Silly Fun?

Honestly this is just plain stupid, but we are all covetous grabbers, aren’t we? We all hanker after bargains and when we buy stuff, we pray that that the tax authorities won’t notice. What cheapskates! Can’t afford this hobby? Stick to cigarettes lah, bro. Leave pipes and cigars to the real men. Stop being a poser.

This rubbishy pipe has furthered my opinion that mercenary (paid for hire) pundits are flatulent bags of pus. Look at the wows in the reviews of this pipe – you’ll be amazed at how people talk about it as though it’s a ten-thousand-dollar pipe.

Anyone who can write so many words around something as shitty as a corncob – a reverse calabash corncob, Jesus fucking Christ – has to be full of shit to the eyebrows!

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Very Special Moretti – the Fourth One ever Made

Marco has done it again – created a most unusual pipe of stunning beauty. It’s only the fourth such pipe he has ever made; cost US$1500/-.

The birdseye grain at the bottom is simply out of this world:

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The Jerome Rodale Syndrome, First Hand

Jerome Rodale was the founder of a publishing empire dedicated to health.

In 1971, talk-show host Dick Cavett invited Rodale onto his TV show after reading a New York Times Magazine article that called Rodale “the guru of the organic good cult.”

Rodale took his chair next to Cavett, proclaimed that he would live to be 100, and then made a snoring sound and died.

Couple of points here:

  1. I am always perturbed by the use of the world “guru” – either used by a person on himself or by others referring to a person. I believe the world “guru” (or “master” for that matter) is often used because it is easier to spell than “charlatan.” I am wary of anyone being referred to as a “guru.”
  2. Watch what you say. Do your words match your actions?

To my second point about watching what you say, I have been the recipient of a couple of sanctimonious, self-righteous verbal assaults recently directed at me by people who purportedly had the concerns of relatives left behind by a friend who passed away unexpectedly last October. I had requested for their presence at the visit of a VIP but was told that that is NOT their priority. Their priority was to help the dead man’s family.

Well, I held my tongue for the most part.

But honestly, if your priority is to help the deceased’s kin, may I ask, since our friend’s passing more than a hundred days ago, have you visited the family members even once to show your concern, have you ensured that those left behind have the means to support themselves?

Taking the dead man’s properties and selling them for a song and giving the money to his family hardly constitutes help. (They were planning to do that on the day of the VIP’s visit.)

These people probably have a different dictionary from mine.

And a very different set of values.

Another thought: The self-righteous may not be wise. Often, their motives are suspect. And sometimes, they are just childish people without EQ.

Posted in Unforgiven | Comments Off on The Jerome Rodale Syndrome, First Hand

citi = Citibank Is Totally Idiotic

I have been a Citibank customer for nearly 30 years. Lately it has gone paperless, which is fine, but to access my account details online, I’ll first need to request for a PIN and then enter the PIN sent to my phone, and then when I finally get to view my statements, they are usually full of errors. I phone the hotline but I can never get to speak to a human being. In the meantime I keep getting annoying SMS and emails reminding me that I have to pay up for one thing or other. I’ve decided enough is enough and on February 28th, I went to their Jurong East branch to close all my accounts with the bank. Life is too short to have to deal with morons.

After taking a queue number, I waited for my turn to be served. When my turn came I was attended to by a guy in a suit by the name of Vincent Tan who had a woman colleague sitting next to him, whispering instructions. She is probably his senior.

Tan asked for my ID, keyed some shit into a computer, stared at the screen, had a whispered conversation with the woman sitting next to him, and then told me that I had to phone their hotline in order to close my accounts. At that point, I became apoplectic and told him in the loudest possible voice I could muster, that Citibank is the most user-unfriendly bank in the world, and I can never get to speak to a human on the phone and despite having been a customer for nearly 30 years I’ve had enough, that was why I decided to show up in person and deal with real people for a change. The woman sitting next to Tan said something to him sotto voce and he suddenly decided that I could close my accounts without having to make a stupid phone call after all. (I wasn’t about to accept “no” for an answer anyway, having taken the trouble to make my way to the branch first thing in the morning. I still wonder why he had asked me to phone to close my accounts when he could have helped me in the first place.)

