Category: Living in Singapore

Dear Readers… Please Help Save Locky’s Dad!!

By , August 29, 2013 9:57 pm

Source: Aussie Pete Blog

audo04Locky’s Dad is Nick Auden – the dad of three little kids: Lachlan (“Locky”), Hayley, & Evan – a loving husband, an athlete and a successful businessman!

And he keeps surviving against all odds in his battle against Stage 4 Melanoma.

Nick is determined to be a survival case study for other advanced melanoma fighters.

But he needs access to a trial drug to beat this disease – for Locky, Hayley, and Evan to keep their dad.

Please play your part by joining us in making sure Nick wins this battle.

“Audo” (Nick Auden) is a really top bloke and a role model of a father. He departed Singapore in 2011 with his family to Denver, Colorado – within 2-months of the move he found out he was due to be a Dad for the third time and also that he had stage 4 Melanoma.

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I would personally be very, very grateful if all of my readers take a couple of minutes to help save Locky’s Dad!


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Join us in asking Merck and Bristol-Myers Squibb to give Nick access to the new breakthrough PD-1 drug for melanoma.

A new anti-PD-1 (“PD-1”) wonderdrug is showing remarkable results for patients with Stage 4 melanoma.

Up until now, Stage 4 melanoma has largely been incurable.

The people of Merck and Bristol-Myers Squibb are working hard to get their PD-1 drugs approved, but they may not achieve PD-1 commercial availability for another 12-18 months.

Nick cannot wait that long. He needs the PD-1 drug now!

Nick qualified for a Merck PD-1 trial in July, but a medical complication arose and excluded him from the trial.

His best chance now is PD-1 access on a compassionate basis.

Merck and Bristol-Myers Squibb have the power to give Nick PD-1 on a compassionate basis. Help us tell Merck and Bristol-Myers Squibb to give Nick the PD-1 drug.

Nick is strong. Nick can win this. Nick can be a case study of survival for late stage melanoma fighters like him.

What can YOU do?

Please join us in asking Merck and Bristol-Myers Squibb to provide Nick compassionate access to PD-1 – access to a chance to fight for a full life with Amy, Locky, Hayley, and Evan.

How? Four ways you can help:

1. Sign Nick’s petition to Merck and Bristol-Myers Squibb:

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2. Twitter: Ask @merck and @bmsnews to give Nick compassionate access to PD-1

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3. Facebook: Like the page on Facebook with the message “@Merck and Bristol-Myers Squibb, please #SaveLockysDad.” And share this story with others.

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4. Or spread the word via email, blogging, talking to friends, and anything else you can think of!

There is a website set up especially for Nick – http://www.savelockysdad.com/ (you can see a photo gallery of his beautiful family there also, as well as reading a heartfelt letter from Locky’s Mum, Amy)


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Please share with family and friends to get as many electronic signatures as we can!!


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What is Melanoma?

Melanoma is the most dangerous form of skin cancer and generally occurs where the skin is sun damaged at a young age. The damage to the skin cells leads to uncontrolled cell growth in the melanocytes, the cells that contain pigments that color our hair and skin. If detected very early melanoma can be completely removed by surgery which can provide a cure. The risk however is that melanoma quickly spreads throughout the body. Typically it will spread or metastasize to organs such as the lungs, liver, bones, and brain. Once it has metastasized to distant organs melanoma is almost always terminal. In recent years several new treatments have been developed however these treatments provide life extension measured only in months. The PD-1 drugs recently developed by Merck and Bristol-Myers Squibb offer, for the first time, a real chance for patients with advanced melanoma.

For more information, see also http://www.melanoma.org/learn-more/melanoma-101/what-melanoma

There Were Four In The Bed, And The Little One Said…

By , August 6, 2013 9:34 pm

[Be sure to scroll to the end of this post to find out how to share in very cool prizes!!]

Roll Over… Roll Over… so they all rolled over and NONE FELL OUT!!

Well, that’s not really the way the song goes, but with a mattress specifically designed by Sealy, when one heavy person moves about in their sleep it’s not felt by their partner. In my case, I’ll give you two guesses who the heavy one is.

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There were four in the bed...

As I near the end of my series of articles as one of Sealy’s Sleep Gurus, I’ve decided to set myself up and make myself comfortable by writing this from the comfort of my bed.

This is actually one of the worst things I can do when it comes to separating work space from sleep space, but after such a stressful and long couple of weeks at work, it’s refreshing to sit back with my feet up!!

So far, I’ve covered off on how much more improved my sleep patterns and habits are becoming as a result of the support and comfort for my years-old back problems. I’ve spoken about how my dreams have returned due to strong and regular sleep cycles (extremely vivid, lucid and memorable dreams)… I haven’t touched on one of the other things I’m getting out of our high quality, durable Sealy mattress – firstly, because I agreed up front that my articles (just has always been on my blog) would be no more naughty than PG16

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I found the following video on YouTube that might help communicate to you all what cannot be said… I’ve sort of been wondering why I’ve been getting lots of cute looks since we toook delivery of our mattress – this video explains it all:

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Finally, let me remind everyone to pay a visit to the flagship store – Sealy Sleep Palace at 91 Tanglin Road, Tanglin Place, #01-02, S. 247918. I took this short video the day that I selected our ‘Royal Highness’:

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So – now it’s over to you, dear readers… simply VOTE FOR ME HERE – and stand to win!!

