Friday, May 30, 2008

Kiwanis Hunt 2008—Black Crescent

Last January, I organised my KK Challenge 3. In it I included a simple challenge. Teams were required to supply the fist names of characters obtained from the Disney cartoons. I gave coloured pictures which I downloaded from the internet. The above was one of those pictures. Some teams answered Ariel. The correct answer was Melody. The reason I printed coloured pictures was because I wanted to leave no room for disputes from the hunters. Ariel was Melody's mother, and she had red hair. Without knowing the colour of the hair, there might be a remote chance that someone in the audience will challenge my answer. That's why I decided to print the picture in colour, so that the hunters could actually tell that the colour of the hair was black.

Colours are rarely an issue in treasure hunt clues. But sometimes, for some specific items, the colours are significant; those items are "colour-coded". By changing the colour of a picture, it may have a different meaning.

Take the above logo for example; it is commonly associated with the medical field, particularly first aid. They are associated with red colour, and only the red colour; and that colour is known worldwide. Now imagine what would happen if you are given those shapes—either the cross or the crescent—in different colours; say green or purple or yellow. Would an average person in the street still associate those shapes as connected to the medical field? Maybe yes, maybe not.

I browsed through some sources and have found that the shape of the crescent can be used as a symbol for Islam. I am sure if I investigated further, I will find at least several other things which the crescent can represent. But somehow when the colour of the crescent is red, it is almost always associated with the first aid. Apparently it is a universally accepted logo for first aid.

Last Saturday, the hunters were up against the crescent twice. Firstly, as a black-coloured picture as part of a treasure clue; and secondly, during that killer third K Events where teams were required to count moons and stars within a timeframe of 60 seconds.

In the treasure clue, the crescent was printed in black; in the K Event, they were in white against a black background. The appearance of those crescents in the treasure clue and the K Event were totally unrelated, but for this thread, we are concerned with the crescent of the treasure clue.

I meant to publish the entire treasure clue here exactly as it appeared on the question paper, but to do that I would have to scan it and then paste it here, perhap as a jpeg format. Anyway, that is not really necessary, as it is sufficient to describe those pictures.

For that treasure clue, teams were given 4 pictures arranged horizontally. All of them were in black and white. To the extreme left was the picture of a man in a white lab-coat and he had a stethoscope around his neck. He was apparently holding a clipboard or some documents. In fact, it was quite obvious that he was either a doctor or a male nurse.

Next to that "doctor" picture was a picture of a cup with the words "STARBUCKS COFFEE" on it. The cup was tilted slightly and some coffee was apparently spilling out of it.

Next to the cup was the picture of a woman scratching her back with a wooden claw (or was that a metal claw?). However, her other hand was also scratching her upper arm.

The final picture on the extreme right was that of the famous crescent mentioned above. To repeat, that crescent was in black.

So those were the pictures given for that clue. How should we interpret them to arrive at the required item?

Well, the first picture was of a doctor. This may be surprising to the new hunter, but "doctor" can be an anagram indicator when written as a word. It is quite debatable whether it could be an anagram indicator when it appears in the form of a picture. My vote is that the picture version shouldn't be allowable as an anagram indicator. My reason is quite simple. When the "doctor" is written out as a word, it can be a verb or a noun. The doctor as a noun does not qualify as an anagram indicator. But as a verb, the word "doctor" can mean "to change something in order to deceive somebody". It is in this verb form that that word "doctor" qualifies as an anagram indicator. However, in the picture shown in this subject clue, it was not a verb "doctor". Instead, we had a noun doctor, i.e. the picture showed a person (noun), and not an action (verb).

How about the the spilling coffee? In my opinion, that "spilling" was an illustration of an "action", i.e. a verb. So I can accept that spilling action in the second picture as an anagram indicator. If indeed it was meant to be an anagram indicator, then perhaps we need to rearrange the letters found in the word "coffee" to form another word.

Next, we come to the picture of the woman scratching her back (and upper arm?). This was a tough one to crack. That "scratching" action could also qualify as an anagram indicator, meaning that we might have to rearrange the letters found in the word "itch" to form another word. However, there is another possibility. Since that woman was scratching her back, it might also mean that we need to reverse the word "itch".

Finally, the mysterious black crescent. What is it, exactly? Maybe it's a black "red crescent"? But black is black; and red is red. Or perhaps we should just interpret that black crescent as a huge letter "C"?

The official solution:

First picture = MO (medical officer)

Second picture = PIKO (anagram of KOPI)

Therefore 1st picture + 2nd picture = MOPIKO

As for the third and fourth pictures, there's nothing specific about them; just make some guesses as you wish. There's not much value in those pictures to form a concrete help for the solver to arrive at the answer. In a very loose way, the solver is given a hint that this whole riddle has something to do with "itch" (not necessarily back itch, in spite of the picture). Then the solver has to imagine that the colour of the crescent is red (of course it might have been purple or green too)—even though he's seeing black—so that he is able to interpret that crescent as something to do with first aid.

And because the solver has correctly imagined a red colour crescent to arrive at the hint of first aid, he combines that with the "itch" picture to arrive at "ointment for relief of itchiness"—voila!

And because of all those guesses with the third and fourth pictures, the solver is then able to confirm the MOPIKO as the exclusive fit.

Our guessing power was having a holiday during the hunt. We therefore failed to deliver this treasure.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Kiwanis Hunt 2008—Fruity Alloy

I was in the science stream when I was in secondary school. My favourite subjects were applied mathematics, physics and biology. I was never any good in chemistry. It's been over 20 years ago since I left school, and I am sad to say that I have forgotten most of those knowledge I learned in those subjects. But I can still remember some basic stuffs here and there.

Last Saturday during the Kiwanis Hunt, we stumbled upon a treasure clue which reminded me why I disliked chemistry so much when I was in school.

Treasure 2:

In short I have ♥ imprinted into an alloy to enable you to see
Something naturally found in this country that you must give me.
Without doubt in various forms this treasure you can deliver
For your points, make sure it comes in its sealed container.

Before I continue, let me just say that we did not solve this clue. We made a wild guess and submitted something which we knew was very unlikely the required item.

It turned out that the most important line in this clue is the first line. The other lines are there as additional requirements only. But essentially the clue is solved within the first sentence. Let us therefore single out that first sentence and analyse it's hidden meaning (s).

I have said in the other threads that GM Chong insists that all the words in the sentence must be accounted for. So we shall try to obey this requirement here.

In short I have ♥ imprinted into an alloy to enable you to see

"In short I have": We want the shorter way of writing "I have"; meaning "I'VE"

"♥": The mind-boggling symbol in this clue. It might mean the setter wants the solver to actually spell out "heart". It might also mean the word "love", as in its common usage in: "I ♥ you". It might probably mean numerous other things too, but we will have a look at the rest of the words in this sentence and then decide later how to deal with this symbol.

"imprinted in an alloy": Now it's getting more interesting. "imprinted in" might mean "combining those items with". And then "an alloy" might be referring to a specific alloy, e.g. bronze, or steel etc. To think a little bit further, the setter might also mean that we need to find the actual metals that are combined to make an alloy. This latter idea is obviously much harder to guess, but let's just keep it in mind for the moment. We are still exploring the possibilities at the moment.

"to enable you to see": Could be interpreted in its literal sense; that you can actually see the item after the combination process. However, "to enable" can also be an anagram indicator, and if adopted in this way, it means that we need to combine all those components above and then anagram into a single word, and you will see what the setter wants.

