Monday, August 31, 2009

Novice Hunt 1—Results & Review

De StoneS, the obviously happy champions. They won a fruit basket, 2 cartons of 100PLUS and a colour printer which they themselves donated. But the winning was worth millions to them! They were not just smiling—they actually laughed out loud, a very infectious laugh!

Jolly Roger, the family team of Johan Amilin, wife and children. It's been a while, but today they've redeemed their pride by finding their way back to the podium finish. How did that boy grow so damn fast? It was just like last year he was a small little kid!

The FOURgettables 1, Gan Po Tiau and David Wong and team beat the odds to finish third. David shocked everyone when he demonstrated his elation—an amazing display of achievement by raising the carton of 100PLUS he won to the heavens! As Murphy's Law would have it, they had to hunt during an extremely hot day; and of all the days, it had to be today that their car air-conditioner was suddenly not working.

Maximum score 100 points.

1) Teo Chen Lung, Tan Cher Kian, Leslie Yew—75pts
2) Johan Amilin, Siti Nur Hanaa Abdullah, Siti Nur Liyana, Johari Jan—74pts
3) Gan Po Tiau, David Wong, Winnie Chee, Shirley Chai—74pts
4) Ellen Yee, Dr Liaw Yun Haw, Shirley Lim, Mary Lokupi—73pts
5) Liaw Lam Thye, Fong En Fui, Florence Lajagang, Emmanuel Edward—71pts
6) Joanna Stidi, Suzanne Stidi, Adoree Malinjang—66pts
7) Chin TT, Vivian Cham, Grace Chong, Tony Teo—66pts
8) Harry Koh, Buddy Jiliun, Sophia Lai, Evelyn Chew—65pts
9) Malcolm Abidin, Talissa Kiandee, Callum Abidin, Estelle Alana Lee—60pts
10) Eileen Yeoh, Francis Omamalin, Moina Liew—55pts


This wasn't intended to be a tough hunt. Alvin and I had quite a tough time suppressing our inclinations to set more "artistic" questions, but in the end, we had to keep our promise to make this some sort of tutorial hunt mainly to encourage the new hunters.

To this end, we set a number of basic questions like these:






And quite many other basic hunt questions. Apart from the above, we have also given some "spotting" questions, i.e. spotting taglines, or very basic general knowledge questions like the party responsible for the American space program (NASA). Even basic "initial" question like this:


Yet we were somewhat surprised and baffled to see that the highest score was only 75%, i.e. still a huge gap of 25%. I can't blame the new hunters, but I'm more concerned with the performance of the regular teams. I can only guess what went wrong.

On the whole, I think most teams did not do well in the treasures. Many of the regular teams got only 2 out of 4. Some stronger ones got 3. Only one team got all 4 treasures and emerged second. I didn't think our treasure clues were very difficult. This is perhaps one area our local regular teams should focus on in future hunts. The winning team, for example, only managed to get 1 treasure. So it is obvious that all of them need to work on their treasures.

Another weakness which could use a lot of improvement is their cryptic skill. Although I said we gave plenty of basic hunt questions, I also threw in some higher-level cryptic clues to give the regular teams a bit of challenge. But I am quite disappointed to find that either none or very few of them could answer those questions. I thought if those questions were set for a field of KL regular hunters, most of them would be answered. It goes to show that we still have a lot of catching up to do.

Consider these questions:




I feel that regular hunters should reasonably be able to tackle the above questions. But too few of them did. In fact, no one found DORS.

Another strange thing about KK hunters is what I said in the briefing this morning. For some reason, they just simply will never remember the Roman numerals, I don't know why! Some of them have hunted in several of my past hunts. They knew very well that I almost always set some questions on Roman numerals. Yet they just never learned! Consider this following question which only a few teams solved:


During the hunt, I went around to watch the hunters in action. I noticed that hardly any of them spent much time checking their dictionaries or thesaurus. They don't have the habit to research a bit on possible alternative words or synonyms. If I'm not wrong, only one team found the answer to this question:


A question which I thought should be achieveable by everyone if only they took the trouble to check, say, the thesaurus. They woud then find that SHARP=INTELLIGENT=KEEN. In other words, this is a double definition question.

