Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Lack of Decency

This I can't resist.

I think those who were involved in the multiple penetrations should have had the decency to at least unbind the poor fellow after all those fun. Yet another proof that too much excitement may not be good for the heart.

But at least he died in the blaze of excitement. He lived before he died! I wonder if the police found his body with a smile on his face...


Roasted Turkey, Na'vi & A Bit of Everything

Just a quick update on what I've been up to over the holidays.

I now know that a 5 - 6 kg roasted turkey costs an astronomical RM250 at The Hut. I thought that was broad daylight robbery, especially since it was partially raw on the inside. Besides, turkey isn't really my thing, you see. I prefer chicken much more than turkey, but I guess Mia treated it as a once-a-year thing.

Speaking of turkeys, I remember watching The Big Loser where Bob, the trainer, mentioned something about having just a turkey sandwich during lunch "because it's low calories and cheap." Since I'm now trying to cut down calories in an attempt to shed a few pounds for the 30km race on 17 January, I thought I'd try that formula. So off I went to Tong Hing for the turkey sandwich during lunch recently, only to find that a turkey sandwich was selling at RM18.90. Can you believe that? RM18.90 for a freakin' sandwich!

I also went to the movie The Storm Warriors—lots of special effects of kung fu fighting with swords, and all the impossible magical acrobatic and flying maneuvres. I've never been a big fan of singers acting in kung fu movies, especially if there are scenes where they have to take their shirts off to show their sissy bodies. Ewww!

I brought JJ to watch The Princess and The Frog together with her friend, Cloey. They had such a good time. Now JJ has been bugging me to buy the DVD of that movie.

Oh! I went for Avatar too. I thought the idea of the movie was quite original, and I plan to go see it a second time this weekend, hopefully with Mia this time. I'm eagerly waiting for the DVD, because this is a must-keep movie as far as I am concerned. I'm not gonna spoil the fun for those of you who haven't seen it, but suffice to say that the Na'vis look very much like the Kenyan marathoners—tall, dark and, well, dark blue.

Been keeping up with my running too. Might as well cause that can help burn off some of the Christmas calories. Did an average of 10km runs during the weekdays, and 20km - 22km on Sundays. Hopefully I have enough energy for a 25km this Sunday before tapering for the 30km race in KL on 17th January.

Mom's been away to Kuantan together with Audrey and Bridget and the rest. They made a one night visit to Genting where mom spent almost the whole time glued to the slot machines. Unfortunately, she won some money and she's now trying to arrange for another trip there before Chinese New Year.

Tomorrow is new year eve. Where have all the months gone to? Hard to believe it will be the year 2010 soon. Wishing you all a very Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Time & Its Healing Properties

It was about 35 years ago when I was a boy of 9 years old, living in my grandparents' home in Kobusak. Mom and dad were divorced, and then dad remarried a Kadazan woman. Mom left Sabah for good, while dad and his second wife went elsewhere to "work". We saw dad about once a year for a few days.

The 6 of us children were separated from one another—Audrey, Dennis and Flora went with mom; I was parked at my grandparents' (my dad's parents); Bridget to a grandaunt's; Evelyn to a granduncle's in Labuan. But later on Bridget came to join me at our grandparents'.

My childhood is not anything to shout about—it was a nightmare; it was traumatic that it's a wonder how I did not end up becoming mentally unhinged from the experience.

My grandfather was not a very pleasant man; he had a temper problem. He was born into a poor family in China about 90 years ago. He did not go to school. Then at the age of 16, he was forced to join the army. In the wee hours of the morning, he escaped by running many miles with only the shirt on his back to a relative's house. From there, he proceeded on to the coast where he boarded a tongkang. He did not have any money to pay for the passage, but he offered his services as a labourer onboard throughout the journey to Singapore. The journey took several weeks.

From working in Singapore for some years, he saved a bit of money. He then took another tongkang to follow some friends to the then North Borneo Island in the east. He landed in the town of Api-Api (now Kota Kinabalu) and eventually found his way to the small town of Beaufort where he worked as a manual labourer at the railway station. There, he met and then married a woman named Margaret Tan, a divorcee with a 4-year old son named William. Margaret was the former wife of a Japanese Officer who had to leave North Borneo when the Japanese surrendered after the Second World War. William adopted the surname of his Chinaman step-father, i.e. Koh. In the following years, Mr Koh and his wife had a dozen more children, but William was the blacksheep of the family. He was frequently abused by his stepfather.

In his early teens, William was taken away by his grandmother who looked after him until he reached adulthood. I fancy that his stepdad never agreed to that arrangement, but reluctantly had to let William go. I couldn't help but felt that my grandfather, i.e. William's stepdad, had some sort of hatred againts us, William's kids. And he took every opportunity to let it out on us. Unfortunately, dad was not a successful man, having dropped out of school after Junior Cambridge, and he had no choice but to dump us at several of his relatives'. And I was the unlucky one who ended up at my grandparents' house. Such was the background of the living hell I had to endure as a young boy.

I can still remember sobbing quietly in the dark every night before falling asleep, I don't know how much of my tears had gone into my pillow. I didn't mind the hardship, really; I didn't mind being treated like a slave, but I just couldn't stand all the beatings. At times, when I was going to sleep, I wished so much that I would not wake up again. But each time I was disappointed to wake up to live another day of living hell.

There was once when my grandfather asked me to help him repair a rotten timber wall behind the kitchen. Bear in mind that I was only 9 then. I accidentally missed the head of the nail and the nail was bent. Grandpa became angry; he pulled my hand and then used a wood of about 3"x3" thick to beat it non-stop for a long while. I couldn't use my left hand for a few days after that. As time passed, I became very angry and I developed a kind of hatred against my grandfather—the hatred that was to remain forever.

Several years later, after I grew up, I eventually escaped from the living hell. And I have never been able to forgive my grandfather since then. The memories of all those nightmares remain fairly clearly in my mind up to now.

I met grandpa irregularly over the years for obvious reason. Well, it's been 35 years since that day I blundered with the nail, and I still haven't forgiven my grandfather.

Then last Sunday, during Girlie's wedding, I met my grandfather again after some years. He's been reduced to a frail old man of 90 who could hardly walk on his own. And then I had an amazing revelation—I no longer felt the hatred against him which I've been feeling all these years. It took 35 years, but I finally found it in me to forgive this man. Truly, time has a magical ability to heal any wound, no matter how severe.


Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Girlie's Wedding

Last Sunday was Girlie's wedding party which was held at the Beverly Hotel. It was just a small gathering of about 100 people. It was scheduled to start at 7pm sharp, but of course being true to the Malaysian style, we only started at around 8pm.

Actually, the akad nikah was held last Friday. I was unable to attend, but I've seen the pictures taken during the event. Apparently my younger brother, Dennis, was one of the witnesses (saksi). I saw Evelyn in the pictures too. I can imagine she must have been a bit out of place when all those prayers were performed, since she's the only one there who's not a Muslim. So out of our siblings, A to E were there except for C (myself).

I was given to understand that everything went well during the akad nikah. Except, of course, for the part where Bridget and mom cried uncontrollably when Girlie was eventually "given away" as the wife of someone else. Don't know why cry to that extent! Women!


Girlie (Amanda Christie) is the second daughter of Bridget. Her older sister, Chaboh (Amelda Diane) was unable to attend as she had to sit for her exams in KL. In fact, she's been there for some years now. Girlie is the first of my nieces and nephews to get married. So this was a big thing. Even mom flew all the way from Vancouver, Canada to attend. Before leaving for the party, I prepared an angpow. And of course being the mischievous uncle, I couldn't help including a bit of advice on the angpow itself. Perhaps those of you who can understand Malay, would like to click on the above picture to see the message from Uncle Kong.


From left to right: Valentina (mom-in-law), Bridget, mom, yours truly, Girlie & hubby, Mia and JJ, and Patricia (sister-in-law).

