Sunday, December 30, 2007

Dec Virtual Hunt — Curtain Falls (Q9)

In my opinion, every puzzle has inter alia a form and shape. These two elements are blended together to form a unique pattern. Those of us who enjoy solving puzzles—any kind of puzzle—know that it is often important to figure out the pattern of the puzzle first before proceeding on to solve it.

For a while now, I've noticed that some treasure hunters can arrive at the solutions in a much more efficient manner; they spend much lesser time to solve the clues than that of the average hunters. For example, in my KK Challenge 2 last August, the winning team finished the hunt with a good one hour ahead of its nearest challenger. How did they do it?

In the game of chess, we also have a similar situation. The experienced player can save a lot of time in the opening, making moves almost without thinking! He knows certain principles. For example, he knows that the most efficient way to open the game is to move the central pawns; then develop the minor pieces (usually the knights followed by the bishops); then castle; bring the rooks to the central files; and then open up the game. Of course there are other general principles to follow, e.g. develop with a threat and with a view of controlling the central squares, try to give a job to every single piece etc. In fact, one can save a lot of time by knowing the general approach to deal with the puzzle!

About a month ago, I posted an interesting treasure hunt question in this blog:

Q) Distress call short of a month?


How would you approach the above question? It will be quickly noticed that the word "distress" might be an anagram indicator. If indeed it's an anagram indicator, then perhaps the solver is required to rearrange the letters found in CALL to form another word. He probably needs to find other words with similar meanings with CALL to be anagrammed. Imagine the number of possibilities he needs to sift through!

Then he has to think of something which has a similar meaning with the word "month". That something is then to be taken away from whatever that he has managed to derive from CALL. The possible combinations can be quite daunting, and if considered from that point of view, may be almost impossible to solve!

But the experienced hunter will not waste too much time on such seemingly endless possibilities. He merely starts his task by concentrating on that word "month". Since that word is to be taken away from something, it pays to narrow down the possibilities by figuring out the "month" first. Keeping the "month" in his mind, he then tries to figure out the possible words that can fit "distress call". You will realise that the number of possibilities becomes substantially lesser now. I think the solver will very quickly find the word MAYDAY, because that word contains MAY, which is a month that is to be taken away (short of a month). So that will leave him with DAY, and that is equal to 24 HOURS or 24 JAM.

A few weeks after I posted the above question, I went to KL to hunt in the Be An Angel (Beautiful Gate) Hunt clerked by Michael Pang. I discussed one of the questions:

Q) Dance studio without its 2 students.


In my comments, I suggested that it's better to fashion the question like this:

Q) Dance studio without its 2 first students.

Again, we are faced with a deletion clue (without). Like I said, I said aloud, "Look for UDIO."; and my team member said, "No, look for STI." There was a bit of a confusion because of the missing word—first—in the question. But one thing is clear—we were both approaching the question from "its 2 students". It made sense to do so, because once we could figure out that part of the question, then we could narrow down the possibilities for the "dance studio" substantially. Otherwise, the word "dance" might be an anagram indicator, and we might need to anagram "studio" or other words with similar meanings. Just think of the many possibilities!

And now, finally, we come to Q9 of my December Virtual Hunt:

Q9) A violent disorder without the edge?

Can you see that the pattern of the question is almost identical to the 2 questions discussed above? We are essentially faced with the task of figuring something out and then to take away (deletion — without) "edge" from that something. By adopting the more efficient approach, we need to figure out "edge" first, if only to narrow down the possibilities for "A violent disorder".

Before proceeding to the solution, I'd like to discuss the flow of the question, because I've received a number of submissions indicating possible confusions. Some people have tried to find something on a signboard, removed the first and last letters (without the edge), and then finally anagrammed the left-over letters to suit "A violent disorder". For example:

SELVERT without the "edge" becomes ELVER;

Then anagram the ELVER by means of the indicator violent, to get REVEL which can mean DISORDER.

Others did it slightly differently; they anagrammed something found on a signboard, and by deliberately meneuvering some letters to go to the start and end of a resulting word, they then deleted those start/end letters to get something with a similar meaning with "A violent disorder".

Looking at the flow of the question, I think the correct interpretation is to do something with the "A violent disorder" first, and then followed by removing the "edge"; not the other way round. Therefore, if indeed an anagram operation is involved here, then that operation must come first before removing the "edge". However, one might argue that it's still possible to anagram SELVERT by not disturbing the S and T, and then only later remove them from the resulting word. I suppose it's possible, but in that case I fail to see the significance of "edge". I could have simply instructed to remove the S and T without the need to say "edge" at all. That would be much simpler!

My other objection is that the word "edge" is singular. So if I had intended to remove the S and T, I would have said something like "... without the edgeS".

And now we come to a minor psychological discussion. Why did I use "A violent disorder"? As I said earlier, the experienced hunter will quickly zoom in to the word "edge", so that when he can figure that word out, he will be home free! So I had no choice but to lure his attention away from "edge" to "A violent disorder". I knew that his concentration will then be given to "A violent disorder" almost exclusively, thus forgetting the simpler approach via the "edge". Just imagine the number of possibilities for "A violent disorder"!

Grandmaster Margaret hit a stumbling block trying to figure out that "A violent disorder" the whole night and literally had to sleep over the question. But then the next morning, she suddenly saw through my psychological trick, apparently quickly investigated on the "edge" and solved the question shortly after!

So to repeat the clue:

Q9) A violent disorder without the edge?



Therefore, A MAYHEM without the HEM = A MAY

And here perhaps many would come to another dead end. But not grandmasters Margaret and Jayaram. From this point, they quickly saw that this was a "Double Jeopardy"** question.


Because CHICKEN = AYAM (Malay)

fresh = anagram indicator

Therefore, rearrange the AYAM gives A MAY.

Looks impossible to solve, huh? Well, I designed this question in view of the 3 weeks to solve it. Little did I know that grandmaster Margaret took barely 12 hours to solve it—and at least half of those hours spent sleeping! I must ask her husband if she talks about hunt questions in her sleep!

I wish to thank all of you who've tried out my questions. I hope you have had fun cracking your head! I'll be busy working on a hunt in a few weeks' time, so I'm not sure if I'll be able to do another virtual hunt soon. But I will try to do another if I can find the time.

** See the 3rd comment for further explanation on "Double Jeopardy".

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Dec Virtual Hunt — Curtain Falls (Q1-Q8)

Here are the answers and explanations to the questions:

Q1) Yes, domestic helper found within.


The question tells the solver to look for the word YES (or something of similar meaning), and then DOMESTIC HELPER is found within it.

YES = YA (in Malay)


Therefore, by inserting the word AMAH into YA, we get YAMAHA.

Q2) Have a desire for a fish, so I was told.


"I was told" is a homophone or sounds like indicator. It tells the solver that the solution involves a word(s) that may be pronounced like another word, but with different spelling(s).

In this case, WANATUNA, when read out, sounds like WANT A TUNA which agrees with HAVE A DESIRE FOR A FISH.

Q3) American champ?


A straightforward question involving a bit of English-Malay translation.

USA agrees with AMERICAN

JUARA agrees with CHAMP

Q4) Victory in the backstreet.



STREET = ST (abbreviation which must be found in the dictionary)

back = reversal indicator. Therefore when ST is reversed, it becomes TS.

So now the word WIN must be in the TS (backST). Thus, TWINS.

Q5) A corrupt politician.


corrupt = anagram indicator

POLITICIAN = MP (abbreviation of Member of Parliament — again must be found in the dictionary)

The only way to rearrange the MP is to become PM, there is just no other way!

Now combine together with the article "A" (at the beginning of the question), we get APM.

Q6) Come play with the seven figures.


play = anagram indicator

Letters in COME rearranged to become EMCO



Q7) Between the first real threats for a ruler on behalf of a young king.


first = initial indicator


We need to look for something which is inserted between R-T, so that the resulting word is the definition for "a ruler on behalf of a young king."

The word EGEN goes between R-T, becomes REGENT, which is a "ruler on behalf of a young king."

Q8) Not reversed after an endless trip.

reversed = reversal indicator

endless = deletion of ending letter from a word

NOT reversed = TON

endless TRIP = TRI

So, TON after TRI = TRITON, who's an OCEAN KING

Stay tuned for Q9.

