Air-Conditioner · BTO HDB · Defect Checking · Life experiences · Renovation

BTO HDB – Split System Air-Conditioner Installation

After the long-awaited (4 years) and much anticipated collecting of the keys to my new BTO HDB (Build To Order Housing and Development Board) flat, I went to the nearest Singapore Power centre to set up my utilities account. I then brought 2 standing fans over to my new BTO HDB flat, and with those switched on, I started checking for defects on the tiles (floor and wall), the windows, the doors, the gate, the showers, the toilet bowls, the pipes, and listed them on the “Defects Feedback Form” and submitted it to the nearby Building Service Centre (BSC).

The market average to hire a “defect inspector” to check for defects within a BTO HDB is $300. Checking for defects & listing them all out is time-consuming, but definitely do-able to save $300.

After the defects were rectified, I started renovation works on my new BTO HDB flat. I invested time and effort into researching and comparing before deciding on an energy-efficient and quiet split system air-conditioner that has good after sales support. I chose the brand and model of air-conditioner, compared prices of the exact same brand and model I had short-listed, and learned the hard way that buying a split system air-conditioner is not simply about the lowest price for the brand and model.

2 weeks after the air-conditioner was installed, I noticed a difference in shade of colour on the newly painted wall in the areas right beside one of the air-conditioner units. Condensation from the “budget” piping and insulation materials used when installing the air-conditioners was causing water stains on the newly painted wall! I didn’t know that the difference in prices for the exact same brand and model was not mere profiteering, but had to do with the materials used when installing the air-conditioner.

None of the sellers of the air-conditioning system had informed me that: (1) With copper being the most expensive material in the air-conditioner installation, many installers use 23g Standard Wire Gauge (SWG) copper piping as the industry standard. SWG is an industrial term for copper thickness. The copper pipes carry the coolant gas between the outdoor unit (compressor) and the indoor units. 22g SWG copper pipes are better able to withstand high gas pressure, are more resistant to gas leaks, and ensure a longer lifespan of the air conditioner. (2) The thickness of the thermal insulation foam used around the copper pipes to prevent condensation issues from occurring range from 3mm (used to install my air-conditioner) to the recommended 3/8 inch (9.5mm). The insulation foam absorbs water formed due to condensation on the pipes. If water is not absorbed properly, “sweating” /leakage of the pipes will result. 

I ended up paying an additional $1100 to “upgrade” all the copper pipes and insulation. That was one full day’s work, followed by touching up of the painting works.

377A · Gay marriage · LGBT · Life experiences

India’s legalization of same-sex intercourse between consenting adults was a relic of the British Empire, yet it is still in place in dozens of ex-colonies, including Singapore

India’s legalization of same-sex intercourse between consenting adults was a relic of the British Empire, yet it is still in place in dozens of ex-colonies, including SingaporeIndia’s legalization of same-sex intercourse between consenting adults was a relic of the British Empire, yet it is still in place in dozens of ex-colonies, including Singapore

Yesterday, I started receiving requests to join online petitions against the repeal of the section 377A penal code, along with an anti-LGBT video with propaganda information from (I am sure) well-meaning friends.

FACT: Section 377A is a British colonial-era law that “a man found to have committed an act of “gross indecency” with another man could be jailed for up to two years”. The law does not apply to homosexual acts between women.

It is propaganda to “inform” others that if there is no law against sex between mutually consenting adult men, even when it is done in private, then: same sex marriage will be legalised and religious leaders who refuse to marry them will be arrested by the police. THE ISSUE OF GAY MARRIAGE ISN’T EVEN ON THE TABLE HERE. And religious leaders are not required by law to marry anyone and therefore will not be arrested by the police for refusing to marry them.Singapore is a secular state. The neutrality of the secular state to the different religions, beliefs and cultures should protect all communities, especially minorities, from being suppressed by the majority religious community. No religion, directly or indirectly, should take over the national agenda.

