Friday, December 24

Paris... cold but beautiful!

Sacre-Coeur (Sacred Heart Basilica)

Eiffel Tower

More of SF

Tramp Ride

Coit Tower

San Francisco... love the food

Fishermans Wharf

SF China Town

Merry Christmas!


It's been awhile since I've updated the blog.... anyway, there is so much going on that I really didn't have time to put anything down.

Since I've been here just over a month, we've settled into our temporary housing. We love it, nice view of the golf course and the night sky. But it's sad that we have to move again to a more permanent location.

We wanted to settle at the same location but there wasn't any that we liked and rent was on the high side. So we settled for another place, it turns out to be cheaper and closer to my work and schools for the kids.

We finally got our driver's license, we tried convincing the DMV people that we need not take the written and road test, but they say that only people from Germany and NAFTA get this special treatment.... ok... it's a load of crap. I could've used my Arkansas drivers license that I got more than 20years back... but I lost it and had to go through all the paperwork to get a transfer done.

So, my wife & I took the test and passed. My kids both have IDs now, so moving around would be easier.

Boring first Christmas, but will have lunch today at my boss place. Not sure what to buy his kids, but decided on Amazon music download gift cards, suppose to work on all devices including ixxxxx Apple stuff.

We took a short break in San Francisco before getting into Arizona. Great time at Fisherman's Wharf, Sausilito, we went to UC-Berkeley just to give the kids a feel of college environment...

Oh, we went to Paris for a short break, I had a conference there so got my wife & kids over after the conference. Beautiful city, almost got caught in the snow storm. Well I was caught in it, but thank God my family missed it by a day.

Got my kids into watching American football, my son plays basketball, so he loves watching both college & NBA games. Arkanasas Razorbacks football team will be in the Sugar Bowl... so will be cheering them on... "Woo Pig Sooie"

ok... until next time... have a Blessed Christmas & a Happy New Year! Stay Safe! :)

Friday, November 5

Listening to Christian Radio

I was in the car this morning searching thru radio stations and came upon this station, you can listen to it over the internet.

I like it, it's K Love(Click)

Air1 as well...

Thursday, November 4

Back to Scottsdale...

I'm now back here in Scottsdale for 2 days, yes, 2 days! The company needs me (that's good!) for a presentation to a customer.

I need to be back home by Monday to sort out my house in Singapore.

Anyway, just finished my presentation, looks like we have the deal. Got a compliment from the customer and my co-workers (I remember what Lydia said). Too bad my boss is not around. I'm sure word will get to him.

PTL! The Headmaster from Scottsdale Preparatory Academy called, and looks like my son get to attend school there.

So, things are working out fine! :)

Saturday, October 23

House Hunting, Schools & Banking

My wife and I made a trip to Scottsdale for the past week to sort out housing, schools and banking.

Well, one thing we must thank God is our entry through US immigration. Even before our VISA got approved, we planned this trip because this week was PSLE marking, so there was no school, so no worries about sending and picking up of my daughter.

My son only had one GCE 'O' science practical paper, anyway he can take care of himself just for that one day.

Anyway, before our trip we read in some forums that non-immigrant VISA can only enter the US 10 days prior to the start of the validity of the VISA. But some forums said that only certain VISA had this rule, and our VISA is not one of them.

From the moment we arrived, God was certainly working his miracles, we were asked only 2-3 questions, very simple one, like was is your position in the company, VISA expiry date, what kind of VISA you have.... it was smooth.

On the 2nd day we had a rental car arranged by the company, and they were to pick us up at 8:30am, but no one showed up, I called them and said that they didn't have anyone available to pick us up. So, we patiently waited, and called many times, still the same answer, we finally pickup the rental at 11:30am. A total waste of the whole morning. I thought this cannot be how the day was going to be.

Anyway, I went into the office, met up with HR, and my boss, and gave both of them Sugee Cookies... you could see the smile on their faces. That was good, at least someone was happy.

So, we decided, just go to the schools and the potential apartments in the area for rental, just to see whether we like it. Important that my wife likes it, because she needs to be comfortable as she would be spending the most time at home, and moving the kids around.

So Monday was kind of slow. But on Tue, we managed to see 2 apartments that the company arranged for our temporary housing. This would be a 2-3 months thing while waiting for our household items to be shipped over.

