Monday, August 30, 2010

Weird Research

We should all be thankful that there are people who devote their lives to conduct numerous researches in the medical field, e.g. on cancer and AIDS, in the hope of saving lives; or at least prolonging the lives of those having those diseases. However, I can't help but smile when I read about some researches conducted by these medical people.

Take this one, for example, which has established that an average man gets less than 3 hours of orgasm throughout his lifetime. Interestingly, the doctor who conducted the study opined that "couples were only sexually active before and immediately after their marriage." There is, however, no mention of the age of marriage for an average man. I think it is quite safe to assume that these days only a small proportion of the male population—at least in an urban society like Singapore—would get married before the age of 25, but I doubt that it is possible to equate that age as the time when one is sexually active. I also happen to know quite a fair number of men over the age of 30 who're still unmarried, but I can't say for sure if they're not sexually active.

Apart from the age when one becomes sexually active, I'm also unsure of the estimate on the number of years one remains sexually active. I have a friend who told me that it's been years since he had sex with his wife. And he's only in his early fifties. I don't know why, but maybe it has a lot to do with him being small-sized like a mousedeer, whereas his wife had grown to become something like a Sumatran rhino? But on the other hand, I know of at least one man who's still sexually active in his mid sixties.

It is also unclear if Dr Fang has accounted for self-service sex. If he did not, I think that can distort his research quite a bit. And then, there is that estimate of 2.5 seconds per orgasm. There is no mention how that figure was arrived at. Perhaps some of you should time yourselves with a stopwatch the next time you become naughty with your spouses. Just be sure not to ask your spouses be the time keepers. It's not amusing—that!

I think this kind of study has a huge margin of error, thus rendering it quite meaningless. Besides, just in case the women would like to know, let me tell you that although the orgasm is the ultimate destination, most men put a lot of importance in what happens during the time before arriving at that destination. Most men, if not all, would not be happy if all they get is that few seconds of orgasm. No—they want the adventures of trying this and that, maybe even impossibly-creative acrobatic positions which would probably impress the Kundor woman. BUT!... not all of us are too crazy for the anus of a young man who looks too pretty to be a man.

So, Dr Fang Zhuang Wei, I think you should start thinking of a more useful study, so that mankind can benefit from it, hmm?

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Assessments

Sabahans, especially those living in the east coast, have been experiencing frequent power supply interruptions since many, many years ago. The problem has become quite critical in recent years. So it’s no surprise that the government had to embark on actually doing something about it, rather than just winning elections.

And because we have so many clever people in our government, of all the possible means of improving the power supply situation in the state, we simply had to opt for the coal-fired power plant which is of course more expensive than other alternatives. Apparently, the proposed coal power plant has a capacity of generating 300 MW. If I’m not mistaken, it was mentioned in a recent news article that the cost of the coal power plant is about RM2 billion; whereas a hydrocarbon fuel power plant of similar capacity would cost about RM1.6 billion.

Now as we all know, the cost of hydrocarbon fuel had escalated sharply over the recent years. Strictly based on the market forces of supply and demand, I doubt that there is much hope for the cost of hydrocarbon fuel to ever come down back to the good old days of USD30 per barrel. Instead, I think it is likely to increase even further in the years to come! Therefore, although it may be several hundred million Ringgit cheaper to construct a fuel power plant now as opposed to the coal power plant, we may have serious cost implications in the future.

Nevertheless, cost is just one of the many factors in the equation. Apart from the issue of the emissions of CO2 and other contaminants into the environment, there are concerns of irreversible destruction of the environment and the many plant and animal species therein. I shall not go into the details of these concerns here, since one can quite easily google up on “coal-fired power plant in Sabah”, and there will be plenty of materials there.

I think most of us are aware of the potential negative effects of a coal-fired power plant in Sabah—that there is some truth in the potential detrimental consequences on our fragile environment. But we are not all environmental scientists, so we don’t really know the extent of those negative consequences.

But because of these concerns, we have had quite a number of the so-called Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA) prepared by numerous parties. Needless to say, the EIAs prepared by professionals working for the government concluded that the coal-fired power plant is a good idea. Because our politicians are in favour of the coal-fired power plant—for reasons known only to them—I would have been extremely surprised if their professional environmentalists had concluded against their beloved coal-fired power plant. On the other hand, the EIAs prepared by the opposing side arrived at the opposite conclusion. So which of these “assessments” would you trust?

