IronyFunny how things are.

When you have all the time in the world, you may not have the money.

When you have all the money in the world, you may not have the time.

When you have all the money in the world, and all the time in the world, you may not have the health.

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Crafting a CV that Won’t get Trashed

CVOver the years, I’ve helped many people prepare their CVs but while I don’t claim to be a CV-writing expert and I can’t guarantee you’ll get the job you want, I believe the following tips may be of some help:

  1. I notice a lot of CVs start with a job objective like “To secure a position in the IT department of a major international bank.” I suggest you forget about that. No one cares a shit about what your job objective is. Companies out there in the world are not there to meet your job objectives. Companies out there in the world are looking for talent, for someone who can do the job they want done.
  2. Instead, after your name, (which should be in bold and centralized), the first line of your CV should contain a one-sentence description of yourself. This soundbitey, elevator-pitch type statement is where you encapsulate in as succinct a manner as you possibly can, who you are and explain what you are capable of doing. Here’s an example: “Highly driven award-winning copy writer known for creative flair, analytical as well as superlative client-understanding skills; have lived and worked internationally; eminently qualified with a BA in Fine Arts from a prominent university.” (Don’t mention which university, as it will prompt the reader to want to read on.)
  3. Next, list your current position, as in “2010 – present: Chief Copy writer, Bright, Goofy & Raw International, a world renowned advertising agency managing the global accounts of organizations such as The Priestly Thrust, ClodAir, Lohthario & Lohviathan Associates, Global Bailout Bank, and UNCOCR (United Nations Commission On Chicken Rights), amongst others.” Ok, I made those names up but my point is, this is the part of your CV where you state the year of your tenure, your current position, and a quick one-liner on the organization you are with. People do attach some significance to the company you work with. If you are in charge of food courts, even a title like “Intergalactic Senior Vice President of Business Development, Asia Pacific” is not going to impress anyone. Sorry, nothing wrong working with, in or for food courts, but that’s life, ok. Deal with it.
  4. After that, you state your achievements in this job. For example: “After analyzing and determining client needs to address market perception and to increase mind and walletshare, I created copy for ClodAir, which was used in several advertising media (print, TV, etc) throughout the world in an aggressive, 12-month global blitz. The outcome of the campaign, according to audited findings, has resulted in successfully increasing bookings of ClodAir flights by at least a hundredfold. This assignment also won me the Pan Asian Advertising New Talent of the Century recognition in 2012; the award is equivalent to an Oscar in the advertising industry.”
  5. Do that for your last three jobs. List tenure, title, one-liner on the company, and your achievements there. (Pepper your CV with positive action words and phrases.) There is no need to list a whole chronological order of all the jobs you have held in your entire frigging life. We’re not asking you to write your life history for goodness sake! And no one really wants to know that you were once a temporary odd job laborer at Sheng Siong or a urinal scrubber at Mustafa when you were working during your high school vacation to earn some extra pocket money so you could visit paid porn sites.
  6. Your educational details come next: List highest qualification, next highest, etc. No need to mention secondary or primary school, unless you went to Raffles or Hwa Chong. (60% of those awarded the prestigious Public Service Commission scholarship attended these two schools, so I guess a bit of bragging is fine.) Anyway, feel free to highlight academic achievements or awards – summa cum laude, etc – if any, and list activities that attest to your leadership capability.
  7. You may also wish to have a section entitled COMPETENCIES where you showcase skills that are deemed exceptional – for example, “Able to operate professional Arri Alexa and Red Epic movie-making cameras and have produced my own amateur movies, viewable at YouTube.” (Provide the URLs here.) List competencies that are truly exceptional. You can cook Italian food? Well, those idiots are a dime a dozen! You are a lounge pianist? Ditto. Don’t bother listing such nonsense.
  8. Some people mention hobbies. I don’t find that relevant. It only lengthens your CV considerably. And nobody cares if you are a member of the National Geographic Society. Any clown who subscribes to the magazine is a member, what’s the big fucking deal? And if your hobby is cigar smoking, macho and unusual and expensive as it may be, if a recruiter who’s an anti-smoking Nazi comes across your CV, your CV is going to end up in the trash bin. Game over. If you are a dog lover, a dog hater may not want to talk to you. If you dabble in Feng Shui or crystal healing or past-life regression or aromatherapy or hypnosis listing all these will get your CV incinerated if the recruiter thinks Feng Shui or crystal healing or past-life regression or aromatherapy or hypnosis and other such hocus-pocus are nothing but a huge crock of crap. Know what I mean? Bottom line: don’t provide reasons for people to trash your CV. Providing a list of hobbies makes you vulnerable. Highlighting your religion (see 9 below) exposes you to the same vulnerability, so don’t declare what your religion is.
  9. Your contact details come next, together with your language proficiency. If you are thinking of including a photo, best to first ask around if attaching a photo contravenes the equal opportunity act. If you are going ahead with it use a passport-size one in color, at the upper right corner of your CV on page one. Understand there’s a risk there – some of those retards working in HR hire people on the basis of how they look and if you are just an average Joe, (meaning like me, ie ugly like fuck) and not a top-shelf kind of good looker, these HR retards may just discard your CV, but then again, if you have formatted the CV the way I am suggesting, it is likely that it will be read till the very end even if you look like a piece of turd. Note: if you, however, look like a movie star, sure, go ahead but make sure you look like your photo when you show up for the interview. Don’t use a photo taken when you were 17 and weighed a hundred pounds less then. Also: Photoshop may remove double or triple chins and add lots of hair to your balding pate but when you show up, what you see is what you get, baby. So go easy with the photo thing and use a recent one. Don’t give your interviewer a heart attack. A dead recruiter can’t hire you. And talking about heart attacks, try to use a font that’s easy on the eye, like Lucida Sans.
  10. No need to say anything about salary expectations. No need to state age even or if you are married, divorced, living in sin or in a homosexual relationship or married to an overweight walrus or whatever. In fact it is illegal for any interviewer to ask you any of that. If you are responding to an ad requiring you to state salary expectations, just say in your cover letter that salary is negotiable, job-fit and job-satisfaction and your ability to hit the road running and contribute from day one are more important elements. If the ad requests you to state your current salary – annualize it, after including fixed and variable bonuses – and provide a range. Say something like “My current annual remuneration is in the neighborhood of S$200,000/- but I am flexible with salary as I believe that job-fit and job-satisfaction and my ability to hit the road running and start contributing from day one are more critical factors to take into consideration. I look forward to a meaningful discussion with you on these topics and will contact your secretary in the next three days to schedule an appointment for you to interview me.”

