature and Music

On 5 Apr 2009, I visited the Singapore Botanic Gardens with one of my good friends to catch an outdoor concert by the Singapore Chinese Orchestra.

It has been a while since I had last visited the Singapore Botanic Gardens and I was delighted to see a lot of nice landscaped sceneries when I was there. I used to visit the Singapore Botanic Gardens pretty often when I was a young adult as there were a number of nice sculptures that were displayed there in the past. The recent visit brought back some nostalgic memories that I had of the Singapore Botanic Gardens, including the several occasions when I performed in outdoor concerts there.

It was a recharging experience to be out in Nature, and at the same time, treat my eyes to beautiful works of art. I spotted a sculpture featuring the composer, Chopin, somewhere near the Symphony Lake.

A few steps away, one could see the Shaw Foundation Symphony Stage on which the performers were getting ready to perform. While there was slight drizzle that day, the weather had been generally kind to the audience. I got to listen to one of my favourite repertoires scored for the Chinese orchestra during the concert.

It was a memorable evening out. I thank my friend for the treasured company.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Read: The Key Battles of World War I

Other than Ross' The Causes of World War I, I read yet another book about World War I. It was David Taylor's Key Battles of World War I.

This book focused on how the major battles of World War I were fought. As I read the book, it reminded me how absurd war can be. If the masses had known how dreadful and meaningless it was to fight the war, would the war have stopped earlier?

To be honest, most of the battles mentioned in the book were new to me. I realised how little I know about the history of Europe. There is so much to learn in this world that I should learn to use my time more meaningfully.

From this book, I read about the Gallipoli Campaign. I realised that the date of landing at Gallipoli (i.e. 25 April 1915) is made a national public holiday in Australia and New Zealand to honour members of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps who fought at Gallipoli in Turkey during World War I.

The book lent me more insights to the trench warfare that was used during World War I. It described the conditions in the trenches. It made me wonder: If the key people in power had made it necessary that they themselves must fight the war in the front-line trenches, would they have then considered peace negotiation instead of continuing to fight a dreadful war that involved so much casualties?

If there is anything we should learn from history, it is to learn the value of peace and the absurdity of war.

May peace prevail.

Monday, April 13, 2009

How do I think?

When I was a child, almost every subject is interesting to me. When I had to choose what subject to focus on, it was a most challenging task because many subjects appealed to me. I love learning and ideas are simply fun.

How do you think?

You Think Creatively

Your brain works best when you let your intuition be your guide.

You like to imagine, speculate, and fantasize. You have fun playing with ideas.

You are interested in theories. You enjoy studying and developing them.

You are drawn toward art, philosophy, and even math. Almost every subject is interesting to you.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Names of instruments of the Symphony Orchestra in Chinese

A good friend of mine and I agreed that we shall converse in Mandarin. This proved to be a challenge yet I shall do my best to keep up to the agreement where possible.

Interestingly, the education system in Singapore is such that English is the main language of instruction for most of the subjects that are taught in the schools here. As such, I realised that even when I converse with my peers in Singapore who are Chinese, I would tend to converse in English. What helped me maintain regular contact with Chinese is the fact that I read Chinese newspapers everyday.

When my friend and I were trying to have a conversation that required us to use Chinese terms to name a number of instruments of the Western Symphony Orchestra, it left me to realise that other than the instruments of the strings family, I don't particularly know the Chinese names of most of the other instruments!

For my general knowledge and to help me in my future conversations, I decided I shall list the Chinese names of the instruments of the Western Symphony Orchestra here:

Violin 小提琴
Viola 中提琴
Cello 大提琴
Double Bass 低音提琴/ 倍大提琴

Piccolo 短笛
Flute 长笛
Oboe 双簧管
Clarinet 单簧管
Bassoon 大管
Contrabasson 低音大管
English horn/ Cor Anglais 中音双簧管

French Horn 法国号/圆号
Trumpet 小号/ 喇叭
Trombone 长号
Tuba 大号

Timpani 定音鼓
Bass drum 低音鼓
Side drum 小鼓
Cymbal 铙钹, 钗(钹)
Castanet 响板
Gong 锣
Triangle 三角铁
Celesta 钢片琴, 钟琴

Harp 竖琴

Organ 管风琴/ 风琴


Week 15 of year 2009 on the double bass

5 Apr 2009, Sun: I practised selected passages from Lennox Berkeley's Introduction and Allegro. I felt I was in a phase of stagnation in terms of creative output. I needed more motivation and energy to feel inspired from my practice. On the positive side, it helped to know that playing harmonics on my new hubby produced much nicer sound quality than my previous double bass.