Dec Virtual Hunt — Update & Comments

Well, folks, we have come to the final homestretch of the December Virtual Hunt. In a little while I will be posting the answers and explanations for all the questions. But before that, I'd like to make a final update and some comments on the submissions up to now.

In the end, this virtual hunt has managed to attract a total of 18 submissions—the last one received just shortly ago from my loyal customer, renroc. The final scores of participants are as follows:

1) Margaret Sha — perfect 9/9
2) Jayaram Menon — perfect 9/9
3) 2R1I — 8/9
4) Claire — 8/8 (1 question pending)
5) Eileen Yeoh — 7/9
6) Julie Tan — 7/8 (1 question pending)
7) Goh Leep Sean — 6/7 (2 questions pending)
8) Angie Ng — 7/9
9) Grace Chong — 7/8 (1 question pending)
10) Moon — 6/8 (1 question pending)
11) CK Tan — 6/7 (2 questions pending)
12) Nestor Fields — 8/9
13) Mike Pang — 5/6 (3 questions pending)
14) Johan Amilin — 7/9
15) Suzanne — 3/3 (6 questions pending)
16) Millie — 4/5
17) Venka — 4/9
18) renroc — 7/9

I can see that many people had no problem with Q1-Q6. With some basic understanding of the common themes in cryptic clues, one would be able to solve Q1-Q6. As for Q7-Q9, I've brought the level up a little further to include some interesting twists. Again they're conjured up having considered the amount of time available to the solver. It is quite debatable whether such questions are "fair" in an actual hunt. But we can discuss and debate about them later. I will reveal the answers and explanations in 2 separate threads. In one thread, I will explain Q1 to Q8. In my opinion, Q9 is quite unique and deserves a thread of its own.

I'd like to mention that some of those people in the above list have also emailed me over the last couple of days, informing me that they've given up hope on solving the remaining questions. I hope they have at least enjoyed working on the many possible solutions.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Addiction to Power & Fame

"I would not rest until democracy had returned to Pakistan."

Benazir Bhutto (1953-2007)

Power and fame are very, very addictive—you can't get enough of them. Those who've tasted power and fame would rarely want to relinquish any of them. We don't have to look very far for examples; we have many of these people here in Malaysia. I'm sure some of them are getting senile soon; they are about to fossilize in their hot seats! Of course some of them have repeatedly announced over the years that they will vacate their positions "when the time is right". But don't hold your breath, it's not going to happen anytime soon.

How much would you sacrifice for the sake of power and fame? Would you be willing to put your life at stake?

In October, I was surprised to read the news of Benazir Bhutto returning to Pakistan after an 8-year self-exile abroad. What was she thinking? During her home-coming rally, 139 people were killed in a terror attack. But Bhutto escaped unhurt. She pushed her luck too far. In a country where there are more than 40 suicide attacks in a year, it's just a matter of time before they got to her. Yet she was adamant—she "would not rest until democracy had returned to Pakistan."

The worst kind of enemies are those who have nothing to lose. Bhutto's enemies—or rather her enemies' scapegoats—were willing to die for their cause. There was no stopping them.

And so the inevitable has happened. Benazir Bhutto was assassinated yesterday evening. Since she has made it clear that she would not rest, so she has been forced to rest. In the animal kingdom, the fittest and strongest will rule. In Pakistan, the last person standing will rule the nation. To the people of Pakistan, I hope it was worth it.

You Gonna Obey Me?

I am not a soccer fan. I know the general rules of the sport, but I just can't convince myself to love it. Occasionally, I allow myself to spend a stretch of 15 minutes or so—which is already a marathon for me—to sit in front of the telly to watch a soccer match. I don't remember ever watching a full 90-minute soccer match in my entire life. Quite frankly, I don't understand what's the excitement all about!

Of course I am one of those few nerds who don't know how to appreciate a good sport. Think about it—some people on the field fighting for the possession of a ball with the sole purpose of trying to put it into the opponent's square-framed fortress. They have about 90 minutes to do so, and there is a guy called the referee who will be running back and forth throughout that 90 minutes chasing after the ball, but playing no part in fighting for its posession. Instead, he's supposed to decide who are the rule-violators during the game. And believe you me, they are many rule-violators. Then of course they are thousands of people watching from the sidelines.

Throughout the history of soccer, we've had so many riots. The crowd has the tendency to become violent. People actually die because of soccer!

The referee is quite often the target of such violence, because he is after all the one who makes the call. I guess there will always be someone who won't be happy with the referee's decision. Perhaps referees should be equipped with protective gears. Then maybe I will enjoy watching soccer, because then I will have something to laugh about. What the heck, maybe we should also equip the referee with a handgun too, so that whenever these people try to crash in onto the poor guy, he has something to protect himself with?

Yeah, that would be something for a change, huh? We should be creative and think of something new. But this kind of referee is only available in Malaysia.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Kota Kinabalu City — Coastal Development

When I was still in lower primary school, I used to follow my sadistic grandmother whenever she's making her rounds to her customers; selling clothes, much the same way like how the Pakistanis do their business. But unlike the Pakistanis, she took the bus. I had my share of hardwork in carrying those huge bundles of clothes. I can still remember the time we sat at the stalls beside the then Cathy Cinema in the heart of Kota Kinabalu Town (about 7 years ago, KK attained the city status). The stalls were located immediately fronting onto the sea.

More than three decades have since elapsed, and KK has gone through so many changes. Cathy Cinema and the stalls are no longer there today. The sea in front of the cinema has been reclaimed and then developed with shops known as Segama. Further reclamations over the years saw the emergence of Hyatt International Hotel, Emporium, Wisma Merdeka, Wisma Sabah, and Gaya Centre, to name a few. Subsequent years saw even more coastal reclamations to make way for Kota Kinabalu expansion, notably the Sutera Harbour Resort development, the Asia City (formerly Kampur Air), Api-Api developments, Sinsuran, Centrepoint, Karamunsing and Sembulan. Some ongoing projects on reclaimed sea include the Suria Capital and the KK Times Square. As a rough estimate, easily half of KK City comprises reclaimed sea.

Over the years it has been announced repeatedly that there will be no more reclamation of the sea in order to protect the environment. In fact one such announcement was made several weeks ago. Some projects were "frozen" on grounds of enviromental concerns. Yet we all know that what's "frozen" will sooner or later be likely to "melt" in the heat of the property market. Money talks bullshit walks, you see.

About 3 to 4 years ago, I attended the launching of Phase 2 of the Marina Court Condominiums. These condominiums are located within the Api-Api development to the south of Sinsuran. One of the many selling points for this particular development was the "sea view", especially from the upper floor units. In KK, many people are willing to pay slightly higher prices for the so-called "sea view". But I rediculed this particular selling point. I said it won't take very long before the sea view is blocked by another development at the sea front. Money can do a lot of things—even overwhelm environmental concerns. And so the representative of the development and I had a short debate—she insisted that no more developments will be allowed at the sea front adjacent to the Marina Court Condominiums. Well, it turned out that Phase 2 of the Marina Court Condominiums sold well, and the project was completed recently.

Then a few weeks ago the City Hall announced the development approval of yet another project—the Kota Kinabalu Waterfront. True enough, this project, when completed, will block the sea view of the Marina Court Condominiums. Of course this project drew a lot of negative reactions from the public; but particularly those unit owners of Marina Court Condominiums for obvious reasons. It was subsequently announced that the relevant authority will reconsider the development approval. The project will be "thoroughly studied". It begs the question of whether such "thorough study" should have been carried out way before the approval was granted.

But after all's been said and done, I am sure the authority will be able to find good reasons why this waterfront project should proceed as planned. For example, here is one support for the project to proceed. Perhaps a lot of people sitting in high places will be very upset if this project is scrapped off. We can't upset these people now, can we?

KK Challenge 3 vs Virtual Hunt

It's hard to believe that we're approaching the end of 2007 already. How time flies. Next week we're crossing over to a new year. I foresee a very busy year ahead for me. A fellow valuer will be retiring in a few days' time, so I guess there will be much more for me to handle beginning from next month. If there is a registered valuer out there wanting to try his luck here in Kota Kinabalu, please feel free to write to me at Let's talk terms!

