Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Picky Cabbies

Source: Stomp
I am often impressed by the efforts of cabbies to reign in the bad habits of passengers.  There are the usual reminders that if you through up in the vehicle you will be liable for the cleaning of the interior.  In other countries one also find a security grill between you as the passenger, and the driver, especially when travelling in less salubrious districts.

But the home computer-generated sign in a Singapore cab (pictured right) takes restrictions to a whole new level.  As I have never been tempted to clip my toenails or pick my nose in a cab these announcements do not apply to the likes of me.

However it makes one think that maybe other are not so 'picky' or perhaps that should be "more picky"?

More disturbing is the news today that a new SARS-like virus has been discovered in the Middle East.  This will be of particular concern to the Singapore as the SARS epidemic itself had a major impact on both its health and the economy.

With Changi being a major air traffic hub, any one of the thousands of passengers who pass through it daily could be carriers of a virus. And on the subject of viruses, yesterday I got my annual 'flu shot in an effort to ward off any influenza that might come around in the next twelve months.  This has been my custom for the past five years and I got my first inoculation in Singapore when the organisation I worked for provided free doctors visits for this purpose.

This year's jab has left me a tad lethargic and snuffly for twenty four hours but the long term benefits should outweigh the temporary side effects.  Luckily my sniffles will not be attracting the attention of  Singapore cabby and there will be no picking!
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Saturday, 15 September 2012

The Big Four "O" - Happy Birthday Merlion

Source: Flickr
To think that the Merlion turns 40 today.  It was first unveiled on September 15th. 1972 on the Marina Bay waterfront and what an inspired piece of tourism marketing it has turned out to be.

If there is one icon that has endured over the years and become synonymous with Singapore it is the mythical Merlion.  It has even survived the odd lightning strike so the birthday celebrations are well deserved.

People may not realise that there are actually five sanctioned versions of the Merlion in Singapore with the best known being the 8m statue designed by Kwan Sai Kheong, the then Vice-Chancellor of the University of Singapore, and sculpted by Lim Nang Seng.

Its original design concept was created by Fraser Brunner, curator of the Van Kleef Aquarium in 1964.
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Thursday, 13 September 2012

Today's Print - Flyer After Appel

Flyer After Appel
Roger Smith - September 2012
Click on the image to see a larger version. The motivation was the cityscape of Singapore -  the shapes, colours and vibrancy of the tropics.

It is available as a poster printed on canvas by clicking and ordering here.   And this is how it might look on your wall.

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Uncles, Royalty And Mooncakes

I realise that I haven't written for a little while in this blog but this is mainly due to the fact that I have been writing and publishing elsewhere.

To be totally accurate the publishing took place first.  I was impressed with a coffee table book produced by a good New Zealand friend and decided to follow suit.  His was a book of Sicilian travel adventures and mine, a book of my digital art (click on the book preview below to see the result).

an art portfolio
By roger smith

Both of us used the Blurb platform and my own copy of the book should arrive in the mail in a weeks time.  One own and at least one to go!  I decided also to produce a book based on my life in Singapore and using the contents of this blog as its source.  The problem of course is what to leave out and how to craft it?  Do I use a narrative tone of voice or concentrate on the anecdotal?   The answer is that it will probably be a combination of the the two.

At least I have the title firmly fixed;  "A Man Called Uncle".  Those of you who live in Singapore will be aware of the honorific.  Just writing the book and reviewing four years of blog entries brings back many memories, as do the various photographs I took with my camera and mobile phone.

A quick glance at the Singapore news shows that NUS has risen up the rankings once again.  It is now 25th overall and second best in Asia after the University of Hong Kong, which is in 23rd place.  Good news for Singapore's leading university and for education in the country as a whole.  The investment in academic gravitas seems to be paying off.  I hope my former colleagues in Alumni house are benefiting from the positive publicity.

The Vanda William Catherine
Of course much of today's news focuses on the visit of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (William and Kate).  They apparently dined on roasted duck, chicken consomme and sliced baked mooncakes - lucky them!  I wouldn't mind betting that the mooncakes were a cut above the ones that I have been consuming; mine were made in Macau and come in the usual embossed tin with auspicious colouring on the lid.

The fact that the Duchess chose to wear a dress created by Singaporean-born designer Prabul Gurung would have gone down as well as the aforementioned mooncakes.

It is also customary for high profile dignitaries to have an orchid named after them. The royal couple gave their name to Vanda William Catherine, a free-flowering orchid hybrid that is white and purple in colour. They also viewed a hybrid variety that bears the name of William's mother and which she never got to see - Dendrobium Memoria Princess Diana.

What I can never quite reconcile is the enduring passion for British Royalty in country that shook off the yoke of British colonialism decades ago.  But as Lilian Tiru in this video explains, many of the older Singaporeans were brought up in the colonial period studied under the British system.

The couple are staying at Raffles Hotel.  I hope they enjoy the curry there as much as I did but I suspect they will be dining on better fare, not doubt with a few local delicacies thrown in.
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Saturday, 1 September 2012

Three New Digital Art Works

Roger Smith - September 2012
What Now
Roger Smith - September 2012
Head Case
Roger Smith - September 2012
Click on any of the linked titles to go through to the Zazzle Store to purchase a copy of any of the above.

Monday, 27 August 2012

Song Birds, Spring and Haze

Roger Smith - August 2012
In recent days the Tui (a native New Zealand song bird) have been flying around the gum trees as they enjoy the first signs of Spring.  I see them as I walk the nearby tracks around Botany where I live. The air is clean, plums are blossoming and there are signs of renewal everywhere.

By comparison, the air in Singapore is once again predicted polluted by the seasonal haze; a recurring problem created by the thoughtless actions of Singapore's neighbours as they burn off large areas of jungle for oil palm plantations and farming.

The likelihood of a El Nino weather pattern isn't helping matters either.  The last significant one to hit Singapore, the first year of our arrival, and I remember looking up Oxley Road and not being bale to see the Gurkha soldiers standing guard outside Lee Kuan Yew's residence.  No doubt they could see me as I made my journey from Oxley Mansions to Lloyd Road but the air was so thick with pollutants that I felt sorry for them having to stand in the smog.

So while Singapore may have been named "healthiest country" by Bloomberg, I wonder if any of their media people ever visited country during the 'hazy days'?  They might have formed a slightly different opinion or at the very least, broadened their criteria.
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Sunday, 26 August 2012

He Made One Giant Step For Mankind

This portrait taken in July 1969 shows astronaut Neil Armstrong, commander of the Apollo 11 moon landing mission
Those of us who had our youth in the Sixties will remember the decade for its manyfold achievements and for the other momentous events that took place at the time.

The music from Merseyside that rang in our ears, the assassination of President Kennedy in Dallas and perhaps above all, the first footsteps on a planet other than our own.

So it is sad to hear the news today that the man who stepped on to the Moon in 1969, Neil Armstrong, has died at the age of eighty two, after belated complications from heart surgery.

It is also perhaps fitting to remember how relatively primitive the technology was at that time compared to the Mars Curiosity Rover which is currently traversing the terrain of that planet.

Armstrong had to manually take over the controls to land the lunar vehicle Eagle on the Moon, demonstrating what a superb test pilot he was.  The world then waited with bated breath as he descended the steps onto the surface of the moon, stirring up lunar dust as he did so.

He was a modest man who did not seek publicity which in my mind is also an endearing attribute.  Perhaps the great tribute that can be paid to him are the words that he used himslef on that momentous day in 1969:

"That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind"

Thank you Neil Armstrong for being the pioneer that you were and for helping define our generation.
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