fighting the lack of good ideas

little vietnam

I’ve been enjoying a small restaurant near my apartment in Singapore. It’s a cash-only operation called Little Vietnam. They’re located at 511 Guillemard Road S.

They open at 1700, and close at 0100 Tuesday through Sunday.

I’ve now been there several times, trying different pho options, the spring rolls, and some other specialties that jump off the menu at me.

But what’s kept me going back is not merely the low prices on food (you can get full for ~S$6), but how polite and friendly the staff is. I have trouble pronouncing their names, and so far have only gotten one down: Thanh.

The staff is from all over Vietnam, and has been interested in talking to me – partially because I’m an American, but also because I go in by myself, and am willing to chat with them. And I don’t treat them like they’re servants or slaves the way a lot of waitstaff are treated here in Singapore.

Another benefit of the restaurant is they do not have a built-in service charge – so I can leave a tip for what I think the meal and service is worth rather than being forced to leave 10-15%.

This has definitely become my favorite restaurant in Singapore to go to.


I want one.

Don’t know what I’ll use it for yet – but I want a VersaLaser.


We’re driving down I-86. Where? Near the town of Cuba New York. Time? About 1945. Date? 25 July.

Due to some unavoidable delays earlier, we got a later start to our trip to Oshkosh for the EAA AirVenture week. As the sun is getting lower in the sky, we realize that we haven’t eaten in several hours, and this looks like a good area to take a stretch break anyway.

We’ve been looking for a place to stop for about 20 minutes when on the blue sign for the upcoming exit we see “Moonwinks”. That sounds different. I make the executive decision from the backseat that this is where we’re going to try for dinner. If it looks sketchy of uppity when we get there, there’s something random fast food joint a couple miles further we can go to instead.

As we head the mile or so north on Route 305, we see this rather normal-looking building at the crux of a Y intersection, with a large sign reading “Moonwinks” in the roof. This must be the place.

The parking “lot” (ie, the packed dirt and gravel around the building) is packed. This is a Good Sign™. It means either a) they’re really good, or b) there’s no place else to go. I’m choosing option ‘a’, because it’s more optimistic.

We park and look for a door. There’s some kind of party going on in the front of the place, so we go in the side. Turns out this is actually the front door. We’re seated almost immediately.

The dining area we’re ushered-to has seating for about 60 people. The wedding reception out front is in another dining area which could hold as many as 150, I think.

The menu is pretty simple – classic American choices: some pasta dishes, seafood, steak, chicken… they all look good. I opt for the lemon whitefish with capers. Mom got an industrial-sized salad with a grilled chicken breast on top to share with my sister. I don’t remember what dad ordered – I’m too fixated on the huge fish fillet that came out.

I barely got myself around the dinner I ordered. I would have been better-off leaving a little.. but it was addicting! Mom and Josie’s salad lasted past one meal, too. Dad didn’t make it all the way through his plate of food – but bringing that with us wasn’t a good idea – wouldn’t keep well, or reheat at all.

The only thing I have against Moonwinks is that it’s too far from where my parents live to go just for dinner. Anything up to maybe 2.5-3 hours may be worth the ride, but clear 4 hours, and it’s just a long ways to go for a meal 🙁

However, if I were going through anyways, or had a reason to be in the Finger Lakes region (airshows, vacation, whatever) – it’s definitely worth going to.

4.5 stars of 5.

safari on linux?

I’ve been wondering why Apple hasn’t made an edition of its browser available for Linux – any of them.

It’s based on various open-source tools, and while we all know Apple likes very much to control the user experience, it seems odd to me they haven’t released at least a source edition for Linux.

If you’re interested in trying it, I found the following off a quick search:

What are y’all’s experiences with PlayOnLinux, if any?

want to reduce gas consumption?

Buy better tires.

I referenced Seth Godin earlier today in regards to investment in developing countries.

Why is it, then, that a marketing blogger would talk about wanting to reduce fuel consumption? I think it’s because it’s easier to relate to than streamlining other processes you may have in your business or development cycles. It’s something we can relate to directly.

If we assume that all the cars drive the same number of miles, which would be a better investment:

  • Get new tires for all the Suburbans and increase their mileage a bit to 13 miles per gallon.
  • Replace all the Priuses and rewire them to get 100 miles per gallon (doubling their average!)

That’s right – spend a little bit of money on the Suburbans, and cut fuel usage more than you could by doubling the efficiency of the already-efficient Prius.

Why? It’s because we think in MPG rather than GPM. What does thinking in miles-per-gallon do to our brains that gallons-per-mile would make clearer? Well, here’s the math:

  • Let m be number of miles driven by a car…
  • Let s be the gas consumption (in gallons) for Suburbans (= m/10)
  • Let p be the gas consumption (in gallons) for Priuses (= m/50)
  • Let T be the total consumption (in gallons) (= s + p = m/10 + m/50 = 6m/50 = 0.12/m)

So in Scenario #1, we have T = m/13 + m/50 = 50m+13m/650 = 63m/650 = 0.097m

And in Scenario #2, we have T = m/10 + m/100 = 11m/100 = 0.11m

Scenario #1 reduced consumption by 0.12-0.097 = 0.023; Scenario #2 only by 0.01; Scenario #1 is 2.3x more efficient!

This is due to a power-curve relationship early on in the MPG table, where a minute improvement (1 MPG on 10) is a huge percentage improvement (10%) at the front end whereas later-on it’s minuscule.

I thought it was neat 🙂

Original article –

The math as to why it works – or

removing the emergency of poverty

Seth Godin has a cool write-up on the Acumen Fund, and what they’re doing to help the 40% of the world that ekes-by on $2 a day or less –

the national museum of singapore

Saturday I went to the museum, as planned. It was pretty interesting, but I would not suggest it either for small kids (probably under 10 or 12, unless they’re really really interested in the history of Singapore) or as place to go if you want to talk about what you’re looking at with the folks you bring with you.

Not all of the museum requires an admission, just the history hall and the special display galleries downstairs. Which, I geuss is most of the museum, but you can get to the museum store and the restaurant with no admission 🙂

After paying my 10 SGD, I was directed to the second level to pick up my “companion” – one of those carry-with-you, dedicated, personal kiosk thingies like the Gugenheim in NY has. After picking up my companion, I followed the tour into a large, cylindrical theater where a short film documenting a day in the life of Singapore is on permanent loop.

Every chamber has a large decal on the floor indicating what number you should enter in your companion to find out more about what’s on display. There are a variety of audio, video, and text selections describing [almost] everything on the walls and floor.

I found some of it to be tedious, but I also wasn’t as specifically interested in some of the individuals for whom they had longer aural work, but overall my visit to be interesting, and at least somewhat enlightening.

While Singapore has been important to Western countries for a couple hundred years (especially afetr it became a British colony in 1819), it’s only been an independent country for 44 years. It’s also only the size of the 5 burroughs of New York, so it’s very tiny. That all adds up to there not being a “lot” of history of the country, compared to, say, Canada – which, while young, is ginormous (a technical term).

If you’re interested in the history of Singapore, and you happen to be here anyway, it’s a decent place to go for a couple-few hours. I don’t think I’d intentionally go back unless there was something of interest on display in the special exhibits gallery, or the film they were showing sounded intriguing, but it was a fun way to spend part of my Saturday afternoon.