Friday, February 29, 2008

Kid With Tough Questions

Shortly after I fetched JJ home from her grandma's last night, she suddenly asked me an interesting question.

"Dad," she said, "why do boys have different poo-poops from mine?"

"How do you mean, "different", J?" I replied, fairly alarmed.

"Well, dad, it hangs out like a small elephant's nose."

I whisked JJ into the living room, installed her in the sofa, and put on Tom & Jerry. Then I rushed into the bathroom where I laughed out loud uncontrollably for a long time. One of these days, I know I am going to faint because of JJ's questions.

Recently, subsequent to some debates and discussions on a treasure hunt question in a thread, a grandmaster hunter suddenly suggested that I clerk next year's Ox Hunt for the die-hard hunters in KL. I responded that "I am like a 2-year-old kid" in the treasure hunting sport; and the masters and grandmasters may doubt my qualification for the job. However, the said grandmaster was kind enough to say that many are eager to sample my questions, having seen some of them posted in this blog.

Then to my surprise, I received several emails from other supporters for the idea. Some were even creative in showing their supports—they did it by being poetic. I am greatly amused by these two, who I thought were getting too excited a little too early:

"Vote for this maize with a strong base,
Next year though, is far too long a wait;
An earlier day, to entertain and amaze,
Certainly hope he'll take up the bait!"

"Eager faces waiting in hope
Would this maize grab the bait?
If not there’s always dope
In the dark we lie in wait
Drug him then drag him to a boat
And zoom him to our gates!"

While I am pleased to know that I have some fans in the west, I must warn you people that this "kid" pose very strange questions. Be careful what you wish for—I have a bad feeling that you might just regret it if it really happens!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Treasure Hunt Critic

A friend of mine who has been reading my comments in this blog surprised me with her suggestion this morning. She said that my comments are very entertaining and provoke one to think in "a whole new dimension" on treasure hunts like never before. She suggested that I should pack my bags and relocate to KL where I should start a new career as a Treasure Hunt Critic! Very funny!

She said she is convinced that my comments and criticisms can force many Clerks-of-Course to be extra careful with their works. I find that a little strange, because she was the second person who said that to me.

When I gave my comments on treasure hunts in the past, I did not realise that they were entertaining. In fact, some people have said that my articles are boring because I have the peculiar habit of throwing in too much unnecessary details and technicalities. It is an irony, because when I set treasure hunt questions, I am usually very economical with the number of words in them, thus resulting in short clues.

However, after thinking about it for a while, I must say that it is a bit strange that no one has ever taken up the role of the Treasure Hunt Critic in KL. I am only about 2 years old in the treasure hunt sports, so obviously I am not qualified for the post. But there are many master hunters in KL—some no longer active—who are qualified for the job. Perhaps a couple of them should seriously consider starting a blog for such purpose. I am sure there will be many issues surrounding treasure hunts as a whole that deserve comments. If there is such a blog, I will most certainly be the number one fan!

Then again, most people don't want to be the ones making troubles. They would rather keep their mouth shut and suffer in silence. I guess some things will never change, huh?

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

KK City Hunt 2008—Musical Composition

Almost a year ago, I decided to sign up for a hunt in West Malaysia—the infamous STFOGA Hunt. Unfortunately, a few days before the event, the hunt was postponed. Luckily, grandmasters Vincent Woo and VK Chong, upon a special request by the members of Riddle Raiders Bloggers, were kind enough to set a short unofficial hunt that Saturday, so my journey was not a total waste. It turned out to be a killer hunt! There were only 20 questions, but it felt like 40.

A couple of weeks later, grandmaster Vincent challenged me to set some questions, of which the answers should be restricted only to those answers of the unofficial bloggers' hunt. Therefore, one was able to pick from a pool of only 20 possible answers. I took up the challenge and set 3 questions, and they eventually became the subjects of heated debates in the Riddle Raiders blog.

One of those questions was like this:

Q1) Spearlike weapon connected to a drawing item.

One of the complaints to this question was that "the possibilities were practically limitless." But I stood firm on my grounds.

It is ideal to set a question that is exclusively fitting for a particular answer, to the exclusion of any other possible answers. However, in my opinion, in some cases, the exclusiveness of the fit does not lie in the question, but instead in the answer. Let me explain.

The question above may be referring to anything. There must be a lot of items that can fit "spearlike weapon"; and many more items that can fit "drawing item". In that case, the possible combinations can be daunting! However, in this particular case, there were only 20 possible answers. In this special case, it was possible to work one's way backwards from the answers to trace back to the question. In that sense it's still an exclusive fit, but the approach is from answer to question, instead of the other way round.

Therefore, the solver would have had to scan through the possible answers, spot FIRST KNIGHT amongst them, and then work his way to LANCE (spearlike weapon) + LOT (drawing item). Of course he must know the movie of the same title, FIRST KNIGHT, in order to solve the question. In that movie, King Arthur referred to Lancelot as the First Knight, you see. Without looking at the possible answers, it would have been a very random chance to figure out the answer.

More recently, I hunted in the AMC Hunt, which was co-clerked by Liew Kok Seng and Dato' Ramesh. In an email to Kok Seng prior to the CNY Rat Hunt 2008, I decided to tease him with this question:


Though I can't remember if those were the exact words I used. Again, the possible answers were to be found within the 40 answers of the AMC Hunt. Notice that the question may be referring to anything at all. Yet it is still possible to find an exclusively fitting answer by means of working one's way backwards from the list of possible answers. If one were to work his way from the question, the search would have been limitless!

