Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Of Hurricanes

Over the past two days, the entire northeast area of the U.S.A. has been battered by a strong storm named Hurricane Sandy. Since then, I've been actively watching all videos and following live reports from friends and various news sources. I didn't sleep till about 03:00 this morning because the videos were just so interesting! Case in point: 

I think I re-watched this video about 15 times before my aching stomach wouldn't let me anymore.

Anyway, in Singaporean news, Hurricane Sandy is given some airtime (punneh!), but I noticed there were a few things that might not seem obvious to Singaporeans, or even some Americans.

For example, have you ever wondered what exactly is a hurricane? Because if you look up the definition online, it sounds pretty similar to a typhoon.

Well, ten years ago, I used to have this encyclopaedia on my computer and "hurricanes" happened to be my favourite section to read. Why? Because it had the coolest pictures ever!!! So in the following paragraphs I will be highlighting some facts about hurricanes that I can still recall.

What is the difference between a hurricane and a typhoon?

In simple terms, hurricanes are very strong tropical storms which occur in the Atlantic Ocean, around the Americas. Typhoons are the same type of storm, except that they occur in the Pacific Ocean.

That is why in Taiwan, you only hear of typhoons, but it is a hurricane that slams into the American coasts.

Just to confuse us a bit more, such storms would be called a "tropical cyclone" in Singapore.

Go English.

Why do hurricanes always have female names?

I'm not sure why the more famous hurricanes usually happen to have female names, but there are actually male hurricane names as well, like Hurricane Leslie, Hurricane Earl and Hurricane Isaac.

The names are from a list provided by the World Meteorological Organisation. While this list used to only contain female names, concerns of it being sexist were raised and therefore male names were added to it later on.

There are a total of six lists of names, one used per year. The names go in alphabetical order on each list. Every six years, they will go back to the first list and start using the names in order again. That means that in 2018, this year's hurricane name list will be reused again. Note that names that start with Q, U, X, Y or Z are not used.

Here is the name list of hurricanes in 2012:

As you can see, if another hurricane occurs after Hurricane Sandy is over, it will be called Hurricane Tony. 

Now, does this mean that there will be another Hurricane Katrina or Hurricane Sandy in the future? The answer is no, because the names of devastating hurricanes such as these are "retired" or in other words, permanently removed from the lists. 

 What do the different categories of hurricanes mean? 

If you're following news about hurricanes, you're likely to hear phrases such as these:  

"... Category 2, downgraded to a Category 1..."
 "... is now a Category 5 hurricane..." 

And if you didn't pay attention in Geography class, don't worry. I'm making this very simple. 
Hurricane categories are based on two measurements:

1) Wind speed
2) Storm surge

See storm surge diagram below:

Storm surge is an abnormal rise of water that is generated by the strong winds. 

And these are the different measurements for each category.

Category 1: Winds of 74-95 mph (119-152 kmh) with a possible storm surge of 4-5 feet (1.2-1.5 m) above normal.

Category 2: Winds of 96-110 mph (154-177 kmh) with a possible storm surge of 6-8 feet (1.8-2.4 m) above normal.

Category 3: Winds of 111-130 
mph (178-209 kmh) with a possible storm surge of 9-12 feet (2.7-3.6 m) above normal. 

Category 4: Winds of 131-155 mph (210-249 kmh) with a possible storm surge of 13 to 18 feet (3.9-5.4 m) above normal.

Category 5: Winds greater than 155 mph (249 kmh) with a possible storm surge of more than 18 feet (5.4 m) above normal.

And there you have it!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Sunshine & Waves

This past weekend was a nice and long one, with Friday being a public holiday in Singapore. 

So what did I do this weekend? 

I spent it doing all my favourite things of course! 

Thursday night after work, I met up with Shirley and her mom for KBox at Scape. 

Sang Britney Spears songs as always! 

Our KBox package came with these colourful fruity non-alcoholic martinis. 

After three hours of non-stop singing, we adjourned to Xin Wang Cafe next door- our favourite supper hangout spot. 

Well, more like my favourite since Shirley is already sick of the place!

I was so hungry, that I wolfed down this baked cheese pasta with pork, 

as well as this breakfast set meal. 

After supper, we played for a while at the arcade before catching the movie End of Watch at 02:00 in the morning. 

One word to describe End of Watch: VIOLENT. 

I also mentioned to Shirley halfway during the movie that if they cut out all the profanities in the movie, they'd probably end up shortening the film by about 30 minutes. 

