Monthly Archives: October 2008

how2tell

On a bit of a whim, I went for a course organised by Wesley Methodist Church on ‘How to tell others about Jesus’. It was a rather light course (about 2h long), and I appreciated that the speaker actually discouraged overt in-your-face evangelism (which I’ve always found rather ineffective), but rather encouraged laypeople to be ready to answer questions and be sensitive to situations where people’s curiosities might be expressed.

He didn’t recommend heavily using the Bible either, which I’ve always thought was a rather silly technique when trying to reach non-believers (especially lapsed Christians who already have some familiarity with it), and one that I’d encountered A LOT while I was in York. I can understand the optimistic belief that God’s word will never return empty (Isaiah 55:11), but at the same time I found it frustratingly annoying to be constantly quoted scriptural verses, such as the absolute favourite “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching…” (2 Timothy 3:16).

Hello? I’m telling you that I’ve got doubts about the validity of the Bible, and you decide to cite the Bible… in support of the Bible? Thankfully things worked out for me in the end, but I shudder to think how such inflexibility has actually hampered the spread of Christianity in these modern times.

I don’t think I’m really in any position to bring anyone to God, though. I’m happy to do whatever I’m able to, but after attending the course I find I still have many things to sort out before I’ll have useful advice for friends curious about seeking God.

Advertisements

Lucky draw winner

I’ve been hoping to use my EZ-Link card for payments at the NTU food court, mainly because I get 2% cashback (more like 1.2% though) on my EZ-Link top-ups. It’s been quite difficult to do so, because the card readers are often malfunctioning, and the queues are usually quite long (so you don’t want to hold it up by using the card).

Surprisingly, though, I’ve found that I’ve just won $10 in a lucky draw, from the one or two times I’d managed to buy lunch using EZ-Link. I suppose not many people actually use their cards, so the chances of winning are actually pretty high – maybe I’ll start using my card more aggressively!

Kua si mi?

Two teenagers stabbed in clash outside Plaza Singapura

I’d always thought those movie/TV scenes where vicious fights start off with somebody shouting “kua si mi?” (I think that’s “看什么?” or “what are you looking at?”) were greatly exaggerated, but apparently not.

Aren’t there better things to fight over, other than disrespectful glances? Maybe these guy should enlist in the army, at least they’ll be paid to channel their aggression into something constructive. Then again, I’m not sure if they’re the type of people I’d want in my platoon, standing beside me with a rifle in hand. Or maybe they are – with such fierce loyalty, I doubt they’ll be abandoning you in a firefight!

Media bias

I’ve been following the mini-bond issue for quite some time now. In a nutshell, these products have been rendered nearly valueless with the collapse of Lehman, and people started complaining that the products had been marketed to them as low-risk (or even risk-free). Apparently banks in Hong Kong are now offering to buy back the mini-bonds, whereas Singapore has just announced that it won’t do the same thing – it will instead adopt a system where the individual investors are left to shoulder the burden of proof in order to be compensated.

I’m not going to comment on the issue though – there’s probably enough being said about it right now. What I found quite interesting was the above picture (and caption) that was proudly emblazoned across the page in ST‘s print edition together with this article. I may be reading too much into it, but it seems like the press was attempting to show how disruptive the situation in Hong Kong is, which is why we shouldn’t “follow HK”.

Another interpretation I arrived at, however, was this – if the people do not fight for their rights, they will not reap the benefits. Is it possible instead that our (recently-relaxed) passive demonstrations are simply ineffective? I’m pretty sure that wasn’t the intended message, though, which is perhaps why they decided to use Heng Swee Keat’s profile for the online version instead.

杂菜饭

There wasn’t any food for me at home today so I made a trip to the economy rice stall near my house for a quick lunch fix. I’ve actually been patronising that place for over a decade now – the stall owner recognises me (and other members of my family) and calls me 小弟 (little brother). Maybe it’s just that the relatively low pricing, or that I’m just really bad at identifying good food, but I really like the food there. Throw in a packet of teh-peng (iced tea), and I’ve got myself a perfect meal.

I wonder if I can persuade the owner to teach me some of his recipes? Sure he’s friendly enough to me now, but I think it takes a bit more than that to agree to create potential competitors. Not that I’m actually aiming to set up a food stall – I would just really like to be able to cook some of those dishes well, if I ever had the time/opportunity to do so!

