Thursday, April 30, 2009
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Yesterday, during the weekly Rotarian meeting, Rtn Toshinori gave an interesting talk about his work in Mongolia. Toshi is an Environment Conservation Specialist who spends a lot of his time in the jungles of Sabah, but also in Mongolia.
The above is a map showing the location of Mongolia. Note the neighbouring China, Kazahstan and Russia. In the middle is the mountain range which used to contain many glaciers. These glaciers are the main source of water for this reqion.
A beautiful shot of the Bolonin Glacier in Altai Mountain Range at an estimated depth of 200 metres in 2002, but has been decreasing rapidly to an estimated 50 metres in 2007. Because of global warming, a difference of only 1.5 degrees centigrade over the recent years, it has been estimated that there will be no more glaciers in this region by the year 2035. That is not exactly a very long time from now. Essentially, what it means is that by the year 2035, an approximate 1 billion people in this region will have problem with water for their livelihood.
These are some of the people who inhabit the area—very simple folks who have continued the traditional way of life, hunting animals with their well-trained Golden Eagles. Living in an environment of frequent below-freezing point, they welcome the increasing temperature, not knowing that the entire area will be dry in less than 30 years' time.
The Ongii River, flowing from the Hangai Range to the Gobi Desert which was frequently flooded during the springs and summers up till 1995. It was the source of water for the people and wildlife.
Ongii River in 2000. No more water for the people and wildlife due to uncontrolled gold-mining and climate change. Below are some of the attempts to squeeze some water out of the clouds in the sky above the Gobi Desert.
Think about it—the year 2035. We probably won't have to worry too much about the war against Skynet, the super computer. The water problem is good enough to wipe out 1 billion people. Toshi opines that we have not done enough to reverse the trend; and all the glaciers will melt and dry out in the end.
Monday, April 27, 2009
Friday, April 24, 2009
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Monday, April 20, 2009
Sunday, April 19, 2009
Now, as a general rule, I don't normally agree to even see the "plan" if I don't have at least a 50% chance of buying it in the end. I don't want to waste both our time, you see. But if there is a good chance that I might consider buying it, then I will let the agent do the rest to convince me of her product.
Well, she turned up with the investment plan. In fact, as far as I am concerned, it's an ordinary retirement plan with a guaranteed decent returns. And of course there is the life insurance element in it too. I thought it's a good product, and perhaps it's also a good way to save my money. So it was a fruitful visit for her—I signed up and wrote out the cheque there and then.
Then came the part where I had to fill up the forms. Thankfully, however, she helped me to fill up most of it and merely asked me to sign at several pages on those forms.
We came to the part where I had to name my beneficiaries; she looked up to me and said, "Wife and daughter, of course?", and I said, "Yeah, I suppose that's expected, isn't it?"
Before this, I bought 2 more policies from her and in both cases I put my wife and daughter as my beneficiaries. I did not really think that I had to think about that, you see.
According to the insurance agent, based on her long experience, when men buy life insurance policies, they will almost automatically put the spouses and children as their beneficiaries; but when women buy insurance, about 90% of them will put their parents, siblings or children as the beneficiaries—and hardly ever the husbands.
I did not find that information very surprising. My own wife has a few insurance policies herself and the beneficiaries are her 70-year old mother and 45-year old sister. If I am not wrong, she put JJ's name for the latest insurance policy she just took up a few months ago. Quite honestly, I am not bothered at all that I am not the beneficiary of her insurance policies. But I'd really like to understand why.
Thursday, April 16, 2009
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
"Subject: Recent miracle in Egypt!
Broadcasted in CBS...
A Muslim man in Egypt killed his wife because she was reading the Bible and then buried her with their infant baby and an 8-year old daughter.The girls were buried alive!
He then reported to the police that an uncle killed the kids. 15 days later, another family member died. When they went to bury him, they found the 2 little girls under the sand - ALIVE!
The country is outraged over the incident, and the man will be executed at the end of July.