Well, maybe it’s me, but I'm inclined to trust the EIAs prepared by those opposing the coal-fired power plant. There appear to be sufficient evidence to support the drive against the coal power plant, but of course the government will always find ways to construct the forsaken plant, one way or another. I think this thing about trying to collect as many signatures as possible in the hope of sending a petition to the government against the coal power plant shall be in vain. We all know that when these people have made up their minds to build the power plant, they will build it sooner or later. The only way to stop the plan is currently unavailable. The people will just have to wait till a year or two from now.

And so we have since seen the production of the government's Detailed Environmental Impact Assessment (DEIA) (note that there is now that additional word “Detailed”), which, unfortunately, has been rejected by the Department of Environment (DOE). Apparently, this latest decision by the DOE was welcomed by various quarters, especially those non-governmental organizations which have been fighting hard against the coal-fired power plant.

Quite honestly, I don’t know what’s the excitement all about. It’s not like our government is gonna give it up on account of the DOE’s decision. Some people have too much to lose if that should happen. Out of nowhere, suddenly we have 1,500 villagers showing support for the coal-fired power plant. My guess is, we shall soon see an improved version of the Detailed Environmental Impact Assessment (DEIA)—in fact, I think it will be known as the Extremely Detailed Environmental Impact Assessment (EDEIA).

Monday, August 23, 2010

JJ & Ride of Her Life

Two Sundays ago, after Mia and I finished our respective long runs on a Sunday morning, I received a text message from Andrew informing me that there were several newly-arrived road bikes at the Tanjung Aru shop. So after breakfast, we decided to check out the bike shop. Unfortunately, we were too excited about the bikes, we forgot that JJ was in the car with us.

When we arrived at the bike shop, we saw the Meridas and began asking the shop keeper about some technical stuff. But while we were busy checking out the bikes, JJ was also busy surveying the wide range of bikes there. It wasn't long for her to fall in love with a green-coloured bike. Now to be quite honest, I was somewhat outdated on bike prices. I was thinking like perhaps RM100 to RM200 for a kid's bike. So you can imagine my surprise when I saw the price tag of RM450 on the bike.

I turned to Mia and sort of told her to do her thing. She negotiated with the shopkeeper, and then later I joined in the negotiation. In the end, we managed to bring down the price to RM370. I thought it was still expensive for a kid's bike, but looking at JJ's pleading eyes and the smile on the face, I melted and I knew that I was gonna be RM370 poorer that day. As soon as the price was agreed, Mia turned to me and nodded her head, indicating that that's where I come in!

But JJ had to wait for the whole of the following week to actually try out her new bike. We promised to bring her on Saturday or Sunday. So every night throughout the week, when she arrived home, she would check out her bike, just to make sure that it's still intact.

In the mean time, remembering how it was when I first learned to ride a bike as a boy many years ago, I thought it's a good idea to buy some safety stuff. I can't even remember if they had such things as knee guards and elbow guards when I was a boy. Anyway, I became another RM120 poorer after that.

Saturday evening, we were unable to keep our promise because it was raining. JJ was in danger of missing her first bike lesson the next day because of the rain. At about 2:30pm in the afternoon, it was still drizzling, but of course JJ was blind to the rain. She stepped out into the open on our compound and yelled, "Look, dad, there's no rain!"

I said, "Yeah, right—even if it's pouring now, you would say it's not raining!"

And then shortly later, the rain really stopped completely. So mom, dad and JJ quickly got into the car and drove to the sports complex. On the way there, JJ was already busy putting on her helmet, and all those silly paddings on her knees and elbows, complete with a pair of gloves too.

The road surface at the complex was still wet, of course, but at least it wasn't raining. So dad installed JJ onto the bike and had to hold on to the seat from behind while JJ started pedalling and balancing. She was unsteady at first, but at least she did not fall off the bike. In hindsight, I think all those protective gears were kinda silly! I must say that JJ was a fast learner—I was quite surprised because she's not known to be naturally talented when it comes to her motor skill.

