Friday, January 16, 2015

Bras & Heart Attacks

It must have been about a year ago when I almost died of a heart attack; Mia told me that she was taking JJ to the mall to shop for bras! I almost fell off my chair. My JJ? Bras? When the hell did JJ grow breasts; how come I didn't know anything about it? I mean, I've been waiting for Mia to grow breasts for over 20 years, and now JJ is buying bras?

So anyway, JJ's been wearing bras since then, and just this week she's entered into Form 1. Now both Mia and I are active in sports, although we are nowhere near the elite level. We've been running a couple of marathons and ultra marathons; and in recent years we've also tried some triathlons. 

JJ, on the other hand, has always been active in TV marathons and only TV marathons. But recently she suddenly developed a strange interest in sports. Two weeks ago, she asked me if I could buy her a pair of running shoes. I was doubtful at first. If you're into running, you would know that a pair of high-end running shoes would cost anything north of RM350. I wasn't prepared to buy a pair for JJ for the sake of a flush-in-the-pan kind of interest which will just die off as quickly. So in the end I brought her to a Bata shop where she chose a pair of Power. It's much cheaper, but I still paid RM70.

Last Friday evening, I brought her to the Likas Sports Complex to run at the jogging track. She ran for about 1km and was almost out of breath. Then we walked a bit and then ran a bit until finally we covered a total distance of 2.8km. Not bad for a start. She had sore legs the day after. I thought that was the first and last time she would run. To my surprise, however, by Tuesday, she was asking me when will we get to run again. I couldn't find a suitable time, so I said it had to be Friday, i.e. this evening.

During lunch break today, it suddenly occurred to me that perhaps it's a good idea to buy a pair of sports bra for JJ. But I wasn't sure about the size. So I texted her mommy. I waited for a long time for her reply, because she's just one of those annoying people who'd take eternity to reply a text message. 

But when she did reply, I was surprised by her instructions—it looked a lot like an order! She said buy 3 bras for JJ, size S. And while I'm at it, buy 5 pairs for her too, size M. It shouldn't be just any sports bra though; it must be adidas! Other brands somehow just don't agree with her body!

Accordingly, I walked to GraceOne at Suria Mall, went straight to the sports bras section and started picking a few. Then I saw a running shirt which I thought would be good for JJ too. So I took that shirt. Now it's kinda awkward for a man to buy bras, especially that many, so I wasn't planning to spend a long time checking the seams and fashion etc. I merely grabbed some from the display racks.

Then came the part where I had to pay for those bras. Little did I know that those little running outfits cost over RM100 a piece. What the hell, it's not like they are made of gold, are they? A few pieces of bras plus a shirt, came up to a whopping RM1,080. I swear one of these days, I will really die of a heart attack because of bras. Come to think of it, why would Mia need running bras for anyway; even my breasts are bigger than hers, for crying out loud!

Well, this better be good, JJ better make sure that she runs regularly; otherwise I'm gonna whip her like a horse!


Monday, January 12, 2015

Playing God

Regular readers of this blog would know by now that I don't believe in religions. Religions can be quite confusing—there are several out there and each one has several versions too. And all of them claim that they're inspired by God—the true God, of course. Yet the ideologies can be substantially different from one another.

As a matter of fact, I'm not even sure if God exists at all; I have yet to see any concrete evidence that he does. Yet, you'd be surprised to know that if I have to choose between believing and disbelieving in his existence, I think I would choose to believe, in spite of having no scientific evidence.

I suppose it's entirely possible for atoms to react randomly with one another under a specific condition to form molecules which would then react further to form complex substances; and after several hundreds and thousands of chain reactions over a very long period, to form organic compounds. Maybe it's possible for that process to repeat itself many, many more times to form living organisms like what we have in the world today. Billions of years, mind you!

But I have a bit of problem to believe that all those can happen randomly even over billions of years. I'm inclined to believe that all those processes might have happened by design by someone or something; but as I said earlier, I have no material proof of it. I shall just keep an open mind and keep myself guessing until when and if concrete evidence surfaces to support either case.

