Friday, February 25, 2011

First decent meal?

Looking forward to a little break from my low cholesterol diet.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


Coffee has no taste apart from bitterness. Those of us who drink it do so after adding lots of milk to it to dilute its bitterness. Isn't that silly? I cleverly drink the milk without the coffee and I've lived life beautifully without that ridiculous stimulant.  

But wait, recent studies show that coffee has curative properties. It's able to prevent dementia and Altzheimer's Disease in later life.

See these articles:

Click here for NYT

Click here for BBC

Click here for Web MD 

So, how does one drink this dreadful drink just to avoid getting dementia?  Milk comes to the rescue.  Add a little coffee to a large mug and pour milk more than ten times the amount of the coffee. You get a mildly contaminated mug of milk which of course doesn't taste as good as a proper glass of milk but who cares?  It's at least tolerable. 

Here's how you do it.

First, scoop half a teaspoon of coffee powder:

Next, you place it in a large mug:

Add just a little hot water to dissolve the coffee powder:

Fill up the rest of the large mug with milk:

This is what you get in the end - milk contaminated by a little coffee:

This is the best you can do to a beverage that has nothing to recommend itself apart from the newly discovered property it has that keeps dementia at bay.  I really didn't like it much. It took me a long time to drink it up. I could not manage a second cup and the three cups recommended in the articles are of course way too ambitious!  There are people who really love coffee (unbelievable though this may be) but I'm sadly not one of them.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Technical point

I just changed the time zone in my blog from -8:00GMT to +8:00GMT and because of this, some of my earlier blogs appear to be 16 hours ahead of its real time. I have tried to alter the time in each posting but there are far too many posts to alter. So if you find it odd that I go to church on a Monday, just remember this small technical detail.

Friday, February 18, 2011

I got this in my letter box on 15 February and the first thing I thought was that it was an ad from an estate agent. Estate agents do this all the time - sending unsolicited mass letters addressed to "The Resident".

Is it right for doctors to resort to the same advertising ploy? Does the ethics code allow a doctor to be a nuisance to an entire neighbourhood by sending out mass letters? What impression will the recipient have and would he really go to such a doctor for a consultation? I personally would not. I would never go to a doctor who has that sort of need to advertise.

When my kids were young, they were seen by Dr Ngiam Thye Eng. I just did a search again and he's now practising on the 3rd floor of Gleneagles. He used to be from the same clinic as this doctor but from what I found out on the web, all the doctors left that practice and started a new one called International Child and Adolescent Clinic. Tel: 64711077

Anyone with young children really ought to see Dr Ngiam Thye Eng. He's really an EXCELLENT paediatrician.

Now, isn't it much better to be a really good doctor and your former patients highly recommend you on their personal blogs than to irritate an entire neighbourhood by sending mass unsolicited letters to them? I trusted my kids to Dr Ngiam and he took excellent care of them and I'm not the only one. I just did a search for Dr Ngiam Thye Eng and there are numerous parents who view him as a must-have paediatrician for their precious kids. And they are absolutely right!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Fetch a grammarian!!!

In the onlinecitizen today (which I read from my facebook newsfeed), there is this letter which I have screen-saved:

As I have said many times before in my blog, I get riled up whenever I see self-righteous pedantic morons trying to put down someone else because of what they claim is the person's incorrect grammar. It is much worse when they get it wrong.

While it is true that Miss Zarinah may not be very comfortable with writing long sentences and her unfortunate letter is not without some errors, I take exception to Lee Kin Mun's manner of "correcting" her grammar. "Mr Brown" is the pseudonym of Lee Kin Mun, a Singaporean blogger and comedian.

I have neither the time nor the interest to read the entire letter and Lee Kin Mun's purported corrections but I will just comment on the first "error". According to Lee Kin Mun, "fetch" is a term "used mostly for dogs". This is outrageous. I proceeded to read the comments on facebook and strangely, most of the readers are clueless as to how "fetch" may be used legitimately. Many offer explanations that display their ignorance of the word, which is surprising since "fetch" is a very common word.

Here are some examples of the comments I screen-saved:

The word "fetch" carries the idea of the "fetcher" going somewhere to pick up something or someone (in the case of Miss Zarinah's letter) and returning to the same place. You can tell a dog which happens to be standing next to you to fetch a stick. Similarly, you can fetch a doctor and return with him to your feverish child. You can fetch a stick, a dog or a doctor. "Fetch" is not a class-conscious or species-conscious word.

