Saturday, January 31, 2009

Clearing up the Air

Recently, the news travelled back home. Someone told my brother about me. He told my brother somewhere along the lines that “Your sister is very demanding, picky and disliked by many people and oh yes low rank.” When relating these to me, my brother was laughing and shaking his head questioning why I am so hard-stance at work.

I was very angry and hurt when I heard those comments, but still posed calmly and replied that I see no wrong in being demanding. Though our conversion ended there, the comments still lingered in heart, wrenching… Not sure what went wrong with me last year, but suddenly everything I do seem wrong. Are things that I have done really “wrong”? I DO NOT think so.

Firstly, I do not think that being demanding is wrong. I would have been a bitch, if I am demanding on others only, but hell no. I am also demanding with my own work too, in fact much more demanding than I requested of them. Is that wrong? If they had done their work responsibly, can I be picky with properly done work? In actual fact, they just anyhow do my work since it does not earned them much brownies points and on the other hand, I had to close many eyes many times to get myself to accept their work …

On the low rank, which is the most hurtful comment, I have never boasted at home or at work that I am some big shot at work. I confronted my brother on whether I did that which he said no. Knowning that I was upset about it, he told me that guys just like to joke about things and they talked rubbish. Yes, their talk-cock rubbish costed my reputation! He reckoned that I should not have been so hard-stance given my position... which started me thinking the issue they had is my low-standing in office and thus I should not have been so demanding.

I know who I am and where I stand. I always worked harder because I do not want people to stereotype my work abilities because of my size. Trust me, no matter how civilised we are, there are people like that. While there are bosses who recognized that, some don’t. I can still live with that. However, I want to clear this up once and for all especially to my brothers lest they hear the rest of the stupid lies and malicious rumours about me. My conscientious is clear. What bothers me is perhaps some people more equal than others…

After thinking through what was related, I wondered whether my brothers would preferred to hear things like “Your sister is a lazy bum at work, anyhow do work one , always push work to others and oh yes low rank…” If so, I would be gladly to kick off my shoes (hope they hit some of the scums on their head) and relax.

In any case, I will said it again - I have done NO wrong!

Chinese New Year Celebrations in Singapore - Part Two

Here are more photos on Lunar New Year Celebrations in Singapore!

Ok, this beautiful picture is not taken by me, but my brother. Lantern is traditional symbol of the Chinese culture. I especially like the design of the lanterns which has a modern comteporary twist to it. It was taken at Paragon.

I was awed by the design of the stage. You cannot tell from the photo, but when I first saw the stage at Raffles Place, there was only one word to describe it - magnificent. The design was red on red, but yet the chrysanthemum-like flora backing still stands out. The designer gave the backing red banner a good height which accentuate the magnificent theme further. I really love it. Will use it as a source of inspiration for my next design project.

Btw, a Chinese dance troop was performing when I was taking photos. It was quite interesting dance - almost aerobics like, but I did not manage to stay and finish the whole show. I was late for my dinner appointment then.

Passed by Chinatown weeks ago, but did not manage to take many photos. Usually one month before the Lunar New Year season, the streets of surrounding areas of Chinatown will be filled with beautiful decor.

There will also be street vendors lining the small lanes selling Chinese New Year goodies in Chinatown. Come closer to New Year, the roads will be blocked for pedestrians only.

Some of the stalls are not yet opened in the afternoon, but there were a lot of shoppers already...

Ok, foreigners might not know what are all these. Fret not, they are foodstuff. Chinese preserved Sausages of various kinds - some made with fatty meats, some lean meats, the black ones are made with livers and inlets which is similar to Germany’s blood sausage. The disc-like looking meat hanging in the middle are actually cured duck. They are almost like French’s duck confit in which the duck is preserved with salt and soaked in oil. These sausages and preserved duck are usually used to cook together with rice. However like all traditional dishes, they are not very popular with health conscientious young people.

As explained before, Lunar New Year is very much a tradition-bounded festival. Here are some of the traditional food stuff which Chinese will buy for the celebration.

Pomelo. It should symbolise good fortune. I know Hong Kong or cantonese people actually stew the skin of the pomelo fruit and served as a savoury dish. I think it is good for health or something.

Business men love to give their business associates gift basket. These gift basket ranges from $60 plus dollars to $200 plus dollars, comprising of items such as wine or spirits, abalone, dried seafood etc food stuffs.

Another cantonese traditional eats - candiced fruits. There are sweeten coconut shreds, candiced melon strips, sugared lotues and sweet potatoes discs etc vegetables. I heard from mum that this can be served to guests when they come visiting or be cooked in a sweet soup as dessert. Of course, it symbolised sweet start for the year!

