Monday, March 28, 2011

How I got into bowling...

Surfed around the internet on pages related to bowling and found the following website: http://bowling.about.com/

Its interesting what resources the internet can churn up. When I started bowling 20 years ago the only place for information was my bowling coach. But its hard because there would be 10-12 of us in every training session and you really only get that little time with the coach during the 2-hour sessions. After the 2-hour sessions on the lanes there will be a 1-hour theory session once in a while. The coach will impart knowledge like the physics and rules of the game as well as other pre-game preparation routines.

Its really funny how I got to get into this training session. It all started with some free bowling coaching programme offered by the now defunct Katong Bowl (Silver Bowl). After the 4 free sessions the coach asked to speak with my parents. I thought I got into trouble for concentrating on my bowling! When I brought my uncle along the coach told him that he saw some potential in me and asked if I can join his team of youth bowlers on Saturday mornings. I was interested and my uncle was supportive. And soon he bought me my first pair of bowling shoes~

First Saturday and I was already feeling depressed. I was the only one using houseball whereas the other members were all using their own equipment. 2-ball bags, gloves and the lot. I guess the coach noticed my inferior complex and talked to my uncle after the session. Soon enough I got my own ball and glove~

Things went pretty well as I raised my average from 110 to 150 in less than a year. Things could have gotten better if not for secondary school... Bowling wasn't an extra-curricular activity offered in school and I had to give it up because the Saturday trainings would have clashed with my school activities. Come to think about it I should have tried harder in making things work... Or I could have and should have pursued bowling on a personal level.

But the past is the past. I did make lots of friends and created lots of memories during my time with the basketball team and computer club. Its never too late to pursue your passion again~

Monday, March 21, 2011

Fatherhood and work and poodles

I think it is tough to balance parenting and work roles without compromising somewhere. Trying to come out with an iPhone app is harder than I thought. Actually the SDK and object-orientated methods are simple enough to comprehend, and also the tonnes of help available on the internet. But between learning and applying what I learnt, I also have to look after my wife and baby. I'm unemployed at the moment so 3-hour sleep every night is not a problem for me but what about husbands who do not have paternity leave? Its getting into a bit of a pattern and I've finally found the best time to do my work which is sometime between 12mn to 5am. That's the time Baby J can sustain 3-4 hours of sleep without breaking out into a shout. He's not crying... no tears at all!


Anyway Baby J is doing fine after we gotten the overhead phototherapy lamp for another 3 days. During the 2nd set of 3 days, the missus was under the light with Baby J... I must say she's gotten a sexy tan as well~ He's feeding well all thanks to the milk production factory. It's really amazing this breastfeeding thing... Nothing came out when I was using it and now this fellow comes along and magically we have milk... And its as if he's been training for it the past few months...

Progress on the app is good. It's a password management app which is specially catered for Mrs WD because with work e-mails, ERP accounts, personal e-mail accounts and not to mention social website accounts, the number of passwords is simply unmanageable for the average Joe. I'm really enjoying the process of learning things and writing apps. Its therapeutic to say the least, at least for me. Spent hours and days deciphering a new language and then *poof* something usable appears~ It's amazing~ Will try to come up with some promotional codes once it is ready... provided anyone is interested~ ;)


Then there are the dogs. They've taken to Singapore weather stupendously~ (I think) They love the wide spaces, the greenery and the company of so many family members who dote on them. Compared to our initial apartment in HK, this place is 3 times as big and it gives Coffee ample space to run around without having to leave home~ I'm glad that they are happy~

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Jaundice vs Baby J and the new Xcode 4...

Back from the hospital. Things are not well... the jaundice level did not go down. On the bright side it did not go up as well. Another 20% higher Baby J would have to be admitted straight away. Another round of phototherapy session coming up. Mrs WD is going under the lamp with the baby... not sure how she's going to achieve that without hurting herself...

Meanwhile I'm using daylight hours to write apps. Not that I'm having dreams of making big money out of apps but programming is something which I like. The new environment in Xcode 4 seems really productive and it should help me push out an app within the next 2 weeks. Downloading the whole of 4Gb will take another 2 hours... I'm really contemplating the NGNBN service... 100m up/down. I wonder what international traffic bandwidth is like... Oh but hold on a second... my house is not slated for wiring until the end of this year... Bah~~~

Maybe I should do my apps development at night. Baby J's waking up every other hour and I do have to take over the shift from the Mrs so she get some shuteye. I've always loved working at night. The quiet surroundings, no phones, no traffic and peace. At least I do get all those when the baby is not crying. But if I work at night I probably need some sleep during the day... which I cannot afford. Washing clothes, bringing food for the wife, sending wife and baby to hospital (it's going to be a daily thing with the jaundice)...

