Saturday, August 30, 2008

Unveiled on Saturday

On Saturday, China's new highest building was unveiled in Shanghai. "Unveiled" is perhaps a misnomer... we've been watching the Shanghai World Financial Centre rise high above the rest of the skyline for well over a year now. It is a 101-storey, 492-metre tall monster of a building. The Park Hyatt Hotel sits on the 79th to 93rd floors of this huge building, making it the world's highest hotel. The building's top sits high above Jin Mao, formerly Shanghai's highest building, proudly obstructing the view from that beautifully artistic, well-built structure.

Before the Shanghai World Financial Centre was "unveiled" this past weekend, during the early stages of its construction, it created something of a stir. The hole at the top of the building is not in the shape originally planned for it. In the early days of the building's planning and design, the idea was to make the hole in the shape of a circle, but that idea was cut down by the local government. The circle was too close to the rising sun of Japan's flag, and the building was funded by a Japanese company.... and there is no way in the world that Shanghai wants to have the Japanese flag flying above the city. In order for plans to continue, the shape was changed to accommodate China's demands, replacing it with a more politically sensitive trapezoid. It has ended up making the building resemble an oversized bottle opener, but that is certainly better than the insensitivity of a rising sun over Shanghainese soil.

The Shanghai World Financial Centre is visible from many parts of Shanghai, often peeping out over the tops of other structures in the city. It is easily viewed from many spots within the compound of the Yu Gardens, showing its modern facade towering above the more traditional buildings that make up the complex around the city's oldest private garden. The tower is, frankly, not as attractive or well-planned as Jin Mao. For many who love the city, this makes it a bit sad to see Jin Mao "dethroned" (indeed, dwarfed) as Shanghai's tallest building. The sloppy planning of the building (its construction was delayed early on because of a lack of funding) has made it the butt of many jokes. But, one way or another, it is done now, and open to the public.

Shanghai is an ever-changing city, with new structures coming up all the time. It can be very fun to watch the buildings rising up out of the ground until they dominate the skyline. A year ago, I took some friends to the Bund, and one asked me, "What's that building?" My Shanghainese friends and I looked at one another and said, "Was that here last time we came?" Looking back at photos, we realized it was not there on our previous visits... and it had only been a matter of months since we'd last been to the Bund. The city just changes that quickly.

Some changes are easier to swallow than others. When the Oriental Pearl TV Tower was built, it was something of a laughingstock too. It stood out as a lonely eyesore on the Pudong side of the Huangpu River for several years. Since then, many buildings have grown up around it, and it has blended nicely into the skyline there, becoming a notable landmark of the city. Perhaps the new World Financial Centre will work out that same way, but somehow its early history is not looking very promising. But here it is at last, open to the public, and standing head and shoulders above all the buildings around it.

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Friday, August 29, 2008

The Color Purple onstage in Houston

September 16-28
Sarofim Hall
Houston TX
Showtime: 8 pm (7:30 pm on Sundays), 2 pm for matinee
tickets can be purchased online

The Color Purple is an excellent novel. I love reading and teaching it. The movie is somewhat less to my taste. As for the musical onstage.... I can't quite imagine how it would work. But it is going to be in Houston, and perhaps it will be better than what my limited imagination enables me to expect from it.

One way or another, Walker's novel is outstanding, and any adaptation surely must be worth seeing.

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Thursday, August 28, 2008

Cyberview Lodge Resort & Spa

There are lots and lots of very nice spa retreats in Malaysia. I don't know of any that can beat Cyberview Lodge Resort & Spa, which just happens to be the locale from which I am posting this entry.

I am relaxing in a huge spacious 5-star room, and have gotten an incredible deal on it. The present promotion ends soon (it is only valid for August 2008), but there is another coming up soon. The Ramadan offer has rooms in a Deluxe Chalet at RM398 (2 persons). These very spacious rooms are equipped with either a king size bed, or 2 twins. Extra beds can be had at RM40. The cost includes either a buffet or Sahur breakfast, and a Ramadan Buka Puasa Buffet (for breaking fast in the evening).

