How to Cheat at Soccer

How to Cheat at Soccer

Dear Boys,

This was an interesting story since your dad is not a ‘ball’ guy, and has little or no interest whatsoever in anything ballsy. This happened back in 2006 when I was with the bank.

For cohesion, banks usually will have ‘Recreational Clubs’ to organize activities for the staffs to have fun and bond over non-work related activities. So there was this ‘7-a-side’ soccer tournament and my friends in the department wanted to join. The rule was to form a team of 10, 7 playing, 3 reserves. The guys got a team of 9, and chided me to join as the tenth guy, I was thinking, well, I’m gonna chip in a name to make up the numbers, and probably sit out the whole thing; just a warm body on the bench. No sweat right? I honestly do not plan to see any action, soccer’s not my thing.

The other part was, I mistakenly thought this was Futsal, which is played in a very small area, and with that in mind, I don’t think I’d be expecting a lot of running, even if I played. No sweat.

I Actually Played Soccer!

The tournament was held at St Wilfred Soccer field, which was actually a full size soccer pitch, with a nice artificial turf. The other teams from the bank came much better prepared, they even have their own jerseys, which we found out why, at the end of the tournament.

Despite of just being a bench warmer, I ended up having to play, because some of my friends needed to catch their wind and asked for a time out. So I played, and played terribly, since it was my first time, playing ‘competitively’, my opponents was certainly much, much better. While I tried the best I could, I was completely out-dribbled and out classed by my opponents. On top of that, running around chasing the ball in a full size soccer pitch really takes the wind out of you, and I almost died out there, the fitness necessary to play soccer was really no joke, and the professionals have to do it for a full 90 minute.

Aikido to the Rescue (or not!)

Not knowing how to be a soccer player. I turn to the other physical activity I knew and was very good at: Aikido. The only good as an Aikidoka, was I can take contact sports and give as good as I get, but this is not martial arts, it’s soccer,. My brain was processing, ‘ball’ or ‘guy’. ball’ or ‘guy’ and my instinct was to attack the guy, not the ball, so I charged and dived the only way I knew (the artificial turf was such a luxury to dive in!), and of course my opponent, easily run circles around your dad, the clumsy soccer noob. Obviously I also don’t have the technical skills to dribble nor pass the ball to my team-mates properly, and likely end up more of a liability than part of a team.

It was all for the sake of fun and we all did enjoyed ourselves. We didn’t do shabby either, and managed to score some goals and climbed the small leader board.

4th place and the Commotion

Eventually we ended up 4th place, and was not bad, not last at the very least. While everyone gathered at the rest point, to have the medals presented, we heard a commotion. Apparently the runner up team complained to the judges.

The Champions cheated.

The winning team had more than 10 players, and the reason why they wore jerseys, was so that they can switch out their players and people can’t really tell the difference between the players, wearing the same jersey. We played against them, and we didn’t notice any change in their players. Maybe my friends did, but I sure as hell didn’t. Well, the other teams found out and protested the fraud.

They got disqualified, weren’t too happy about it, and even kick up a temper. They say a lot of their friends wanted to join and the 10 person limit meant that some of them would not be able to play, which was why they swop jersey so that their friends can have a change to play, which would also meant fielding fresh players as well. What an excuse!

Being in the 4th place, we got pushed up and became the 2nd runner-ups, thanks to the turn of events in our favor!

The 7 Wonders.

Your Dad- The Debt Collector

Your Dad- The Debt Collector

Dear Boys,

One of the many jobs your dad did was a Debt Collector, not the ‘Ah Long’ type, but the legal type, I started off this line of work with Standard Chartered Bank, that was here I met your mum. (That’s a story for another time) Back then such line of work was called ‘Customer Assistance’ and other times it is called ‘Credit Management’. Colloquially, we are known as Credit Control, Debt Collections, Collections or even ‘Accounts Receivables’.

Your dad’s desk, 2008

Lessons Learned

I spent almost 10 years there, from 1999-2009, and looking back, it was these years that I reflect back and learned a lot of lessons, in handling people, more about myself as a person, and also the unintended long tail of consequences. The more salient points first.

