Monday, September 24, 2007

Saskia, Protector of Mankind

Say "woof" to the new addition to the Mager family....Saskia Mager! She's slightly over 3 months old, and everything about her screams "Caesar", my old trusted friend of over 10 years who's in doggie heaven!

When most friends ask, "what's her name" and we say, "Saskia", we either get a raised eyebrow or quizzical looks! Max's dad says "what? sounds communist!?"

Well, "Saskia" was a name that belonged to a gorgeous Italian-German friend of mine back in school in Japan (her surname was "Terzani, daughter of famous der Spiegel journalist and author, Tiziano Terzani). This "Russian" sounding name also cropped up coz I've been spending too many late nights in the office workin' burning the midnight oil on a Russian deal! And poor Max was spending too many nights by his lonesome so I thought the best present I could give him for his birthday was a companion.

A goggle search later on a website revealed that....

The girl's name Saskia \s(a)-skia, sas-kia\ is of Danish and Old German origin, and its meaning is "the Saxon people". From "sachs". Also possibly "valley of light". Name of the wife of the 17th century Dutch painter Rembrandt. Use of her name in the Netherlands can be traced to her; however, the derivation of Saskia from the name of the Saxon people is uncertain. The name could also possibly be of Slavic origin, and related to Sasha, a short form of Alexandra. Actress Saskia Reeves.

So, that name is of "Dutch" descent!

Another website explained the possible slavic roots :-

Name: Saskia
Meaning: Protector of Mankind
Gender: Girl
Origin: Slavic

To us, I'd say she'll be our valley of light for many years to come.

Also, "Protector of mankind" kinda has a superhero ring to it, doncha think?

Ok, there goes our new furniture! Yikes!

Friday, September 14, 2007


12 September 2007 late 7pmish on a Wed evening on 60th floor of Republic Plaza

I'm still stuck in the office. Boo hoo! In fact, the office is still packed at this time. After staring at the computer the whole day, the words on the screen start to mysteriously unscramble.

I thought to myself, "Is it just me or are the words moving? I feel kinda giddy...could I be.....overworked?"

Just then, my Ozzie colleague, who is stretching beside her while photocopying documents, comes over to discuss "work" with me.

I asked her, "Is this office......shaking?"

Ozzie : "I don't know, I'm stretching so I wouldn't know...but anyway, here are the amendments to the documents.....[blah blah blah]....."

But the words went in one ear and out the other as the swaying sensation became more obvious.

I exclaimed to all, "I think there's an earthquake guys!"

Everyone in the office seemed more amused than scared. In my opinion, the mood was uncomfortably "calm".

Having been earthquake trained (after living in Tokyo for 4 years), we were taught to duck and take cover under our desk, and to immediately evacuate out of the building at the soonest moment. But then after that, we assemble in a field surrounded by tall buildings. If you asked me, I'd say, "errr....u sure we shld be standin' here?"

Anywayz, in our situation, what does one do in a swaying building 60 storeys off the ground?

And where are all the announcements from the building management to vacate the building? Will it be safe to take the lifts? We hear a gazillion "false alarms" every now and then from the broadcast speakers, but nada in such a potentially dire situation.

My first instinct was to grab my bag and leave. No one seemed to share the same self-preservation enthusiasm that I showed. Perhaps it was because I've been a victim of a life-threatening evacuation situation when my boat sank years ago and realise it was better to be safe than sorry. Or was I being paranoid and overly giasu? After all, we were taught from an early age that Singapore is immune to earthquakes so there's nothing to be afraid of.

After the tremors continued for more than 5 minutes, I rounded up a few colleagues, and we made our way down to the first floor. Unscathed, we appeared on the ground floor, though thoughts of being stuck in the lift and of cables snapping did cross our minds. In fact, I learnt from my colleague that our CEO actually came up with a theory that we would not kick the bucket if the lift kicked the ground floor! There was some physics theory to that but to me, it remained just that...a theory.

Upon reaching the lobby, we saw lots of panicky late-workin' office workers scurrying to leave their offices. I asked our security guard if they felt the earthquake. The lady said mildly, "No, we didn't, but I guess that is why all these people are vacating their buildings". about us folks in this building? Weren't you going to make an announcement to get us out? I learnt from my colleagues who returned to the office that an announcement was in fact later made. But hey, that was "after" the fact! We could have been burried under the rubble by then! Duh!

So, the question is : is Singapore free from earthquakes? Check out the answers from this website :

"In known history, Singapore has not experienced an earthquake.

Singapore is located in an area sandwiched by the Java trench in the west and south, and the Philippine plate and trench in the east.Thus Singapore is located in a seismically stable zone, free from earthquakes.

Most of the shallow and bigger earthquakes are in western Sumatra and Java because of the deep subduction zones to the west-east and south-north of the Java trench. Earthquakes that occur near Singapore are usually deep earthquakes and weak.

However this does not exclude us from being affected by weak tremors once or twice a year due to a strong earthquake located in western Sumatra.The tremors are weak and are felt by a few people living on high floors over certain specific areas of the Singapore.

In the interest of the public, Meteorological Services Division has set up a compact network of seismic sensors around the island to monitor the effects of these earthquakes from western Sumatra. The data are made available to engineers to help them ascertain the tremor effects on structures. These data are also made available to researchers in the universities. The information is also made available to the general public whenever a tremor incident occurs in Singapore."

But with all the geological changes caused by climate and other changes, who knows what may happen next!

Dug out some news about last Wed's earthquake....