However, if—I say IF—God really does exist; and if it's true that he is almighty and has all the power to do anything he wants; if he can indeed create the world, the universe, life as we know it; and if he can just as easily destroy all his creation in a heartbeat, what would he do with that power? If there is any truth at all that he flooded the entire world and wiped out almost the entire human population; and if it's true that he could turn the entire population of a city into stones, just imagine how easily he could end the world! Just a snap of the fingers, and a huge asteroid could hit earth with a trillion megatons' worth of nuclear explosion and everything would be gone in the blink of an eye. That would really suck, huh?

God, if he exists, is hard to understand sometimes. I can't imagine what I would do if I were God. Having such a power, it may be tempting to become trigger-happy sometimes simply because I'm answerable to no one! 

But the one thing that I'd probably NOT do is to expect others to kill for me. I don't need others to blow themselves up; or shoot those who disobey me, because I can do that myself much more quickly and effectively, thank you! And I don't even have to explain my actions too! I'm not answerable to anyone, remember!

But then again, what do I know? I'm not God.


Thursday, January 8, 2015

Time Management

For over a week now the net has been bombarded with daily updates on the AirAsia Flight QZ8501 tragedy. Now before you get the wrong idea, let me hasten to say that I’m not an aviation expert, and I shall not pretend to be one. Unlike so many people out there who’re convinced that they know exactly what happened to Flight QZ8501, and how it happened simply based on bits and pieces of information they got from the net, I’m gonna just wait till the investigations are concluded by experts who’re actually conducting the investigation and relying on facts! 

Reading the comments in online articles and facebook postings, I’ve noticed that there are many, many supporters of AirAsia and its CEO, Tan Sri Tony Fernandes, but there are also haters out there who’re fast to take the opportunity to raise their complaints against the airline. I suppose it’s impossible to please everybody—no matter how hard the airline tries, somehow there will always be some people who’d be complaining about something. 

One particular complaint caught my attention. A commenter said that AirAsia has been mean to its passengers by being overly strict on their departure times. She shared her experience; she arrived at the departure gate after it was closed only half a minute earlier. Yet she was denied to pass through. She said when she looked outside, she could still see the last few passengers climbing the stairs into the plane. As the result of missing that flight, she had to buy a new ticket for the next flight! 

Some people are born with weaknesses in time management. I should know, because I’m married to one of those creatures. I guess nobody’s perfect, and I can therefore accept that some people are just not meant to be good in time management, as long as their tardiness does not affect me. However, it drives me up the wall when I become a victim of such weakness. I’ve been on flights which were delayed because some idiots just couldn't understand that the departure time had been fixed, and they simply had to be late, thus resulting in holding up the whole plane. Because of one or two idiots, 200 others had to become the victims. 

On the other hand, I myself for numerous reasons in the past have been late too, which resulted in missing my flights. But I accepted full responsibility for my tardiness; I shall not dream of commenting negatively against an airline which is doing whatever it can to stick to the schedule. People are depending on that schedule! There are so many other factors that are beyond the control of the airline that can cause delays. We really don’t need to add to that! 

A lot of things in life have fixed times to happen; and many of them involve many people. Please, for heaven’s sake, don’t be the idiot that makes everybody else waste their time; not 10 minutes, not five minutes, and not even half a minute. Be on time or take the next flight; or even the flight after that. Don’t blame others for your own weakness. Get over it!


Wednesday, January 7, 2015

The Search For John Rambo

JJ turned 12 last July, and by this coming July she's becoming a teenager. As you can imagine, it's only natural that as she grows older, her behaviour and interests would also change. That transition period has begun, and I'm in most cases happy to allow nature to take its course. After all, it's not like I haven't been expecting those little changes. Because she's a girl, she's begun to spend increasingly longer times in the bathroom this lately. I'm not sure what difference the extra time for the grooming process would make on her appearance, but women just simply must spend a lot of time in the bathroom somehow, you see.

