Friday, 30 May 2008
In any case, there's this particular spot at the foothills which I have been photographing regularly. Today, it looks quite normal with a hint of dampness on the rocks.
But you should compare this shot with another that I took a week ago. It was so different then, when water was gushing down after the rain.
UPDATE: Yesterday (Friday) was not good enough for me. I pulled myself from the bed at 6.15am today to prepare myself for an early morning climb to the BM Hill's tea hut.
Already, by the time I finished the main course of fettucine with grilled chicken, I was feeling quite full. You know how pasta dishes can be like, especially when the cook goes crazy with the cheese and creamy sauces. ES even had to give up on his meal. We had both chosen the same dish.
However, I was quite unprepared for the dessert. In fact, none of us were prepared. The staff at TGIF had recommended their house specialty - mocha mud pie - but we never expected the portion that came. It was a real struggle to finish it. I couldn't. Neither could Ted, although you couldn't tell from the photo, could you? Incredibly, YT managed to do justice to his serving! I really have to acknowledge him as the sifu of the day.
What goes into the mocha mud pie? I was told it's three inches deep of mocha ice cream with a layer of chocolate, deep frozen for two days, then sliced up when a customer orders it. It's then topped librally with mocha powder, sprinkled with almond slices and then .... served with fudge, all gooey and sticky. Now, isn't that really sinful? I don't think I can ever look at fettucine and mocha mud pies again for a long, long time.....
UPDATE: It's way past midnight and I'm still having a caffeine buzz! I'm feeling so wide awake.
Thursday, 29 May 2008
Anyway, we drove left, right, right, left, left, left, right, right. left, right. right ...... Ah, well. I really can't remember how we turned. I only remember following the back of her car, turning right when she signalled right and turning left when she signalled left. Of course, I congratulated her for getting me lost (after thanking her for the lunch AND returning us to her house.)
Luckily, I love Bah Kut Teh and I loved the Huge and Chunky version at this restaurant. I really don't mind getting lost again IF I can ever find this place again. But then, I have to go right, left, left, right, left, left, right again which is a BIG hassle for this dish.
There's a tamer version at the Cititel Hotel at MidValley where we had brekkie the following morning. Only difference is that instead of pork, it's pieces of chicken. So the hotel coined a new name for this: Chik Kut Teh.
Okay, lah. It's edible enough. But it's nothing like the real strong, original stuff!
Sunday, 25 May 2008
Saturday, 24 May 2008
This is the Sea Ocean Restaurant and it's located in Permatang Tinggi along the old Federal Road that runs from Butterworth to Ipoh. A table for five persons costus us RM127 only. This particular crab dish was RM42. Reasonable.
Friday, 23 May 2008
What appearing in tonight's game proved is that I was right to remain at United throughout my career. When I first came through, Serie A was the place to be and the best players went there. Now all the great players are playing in England. Winning the Champions League is the biggest achievement of my career along with my United debut, my Wales debut and captaining my country. Back in 1999 when I was 26 I just assumed I would be involved in a few more finals again. But at 34, you know deep down that the chance is slipping away. But I want nights like this again. We deserved it, we've been the best team."
One of just two players to score in every Premier League season;
Six times included in the Professional Footballers Association team of the year;
Played 12 consecutive seasons in the Champions League (record);
Took 15 seconds to score United's fastest Premiership goal against Southampton in Nov 1995;
17 years old when he made his United debut at home to Everton in Mar 1991;
Most decorated player in English football with 20 major honours;
Scored 26 European Cup goals all for United;
759 club appearances, surpassing Bobby Charlton's 35-year record.
In this story in The Malaysian Insider, Guan Eng was quoted as saying (grammatical error and all):
"Whilst the intervention of a peerless individual may prove divine, the victory by Man United in the Champions League proved that champion teams do not consist of one individuals but all 11 players. No matter how awesome and majestic a player, he can never make a football team champions. Ronaldo proved it that when he blew the penalty, but his team-mates stepped up to win the championship. Teamwork matters now more than ever. A leader's success is now determined by the ability not only to gather the best and brightest but his or her ability to mould them as one and meld them with one heart, one mind and one soul. Only the subordinates' success decides a leader's legacy,"
I think this is a confirmation that when it comes down to the basics, the people in this country are very interested about affairs and orgies. Ha ha ha ha ha .... !!!!
