Tuesday, July 26, 2005

What's in a name?

Have any of you wondered the reason behind your parents’ choice for your name? Well, I always had. And as a eight-year old, I would ask my dad why he named me Ivy. Why not Ashley, Belinda, Christine, Deborah, Elizabeth….why Ivy? Isn’t Ivy a plant? I remembered my dad telling me without hesitation, “Because Ivy is a climbing woody plant. And it’s evergreen, even in winter.”
“So? Isn’t it still a plant? It doesn’t have much meaning, right?” naïve little Ivy would probe.
“Your mum and I want you to be always scaling greater heights, reaching higher grounds. And to be always thriving despite the harshest conditions. To remain lush and green even in the cold, freezing winter temperatures when most flora and fauna wither. Isn’t that something?” Dad would explain to me patiently.
What a wonderful reason he provided! But I was too young to fully appreciate the profundity of his statements. However, I felt a lot better that it wasn’t given on a wimp or fancy and that my parents actually gave the matter some thought. When we encounter people whose names are like ‘Otah’ or ‘Alfredo’ and even ‘Beckham’, we have to give thanks to our Lord Almighty that our parents didn’t lose their marbles the day we were born and succumb to their food cravings or idol worship.
And did I live up to my name? Hm…it’s a bit too early to tell, isn’t it? Then again, I would have to admit that I am trying hard to do so. This entry is written at a time when I am not feeling very happy about myself/my current state of life. At a time when I feel disconnected, lost and unfocused. A time when I question my faith and decisions. A time when I look into my inner soul and seek to understand why I do the things I do. And believe me, it’s a pain to be such a reflective person. Self evaluation exposes a great deal of inadequacies. So, it’s more yellow than lush greenery for me, as of this moment.
Oh well, at least I can take comfort in that fact that I know I am not a terribly flawed person. Pretty good…(alright, modesty is not my virtue, confidence is). And heck, Ivy or Aphrodite, what’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet. ;-)

Daily Trivia:
(English name ivy (plural, ivies) is a genus of about 10 species of climbing or ground-creeping evergreen woody plants in the family Araliaceae, native to the Atlantic Islands, Europe, North Africa and across Asia east to Japan. On suitable surfaces (trees and rock faces), they are able to climb to at least 25-30 m above the basal ground level.
They have two leaf types, with palmately lobed juvenile leaves on creeping and climbing stems, and unlobed cordate adult leaves on fertile flowering stems exposed to full sun, usually high in the crowns of trees or the top of rock faces. The juvenile and adult shoots also differ, the former being slender, flexible and scrambling or climbing with small roots to affix the shoot to the substrate (rock or tree bark), the latter thicker, self-supporting, and without roots. The flowers are produced in late autumn (time of my birthday, how apt!), individually small, in 3-5 cm diameter umbels, greenish-yellow, and very rich in nectar (sweet! =P), an important late food source for bees and other insects; the fruit are small black berries ripening in late winter, and are an important food for many birds.The seeds are dispersed by birds eating the fruit.

Place to visit: NOPE! Today, it’s gonna be pictures of ivy. Muahaha….

Ivy plant-hedera


Variegated ivy

Monday, July 25, 2005

Happily 'Ever After'

As some of you may have know, my all-time favourite movie is called “Ever After”. I guess for many who are clueless about this film, you would not be able to identify with it. Therefore, here’s the link to view the film’s trailer:

Tagline: Desire. Defy. Escape.

Here are some memorable quotes from the movie that I love:

Leonardo Da Vinci to Prince Henry (on fate/destiny):
Leonardo da Vinci: You cannot leave everything to Fate, boy. She's got a lot to do. Sometimes you must give her a hand.

Prince Henry’s reaction after retrieving the painting of Mona Lisa from the gypsy:
Henry: You told me it was a matter of life or death.
Leonardo da Vinci: A woman always is.

Discussion of ‘The One’:
Henry: Do you really think there is only one perfect mate?
Leonardo da Vinci: As a matter of fact, I do.
Henry: Well then how can you be certain to find them? And if you do finally find them, are they really the one for you or do you only think they are? And what happens if the person you're supposed to be with never appears, or she does, but you're too distracted to notice?
Leonardo da Vinci: You learn to pay attention.