A little over 2 weeks ago, I posted December Virtual Hunt. It's intended for the many treasure hunters who craved for hunts during a quiet December. I managed to attract 15 participants—they were diehard hunters ranging from grandmasters to newbies, and from as far as Penang! I am honoured to have been able to attract such a pool of hunters. However, perhaps 15 is just too small a number to justify virtual hunts as a regular feature in this blog. In a few days' time, I will close the December Virtual Hunt and publish the answers together with the respective explanations.

During the next few weekends, I will be working on the KK Challenge 3—my unofficial hunt to be held on 20 January 2008. I have a full-time job, so I can only work on the hunt over the weekends. To be honest, I prefer to hunt instead of to clerk the hunt. But I am doing the KK Challenge 3 because of popular request from some friends. To those of you who have a phobia of my hunts, please be informed that I have grown soft over the last few months. There will be more "easier" questions in the KK Challenge 3, although there will still be some "complicated" ones too (I can't help it!).

After that I will probably concentrate on hunting rather than setting hunts, except for the open walk-hunt set for 15 June 2008. IF I can find the time somehow, I will also do an occasional virtual hunt here in this blog for the fun of it, if only to fill in the gaps when I run out of ideas of what else to write about!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Aliens vs Predators (Not Spoiler)

I am a big fan of the above fictional creatures. Since about 20 years ago, I've been following all the movies—some of them several times (Yes, I have a collection of them). So I know quite a lot about the characteristics of these creatures. Originally, they did not cross paths—each had its own storyline, and within different eras too.

The Aliens saga started some time in the far future when humans were technologically advanced and had spaceships which could travel deep into space. There were several sequels after the first successful movie. The main theme of all those sequels revolved around Ellen Ripley's efforts to stop the creatures from ending up in our home planet—earth.

Predator, on the other hand, started shortly after the first Aliens movie. But the setting was more to the current era. The story saw Arnie flexed his muscles against the super creature and barely overwhelmed it in the end. And it was also a very successful movie that warranted a sequel—Predator 2. Apparently there are rumours of a Predator 3 in the pipeline.

About 3 years ago, in a strange twist to the above stories, both these creatures crossed paths in Alien vs Predator. Diehard fans of the original Aliens and Predator movies were somewhat confused with the timeline issue—the setting for Alien vs Predator was in our current era, thus indicating that Ellen Ripley's efforts were in vain. The way I see it, the only possible explanation is that the Alien vs Predator story is not connected to the original Aliens story somehow, although it still needs a bit of explanation to the loyal fans.

NOW during this Christmas season, we are treated with the latest episode, Aliens vs Predator 2 which—as the title suggests—is yet another clash between these two mighty creatures. Being the diehard fan of both these creatures, I went to see the movie yesterday—on its opening day. But I'm not going to comment on the movie here. That would only spoil the fun for the many fans out there! And those of you who've already seen the movie too, I hope you'll be a sport not to give any details of it here.

In my opinion, both these creatures are super beings which are far beyond our ability to conquer. In recent times, our shores have also been invaded by aliens and predators. Now in Malaysia we have our very own Aliens vs Predators too. I wonder which one will prevail in the end...

Monday, December 24, 2007

Season's Greetings

Wishing all of you a blessed and joyous Christmas and may the New Year brings you prosperity and good health!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Turkey vs Chicken

During the rotarian meeting over lunch last Monday, we were talking about the rising cost of celebrating Christmas. A rotarian friend was lamenting the escalating price of roasted turkeys these days. He said—and I agree with him—that there is nothing very special about roasted turkeys. Chicken is tastier than turkey; yet turkey meat is about twice the price of chicken meat.

I sat there listening to them debating on their preferences for a Christmas get-together dinner planned for this Sunday. While we are busy contemplating the many choices of food for Christmas, so many people out there are dying of hunger and malnourishment.

It reminds me of this great lady who devoted her life to help these people who lived their lives in the face of poverty and diseases. She gave everything she had to help others in need. Her passion in her humanitarian work spanned a period of over forty years. Her death in September 1997 was a great loss to the world. She was—and indeed still is—an inspiration to us all; that the power of love is truly amazing. She dedicated her whole life—up to her dying moments—to those people in need. We need more people like her.

This fellow, on the other hand, is a bit different from the great lady above. He too speaks of love and holiness amongst his people. But he does not give away what he has for humanitarian cause. No—he has a personal cobbler for his trademark custom-made scarlet red leather shoes. He wears expensive designer clothes and sunglasses; and he has expensive taste in cars too. I guess different people have different ways to reach out to others.

During this festive season, let us not complain with whatever "little" that we have. Let's be happy with either turkey or chicken. Remember that there are many others who have nothing at all—they are clinging on to their lives; and every additional minute that they can squeeze out of their lives is a bonus to them...

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Buffalo Boy

I received an email from a friend recently entitled: Buffalo gave birth to a human baby?

Several pictures were attached to the email. I am no expert in photography, but those pictures appear genuine to me. I am aware of some softwares which can be used to create special effects on pictures, but I'm unable to tell if that has been done in this case. Here are just 2 of the pictures:

Perhaps from the many articles that I have posted here since I started this blog about 2 months ago, my friend has the impression that I know the answer to every question? Well, I don't!

I haven't the slightest idea whether a buffalo can indeed give birth to a human baby. I'd like to think that my scientific knowledge is not that hopeless. But to answer the title of my friend's email, my only wild guess is that some very lonely (and desperate) guy must have been naughty with a female buffalo—and this was the result of that naughtiness?

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Aidil Adha

Wishing all my muslim friends:

Selamat Hari Raya Aidil Adha

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

For The Want of Glamour

On the way home from the gym this evening, we stopped by at Giant Supermarket. Mia went in to buy some stuff while I waited at the main entrance. In the lobby of the mall, there were several booths promoting a wide range of products. I was hanging around a booth selling cellphones.

I watched in amusement a kid—probably no more than 15 years old—choosing his new cellphones. He ended up with one costing well over RM1,000. His parents were against such an expensive phone, but the kid was adamant. So there they were, parents and a young teenager, negotiating which cellphone was the most suitable for the kid. I wasn't there to witness the conclusion of that negotiation, as Mia was done with her shopping.

Imagine kids these days; most of them have cellphones—and their cellphones are often much more expensive than the adults'. What could possibly be so important for them to have such hi-tech phones with so many functions? Games, mp3, organizer, camera, movie clips, internet connectivity, GPS—you name it—they're all available in a single cellphone!

This reminds me of the Interact Club installation dinner which I attended some months ago. Being the Rotarian Student Advisor to the Interact Club, I am still at a loss of what kind of advice they need from me. If I had it my way, I thought the best place to hold the installation dinner was in the school hall. But no—they threw a big party in a posh hotel, complete with a band of their own! They sold tickets and used up major portions of their savings to finance the dinner; not to mention the kind of evening gowns which you only get to see in a Paris fashion show. Then they must have spent hours in the beauty saloon to set their hair for the occasion. I was given to understand that some parents were grumbling because of such extravagant dinner; and I don't blame them!

Such cravings for glamour has got to be contained. I see a lot of young people these days spending way beyond what their pockets can sustain. I think in the not-so-far future our children will all grow up to be people saddled with debts—mountains of them! And with the financial institution "forcing" them to spend even more, a lot of them are going to become bankrupts at a very young age, as what's reported here.

But then again, I guess it's all worth it, as long as they have the glamour.

Dec Virtual Hunt — Update

About a week ago, I posted December Virtual Hunt. In it I presented 9 questions of varying levels of difficulty. It was well-received by hunters both in Sabah and in West Malaysia. It is time to give an update on the performance of those who submitted answers and explanations to me through emails. (Again, please DO NOT post your answers/explanations here in this blog. If you are keen to submit your attempts, send them to

As of today, the results of those who participated:

1) Margaret Sha — perfect 9/9
2) Jayaram Menon — perfect 9/9
3) 2R1I — 8/9
4) Claire — 8/8 (1 question pending)
5) Eileen Yeoh — 7/9
6) Julie Tan — 7/8 (1 question pending)
7) Goh Leep Sean — 6/7 (2 questions pending)
8) Angie Ng — 7/9
9) Grace Chong — 7/8 (1 question pending)
10) Moon — 6/8 (1 question pending)
11) CK Tan — 6/7 (2 questions pending)
12) Nestor Fields — 8/9
13) Mike Pang — 5/6 (3 questions pending)
14) Johan Amilin — 7/9
15) Suzanne — 3/3 (6 questions pending)

I hope I didn't miss anyone.

