Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Reviewing 2008

I recently asked some friends whether they take stock of the year gone by at the end of the year and was somewhat surprised by their nonchalance. It’s as if there’s no point since it’s all in the past and that it’d be a waste of time and energy. They seem to just want to look ahead and move on.

But is looking back and recalling the past necessarily a bad thing? I personally don’t see it as setting you back. Conversely, I see it as having the propensity to thrust you forward more purposefully. That’s what reviews are about, that’s what debriefs are meant for. Evaluations have a purpose – they tell us how we started, what transpired and how it expired.

We learn from the past to better prepare for the future. Competitive athletes have shown us how. They watch video playbacks of their defeats and conquests and find ways of bettering themselves or overcoming their opponents at a future.

Reviews aren’t times to reminisce and be self-absorbed in a past moment of glory or gaiety. They’re meant to help us plant our stakes, set our course and press on with determined hunger and eagle-eyed precision.

Have you looked back at your year? If not, you still have time before the year runs out and we usher in 2009.

On behalf of Pamela, here’s wishing you grit to face the open seas of 2009, an anchor of hope to ride out the sea billows, and a compass of purpose to achieve your dreams in the year ahead!

Have a Splendid 2009!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Brain Freeze!

Before I blog about our guest this morning, I have a confession to make.

If you were tuned in to The Living Room today, and heard a host of boo boos on air, well *raises a hand sheepishly* ... it was me.

I've started "panelling" ~ which means I basically sit in the pilot's seat and operate the "cockpit" controls on my own.

Here's the view from where Stan & I sit. For the last 2 days, I've been sitting in Stan's pilot seat & manning the "cockpit".

When I see Stan do it, he's truly Mr Octopus. It's like he doesn't have to think. When Stan told me yesterday, "OK, today you panel hor!", I tell you my heartbeat quadrupled. My hands started shaking. And I seriously broke into a cold sweat. *whimper*

Today, there were several times I experienced complete brain freeze. And dead air. Seriously, 3 seconds of it feels like a deafening 30 minutes. Today was definitely one of those days I'd really like to forget...

But enough about me. Today, we got to chat with Nicholas Lim, Regional Director of Contiki Holidays. Nick is a really easy-going guy and a natural talker. His travel stories definitely fuelled my desire to make TRAVEL one of my 2009 resolutions.

Canadian Rockies, here I come! *lol*

Here we are around the Christmas tree @ the radio building lobby
with Nicholas Lim, Regional Director of Contiki Holidays.

To find out more about Stan & Pam's resolutions for 2009, and our reflections on the year past, tune in to tomorrow's New Year's Eve Special of The Living Room. *wink*


Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Have a Blessed Christmas!


It's Christmas Eve! On The Living Room today, we did a Christmas Special, where for the last hour, we played our favourite carols. It was enchanting ~ especially with the rain falling softly outside (the next best thing to snow!) and an unusually cool temperature of 23 to 26 deg C.

For me, Christmas has always been special. Not only is it the birthday of Jesus - which I celebrate - it's also a time when I pause to count my blessings and recount the many ways God has blessed me. 

And this past year, one thing I'm truly thankful for is being embraced by the 938LIVE family. I'm blessed with wonderful new colleagues, an unmatchable on-air buddy, and a programme I truly believe in. And although radio is all new to me, I'm discovering it's a medium I can grow to love... Who would've guessed? *grin*

There have also been new people who have walked into my life this year who have forever changed it. People who have restored my faith in love and hope. *hug*

And Phoebe, thanks for the chocolate cupcake you baked for us! *drool* But more so, for your invaluable help these past months, and the many coffees you've bought me & claimed Uncle gives you free because you're cute.
   
Cherish those you love. Give thanks. And from The Living Room team, here's wishing you a most blessed & love-filled Christmas!!! 


Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Comedy (at) Central


I know. Clowns can look a tad scary. But after chatting with Scoot & Jamie this morning, I can assure you they are no Chucky.

They are two really down-to-earth, funny Australian blokes who are in town to entertain shoppers this Christmas at Central, the Shopping Mall.

What do they do? Well, Jamie is a standup comedian. Scoot (aka Mark) is a juggler who also climbs ladders. OK, don't ask. Go check out their act at Central, 2pm & 3pm, till Christmas Eve.

Scoot (left) & Jamie (right) with tools of their trade. Check out the parang he juggles together with an apple ~ which he eats in the process!

After the interview, we got Scoot to show off his juggling skills in the carpark. Being the natural entertainer that he is, he gladly obliged. 