Money Management

People called it ‘financial literacy’, passive income and all that fancy name, for me it is plain simple, your output must not be more than your input, you cannot spend more than you earn. Of course if you are in business and investing, this sounds like an act of financial cowardice, but hey, this simple principle has ensured that no one is suing your dad for debts, or your dad is so swamped with bills he has not more money to spend on the family.

Photo by Monstera from Pexels

True Story

True story, I was working with a bank and through our system, I picked up an account, and looked at the profile: Young guy, just joined the military, his credit limit- $6,000, which he has maxed out couple of months back and he is now overdue in paying his credit cards. It’s a brand new account by the way. He also have a ‘Line of Credit’ account, which is similar to a credit card except you don’t have a credit card, maxed out at $6,000 as well.

That makes his total debt with my bank $12,000.

Back then we can call our counterparts in other banks to do something of a ‘card check’, this quid pro quo industry practice back then helps us manage our debtors, exchange information to help us get a more holistic picture about how deep our debtor’s debt is, actually. This guy?

Other than my bank, he also owed, like maybe 4 to five other banks.

Which means his total debt known is about… $60,000?

For a young guy who just stepped into the working world as a SAF regular.

Let’s work the sums back, usually banks will grant you a credit limit of 2x your income. If he had the $6,000, it mean that his income is about $3,000. How much we say he owed all the banks?

Good. Luck. To. Him.

Photo by Monstera from Pexels

Garnishee order (of sorts)

You boys might not heard of such a thing, but the bank is legally allowed to take the money you have in your savings/ current account to pay off your debts. This happened to one guy who was so unlucky to have this happened to him on his payday.

He owed the bank credit card debts which he didn’t pay and the account was cancelled. Once that happens, the bank will want the full payment from you. For his case, his savings/ current account was with the same bank, where he puts his salary in. Since there was money in there, we took everything and use it to pay off his credit cards, which was still not enough to clear everything.

We wipe out everything in his savings account, and it was still not enough to clear his credit card debts.

He called in that morning, because he tried to use his savings ATM card to pay for his daughter’s medical bill, and it was decline. Of course.

There was nothing we can do as it is standard procedures, like so many debtors I’ve come across, he had tonnes of excuse, but it was sheer bad luck that we cancelled his account and took all his money at the moment he got the salary. Now he has to find other ways to tide over the month till his next pay check.

For Garnishee Order, it is actually quite technical, first the bank or creditor has to find out your payday, and execute this order, on or near your payday, of which the court can seize your salary and use it to pay the banks. and the next pay check, the banks have to do it all over again.

Next time, I’ll tell you boys some more stories about things that has happened in the banks.

Photo by Alice Pasqual on Unsplash

Who’s your Guardian Angel?

Who’s your Guardian Angel?
Photo by Rakicevic Nenad from Pexels

O Sensei has a guardian spirit, ‘Sarutahiko O-Kami’, also known as the Guardian Deity of Aikido.


Makes me wonder, who is my guardian angel, deity, facilitating my sixth sense, third eye?

So who’s your guardian angel, do you have one, know one to begin with? And how does having one or not having helped/ impeded you in your life and spiritual growth?

Posted on July 28, 2010

The Earth was here first

The Earth was here first

The irony is that every time humans tries to better something on Earth, we seem to screw up more things. The more we try to better something, the worse something else becomes. We fixed what is broken, by breaking other parts which was not broken in the first place. the more we try, the worse it becomes, and it will be a long time coming before we realize that in full stupidity.

Hey, look over here, The Earth was here First.

Whatever we do, or don’t do, or overdoing, or ain’t doing enough, will not change the reality that the Earth exist first, long before you, me, our forefather, and before there was a country, before there was global warming.

As much truth as there is to us saving our world for our children and the children’s children, the reality is that we are all here living for ourselves. We are not saving anything for anyone else, but ourselves. So we can take care of us, the Earth will take care of itself, it has been and always will be for such a long time ago and will be for a long time to come.

