Saturday, October 31, 2009

Icebox-ed...

One day I borrowed an icebox from someone for my boy. After that, I returned it but she didn't want it back. Apparently she has no place to store in her big house. I too didn't want it but being lazy to argue with this really insistent fler, I relented and let it sit in my hall. She said she was giving it to me as she didn't want to clutter up her house. Later, she said to let my girl have it since she was using it as her play table. But I finally turned it into my 'shoe rack'. I wanted to give it away to the church, but she deemed it too new and too nice to donate it. Guess it's always hard to give the best fruits to God....

So I let it sit there, waiting for another opportune moment to convince this fler to donate her unwanted but 'new' Icebox, since she has always said how good people at the church had been to her and all that. Maybe that's a little hogwash too? At the back of my mind, I guess I knew she wanted a place to store her Icebox so that she can have it back when she needed it. But I allowed myself to be manipulated to keep that silly Icebox. Silly me! Well, she finally asked it back.... LOL! And at the end of it, I was made to feel as though I had been done a great favour by being allowed to 'keep' it. Anyway, of course she can have her unwanted Icebox back! So much for sincerity. And if I go cakap some more, denials will come like crazy... good thing Other Half heard all those "I don't want it, I give you".... siao. But I guess the fault is not hers cos I've always known that she's manipulative and I allowed it cos it was too much of a hassle to pick up an argument over such trivial issues...

Anyway, maybe the threshold level has gone down somewhat, I have to remind myself to let my yes be yes and no be no in future.... lebih senang my own hidup and also to steer clear of such characters.....

I think all of us come across our share of such characters or we are also such characters at one point or the other. I hope that is one beast I will not unleash.... cos the feeling of being manipulated sucks!

There's another story of cans of paint which I didn't want but ended up in my house cos it was forcibly thrusted into my car...... but that rambling I'll leave for another day. LOL!

Duh... icebox gone cold......... beep-beep, beep-beep, beep......, beep............______*getting fainter*

Friday, October 30, 2009

Tuition

Was driving home at around 10.00 p.m. one night and noticed that many cars had school-going kids inside. And one word came to mind... I made a passing remark to Other Half about how much petrol can be saved if kids don't go for tuitions. There will be a significant amount of reduction in the emission of gasses in Malaysia at least. It's end of the year, and right now even some of the post UPSR students are still attending tuition - to prepare for next year! Whatever happened to free time?

Imagine also the time available to be spent at home as a family. Right now, I think many families exist without really much time together... though these days the general consensus seems to be the emphasis on quality time. Guess quality now refers to the little time that's left. I think young people today are left to their own devices quite a lot.

Parents seem to think of tuitions as a gain. I think it's a loss. It has caused the kids to lose opportunities to dream, learn new skills, pick up games... basically pick up life's other skills and values from play. These days everything is rigidly learned. So, when you throw them into a situation, it's kinda difficult for them to cope.

And that's life for them... being ferried to school and back, then ferried out again for tuitions. Parents' lives evolve around that. Everything is rushed... and you even have meals in the car to save time. I've seen many parents doing that, these meals-on-the-go (on the wheels).

So, from the time these kids enter Std 1 (some even younger) they lose their time and begin an adult-like schedule. School followed by tuition and more tuitions sometimes. And this goes on until the end of their schooling days... 11-13 years!

Look at the state of sports and games in most schools today. We hardly get exceptional athletes from non-sports schools. Many kids are too busy chasing time for tuitions. In the rural schools, where once teachers used to make a difference, the new breed of teachers are hardly able to mentor the students cos the teachers themselves are products of the same mill. Kids today are generally 'soft'.. for many the main game they play is computer game.

Part of the fault lies with the teachers. The general perception is teachers don't teach. I think that is only part of the problem. The other part lies with the parents. Some teachers give the excuse of not teaching in class because the students take tuition. Add that to the fact that kids who go for tuitions generally do not pay attention in class because they feel that their tuition is adequate, you have a vicious cycle in the making. Parents send their kids for tuitions because they want their kids to have an extra edge. In the end the parents and their kids lose out as they have to fork out more resources for the tuition thingy. And their quality of life also takes a beating.

Another problem is the quality of teachers that we churn out these days. I see many half baked teachers these days. Half baked teachers are teachers who don't seem to know their subject matter very well. And many of them come 'highly-qualified'. You have teachers with a Masters but who do not teach very well... you have language teachers who ask students to copy essays because they say students can't write. You have Maths teachers who cannot seem to solve problems and Physics teachers who don't seem to have a good grasp of concepts. I have come across trainee teachers who sleep on the job... and you wonder how such people are accepted into the teaching profession. So it's back to the drawing board again - and the solution called tuition!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

A Page From The Past...

The wonder called technology and good old human resourcefulness have enabled me to reconnect with friends I used to hang out with in uni. Been almost 20 years and each of us have charted our own lives. But recently after an old friend tracked me down yet once again, it started a mini avalanche of old friends entering my present. Truly a page from the past.

It's great to be in touch with this bunch of friends whom I used to hang out at the Dataran at the UM Arts Faculty, shared some crazy (and very sane) moments, ... Sharon, Tammy, Suan See, Siew Mun and Mei Chin.

20 years is a long time... I've caught a glimpse of Africa from the one with the sense of adventure. But somehow am not surprised by the work that she's doing now, helping to feed the poor. My good old roommate is where I'd expect her to be also, looking good and successful. Another one who has always been a staunch supporter of women's issues - and she is right in that too. Have always appreciated and enjoyed her sensibility. One more is in the MOE, doing what she does best. Another one, lecturing also...

Funny how friends are our mirrors to a certain extent... they provided a glimpse into the possibilities in our future. As I looked at these friends I hung out with during my young adulthood, I see a pattern of similarity too... birds of the same feather do flock together. And even though the colour of the feather may not be the same, they are still the same type of birds. LOL!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Say what you mean...

.... mean what you say. They may sound almost the same but hold different meanings. Cos the former says what is in the heart. The latter may just be words you say for reasons known to you but still after they have been uttered, you have to try to honour them.

Saying what you mean is probably easier on the conscience cos it doesn't create conflict for yourself per se. Meaning what you say is more complicated as what you say is not actually what you believe in but you say it for various reasons. It's not actually what you hold on to.

That's probably one thing that all of us come face to face everyday with people around us. And I am reminded by this verse from Matthew 5:27; Simply let your 'Yes' be 'Yes,' and your 'No,' 'No'; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.

The first and second parts are easy to understand... it's the third part (anything beyond this comes from the evil one) that has finally sunken into my head. Saying what you mean, on many issues might land you into squirmy situations; so we dwell on the vague but that also land us into squirmy situations, albeit the ones on the opposite end.

'Yes' and 'No' are simple words. But the execution of them is sometimes very difficult because we inherently want to please people and ourselves. So, sometimes we mouths lots of untruths to cover one half-truth for another. The cycle repeats itself until lo and behold, suddenly you have a hill of half-lies, full-lies (a lie is a lie actually). It becomes its own vicious cycle. Some people call it compromise.

The battles take place in your mind; each time we don't say what we mean or mean what we say.... anything beyond the yes and no; they come from the evil one.

So, simple as this may sound, this one sentence sums up another one of life's priceless lessons for me, of how we can avoid a lot of problems in our lives by just living up to the Yes and No. But to live up to it... it's certainly a tall order, cos we're not just up against those two 3-letter words. In them, contain all the desires and moral absolutes and each time we utter any one of these 2 words, a tug-of-war begins in our minds.