OK, now we have the basic ideas in this sentence. All that is left to do is to organise those small components into something meaningful. Well, I am not going to act as if I am such a brilliant chap; I have said earlier that my team failed to solve this clue.

The official solution is like this:

"In short I have" = I'VE

"♥": Means the setter wants the "heart" of that "I'VE", meaning the letter "V" only.

"imprinted into an alloy": "imprinted", as analysed above, means to combine that "V" into an "alloy"; the latter being gold and silver. However the solver is expected to go another step further—he needs to know the chemical symbols for gold and silver, i.e. gold = au; silver = ag.

"to enable": Indeed an anagram indicator.

Therefore, V + AU + AG -> anagram -> GUAVA

Those of you who did not join the Kiwanis Hunt should not be surprised that absolutely no team solved this clue. Not only is it loose, but the solver would almost need to know the item first in order to solve the means of getting there!

Having said that, however, I must express my admiration and respect to 2 master teams which, due to the looseness of the clue, managed to arrive at something totally different from what's intended by the CoC. But the CoC decided to accept those items and awarded the points accordingly. And this is where the real discussion begins!

Solution by Master Team A:

"♥" = O (deriving the "O" from the word "love", which is in turn derived from the heart symbol)

"alloy" = C (for carbon) + RN (for Radon)

"enable" = still anagram indicator.

Therefore, O + C + RN -> anagram -> CORN

Solution by Master Team B:

"♥" = O as analysed by Team A above.

"alloy" = MN (Manganese) + AG (Silver)

"enable" = analysed as above.

Therefore, O + MN + AG -> anagram -> MANGO

While I admire the above master teams for getting the CORN and MANGO, I can't help seeing the flaws in those solutions. To start with, not only was "In short..." unaccounted for, but even the processs of equating ♥ to "O" is questionable.

I was about to embark on a long discussion about CORN and MANGO. And then I suddenly realised that Liew had posted his comment in the comment box below. In fact, he has argued his objection to those alternative "solutions" along the same lines as my own. I am therefore spared from the extra hardwork!

However, I would like to elaborate further about equating the ♥ to "O".

About half a year ago, I hunted in the Be An Angel Beautiful Gate Hunt clerked by Michael Pang. After the hunt I commented on one of his clues about "painkillers". The clue was like this:

Q) Painkillers have strength.

A) Numbers @ ???

The explanation offered by Michael Pang—a cryptically-correct explanation—was that "number" is something that numbs, as in numbs the nerves. That is essentially what a painkiller does. At the same time, if taken literally, it is also correct to say that when you have the numbers, you have the strength, e.g. when you have a big crowd of people then you have the power/strength.

I can accept Mike's explanation. But during the hunt, we couldn't find the "numbers" within that sector (it was a close relative with the "elusive swan", if you know what I mean). Instead, we settled with CM Power (or something to that effect). Mike, having seen some master teams offering that answer, decided to accept it and awarded the points.

In my comment about this clue, I tried to argue that CM Power was a superior answer than Numbers. My point was that C and M are both numbers, as Roman numerals. And the Power supports the word "strength" in the clue.

However, master renroc was quick to point out—and rightfully so too—that there was a flaw in my analysis! To summarise, he said "painkillers" can be equated to "numbers"; and then "numbers" can also agree with "CM". BUT! "painkillers" are not "CM"!

What we have here is a chain comprising a "source word" converted into its many possible synonyms several times; and the meaning of that "source word" is altered substantially during the process of conversion. That is why the CoC must be careful when conjuring up clues which involve something "indirect", because if he gets carried away with too many levels from the "source word" the end result might become something totally different from the original idea of the clue!

Now in the light of the above analysis, let us come back to the ♥ which was contained in the clue of Treasure 2. That symbol can mean "heart" or "love". And if you like, you can even equate that to a "suit", as in a suit found in a deck of playing cards. That is the first level of "conversion" for that symbol.

Now, if we were to check the dictionary or thesaurus, "heart" can mean so many other things including passion, affection, keenness, courage, bravery, valour and boldness, to name a few.

"love" can mean fond of, adore, dote on, worship, idolize, treasure, cherish, and yes, even zero (in sports terms).

Therefore, I can agree to equate the ♥ to "heart" or "love"; but I can't agree to equate ♥ to say, "treasure", even though "treasure" is a synonym of "love".

Similarly, just because ♥ can mean "love"; and "love" can mean "zero", it does not necessarily follow that ♥ = zero.

If I were the CoC for this hunt, and on the strength of the above arguments, as well as those outlined by Liew in the comment frame below, I would have rejected the CORN and MANGO. I can live with the GUAVA. I am a bit sad to say that this would have been a beautiful riddle—although an extremely tough and tricky one—only to have lost its beauty and finesse to inferior alternatives.

Kiwanis Hunt 2008—The Elusive Swan

One very important skill which is required in treasure hunts is the ability to spot small signboards. Unlike doing crosswords, observation skill can make or break a treasure hunt team. In a typical hunt, there will be at least a few questions which will test the observation skill of the teams. No amount of analytical skills can help the teams if they are unable to spot the answers on the signboards.

Q36) What the ugly duckling grew up to be? Also tell me where the answer is found.

A very straightforward general knowledge question which requires no analysis at all! You either know it, or you don't. And even if you don't, it is so easy to google up the information or call your kids at home for the answer.

But can you spot the answer within the sector? That is the tricky part.

Such was what my team went through during the final leg of the Kiwanis Hunt last Saturday. Throughout the entire hunt, we were very careful with our time management. We adopted the strategy of dropping some of the "bolded questions" and concentrated only on the regular route questions. The reason we did this was because the "bolded questions" were mostly "impossible" to solve and they carried only 2 points each as opposed to 5 points each for the regular route questions.

Because of the above strategy in our time management, we arrived in Sitiawan, which was the last leg of the hunt, with more than 90 minutes to spare. Then we arrived at the sector meant for the above question. It was drizzling and we saw Alex Hoh of The Machines scanning that sector on foot. And immediately we knew that it would be a very tough answer to spot. We doubled back a few times and there was still no Swan in sight.

A few pictures of flamingos down the road were very tempting. It's amusing what desperation can do to people. Of course flamingos and swans are two different kinds of birds.

Our desperation did not end there. We searched the sector for other possibilities. Perhaps there're signboards where the name of the place, i.e. Sitiawan, might have worn out so that the letters "itia" are already missing, thus leaving only "S"..."wan".

Or perhaps that "Sitiawan" has been put on a folding door somewhere within that sector, and when that door is folded, one is only able to see "Swan".

How about double jeopardy? Say, Awns Construction Co.

Maybe that ugly duckling has a specific name; and it is that name that we're suppose to look for?

And so we had quite a lot of possibilities. But each time we come up with some new ideas, we inevitably came full circle to the word Swan.

Along that narrow lane in front of the temple, there were some cendol stalls. By then I felt I could use some cendol. But stopping to have refreshments and meals did not accord well with the perfect plan of "time management". It's just a little bit more to finish the hunt. We had plenty of time to come back later for the cendol. There was no time to relax, we had to work!

In spite of turning back several times within that sector, we never did find the elusive swan. But it was quite comforting to see some of the masters and grandmasters going back and forth on foot. So all we could hope for at that moment was for no one to spot the swan. That would even things up for eveyone!

