Blog To Express

A blogosphere learning experience to express with blog

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Location: Singapore, Singapore

A "recycled teenager" learning to blog.

Jul 28, 2009

"Share-A-Story" Session at Bishan Community Library

Date: 28 July, 2009
Time: 7 pm to 8:30 pm
Venue: Bishan Community Library
5 Bishan Place # 01-01

The second "故事达人交流会 " (Share-A-Story Session in Mandarin) organised by the National Library Board. The first session was held at the same venue in April, 2009.

The following is an introduction to the "Share-A-Story" program by Evelyn Quek, Associate I. Reading Initiatives, National Library Board:

"We are pleased to share with you one of our reading initiatives - Share-A-Story (Mandarin session 故事达人交流会) is a storytelling club formed by NLB since March 2009. It aims to reach out to people who are interested in storytelling, be it teenagers, adults or seniors. We ignite their enthusiasm for storytelling and reading through a bi-monthly get-together session with activities such as storytelling and learning journeys with invited guest-storytellers and children's librarians. They share tips on good storytelling techniques and introduce interesting children's books for storytelling. With the joint interest in storytelling, we hope the members of the club will continue to infect good reading habits among our community at large".


The first part of the evening's program was presented by the Chinese Language students of Mr Ng Koon How ( 黄坤浩老师 ):

Crosstalk (Xiangsheng) by Taylor and James

Reading story of Chinese Myth "Chang E - A Lady on the Moon (the origin of Mid-Autumn Festival) by Elise, James and Laurel

Chorus " I and You" - A theme song of 2008 Beijing Olympics, by Aaron, Irene, Eugene, Elise, James and Laurel.

One of Mr Ng's students, Taylor Michael Maltz, hailed from Colorado, USA.

Taylor has been in Singapore for almost a year now and is a lecturer in Business Communication at the Ngee Ann Polytechnic. He reads, writes and speaks fluent Mandarin. Besides the personal coaching from 黄坤浩老师, Taylor also supplement his Chinese language learning from audio tapes and other Internet resources, including YouTube.

His interest in the Chinese langauge and culture dates back to his university days in the States. He spent about 3 months in China to gain greater exposure in the Chinese language. The taxi-drivers, shopkeepers and people he met in China were surprised that this "老外" could speak such fluent Mandarin!

Sent from my Treo 650


Hobby as a media of education

Picture courtesy of Dr. Tan Wee Kiat

Since young, I have been fascinated by postage stamps as storytellers. Every postage stamp tells a story, or part of a story.

It was only two years ago that I discovered that a veteran Singaporean, Dr. Tan Wee Kiat, an avid philatelist, had written several books to tell stories through postage stamps.

Dr Tan epitomizes the storyteller who uses his hobby as a media of education.

Through the painstaking efforts and thorough research with co-authors Koo Hong Piew and Noel Nidalgo Tan, Dr Tan had published several books on various topics based on postage stamps.

Please visit ReTRIeVIA to discover the wonders of Dr Tan Wee Kiat's hobby and the treasure chest of story-telling postage stamps he had preserved for interesting learning journey through stamps!


Hobby is a passion

There is no price tag to a hobbyist's collection.

I have an ex-colleague whose hobby is the collection of single-trip advertising MRT cards.

He claims to have the most complete collection of MRT cards (commemorative, campaigns, advertising, commercial and non-commercial). His claim is based on the official catalog of MRT cards issued by the SMRT!

Unfortunately, since the introduction of the eZlink card by SMRT, the issue of single-trip advertising MRT cards was discontinued.

To safeguard the personal privacy and safety of his private collection of MRT cards, I shall not reveal the identity of my ex-colleague.

Lets call him Bob.

People may laugh at Bob for his crazy interest in MRT card collecting.

But then an individual's hobby is a passion which goes beyond logical reasoning. There is no right or wrong about it.

Nobody could understand why Bob would bother to take the first train in the morning to the MRT station where a new MRT card is launched, just to make sure that he could get hold of it before the cards are sold out.

There was once when BRANDS Essence of Chicken issued a set of advertising MRT cards.

The cards were sold only to those who could produce a proof of purchase (in the form of a token or coupon) of BRANDS Essence of Chicken.

Bob actually bought several bottles of the BRANDS Essence of Chicken for the entitlement to purchase these MRT cards, although he hated the taste of the tonic. He then gave away the Essence of Chicken to fellow colleagues. He kept the MRT card for himself, of course!

Several other commercial products and service providers jumped on the bandwagon one after another, to use advertising MRT cards as a media to promote their products.

When Maidenform released its advertising MRT card, Bob found himself in a dilemma. He could not possibly buy a few pairs of bras and distribute them to colleagues like he did with the Essence of Chicken. It would be embarrassing. Furthermore, what cup size should he buy? He was a bachelor and does not have a wife to wear the bras!

