Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Semakan PLKN...

Well, it's the time of the year when everyone is frantically checking their status for PLKN... our version of a national service. It's a 3 month stint and kids like mine don't want to go cos they are put off by things like having to wake up at 5.30 a.m., washing their own clothes and other stuff...

My boy kena the PLKN lottery this time and he doesn't want to go. We think it's good for him to go. His life is too pampered. Mana got wash clothes at home? Picky about his food, I think going for this will change his palate a bit. Anyway, according to some of my friends' kids who have gone, they actually enjoyed it... free food, uniform, pocket money, get to handle real guns.... he'd probably grow up a bit more from this experience.

But the PLKN website is really swamped tonight. They should set up extra servers to cater to the expected rise in traffic with the release of the name list. One would think that after so many years of experience, they'd be smart enough to do that!

Of course there are issues of safety that will bug every parent... anyway, things are still uncertain at this point. We are not certain whether he'll be going off to study and all that... but right now, this is probably a good thing for him.

When the intention is to deceive..

So, what does it mean to engage in deception? I looked it up and came up with this... it basically means acting in a way that leads others to believe something that is actually not true.

Deception is probably as old as life itself. The animal kingdom is filled with creatures that use 'deception' to ensure a steady supply of food. Other animals are tricked to their deaths because they are not aware of the deception trap laid out to snare them. So deception gives life on one hand and death on the other. Interesting, isn't it?

The fall of man.. part of it was deception by the Evil One. The other part was inability of Man to turn away. It takes two to tango.

Now, take that into the Man's world... do we need to deceive to survive? I guess not... But if you choose the winding and crooked path, guess deception would be a permanent feature in one's life. Deception is looked upon negatively because we, humans are supposed to have a conscience... that's what makes us different from animals.

Which brings me to my next point. What if we, the supposedly responsible adults use deception to further our cause? What if we doctor information with the intention of making people believe what is not true to be true? That would qualify as a deception, no?

I see deception at work in mundane things even at work place. Portrayal of what is not by such means. Even a little tea bag can be used as a tool of deception.... Subordinates are cajoled and coerced into becoming accomplices. And we remain silent.

Information and facts meant to deceive.... such a sad state when people who are supposed to lead failed to do so and use such unprincipled ways to score points for themselves... Malaysia Boleh! We are supposed to try to be shining beacons for the next gen, yet we succumbed to such low handed practice! Indeed shameful!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Michael Jackson and Farah Fawcett

2 icons of my growing up years... they are in the limelight these last couple of days. And their final goodbyes.

1st icon...Michael Jackson. For his music and dance moves. I was in secondary school and he introduced into the music world, with a big bang some more, his moon walking moves, crotch grabbing, weird ooh and ahs in his music.... I wasn't much of a fan of his music back in those early days but because they were so popular, his music kinda became familiar. Most of us kids were trying to learn his moonwalk... Inadvertently one would see a group showing off what moves they could do, usually in the evenings, as we hung out in groups after playing games.

We grew up on a staple diet of Beat It, Billie Jean and countless others. But his song (co-written with Lionel Ritchie) that caught my imagination was We Are The World... it was able to evoke a feeling of comradeship, camaraderie, a sense of belonging.... it really got to me, and the whole world I guess. It was a totally great feeling... music indeed could reach to the inner soul. And Heal The World. As a teacher that was my teaching aid for many good years... MJ had that sort of diversity in his music... you could simply not like one genre of his music but be totally bowled over his other... his is a line simply blurred by insanity and genius. His insanity... his autopsy revealed an emaciated 50kg, 5'11", bald and seemingly 'anorexic' man.

2nd icon... Farah Fawcett. One of the original Charlie's Angels. When she left the show, I remember being 'devastated'. Thought she would be irreplaceable. I just liked her on the show... not that she was my favourite Angel. Kate Jackson was. But Charlie's Angels seemed so incomplete without her. I used to wish that she'd return to Charlie's Angels... That show was one of those shows I got to watch cos Mom was a fan... so she made exceptions for us too! 8) Mom was rather strict with TV viewing times when we were growing up..

Over the years... I kinda read about the happenings in their lives. Farah Fawcett and Ryan O'Neal. I used to like him from Peyton Place as the dashing young Rodney Harrington. My sis and I used to sneak out of our rooms to watch the show before being chased back to sleep by Mom sometimes. Anyway, The Weird One hogged the limelight even after he left it... allegations of child molest, dangling his child over the balcony, his marriage... all the other weird things he did to his face, skin, body...

But now... they are no more. Life is kinda temporary, don't you think? Icon yesterday, no more today! Go and live life for we do not what is in store for us tomorrow.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Of Karaoke and Weddings...

Wedding dinners are not something I enjoy. At my age, I rarely go... cos most of my friends' kids are not quite at the marriageable age yet. But once in a while I'd get invited to one. Dinners should actually be a nice affair... a time to meet up with some old friends, good food, conversations... but the last one is a bit difficult these days with all the loud blaring music!

Weddings and karaoke... I guess in many of us, there is a singer wannabe. Karaoke sessions found its way to wedding dinners some time back. Guess these two go hand in hand... The singer wannabe needs an audience.....have their moment in the limelight, so to say. So, in come the wedding dinners. Guests come... and are stuck there for the next 2 hours. So, some smart alec must have came up with this idea to entertain them with live performances... and karaoke soon became a must in most wedding dinners.

But if you are one who go for wedding dinners, you'd probably notice by now how loud the music and singing are. The whole room would reverberate with the music. Your ear drums really take a beating... If you are unfortunate to end up sitting in front or near where the speakers are, you'd better get ready for some damage to them. Either that or get ready with some ear plugs. Conversations become an effort cos you have to scream on top of the music... and there is no way Man can beat machine on this!

So, after a couple of minutes of futility, you'd rather sit back quietly and look at the food idiotically. It beats having to scream your vocal box broken. Ear drum dah pun broken in the first place! LOL! Dinner at weddings hence, become rather boring... cos we can't have conversations with our friends. It becomes a place made up of a cacophony of noises... the ones that I'd rather do without.

Karaoke... it's really popular with many. Some people make it a point to sing at every wedding dinner they attend. And they dress elaborately for the stage show. Guess it provides that sort of fix they need to show off their singing talent! So wedding dinners will continue to be a ready stage for these singer wannabes... not that it's bad at all! But I wish they'd tone it down a bit... Then dinner and conversations can continue while the singer wannabees carry on with their show...

