Category Archives: Stories

This is my “Journal” or “Diary”. Things going on in my life will be here

Traveling with Animal Friends Around the World

Its a new year! Oh what blatant lie but still, its my first post for 2013!

You know, the feeling I’m feeling is that that feeling when there’s so much to do, even more that you wish to do, but so little that you really do.

Since resuming blogging has this great inertial, I decided to share some of travel adventures around the world (LA, Japan, Taiwan) with my animal friends (guess who they are!), before writing on more technical stuff.

I guess it all started on a trip to about 4 years ago. Then I was working in the San Francisco bay are then, and with a cheap pair of air tickets, I flew down to Los Angeles for a quick get away alone, until I met Piglet.

LA’s metro

Downtown LA

Walt Disney Concert Hall

Aquarium of the Pacific

Piglet and Jellyfish

Then it was the period of H1N1 Swine influenza, and so the saying that “pigs fly” became true.

Next stop, Japan with Doraemon, the Japanese Robotic cat from the future.

Doraemon on the plane

Doraemon in Tokyo’s JR train

Doraemon and the crowded Kaminarimon in Asakusa

Doraemon in Akihabara Electric Town

Doraemon watches sunrise at Atami

Doraemon and the Shinkansen

Doraemon and a big Rubik’s cube in Osaka

Doraemon in Kaleidoscope in Osaka’s Science Museum

Doraemon goes Kyoto cycling

Doraemon at the Ryōan-ji, a Zen temple famous for its dry garden. Here Doraemon is enlightened that you need to mediate about nothing to be enlightened about nothing.

At the beautiful Hirosawa lake

Doraemon in Arashiyama bamboo forest

The skies tear as Doraemon waves goodbye to Japan

Now for the next destination, Taiwan.

Angry bird at the Sun Moon lake.

At the beautiful mountain side of Cingjing.

At the sheep farm

At Taroko Gorge (thanks to my friend yeda for the correction from “Taroko” :)

Throwing Angry bird in a cable car up Maokong, Taipei.

Angry bird hikes up Jinguashi.

Angry Bird meets his enemies, at the local pig farm.

Angry bird launches into space, returning to my home in Singapore.

Where to, who shall I go with next? Thanks for reading, and hope you enjoyed this little adventure.


p.s. a technical bit – this is the first time I experimented writing this post with zenpen. Its a pretty cool tool (Since I usually post my photos on facebook, I just drag them in). I then used $(‘section’).innerHTML to extract the html code, clean some attributes before pasting into my blog.

Ping Me? Meaning of Words

My housemates and I have interesting conversations at times @ home.

Mr Krishna was telling me about how he didn’t understand the meaning of ping used here, like “Ping me when you’re done” or “I’ll ping you”

So I reply that meanings of words change, and many a times it get derived so much it doesn’t reflect its original context or meaning. Nevertheless its good to know its original meaning and know how it evolved. So while the technical guys know the purpose of “ping” or the IMCP echo, some might think that ping came from “ping pong” (table tennis), as seen in the IRC days. The most likely inspiration of the word ping would be sound waves created by sonar in submarines.

Another interesting topic is “blog” (in its context have another meaning for ping too), derived from weblog, was in fact a technical term for a developer’s/designer’s tool. After some time, blog was almost a synonym to “online diary” and these days blogs has also almost become an essential part of online marketing.

Other times brand and product names affect people’s vocabulary too. For example, most people doesn’t seem to know that “Rollerblade” is in fact just a brand for the sport “In-line skating”. Photocopying could be called “Xerox” in America, and “zapping” in Singapore. I used the word “Scotch tape” for years before knowing its a trademark for a adhesive tape product.

Then the singaporean language “culture” or Singlish is a big culprit of giving new meaning to words, infecting the native English, Malay and Hokkien. And for that we have a few online Singlish dictionaries here and here.

Its interesting but whether this word morphing culture is good or not, I don’t know. We tend to get petty smart and lazy using such words, but at the same time we are adding more definitions to our dictionary entries.

A Letter from Prison

While going out from home a few days ago, a neighbor approached me asking me to translate a letter she received. So began my attempt to be a english-chinese translator while reading the letter simultaneously. Following is a rough impression of its contents

Dear nephew,

I’ve been recently sentenced x years imprisonment and will be release on xx.xx.20xx. As you know I’ve did not study much in the past so this letter was written with the help of my cellmates. I hope you would study hard and not follow in my footsteps.

