Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Tea @ Royal Kedah Club

Was supposed to be tea but felt like dinner.
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Sitting in the Golfers' Terrace, overlooking the greens, one can get used to such kind of life. Since it was almost end of the month and I had not finished up my 'food quota' yet, decided to invite the girls (and their paiseh bro) for tea. Paiseh bro didn't show up cos he was paiseh....
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This is the ais kacang. At RM4, it's huge. One gets hyper on sugar overload. But it's actually quite nice. Would be quite difficult for one person to finish... if the person is me.
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The Banana Split for Daughter. My kids get to sample the 'premium' ice-creams like Haaegan Dazs, Ben & Jerry but it never surprises me how they'd still claim that these ice-creams are very nice. Presentation goes a long way in convincing the 'diner', I guess. So food need not necessarily be very nice.... what's pleasing to the eyes is. Guess that's why cosmetics, fashion and anything to do with 'beauty' sells... and sells really big some more. We're suckers for good-looking things!
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Other Half had sandwich. He says it was nice... but he's a sandwich fan. So anything sandwich goes down well with him. At RM3 per plate like this, you can't complain. Ais kacang and sandwich can be surprisingly filling.
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The girls had their ice-creams...think these are peach melba and lychee @ RM5.50 each.
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...and shared the RKC Special Fried Rice. I took a tiny mouthful and it wasn't too bad. Ling got to it before the camera did! 8)
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Mine was grilled chicken; Doc T recommended it highly. All I can remember is the number on the menu - 404 (the HTTP standard response code to Page Not Found, LOL!) It had some fancy name which I can't remember.
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I find the food quite reasonably priced. Too bad they only serve local kopi and Nescafe. A bit more choices for tea and coffee would make the menu quite complete.

I notice their menu list was quite comprehensive.... they even have lobster (Thermidor)! I'll most probably be trying out some of them in the coming months..... It's opened to the public but there is a dress code. No slippers, collarless T-shirts for guys, shorts... which makes people like me segan want to go there...

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Oooops Silap.....Sorry, I mean Ops Sikap

Ops Sikap or what some beginning to call Ops Silap has just ended. This round's Ops Sikap registered 261 deaths....over a period of 2 weeks. We've had so many Ops Sikap... practically every major festive season that I can't really recall when it was first introduced. But one thing has remained constant.. the number of deaths don't really seem to come down. Of course there are some who say it has, going by the increase in the number of vehicles on the road during these seasons.

These senseless deaths don't seem to be abating. And yes! Ooops Silap is a more appropriate name. Where have we gone silap (wrong)? We keep having these campaigns - be more considerate, wear your seat belts, etc. etc but we failed to enforce the law at other times. I drive to school every morning and along the way, I'd see students riding motorcycles without their helmets; sometimes going at breakneck speed. And when they arrived at the school gate without their helmets... nobody says anything.

Then there are those students as young as First Formers who ride motorcycles to school. The police should be making sweeps in schools - but nah! They're too busy with candle light vigils, 'illegal' gatherings to make sure these kids don't sprout 'wings' and become Mat Rempits later. Neither does the school take action on these kids... cos we want the kids to come to school; even if they are under aged and come on motorbikes. Parents close an eye to kids who ride without license. Some parents even encourage it. So what gives?

Then the issuing of license. Some say license can be bought. It's kopitiam talk that paying duit kopi for license is common. So, these half baked drivers are released onto the roads. Plus because some form of buying their way in is involved here, these people have a certain attitude. They think it's possible to buy your way out of anything.

And the long breaks... Raya, CNY come along. The gahmen can even announce extra hols for it. I mean it's good for families to get together and all that. But bending so much seems to imply that well, if it's for a 'good' thing, then it's okay to bend the rules.. even if in bending the rules you create a lot of not so good things... So, if you give it to the Raya people, you'd soon be bound to the CNY people... get everyone on board so that no criticism flies around. Sama-sama in the boat. The roads get congested with all these travels for a longer period.

The the police... they seem to become less visible now. Maybe they monitor it via cameras now... I dunno. But no presence, the compliance to traffic laws also goes down. It's like a classroom. No teacher, the noisier it becomes. Police presence must be felt.

So, Ops Sikap or Silap.. which ever way you want to call it. We've been doing this upteen years and still, there are many senseless deaths, mainly the pedestrians and the bikers. To which, a good public transportation system, not just connecting the cities but within every city, would also play a vital role in discouraging the use of their own mode of transport.... Ops Sikap, I wonder when he authorities will realize that it doesn't actually do much good.

Monday, September 28, 2009

PMR, SPM, STPM... What Next?

UPSR has just concluded. PMR is just around the corner. And just beyond that are SPM and STPM. That means half of the secondary (Form Six included) school kids are gearing up for exams. And it is this time that the net is flurry of search activity for soalan bocor, tips peperiksaan, petua and petunjuk... Many are in this last minute scramble of the extra edge - one that will ensure that they get the A(s).

For those in the PMR group, this is more like an exercise of practice. Other than of identifying students into various streams, it's not going impact the students much. There are options though, like moving on to technical, science/residential schools where the selected ones will get better facilities and choices. I think our lower secondary education is a wasted opportunity for our young. Too much rote-learning, the lack of quality instruction plus the mad scramble for A(s) have actually turned our kids into non-thinking, non-hands-on and misters and misses softies. Many kids don't play physical games now.

SPM bears more weight. After SPM, many will move on to Form 6, or do their A-levels at colleges (either on FA-MA money or scholarships) or even sign up for the various programmes -SAM, SAT, etc... Most will not want to stay for Form 6 for these reasons. First these young people cannot wait to get out from the home. There is this great urge to spread their wings and leave. They want to be anywhere except home. Second, Form 6 is tough, much tougher than Matriculation (our simplified pre-university education which was formulated to enable the bumiputeras to gain entrance to the local universities). Third, they say they save time. But I think time saved is not an important. What is one year earlier? Most people have to slog like a donkey for the rest of their lives, anyway.

STPM... the final stop before you leave home and school. It's arguably one of the toughest exams (not just in Malaysia) and perhaps with credibility left in our education system. You've got to work hard that's for sure but it can also be a time of self discovery. 2 more years at home would actually prepare the students better for college / university life. Plus, it's free. And you save RM25 - 50K! That's a lot of money for most families! The young people may not realize it yet but staying at home offers a degree of comfort compared to living on their own. But it's easier to scale Gunung Kinabalu than try to convince them to stay. And parents seem to give in to the various pressures.

So at this time of the year, heavy clouds hang over the heads of many. Stress level is also up among the parents. After the year long of ferrying their children for school, tuitions, extra classes, I guess the month of December would be greatly welcomed. Exams... like it or not, they're necessary in this world of ours.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Ramblings...

The news that make the alternative news sites remain a concern cos it looks like this country of mine is still a little 'lost'. After PKFZ, you'd think that's about the biggest scandal we can get. Well, some more mud on our faces... it seems Bakun accounts if made public would make PKFZ seems like small change. Sometimes I think we Malaysians have been 'had' so long that we no longer can fathom the huge amounts siphoned from right under our noses.

Oh ya! What else is new? Seems oil is overstocked everywhere. Some analysts expect the price to hit USD$30++. It's now near USD$70. I wonder, if it drops some more, our petrol prices, electricity tarrifs and what have you nots will go down in tandem. Petronas money also will dry up... maybe we'll start to feel poorer when that happens.

Prices of cars may be coming down??? That would be a piece of good news. But usually, when the gahmen reduces one tax, another tax would be increased? There's always the good ol excise duty... I'm keeping my fingers crossed. We continue to pay premium because of our sub-quality cars.

Still on cars... 1Malaysia is now into Formula One. This is even bigger than having Alex Yoong driving in F1. But it's going to cost RM100 million a year.... where is that amount going to come from? My guess is the average Jalil or Janet who pays the tax ringgits. Malaysian names involved? Well, Proton and Lotus with the support of the Sepang International Circuit (SIC), Motorsports Association of Malaysia, Naza Motor and AirAsia. How profitable will it be? Well Singapore's night race brought in lots of tourist dollars. Dunno about ours though. Money seems to always find their way into scandals. BTW... yearly expenditure for F1 is expected to total more than RM300 million... not inclusive of the the technical centre they are supposed to to build in Sepang, etc... won't be surprise if we have to fork out a billion...

