Thursday, September 30, 2010

Great photography


A Palestinian woman reads from the Quran as the moon shines during the Muslim
holy month of Ramadan in the West bank city of Nablus by Nasser Ishtayeh

Flamingoes during sunrise at the Fuente de Piedra Natural Reserve near Malaga
in Spain


Glowing jellies


The full moon in its beauty and splendour!

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I always admire great photography. The above pictures are examples of what I mean by pictures that have excellently shot.

When I see photographers going around with their huge and complex cameras, I know the photos that are shot will be always above average. Complex gadgets confound me so that I have to contend with a small, simple digital camera that is light enough for me to carry, in case I see something interesting.

Kudos to the photographers of the above pictures. Well done!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Happiness is .....(46)

The thermometer has been constantly showing a reading of 25 deg. Celcius
these past two months.

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Of late, when it is rainy and cloudy, the temperature drops to 25 deg. C. On such days, the weather is just fantastic, like natural airconditioning.

On such days, I enjoy reading outside of my flat, basking for hours on my favourite chair, enjoying the breeze. I also enjoy taking long walks. If I happen to be in Orchard Road or Chinatown, then I will walk back home instead of taking the train.

If only the temperature constantly hovers around 25 deg.C, why, Singapore would be
an almost perfect country to live in. Yet it is only when we experience great heat do we truly appreciate coolness. Funny how Canadians would constantly complain about the cold winter, while those of us in the tropics who have never yet seen snow, yearn to feel the soft, powdery cool stuff in our hands. Funny how we who constantly have the sun, would often arm ourselves with umbrellas against the scorching sun! Recently in Barcelona, I carried my umbrella, even though I looked freakish with one.! My skin has thickened during these 57 years on earth, and I have learnt to be "bohemian" when I need to be!

Usually November, December and January are cooler months in Singapore. However of late, the weather has gone a little berserk, and throughout the world, unexpected changes of weather have been experienced. I remember once while we were on a French Immersion program in Quebec, we woke up to find snow on the ground in summer! We sang "Jingle Bells" like as if Santa Claus were just around the corner! However, I was sad to see the flowers and vegetables dying a premature death!

I wonder if we would ever see snow one day in Singapore? Until that happens, happiness is enjoying 25 deg. C temperature at the moment, and basking in the coolness around!

Gan Cao

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Happiness is ......(45)


Slim and elegant dancers from China

Huge, colorful and lighted lanterns make Clarke Quay look like a fairyland!

Amu, enjoying herself by the river at our favourite haunt
Young dancers from different schools in Singapore, proudly presenting their
excellent performance

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I had not seen my best friend, Amu, for quite sometime, because we both had been busy. I had also been travelling quite often, and hence I called Amu to ask if we could meet at Clarke Quay for our favourite haunt would be abuzz with stage performances and colorful lanterns.

We spent the earlier part of the evening with some home-brewed beer at the famous Red Dot at Boat Quay. We were glad to find some seating spots on the steps along Clarke Quay and enjoyed the dances and songs.

It was interesting to observe the young students from different schools getting ready for their dance. I could see the proud yet anxious looks of the students' relatives as they observed the dancers executing some intricate steps. Kudos!

I love living in a cosmopolitan country like Singapore where there are so many different races, and we can celebrate so many different festivals. We are indeed such a colorful nation!

Gan Cao

Happiness is .....(44)


A sumptuous dinner - with Soh Wah, Yew Tien and Soh Wah's mom

Yew Tien having a whale of time, lighting up the candles.

The full, round moon ....

Moon bright, bright, in the middle of the night.....

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"Choo, what are you doing tonight?" asked Soh Wah, my best friend.

"We have a meeting at the office."

"What? Meeting tonight when it is the celebration for the mid-autumn festival?"

"Aiyoh....Singapore, where got Autumn", I said.

I have only known this period to be the lantern festival and people buying and eating mooncakes, but I have never realised that on the 15th day, families are supposed to have dinner together. Soh Wah insisted on my joining her and family for dinner and so off I went to her office as it would be nearer to meet her at the office than at her home in the West.

At dinner time, Soh Wah was surprised when I told her that it was the very first time I was invited to a home on this special occasion for dinner all these 27 years of my living in Singapore.! I have not missed anything because after work, I just like to relax in the evenings, watching my favourite television programs in the quiet and comfort of home, sweet home.

"Choo, in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and even Korea, this is an important celebration. In fact, they even have 3 days of public holidays."