However, if one were to scan the possible answers—40 of them—then there might be a chance that he will realise that we are looking for FULL HOUSE. To those who play poker, it will sooner or later come to them that the combination of 2 Aces and 3 Kings makes a FULL HOUSE.

In the KK City Hunt 2008, we had a similar question:

Q) For example, ne or tu?

Again with limitless possibilities, really. There is just no way to arrive at the answer by means of working from the question. The only way to get the answer is to work one's way from the possible signboards within that sector.

A) Semi Irama

Irama is the Malay translation of TUNE in English. Therefore Semi (meaning half) of TUNE could be "ne" or "tu". An exclusively fitting answer which I was unable to find under time pressure in the rain. I am not aware of other possible answers within that sector, and no one has approach me so far to suggest another possible answer there.

After criticising the Clerk-of-Course for some other questions in this hunt, it is only fair that I compliment him for this well-crafted question.

Monday, February 25, 2008

KK City Hunt 2008—Legendary Question

Some people are lucky to have accomplished great things in life. Perhaps they have found a cure for diabetes or even AIDS. Others might have invented a space craft that could travel at light speed. And some others still might have invented the light saber and are able to use the force...

Some people are remembered for what they have achieved during their life time. And some of them are known as legends. I must confess that I don't know very many legends—let alone legends in the sports of football. Therefore, I shall not try too hard to impress my readers with my very limited knowledge of the sport.

But, really, is Roger Milla a football legend? Well, like I said, I am not a great fan of this sport; and I am therefore the worst kind of authority on this kind of question. However, it so happened that some of the hunters—master hunters—claim that they are football kaki. And according to them, Milla is not a legend. I suppose he did great things during his football career. But does that automatically make him a legend?

Q) Legend has it that he generally held the senior most title, they say.

Those of you who have been visiting my blog for a while would know that I am very, very familiar with this particular question sector. The estate is known as Lintas Square. In fact, this estate was also the source of some of my questions in a virtual hunt I posted last December. I have also brought the hunters to this estate in ALL my hunts so far without fail. Therefore, it will come as no surprise to you all that the moment I read the above question, I immediately thought of the word "egen", which was one of the answers in my December Virtual Hunt. The reason I thought of this word was of course due to the first three words in the question, i.e. "Legend has it...".

To the fairly experienced hunters, it won't be very difficult to see the word "egen" in "Legend has it...". I therefore invested a moment or two on "egen" to investigate its suitability as the answer for the above question. I did this even before we reached the estate! However, it didn't take me very long to dismiss "egen" as it was also fairly obvious to me that the setter was using "egen" as the red herring, i.e. a decoy for the intended answer. In fact, in my opinion, the setter was trying too hard to create a red herring in this case—so much so that he has left the door open for possible challenge from the hunters!

And true enough, there was an overwhelming objection to Roger Milla as a legend. I, alas, am hopeless when it comes to football. So I wouldn't dare to raise my objection to the title. My knowledge goes as far as Pele, Maradona and yes, Beckham—the latter due to his spicy wife instead of football.

OK, very quickly now—let's glance through the rest of the question:

The word "he" suggests that we are looking, possibly, for a proper name. Or perhaps something connected to the masculine gender, for example the word "gent".

"generally" is the dubious word which I have failed to fathom, and would therefore invite suggestions from the many grandmasters out there. I have not come to a satisfactory explanation for its existence in this question, but it is possible that there is a valid justification.

"held the senior most title" may be taken literally to mean having, well, the senior most title! For example, perhaps it has something to do with the word "oldest" and the likes.

"they say" is the sounds like indicator. It means that the answer we are looking for sounds like another word which is spelt differently.

And the answer is found on a signboard containing the word "MILA" for obvious reasons.

Sad to say that my team arrived at something with the word GOLDEN in it. "Legend has it" yields GEN; and then "held" the "senior most title" to derive GOLDEN. An answer which is lame and failed to convince even myself! But because of the lack of better alternatives, well, you know the rest...

KK City Hunt 2008—Clash Between The Giants

I will discuss some interesting questions of this hunt separately, which are, in my opinion, reasonably well-crafted, but with doubtful answers—at least they were doubtful to me. I propose to discuss them separately in separate threads, just in case we might end up having a long discussion in the end.

Let us start with the clash between the giants:

Q) Large twisted Malay pole just off the road.

For the benefit of those who have never tried any cryptic clue before, let me tell you that this question is somewhat a cryptic clue. A common characteristic of a cryptic clue is that we can usually find a word that defines the answer which we are looking for. This word is normally located at either ends, i.e. either the start or the end of the clue. That word would therefore become the focus of the clue, because whatever it is that we need to figure out in the rest of the clue, we must end up agreeing with that word.

Another characteristic of a good cryptic clue is that the setter is normally very economical with their words in the sentence. Therefore, usually only words that are useful will be found in the clue. Unnecessary words will be excluded. In some cases, connecting words like "and", "or", "with" will be included for the purpose of smooth surface reading, but the setter is not obligated to include them.

In this particular clue, we have the word "large" at the beginning of the sentence. That then becomes our focus for this clue. We must now figure out the rest of the sentence, and then whatever we come up with should agree with that word "large".

Let us now decipher the rest of the sentence step-by-step.

"twisted" is an anagram indicator. It means that the riddle involves the rearrangement of the letters found in a word (s) in order to form another word. In this case, we know that the word we are trying to form should have similar meaning with "large". Fine, we progress.

"Malay" is a translation indicator. It means that the riddle involves a translation from English into Malay.

"pole" is the word that needs to be translated into Malay; and the letters found in that word are then rearranged to become a new word. So let us work it out.

