SPH states due to challenges in the industry and difficult economic conditions, it will be laying off employees and merging My Paper and The New Paper (TNP) to form a revamped TNP.

This comes after a review of its core media business that will also see the company cut up to 10 per cent of its current staff force of more than 4,000.

The “right-sizing exercise” by the public-listed company, which reported an earnings slump last Friday, will be done over two years through attrition, retirement, non-renewal of contracts, out-placement and retrenchment.

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‘I hope many of you do not mind should I decide to speak plainly on this subject. The only reason why I choose to do so is because so many things that should be said are not said. Firstly what headwind in the industry are these senior management in SPH talking about…hello, headwind your bloody head lah!

Which part of the anatomy of failure do the senior management in SPH not understand?

The only reason why SPH seems to be experiencing so much difficulty in discovering the requisite imagination to prosper in the digital age in my humble opinion that has led to this round of retrenchment has absolutely nothing to do with the prevailing economic conditions or for that matter their flabby business process.

Instead it has everything to do with their misplaced focus on how best to run a newspaper. As time and again the SPH has consistently failed to be a reliable purveyor of the truth. That is to say it does not prioritise the needs and interest of it’s readership and instead serves only to perpetuate the specious political interest of the PAP. As a consequence of this loopy focus. Many Singaporeans can only perceive the SPH as a third rate apparatus of propaganda that belongs to the PAP political machinery….why would anyone in their right mind vote with their wallets to read propaganda? Coming to think it of it – what’s the point of having a ‘nation building’ press at all when no one even bothers to read it?

To me it is very simple.’

Had SPH and the custodians of power placed the interest of its readership first and foremost and diligently positions itself as a trusted source for objective reportage and robust commentaries….then I don’t see how it is possible for so many people to give SPH the thumbs down.

Then the whole issue of retrenchment might probably not have happened at all.

Dry & hot month of October

October 18, 2017

One reason why I deliberately scheduled the planting of the seedlings in the month of October is because historically it is the wettest month in the whole calendar year for the northern districts.

I planted the seedlings on the 11-10-17. Today is the 18-10-17. Not a single drop of rain…..if it does not rain….the seedlings will all shrivel up and die.

I don’t understand.

It is not easy. And is some cases impossible to change the work culture. That is because the culture is so deeply embedded in the firm that it can only resist all attempts to change.

Not very long a proprietor of a papaya plantation sought out my expertise on how best to manage their estate…it seems the incidence of crop disease is so high that the family business which was once prosperous is now facing the prospects of imminent bankruptcy and foreclosure.

In total I spent three days reviewing every aspect of their operations. After that all the family members from the patriarch to the nieces were gathered around the table…the head of the family asked in a sober tone, how can we continue to grow papaya profitably learned one?

I told the old man prosaically….you are all fighting a losing battle. From this point onwards the land will gain more ground no matter how much you put in, no matter what is done she will outstrip you…it is now a war of attrition. You must raze everything to the ground and grow other crops except papaya for at least two generations.

That was when the patriarch of the ya ya papaya family that had dominated the trade for four generations stood up and drew my attention to a wall. One by one I reviewed the stern faces of the previous papaya barons who all seem to glare at me menacingly for even having the temerity to suggest to the clan leader that they should grow something else besides papaya.

The patriarch even went on to great lengths to explain they have been growing papaya’s since the time of the flying boats when the white planter ruled.

I told the old man….can you all not see that is the problem.

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‘There are some things that they will never ever teach you in Harvard Business School. Never! Not because the knowledge you would have gathered had you been schooled on the subject does not have the capacity to give you a good return on either your investment or energy. Rather the main reason why they will never teach you these things that I speak about is simply because to even mention them would be highly politically incorrect and secondly business management as a body of knowledge would find it quite difficult to keep so many useless driftwood gainfully employed….if people know the truth.

The awful truth is not all work related cultures are malleable to change. Some things just cannot change…they have become so encrusted that it is like a rock and the only way to change it is to destroy it and start all over again. That is because that culture which includes all the good along with bad has taken so many years to layer one on top of the other like kueh lapis and to exacerbate matters it also comes with so many taboo areas where it is quite difficult to talk plainly about certain sensitive issues without coming across as a bigot.

The long and short of it is simply this. At times it is not about how good or bad the management that drives change is. After all if Michangelo was only allowed to work with clay and denied marble….is it so surprising that he only ends up being a great flower pot artisan.

To paraphrase at times the current culture is not only entrenched, but so fossilized that it has managed to permeate every aspect of the organization that they only way to manage change is to introduce a stronger culture to eradicate the corrosive culture that is holding back progress.

Frequently many managers fail to see a cut off point or remain reluctant to this option as they perceive it to be entirely destructive. But this interpretation of how to manage change effective misleads – as one can very well argue if the current culture is so broken beyond all attempts to either economically repair or rehabilitate it….then maybe the best thing to do is to burn everything right down to the ground and start all over again.

True to the aphorism of the frontier man…one can certainly succeed in taking a man out of the jungle, but frequently taking the jungle out of the man is quite difficult to impossible.

Over two weeks after World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) launched their campaign to switch to using palm oil that does not cause deforestation and haze, 11 companies have remained unresponsive.
Two of these companies, Old Chang Kee (Ten & Han) and Polar Puffs & Cakes, are now the subject of a new, independent campaign led by a group of ten youths. Through initiating a petition on Change.org and organising school talks, social media and outreach to customers.

Students of Singapore Against Haze (SOS), was founded by Gauri Shukla, who saw first hand the destruction caused by unsustainable agricultural practices on a trip to Bukit Lawang, Indonesia.

“I used to visit that place nearly every year to trek and raft. But when I visited in 2016, I hated what I saw. Lush green forests had given way to oil palm plantations and stacks of logs. The whole place was shrouded in thick smoke,” Gauri recounted.

The experience drove Gauri to understand how her consumption was linked to deforestation and the haze.