Well, we continued with the rest of the hunt and then finally submitted out answers at the finish control. Then we went back to the stall for cendol just as we had planned to do during the hunt. Apparently this particular cendol stall we went to was very famous. I was told that even the Sultan goes there for cendol. There were many people queuing up. We spent a good 10 minutes or so waiting for our turn. I was amused by the fact that the cendol seller had a bow-tie on. He must be the one and only cendol seller with a bow on like that. Well, we had our cendol and then proceeded on to another shopping area to look for a proper meal.

The answer presentation was not until the following night, so we hunters were busying asking each other if anyone had actually found the swan. We were quite happy to have been told by all the teams we spoke to that none of them found the swan.

And then came the time everyone was waiting for during the presentation night. Turned out that the forsaken swan was to be found on the ice-shaving maching of the cendol seller! We were there queuing after the hunt and we didn't see it. But maybe that was because we were mesmerised by the bow-tie.

Here is a picture of the swan which I copied from Michael Pang's blog.

I felt it was very brave of the CoC to choose that swan as the answer because the cendol seller might just have decided to rest on that very day, and the stall wouldn't have been there. But when I spoke to the CoC on Monday morning, he said they went to the extent of ensuring the guy's timetable. He works everyday except on Tuesday!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Kiwanis Hunt 2008—Metallic Captain

Some cryptic crosswords purists consider "indirect" anagrams as unfair to the solver. However, in Malaysia, in the sport of treasure hunting, "indirect" anagrams are widely used in clues. Perhaps they are considered fair to the solver because the required answers are already found on the signboards, instead of requiring the solver to come up with the entire word (s) on his own as in the case of solving the cryptic crosswords.

But how far can we allow the idea of "indirect" anagrams in treasure hunt clues?

Q26) Local metal prices are fixed for this individual.

A clue that defeated the entire hunting fraternity last Saturday. Let's look at the keywords first. The word "Local" is a translation indicator. It means that the solver is required to translate a word (s) from English into Malay. The word "fixed" is most probably an anagram indicator. And finally "individual" is the definition.

Working from the definition, i.e. individual, the solver should start scanning the sector for a person—any person—and then hope to figure things out by working backwards. But there were many, many words within that sector which could fit "individual".

Now let's try to figure out "metal" first. We start with translating "metal" into Malay, i.e. Logam. Then try to anagram that with "prices" on account of the anagram indicator "fixed". See if you can come up with anything that can agree with the "individual". No? OK, how about translating the word "prices" into Malay. Yes, that translation indicator may be referring to both "metal" and "prices". What do you get? Now try to anagram those words and see if you can come up with something that can equate to "individual"...

Still nothing? Hmmm... not very easy, huh?

Oh! the theme of the Kiwanis!... golden... silver... Yeah, that could be it! How about translating "gold" or "silver" into Malay, and then anagram either one with "prices". Maybe that will bring us home? OK, fine. Let's translate "gold" or "silver" and "prices" into Malay and then try those combinations. Surely that will bring us home!?

God dammit! Still nothing!

But wait!! It doesn't make much sense to translate "prices" into Malay. That word is in plural form. Translating it into Malay will lose its grammatical significance. So it must remain in English. But then, remaining in English doesn't mean it can't be substituted with other words of similar meanings? What words could that be?

Oops! time's up! We are not going to waste our time on something which is obviously not solvable, folks, so let's move on...

And so, we remained baffled by this clue until about 9:30pm the next day.

The official solution:

Local metal = EMAS

Prices = RATES

Fixed = anagram indicator

EMAS + RATES -> anagram -> SEAMASTER = Individual

I am so pleased with my team for dropping this clue. I would rather concentrate on the regular route questions which were worth 5 points each as opposed to 2 points only for this clue!

Kiwanis Hunt 2008—Spiritual Question

Whenever I set treasure hunt clues, I would try to allow enough opportunities for the solver to arrive at the answers. My clues might not be straightforward, but with logical reasonings and a bit of common sense, a regular team would have a fair chance to solve them. Whether or not those clues are actually solved in the end is quite a different matter altogether!

My clues are not normally to be taken literally—most of the time the intended meanings are substantially different from what is understood from a sweeping surface reading. Having said that, however, the "instruction" given in those clues must be clear, provided of course that the solver is able to "think out of the box", i.e. thinking laterally.

Imagine that you are hunting. You have been cracking your head for a while over 14 questions; not to mention trying to solve the so-called Crack-A-Pots as well as treasure clues. You have not not solved all the treasures, let alone the Crack-A-Pots; and there are also those forsaken black-and-white pictures of 8 people you have never seen in your entire life. You are sitting in the back seat, and all the intense concentration on the riddles are beginning to take its toll on you. You are coming up with a major migraine. Your bladder is also not cooperating, even though you try so hard to drink as little water as possible. And then now you come to the following clue:

Q15) A business where terrifying beings are found with heartless spirits getting disturbed with the answer?

Faced with the above clue, how and where should you start?

First, let's try to understand the flow of the sentence, and then hopefully we will be able to understand the trick behind the surface reading.

The leading words in the sentence, i.e. "A business..." refer to the business signboard within the sector.

The subsequent words, i.e. "where terrifying beings are found..." suggest that we are looking for a location. For example we might be looking for the word "cemetery" or "graveyard".

Then the subsequent "with..." means we need to connect that location to the remaining part of the clue.

Then we have "heartless spirits getting disturbed with the answer?" which probably mean that we need to anagram "heartless spirits" with what's found on the signboard (the required answer).

OK, we are ready to organise our ideas to derive the answer. This is what we get:

Business signboard = (Location) with (anagram of "heartless spirits" + required answer).

Which doesn't make much sense and renders the clue unsolvable!

However, the experienced hunter would know that the clue is inaccurate; he knows that the word "with" immediately after "found" should have been "when". If the word "with" is replaced with "when", the clue would become like this:

Q15) A business where terrifying beings are found when heartless spirits getting disturbed with the answer?

Now the "instruction" to the solver is entirely different. "When" is a conditional word in this case. It means that "terrifying beings are found" only when the solver does the process described within the remaining part of the clue; something like this:

The beverage will become sweet when added with sugar.

In other words, if not added with sugar, the beverage won't become sweet. I have discussed the problem with the word "with" while commenting on a recent hunt question. But as I have said in that post, it seems that KL hunters are used to this wrong sentence.

A major problem with this particular clue is to figure out "heartless spirits". And here I'd like to say that I have not forgotten the theme of the hunt. Even with the theme of the hunt at the back of my mind, it is still an extremely wide range of possibilities. What "spirits" might the setter be referring to? Could it be about "ghosts", "angels" etc? Or it might be referring to liquors; and there must be hundreds, if not thousands of liquors.

Moreover, even if we are able to narrow down the "candidates" somehow, we are still faced with "heartless". Generally speaking, "heartless", in the cryptic sense, usually mean to remove the middle letter of an adjacent word. If that is indeed the intention of the setter here, then we might be looking, first and foremost, for "spiits" (the letter "r" removed). Not to mention the many possibile words that can replace "spirits".

However, that is not the end of the problem. I have also seen "heartless" adopted to mean the entire internal letters in the word are removed, leaving only the first and last letters. For example "Heartless spirits" will result in "ss" (the letters "pirit" removed).

