Saturday, February 28, 2009

Goujian, King of YUE

Goujian was the King of Yue State in the late Spring and Autumn Period. He was said to be the descendant of Yu the Great.
In 496 BC, King Goujian defeated the Wu army and King Helu of Wu died of injuries sustained in the battle.
In 495 BC, King Goujian launched another attack against the Wu State. The two armies engaged in fierce fighting in Fujiao Mountain (present-day southwestern Wuxian County of Jiangsu). The Yue army suffered a crushing defeat and retreated to Huiji Mountain (present-day south of Shaoxing in Zhejiang). King Goujian adopted advisor Fan Li's stratagem by negotiating peace and submitting himself to the rule of the Wu State in an attempt to retain the strength of Yue.
After returning to the Yue State, King Goujian went through some self-inflicted hardships by sleeping on sticks and forcing himself to taste bile. That way, he could remember his humiliations while serving under the State of Wu. He also put Fan Li, Wen Zhong and other talent in important positions to help him reform domestic affairs and build up strength.
Later, while King Fu Chai of Wu was vying for hegemony in the north and his state power was weakening, King Goujian launched a surprise attack against the State of Wu and killed the crown prince of Wu. He wiped out the Wu State in 473 BC.
Shortly afterwards, King Goujian pushed his troops northward by boat, with Song, Zheng, Lu, Wei and other states submitting to his rule. He relocated his capital to Langya (present-day south of Jiaonan in Shandong), forming alliances with vassal states such as Qi and Jin. In the end, King Goujian’s hegemony status was officially recognized by King Yuan of Zhou.

Fu Chai...King of WU

King of Wu, Fu Chai, was the second son of King Helu of Wu in the Spring and Autumn Period. Within the same year of ascending the throne, Fu Chai followed the will of his father, who was defeated by King Goujian of Yue, by appointing Bo Pi as Chief Advisor, who was charged with the responsibility of training the army with veteran general Wu Zixu. Fu Chai made the appointment in an attempt to avenge on the State of Yue.
In 494 BC, King Fu Chai put the Yue army to rout in Fujiao and captured the Yue capital Kuaiji (present-day Shaoxing of Zhejiang), compelling the submission of the Yue State to Wu. In 486 BC, King Fu Chai built Canal Han, connecting the Yangtze and Huaihe Rivers. Thus, a waterway leading to the Song and Lu states was opened, making it possible for Fu Chai to push his troops into the Central Plains.
Later, the Wu army defeated the Qi State in Ailing (present-day Tai'an of Shandong). In 482 BC, King Fu Chai achieved the hegemony status over all other states in the vassals' meeting in Huangchi (present-day southwestern Fengqiu of Henan).
The battles for years running led to the weakening of national power. While the elites of the Wu State were away for the Huangchi meeting, only the crown prince and old and weak officials were left behind in charge of the state, providing a good chance for the Yue State. In 473 BC, King Goujian of Yue led his troops to attack the Wu State, which was wiped out in the battle. King Fu Chai killed himself.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Goujian Sword and Fu Chai Spear

In my previous post about the Sword of Goujian and the Spear of Fu Chai, I had mentioned that there will be more updates and photos on the subject of these two treasured artifacts from ancient China. In this and the next few posts I intend to do just that.

To recapitulate, both of the actual artifacts can be viewed at the Hubei Provincial Museum in Wuhan.

Please refer to my earlier post for details of the museum display etc.

This is the famous Sword of Goujian which is more than 2500 years old. Despite the age, the sword is still gleaming and is very sharp.

There is an interesting story of how this particular sword came to be made for King Goujian. But I shall probably cover that in another post.

This is the reputed spear of King Fu Chai of Wu Kingdom who reigned from 495 BC to 473 BC. His father was King Helu who died from injuries he received in a battle against Goujian's Yue forces.

The spear has Fu Chai's name crafted on it.
It existed at the same time as the Sword of Goujian..making it more than 2500 years old too.
If you look closely at the mid section of the spear head, you can clearly see the groove running from the tip to the base of the head. This is what was known as a " blood groove...for the the blood of the victim to flow out after he has been speared.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Manchester Utd vs Inter Milan...Stalemate!