Danielle’s consternation at the incompatibility of social status:
Danielle: A bird may love a fish, signore, but where will they live?
Leonardo da Vinci: Then I shall have to make you wings.

A quote that inspires us to possess determination till the very end:
Baroness Rodmilla De Ghent: Darling, nothing is final 'til you're dead, and even then, I'm sure God negotiates.

Conversation between Danielle and the prince:
Danielle: It is not fair, sire. You have found my weakness, but I have yet to learn yours.
Henry: But I should think it was quite obvious.

Danielle quoting from Thomas More’s 'Utopia':
Danielle: If you suffer your people to be ill-educated, and their manners corrupted from infancy, and then punish them for those crimes to which their first education disposed them, what else is to be concluded, sire, but that you first make thieves and then punish them?

Prince Henry’s proposing to Danielle:
Henry: I kneel before you not as a prince, but as a man in love... I would feel like a king if you, Danielle De Barbarac, would be my wife.

Conversation between Danielle and Prince Henry:
Danielle: You were born to privilege, and with that comes specific obligations.
Danielle: Forgive me, sire, it seems my mouth has run away again.
Henry: It is your mouth that has me hypnotized.

Daily Trivia: How much sleep do we need?
The amount of sleep an individual requires varies from person to person, but most adults average eight hours of sleep. The quality of a person's sleep factors into the sleep equation. When we drift off to sleep, we either fall into a deep, restful sleep, or into a shallow, light sleep. One who normally requires eight hours of sleep, but sleeps shallowly, will most likely awaken feeling tired. In contrast, if the same individual sleeps fewer hours, but lapses into a state of deep sleep, he may well awaken refreshed and invigorated.
A lucky few can bypass shallow sleep altogether, and fall directly into deep sleep on an as needed basis. Alexander the Great's military prowess may have been due, in part, to his ability to take a "cat nap."

Place to Visit: France (since Ever After is a story set in France, I shall take the opportunity to introduce it today)
Paris nourishes the senses and feeds both intellect and soul. This culture-rich city has lots of bistros and magnificent museums. However, there is more to France than this romantic City of Light. There is charming Provence, the ancient papal city of Avignon and the quiet and sanctified Lourdes. And it would be a dream to live in a beautiful chateau in the Rhone-Alpes, complete with a huge four poster bed and plush tapestries!!!

Eiffel Tower and Fountain, Paris

Eiffel Tower at Night, Paris

Window draping with ivy, Provence, France

Le Chateau d' Amboise, France

Chateau de Villandry, France

Notre Dame at Sunrise, Paris, France

Fayrac Manor, Beynac, France (looks like a scene out of Ever After!)

Beynac, Dordogne River, France

Quaint French Storefront

Saturday, July 16, 2005

The Joy of Giving and Receiving

Below is an excerpt from the book “The Man Nobody Knows” by Bruce Barton. I found it to be rather meaningful, and would like to share it with all of you.

The Man Nobody Knows by Bruce Barton.

There are two seas in Palestine. One is fresh, and fish are in it. Splashes of green adorn its banks. Trees spread their branches over it and stretch out their thirsty roots to sip of its healing waters.
…The River Jordan makes this sea with sparkling water from the hills. So it laughs in the sunshine. And men build their houses near to it, and birds their nests; and every kind of life is happier because it is there.
The River Jordan flows on south into another sea.
Here there is no splash of fish, no fluttering leaf, no song of birds, no children’s laughter. Travelers choose another route, unless on urgent business. The air hangs heavy above its water, and neither man nor beast nor fowl will drink.
What makes this mighty difference in these neighbor seas? Not the River Jordan. It empties the same good water into both. Not the soil in which they lie; not in the country round about.
This is the difference. The Sea of Galilee receives but does not keep the Jordan. For every drop that flows into it another drop flows out. The giving and receiving go on in equal measure.
The other sea is shrewder, hoarding its income jealously. It will not be tempted into any generous impulse. Every drop it gets, it keeps.
The Sea of Galilee gives and lives. The other sea gives nothing. It is named the Dead.
There are two kinds of people in this world. There are two seas in Palestine.