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Source: Aussie Pete

REM Sleep – Rapid Eye Movement? Maybe Not!!

By , July 25, 2013 10:54 pm

Source: Aussie Pete Legacy Blog

Now here is something that I never considered when I started the Sealy Sleep Ambassador campaign.
Of course, I’d heard about REM (rapid eye movement) sleep before and have read reports of how not getting enough can have serious consequences on my health. What I didn’t know was that I just haven’t been experiencing it often enough over recent years.

I sort of just thought that it was a fact of getting older that I don’t remember my dreams like I did when I was a child.

Furthermore, I thought that because I survive with a minimal number hours of sleep every night, the number of sleep ‘cycles’ are less – therefore also reducing my ability to remember my dreams.

Little did I expect that even the very first time I slept on our new Sealy mattress, I would wake mid way through one of the most lucid dreams I’ve ever had in my life. It was quite bizarre, but at the same time extremely refreshing.

This prompted me to do a little research online – could just changing to a new mattress cause lucid dreams?

The answer is unequivocally ‘YES’!!

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Firstly, and to state the obvious, a few hours of sleep is just not enough for anyone. There are genetic reasons why some individuals require less sleep, but not just a few hours a night. My habit (for a long time) has been to work like a trooper on weekdays and then ‘binge’ sleep on Saturday mornings (sometimes Friday night’s sleep would last as long as 12+ hours) – this is obviously unacceptable and I don’t do it anymore because it takes away quality time from my family and shortens the weekend by a quarter.

The amount of sleep required definitely differs from person to person, but as a rough guide, experts have come up with the following chart based on age:

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With the number of hours sleep come a direct correlation with the number of ‘sleep cycles’ – for example a newborn baby will have up to 12 sleep cycles, while the average adult will experience just 4 or 5. The more sleep cycles, the longer the duration of REM sleep and lucid, memorable dreams will become more common.

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So therein lies my first problem – not enough sleep = not enough sleep cycles = not enough REM sleep = shorter and less memorable dreams.

But that doesn’t explain that when I was ‘binge’ sleeping – up to 12-hours+, why was I still not having lucid dreams (that I could remember)? Nor does it explain why the very first time I had a nap on my new Sealy mattress (2-hours duration) that I had probably the most vivid and real dream that I can remember in my lifetime.

The secondary research solved it for me.

I’ve mentioned before about the lower back pain that I have experienced over a number of years due to degenerative damage to my lower spine from years of football and martial arts. Although I had experienced some level of improvement in the way I felt each morning and seemed to be achieving more continuous sleep through just sleeping on a hard surface, I was missing out on the crucial cycles required to achieve prolonged periods of REM sleep.

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This was also a very vicious cycle – I have discovered that even mild pain can disrupt the sleep cycles, and there are good data to suggest that not enough REM sleep makes the pain worse!!

According to Gilles Lavigne, DDS, MSc, FRCD, “Severe pain can make you bolt upright from a sound sleep. But even milder pain can cause “microarousals”. These are periods when your pain breaks through and bumps you back into the light sleep stage. You may not become conscious, and the next day you won’t remember waking up. But your fragmented sleep can leave you feeling like you didn’t get any rest at all”

The subjective intensity of pain decreases when a person is well rested. Insufficient REM sleep can cause “hyperalgesia”- increased sensitivity to pain.

Therefore, it doesn’t take much to put two and two together… the mattress I chose was with my back support in mind. I’ve mentioned before about the Sealy technologies and patents, and used terms such as “Posture Channels” and “Pressure Relief Inlays”… all I know is that I can dream again!!

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Since that very first nap the Sunday before last, I continue to dream every time I sleep… I continue to remember much about my dreams, and even more – when I wake from a dream to use the bathroom and go back to sleep, the dreams just continue immediately – this is a sure sign of high quality REM sleep.

It is also well known that REM sleep is important to healthy brain functioning for many reasons, including the creation of long-term memories… and I just blamed the excesses of the 80s for my poor memory 😉

For me, REM Sleep is no longer an acronym for ‘Rapid Eye Movement’ Sleep… it now stands for ‘Really Enjoy My’ Sleep!!

One other important piece of trivia that I’ve picked up, is that “in today’s performance-obsessed society, people often cite Napoleon, Louis XIV, and Churchill as examples of high achievers who supposedly slept only a few hours each night. But curiously, people fail to mention all the other high achievers who, like Einstein, needed 10 and sometimes even 12 hours of sleep per night!”

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Finally – now that I am getting some seriously high quality REM sleep, I will be closely monitoring my blood pressure over coming weeks. Taken from Knutson et al. Association Between Sleep and Blood Pressure in Midlife: The CARDIA Sleep Study.:

“Reduced sleep duration and quality are associated with elevated blood pressure, according to researchers with the CARDIA study. They used wrist activity monitors to monitor associations between sleep behaviors and BP among more than 500 adults in their 30s and 40s, finding that shorter sleep duration and poorer sleep maintenance were each associated with increased systolic and diastolic BP. The authors say the sleep-BP link is supported by previous research and “laboratory evidence of increased sympathetic nervous activity as a likely mechanism underlying the increase in BP after sleep loss.”

Areas of the brain active during REM sleep dreaming (pretty amazing – I know some people who use less of their brain while they are awake):

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One Free Pass To An Afternoon Power Nap!