Stoned preserved Red Dates. My grandmother used to buy these during Chinese New Year. My great grandmother was still around then and her dialect was Hockchew. They apparently like this very much. Again, unfinished red dates can be used to make red dates tea.

This is a uniquely Singapore dish- Yu Sheng or called Lo Hei (in cantonese pronunciation). It was invented by a famous Chinese restaurant called Phoenix Dragon during the 70's. It is essentially, shreds of sweeten and coloured vegetables salad with raw pieces of fish meat, chopped peanuts and crackers that is only mixed at the table with sweet and sour plum sauce. This ready packet Yu Sheng mix costed about $10 plus to $20 dollars - some comes with smoked salmon for people to enjoy Yu Sheng at home!

Niao Gao - Sweeten Rice Cake. Another traditional eats for Chinese New Year. It can be eaten just as it is which will tasted sweet and gluey and sticky. However, housewife would usually fry them in egg batter to make them more palatable, erm sounded wrong, anyway more interesting.

The above is traditional look. They comes in various forms and patterns nowadays.

In form of Golden Ingots! I always wonder how housewife can pry open the container to get the rice cake out...

Or in form of a colourful carp!

I used to like them when I was young. Candiced Mandarin Oranges. They tasted horribly sweet.

This is called 8-sided Treasure Chest - 八宝盒。 It used to be filled with preserved fruits like above.

As taste of people evolves, the 8-sided Treasure Chests also began to update themselves with modern eats such as Chocolates or ...

Nuts in various flavours.

Chinese New Year is so important in some countries that beer like the above designed special packaging for the period.

This is a more recent trend. As like any celebrations, people tend to splurge a bit on expensive food stuff. One of the most expensive food stuff which people will buy is canned abalone. I must say I am not a big fan of abalone as I thought they tasted tough, but the stock which the abalone was soaked in really elevate the taste of soup. It goes very well with Chicken soup or Pig stomach soup.

Important – Do not ever throw away canned abalone stock as this is where the essence lies. I had a friend who tells me that her mum always throw away the stock as if it was canned mushroom or something. I almost fainted when I heard that as she had poured her money down the drain.

Friday, January 30, 2009

An Alternate Point of View on Local Blogosphere* - Part 1

*the validity of the term “local blogosphere” is still under debate at point of entry

Sometime ago TPJC’s blog asked whether Singapore’s blogosphere was screwed up due to the lack of intellectual content and most readers seem to be only interested in sexual related topics, highly controversial articles and exaggerated artists scandals. The article also suggested that local bloggers played a part in the trend as they had sensationalized their entries in bid to generate high volume of visitors for earning advertising revenue.

I find parts of their argument rather weak and especially the examples they cited are not accurate as it seems to be.

Are Singapore’s Readers really that shallow?

The first inaccuracy was that they cited half of the top ten popular entries on, a community Meta blog for Singapore bloggers, were either sex-related content or entries with striking titles and the entries which were voted by readers proved that they were more interested with sexual related topics, highly controversial articles and exaggerated artists scandals.

Though was supposed to be a community Meta blog for Singapore bloggers, they forget that there are other nationals’ bloggers, like Malaysia and Hong Kong, who have registered with to promote their blogs too. Some of them might have posted the exaggerated content too, not necessary Singaporeans’ bloggers.

Secondly, as pointed out above, readers of can be of other nationals too. It is not accurate anymore to use it as a gage to prove that Singapore’s readers are attracted to shallow content only.

For all we know, there might be a high percentage of Singaporeans readers reading blog articles on topics such as science and technology, but the figures are not made known to us.

On Xia Xue being representative of Singapore blogosphere…

*Shake head…

Firstly, the question was posted to the writer’s “not so internet savvy friends” on local blogosphere and I agreed that Xia Xue’s name would definitely be brought up. However, to go on to add that she is representative of the local blogosphere is just… not accurate as well. I mean have you all forgotten the doyen himself – Mr Brown? The ranking on Technorati and Sgblogs showed that he still has the most visited Singaporean blog. Thus, why would Xia Xue who is many spots below him as being representative of local blogosphere? I don’t recall reading other local blogs of having these many curses and swearing words...

Only Blogs which write about science and technology are reputable…

They inferred Singapore’s blogs lacked of intellectual content and only considered blogs with factual content such as science and technology as reputable and intellectual. I totally disagree with this point of view. In my opinion, most blogs provided alternate point of views on certain issues, there is no right or wrong with one’s point of view and there could be philosophy in simple relations of one’s experience. Then, we also have some people who shared their daily life happenings with others like how one celebrated certain festivals, traditional and street food that is unique to a country are part of culture writing. It certainly does not mean that they are not science or technology related topic, thus they are any less intellectual or reputable.