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Garmin Nuvi 255W..... the Idiots That We Become

Keep right ... recalculating... please get on the highlighted route, 2.4km to Jln..... so goes the mechanical but sultry voice with an English accent....
Finally got ourselves a Garmin Nuvi 255W. I have an old GPS which my bro gave me some time ago... was a real basic unit; a Garmin etrex. Tells you the path you took from point to point. We don't travel much and never quite saw the need to get a GPS; that was until recently. Driving around in KL has gotten more stressful. One wrong turn... more toll, more distance, more time.. finally, we thought we might as well... add that to the fact that Other Half has been eyeing one for some time now. So that's how the Garmin Nuvi 255W entered our lives.... and the beginning of our idiocy. LOL!

Getting around didn't pose too much of a problem after this... I mean we were able to get from Point A to Point B without really having to go round and round very much. The voice would still get you back onto the highlighted path even if you make a wrong turn....

And when we got home, we were somewhat pleasantly surprised that the map of AS was rather detailed too. But whatever it is, looks like the GPS is going to be a standard companion whenever we take a drive out of town.

One thing struck me though... the idiots that we become to this little square box that talks to us with a an accent... and you can specify the preference of the voice, male or female. We do its bidding so obediently and we trust it completely. And in the process, we become a little dumber cos our brains and eyes don't have to work so hard. The mobile phone took away the need to memorize phone numbers... I, for one can't remember my Other Half's mobile number! If I lose my mobile, I don't know whether it's the mobile that is lost or me! And now the GPS is taking away the need to remember your directions or read the signboards. Just look dumbly at the GPS... wait for it to calculate your route or recalculate if you happen to sesat even after all the instructions...

Man! If you were to get lost after being a dependent of that little machine, you're going to be one lost fler for sure. Dependence does that to us.. makes us a little dumber by the day. Remember the days before the calculator?? How fast we were able to compute the plus and minus, times and division? These days, we have to put on our thinking caps even for simple additions. Dumb and dumber we get.... but then again...

Friday, June 26, 2009

I Will Pray For You

This is what some will say when they hear of a need.... especially in a church context, where I am concerned.

I will pray for you....

Prayer is important. It's a direct line to God which more often than never resuscitates our soul. It is a privilege cos it implies that we are children of God and we can go to our Father. Prayer also indicates our Father's accessibility. We can go to Him anytime through prayer. Prayer is also a deterrent for us to commit sins... cos somehow that awareness of sin is enhanced if we pray often. Prayer is a reminder of our need to confess for each wrong that we commit. So prayer is important... because it's a conversation between us and God.

But imagine this... a church friend undergoes a bad patch in her marriage. Her husband leaves her for another lady. She becomes a single mom overnight, no job, three kids to feed and bills to pay. She goes to the only place she knows she'll find solace and perhaps help. She needs real help.. someone to offer babysit her children temporarily while she goes out and work. Someone to sometimes bring her some food now that the equilibrium in her life has gone haywire... someone to maybe, offer her some financial assistance... all real actions which are very much needed during this tempest of hers!

What do we do? Do we say 'we'll pray for you'? You see, very often we do just that... offer our words of support but not supported by real actions. Comfortable we are that we do not want to rock our own boats for others... oh! we continue to serve in the church, organising events, arranging worship, leading prayer meets.. in short, doing all the 'holy' stuff. But sometimes, I think the holy stuff becomes 'hole-y' cos we do not see to the immediate and real needs of the flock.. somehow these last few weeks, this has been bugging me.

God says.. Feed My people.... I Will Pray For You... while it intercedes for those in need, I'm sure God is also telling us to see to those needs too.... not just pray for Him to send someone to see to those needs. Kinda reminded me of what was said by Daniel Kim over the pulpit the other day... 3% of resources channeled towards the work in the fields.. very much like us... 3% of the people actually getting their hands 'dirty' for God's work. Faith should translate to action... not just words. Faith with just words sounds so hollow.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

D-Day for Teachers' Uniform

The day finally came... us teachers and our uniform. I did a piece on this some time back. I usually am rather recalcitrant about this matter. But this time I decided to comply. And this was the result.... The 3 of us agreed to be different, somewhat! LOL!
At my behest, this is the final product... a compromise I call this. We wear the 'same stuff' like everyone else... buy the same cloth... send it for tailoring.... but that's where the similarity ends. This round we decided on something slightly different. I'd like to think of a small step of preserving our individuality while compromising on collectivity... the sociology lessons that I had so long ago is rubbing itself in here. LOL! Compare the above to this...
Everyone looking like everyone else... though, at least in the this pic, there's still the 'tudung' difference. But it's still from one same piece, one design, almost the same all through out! Kinda boring.... in a way! And you could feel lost in this sea of same clothes people! 8)

I had good friends who took the trouble to find the cloth that I wanted, sent it for tailoring and also alterations.... Didn't even have to do anything except fork out the $$$ to pay for it. But having said all that, I still see not much sense in wearing the same outfit as the next colleague beside me. We are not in the business of churning out the same product. We are in the business of shaping lives and each life is uniquely different. Shaping them requires creativity and different formulae... not something out of the factory production line. Wearing the same stuff makes me feel like a factory production worker.... no need for any creativity at all or individuality for that matter... just be like the monkey next to me will suffice!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

I.B.I.G. @ WMC

I.B.I.G Band.... I Believe In God. It's a Christian band from Korea and they came a-visiting to WMC on Monday night. Twas yet another 'lesson' night but I took the 4 kids out just the same. Opportunities like this come rarely, so I figured it'd be worth it to bring them. And it was!
This, after all, is another contact with the outside world... in a way. We live rather insulated lives here, sometimes. Often, we think God is sombre and worship should be along that line; that God would frown if we move out of the norm which we are settled into.

Made up of talented young musicians and singers, it was quite a refreshing session of praise and worship with them. The young people probably enjoyed it lots. 8)
By the time I got there, the church was half-filled. My rough estimate... probably 400+ people there that night! The young people were ushered to the front. I went to the back of the church and watched from behind the glass partition. Was quite an uplifting time...Message was by Pastor Daniel Kim... interesting life he has led. Born in Korea, raised in Japan and America, now 'stationed' in China. He looked mighty fit... probably has lots of guys (and gals too) drooling over his build! 8) Has covered a great deal of China and was able to describe the rail journeys to the far flung corners of China; the railway line leading to Jerusalem. I am always taken up by such tales of adventure, through the rough hinterlands, the dry and windy desert... And to do what he is doing... you've got to be on fire for God!

