Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Love You Forever

Have you ever encountered a book where you had not even read it, but it got into you?

I was at a hair saloon, glancing through a Chinese newspaper while waiting for Cynthia to get her hair cut. An article about an old book by Robert Munsch caught my eye, and before I realized it, my eyes had welled up.

Later, I googled up the book - Love You Forever. Tears flowed again....

I'll love you forever,
I'll like you for always,
As long as I'm living
my baby you'll be.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Malakoff Run KL 2008

Back in June, I never thought I would end the year running in a 12k race. I was pretty out of shape then, barely completing 3k in a single run.

After the Mizuno Run, I was bitten hard by the running bug. Before I realize it I was running 5 times a week; over 3 evenings, and Saturday and Sunday.

It felt liberating, pushing my body to do things I never thought it could do, and as I picked up more speed and distance, it felt like I could keep on improving.

Alas, the frailties of my body began to show, and I realized that I was not superman after all. First came the shin splints, which luckily was overcome by changing the running technique. Then came a painful ankle sprain after a long run one Saturday. I was in pain for more than a month and had to wear an ankle support. And finally, I was hit with ITB syndrome towards the end of the recent Malakoff Run which, again was probably due to improper running technique.

Getting all these injuries reminded me why I wasn't too much of a sportsman during my younger days. I got acquainted with the anti-inflammatory powers of Ibuprofen, which greatly relieved the pain and the swelling.

Sometimes my wife would look at me as I stood at the door in the evening putting on my running shoes, shaking her head as she wondered what crazy thing has possessed me to torture myself :)

The Malakoff Run was a weird 2 laps of 6 km, no thanks to a last minute safety concern of running on a highway, but it provided a rare opportunity of watching the front runners in action, who usually zoom off into the horizon after the starting gun goes off. And my, are those guys fast. They were practically sprinting, eating up the hills like they were nothing. And among that group of elites was a 50 plus Chinese uncle!

I finished painfully in 1:15, hardly my best effort. But as I reflected on the past six months of running, I only remember the joy and exhilaration. Looking forward to another year of running in 2009!

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

What Goes Up....

Yesterday when I filled up my car, I couldn't resist taking this photo:

Because almost six months ago I took this:

Its amazing how things went all the way up and then all the way down again within such a short time.

Its quite obvious that there are more cars again on the road nowadays, and the jams have become more pronounced again. Still, I'm thankful that now I will have an extra RM 200 in my pocket every month :)

Monday, November 10, 2008

Penang Revisited

We went up to Penang last weekend to attend a wedding dinner.  This was our first visit to Penang since 2003, when us and a bunch of church friends did a very ambitious food trek and ended up with constipation on the third day.

But I digress.  Driving up and down the west coast at this time of the year can be quite a scary affair due to the heavy rain, and we saw quite a few serious accidents on the way.  Thank God we managed to arrive safely.

We stayed at Gurney Hotel this time, which provided a great view of the Gurney coastal line, not mention proximity to the famous Gurney Drive hawker food.  Alas, rain put paid to our plans, and we ended up having Korean barbeque and steamboat at Seoul Garden in Gurney Plaza instead.  Here we were in the food paradise of Penang on a Friday night, and we were eating mall food :P

Night View From Gurney Hotel Penang
Gurney Hotel Room

On Saturday we met up with an ex-colleague who kindly showed us how to get to Bayan Lepas and also brought us to the awesome Bayan Lepas food court.

Saturday afternoon was spent at Prangin Mall to meet up with some of the wife's relatives.  Prangin Mall felt like a cross between Pertama Complex and Sg Wang Plaza, and we were warned to watch out for muggers and snatch thieves.

On Sunday morning, we headed to the Botanical Gardens, but had to cut short our visit as Cynthia got quite cranky due to the heat and humidity.  She's getting to be quite a "puteri lilin", must train her to endure the Malaysian weather more.

Penang Botanical Gardens
Penang Botanical Gardens bridge

An ex-teacher made an excellent suggestion of watching the sunset at Balik Pulau, but unfortunately, that will have to wait till the next round.  Despite some bad press, Penang is still a great holiday destination and we are planning to go back again next year.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Mizuno Wave Run 2008

After all the excitement of the Shape Run back in August, I was all fired up and trained hard for the second race - the Mizuno Wave Run (10k).

First thing I did was changing my running technique, and then trying to introduce some speedwork into my runs. A lot of tips and articles from Runner's World helped.

Keeping a regular training schedule was hard, but in the end I managed about 3 to 4 sessions a week - speedwork and tempo runs on weekdays, long runs on weekends.

Then, finally came the big day. It didn't help that the night before Cynthia was acting up, coupled with the fact that I couldn't sleep. In the end I slept for about 4 hours before waking up at 5 am to pick up my other running mates.