That's JJ in full concentration on the bike's handle. As in the case of her mom, I had to keep reminding her that there's a purpose for the brakes on the bike. As a boy learning to ride a bike many years ago, I can still remember all the cuts and bruises on my knees and elbows. But of course the playboy was not around to chase after me, holding on to the bike, for a good few hundred metres to prevent me from falling off the bike. Thankfully though JJ very quickly became comfortable on the bike. So we just let her go totally on her own!

After a few minutes, JJ was more relaxed on the bike and was actually able to lift her head to look in front of her. The car park area at the sports complex was quite spacious, and JJ spent a while riding round and round while dad and mom became the fools running after her, but keeping our distance shouting instructions and taking pictures.

Then came the horrifying part where JJ did not want to stop playing with her bike. A little bit longer, a little bit longer, a little bit longer!

It's been raining mostly over Saturday and Sunday. So I was unable to run that morning. But earlier on, I made plans to go running with Dr Peter from the Likas track up the Signal Hill to Jalan Istana and then back to Likas again. That was not a very long run, but I dreaded the thought of the hills. So running after JJ like that did not accord well with my plan for the evening.

And then God showed some mercy on me by bringing back the rain. So JJ had to stop her biking lesson. Oh you should have seen that smile on her face! And as you would probably have guessed, she has not stopped talking about her very first bike ride up to now!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Porn Returns

Thai forensic pathologist, Dr Pornthip Rojansunand. Those of you who don't know her, she's the one in the yellow shirt on the left—not the one on the right.

Just a couple of months ago I wrote about Dr Pornthip who's presently in the spotlight again in the ongoing Teoh Beng Hock's inquest. She caused quite a stir in April when she refused to return to Malaysia as the expert witness on grounds that she's been threatened. Yet now she is back in Malaysia again and actually appeared in court today as the expert witness for the inquest. [The Star]

I can't imagine how Dr Pornthip sleeps at night—it must be extremely difficult to have a proper sleep with that unique hairstyle, but apart from that she must be constantly worried for her life. For better or for worse, I hope she won't end up in a secluded jungle and shot in the head and then blown up into pieces. That would be a great loss. After all, how many doctors you know have that kind of hair, for crying out loud?

I find it very interesting that the counsel for the MACC, Datuk Abdul Razak Musa, questioned Dr Pornthip's credibility, qualifications and experience. I suppose nobody can blame Abdul Razak. If I were in his shoes, I'd imagine having a hard time suppressing my roar of laughter.

But jokes aside, I have the feeling that all the trouble of bringing Dr Pornthip to Malaysia to testify will come to nothing in the end. The MACC simply can't lose this action—Malaysia has too much at stake if that should happen. So I think one way or another, in the end somehow the court will come to the conclusion of suicide. After all, the MACC's expert is said to be more qualified since he's from Bristol University; and just a few days ago, an alleged suicide note by the victim had suddenly surfaced from the abyss of his bag after 18 months of police investigation.

So the stage has been set for the grand finale; the music has started. All that's left now is for the lawyers to dance to the tune, and the judge to announce his finding.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Baby Dumping—Capital Punishment?

During one of the recent long runs on a Sunday with Dr Peter, we talked at length about unwanted teen pregnancies and incidents of baby-dumping. He opined that sex education can't really help to reduce these problems, because he said in the western countries, teenagers are generally well informed about sex, yet there are still many cases of teen pregnancies. I think I agree with Dr Peter.

However, I don't know if the same can be said about baby dumping. What does it take for a woman, or even a young teenaged girl, to go against the motherly instinct of protecting her own flesh and blood, to dump her baby and leave it to die? That is something even fierce animals like tigers would not do.

Morality and the sense of responsibilities have somehow been left out of the upbringing. Instead, it's selfishness that prevails. Although the element of fear is one of the many factors which can lead to baby dumping, I think the stronger factor is that of shame. In spite of all the so-called religious upbringing, when the teenaged girl accidentally becomes pregnant, she is unwilling to accept the responsibility for her mistake. First, there is the fear of the responsibility of parenthood. Then there is that shame of the act itself.

The tigress is free from fear and shame—its act is only controlled by its motherly instinct. But for a young woman (especially unmarried woman), the fear and shame overwhelm the motherly instinct. So strong is the fear, and so strong is the shame, coupled with selfishness, she is willing to dump/abandon her baby and leave it to die.