By , July 16, 2013 12:22 am

As most of my long term readers are well aware, it’s very rare these days that I will take part in campaigns and the like, unless it’s really something that I’m passionate about or will be beneficial to the community at large. This time around, when OMY kindly invited me to take part in the ‘Sealy Sleep Ambassador 2013‘ campaign, I had to re-read the details more than once and very closely to actually believe it.
 

Really OMY and Sealy – you will give me a brand new Sealy Posturepedic mattress of my choice to take part in a campaign that involves SLEEP??!! My first reaction was one of incredulity – if sleeping isn’t one of my passions (or perhaps desires, beacuse I never get enough), then I’ll give up blogging altogether!

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In all seriousness, what attracted me most to participate, was the fact that I am well aware – as I’m sure nearly all of my dear readers are also – that the Sealy brand is synonymous with not only comfort, but also with technologies that offer the needed support for weary old backs such as mine.

The Sealy journey that began back in 1881, boasts number one in market share for the past three decades with their unwavering vision to “help the world sleep better”. It might surprise you to know that Sealy was the first mattress company to display and advertise a king-sized bed; Creating an Orthopedic Advisory Board; Reinventing the innerspring coil and the box spring; Patenting a variety of groundbreaking technologies, including Posture Channels and Pressure Relief Inlays designed to relieve pressure points that cause tossing and turning. 

OK… so I’m not going to pretend to be an expert on mattress technology – but what I can do is take one of these babies for a test run.

Over the next three weeks, along with four other sleep gurus, who happen to be cool bloggers and are a downright nice bunch of people, we will report back to you on our Sealy sleep experience.

Last week, we attended the ‘Sealy Sleep Palace‘ (their Flagship store in Singapore, located at 91 Tanglin Road, Tanglin Place #01-02. Singapore 247918) to try out and select our very own Sealy mattress to have delivered to our home to facilitate the test run.

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Although there are a huge range of mattresses from which to select (for all back types and to fit all budgets), the team at Sealy made it easy for us by opening almost all the varieties up to us – so began a couple of hours of doing nothing but lying down. :p

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Well – maybe it wasn’t quite that simple a selection – you see, although sleep is important to me (and my wife), having suffered for some years now from nagging back problems as a result of years of physical contact sport when I was younger, we have tried all methods for me to get a decent sleep without waking in the morning where it might take me some time to get the joints mobile again. At my back’s worst (including two slipped disks), I actually tried sleeping on hard wood because the mattress I was using at the time (not a Sealy) was just not cutting it for support and it was really beginning to affect my daily life.

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After much consultation with the experts at the Sleep Palace and after trying out many of the different mattresses, I opted for the ‘Royal Higness‘ (that’s me above acting like a Prince at the luxurious flagship store)… medium to firm, that I suspect will offer the support I need to get my bedroom life back in order (keep it clean, folks – we are talking about sleeping here).

When assessing my needs, I had to take into account Sammi’s (my wife) requirements as well – the team asked me if I was a light or heavy sleeper… I answered very honestly – I sleep very little (sometimes as little as just a few hours on weeknights) but when I do drift off I am like a log – almost impossible to wake without a very loud alarm clock. My wife, however, sleeps longer but much lighter. So our choice needed to be accommodating for the two of us. As my dear late Dad often used to say – “Pete is either flat out, or fast asleep”. This continues to be my habit even today.

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Of course, I also had to think about the punishment that the boys give our bed almost on a daily basis – one rule of the house very rarely followed is no standing or jumping on furniture. This is easier said than done when you are talking about the naughtiest three and five year old boys in Singapore. Our mattress also needs to be strong and durable.

On Saturday our beautiful thick mattress arrived… we had prepared by removing the old mattress (and wooden plank for my back). The anticipation was immense. When the delivery guys turned up at exactly the specified time agreed, it was just a matter of moments before the mattress was in place and Casey and Jaime began wanting to try out their latest gymnastics moves (*sigh*).

I actually held them in check and they just rolled around a little.

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Next came the real ‘acid test’ – how many times can I have an excuse to take an afternoon nap. “It’s all for the Sealy Sleep Ambassador 2013 cause. Don’t blame me… blame Sealy… blame Alvin and Eunice at OMY… it’s all for a great cause”

It worked!! I managed to get a couple of hours shut-eye with Casey as he went down for his nap.

I have much to report from that experience and up until now, some few days later. Watch my blog (and my OMY Star Blog) and also the official Sealy Sleep Ambassador 2013 website to find out how it goes – not just from my experiences but those of the other four sleep gurus who also get to share in such an arduous task of sleeping.

Make sure you visit the official website for the campaign – by voting for the 2013 Sleep Ambassador you can share in some great prizes.

Who’s got the best job in the world?? Alvin from OMY!!: 

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We were even provided with a couple of new pillows and mattress protector:

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Source: Aussie Pete

Our Luxurious Staycation – Raffles Hotel (Where the Legend Began – and Where it Continues Today)

By , July 10, 2013 12:08 am

Source: Aussie Pete Blog

As is becoming quite the norm these days, I am way behind posting articles on my blog that I’ve been meaning to get to… along with this post, I still have many ‘WTH’ articles lined up, for which my blog has for a long time become synonymous with.

When Sammi, the boys and I were invited to attend the long weekend at the world renowned Raffles Hotel, I can tell you – we did not need to be asked twice.



A term that is widely becoming popular, is ‘Staycation’ – now you certainly won’t find it in the common English dictionary, and you will absolutely get the red squiggly line underneath it when you type the word into any office application (for incorrect spelling), but the term is obvious in and of itself – a vacation where you stay close to your home location.