Do not worry about me as I’m well taken care here. Let my children know and give them my prison cell id, so they can visit me or write to me.

… … …

The letter, was written on a “prison paper” letter format with very neat handwriting. My neighbor, not understanding english and worried something bad had happened, decided to clarify with me.

Fortunately (or maybe not), it turned out the letter was sent to the wrong destination. The block and unit number were correct, but the recipient’s name and street address was wrong, so I suggested returning the mail.

Although this few short minutes was insignificant, it provoked a few thoughts of mine.

1st, it made me realised how personal letters were. Emails are still personal, but perhaps not at the same level as written letters. Perhaps the early believers would have been very encouraged when they received letters John wrote to the church while in prison.

2nd, it shows the prison in another light away from Prison Break and Mal Selamat saga. Its sad if you know if a friend or relative is in prison but jailed time spent would be worth if it is able to change a man’s life, and the lives around the man.

Another little incident that day for thought: While looking at when the rain would stop, a passerby threw the classified section of the newspaper on a bench and walked off hurriedly. An inconsiderate or courteous action? Well, I took that newspaper to shelter my head back home, then dump that into the recycling bin.

2008 New Year Updates

well nothing much has change. Things are moving on at a constant (or maybe pretty fast) pace that I do not feel a full reset. I still feel some new year symptoms for example when noticing the heavy congestion on the roads after work- due to fact adults are getting back to work and students back to school.

Modules Bidding. School reopening in 2 weeks time and I’m torn to which path to take. The technicality of the Computer Science stream seems to entice me, but my Diploma in Business Informatics seems to set the path for Information Systems. Anyway I bidded for 5 modules, which seem quite pro-IS :

  • CS1231 – Discrete Structures
  • MA1505 – Mathematics I (aka Horror Maths)
  • CS2261 – Enterprise Systems Development
  • CS2250 – Fundamental of IS
  • CS3216 – Software Development on Evolving Platforms (aka Facebook Module)

Blog maintenances. This blog has been advertisement-free since it started (>2.5 years?). Since there were suggestions of getting a little pocket money due to a steady amount of visitors here, I compared Google Adsense, and some regional advertisers- Adverlets, Nufflets, Nuffnang. Since Google is more reputable, I’m trying it. I customised the ads not to be too obvious, and can be found in a small section/widget in the right sidebar of the page.

You might notice I’ve have been playing with some other widgets in the sidebars. I’ll be adding scripturizer (js version), some interesting stuff (get hints from my next post) and trying to clean up stuff which is not working.

Also, I’m involved with OpsFly (Operation: Financial Literacy for Youths), in the IT team and its site will be at Not much content is up for now and work will have to be done.

Next month would be my piano exams, and I’m involved with a concert this month- I ought to spend less time with computers and more time practicing music.

The Search For Stars To See (Part I)

The time is 2300 hours. Equipped with little more than my handphone, GPS receiver, cousin’s Giant road bike, army glasses, I set off to find an “wulu” (deserted) area around my neighborhood where I could graze at the stars.

Cycling Route Tracked with GPS
(courtesy to Google maps)

Why the want to look at the stars? Some friends might have know my love for stars, (not so much in exams) that in my bedroom are glow-in-the-dark stars linked with adhesive to the ceiling. When overseas even in Malaysia, it was nice to look up and see the beautiful sky we seldom chance on at home. During my army’s guard duties, it was nice to step out of the building at night, with the dark surroundings, gave attention to the bright backdrop of stars overhead.

Although I always ask others if they knew how to look at stars, I never get to learn, and so I always had my own way of looking at them. Until I visited this webpage, The Night Sky, with over 80 pages of night photos, teaches you how to identify stars, direction, constellations, and planets. Armed with this new knowledge I wanted to look at the sky for myself.

In my memory, the route I’ll be taking will be going through the least populated and least lit, places which perhaps I could get the most out of the sky. Up the slope, round the road to the Yishun channel cycling track, connect to a lonely road at a Malay Kampong g (village) near the Sembawang beach.

Well… I didn’t manage to see the stars today.

For one reason, perhaps its too early?

Two, as what a writer describe in an article I read years ago: “Light population”. Lights from the city, from the HDB flats, from the roads, and even the deserted road I remembered with proper lights has been covered with street lamps.

Three, the sky. Too bright, I thought, such that I see a lighted background behind the trees and lampposts. Seemed because of the bright full moon in the near horizon. Yet I remember seeing both bright stars and moon in my duty days. Cloudy sky, was my conclusion, as the clouds trap the moonlight to reflect or refract creating a bright sky with no stars.