The problem is becoming quite rampant in Malaysia to the extent that the Government is making baby dumping (which can lead to the baby's death) a capital crime. [The Star] It means that the guilty person may be charged with the death penalty.

Unfortunately, I think no amount of threat of punishment—even the death penalty—can be stronger than the elements of fear and shame. Some people would rather take their chances trying to escape the law rather than face shame. In fact, they would rather die than facing the shame! [The Star]

I can't imagine what it is like to be a newly-born baby left to die a slow death because of exposure to the harsh environment or of starvation. And I can't imagine what goes on in the mind of the mother who did that to her own child. But I believe even if she is able to escape the long arms of the law, sooner or later justice shall overtake her somehow.

Saturday, August 14, 2010


A picture of one of the many rubbish bins in my office. Most people from this part of the world would know what that white thing in the bin is. But for the benefit of my visitors from the other parts of the world, that white thing is a polystyrene (I believe known as the Styrofoam in America) container which is commonly used to pack food, otherwise locally referred to as tapau.

I wonder if anyone has conducted any research on how many tons of these polystyrene containers would end up at the garbage dumping ground everyday. Although I myself have not done any research, I bet it's possible to see at least a 30% to 40% increase in the use of polystyrene containers like the above between now and the second week of September.

Sorry, folks, no special prizes for those who can guess why I deduced such an increase.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Humans—The Exceptionally Intelligent Creatures

Aren't you amazed at how far we've come from our lifestyle during the stone age? I can imagine that many thousands or even millions of years ago, we lived very much like any other animals. But we're blessed with intelligence—we had visions and could plan ahead. We learned from our mistakes, and each time we corrected those mistakes, we improved even further.

From a very humble beginning, we now have machines to help us do things easier and faster. We can produce goods and build gigantic structures much faster than before. We can take to the sky, and we can explore the depths of the oceans. We have computers from which we can work, communicate and play.

We are so lucky that we have been bestowed with such exceptional intelligence. We are truly such amazing creatures.

Well, Ok, maybe I'm exaggerating a bit—maybe not all of us are very intelligent. Some of us may wake up one day and then suddenly become inspired to go back to the lifestyle of thousands of years ago, in fact to the lifestyle of a fallen empire. [The Star]

We seem to be quite talented in turning the clock back, aren't we? Yes, that would explain why we're building a coal power plant here in Sabah. Who knows, tomorrow we may come up with the brilliant idea of using the camels instead of motor vehicles.

Yeah, that so is like us.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Loverboy Wins The Day

Malaysian lawmaker Bung Mokhtar Radin, left, wipes tears from his eyes after he has escaped going to jail for entering a polygamous marriage without official consent, as his second wife Zizie Ezette looks on at an Islamic High Court in Shah Alam, Wednesday, August 11, 2010.

Of course the teary act was disgusting, but, well, the Kinabatangan MP, Datuk Bung Mokhtar Radin has escaped the jail sentence. [Bintulu] This is not a surprising conclusion—obviously anyone with a bit of common sense would’ve seen it coming months ago. I fancy that the loverboy MP is having a hard time suppressing his inclination to do the middle-finger thing to his many political rivals right now, if you know what I mean.

I have no idea why these people had even bothered with the charade of the Syariah High Court trial. I mean, it’s not like there was any other possible outcome to this whole comedy? I suspect it had something to do with creating a bit of news—no matter how frightfully pathetic it is—to fill up our local papers, among the other news articles about how the BN Government had done this nation so much good.

It kinda reminds me of the Kartika woman who was caught drinking beer in a hotel lobby, and consequently earned herself a few strokes of the rattan. Except that that sentence, too, was eventually reduced to a prescribed duration of “community service”, whatever that means.

So congratulations, Datuk—you’re da man! But let this be a lesson to you; if by any chance you’re planning for no. 3—that seems like a natural progression somehow—make sure you secure the Syariah Court’s consent first, ya hear?

And by the way, here’s to a great Ramadan for you and your family(ies).

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Afida in Wonderland

I have mentioned in the previous post that my friends, Andrew and Teo, will be joining the Sprint Triathlon in Miri this October. Their participation is intended to be something of a fact-finding mission for our circle of friends who're keen to know what the triathlon is like. We reckoned that whatever little experience Andrew and Teo can gain from the sprint would be useful for our preparation.