Anyway, if you want to read what I wrote, here are two links to it: here and here.
As you know, I come to the office extra early on Friday mornings. Guess what greeted me when I switched on the lights. Meek himself.
Yes, a big fat Meek, caught in the trap that was laid for him. Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, come here and meet Meek. From whiskers to tail, I reckon it measured about nine to 10 inches. The eek's gone out from Meek. Life's in the office has returned to normal.
BTW, in case you are curious, "Eek & Meek" was the name of a comic strip by the late Howie Schneider which ran from 1965 until 2000. Eek and Meek began as two mice but they began morphing into human shapes in 1982. "Eek & Meek" appeared as a syndicated comic strip in a local daily but I can't remember which one.
Thursday, 22 May 2008
Champions of Europe again
A European night of Russian Roulette: We win the CHAMPIONS LEAGUE 6-5 on PENALTIES
TEVEZ scores: Man Utd 1-0 Chelsea
BALLACK scores: Man Utd 1-1 Chelsea
CARRICK scores: Man Utd 2-1 Chelsea
BELLETTI scores: Man Utd 2-2 Chelsea
RONALDO misses: Man Utd 2-2 Chelsea
LAMPARD scores: Man Utd 2-3 Chelsea
HARGREAVES scores: Man Utd 3-3 Chelsea
A COLE scores: Man Utd 3-4 Chelsea
NANI scores: Man Utd 4-4 Chelsea
TERRY misses: Man Utd 4-4 Chelsea
ANDERSON scores: Man Utd 5-4 Chelsea
KALOU scores: Man Utd 5-5 Chelsea
GIGGS scores: Man Utd 6-5 Chelsea
ANELKA misses: Man Utd 6-5 Chelsea
Doing the Double this season
Third Champions League Cup
18th piece of Silverware under Ferguson
40 years after first European Cup title
42nd Ronaldo goal of the season
50th anniversary of Munich air disaster
759th record appearance by Ryan Giggs
Wednesday, 21 May 2008
Penang Bridge Sdn Bhd wants to have the ban implemented but there's a lot of opposition from the transporters themselves. They are unhappy with this proposal because they say it is a bad move. I heard that they had a meeting recently and some of the more interesting points they voiced included:
- Exporters could ill afford to miss air cargo flights out of the Bayan Lepas International Airport because flights leave at scheduled times;
- Transporters will lose six to seven hours of transportation time per day due to the ban, and the expenses would eventually be passed back to the consumers;
- Transporters' concern that due to the long queues at the toll plaza, their vehicles may be barred from entering the bridge even though they may have queued early;
- Transporters' concern that heavy commercial vehicles may cause stress on the bridge structure should all of them drive onto the bridge at the same time from either direction.
Let me add just one more comment. Traffic jams will occur at any time of the day or night. It doesn't take a lorry or trailer to break down during peak hours to cause a jam. Any time will be a bad time, or otherwise I wouldn't have been caught in a jam on the bridge recently at 6.40am. And it wasn't even caused by a big commercial vehicle. Just a small, four-wheeled truck.
Well, what are the authorities going to do now? To ban or not to ban the heavy commercial vehicles from the Penang Bridge? Hobson's choice, I tell you! There's still no firm decision and it may be back to the drawing board, I suppose!
But pro-active governments like Singapore and Hongkong, unlike the Malaysian government which took a totally lukewarm approach to the problem, are fighting back although it will be debatable whether the battle can be won easily or quickly.
The Standard newspaper in Hongkong reported today that the Hongkong government is considering charging owners of pharmacies selling unregistered impotency drugs with manslaughter. This comes in the wake of reports that two men there have died. More than that, it was reported that there have been 51 cases of men between 39 and 86 years old being admitted to various hospitals, there were also two in coma.