The older girl was asked how she had survived and she says:- 'A man wearing shiny white clothes, with bleeding wounds in his hands, came every day to feed us. He woke up my mom so she could nurse my sister,'she said. She was interviewed on Egyptian national TV, by a veiled Muslim woman news anchor. She said on public TV, 'This was none other than Jesus, because nobody else does things like this!
'Muslims believe Isa (Jesus) would do this, but the wounds mean He really was crucified, and it's clear also that He is alive! But, it's also clear that the child could not make up a story like this, and there is no way these children could have survived without a true miracle. Muslim leaders are going to have a hard time to figure out what to do with this, and the popularity of the Passion movie doesn't help! With Egypt at the centre of the media and education in the Middle East, you can be sure this story will spread. Christ is still controlling and turning the world. Please let this story be shared.
The Lord says, 'I will bless the person who puts his trust in me. (Jeremiah 17)
Please forward to all on your list and God will reward you abundantly.. ..spread the Good News!"
A very interesting email, and I have some comments on it. But I will only post further later outside office hours. In the mean time, I'll let you dwell on this story for a bit.
Now where was I? Ah! yes, on the miracle!
The first thing, of course, is that this story is a bunch of craps. If Jesus wanted to prove his existence to the world, he'd probably do something more profound—perhaps saving some of those kids in Gaza is a good start.
I have posted something about chain mails not too long ago. Some people are just not quite right up there. Maybe it has a lot to do with craving for attention. Or some people get their kicks by spreading falsehood or scaring others. I dare say it's some kind of mental disorder, although I must hasten to qualify that I am not professionally trained to make such an assessment. Therefore, this is just my personal opinion.
The "miracle", as far as this particular email is concerned, is that so many people actually believe the story! Looking at the history of email addresses, forwarded from one to another, is just amazing.
Just looking at the email from an unbiased point of view, one is quickly able to tell that it's plain rubbish.
"Broadcasted in CBS"
If there is any truth in this story at all, it would have been broadcasted all over the world by now, not just CBS.
No names have been provided, neither the man, nor his wife nor his children—zilch! We are therefore unable to trace the story. No specific location was given. "Egypt" is an extremely large area. No dates were given so we are unable to trace when exactly did this event occur.
But the most compelling "evidence" that this was a hoax was that appeal:
"Please let this story be shared.
The Lord says, 'I will bless the person who puts his trust in me.(Jeremiah 17)
Please forward to all on your list and God will reward you abundantly.. ..spread the Good News!"
Always remember, folks, whenever you receive forwarded emails appealing you to forward to others, chances are you are being taken for a ride. These are sickos out there trying very hard to make fools out of you, I don't know why. Like I said, I strongly suspect it's some kind of mental disorder. So please resist to automatically forward these kind of rubbish the next time they arrive in your emailbox. Be curious and raise some common sense questions; and then you will know that someone is making fools out of you!
Sunday, April 12, 2009
As the New Generation Director 2008-2009, I was responsible to organise this year's Bakat. What may appear to be a very simple task, actually it is not so easy to organise this event. Earlier this week, I was somewhat getting worried about the poor ticket sales. The Auditorium can accommodate approximately 1,300 people, yet we were only able to sell about 700 tickets. However, a few more days of hardwork together with the Interactors, we were able to finish the entire 1,300 tickets by the time the show started.
The Bakat Interact is an annual project by the Rotary Club of Kota Kinabalu (RCKK). It is essentially something of a musical contest amongst the five Interact Clubs sponsored by the RCKK, i.e. SM La Salle, SM St Francis Convent, Maktab Sabah, SM All Saints and SM Lok Yuk. However, this year, we have also invited an additional competition from Maktab Nasional.
From left: Rtn Dr Ravi Mandalam, DG Edward S. Burongoh, President Warrence Chan
The Guest of Honour was President Warrence Chan, but we were lucky that DG Edward Sung Burongoh was able to spare some time from his busy schedule to grace the occasion. Some other Rotarians and their spouses also came to support the event.
