Archive | PSA

Parks and Recreation on Netflix

We have been getting all our laughs from Parks and Recreation on Netflix recently. It’s about all these earnest people in a small town doing small but important things. It’s all about the small things.

Here’s Ron Swanson explaining government to a little girl.

I always think that Singapore should have our own version of Parks and Recreation. One of the characters would be our neighbour who does all things, including Net talking to traffic police, in a pair of FBT shorts (sometimes he is also topless) and a pair of sky blue Crocs.

In case you’re wondering how to get Netflix, all you need to do is get a VPN account from StrongVPN for around $50 a year. There are others out there, but¬†StrongVPN is what we use; it’s been reliable and fast.

After you sign up for Netflix, you can binge watch Daredevil like we did and also watch terrible lesbian movies.

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PSA: Anatomy of a bad IC photo

I have been meaning to take an IC photo of myself and I have four criteria:

1. A white wall
2. Daylight
3. Remembering to do it when there’s a white wall and daylight
4. Someone around to take the picture when criteria 1 through 3 are met

On April Fool’s Day, all four criteria were met. Auspicious indeed, but then the results were a little less than satisfying as evidenced in the following.

not a good ic photo

I usually look like this:

artist_impress_hwee

Credit for both photos: Bridget

 

 

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PSA: How to clean and condition your leather products

Snoopy_The_Magic

Recently, I’ve been trying to get rid of tack on a leather bag. Humidity is the reason why leather becomes tacky. This is especially evident on leather couches, since your butt sweat gets stuck on it*. On your leather bags, it’s just our stupid tropical weather, and perhaps a bad case of sweaty palms.

If you’ve brought your tacky leather bag to one of those “bag spas” before, they might tell you that it is not possible to get rid of that feeling. Especially if you’ve told them that it is an extremely old and precious bag.

This is mostly because getting rid of the stickiness requires a lot of patience and multiple cycles of cleaning, which is antithetical to profit.

snoopy_dark

DO NOT FEAR. Since you love your tacky leather bag and you are not running a “bag spa”, you will have plenty of patience to thoroughly clean your bag.

You will need: Lint-free microfiber cloths, leather shampoo, and leather conditioner. We use the leather cleaner and conditioner from Howard Products**, which you can buy from Selfix. They make your bag smell like oranges!

Step 1: Spray the leather shampoo generously on the bag.

Step 2: Use a microfiber cloth and vigorously shampoo your bag. I mean really shampoo. If your bag doesn’t look like one of those Christmas snow displays in a Singaporean mall, you are not shampooing!

Many online tips will tell you to gently wipe your bag so you don’t scratch it, but that gentle, gentle thing will not get rid of any tack. It’s like listening to Enya in the toilet when what you really need is a laxative. And since we are using microfiber cloths here, it is quite difficult to scratch the bag.

Step 3: When you can’t shampoo no more, use a damp, microfiber cloth to wipe away the soap suds. Your bag will probably still be sticky. That is normal.

Step 4: Since we can’t spend all day shampooing a bag, and it’s generally not a good idea for your bag to be wet for long periods of time, wait a day and shampoo again.

Step 5: Repeat steps 3 and 4 until you’re satisfied with the results. Did you read about that guy who chased the Ministry of Manpower for two years so that his ex-company would settle a $60 medical claim? YOU ARE THAT GUY AND YOUR BAG IS THAT $60.

Step 6: Apply a thin layer of leather conditioner with a microfiber cloth.

Step 7: Buff with the microfiber cloth. I MEAN BUFF. If you don’t buff, your leather bag won’t be as shiny and may even feel sticky. BUFFFFFFFFFF.

And there you have it, you’ve saved your lovely old bag.

*Aside PSA: LEATHER COUCHES ARE NOT SUITABLE FOR TROPICAL WEATHER. Unless you intend to turn on your air-conditioning 24/7, your new, luxurious leather couch will soon be old, sticky, and stained with butt sweat.