For the benefit of those who're not very familiar with all those names above, the first two names who got perfect scores are grandmasters. I'd like to say here that I find the answers submitted by grandmaster Jayaram to be the most comprehensive—I am very impressed with his detailed explanations. I don't really know him personally (we only spoke for a few minutes during the MAH Hunt). Looking at his answers and explanations, I won't be surprised if he's some sort of mathematician or quantity surveyor or engineer, something like that.

And on the other hand, the most economical on words is none other than Mike. Those of you who've never hunted in his hunt before, his questions are mostly very short—including his treasure questions!

Keep it coming, folks!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Money Talk—Analysis

A couple of days ago I posted an article about the disturbing trend in our local universities—there are 70% girls against 30% boys in the universities. However, I didn't think that those statistics were any indication of a declining number of clever boys when compared to girls in Malaysia. I went on to carry out a small experiment in an attempt to prove my point.

Well, folks, it is time to analyse those answers and explanations submitted by some visitors to this blog. Unfortunately, I received too few submissions; therefore the sample is simply too small to represent the entire population. However, in my opinion, we can still get a glimpse of the respective lines of thoughts between the males and females.

I received only 8 submissions—4 from the gals and 4 from the guys. Out of the 4 submissions from the gals, 3 chose option (A) 1 truck full of 5-sen coins; and 1 chose option (B) 5 trucks full of 1-sen coins. As for the guys it's the other way round, 3 chose option (B); and only 1 chose option (A). Let's investigate their lines of thoughts.

Let's look at the submissions from the gals first:

"Dear Cornelius,

Ready your blog about boys and girls on money talk. Just to respond to the question, here is my answer.

=Of course i would choose a truck load of 5 cents. It only makes sense to choose that. Since the 5 cents coins are smaller, i can get more coins in a truck

For example:

1 truck can fit 1000pcs 1 cents coins and 1200pcs of 5 cents coins (because 5 cents is smaller)

= 1000 x 5 trucks x 1 cents= 5000 (for 5 trucks of 1 cents)
= 1200 x 5 cents = 6000

Hope to see the results on your blog soon"

An answer which deserves an "A" in our education system, although I don't quite agree to the 20% difference in the number of coins. I don't believe the difference in size between the 1-sen and 5-sen coins is more than 5%, but I might be wrong.

And here are the other answers from the other gals:

"1 truck load of 5sen coins for me. Since they r smaller, I kinda think I’ll get more w the 1 truck of 5 sen than the 5 trucks of 1 sen… anyway like you said, 1 sen is facing out what would I want them for?? Unless… the 1 sen r real metal (copper) and unless I have a furnace where I can melt them down??? And get the metal’s worth… now that’s worth thinking about…Btw… I’m a girl."

And another,

"I choose this option
(A) 1 truck, full of 5-sen coins

This is because, it is more cost effective to transport the same amount of money in 1 truck compared to 5 trucks. Besides that, in storage space wise it is more economical if you look at the warehouse concept, where customers are charged according to the space they take up in the warehouse.

Another thing is, having so many 1 cents and knowing that it will be phase out come April 1 2008. It would be troublesome to bring all these 1 cents to the bank to encash it."

And another,

"B) 5 trucks, full of 1-sen coins
Why? I will sell these 5 truck loads coz copper price is at about USD$6.50/Kg now."

It won't surprise you that the last answer above was submitted by a mathematician; very, very calculative, huh?

Those answers make perfect sense and can pass with flying colours in the university exams. But are they practical in the real world? They all paid a lot of attention to the small differences in the 1-sen and 5-sen coins but they totally forgot to consider the significance of the trucks! Here are the answers from the guys:

"My choice would be 5 trucks full of 1-sen coins.I would have 4 more trucks, and the metal melted from the 1-sen coins is probably worth more than that of the 5-sen coins.

ps: I'm a guy."

And another,

"5 trucks. since it is not mentioned I make my own assumptions that I'll be keeping the 5 trucks too! the contents being the same, the net total is I have have 4 trucks more than the other option."

And another,

"I would choose 5 trucks of 1-sen coins. Since the 1-sen coins will be out of circulation shortly, imagine the trucks load of copper I will have. If I melt them down altogether I will have so much copper that I can sell and get more than I bargain for.Ha Ha...... "

And another,

"Off hand, I would choose the 1 truck load of 5 sen coins

1) You mentioned in your blog that the 1 sen coin is slightly larger than the 5 sen coin. After verifying your claim myself, i noticed one other difference and that is also the reason for my choice

2) the 5 sen coin is also marginally thinner than the 1 sen coin..As such, 5 truck loads of 1 sen coin should not equal 1 truck load of 5 sen coins as the 1 sen coins will take up much more space and thus offer lesser value between the two choice. However, your question does not give a reason for the choice. The automatic assumption is that if it concerns money than the more the better. In value of course.If though, you were asked to choose which choice would offer you more metal in volume..then the choice would be b) 5 truck loads of 1 sen coin would yield more in metal than the 1 truck load of 5 sen coins...

Sex: once in a blue moon."

The last answer above is unclear. On the one hand, he appears to choose option (A); and on the other hand, he appears to choose option (B) too. This is the type of answer one would expect from a politician—never straightforward. And he obviously didn't consider the additional 4 trucks too. But I suppose we can all forgive him. Maybe that is the effect of sexual deprivation, I don't know.

A word about melting money. It is of course illegal to melt money, so don't go collecting coins for the sole purpose of melting them down! However, I am doubtful that one can get more by selling melted coins. Although I haven't researched it, my idea is that the value of the metals used to make our coins must be worth less if sold as metal when compared to the face value of the currency. Otherwise, we wouldn't have coins in circulation since a long time ago! But I may be wrong. It would be good if anyone with an indepth knowledge in this can share a bit with us all.

As I said earlier, 8 submissions can hardly qualify to give an accurate picture of the entire population. To those who participated in this "experiment", thank you for being good sports. I hope you have had fun.

Friday, December 14, 2007

KK City Tourism Treasure Hunt 2008

KK hunters are eagerly waiting for the annual KK City Tourism Treasure Hunt. The next one will be on 24 February 2008. Just this afternoon, I was able to get some information from a reliable source in the City Hall.

Firstly, the entry fee has been maintained at RM200 per team, comprising a minimum of 2 to a maximum of 4 members each. The flag-off and finish stations have also been maintained, which is the Nexus Karambunai Resort Hotel.

Secondly, it is surprising that they haven't decided who they are going to employ as the consultant to clerk the hunt! It seems a bit strange, because in previous years, they'd have everything decided by year end prior to the hunt.

Thirdly—and this is the scary part—they won't have a separate open and closed categories as in the 2007 hunt. There will be only ONE category—open to everybody. According to some seasoned hunters who've participated in such a single-category KK City Hunt a few years ago, the top prizes were already decided even before the flag-off. And then all the familiar podium finishers would be fighting for the fourth place onwards. Bear in mind, however, these were all allegations which were not supported by any evidence whatsoever!

I was given to understand that it became a big havoc—a group of regular hunters wrote to the hotline in the local papers, and then boycotted the hunt the following year. Too bad I missed all the excitement. Otherwise it would have been an interesting story to write! I was also given examples of the stupid questions they had for those hunts (apparently set by a local chap):

Q) Jump like a frog.
A) Road hump (literally, the road hump on the surface of a road).

Q) This is a money.
A) Maybank.

Like I said, too bad I wasn't around when it all happened. I would have had a lot to comment!

Lastly, because the open and closed categories are going to be combined, the cash prizes for the top 3 places will be bigger than that of the 2007 hunt, i.e. RM5,000 cash, return air tickets to Korea, goods and certificates for the champions.

In the past few years, when the KK City Hunt was clerked by Timeout Solutions, very few "inside" people won anything decent. Instead, we saw those familiar regular hunters winning each year.

According to the reliable source in City Hall, "... via evaluation form that they not agreed with closed category and suggested one category only." One can only guess who are those people who wanted "one category only".

Who knows, they are still ironing out the details of hiring a professional Clerk-of-Course right now. Otherwise, we should all be prepared for the worst. I am keeping my fingers crossed...