On the whole, I think as far as KK hunts are concerned, there in no need to go very far to make the questions challenging. Only a few high-level cryptic ones are quite good enough to throw 'em all into all sorts of trouble!

But I think the highlight of the day was the fact that De StoneS (previously known as Bachelords) donated a brand new printer for the first prize; and then in the end, they won that prize back! So now they have again donated that same printer to my KK Challenge 5, meant for 17 October. They told me to put it into the top prize so that they might just repeat their feat again then. Well, not that I am underestimating De StoneS, but Main Tembak will be there on that day, so it won't be very straightforward. But the good thing is that a few of the top teams are apparently very determined to make Main Tembak run for their money! This is all going to be very exciting!

UPDATE (01 Sept):

My sincere apology for forgetting to mention here that, apart from De StoneS donating the colour printer, Eileen Yeoh also donated several car window shades for this hunt.

Thank you once again to everybody for supporting this hunt.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Beers, Caning & Police Report

It's all fast becoming a very big joke, although I'm not exactly laughing.

Kartika Sari Dewi Shukarno was caught drinking beer in a hotel lounge last year. For that she was arrested and then when found guilty of the offence, was fined and then given the penalty of caning. But of course since she is a good Muslim, she's willing to be caned because she respects the law. In fact, she's requesting for the caning to be carried out in public. And if that's not weird enough, she can't even wait to be caned too! Such a good citizen and one has to wonder how she ended up drinking beer in the first place.

Now while the entire nation becomes excited about this comedy, the people who're supposed to carry out the punishment are apparently unsure of what's their next course of action. Thankfully, though, now is the fasting month; so the authority is able to buy a bit of time to delay the punishment. Therefore it's been announced that the sentence, though still remains, will only be carried after the fasting month. Unless I am mistaken, no specific date has been announced so far.

But that's no good as far as Kartika is concerned. She wants that caning—now! That's her point! And because the caning is still not done yet, she has lodged a police report to—and this is the comical part—pre-empt potential accusations.

Elsewhere in this blog, I've mentioned that lodging police reports is a favourite national pastime in Malaysia. Politicians do it all the time, and I have a shrewd suspicion that they're doing it for fun too. And this is yet another milestone in the police report nonsense—to pre-empt potential accusations.

Then again, I now have a brilliant idea; I will try to find the time within the next few days to lodge a police report myself to pre-empt potential accusations against me! Now I'm not saying that this will actually happen, but who knows if my neighbour's puppy which barks non-stop annoyingly round the clock, disturbing everyone's sleep, might just suddenly fall dead due to, say, strychnine poisoning, then at least I have already lodged a police report. So obviously I would be safe. And I would be really happy too, for I'll then be able to have peaceful sleeps once again.

In the mean time, while I have to admit that I did not agree to the caning penalty for drinking beer at first, I think now I am able to live with it. Perhaps a person who's not quite right up there—seeking fame through the punishment—deserves that punishment after all.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Tough Week

What a week! It's not finished yet, but I'm so glad that I've at least arrived at Friday!

The last couple of days were mainly spent to prepare a very important valuation report. And I may have to appear in court next week as an expert witness. In the mean time, there were of course other cases to deal with. Not to mention telephone calls and meeting clients etc.

Public Bank opened a new branch along Jalan Pantai today, and we went for a visit to congratulate the manager and staff. The office is located just 5 minutes from our office. It was quite a grand event with flowers and balloons etc.

Today was JJ's last day in school. She'll be on a 2-week holidays beginning from next week. But of course her tuitions will continue even during the holidays. I thought she was supposed to receive her report card this morning, but apparently the teachers were not in time to tally up the scores and positions. Maybe the kids will only receive their report cards when school reopens. The whole morning I was worried if JJ would get first in class. It's not a very likely thing to happen, but y'know, Mia promised to get her a kitten if she gets first in class. Of all the things in the world, has it got to be a kitten?

Tomorrow I'll have to catch up a bit on the coming treasure hunt. Need to work on the briefing presentation and fine-tune some of the questions. In the end, I may have to contribute about half of the total number of questions.

Then on Sunday morning is that dreadful 30km long run beginning from 5am. It will probably take 3 hrs 15 mins to complete. Oh I can already feel the exhaustion just thinking about it!