They have also inaccurately labeled blogs such as TechCrunch, Telegraph and WiredScience as successful because they manage to garner a huge readership base. Those blogs are successful because their content is credible and convincing and huge readership base comes after that.

Also, TechCrunch, Telegraph and Wired Science are not exactly written by amature bloggers. Wired Science has editors and numerous contributors and TechCrunch is managed by two professional bloggers etc and they could almost be categorized as commercial blog. It is therefore not fair to compare them with local blogs which are usually managed by one person. Not forgetting that in America, it is possible for one to earning a living from writing, but one cannot really do so in Singapore.

My view on local blogosphere

Contrary to what they have stated, I believed there are many interesting blogs with good content waiting for readers to discover them. In my opinion, Singapore’s Blogosphere isn’t screwed up, neither are the readers. It is just that the vastness of the blogosphere has yet to be explored and what we are seeing now is the barely scratched surface…


Monday, January 26, 2009

Be blessed by God of Fortune !!! 快来迎接财神!

Been down on your luck? Hope that it could do better for the coming year? Need some luck for the coming 10 million TOTO draw? Well, your chance is here as the ultimate fortune booster has arrived on Photosophize! He is one God we have been waiting for... The one God that we hope to get blessing from in these uncertain times. He is ....

Drum Roll, Please ~~~~~


I happened to met him at Plaza Singapura today! So Lucky! :)

As the Chinese saying goes "独乐乐不如众乐乐, 大家乐才是真的乐" which translated to " True Happiness is When All is Happy. Why Not Share Happiness with All." Photosophize decided to encode this blog entry with luck!
  • Press your palms together.
  • Make a wish
  • Recite: 好运连连发发发 财神一定到我家! Huat Ah!
  • English: Good Luck All Year Round! God of Fortune Will Come Rounds after Rounds! Huat Ah!

Skeptical? Come on, it is Chinese New Year - We are allowed to be Supersitious and it is quite innovative too! ;) Btw~ your wish will come true sooner if you pass the link on... (Haha~)

Lastly, I sincerely wish all readers a Happy Lunar New Year and may your wishes comes true!


Thursday, January 22, 2009

Pet Goldfish Just Laid Eggs!

My goldfishes have become Mum and Dad!!! I am so proud!They were so high this morning, splashing around and there are water everywhere. For a moment, I had thought they were crazy. That turned out to be their mating rituals.

I just did some research online. A goldfish can spawn 500 to 1000 eggs per time. However, the adults including the mum and dad will eat up most of the eggs. They should take 2-4 days to hatch depending on water temperature. Eggs that are fertilised should be clear and unfertilised eggs are opaque.

See the eggs upclose! They looked opague, thus are not fertilised. I am not so sure though, thus will not be removing them yet. Anyway, if they really hatch, I might not get to see them too as they will be eaten by the rest of the adult fish... I hope some will survive.

I supposed this might be goldfish mum. She is still guarding eggs laid on the filter. There are only a few left. The rest are hidden behind the filter. I am still considering whether or not to remove them. The water turned chalky after all the action...

An auspicious start for the Lunar New Year!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Chinese New Year Celebration In Singapore - Part One

Lunar New Year is an important festival for Chinese all around the world. It marks the beginning of the lunar year which falls on 26 January this year. Every year is represented by a zodiac animal and it happens to be the Year of Ox for 2009.

As an ancient festival, there are many customs and superstitions following it. Chinese believed that having a good start for the year will bring good luck and abundance fortune for the rest of the year. Thus, many of the customs are symbolically meant to boost good luck and fortune.
Before the start of the celebration, first and foremost important thing is Spring Cleaning which is to clean the house thoroughly. People will also take the opportunity to discard the old and spoilt items and to replace it with new one. Isn’t it a good excuse for shopping?

Anyway, Chinese New Year in Singapore will kick starts with lights up of streets in Chinatown. Some places will have Pasar Malam (temporary market place which usually opened after dusk) selling festive related items. See photos below.

Colourful plastic flowers. I am not how the trend started but I always suspect it to be an influence from our fellow Malay Singaporeans who usually buy them during Hari Raya for decoration purposes. Chinese will also buy plastic almost life-like flowers to decorate their house, but the other reason more valid reason was that Singapore’s weather is too hot and fresh flowers wilt easily, thus plastic flowers are preferred so that it will looked good for a longer period of time.