I've always more or less know this but it sort of became clearer lately. My ramblings for the day.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Restoran Berputar Menara Alor Setar

This is one of Alor Setar's famous landmarks - The Telekom Tower. We've had base jumps from this tower a couple of times. But right almost at the top is a restaurant - Restoran Seri Angkasa Menara Alor Setar.
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This was last Thursday. We had our year-end annual makan and it was held here. The place is nice enough... how not to be? You get to dine with a view of the whole city! 360 degrees!
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When my friend and I got there, the fountains were working. Yay! I've not been to this place for a long, long time. I pass by quite often but don't stop. It was nice to hear the sound of water. 8)
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The layout of the food area looked okay from afar. But when you move nearer, the cups looked as though they've not been used for some time. There were stuff 'pasted' to the side of many cups.
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Soon it was time to eat. But the taste was nothing spectacular. In fact I think the kuih from Jln Tun Razak, sold by the old pakcik beside the fire station is far better.... and probably cheaper. We had Nasi Goreng Cina which was really bland. Also there were some crab balls which were nothing to shout about, chicken which I didn't take and popiah which were rubbery. I made the mistake of taking two. I was made to understand that they charged us at RM30 per head. I think RM300 per table can get us way better food in a sit down meal. Pizza Hut would have been more satisfying or Rasa Mas for that matter.
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The men beat us to the food... no chilvary here. LOL! We fight for gender equality now... so I guess there's nothing to complain. Oh yes! There was laksa but it was a little bland also. Not enough stuff inside... quite obvious. Food tastes only as good as the stuff you put in.

The restaurant was very warm. The only comfortable place was at the lift area. You actually sweat as you eat. The restaurant was supposed to revolve but it didn't... in the end someone asked whether we'd like to have it move... most said no. In the heat, I think to have it revolve probably would make many of us pusing kepala also.
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This should be a very nice dining place cos of the bird's view that one gets over Alor Setar but service and food leave much to be desired. If not for being 'forced' to go there, I don't think I'd want to go back there again. I think if they want more people to go there, they'd have to improve on what is important for a restaurant - food and service! Thumbs down to this Restoran Seri Angkasa. This is the first time, I think a makan place is really a waste of money to go for a meal there!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Looking Good...

You know, almost every someone I know has a daughter or son studying medicine. Medicine seems to be the choice vocation for many now. And parents scrooge and save to send their kids for this really expensive course! And lately I am hearing of so many people going for lifts... eye, breast, nip and tuck kinda thing. The quest for eternal youth. So, if you want your kids to earn loads of $$$, tell them to take up plastic surgery.

Ever wonder why we don't see so many grandfathers and grandmothers out with their grandkids now? Most of grandparents look very young these days. They don't look like grandparents. LOL! Of course some are blessed with naturally youthful genes. But for many of us, it takes real effort.... and lately pain too, going under the knife and bearing with the discomfort and pain sometimes for days.

Nip and tuck, botox, wonder creams, tattoos, hair colouring, waxing, chemical peels, body wrap, lip plumping... I guess growing old gracefully is kinda archaic now. People will just suddenly look very old... or not at all. I guess most of us is into looking good all the way to the little casket which will be our final home for our earthly body.

So who makes all the money, and we are talking amounts running into hundreds of thousands here for some individuals? Beauticians, hair dressers and the plastic surgeons who practise lifestyle medicine and not reconstructive surgery.... so if you want your kids to earn tonnes of $$$ this is where they should head. Of course you are more likely to be sued as well but that's still quite a distant away where Malaysia is concerned. Our malpractice laws still tak berapa ada...

So, looking good... life's process has now taken an articial twist... you don't grow old (well, at least you don't look your age). You just drop dead 'looking young'. How's that for a pseudo presentation of youth, huh? Since we can't find the elixir of youth, the chemicals and 'knife' of youth also will do-lah! 8) Temporary halt! LOL!

And looking good... I've friends telling me they don't swim now cos the chlorine in the pool will wreck their hair and skin, playing games will expose their body to the harsh sun and freckles will appear. Exercise has taken a more elegant twist too... it's gone indoor for all these people. There's another lady who says she doesn't go out once the sun is high. If she needs to, big umbrellas, hats will be her companions. The quest for eternal youth... I wonder whether I'll go that path...

Sunday, October 25, 2009

How's This For A Saturday?

Had a really packed Saturday.... got early in the morn and the first thing I did was to send my car to the workshop. The workshop has been one of my more frequented place the past week... both cars underwent major jobs.

Anyway, after breakfast we decided to make a quick trip to Switch in Seberang Prai to dress up Other Half's Ipod. It was the quickest shopping trip... Oh ya! And the Snow Leopard cometh to my MacBook from this trip. Gone is the old Leopard. And it is as good as the reviews. But the best part of this short excursion was a trip within the trip to get a swimsuit from Parkson. 8)

Rushed home with time for lunch to spare before heading for the Church Medical Outreach Talk. This is the 3rd edition for this year and it's on The Prevention of Osteoporosis... too lazy to write to much about that again as I've just updated my church blog on it. I got my bone scan done too... Yay! My bone density is still within normal range.

Then it was back home... and I rushed to update the church blog before our next assignment. Yesterday night was also the Chinese Service's first anniversary celebration. Other Half played for the Chinese Service and took some pics. I tagged along and kaypoh-ed as photographer - plus also to help them finish the food. Chinese Service has fellowship over food after every service! Must make it a point to drop by more often. LOL! But the sermon was good - the speaker talked about the different stages of life; the happiness that stems from them. Childhood, adulthood (married & family life), old age and eternity.
  1. Happiness during childhood is almost automatic - free of cares and worries and nestled safely in our parents' loving care.
  2. Adulthood - happiness from the family life, to be able to love and be loved in return
  3. Old age - happiness from being loved by our children and their offsprings....
  4. Eternity - this one that is unsurpassable. Happiness in eternity as a result of being children of God, being saved.
Sometimes we have all the first 3 but sometimes not. But the 4th is something that we should be mindful of.

It was a really packed day. In between, while I updated the blog in the evening, Other Half still managed Lil One for a swim... she came home really happy that she got her dose of water at the pool. LOL! Anyway, I'm looking forward to the week to come, away from the cares of work. For once, work is going to be fun!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Ipod Touch... ordering online

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This little box came all the way from Suzhou, China. I could have bought it here but since they throw in some engraving for online orders, I went for it. Anyway, it was for Other Half - for his yearly celebrations.. 8)
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This is the 2nd time I ordered an Apple product online... they use DHL and we could track this lil baby all the way from its production centre to our doorstep. Hah! The wonders of modern technology... shopping is a breeze these days. 8)
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So after 5 days, it finally arrived. After fiddling with it myself, I can understand why the Ipod is a cool gadget to own. Makes me want to own an Iphone. The ease at which one can just tap from one applications to another. Sliding the pages is fun too... and reading from the screen is much easier on the eyes than all the PDAs I've owned. I've gone through one HP and 2 Dell PDAs. This by far is easiest on the eyes.

The only snag is all the oily stains from our sweat sticks and shows very clearly on the aluminium casing... but that cannot be helped I supposed... if we're not sweating and producing those 'oils' then we cannot be enjoying the gadget cos we'd be stiff as the doornail too.
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Add the cool factor... it's so thin and minimalist. I like all these minimalist gadgets. Less complications and is WYSIWYG... Now to find a case for it.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Budget Goodies 2010 For Students

Okay these are budget goodies for students.
  1. Conversion of PTPTN loans to scholarships for students who graduate with 1st class honours degree, beginning from 2010.
  2. Rewards for students who excel in studies.
  3. 30 National Scholarships for the creme de la creme of students, stictly based on merit.
  4. Offer of netbook package, including free broadband service, to university students for RM50 per month for 2 years.
Not very clear about what qualifies as excellent in No. 2 but No. 1 should spur some to work hard. A conversion from a loan to scholarship is well worth it. But 1st classes aren't exactly easy to get, either. Requires real work here.

30 National Scholarships for the creme de la creme of students... Which group? SPM or STPM? I think STPM should be more deserving.

RM50 for broadband services for 2 years - no clear guidelines yet as to what speed. If it's going to be only the lowest, then it's no deal.

More craziness...