That’s it. What remains for me to do now is only one thing – and that is to wish you good luck!

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Two More Kiko Pipes


The Tanganyika Meerschaum Corporation Limited disappeared from the surface of the earth a long time ago and the Kiko pipes they produce are now a rarity, yet one or two will surface every so often on online auction sites. I just acquired a couple of beauties.

NOTE: Tanganyika, once known as German East Africa, has been part of the United Republic of Tanzania since 1964.

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My Kirsten

KirstenUniversity of Washington Professor of Aeronautical Engineering, Frederick Kirsten revolutionized pipe smoking by creating the radiator stem. When tobacco, which is 30% to 60% moisture, is lit in the bowl, it creates steam. As the smoke is drawn through the stem, the steam is cooled and condenses into a liquid. This bitter-tasting liquid is trapped in the stem, along with tars, nicotine and tongue-biting acids.

The theory is that with Kirsten pipes, only clean, cool, moisture-free smoke passes through the intake tube to the mouthpiece. To remove the trapped liquid, one simply remove the valve. Also, any smoker can clean a Kirsten in seconds by pushing a tissue through the bore of the stem, exactly as one would clean a gun barrel.

Interchangeable bowls (a la Falcon) in briar and meerschaum make it all the more interesting.

When did the company start? No one knows for sure. US patent office records an application dated back to 1938, but things in the pipe and tobacco world change fast – do you know that Samuel Gawith is now part of Gawith Hoggarth again? – and, not surprisingly, the Kirsten pipe company today is a poor shadow of its former self. Production has halted and emails rarely get answered. One hears that the machine shop that made the pipes is geared up to restart but we’ve been hearing that for the longest time. Still, to collectors, Kirsten pipes are worth something, and there’s always eBay.

Picture above shows a recent acquisition.

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A Private Jet

EclipseTraipsing around the region, the six-seater Eclipse 500 is a good-enough private jet to acquire. Powered by two lightweight Pratt & Whitney Canada PW610F turbofan engines in aft fuselage-mounted nacelles it can climb up to 41,000 ft (12,500 m) just like any commercial jetliner and has a maximum speed of 370 knots (425 mph, 685 km/h).

For longer distance, there’s always Singapore Airlines Suites but for Bihun Bebek in Medan in the morning, a trip to a private island in the Andaman Sea in the afternoon and Khao Kha Moo in Bangkok in the evening, this is the perfect little jet to use!