Although there is no question that Andrew and Teo can both afford to travel in luxury, they decided to share a hotel room for this particular outing. So Andrew made the necessary reservations with a clerk in a hotel in Miri, explaining that he required a room to share with a friend. After making some preliminary enquiries, Andrew received an email from the hotel, confirming his room reservation:

Good afternoon

Dear Mr Andrew Voon

This is your confirmation booking as per below

Room confirmation no: XXXXXXXXX
1) Guest name: Mr Andrew Voon
Check in: 30th October 2010
Check out: 31 October 2010
Room type: 1 Deluxe Sea view rooms, 1 Twin Sharing Bed
Room rate: RM150 nett per room per night (Include 2 breakfast)
Payment: Personal Account


Afida Sabtu

Reading the above email, Andrew became fairly alarmed. He decided to write back to Afida:

Afida—we need 1 TWIN SHARING ROOM ie 1 room with 2 single beds—not 1 TWIN SHARING BED!!

Andrew Voon

And then shortly after that, Andrew received a reply from Afida:

Dear Mr Andrew

Actually twin sharing bed or twin sharing room is the same type of room. Inside the room have 2 separate bed which is queen sized bed of each.


Afida Sabtu

So now Andrew is happier with this latest reply from Afida. But perhaps because he remembered that I have a torturous mind—with that curious affinity to analyse everything even when those analysis are not required—decided to share the emails with me.

I told Andrew not to be too happy with this latest reply. For we don't know if Afida is really sure of what she's talking about. 2 queen sized bed(s) in one room? The only thing that we can be sure of is that Afida could use a bit of improvement in her English.

I told Andrew to make sure that they're not getting only one queen sized bed. We have had enough of Anwar and Saiful in the Sodomy 2 Trial. We don't need a Sodomy Part 3: The Andrew and Teo Saga. Enough of these pathetic sequels please!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Shopping For A Road Bicycle

It's been only a couple of weeks since the topic of attempting the triathlon was first raised at the potluck dinner at Andrew's. I thought it's an appealing idea. Having conquered 3 marathons and several other shorter races, it seemed only natural to explore trying something else. However, I still have a couple of races lined up for the next couple of months, i.e. a half marathon in September, a 30km race in October, and another full marathon in November. I didn't think it's such a good idea to squeeze a triathlon into my race schedule. But God willing, I would like to try the triathlon next year.

Little did I know, Teo became so excited at the very mention of the word "triathlon". Within no time at all, he had flown to Manila to buy a GIANT road bike. And then last Sunday, while Dr Peter and I were running laboriously from the Likas Sport Complex to 1Borneo and back, Teo and Andrew did the same route on their bikes. Teo seemed so happy with his new toy.

After the long run, we met Dr Felice at the car park. She had her brandnew bike which she bought the day before. And she came complete with her sexy bicycle tights too. A bunch of them crowded around her. As we were talking, Mia approached the car park. She had just finished her 17km run.

Upon Felice's encouragement, Mia attempted her first ever ride on a bicycle in 35 years. I stood there looking at my wife riding a bicycle—wobbly and very robotic, and it made my knees go very weak just watching her in action. But she actually managed to balance herself on the bike for an amazing 10 metres or so. The next thing she needs to know, I think, is that in order to stop a moving bicycle, one is supposed to use the brakes, not by using the feet on the ground. I can't remember if I had to pick up my jaw from the ground, but at least now I'm more convinced that we can probably invest in a road bike each.

As I said, we are not in a big hurry to attempt a triathlon, although Teo and Andrew have already signed up for the Miri Sprint Triathlon at the end of October. But I reckoned that it would be good to buy a bike as soon as possible, so that we can practise riding for a bit. That way, perhaps by the time we begin to seriously train for a triathlon next year, we would no longer be starting from zero!

These days road bikes are a very complicated matter. I never knew that there are specific measurements and sizes for the riders. But thankfully, Andrew was kind enough to tell me a general guide on how to determine the suitable size. According to him, the way to find out is something like this:

Step 1:

Measure your inseam. This is best done barefooted. Stand against the wall and put a book between your legs so that it presses right up against your pelvic bone. Then make a mark with a pencil on the wall along the top of the book. Measure the distance from the floor to the mark in centimetres.