Don’t you find it true? Sometimes, when we are constantly on the receiving end, the blessings we obtain will eventually hold little pleasure. Soon enough, by taking things for granted, we become self-centred and ugly. Only by giving and making the people around us happy and glad will our spirits be filled with richness and joy. And trust me, it’s infectious. What this produces is a virtuous cycle of joyful reciprocity that will build ties, strengthen relations and promote a loving environment for people to grow. Too idealistic? Perhaps. But the pursuit of achieving an idealized state of life has always been the fuel driving the goodness of Man.

(By the way, I personally feel that there are all kinds of people in this world. Categorizing them into two groups is by far too few).

Daily Trivia: There are actually three seas that surround Palestine. They are the Dead Sea from its east, the Mediterranean on its northwest, and the Red Sea on its south.

I will start posting webshots photos of all the beautiful places in the world at the end of each entry. This is to whet the traveler spirit in all of us, but mainly, they serve as personal reminders of all the places I want to leave my footprints on this beautiful planet.
First stop: My Heaven on Earth--Alaska!!! And yes, I indulged. So many pictures! The place everyone should visit with their beloved. A place where we can finally stop panting and start breathing. A place of such pristine beauty that we can take time to rediscover the beauty that lies within our souls.


Thompson Pass, Chugach Range, Alaska

Northern Lights Over Portage River Valley

Wonder Lake


Juneau Boat Harbor at Sunset

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Ballet Under The Stars-BUTS

This entry should have been uploaded on 9th July 2005 but I have been lazy. Oh well... Went to Fort Canning Green to attend "Ballet Under the Stars" by Singapore Dance Theatre (SDT) with my bestest friend S.T. In commemoration of the 200th Year of Hans Christian Anderson's birth, the performance for the evening was adapted from his well-known fairytale "The Little Mermaid". It was the first time I attended such an event and it was based on a concept of an outdoor picnic cum performance in a natural amphitheatre-like venue.

Here's the general scene:

Performance Stage


Picnickers II

Being lazy urbanites, we went to Plaza Singapura to buy food for our picnic instead of making stuff to munch on. On the other hand, I would have thought it lovely to prepare for the picnic together with my significant other in the kitchen before heading for a picnic. Oh well... So, it's just KFC and snacks from Carrefour for dinner. =p Apparently, the checkered disposable picnic mat is REALLY good. Use and throw!!! Fuss free. Plus, dearie S.T. accidentally emptied our Coke on it ten minutes after setting up our place. I jokingly exclaimed "Coke Feet!!!" everytime the cola trickles to my soles. Toes licking good! (just like KFC's "Fingers Licking Good" slogan). Thank God for wet tissue wipes!

Pathetic Picnic Fare

I noted that we took few pictures together. So, we posed for a shot. She's one awesome gal! If I were a guy, I would take her as my soulmate. She's intelligent, independent (financially and emotionally), humorous, enjoys reading (we love the same books), self-assured, loves traveling, and a don't-sweat-small-stuff type of girl. She's all that I am. Haha. (Do the readers detect a blatant form of self promotion here??) ;-) But then again, yes, a girl like S.T. is very attractive. I can't stop raving about her, which is why I made her my best pal for life. Very low-maintenance, and not like some whiny bloody gals who will have catfights. Those types I abhor. Like life's not tough enough, we have to quarrel over nitty gritties with our friends.

S.T. and I

The spoiler for the evening came in the form of NDP 2005 rehearsal. With F16s zooming overhead, followed by the 21 rounds of Presidential Gun Salute, and lastly, towards the end of the ballet, the sudden explosion of fireworks in the distance; it was no wonder the audience found it difficult to give the dance their undivided attention. Nevertheless, the evening was cool and the atmosphere was relaxing. Somehow or rather, I sat on the mat and as I took in everything around me, there was an inner peace. It is an event that will make a delightful date...totally romantic.