Message was divided into 3 parts.... The Gospel, Missions and The Ultimate Goal. In a nutshell, the need for salvation and for workers to work in the fields (the harvest is plentiful but the workers are few) and the ultimate goal which is the return of the Lord. Nicely put by a young man, passionate for God's work. God bless him!

I think most people agree that it was quite a meaningful sharing... of music and the Word of God.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Wedding Reception @ Rebung...

A recent wedding dinner....
LinkTea Ceremony
at Rebung... in Lorong Maarof, Bangsar, KL.
This joint is owned by Chef Ismail and our Angkasawan. The Star did a write-up of the place during the height of interest on the latter. A photo of these 2 celebrities greet you as you enter the restaurant.
Decor was okay but things were still being put up when we got there. Other Half was supposed to be one of the photographers. Charming place..... theme was Balinese; water, wood, lamps, carvings, plants.... Balinese are steeped in Hindu culture also, so you see its influence in the Balinese deco. Dress code was smart casual.
Places of honour... awaiting the bride and groom and also the rest of the guests of honour, with the background sound of Balinese traditional music of gong chimes and sounds of water cascading down the wall.
Food was okay... fushion of the east and west. Rendang, curry, roast lamb with mint sauce, Chinese stir fried veg with mushrooms.... buffet style. But the place was quite warm as it wasn't air-con.
Bride and groom having a light moment...
Gathering of family... cheers to the new couple. Here's a toast to them the best of everything life has to offer to them.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Competition Is Good...

Ever since we have new players in the broadband scene, we notice that service is now better from TM. I supposed they are beginning to feel the heat... Streamyx used to be the fastest broadband cos there was none for to compete. Telekom had the monopoly. Celcom, Maxis, Wi-Max and now I hear there's another one coming second half of the year.

Competition is good. Now if you've problem with your Streamyx connection, service is prompt. Goes to show that a little competition puts everyone on their toes and consumers benefit in the end.

Unlike our 'national' ciplak car who has always been getting Big Bro's help to continue to sell. How not to be the village king when the village chief introduce all sorts of measures to make sure that the villagers cannot afford other cars. The latest being the higher interest rate for non-national cars; at a time when interest rates are already so low, car hire purchase rates are bucking the trend.

I could go on... fair competition in other sectors; education being one of them. Too many morally questionable practices.... but enough has already been said.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Math and Science.. tak sudah-sudah!

English.. no Engriisshhh! Can't seem to reach the end of the tunnel where this issue is concerned... swirls of opinions, and emotions poured in. And they swirl and spin... but nothing seems to gel yet.

But face it! Not mastering English does kinda make one more ignorant. There are not many intellectually stimulating stuff out there in BM or any other languages. So, to be in the 'boleh cakap Inggeris sikit-sikit' group does make one a little more, well... ketinggalan. Maths and Science in English... frankly it doesn't really matter. And solution is also not by making it a compulsory pass. Not everyone needs a pass in English to survive. Anyway, by making it a compulsory pass will create another set of problems. What matters is that the standard of English must be brought up. Though it make more sense for these two subjects to be taught in English, for the host of reasons that everyone has been saying.

But this is crazy! Math and Science in English.. Math and Science in mother tongue... then it's back to English.. now there are groups clamouring again. We must surely be one of those few countries with the record where switching medium of instruction is concerned. This is the time when we need a leader bold enough to make good decisions. Not this swinging back and forth thing. More studies needed, more time to decide. But leaders with a bent for doing the right things are a rare commodity in the gahmen now... so it seems.

Some are proposing we go the 3M way... not your membaca, menulis, mengira thingy but Multi Media Malaysia. Have schools with different mediums of instruction; let the market forces dictate. In the end, demands will dictate what survives and dies. But I think, given the current scenario, most likely the English medium school will thrive. Chinese schools might still survive. Tamil schools will probably see its demise cos even the educated Indians don't send their children to Tamil schools. National schools will falter too... guess maybe that's why the gahmen may not want to have this 3M thingy... but it'll survive though languish.

BM is already a subject. A compulsory pass in it is a must in order to get the SPM cert. The medium of instruction should be flexible, based on need rather than just nationalism. Nationalism can't feed empty stomachs. We need skills. We need to be able to compete. I think the time has come for nationalism to be reflected not just through a language. Nationalism should be about the pride in being Malaysian and everything Malaysian. Nationalism should be blind to skin colour... but that'll also need a lot or re-working, re-branding, re-touching, re-making...... so many re(s).

We can choose to remain the proverbial frog under the coconut shell... not that being that frog is all that bad. Ignorance can be bliss sometimes!!! LOL! That way, the political masters can continue to dictate their whims and fancy on us, the ignorant lot.

Friday, June 19, 2009


Just realized that I was tagged by Forever Wrong... so why not?

1. Who are you?
... one with many roles.

2. Are we friends?

3. When and how did we meet?
I've known you since you were a kiddo... if memory serves me right, you were 12, maybe younger but the timeline in my head is a little hazy!

4. Did you like me at all?
All kids are cute.. so how not to. LOL!

5. Give me a nickname and explain why you picked it.
Bull... cos once I knew you well, that was what you used to do... kept charging at everything. But now, I think Tim should be nice enough for a nick.... LOL!

6. Describe me in one word.
Only one? Difficult since I tend to be a person of many words...... but since it's one.... Promising!

7. What was your first impression?
First impression when we first met??? .... cannot remember too well... but probably cute, all kids are cute.