Step 2:

Use your inseam measurement to get the rough idea of your road bike size. Multiply the distance by 0.65. This will give you a good estimate of your road bike size measured centre to centre.

So this morning at the office, I thought I might as well find out what's the right size for my road bike. I went to the receptionist at the entrance lobby and asked for the measuring tape. Then I started measuring my inseam. She looked at me, puzzled. I entertained the idea of using a book pressed against my crotch as mentioned in Step 1 above. But in the end I decided against it, because I had the feeling that my receptionist would not dare to touch the phonebook after I was done with it.

Well, to make the long story short, I'm looking for a 50-cm frame, or size M. That should be about right, because after all Teo is riding a size M/L, which is a 53-cm frame.

In the mean time, a friend, Claire, who's also into marathons and surfing (not internet surfing!), and now triathlon, has been writing emails to the Merida distributor in KL to get some idea on bike models and prices. I think I can safely say that we should be having our bikes before the end of this month. But of course I still need to tell Mia how to use the brakes on the bike.

There will be other matters to deal with, of course—the scary thought of getting into a bicycle tights, since I can imagine that I won't look very sexy in tights like Kate Beckinsale.

Then there's the learning of the freestyle, although Teo and Andrew are talking about "Total Immersion Swimming". But I don't know if they're confused between swimming and scuba diving.

So much more to do in preparation for a triathlon in 2011. But I can see it all now—it's gonna be a lot of fun attempting a new challenge!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Religious Dinner & Direct-Selling Businesses

A couple of weeks ago, a friend invited me to a dinner scheduled for 6 August, Friday. I had no idea what the occasion was about, but because I did not have anything on on that day, I accepted the invitation. The dinner was held at the STAR Hotel, in Tanjung Aru.

It turned out that it was some sort of religious gathering organised by a church. I pass that church all the time. I think I can safely say that that church is easily the most sophisticated church in KK, if not in the whole of Sabah. It has an extremely huge auditorium and a big stage.

Many years ago, I had been attending the Catholic congregations for a while. It wasn't a case of being religious on my part. Rather, it was mainly to oblige my mother-in-law's wish to at least attend several sessions, perhaps in the hope of making it a permanent routine. But it was not meant to be. I simply had too many questions which of course couldn't be answered. In fact, religions are mainly about faith, nothing much to do about logic and tangible evidence.

There is of course no foreseeable hope for me to ever embrace any religion. That night, after the dinner (it was a buffet dinner), some of those at my table left shortly when the "religious" portion of the event started. But being the curious animal that I am, I stayed on till the very end to observe the proceedings.

They started with singing—about God and Jesus, y'know, the usual stuff in any church. That was followed by some young girls singing and dancing with more religious songs. I thought it was kinda unique because it was life music with guitars, drums etc, just like a typical band in the pubs, except that these were religious songs. According to my friend, that's how the singings are conducted in their Sunday congregations.

In the Catholic church, what I can remember was that there were also some songs too, but accompanied by an organ, and maybe a guitar. The songs were mainly led by a choir. Certainly not the kind of band we had at STAR that night. It was quite an interesting "invention", in my opinion.

The thing about people, when they are in a group, is that there is a kind of peer pressure to follow the tide. If one finds himself amongst all the religious people, there is a kind of shame if he is not also religious. But I have never really been affected by such influence. Therefore, I observed, and I got onto my feet as a gesture of respect. But when it was time to go to the stage on the invitation of the Pastor, I did not go. I could see how the hosts at the other tables trying very hard to ask their respective guests to go. And of course some of them did go. Whether they went because of "peer pressure" or because they really wanted to go on their own accord, I couldn't tell.

In all religions, the members almost always want to recruit new members. In fact, I'm convinced that that is an important element of all religions! And those of you who are in the direct selling businesses or online marketing thing would know that the more members you can recruit, the more successful the business will be. The selling point is that if one wants to enter the kingdom of God, the way to do so is through this religion only! And all the religions will claim that their religion is the true one; and their God is the true one!