He then plucked up enough courage to approach a female colleague and asked her privately: "Hey, I need to have this Maidenform MRT card very badly or else my collection will be incomplete. Please, go buy the Maidenform bra whichever size and color fits you and I'll pay for it". Bob showed the colleague the advertisement of the MRT card launch.

Somehow, the story was passed around through the grapevine but it doesn't matter.

Bob got the Maidenform MRT card he wanted...and the female colleague got a free bra!


Jul 26, 2009

Blogging as a hobby

The following are some of the results of a google search for the definition of hobby:

A hobby is a spare-time recreational pursuit.

An activity that one enjoys doing in one's spare time;

hobbies - Making money and eating

hobbies - Eating lasagna, sleeping, tricking Odie, watching TV

So should blogging be defined as a hobby?

Since blogging is an activity that I enjoy doing currently in my spare time, I would consider it as a hobby. Maybe its just me, and I speak only for myself.

I have been pondering over the countless hobbies that people have, ranging from collection of stamps, bus tickets, currency notes and coins, paper bags, shoes to rare paintings and antiques. Does anybody have a complete list of hobbies in the world?

Of all living creatures big and small created by God, man (and that includes women) are the only ones with hobbies. Animals, birds, fishes, insects and other mammals do not have hobbies.

As far as hobby is concerned, there is no right or wrong. As the saying goes, "One man's meat is another man's poison", nobody can assert on another person that he should have the same hobby. To each his own choice of hobby ( wondering if this is incorporated in the United Nation Charter of Human Rights ; )

People who share the same hobby gets together to form "Special Interest Group" (SIG) though. Clubs and societies for hobbies such as stamp collecting, photography, quilt knitting and patchwork, handicraft, model aeroplanes and cars, rearing of tropical fishes, orchid planting, etc are the places where 'birds of the same feather flock together'. These are some of the activities which like-minded people enjoy doing during their pastime. At these hobbies club meetings, the veterans will show the ropes to the 'newbies', guide them, share their experiences and passion to promote the hobby.

Have you ever heard from someone who describes work as a 'hobby'?

A former colleague of mine was so fed-up with people asking him, "Hey, why are you working so late? You don't have a life, is it? They labelled him a workaholic and passed caustic remarks like "Come on, don't spoil the market lah". He doesn't care. It is his own rice-bowl which he had to take care. Why allow other people to break his rice-bowl with frivolous words? He just carried on to get his work done and perform his daily task.

This colleague once told me, "You know, actually I wanted to scream at these people and ask them: "If I do not stay back to clear my urgent workstuff, will you guys help to complete them for me?"

To avoid creating animosity and ill-will, he did not argue with his critics. Instead, he good-naturedly gave his signature reply to these sarcastic remarks: "Its not work. Its my hobby" ; )

Sometimes, he will tell people that his wife has a Japanese woman's mentality. If he leave the office on the dot, she will think that he is a irresponsible person and a work shirker : )

Anyways, all that is already the past and over. He is now happily retired, enjoying his days with the sun, sea and sand at the beach, surfing and sailing (sssss...not zzzzz  ; ).

This then is his real as a "hobby" was just an excuse to get crabby people to leave him alone when he was still working in a regular job...."economically active", as defined by IRAS.

Do you know of any unusual hobbies that people have? Please share them with us in this blog.


Jul 25, 2009

Blogging Blues

Getting back to the main theme of this blogsite, I would like to share the "learning while doing" techniques, similar to OTJ (On-The-Job training) which are gleaned from the experiences of other seasoned bloggers.

Here's some tips posted by Jimmy to Blog Tutorial. The blogging tips will be posted in bite-sized portions and condensed for easy viewing.


Are Your Suffering From Blogging Blues?

We all know what it means to have the blues. Every so often, we feel down and out, as if we didn’t have the motivation or strength to go on. This could be about life in general, this could be about work, this could even be about blogging.

I have heard of people who have only been blogging for a couple of months who feel as if they have lost their motivation to maintain their blog. I have also heard of people who have been blogging for a long time and feeling the same thing. I would like to call this the blogging blues.

Let us take a look at the first situation – the relatively new bloggers. I believe that one main reason for their blogging blues is the fact that they jump into the blogging bandwagon with certain expectations in mind. These expectations sometimes exceed realistic terms and this is why they suddenly find themselves demotivated.

So how should you adjust your expectations in order to avoid blogging blues? I think that one very important thing is to bear in mind that being successful at blogging is something that does not happen overnight. It may not even happen in a month or two. It could take months and months of consistent posting and online activity.