8. Do you still think that way about me now?
I think you've outgrown the cuteness thingy...

9. What reminds you of me?

10. If you could give me anything what would it be?
Your dream come true

11. How well do you know me?
Quite well

12. When's the last time you saw me?
eerrmmm.... a few days ago.

13. Ever wanted to tell me something but couldn't?
Not really.... that means a small yup...

14. Are you going to post this in your notes and see what I say about you?

15. What is my best attribute?
Transparent... WYSWYG

... who am I tagging???
*wait... runs off and think*

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The holidays are over... *sigh*

From one who is still in school.... Actually, I've been stuck in it for over 35 years! How I used to dream of "when I leave school......" Hasn't happened yet! 8)

But another round of hols is over.... 8(

And how can you tell?? Look at the eyes! Bags are forming and they carry all the lack of sleep that comes with the school term. Haggard and harried faces are in-fashion again. And everyone who has one hand or one foot in it is rushing. Madness all around! Many things have gone back to being quickies again... quickie lunches, quickie dinners, quickie baths, quickie this and that.... And especially at this time of the year; for those in the exam classes - UPSR, PMR, SPM, STPM... the madness is one with earnest! Extra classes, crash courses, intensive classes, seminars, motivational talks... the list is inexhaustive! Poor sods!

Weekends are welcomed with open arms.... there's this feeling of anticipation as Thursday draws up cos you know you will heave a sigh of relief when the day is over; at least for me. This doesn't happen during the hols. Cos everyday is a weekend! And we've started our search in the calendar for PH... Public Holidays. Every single PH is embraced with great happiness!

The days seem shorter now too... not that we have daylight saving hours or whatever you call them. You start earlier but the hours don't quite add up to being enough for all the things you want to do... all the more for 'em kids, with their tuitions, piano and what-have-you-not. The driver in the ma (especially) sends and picks in earnest again too!

And FB... I am seeing less traffic of the young people on FB these last couple of days. Time on the computer has gone back to being curtailed again. The young mourn this! LOL! One of their lifelines to the outside world.

... for me, going back to school means facing 'em brats again... plenty of stories there; but that'll be ramblings for another day.

The hols are over... now to wait for the next one. Took one week for this to sink in.... 8(

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Sitiawan ACS Primary Revisited

More than a century of history here! This is the ACS Primary Hall now... used to be shared with ACS Secondary in the old days.. but these days, the demarcation lines are clearly set by the fences which surround the perimeter of 'both' schools. Used to be 2 schools but felt like one. Now it's still 2 schools and looks clearly 2. Took a walk 'outside' the primary school compound in my last trip home.
ACS Primary Hall
The old school hall.. where I played my first indoor badminton. There used to be a roundabout there. It's gone... with all the greeneries and trees that dotted the place. No wonder temperatures are rising everywhere. We're chopping too many trees and replacing soil for tarred surfaces.

I must have been in Std 5 then. 8) I joined ping pong for co-curricular. Saw my friends playing badminton and fooled around with them... teacher saw me play and told me to switch to badminton. Then my dad saw my interest and he started playing with me almost every evening. By the time I got to Std 6, I was actually quite good... good enough to beat many of the boys! LOL! All because of my dad! So, parents, the interest that you show in your kids can help them go far.
ACS Primary Office
The 'newest' block then.. still is now, I think. During my days, it housed the office, library, kedai buku and dental clinic... we had our own dental clinic!!! Had 2 HMs in my 6 years there - Mr. Khew Khoon Thong (I think) and Mr. Lim Kah Cheok. I used to fear the blue cards that came calling for us to see the dental nurse.

The library was a place I loved to be. Because dad was a teacher there, I got to all the new story books before they hit the shelves. That's how my appetite for Enid Blyton's books was satisfied. *grin* Dad would take back the whole set for me to read during the hols and I'd finish them in a jiffy! Hours and hours of hols would be spent on those books... and also the Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, Bobsey Twins and so many more. Through those books, my hols were spent wandering the plains of Africa, tasting the life in England, be wowed by the freedom in America... gave me quite an active imagination up there!
ACS Old Block
Std 6M, my class, was up the stairs. It was also known as the haunted block.. agama classes used to be at the back of my class. So we'd see other students streaming in from the back, through the narrow 'alley' into the classroom at the back. We used to frighten each other with tales of ghosts wandering around the school. The classrooms in this block used to be the interrogation rooms during the Japanese occupation. Many met their deaths here, it seemed. The school field was supposed to be the unmarked graves for some of these poor souls. Some people swear they could hear and see unnatural things at certain times of the day.

Std 6 was a fun time. I remember this young temporary teacher.. we called him Cikgu Asri. He taught us how to berbalas pantun and we would look forward to his classes just to balas pantun with each other... we had good teachers throughout our schooling years there, save for one or two like Mrs. Gong. But these days, it seems the opposite... more like Mrs. Gong and less like the former.
ACS Corridor
This little corner was where I used to have Bible Study with my friends from MYF. BS would be followed by a game of captain ball on Saturday evenings. Funny how we didn't seem to mind the heat or the discomfort of having to sit on the floor near the drain back then. BS was a time when we learned more about the Word of God. We were allowed, even encouraged to question and speak our minds. I am appreciative of that for it helped to ground me in my faith. I got all excited when I walked past this little 'corner' the other day.
ACS Primary Wall
A wall with many fond memories.. there used to be a line drawn on the wall, for us to throw balls at. I was in Form 2, I think. Was picked to play in the baseball team cos of my arm strength. My position - pitcher. This wall was where I threw the baseball at, hundreds if not thousands of times.. till my arms ached so much.
ACS Primary View
And right across.. from the wall above is this view. The epicenter of the town's activities... the Moksu-lau or parsonage. Next to it is the Methodist Pioneer Church. ACS, a school set up by the missionaries to cater to the insatiable desires of the Fuchows for education and also a reflection of their love for the people of Sitiawan. And both these have blended well cos the sons and daughters of these 2 schools (primary and secondary) are today found even in the far flung corners of the world, successful in the fields of their choices. I salute the spirit of the founding fathers (and mothers) of this school, for their dedication, commitment and love. For many of them came from far away (like the MacGraws from America) and dedicated a good part of their lives teaching those kids in those early years. And their legacy lived on in the generations after them!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The little bit of Pharisee in us....

I'm a little cranky and will write on something with a theological flavour today. My way of letting off a little steam. Am thinking of the little bit of Pharisee in each of us...

The Pharisees... the separated ones, out of love for God they separated themselves from the rest to honour God. They interpret the Mosaic laws and they abide by it strictly in order to remain pure and holy in their faith; for their salvation. There's a parable somewhere in the Bible about the Pharisee and the tax collector. The Pharisee prayed to God full of self righteousness. The tax collector prayed in shame, fearing God will not accept his prayers because he was shamed by his sins. Tax collectors during Roman times were mired in the corruption schemes of the tax collection system. So to be a tax collector meant that you are corrupted. Yet in the end, the kingdom of God seemed nearer to the tax collector. He was penitent and humbled by his misdeeds. The Pharisee felt the Kingdom of God was his right! Call it arrogance? Birth right? But you see many of these type of people in our midst also.