The course this time around was harder than the Shape Run, a lot of uphills. By the 7th KM, I was getting quite tired and the thought of stopping crossed my mind for a second, but I pressed on.

I finally finished in an unofficial time of 57 minutes, but the official time will probably be 1 hour, because there was a queue at the finish line! This was the first time Pacesetters was using a microchip to track the participants' start and end times, and one lesson learned would be that they need more finishing lanes in order to avoid congestion in the future. At one stage, I saw that the line was about 50 persons long :)

Next stop - improving my running technique further, increasing speedwork, more training on uphills in order to challenge for a better timing in the next race. Unfortunately, there aren't any more short races that I can participate this year, so the next race will probably be early 2009. Gambate!

Friday, October 17, 2008


I saw a review of Homerun today, a 2002 Singaporean film by the (in)famous Jack Neo that I heard managed to be both quite touching and politically loaded.

HomeRun Poster

I got to thinking why there aren't many meaningful movies that kids and teenagers can enjoy nowadays, apart from the usual slick fare that Hollywood churns out.

Then I remembered a film festival for young people called Cinemagic that happens around November & December every year in Belfast. The festival featured movies for and about young people from all over the world, both new and old. I managed to catch the '92 and '93 editions, and still kept the '93 programme book.

Cinemagic 1993

On a whim I googled for Cinemagic, and presto, its still going strong after all these years! You can go their site to find out what kind of movies they are showing this year.

Cinemagic 2008

Tucked within the usual blockbusters are movies such as Innocent Voices, a movie about how war had affected the life of a child.

Maybe we could persuade GSC or TGV in Malaysia to do something similar film festival one day :)

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Tryin' To Get The Feeling Again

I didn't know about the Carpenters until a relatively late age - I was 18 when I first saw the cassette tapes at a music shop I used to frequent with some friends at PJ State.

But I was quite hooked on their soothing songs soon after, and collected quite a number of their song over the years.

In Uni, I found out that Karen Carpenter had passed away, and with that came the sad realization that I was not going to hear any more new songs from her.

But in 1995, a new single CD was released, around the time I was preparing for my final year uni exams. It contained two old songs, and a previously unreleased one - Tryin' To Get The Feeling Again.

The song was haunting - hearing Karen's voice on a new song was a spine tingling experience. I soon had it on repeat on my CD player as I slogged through my books.

Now, as I listen to it again, those months between spring and summer when I was coming to the end of my time at Belfast came flooding back to me - looking out at the students relaxing in the fields just outside the hostel, the dread-filled hours spent at the Science library going through the past year papers, walking past the Botanic Gardens towards the computer labs, playing football outside the Physical Education Centre.

At any moment he'll be walking through that door
But he won't find me behind it
'Cause the feeling is gone and just won't come back any more
I worked so hard to find it

I've been up, down, tryin' to get the feeling again
All around tryin' to get the feeling again
That one that made me shiver
Make my knees start to quiver every time he walks in
I've look high, low, everywhere I possibly can
But there's just no tryin' to get the feeling again
It seemed to disappear as fast at it came

Read every book, looked, for every meditation and poem
Just to bring home that old sweet sensation
But it ain't no use to me to try to get the feeling again

When did it leave me
How did I come to miss use such a beautiful bonnet
But baby believe me, I've done everything I can do
But somehow it's no returnin'
I've been up, down, tryin' to get the feeling again
Like a bloodhound searching for a long lost friend
Could you help me rediscover
The way to re-be his lover once again

Monday, September 15, 2008

The "IF" Tag

Ann tagged me to do this last week, but was pretty tired from work the whole week and couldn't rack my brains properly to come up with the five "IF"'s.

Anyway, I finally sat down to think about it this evening and, yes, I did manage to come up with five "IF"'s. So, here we go:-

First "IF": If I had passed my SAM exams at Taylor's College like I was supposed to, I would have ended up in Australia. And as a result would have probably known a totally different set of people. I suspect my worldview would also have been affected. And last but not least, it would also have affected my second "IF below.

Second "IF": If I had not accepted an invitation by a uni friend to attend a retreat at Peace Haven (Genting), I would not have ended up in my current church, which was where I met my wife, made a lot of close friends and brought me closer to Him. At the retreat, I met someone who invited me to join my current church. This second "IF" was only possible because I ended up going to UK for my studies, which was where I met the uni friend who invited me to the retreat :)

Third "IF": If I had not joined my first company, I would not be doing what I'm doing today. At my first company, I met someone from a software vendor company, who later invited me to join him when he moved on to another vendor. Through that second company I was asked to do project management, and also met my "sifu" who taught me what really needed to know in order to do my job well. As a result, I was able to move to better jobs.