However, the thing that I did not expect of JJ was her interest in action movies. She's more or less outgrown Barbie and many of the animated movies, and more into grown-ups' movies these days. I thought she'd be more into love stories, but apparently I was wrong.

So anyway, she had a long holiday after the UPSR, and she spent a lot of time at home. Since she's interested in action movies, I thought it would be a good idea to buy some of the old but famous movies like Commando, or Die Hard series and of course Rambo stories. Accordingly, I brought her to the shop selling Blu-rays and DVDs in Centrepoint.

Now I find it very annoying when people don't know about their jobs. I would expect that a shoe seller should know the ins and outs about shoes so that he is able to provide information about shoes to his customers. Or a watch dealer should know a lot about watches. So likewise, I would expect the person in the business of selling movies to know a lot about movies, although of course I can't expect him to know everything about the movie industry.

As I was checking the shelves containing hundreds of DVDs, a young shop assistant, perhaps in his early twenties, approached me and asked if he could help. I told him that I was looking for the Rambo movies. He replied excitedly that I've come to the right place. He went off to another aisle and returned a short while later with this:

I said perhaps he heard me wrongly; and then repeated that I wanted the Rambo movies. He gave me that awkward look as if I didn't know what I was talking about, and then said this is Rambo. I said no, that's not Rambo! With a little snicker, he shook his head, as if talking to a hopeless customer. I became even more annoyed!

Thankfully, however, upon hearing the commotion, the shop owner emerged from behind the counter to investigate what's going on. I explained that I was looking for the Rambo movies, but was given the Expendables instead. The shop owner disappeared for and while and came back with the Rambo movies; and the young shop assistant was amazed—that was probably the first time he learned that that actor's name was not Rambo! But knowing the kind of creature I was dealing with, I'm guessing he probably still doesn't know what's that actor's name even up to now!

So anyway, JJ loved the movies, except that she didn't find the latest one, the fourth in the series very convincing. I can't blame her; I mean, seriously now, no matter how you look at it, a man in his mid sixties acting like people half his age is just too much to swallow. But wait till she hears the latest news—Stallone is gonna act as Rambo yet again, and this time he's gonna be about 70! There isn't much info about Rambo part 5: Last Blood, but I hope it's not about Rambo shooting at targets in an amusement centre.


Sunday, January 4, 2015

Shoulder Injury

I was in a shopping mall late yesterday morning when I received a call from my sister. She had wanted to visit me at home because she had heard of the recent accident, and she wanted to know if I were in before actually coming to my house. 

She wasn't the first person to ask me about my injury. In fact a fair number of people have asked me the same question, and I've given the same story which is fairly famous by now, but fast becoming monotonous. So I've decided to blog about it. I can then direct the next person who'd ask me the question to this post, so that I'd be spared from telling the same story again!

As you all know, most kids these days are allergic to house chores; and JJ is no exception. I dare say she's perhaps just slightly above average in school, and she'll be going into Form 1 when school reopens the week after next. Unfortunately, she's been put into the class with Chinese lessons in Lok Yuk. I'm not in favour of her taking Chinese at this stage because I'd rather she focus more on English and Malay. There is a lot of memory work for Chinese, and JJ's brain isn't so good when it comes to memorizing stuff. I reckon her memory space is not so big—so far the capacity is barely enough for memorizing things like the lyrics of Let It Go, you see. Wait, I am getting to my injury, please be patient!

So as a part of JJ's training, her mom told her to wash the bathrooms. Although some of our friends find that surprising, it's actually a good training for JJ, really. I mean, I was doing my own laundry when I was her age. So anyway, as I said, JJ is allergic to house chores. She did wash the bathrooms, but because she wasn't supervised, she did not rinse the floor thoroughly. I'm sure you're getting the idea now?

