Friday, September 24, 2010

Jantung Pisang

If only I could charge some sort of entertainment fee every time I make my wife laugh, she'd owe me quite a hell lot of money by now. We've been married for a little over 18 years. If I were to include those courting years, it'd be more than 20 years. Oh yes, she'd owe me a hell lot of money, I tell you!

I must admit that I sometimes can't control my sense of humour; and I can't resist the temptation to make people laugh, you see. But sometimes I don't even mean to be funny, yet people would find what I say or do very funny all the same; I don't know why, maybe it's some sort of blessing—or curse. Such was the case when I once tried to explain to Mia about jantung pisang.

Jantung pisang are of course Malay words which can be translated literally to banana's heart. Now Mia's general knowledge, as far as things like plants and machineries are concerned, is not so good. And it happened that she did not know what a jantung pisang was.

She was like, "What, bananas have hearts too?" and started smiling.

I told her quite seriously that there's indeed such a thing as jantung pisang. But Mia was not convinced, she thought I was just kidding. At that particular moment, I could not locate a banana tree, but I was determined to describe to Mia what a jantung pisang look like.

So I started describing that there is usually a long rugged stump sticking out of the banana tree. In fact, that stump is a part of the fruits. And at the base of that stump, usually one is able to see a bunch of hairy stuff, you see.

As I was describing to Mia, she started laughing. And as I went on describing, her laughter became louder.

Just as I reached that part about the hairy stuff, she interrupted me and said, "Yeah, I know, at the end of that stump, there is something of a bulge which is reddish or pinkish in colour—sometimes even purplish in colour, right?"—all the time laughing uncontrollably.

I said, "Hey, how did you know!?"

And then Mia laughed hysterically!

Yeah, I think Mia would owe me a lot of money for all those years of laughter, including those times when I did not even mean to make her laugh!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


If I were a tycoon and could afford the best medical expertise to cure an illness, would it be wrong for me to use my money to buy my way through a long queue of patients so that I get treated first instead of those who’ve been waiting much longer in line before me?

I suspect many would find such an attitude disgusting! But the reality about the survival instinct is that we’re willing to do unimaginable things in order to remain alive. When in desperation, we might pay a lot of money to preserve life, quite often even when we can’t really afford it!

For example, say that I’m dying of a failing kidney, and desperately need a quick kidney transplant. There are many others in the same situation, but unfortunately we don’t have very many kidney donors. There may be some people out there who’re keen to donate, but do not see the urgency of the matter. Some people procrastinate, you see. If they are willing to donate, would it be unethical to use money to bid for their organs? It seems so wrong, somehow.

That’s why Datuk Dr Harjit Singh is condemning the act of buying or selling organs [The Star]. And then Datin Dr Lela opined that the act is unethical. However, it would be very interesting to see what would happen if Harjit and Lela themselves are dying of kidney failure, or perhaps their loved ones are suffering the illness; and the only available option to remain alive is from a donor who demands RM50,000 for one of his kidneys. I wonder if they would rather die, or let their loved ones die, than spending that RM50,000, especially if they can easily afford that amount.

People are always fast to condemn what others do on “ethical” grounds. But survival is a very strong motivation—it is a built-in instinct that is not easy to go against. We would all love to live another day—to see another sunrise; to see the smiles and hear the laughter of our loved ones just one more time. One should be dying of kidney failure himself in order to really know what people in that situation are going through. And only then is he truly qualified to say whether the act is ethical or not. This world is after all not perfect, and it will never be! All we can do is to try to make the best of it. And sometimes, the best means we may need to use money to get things done. I’m afraid that’s reality.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


I’ve been meaning to find out for myself about the so-called “compression” running tights. I’ve heard of mainly positive comments from fellow runners, and although I am not such a big fan of running tights, I reckoned that it’s probably time to invest in a pair.

Apparently, compression tights can help in delaying the onset of fatigue; speeding up muscle recovery; improving blood circulation etc. In fact, it sounded like an amazing invention for runners!

During a recent trip to Singapore, a friend brought me to this mall known as Velocity, which accommodated a wide range of sports merchandises. We checked out a couple of brands, but I eventually settled for the 2XU Compression tights. It wasn’t cheap, I’ll tell you that—I bought a pair for S$219.00 (RM500).

Before that, I had never seen the tights except those worn by runners. So I was fairly alarmed to find an extremely small piece of fabric in the box. In fact, it looked very much like a black-coloured pantyhose, save for the fact that it’s made of a thicker fabric. According to the shop assistant, it’s not necessary to put on any undies—the tights alone would be good enough. Hmm, the thought of my weenee running all over the place while I’m running races—it’s not amusing, that!

