Friday, July 30, 2010

To each... his/her journey...

Everyone of us goes down this path called life.... our very own journey. Like any trip that we take or make, we see different things, meet different people, even have people walk with us a part of the journey... then the things, scenery, people... either we leave them behind or they leave us. Cos we need to move on. That's what I realize today.

A momentary sense of desolation at the thought that I have to do that alone some day too...

With the heavy (it shouldn't be) cloud hanging over, as the clock ticks, yet with another who journeys with us at the verge of leaving us behind, the thought just came. It's been a week of roller coaster ride.... not quite over yet though, the waiting. But somehow, this waiting brings with it its own kind of strange comfort... the sort that makes it feel like a slow fading away from this world, gently....

When Christ took His cup of suffering, He asked God whether it could be taken from Him. Yet in the end He did what He came to do. I think many of us would like to keep going too, not have to take the that final cup of suffering. But like any trips, the journeying has to come to an end. We will have to take the final suffering life has to offer, and with it the ultimate release too.

The song.. This world is not my home, I'm just a passing through... I'm glad for the hope in heaven my faith gives unto me... that despite my ever so faltering faith.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Private... by James Patterson

This is Patterson's 3rd book which I've read this year. And so far, I'm liking what I read. He's quite a versatile writer, covering diverse topics. I particularly enjoyed his last book which brought me back to the era of the Ku Klux Klan in America.

This one brings me into the world of private investigative realm, one that comes with every imaginable high tech CSI-like gadgetry and techniques, where crooks can hijack and tap into mobile lines using rogue softwares. And of course it ends well, with the law triumphing over the smug crooks. The main character inherited the company, Private an well-known investigative firm from his father. It is elite and deals with lots of high profile clients. It keeps secrets of these clients. He also rubs shoulders with the mafias.

It's a book with 3 main plots running concurrently, Schoolgirls Killings, the NFL fixed games and the murder of Morgan's (the main character) best friend's wife. Suffice to say, all the were solved though not all had happy endings. The story packs a punch because it moves at a fast pace, definitely not one of those draggy books. And being weekend, with lots of driving and waiting duties, it was easy to finish. Been 7 months since I got my Ipod.... it has made my waiting time so bearable.

I enjoyed this one; number 34.

Monday, July 26, 2010

New Restaurant @ RKC

Royal Kedah Club Restaurant has a new operator... friend belanja us dinner last week. There're only a fortnight into their operations... and already I miss the old operator...

First the menu was only 2 pages. They say they'll be adding more soon..
Chicken Chop
Two of us had their chicken chop. Nothing spectacular about this. Despite so few patrons, service was rather slow.
Fish and Chips
Another had their fish and chip. And it came out looking like the chicken chop.You can use these pics for a spot the difference game. Chicken and fish looking alike.
Sirloin Steak
I had their steak. The first bite was okay, but as I cut into the meat, it got tougher and tougher. Definitely not for those without strong teeth.

We had iced coffee to go with our meal. The waiter heard wrongly and one glass came out 'gau' (extra thick) and even after diluting, the coffee was still bitter. But they were nice enough to take it back and replace it with apple juice without extra charge.

Anyway, since we eat here quite regularly, I have no choice but to hope the menu improves as the operator settles in. For now, there are many things of the old that I miss... the salad bar and ais kacang among others. 8(

Sunday, July 25, 2010

When I Grow Old...

Remember when we were kids? How we'd say when I grow up I am going to....... Well lately, this other phrase has been coming to my mind.

When I grow old...... So what comes? Crankiness forgetfulness, placidness, being easy, difficult?

If growing up was hard, I think growing old is even harder. At least growing up offers more hope. Growing old, for many, you're dealing with a dying hope, unless you have a Rock of Gibraltar kind of faith in the hope of eternity. Growing old... you become slower, you lose your usefulness, you have problems occupying your time with meaningful pursuits.... and the uncertainty of not knowing what awaits you at the end of your journey. Lights out!

I think to a great extent.... the choices and decisions of today play a role....

With your spouse, liberate each other by encouraging each other to reach your own potential. When we are young, it's easy to feel that the world is at our feet and that we can do, own and dictate everything. Life doesn't go on forever for us... I've seen husbands 'incapacitate' their wives by not encouraging them to drive or not allowing their wives to handle the finances. I've seen wives incapacitating their husbands by baby-ing them, serving them hand to mouth.... you may feel empowered then but there'll come a time when this negative empowerment only incapacitates.

Infuse your kids with faith. The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom. And when your kids marry, love their spouses like you love your own kids. Be generous to a fault with your sons or daughters-in-law and above all let them chart their own paths. Acting like a matriarch or patriarch does you no good. In letting go it might feel like you are losing them but the likelihood of gaining them back is greater too.

Treasure those little gems of friends that God sends along our way. They are our greatest assets in difficult times. The lack of blood ties that you share with them sometimes can be liberating. You get a neutral sympathetic ear and a comfortable shoulder to cry on.

As for ourselves... keep your mind sharp and your body well worked. Both require effort and discipline. You might want to give it all up and just sit back. Remaining idle... that's a sure way of losing it all too. You cripple yourself slowly too. Be flexible and continue to wonder at life... it helps to keep us going. Be proactive and don't cripple yourself with 'I cannots'... There is so much we can do for ourselves....

