30 December 2007

My Son, Tate

Woohooo! First, I must thank wifey for having to carry our new born son, Tate for the last nine months. He's a healthy, not-so-little guy weighing slightly more than 3.7kg at birth!

Not any less lovable than our first child (Trixie), Tate's coming to this world brings a special significance to my family. If you've read my previous post, my father passed away late last year. What most of you do not know is that, exactly 3 weeks after my father's death, my brother joined him. No one knows what made my brother take his own life but apparently he was suffering from depression, something which we suspected but didn't know it was that serious. It was a very, very difficult period for my family. So when wifey and I came to know that Tate is akan datang, I wasted no time to spread the good news to my mum and the rest of the family. BTW, Tate's arrival was not planned... at least not by us, so I'd thought there must be someone out there watching over us and present this gift to us.

OK, so much for the sombre part. Let's move forward to the more positive outlook in life... Wifey and I felt that his name should start with a letter T like his sister, Trixie. Did a search for meaningful boys names starting with the letter T and my oh my, the names are limited. Eventually we filtered down to two - Tate and Theodore. Personally, I preferred Theodore which originates from Greek meaning "God's gift". Wifey preferred Tate which is of English origin meaning "Cheerful". Each of these names have different variations like Tait, Taitte, Tayte for Tate and Ted, Theo, Theodorus for Theodore. Eventually, I relented and agreed on Tate. Theodore may be a bit of a tongue twister for our non-native English speaking families. Besides that, the name Tate is more related to Trixie which means "Bringer of joy".

During gestation, Tate is unlike his sister who is more placid. Right from the end of the 1st trimester, his movement can be felt and he moved alot through the rest of the pregnancy. I wonder if he aspires to be a gymnast. Besides that, wifey felt contractions very often too. When wifey was carrying Trixie, the only time she felt ONE contraction (and a relatively mild one) was when she was waiting in the delivery ward for the hospital staff to prepare the operations theatre. With Tate, it was a totally different matter. I just hope we can educate Tate to be as well behaved as his sister.

Also, Tate grows fast. Last weekend when we were shopping, people gave obvious about their stares when they look at wifey. One even remarked, "Wow! So big!" 3 days back when wifey went for her medical appointment, Tate's estimated weight was 3.4kg!

Last morning, when the amniotic fluid started to flow out (one of the signs that the baby is about to come out), we grabbed the bag and hailed a cab. The driver is a nice chap and told us that he'll go slow for a smooth and safe ride to the hospital. Wifey said something that made him promptly floored the accelerator, beat a red light and almost did a drift. I had to harmonize the speed correcting that he need not go THAT fast and added that we didn't want him to be booked by the traffic police. He laughed it off saying it's alright. If TP did notice, he would explain the situation and we might get a free escort to open the traffic ahead for us. We reached the hospital safely anyway.

Everything went through smoothly and Tate is delivered after a C-Section and this time, I am not suffering from shingles and managed to be in the ops theatre with wifey and Tate the moment he is born. Tomorrow will be another day where we'll have to jia you cos there'll be many years ahead of us.

For those of you who do not know what's a C-Section (Cesarean Section), follow this link to watch the video clip of how babies can be born. (Warning: It can be gory and upsetting to some)

29 December 2007

And You Think Only Blondes Are Stupid?

I was reading Mr Brown's blog when I came across this. Couldn't help laughing, especially the reactions from the boy. Then I went into Youtube and did a search by typing "stupid"... guess what I found there. I am really surprised by the answers given by the Americans.

18 December 2007

My Dear Daughter

Not too long ago, someone in CNA forum guessed that I must have a very well behave daughter. Well, I must admit she is and I certainly hope she can continue to be so.

