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!


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.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Bracing Up For Typhoon Diana

Mia and I will be going to Singapore for the Standard Chartered Singapore International Marathon from 5th to 7th December (the marathon is on 6th December). We will be flying home to KK first thing in the morning of 7th December, which is a Monday. And I’m taking 2 days leave from work that Monday and Tuesday.

Typhoon Diana is now set to strike again in the evening of 7th December, at approximately 7pm. So we will be home before Diana’s arrival. I can foresee an exciting Christmas and Chinese New Year in the weeks ahead, and I’m sure my siblings are all ready for a lot of bickering and back-stabbings amongst themselves. As always, I will be having lots of fun watching them with all the commotion.

Mom comes to visit every few years’ intervals. But of course between those visits we do keep in touch with each other through phone calls every now and then. Mom has a special talent in causing turbulences among my siblings. So amazing is her talent that she can cause those turbulences even from as far as Vancouver, Canada, by remote control. This is just one such example of her talent. Needless to say, that amazing talent of hers has an even more potent effect when she’s near at hand.

Mom is not one who’s evil-minded; who enjoys seeing or causing disasters. Most of the time, she’s driven by her concern for our well-being. She’s after all only wishing for all the best for her children. I think most mothers can understand that. So she tries to “organize” some things in our lives which she thinks have rooms for improvements. It is something which we children should be thankful for. Yet ever so often we find that her “ideal” solutions to our “problems” are not so agreeable to us. Then what?

Now I don’t have to mention here that most mothers are very sensitive creatures. If the children disagree with their ideas, that can amount to ungratefulness and disrespect. Mom can feel unappreciated; she can feel unwanted—that her presence is such a nuisance to us children. And unfortunately, there might be some truth in the latter too.

Mom thinks that our children should have their proper afternoon naps. They shouldn’t be eating junk food close to dinner time, because that will spoil their appetite for dinner. And when they’re not eating properly for dinner, then of course that will deprive them of the essential nutrients their growing bodies need. Not too much TV games and cartoon movies too, for those will spoil their eyesight and make them forget about their studies. Not too much candies because that’s bad for their teeth.

Oh if only we know how to bring up our children properly, that would absolutely please mom. Mom’s sons shouldn’t be doing the cooking for their lazy wives even though they’re doing it willingly and gladly once in a blue moon.

And so, we are eagerly waiting for the typhoon this December. When it’s all over, there will inevitably be a trail of destructions, and my siblings will be there to pick up the pieces.

Thankfully, I am immune from the power of the typhoon. This is my life, and I shall live it the way I want to. I shall not be shaken by the typhoon, however powerful it is.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

1Malaysia Camp

I have in the past written about our natural talent in finger-pointing. It's been two years since I wrote that article and it's clear that nothing has changed.

Last month the hanging bridge at Kuala Dipang collapsed even though it was a newly-constructed bridge. Within hours, the body of a girl was found. Eventually 3 children died in that tragedy. It was mentioned that the outing was made compulsory, so one has to wonder if the parents of these kids could do very much to stop their children from joining the camp.

So who's at fault here?

Are the parents at fault? Surely they can't be responsible, since all they did was to obey the wishes of the authority wanting so much to promote their 1Malaysia thing? Besides, if it's true that the school made it a compulsory activity, then it would have been even harder for the parents to deny their permissions?

Is the Government at fault? Well, maybe not directly. But surely there must have been an authority that's responsible for the safety of the bridge? Did anyone check the construction specifications before approving the use of the bridge?

Are the teachers responsible? Would it have been any difference if, for example, they had limited the number of students to, say, 20 crossing the bridge at any one time?

Maybe the contractor who built the bridge did not build it to specifications? Somehow it was built understrength?

A lot of questions to be answered, and of course all the parties involved are now working very, very hard to point fingers at each other. However, it seems that the Deputy Prime Minister had recently acknowledged that the recent collapse of the bridge "may have been caused by its flawed construction."

In the following weeks, I'm sure many more excuses will surface, but during dinner shortly ago, I was discussing about this case with Mia. She said her mom is blaming the children themselves. Apparently, it's been reported that the children were playing and jumping on the bridge on that fateful day, and that had caused it to collapse.

I said so what if the kids were playing and jumping on the bridge? If the contractor who constructed the bridge had any brains at all, he would have anticipated the possibility of kids playing and jumping on the bridge. That bridge shouldn't have collapsed merely because the kids were playing on it.