The news we make.....
  1. No case against VK Linggam and co... how not to with so many prominent people suffering from amnesia. Well, the video was not proof enough I supposed as there was no proof that all the things said in it took place. Of course this is so unlike Tian Chua's trial for biting a policeman. In the video there was no clip of him biting the police but the magistrate believed it took place. Everything boleh??
  2. Chua and Ong to kiss and make up for the party's sake. Ong allowed PKFZ scandal to be exposed. Chua Soi Lek exposed his promiscuity. Caught in the act, he still feels he has the credibility. MCA was already weakened but 'leaders' cannot seem to do the right thing... perhaps it should just be buried.. not just the differences between the 2 leaders but the whole party itself. Ong did good though in allowing the scandal to be unearthed. But for allowing it, his other partners in the unholy coalition wants him buried deep too.
  3. Bagan Pinang remains with UMNO despite a by-election. You've got to wonder what kind of principles UMNO runs on. They found him guilty of corruption then said it was a technical thing. I guess in politics semua boleh... principles be damned!
  4. The Scorpene-class submarines were not purchased via open tender as it would expose our country's defense secret. So what secret, huh? It is now known to the world that we bought the Scorpenes. But what we do know that some guy got to be the middleman. I wonder how much he was paid. And the Mongolian lady with her secret love interests and intrigues put us onto the world media very explosively... you can find her story in Wikipedia.
  5. The Thai pathologist brought in to testify said Teoh Beng Hock's death was 80% homicide.... our pathologists say otherwise. If only we have a third eye which can see the unseen... I think we're likely to see a lot of muka merah padam. Do our pathologists follow their conscience or a prepared script? In a prepared script everything is pre-determined. So professionalism also be damned! What else is left that is not damned, huh? Conscience also gone, professionalism with it also.
  6. 600 000 illegal immigrants in Sabah! It was alleged that one only needs to pay RM450 to be a voter in Sabah for these immigrants. Are the authorities so tak cekap and blind? So, who do you think these people vote? Over here, we also hear that it's easier for an Indonesian labourer to be a citizen than a professional from other countries! Easy votes? Anyway, crime rates have soared... who do you think contributed to it? So if you think corruption will not affect you and me? Think again....
  7. Communal politics... a legacy from the Brits and kept still very much alive by BN. Malaysia is still very much a negara Melayu. To that end, we see religion, laws being bent to keep that notion alive. I thought religion is colourless but in Malaysia it seems religion does have a colour. Communal politics is after all about colours..... of the skin.
  8. Year in year out, the Auditor General makes reports of mismanagement, wild expenses, waste and fraud. And we see the same response... sweep under the carpet. The Star just recently exposed the purchase of 2 laptops for more than RM80K! That amount can probably get the college 20 laptops! Maybe they forgot to add the zero behind the 2. So, will heads roll? Your guess is as good as mine. When corruption is the way to go, it's hard to see any other way.
  9. Open tenders... recently it seemed one patented drug company lost their bid to a local company for a bid to supply a certain medicine by just 1 sen. Patented and generic... Oh the authorities acted very fair this round. But I think if you look into the generic company's ownership, we might find some very interesting details. Is the generic as good quality as the original? I have my reservations... anyway going by our Proton cars, would it be surprising if we are also getting inferior products. Medicine that don't quite work... possible, isn't it?
And this rambling comes just after one brief period of sitting at the comp.

So, I wonder if it's actually ringgit and sen that is in contention here. Cos they have made everyone bend in every direction and make strange bedfellows too. A quote from the Bible...
No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other; or else he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You can not serve both God and Mammon. (Matthew 6:24)

And you think it doesn't concern us... this corruption thingy.... it does. It is ruinous to the country.. and don't we live here? Dang.....

Thursday, October 22, 2009

SH Kopitiam

This is one kopitiam which I used to frequent. I like their fried mee and konlo mee. Located in Tmn Sri Ampang, this lady who runs this place used to have a stall at the corner shop. Her stall was popular back then too, drawing in customers for the corner shop. But then the coffee shop owner tried to limit the types of mee that she could sell. Finally she couldn't take it and moved out. This shop is just a couple of shops away from the original shop that she used to operate from.
SH Kopitiam
And she is doing very well now. Her son and daughter have come in to help full time and there is a chicken rice stall operating from her shop too. I used to stop a while and sembang with her when she first moved here years ago. She works hard... by 7 a.m. her kopitiam is opened. And she was ever obliging. I would just holler to her my order and by the time I pass the next round, it would be ready. Sometimes I would not have any small change and she'd let me hutang.
fried mee
But it's been a while since I went there. And I just realised how much I missed this. This is my favourite from this kopitiam - fried mee. I usually will ask for extra cockles. Son says it's a little oily but you can request for it to be less oily. This one is fried by one of the daughters... the lady used to do it but I think she's too busy to handle this now. I think it's one of the better fried mee I've had.
Konlo mee
The konlo mee is not too bad also. My only complain is the roast meat has this red colouring. So I usually tell her not to put the meat. You'll get extra fried wantan instead.

She also sells clear soup mee/kway teow, curry mee, char-kway-teow; all of which are not too bad. This is one lady who decided to strike out on her own and she has made it. She deserves every bit of it.

As for the corner shop (I think it's called Ocean Kafe or something like that), I can see that it's not very busy now. The owner didn't realise that he had a winning formula. The mee stall that the owner started to replace this mee stall that I'm talking about never did become as popular.... sometimes we have a good thing going, cannot see....

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Migration anyone?

Migration is as old as the human race. Nah! I'm not thinking of it. My grandparents came from China. It was a difficult decision but they did it because life in Nanyang was full of better promises. So, all my grandparents (maternal and paternal) came in a boat at a young age. They settled in different places, though. The China they left behind was a China in ruins... in part from the gwai-low (westerners) and in part, the decay stemming from within the Chinese civilization itself. The final destruction may have been externally inflicted but was also internally induced.

That migration cut them off from their families in China. Ties were lost. I never remembered anyone of them ever talked about seeing their parents again. There were some attempts to reconnect with my paternal grandfather's brother's family but it never got beyond a few visits. And it was done by my late aunty and uncle's families. My grandfather never did see his brother's family again. His family history was one from riches to rags tale; a tale of the fall from nobility to ordinary peasants. As that of China's at that time.

Migration today! It's still happening. The reasons which drive the migration remains almost the same even though surrounding circumstances may not be so bad anymore. Many of my friends have migrated... unlike the earlier wave, my gen's wave headed towards the west. Again, for better promises and hope.

Modern technology has enabled families to remain in touch but basically, many ties are severed too. Many of these young people study overseas and remain there. So, once in a year or sometimes in many years, they come back for a visit. Ties become loose over the years and very often, they get severed. It's not uncommon to hear the older folks lamenting that their children no longer come home.

Migration becomes more possible when the kids are sent overseas, usually for their tertiary education. And most of them like it there. How not to if one spends his formative years in a foreign land. Add that to the better opportunities that avail themselves, many stay on. Then they get married and have kids. Before long, the roots grow quite deep.

So, migration old and new... they have the same effect. On those who migrate - the promises of hope. For those who remain and miss their off springs - broken and pining hearts and sometimes, emptiness.... Kinda sad...

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

SPM & STPM: Soalan Bocor

Tis the time of the year... the word soalan bocor will cause everyone to scramble for their handphones and internet connection and send / receive the questions. And this behaviour has taken on a new frenzy; all made possible by technology. I guess this post might even get some extra hits because of the soalan bocor title... cos there're lots of students out there hoping to get a quick fix to their exam.

I was talking to a friend and she told me there was a rumour about a teacher being detained by the police for leaked questions. It turned out to be untrue. It is also at this time that many teachers will give out tips of allegedly leaked questions... students, of course will have their own network of sources... But just as technology has enabled connectivity never before possible in my generation, it has also cast doubts to the reliability of those tips cos there're simply just too many of them around. The avalanche of information has actually succeeded in burying the real tips.... LOL! On a more sober note, the avalance of quick fixes too has buried a lot of life's values.....