About 30 mins of cycling time,
~8km of flat distance
Average speed of ~20km/h
Maximum speed of 36.4km/h
Average elevation: 12.2 m.s.l.
(tracklogged by Trekbuddy and reports by uTrack)

No star grazing. Let’s wait for another time.

Notes From Myself For Myself (Part 1)

27 June 2007 Wednesday.

I separated from my campmates as we go on our separated ways home. My bus reached Bukit Batok Bus Interchange, and I took a walk into West Mall. A text came from a ORDed friend, saying he has a gift from Hong Kong for me. To stall time waiting for him to arrive home, I went into Bukit Batok Community Library and borrowed a few books quickly. 1 was copy writing, another resumes, a book for writing autobiography and one for writing journals.

Side story about my library fascination: My mum used to bring me to ang mo kio’s library when I was young even though traveling time took at least 30 mins. (there was where I read about computer programming.) I was a librarian 3 years in my secondary school days. I spent countless time in Yishun library when it was built no more than 50m from my home! After O’levels while working, I made it a point to visit every branch of community library in Singapore – I believed covered almost everyone of them. NYP library was a place we inhabited during exams period, while some studied, some eyed for girls)

Trivial: Spelling and Languages are still one of my worst abilities! Some friends think I’m dyslexia.

The book that caught my attention, “Notes From Myself”, subtitled “A Guide to Creative Journal Writing” by “Anne Hazard Aldrich”.

My impressions reading the book, was it teaches you what is journal writing, the benefits and insights, and provides interesting notes and excerpts from other authors and journal writers. The book gives tips for writing, and also reasons to make you do so, and although journal writing would be a mile different with blogging, nevertheless its a read to make you reflect how you write.

Listening to the Morimur album while reading took my thoughts and feelings back and forth many places while I try to complete the book before the due date. Morimur album, btw, is recording done by Christoph Poppen and Hilliard Ensemble rendition of (a remixed) Bach’s Solo Violin Partita and Vocal Music. It has a modern idea, yet a very nice baroque, bach feel.

Back to the book, the last chapter made me reflect on the words of eleventh century scholastic Richard of St. Victor:

A man, who has not yet succeeded in seeing himself, raises his eyes in vain to see God. Let a man first understand the invisible things of himself before he presumes to stretch out to the invisible things of God…
for unless you can understand yourself, how can you try to understand those things which are above yourself.

Excerpts from my Writtings in TAD

Write up on “My Defining Moments in SAFAC”

“I feel it is not easy for me to define my dearest moment in SAFAC. Many precious moments that invoke my memories, thoughts and feelings, as if they were gems I wouldn’t want to lose any”…

…”life started in SAFAC as an ATT trainee at SOA in Dec 05. In 3 months in about 20 other ammo techs to be, we went through”…

“Not long after I was welcomed to TAD, I had my first cohesion”…

…”I feel privileged and am grateful for my high-level NDP fireworks involvement”…

…”Although I had just spent about a year in SAFC, I have gain a large amount of knowledge and experience. One of the reason is because of the people around me”…

“Going back to the main topic of “my most defining moments”, if I really need to give an answer, it would be my ndp involvement and my wits experiences. However I do not wish to stop there. I would give all my enthusiasm each day of having the optimism of which that day would be fruitful, memorable, learning and unforgettable experience I would always remember”

Signed off hastily then

CPL J0shua K0o

Message on the last day in camp (that’s today)

“Dear all,

The time has come for me to part. This would be my last day in here and I would like to take the opportunity to say thanks. I don’t intend for this message to be touchy feeling but I love to recall the wonderful moments I had in TAD quickly”…

… “and I look back, I always feel the happiness with a slight tinge of sadness in them”…

“My memorable and exiting moments briefly”…

“Memorable duties”…

“Memorable cohesions”…

“As how I feel, time has caught up with me, and its time to say goodbye.” [Thanks to a big list of people, and yet people still ask me why their names are not inside ;)]…

Signed off with the greatest haste,

“Best regards with lots of love and laughters,
3SG J0shua K0o”

Malay Food and Skin Medication

I love eating Malay food. They are cheap, spicy, and delicious.

Almost every meal during recess daily in secondary school was Nasi Brani.

Living at my old home, “Mee Goreng” and “Nasi Goreng” seemed my only vocab at the Indian store at the coffee shop below my flat.

