Friday, January 30, 2009
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
When I comment on hunt questions and answers, I usually proceed directly for the "kill". Having commented on so many questions by numerous CoCs, I have been the subject of criticism myself. Some people actually gave me interesting nicknames; some actually making fun of my obsession in grammatical accuracy; some questioning my authority in criticising questions by the masters and grandmasters. Well, I am a nobody! I readily admit that I am new to this sport. And more importantly I also admit that I am vulnerable to make the same mistakes too! I just hope that I won't commit too many of them.
Before I go into the analysis of some of the questions in HRU Challenge #2, I must declare that I admire Marsha's hunting skill—she is most certainly one of the best in the business. Perhaps if I continue hunting, I might be able to reach her level of expertise in 10 years' time, if not more. She is without doubt a figure to be reckoned with in the sport treasure hunt.
Now it is human nature to take the side of the champion instead of a nobody, so I can expect many of you would disagree with my analysis. And perhaps because of that, I should refrain from commenting. But that would be somewhat inconsistent with what I have been doing since I started commenting in the Riddle Raiders Blog. There have been occasions when I felt some of you did not want me to comment, but on the other hand I have been receiving special requests for me to comment, even for hunts which I did not join.
I'd like to reiterate that whenever I comment, it's not meant to be personal. I happen to know some of these CoCs personally; in fact, I consider them good friends. My comments are not meant to be criticisms; rather they're discussions in the hope that we can all come up with a certain level of consistency and accuracy in hunt questions and solutions.
So here goes nothing...
First, I need to repeat a bit of what I have written in a past post. It was in one of Mike's hunts—the Be An Angel Beautiful Gate Hunt—that I came across an interesting question:
Q) Painkillers have strength
The intended answer was one of those small words on a main sign which my team failed to spot. Instead we gave "CM Power". During the answer presentation, Mike announced that he accepted "CM Power" too. Later, when I was blogging about this question, I attempted to garner support for "CM Power" against "Numbers".
Mike's explanation was that "Numbers" are things that numb (the nerves), hence "Painkillers". And you know the phrase—you have strength in numbers. But because we were unable to spot "Numbers" during the hunt, we chose "CM Power" instead, because:
PAINKILLERS = NUMBERS
NUMBERS = C & M (Roman numerals)
STRENGTH = POWER
Unfotunately, Master Teck Koon pointed out the flaws in my argument (yes, I make mistakes too!). He agreed that PAINKILLERS = NUMBERS; and NUMBERS = CM. But PAINKILLERS are not CM. He went on the give another example—that TULIP = FLOWER; and FLOWER = RIVER (cryptically). But TULIP is not RIVER! I had to reluctantly admit my mistake and conceded defeat. Sometimes one has to be brave to admit his mistakes.
Perhaps because of "common practice" in the hunting fraternity, the above problem has the tendency to crop up again and again occasionally. One such example was in the first online challenge in A Hunter's Tale. Check out this question:
Q) Ibu negara yang sah
A) Viki Lim
IBU NEGARA = LIMA (Capital City of Peru)
LIMA = V (Roman numeral)
SAH is the reversed of HAS, and HAS = MILIKI
So V + IKILIM (MILIKI reversed) = VIKI LIM
Adopting the same argument, we can agree that IBU NEGARA = LIMA; and LIMA = V. But IBU NEGARA is not V.
And now we come to Q13 of the HRU Challenge #2:
Q13) Expedition to discover oil is of primary importance here.
The solution, according to Marsha, lies mainly in word substitutions. First, one has to substitute "expedition" to "trip". Then on account of "discover" as the anagram indicator, to convert "oil" to "oli". Then convert "of primary importance" to "capital" (and this was the word I failed to find). After that, to rephrase (simplify) the clue like this:
In (2) above, we are looking for a place where TRIPOLI is the capital (city), i.e. the meaning has changed substantially because of the word substitution.
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Sunday, January 18, 2009
The Barisan number two said the coalition would not be disheartened and would embark immediately on measures to win back the confidence of the people."
Saturday, January 17, 2009
Then I thought of an article I wrote some years ago—I wrote it to a religious friend in the hope that he'd be able to shed some light on the issues raised. At the same time, I also posted that article in a blog somewhere, although I can't remember where exactly. As I said, I wrote the article some years ago.
It suddenly occured to me that since I now have my own blog, I might as well post the article here for your reading pleasure. It took me a while to trace back where I saved this article—in the end I found it in one of my 3 pendrives. Perhaps some of you might even be able to provide me with a viable explanation?
According to the Bible, all but a few of the living things in the world were once killed by the great flood. Those very few who survived were Noah and his immediate family members, along with male and female pairs of all the animals in the world. This is the story of Noah and the Ark. This imaginative story is very interesting, but I’d like to hear opinions on some of the finer aspects of it.