Life on earth.... It's a losing battle in the end but one which we've to keep going until we're done with our journeying on this earth. Just my two sen.... a culmination of my world that I see.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Sizzling Sixteen... by Janet Evanovich

I cannot for the life of it connect the title to the story. You'd expect Sizzling Sixteen to have something to do being 16 and all that... riding on the emotional instability of being sixteen and the escapades of being 16 and all that. But it was nothing of that sort! I'm still trying to connect the title to the story as I write this. This is another one of those serials...

Anyway, it's a book full of gungho-ness, the female version. Enter the world of bonds(wo)man and misadventures of the female bounty hunters, make light by the bizarre plots within the main plot. You'd think they are invincible and that bounty hunting is cool in a world that is full of wacky people. But there are many parts which are hillarious and borders ludicrous.

This is one of those books with the Italian mafia sort of setting. Guns go blazing and language is quite foul. Romance and tensions are interwoven. Ending is predictable but the sort that we're suckers for. If you like the 'Everybody Loves Raymond' kind of humour, this book something of that sort.

Still it's a nice enough read. I'm finding it hard to get books from different authors now. So to be able to enjoy this one is nice. This is number 33!

Friday, July 23, 2010

How We Incapacitate Our Students...

I never knew that so many students get biasiswa (scholarships) until I started teaching. When I was schooling, we hardly heard of our friends getting scholarships let alone bantuan kewangan (financial aid).

These days, we have so many to give from... Biasiswa Kecil Persekutuan, Biasiswa Negeri, etc, etc plus all the other aids (such as Bantuan KWAM) for those who come from poor families. The idea of financial aid to assist the needy students is a good thing but I'm seeing scholarships given without accountability these days.

Why do we give out financial aid? Is it to help the families or to make sure the kids come to school and study? Aid with no accountability? Cos we don't seem to demand that from the students. I've students who get aid up to RM800 a year and when they start to miss school, no action is taken to warn them and they miss at whims. There is also no accountability in making sure their grades are maintained. If this is not helping to create subsidy mentality, then what is? There seem to be this reluctance to withdraw the scholarships with such kind of irresponsible actions. We have a high rate of MARA loan defaulters. Ever wonder where they got the idea that they're not accountable?

Driving without license. It is an open secret that many students drive to school without a valid license. The school can do so much to educate but we make excuses for them why they should be allowed to break the law.... and we wonder why Mat Rempits are so audacious. The feeling that one is able to get a one-up with the law is imprinted at an impressionable age. I remember how at school, the school would have spot checks to check if students had a valid driving license.... and there would be actions. Those kind were affirmative actions of a different kind. It turned us into law abiding citizens....

So you see, we have affirmative actions everywhere, and they very often affirmatively incapacitates stealthily.... teaching them that it's alright to bend to suit them.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Water.. Clean Water

A week ago, my filter 'jammed' up and had to be taken away for 'servicing'. It's been so long that I actually took a look at 'unfiltered' water. And to my surprise, the water which came out from the pipe actually looked yellowish to my naked eye. Water used to look cleaner from my last memory.

We've been building more water treatment plants. Yet the water that comes out of it seems to look muddy. My ex-neighbour used to tell me that she sometimes found pieces of mud in her washing machine.

And there is also rampant fixing of pumps to increase the water pressure into their houses. Years ago, when I complained to JKR, the guy they sent told us to fix one too, despite it being against the law. So, people continue to flout the law since enforcement seems to be very inconsistent and as a result our water pressure is low. Recently, it has become worse...

Water. We privatise them. Privatization = Better Service (???) Doesn't feel like it. Service is supposed to get better.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Cars and Perodua...

I've gone a full cycle and gone back to our 'national' car... well at least from a car badge point of view. Cos though everyone calls Perodua our second national car, it's also an open secret that they're assemblers for Daihatsu (now owned by Toyota). So essentially these are Toyota cars... see what wool we pull over our own eyes to make ourselves believe that we are technologically capable of building cars that can sell in the world market. Proton is still trying to break out of the kampung market; and 'depriving' us common folks of other makes of cars unless you are willing to pay dearly for them.

Anyway, my ECU blew second week into ownership, as in it totally kaputed! ... first the 'technicians' told me that it was a common problem. So I joined a forum to find out more. Then when my replacement board came, I was told that mine was the first case they've encountered, as in the whole board malfunctioning. My responses from the forum indicated so too. The technicians know not what they mouth.... So, I lived for almost a week with that darn engine icon blinking at me each time I drove. Then when it arrived and I went back to get it changed, I was told each board cost about 1K.... good thing mine was still under warranty. 8)

Then there was this funny metallic scrapping sound at intervals which bothered me. So I put it down in my complaints when I sent it for my first 1000km service. Turned out that it's a perennial problem in the car of this make. The engineers at their HQ have not sorted it out yet... I wonder if this is the US or some European countries with stringent laws... would they force a recall. This is Malaysia where recall of cars seem not to be compulsory. Nissan had a materials failure in their original batch of Sylphy. Sure they'd change the dashboard if it bubbles even though it's past the warranty period but there is no effort to recall all the cars back for a change. Different standards... we seem to settle for less. In the US they recall cars for anything that warranted it. Toyota have had a spate of recalls lately.

