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Monday, December 11, 2017

How To Grow Rosemary in the Tropics

1 tiny seedling in a BIG pot in July 2017.

The same seedling in December 2017.

7 tiny seedlings in generous pots in July 2017.

The same seedlings in December 2017.


Soil Mix
50% perlite + 50% Jiffy potting mix. However, any off the shelf cactus mix will work.


Sun Conditions
As much sun as possible. In the summer, near Aix en Provence, rosemary gets 10 to 11 hours of direct sun in temperatures of 40 Deg Celsius. They LOVE the sun. The more sun you give them, the faster they grow.


Water Conditions
They hate wet feet. Never water at night. Always water the rosemary at the time when the sun shines directly on its leaves. This ensures immediate transpiration throughout the plant and prevents wet feet at night.

Rosemary roots are susceptible to root rot. Once the fine tendrils of roots begin to rot, the rosemary will be unable to uptake water and nutrients. The leaves will begin to curl. The bottom leaves will turn brown.

If you do nothing, the root rot will spread and your rosemary will die.

How To Rescue a Rosemary Plant from Root Rot
Uproot the plant. Trim off the rotted roots. Be THOROUGH when you trim, or the root rot will spread. Then, your plant will die. Remove as much soil as possible. Lay the plant on DRY newspaper to dry out. When nice and dry, repot into CACTUS mix. 

Remember to note the percentage of roots you have removed. You will later need to trim the same percentage off the leaves and stems too.


Placement of Rosemary
Place under glass roof to get direct sunlight but NO RAIN. Rosemary hates rain. It hates daily watering. I only water when I feel the pot is very light (i.e., soil is fully dry). Feel the weight of your pot before watering. Feel the weight of your pot after watering. Water only when soil is DRY.

When watering, water generously until water drains out the pot holes below.


How to Rescue a Root Bound Rosemary
Most people prune the leaves of the rosemary to eat. However, to ensure the long term survival of a potted rosemary, it is important to trim its roots too. When the rosemary's large roots fill the pot, there is no space for the fine roots to grow. When that happens, there is again insufficient uptake of water and nutrients. The bottom leaves will turn brown and wither away.

A potted rosemary plant needs to be pruned at the roots and repotted in new cactus soil at least once a year. A video speaks a thousand words. Click HERE.


How to Fertilise a Rosemary
I give worm pee, Guanito pellets, Phenix pellets, gypsum powder, home made kitchen compost and worm poo. These are all organic fertilisers. I mix everything in water and steep overnight. Then, I water to all my plants, rosemary included.

I water all my plants with this very dilute fertiliser solution. It is always better to give very diluted fertiliser water, than to give a lot of fertiliser pellets. Too much fertiliser pellets will lead to fertiliser burn.


Rosemary From Nurseries or Cold Storage
It is in the financial interests of rosemary growers to...
- get a full and lush pot of rosemary in as little time as possible
- NOT facilitate the long term survival of your rosemary plant.

Hence, growers will crowd 4 to 5 seedlings to a pot. The rosemary hates having its roots crowded. If you want your rosemary to grow big, you need to give the roots ample space to grow, failing which, your rosemary will become root bound and die.

Hence, when you get a pot from the nursery, tease apart every individual plant and repot in its own generous pot with ample space to grow. Then, ensure a lot of direct sun, very little water and very well draining soil.













Kaypoh Jee

We have had a clutch of Zebra Dove eggs hatch in our garden. The babies grew up and forage in our garden for seeds and insects. They are very tame. They like to fly into the house to explore and to investigate what we are doing. Since they are a mated pair, I have named one bird, "Kaypoh" and the other bird "Jee". The female bird is Kaypoh and the male bird is Jee.

Together, they are Kaypoh Jee.

Milo has killed 2 birds previously already. After getting scolded, he has understood that he should be gentle. He did try to be gentle this time but the bird still suffered abrasions and lost feathers. I am quite sure that Milo means no harm. He simply does not know his own strength.

Anyway, he was sorry. We can tell because we made him sit in Naughty Corner. When we came back 10 minutes later, he was still in the Naughty Corner. Usually, if guilt is not weighing on his conscience, he gets out of the Naughty Corner the moment we leave the room. Misdemeanours like running out the gate for a jolly run around the neighbourhood is apparently not a sin in Milo's books. He barely even agrees to sit in Naughty Corner. When he does, he has that Roll Eyes This Is Unfair Look on his face.

This time, he looked very sorry.


Milo in Naughty Corner.

