Work Life Balance

When it comes to work-life balance, I’m all for skewing it towards family. Even if I have to bring work on holiday and squeeze it in whenever there’s a time, I’ll do it.

But I also understand that there are situations, very sadly, where people who want to spend more time with their family are seen to be less “committed” to their work and to the cause of their respective companies. To these workmates and superiors of these people, I say to you, “you suck”.

There is a balance that can be struck, and as I see my son grow up before my eyes, I can tell you, I am happy I’m missing as little as possible of it. They grow up really quickly. Seriously quickly. Too quickly. I’m beginning to miss his baby-ness already.

This is why it is important to get as many people to take the Philips’ “+” project initiative survey – the more we know about attitudes, the easier it is for us to fix it.

The Philips + installation will be moving away from City Hall today, but you can still get free buttons from the new ones – there’s a choice of buttons you can pick to show what’s important to you.

More importantly, take the survey at http://bit.ly/sgpplus

Kai and I chose “Work Life Balance“. As far as he’s concerned (and he’s at the stage where he questions everything with a “why?”), it’s the only thing I need to take care of.

What Kind Of Life Do You Want?

Vacations are usually the times when you compare how small and expensive Singapore is, and how life is so, so much better on idyllic locales such as the one I’m spending time with my family at right now.

Instead of griping about how lousy Singapore is, however, I think it’s high time we thought of how to make it as good as the places we like visiting.

Instead of “waiting for gahmen” to do something, why not start being thought leaders, and think of how we can make this place awesome?

The survey at bit.ly/sgpplus is a small start – aimed at getting to know what Singaporeans think about their lives, their priorities. It’s a private initiative (not gahmen), and anybody also can join in.

There’s a choice of five initiatives at the end of the survey for you to choose from, and Philips will support the one with the most support and make it happen. It’s part of an initiative called The + Project by Philips, which has had great success in countries like Indonesia, where people have voted for useful improvements such as street lighting and better school equipment in the more remote villages.

That doesn’t mean your ideas are limited to those five, though – you can tweet with the hashtag #sgplus, and we’ll be posting the more interesting ones right here and on twitter.

Switzerland Is Awesome, Pity About The Smoking

Switzerland was great except for one thing: the lax smoking laws which meant people smoked almost anywhere they liked. With the exception of the airport, the air quality in the great Swiss outdoors was marred by second hand smoke, comparable sadly, to the streets of Chinese cities.

Otherwise, we had a really good time in Lucerne and Zurich. They’re such kid/family friendly places. The hotel we stayed at in Lucerne even prepared a kids’ bath kit with a Kai sized robe when they received our booking.

Plus, the fact that you can have a kid in a pram and make your way up 2100m above sea-level for lunch on top of a mountain overlooking most of the country speaks volumes of accessibility.

Our picks of this trip:

1. The Swiss Transport Museum, Lucerne
2. Mount Pilatus
3. The Glacier Museum, Lucerne
4. Carl Franz Weber’s Toy Museum, Zürich
5. The National Museum of Switzerland, Zürich
6. Viadukt Market Hall, Zürich
7. Chocolate shops in the Lindenhof neighborhood, Zürich

The other thing of note is that Swiss food is harder to come by than you think. ‘Fleeced’ might be a bit harsh to describe how we felt after the first few meals in Switzerland, with the main culprits being the scores of restaurants on the shores of Lake Lucerne, but I now refer to these establishments as the ‘Boat Quay F&B outlets of Switzerland’.

We did manage to find two good places we enjoyed – the Wirsthaus Galliker – a family owned old style restaurant in Lucerne I read about on TripAdviser, and who took my calls on Sunday and Monday to tell me they were closed on those days; and a surprisingly good restaurant in Zürich called the ‘Restaurant zum Weissen Kreuz‘, which was a mere ten steps away from our hotel, and which we settled on because we were exhausted from walking.

The restaurant on top of Europe. 2100m Mount Pilatus.
It’s not everywhere you can ask your 3 year old, “How would you like to travel today? Boat, Train, Tram, Bus?” And be able to accommodate his choice.
Happiness is a carousel in the middle of town. Zürich FTW!

Make Bettr Coffee And Make The World A Bettr Place

The folks at Bettr Barista run a Bettr Barista Coffee Academy that helps disadvantaged women learn a trade (becoming a barista) with a holistic programme.

This week (15 – 18 September) they’re holding their inaugural Bettr Week, which comprises a series of workshops, fundraisers and a party that’ll allow you to go enjoy a Bettr cuppa, learn about coffee (and milk), and at the same time, give back to the community.

They’re also giving a 10% discount on all BettrBarista classes and items at their online shop this week. So go on and register for Bettr Week 2012 now!

My Friend Hossan Is A Freak

Last night Hossan’s family came to watch the show, and I had a chance to catch up with his aunties and uncles who’ve known us since we were kids.

An uncle reminded me how naughty or silly we were when we were in school, and how the silly ones – the boys who got kicked out of school or had to repeat a year or two were the ones who are happiest at what they are doing now. I told him I was very, very fortunate because those formative years laid the foundation of a viable career based on being silly.

Then Hossan’s mum told me something about how one afternoon after school, while helping out at the family’s florist shop, he had quite idly gathered a bunch of unwanted flowers and leaves which was destined for the rubbish bin and made an arrangement out of it. No biggie, except someone actually bought the arrangement.

Hossan just has a knack of picking things up and turning them into something people want, or want to watch. Just [spoiler alert] look at how he’s mastered pole-dancing in under a month!

I’m so chuffed to have such a freakishly talented friend, and it’s such a bonus to be working with him. I don’t know who else can sing, dance, tell jokes and play the piano for an hour and a half and keep everyone entertained as well as he can.

So if you haven’t already watched The Hossan Leong Show: Flying Solo, I urge you to get your tickets and witness this amazing performer. This is the last Hossan Leong Show for now, and I’m not sure if it’ll be reprised (or even if Hossan can muster the energy to do this one-man comedy sprint again).