But whatever it is, this still lull some students into thinking that these quick fixes will get them the grades they desire. Do questions leak? I can't tell for sure. But I find it believable. After all, even during my uni years, questions were leaked out to a certain group of students... so while we slogged, they had it easy. But it's strange too how most of us who slogged somehow ended up still doing better. Adversity brought out the best in us?

Then during our school days... I don't know why but somehow most of us were told to pay attention to the questions from the Science Schools and MARA Colleges. Questions from those schools were more likely to come out in the SPM it seemed. How on earth did we form such conclusions??? There's always a little truth in a lie even, it seemed.

Ours is a country bent on religiousity, yet values like integrity, hardwork, honesty have been conveniently swept under the tikar in exchange for quick fixes (wealth, results). We only have to look at our leaders to see how things have evolved. Leaders of yesterday pale in comparison in terms of religiousity to today's leaders, yet the former seemed to have more of the good stuff in them.... or maybe back then their simple minds had not learn the concept of quick fix for the people and themselves too... Today's leaders are very pious on the outside, but dissect their lives a little, it's not just worms which crawl out...

So soalan bocor... this is what I think. Study hard, understand the basics, memorize if you have to... the discipline and commitment you picked up in the process will be the tools that will help you scale greater heights later. In this world of patronage (sadly), I still believe that hard work still pays... even though these days it may take longer to get to the paying part. But the rewards go beyond the material....

Anyway, when the day comes where only the patronage system rules... we'd be going into 'The Matrix'-like world, or we'd all be like the ant colony... the fewer rule as we move up the hierachy of the social order. We, the masses will be very expendable.

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Business Called SMS....

..and it's a very profitable one, as the statistic shows. And it looks set to grow exponentially still.
2002 - 2506.9 million sms sent out (398 per subscription)
2003 - 6163.9 million (554 per subscription)
2004 - 9532.1 million (652 per subscription)
2005 - 21999 million (1126 per subscription)
2006 - 33350.6 million (1713 per subscription)
2007 - 56888.5 million (2590 per subscription)
2008 - 73000 million
Wow! Did I send out so many smses? I guess not. On any average week, the number of smses I send out seldom exceeds 10. Of course there will be weeks when it does but those are far and few.

My Other Half sends out even less than me. But, my Son seems to text a lot... but he keeps insisting it's not wasteful as each sms costs 1 sen. Small brains they have at this age, cos they don't earn the money. 1 sen X100 smses a day = RM1 but then again, not all smses costs 1 sen. In these small brains, anything less than 10 sen is not much. Somehow the exponential and compounding effects don't quite register.

I truly regret ever giving him a mobile. It has caused us more problems than anything. I think parents should delay giving their children mobiles... better still wait till they can afford their own.

Many have more than one phone. Some have more than one numbers. All the cheap packages and rates have locked in these people. Talk to any of them and there're surely reasons why they should keep more than one number. The availability of choices have made kids more complicated today. As a result it has given the adults more reasons to work hard to support their children's spending habits. Crazy, isn't it?

I think it's bad that so much money is wasted on something like smses. I used to think that technology helps us save time... but these days, it seems like it wastes more than save. Take all those young people hanging on FB, taking this questionaire, farming non-edible stuff, rearing digital farm animals... And you've got to wonder about all those apps they participate in.. e.g. What kind of fruit you are? So what if you a strawberry? Doesn't make any difference cos you are not going to turn red and wait to be eaten. Or how long you will live? And if the aps you take says you are sexy chick... will you go out and be a sexy chick then? Time spent on those might as well be spent on a book... a dying past time now. Lack of reading - shallow minds.

SMSes - this is only the tip of the iceberg the problems that technology has wrought on our young. Add that to MMS - well you know how a crazily infactuated person can behave... lewd and compromising pics find their ways to the digital realm, with the blessings of their owners. But sometimes twist of events find such pics ending up where it shouldn't. And when the sober age descends, they'd regret... a little exercise of self-control, discipline would have gone a long way. While there are lotsa good, it seems these good don't do much good in the hands of the young.... too much choices. The likelihood of getting sesat in such a scenario has become greater.

I guess where profit is concerned, social responsibility takes a back seat. I am sure, armed with market studies and psychological profiling, these companies are well aware of how teenagers can be enticed. It doesn't need rocket science to know that today, with better standards of living it is easy to manipulate this great urge in young people to connect. Package them just within reach of the young people and they will bite without much thought. And like ciggies, once you are addicted, then they can continue to be milked for a long time.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

GeorgeTown Kopitiam

This one is found in Alor Setar Mall and I guess many people are wondering how long it'll last. Alor Setar Mall has been seeing many cafes open only to close their doors not too long after that. We've had Halo Cafe, Asian Mix.. so let's see if this lasts.

Anyway, basically there has been a proliferation of such establishments... kopitiam acquiring class and taste. Gone are the days of the single proprietor kopitiam where the proprietor (usually clad in the big shorts and white pagoda T-shirt) and his family run the kopitiam. You know when you order a Kopi-O, they'll holler your order and you actually hear your drink being made.... your drink being 'tarik'... these days all these are done more discreetly! Sometimes I wonder they tuang from a premix container....
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I've this to say of GeorgeTown though, their 2-D representation of their 3-D food is almost similar. This is soya bean with gula melaka and cendol. The one on the right looks slightly better but can pass-lah.
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This is the 2-D nasi lemak. The colour is, of course, redder and seemed more appetizing, more like ayam masak merah.
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This was the 3-D that I had... of course, here it's just 2-D like the one above. But they're quite similar. So, at least I don't feel 'cheated'. LOL!

Unlike the Old Town Kopitiam's which failed misreably. Incidentally, I was at Old Town recently for tea with a friend. Ordered the Kaya and Butter Extra Thick Toast (RM3.20) and guess what? Their 'butter' tasted like margarine. That's another thumbs down for Old Town... and I think I will try not to go there any more. Margarine for butter... patrons pay for butter but get margarine.

Food at GeorgeTown is so-so. Nothing to shout about. It's just another place to hang out, with wifi. But this wifi thing is beginning to be a norm these days. Drove past a carwash a few days ago, and they also have wifi.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

When Pets Go Halal

Read this piece of news and was baffled by it. Do cats really kick a fuss whether the food they eat is halal or not? This opens up a new whole line of thought.

So if a cat's owner is Hindu, then halal would mean not eating anything with beef in it. And if we say cats must eat halal food then does it mean that any animals who don't eat halal food cannot be consumed, be it Hindu or Muslim or anyone of any faith with halal (kosher) requirements.That would put chickens out of the picture too as they have a penchant of wondering everywhere and eating stuff from the ground which means they are exposed to impurities which might be haram.... I dunno, but my imagination is working over time.

Then does it also mean that the air we breathe, which is recycled in the sense that it goes into the lungs of the haram or non-kosher animals is also haram? So do we need to filter the air we breathe then? ... or don't breathe at all? Or the water that we drink for that matter? Earth's resources is limited and is recycled. The water that we drink comes mainly from the river and you would not want to imagine what has touched it, drank it and even gone into it; cos you know water dilutes stuff, and all kinds of 'stuff' gets diluted into it.... LOL!

Halal, kosher, haram... when we carry it too far, it can sound and seem absurd.

Cats, after all does not have the ability to profess faith. If anything, I give this guy who came up with the halal food for cat credit for his ingenuity for trying to corner a market for himself! Brilliant! By the way, there's this company in Alor Setar who has tried to make exclusive his photostat services by advertising it as an Islamic Photosating Center. Our politicians play the same game, can't really fault the orang bawahan for doing the same. All the way from up to the bottom, the same hypocrisy is noted.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Whores...