Kaypoh is doing well, eating a lot and is very perky. Jee comes by often to visit her. I don't dare to let her go because I caught some mynahs circling the cage. They can tell that she is hurt. If I set her free and her feathers are not grown back, the mynahs will kill her.




Thursday, December 7, 2017

Childhood Dream Come True

The irony of my life is that I never dreamt of all the most treasured blessings that I do possess. The childhood dreams that I had, usually did not come to pass. I dreamt of becoming a Princess. Nope! Didn't happen! I dreamt of living in a renovated shophouse. Then, I discovered that they tend to be dark houses, with the occasional ghostly inhabitant. My dream crumbled to nothing. I also dreamt of living in a castle (goes with being a Princess you see) but castles are very cold places in winter, and cost a lot to heat (which offends my bank account).

I dreamt of owning a doll house. Other girls had doll houses. I never had one. Now I have one! Yay! It is not as nice as this one HERE, but still, I love it.


The fridge has ice cubes, bottles of cold water, milk, butter and cheeese. The telephone comes with 2 thick phone books and its own table.

The piano comes with a piano score. The oven comes with a shepherd's pie and cookies on a tray.

The meal is set for 4 people, with lemonade, pizza, cake, ice cream and a salad.

Little Boy's bedroom is in the loft. See how full his schoolbag is? Apparently, he does Music in school.

The Daughter's bedroom is at the top of the tree house. She has her very own patio and a sweet, girlie room.

I insisted to have a garden. The Husband can read his newspapers in the lovely armchair too!

Finally, I now have an outdoor bathroom with a clawfoot tub!

The toilet adjoins the bathroom.

The laundry room comes with a laundry basket, softener and liquid detergent.


There is even a garden swing!

The buffet table has a vase with flowers. The study desk has a pencil sharpener, pencils and a crayon.

Apparently, my helper's childhood dream has also been fulfilled. She saw me, head bent over my tiny furnishings and she asked, "Can I help?" Forthwith, I am not sure who had more fun - she or I. It has become quite interesting to get up in the mornings to see things moved around in surprising ways. Then, I proceed to move them somewhere else.

It is like the characters got up in the night and moved around, but sigh... I know it is my helper.




Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Buat Bodoh Syndrome In Kids

To date, I have experienced 5 children with the Buat Bodoh syndrome. These are highly intelligent children who DELIBERATELY underperform.

The First One
The first one that came my way, it took me 3 years to figure it out. This is a family so blessed with intelligence and talent that the other 2 siblings are world class in their passion. I do not mean this as a hyperbole. They are truly world class as in, they win worldwide competitions REGULARLY. We gave this child every benefit of the doubt.

He was clearly intelligent. Yet, he did poor work for me.

We got him diagnosed as ADD. We applied ADD strategies and put him on vitamins and a special diet. Things worked for a while and then they stopped working. We put him on every therapy I could devise to help him focus. Then, he was caught stealing something from his brother. Only then did I put two and two together.

He was jealous. This eldest boy had figured out that whenever he underperformed, his Mother was forced to spend more time with him. Doing too well in school meant that he would get less time with his Mom. So we made some adjustments to parent strategies. Mommy started giving him a special afternoon a week to make up for her absences taken when she accompanied the other 2 siblings to overseas competitions.

This intelligent little one must have figured out that I had something to do with his Mommy spending more time with him. Hence, in an attempt to manipulate me to advise his Mommy to spend even more time with him, every one of his weekly PSLE compos done for me included an irritating brother. I know! I get it! You don't like your brother! You feel neglected! However, there is a limit beyond which it becomes unfair to take parent time away from another sibling. His Mom began to look harried and stressed. She was almost whining when she confided in me, "I spend a lot of time with him on his schoolwork, more than with the other two." 

So, I ignored his shenanigans, choosing instead to give technical feedback about his compositions.

So, this child upped the ante. He began to underperform seriously, hoping that I would then advise his Mom to spend more time to help him perform.

I did quite the opposite. After all, if we care for this boy, it would not do to reward him for being a Damsel in Distress. These sorts of children grow up into adults who live their lives expecting handouts from their parents. They will become deliberate losers so as to perpetuate the pattern of, "If you love me, you will help me. If you love me, you will give me."

I expelled him from my centre and explicitly told the whole family (in the boy's presence) that henceforth, the child should get attention only when he performed. He went on to win himself a coveted DSA spot in a good school, a scholarship and an A* for English.

He obtained his A* for English BECAUSE he was expelled from tuition, not because he stayed in tuition. So you see, I must be the only tutor who gets A* by NOT teaching a student.