Gauri said, “I learnt how vast rainforests in Malaysia and Indonesia were being cleared for agriculture, mainly oil palm. Yet, some farmers are already growing oil palm without using fire, while protecting the forests, peatland and indigenous people. The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) certifies palm oil produced in such a sustainable way.

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‘If you want to save both people and planet. Then you absolutely need to invest a bit of time, effort and energy to know the industry. I once asked a group of militant environmentalist – why should any farmer in his right mind give two hoots about some abstraction like a hole somewhere in the artic, when he has a hole directly in his atap roof of hut?

The question sums up the problem succinctly.

Oil palm farmers, big and small resort to open burning only for a variety of compelling reasons. Firstly, burning is a very cheap and effective way of clearing land. Nothing comes near it in terms of effectiveness and cost efficiently. Absolutely nothing. So that will be your target. Secondly, to sanitize land without resorting to open burning requires specialized machinery and technical know how like surveying. We are talking about high technology aka scientific farming methods that only very big plantations have access too. Small holders can never hope to have access to such technology and know how….simply because it is very expensive and secondly there is no critical mass of vendors offering such services. Nothing near to even bring down the cost to a level where it can be mass consumed. As many of the machinery is not only exceptionally specialised, but requires skilled operators who simply do not exist in sufficient numbers to bring down the cost.

If these lazy enviromentalist keep pressurizing firms to only use certified oil palm then what will eventually happen is only the big plantations will benefit. As for the small holders since they are subjected to an arbitrary apartheid system – they will only gladly continue to burn baby burn till thy kingdom come as since they already have absolutely nothing to lose since they don’t have either the financial lattitude or the technical expertise to comply.

A better way to save people and planet for these lazy and air conditioned addicted environmentalist is to first learn about oil palm cultivation and to invest some time to develop the core competencies and complimentary technology so that they can provide an alternative solution to small holders besides open burning.

But since that would require real work under the sun, sleeping in tents and most critically waking up early at dawn to put in a honest day’s work….most will probably give that a miss.

Instead these incredibly lazy people who have never ever worked so much as one single hour under the hot sun actually and have actually no intentions of ever dong so even have the temerity to believe that all that needs to be done is to pressurize firms to use only sustainable oil palm products….when in fact the real culprits are the big plantations.

This is what invariably happens when lazy people who do not want to invest in knowledge in their objects of interest dedicate themselves to saving people and planet….they make the situation worse never better, worst of all what little they know…they hold on very stubbornly to it at the great expense of the common good.

I want a gps controlled land based robot. A military specification model, not a toy. Please go and develop one go now!

I also need a drone, a military spec model. Not a toy again. With FLIR vision capabilities. GPS controlled. Go now!

Develop it. Bring all these goodies to me and I will show you how to really save people and planet the right way.

Go now! You have plenty of book time to chalk up…this is real work, not the air con bull shit work that your boss does….please don’t waste time playing Pokemon Go…go bring all these wonderful things to me. We will start from there! You will get to learn the ropes first hand from an iron cross with oak leaves and swords and diamonds farmer how to nail this problem….I dare you!

But as usual there will be no takers. As all of you are lazy people who only know how to make noise!’

It is mid September. It should be raining every day. But instead we have been under the spell of an unusually dry and hot spot of weather. This is the last thing newly planted seedlings need right now. They need rain…otherwise they will simply shrivel up and die.

Where are you rain? Please come.

The good news is I have finished planting the last tree…that means I have officially completed my replanting.

The bad news is the power disruption is far more serious than what I first assumed to be. It seems the subterranean cable needs to be replaced. This is a very big job and requires many days.

I would have to live on candle power and rely entirely on rain water. My life is going to be not so different from those folks who used to live before the invention of electricity. Nonetheless I am very glad that I have finished my replanting project….now I can really take off my boots…and just rest.

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‘I broke ground on the 15-06-17. I completed my project on the 15-10-17. That’s just about four months. That’s how long it takes to clear land and replant new trees again. I cannot begin to explain how big this endeavour is or even begin to elaborate how complex it is….all I can say is if one reviews the sheer scale of the undertaking and the amount of labor of what is required to squeeze into the dustbin and divide that with the sheer quantity of contraints and to make good for a new planting of trees….it has to be incredibly daunting no matter how one choose to cut or splice it….scary even as so many things can go wrong. No one has taken on such a big project with this level of mind boggling complexity this size in these parts…the last time it happened was during the days of empire in the bygone age of the colonial planters.

In kampung folklore there has always existed a mythical figure who is well known to all as the great planter. He first appeared during the era of the flying boats and white linen in these parts….the man of steel. The one who tamed the capricious rivers, cleared vast tracts of feral land and planted row after row of rubber trees as far as the eyes could make out….but despite the seamless nature of this legend and how it has managed to insert itself into the psyche of those who turn the wheel of life in the provinces.

However. Such a man never once existed…that at least is what I believe to be so very true.

Frequently the man of steel was closer to a wobbly man of jelly. He was scared, so petrified of the scale of the undertaking he was tasked with. Often he much preferred not to think of work. Often distracting himself perpetually to remove himself from the sum of all his fears. And on those moments when he appeared larger than life and even came across as surefooted, he could hardly believe his good fortune and those occasions when all others believed only he and he alone could have pulled it off…..even all that must have certainly surprised him.

But if there’s such a thing as a sun or moon…a constant as to why this figure of the great planter has managed to root itself so stubbornly in the mythology of so many villagers….it probably had even less to do with the man of jelly himself. Rather the magic spell that makes such an implausible fairytale possible lies very much in the hopes and aspirations and dreams of most mortals – they have to believe in such a man and even if such a man never once walked this earth….he would have to be fashioned out of their fervent hopes and the sum of all their fears.

As belief even if it is nothing more than an elaborate fairytale slakes man’s thirst for what he can never hope to ever understand….it gives him strength in his hour of need to believe in the existence of the superman….the übermensch.

But I know many things that most men do not know….you see I see it all…the before, during and after…have even stood there ramrod and allowed the sum of all my fears to wash over me like some giant wave…only to watch it leave its wake and go right by leaving me….the man who has seen it all.