I was in the shower on Monday evening, and I slipped on that forsaken floor. It happened so fast. My right hand reacted on instinct to break my fall; except that my body was turning as I was falling. I landed heavily on my shoulder, but my arm was in an awkward position—it was folded to the back upon impact. Because of the stretch to the back, I could feel my biceps stretched too suddenly, thus causing a tear. I must have torn some tissues in my right shoulder as well. Surprisingly though, I did not break any bone.

Now as you can imagine, there isn't much flexibility in the shoulder of a man of 49; and for the arm to be folded to the back like that is not a proceeding to be recommended. The pain was excruciating to say the least. I took Celebrex 200mg and went to bed. Considering the nature of the accident, I passed a satisfactory night, but I was awaken several times—the slightest movement would cause so much pain.

The next morning, I could hardly move my right arm. In fact it was aching badly even when I let my arm dangle down. It felt like it weighed a ton, and my shoulder was complaining. It was then that I had a revelation. To lose the use of my right arm was very challenging. Simple chores that we tend to take for granted like brushing teeth and shaving were extremely hard to accomplish. I said so to Mia, but because she's an ex-St. Franciscan, it was absolutely necessary for her to disagree with me, you see—she said that if it were her, she'd probably be able to cope just fine; she reckoned that she'd still be able to do stuff by about 70% of what she could do with her right arm. 

After over 20 years of marriage, you'd have learned that sometimes it's a waste of time and energy to debate this sort of things with your wife. But that's not to say I did not have to suppress the flash of brilliant idea of breaking her right arm so that she could demonstrate her 70% to me. Thankfully, however, I was able to come to my senses in a jiffy.

Anyway, I went to see a GP that morning, and then ended up in an arm sling like this:

I've been on Celebrex since Monday evening, and by 48 hours after the accident, I was able to bend my arm. I've been regaining strength in my biceps, but there is still a big patch of blood clot there from the torn tissue.

It will probably take another week or two for the pain in my shoulder to subside, and right now I will still need Celebrex. But as soon as the pain becomes bearable, I shall stop taking the painkiller. By Friday, with the help of Celebrex, I went to the gym to run. I ran 7km and found that by limiting the arm swing, the pain in my shoulder was bearable. So this morning, I went ahead with my scheduled 21km LSD with Dr Peter. I survived the workout. Another dose of Celebrex after breakfast, but I hope this can be the last dose. I shall try to endure the pain beginning from tomorrow; and I'm confident that I can run without painkiller by next week. However, I'm afraid swimming and cycling will have to wait a little longer; perhaps 2 weeks is a conservative estimate.

So there you go, folks, not a very good start to 2015 for me. But I'm convinced that I'm still on target for a PB in Tokyo in February! Keeping my fingers crossed!


Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Curtains—2014

Turkeys, as we all know, are experiencing a lot of stress at this time of the year. They probably haven't had a good night sleep over the last couple of weeks. If only animals could plan ahead, they would have gone on a strict diet since at least 6 weeks ago. But alas, if animals could plan, this world would be a very different place. Heck, it seems to me that many humans have no clue whatsoever about the concept of planning for the future anyway!

I was at a shopping mall around noon today for a last minute bold adventure to buy presents for Mia and JJ, and I had quite a revelation. Over the past few months, too many people have been complaining that prices of goods are escalating fairly quickly. Each day, one can see many, many people grumbling, typically through facebook, about the present government. If there is anything in the least that is bad, it must be because of the present government. Even if it rains heavily and some places become flooded, that too must have been because of the government!

The people are suffering the high cost of living; they are barely making ends meet. And soon, GST will come into force. Which means even more expenditure. Banks are tightening up, and it will be harder to borrow money. Hard times are coming.

But today at the mall I can testify that there was no sign of poverty and suffering. Everybody seemed to have plenty of money to spend! Major shopping centres are offering huge discounts for the festive season. By the way, "huge discounts" actually means prices of goods have come down from "exorbitant" to "expensive". Surely you did not expect it to reach the "cheap" level, did you? When the price of an ordinary office shirt is over RM100 after a 50% discount, you know that things are not looking very bright for the near future.

