Sunday, November 29, 2009

Week 48 of year 2009 on the double bass

22 Nov 2009, Sun: I continued working on Bottesini's Method for Double Bass, Part Two (Yorke Edition) to improve the intonation. Afterwhich, I worked on the first and fourth movements of Eccles'Sonata in g minor.

23 Nov 2009, Mon: I continued to practise the first study from Method for Double Bass, Part Two (Yorke Edition). Intonation is better and I was working on improving the tone quality.

That was followed by playing the first movement from Capuzzi's Concerto in D major. I focused more on intonation.

Afterwhich, I worked on improving the left hand technique for the last movement of Eccles' Sonata in g minor. I also played the first movement of the sonata.

25 Nov 2009, Wed: I worked on G major scale. In addition, I practised the first and second exercises from Method for Double Bass, Part Two (Yorke Edition). Intonation is improving. There are still more to work on in terms of the tone quality.

Thank goodness that Eccles' Sonata in g minor is interesting enough for me to keep working on it for the past few weeks. I worked on the last, third and first movements. My fingers seem more familiar with where they could place themselves on the fingerboard with regular practices.

26 Nov 2009, Thu: I worked on the study from Method for Double Bass, Part Two (Yorke Edition). I still have much to work on improving the tone quality produced. Afterwhich, I worked on improving intonation as I practised the last movement of Eccles' Sonata in g minor at a moderate tempo.

27 Nov 2009, Fri: When I needed a mood lightened, playing the double bass helped to provide relief and the outlet of expression. I spent some time working on Eccles' Sonata in g minor and afterwhich, played on the double bass spontaneously whatever tune came to my heart.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Thank goodness for my double bass

When I needed very much a mood lightened, thank goodness that I took the effort to play on my double bass. It has brought relief and comfort. Even though some of my concerns have yet to be resolved, a lightened mood has helped reduce the torment of the growing-up pains that a life crisis may sometimes bring.

Thank goodness for the double bass.

Alright, maybe I also need a lot of guidance and care to learn not to take myself too seriously?

Lunch with Mystic

Cherry Jubilee


To thank my friend for her invaluable help, I had invited Mystic to lunch at Le Aranda.

Mystic is a marvellous person at searching for information. I suppose she has found out about my quest for the best mashed potato in Singapore and so she was very thoughtful to do some search so as to lend me some leads. She found out that Le Aranda serves mashed potato and we decided to head there for lunch.

The ambience there was good. I like the music. Mystic seems to like the elegant decor of the restaurant. Service was great too.

We had the semi-buffet lunch. It comes with free-flow of salads and soup, and a choice of a main course, a dessert and a choice of either coffee or tea.


Pan Fried Salmon with Saffron Sauce, with mashed potato and garden vegetables


I shall hold my review of the mashed potato for the moment. In short, it is worth a consideration if one is dining at Le Aranda. Mystic, who has high expectations for food, seemed pleased with the food there.I like the carrot soup and had to be mindful not to over-indulge in it. The bread was nice too. Mystic sang praises of the salad with the house dressing.

I believe the photos that you see here were taken by Mystic. Her passion for good food seems to bestow her a gift in food-photography.

Many thanks to Mystic for her help, and for her company over lunch.

***
Le Aranda
Aranda Country Club
60 Pasir Ris Drive 3
Singapore 519497

Tel: (65) 6585 1770

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The hunt for the best mashed potato in Singapore, part 59



On 13 Sep 2009, in search for the best mashed potato in Singapore, I ended at Chili's Restaurant located at Tanglin Mall. I ordered the Loaded Mashed Potatoes.

Chili's also serves Mashed Potatoes with Black Pepper Gravy. I shall consider trying it another time.

Each serving of the Loaded Mashed Potatoes costs $5.90 before taxes. The loaded mashed potatoes has a chunky texture. It is not very creamy, and is slightly drier in texture than the mashed potato from Tony Roma's. The loaded mashed potato here has a nice earthy potato taste. It's topped with bacon bits and cheese. These toppings enhanced the taste of the dish. The mashed potato contains bits of potato-skin which added a country-like rugged feel to the dish.

