Thursday, November 29, 2007

Field Trainings

Yes, folks, tomorrow I'm flying off the KL again for another round of field trainings—the Beautiful Gate and the AMC hunts. This time I am riding with another team of grandmasters. And again I'm sure I have a lot to learn. I will have a lot to report next week when I return from the field trainings.

I am a bit worried about the Beautiful Gate because of the 4-hour time control instead of 6 hours for the same number of questions in a typical hunt. I have seen some of Michael Pang's past hunt questions. I have a feeling that everyone will get into time trouble. It will be a different kind of challenge.

Stay tuned for the stories!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

English Information

Thanks to the Malaysian education system, I went through primary and secondary schools learning all the subjects in Malay—or more precisely, Bahasa Malaysia. I have become so well versed in that language that it is as good as my first language. We did learn English as a single subject, but even that too was designed to suit the "local requirements".

A few years after I left school, I took up a distant-learning course from a university in the United Kingdom, leading to a degree in Estate Management. It was such a struggle because everything was in English. I had to refer to a dictionary all the time; I had to learn grammar all over again. It was a painful endeavour. And having to do it all on my own was not amusing! But it was worth it.

Today, most Government offices are communicating in Bahasa Malaysia. Therefore it helps if one has a good command of that language.

However the private sector is still overwhelmingly English. Most professionals ranging from engineers, architects, lawyers, property consultants etc. still use English to communicate with one another; and most documents are also written in English. Moreover, as we are expanding our dealings globally, the need for the English language is almost compulsory.

It took several decades for the many great thinkers in the Government, whom decide on policies in our education system, to realise that neglecting English was a big mistake. Now they have finally accepted that English is still very important. Hence a few years ago, English has been reintroduced as the medium of instruction in some subjects, notably Mathematics and Science. It is unclear if it will eventually be expanded to other subjects too.

Our local universities churn out thousands of graduates in wide-ranging disciplines annually. But many of them find it difficult to perform at work—unless of course if they work in one of those Government offices.

Several local Estate Management graduates have ended up in my company. Some of them are bright chaps. But no matter how brilliant they are, there is hardly any use if they don't know how to express themselves to the clients. They almost always fail to perform satisfactorily in their written work. Whenever there is a need to produce a complicated valuation report or feasibility study, they would have to struggle with the task.

And the problem is not restricted to fresh university graduates only. Even those holding high positions in the Government could use some improvements in their English proficiency. A friend sent me a video clip of an interesting interview involving the Malaysian Information Minister, Zainuddin Maidin. Check it out here.

I think it is obvious that some of us still have a lot of room to improve on our English command.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

How Do I Tell Her About Him?

It's hard to believe that we're approaching the end of November already. Soon it will be December—the last month of 2007. How time flies...

Last night, JJ was discussing with me about the things she plans to ask from Santa this Christmas. She said she will do without Barbie dolls this time round. She's got 2 bicycles she hardly ever care to ride; and her bed is overflowing with dolls of numerous shapes, sizes and colours. Not to mention her colouring books, pencil and water colours, and the whole set of Disney's story books. And don't forget all the cartoon movies that I downloaded from the internet! The only thing she hasn't got is a baby brother that she's been asking mommy to "egg" for her. Otherwise, she's got almost everything she can think of. The poor kid is having problems deciding what else to ask from Santa!

In less than a month from now—on Christmas eve—we are going to go through the same charade again. JJ is going to leave a glass of milk and some cookies in the living room, close to the christmas tree. Santa will be hungry and thirsty when he arrives with lots of presents, late at night, when JJ is fast asleep.

Now I don't mind the Chipsmore cookies, but I really hate the milk. Struggling to gulp down a whole glass of milk is not a pleasant thought. Who the hell came up with the idea of milk and cookies anyway? Why must it be milk?

Perhaps the best thing to do is to forgo Santa altogether this year. But I hate to break the news to JJ. I know she will be heart-broken when she finds out that there is no Santa—that what she saw in The Polar Express was just fantasy after all.

How do I tell her about him—that there is no "him"?

I marvel at the thought of doing away with the charades. Then I can go directly to the presents each time Christmas arrives. Maybe I will still feel stupid for having to deal with the presents like an FBI top-secret mission, but at least I won't have to struggle with the whole glass of milk.

Yeah, I think that is what I'm going to do. I still have a few more weeks to conjure up a viable explanation why Santa is never ever gonna come again...

Monday, November 26, 2007

Animals Unleashed

About 2 weeks ago, I posted an article entitled Animals in Us. I touched briefly on the BERSIH rally, but quickly went on the discuss about the tendency of a so-called "peaceful march" turning into a violent demonstration.

I wrote, "When a group of mild-mannered people who are not normally violent come together, that gathering might start as something peaceful. But it won't take very long before they influence each other and those same peaceful people can suddenly turn violent. The animal instinct is not easy to control."

Well, it transpired that the BERSIH rally did not turn violent. However, in the comments portion of that thread, I raised the question of whether it was reasonable for the police to adopt the "prevention-is-better-then cure" attitude; whether the police was justified to act before things turn violent? I attracted some interesting views from some visitors to this blog.

Yesterday, another rally was organised—this time by Hindu Rights Action Force (HINDRAF). The object of that rally was totally different from that of the BERSIH rally. And again, I am not keen to delve into the details of that rally—I am sure many others would have done that by now.

However, it is sad that in this particular rally, the "animals" that I talked about 2 weeks ago were unleashed as reported here and here. Perhaps as usually is the case, there were some exaggerations in the reports, but when it comes to violence, does it really make a difference if it's serious or not? After all, a police officer received stitches on his head; and properties were damaged. Thankfully, no lives were lost—so far. Who knows, maybe it will get that far in the next rally? So may I repeat: the animal instinct is not easy to control!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Treasure Hunt Questions

The answers of the following questions are found within either one of the above pictures in no particular order.

It may be necessary to click on those pictures to be able to see clearly some of the signages.

Q1) Required by agent to become expecting.

Q2) Distress call short of a month?

Send in your answers & explanations to

Have fun and good luck!

Friday, November 23, 2007

Answer to Multiple-Choice Question

A little over 2 weeks ago, on 07 November, I posted a cryptic question. I invited my visitors—especially the treasure hunt freaks, to give it a try. Some of you have managed to crack the clue, while others sent in their answers based on blind guesses or dubious explanations.

The question was like this:

(Q) Malaysian figure having a convulsion?