Here's a vid of him juggling 7 balls...

video

It was a fun way to start my morning ~ especially after being on leave the past week. Boy, it's good to be back on The Living Room! *grin*


Monday, December 22, 2008

Channel 5's 1st Christmas Tele-Movie

Jessica Cuipa (of Parental Guidance fame) was a heart-stealer in The Living Room this morning. She's one chatty 8-year-old with very good EQ & IQ. Before everyone vacated the studio, she gave me a hug, like she did her co-stars veteran Darren Lim and Suhami Yusof. I've never been hugged by a kid guest before through all my 6 years hosting the show, so she'll always be special.

I'm sold that "Delivering Suzy" on Channel 5 will make for good tv this Christmas Day.

Showtime:
Thurs, 25th Dec, 10pm - 11.30pm, with an encore on Sun, 28th Dec, 5pm - 6.30pm.

Friday, December 19, 2008

An Email from The Senior Parliamentary Secretary of MHA & MOE, Masagos Zulkifli

Following my chat in The Living Room today with Mr Masagos Zulkifli, Senior Parliamentary Secretary for the Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of Education and MP for Tampines GRC, he sent me an email to further elaborate on the Home Team's promotion of creativity and innovation. I thought I'd share it with you with his blessings.

On and related note, don't forget the Home Team's recruitment fair this weekend at Vivo City.

Hi Stanley,

It was great to be on your programme 'The Living Room' to share with your listeners some of the things that the Home Team can offer to those who want a challenging and rewarding career.

That the Home Team’s vision is to make Singapore a safe and secure best home is known to most Singaporeans. But what most people are not aware of is that the Home Team members also pride ourselves on the environment that encourages creativity and innovation. Our officers are constantly looking at ways to progress, re-invent and motivate ourselves to innovate and transform.

The Singapore Civil Defence Force, for example, stands out for its innovative solutions for challenges its officers had encountered on the ground. Taking advantage of the network of hydrants in Singapore, SCDF came up with its own dream car (or fire-engine in this case) - the “Red Rhino”. Officially known as the "Light Fire Attack Vehicle", this formidable vehicle which could maneuver into every corner of a HDB void deck.

And who says you must go to a Police station to make a Police report? Thinking out-of-the-box, the Singapore Police Force, came up with the Electronic Police Centre or ePC, where members of public can lodge online reports that do not require immediate police attention.

The Home Team is really one of the most “techie” organisation I have seen. In the last few years, the Immigration Checkpoints & Authority rolled out several new systems of cutting edge technologies to facilitate and enhance identification and border security, such as the enhanced IACs (passport verification system) which allows holders of the Singapore machine readable or biometric passports to clear immigration under 12 seconds without having to pre-register themselves. ICA was in fact one of the first few countries in the world to recognize the value of biometric technology and, more importantly, implement its use.

The Home Team is innovative and entrepreneurial not just in the operational arena. The Central Narcotics Bureau’s famed partnership with the private industry stakeholders in the fight against drug abuse, coupled with tough enforcement, has made Singapore famous for its zero-tolerance drug policy. So much so that the concern now is that international drug syndicates want to recruit Singaporeans to be their couriers!

And then, once upon a time, Prisons Officers “jaga” prisoners. Period. But our officers from the Singapore Prison Service want to do more - they want to change the lives of those who are under their custody. The “Captains of Lives”, a concept years ahead of its time, was born. This mindset change resulted in many innovative and dynamic programmes to rehabilitate offenders.

So for those who want to play a hands-on role in keeping Singapore safe and secure, come join the ranks of professionals dedicated to maintaining the security well-being of our nation.

Best regards,

Masagos Zulkifli

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Wanna Fight?!

I've never set foot into a boxing ring, let alone getting near one. So a visit to Paddy's Sports Centre which is also home to the Angkor Youth Boxing Club was a treat. Here's where the Cambodian martial art of Pradal Serey or Khmer boxing is taught and where arms and legs unleash powerful blows. Was I intimidated? Well with people landing punches on bags or bodies all around me, you just pray you're not in anyone's way.

I spoke to the the director of the centre, Paddy Carson about the sport and just how popular Khmer boxing is in the kingdom. While there, Paddy introduced me to one of his trainees whom he said was Singaporean. It turned out to be Malaysian Vincent Ong who works there and takes up twice a week lessons from Paddy as a form of fitness.

Just how different is Pradal Serey from Muay Thai? Well surprise surprise! They're the same thing; just bearing different names, but I'm sure both kingdoms will claim the martial art to be their baby.

Tucking In in Cambodia

After tucking into the dishes of Cambodia last week, it made me realise that their dishes and our own aren't worlds apart. It's a tweak here and a slight difference there in the mode of preparation or the way the dish is presented.
(left: "Amok"which is usually made of fish paste; it strongly resembles otah without the banana leaf.)