My brain hurt by the time I crawled into bed around 04:30. 

Later that Saturday afternoon, I met with Shirley again. 


I'd planned to go skating with friends at Pulau Ubin that afternoon and so Uncle Chuan picked us up from ION in his minivan. 

Shirley said it's been a long time since she's ridden in the back of a minivan. Guess it's the same for me too. 

It's actually pretty fun to see the road from the back perspective for once. 

When we got to Changi Village, the weather was nice and hot. 

We then headed towards the ferry terminal. 

Luckily, we were able to skip the line and get a bumboat almost immediately since we were a larger group. They require 12 people to fill a bumboat before it can leave for Pulau Ubin you see.

Off we go! Instagramming all the way!

Upon arriving at the Ubin jetty, we had no idea what would await us upstairs...


You can't tell from this picture, but it was starting to feel pretty hot under the cloudless sky.

Excited to be on Pulau Ubin!

This was Jerome's and Shirley's first time on the island. The rest of the skaters were a little skeptical about whether the paths would be alright to skate on. Most people have the impression that the roads in Pulau Ubin are fraught with potholes and mud. While that was still true five to six years ago, much of the roads have been repaved now. 

Went to a spot where we could put our skates on.

And off we went!

Shirley rode a bike instead.

Midway through, we had to stop for drinks before we collapsed from the heat.

This is 15 year old James, the most pro skater out of all of us that day.

Towards evening time the air had begun to cool down considerably.

No doubt it was partially due to clouds coming in and sheltering us from the sun.

My crazy, impromptu dad actually came to Pulau Ubin as well for a run and texted me while I was still skating, asking if I wanted dinner.

With the day ending, we all took our skates off and headed back towards the jetty.

I hope everyone enjoyed themselves.

I sure did!

And with that, we ended our fun skate-venture in the afternoon.

The bumboat ride back to mainland Singapore was filled with more Instagram opportunities.

For dinner, Papa drove us to the nearby Bedok Corner. 

My sis Chloe claims that this is the best hokkien mee IN THE WORLD. 

I thought the hokkien mee was definitely tastier than your average, but I still prefer the soggy taste of the Bukit Batok hokkien mee. Guess you will always have a bias for the food you grew up with.

Saturday afternoon, I crawled out of bed to meet with Shirley AGAIN.

We had mee siam for lunch at Far East Plaza.

After lunch, we headed to ECP since I'd promised her that I'd teach her how to skate that Saturday.

We had beautiful but hot weather once again.

Shirley said she was a slow learner, but she actually learnt how to skate faster than I did!

The sea water looks inviting, but I wouldn't touch that water with my pinky. It'll probably give me rashes.

There were actually lots of people learning to skate at ECP that day for some reason.

After almost two hours of learning to skate, Shirley rented a bike and we headed towards Big Splash. I didn't know there was a Mr. Teh Tarik there!

I ordered refreshing lime juice to go with my roti prata kosong. 

Shirley's maggi mee goreng.

Not wanting to go home yet, we went to Katong I12 to play at the Timezone there. 

The Timezone at Katong closes at 22:30, and we were so high on playing DDR that we decided to take a bus down to Cineleisure after the arcade closed. Cine's Timezone doesn't close till 02:00 in the morning on weekends!

It was around 02:00 in the morning then that we headed to OldTown White Coffee... That ill-fated place...

I ordered my usual- assam laksa.

Tried a new drink- wheat grass with honey. It was very delicious. 

Shirley and I spent an hour talking about some real deep topics before we left the restaurant. And this is when the bad thing happened. 

I left my work iPhone behind at the restaurant and I only realised it about 5 minutes later when I got home. Shirley was still in the cab and she confirmed that the iPhone wasn't in the cab. She also called OldTown White Coffee to ask if they saw a phone there. 

 Unfortunately I never found it. 

I even skated back to OldTown just to look for myself, but the lady who cleaned our booth said that she didn't see any phone at all. Keep in mind that this was only 10 minutes after we left the restaurant!

Perhaps a customer saw the phone lying on the table and took it right after we left. 


On Sunday, after House of Bread, I met up with the Davidians for dinner in Holland Village. We didn't do much afterwards. Just lay around at the HDB estate nearby and talked about nothing important. I went home feeling like a water bag, filled with water and food.

I had a wonderful weekend, but it didn't really end on a good note. That's alright though. There's always next weekend!