The normal prices for the rooms are about double what you see here, so this is a very, very good offer. The facilities are certainly worth the price, and the service is top-notch. When it is not Ramadan (like now), the meals are a large spread of an excellent buffet, offering both Asian and Western food. I imagine the Ramadan buffet for breaking fast should be even more extensive.

The Cyberview Lodge is located in Cyberjaya, very near the KL airport. It overlooks the lake surrounding the administrative buildings at Putrajaya. The big bridge there is visible from some parts of the lodge, and is just a short drive away. There are plenty of activities, with the spa (of course) being the main thing to do here. The swimming pool is excellent, and there are also bicycles for rent, tennis and basketball courts, and plenty of spots for nice walks where one can enjoy the scenic views.

Travel in Malaysia is always fun, and one of the main attractions for many Singaporeans (and other foreigners too) is the affordable rates you will find on top-notch accommodations like Cyberview Lodge. It is definitely worth the stop.

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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Ongoing Events at Singapore Botanic Gardens

The Singapore Botanic Gardens are a favorite spot for visitors to Singapore. The recent renovations have left the place looking very nice.

At the Singapore Botanic Gardens, there is a regular programme of ongoing activities. You can have a look here and make your plans for what fits your schedule.

*1st Saturday of Every Month
- Edible and Medicinal Plants Tour
Venue: Register at Visitor Centre
Time: 9 am and 10 am
Contact: Visitor Services (6471 7361)

*1st Saturday of Every Month
- Rainforest Tour (Japanese)
Venue: Register at Visitor Centre
Time: 10 am
Contact: Visitor Services (6471 7361)

*3rd Saturday of Every Month
- National Orchid Garden Tour (Mandarin)
Venue: Register at Visitor Centre
Time: 4pm
Contact: Visitor Services (6471 7361)

*2nd Saturday of Every Month
- Rainforest Tour (English)
Venue: Register at Visitor Centre
Time: 9 am, 10 am, 11 am and 4 pm
Contact: Visitor Services (6471 7361)

*2nd Saturday of Every Month
- Rainforest Tour (Mandarin)
Venue: Register at Visitor Centre
Time: 4 pm
Contact: Visitor Services (6471 7361)

*4th Saturday of Every Month
- Evolution Garden Tour (English)
Venue: Register at Visitor Centre
Time: 9 am (Please not that there will be no tour on 23 Feb 2008)
Contact: Visitor Services (6471 7361)

*1st Sunday of every month
- Orchid For Sale
Venue: Library Courtyard at Botany Centre, Tanglin Core
Time: 8am - 6pm
Contact: Visitor Services (6471 7361)

*4th Saturday of Every Month
- Evolution Garden Tour (Mandarin)
Venue: Register at Visitor Centre
Time: 4 pm
Contact: Visitor Services (6471 7361)

*3rd Saturday of Every Month
- National Orchid Garden Tour (English)
Venue: Register at Visitor Centre
Time: 9 am, 10 am, 11 am and 4 pm
Contact: Visitor Services (6471 7361)

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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Fire Fives

Fire Fives is coming up at the National University of Singapore's University Cultural Centre on 26 to 27 September, 2008. It will showcase several pieces performed by Singapore Dance Theatre. Tickets start at $41 and can be purchased from Sistic.

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Monday, August 25, 2008

SpiceRoads Tours

For the ultimate cycling tours in Southeast Asia, you just have to book your trip with SpiceRoads. Located in Bangkok, they operate tours mostly in Thailand, Malaysia, and Vietnam. The package for the Peninsular Malaysia tour looks like a very well-rounded trip. It gives you the opportunity to see the big city, and also to get out into the wilder areas between KL and Penang. There is time allowed in the schedule for touring around some of the stops, especially Langkawi, Penang, and Cameron Highlands, three of the favorite spots for visitors to Malaysia.