We arrived at about 7:05pm and found Girlie and her groom at the reception lobby. Mom was there too. This time we had an almost complete member, A (Audrey), B (Bridget), C (Cornelius), D (Dennis), E (Evelyn), G (Grace) and H (Harry) were there. Flora was unable to make it. She's in Brunei.


I must say that it's a bit rare, but they somehow managed to set up the pelamin in the banquet hall for the upacara merenjis. And then after that, we had a group photo taken. It's quite a wonder that the pelamin could withstand our weight.


Later on, we had the karaoke session where several people took turns to sing their favourite songs. And then Dennis went up to sing, of all the songs, Only You. It was quite OK, until that part where he went, "Oh-on-ly you..." I'm sure the hair at the back of my neck stood up. But luckily the banquet hall was quite dim that night. But when he had finished singing, mom ran out and gave Dennis a hug. The rest of us watched in horror.


And then, not to forget the poco-poco dance, which I really don't know how it became almost the Malaysian culture these days. Who the hell invented this dance anyway? By the way, that huge thing in the middle of the crowd in pink is Girlie (see Uncle Kong's message on the angpow again.)


I thought it would never come, but in the end, we had the joget. And another surprise of the night—mom did the joget with Audrey's hubby, Azmi. I never knew that mom could do the joget. And of course she couldn't! I don't know what was that she did. I think it was a mixture of ballroom dancing and tango. But she completed the entire 10 minutes' worth of joget, which was quite admirable, really.

They were still happily singing the karaoke when I left at around 10:30pm. I was so tired because I did not quite catch the sleep I wanted to since the 20km run first thing in the morning.

Well, there goes Girlie—off to a good start on a married life with her policeman husband. I just hope that she won't beat up her husband too frequently. Oh! by the way, they're settling down in Pahang after all, not Terengganu. Phew!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Poll Result & Analysis—Bolded Questions

For about 2 weeks up to yesterday, I conducted a poll on my sidebar. It's regarding what's known as the "bolded questions" which sometimes appear in treasure hunts. They are basically the same as the average hunt questions except that they're much harder to solve.

The bolded questions are a common feature of some hunts, e.g. the Kiwanis Treasure Hunts in West Malaysia. The first time I encountered those bolded questions, I found it a bit strange that the points allocated for those questions were much lesser than those allocated for the average hunt questions which were easier to solve. The explanation I got from the regular hunters was that the bolded questions were designed to "level the playing field" by tempting the stronger hunters to spend too much time on some tougher questions at the expense of losing the time to solve the other easier questions.

So in the end the strong hunters may find that they're able to solve the tougher questions and gain a few points from them, but losing the opportunity to solve the easier questions because of insufficient time! And because the easier questions carry more points, the regular hunters may end up with a lower overall score against the weaker hunters.

However, I have also noticed that many strong hunters no longer fall for the trick. Many of the strong hunters are strong not only in terms of solving questions and spotting answers, but also in terms of time management. Having been a passenger in a strong team, I was able to note that the master hunters would actually forgo the bolded questions after only a short time trying to solve them! They did so because they felt that it was not worth the time investment for the small return in terms of score. In fact, they'd rather take their chances with the other route questions.

In at least one of my hunts, I experimented with the bolded questions and allocated lower points for them. I was somewhat disappointed that over 90% of the teams did not even bother about them at all!

So what usually happens is that in spite of the extra time and efforts by the setter when setting the bolded questions, they would end up not even attempted by the hunters! And that is truly a shame; I would consider that a waste! In my opinion, if more points are allocated for the bolded questions, maybe the stronger teams would be more willing to gamble on their time in return for a, hopefully, higher score in the end.

Recently, I asked some master hunters about the bolded questions. And a few of them responded that they're big fans of more points for bolded questions, not the other way round. I must say that I'm inclined to agree with them. So I decided to conduct a poll on my sidebar.

I gave 4 choices about how successful answers to bolded questions should be rewarded:

1) Lesser points than the average questions

2) Same points as the average questions

3) More points than the average questions

4) Whichever way the setter decides

Only 28 people responded to the poll, and I suspect most of them were from KK.

It is interesting that no one opted for (1), although that's the norm of hunts where bolded questions are available.

6 people or 21% voted for (2), thus indicating that that is a better way to be fair to both the strong and weak hunters. There is no extra incentive to work harder to solve the tougher questions. It means that the stronger hunter may have to spend say half an hour on a single bolded question but risk losing an easy question (because of insufficient time) and end up on par with the weaker hunter!

15 people or 53% voted for (3), suggesting that more points for tougher questions is still the most popular choice. In my opinion, it is also a logical and fair choice. Striving hard to crack a tough riddle in return for a miserable reward has never really been agreeable to me anyway!

7 people or 25% voted for (4), suggesting that they're willing to let the setter call the shots. These are probably those who challenge themselves to survive in whatever jungle they're thrown into.

However, I feel that 28 people may be too small a sample to reflect the opinions of the entire hunting fraternity.

To the KK hunters, I think you can probably guess that you'll be seeing some bolded questions in my KK Challenge 6; and the kind of system I'll be adopting for the scoring.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Mystery Of The Silver-Coloured Shoes

Mom arrived here almost 2 weeks ago from Vancouver. Apart from coming for a long holiday, she's also here for a specific purpose—she's attending my niece's wedding. Yesterday was the akad nikah, and tomorrow evening will be the wedding reception. Mom has been keeping herself busy. I fancy that she's feeling very much alive because she's directly involved in organising all the errands in connection with the wedding. She enjoys that sort of thing, you see. She likes organising things; and she enjoys organising people too. Elsewhere in this blog, I have written about mom and her peculiarities.

Come to think of it, sometimes I find mom's habits very comical. She's one of those creatures who'd check the front door at least 10 times—to make sure that it's locked—before going to bed at night. She won't be happy if something is not done exactly right. If the sofa or the dining table is slightly out of alignment, those can be a torment to her, and I suspect she won't be able to sleep well at night.

When she's planning for something big such as Girlie's wedding, she'd plan for it like months ahead. That is quite normal, of course, when talking about arranging for who to invite, where to hold the party etc. But I'm talking about planning for what to wear and what colour to wear. That's how meticulous mom is with her plans. It must be some sort of paranoia, I don't know.

Anyway, for this particular trip, she had planned long ago what to wear for the wedding reception. She saw herself in a special dress and a pair of silver-coloured shoes. Come rain or shine, nothing will make her change her mind about what to wear at the wedding reception. That is quite understandable, considering that she planned for the outfit many months ago.

And so during her visit to Las Vegas some months ago, she found the perfect pair of silver-coloured shoes just for this occasion. She set her mind on those shoes—no other shoes will do. She bought those shoes and kept it safely for several months. When she came to KK last week, she made sure that she brought those shoes along. I have a shrewd suspicion that she must have checked at least 10 times that those shoes were indeed nicely packed in her luggage.

Upon arrival in KK, she spent the first few nights at my place. Among the first few things she did in her room was to take out those shoes and arrange them nicely near the door of her bedroom. I noticed those shoes and knew there was something very special about them. But I carefully refrained from asking her. Otherwise, it would probably have taken at least half an hour for her to tell the story about those shoes in full.

After a few days, it was time for her to move to Bridget's apartment. So she again performed her packing ritual. And yes, the checking and counter-checking to make sure all her stuff were in order, including those silver-coloured shoes. She put those shoes in a plactic bag. So all her stuff went into my truck and then I brought her to Bridget's apartment.

A few days later, I got a call from mom. There was a kind of panic in her voice—something in the order of the end of the world, if you know what I mean. Apparently, those precious silver-coloured shoes have gone missing! She said she probably left them in my house—that maybe she'd forgotten to bring them along. If it's other people, it would've been easier for me to believe that. But not when it comes to my mom!