Fourth "IF": If my wife had not decided to switch church eight years ago, I would not have met her and ..... you know the rest :)

Fifth "IF": If my auntie had not saved me from drowning more than twenty years ago, you would not be reading this post.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

...Class Remembered...

When I saw the name of the person who sent me the Facebook invite a few days ago, a flood of memories came back to me.

15 years ago, I had the privilege to meet an unforgettable lady in uni. J was a few years my senior, and was doing a course somewhat similar to mine. She was never a classic beauty, but what she may have slightly lacked in the looks department, she made up in tonnes in personality.

J had a way of making you feel as if you are the most important person when you are in her presence. The way she holds a conversation with you, you feel like you could talk to her forever. She was funny, feminine, and playful. And the list goes on.

There were other girls who were physically very beautiful in my uni during those days, but to many of us guys then, none of them even remotely compared to J.

Which brings me to the point of my post - I realized what true beauty was when I met J. A lot of women assume that men are attracted to the physical and the visual, but in reality men are much, much more attracted to a woman with an amazing personality.

In fact, there was a news article recently on how most men preferred to date Helen Mirren or Judi Dench than a sexy young thing.

J, its a privilege knowing you :)

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Beijing Olympics - A Tribute

Just finished watching the closing ceremony, and felt like putting a few final thoughts about the Beijing games.

The games has been very memorable, mainly because behind the spectacular shows that the organisers put up, the true spirit of the games still remains intact. We saw wonderful achievements, wonderful sportsmanship, and to see the athletes time and again exceed themselves was a joy and inspiration.

So, as a tribute to the those who so inspired us, I dug out some old MV's from Youtube from that perennial favourite of mine - Animalympics.

The first two MV's are a tribute to the sacrifices that each athlete makes and the discipline that they have to endure to get to where they are today:

The third MV is a tribute to all who have gone to Beijing and gave their very best:

And last but not least, beyond the spectacular presentations that Zhang Yi Mou came up with, the Beijing Olympics theme song for me best personifies the spirit of the games:-

Thursday, August 21, 2008


Since young, I was well known to be a kaki bangku, hopeless in all sports, except maybe for chess.

But in Form 1, I took up cross country running, and was instantly hooked. I wasn't very fast, but there was a certain sense of joy and fulfillment whenever I go out for those long runs.

Since then, on and off I will pick up running again. In Belfast, I used to go on bracing runs in the cold winter. The cold made it easier to cover long distances, and 8 to 10 km was quite the norm.

In my first job, I was encouraged to take up walking, and for 2 years I represented the company in the 10 km walk in the annual inter-insurance company athletics meet.

But later as I started a family and moved on to new careers, running took a backseat. The only exercise I got seems to be wandering around shopping centres during the weekend.

A few years ago, thanks to my good friend Simon I got a treadmill for a good price. I found out to my horror that my fitness had dropped tremendously - I could barely do 3 km before being forced to stop. Once a week I also jogged in the park near my home - again 3 km seems to be my barrier.

Then about 6 weeks ago, a church friend called and asked whether I was interested to sign up for a 10k race.

With that, finally came the incentive to really train and break through the barrier. I did 4, then 5, then 7 and finally was able to do 8 just before the race.

And finally came the big day. It was a wonderful feeling finding out that, yes, I can do 10k once more! The time of 1 hour 5 mins wasn't great, but finishing was still a fantastic feeling :)

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Wither Malaysia?

I don't like to blog about politics, but it has weighed heavily on my mind recently.

Amidst all the shows and drama that are on display daily in our newspapers and in cyberspace, there are a few things that I felt are worth pointing out:

The dominant party in the ruling coalition has become too powerful, to the point that not the police, not the judiciary, not the parliament, and probably not even the monarchy is able to do anything about the rampant abuse of power by them.

I suspect it is not really the alternative coalition that the rakyat want, but rather a way to finally check and roll back the insidious influence this party has been having on all our cherished institutions. They see the alternative coalition as one of our final hopes of doing this.

The key players in the party have too much at stake for us to hope that they will find it in their conscience to do the right thing. They will surely have to answer to the Almighty in the hereafter, but at the moment they just don't care.

There is one other hope, and that for the other member parties of the ruling coalition to realize that they do have it in their power to turn this tide around. Minus all the other member parties, the dominant party cannot stand on its own. But most are either too cowardly or too self serving to have the courage to do the right thing.


So, is there no hope for Malaysia then? Will the final remnants of resistance be finally snuffed out and Malaysia continue on its slow but sure path to self-destruction? The events unfolding in the next few weeks will tell, but at this moment the optimist in me has just turned off the lights and left the building.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Goodbye to Randy Pausch

Though I didn't know Randy Pausch in person, it was with sadness that I read about his passing on today. You can read articles about him here, here and here.

I first got to know about Randy I think around late last year. The original version of his "Last Lecture" was on Google Video, and though it took a while to download, it was well worth the wait.