I haven't yet gotten to join one of SpiceRoads packages, but it looks very, very enticing. The Malaysian trip has just made it onto my "must do soon" list. I only recently discovered Spice Tours, and the reviews it has gotten look promising. They get many repeat customers, which is always a good sign.

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Saturday, August 23, 2008

Nice Spruced Up Facade, but...

I don't normally like to complain about places I have been, but choose instead to enjoy it while I am there for the experience it brings.

I do, however, feel like I have should report when service is really bad, like what I saw last night when getting dinner.

The coffee shop at Block 166 in Woodlands has recently been renovated, and is all spruced up and pretty to look at. I was overseas when the work was completed and normal operations reopened. The first thing I heard from friends when I got back was that it was more expensive, and that the only improvement was the prettier facilities. The place had been renovated not long before, and was not really in serious need of the sprucing up. After all, who really goes to a coffee shop for the ambience?

I had already visited several stalls at the coffee shop over the past month or so, but had not yet ordered from the "zi cha" stall since it had been revamped. Last night I was in a bit of a hurry, needing to pick up food for everyone at home, and grab a quick bite for myself before heading out to class. I ordered the food to take home, and a quick plate of noodles for myself to wolf down while I waited for the order to be ready. Here's a translation of my conversation with the stall manager while ordering my noodles:

Me: A plate of fried bee hoon, dry, to eat here while I wait.

Him: Fried bee hoon?

Me: Yeah, dry.

Him: You mean cooked like hor fun, but using bee hoon? Something like that?

Me: No, no, no. Not the wet type noodles, but dry. Fried bee hoon, dry.

Him: OK, OK, I know already.

I'm sure you can guess. It was bee hoon cooked like hor fun (something like that) that was brought to my table... and of course not by the fellow who took my order.

I waited for the man to notice, then called him over. Here's that conversation (again, translated):

Me: This isn't dry.

Him: It's fried bee hoon. That's what you ordered.

Me: I said very clearly I wanted dry bee hoon, not the wet type, and I said it several times.

Him: Well, anyway, this one is nicer.

Me: Nicer? It isn't what I ordered.

Him: Never mind lah.

Me: So you're saying you're not going to do anything about it.

Him: Yeah. Thanks.

OK, this fellow is new here, and he might not realize yet that I am a permanent fixture in the neighbourhood, and not just someone passing through. Maybe. (Even though he has seen me an awful lot over the past few weeks, even stopping to disturb my 2 nephews a couple of times. And anyway, all I have to do is open my mouth and people usually know I am not new around here.) One way or another, I am a regular here. I know that the stall he is replacing had really good food at good prices, and that I often took guests there to eat. And I know equally well that the "zi cha" stall at Block 167, directly opposite the coffee shop where he is working, has had excellent food, excellent prices, and excellent service for the past 15+ years that I have been eating there. It's not like I will ever be in a situation where I have no choice bu to eat at this fellow's stall again.

Furthermore, if the wet type of bee hoon really was better than the type I ordered, then the whole menu must be rather disappointing. It was overpriced, and not good at all.

Usually when I don't like the food or service at some spot I've visited, I just don't go back. This new guy's attitude, though, was worth posting about and warning other potential customers: don't be fooled by the pretty facade. The food and prices at the "zi cha" stall at Block 166 in Woodlands are not good. Especially beware if you are one of the tourists staying in Hostel 166. This is the nearest coffee shop to the hostel, so don't get caught with the bad service there. It's worth crossing the road to go to Block 167 and eat. Or, if you do eat at 166, avoid this stall (it's the one with the big "Seafood" label along the top, in case you don't know what the "zi cha" stall is).

Just a word of advice.

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Friday, August 22, 2008

Nice When Things are Settled...

