Friday, 29 March 2013

The incompetent TV guy

I had wanted to blog about the TV-setup guy the first day he brought the TV in.

In a nutshell, he was incompetent and lost his temper at me.

It started with him not being able to hook up the TV and the home entertainment system and my existing LG DVD player after more than half an hour. When I explained to him nicely that I had contacted the salesperson in charge and he would send another man down, and that I was not going to sign the invoice until the next guy from Harvey Norman fix it for me, he lost his temper and walked to my platform, refusing to speak to me.

Then he dashed out of the house with his partner and left in a huff.

Some ridiculous things he told me during his futile attempts at hooking up the TV and the devices:

1) LG DVD players cannot connect to Sony TVs.

2) Old DVD players cannot connect to new TVs.

3) Sound cannot emit from the home entertainment system when you switch the TV on. If you switch the TV on, sound will come from TV. If you play DVDs with the blu-ray player, then sound can come from the home entertainment system.

4) You can ask the Sony people to come down and teach you how to use the Sony TV.

I told the salesperson about my experience with this guy and he urged me to write in to complain about him as they 'cannot do anything about it unless customers write in to complain'. Apparently, I am not the first customer to complain about him.

I am not sure if I should add to the list of disgruntled customers. If I do that, will I be the catalyst that hastens his termination?

He reminded me of a boy I used to teach at lower primary, whose ambition was to be a gangster. Teachers and the school counsellor termed him as 'the boy with no moral'. It sounds harsh and unfeeling especially when these people are supposed to be the architects of human souls, but until you teach that boy, you should reserve your judgment and comments.

Such boys don't study, don't give a shit to teachers and school and are more interested in girls with big breasts and sex even when they are in primary school. They might make it to Normal (Technical) stream at secondary schools, and eventually end up at ITE. They continue to make life a living hell for teachers until they pass out from ITE. They make ignorant girls pregnant and start looking for a job. If they really do look hard for a job, reality would dawn upon them that ITE graduates do not command very high salary.

When they finally found a job, they get bitter and angry that their pay is not high, despite working hard (compared to when they went to school) by their definition.

And they are not competent in what they do, like the TV guy. When they can't do their job, they cook up convenient lies like how they did when they were in school. They had thought that they could get away easily with a simple lie when they didn't bring their books, didn't do homework, late for class, skip classes, stole money, fought with classmates or schoolmates ...

They thought that teachers are fools who believe them blindly.

And they thought that the adult world is just like that - full of fools who let them get away with what they do.

They don't realise that the society is very unforgiving towards incompetence and laziness.

By the time they do, it is all too late.

By then, they would probably have a few kids. And their kids stay home and play instead of going to school because they don't have money to send their kids to school.

And they create another set of problems for teachers.

Retribution time.

I think about whether I should let the matter rest, or whether I should have my game now as a customer. Yeah, when you have been tormented ceaselessly by someone, it's hard not to think that revenge is sweet. I know he is not the boy/s who tortured me, but he must have given his teachers a hard time when he was in school.

New King!

It has been more than a week since the new TV arrived.

Like a child, I was very excited to await the arrival of my new, big TV. I Before I cleared the space for it to sit on its 'throne', the sentimental me decided to take some pictures of my old, matrimonial TV (a couple's new flat is called 'matrimonial home', right?) before letting it go.

 My cluttered console with my 29-inch CRT

 Clearing the space for the new king

 In my excitement, I wanted to visualise how much space the new TV would take up

 Here it comes - the huge, huge box!

 The new king, seated on his stately throne

Bought a 5.1 home entertainment system with the TV


At $3650, the TV isn't the cheapest around. I read on hardwarezone forum that Best Denki Takashimaya is selling it at $3599 (arghhh ...!), but well, I have bought it so no point lamenting getting 'cheated' by Harvey Norman.

At about 9 or 10 feet distance, the TV feels just right. In fact, as days go by, I thought perhaps we could do with an even bigger TV. After a while, it just seems to feel not-that-big.

I was trying to decide between this TV and Samsung 55" ES 8000M. I love the sleek and borderless look of Samsung. The thin, metal bezel with the glowing 'Samsung' logo at the bottom of the bezel really looks enticing. And 3D images are positively better on Samsung.