Still plenty to accomplish for the remaining 2 days of this week. I just hope that I'll remain sane when it's over.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Men & Women

A friend forwarded some photos to my inbox recently. Apparently it's some kind of beauty pageant held in Thailand. Beautiful women with soft skin which many average women would envy! Except that they're actually all men!

One would wonder how difficult can it be to tell between a man and a woman. But I'm deeply troubled that I actually find these creatures beautiful—I mean really beautiful as in beautiful women kind of way.

I wonder what they look like without their clothes on. Don't get me wrong, I'm not being a pervert—I'm curious in a scientific kinda way, you know? Nature had somehow designed a man's body to be different from a woman's. Men generally have broader shoulders, smaller pelvic area, and bigger waistlines. And then even if a man does not do weights, he usually has more muscles than an average woman. Of course they don't normally have breasts. In fact, a good example of a man's built is like what you see in the photo below.

Only trouble is that this is actually a photo of a female human named Caster Semenya. She actually won the 800m event in Berlin, beating her closest rivals by huge margins! Safe for the missing bulge in the groin area, I must say that she looks a lot like a male—the face, the shoulders, abdomen; in fact, her whole body appears like that of a male!

BUT! now the strange thing about this story is the fact that she is being put to a gender test which will take several weeks to complete. Several weeks? Now that's strange! I would've thought that the best way to find out is simply to have a quick check of her reproductive system. I'm aware that it's possible for a man to undergo a sex-change operation, but if she's gone through that, surely that, too, can be quickly exposed from a cursory examination by a doctor?

If it's a matter of hormone abuse, that is even easier to trace. But if her body produces some sort of hormones naturally which makes her stronger and faster than an average woman, does that make her a man?

So I'm a bit at a loss that there are concerns that "she does not meet the requirements to compete as a woman." What on earth is that supposed to mean?

I'm not very well-versed in the world of sports, but I wonder if they have similar rules in the sports of tennis. I can think of at least 2 women world-class tennis players—in fact, sisters—whom might also be put through a gender test?

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

BIM 2—8 Weeks To Go!

We have just passed the middle of August. It's less than 8 weeks to go to the Borneo International Marathon 2 which will be held on 11 October. I'm still surviving the training so far, and I'm still hoping that I won't injure myself before the big day.

Last Sunday, I achieved a new frontier—28km. I've never covered that distance before. And let me tell you that the temptation to stop at 20km-24km was quite something. By the time I reached 25km, I could feel all sorts of pain in my legs. I really had to push myself to actually finish that 28km. It took me 3 hours 1 minute to complete the distance, which I thought was a decent time, but obviously nothing to shout about.

Yesterday, my legs were still sore, but I forced myself to the track anyway and did 8km. And this evening, I did another 13km. If I can still move my legs tomorrow, I'll try to do another 8km. I'm confident that if I go slow, I should be able to complete the mid-week runs. But the dreadful run will be this Sunday—30km, yet a new frontier for me! So far I've not cheated on my long runs, so I hope I won't cheat this Sunday!

Meanwhile, Dr Liaw and Dr Helen were already talking about the Singapore International Marathon. I wasn't sure that I'd sign up so soon. And even if I did, I'd probably do the half marathon in Singapore. But the doctors encouraged me to go for the full course anyway. Then last week, I met Johan at the track. He said he signed up for the half marathon in Singapore. I'd like to get over BIM2 first before making up my mind about Singapore. After all, it's gonna be in December. But unfortunatley, I don't have the luxury of time. The quotas will be filled up pretty soon, and registration will be closed long before December. So in the end, I signed up for the full marathon. I signed Mia up for the half marathon.

Earlier on, I was also toying with the idea of doing the 25km Penang Bridge International Marathon again. But then I decided against it in the end. I did the 25km last year. It was quite an experience running on the bridge. But although the run was fine, I can't forget how I was forced to drink "dirty" water. Several of the water stations had no cups for drinking, and many runners had to drink directly from the huge water bottles. I tried to endure my thirst at first, but in the end had to drink anyway. At some stations, the drinking water was in a huge pail, and runners had to use cups to scoop water from the pail. You can imagine how all those sweaty hands went into the water too. Yet I had to drink anyway because at several points of the run, I felt like fainting because of thirst. So I guess I will pass on Penang Bridge this year. Hopefully if the organiser can improve the situation at the water stations, I can always join again next year.