In fact, it’s the only way to fly.

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Roast Lamb

Saturday’s lunch at the Club was roast lamb with champagne. Nothing much to say so I’ll let the picture speak for itself:


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What Aussies do with Pandies

Danny Katz

Danny Katz

I am not saying Aussies are dumb but I came across this Q&A column entitled Modern Guru, when I was last there and it’s hilarious enough to reproduce what I read in full:

QUESTION: A friend was walking down a street when he felt something in the lower leg of his jeans. Upon shaking his foot a previously worn pair of underpants fell out. In his embarrassment, he stepped over them and kept walking. What should he have done?

ANSWER by Danny Katz: I know this problem, it’s pretty common among men, because when we undress at night, many of us like to drop our pants and undies in a neat little pile on the floor – a discreet unit we call “Pandies”. Then, in the morning, we step back into them, yanking them up in one fluid motion, like a firefighter stepping into a Hazmat suit, but a reverse Hazmat suit, with all the hazardous material on the inside.

However, every now and then, we like to wear fresh undies – maybe it’s a romantic occasion, maybe it’s a quarterly BAS ritual – but when we put on the new undies, sometimes we forget that there are old undies already integrated into our pants, so they get forced into a leg-hole, working their way slowly down the pants’ leg (anything up to five hours, depending on the pants’ length, tightness and how many other old pairs of undies are already queued up in there).

Eventually, they will pop out the bottom of the pants at a random time of day. Then the best rule to follow is: don’t touch them if you’re in a crowd, or they’re just holes held together by waistband elastic, or they’re a G-string with an Angry Bird on the pouch. But it’s okay to pick them up if nobody’s around, or they’re pretty new, or they came out with the TV remote.

NOTE: Danny Katz is a Canadian-born author and newspaper columnist who writes for The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald and The West Australian. He is the Modern Guru in Good Weekend Magazine.

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I’m Glad I Stayed

Leave this for Australia?

Leave this for Australia?

With the time difference, Australia is ahead of us, it was a friend from Australia who first heard and alerted me to the news that Lee Kuan Yew has passed away last Monday.

Shortly after, another friend from Australia also emailed her condolences.

All last week, I continued to receive messages of condolences from friends all over the world, expressing their solidarity with me as I mourned with Singaporeans the passing of our founding father.

I have seven relatives in Australia, three of whom were born there.

Not a pip squeak from anyone of them. Not a phone call, not an email, not a single text message. Zero, zip, zilch, nada.

There was a time when people said that Singapore won’t make it.

Some of my relatives in Australia obviously thought Down Under was a better place so they packed up and left.

They come visit once a while. When asked about life in Australia they always speak of it in glowing terms, but I know better, having made Australia my playground for the past 30 years, visiting every other year or so.

Of course they would be slapping themselves in the face if they admitted that their leaving had been a mistake.

In fact many Singaporeans in Australia were hoping to come back when Australia was in dire straits economically some years back.

I have lived and worked internationally and were offered many opportunities to move overseas permanently.

I know my staying behind is not a mistake.

Here, I am not treated as second-class.

There are no neighborhoods I can’t venture into.

Late night shopping doesn’t happen only once a week and late night shopping doesn’t mean stores close at 9pm.

Garbage doesn’t get collected only once a week.

A bowl of noodles doesn’t cost more than 10 dollars here. When I was in Sydney a couple of weeks ago, I paid A$13.80 for a bowl of pho and A$5.80 for four tiny xiao long baos.

A fruit juice and a medium-size plastic tub of cut fruits won’t made me poorer by 15 bucks here. That’s what I paid at a food court in Sydney when I was there last.

I – and my women friends – can walk anywhere at night or even at 3am without fear of being murdered. Singapore has one of the lowest crime rates in the world – a citizen in the US is 24 times more likely to be murdered in the US than in Singapore.

From all over the world chefs with Michelin stars have all set up shop here, yet I can eat cheaply some of the best food in the world for around four to five bucks or less for a satisfying meal. When I eat at a food court, the cuisine choices I make are international in nature.

Above all, this is my home, I don’t feel like I’m a visitor here. On top of that I don’t have to worry about bushfires or cyclones or ridiculously high income taxes.

There are many who claim that this is Disneyland with a death penalty, that the laws are draconian. Well, given the size of this country, it was necessary to be harsh especially in the early days of nationhood; otherwise weakened, we would easily be swallowed by hostile neighboring countries. Given how volatile this area still is and how vulnerable we still are, it is vital that our government continues to be tough.