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Swimming Coach

Today I received a surprise call from my sister, Audrey. These days we hardly get to meet each other. She is living in Lahad Datu, a small town on the east coast of Sabah; it's about an hour's plane ride from Kota Kinabalu.

She said her son, Wiwin, has just finished his form five exams and will be coming over to spend the holidays in KK. When he's in KK, he will probably stay with my brother, Dennis. He enjoys playing TV games with his cousins—Dennis' sons—Mohd Aqil and Mohd Arif. Dennis' wife, NorShidah, is always busy doing her sewing stuff, so she'll be quite pleased that her kids will be occupied with Abang Wiwin.

Audrey is a bit concerned that Wiwin will be selected for the so-called National Service, which is of course basically something like a summer camp in the western countries. I don't really understand the term National Service up to now.

Anyway, Audrey is worried that this giant, whom at the age of 17 is almost 6ft tall, doesn't know how to swim! He can eat a few BigMacs like drinking water, yet he just doesn't grow fat. With his slender body, he could probably be someone like Ian Thorpe. But no, he is the poor momma's boy; he doesn't know how to swim!

A little over 10 years ago, I used to swim 3 to 4 times a week, making it a point to cover at least 10km per week. I didn't really enjoy swimming that much, but I didn't like the idea of letting Mia come home from the pool alone at night.

Well, according to Audrey, she asked around and was surprised to have been told that a swimming coach here in KK charges RM180 for 6 one-hour swimming lessons. But it comes with a guarantee. To be quite honest, I didn't think RM180 is very expensive. I mean, everything is expensive these days, so what's RM180, right?

But Audrey is asking me to teach Wiwin to swim! She feels safer that way. I haven't been to the pool for at least 10 years now. I probably have to turn my whole wardrobe upside-down to look for my swimming trunk and goggles. And I have an issue with my bulging stomach too; not to mention the breasts that I have developed over these recent years. I might even need to put on a pair of bras. And then knowing how to swim doesn't mean knowing how to teach others to swim.

But I have always loved new challenges. So bring it on! Just in case one of these days you see a new swimming sensation representing Malaysia named Erwin bin NoorAzmi, then you know that this uncle was the one who started coaching him! I just hope that I won't get into the headlines for putting on bras at the pool. That's not my idea of becoming famous.

Boys & Girls: Money Talk 2

I am a bit embarrassed with the "Money Talk" experiment below. Perhaps it is no longer worth pursuing, but I am letting it continue anyway for the moment. But now I have enabled the "Moderate Comments" option, so perhaps I can do another little experiment, i.e. Money Talk 2, to compensate the one below.

A man goes into a store to buy a packet of biscuits. That packet costs RM1.65. He has three RM1.00 notes in his pocket, i.e. he has a total of RM3.00. He has no coins at all. He makes the purchase and pays the shopkeeper. How much change does he get back from the shopkeeper?

Again, DON'T POST YOUR ANSWER HERE. Send it to, together with a shot explanation. And don't forget to state your gender too.

In a few days' time, we will analyse the answers.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Boys & Girls on Money Talk

I was in KL slightly over a week ago for treasure hunts. One evening, I watched an interesting forum on the telly in my hotel room. It was a discussion about the disturbing trend in our local universities. Apparently, about 70% of university students are females; and only 30% are males. Are Malaysian girls really so much smarter than boys?

In fact, I discussed about this subject with my business partner some time ago. It is impossible to compare specific individuals—we could only make comparison from the general point of view.

I know that some women are clever; no, they are brilliant! But I don't believe that the trend in our local universities is any indication of the decline of clever boys when compared to the girls. Boys and girls think differently; their brains work differently too. They have their respective strengths and weaknesses. But the way I see it, our education system favours the girls' brains rather than boys'.

Some girls who've scored impressively in the local university ended up in my office. I asked them about some valuation principles, and then followed by some complicated valuation formulae. Their answers were quick and impeccable. And then I asked them to show me with their hands how long's 1 metre, and they couldn't answer me! I went on to ask them which one is heavier, 1 kg of cotton or 1 kg of iron. And again the answer was quick: 1 kg of iron, of course! To be fair, not all of them failed to answer my questions, but most of them did!

When I asked the boys those same questions, I found that they're not really well-versed with the valuation principles and all those complicated mathematical formulae. But almost all of them knew the length of 1 metre; and most of them knew that both 1 kg of cotton and 1 kg of iron weigh the same.

Now it happen that by mid-2008 the Malaysian 1-sen coins will no longer be in circulation. Therefore, the smallest denomination in circulation will be the 5-sen coins. So perhaps this is a good time to consider a question regarding the 1-sen and 5-sen coins, because once the 1-sen coins are out of circulation, people will quickly forget about its existence!

If you put the 1-sen and 5-sen coins side by side, you will find that the 1-sen coin is slightly bigger (in size) than the 5-sen coin. It is strange, because in terms of value, the 5-sen coin is obviously worth more. Of course 5 pieces of the 1-sen coins would have the combined worth of a single 5-sen coin.

So, boys and girls, let's imagine a hypothetical scenario where you are given a choice between 1 truckload of 5-sen coins and 5 truckloads of 1-sen coins. All the trucks are identical and all are filled up to the brim. Which option would you choose:

(A) 1 truck, full of 5-sen coins; or

(B) 5 trucks, full of 1-sen coins?

DON'T POST YOUR ANSWER HERE. Send it to, together with a short explanation for you choice. Please specify your gender as well.

When we are done, we shall analyse the answers.

p/s: Again I forgot to mention that I allow only ONE answer per person, since it makes little sense to allow 2 answers, each answer going the opposite direction!

Calling Out to Machines

After a couple of days, I'm beginning to wonder if grandmaster Margaret is gonna be the only perfect scorer of my December Virtual Hunt. Although I am satisfied that all my questions have been solved, it would be even more satisfying if more people are able to answer them.

So I am calling out to the team members of Machines. They will probably find Q1-Q6 a waste of their time, but I am more interested in the success rate of Q7-Q9. If too few people can answer those questions, it won't look good on me. So please save my neck, folks!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The Curse of Being Accident-Prone

Some people are cursed with blunders and accidents in whatever they do. It's not that they are not careful in what they do, but somehow, for whatever reasons, they just always end up leaving a trail of destructions along their paths.

My younger brother Dennis was one such person. But in all fairness, he has improved somewhat. But when we were younger, I used to be "afraid" of him. I couldn't decide whether to be angry or amused whenever he blundered with my stuff.

I can still remember the first day I rode my new motorbike home from the dealer. That evening, I rode the bike around the village where I used to live in to show it off to all my neighbours in the village.

But brother Dennis was there too, and he asked to be given a chance to ride the bike. I wasn't really sure what to do. I mean, with his reputation, would it be wise to let him ride my brandnew bike? There, by the road side, I paused for a while, thinking whether to take the risk with the pathetic accident-prone creature. All the neighbours' eyes were on me. They were all waiting to see how this big brother would decide in the end. What would you do? Knowing Dennis and his curse, would you let him?

Well, in the end, I took the big risk and let Dennis ride my bike. He wasn't very familiar with the hand-clutch and accelerator. Each time he released the clutch, he'd forget to turn on the accelerator, resulting in the bike jerking forward and the engine would die off immediately after that. That happened several times that evening—some people are slow learners, you see. I kept telling him that he needed to turn on the accelerator as he gradually release the clutch, but he kept forgetting my instructions.

Anyway, soon it was already getting dark. Miraculously Dennis didn't wreck up my bike into a tree or someone's fence. That night at the dinner table, we were still talking about my new bike. And then Dennis said he knew what was his problem; he said the next time he's given a chance to ride my bike, he'd be able to handle it well. So I asked him how so? He said he will remember to increase the turn of the accelerator while releasing the clutch, and he would see to it that the engine would not die off.

Yeah right!

Then later that night dad asked for my favour. Apparently earlier that day, dad borrowed uncle Mike's van to transport something. But as it was getting a little late, he asked if I could help return uncle Mike's van. Uncle Mike's staying a few kilometres away within the same village. So I thought perhaps I could ask Dennis to ride my bike to uncle Mike's house; and after I dropped off the van, we could both go home on my bike.

Dennis had just taken his bath and was busy applying cream over his face (you know the acne problem in teenagers). I was in a rush, so I left the bike's key with Dennis and I went off with the van. A few minutes later I reached uncle Mike's house. Then I waited for Dennis...

