Sunday, February 26, 2006

"Lost" is coming back to local TV!

At long bloody last! Season 2's almost freaking over in the States! Anyway, I've found a cool stream of Last Season's soundtracks, including my fave, I Shall Not Walk Alone, by The Blind Boys of Alabama. To kick start the mood, you know.

Hello again, Maggie...

Friday, February 24, 2006

Oasis live in Singapore

Best, have not been to a rock concert for ages. Good stuff, they sang quite a few old hits, like Morning Glory, Wonderwall and (saved till the last) Don't Look Back in Anger. Lots of energy. Save for the few investment-banker types who just had to check their Crackberries during the gig.

Good crowd.

Bussed to the concert in a Hippo bus...
with champagne on board...
following a pre-concert party at Molly Malone's...
all in all a good night, I'd say!

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Xin-Hui @ ballet

Yesterday was an important day. You see, Xin-Hui goes to this ballet school which doesn't allow parents to sit in, or even peep in to the classes so as not to disturb the students (though Mommy did sit in one when she first started). Only once a year do they bring all the parents in to see what the girls have learnt, and yesterday was it.

Xin-Hui certainly seems to enjoy ballet, which is nice. But more importantly, since going for the classes, she has been a lot more confident in doing things on her own, away from Mommy and Daddy or her everyday school environment. Far cry from a year ago when she was so afraid of attending ballet on her own. Next target - swimming class.

Go pc!

My bro pc has hooked up with Expat@Large in a tag-team weight loss challenge dubbed Large2Medium. Going to the extent of posting some seriously sensitive photos on the net! Solidlah bro. Keep it up!

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Simply, mesmerisingly... sand

More at
First there was Google...

Then came GMail.

Now, its GBuy!

If you still don't get it, check this out.

Thanks to mrbrown for the heads up.


Saturday, February 11, 2006

Hairy crabs invade the UK!

Apparently this is could be an ecological disaster for them. So I thought like, duuuh, just eat the little buggers lah (or at least export them to China, HK and Singapore). Then some further surfing reveals that the crabs often carry the vile-sounding Oriental lung fluke, which can infect the lung and brain in humans. Ewwww.

Eh sai chiak bor?

Friday, February 03, 2006

A quantitative look at two children's charities

I thought that I should start to be more charitable, after being called a cynic in a comment to an earlier post. So I decided to have a closer look at two children's charities, Club Rainbow (see Mr Wang's post on this) and the Children's Society, and at their finances in particular.

First off, I'll have to say that readily available financial information leaves some room for improvement. In Club Rainbow's case, the numbers did not appear to be fully broken down. For example, we cannot see how much exactly was spent on fundraising (the numbers could be interpreted to mean that no money was spent on fundraising at all, but I think this is unlikely). Neither charity offers its annual report for downloading. I did get a copy of the Children's Society's annual report for 2004 upon request, but I was surprised to see that it did not contain any financial information. In this day and age, I can only hope that this will improve.

So, relying on information for the year 2004 from the two charities' websites (which were of a standard format and seemed to be mandated by some regulation or other), I noticed a few things:

  1. Club Rainbow is a much smaller organisation, with S$538,000 raised (numbers rounded to the nearest thousand), S$694,000 in its general fund and eight staff. The Children's Society raised S$6.8m, had S$18.9m in its general fund and employed 91 staff.

  2. Direct charitable expenses made up 41 cents out of every dollar Club Rainbow spent. For the Children's Society, it was 70 cents. Maybe its small size worked against Club Rainbow.

  3. For every dollar raised from donations, grants, sponsorships and membership fees, the Children's Society spent just 7 cents in fundraising costs. That's impressive. No reliable calculation could be done for Club Rainbow.

  4. For every dollar of income, Club Rainbow ran a deficit of 53 cents while the Children's Society had a surplus of 14 cents. Average cost per employee for Club Rainbow was S$46,000, while for the Children's Society it was S$28,000.

  5. The ratio of general funds (i.e. available reserves) to direct charitable expenses for the Club Rainbow was 2.0, while for the Children's Society, it was 4.6. The Children's Society seems to have more room to gear up on its charitable activites, while Club Rainbow appears to be in more need of funds.
I also thought that it would be a good idea to see who was heading up the two charities. It's good to see prominent persons in business and society in these key positions, since they have lots to lose if their charity is found to have engaged in any undesirable shenanigans. Club Rainbow's president is Gregory Vijayendran. He is a Partner at Wong Partnership and co-heads the firm's Banking and Insolvency practice. Chairman of the Children's Society is Koh Choon Hui. He is Chairman and Managing Director Roche Singapore Pte Ltd (yes, think Tamiflu).

My feel is that the finances of Children's Society read like a decently-run organisation, with ratios which put the old NKF to shame and capacity to do more, while those of Club Rainbow reveal a more immediate need for funds. Which is more worthy of support? Maybe both are. I'll make up my mind shortly. What strikes me, though, is that Singapore does sorely need a charity rating organisation, like the US' Charity Navigator, itself a non-profit entity. Now, in the name of greater transparency, that surely deserves support.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Weeee're back!

Major photo update. So the whole gang trooped back to Mama and Yeye's for Chinese New Year (trooped being the operative word, considering the logistical complexities of moving one baby, one lively little girl and a maid). Not much visiting this year, mostly stayed at home. Xin-Hui had a blast of course, playing with the younger cousins, running around the house, playing with sparklers and galavanting with Yeye. Jia-Hui was hesitant initially about her first time away from home, but gradually warmed to the occasion. All the kids got dressed up, which was nice, and Daddy put on 2 kg, which was not so nice...

Xin-Hui catches the Korean wave.

A rare family shot.

Fun with sparklers.

The girls and their Mama.

Yeye and Jia-Hui.

Glad to be home!