Possible answers:

(A) Abdullah Ahmad Badawi

(B) Tun Dr Mahathir Mohd

(C) Dr Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor

(D) Lim Goh Tong

(E) Ahmad Fairuz

Well, it is time to reveal the answer and explanation. But I won't do it now. Perhaps tonight after I come home from dinner (I was told that Phua Chu Kang will be performing). If it's too late when I come home, I will publish the answer tomorrow.

Those who have tried, I wish to say thank you for your support. Those of you who still want to try, you still have a bit of time to do so.

Went to dinner; came home early; and now posting this.

This is a strange question in that the solution is not exact, yet it is an exclusive fit, given the limited scope of possible answers.

The word Malaysian is an indicator of Malay language. It tells the solver to think in Malay.

Therefore, figure = ANGKA; and convulsion = SAWAN.


From the possible answers, only one can fit perfectly, i.e. Dr Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor

Hope you've enjoyed this puzzle. I will try to conjure something up soon. Stay tuned!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Barisan Alternatif?

It seems that everyone has been occupied with the impending General Election this lately. As we all know, the Government has no choice but to raise fuel prices as soon as we enter into 2008. And then soon after that, Anwar Ibrahim will be eligible to run for office again. Besides, there are also other indications of an impending General Election. For example, we can see that the Prime Minister has been extra busy going around the country; so have many of his "yes men". So it makes sense to speculate that the General Election will be held soon—probably between now and April next year.

Apparently, many people are unhappy with the present Government. Others are just unhappy with the Prime Minister; and still others are unhappy with all his "yes men". Then of course there are also so many in the cabinet whom must be about to fossilize by now—they've been there for ages, still clinging on to power till kingdom come.

To be quite honest, I am unhappy with the present Government too. Police brutality has become rampant; mismanagement of the tax-payers' money has also become more pronounced—hard-earned money spent on a space tourist, for example. All those learned people handling the nation's economy claim that inflation is kept in check, but the reality is that the inflation rate is somewhat alarming.

Nasi campur now costs about 15% more; and bread now costs about 20%-30% more; cooking gas saw a hike of about 30% and still rising. Ask anyone in the street, and they will tell you a more accurate figure than that given by the economists. Don't pay too much attention to those figures given by those hot-shot economists. Otherwise, you are going to fall short on balancing your ledger.

So, yes, the Barisan Nasional isn't doing too well in running the country. Recently, we Malaysians had a scare when the Anti-Corruption Agency was busy roping in some of our VIPs. They claimed that they won't spare anyone. I'm sure we were all worried sick of the prospect of having nobody left to run the country! But of course, we were relieved when the Director-General said, "They can be small or big fry, they will be netted." In that case, we are still OK—only the fry will be netted. The buayas will still be business as usual.

Anyway, with the General Election looming over the horizon, perhaps it is time to prepare ourselves. So what other choices do we have to run this nation of ours?

Enter Barisan Alternatif...

First, we have Keadilan. Maybe it's me, but I just can't trust Anwar Ibrahim. I don't believe in his miraculous recovery from the wheelchair to dancing on the stage—even after taking into account the fact that a foreign specialist had operated on him. Such a miracle can make Christopher Reeve turn in his grave. I can still remember the way Anwar Ibrahim campaigned for Barisan Nasional in Sabah when he was still the Deputy Prime Minister years ago.

Then of course we have PAS. I dread the idea of a nation where men and women are restricted to separate queues when paying for their groceries in the supermarkets. I just can't see myself in such a country.

Another consideration is DAP; and when we think about DAP, we immediately see Lim Kit Siang in our minds. Kit Siang is one person I can trust. I am not saying he is squeaky clean, mind! But when compared to the rest, I can trust him more. Unfortunately, I don't believe DAP is strong enough to stand on its own. It can of course be a big force to team up with other parties to form a Government, but I doubt it will ever happen.

Then there are so many other "lonely cowboys". We have quite many of them here in Sabah in the past. They're the "frogs". They will stand as independent candidates with the sole motive of acquiring wealth if they can win seats. And of course the moment they do win anything, they're almost automatically inclined to join the highest bidder. And then if they're clever, they will become millionaires overnight. Where the money come from, only God knows. But some of them are not so clever, they simply throw away the money they acquire in no time at all. Free money has no value, you see. This is one of them.

So who is left? I've been thinking about it this lately; it seems that Barisan Alternatif is no alternative after all. Are we screwed?

Chance Of A Lifetime

Yesterday morning, I arrived at the office half an hour late. It was one of those mornings when nothing seemed to go right. Mia couldn't start her car—it's an automatic Proton Waja. Apparently, the battery was dead again. It was just about a week or two ago that she bought a new battery for her car. She tried it a few times, but the car still couldn't start.

It just so happened that it's Mia's turn to send JJ to her grandparents' (JJ's on school holidays). Since her car couldn't start, I had to send them instead. Mia's office is in Alam Mesra, which is miles away in the opposite direction from my office. But, y'know—Murphy's Law—of all the days, it had to be yesterday morning that a stupid bus broke down on the highway, thus creating a massive traffic jam all the way to my office.

Anyway, as I said, I was late. It's not the first time that Mia's Waja gave us trouble like that. But this time, Mia was the problem. She somehow tried to start her car when the gear was at "D". So this is a good lesson, folks—whenever you can't start an automatic car, the first thing to make sure is that the gear is set to "P".

However, at other times, Proton cars are unreliable (although the engine seems OK). Since Mia bought it about 4 years ago, she's changed the motor of the power windows twice. And I found out that Proton has had that problem since its first car rolled out of production some 20 years ago. That same problem also prevails across the board for most of its models. It is hard to imagine that they haven't solved that problem for such a long time. In fact, I am not sure if they even tried to solve it at all.

In recent years, Proton has been losing its previleges. The protection by the Malaysian Government has been gradually declining. It must have been difficult for the Malaysian Government to let Proton grow up on its own. It's about time too! But, you know, in some ways, the Government still protects its baby—sometimes, it is not easy to let go. Hence, this appeal to give Proton a chance...

I am sure if we are patient enough, Proton would be able to solve the problem with the power windows within the next 20 years. That is if it's still in business then.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Discovery Channel & Wrath of Treasure Hunt God

Thanks to the kindness of my hosts, I discovered quite a lot of new stuff while I was in West Malaysia. I hardly had any chance to pay attention to the surroundings while I was hunting. But after the hunt, when I was more relaxed, I went for a short sight-seeing in Melaka.