Well, 30km this Sunday. Then a bit of rest with a 22km next week. Thereafter, 2 more long runs of 32km and 36km before I taper for the actual event. I still can't estimate my target time for this marathon. But I should be able to get some idea by the time I've covered the 36km in a couple of weeks from now. The excitement is mounting... keeping my fingers crossed.

Old-Fashioned Orgasm

A friend sent me a link to an interesting article from The Sun, entitled "Having a good old-fashioned orgasm could save your life." Of course I am not a doctor, so I can't vouchsafe the truth or accuracy of this article. Reading it, however, made my mind wonder about several issues.

"In fact, the average lovemaking session only uses about the same energy as climbing a couple of flights of stairs."

I must say that I doubt the accuracy of this claim. Climbing a couple of flights of stairs seems to require too little energy to me, unless of course if the doctor meant 10 storeys when he said "a couple of flights of stairs."

"Besides, regular sexual activity — including DIY — is linked to other health benefits, such as a reduced risk of prostate cancer in men... may reduce pain caused by migraine, arthritis and back trouble, boost your immune system and lower your blood pressure. Also, what goes on below the belt may help what’s going on between your ears — a healthy sex life is linked to improved self-esteem, better sleep and reduced tension."

See, this is the thing I've always wanted to know about the Catholic priests. I know there've been reports of sex scandals involving priests—and several of them with young boys. But what about those good ones? Is the article suggesting that they're within the group facing higher risk of prostate cancer, migraine, arthritis and back trouble etc? Well, I've known of priests who don't really do physical exercises, yet they live up to very old age.

Recurrent “orgasm headache” is one — it’s a type of migraine most common in men which makes their climax more “Aaaargh!” than “Ooooh!”

I guess I am one lucky man. Somehow I've never experienced that "Aaargh!"; it has always been "Ooooh!".

Well, I'm not against regular sex, mind! If it can really save my life, I guess I'll just have to take the doctor's word for it. But to be quite honest, I can't see much value in this particular article. Although I am not a doctor, I'm inclined to think that any kind of physical exercise is generally good for the health. There are many, many types of exercise which have better benefits in terms of health. But admittedly, of course not all of them are fun like sex and orgasm! Maybe I should show this article to Mia—who knows she might want to adopt an alternative method of dealing with her occasional migraines.

In the mean time, I will continue with my running, thank you!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Deadly Flu

Last Saturday, JJ had a bout of diarrhoea. So by yesterday morning, we brought her to see a paediatrician who happens to be my ex-classmate during the Sabah College days. We lingered on a while longer to chit-chat a bit on the topic of the A(H1N1) flu.

It happens that JJ is considered to be in the high-risk group because she has a bit of problem with her respiratory system. When she was younger, she frequently fell ill due to flu and cough. According to the doctor, if we're not careful, it can turn into something more serious like asthma. However, the good news is that the condition is not necessarily permanent—kids will usually grow out of it. Well, JJ's respiratory system has improved a lot but the doctor still considers her within the high-risk group as far as the A(H1N1) flu is concerned.

So I was asking the doctor if there is anyway we can protect JJ from the A(H1N1). Well, apart from wearing the mask, and washing hands etc, there is actually no way to protect against the infection. We can only try to reduce the risk of infection!

But the human race has a very interesting means of protection. The doctor reckons that by the next year or so, approximately 30% of us would be tested positive of the A(H1N1), but if those who're not tested are to be included, perhaps 50% of the population would have been infected by the A(H1N1). Of those who're infected, an estimated 1% - 2% would die of the disease, whereas the rest will develop some sort of defense machenism against the virus. By then, the majority of the population would have had the natural protection, and the infection rate would automatically slow down. According to the doctor, right now we are just at the beginning, and the infection rate will be very high for a while; almost every day we will see many more new cases in the population.

