Sunday, 25 September 2011

In a Halloween mood

Halloween comes early for my little devil.

She loves the Jack o' lantern so much she wouldn't take a picture without it!

Friday, 16 September 2011

New Ill

I am well from my stomach flu, but down with a new cold that hit me on the second day of nursing a stomach flu.

I thought it was way better than having the stomach flu, so I waited out. I went to school yesterday feeling fine.

Alas, the almost ten-hour stay in school broke my body down one more time. I headed straight to the bedroom the moment I got home. I just had to lie in bed. And tried to sleep.

Took a Fedac pill and was groggy and semi-conscious most of the time. I think I slept, but heard a lot of voices - of different family members ie. my youngest sister, my mother, Coco.

When I woke up at close to midnight, my nose was stuffed, and I felt miserable.

I knew I would take an MC for the day.

I weighed myself on the scale in the morning:

43.9 kg

I was right. Within a few days, I lost that 2 or 3 kgs I had not been able to lose for the past 3 years.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

A Beautiful Life

I am down with stomach flu. Had the chills, fever, vomitting and diarrhoea.

Was miserable. The only good thing that can come out of this stomach flu would be losing the kilos I have not been able to, because I have had only one meal yesterday at 10.30am, which a friend suspected might have been the infected agent, and today, only a little miserably bland, white porridge with light soy sauce.

It feels like going through confinement again, except that I don't eat very much - weak, exhausted, sickly.

I played Zuma Blitz on Facebook for 5 hours straight, until I came across a beautiful beautiful blog. Hot tears rolled down my cheeks as I read through the woman's birth story of her Down Syndrome baby.

She's not just amazing. I had thought that one of her readers had exaggerated the impact of her blog when she said that the blogger had touched thousands of lives with what she wrote.

But she was right.

So many of us would have thought it injustified to have a DS baby born to us. Nobody stops to think how injustified the baby feels - to be born with DS. And it's not his or her fault.

Tears just flowed when I reached:

Love me. Love me. I'm not what you expected, but oh, please love me.

How quickly we forget that a baby needs love more than an average human being does, especially when we are faced with a baby with special needs.

The blogger, who is also a photographer, has a beautiful soul indeed.

Lord, make me beautiful.

Friday, 9 September 2011

Pay Review Dream

I dreamt that the ministerial pay review was completed.

But it was an unsatisfactory one. Many were cursing and swearing at the result.

The review committee decided that most ministers deserve their huge pay bracket. Only a few ministers' pay ought to be brought down by an insignificant amount.

It was especially shocking when the verdict was that the review ought to be on a ministry-by-ministry basis: some ministries are more important than others, and the 'others' obviously do not deserve the same kind of pay.

Of these ministries, Education was one of them - the least important. So the civil servants in that ministry had to take a pay-cut across the board. I could remember how distinct my sense of shock was!

Fortunately, it was a dream.

But back to the actual pay review, I thought it peculiar that it's taking such a long time. In fact, as the news goes, the review will only be completed by the end of this year. Are the people in this committee being paid extra for the review they have to conduct? Or are they like teachers who are involved in many committees but receiving the original pay? It was set up since May. It certainly takes a long time to review a group of people's pay.

More than half a year allocated to a job to be done, I wonder what the public would say if teachers were to take the same amount of time to complete a job.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Putting up my backdrops

It took me almost a year to decide to mount a permanent backdrop, at home.

I do have a backdrop stand that holds up backdrops, but I am thoroughly exhausted each time I attempt to change the backdrops. The backdrops are very heavy to carry, very long and cumbersome to slot them into the pole that hold them on the stand.

I had initially wanted to mount the backdrops on the wall, but realised that with the false ceiling that I had, the vertical orientation of the backdrop brackets would give a very low backdrop.

It took me a few days to finally decide to mount the backdrops on the ceiling.

After some asking and googling, I found a man who did ceiling, Richard from Pin Pin, and he said he could help me mount the backdrops despite the false ceiling for $100, over the phone.

He first came down to take a look. No transportation cost charged. He described the process involved to me and showed me the screw he would use to do the job. He even assured me that a single screw could hold an adult up there when I expressed concern that that backdrops were heavy. After that, he asked me to give him a call if I should need his service.