In the case of Raffles Hotel, we knew it first as tourists many years ago (that place where all visitors go to try the ‘Singapore Sling’ at the Long Bar), and now after 8-years living in Singapore, we have tried it first hand – as hotel guests and as diners, drinkers and vacationers.

Welcome Gifts & Drinks:





Here’s a fun fact – or perhaps busting an urban myth… Sir Stamford Raffles never stayed in the hotel – in fact, he missed it by around a century or more. This is probably no news to Singaporeans… but for those lacking in lessons on Singapore’s history, it was quite surprising to us.

If I were to describe the hotel itself as ‘luxurious’ or ‘full of splendor’, I would in no way be doing it any justice at all. Baked in tradition and a feeling of opulence of yesteryear, words could not begin to describe the nostalgia that emanates from every corner of the place.

Another fun fact – the Raffles Hotel is the first choice for travelling dignitaries and celebrities alike. To think that I had to tell Jaime not to stand on the lounge chair of the ‘Sir Stamford Raffles Suite’ – the very same lounge where both Michael Jackson and Queen Elizabeth II have deposited their posteriors.



The Queen Of England actually sat here on these same cushions??:





Before I take you on the journey of our Staycation, let me tell you how you can discover it all for yourselves and also take part in this wondrous adventure.

From now until September of this year, Raffles HotelSingapore is having a special suite package, available from S$550++ per suite per night for any day in the week.

From September onward, it will only be available for the weekends. The package is aimed at locals and includes:

  • Children below the age of 12 stay (using existing bedding) and dine for free with their parents at hotel-operated restaurants (adults must dine at the restaurant)
  • Welcome Singapore Slings and fruit upon arrival, while children will enjoy fruit smoothies and cookies
  • Complimentary breakfast at Tiffin Room on the first morning
  • Complimentary Buffet Dinner at Bar & Billiard Room or Tiffin Room (once during the stay)
  • Complimentary in-suite internet access
  • 24-hour Butler Service
  • Complimentary S$500 Raffles Hotel Arcade Shopping Discount Vouchers
  • Complimentary late check-out until 6pm
  • Complimentary parking

As I mentioned, this promotion is aimed at locals, with these special rates only for residents of Singapore (Singapore Citizens, PRs and work pass holders).

So here we go… as soon as we were greeted by the famous and iconic Sikh doorman and stepped foot into the lobby on the Friday afternoon, our collective jaws dropped at the sheer elegance.


The hotel staff at check-in were not just accommodating, but made the entire process swift and painless (not always the way, as any oft travelers will attest). It was at this point that we were assigned not just a concierge to carry our bags to our suite, but were given our very own butler who would remain at our service for the rest of the stay…. I couldn’t help but wonder how he came to be a butler and what he had done (thinking back to an old Seinfeld episode – apologies to non-Seinfeld fans who will have absolutely no idea what I’m talking about).

Our Suite, Balcony & View:










After the family opened their gifts from the hotel, which included the boys’ very own Sikh doorman stuffed toys, we enjoyed our welcome drinks – smoothies all round and a Singapore Sling for me – believe it or not, this was the first time I’d ever tried one… so sweet and fresh – perhaps even a little dangerous?

We were in total amazement as we checked out the suite – the sheer size alone is something to marveled at – a bathroom alone, the size of perhaps a standard living room.

The décor was historic and rustic in feel, with all the modern amenities to which we have become accustomed. Absolutely outstanding!!

After lounging around a while, we decided to take a walk around the hotel itself, the shops and restaurants around the courtyard. We also took a quick wander around the surrounding area, and realized just how convenient the location is to the major downtown shopping district.

Alfresco Dining at Raffles Courtyard:




Boys being boys, Jaime and Casey immediately showed immense interest in the lovely roof top swimming pool (right next to the  well-equipped gymnasium and the relaxed atmosphere of the Raffles Spa (which Sammi also had the fortunate task of trying out). So we made arrangements (deal) with the boys that if they behaved themselves while eating the lovely fresh Italian salads, pizzas, pasta and gelato we enjoyed for dinner at the Raffles Courtyard alfresco restaurant, followed by the specialized session of making cocktails at the Long Bar – including of course, the one and only Singapore Sling!

Mocktails & Cocktails at The Long Bar:



Even the kids got to make their own mocktails… ONLY if they behaved themselves, we would go swimming in the evening breeze at the pool – of course, they are so spoiled that they would have got to have gone swimming even if they were their usual naughty selves. 🙂

Playtime at the Pool:



The next morning (along with another swim), we had breakfast at the Tiffin Room. Eating fine foods seemed to be the theme of the weekend – all good in my opinion!

We then went on a guided tour with resident Historian Leslie Danker… where we got to experience the life of the famous and infamous alike… the highlight being the aforementioned Sir Stamford Raffles Suite (got a spare S$10,000 for a night’s stay?)









After the tour and a quick rest, we took the boys home and Sammi and I settled in for a rare evening without kids – what happen at Raffles Hotel STAYS at Raffles Hotel (nudge, nudge… wink, wink). We had a great local dinner at the Empire Café. Serving local Singaporean food and Asian delicacies, I was a sucker for dessert.