After the visit to the doctor, I started thinking about the 50% estimate. That's like almost everyone will be infected! Which means there is a good chance that my JJ will also get it. The doctor said not to worry too much. He said just make sure that once the kid develops high fever, flu and cough, don't waste any time to seek medical help. Speedy medical intervention can help substantially. He emphasised the mortality rate of only 1% - 2% at most; the rest who're infected will fight off the disease and survive.

In the mean time, many scientists are rushing to develop the vaccine against the A(H1N1). But the doctor estimates that the soonest the vaccine can be ready is at least half a year, with a possible 1 year to 2 years to be readily available in Malaysia.

I know strictly speaking 1% - 2% is a very small margin. One would have to be very unlucky to be within those 1% - 2%. Still, I admit that I'm getting a bit paranoid. I'm crossing my fingers; hopefully the vaccine will become available much sooner than the doctor's estimate.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Modern Education

I went outstation—to Keningau—and stayed the night in a budget hotel. Late this morning, I got a call from Mia. She reported that JJ had received her exam papers, and then gave me the respective scores.

I drove back to KK in the afternoon and reached home at around 5pm. Then I went for a short 5km run, came home again, had dinner, shower and now finally have the time to blog about the modern education system which my JJ is cursed to go through for the next 10 to 15 years of her life.

Now many of you who know me well would know that I am essentially a perfectionist in most of the things I do. Don't get me wrong—I'm not saying that I am perfect! Far from it! Whatever I do, I'd try my best to be very, very meticulous. I can be a pain in the neck to many people, because I'm very fussy and often insist that things are done exactly right. If I had it my way, I would like my JJ to grow up with that attitude too. But to be honest, I don't expect her to become anything like me at all. I can see it from now—that she is not that type.

Well, anyway, having gone through her exam papers, I'd like to share some interesting stuff with my readers, i.e. the kind of things they emphasise on in schools these days.

First up—a bit about her English paper. Of the 3 languages JJ is learning in school, i.e. English, Malay and Chinese, I'd say her English is many folds better than the other two. Yet her result was a big surprise to both Mia and I. She got only 86.5%! So I was particularly eager to know what went wrong. To my disappointment, I found out that she was careless enough to miss the entire last page of the question sheets which carried 10%. Oh well, I guess I'll have to work on this carelessness problem somehow. But where did she lose the rest of the points? And this is where I'd like to share one question with you all:

G. Rearrange the words to form correct sentences.

mother's / My / is / name / Joyce.

Well, it's been almost 40 years ago since I was in Primary One, and I can't remember if we had anything like this back then. Looking at this question, I can just imagine that it's like a stroll in the park for my JJ. When I was at her age, I knew hardly any English word. But anyway, I would probably write the answer like this:

And the following is an example of what I had typed out from my word processor (font: Consolas). I chose this particular font because there is a point I'm trying to make here.

Anyway, if you were the teacher, how would you grade this answer? The sentence is correctly constructed from the given words in the question. All the words are spelt correctly too. Would you say my answer deserves the full score for this question?

OK, now look at my answer again (first picture). What do you think about the first letter in the sentence? I'm referring, of course, to the letter "M" of "My". Can you find anything wrong with that "M"?

Now compare that "M" with that of the word processor (second picture). What do you think now? Still nothing?

Well, unfortunately, had I been there to answer this question, I would have failed miserably. Because my "M" is not a capital "M" in spite of the fact that it's written almost twice the height of the letter "y". The reason, according to JJ's teacher, is that the middle portion of that letter should go all the way down to the same level as the outer "legs" of that letter.

And here's how JJ wrote her answer. You can see on the extreme right "-1" in red ink, indicating how she lost a mark for this question. Absolutely ridiculous! This is the kind of knowledge she's getting from her school.

Next up—Bahasa Malaysia. Look at the following picture and consider question no. 14. The first thing I noticed about this question is that even the sentence is wrongly constructed. A better construction of the question is like this:

Bubuhkan imbuhan meN- pada kata dasar "lawat". Jawapannya ialah _____.

So which one is the correct answer—A, B or C?

As you might already guessed by now, my JJ is not so good in her Bahasa Malaysia. She is struggling to learn the language. While attempting this question, I bet she wasn't even sure what's the meaning of "lawat" (I hope she won't get it mixed up with the word "liwat"). Anyway, imagine that you don't really know the language, what would your logical guess be?