After speaking with my Cambodian hosts Dr Kao Sambath & Ms Sokdearozet (left) at lunch at Kandal Restaurant and digging in, I know I'll be back for more Cambodian fare in the not too distant future. There's still so much more to taste in this fascinating land whose cuisine's more closely affiliated with Vietnamese than Thai.

Below are photos of the dishes on our table before we cleaned them up.
(clockwise from top left: "Kokouo" is a soup dish with pieces of pork, chicken or fish boiled with brinjal, green jackfruit and unripe banana or papaya - it tastes like weak mee soto soup, "Teok kreung" which is a refreshing salad with an accompanying bowl of fish paste in fish sauce that tasted slightly citrus and "Chartrap" which is a mashed up brinjal dish which tastes better than it looks.)

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Notes from the Off-Air Side...

It's confirmed. I'm a workaholic. And I'm addicted to The Living Room. 

I've been on leave since Monday, and already I'm feeling a little off-centre. I've been reading Stan's blog entries in the mornings, and listening to The Living Room whenever I have access to the Internet or radio. Good grief, I even searched for our signature tune on iTunes ~ and bought it! *gasp* 

What's our signature tune? Oh, it's called Bahia Funk by Lee Ritenour. Here's the album (pictured). There. OK, fine. I'm pathetic, I know.  

As Stan mentioned, there's much that goes on behind the scenes for The Living Room team ~ which is basically Stan & me lah. We produce & present everything you hear on-air, so there's a lot of scrambling to read up, to set up interviews, prepare Q&A, update website, blog etc. In fact, it's a daily affair. But that also helps us "own" our programme. 

I am excited about 2009! Stan the Man has loads of ideas, and Punky Pam has some up her sleeves as well. *wink* And as The Living Room team ~ we're talking synergy, man. Formidable. Brace yourselves!



P(hysiotherapists) & R(ingers)

They assist in strengthening your muscles, work those liagments and ensure your joints don't stiffen at rehab. They help you regain your motor skills again. They are physiotherapists. And there's even something more special about them when they impart their knowledge and skills to skill-starved counterparts in developing nations like Cambodia.

Last week in Phnom Penh at the Technical School for Medical Care, I watched Tan Bee Yee (Senior Principal Therapist from the SGH Department of Physiotherapy) and her colleague Ng Yee Ling conduct a training class for seventeen Cambodian physiotherapists. They were part of a team of 12 volunteers sent there for the project under the Singapore International Foundation. This year marked the completion of the second cycle of a full year's training.

The trainees successfully completed the year-long training programme last weekend, graduating with an Advanced Certificarte in Physiotherapy Practice awarded by the Singapore General Hospital Postgraduate Allied Health Institute (SGH-PGAHI)

Dr Celia Tan who's Director of SGH-PGAHI and Team Leader is proud that her staff have in a small way contributed to the development of the physiotherapists there. She was also beaming when asked how much improvement she's seen in the way the Cambodian trainees (right) are treated their patients at their places of work in NGOs and hospitals there. It's not often I got a chance to speak to people who help people fix people!

Moving on to a 'live' conversation I had on the show today, those guests have surely left my ears ringing hours after I met them. The founder of the Ministry of Bellz, Damien Lim together with 5 ringers came armed with their English handbells and performed two pieces live in the studio. Here's a shot of them at the end of their session.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Shaping Up for 2009

Despite the new year still being two weeks and a whisker away, Pam and I have started in earnest to confirm our interviews with guests in 2009! What began as a clean blank page in our diary just last week is slowly filling up with pencil scratches.

Many listeners (you could well be one of them) think we hold a cosy job. I've heard some remark how it's just a two-hour show on air compared to a nine-to-five (or six) job. Before you start propagating those impressions on what our job entails, you couldn't be farthest from the truth. A lot of what we call show prep (abbreviated for 'preparation') happens out of sight and 'off air'. The reason why our conversations in The Living Room are so fluid is because much show prep's gone into it. It's like stew...the longer you have it over the flame, the more tender and flavourful the meat.

Back to the new year just around the corner, what are your goals? If fitness or taking up a new sport is on the cards, how about the sport of water polo? My guests today Ivan, David and Samuel are water polo champs who're volunteers promoting the sport to women and youth. So what if our men's national water polo team's winning streak at the SEA Games hasn't been broken since the 1960s?

