Monday, 16 January 2006

Opportunity Cost

After being more than a little fed up with having to sit within a LAN cable radius from the cable modem in the serviced apartment, I decided to purchase a wireless router and wireless USB adapter. The plan is to take them back home after this assignment and enable wireless for home upon my return.

Like any risk averse person, research was paramount. (For those interested has a wealth of information with regards to broadband connections as well as hardware related support). I spent a large portion of my time researching the pros and cons of the different hardware options (as well as understanding the different options available). In the end I decided to opt for flexibility, future use and speed - rather than an all in one solution (which are available, but will be more trouble if one component renders other components useless by virtue of being in the same casing, rather than discrete objects). I did prices comparisons between Singapore and back home. Really, it was a bit of a no brainer - given that SG prices were actually less than half of what it would have cost me back home.

The next part was shopping around. I did manage to try and get a couple of shops to try to price match, but frankly that's not a big thing over here:
"But at XYZ shop, I saw it for cheaper," in protest at their high prices.
"Well, why don't you go to XYZ shop and buy it then?" the shop assistant baulked.

After walking through the five floors of two IT malls, I managed to get a pretty good deal so walked away rather pleased with my efforts.

Setting it up was a breeze and have had no noticeable issues after running 7 hrs straight with no dropouts. I can now type this up from the comfort of my own room.


This buying experience has been an interesting one. The internet has dramatically simplified the process of researching and evaluating the pros and cons of a purchase. At some point there was too much information, as there was no single solution which satisfied my needs. Perhaps it is my
perfectionist attitude which stops me from being decisive and it is more important to understand that there is ultimately a trade-off. I understood that I could not have everything I wanted in the one solution and sometimes, it is better just to get out there and do it (and I would have saved myself the trekking!)

Sunday, 15 January 2006

Fear Factor

Today, I bought a new set of goggles since the chlorine in the pool has been causing red eyes, (not those isolated to cameras, since these red eyes actually hurt). It has been good to be able to see underwater and the clarity is amazing. I tried them at night and it was definitely an interesting experience.

Firstly, looking outside the pool, I couldn't see much as it was not lit and I didn't have contact lenses. Inside the pool, only half the pool was lit since there were a number of the pool lights which were off.

I haven't swum in years, but for some reason, I had trouble breathing correctly. Maybe I have forgotten the breathing technique for swimming - not that I am inhaling while underwater; I just start to panic that I won't surface in time to take my next breath.

The same fear had crept into my thoughts when I went snorkelling a few weeks back. My breathing technique was horribly unco-ordinated and I don't understand why that is the case.

Another common feature was that the darker and murkier sections of the water was a bit of an "unknown" - in both the pool and at the beach. I had some fleeting moments where some fear pulsed through my thoughts. As brief as it was, I have to recognise that it was there. "Why?" - I have no clue. I am not even sure whether I was half expecting a fearsome creature to emerge suddenly from the darkness and to inflict horrible amounts of pain on me. There was trigger in my head which just flipped that switch from being safe, to a practically being a fish out of water (excuse the pun). Why, when just swimming, should fear be present? It's not like I don't know how to swim.

I thought back to my childhood experiences with water, and they were not negative experiences. When I was a kid, I even did a lifesaving course. So why is that I have trouble now treading water? Why is it that I have developed a fear of deep water?

There is no real rational explanation which I can give for this. Perhaps my age is catching up to me - when I was younger, I did feel more invincible. Now, maybe know my limitations - what I am good at, what I am not good at, and I am just not good at swimming??

Or maybe I have a fear of what I don't know - what lies ahead is murky and unclear. Should I swim forward and see for myself? Or should I play it safe and stay away from those areas which I can't see? One can't be too sure - so why take that risk? It's not until I swim closer that my fears are allayed - knowing it is safe.

Sunday, 8 January 2006

A simple thing

It's raining today. Actually, perhaps raining is an understatement - it's pouring down in Singapore (at least where I am).

Luckily, my recent Christmas haul included a funky pair of Havaianas. Thanks!

Previously, I was reluctant to wear thongs.
"I have ugly feet," I complained.
"Nah man. Heaps of people wear them and they have ugly feet," came the reply.

My previous pair were a pair of Wal-Mart "specials"...USD$1 excl. tax. I used them predominantly to walk through communal washroom/change room facilities. The major differences were comfort - my old pair were not very comfortable and the soles were thin, resulting in sore feet (esp. balls and heels) after walking around in them.

These new ones are great - they were spongy at the bottom and my feet felt distanced from the ground. Great stuff I say.

So far I walked around Botanical Gardens and Centennial Park and down to the shops.

Today, was my first true rain test. The umbrella only managed to cover half my body and my legs were all wet. Coupled with a few drainage problems on the street, my feet got really wet. It was rather chilly when I walked into some shopping centres. No fail, practically all shopping centres here have the air-conditioning on some ridiculously low temperature where you'd swear that it was about to snow at any moment.

It was fun to be able to walk through puddles and watch other people shy away from those deep puddles. I hadn't done that in AGEs. Also, the heavy rain meant that a lot of roadside shops were closed along Orchard Rd, resulting in less marketers coming up and asking:
"Are you interested in card?"

Great piece of work those thongs are. The best part was coming home, kicking them off and cuddling up to my warm apartment and a hot drink. Perfect.

- Feet dry in an instant
- Spashing through puddles
- Walking through water
- Watching other people avoid puddles
- Kicking off my thongs - less sweat and smell. Yuck!

- Feet are cold in shopping centres
- In deep puddles, they can slip off
- Difficult to run for the traffic lights
- Feet can get dirty and annoying when hard objects (e.g. leaves, wood rocks) get caught between sole and thong. Ouch!

How can you go wrong with splashing in puddles and enjoying the freedom of air between the toes. Definitely be wearing them more often!

Thursday, 5 January 2006

Last two weeks

The last two weeks of last year were spent at home. In my own bed. In my own home. In my own city.

While at home at the end of the last year, I admit that I loved every minute of being there. From the moment I touched down late on a Saturday night, I felt consumed by the irreplaceable life which I had come to love. Sure there are always highs and lows in every place, but going back allowed me to appreciate all the small things which go largely unnoticed; all that is so fundamentally integrated in my life but I take for granted.

Some of the major highlights for my last two weeks of 2005:

1) Sleeping in my own bed. It's small but cosy, warm and safe.
2) Being surrounded by friends and family. And different wines.
3) Snorkelling for the first time. At the beach. Safe.
4) Walking through the Botanical Gardens and seeing the city skyline. Ok, so the stroll was because I was a little lost. But it was definitely worth it.
5) Watching a movie in Centennial Park. M&Ms for dinner
6) Chilling out and relaxing. Sleeping counts. So does snoring. I'm on holidays, ok?
7) Big Christmas meals. Weight-watchers is gonna make a killing.
8) Playing Taboo. It's not about winning or losing - or so losers like to think. :p
9) Going for a round of golf - Unbeatable city skyline views and beautiful water views. In a buggy - I have never felt fresh after a round of golf.
10) Having fun! Can't beat that.

Don't get me wrong - I throughly enjoyed going to different countries, travelling and visiting new places. But I think Dorothy summed it up nicely: "There's no place like home"...

How handy would it be, if I could have taken a snapshot of the "Last Two Weeks of 2005"?
Every so often I would take it out every once in a while and reminisce about the "good times". When I am not having a great day, I will whip it out to remind me of what happier moments once were, and look forward to experiencing that again.
I think I need a constant reminder to keep me going until my next long break.

Thanks 2005!