Power 1 Walnut is just one of the brand names of this sex-enhancer which contains gilbenclamide (a blood-sugar lowering chemical) and sildenafil (a chemical for treating erectile problems). Together, this potent mix may trigger a sudden drop in blood sugar level which is a serious health risk. The 51 people in Hongkong developed symptoms such as shock, coma, intoxication, immobility and perspiration.
Production of the illegal drug is reportedly a backyard industry in China, India and Indonesia without any control at all. The end-product itself is sold under various names including Maxman, Jiubianwang, Nangeng, Zengzhangsu, Fake Viagra, Fake Cialis, Santi Bovine Penis Erecting Capsule, Zhong Hua Niu Bian, Sanbian, Weigewang Sanbianli and Lishen, so it is not only Power 1 Walnut that people should be careful of. It's also sold as Sanbian Wine and Deer Pilose Antler Wine. So you see how versatile the unscrupulous manufacturers can be, all for a quick buck.
Power 1 Walnut is also widely reported in the Singapore press. Four people had died since January, including two recent ones last Saturday- a Chinese man in his 20s and a Malay in his 50s. The number of suspected cases is at least 87, with 40 cases confirmed. Statistics from Singapore's Health Sciences Authority said those affected were between 21 and - get this - 97 years old. Fifty-six percent are Chinese, 17 percent Malay, 13 percent Indian and 14 percent others.
My earlier reports on this drug here and here.
Tuesday, 20 May 2008
Will he leave after the Champions League?
"I was born with my ability. The stepover, for example, is something I did as soon as I started in my first teams. I used to play football in the street when I was a boy, and every day I tried to do different things. I always tried to invent new dribbles, new moves. Things would come into my mind and I'd try them. I think this attitude stayed. I always looked to have my own identity. That was my dream.
"In those days, it was always against older, much bigger, boys. I suffered because I had good ability and I dribbled a lot, and suddenly I'd be pushed or tackled hard and I was out of the game. Sometimes when I tricked them, they didn't like it. They beat me sometimes. But it never stopped me being the player I am. I've always had a strong personality, because when a defender tackles you hard or challenges you mentally, you can't show weakness. You have to try and get over it and beat them with the ball."
Then, you get a forgetful old fogey coming out with a belligerent, daring-do challenge to call the government's bluff:
And then you see a classic case of back-tracking and covering of the backside with this sort of statement:
I tell you, when you read such news, do you still have faith and belief in the jokers that run this country??
Monday, 19 May 2008
This is the front of the arch. It is similar in design to an arch in Rangoon except that I was told that it is higher to allow bigger vehicles to pass beneath.
And this is the other side of the arch. The two sides look almost identical except for the Chinese characters on the front and English on the back.
There was a bonus awaiting us at the BHL. The Suvanno Memorial Hall has been opened to the general public. This building, initially built for the late Venerable Suvanno to stay, was converted into a little museum in his memory after he died last year.
You have to climb a narrow flight of stairs to reach a small room on the first floor which housed photographs of Suvanno in Lunas, some of the notes to his dharma talks and a collection of books and compact discs on Buddhism. Here's a bust of Suvanno. Looks very lifelike, don't you think so? Personally, I feel it's very Caesar-like, but no disrespect meant to the person who made this bust.
I was also quite engrossed with his notes. With some good fortune, I was given permission to photograph this page to put up here. Hope you will enjoy it too. Noticed that Suvanno's handwriting was incredibly neat.
All in, it was quite an enjoyable way to spend Wesak Day morning. Maybe, the only blight on the trip was my attempt to park the car. Because of the big crowd at the BHL, I had to park at a nearby cemetery that had seen better days. There were schoolboys acting as parking attendants but they should be more properly trained not to guide people to park their cars on top of the grave mounds. Where's the respect for the dead?
Bobby Charlton: "Ronaldo's on a long-term contract with us. I don't have to say we expect him to honour it because he will honour it unless something tragic happens. Do I think Ronaldo will be at United next season? Absolutely. It really irritates me how people can set rumours going and undermine people through the media. It's unethical. They have not got the right to undermine the way we have helped this lad. Everybody seems to think that Real Madrid or Barcelona are the two greatest clubs in the world. I don't think I have to tell Cristiano that Manchester United is the biggest club in the world."