Anyway, I was told that the metallic sound no way compromises the safety and the handling of the car. But the point is the sound is not supposed to be there. So, I'm supposed to live with that grating sound until they come out with a solution. To be fair they should have informed the consumers of this problem. So I asked them how. And they said they'd call me once HQ sort the problem out... don't know when that'll be. Problem's been there for a while that's all I know, since the model has been in the market for some time.

But generally the service in the Perodua Service Centre has improved. They even serve breakfast and provide a free flow of drinks. 8) Their customer service people are friendly enough and try their best to please. There could still be some more improvement like cutting down the time for a customer to be seen.... but generally, it's a big leap from those days of old.

But it remains though, where cars are concerned, we pay a lot to protect our 'national' cars.

Monday, July 19, 2010

N For Noose by Sue Grafton

Back to another repeat cos I'm out of books by other authors. This is a Kinsey Milhone series. A guy dies and his wife felt she needed closure as the last few weeks before he died from his heart attack, he was rather restless.

Turns out she should have just let matters close themselves.... let sleeping dogs lie. The investigation turned up the reason for his restlessness. He was restless cos he was torn between justice and love for his wife and stepson. His stepson had killed the man and his accomplice who abused him. And he was at odds end whether to turn the young man in. But he died without having the opportunity to make his decision.

Kinsey dug that up and there were some supposedly 'thrilling' moments at the end of the book. Suffice to say, in such kinds of books, the heroine always triumphs. Book 32... getting there!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Naik and Naik Lagi.....

Okay... the dust is settling. That video telling us to change our lifestyle is back hogging the airways again... 5 in 1 naik they call this.... petrol, diesel, gas. And there is the price increase in sugar too. Add that to the hike in postage - Pos Malaysia will be sold soon I guess. So naik harga to make it attractive for the prospective buyer? But guess what, it's the old pakcik and makcik, your regular rural folks who will be worse hit. Public transport is inefficient. Businesses will increase their charges since their operating costs go up.

In the meantime, we've got lavish projects coming up like the new palace, monuments, etc. And we've expensive purchases like the Scorpene sub which is sitting in the dock... one with a leak some where, they are still figuring it out, so they say. That was the purchase linked to the unmentionable Mongolian lady. Today I read the PM's department has a budget of RM4 billion! And 40, 000 ++ staff! Bloated! So much for one department! Gahmen service has remained the main supplier of voter support I guess.

Then the national health insurance... somebody will probably make big bucks here too. Soon to come, toll, electricity tarriff, water (???).... biasalah, everyone must make money.

And then they tell the small time traders... don't naik harga. The percentage is only very small. 750 million ringgit they save from this exercise they say and they are going to channel it to health and education. The joke probably will be this... Yup! Education and health will be getting the money... probably to some building contractors or service provider, bloated tenders, a likelihood. Small traders have a right to naik their harga-lah. Big tai-kor naik harga... small underlings must follow also. If not how to survive.

All the hikes to prevent Malaysia from becoming bankrupt??? I think real austerity drive from the leaders for themselves would be a good start. But the plunder remains...

Rakyat didahulukan they say... Yup! Rakyat bayar dahulu!!!! The crap that they feed us with!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Jaya Waris

We have this at least once a year; sometimes twice where parents have to come to school to collect their children's report cards. Jaya Waris is basically Report Card Day, given a glossy overhyped name.

For most part, I dread these meetings. Cos, parents whose kids are already on track are more likely to show up. And I usually don't have much to tell them except that their kids are progressing. No point crapping when the parents already know quite a bit about their own kids. Moreover, I see my students 5 periods a week which is a total of 200 minutes. How well can I know them, really?

The parents who come. There is this set of parents who seem to be making excuses on behalf of their kids. I've come across such kids, who don't show up at school on their whims and fancy. Common excuses are usually they don't feel well. And the thing is some parents actually make the same excuses for their kids... and the kid would have been absent something like 60 days out of 200 schooling days. I find this most difficult as both parents as well as their kids seem to need an earful of talking to. I've had students who claim they have asthma and are always missing but when we have special days like Co-Curricular Day, Sports Day or even camps, they are miraculously healed and can attend without any problems. And when we point this out to their parents, we get sheepish looks before the same excuses are given again... that their kids are not well. When that happens, I will tell them, it's up to them whether they want to make sure their children come to school.

Then there are these parents who don't show up. To be frank, I am thankful for this group cos I don't have to force myself to talk about their children....

I get many a lot of responses where parents seem clueless about their children too. I don't really know what to make of this... I've been teaching too many years to also accept that this is also very biasa. But one thing though, I miss those old days when parents would give their children's teachers authority to discipline their children. These days, if we touch the kids, we'd had it. But guess what, all those psycho talk or getting the kids to try to understand why they need to be compliant at school? It doesn't work all the time. Some schools need punitive measures while some schools might work fine with just a word of warning. Easy comparison, if one yardstick works, we'd not be having prisons or detention centres. Everyone would be toeing the line just by being told.....