First he cut out a rectangular shape from the false ceiling

 Then he screwed in two heavy-duty screws
 After that, he covered the cut-out portion back
 He covered it up with a paste
 The screws are fixed to the real ceiling, beyond the false one
 Then he cut away the excess part of the screws, and fitted the bracket
 The corresponding screws on the real ceiling at the other side
 He was so nice he used two white cones to cover the exposed ugly screws
He put up the backdrops with the help of his assistant

For both times that he came down to my place, Richard was early. He spent more than 2 hours on the installation, paid attention to the details (using cones to cover up the screws), and did extra for what he did not need to (helped remove the screws on my wall and filling them up with putty).

My father felt that the job was a complicated one and $100 was cheap for a job like that.

Like I said, I am one fussy customer, but Richard is someone I would recommend if anyone need help with his ceiling.

Monday, 5 September 2011

A photography lesson that was not meant to be

My third sister drove me to Fort Canning for a photography lesson on Sunday morning.

Alas! When we were about to reach Fort Canning, we were met with a traffic diversion! Apparently, a marathon organised by the army was going on and the starting point had to be Fort Canning!

We took a huge detour to another entrance and it was closed till 11.30am - the time my class would end.

I alighted and climbed the steep steps of Hotel Fort Canning, lugging my camera, flash and tripod along. By the time I reached the meeting point where the 'main building' (the instructor could not put a name to the building! I later realised that his 'main building' referred to 'Fort Canning Centre', while I had gone to Hotel Fort Canning), I was 20 minutes late.

To my utter dismay, nobody was there. The instructor didn't even have the common sense to give us his handphone number, or get our phone list from the office! I could call no one. No one could call me.

I called the office and apparently no one was in the office. There was only a voice machine prompting me to leave a voice message which I certainly could not at that point of time - the only thing I would be able to manage were vulgarities I assure you!

I'm so upset. It was a perfect weather for the class. I was so excited over the class. I skipped church and the time to spend with my kids for the class. I carried all the annoyingly heavy equipment all the way there.

But the instructor didn't even bother to check if Fort Canning was used for any event. He didn't even have the numbers of the participants and he didn't even have the common sense to give us his number when he knew that we would not station at the meeting point! It has been a long time I last felt so terribly upset. It was something that should not have happened just by a simple gesture of giving us his phone number, but it did because someone did not have common sense!

No doubt the instructor was helpful - I had asked him about stuff other than the lesson topics and he was nice enough to give me extra information and suggestions, but I am sometimes frustrated with the half-baked English the lessons are conducted in and the bomb was triggered by this outing that was not properly troubleshot.

Already, I had felt that I had not learnt much from this course despite paying the same amount of fees as the photoshop class which I had reaped much from, and now this had to happen. It takes a further knock on my confidence with Photographic Society of Singapore which has received at least one good review from a clubsnapper. The review had that PSS courses are better than the courses or workshops offered on Clubsnap. My experience is definitely the opposite!

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Follow-up: Ericsson Telecommunications Sam Media Services

As an update to the Ericsson Telecommunications Services scam, I recently received a VERY long email from IDA, after I emailed them about ETS on 4 July.

Taking almost 2 months to reply an email doesn't seem very efficient to me. I wasn't expecting a fantastic reply. And I was not too far from my guess. Bascially, it explains how Coco activated the $6-per-sms 'value-added service' (which I don't even care) and that ETS had cancelled my unbilled charges of $30 (which I already know) as well as educating me on how I could have prevented the same incident from happening again (which I had considered before giving her an iPhone, duh).

The reply:

Dear Ms X

We refer to your email feedback. We apologise for the late reply as we needed time to look into your case.

We have checked with the service provider in question. This service is actually provided by Sam Media Pte Ltd (“Sam Media”). The service mentioned in your email is a premium rate service (“PRS”). PRSes are value-added services provided over the public telecommunications network, and can include quizzes, ringtones and games. While IDA does not prohibit operators from offering PRSes to the public, we do require PRS providers, like Sam Media, to comply with a PRS Code in order to ensure that consumers’ interests are protected. The PRS Code imposes certain obligations on PRS providers such as the requirement for PRS providers not to charge consumers for unsolicited services, to provide clear and complete information to consumers, and to allow consumers to unsubscribe from their PRSes. IDA views these requirements very seriously and should we find any PRS provider in breach of the PRS Code, IDA will not hesitate to intervene accordingly. If you would like more information on our PRS Code, you may wish to refer to the following link on the IDA website:

In your case, the PRS provided by Sam Media was for a mobile java game download service. Sam Media informed IDA that in order to subscribe for the service, an end-user would have to enter his mobile number on the web advertisement ( and agree to the terms and conditions “Yes, I am at least 18 years old and agree to the T&C. I understand I will receive 2sms/wk at $6 each till quit Sam Media would then send an SMS to the end user with instructions for the end-user to send an SMS with the keyword “AA1” to Sam Media’s short code number 77877 to confirm his subscription of the service. Only upon receiving the end-user’s SMS with the keyword “AA1”, would Sam Media then send a confirmation SMS to indicate the end-users’ weekly subscription of the service, followed by a WAP push link to the end-user. The service is chargeable at $6 per SMS sent by Sam Media; 2 SMS will be sent per week. The service is a subscription service and will be provided on an ongoing basis until the subscriber un-subscribes from the service.

We have reviewed Sam Media’s web advertisement and we found that Sam Media had indicated clearly the charges, terms and conditions and the frequency of receiving the SMSes. Sam Media had also provided a local customer service hotline (68808590) for customers to call if they need more information on the service. We have also reviewed Sam Media’s SMS logs and we note that an SMS with the relevant “AA1” keyword was sent by mobile number 65XXXXXXXX (Coco's number) to Sam Media’s short code on 27 May 2011. The PRS has since been cancelled and mobile number 65XXXXXXXX (Coco's number) blocked from accessing Sam Media’s services in future. Regarding the charges, Sam Media has reviewed your case and is agreeable to providing a full waiver for the $30 incurred. The refund would be reflected in your mobile service bill.

Regarding your query below, IDA has imposed requirements on PRS providers to ensure that they put in measures to require end users to take multiple steps to subscribe for a service, to avoid accidental subscriptions. For cases where children are the users of mobile phones, we would normally advise parents to educate their children on the need to understand the prices, terms and conditions of the mobile service before sending in any request or confirmation for service purchase. We have also advised parents to consider using pre-paid mobile service for their children instead, in order to afford great control over their children’s usage of mobile phone services.

To further protect consumers, we have also recently introduced new consumer protection measures in the area of PRS, where we have required mobile operators to introduce a PRS barring service that users can opt-in to, so that they can neither subscribe nor receive any chargeable PRS, and more importantly not be billed for them moving forward. We expect the mobile operators to offer this service by the first quarter of 2012. We have also stepped up the penalty framework to target errant PRS providers, whereby they will face heavier financial penalties with repeat offenders having their licenses suspended or cancelled. We are also in the midst of reviewing the PRS Code following feedback from consumers. Taken together, we hope that these measures can further protect consumers.

We hope the above clarifies. Thank you for your feedback.

Best Regards
Kimmi Goh (Ms)
Corporate Helpdesk
Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA)
Tel: 6211 0888
F: 6211 2222

As for M1, I had scrutinised my phone bills for June through August to check if they had honoured their promises of waiving the charges that were billed.

I noticed that there was a waiver of $21 and $24 for the months of June and July respectively, but I was expecting another $21 waiver for the month of June.

Being a number- and techno-phobic, I decided to cut my pain short and call up M1 again to ask if they had waived the charges. The reply was that the last customer service agent had 'overlooked' the waiver and they would do it in the next bill.

So, the waiver IS possible. If I had been a lamb quietly led to the slaughter, I would have ended up paying $90 ($21+$21+$24+$30) for a so-called value-added service!

Moral of the story? The world is a kinder place if you are aggressive enough (reads: difficult).

Not too tough a decision

I have decided to stop Coco's piano lessons, after she took her Grade 3 practical exam a couple of weeks ago.

Reason? I often screamed at her over piano practices. I think instead of character-building, the learning of piano has become somewhat character-tearing-down. During those screaming sessions, I said things I should not be saying. I had wanted piano-learning to inculcate some form of discipline in her. I thought that by learning something that she liked, she would be motivated to want to practise to perfect piano pieces. But thus far, it had not been so. She was reluctant to go to the piano. She was interested in playing the piano - even her piano tutor said so, but she did not like to practise it, just like ballet.