I'm sure Lee Kin Mun has no intention of humiliating Miss Zarinah with his antics but it's still in bad taste. Lee Kin Mun should get someone to fetch him a grammarian before he attempts to correct anyone else.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Say NO to mediocrity

I bought this yesterday and I'm determined to do the etudes and practices daily and kiss mediocrity goodbye. I am a lazy man and playing scales and arpeggios is something I find quite impossible to do. But the key to good performance lies in consistent hard work. I used to work on Baermann and Otto Langey but I'm getting tired of them. A change of scene is what I need. And although they say you shouldn't judge a book by its cover, I think this cover is pretty good. It encourages me to pick up my clarinet. At least for now.



Have you ever wondered what goes on in the mind of a solo performer at the start of a concert as he is bowing to the rapturous applause of the audience? As the applause dies down, he looks to the conductor and nods his readiness. The conductor turns to the orchestra and the music begins.

I have never had the honour of playing a concerto accompanied by a whole orchestra before a live audience but I can very well imagine what hell the performer goes through at the start of each performance. I have been through, however, something on a much more modest scale but which was no less harrowing an experience but I will come to that in a minute.
Just the other day, I was listening to this on youtube (click on it and enjoy!):

It is of course a most delightful performance of Mendelssohn’s Fingal Cave Overture but as I approached 7:36 on the video, I was seized by a strange palpitation, my breath became shorter and more rapid, the palms of my hands turned clammy and I found myself perspiring. That’s because I used to take the ABRSM and Trinity College examinations a long time ago and in one of my technical tests, I had to play an orchestral extract of that same piece.

These orchestral extracts are different from the usual three period pieces that a student has to play. They are meant to examine the student’s technical ability, especially when he’s playing in an orchestra. I recall there were two orchestral extracts I had to play for the technical test in that examination – one was this piece by Mendelssohn and the other was a Wagner’s extract. The Wagner’s piece was extremely fast and I recall slowing it down because I didn’t want to stumble and make mistakes.

Here is what the examiner wrote about my performance of the orchestral extracts. We’ll ignore the comment on my performance of Wagner in which I admit my tempo was way too slow but let’s look at the comment on my Mendelssohn:

“There was a clear line if the tone lacked projection. This was however at about half the original tempo.”

That’s music exam for you – there is always something wrong or not quite right with your performance. But I suppose the examiner must be right. He’s a renowned wind player in a well-known orchestra in the UK and he’s got impressive credentials that filled a whole page in fine print.

I don’t know if it’s just me but do you notice that praises in music exam results always end with a “But…” or a “However,…”?

I will give an example of that same exam I took. In one of my three period pieces (it’s always 3 period pieces in all graded exams), the comments begin in a rather promising vein. This was Wiedemann’s Romance which has some rather technical parts in the piece and is played unaccompanied.

“The tempo was well judged and the pulse was well maintained.” Wow! Finally, I was exonerated – my tempo which was judged to be at half the original was now declared to be “well judged”. But of course that’s not all. The judgment goes on: “ALTHOUGH there was a tendency, now unaccompanied, to tap the foot”. The examiner now comments on my foot!!!

I have a lot more to say but I will post Part 2 another day. For now, I hope that all of us will look at professional concert musicians with a great deal more respect. This is particularly important in the less “cultured” countries like mine where 99% of the population can’t play an orchestral instrument to save their lives. The next time you see a performer on the stage in a concert hall with his or her instrument, applaud a little louder because if any one of us music flops (and I have already excluded the 99% non-musicians) were to stand in his shoes with our instrument, we’d be seized by a strange palpitation, our breaths would become shorter and more rapid, the palms of our hands clammy and we’d be perspiring most pitifully.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Me reading a RELIGIOUS BOOK!!!

This is a remarkable book. After having read about half of it, I put it aside, thinking I couldn't learn anything new from it. But boy, was I wrong! There is so much information packed in this book that it should be required reading for all Christians and not just theological students (which is what the recommendation at the back of the book suggests). Anyone who wants to know more about the New Testament and more about Jesus should read this delightful book. It's not heavy-going at all.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Happy New Year

Here's wishing everyone a Happy Chinese New Year,
this year of the Rabbit