I keep a copy of Homer’s classic, The Odyssey by the side table at camp….it is a constant source of comfort and solace for me…..as there are many heroic themes that I constantly draw from in my moments of deepest doubts – the steadfast loyalty of Penelope, who waits faithfully for 20 years for her husband’s return. Duty, Telemachus, who stands by his absent ather against the suitors who have invaded their family home. Servanthood, Emacus the lady in waiting to Penelope. Sagacity, Eumaeus, the swineherder who has to bear the cruel barbs of the unruly suitors. Diligence in Philoetius, the cow herder who continues to bring milk despite his master’s absence are all exemplary in their loyalty, service and honor to their master and his possessions.

But the theme that resonates most with me is Odysseus tragic loneliness and how he tries to cope stoically at best he or for that matter any man can as he searches to return home to his loved ones despite his many setbacks.

I read it slowly savoring every sentence all the while wishing I had a neck as long as a giraffe. Yes…the idea of home can be so very compelling to a man who believes he is marrooned…so near, yet so very far that it might even belong to another age…another life – like one of those stars I find myself staring at from time to time…wondering to myself whether perhaps the faint light that streams out is all but a remnant of a star that has long since cooled and died…

No! I don’t ever imagine there was ever such a man….no great planter and even less of the man of steel….perhaps just an ordinary man. A simple hard working man who dares to hope for a better tomorrow and go by his business quietly like some faceless ant turning that mythical wheel of life…so very ordinary that should you ever chance across him in Singapore. He would hardly create a ripple.

And that is the truth and nothing but the truth. Today is the 15th September 2017…I’ve complete it….I wish you all well.’

No electricity

October 14, 2017

The supply from the power company is OK, so it seems. The problem is from the power box to my safe house up the hill it’s quite a distance into the wild of the plantation. To summarize power is not getting thru…something is very wrong in between these two points.

But I am prepared. I have back up batteries and an emergency gas cooker. Filtration systems to recycle run off water. I even have a generator but since it is noisy….I don’t want to switch it on. As this could be an ambush.

I will be good for a very long time. I just need to ration my batteries. It will be a bit uncomfortable, but I am very accustomed to living this way……I’ve trained for this many times….I even have enough canned supplies to last for six months.

I’ve be good….it’s a just a bloody hassle that’s all. As with the final stage of the replanting….I have to work very hard and it would be nice to return back to just rest. Instead of having to fight to just survive like the Apollo 13 crew three minutes after reporting home….Houston, we have a problem.

But that is life in a plantation. There will be pain, but suffering is optional.

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‘If you want to run things really well like trains, a company or just make sure you don’t end up in the ICU in a coma with tubes sticking out of your mouth. Learn from the Jews. The Jews are the master race of thriving in adversity. They are the only race on this planet who are unfuckable.

And the reason is very simple…they train very realistically…and most importantly they never goof around…everyone takes it very seriously…infact since being blindsided by Yom Kippur in 1973. They have been doing very little else except training, training and training.

I have learnt a lot from the Jews. But the curious thing about the Jews is they are acutely aware of the limits of their security services. Hence ordinary citizens practice active three hundred and sixty degrees security 24/7. For example it is impossible to leave a bag in a public place in Jerusalem or any crowded area in the state of Israel. Someone will stop you! It will all occur in a matter of seconds…not minutes. Soon a crowd will form and they will even hang that bag around your neck. It doesn’t matter whether the crowd is young or old…everyone seems to know the importance of taking full responsibility for their security.

In Singapore the culture is very different. You could for instance leave an unusually large object the size of a refrigerator marked atomic bomb on a train platform…the cartoon variety some more with wires connected to a ticking clock and everyone will just walk by as if it’s very normal.

Nothing will happen for hours. For me there is something awfully wrong with this picture.

Maybe the cure for this malaise is to send everyone to live in Etiophia or Nicaragua. Not in the city. But in the outskirts where if you call the police. They would even tell you outright in an unabashed tone….I am so sorry, we don’t go there.’

The Planting goes right on

October 13, 2017

There are so many many trees…..it just goes right on and on and on.

‘I wake up at around five. I cook for the dogs and after feeding them. I make myself a delicious gourmet coffee….an Americano or Long black. I am very particular about my coffee….it has to be packed just right and I make it using an old stove expresso machine. After that I whip myself an omelette. I make it a point to proceed as slowly as I can…it’s a form of meditation…I never rush it and I usually eat so very slowly and take my eggs with two WASA biscuits. I need to ration them as I can only get it in the big cities and I rarely go there. After that I will plan what needs to be done for the day. This usually involves a map, compass, divider, calculator, pen, tabula data and paper….it takes about a hour and a bit. If I finish in time I may download the latest satellite photos to get a quick preview of how the day is likely to unfold.

I take an extraordinarily long time to get my feet into boots….that’s because I have very sensitive feet that injure very easily….first i powder my feet and make sure it gets right in between my toes. I always wear two pair of socks. The first is the thin cotton sock to absorb the sweat….then over it a professional hiking sock that is much thicker. Then I work my feet into the boots in a rocking motion to ensure my entire foot fits snugly into the boot. I usually lace by boots really tight that’s very important as I work for many hours in uneven terrain.

After that I start up my car. I never just start and drive. Usually I would warm it up a full ten minutes. And check the tires very carefully. This is very important in plantations. After that I would usually make it a point to bond with the dogs. As day break is usually the time when they are most frisky play and check their teeth and pelts to make sure they’re healthy and problem free. After that I hit the field just when the sun breaks over the blue mountains to the east.

I usually drive very slowly in the plantation always looking on for anything unusual. At times I see my friends…Toby a tank hog who I was once raised usually blocks the road. At other times it’s Sammy the giant python…it takes a lot of effort to move Sammy. Sometimes he tries to kill me…so I have to knock him really hard in the head to remind him who I am.

Boonyi the giant eagle always flies high above….I feel safe with her around.

