A Bridge Too Far

Phew, I should have taken a taxi!

A bat flew into my apartment the other day. It was weak, seemed very exhausted and soon died.

I guess it came from the nearby forested area, an area being cleared for housing development.

Such deforestation has driven animals out of their natural habitats.

For years, there have been reports of animals – such as the critically endangered Sunda pangolin – wondering into places like Mandai Lake Road and getting run over by cars.

Increased instances of roadkill near our nature reserves have been noted by observant nature watchers. An average of two Sunda pangolins (listed both by the IUCN and in the Singapore Red Data Book as Critically Endangered) were found dead annually on nearby roads between 1994-2014. From 1990 onwards, several species also disappeared from our nature reserves altogether, including the large forest gecko and cream-colored giant squirrel. These animals have not been sighted in Singapore since.

Recently another pangolin, as well as a sambar deer and a leopard cat were killed as a result of Singapore Zoo’s development in the Mandai area.

But in an article published in The Straits Times March 29th, the senior vice president of Mandai Park Development, Philip Yim insisted there had not been an “observable increase in roadkill” since the Mandai Project construction began.

However brilliant minds in the government have been at work for several years now to try to avoid more animals dying on our roads. Good to hear that but are their plans workable?

Animals living in the forests of Mandai will be able to use an overhead bridge of their own by the end of 2019, they declared.

The bridge, the construction of which started in 2013, is among efforts by Mandai Park Holdings – which is developing a nature precinct of five wildlife parks in the area – to minimize the impact on wildlife as the hub is being built. (Confused by all the Mandai names? Me too!)

The hub is expected to be ready by 2023. It will contain a new rainforest park and the bird park, which will be relocated from Jurong, and will be built on two plots in the area.

The elevated wildlife crossing, which will not be open to members of the public, will be 44m wide and at 62m long will span the length of Mandai Lake Road. In theory, it will provide a safe passage for animals crossing between parts of the Central Catchment Nature Reserve, which straddles both sides of the road.

It is estimated to cost S$16million.

Will it work?

Human and animals crossing together?

For decades now, the government has been brow-beating citizens into silent obedience.

Does it think it can also force animals to use an overhead bridge?

With brilliant minds in charge, I guess one never knows.

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Apple Wood by Moretti – The Second One ever Made

Here’s a special tapered stem Liverpool made of apple wood; so far this is the second apple wood pipe that Marco has made:

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Singaporeans Abroad

Taiwan, March 23rd. Our driver dropped us at Jiufen, a historical enclave about 40km away from Taipei, and told us to phone when we are done and he will come pick us up and drive us back to Taipei. The moment we exited the car I realized I have left my phone in it. But the driver has already driven off and so I chased after him but there was no way I could catch up. I walked up and down the crowded alleys of Jiufen looking for a public phone, an internet cafe or even somewhere to buy a cheap mobile phone. My plan was to phone my hotel and get the hotel to dial my phone, hoping the driver will answer. (I was not able to recall the driver’s phone number from memory.)

Among the throngs of tourists, I heard Singaporean accents and I spotted some Singaporeans a few moments later. Ah, fellow countrymen to the rescue at last, I thought. A fat, young man wearing a black t-shirt that said “REPUBLIC POLYTECHNIC” was messaging using his mobile phone. I approached him, identified myself and explained my dilemma and asked to use his phone to call my hotel. He looked at me, lied through his teeth and said “I have no signal” and walked away. Wasn’t that retard just using his phone to message someone a moment ago? No signal?

Meanwhile my 87-year-old dad – who did not have a phone on him – was hobbling with knee pain from walking along the sloping alleyways; and my own back was killing me too. (What else is new?) I eventually staggered my way to a post office, where an officer, upon learning of my plight, quickly called our hotel using his phone. I was able to speak to the hotel concierge and instructed him to dial my number.

It worked. The driver did pick up my phone, which was left in his car, received his instructions from the concierge and drove back to pick us up.

Everything happened within an hour but it was a tense hour of anxiety.

That was my adventure for that day. It was my mistake to leave my phone behind and not to carry a piece of paper with phone numbers on it but here’s another lesson learned: when you are in deep shit, you can always reply on a Singaporean to get you out of trouble. You won’t be disappointed. Someone please punch this fat motherfucking cum-gurgling useless wasted rectum parasite in the mouth already.

Blessed is he who expects nothing, for he shall never be disappointed. – Alexander Pope

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Silly Fun?

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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Jerome Rodale

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?

 

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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!

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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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