It had proven to be highly stressful for me, and her. I was just short of dragging her physically to the piano each time I 'needed' her to practise it. The stress worsened during her CA2 period when her piano exam coincided with her school tests.

On top of all these, next year is a crucial year for her, so I made the decision to stop her piano lessons. If she does well for her PSLE, and would like to pick up piano again, she could.

The piano - how? I paid $8.6k for it after all.

Baby seems to be musically inclined. She can always be the next successor to her sister. : )

Saturday, 3 September 2011

Loads of things to do and enjoying them!

The one-week holiday has begun.

I can't believe that we are really given a 'one-week holiday'. I mean, we don't have to go back to school for even a day! Isn't that just awesome?

There are lots of things weighing on my mind though. Things to get done this week:

1) Science exam papers
2) Science lesson plan and resources
3) Breastpump and steriliser for my sister (by today)
4) Take Coco to her piano lesson (today)
5) Wash baby niece's cot sheet and bumper and get the cot ready for dismantling (today)
6) Dismantle the musical mobile to bring over to my sister's place (today)
7) Tomorrow to attend a photography lesson
8) Monday afternoon to put up backdrop brackets on ceiling
9) Monday night to attend the next photography lesson
10) Friday to attend photoshop lesson
11) Make payment for handphone bills and schoolbus fees
12) Check out lighting equipment at artworkfoto

Wow, so many things to do and I have yet to list anything for my own kids.

On a positive note, I went for the second photoshop class last night and I think it wonderful to be able to learn so many things in photoshop. I feel like I'm enlightened each time the lesson ends.

The techwhiz ex-colleague had mentioned to me that I should pick up Lightroom instead as it is easier and the functions are superior to Photoshop.

The only reason I am learning Photoshop is because I have the software and not Lightroom.

The Photoshop instructor feels that Photoshop is better as it allows for creative editing, and it can do what Lightroom cannot while retaining Lightroom functions.

I am glad the instructor is highly proficient in English. His clear instructions and precise language allows me to follow the steps quite smoothly. I said 'quite' because there are a few things I missed out because I was too busy taking down notes. Something that could have been done better is they should provide a step-by-step note so that I don't have to copy down what he says at a furious rate while fiddling with the tools.

Meanwhile, I am enjoying every moment of the class. I think most, if not all, students at the class would feel the same way: we don't feel time passing at all.

Each time, the instructor has to say,"We will stop here for tonight." to indicate that it is time for us to go home.

Here's trying to brighten up a picture that's underexposed at the front:

Friday, 2 September 2011

Babies Oh Babies!

When I came home last night at 10.30pm, after visiting my sister and her baby at the hospital, I showed Baby the picture of my sister's baby.

Baby was visibly intrigued by the tiny baby.

Being a cheena baby, she said,"这个是小小的baby。小小的baby是我的(William and I laughed)。小小的baby要睡在我的床上。我会抱小小的baby。" (This is a small small baby. Small small baby is mine. Small small baby will sleep on my bed. I will carry small small baby.)

I love it when babies love babies. It's so cute!

Thursday, 1 September 2011

My First Maternity Shoot & My Sister's Eventful Pregnancy

I did my first maternity photo-shoot with my fifth sister two days ago.

Right now, she is in labour at the hospital, in anticipation of her fourth baby - a girl, finally.

She had breezed through almost all three previous pregnancies. They were easy pregnancies except for the third one - she had chicken pox in the third trimester. Fortunately, she and the baby turned out fine.

(Even as I am typing this post, Coco showed me an sms from my sister's husband: Baby is out.)

But she had suffered quite a bit this time round.

She developed bad itches all over, especially her legs. They were badly scratched. She had trouble sleeping at night because of the itch.

Then when she was approaching her 36th week, she had facial palsy overnight!

Facial palsy is a paralysis of face, usually affecting half of it. The facial nerves are beyond the affected person's control, such that he is not able to move the affected side of the face. So when she smiled, only one side of the mouth was upturned while the other side remained unmoved. She even had problems drinking and eating as one side of the mouth was not able to move. She could not close the affected eye entirely when she slept either. Her gynae 'assured' her that he got one or two such patients every year and they recovered after they delivered their babies.

We are hoping that the same will happen to her.