After my outburst, I was told to wait while Tan made a couple of phone calls himself. He told me – while hanging onto the phone – that I had overpaid my credit card bill and a check would be sent to my home, but for another account, I owe Citibank 80 bucks. I told him to look at my statement to see if he could decipher and understand what the fuck it means, because it was full of errors and no way in the world could I have owed the bank 80 bucks. I ain’t paying 80 bucks, I know the state of my finances, so sue me if you want.

Tan then asked me to speak to the person he was on the phone with.

It was some Filipino broad at a call center probably in the Philippines.

This is a disclaimer for all you lazy bums who slept through high school geography class or somehow not aware of the fact that the Philippines is a first world country full of sophisticated, highly intelligent people.

The Pinoy woman said she had to ask me a few questions for “verification” of my identity. Now, why the fuck is that necessary when I was standing there in person, in front of two Citibank employees who had my ID in their hands? Am I a hologram or what? By then I’ve come to realize that so far, my encounter with the three retards that morning only goes to prove that Citibank is totally idiotic. Aren’t their people trained? Don’t they have a system or procedure smart enough to minimize customer angst? Why does the bank make it so difficult for people to do business with it?

The Pinoy bimbo than asked for the reasons why I wanted to close my accounts noting correctly that I had been a customer for some 30 years. I told her to please skip the bullshit and get straight to the point and get my accounts closed because I was in no mood for a protracted discussion of any kind. At last, she then confirmed that my accounts would be closed, no further payment necessary and a check will be sent to my address for the extra that I had paid for my credit card bill. (The extra I paid is clearly due to an error in their statements.) All this while, I struggled to understand her as her accent was almost incomprehensible. (So much for call centers!) The fact that a Citibank employee (probably a manager of some sort) here in Singapore had to phone its own call center in the Philippines to get a customer problem resolved is totally beyond me. Totally unbelievable.

Throughout my visit, not a single word of apology was uttered by the employees present or by the Filipina on the phone. No attempt was made to retain my business. Citibank seemed quite happy to kiss goodbye a customer of 30 years. The woman whispering instructions into Tan’s ear didn’t even dare make eye contact with me. What a great role model! I have no doubt Tan would gain a shitload of knowledge from being trained and mentored by a cretin like her. Honestly, these young people shouldn’t throw away their lives working for a shitty institution like that.

While I was at the bank, I also noticed several customers coming in asking for their accounts to be closed. Why am I not surprised?

Citibank, I have concluded must be the most fucked-up bank in the world.

And I am being polite.

I’ll let you form your own conclusions.

NOTE: One day later, Citibank had the audacity to send me an email entitled “We listen. You inspire.” The email asked for feedback from me, saying  “At Citi, listening to our Clients inspires us and helps us serve you better.” Note the word “client” is spelled with “C” in uppercase.

I won’t dignify that gall of an email with a response but do you know what I think?

Okay here’s what I think, Citibank: You are a bank managed by overpaid asswipes dedicated to making loyal customers go ballistic with your totally-screwed processes and inflexible IT systems installed probably by the cheapest bidder. A crappy Mumbai market filled with lumps of stinking dog turd is better managed than your so-called global bank. Let’s see when you will crumble and collapse. Let’s see how many more years you’ll last. I have a crate of the finest Dom Perignon waiting to be sabraged when that happens. Now, get off my face and leave me alone.

Fucking retards!

Posted in Unforgiven | Comments Off on citi = Citibank Is Totally Idiotic

And a Moretti for my Birthday

One can never have enough Moretti pipes so I was absolutely delighted when Izuan presented me one – a giant olive chubby – as an early birthday present:

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A Moretti Birdseye Pipe

Marco did it again! Here’s my latest acquisition of yet another masterpiece by him:

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More Pipes by Lee von Erck

Since being gifted with one on my 60th birthday, I am now the proud owner of several of Lee von Erck‘s pipes; here are three more I commissioned:

An extremely fine grade pipe in von Erck’s Emperor range.

