Wednesday, 30 September 2009

The Bluest Skies You Ever See Are In Toh Payoh

Well hardly....!

Even though this song verse describes Seattle rather than Singapore I had hoped it might apply, but is not to be.

By the time I came to leave work this evening the haze had almost reached the levels we experienced three years ago.

Visibility from our condo window (above) is getting worse by the minute even though the official PSI Index seems to indicate the problem is 'moderate' 53 reading over the 24 hours.

I suspect that the next 24 hours will have a totally different reading and we can taste the smoke in the air. So much for Indonesian cooperation in combating burn-offs!

Sunday, 27 September 2009

Today's Print

The Big Drop
Roger Smith. Sept 2009
(Click image for larger version)
A bulldog paper clip transformed using a close up lens and various digital imaging tools.

Saturday, 26 September 2009

Every Home Needs One!

Demonstrator outside John Little's store in Orchard Road

Why Not Feature Locals?

I really don't know why a number of local organisations in Singapore persist in using blue eyed, blonde children in their adverts; when their audience are Singapore residents and their children?

The local children of Singapore are just as intelligent in looks and abilities so why not use them?

The above banner is outside an HDB housing estate in Queenstown and is just one example amongst many that I have seen. Note the images used (inserts).

Not Everyone Is Affluent In Singapore

Recycling Singapore Style - Queenstown
Photo: Roger Smith (Click image for larger version)

As the mega rich spend thousands of dollars on the Formula One event in Singapore this weekend spare a thought for some of the 'heartlanders' who are feeling the pinch.

The above is a not uncommon sight on the streets of Singapore where a few older folk stretch their savings further by taking on recycling activity.

Used drink cans are prised from rubbish bins, flattened under heel and added to plastic bag carriers. Clean cardboard and old newspapers are also much in demand.

Even in our condo the maids and ground staff regularly scavenge through the recycle bins to see if there is anything worth salvaging.

Given that many expatriate tenants dump perfectly servicable appliances upon their departure, this practice probably proves to be quite lucrative.

Sunday, 20 September 2009

A Sporting Chance

I enjoy sport, or at least I used to before the era of professional sport killed most of the codes I enjoyed.

Rugby was a much better game as an amateur code and I played a lot of it. It also used to appear on free to air television in New Zealand but rarely does so now.

Win at all costs seems to be the prevailing sporting ethic and it is a sad indictment on htose who play and administer games.

The South African Caster Semenya is the latest victim, with that country's senior track official now admitting he lied about gender tests being carried our prior to the runner's winning performance in Europe.

Then we have the Formula 1 fiasco which demonstrated that Renault cheated to ensure they won last year's Singapore Night Grand Prix.

This is not the sort of publicity that Singapore wants at this crucial time before the next Grand Prix, scheduled to start in a fortnight's time, as it takes the gloss off the event.

In the aftershock of a major recession event ticket sales have been hard hit and sports cheats make life even harder for organisers to attract support.

A few months ago Singapore hosted the Asian Youth Games.

Yes, there were a few teething problems and home support was disappointing. The refreshing thing was that it was about gifted amateur athletes doing their best - the true ethos of sport.

I expect next year's Youth Olympics will be held in Singapore in the same spirit and the country will the better for it.

Ultimately as the saying goes "Cheats never prosper" and long may this remain so.

Saturday, 19 September 2009

Mooncake Time!

It's the Autumn festival once again and families are flocking to the centre of Takashimaya department store to try out the many varieties.

It is very easy to over indulge in the sampling thereof and I am the living proof that this is so.

Quite why we acknowedge this as an 'autumn' event in Singapore is stretching credibility. There are no leaves turning rusty brown and falling from trees. The only things that do fall are large branches in the height of a tropical storm and every year serious injuries are reported.

The Singapore weather chart on televison records no drop in temperature. The graphic that appears is usually the one at left and the temperature hovers between 30 and 33 degrees C.
The Autumn Festival excitement is for children as much as the adults and perhaps even more so. The former clutch their small dough piglets that are imprisoned in plastic baskets. A child sized lantern or two is selected and even these seem to get more sophisticated as the years go by.

The Way We Were

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Here's Looking At You

Corporate art collection on view - Seoul

Autumn in Seoul

My accommodation at Fraser Place in Seoul could not be better and I am writing this entry from there, at 8 am on an Autumn morning.

First impressions of a country and a capital are often formed on the trip from the airport into the city. Having touched down early evening after a six hour flight from Singapore, Seoul's haze reminded me very much of the current Indonesian smog that is choking Singapore. Many Asian cities have a similar challenge with Jakarta probably being the worst.

Here though the smog is largely industrial rather than agricultural burn-off and you can taste the air.

There is a dogged determination in the faces most as they go about their business - this is a city where business is to be had. The people are a hardy yet friendly bunch.

Alongside this commercial reality are the obvious references to culture and heritage. The city's investment in public art is very impressive. I have discovered a wealth of sculpture on my walks from the hotel to the British Council.

During my travels yesterday I also spotted a variety of western style steak houses which seem to be a popular alternative to the noodle and kimchi fare that others offer. Bread shops and patisserie also seem to be springing up like mushrooms and can be found every couple of blocks.

This morning I will use the camera on my mobile phone once again and capture some of the sights of this bustling metropolis.

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Seoul Scenes

Hammering Man - Jonathon Borofsky

Align CenterPublic Art

Saturday, 5 September 2009

Busker Bliss and Men In White

I have just met the most discordant erhu player in Singapore, bowing his way to infamy outside the Doby Ghaut MRT station.

The sound was reminiscent of the whining of a spraying tom cat marking out its territory.

This noise that masquerades as entertainment also reminds me that MediaCorp is scheduling numerous re-runs of the excruciating Singapore Idol.

I am all in favour of buskers but a modicum of talent would have helped and perhaps it would be a good idea to have this folk vetted before a license is issued?

My train of thought turns to the automated airfreshners that my wife has bought 'on special'.

These are proving to be reasonably effective in combating the second hand smoke that filters into our apartment from inconsiderate neighbours. They too make a sound like a cat about to cough up a fur ball, as they release their scent into the room. Most disconcerting.

Did Lee Kuan Yew become Prime Minister by a single vote cast by the then PAP chairman? This is the topic gripping the Singapore media at the moment upon the release of a new publication "Men in White". Other bloggers claim that not all of the founding members were interviewed during the research phase but I have no way of verifying this.

My aim is to try and get hold of a copy to read as it appears to give a more comprehensive overview of the formation of the ruling PAP party than some previous publications.

And does it matter that MM became the PM by a single vote? In a democracy a one vote majority is all that is needed.

Most would agree that Singapore would not be where it is today if someone else had been holding the reins of power.

The White Bridge

We never crossed the white bridge in Taipei
your yin
my yang

we scurried past
as ships across a bay
of mild unease and discontent

a bridge too far perhaps?
every advance followed by a retreat
maintaining the balance

avoiding the meeting of love and laughter

Roger Smith September 2009