Jul 18, 2009

True Wonder of the Internet

Apollo's 40th Anniversary Shows True Wonder of the Internet
Todd R. Weiss
Jul 17, 2009 10:15 pm
Source: Today@PC World

For just a moment, forget Google Chrome OS, the new Windows 7 and all the online hoopla about the shocking death of Michael Jackson.
Those happenings aren't the reasons I love the Internet.

Instead, to me, the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing this weekend is Exhibit A in the evidence files that show the real beauty of the Web and its amazing technology that brings the world to each of us on our computers.

Forty years ago this weekend, NASA's wondrous Apollo 11 spacecraft was hurtling its way from the Earth to the moon on a trip to deliver two Americans -- the first humans to walk on another celestial body -- to the moon's surface. And today, through the true magic of the Internet, we are able to again see, hear and experience a second-by-second reenactment of that spectacular event and relive it right on our computer screens. We can experience everything from old NASA video images to the original mission audio recordings to crisp new animations of key events that couldn't be seen through live footage. It's the icing on the cake for me, a man who grew up watching each Gemini and Apollo spaceflight, thrilled by their excitement, wonder and technological leaps back in the 1960s and 1970s.

It's one of the few times I can truly say that what I'm watching online is absolutely incredible. It's the difference between fluff and real emotion. This is a weekend where watching the unfolding recreations and simulcast coverage is not to be missed. Even as I'm writing this right now on my modern desktop PC, which has far more computing power in its single AMD Athlon chip than was available to mission controllers for Apollo 11 back in 1969 on their complex mission computers, I'm listening in the background to the audio tracks of the mission being replayed in real time. Absolutely amazing.

For me, it's like reliving the Apollo 11 mission all over again. In July 1969, as astronauts Neil Armstrong, Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin and Michael Collins zoomed to the moon in their sleek capsule across 240,000 miles of space, I was 10 years old. I remember staying awake late on the night of July 20, 1969, with my grandpop, Louie, in his Philadelphia home watching the fuzzy images that are still emblazoned on my retinas -- there was Armstrong taking the first steps on the moon, followed a short time later by Aldrin. It was pretty heady stuff for a sixth-grade school boy watching the technological wonder of those days -- television -- with his dear grandpop late on a hot summer night.

If you weren't alive for the original version of the thrill ride known as Apollo 11, then man, buckle your seat belt. You're in for a real treat. Here are some highlights you can experience this weekend:

See everything that happened on the Apollo 11 flight happen all over again in real time on the spectacular We Choose The Moon Web site. Be sure to follow along by launching the accompanying audio player so you can hear all the action.

Check out NASA's image gallery for the flight.

View an interactive NASA feature that shows the first moon landing.

Watch a NASA feature that shows video, photos, information and more about Apollo 11.

Experience the first moon walk by viewing old, partially-restored NASA films.

Be sure to also check out NASA blogs on future missions and space exploration.

So go and revel this weekend in what you can see all over again, through the wonder of the Internet. We didn't have these capabilities back then, but we sure have them now and I am thankful for that. To me, this is what the Internet should be all about.

OK, Houston, it's time for me to head back to my control panel so I can again experience the historic Apollo 11 flight. Over and out until next time.


SIJ "Basic Computer & Internet Course" - Paya Lebar Kovan Community Club

Group photo of the participants of Silver Infocomm Junction "Basic Computer & Internet Course" at Paya Lebar Kovan Community Club on 18 July, 2009.

Standing at back row, extreme left is the course instructor, Mr Eric Lee.

This is a "live" demonstration of wireless real-time blog update of the photo taken for the course participants who completed the 3-session basic module after they have received their certificates.

After the photo was uploaded to the blogsite, they then viewed it on the Internet in the classroom.

Sent from my Treo 650


Jul 14, 2009

"Qigong Shi Ba Shi" Exercise

The photos here show the members of the "Kampong Ubi Eunosville Qigong Group" doing the "Qigong Shi Ba Shi" (气功十八式) exercises at the Kampong Ubi Community Centre.

Accorrding to the Qigong Shi Ba Shi Association (Singapore), their main objective is to promote Qigong Shi Ba Shi exercise for the physical and mental health of Singaporeans regardless of race, language or religion and actively support other organisations in community health promotion.

The following are some of the benefits of the Qigong Shi Ba Shi exercises:

1. Improves Health
2. Increases Energy, Agility and Flexibility
3. Loosens and Strengthens Joints and Muscles
4. Controls Weight
5. Rejuvenates Body, Mind and Spirit
6. Reduces Stress
7. Improves Concentration and Intuitive Abilities
8. Controls Emotions
9. Easy to Learn

One of the participants, Che Norha Nim, a Residents Committee member of Zhenghua, told me that she travelled all the way from Bukit Panjang with two other friends for the qigong exercises at Kampong Ubi CC on every Tuesday and Friday evening for the past 5 months. They were selected by the People's Assocation to be trained as "Qigong Shi Ba Shi" trainers/demonstrators. Their training course will be completed next month.