I won't mind going back to have this Loaded Mashed Potatoes again.

By the way, I had the loaded mashed potatoes with the Guiltless Chicken with Pita. It's consider ''guiltless' because the chicken is grilled and the ingredients used contain comparatively lesser calories. The pita is good. I don't eat pita very often but this pita is the best that I have eaten by far!

I send my blessings to my friend whom this hunt for the best mashed potato in Singapore is dedicated to. Good luck and joy!



***
Chili's Restaurant
#02-23 Tanglin Mall,
163 Tanglin Road,
Singapore 247933

Sunday, November 22, 2009

I ask for care and guidance



In a time when directions and purposes need to be clarified
When much is unknown
Hope is there
Answers yet to be found
What brings a moment of relief to the day
Is being kind to oneself to find beauty in the daily mundane.

Week 47 of year 2009 on the double bass

15 Nov 2009, Sun: I worked on a few studies to improve sight-reading skills. Afterwhich, I worked on the fourth movement of Eccles'Sonata in g minor.

16 Nov 2009, Mon: Other than playing scales and practising the vibrato technique, I continued to work on the first, second and fourth movements of Eccles' Sonata in g minor.

18 Nov 2009, Wed: I played a study before taking time to practise the first, second and fourth movements of Eccles' Sonata in g minor. The focus was to improve articulation and bow techniques.

19 Nov 2009, Thu: My double bass tutor got me to sight-read a few studies and that reminded me that I have to focus on work on improving my techniques. Anyway, I spent much of the lesson working on the last movement of Eccles' Sonata in g minor. I worked on how to achieve as clear an articulation as my tutor did.

20 Nov 2009, Fri: I worked on one study from Bottesini's Method for Double Bass, Part Two (Yorke Edition). While it was relatively challenging, I trust that if I worked on it till intonation and rhythm is perfect, I would be able to reach a higher level of playing in terms of technique. After some time working on the study, I played the first and third movements of Eccles' Sonata in g minor. Thereafter, I worked on the fourth movement of Eccles' Sonata in g minor.

21 Nov 2009, Sat: I continued to work on the same study from Bottesini's Method for Double Bass, Part Two (Yorke Edition) so as to achieve a better tone on the double bass. Much of the rest of the practice was spent working on certain passages from the fourth movement of Eccles' Sonata in g minor. I was aiming to work through the challenging finger shifts and bow-changes.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The hunt for the best mashed potato in Singapore, part 58



It has been slightly more than a year since I have started on the hunt for the best mashed potato in Singapore. It came about as a humble way to identify the best mashed potato in Singapore so as to delight a friend of mine who has a liking for mashed potato. Each and every post is also my humble way to send caring thoughts and wishes to my friend. I hope that readers of this series have also enjoyed the caring wishes and delights that each post aims to bring.

My hunt for the best mashed potato in Singapore got me ending up at Pump Room on 5 Sep 2009.

The mashed potato here has a chunky texture to it. There seems to be no much butter added to the mashed potato, so I suppose it would be a choice for people who do not like to have too much butter in their mashed potato. There was a dash of salt added to the mashed potato for taste. It's $8 before tax.

With this post, I wish my friend to whom this series of posts is dedicated to: tenacity.

***
The Pump Room
3B River Valley Road,
The Foundry, #01-09/10,
Singapore 179021

http://www.pumproomasia.com

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

My experiences onboard Invasion Singapore!




I went for the bus tour entitled War on Wheels, Invasion Singapore! during the weekend. This event gets its participants to discover more about Singapore's World War II history.

The bus tour brought the tour group to several important sites to better appreciate the significant events that had taken place when Singapore was invaded by the Japanese military in 1942. It also gave us a glimpse of the civilians' experience of the Japanese occupation and the end of the occupation.