The repeal of the section 377A penal code is literally about decriminalising sex between mutually consenting adult men in the privacy of their own space. Not about sex in public. Not about Singaporean heterosexuals having to “pay a price”. Not about Singaporean children being forcibly taught in schools that homosexuality is normal. Not about public toilets being changed from “Ladies” and “Gents” so “any man or woman can go to the toilet your child is in. And you won’t be able to stop them”. Not about it becoming a “crime” to say that homosexuality is wrong. Not even about homosexuality becoming normalised in Singapore.

Let it not be a CRIME, let no one be ARRESTED, let consensual private intimacy and love between ADULTS be legal.

Life experiences

Crêpes – authentic sweet French crêpes

Now you can cook your very own crispy, thin, delicious French Crêpes!

Maison Travers

6A100050-88F4-45E3-90AA-0EB2BC897D760e95a6f0-f9fc-4201-8603-44508be32b8d.jpegCrêpes – what can be more of a french classic, and so very versatile too as they can served sweet or savoury?  These are authentic sweet french crêpes as one finds all over France, very thin and slightly crispy.  Fill them with jam, nutella, sugar, cinnamon, fruit, or a combination of the above. one of my favourites is nutella, banana and crème chantilly. Yum! I am getting hungry even thinking about it. The savoury version traditionally uses buckwheat flour and is often called a galette. That will be another post.

Note: If you are using whole milk, then use the water and milk combination. If you are using low fat milk, you can use all milk if you wish.

Ingredients:

  • 125 ml / 1/2 cup cold milk
  • 125 ml / 1/2 cup water, preferably cold
  • 2 eggs
  • 100 g / (3/4 cup +1 T) flour
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • ½ teaspoon…

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Baggage · Delayed Luggage · Life experiences · Travel tips

Delayed, Missing, Lost Checked-in Baggage When On Vacation

I know it happens. I know checked-in baggage may become damaged, delayed or lost. I’ve been so aware of it that I always pack an extra set of clothes in my carry-on bag just in case. Yet, when I arrive at my destination, I’ve always finally found my checked-in bags on the announced carousel.

3 weeks ago, after flying for over 8,000 miles / 14,000 km, I watched as the last luggage on the carousel was removed, and was in disbelief, puzzled, confused – I CAN’T FIND MY 2 CHECK-IN BAGS! And I need them!!

I started walking around, looking among the bags that had been lifted off and placed by the side of the carousel. An airport security officer approached me and asked if there was a problem. Now, thinking back, I guess he was more concerned that I might have been attempting to steal an unclaimed bag. But, at that time, I was relieved he had approached me. I explained that I was still waiting for my checked-in bags, and since all the other passengers on the same flight I was on had left, I was starting to worry that my bags may not be showing up.

He alerted the ground staff from the airline I’d travelled on, and two representatives from the airline showed up and asked for my baggage tags. Even though they’d asked me for a description of my bags and I’d done that, they still checked the bag tags on bags by the side of the carousel that were of different colours, size and type. A third ground staff from the airline showed up with a list of all the checked bags on my flight, checked my bag tags against each and every page, then gave me the bad news that my bags had not been loaded and were most likely still at the airport in Taiwan.

My response, “No way! NO WAY!”

One of the ground staff informed me that their airline had one more Taiwan to Los Angeles sector flight that day already en route and scheduled to arrive in 7 hours. He assured me that my bags would be on that flight and that they would be delivered to me later that day. I felt much better knowing that I’d at least have my bags before bedtime.

He walked with me and showed me where the Baggage Service Counter was. I was given a Property Irregularity Report (PIR) to fill in. My baggage claim tags were stapled to the original copy and I was issued a duplicate copy with a personal reference number. After giving them a contact number where I could be reached while in the USA, I asked for an estimated time when my bags would be delivered to me. I was told that if I didn’t mind my luggage being delivered even if it was already past midnight, they’d include that instruction. I confirmed that they should go ahead and deliver my luggage even past midnight. There were essential items that I needed that weren’t allowed in my carry-on.