Then there's the job hunt. Still not going to job agencies or whatsoever, just sending in my CVs like 2-3 a week. I'm really not showing too much urgency. On one hand I'll be happy if I get a job now because I applied for really really out-of-my-league kind of positions. On the other, I'll also feel terrible if I do get a job now because I really want to be there for the Mrs throughout her maternity leave and bring her on that holiday during the last few weeks of her leave. I guess I like leaving things to fate...

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Jaundice Jaundice please go away~


Baby J praying for a fast recovery from jaundice

On Thursday we returned to the hospital for a blood test on Baby J. The results were delivered to us thru the phone after 2 hours and revealed that Baby J had a serious case of jaundice.

We were given the option of putting him up in the hospital or having a rental phototherapy unit delivered to our place. We chose the latter, partly for convenience as he is being breastfed and more importantly we couldn't bear to part with him. Also we know that the nurses in the hospital will not bother about a crying baby in the unit. Nice plan we thought but it was tougher than we initially expected...


Looks like some hibernation capsule from Aliens...

The unit was delivered early Friday and we quickly got down to strapping Baby J into the apparatus. He cried. And cried. And cried.... He cried so hard so much for so long that it broke our hearts and took him out of it after the whole of 10 minutes.

As much as possible we tried to strap him in but he just didn't like it. After each session which lasted more than an hour (because the parents cannot endure the crying anymore) his back will be red from the treatment.

We will be back in the hospital labs for another round of testing. Hopefully Baby J will pass this time round so that there will be less suffering.... for us!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Days of Fatherhood...

First week of fatherhood. Can't say I was totally unprepared for this... I once had an offshore exercise with the army which reaped a total of 8 hours sleep. I had more than that amount of sleep this week. But army had hundreds or even thousands of men having a few objectives whereas parenthood is one small heavy-duty tear-packed objective with only the 2 of us. So you can understand the pressure...

A typical day starts something like this. After a sleepless night, we wake Baby J up for a round of feeding (more like him waking us up). My mum will give him a bath soon after before rubbing him all over with cream and lotion. I fix breakfast and the miss us herself gets fed before she goes for her jamu massage session. The rest of the day involves more feeding, baby and adults. My Mother-in-law cooks lunch and dinner.

It's at night that the struggle comes. On one night he was crying for feed after every hour. Mrs WD is the greatest as she stays up all night feeding little J. I am summoned as and when she cannot take it and I must try to carry him and try to soothe him to slumberland. Well... I can't really say if our days are shorter or longer now. Before Baby J we spent time doing very little except watching TV and keeping her comfortable. Nowadays the day zooms by, us tired by the end of the day and still accomplishes nothing much. Definitely more rewarding though.

As I look at this precious kid of mine, my heart goes out to those who lost their loved ones in Japan. I have a fair number of friend in Tokyo and Chiba and I hope they are fine. The Singapore civil defense force is on their way, some having just returned fromM last week. Once again be safe, make us proud and God speed~

Friday, March 11, 2011

Bowling alley review 3 - Orchid Bowl Tampines

The 3rd bowling alley review brought me to Tampines Safra. This was the last place for me to bowl before I left for HK as I used to stay nearby. The whole SAFRA compound changed quite dramatically with new soccer pitches and the upgrades to the bowling alley...

Location
Located on the 3rd floor of Tampines Safra, the easiest way to reach this place using public transport will probably be taking the MRT to Tampines station and take another bus. Carpark to lift to bowling alley takes less than 20 metres.

Price
S$4 for non-peak (before 6pm)
S$4.50 for peak (after 6pm)
The most expensive rates so far. But if they can charge it then obviously they have something going on for them. Bowling is such a competitive business in Singapore that if you don't have what it takes then most likely you are already out of business.

Scoring Systems
Touchscreen, after-games statistics and animation. The best of the lot so far although the only way I could find out actual frame scores from previous games was thru score edit. If there was a way to view it, I couldnt find it and thats the problem. Scoring systems should be more user-friendly like the UI on mobile phones.


Lanes
Well-oiled lanes. You can see the shine the moment you step into the place. Consistent reaction on all parts of the lane. The way I like it.


Easy to read lanes. Super pin reaction. After a warm-up of 150 I was scoring 190s to 210s at my first session there. It worked out really well for a conventional stroker like me. Right to centre. Doesn't matter if I hit 1-3 pocket or over to 1-2 pocket.