Hence, the Pharisee felt that he deserved his place in the Kingdom of God. He had after all followed the laws of God. He proclaims his dedication to his God to the world, backed by great outward display of piety... and he judges harshly too because he deems himself qualified by all that.

The little bit of Pharisee in us.. today I'm reminded of that. We hold the holier than thou attitude. We deem others not good enough by our standards and say that's God's standard, and worse still we impose that will on others!

We say we separate ourselves to dedicate ourselves to the service of God. Well and good! But sometimes we become overzealous in what we feel is God's work, because of the exclusive zones we create for ourselves. And we interpret things as we see it, with our finite understanding, and then do injustice by passing them as God's law or will.

What is a church? Or a mosque? Or a temple, for that matter? A gathering of people? A building? God says.. Feed My people. Basically to me that means to see to His people's needs. So what do you think when we bar activities or people from the places of worship? Activities which might otherwise reveal God's love for them? What if such activities bring people a step closer to God's doors? We deem a church sanctuary or a mosque or temple sacred that we declare 'secular' activities off limits there! Or worse still, label non-believers as infidels defiling the sacredness of the building! Doesn't God welcome all His creations? I think as long as the House of God is used to meet the needs of His creation; that which is acceptable to Him, it should be okay! If you defile the house of worship with immoral activities, then I supposed that we'd be incurring the wrath of God. It's quite clear... Feed My people!

A church... the House of God... people of God... they should all agree on one thing... we are here to make a difference in the lives of others. If a homeless were to walk into the House of God, are we to turn them away just because they are of a different faith? Or if the House of God is used to educate the people, are we to say that such secular activities should not be held there because it goes against the holiness of the place? The little bit of Pharisee in us... we start to impose rules which we feel God wants... when it's actually our own.

Exclusiveness is after all, Man's creation.... exclusive clubs, exclusive dining, exclusive credit card, exclusive banking, the elite vs the masses.... now exclusiveness in religion; again that little bit of Pharisee in each of us.

Monday, June 15, 2009

CTA1 in as many days...

In 2 weeks I've gone back to Sitiawan twice... This time around, I brought Other Half to the ais kacang stall at the Kg Koh market. He agrees that the loo-mien is nice... plenty of good stuff in it but the rest are just so-so.
Old Hammock @ Market
One can still literally 'hang' around the market area on this and watch the going ons... this is just beside the ais kacang stall. Life can still be idyllic despite the frenetic pace here.

'Old-old fren' dropped by with the whole family before they left for a weekend away. It was good to see her and her Other Half again.. and their boys, more so for my Other Half as he did not make the trip with me last week. Conclusion... 10 years haven't change us much.... except for some receding hairlines and 'failing' eyesights, somewhat. LOL! And of course, Son was hardly a toddler when they last saw him... He's now taller than old fren's Other Half.

We had a nice dinner with my parents at a small dilapidated looking Indian stall at Gandhi school, near Intan Hotel.
Indian Food Stall1
During the day... void of activity and people, it looks like any other shed; uninviting.
Indian Food Stall3
By evening it becomes a hive of activities. Mom says it's a popular makan place. And it sells really good mutton curry! You can either have it with tosai, chapati or rice. And it's cheap. I supposed it comes with the low overhead costs! LOL! The only snag eating there was the pesky flies.
Indian Food Stall2
Apparently flies are the talk of the town now. Recently there was a news report about the invasion of flies in Simpang Tiga (Pekan Gurney). It seems the flies have taken over the makan places. Come to think of it... I do feel that there are more flies around these days. Other Half says it has to do with the chicken rearing industry there.

After dinner I was able to help mum with her little vegetable patch outside the house. Did some digging and lugging of bricks. Other Half and Son went to catch a movie together later in the night.. father-son-bonding time. LOL! Daughter decided to play with her cousins while I decided to hang around at my parents' place. Showed mom some old pictures.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Tucky Restaurant @ Sitiawan...

We tried out Tucky Restaurant, just after Gandhi school, on the way to Kg Sitiawan... the place with supposedly the best 'kampuan' in town now. That's the general perception.
The restaurant was full of people even though it was only 7.30 a.m. People in Sitiawan arise early to go to work. In Alor Setar, the early birds at the stalls and restaurants are usually those retirees on their way back from their tai-chi, line dancing, aerobics thingy. Here, it's full of people on their way to work.
Noticed too that the restaurant operators worked super fast. The proprietor's son for example was multi-tasking - clearing tables, serving, collecting bills, putting the filling into the wantan... time is money, one can see. He seemed to be literally gliding from one table to another with the tray of bowls of mee in his hand. Kinda dizzying to watch him work. Empty tables were filled within the minute, with another line of people outside doing the take-away. Business is really roaring.
Kampuan @ Tucky
The mee?? Portions are big. The taste is okay but I can name some other comparable ones in Kg Koh as well. Kampuan is served in bowls here with another smaller bowl of clear wantan soup. We met Alfred and his Other Half as we were leaving the shop, still full and with a seemingly endless trail of patrons.
Grocery Shop Sitiawan
And the early to rise thingy... we took a drive down the main road. It was only 8.00 a.m. Many shops (all kinds), clinics, restaurants were already opened..... In Alor Setar it would be hard to find a hardware shop opened at that hour. Yet I saw a couple along the same road and sundry shops such at this one....that's my dad's friend.

But I feel this will slowly change some more in time to come. Sitiawan is a town built on rubber. I can still remember vividly, men and women cycling at the break of dawn, coming back from the rubber plantations. And their work would not be done yet still... the Fuchows of earlier gen were a very hard working lot, used to hardship, hard work, long hours... still can see that in the remnants of that generation and the generation after.
Old Market Kg Koh
This is the old market in Kg Koh; a pale shadow of its former glory. The road beside it leads to Pasir Panjang. My friends and I used to cycle there for fun. The market has shifted to a new location along the road to Simpang Dua; near New Village. Mom used to cycle to this market every morning. Before 8 she'd be out of the house, after cleaning the house, and be back just after 9. In our teenage years, her coming back from the market was something my brothers and I would look forward to, for she would buy back for us our breakfast made up of kampuan and loo-mien on Saturdays and during school breaks.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Me and my gal...

