The Little Princes

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Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Chinese New Year 2006

The Mondo Koosh which I ordered arrived before the Chinese New Year Holidays, I'm surprised! It's not as big as I thought it would be, and not as squishy as the regular Koosh Balls. The best thing about it is it's amazingly bright rainbow colouration and the way the rainbow coloured rubber bands tickle your hand as you grab it! General_

Eve (除夕)
Cleared up most of the regular housework except the washing so that we can "enjoy" the coming holidays. There were 2 sessions of re-union dinners.

Left: 7pm - Dinner at In-Laws'; Right: 9pm - Dinner at Dad's.

1st Day (年初一)
Traditionally, the first day of the Lunar New Year is for visiting the male side of the family. But since Singapore is so small and distances are so short, it doesn't really matter who visits who first. Anyway, there was a whole lot of visiting today, was out from 1100-2359.

Left: Mahjong at Evon's; Centre: Home made Nasi Lemak; Right: Sparklers!

2nd Day (年初二)
The second day is usually reserved for visiting the female side of the family (a.k.a. 回娘家). Since most of it was done yesterday, there was a bit of extra time for some chores, like keeping (getting swamped by) the laundry ...

The afternoon was more visiting. But before that, we recharged our batteries with some nice home made Dumpling Soup (水饺汤)!

Left: Dumpling Soup; Right: What's Inside

3rd Day (年初三)
Time really flies, it is the end of the third day now and tomorrow is back to work. *sigh* But anyways, we managed to squeeze in another round of tossing of the Raw Fish Salad before lunch. This particular one was not home made but tasted real good! Its from the Coffeshop/Restaurant near Phoenix Heights along Choa Chu Kang Road. Cheap and Good, Highly Recommended!

Left: Raw Fish Salad Tossing; Right: Lunch

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Sleepless in Singapore ...

Its coming to 4 am now. Couldn't fall asleep so decided to do some blogging, maybe it would help.

Anyway, the past weekend wasn't particularly peaceful.

Saturday started alright with lunch at one of our favourite haunts for Soy Sauce Chicken Noodles. The stretch of shophouses along Upper Cross Street had a couple of them, some were setup because of sibling rivalry. General_

Then, unfortunately, had to pull an all nighter from Saturday late afternoon till early Sunday morning to fix a problem with a critical system at a customer's site.

*Sianz 1/2*

Fortunately, there was some reprieve after 5 hours of sleep plus 2 hours of housework on Sunday. Dinner was at my cousin's place and we had our first session of Raw Fish Salad (鱼生) tossing this year. Ours was completely home made. If you want to know the recipe, I can only give you Martin Yan's version. The plate was huge and there was more than enough for everybody.

Oh I almost forgot, and it was also my nieces' birthday too. Happy Birthday Selene!

It is now 4:45 am, looks like I'm going to be a zombie tomorrow ...

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Age 35 (Continued)

The Chinese believe in the tradition of eating "longevity noodles" on one's birthday. So for lunch, I had a bowl of Pig's Organ Soup with a special order of Mee Sua added to it. Works very well for me!

Another tradition is for the birthday person to draw some lucky numbers for the lottery. Over here, we call it 4D (i.e. 4 Digits, duh!) A quick shuffle of the improvised lottery number picker and we're off to the betting station.

Dinner was pretty early. Tony Roma's (Suntec) was pretty quiet at 6pm. Managed to get good seats in a private corner next to the window where we can eat and watch Koi at the same time. We ordered the Ultimate Sampler for S$38 (think its on offer till 31 Jan 2006) together with a bowl of French Onion Soup for me. General_

The Sampler was huge even by my standards; Potato Skins, Mozzarella Sticks, Fire Wings and ribs in Original (Babyback), Carolina Honeys, Blue Ridge Smokies and Red Hots sauces. Unfortunately, wifey was not a very big eater so I had to bring out the inner carnivore in me to devour approximately 75% of whatever's on that plate.

Detox! Detox!