It was heartbreaking that he left behind three young children, but they can be proud that their dad also left behind a legacy for millions of people.

Many people said they have been touched by his story - some stopped feeling sorry for themselves, some decided to "Seize The Day", others took courage from it.

Someone had assembled a tribute video to him on Youtube:-

A full version of his lecture (be warned, its 1 hour 15 minutes long):

Monday, July 21, 2008


Two weeks ago, my wife's colleague had her handbag snatched near her office in Jalan Semantan.

A day later, my babysitter's purse was snatched in the early morning at Pusat Bandar Puchong.

The day after that, my wife's eldest sister was injured and hospitalized after a snatch thief grabbed her handbag as she walked towards her home in Simpang Renggam.

And what was the police busy doing during that time?

Where is the compassion to help citizens in need, to ensure they have safe streets to walk on? Where is the urgency to go after those who are the real threats to our country's security?

Instead, much manpower and effort are wasted to serve political masters to achieve their selfish agendas, not to mention inconveniencing millions of people.

I appeal sincerely to your conscience - WHERE ARE YOUR PRIORITIES? Or do you not have any conscience left?

I do not currently support PR to overthrow the government, but it seems BN is trying very hard to make me.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The Debate

I switched on the TV when it was already into the second round.

And there he was, as eloquent as ever.

It has been 10 years since I last heard him speak, and he continues to be a mesmerising speaker. There's no denying Anwar's charisma. The way he confidently carried himself, sure but without a hint of arrogance. The sincerity dripping from his voice.

I have always had mixed feelings about Anwar. On one hand, I regard him as a very intelligent and rational person, tempered with compassion. On the other hand, I wonder if there is deviousness, greed and a gigantic ego lurking behind them.

But I suppose it is unfair for me to expect perfection from our leaders when none of us in this world is.

So, as I listened to him calmly and somewhat humbly express his well thought out views, my mind vaccilated between wishing this man is now our PM, and thinking how this guy might be one of the greatest actors in world.

So, I think the actual question on my mind is, is he for real, or is he just like Obama, a great orator but not much else?

Malaysia sure needs a courageous leader right now. Pak Lah is a good man, but all he has are mostly just good intentions. And you know what they say about good intentions.

Sigh. I don't know. I just have mixed feelings right now.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Olympics Ramblings

The other night as I went to pick up my daughter with my wife, I boasted to her that I could name all the Olympics venues in at least the past 30 years. So, off I went. Then, for some strange reason, I couldn't get 2004. I racked my brains, but it wouldn't come. Finally, I decided to Google it there and then on my PDA.


Gosh, was Athens so unmemorable?

I remember the rest for one reason or another:

2000 - Sydney
I remember it was at the end of the year to coincide with summer in Australia. I had just started in a new company at the time and there wasn't much to do initially, so me and a few colleagues took to surfing the Olympics website every few minutes :)

1996 - Atlanta
Made an impression because of the security scares.

1992 - Barcelona
Was in Uni in UK, some of my uni mates actually went to see it.

1988 - Seoul
Theme song was "Hand in Hand". Was also the Olympics where my faith in it was shattered - Ben Johnson was my idol and I was devastated that he cheated.

1984 - Los Angeles
Peter Uberoth helped put on an amazing spectacle for the world. Most memorable for me. I was in Form 1 afternoon session, hence I got to catch a lot of the broadcasts in the morning.

1980 - Moscow
The year of the boycott, due to Afghanistan. I still couldn't get over the fact that Malaysian football qualified to go, but couldn't as Malaysia joined the boycott.

1976 - Montreal
I had a set of stamps commemorating it! :)

1972 - Munich
The hostage tragedy.

1968- Mexico
The famous long jump record.

This year, China finally has the honour of hosting the games. Let's hope politics and scandals will be kept to the minimum, and let sporting drama prevail instead.

TM Customer Service Story

Every once in a while I like to rant about bad customer service in Malaysia, but I thought should give credit where credit's due when improvements do happen.

My Streamyx went on the blink last Friday. I gave TM a call on Sunday night to report the problem.

Surprise number 1 - With the new menu system, I was able to select talking to a person with three buttons.

Surprise number 2 - A person picked up the phone within 2 rings!

Surprise number 3 - they did not blindly ask stupid questions, but was willing to listen to my summary of the problem and acted accordingly.

Surprise number 4 - When I called back after trying something and it didn't work, I was able to get back a consistent customer experience!

Surprise number 5 - the problem was fixed within 24 hours, no hassle.

Surprise number 6 - I received TWO calls from the technical department to confirm that my problem is fixed and that I was happy with the resolution.