Well, I went back to my hotel room, and after a pleasant bath, decided to attempt the Herculean task of getting into that tiny thing. I think a part of the difficulty was because I was worried that I would tear the fabric, but actually it’s not so easily torn. After a few minutes, I finally managed to get both my feet through. Then the slow process of gradually pulling ‘em up my calves up to the knees. That, too, took a bit of time. The damn thing’s really tight. I repeated the same process beyond my thighs, and finally successfully got the final portion up to my waistline—phew!

I was pleasantly surprised to find that in spite of that word “compression”, my testicles were not crushed. So I’m now in the position to confirm that that word “compression” has nothing to do with the groin area!

In my excitement, I texted Dr Peter to report that I am now the proud owner of a pair of compression tights; and that my testicles are not crushed! Dr Peter replied kindly, giving his diagnosis that perhaps my testicles must have shrunken from all the running. He went on to say that that’s good news as I would have lesser weight to run with. He added, however, that it’s quite an irony that a man with small testicles is pursuing a big record! You can probably tell why Dr Peter is my very good friend—he gives very good encouragements to me, although he’s perhaps not quite right up there. But that’s a different story.

Although it was very tempting, I decided not to run in my new tights for the Singapore Bay Run the next morning. I wanted to try running in them during one of my long runs first. I didn’t think that I would feel any significant effect trying it during my short runs.

Well, my chance to try out my tights came last Sunday when I ran a moderate 27km between Likas sports complex-Indah Permai shops-Likas sports complex along the Sulaman highway. Unfortunately, Dr Peter, my usual running buddy, was not around as he’s away to the UK. So I had to run alone for the most part of the workout. The rest of the adiNation folks ran shorter distances that day.

When I reached Likas sports complex to finish my run, most of the adiNation friends have gone home, except for Mia, Judy, and then later joined by Dr Liaw who did a few extra laps at the running track. Although Judy did not comment anything about shrunken testicles, she did say that my legs looked like they’re smaller in the tights.

My verdict so far is that I still can’t feel any significant benefits running in the compression tights. No cramps, of course, but after all it was just a 27km run. As a general rule, the “wall” is around Km 30. So I suppose I will only know if the tights can really help when I run a 30km or more. But I’m afraid that’s not coming so soon—not till 10 October in the Newton 30km in Singapore. Beyond that, I will have a few more opportunities to experiment with the tights, as I will be doing at least 2 more long runs of 32km-35km prior to the Penang Bridge International Marathon on 21 November.

At any rate, I hope that the tights can help—at least a bit. Otherwise, I’m really gonna hate myself for spending RM500 to make my legs look smaller! Perhaps I should ask Judy again; did she mean small as in small small, or did she mean small as in sexy or attractive kind of small (smile)…

Monday, September 20, 2010

Singapore Bay Run 2010

I am a man of many hobbies, so I'm unable to do too many of any one of them. This year, I've planned to run 6 races, i.e. 2 full marathons, 2 half marathons and 2 30km races. Last week, I was in Singapore for the Safra's Singapore Bay Run, a half marathon (21.1km) event.

The last time I ran a half marathon was in the Energizer Night Race in March, of which I failed to achieve my target of running a sub-2hr. I finished that race 5 minutes adrift of my target. When I signed up for the Singapore Bay Run a few months ago, I thought that perhaps this was the race to finally achieve my sub-2hrs record. My personal best (PB) so far then was slightly over 2:03:08 in Singapore in December 2008.

However, later I found out that there's a slope of some 1km long in the Singapore Bay Run. So I was prepared for the worst, because I just suck on the slopes.

The race started at 5:15am, and I made it to the start line with a few minutes to spare. I started the race with an easy pace, and throughout the first 5km, I thought it was quite a pleasant run. Checking my stopwatch, I was running on an average of 5:30-5:45 minutes per km. But immediately after the 6th Km point, there was a long climb. I kept running anyway, but I could feel my thighs burning up. That climb took me something like 6-7 minutes, and although there was a down-going slope after that, the strenuous workout took quite a lot from my legs.

By the 10th Km point, I was already feeling a bit of exhaustion. Looking at my stopwatch, I was pleasantly surprised to see 58 minutes, but that meant I had to run a negative split for the second half of the race. At that point, although I was fast becoming tired, I thought the sub-2hrs was still doable.

I think it must have been around the 15th Km mark when I started to have doubts on achieving my goal. Doing a bit of mental calculation, I realised that I was in a 2-minute deficit. So I needed to work a little harder to keep my ambition alive. Unfortunately, my legs were already tired—I don't know why. I tried to focus my mind on other things; away from my fatigue.

I was like:

Wow, that girl in front is very sexy; she must have been running for a while now. And her running outfit is also so attractive. Hmmm... I bet she'd look great if she let her long hair loose. Yeah, I think I will try to keep up with her. Or better still, why not try to overtake her?...

