Saturday, January 26, 2008

Me Want Me Cookie!

One of the things I look forward to during Chinese New Year is the cookies. Friends and families will be selling their various biscuits, which we will buy in abundance and keep until the next CNY before throwing them away.

When I was young, my Mum used to make these cookies and we used to help her. The white powdery biscuit we'd squeeze into rabbit shaped moulds and bang it out on a floured table. My favourite duty for that was to dot the eyes with red colouring. The cashew nut cookies I'd stick a halved cashew and coat the top with egg. The layer cakes I'd help Mum to layer, running to the oven every 3 minutes or so to check if the top layer is ready to be spread with another.

But the most memorable cookie making is the love letters. We would spend the entire day (Mum would wake up really early like 6 plus to go to the market and return to start the charcoal by 7ish) sitting in front of the charcoaled flames, flipping the moulds and opening them with a slight crack to see if it is ready. We'd then carefully scraped the finished cookie layer and toss it to the waiting sibling who will then quickly fold into into quarters before it hardened. It's a good thing Mum had 3 of us to help out (Jan was too young then) and take turns. I remember feeling so ill at one point I had to go upstairs to lie down. Mum only stopped to prepare lunch. I really don't know how and where she found the energy!

Now, if I want to eat love letters, I'd rather go out and buy them off the shelf. Fortunately, my taste buds can't tell from home made or factory made.

My current favourite cookie is the pineapple tarts made my KS's aunt in Masjid Tanah. They are absolutely lovely. I ordered 6 containers (thinking I could probably sell 1 or 2 so that the rest I could give away) which we collected on Thursday night, and I sold them all the next day at work. I didn't even bother to ask for a commission because I enjoy seeing people eating this cookie. At their own cost.

I still do get people who says, "I'm not ordering but can I have just one more from yours?" I'm selfish with my pineapple cookie. Go get your own. Nyah.

Dang, can't upload the picture of the pinapple tarts in the PJ house dial up.
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Photo at last!

Legal Cases

I used to love reading Perry Mason but one of the things that bugged me was that the witnesses, whenever they were put on stand, nearly always told the truth. In today's context, here's what's currently happening.

There's an ongoing investigation on a video clip of a prominent lawyer who is recorded discussing judicial appointments over the phone with the then chief judge. It's actually quite entertaining to read the daily papers because of the absurdity of it all.

Firstly, he says the person seen in the video, "sounds like me, looks like me but I'm not saying it's me".

But the funniest one is some evidence of him taking a NZ holiday with a former chief justice. "The meeting at Changi Airport, same ticket book, same travel agent, same location, same day, same itinerary, his secretary's name on (the Chief Justice's) itinerary... The time spent together at a zoo and a bird park, the shared van, visiting tourist spots in various parts of NZ during the week-long trip and fishing together at Lake Wakatipu. The accused says it was all... COINCIDENCE... COINCIDENCE... COINCIDENCE" - Front page, NST, Jan 25.

He's now asking for his experts to view the video to confirm it's authenticity. And of course, he needs the original. Guess what his experts will say about the evidence? I won't bet 1 sen on your guess.

The sad thing is, I have a feeling he's going to go scott free, just like the Klang municipal head who built a mansion of over 20 rooms. A civil servant. All 24 charges against him dropped mysteriously. And now he's buying the land beside his house.

That's some entertainment for you.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

More On A380

Landing

Taking off. Can you hear the many shutters going off?

Moving As One

video
Instead of taking plane photos, I noticed the synchronised snapping of the spotters and decided to video tape them instead.

Fascinating!

Today, I followed by colleague to spot the latest Airbus 380 (which happens to be the current largest plane in the world). Now, I love watching planes landing and taking off but I never gave thought that there is a bunch of avid "spotters" who meet up regularly (every weekend) and snap every plane that lands or takes off. I met them today.

Well, in this region, they say they started here in KL and now have over 1000 members, with about 30 who are really active. Yesterday there were people from 5 countries who came to spot the A380. Amazing!

But these people are a friendly lot and even though I was holding my mere S3IS PowerShot while theirs were DSLRs, I was not made to feel inferior in any way.

I've learned there are many locations at KLIA to do this spotting. There's Cowboy Town, 32, Spooky Spot to name a few. And I've learned how to spot what planes they are, but only up to the level of big plane, small plane, plane with 2 engines and with 4. I'm getting there!

This is the second A380 delivered to SIA and they are using it for training. It leaves Singapore at 1pm and reaches KLIA at 2pm. Lands and immediately makes its way to the other runway to take-off back to Singapore. Same thing in Singapore. Lands and takes-off. A 2 hour wait in between. Was there from 2pm to 6:30pm. 3 landings.

Anyways, here's some photos of the A380.

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Here's when it first landed at 2pm. The front is described as a dugong or even a whale.

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Here's another angle during its second landing at 4pm.

At the 4pm landing, my colleague and I rushed to this place the spotters call Spooky Spot to watch it take-off. We only had a very short time before it will taxi across the airport and prepares to take-off. Parking his car along the road, my colleague told me to grab just my camera and RUN!