In the old days, whores basically meant just that! Whores! Now like everything that is so fluid, it has undergone its own changes also.

First we had camwhoring... I think typically any word that has a suffix of whore sounds so derogatory. But these days it is used without so much of an eyelid bat! Camwhoring basically means taking pics of yourself or your friends excessively. To people like me who lived between two worlds of cameras - roll film cameras and digital ones, this cam whoring thing gives an immediate negative impression. But not so to the young ones. They think it is complimentary to call themselves camwhores... sometimes even cool!

And recently I just learned of shoe whoring... a person who owns excessive pairs of shoes. And oh yes.. there're also attention whore, corporate whore, media whore... A whole wide new world of whores has opened up. Do you think they sound cool? In the old world of whores, we had whoremongers, whoreson, he-whore. And none of them sounded any good back then either. This new gen of whores supposed to be better? Or is this another compromise....

So whatever it is, the term whore is negative... it still leaves behind an impression of someone who flouts cleavage, puckered lips and oh yes... sporting the peace sign. A cam whore is after all also known as a cam slut. Now how positive can that be.. a whore is bad enough. So we are into promoting a 'slutty' lifestyle? Whatever happened to the good and clean lifestyle? *scratch head*

This is one word which behaves more like a chameleon, slowly seeping into our minds, gaining acceptance. If in a butterfly pupa, a metamorphosis takes place and something more beautiful comes out, to me, this feels like an attempt to make-it-sound-right behaviours which are narcissistic, vainglorious, swollen and morally loose. What does it sound like to you?? A camwhore?

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Facades and WYSIWYG

A facade is a structure that is built to be the principal or front face of a building. A facade plays a very important role in giving first impressions. WYSISWY is acronym for what-you-see-is-what-you-get, used to imply a user interface in which the document on screen is similar to the printed document.

I'm reminded this past week of how we can be these 2 words.

Facade - very often what is portrayed or even projected is not the actual. I was recently told "You said that........." by someone whom I thought would not say that and it kinda triggered this facade thought. All along, the projected image was one of openness. But I've realized that it was only a facade, for reasons known and unknown. Openness was only when it suits the flavour of the day, it seems. Her spade was actually not a spade but I was led to believe it was so. So, when the "you said that..." came out and kinda sounded like a blame, guess that's when the facade kinda also became clear. Life's lessons.

But generally most of us are Mr or Ms Facade every now and then or all the time.

WYSIWYG - the opposite of the above. I kinda have learned to appreciate this more even if a person can be really pesky. Cos there is no pretenses. If he's a pain in the butt, that's what he is. And by and by you either learn to accept him for what he really is or just don't at all. It makes your choices easier. When a WYSIWYG shares something good with you, you know it really comes from the heart. However, such kind of people are far and few generally. But they are there. You kinda think how come the facade thingy got past them.

Another one of my ramblings....

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The beginning of another volleyball season...

.... ah, even if it's only until the end of the month (for this round that is). This is for the inter-district level. So there we were a bunch of ladies ranging from the youthful twenties to the 'aunty' forties and 'grandma' fifties; and oh ya! the forgotten-thirties, out in the court trying to recapture yet again what's left of our ability to squat, jump and bend. Volleyball here we come. Already as I type this, my arms are actually tingling with a little pain... from the digs that I did yesterday. And a faint mark of blue black has appeared. This always happens on the first day of volleyball.

Many of us have become good friends over the years that we've played together. And we've been coming together even though we keep telling ourselves that it's going to be our final year. It's not something that is easy to describe but to have everyone coming together despite the commitments we each have. Either we are all crazy or there is this indescribable feeling that you get from the camaraderie or we're all just suckers for the adrenaline highs from the games. Or it could just be the simple fact that it feels good that we can still dig a few balls, do some 'aunty-spikes', set new limits for ourselves.

For every opportunity that I (and my friends too, I believe) can still play, it is a blessing. Some of us are not so young anymore. Our lives run on a rather rigid routine. All of us have families. Some have grown up kids, others have young ones, yet there are those who just about to start out in their lives and still those who are plodding on. But we come together, and for a couple of hours a couple of times a week for the next 2 weeks; and we holler, play and banter as we go through the drills and games. Occasionally we'll even have disagreements, mutterings but by and by they will be forgotten and forgiven; and we'll move on.

We might even get sun burnt a little and have our hands bruised or even suffer abrasions, but I think we still won't trade it for the manicured and pedicured thingy.... the fact that we still show up at the courts. Life is so sterile and artificial in the latter, where everything is nipped and tucked away. So, here's a toast to us all.... LOL!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

My First Tennis Lesson

I finally went for proper tennis lessons yesterday. It's the last major racket game that I do not play. I thought I might as well pick up another skill, learn something new and meet some new people... over the pulpit on Sunday, the speaker stressed on the importance of learning new skills. I guess that should apply here. Cos in learning new things if slows down the process of being to set in our ways, being overly comfortable with our habits so much so that we refuse to change.

My first experience in tennis was over 20 years ago.... Mr. Song How Ting took me to the SRC for a go... I didn't pursue it. My balls all terbang flat... landing way out of the courts. In tennis, picking balls is enough to make you not want to go back. Balls are supposed to curve downwards. Mine flew in a straight path until gravity pulled it down. Anyway, tennis was not a game for the masses as there weren't many community courts available back then.
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Opportunity presented itself this time when the Club offered free tennis lessons. How are you going to find one group of beginners to begin with you? And a coach some more who will patiently show you the right techniques? Everyone picks ball together with you... You are not alone! LOL!

I think I did quite okay. Hit more balls over the net than into it. I could hit my backhand with one hand.. in fact my back hand felt better than my forehand. I guess my badminton basics had a great deal to do with it. Footwork shouldn't be too much of a problem. The control of the ball is. You can hit a shuttlecock as hard as you can, but it won't go too far. Hit a tennis ball hard with no control, it can fly over the fence! It's a different feel altogether.

But I enjoyed myself. Met some new people.... old and young! Didn't work out as much sweat as much as I had hoped but I shall try to go hit the wall and work on my strokes.... Oh ya! My elbow hurts a little now... with volleyball season starting... I hope it holds...

Monday, October 12, 2009

Trapped on Kilauea

Kilauea is an active volcano on Hawaii. Was watching this docu on Discovery about how 3 men on a video shoot ended up in the crater when their helicopter crashed. It kept my 2 kids riveted to their seats, watching the reenactment of their ordeal in the crater. It was 1992. A helicopter on a video shoot crashed into the volcano crater, just meters away from a lava pool.

The great skill of the pilot enabled them to walk away from the crash unscathed. But what awaited them were noxious air, heat, cold, bad weather and maybe eruptions. Their radio was dead and they decided to climb their way up as the air was really bad. Plus 'up there' didn't seem too difficult as it was only 300 metres up. Even though the terrain was hostile; loose soil, pebbles that cut, rocks that are hot to touch, they managed the first 100 meters quite easily. Then they found the going tough cos the terrain got worse... with another 100 meters or so to go, it became a vertical climb which seemed virtually impossible. They were stuck.

The pilot decided that he should go back to the helicopter to try to get the radio to work. But it would be a dangerous trip as he would have to battle to breathe. He got down and managed to locate a video camera battery which would work with the radio. In between trying to fix it and repeated runs to a hillock nearby to get gasps of breathable air, he finally managed to crank it up and get his 'mayday' out.

A rescue helicopter soon came... he managed to communicate with the other pilot. Through his weakened voice, the other pilot knew he was talking to a dying man... so he took this bold decision. He would land his helicopter. The guy on the ground tried to shout to his friends to come down but they couldn't hear him... above the roar of everything, they couldn't hear him. The pilot told him that he had to run and hoist himself onto the helicopter... he couldn't risk getting down as the gasses would create havoc to his engines also and it would be a matter of time before it will also malfunction.