I still have complaints about Streamyx's inconsistent speed, but their customer service has definitely made a significant improvement. Syabas!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Love Letter/The Contact

I just finished reading a review of Made of Honour by The Star yesterday, and got to thinking - when was the last time I saw a really good romance movie? After digging for a while, I have to go back all the way to "Love, Actually" which was released in 2004. If I have to name something more recent, I would be forced to choose "Iron Man" (bear with me here) which, in addition to all the usual action scenes, had a very sweet subplot concerning Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) and the hero.

Apart from the Before Sunrise/Before Sunset combo, two of my other all time favourite love stories from the silver screen came from Japan and Korea.

The Japanese one is actually pretty well known - Love Letter. I first saw it at Midvalley in 2000, and have since owned a VCD of it (still hunting for a proper DVD copy).

The movie handles the themes of loss, memories, and things unspoken with tenderness wraps things up with a coda that is heartbreaking but yet uplifting.

The second movie was more conventional (think You've Got Mail's predecessor), but it's execution is much more superior to Tom Hank's movie. The movie's protrayal of the loneliness of our modern existence amidst all the comforts and choices we have is something that most of us living in Klang Valley can really relate to.

The Korean movie came with the bonus of a really cool theme song - Velvet Underground's Pale Blue Eyes. Enjoy :)

Monday, June 09, 2008

Ipoh Trip

Was up with Ipoh last weekend with wife and kid to attend a wedding. We stayed at Heritage Hotel, which was nothing to shout about, but it was quite clean and comfy.

The dinner at Sun Lee How Fook, however, was another matter. The food was REALLY good, all the dishes had the freshest ingredients and was superbly cooked. The finale, however, was a puzzle - Nestle ice-cream??

Going round town was made easier thanks to the superb map drawn by Wai Yin, and also the help of a local friend (thanks, Victor!).

On Sunday, we originally planned to go to Foh San, but was warned by Victor that it will be difficult to get into. So, we decided to go to Yuk Fook Moon, supposedly one of a trio (Foh San being one of them as well) of excellent dim sum places in Ipoh.

After breakfast, we went to the famed toyshop near Sun Yuen Loong in Old Town (thanks again, WY!) and got some toys for Cynthia.

Then we paid the Ipoh train station a visit. I was surprised to see a brand new platform had been built there recently. Victor explained this was in preparation for the double-tracking project.

We finally rounded off the trip with a visit to the Salted Chicken shop and also bought some Heong Peng.

On the way back, my wife commented that things in Ipoh seemed more solid and authentic, in contrast to KL. I have to agree - somehow, KL has become a pale imitation of the real thing.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

PD Retreat

Had a great time at PD last weekend with some church friends. Simon, Ann and Wai Yin have all blogged about it, so wifey said, "Hey, where's yours?"

So, here you go, a few more photos of a great trip. Thanks Simon & Wai Yin for organizing this and taking good care of us, and thanks to the rest for your wonderful company and great conversation :)

The spectacular view from the hotel

Cynthia relaxing at the comfy king size bed everyone was raving about

Teluk Kemang - can you believe this was my first time here?

My dear friend Shang with her daughter Arielle

Arielle & Zoe having a good time playing in the sand with their daddies and mummies

Monday, April 07, 2008


Although I agree with my good friend Simon's recent post that Malaysian mainstream newspapers are generally biased and useless, one of the reasons I still buy The Star is that they regularly feature stories like this.

I was reading it as I was having dinner tonight and was almost moved to tears as I saw the photos of the little babies that the kind soul was taking care of. They reminded me of my own Cynthia, innocent and helpless and beautiful, and yet, for some reason, unwanted.

Why, are they unwanted? It is not for me to throw stones, as very often, the reason is economic - the mother simply do not have the means to take care of the child.

God has really called Phuc to do His good work, as he has carried them out in faith, without worrying about how he will have the funds to do it.

The story really made me cherish my own little angel more, and tonight I spent more time than usual with her :)

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Sing It Again, Jose

No, not that Jose formerly with a very famous football club :)

There's a saying that goes "all Filipinos can sing". And sure enough, in Malaysia you can find a Filipino band playing in almost every lounge. But in 1990, we had the privilege to be introduced to Jose Mari Chan.

Jose Mari Chan was actually very popular in his home country for many years, but his songs were seldom heard elsewhere.

In 1990, his new English album was released in Malaysia, and the song "Beautiful Girl" was a monster hit.

But till today, a bigger favourite of mine was the first song in that album, "Constant Change".

As usual, a trawl through YouTube produced the goods. Hope you'll enjoy it as much as I do :)

We're on the road
We move from place to place
And oftentimes when I'm about to call it home
We'd have to move along
Life is a constant change...

The friends we know we meet along the way
Too soon the times we share form part of yesterday
'Cause life's a constant change
And nothing stays the same, oh no

Clouds that move across the skies
Are changing form before our very eyes

Why couldn't we keep time from movin' on?
Hold on to all the years before this moment's gone?
Why must we live the days at such a frightening pace?