The 2nd One
The 2nd time, it took me 7 months to figure it out. She hid her intelligence so well that I thought she was poor in Higher Order Thinking. She would stare for long minutes at easy questions. Her answers made strange and illogical connections.

I would never have found out except that this child LOVES to lead. She ADORES bossing people around. She is not only intelligent, she is also a gifted leader of other children, and a strong influencer of adults. However, in my classes, leaders are chosen only when I see them master the academic material 3 times faster than others.

These are often the high potential and gifted kids who see the answers almost as fast as they read the questions. These, I load them with further cognitive challenge over and above the academic material. On top of learning English, they must learn strategies to influence and lead.

As long as she stayed stupid, I would never choose her to lead. The metamorphosis was amazing. She morphed from a tricycle to a Ferrari in less than a month. When she unleashed her intelligence upon us all, even I was taken aback. In the 2017 SA2, she scored full marks for compre and listening compre. In compo, she was 1 mark away from the top in class. This was in stark contrast to her grades in SA1 where she was below average.

Again, this child is the eldest of 3. Tellingly, her Mom also said, "I spend the MOST time with her. She needs me the MOST." Oh well, it just goes to show that the Buat Bodoh (i.e., Act Stupid) strategy works! If the Asian child buat bodoh, the Asian mother will give her more attention.

These days, this one's brain ticks along as fast as a GEP brain. I bet you that she deliberately underperformed at the GEP testing too.


The 3rd One
This one was sloppy and careless. So, I requested that his Mother activate Throwback Therapy according to my method steps. Since his Mother and I were not close, I had little idea of the family dynamics until one weekend when Mommy was away at a ballet competition with a younger sibling. That day, this boy's brain shut down. The homework was disgusting and he completely drifted off in class.

If you know how Dr. Pet's classes are run, you will know that drifting off is quite hard to do. Apparently, he was determined to do so. He was on strike. His Mom was off giving her time to another sibling. He refused to work.

Troubleshooting with Mommy, I heard a now familiar plaintiveness in her voice, "This boy takes a lot from me. This oldest child needs attention from me all the time. I spend the most time with him."

Dear reader, you see a pattern now?


The 4th One
I am quite proud myself. At least, it shows that I learn from experience. I diagnosed this one within 2 months. This one cleared GEP testing 1st round. Yet, he could not answer simple questions with no right or wrong answers (e.g., What do you think of Cuthbert?) that other children who did NOT clear GEP testing 1st round breezed through.

His ineptitude sucked attention from everyone. At one point, he was assigned a student guide, a facilitator and myself. We were all waiting for gold to drop from his mouth. He held the puppet strings and was the puppet master. He had successfully become the centre of attention.

This one wasn't quite as skilful because he tried from Week 1 to draw my attention in a way that got me suspicious. He did it well, but he overdid it and he did not account for the fact that I tend to have very opposite reactions to some stimuli than normal teachers.


Analysis
I have 5 cases but I shall not bore my readers with the details of all 5. After a while, every case has the same contours...
- eldest or elder child
- highly intelligent parents
- busy parents
- child overdoes the stupid act (i.e., even simple questions he/she has problems with)

Why does it happen?

You see. If your children are spaced closely together, the older one is not quite out of baby stage when the younger one is born. If you have experienced the homecoming of a baby, you know that a new baby sucks attention from everyone simply because he/she is completely helpless. If your slightly older one is intelligent, he/she will figure out within the 1st month that if he/she regresses towards babyhood, he would successfully grab parent attention and time away from his newborn sibling.

Parents are of course clueless. The pattern propagates itself through the years. The more helpless the older one, the more time he/she gets.

If you have an intelligent eldest/elder child who spends an entire childhood Buat Bodoh, he/she will really become bodoh once puberty hits and his/her body activates synaptic pruning (see HERE).

I wrote this post for any parent out there who has an eldest child who is needy and underperforming. The solution is twofold

(1) to signal to this eldest child that he/she will get attention only if he/she performs, NOT when he/she underperforms

(2) to make conscious effort to divide time/attention equally between children (do NOT tell your elder one that you must spend more time with the younger ones because they are more helpless).








Monday, November 27, 2017

Purslane and Brazilian Spinach Oats Porridge



The porridge is vegetarian but I gave my son a meat topping.

Brazilian spinach on top.


Ornamental purslane.


Wild purslane. This plant grows in many gardens like a weed. Save some money. Eat weeds.

Brazilian spinach.

