Monday, September 3, 2012

The State of Bowling

As much as I would like to see the sport bloom and grow, it is simply not happening. When was the last time you stepped into a bowling alley? And when was the last time you stepped into one out of your own accord (and not some company event etc)?

Week in week out we see golf ranges filled to the max with regulars, new learners as well as seniors working hard on their game. We don't see that many in the bowling alleys. It is not a coincidence that golf is such a popular sport. We cannot ignore the fact that golf is an essntial tool in business whereas bowling will probably never be one where people can talk about multi-million dollar deals.

Then there's the travelling factor. I only know a few people who will make their way to Malaysia or Thailand for bowling tournaments. Golfers do travel quite a bit for their game. Take in some greenery as well as enjoy the climate in another country, it all adds to the game experience. Honestly one bowling alley don't look that different from another...

Then there's the perceived inequality. The other guy got a better ball. He's bowling on an easier lane. The oiling suits him better etc etc etc. I guess we have too many players with sour grapes in bowling. Houseshot or sports pattern. $300 balls or 2nd-hand balls. If a little kid can make a strike or spare with a 12lb plastic ball then there's no reason why an adult cannot do the same. Its down to accuracy and consistency. In golf it is much more straightforward and people acknowledges the better golfer more readily no matter which tee they starts from (at least that is what I observed).

As bowling alleys start to close down one by one, we are stuck with a big question. Do we make the lanes tougher or easier? Tougher and varied lane conditions will keep the hardcores coming back for much challenges, but will scare the average/poor players out of the game. "Easy" house patterns will keep the players happy as they will get more strikes and feel good about themselves but will be pretty boring after a while.

But things are not all that gloomy. I do see high takeup rate of lanes from schools these days. And we have a few bowling academies grooming future talents. Most may not make it big to change the landscape but we are assured of a generation of bowlers. At least that will keep the lanes in business.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Valkyria Chronicles - PS3

Dogs sleeping while I play Valkyria Chronicles
Just bought Valkyria Chronicles for the PS3 last night. Its a very old game with a low profile but even with the low sales volume the review has always been great. Sleeper hit of the PS3 world. 

Given its an old game it cost me just S$40 (new games goes for $65-75) and its a fantastic game which all PS3 gamers should play at least once. Admire it for the gameplay, the storyline or the animation, there's bound to be something in this game that you will love. So far I love every aspect of the game~~

I just finished the 3rd stage and I am thoroughly enjoying how the game paces itself, builds up the story and the graphical aspects of the game. It reminds me of Ogre Battle Tactics but obviously with much better graphics and real world movement instead of those restricted by square or hexagonal boxes. 

Come to think about it, whenever I thought of buying this game many years ago, it was either sold out or there's another game which I wanted to buy and give it a miss. I'm so glad I finally remember the game and got it.

With the missus away I'm confining myself in my room again, with forays outside to play with my kid or sometimes bringing him into the room. This is also a time for my dogs to be let out of their pen and spend a bit of time on the bed with me. There's nothing they love more than just be given the opportunity to be on our bed and just lie down~

I guess I should be able to finish this game within this week~~

Monday, March 19, 2012

Learning Bowling in Singapore

I took the afternoon off today and went for some bowling with my ex-secondary school classmate/ basketball teammate/ bowling league teammate at Tampines Safra Orchid Bowl. It was quite a tough session as I fell twice due to the fact that the lanes we had for the first few games had a bit of sticky substance on the approach. I think my kneecap may have taken some damage. 

After my second fall we requested to shift to another lane where I was much more at ease with the lanes and managed to get better scores. In the end we played 10 games each and I must admit my body is starting to feel the strain now, not to mention the 2 falls I had... imagine falling with a bowling ball in your hands... probably damaged my ego more than my body but that was just bad luck~~

Bowling lesson conducted by Agape Academy @ Tampines Safra
Midway through our session I saw some kids coming in for bowling lessons. It was conducted by Agape Bowling Academy. Kids these days are so fortunate! Quite a number of them had the entire bowling gear with balls/shoes/etc. And the coaches were very professional. I can't help but admit feeling a bit jealous of the opportunities the young kids have these days. I been through the coaching course myself so I'm pretty sure they are in good hands.

If you wish to learn bowling, the best way will be to look for a coach or an academy. I know of 2 academies in Singapore. Apart from Agape Bowling Academy there is also Strike Academy. Alternatively you can walk into the pro-shop at the bowling alley and they will recommend someone or they themselves will be able to coach you. I guess bowling coaches just love to be in and around pro-shops... or people who love to hang out in pro-shops just happen to take up bowling coaching courses~~ In any case I'm one of them~ (^-^)v

Just today someone called me up to take up a bowling stint for 4 Tuesdays. Unfortunately the timing clashes with my day job... Sighz... I really really wanted to take up the offer but its on a Tuesday. Any day other than Tuesday would have been great....

