Monday, June 30, 2008

Narrow band

At this very moment, Streamyx seems to be up to speed. I've been experiencing some very slow load times since last week, especially when it comes to blogger. It's actually been very sporadic - sometimes the connection's fine, other times it feels as if I were on dial-up. When it's slow, it's really s-l-o-w. I actually wonder sometimes whether dial-up can be faster!

Which is kinda sad, really. I was just browsing the broadband connections offered in Singapore here and it seems that they already have100 Mbps for private residences! And we're still stuck with the constant promotion of 1 Mbps. Heck, there's even a low of 384 kbps! Well, maybe I shouldn't complain. Having some really "malformed" kind of broadband is better than none at all, I suppose. But, it's hard to be happy when all they promise is that what you're getting is on a 'best-effort' basis.

I seem to remember a minister saying something how this 'best-effort basis' thingy should be improved upon, but my speed lately tells me otherwise. *sigh*

Dee-Gee-Tuhl Photography Bootcamp here in KK!

An exciting announcement to all lovers of photography out there! Just in case you haven’t got wind of this event yet, Nexus Karambunai Resort is organizing a workshop run by none other than our very own Sabahan, award-winning photographer, Louis Pang. Saw it in last Friday’s Daily Express only today, and thought I’d put it up since I did not see any mention of it in his blog.

It's a fee-paying workshop though unlike his previous half-day workshop at STAR. But, there are several packages on offer. If you choose to stay at Nexus, you'll pay RM360 which includes registration fee, lunch and dinner and a single night's stay (twin-sharing basis). Of course, if you want to stay alone, you can but it'll put you back RM560.

Don't want to stay? You pay RM195 which gives you lunch and dinner, and includes the registration fee. The cheapest option (and probably the most popular, methinks), minus all the fluff, is just paying for the registration which is RM80.

What's more, there'll also be a photo shootout! And there'll be prizes to be won if your photo's good enough.

It says in the registration form that you need to bring a laptop with Photoshop cos you'll be editing your photos and printing them there and then, both of which I don't have... :-(

But, I'm thinking of going...who wants to accompany me and share your laptop with me???

This is where you can download the brochure and registration forms.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Can you feel the your head?

Can you get a headache from too much singing? Was at music practice today at church and we sang for about 1 1/2 hours, and when I got back I had this throbbing headache. It hasn't completely gone yet, and that was over 3 hours ago.

Or maybe, it has something to do with this big daddy having the flu and sore throat. Maybe I got it from Adelle. When I carried her from the bed yesterday morning after she woke up, she coughed right into my face and maybe the germs happily decided to check out their new host and become comfortable.

Either way, this big daddy ain't feeling too well. So, that's the end of this short post. Nnnngghh...

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Crunch time

Anyone who has never sat for a test, please raise your hands. Didn’t think, so. We’ve all gone through our fair share of exams, sitting behind a table, pen or pencil in hand, sometimes scribbling away furiously (just in case those bits of information we need to regurgitate suddenly decided to do a disappearing act), sometimes staring blankly at the paper on our table, wondering where to start or even what to write! It’s not a very pleasant experience…

But, come tomorrow, a number of Maths and Science teachers in Sabah and Sarawak will undergo a test. Why? To assess their English competency. As both subjects are supposed to be taught in English, so teachers have to have enough language competency in order to teach. Hence, the assessment tomorrow. In fact, tomorrow’s just the start. They will be assessed in writing, listening and speaking. Tomorrow’s the speaking component, the hardest of the three I think, for it can really expose your ability. With writing, you still have time to arrange your thoughts, and to consider you sentences, while listening just tests how well you understand speech, no language output necessary. But speaking, now that’s tough.

Why else do you think people get butterflies in their tummies when they’re about to speak? You need to think on your feet, and the words that come out of your mouth are more or less spontaneous, no time for careful thoughts on how you would say something. What’s more, it’s a test…

I always get nervous when I’m being interviewed, and for some embarrassing reason, my voice will start to quiver. I try to control it, but I never really succeed. I hate it when that happens. So, I can imagine the situation tomorrow.

Here’s wishing the best to all the teachers!

p.s. what kind of exam sends shivers down your spine?