**Aside: Out of all the available leather conditioners, I chose the Howard Products one because it is all natural and it contains lanolin. Lanolin is a natural moisturizer that comes from sheep. Basically, you want to choose an animal-based oil to treat your leather products. You can also use, believe it or not, cod liver oil, but the smell will stay there… FOREVER.

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PSA: How to keep yourself permanently trim

People who have known me long enough would know that I used to be fat. I was fat growing up, I was fat in my early 20s, I was fat. I was so fat that once, when I went bungee jumping, I had to use a different cord from everybody else. Fat, bungee jumping, wearing a Belle and Sebastian t-shirt. So, cool.

Eventually, I lost weight. How I’m not going to say, but it involved trekking the Blue Mountains National Park while hungover. And more.

Besides, everybody knows how to lose weight. Diet and exercise REALLY work. Especially exercise. I also lose weight every time we move so you could try that if you like.

Yoga, pilates, gym, Crossfit, swimming, ultimate frisbee, dragon boating blahblahblah. Doing all that stuff is great, but for someone like me, they are untenable in the long run. I get bored too easily and I always want to do something else. I can’t commit to anything that uses a timetable. I am not sociable. I am adverse to physical discomfort, which really is a must for any kind of exercise to work. I am not interested in getting a hard body *.

Does that sound like you?

I think it sounds like a lot of people. I’ve basically been more or less the same size for the past 10 years. Except that one time when I got pudgy from eating two Old Chang Kee sardine puffs everyday.

Me during my Old Chang Kee phase

Me during my Old Chang Kee phase. This is a good picture.

This post is not about losing weight. It is about how to completely forget about diet and exercise, and still stay trim! Isn’t that great? FREEDOM!

1. Walk more

A lot of times, we put on weight because we develop habits we don’t even notice that make us get fat. For example, we get a car and stop walking as much. Almost everyone I know who gets a car gets fat. How many times have you tried to park as close to the escalators as possible so you don’t have to walk so far?

You have to get it in your head that walking a little bit more is fine, even if it means sacrificing convenience. Convenience is not the meaning of life.

Walking is good.

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PSA: How to buy property in Singapore on a tight budget

snoopy_woodstock_house

About a year ago, Bridget and I got into a situation where we were forced to move out of the house we were living in. We had been living there for a number of years, and as with all good things, it had to come to an end.

Things seemed pretty dire then; we have a mongrel dog, so we couldn’t move into a HDB flat, and we couldn’t actually afford to rent a private house/apartment, plus pay the rent for our Bussorah Street store.

Because Singapore is a bizarre little island, the solution to our problem was ridiculous but obvious: we had to buy a house, since our monthly mortgage payment would be less than what we would pay if we had to rent.

Running our business means that we are perpetually low on cash, so we needed some help from my brother. While he definitely had more cash than we did, he isn’t rich either. So there we were facing property prices at their peak, about to be homeless with our dog and cat, and with a very modest budget to buy a private apartment.

I’m going to share with you some tips on how we managed to find our ideal apartment within a very short time frame.

1. There is no such thing as a good or bad time to buy property.

If you gotta buy a house, you gotta buy a house. You just have to spot good/reasonable deals and make fast decisions. If you see something you like and fits your budget, make an offer immediately. Good deals go fast. Do not waste time thinking that there will be something better.

2. A modest budget is an asset.

Our budget automatically narrowed our choices, so we didn’t waste our time looking at apartment after apartment. There were only two apartments on our list and we ended up viewing only one.

 

snoopy_woodstock_roof

 

3. Do not buy new developments.

Developers buy land at property bubble prices, so you will pay property bubble prices. For developers to turn profits at levels that they are used to, these apartments will necessarily have to be smaller.

In order to conceal the scantiness of these apartments, developers throw all kinds of fancy shwarma at you. Bald (famous) architects. Designer interiors (I once asked if it’s possible to get a blank apartment. They said no. You have to get interior A or interior B). Roof top swimming pools. Hanging gardens. All that rubbish just to convince people to pay more for a smaller house.