Somewhere amongst all of this, Sammi managed to fit in an hour of pampering with an aromatherapy Swedish massage at the Raffles Spa – I must say, this made me a little jealous, but looking back on it, giving me an hour for a power nap on a Saturday afternoon was quite the treat for me :p









The next morning, after a quick run back to Sengkang West to collect the kids, we found time for another swim before what I consider to be one of the absolute highlights of the weekend – Brunch at the Bar and Billiard Room.

My, oh my!!! Guys – you want to impress your ladies – this is the place to bring them. 3-hours straight of eating nothing but the finest seafood, pasta, cold dishes, meat galore (Australian grain fed Prime Rib on the bone, US Beef tenderloin “Bordelaise” sauce, Roasted Welsh leg of lamb, Roasted Welsh rack of lamb with herbs crust, Slow oven baked Welsh lamb shoulder, Organic milk fed rack of veal & BBQ Iberico pork ribs) – mouth watering – desserts, pan-fried Foie Gras (and I’m only just touching on what’s available)… top it all off with free flow champagne… need I say more?

Brunch at the Bar and Billiard Room:



Probably the world’s most famous hotel. ‘While at Raffles, why not visit Singapore?’ Indeed.

Not just a hotel, an icon; Raffles Singapore is an oasis of colonial style, calm and charm in the heart of modern Singapore – exclusive, historic, and one of a kind.

The Original.

“Perhaps the world’s greatest hotel, Raffles Singapore stands where it has always stood, at the crossroads of civilisation and culture, a colonial oasis in the heart of one of the world’s most exciting cities.

No trip to Singapore is complete without a stay at Raffles; tradition demands it. First opened in 1887, and since then a destination in its own right, Raffles Singapore epitomises the romance of the Far East – an intoxicating blend of luxury, history and colonial ambiance that no other hotel can match.

Immortalised by writers including Somerset Maugham, Rudyard Kipling, Ernest Hemingway and Alfred Hitchcock, Raffles is the perfect place from which to explore Singapore. Or in which to merely sit and watch the world go by. The legendary Palm Court, the white marble colonnades and the unique air of romantic grandeur transport you back to a more elegant age, while the seamless service, contemporary technology and attention to detail is completely of our time.

Liveried Sikh doormen usher guests through an ornate wrought-iron portico into a lobby that seems unaltered from the turn of the century. Stroll the polished teak verandas past tropical gardens to suites with an elegant parlour, period furnishings, a bedroom that leads to a dressing room and en suite bathroom. Luxuriate in the history, in the scent of frangipani in the evening, in the Raffles Spa, or order room service from the legendary Raffles butlers.

15 restaurants and bars also await; from the famous Long Bar, home of the Singapore Sling, to the Bar & Billiard Room, Raffles is alive with history, infused with atmosphere, and open to the moment. Conveniently close to the financial hub of this entrepreneurial city, Raffles makes business a pleasure, a luxury of leisure – and any visit an indelible memory.

Where the legend began – and where it continues today – Raffles Singapore is exciting, enchanting and loved by those with an adventurous spirit and a taste for the very best.”

The story continues…

The Shame Of Timezone Singapore – The Adult Animal Kaiser Boss Man Nerd

By , June 17, 2013 2:50 am

Source: Aussie Pete

I’ve got to be brutally honest here – I hate using my blog and the traffic I get to promote negativity and have a whinge or complain… it takes away from the all around ‘niceness’ and good feelings that I try to promote (and anyone who knows me or reads my blog regularly would know that the following post must be the result of  something highly irregular to make me so p**sed off).
 

But if something occurs in the real world outside of the blogosphere that upsets my kids, I’m going to have a rant. Especially when the incident could well have been taken care of by a company the size of Timezone. I will be sending a link to this article to the PR guys from the global family entertainment giant and hopefully they will do something to address this moment of shame.

Here’s the background – for those who are not aware (mostly anyone without young kids, I suspect), the latest in crazes sweeping the globe among young children, is the brain-child of Bandai Namco Games. It takes the age-old hobby of card collection (when I was a kid, we collected football player cards) to the next level by combining it with modern-day computer gaming… it’s kind of like the old Pokemon card collection on steroids.

The way it works, is that by collecting cards – animal cards, strong cards and miracle cards – kids can scan the barcodes and use the combination of their strongest collected cards to fight other animals. At the end of each game, they will receive a new card (whether they win or lose).

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Rightly or wrongly, it’s something that my 5-year old and his mates are right into. They collect the cards and each day after kindergarten, spend the time comaparing cards and swapping any duplicates that they may have collected.

So that’s what Animal Kaiser is… really they are just printed pieces of cardboard that end up getting sold by the geniuses behind the craze for a retail price of around $2 a piece. Unimaginable profit margins, if you ask me!

In Singapore, Animal Kaiser machines can be found in innumerable locations – from 7-11 stores to banks of machines at all Timezone outlets. The game is so popular, one can see queues of kids waiting for their turn to fight the computer battle and collect their latest card – even more, they are now at ‘Evolution 7’ of the machines, because the demand for even newer cards than the first sets available is increasing.

At the top of each machine are the clearly printed words – “Kindly Respect Others Behind You Waiting To Play”… words that have absolutely no meaning when it comes to grown adults (nerds) who hog the machines from young kids and play for hours on end.

This is where my rant begins! Under any other circumstances, grown men who ‘loiter’ around games that are clearly designed for kids could raise eyebrows. My son has (on many occassions) been approached by these strange creatures, who have asked him to swap his newly acquired card with one of theirs, because they have been trying for weeks to get a particular card to add to their collection. This is strange enough in itself, but the attempted exploitation of children in this way by strangers, is almost criminal. I fear for those kids whose parents are not with them in Timezone while these ‘predators’ are floating around.