Although the instructions were given in Mandarin, language was not a problem for Che Norha and her friends as they have been doing the "Qigong Shi Ba Shi" exercises at Zhenghua Community Centre for about 3 years now. They have learnt the Chinese phrases used during training and are able to understand the instructions without much difficulties.

When they return to Zhenghua as trainers/demonstrators, the medium of instruction would either be in Malay or Mandarin. Isn't that great?

Like music, the "Qigong Shi Ba Shi" physical exercise is universal. It does not have any language or cultural barriers, although the artform was originally from China.

The motto of the Qigong Shi Ba Shi Association (Singapore) is:

"Life is Great with Qigong Exercise".

Sent from my Treo 650


Jul 12, 2009

Reminiscence of National Library at Stamford Road

As a picture is worth a thousand words, the above b/w picture taken about 40 years ago when I was in my early 20s will help me to save as many words in this blog.

Remember the chorus from the song "Words" by Bee Gees? Its one of my favorite "oldies but goodies".

"it's only words
and words are all I have
to take your heart away"

However, a picture without words or oral narration is incomplete and vice versa. One could never get the whole picture because without words (both written and/or spoken), the thoughts, the feelings, the smell and the atmosphere are simply not there.

Looking at the picture, the viewer may be wondering who is the girl standing beside me. No, she's not my girlfriend ; )

She is my cousin from Brunei who visited Singapore with her husband for their honeymoon, and I was the "official" tour guide and host sometime in the 1960s. Couldn't remember the exact date, unfortunately. For a person with poor memories like me, dates fade with age. This is not the norm though. Some of my older buddies with "elephant memories" could remember dates on their finger tips as they have a better mental faculty than me.

The itinerary I planned for my cousin and her husband was somewhat different from those offered by tourist agencies in their commercialised "Places of Interest" lists. I brought them to other tourist attractions such as Haw Par Villa, Van Kleef Aquarium, National Theatre, the Esplanade, Great World, Happy World and New World (the amusement parks of the 'Three Worlds' in Singapore) too. We walked a lot, as the places we visited were mostly in downtown Singapore, including Chinatown. For the faraway places we visited, we took bus. There was no MRT then, and taxi fare was beyond my budget. That was Singapore in the 1960s.

Our itinerary included the most unlikely places for tourists to visit - the National Library at Stamford Road.

That's where the above photo was taken.

How can I not bring them to my "second home" where I spent my teenage years and knows every nooks and corners of the red-brick building?

I remembered that one day when I was at the National Library at Stamford Road many years ago, there was a fire-drill and everyone in the library were required to evacuate through a back-door staircase, guided by a library staff. This is a secret exit used only for emergencies and it was like going down a dark dungeon which leads to a door that opens out to the library carpark. This is something that many library visitors do not have the chance to experience. The National Library doesn't conduct fire drill everyday, I am sure.

Both my cousin and her husband were impressed that Singapore has such a big library with a huge collection of books in various languages, catering to readers of various ages with different interests. Furthermore, the books were on loan free-of-charge, except for those in the reference section which cannot be borrowed home.

They did not have such public amenities in the fishing village in Brunei where they lived.

That was 40 years ago. I don't know about now because Brunei is a rich country with rapid development and progress and things must have changed.

After a tour of the library where I proudly presented to them the 'haven of books' where every Singaporean could supplement their text-book learning with the world of knowledge through books in the National Library, we were hungry. (Not 'hungary' as some people pronounced it. Only Hungarians say they are hungary...hahaha just kidding ; )

I brought them to the canteen beside the library to savour the delicious "One Ton Mee" (Wanton Mee) of the kind-hearted auntie who has become a Singapore icon. Please check out some of the local blogs about her. Just google "national library wanton mee" and you will get a whole list of the links.

There is something which has not been blogged about the auntie, I believe.

It is my personal experience; and unless someone who also witnessed the incident at that time is also a blogger relating it somewhere on his or her blog, let me share it here:

In the 60s when the library is the only place I will spend my school holidays, usually from the time the library opens until it closed.

My meals during those time was either the breads I brought along or home-cooked food prepared by my mother. Once in a while whenever I have enough pocket money, I would give myself a treat and eat at the National Library canteen. My favorite stall was the auntie's wanton mee.

On one occasion, I witnessed a heart-rending incidence at the auntie's stall.

There was this young student in uniform who discovered that he did not have enough money to pay for the food after ordering a plate of wanton mee. He panicked and pleaded with the auntie to cancel his order. He was embarrassed, frightened and tears was welling in his eyes. He probably thought that the auntie would scold or humiliate him in the presence of so many people at the stall.