So, despite the danger, the pilot landed his helicopter... the downed pilot stumbled and pull himself up... the helicopter managed to get out.... it was the most terrifying 10 minutes of the pilot's life. The engine did suffer damage from the corrosive air.

One rescued, 2 stuck. Night came. Rescue efforts were called of as the weather up there was terrible and the edge of the crater was highly unstable. Morning came.. by afternoon ropes were thrown down the crater.. first one was too far. The second man couldn't get it. The rope came down again.. this time it was nearer but still too far for him. He tried to grab for it... but it slithered up. They must have pulled it up because they thought it was still too far from him. Then no more ropes came down. Night came. Despair set in.

Following day.. as dawn broke, suddenly the second man saw a path before him. He wondered why he hadn't seen it. The shifting ground from the eruptions must have opened up the path. He decided to make a dash for it. It was a short climb. As he was about to reach the top, another hurdle. The crater's edge had curved up. The soil was loose, he plunged his hands into the glass like pebbles and finally tumbled out of the crater... He shouted to his friend below. But he realized that his voice was going no where... it was impossible for his friend to hear him. He understood why the rescuers were not able to throw the ropes accurately. They were going blind. And the edge of the crater was highly unstable. The weather up there was bad. In his weakened state, he stumbled on the camp of the rescuers... no one was there. His throat has swollen so badly that he couldn't even drink. As he wondered aimlessly, a helicopter hovered by. He was rescued!

The third man stayed another night. That night, he thought he saw Madam Pele, the goddess of fire. He thought he was a goner. But he survived the night. Day came.... suddenly a helicopter came... the pilot told him he was coming back. Half an hour passed... suddenly a basket dropped. It was too far. Then it caught some rocks... and the basket pulled away. His hopes gone... But the basket came again... it was about 6 feet away. He decided to lunge for it. He made it...

3 men... each stayed a different duration of time. 3 different experiences. The lessons in it are many. To each one a lifeline was extended, and they live because they took that lifeline. And each lifeline, came with different degree of risks and difficulties.... my mind was a swirl of activities as I watched it and I am humbled yet again by those lessons which avail themselves through this documentary.

I tried to find more details in the net but reading them certainly did not have the same effect as watching it on tv.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Royal Kedah Club Restaurant

This was dinner at RKC Restaurant and it was quite good.
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This was what Other Half had. Mixed Grill. I'd say it's one of the better ones in Alor Setar at the moment. The mutton and beef were very tender. Cooked just right. The mashed potato is baked in cheese. Now that City-One Restaurant at City Plaza is closed, probably the only other place with a good mixed grill would be Samila Hotel.
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Daughter insisted on 404 on the menu... chicken ala-forestier, something like that. I had that during tea a couple of weeks ago. This one is mutilated cos I only remembered to take the photo after I was done with it. 8)
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I had Lamb Kebab with butter rice. And it is definitely one of the better ones I've taken too. The butter rice tasted 'buttery' enough and was good enough to eat by itself.
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Oh yes! Salad is help-yourself-as-much-as-you-want for each order of meal. You get it from a salad bar on trolley. They move it around a bit. So you actually have to look around for it!
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We were given pieces of garlic bread too... and they were good. I think they would have gone down even better if there were some soup.

There was live entertainment too! A quartet - a Batak band from Medan, if I'm not wrong. Anyway, this is a short clip. They were quite entertaining. They went round from table to table asking if we had any songs we'd like them to sing. We gave them 3 - Anak, Green, Green Grass of Home and Madu & Racun. They could sing all! Some of the other tables requested Chinese songs and they sang them too. It was quite fun to be 'serenaded' by the singers. LOL! Other Half ordered a pot of loca coffee to enjoy with the music.

Ambiance was okay. Service was quite prompt and efficient. The restaurant is also opened to the public. It is located in the main building. Walk in and asked the receptionist at the door and you'll be directed up the stairs to the restaurant. There is a dress code... no collarless shirts (for men), no slippers and shorts. Else you won't be allowed in.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

New SPM Grading..

At the eleventh hour... that's the key phrase now. First it was UPSR with their IQ test. Now this - the new grading system for SPM. Another on the spur of the moment decision.

Well, the new grading system shows that at least the MInistry admits one thing. Our 1A grade tak boleh pakai. The range is just so big that you can't really tell the ala-cream from the rest of the ala-cream-wannabes. What more our 2A. But since the Ministry also doesn't want the avalanche of A(s) to stop and it doesn't really have a transparent grading system, they came up with the A+, A and A- system. Now we have 3 different types of A(s). I wonder whether they are trying to pass our not-so-excellent students as excellent still...

Now those caught in this latest exercise would be those lulled into the sea of mediocrity by the promise of easy A. Trying to catch up in these last weeks will be horrendous, especially when you think you can get by with just minimal work.... to get the A(s). Before this it was a possible feat. So, there will be a mad scramble, a lot of cursing and regrets. So, in this sense I think it is a good wake-up call to such students.

Cos what this new grading system will do is separate the 'men' (ladies) from the 'boys'(girls). If 85 becomes the mark that qualifies an A+, then for once, maybe those who truly deserve to get the JPA scholarship will be identified.

As for those who have the potential but allow the system to turn them into mediocre performers... it's really too bad. But better a wake-up call than none at all.

Friday, October 9, 2009

My Parents Don't Understand Me (Round 2)

I wrote about this early this year... no matter how parents try to make clear, things to their children, most of them still feel their parents don't understand them. The need for empathy in teenagers is great.... and parents as much as they try to be often find it a challenge. The challenge? To empathize while trying to make sure we play the role of parents as well.

My parents don't understand me... my son still thinks that. I think for as long as I have to tell him what to or not to do, this will be a standing mantra....

BUT things are getting better. 8) The 'my-parents' don't understand me' is less adamant now. I suspect it has to do with the tempest slowly losing its velocity and rage. It's like more patches of blue sky are making their appearance now. 8) And perhaps he's beginning to understand more his responsibilities to himself and the family. It's easier to get him to play his part too. But often it's still not without some pain.

I've learned the meaning of God's grace for me too through this 'tempest'. 8) A fallen creature I am yet through His grace (not by my own merit) that I'm given the privilege to be His child. If not for the extended grace on our part to our boy, ties could have been severed. God the Father, we his children... grace extended. Same principles. We the parents, our kids .... also grace extended. Cos even though they give us crap, at the end of the day, when they call out to us, we still extend that 'grace' to them too.... I always believe that God is a God of order.... there are every day lessons in our lives which point us towards Him.

This part of the journey has taught me quite a bit about God's relationship with me. So, my parents don't understand me.... very often we hurl the same accusations to God too. But coming back to having a teenager coming to the tail end of his teenage years.... yeah! They need to go through that part of growing. The questioning and the realization of what life is to be will help them realize the meaning of grace too.

As for the teenagers??? Actually their parents do understand them. It's the other way round actually - they don't understand their parents. That is why these long suffering parents continue to chase them to do their revision, pick up their clothes, clear their rooms, cut the grass, do the household chores.... cos for a majority of those who grow up in comfort, they will not do many of those things on their own. And yet for others, they indulge in activities that are ruinous to their future.

Anyway, I think conflicts will end the day when these teenagers can switch off the lights when they leave the room, turn the radio off before they go to sleep, help to clear the house; all without being asked, be nice to their siblings, do their own revision without being reminded and complete the household chores without complaining... When those things start to happen, that's when they finally understand their parents. Till then... "they don't understand me" will continue... And until the self-centredness diminishes.... it'll continue to bug both sides... so who says God is not long suffering with us too?

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Oh Crap!

Read somewhere that the Hassan guy in Selangor felt that SELCAT should not 'embarass' the civil servants as it grilled them about some questionable disbursement of funds. Who's he kidding? Civil servants don't need to be accountable? So, is it a wonder that the culture of Little Napoleans has taken root and is thriving? And never mind if the SELCAT public enquiry has exposed huge amounts of the rakyat money being spent on study tours??? LOL!! The ex-MB and his family certainly travelled, lived and dined in style, macam sama like the rich and famous.