As we ran through this forest, it just reminded me of Blair Witch. My vision was bouncing up and down, my specs gliding off my nose and I was gasping after the first 100m. The forest was eerily quiet and shaded. I could barely keep up with my colleague who slowly became a white speck ahead of me.

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Here's the forest.

Ended up panting for breath but just in time to catch it taking off.
The rest were already there, standing on ladders and chairs. Took a video instead since none of the DSLRs could. Will post it up later.

Here are more photos of more interesting planes:

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JetStar from Australia. First low cost to Oz, started late last year.

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The spotters called this Ko Lo Mee. Nice blue.

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Manchester United plane by AirAsia.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

A Boss Like Dogbert?

It's quite normal, or essential, for a manager or leader to read various management books like those from John Maxwell. For some, it helps to underline and mark salient points so that it is committed to memory or sometimes it is something which one would think is important enough to try to inculcate into one's life for one's improvement.

Okay, now based on the assumption above, I will proceed to explain why I am bringing this up.

Assuming you know the cartoon Dilbert. He has a boss called Dogbert. Now, I will assume here that you know about Dilbert. Otherwise, go Google him.

I have with me the Dogbert's Management Handbook, which was passed on from an acquaintance who is a manager. In this book, I swear to you, there are asterisks and underlines on some of the "management principles". Here are some:
- Clothes make the leader. Employees probably won't ever respect you as a person, but they might respect your clothes.
- ...as a manager, your pay is not linked to the quantity of your work. Your pay depends on the appearance of work plus the intangible qualities you bring to the job, such as "leadership" and "motivation".

And there's a tick beside this one:
How can we make the employees work harder for less money?

I'm just glad she ain't my boss!

2nd Plant

The second bulb I planted is not doing too well. They are supposed to be blooming around now but two buds have already been eaten by small black insects. The third one is valiantly attempting to bloom while being attacked. I have no idea how to save it besides spraying insecticide on a weekly basis which doesn't seem to help the insects or the plant.

Kena Lo Lap

Had a really bad Friday evening. I was mugged at my office while waiting for KS to pick me. By an Indian. Lady. Retired teacher. Who came from Kajang. And needed to get to her husband who was lying in HUKM Hospital in the emergency room. And was fleeced by a taxi cab who charged her RM55 for a ride to Pudu instead of the hospital.

I gave her RM10. A taxi from the nearest train station to the hospital wouldn't cost more than that. But oh, wait. She would need to put up a night somewhere there somehow. And all the money she has is what I've given her. She promises to come back on Monday and return me the cash. Her pension is coming in on Monday. She has a deposit account in my bank. She's a Christian, her father a pastor. She's asking out of embarrassment.

Sigh. I gave her another RM50 as I had ran out of smaller notes. I'm never waiting downstairs ever again.

Then we got home to PJ. Went to start my car which was parked at the new house. I haven't started it in 2 weeks. Got there and realised the power had tripped. Uh oh. Think, my Mum, with her habit of cramming her fridge and freezer. When we had to tug the door, I knew we were in trouble. Well, at least there weren't any maggots. Jan, KS and I took a couple of hours to clean it.

The garbage collectors will wonder why we have 2 bins outside the house when there never were any. And to find it full of rotting meat. Hope they won't think it's anything sinister.

And to think there was a case of someone who bought an apartment somewhere in Mont Kiara and smelt something rotting from the fridge that was leftover from the previous owner only to find it was a chopped up rotting human body.

Nope, as much as I love detective/crime solving books and movies, CSI ain't my thing for sure.

KS Doing The YMCA

This is a side one hardly gets to see of KS.

This video was taken his colleague during their company's fancy dress Christmas dinner. The link is taken from his colleague's blog. See the Group 2 video. KS not only had to do the YMCA but led the bunch of girls who were being ragged with him!

My colleagues had stitches watching this video. They watched it over and over again and commented KS is super cool and super sporting. I think so too... :)

*Published with permission from KS

In My Head

It's been a while since the last American Idol was aired and the new season is out. Just happened to catch the recent episode and this one was especially funny.



Oh! Simon's face! Unfortunately for me, the song is stuck and running in my head.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Eric & Being the Rotten Egg

Another one to start the year with.

Just after high school, Eric, KS and a whole bunch of friends went up to Genting for a holiday to celebrate. They stayed at some apartments which had a pool. As they made their way to the pool, someone yelled "Last one in is a rotten egg!" and everyone ran for it and jumped in.

And Eric also jumped into the deep end, completely forgetting he doesn't know how to swim. When he surfaced and struggled, the rest thought he was fooling around until he seemed to sink in a little bit more with each attempt to breathe.

So one guy, still disbelieving, held out his arm half heartedly which forced Eric to really reach for it. They shake their head on how he could have jumped in when he doesn't know how to swim.