This is the famous A Famosa—or rather, what's left of it. It's quite an impressive piece of architectural work; it's been around for about 500 years.

Beyond this main entrance, up on the hill, is the remnant of an old church, wherefrom one can have a wonderful aerial view of Melaka town.

I was told that this ship is some kind of museum. Unfortunately, it was closed for renovation; so I was only able to have an external cursory view of it. Who knows, maybe I will be able to check it out when I join another hunt to Melaka.

I was also introduced to some famous foods—lots of them—while I was in KL. This is the famous rojak stall in SS15. Notice the long queue. The queue was still there after I finished eating the rojak.

This was where we sat after buying the above rojak. That's grandmaster Margaret sitting beside me with her sweet smile.

And this is the famous rojak. Imagine the trouble we had to go through to eat this stuff!

On Sunday night, Hunters "R" Us and their family members were kind enough to bring me to a seafood restaurant. We had an assortment of food—VK was all out to unleash all the specialties. Indeed they were all so good; if only my stomach had more room to accommodate more food!

Then on Monday morning, KK Chai brought me to the famous Ampang Yong Tau Foo. This is a shot of it. I must have gained at least 10 lbs during those few days I was there.

But everything was just too good to be true. I found it quite surprising that the Treasure Hunt God didn't show his true colours up to that point. Those of you who've been following my blog all these while would know that He would somehow, one way or another, get to me in the end. I was beginning to wonder when...

I flew back to KK on Monday. On Sunday night, I checked my flight itenerary again just to make sure. My flight was to depart LCCT-KL at 1:40pm on Monday. So I had plenty of time on Monday morning. Well, as I said, KK Chai brought me around for a short "tour" and the Ampang Yong Tau Foo. But before we knew it, traffic was already building up. In the end it was clear that I wouldn't be able to make it to the airport before my flight if I took the bus from KL Sentral. So Chai drove me all the way to LCCT-KL. I arrived there at 1:20 pm; I rushed to the counter...

Then the shock! The board showed the flight departing for KK at 2:15 pm. I was told that I had already missed my flight. It turned out that I made a terrible mistake—1:40 pm was supposed to be my time of arrival in KK; the departure was at 11:10 am!

OK, calm down, Cornelius... No point crying over spilt milk... So I rushed to the ticket counter to buy a seat for the 2:15 pm. But of course, when you are rushing, you know, the queue was exceptionally long, and only one person handling the counter. And, yes, that person made sure that she took her sweet time handling her customers.

Anyway, to make the long story short, when it was my turn, I was too late for the 2:15 pm flight. So I had no choice but to get the 5:10 pm—that was the next flight out to KK. So I spent the next several hours lingering at the airport feeling like a total idiot, my 11:10 am ticket forfeited, and I had to spend another RM360 for that 5:10 pm flight. I really need to do something about this curse on me.

But you know what they say, some people just never learn. I'm going to KL again next week for the Beautiful Gate and the AMC hunts! How the hell did I get so damn obsessed with treasure hunts?

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

MAH Hunt: Peril of Excavation

In my opinion, some of the questions in the MAH Hunt had room for improvements. I'd like to elaborate some of them here. Let me hasten to stress that these are strictly my own opinion from a novice's point of view. Therefore, the masters may disagree with me!

Q1) Love story value in a lost shoe after midnight is part of this tale.

A1) Cinderella Bridal Palace.

I was told that the Clerk-of-Course (CoC) had been clerking hunts for many years. But in my opinion, those years were not reflected in this particular question.

To start with, the surface reading isn't smooth. The first 3 words—"Love story value"—are ambiguous, to say the least. Why "value"? That word plays no role in leading the solver to the solution. Another point of interest is in connection with the word "shoe". As Kok Seng correctly pointed out, the accurate item in the tale is "slipper". Here is the cover of a book I downloaded from the internet. I suppose some people don't really care—shoe and slipper both fit the tale, so why bother?

Q16) Play thing created from place to satisfy your tummy.

A16) Kedai Makanan dan Minuman MAGE.

I am OK with this question, but I don't agree to "play thing" as a GAME. To me, "play thing" refers more to a toy and the likes.

Q24) Oil company states something that should not be done. What is that forbidden action?

And this, folks, is the RM1,000-question for our team. It looks so straightforward, huh? Now let us analyse in detail. The "oil company" tells the solver that he is probably required to search for a signboard by an oil company, forbidding something. That should be easy enough, right? Then the next step would be to copy that forbidden action. Unfortunately, within that sector, we didn't see anything that would fit. However, one possible answer would be this:

This was how this board was seen from the car. On the white board at the bottom, there was a mention of "hydrocarbon pipelines", so it was a promising candidate. But there was no mention of any specific oil company on these boards. So what now?

Then suddenly, Margaret demonstrated her observation skill. With her eagle eyes, she spotted this sign across the other side of the road:

This sign was more promising because most oil companies would have this sign almost everywhere. But again, it didn't contain the name of an "oil company".

So now we had to make a choice. There were no other signs forbidding any actions within the sector, so hunters were basically forced to one of the above boards. Which one do you think is a better fit to the question? Well, we ended up with the "No Smoking" sign, because that's obviously a more convincing choice.

BUT! little did we know, that this question wasn't about a sign board that was visible from the car. No—the hunter was required to get down from the car and stand right in front of the board to be able to see this:

At the bottom of the white board, there was the "ESSO MALAYSIA BERHAD". It was impossible to see it from the car, but it was there alright! Notice that the logo of Esso is also no longer there—well, except for a very faint shadow of it. But to be honest, I didn't see this "excavation" signboard. Nonetheless, had I seen it, I might still have chosen the "No Smoking" signboard anyway, because I just couldn't see the "Esso"—certainly not from the car.

In the end, the CoC wanted the "No Excavation" board as the answer. However, up to now I still think it doesn't fit. The answer should've been "Excavation @ No Excavation", because after all, the question asked for the forbidden action. So the forbidden action should be "excavation".

Q26) Perhaps our angkasawan got his clothing here.

A26) Apollo Fashion.

The last time I checked, our angkasawan went to space in the Soyuz. But who knows, maybe the next one will be flying in an Apollo.

Q29) Supermarket invoice for the jungle king?


I don't blame the CoC for this particular question. But I'd like to bring it up anyway. I must agree with Vincent that Lions don't live in the jungles, but more in the deserts—or more accurately, the savanna and grassland. So strictly speaking, the tigers are the kings of the jungles.