"pole" is "tiang" in Malay. The letters in the word "tiang" are rearranged to form "giant", which agrees with "large". Fine, that should then be the answer we are looking for. Start looking for the signboard containing "giant" within that sector.

Oh! check it out guys, that's the GIANT SUPERMARKET. And therefore we solved the riddle and we can move on to the next question.

But wait! What's the story with "just off the road", which are the remaining words found in the clue? The setter could have ended the clue with the word "pole", but he didn't. I have said that a good cryptic clue contains only necessary words in it. So one must ask the question why did the setter violate the "general requirement" of a cryptic clue.

Based on the above argument, we can only arrive at 2 possible conclusions: firstly, that the clue setter was a lousy one; and secondly, that "just off the road" must be there for a purpose. What purpose could that be?

Let's start with the obvious possibility—that "just off the road" is to be taken literally. But in that case, it is silly because a pole need not necessarily be "just off the road". We can find a "tiang" anywhere at all—not only "just off the road"—unless of course if we are looking for another word for an item which must be found "just off the road".

The other possibility is that "just off the road" is to be taken as a riddle. And in such a case, one possibility leaps to the eye almost immediately. Is it possible that the word "giant" should be located just off the word "road". If that is the explanation, then we should be keeping an eye open for a signboard bearing GIANT ROAD or JALAN GIANT, or something in that nature.

Another possibility is that the words "just off the road" are found within the same signboard as the word GIANT. So maybe we ought to be looking for, say, GIANT OFF THE ROAD. However, if we are to move a little further, we might be looking for, say, LOST GIANT, where the "just off the road" is interpreted as "lost" one's way.

So you see now how complicated things can become because of those additional words—"just off the road". Now let's look for the answer in the sector.

Oh! There's that huge logo of GIANT SUPERMARKET! But damn! we are not very happy because of the "just off the road".

Oh! Look! There's another sign, a relatively tiny sign GIANT OFF ROAD! Yes, that is more appealing. It has nothing to do with the supermarket. But then there is nothing in the question that requires the answer to be connected to a supermarket. Let's look some more...

Nope, nothing else with GIANT in it. So we must choose between GIANT SUPERMARKET and GIANT OFF ROAD. Hmmm... which is a better candidate? Apply some pyschology.

Tick-tock, tick-tock, tick-tock... you have to decide fast... precious time is ticking away folks...

The answer is?


And that's why I am an unhappy man now...

So can someone put me out of my misery, please? Please explain to me where I got it wrong. By the way, both the signboards GIANT SUPERMARKET and GIANT OFF ROAD are located "just off the road".

Suggestions please!

KK City Hunt 2008—The Hunt That Is Not A Hunt

Just about a week ago, I read about the Yasmin Contraceptive Hunt in KL, which was posted in Michael Pang's blog. In it, Mike raised the "need to push for hunt organisers to disclose the hunt format before the event so that we can make informed choice." This was due to the fact that in that hunt, the score from the usual hunt questions was only 44 points against the maximum score of 116 points.

In yesterday's KK City Hunt, we had a similar situation—total score from questions and treasures were 71 points; and the maximum score was 151 points. The rest of the points were from games and challenges which included serching for specific items; posing for a photo session; drinking cokes and then tossing the cans into a bin located some metres away (within 90 seconds); and putting items of numerous shapes into a container blindfolded. I can say that the games this year were not as stupid as in last year's hunt. However, there were still too many of them.

The flag-off was at the Nexus Karambunai Resort, off the Sepangar Bay, at around 7:30am. Hunters were then dispersed to several locations searching for specific items and relevant stamps by the Monsopiad Cultural Village; and the Tourism Station in Terminal 2, KKIA. That was Leg 1 of the hunt.

After Leg 1, hunters proceeded on to Leg 2, starting with a challenge, which was the coke-drinking session as mentioned above. After that was the walk hunt at Gaya Street (5 questions). Then later on, hunters had to drive to Jesselton Point for 3 more walk-hunt questions. After completing those 8 questions, hunters proceeded on to Wawasan Plaza for the submission and another challenge, which was to spot 10 words from a grid containing letters.

Then came Leg 3 of the hunt. Again the hunters had to search for some items and then drive to a monument in Sembulan to pose for a photo session. The score for Leg 3 was 30 points. It was while my team members were discussing about our "creative" pose that Kok Seng's team arrived at the parking lot. And then my jaw dropped to the ground when I saw Dato' Ramesh appearing in his underwear—I mean literally underwear, like no other clothes on him! The reason he did this was in order to look like one of the ethnic people of Sabah. He had a blowpipe in his hand. But when it was his turn to pose, he used that blowpipe as a spear instead. It was a case of our native head hunter who was unable to tell the difference between a blowpipe and a spear. I told him that it was too bad I'm married. Otherwise I would have been tempted with his sexy body.

Finally, we came to Leg 4, which was the actual motorised treasure hunt as we know it. Only 20 questions to solve. The finish station was all the way back at Nexus Karambunai. After the final submission of answers and treasures, there was yet another challenge.

Well, 7 hours total "hunting" time and covering over 110 km in driving distance. Overall, it was a good hunt, but for the number of challenges and games. Of course if we have more hunts in KK, then I would not join KK City Hunt. But, you know, for the lack of hunts, we KK hunters can't afford to be choosy.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

KK City Tourism Treasure Hunt 2008—Flowery Clues

Oh! What a hunt. The Megapawns started badly; recovered some lost grounds; blundered again in the games; regained momentum; lost precious time; and in the end was too far deficit on time to recover for the final home stretch. The net result, a miserable 22nd place of a total of 120 teams. Decent, but way below my own expectation.