It's a nice feeling when your responsibilities are settled and you can really start looking forward to your holiday. Classes wrapped up tonight. Tickets are in hand. Accommodations booked. It's now "Malaysia, here we come!"

Just let me pack tomorrow...
And change money...
And dig out my Lonely Planet to plan those last few days of the trip...
And figure out where we will go to rent the car...
And pick up a few last minute things....


It would be nice if everything was settled so I could really start looking forward to the trip.

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Thursday, August 21, 2008

Turn Around

I was just reading a post at Sun Singer travels where the idea was raised that we often get so absorbed in the mighty and majestic things that we forget to look at the small bits of beauty that sit all around us. In this case, Malcolm mentioned that the view of the waterfall in Glacier National Park is so dominating, so awe-inspiring, that most who travel there fail to turn back and look at the valley behind them. If they would just turn around, though, they would get a magnificent view of a valley covered in bright flowers.

This reminds me of walking through a Chinese garden. Chinese gardens are laid out in such a way that various elements are framed for the viewer. As you walk through, you will be treated to the views the garden's architect has planned for you. One of the secrets when strolling through the garden is to remember to turn around. The very same things you've already seen have been reframed for you to appreciate in a different way if you just remember to turn around and look. As you seek out new elements in the garden to appreciate, you are at the same time offered the chance to enjoy the old things in new ways.

That's what I call creative planning.

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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

A Traveler's Literary Companion

I was given a book from A Traveler's Literary Companion series, this one being a guide to Ireland. It isn't a typical guide book, with maps, where to stay, where to shop, and where to eat sections. Instead, this introduces the country through it's great writers. The guide to Ireland (of course) begins with James Joyce and carries on from there. It includes most of the names you might look for in fiction, but does not include poetry or drama (pity, because there's lots of good work from Ireland in both genres).

This is just the sort of book I love. (What traveling bibliophile wouldn't?) Fortunately, it comes in a series, so there are plenty more to read. Other locales featured in the series include Amsterdam, Spain, Australia, Chile, Israel, Japan, Mexico, Vietnam, and many others. It's a fun way to view a place, even if you don't have immediate plans to walk on its soil.

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Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Hooray! A new cycling path

It looks like it will be done soon — a new cycling path near my home!

It is strange because work began on this path without any announcement. I mean, sure, there is the long-discussed plan of connecting the whole island via a network of cycling paths. The East has long been ahead of the game with a more extensive set of cycling paths than any other part of the island. Of course it is natural that we here in the North will eventually catch up. And I've known this for a long time, but still....

...they really never said a word about this. One day nothing, and next day they were hacking up the section of grass beside the pavement. And the drains.

I think — and I am just guessing here — that this is where the secret behind our suddenly-laid cycling path lies. Alongside the road and the sidewalks in my neighbourhood lies a series of open drains. And it just so happens that there seems to have been an outbreak of dengue fever here in recent months. And next thing, what do you know... new pipes are installed, the open drains filled up, and a black-topped cycling path is there to cover the mess made by the hacking.

I am glad to see the dengue situation addressed, and glad that it is this serendipitous outcome for me.

Now I am just waiting for the day when our cycling paths here are connected to the other parts of Singapore!

(And I didn't realize until writing this post just how often I write about cycling here!!!

Speaking of.... did you see silken's new bike?)

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Monday, August 18, 2008

Taking the Train

When we start our journey to Malaysia this coming weekend, we've decided to delay the road trip a bit, and see part of the country by train first. We'll do the bit from here to Seremban via train, stay with friends there overnight, and then travel with them to Fraser's Hill. After a couple of nights there, we'll find a car rental spot somewhere along the way and continue along with our road trip, as planned.

We haven't planned yet whether our trip will be to the beach, to the jungle, or some quiet resort or another. But one way or another, we know we are bound to have a good time.

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Sunday, August 17, 2008

Beauty in the Blogosphere

Montana Outdoors keeps one of the most beautiful blogs in cyberspace. His photos are stunning, and his prose is equal to the images he posts there.