Read more about my experiences on the bus tour here: Back to the time of WWII Singapore

There will be more of such bus tours on 21 and 28 Nov 2009 (Saturdays). Please see this site for more information:  http://www.museums.com.sg/es09/war-on-wheels.html

Monday, November 16, 2009

Read: Refuse to Choose



The recent book that I have read is Barbara Sher's Refuse to Choose!: A revolutionary program for doing everything that you love.

This book is about people who are drawn to many interests in their lives. In this book, the term "Scanner" is used to describe a person who has multiple interests. In this book, it proposed that Scanners who are people with multiple interests aren't suppose to choose just one particular talent of theirs to get started on a career. They were designed to put their multitalented brains to contribute to the world. Each has his/her special gifts.

In this book, Barbara Sher described that there are various types of Scanners, each with their unique characteristics and needs. She also described some strategies for each type of Scanners to do everything that they love.

The types of Scanners that were described in the book were:
-Cyclical Scanners
-Double Agent
-Sybil
-Plate Spinner
-Sequential Scanner
-Serial Specialist
-Serial Master
-Jack-of-All-Trades
-Wanderer
-Sampler
-High-Speed Indecisive

Some of the things that were mentioned in the book got me thinking if I happen to be a Scanner described by Barbara Sher. I remembered that I had a very challenging time making decisions what to major in when I was deciding on my preferred course for junior college. My grades were good enough to have quite a reasonably wide variety of choices. I struggled between making the choice between Science and the Humanities.

Then when it came to choosing a faculty to study in university, I also had good enough grades to have a large number of choices. Even after the choice was made, I still wondered if I had limited my options by deciding on a particular course of study. There were many times when I had wished that the education system could allow one to take as many majors as they would like. Then again, if that was allowed, I wonder if I would have the means to pay for the tuition required to study so many majors.

Anyway, in short, I find it quite liberating to read and realise that it is actually alright when one finds it a challenge to make a choice between one's various interests. In fact, the book proposed that it is possible to refuse to make a choice so that one could do as many things as one loves. It is quite a worthwhile book to read especially for anyone with multiple interests who wish to make a career out of his/her various interests.

If writing down things could help me get closer to my dream career, I would like a career that would allow me to do the following:
- sketch landscapes
- perform on the double bass in either a chamber or orchestral setting
- the honour to serve others
- travel and see new places
- paint (acrylics or paint)
- use reflective skills
- use analytical and thinking skills
- generate ideas and implement some of them
- allow integration of large pieces of information

- read and share about culture and history of the world
- share with others about places in Singapore
- write, e.g. poems and travelogues
- refine my existing skills
- learn something new that would interest me

My personality profile also reminded me that my ideal work environment would preferably have the following characteristics:
- a place where I could produce work that helps people
- a place that puts minimal emphasis on office rules and procedures
- a place where I can work independently on my own time-frame
- a place the emphasis is placed on tasks that require routine or rote memory
- a place that emphasise harmony (versus competition)

Would 'refusing to choose', and finding the strategies to help me do as much as I love get me closer to the dreams? I ask that the answer be a positive one please.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Week 46 of year 2009 on the double bass

8 Nov 2009, Sun: The practice started out with a sight-reading of a study. Afterwhich, I continued to work at a moderate tempo the last movement from Eccles' Sonata in g minor. Much of the time was spent practising the first half of the movement, ensuring clear articulation, steady rhythm and good intonation.

9 Nov 2009, Mon: I played the first, second and part of the last movements from Eccles' Sonata in g minor. Music-making is therapeutic. I felt a sense of relief.

11 Nov 2009, Wed: For the pleasure of playing music, I worked on two studies, played the first movement from Capuzzi's Concerto in D major and the first to third movements from Eccles' Sonata in g minor. There could have been more focus. Nevertheless, the practice had indeed brought me a sense of pleasure and relief.