Five minutes... no Dennis. The bike must have been dying off all the time. Again, some people are slow learners, you see. Ten minutes... still no Dennis. Then fifteen minutes later, dad arrived driving his own car.

NOW what? Where is Dennis? And where the hell is my bike?...

Dad didn't quite know how to tell me. "Just get in the car, first," he said. So I got into the car. A few minutes later, we arrived at the foothill near to our house. It was pitch dark, but I could still see Dennis sitting on the ground covered in mud. Oh my Lord!... this must be a dream!

Then dad and I got down from the car. And there it was—my brandnew bike, upside-down with both tires upward and its body embedded in the mud. Later on, Dennis told me how he had applied his new-found knowledge by increasing his turn on the accelerator while releasing the clutch. Only trouble was that he overdid it, so much so that the bike lunged forward, and Dennis not letting go of the bike, ended up together with it in the swamp by the roadside.

And there I was, still trying to decide whether to be angry with Dennis or pity him. Looking at him covered with mud from head to toe like that was quite something, you know. Well, the three of us went into the swamp in the dark and managed to extract my bike and then pushed it home. I spent over an hour to wash the bike that night, while Dennis watched me in silent guilt.

Very late that night, when everyone's asleep, I finally took a long bath—still thinking about my poor bike. And then I burst out laughing so loud in the bathroom. It was so funny thinking about Dennis covered in mud like that. I laughed so hard till I had tears in my eyes. What a curse to live a life being an accident-prone!

Monday, December 10, 2007

NRD Officer, The Movie Freak

Have you ever seen the movie, Gattaca? It's one of those futuristic stories about how humans can be created with predetermined genetic composition. The story was about a man who was conceived without the aid of such technology, but had big dreams of becoming an astronaut.

Unfortunately, because he was genetically inferior, he had no chance of becoming an astronaut—unless he assumed another person's identity. He had to go through so much trouble to pass through quality control; tests upon tests. And then eventually, he achieved his goal. Quite an amazing story which demonstrated how determination and human spirit can beat the odds of whatever obstacles. The tagline of the movie was: "There is no gene for a human spirit." Check out the story here.

I saw the movie about 10 years ago, so I can't remember every minute detail. But perhaps some of us were influenced in more ways than others. Maybe this NRD Officer liked the idea of assuming another person's identity. Maybe he himself should let another person have his own identity, so that he can create a new one for himself. I am sure he will then realise how stupid that idea sounds.

Treasure Hunt in a Doctor's Office

About 2 years ago, when I was introduced to the sport of treasure hunt, I became obsessed with it very quickly. I tried to get hold of past questions and began analysing them. I have learned a lot of stuff since then.

Later on, I started setting hunts myself. An example of a treasure hunt question is like this:

Q) Door opener found within.


Hunters are given specific instructions on where to find the answer, known as a question sector. Within the sector (for example a row of shops), there're many signboards with names of shops etc. The answer of the above question was found on a small plastic board on the wall of a shop.

Notice that the "door opener" in the above question refers to a "knob", and that word is found within STICK NO BILL. For the purpose of treasure hunt, the gaps between K and N; and O and B can be ignored.

I had so much fun conjuring up questions for my hunts. But recently, I realised that perhaps it's time that I do something about this obsession—I am worried that I am beginning to see hunt questions everywhere!

Two days ago I went to see a doctor to treat a skin allergy on my chin. Apparently, it was caused by the shaver I was using. In the doctor's consultation office, there were numerous human anatomical charts all over the walls. The doctor was explaining something about my problem, but my eyes started wondering around the room.

And then all of a sudden I burst out laughing. The doctor was takan aback. There was of course nothing funny about my skin allergy. I had to apologise to the doctor, but I didn't tell him the reason for that sudden burst of laughter.

Looking at all those anatomical charts on the walls, I suddenly thought of a question:

Q) Mightier than the sword?

And that was because I saw the word "PENIS" on the chart. Of course there is supposed to be a gap between "PEN" and "IS", but for the purpose of treasure hunt, it would have qualified as an answer. I was still laughing out loud while I was driving home from the clinic. Oh I really need to do something about this obssession of mine!

Sunday, December 9, 2007

December Virtual Hunt

I have posted these questions earlier, but due to some technical errors I had to delete the post and do the whole thing again! I hope I acted fast enough and didn't spoil the fun for you solvers out there!

Now, where was I? Oh yes, as I was saying, some friends have expressed their concern that my previous questions were too tough. They said if I kept posting such tough questions, I would "soon lose my fans"!

On the other hand, some other friends have said that those previous questions were somewhat "mild". Sigh... I guess I just can't please everyone. So I've decided to give several questions of varying degree of difficulties in the hope of reaching out to a wider audience out there.

Some of you have never hunted before. Ordinarily, I would conduct a hunt clinic prior to the actual hunt. But it is impractical to conduct a hunt clinic in this blog. However, treasure hunt questions and the principles behind the types of clues etc are basically the same with cryptic clueing, safe for some variations to suit local and field requirements. Therefore, those of you who're keen to try out these questions might want to run through the basic ideas in cryptic clueing here.

A word of reminder regarding these pictures. Solvers might have to click on these pictures to get a clearer view of the signboards. Unlike in an actual hunt, the questions given here are NOT IN SEQUENCE—the answers can be found in any of those pictures in no particular order.

OK, here we go...

"I am a hunt virgin. I have no experience, so please be gentle with me!"

Q1) Yes, domestic helper found within.

Q2) Have a desire for a fish, so I was told.

Q3) American champ?

"I've had some experience before. I know a number of different styles too! It's so much fun, I can't get enough of it. Please give me more!"

Q4) Victory in the backstreet.

Q5) A corrupt politician.

Q6) Come play with the seven figures.

"I am a seasoned hunter, and I've seen all the tricks! I have treasure hunt questions for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Oh I need to get a life! Please give me more challenging questions so that I can get my kicks!"

Q7) Between the first real threats for a ruler on behalf of a young king.

Q8) Not reversed after an endless trip.

Q9) A violent disorder without the edge?

PLEASE DO NOT POST YOUR ANSWERS HERE. Send in your solutions to:

All answers are to be accompanied by explanations to be considered as valid submissions. Otherwise I will treat them as blind guesses—they do not count!

Good luck and have fun!

p/s: I forgot to say that I only allow ONE attempt per customer for each question. Once wrong, no more second attempt. So make sure you know the answers, don't just guess blindly. You may submit your answers separately if you like, but again only ONE attempt each.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Answers & Explanations to Virtual Hunt Questions

Finally, it is time to reveal the answers and explanations to the 2 questions I posted about 2 weeks ago. I am happy to note that these questions were well-answered. But I am sad to say that I have only received 1 fully-successful attempt from a fellow Sabahan. The other successful hunters were all from West Malaysia—an indication of the difference in the standards of hunting abilities. I hope that some day we Sabahans will be able to catch up somehow.

Q1) Required by agent to become expecting.

A1) PnR

We are looking for some letters found on the signboard, which are required by the letters A,G,E,N & T, so that together all those letters can be rearranged to become a word which has the same meaning as "expecting".

But to do this, we need an anagram indicator. In this question, the anagram indicator is "become".

Looking at the possible signboards within the sector, the answer is P N R, because:

(P, N, R) + (A, G, E, N, T ) rearranged to become "PREGNANT", which agrees with "EXPECTING".

Q2) Distress call short of a month?


The "distress call" refers to MAYDAY.

"short of" is a deletion indicator; it means we need to delete a month from "MAYDAY". If we delete "MAY" from "MAYDAY", we are left with "DAY". Therefore, the answer is 24 JAM, because DAY = 24 JAM.

I hope you had fun with these questions. I am still working on some new puzzles. Hopefully if it's not raining again tomorrow, I will be able to take some pictures and conjure up some interesting questions to be posted here in this blog. Stay tuned.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Harapkan Pagar, Pagar Makan Padi

That is a famous Malay peribahasa (proverb) which, if translated literally into English, means: Depended on the fence, yet the fence ate the paddy. It is quite a strange proverb; when I was a small boy, I used to lived in a village wherein there were many paddy fields. Yet very, very few of them actually had any fencing.