Atmosphere
Quite a few schools train there. Also caught a private instructor with 2 young girls. Very bright and clean place. Just a bit too much techno and pop music for my liking... Overall I would be happy to play league bowling there but...

Proshop
But the pro-shop didn't impress me. The array of balls wasn't that impressive but maybe I should give it a try and see what its like. End of the day its about the skills, experience and techniques of the driller.

Other Services
2 coin-operated pool table and a cafeteria in the bowling alley with a small arcade outside. Safra also offers a vast array of recreational facilities for the right price.

Conclusion
Score: 8/10
The highest score so far. The only minus point is the location. I will give it a 9 to 9.5 if the location is swapped with Kallang Bowl.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Baby J's arrival log~


Baby J's first "reaction" in this world was an eruption after the nurse cleaned the area near his balls...

Day 1 - The very first photo for Baby J

All wrapped up after a thorough cleaning by the nurses

In the ward - the look of Baby J after feeding

1st night ready to sleep

2nd day morning - A sight of Baby J sleeping is a good one

Always hungry for more...

Day 3 - Bye bye ward~ (Baby J is in the picture!)

On the way out of the hospital~

Home sweet home... snooze...

Bowling alley review 2 - NSRCC Tanah Merah

This is the 2nd of 3 bowling reviews I wanted to write before Baby J came to this world. So starved of sleep but I figured I'd better write it before I lose my senses~

Location
Situated within the National Service Resort and Country Club in Tanah Merah, this place is not really accessible by public transport. The best way will be hop on to a shuttle service or drive/take a cab there. Nearest MRT station is probably Tanah Merah. If driving there it's along the ECP pretty much just before Changi Airport.

Price
S$3 for non-peak (before 6pm)
S$4 for peak (after 6pm)

Scoring Systems
Pretty much one of the most outdated systems I've seen in recent years. No descriptions necessary. Think the 80s. Heard that they will have a renovation in Msy. Hopefully it will be changed as well.

Lanes
The lanes felt like Katong Bowl to me. I loved the wooden lanes although the oil wasn't adequately applied in my opinion. Consistent reaction with no particular part of the lane causing the ball to react more or less like the lanes in Kallang. Pin reaction = average. Things will change with the new lanes in May...

Another issue. The lanes can only be reached by stairs. The entrances, front desk and cafeteria are on elevated ground and one must carry his own equipment down a flight of stairs to reach the lanes. And then there's a flight upwards on the way back. If there was a lift I couldn't see it...

Atmosphere
So out of the way you'd expect some serious bowlers. Indeed there were quite a few training when I was there. But the presence of holiday bungalows in the resort means fun-seekers as well. My trip there was spoilt when 10+ teenagers were slotted next to my lane. With so many available lanes that was simply indifferent lane allocation.

Proshop
The same guy who operated the pro-shop in Katong Bowl is here. I was so surprised to see him there. Given he drilled my first ball for me nearly 20 years ago, I bought a Columbia BlueDot from him on the spot. He even invited me to join his team for the Wednesday night league. He's about as friendly as my regular driller in HK and he's been doing it for a long time. Prices comparable to other proshops.

Other Services
Given it's part of a country club, you can even play golf before your bowling game. But even within the same confines of the bowling alley you can find a decent arcade, pool tables and a cafeteria. They are but the other end of the staircase...

Conclusion
Score: 7/10
Remy Ong is a head coach there. Many other national players play there. No bowling alley will be without fun-seekers who do not know the bowling rules and etiquettes of the game. Inconvenient location may not be such a bad thing as it tends to keep non-serious players away. But the stairs oh the stairs... The sunken bowling alley does make for a very conducive environment for serious bowling but there must be an easier way to move my equipment in and out!

Eastern Pro Shop - Operated by the same guy from Katong Bowl who drilled my first ball for me nearly 20 years ago.

The only way out is up... those stairs!!!

Very retro feel~

Super retro scoreboard...

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

2 nights stay @ Parkway East Hospital

The plan was to have the birth induced on the 8th. I guess not everything goes according to plan. 6am+ on Sunday morning there were some minor pains which we thought might be false alarms. When it didn't go away at 9am I still didn't take it too serious although Mrs WD was already putting on her make-up... I changed and bought her breakfast according to my mum's instructions "she's going to give birth soon might as well eat now so she have more energy for the push" in Hakka dialect. When can she understand that I'm not a good speaker or listener of that language?!?!