We missed some easy questions—novice questions in my opinion—on account of rushing under time pressure. But I am getting ahead of myself. I shall get to them later, but first here are those proud winners:

Champion: Liew Kok Seng, Chong Foo Seong, Dato' Ramesh, Yap Hock Guan
Second: Muhammad Razif Ahmad, Darmataksia Abai, Andre Teh, Chin Poh Choo
Third: Frederick Samson, Teo Chen Lung, Yew Min Yun, Tan Cher Kian
Fourth: Morris Bisoni, Nuraiza Zaharin, Ismail Ibrahim, Mohd Rozainol
Fifth: Chai Koh Khai, Chong Voon Kiat, Margaret Sha, Vincent Woo
Sixth: Alvin Wong, Bernard Liew, Christine Netto, Audrey Chin
Seventh: Benedick Bisoni, Mark A Martin, Mizal Ashfeek Khan
Eight: Alexcius Daut, Jennifer Sham, Coreen Rozina Aman Sham, Monsu Ewor
Ninth: Gabriel Chong, Allister Kong, Onalia Kong, Benjamin Liew
Tenth: Johan Salul, Dr Ben Lau, Sam Rahman, Kheirul Nazib

Up to 50 top teams were eligible for prizes. I have the scores here with me. But Time Out Solutions obviously made some mistakes on some of the positions. So I would refrain from publishing them here, as I'd expect them to publish them in their official website soon.

I am dead exhausted. But as usual, I have some comments about this hunt. I desperately need sleep right now, but would like to post this interesting question below:

Q) What you could call the rafflesia in the light of other species.

After the hunt, I was able to discuss briefly with Soo Khian (TOS) about this question. But to use a chess term, we ended up in a stale-mate situation.

In order to answer this question, of course one has to know that the Rafflesia is the name of a flower. It is famous for its size as the biggest flower in the world—at least in terms of its weight. Now within that question sector, there is a shopping mall known as The City Mall; and at the road side, there was a huge sign "giant", standing on its own. It is of course that famous logo (with its unique font) of the Giant Supermarket.

Now looking at the question, there is no doubt that the Rafflesia is indeed a GIANT when considered in the light of other species. It is after all the biggest flower in the world. However, we should remember that the flower need not be the biggest to qualify as a GIANT when compared to other flowers. To me, that word GIANT (without the "supermarket") fits the requirement of the question perfectly; and I would challenge anyone to debate with me why the Rafflesia is not a GIANT when taken "in the light of other species" (of flowers).

Now, within that same sector, there is a signboard "Taman Bunga Raja". To be quite frank, I am fully aware of the existence of this sign. My home is in Taman Iramanis, which is just a stone's throw away from Taman Bunga Raja. I pass this board all the time. But I rejected this board anyway. And I told Soo Khian, if I had to do it all over again, I would still reject it. Let's see which one is a better fit to the question.

I suppose because of its size, some people might consider the Rafflesia as the king of all flowers. Bear in mind that because it is a GIANT when compared to the other flowers, so perhaps the giant is the king. OK, that is understandable. But that begs 2 important questions: firstly, would everyone consider the Rafflesia as the king because of its size?; and secondly, even if indeed we can all agree to treat the Rafflesia as the king (because of its size), how should we translate the title into Malay?

To answer the first question, I think we can safely say that not everyone considers the Rafflesia as the king. I have not researched thoroughly, but I suppose someone, somewhere must have referred to it as the king in the past. And I am not surprised if that is the case. So for the moment, we will assume that we can indeed treat it as the king (of flowers).

But now we are faced with the fresh dilemma of how to translate the title into Malay. I have said before that I was first educated in Bahasa Malaysia (Malay), and I say with pride that the Malay language is as good as my first language! So let us now do a bit of translation for the title of KING OF FLOWERS.

If for example, we have a hotel by the name of PERKASA HOTEL, the Malay translation is HOTEL PERKASA. Therefore, if we need to translate KING OF FLOWERS into Malay, we will get RAJA BUNGA, and not BUNGA RAJA. Similarly, it should be RAJA SEHARI, and not SEHARI RAJA. Based on this argument, TAMAN BUNGA RAJA fails on grammatical grounds.

But there is yet another problem. BUNGA RAJA itself is the name of a specific flower in Malay. Of course it's full name is BUNGA ULAM RAJA, but many people simply refer to it as BUNGA RAJA. Now we all know that the fellow who "looks like him and sounds like him", is still not conclusively Lingam—at least not conclusively proven yet. The Rafflesia does not look anything like the Bunga Raja at all; and they are most certainly not the same flowers.

In the end, in my humble opinion, there are more grounds to support Rafflesia as the GIANT of all flowers, rather than the BUNGA RAJA. At the very least, I feel strongly that GIANT (the logo without the word "supermarket" attached to it) should equally qualify as the answer. Furthermore, if it were my hunt, I would have accepted it even if that word "supermarket" was there! Otherwise, I would challenge the "Taman" in TAMAN BUNGA RAJA.

I would love to continue, but I am barely awake right now. So this will simply have to wait until tomorrow...

Had about 5 hours sleep. This morning I awake with so much umph to continue with my full report on this hunt. But, you know, work an all, it will have to wait a little longer till this evening. There is so much more to tell, I will do it in separate posts under different headings.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

KK City Tourism Treasure Hunt 2008—Briefing

The excitement is mounting, folks! Some surprises during the briefing this afternoon. For a short moment, it felt like a dream—an ugly one, that is. We have managed to attract some familiar faces from KL. And they're mostly those who have been frequenting the podium of almost all the hunts in West Malaysia.