Briefings, courses and meetings are often held as part of an effort to improve various aspects of the civil service. So, these are supposed to be good things for us cos it makes us better civil servants. But these days, such activities are often an exercise to finish the allocations given.

Problem is some courses don't run. Facilitators don't show up yet certificates of participation are issued. Officers who chair meetings babble non-related stuffs. Cos they come unprepared... free cuti, mah! And some are meetings with 100 over people; held at hotels. How much wastage do you think takes place? The quality of briefings is in great doubt these days. They don't even sound sheepish when they do not know their stuff. There is no shame, no pride in themselves... no dignity in their position.

Nobody even thinks about accountability. Cos if somebody does, then there would be no babblings. They would not take gahmen officers away from work and plonked them there. Neither would they send out invites to officers who appear for introduction then disappear for a round of golf or just the hotel stay.... again free holidays??? You've got to think, SELCAT is probably opening a can of worms. And in this worm kingdom, these wriggly creatures scratch each others' backs.

The can inhabitants are civil servants, politicians, corporate figures (look at Kuala Dimensi and their jets). All intertwined, mutually benifitting each other.... on the average Ahmad and Ah Seng, Raju who pick up the tab!

So, if Dr. Hassan feels that SELCAT should not embarrass the civil servants for not checking the allocations, in other words for not doing their jobs then does that mean too that civil servants are above the law? Just makes you wonder. Anyway, I wonder whether it is an affliction in all the other departments and ministries or just mine..... And this Dr. Hassan, whose interest has he in mind and who does he serve?

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Midlife Crisis, Anyone?

Midlife crisis... boredom, discontent, questions, confusion, marked sometimes by irrational behaviours and decisions. Sometimes this crisis is brought about by the mundane of our lives. Midlife crisis was first identified by Carl Jung, one of the founding fathers of Analytical Psychology.

Growing up, I used to hear 'stories' about so and so dumping his/her family and running off with some (wo)man, or so-and-so becoming a cynic, etc, etc. Later, psycho studies at uni gave 'a more plausible meaning' to the many stories I used to hear in my younger days.... they call it midlife crisis!

We go through changes in midlife... more graying hair, the blurring of our 'close-up' vision... generally one can feel the subtle downhill slide of one's physical abilities. I am feeling that too. Add that to the pressures of midlife... jobs, mortgages, parenting, desires vs responsibilities... I supposed it can also be one bewildering time! It is also the busiest time of one's life... if my own life is anything to go by. Very often I wish there are more than 24 hours in a day so that I can do everything that I want to do.

I guess one does go through some sort of turbulence. You can label it crisis, questioning, boredom, etc, etc time but I supposed being at midlife would place many of us squarely in the 'crisis zone'. Something akin to those juvenile years again. Only this time, you are supposed to be more in control but for some it's not to be.... or you could just be too busy to realize.

Midlife for a marriage is supposed to be a difficult time too. More commitments, stress and parenting issues we have to deal with. And in the midst of it, couples sometimes drift apart. You are more familiar yet more impatient with each other. But I think if we can move beyond that, it can also be a time of discovery. Like wine, marriage can actually get better with age! 8)

I am enjoying my life with my Other Half more now than before... we seem to communicate better and I like the openness that we share. There's a better understanding.. we work well together in many sense. We do a lot many things together and it goes beyond the family... I like the way we've been able to step into each other's shoes quite easily. It's a nice feeling.

Both of us work... it adds stress to a growing family cos often there seems so little time for so many things we want to do. Weekends never seem to last as long as we'd like them to. It can be quite demanding but still we can squeeze in doing things together. We've done 2 in recent days... working together to set up a website for the church and designing, printing and making wedding cards for a wedding.... it's nice to be able to work on something together and also laugh together.

Those dreamy days not too long ago... the dreams that brought two lives together. We've grayed, grown older, added more pounds.. and supposed to be entering a 'crisis period' of our lives. But nah! I'd like to think of my midlife still as an adventure... not one of boredom. That I can still feel the passion for the important people and causes in my life. That I am still building my dreams and life with my Other Half, and together; heading towards eternity with the same hope that I've always had. My sense of awe at new discoveries and feelings... my life still a constant moving ahead for the better. And despite the inevitable limitations, I'd still be creating new horizons and limits for myself (and Other Half). So midlife is not too bad of life's adventure where I am concerned.... and no more a crisis than life is to everyone of us regardless of which stage we're in. My ramblings for today...

Monday, October 5, 2009

Wantan Mee @ Taman Berjaya

This is one of the nicer places for wantan mee. Located in Taman Berjaya in the makeshift market area, it's a busy place from morning till night.

In the morning a busy and thriving market operates there. At night, a pasar malam like atmosphere can be felt almost every night albeit a mini version one.
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This is the wantan mee shop.
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Outside it is a char-kway-teow stall. Take care not to park your car too near the stall. The last time we did that, our car was coated with a layer of the char-kway-teow oil. Guess what we had to do when we got home? Yup! Wash the car and it was already past 10 p.m.
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The mee is a little hard if you eat it there. I usually prefer it to be packed cos by the time the packet reaches home, it would have soaked in the gravy and is soft enough. Throw in some cili padi and you have a really nice wantan mee; with a punch some more.
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The wantan is soft and does not have the floury taste . One of the better ones that one can find at night in Alor Setar.
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As for the char-kway-teow, Son said it's nicer than the one in Timuran (available at night) and the corner shop opposite to PMC (morning). Oh yes, the three-layered-tea (caramel-evaporated milk-tea) served in this shop is also one of the nicer ones around town. We've been trying it in most of the shops that offer it.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

A Full Saturday...

... but I'm not complaining.

Got up rather early. Other Half too and we decided to go to the gym. Have shifted my focus to the exer cycle from the treadmill. Used to refer to it as the bicycle machine.. LOL! Man is made to walk... you burn less calories walking than doing other exercise. You need less than half the time on the exer bike to burn more than double the calories as compared to the treadmill. You can walk and run... and still feel less tired on the treadmill than on the exer cycle... at least for me. Met an old friend too... I'm going to try do a really early morning swim with her one of these days. 8)

The rest of the day was a flurry of activities... market trip, attempted breakfast at the Tmn Berjaya morning market but was thwarted by the traffic jam there. It must be super stressful for people who live in that area and cleaning my balcony. Glad for machines like the pressure pump. Else the amount of scrubbing would probably leave me with a backache enough to last me for the week! Then it was off for lunch with friends. Was kinda of a send-off for the Thompsons who have been here for 3 weeks.

After a stop at the airport accompanied by a heavy downpour, it was off to get a new phone. I finally decided to ditch my SE C905. It's been giving me way too much problem and the slider looks like it might go any time soon. Traded it in for a SE W902, downgraded. The guy at the shop kept recommending us the cheaper phones. I guess we looked kinda cacat and he probably felt we couldn't afford the more expensive phones. Anyway, no more slider phones for me. The slider is an added headache. I shall miss the camera on it though... the SE C905 takes really good pics.
ikan bakar
At night, we (with 3 young people in tow) wanted to go for the midnight curry mee at Pekan Cina but it was closed since yesterday night was Mid Autumn Festival. So we ended up in Football, having a very black ikan bakar. This black and charred looking above was actually quite okay-lah. It's black because of the sauce.

All the running around... one full Saturday. But I'm not complaining cos I see many things I can be thankful for in all these.. To be able to get up in the morning means I'm alive. To be able to go to the gym means my limbs are still okay and I still have my health. To be able to enjoy my food means one of life's pleasures is still a pleasure. And to have friends from afar means my life has been enriched and blessed. To have to ditch one phone? Well, that was just 'dumb luck' (not that I believe in it...LOL!) but to be able to trade it in for another means I still have choices in life. And to be able to still hang out with the young, well, I guess it means we're still young at heart! LOL! So, one full Saturday... and yeah! I thank God for it!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Restless Lip Syndrome

Ever heard of Restless Lip Syndrome? Well this is a person who keeps interrupting a conversation and cannot stop talking about herself. I didn't know they have a term for such characters. Just learned it from Urban Dictionary the other day. LOL! Urban jungle that we're in and the urban terms that I'm learning every day.