Over the last 4 years, I hardly see my daughter. The reason is that wifey and I are weekend parents. That means, we'll fetch our daughter home over the weekend and comes Sunday night, we'll have to "deposit" her with my mother-in-law. Also, we make it a point to visit her (and my mother-in-law) at least once a week during the weekday. Do I really have a choice to do otherwise? We certainly hope that we can see her everyday and have her calling out to us, "Papa! Mommy! You're home! See what I draw!". However, we can't... both of us have to work. Can we fetch her home on a daily basis? Maybe... but I think travelling for 45mins on either direction between my M.I.L. everyday will be taxing on us and our daughter... not to mention traveling from my M.I.L's place to/from my workplace. Why don't I buy a car? Yeah, right... might as well suggest one of us quit our job. Or better still, go buy toto and pray that I'll strike the first prize. $500K will do - I do not expect to win the rolled up millions although I do not mind :P

To cut the long story short, wifey took a couple of "long weekend" leave recently such that the "weekend resort home" become "weekend cum Monday resort home". Instead of the usual practice of returning her (my daughter, not my wife) to my MIL on Sunday, we go there on Monday so that we can have more time with her (my daughter, not my MIL) and hear that "Papa! You're home! See what I draw!"... aaaaaah...bliss!

She can really be chatty if she wanted to and will take the initiative to play with us with her usual "SURPRISE!" She will attempt to hide...by covering her eyes and then shout surprise while removing her hands to look at you :=) (I think I'll need to teach her the story of 掩耳盗铃). Anyway, it is always fun playing with her.

Also, the honest truth is, she rarely makes me angry... frustrated perhaps but not angry. However, on a recent occasion, she got on the nerves of wifey. Now, try to understand that wifey is very, very pregnant now so she tends to be a bit more sensitive. So on that particular day, wifey was teaching Trix to spell "The" and "This". After several rounds of coaching and repetition, Trix still spell "This" like this "Theis". Wifey lost her temper and hit our daughter's hand with a cane! Ouch! To be exact... a candy cane :P ... (not so ouch). Tears welled up in our daughter's eyes and only then did that irresponsible papa who hides in the study room blogging, came out to the living room and save the day :p.

I could see from her eyes that the tears rolled not because of the pain from the candy cane (it's really a very small one) but more like somehow, she felt she has disappointed us or made us feel unhappy. That made me look at my daughter in a very different perspective and I really think she is quite capable of sensing when someone's emotion is really not quite right. In other words, she is quite understanding. On top of that, she isn't those who wails and screams nor shout (touch wood) - she just cry, trying hard to hold back her tears and look at you with pleading eyes and that look totally melts my heart... like this one, taken a couple of years ago...With that look, we continued to coach her for another hour or so with as much patient as we can muster. Finally, at the end of the day, when I asked her to spell "This", she wrote "T h i s" and then I asked her to spell "The", she wrote "T h e"... woohoo! So I tried again and asked her to spell "This", she wrote "T h e i s"... ... ... ... perhaps, she's not ready for "This" yet.

Maybe, I'll a different approach next time and teach her "This" and "That" instead of "This" and "The". But whatever the case may be, we still love you, Trixie!

12 December 2007

Taxi Fare Increase

Taxi fare is set to increase... again.

According to ComfortDelgro's press release (here), the "fare changes" (just say fare hike, la!) is meant to address issues including,

1) Addressing commuters' concern in the difficulty of getting a cab in the city in evening
2) Simplifying taxi fares for the convenience of commuters
3) Encouraging call bookings to better match the supply and demand

On the first issue - Little cab in city in evening
(just make the cab bigger, lor...sorry, can't help it there :p)

The solution is to increase city area surcharge from $1 to $3! Simple wat! Even an orang utan can understand. No cab in city area, increase surcharge so cab drivers will go into city area! Simple, right? Pay them well and they will come. Not enough talents? Pay them more, lor!

Hmmm, I wonder will this deter commuters from taking cab in the city area in the first place! Also, where's the boundary of city area? Maybe I better go find out so next time, I'll just step out of the city area and then lament no cab in non-city area. But then again, perhaps not or they'll increase the surcharge for non-city area.

I also wonder how would cab drivers really react to it. Will they still go into hiding so that they can not only get the city area surcharge, they'll earn the call booking as well! Afterall, ComfortDelgro has shown them that maximising profits is still more important.

The second solution (City ERP rebates) to the first issue (no cab in city in evening), I think is a good move. It does not deter passengers and it encourages drivers. Unless you believe ComfortDelgro will go bankrupt paying ERB rebates... nah, not possible.

Second issue - simplifying fares

The first solutions is to revise back to the days where Late Night Surcharge is 50% of the metered fare between midnight and 0559hrs. Great! I hated the idea of progressive increments starting from 2330hrs at 10% anyway. Aunties and Uncles will find it easier to calculate afterall.