8 Apr 2009, Wed: Despite feeling exhausted from the day, I was pleased that I could still urge myself to play a sight-reading work on the double bass. I then went on to play the first, second and fourth movement from Marcello's Sonata in G major. Frankly, I felt in need of some pep-talk when it comes to double bass playing recently. The sense of lethargy has caught up so much in me that I felt pretty much not as effective as I would like for my practices. How on Earth could I make my music touch people's soul if I do not learn how to make music that would touch my own soul?

9 Apr 2009, Thu: Double bass lesson started with sight-reading. I sight-read an orchestral passage for the double bass from Mozart's Symphony No. 40. More sight-reading is needed. I realised that it would help my sight-reading skills if I can aim to play a wider range of repertoire.

During the double bass lesson, I worked on the first and second movement of Capuzzi's Concerto in D major. I learnt that when I play the second movement, I should not press the left-fingers too forcefully onto the fingerboard. Touch not slam.

In the evening, I continued to work on sight-reading. I learnt that I could clap the rhythms of the melody line so that I can better appreciate the rhythm. More practices will be needed for sight-reading.

10 Apr 2009, Fri: I took some time to practise orchestral passages for the double bass from Mozard's Symphony No. 40 to work on my sight-reading skills and to improve my competency in playing orchestral works. Strangely, I felt a little disheartened. It is a sign to tell me that I need some morale booster to encourage myself to overcome the challenges in playing the double bass.

11 Apr 2009, Sat: To be honest, I am feeling not in the mood to practise the works listed in the diploma syllabus. I didn't mind a bit more sight-reading so I took some time to warm my eyes and fingers to sight-read Tchaikovsky's First Symphony. The practice kind of stimulated my mind and body. Music has been a stimulating activity for yours truly. I wonder if playing music may be a more constructive way to curb addictions? If so, perhaps the therapy for addicts is to channel them to create art so as to express themselves?

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Read: Ross' The Causes of World War I

Photo credit: National Media Museum

Sometime in end of March 2009, I casually brought up the issue of World Wars with one of my friends. That made me realised that although I had read about World War I when I was younger, I did not quite understand the causes behind it. As such, the urge to satisfy my curiosity got me to pick up a few books on the subject when I was at the library last weekend.

One of the books that I had borrowed and read was Stewart Ross' The Causes of World War I. While I realised that the causes of World War I were actually pretty complex, the book did help give me a better appreciation of the causes of the World War.

The book gave a quick summary of the causes of World War I in its eighth chapter. Two long-term causes contributed to the building up of tension between the various countries, and formed the background to the war. They were:

1) The great European powers were at rivalry with each other for the domination of Europe.
2) The mistrust and suspicion between the great powers led the various countries to set up networks of alliances. "This make a limited war almost impossible".

The immediate trigger to the World War I was identified to be the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand on 28 June 1914, Sunday. This trigged a crisis between Austria and Russia. Eventually, it set off a chain reaction of events which eventually lead to World War I.

My learning points from the book were as follow:

1) Resentment and mistrust, if not dealt with properly and early enough, can eventually lead to greater conflicts.
2) I personally felt that it is important that power needs to lie in the hands of the right people who are wise and compassionate to make effective choices that will benefit the people, or at least not endanger the people.

There is much that we can learn from history.

This book is actually intended for high-school students. Then again, it fit well with my reading needs and enabled me to appreciate the causes of World War I in a nutshell with its fairly accessible presentation and language. I finished reading the book within three days despite a very busy schedule where I generally only had the time to read while travelling on the MRT train.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Satay craze and more

On 28 Mar 2009, I was at Lau Pa Sat with a cherished friend of mine.

I have heard from a fellow blogger, Veron of, about the delicious satays from Satay Stall Number 7 & 8 from Lau Pa Sat. So when I was there, I decided I must order some satays from the stall, Best Satay.

The satay tasted nice even though yours truly isn't a lover of satay. It had actually been quite a while ever since I had eaten satay. Any food will taste wonderful with good company, so I suppose I was quite a satisfied diner that evening.

After the meal, my friend and I sat along a part of the Singapore River and we happened to be there to witness Earth Hour together. Singapore River looked pretty different when the lights of the exterior of the buildings along Singapore River were dimmed so as to support Earth Hour. I could not help but admire the sights that night.

In essence, I am grateful for meaningful time spent with a treasured friend.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

The hunt for the best mashed potato in Singapore, part 28

My hunt for the best mashed potato in Singapore continues. With the lack of good leads partly because I seem to have exhausted most of the good leads, I realised that I would now make time to sample any mashed potato.