Not just any flowers, but flowers with auspicious meaning and colours (usually bright colours).

Peony - Prosperous

Red is an auspicious colour for Chinese, thus anything including flowers in shades of red colour will be an auspicious bet.

How can we leave out "edibles" when comes to celebration? Especially for Singaporeans, food is an important factor in celebration.

Various jars of Chinese New Year Goodies, all sorts of tarts, biscuits, cookies and crisps are for sale! In fact, 5 jars are selling at $11 dollars. The Chinese sign says "It costed so cheap that you will be laughing!" Though cheap, I must say the quality is of course not good.

Chinese New Year Goodies in different packaging. They costed slightly less - 5 for $6 dollars!

These snacks only started to appear in recent years. They are Taiwanese Mochi (rice cake). Sweet with many different flavours. They are quite expensive too.

Can you guess what are these? Hint: It is a fruit...

They are persimmons - air-dried. Looked slightly unpleasant, but they tasted alright with not repulsive smell. sweet and had a more intense flavour than the fresh ones. The texture is albeit chewy, almost like Gummy Bear. A traditional eat for Lunar New Year. Half a kilograms costed $3 and one kilograms costed $5.

Mini pumpkins. These are usually used for offering to Gods. They are chosen for the auspicious colour and name - the pronunciation for pumpkins in Chinese or Hokkien is Golden Melon. The sign wrote - Strike Rich Golden Fruit! What better way to improve one’s feeling in face of the poor economy?

Gourd! Each for 2 dollars. My mum says the gourd is for good luck as it will drive evil spirits and demons! *Gourd in hand bellows: Be gone, all baddies!

Mandarin Oranges! We usually bring a pair of the Oranges to exchange with relatives. The Chinese and many dialect prononciation of mandarin oranges sounded like Gold! They actually symbolised good luck and fortune!

Read more about Chinese New Year in Singapore under Chinese New Year category.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Chinese New Year Goodies Recipe 2 - Almond Cream Cheese Cookies 玉仁酥

Chinese New Year is closing in soon and as usual I am making New Year Goodies as well. Ever since the melamine scare that we had last year, it is safer to make your own cookies and biscuits for we will know best what goes into it.

The following is my new recipe - Almond Cream Cheese Cookies. Cream cheese is not often used in cookies, but it added a special touch of creamy flavour to the ordinary cookies. Also, I had purposely chosen almond to keep the cookies "white". As with all cookies, they only required M&M skill (Measure and Mix), thus it is very easy make. Do try it at home !

Ps: They are suitable for vegetarians too. No eggs required!

Almond Cream Cheese Cookies - 玉仁酥
Group A - Should be at room temperature
  • 100 g of cream cheese
  • 180g of butter
  • 100 g of icing sugar
  • pinch of salt
Group B - For stiffing
  • 300 g of plain flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

Group C - Almonds Chopped

  • 50 g of Almonds

Preheat oven to 170 degrees Celcius

Cream ingredient Group A of butter, cream cheese, sugar and salt in a large bowl with a wooden spoon. It is easier to loosen up the ingredients using a wooden spoon first followed by the use of the flimsy egg whisk. Also, I had creamed the mixture by hand this time round, but go ahead to use a machine if you want to.

The mixture is ready when turned pale in colour and turned fluffier.

Before adding the Group B dry ingredients, I added the almond into the batter first to ensure that it will be mixed it thoroughly. After that, stiffed in the flour and baking powder.

The final cookies dough looked crumby, but should hold its shape well when pressed lightly together.

Using hand, I used a heaped teaspoonful of mixture and shaped it to a ball. Then using the thumb, I dented the ball shaped dough to make it flat like the above.

The dough above is enough to make about 70 pieces of cookies.

Into the over, the cookies will take about 20 to 23 minutes to cook. However depending on over, the level of browning might differs. Thus do check back at about the 18 minutes mark.

When done, the cookies will be in a pale golden brown colour at the side. The centre should still remained white. Do take care not to leave them for too long in the oven as it might be over-baked and became brown.

Amidst every mouthful of cookies eludes subtle almond fragrance which complimentd very well with the unique cream cheese flavour. I especially like the crumbier texture which is almost like a saltier version of butter cookies!

Why is it called 玉仁酥? 因为它是皎如白玉的杏仁酥。 :)

Other Chinese New Year's Reads:

More Photosophize's Recipes can be found under My Kitchen label.

Personality Test 2 - What Keyboard Key are You?

Stumpled upon this personality test - "Which Keyboard Key Are You?" from this blog. It sound quite interesting and findings are quite accurate too in my opinion.