This was JJ's thought process. The question instructs her to add "imbuhan", meaning word extension, e.g. "ING" or "ED" in English. And it's very specific too—it says add "meN-" to "lawat". But the trouble is that none of the 3 options has a "men" at the start. So how to choose? The first 2 options are with "me", but the last option has a "mem" at the start. Still not good enough, but at least "mem" is the closest to "meN". So JJ chose "C", and of course she got it wrong!

Now the question we ask ourselves is: What's the "meN-" all about? It looks very much like a straightforward instruction to the kids to simply add MEN to LAWAT. Yet that is not what the teacher had intended. But then how come the "N" in the "meN-" is a capital letter when the "m" and "e" are both small letters?

Well, JJ found this question unfathomable, and so she asked mommy to explain to her. But mommy was at a lost too. So she asked the teacher to explain.

Here's the explanation by the teacher:

The "N" in "meN-" refers to a variable. The teacher said it is akin to an "integer" in maths, but I prefer the word variable. It's like saying X + Y = 6, where X and Y are the variables—the unkonwn values. The correct answer is of course "A", i.e. MELAWAT, where N = LAWAT.

I think someone should really look into our current education system. Perhaps the teachers should at least learn how to set questions properly. With what they're doing right now, I wonder if they're causing more damage rather than good to our children. What's your view on this?

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Great Revelation

“The injuries detected on Teoh were consistent with impact due to a fall from a high place. Death was also due to multiple injuries caused by fall from a high place”

—Dr Khairul Azman, Klang Tengku Ampuan Rahimah Hospital [The Star]

About 3 weeks after the incident, the cat is finally out of the bag. For the benefit of those who still did not know it before this profound revelation by Dr Khairul, the late Teoh Beng Hock died "due to a fall from a high place."

Let's hope that we will soon get to know how and what led to that fall in the first place. But don't hold your breath; this may take a while.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Tight Shorts

Photo from

Teo, if you're reading this, I'm not saying that I will take up your challenge and join a triathlon one of these days. But if ever I can summon enough courage to do so, I swear to God I won't be putting on one of these tight shorts, even if I don't have such a big problem to deal with.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Unhealthy Thoughts

During one of my yam cha sessions with a friend recently, we talked about the interesting rivalry between Michael Phelps and Milorad Cavic. I used to swim a lot when I was younger, but I'm not well-versed with swimming from the technical point of view. I swam without caring much about the techniques. I did it mostly for the exercise. But to these guys, because swimming is their bread and butter, they have no choice but to know every single thing about the sport—training techniques, diets, and even their swimming outfits were invented by very clever people. A lot of time and efforts, coupled with money and scientific knowledge went into those suits. I'm guessing that those suits can probably make very minor differences—perhaps in the order of fractions of a second.

And this is Phelps in the famous suit. Something which appears so simple and like any other ordinary suit, but in actual fact it can add to the performance of the swimmer.

Another amazing view of the super suit—not only because the person in it has absolutely flat chest—but rather because this woman also became the champion in her discipline.

Truly, there must be something special in the swimming suits, especially when worn by world class swimmers. I suppose if I were to put these suits on, they wouldn't make any difference at all, except maybe I would feel a little uncomfortable in the groin area?

In the track and field events, we have also seen how some athletes have tried to improve their performances by having specially made outfits. The above is the famous Cathy Freeman who won the 400m title at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney. Apparently, the outfit was the result of wanting the runner to take advantage of the aerodynamic effect. But I don't know how much the outfit actually helped her to achieve the gold medal.

More recently, we had Roqaya Al-Gassra of Bahrain who also ran fully covered from head to toe, except for the face and hands. But interestingly she had a different reason for the outfit. In her case, she did it mainly because of hijab. And hijab is an issue which even the Muslims can't really agree among themselves what it is, exactly. As a matter of fact, I have spoken to a number of my Muslim friends about the subject, and I'm amazed at the many variations of what hijab is!

There is the explanation that hijab is nothing more than custom and tradition. Women cover up their hair because of custom. It has no religious significance whatsoever.

