Kai’s first Halloween

I’ve never celebrated Halloween till now, and because of that, we went completely overboard with the decorations for our apartment – we spent most of the week cutting out construction paper from templates we obtained either online or from the venerable Martha Stewart.

Most of the enthusiasm, planning and execution was supplied by Naomi, while the grumbling and begrudging was performed solely by me.

It all became worth it when this morning Kai woke up and I brought him into the living room. He stared at every single piece of decoration we put up, quietly going from pumpkin to witch and back again, for the better part of half an hour before it was time for his breakfast.

We are going to get used to this.


Advertorial: Citibank mobile services

citiThere will always be the last minute, spur of the moment, middle of nowhere transactions we will need to perform, away from the convenience of our office / home computer.

Say for instance, you were overseas, or in a location without free wifi, and without easy access to your bank’s ATM network (or that your bank happens to be the one identified as the ‘people’s bank’, meaning there are always long queues at their ATMS, and by the time you get to the front of these queues, the ATM fortuitously services itself);

And say for instance, while you were there, you needed to send money urgently to your broker, your bookie or your dealer, failing which you’d lose out on a bargain, YOU WOULD WANT TO HAVE ACCESS TO YOUR BANKING SERVICES from your brand new iPhone, Blackberry or any internet capable cell phone.

What would you want to see on your phone’s screen when you access your bank’s mobile service site? Apart from your account balance being more than you expect, you would want all transactions you perform to be easily accessible on the screen.

You would also want the connection to be secure.

While I was looking at the specifications sent to me by the good people representing Citi, I thought about the two-factor authentification requirement for online banking, and thought that it’d be really difficult to log-in, close the browser to check for the code sent via sms, and then going back to the browser again to enter the authentication PIN.

Well, it turns out that there is such a thing as a Flash SMS.

A Flash SMS is a message that happens really quickly. No lah. It’s actually an SMS your phone receives which appears as a layer on top of the browser page you’re on. So, yes, you don’t have to close the browser window to read the SMS. So yes, you can enter the authentication PIN directly into the login window. Tres flash! Tres convenient!

You can also conduct cross-currency transactions (to Citi accounts overseas), and this is made even more convenient with instant foreign exchange rates within the mobile portal.

And once you’ve gotten your banking transactions out of the way, you can breathe a sigh of relief, and wonder what to do next. If you’re Singaporean, you’re probably wondering where you can get a bite to eat.

In which case, don’t log out of the portal yet. You can get great deals on Citibank Gourmet Pleasures, which is listed on the portal and promises you “the best deals at over 1,000 locations”.

You can then call up your friends and act all generous and buy them a treat. If for some reason you still need to find a Citibank ATM or a branch or a Citigold Center (I have found a need for one before – I got the Citigold staff to photocopy something for me urgently), there is a facility called “Find My Citi” (on the same URL) where you can do just that.

Both online services (banking and locator) can be bookmarked (as widgets or icons) on the iPhone and whichever other makes and models of mobile phones which are data and browser capable, making Citibank services just a couple of clicks away.”

login screen on iPhone – choice of sms or if you like carrying online security devices with you, your one-time pin from that thing

flash overlay with OTP

OK done, let’s go eat

Wear blue to go green this Saturday


They showed that 350 parts per million CO2 in the atmosphere is the safe limit for humanity.

The bad news is we’re already past that number – we’re at 390 parts per million, which is why the Arctic is melting, why drought is spreading across the planet, why humanity is facing perhaps its greatest challenge ever.

The good news: that number gives us a target to aim for.

If you’re free Saturday between 8am and 3pm, join in the activities for the International Day of Climate Action, beginning with the aerial photograph (using a boom lift, not a fuel guzzling helicopter or other aircraft) of hopefully hundreds of people forming the number 350 at Hong Lim Park.

More details of the day’s activities can be found here.

Tyrepac – tyres delivered to your doorstep (and fixed on your car)

Tyrepac sponsored a set of tyres for the purposes of this blog post.


I love driving, but car maintenance can be a pain. But that’s mostly because I’m quite the idiot when it comes to anything mechanical.

Cars I’ve driven would’ve lasted a helluva lot longer if I’d taken the trouble to look after them.

But that’s all in the past, and now that I’ve a young family, I’d like to say that I’ve turned over a new leaf. It was a sobering moment when my brother asked me to pop the hood of my car, and I didn’t know how to, and pretended to tie my laces while I fumbled for the car-hood-opener-thingie.

Leopards don’t change their spots (or preents), and well, when it’s time to get the car’s oil changed, brake pads replaced, tyres rotated, I still go “meh”, until someone tells me it’s gonna cost me a lot more if I don’t do what I’m supposed to on time.

My mother-in-law has the same cavalier attitude when it comes to car maintenance, and it wasn’t until it was quite obvious that the tyres of her car resembled those on F1 cars that she asked me if it was about time to get new ones.

Translated from Taiwanese, that meant, “can you please get new tyres for me, dear son-in-law?”

Now, my experience with buying car tyres is like an Ang Moh going to Sim Lim and expecting to get a bargain. I just hate not knowing the prices on things, and seeing the weird code on what’s supposed to be price tags just makes everything more infuriating.

So it was indeed fortuitous that I found out about Tyrepac’s online tyre shop, saving me the trouble of driving to a tyre shop and getting conned and earning the ire of all concerned.

More importantly, the Tyrepac site took the mystery out of buying tyres completely – all I had to do was select make, model and release year of MIL’s car, and all of Tyrepac’s offerings were available for me to choose from.

Alternatively, were I more knowledgeable about tyres, there is an option I would have used, titled “I already know which tyres I need for my vehicle” that allows you to select by tyre width, profile, radius and brand.

Now with the range of tyres to choose from, I was able to google for reviews to help me with my choice for MIL’s car. Tyrepac also has their own set of reviews submitted by users.

Then there’s the thing that was the clincher – they actually sent a mobile tyre workshop over to fix up the tyres for the car. This service costs just $20 extra – and that’s pretty reasonable if you’re not the sort to navigate through confusingly named Industrial Parks and their many identical looking lanes.

They arrived, opened the truck panels and revealed their mobile tyre workshop, which was a little noisy because of the generator, but hey, whaddya need a stealth tyre workshop for?

Within the hour, all was done, and MIL’s old tyres were taken away to be recycled while I drove her car back into her driveway, delighted that the squeaky new Goodyears were making her car completely safe again.

Well, almost. The mechanic that fixed up the tyres informed me that the brake pads were worn, and should be changed soon.

I’m going to be fixing up an appointment with Tyrepac for that soon as they offer mobile servicing

As for tyre knowledge. I’m still quite “meh” about it, but information is at hand on my bookmarked page here.

(My experience with Tyrepac came earlier than expected when the MIL’s car battery died a week before our scheduled tyre change – they have an emergency battery service that works out to be a helluva lot cheaper than if you were to call AAS (what an acronym) – so I’d recommend that if you do drive, keep Tyrepac’s number handy. That’s 1800-TYREPAC (8973-722))

Tyres from S$73 for the Altis, Wish, Camry, Latio, & many more other models! .
Whilst stocks last!

Green zen baby

Baby Kai loves greenery. He loves to stare at trees and the rustling of leaves seems to lull him into a trance-like state. So it’s a good thing that we’ve got trees right outside the dining room window, and we took these pictures when we had lunch recently at District 10, and you’ll see how he’s completely engrossed, staring out the back window, leaving us to our lunch in peace. Botanic Gardens, next.