Tuesday, December 30, 2008

My new book on Blurb - Cambodia travel photos

One of my goals for 2008 was to finally create and publish a photobook on Blurb. (Let's not talk about the goals I did not manage to accomplish).

It's just done. Uploaded 30 minutes ago, then I went through the settings to see what options Blurb provides for marketing the book.

The Blurb site features "badges" - image links to the book on the Blurb catalog, an easy click-through to browse an online preview and place an order. (all major credit cards accepted!)

digitally edited t...
By Philip Lee

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Steinbeck and a likely mid09 holiday!

Was planning a family holiday to the bay area in Summer next year - a chance for Laura to visit with her older sister at the Stanford campus, and perhaps sneak into a lecture or two.

As we talked about how the trip could be structured, Monterey came up as one of the likely places we'd visit. We'd been to the Monterey Bay Aquarium on a trip to California many years back, and this was a wonderful place I'd be happy to spend another full day at. The Aquarium is situated at one of Cannery Row, a street immortalised by Steinbeck in his book of the same name, and the follow-up novel "Sweet Thursday".

Tortilla Flat was the first Steinbeck novel I'd ever read (borrowed the book from the CJC library back in '78, 10 years after Steinbeck passed away), and this book had me sold on the author for his laid back style, odd but richly rendered characters and deceptively simple but effective descriptions of the sets (the scene backdrops, the surroundings of the action). Set in Monterey, as were Cannery Row and Sweet Thursday, these stories made me want to visit that section of the CA west coast, see the marine life that provided Doc with his living, sit in the dunes where the troubled minds would visit for comfort and perhaps a bit of wisdom......

At PageOne (in Vivo City) about a month back, I came across a beautifully packaged set of Steinbeck's manuals. Lovely cover art and design - that captured the spirit of men of old I associate with California - men like John Muir, Steinbeck himself, Francis of Assisi - people who travelled, observed, had ideas bigger than their bodies could contain.

Much to my delight, I came across a Steinbeck piece in the "Blowin' in the wind" blog, and it's linked here for your reading pleasure.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Secret Santa

Larry Stewart died from cancer on Jan 12th, 2007. From 1979 to 2006, he had a secret identity. He would anonymously seek out people in need and give them $100 bills, asking in return that they perform acts of kindness to others. According to Wikipedia,
"...he believed in handing out cash directly to people in need because it is something people do not have to, as he said, "beg for, get in line for, or apply for."
Before he died, he revealed his secret identity to encourage others to act with similar generosity. Larry's project lives on because there are now others to carry on his work. One of them is featured in this Dec 24th 2007 article:

ABCNews: Secret Santa Hands Out Crisp $100 Bills
Donor Distributes Money for Good. Only Catch: He Wants You to Pay the Kindness Forward

The new Secret Santa is still anonymous. In a quote from the article above, he says:

"He'd hand him a hundred dollars, just like I'm handing you," Santa said to one lucky recipient. "All he would ask is that you do something nice for somebody, and pass the kindness on," Santa told another.

In his first year on the job, this new Secret Santa has, so far, changed the fortunes of 600 strangers. "If $100 can inspire 1,000 people to commit a random act of kindness and pass it on, that's the best investment I can get on my money," he said.

In yesterday's Sunday Times, there was a feature from AP, about this same Secret Santa on his second christmas since his recruitment by Larry Stewart. Much of the text from this article appeared, interestingly enough, on the China Daily website.

Secret Santa began his work in Kansas. So it's appropriate to link in a Dec 6 2008 article from the KansasCityStar.com website titled:

Secret Santa amazes St.Louis

I met a man with a similar philosophy somewhere on the streets of Singapore more than 30 years ago. I have forgotten what he did for me - but he was a stranger, and had helped me more than I would have expected a stranger to. I remember asking him how I could pay him back. His reply was "to do good to other strangers". He never told me his name, or how I could contact him again. Anonymous.

I've had the chance to help a few strangers out since. Changing a car tyre by the side of the road. Offering a lift. Carrying a heavy bag a few blocks. Guiding a car through a tight passage. Offering parking coupons with some minutes of unexpired time on them. Holding doors open for cleaners with laden trollies to wheel past. It's only to the children that I ask for repayment by their doing something good for others. I prefer to assume the adults will know what to do.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Joan's letter to ST Forum (18th Nov 2008)

Several weeks back, Joan sent a letter to the ST Forum which was published in the 18th Nov issue of the Straits Times. Reproduced here for your reading pleasure!

Subject: reduce electricity tariff for All Singaporeans, not just companies

I refer to Fiona Chan's article, dated Nov 16, where companies are seeking govt relief to cope with the downturn. Companies are asking for reduction in utilities costs and transportation costs such as road tax and ERP charges. I urge the govt to have a heart and reduce such costs for ALL Singaporeans who are hurting from the financial crisis. Otherwise, the man- in- the- street would effectively be subsidising the costs of these companies. The recent 21% hike in electricity prices in the wake of the already unraveling economy was an especially cruel blow to all Singaporeans and others living here, already reeling from the GST hike slapped on earlier this year when signs of cracks in the global economy were starting to show. All Singaporeans are hurting. We are all struggling to cope and worried about making ends meet. To the government of Singapore: I speak to you directly. Please have a heart. Show your compassion to all. Kindness given benefits both the giver and the taker. And as all economists agree, we need to stimulate the economy with increased public and personal spending. We cannot do this when our wallets are empty.