And even if you spend your entire life saving the Earth, which say, a generous 60 years of adult living, what can we achieved compare to what the Earth has achieved over billions of years and will continue to achieve long after we are dead? So don’t kid yourself, saying that you can save the earth by recycling a couple of plastic bottles and tin cans.

And stop pretending to save the animals, save the sharks. Save the ecosystem, save the forest. and all those wonderful things out there to be saved. We simply cannot save anything else other than ourselves. And no matter what we do, species will go extinct, nothing lasts forever, evolution makes sure of that. Some species will die, some will thrive, too bad, no amount of saving will save anything else other than our own skin.

Photo by Marc Pell on Unsplash

So who are we then? We are all visitors to this great amusement park called Earth, so don’t waste you time trying to fix what was ‘wrong’, just hang around, enjoy the rides and shows, and please remember to take out YOUR trash when you leave the park.

Posted on September 24, 2012

The Path Leading to the Summit

The Path Leading to the Summit

We often use mountains as metaphors as our quest for human excellence and the pursuit of    self actualization. Maslow’s theory of needs (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maslow’s_hierarchy_of_needs)  already presents our needs in a pyramid, pitching the highest ideal as ‘self actualization’. As the triangle looked like a mountain, we can symbolically determine it as a kind of a challenge, a climb.

Similarly, in martial arts, we often diplomatically says, ‘there are many ways to reach the summit.’ which loosely means, we can train hard in Aikido, Karate, Kendo, and the ultimate aim is ‘satori’ (悟り), or enlightenment.

Surely it is an ideal pursuit, worthy of our effort. there is a caveat, i realised recently.

Are we climbing the metaphorical mountain, or are we building our own tower of knowledge instead?

One is the land, the other is the map to the land.

We are all living in a world full of information and knowledge, and yet, wisdom, is still lacking. We all study so hard, to earn our degrees, learned so much to know all that we can know, and yet, we get pissed off by the slightest provocation.

I’m not discounting that building a tower of knowledge. It take arduous effort, and one can professed an in-depth knowing of the hows and whys of a discipline, we become the proverbial expert, but that does not lead us up the mountain. We become experts, but we fail to become a master. More so, we are becoming more isolated by all our knowing, we know this we know that, so that is no more for us to venture for, since we already know what we know, if we don’t know something, we know where to go and find the answers. And hence, we build another layer on our tower of knowledge.

Knowledge does not lead us to the summit. Knowledge tells us, we can look out of our tower window, and gaze at the summit. No matter how high we build our tower, we cannot reach the highs of the summit, on the contrary, the high we build our tower, the more precarious it become, and it will topple in eventuality.

Photo by Courtney Clayton on Unsplash

So in our modern world, all of us is in a tower. I can see that in the trains, in my work. Everyone knows a little about what they know, and makes a big deal out of it. People gaze into their iPhone and computer screens and tippity tap on their keyboards (like what i am doing now) and think we know all there is to know about the summit. But all we know about the summit, is not the summit. It is the map, not the land. We think we know about people, we learn about people, and yet we suck at socialising. We are virtually losing our ability to connect with each other, since we are more interested in connecting with the net, with the system, with the apps.

We need to come down from our ivory tower, walk the land. Walk with one another, and head for the summit, know the terrain, the soil, the animals, touch and feel them. Allow them to touch and feel us back. Because true knowledge is not in the knowing, it is in the doing.

Posted on December 28, 2011

Your Father’s 39th Birthday

Your Father’s 39th Birthday

Dear Boys,

This 39th birthday I truly understand the meaning of family. It is simply because I felt a sense of abandonment from my mom and brother. I heard from my mother’s sister, my aunt, that my mother and elder brother has moved, she invited her sister to her house for some kind of house warming but she didn’t inform me. Given the kind of relationship I have with my brother, I can understand why she didn’t invite me, at the very least, tell me where they’ve moved to.

That is quite a psychological reality check for me, I guess I should have seen it coming, things hadn’t been the warmest between me and my brother and mother, but I still would think of them as family. The signs are there when I visited them one Chinese New Year and me at the gate, roused my brother from his slumber, only to hear him said, ‘Brother? I don’t have a brother.’ That was when I greeted him and asked him where is mum, and I’m his brother!