This man knows the outdoors. He knows Montana. And he does a beautiful job of sharing that with his readers.

Stop in and have a look. It will make you feel like you've taken a little journey, even if you never venture away from your screen.

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Saturday, August 16, 2008

Commonwealth Link

Tonight some friends introduced me to the strip of shops on Commonwealth Link in Singapore. There are many coffee shops in the area, with lots of shops and stalls to walk through after dinner. With ample parking spaces, it makes for a really nice place to go and find a spot for dinner on the weekend.

For our dinner, we went to the little coffee shop on the corner. The fish was good, as was the honey almond pork. I think the favorites for the night were the cereal prawns and the cockles. I liked both, and couldn't choose a favorite between those two, but most of the others said one or the other of those two was the best dish.

We had a nice walk around the neighborhood after dinner, and the kids especially enjoyed playing. It's a nice spot to spend the evening on the weekend, especially because it is good food, and yet not overly crowded.

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Thursday, August 14, 2008

Frost/Nixon coming to Houston

I was just reading on silken's blog (one of the many!) about the play that is coming to Houston in October entitled Frost/Nixon. It looks like an interesting show about the events following Watergate.

The show will be October 24 - November 2, 2008, 8:00 pm (7:30 pm on Sundays, 2:00 pm for matinees), at Sarofim Hall. You can buy tickets here.

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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Road Trip to Malaysia

It used to be a fairly regular part of my schedule that I would plan a road trip to Malaysia now and again. Whether traveling along the east coast or west, or even across that amazing East-West Highway through the jungle along the Thai border, a road trip in Malaysia is always fun.

But due to my frequent travel to Shanghai in recent years, along with other events, I haven't been able to take a Malaysian road tour in some time. That will change next weekend, though, when a group of 7-8 of us rent a vehicle and head up to Fraser's Hill, a place I haven't been to in nearly 20 years now. While there, we'll meet some Malaysian friends, spend a couple of days together, and then take a winding route back home.

Looks like it will be lots of fun!

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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

For Golfers in Singapore

The short answer to the question "where can I find affordable gold in Singapore?" is pretty easy — you can't.

But that doesn't mean that golfing is out of the question for those golfers in Singapore who don't have a goose that lays golden eggs. One good alternative that many golfers here go for is to travel across the Causeway to JB. There are plenty of passable courses, and the difference in price is hard to believe.

One spot you might want to check out is Daiman 18. It is not far from Singapore, and you can play for as little as RM70 for 18 holes (RM40 for 9). That is a much better price than what you will find for comparable courses in Singapore.

One of the tricks that long-timers in Singapore discover is that "the good life" doesn't have to be out of reach, even for those with a moderate income. There are always ways to enjoy one's favorite hobbies. Sometimes it just requires going about it in a slightly different way.

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Monday, August 11, 2008

Singapore's Tao Li

This morning at 10:24 am, many TVs in Singapore were tuned in to watch the Olympics. Singapore's Tao Li was competing in the 100m butterfly finals.

She came in fifth, and made Singaporeans proud. It is hard for a nation whose population would make it nothing more than a small-scale city if it were located in countries like China to compete with other nations that have massive populations from which to raise up athletes. But today Tao Li did a nice job of representing Singapore on the world stage.

I'm with all those who would like to say thanks to Tao Li for representing Singapore well.

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Saturday, August 09, 2008

National Day at East Coast Park

On Saturday afternoon, East Coast Park is not where I usually like to hang out. It is too crowded to do anything really fun, so I tend to avoid the place on the weekend.

I was there today however — not only Saturday, but a public holiday. (And I went without the bike today, since it was such a big crowd of us traveling together.) It turned out to be a really good day, with picture-perfect weather for most of the afternoon. Just about the time we were done playing on the beach, the weather took a turn for the worst, though, and it rained very heavily.