We're all like clouds that move across the skies
And changing form before our very eyes

Have we outgrown our Peter Pans and wings?
We've simply grown too old for tales of knights and kings
'Cause life's a constant change
And nothing stays the same, oh no

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Election Musings

Shortly after our political tsunami, I discovered an interesting fact about the parliamentary elections. If we only look at parliament seats in West Malaysia, the score is actually 86 vs 80 between BN and BR. Six seats!

What saved the BN in PRU12 was effectively Sabah and Sarawak. I complained to my wife why, despite years of neglect and bullying by the Federal Govt, East Malaysia still chose to throw their support behind BN. I then painted a tantalizing scenario where the East Malaysians also decide they had enough and decide to defect to BR.

Well, it turns they are thinking of it :) See here and here.

This could be the end of our country as we know it, and the birth of a new era.

Future of Broadcasting

I have seen the future of broadcasting, and Astro should be very, very afraid.

About a month ago, I was back in my wife's home in Kluang, which had no broadband and no ESPN/Star Sports. Arsenal was going to play MU that night, so I came up with a plan.

I've heard of online sports broadcasts on the Net. So, step 1, I subscribed to Celcom's Daily Broadband (8 bucks). Next, I hooked up my PDA to my notebook. I started surfing the net for online broadcasts.

I ended up downloading something called SOPCast.

I ran it.

A list of channels came out.

My hands shaking with excitement, I clicked on the Star Sports channel.

After a 30 second wait........I was watching the match. Live. On my notebook, hooked to a PDA accessing a 3.5G network to link to the Internet.

As Arsenal began to lose badly, the number of peers started dropping, and the stream began to get jerky.

SOPCast is actually a peer-to-peer internet tv system, and works very much like BitTorrent. Which means the quality of the stream very much depends on how many peers are there sharing the same channel.

As broadband becomes more commonplace all over the world and the pipes get bigger, in the future, will we still be watching tv as we know it?

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Groundhog Day (Again)

Some of you may remember me mentioning the movie Groundhog Day in my previous posts and also on my Facebook profile.

Tonight, the movie suddenly occurred to me again and I googled it up while I reflected on what I saw 15 years ago.

Yes, its been that long since I first saw the film. In June 1993, I had just finished my second year uni exams, and was feeling a bit depressed after struggling through some of the papers. It was at Cannon cinema in Belfast, which has since been overtaken by MGM a few streets away.

As I walked out of the cinema that afternoon, I told myself that I must always strive to remember that each day is unique and precious, that I will never be able to go through that day again, and that I have the power to make it a good day or a bad day for everyone that I encounter.

About five thousand days have elapsed since that day, and I felt a bit despondent realizing that more often that not, I have forgotten those thoughts.

The other realization came when I read a blog entry by the scriptwriter of the movie and the comments left by a guy who wrote a self improvement book based on the movie.

That realization was, again sadly, that although in many ways I had changed, there are also many things which have still remained much the same, and some things which have in fact went backwards.

Those of you who know my age will probably say by this point - "Pat's having a mid-life crisis" :)

. . . . . . . . . .

In more ways than we realize, our days do bear more than a passing resemblance to the ones that Phil in the movie went through. We stumble through our busy lives, the days whizzing by in a blur of frantic activities. Try this: can you remember everything you did last Wednesday? Or what you ate for lunch three days ago?

Perhaps if each one of us can take a little time each day to pause and reflect, rather than rush headlong into the day the moment we wake up and collapse into bed at the end of it, then we may achieve a little of what Phil achieved at the end of the movie.

If you have felt a little depressed yourself after reading this, fear not. As Scarlett O'Hara said, after all, tomorrow is another day :) As you wake up tomorrow morning, remember Phil.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

It Finally Happened

Just when I thought I would never see a change in the Malaysian political landscape in my lifetime, it finally happened.

What a sweet moment it was.

Ever since I became politically aware during my teenage years in the 80's, I sensed something was wrong with the Malaysian system.

One day in 1987 when I went out to buy my daily papers, I was surprised to see that The Star has disappeared from the newstands and the remaining papers mentioned something called "Operation Lalang". I began to read Aliran to find out what was going on.

In 1988, the UMNO crisis and the subsequent Salleh Abbas case shook my faith in the government.

When 1990 came around, I was hoping Razaleigh would be able to break the 2/3 stranglehold BN had on the parliament, but they missed the opportunity.

In the 90's politics took a backseat as everyone was too busy making money from the economic boom.

In 1999 some quarters were spooked by the prospect of an Islamic state, and the expected change again did not materialise despite Keadilan, etc.

On 8th March 2008, the silent majority of Malaysia finally decided that they had enough.

It was not just the Chinese and Indians. The Malays had a voter swing, too.