A couple more of von Erck’s pipes – notice the beautiful honeycomb-like effect on the one in front.

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Another Storm in a Teacup?

On January 11th, a male driver offered a ride to a female student from United World College of South East Asia as it was raining that day.

On January 16th, a female bus attendant on a school bus from Tanglin Trust School had noticed a male student wearing the uniform of Tanglin Trust School walking towards the school.

As the school bus was going to the same school, the female bus attendant offered the student a ride.

Both rides were declined but it caused a kidnap scare.

Social media went on overdrive.

Schools issued warnings, security was heightened, parents were alarmed, students were frightened, and the two kind-hearted souls were hauled up by the cops who after exhaustive investigations were convinced that no harmful intent was meant. The police also said they have clarified with the Tanglin Trust School student that no person had alighted from the school bus to persuade her to board it.

Then news emerged that a senior school student from Dulwich College heading home from school was approached in the vicinity of Farrer Road. The student, understood to be a boy, also declined the offer of a ride.

The cops are also investigating another incident in which a female student from Nexus International School was approached by two men in a vehicle at Old Holland Road on her walk home from school.

So far there have been no updates on these two incidents.

A retard wrote to the press saying it was surely no coincidence these offers of free rides happened only to international school students.

He pronounced in a most Churchillian manner: “The fact that only students from international schools were involved in those incidents leaves many wondering whether it was too much of a coincidence.” Nut thinks he’s a data scientist or what? He’ll have better luck as a tea-leaf reader.

The rumor mill went berserk.

Home Affairs and Law Minister commented yesterday (January 22nd) that “We need to be careful of spreading untrue stories and unnecessarily alarming parents.”

“Some media reports have called them ‘kidnap scares’,” said Shanmugam. “Media reports have said that the van occupants in one of the incidents had gotten out try to persuade one of the students to get into the van.

“That is untrue. The van provides transport services for the school, takes students to and from the school.”

Fake news huh?

Shanmugam said the authorities have investigated both incidents “thoroughly” and interviewed the people involved.

“There were no kidnap attempts,” he declared.

“It is important for young children to be taught to be careful when approached by strangers. At the same time, we need to be careful of spreading untrue stories and unnecessarily alarming parents.”

“Certainly, we should teach our children not to get into any vehicles with strangers,” he added.

Before the minister weighed in, several others have already expressed their opinions.

The Straits Times wrote on January 20th that “A child should never take up a stranger’s offer of a lift in their vehicle, even on a rainy day.”

It claimed: “That was the resounding verdict of sociologists, support groups and Members of Parliament, who were commenting on a series of recent incidents here that raised the specter – albeit briefly – of kidnapping.”

It quoted warnings from two members of parliament.

Jurong GRC MP Tan Wu Meng said it is “better to be safe than sorry,” adding: “While Singapore has a lower crime rate than many other countries, it’s important to remain vigilant.”

Tampines GRC MP Desmond Choo said children may not be able to fend for themselves, adding: “While most people are kind and well-meaning, there might be the odd chance of perpetrators with nefarious intent.”

The Straits Times also said “Sociologists said the drivers in these cases – even if they had good intentions – should have known their actions were startling.”

The paper interviewed two sociologists.

Yup, fantastic journalism – interview a couple of MPs and a couple of sociologists and say a child should never take up a stranger’s offer of a lift in their vehicle, even on a rainy day and claim that was the “resounding verdict” of sociologists…and members of parliament.

My resounding verdict: Pulitzer Prize potentials Straits Times journos are not. Perhaps that’s why most times the paper pats itself on its own back by creating awards that it dishes out to its own reporters.

Anyway, sociologist Paulin Straughan was quoted by The Straits Times as saying: “The sad truth is – it is not odd for adults to stop and offer assistance but because of our heightened awareness of security, we now perceive kind gestures as threats.”