9th by-election coming up... Oct 10th. Bagan Pinang - BN safe seat supposedly. Interesting. BN has been consistent in one thing - saying one thing and doing another. Let's see how this goes. Lots of postal votes - most of which are done deals, many claim.

One good news... 13-year-old girls will be given free Cevarix jabs - vaccines for cervical cancer. At least this is something going back to the people. *thumbs up*

School starts today.... back to the grind. One friend said good bye to the teaching profession before the hols. A teacher of quality - we do not get many such teachers now. So it's a loss to the students. I see a couple of trainee teachers every year. It's a good thing Math and Science are going back to BM. It's not the language of instruction that is the problem, it's the teachers. No mastery of language and content. And I haven't started on their attitude yet.

Well at least one bright spot... Here's looking forward to the next hols.... 8) When the silly chase for the adrenaline highs can run full steam again...

Saturday, September 26, 2009

The Week That Was

Well... this is one week which have somewhat been pleasant despite some things. Made our way to Chennai Curry House in SP again in less than a week. The Lohs were crazy enough to drive down and back again.. Son and I were merely the penumpangs. And yup! The food is still nice. Must try the vegetarian briyani... really very nice. I ta-pau some of the 'outside' food for Other Half. Nancy ta-pau the vegetarian briyani. And yes also... food ordered in the pricier area is nicer... This time we made friends with the owner who is as Indian and Chinese as one can get...

It's one week of adrenaline highs from all the activities - swimming, gym, squash and the latest, tennis. That is apart from the badminton that I still regularly play. There are days when I'd drop by the club for 40 minutes at the gym, before going to the market. Then in the evening I'd take Daughter for a swim... Yay! She's finally able to actually swim, though not very well yet. She's got a funny way of swimming.. She squeals when she is underwater. I would swim alongside her and the squeals would resonate through the water. It was kinda funny. Sometimes squash preceded the swim. Have never played so much squash in one week. 8)

And tennis... I'm still good enough only to hit the wall. But I kinda enjoy hitting the wall in a way cos I find it fun learning another new skill. Tennis strokes are different from badminton. From the swing to the way one locks the wrist in the swing. I guess I'm a sucker for new challenges...

So with all the 'false' highs provided by the adrenaline push, the days passed quite quickly. It's a dread going back to school. With all the recent congregation of people from all over recently, there is also this fear of H1N1 recurring. WHO stated that 1/4 of the mortality cases have no underlying problems. This flu can still be rather dangerous. I went to ASTRO to pay my bills and they were still taking temperature. Not many place are on the watch out now. TNB has stopped doing that. That's so like us... once the perceived danger is over, we let our guards down.

And there was yesterday (Friday) evening when Ling, Ning, Siah and I tugged and pulled at my bamboo plants in a pot. It serves as my filter for the fish pond. And the roots have gotten so dense that the water no longer gets filtered. We trimmed the roots, got splattered with 'dunno-what' microorganisms from the fish 'muck', almost gave up but finally triumphed in pulling the few smallish green bamboo plants out fromt he pot. You can never underestimate the strength of the small plants. When clustered together, they're really, really strong. I think we made a hillarious sight! There we were... two tugging the plants and two hanging on to the pot (as though for dear life).... and it was Ning's last day in Alor Setar.

Anyway, volleyball season is starting soon... I dunno whether I still want to play. All the sun and shine... getting sunburnt and all that! And what's remaining fo the term will be a busy one too.... hence my dislike for year ends...

And oh ya! Everyone should read Kenny Sia's take on our PM's Open House. I had a good laugh over it... maybe there were really those who went to see the PM but I think most of us are suckers for anything free... free food included even if it's only canteen standard. ROFL!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Remember these biscuits??

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Remember these biscuits? My kids don't see these much. Neither do they eat it much except when I buy them. That also, they're not quite used to them cos their biscuits come in glossy and colourful packaging under brand names like Hwa Tai, Julie's and those that you find on the supermarket shelves.

These are the biscuits which I think many my peers used to eat as breakfast or tea or even supper. They came in these huge tins sold in sundry shops. Dad used to buy such tins of cream crackers to feed us. I used to see them being sold in my uncle's sundry shop when I was younger. These days I make very infrequent visits to the sundry shops as most of my shopping is done in the hypermarts. Changing lifestyle!
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This is a cottage industry.. biscuit making. Located along Jln Sg Korok, next to what seemed to be an old temple. At the back of the house is a thriving cottage industry - making biscuits which you find from the sundry shops.

Nancy is a bit 'siao' about these biscuits and so far I've followed her there twice. I even got myself a few variety of the biscuits while it was there.
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Owned by a family member of a badminton kaki of mine, it's definitely nicer to be able to buy these biscuits straight from the source cos they're really fresh this way and cheaper too! 8) And they taste simply delicious when dipped into the coffee!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Restoran Chin Eng..

This is a place we sometimes go for dinner after church... Restoran Chin Eng at Pekan Simpang Kuala. It's located at the corner of the double-storey block, next to the empty field facing the PSK flats near the tokong.
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Food there is not too bad. And you can bring your fish and other stuff for them to cook too. This was one of the after church dinner with friends...
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This is one of the better shots taken that night.. fried octopus. First I thought it was the heh-gor-bak. Tasted not too bad!
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'Tjui-keh' or frogs... Frogs are never my favourite but they are usually succulent and tender. We ordered 2 versions. One the above and another one which was rather hot... cooked a bit like the sweet sour style but definitely way hotter. One wrong bite would send you to your drinks!
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Chicken cooked with crab meat sauce, very much like the sharksfin soup style. This dish was quite nice and it's something that I've never taken before.

Pics quality weren't too good as we were more engrossed about dinner conversation. So, I am actually not doing justice to their food. This is one of those places whose cooking style gives you a little something to try. We also tried prawns (fried) and also curry fish. The curry reminds me of the Indian style curry. It was nice enough. We brought our own fish and prawns... so there were plenty to go around.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Tuesday Night Out...

This is not the norm but after badminton yesterday night, we decided to go out for supper. School is still off. The kids don't have to get up early. I don't have to get up early also. 8) Ning is back for her mid-term break and I've not seen her for a long time. So after rushing home to bathe, Ling, Siah, Jovaynne TH, Son, Daughter and I headed for town.

Suffice to say, this being the Raya break ... our first stop saw us making a U-turn out. The newest KFC in town was packed to the brim. I've never seen so many cars in that area since those days when Hankyu Jaya had sales. And the lines were so long.... this is Alor Setar, not enough places for people to go hang out, I supposed. Deprived lot we are... So few places and so many people brought back by this annual festive migration that Malaysia is so famous for.

Next stop was the Sansui hawker centre on Jln Putera. Had our stomachs filled there. The two older gals had a field day. Two boys were no match for them. Girls are natural at yakking...

It's nice to do this once in a while. I've generally watch these young adults and soon-to-be young adults from their kiddo days... They're growing up, I am growing older. We're all at different stops in the circle of life that we're in.....

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Sisters...

Make-up... as in the stuff that one plasters on one's face! The last time I put on them on was like so very long ago. Over the years, my dear sis have made efforts to buy me nice make up kits, some quite nice but some of them never saw beyond the package that they came in.

I've got a wonderful big sis. Strange huh, no matter how old we grow, a big sis will always remain so. My big sis used to make most of my working clothes for me. She even did my evening gown for my wedding, and over the years, I've been recipient of countless outfits. Tailoring was one of her past times in her early days. I've never really had to buy too many work clothes over the years cos every hols when I see her, there'd be a few new outfits for me. But I suppose it helps that I am not a picky dresser. 8)

It's been a long time since both of us left home... but over the years, we've been able to maintain a good and meaningful relationship despite the different places that she's been away to.