See HERE for the nutritional profile of purslane. See HERE for the nutritional profile of brazilian spinach. Both plants are hardy (quite invasive) and require very little care. They are nutrition packed too. For someone trying to be as self-sufficient as possible for vegetables, I am so going to grow a lot of both plants.




Tuesday, November 14, 2017

2017 SA2 Results





This one did badly at SA1 too.











This child is one of the few who are dyslexic.


This one topped the cohort. She is writing short stories for me.

When this one started, I thought she CMI (cannot make it). She had such an awful attitude to work.






Friday, November 3, 2017

Hyatt VS Shangri-La, Singapore

The Waterfall Cafe made me a special gluten free dessert.

In February this year, a friend and I went to 10 Scotts at The Grand Hyatt Singapore, where I experienced gluten poisoning. We had asked for gluten free bread but (1) when we tested it with the NIMA, there was gluten and (2) by the time we tested, I had already eaten a fair bit, so I had diarrheoa.

The hotel refunded us the money for the meal. Someone called and apologised nicely. The poor chef who was put in charge of providing us gluten free options had done his best. He could not know that the gluten free bread that The Hyatt hotel had bought from a 3rd party supplier had gluten. He also told us that the gluten free bread was heated up in the same oven as normal bread. This can result in cross-contamination.

Frankly, for celiacs, cross-contamination can be very serious. Celiacs experience a wide range of symptoms in reaction to even tiny powder flecks of gluten. Some are as mild as rashes. Others break out in boils on the scalp, experience thyroid malfunction, become suicidal, have diarrhoea and develop muscle ache.

A 5 star hotel needs to be more responsible than this when placing a dish on the table, calling it gluten free.

I did not want to make a big fuss so when Customer Service called. I praised the chef for his efforts and requested that somebody get back to me about their investigation into why their gluten free bread contained gluten. Oh well... nobody did ever get back to me. I guess they were not sincere about offering gluten free options. Once they knew that I was not angry, they stopped worrying.

I guess it really is up to the hotel to decide whether the dollars from the gluten free crowd is worth their effort. It is, after all, a business decision. I mean, I don't expect businessmen to care about whether their food harms me or not.

Then, I experienced The Shangri-La. The Shangri-La in Sentosa had an entire breakfast section that was gluten free. The morning buffet had allergen labels clearly marking each dish - dairy, nuts, gluten. Every single waiter was trained and knew what to do when told that I am celiac. The Head Chef explained to me the kitchen processes he had instituted to prevent cross-contamination. I was not just impressed. I was overjoyed. The hotel really cared! I did not expect them to, but they did! I was used to starving in places full of good food that I cannot eat. So, I was overjoyed.

The Shangri-La Sentosa's Singaporean Head Waiter told me that he had worked all over Europe, and was very familiar with allergen serving processes. I then discovered The Waterfall Cafe in Shangri-La, Orange Grove Rd. You can see that The Waterfall Cafe is SERIOUS about gluten cross contamination. Unlike the Hyatt Hotel, The Shangri-La has professional kitchen processes that go beyond any individual chef. You can tell from the small things such as the one below.

The gluten free desserts are on the very top shelf. This means that crumbs from the other gluten-full desserts will not drop onto a gluten free dessert.


I eat at the Shangri-La once, sometimes twice, a week. On weekends, I bring my whole family there  for gluten free pasta. When I go out with friends, we always go there too. My friends are kind enough to let me choose where I can eat safely. If only 1 person in a group of 10 is an allergy sufferer, it is often that allergy sufferer who will pick a venue for meals. At least, that has been my experience.

Needless to say, I am disappointed that The Grand Hyatt, Singapore never got back to me on their investigation. I don't think they even cared to investigate nor put in allergen friendly kitchen processes, after my experience. I am sad too because I don't dare to ever eat in any one of The Grand Hyatt, Singapore's restaurants again.

I am also sad because whilst I have every confidence that every one and any one of the Shangri-La Hotels internationally are allergen friendly, I am not sure of The Hyatt... even The Grand Hyatts. I had wanted to book a stay at The Grand Hyatt in Bali, Nusa Dua. I waited and waited for The Grand Hyatt, Singapore to get back to me on my experience of gluten poisoning. They never did. So, I never booked their hotel in Bali.

I was also waiting for an update from the Hyatt Hotel so that I could update on the local celiac FB group (with 1,434 members in Singapore alone and visiting celiac members who join because they are heading into Singapore for their holidays, and need to know where it is safe to eat). Celiacs know they have few places to eat safely. So, when someone posts that a place is safe, ALL OF US make a trip down.

