Another Loser?


Ah Gong failed at various marketing jobs despite being suitably qualified academically.

So at a late age, he decided to be a male nurse.

“I’ll be paid while undergoing training and once I pass out, I’m guaranteed a job for at least 20 more years,” he told me.

Then like Ah Gu (see my last post) he too disappeared on me.

My text messages and emails to him were not responded to.

I’m one person who places a lot of value on friendships so despite not getting a response I continued to reach out to Ah Gong again and again.

Some time last year – four years later – he replied, saying he was upset with me, hence his silence.

He went on to elaborate that he was upset because four years ago when he told me he wanted to go into nursing, I had asked if he would be happy wiping people’s backsides for a living. And that pissed him off.

I meant it as a joke – yes, a stupid and horribly bad one – but imagine carrying that resentment in your heart for four long years?

Like Ah Gu, Ah Gong was allowing this to fester in his heart while I was completely oblivious of his unhappiness with me.

In the four years that passed I had accomplished much but imagine the hell that Ah Gong was going through – each time he emptied a bedpan, or change an adult diaper, or indeed wipe some patient’s backside, he would seethe with resentment over what I had said.

People need to chill.

Anyway, true to form, after getting back in touch with me, Ah Gong lost no time in asking me for help (as he used to before). He was shameless in asking for assistance with various assignments and essays he was struggling with – part of his training curriculum – one of which won him some monetary prize.

And true to form, come Christmas and New Year, there wasn’t a pip squeak from him.

But I’ll know he’ll be back, the next time he needs help again.

I have such great friends, don’t I?

I believe God has placed certain people in my life for a purpose.


Praise the Lord!

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The Loser

SucksAh Gu and I got along like a house on fire.

He smoked my Havana cigars and went on trips paid for by me.

I bought him meals at some real fancy places.

Then Ah Gu turned cold and acted funny.

Started avoiding me.

Couldn’t look me in the eye when we met.

One day he told me he won’t be sending me a gift hamper anymore. (He used to send one every year, around Christmas.)

I told him, not a problem. I’ve always insisted that there is no need for him to send hampers. “Our friendship is what counts,” I assured him.

Then he completely disappeared. My attempts at contacting him met with zero response. He hung up when I phoned him.

Some years later, friends whom Ah Gu continued to keep in touch with told me he had cancer.

I took the opportunity to email him, offering any assistance he may require and also remarked that I had noticed his silence and his distancing himself from me. I also mentioned that if this was due to something I did or said that had offended him, to let me know what it was so that I could apologize.

He replied that the last few years had been bad for him and long story short, he told me he has no interest now in spending time on things that don’t really matter. In other words “Fuck off!”

Till today I don’t know what has upset him. I admit I’m not Mr Perfect and that the utterances of my mouth and many of my actions have probably caused far too many people to be unhappy with me. (So what else is new?)

Obviously Ah Gu was resentful about something that I said or did, while I was completely oblivious about it.

Resentment is like drinking poison and hoping the other person will die.

That, to me, describes Ah Gu’s action perfectly.

It continues to eat him up while I continue to lead a happy, carefree life.

The learning point here is that one shouldn’t be hypersensitive and perceive a slight or an offense when there is none, otherwise it will kill you, that is, before cancer does; and if indeed one has been upset by the words or actions of someone, please be a man and have enough balls to confront the guilty party.

Many big-talkers either don’t have the courage to speak the truth in your face, (and worse, they attack you while cloaking their real identities or while hiding behind some façade) or they just beat a hasty retreat and make themselves scarce. (And to top it all, they are stupid enough to think that they won’t be found out.)

But I bet these chickens will not hesitate to bang down your door at 3am in the morning if they should ever need help.

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Vigilance is a Virtue

LaptopHoboI see it all the time, a laptop hobo saunters into a Starbucks or Coffee Bean, picks a table, places his or her laptop – and sometimes his or her handbag or backpack as well – on it, then strolls slowly to the counter to buy his or her coffee and food.

Do this in some countries and everything will be gone in 60 seconds or less, either stolen or confiscated by security. (Who knows if there’s a bomb in there somewhere, right?)

Singapore’s safety has caused many people to be complacent.

True, no one is likely to steal your stuff but it is wise to be cautious. Most people here – be they “natives” or foreigners – are pretty honest.

Talking about honesty, I accidentally left my cell phone (a rather new Samsung Galaxy Note 4) in one of the toilets at Centrepoint on April 11th and when I rushed to the reception – I had wanted to report my loss and to ask if anyone (janitor, perhaps) has found a lost phone – a gentleman was also walking to the reception to hand over my phone, which he has found.

Only in Singapore!

With such honest people around it can make us lower our guard. We assume that everything is hunky dory.

Call me paranoid but I used to work for an organization that insisted that all laptops be chained to a stationary furniture or fixture. Security would patrol the premises and confiscate all unchained laptops and HR would issue you a violation notice that goes into your personal file. Plus your manager will be notified as well.

Losing a laptop – or a cellular phone for that matter – is not only inconvenient but the loss of data and information inside is a costly affair and cannot be adequately measured in monetary terms.

But how many people really bother?

Signs like this one at Starbucks JEM Mall are largely ignored:


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How I Became a Loser

FatAssTo be honest, I didn’t really make any special effort. Or at least what I did didn’t feel like it was any special effort because I didn’t really “suffer.”

What I did was to cut out all sugar from my drinks and food.

Next, I reduced my carb intake.

And when I eat, I eat just about right to keep me satiated. I didn’t eat the way I did before which was to eat until I was so full I could hardly breathe.

Also, each time I sit down for a meal, I make it a point NOT to finish everything on the plate; that is to say, I always try to leave something behind. So I don’t eat until I’m full, I just eat what I believe is enough.

Since young, we’ve been brainwashed into thinking that we must finish everything that is served. That may be good manners, and a good habit not to waste food, but who says we have to finish everything?

Even when I’m eating my favorite $5 bak chor mee, which isn’t a lot, I would try to leave 20% behind.

I don’t always succeed, to be perfectly honest. But if I fail once, I try to make a success out of it at the next meal. No point beating myself up.

So you see, a little day by day, eventually adds up to weight loss.

And oh yes, I try to cut down on supper. Sitting in front of the TV with a bag of chips was something I enjoyed and it took a bit of discipline to minimize that.

At my fattest, the waist of my pants was at least 49 inches, now it’s 47. Still a long way to go but to me, it’s a bit of an achievement already.

And I’m still working on it.

What about exercise?

Truth be told, I hate exercise of any form. I know it’s not right and one day I’ll probably drop dead from my sedentary lifestyle but apart from those exercises taught by my physiotherapist designed to strengthen my back muscles (I have multilevel degenerative disc disease at L2-3 and L4-5) I am not doing anything extra.

And I still imbibe my favorite tipple of single malt every so often.

And indulge in a (sweet) hazelnut latte once a week.

So you see, without much effort I’ve been able to lose some weight already, so can you imagine if you really put in some disciplined, solid efforts?

You’ll be much more successful than I am!

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Down One Size

I’m down one size – from XXL to XL.



Since I’m now “on six months of vacation twice a year” I’m back to the “dot-com” look – navy blue polo and khaki pants.

Darn! It’s becoming my “personal style signifier.”

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BBC Letting Him Go

Honestly, he has already let himself go for the longest time:


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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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