I like this time of the day best….only because I never see anyone, it’s as if I am the only person in this world. It’s as if this hour belongs to only me and no one else that I imagine makes it always special. Everything about it is infused with a very pleasant eriee quality, the way the moonlight clings desperately to the last vestiges of darkness…the momentary indigo in between darkness and light. The langarously long shadows cast by the first rays of light…the rapture of the birds as they take to the flaming skies.

There are many times when I wish…I could just hold on to this brief moment in time….it doesn’t last very long….but it’s always enough for me.’

Iran under the Shah

October 12, 2017

Amazing documentary…

More photos of planting

October 11, 2017

This is a very beautiful day for me. It was slightly spoilt by what happened early in the morning when I discovered the window of my car was smashed. But it is still a very beautiful moment to be savoured.

I know the trees mean very little to you….but planting them signifies the end of a very long and arduous journey for me. It’s as if I’ve come full circle.

I don’t know how long this moment will last…maybe it will all end tragically tomorrow….but as long as it goes on. I want to be part of it.

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‘I don’t know whether you have sailed before. But I am a pretty good sailor. I could for instance drop anchor on Easter Island with just an old sextant, divider, a watch that keeps good time and maps. I used to sail by myself all over the world. Went everywhere in my plastic sail boat.

Farming is a lot like sailing. Sometimes you find yourself like a small boat in a raging storm. Everything is just tops you turvy and all around there is sheer walls of terror. Waves that are so big that they could just as well blot out the sun and stand before you like skyscrapers…..one feels so very small…so very fragile and crumbly. You change direction to but the storm chases you. You tack this way, but the storm follows….its unrelenting…like a hunt. Only you’re the one doing all the running. Over and over you play this out, like some ominous dance with death…like a moth drawn inextricably to a tongue of light….each circle drawing tighter and closer to the sum of all your fears and fascination. Why didn’t I just stay at home….why can’t I just curl before a TV with a packet of crisp and some Ribena….what the fuck are doing man!

When what you’re up against is so big and formidable all you can do is give in to it, step right inside it’s gyre, plugging up your ears so the sea doesn’t get in, squinting your eyes to make sense of whether you’re still standing straight or upside down….that’s how it is when you take on something really big. You just have to learn to walk through it, step by step like running thru hot coal. There’s nothing there yet there’s everything within a catch of a breathe. Just this perpetual swirl where you try to keep your compass bearing true the best you can as each pulverizing bone wave comes right up before you. There is no time to think, no right or wrong…just the metaphysical and symbolism of you being right in the storm.

Then very suddenly the wind dies down and soon the waves begin to even out and the skies clear and it’s as placid as a mirror lake. Not a puff of wind, not even a whimper just the aching silence of having made it safely to the other side or maybe she just spat like a seed.

Who really knows.

And once the storm is over you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to put so many hats on at the same time that you even look like a clown. You would never really know…you laugh out loud. Take a swig of whisky and decide to polish off that last slice of ham that you’ve been saving and all the while there’s just this silence all around you.

But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s really what a storm’s all about….farming is a bit like that.

The silence after it all ends……the beautiful silence.’

This is for the record…..just in case I disappear suddenly and unexpectedly one day.

Last night after my epic 800 over kilometre round trip. I arrived back at the plantation house at precisely six minutes past midnight. I was quite exhausted.

At around fifteen minutes past one – I hear a loud crashing sound…it must have been the glass shattering. I did not think much about it then as the dogs have a habit of playing very boisterously at night and it’s not uncommon for them to make a racket or trip heavy objects like gardening tools over.

This morning I walked to my car at quarter past seven. I noticed the driver’s window was shattered. It was still standing, but shattered as that is the nature of tempered glass and there was a hole the size of tennis ball at the section of the window closest to the wing mirror. I did not touch the car for a very long time and examined the window.

When I opened the car door, the whole shattered pane of tempered glass disintegrated. This suggest no one had opened the car at all. Or maybe they did and closed it so very carefully. As if they had just slammed the door shut the entire glass would not be still standing. All my valuable were untouched. I had two mobile phones splayed out on the front passenger seat. A very expensive Garmin gps and even a set of duplicate keys in the glove compartment….nothing was taken….from what I could make out nothing was unusual in the cabin, there was no sign of an intrusion of any kind….this is very strange.

I looked around the scene for what may have made the impact, no tools were found nearby. But I did find an angular stone that had no business being there lying direct below the shattered window. By itself it would have been too light and small to have shattered the glass if thrown, but if it was used with a catapult it would certainly have been possible.

These are things that I do not understand.

(1) Why was nothing valuable taken from the car? Why break the window then? Was it just a vengeful act? If so why not ambush me as I drove up to the main gate?

(2) How was it possible for the person or persons to break the glass since I had parked the car with the passenger window facing the wall of the safe house. There was absolutely no line of sight from the fences to take a clear shot….if a shot was taken using a catapult. This person would have to scale the fence and negotiate the dogs to enable him to have a clear line of sight to break the window. If it was a vengeful act what is the difference between breaking the passenger or driver side or even the front or back window….why go thru the extraordinary risk of breaking the driver’s side of the window.

(3) If the stone was used why was there a gaping hole the size of a tennis ball…shouldn’t the projectile be found inside the car if this was the case. Is it possible for stone to break tempered glass and still leave a gaping hole and remain outside the car? Or was the hole made after the glass was shattered by fist to open the door from the inside out? I do hope some ballistic expert here can add or subtract from to what I have said here.

(4) If someone wanted to break my car window. It would have been easier for them to take a shot from the fence and break the window or windows on the passenger side. Why go thru the hassle of scaling the fences and negotiating dogs to do that?

Hypothesis:

(1) Someone tried to burglar the plantation house. Amateurs. They didn’t mean to break the car window. Maybe they shot stones at the dogs using a catapult because they were frustrated I came back at midnight. Maybe they thought by doing so it would pacify them. Although I only found one angular stone. This projectile was meant for the dogs. But it some how bounced off a rubber tire that’s usually left in the yard…the dogs use it as a toy and it richotte and hit the glass….but this still does not explain the gaping hole the size of a tennis ball. Neither does it explain how improbable it may be either.