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Operation: Snot-free Night

Adelle caught the flu. We’re guessing the swim last week might have caused it because the babysitter said the next day she was sneezing the whole morning. So, her nose has become like a leaky tap, sometimes flowing slow, sometimes flowing fast. And a runny, or worse, a blocked nose can pose a major headache when she’s sleeping because she won’t be able to sleep well. And to add to that, she also complains of itches. Could be the heat but we don’t know. We put some talcum on her and that seems to do the job quite nicely, even if it only lasts for a short period.

As for the runny nose, we have launched Operation: Snot-free Night, so that both Fen and I can get our uninterrupted beauty sleep. In our arsenal are these implements:

This funny looking contraption allows the parent to suck out the snot so that the nasal passage is clear. You suck through the end of the tube, and the ‘hingus’ collects in the bottle. No prizes for who correctly guesses the person to do this job. But, consolation is Adelle seems to find this funny, so she’s quite cooperative.

Next, is the nasal spray. This helps clear all the sinuses so that she can breathe easily throughout the night. This is Mommy’s duty.

And with just these two, both mommy and daddy are happy, contented sleepers! Adelle too seems to be quite happy.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Here we go again...

Decided to settle our credit card bills today, thinking we’d beat the rush of people when payday comes. But, we ran into another kind of rush today. The rush for petrol…again! In case you haven’t heard, word is that all petrol stations will go on strike for 3 days starting tomorrow. The reason? From what I gathered, it is because the government refuses to allow the owners of petrol kiosks to push the 4% credit charges to customers. Too bad I didn’t bring along my camera to get some pic of the whole affair.

So, there we were as a family, thinking what a breeze it’d be doing our errands when we saw a long, a very long queue right as we coming out of the access road from our taman. It was 5 pm then, and it was too late for Tshung Tsin to have finished school, and too early afternoon session schools to have finished. So we took the Tuaran road to head to KK. And we saw another queue! This time from Kian Kok right up till Sunny Garden! Luckily that was in the opposite direction towards Tuaran.

So that got us wondering….what’s the cause? My wife’s car is the family car, and she was almost running on empty. The light was blinking incessantly, a reminder that we needed to pump petrol soon, very soon. There was an Esso station at Sunny Garden, but it was closed for some kind of renovation or repairs. So, we decided to just head on to KK as there was also an Esso station near where we were heading, the one near Maybank. Along the way, we saw Jalan Kolam also backlogged with cars…

It was pretty smooth sailing apart from the usual traffic snarl at that time. But upon hitting Jalan Pantai, there was another jam. And it was long! So we took the back way of the shophouses right up till Maybank, and then we stopped dead in our tracks. It was a gridlock. No one was moving. The cause: the queue at the Esso station, our destination. My face fell. The light never stopped blinking. Fen ran out to find out what was going on and that’s how we knew about the supposed strike.

Rather than keep the engine running and run the risk of running out of petrol, we somehow managed to manoeuvre and go the other way to find a parking. We found one soon enough, parked and walked to the three banks to pay our bills. Stopped by Tong Hing and Home and Garden as well. And when we walked back to the car to put some things in, we saw a car we had seen earlier in the queue in the exact position before. It hadn’t moved! And easily 30 minutes had passed by then.

So, rather than being stuck in the jam, we decided to walk around for a bit. Went for dinner, walked around Wisma Merdeka and then walked back to the car. Jam was still there for that Esso station. But driving home wasn’t a problem. Jalan Kolam was already clear, and so we figured we’d just go ahead and pump. We waited in line for about 15 minutes, pumped to the max and drove home. At that time, two pumps were already out of petrol.

While filling up the car, I asked the attendant whether the news was true. He confirmed my suspicions. There were only rumours. His boss told him that they’d be open for tomorrow; there were no plans for a strike.

I don’t understand why people would spread hearsay without first confirming it with a reliable source. I suspect the cause for today’s mess was spread through sms. And this will not be the first time such a thing has happened, nor will it be the last, I think. SMS is a good thing, but responsible use of it is better.

Oh well…

And did you know that a full tank for a Proton Iswara 1.3 now costs RM112? Yikes! That’s RM50 more than previously. Ouch!

Read here and here for other bloggers' view on the event.

p.s. Is it just me, or am I facing a jam of some kind as well with blogspot. My pages seem to load very slowly…

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Another milestone

In 1985, we produced our very own national car, the Proton Saga. It was considered such an achievement that there was great fanfare all around when it was first unveiled. We have other objects too which we have bestowed the distinction of being called ‘national’ – subject of the nation’s respect and identity. A few come immediately to mind: the Jalur Gemilang, our national flag; the hibiscus, our national flower, the National Monument, a fitting tribute to our fallen heroes during the last World War.