Here are some of the pictures taken this afternoon:

The Clerk-of-Course, Dominic

Johan Amilin, the guy who made headlines in the local hunting scene. He has recently beaten some strong teams. Perhaps he will be able to surprise us all again tomorrow?

None other than the Machines of the East, Alvin Wong and Bernard Liew, the team members of Main Tembak.

Last year's champion, KK Chai and Margaret. This year they are hunting full team. Vincent and VK Chong will be arriving later tonight.

Grandmaster Chong Foo Seong, who is of course famous for many reasons. He has been the Clerk-of-Course for the Kiwanis hunts in West Malaysia for many years. And yes, this year he will again clerk the Kiwanis in May—I was given to understand—just one more last time. Then again, someone told me that he has said that several times in the past. Beside him is Dato Ramesh. Kok Seng was also around, but was not in his seat when this picture was taken.

No, folks, not even a broken arm will stop the Gan family to fight for the RM20,000 worth of prize for the champion. Since they will be my rival in this hunt, I would encourage them to take their sweet time with breakfast!

That's CK Tan (in striped shirt) and Leslie, another one of those freak hunters here in KK. Well, actually CK came all the way from Sandakan especially for this hunt.

Another regular team here in KK. Richard, Mary and Ellen.

Just to give an idea why the surge of participants up to 120 teams this year, including from West Malaysia:

Champion—Cash RM5,000 + prizes = RM20,614.00
Runner-Up—Cash RM3,000 + prizes = RM17,126.00
2nd Runner-Up—Cash RM2,000 + prizes = RM7,190.00
Fourth—Cash & prizes = RM4,772.00
Fifth—Cash & prizes = RM2,030.00
Sixth—Cash & prizes = RM1,760.00
Seventh—Case & prizes = RM920.00
Up to 50th place eligible for prizes.

Coconut bowling or not, I'll be damned if I can't get at least the 50th place!

Full report on the hunt soon. Stay tuned.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Bad Start

Well, Chap Goh Mei has just passed. It's been quite a bad start for me as far as the Year of the Rat is concerned. I lost RM326 after 3 sessions of mahjong over 3 consecutive nights. I hardly ever lose—not after averaging 3 sessions.

I meant to win back my money on the following weekends. Unfortunately, my step-mother had a stroke and was hospitalised for about a week. Her right limbs suddenly went dead, and she spent the days on the hospital bed. The doctors tried feeding her through the mouth, but she started coughing. So in the end, the doctors decided to feed her through a tube. Anyway, there goes one of my most loyal kaki, so I was unable to win back my money—at least not so soon.

However, after a few days in the hospital, my step-mother was able to move the fingers on her hand. And then soon after that, she was able to grip with those fingers. Two days ago, she was discharged from the hospital; and the following morning she was able to lift her forearm. It seems quite promising that she'll be able to regain the use of her right arm soon. Sadly, she still can't move her leg.

Well, might as well, because I will be busy treasure-hunting this Sunday, so there won't be mahjong. It will be a major challenge for us Sabahan hunters, as I was told that about 4 to 5 elite teams will be coming from KL. I suppose that means we will be vying for the 6th place onwards? Furthermore, it's been raining practically everyday over the last couple of weeks, so we can foresee a wet, wet, wet hunt this Sunday. There will be a lot to report after the hunt.

Coming back to my step-mother, perhaps she will need that amount of time to regain the use of her arm. Not that I am trying to torture the old lady, but hey, the doctor ordered her to exercise her arm as much as possible; so what better way to do it than playing mahjong? That's a few hours of solid pyshio!

And next Sunday will be the KK City run—a modest distance of 4 km around the city. My partner will be running that day, so I thought it's only right that I run too. Besides, some of the young guys in the office will be running. We must keep the tradition of beating those young guys in the office, you see. But as I was saying, it's been a bad start for me this year. So I won't be surprised if I come in last during the run. I sure as hell won't let that happen without a fight!

More bad news for me this year. My dog, boomer, has fallen sick. I've had him for a little over 10 years now. I invested a lot of time to train him myself while I was in Brunei. Then when I moved back to KK about 5 years ago, I brought him all the way back with me in my Pajero through Limbang, Lawas, Sipitang, Beaufort and all the way to KK. According to the vet, he's reached more or less his full lifespan. He's growing weak each day, and the vet said we might have to put him down by next week. Poor Boomer, he's been a good buddy all these years. A sad ending for such a loyal dog.

Well, I hope my fortune will change soon. Who knows, getting a good position in the KK City Tourism Treasure Hunt would be nice. Stay tuned for the report soon!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Safety Net

"Next term I wont go (to contest ). This maybe my last term."

—MIC President Datuk Seri S.Samy Vellu [Bernama]

When you hear it all too frequently, it can become amusing, can't it? It is even predictable what these people are going to say each time they're being interviewed.

When politicians talk, their sentences are littered with "safety nets" all over the place. Consider the word "maybe" in the above sentence. Just what exactly does that word mean? It means that there is still room for the good Minister to change his mind later, perhaps because of popular request from his supporters.

He said he will give up his post at an "appropriate time". Trouble is, what is the definition of "appropriate time"? In most cases, it means don't hold your breath. However, it is refreshing to know that the Minister realises that he is not going to live for 100 years; and "everybody's got a time to go."

Look, you don't get very many responsible people like Samy these days. He has no choice but to cling on to his post—it's not even his choice, really! I mean, how could he leave his post?... "If I just leave the party now, the party will go into disarray." See what I mean?

That's why even an army will not stop Samy from running for office again.

Go for it, Samy, you are the man!

Wanting To Be Heard

Freedom of speech is not something that is readily available in Malaysia.