So this Jaya Waris event... I am just glad that it's over for this year!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Brave New World... by Aldous Huxley

This is number 31 and it's an old, old book. Published in 1931, this sci-fi contains a lot of ideas which must have seemed a bit far-fetched at its publication but as I read through again (I've read it before a long time ago) I found it rather interesting. Reason I decided to pick it up again was because Tim said he wanted to read it cos it had something to do with transhumanism... Okay, back to the book!

It's the future. The civilized world is made up of decanted humans.... in multiples; same 'product' from one egg. Viviparous births are looked upon as loathsome. The humans are decanted and conditioned for specific functions....labelled as Alphas, Betas, Deltas, Gammas, Epsilons... (and of course, Alphas are the smartest). But they are all systematically dumbed down through conditioning and drugs. Happiness is the goal of the society.... (but somehow it feels like a running away from life itself). God is made absent. People take 'soma' (drug induced) holiday. Soma is also a medium of escapism. And humans are conditioned from birth. Family, parents, monogamous relationships are out. Everyone can have everyone. There is no individual identity, only collective. Transhumanism is seen in the way science is used to preserve youth till you die, bliss through soma, conditioning not to fear death.... science is used to create 'shallow' people, unquestioning people, unthinking.....

It was difficult to get into the rhythm of reading cos the early part of the book was rather dry. But after all the practice that I've been getting of late from the various books that I read, I've learned that most books get better as you move along. Brave New World is no exception. I actually found myself wanting to know the ending; to Mr. Savage (John), brought up in the Savage Reservation, where the old ways still hold.

I bet people must have found it hard to believe such a scenario would exist back then when the book was published. But look around and I find many of the book's theme happening in our world today. Multiple sexual partners for one (The Star had a comprehensive report on what seems to a 'sexual revolution' among our young teens)... the breaking down of the family unit (just look at the number of single parents and children out of wedlock). And then religion, we may seem more religious, but religion today is back to being a political tool to divide and rule the people.

As in the book, the dumbing down of people numbs them from thinking beyond their own happiness.... and in the end like Mr. Savage, conflict desires added with collective 'pressure' to adhere and values/beliefs made him lose it all.

So, this old book still can pack a punch in making the reader think... that's if we're not dumbed down enough yet. Serious reading among many of our young is another area under siege today...

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Breakfast at ET...

Taman Golf which is located near the Taman Jubli Perak used to be an area with only one makan shop for years, a lady who sells noodles at the corner shop. Then she retired and somebody took over her shop. Now we have more variety. But this past one year has seen 2 new makan shops opening. And we're getting variety now... from roti canai to breakfast ala barat apart from the different types of mee, beehoon and kuey teow. 8)
Porridge
The more recent addition; we can even get chicken porridge from E.T., an inconspicuous looking shop fronting the football field. You've got to look real hard cos there is no signboard. Set breakfast comes with free-flow coffee or tea.
Set breakfast
And also set breakfast... the cook is still trying to get it right. It's been a while since he left the restaurant business... so he is a little 'rusty'. He asked me what to else to add to his breakfast set and I told him baked beans. It'll be featured in the near future. The set comes together with bread and real butter. He'll be adding jam in too he says. There's also fruit juice, as in real orange juice, actually blended there and then and not from the box! I find this a nice touch. Also free flow coffee and tea!

Breakfast time is from 7.30 a.m. to 10.00 a.m. They serve lunch and dinner too, more of Thai type of food and also some western dishes like chicken chop, steaks. I've been there a few times. Food seems to be improving with each visit. Their beef noodles saw improvement the second time I had it.

Update: 11.00 p.m.
Son took his sis for dinner at ET today and she came back saying that the picture of the set breakfast now has baked beans and jam. Wah! The proprietor very cepat and cekap! And she is expecting us to take her there this weekend. LOL!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Goodbye World Cup 2010.. And the winner is....

....... Paul the Octopus!!!!

End of a month of football fever... if you can call it a fever. It used to quite a number of my classmates would catch the 'fever'. My best friend and I would even curi-curi call each other at night on football nights without our parents' knowledge. And we'd stay awake to watch the game just so that we can share the excitement the next morning at school.... that was so long ago.

Enter my classes this past month... I'd have a few sleepy heads in class. But it wouldn't be football that they stayed up for. They'd be some but the numbers are few. So where once, we might catch forty winks in class because of football, these days kids are all sleepy in class but not because of football. And actually very few of them have caught the football fever. I find my peers (the adults) more into the WC than the kids.

How to best remember this edition? Nope! Not Messi, Kaka, Drogba or about 'em footballers showing off their bodies (with as little as possible. These days, it's a lot of showing as much flesh as possible). But unfortunately they're not as hot as the living oracles!!!!... Paul the sotong, and the wannabes; Mani the parakeet and Pauline the female octopus.

This morning as I walked up the stairs to the office to sign in, my student who was hoping that the Netherlands would win said we lost. My reply to him was... "Yup! The sotong won!" Guess you can call this another form of football gila-ness. LOL! And that's how I'll remember this World Cup!