Assuming that the solver can somehow figure out which "spirits" the CoC is referring to; and which "heart" has to be removed, he still needs to combine the remaining letters with what is found on the signboard to arrive at something that can agree with "terrifying beings".

The official solution:

Terrifying beings = ZOMBIES

Heartless spirits = BOZE (spirits = booze; and then remove the middle "o")

Get disturbed = anagram indicator

BOZE + (Answer) -> anagram -> ZOMBIES

Therefore, the letters found in the answer must be IMS. Find any signboard containing those letters in any order.


You see now how remote the possibility of arriving at the required answer? I am not saying that it is impossible to solve the question. It is possible, but not probable! If ever I set such a question, I would probably do it for a virtual hunt in this blog and I would allow several weeks for the solvers to try their luck. But I don't think that I will ever do anything close to this in an actual hunt. Besides, I can't imagine how many more possible answers that might arise from the millions of possible combinations by the masters and grandmasters in the field. At any rate, even if I did it in a virtual hunt (where I can narrow down the scope of search substantially), I would set the question like this:

Q) Disturbing heartless spirits here results in terrifying beings!

I still don't like "heartless spirits", but at least the clue would be short, precise and straight to the point. Yet it is still tough enough to give the masters and grandmasters a challenging riddle.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Kiwanis Hunt 2008—The Strikingly-Debatable Answer

To be a good treasure hunter, one must be able to "think out of the box". Lateral thinking is important because quite often the intended meaning of the setter is totally different from what is literally contained in the clues. For example, "flower" in the literal sense may refer to "rose" or "tulip". But in the cryptic sense, by means of wordplay, "flower" can mean "river", because "flower" refers to something that flows. There are other examples—"letter" refers to "landlord" (one who lets); "butter" refers to "goat" (one that butts); "supporter of the proposer" refers to "knee".

Because of the possibilities of interpreting treasure hunt clues in the literal and lateral sense, there is always the danger of having two possible answers within a given sector; and both answers would be equally acceptable! Therefore, to adopt one of the examples given above, if the clue asks for "flower", both "rose" and "Kinabatangan" might be acceptable, because "rose" answers in the literal sense; whereas "Kinabatangan" answers in the lateral (wordplay) sense.

Q12) A striking catch for an angler?

An interesting clue. If this were a move in the game of chess, I would give it an exclamation mark (!). Let's see how should we solve this clue.

First, let's approach the solution from the literal sense. In such a case, we need to determine what are the words that will agree with "striking" and "catch for an angler". To deal with the easier one of the two, "catch for an angler" would most probably refer to a fish. So it makes sense to scan the sector for a fish. Fine, we progress. As to the second word, "striking" that is a little bit more complicated. Maybe we are looking for "assault" or "attack" or "hit" etc. The range of possibilities is much wider. We must find a signboard containing words that would agree to both those possibilities.

The CoC, adopting the literal approach to the solution, had intended the board containing Bass Attack as the required answer. The word "Attack" is not in continuous tense, but I can accept it in this case, although we have the word "striking" (as opposed to "strike") in the clue. I don't think it is a violation of grammatical rules.

Now, let's approach the clue from the lateral sense—by means of wordplay. Is there anything in the clue that would support this approach to the solution? In my opinion, there is. The question mark (?) at the end of the clue is quite often an indication of a wordplay or a pun, though that is not necessarily always the case.

Within that sector, there was the signboard containing Pusat X-Ray Sinaran. We did not see the required answer, Bass Attack. So the moment I saw the "X-Ray" board, I thought it could fit. The point is that "ray" is a kind of fish. I checked the word from the dictionary just to be very sure.

And what about the "X"? That is a little bit more complicated. An "X" is a strike in bowling. So since "ray" fits the "catch for an angler", therefore, as a wordplay, X-Ray fits the "striking fish". However, we did not really like this answer because of that extra word "Sinaran" on the board. We were convinced that if this was not the answer, it must be because the CoC wouldn't agree to the presence of "Sinaran".

When the answer was revealed, the CoC dismissed the X-Ray without even any mention of the "Sinaran". He just took the "X" as "doesn't answer striking". However, I was fortunate enough to meet the CoC the following morning during breakfast. I asked him why wouldn't "X" be accepted. He said he didn't think of "X" as a strike in bowling. He seemed to agree to the acceptability of the answer then. He said he couldn't think of all the possibilities!

I can only symphatise with the CoC. I have been in the same boat before. When they are masters and grandmasters in the field, there is no telling how far their imagination and creativity can stretch!

Kiwanis Hunt 2008—Of Nightmares & Restful Places

I was unable to attend the hunt briefing for the Kiwanis Hunt 2008 and am therefore unable to report what exactly was said by the CoC, Grandmaster Chong on that day. However, I was there during the answer presentation at Damai Laut on Sunday night. The CoC repeated several times to the audience to "always answer all the words found in the clues".

And that was a valuable advice. Essentially, it means that whenever you see additional words which apparently play no role in the clue, you must ask yourself if those words are there for other reasons, especially if you find two equally promising answers for the same clue.

For example, consider the following clue which was one of those given in this hunt:

Q22) Either Ashley or Mary Olsen, with locks, having good looks here.

The first part of the clue, "Either Ashley or Mary Olsen", refers to the word "twin". Note the word "Either" at the beginning of the sentence, meaning that we are looking for a singular noun, i.e. "twin", not "twins".

The second part of the clue, "with locks", is a play on words, referring to hair (as in locks of hair).

Now within that questions sector, there was a signboard bearing: Twin Hair Saloon. This board appears to fit the clue perfectly. But upon further investigation, the experience hunter would realise that Twin Hair Saloon does not deal with the remaining words, "having good looks".

It turned out that there was another signboard bearing Twin Hair & Beauty Saloon within that sector. This other board is a better fit because of the word "beauty" which answers "having good looks".

What really happened to my team was that we were fortunate enough to have spotted the intended answer, saw its perfect fit, and left the sector in a jiffy. We were therefore spared the mental torture of having to choose between the 2 signboards. However, I'd like to think that even if we had to choose, we would have been able to make the correct choice anyway.

Q10) Can you find a nightmare opposite put together for a restful place?

A moderately confusing clue, but not exactly a frightfully tough one. An average team will quickly realise that the word "opposite" refers to the opposite meaning of "nightmare". Therefore, when I saw Sweetdream on the signboard, Teck Koon was quick to point out that that word agrees with the "opposite of a nightmare". And of course I was also quick to give my vote for that answer.

How about the words "put together"? Well, that is also easily explained because the words "sweet" and "dream" are joined (put) together to form a single word on this particular signboard.

But now we come to a stumbling block. There is nothing on the signboard that would deal with the words "restful place". If the word "bedroom" or "mattress" or even "bed" were there on the signboard, then it would have been perfect. But not on this particular signboard.

We have therefore come to a situation where we have a potential answer, but with some words in the clue unaccounted for. We have seen in the above example about the "twin", that disregarding some words in the clue does not accord well with GM Chong's style. If we ignore the words "restful place", we might be severely punished when the CoC later reveals that there is another signboard containing Sweetdream Mattress, for example.

And so, although that signboard Sweetdream was glaringly clear from the car, we had to turn back and make another thorough scan of the sector. After spending a few minutes, we found nothing better and had to be contented with the Sweetdream board. But we marked that answer as "50-50" becasue as far as we were concerned, it did not address "restful place", eventhough we were aware that Sweetdream was the brandname for mattresses.