OK... I'm gaining on her now. Yes, I'm running abreast... Oh my lord!... in spite of the beautiful figure, attractive outfit and long hair, the good God did not bestow upon her a beautiful face!

Better focus on that guy further up in front... Oh my God! is that a G-string he's wearing?...

Well anyway, my attempt not to think of my exhaustion did not work too well. I was still feeling tired—perhaps even more so after seeing the girl's face. At the 19th Km mark, I saw a 1:50 on my stop watch. The feeling of hopelessness—it didn't seem likely that I would be able to make it to the finish line in good time for a sub-2hrs. But I tried to push myself anyway.

Turning into Esplanade Drive, I saw only 30 seconds left on my watch. It was obvious then that I was gonna fail yet again. But there was still hope to improve on my PB. I ran as fast as I could, and then finally crossed the finish line in 2:01:55. But later on, the official result showed that I only managed a 2:02:01. So I have achieved a PB, but failed to achieve my goal of sub-2hrs. Back to the drawing board. I know I can make that sub-2hrs somehow. Who knows, maybe next year.

And this should give you an idea of how hard I tried to achieve my goal. But I'm gonna keep on trying even if it's gonna cost me all my toe nails!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Raya Race

Wishing all my Muslim friends SELAMAT HARI RAYA, MAAF ZAHIR DAN BATIN.

This afternoon, I'm flying to Singapore and will be meeting a friend there for a simple dinner. Then we'll go to a mall to check out some running apparels. Not too sure if I'm really into serious shopping though. But with any luck, I'll be coming home with a pair of running tights!

I'll probably just laze around in bed or watch some tv tomorrow, and if I'm really tired of the hotel room, perhaps will spend a bit of time window shopping in nearby malls. Hell, maybe catch a movie or two even! I hope to be able to sleep early tomorrow night so that I'll be fully prepared for Sunday's half marathon in the Singapore Bay Run. Would be a chaotic race, I think, considering that they'll be around 70,000 participants. Not too sure if I'll be able to achieve the sub-2Hrs, but there's no harm trying, right? Wish me luck!

Very quickly now—Tun Dr M, as reported in The Star today, "called on people of all racial and religious backgrounds not to discuss sensitive issues openly on the internet as it could result in conflict."

He added that "he was worried open discussions would invite emotionally-charged comments that hurt the feelings of other races..."

I must say that that sounds like a very good advice—in fact so good that Tun should heed it himself. I may be wrong, but maybe Tun has no mirror at home. Can somebody please send him one?

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Great Power & Great Responsibility

When was the last time you saw or heard Tun Dr Mahathir say anything nice about the American Government? If you did, it must have been a while. Tun Dr M has a curious resentment—hatred, even—against the Americans. I happen to be a keen follower of his blog, and I can hardly remember if he had ever made any positive comment at all about the Americans, though admittedly I might have missed some of his past comments. Not surprisingly, therefore, he is against practically all of America's policies. And if America were not on good terms with any other country, Tun is bound to support that other country somehow.

The United States of America is against Iran's nuclear power program, and in its attempt to force Iran to abort its nuclear power ambition, the US has called for an economic sanction against Iran. At the moment, apparently Iran's nuclear power program has nothing to do with the development of nuclear weapons, but of course things may change in the future.

In his post entitled "TURKEY TO SELL GASOLINE TO IRAN DESPITE SANCTIONS", Tun gave quite an interesting analysis on the situation. But really, if Iran is indeed trying to build nuclear weapons, should we be worried about it? After all there are several countries in the world having nuclear weapons, including America. Yet nobody seems to be unduly alarmed?

As we have seen in Nagasaki and Hiroshima, the extent of destruction a nuclear weapon can cause may have serious repercussions for many decades to come, thus affecting several generations. Small countries may be totally wiped off from the face of the earth. Notice that America doesn't really care if Iran has machine guns and tanks, but not nuclear weapons.

We have seen that America has been at war with some countries after WWII. But although it could have used its nuclear weapons, it chose not to. I can just imagine that some of those people calling the shots in America must have been itching to launch a nuclear warhead or two.

The simplest argument is that if America and its allies can build nuclear weapons, then why not Iran? Why should it be any different?

In the movie, Spiderman, Uncle Ben said to Peter Parker, "With great power comes great responsibility."

I think America has proven—so far—that it doesn't abuse its nuclear powers. Although at times I see America as a big bully, at least it doesn't simply launch its nuclear warheads on its enemies. Using its nuclear warheads would be the most efficient way to beat its enemies, and it could also spare the lives of its troops. Yet it did not use its nuclear warheads. In that sense, I can say that America is quite responsible for its great power.