Today, Singapore is the envy of the rest of the world. With an annual average growth rate of almost 7% since 1976, it now has a per capita income of well over US$50,000/-, making it the wealthiest country in Asia. In fact, Singapore’s GDP per capita exceeds even that of Britain, France and Germany.

Other numbers speak for themselves – if we didn’t support Lee Kuan Yew and his decisions, would over 100,000 people – young and old, of all races – line the street to send him off, would 1.8 million people pay tribute to him at the 18 tribute sites throughout Singapore and would 454,687 visitors, ie an average of 6,500 visitors per hour – many standing in the hot sun for up to 10 hours or more – attend the four-day Lying-in-State at Parliament House? (And some were not even Singaporeans!) Mind you, the public outpouring of grief was spontaneous, nothing was staged. May I remind you that this is not North Korea.

Also, Australia and New Zealand passed parliamentary motions to mourn Lee Kuan Yew and Bhutan and India flew their flags at half-mast to mourn him as well. International dignitaries from more than 20 countries, including former and current presidents and heads of governments as well as members of royalty turned up at his funeral.

A reader named Priya Christie wrote in The Straits Times on March 30th: “I am an educated, independent woman of a minority race, in a country that embraces and respects each of its citizens equally. Such is the country that Mr Lee built. How could I ever leave this place?”

I’m not sure any of my relatives in Australia can say that.

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Nasi Ambeng at Hajjah Mariam Café

Food sellers at the basement of Westgate at Jurong East face tough competition. Though the mall is higher end compared to its neighbor JEM, and Big Box and the nearby JCube, there are literally hundreds of places in these three locations where shoppers can eat – from little eateries to the many stalls in the several food courts to restaurants big and small.

If Hajjah Mariam hadn’t had a brainwave last July her little café in the basement of Westgate would have probably closed by now, just like so many others.

Hajjah – the honorific is bestowed on Muslim women who have performed the Haj – decided to focus on Nasi Ambeng. Nasi Ambeng is basically a Malay dish often served at Malay Kanduris or feasts – a huge metal or plastic platter is lined with banana leaf, the center spot is occupied by fragrant rice, and all kinds of delicious morsels, like chicken or beef, are placed on the platter and several people would sit around to share one platter. Best eaten with your hand the dish is delightfully tasty and promotes bonding and fellowship.

Hajjah Mariam decided to sell it and created a menu with different prices for each size of Nasi Ambeng. The cheapest are the solo platters of $8/- or $11/-. (Click on picture to see better.)

MariamMenuHere’s Hajjah Mariam (center) with her daughters holding up various sizes of her Nasi Ambeng:

MariamThis is the $16/- platter I tried; good enough for three small eaters:

$16With the introduction of Nasi Ambeng, the rest, they say, is history. The cafe is packed every meal time, often with long lines of customers waiting.

For now, as far as I know, this is probably the only place in Singapore to partake of this wonderful dish. But this being Singapore, before long, copy cats will emerge, but if you want the original, head out to the basement of Westgate and check this dish out.

Be sure to go early to avoid the long lines.

UPDATE: About a week after this post was published, I was told by a taxi driver that there’s another Nasi Ambeng stall at Changi Village that probably began operations some time before Hajjah Mariam started selling hers.

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Colors of the Forest

Local chef Sam Leong (who focuses on Chinese food) and his Thai wife and their son cooked up a storm on Thursday at Stuttgart Blackforest Boutique S-Café. The wines were organic German wines from the Schmalzried vineyard.

To start: Kessler Jägergrün Riesling Brut.

The following exotic dishes were paired with these wines:


PumpkinSoupKing Crab Meat Gello with Chilled Tom Yum Consommé
Pumpkin Soup with Garlic Herb Croutons
Öko-weingut Schmalzried Bianco Weißweincuvée 2011

LaMianHomemade “La Mian” with Wagyu Beef in Chilled Hot and Sour Consommé
Öko-weingut Schmalzried W Holzenberg Silvaner Spätlese 2011

KnuckleCrispy Pork Knuckles on Wok-fried Preserved Vegetables with duo of Classic and Spicy Asian Mongolian Sauce
Öko-weingut Schmalzried Hanweller N Riesling Spätlese 2010

LycheeLychee Parfait with Raspberry Caviar and Lychee Sorbet
Öko-weingut Schmalzried Gewürztraminer Auslese 2012

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