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One of the highlights of my 5yo’s week (and I know it’s a fad that he will very soon outgrow), is to get a few new cards after his drawing and inline skating classes on a weekend. So I take him for around 10-minutes to Timezone to play a few games and add to his collection. It’s great to see his face when he receives a card that he really likes.

The Shame… this Saturday just gone past, we attended the Timezone centre at Parkway Parade for Jaime’s weekly game of Animal Kaiser (Evolution 7) – I also took my 2-yo Casey with us. As is often the case, the bank of machines was full with players, so we took patiently took our place in queue awaiting for one of the players to finish.

It was at that moment, that I noticed that one of the players was a grown man (as mentioned above, this is not so unusual with the ever-growing number of Animal Kaiser adult nerds – NERD ALERT!!). What amazed me, was that he was multi-tasking… playing on one machine, while his son (or perhaps, nephew) was playing on the machine next to him. This still would have been ok, but he was actually not ‘playing’ the game – he was just scanning his payment card in his machine and then allowing the game to ‘play itself’ – that is, by not pressing any buttons, the machine (after 30-seconds each time) makes selections for him – making the process last twice as long. So he starts a game and then just chats with an old auntie sitting next to him – every now and then, reaching over to press a button on his young relative’s machine or to collect a card or to scan his payment card for a new game.

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He was completely oblivious to the growing queue of kids behind him. I use this term lightly – he knew how many kids were gathering and patiently waiting, because occasionally he would glance back and then continue on with his hogging of the machines (plural).

This is where things began to get ugly – I almost thought that I might have been on hidden camera on that American show ‘Boiling Points’… my kids were starting to get restless after around 20-minutes. I reminded them (in earshot of the uncle nerd) the importance of remaining patient (at the same time, feeling my own patience growing very thin).

Finally, the Animal Kaiser adult hog looked like he was going to finish and give those in queue a chance to play – but hold the phone!!!! He asked a young girl who he obviously new (but was not in queue) to come and sit at the machine and start playing – many of the kids and adults waiting behind all looked at each other incredulously, but still nothing was said directly to this guy – perhaps the girl had been in queue at some stage and went away for some reason – so we gave them the benefit of the doubt.

The hog now sat behind the young boy we suspect was his relative – we all heard him tell this kid to finish playing after his next game – yoohoo!! Finally other kids will get a chance to play. But alas!! It was not to be!!! The girl on the machine he relinquished passed it to another boy who was not in queue – by now everybody behind was getting restless, and complaints were changing from simple looks to actual comments suggesting that people should queue up and wait their turn.

The Animal Kaiser adult nerd, now changed into the ‘Animal Kaiser Boss Man’ – he turned and said “it’s ok, they are family” (so they don’t need to queue up – because the boss man said so).

By now, my wife had arrived at Timezone, wondering why we still had not finished the mere 10-minutes that the kids wanted (this was almost an hour later at this stage). I explained in ear-shot of the ‘Animal Kaiser Boss Man’ what had been going on and how the entire crowd now waiting were beginning to get frustrated.

This is when I lost it!! The young boy in front of the boss man now had finished and stood up. As my 5-year old moved toward the machine, this rude and arrogant ‘pr*ck’ who had been causing all the frustration quickly jumped in the vacant seat, laid out his books of game cards and swiped his payment card… he took over this newly vacated machine as though he can just change from one machine to another and not consider this jumping queue (again).

Everybody behind now began getting vocal – I reached over this knuckle head and pointed to the sign “Kindly Respect Others Behind You Waiting To Play”… his reaction now was to completeley ignore me and he did not even have the courage to turn and face me… he just continued on with his oblivion.

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It has been a long time since I have felt so angry that I thought a vein was going to pop in my head. It wasn’t me I was worried about – it was my kids, one of which was now crying becuase they could not get to play any machine because of this arrogant, thoughtless, ungracious and downright rude a**hole!!

My wife rightly pulled me away from the situation before I completely lost it (which would have been the worst thing for everybody). By this stage, I was creating my own scene, yelling at this nerd about what it means to be gracious, telling him to look at the group of kids now crying behind him. I am ashamed of my own lack of composure – but this had gone on long enough… and he was upsetting my children.

We decided it would be best to leave (even after waiting so long) and drive to somewhere else for Jaime to play – which we did.

This is where Timezone should be ashamed… I approached the counter on the way out and told the staff what was going on – how and adule had gone from playing two machines at once, not actually playing but scanning his card and chatting to an auntie every time, how he was directing traffic as to who could get to a machine next, regardless of any queuing going on and his direct cutting of queue himself.

TIMEzone

The male staff memmber raised a broad smile on his face and said, “what’s wrong, you are waiting for the machine so you’re angry?”… and then giggled at the girl working there… WTF!!!?? My son was crying at the hands of a nerd who has no respect for others, ignoring all the signs on the machines and acting as the Animal Kaiser Boss Man… and the staff member had the hide to smile and laugh about it??? SHAME ON YOU, TIMEZONE!! SHAME ON YOU, ANIMAL KAISER NERD!!