Source: Channelnewsasia
Singapore buildings sway after strong quake hits IndonesiaPosted: 12 September 2007 1941 hrs

SINGAPORE : Singapore buildings swayed after an earthquake measuring 7.9 hit Indonesia on Wednesday evening.

The massive quake struck off the western coast of Indonesia's Sumatra island, prompting authorities to issue a tsunami warning, meteorologists said.

The undersea earthquake, which hit at 6:10 pm (1110 GMT), struck in the sea some 100 kilometres (60 miles) southwest of the city of Bengkulu, at a depth of roughly 15 kilometres, the US Geological Survey said.

The quake was strongly felt in the capital Jakarta, some 600 kilometres away, with tall buildings swaying.

An official at the Indonesian Meteorology and Geophysics Agency said a tsunami warning had been issued.

India's Government Ocean Centre has also issued a tsunami alert for Andaman Islands.

Indonesia was the nation worst hit by the earthquake-triggered tsunami of December 2004, which killed some 168,000 people in Aceh province alone.

The archipelago nation sits on the Pacific "Ring of Fire" where continental plates collide, causing frequent seismic and volcanic activity. - AFP/ch/ms

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Climb On! Mountain Bike Speed Trial

Helped the DirT folks at the Climb On event last weekend. DirTraction organised a mountain bike speed trials competition which saw a group of about 20 riders going back to their biketrial roots to complete the mini-makeshift Northshore-style obstacle course without putting both legs on the ground!

On Sat, the winners of the Mens Open and Junior categories were determined. Afraid of embarrassing myself with a face plant in front of all the riders, I decided to leave it to Sunday to test out the obstacles when no one was around.

Sun was a free-for-all trial day, and I trusted BlueBones 'nuff to take a risk on those skinnies! After several attempts, managed to clear the course! Woo hoo! Somewhere within the course of the day, I twisted my ankle and got meself some bandages to straighten the unsightly bulge! The first aid medic asks me to continue twirling my ankle round and round coz that was his grandma's secret ingredient to a faster healing of a sprained ankle (couldn't believe that he gave that advice, and worse still, couldn't believe I took it)!

Thank goodness it was only a bad sprain...dunno what I'd do if it were a hairline crack!Yikes! Either way, am out of action for sometime! Sigh....

The highlight of Sunday was indisputably this little boy! Let me retrace the conversation Luke and I had with him....(disclaimer : me memory's pretty bad so not everything you read is 100% accurate) :-

Luke : "Eh fatty, come here, I want to talk to you..."

John obediently runs towards Luke.

Luke : "Do you play basketball?"
John : "Eh, how you know ah?"
Luke : "Because you are wearing a basketball jersey!"

John chuckles.

Luke : "So, what's your name?"
John : "John".
Luke : "Now, that's a real basketball player's name! What's your surname?"
John : "Toh".
Luke : "John Toh! Your friend is riding the course, you want to try it? "
John : "I have no bike."
Luke : "Ok, you can use Huimin's bike, but first, you must walk the course, ok?"

John nods, and starts to walk the course in 1 direction, and then back in the opposite direction.

Luke : "Ok, now you can practise on your bike".

John wears his borrowed helmet, steps over Huimin's bike, and attempts the first ramp, and almost falls over.

Luke : "Ride on the grass first!"

John obediently rides "around", but not "on" the obstacles. Tirelessly, he rides, rides, circles, circles, circles.......

John takes a short breather and runs for some water.

John : Eh, can I ride my own bike here?"
Ling : "Of course you can. Where is your bike now?"
John : "It's at home. Can I borrow your phone? I want to call my mother and ask her to bring my bike down."

After a short conversation with his mom, he rushes off. I later learnt that he took a bus home (ok, it's somewhere in Tampines, but still....), picks up his bike, and cycles back again.

When he appears with his heavyass purple BMX bike, John was the talk of the town! He slowly but surely gains confidence on the course and starts to conquer the obstacles one at a time.

John, in his so adrenalin-pumped state, even sidetracked and took on the flying fox challenge. "I believe I can fly" must have been playing in his mind!

But alas, he suddenly froze up and was stuck 10 metres off the ground for quite a while! It took lots of coaxing to get him back to ground level! After the rescue, his confidence was at an all-time low. His usual chatty banter was reduced to silence as he pushed his bike to a corner.

Just when we thought he'd given up, he starts cycling around the course again like a maniac as if he had a Redbull fix, and even manages to master most of the groundlevel obstacles, the ramps AND the sea-saw on his BMX!

One of Huimin's bike spokes eventually twang-ed and no bike was available for the public to test. John, without a second thought, loans his bike out to complete strangers so that they can experience same thrill that he'd experienced that afternoon!

He just made me chuckle whole day long! I think Luke has created a bike monster in him! Hahahahaha!
For more photos, click here.

Monday, September 03, 2007

A Weekend of Unzipping and Escort Services

Last weekend was no ordinary weekend in the adventures of merciless.

Upzipped on Saturday
Had a blast hanging out with Becks, Ming, Chris and their friends and kids at the Forest Adventure! Was like a mini adventure race with all the fun ropes sections (ziplines, treeclimbing, freefall from treefall) all strung into 2 hours of pure adrenalin-pimpin' fun! They are offering $25 for 2 pax up to this weekend, and I highly recommend this exhilirating ride of a lifetime...err....weekend? Photos right here, taken by moi using Mingloid's waterproof Pentax camera!

Escort Services on Sunday
Tuned into a different channel on Sunday, channel 70.3. Couple of us helped out with as bike escorts for the top 3 elite male and female category participants for the running leg. For photo account, click on channel 70.3.