The kind auntie whispered to him as she did not want other customers to eavesdrop on their conversation, "Don't worry, boy. You don't have to pay me now. Just go eat the wanton mee. Pay me some other time when you have enough money".

I could hear because I was standing beside them; else this story could never have been told except by the auntie or the boy.

This long forgotten story, until now, is told here because there is a moral to the story worth sharing, I believe.

Such kindness and compassion touches the heart!

By the way, the dictionary defination of reminiscence is:

1. (cognition) the process of remembering (especially the process of recovering information by mental effort)

2. (cognition) a mental impression retained and recalled from the past.

I like that. Its what is happening to my mind now :)

Thanks for reading.

The Indian rojak stalls in wheel-carts were located at Waterloo Street just opposite the National Library at Stamford Road.


Jul 9, 2009

"Reading Marathon 2009" Successfully Completed

The "Reading Marathon 2009" was successfully completed on 9 July, 2009 at 1:00 pm.

With this event, NLB has set an official record for the “Longest Reading Aloud Marathon by Multiple Readers” in the Singapore Book of Records, reported in the Daily Singapore News.

This is my final blog at "Blog to Express" on the reading marathon event, launched on 3 July, 2009. Unfortunately, I was not able to attend every reading session, though. I would have scored an individual record in a personal marathon for the 6- day long, round-the-clock event without sleeping day and night, just to keep up with the "Reading Marathon 2009" at the National Library Building Events Plaza if I had done so. I could then apply to be awarded a certificate as "Person Without Sleep" record-breaker, followed by a "Person Who Sleeps Forever" award which will happen one day without me present to receive the award ; )

During my lunch break on 9 July, 2009 , I rushed down to the National Library Building, skipping my lunch but that's a small matter as far as I am concerned. I wanted to be part of this historical event and to seize this "once-in-a-lifetime" moment as a Singaporean, as a spectator and as a member of the National Library. It is also to bring my blog on this topic to a proper closure.

By the way, nobody invited me officially to blog about the "Reading Marathon 2009" and all views and opinions expressed are my own. I just blog to express about an event which I think is extremely meaningful in the context of a community of book lovers...those who love books and reading, not collectors of rare books.

It was not a grand ceremony on the scale of a Woodstock rock concert or the National Day Parade. It was a simple but meaningful ceremony. Not extravagant with frivolous fanfare.

When the clock on the stage wall struck 1:00 pm and the display panel blinks 144 hours to signal the completion of "Reading Marathon 2009", the Event Plaza at National Library Building came alive with the sound of drum-roll, colored confetti exploded into the air, and the loud applause of the VIPs, invited guests, participants and the event organisers. It was a happy and memorable moment to be cherished by everyone involved in this first-ever record-breaking marathon of continuous reading aloud of fiction stories for 144 hours, twice the number of hours for a previous reading marathon held in 2005.

Cheers and Congratualations!

Dr Varaprasad, Chief Executive of the National Library Board then stepped up the stage with a broad smile on his face.

He proudly received the framed certificate from a Singapore Book of Records representative and raised it above his head, as shown in the photo at the bottom of the blog. (Please scroll down to view it).

In a short speech, Dr Varaprasad thanked the Steering Committee of the "Reading Marathon 2009", the participants, the project partners, supporters, sponsors and everyone who helped in one way or another to make the event a success. It was a wonderful experience. There were ardent, enthusiastic participants reading aloud at 3.00 am during the reading marathon.

He gave credits to everyone but himself. I wondered why.

I read the following quote from a book many years ago at the National Library:

"Compliments motivate people. They are like fertilizer. They don't do any good until they're spread around. Distribute them liberally. You can never go wrong by spreading encouraging words. They might be nothing more than fertilizer, but fertilizer can make things grow faster and bigger".

Dr Varaprasad said that he was asked by the media after the completion of the reading marathon: "What's next?"

He replied that he will need to check with his Steering Committee before making a decision.

The reading marathon is not a simple event and certainly not a one-man show. It takes many months of planning, co-ordination, preparation and the support of participants, the sponsors, NLB staff at all levels and the public.

Whilst winning the record for the “Longest Reading Aloud Marathon by Multiple Readers” in the Singapore Book of Records is a commendable achievement for NLB, I believe it is not the main objective of the event as a competition to be the "bestest or the mostest" , whatever....

It is an incidental credit which ties in with the the READ! Singapore initiative, as clearly described in the NLB appeal for supporters in its handout quoted below:


Building a nation of readers who strive to broaden their minds and expand their horizons is no individual effort. This task is appointed to the NLB but also to all who hold a stake in the future of Singapore.