So now they’ve move, and without an address the cut is complete, and absolute. Perhaps is better this way, boys, I don’t know, things are always happening in future tense that leave us with little preparation in the present. The reality is that, I felt the loneliness in a deep and profound way.

So this birthday, it was a very small family affair, just your mum, and the 2 of you, there’s really no one else left who will remember my birthday, not to mention the mere celebrating the day. When I die, if anytime sooner, my wife will have her parents and little brother to remember her birth and celebrate with her, she has the both of you, that kind of birthday song, would sound a little louder.

For me, this 39th birthday for me, looking at the 3 of you, singing the song, made me really, really wish, and I want to hold true to that wish, ‘I wish that the 3 of you, sitting before me, will be by my side for as long as I live

Posted February 23, 2015

Stop at Success

Stop at Success

Dear Sons,

Your mum baked butter cakes yesterday. Twice.

For the first round, the 2 of you tried to help in the process, In measurements and cutting of the butter, it was good to have involved the 2 of you, even though you boys monkeyed around more than being helpful.

The cake wasn’t very well made, it rise in the beginning but the cake collapsed towards the later part of its time in the oven. Of course your mum, was dejected, it was a failure. The texture of the cake was too light, and it felled apart when we cut it and when we ate it, even thought it tasted good, but it wasn’t a ‘cake’.

I saw the opportunity and told her “Let’s bake another one!” I wanted to drive this point home, Do not stop at failure, stop only when you are successful. Later that afternoon, I went out and bought another bunch of ingredients and we tried at it again, and this time the cake turned out alright.

You see, boys, the difference is that if we stop at the first bake, what would have locked into our minds? The end process of it was ‘failure’. And if we do not correct that immediately, the feeling, the mood and the psyche of having failed at baking, would have sunken in, gotten locked into our sub consciousness, and the next time we bake, may be next week, next month, we will go to our sub conscious file and access the last time we tried, which was locked in ‘failure’. What a way to starting making something as beautiful and delicious as a cake! Will our next attempt fail again? I don’t know, but I’d rather start a new endeavor , with a past history and memory of success rather than having a last records of failure.

We also did something different the second time we bake, we wrote down every bit of the process, step by step. For the second time around, you boys were playing in the living room and had no part in the baking process, maybe the absence of you 2 monkeys would help in your mum’s concentration as well?

We wrote down every writable details of the baking, so that if we fail, again, we will know, more than less, how we can adjust our process.

The second time was a success!

And what a difference it made for your mum! From dejected, deflated talk of failure in baking the first round, she is now beaming with joy knowing that the second bake was a success. This is what I want to have locked into her psyche, that she can bake and baking is a process of success. And with the formula on hand, now she can bake and repeat the same success.

So boys, when you do fail in future, quickly dust yourself off and try again. Do not stop, never stop until you have successfully achieve your given tasks. Failure and success is nothing more than a state of mind, be careful at which state of mind you decide to take a rest, for it will affect you and your next course of action. so when you fail, do not stop, keep going, stop only when you are successful.

Posted August 12, 2013

How we spent our Deepavali-Istana Visit

How we spent our Deepavali-Istana Visit

Dear Boys,

I decided to give your mum a ‘me time’ for the hardwork she put in helping you, Ian with your exams. So I took you boys out so that your mum can go for her nail message, compliments of Auntie Chai Ping.

Where can we go, 3 male members of the Lim family? The Istana was hosting an open house and it is free entry for Singaporeans, so why not? We packed up and headed out, looking forward to spending some time at the official residence of our President. After all, it is free entry and its been a long time since I’ve step foot in the Istana for a visit.

We reached the place and found it to be raining a little, and got heavier as we approached the Main Building. the compound is really a nice place to visit, with the sprawling greenery, and magnificent lawn. Once we passed the tight security, the first sight that draws us towards was the Swan pond.