... Me and my gal. We went back to Sitiawan, just the two of us. And it strikes me too as how much of a man's world it still is. Cos everywhere I went when I got home, when I said I had driven back on my own with my lil gal in tow, everyone's response was.. 'Wah, so clever / brave, etc, etc...' If I had been a guy, there it would have been a feat not worth any mention.

I think she found it kinda fun. I did. We had 3 full days of visitations (play), catching up and binging. She met up with some of her cousins and friends.
And on our way home, we detoured to Ipoh to visit a cousin of mine whom I have not seen much. All of us are getting along in years... It was a nice visit. If we've had more time, I think we'd probably binged a bit more also.. 8) Ipoh food is supposed to be quite nice too.

On our way home to Alor Setar, Daughter was supposed to help me stay awake... but in the end, she couldn't and doze off fitfully... but she'd still get up sporadically; counted the kilometres for me. That's my gal...

So this hols, me and my gal did something together, just the 2 of us. We went on a little trip together and that felt nice.

Thursday, June 11, 2009


This happened yesterday... I was happily driving home when I saw my friend standing by the roadside. Thinking that something might be amiss, I stopped to enquire. That stop took up my next 2 hours.

A middle-aged lady was sitting on the grass. Another elderly lady was standing with friend. I asked what was wrong. The problem: the middle-aged lady was 'lost' and she didn't sound 'right'. She rambled in 'old' Hokkien to which I could little comprehend. Her toothlessness also made it difficult. We could only get bits of info which seemed to bring us on a bush-run... not just round the bush. But this we established... she was lost and she did not have full control over her mental faculty! Thus began our 2 hours with her under the tree on a hot afternoon. And I hadn't taken my breakfast yet!

Friend wanted to get her something to eat. Since I was still sitting in my car, I volunteered. Bought her a pau and a packet of milo. She ate the pau minus the meat. No teeth, so cannot chew. Then the 3 of us proceeded to dig more information from her. We got no where. Leaving her seemed so wrong. So in the end, I dialled 999 and asked them what to do. Gave my name and was connected to the police.

Was pleasantly surprised that a patrol car came in 15 minutes... I was starting to think that maybe our police force boleh tahan. The 2 police officers were nice enough. They gave her 2 boxes of drinks and talked to her. I managed to get the lady's name. Even managed to get info that she had gotten an jab from a clinic in town. But sadly, one of the police officers just wrote it on a piece of paper and left it in her pile of rubbish that she had collected in the morning. We had to 'insist' the info upon the second pair of police officers who appeared at the scene later with 2 more lady officers.

It took more than half an hour of waiting for them to show up. The waiting was bad enough. But it was the attitude of the police officer in charge which I found appalling. The first thing he said after a 'brief Q & A' was the lady was not 'mad'. And he didn't even speak her language. How did he establish that? Everyone of us could see that she was not normal. It was easy to see that these police didn't want to take her to the relevant authorities. Trying to pass her off as normal so that they didn't have to take the next step.

So I asked him about procedures.... what should be done for people like her. He said he didn't know (Duh!! What police officer doesn't know such procedures?). Then I asked him whether it would be appropriate to send her to the hospital for a check up (her toes were swollen) and for an assessment by the psychiatrist. He was reluctant and kept saying she was not 'mad'. I then said we should not leave her alone as she might be raped or robbed again. She had been relieved of her ear rings and chain it seemed; I found out in those lucid moments when she switched between the present and past worlds. Then I asked whether it was possible for the Welfare Department to step in... The same police officer mumbled something about you know how troublesome it would be.

The elderly lady beside me started asking me whether it was because she was Chinese and these Malay police officers did not want to help. In segregated Malaysia, this is often the first thing that pops into our minds. I told her no... it's a general malaise that has inflicted itself onto our civil service. Ethics and commitment are no longer the yardsticks. Taking the easy way out is.

By then, I was quite annoyed. We are supposed to have first world infrastructure. Tax payers money is used also to set up Welfare Departments, etc, etc. The society is supposed to have put in place, infrastructure and a system to deal with the homeless, lost... the misfits of the society; to enable some dignity to be returned to such people. Yet, this police officer seemed so heartless. Actually, I wasn't expecting him to be super compassionate. He's a police officer... it's his job to pick up such people to be sent for assessment. A system has been put in place to safeguard the people's interests. But its execution is rife with flaws.

Just a casual look of the lady told us she has not been on the streets long. Her clothes were still quite clean. Her rings were still on her fingers. Her nails seemed well kept and her eyebrows looked trimmed. She could be an Alzheimer patient for all we know. The police are supposed to be trained to look out for that... not jump into assumptions immediately. I supposed I have been watching too many CSI shows...

First world infrastructure... third rate execution system and procedures. Police who seem to offer presence but reluctant to carry out their duties when they are supposed to. But these police wouldn't think twice about spraying water laced with chemicals at peaceful protesters. That's our police forced on us.....

And back to my 2 hours... 2 hours lost is nothing compared to what this lady has lost. She lost her mind. In losing that, she lost her dignity. And maybe she has also wandered from home and got lost. Life without dignity... I cannot imagine that. The elderly lady who was with me... she said it's better to be dead than to live without one's dignity.... and I can't help but agree with her.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Malaysian Toilet Mentality and Malaysian Politics

Toilet mentality and politicians.... There is more in common than meets the eye. I'm sure all of us use the public toilets. And I'm also sure that many will say that our public toilets are showing some improvement in the sense that they are now better maintained. But toilet users' mentality still have a long way to go.

I was stuck in Sunway Carnival Convention Centre in Seberang Jaya for two days cos my boy had to go for his pre-selection test. So, one of the places which I had to frequent was the toilet. Public toilets are usually places I'd avoid. Anyway, boy! Did I learn a lot about our public toilet users' mentality in 2 days!

Our public toilets are still smelly.... for some reason, public toilet users have a poor sense of aim and as a result, the toilets smell. Another thing is our public toilet users seem to have poor eyesights. They cannot see the rubbish chutes, even those placed right in the toilets, cos tissue papers are still strewn everywhere. Toilet cleaners do a wonderful job. They have all this blowers to keep the floor dry after they wash it... but still, our public toilets are never dry.... because our toilet mentality hasn't evolved from its basic primal form.