It's not like we can simply organize a get-together and march in the streets, carrying placards to express our dissatisfactions. That would be illegal. Such rallies require a special permit from the police. This kind of permit is hardly ever granted—unless, of course, if we are people from the ruling Barisan Nasional.

The elected representatives are also no good. They are usually "yes-men" to those people holding high office in the Government; they can't afford to offend their superiors, you see. Well, not unless if they intend to retire from politics for good.

Then, of course, all the major papers, TV and radio networks are controlled by the Government, so those are the last avenues for people seeking to be heard.

So what's left?

Well, we can now communicate with one another by means of text messages through cellphones. But I expect that the police will soon enough find a way to control that too. We still have emails though. And these days, more popularly, we have blogsites such as this one where one is able to express his or her thoughts; and inevitably, some of those comments are negative ones. Regretfully, however, it is not Malaysian culture to criticise others through blogs. So I guess the best thing to do is to keep our mouth shut and hope that all the VIPs know what they're doing. I am sure we are in good hands.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Surviving Bladder Infection?

About a week ago, I posted an article entitled Doctor's Challenge. In it I told the story of my sister-in-law who was sick. At the end of that article, I invited suggestions, mainly from doctors. Unfortunately, no one responded. Perhaps it's prudent to simply wait for the solution. Well, it's time that I tell the remaining part of the story. I must finish the story, because one of these days, one of you ladies out there might just end up with the same symptoms, and might lose your life because of late diagnosis.

In the end, my sister-in-law went to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital to seek help in the early evening. She could barely withstand the pain. My brother had to help her out of bed and all the way down the 4 storey apartment to the car. Upon reaching the hospital, the doctors carried out a series of tests, gave her some painkillers and told her to go home.

But shortly after midnight, the pain was getting worse. So my brother brought her back to the same hospital and insisted the doctors do a scan. And finally they found the problem. Ectopic pregnancy which had by then ruptured the left fallopian tube. A few more hours' delay could have cost her her life. All the symptoms indicated ectopic pregnancy, yet it was not detected until almost too late. I find it amazing.

The doctors rushed with the operation in the wee hours of the morning, and then the problem was gone. She's recovering well.

So ladies, if you have the symptoms which I have described earlier, suggest to the doctor that you might have ectopic pregnancy. Doctors are people too. You might find it surprising, but some of them work too slow, if you know what I mean.

Supporting a Big Pride

When I left form 6 in the mid-eighties, I worked as a maths and science teacher temporarily while hoping to get a scholarship to pursue my studies. That "temporarily" eventually dragged on to become 3 years. In the end, it became clear that I wasn't gonna get any scholarship. So I resigned from teaching and ventured out to Brunei. I grabbed whatever job I could get. Unfortunately, all I could get was to become as a supervisor of a group of Thai labourers collecting rubbish from the famous Kampur Air in Bandar Seri Begawan.

Rubbish collection from Kampung Air was then a pilot project in Bandar Seri Begawan, and let me not get into the amount of rubbish from underneath the houses and catwalks; let alone the kinds of rubbish you could find there. It seemed impossible to finish collecting those rubbish—not when the residents were so used to throwing their rubbish out of their windows. We worked up to 14 hours a day. It was such a challenging job, I actually caught myself crying while driving home from work one day.

Anyway, although I was only supposed to supervise my men, I spent a lot of the days handling the rubbish myself. The Thais were surprised the first time they saw how I got my hands dirty like that. As time passed, they grew to respect me instead.

Oh those were the good old days; I must make it a point to tell the story in full one of these days...

Some of us have such big pride—so big that we can't even support that pride. Sometimes, we need to come down from our high horses and learn to be humble. We need to learn how to obey orders first before learning how to give orders.

There is this clerk in my company. Her pride is amazing, really. With her kind of pride, she is fit to become the boss instead of a clerk. And her pride is so big that it's too big for her to swallow!

She had a strange habit of coming back late after lunch—at times about half an hour late. But upon being reminded by the secretary that she should observe office hours, she snapped back and said that she's not a robot. She should be allowed some flexibility, you see. I don't know about other bosses, but as far as I am concerned, half an hour is bit too flexible. So we issued her a memo, warning her to observe office hours and other regulations. That shut her up for a while.

Then recently, our "tea lady" had a freak accident over the weekends at home. She broke her hand and was to be out of action for at least 6 weeks. That was a bit inconvenient, because there're about 50 employees using that tea room. Someone had to wash the cups and boil water etc. I am not in favour of asking everyone to wash their own cups as that is not economically efficient. So while we were looking for a part-time replacement worker, we drew out a duty roster amongst the clerks in the office. This was only for about a week or two. After that we should be able to get a replacement (temporary) worker.

I didn't see washing cups as a demeaning task. And boiling water was also no big deal. Honestly, I don't mind to do it myeslf! But then one day, I saw a hand-written notice pasted on the tea-room door. It said:

"Siapa yang guna gelas cuci sendiri. Kami bukan kuli. Gaji dibayar bukan untuk cuci gelas."

Translated into English, it means something like "Whoever uses the cups should wash them themselves. We are not labourers. We are not paid salaries for washing cups."

This notice was written in red ink. A quick investigation revealed that it was the same clerk who wrote that notice. Like I said, some people have very big/high pride, and so had this clerk. But if it bothered her so much, perhaps it was more diplomatic to approach and discuss the matter with me personally. Instead, she went straight to paste that notice on the door.

As a boss, I don't expect my employees to kiss the grounds I walk on (And I say without shame that I am a good boss; I would dare anyone to ask any of my staff for their opinions about me). All eyes were on me. The others in the office were all watching—perhaps in amusement—how I would handle this situation. As a boss, how would you deal with this particular clerk?