Anyway, just to make her happy, I said I will check. And so I turned my whole house upside-down in search for those forsaken shoes, but they're nowhere to be found. I then made a call to mom to tell her the bad news. Still she wasn't satisfied. She told me to check again, and while I'm at it, I might as well check my truck too. Perhaps those shoes had miraculously ended up there. So another round of turning the whole house upside-down, plus checking the truck thoroughly. Zilch! Sorry, mom, you'll just have to go buy other silver-coloured shoes in town.

Two days later, I went running the 13km at the gym after work (it was raining, so I had no choice but to run indoor), so I arrived home a bit late. Mom took the opportunity to call Mia to ask her to conduct another round of thorough search for her shoes. When I arrived home, Mia was already waiting for me at the doorstep. She said that she's been searching for the shoes in the house, but couldn't find them. And she had only my truck left to complete her search. So I let her search my truck inside-out. Nothing!

Of course my spouse and I were not very thorough in our search, so mom thought. So she wanted to make another visit to our house to search for them herself. Unfortunately, she's having such a good time organising the wedding reception that it was difficult for her to find the time for the search.

This morning, I called mom up to ask how are things coming along. She gave me a brief (yes, amazingly, mom can be brief too, sometimes) account of yesterday's akad nikah (which I was unable to attend), and then kept me updated on the latest development on tomorrow's reception. It seems that everything is going on fine. Mom is having a ball keeping herself busy! But in the end, as I had expected, we arrived at the topic of her silver-coloured shoes. The bad news is that it is now confirmed that those shoes are really not in my house. The good news is that they have been in Bridget's apartment all this while. Voila!

Well, what's the real story with those shoes, you might ask?

When she was packing her stuff to move to Bridget's apartment, she put those shoes in a plactic bag, just as I had said earlier. Upon her arrival at Bridget's apartment, she was careful to single out those shoes from the rest of her stuff. She was worried that if someone else were allowed to handle those shoes, they might go missing in the end. So to be very sure, she put those shoes in her own bedroom. But after a while, she probably couldn't stand to see those shoes lying on the floor of the bedroom, even though they were in a plastic bag. So she decided to put them aside. But put them aside to where?

Now this is the killer part. Of all the places, she chose to tie the plastic bag to the window grille. That's not too offensive to her sensitive eyes, since the shoes are hidden behind the curtain. She was very pleased with herself for finding the best and secured place for those shoes. Only trouble was that after a few days, she forgot all about that hiding place! It's something akin to the squirrel hiding the nut it finds and then forgets all about the hiding place, you see.

So after I have turned my house upside-down and inside-out several times, Audrey finally drew the curtain in Bridget's room, and then—voila!—the forsaken silver-coloured shoes still intact in the plastic bag! Now mom is really happy. And Bridget and Audrey and the rest of them are really happy too. And I suppose I should be happy for all of them too. But it will probably take a few more days for my blood pressure to come down back to normal.


Monday, December 14, 2009

Miscarriage

I'm busy preparing some materials for a talk I'm giving to a group of bankers on Wednesday. So this will be short.

This afternoon, we had power cut again during lunch. In fact, we did not have power the whole afternoon. The whole office was so hot and dark, but we were hoping that the outage would be only for a while.

I was going to the toilet, and while passing the reception lobby, there was a man at the counter. He was saying something to the receptionist, but I missed the most part of the conversation. However, I was able to catch one word; apparently the man was asking something about "miscarriage".

He was saying, "... ada miscarriage?"

I was quite surprised and wondered who had a miscarriage in my office. But I didn't stop to find out more.

It wasn't until a few minutes later when I was in the toilet doing my business when I suddenly figured out what the conversation was all about. By reflecting on the people in the office, I was able to reconstruct—this time correctly—what the man was saying:

"Ada Miss Karis?"

Karis Chong is a Registered Valuer. She's the daughter of my partner.

I felt quite silly laughing at myself in the toilet. I hope the fellow in the next cubicle won't think that I'm laughing at what I saw when I took off my pants.

I think it's about time I go to see a specialist doctor to check my ears.


Sunday, December 13, 2009

Beggars & Charitible Culture

I once visited Manila in the Philippines with Mia. It wasn't really our first choice of the places to visit. But because we had limited resources as well as very short holidays, we ended up choosing Manila. We thought it would be interesting to see the way of life and culture of the Filipinos.

Manila is a huge city—millions of people, and it would probably take quite a while to visit all the places of interest within Metro Manila alone. But we were not really keen to see all those shops and malls. Rather, we actually walked the streets to see the people there.

Amongst others, we quickly noticed that there were many, many beggars in the streets. You could see them all over the place—at the front door of the hotel, at the shops, at the malls, at the money changers, at the traffic lights. From very young children to very old people; they knocked on the windows of vehicles at the traffic lights begging for money. And when one walked the street, a bunch of them would come begging. They're very persistent people. They wouldn't let up until they got something, however little.

That was some years ago. Maybe things have changed since then, I don't know. However, from my conversations with friends who've been to Manila in recent times, things haven't really changed a lot since many years ago. Begging for money is almost a culture and way of life for many people in Metro Manila.

It's very saddening to see so many young children begging in the streets. But there isn't much they can do to improve their situation, really.

Yesterday, Mia and I were having lunch in a coffee shop in Lintas. And then suddenly 2 Filipinas walked in. One was carrying a guitar and the other had some leaflets in her hands. They went from table to table playing the guitar and singing songs. When they reached our table, I had a glimpse of the leaflets—apparently some sort of donations to be channeled to the Philippines. I waved them off with a gesture of my hand.

As a matter of habit, I usually make it a point to donate a couple of bucks to the many orphanages in Sabah and other charity organisations. There're quite a number of these donation boxes at the cashier's counters in fastfood outlets and supermarket etc all over KK. A few bucks every now and then won't really hurt my lifestyle, but may mean a lot to those desperately in need.

But I rarely would give to beggars in the streets. In fact, I am against the culture of street beggars, especially since I'm aware that some of them are richer than many people! And you just mark my word, if they are unchecked, they will quickly multiply in number. This thing about Filipino people soliciting donations in our streets shouldn't be encouraged. The relevant authorities should quickly act to stop this nonsense before it is too late.

Firstly, we're not even sure if the donations will actually reach the deserving recipients at all. These donations will go through so many hands before finally reaching, if any, the intended recipients. A lot of things can happen in "transit".

Secondly, if we are generous, why shouldn't we help our own people first. There are just too many poor people in Sabah itself. If I'm not mistaken, some families in Kota Marudu have been identified as among the poorest in the whole of Malaysia. I'm sure they need our help too. Not to mention the many orphanages and other non-governmental organisations like the Palliative Care Association etc, which are very costly to remain in existence, but yet absolutely necessary to keep going.

Finally, I don't think we should encourage the Filipinos to come to Sabah to beg from us. We can welcome them if they have something to contribute, such as skills and labour. Most developed nations have these conditions for foreigners, and it makes a lot of sense too. Let's all say no to street beggars.


Friday, December 11, 2009

Time Bomb

Mom, Bridget, Mona and Arif came to the office this morning. They arrived shortly before half past ten. When they arrived, I was in a nearby pharmacy to get something for my runny nose. I rushed back to the office and found them waiting at the reception lobby. Then I brought them to a coffee shop, since they hadn't had breakfast.

At the coffee shop, they started briefing me about the latest news surrounding the Koh family. I'm such a disappointing member of my family because I'm always the last to know about what's been going on, you see. It's not that I don't care about my siblings, but I reckon that it's less stressful to know as little as possible. With my own family, work etc, I've got enough stressful matters to worry about. Mom has been here less than a week, and she's more informed of current affairs than me. But that shouldn't be a big surprise, as she's gifted with her investigative attitude. I bet by the end of this week, she'd be a good source of information on whatever you want to know about our family.