12 Nov 2009, Thu: I worked on the first half of the fourth movement of Eccles' Sonata in g minor at a moderate tempo so as to work out the fingerings and the shifts in positions.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The hunt for the best mashed potato in Singapore, part 57



I was at the National Museum of Singapore on 29 Aug 2009 (Sun). There was an event titled A Taste of Belgium that was held in conjunction with the exhibition A Story of the Image: Old & New Masters from Antwerp exhibition.

You bet I was excited to try this mashed potato when I realised that "stoemp" was sold at the "A Taste of Belgium" event.

"Stoemp" is a dish in the cuisine of Belgium and the Netherlands. It consists of pureed or mashed potatoes, other root vegetables and can also include cream, bacon, herbs or spices. (source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stoemp). This stoemp contains bits of carrots. The mashed potato is made from real potato, and the inconsistent texture gave it a rustic feel which I quite like. The bits of carrots is soft. It was served not too warm, which I like!

This stoemp was from Brussels Sprouts Pte Ltd which took part in the event. Each serving costs $5 at the event. According to http://www.brusselssprouts.com.sg, the daily stoemp would costs $6.50 per serving before taxes at the Brussels Sprouts restaurant.

Frankly speaking, I don't think my friend to whom this series of posts is dedicated to may like the stoemp that I had at the event. I remember that my friend does not like to eat carrots. Whatever it is, I wish my friend: persistence to be true to oneself.

***
BRUSSELS SPROUTS
80 Mohamed Sultan Road #01-12
The Pier@Robertson
Singapore 239013

Tel: +65 6887 4344
http://www.brusselssprouts.com.sg

Monday, November 09, 2009

Read: The monk who sold his Ferrari


Image source: Amazon.com

Robin S. Sharma's
The Monk who sold his Ferrari.
New York: HarperTorch, 1997
NLB Call Number: 158.1 SHA

I have just finished reading Robin S. Sharma's The Monk who sold his Ferrari (A Fable about reaching your destiny). I went to borrow this book from the library to find out what I could learn from the book.

This starts with a story of a very rich lawyer who had a wake-up call of his lifetime when he suffered a heart attack in a courtroom. The heart attack forced him to confront the condition of his life. In search of happiness and fulfillment, he sold his material belongings to travel about places in the world to find his answers. He learnt about a powerful system from the Sages of Sivana who live in a village away from modern civilisation.

This book offers a step-by-step system of how one could live an enlightened living. I like the way that this book strive to use symbols to help one better recall the seven timeless virtues of an enlightened living.

For those who would like to know, the book speaks of the following seven timeless virtues of enlightened living:

1) Master Your Mind
2) Follow Your Purpose
3) Practice Kaizen
4) Live with Discipline
5) Respect Your Time
6) Selflessly Serve Others
7) Embrace the Present

These virtues were represented by symbols. These symbols were the magnificent garden, the towering lighthouse, the sumo wrestler, the pink wire cable, the gold stopwatch, the fragrant roses, the path of diamonds.

Many of the concepts make sense after I understood the principles behind the strategies. The challenge would be to apply them on a consistent basis. This book has clear concepts just that I felt I was comparatively not as inspired by it. Perhaps it was because I could relate better to a book that is more intuitive in its style of writing.

Personally, I would prefer a inspiring fable such as Paulo Coelho's The Alchemist which speaks of similar topics. I find that while The Alchemist may not offer a clear step-by-step system on how one could live an enlightened life, it has a greater capacity through its story-telling to help to instill the hope and inspiration for one to fulfill one's dreams.

Nevertheless, it was still quite worthwhile to read The monk who sold his Ferrari for its clarity in presenting the various concepts to live an enligtened life.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Week 45 of year 2009 on the double bass



1 Nov 2009, Sun: I started off with playing scales followed by sight-reading a couple of studies. The rest of the practice was spent playing Eccles' Sonata in g minor. I needed clearer goals for my practices.

2 Nov 2009, Mon: The practice was therapeutic. I played a study and worked on improving intonation and the tone of sound. Subsequently, I decided to focus on having fun playing clear and well-articulated short strokes while playing the second movement of Eccles' Sonata in g minor.