And oh yes! The ongoing Malaysian Badminton Open... I think it got totally eclipsed by the WC, plus the fact that the field (minus many of the top players) is as predictable as the rising and setting of the sun. And it had no Paul or Mani or Pauline or whatever form of living oracles to spice it up!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Sakae Sushi...Losing Its Awesomeness

The last few Saturdays have been very busy times.... some renovation; which means some painting job for me as well. Painting means there's cleaning to do before that. So, yesterday, even though we had quite a lot to do, while clearing up the store; then I decided to repaint the walls in the store too and throw away stuff which we've not used for a long time. It's an unending battle against the things that collect around the house. By the time we were done it was mid afternoon.

But we decided to go somewhere different to makan since it's been a while since we went out of town... so we made a drive to Sunway Carnival in Seberang Prai, to Sakae Sushi for our dinner; also partly to try out our new upgrade, the Garmin nuvi 1460! All 5 inches of display now! LOL! New added features. Our old Garmin nuvi 255 has found a new home... I hope it will be useful.
Garmin 1460
It's got this Eco Drive app in it which can tell you whether you are an eco driver! And it also has bluetooth connectivity.

Anyway, 3rd time at Sakae Sushi... been a couple of months since we went there. But somehow this time, the wowness has gone. I was looking forward to sampling some oysters since July is supposed to be their oyster month.
Crispy Potato Oyster
We had fried Crispy Potato Oysters too. Verdict - oysters are best eaten raw. Tastier and sweeter. Fry them and you lose their taste to the flour and oil.... in this case, the shredded potatoes. Presentation may be nice but nothing beats raw oysters! So after the disappointment with the fried oyster, I decided to leave my stomach for raw oysters next time... don't want to spoil it for myself! LOL!
Beef Shiogayaki
I ordered the Beef Shiogayaki bento set. I like Japanese food for their simple cooking in their bento sets. I'm not so much of a sushi fan. My other 3 family members like their mochi. Their endamame is not as nice as the ones I get from Kaede in Alor Setar...
Salmon and Scallops
Son took their Sakae Gozen set with salmon and baked scallops in cheese and roe....
Fried Chicken
...fried chicken... fried to perfection.
Curry
and curry.
Sushi
We also had some of their sushi from the conveyor belt. This is one of their more unique looking ones - I've forgotten what it's called.
gari,sushoga,pickled ginger
But this Other Half and I like... their pickled ginger called gari or sushoga, which came free. Judging by the number of empty containers that glided past us, this must be a huge favourite with the patrons. We also ordered their desert ice-cream again this time, the pineapple sorbet but it was a huge disappointment. Very bland. Hardly could taste the pineapple in it.

A short afternoon out, after a day made up of tuition, cleaning, painting and clearing.... quite nice.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Of sons and daughters...

"These days, even us, Chinese are beginning to feel that daughters are better than sons. Sons get married and follow their wives. They seldom come home to see their parents or show concern about their parents well-being." .. the conversation was between a Malay (lady) bank officer and her Chinese (man) client. I was forced to eavesdrop cos they were talking so loudly.

Sons... they are important cos they carry the family surname. Sons are supposed to take care of their parents. Married sons used to live with their parents. They are expected to take care of their parents. A husband could divorce his wife if she does not produce a son.... (I guess they didn't know the story of the boy sperm and girl sperm). Women used to take more crap when ignorance ruled.

Enter the 21st century. My parents' generation are beginning to find out that their emancipated daughters generally show more concern about their well-being. Daughters are more likely to check on their parents, get into action to see to their needs, call regularly just to chat.

Sons on the other hand seems to act only when a call is made out, an SOS sent or a prodding from their sisters. I hear many laments from parents about sons these days. And they're mostly the same... that their sons don't seem to show much concern about them and that they seem to show more concern to their wife's family. So, these parents naturally felt dejected.

Where once daughters married into her husband's family and had no other means, today's daughters have their own independence. Many actually have their own means. Some even wear the pants of the family. With practice from dealing with bigger things at work and also dough in their pocket, they are able to do more for themselves and their parents. I think confidence level among women has never been higher.

Sons and daughters... I also hear a lot of the older generation telling themselves and their friends, sometimes to the younger generation.... daughters are better than sons. It used to be parents were assured that their sons will take care of them in their old age. But these days, many are realizing that their daughters seem to show more promise. Many hearts are disappointed... many values are at the verge of being reshaped.

Sons, daughters... I think they should show the same concern for their parents. Sons could do more, I feel. But men usually want the least problems in their lives. Wives and in-law relationships have always tended to be stickier. Today's wife no longer want to be subjected to her mother-in-law. Mini frictions tend to lead to tensions which bring on cracks in the relationship. And the wife inadvertently steers away from her in-laws, with her sometimes oblivious (sometimes conveniently) husband in tow. There used not to be any choice cos sons were expected to live with their parents. So, things had to work out regardless.... It's not their sons don't care. Men tend be more oblivious often times or it could be they just find all this emotional intricacies too much of a hassle. So, the kind of concern that a parent would hope from their sons... it's just hard to find it materializing.