Anyway, mom was telling me that dad had seen a doctor recently. I don't know if mom actually interviewed the doctor herself, but apparently dad's heart is now working at an approximate 28% only—whatever that means. According to mom again, a healthy human heart should ideally perform at around 88%, although it's not exactly abnormal if it performs a little less than that. I'm not sure if that number 8 was because of feng shui which mom just made up herself, or actually unmodified info from the doctor. All these info within only a few days of her arrival, mind you!

If mom's info is to be relied upon, and if I understood her correctly, dad's life is now in grave danger. He is said to be like a walking time bomb. But of course not the kind of a walking time bomb in the nature of the supporters of Osama Bin Ladin. Rather, his heart can fail anytime with fatal consequences!

I've kinda lost track of how long ago was dad's quadruple bypass (heart) surgery, but if I'm not mistaken, it must have been about 3 years ago. Or was it 4 years ago? Of course with his ongoing smoking habit (which he thought we know nothing of), practically no control of his diet against hardly any physical exercise, and unchecked blood sugar level—he's a diabetic, you see—it's quite an achievement that his heart can last this long anyway.

I heard this lately dad has been quite worried of what's to become of his 4 young kids, 3 of whom are already in school, whereas the youngest one will also start schooling soon. I think the mere fact that dad is worried about the well being of his children is quite a miracle in itself. After all, he's been telling everyone all these years that they will survive somehow; that algae can even grow on bare rocks! Actually, he has a point, and what he said about the algae is right! I'm sure he is very pleased with himself now.

Tick-tock-tick-tock...


Thursday, December 10, 2009

Conversation With JJ

When I fetched JJ from her grandma's house on Tuesday evening, she had just finished helping grandma set up and decorate the Christmas tree. And last week, before daddy and mommy left for Singapore, she helped to set up and decorate the Christmas tree in our living room. On the way home from grandma's, we had an interesting conversation.

She said: "Dad, are there presents yet at the Christmas tree at home?"

"No, Jay," I replied. "It's not Christmas yet. Santa only comes when it's really close to Christmas—usually on Christmas eve. Just be patient, Jay."

"But dad,"—she was suddenly resting her chin on my shoulder—"why is it that Santa only comes when children are asleep?" She added, "Can't he come a little earlier; before I go to sleep?"

I paused for a while before answering, "Well, you should remember that Santa has to go to so many houses before reaching ours. He has a lot of presents to deliver. That's why he arrives late."

JJ was quiet for a while.

And then she asked, "But why can't he come to our house first?"

"Because, Jay," I was beginning to run out of ideas, "all the other houses are closer to Santa's than ours."

There was a longer pause. And then the bombastic question:

"Actually, dad, there is no Santa, right?" She looked at me in the mirror, "You were the one who bought me all those presents before, weren't you?"

And by then we had arrived at our front gate, and I was able to distract her by talking about Willy, the pathetic little toad-like baby fish grandma helped her catch from the drain in Dah Yeh Villa.

Damn! that's a close one. I think mom will have to tell JJ the truth about Santa very soon. Perhaps it's for the best. After all, I don't really enjoy drinking milk and eating cookies in the middle of the night.

But it goes to show that my JJ is growing up so quickly. I hope she will take some more years from now before she starts asking the question about where babies come from. I need a long time to think of a way how to explain it all to her. Maybe I should get Mia prepared to answer that particular question.


Holidays

I resumed work today, after almost a week's break since last Friday. Oh if I could only have more of it! But then again, there isn't much I could do when I'm not working. Running the marathon in Singapore was fun, minus the disappointing performance, of course, but once I came back to KK, what I did was mainly sleep and eat.

I don't really enjoy doing window shopping, so the malls are out. I could've gone for a short visit to, say, Kundasang where I could've watched the mountain which I've seen like a million times by now. Or perhaps I could've gone to one of the islands near KK. Now that would've been interesting, because it's been some years since the last time I went to any of the islands. They used to be quite fun, but the last time I went to Manukan, I thought it was too developed—it had lost its natural beauty as far as I am concerned.

It might be interesting to visit places like Danum Valley or some other jungle resorts in Sabah. I'm sure there are interesting things to see, such as the orang utans, Sumatran rhinos and the proboscis monkeys. But that requires a bit of planning. Besides, it would be more fun and economical to travel in a group with some friends.

The week prior to the Singapore trip, Mia went to the Mulu Resort in Sarawak. She took some nice pictures of the caves. That would be a good place to visit. Perhaps I'll get Karis, our newly-elected Sports Club President, to organise a trip next year.

Yesterday, I decided to spend my day in Centre Point. I went for a foot massage, had a zinger burger and some fries at KFC, bought Merry Madagascar and Cloudy with a chance of Meatballs DVDs for JJ, then had an ice cream followed by a chocolate shake at McDonalds. Oh! I also spent a little over 2 hours watching Twilight: New Moon, a pathetic film where most of them looked so damn sickly. I probably spent an accummulated 10 to 15 minutes' worth of window shopping, and confirmed yet again that I don't enjoy doing it.

More holidays around the corner during Christmas and New Year. I really must start making plans on how I'll spend my time, apart from getting stuck to this damn computer. With about 40 days of unused leave, I plan to have more short breaks next year...

Those of you from around KK, any bright ideas?

Storm Brewing

We arrived home from Singapore late morning on Monday. After lunch, we went home and had about 2 hours' sleep. It's quite amazing how much one can sleep after the marathon!

In the evening, Mia, JJ and I went to the airport to for the grand arrival of the Canadian. Her flight from Hong Kong was on time. She was tired from the 14-hour flight. Dennis and his family, and Bridget and Mona were also there to welcome her. Evelyn was still away on holidays, I believe to China; whereas Audrey will only come from Lahad Datu this Saturday.

From the airport, I brought them all for a glorious dinner at the Waterfront Port View Restaurant. I took a few days leave up to Wednesday. So mom put up in my place until yesterday (Wednesday), before moving to Bridget's apartment in Ganang. I think by Saturday, when Audrey and her clan arrives, mom will be moving to Dennis' apartment.

So far the weather is holding steady. But I can see the storm brewing on the horizon. I think that's because not all of us are around—yet. But as I said, Audrey and Evelyn will soon be around, and I'm sure there will be plenty to talk and gossip about. In the mean time, mom has been spending quite a lot of time in Bridget's apartment. On Tuesday evening, when I arrived there, mom, Bridget and Dennis and his kids were seated around the dining table. We spent the next hour or so bringing mom up to speed on current issues, if you know what I mean. I learned quite a lot of stuff about what's been happening within my family circle this lately. Amazing how much I've missed over the last couple of months.

Chaboh has recently got engaged. But she'll still pursue her Masters and then PhD. Am impressed to see her still studying after the age of 30.

Girlie will join her husband (after her wedding), I believe in Terengganu. Or is it Pahang?

Wiwin is still jobless and still waiting for the right opportunity to come. Although there is a vacancy as a cabin crew, that is of course not to his taste. But he has at least improved in that he has now learned to smoke. I understand that he smokes cigarettes worth about RM7 per pack. He can, of course, get the smuggled ones for less than half that price, but he's not used to smoking cheap cigarettes, you see. Maybe uncle Kong should have a word with Wiwin to find out more about this smoking habit of his.

Can you feel the storm brewing?


Tuesday, December 8, 2009

40 Winks On A Train


We were on the train in Singapore first thing in the morning on our way to the airport to catch the flight home after the marathon. Having nothing to do while in the train, I decided to play with my digital camera by testing some shots to kill the time. I was wondering if I could capture the buildings in the background on my camera. My former digital camera couldn't do that because of the brighter background, you see. I'm sure it was a matter of settings, but I'm not so good with that sort of thing.

Anyway, seated in front of me, in a "PRIORITY SEAT", was a man who was sleeping. I did not pay any attention to him when I took this photo. When I uploaded the photos from the Singapore trip onto my desktop at home, I started sorting them out one by one and noticed the sleeping man.