In case you don't known, the Shih Chung Branch School is an old, abandoned building that had seen better days.
It was - still is - an imposing building. It was originally a unique Anglo-Chinese mansion belonging to Cheah Tek Soon (Tek Soon Street was named after him, so he must have been someone quite important in old Penang) in the 1880s.
The building was the first five-storey residence in the Straits Settlements and local Hokkiens called it goh chan lau (five storey bungalow). Later, it was named the Chinese Residency when Tek Soon’s brother lived there in the 1900s. Much later again, the Tye brothers turned it into the Raffles-by-the-Sea hotel in the 1910s. Again, much much later, it became the P’i Joo Girls’ School (named after another old towkay, Leong Fee or Liang P'i Joo), the Government English School and finally, the Shih Chung Branch School.
About six or seven years ago, the building was at the centre of a storm of controversy when some association wanted to turn it into a Buddhist centre-cum-columbarium. I guess nobody would have minded a Buddhist centre there along Northam Road but a columbarium? Nobody wanted that in their midst, protests were raised and the idea was dropped like a hot potato.
Here are various views of the building's exterior:
And finally, the location of the Shih Chung Branch School as seen through the eyes of Google Maps. It's the isolated building in the lower left quadrant of the picture:
Sunday, 18 May 2008
"The Champions League is different. Different competition, different style, different stadium, everything is different. And this is the biggest game of all to look forward to. Most of the players on the pitch will not have played in a Champions League final before, this will be the biggest game of their careers. Me included. It is the only thing I have not won in English football and I think I have a great chance with Manchester United. That's what I am concentrating on.
"I think I am at the right club. It feels like home and the people here have been fantastic with me. I am happy here, and I think I will be here next year, but you never know the future. I scored two goals against Arsenal, I scored against Liverpool and against Chelsea. I am very happy with my season. I have scored 41 goals and won every award, I don't have to show anything to anyone. There is nothing to prove. People can think what they like, I don't care."
Saturday, 17 May 2008
He's in good company, sharing his birthday with local celebrity and one of my Facebook contacts, Will Quah (no relation) of RedFM's Morning Breakfast Show fame who turns 24 today. Oh yes, according to my son, turning 32 today is the singer-actor Wang Lee Hom.
Anyway, Jeremy's pals dropped by with a birthday cake for him. Caught him by surprise too! Here's his gang of friends.... (Eh? I don't understand. Why must the kids of today pose with their fingers pointing in all directions??)
- From Malaysiakini: The government has spent a total of RM3.2 billion over the past five years to carry out the teaching of Science and Mathematics in English, Deputy Education Minister Razali Ismail told the Dewan Rakyat on (14 May 2008). Out of the amount, the government paid a whopping RM2.21 billion for the purchase of information and computer technology (ICT) equipments.
- From Liew Chin Tong: The construction of the federal administrative capital Putrajaya has cost a whopping RM11.83 billion, Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi revealed in Parliament. In a written reply to Liew Chin Tong (DAP-Bukit Bendera), Abdullah said the cost covers the development of the government departments, the Putrajaya International Convention Centre, the official residences of the premier, his deputy, ministers, judges and other facilities.
Note: My earlier blog post here.
For the first time in Olympics history, we may see a disabled man compete with able-bodied men in the athletics events.
Double-amputee sprinter Oscar Pistorius won his appeal to compete in the Beijing Olympics from the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) yesterday against a ban imposed on him by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF).
In November last year, the IAAF carried out tests on the 21-year-old "blade runner" at the German Sport University in Cologne to determine if his carbon fibre prosthetics, known as Cheetah limbs, could be considered a technical aid.
After using high-speed cameras, special equipment to measure ground-reaction forces and a three- dimensional scanner to record body mass to test him, the team of 10 scientists concluded that Pistorius was able to run with his blades at the same speed as able-bodied sprinters with about 25 percent less energy. Pistorius' blades gave him an energy return nearly three times higher than the human ankle joint offers in maximum sprinting.
Based on these findings, the IAAF banned Pistorius from competing, saying his carbon fibre blades gave him a mechanical advantage.