Swan Pond. Admiring the Swan

The both of you were fascinated with the single white swan there and snapped pictures like it was the last living White Swan on earth. Thankfully the turf on the Istana ground is quite well maintained, despite of the rain, and wet grounds didn’t translate into a muddy quagmire, despite of the heavy trampling by the large crowds.

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As we walked up and towards the slight gradient, the both of you chatted that this was where they saw on television the funeral procession of Mr Lee Kuan Yew, and wondered where is the Sri Temasek.

The Sri Temasek

The premises was out of bounds and we can only stop to appreciate the diminutive building, where so much of our country’s history has happened there. While we watch, our minds played the mental image of Mr Lee’s cortege rolled out from the place, in a wet day no different from the day we visited Istana.

The Main Building

We had to seek refuge there along with many ‘un-umbrella’ folks, as the sky decided to open up on us. We learned from a Scout there, that we can actually buy a ticket to go into Istana for a house tour. With nothing better to do, I decided to leave the 2 of you with the Scout and headed out in the downpour to get the tickets. There is no photo taking allowed inside so we have to keep our pictures in our head.

The interior is a grand place, which is of course, as we have to host our nation’s guests there. There is an air of importance as well as decorum, you can’t help but feel the importance of such a place to us ordinary Singaporeans. it is important that we host our country’s guests in the highest pristine so that we get the respect and voice in the global community.

The Gun Terrace

This is certainly the highlight for the both of you as you boys take turns to take pictures of it, walk around it and explore this World War 2 relic.

The Military Guardroom

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We did a few fun shots there with a few ornamental mini cannons, your little brother, as usual, is such a pain when it comes to making him look at the camera and do a decent pose!

Our signature childhood photo

This is the kind of photograph where we can look back, decades from now and relish the memories. I am sure many of us and our parents out there has a photo like that taken with a soldier standing at attention. This will certainly be a journey I hope the 2 of you can cherish and remember fondly.

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Posted November 19, 2015

Meeting my MATADOR (Army Story)

300px-MATADOR_Stand

Dear Boys,

Let me tell you an Army story.

During your father’s Reservist, he has fired a MATADOR (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MATADOR). This is an Light Anti-Tank Weapon (LAW), that is in used with the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) Our unit was given some organic weapons training, the NSmen were given a few choices: M-16/SAR21, Ultimax 100/SAW, GPMG, or the MATADOR. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity, so I chose MATADOR.

I mean, who in this world actually get a chance to fire a real anti-tank rocket? It was a chance too good to pass up!

Of course there was a familiarization lessons to go through. We handled the dummy version, understand the immediate action (IA) drill in case the weapon malfunction. This mainly have to do with the weapon not firing and we have to leave the weapon, more gently than you put a sleeping baby down! Any jerk could set off the malfunction weapon and blow everybody up with the most unintended consequences! The reality is that it can be nerve wrecking to know if that high explosive thing you put on your shoulder failed to go off.

Anyway, we went through some technical handling and we made it to the MATADOR range, which was actually an open area where we get to shoot at some metal targets simulating vehicles. Since a single live MATADOR cost more than S$10,000, the army has to make sure we are familiar with it. So we were given to sub-munition rounds to get ourselves familiar with whole drill of handling the MATADOR. There were 2 rounds of sub-munitions for us to shoot at the targets. So when we squeeze the trigger, a small projectile will be sent flying towards the target. Piece of cake.

When it came to the real thing, all of us got somber and serious. We were told that the MATADOR packed a nasty back blast, and true enough the amount of back blast was phenomenal. Anyone standing 5 meters behind it will be severely injured by the back blast. No joke, it threw a blast a good 10 meters or more.

Matador

Because it was an expensive round to fire, everyone only have one chance. and due to some military mess up, I was the last shooter for the entire cohort.

It was an exciting moment as I hefted the real thing onto my right shoulder and as I peered through the simple sights, I took aim at the big vehicle shaped metal sheet, about 250m ahead, well within the MATADOR’s maximum 500m range.

So I repeated the commands and grasp the pistol grip and flicked the safety off. The moment of truth.

Nothing prepared me for what was going to happen.