We like the apartment "The Tradition" because it had 3 bedrooms, 2 baths, and it was facing the golf course, and quiet. It was also near the mall, so convenience with food. And it was the only unit available. We contacted the agent, and got both of them talking. Great!

We made our way to the schools, first it was the public school, but was told that they could not admit both our kids because open enrollment starts in Dec for Jan 2011 intake. But we won't disappointed because that would be good as we will be already settled in late Nov.

We also wanted to try the charter school, so we made our way over to Scottsdale Preparatory, but we were late, and the office was closed we thought... However, when we were about to leave, we saw a couple of people going in, so my wife said, just go over and see if anyone can help us.

To our surprise, the person that attended to us was the Headmaster of the school. We explained our situation, and she was willing to consider admitting my son for Jan 2011 even though all applications have been closed. So, we'll pray for this opening.
Because once my son gets in, my daughter would've priority.

OK, seems to be a good day, so, the next day we decided we should go sort out Social Security, and banking. Well it's like a chain, no SSN, no banking, no driving, etc.

I've had a SSN during my college days, so no problem for me, its just a replacement. But for my wife, we were not sure. Usually dependents are not issued SSN. And with our VISA, again it was not clear. But we knew the good Lord is at work, I got all the forms completed, and we were down at the SSA office.

Mine went through smoothly, and went it came to my wife's application they asked for our marriage cert, somehow, I only brought the copy, after some searching, the officer said, it's ok, the copy is fine. PTL!

With the SSN done, we proceed to the bank, again pretty smooth. So, the day was over, and things went well. I got my direct payment forms over to HR, and the SSN as well.

Then we thought, just try setting up a remittance account online, we were told by the bank that it was not an issue remitting money to Singapore. But to our surprise Singapore was not listed. I was upset, sent an email to the Branch Manager. Didn't hear from her, so I just gave her some time.

The next day, we were told that the apartment we liked has been taken, but another unit came up, but it was the ground floor. Anyway, we were not picky, so went over to the apartments leasing office and requested to see it. But to our surprise, the original unit became available again. This time we said to the leasing agent, please confirm this for us.

On our last day of the trip, we got a confirmation that the apartment has been secured. At SFO airport, I got a call from the agent, we reiterated our interest to her and have it settled with our HR for payments to be arranged.

I called the bank, and managed to speak to the branch manager, she did not read her email, and became very apologetic after telling her that we want to close the account. She decided that she would wave the fees (US$30) for wire transfers to Singapore, they wanted to keep us as customers. I thought this is a good gesture, we'll decide when I'm back there again on Nov 4.

Yes, another trip, but this time for work.


Friday, October 8

Octoburst 2010... Alison performing Love Story

Alison performing at this years Octoburst 2010 Baby Piano during Children's Day celebration.

She was running a high fever (39-40C), but she decided to continue, we prayed, and just when she started to perform, her fever came down. PTL.

We're continuing to pray as her fever is on a wave.... she has been to the hospital and was on Bifen & Paracetamol, antibiotics...

Anyway, enjoy.

Monday, September 27

Alison Performing @ Octoburst (Esplanade Event)

Alison will be among 4 students from Northwood Music performing at this years Octoburst Festival at the Library@Esplanade.

It's an event organized by "Esplanade - Theatres on the Bay" for this years Children's Day celebrations.

It gives young people an avenue to perform in front of a live audience.

Click here for happenings at Octoburst 30 SEP 2010 - 3 OCT 2010.

Thursday, September 23

One of my Favorites....

Lighthouse Family - High (Forever You and Me) from the album - Postcards from Heaven

Wednesday, September 22

Got our US VISA

It was a long wait but the interview lasted about 2-3mins. Make it short and to the point, don't reply with a long story.

It went very smoothly, thank God!

Quite a lot of people were turned away because they did not have a cashiers order, some brought personal checks or thought credit cards were accepted. They had to go off to the bank and return later in the morning. By that time, the queue would have grown longer.

TIP: If you have very thick documentation (like I have from the lawyers), make sure you go through it, use a Post-It sticky and label the supporting documents. This will make it easier for the officer processing your documents.

Tuesday, September 21

US Embassy Interview

We're all going to the American Embassy tomorrow for the VISA interview.

Just preparing all the documents and putting and labeling them in order.

Every Singaporean Son - Ep 11

Having some fun!