So, I guess sisters are a blessings to our lives. Sisters enrich our lives in a different way... if you ask me for specifics, it's kinda difficult to put a finger to each one... but this is definitely one of the blessings of life.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

On Raya Eve...

... we went out with friends. A relaxed dinner outing. Nah! We didn't do anything spectacular. What we did was just hung around in the company of friends. Had a hearty meal, though. 8)

It was sort of a belated birthday visit. For the kids, it was Uncle H'ridas. So we decided to go down to SP for dinner with Haridas and Prabha. Been a long while since we did something like this. Was late in getting to SP... so both of them had to wait a bit. We decided to go for dinner at Jade Restaurant but fortunately for us, there was a wedding dinner. So, we ended up having Indian food, instead. And it was a really nice experience.
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Chennai Curry House....located at Legenda Heights, next to Village Mall in SP. Almost the whole block is a 'makan' area. Looks like SP wins hands down when it comes to choices of food compared to Alor Setar.
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Food at Chennai Curry House was good. I mean, in Alor Setar we're rather deprived of Indian cuisine. So, anything that is more than the regular tosai and capati stalls that we frequent would be something that is 'extraordinary' for us. This is the tandoori chicken with mint sauce. Chicken was moist and nice.
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My photo does no justice to this mutton curry. It's simply delicious! We were all busy tucking in that I forgot to shoot it first before anyone got to it! Ling ordered their house special which was lime mint drink. She wasn't sure at first at Haridas said she might not like it... but the waiter said he'll cancel the order if she didn't like it. In the end, we found the drink okay. It was at least something different.... 8)
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Chennai Curry House provides 2 different dining experience, the alfesco and something more towards 'fine' dining. Food for both areas are different. You cannot sit inside and order the food meant for the alresco dining.
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So, you get to use tables laid with finer cutlery inside, complete with napkins and all the necessary stuff. This is the first time, I've been to a restaurant with 2 different dining areas with different menus. Oh ya! The head waiter said the chefs were hired from a well-known hotel in India.
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Didn't get the pics for rest of the food that we had but I must say that generally the food is nice. Love the way the vegetables were prepared. The herbs in the curries were pleasing to the taste buds and food wasn't that hot that you have to keep reaching out for the drinks.

The waiter said, the food is okay for vegans - separate preparations. We also had two versions of briyani rice - mutton and chicken. I prefer the mutton but again, can't complain much. We tried the different nans that they had... butter/garlic/cheese and I must say that they're good enough to eat on their own. The cheese version was especially nice. Had the potato, ladies fingers and dhal curries. All 3 curries were finger-lickin good!

Maybe my taste buds are not too refined to actually describe the Indian cuisines but all of us enjoyed the food there very much. We'll probably go back there again. And oh yes! I had my first taste of masala tea, flavoured with cardamom. First time I've had spicy tea. It was a good experience.

After dinner, we popped over to Starbucks to get an Expresso shot for Siah... to keep her awake! LOL! You find Starbucks in SP but not our state capital. How's that! Where food is concerned Alor Setar still lacks the choices.
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From there, we went back the house for the birthday cake... on a night like this (no moonlight since it was the eve of Syawal) and in the cool night air, Nancy couldn't help but swing around the palm tree... she was imagining herself in some Bollywood movie, I think... you know those running up and down the hill, going round the bush or tree, music, dancing kinda movie??? LOL!

We ushered the 1st of Syawal in together... 8). It was way past midnight when we got home... but it was a nice night out...

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Freedom to choose..

Choices? Life is full of choices. The mark of a truly free man is the ability to make choices. God gave us that freedom... else he would have created that minus that ability to choose. And with that came the freedom... He allows us to choose. Love and obedience are not forced upon us but for us to choose. Else we'd have been created like robots, behaving just like the computer chips which are designed to do our bidding...

Yet this freedom for many of us, it's something that we take for granted. For some, it's something that is fleeting. Yet for others, it's something that comes with limitations. And yet for many, they have no freedom to choose at all.

I am glad for this freedom to choose. Of course there are some things in life which I can't choose... like my parents but I'm glad for my parents. Who and where I am today would not be possible without them. I'm grateful for the way they put my interest before theirs for without those sacrifices I would not be here!

I'm glad for the freedom to choose my spouse... Dread to think how life would turn out if arranged marriages had still been the norm. Cannot imagine ending up with someone I only get to know on my wedding day.

I'm glad for the freedom to choose my faith... the years of searching as a young adult has impressed upon my heart that my eternity lies with the God of my faith. I searched... read the 'holy books'... the Teachings of Buddha, Bhagavad Gita, The Quran and of course the Bible. And in the end, I returned to the grounding of the faith of my childhood because my search brought me back there. I took up Philosophy.. eastern and western... read them as part of my course and also in my own time. In the end, I made my choice... I am glad that I have that freedom to choose.

Freedom to choose... today I am thankful for that. For when we don't have that freedom, we are but tools and pawns of a greater power play. Because when we cannot choose, the choices made for us toy with our emotions and like string puppets we dance to the tune of the master puppeteer!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Farming, anyone??

I didn't know so many people like farming. Must be something in our blood, I supposed? Farming after all puts on the table. Most of our food comes from 'organized-crop'.... ha! ha! I think almost everyone of us can at least count a farmer in our ancestral lines. And maybe that's why too farming is such a rave among us now. I see the trainee teachers in my school idling their time away farming in the Staff Room... They're turning into die-hard farmers, by the looks of things for they're seem diligent in tending to their crops and livestock.

Welcome to the world of cyber farming! Where plants still need watering, pigs, sheep, ducks go a-wandering and get lost.. and you get messages like this...
"I was tending my farm today when a lost little ducky came walkin' up lookin' all sad and... well, frankly he was ugly, y'all. In a CUTE way, of course.:) Please be on the lookout for this little guy on your farms and help..."
I'm getting lotsa such messages on my FB and I'm beginning to think that there lotsa farmer wannabes among this well-heeled group of people who cannot wait to get back into the sun, roughing out their well manicured nails and smooth skin.

I'm even reading about people leaving a list of to-do things when they go for holidays, with the list being things like water the plants/vegetables, take care of the animals... you know, farming stuff... only to find out that these vegetables, animals are all in the cyber world, made up of a combination of programming and cartoony pics. And they announce the 'harvest' their produce to the whole world! Whatever they do with such produce? Can't eat it also.

Aiyo! If one likes farming so much, go out into the garden, get your hands dirty and plant real plants. You can actually eat your produce, you know? I asked Son whether he's also into online farming. Yup! When asked why? He said because it's fun, nice to farm! Nice feeling.... I'd rather he go pick up a racket and go play some games... It's also fun plus it keeps you healthy. Or go read something... it keeps the mind sharper too. Farming this way? I dunno! But one thing for sure, you definitely don't work out any sweats.... It's a cuckoo world we live in. Cyber farming... I'm sure my grandad will have a hard time making sense of all these... LOL! But with 300 million FaceBookers, I supposed it's not strange to find some 'farmers' among them ..... *shaking head*

Thursday, September 17, 2009

How's This? Another Week of Break!

School break again! One whole glorious week! Raya break!

Not that I don't enjoy work. I do. It's just that of late, things seem to be getting so..... just have no words to describe. Being in the doldrums is probably quite apt a word now. Bazaar and market days in the Staff Room finally coming to an end soon, though... baju kurung, tudung, all kinds of kuih and cakes, titbits and dunno what else (all those direct selling stuff). All I can see is there is always something on the tables for sale.

And this month, I've seen the students' attendance getting from okay to bad. The register is now dotted with so many Os. And I've ceased to chase them for letters of excuse. To have to chase each one of them when the parents can't even seem to make their children attend school... it's an effort of futility. Anyway, the most popular answer is always.. tak larat. I could sense the mood to study deteriorating by the day.... today many of the students come for the duit raya...