Recession time?

So Singapore’s gone into a technical recession. This is the first time I’m encountering such a situation as a salaried worker (sort of), and as a civil servant I’m not too affected, since my job’s somewhat of the 铁饭碗 (iron rice bowl) nature. It’s not absolute immunity, of course, but all in all I’m rather thankful for this stability, as compared to (previously) high-earning employees of firms that no longer exist today.

In volatile market, only stable investment is porn!
– Trekkie Monster, Avenue Q

I’ve just applied for a brokerage account with Citibank. The current financial crisis is probably far from over, but I figure that in the long-term view of things (perhaps a 5-10 year window) it’ll be good to start entering the market sometime in the near future. I don’t have a particularly high risk appetite (especially given the situation now), but I believe it’s important to keep your money growing, and well – I guess the time to learn is when you’re young, have less obligations and can afford to make mistakes.

Still, it’s a rather scary first step for me. Investing’s by no means a certain thing – the value of my UK savings account has fallen by almost a thousand (Singapore) dollars due to the change in exchange rate (counting from Jun 2008, when I could have converted all the money and brought it home). I’ll probably end up just getting some STI ETF to begin with – seems like a comparatively low-risk move.

Plebeian palate

I’ve been following (or trying to) Colin Goh‘s columns in The Sunday Times (Singapore), but it’s not quite a weekly thing so it’s a little annoying to search the paper every week for something that may or may not be there. Luckily, I’ve discovered that his columns can also be read off his blog, so no more hunting for me.

Recently I read Call Me an Alley-Cat Foodie, in which he lamented his relatively low-class palate, something I rather identified with since I also have the palate of a peasant and often consider some of my country’s street food to be the finest cuisine in the land. Even more recently, I came across a comment on a food blog that led me to think of the article again.

…Perhaps the Hokkiens do not place as much emphasis on food as they do on work or finance as you allude to. I think it is the same between the French and the English.

I myself am Hokkien (though my mum’s Teochew and that should have influenced my early food exposure somewhat), and a lot of my favourite eats are essentially the restaurants my dad enjoyed patronising – relatively low-end family (usually Chinese) restaurants. Long story short, I wonder if there is indeed a genetic (hmm) or cultural (more likely) reason that contributes to the plebeian palate?

I don’t know if Colin is Hokkien or not, and I believe that one’s family (and the food that one grows up eating) will definitely affect one’s palate. I’m really curious though, if there are general trends that can be found across the different dialect groups, at least in Singapore?

New Macs

So there are new Macs now. It seems like shortly after I purchase a new machine, they announce a new (relatively) major change – luckily this isn’t as big as as the switch to Intel chips announced 3 years ago, or I’d be so terribly annoyed. At least my current machine can still run Windows and games pretty well.

But for anyone still holding on to an old machine and wanting to upgrade, this seems like a great time to do it – new aluminium bodies for MacBooks, dedicated graphics cards, TWO graphics cards for the MacBook Pro (one generation more advanced than mine, too), spiffy new design… Sigh! I want one too!

Maybe this time I’d wait for the next major revision (3-4 years later?) before getting the next one…

Chicken Nuggets

I’m not an art-inclined person, but somehow Banksy‘s The Village Pet Store and Charcoal Grill installation really intrigues me – I find myself strangely fascinated by the idea of walking chicken nuggets and swimming fish fingers. I wish I could see it for myself, but it’s all the way in New York and will only be open until the end of the month.

I’m sure there’s a vegan message in all this somewhere, but it’s somehow lost on me amidst the coolness of robotic food.

Unfriendly commuter

Now that reading on the commute has become a habit to me, I find that I’ve become an unfriendly commuter.

Since the (approx) 2h I spend on the train is the only time I really spending reading (I tend not to read otherwise, since I’ve already got about 10h per week dedicated to that), I guard it quite jealously and find myself actually wanting to travel on the trains alone – reading is a somewhat unfriendly behaviour, especially if you’re with one other person and thus possibly the sole source of his/her entertainment.

There are of course exceptions to this rule, and people I genuinely enjoy giving up my reading time for, but generally I’m really happier travelling by myself – does this make me a bad person, somehow?