I always love home cooked meals. Somehow they always taste different and are always extra delicious. I guess because they are cooked with love. Soh Wah's maid has been working for her for the past 15 years and is treated like a family member. She is an excellent cook.

It was interesting to watch Yew Tien lighting up the lanterns. He seemed to be
thoroughly enjoying himself. I guess there is always that little child in all of us.

I told Soh Wah that my most memorable time was when papa bought me a lovely lantern, in the shape of a colorful eagle. However, I was careless and accidentally dropped the lantern which was immediately burnt. The poor eagle had died prematurely, and I cried bitterly. It would upset me tremendously whenever I wasted any of papa's hard-earned money.

As Soh Wah and I were walking to the bus-stop, we saw that the moon could now be seen more clearly as earlier, it had been cloudy due to the heavy rain. I quickly took out my camera again, and took some pictures. Soh Wah laughed and said I would need a telescope instead. Not bad, what a little camera could do. The moon looked so cute in the picture! Now I can understand why Chinese poets of ancient times loved to pen lines on the full, round moon.

Happiness is celebrating this special occasion with good friends. Maybe next year,
I will cook dinner at home and invite some non Chinese friends or friends whose families are living overseas.

It would be wonderful if our Government could declare a one day public holiday so that "blur ones", "ignorant" people like me, would realise the importance of the occasion. :-)

Gan Cao

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

More Lovely Exhibits at National Art Museum of Catalonia




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Happiness is ....(43)




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A thing of beauty is a joy for ever:
Its loveliness increases; it will never
Pass into nothingness; but still will keep
A bower quiet for us, and a sleep
Full of sweet dreams, and health, and quiet breathing...

Although it has been almost more than two months since I visited Barcelona with Soh Wah, I often think of the lovely sights, especially the beautiful paintings, sculptures and antique furniture in the museums.

My favourite is the National Art Museum of Catalonia in Barcelona. The above pictures are some of the displays in the museum. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that photo taking was allowed, and hence I took photos to my heart's content. Now, whenever I feel tired, bored or restless, I would look at the pictures in my computer, and my spirit would be uplifted again!

John Keats was right with his thoughts expressed in his lovely poem above. I always
try to think of beautiful things and people with beautiful thoughts and actions. They help to make me feel happy and positive.

Truly, a thing of beauty is a joy forever.

Gan Cao

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Excuse Me, Are You a Property Agent? (28)

Warren Buffet has reminded his investors that when others are scared, then it is time to be bold, and vice versa. This probably explains why he has made his billions.

For the past years as an agent, I notice that many people tend to be bold when everyone is bold, and scared when everyone is scared. Hence, the prevalent herd

This probably explains why Housing Development Board flats have been driven up to sky high prices until the government had to come in to cool the market! The man who paid for $100,000/- above his valuation for his unit at Choa Chu Kang asserted his stand on why he was happy to pay the price for his unit.! Valuation of a property at any particular time implies the prevailing market price. It is amazing how when the market is hot, people are not hesitant to jump into the bandwagon.

I had advised my neighbour who is currently renting his unit to wait for a while to buy his 3 room HDB flat for I felt that prices would be coming down. Hence, when the rules came in, I was very happy and told him that I would take him around to look for his ideal flat, but to my shock, I found that he had already purchased a unit which he paid at $55K above valuation!

When I bought my 3 room HDB unit, I paid $5000 above the valuation. I felt it was worth it because the windows had been changed, and the flooring is solid granite, and the MRT station is within a stone's throw. Best of all, I could even walk to Orchard Road. My agent told me that after I put down my deposit, ten other buyers who had viewed the apartment earlier, also wanted to buy the unit! The market was very quiet then, and although the prices were already quite low, buyers still wanted lower prices! My agent told me that all the ten buyers had offered at below valuation for my unit, and I clinched the deal because I was willing to offer $5000 above valuation which the owner wanted as her benchmark. I had bought my unit on time before the price started to spiral.

Now that the government had come up with new measures, buyers start to offer their own valuation! My new agent recruit, Saras, was stunned when a buyer could offer her
$800 per sq. ft. for a unit valued at $1200 per sq. ft. for a lovely condominium in the East.! Unrealistic buyers offfering unrealistic prices will keep missing the boats, and soon the ocean liners! Agents have come up with TKK - in Hokkien, it means "Tan koo koo" (wait long long). Some of these buyers soon realise they have missed the boats, and then decide they must somehow get a unit even when the price is sky high! Yet when the price is already low, they want lower unrealistic prices.