Earlier, we had to stand up because there were not enough seats. Mia refused to sit beside the sleeping man. Now I understand why.

Actually, there is nothing wrong sitting beside a man whose fly is undone, what?


Sunday, December 6, 2009

Singapore Marathon 2009

What meant to be a record-breaking race for me turned out horribly wrong.

Stopwatch time: 0:05:02

A deficit of over 20 minutes! At the 30km mark, my right knee began to hurt again. I had to slow down. But later I had to reduce my pace to a walk. At about 38km, I was already seriously contemplating giving up because of the unbearable pain. But here's the thing about giving up: It sucks big time! And I knew that I would kick myself in the butt if I had given up. So instead, I walked for a good 5 - 6 km until I realised that I had about 2-3 km left to the finish line. Then I tried running again, but not quite successful at it.

In retrospect, I don't think it's such a clever thing to do. It felt like the right decision to make then though. I mean, I trained several months for this race. I flew all the way and spent some bucks on this trip. Giving up just seemed so wrong. But now that it's all over, I think it's a stupid thing to do. I hope I did not injure my knee permanently. And because I forced myself to run, now my ankle is also in trouble.

It's a real pity. The weather was so good, in fact I'd say perfect for record-breaking. Absolutely no excuse that I should fail today. Failure is such an ugly word. Oh I'm so tired now. I'll stop here for now. I really need to rest; I need the time to sulk on my failure. More report later. Stay tuned.




Update (8 Dec 2009):

KK to Singapore:

Saturday was quite a busy day. We arrived at the airport quite early, although not as early as Drs Helen and Liaw. When we entered the departure area, they were already there having coffee. The flight was quite pleasant, except for a slight turbulence. Silk Air gives a bit more leg space when compared to Air Asia or Mas. We more or less agreed that flying Silk Air was worth the money. I would certainly fly Silk Air again in the future.

We touched down in Singapore in the early afternoon. Then we went to the race pack collection centre directly from the airport. That was dealt with very quickly. But after that we spent a good hour or so visiting the many booths next door.

We ended up buying some stuff. By the time we reached the hotel, it was already past 5pm. We freshened up a bit and then went for an early dinner at the nearby stalls. We were back to the hotel again quite early. In fact, we were ready for bed by 9pm. That night I turned and tossed around in bed trying to sleep, but without much success. I was thinking of all the things that could go wrong the next morning.

Marathon Day:

By 3:30am, it was too late to try to sleep. I got out of bed and started getting ready for the race. A quick shower before putting on my running gears. Mia decided to come with me to the starting line although her event was scheduled to start at 6:45am. We walked to the starting line, which was only about 10 - 15 minutes away. It wasn't a very long wait. Shortly before the flag off, I lost sight of my friends in the sea of runners.

The start was a bit frustrating because there was hardly any space to run. That was more or less the case until about 10km before the runners finally began to thin out a bit. It's not so much that I wanted to (or could) run any faster than that, but it would have been more comfortable to run without rubbing elbows with other runners. Dr Liaw finally overtook me at about the 5km mark. He said "hi" and then quickly disappeared into the dark amongst the other runners.

It was probably a kilometre or two later when I finally caught up with the 4:30 pacers. Well, I wasn't really chasing after them. I was merely keeping a constant comfortable pace of about 1:05 for every 10km. The weather was perfect that morning. I was still feeling good after 20km. I was still holding my pace at the 25km point, but shortly after that, my right knee began to ache. I didn't think it would get any worse if I did not push myself beyond that pace.

I arrived at the 30km point with a 3:15 on my watch—and I was very pleased with that, as I felt I had it in me to increase the pace for the remaining 12km of the race. By then, I had begun to feel a bit of exhaustion, although still manageable. But my knee was getting worse. I decided to slow down a bit in the hope of letting my knee improve. And so, I began to lag further and further behind the pacers.

By the time I reached the 32km mark, the pain in my knee was already unbearable. A very embarrassing moment when I had to reduce my pace to a walk. In fact I walked for a good 5 - 6 km, all the time people were shouting from the roadsides, e.g. "C'mon, don't stop, you can do it, a bit more to go!" And an hour later, people were still shouting "A bit more to go!"

It was not until the last 2 -3 km when I finally tried to run again. By then, it was quite a challenge to weave through all the other thousands of runners from the other categories who were mostly walking to the finish line. Let me tell you the last few steps were such a big challenge.

I'm happy to finish the distance of course, but am so disappointed that I missed my target by more than half an hour; and off my BIM time by more than 20 minutes.

We waited some more for Helen to arrive. And then Mia and I excused ourselves to go back to the hotel first. We had shower and went down for lunch and then spent the entire afternoon catching up on sleep.

All's not lost though, Mia improved by about 5 minutes to finish her 21km in 2:30! And later on, I found out that Dr Liaw achieved 4:04, an amazing improvement of about 22 minutes from his 4:26 in the BIM in October, and almost an hour ahead of me! Now I really need to do something to close up the gap!

So what next? I will still aim to achieve the 4:30 one way or another. Probably not in the BIM 2010 though. Helen and Liaw are looking at Gold Coast and Penang Bridge for 2010. Bring it on!


Upon arrival at the Kota Kinabalu International Airport.

From left:

Judy Liew (Full Marathon)—5:21
Dr Helen Lasimbang (Full Marathon)—5:40
Yours truly (Full Marathon)—5:02
Euphemia Thien (Half Marathon)—2:30
Dr Liaw Yun Haw (Full Marathon)—4:04
Bhavani (Half Marathon)—2:45


Saturday, December 5, 2009

Singapore Marathon—Final Hours


Well, this is it, folks! Finally I'm all set for the 42km tomorrow morning beginning from 5:30am. It was such a pleasant experience at the race pack collection centre this afternoon. We went there directly from the airport. It took me merely 2 minutes to get my race pack. Amazing efficiency!

I kinda like the bib with my name printed on it. After collecting our race packs, we spent some time going through the many booths next door to see the many health products on sale. I ended up buying a race belt which I plan to run with tomorrow. In it I can store up to 6 power gels. I tried it on and it didn't feel like it's gonna bounce too much. Actually, it's not such a good idea to try something new immediately prior to the actual event. But I'll take my chances with this belt.

Maybe it's just me, but I somehow feel that I'm not sufficiently prepared for tomorrow's run. I'm still targeting to run 0:04:30, but even if I can't do it, I hope I will at least improve by a couple of minutes over the 0:04:40 I did in the Borneo International Marathon in October.

Well, I'll try to sleep early tonight. I doubt that I can fall asleep very early though. Actually, if I can get 4 - 5 hours of solid sleep, I'd be really happy. Somehow, the excitement is not easy to contain, you see.

There will be more to tell tomorrow, I'm sure. Praying for the marathon god to give me the best running condition. Keeping my fingers crossed.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Sex Out Of Wedlock

If I'm not mistaken, sex out of wedlock is a sin for most, if not all, religions. In Malaysia, it seems that Muslims who indulge in sex out of wedlock are liable for a fine, or jail term, or both under the Syariah Law of the country. I'm not sure if that law and its punishments are applicable to all the states in Malaysia, although I think they probably are. But even if they're not, my guess is that there is only very slight differences in the law, such as the amount of the fine or the duration of the jail term.

But we're all humans after all and not immune from making mistakes. In the heat of the overpowering passion, some of us may well fall prey to lust; and during that moment nothing else in the world would seem more important than acting on that lust. But later, when it's all over, then the regrets set in; and of course the fear of punishment and shame. Worse, there are other side effects such as getting pregnant.

What would you do in such a situation?

Some people would choose to abort. And again, if I'm not mistaken, abortion is also a big sin in all religions. Many people I've spoken to consider abortion the same as committing murder. Yet, because of the fear of punishment and shame, many people would take their chances with abortion. They can worry about dealing with God later—they have to deal with the immediate problems first.