Fellow Rotarians (from left) Rtn Frankie Fu, Rtn Chiang Wei Chia, PP Datuk Vincent Pung, Rtn Dr Ravi.
Although the event was scheduled to start at 12:30pm, it only started at 1:00pm. When the MCs announced the start of the show, the kids went wild—it's a wonder the ceiling did not cave in. I was still running errands and missed most of the earlier part of the show. During the break I was able to have a short chat with the judges who lamented that it's so difficult to judge the singing, as the voices of the singers were overwhelmed by the cheers of the hysterical audience. I think by tomorrow many students would seek medical help for sore throat.
Costume dance by SM Lok Yuk
Of course, we had plenty of shouting on stage which they called singing; and those jerky movements which they called dancing. However, I kinda like the above performance by SM Lok Yuk which lasted about 2 minutes. After that short-lived pleasant performance, they sort of took off those outfits, and underneath they had sexy dancing costumes. Then the boys emerged from the curtains and did that thing they called dancing.
Well, I wouldn't actually say that I had fun watching these modern-day entertainments, but it was obvious that the kids had a wonderful afternoon at the Bakat Interact 2009. President Warrence Chan and DG Edward Sung Burongoh gave away the prizes. Maktab Sabah emerged Champion, whereas SM All Saints won the Best Showmanship prize.
Champion, Maktab Sabah
Best Showmanship, SM All Saints
I guess I am just too old-fashioned, but I thought the singers from SM St Francis Convent were the outright winners. They sang wonderfully, and if I were to judge the show, I would have decided for them in a heartbeat.
So now it's time to prepare for the next major project, the I.U. Bazaar. That will be in June. I hope it's gonna be equally successful. Keeping my fingers crossed.
Tuesday, April 7, 2009
I've been meaning to write a bit about my own role model too, but could not really find the right time and mood to do so—until now.
Well, this lately I've been thinking a lot about my dad. I'm trying to recall all the good things he has done as a daddy. And then I was horrified to find very few that I can remember. The human brain is a very strange recording instrument. At times, I find it so hard to remember some events which took place only a couple of weeks or months ago. Yet I can still remember quite a lot of my childhood experiences very clearly as if they had just happened recently.
When I was very young, I used to look up to my dad as a great man. He was to me everything I wanted to be. In retrospect, I honestly don't know why I felt that way. Perhaps it was merely some sort of instinct—that children will automatically take their parents as their role models. But as I said, the more I try to think back about my childhood days, the more I find very little to justify my admiration for my dad. If anything, I can remember many, many occasions when I asked myself, "Why isn't my dad like other daddies?"
I think I was about 14 years old (form 2) when I joined some friends on a camping trip during a school break organised by the Boys Scouts. It wasn't really an advanturous trip into the deep jungle; rather it was merely a 3-day camp at a school compound in Likas. Dad had dropped me off at the camp and promised to fetch me in three days' time.
Well, we had lots of fun over those three days, playing lots of games, learning some outdoor stuff, singing etc. By the third day, I was so tired and couldn't wait to get home. But after waiting for about 2 hours, dad still did not show up. I did not have any money on me, so I started walking home with my heavy backpack. Back then I was living in Kobusak. The distance from St Agnes in Likas to Kobusak must have been more than 15km. It was around 6pm when I started my walk, and I had to stop several times to rest along the way. In the end I reached home at around 9pm. It was a very exhausting walk. I think it wouldn't have been very tough if it's not for the heavy backpack.
I can remember clearly now—I've just passed the Queen Elezabeth's Hospital and heading towards Taman Fortuna when I started crying because of the exhaustion, thirst, hunger, fear and anger. Well, I cried all the way home that day.
When I reached home, dad was there watching tv with the rest of the family. He had forgotten all about his promise to come and fetch me in Likas. But he said it's good that I had the training to become a strong and brave man.
I think it's moments like those that resulted in the gradual loss of respect and love for my dad. Over the years there were many other similar stories.
I'm sure if only you knew what I've been through, you'd understand why my dad is no longer my role model today.