Can't help but feel a bit short changed on one of the Fire Wing Drumlets ... :-)

Age 35

The birthday messages started coming in on my mobile this morning. Thanks! Another year older, what does it mean?

Well, the average life expectancy of the Singaporean male born today is 77.4. However, those born in 1971 should (statistically) have a lower figure. Based on this chart, the figure seems to be somewhere below the 60 mark! But optimistically, if I use 77.4, (Hah, who am I kidding!) it means I have only used up 45.21% of my "quota". It's still less than half way through so I guess this calls for a celebration.

Anyway, this reminds me of a debate we (a couple of colleages) had a few days ago in the car on the way to lunch. The basic conclusion was to live each day to the fullest (Of course, with moderation so that you can do it for many more days). Why? Because statistics are based on averages, and you never really know when your time is up.

So its off Tony Roma's for tonite! General_

With all this talk about living life each day to the fullest, KC if you are reading this, we are still waiting for your Blog ...

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

What the !@#$%!

OMG, this guy should be shot for doing THIS to a poor helpless Koosh Ball!! General_

Monday, January 16, 2006

Digital Photo Noise Reduction Tip

For those who are using cameras which tend to produce noisy pictures (especially at high ISOs), you can try NeatImage. NeatImage significantly reduces noise and is able to provide some sharpening of your pictures. The Demo version is good enough for most home users.

I have attached 2 pictures of the guppy fry taken at ISO 200 with the Ricoh R3 (which is known to be noisy). The images are cropped and uploaded at original resolution. Compare the before and after. Photography_

Sunday, January 15, 2006

The Little Survivor

This tough little guy/gal (Edited for gender un-bias) was discovered this afternoon while I was changing the filter media! Nearly missed him/her as he/she is almost the same colour as the dirty media. Managed to siphon him/her out and now he/she is with his guppy foster brothers and sisters.

Didn't notice any of the fishes being pregnant so I can't really tell what he/she is, but he/she is probably the sole survivor from either a swordtail or platy brood (the rest must have been eaten up). The last filter change was 2 weeks ago. Judging by his/her size, he/she must have been in the filter for quite a while! Fish_

Image Hosting

Spent the afternoon searching for a good way to host photos for this blog. The photo storage limit imposed by Blogger is 300MB. Although this is quite substantial, it would run out sooner or later. The free alternatives (yeah I'm a cheapo!) are to use either Fotki or Flickr for hosting of the image files. Each of these services have their advantages and limitations:

Fotki Free - Unlimited storage and uploads, but max image size for public viewing is 500x375.

Flickr Free - Unlimited storage but has upload limit of 20MB per month. Good thing is that max image size for public viewing is 1024x768.

Since I resize most of my blog images to 640x480 or 800x600, I've decided to store them in Flickr and Large Photo Galleries in Fotki. Please feedback if you have problems viewing images in this
Blog or the Photo Gallery! Technology_

Traditional Chinese New Year Shopping

Yesterday was all about traditional Chinese New Year (CNY) shopping with the in-laws. We made the annual trip down to Hong Kong Street for dried goods to be used / given away. This usually quiet street will be full of activity during these few weeks before CNY.

The purchase list this year included the usual stuff like Dried Mushrooms, Dried Scallops, Dried Cuttlefish, Red Dates, Dried Oysters, Waxed Meats and Chinese Liver Sausages.

Even the local pigeons had a field day with pickings from loading and unloading of the goods. General_

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Colon, close bracket ... :)

Talk about smiling feet! These were shuffling round the house everyday for the past week due to the rainy "cold" weather ... General_

Aquaria Update

The black neon tetras (Hyphessobrycon herbertaxelrodi) seems to be getting fatter. Soon they will have to be called "fatras". This is the largest one in the school of 15.

Recently added a pair of these nice looking killifishes. They look like mini arowanas. The name at the shop suggested that they are Golden Panchaxes (Pachypanchax playfairii). A search on the web and reference books showed that there is another similar species called Aplocheilus lineatus.