Some people, being afraid of committing a second sin by going through an abortion, would opt to go into hiding for the duration of the pregnancy. And then after the delivery, the child is put up for adoption etc. No one else outside the family circle should know about the mistake.

But some people are brave to face the music. They may take a bit of time to think things over, but in the end would decide to get married, and hopefully remain married forever and become good parents to the child. Such was apparently the decision this couple made. Only trouble was that they took far too long to decide, and was only married barely 24 hours before the baby's delivery. Because of that, they have attracted the attention of the Religious Department. Accordingly, they can now be sentenced to a fine of RM30,000 or jail for 24 months or both if convicted.

If that is the law of this country, there is nothing much I can say about it. Pleading ignorance to the country's laws is not exactly a good defence. I'm sure I've read somewhere that a girl in another Islamic country who was guilty of having sex out of wedlock was stoned to death. So I suppose a fine and jail term are just like a slap at the back of the hand!

However, I'm attracted to this line in the news report:

"He said the woman’s family was aware of her pregnancy and still allowed the solemnisation of her marriage."

When I read the above sentence, I thought to myself, "Well, what else was the family supposed to do then?"

Would it have been a better choice if the family did not allow the marriage to proceed? Or is there anything in the Quran that is against pregnant women getting married?

I would be pleased if any of my Muslim readers would be so kind to enlighten me on this issue. If indeed the Quran is against pregnant women getting married, is there any reason(s) given for such rule?


Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Interrogation Time

Commenting on the recent High Court decision that the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) could only interrogate witnesses during office hours, the Inspector-General of Police, Tan Sri Musa Hassan said, inter alia, the following:

"Time is of the essence to us and not being able to question witnesses after a crime has occurred especially after office hours will result in the criminals escaping, destroying evidence or worse still, threatening or harming the witnesses. If certain people want the crime rate to go up, then by all means go ahead but do not blame the police for wanting to do their job." [The Star]

He also said that the police are well-versed with the law on the questioning of witnesses as well as on lock-up rules.

However, the IGP has forgotten that knowing the law well doesn't really guarantee anything if his men are not going to abide by them. That the police have the habit of abusing their powers is not exactly news to us.

We have too many people beaten up while in the legal custody of the police, and some of them died because of that. We have had police bringing in teenage girls for questioning, but ended up raping them instead. We have had in the past even the IGP himself beating up a prisoner. He did it in a most cowardly fashion too by instructing his men to blindfold the prisoner first. Not to mention policemen shooting an unarmed woman twice in the head before blowing her up into pieces with explosives.

Now this may come as a surprise to Tan Sri Musa, but many of us rakyat don't really have very high regard of the police force in Malaysia. In fact, some of us are afraid for our lives when dealing with them!

The IGP's excuse is a red herring. If indeed the police is afraid of suspects escaping, they can always arrest them first and can still do the interrogations during office hours. While in custody, these suspects won't be able to harrass their victims.

At any rate, I think the main concern for limiting the interrogations to office hours is mainly for the witnesses, not the crime suspects. The MACC has repeatedly said that the victim who died was not a suspect, but a witness. I can't see the urgency of the interrogation that it had to be done up to the wee hours of the morning. That is such an inhumane way to treat a witness. If that is their idea of performing their job well, no one would ever come forward to be witnesses.

But if it is indeed true that some of these witnesses prefer to be interrogated after office hours, then yes, the police should make themselves available to do their job.

I think it is wrong to say that if the police are not allowed to carry out interrogations after office hours, crime rate will rise. We should all seriously doubt the wisdom of the person who made such a statement.

I fully support the High Court decision to limit the MACC's interrogations to office hours, and I look forward to the day when the same order is made to the police force.


Monday, November 30, 2009

Seeing Is Believing; Believing Is Seeing

I was discussing and debating a religious issue in another blog. Maybe I asked too many questions up to the point that it became too hard to reason things out with this stubborn man. But as usually is the case with religious people, it boils down to faith. And I raised the question if one should simply accept what's contained in the holy books solely on faith, without seeking justifications for the teachings?

This was the reply I got from a fellow commenter in that blog:

"You're right Cornelius that justifications arent necessary coz I feel that Man will only feel justified only when he hears what he wants to hear. I also feel that we see only the things we want to see. And there will always be people who may/are/will not or do not want to be able to see certain considerations. There's nothing much anyone can do really except pray that insyaallah, they will one day."

Actually, the above response is very true. In fact so true that it is equally applicable for the religious people too. When one believes in something, he will see only that something, and probably will be blind to all other things no matter how glaringly clear they are. But of course the person who gave that comment above probably does not realise that he, too, sees only what he wants to see.

I can still remember a trip up Mount Kinabalu many years ago with some religious friends. It was a beautiful day with only some patches of cloud in the sky that day. High on the mountain at Laban Rata, my friends gathered together and excitedly pointed to the sky. I was seated on a sofa, resting my legs, but couldn't control my curiosity to know what the commotion was all about. So I went out to join them.

Well, it turned out that they were excited because they saw "Mother Mary" in the sky.

I said, "Really?... Where?"

One of them pointed to a bunch of cloud in the sky that appeared—if seen from a certain angle—something like the shape of a woman. That then was "Mother Mary", the mother of Jesus Christ.

A couple of weeks ago, there was a news article about a man who thought he saw something which appeared like the image of Jesus on the window of his truck. He said he wasn't gonna wash his truck for a while. So that is a good excuse I could use one of these days. When I am lazy to get my car washed, I can say Jesus is on my window.

And today, I found yet another article about people seeing the image of Jesus, this time at the bottom of an electric iron. And because the image was there, it meant that the owner of that iron has reassured herself that "life is going to be good".

This is the photo of the famous electric iron.


Can you see Jesus there? Honestly, I can only see some dark-coloured residue at the bottom of the iron, but maybe some of my religious readers can see Jesus there.

But seriously, can anyone tell me what Jesus really looked like?


Singapore Marathon—Countdown

Well, it's less than a week to go to the Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon this Sunday. How time flies!

I did my last "long run" yesterday morning—a mere 13km. I arrived at the Likas track at almost 7am. By then the SMC doctors, Peter, Helen and Liaw, were almost done with their runs. Andrew Voon was also there. I started running a bit later then usual partly because I overslept, and partly because it's according to my plan. I sort of wanted to get my body accustomed to the morning heat, since we will be starting at 5:30am in Singapore. It is hard to imagine that we are gonna be able to escape the heat.

Oh! Judy was there at the track too. But she did only several laps. She said she had a good excuse because she just ran the Penang Bridge International Marathon recently. Yeah, that's quite a long run! I have a feeling that she'll beat me real bad in Singapore. But then again, I have an excuse since I'm running in the vateran category (smile).

Mia did not do her long run last Sunday. Instead she and her colleagues went to Mulu in Sarawak. Sounds like an interesting adventure, and I am now tempted to make a visit too. Well, I'll probably get our sports club to organise a trip next year.

I'm a bit worried that I still felt rather tired running that 13km; and my right knee has also been acting up right now. However, I'm reducing my distances even further this week leading to Sunday. Tomorrow I'll do a mild 5km. Then another two sessions of 3.5km each before Sunday. That, I hope, can help to rest my legs for the major challenge on Sunday.

We're all set to fly to Singapore on Saturday morning, and by the time we get to the race pack collection centre, there will probably be a very long queue. Time will be quite tight, as we should be in bed by 10pm at the latest, though I seriously doubt that we can fall asleep that early.

Although it doesn't seem to be very promising, I still want to try my best to conquer the 42km within 0:04:30. I hope to report some good news when we arrive home next Monday.


Saturday, November 28, 2009

Ads In The Blog

It took me more than 2 years, but I finally spent the few minutes to actually work on adding advertisements in this blog!