But, just recently Malaysia has reached another milestone. Though probably not as profound but it is certainly no less worthy, we have our very own…national rice. Don’t believe me? Look at this photo.

‘Beras Nasional’, National Rice. Doesn’t it just instill pride in you? Where else in the world would you find rice that is deemed to belong to the nation? Now, don’t get me wrong. Lest you think I’m mocking this whole affair, I’m not. I’m glad, very glad, that we have such rice. I actually think it more important than almost all the other national symbols – without rice, this country will not move. We live on rice; no rice, no country. That’s why there was all the worry about rice shortage a few months back. We must have rice, cheaper rice – more so now than ever before, what with a 10kg pack of other ‘premium’ rice fetching more than RM50. I am thankful.

Now, if only Pos Malaysia would consider putting this on stamps, then we can consider the whole matter official.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

The snake is in the grass...

Nah, we didn't meet any snakes today. That's a line taken from a song - for children. And it's not even a proper children's song, it's a teaching song. The objective? To teach the sound of the letter 'S'. You know it...sssssss.

Yes, I'm talking phonics lessons here. Adelle attended her second class of phonics today (her first was last Saturday), and this time around only Daddy was around to keep her company cos Mommy had to be around in school. But, hey, Mommy's school wasjust outside the class gates! No worries in the case of emergencies.

Anyway, I was just wondering about this phonics thing. Phonics is to help children acquire reading ability; to be able to decipher letters and to say out their sounds correctly. So, when, for example, you see the letter 'M', you make the sound, mmmm, and when you see the letter 'A' you say 'eh', so on and so forth. But, here's the thing. I don't ever remember going through a single phonics class. And I read quite well (at least, I think I do!).

Sure, I've made mistakes before. How many of us have said the words 'tongue' as tong-gew, 'mosque' as mos-cue and the absolute classic, 'discotheque' as disco-the-cue, until we realised or people told us that we actually said them wrongly. But, the point is I picked up reading without any such specialised teaching. Perhaps it was because my parents used to buy lots of audio story books, and as we followed the words in the books we heard the words being spoken and so, without realising it, picked up how certain letters should be pronounced.

So, I'm thinking, is there a need for such lessons at all if parents already read to their children? What do you think? How did you learn how to read?

Adelle playing after lessons had ended

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Point of view

What’s the hottest topic in today’s news? None other than fellow Sabahan, Datuk Yong Teck Lee. While I’m not overly interested in politics, I’m not totally averse to it as well, hence the subject of today’s post. I’m sure he has his reasons on why he intends to get his MPs to table the vote of no-confidence (whether personal or otherwise), but that’s not what interests me most. The fascinating thing about today’s big news is the point of view presented by the different dailies – our Sabah-based Daily Express and the national newspaper, The New Straits Times.

Tell me if you don’t notice a rather accusatory tone in NST’s front page: DOUBLE CROSS, it proclaims of Yong in bold capital letters. Compare that with “SAPP’s ‘no faith in PM’ shock” by Daily Express – not quite the judgmental stance of NST, is it? Compare too the statements given by the SAPP Deputy President in NST and Daily Express.

“There is no reason to do this. It is completely wrong,” NST quotes.

“As far as I’m concerned, I don’t know. I have to ask the party President,” Daily Express reports when the Deputy was asked about the motion.

Same event, different stories. That’s life. Want to exercise your brain? The next time you read a piece of writing, try examining whose point of view it is taking. Then, make your own conclusions rather than having it done for you by the writer.

On a lighter note, this is my point of view of Adelle enjoying herself with mommy at the Sports Complex pool this evening. Look at her backstroke!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Man in the moon

And the cat's in the cradle and the silver spoon,
Little boy blue and the man in the moon.
"When you coming home, dad?" "I don't know when,
But we'll get together then.

You know we'll have a good time then."
~ Harry Chapin ~

You've probably heard that song sung by someone other than the original writer - Ugly Kid Joe comes to mind - but have you ever wondered where the phrase 'man in the moon' comes from? According to Wikipedia, different cultures apparently see different things in the moon. The man in the moon is generally Western in origin. However, in other cultures, like the Maori, the woman supposedly shows a woman with a local tree. And of course our very own Chinese neighbours also hold that a woman is in the moon. There's supposed to be a rabbit in there as well, according to Chinese, Korean and Japanese folklore. And that's not all. There's a crab, a toad, a beetle, and according to Christian legend, even St. George slaying a dragon. Looks like the moon's one crowded place!