4 Nov 2009, Wed: The practice was therapeutic yet again. It was the vibrations and deep resonating sound of the double bass that had soothed. I worked on two studies to improve intonation and articulation. Afterwhich, I played the first, second and third movements of Eccles' Sonata in g minor. More work is needed to refine the phrasing.

5 Nov 2009, Thu: My tutor demonstrated how I could play the triple stops from the second movement of Eccles' Sonata in g minor. In the night, I worked on the second movement of the sonata.

7 Nov 2009, Sat: I did a reading of the fourth movement of Eccles' Sonata in g minor at a fairly moderate tempo so as to have an idea how it would sound like. This will be what I will working on in greater depth for the next few weeks to come.

***
The good news of the week is that I have learnt that I have passed The Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music, Music Performance Diploma, Double Bass. I am deeply thankful to the many people who have given me guidance, support and encouragement. Thank you very much.

Friday, November 06, 2009

More sketches



It was 1 Nov 2009, Nature beckoned me to be in its arms. I headed for the Singapore Botanic Gardens to enjoy the beauty of Nature. Here is one of the photos that I have taken. The structure in the center of the above photo is a gazebo. It used to serve as a Bandstand.

A few months ago, I saw a photo of the same gazebo and I sketched it for one of friends.

When I saw the gazebo in person, I felt I just have to sketch it while observing it in real life. Here's the sketch that I did on 1 Nov 2009 of the gazebo. I hope this post brings you simple delights. Nature is beautiful.


Wednesday, November 04, 2009

The hunt for the best mashed potato in Singapore, part 56



While I was Serangoon Gardens on 21 Sep 2009, I found my way to Bistro @ Gardens. It used to serve mashed potato on its own, but it does not now. This was told to me by one of the staff.

I ordered the Salmon Teriyaki, served with mashed potatoes, seasoned vegetables, and deep fried leek, from Bistro @ The Gardens. It costs $15.90 nett. The mashed potato used is real potato. Using real potato definitely makes a lot of difference to the taste. The taste of it is above-average.

The mashed potato is not the creamy and fine-textured type of mashed potato. Instead, its texture is slightly coarse yet generally smooth. Such a texture gave it a rustic feel that I like. While I find it slightly salty for my preference, (for less salty food) in general, the mashed potatoes here is made with sincerity and care.

I won't mind coming back if this place allows me to order mashed potato on its own. In general, the food here is affordable and of reasonably good quality. By the way, I ordered the mushroom soup, and it is nice.

The Salmon Teriyaki dish with mashed potatoes here tastes way better and is more affordable than the Grilled Norwegian Salmon from The Mussels Guys Seafood & Steak Restaurant.

With this post, I wish my friend to whom this series of posts is dedicated to: lots of caring moments.

Bistro @ The Gardens.
4 Maju Avenue
Serangoon Gardens Estate
Singapore 556682

http://www.bistro.com.sg

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

The city test



Your City is Istanbul



You are hip and modern. You are an expert on what's hot, and you are always up for trying the newest things.

You play so much that people may ask if you ever work at all. You're the type to party until dawn, even on a work night.

You are liberal and progressive. You may have grown up around conservative elements, but you reject them completely.

People can't help but notice your style and flair. You are getting more popular every day.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Week 44 of year 2009 on the double bass

25 Oct 2009, Sun: I played the first and second movements of Eccles' Sonata in g minor so as to work on the intonation and to be familiarised with the fingerings.

26 Oct 2009, Mon: I continued to work on the first and second movements of Eccles'Sonata in g minor. I may need some time to hear how I would like the sonata to sound.

29 Oct 2009, Thu: During the double bass lesson, I worked on the first movement of Eccles' Sonata in g minor.

30 Oct 2009, Fri: I sight-read a few studies so as to improve technique and sight-seeing skills. Afterwhich, I played the second movement of Eccles' Sonata in g minor. More focus is needed.

Then I attempted to sight-read the first 20 bars or so from Bottesini's Nel cor piu non mi sento.