National University of Singapore sociologist Tan Ern Ser said: “While one may have good intentions, the fact that one is a stranger, as well as being an adult in a position to be able to cause harm, would mean that one would likely be misunderstood.”

Based on what Straughan and Tan Ern Ser said, The Straits Times surmised that “sociologists said the drivers in these cases – even if they had good intentions – should have known their actions were startling.”

“Startling” indeed.

Talk about putting words in peoples’ mouths.

But the third MP The Straits Times interviewed seemed to make the most sense.

Jurong GRC MP Rahayu Mahzam said: “There are many kind souls out there and we shouldn’t discourage kind acts. We also need to teach our children about kindness.”

Sociologist Tan Ern Ser added “If it is raining and the student is running in the rain without an umbrella, it would be helpful to offer one, though not a ride.” Yeah right, keep loads of umbrellas in your car, you bleeding hearts. Soon, the umbrella business will be going through the roof. Buy stocks in umbrella companies please.

While many people found it hard to believe there was no ill intent in the recent cases, a few said there was no issue in accepting a lift from well-meaning strangers and will continue to do good themselves.

It is normal human instinct to do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

A voice of reason came from a sales manager by the name of Kevin Lee, who said some people may genuinely need help, adding: “Rather than seeing someone get stranded because of the rain, I would offer them a lift if I can.”

I believe part of the problem, apart from the media’s sensationalism-style reporting – no choice, paper sales dwindling – and no prize for guessing which paper first used the word “kidnap” – is the lack of integration between the expat community and the local populace.

First off, the penalty for kidnapping in Singapore is death, if the victim is hurt; kidnapping very rarely happens. It was occasionally attempted by foolhardy criminals beyond stupid – who should stick to their day jobs as circus clowns – who almost always got caught and had to face the full brunt of the law. Look at those two shitface cretins who tried to kidnap the mother of Sheng Shiong’s boss – they probably can’t tell the difference between their asses from holes in the ground. And what are they doing now? Polishing the bars at Changi. One of them even asked for the death sentence. Well, you can’t fix stupid.

One lesson – in my humble opinion – to be learned from this international school “kidnapping” scare is that as long as expats and their children do not integrate and mingle with the majority of society there will always be mistrust and suspicion.

Even the best intent may be misinterpreted as diabolical. Once I opened the door for a Caucasian landwhale only to have her glared at me as if I was Najib and scolded me with a snarl “You don’t have to do that just because I am a lady” to which I retorted “I’m doing this not because you are a ‘lady’ but because I am a gentleman.”

Fucking bitch.

This is the dilemma today’s society faces – while many are quick to condemn some for being un-caring, non-chivalrous, cold-hearted and callous, acts of kindness can, on the other hand, be rejected because of people’s wary nature. I don’t blame people for being cagey because many expats come from countries where crime rates are extremely high and just walking along quiet streets at night tantamount to courting personal disaster and inviting death.

My personal dilemma is this: the next time it rains cats and dogs should I be heartless and ignore the poor shivering little kid on the street, soaked and drenched by the heavy downpour and go on my merry way and enjoy my nice cozy warm drive or do I stop to offer a lift and risked being hauled to the police station, given the third degree and subjected to morons on social media labeling me a pedophile, a child molester, a child rapist, a monster, pervert, a potential murderer and serial killer and Lucifer incarnate with “nefarious” intent?

Principals of international schools – other than sitting on their fat asses penning warning letters and circulars –  have important roles to play in fostering better community relations and promoting cross-cultural understanding. The scare begs the questions “How many students in international schools have friends who are Singaporeans?” and “How many expat families socialize with Singaporeans?” While recent discussions have focused on national “class divide” we must also not ignore the “them” versus “us” phenomenon prevalent in foreigners’ relationship with locals. Joint activities between international and Singapore schools is perhaps a good place to start. Otherwise some locals will always think that foreigners are wicked (after all didn’t they come and steal our jobs and lord over us and snatch our husbands and fuck our women?) and some foreigners will always think that the natives (aren’t they restless, weird and inscrutable?) are very likely to run amok anytime beneath the cool superficially friendly exterior. Bonding and intermingling may enable us to sense and intuit people better.