If the bridge was built to a strength of a limited loading capacity, then the contractor owed the duty to notify the people who're using the bridge. For example, a huge, clear signboard showing the loading capacity—say, "ONLY 10 PEOPLE ON BRIDGE AT A TIME", y'know, something like what see in the lifts. It's not mentioned if there was such a signboard there, and if there was, then why weren't the treachers heeding such notice?

Kids being what they are, is it really unforeseeable that they would play while crossing the bridge? In fact, I think it is unforeseeable that they won't! I'm surprised that my mother-in-law is psychoed into believing that it's the kids' fault for the tragedy.

Anyway, I'm eagerly waiting for the final outcome of the investigation. I want to know when and if the guilty party has been identified, what will be done about it.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Intelligence—Pros & Cons

It's amazing how one is able to remember a specific conversation which took place more than 20 years ago when one was about 18 years old. It was during one of those camping trips we had organised to the Police Bay in Pulau Gaya.

One night, some of us gathered to discuss about the mysteries of life. We talked about Buddhism as a way of life (as opposed to a religion); we talked about the many different meanings of richness to different people. This topic, that topic; and then finally we got to talk about marriage and compatibility between spouses. Bear in mind that we were all still teenagers then.

Someone said that he did not care very much about the looks. He said the most important thing to him was the "inner qualities" of the woman. If I'm not mistaken, by "inner qualities", he did not mean it in the physical sense. Or did he? It's been such a long time since I last saw him. I heard he's happily married and has three kids now. But I've never met his wife. I'm curious to know what his wife looks like. Well, anyway, I remember vividly that it sounded a bit unnatural somehow—that I've read or seen all these talks about "inner qualities" from some books or movies.

Another friend put higher priority on family background and upbringing. He was convinced that those were significant factors to choose the right woman! He said one can't go wrong very far that way. Maybe he's right, I don't know.

Yet another friend said that he would prefer a girl who's attained more or less the same level of education as him. He reckoned that if the girl was not up to his level of thinking, they'd have difficulties communicating at the same wave length. I argued that education can't guarantee one's level of intelligence.

I had a different approach. I let fate decide. This thing about looking for that special woman with specific "inner qualities", with commendable family background and upbringing, and compatible level of intelligence did not sound very natural to me. I reckoned that if I tried too hard to stick to a predetermined formula, I might never find that dream girl!

And so it happened that one fine day I met a girl who's not exactly a beauty queen and far from what anyone could describe as sexy. In fact, she was so skinny that if she gained 30lbs overnight, no one would have noticed the difference. She came from a moderate family with a Chinese father and a Filipino mother. And she wasn't very brilliant in school too. But we shared a common interest in outdoor adventures. We travelled a lot; went to Selingan Island and watched the turtles lay eggs. Went mountain-climbing several times too.

About 4 years later, we were married. I then pursued my degree in estate management while she pursued a law degree. It wasn't smooth all the way, especially during the earlier years. One thing about being married to the legal people is that whenever there's a debate, you will know that you're up against a huge concrete wall.

I still think she's not the smartest woman around, and I sometimes find it hard to make her understand the simplest of things. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that her breasts are a bit undersized, I don't know. But contrary to what my friend thought many years ago, it's not exactly a bad thing if the woman isn't very smart. In fact, it can even be a blessing in disguise, if you know what I mean! Intelligence has its pros and cons.

What really matters to me is her determination and will power whenever she sets her mind to achieve anything. Because she has that attitude herself, she can easily understand me whenever I'm obsessed to achieve whatever I want to achieve.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Of Screaming Cats & Howling Animals

JJ has been asking for a pet kitten for quite a while now. Her mommy made a deal with her some time ago—if she can get first in class, mommy will buy her the kitten. Daddy was rather disappointed that mommy made that deal without consulting him first. Thankfully, however, JJ got 8th in the last exams, so daddy is safe for the time being.

The results for JJ's final exams will be out any day now. Based on mommy's tally, she averaged 94.625% this semester. Daddy is impressed with her performance—she's been improving steadily since January. However, she's not likely to get first with 94.625%, at least not in a school like St James. I think she'd be lucky if she can maintain her 8th position. So looks like daddy's gonna be safe again for the rest of this year.

However, if JJ can continue improving on her grades, there is the danger that she will eventually have a shot at getting first in the end; and we will inevitably have to get her that forsaken kitten somehow.