NLB and READ! Singapore welcomes your participation as partners in promoting the joy of reading.

How can your organisation or institution get involved in READ! Singapore?

- Organise book sharing/discussions at your workplace, school, tertiary institute, community centre or common area.

- Form groups with colleagues or associates to meet regularly and talk about each other's reading experiences.

- Organise events in conjunction with READ! Singapore, such as the Reading Carnival and competitions.

Besides their value in developing personal depth and skills, resulting in more well-rounded, well-read and thoughtful persons, book discussions can also serve to build rapport and help members of a group understand each other better. Book readings shared with members of other organisations also offer informal networking opportunities between staff at all levels.

You can also support READ! Singapore through sponsorships or provisions of resources in kind.

As the participation figures for READ! Singapore indicate, the campaign reaches thousands of Singaporeans of all professions and pursuits. With tremendous positive spillover effects for society and the economy plus uniformly favourable reception by the media, participants and existing partners in the public and private sectors, READ! Singapore presents a unique platform for wholesome exposure and to be associated with an event of universal acclaim.


At the end of the day, I think what the reading marathon had achieved is a community event which helps to highlight the joy of reading and books, promote the reading habits among Singaporeans, create awareness in the READ! Singapore programmes, the amenities and wide range of educational services provided by the National Library Board and the mutual sharing of individual readers' personal experience. It gives every participant the opportunity to read aloud in public, even at an unearthly hour of the morning at 3.00 am, without worries of getting arrested by the police for being a public nuisance : )

I believe the organisers would have obtained official approval from the Police to hold this public event.

Although "Reading Marathon 2009" as an event has ended, the reading marathon for everyone, whether silently or loudly as appropriate, goes on with everyone of us to complete the "Reading Marathon for a Lifetime" until we can no longer do so. The length of "Lifetime" varies from person to person though.

Happy Reading!

Sent from my Treo 650


PANPAC Education

Take a look at the clock on the right of the photo above.

Its 1.00 am on Thursday, 9 July.

While most people would now be in "dreamland" weaving their beautiful dreams, these three young ladies from the PANPAC group are on stage at The Plaza, National Library Building.

They are still wide awake and did not show any signs of sleepiness. Reading loudly in Chinese with gusto, the lady on the extreme left appears to be enjoying a good read.

Its going to be a long haul for them until 7.00 time for breakfast :)

Bravo Ladies! This is the kind of spirit which helped the Singapore Women's Everest Team to conquer Mount Everest recently. Read on!

According to Mr Koh Swee Yang, Managing Editor of Panpac Education, the group spent about two weeks to prepare for the reading marathon.

The team supports the READ! Singapore programs and activities, including the "Reading Marathon 2009" as it is a very meaningful way to spread the joy of reading and books, and to create awareness of the National Library's wide range of educational resources.

Sent from my Treo 650


Malay Reading Club

The clock on the wall is ticking away, and the "Reading Marathon 2009" is in its last lap....6 days after it was launched on Friday, 3 July.

The event had clocked in 131 Hr 18 Min 38 Sec when the above photo was taken.

Che Jamilah Bte Mahmud, aged 52, was reading aloud on stage with passion. Her intonation was expressive as she articulated a chapter from "Jodoh Internet" (Match-making on the Internet). The book, "Kumpulan Cerpen Millenia" in Malay was written by her favorite author Helmilina Muhamad Som.

Helmilina is our home-bred author and currently a secondary school Malay Language teacher. She received awards from Suria MediaCorp for her involvement in a Malay program on a local radio station.

Che Jamilah is the leader of the Malay Reading Club. 18 members from the reading club participated in the marathon today, (8 July, 2009) from 7.00 pm to 1.00 am.

The Malay Reading Club comprise of students from Madrasah Aljunied, St. Andrew Secondary School and grassroot leaders from the Geylang Community Club.

Relating her personal experience in reading books, Che Jamilah said that her daughters, one doing Honours Degree in NUS and another studying in the Polytechnic, love reading more than her youngest son, a Junior College student who is active in "Zikir Barat", soccer and music.

Sent from my Treo 650

Participants from Madrasah Aljunied


Jul 7, 2009

Reading Marathon 2009 - Taxi Sifu Club

The "Taxi Sifu Reading Club" has been described as 'a successful example of a learning community within the public library. This is an apt description of the Special Interest Group (SIG). It is an informal club for cabbies who love books and reading.

I learnt from Mr Tan Seng Lee, Chairman of the "Taxi Sifu Reading Club" that he has been driving taxi for over 30 years.

He lives in Ang Mo Kio and a frequent visitor to the Ang Mo Kio Branch Library, where he loaned Chinese books to read during his spare time.

In 2005, he was approached by Mrs Kiang-Koh Lai Lin, Director of Reading Initiatives, Public Libraries, Singapore to form a Reading Club.