This proverb is normally used when a person is relied upon and trusted to protect something, and yet he is the one who's destroying that object of protection. I thought of this proverb when I was reading about a father who raped and sodomised his own teenage daughter for several years until the long arm of the law caught up with him earlier this year. According to this article, he was given a 40-year jail sentence.

Imagine a sex maniac like him spending 40 years in jail without sex. That will be quite a torture, I'm sure. Hopefully, if he is an imaginative or creative person, then he will figure out some other means of relieving himself. But perhaps that would mean he is gonna be a threat to the other inmates? After all in a place like that, sex might not always be consensual amongst the parties. However, don't forget that maybe it won't be him having sex with others; rather, others forcing sex upon him. Yeah, that would be nice for a change.

But now I am thinking about the victim's mother. Where the hell has she been during those 3 years when her husband has been raping and sodomising their daughter 2 to 3 times a week in the living room? She must be a famous sleeper not to know all those while. Perhaps she should shoulder some of the responsibilities of what has happened to her daughter—say 20-year imprisonment is a good figure to consider? That should send a message to mothers not to close one eye when a lunatic sexually assaults her child.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Q1) Alien reflected on this particular question and gained a local moral by the sound of it.

That was the first question in the Be An Angel (Beautiful Gate) Hunt last Saturday. The Clerk-of-Course (CoC) explained the solution like this:

"Alien" refers to "ET".

"this particular question" means "Q1" (or may be written as QI, where the "I" is the Roman numeral for "1"). That "QI" is then reversed (reflected) to get "IQ".

Then "gained a" means the letter "A" is added.

This puzzle is also known as the "charade" type. When joined together, we can get ET + IQ + A = ETIQA. "ETIQA", which is the required answer, sounds like ETIKA which in turn means ETHIC (moral) in Malay ("local" being the translation indicator). And that, folks, was intended to be an easy question, according to the CoC!

Anyway, this thread is not about the above question. But I thought it's a good opening for this discussion.

Do we have ethics in treasure hunts? If yes, then how do we define it? What are the boundaries and limits, beyond which we are deemed to have encroached into unethical realms?

For a while now I've been meaning to raise those questions, but never had the opportunity somehow. I have been repeatedly told that "there are no fixed rules in this sport." But I don't really agree. We must have some basic "rules". Otherwise, I might as well conjure up a question adopting, say, a "cow" or a "horse" as an anagram indicator!

Would it be ethical for a participating team to call an assistant sitting in front of a computer for help? Could we still consider that team as "running on 4"? But isn't this sport about being resourceful too? What if that same assistant received a similar call from another participating team, asking for help on the same question? Would it be ethical to help that other team too?

I actually experienced the above scenario during the recent hunts I joined in KL. I thought it would be an interesting topic to explore. During the Beautiful Gate hunt, we got into that situation when we were dealing with Treasure 1. Then the next day, a similar thing happened in the AMC Hunt. We didn't know the name of a classic convertible (the Alfa Romeo Spider). We got down from the car and asked one of those mechanics. But I noticed that other teams were also asking the same guy. Unfortunately, that so-called mechanic didn't know the answer too! But what if he did? Were we wrong for being resourceful that way?

When I first started hunting, I was disadvantaged because I was too naive. I tried to "play fair" by not getting "outside help". So our team was unable to answer a question, because we didn't know that the "Fat Man" was referring to an atomic bomb.

Q) Fat man dropped here.

A) Nagasaki Japanese Restaurant.

Then later on, I realised that almost everyone got "outside help". It dawned onto me that "playing fair" meant getting "outside help"!

To repeat, if the non-participating fellow has helped a team, would it be unethical for him to help another team? Isn't it the same like the two teams collaborating with each other—except that they are doing it via a third party? It looks a lot like collaboration to me.

Let us consider a possible scenario from the CoC's point of view. Living in a perfect world, he bans all cellphones in treasure hunts. Absolutely no "outside help" is allowed—no assistants at the internet-connected computers waiting for instructions from those on the road; no collaboration between teams; teams strictly "running on 4". All teams will have only themselves to depend on. Well, except for all those daunting dictionaries in the back seat. That would be something, huh?

And then when some teams try to outsmart the CoC by hiding cellphones in the car, the CoC can strike back by requiring body searches—even stip searches, especially on young sexy women hunters. Yeah, that would be nice—I don't mind to be such a CoC!

Unfortunately, in the real world, enforcement is almost always not there. Rules are made to be violated; those who follow the rules will always end up being the losers. Whenever rules are without enforcement, the good guys almost always will lose in the end. The net result is either you join the rules violators and be the "crooks" yourselves; or you don't join the hunt at all.

The way I see it, it is just impossible to fully enforce the rules. Strict rules will also push the new hunters away, because they are usually the ones who need more "outside help". Closing the door to "outside help" means there is just no room for the newbies to come into the game. So I say let's open the door and level the playing field—if that is possible at all. Let's not dwell too much on the charade of ethical practice, because we all know that there is no such thing—at least I haven't witnessed it in treasure hunts.

And what of ethics amongst hunters? What of the pride of winning on one's own? Well, you can still be honest and have pride in your honesty. At the end of the hunt, you can proclaim with pride that you have hunted gentlemanly. The only thing is that you will not likely win any hunt—ever!

Ask For More

No, folks, this has nothing to do with Pepsi.

Within the last week of November I posted 2 treasure hunt questions meant for my fans in KK. We are so short of hunts here. It's my modest attempt to keep the interest going while waiting for the next hunt—whenever that's gonna be!

Well, my questions were well-answered—mostly by the KL masters; but sadly, no Sabahans have been able to answer them perfectly up to now. Those questions were intended for an individual effort—not a team effort. I have received several emails from hunters, asking for more questions.

I will be going around town this weekends to chart a training hunt for my own team members later this month. And I also need to make some early preparations for an open walk-hunt planned for early next year.

So perhaps I can take a picture or two and then throw some questions into my blog. But before I do that, I want to get over with the 2 questions I posted in November. So I intend to close those questions and then reveal the answers/explanations by this weekends in order to make way for the new ones.

Some of you might still want to try, so please don't miss the opportunity—check 'em out here. Remember that I require both answers to come with explanations to qualify as a valid submission.

Good luck, and stay tuned for the new questions.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Learning To Love Oneself

On extreme right: Pei Shun

I used to hate my life when I was a small boy. Mom and dad were hardly ever around. I had to live with my sadistic grandparents whom apparently derived so much pleasure from torturing young children. I can still remember those lonely nights when I cried quietly in the dark and wet my pillow with tears. I felt my childhood was devoid of love; and I wished so much that my life would end somehow. I hated life so much, and I wondered why I was born into this world.

I think all of us must have gone through some very low moments in our lives when everything seems to be crushing in onto us. But I have learned to love myself—I owed it to myself!

Sometimes, when we feel very down—when everything seems so wrong—we tend to forget the good things that we have. We keep thinking about the negative side of life; and we become blind to the good things that we can still enjoy. We forget that there are others who are even more miserable than us...

Sometimes we need to be reminded that we are very lucky after all. Such was the reminder that I received from a young woman whose life's restricted to a wheelchair. Her name was Pei Shun.

Pei Shun was invited to relate a little bit about her life shortly before the final presentation of the Be An Angel (Beautiful Gate) Hunt last Saturday. Pictures of the hunt are available at the Beautiful Gate Blog.

At a young age, Pei Shun suffered the misfortune of a condition known as spinal cerebellar. She had limited control of her limbs and she had to struggle to complete a full sentence. Communicating through an interpreter, she braved all odds to go on stage to tell her story.

Oh how my heart went out to her. With such a misfortune, Pei Shun showed amazing valour. She could still smile and laugh; she was very proud of her two children. I really admire her courage, and although I have fully functional limbs and lead a normal healthy life, I readily admit that I am not as strong as Pei Shun. Watching her throughout that 10 minutes or so, I had to suppress tears from swelling up in my eyes. Pei Shun made me see life from a different angle—most of us are so lucky with what we have.

We see so many people grumbling about so many things—the BERSIH and HINDRAF rallies are very good examples. Maybe we should all learn to count our blessings. Maybe we should all reflect on Pei Shun's life, and then perhaps we will all be happy with what we have...