Similarly, when 1 person gets gluten-poisoned, NO ONE else dares to go to that same place anymore. No one wants to break out in boils after a meal.

If all 1,434 members in that FB group have 4 family members who, even though, not celiac, must eat at celiac safe places, that is a total of 5,736 paxes lost to the The Grand Hyatt's restaurants. Occasionally, the Waterfall Cafe at lunch, is fully booked because of corporate bookings. 2 people in that group had food allergies. As a result, all 25 people had to book the Waterfall Cafe.

Then again, this is perhaps too small a market for The Hyatt to worry about. So, thank heavens we have the Shangri-La.



Friday, October 27, 2017

Cashew Cream Cheese and Cashew Cream Sauce



Vegan cashew cream sauce on gluten free gnocchi.

Cashew cream on buckwheat crackers.

Thanks to going 90% vegetarian, my LDL-C (bad cholesterol) dropped from 5.66 mmol/L to 4.26 mmol/L in 3 months. My HDL-C (good cholesterol) dropped from 1.36 to 1.19.

I decided to explore dairy free alternatives too. After all, I learn more as a cook and if plant-based creaminess can be achieved, why not? So, I experimented with cashew cheese. It is mind-blowingly good! Melted into a sauce for pasta, it really gives normal carbonara sauce a good bang for the buck, minus the animal fat.

HERE is the recipe.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Petunia's Wildlife Rescued/Cooked

We have a small patch of jungle nearby where birds roost and monitor lizards hide. In the past 6 months, there have been building works in there. The animals are all hiding in my house. We found a baby monitor lizard running around frantically in the middle of our living room floor, launching itself desperately at the full length glass doors. ACRES came and let it loose in the small patch of jungle near our house. The day after, it promptly came back.

Zebra doves like to fly into the house looking for a place to build nests and roost. They also like to forage in my garden for seeds, leaves and insects. Milo had killed one before. Last night, he killed another in the garden. Our Myanmarese helper made zebra dove soup (carrots, tomato, onions, ginger and turmeric).

Baby water monitor lizard.

Zebra dove soup in the thermal pot.

Zebra dove plated and served. Do I dare to eat it? Should I eat it?




Monday, October 23, 2017

The Farting Drunk

When most children reach Primary 4, they develop some sense of decorum. Not this one. He farted loudly in class one day, which melted all the other children into giggles. Apparently, he enjoyed being able to make his friends laugh so the week after, he farted and farted and farted in class.

Loudly farting with great aplomb is such a socially unacceptable behaviour that the other children laughed embarrassedly, and my facilitator was at a loss how to address the issue with the child. After all, some people are naturally gassy and they cannot help it. Besides, everyone farts right? How do you scold a child who has bad digestion? He cannot help it, can he?

It got to a point where the child was doing it on purpose. He enjoyed being the centre of attention. He was starting to irritate his friends with his loud anal explosions. It took some firm counselling to put it across to the child that Dr. Pet's classes are not communal toilets à la ancient romans. The old convivial practice where upstanding Roman Senators would adjourn to the communal toilet, seat themselves nicely and discuss important political decisions to the accompaniment of loud bodily exertions from the other end died with the ancient Romans. Thankfully so. Else, I imagine that I might be conducting class with students on potties in order to socialise them into the practice of making important decisions whilst shitting together.

Lesson learnt. Problem solved. The child in question learnt that loud melodious farting worthy of the best operatic traditions was to be done in private and preferably in the toilet, or somewhere outside where there are strong monsoon winds.

I sighed with pride. I had taught a little boy good manners. From fart-itesse to politesse, as it were. I sighed too soon.

I arrived in class to the sight of the child's beatific smile. He looked very happy. He swayed from side to side. Then, he pointed an unsteady finger at me and grinned joyfully, saying, "Dr. Pet, you are like gollum today." I wasn't quite sure how to respond and what was wrong with this child. I looked at him and then left the room.

As class progressed, his exuberance irritated his classmates. He kept telling one that she was wrong. When the facilitator confirmed the answers, he pointed a finger at her and said, "I told you so!" When he got a difficult question right, he punched the air with a loud "Yes!" This prompted another very irritated child to say, "Ok! Now you can apply for a President's Scholarship."

I was mystified by what I saw on the CCTV. He looked drunk and immensely jolly.

It turned out that he was, in fact, drunk. He had taken dragonfruit enzyme just before class and gotten a nice shot of alcohol into his system, which relaxed all his inhibitions. As such, he went from politesse to simple pest.