However, the second solution doesn't seem to have anything to do with simplifying fare. Instead of charging $2 surchage for peak hours, they charge a 35% of the metered fare (and call it premium?!?!?). If you tell an ape, "Uncle, peak hour, hor! I need to charge $2 extra!", the response will either be, "OK lor... what to do?" or "Walao! Tai lang pang her! Bo pian la, kia la kia la! (meaning: It's daylight robbery! What to do? I can only suck thumb, just go!)"

But if the driver goes, "Uncle, peak hour, hor, need to charge 35% more!" one might response in the manner shown above or "How much is that going to be? I no study noe no maths like tat one leh. Midnight I can still count simply, meter plus jit pua (half) of meter, 35% is how?"

The only thing in the second solution that touches on simplifying fare is the use of automated computing for the calculation... with detailed breakdown of receipts! Woohoo! Erm... can they not do that also using flat $2 surcharge?

Also, the solution is focusing just on Late Night Surcharge and Peak Period Surcharge. However, if you look at the whole concept of cab fare, do you think it is simple?
Flag Down Fare (with it own formula)
Peak Hour Surcharge (on different dates and time)
City Area Surcharge
Late Night Surcharge (meter plus jit pua, ya?)
Airport / Terminal Surcharge (I've no idea how much now)
Call Booking Fee
ERP Fee (please check with LTA)
Honestly, sometimes when a foreigner asked me how much it cost to take a cab... I just tell him, pay whatever the meter says... although I'm not sure how many of these surcharges are computed into the meter.

The third issue - Encouraging call booking

Here's another good solution... although I'm not sure the $0.50 less is borned by the driver or ComfortDelgro). Simple. Straight to the point. I wonder how effective will it be. Personally, $0.50 makes little difference when I consider other factors such as availability of and need for a cab.

There is one point that crept into the press release yet seemed out of place. It between the 2nd and 3rd solutions and did not explain what issue(s) it is supposed to address - Flag Down Fare Increase. I'll leave you to figure that out.

Whatever the case may be... I'm beginning to be more conscious of which cab (base on the operator) to take and will not hesitate give certain cabs a miss. So I urge the other cab companies to reconsider if they should always follow suit whenever one company increase... or should I say make adjustment, to the fare.

11 December 2007

A Year Ago...A Death In The Family

Christmas is round the corner and I suppose many of you are preparing for the holiday season, if you have not done so. This post is nothing about being jolly or bringing good tidings. In fact, it's the opposite. So if you do not wish spoil your jolly good feelings... give this post a miss, please, I insist.

I will not hesitate to write talk about life, neither would I shy away from death. After all, have you met anyone who has never lived or will never die?

On this day a year ago (base on Chinese Lunar Calendar), my father passed away. There are certain rites to be performed, according to the Chinese practice, after one year. So, this morning, I headed to my mum's place. As the monk who assisted in the rites started the all to familiar chant, emotions started to well up and got stuck at my throat. I guess one can only move on but never able to "get over it".

It was a sad moment for my family when my father passed away. It was also a sort of relief - in the sense a relief for my dad and family because he was suffering for some weeks prior to his passing. My father suffered from pneumonia and a mild stroke which got him admitted into the hospital. The pneumonia eventually led to one of his lungs collapse. He struggled for a month or so and eventually passed away peacefully in the hospital. His wife, eldest son and youngest brother were beside him when he left. The eldest son, my brother was particularly depressed and that left me to take care of the funeral arrangements. My father was eventually cremated in Bright Hill Temple and his urn placed there. One thing we didn't realised was that his death had affected my brother more than anyone else.

My father was a conservative man and by that I mean he was the type who believes that man must be the head of the family and as long as he provides for the family 3 meals a day, roof over their heads and children gets educated, he has done his job. He would never have been nominated for the "Best Father of The Year Award".

Nevertheless, he was a good man. He would never impose his views or opinions on another. He would frequently offer alternative perspectives such as making you think about the fisherman who offers bait to fish or the patriarch who drove his prodigal son out of the family. Whenever something appears to be wrong, he would make you think about the righteousness in it or when something appears to be right, he would let you consider what could be the (wrong) hidden agenda. From his perspectives, there are no absolute wrongs or rights. However, that does not mean he was without opinions. He did have them. Just that he did not impose his opinions on others.

It's been a year now and life has to move on.