Sunday, September 19

I'm Listening to "Throne of Praise"

wonderful song.... I pray that I could play like Daniel.

Thursday, September 16

Singapore Night Scenes - Civil District & Bay Area


Marina Bay Sands Hotel & Casino (IR - Integrated Resort)
Details here - Marina Bay Sands Info

One Fullerton... lots of restaurants and great view of the bay.

View from One Fullerton of Marina Bay with Mandarin Oriental, Pan Pac, Ritz Calton hotels

Singapore River
The Fullerton Hotel
On the left is the Supreme Court and the dome is City Hall
City Skyline
Singapore Parliament House

Istana Open House on Hari Raya Puasa - 10 Sep 2010

sadly... after queuing for almost 45mins, it started to rain just when we past the security checks.

anyway my son still managed to get some pictures...

中元节 (Zhong Yuan Jie) or Hungry Ghost Festival

This happens opposite my place every 中元节 (Zhong Yuan Jie) or Hungry Ghost Festival. This year it starts from 10 Aug to 7 Sep. On the last day they have this auction, getai (Singing, usually popular renditions of chinese and hokkien songs), and of course dinner.

It's very noisy! Not good if your kids are taking exams like my son preparing for his 'O' Levels.

Here is a wiki from the Racial Harmony Website - Hungry Ghost Festival
From website - Hungry Ghost Festival

related: Food & Fruits and the Chinese Hungry Ghost Festival

Wednesday, September 15

I am Listening to "Our God" Chris Tomlin


Verse 1
Water you turned into wine, opened the eyes of the blind
There’s no one like you, none like you

Verse 2
Into the darkness you shine; out of the ashes we rise
There's no one like you, none like you

Our God is greater; Our God is stronger
God you are higher than any other
Our God is Healer, awesome in power
Our God, Our God

And if our God is for us then who could ever stop us;
And if our God is with us, then what could stand against?

This is an acoustic cover by Jonathan M Schmitz

Thursday, September 9

Testing my Sony DSLR/DSLT-A33

just testing my newly acquired Sony Alpha A33 camera. It's got this new mirror technology called Translucent Mirror Technology, 14.2 mega pixels, phase detection, HD (1080i) video, 3D Sweep Panorama (auto stitch).

if you're thinking of getting one, get the A55, it's like $200 more, but you get 10fps(a33 - 7fps), and 16.2 mega pixels.

anyway, all that is such a mouth-full.... here are the pixs.

Captured this while waiting for my daughter's swim training.
Sweep Panorama - Location is ACS (I) Swimming Pool spectator stands... the building in the middle is Fusionpolis.

Window view from my home. Using the Handheld Twilight feature that does not require a flash or a tripod.

A closeup shot using a 18-70mm lens.

Will be at the Istana today, it's Hari Raya Puasa, so it's open house. See if there are any interesting shots.

Want to know more about Hari Raya Puasa (click)
And about the Istana (click)

Wednesday, September 8

Travel to the US

I've been told by our lawyers that I can only travel to the US 10 days before the validity of my visa start date.

My original plan was to be there in mid-Oct during the PSLE marking days, also during that week my son only has a single O level paper.

With this advise from the lawyers, I have to push back my house hunting and school arrangement trip till the last week of Oct. That week (exams) will be the busiest week for my kids and we won't be around to take care of them.


Went to COMEX 2010

We were down at Suntec checking out the COMEX 2010 computer show. They had great deals there. Went on the last day, and they were slashing prices.

My son got a Acer notebook, my daughter bought a netbook with touch screen, and my maid bought a netbook as well.

I got myself a Sony Alpha a33 camera, the latest. Practicing everyday so that I can take some good pictures at my brother-in-law's wedding.

DS-160 Forms

Finally got all my visa documents from the lawyers.

just got my pictures done. Went online to fill out the ds160 form for everyone.

I must say filling out the form got me really tired. It timed-out so many times before I could save it.

TIP: Each time you fill out the form, make sure you save it, so if time expires, you can reload/import your last saved completed items.

So now I'm waiting for our interview on Sep 22.

Anyone been through the interview, what do they ask?

Monday, August 23

YOG Tennis

just made to the YOG Tennis Girls Finals after my son's GCE 'O' Level English Oral, as it turned out, with the rain, the match was delayed and we did not miss much.

After this game, there were 2 other matches, but we had to leave because we had to be at church that night. But again, both matches were postponed because of rain.