The herd instinct is just too strong. Sigh....

Gan Cao

Monday, September 20, 2010

Clay Balls

My friend, Elena, sent me the following email. It has provided me with much food
for thought. A great article which I am sure you will enjoy reading.

Clay Balls

A man was exploring caves by the Seashore. In one of the caves he found a canvas bag with a bunch of hardened clay balls. It was like someone had rolled clay balls and left them out in the sun to bake. They didn't look like much, but they intrigued the man, so he took the bag out of the cave with him. As he strolled along the beach, he would throw the clay balls one at a time out into the ocean as far as he could.

He thought little about it, until he dropped one of the clay balls and it cracked open on a rock. Inside was a beautiful, precious stone!

Excited, the man started breaking open the remaining clay balls. Each contained a similar treasure. He found thousands of dollars worth of jewels in the 20 or so clay balls he had left.

Then it struck him. He had been on the beach a long time. He had thrown maybe 50 or 60 of the clay balls with their hidden treasure into the ocean waves. Instead of thousands of dollars in treasure, he could have taken home tens of thousands, but he had just thrown it away!

It's like that with people. We look at someone, maybe even ourselves, and we see the external clay vessel.

There is a treasure in each and every one of us. If we take the time to get to know that person, and if we ask God to show us that person the way He sees them, then the clay begins to peel away and the brilliant gem begins to shine forth.

May we not come to the end of our lives and find out that we have thrown away a fortune of friendships because the gems were hidden in bits of clay. May we see the people of our world as God sees them.

I am so blessed by the gems of friendship I have with you. Thank you for looking beyond my clay vessel.




Pass this on to another Clay Ball!!!

Do not ask the Lord to Guide your Footsteps if you are not willing to MOVE your Feet'

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Much Ado About A, B, C.......

My friend, Fernando, sent me this email. I must confess I have also not realised
this new realisation about a,b, c.

What a joy to receive forwarded emails which teach me new things everyday! Enjoy!

"Do you know ....

This is awesome - I bet you didn't know this...

Letters 'a', 'b', 'c' & 'd' do not appear anywhere in the spellings of 1 to 99

(Letter 'd' comes for the first time in Hundred)

Letters 'a', 'b' & 'c' do not appear anywhere in the spellings of 1 to 999

(Letter 'a' comes for the first time in Thousand)

Letters 'b' & 'c' do not appear anywhere in the spellings of 1 to 999,999,999

(Letter 'b' comes for the first time in Billion)

Letter 'c' does not appear anywhere in in the spellings of entire English Counting

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Unforgettable Chair!


Lovely chair made from recycled paper. It is strong and sturdy!

The chair can be expanded to seat two or three people!

I particularly liked the chair which could be found along the common walkway leading to the lifts at the Husa
International Hotel in Barcelona. It is made from recycled papers, and is expandable to seat two or more people.
In case you think it is flimsy because it is made of recycled papers, then you are mistaken, because it is
incredibly strong and sturdy.

I enjoyed sitting on the chair while waiting for the lifts, and I loved expanding it because it was great fun
to see the papers stretching out into lovely patterns. Amazing creativy! Kudos to the designer!

Gan Cao
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Determination, Desire and Faith....

Of late, my computer has been "ailing". At the bottom of the computer would appear lines in pink and green, definitely the same symptoms of sickness that I had witnessed in my previous computer.

This morning, to my dismay, it really "died". Half way, it refused to function and I had no alternative but to let the battery be drained off, and the computer shut itself automatically.
I tried a second time, and the same thing happened.

Wow, should I go to the internet cafe near my apartment? Or should I send my computer for repair.? But whoever handles the repair would have immediate access to my email, because I have put automatic login. I decided I would call up my colleague, Jack, to ask how I should go about sending the computer for repair.

I would not want to use my office computers, for they are meant for real estate work and not for personal use.

This evening, I thought I would try one more time to revive the computer. I prayed very hard that this time it would really work, and after a while, hip hip hooray, the computer worked! Thanks be to God for answering my prayers. !

Best of all, the greenish, pinkish lines had also disappeared, and my computer had been completely resurrected! Please don't ask me how; electronical gadgets are often beyond my comprehension. Just know that determination, desire and faith are the key factors to putting the computer into operation again.