However, a panel of three arbitrators at CAS headquarters in Lausanne heard his appeal last month and ruled that it not been persuaded that there was sufficient evidence of any metabolic advantage in favour of a double-amputee using the blades.
The CAS decision has been hailed by several quarters, including the IAAF itself, and Pistorius can now expect invitations from track and field promoters across the world who want him to run at their meets before Beijing.
"Oscar will be welcomed wherever he competes this summer," IAAF president Lamine Diack said in a statement. "He is an inspirational man and we look forward to admiring his achievements in the future."
Here's the background information on the fastest man on no legs.
And finally, you can see him run in Rome last year:
Friday, 16 May 2008
But I just have to say something now. The Cabinet has decided to make public the report of the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the infamous Lingam conversation. We are indeed living in interesting times. It seems that the report has implicated six persons including our dear absent-minded ex-Prime Minister whose memory loss became so endemic with many of the other witnesses at the hearing.
I like this part of the report that touches on the authenticity of the video. It's so poetically written:
"In the final analysis, when all is said and done by the experts, both local and foreign, stripped off all the technical jargon that they used in their findings, when examined in the context of the direct or primary evidence of the maker of the video clip, coupled with that of the eyewitnesses, a simple question confronting the Commission can be posed in layman's terms: Is the video clip genuine, real, reliable or trustworthy and therefore authentic? We have no hesitation in answering in the affirmative." – page 45, paragraph 11.This will start the ball rolling and by golly, I'm sure it will keep on rolling and rolling along for quite a while!
Wednesday, 14 May 2008
Likewise, to my simple mind, RM7,360,000,000 is also an incomprehensible amount. How many 10-kilogram bags of rice can this buy? How many mouths can this feed? I don't know.
The biggest amount I have ever signed for a cheque was RM1 million. The money did not belong to me. I was still with Ban Hin Lee Bank in the early 1980s and was just one of a few co-signatories authorised to move money around to cover our inter-bank positions. Even when signing away millions, I was at wit's end trying to think what RM1 million could have meant to me. I failed in this simple task.
So it seems that I'm failing again with this figure of RM7,360,000,000 (the Americans call it 7.36 billion while the British calls it 7.36 thousand million). How much is this in terms of the house I live in, in terms of the car I drive around, in terms of the Penang Bridge toll that I pay daily, in terms of the amount I spend on food daily?
I don't know but I know for sure that this is an awfully big number. Big enough to make me wonder how RM7.36 billion could have been spent away in three years.
Yet this is what happened. RM7.36 billion (or RM7.36 thousand million) was the total amount given away as Wang Ehsan to the Terengganu state government and someone, somebody, some where made jolly with it within three years. Yes, they did spend his money. But who did? On what? And who benefited? Ahh...these are the questions!
Monday, 12 May 2008
One of the first persons to congratulate Ryan Giggs after the Premiership game with Wigan Athletic on 11 May 2008 was Bobby Charlton who had witnessed the younger player equal his record of 758 appearances for Manchester United from 1956 to 1973. Was that why he looked so glum? Anyway, Charlton's record had stood for 35 years, even longer than Giggs' age.
Bobby Charlton: “He’s fantastic. He’s a great athlete, a great person and a great footballer. Nobody deserves to break records like he does. Ryan’s record with Manchester United is unbelievable and I’m really proud of him.”But Giggs, he just keeps on going. Personal achievements are nothing to him. But I sure he will still be mindful of his 759th game for Manchester United which will most likely come on 21 May 2008 when the team meet Chelsea in the Champions League final in Moscow. Watch out for a cracker of a game!
Alex Ferguson: "It was fantastic for Ryan to get the goal that matters, but maybe it was fate. He deserves it. He’s been a credit to the game and, having known him for 20 years, for him to equal Bobby’s record on the day he scores the title-winning goal for us, well, it’s just fantastic.”
What is this "internationally-accepted standard" that the deputy minister is referring to? How does the government detect "hardcore poor"? How does the government define "hardcore poor" or "poverty level"? Has the definition changed since last January when I first wrote about it? Does a family earning RM541 per month no longer qualify as "hardcore poor"? Is that the "internationally-accepted standard" that he mumbled about?