(2) Something very incriminating has been planted in my car. Could well be narcotics or even something that is prohibited by law and carries a heavy sentence that guarantees I will put away for a very very long time. That could very well explain why nothing was taken from the car. Not even valuables. Only professionals have that sort of single mindedness – someone who has the same abilities as me to neutralise fierce and noisy guard dogs. Someone who has mastered the art of invisibility in the jungle.

(3) This is a warning. The people who did this are trying very hard to convey a message – we can touch you right where you feel safest. We know you are very comfortable and feel safe in the wild. But we have the capability to project into your comfort zone.

If that is the case then it is a form of psychological warfare. One that would compel me to spend a lot of time and commit a lot of resources fighting ghost.

What am I going to do?

(1) Absolutely nothing…..because the people who did this want a reaction. Their strategy is predicated on a reaction that has to fist come from me. They want me to jump up and down like some one whose pants is on fire…..they want me to ask for help…they want to see signs of fear….but I am going to pretend as if nothing happened. I am going to fix that window and go about my business as if nothing ever happened. I am going to confuse the shit out of them. Because there is a failing common to all strategies that are predicated on a reaction….if there is no reaction…absolutely none whatsoever, the strategy cannot be enabled…the ball is still superglued on their side of the court…it is impossible to proceed to the next level of game play….I am not even going to make a police report.

I cannot trust anyone. I have very good reasons to believe this. As these people are very well networked and connected in the local community…they have been here longer than me and they know much more people than I do.

The only record that this has ever happened is this blog entry. Can’t trust anyone where I am. They are all crooks. And crooks never play by the rules. That is how it is here – what I am going to do however is take my whole car apart very slowly from the very top to bottom. When the sun goes down. I am going to wear camouflage paint on my face and go out into the wild and hunt this person down….let’s see how good he is.

Please excuse me. I have a lot of bases to cover today and tonite.

Special note: I am going to make a blog entry religiously every single day from today onwards. If for any reason I don’t. Please get someone somewhere to some how find me. I am not kidding. I am dead serious.

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‘I don’t get many happy days. This was supposed to be certainly one of them in my life. I tried not to let it affect me – but when one considers what is at stake. It has to be slightly depressing.

I am reminded when one is autistic. You’re bound to make some people mad and angry at you. It’s much worse I reckon when one is autistic and very good at one’s job that one chooses to do in life and on top of all that one is very successful as well. Then you’re bound to get people who will even stand right up and tell you straight in your face – why can’t you be a success cleaning toilets or clearing up trays in a food court.

One sees this malevolence in people all the time – even in the internet. Recently someone who goes by the handle of matilah Singapore impersonated me in that blog My Singapore News. I guess it’s quite pointless to ask why these nut cases do what they do…but when they do these things it says more about what they stand for and what might be in between their heads than it will ever say about me….I am just living my life – truth is it doesn’t really do anything to me. I can replace my broken car window or write to the blog owner and tell him I didn’t write this and that blog comment…someone is impersonating me….and you should do me and others the basic courtesy and consideration to keep your shit in the four walls of your house.

Now you know why I don’t allow comments – if you have anything to say, you say only to me. Because that is all I can ever hope to control….myself, never others or what they may even think or not think about me.

Is it inconvenient…sure it is. I’ve got to get my window fixed and that means taking off time from work. Sure it is. I have to regularly pop into blogs that I don’t care to read. Not even on a lazy Sunday, just because inconsiderate blog owners don’t seem to understand the difference between freedom and basic courtesy.

My point is really this – when you’re autistic you have to be able to take more shit in life than even ‘normal’ people. For one no one would ever stand on your side simply because they have more in common with ‘normal’ people than you…even if they’re just hating you outright…it would always come across as normal…well adjusted…perfectly justified and above all right. As there are always more of them than you. And even if it’s not right, they could just as well make up the rules as they go along to make it all seem righter than right.

And even if all you want to do is live your life privately and do your own thing without even bothering a soul – they will never let you be. Because in life, I realise people need a circus or freak show to make their unbearable lives that much bearable and even if they have to be cruel, hurtful and inconsiderate…they will do it, just to have their fill of mirth and laughter.

That’s why when you are autistic all you can ever hope to do is to be very forgiving of others even should they hate you simply because you are who you are only because one cannot be someone else…that’s impossible.

One day I know I will find a place where people will accept me for who I am. I know such a place exist….I have often dreamnt of it. I just have to be patient and I am sure I’ll find it one day.’

Planting seedlings

October 11, 2017

Today is a very exciting day for me. As I will be planting the seedlings I selected the day before. The seedlings arrived at nine this morning. We proceeded to plant.

Selecting the seedlings

October 10, 2017

Drove 829 km on a round trip to pick up the first consignment of seedlings for my replanting project today. Whenever I have to drive long distances for over six hours at a stretch I never eat…it makes me dopey and that can be very dangerous.

Selecting seedlings requires the highest level of a planter’s skill. It’s more of an art than science. A good tree has good symmetry, form and structure…it’s very scientific and it’s based on the Fabionacci ratio.

The nursery manager was not very happy with me. As my reject rate was exceptionally high requiring excessive labor to shift many many trees till I found the right one…when I asked him, tell me why did I reject those trees…he just shrugged his shoulders.

That was when I barked at him…just don’t stand there. You know I didn’t drive all the way here for a holiday….make yourself useful! Thereafter he shuffled hard and furious.

In life ultimately people will only give respect when they know you know things they will never ever know even if they had the benefit of ten life times.

The state of Israel created a unit referred to as the Devil’s Advocate Office after the Yom Kippur War in 1973. The 1973 attack on Israel took Israeli military intelligence by complete surprise, the leadership at that time decided to invest in a set of institutions and processes that would prevent group think or dominant commanders from making decisions without seeking diverse opinions and listening to widely opposing views.