I'm not very good with all these internet stuff, so adding something new to my blog is quite a big achievement, you know! I didn't think that I would make tons of money from the advertisements in this blog; and I still don't. Which also explains why I've been putting it at the bottom of my priority list all this while. Maybe I should start thinking of changing the template and insert a nice picture for the title of this blog; and perhaps add links of other blogs etc., so as to make this blog more "complete" and "professional-looking"? But the trouble is that I'm worried that I will mess things up to the extent that I'm unable to find my way back! Yes, that's one major problem I'm facing in spite of having been blogging for over 2 years now.

Over the last 2 years since this blog came into existence, I've had several of my loyal readers who suggested some modifications to this blog, e.g. adding advertisements, links to other blogs and some other fancy stuff like chatbox on my sidebar. Some have also suggested that I create my own paid website. But they have all since given up hope on me. It's not that I'm being unsporting; rather it's mainly due to the attitude of "playing safe". If only you knew that I spent several weeks just to figure out how to put that "Recent Comments" on my sidebar, then you'd know how hopeless I am with all these technical stuff! Ordinarily, I am not such a stupid person—I swear!

Incidentally, a friend of mine wrote to me recently, saying that I have now surpassed my 500th post. To be quite honest, I wasn't even counting. Maybe this calls for some sort of celebration, but I haven't thought of one yet. Perhaps after I'm done with the Singapore Marathon next Sunday; and after setting the ISM Hunt for January, then I will have some free time to think of something.

This reminds me of the new cellphone I bought a couple of weeks ago—the Nokia N97. Before this, I had a Nokia N70 which was a pretty good phone. I was using that N70 for a good 2 years until it started failing on me. I reckoned that repairs would've cost quite substantial, so I decided maybe this was a good excuse to buy a new one.

Anyway, to make the long story short, I bought the N97 and it's been serving me quite well so far. Except that I can't help thinking it is way beyond my ability to operate. With a 32G memory space, and an additional 2G memory card, 5 megapixel camera which I don't really need, and so many other features which I have no idea of their purposes, I don't know why I bought this particular phone. I suppose if I tried very hard to learn all the available features on the phone, maybe I would be able to cover about 10% in 6 months' time. But even that might be too ambitious. Later today, I'll be going to City Mall for my weekly foot massage. I will stop by Starbucks and try to surf the net via my phone. That is provided I can figure out the way how to do it to start with.

Coming back to this blog, I'm quite pleased with myself for having successfully put the ads on my sidebar and between the posts. But somehow they don't look very normal to me. Maybe I need to do something else to make it more "normal". So I would welcome suggestions from my readers who're also bloggers. After that, I should seriously start reading that part about how this thing can actually generate incomes!


Friday, November 27, 2009

Benefits Of Blog-Hopping

I've been spending quite a lot of time going blog-hopping over the last couple of days, and been discussing and debating on several interesting issues. One such discussion was on the subject of female circumcision—whether it is Islamic. I find it very rewarding to follow such discussions and debates because my curious mind can just feed on the mass of information found in these forums.

For example, I now know that it is possible to reconstruct a severed clitoris. Before this, I had no idea that this was possible at all. And it fits all too well with human nature too—it is so like us to destroy the things we have naturally; and then we'd go through so much trouble to get back those things we've destroyed.

Such discussions are not always possible in Malaysia because of several reasons. Firstly, female circumcision is considered a sensitive subject. The vast majority of Muslims in Malaysia still do it because it is considered a religious requirement. Most Muslim women went through it because there were told it is necessary by the scholars.

Secondly, in Malaysia many people won't dare to raise questions about religions, because the person raising those questions may find himself in hot soup for causing "confusion". Otherwise, the mere act of asking questions may be construed as blasphemy. Even the great Tun Dr Mahathir himself was criticised when he raised some interesting questions about Islam in his blog.

Finally, I don't believe that Malaysians are able to discuss these things honestly. Many of them are influenced by others, and their answers or opinions are always based on information they got from someone else. That said, however, some of them are honest in their answers, so at least that's a comfort.

Anyway, I found it interesting that someone suggested that female circumcision is done to ensure that the girl does not engage in pre-marital sex. I argued that the hymen is already doing the job of indicating virginity. I'm not going to repeat what transpired in that forum, but those of you who're keen to know, please follow the link above.

Speaking of the hymen, it's quite a coincidence that just a few days ago, it's been reported in The Star (quoting China Press) that Vietnamese women are opting for artificial hymen insertion in Johor before marrying Malaysian men. So heads up, guys, be careful with your virgin new brides from Vietnam. These days we have lots of fake merchandises in the market.

I want to share with my readers a strange coincidence while I was trying to post a comment about "hymen" in the other blog. All comments there are moderated and commenters would have to key in "WORD VERIFICATION" when commenting. Those words are mostly meaningless random letters in no particular order. But what I got for that particular comment was this:


Scary, huh?

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Tempting The God

When I was still in my twenties, I used to play a lot of badminton. I would play between 3 to 4 times a week without fail. I loved the game from my schooling days. But then I injured my right knee. A doctor I consulted put it quite prettily—the problem was mainly due to wear and tear. According to him, a possible remedy was to operate on the knee. It was not a very intrusive procedure; he used the layman term "keyhole" surgery. But that would've put me out of action for at least 6 months.

I reckoned that even if I decided for the surgery, I wouldn't have been able to play the singles (which I loved) for very much longer beyond the age of 30. And since I did not suffer any pain if I stayed away from badminton, I opted against the surgery. And that was pretty much the end of my hobby.

Since then, I've given up badminton totally. But the good news is that I've embarked on other hobbies which are also interesting and enjoyable. However, every now and then I still follow the news about the sports of badminton, though I must admit that these days I'm very much out of touch of the badminton world.

I had an interesting chat with a friend at a coffee shop recently. We were talking about our Malaysian doubles pair, Koo Kien Kiat and Tan Boon Heong. Normally, I am not a big fan of the doubles games in badminton. But the Koo-Tan pair is a bit of an exception because they have achieved quite a big feat in the world scene. They have been the world top-ranked pair, and if I am not much mistaken, they still are now.

I was quite amused by my friend's opinion about this Malaysian pair. He said, they were supposed to be the top pair in the world, not only in terms of ranking, but in real terms such as being the unbeatable pair the world over. The fact is this pair haven't been winning a lot of tournaments in recent years. They've been performing quite impressively to reach many advanced stages in tournaments all over the world (hence the high ranking). Yet they lost more times than winning.

In particular, Koo Kien Kiat did very well in 2006 and 2007. He seemed to take the badminton world by storm back then. He won quite a number of tournaments and swiftly rose to the top of the world ranking.

Koo is quite a fashionable young man. I can still remember seeing his coloured hair, and I said "wow!" to myself. Apparently, his hair meant a lot to him. But then one day, prior to a game in the finals, he made a stunning announcement. When he made that announcement, he was on an unbelievable winning streak. They looked so invincible, they practically bulldozed their way over all the top pairs in the world to win one game after another in succession! He said if he could win that game too, and hence the tournament, he would shave his head!

Then indeed they emerged champion for that tournament. And I think the whole of Malaysia was waiting to see his bald head. Days passed, still nothing. Weeks passed, still nothing. In the end, he cut his hair very, very short, but not bald. When asked why didn't he keep his promise, he said he had some kind of skin problem which prevented him to shave his head totally. I was thinking, if he knew that he had such skin problem, then why make that promise in the first place? Was that some kind of media stunt?

Anyway, if anyone had noticed, they went more or less downhill from then on. Of course they still won some more tournaments after that, but somehow lost the momentum which appeared so fantastic. From such a formidable pair, they suddenly turned into something quite at par with the other strong players from other countries.

My friend was saying that Koo was tempting the God when he made the promise to shave his head. And when the God gave him that victory, he did not keep his end of the bargain. And so he was punished. My friend said it's a good lesson—never tempt the God by making a promise you're not willing to keep!