(i) Size & Design
The Bible is very specific about this particular piece of information. The Ark was built like this: 450ft long; 75ft wide; 45ft high. It is to accommodate 3 floors, i.e. lower, middle and upper decks (Genesis 6.15). I would imagine that a few thousand years ago, it would have been quite a major construction project! Nothing was actually mentioned on the navigational equipment, so it is possible to argue that for the sake of saving space on board, the absence of a bridge where Noah was able to carry out navigational tasks. It is hard to imagine how a 450-footer could have accommodated all the animals in pairs, not forgetting numerous species and sub-species, even after allowing for the 3 floors on board. Of course a pair of elephants, for example, would have occupied so much space. And there are other huge animals too. Furthermore, some animals are accustomed to certain ranges of temperatures for survival—some require cold environment, while others require warm climate etc.
Can anyone with ship-building expertise shed some light on the above scenario?
(ii) Food & Water Storage
Nothing was mentioned on clean water and food storage capacity, bearing in mind that the Ark was to be floating for almost a year. I’m not forgetting that some animals—for example, bears—might have hibernated during the flood, and hence required little food. However, the vast majority of the animals are not hibernating animals. They needed daily ration of food and water. My best guess is that the water and food required for so many animals and some humans for all those months would have been quite a lot, so storage/ration of water and food would have been a tricky problem.
Taking the population of the Ark into account, I’d say at least several tons of food would have been required on a daily basis. But I must admit that I haven’t gone into detailed analysis and calculations on the actual amount of food/water required. I wonder if it is possible to determine the amount. Anyway, logically speaking, quite a large space would have been required for storage purposes.
And then even if the storage situation could be solved somehow, one wonders on the preservation of these foods. Of course fruits and vegetables have very short shelf lives in the supermarkets in spite of modern technologies like refrigerators etc. I suppose it is safe to rule out canned food at that time. So it would be interesting to know how these foods were preserved for an entire year in the Ark.
(iii) Construction Materials & Duration
Now assuming that Noah had the expertise on such an undertaking, I wonder the duration for the completion of the project. I suppose his family members must have helped him, but it was still a huge undertaking. In my opinion, it might have taken several years, if not several decades to complete. This should not be a big mystery, since apparently people lived to be several hundred years old those good old days. So several decades wouldn’t have been an issue. Then there was the question of building materials, the most significant must have been the supply of ‘good’ wood (Genesis 6.14). Considering the size of the Ark, it must have required a lot of wood.
Just to expand a little bit on the construction material, namely wood, it is interesting to know just how long it would take an average person to chop down a tree and then saw the log to turn it into sawn timber. Of course there was no motorized round saw at the time, so all the cutting and sawing would have had to be done manually. Therefore, it would have taken quite a long time just to get all the sawn timber ready, let alone to actually getting down to building the ship.
If indeed it took decades to complete the project, I wonder how long a sawn cypress wood could last. One can’t help wondering if the wood would rot long before the Ark was completed.
Working out the space of 450ft x 75ft x 3 floors, gives an approximate 101,250 sq. ft floor space (ignoring the thickness of the walls/partitions). That is equivalent of about 2.3 acres, give and take. And that is assuming the Ark was just a square box. Obviously if it wasn’t a ‘box’ then the space on board would have been even lesser; maybe substantially lesser. Anyway, the point I’m trying to make is, space would have been very, very limited on board. Congestion problems must have prevailed throughout all those months during the flood. I asked a friend who worked in a zoo for some years, if it’s possible for all the pairs of animals in the world to fit into an area of 2.3 acres, bearing in mind that a substantial portion of that space was for the storage of food and water. After considering for a short moment, he gave the expected answer—NO.
How was the ventilation problem solved? Since we are talking about living animals, all would require air to breathe. Nothing in the Bible indicates any ventilation system, although there was a mention of a space of 18 inches between the roof and the sides of the boat (Genesis 6.16). Maybe that was where fresh air got into the Ark. But those of you who are familiar with building construction would know that for such a large floor space, it is necessary to have some sort of ventilation system, eg. using fans to facilitate the flow of air. Moreover it is also unclear where those animals on the lower decks got their air for breathing. Perhaps what’s even more mind-boggling was that apparently all the windows were closed during the flood (although this was not specifically mentioned). Only after months floating in the flood did Noah open a window he had made in the Ark (Genesis 8.6).
After the Flood
The water kept going down, and on the first day of the tenth month the tops of the mountains appeared (Genesis 8.5).
Meanwhile, Noah sent out a dove to see if the water had gone down, but since the water still covered all the land, the dove did not find a place to light. It flew back to the boat, and Noah reached out and took it in (Genesis 8.8-9).
He (Noah) waited another seven days and sent out the dove again. It returned to him in the evening with a fresh olive leaf in its beak. So Noah knew that the water had gone down (Genesis 8.10-11).
Let’s consider the flow of the story for a bit. The Bible says that the first dove couldn’t find a place to land. Then seven days later, again the dove was sent off. And that evening it brought back a freshly plucked olive leaf. We are now able to deduce that the water must have subsided further during that 7-day window. OK, fine, we progress.
But now a fresh dilemma arises. Are we to assume that the olive tree survived almost a year underwater? Can anyone with specific knowledge on olive trees comment on this? The other possible explanation is that the olive trees did not survive the flood; but was somehow able to quickly regenerate to the extent of growing fresh leaves within that 7-day window—a weak explanation, in my opinion.