Moral of the story: Do not feed your children alcohol before class.


Friday, October 20, 2017

Desmond Kuek Should Resign?


Somebody sent me the above picture. At first, I laughed. It was such an ingenious piece of art. Then, I became sad.

Wreckage at the Bottom of Ocean
If truth be told, Desmond Kuek is not capsizing a healthy ship. Desmond Kuek took charge of the SMRT ship at a time when the SMRT ship was already at the bottom of the ocean. He has spent the last 5 years raising it from the depths. We all know that raising a ship from the depths is an exercise fraught with danger. Lui Tuck Yew's political career died in that process.

Khaw Boon Wan saw his friend Lui Tuck Yew's career go down into the depths of the ocean. Yet, Khaw bravely took on the Ministry of Transport. Surely he must know it is political suicide? At the time Khaw took the helm at the Ministry of Transport, the SMRT ship was halfway resurrected from the depths. Under Khaw's watch, 2 men died on the tracks and a flood overwhelmed the system. This did not happen on the watch of the Naughty Saw Phaik Hua and whomever the forgettable-did-nothing-to-prevent-problem Minister was at that time. It happened on the watch of a man (Khaw) who dove in to raise the ship from the depths.

Why?

Really, if you leave the SMRT wreckage sitting at the bottom of the ocean, nothing will go wrong.

At most, there is no SMRT ship lohhhh... then, people will walk, cycle, drive to work lohhhh... They have to go to work mah... They will find a way. Just leave the SMRT ship to rot quietly, its decks colonised by fish and coral. Why not? The SMRT railway tracks can be turned into cycling paths. Its tunnels can be used as storage or underground homes. Imagine living in an underground bunker home surrounded by a gigantic fish tank on all sides. You look out your windows and see blue water and fish. Fully private and so exclusive!

However, when a ship is halfway up towards the ocean surface, that is when things can go wrong spectacularly. Things have. Men have died... a flood and pregnant women walked on train tracks in deep, dark, dank tunnels. All that was laid at the door of one poor man - Desmond Kuek. If he had stayed a Permanent Secretary, he would today, still have his stellar reputation as a committed and loyal government servant. He can hold his head high in front of his children, wife and relatives.

He took on the challenge of raising the SMRT ship from the depths. As a result, his name has been dragged through the mud. His reputation is in tatters. He will be remembered in history as a spectacular overpaid FAILURE.

The whole world clamours for his resignation. The whole world wants to see him bow. Frankly, I find this bowing business super ridiculous. How many of you, when you make mistakes at work, need to bow to your boss? You lost a deal. You bowed to your boss? You sent out a wrong email. You also bowed? Why not prostrate yourself too? They do it in Japan, you know. Are you Japanese?

We forget that Rescue Missions are those most fraught with danger. If you don't rescue, nothing will go wrong. If you choose to rescue, anything can go wrong.

Desmond Kuek's Hard Work, Another's Glory
Believe you me. The next person who takes the helm of the SMRT is one lucky person. He/she will have glory poured on him/her that rightly belongs to Desmond Kuek. This is because in the past 5 years, Desmond Kuek has worked hard and well. The ship is almost reaching the surface. You cannot tell? Nobody has been paying attention to reports on how many kms of sleepers have been replaced, how much of the 3rd rail has been replaced, how much of the signaling system has been renewed? Whomever replaces Desmond Kuek merely is in the right place, at the right time.

Retrench or Re-educate
I saw people complain that American CEOs have 9 months to change the culture of a company. Ahhhh... but consider this. American MNCs are notorious for retrenching people. It is easy to change a culture when you choose to hire and fire. When Desmond Kuek first replaced SMRT Senior Management with people he thought had the right attitude, the whole world excoriated him. Look now at the abuse heaped upon Ng Yat Chung because of the SPH retrenchments. If cannot retrench, the only way to change a culture from sloppy to high performance, is to re-educate sloppy people.

It is very hard to do that. I know this from experience.

Parents entrust me their children to teach. Necessarily, their children imbibe their parents' values. In some families, people are just sloppy. Everything is sloppy except their clothes. For some reason, they always dress well. The parents are sloppy and the children are sloppy too. When these children do HW for me, they are sloppy. Week after week, HW comes in without full stops and in incomplete sentences. In cases where the parents share my values, I can change the child. In cases where the parents do not share my values, I can do nothing but refuse to teach the child.

It is close to impossible to change a sloppy adult.