So Arsene Wenger's prediction has not come true. He predicted that all 3 English teams would be victorious against their Italian counterparts.
Early this morning( S'pore time ), Man Utd drew 0-0 with host Inter Milan while Arsenal beat visitors Roma 1-0. Later tonight, Chelsea will host Juventus.
Before the Man Utd game, star striker for Inter Zlatan Ibrahimovic declared that he was anytime a better player than Berbatov and Wayne Rooney combined. Luckily he did not compare himself with C Ronaldo...the World Player of the Year.
If it was up to me to decide who the top player of each side was after the would have to be Ronaldo for Man Utd and Julio Cesar the goalkeeper for Inter Milan.
Both were in top form. Without a doubt, it was J Cesar who saved the day for Inter and prevented a massacre. Man U was in terrific form even though no goals were scored.
And Ibrahimmovic? I think it was his cousin who turned up...a pale shadow, only one shot at goal which went the way of the crowd in all 93 minutes!
And Adriano..the once deadly Brazillian hitman?
He had his gun but his bullets were rusty and crooked.
So what will happen in the return leg in 2 week's time at Old Trafford?
Anything can happen. If Inter can score a goal then Man U will need to score 2 to go through.
If it ends in a 1-1 draw then Man U will be out on the away goals rule.

Photos from the D Mail.
Top: Ryan Giggs shoots but his shot
was saved by keeper Cesar.
Centre and Bottom:
Adriano found Rio Ferdinand a real stumbling block in the heart of United defence.

European Soccer..England 3 Italy 0 ?

It is now 12.45 am Singapore time. In a little over 3 hours an unusual encounter is taking place in European soccer. By the luck of the draw and by their own superb qualifications, 3 top English teams from the EPL will be meeting their rivals who happen to be the 3 top Italian teams from the Serie A.

The 3 match ups are:-
Manchester Utd vs Inter Milan
Arsenal vs Roma
Chelsea vs Juventus
Arsene Wenger, the Manager of Arsenal has predicted that all 3 English sides will beat their Italian counterparts. History is on the side of the English clubs....mostly.
But, as they say the ball is round and anything can happen. Let's wait and see. I shall be catching the games Live.
Photo: Arsene Wenger, Ronaldo, Lampard, Van Persie

The team from Man United training at the San Siro in Italy yesterday.

Manchester Utd has met Inter Milan in the 1999 season.
Results: Man Utd won 1 and drew 1.
Here is the photo from 1999 when Paul Scholes scored the equaliser with just 2 minutes remaining on the leave Inter shell-shocked, knocking them out in that quarter-final 2nd leg match in Italy.
United won the 1st home leg.
In that terrific year, they went on to beat Juventus in the Semi-final and captured the European Cup for the 1st time after beating Bayer Munich in that unforgetable grand the dying moments of the game. That game will be forever remembered by me and others as probably Man Utd's finest hour.

Eric Cantona...Manchester United Legend

One football player I can never forget is Eric Cantona of Manchester United. To hordes of Manchester Utd die-hard fans around the world who are old enough to have seen him in action..he is the top Legend of the club. And mind you, Man Utd have had some of the most illustrious names of the best players in football. Yet, one man stands out. For everything he stood for, for his sublime skills and coolness, his leadership, his courage and for just being himself..there is none but Eric Cantona. I just came across a report from the net that will interest admirers of Cantona. Here is the report.


Manchester United legend Eric Cantona has reiterated his desire to manage the Red Devils in the future.
The former Leeds striker inspired United to win their first league title in 26 years in 1993, beginning a decade of Premier League dominance at Old Trafford.
And, more than 10 years since he shocked United supporters with his decision to quit the game, he confirmed he now wants to return to the club as manager.
It is not the first time Cantona has stated his intention to coach United and he told French TV station Canal+: "I don't know if I am right, but as a coach I have convictions.
"I would like to coach Manchester United. I claim I have to work with great players. Have a look at (Diego) Maradona.
"As a club coach he got two wins in 25 matches. As Argentina coach, there is a big difference and the results have changed."