And now we turn to the walk hunt questions:

Q5) No longer needed when under goes in without hesitation.

A5) Red Ant.

I think it's more accurate to say, "No longer needed when under without hesitation goes in."

Q12) Oily little imps?

A12) Elf Lubricants.

Quite straightforward, but I am sad to note the defect on grammatical grounds. I think it is a sloppy job. Notice that the "imps" is plural, but the answer "elf" is singular. It made me pause and consider other signs for fear that this board was a deliberate decoy.

I am also not impressed with the timeframe given to hunters for Leg 2 of the hunt. I think it was wreckless to force the hunters to drive so fast like that. Thank goodness, all teams arrived safely at Bayview Hotel.

Finally, Mission 3 was quite a shame. It wasn't very difficult. One had to buy a key-chain from a guy named Rahman. His name must be found at the back of the key-chain. To the unwary, there were others lingering around with key-chains too, but without the "Rahman". And here the CoC failed again in my opinion. The guy named Rahman ran out of his key-chains, resulting in the CoC accepting any key-chains. Therefore those prudent hunters who took the trouble to ensure that they had the "Rahman" on their key-chains ended up with no advantage at all.

Overall, I must say that the standard of this particular Clerk-of-Course is far from good; unless of course if all KL CoCs are like that. In that sense I am not very satisfied. I am therefore looking forward to the Beautiful Gate and AMC hunts. Let's see if those hunts are any different.

MAH Hunt: 3-in-1

From left to right: Me, Vincent, KK Chai & Margaret.

It was my first open hunt in West Malaysia. As mentioned earlier, I was lucky enough to be given an opportunity to ride with the grandmasters. The hunt brought us from Kuala Lumpur to the historic town of Melaka.

I thought it was an interesting format — it was divided into 3 legs:

Leg 1 was the normal motorised hunt out from KL. Shortly after 8 am, teams were flagged off. Time control was 4 hours 30 minutes, ending up in Guoman Hotel. There were 30 route questions and 2 treasures to solve. There were also 3 Majlis Keselamatan Jalan Raya questions which carried no points, although failure to answer would result in score penalty. In between, teams had to stop in a dragon fruit farm for Mission 1: Slaying the "Dragon" Experience. The challenge was not complicated, it was mainly about eating dragon fruits cut into halves without using any utensils or hands to dig the flesh out, and eating it without damaging the skin.

We were the first to arrive at the pit stop of Leg 1 with a good 20 minutes before the station was opened. We waited anxiously for the arrival of the Clerk-of-Course. After we clocked in, we waited a while longer before the second team arrived. A fair number of teams got into bad traffic and arrived later, thus incurring time penalties.

Everyone had to wait a while longer before the VIPs arrived — as normally is the case — and then after some speeches, we had a sumptuous lunch.

Leg 2 was quite something. Thanks to the late arrival of the VIPs during the end of Leg 1, I suppose the time frame for Leg 2 had to be trimmed down a bit. The result was a formula 1 race from Guoman Hotel to the Bayview Hotel in Melaka within 1 hour 30 minutes. Of course Datuk Ramesh had no problem whatsoever. It's just too bad that his car had no wings. I'm sure at the speed he was driving, his car would have easily (literally) flown all the way to Melaka.

During the journey from Guoman Hotel to Bayview Hotel, teams had to find 15 hotel names hidden in a letter grid. Ordinarily, such task is no big deal, but doing it in a car travelling at high speed and with full stomach is quite a different matter.

Oddly, however, my team had no sense of urgency throughout that Leg 2. We travelled at average speed, and only realised the timeframe when it was almost too late. Nonetheless, we arrived at the Bayview Hotel with 1 minute to spare. When we arrived there, many other teams were already there, and we hardly even realised that they had overtaken us.

Leg 3 was the walk hunt. There were 20 questions to answer. The night before, I was told that it's going to be a 2-kilometre walk, but it turned out to be much more than that! It was quite fun walking the streets of Melaka, but we were all drenched in sweat; it was quite some walk!

About half way through, we had to buy a key-chain from someone, but that was not meant to be a difficult mission. When we finally arrived at the hotel again, we had some more minutes to spare. Uncle Chong Foo Seong was there in the hotel lobby. He was panting and obviously had a very, very good exercise. His team members somehow gave him some wrong instructions and he ended up going for a wild goose chase in the wrong street!

Later on when Ramesh and Kong Yew arrived at the hotel, I couldn't help overhearing their debate about the interpretations of "go ahead" and "go straight". Someone was saying, "When I said 'Go straight', I meant 'You go ahead first lah', I didn't mean go straight into that street!"

Well, overall, it was an interesting hunt. I didn't think it was a tough hunt. In fact, I would have been happier if it was a little bit tougher. I thought some of the questions could use some improvements, but I will discuss that in detail in another thread.

After the final submission of answers, we walked all the way back to Jonker Street again for Ais Kacang, and then took a cab back to the hotel. Later that evening, we had another sumptuous meal. We sat together with Kong Yew and Kok Seng. There were only 5 of us at our table, so you can imagine how much food went to waste; it was an 8-course dinner!

It was nice to get to know Kong Yew and Kok Seng. They were also kind enough to teach me some Tamil words. Imagine how knowledgeable some people are!

Soon, it was time for the question & answer presentation. From the beginning of the hunt, I was only keeping track on 3 teams, namely, Hunters "R" Us (which I tumpang), the Penang masters, and Uncle Chong's team. I didn't think there was any threat from other teams. So realistically speaking, there were only 3 teams competing that day. I say this because for some strange reasons, only the top 3 teams were eligible for prizes in the open category. Well, we came in third, which meant last place of the three competing teams at the top. It was quite a painful way to lose because all of us got the same score, i.e. 323 points. Yet we were the team which made the first mistake, so we lost the tie. But I will elaborate on this again later in another thread.

It was such an exhausting hunt, yet it was very satisfying. If only it was a little tougher, then it would have been perfect! Riding with the grandmasters was just awesome. I watched in silent admiration. They worked very efficiently; they worked very quick and hardly wasted any time — so much so that even toilet breaks might also be sacrificed, unless if it's really necessary!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Home Sweet Home

Oh! It's so good to be home again. What a trip; I have so much to tell, I don't know where to start!

I touched down at around 8:30pm, and then went straight to dinner. And only now I arrived home. Some of you might be wondering how come I took almost 7 hours to fly from LCCT-KL to LCCT-KK. Well, it's a long story — may I repeat — I have so much to tell. But I am half dead right now. So y'all will have to wait till tomorrow for stories of the fantastic hunt last Saturday.