I waited that night, and the next day, and a second night, and another day, and a third night…

Each time I called the phone number to the Baggage Service Counter, I was informed that my luggage had been traced to a different location! They had been erroneously loaded on to an aircraft headed from Taiwan to the JFK International Airport. But, even though my luggage was already in the USA in New York, the airline did not operate domestic flights within the USA and so my luggage had to be flown from JFK International Airport back to Taiwan, then from Taiwan to Los Angeles.

Initially, I  was able to monitor my luggage via World Tracer tool using the file reference number indicated on my Property Irregularity Report (PIR). But after 48 hours, the whereabouts of my luggage did not continue to be updated. It was all very frustrating.

So much time was wasted on waiting, on having to make trips to various shops to buy essentials such as toiletries, underwear, change of clothes, on having to hand wash the very limited sets of clothing I had every day, on emailing the airline, on calling for updates, and on worrying. My luggage was finally delivered to me 69 hours after my flight landed at LAX.

And then I spent even more hours and days of my vacation time in the USA filing a mishandled baggage claim with the airline seeking reimbursement for the essential items I had to purchase while waiting for my delayed luggage. I uploaded receipts for each item. In response, the airline offered their daily limit of USD$30 per day. I learned from this experience that airlines, in general, have very limited liability with regards to delayed luggage. Lesson learned: Never skip buying travel insurance!

 

 

 

Delaying Surgery · Life experiences

Delaying Surgical Treatment

Against doctor’s advice, I delayed surgical treatment for the Carpal Tunnel Syndrome in my left hand and, then, delayed by even more years the surgical treatment for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome in my right hand. Why? Because a main nerve was involved. However low the risk is, Carpal Tunnel Release Surgery is not risk free.

The median nerve is one of three main nerves in the arm and travels from the forearm down through the carpal tunnel at the wrist and into the palm of the hand. The passageway through the wrist, called the carpal tunnel, is formed by the small wrist bones (carpals) on one side and the traverse carpal ligament (TCL) on the other. Reduction in the available space for the median nerve within the carpal tunnel causes pressure and compression on the median nerve, and this, in turn, causes the hand to feel discomfort in the form of paraesthesia (pins & needles), dull ache, tingling, numbness, and weakness.

I ignored the increasing frequency of paraesthesia in my hands. I shook my hands out more & more often. I rubbed my thumb, index and middle fingers together unintentionally, but habitually, I guess because they tingled. I started dropping things. My fingers felt clumsy when buttoning, and sometimes, I couldn’t grip to pick up small objects like paper clips and coins.

Still, I kept delaying surgical treatment to release the compression on my nerve. I tried physiotherapy hoping that it would alleviate the symptoms, but the symptoms continued to worsen. The neurologist who administered the Nerve Conduction Test stressed that the longer I waited to get the Carpal Tunnel Release Surgery done, the longer I’d be subjecting my median nerve to severe compression, and warned that when the nerve is compressed long enough, the muscle atrophies and the nerve damage becomes permanent.

By the time I finally had my first Carpal Tunnel Release Surgery on my left hand in 2014, I’d already experienced unknowingly dropping one out of three bags of groceries I was carrying in my left hand. The longer the nerve has been compressed, the longer the recovery takes. Most often, symptoms that result from compression of a nerve can be reversed. But when noticeable motor loss or severe sensory loss occurs, full recovery may not be realized. When the neurologist administered a second Nerve Conduction Test in 2018, 4 years after I had the Carpal Tunnel Release Surgery on my left hand, it showed only moderate improvement.

In my mind, waiting until it couldn’t wait any longer was the only way to go for “elective” surgeries that carried a risk of accidental laceration or severance of a main nerve resulting in poorer or complete loss of function in the hand. However “simple” the Carpal Tunnel Release Surgery is, the surgeon has to cut the transverse carpal ligament into two pieces. Care is taken to make sure that the median nerve and flexor tendons are out of the way and protected before the traverse carpal ligament is cut and pressure is taken off the median nerve. But, accidents and complications are very real possibilities.