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Goodbye East Coast MacDonald's!

After 30 years the MacDonald's restaurant at Marine Cove will take their last order at 12 midnight today. This is because the land lease for Marine Cove has come to an end and the government will redevelop the area for more family activities... I hope... 

Anyway I brought my wife and youngest son there to take some photos before it all comes to an end...

Roadside stalls selling toys and iPhone covers
The Mac @ East Coast
30 years later... its a further drive to East Coast Seafood Centre for seaside Mac experience
Unusually crowded Sunday night~~
Korean UFO BBQ Buffet will move to Geylang Lor 15
Baby J will never have a chance to take these rides~~
Never had a chance to drink at the beach bar
Scruffy Murphy's - had many a good breakfast there
Very soon Marine Cove will be there no more~~
Last year, when I was in the midst of my job search, I spent many afternoons in Marine Cove either playing bowling or having some quiet time in MacDonald's or the HK Cha Chaan Tng. And it was our home ground for bowling since returning from HK. Not to mention the memories all the way from my primary school days, secondary school days, poly days and adult life. It has been an important part of my life, but like all things in life, will come to an end soon...

Bowling at Tampines Safra Orchid

A working Sunday... The 4th in a row... This morning I woke up slightly earlier to get some Rochor beancurd and youtiao for my staffs who will be going back to work with me. As planned work finished on schedule today (not without some hiccups) from 0900-1300.

Reached home at 1+pm to send my MIL to Sai Baba Centre along Moulmein Road and also get some Lim Chee Guan BBQ pork from Chinatown.

Reached home near to 3pm and I took a short 15-20min nap while the F1 was on TV and the rain provided the lullaby. When my wife woke me up it was nearly 3:30pm, and was nearly 4pm by the time we reached the lanes.

The lanes were fully occupied with a birthday party occupying 6 of the 24 lanes. Quite a few lanes were occupied by people we knew from Marine Bowl. Its really similar to those days in Mei Foo HK when we knew many people from the bowling alley. Likewise over here we are starting to make more friends either through chitchats at Sam's Pro Shop or through games on Thursday league.

By the time we gotten our lanes it was 5pm. Played 4 games before we had to fetch our dogs from their bath at the groomers.

Played 4 games finishing with an average score of 195.00 pinfalls (780 pinfall total):

Gm 1 - 165
Gm 2 - 237
Gm 3 - 177
Gm 4 - 201

All in all a pretty good Sunday! Any day with bowling is considered a good day to me! Hahaha~

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Singapore Food Trail

N had a booth in a flea market at the F1 Pit Building near the Flyer today so we decided to go for dinner at the Singapore Food Trail before visiting the flea market. After work I drove home to pick everyone up and took Nicoll Highway down. 

Walking towards the Flyer from its carpark
Can see the outside of the Singapore Food Trail from the bridge linking the carpark to the main building
The Food Trail, located on the 1st floor of the Flyer, has been designed to look like the street hawkers of early Singapore. The stalls looked like the pushcarts from early Singapore as well as lights that looked like street lamps. 

Stalls that looked like they time-travelled from the 70s
Can even see double yellow lines!
There were many local favourites like Fried Kway Teow, Rojak, Satay and Chicken Rice etc. In terms of quality I thought they were probably just average or slightly above average but not fantastic. And all of them probably cost 50-100% more than other places. But then again the Flyer is a tourist destination after all so the price was kind of expected. I would probably get even more variety and better food at better prices @ Old Airport Food Centre. Good to bring foreign friends. Stupid to bring family there again. Once is enough.

Clockwise from bottom : Ngoh Hiang, Popiah, Chicken Rice, Fried Oysters, Rojak, Satay Bee Hoon
After dinner we made the short walk over to the F1 Pit Building behind the Flyer. The Flea Market was held in paddock 2 - 2nd floor of the Pit Building. I heard the rent of a booth/space was close to S$60/day.

The Flea Market @ F1 Pit Building
I saw alot of teenagers manning the stalls selling clothes probably donated by their own mothers or aunts. Apart from clothes and ladies accessories all I could find was a stall selling cupcakes. Seriously nothing like the flea markets I expected. 

All ladies'/girls' stuff... 
Went home soon after and managed to catch the LionsXII match against Sarawak. Am I impressed? I'm a fan of them! Compared to the National Team they showed more grit and determination to win the match in such a hostile environment. I'm also a super fan of Shahril Ishak now. Didn't think much of him in the past and always thought he was overrated and too slow. Thank you for proving me wrong!