YOG Tennis Girls Finals

Pictures... not very good, in the rush I left my camera in the car, so had to use my blackberry.

I'm listening to "When You Are A Soldiers"

He is always there for you!

This version is from the movie "We Were Soldiers".

Verse 1
When you are a soldier, I will be your shield
And I will go with you into the battlefield
And when the arrows start to fly
Take my hand and hold on tight
'Cause I will be your shield
When you are a soldier

Verse 2
When you're tired from runnin'
I will cheer you on
Look beside you and you'll see you're not alone
And when all of your strength is gone
I'll carry you until you're strong
And I will be your shield
When you're a soldier

I will be the one that you can cry your songs to
And my eyes will share your tears and,
When you are sourrounded, the enemy is closing in
I will fight with you to the end

Verse 3
When you're lost in darkness
I will hold the light
And I will help you find your way through the night
I'll remind you of the truth
And keep the flame alive in you
And I will be your shield
Yes I will be your shield
When you are a soldier
When you are a soldier

There is another version with slightly different lyrics from his album "For the Sake of the Call"

When you are a soldier I will be your shield
I will go with you into the battlefield
And when the arrows start to fly
Take my hand and hold on tight
I will be your shield, 'cause I know how it feels
When you are a soldier

When you're tired from running
I will cheer you on
Look beside you and you'll see you're not alone
And when your strength is all but gone
I'll carry you until you're strong
And I will be your shield 'cause I know how it feels
When you're a soldier

I will be the one you can cry your songs to
My eyes will share your tears
And I'll be your friend if you win
Or if you're defeated
Whenever you need me I will be here

When you're lost in darkness I will hold the light
I will help you find your way through the night
I'll remind you of the truth
And keep the flame alive in you
And I will be your shield
'Cause I know how it feels
When you are a soldier

Wednesday, August 18

Rainer bags a Silver at YOG 2010

Finally we've got a Silver thanks to Rainer Ng.

Hooray! Congrats to the Singapore YOG team.

Swimmer Rainer wins Singapore’s first YOG silver medal

Rainer was only 0.09sec behind.

YOG - Men's 4 x 100m Freestyle Final

Watch Rainer Ng swim in the 50m Backstroke Final tonight, you can catch YOG 2010 live here - YOG 2010 Live TV 24/7

GCE 'O' Level MTL

My son got his mid-year Mother Tongue (Chinese) results, he passed...

I'm so happy for him, this subject has always been a problem for him.

Now he can concentrate on the other subjects.

Praise The Lord!

YOG 2010 Rainer Ng's Semi-final 2 Swim

Rainer swam a great race to qualify. His time was second fastest overall. Should be a close swim tonight.

This final is tonight, unfortunately I don't have tickets for it. We'll be cheering for him tonight on TV.

You can catch YOG 2010 live here - YOG 2010 Live TV 24/7

Tuesday, August 17

YOG 2010 Swimming

great atmosphere at the Singapore Sports School. Rainer Ng made it into the Finals of the 50m Backstroke, qualifying 2nd fastest overall.

Photobucket YOG 2010 - Aug 17 Swimming Evening Program
Photobucket Photobucket
Photobucket Photobucket

Saturday, August 14

YOG 2010

we were watching the YOG 2010 opening ceremony last night, and I told my son that I've got tickets for his sis & I to the swimming event.

it was unfortunate that tickets for basketball for all days are sold out. So I managed to get 2 more tickets for Tennis. He is in the midst of his GCE 'O' Level prelims, so trying to get a date and time for events is difficult.

Sometimes the time & date is good, either he's got a paper on that day or the tickets are sold out.

Friday, August 13

Every Singaporean Son

get your kids to watch this.... better still watch this together.

there are a total of 18 episodes. right now there are 6 episodes up. Here is the 1st episode - Every Singaporean Son - Episode 1

these videos are endorsed by MINDEF - MINDEF

very interesting for everyone, mothers, fathers and of course the kids.

if you think it's still like what we went through in our army days, this is now very different, more technical, but the physical fitness part is still there.

the route march is already very different, wearing vast to get them use to marching long distances.

A Spectator at YOG 2010

Just got my tickets to YOG Swimming competition. Will be going with my daughter, just want her to experience the competition environment and of course to watch how some of these young but experienced swimmers take on the challenge.

Maybe she can learn something.