But there are other stories I want to tell too, so I reckon the best way to do it is to separate the stories into 3 main headings:

1) MAH Hunt — 3-in-1

Synopsis: General overview of an apprentice riding with the grandmasters from KL to Malacca. It's a unique hunt covering:

(i) Leg 1: motorised hunt;
(ii) Leg 2: formula 1 with a twist;
(iii) Leg 3: Walk hunt with not so much twist (this was apparently the favourite leg of Uncle Chong Foo Seong).

2) MAH Hunt — Peril of Excavation

Synopsis: Detailed anaysis of the hunt as a whole; some questionable questions; how we got to last place.

3) Discovery Channel & Wrath of Treasure Hunt God

Synopsis: The tourist in me; hospitality of my host; other new things — places and new friends. Of course, not to forget how the Treasure Hunt God was still at it, up to the very last minute.

Alas, I can hardly keep my eyes open right now. I'll just feed Boomer, have a quick shower and then hit the sack.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Having a Kit Kat

Yes, folks, I am taking a break for a few days. Perhaps I've been posting too frequently, so some of you will be happy to know that you can take a break too. I won't be posting for a few days until I return next week.

Tomorrow is the day I am flying off to Kuala Lumpur for my field training in treasure hunt (which will be held on Saturday). I am lucky to be given an opportunity to ride with the grandmasters. I know I will get to learn a lot from them.

Apart from the hunt, I am also excited that I will be going all the way to the historic town of Malacca, a place I've been meaning to visit for such a long time now. That is where the hunt will take us, so this trip is a significant history in the making!

I am still disappointed that the other hunt has been cancelled, but maybe it's a blessing in disguise. I would have no energy left after the back-to-back hunts.

Oh! I will have a lot to tell when I return. Stay tuned!

Many Faces Of The Proboscis Monkeys

This Saturday, my company's sports club will be going for a short tour to Klias, which is about 2 hours' car ride to the south of Kota Kinabalu City. It is one of the many tours we have here in Sabah. People from all over the world come to Sabah to catch a glimpse of the proboscis monkeys in their natural habitats.

Unfortunately, I will be going for a treasure hunt in Kuala Lumpur over the weekends. So I won't be able to join them. To those of you who're wondering how this creature got its name—proboscis monkey—it won't be difficult to understand once you get to see its prominent nose. I used to think that it's some sort of freak mistake by God when creating this species. You can read more about this animal here. And then you should make it a point to come to Sabah to see them for yourselves one of these days.

And this, on the other hand, is an even bigger mistake by God—it is a different kind of proboscis monkey which I stumbled upon here. It is a stark reminder to all of us that perhaps we are not very different from our primate cousins. Sometimes we can't really tell which are the monkeys, and which are the humans; which are the proboscis and which are the...

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Saving The World

I had an interesting conversation with a fellow Rotarian over lunch recently. He was telling me about an article he had read. Apparently we have been burning too much hydrocarbon, causing the depletion of the ozone layer. Consequently, there are "holes" in the sky wherefrom harmful radiations from the sun can penetrate into our atmosphere. One of the many negative effects is global warming. He said at the rate we are going right now, it has been estimated that the world could be flooded in 10 years' time due to melting ice at the north and south poles.

I thought that was quite an alarming piece of information. Then again, I fancy it's an exaggeration somehow. I asked my friend if there's anything we could do about the situation. He suggested some remedial measures, including the amusing idea that "we don't burn hydrocarbon unnecessarily". Maybe we should all consider cycling to work— that would be a good start.

Then another Rotarian—he's a Japanese—joined in the conversation. He said in Japan, they do their part by recycling whatever they can recycle. Japanese households separate their rubbish into 7 recycling bins. In Malaysia, we also have the Kitar Semula programme where recyclable rubbish are separated into 3 recycling bins.

Just a few days ago, I posted an article on the brilliant invention of the wonder bras by the Japanese. Instead of disposing of their chopsticks, Japanese women can tuck them nicely into their bras. But one might wonder what do the Japanese men do with their used chopsticks. I am sure they are working on inventing wonder briefs for their men where they can tuck their chopsticks in. I suppose that should save a lot of trees from getting chopped down.

Not to be outdone, the Chinese now recycles used condoms into cheap hair bands. I know 10 years sounds like a very short time to save the world, but perhaps recycling used condoms is overdoing it a tad too far? Can you imagine your used condoms ending up on someone's hair?

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


"The Barisan Nasional administration has fulfilled promises made at the last general election."

— Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi

The self-assessment approach recently introduced to Malaysians for filing tax returns should never be adopted by the Government when talking about its own performance in running the country. Somehow it just doesn't sound right. Only the rakyat can be the judge as to whether the Government has indeed fulfilled its promises made at the last general election.

Maybe it's me, but it sounded cheap coming from the Prime Minister. It even sounded a lot like arrogance. In the Malay language, there is a saying related to the rice grain — the richer and heavier its content the more it will bend its stem down to the ground. Some people must learn to be like the rice grains — the more they have achieved, the humbler they should become.

Perhaps it is best that the Prime Minister let the rakyat be the judge — whether the Government has fulfilled its election promises. His own assessment doesn't carry much weight. Come the next general election, we shall get the rakyat's assessment in the ballot boxes; and that assessment shall be significant.

The Curse of Treasure Hunts

About 2 years ago the Institution of Surveyors Malaysia (ISM) here in Kota Kinabalu organised a Charity Treasure Hunt. I've heard of treasure hunts before that, but didn't really know what was it all about. Back then I thought it was something like searching for stuff hidden somewhere or buried in the ground. My company decided to send a team, and I was chosen as one of the members in our team. I wasn't interested, but reluctantly signed up anyway for the sake of doing charity.

The day before the hunt, there was a briefing conducted by the Clerk-of-Course. I didn't bother to attend that briefing. My plan was to go for a joy ride during the hunt, but not really to participate in the games. That night I played mahjong up till 4 am in the morning.

Then on the day of the hunt, I was pleasantly surprised that it wasn't about digging up buried treasures after all. Instead, it was mainly about cracking clues and cryptic riddles, answers of which were found on signboards along the routes. And I fell in love with the game almost instantly!

After a few months, I myself set a closed hunt for my company. It was mainly for the fun of it. I was obviously not qualified to set hunts. I can still remember the very first question I conjured up:

Q) We are no longer small; now we have periods. Who are we?