At first I thought the best thing to do was to issue a warning to the said clerk. That would probably send out a message to the rest of my employees. But would that be a strong-enough message?

I still insist that I am a good boss, but in the end, I've decided to do the worst thing a boss can do—I discussed the matter with my partner, got his support and then we fired the clerk. I hate to do something like that. But, you know, she should learn to support her big pride. Although she has no job, at least she still has her big pride intact.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Testing The Merchandise

Have you ever been introduced to a new product which appeared very useful and practical, but you were unsure of its effectiveness; or whether it's safe to use it? Perhaps it's some sort of herbal food supplement or mechanical equipment that is new to you.

You would love to try out that product, but are afraid of its negative side-effects. Yet, if it works, you know it can do much good for you. So what would you do then?

There was once I saw an English movie of the olden days, where the king had a scapegoat slave whose main purpose was to taste the king's foods and drinks to make sure that they're not poisonous. If that slave lives, then the king can go ahead and eat the food. A brilliant little idea, huh?

We have also seen how the USA had the opportunity to test their bombs and other weapons in Iraq during the gulf war. And they did it in the name of peace and seeking to free the Iraqi people!

Maybe that's how this psycho mother was inspired to test her toy on her 8-year-old daughter, just to make sure that the equipment works well.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Circus Coming To Town

And so the clowns have been unleashed. Parliament has been dissolved, as expected, in spite of the blatant lie by our beloved Prime Minister—that it won't happen on the 13th [The Star]. Over the next 2 weeks or so, we will get to see these clowns performing their respective acts. The circus is coming to town, and I am sure we will all be greatly entertained.

We are all so used to begging from those people sitting in high office all the time. So it's a lot of fun when once in every couple of years, these people come begging from us for a change. A few days ago, some of these clowns actually took the trouble to come to my office to wish us "Happy Chinese New Year". Each of us received a free desk calendar too, mind! To be quite honest, I am not really that happy this Chinese New Year, having lost RM326 at mahjong so far. I know it's not a very big amount, but if I were paying for my fuel, that would be the amount I need to fork out for the entire month. Anyway, that is a different story.

Dr Yee was just in time to announce the 30%-reduction in parking rates for Kota Kinabalu City as reported here. Not to mention the total abolishment of parking fee altogether for Menggatal (yes, my West Malaysian friends, this is really a name of a town here in Sabah) and Telipok. But of course this announcement has absolutely nothing to do with the election. No—it's just that the good doctor suddenly realised that it could lessen the financial burden of the KK City folks.

Before that, Brother Bung announced that he's surprised by the "rumour" that he had received, of which he has apparently been dropped from the election candidates' list. It's quite an irony that he should be surprised with that rumour. After all, he has been making the headlines for behaving like anything but an MP in Parliament.

The most beautiful statement from Brother Bung: If for some reason I’m not chosen, I will abide by that decision and will support whoever is selected.

Why did he say so; why say it at all? I think there is a phychological significance to his statement. I think either he knew that his name was on the candidates' list; or if not, he was 90% certain that his name was there. The announcement was therefore meant to demonstrate his loyalty to the BN leadership. BUT! I hope I am wrong— that his name is not in the candidates' list. Then we will get to see if he will eat his words up! I long to see him "abide by that decision".

Then of course prior to this, Pak Lah has been assessing the performance of his administration. He arrived at a favourable "report card" and expressed his satisfaction. Let's not kid ourselves, folks; I'm sure all of us had expected the beloved PM to arrive at such assessment anyway. See, this is the beauty about self-assessment—there is only one possible outcome!

In the weeks that follow, we will get to see much more from the clowns...

Oh how I love the circus.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Doctor's Challenge

I enjoy almost every kind of riddles and puzzles; and I have been posting treasure hunt questions and other riddles in this blog every now and then. I enjoy puzzles not only from the solver's point of view, but I also enjoy creating puzzles myself. However, some puzzles and challenges require specific knowledge and expertise.

I happen to know that some of the visitors to this blog are doctors—they are also freak hunters, of course. This particular challenge is mainly directed to them, although some other people might want to try to suggest a solution too.

Over the last 2 weeks, my sister-in-law—she's in her later thirties— has been having abdominal pain. The pain gradually became increasingly unbearable. Apart from the abdominal pain, she also had lower back pain and occasional vaginal bleeding (not menstrual bleeding). As the days passed, the pain on the left side of the pelvic region became more pronounced; and she also suffered pain while having a bowel movement.

Throughout that 2 weeks, she made several visits to a GP doctor who prescribed antibiotics and pain killers, having suspected a bladder infection. The antibiotics had to be changed twice because my sister-in-law was allergic to many types of antibiotics. In spite of that, her condition gradually deteriorated. By the end of the second week, she was unable to rise from the bed.

As a side issue, I have discussed in this blog about efficiency in solving treasure hunt questions. Some people can solve them faster than the rest, so there must be a more efficient way of approaching those questions.

Similarly, in my opinion, doctors are frequently faced with the problem of guessing a medical condition from a given symptom(s). They then run test(s) to confirm their suspicions; all the time racing against time to keep the patient alive while they are looking for the solution(s) to the problem. As in the case of treasure hunts, they have a timeframe to find to solution(s). When time runs out, the patient dies...

I am not a doctor, but in my opinion, the GP doctor whom my sister-in-law consulted did a sloppy job. I think he could have done better—much better than those antibiotics and pain killers. But of course that is easy for me to say—I am just watching from the sideline! But just out of curiosity, what do other doctors think?