My Malay colleague gave me a knowing smile on Friday when she reminded me to be a good citizen on election day. I realised later what she meant when the results came out - she had driven all the way to Kedah with her kids to vote. It was a touching representation of the silent majority who have finally decided to do their part for the good of the country.

To all those who are trying to analyse the loss, especially the folks from BN, I have this message for you. Don't bother looking into what the opposition did or what the BN did wrong or did not do, tactics, local issues, etc.

It's not about you.

It's about us.

We, the silent majority, have finally spoken. Please don't continue to be so self-centred, and REALLY listen to us for a change.

Friday, March 07, 2008

What is it all about, really?

I originally intended NOT to do a post about Malaysian Elections 2008, but I was lost in deep thought this morning as I was driving to work and listening to the slick BN radio adverts that had been broadcasting for the past one week.

As I listened to the advert guy intone in Mandarin on the radio "What are we voting for? We are voting for peace, security and prosperity. Vote for Malaysia", I suddenly felt a surge of anger within me.

How dare they equate voting for BN with voting for Malaysia, I thought.

I am actually pretty torn this time round. Back in 1999, the first time I voted, I went anti-establishment just for the heck of it. But in 2004, I bought into the vision and promises that Pak Lah made, and made my vote an endorsement of him. Heck, I didn't even notice the candidates' names, all I cared about was putting the big X next to the scales.

Now, four years later, a lot has happened. And there is a sense of betrayal. Yes, the economic numbers don't lie. But beyond that, there is gnawing feeling that we are on the wrong track.

Why? Could it be because of our leaders are too short-sighted to care about the next generation, and only interested in enriching the present? Could it be because we are squandering our wealth away? Could it be because there is a distinct lack of respect by some of us for each other, and lack of acknowledgment of each person's contribution to the nation, regardless of the skin colour? Could it be because after 4 years, much still remains the same? Could it be because our leaders lacked the courage and conviction to do the right thing for the good of the nation, regardless of vested interests?

As I was nearing my office, I realized what I really wanted. Our leaders have become too smug.

I want accountability.

The alternatives are not palatable by any measure, but I would rather we have someone who can speak up for accountability than someone who just tries to get some goodies for us. We are all citizens of Malaysia. Aren't we all entitled to the fruits of our labour, instead of electing someone to beg for it?

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

A Good Day

Today started off a little earlier than usual for me. For some reason I woke up with a start at 4.30 am. Remembering the Arsenal-Milan match, of which I had a dreaded sense of foreboding due to Arsenal's uninspiring performance during the weekend, I switched on my PDA and connected to the BBC website.

"0-0", blinked the screen. MU was already 1 up against Lyon in the other match. I sighed and went back to sleep.

5.00 am -- "0-0" Sigh. Looks like its going to be one of those matches again.

7.00 am -- "0-2" Hooray!!!

At 12 noon I dropped by the CNN website. Clinton wins Ohio. My heart skips a beat. If Mrs. Clinton going to pull another one similar to the one his husband did in 1992? 3 pm - Clinton wins Texas. Hooray again!!!

5.30 pm -- got an email from one of my staff. A difficult technical problem that had been blocking the team is finally solved. Yipee!!!

8.00 pm -- got hold of my favourite magazine Empire at IOI Mall Popular.

9.00 pm -- Wife and daughter greets me at the door.

Yep, its been a good day :)

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Chinese New Year 2008 (Part 3)

No CNY will be complete in Sibu without the fireworks and firecrackers, and this year was no different.

The first round usually starts around dinner time on New Year's eve, and the main event would usually start at midnight. In the olden days when supply was plentiful and cheap, the din could last up to 45 minutes!

One favourite fireworks was parachute, where a rocket would shoot up, explode, and a parachute with New Year's greetings would be released. Another was a stick which shoots up to 10 colourful fireballs.

I still never fail to feel the surge of excitement and fear when the fuse sizzles as it lights up.

Hopefully one day the government will legalize them again :)

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Chinese New Year 2008 (Part 2)

For quite a few months, we were worried about how Cynthia is going to cope with making the plane trip back to Sibu. A pharmacy friend even suggested giving some cough mixture to make her sleep through the whole journey.

at KLIA airport

In the end, we decided we will take the risk of letting her cope naturally with the flight. PTL, she slept through most of the journey going back to Sibu. Coming back to KL, she was more naughty, but luckily she didn't throw a tantrum or anything. We breathed a sigh of relief as we touched down in KLIA.

in the plane with mummy

Monday, February 11, 2008

Chinese New Year 2008 (Part 1)

Just got back from an 11 day break in Sibu (the longest in 2 years!) for CNY.

As per tradition, before the reunion dinner we let off some firecrackers.

This year, we were short of the youngest sister, who had to work. Miss you, sis!