Bottom line - relationships are difficult. Even though it's among 2 sets of parents and their offsprings joined in matrimony, to get a synchronous and harmonious relationship is already complicated enough.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Holland vs Spain 2010

Paul, the sotong wielded its oracle power and dealt a blow to the German psyche even before the game began... and the sotong was proven right again! LOL! But Paul better beware too, I supposed. Football betting is everywhere! With an oracle like Paul, won't the bookies want to make sushi or paella out of it?

Holland vs Spain... David vs Goliath kind of game. A small country of 16 million against a country of 46 million. But both are rich. Holland is small country with harsh conditions, it being lowland. The Dutch are survivors, having to constantly keep the water out of their living spaces. But that has not stopped them from prospering. It's percapita is easily 7 times more than Malaysia's. Think Holland, think windmills, tulips and Dutch Lady 8)... they are a very successful agricultural nation. The funny thing is the Dutch did not expect to make it to the finals... they had to find a new hotel for the final week! LOL!

Spain is one of the richest countries in the world. When I think of Spain I always think of bull fights, matadors....Pamplona, the running of the bulls, where (foolish) young men get gored in the streets of Pamplona! Spain has a rich history, Roman Empire, Reconquista and the famed Spanish galleons which prowled the seven seas during the age of imperialism. When I think of them, the image is one of aggressors. But the team should be good; European Champion... many of their players play together in the same team in the Spanish league. Home grown talents who remain at home.... how not to click?

Football may be a game for all... but those who make it to the pinnacle of this game still come from the moneyed places. You still need to have $$$ to develop and draw real talent. Even most of Brazil's talented players play in Europe... where the money is.

I'll be rooting for the small guy this round... the Netherlands. I hope they win. Three appearances in the finals... third time lucky, I hope. Spain goes in as favourite to win... here's one for the small guys (gals)! 8)

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

World Cup 2010

It's coming to an end and I've yet to catch a full game on TV. My football fever is kinda luke-warm this time but it doesn't mean that I am not into it. Hard to find 90 minutes to spare. Thank God for live scores on the Net. My kind of football watching (or any other games) is mainly keeping score keeping via the Net. LOL!

Netherlands is in! I actually got up to check the result at 4 a.m., with a little nudge from the storm (had a big storm early this morning)! Digest this! A country of 6 million can send team to the finals of the most watched tournament in the world. We have almost 5 times the number of people!!! And our football team is in the doldrums! So much for Malaysia Boleh!

Tonight it'll be either Germany or Spain. I'm rooting for Germany. My favs, Brazil and England didn't get as far as I would have hoped. But the most interesting I found was France. Made up highly paid and talented players, jaded but just didn't measure up. Professional yet not.

Add that to a coach who didn't seem to care and seemed out of touch with the real situation. Some say he was vindictive, some say he showed favoritism.. but whatever it is, the result showed all. France had a shameful exit from the World Cup because they imploded from within. The coach behaved like a proverbial ostrich with its head stuck in the sand, oblivious to many facts. In life too, sometimes we surround ourselves with 'ostrich-people'; people who never paint us the real picture but root us on with the sort of things we want to hear for reasons known to them.

So this edition of World Cup is coming to an end. The passing of time has made me realized that (yup!) there is nothing new under the sun! Things in this world seem to share similar intricacies in their workings one way or the other. The lessons are more or less the same too though situations differ. Sports, work, relationships... they seem to move on this similar cause and effect line.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Where did my time go?

Father Time has been absolutely whizzing his way around my life the last couple of days... I was driving to school today and for a while I actually had to crack my head to recall what I did two days ago! Brains cells got overwhelmed... LOL!

But I am not complaining much, except when it has to involve my kids. Getting them to help, or to see that they need to play a role in the things that we do is always a battle of wills. Ours is to get them involved and theirs to get out of it. Life's cycle revisiting itself! *sigh*

So after a few knocks, it was with fondness that I am reminded of the good dinner we had after church at Ah Ho's... angchiu mee suah, egg salad, fried mee suah (which Onnie thought was fried beehoon!), chocolate cake... in good company. Table talk was wedding plans! Weddings are afoot!!! Yay! And oh ya! It was put forward that dogs are better than children... potty trained dogs. They stay loyal, don't talk back and can be replaced for variety! LOL! So even though dinner came after church and an after-school of running around town on various errands and some major cleaning for the house, it was nevertheless a good day. Bushed and whacked... nice in a way!

Yesterday was no better. After stripping the paint for the wall the day before, it had to be repainted. More errands round the town after school and then it was down to painting under the hot sun. Tan is not much of a problem now that swimming gives me a perpetual one all the time! I've not gotten to the stage where I feel to be fair is important. If that is a consideration, there'll be many things will be off-limits! There is always a price to be paid, either way! Depends which side of the divide appeals to you.

Son came back as I was about done; neck and hands were achy by then. And that was when the geram-ness came in... ask a teenager to assist and there'd be a whole host of reasons they give which can drive you mad!