During the presentation of the answers, it turned out that the required answer was indeed Sweetdream, and nothing was mentioned about those extra words, "restful place".

Sometimes it is not easy to be consistent, even if you are a Grandmaster.

Kiwanis Hunt 2008—In vs And

GAMES OF STRATEGY—there must be millions of them. Examples are chess, scrabble, football, badminton and squash, to name just a few. In fact most, if not all, games and sports involve some sort of strategy one way or another, albeit to varying degrees.

Who, then, is responsible for the planning in a game of strategy?

Q7) You'll find a person responsible for planning in a game of strategy, studying here?

I have mentioned before elsewhere in this blog, that in my opinion, a good treasure hunt clue should contain only words which are necessary; they are included in the clue for the purpose of assisting the solver to arrive at the answer. But sometimes they are also included for the purpose of misleading the solver!

To repeat the question: Who is "a person responsible for planning in a game of strategy"?

The most straightforward answer is the word mastermind. However, I couldn't help but wonder the necessity of the words "... in a game of strategy," in the above clue. If indeed the intention of the setter was to find the word mastermind, then "a person responsible for planning" was quite good enough to do the job. The continuation with "... in a game of strategy," was not really necessary. For example, the clue could have been perfectly OK like this:

Q) You'll find a person responsible for planning, studying here.

Therefore, "... in a game of strategy," must be there for a reason. For if those words are not there for a special reason, why, then, it would mean that the setter had included words which play no significant role in the riddle.

Considering the calibre of Grandmaster Chong as the Clerk-of-Course (CoC), one must be careful when dealing with "useless" extra words in the clue. It is not like a Grandmaster CoC to violate such a "rule" in setting hunt questions. If this clue was set by other CoCs, say, Mr Baskaran, then I wouldn't have wasted my time to think twice about this clue; because I happen to know that Mr Baskaran has a peculiar style of including many, many meaningless and useless words in his hunt clues!

Therefore, perhaps there is another twist to the above clue? Looking at it from the cryptic point of view, that word "in" might be a container indicator. In such a case, "... a person responsible for planning in a game of strategy," might mean the solver has to find two words before the container operation.

For example,

a person responsible for planning = COACH

a game of strategy = CHESS


Of course they need not be COACH and CHESS. Maybe they might have been other words too.

However, there is another possible reason why the CoC had included "game of strategy" in the clue. Could it be possible that he was overwhelmed by generosity; and then decided to provide an additional clue to help the solver find the word mastermind, just in case he can't think of that word with "a person responsible for planning" alone?

Let's investigate this idea for a bit.

"... a person responsible for planning" is a mastermind. But "... a game of strategy" also agrees with the word mastermind. It seems that the CoC has intended to fashion out a "double-definition" clue. But in that case, the word "in" adopted in the clue is inaccurate. A better alternative is the word "and", so that the clue would become something like this:

Q) You'll find a person responsible for planning and a game of strategy, studying here.

Although the clue would look awkward due to a dubious surface reading, but now we have a different scenario. "A person responsible for planning" is a mastermind; and mastermind is also a "game of strategy".

The word "and" is most certainly a superior word when compared to "in". However, during the hunt, we did not find anything that would agree with the COACH/CHESS idea above. Therefore, the moment we saw Pusat Tuisyen MASTERMIND, we immediately took that as our answer. And of course that was indeed the required answer. I made no big deal about it during the hunt, and passed it off as an irrelevant inaccuracy. But during the answer presentation, the clue was presented like this:

Q7) You'll find a person responsible for planning and a game of strategy, studying here?

I did not realise this different version of the clue during the answer presentation until Master Teck Koon, my team member, pointed it out to me. Sometimes things like that can happen. The CoC sets the questions. Then when he prepares the answer presentation, he makes modifications to the questions, only to forget to make the corresponding amendments in the original question papers!

Monday, May 26, 2008

Kiwanis Treasure Hunt 2008

Oh! what a hunt! I set out to achieve the top 20 teams in the Kiwanis Hunt 2008. It was truly exciting—the roller-coaster fluctuations in optimism and pessimisism throughout the hunt, the thrill of solving the questions, the company of exciting team members, the well-organised presentation night. The Kiwanis Hunt is indeed a hunt worth joining!

Last Friday I flew to KL and then put up at Cottage Inn in Subang Jaya. That night I met up with my other team members, i.e. Julie, Teck Koon and Lee Quan. We had a simple dinner at a nearby Chinese restaurant. Then we went on to paste the many advertisers' stickers onto Lee Quan's car—in the dark, by the road side. I meant to sleep early that night, but somehow I only managed about 4 hours of sleep, perhaps due to the excitement of my very first Kiwanis Hunt.

The next morning, I woke up at 4:32am. I freshened up and then walked over the a Mamak restaurant behind the Inn. There were 2 Indian guys who appeared to have been there for ages, with a couple of empty glasses on the table. At the other table were 2 boys, apparently watching a comedy movie on a cellphone. I ordered a roti telur and teh tarik. Then I rushed back to the Inn, checked out and then waited by the roadside. Lee Quan and Julie arrived a couple of minutes later. We went round to fetch Teck Koon and then headed out to the start control.

When we arrived there, it was still dark, but there were already so many cars all nicely lined up. There were master- and grandmaster-hunters in this hunt. From the beginning, it was clear that it's gonna be a very tough hunt for my team. But I had a modest target of being in the top 20 teams, although even that appeared to have been an uphill task.

The hunt brought us from the Klang Valley all the way to Damai Laut in Perak. After the flag-off, the hunters went through several nearby locations for the first few questions, but soon after we embarked on the long journey to Damai Laut.

Grandmaster Chong, the Clerk-of-Course for this hunt had an interesting style in his clues, but I will come to that later. As usual, I have a lot of things to say about his questions. To summarise, however, there were 40 route questions which comprised 33 regular questions and 7 bolded questions; 6 treasure questions; 2 crack-a-pot questions; 5 road safety questions (which carried no score); and 3 games known as K Events.

My team adopted a strategy of giving very little attention to the bolded questions, since they were obviously much tougher than the regular route questions as well as carried much lesser points. Hence we ended up solving only 2 of the 7 bolded questions.

We managed to clock in at the finish control without any time penalty. Then there was a long gap of a day before we were to know the results of the hunt. In the meantime, it was amusing how we went through the experience of gaining confidence and then losing confidence and then gaining confidence again and again when we discussed some of the questions with the other hunters. This continued up to the moment when our team was declared the winner of 14th position. I am absolutely thrilled and I'd consider it a significant achievement.

A few days of interaction with the master and grandmaster hunters, and the fun and many exciting moments with Teck Koon, Julie and Lee Quan were all worth it; and I'd gladly do it all over again!

This morning, we left Damai Laut shortly after breakfast. We stopped by in Bidor for lunch. Then we proceeded on to KL where I caught a bus to LCCT. The flight was a bit delayed. I couldn't wait to reach home. When the cabin crew announced that we're about to land, I was very happy. Then the plane slowed down and started descending; the landing gears came out and we approached the runway. Then we passed Terminal 1; we were already above the runway. Then a few seconds wait... and a few more seconds... still no touch-down. Before long, it was obvious that we were approaching the runway long. There was no way that the plane will stop before hitting the fence at the end of the runway. Then finally we felt the wheels touching the ground. And my heart raced, because we were already so close to the end of the runway. Suddenly the pilot revved up the engine again. The plane picked up speed and soon we were airborne again. There was a sigh of relief in the cabin. We were just lucky that there was still enough time to gain enough speed for the take off.