I ended up eating the mashed potato from Kenny's Western Food, #01-167, Yishun Ring Rd, Chong Pang Food Centre. This stall usually opens from the late afternoon or evening.

Actually, I ordered the black pepper chicken and it came with two scoops of mashed potato. The mashed potato is rather on the wet side. It was not too heavy in its taste, but somehow the wet characteristic of the mashed potato had made it lose an earthly potato flavour. While the mashed potato was a good compliment to the black pepper chicken that I had ordered, it was not good on its own. At least it did not win my heart since I do not like mashed potato that is too wet.

One can get a serving of mashed potato (3 mini scoops) for $1. It was cheap, but I won't return to this stall for mashed potato even though I will be in the area about five days per week.

With this post, I wish for my friend to whom this series of post is dedicated to, the wisdom, to discern and to make effective choices.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Cat test

I am feeling in need of a recharge soon.

You Are a Maine Coon Cat

You tend to be loving and playful around your family and friends.

But when you're around strangers you tend to be a bit reserved.

You are intuitive. You understand human emotions well.

You do best when you are around people. You don't like being left alone.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Week 14 of year 2009 on the double bass

29 Mar 2009, Sun: To practise and to prepare for the quick-study component of the DipABRSM exams, I sight-read a few studies. These were relatively easy to manage. I have to work towards sight-reading works from the Romantic and contemporary period.

After that, I practised Capuzzi's Concerto in D major.

31 Mar 2009, Tue: Days at the office has been extremely hectic and overwhelming. Nevertheless, after a long day, it helps a bit to get some recharge through playing the double bass. I played Faure's Apres Un Reve and I felt I could have some opportunities to practise 'screaming on the double bass'.

Playing on the double bass is a way of self-expression and it helped a bit to help me feel less pent-up with the sense of overwhelming pressure from work. A good friend of mine said that I seem to recharge with the use of the right-brain and I agree with it to quite a large extent.

1 Apr 2009, Wed: It was the last rehearsal for the orchestra for the semester. There will be a break for exams preparation for the university students after the rehearsal on 1 Apr 2009. It was rather recharging to play and make music with others. While the week had been an extremely overwhelming one at work, the orchestra rehearsal provided some respite from work.

For the rehearsal, we rehearsed Kelly Tang's Sketches of Singapore, the last movement of Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 1 and one of the movements from Stravinsky's Petrushka.

2 Apr 2009, Thu: During double bass lesson, I worked on the first movement of Capuzzi's Concerto in D major. It brought me some relief to play on the double bass yet I wonder if I am made for performing. I shall learn to be more encouraging towards myself.

Later the evening, I worked on sight-reading two different excerpts for the double bass. I have to improve on tempo and rhythm. The differences in dynamics need to be more distinct and I need to deliver the mood of the works more clearly. More practices for quick study!

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Coffee or Tea test

Do I appear reflective and mellow?

This may sound conflicting: While I do prefer not to rush to do things, yet I also strive to meet datelines and will step up on my pace in order to meet them. I have been feeling in need of more reasonable workload at work. The obligations to meet datelines and expectations at times hinder me from having the necessary space to reflect and to live life at MY pace.

You Are Tea

You are mellow and reflective. You don't allow yourself to feel in a rush and frenzied.

You're likely to appreciated the ideas or connections that come up over a warm cup of tea.

While you do enjoy the energy of a caffeine boost, you love that it allows you to take a break.

You're not in a rush to do anything. You're content with your life, and in no rush to change it.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

The hunt for the best mashed potato in Singapore, part 27

On 1 Mar 2009, I walked into Border's Bistro because I had wanted to continue with my search for the best mashed potato in Singapore, and Border's Bistro sells mashed potato.

The mashed potato from Border's Bistro proved to be quite a good choice. The homemade mashed potato from Border's Bistro costs $5 before tax and service charge.

Interestingly, I was served free bread and butter with the mashed potato, and I was told that all customers were given the bread and butter as appetisers! The mashed potato comes with brown sauce. Initially, I was worried that the brown sauce would be salty. Delightfully, I realised that it has a gentle, pleasant flavour and it surprised me with its non-salty taste.

It was very thoughtful of the waiter to turn to the page of the menu with the mashed potato when I was seated after he realised that I had walked into the restaurant all because I had wanted mashed potato. The environment is cosy.

The mashed potato tasted as if it was made with care. The texture was good. Anything, in my theory, that is made with care, is great even if it may not be the very best of the best.

I wish I have had better photography skills to bring out the best in the mashed potato from Border's Bistro.

With this post, I wish for good luck to be with my friend, to whom this series of posts is dedicated to.