On 23 July, 2005, the "Taxi Sifu Reading Club" was formed.

Mr Tan was also active in the various activities and programs organised by the National Library.

He found that through the interactive discussion group, he gets connected with fellow cabbies who share the same interest in reading.

The National Library provides them with the place to meet and the books to read.

Check out the special feature article of the "Taxi Sifu Club" in The Star Online.

Sent from my Treo 650


Jul 5, 2009

Welcome to "Reading Marathon 2009"

"Reading Marathon 2009" is brought to you by the READ! Singapore team.

The goals of READ! Singapore are:

* Create a vibrant reading culture in Singapore

* Promote a lifelong love of fiction and story-telling; and

* Strengthen community bonds through group discussions.

Readubg fiction is a simple and effective means of relaxing and giving your mind a quick break from its daily routine. As one plunges into a new world and see it through the eyes of a host of dramatis personae, the journey from page to page becomes a process of self-discovery and revelation.

Singaporeans, as a NLB survey in 2003 revealed, tend to restrict their reading to work- or school-related materials. Lack of time or energy were the most-cited reasons that impeded reading for leisure. These responses were worrying in the light of an economy that is becoming more sophisticated and reliant on ideas and intangible sources of innovation.

Excerpt from the National Library Reading Initiative publicity material.

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Wheels of Knowledge & Friends

Group photo of "Wheels of Knowledge & Friends". Courtesy of Royston Neo, digitalPh(O)tograph

Members of the "Wheels of Knowledge & Friends" were scheduled to read aloud on stage at the "Reading Marathon 2009" on 5 July from 1.00 pm to 7.00 pm.

While it was showtime for Nantha Kumar to read his favorite piece to the audience with a voice filled with emotion and feelings on stage, Dennis Kweh, Eugene Soh and I moved to a cozy corner at The Plaza, away from the stage so that our loud voices will not drown the interesting story read by Nantha.

After introducing ourselves, Dennis, Eugene and I started to chat about.....what else other than books and reading! It was like the meeting of old friends.

We all share a common interest. Yes, we are crawlies (more commonly known as "book worms") who will make a beeline to the nearest National Libary whenever we get the chance to do so.

We are not silverfishes...the "terrorists" which destroy books though :)

Eugene works as an IT software developer and a "selective" reader. "Selective" meaning he will first filter through the book titles and read only books and articles which will nourish his mind and his soul. So it is not surprisingly that the "Chicken Soup for the Soul" series are among his favorites. I got some great tips from Eugene and will start my "chicken soup" diet regime soon.

Dennis gave me a knowing smile when I told him that I am blogging on the "Reading Marathon 2009" from my personal perspective as a spectator, not a participant.

I didn't know that Dennis is also a fellow blogger!

But of course, we bloggers are not "publicity hounds" with a "I Am A Blogger" tattoo on our foreheads. We do not wish to attract unnecessary attention and be stared at in public places. We are not celebrities like MJ.

We value our privacy as private citizens and are afraid of mobsters. We also avoid crowded places for fear of the H1N1 virus infection.

Dennis invited me to visit his Adventure 200 Singapore website.

He purposely kept me in suspense and did not want to reveal what the website is about.

Well, I found out when I checked out his website later. Dennis is a librarian! No wonder he knows so much about books.

Since Dennis had kept me in suspense to surprise me, I would also like to spring a surprise on you just for fun : )

Some hints though....there's a video clip on his website.

Enjoy your tour, folks!

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Serangoon Garden Sec Sch

The Reading Ambassadors from Serangoon Garden Secondary School were on stage on Sunday, 5 July from 7:00 am to 1:00 pm for the "Reading Marathon 2009" at NLB.

Led by Teacher-in-Charge Ms Sim Hui Hwang, Librarian Ms Chee Foo Lan and Adjunct Teacher Ms Tan Sha, the 7 student participants spent 6 weeks during the mid-year school holidays to practise for the event as part of the school's library program.

The students are also members of the school's Reading Club.

Two of them, Koh Jin Cheng and Tan Zhi Wei, both 16 years-old and currently attending Sec 5 in the school, are grateful to the teachers for encouraging them to join the reading program and to participate in the reading marathon.

It offers them the opportunity to read aloud in public...something they cannot normally do as people may think that they are crazy; or report them to the police for being a public nuisance.

This is the first time that they have read aloud in public and it is a learning experience which helped them to overcome nervousness and "stage fright", become more confident in themselves and improve their spoken English. Most important of all, they have picked up the habit of reading and would visit the libraries more frequently. Besides their own school library, the Cheng San and Bishan branch libraries are located near their school.