However, the salesmen at Courts and Harvey Norman were adamant about the superiority of Sony:

1) HX955 is the newest Sony model while Samsung's ES 8000 is one week short of being replaced by the new F series, and thus the cheap pricing now ($3399).

2) Sony's black is real black while Samsung portrays black as grey.

3) There is (slightly) more depth on Sony images than Samsung's.

4) Sony displays better skin tone than Samsung. Images are more 'real' compared to Samsung's vivid colour depiction.

5) Sony has the least number of customers asking for repairs.

I used to love very vivid colours on still images, but I must say I have doubts about how sustainable moving vivid coloured images would be on the eyes.

I feel that vividness of colours enhances a still image, but it may feel artificial on moving images.

Although Samsung's 3D rendition is evidently superior to Sony's, I would be watching Standard Definition programmes most of the time. 3D would be something that we probably do in the name of novelty.

If the statistics in hardwarezone forum is anything to go by, I would say Samsung TVs see quite a high number of customers complaining about them going kaput, with or without warning, usually right after the 3-year warranty, as if the capacitors in the TVs are programmed to blow after 3 years. But such incidents don't seem to happen with customers who have bought the extended warranty.

I felt that if I were to buy a Samsung TV, I would purchase the extended warranty. However, if I buy a Sony TV, it is not likely that I would get one. I could use the money for the extended warranty on something else, like a home entertainment system.

The sales pitch had it that LCD TVs have inferior sound quality compared to CRT TVs, so people usually buy a set of systems to go with it.

I know the 'people usually buy a set of systems to go with it' is a pack of lies, but I requested to listen to the same set of music with and without the home entertainment system. I have to admit that there is a substantial, noticeable difference even for a non-sound, non-aural person like me. There is more depth, more fullness in the sound produced by a system.

I had wanted to get a stylish-looking sound bar to go with the TV for a clean look, but the blu-ray player that is in the home entertainment package is too good to forgo. On top of that, 'unless you get a $1.6k Yamaha 1000w soundbar, you would be better off not getting one".

So I stuck to the 5.1 system, with 5 speakers staring at me from the console.

But my Fish Leong CD now sounds so much better than when I played it on a DVD player!

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

So much for sisterhood

Recently, I seem to be under some quarrelsome star. I had an unhappy exchange with my sisters on watsapp a couple of days after my fight with my third and fifth sisters over my nephew.

It happened that my father had finally given his consent to have a scope done on his colon as he has been experiencing pains in that particular area for quite some time.

He was fed up with his experience at Khoo Teck Puat Hospital and didn't want to go to ANY doctor anymore.

KTP Hospital had expressed uncertainty and ambiguity over the red spots and patches on his skin, even after drawing his blood a few times for examination.

He had to go to the hospital for his follow-up visits for his cataract operation, and following that, the perceived skin problem.

Each time, consultation fee was paid, but sometimes, the consultation was not conclusive, and he had to return a week or two later for a new consultation, which may or may not be conclusive.

Eventually, he got fed up. Even when the hospital was quite sure that he had Lupus, a condition that may or may not attack the immune system, he said he was not going back anymore as 'all doctors are cheats!'

He didn't want to have a scope performed on him either as his god-brother 'had died after doing a scope'.

I managed to find a private specialist who managed to convince him to have a scope done.

So, the bill came, right?

I asked my third sister who had paid the bill first to split it among the siblings who wanted to pay.

The reason I did this is because some of my siblings are not gainfully employed for one reason or another, and they should not feel obliged to chip in.

But my third sister preferred to have anyone to pay any amount they like since it was not a major amount.

I watsapped in jest,"Wah, this amount is not major to you ah? We will all be very happy if you can absorb the amount."

She replied,"You spent your money on TV. I want to see how much you want to pay."

I was shocked that she said this.

I had just paid for a 55-inch LCD TV to replace my 29-inch 7-year-old CRT.

I asked,"Why can't I use my own money to buy something for my pleasure?"

My fifth sister said,"55-inch is too big."

My elder sister said,"55-inch is a luxury."

I was so angry that I rebutted them:

I am the only one who have lived with a CRT for the past 7 or 8 years.
All of them bought LCD TVs for themselves.
At the time when 32-inch was more common, my elder sister bought 2 LCD TVs, with one measuring at 37-inch.
My youngest sister had also just made a 55-inch TV purchase for her four-room flat. Why didn't anyone tell her off?