Been an uneventful Ramadan month for me. This year I didn't even go to the Ramadan Bazaar (the real ones, I mean). Somehow, the recent H1N1 has made me rather phobic of crowds. Been meaning to go get the Roti John at Jalan Stadium but never made it. Somehow, there've always been things on. Maybe I'll try go catch it with the gals... still another 2-3 days to go.

One week of break... maybe I'll have more time to practise tennis. Just picked it up. Started hitting the wall yesterday. Wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. Of course I'll only know once I start to play the game itself. Googled up the techniques. Just joined RKC; am enjoying the use of the pool and squash courts. The whole family too! Tennis was an afterthought... but I've bought myself a tennis racket. No golf yet. I think I'll leave that for maybe another 10 years. Anyway, I think golf courses sap a lot of our resources. So much for so few.

Whatever it is... I'm glad for this break! Any break from work is always welcomed! Yoo-hooo!!! One WHOLE week! One week of no-need-to-think... In Bolehland, saying one's mind can be very dangerous. Sukumaran has been cowed into making an apology for his shoe garland.... some more 2 police reports. Not that I agree to what he said but to make a police report over this! You'd think our police force got nothing better to do. Anyway, I'm shutting down my brain for a while...

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Mad Tuesday...

This has got to be one mad Tuesday... but this is not a complain. 8)

Came back from school today and fiddled a bit more on the church website which Other Half and I have been working on for the the last couple of weeks. Tried to take a quick 40 winks. Am rather tired these last couple of days. I'm not much of an afternoon napper, especially if I take coffee mid morning, which I did today as I went out for breakfast with a friend. It's fasting month still... so the canteen is closed. The 40-winks didn't work. 8( So I went to do some other stuff. Then sent my kid out for what kids here do.
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After sending her I stopped by Christina's for tea. A bunch of ladies from church had agreed to get together at her place since Poh Choo and Linda are in town, for a time of get-together. We've not seen both for quite some time and it was good to be able to sit down like this. Tea was good as I managed to catch up a bit with a few. Apart from the sembang-sembang, some karaoke-d while some went oohs and aahs over the quilts on displays.

I rushed home at 5.30 and headed straight for the kitchen to get dinner ready. Did a quickie today... fried rice cos Son and I were going for squash with TH. Well, dinner was done by 5.50 and we headed for the Club. Two sets later, it was time to pack my bags and go for my badminton. Didn't play too many games though. Came home, had dinner, bathed and sat down at my comp for a while. Old friend from across the ocean was online with her son. Have not chatted with them for ages. So we chit chatted a bit... then I caught Jamie Oliver on AFC for a short while... and with that, I concluded my Mad Tuesday.

For these things, I'm thankful.... the friends and family they are in my life.

And oh.. btw, Malaysia turns 46 today... over here it's a none event. Sabah and Sarawak, the forgotten states when it comes to this but where $$$ is concerned, they're very remembered. This the 1Malaysia?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Alor Setar now...

Been a year plus since PAS took over Kedah...

So what is new? For starters, the Star was dimmed out and replaced by a Setar, a tree with fruits which have bitter and sourish tastes.. well that's one change that came with a new gahmen! Don't understand why they keep picking on the 'E', trivial matter it is.

Life in Alor Setar continues. About the only blimp that has hogged the limelight was the demolishing of the illegal abbatoir in Kg Berjaya... which was politicized. DAP was dumb enough to pick it up as a cause. The abbatoir has been running illegally for the past 30 years! It was illegal to start with and even though a piece of land had been earmarked to build a proper abbatoir, no one wanted to assume responsibility of building it. So, the illegal one continued to operate even though it was against the regulations. Pity those villagers who had to to bear with it. And of course 'BN papers' took the opportunity to widen any cracks that appeared. That's Malaysian style.... issues are always politicized along racial lines.
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Life goes on pretty much the same. Except that if you look around carefully enough, you'd notice that the City workers are not as efficient as they used to be... but the rot actually set in even before this gahmen took over. Grass is not cut so regularly now.
Rubbish at the Flats
Rubbish is left uncollected for up to a week in some places. It's not so bad in the city area but move to the peripheral areas and you'd see piles of rubbish that can only mount so high because they are not collected as regularly as they used to be. Now the mayor says he wants Alor Setarians to become whistle blowers and report those who litter. I find it funny cos the City Council seems inept now. So if we blow and the rubbish is still not collected, would it make any difference?

We were driving through Bukit Pinang town one weekend and the rubbish along the roadside was piled up like a small bukit. Bukit Pinang would be more aptly named Bukit Sampah! It was the same in Pokok Sena. Small hills of uncollected rubbish sit by the road, a real sore to the eyes... not to mention the health hazard that they pose.

Word in the kopitiam has it that this PAS MB is not a very approachable person. But I see posters of his pictures everywhere. His 'eyes' seem to be looking everywhere but he doesn't seem to notice all these things. One of my friends asked the City workers how come they're not collecting rubbish as oft as they used to. The answer? They have more area to cover now and less rubbish trucks to do the job. And don't know whether the tender for the rubbish collection has yet been renewed it seems. First it was slated for August. Then I heard they're going to sign it in September as they were unable to get all the workers to sign the papers. Same workers, different company!

City Council seems less than efficient. The decorative lights put up along the roads seem to be falling apart. You have lights dangling precariously above. I dread to be under one of those lights when they drop. I wonder whether we can sue the City Council if one of their lights drop on our cars.

Alor Setar used to be a quaint town when I first came. I remember being impressed by its cleanliness and safety. Of course both have been seeing steady deterioration over the years... I wish the authorities would buck up. So, for me the ordinary folk on the road... pot holes, uncut grass, rubbish everywhere... these are after all, issues that are important to us, the rakyat. The PAS gahmen ain't doing a good job in making sure that the City Council sees to these things...

Monday, September 14, 2009

Now Will The Real 1Malaysia Please Stand Up?

This is the real 1Malaysia...and still on the topic of trying to raise the equity of the Bumis... let me digress a little to the latter first.

This fund... just for entrepreneurs for one race.... Eh! I thought in this new 1Malaysia we should give aid regardless of race. What I get is this. They are still saying in Malaysia only one race has difficulties in securing loans. Crutch is still being provided! So you need a fund for them.

I thought to secure a loan you must prove your credit worthiness, not your skin colour.This 1Malaysia is nothing more than paying lip service to create some feel feel good in people. You have some songs written, show it on TV with some touching scenes... but the policies made still smacks of racial undertones. Bah humbug, this 1Malaysia!

So where to you find this 1Malaysia? I think you find 1Malaysia in the hearts of those who are not coloured by what they see. They instead are moved by what is right. The NGO people, the people who speak out on the wrong practices.... etc, etc. I learned something about being fair and justice yesterday night.

Being fair is being self-centered. You know, when you say it's not fair, usually you mean it's not fair to you. Being fair doesn't necessarily mean justice because fairness to you come at a cost for someone. Being fair doesn't necessarily mean you are doing the right thing too. Justice, on the other hand, means doing what is right. And sometimes, doing what is right may cost you or the other party each something personally. What do we have in Malaysia now? Are we playing the being fair game or is it justice that we're espousing?

You don't need slogans or catchy songs for the oneness. You get that 1Malaysia feeling by the actions that you portray, the things you do and to see that justice is being served at all times. Not shouting the fair-game thing... like how my Son always argues with me... this or that not fair to him. It doesn't quite matter whether those 'fair' things are right or wrong, you see. That's self-centredness at work. But he can be quite sensible now sometimes.... thankfully! So, if you were to take the cow head people... these are people who keep shouting about being fair (to them!)... but not espousing justice. Cos doing right here means you have to learn to live with one another.

This after all is Earth... we cannot go elsewhere.... and every living thing use one or more of the renewable resources one way or the other. So, the right thing to do is to learn to accommodate each other... and along the way... maybe mutualism, symbioisis should be the way to go.

Every now and then, when they come out with things like the fund for only one race, you realize that slogans like 1Malaysia is more of a lip service thing than the heart thing. Action and talk still don't quite jive....