Here is how Yosef Kupperwasser, former Research Division Leader of the Israel Defense Forces, describes the tenth man rule in Lesson’s From Israel’s Intelligence Reforms:

The devil’s advocate office ensures that AMAN’s intelligence assessments are creative and do not fall prey to group think. The office regularly criticizes products coming from the analysis and production divisions, and writes opinion papers that counter these departments’ assessments. The staff in the devil’s advocate office is made up of extremely experienced and talented officers who are known to have a creative, “outside the box” way of thinking. Perhaps as important, they are highly regarded by the analysts. As such, strong consideration is given to their conclusions and their memos go directly to the office of the Director of Military Intelligence, as well as to all major decision makers. The devil’s advocate office also proactively combats group think and conventional wisdom by writing papers that examine the possibility of a radical and negative change occurring within the security environment. This is done even when the defense establishment does not think that such a development is likely, precisely to explore alternative assumptions and worst-case scenarios.’

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‘I am acutely aware what I have to share can only be repulsive. But that is only because the world these days is accustomed to mediocrity. But I have never been under any illusions as to what it takes to succeed. I am not like you…I don’t have unlimited reserves…just enough in the tank to get me there. As for the return trip….I have to make it up when I reach there with plenty of ductape and superglue. Understand this! Understand it clearly seniors are talking here! The only way in which business can succeed is when it is elevated to the same reality as war – business is war! Suddenly everything acquires a heightened sense of sense of urgency…edges become razor sharp…even the air one breathes resembles needles.

Suddenly failure is no longer an option….very suddenly failure acquires a terror and it this fear that usually force one to do things which cannot usually be done under ordinary circumstances. These are things they don’t teach you in Harvard Business School…they should. But unfortunately these days people don’t have the stomach for such prosaic recounts. That is very sad.’

Today is a very anxious day for me. As today is the day when I am supposed to receive the bill from the surveyors who I have engaged to help me in my replanting.

Since my replanting project requires thousands of tons of earth to be moved along with very complicated trenches and custom lining for trees….it is impossible to accomplish all this manually.

Technology is required to make scientific farming possible.

I work mostly with a junior surveyor. She is a very shy young girl who is very enthusiastic and earnest in her work.

Since the inception of the project although the fee was never discussed….I did on numerous occasions confide to this girl that I am very concerned about the cost. On one occasion when we were working very late. I even confided in her that I may have got carried away and it is very easy to do that when one is in the gyre. On every occasion this girl would smile conspiratorially and quip, ‘don’t worry…it will be fine.’

I have valid reasons to be concerned…too many man hours have been spent surveying the land – in many cases the methodology has been developed by myself…it is still experimental and as a consequence a lot of mistakes were made necessitating addition time in labor…too much. As I said, I was somewhat carried away….it is very easy to lose sight of cost when all that one wants to do is to complete the task.

Today when I was presented the bill by this girl….I was quite taken aback. The figure was so ridiculously low…not just low….but really impossibly low that I even asked this girl who stood before me smiling supremely – how is this possible….I cannot accept this…it is simply too low for all the work that has been done.

The girl smiled at me asked whether I would like coffee….I said no brusquely…then she said, ‘I told you not to worry. I so much want to make you happy.’

I asked the girl how is this possible, she did not say anything and instead attempted to change the subject. But I was most insistent. But despite my best efforts all I could get out of her was this…..this is the first time I have worked with a planter. I have never seen a planter before. We don’t get many like you coming our way to the city. We don’t get many opportunities to work with planters. We usually work with only construction folk. I have learnt so much from you. It has been an eye and heart opening experience….and I thank you for sharing with me all your wonderful stories when we were working together. I will always remember it all with fondness and kindness…..now all I ask is please drink your coffee like a good boy.

When I saw the boss later. I topped up the figure to make it a round number as I was so embarrassed….but even then, it was still so very low that even he was baffled.

All he could manage was…if she says it is like this, it must be so. I don’t spend time in the office. I hope you understand.

It seems this girl has full control of the billings of the office…her word is final.

Confucius say, if water pump does not work on a rainy day…then the management will get pumped by the people. No. He didn’t say that…I just made it up. But if the venerable sage was around, he would certainly say something to the effect.

I don’t understand how this could have possibly happened. Singapore is after all located in the lattitude and longitude of the tropics. It is now the month of October and by all accounts it is very reasonable to expect heavy rains….so why not give the pumps a check to see whether they are working before the rainy season….coming to think of it why not have a fail safe like a water level sensor at the lowest point in the tunnel…this is all very foreseeable.

By even the most forgiving accounts it really should not have happened. But it has along with so many other things that was both foreseeable and should not have been allowed to happen.

To solve the public transportation woes of Singapore what is required in my humble opinion – is invite no nonsense professionals to come in and work alongside SMRT to improve the system. For me there is no shame in saying, I have tried my very best all these years, but I still cannot reach the bar…I hereby raise the white flag and look forward to learning from those who have more experiential knowledge and skills to enhance the quality of my service to the public.

This is what a sound management team would do…after trying and failing again and again….they will never reinforce failure. Only very perculiar people who don’t see the need to check flood mitigation pumps before the rainy season do that.

It is however very shameful to insist everything is well and fine…when everyone knows it to be otherwise.

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‘In my humble opinion SMRT should seriously consider divesting part of their equity to an established Japanese train operator. I believe very strongly such a collobaration can only enhance both quality of service and the commuting satisfaction for most natives.

The reason is very simple. The Japanese are a nation that have a obsessive compulsive fetishness for all things related to trains.

I know as I am in constant communication with the Farmers union in Japan. Most of my customers for shoes that i paint have also shared this with me in some measure of detail. As some of them are themselves unabashed train addicts in their own right. They will buy a ROD metro carriage and put it in their backyard and from time step into it complete with hydraulics to move it up and down with sound system to mimic a train in motion and this is their equivalent of illicit upskirt photos….this is their happy hour lah.