Below is a link to a VIDEO showing the Top 10 Goals of Eric Cantona's playing career.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Incredible GigaPan Epic Camera

A unique robotic camera mount, the GigaPan Epic works with most point and shoot cameras to create multi-gigapixel panoramas. The GigaPan Epic makes it easy to capture incredibly detailed images and works seamlessly with the GigaPan Stitcher and The Epic allows your camera to take tens, hundreds, or even thousands of photos. These images are combined into a single gigapixel panorama by the GigaPan Stitcher. You can then view, share, and explore the incredible detail of your panoramas at Simply attach your camera to it, then the Epic directs you through the steps to capture a gigapixel image. You set the upper left and lower right corners of your panorama, then the Epic works out how many photos your camera will need to take, hundredA unique robotic camera mount, the GigaPan Epic works with most point and shoot cameras to create multi-gigapixel panoramas.
To see this incredible technology at work click on the link. I have a previous post on this a week ago.

Monday, February 23, 2009

A Tribute to those who came forward!

Here is a photo of another fan who came forward to request for "country and western" songs.

I warmly welcomed him..his name is Barney.., to join us at the Mic.
When we later had a break, he took out his name card and handed it to me.
He told me he simply love the old time favourites, especially country songs.

Another who came forward was Mona and Tang Wing Kee, my 2 fellow Active Ager Award winners 2008. Mona could not resist singing some of her favourites with us!

We had generated so much fun, spirit and camaradie among the seniors and oldies that day.

La Bamba !

During the 2nd Day Performance at the 50+ Expo, Suntec City, we had different people from the crowd who came forward enthusiastically to sing with us.
Some requested for songs that are easy to play and to sing as well. But others were obviously a little more sophisticated.
Like this gentleman here..he was singing and grooving so much that he eventually came up to me and asked if we could play " La Bamba".
I told him, " No problem. You sing and we'll play for you. "
He was very particular about the starting key and once I worked that out ...he was a revealation. He got the crowd really worked up with his oomphs and gyrations. They asked for more and so we launched into a few latin numbers. We ended with "Speedy Gonzalez"...and "Moose" ( that may be his nickname) was terrific!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Most Incredible Photo Technology !

This is the MOST AMAZING picture.........
Click on the link at the bottom to open picture.
The control for the picture is in the upper left. Press the + sign to zoom in, or the arrows to move right, left, up or down. If the picture looks fuzzy give it a second to clarify. This is a remarkable panorama of the inauguration. It might not work well with a dial-up modem, but you can actually focus in on faces near the back of the crowd- nearly 1/2 mile!

For fun, focus on Obama (center stage then look behind him). There's Clarence Thomas seemingly asleep, Dick Cheney in his wheelchair, Clinton, Gore, Bush and even Dan Quayle! Scalia is sitting there looking like the Grand Inquisitor. The clarity is amazing!
The technology is truly amazing- and it's un-classified!
Imagine what our spy agencies can see with classified technology!!!

Monday, February 16, 2009

The Best Senior Footballer in the world!

I have been
been an avid fan of football for as long as I can remember and that is more than half a century of following, not the soccer ball , but the players who can do wonders with the ball. And there have been many over the years who have impressed.
One such wizard is current soccer magician par excellence...RYAN GIGGS of Manchester United.
Last Sunday night I was watching the game between Man Utd and West Ham "live". It was a very open game with fluid passing and many attacking moves by both sides. The 1st half was goalless. When the 2nd half resumed, I remember thinking to myself...this is the kind of game that will likely need an individual performing a brilliant solo move to end the stalemate.
That wish of mine came true in the 62nd minute of the game.
Paul Scholes, another of the fabulous oldies of Man Utd, got the ball and sent a pin-point pass to Giggs who was lurking on the left wing. Giggs trapped and controlled the ball and instead of crossing the ball decided to go on a solo run.

What a stupendous run that was!