Oh! I can't stand cats! Of all the animals in this world, why must it be a cat?

When I was in Brunei some years ago, our neighbour's cats frequently came over the fence into our compound at night. And when it's mating season they would be screaming the whole night through. That would go on and on for several nights. And that absolutely drove me up the wall! I tried shooing them away many times, but they kept coming back again after a short while, still screaming their heads off, disturbing my precious sleep.

Not that I wanted to be cruel, but I eventually lost my head and splashed them with a pail of water. That helped for a bit; they ran helter-skelter, but all too soon came back into my compound again. The noise—oh! it's driving me crazy!

Why can't they control the screaming? Can't they just do it quietly? Why the screaming? Is it pain? Is it pleasure? If only cats can talk, I would ask them why. I really want to know.

Well, these animals are also screaming and howling like mad when they're doing it. And they, too, are disturbing the neighbours. And the good thing is that they can talk. So they're able to explain what it's like; why the screaming and howling. Apparently, just like the cats, they're unable to control the "vocalisation at such a level as to be a statutory nuisance"—not even with the help of muffling with the pillows.

Some animals are so lucky to enjoy life to the fullest...

Touchy Matter

From yesterday's The Borneo Post (click on the article for a clearer view):

I really shouldn't be unduly concerned about Wong Tze Vui's fetish, as I'm sure the police have dealt with him appropriately. What he touches is none of my business really, but I hope he's not working at the restaurant I go to regularly. But if he's indeed working there, I hope he washes his hands thoroughly with anti-bacterial soap before preparing my food. And it would be even better if he could put on a pair of surgical gloves too.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Pledge Of Loyalty

I had a debate with a lady friend some time ago. She was saying that women and men are equal in every sense. But I disagreed. She argued that these days women can do practically anything that men can—that women have shown their abilities in administering nations; they have proven their abilities in the field of science, business etc. They have even commanded flights into space.

I can easily agree with her based on those arguments, because those are facts. However, women by nature are not generally the same as men. Physically they're weaker than men. In the world of sports, in terms of speed and strength etc, men still rule. Some things, like in the battlefield, women can hardly ever replace men—not even close. In the event of a soldier getting injured in combat, one man can carry that injured friend for miles to safety. Whereas it would take 4 women, probably taking turns, two at a time, to carry that one injured soldier. And they'd probably suffer immensely while performing the task too.

There is also what I'd call the way how the brains work. Many of my readers are familiar with this particular subject which I've discussed several times in this blog. Women generally think differently from men. I am not saying that they are stupid—far from it! Some women I know are very, very clever; they're brilliant. Yet when it comes to something practical in life, they're generally not as good as men.

They are of course some seemingly simple and logical habits which they don't have. Survival instinct, if you like. For example, putting things back to where they belong. Women can't seem to understand that it pays to put things back to where they found them. So that the next time you need to use the screw driver or the nail clipper again, you don't have to turn the whole house upside down to find them.

BUT! women are people too! And there are many things that men can't do which they can. For this reason, I treat them as a complement to the male species. I think it would be quite difficult to get some things done without a woman's touch.

However, some people out there are still treating women as objects. And as objects, they can also become a weird kind of collateral. In this case, women are used as the collateral to pledge loyalty to a political party. Reportedly, if the party member jumps to the opposing side, he pledges to divorce his wife. It's kinda scary that this thing is still happening in Malaysia. I wonder who was the chap who first came up with this brilliant idea.

To quote the words of Shah Alam MP, Khalid Samad as reported in The Star:

"...all elected representatives from the Islamist party had vowed that they would divorce their wives with talak tiga if they quit or jump party...

...that way no PAS representative would jump party because they appreciated their wives and families."

I am attracted to the last line above. One has to wonder how was it that Khalid's so sure that his people "appreciated their wives"? Unknown to him, he may have just provided an ingenious way out from a living hell at home for some of those people!

Furthermore, I'm also wondering if the women members would also divorce their husbands when they jump ship. Somehow nothing's been mentioned about that.

I seriously hope that there was some sort of error in the news report. Otherwise we're all screwed.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Not Knowing What We Want

We all know that drug abuse has the effect of blunting the moral sense. And sometimes, it can also effect other choices we make, some of which may haunt us for a very long time. When the effects of the drugs have worn out, we may regret the decisions we made while we're high.

However, sometimes even when we're sober and really being ourselves, we may still not know what we really want.