Sunday, September 13, 2009

How NOT to increase Bumi equity?

This was what Najib said some time back... from The Star - Present Way to Raise Bumi Equity Dead End... LOL! I'm amazed it took him such a long time to realize that. *roll eyes* Could have just taken a cue from this idiom... Easy Come, Easy Go. This cliche tells us exactly that... what comes easy, goes away easy too. Language is a culmination of life's experience and there are many gems of wisdom from language itself.... Najib needn't have relied on data or 19 years to come to that conclusion. The Malays have had life way too easy... so easy that they've never really learned how to be competitive... in short what little competitive edge they had was lost over the last 19 years through the Bumi-first policy, quota system, etc., etc... so much so that it's not just the competitive edge they lost but also their confidence in their own abilities.

Right from Independence, their special position was entrenched in the Constitution... even deemed as sacred. Any questioning of if by the other races would have earned a hail of brimstone and fire.

Easy come... easy go. Adversity, produces human abilities.... just jump right into history....lots of examples there. The other races have been operating under adversity since 1970. The success of the Chinese for example is because they have to work harder. As a result of that, they became more resilient and 'innovative'. Take a look at the second generation American Chinese... they're not much different from the other Americans. Equal opportunity made them just like everyone else.

We need not look far actually. Life today is better for our kids (the non-Malays). And we, he older gen, deem them to have less competitive edge compared to the previous gen. So is it a coincident that they've lost that extra 'sting' that their parents used to have? Or... their good life has also weighed them down? But there's still this little bit of competitiveness in them because they know they've to work doubly hard for anything because this is Malaysia... where quota, racial divisiveness, double standards are a way of life.

Increasing Bumi equity.. the solution is actually there for all to see.. remove the Bumi only requirement. Compete... we have enough middle class to realize the need for hard work. And if after competition the Malays (Bumis) still lag... then theirs is a lost race! How NOT to increase? Carry on this Bumi first policy.... this 'yours and mine' mindset.... it's a sure recipe that the equity will remain at 19% (or less) for another 2 decades! Crutches! I believe in them but only temporary crutches... temporary crutches help to put a person back on track.. permanent crutches debilitate!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Different Worlds

I grew up with this staple diet of the TV series, Different World, (1987- 1993) It was a spin-off from the Cosby Show, one of my favourites. What struck me was the world that it introduced me to; the world of the blacks in America. And it subtly promoted the virtues of higher education to the African American youths at a time when the many blacks were being plagued by problems like unplanned pregnancy, date rape, racial discrimination, AIDS and gang life.

Different worlds... the world's of the whites and the blacks. That struck me then. Two different worlds!

I think my children's world is an insulated world. Insulated from the 'lack-of-needs'. I'd say theirs is a world of more-than-enough. Remember Silver Spoons? But my son might argue and say that his friends get 'this' and 'that' which he doesn't get and because of that he leads a deprived life. 'This' and 'that' refers to high-end mobiles, cars and more $$$ which is the very reason why I think theirs is an insulated world. The lack of deprivation contributes to some form of depravity?

Enter the world of where 'life-is-a-constant-struggle-because-that's-my-fate (takdir). This is a world where you are resigned to your lot in life. A possible scene. A family of 5 - mom is a housewife but occasionally takes on some jobs. Dad is a labourer who drifts in and out of jobs. Eldest kid is 25 but didn't even complete his Form 3. Married at 19 with 2 kids, he's now selling handphones. His wife doesn't work. He is trying to make ends meet and finding it tough. Rarely does he give his family any financial support.

2nd kid is a daughter is 22 and she dropped out earlier because of a boyfriend. She got married at 16 after finding out she's pregnant. She is now divorced and living with her parents with her daughter. Third kid is another daugther. She is 18. She dropped out of school for a while when she was in Form 4 to work to help ends meet. But she's a bright girl. She did okay for her Form 5. For a kid like this, there is no other option except to continue to Form 6. So she pleaded with her family to allow her to study. They let her with a heavy heart for the 'loss' of her income is really felt. But soon the parents pressure her to stop. They tell her, this is your lot in life. This is your fate. You can't change your fate. Just accept it. Quit school and go to work. Don't have all these lofty ideas in your head about studying. It's not going to change your fate.

The above is fictitious but written with encounters in real life that I've had over the years. You'd think in Malaysia which is becoming more kiasu by the day, everyone would at least understand that an education creates a path for more opportunities. But sadly, in such worlds where fate rules, it's hard to get yourself out of your world into the other worlds. Every step you take to get yourself out of that vicious cycle is mired with obstacles. Fate becomes the excuse for everything, encouraged by ignorance!

Different worlds - my children's and those who think fate put them in theirs.

Friday, September 11, 2009

One More Turn 17...

... and soon there'll be none to turn. This is Tim's turn this time around. Since it's exam season, classes have been off. So we did this instead of the pizza session cum lessons... We went out for dinner. All 4 of them plus me and Daughter. We went to Red Thai Village. This is the new premise at Jalan Stadium. The old one used to be at Jalan Putera.
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Never cease the amaze me how camera shy (still) these boys are. When the camera comes up, the head turns. There seems to be in built-in mechanism that turns the head automatically when a camera is sensed. Well, the day will come. LOL!
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At least I got these two (inset), though it has half turned. The place was packed with people when we got there and we actually had to wait to be seated. The room was especially noisy because of this group of senior citizens... cos it quietened down considerably after they left. LOL!
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Food was okay. It's always nice to be able to sit down and have dinner together. The green curry was not as hot as the previous time when I came here with Son for dinner. These are moments to be savoured! 8) Memories are made of these also. Anyway, here's one more leaving the 'sweet-16' label behind. More and more we talk about the future (theirs that is). Growing up, that's part of the rites of this passage. Moving on.....

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Was Lost But Now Found...

... okay sambung from yesterday's post.

After breakfast, as it was still early and the roads were relatively empty, at Other Half's suggestion, we crossed over to Pekan China to the 'market' area to buy some fruits.
roasted pigs,Pekan Cina
Saw this... roasted pigs all lined up. They probably have takers already. This is the month of the hungry ghost. So, I guess many are buying these roasted pigs for offerings to the spirits. I already have a friend complaining that she's eating way too much meat this month!

We walked around some more... this is my first visit to this 'market' this year. Back in our early days in Alor Setar, I used to go there quite often to buy the 'kuih'. And I bought some for my kids back home.

We were walking back to our car when I noticed this lady walking past me. I turned to look at her a second time as there seemed to be an air of familiarity about her. So there I stood digging into the recesses of my brains.... before it finally hit me! It was that lady who was lost 3 months back! She had sauntered down the road quite nonchalantly... and it took me a while to register.
Alor Setar
My curiousity was aroused for she looked clean and well groomed.... unlike the last time I saw her before the police took her away, smelling of urine, her earrings missing as a result of being relieved by someone, disheveled, bewildered and crying that she didn't want to be locked up... So I told Other Half that I was going to follow her. I followed her to the riverbank where a sampan was waiting.... I could hear her talking to the boatman in Bahasa... the boatman seemed familiar with her.

Then she got onto the sampan. I quickly took some photos of the boatman who seemed amused with my antics. Then the lady turned over... and asked me in Hokkien.. "you taking my photo?" I said yes... She smiled for me. I shouted to her as the sampan moved to the middle of the river.... "Aunty, you can remember me or not?" She said in her 'funny' way..."No, you know-la, my memory not so good"... and smiled again. Then I asked her one final time... "Where do you stay?" She pointed to across the river bank and pointed to a group of houses... She has a home!

Isn't this amazing?... She's okay now. And back with her family! Now wouldn't that make your day? I immediately called friend to tell her of my encounter!

The odds of me meeting her was quite low. Yet I had to bump into her. I had to be reminded that it mattered whether we cared or cared enough to take action. You see, on my own, I don't think I would have stopped. But because my friend did, I stopped too. I had to be reminded too of other things. There were lessons here for me in this encounter that day. Maybe I'd write about that too someday...