Last week, Koo, together with his partner, Tan, reached the finals of yet another major tournament. And again they failed to win that tournament. I'm not a superstitious person, but maybe there is some truth in what my friend said, huh?


Friday, November 20, 2009

Man Woman



What makes a woman a woman?

Her body organs and how they function?

Her mind?

The shape of her body?

If a woman trains her body and achieves the physique and strength of a man—or even more than that of a man—does that make her less of a woman and more of a man?

Or how about if she cuts off both her breasts and nipples. Does that automatically turn her into a man?


Thursday, November 19, 2009

Mountains Ahead

JJ received her report card on Tuesday. The good news is, she didn't get first, just as I had expected. So we don't have to buy her a kitten after all. In St James, she'd probably need to get something like at least 99% average score to have a shot at the top of the class. Well, JJ only managed an average of 94.75%, so she was only able to edge a bit from 8th to 7th in her class. However, when taking the entire primary 1 students into account, JJ got 52nd from a little over 200 students. Still a lot of room for improvement. Overall, I'm happy to note that JJ had improved from 20th during her first exams up to 7th.

Her mommy though is getting all worked up about JJ still not achieving at least top 5 in her class. Quite honestly, I don't know why all the excitement. 94.75% is perfectly fine as far as I am concerned. If she can keep her grades above 90% I would be a very happy daddy. But of course if she can get into the top 5 in her class with that score, that would be even better!

Many of my friends who really know me would know that I am not particularly concerned about brilliant exams results. I'm not saying it's not a good thing. If my child can achieve 100% in her exams, I would be pleased. However, experience have taught me that not all of these brilliant kids can do well when they finally reach the job market. The practical aspect has more or less been left out from the education systems. Quite often those who didn't do too well in school can end up becoming more successful when they leave school.

If I can develop the thinking habit in JJ, I would consider that as more of an achievement than, say, 12 As in the SPM, though again if she can also get those 12 As, that would be nice too.

Today, Mia went to JJ's school to buy some new books for next year, i.e. primary 2. And this evening, after completing her run at the gym, she rushed home, had dinner and shower; and then embarked on scrutinising what's in store for JJ in primary 2.

When I went in for a bath, Mia was already comfortably sitting in bed with all the books around her. By the time I got out of the bathroom, Mia was already prepared to report her findings to me. If at the beginning of this year (primary 1) her main concern was Chinese—and Chinese was the subject that pulled JJ down to 20th in class during the first term—this time it seems that the major concern is with Bahasa Malaysia (BM).

Mia is a bit worried after reading a few pages of JJ's text book. She said the standard is just too high for primary 2. She read some paragraphs aloud and kept shaking her head. I have a feeling that Mia won't be able to help JJ very much in BM. For a person like Mia who's Malay is quite comical at times, I can imagine why she's worried. I mean, her standard is so low to the extent of translating "big shame" to "besar kemaluan" in Malay. So you can understand what she's feeling now.

I foresee that I will be spending a bit of time to help JJ with her BM next year. Luckily I know the language as if it's my first language. I am very much at home with BM. But I can expect that JJ will be struggling because she has very little foundation in the language. That's probably because we've been speaking almost exclusively English with her since she started to talk, and then a bit of Mandarin when she started school.

So JJ has a lot of work to do in Primary 2. Perhaps extra tuition classes can also help. And beyond that there will be many more mountains to scale in the years ahead.

In the mean time, Mia has already embarked on finding the best formula for JJ to break into the top 5 in class. And I am constantly reminding her not to make this about her. Let's not forget that we want JJ to do well in her studies, first and foremost, for herself—not for us. We're only here to help if we can. Mia said that goes without saying. But why am I not convinced?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Chicken & Duck In The Office

When a Malay speaks to a Malay, he will speak in Malay. When a Chinese speaks to a Chinese, he will speak in Chinese. But when a Chinese speaks to a Malay, what language will be used?

In Malaysia, the national language is Bahasa Malaysia, which is actually Malay which has been "Malaysianised". Bahasa Malaysia is widely used in most Government offices throughout the nation. But in the private sector, English still prevails, both in the spoken and written sense.

However, sometimes it is difficult to use solely English when speaking to some people because they're simply unable to speak the language. So there will be times when Malay is used instead. But not everybody is well versed in Malay too, so some people have no choice but to speak a mixture of English and Malay.

In my office recently:

Chicken: "Bikin dua copy" (Make two copies).

Holding a piece of document and speaking to the office girl.

Duck: "OK..."

And then a little while later, the duck comes back with two cups of coffee.

To those who still don't know it, COFFEE is KOPI in Malay.


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Singapore Marathon—Tapering

Well, it's less than 3 weeks to the Singapore Marathon. Last Sunday, I ran my peak long run of 35km. I ran much slower than all the other long runs before that, and I finished those 35km within 0:04:10. I am quite pleased with myself, but what's bothering me now is that even at such a slow pace, my legs were still sore for 2 days after that. Obviously that's not a good sign, and I'm running out of ideas on how else to run the 42.2km under 0:04:30.

The good news, however, is that my short runs during the weekdays are still holding steady at the usual pace, i.e. about 6 minutes or less per kilometre. And earlier this evening, I ran the scheduled 9km within 54 minutes even though my legs were still a bit sore. I have no idea how I'm gonna do the 6.5km pace run tomorrow, but hopefully after tonight's rest, my legs will be better tomorrow. Then another 8km on Thursday. This Sunday, I'm so glad that the long run will be reduced to 20km only, so I should be able to survive that quite comfortably. Besides, I don't have to wake up a 4am.

The tapering process is such a relief! Next week, I will cut down my distances even further to 6.5km, 5km, 6.5km and 13km (Sunday). But as I get closer to the actual marathon, there is that anxiety again. I had intended to improve on the 0:04:40 I achieved during the recent Borneo International Marathon (BIM) in October. But from my runs this last week or so, I did not feel that I have it in me to do any better in Singapore. For one thing, I have a feeling the weather in Singapore will be much hotter than what we had in KK during the BIM. And in terms of speed and stamina, I can't say that I have improved since October. So in all likelihood, I will be struggling even to maintain that 0:04:40!

Several of us from KK will be there in Singapore. Dr Helen and Dr Liaw will be there, the latter apparently all set to achieve 0:04:15 this time. Dr Helen, as usual, will be running for the sake of running and not for the time. Judy Liew will be there too, and I hope she'll give me face by not beating me too badly. Johan Amilin will be there for the half marathon, and so will Claire Andrew and Mia. Oh! and Dr Felice Huang will also be running the 42km, though I really can't imagine how she's gonna complete it. I hardly ever see her doing her long runs. She turned up last Sunday for her long run, but had to leave after only 20km because she had a scheduled C-section on her patient that morning. So quite a number of us freak runners from the East.

Now the next thing to do is to find out where we should go and celebrate after the marathon. That should be exciting to look forward to. Johan, I think this is where you come in!


Manhunk

From today's The Borneo Post (click on picture for clearer view):


The above are those who aspire to be the next supermodel and manhunk (who on earth came up with this weird word anyway?). These are only from the first "Tawau selection of the Sabah Supermodel & Manhunk Search." So I suppose there will be many more people from all over the country getting selected soon.


I wouldn't dare to comment on the women in the picture. I guess at my age, most young women would look sexy and beautiful.

I don't know about you all, but these men don't look like "hunks" to me. If anything, they look more like sissies.

But what is a "hunk" anyway? Well, here's the meaning of the word according to my Oxford English Dictionary 6th edition:

hunk: noun. 1 a large piece cut or broken from something larger. 2 informal a strong, sexually attractive man.

So we can safely assume that we're referring to the second meaning above. I just wonder if by "sexually attractive man", it means sexually attractive in a feminine way.