Now I feel better that I’ve got all this out – I was seething with anger after this incident for hours… the only thing is that I wish I had have taken the guy’s picture to post here on my blog – or a video of his behaviour – perhaps I will go back looking for him to do so, next weekend… 🙂 And to any of my readers – if you want to ridicule someone – go check out the Animal Kaiser Boss Man at Parkway Parade Timezone – he’s a sight to see!!

Volvo V40 Cross Country – Packed Full Of Safety – A Car Even My Wife Can Drive

By , May 19, 2013 10:10 pm

Source: Aussie Pete Legacy Blog

OK ladies, please do not be offended by the title of this post. You see, Sammi has never driven but is about to learn. When I passed my driving test many years go (*ahem*), the most challenging part was managing to master the art of reverse parking.

New Volvo V40 Cross Country 2

Thanks to my buddy, Smith, and the team over at Wearnes Automotive, a couple of weeks ago, I was able to test drive the new Volvo V40 Cross Country… and guess what – this very cool and sporty looking car can reverse park itself!!

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Just one of the very unique features, the V40 is a perfect example of how the Swedish manufacturer has become synonymous with driver and passenger safety. I had no idea, but Volvo invented the ‘3-point safety belt’ back in 1958 – so it is fair to say that there is a bit of Volvo in the front seat of every modern car today.

Wait up!!! I cannot get past the fact that it can park itself – check this out:

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We were fortunate to be left to our devices for the test drive and provided with tickets to visit the new ‘Marine Life Park’ at Resorts World Sentosa.

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The car itself comes with a 1.6-litre 180 bhp engine, offering 270 Nm of torque, including 30 Nm overboost. The torque curve is relatively gentle, resulting in a particularly comfortable driving experience. The V40 can also (optionally) be tuned with Polestar Power Optimisation, which offers 200bhp and 260 Nm of torque. Fuel consumption is 6.1 litres per 100 km with CO2 emissions of 143 g/km… it threw me a little every time we stopped at a set of lights – I thought the engine had stopped! That was before I realized that in fact it did stop – the car cleverly turns itself on and off.

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A few of the other safety features that would assist me (and Sammi, when she drives), inlcude the ‘lane keeping aid’ (alerts me when I’m swerving lanes), a roadside information display (including the ability to show me the speed limit on the display panel – now I know the speed limit on one stretch of our journey, I’m surprised I haven’t had a ticket there by now), a driver alert control (tells me when I need to stop for kopi) and of course, the option of a pedestrian airbag.

Driver Alert Control

Road Sign Information

Pedestrian Airbag Technology

In case you’re a bit kiasu like me, you can also adjust the graphic theme of the display panel (depending on the passenger you are trying to impress). Choosing the ‘Elegance Theme‘, provides an amber illumination that creates a calm aura. Or upon selecting the ‘Eco Theme‘ it can display a green background illumination which is designed to create an ‘environmentally inspired look’. An ‘Eco Meter’ is displayed on the left, with the current and accumulated fuel consumption figures being displayed. Finally, the ‘Performance Theme‘ (my personal favourite) has a red background illumination which creates a ‘sporty atmosphere’. In the centre of this display, a tachometer scale replaces the speed scale displayed in the Elegance and Eco versions. Vehicle speed is shown digitally in the centre of the display and the right side includes a power meter – a gauge that informs the driver how much power is available and how much power is being used at any given moment in time… making the driver feel very ‘powerful’. 🙂
8inch Digital Instrument Cluster

Other key features of the Volvo V40 Cross Country, include (but not limited to):

– A tinted panoramic glass roof
– Seven different mood light options for the interior lighting
– Two-piece, 40/60, rear backrest that can be easily folded to maximise loading

– Two different chassis setups: Dynamic and Sport
– Dynamic Stability and Traction Control (DSTC) system that uses a roll angle sensor to identify any skidding tendencies at an early stage

– Corner Traction Control that uses torque vectoring so the car corners more smoothly

– City Safety (active up to 50km/h) that keeps an eye on traffic in front and automatically brakes if the driver fails to react in time

– Full set of crash safety features including a knee airbag on the driver’s side

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Thanks again to the folk at Wearnes Autmotive for offering the family and me one of the first opportunities to take this safe, cool and sporty vehicle for a work-out.

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The visit to the ‘Marine Life Park’ at Resorts World Sentosa was also a blast with the kids – although it was very, very busy, the experience was both breath-taking and amazing – actually, it was awesome!

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ABOUT WEARNES AUTOMOTIVE

“Established in 1906, Wearnes Automotive Pte. Ltd. is the sole distributor for Volvo cars in Singapore and has consistently been one of the top Volvo dealers in Asia. The Volvo showroom is located along the prime automotive belt of Alexandra Road, boasting one of the most customer-oriented automotive facilities in Singapore. The premises accommodate a state-of-the-art service and repair workshop that gives special attention to the intrinsic safety qualities of a Volvo.”


SKW Live – Be A Star… Why I Love My Grassroots!

By , April 28, 2013 2:54 am

Source: Aussie Pete

Well I can certainly tell you, dear reader – life is about as busy as it gets right now!!

 

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Don’t misunderstand me – I am not complaining, just perhaps making excuses why I’m so far behind with my blogging. When you mix a very busy day job and career with outside activities such as press appearances and media interviews, along with the wonderful time I spend coordinating the family around their various hobbies and interests and of course, my commitments to GRL (Grassroots Leader) community activities, I reckon it’s very lucky that I can survive with only a handful of hours sleep every night. 🙂

Coming off back-to-back weekends where I spent some time with the Singapore Prime Minister, Mr Lee Hsien Loong – firstly at the AMK Task Force Work Plan Seminar held at ITE College Central Campus and last Saturday on my home turf in Fernvale (story time with the kids) – I was fortunate enough to be reminded once again of why it is that I love my involvement in Grassroots.