Friday, March 16, 2012

The NEW iPad!

A colleague of mine got her hands on the new iPad just after lunch today. First impressions? A tad heavy, nice curves and a poor position for the rear camera~
My hands on the new iPad!!!
The rear of the iPad
I got my 1st-generation Wifi iPad several years ago when I visited San Francisco on launch day. The biggest problem with the iPad is the inability to display Adobe Flash pages. That threw me off the surfing experience a couple of times. So unless they change their policy, I will give this NEW iPad the miss~

The new iPad (left) vs the original iPad (right)

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Singapore Zoo Excursion

Given I have been working for 3 Sundays, and going to work this entire weekend, I thought I should take a day off and bring the family to the Singapore Zoological Gardens. Having heard this, my nephew A decided he wanted to tag along as well! So the plan was for us to bring the big son, small son and their cousin A to the zoo this morning. But alas the sky opened and its been raining since morning. 

In the end we decided to take our chances with ponchos and umbrellas. When I called my sister she sounded relieved that we've decided to carry on with the trip as A was throwing a tantrum because of the cancelled trip. I told her we would go fetch A once we were ready, but in the end they were at my doorsteps 15 minutes later (I must add they stay like 5 minutes away). All packed and ready (lots of things when you have a baby) we started the long drive to Mandai~

30 minutes later we arrived at the zoo. We had some kaya toasts, eggs and hot drinks before I bought the tickets for the entrance. Equipped with a pram and some ponchos, we started our journey in the zoo~~

Ticketing Counter

Map of the zoo

Within minutes we realised it wasn't the best day to visit the zoo. The animals themselves were hiding from the rain while stupid humans like us were doing our best to keep dry under our ponchos or raincoats while looking high and low among the trees for the animals. We decided we were going to lose this game of hide-and-seek so off to the animal show after we visited the white tigers. 

The animal show

Some monkey climbing on a vine over the audience

The animal show was a bit disappointing for me. I thought there were going to be more actions and animals gracing the stage. I guess its a zoo and not a circus. After the show we followed the recommended itinery and followed the feeding trail. We saw the feeding for the white rhinos, cheetahs and lions among others. Compared to sunny days when the animals would take their food back under the shade, the rainy day actually made the air cool enough that they actually just eat out in the open. 1 positive point for the rainy day~~ Along the way we also saw a new area being developed for future exhibits like the pandas and a river safari. That means another trip here next year!

New panda enclosure coming soon!

White rhinos getting their afternoon feed

Up close with the cheetahs

The cheetahs getting their chicken meat

The lions looked so magnificent!
Enough feeding of animals, we decided that it was time for us to get ourselves fed. Also a good way to get out of the rain. The restaurant in the middle of the zoo offered a decent fare with chicken rice, fish and chips, noodles and other snacks. Initially I thought I would like a roasted chicken leg or something to that extent but in the end I opted for the chicken rice. The rest of the crew had the fried stuffs. Not a usual day I tell you.

Lunch was quite ok for me~~

Chicken rice for me. Fried food for the rest~ Not a common scene!
After the meal we continued our journey around the park with the KidzWorld in our mind. We took the tram  and alighted near the KidzWorld. We walked towards this area where they have an enclosure which is like one giant cage where one can walk in while the bats and flying animals would be all over you. The few of us guys/boys decided against going in while my missus wanted to go in. My big son said something about flying cockroaches and disaster was averted~~ *pat on his back*

Baby J in front of 2 roaming monkeys
The KidzWorld changed quite a bit since my last visit. There used be more than just rabbits, ponies, goats, water park and KFC. I remembered guinea pigs, chickens, ducks and some other farm animals as well. Maybe its the bird flu that some of the fowls were taken out but still there were many other animals I wished were there. J loves patting animals and I think he had a good time patting the big bunny on his lap~~

Bunnies at the KidzWorld 

J getting a feel of a bunny

Goats and more goats

A waterpark for the children. Too bad we didn't pretty swimming suits
The rest of the day we roamed about the zoo, took the tram around the zoo a few more times and saw many more animals. The rain had stopped by then but the air has been cooled to a wonderful temperature and that gave me one of my best trips to the zoo in recent memory.