These "tyre tracks" show that the algae-eaters have been hard at work at night!

The elodea (Egeria/Elodea densa) which was added to the tank also grew at an amazing rate. The picture above shows the almost 5cm increase in the height of the plant within 24 hours! The riccia (Riccia fluitans) was also doing quite well. Hope to harvest enough to create another carpet.

The baby guppies are currently being fed with Liquifry No. 2. So far they seem to be doing well in a large clear vase with no aeration. Water is exchanged with the main tank everyday. Of the 23 fry collected last week, 20 are still alive. Fish_

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Selamat Hari Raya Haji !

Its been raining cats and dogs almost non-stop for the last few days. Today is no different. Anyway, today is Hari Raya Haji so its a public holiday, meaning another day to sleep late and relax.

Sleeping late means no cooking at home, so lunch was out. Went to Tanglin Halt Market although its pouring. Good thing about the rain is that some places become not so crowded. Lunch for me was a HUGE plate of black carrot cake from the stall "A1 Carrot Cake" which has been there since the old market days. The carrot cake had the right mix of black sauce and the optional chilli, which made it nicely sweet and spicy. They had $1.50, $2 and $3 portions and I ordered the $2. Wonder how big the plate would be if I had ordered the $3! Wifey ordered a bowl of Minced Meat Fish Ball Noodles which was excellent too.

Washed it all down with a big glass of "Black & White" (i.e. Soya Bean + Chin Chow mixed) drink. The Chin Chow was smooth and soft, no problems getting it through the normal straw, not like some others which are as hard as agar agar ...

The evening was spent on another baking adventure. This time its chocolate brownies from a Pillsbury mix. Added in extra chocolate chips for more oomph! The result was surprising, hot tasty brownies with crispy crust on top and sticky chewy chocolate below! (see the 2 layers in the pic?) Didn't have vanilla but it went well with the chocolate ice cream we had in the fridge. Yummy! General_

Monday, January 09, 2006

More Aquaria Adventures

Sunday is usually a day of housework followed by rest. This Sunday started off no different from the others but then ...

We wanted to buy groceries from Sheng Siong Supermarket at 10-Mile Junction but the place was packed, despite the heavy downpour. The 3 levels of FREE PARKING were full and cars were waiting everywhere with their hazards on. Went IN, UP, DOWN and OUT before all the cars were deadlocked inside the carpark. So we decided to go to Fajar Shopping Centre (in Bukit Panjang) for lunch and groceries.

Part 1
Lunch and grocery shopping weren't that interesting, but at Fajar market, I bought a bag of live shrimp (Meant for feeding large fishes, I think they are called Ghost Shrimps). S$2 for about 100 of them. My idea was to see if I can keep a couple of them in the tank with the other fishes. Interesting creatures cos you can see right through them. (i.e. what they are eating, or just ate ... if they are carrying any eggs, etc.)

At home, decided to let nature take its course. Added the shrimp slowly (the big ones first) one by one to the tank. None of the fishes were interested except for the 2 bullies (the 2 angelfish, which have grown pretty large). The larger shrimps managed to survive but several smaller ones got nipped to death. In the end, I guess its survival of the fittest. As of now, there are still quite a number of them still alive. Oh yeah, they have quite a unique (desperate) way of escaping predators. They jump out of the water and stick onto the glass walls of the tank. They will drop back in (via a second jump) when the coast is clear, or when they get become more dry and just drop back in naturally.

Part 2
My pregnant guppy (which I have been observing for a few days) have decided to give birth today! Was observing her in the evening when I spotted her staying very close to the moss wall for the first time. Immediately put her into the "
delivery ward" and about 15 minutes later, the first of the fry came out! It took about 30-45 minutes for her to deliver all her fry. One was stillborn and another got sucked out by one of the angelfish through the net! Managed to save the rest. (Check out the picture on the bottom right and count the number of babies!) Fish_