Physically, it was manageable. Regular workouts have enabled the body to withstand a little heavier physical work. And at night Son and I rewarded ourselves with the super delicious nasi kari from Jalan Stadium. Mutton curry is only available on Mondays. We had to wait 50 minutes to get to our turn but the food was worth it! Super duper delicious!!! Finger lickin' good!

Week is only half gone... for all the things that I can still do, it's a blessing! It means I still have the strength and enthusiasm for those things which we sometimes think as drudgery. It means that l still take interest in mundane things that life is sometimes about. So, time gone into these everyday (and not so everyday) things means I'm still me! That is something, I reckon I should be thankful for.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Self Criticism...

This article from The Star got me thinking... in it Muhyiddin lashed out at these Malays who criticize the government. Self criticism... if we cannot take criticism from ourselves or within our own group, how then can we improve. I guess most of us are like the proverbial frog under the coconut shell... he thinks his world is the best.

The Muhyiddin way of looking at things is prevalent everywhere. At home we have parents like that too. Even some of our friends are like that. In school I have bosses who cannot take criticism too. It's mostly their way. Criticisms... sometimes we need a healthy dose of it in order to keep the check and balance mechanism working.

Why did great empires fall? Lack of criticism. The rulers of the great Roman empires certainly did not take criticism kindly. I am sure self criticism did not apply much. The Chinese dynasties weren't that far behind. And look what happened to them. I am sure there were voices which criticize their decadent lifestyle or autocratic rule but the criticism fell on deaf ears and minds which thought themselves mighty. In the end, they fell into shambles.

So, Muhyiddin should actually listen to his own people who criticize his government's policies. If their criticisms hold water, perhaps then we will achieve what we've potential to as a country. Just as in we should listen and evaluate ourselves critically sometimes... a reminder to myself.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Underwater Camera Case

Been thinking it would be nice it would be to have a camera that can be used in wet or underwater conditions. Didn't want to get a camera that can be used in the water since the specs usually don't meet up to our requirements and we are not willing to fork out so much for one that does. So we went for the next best alternative! Camera casing!!!

Underwater camera casings are all quite expensive, costing a couple of hundred ringgits and above. But this one is quite cool and cheap. It's not your regular fixed-shape hard casing but more of the soft plastic type. Would have passed for a waterproof plastic bag if not for the protrusion of the lense. And because of this plastic bag-like shape, it becomes a universal casing for the Canon Ixus camera range.
Camera Underwater Case
This is Dicapac WP-410 Underwater Casing which they claim can withstand up to 10 meters of depth. Got it from ShaShinKi. At RM99! Shopping online means they deliver it to your doorstep too. Wonderful, isn't it?
Pool
This was taken with the camera (in the case) half submerged in the water. 8)
Underwater
These 2 were trying to get away from me. They hugged the pool side cos they didn't want their faces to be caught. Kinda fun to be able to snap in the water. 8)

And this... Underwater Video! I thought it was nice to be able to shoot my lil one swimming in the water! 8) Cheap and boleh pakai... this Dicapac WP-410 Underwater Casing. Maybe we can start considering going for some sea activities soon... 8) Only snag being waterproof means it's also soundproof and it cannot capture the squeals that these kids occasionally yelp out!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

The Choice... by Nicholas Sparks

Book 30! Ten more to go before I reach my target for the year. 8) This is the second book from Sparks that I am reading, the first being Nights in Rodanthe. Anyway, 2 Sparks' books and they seem to prod this emo-ness in one.

The story makes a good reminder to appreciate our spouses, though I think the part where Gabby's (the lead character) unfaithfulness to her 'first' boyfriend is not something I'd applaud. But the theme for this particular novel, a good marriage being the closest thing to heaven (or hell) on earth, is quite a nice reminder that the marriage institution still has many good things which many seem to forget now.

The plot is rather simple, 2 main characters meet and it was ZAP! First meeting and sparks were already flying. Like they knew they were meant for each other.... a little like the Nights in Rodanthe kind of plot. In a 24-hour span, romance blossoms! But then again, lately I've become a sucker for such kinds of improbability.

The choice in the title simply refers to the choice Travis (lead character) had to make whether to honour his wife's (Gabby) will about no heroics in a medical condition with 'no hope'... after 11 years of wedded bliss and 2 children later. She fell into a coma after an accident. So while the storyline is a little unoriginal at times, I still think it's a good read, simply because it has a simple story line... minus all the intricacies and web of this and that. The simplicity appeals. Today the institution of marriage is under siege from women's emancipation fight and the moral revolution of the previous century. I heard over the news recently that in Japan they throw divorce parties... We seem to celebrate everything!

To fall in love is easy, to stay in love... that takes more than just chemistry. It takes commitment and I guess that word just don't quite appeal today to many. The use and discard (pakai-buang) society in us is creeping into the marriage institution.

But this book gives you a warm and fuzzy feel after reading; tugs the heart, makes you a little mopey... So no matter how out of fashion some may think of marriage, I still believe that the bedrock of a society is still the institution of family and that requires a good marriage.