NDP 2005 Rehearsal

Mosquito on fire

Chinook CH-47D helicopter

As for the photos above, I may be wrong, but I think I have managed to capture (1) 3 F-16s, (2) 1 Super Puma Helicopter and (3) 1 Chinook CH-47D helicopter respectively. Correct me if I am wrong. Love aircrafts by the way, especially military aircrafts!!! If any of you have lobangs for an airshow, must invite me, alright? Lunch will be on me! =) Apparently, this year, there's none in Singapore. Earliest one will be Asian Aerospace 2006.

Well, I couldn't capture any segment of the performance since photography during the show was prohibited. But the costumes were lovely enough, and the SDT choreography of the dance was impressive. They made full use of the limitations of the outdoor venue and managed to create an ethereal scene of the underwater world through the effective use of lighting and music.

Overall: FABULOUS outing! Let's do it again sometime, S.T. The Nutcracker in December? By the way people, there's a Coffee Club tucked in a quiet corner of Fort Canning. Perfect place for a rendezvous! Negative point: The angmohs (I'm so rude) sitting behind me were drinking so much red wine, I got high sniffing in the wine molecules that permeated the air. =(

Nice place for a drink!

Daily Trivia: 20 Concordes were built and 14 entered airline service. British Airways own 7 Concordes and Air France now have 5. The aircraft flies at twice the speed of sound, which is around 1350 mph. A normal subsonic service takes around 7-8 hours to fly from London to New York, but Concorde's average flight time is around 3 hours 30 minutes. It's THAT fast! Too bad, it was retired due to losses incurred. Too expensive lah! The Airlines were not making back the money spent on the safety modifications and other upgrades.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

The more I live, the more I know...What's simple is true


After a sudden afternoon shower, the sunshine came back quickly and the air smells so fresh and sweet. I stood at my window glancing out of my apartment and took several deep breaths! Hmmmmmmmm......Ah............Lovely!
I am reminded of how the simple things in life can make people happy and contented. In our material world today, we are constantly captured by the beautiful things clever retailers dangle out as objects of desire. Others are born with an insatiable roving eye and are always on the lookout for the next best thing. The irony behind this is that the more they look, the less they see.
Standing by the window still, I was reminded of the immense pleasure I derived from a beautiful afternoon of leisure cycling. Slowly pedaling past windsurfers bobbing in the sea, having the ocean breeze play coyly with my hair, sitting on soft sand and breathing in the mixture of brine and sea foam while taking in the pleasant scene of people lounging on the beach can be the most uplifting experience. My tension eased away and my uptight muscles relaxed. All these beat the $100 per session spa indulgence hands-down.
Yes, the simple things in life make me happiest. Like the smell of rain.

Daily Trivia (personal):
My favourite smells

From nature:
1. Rain (the smell in the air before and after a shower)
2. Freshly cut grass
3. Clean fresh linen drying out in the sun
4. Morning air (at dawn)
5. Flowers in a meadow (gardenias especially!)
6. Cherry blossoms (Sakura)
7. Ocean breeze
8. Lavender field
9. Honey
10. Fragrance of fruits!

1. Disinfectant in a hospital
2. Soap (scent of a freshly showered individual)
3. Loving bouquet (Escada perfume)
4. Island kiss (Escada perfume)
5. Happy (Clinique perfume)
6. Sunflowers (Elizabeth Arden perfume)
7. Gardenia (perfume by Elizabeth Taylor)
8. Marc Jacobs perfume
9. Eternity for Men (perfume by Calvin Klein)
10. Freshly baked cookies

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Crabby Entry.....

Is it my imagination or is this a terribly warm night/ morning? I am usually afraid of the cold, but tonight, I have the air-conditioner on, the fan blasting in the background, AND I still feel HOT! =( Or have the late nights gotten to me and my system's overheating??? Sound the alarm and bring in the extinguishers.

Seriously people, if you have the luxury of sleeping early, please do. I hate people who can sleep and tell me they won't. What about people like me?? I WANT to sleep, sleep and sleep but if I do, I may end up getting nightmares about undone piles of work!!! They don't call it beauty sleep for nothing. No amount of crème de la crème beauty products can save your skin if you do not sleep early. Sometimes, I try to delude myself into thinking it does, so that it brings me some comfort. When I start working, I will make sure I have a more regular sleeping pattern. Unless of cos, I am raking in big bucks and that means incurring a massive amount of sleep debt. That's when I can still look my best by engaging the help of Dr. Woffles Wu. I am dying to retire by age 45, by the way. No use working so hard all your life without truly living it. If not, nothing is ever gonna make me stay up so late.