Another big circle in the air; another approach; and yet another long approach. Only this time the touchdown was slightly sooner than the first one. The plane came to a halt barely at the end of the runway. And again there was a sigh of relief from the passengers. We had landed safely after all.

I am so happy to be home again. I am very tired now and shall not be making my customary comments and hunt analysis tonight. I hope my many fans will be patient. My comments will come in over the next few days in separate threads. While I was in the plane, I have more or less shortlisted some of the questions—these are the threads I've planned:

1. In vs And

2. Of Nightmares & Restful Places

3. The Strikingly-Debatable Answer

4. Spiritual Question

5. Metalic Captain

6. The Elusive Swan

Tuesday, May 20, 2008


When JJ was still very young, she was scared of loud noises. She was not agreeable with my naturally loud voice. In fact I've been having this problem of controlling the loudness of my voice, especially when I'm excited about the topic of my conversation.

When JJ was still a baby, she'd suddenly cry out for no apparent reason whenever I'm around. It took me quite a while to realise that I was the main reason of those sudden cries! Later, when she was a little older, I gradually realised her fear of loud noises. She'd suddenly become scared and closed her ears when we sang her the "Happy Birthday" song during her birthday party. And there was once when I brought her to a movie. When the show started, she suddenly burst out crying and it took such a long time to calm her down.

In the end I decided to research on the problem. I surfed the net and found out that JJ has a condition known as phonophobia, i.e. a fear of loud sounds. After that I've never brought JJ to the movies. I decided to wait until she's older. In the meantime, I trained her to fight her fears. While watching her favourite cartoon movies at home, I'd increased the volume very, very gradually. And so, she gradually became accustomed with the loud sounds from the TV.

A few years had elapsed since the last time we brought her to the movies. Yesterday, Mia and I decided that perhaps it's time to give JJ another shot at the cinema. She's after all fast approaching 6 years old now. And she has had plenty of trainings watching cartoons with big volumes at home.

Of all the movies, we decided to make a big entrance with The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian yesterday afternoon. All the way to the cinema, I was fairly worried. Well, we finally found ourselves in the cinema. Then the lights dimmed and suddenly the music started. I turned to look at JJ. She was still doing fine. Then some advertisements. JJ was still doing absolutely fine. Then the movie started...

And of all the opening scenes, it was about a woman going through childbirth labour. Of course it was not actually shown where the baby came from. But the way the lady shouted out in pain was enough to leave an impression on JJ. But I am proud to say that JJ was strong enough. She did not cry. In fact, she was fully concentrating...

And so, we continued peacefully till the movie ended.

Then last night JJ was watching TV with me while Mia was having a shower. Suddenly JJ surprised me with a question, "Dad," she said, "do I have to go through that much pain when I egg out a baby?"

"How do you mean, 'that much pain', J?" I asked her back.

"Like that lady in the movie this afternoon?"

"Yeah," I said, "I suppose so, J. Mommy went through the same thing with you too."

"Oh! dad, I don't want to grow up! I don't want to go through the pain like that!"

And so, I rushed back to the internet. This is what I have found: tokophobia.

So here we go again. Parenting is so much fun, you know; you get to learn a lot of stuff!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Sex With Zorro

I know many couples would go to great lengths to spice up their sex lives. Some would want to try out acrobatic positions. Others would choose "exciting" locations like at the back seat of a car; or on that huge new sofa in the living room. Others still would try prolonged foreplays. They will think of all sorts of things...

But really, how weird can they get? Not that I want to intrude upon the privacy of your sex lives, but I'd like to ask my readers—especially the women readers—how would you react if your husband asks for sex with a T-shirt covering his face? Would that turn you on? Would you even pause to consider that request? Or would you immediately think that your husband had gone mad?

But of course some of you are very open to new ideas. Hubby playing Zorro might be fun too; albeit there is a need to run a bit of identity-check procedure first, just to make sure that he is indeed your husband. [The Star]

Sunday, May 11, 2008

To Bargain Or Not To Bargain?

We had brunch at E-Siong again today. While I was having my fried mee hoon, Mia suggested that I should go to the wet market to buy some fresh seafood. I thought that was a brilliant idea.

So after brunch, I dropped Mia and JJ at home and then I went off to the wet market. It was fast approaching noon by the time I reached the car park of the wet market. I had to wait quite a while before I was able to find an empty parking bay. But while I was waiting there with my engine and air-conditioner still running, a man approached my vehicle and knocked on the window. I rolled down the window and asked him what's the matter. He took out a bunch of VCDs from his bag and held them out to me, saying that they're very "panas", meaning "hot" in Malay. I looked at those VCDs and realised that they were pornographic movies. I don't normally entertain these people in the street, but since I was waiting for a vacant parking bay anyway, I thought I might as well satisfy my curiosity!

Of the bunch of VCDs that he had, one was supposed to be a famous Malay Malaysian artiste. Unfortunately I am not a big fan of Malaysian entertainments, so I don't know very many Malaysian celebrities; and I therefore couldn't recognise the woman shown on the cover of the VCD. Of course I could tell that that woman was a Malay; just that I didn't know if she's anyone famous in the Malaysian entertainment industry.

Anyway, that VCD was going for RM15 each whereas the rest which comprised porns from India, Hong Kong, Korea and of course the Western World were selling at RM10 each. I asked him why the 50% extra for the local porn? He said because this particular one was "special"—and get this—"banyak gaya!", meaning "many styles"—referring to the many positions of the act. He turned the cover over and indeed there were many smaller pictures at the back which showed the many, many positions! Just out of curiosity, I tried bargaining with him on the price. But he was quite firm; those were "special edition", you see. So no room for negotiations. Then I tried another trick; what if I buy more than one? He still wouldn't budge. Well, in the end I didn't buy any of those VCDs, although I was fairly curious about our very own pornographic productions! I never intended to buy anyway.

Well, I parked my vehicle and a short while later I found myself in the wet market. There was a wide variety of fishes. I found that the prices of fishes today were a bit expensive, but I suppose that had a lot to do with the bad weather over the last couple of days. I reached a table selling some black pomfrets (bawal hitam). There was a guy there having an animated negotiation with the seller. The pomfrets were selling at RM15 per kg, but the seller was willing to reduce it to RM14 per kg. Looking over his shoulder, I thought that was quite a good bargain. But the guy was still not satisfied. He kept trying to reduce the price to RM12 per kg. The seller declined. So for the next few minutes they continued to negotiate about the price. In the end, the deal did not materialise. The fish seller refused to go any lower than RM14 per kg; and the interested buyer was unwilling to pay RM14 per kg. He was still grumbling when he walked off.

When it was my turn, I happily chosed a few pomfrets of about 1 kg each and made the purchase. I don't normally spend 10-15 minutes bargaining on the price for the sake of saving a few ringgit. I went on to buy some prawns, sea bass and red snappers.