When I came home with the breakfast I still wasn't convinced that we were having a baby that day. But the trio of elders sitting in the living room (mum, MIL, uncle) had already decided that we shall have no drama of having a baby at home or in the car so off we went~ took the whole of 7 minutes to reach our destination by 11am. Checked-in and admitted into the delivery ward, the nurses checked and revealed to us that it had already dilated to 4cm and that would have been a good time to have the Epidural injection. Mrs WD bravely rejected the suggestion and we waited for our gynae Dr Heng Tun Lan (very very very famous gynae in the area, nearly everyone we know talks about her for delivery).

Dr Heng came at around noon, had a look and decided that she had enough time for newspaper and a cup of coffee. She even invited me into the staff room for a drink, seeing how nervous I looked. I think it was kind of reassuring that she was so sure of her actions. It had a calming effect knowing your gynae is highly recommended by everyone, including your IVF specialist doctor (Dr Juliana from Mt E, who also has a very strong reputation as an IVF specialist).

By 12:25 Mrs WD was threatening to tear the bed frame off. Thank God it was made of strong materials and even more thank God it wasn't my arm! As I watched her In such pain I nearly wanted to cry. She asked for painkiller but Dr Heng decided that it was too late as the baby was going to arrive soon. One attempt at 1234, another at 1236, still no good. Dr Heng suggested some assistance and Mrs WD was open to any help she could get at this time. Out came the vacuum and out come Baby J @ 12:39pm. A gigantic baby with such a powerful cry and wailing arms and legs.

The happiest thing was to see the baby kicking and crying away. He's been reminding Mrs WD of his presence every night and now we know why she's been feeling the damage from inside. The boy got strong kicks! Relief. Such a relief he was healthy and strong. A long wait in the ward before we were led to our room. By that time our family members were already making their way to the hospital. Between meeting happy family members, dealing with the many doctors and nurses updating us on the baby's status and setting up shop to stay for the night, I didn't really have the time to take in the moment of welcoming my son.

Day in day out Baby J was crying for a meal and he's got strong lungs alright. In between his feeding time we manage to get ourselves fed. The hospital provide 3 main meals a day with at least 2 choices everyday. Mums can also choose post-natal meals. Between meals there are also afternoon tea and supper which usually consist of hot chocolate and a cake. I must have gained a kg or two after 2 nights there.

Checked out at around 1pm today with multiple goodies like bags, diapers, baby clothes and many other things from the hospital and their sponsor partners. We are not complaining but I wonder how families without a car can carry all that stuff home... Hmm....

Now he's sleeping between me and Mrs WD. A small little life who came into our world slightly less than 60 hours ago. I'm quite loss for words on how to express my feelings now. Just 1 week ago I was talking into a bulging tummy hoping to meet this guy soon. Now that he is here I'm really awed by his presence.

What a beautiful thing life is~

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Bowling alley review 1 - Kallang Bowl

This will be the 1st of a series of reviews on bowling alleys in Singapore. First and foremost it will be a reference point for me. I also hope that fellow bowlers will find the information useful.

Location
Situated on the 2nd floor of Kallang Leisure Park, this place is highly accessible via major expressways like ECP, KPE and PIE. Alternatively the Stadium station of the Circle Line is right beside the building.

Price
S$3 for non-peak (before 6pm)
S$4 for peak (after 6pm)

Scoring Systems
Modern scoring system with touchscreen panels and animation showing optimum line of entry for sparing and speed of last throw. I'm one who always think that scoring systems have alot to improve in terms of user interface design and friendliness. Good enough but can be better.

Lanes
The toughest lane I've played so far (against NSRCC TM and Orchid Tampines). Tough because different areas of the lane have very different reaction. And the pins have less action compared to the others. Yet to play an over-200 game here. Will definitely go back again to break 200... Some bowlers are such whores...

Atmosphere
Alot of kids. Kids with no manners and knowledge of bowling etiquette. Lighting is fine, sitting area is spacious but music a bit too loud for my liking.

Proshop
As far as I know the pro-shop has been around for some time. A pretty impressive stock of balls including Hello Kitty and soccer ball polyesters. If I remember correctly the price is a little bit on the high but my memory don't always serve me well.

Other Services
Not many other things to do in the bowling alley except eat and drink from the cafeteria if you are on waiting list but you can catch a movie, go to the arcade or go for ice-skating in the same building.

Conclusion
Score: 6/10
6 is a pretty low score considering that the place is quite new and the equipment modern. But the place just doesn't give me the impression that it is meant for serious bowling. I will go back because its near my place and its a challenge yes because bowlers are such whores. But to play league bowling there... I really got to seriously think about that...

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Encapsulating Placenta into Pills...