So, Desmond Kuek cannot retrench staff BUT he must miraculously change the company culture from ultra sloppy to ultra high performing, via re-education in just 9 months. If you can do it then why aren't you the CEO of an American MNC? If you can't, then why abuse Desmond Kuek?

For those of you who think that Desmond Kuek should have retrenched people so that you can get to work on time, think a bit about the lives of those who work in SMRT - the old technicians, the old managers, the old station staff. They all have dependents - children, wives and parents. In some cases, they are the sole breadwinners. In the wider scheme of things, does getting to work on time measure up to the intensity of pain each of these old timers (and their families) will go through if retrenching was done so that Desmond Kuek would have a shortcut to glory? Is it not better to re-educate, and only get rid of those who stubbornly refuse to change?

Re-education takes time.

Bullies! Bullies! Bullies!
People, it is nothing short of BULLYING that we are doing. We are bullying men who put their entire lives' STERLING REPUTATIONS in jeopardy (eyes wide shut) to help resuscitate the SMRT wreckage lying at the bottom of the ocean. We are bullying men with lifetimes of sterling public service. Khaw turned around MoH and MND. He is the reason why I can walk into Khoo Teck Puat Hospital and receive a quality of healthcare that people in England envy. When I visit my public healthcare oncologist, the waiting room has apples. In many public hospitals around the world, the waiting room has mould. Yet, it looks likely that Khaw too is headed towards an early political death. Khaw will be remembered as a failure too.

The person who made the picture above is a gifted artist. Why not use your gifting to uplift and encourage instead of bully?

I think people are such hypocrites. When Lui Tuck Yew left politics, people lamented - the same people who abused him whilst he was in office were suddenly full of kindness and compassion. So now what? You wanna chase away Khaw Boon Wan and Desmond Kuek too, so that you can show more hypocritical kindness and compassion? Wouldn't a change in leadership jeopardise the SMRT recovery at a time when the ship is so close to surfacing as would triply benefit from a steady hand?

For the Record
Whatever the public record states about these 2 men, I want to leave a trace on the internet that celebrates both men as Lions among men, and modern day Heroes. We are blessed to have such men among us, not that we deserve them.







Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Gluten Free Onsen Eggs Benedict

Since it is close to impossible to get gluten free eggs benedict, we decided to have an Outside Breakfast at home. I put in extra effort to make a pretty display.


Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Blue pea flower and fruit salad

After making nasi ulam HERE, my garden opens up whole vistas of new opportunities for yumminess. Over time, I had collected various ginger plants. I never thought of eating the leaves. Along with the curry plant, the kedongdong, the piperomia, the various ginger leaves can really liven up a plain salad.





Sunday, October 15, 2017

Nasi Ulam



1) Kencur rhizome or sand ginger (HERE)
2) Kunyit rhizome or turmeric (HERE)
3) Limau purut leaves or kaffir lime (HERE)
4) Bunga kantan or torch ginger flower (HERE)
5) Kedongdong leaves (HERE). Use the very young leaves.
6) Pudina leaves or mint leaves (HERE)
7) Limau kasturi or calamondin lime (HERE)
8) Daun shiso or perilla leaves (HERE)
9) Daun ketumbar or coriander leaves (HERE)
10) Daun kemangi or thai basil leaves (HERE)
11) Daun kari or curry leaves (HERE). Use the very young leaves.
12) Daun serai (HERE). Use only the tender hearts.
13) Dried prawns. Toast and blend into a powder. Then toast again.
14) Kacang botol or winged beans (HERE)
15) Turmeric leaf

You need to make a sambal belacan accompaniment - HERE.

I am sorry there are no proportions. Simply taste the various leaves and roots. Add more of those you like and less of those you dislike. Omit those you really cannot stand. Normally, people add ulam rajah (King's salad) but mehhhh... I don't like the taste of that.

I cannot believe I grew up in Singapore and never fell in love with nasi ulam. I have had it 3 times this week.




Monday, September 11, 2017

Diverticulitis

After I went on my whole foods plant-based diet, I encountered 2 conversations that has strengthened my resolve to eat as much real food as I can. Whole foods = food that is as little processed as possible. Plant-based = food that does not come from animals.

In the first conversation, a friend was telling me about her Dad who is already in his 70s. He was hospitalised for rectal bleeding. He passed copious amounts of blood every time he went to the toilet. He almost died from loss of blood.

In the 2nd conversation, The Daughter recounted her friend's experience in Barcelona. An elderly parent succumbed to food poisoning. After a period of vomiting, he vomited copious amounts of blood too.