Public toilet users seem to enjoy playing with water cos you see water everywhere. Next, our public toilet users have a penchant for squatting on toilet bowls... as a result you see scratch marks and cuts on the toilet seats. And because of that, sometimes when they have a big deposit to make, especially the rush type which comes out in spurts, the floor and everything in the toilet get soiled.... aargh!!! And that makes me wonder what sort of mentality such users have. I feel sorry for the toilet maintenance crew who has to clean up after these 'homosapiens' who behave worse than animals.

You see, I think many of these public toilet users have this mentality that they will only use the public toilet once... so they don't care about cleanliness and maintenance... to make sure that others who come after them get to use the toilets in their pristine condition. They think only of themselves, of their convenience, their own comfort... everything that reflects me, me and more me punya mentality....

Our politicians are also like that. Many of them come into office... they grab, grab and grab what they can... cos they think they're there only for a limited time. They don't care whether they leave behind a good legacy, do the right things so that the generations to come will continue to enjoy our resources. Malaysian public toilet mentality... Malaysian politicians.... they definitely have something in common... me, me and me; don't care two hoots about those who come after them. Lesson from the public toilets...

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Jazzing the night...

...together with the kids at a Jazz Concert; Tay Cher Siang's WVC's Trio +1. There are very few culture stuff up here in Alor Setar. So, when Son told me that there was going to be a jazz concert, I decided to take all of them (TH, Jov, TH, Son and Daughter) out for an cultural exposure even though it was a 'lesson night'. Ticket was priced at RM20, which I thought was a great encourager for people to attend.
Jazz Concert
These guys either studied or are still studying jazz at various universities in the States. I was never much into jazz fan until more recently. But because so many of my friends were into music, the MYF, church and I was also in the school band most of secondary school life, music was something which I enjoyed even though I had no formal lessons.

Jazz... that's jazzing up the music with your own interpretation, an expression of your soul through music. Originated from New Orleans at the turn of the 20th century, it was dominated by the African Americans... one famous fler was Louis Armstrong. There's a complete history here.

And despite the individuality in the expression of each music on each instrument, the supposedly cacophony of noise when put together becomes a beautiful piece of music in its own right. Unlike the classical music, where the ensemble come together in harmony to produce music, jazz is almost on the other end of the spectrum. That's how I view jazz. Very much like abstract art, only more comprehensible... at least to me! 8)
Old Town1
Concert was followed by supper at Old Town. Tim and TH ordered the roti toast with curry. The real stuff was a let down. LOL!
Old Town2
...compared to the pic on the menu. Instead of the pieces of chicken that look so tantalizing on the pic, what they got were shreds of chicken meat lookalike. Of course the establishment also did put it in fine prints that pictures on the menu were for illustration only. Yeah! If I may add... people usually forget to read those fine prints and get sucked by the glossy pics....
Old Town3
And guess who we spotted there too... at the far end corner of Old Town. We seem to be bumping into this couple a lot... Love is in the air..... *skipping away* LOL!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Pot bless...

Holidays means this...getting together for the slightest possible reason. Karyn was back. So the ma decided to organize a pot bless. Dinner for almost 20 of us. This time we decided to do it pot bless style - each one brings something. But as usual, the hostess came up with more... a hebat dish!
This is of course one of the hebat dishes... roast! Meat was rolled up and tied. Then it was roasted over a period of slightly over 2 hours. The result! Tender and succulent meat.
Everyone brought something. We had fried chicken, mixed vegetables, lamb stew, grilled prawns, squids and fish, pasta, ice cream, good wine, 9932 (that's a lime drink) and nothing less than good company! 8) I guess eating is always more fun when done in a group also. People, food, drinks and conversations for company. 8)
Wine Holders
Cute, huh? Elf chefs and elf helpers at work while we sembang... LOL!

We watched TV together... Roland Garros is on. Game was between FedEx and Juan Martin del Porto. Anyway, Roger has won the Roland Garros and I think that made many of my friends happy. But while the tv was running, real games were also being played in our midst, kiddy ones. 8)
The small kid got the big kids... and even 'bigger kids' to play with her! LOL! The only small kid there also had a good time. I'm truly thankful for such an opportunity for my gal.

Get-togethers like this, these are what memories are made of. One more for the album... heart warming moments for us when we look back. *thumbs up*

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Stuck with nothing much to do..

Am stuck here at Sunway Carnival Mall... waiting for Son. So glad I've the comp to keep me company while I wait. He's taking his Pre-Selection Test for Pre-U for ASEAN Scholarship. We encouraged him to apply so as to let him see for himself what a rigourous selection process is like. I think so far, it's been an eye opening experience for him. Competition is very keen. They are tested on Math, English and General Abilities. It's over a period of 2 days. Each paper is 3 hours long. There're probably a couple of hundred kids vying for the very limited places... and this is only the northern region.

Which brings me to my next point.... it's crazy the about to happen brain drain that I'm seeing right before my eyes, in my own small world here that is. These are among our best and brightest kids and they are being 'lured' away. While some may argue that this is a scholarship with no strings attached, most of them will not come back to work in Malaysia after they are done with their studying... It's a loss for us. All because we have this silly double standard thingy which boils down to skin colour.

Observation.. I didn't see any Bumi (read that as Malay) kids. A couple of inferences one can make. One, Malays feel they don't need this, which is true cos with mediocre results they will be offered to further their studies. The better ones get overseas scholarships.

Two, being a Malaysian means there are two sets of rules. It's some sort like apartheid but at a lesser degree. Malaysians compromise on moral absolutes... our morals are very 'senget'. We are very religious but being religious here also means that moral absolutes follow our whims.... which is a no brainer.

Three, the rigours of JC is too tough for many. Many of the Bumi kids may feel inadequate - this comes from the years of instilling in them that they need to be helped i.e they are not good enough... our political masters put them on crutches and tell them they need them. But generally, many of our kids prefer the private colleges (but the pa and ma must have the dough) - easier, more comfortable, etc. Singapore education standard is arguably one of the better in this region now. We used to be on par on them eons ago. But we've gone on a slide downwards this last decade or so. Such a pity cos we started off so much better than them.