I am 'Alt'.

Some people might find you to be strange, mysterious, and even a bit off putting. You tend to be drawn to and influenced by alternative lifestyles. You're definitely not normal. Once people get to know you, they realize you're interesting, intriguing, and very intelligent. You have a lot of knowledge stored in that big brain of yours. Most of it is useless knowledge, but some of it is very useful.

Ya... Very me right...

Take test here.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Sights of Singapore 1 - Waterloo Street (Kwan Im Tong Hood Cho Temple)

With Lunar New Year just around the corner and it happened to be 十五* last Saturday, we went to pray at Kwan Im Tong Hood Cho Temple to thank Guan Yin (Chinese term for Godess of Mercy or Bodhisattva) for her blessing of the past year and for a better year ahead.

*Translated to Fifteen in Chinese Characters – which refers to day fifteen of the lunar month. It is special day to Chinese because the moon is full on that day and many would make offerings to Gods.

Located at Waterloo Street, or better known as Si Ma Lu (四马路),the iconic temple had been a popular worship place for Buddihists and Taoists. It was first built in 1884 and had been rebuilt, but retaining its original architecture and craftmanship, twice in 1895 and 1982. It was named as one of Singapore's historical sites in 2001.

I have always thought the temple was kind of magical. I heard stories from my grandmother that the Japanese war plane dropped a bomb and hit the temple during the Second World War. Amazingly, the bomb did not go off. Many thought it was Guan Yin Goddess who sheltered the bomb and prevent it from blasting the temple.

As it was"十五", the temple was rather packed with a lot of worshipers.

Next to the Kuan Im Tong was the Indian temple - Sri Krishnan Temple. Actually, there is also a church in the area as well. Singapore is one of the few places in the world where different religions and worship places can co-exist at ease.

Most interestingly, people do not just tolerate each other's religions, most of us understand each other's culture and sometimes like the above, the religion catered to “different set of believers” as well. Sri Krishnan temple has got a incense burner outside for people who is on the way to pray at Kwan Im temple to also seek blessing from the Hindu Gods! I believe this is uniquely Singapore. As you can see, there are many worshippers .

At the side, there is a sandalwood incense burner for those who wanted to pray through Hindu rituals. One just have to fan the fumes towards themselves and the auspicious fumes will somewhat expel the bad aura surrounding you. I did that then and immediately felt better already!

Even foreigners know how to pray Hindu style.

Do not underestimate the miniature economy that both temples generate. In the photo above, you can see there are many vendors selling lotus and chrysanthemum flowers which were traditionally used for prayers. In addition to that, they also sell incenses on the side for people who wanted to donate them to the temple. However, as there were many such donations and that the temple usually provides free incense too. There has more than enough incense for all to use.

It is very similar to Erawan shrine in Bangkok where there are many flowers vendors too who sell incenses and candle on the side.

Though there are many vendors, the business can be quite brisk for all as there are many worshippers per day. Just for info, one bouquet such flowers cost $4 dollars...

See, this is how lotus looked like before they bloom. They are huge! Lotus is actually the sacred flowers for both Hindu and Buddhism cultur. They are well-liked as they symbolised purity. They usually grow in muddy ground in a pond, but the leaf and flower grow above water and looked clean, thus purity. Btw, the big lotus leaf can be used for cooking as well.

Anyway, the above lotus cannot be used for prayers yet. They need to under go some processes. See picture below.

They have to be trim to the correct size. Because most of them have not bloom yet, the flowers vendor would have to "pry" the flower open and fold the outer layer of petals into special pattern like below.

I thought with the fold and everything makes the lotus looked nicer!

They comes in three colours. The violet-pink ones, the white one and the shocking red colour. I always wondered if the red ones were actually white ones sprayed with paint, thus the unnatural red colour. Btw, the yellow colour flowers are chrysanthemum. They smell nice, but I like them better in tea.

Another special popular business around the area is fortune telling specialised in interpreting divination. Kwan Yin temple is famous for providing wooden divination lots or called "qian" which devotees can used to seek for God's opinion on certain matters or future.

Because the lots are written in poems of ancient tales, they need some intepretation into modern language before one can understand what "God" is trying to advice you. Non-believer might be skeptical about this, but I sometimes would do it. So far, I have not been misled and the divination has been quite true.

This stall is unattended. The Chinese character says interpret divination as fate, palm and face reading.

Another popular icon of Waterloo street is the Laughing Buddha! It was said that one will be blessed with different things by touching different parts of the Buddha. One will get longevitiy by touching the ears, good fortune will follows by touching the belly etc.