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Going Home

Today as I was packing to get ready to go back to Sibu, I was suddenly overcome with homesickness. I usually don't think about my hometown much, but today my memories just came flooding back.

It's been two years since I've been home.

I only stayed in Sibu for eight years, but I spent my most of my childhood and teenage years there, so I've always had the most affection for it.

During my Belfast years, I used to hear this song called Caledonia on tv and on radio. Every time I hear it I'll get homesick. It was a song that speaks of someone's longing and love for the place where he came from. Although the song was referring to Caledonia (Scotland), the sentiments expressed in the song is universal.

You can hear Lisa Kelly's version below, although I personally prefer Frankie Miller's version (here).


I don't know if you can see
The changes that have come over me
In these last few days I've been afraid
That I might drift away
So I've been telling old stories, singing songs
That make me think about where I came from
And that's the reason why I seem
So far away today

Oh, but let me tell you that I love you
That I think about you all the time
Caledonia you're calling me
And now I'm going home
If I should become a stranger
You know that it would make me more than sad
Caledonia's been everything
I've ever had

Now I have moved and I've kept on moving
Proved the points that I needed proving
Lost the friends that I needed losing
Found others on the way
I have kissed the ladies and left them crying
Stolen dreams, yes there's no denying
I have traveled hard with coattails flying
Somewhere in the wind

Now I'm sitting here before the fire
The empty room, the forest choir
The flames that could not get any higher
They've withered now they've gone
But I'm steady thinking my way is clear
And I know what I will do tomorrow
When the hands are shaken and the kisses flow
Then I will disappear

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Bitter Lotus (苦心莲)

Way back when I was in Form 1, there was this Taiwanese TV series called Bitter Lotus. It was basically a remake of the popular Japanese TV series Oshin.

I can't remember whether I saw it on RTM2 (no TV3 for Sarawak folks back then), or was it on video. But I do remember my grandma getting all excited about the way life was depicted in the series. She would point out that this was the way things were in China when they were young, and never stopped reminding us on how lucky we are.

Being young then (and not to mention well-fed and well taken care of), I used to feel quite resentful whenever she did that.

But many years later (2006 to be exact), when I went back to visit my grandfather's birthplace, I found out how close to the truth the TV series was. Life IS really hard in the remote villages in China, despite the economic boom in the cities.

Anyway, another reason why the series stayed in my memory was the theme song, which was quite sweet and haunting at the same time. You can hear the song below:

For those who know Mandarin, here are the lyrics:


春光明媚 秋氣(風)爽

Monday, January 14, 2008

More Testing

Been trying out various settings on the camera after reading the manual during the weekend.

The 50 mm f1.8 lens I added is really good in low light, but at the same time I have to increase the ISO (to 1600!) in order to get the speed that I needed to get candid shots indoors. The downside of that is I get some graininess and loss of sharpness.

Looks like its going to take some work to get really "pro" shots :) Will try a few more things this weekend and see whether any improvements.

Meantime, check out the results of last weekend's experiments:

Another thing I learned was that I can shoot in RAW format and then edit the photo to get the picture that I want. Sample below after editing with the Digital Photo Professional software that came bundled with the camera:

RAW files are really huge though (about 11 Mb per photo).

Thursday, January 10, 2008

New Camera

After much thought, I decided to go semi-pro a little bit and go for an entry level DSLR in order to get better pics of Cynthia.

It was not easy to persuade my wife, but thanks to friends like ashlight and bloggers like chen22 who demonstrated what can be achieved, I finally got myself a Canon EOS 400D.

So far, I didn't have much time to study the different techniques and settings yet, but playing around with it and trying out a few things showed the possibilities. Check out the photos I managed to get below after 5 minutes with the new camera:-

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Fancy a KFC Meal?

Tonight we decided to go to KFC after I failed to fulfil my usual obligation to "ta pau" from the pasar malam.

While queueing I noticed a nutritional guide pamphlet displayed next to the cashiers. Then I remembered - one of our Health Minister's (ex) initiatives was getting all the fast food companies to supply nutritional information on all the food they sell, and they had to comply by 1st Jan 2008.

Reading the pamphlet, I was surprised to learn that,

  • on average, a piece of Hot & Spicy chicken has 30% more fat and 50% more salt content than the Original Recipe ones.
  • The rib and thigh have the most fat content. In terms of salt content, breast shares the top spot with rib.
  • Think you're going the healthy way by avoiding fries and going for coleslaw? Think again! Coleslaw actually has 100% more fat content and 200% more salt content than an average packet of fries. There's actually a simple explanation for this - the dressing used to make the coleslaw is the culprit.
  • Apart from Garden Salad (go easy on the dressing :) ), the healthiest side order is the humble Whipped Potato.

So, I guess we know what to do the next time we visit KFC again :)

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