Many people have the habit of praying to God, asking Him for what they want. And when they don't get what they want, they become disappointed. They're convinced that their prayers were unanswered—that all those prayers were just wasted efforts.

There's an interesting conversation between God and a man named Bruce in the movie Bruce Almighty. In that movie, Bruce blamed God for his failures, and then God gave him his powers and challenged him if he could do any better at the job.

Very soon, Bruce received so many prayers from people, asking for all sorts of things. Taking the easy way out, Bruce simply gave all that was asked of him. But instead of making everyone happy, it turned out that everyone became unhappy and created havoc all over the place. Then Bruce went to God to seek His advice.

"There're so many," he said of all the prayers, asking him for help, "I just gave 'em all that they wanted."

"Yeah," said God, "but since when does anyone have a clue of what they want?"

That's an interesting question from God. When I was younger, I wanted so much to be a civil engineer. When it became clear that I would never become one, I was very disappointed in myself. It felt like wanting so much to marry a woman I loved, but was forced to marry another. And even marrying that other woman was a big struggle in itself.

Sometimes I still wonder what would've happened had I really achieved my ambition to be a civil engineer. Maybe I won't be where I am today. Maybe it's a blessing in disguise that I've ended up being a property valuer instead.

Perhaps I knew what I really wanted years ago, but maybe what I wanted wasn't the best for me. Now I still have a good 10 to 15 years left in my working life, and I'm still not very sure what I really want from these remaining years. Right now I just know at least one thing I don't want, which is marrying a 107-year-old woman.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The Expert Fisherman

My brother, Dennis, had quite an experience at sea many years ago when he was still a teenager. He dropped out of school after form five in spite of my advice for him to continue his studies. But, you know, not all Chinese have the Chinese attitude.

Anyway, back then the playboy tried his luck in the fishing business. He made his rounds among his friends and somehow accumulated enough money to build a boat. Since Dennis couldn't find a job, the playboy suggested why not spend his time out at sea on the his boat.

According to the playboy, there's this guy who's an expert fisherman with many, many years of experience fishing in the west coast of Sabah. I can still remember the playboy's words now—he said the fellow knew the waters like the back of his hand! And he's supposed to know the exact spot where one can practically just pick up the fish. How convenient!

Now being a stubborn person who's skeptical about whatever claims without evidence, I couldn't bring myself to believe there's such a fisherman. How can one determine the exact location in the open sea with no landmarks as reference points? And back then, we did not have the GPS yet. Or rather, GPS were not readily available yet. I thought the fellow was just a bunch of craps! Without modern equipments—at least a compass—I don't believe any mortal can determine his exact location in the open sea. But of course the playboy, being much older and experienced in life than me, totally believed his claim. So he sent Dennis, his son, out to the open sea with the idiot.

They started out from Kinarut, heading towards Magellan Island (locally, it's more popularly known as Pulau Mengalun), and then continued beyond that to the open sea. The journey to Magellan alone took about 3 hours. After a few hours out from Magellan, the crew could no longer see any land in all directions.

And then suddenly the expert ordered them to slow down as they were apparently approaching the fishing ground. Excitement mounted. Finally he told them to drop the anchor, which they did. After dropping down for a depth of over 200 metres and they ran out of rope, the anchor had still not reached the bottom. All heads turned to the expert who calmly told them not to worry. He said just let the boat drift for a bit and then soon, the anchor should find the sea bed. Well, they let the boat drift for a good half an hour and then true enough the anchor did strike the sea bed in the end.

Then they started fishing. And of course not even a single bite. They started the engine again and shifted their position several times, and still no bite at all. So much for the so-called expert who knew the west coast like the back of his hand. By then, it was clear to Dennis that the fellow was just an idiot, and all of them who believed him were ever bigger idiots. So he decided they might as well go home.

They started the engine again and, following the direction of the expert, headed for Magellan where the playboy was waiting. After a few hours, Magellan was still nowhere to be seen. Soon it was getting dark and they still had no idea where exactly they were heading. That evening the sea began to swell; waves rose to a height of 10ft - 15ft, and it's obvious that they only had a few hours' worth of fuel left in the tank.

It was time to make a difficult decision. What would you do in such a situation? Would you continue wasting fuel heading towards nowhere?

Well, Dennis decided to stop the engine and drop anchor and just hope that they won't sink that night in the horrible storm. The crew members began to rebel; they said they wanted to go home—that remaining in the open sea like that was a stupid thing to do. Dennis replied that he, too, wanted to go home, but in which direction is home? He somehow convinced them to stay put and hope for the best that night; they have better chances when there's daylight the next morning.