Then I walked to my vehicle; and while I was arranging my purchases in the small ice case in the back, I noticed that same man who ended up not buying those black pomfrets. He was sitting in his huge 4WD. The same man with the VCDs were trying to sell him those pornographic movies. They were quite at a distance away from me, but it was quite obvious that the guy, perhaps out of habit, tried to bargain the price down. The VCD seller was adamant with his price. The negotiation didn't last very long. The guy calmly took the whole bunch of VCDs, paid the seller and drove away. Perhaps he should have had that attitude when dealing with the pomfret seller.

Amazing to think of the value of pornographic materials to some people, huh?

Saturday, May 10, 2008

The Tiger Next Door

It's time for some grandfather stories. I have neglected this particular category for a while now...

My home is a corner unit terraced house in a housing estate known as Taman Iramanis. Almost 6 years ago, when I moved back from Brunei, I decided to buy this house because of two main reasons.

Firstly, it was all that I could afford back then. I had spent about 13 years of my life in Brunei. It was there that I took up a distant-learning course offered by a university in England. I worked days and studied nights for about 4 years. After I earned a degree, I had to pursue a professional qualification. I eventually became a chartered valuer. However, when I returned to Malaysia to practise, my qualification was not recognized by the Malaysian Board of Valuers, Appraisers & Estate Agents. In order to practise as a Registered Valuer in Malaysia, I had to undergo the Test of Prefessional Competence (TPC) conducted by the Board. I tried asking for some exemption, but to no avail. So I had to repeat the whole process again for the second time in my life—I had to fill up a work diary and logbook. After 2 years, I had to prepare 2 practical task reports (something akin to theses); and then attend a professional interview where a panel of three interviewers would ask any questions under the sun relating to the valuation profession within a timeframe of about 3 hours. It was such a painful experience, but what more could I do? I am a Chinese and I don't have any relative who's a politician. It was only after I had passed the TPC that I quickly climbed up the ladder in my company to where I am today. A lot of time had been wasted, but, you know, you can't have everything. Better late than never, right?

Anyway, because my qualification was not recognized in Malaysia when I was first relocated back from Brunei to KK, I had to start over from the bottom in my company's hierarchy. And of course my earning power was also substantially reduced. In the end, I was only able to afford the house I'm staying in now.

The second reason why I bought this house was because I liked (and I still do) its relatively huge compound. The plot size is about 5,500 sq ft. So I have enough space to build an artificial waterfall and a small pond where I have some kois. Mia loves the spacious compound too. In fact, between the two of us, she was the first one who viewed this house. Well, she fell in love with it instantly. It was also one of those few available options that would agree with my pocket back then.

As I said, it's been about 6 years now. And there is no good reason to move to another house. It's not like I have a big family. Although I plan to move to a bigger house some day, I am not in a real hurry to do so.

BUT! this recently I'm beginning to think that I might have a good reason to move after all.

For a while now whenever we're all in bed late at night, there's this knocking sounds from who-knows-where! Those sounds would continue for a long time—quite often up to way after midnight. My best guess was that maybe our TV antenna up on the roof must have become loose a bit; hence when the wind blew, it sort of swung to and fro, thus producing the knocking sounds. But that was not a very convincing explanation because the knocking sounds did not seem to come from the rooftop. Besides, why would the TV antenna make those sounds only at night around bedtime?

Tonight, there's that sound again. We're all set to go to bed. But tonight I am determined, once and for all, to investigate those knocking sounds. One way or another I want to find the source of those damn sounds!

Was it indeed the TV antenna on the rooftop? Or was it some animals causing those sounds?

So there I was, armed with a flashlight, out of my house in the middle of the night. But as soon as I was out of the house, those sounds were even much clearer and louder. It wasn't the TV antenna at all. Instead it was an animal that's been producing those annoying sounds—or at least a different kind of animal. It became obvious that those sounds were coming from our next door neighbour. There is a brick party wall between our respective front porches. So I was unable to see directly.

Now I don't have the habit of spying on my neighbours, but this time the curiosity got the better of me. I walked further out beyond the party wall, and peeped into my neighbour's front porch. The lights were bright. And there he was, the Tiger wannabe teenage son practising his golf swings. The sounds came from the golf club when it struck the concrete floor.

I thought I'd be happier if I could solve the mystery of the nocturnal sounds. Now that I've found the source of those annoying sounds, I am even more frustrated. Some people are just so inconsiderate of their neighbours. Would it be worth it to tell my neighbours off and then risk causing some sort of animosity between us? Well, I might just tell them off. But I'd probably do that when I'm ready to move to another house!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Constitutional Right To Sexual Enjoyment

HOW do we define what's a "sexual enjoyment" for women? Women by nature are hard-to-understand creatures. And they are after all only humans; each with different tastes and preferences. What's sexually enjoyable to one woman might be totally the opposite to another woman. I think it is quite impossible to try to generalise "sexual enjoyment" for women; or even for men for that matter.

But now the right to sexual enjoyment will be provided for in the constitution too. The person seeking to include "sexual enjoyment" in the constitution defines "the right to sexual enjoyment" (for women) as "women can make free, responsible and informed decisions about their sex lives".


A couple found it so hard to save up. At the end of each month, they'd have spent all their earnings. They had to do something to start saving up. Then they came up with a weird idea; each time they had sex, they'd put RM10 into a piggy bank. At the end of the month, they'd take the money they had accummulated to the bank. They were pleased with themselves for coming up with such a brilliant idea!

That routine worked well over several months. Then at the end of one particular month, the husband started counting the money in the piggy bank. But he was puzzled when he found not only RM10 notes, but also some RM50s and RM100s.

He turned to his wife and asked, "How come there're RM50s and RM100s in this piggy bank?"

The wife replied with a question, "You think everyone is a miser like you?"


I wonder if such a law will ever be available in Malaysia. Apparently only 25% of women in Malaysia almost always achieve orgasm. Although it has been said that "orgasm" isn't everything, surely it still means a lot? There must be a lot of women who're not enjoying their sex lives? Does it mean that if a woman does not enjoy sex with her husband, she has the right to seek sex elsewhere? Is that the right they're gonna be entitled to?

I am curious to know how does one actually break this particular law; and then how will he be punished for that unconstitutional act?

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Bad News; Good News?

To my fellow treasure hunters in Sabah—and also some in KL—I'm sad to report that the Sutera Harbour—Angkatan Hebat Treasure Hunt has again been postponed. No new date has been announced so far. It is not likely to happen in July too.

Some friends have approached me to set a replacement hunt for the 29 June 2008. Now I usually set my KK Challenge hunts around July/August (the last one in January was an exception). But I may have to do it earlier due to this latest development.

I have sent out emails just shortly ago to some hunters to gauge their interest for a KK Challenge 4 on 29 June 2008. If I can gather enough teams, then I will embark on creating a nice and juicy mental torture for you all. Bear in mind, the KK Challenge 4 will be an unofficial hunt. Prizes will be small. For the record, there were 20 teams hunting in the KK Challenge 3 last January.

Those of you who're keen to hunt, please email me your info soon. At the same time, please feel free to spread this news to your friends too. I am getting a bit ambitious now—I'm hoping to attract 30 teams; the more the merrier, right? If it happens, get ready for a fun-packed hunt!