Anyway, I still have a couple of hours to kill before Son finishes... if he clears this around (and he says it's a really big IF), it'll still be an uphill task for him. We demand academic excellence here, but we don't quite prepare our kids to face the world with all the other skills. So, sometimes, it's good for them to see what it's like on the other side on the fence. Maybe, after this experience, he'll buck up and work on getting on par if not better with what's on the other side of that fence.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Labour of love...

This gotta qualify as a mega labour of love.... from a good family friend. For Other Half and me! A really huge quilt that comes from a huge heart of gold with lotsa love.
It's a magnificent piece of handiwork. Must have taken hours of toil and labour; the kind that speaks volume of the content of heart that propels the hands to patch the pieces of cloth together and the eyes to stay open those long nights at the sewing machine.

We thank God for such friends in our lives; for the blessings that they've been... for the help and encouragement given along the way, the food sent our way ever so often (her super yummy pies, cakes, oh.. the list is super long)... God blesses her and her family!

Friday, June 5, 2009

More with my old-old friend...

Had a fabulous lunch of popiah at old-old friend's parents' place while I was back in Sitiawan. Drool on.... 8) And our kids got to play together some more.
Really brings back many fond memories. I used to take meals at her place while we were growing up together. We also walked the 'backyard' of her house... been a long, long time since I went to the back of her house. It was a place of 'adventure' for me those days - of geese, ducks, chickens, kittens, fish... and a well. It still is, not only for us but for our kids too!

This is the first time my gal has seen a functional well.... touch the water and to ooh and aah over its depth and coldness; that the water never seems to run dry. Quite fascinating! Something so from the past which used to be the lifeline of the town but now at its nadir.... The kids had fun and it brought back memories of those days when I used to draw water from the well at my grandma's place in Pekan Gurney... but I found out that that skill has diminished somewhat. 8(

There were tales of chicken rearing... how the wild chickens lay their eggs everywhere and how her ma would go hunting for them and put them into boxes, making it possible for them to hatch into baby chicks. The chickens run wild in her huge backyard. A wild rooster appeared from no where and has claimed the brood of hens his. LOL! Can see where this friend of mine inherited her enthusiastic streak for nature... 8)
Chicken Egg
This is so apt, huh??? Life and death in one box. LOL!! The mother hen will hatch her eggs in the boxes for the next couple of weeks... around 20 days I just read.
The kids had fun with a couple of 'newborn' chicks. This one is 3 days old, I think. There are chicks at different stages of growth in the backyard. Looks like this house never runs out of chickens to eat! This is, after all, one of those very few houses I know which allows chicks to walk their floor. Anyway, many years ago this friend convinced me to keep ducklings in a box under my bed without my mum's knowledge... but I was found out nevertheless. How do you keep squiggly ducklings out of sight and hearing? That streak of 'peculiarity' is very much alive in my friend. All those years of being away hasn't changed that! 8)

One kid tried to mark the chicks by tying different coloured yarns to their legs. But some of the chicks got the better of the yarn and managed tug them off. But I think the chicks must have been frightened by all the attention that they've been receiving.
The kids sat together and listened to stories from the radio... we both found that we get roughly almost the same stuff for our kids to listen (watch). In many ways, our ideas and ways of bringing up children are similar. Our present is now bridging our past with our children's future.

In the afternoon, we went for a game of ping pong at the church with the golden girls of the church. This is mother and daughter partnering each other... Great, eh??

We partnered each other too and played against the golden girls but we lost to them... so paiseh! And she is probably going to remember the one 11-point game we played in which she won... cos I kept serving out! LOL!
Ais Kacang Stall
After that, both of us ended up in the ais-kacang joint, eating mee and ais kacang, of course. More than 10 years have passed since our last in-person encounter and an even longer time since our last ais-kacang fix. She and her chin-tong (clear soup) mee... me with my kampuan and loo-mien.
This is loo-mien (lor-mee) from the old ice-kacang stall that we used to frequent as teenagers. The stall is now at the Kampong Koh market. It took an old friend whose memory has been on the freeze for the last 10 years where Sitiawan is concerned to reintroduce me to that. Anyway, this shall be one of the places that I shall be returning. I always like Fuchow loo-mien. You are assured of goodies with every mouthful...bamboo shoots, black fungus, cabbage, dried squid and countless other stuff which I can't identify. But to me, this is the place to get the best loo-mien.
Chin tong mien
And portion wise, it hasn't changed much. It's still huge. The chin-tong mien above can make 2 bowls in Alor Setar. For her, I guess she's still used to the big portions... where she is, everything is still super size.

It was good to be able to sit down together, like we used to during our teenage years (minus the kids and Other Halves)... how time flies; how we've moved on in many ways... yet the familiarity opened floodgates of fond memories of days before and in it, I find so many similarities in our lives.... It's kinda amazing. Once in a while, we should be reminded of our past so that we can remember to count the blessings that God sent our way and see how such meetings of lives, in its own ways, have played a role in our lives and are still blessing us. It's a journey that's well worth it. Cos it's not just a journey back to the past, but a reminder of God's goodness in our present life and also a glimpse of what is possible for our children.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Kway Teow and Noodles...

Some of my more 'matured' friends like this place. So this was a dinner place for us...
Restoran C.H.Tay. Guess it must be the proprietor's name. Despite the restaurant tag, it's actually a place mainly for fish balls from 'ikan parang' which goes with kway teow, mee or bee hoon.
Most of us ordered this - konlo 'kway teow and mee'. It comes with the fish ball soup.
There is also the soup version, which Daughter had.
You can also order other side dishes, mostly vegetables and the pek-cham (boiled) chicken. I notice the place to be quite full sometimes. But for me, I'd rate the food as so-so... not very spectacular. But it seems quite a hit with older patrons. Maybe something to do with kway teow being easier to digest, I supposed. 8)
As for their drinks... they're machine mixed. We saw this machine by the side and was quite to see cocoa on one of the buttons. So we ordered. It was a disappointment cos cocoa was actually diluted milo.

Anyway, this makan place is off Jln Gangsa, somewhere near Tmn Pelangi. It's opposite the row of shops which houses Standard Chartered and UOB. Can't miss it cos it's so yellow signboard really stands out.

Die, die also hers....

It is mind boggling how selfish we can be at times these days... especially when it involves kids. I recently helped a friend's kid fi...