Some people say that old apartments will have plumbing and leakage problems. That could possibly be true, but there are very few things a good contractor can’t solve. And from what I hear, some new apartments leak after two years because of shoddy workmanship.

Also it doesn’t matter how good a development looks on the outside. I’ve walked past so many expensive houses that you can see is just a shell; usually there’s a red or blue plastic pail in plain sight.

I guess you could buy a new development if you’re a money launderer. Or if you want money launderers as your neighbours. Make some connections you know.

4. Ignore the way the interior of an apartment looks.

Sometimes, old apartments look bad. They are configured weirdly and they have ugly tiled bathtubs that no one ever uses to take an actual bath because the bathtub is so unpleasant.

Try to ignore this. You will be able to reconfigure the space into something satisfactory with some renovation.

If you are someone who just wants to move into a space without doing anything, this doesn’t apply to you. But then again you would probably not have a modest budget.

5. Buy a tenanted apartment if possible.

If you’re not in a hurry to move in, collect some rent money first to defray renovation costs. Our apartment was tenanted for 6 months before we moved in; that paid for splitting the horrendous 80s bathroom into two, and building San Lang’s toilet that he never used (we store our vacuum cleaner there now).

6. Get a good agent.

Everybody knows that I think property agents are the scum of the earth. But that’s not true. I just think that most property agents are the scum of the earth.

If you’re lucky enough to get a good one, they make things much easier. Agent talk for when you’re shit at negotiating.

Do you have more tips to add to my list? Leave a comment or email me.

Are you a scum of the earth property agent/developer/money launderer? Email me. I do not want my blog post to be ruinous to your business.

 

minions_markers

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PSA: How loan sharks work

We all know from police ads and Singaporean drama serials that loan sharks are bad news, but do you know how loan sharks work in Singapore? I definitely didn’t know until I had an extensive conversation about loan sharks yesterday with somebody who is not a loan shark. I’m going to share with you a little bit about what I learned about the business of loan sharks, so that in times of desperation, you will be able to make an informed decision about whether to approach a loan shark for financial assistance or not.

Loan shark Yo

Loan shark Yo stalking a hapless customer

Most of us would know that you do not need any collateral to take out a loan from a loan shark, and because of that, loan shark interest rates are very high. But exactly how high? I’m not sure how competitive loan sharks are with their interest rates, but 25% is a fairly accurate ball park figure, and I think most of us can agree that 25% is a little insane. But you know, that’s around the effective annual interest rates of credit cards right? So you urgently need a sum of money, you think 25% is manageable, no fuss, no collateral, let’s do it, let’s get some cash!

Before you get your cash, you will need to provide three pieces of information to the loan shark: your identity card number, your identity card’s date of issue, and your bank account number. Easy peasy!

So you borrow $1000 from a loan shark. The loan shark gives you $750, because $250 is kept by the loan shark as your interest payment up front.

You are given 10 weeks to repay your $1000 loan. If you default during any week, the amount you owe to the loan shark goes back to $1000.

Fine, let’s not default then! You pay off your loan in 10 weeks. Phew.

Your friendly neighbourhood loan shark calls you up cos you’re a really good customer. The loan shark says, “Hey, I’ve transferred $750 into your bank account, you owe me $1000.” But I didn’t borrow any money, you say. Yes you did, the loan shark says. Anyone can transfer money into your bank account, and that includes your mother and loan sharks.

You think you can just ignore the loan shark, since you didn’t ask for the money. But you can’t. Because the loan shark has your IC number and its date of issue, he can find out everything about you. Everything the government has on you, the loan shark has it too, and with all that information, the loan shark will be able to find you, your husband/wife, children, neighbour, car, boss, dog, plant…

But that’s just what I heard yesterday, from my friend who is not a loan shark. If you have had pleasant experiences borrowing money from a loan shark, please let me know.

If you’re an actual loan shark reading this, and you do not think this is an accurate representation of your business, please let me know too. I do not want my blog post to be ruinous to your business.

 

 

 

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Business Registration 53068071L. Use this world but desire heaven.

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