They all knew how thrifty I had lived. The underlying message in that watsapp episode was:

You have so much money to spare and contribute so little to our household.

Perhaps I have been too naive. I had candidly shared with my sisters about my monthly paycheque, my bonuses. I shared the information out of a grateful heart and wanted them to be happy and relieved that the stupidest child in the family also has a 出头日, that they don't have to be worried that I am leading a downtrodden life anymore.

Please don't be misled into thinking that my pay and bonus are really very fat. I am someone who is not ambitious. When I first started working, I was earning $1,200 (gross). When I knew that my manager was earning $4,000, I told myself I would work round the clock just to have that kind of pay.

For someone who had been through zero pay during the years she studied for a degree and struggled for weeks just to think about whether she should spend $10 on a home necessity, and got so stressed out over the lack of money that she suffered an immunity condition, I am someone who is very grateful for what I have.

I am disappointed with how my sisters see me.

It makes me realise that perhaps all this while, I was the only one who thought that they would be happy for me. They probably thought I was showing off to them!

We are sisters. Didn't they claim that we are close-knitted? Is this what you would think of your sister if we really are close?

Then it occurred to me that they have never disclosed their salaries or bonuses to me.

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Strangers are Better

Yesterday, I was at my parents' place.

When I saw how my brother-in-law punished my nephew who is taking PSLE this year, I spoke softly to my fifth sister on how he should not use army style to punish a child ie. by making him do a half-squat and stretching out his arms on a horizontal plane.

She said I was irritating and that I should tell my brother-in-law what I think if I so desire.

Tears were flowing down his cheeks as my nephew struggled to keep his arms horizontally placed and his trembling legs firm in a half-squat position.

So I stood up, went to my nephew and shielded him.

That was when the war erupted.

My fifth sister shouted at me and scolded me for interrupting the punishment.

I shouted back at her, saying that they themselves did not do their part as parents and put the blame on the child entirely.

She blurted,"Yes, yes! Your child go to prestige school! My child go to neighbourhood school! If you are so good, go and teach your students well and don't complain about them!"

I was stunned.

Is this what you have always thought about me?

My third sister shouted at me,"Don't make the punishment ineffective!"

And she said, after the episode,"If you are sooooo good, teach him yourself! Now I know why you have so many problems at work! You only think that your method is the best! You don't know how to work in a team!"

I was stunned, again.

Is this what my sisters have been thinking of me? Think a world of myself? Think that I am the best? Uncooperative? Unable to work with others?

I had mentioned in my private watsapp with my sisters that my students are so weak that Baby could count better than some of them and it is not likely that they could attain the required P3 standard.

Obviously, they read it as "I could not teach for nuts".

I had also confided in them how I found older single women generally more difficult to work with, and how the teacher-aid constantly overruled me in the classroom.

Obviously, they read it as "I could not work with others."

I had told them that my nephew did not do his work and bring his work when he came for William's tuition.

Obviously, they read it as "He is lazy and we cannot handle him."

I had thought that age would mature people. I had thought that sisters are meant for sharing.

This episode confirms my belief that strangers are better than friends, and sisters too! I am just disheartened that we can't even share our weaknesses with our own sisters.

I have never believe that there is one method that works with children. And I have always have doubts with my methods. I never for once thought that my methods are the best.

Just because Coco goes to our (and her, of course) school of choice does not mean that my method is the best, but it does mean that my method did get something into her brain, even if it was for those few months.

The most basic thing I know about coaching schoolwork is: you don't sit on the sofa and play with your phone while your child sits on the floor and do his work. Neither do you let a child look at a paper for 4 to 5 hours and then scold him for not completing it after 4 to 5 hours.

A paper is at most 1h 45min? I know that they had sent my father for a medical check-up that morning, but they didn't check on my nephew immediately after they returned. And upon seeing that he had not completed it, my brother-in-law punished him using the army style.

You would rather play Candy Crush and complain that it hangs on your phone than time your child or coach him doing Math. After that, you scold him for not finishing his work.

If he was not my nephew, if I don't view you as my family members, would I have even bothered?

My mother, my elder and third sisters and my brother said this,"He is somebody else's son!"

'Somebody else's son'. It is always easier to turn a blind eye to somebody else's son when you know he is on the road to get Bs or even Cs for PSLE. It is always easier to turn a blind eye to somebody else's son when the parents themselves can't be bothered with the son's studies.