My heart is full of gratitude even as I am typing this article. I feel so loved and
cared for. If God were interested in my computer, surely He would be very interested in my whole life and well being. He would be interested in my career, my health and
my purpose and desires. What a wonderful God we have!

Gan Cao

Thursday, September 09, 2010

The Knots Prayer.....

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A friend sent me the above Knots Prayer. As the wordings are too small on the picture, I will retype the prayer below.


Dear God,

Please untie the knots,
that are in my mind,
my heart and my life.
Remove the have nots,
the can nots and the do nots
that I have in my mind.

Erase the will nots,
may nots,
might nots that may find
a home in my heart.

Release me from the could nots,
would nots and
should nots that obstruct my life.

And most of all,

Dear God,

I ask that you remove from my mind,
my heart and my life all of the 'am nots'
that I have allowed to hold me back
especially the thought
that I am not good enough.


Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Thought for the Day....

My friend, Arun, has sent me an interesting email which I would like to share with my
readers. How precious it is to have a mind that is free of suspicion, doubts, paranoia, and one can always sleep peacefully each night! Enjoy the sharing.

A boy and a girl were playing together. The boy had a collection of marbles. The girl had some sweets with her. The boy told the girl that he would give her all his marbles in exchange for her sweets. The girl agreed.

The boy kept the biggest and the most beautiful marble aside and gave the rest to the girl. The girl gave him all her sweets as she had promised.

That night, the girl slept peacefully. But the boy couldn't sleep as he kept wondering if the girl had hidden some sweets from him the way he had hidden his best marble.


If you don't give your hundred percent in a relationship, you'll always keep doubting if the other person has given his/her hundred percent. This is applicable for any relationship like love, employer-employee relationship etc. Give your hundred percent to everything you do and sleep peacefully.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Much Ado About Pants and Belts.....

I had bought two pairs of pants recently from Sant Rolane, at Lucky Plaza, a company selling clothes of diverse sizes from xxS to xxxxxxxL! Alteration is free of charge, and by the time we get the altered clothes, it makes us feel as if they have been made to measure! I had bought a few blouses from them, and found the material to be good and pricing quite reasonable. Moreover, Vicky, the sales supervisor, is efficient and amiable. Sant Rolane, which originates from Hong Kong has a total of ten branches in Singapore. Sant Rolane has different pricing for different sizes.
Hence, it pays not to put on weight for the smaller the clothes, the cheaper they cost as less material is used! A sensibly unique but definitely fair system of operation!

Most of the pants which I had worn in the past had rubber bands and hence, it would be the second time that I bought pants with zippers! (The first time I had bought a pair of old jeans for twenty five Canadian cents at a garage sale when I was a student in Canada). To my surprise, I realised that though my pants were comfortable at first, they kept dropping due to the stretching of the rubberised materials. Fortunately I was wearing a blouse that had reasonable length, but it was quite awkward when I had to pull my pants up now and then!

Hence, I decided I should buy a belt to hold the pants in place. I was surprised that the belt did not have holes and all I had to do was to push through a buckle and voila! the belt held the pants very well. I was very happy and felt excited by the novelty of wearing an imitation leather belt for the first time in my life. ( An animal lover, I would not buy things obtained from animals and reptiles.) I felt like phoning my eldest sister Lee Lee, to tell her about my new belt and my first experience of wearing it.

However, when I wanted to remove the belt I found that I could not move the belt out of the buckle.! It was fortunate that I did not have a full bladder, or I would have to snip the belt with a pair of scissors. I decided to go back to the store where
I had purchased the belt, to ask for instructions on how to remove the belt from the buckle. Luckily the store still had stocks of the same belt I had bought. I took a belt and asked the assistant to show me how to buckle and unbuckle.!

When I went home, I tried again, and still could not get the belt out of the buckle. A closer observation revealed that the one of the metals had actually cut into the leather. I decided to use a fork to push the catchment and finally I managed to get the belt out of the buckle! Phew! It had taken me 20 seconds to put on the belt, but almost 30 minutes to remove it! I was glad that I did not give up by snipping the belt with a pair of scissors, for although it costs only S$6.00, I dislike wastage of any kind. Despite all the hurricane of effort and attempt, the belt was still in one piece and I could use it again.!

I had learnt my lesson and must always ensure that I know how to handle a belt with "modern gadgets" before using it. Sometimes we think we know, because some things are familiar enough, yet when it comes to the crunch, we realise a little too late, that we have been overly presumptuous and confident.!

Gan Cao