So here we are, at the final week of 2014. It's amazing how fast all those months have zoomed past, and we are once again all excited to cross over to a new year. I bet many of you have come up with the New Year's Resolutions; others might be in the midst of composing one right now. Well, I don't have any new year's resolutions—if I want to get something done, I just embark on it and try to get it over with as soon as possible. There is really no need to wait till a new year for things to happen. After all, in the vast majority of cases, resolutions such as "wanting to lose 20lbs"; or wanting to "exercise 4 days a week"; or "wanting to quit smoking", to name a few, are just for the first few weeks of the year. I shall not have any of those!

Anyway, to my loyal readers, let me take this opportunity to wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. As I said earlier, things are not looking very good for 2015, but please don't get all stressed out like the turkeys. What's life without challenges, right?


Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The Prostitution of Running Medals

I have conquered a number of marathons and ultra marathons; as well as other endurance races such as duathlons and triathlons, up to the Ironman distance. But I have not attempted the Climbathon. Many people have found that a little strange, since the Climbathon is a famous annual event in Sabah. The simple reason is that I have no doubt that I can also conquer the Climbathon, but I'd rather do it later, perhaps when I'm no longer able to do very long races. For now, I would focus on conquering other races within the region.

I'm not in a hurry to attempt the Climbathon, because almost anybody can get the finisher medal, as long as he crosses the finish line. The event is organised in such a way that, although there is a cut off time, one can get the finisher medal even if the time taken is beyond the cut off time. One of these days, when I'm old and weak to run fast enough to meet the cut off time, I can always do the Climbathon and still end up with the finisher medal. That kind of medal is perhaps nice to have in my collection, but not of much value to me. It's just a piece of souvenir for keepsake. The Climbathon, when and if I were to do it, will NOT likely be a race for me. As I said, I'm not in a hurry to attempt the Climbathon.

Some other races also adopt the same policy, i.e. finisher medals are awarded even if the athletes completed the race beyond the cut off times. One example is our very own Borneo International Marathon (BIM). Medals will be given out even if the finisher takes a few hours beyond the cut off time. 

I suppose there is nothing wrong with that, because after all, a finish is a finish. There is nothing on the medal that actually specifies that the runner had finished within the cut off time. I do participate in the BIM, because on the one hand, I'd like to support the event; and on the other hand, I would probably be running my LSD anyway on a weekend along the same route, although admittedly I don't run 42km every weekend.

However, I find it interesting that in the case of the Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore (SCMS), the full marathon (42.2km) finisher medals were awarded even though the organiser was fully aware that the runners did not finish that distance. Far from finishing 42.2km, they ran just 25km and was awarded the 42.2km finisher medals and finisher T-shirts. Here is the organiser's announcement on the issue. I'm  not sure if this was because the organiser was trying to be popular among the slower runners, so that in the coming years they could attract an even bigger crowd. 

I see this as the prostitution of the marathon medals—if these medals were meant to be that cheap, then the event should be promoted as such. Don't bother to have rules and regulations, because obviously those mean nothing. I have said that fairness is a two-way street—while the organiser is trying to be popular among the slower runners, it should not downgrade the value of the marathon medal to that of a mediocre souvenir. 

A race is a race, and this one has given a lot of time to finish the race too. If one is unable to finish the race within that generous amount of time, then maybe that means he or she should train a little harder—and longer—for the 42.2km. It's  not like there are no shorter categories in the event. We admire and applaud them for trying, but I'm afraid 25km is still 25km; it is not 42km.

If the organiser feels compelled to please the slower runners, then it should prepare a good amount of 25km medals. It can then award those to the runners who just finished that distance. Be fair to those who did finish the 42.2km. They trained and raced hard to run that distance, only to see others running 25km getting the same recognition as them. Where is justice?

I have joined the SCMS twice before and found it too crowded. Because there are other choices for marathon races in the region, I haven't been back to the SCMS for some years now. This latest episode is one more reason for me not to go back for the event.