But then there is also the more popular explanation that hijab is related to religious requirement. And here, I find it's getting very interesting. I was given to understand (although I may have understood wrongly) that Muslim women cover their hair on grounds of modesty, privacy and morality. Some Muslim women also take this principle a little further—they don't just cover their hair, but also the entire face. A muslim friend explained—and this is the shocking thing—that the idea is to prevent men from having "unhealthy" thoughts when looking at pretty women. He may develop immoral thoughts too! He may even become sexually aroused when seeing beautiful women! In that sense, these women can be construed as "exposing" themselves indecently!

I'm fairly sure that is not the fully-correct explanation to the hijab thing. And I don't know why exactly is Roqaya running in that outfit. But if it's anything to do with preventing men from having "unhealthy thoughts", perhaps someone should tell Roqaya that many men may have "unhealthy thoughts" when looking at women in skin-tight outfits. In fact, I think the effect is much greater when compared to just looking at the exposed hair. Then again, of course they are those in the minority group who are greatly affected by beautiful hair too.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

A Note From JJ

My marathon training is becoming increasingly tough now. Although I'm not adopting the professional training programme, it's still hard to keep up. I run 4 times a week—3 short runs during the weekdays, and 1 long run on Sundays. Of the 3 short runs, I do 7km on Tuesdays, 12km on Wednesdays, and again 7km on Thursdays. But sometimes when I'm tired, like this week, I'd do the 12km on Thursdays and 7km on Fridays. The distances for these short runs will also be raised in the coming weeks. As for the long runs, those are also increasing gradually. Last Sunday I had to struggle to finish 25km, but thankfully, this coming Sunday, I only need to do 18km. But then the next 2 Sundays will be 28km and 30km respectively.

Because of my training, I spend lesser time with my JJ, especially this recently when she's been spending most of her time with her mommy to prepare for her exams. And in the morning, I usually wake up a little late at around 6:30am. By then JJ and mommy would probably be at the doorstep to leave for school. I usually have just enough time to give JJ her good luck kiss and then she's off to school.

This morning, after JJ left for school with mommy, I found a note from JJ at my desk where I spend a lot of my time blogging or surfing the net. As you can see, her hand-writing and spelling are not her strong points. Nevertheless, I could more or less make out the message she's trying to convey to me.

This evening when I arrived home from the 12km run, JJ was watching Tom & Jerry in the living room. Today was the last day of her exams, so she's allowed to enjoy herself with the TV again. I went to my desk and brought out the note to JJ. I had to interrupt her show briefly to get her to decipher her note for me.

She read out loud, "Dad, I love you as much as I love mom; you are my second best friend."

And then suddenly I felt very sad—I was overwhelmed by guilt. What the hell am I doing? I am going to miss these little moments with JJ as she is growing up! I know I will regret it one of these days.

I sat down on the floor beside JJ. She said mommy is her first best friend. I watched Tom & Jerry in my sweaty running outfit. JJ was soon in an animated story-telling mood to explain to daddy what would happen next. She must have watched that show a few hundred times by now. Both JJ and daddy laughed together, watching the TV.

In spite of my marathon training, work, treasure hunting, I will see to it that I won't miss some quality time with my JJ. Oh I just love that kid, and she's growing up so quickly. I hope we will be best friends forever.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Vengeful Instinct

A couple of nights ago, I had an interesting dinner-time conversation with Mia on the topic of capital punishment. It all started with the case of the guy who murdered the girl—I think it happened in Menggatal (yes, to the West Malaysian friends, that is really a name of a place here in Sabah). Well, Mia said that the fellow has been found guilty and sentenced to death by hanging.

At first I merely said, "Well, if he really did it, I suppose he deserves the punishment lah."

Then we talked about other forms of capital punishments, i.e. the lethal injection, electricution, poison gas chamber etc. Well, I'm not trained in the legal profession, and I know hardly anything about these punishments. But if I'm not wrong, many of them have been abolished. In fact, I don't know if they have ever been used here in Malaysia.

Now, when a criminal has been found guilty and is given the death penalty, does it make any difference how he is executed? Whether he dies of the hangman's noose or the lethal injection or the firing squad, in the end the objective is to execute him. The point is he ends up dead anyway. The end result is the same, but the methods adopted leading to that end are different in a few ways. Does it not make sense that we keep things simple and give the criminal, say, sleeping pills in large doses so that he will peacefully fall into deep slumber and die without actually suffering a lot of pain?