Monday, December 3, 2007

AMC Treasure Hunt—Arachnophobia

Another exciting hunt co-clerked by celebrity masters, Liew Kok Seng and Dato' Ramesh Rajaratnam. I was given to understand that this was their debut as co-CoCs.

Again, I had to start in the ungodly hours in the morning. Took the train from the KL Sentral Station to Taman Bahagia. It was pretty much the same as the previous day. But this time it was a much further drive to the flag-off point in Cyberjaya. We were amongst the first few to arrive. Seeing that there's still time, we went for a quick breakfast. When we got back to the flag-off point after breakfast, most of the teams were already there.

We were all busy chit-chatting with each other about Mike's hunt the previous day when suddenly it felt like everyone stopped talking and watched in amazement the arrival of the two super grandmasters, Chong Foo Seong and Y S Khong. It was a very grand entry and it felt like eternity seeing them approaching from afar.

It was such an experience—mingling with so many grandmasters. But soon, it was time for the final briefing. It was mainly usual stuff, but it was interesting when Kok Seng announced, "... we're giving you all a very generous 5 hours to hunt," apparently addressing the crowd, but looking directly at Michael Pang. Makes you wonder why, huh?

The AMC Hunt was also a pure hunt with no games of chance. There were 40 route questions to solve, and 5 treasures to submit. 5 Road Safety questions to be completed, but did not contribute any points. However, those questions had some role in the tie-breakers.

The theme of this hunt was "Wild on Wheels". The CoCs made a special mention on knowledge of classic cars, but it was too late to do anything about it anyway. The questions were not as tough as Mike's hunt, but some were still tricky. There were "easier" questions in between tough ones. I thought it was a very good effort considering that it was their first attempt as CoCs. But that is not to say that I don't have any comments on their questions! I guess I am just an impossible person to please 100%. I will come to the analysis and comments shortly.

Interestingly, several pictures were included as questions. So it was much harder to simply google up information from the internet. It's in that sense that Y S Khong had a clear advantage over the rest, but of course it's all in the game!

We felt that the 5 hours given for this hunt was just nice. At least I felt that there was enough time to try to work on all the questions. I think the next time I clerk a hunt here in KK, I will adjust to set more or less similar level of difficulty too so that a wider range of hunters can enjoy the hunt.

We made full use of the allocated time, arriving at the finish station with only about a minute or two to spare. If there's anything for us to complain, time's certainly not it. The CoCs marked all the answers there and then— a task which took them about an hour to complete. In the mean time, we had lunch under some tents while watching some people racing go-karts; and perhaps annoyingly loud music in the background.

When the CoCs were done, all of us went to a pavilion on a small hill, overlooking a beautiful lake. I thought it was just too bright for the powerpoint presentation. It was windy, and there was this poor soul who had to stand behind the projection screen to hold on to it so that it wont be blown off. That was where the answers and explanations were given; as well as presentation of prizes to the winners.

And now, I shall proceed with my (trademark) analysis and comments on the questions. Again, I should caution the new hunters not to take my comments as your guide to improve on treasure hunts. Please ask for second and even third opinions from the many grandmasters...

Q4) In short, it was the subject of automobile controversy recently.

A4) AP @ Ambang Perantau

This question was intended to be an easy question. My team member saw the answer fairly quickly, but was not convinced of the answer. It was much later, when we couldn't find anything better that we reluctantly took AP. And the whole trouble was because of the word "recently" in the question. I must agree with my team members that the AP controversy isn't really recent. I know "recent" is a relative word. What is recent to me may not be recent to others. But I would consider an event within the year as recent, not something that had taken place a few years ago.

Q8) OHH?

A8) Water Maker Marketing & Services.

In my opinion, this question/answer/explanation can't pass close scrutiny. Let's investigate the explanation of the CoC and then see if it can hold water!

This question was intended to be a Double Jeopardy (DJ) type. For the benefit of those who're not so familiar with treasure hunt questions, a DJ is when the solver is given the answer, and he is then required to spot the question on the signboard.

According to the CoC, the word "Maker" found on the board was an anagram indicator. Therefore, it follows that 2 hydrogen (H) and 1 oxygen (O) atoms are rearranged to become OHH, instead of the usual H2O.

But I don't agree with "Maker" as an anagram indicator. To me, an anagram indicator should normally be a verb—an action word (in all the tenses), e.g. make or made or making etc. "Maker", in my opinion doesn't qualify as an anagram indicator. Maybe in some isolated cases, it might be possible to use nouns as anagram indicators, but I can't think of them from the top of my head.

There was once, I thought of conjuring up a question involving Tina Turner, where I thought of rearranging the letters in TINA by adopting the TURNER as an anagram indicator. But in the end, I abandoned that idea, because I couldn't convince myself that TURNER could qualify as an anagram indicator.

Anyway, coming back to this question, there is another (possible) way out for the CoC. And that is by looking at those letters—O, H and H—as the required atoms to produce a water molecule (H2O). In that case, we say O, H & H are makers of—the required atoms to produce—a water molecule. Regretfully, however, in such a case, the explanation would fail on grammatical grounds. The board contained "Water Maker", whereas if we are to rely on this explanation, we would have needed a board that contained "Water Makers".

Having said all those, we chose this intended answer anyway because there were just simply no better alternatives!

Q9) Newly crowned Kimi operates a food business here.

A9) Johan Catering

I suppose this question is OK, but one wonders the neccessity of "Kimi". Newly crowned is already good enough to reflect a champion.

Q11) WW.. rings a bell?

A11) Foryou @ Pusat Aksesori JE

For a moment I was at a lost. Then my team member raised an important question. He said, "Why 'ring a bell'; what does that tell you?" And immediately I thought of a "sounds like" indicator. I must admit that "rings a bell" is new to me as a sounds like indicator.

Then the next step was to figure out those WW. Suddenly we saw "Nice 2 U" on a board. 2 U... hmm... that made a "double-u". But we're still lacking another "double-u". And then finally we saw "Foryou". That was nice, because it sounded like FOUR "U", which of course made 2 "double-u".

So that settled it, "Foryou" satisfied the sounds like indicator. And it satisfied 2 "double-u" to make 4 "U". But unfortunately, it didn't satisfy grammatical requirements! If indeed we can all agree on "rings a bell" as a sounds like indicator, then a correct answer would be "ForyouS". To say "four U" is grammatically incorrect. Because it's plural, it must come with the "S"!

Finally, for the life of me, I just fail to see the significance of the two dots after the "WW". Do they mean anything at all? Why two fullstops there? I thought one will do just fine? Or did I get it all wrong with my analysis? Can anyone please explain those fullstops to me?

Q13) (Picture of classic convertible) What and where?

A13) Picture of "Spider" on wall.

And this, folks was the question that totally defeated our team! We were hopeless; none of us knew the name of the car. It's an interesting way to set a question. By seeing the picture, the hunter had to know that the name of the car was an Alfa Romeo Spider. He then had to spot the picture of a spider on the wall. I am not faulting the CoC here. I am merely expressing my admiration on his creativity in using this means to beat the googling addicts!

Q24) Brew espresso gold roast mixed with coffee creamer for a start.

A24) Makeup Accessories.

An amazing question which wasn't meant to be solvable in my opinion. And I thought I've seen it all in Mike's "Roti Canai" the day before! When I saw this question, my only thought was to look for anything on the boards containing 2 "C"s, because of the "... coffee creamer for a start." After that I had hope to figure out the rest. Then working on all the possible branches, including "Au" for "gold"; "brew", "roast" and "mixed" as possible anagram indicators. Still nothing.

It turned out that this question was so confusing that it even confused the CoC himself! He had meant it to be a complicated anagram to arrive at "Makeup Accessories", but not realising that he was short of an "i"! So everyone got free 2 points for this question.

After a punishing day hunting in the sun, the top 4 teams were tied at 92 points. We improved over our previous day's position to second place. The first place was sooooo close... and yet sooooo far! I guess that gives me more reason to return to try to capture the next one!

Well, folks, 2 days' worth of pure hunts. I enjoyed them both. They are not perfect—no—but I've had my share of blunders when clerking hunts! We all try our best. I hope to be able to do Kok Seng/Dato' Ramesh's hunts again in the future.

Oh! I'd like to express my admiration of Dato' Ramesh. He must be one of those very rare Dato's. He is such a humble, friendly and likeable person; although I am not so sure if he's still gonna be very nice when he reads all my comments above!