I have always said that most religions are generally very good. I think if ever I want to embrace any religion at all, I would just go back to the Catholic church, because after all that's the religion which was "given" to me. There is really not much point to switch to another religion because quite frankly, religions to me are just something like social clubs. None of them are perfect—I have said before that they're human inventions. They are full of procedures and obligations to perform, but people's hearts are not necessarily "clean" just because they are religious.

A man is involved in a road accident. He lies paralyse in his wrecked up car. A man who's on his way to a Sunday morning mass passes by and notices the dying man. But he does not stop because he's already running late for church. His love for God is just too great and absolutely nothing will stop him from attending the Sunday mass on time!

And then another man who is without any religion arrives at the scene. Using his cellphone, he calls for help. While waiting for the arrival of the ambulance, he talks to the injured fellow and gives him words of encouragement. That does not really help to lessen the pain, but he tries to comfort the injured man anyway. Soon, the ambulance arrives to take the injured man to the hospital. But in the end, the injured man dies anyway!

Now if God really does exist, which of the two men do you think God would welcome into heaven on judgement day—the one who loved Him so much to the extent of not even stopping to help a fellow human; or the one who's got no religion, but tried to help a man in distress?

I want to try to be a good person in my life; I try to help others if I can. If I had a bit of extra cash, I would like to use it to give education to poor kids, or food to those who're dying of hunger. I doubt that I would use my money to help build a church with a huge auditorium, and escalators, and all the grand modern design. Many churches these days have too much emphasis on image. I would rather use the resources to help others in need. I'd like to believe that the act of kindness to others means much more to God than building beautiful expensive churches where we can sing praises to Him.

Monday, August 2, 2010

The Raging Fire

A page from JJ's Bahasa Malaysia text book. For the benefit of those who're not well-versed with the language, let me try to translate it into English:

"Malay Warriors

Dato' Sagor and Dato' Maharaja Lela were brave Malay warriors. They dared to fight against the English colonists in Perak. Whereas Seputum was the one who murdered J.W.W. Birch, the first English Resident in Perak. He was killed because he did not respect the Malay customs at the time.

Their good deeds and sacrifice are now immortalised in the Kompleks Sejarah of Pasir Salak."

If that was indeed how it had happened many, many years ago, I have nothing much to say about the history part of it. But JJ raised an interesting question to mommy.

She said, "But isn't it wrong to kill the man, mom? Why is a killer praised for what he did?"

The mind of a child who's free from hatred and the will to kill another human being. She is confused about why a man who took the life of another was praised and remembered for his "good deeds".

Mom and dad had to tell JJ that killing another man is wrong no matter what. The world is made of so many people from so many backgrounds, sizes, colours and creed. We can't please everybody, and we can't expect everybody to agree with our ideology. There will be times when they may even belittle us because of what we believe in. Likewise, we may also not share their beliefs.

It is good if we can respect each other and live in harmony. But there will be some who are disrespectful. That still does not give us the right to kill them.

Anger is a dangerous thing—it is like a raging fire. If we failed to control it, it will eventually burn all of us!

Deadly Massage?

“I will massage him when he starts to talk about younger women. This will dissuade him from thinking about them”

The famous 108-year-old woman, Wook Kundor—not kendur, mind you!—explaining to the press [The Star] how she's been keeping her husband, who's some 70 years younger than her, faithful!

No, I have no idea if her husband is blind or not—but there is no mention about his eyesight in the news article.

The massage usually takes up to an hour. Quite a bloody long massage—that! It was the same massage that she used to keep all her previous 22 husbands remain true to her until their death. Twenty-two freakin' husbands before this! I bet even Elizabeth Taylor would be impressed!

Now I'm thinking if too much massage can actually kill; I wonder if her previous twenty-two husbands died in the blaze of excitement during the blissful massage! If that is so, then at least some people died happy?

Please excuse my rampant use of the exclamation marks. I just can't control it...

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Venturing Into Unchartered Territories

During the recent potluck dinner at Andrew's, we were discussing about what other challenges we could do. We thought of several things, one of which was the climbathon. The last time I went up the mountain, I felt like I almost died because of altitude sickness. Several doctors have since told me that it is possible to die because of altitude sickness. So the climbathon is most certainly a no-no for me.