Story time with PM Lee Hsieng and MP Dr Lam Pin Min and the boys at Fernvale

Story time with PM Lee Hsieng and MP Dr Lam Pin Min and the boys at Fernvale

You see, last Saturday evening I was invited to take on a new persona – the choice would be mine… the ‘evil’ Simon Cowell or the more pleasant Randy Jackson. I think I opted more for the latter, as I participated as a guest judge in the grand final of the ‘Sengkang West Live – Be A Star’ competition.

The serious (and not so serious) judging panel

The serious (and not so serious) judging panel

The serious (and not so serious) judging panel

The serious (and not so serious) judging panel

The competition, which has been months in the making, culminated with this huge event held at the Anchorvale Community Club MPH. Organized by the Sengang West YEC (youth executive committee), eleven finalists took the stage one final time in an attempt to be crowned the ‘SKW Live Star’.

Prior to the event, I really didn’t know what to expect – but I really must say now that the level of young talent in our local community is astounding! Every single performer put on a real show, and in a way, I wish that each of them could have been awarded first place.

Having said that, a young lady by the name of Cheryl came on stage and clearly blew everyone in the audience away (including myself) with that difficult to describe thing called the ‘X-factor’. Judging was based on certain criteria – tone, pitch, overall talent, stage presence, presentation, interpretation (I’m elaborating a little on the what was on the scoresheet, but you get what I mean).

The Winner

The Winner

 

This winner had it all – in my comments and feedback, for one of those very rare moments I was lost for words. The remarks I did make began with a ‘Wow’! Quite literally, the ballad component of her act left me shivering with goosebumps, followed by a desire to stand on my chair and dance as she leapt into a very upbeat performance which even included a rap… Like I said, ‘Wow’!

The audience was extremely appreciative with people dancing, whistling, screaming, clapping – during the performance.

The Winner

The Winner

I am so glad and honoured to have been asked (along with Peter Leow and three other professional judges) to represent Sengkang West Grassroots organizations as a guest judge, and even happier to have witnessed all of this young talent.

In true Singapore style, there was a broad mix of cultures on display – along with the English perorming acts, we were treated to a very diverse range – from ballads sung in mandarin to what I could only describe as a ‘Bollywood style’ song in Tamil… once again, inspiring the urge to get up and dance.

I was given an appreciation award for this privelege (completely unnecessary but very grateful)

I was given an appreciation award for this privelege (completely unnecessary but very grateful)

 

Let me tell you – Life is good here on the red dot!!

Congratulations for a job well done to the YEC organizing committee

Congratulations for a job well done to the YEC organizing committee

All the judges and performers together

All the judges and performers together

Finally, some of the young crowd 'going off'

Finally, some of the young crowd 'going off'

[VIEW MORE PHOTOS OF THE ‘SENGKANG WEST LIVE – BE A STAR’ COMPETITION] 
(All images courtesy of Raymond Lee)

DOCUMENTARY: Dru Chen – Intentions Tour: (Singapore / Malaysia)

By , April 28, 2013 2:36 am

Source: Aussie Pete

From January to March 2013, R&B / Soul Artiste, Dru Chen performed 20 shows in Singapore and Malaysia to promote ‘Intentions EP’. This footage, collected and painstakingly put together by director Edwin Tejoz tells the story of his journey.

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With a talented crack-team of R&B, Rock and Jazz musicians including Adam Shah, Weiye Tan and featured guests Charlie Lim, Kerong Chok, Jase Sng, Chris Toh, Brandon Gan, Dru Chen performed at the ‘Mosaic Music Festival’, while also headlining Timbre, Blu Jaz Cafe, Sultan Jazz Club (Singapore) and The Bee (Malaysia). Radio and college appearances included 93.8FM, NUS Live Lounge, RadioPulze, Ngee Ann Poly RadioHeatwave.

For more information, please visit http://druchen.net. ‘Intentions EP’ is available at http://druchen.bandcamp.com.
(Press contact: info@druchen.net)

The Social Smoker… er… Farter?

By , March 24, 2013 9:02 pm

Source: Aussie Pete

Health authorities in Canada have come up with a campaign to curb ‘social smoking’, by comparing the smell of cigarette smoke to flatulance.

The key message from the quite clever Ontario ‘Quit the Denial’ campaign, is “Social smoking is as ridiculous as social farting”.

'Just because I fart every now-and-then doesn't make me a farter'

'Just because I fart every now-and-then doesn't make me a farter'

In the video, the female ‘social farter’ is placed in the psychoanalyst’s chair, and justifies her ‘social flatulence’ by saying that it’s just a means to ‘fit in with the crowd’.

She says, “It’s true that I fart…. I really only do it when I hang out with my friends that fart. We hang out, we drink, we dance … just have some fun being together… farting”.

Watch the Video:

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According to media reports, the campaign is “obviously intended to juxtapose the supposed `coolness’ of smoking with flatulence, the campaign is being billed as a “gentle” poke at smoking in the face of widespread graphic tobacco warnings”.

The Message - 'Social smoking is as ridiculous as social farting'

The Message - 'Social smoking is as ridiculous as social farting'

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