Many teams gave the names of beauty saloons found within the question sector as their answers, thinking that the question had something to do with women. But the answer I was looking for was:

A) S. M. All Saints

After that I've joined several other hunts. Then in April this year, I undertook a major assignment in clerking an open hunt for Sutera Harbour Resort and Angkatan Hebat. I invited 2 elite teams from Kuala Lumpur— Hunters "R" Us and Semua Boleh Masuk. Our very own Main Tembak also participated. In the end Hunters "R" Us got almost perfect score (failing in only 2 route questions) and won the hunt. Semua Boleh Masuk would have been second, but they got the time penalty and fell to third place after Main Tembak. The rest of the teams were miles away, and I was criticised for setting such a "tough" hunt.

But we don't have many hunts here in Kota Kinabalu. So I've broadened my horizon to Kuala Lumpur where hunts are aplenty. My friend, KK Chai, a member of Hunters "R" Us, introduced me to Michael Pang's blog; and then from there I found my way to RiddleRaiders Blog. Very soon, I found some hunter friends in Kuala Lumpur.

Before long, I set my mind on joining the infamous STFOGA hunt. But that hunt was postponed a few days before its scheduled date. I was disappointed, although later I was relieved not to have made that hunt after all due to this. The next hunt I set my mind on was the Sun Hunt. Apparently this was "the mother of all hunts" in Kuala Lumpur. But that hunt too was subsequently postponed to November. I was beginning to think that I was cursed as far as treasure hunts were concerned. Of all the many hunts in KL, what's the odds of the very two I wanted to join getting postponed?

But no, that was probably all in my mind. So recently I signed up for Sri Maha Mariamman Temple Building Fund Hunt. It's to be held on the 18th of November—this Sunday. And this morning, I received the news that it has been cancelled. Now what's the odds of that happening? Amazing, huh?

And that is not the end of the story. After I found out about the cancellation, I quickly contacted some friends to try to join another hunt scheduled for the same day in KL— the Lebaran Challenge. But by now, you know what's going to happen, right? Yes, folks, that other hunt has also been cancelled. What's the odds of that happening?

Is there any feng shui master out there who can advise me how to remedy this curse upon me? Should I forget about treasure hunts altogether?

Monday, November 12, 2007

Discount factors

Isn't it annoying when people lie to you? And it is especially annoying when the person or party telling the lie has been entrusted to tell the truth.

I have always had problems trusting newspaper articles 100%. So whenever I read the papers, I have this strange habit of discounting the reports by a certain percentage. I have long adopted a discount factor of between 10% to 20%. For example, if it is reported that 100 people have died in a tragedy, I would give it a margin of error of 10%-20% so that in my mind I see between 80 to 120 people have died in the tragedy.

Last night I posted an article entitled "Animals in us" in connection with the BERSIH demonstration last Saturday. In it, I provided a link to an article I extracted from The Star which gave a figure (which it in turn obtained from the Inspector-General of Police) of about 4,000 demonstrators.

This morning, a friend, having read my post, was kind enough to send me some links which reveal a far larger crowd in the BERSIH march — 40,000 instead of 4,000 (Check out the links here and here). That works out to be a mind-boggling 90% discount factor. It gives us an idea of how unreliable the information by the police chief is; and it also shows the level of reliance one can place on The Star.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Animals in us

About 2 weeks ago, 2 policemen died in a shootout during a drug ambush that went awry. Later, it was revealed that they did not have bullet-proof vests on during the ambush. Apparently the police force did not have enough protective gears for all its personnels; so only those out on "dangerous" missions are equipped with the relevant protective gears. Such was the explanation offered by the Inspector-General of Police, Tan Sri Musa Hassan.

One has to wonder what are the criteria for a mission to qualify as "dangerous". Obviously "drug ambush" does not qualify. However, it seems certain that handling public demonstrations — peaceful or not — falls within the definition of "dangerous". After all, the riot police are often equipped with protective gears, especially when they gang up on unarmed civilians.

The police did not give their consent for the "peaceful" demonstration march from Jalan Tun Perak to Dataran Merdeka yesterday. The march was apparently organised for "Clean and Fair Election (Bersih)". When the demonstrators went ahead with the march anyway, the riot police came in to disperse the crowd with teargas and water cannons. And then as expected, they were criticised severely for their actions.

Now I am not really interested in the demonstrators' agenda. For one thing, I have come to accept the fact that elections in Malaysia had never been fair, and never will be. For another, I don't believe yesterday's rally, if uninterrupted by the big bullies, would have made any difference at all.

But being a keen observer of human psychology that I am, I would like to explore the meaning of "peaceful" demonstration. What is it, really? Is there such a thing as a "peaceful" demonstration? Well, Pak Lah is of the opinion that "there's never been peaceful gatherings."

I don't agree with Pak Lah. In a way, I think it was reckless of him to say what he said. Of course some gatherings are peaceful. But there is this thing about humans — they are basically "animals" with superior mental abilities than other living beings on earth.

Have you ever seen a timid dog with its tail between its hind legs when alone in an unfamiliar territory? Yet when that same dog is put into a pack large enough to be powerful, it becomes wild and fierce. Humans are very much like that too. When a group of mild-mannered people who are not normally violent come together, that gathering might start as something peaceful. But it won't take very long before they influence each other and those same peaceful people can suddenly turn violent. The animal instinct is not easy to control.

People like Anwar Ibrahim is very well aware of such animal instinct. After all, his "peaceful" gathering shortly before he was arrested almost 10 years ago turned ugly. His gathering which started as something peaceful ended up with violent riots, causing substantial loss of properties.

It was probably in such context that Pak Lah gave his opinion — that "there's never been peaceful gatherings."; and it was probably in anticipation of such unruly behavior that the police came in to disperse the crowd before it was too late.

Perhaps this particular crowd was different. Maybe they wouldn't have turned violent. But from what I've seen before, I would seriously doubt it.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Hazard of breast-feeding

It is amazing what some women would do to "beautify" their breasts. Of course we all know about the famous implantations of silicones into the breasts by surgical means. I have not researched who was the brillliant doctor who came up with this bright idea in the first place. I have also heard of using hormones to enlarge the breasts. Apparently some women feel more confident and beautiful with huge breasts. I wonder why.

A male friend of mine once said to me, "If a woman's breasts are more than a handful, they're probably too much to handle." But don't pay any attention to my friend, because he's a bozo with a very dry sense of humour.