However since I moved house till I entered NS, I seldom eat Muslim food, until

Thursday 12 July

Mee Goreng at the hawker centre next to Enos MRT Station.

Friday 13 July

$1.90 Nasi Lemak Set Meal at shophouses next to..

United Square.

Mentioning why I was at Novena, it was my last trip to National Skin Center due to my well suppressed outbreak of Eczema(, a kind of Dermatology disease, which I had likely received via my genetics and habitat).

Not very noteworthy, but for the record purpose here’s a list of different medication I have tried on my skin in the last 18 months.

  • Fobancort cream (which happens to work the best for me, is a strong steroid)
  • Dermasone 0.1%
  • Xepacycline
  • Dosanac Emulsion Gel (opps, not for my rash but for muscle relief)
  • Chlortralim (Another chlortertracycline cream, but seemed issue wrongly to me, as it usually for the eyes)
  • Aquarea (moisturising cream with urea (urine?) 10%)
  • Beprosone ointment
  • PP Wash(Potassium permanganate KMnO4 solution)
  • Mycoban

And some others I might not have recorded. Now for oral medication

  • Choloramine
  • Loratadine Tablet

These are usually flu/rash + drowsiness pills as a temp fix for itch.

As I recall, there are even more methods some I have tried, and others hearsay.

  • 青草油 Herbal Oil which was said to be good for open wounds. It was good for causing burns and pain when applying, followed by some relief (perhaps of the initial burn first). My friend suggested another strong chinese herb but I never tried that powder before.
  • Just leave it- (wasnt such a good idea).
  • Wearing bandage on affect areas- so won’t cause a wound when scratching at night in sleep
  • Wearing gloves
  • Apply salt water
  • Soak in sea water
  • Don’t apply soap
  • Let the dog lick
  • Apply Cow dang on affected areas
  • Avoid Seafood completely
  • Bath in Cold water

Anyway when my situation was quite bad everyone comes out with a version of remedy advice. Maybe some helped, and others worsen, I’m glad I wouldn’t need to think so much about it now.






不错,学校建筑改了很多,好多老师都不在(新来的老师们都很年轻)。但是,真开心(又惊讶)能见到几位教过我的老师,更动心他们都能记得我!也许我以前太坏了。。。 :$ 见到的老师们包括教我英语的、华语的、数学的、科学的。






Last Guard Duty

“How are you feeling now that you competed your duties?”

“Should be feeling good”

“I would be flying if it were my last duty”

A little talk between a superior of mine and I after my last night duty. Though I don’t really know him well, the previous occasion we had duty together, we talked about life, and past and future of our camp. The past was a little of history lessons, as we recall the people and culture way before I came. The future as we foresee how the people and system were like, and he mentioned I would be missed like a couple of NSFs who served their time well with him.

Frankly, I wasn’t feeling much, yet- there seemed to be a little vacuum, not much excited happiness nor sadness. Perhaps I had been numbed.

I recall vividly the commotion and consequences my “upper study” had after getting into trouble on his last duty. I myself wanted some simple routine stuff, perhaps “slow and steady”, perhaps a “just get over and done with” attitude. No steamboats, no celebrations, no sabotage, just plain routine stuff with a handful of less exciting personnel. At least it ended with a round of applause for me as we fall out.

Now I recall, a year and a half: 18 months with take 6 duties each would sum up over 100 duties. Through the duties I rose through ranks and appointments, from simply carrying out orders to carrying responsibilities.

Imagine 24 hours 100 days, but just take 10 hours, I would be 1000 hours. Actually as the days past, you wouldn’t feel the huge amount of time, but now 1000 hours is not too little either.

In no particular order, during the “spare time”, I..
Slept – Probably huge amount of time
Played games – Chinese chess, Sudoku, Risk, Uno, and other “team games”
Read – Newspapers, Magazines, Browse the Intranet, Novels, Books
Talk – Share some jokes and quizzes, getting to know each other better and stuff
Watch – TV, some CDs and DVDs occasionally

When I started out, I was perhaps more “garang” or ambitious.. did exercise when I had the time, brought a couple of books (esp. non-nonfictional war books).. and did some planning and learning for work related stuff and others.. over time the drive seemed to vanish, and there are certainly things I thought I could have do better – finish a couple of uncompleted books, getting to know others better and sort of stuff, pass down more of my skill and so on…

Anyway that’s for looking back, time pass quickly. I mark the end of my duties, finishing reading the war(ww1) story “Four Weeks in the Trenches”, by Fritz Kreisler (a composer and violinist) and writing this.