BOOM!

I squeezed the trigger and was totally taken by surprise the amount of recoil of the weapon packed. And the amount of smoke! I totally lost sight of the target momentarily.

When the smoke cleared, I couldn’t hear what the trainer was trying to tell me, I pulled my earplugs off while I exited the little mold of earth making up the firing point, everyone at the training shed was on their feet cheering!

I thought they were cheering since I was the last firing, so I lifted the empty, and light MATADOR casing in bravado. It was later when I reached the training shed that I realise what my buddies were cheering about.

As I didn’t prepare for the recoil, the warhead was jerked upwards when it left the MATADOR. Hence with an upward trajectory, the warhead totally missed the target and instead flew for its maximum 500 meters and landed beyond the range parameters!

It probably blew up some tree and killed some ants. What a way to waste a $10,000 weapon!

Link: https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=10154083797606063

Your Parent’s 10th Wedding Anniversary

Your Parent’s 10th Wedding Anniversary

Dear Boys,

December 14th is a significant date for your parents for it is the day your parents got married. This year is our 10th year together, and indeed is has been quite a 3650 days!

I’ve booked a room with M hotel, the hotel in which we got married back in 2003. The room was a deluxe with a King size bed, I thought it could fit the 4 of us sleeping and it did! Well, we have to snuggle width of the bed.

It was a nice roomy room. And on top of the room, it was packaged with a one way paid trip into Sentosa. I told your mum it will be a “best of both worlds’. One was we can spend time in the hotel where we had our wedding dinner in, the other was Sentosa, where I proposed to your mother.

We ‘booked’ a London cab, since none of you boys has ever taken one. Unfortunately, the hotel wasn’t able to get us one through the phone booking, as all the cabs are taken. Luckily for us, the hotel called back moments later and informed us that there was one London cab just down at the lobby having dropped of a passenger. What luck! We rushed down for the cab and it was an unforgettable ride!

We headed to Palawan beach, for the rope bridge where your dad proposed to your mum. The weather wasn’t in our favour this time as it started pouring which caused us to make a dash across the bridge and headed to one of the 2 towers at the Southernmost Point of Continental Asia.

We soon found out that the rain was a blessing in disguise as it turned out that there was young couple on top of the tower, preparing their proposal! Well, the boyfriend got some friends to help him, and they tied some balloons around the wooden handrails, and the bride-to-be was supposed to pop the balloons to get the message. We chatted up with them and they loved Wayne so much that they get him to bring a balloon to the bride-to-be and pose with her as well.

We didn’t stay to find out the success of that proposal, as we have our own agenda to run, your mum and I, posed at the spot on the bridge, where I put the ring into her finger. It is still as memorable as if it was only yesterday.

We head back to the hotel and you boys had such a splash in the bath tub. We used up all the light sticks I bought and when the lights was turned off, the bath tub emits a funky glow of green, red, blue and yellow. It was such a splash! Well, that has to come to an end when I see your 弟弟 shivering from the cold water!

While you boys were in the bathtub, Shakir, the hotel’s duty manager came up with our Anniversary Cake! It was a delicious Tiramisu cake, made to perfection. It was fluffy, light and sweet. It was so good we polished off the 1 kg cake that night. The 哥哥 who is not a cake lover, predictably couldn’t stomach his share which is to our delight! Your mum and I totally relish the cake.

We went down to the ballroom on the second floor where your parents walked down the isle. There was another couple getting married, doing the very thing we did 10 years ago, so we didn’t wanna crash their party. We took some discreet photos, and it must have look odd, thinking of it now, since we were at the wedding reception area, the parents in bermudas and slippers and the kids in their PJs!

We ended the day with all four of us squeezing into the King size bed and woke up early for another day of fun before we pack up.

Too bad, M hotel is a ‘business hotel’, because the swimming pool is not kid friendly. the shallowest part is 0.9 m and the deepest 2m, too deep for 弟弟to have fun, so we end up hoarding the Jacuzzi, both of them alternating between them.

We ended our day checking out and it was a day of great fun and memories.

Posted December 17, 2013