Then someone brought up the subject of the triathlon. I guess the triathlon is more promising than the climbathon since I don't have the altitude to worry about. However, the last time I rode a bicycle must have been more than 25 years ago. And if I'm not wrong it's been more than 15 years ago since my last visit to the pool. I think I still have it in me to try the triathlon, but maybe not so soon. I probably need a bit of time to buy a decent bike and find out if I still know how to ride one.

But the most difficult discipline, I think, is the swimming. I have never been any good in the freestyle. When I was much younger, I could do a couple of laps, but even then I was mainly using the breast stroke, you see. Well, because I haven't been swimming for such a long time, I did not even know if I could still float in the pool. At any rate, even if it's such a big challenge, I could at least give it a try. Perhaps we should start scouting around for a suitable event some time next year.

Then I started a forum via exchanges of emails with some friends just to gauge the interest, and to start the ball rolling. And then before I knew it, Teo became so excited with the idea. Within a few days, he was all so pumped up for a triathlon. The plan about next year's triathlon suddenly disappeared. Instead, Teo is all out to join the Miri Triathlon at the end of October this year!

I think Teo caught some of us by surprise. Well, at least I did not see it coming! And then in no time, Teo had even tried out what he called a "mini-mini" triathlon of his own (yes, Teo is talented in coming up with new sporting terms), i.e. comprising swimming several hundred metres, biking in the gym, and followed by running on the treadmill. His verdict was that the triathlon is "doable"!

Well, Teo inspired Andrew who in turn also did his version of the "mini-mini" triathlon. He, too, gave a verdict of "doable". So the two of them appear to be heading for Miri in October. The rest of us, I think, have not recovered from the shock. But the idea is beginning to sink in by now. In the forum, I raised my concerns about the swimming leg of the event. But Teo and Andrew will go ahead even with the breast stroke!

Well, I did not even know if I could still do the breast stroke. The only thing I'm certain I could do is breast-stroking, but that has nothing to do with swimming. So I decided that I might as well try to find out. Well, one fine day I went to the Suria Shopping Mall to buy a swimming trunk and a pair of goggles. For a brief moment, I considered putting some scratches on my goggles, so that it's not too obvious that it's still new, you see.

I wasn't sure if I could still fit into a swimming trunk, but last Tuesday I finally got into the swimming trunk for the first time in over 15 years! I was pleasantly surprised that the tightness did not cause any migraine. I jumped into the water and for a few seconds I thought I was gonna die of hypothermia. Turned out that I could still float!... and I could do the breast stroke! But into the second stroke, I pulled a muscle just below my left shoulder blade. A short rest and then I finally decided to try the freestyle. And wow! I could swim almost a full 40 metres without stopping! It was so pathetic, I tell you!

A short while later, a friend of mine who's a professional swimming coach showed up. He watched me swim from one end of the pool to the other end. While I was swimming, I was conscious of him walking at the side of the pool. He was shouting instructions to me—I think it's something to do with my arms; or was it my legs? Anyway, my main focus then was just to remain alive and floating.

I stopped somewhere in between, but I finally reached the other end of the pool. My friend was already there waiting for me. The first thing he said to me was "too stiff"! And I thought, he wasn't even looking at my crotch? Well, I finally completed a pathetic 400 metres that day. Never mind how many million times I rested in between, but I must seriously doubt that I will be ready for the Miri Triathlon! Well, not unless I plan to be in the front pages of every major papers for all the wrong reasons.

In the mean time, Teo has visited practically all the bicycle shops in KK. And from a decent budget, he has now gone far beyond the original idea of a "simple bike". He's going all the way to Manila to buy one (I never knew that Manila is the best place to buy a sports bike). And perhaps by this time next week, he will be already playing Lance Armstrong on his new bike!

The rest of us mere mortals are still contemplating if we're really into doing a triathlon this October. Dr Felice said she wanted to ride someone's mountain bike to get the feel of it first. Mia was more ambitious—she suggested that we try out a mini triathlon next Sunday, until I reminded her that we don't even have a bike. Perhaps she was thinking of using JJ's toy bike for her triathlon training, I don't know.

In the mean time, I'm doing the Singapore Bay Run in September. I'm also trying to sign up for the Newton 30km, but I received an email recently from the organiser, informing me that they don't even accept Malaysian credit cards. Then of course the Penang Bridge International Marathon. So I've been quite busy this lately, you see. I just hope I will survive all this!