Like that also shiok! Why is it so shiok? That one we don’t need to ask lah…it deserves to be a private matter….some people prefer trains, others leather underwear…that is their pasal…what is pertinent is this illustrates, the Japanese take their trains very very seriously and their extraordinary management of trains is a constant source of immense pride to them that can even transcend an experience of nirvana, that aspect of how they regard trains can be leveraged strategically to successfully transform the culture of SMRT.

Trains are more than just trains in Japan. Most school boys in Japan dream only to drive trains when they grow up. They even have train spotting competitions where participants can rattled off numbers and routes with uncanny accuracy – as for those who don’t make the grade, they don’t mind settling for being near their beloved trains by either working as platform staff or mechanics. So long as they can be near their one and only love…trains…life will continue to yield meaning. This attitude towards trains is uniquely Japanese. Japan is the only nation in the world where it is possible for one to set one’s watch to either the arrival or departure of a train. Their KPI’s are so finely honed, they run into the hundreds per second. Any train that runs a full minute off is considered fail….if it is five minutes late, they will hold a national enquiry…the PM will have to field questions – why is the train late by five whole minutes in the Japanese diet. If it’s one hour late, the emperor will have to appear before TV to restore the heavenly balance between man and machine along with informing the public the sun will rise tomorrow…no, the centre has not caved in….all is well….as it is a national crisis…samurai will also automatically appear with his katana and the CEO on the one hour late train will have to commit seppuku.

This is how seriously the Japanese take their trains…it is my belief, much can be learnt from their zero tolerance to failure traineccentric culture.

So if Japanese train addicts can be allowed to run SMRT I am very sure things can only improve and all our problems will disappear like lemon drops. As the Japanese train addicts will only be happiest obsesssing about how to improve our trains 24/7 – natives will not be able to do this. As only fanatics and people who think about trains all the time and very little else can accomplish this miraculous feat….this is a socially acceptable quirk that is unique and particular to only the Japanese race.

No other race on this planet has been able to successfully elevate train management into anything near theoretical science…..only the Japanese can save SMRT from itself.’

I once knew a ‘get rich quick’ broker who was very Gung Ho to sell a shop lot to a girl who was very naive. When I told this broker not to jack the price and to only offer it at market rate. This man was flabbergasted and even called me an idiot.

This person went to tell me off in an angry tone – what the hell is wrong with you! He even went on to mention, many people have warned me there is something not right with your brain…now you are asking me to reduce the price when the customer is prepared to sign off?

Eventually I asked this broker – who is behind this money? Both you and I know who is standing in front of it. But who is actually behind it? And how will they react to how this girl is treated?

The broker asked, what do I care? I asked again….who is behind this money?

This time he looked so angry that he was about to throw a punch my way. That was when I told this man I wanted out of the deal and didn’t even want any of the profits.

We parted under less than desirable terms with him hurling insults my way.

Eventually the family of the girl found out about the scam….as for the broker he disappear completely from the face of this planet. Some people say he is living on the moon now…..in another world…far faraway from this planet.

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‘Rich people cannot be stupid…even if they appear to be so. And even if they are really stupid the people behind them are most certainly not stupid! Usually they are highly experienced, impeccably educated, sublimely clever and imminently qualified in their field of expertise. So much so they are the very very best that money can buy….so if you think you can get the better out of rich people by pulling a fast one….you best think again…as not only are you incredibly five Chili stupid….but you best not venture into business as you are likely to end up going around in only big and small circles!

Stupid people don’t know this that may be one reason why they are ALWAYS poor.

When I deal with very rich people I always give respect to people and institutions. I am always mindful of this reality and it keeps me so very humble that when I don’t know…I am never afraid to say I don’t know….what I know I perform to the best of my abilities without ever taking short cuts…even if I have to run a loss….if I feel shortchanged I will also not hesitate to kick up a fuss as well.

Thru the years my association with very rich and powerful people have grown from strength to strength as they know that although I am bit weird and awkward around people because of my affliction…autism, but they are always kind and considerate enough to set aside some allowance for my quirks. They all cut me a lot of slack. As they can always be assured that they are dealing with someone who always has their best interest first and foremost….everything else comes after this.

They never have to worry about charlatans, cheats and cheap pirates….not when they deal with me….it is always what it is. No more. No less.

Always bear this in mind if you are genuinely intrested in going places in this world. Because life is indeed very cruel and matter of fact, you will not get many chances to prove yourself to an audience that can move mountains….if in your life time you don’t make these significant opportunities count…they chances are, they will never come again…that is to say, if the really rich and powerful folk don’t even bother to pick up your calls. Then it is very very hard to do big things….you can certainly dream all you want, but all that is likely to happen is a lot of talking, cups after cups of coffee and plenty of energy being spent, but because the clever money is no where to be seen around you…you will never be able to get big things done.

This is what I always tell incredibly stupid people who think they can turn a quick buck by pulling the wool over the eyes of rich folk!

Who the hell are they kidding?’

Yesterday I went down to the mall to stock up on dog chow. Hardly had I begun the weekly ritual to push the trolley down the aisle. The contract Girlfriend ambushed me by standing before the trolley. She had a smug look and asked in a voice of great urgency – Is there life after death?

I happen to know from my resident CIA operative in the same mall. A cleaner auntie, the contract Girlfriend has lately been attending a cult church run my a con man pastor that I had many run in’s with.

So I pretended to mull over the question she asked while asking her to help me load up on the dog chow as she happens to be a big boned girl.

All the while she was quite insistent to know my answer…pestering me no end …..somewhere between the aisle for animal and human food. I turned to her, I know your new pastor has asked you to ask me this question….as since he is convinced I am none other than the devil reincarnate himself. He wants you too to be convinced as well. I could tell I had hit the spot…. as she blinked like spot lights.

Then I told her, the question is not whether there is life after death…as such a question can only be asked by the dead.