In the end, it is still common sense that will prevail.

Unfortunately, as Voltaire has said, common sense is not so common.

In the meantime, you may wish to know that all my kids possess advanced martial arts training and qualifications. They can incapacitate a grown man in three seconds.

And in these days of global trust deficit, they also own rain coats and carry umbrellas.

Posted in The Good, the Bad & the Ugly | Comments Off on Another Storm in a Teacup?

A Scourge Invading Singapore

A grown man riding an e-scooter – besides looking fucking ridiculous, this retard must be harboring a death wish, overtaking a bus in heavy traffic.

Electronic bicycles, e-scooters and personal mobility devices kill, get it?!

Every other day we hear of accidents involving electronic bicycles, e-scooters and personal mobility devices. Yes, personal mobility devices – what a glamorous term for shitty little platforms on wheels used by losers and cretins whose parents never gave them attention when they were kids.

About 110 such accidents took place between January and September last year, involving 90 injuries and four deaths.

Of these accidents, about 30 were on public paths involving pedestrians and PMD users.

The rest took place at public road junctions when PMD riders were crossing the road, and on roads when they were illegally riding parallel to vehicle traffic.

And on January 8th the press reported that every week, about three accidents involving users of PMDs occur on public roads and paths. Three a week!!!

This despite Land Transport Authority issuing more than 1,700 advisories to cyclists and PMD users for unsafe riding behavior last year. What’s the use of issuing advisories when LTA doesn’t have the balls to send enforcement officers to yank these killer machines off our public thoroughfares? LTA is a joke so far – just look at issues related to our MRT.

Blood is on the hands of those idiots sitting on the Active Mobility Advisory Panel who recommended that PMD riders share footpaths with pedestrians. I bet none of those elitist clowns on the Panel walk on footpaths.

As a nation, Singapore should re-think the use of such devices. And don’t get me started on electric chargers for these devices catching fire and gutting an entire house, something that has actually happened.

In the last National Day Rally – the one that he did not faint – our beloved Prime Minister painted a stark picture of the diabetes situation in Singapore. He encouraged everyone to go for regular medical check-ups, eat healthier, and to exercise more. (S Iswaran, are you reading this?)

The use of electronic bicycles, e-scooters and PMDs can remove the exercise component of our daily lives and take away what little chance there is of us being physical in a manner that can be beneficial to our health.

Some may think that it is necessary to make the first- and last-mile connections in our daily commute a convenient one, and some are conned into believing the government bullshit about the nation’s need to go car-lite,  hence the rapid growth in the use of electronic bicycles, e-scooters and PMDs, and lately of bike-sharing schemes.

But wheeling yourself to the train station or bus stop? Aren’t you just being frigging lazy? Moreover, the use of such devices run counter to the healthy nation we are trying to build. Instead it contributes to a more sedentary lifestyle and consequently may result in the exponential growth of illnesses related to such a lifestyle. What’s wrong with walking? What’s wrong with using your legs? Must you be “transported” everywhere you go? Did our government build all those “park connectors” for brain-damaged morons to ride these killer machines on? And in Singapore, everyone knows it’s more expensive to be sick than to just die. Yup, it’s cheaper to die – you do it once and you’re done with it. But if you get hit by one of these machines and become incapacitated for the rest of your miserable life, it’s an agony worse than instant death.

I see no reason to use any mobility device to move me from my house to the MRT station or bus stop and back, in fact, my walks to and from these places are very often the only exercise I get in the day, and despite excruciating pain from a bad back, I persist in walking and have learned to enjoy the walks and to benefit from what little exercise I get from them.

We all know already that electronic bicycles, e-scooters and PMDs often cause danger – and even deaths – to pedestrians, as statistics have clearly shown, and bicycles from bike-sharing scheme strewn all over the place are an eyesore. (Now that’s another story.) Is there really a need for us to promote the use of such devices just because they are trendy in some countries?

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Off the Grid

Posted in Places in the Heart | Comments Off on Off the Grid