But I am not sure if I can feel the same way about Iran. I am not saying that Iran is building nuclear weapons for the sole purpose of destroying other nations. Maybe if they had nuclear weapons, it's mainly for defensive purposes, not so much for aggression. But I can't count on that. This is a country which is still stoning people to death for the crime of adultery; 99 lashes for women who failed to cover their hair—the kind of law which to me is outrageously outdated by at least a few hundred years. If they had nuclear weapon, I am afraid of what they might do with it.

The people of Iran may be thinking at a different wavelength than the rest of us, and we really don't know what they might do with their nuclear weapons. If we had great power, it may be very tempting to use that power. All we need is to conjure up some excuses to justify it, and I'm sure that is easy to achieve.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Laughing Criminals & Death Penalty

I was fairly amused to read the letter by BTH, Gombak, to The Star in support of the death penalty in Malaysia.

He opined that:

"Of course in any man-made judgment there is bound to be an innocent victim or two being wrongly charged and hanged as seen in the movie Shawshank Redempton."

It seems that he—I'm assuming that it's a he—spends too much time at the movies. Even if there is a chance that we might make just one mistake, that should be a very good reason for us not to adopt the attitude of the trigger-happy folks. Perhaps the author of that letter would feel differently if he is the one convicted and sentenced for the death penalty for a crime he did not commit.

And he added:

"I would even go further to suggest that acid throwers should be made to taste their own medicine. Once found guilty, the court should get the victim to splash acid on the perpetrator’s face. That is the only effective deterrent, one the perpetrator will remember for a long time and whenever he looks into the mirror."

When one acts from his heart, and not from his brain, we get stupid suggestions like the above. My idea of crime and its punishment should be for the purpose of, first and foremost, in the best interest of the public at large. If a person is liable to become dangerous to others around him, then he deserves imprisonment. And imprisonment is not on grounds of revenge, i.e. an eye for an eye. Rather, he is locked away, same as we would lock a tiger which could be dangerous to the humans around it in a cage. Beyond that, if it is determined that the criminal is beyond help, that there is no hope of rehabilitation, then, in the best interest of the rest of the population, I can live with the death penalty. I think we would be in serious trouble if we heed the suggestion of "splashing acid on the perpetrator's face". I mean, why would we want to bring ourselves down to the level of a psycho?

"Malaysia is fast becoming a land where criminals think they can do anything to anybody at any time of the day. Hardcore criminals just laugh their way to prison. They will never learn to be good citizens as crime brings them wealth, the good things in life as well as give them an ego boost."

I will admit that we have quite mind-blowing crimes in Malaysia these days, but I'm not too sure that these hardcore criminals are really laughing their way to the prison.

In a recent conversation I had with a friend, the topic of the death penalty came up. In particular, we were discussing about the young lad, Yong Vui Kong, who's apparently living his final days in a Singapore prison. For he was found guilty of drug trafficking and now sentenced to the death penalty. I'm neither for nor against the death penalty, but I am reluctant to sign the petition to free the young lad, who happens to be a fellow Sabahan.

As a side issue, I have been asked to sign (or vote online) before on numerous occasions. For example, I was asked to vote for Sipadan; and I think someone's daughter who was in a beauty contest or something like that. I thought to myself, how was I supposed to vote truthfully if I haven't even been to Sipadan; and I have never seen how that someone's daughter look like?

So likewise, how am I supposed to petition to free a criminal when I don't really know the fellow? I know our papers had a lot of good—and sad—things to say about him, but that is quite natural if you're trying to garner support for your cause. What if it is because of my single vote that this lad is freed, and then later on commits another crime which would cost someone's life? How am I ever gonna forgive myself for that?

But on the other hand, I can't help but wonder if all avenues have been exhausted to rehabilitate Yong. If there is still hope, then perhaps he deserves that chance?

What I'm trying to say is that I can live with the death penalty in our legal system. But that punishment must be reserved for the worst of the worst of the criminals, whom have no more chance of rehabilitation to become productive members of our society. It is in this sense that I'm not sure if Yong truly deserves the death penalty—whether he is beyond rehabilitation, especially when the mastermind(s) behind the scene is(are) still free today.

We ask ourselves if this is justice. The rich and powerful are free, and the poor and small fries become the scapegoats to take the fall. Is there no chance whatsoever to rehabilitate them? Or is this all about showing the might of a government which is bent on picking on the most convenient candidate to proof a point? Maybe I would feel differently if the mastermind(s) behind the scene have also been caught and given the death penalty.

Of all the hardcore criminals, ranging from child rapists to murderers who are bigger threats to the society, is it fair to terminate the life of a drug mule who committed the crime when he was just a teenager? As I said, I can live with the death penalty, but it must be reserved for the worst of the hardcore criminals whom we're satisfied beyond hope for rehabilitation. I really hope for our sake, that Yong is indeed beyond hope for rehabilitation.