Friday, January 16, 2009
The last couple of weeks haven’t been very kind to me. It’s been raining almost daily, and I haven’t been able to do my runs. I know this sounds very much like a typical excuse for laziness, but I really want to run, honest!
I was therefore pleasantly surprised this morning when I received a call from the lady at Core Fitness to inform me of their soft opening. The outlet is actually the former YFitness in City Mall, of which I was also a member. I paid for a 2-year membership, but saw my membership fee gone down the drain when YFitness went bust a few months ago.
It is a good thing that a prominent local businessman decided to buy over what’s left of YFitness and transformed it into Core Fitness. But prominent businessman or not, I have my doubts. You know the saying—once bitten, twice shy!
Don’t get me wrong though, I welcome the reopening of the fitness centre. In fact, I readily admit that Mia and I desperately need a fitness centre close to our house in Taman Iramanis. But we are not sure if we would pay on annual or monthly bases. Either way, I think it is almost certain that we will join.
Anyway, information gathered from Core Fitness on the available schemes are like this:
1) Monthly Payments
RM180.00 net per month, subject to initial single payment of RM90 for processing fee; start anytime and stop anytime.
2) Monthly Payments (12 months commitment)
RM130.00 net per month. Initial payment of RM390.00, i.e. for 3 months and subject to initial single payment of RM90 for processing fee (non-refundable)
3) Annual Payments
Lumpsum of RM1,200.00 for the first 100 members (promotion); RM1,650.00 for the rest (towels provided).
** Towels (Optional)
Members paying on monthly basis may opt for towels to be provided by Core Fitness (optional) at a cost of RM30 per month. But towels are not for bringing home! (Smile)
Core Fitness had a soft opening yesterday; the official opening is scheduled to be on 8 February 2009. It is still undergoing final stages of renovation at the moment but members of the public may come in to try out the equipment free of charge until the official opening.
So come on, y’all, get off your butts and start getting fit again! See you at Core Fitness!
Thursday, January 15, 2009
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
Saturday, January 10, 2009
Each day, Mia would send JJ off to school. She has to park her car at some distance away from the main gate of the school, and then walk through all the traffic jam. Many parents would bring their children up to the main gate, but Mia has to bring JJ all the way to her classroom.
Unlike in the kindergarten, JJ now has quite a lot of books. And it is strange that the school requires these kids to bring all their books everyday. I've read somewhere that an ant can carrry up to 6 times its body weight. So maybe the schools these days are trying to make ants out of our kids.
My JJ weighs about 16.5kg and her school bag weighs about 6.5kg. In terms of percentage, JJ is carrying about 40% of her body weight to school daily. Maybe 6.5kg doesn't sound like much, but JJ just couldn't carry her bag. So she had to drag it instead. That's why Mia had to carry her bag for her all the way to her classroom.
But what about after school? Both Mia and I are working, and we've made the arrangement for JJ's grandpa to fetch her from school. However, all the parents can only wait outside the front gate. JJ had to drag her bag from her classroom to that front gate.
On wednesday, I went to look for a new bag for JJ. I tried to cast my mind back to the good old days when I was still schooling. Somehow I don't remember having had to carry 40% of my body weight. Maybe the education system back then was much simpler.
Anyway, while I was searching for JJ's school bag, I was pleasantly surprised to find quite a number that had wheels on them. This problem with heavy school bags isn't something new, so much so that someone came up with the idea of making school bags with wheels.
To give you an idea of the size of school bags these days, check out the above picture. The one on the left is the usual bag I'd use whenever I travel outstation for a few days; the one on the right is JJ's new school bag with wheels. She's very happy that she needs not drag her bag from her classroom everyday; and she's even pulling her own bag from the car too.
This morning, her school held some sort of seminar for parents whose children are just starting primary one this year. Amongst others, someone raised the issue about the heavy school bags. But apparently it's not a new issue. There is just no way around it—the kids must bring all their books everyday. A teacher blamed the weight on the drinking water and sanwiches that the kids bring along it their school bags.
I usually can't tolerate this kind of nonsense, but as I've said before, I must be getting old and soft somehow. I dread the longs years ahead—too bad that JJ has to be a part of this education system.
Whenever I'm in KL, I'd usually put up at the YMCA because it's very near to the KL Sentral Station. I can take the taxi, the bus and the train from there. So it's very easy to move around.
The above foodstall is located just across the road from the YMCA. It starts its business hours from late afternoon. It's a very convenient stop for me; and I don't mind eating in the open air either.
I can't read those Chinese characters, but I've come to remember this stall as simply ABC. One can just choose from a variety of Chinese food. I've never been a very fussy person when it comes to food; so I've been coming back to this stall a few times.
Up to now I still can't figure out how to steam a soup. I can cook some dishes, of course, but I am far from a professional chef. I know about steamed chicken or fish, but not steamed soup. I tried asking the lady at the stall, but y'know, I can't speak Cantonese, and she couldn't speak Hakka. How does one steam a soup?