Apparently, this entry isn't turning out to be coherent at all. I am writing it in order to take my mind off the article I am reading earlier. So I shall stop here.

Daily Trivia: There were 15,700,003 Model T Ford's manufactured, all in black.

I Hope You Dance

This is one of my favourite songs and it is sung by Lee Ann Womack. It's a song that I would dedicate to all the wonderful people in my life and it contains my well-wishes for them. As they say, "Life is Beautiful" and this is how we should live out the colourful chapters of our lives.

I Hope You Dance
By Lee Ann Womack

I hope you never lose your sense of wonder,
You get your fill to eat but always keep that hunger,
May you never take one single breath for granted,
God forbid love ever leave you empty handed,
I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean,
Whenever one door closes I hope one more opens,
Promise me that you’ll give faith a fighting chance,
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance.
I hope you dance....I hope you dance.

I hope you never fear those mountains in the distance,
Never settle for the path of least resistance,
Livin’ might mean takin’ chances but they’re worth takin’,
Lovin’ might be a mistake but it’s worth makin’,
Don’t let some hell bent heart leave you bitter,
When you come close to sellin’ out reconsider,
Give the heavens above more than just a passing glance,
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance. I hope you dance....I hope you dance.

I hope you dance....I hope you dance. (Time is a wheel in constant motion always rolling us along, Tell me who wants to look back on their years and wonder where those years have gone.) I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean,
Whenever one door closes I hope one more opens,
Promise me that you’ll give faith a fighting chance,
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance. Dance....I hope you dance.

I hope you dance....I hope you dance. I hope you dance....I hope you dance.. (Time is a wheel in constant motion always rolling us along, Tell me who wants to look back on their years and wonder where those years have gone.)

Beautiful lyrics, isn't it? If any of you want a copy of the song, I will send it to you. Just drop me a message, alright? Alternatively, you can download from your sources. (whistles and looks about innocently...)

Daily Trivia: Secure, relatively high-yielding stocks came to be called blue chips, a term taken from the game of poker, where blue chips are more valuable than white or red chips. (now you know, dear Aileen)

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Reading for life

Sometimes, I lament that people nowadays do not read enough. But of cos, that's a sweeping statement judging from the healthy book sales figures worldwide. Bookshops and Amazon prove to be highly profitable businesses. Publishers reap a good yield and (many) authors live like kings. One can never overemphasize the importance of reading, but it seems like the younger generation is overwhelmed by an avalanche of distractions, all competing for their attention.

I was a child addicted to the written word, until the obligations of life starts to take precedence. Well, but still, we ought to read constantly. If reading has become a luxury (when it should have been a necessity), we should indulge often. I tend to be rather verbose in my writings and this is one of the reasons reading my entries may have proved more painful then enjoyable. (Many popular blogs simply let graphics do the talking, thereby garnering great readership, places like XX's site. Whoa, pun so unintended).
So, to cut the long story short, I shall enlist the help of several learned fellas to whet your appetite for reading. =)

I read myself out of poverty long before I worked myself out of poverty. ~Walter Anderson

The man who doesn't read good books has no advantage over the man who can't read them. ~Mark Twain

Education... has produced a vast population able to read but unable to distinguish what is worth reading. ~ G.M. Trevelyan

A truly great book should be read in youth, again in maturity and once more in old age, as a fine building should be seen by morning light, at noon and by moonlight. ~Robertson Davies

Misquotation is, in fact, the pride and privilege of the learned. A widely- read man never quotes accurately, for the rather obvious reason that he has read too widely. ~Hesketh Pearson

What we become depends on what we read after all of the professors have finished with us. The greatest university of all is a collection of books.~Thomas Carlyle

Daily Trivia: (another quote)

True Eloquence Can Never Exist In the Absence of Wisdom. ~Ivy Yeo

(unless some sage holds prior authorship to this statement).