First, he approached the on-rushing Carlton Cole,
dummied to the left but went right. Then there was Scott Parker about to cut him down. Giggs dummied again to the left but went right again and there was a sea of players in front of the goal.
With his weaker right foot he unleashed a curling shot which beat everyone including the keeper Green. Man Utd won that game 1-0 and Giggs won every old timers heart, mine included!

The whole move, with not a single break in stride, was so smooth, so perfect, so sublime to watch...Poetry in Motion.
And that coming from a 35 year old player!
Right winger Rafael was only 8 months old when Giggs 1st played for Man Utd in 1991 against the b/w photo showed.

He seems to get better with age...just like good wine!
Last night, I stayed up to watch the magician again. Though he did not score any goal, his control and contribution and assists were instrumental in Man Utd beating Derby 4-1 in the FA match. And he was a joy to watch.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Kampong Kembangan English Sing Along Group

A fortnight ago, I received a call from my good ole' friend Tan Thoo Yang who was a member of S'g Gardens 1st Sing Singapore Champion Team 1988... a 40 strong member group led by me.
It has been more than 2 decades since that historic occasion which was televised live on TV and splashed on the front pages of our newspapers back then.
Thoo Yang told me that he is the leader of the Kampong Kembangan Senior Citizens English Sing-along Group for many years now. They meet up every Friday from 1-3 pm for this purpose. Music accompaniment is provided by him on guitar but as he is now 85 years old ( incredible...he is still driving a car around! ), he finds it a little more difficult to play the guitar as smoothly as before. He was just wondering if I can accept his invitation to join them as a guest musician.
Well, I went out of my normal routine yesterday and accepted the invite. Thoo Yang picked me up at our rendezvous point and what a revealation that was to me personally. Here is an 85 year old, mind you and still able to drive properly, carefully at the correct speed...with no problems as I saw it. Yes, all the way in heavy traffic from Sg Gardens to Kg Kembangan!

Hats of to you.... Tan Thoo Yang!

The singing group is about 20 strong but only half the number was present.
Too Young had his guitar along which was badly out of tune as the tuning knobs were loose. I spent some time to fix the problem and retuned it perfectly.
I had my 2 ukuleles with me...something this group had not had before.

By 12.20 pm, I had started strumming and singing without any song sheets, knowing full well the early birds will join in easily. That set the tone and mood and the session hit off very well as we sang the songs from the compilation they had and from my "special" songbook as well. I played both the guitar and the ukulele depending on the song type. At the end of the session, I was truly amazed when the very last song they sang was "Majulah Singapura", our National Anthem! And they sang it all standing up. This was something new to me...never seen, never happened in other groups I knew.
There is a reason for that. I shall cover it in my next post.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

SILVER BLOG Contest...the Winner!

The results for the SILVER BLOG CONTEST is out. The Blogging contest was organised under INFOCOMM 123 portal to encourage seniors who are relatively new to IT and blogging to try their hand at this activity.

Started in November 2008 and ended in December the same year.

You can read all the entries by clicking at the Infocomm 123 widget and check them out under the Silver Blog Section.

Recently, unk Dicko was given the honour of presenting the prizes to the eventual winner Mr Ong Kok Wah, who won for himself a big screen TV set. His 25 year old son, Mr Ong Guan Hong who nominated him, received a valuable IT prize too.

Photo: Chase Ng, Marketing Manager of Atomz..,
announcing the results officially and interviewing the winner.


The Ong family being warmly congratulated by me.

Presenting the Big prize to the SILVER BLOG winner...Mr Ong Kok Wah.

The Prize and the winner!

Mr Ong Guan Hong holding his prize while Mr and Mrs Ong looks on.

Before the presentation ceremony, I had time to chat with the family. Ong Kok Wah, 69 has had a stroke which still slightly affects his hand movements. He speaks mostly Mandarin and his blogposts were translated into English by his loving son. His wife told me she too has started blogging...and son Guan Hong has his own blog too.
How nice! This is a blogging family.
My warmest Congratulations to the Ong family!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Let's Sing Another Song !