So, this remains a nice read despite unoriginal plot. Also, it is light reading; did it in a day... made possible cos I had to sit in a 2 hour long meeting, not because I mattered but to make up the number.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Banana Leaf Rice @ Sri Ananda Bahwan

Meant to put this up some time ago but kept procrastinating the uploading of photos from my camera.... This was during the church camp at Sungai Petani. The young people ajak us out for lunch with them... this is where we went, banana leaf rice at Sri Ananda Bahwan in Sungai Petani. They have a few branches in Penang. This one is located somewhere near the old SP District Hospital. We'd been there once but SP wasn't exactly familiar territory. Our trusty Garmin came in handy... 8) It got us there with minimal hassle!
Banana Leaf Rice,Sungai Petani
You've got to walk down into the restaurant as it is lower than the road. We chose to makan in the air-con room but it's rather cramped as they try to squeeze in too many tables in a small narrow rectangle space.
Sri Ananda Bahwan
First they lay our 'plates'... these are nature's disposable plates. Then the waiter came with all the goodies and dished them onto our banana leaves.
Sri Ananda Bahwan
This is almost the complete set, minus the rice... We also ordered extra chicken and mutton to go along with the standard fare.
Sri Ananda Bahwan
This is all the stuff that we're supposed to stuff into our stomachs. Oh ya! Apart from the rice, we also ordered extra beriyani rice...
Sri Ananda Bahwan
There's also this warm ginger taste yoghurt drink to wash down our food. But our gal didn't like the smell. I found it quite soothing...
Sri Ananda Bahwan
'Plates' all cleaned up with nature's fork and spoon also. But you can always ask for those metal ones if you do not know how to use your hands. LOL! Food is okay-lah but the experience is priceless as there was one among us who had never eaten this before. And Sam will leave for his studies soon.... so memories are made of these.

2Suara, 1Malaysia

I was listening to the news today... and this caught my attention.

What have Suara Keadilan and Suara Perkasa have in common? 1Malaysia standards. Suara Keadilan license is not renewed for bringing up some issues, like FELDA going bankrupt? Suara Perkasa on the other hand continues to publish despite being 'extremist' and extreme.

One highlights what might be wrong in our society while one seems to sometimes stoke some fires. Yet both get the same 1Malaysia standard... dubious standards.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Matterhorn: A Novel of the Vietnam War

...by Karl Marlantes. This took super duper long to finish cos the story felt so duper slow in the beginning. In between I took time to read Book 28.

Think Marine Corps - their Semper Fi (Fi for Fidelis), leave no Marines behind; there's this notion of loyalty to the death attached to it. The actual meaning of the phrase is "Always Faithful".

Anyway, I almost wanted to put down the book in the early chapters cos it was going on and on in one spot. But I've this thing about quitting things once I started. So, I made myself continue and the book got better as I progressed. Instead of being put off by the ever colourful language of the Marines, I began to see some of the other issues. The "F" word is never far. But I realised that the word itself implies the fear and longing in each of them to make it out alive. Desperate people do desperate things.... foul language is just a form of bravado, to cite yourself to what you feel is certain death.

War is stupid. Vietnam war is no different. Countless young men sent to their doom. The main character Mellas, a reservist in charge of the platoon provides the heartbeat to the novel. Going to war with ambitions (with a Princeton education he wanted 'war' on his resume as he wanted to be a politician) we slowly see the transformation as his lofty pursuits took a backseat to survival.

Out in the bush, fighting a meaningless war, with politician-like commanders, and left out to the extremes of the bush with resupplies coming in short, wild tigers, even without the NVA soldiers, life hung precariously. They take Matterhorn (a hill) then left it and the NVAs came and bunkered in. Then they had to fight to retake it, in the process many died brutal deaths, and finally to leave it again. Makes you wonder the logic in it all safe for the fact that you want as many NVAs to die, more of a senseless war of attrition. In wearing the other party down, you wear yourself down too. Not a smart move.

And set in the 60s when America was at the height of its racial prejudices (KKK and Panthers), enmity and bitterness were also brought into the Vietnam war. You begin to wonder why these people actually fight together, the whites and blacks. Yet, the same extremities above also brought them to depend on each other, form comradeship.

Anger, hatred, differences... it's silly to go to war. It's silly to harbour them. Sometimes it's just best to walk away. Wars over ideology and wars over greed and conquest are different. One is worth fighting, the other is not just worth it. But then again, within each one, the lines can be kinda thin too sometimes.

Semper Fi... it's admirable how the Marines carried even their dead (turning putrid, emitting foul stenches) back to base so that they can be airlifted home. I have my couple of 'hopeless but alive' students and I'm thinking of abandoning them.... and I justify it by saying that they bog the others down... I could think of many more reasons still but this kinda made me think too.

Our educators too are politicians. They too watch from afar and demand results... and they cheer to themselves when things turn out well... good staff work they call it. Out in the field, we are very often left to fend for ourselves. And this is where good colleagues come in... it would be a double bonus if our 'platoon leaders' (Principals and co) stand and battle on with us.... but that too is a scarcity these days. Many HMs lack substance and you get the feeling that professionalism has been replaced with vindictiveness, that schools are run like little fiefdoms, sometimes. Empowerment be damned. The lack of need to actually go down into the 'battlefield' has also turned them into beaurocrats cum politicians.

This being book number 29. And a really interesting read in the end too.