So that night, in the big storm, they cuddled together like wet rats in the small cabin. No one could sleep, and the expert had no more advice to give. All his expertise had gone down the drain by then. Thankfully, however, they survived that night. The storm subsided shortly before dawn.

The next morning shone bright and clear, but still no land in sight. Then suddenly they saw a fishing trawler far away. Dennis told the boatmen to start the engine and try to catch up with the fishing trawler. Well, they did catch up with the other boat in the end, asked for direction to Magellan and finally barely reached Magellan with very little fuel left in the tank.

And what did the playboy say about this incident? Well, his favourite line, of course: It's a good experience for Dennis. Such experience will make him a strong and brave man.

But what if Dennis couldn't make it home that day? What good would the experience be then? Would you put your own son's life in the hands of someone you don't really know, who claims himself as expert? Would you still expect your son to respect you for being so reckless when dealing with his life?

Well, if I had a son, there is just no way I'd endanger his life like that. I just won't be able to forgive myself if he loses his life because of me. Expert fisherman my foot!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Spirit of Borneo

About 2 years ago, I posted an article entitled Imagine..., of which some of my friends voted as one of my best pieces. But I can't remember now why they liked that article. Perhaps it was the thought-provoking aspect of it that was interesting to them. I have since written quite a lot of other rubbish in this blog which have also won thumbs-up from my friends.

Anyway, while I was writing "Imagine...", I thought I'd just insert a photo for illustration purposes. I searched the net and found one which I thought was just perfect for my article. But I did not know the origin of that photo, and I did not quote my source.

Recently, a Director of our Sandakan office bought a limited-edition book entitled Spirit of Borneo. He bought one for himself, one for KK office, and another for our Group Chairman. It's basically a pictorial journey of Martin and Osa Johnson 1920 & 1935 in Sabah. Priced at RM300 each, I think it's well worth it. I realised that although the picture I posted in "Imagine..." is not included in the Spirit of Borneo, I now know that it came from the same source. So although a bit late in the day, I feel it's just right that I mention it here that that photo in "Imagine..." was one of Osa Johnson's.

I would recommend it to those of you who are keen to see what the native Sabahans looked like almost a century ago. It is just amazing how much we have progressed in less than a hundred years. I append below some of the pages to whet your appetite!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Knee Injury

Maybe I kinda pushed myself a bit too far last Tuesday. I did a quick 8km. There's a bit of pain in my right knee now. I rested it for a few days, thus missing out on important mid-week runs. By Saturday, it was OK again, but not totally recovered. Ran only 26km and felt half dead at the end of it.

Started my run at 5:30am on Saturday in an attempt to accustom my body to the same running condition in Singapore (the full marathon flags off at 5:30am). By 8am, it was maddeningly hot, I felt like fainting. The morning sun was biting into my neck, shoulders and arms. Oh I'm gonna suffer in Singapore.

I wonder if Viagra can also help pump more blood into my leg muscles, as opposed to only one organ in my body. It would be a very good excuse for taking that god-send drug, I'm sure. Then if I can't control the side effect of blood flowing into another muscle in my body, why surely that is not my fault, right? I'm only trying to perform well in the marathon? If the drug also helps me to perform well in another type of marathon, that is just a bonus, right?

OK, I'm done talking nonsense now. Good night folks, I'm off to bed now.

Searching For The Perfect Blend In Terengganu

I really should be writing about how a huge portion of our KK population must be living below the poverty line. Although I have no proper statistics to quote, I have the feeling that many, many of the KK households are still earning below RM3,000 per month.

But no, this post is not about being poor; it's not about struggling to make ends meet and homelessness among us Malaysians. It's about searching for the perfect blend in Terengganu.

"Body odour, humdrum sex and boring pyjamas have been blamed for the high divorce rate in Terengganu and the state government is coming up with innovative ways to improve sexual relations, especially among newly-weds."

[The Star]

Of those quoted excuses above, I think "boring pyjamas" stands out from the rest. But in this case, "pyjamas" refers to sarong and T-shirt. It's a bit difficult to imagine how these clothings can affect the sex lives of the Terengganu folks. For one would imagine that they would all come off for the final act in the end anyway?