Anyway, these are people who are full of themselves and inadvertently always seem to divert attention to themselves. I think most of us have friends like this. They're not your regular attention seekers but also attention divert-ers. Cos once they come into the midst of your conversation, most if not all the attention will divert to them. And very often because their skills are so well honed after so many years at it, you don't realize it until a little late.

So how do they divert attention? It's either through great story telling skills... stories by them usually contain the extremes of both ends which will captivate your imagination. Or they'll be great jokers... there are always some good jokes from them which will have you in stitches. Or through the tugging at the strings of your heart. Sometimes they portray a picture of total helplessness. You see we are created with this capacity for good works... so when we see a soul in need, it's an automatic response to offer assistance. And for the males, there is nothing like getting a good dose of this 'I'm the knight in shining armor" feeling from such 'damsels' in distress. Whatever the point, these are the centre stage occupiers, the spotlight 'hog-gers'. Restless lips.... they are!

Their interest in their friends last as long as how their friends can entertain their restless lips. Like everyone else, I've had my share of such 'friends'. Fun as they may be, I've found them to be quite undependable as friends and definitely dispensible. They're mostly good for the hee-hee-ha-ha times... you know, the sort of friends which fits the "laugh and the whole world laughs with you..." adage.

But I supposed if one could look beyond, then one perhaps might see that they too need to be pitied for the way they 'corner' themselves in the end... Restless Lips Syndrome, chic term!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Introducing Ardi...

Ardi (short for Ardipithecus ramidus) is supposed to be 4.4-million-year-old upright primitive female which stood about four feet tall and weighed about 110 pounds; and might I add with a small forehead - meaning it had a small brain. Occasionally she would come down from the tree which she spent most of her time. And her discovery has caused ripples of excitement among the paleontologists and evolutionists. The anthropologists will also be sharing this excitement, I guess. There are lots of deductions to be made out of this discovery.... the latest (newest? oldest?) addition to the family of the hominids. But this classification is not foolproof...

Many years ago, as a history student and an archeologist wannabe (thanks to the then dashingly handsome archeologist cum maverick, Harrison Ford in Indiana Jones), one of my interests was Lucy, a 3.2-million-year-old, also female Australopithecus afarensis. Funny how they only keep digging up the female species and not much of the male ones. No daya tahan even for the male bones? LOL! I think I still have this edition of National Geography magazine on evolution somewhere in one of my boxes. It was my sentimental copy cos it helped spark my interests in archeology (paleontology) and anthropology. Anyway, if you do a Google for Lucy... you are more likely to get Lucy Liu (of the famed Charlie's Angels) than Lucy the primitive creature close to man.

Well, archeology dropped out of my course work after my second year at uni as I couldn't imagine myself 'digging' with a 'spoon' for some fossil or artifact for the rest of my life. And I realized that I was never going to be famous like the Leakeys. LOL! Neither did I had the patience to wait for years for a major discovery.... if I ever get that 'lucky'.

But I have great respect for the archeologists. They are a rare breed of people. People who can live under extremely lacking environments and possess a huge amount of patience. Lots of good digs are found in Africa... it's a continent that is dry and hot. Ardi is located in Ethiopia. Lucy was found in Olduvai Gorge, Kenya.... I can still remember the names! 8)

So what is the discovery of Ardi going to have on us? I guess nothing much. Man has been trying to disprove the Theory of Creation for centuries. Somehow the bridges that connects those primitive creatures like Lucy and Ardi to humans still seem to be floundering in its construction. Lucy remains a gorilla-like creature whom some anthropologists and scientists now postulate could have spent quite a bit of time living on the tree. Anyway, much of the information was inferred from its skeletal structure which is about 40% complete. And some scientists say the parts may have actually come from different creatures. Incomplete data.

So, Ardi being an older creature would probably display more of those characteristics, assuming the paleontologists are able to find more than that 40%. There found the skeletal remains of her hands and legs though. Darwin's theory that we are descendants of monkeys still don't quite stand. Unless we want to say that we are; going by the monkeying behaviour among humans that is so prevalent now. 8) Point is there is still very little evidence supporting this macro-evolution thing.

Anyway carbon dating which was once touted as rather accurate is no longer so because of some issues which has cropped up like the rate of decay which may not be that constant and also man-induced decay; as what the counterfeiters are doing to age fake artifacts in China. During my time, our reading pointed to carbon dating being infallible... goes to prove a point that man's comprehension of this world is still rather finite.

So yeah... another millions-of- years-old fossil made it to the surface (or parts of it). But it does nothing to disprove the Theory of Creation.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Some oportunities Post SPM/STPM

These are just some of the stuff that I've been compiling on whatever information available on post SPM/STPM opportunities. There are of course lots more which I've not been able to put in.
  1. Pursue STPM, of course. It's hard, no doubt but like I said earlier.. adversity brings out the best in one. My take on it.
  2. Matriculation - one would have put in the application by May. Application forms are made available in schools for RM10 per set. Many applicants for this. Don't really know the criteria for the selection for the non-Bumis cos sometimes they take in the really good ones, other times it's the mediocre.
  3. Private Matriculation programmes - at all the various private colleges. Well, schools like Keat Hwa 1 seem to send many to Taylor's. One can tell that it must be a big client as Taylor's sponsored a whole walkway of signboards in the school. There are many others like Inti, Segi, Nilai, KDU... and they also give out scholarships.
  4. JPA scholarship... to various countries. Getting a JPA scholarship is like striking lottery. It's tough for everyone now, regardless of race but more so for the non Malays as competition is super keen. Let's see whether 1Malaysia really works here... if we go by stats, approximately 40% should go to the non-Bumi(s).
  5. Malaysia France University Centre - this is little heard. There are also post grad studies. Some MARA and JPA scholars are sent to France too.
  6. ASEAN scholarship - application is put in early part of the year. And you will be asked to go for a written test in Penang for those located up north. If you made it, then you will have to attend an interview. This scholarship is for you to pursue your A-levels in one of the JCs in Singapore. It may also lead to ASEAN undergrad scholarship. If you are good, this will be a stepping stone to other institutions worldwide. Singapore education is one of the best in this region.
  7. Bank Scholarships - check out the respective bank sites for their scholarship offers. Bank Negara, HSBC, OCBC, Maybank are among the few reputable banks giving out scholarships every year.
  8. Polytechnics - these offer courses up to Diploma level. You can always continue with your degree studies after 3 years of studies at any of them. There are almost 30 polytechnics in the whole country at the moment. Application is done online. You can buy the PIN from any BSN ATM machine.
  9. Petronas Education - for those interested in a career in the oil and gas industries. They offer local (ALAM, UTP) and overseas programmes in engineering and maritime studies.
  10. SAT is one of the American standardized exams. Useful for those who want to do American Degree Programmes. Exam datelines and fees can be obtained from MACEE. Some of the exams are also held in Penang.
  11. Jardine Foundation - this one is for those who harbour hopes of Oxford and Cambridge but cannot afford it. It's for those from Hong Kong, China, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam. It covers tuition and college fees, annual stipend.. no fixed amount but on a case by case basis. Only for those outstanding ones. If you want to aim for this, start working at it early on.
  12. AMCHAM-MACEE scholarship for those wishing to pursue undergraduate studies in America. Check out the website for details of colleges and universities.
  13. An apparently if you can secure a place in one of the top 20 universities in the world, you can actually write to JPA and apply for a scholarship. If this is true, then thumbs up for JPA for at least recognizing talents.