I’m thankful that both Carpal Tunnel Release Surgeries went well. And, I am glad I waited.

Life experiences · One handed

Loss of Use of Dominant Hand

My memories of the Carpal Tunnel Release Surgery I had on my left hand in 2014 gave me reason to be concerned about managing the activities of daily living Post-Carpal Tunnel Release Surgery on my right, and dominant, hand.

I remember trying to twist the cap off my tube of toothpaste. If that was a challenge with the use of only my dominant right hand, I figured it’d be worth investing in a handy toothpaste dispenser:

One Handed Toothpaste dispenser

No batteries required. Very reasonably priced. Came with double sided mounting tape to attach it to the wall. After fitting the tube of toothpaste in, I pressed my toothbrush gently against the lever a few times and that triggered a vacuum suction that spread toothpaste neatly on the top of the toothbrush bristles!

 

I also remember mealtimes being challenging whenever there was a larger than bite-size piece of food. One week before the Carpal Tunnel Release Surgery on my right hand, I found out about the “spork”! Actually, the cutlery I ended up buying functions as a spoon, fork AND knife! And there’s even left-handed and right-handed options!!

Left-handed Fork + Spoon + Knife 1

Left Handed Fork + Spoon + Knife 2
Used as a knife
Left Handed Fork + Spoon + Knife 3
Used as a fork
Left handed Fork + Spoon + Knife 4
Used as a spoon

 

I feel very thankful to the inventors of such useful gadgets & gizmos. The inventor of this waterproof arm cover saved me the hassle of taping a plastic bag around my bandaged hand each time I took a shower:

Post-op waterproof cover

 

And showers have been aided by long-handled bath sponges that enable soaping of hard-to-reach-with-only-one-hand areas.

 

Carpal Tunnel Release Surgery · Life experiences · Orthopedic

Carpal Tunnel Release Surgery

Nerve Conduction Tests done in 2014 indicated that Carpal Tunnel Release surgeries were needed on both my left and right hand. Although there are some who have bravely had both hands operated on at the same time, I wasn’t comfortable with that. I “tried out” managing with one hand, my dominant right hand, by having my first Carpal Tunnel Release Surgery on my left hand in May, 2014. I had so little movement and so much pain at the incision site post-surgery, and it took so many weeks to regain strength and the ability to grip with my left hand that I put off having the second Carpal Tunnel Release Surgery on my right hand for 4 years!

But the compression had worsened symptoms to the point where I would be risking irreversible nerve damage if I continued to delay having the Carpal Tunnel Release Surgery. Even though the orthopaedic specialist who did the Carpal Tunnel Release Surgery on my left hand came highly recommended, I requested for a different orthopaedic specialist to operate on my right hand. Just 2 days after the Carpal Tunnel Release Surgery on my right hand was done by Dr Lim Yeow Wai at Raffles Hospital, I am 100% glad I chose to consult him.

While I had to stay overnight at Mount Alvernia Hospital after my first open Carpal Tunnel Release Surgery, my second open Carpal Tunnel Release Surgery was a Day Surgery and I was ready to go home within less then 5 hours post-surgery!

(1) 3 hours post-surgery 2104:

Carpal Tunnel Surgery 2014 1

 

(2) 3 hours post-surgery 2018:

Carpal Tunnel Surgery 2018 1

In both cases, there was significant swelling immediately post-surgery which is natural. Since my left arm was confined in an arm sling post-surgery, I was not able to keep it elevated above the level of my heart like I was able to for my right hand, so the swelling in my right hand reduced more quickly compared to that in my left hand.

Managing post-surgical swelling helps to speed up recovery and decrease pain. Heeding Dr Lim’s advice, I walked out of the hospital with my right hand raised like I was a student who knew the answer and wanted the teacher to pick me, PICK ME!