Then again, I guess some people would find it more exciting to keep these clothings on during the act. And I supposed in that case, their lack of variety can lead to boredom, I don't know. Perhaps if the women wear leather girdles or G-strings, that might be a little helpful to get things started in the right direction. And when in due course, those, too, no longer work, maybe they can put on chicken suits or something, though admittedly the feathers can get in the way. It's annoying—that!

Regarding the problem with body odour, I am sure as hell glad that my spouse does not smell of fish crackers. Otherwise, while the entire world is in fear of the H1N1 virus, I would be praying really hard to have a perpetual flu.

However, humans are strange animals. In the course of trying to find something exciting to spice up the sex lives of the Terengganu folks, Muhammad Ramli shouldn't get too carried away. He shouldn't forget that not all divorces in Terengganu were caused by humdrum sex and boring pyjamas. Too much excitement and imagination may not be good either, and may also lead to divorce cases in Terengganu.

I wish the Terengganu folks all the best in their search for the perfect blend of sexual excitement to arrest the worrying divorce trend. And when they finally find that perfect formula, I bet they'd claim right as the Terengganu Formula For Blissful Marriage.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Bina Puri Family Day 2009

Bina Puri had its Family Day today at the Beringgis Beach Resort. Mia, who's the Legal Manager in the company, is also the President of the Sports Club for 2009. An estimated crowd of 300 people comprising company staff and family members were present.

We arrived at the resort a few minutes after 8am. Then we had buffet breakfast. Some families were half an hour late, which was true to the Malaysian habit. The games started at about 8:45am. I'm not a big fan of telematches, so I sort of found a nice spot to do my crosswords.

By the way, yes, there was that forsaken coconut bowling too. I really must find out who invented this particular silly game.

JJ enjoyed building the sand castle together with the other kids. And mommy was also there to help. But dad was only there to take this photo. If only I can squat like that for 5 minutes!... but oh well, those were the days. In the end, an hour's hard work earned the Yellow Team second place for the sand castle competition.

And here's the rascal getting ready for the ping-pong-ball-and-spoon race. She was supposed to have practised for this game since 2 weeks ago, but never gotten around to it because of her exams.

And here she is again in action. Mom, if you're reading this, I think our kid needs to eat a bit more, hmm? And for God's sake, let her hair grow longer, at least up to her shoulders?

Of course Mia also had the opportunity to play one of the games—the giant slippers race. That's her, second from the back of the Yellow Team.

And that's them in action about halfway through the race distance. Actually, they did quite well and ended up third. Unfortunately, there was some sort of technical problem and they had to do the race again a second time. And when they did it again the second time, they did not even reach the finish line, because they fell down and never had time to catch up.

After the games, we went to the hall for lunch. A clown was there to entertain the kids with some magic tricks and giving out baloons. At the end of lunch, they had lucky draws, the grand prize of which was a refrigerator. The event ended shortly after 1pm.

JJ had a swell time. Upon getting into the car on our way home, she asked mommy when's the next Family Day, and she's disappointed to have been told that it's gonna be a year from now!

Joint Interactor Installation Night 2009-2010

On 24 October 2009, the Rotary Club of Kota Kinabalu (RCKK) made history by organising the first ever Joint Interactor Installation Night for the 2009/2010 office bearers. Prior to this, the five Interact Clubs under the sponsorship of RCKK had been organising their respective installation nights separately.

The idea of a joint installation night was first suggested by President Frankie Fu during IPP Warrence Chan's term last year. I see it as quite an achievement since it's not so easy to bring all five schools together to organise such an event.

The event was well-received and the banquet hall at the Shangrilla Tanjung Aru Resort Hotel was fully occupied. The Guest of Honour was President Frankie Fu himself who attended the event with his charming spouse, Mary.

It so happened that one of the two MCs for the night was Liyana (left) of Team Jolly Roger which hunted in my KK Challenge 5 recently.

The new office bearers from the 5 Interact Clubs. I'm afraid I'm unable to identify all of them except for IPDG Edward Sung Burongoh (front seat, in Rotary batik) and President Frankie Fu (beside IPDG in suit and Rotary tie).

Some of us Rotarians also took the opportunity to pose for the camera. I was lucky enough to sit beside a charming young lady (unfortunately, I don't know what's her name!).

Some of my fellow Rotarians were asking me about my different outfit that night. So once and for all, let me explain it here. I did pay RM190 for the Rotary batik, but I never did get that batik! I must make it a point to pester Rtn Paul Thien and Rtn Iskandar Mohd Shah.