When I was still a Primary school kid in Geylang English School back in the 1950's ...I remember a song I love very much. It was not from the radio that I learnt it from. It was a song I picked up during my very early scouting days by chance. It was not normally sung at campfires so that's why nobody knows it today. However, we used to sing it when we went camping...especially by the sea.
The reason I am recalling this song is the feeling I felt that day when Suhaimi came to sing with us. It was such a lovely feeling similar to the lyrics of this long-forgotten song called,
" Let's Sing Another Song ".
The full lyrics as I remember it....

Let's sing another song
Before you leave me

We are having so much fun
Parting grieves me
There goes our voice again
Everything is fun
Singing is so much fun
Let's have another one
Before we say goodbye.
Down by the seaside
That's the place we meet
Lot's of sailing and rowing
Everyone is happy
Only good fellows there
And when we're bound to say goodbye
We're sure to say goodnight!
So, let's sing another song...

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

It's Keroncong time with Suhaimi Yusof !

Towards the later part of our 2nd Day's performance...celebrity actor and comedienne Suhaimi Yusof dropped over at our pavilion again. He had sung with us the day before and must have enjoyed himself so much he could not resist the sweet music coming from our performing area.
I was happy to welcome him back again!
With him around I decided to go "keroncong" with a medley of popular keroncong-style hits.

We had so much fun and laughter doing the well-known Rasa Sayang with him contributing a pantun here and there.

Here you see him truly singing away the blues!

He was a real funny chap, a real joker if I may say so. A terrific livewire for any party or to spice up things.

Suhaimi was truly a crowd favourite much like Gurmit Singh. And it was a privilege to have played for these two top stars.

Friday, February 6, 2009

How to enhance vintage photos.

I have tried to manually improve on the quality of the photo which was from my original 1969 Tahan files. The best result was still the picture shown above.

I can hardly make out the faces in the group and all the surrounding details like the rushing swirls of water, the craggy rocks and fauna cannot be seen in all its glory.

Of course, when the photo was first printed out 40 years ago on Kodak paper from a roll of Kodak was so crispy and sharp, lovely to look at.

Posted by Picasa But Picassa 3 has saved the situation for me. However, it requires much trying out and lots of forward and backward kind of patience. For those who have not done any editing is what you can do.
1. Download Picassa 3 programme.
2. Locate your photo and right click on it.
3. Choose edit and view with Picassa 3
4. Do manual cropping first.
5. Decide size of picture
6. Start manual adjustments of tone, light, hue, saturation, sharpness, effects, tuning etc...
7. You can even put captions or a personal "watermark" if you like.
8. Save it

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Working with old Photos

Here is another example of an edited photo using Picassa 3 enhancement options.

The original photo is yellowed and has a tinge of orange saturation making everything look dark and blurred.
You can see this photo at my Tahan Blogposts Feb and March 2008 archives.

Posted by Picasa The edited photo is so much clearer and sharper...and will even be suitable for publishing!

Enhancing very old photos

A few days ago, I decided to spend some time on the Picassa 3 programme that I had downloaded since last year in my computer system. When I do my blogs, I normally go to my photo files or albums, locate and select the relevant ones, edit, enlarge, crop ..before I upload to Blogger. I do all this on Microsfoft Picture editor which is generally ok.
However, Picassa 3 comes with more options and applications for picture enhancement especially for old, scratchy pictures. I tried out various options ...actually it is much like experimenting again. I realise now a lot depends on having a good eye for tone, contrast and perhaps even a touch of creativity!

Posted by Picasa In this taken from my Tahan blogs, the original pictures are obvious. Blurred, yellowed to the point of being crispy brown, they are representative of many of my old photos.
And the same pictures after I editted with Picassa Picture enahncement look far superior.
Clearer, sharper features and more balanced and natural in tone and colour.
And all this after just an initial attempt at this new programme.
The wonders of technology!

View From The Top

This was the scene in the early part of the performance from the top.
These very active and enthusiastic visitors came closer and closer to get in the action.
You can see the 3 of us on Ukuleles and we had the company of another 3 impromptu singers and dancers with us.
It was truly wonderful to entertain such an enthusiastic bunch of almost fan-like followers!

In fact a few had asked, " what is the name of your Group ?"
I told them just call us for the time being...the elderly uncles!