But seriously, do women really look more beautiful or sexy with huge breasts? My personal preference (from a man's point of view) is that an average size will do just fine. But I suppose some men always want more—in terms of size. They are of the opinion that women having breasts like Dolly Parton are perfect.

Well, I beg to differ. I suspect those men are probably thinking along the line of saving some money on buying thick mattresses—there's enough cushion in those breasts. I don't know if they ever thought of the danger of accidentally getting suffocated if they overindulged in those cushions.

Anyway, the Japanese has found yet another purpose for the breasts—or rather the bras that support the breasts. In their endeavour to preserve the environment (which is admirable of them), Japanese women no longer dispose of chopsticks. Instead they tuck them away nicely in their specially-invented bras; thus "lifting" the breasts and "gently accentuate cleavage".

Now Japanese men will have more to worry about the next time they want to get naughty with their women. They must first make sure those chopsticks are already out of the way. Otherwise they may just get their eyes poked and get injured in the process.

Friday, November 9, 2007

The Playboy

Some people live life to the fullest like there is no tomorrow. They eat like a pig; smoke up to 4 packets per day; do no physical exercise at all. "Why worry about tomorrow?" they'd ask. Come what might be, they'll find a way to solve the problem when it comes! And they always do!

Such is the attitude of a playboy I know. He never ceased to amaze me with his attitude. Yet he is happy with his life. He got married when he was 19, having left school after form 3. It wasn't long before the kids came along like the locomotive and its cars. But his marriage wasn't smooth-sailing — no — there were fights all the time. However, it was not until 12 years later before the inevitable divorce took place.

By then, he had 6 children. That, of course, wasn't gonna derail him from his happy-go-lucky life attitude. So he went hunting again and ended up with a second wife. And then an additional 2 more kids.

I can't remember him ever having a steady job, but hey! why should that stop him from enjoying his life, right? Well, at the age of 52, he had a heart attack. It must have been surprising for the playboy, since he obviously did not foresee ever getting sick. While he was in the hospital bed looking pathetic, his mistress called up his second wife, saying that she's pregnant — that the playboy had promised to marry her. I bet no one would've wanted to be the second wife then, huh?

The playboy went through what's known as the angioplasty, and was quickly up on his feet again. But the doctor advised him to quit smoking, watch his diet, and do regular aerobics exersices. Of course as soon as he was out of the hospital, he started smoking again, quickly building up his momentum up to 4 packets per day. Then he decided there's no use to control what he liked to eat. He also didn't bother about doing aerobics exercises.

Anyway, after the heart attack ordeal, and the ensuing third world war at home with number two, life continued as usual. Well, he went on to have another 2 more kids with his mistress. Hey! You only get to live once, you know!

At around the age of 60, he had another heart attack. This time he had to go through an open-heart surgery — a quadruple bypass. But shortly before the surgery, his family members found out that his mistress was expecting yet another baby! Well, he didn't quit smoking; didn't control his diet, but we know that he at least did some aerobics exercises. I think he must have misunderstood the doctor on that particular advice.

And then the playboy survived that second surgery! And again he started smoking and eating like a pig. What can I say, some people are lucky, you know. I don't know whether to be happy or sad for him.

But one thing is certain, dad is very pleased and happy with himself...

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Candle in the wind

"A candle that burns itself to brighten the lives of others..."

— International Trade and Industry Minister, Datuk Seri Rafidah Aziz

Don't you think life as a candle is so pathetic? You are created for the sole purpose of giving brightness to others when they are in darkness. But while you are rendering your service, you suffer the torment of burning yourself until there is nothing left to burn. And then you disappear into nothingness and forgotten forever. Such is the prospect of living as a candle...

But sometimes, in some situations, the candle that burns does not burn itself; and it does not disappear into nothingness. Far from it — it grows stronger and richer with every burn, so much so that it refuses to quit rendering its services to others. And so let us not waste our pity on the mighty candle. It is more than happy to give us light.

During this festival of light, may I wish everyone Happy Deepavali.

Multiple choice question

I visited a fellow treasure hunter's blog to read her write-up on the recent Sun Hunt. I posted comments therein and thought it might be fun to throw in a cryptic question. Then I also invited another hunter friend in the RR Blog to give it a try.

Shortly ago, I received an email from a Sabahan friend who happened to have stumbled upon one of those blogs and saw my question there. He said I should also give a chance to my Sabahan friends to try out the question so that they can hone their cryptic skills, or learn from it.

And so I thought there is no harm to publish the question here. I must apologize to my Sabahan friends; I have no intention to deprive you from learning new tricks. I conjured up the question at the spur of the moment to tease a friend. Well, here it is, see what you make of it:

(Q) Malaysian figure having a convulsion?

Possible answers:

(A) Abdullah Ahmad Badawi

(B) Tun Dr Mahathir Mohd

(C) Dr Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor

(D) Lim Goh Tong

(E) Ahmad Fairuz

Send the answer & explanation to me at

I suppose the grandmasters can solve this question fairly quickly. But when I let my own team members try it, I am sad to say that they failed miserably. Goes to show what a weak team we are!

I will not publish the answer and explanation — at least not for a long time. So serious hunters must give it a try, instead of simply wait for the answer. Send me your attempt. I will then reveal the solution through email. Fair enough?

Tuesday, November 6, 2007


IMAGINE that you're born into the Murut tribe in the early 1900s. You live in a small community of shifting cultivators of hill padi and tapioca. The men within the tribe hunt with their blowpipes. Sometimes if they're lucky, they might catch a couple of large wild boars and deer — enough to feed the entire tribe for a few weeks. When the supply of meat is exhausted, then the men will have to hunt again; and the cycle continues. Everyone stays together in longhouses which are normally located close to the rivers.

Now imagine that you're the Chief of this tribe. You and your people have never seen modern civilisation — no motorcars, electricity, and piped water.

Then one day a loud giant bird comes down from the sky and lands in the river just beside your longhouse. You have never ever seen such a creature in your entire life before. You are shocked. Everyone goes into hiding. Then the noise from the giant bird dies off and a person emerges from it. The latter makes a friendly gesture. And then slowly everyone comes out from their respective hiding places. The person does not speak your tongue, but uses sign language to invite you, the Chief, into the giant bird. You are scared, but eventually take up the challenge.

Soon you are airborne in the giant bird together with your new friend. What an unbelievable experience! Who would have thought that men can fly! After a few minutes, the giant bird descends and eventually lands in the river again. You are very happy, and your people are ecstatic.