But our punishment system is not like that at all. It seems that we want the criminal to suffer first before he dies. I think the most striking factor is the pain that the criminal has to suffer; and the duration of that pain before his death. It is in this sense that I feel we are playing God to a fellow human. Not only are we assuming the right to kill—albeit legally—a human, but we also decide on the manner in which he dies. We want so much for him to suffer; to experience the anxiety; the fear of death etc. And it is here that I feel we're giving rein to our vengeful instinct against those who have wronged us.

We are not willing to let the fellow off the hook so easily—we want him to pay for what he did. And paying with his life alone isn't good enough! He must suffer first! And then I suppose at the end of it all, we are happier that he suffered the torture before his death; we have satisfied our vengeful instinct.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Lost Cause

I have an uncle named Michael whom I haven't met for a good many years. I used to seek his advice when I was younger, especially during the years before I went to work in Brunei. He has a very interesting way of looking at life and perhaps more importantly, I feel he is a very "realistic" man. Well, I am a realistic person myself. So it's very easy for me to agree with most of his views.

I was pleasantly surprised to receive a call from uncle Mike on Thursday. The first thing I did when I heard his voice over the phone was to laugh out loud. And he did the same thing too. I don't know why, but we have always enjoyed chatting with each other since all those years ago. I guess you could say that we have more or less a similar kind of sense of humour. We just sort of entertain each other with our stories without even trying to make ourselves entertaining, you see. It's not often that I can actually talk to anyone for hours and hours without feeling the time ticking away.

Well, anyway, uncle Mike was in town and was wondering if we could meet up late morning on Friday—yesterday—because he wanted to seek my professional opinion on the current property market in KK; but also to catch up a bit on old times. And so at about 11am yesterday, uncle Mike arrived at my office. We then went to a nearby coffeeshop and started reminiscing on old times. Little did I know, it must have been more than 10 years since the last time we had a proper chit-chatting session like that.

Lina, Fara and Hisham have all grown up and established themselves in KL. Apparently they're all doing well there, especially Lina and Fara. Uncle Mike is busy doing his own stuff and travels frequently between KK, Labuan and KL. The last time I saw Lina was when she was still in Form 3. I was then her private tutor for maths and science, the 2 subjects which she was particularly weak in. Now she's all grown up and has 2 kids of her own, and apparently she's earning well too! When I was tutoring her many years ago, I honestly did not think she could reach where she is today, but obviously I was wrong. I like listening to all these stories—of how people have moved on and progressed in life.

Then I started talking about some of the people in my immediate family circle whose lives have remained stagnant since like at least 20 years ago. These are very stubborn people who keep repeating their mistakes in life—they keep doing things exactly the same way and then failing to achieve their goals over and over again; and at the end of the day, they don't know what's hitting them! Now that they're within the twilight of their lives, they are getting even more desperate to show that they still have what it takes to succeed.

As I said, I am a realistic person. I don't expect everyone to be successful; that everyone will become the big boss and live a comfortable life. If these family members wanted to live their lives the way they do, then that is totally up to them. Unfortunately, because they are family members, it is difficult to just ignore these people. They are connected to us one way or another, and when there is trouble somewhere in the middle of the pond, it will generate ripples throughout the rest of the pond whether we like it or not.

Therefore, every so often one is bound to hear from these people sending out SOSes for their failed ventures. Yet every time help is given to them, it's just a matter of time that they will come back for more. Thus the cycle repeats itself over and over again.

Uncle Mike listened attentively. And then gave his advice. He said one must learn to draw the limit to everything. There will come a time when one has to be strong and deny help to these people, not even a small amount. Because the pleading for help will never stop. The simple reason is that these helps are for a lost cause. These people will never change. No amount of help can actually help them.

He said, "Always remember that when they keep coming back for help, don't blame them for what they are. Blame yourself instead. Because if you allow them to take advantage of you, then they will certainly take advantage of you!"

The kind of solution which I myself have thought of long ago, yet it's good to hear it from someone else. The only thing is how does one actually put it into practice when dealing with one's own father?