That was a perfect excuse to duck into the little Turkish restaurant that sits along the strip of eateries near the bowling alley. (That's the spot where McDonald's is.) It was good food, and we had a lot of fun trying new dishes there.

East Coast is always popular, and I suppose there's a good reason that is so. The water is good, the sand is fine, and the park itself is so green and beautiful. With all the good food around, it really is a great place to spend a day.

And today being National Day, it was actually less crowded than most Saturday afternoons — so said one of our party who doesn't have my Saturday-at-East-Coast aversion.

That said, it was more than crowded enough for me!

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Friday, August 08, 2008

The Bird's Nest

There was some criticism about the appearance of the Olympic Stadium in Beijing during its construction, but during last night's opening ceremony, didn't it prove to be a design that works? It was a magnificent display.

I was just watching the rebroadcast of the opening ceremony, and the construction of the stadium to allow for fireworks to shoot out of the sides like they did was really well thought out. The visuals of the whole show of during the opening ceremony were quite fantastic.

Well done, China! You've put on an impressive display!

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Did you see the massive amounts of fireworks shooting out of the Olympic Stadium in Beijing as the opening ceremony began to draw to a close? Wow!!! That was a spectacular sight!

What a way to build up to the lighting of the torch.

I didn't get to watch all of the opening ceremony, as I had a lecture scheduled tonight, but what I have seen has been a fantastic show.

It is going to be fun to watch the games over the next few weeks. The excitement all over China with this event is great. It is always fun to see the feats of the athletes who participate, but somehow this year it is really special to watch it taking place on Chinese soil for the first time.

I hope the following few weeks continue in the manner this opening ceremony has so far. It promises to be quite an event!

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Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Singapore National Day Parade

It's nearly here — Singapore's National Day Parade.

On Saturday, we will observe Singapore's National Day, marking the day of the nation's birth. This is the 43rd National Day for this still-young country.

The National Day Parade is always a big event in the island state, and it is quite difficult to get tickets. But it is possible to hang out downtown and see some of the grander events (fireworks, fighter jets flying overhead... things like that). Last year, I spent National Day at Sentosa, and even at that distance, we were able to see a good portion of the sky-bound parts of the National Day Parade.

It will be interesting to see if the television viewership is down this year, with the Olympics newly underway on that day. I feel pretty confident that there will be plenty of attention in Singapore focused on our local festivities.

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Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Budget Travel video

I always love to save a few bucks while on the road, so I got a kick out of this video clip

Nice to pick up some different ideas!

My favorite money-saving method has always been to do a little research before I start my trip and find out where the locals eat. If you do that, it usually saves a fair bit of money, and also means you'll get better food. After all, isn't it the locals who are bound to know what's good in the area?

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Holiday Rentals in Spain

When I travel, I always prefer to find my own self-catering accommodations. So a company that offers the best holiday rentals is sure to be just the thing for me. With the accommodations you'll find here, you rent directly from the owner, and you'll have a cozy, homey environment for your trip to Spain.

If you're on the lookout for tranquil villas in Orba, or Balsicas holiday apartments, you'll find just what you are looking for at the site.

And of course, you know me.... I always love a good cycling trip. Something like challenging cycling in Sierra Espuna or cycling in Murcia would do just fine for me! The Segura river valley looks like a very idyllic spot, and the easy-going atmosphere of the city of Murcia would be a perfect place to unwind after a long day on the road. And would could be better than unwinding in a private, cozy home at the end of a well-spent day?

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Inheritance Advancements?

A probate cash advance is not a loan. Instead, it is an advance on an inheritance that the heirs can use. It is interest fee, and requires no repayment schedule at all.

The probate cash advance is only assigned based on the heir's portion of the inheritance, not on the estate as a whole. That means it has no impact on the other heirs to the estate. It is useful in several different circumstance. It might be that the heir is cash-strapped and needs the assets relatively fast. That would be a situation where a probate cash advance might be helpful. Or, perhaps the estate's funds are tied up in maintaining real property, but lacking liquid assets. In a circumstance like this, a probate cash advance might also be desirable for the heir.