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Kafe.. dunno wat name

One more 'makan' place...
Mee Shop Pekan Melayu
This is a shop with no name save for the 'Kafe' word on the wall. We've eaten their fare before when it was located at the old premise opposite the Masjid Nagore (built 1881, I think) near the Post Office, smack in the centre of the town. Back then, it was beside this key shop that shares a premise with a tailor.

This new shop is in Pekan Melayu / Pekan Cina area; the shop where Old Tune Moi Restaurant used to be. Old Tune was done up very nicely in those days... too bad the owner took it back for something that didn't materialize in the end. So, it's now a mee shop.
mee suah,mee soup
Inside it's airy, clean and spacious. They left the big windows intact. But it's kinda sad to see the side road covered with cement now. I used to like the palm trees that surround it... kinda gave it a garden feel in the middle of a concrete jungle. Was reminded of this place by Weng Seng last week when we were over for lunch and so early on Saturday morning Other Half and I went.
mee soup

mee suah soup
Anyway, back to the new shop. What is its speciality? Mee / beehoon / kuayteow / mee suah soup... with the kind of steamed soup that has herbs in it. There are 3 types of soup - duck, chicken and pork ribs.

I had mee suah while he had mee; both in chicken soup. And yup! They were nice, soothing in a way. Light on the stomach. I cooked ribs soup in my slow cooker yesterday night for breakfast this morning.... light and soothing to begin the day with!

You have to be early if you don't want to miss it cos by 10.00 a.m., he would be almost done selling. I counted that the owner probably does slightly more than 200 bowls in one morning. He had these cups of soups steaming in the steamer and he pours a cup into each bowl. It was 8.30 a.m. when we left and already the pail beside the steamer was filled with empty cups.

Once the soups are all gone... he'd be doing yong-tau-fu. This is one enterprising man.. but my morning didn't end with the mee-stall visit. It turned out to be a morning of surprise...

...to be continued

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Malaysia... Gone Cuckoo??

This is history in the making.... kinda like Hari Ini Dalam Sejarah
  1. This has got to be the most 'interesting' times. Ramadan is coming to an end soon. And I have never seen so many events unfolding before in this holy month for the Muslims. The parade of the cow head and the screaming-shouting flers who dominated the 'dialogue' session between residents of Section 23 and the Selangor State Gahmen. Mostly was one sided though... the screaming-shouting flers were doing all the screaming and shouting. And one teacher said, if build temple crime rates would go up and got bad smell... I am so ashamed of my fler teacher punya fikiran sempit. If anything tops the list.. these two sacrilegious acts to their holy month have to be the tops.
  2. The caning of Kartika.... seems they are going to cane the woman for drinking. I bet there are many Muslim men who drink. But as always, it's the women who are targetted. Women more bully-able, I guess. And then the Home Ministry says they've come out with a method to cane her.. she can wear her baju kurung, the caning will be like a light tap on her butt, I presume... These guys just don't relent. On the same righteous note, why don't they go after the footballers who wear shorts when playing football? Or cane Mirzan Mahathir for being the director of San Miguel Corp, whose business include producing the San Miguel beer?
  3. You can end up dead just being interrogated by the authorities. Scary! One guy walked in for interrogation and ends up dead. They claimed he jumped because he was pressured; he had done something wrong... everything the deceased's fault. No fault from their side at all... and he's only a witness. So is it surprising then the suspects end up dead in their 'possessions'?
  4. RM23 million mansion. Plus the revelation that the tuanpunya mansion had also spent state money to take his family (and maid) for trips to Disneyland, etc..... The ignorant fool in me didn't realize that such kinds of houses are becoming a norm among certain groups of people. Who can forget the Istana Zakaria? Istana Zakaria of course pales in comparison to this RM23 million palatial abode.
  5. H1N1... don't know what to make of it. Controlled or no control? And it's not the disease I am talking about. I refer to the data released. What actually is the mortality rate? RM2.6 million for thermometers... still haven't seen the thermometers in my school, I think. But they say they are taking temperatures for the UPSR... is it every school or just KL schools? Awareness of the disease is still lacking. If another virulent strain hits... most of us would be dead! Or it could just be something the spin-doctor generated.. to generate money for drug companies, probably.
  6. By-elections. I think I've never seen this many by-elections since March last year. In 18 months, 9 by-elections. PR - 8 and BN - 1. What is the most dangerous job now? To be an elected rep! You are very likely to drop dead. Used to be PAS' domain.. this dropping dead on the job. Suddenly after this cow thingy, a BN rep in an area with almost 20% Indian reps. What is the divine message here for us all, huh? It's like somebody's being given chance after chance to redeem themselves... but still tak jalan.
  7. PKFZ scandal... just never cease to amaze me how much bigger each 'scandal' keeps getting. And to think BMF scandal back so many years ago was bad or that our forex exchange loss was about the worst it can get. This is an even bigger payload! Seems the money made can hire that watzhisname former Minister of Finance (yes Daim fler) as gardener. Something to the tune of RM12 billion! Sheesh! That's our money they're 'embezzling'.
  8. Malaysia, the land of plenty... but our people still suffer starvation. Hard to imagine how despite the sun and tropics, the lush greenery and rain throughout the year, the Penans still face a bleak future in their own tanahair. Maybe the tanahair is not theirs? Certainly looked that way.
  9. The extension of IGP's service... so many protest but still he's appointed. This is what they mean by kebal, I guess. I don't know. Don't understand these matters. Only that I keep reading here and there, he's not wanted. But he's staying!
  10. Then there's always the beer issue, the concert issue... everything seems to point towards protecting the sensitivities of one race only. Looks like someone wants to score high on the morality scale with scant regards to others. Where is the tolerance? Feels like we are moving into Robert Mugabe's zone.
  11. Najib says 1Malaysia, Muhyidin says Ketuanan Melayu, the pony tail guy in the Sec 23 meet-the-residents-fracas says 'bangang', Hishamuddin making U-turns, Khir Toyo calling cows stupid, Tiong King Sing says I donate, at last count dunno how many millions. At least Samy had the sense to say gila. Why didn't Tiong give the money to feed the Penans, huh? Anyway, if we look at their niat, I wonder which direction they are heading. Up or down to the netherworld?
  12. And oh yes... MCMC interviewed Malaysiakini for reporting but no immediate action taken on cowhead people... you intimidate the 'whistleblowers' while the perpetrators get honoured places beside the Home Minister.... some more have the latter speak on their behalf. How's that for Malaysia Boleh?
The good things??
  1. We finally have our own Scorpene subs! We have 'eyes' ... oops sorry, sonar underwater!
  2. Carol Chu is pregnant... seems to be a big news cos she seems to be making it to our newspaper... all for carrying Andy Lau's child. Hmmm... it pays to be married to an earthly "Heavenly King".
  3. ... it seems the AG says the cowhead people will be charged in court. If they are really charged and the charge sticks, maybe there's hope yet..... keeping my hopes up for some justice from this gahmen for a change.
  4. eerr... I can't seem to think of any other pluses.... *sheepish*
So has Malaysia gone cuckoo? I hope not.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Kafe G Give...

Another night out with the kids last Thursday... the usual 'ensemble' minus Daughter this time but add Jov and Son... Trial Exam season (end of first week), so no tuition for these 2. The place we hung out this time was Kafe G-Give, located in the same row as Cafe Seventeen on Jln Kuala Kedah, next to Keat Hwa 1 Secondary School.
Jln Kuala Kedah
So, what do people do when they get together? Conversations! But the conversation flavours were different. The 3 SPM flers talked about, well SPM things. While we 3 non-SPM flers talked about everything else except SPM. LOL!