Apparently, when people eat a lot of meat, dairy and processed foods, the walls of their colon develop pouches that bulge into the intestinal tract. As food passes through, these pouches of intestinal wall are susceptible to rupture leading to massive blood loss. Since the rupture is internal, it is very hard to pinpoint the location. Much blood is lost before something can be done to plug up the rupture.

I tell you. Both these stories freaked me out no end. I guess that by the time one gets to 70-ish, skin and flesh lose elasticity and are prone rupture. Hence, an entire lifetime of eating meat, dairy and low fibre foods catches up on one.

Apparently, diverticultis (see HERE) is a 1st world country disease. In poorer countries, people have more vegetables in their diet. I wonder how many Singaporeans will end up with diverticulitis because whenever I go out to the hawker centre, every stall sells meat. In some stalls, the main dish is meat with a few slivers of vegetables. It has become rather hard to eat out these days because I can't eat gluten and I won't eat meat.




Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Mosquito Net

I used to think a 4 poster bed an unnecessary expenditure. To me, such beds looked imposing and took up a lot of space, but served not much practical purpose. Those were the days when I relied on wall plug-ins against mosquitoes.

The mosquitoes were knocked out by the chemicals that filled my bedroom every night. The same chemicals also disrupted my endocrine system, causing all sorts of hormonal imbalances. I was in ill health for years.

I was too stingy to buy a new bed so I tried everything else possible from ...

(1) lighting mosquito coils in the day to chase away mosquitoes

(2) diffusing citronella oil in the day to chase away mosquitoes

(3) using an electrified mosquito bat to hunt down mosquitoes before bed time

All these measures worked for years because the mosquitoes flying about were the aedes aegypti ones. Then, the NEA introduced the wolbachia virus into aedes aegypti mosquitoes, to disrupt their reproductive cycle. The wolbachia virus rendered the male aedes aegypti mosquitoes sterile. This meant no new aedes aegypti mosquitoes were being born.

Measures (1) to (3) above were good for aedes aegypti mosquitoes, which are active in the daytime. They did not work for those mosquitoes that bit in the night. With the disappearance of the aedes aegypti mosquitoes, we began to see other types of mosquitoes appear in our bedroom. These were active all night.

We had sleepless nights.

I was so desperate for a solution that I bought a 4 poster bed online. The mosquito net was a whole long story on its own. I approached the curtain shop and they charged me $850. The shop that sold me the bed retailed one for $350. I went on Amazon and got one delivered for $35.

It has been bliss. Once the mosquito net is down, we sleep the sleep of babies with no fear of mosquitoes. Best of all, we are not breathing in anti-mosquito noxious fumes all night.



Monday, July 24, 2017

Eating A Plant-Based Whole Foods Diet

I watched a documentary entitled Forks Over Knives. Overnight, I switched to a WholeFoodsPlantBasedDiet. I had been on the diet for 2 days before I introduced the documentary to The Husband. Overnight, he embraced the diet.

In the beginning, he complained a little and looked sad whenever his children ate meat in front of him. By Day 4, he was hooked. He wouldn't eat meat even when I asked him to.

The cooking is so much less of a hassle too because I pressure cook the vegetables in water before adding some fish sauce and olive oil to flavour. It takes 2 minutes to pressure cook carrots so you can imagine the amount of time saved in the kitchen. With this diet, I also forage more in the garden, plucking flowers and young leaves to add to the salad.

By Day 4, The Husband and I were full of energy. We did not miss meat at all!

I am told that I should supplement with some meat occasionally so that we can get all the amino acids we need, as well as the vitamin B12. We will do that. The aim will be to eat only 3 meals with a bit of top grade organic meat or seafood.

The remaining meat in the freezer is going to last us a long while.


Buckwheat, asparagus, pumpkin flowers. The pumpkin flowers are from the garden.

Roasted carrots, sweet potato, cherry tomatoes, carrots and tandoori chickpeas on a bed of salad greens.

Portobello mushroom steak topped with sweet potato + roasted cherry tomatoes + amaranth leaves (from the garden) + cranberries + figs + fermented red cargo rice..

Jackfruit seeds, jackfruit, avocado, cherries, bananas and freshly bloomed pumpkin flowers.

Caramel dipped walnuts, avocado, jackfruit seeds, jackfruit, young buah long long leaves, pumpkin, brinjal and lady fingers.

Lady fingers, jackfruit seeds, jackfruit, pumpkin flowers and chopped cucumber.