The NLB Mobile library also visit the school every semester to showcase new books for them to choose. There is a wide range of book titles to cater to their quest for knowledge and recreation. The books are delivered right to their school's doorsteps for the convenience of those who have never stepped into a public library before.

In the past, people have to travel long distances to get to a public library.

Nowadays, there is always a public library near you!

Whilst Jin Cheng enjoys reading adventure stories, including Harry Potter; Zhi Wei prefer to read detective and ghost stories. They admitted that they spent most of their free time playing computer games.

However, they now realise that reading books can be just as fun. Reading for knowledge will also help them in their studies and research for school projects.

At home, they can also read aloud. Its okay as long as they do not disturb their neighbours. Its not against the law :)

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Jul 4, 2009

Reading Marathon 2009

The "Reading Marathon 2009" at The Plaza, National Library Building

Picture shows Jeremiah Ng from Marsiling CCC reading aloud from "A 4th Course of Chicken Soup for the Soul".

The "Reading Marathon 2009" was launched on Friday,3 July at 1:00 pm by Dr N. Varaprasad, Chief Executive of the National Library Board. It will continue non-stop round-the-clock until the marathon ends at 1:00 pm on Thursday, 9 July.

The Reading Ambassadors who participate in the Reading Marathon are from:

1. ITE West Ang Mo Kio
2. Orchid Park Secondary School
3. SCOGA-Cybersports & Online Gaming Association (Singapore)
4. Nee Soon South CCMC
5. Bishan CCWEC Bishan RC Zone 5
6. Marsiling CCC
7. Society for Reading and Literacy
8. National Arts Council
9. Serangoon Garden Secondary School
10. Wheels of Knowledge & Friends
11. Chua Chu Kang CCMC
12. Raffles Institution
13. India Se
14. Orchid Park Secondary School
15. Tamil Reading Club
16. National Library Board Reading Team
17. Geylang Serai Toastmasters Club
18. Hwa Yi Secondary School
19. Bukit View Secondary School
20. Taxi Sifu Reading Club
21. Senior's Chinese Reading Club, NLB
22. ITE West Dover
23. Malay Reading Club
24. PANPAC Education

For more information, please visit

During the 7-day marathon event, the stage at the Events Plaza, National Library Building became a platform for reading enthusiasts who share their joy of reading.

It is organized by the National Library Board as one of the activities of "READ! Singapore" to nurture a Nation of Readers.

"Reading Marathon 2009" aspires to complete 144 hours of continuous reading aloud of fiction stories in the 4 official languages of Singapore.

On Tuesday, 7 July, members from the "Taxi Sifu Reading Club" will be reading aloud on stage from 7:00 pm to 1:00 am.

If you have time in the evening, please do drop in at the NLB Events Plaza to listen to a good read by members of the club. Its ok to skip your chill session at Starbuck or time for a Tiger once in a while :)

Who says Singaporean cabbies can't read or don't read? Let the "Taxi Sifu Reading Club" members prove you wrong. You will be surprised by the intellectual stuff they learn from reading, supported strongly by the National Library. Please give them your encouragement, motivate them and spur them on to "Carry On Reading".

The following is an introduction of the club published in the pamphlets distributed at the event:


A Short Ride to a Good Read

"For taxi driver Mr Tan Seng Lee, the road to a lifelong habit of reading is a literal one, in the route he takes to reach the Ang Mo Kio Community Library.

There, the Taxi Sifu Reading Club gathers every month to talk about the latest book they have read, in two enriching hours that the drivers reckon to be well worth the $60 or so in forgone earnings.

Cabbies as well as hairstylists, beauticians, nurses, healthcare officers, grassroots leaders, civil servants and housewives are among the many Singapore who have rediscovered the joy of fiction through READ! Singapore. Launched in 2005 by the National Library Board (NLB), this initiative aims to promote a culture of reading across all walks of life.

Adapted from successful reading campaigns in Australia and the US, READ! Singapore is at heart a grassroots-centred programme bringing people together in settings that encourage friendly sharing and stimulating exchanges.


According to Mr Jeremiah Ng, an active Reading Ambassador from Marsiling CCC who read a chapter from the book "A 4th Course of Chicken Soup for the Soul" during his team's presentation. He is a fan of the "Chicken Soup for the Soul" series.

The true stories in "Chicken Soup for the Soul" are told by those who share their life experiences and lessons; which will inspire and motivate readers who may, at one time or another, encounter similar experiences as we tread the path on this journey we call "Life". He mentioned that elderly people tend to dwell more on 'reflections of their life through the various stages from childhood to old age'. How insightful an observation. He must have taken lots of chicken soup to nourish his soul :)

The "Reading Marathon 2009" is yet another national event which will place the "Little Red Dot" in the "Singapore Book of Records"!

Read On, Singapore!

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