Okay comments about G-Give. Sound echo is very strong cos there is nothing on the wall to act as dampeners. So I guess the sounds were bouncing everywhere. Made conversation kinda stressful. It's the same for most cafes here... including the adjacent Cafe Seventeen. Guess Alor Setar has not reached that level of 'sophistication' yet. He! He!
pop ice,chewing gum drink
Next, the drinks... presentation okay-lah but won't say the same of the taste. Most of the drinks were too diluted for our liking. They should at least try to make sure there is oomph in the flavours. TH's drink was the most interesting one... chewing gum flavour. 8) But we saw the same poster of the pop ice drinks at PSK on Friday. Guess it's one of those franchise thingy that's going around now.
Fried rice
Food - not much choice. It's either fried this or that. I had sweet sour fish with rice. Ling had golden brown fried rice, Siah had Kampung fried rice, Son with his black pepper chicken rice, Jov and her sweet sour chicken rice and TH and his tomyam fried rice. All of us agreed not to order the same thing. Hey! I remember what everyone had! My memory not failing yet.... 8)

Service was VERY slow. There were 6 of us and another 2 patrons before us. By the time the first dish came, the drinks were not cold any more. You get much faster service at hawker stalls which serve the same fare. This is an area that they could improve on.

There is a tuition centre there... guess maybe that's who their target patrons are. Students... Food is okay-lah. They need to work on their drinks! I tried all the 3 makan joints there... including Old Town.

The night out was good.. we sembang about the future, mainly theirs. Touched a little about the possible careers that the three SPM flers might want to consider, cracked a few jokes. Jov didn't want to go back... I guess I can't blame her. With the trials on, hanging out like this was a luxury and felt kinda like a forbidden fruit... which of course will always 'taste' nicer. In a couple of months, time is something she'll have lots of. The 2 boys have to go 'jadi askar'... direct translation from Hokkien.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Salted Chicken...

salted chicken,pulau tikus
This is the salted chicken(yiam keh) which Ling and Siah brought back from Penang... I might as well do a little promo here since it's actually not bad. Ha! Ha! Guess how we found out that Penang has this? From our GPS! LOL! Thanks to all those mapper-enthusiasts...

And guess how I 'ordered' my 'yiam-keh'? Via FB! ROFL! Was on FB when I started a conversation with Ling to lepas geram.... but as the conversation flowed from the geram to rides in the funfair (with Siah) to pening lalat because of the rides.. then it drifted to salted chicken.
salted chicken,pulau tikus
So I placed my order and the gals were kind enough to drive all the way to Pulau Tikus just to get them... some more chicken was 'on their mother's house' some more!! Kononnya for us to sample... Kah! Kah! To be able to enjoy nice food is one of life's blessings. To be able to enjoy nice food from the hearts of friends.... that's a super dose of blessing!
salted chicken,pulau tikus
Anyway, I waited for Other Half to come back from work and the whole family had a finger-lickin time with the chicken. Verdict... it's better than the original salted chicken from Ipoh. Have already placed orders for the near future. 8)

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Malaysia: What goes with the H1N1 situation?

I understand that the crowds at our hospitals in Alor Setar have almost returned to normal and are more manageable.. unlike a couple of weeks ago when it was like a mad house. It's the same at the clinics... things have returned quite normal here for now.

So, is the worst over? WHO seems to be of the opinion that a second wave is likely and that the H1N1 strain is now a dominant strain. Which is not surprising considering the wild run that the virus has had here in Alor Setar.

What got me thinking about this issue again is the death of BN's state assemblyman for Bagan Pinang, Azman Mohd Noor. From Malaysiakini, His son Hairol Asfani, 22, said Azman was admitted to the hospital at 3.30am due to fever. The Star has reported the cause of death as blood disorder... (septicemia??) Earlier reports stated that he died of a heart attack.
"He complained of fever but was able to walk unassisted. After the breaking of fast yesterday, his condition worsened and he was unable to walk," he said.
Among his medical history was he had gone for heart bypass but that was in May. And a few days ago, I heard over the news about claims of 3 deaths in Negeri Sembilan which some claim were the result of H1N1. Sounds kinda worrying... earlier a teacher here died under circumstances almost similar to the State Assemblyman. H1N1 had something to do with it? I don't know.

The information from our Health Ministry indicates that the death rate is very controlled now. I don't know whether it is controlled because the health care and public awareness have contributed to it or (more insidiously) because the data is flawed. I've to keep reminding myself that this is Bolehland.... where the perception of corruption, gilaness, scandals, lies is at a high state.

What I do know is we've to be on the lookout for our own good. We cannot quite depend on the gahmen. Life is fragile.. we are very vulnerable...

My new toy... HP Mini 1000

Finally got ourselves a netbook, a HP Mini Netbook 1000.... and so far, we are quite pleased with it.
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So, now I'm back to switching back and forth between my Mac and a PC. Gone back to the 'Dark Force" mainly because the netbook is small and light. With a mobile connection, it's actually not much hassle lugging it around. Can kepit the bag with 2 fingers and still won't drop! 8) The weight (or the lack of it) is a real plus point! Last Sunday night, I took it to church and as I was listening to the sermon, typed down the sermon synopsis for the church website. Published it after dinner as most of the work was done while listening. One stone, two birds kinda thing. And the easiness of bringing this thing around made things all the more easier. 8)

Specs wise.. good enough for us to surf.. with the mobile broadband, it gives you enough room to do some real reading and see good-sized pictures. Smart phone screens are still way too small for comfortable viewing of web pages. The Atom N280 processor is good enough for us to upload pictures and even do some touching up. Of course, you can't multitask too much with it cos it'll just hang, processor power (lack of it) plus lack of RAM probably. 160GB of HDD is also sufficient to store things on the go.
HP Mini 1000
Keyboard size is comfortable enough for typing. But I'm a bit uncomfortable with the Up, Down, Left and Right buttons though cos they are smaller than the rest of the keys. Been hitting the adjacent buttons as a result. And the small mouse pad means less space to manouver. A lighted keypad would be a plus point... then I don't have to be hitting the backspace button so often in the dark. 8)

Do wish that the battery life can be slightly longer but what can you expect from a 3-cell. A 6-cell will increase the battery life but might mean I no longer can kepit the bag safely with my 2 fingers. And HP batteries are so expensive. So, I'll have to make do with the 2 hour plus on a single charge for now. I hear Nokia just launched a netbook with more than 12 hours of battery life, which is just simply awesome, I think.

Would be nice though if there is a SIM card slot incorporated. Then there is no need to make sure I don't forget my modem. But overall I can't complain much. Oh ya! There was some hoo-hah about their Syncables software too (supposed to sync seamlessly with the Desktop) but I've yet to use that.

Now I wonder if Apple were to come out with their own version of Netbook... lotsa rumours flying around on that too but knowing Apple products, it'd be a tardy bit more expensive... And since I've started using a PC, I'm back to facing the system 'hanging' more on me too... 8( That's one of the more noticeable things.. cos that's a cause for trepidation when saving my work. When the screen stays unmoving for too long after you've hit the Save button, you wonder whether you have to hit the Crtl-Alt-Del button next. Kinda makes you want to pull your hair and &*(%$^ Windows... I've digressed...tis not the software that's the focus here but the hardware. HP Mini 110-1006TU is actually not too bad-lah.
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And oh ya! I also got a wireless mouse for my HP Mini for RM55. The nano receiver is so unobtrusive that I plug it there all the time. Good thing this Mini comes with 3 USB ports. Earlier I bought one Logitech Nano 550 for RM159 for Other Half. It's supposed to have at least one year battery life. This China brand (Cliptech) that I bought claims a 3 month battery life. I'd be quite happy with that if this claim is true.

So, there... another venture into 2 gadgets.

Friday, September 4, 2009

LDP...Latihan Dalam Perkhidmatan

LDP is not the Liberal Democratic Party of Japan (LDP just lost their power in Japan, btw) ... it stands for Latihan Dalam Perkhidmatan in the Malaysian Civil Service.

Recently I had to fill in this survey from JPN (Education Department) on Kajian Keperluan Latihan Guru secara School Based dan Ukuran Kecekapan Guru ICT (see how rojak we've become in the use of language. Want to use English but cannot use 100%). I've been filling surveys like this a few times now and I'm beginning to abhor filling them... cos they seem to serve no purpose except to make up some more paper work or further advance someone. Worse still to give the impression that a lot is being done when it's only very little.