Anyway, have you been outside tonight? Saw the moon, big and round on our way back from Likas Sports Complex Park earlier this evening. Quite beautiful. Here's a photo I just took this evening of the full moon tonight.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The rise of the dough

Since acquiring an electric oven a few months back, Fen (that’s my wife) has been bitten thoroughly bitten by the baking bug. We don’t buy bread now because she bakes them. So much more satisfying and filling – just two slices will be enough to fill you up; four if you’re really hungry – though if you’re used to the fluffier and lighter kind, then you’d probably need some time to get used to the heavy, solid variety that she bakes if you eat them.

Just the other day, all of us (that’s me, my wife and Adelle, too) had a family baking session. We made cinnamon rolls. Adelle got to mix the flour, and she also had a hand (two, actually) in kneading the dough. She even kneaded her very own roll which she then heaped with lots of raisins (her favourite!).

Tonight, we tried something new: chocolate cheesecake brownies. The picture in the book looked very yummy, and there were only five steps! How hard can it be right? Well, the brownies turned out…wet. The texture’s more like cake than the normally harder brownie. So much for being simple…(perhaps it had to do with our extra ‘generous’ addition of butter..)

But, tastes marvelous nonetheless!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Tung oh!

Adelle went to the clinic today to get her jab. The whole experience was rather interesting. No, not for her but the parents. I was put in charge of holding her down and Mommy had consoling duty. First course: two drops of some vaccine for polio. No resistance, no sweat.

Next course of action: the jab. The nurse readied the shot and I held Adelle as firmly as needed. The needle pierced the skin and sunk in. No resistance, nary even a whimper. I was just about to exclaim how brave and strong Adelle when, as the nurse withdrew the needle, she bawled…and boy, was it loud. She even managed to report the reason for crying: “Tung oh!” (painful in Chinese).

But, all was under control. Mommy adeptly took over, carried Adelle and heaped praise on her, which pacified her somewhat. Though she was still smarting from the jab by the time she got home, distraction by means of riding her still-new bicycle was good enough to make her forget the pain for a bit.

Notwithstanding the fact that none of us really likes needles, Adelle really did a splendid job of going through that rather painful process, don’t you think?

The beginning

Blessed Father’s Day to all fathers everywhere. Let me start with a confession: I've blogged before, so it's not a clean beginning per se. So why start again? And will it last this time?

You’ve probably heard it said that nothing gets your creative juices going than to actually start writing; well, as far as writing’s concerned, anyway. So, here’s an another attempt to kick-start my brain. How else is a teacher supposed to help students in their writing if he doesn’t write as well, no? And with regards to going the distance, I determined (okay, I was determined the last time, but this time I more determined) to do so.

And to show my determination, this will be a bumper post, beginning with last night’s dinner. We ate at Wagamama Asia City and both my wife and I ordered our sets. It was a sort of advance Father’s Day dinner for me, la. This was my wife’s, chicken in sesame seed with sauce, unagi and cawan mushi.

Mine was deep fried strips with beef and chicken fillings, with fried egg with salmon and a pasta in mayo cold dish.

And this is Adelle, who also enjoyed the food we gave her (after enjoying her own dinner of porridge!).

We also had a few plates from the belt to stuff ourselves with. And…kenyang! The bill came up to RM60++ for the both of us…after minus 50% from the belt food. We were satisfied! All went home happy that night…

This morning, went to Seri Mengasih’s charity bazaar. Arrived at slight past eight and people were already thronging to go there! Mostly food stuff being sold, but there were also stalls selling toys, books, t-shirts, and curtains(!). Also very conspicuous were some stalls from some political parties.

Anyway, the one that interested me most was this Chinese calligraphy stall which was being manned by an Indian man! He had skill! A couple of photos.

Didn’t buy much, just chicken pies which has now disappeared into our cavernous tummies. But, a family friend whom we met there bought Adelle a stuffed toy, Lilo. Adelle seems to like it. Here’s the toy she got.

That was the morning. Then in the afternoon, the youths in my church organized a free car wash for all dads! Yesssss!! So, the whole family went, and my car which hasn’t been washed in months (yes, you read that right) got the long overdue proper attention it needed. Not only a free car wash did we get, but some nice hot drinks and munchies as well! A very good effort by the youths from a very thankful father!