There's still more room to grow the sport and as they mentioned on air, it's not about the lack of facilities (i.e swimming pools). If it's motivation or a lack of clarity of what the sport's about and how it's played, make your way down to practice sessions at Toa Payoh swimming complex where the women's team trains or the Queenstown swimming complex where the youth gather for a splashing good time. Click here for more information on the water polo scene in Singapore.

Monday, December 15, 2008

In The Slums of Cambodia

Slums are unheard of in Singapore, but a two hour flight out to Phnom Penh, Cambodia and under an hour's drive from the airport and I was walking through a slum community. I'd braced myself to expect the most squalid conditions, but was taken by surprise. There was beauty to be seen even in the poorest communities!

Poor as the villagers were living in airy quarters erected on wooden stilts and poles that made for well-ventilated living, sleeping and cooking areas, no overwhelming stench greeted me. Like icing on a cake, the pond over which the quarters stood was a bed of lush green water plants that resembled hyacinths. Rubbish heaps and clothes lines marked the boundaries and households, in place of fences and block/unit numbers of housing estates we'd be more familiar with.

Despite the obvious lack of material possessions, the locals wore faces of contentment. The kids beamed, playing with items they'd gathered or put together. Young men beat away boredom on the volleyball court as they did their spikes four on four. Another game was happening albeit less vigorously; the ladies had gathered for a card game, but quickly hid their hands when I pulled out my camera (below). You see, gambling is one of the vices in the community. They don't even need an elaborate IR to get it going.









Thanks to Christina Ang (left) from Mercy Teams International for being our guide through the slums. For her, it's more than just about being an SIF In-Field volunteer. It's about pulling out of the extravagant lifestyle and self-gratifying desires of so many at home, and transplanting yourself amidst a people whose basic rights aren't even met. How truly commendable, giving and selfless!




(Right: Barbecued Bananas on Skewers)

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Ms Lim Ann Chi, Special Educator & SIF Volunteer

Would you give up your job, your income, the comforts of life and securities of home to be a volunteer? Being a volunteer more often than not, means something's got to give. There's always an opportunity cost to doing something because you will be forsaking something else. You've not only got to have a big heart, but a matching appetite for risk and adventure.

Last week, I met several Singaporeans who fit the bill. For them, Cambodia is home - some for a specific period, others indefinitely.

The Living Room went to Phnom Penh last week and my first stop was at a centre for mental health where I met Lim Ann Chi (left) who's a volunteer trainer in special education. She's there under the Singapore Volunteers Overseas (SVO) programme of the Singapore International Foundation (SIF).

There were many pieces of evidence that young Singaporeans had visited this centre. There was the obstacle course (see photo above) that was erected by Pioneer Junior College students, then there was the EcoGarden at the edge of the compound that was planted by Republic Polytechnic students.

(left) RGS girls had also come through the gates; the cheerfully painted murals on a building's outer wall gave it away.

It was wonderful being in a rural village in Takmau province and seeing the handiwork left behind fellow Singaporeans. Just being there and seeing all the work that's been done and that's being done warms my heart.

(left) During my interview with Ann Chi, I couldn't help but be fascinated by the solid wooden furniture we sat on. It sure beats the flimsy and creaky plastic ones we use here, despite them being adjustable to fit your height.






Saturday, December 13, 2008

Ciao for Now.......

It's good to have my buddy back! *grin* I didn't tell Stan this, but I did miss him on The Living Room the past 2.5 weeks. More so, I missed the chirpy, Smurfy cheer he brings to the office. As an on-air partner, Stan really looks out for me. I'm very blessed. He's a good friend.  

While Stan was away, Pam didn't much play. But she did have a good time getting to know her stand-in partner, Justine Moss. Justine and I bonded over morning chatter and our love for food. And of course chocolates.......

Justine & I drooling over Sins chocolates brought by our guest Kin

We were scheming the day before to get Cheong Chung Kin (pictured), founder of Sins Choc Shoppe, to bring some chocolates down with him. Well, he volunteered ~ without me even asking. Now that's the kind of guests we like on The Living Room! *chuckle*

Today, we interviewed Irene Jansen who published her first cookbook, Food Inspirations. Bless her heart, she brought for the 938LIVE team some home-made banana crumble. With all this food, you can guess what my New Year's resolution will be... *groan*

It's Stan's turn to fly solo next week. I'm going on annual leave till 22 Dec. It's my first real break since uprooting from Publishing and moving to Radio. I'm looking forward to slowing down, taking stock, and just being with my little boys... and ones I love. 

So enjoy your week with Stan as he brings you conversations from his recent trip to Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Look out, too, for the photos he'll be posting on our blog to complement his interviews. It will be an exciting week, so stick with us! *wink*

As for me, I'll be lazing in my own living room ~ reading Raoul Dahl's Matilda. I didn't read it as a kid, so it's time for me to catch up on good literature. 