Below is a small paragraph which I copied from http://www.gentlebirth.org regarding preparation of Placenta for consumption

To cook, wash excess blood from the placenta. Place it in a steamer over water. Place with it fresh ginger slices, half a lemon and a hot pepper. Steam for 15 minutes, turn, and steam 15 more minutes until no juice comes out when pricked with a fork. (Steam over low heat, it has a tendency to boil over and that's a mess.) The membranes and cord may be cooked with the placenta. It is helpful to turn the placenta to "Schultze", i.e, wrapped inside the membrane when you cook it. It will shrink tremendously, and wrapped in the membranes makes it easy to deal with for the next step. After steaming, slice the placenta in 1/8" strips, similar to making jerky. Slice as thin as possible. Place the strips on a cookie sheet (over alum foil if you're squeamish) and place it in a oven on the lowest possible setting for several hours until completely brittle-dry. (Again like jerky) Using a food dehydrator is even better, but will take longer. Powder the strips in a coffee grinder, and encapsulate. I advise clients to take two capsules three times a day for two weeks postpartum. It can be kept indefinitely, but is best kept in a freezer long term (like any meat).

Hmm.... cannibalism?

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Baby J, Placenta and 6-bedroom HDB flats...

Just been to the doctor and it seems like Baby J may be out sooner than we expected. He's in position and is poised to make a swift exit within these few days. We were hoping for next Tuesday because that's a good day according to the almanac. Like all parents I want the best for my children and if choosing the month, day and hour of his birth will smoothen his life than I'm all for it, which means induction if he doesn't come out naturally by next Tuesday (after which he will also be quite big and taxing on the mum for delivery). My mum gave me a 1-hr quick lesson on calculating the best time for delivery and showed me why different people lead different lives. So far the calculation's been pretty accurate.

It goes something like this. The score is calculated in units of 两 and 钱. Something like measurement of weight in ounces. A particular year may be worth 一两二钱 while another may only be worth 八钱. Likewise the difference between months, days and even the time(segregated into 2hr units). Twins will probably share similar fate unless their gap passes the hour mark. Generally the rule is to have at least 四两重 otherwise the person's life will be tough and full of difficulties or poor health.

While we are hopeful of a good day and time, many rich families chooses to perform a C-section to ensure the time of delivery is within the golden hour. I guess kiasuism doesn't differentiate between the rich and poor... It strikes everyone~

And then there's the placenta. Though it sounds quite... Er... Revolting? It is quite common for new mums to consume pills made from their own placenta. Hospitals will return the placenta to them, they will dry it themselves and have a Chinese medicinal hall pound it into powder and put it into a capsule for easy consumption. Disgusted when I first heard about it, now I'm quite convinced that it will hasten the mums' recovery and also help lactation.

Here I am sitting in a lounge waiting for the car to be polished, vacuumed and sterilized. This is only 1 of dozen tasks which I've gone through over the past few weeks to prepare for Baby J's arrival. Sgd4000-6000 isn't a lot of help from the government but every little bit helps. My sis has been a great help with all the things like car seats and strollers she handed to me. Not to mention introducing the gynae, finding the best baby deals and even finding out this particular car servicing center with such a great waiting lounge.

Then there's my Uncle who stays with me. He's the way showing me the way around the house, repairing, building and solving issues over both apartments with his power tools. So far we have installed racks, shelves, curtains, dish-holder, re-arranged the walk-in shoe cabinet and many others. Im getting handy with power tools myself. He is also a constant source of knowledge and calm, always knowing when to come in to soften a threatening situation. Not to mention the fact that he loves the 2 dogs! And of course they love him as much~

Talking about a family, I think HDB should introduce 6-bedroom units on a build-to-order basis. I dont think theres any but feel free to right me if there is~ I need 6 bedrooms to house my mum, my uncle, my MIL, 3 kids and ourselves and nothing in HDB can cater to our needs. This is more efficient than staying near the parents as I will effectively have 1 living 1 kitchen and 1 Internet connection. I can take care of my elders, they can help look after the children and the children can have some advise as and when they need it. You know why so many people need car these days? Because they need to send their baby to the parents' house before making their way to work, then back to parents' house to fetch the baby before returning home. After the traveling and taking care of baby at night, time for some sex and second baby? You must be joking...

Furthermore, in such a family nucleus, it is impossible for a family to purchase more than 1 unit under HDB rules (as far as I know). Buying two secondhand units and break the wall? Possible but what are the odds of getting 2 units side-by-side? If anyone from HDB is reading this, please think about it. By having a unit 1.5x the size of a normal HDB 5-rm flat, you are effectively reducing at least 25% space usage to house the same number of occupants, reduce the need for cars and also create a more conducive environment for raising kids. There ARE people out there who would like to stay with and take care of their parents!

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