Malayan Sun Bear

Manatee during feeding

A giraffe against the evening backdrop
With my work schedule and stress level at work, this trip to the zoo has been timed to perfection. Gave me a bit of time to relax my mind and take in a bit of nature. Also spent good time with my family. I hope I can do this on an annual basis with my family... hopefully I will get to visit the panda exhibit when we next visit~~

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Recap : February 2012

Super happening month of February. Brought Baby J to HK. Mummy got a company dinner function. I got the Beta Gamma Sigma induction ceremony in HKUST. Just the perfect opportunity to let everyone in HK take a good look at J~

Early morning flight to HK...
It was during this trip to HK that we realized our decision to relocate back to SG was correct. As we put up at the Marco Polo Gateway hotel, we had to walk past hordes of smokers to get anywhere. The same at the ferry terminal. The same in front of the hotel. The same as long as we were walking outdoors or along the streets. 

The hell that was TST... too many smokers!
Basically Mummy gotta show up in the office so I had alot of quality time one-to-one with J. I fed him, put him to sleep and brought him places. But all he wanted was to play in the room. Once we get out of the hotel he will sit tightly in his pram and not move an inch. Even when I pry him away from his throne he will throw a tantrum which will only stop when I put him snugly back into his seat. So alot of pram-pushing for me (not to mention the whole carrying part with some inaccessible areas). We also witnessed a Chinese kid peeing right in front of Harbour City. Classic~ So many updates from my friends about HK being a huge toilet and in just 4 days I managed to catch 2 instances of public urinals~

Managed to catch up with my closest HKUST classmates on a Friday evening and we all had a great time catching up. Everyone loved to play with J and we proceeded to my hotel room even after our dinner.

Baby J visits HKUST~
Saturday morning we went to HKUST for the Beta Gamma Sigma induction ceremony. Honestly speaking I've never heard of this honor society until HKUST sent me the invitation. I guess no harm joining. One day it might come in handy when the boss of Maxim or some other big shots in HK realise we have something in common~

February also saw my return to league bowling. Definitely rusty due to work commitments but I bit the bullet and went ahead. Needless to say my first few games were crap~ New bowling balls didn't help my cause~ But the season is long and I'm sure I will improve... provided I have the opportunity to improve. Because I also started by golf lessons at Asian Golf Institute.

Life with Baby J, bowling, golf and plotting how to earn more money, buying a bigger house and replacing the car takes up all 24 hours of my life! Every moment of my life is important because we never know when we will sleep and not wake up.

A friend of mine passed away in his sleep on a Thursday morning. All I know is he has been working on this project for his company and has been working hard. Even a day before he passed away he was updating his FB wall on how the project may go either way, glory for all involved or crash-and-burn. Little did any of us know that would have been his last transmission. Subsequently it was his elder sister who has been updating his FB wall with what little information we all had of how he passed on. Even till today we still have no idea what killed him...

Should we let our job dictate how we live our life? Should we let it kill us? Did the job kill him or did he let his job kill him? We will never know until we next meet on the other side. If I have one major regret this year that would have been the failure to organise a bigger gathering for the entire HKUST cohort. But given his busy schedule I doubt he would have been able to make the appointment anyway... or maybe he could? I will never know... He left behind a lasting memory of a friend who always have a smile~

Monday, March 12, 2012

Baby J's 1st Birthday~

We had a 1st birthday party by the poolside for our dear J recently. Much preparation and resources went into the organization of this party. Mummy went about finding the perfect birthday cake and catering. We also went to get candies etc for goodies bags which comes with an Angry Birds puzzle! She even went to buy toys for the kids that she knows!!!

Goodie Bags for kids!
 Honestly I didn't get involved much except for toy shopping~ Bought this cute little elephant toy which would blow balls up from its trunk when you press a button. It's one of J's fave toys now~

This is what I got for my dear son~ His fave toy now!
Since we wanted to make his 1st birthday a nice and memorable one, we went ahead to decorate the place with banners and balloons~ It was great family time doing these things together~ Also showed my many inadequacies like not able to blow a balloon or cut paper out very well... But I still helped with printing out photos of J in a very tasteful way~ much like a film reel if you can see from the picture below~

Home-made banner! A few of us came up with this in one night!
Balloons from Parkway Parade~
Balloons all around the poolside~
But the star of the show must be 2 things. Firstly, definitely my son who charmed everyone with his many antics~ Secondly it gotta be the cake which my wife found for all of us~ The cake, from Cake Avenue, was the 2nd star of the event! Fondant on the outside and lovely chocolate fudge cake on the inside~

3-tier cake with a replica of our dog, J's best friend!
And J's biggest reward must be the number of toys he received! And in the Singapore context there were no misers around! Each guest either came with a big ang pow or a big present! All nice to have but their presence to witness my son's growth is the most important~

Toys galore for the little prince~
The next time I'm going to hold a birthday party for him will probably be 16 or 18 or 21!~