This was when the contract Girlfriend jumped on me and exclaimed…aha! But we are alive! And I am asking the question. To which I said, there are many forms of death – don’t think just because you are walking around half naked standing next to cars in the mall and playing around with your smart phone one million times a day….you are necessarily alive….you could very well be experiencing a form of death.

She was visibly shocked when I told her this….so much so, her mouth fell open.

I went to educated the Ah Lian contract Girlfriend. In Africa, the Adomako tribe south of the Niger actually believe there exist at least seven known levels of death….death of the zombie to death in mati definition of Singapore caskets.

By that stage I could tell the brain of the contract Girlfriend was like one of those Samsung phone just about to spontaneously combust…so out of courtesy I shifted my brain to a smaller gear to help her understand.

The question is not whether there is life after death. Rather it can only be this – are you alive or dead now? If you are alive. Then there is no point to ask this sort of nonsensical question…..as it is question that only the dead would ever need to ask. Never the living.

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‘What we regular define as life and death is my opinion too arbitrary. Only because that definition presupposes that when one is physically alive, one is necessarily living. But the definition of life must go beyond just existence. A vegetable is very much alive….so is my banana tree….but is it just existing or is it really alive?

Look! Observe! If you happen to believe this is just a casual observation about the affairs of life that really only amounts to two cents and no more. Then I urge you to relook it again! As it is dead serious.

Consider this….Husband comes back from home. He is with his wife….but is he really there at all. Look! Observe! You can conduct this experiment in real time in your own living room. Don’t say anything just start from there….and you will see and sense things that you did not previously register….it is as if your eyes and mind is suddenly new and you are witnessing something entirely new.

So when we speak about life, we must include consciousness as well. We cannot speak gainfully about being alive without discussing consciousness. That is not possible if we are to make sense of the question of what is life.

Neither can we speak about life without including purpose either. As a life without purpose is not so different from just existing….a purpose driven life however is very different….one has to be conscious….one has to take responsibility and above all one must be present.’

Red Wing Oxfords 8018

October 7, 2017

Very nice pair of casual shoes.

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‘If you ask me what is the most important aspect of a good shoe. Then I will have to say it is definitely the leather. If you have a shoe that is crafted from first grade leather. Then the stitching, last design and aesthetics may well be only so-so, but it’s still a very good shoe. Because even if you happen to have first class stitching, last design and aesthetics, but it’s constructed out of crappy leather – then it would never wear well with time. It would only look good for a while and after that it’s downhill all the way. But if you start off with really good leather, then it can really only get better with age.

So to me the most important aspect about a shoe is always the quality of the leather and very little else.

I happen to think Red Wing manufactures rather staid and dated shoes using very old fashioned last which are neither very comfortable on the feet at first or even sympathetic to those who like their shoes to have sexy lines.

Red wings frequently require longer than usual breaking in…as far as the stitch quality is concern quality and attention to derail is so-so. As for their sizing, they’re completely out. So out that at times they run a full size out that simply means if you regularly wear a size 8, the chances are you might have to settle for a size 7 when it comes to fitting in a new pair of red wings. They’re like that. And they are unlikely to change

But the leather on all the heritage range of red wing shoes is quite exceptional. As red wing is only really half the story. The other is SB foot tanning Co that supplies red wing with hides, that goes right back to the 1800’s and since they still use one of the most time and labor consuming processes that ensures the highest level of unmatched quality when it comes to leather…that guarantees a shoe of exceptional value that is hard if impossible to match for its price range.

It is not easy to get this maize yellow finish on leather…it only seems easy.

Disclosure: This blog operates under an ultra strict policy against receiving any monies, donations or free products from the market to find its way into any product review or commentary on various objects of authorship.

The author is simply someone who once worked in the shoe and tanning industry to put himself thru university and is a keen appreciator of how things are put together.

Some years back ago I came across a knot of very loud environmentalist who kept insisting this and that had to change for people and planet to be saved.

So I asked the leader of this group, tell me who are the people who have the power to change all these things…and he replied the politicians of course. Then I asked again….who are the people who have the power to change all these things. This time the leader got very angry with me and raised his voice, ‘I told you the politicians!’

To which I asked again for the third time, tell me who are the people who have the power to change all these things?

By the third time he ignored what appeared to be my question….but I wasn’t really asking a question as much as making a statement of fact.

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‘I think if you really want to make the world a better place. You can’t just wear T shirt that everyone is wearing and just go where they are all heading to….that is very very dangerous idea.

A better place to begin is to first strive to understand how it got so rotten in the first place and most importantly who is responsible for creating this mess. And if possible even ferret out the motive.

It’s a bit like any fruit that you may choose to pick up in NTUC only to bring it back home and bung it in the fridge to be eventually end up in your stomach. It seems like something that has always been there since the beginning of time.

But how can it be. Think about it…fruit needs to be grown commercially and that means thousands of hectares and workers are involved to push and pull that juggernaut supply chain that millions of people depend on to put food on the table just like you. Where there is so much land to grow food, there also to be an oligrachy of landowners along with merchants and within that network of trade and commerce that also has to be a hegemony to perpetuate the status quo. Let’s not even mention the vested and competing interest and all that can only lead to politics in one shape or form ….OK, let’s give it a go…if you like ….and where there is politics, there has to plenty of intrigues, hidden agendas and every other conceivable means to translate goals into reality on the sly and all this are like individual spokes in a wheel that all converge on the hub of power.

That is what you hold in your hand…it is just not a fruit…it’s a metaphor of a very complex construct.

Do you now see how the politician cannot possibly control anything at all. The best he can hope to do is project the illusion that he is in control…that he can make things better…and if the politician does not have the capacity to effect change…this should prompt one to ask further – who then controls enough of the chess pieces on the board to make the decisive moves to change things?

All these questions can be seen in a simple fruit in the very palm of your hands…no it is not a simple thing….it only seems that way. It is very complicated.

I don’t imagine you will see a fruit or a cup of coffee…in the same way that you have always seen it again….no that is not possible when you have secret knowledge to see what is actually happening behind the curtains.

Yes….it is very complicated…isn’t it?’