Okay.. survey and forms I've been filling. But the school has never held any of those courses that I think would help me. Sometimes they may hold a course which might be useful but those they call in to conduct these courses were either not knowledgeable or interesting enough. So it becomes a 'waste-time' affair. How would you feel if you know that a particular course facilitator is merely crapping to pass our time or fulfill a requirement? That's the quality of moderators and facilitators we are getting. Once in a blue moon, maybe one of real calibre shows up... but like I said, that is a once in a blue moon occurence.

And now they throw in this veiled 'threat' of if you do not have your 7-day attendance for such courses, you will not be entitled to your APC, promotion, etc, etc... So, I get it, it's not important whether you teach well or do the things that teachers are supposed to do well. What is important is you attend those courses..... even though if they are a waste of time and practically useless. Now you see how those people who are 'incompetent' can move up?

All you need to do is know which tree to bark at.... and you'll get your promotion. A friend of mine wrote this apt post... Power Versus the Milk of Human Kindness. The same thing happens in every school. And to think we wonder where our mediocrity comes from.

We were also told that the KP (Panitia Heads) will have to (from next year onwards) conduct 3 days of LDP... I kesian them.. KPs teach the same number of classes. Now another extra burden is thrown onto their shoulders... how can you expect KPs to conduct LDPs? This is another case of grandiose planning and failure to execute. Plan and make it look good on paper... when problems arise, pass the buck down. Every school has a unit set up to conduct the LDP.. problem is the Senior Teacher who heads this also has to teach classes and be involved in other administrative stuff. Moreover, he or she also may not have the necessary expertise or exposure him/herself. Ever wonder why many Heads or Senior Assistants are rather free? Well, these are the smart ones... at delegating the jobs. The teachers get burned out... they don't.

You want to train and expose... you have things such as as computerized data... use them, sort them then identify and conduct real courses. It's more work for the planners but it will serve to improve and motivate teachers. And get the right people... not just who can kelentong nonsense that sounds like the real thing to facilitate. Right now... there is this lack of organization cos the people up there either are too lazy or lack the imagination. Or probably they're just products of mediocrity too!

So at the end of it, what they have is this... lotsa paper work to show off and nothing much else. It's mostly show... open up and you'll find lots worms. It could have been something that would have helped us become better teachers but its implementation has all but render it another typical tunjuk dan lagak (show and tell) to make someone look real good!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Cafe Seventeen

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Tried out this place finally. I've been told about this place by a couple of my friends. Cafe Seventeen... guess maybe the young people are their target clientale. So, on another Thursday night, Siah, TH, Daughter and I decided to give it a try. The place was kinda empty when we arrived at almost 8 p.m.
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There's a little karaoke corner with a comfy red sofa set to go with it. And they have wifi ... saw a P1 Wimax modem.
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The menu looked rather worn out and the choices are your normal western food. They serve 'calanary'.. ordered that. I think they got the spelling wrong. The cafe is too red for my liking. TH said the place felt stuffy. Service wasn't very good. The waitress kept sending wrong orders our way.

But the food wasn't particulary bad. Daughter had fish and chip. They used dory fish and the batter coating was quite tasty. The fish didn't have any smell. Sometimes the dory fish served has a 'mud' smell.
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TH had chicken chop. He said it was quite good. Meat was soft.
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Siah had a sort of mixed grill... I forgot what's the name already.. Triple Mix or something like that. It was a bit too peppery for her liking but she said if one likes black pepper sauce, it's actually quite okay. She ordered that cos it was on the set thingy.. you get a soup and drink. Makes it quite worthwhile!
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I had lamb chop. Not bad... one of the slightly better ones, if I may say. The big white lump under the meat is the mashed potato. Kinda looks like a swimming turtle with the piece of capsicum doubling up as it's flippers. LOL!

The place started filling up as we were finishing. If you go after 8 p.m. on Thursdays, the ladies will get a free drink. No wonder people started coming in later. Price wise... reasonable. I'd rate this cafe's western as quite nice. Where is this place? Well, it's one of the shops in the new block of shops next to Keat Hwa 1 Secondary School on Jln Kuala Kedah. Can't miss it!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

RON95 and Minyak Naik Lagi..

The much anticipated RON95 finally made its appearance on 1st Sept... with a 5 sen increase to the harga minyak. So, now instead of retailing at RM1.75, it's now RM1.80. I managed to pump one tank last week when it was made available in Shell.

It was supposed to replace the RON97 back in May but due to some reasons, the release was delayed. Probably the world price had something to do with it... Anyway, this was the hadiah Hari Merdeka to Malaysians...

Anyway, there isn't much noise regarding this round of increase. Probably cos most are not aware of it. Plus the fact that the 'price increase' actually is no increase from the price that we've been used to which was at RM1.80 for RON97 earlier. Not many people actually notice the change... in Shell they now use the yellow nozzle for RON95. The other nozzle (I think it's green) is for RON97 (now a premium grade) which sudah naik harga to RM2.05 .......so the gahmen probably picked a good time to increase it...

So will prices of goods go up?? The last time the petrol price went up, everything went up... then when the petrol price came down.. didn't hear of prices coming down. What goes up in this case stays up.... LOL!

Electric cars should be the way to go... but I was told that the Toyota Prius (and I've been eyeing that) is priced like a Camry. Want to go green must pay more some more? In countries like the US and Japan, I think they give a rebate to encourage people to go green! It doesn't pay to go green here.. No! It doesn't have to pay to go green... but at least don't tax any more than necessary-lah.

Aiyo! I think maybe I'll go for something cheaper and use what is saved for the petrol then. I'm not asking for the car to be priced really cheap but just because of our Proton, not only do we pay more for cars but it also exacts a toll on the environment, cos hybrid cars become really expensive. A Nissan Latio, with the same capacity as Prius is RM80K cheaper! Sheeesh! This is another reason why I don't want to get another Proton....

Maybe I go diesel..... been drooling over Mitsubishi Pajero Sports. Ha! Ha!

Update (5/09/09): Found this article on MT and it was informative.. this RON95, RON97 thingy. The lack of understanding often makes us victims of our own kebodohan.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Centralized Trial Exams...UPSR, PMR, SPM, STPM

Today the SPM Trial Exam for Kedah will start. It's a centralized exam... meaning all the students in the state sit for the same papers.

That's the practice for quite some time now... each state will have its own trial exams for all the major public exams... UPSR, PMR, SPM and STPM. The setup of the state trial exams mimic that of the public exams. Teachers are called up from various schools from various districts. They meet and discuss the questions to be set... very often some of those who sit in the panel might be those involved in the national setup for the public exams. So, it is always prudent to pay attention to the questions. And students go into a frenzy to collect the questions from all the states and also the residential schools, weeks prior to the actual exams.

But one of the issues which seem to plague the trial exam questions is the way that they seem to find their way to the students' hands before the exam even begins. There have been years when copies were available even before the exam started. And I suspect too that there are also leakages from those involved in setting the questions right down to the printers, teachers and administrators. The security for it is loose cos there are schools where the heads don't bother about it.

Questions leak also because teachers who give tuitions 'leak' the questions because they want their fame to spread.... that their students do well. Results for trial exams can be seen and felt quite fast... so good words are passed around even before the school closes for the year. By the end of the year, when tuition classes open for registration, many of the seniors' words would still ring fresh in their juniors.

So this trial exam thing feels like a farce now. There are schools here who conduct their own internal trial exams after the compulsory trial exams... because the teachers don't trust the results of the latter. I think it's justifiable. The state trial exams can actually be a good thing... but like everything else, when integrity is compromised...... well, we all know what can happen.

So, sometimes I wonder why do it, when the system reeks with leakages everywhere. Cos one of the things it's capable of doing is to lull those students who have actually done the questions prior to the exam into a false sense of everything-is-okay with them. And we also seem to be condoning this acts of cheating. Our kids grow up used to having such kind of questionable practices...