Then the new friend — still using the sign language — offers to trade off the giant bird with the entire year's food supply of your tribe. You don't really know how to operate the giant bird; neither do you know if you will ever figure out what creature it is. Still, y'know, it makes a good souvenir. But damn! taking up the offer means your people might just go hungry for the rest of the year. Imagine the decision you have to make...

What do you think, would you accept the offer? Of course you are the Chief of the tribe, so for better or worse, presumably your people will go along with your decision...

Now you get into a time-travel machine and go 100 years into the future to the year 2007. Still as the Chief of your people, how would you decide on this offer?

No Umbrella?

When my grandmother was still alive, she had the strange habit of repeating herself over and over again on the same topics. One might think that that was the result of getting old and senile. But in her case, she was like that long before she was old. Some people are like that; they lack originality in whatever they do — including their conversations.

On the other hand, some people are not repetitious; rather they have the strange habit of emphasizing a point or an idea in many different ways by using different words. I was told that the great Sir Winston Churchill had this style in his speeches. Closer home, we see it in our Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi with his famous tagline: Cemerlang, Gemilang, Terbilang.

I have no formal training as an orator — in fact I suck in giving speeches. But looking at these great people, I suspect that it's some kind of trick or strategy to buy time when they run out of ideas of what else to say! I suppose it is a useful trick when one is faced with a situation where there's so little to say, and so much time allocated to say them.

In my opinion, Malaysia has always had the problem of "lacking originality". Take for example the themes by the many politicians since our independence 50 years ago. Although expressed in many different ways and styles; and to a varying degree of emphasis, Malaysians are always told that the Malays "will have to be prepared for a more competitive culture" — that "we are not doing justice to our own community if we let them think they can forever run under the umbrella," as reported here.

Yet the truth is that the "protection" will always be there. I used to be frustrated when my bumiputera classmates were granted scholarships to further their studies; whereas I had to look for my own ways even though I scored better than them in the exams. But now I have learned to accept that maybe it is a blessing in disguise after all.

Perhaps before I die, I will be able to actually witness the so-called "umbrella" totally removed and everyone will somehow have to learn to compete. But I doubt it very much. For the last 50 years or so, it's been talk, talk, talk.

Monday, November 5, 2007

My loyal fans

My eldest sister, Audrey, was in town over the weekends. Yes, we siblings are named in alphabetical order, you see. So you know that I am the third in the family, because my name starts with a "C". We have Audrey, Bridget, Cornelius, Dennis, Evelyn, Flora, Grace and Harry. I would love to end it with "Eight is Enough", but unfortunately, that is not the end. Perhaps one of these days, I'll tell you some interesting stories about why eight is not enough.

Anyway, as usual, whenever Audrey's around, we'd have mahjong sessions. That's why I haven't been updating my blog over the weekends. Since I started my blog about 3 weeks ago, I haven't had many visitors — perhaps an average total of about 40 visitors per day. The figure has been growing steadily. I didn't think that I have many fans who'd miss my articles.

But this morning I am pleasantly surprised to receive an email from a fan, asking me why haven't I been posting new articles. And then I also received a text message from another fan, asking me the same question. Meanwhile, I have also received some other emails from friends who said that my articles are "entertaining" — whatever that means!

This message is meant for my fans out there — thanks for your interest in my articles. Know that I am still here to "entertain" you with my blabbering. If there are no new posts after 2 or 3 days, please don't be alarmed. I am still alive and well; I've got life insurance, so I won't die so easily!

Sunday, November 4, 2007

My Bike & Police Efficiency

Can you remember the very first time you owned a vehicle? Well, my "vehicle" was a motorbike — a Yamaha DT125, which was exactly like the one in this picture. It must have been at least 20 years ago. I remember that pleasant feeling the first day I rode the bike home from the dealer. That evening I rode it around the village where I used to live in, showing off my new bike to eveyone in the village. I was so in love with my motorbike.

I paid off the loan for that bike within 12 months. I serviced it regularly and made sure that it's in tip-top condition all the time. After almost 3 years, it still looked very new.

Then one night I was working late in town to prepare for an upcoming exams (I was teaching maths and science in a private college). The college was on the third floor of a converted shop. When I was done with my work, I came down to where I had parked my bike. I was shocked to find that my bike was no longer there — it was stolen!

There's a police station located within walking distance away from the college. So I rushed there to lodge a police report. I was very impressed with the system the police had — it was very efficient.

The good policeman at the front counter took my statement without much delay. He then proceeded on to radio some of his colleagues who're apparently out in patrol cars; giving the description of my bike. I sat there watching in admiration. In between his tasks, he turned to me to say that they're also setting up roadblocks to prevent the thief from escaping. When all's done, he was finally able to attend to me again.

I explained to him that that was my very first bike — that it meant a lot to me. One way or another I must have my bike back. I asked him, "Do you think you will be able to get my bike back for me?"

And his reply came stern and determined, "Of course we will get your bike back!"...

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Wonder Women

Well, y'know, it's not easy to explain women; they're just so hard to understand at times. I'm not only referring to how they'd painstakingly spend hours using a pair of tweezers to carefully extract their eyebrows; and then when their eyebrows are all gone, they'd draw them back again with a pencil.

They generally find it hard to trust their husbands 100 percent, no matter how long they've been married. How many of you men would put your wives' names as the beneficiaries when you buy a life insurance? I think most of us men would almost automatically put our wives' names as the beneficiaries. But when women buy a life insurance, they almost always put the children's names first, or their parents' names as the beneficiaries. The husbands' names would be last on their list.

When a woman marries, she'd expect her husband to be totally devoted to her. She wants to be given the priority even over the husband's mother. But years down the road, when she has her own son, and that son marries, she'd expect her son to be totally devoted to her, and not to the daughter-in-law. By then she would have forgotten that she was once married to someone's son too, and demanded that same full devotion.

Don't get me wrong, I am not complaining. I have long accepted the above as some of those unexplained mysteries of this world. I have survived it over the last 15 years and I've come to a point where all those don't matter no more. She's always been the crazy woman I got to know years ago. It's the madness and crazy things that we both share that matter the most.

To those men out there who're not married to one of these creatures yet, be prepared for all those peculiarities. They are like computers, you see. You'll take a very long time to choose the perfect model with all the perfect specifications that suit your purpose. But the moment you commit to one, you will find so many other models in the market that seem to be able to perform better!

Thankfully, I am an old-fashioned and sentimental man. My first computer is still the best model for me.