Isn't he my nephew? Aren't you my sister? So you are 'somebody else' and he is 'somebody else's son' whom I shouldn't be bothered with?

If I didn't rescue him from the abortion table 12 years ago, I would not have bothered.

If I didn't want him to do well and go to a better school, I would not have bothered.

Since when did I compare Coco and his abilities?

Since when did I mention that Coco is better than he?

The only thing I would ackowledge, and remains true, is that Coco, being a girl, had a lot more stamina at sitting at a table. And that didn't come naturally.

It came with a lot of modeling and training, and our insistence and perseverance at sitting at the table with her. If we, as adults, can't even sit at a table for long hours, how can we expect a child to do that? If we ourselves hate doing the papers (even though we really do), how can we expect the child not get saturated after facing the papers for 4 or 5 hours?

I have always maintained that my nephew picked up reading earlier than Coco despite being younger. Isn't that an indication of his natural higher intelligence?

What have you done to him these years that he has fallen behind her?

Isn't that negligence on your part?

I am just so disappointed that even sisters can have such huge misgivings about my good intention.

It's true that I have a lot to say about my sister's upbringing of her kids, but I have always tried to restrain myself from criticising her parenting style. It's when my brother-in-law punishes my nephew using army style that causes me to interrupt.

I know it is not good for the kid to see me defending him while his parents punish, but how different am I from people who don't care when they see someone else's son being mistreated if I let it go?

I understand that beating him does not work (anymore). That is the result of beating him till the stick broke and hurling vulgarities at him since he was just four.

I am far from a perfect parent, but I do know the difference between a child and a soldier, and you should not impose a punishment fit for a recruit on your own son. Neither should you have got him so used to beatings that they don't work on him anymore when he is barely twelve.

The Contractor who was Not Meant To Be

After months of consideration, I had mentally shortlisted Alan from Alan Design to do up my bathrooms. His quotation was $2k above my budget, but he seemed sincere and had arranged to view his workmanship within a week I requested.

Incidentally, a few weeks ago, he smsed me to ask if my bathrooms had been renovated when I was just thinking about how to let him know that I would like to engage him for my bathrooms after considering for more than three months.

I thought it a sign that he was for me.

He came down to my place again to tend to my queries of whether I could install two rainshowers in the separate bathrooms, and to suggest designs that serve form and function eg. hollow blocks to hold shampoo and shower cream, where to place the rainshowers, what to do with the niche on the vanity cabinet.

Before he came down to my place, I had asked him via sms if he could start the renovation during the March holiday and when the toilet bowl could be installed (so that at least the toilet/s is/are in functional mode). He gave a date: 20 March. I was pleased.

Unfortunately, when he came down, he told me that the earliest that the toilet bowl could be installed would be the last day of the holiday ie. 24 March. And he would have to take a month to renovate two toilets. I struggled with myself for a while before I said yes to him. He did suggest that I renovate the bathrooms 3 months later, during the June holidays, but I said no.

After that, we arranged to view and select tiles for my bathrooms two days later. He said he would sms me to let me know his available time-slot.

I went out to buy a Grohe rainshower that weekend.

I waited, but he didn't contact me.

I went to look at the tiles on my own nonetheless. Even shortlisted a few tiles.

I waited for him to contact me again within the next following days to confirm if he was coming to hack my common toilet the Friday before the March holiday. I gave him the benefit of doubt that he would apply for a hacking permit for the toilet.

He didn't contact me. He didn't apply for a permit. Or perhaps he did. He just didn't contact me.

On the day the toilet hacking was scheduled, he called me at 5.30pm.

I didn't pick up the phone.

I didn't know what could be said. Obviously, he was not going to complete the hacking and tiling of my common toilet within the March holiday. I didn't want to listen to lame excuses.

I would not have the time or energy to monitor the renovation or clean-up after the March holiday, when school reopens.

I was reading up Renotalk Forum and realised why he was so lacklustre in his response. He has quite a few resale flate renovation projects under his belt.

I guess he doesn't need my business.

So the search for a contractor for my bathrooms starts again.

I am pissed that he wasted my time.

Renovation is somewhat like getting married. You need some impulse to do it. I wanted to do it while I have the impulse. You ask me to wait till June holidays. I may lose my enthusiasm and impulse to do it by then. If you can't do it, don't make promises. If you are not interested, don't waste my time.