UPDATE (Status as at 23 June 2008):

Team 01:

CK Tan, CL Teo, Leslie, Frederick

Team 02:

Grace Chong, Vivian Cham, Harry Koh, Chan Mon Hueg

Team 03: FL@ME

Francis Omamalin, Lee TJ, Moina Liew, Eileen Yeoh

Team 05:

Amy Chee & team

Team 06: HRU

2R1I & team

Team 07: The Pink Ladies

Anne, Angeline, Zyee & Rina

Team 08: Mung Cha Cha

Mary, Shirley, Ellen, Dr Liaw

Team 09: Tomb Raiders

Masri & team

Team 10: Scooby-Do


Team 11: Jolly Roger


Team 12: The Scofield

Carl Eddison, Grace Joy Chin, Claire Andrew & Fazlee Rahim

Team 14: She is 51 in the Highest Card

Alice Mathew, Noorainee Jamal, Merlvin Sylvester, Retty Felicia Simok

Team 15:

Paival Yahya & team

Team 16: Main Tembak

Bernard Liew, Alvin Wong, Christine Netto, Audrey Chin

Team 17:

Donald Stephens & team

Wonder-Full World Of Football

Those of you who know me—I mean really know me—would know how much I loathe the sport of football. The Americans call it soccer. I have tried to learn to like the sport many times in the past, but to no avail.

No matter what or how I do it, I just can't bring myself to like football. At one time, following an advice given by a friend who's a football freak, I actually started betting on international matches. Not really betting like "bet" bet, y'know; merely small sums in an attempt to lure myself into the sport. According to my friend, the games would become much more interesting and exciting if I actually had a "stake" in them. Somehow the bettings didn't have quite the same effect on me.

One ball; 22 players on the field; a man in black, running to and fro, blowing a whistle and a bunch of yellow and red cards in his pocket; thousands upon thousands of people in the stand yelling their hearts out; and many more thousands watching from all over the world. People support the clubs; lose sleep and get sick in the process; gamble and fight against each other—hell, they even end up killing each other because of football. Who invented this game anyway?

A football star tried to be nice. He threw his game-used jersey to a bunch of boys in the audience. A 10-year old boy was convinced that that jersey was meant for him. But as fate would have it, it was his 9-year old best friend who caught that jersey. A tussle ensued. The parents who were there joined in the party. Then a policeman arrived to break up the fight.

Who is the rightful owner of that jersey? Should the 10-year old have it? Should the 9-year old have it? Well, the policeman who broke up the fight thought the 9-year old should have it. Would you agree with that decision? Well, apparently the parents of the 10-year old boy did not agree with the policeman. And so they're bringing the matter to court. Read more here.

What's wrong with these people? It's just a football jersey, for Pete's sake!

Monday, May 5, 2008

Medication by way of half-graded combination? (6)

Not exactly a very good surface reading, but I thought it would be fun to use a cryptic clue for the title of this post.

A friend sent me an interesting article which I can't resist to include in this blog. It has something to do with "quality of life".

My dog, Boomer, is over 10 years old now. The vet said he is approximately an 80-year old man in terms of human age. He is very near to his full lifespan, and doesn't have much more time left. A couple of months ago, he developed some difficulties to walk with his hind legs. The vet said that most large dogs are susceptible to elbow and hip dysplasia. Each time Boomer walks, he'd partially drag his hind legs; and his gait would also be somewhat wobbly. Sadly, there is very little that we can do for poor Boomer.

There are few possible options. Firstly, leave him as he is now and hope that he will somehow gain full use of his hind legs. That is, however, very unlikely. Secondly, give him some vitamins in the hope that that can help to remedy the problem, or at least prevent his condition from worsening. Thirdly, put him down so that he needs not go through that lousy quality of life.

I decided against the third option immediately. I didn't have the heart to put him down. I opted to give him some vitamins, but soon had to abandon that measure as it was obvious after a while that it didn't help at all. So now Boomer continues living with a poor quality of life. But so far his health is not deteriorating any further. I hope he will live a little longer. He has been a good dog.

Humans may have a poor quality of life too. Apparently men who suffer from erectile dysfunction are considered to fall within such category. Luckily for some Chilean men, their mayor started handing out free Viagra to senior citizens on Wednesday. About 1,500 residents are eligible to receive up to 4 pills each month. That's quite a lot of Viagra! I suppose the quality of life for those men must have improved by leaps and bounds, huh? Perhaps I should consider migrating to Chile when I reach the age of 60!

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Dungeons & Monsters

At one time in my life I was obsessed with the video game known as Tomb Raider. I was window shopping during one weekend and happened to pass a video game shop when I saw a crowd watching the shopkeeper playing the game on the then newly-arrived Playstation console. Many sequels of the Tomb Raider have since come into the market; and the Playstation console had also seen newer generations in the PS2 and more recently the PS3. But I have long given up on the Tomb Raider series, having finished only up to Tomb Raider 4.

Then some years ago, there was a comedy movie entitled Blast From The Past, starred by Brendan Fraser. The story was about a scientist who was convinced of an impending nuclear war. He built a secret underground chamber where his family would be protected from the radiation of the nuclear bomb. It happened that a plane crashed onto his house just as he had descended into that underground chamber of his. And so the scientist, his wife and a son spent some 30 years in that chamber, not knowing that there was in fact no nuclear war at all!

When I was watching that movie, I actually said to myself, "Who in his right mind would go through all the trouble to build such an underground chamber like that?" It seemed such a silly idea to me.

But in fact it was not a silly idea after all. At least one man actually took all the trouble to build an underground chamber under his house. However, he did not build it for the purpose of protection from the nuclear war. No—he built it for the specific purpose of imprisoning a woman so that he could repeatedly rape and sexually abuse that woman for 24 years, resulting in 7 children. And of all the millions of women in this world, he chose his own daughter to be the victim. The monster has since earned an entry into Wikipedia.

Dungeons and monsters are real enough. There are times when it is difficult to tell the difference between a man and an animal.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Raw Deal

A couple of weeks ago, in a thread entitled "How Long Is Too Long?", I wrote about a research conducted to determine what people believed was the "desirable" amount of time to have sex.

That thread attracted some interesting comments from some of my fans. Amongst others, delurk said that his woman friend, who was there beside him, answered "anything more than 7" when asked "how long is too long?"

I replied that some women lost interest in sex because they always end up disappointed—that the act almost always end far too early before they're even close to reaching orgasm!

Then another fan, Teo, joined in the "discussion" and took advantage of the fact that no unit of measurement was used when quoting the answer "anything more than 7". It turned out that he interpreted "7" as referring to 7 inches rather than 7 minutes. But let's forgive Teo, folks, because treasure hunters are accustomed to thinking out of the box, you see.

Well, I still maintain that some women lost interest because of difficulties in achieving orgasm. But I did not expect that only 25% of Malaysian women "almost always achieving orgasm". In fact, I think there is something seriously wrong with the study conducted by Dr Mohd Ismail Mohd Tambi. Besides, I feel that the 1,026 Malaysians who participated in the study represented an extremely small percentage of the entire population.

What's even more surprising to me is that only 62% of Malaysian men "almost always reach climax during sex". If I were one of those who participated in the survey, I would have distorted the figure by a substantial margin, because I'd reckon my percentage closer to—if not exactly—100%!

Now I can't say for certain if my spouse actually fake orgasm like some women do, but she sure seem like achieving it much more than that miserable 25%! And if that is indeed her percentage, then that should give me more reasons to improve on the frequency! (smile)

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Formula 1

This is just to show off to my readers what I can do with my 10 fingers! Try as much as you like. Then when you have given up, email me, and I don't mind to give you some tips on how to improve!

93 words

Speed test