Horrendous I-Account!

It is not so much the pathetic interest rates that got me griping today. It is the bank's policy revision that has caught me unaware. Anyone has a checking account? If yes, well, you have to take note.
I was looking through my online statement today when an entry puzzled me. I was levied a charge of $2 at the end of the month. And it's not as if my account has fallen below the minimum amount required. Flabbergasted, I called up UOB. Waited for around fifteen minutes for them to get a customer service officer to speak to me. =( Apparently, the bank has revised its policies as of June, and all i-account holders have to pay $2 per month--administrative charges.

I asked about other alternatives: The bank officer told me that there is a current account option whereby there's no monthly charge. The CATCH is that there is also NO INTEREST given. So, if you want to issue cheques, you have to choose between the devil and the deep blue sea.

My reaction? I started giggling into the phone. I found it so ludicrous that I have nothing to say. And when something so absurb happens, the only thing I would do is to laugh it off. Muahahahahaha. I think the bank officer was rather surprised. She simply waited for me to finish laughing.

For your information: The interest for a UOB i-account is 0.125% per annum for the first $3,000. And 0.325% per annum for the next $47,000. So, woe betide the fella who has less than $3,000 in his i-account. He gets around $0.30 a month and still needs to pay the bank $2. Might as well stash the cash in a tin and hide it under the bed. Duh…

Still, even nobody feels good if they have to pay right? Even though you get interest which can cover for your administrative charges. I am so going to cancel on this account and think of something to maximize my cash. Why should I pay the bank when it profits from my money and use it for investing, then levy a charge for me using its services? So, better take note and do likewise, people. Either that, or tell me about other better deals in town, alright? Wealth management is always one of my favourite topics. ;-)

Daily Trivia: (Since we are on the topic of $$... remember the jokes abt needing more Vitamin M (as in money)???
Vitamin M exists!
Vitamin M: Popularly known as folic acid, vitamin M belongs to a family of water-soluble compounds and hence excesses are excreted in the urine. This vitamin needs the help of vitamin B12, niacin, and vitamin C to convert it into a biologically active form in the body. Its main purpose is to maintain the genetic code of the cells and transfer inherited traits from one cell to another.
The richest dietary sources of vitamin M are: avocados, barley, beef, beets, bran, brewer's (nutritional) yeast, broccoli, brown rice, cheese, chicken, dates, green leafy vegetables, lamb, liver, milk, mushrooms, orange juice, pork, tuna, wheat germ, whole grains, and whole wheat.
From the list, we do derive a good dosage of Vitamin M from our diet. =)

Sunday, July 03, 2005

My Final Fantasy Gal

Rinoa Heartilly

I was clearing some graphics from my computer when I chanced upon this picture of Rinoa Heartilly (Final Fantasy VIII). For some inexplicable reason, I have always like her very much, and in my undergraduate years, grew to love FF8 because I simply cannot get enough of staring at this computer generated character. I even bought a huge cloth poster of her to hang in my room. However, having her stare at me sleep every night turned out to be rather eerie, and I have since kept the poster. (Sheepish grin).

Five years later, I continue to be drawn to her. Think she's one of the best Final Fantasy heroines I have laid my eyes on.

Alright, before I start sounding freaky, I have better end my entry. Seriously lacking in inspiration tonight, mainly because I am in a neutral mood. When Ivy is feeling neutral, she does not write passionately. But it's a good day for handling academic work...so let's hope I have many 'neutral' mood weeks ahead! =)

Cannot resist putting up another picture of her, for my personal viewing pleasure when I sign in. Heehee...

Rinoa in Dancing Gown

Daily Trivia: Sunlight triggers hypothalamus gland to produce neurotransmitters which govern our digestion, moods, immune system and breathing. Light Therapy helps to treat depression, insomnia, skin rashes and eczema, PMS, hypertension, and even cravings for carbohydrates! So, get out and have fun in the sun. (By the way, remember your sunscreen, folks…SPF 30 minimum). Contrary to popular belief, fair babes can be sun-loving too. ;-)

adopt your own virtual pet!