In these or similar situations, it is a good idea to check out the Inheritance Funding Company. They can help you consider your options, and decide what is best in your situation.

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There are an unprecedented number of environmental concerns in this day and age. It seems that we can barely keep our heads above water when it comes to keeping our environment as safe as it is high-tech.

That's where acid free storage solutions from Sierra Box Company come in. Sierra provides recyclable material that is durable and versatile. Its corrugated plastic boxes outperform the competition, providing a clean, environmentally friendly storage solution for a wide variety of needs.

It is nice to see someone looking out for the needs of the environment, and the more our technology and know-how expands, the more we will need to consider the long-term implications of progress. It's this need that makes Sierra Box Company so cutting edge.

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There are all sorts of necessary equipment to run an effective lab operation. One of the big issues in many laboratory environments is keeping specimens at a consistent temperature. Whether that means a heating dry bath or a proper chilling storage space, the need is one that must be met with proper equipment.

Here where I live, on a tropical (hot!!!) island, it is never easy to keep things at the proper temperature. Even items for daily use can suffer unpleasant effects from the terrible heat and humidity. Keeping a lab up to standard is made doubly difficult in extreme environments. The good equipment provided by Torrey Pines Scientific takes all the most extreme conditions and a wide range of needs into consideration, and only offers top-notch equipment.

You can contact Torry Pines Scientific here:
1780 La Costa Meadows Drive, #101
San Marcos, CA 92078

Toll Free in the USA (866) 573-9104
Phone: (760) 471-9100
Fax: (760) 471-9310
Contact Us

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Monday, August 04, 2008

If You Happen to Let Your Driving License Expire....

If you happen to let your driving license expire, well.... you are in good company. I say that, of course, assuming that you think me good company. A safe enough assumption, I hope, since you are here visiting at my place.

So. I've been living in Singapore for 15 years, and have had a driving license all that time. I was lucky enough to relocate to Singapore back in the old days, when all you had to do was pay for a license in order to convert yours from your own country. Nowadays, foreigners have to take the highway code test, and I have heard it can be tricky. (Though I know that many people have no real trouble with it, as long as they read up in advance.)

The bad news for foreigners doesn't end there. If you aren't a PR, you have to renew your license every 5 years (it's lifetime for citizens, and PRs too, I think.) That'll only cost you $50 for the 5 years (the same price as the lifetime license for locals!). The trick, though, is that the Singapore Traffic Police Force has stopped sending notices out when the time comes to renew the license. I wasn't aware of this change. And my license actually expired in June.

I managed today to make the trip to Ubi to get the matter taken care of. The staff there is very polite and helpful, and there was no problem with my having missed the expiry date. Apparently there is a fairly long grace period (I heard it might be up to 3 years, but I wouldn't want to test that limit!) Today, my license was renewed, no questions asked. It's just a matter of waiting in a bit of a queue and filling up some paper work.

And, of course... paying a fee.

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Friday, August 01, 2008

Ice Skating in the Tropics

Isn't it great to be living in the age that we do. No matter that Singapore sits just a few degrees off the equator; even so, it is possible to go ice skating in Singapore.

At Jurong Entertainment Centre, opposite the Jurong MRT Station, you can go ice skating at the rink on the 3rd floor. It costs about $15 for kids to skate for 2 hours, once you count in the taxes, shoes, and all that. The rink is a pretty good one, and the kids always enjoy themselves. There are some very good skaters there, with plenty of coaches for those who would like lessons.

Sadly, I heard today that the place will be torn down in October. Not only will the skating rink be gone, but the whole building will be demolished to make way for an Olympic sized rink, planning for the Junior Olympic Games.

I'll be sad to see Jurong Entertainment Centre go. It will, though, be fun to watch the progress and see what takes its place in the future.

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