1. How would you deal with this patient?

2. What are the possible problems with her?

3. What actions, if any, would you take to confirm your suspicion(s)?

4. From (2) above, and with the limited information given here, make your best guess—what is the problem with this patient?

By the way, the doctors (not the GP) have finally found out what's the problem with my sister-in-law. They have solved it and she's recovering very well right now. So don't worry, docs, I'm not going to get you into trouble because of your casual suggestions in this blog! I just want to find a justification that the matter could have been handled differently by other doctors.

I am leaving this "challenge" open for the moment. Doctors can use nicknames to protect their identities. I am more interested in the approach they would adopt; and of course their respective guesses of the problem. Then later I will tell the rest of the story.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Season's Greetings

Well, folks, tomorrow we are entering the Year of the Rat. Here's to a productive and prosperous year ahead.

Special message to the guys—wishing you all the best in dealing with the lucky panties!... or what's in them.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Fate Of The Night Watchman

One night, while on duty, George, a night watchman at a railway station, had an amazing dream. In his dream, he saw a train crossing a bridge at noon; and at that very moment there was an earthquake. Suddenly the entire bridge collapsed and the train fell into the ravine below, thus killing everyone on board.

First thing the next morning, George rushed to the administration office to report about his dream. The desk clerk brushed aside his report, but George was determined to stop the morning train no matter what it took. He went straight to the Station Director and insisted that the morning train be stopped. He somehow managed to convince the Station Director to reschedule the train's departure by several hours.

Then at around noon that day, there was indeed an earthquake; and indeed the bridge over the ravine collapsed just as George had said it would. Everyone was amazed. So many lives were spared that day.

Over the next couple of days most of the major papers took turns interviewing George, who had by then become a big hero. He became famous instantly.

Then the following week, George received a letter from his boss. Of course he had expected a big bonus or some sort of ex-gratia payment. Instead, imagine his surprise when he opened the letter and realised that he has been fired from his job...

Friday, February 1, 2008

Political Gentleman

"The former prime minister had claimed that he had a gentleman’s agreement when he handed over power to Abdullah in 2003, that the latter would stay on for one term only and subsequently pass over the mantle to Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak." [The Star]

"No such thing," was the simple response by the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, to the above claim by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

Well, in the end it boils down to the former PM's words against the current PM's words. Someone is lying; the question is who? It's anybody's guess; but does it matter, really?

The former PM was also kind enough to give some advice as reported here. And I must say that those are very sound advice too; in fact, the good doctor could have heeded most of them himself during his reign as the Prime Minister.

This is what I think happened between these two great men: I am convinced that there was that so-called "gentleman's agreement" between them. Of course I have not a shred of evidence to prove the claim. All I can say is that such an "agreement" seems to fit the doctor's character. It is very like him to want to control the nation even if he is no longer the Prime Minister. Some old habits die hard, you see.

But Dr M did justify why he wanted Abdullah to succeed him. He said Abdullah is older than Najib, so he can be the Prime Minister for a term before passing on the baton to Najib.

What does that tell us? Well, it is hard to understand that kind of reasoning, but perhaps one can only guess that he thought Najib wasn't ready, or matured enough for the post. But if that was the explanation, would Najib be matured enough now—politically speaking—after only a few years? Besides, of all those people in BN, why Abdullah? There were many other older guys who would have been pleased to assume the role of Prime Minister.

And to be quite honest, when Abdullah succeeded Dr M, I was very surprised, although not for long. It's in the nature of the doctor that he should be the "king" and no one else should come close to challenging his authority. Throughout his tenure as the Prime Minister, we have seen how Razaleigh and Anwar got kicked out and then expelled into political wilderness, although the former was eventually readmitted into Barisan Nasional many years later. You know the saying, tak boleh lawan taukey!

Maybe the good doctor thought he could control Datuk Seri Abdullah too. But alas, after being the Prime Minister for a term, did the doctor think that Datuk Seri Abdullah would relinquish his position just like that? Gentleman or no gentleman, this is the top post in the Government, for goodness sake! I have said here before that power and fame are addictive; once acquired, very, very few will be able to resist the inclination to cling on to them!

And so there is no such thing as one term only as Prime Minister. Datuk Seri Abdullah will remain in office for who knows how long—perhaps another 20 years to outdo Dr M's record. The only way that that won't happen is if Barisan Nasional loses the general election. And we all know that Barisan Nasional won't lose, don't we? How could it possibly lose? The major papers, radio, TV networks, financial resources are all controlled by Barisan. If they can still lose the election, they must be a bunch of idiots!

KK City Tourism Treasure Hunt 2008—Update

Last month, I posted an article entitled KK City Tourism Treasure Hunt 2008. Although the entry form was already out when I posted that article, the organiser had not decided who would clerk the hunt.

Well, it is now confirmed that Time Out Solutions has again been engaged by the organiser to clerk the KK City Tourism Treasure Hunt 2008. Bear in mind that there will be only ONE category this year—the Open category, i.e. open to all. The cash prizes for the top winners have been raised, and air passages are thrown in to make them even more attractive.

An announcement of this hunt could be found on Michael Pang's blog, wherefrom the official entry form could be downloaded. Similar announcement is also found in Time Out Solutions website. It's also possible to contact the Hunt Co-ordinator, Fauziahton Ag. Samad at

The KK City Hunt has been steadily improving in popularity as evidenced by the increase in the number of participants over the recent years. That's probably mainly due to the attractive prizes offered, but perhaps also indicates the good job done by Time Out Solutions. This year, there will be a limit of 100 teams. So those regular hunters in KK, don't wait till it's too late. Register as soon as possible, and we will all see each other during the hunt. Let the best team win!