Biscuit & Soap

Another one from my aunt. I once bought some bars of soap and a packet of biscuits and had packed them into one plastic bag. When I got home and placed it on the table, she immediately removed the soap from the bag. Here's her explanation:
"The soap will get onto the biscuit"
"Er, but the soap is individually wrapped in paper, then shrink wrapped with plastic and the biscuits are also packed in its own plastic wrapper"
"It will still kena the biscuit"

This is the reason why supermarkets here give you separate bags for food and non-food purchases.

I Really Don't Like It

Last Christmas, my Dad gave the most astounding statement. In response to KS not eating rice, he said, "Yeah, actually, I don't like rice either"

"But all my life you are the one always insisting of having rice at least once a day!" (Ron and Grace, you know this for a fact). Whenever we traveled, we had to search for rice for either lunch or dinner - without fail!

"Ah yes, but I really don't like rice"

And They Are Called...

Once, long time ago, while we were having dinner with my aunt's family in JB, my uncle turned to me and said in all earnestness:

"You know those people who travel?"
"Yeah?"
"Yeah, these people... they are called...(long pause while I politely stopped chewing and gave my utmost attention)... they are called - travelers!"

I remember giving him a blank stare and continued to chew thoughtfully as though I had just been given tremendous insight.

My Aunt & Ice Cream

Some time last year, I walked into the kitchen where my aunt was washing some plates. On the table was a cup of melting ice cream. I immediately pointed out to her that her ice cream is half melted and she replied "It's because I have a cough so I don't want to eat it when it's too cold"

Family Insights

Just had a flash of family gems and thought I'd blog them to remember. So here's some that I remember and tagged under My Family, a more generic tag to include Dinner Conversations That Make KS Cringe.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Outsmarting a Rat

There's been a rat in the PJ house which has outsmarted us for some time. We know where it comes into the house from and despite several attempts to pull away towel racks or anything which may aid its route, it still came and went as it pleased.

Traps were set but somehow, the bait didn't appeal to it. We coaxed it with bread, bak kut teh meat, laced it with curry as it bit through a few curry packets and even stuck a packet of Mamee in the trap. All this in vain.

Then last Friday, KS and I saw the rascal scampering into the kitchen. I attached a packet of biscuits in the trap and set it in the kitchen. But knowing how smart its been with traps, I figured it would probably be another unsuccessful attempt.

So I took out an old magazine, opened it and faced down, slathered some rat glue on the cover and placed it as strategically as possible. Fingers crossed, I went to sleep.

Voila! Next morning, here's the result:

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Hopefully this is the only smart rat around.

Thanks, Marie Claire, for ushering in the Rat Year!

Ex Minister of Kedah

My parents just told me this yesterday. This happened when I was completely ignorant of political issues in Malaysia and this fact is quite amazing.

Kedah had a Minister by the name of Sanusi Junid, who tried to implement very creative ideas to the state. Here's a selected list of his attempts:
1. Plant padi on your rooftops
Kedah is known as the Rice Bowl of Malaysia for having the most rice fields in the state. And so, in an apparent bid to make full use of all rooftops, we should all level our roofs and plant padi. I think someone tried. And failed.

2. Coconut Plucking by Monkeys Competition
Farmers should train monkeys to pluck coconuts so that we can have competitions on the best coconut plucking monkey.

3. Plucking White Hair Competition
A competition on how fast a wife can pull white hair from their husbands.

His supporters described him as being a very creative person. I he lasted one term. Alas, I can't find anything on Google to back my parents memory.

Strange Mushroom

The other day Mum bought a can of asparagus mushrooms to cook for dinner. When we had dinner that night, we had a good laugh at the odd shapes of it. One looked like a chicken drumstick while I got this:

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Dad described it as politely as he could - a baby body part while I was cruder and exclaimed "It looks like a dick!"

KS buried his concentration on chewing his food at this point.

Have I mentioned before how my family tends to talk about all things related to body excrements especially after dinner much to the discomfort of KS and Matt? I'm going to start recording them on my blog.

The Plant Who Lived

Still in the spirit of Harry Potter, I shall now tell you of an amazing thing. The bulbs I planted had not only grown but also came into flower, and such wonderful ones that my neighbour cast envying looks at it each time she was in her garden.

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Ah, aren’t they gorgeous? The only darn thing was that it bloomed while I was in Singapore and died upon my return. So while I wait for the last bulb to burst into blooms this month, my grass continues to wither and choke on weeds back home in Klang.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Happy 2008!

Looking forward to a new year filled with:
  • Food with less sugar
  • More exercise
  • Blood test which will lead to more advice on more exercise and less fattening food
  • Job uncertainty

Basically, ditto from last year's resolutions. Hmm... not something to really look forward to.

But KS and I have sat down and listed a whole bunch of good stuff too of course. Some of which:
  • Holidays! - We're looking at Bangkok and HK as I've never been there
  • Organising the Youth Camp this year
  • And now that my parents are here in PJ, spending more time with my parents, having more home cooked food...
  • To read more books
Happy New Year 2008!