So for now, from Pam.... it's over and out. 



Thursday, December 11, 2008

From Camp to Cambodia

It's good to be back (after spending 17 days away from The Living Room). I'm not sure how many of you can actually say you're thrilled to be back at work after spending time away. If one can say and feel that, I believe you've found a job that's meaningful to you, of good fit and consistent with your personal philosophy and values.

Pam's been running the show solo for an extended stretch of time and she truly deserves a toast all round, wouldn't you agree? If my ICT ended last week, where have I been the last few days? Well...I was 'out in the field' stuffing my microphone into the faces of many people, some Singaporeans, a few Cambodians, a South African and a Malaysian. While most of you were enjoying your public holiday last Monday, I was busy conducting interview after interview in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

I returned last night after a 3-day trip sponsored by the Singapore International Foundation. The trip was organised primarily to let media personnel see firsthand the work's that been done by Singaporean volunteers overseas, specificially physiotherapists from the Singapore General Hospital who've been spending the last year training their Cambodian counterparts and equipping them with more knowledge and skills to tend to their patients better. It's been heartwarming seeing firsthand the effort that's been put in by so many to help our friends there.

All of next week from 10am, I'll share with you the conversations I had on this most meaningful trip to Cambodia.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Magic... The Science of Illusion

When I was young, I loved public holidays because they always showed David Copperfield on TV. Then David Blaine exploded on the TV screen in the '90s with his sizzling street magic. I was totally blown away by him levitating off the sidewalk!

Magic. I know it's all explainable, that there's a slew of science, maths & psychology principles behind it. But still, it baffles the child in me. So when the Science Centre brought in an exhibition from California USA, entitled Magic: The Science of Illusion, I had to go check it out for myself.

I dragged Ning along (I interviewed her for Vanilla magazine's Oct 08 cover story), so that she could give me a running commentary on the various illusions. Well, you may know Ning as 'Magic Babe' Ning, Singapore's only professional female magician. Here she is...

Ning, levitating a stone seat... OK, this is not her usual style of magic! 

And here I am ~ or at least, my disembodied head!!!


How is it done, you ask? Well, take a closer look........

Secret of the "disembodied head" illusion..... mirrors!!!

Well, I did an interview with Dr Chew Tuan Chiong, Chief Executive of Science Centre Singapore, on The Living Room the day after I visited the exhibition. Yes, yes, I did my homework. Hey, who says homework needs to be boring? *grin*

Well, if you want to find out the secrets behind the supernatural, head down to the Science Centre for Magic: The Science of Illusion, which is on till February 2009. And in case you're wondering? No, it won't kill the magic in Magic for you.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Survivor

Stanley, Stanley.... where art thou?

It's been 2 weeks on The Living Room without my buddy, who is on reservist. And on this Friday night, I'm just about to pengsan!

My best friend's cat so reflects my state of mind as I'm blogging tonight!

But I had some pretty good conversations this week. My favourites: (1) Class 95's Carol Smith on Operation Smile Cambodia, (2) Susannah Gardner, author of "Blogging for Dummies", (3) Food personality Violet Oon. I've uploaded these for encore broadcast, which will be aired this Sunday 7 Dec, 2pm to 5pm. So if you missed these conversations, you can catch 'em again! *wink*

Next week, I'll be flying solo again, as Stan is flying off to Cambodia. The Living Room was invited to go along for an SIF trip to Phnom Penh! *gasp* Although it will be Round 2 of pengsan-dom for me, I'm thrilled that The Living Room is taking 'live' interviews outside of Singapore. It opens a world of possibilities, doesn't it? Maybe the station will send me to... hmm, let's see... the Maldives?

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Win a copy of "Blogging for Dummies"!



Stan and I met Susannah Gardner, one of the authors of the book "Blogging for Dummies", when she was in town last month for corporate workshops. Because her schedule was so packed, we had to head down to Royal Plaza on Scotts and do a recorded interview with her in her hotel room. Poor Susie had to skip her lunch to speak to us, so for that, we really salute her!

Well, blogging has come a long way since the days it started out as online diaries for angsty teens. Businesses use blogs these days to improve image and increase sales. Individuals make big money from sponsors and advertisers on their personal blogs. And election results have been known to be swayed by politicians' blogs.

There's much to be gained by jumping on the bandwagon. So if you're keen to learn how, drop us an email at livingroom@mediacorp.com.sg and if we pick you, we'll send you a copy of Susannah's book to get you started. We've 3 to give away, so contact us now! *wink*