Sunday, 29 November 2009

Many faces

Lee Chien, my cheeky nephew, will be in Primary Three next year. Now, which one of these pictures do you like best?

Saturday, 28 November 2009

So through

Wesley So, the 16-year-old wunderkind from the Philippines has made it past Gata Kamsky in the third round of the Chess World Cup in Khanty Mansiysk. He won the first game yesterday with the black pieces and today, he neutralised all of Kamsky's threats to draw the second game.

That's two big scalps in two rounds. In the second round, So had eliminated Vassily Ivanchuk and now, he sends Kamsky home. The fourth round is reduced to a 16-player field and it will be played on Monday. I'm still rooting for him.

Australian travelloque: Mt Clarence's war memorial

I had always been told that Mt Clarence in Albany was one of the places where I could get a breath-taking panoramic view of this city and harbour. I thought that was all there was to this hilltop. So, my wife and I were a little surprised when we arrived at the car park atop this little hill to see steps leading to the ANZAC Mounted Desert Corp Memorial which stands in honour of the men who fought at Galipolli during World War One. According to the tourist brochures, the memorial is a nine-metre tall bronze statue of an Australian mounted soldier assisting a New Zealand soldier whose horse had been wounded. The Aussies remember their war dead with great reverence and many towns have memorials built to cherish them. This is the one on top of Mt Clarence in Albany.

By the way, after our experience at Brisbane's Mt Coottha two years ago, nothing surprised us to learn that Mt Clarence is also a misnomer. Mt Clarence is just a forested suburb of Albany. It's highest point is not more than 200 metres above sea level and that's quite a generous estimate. I would believe that it's height is closer to 180 metres. Australia is a relatively flat piece of land and the misnamed mountains are usually just small hills. Even the highest point of the Porongurup range near Mt Barker is lower than the Penang Hill upper rail station. But yes, we did get to view the 360-degree panoramic view of Western Australia's Great Southern from this wonderful perch. I know it looks miserably small in this picture below but it's the best I can do. Clicking on it will bring up a slightly bigger picture.

Next: Albany
Previous: Perth to Albany

Friday, 27 November 2009

Chess world cup 2009

Today marks the third round of the Chess World Cup knock-out tournament in Khanty-Mansiysk, somewhere in Siberia, Russia. Ironical that while nobody ever wants to go to Siberia, only the chess players will flock there to play chess!

Anyway, there are only a handful of Asian chess players left in the dwindling field. They started with 128 players from around the world last Saturday and now there are only 32. Among the survivors are Wesley So (Philippines), Wang Yue (China), Yu Yangyi (China), Wang Hao (China) and Li Chao (China).

How many of them will get past this round? It'll be getting tougher as the rounds progress and the field gets smaller. Primary focus will be on young Wesley So (right) who eliminated Vassily Ivanchuk in the second round and will be going head-to-head next with Gata Kamsky who won the last Chess World Cup two years ago. I respect Gata Kamsky as a very experienced super-grandmaster who has played at the highest levels but as an Asian, I am rooting for Wesley So.

The other pair-ups will include Li Chao playing against Vugar Gashimov, Etienne Bacrot against Wang Yue, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov against Wang Hao, and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave against Yu Yangyi. I hope they all make it.

Tuning in Tokyo

Sorry that I'm a bit cheeky today but it's not what you imagine it to be. I stole this picture from the blogosphere. I'd swear that these men were presenting a cheque to the woman. Unfortunately, there's little to show the contrast between the cheque and the colour of the woman's clothes. So ...... I shall leave it to your little imagination to believe what you want to see.

Note: according to the Urban Dictionary, "tuning in tokyo" refers to the "tweaking or twisting the nipples of a female's breasts, particularly when done in an awkward or clumsy manner."

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Australian travellogue: Perth to Albany

1 Nov 2009. Did I mention that the drive from Perth to Albany was the most boring part of our trip? Yes? No?

Doesn't matter. Anyway, it was necessary but it was boringly boring. Considering that we had freshly arrived in Australia and were looking forward to moving around in a foreign country, this first drive - or any drive for that matter - should be looked at with a lot of anticipation without boredom setting.

But I got bored. Except for that little diversion (at the top of the map) that took my wife and I through Serpentine, the rest of the journey was a long and monotonous drive straight down the Albany Highway. Not many cars on the road and there was the wide open space around us. Where's the excitement? Therefore, I shan't be spending too much time elaborating on this part of the trip.

We passed through this little place called North Bannister at about 10.30am, stopping only for a nature's call. This building was the most visible sign for miles around us. They were probably not lying when they claimed to be a half-way house. That's how isolated it was.

At 11.15am, we arrived at Williams. We drove a bit around the small town, having heard much about the Williams Woolshed and their oldest community building, but apart from the cafeteria and the obvious tourist shops with their overblown prices, there wasn't much to impress me.

After lunch, we pressed ahead again in the south-south-easterly direction, passing through other small towns like Arthur River at about 2.20pm. Again, this convenience store in the middle of no where made it look like a one-building town along the same straight road.

Talking about roads in Australia's south-western region, it amused me to no end that a major road like this Albany Highway which used to be the lifeline connecting Perth and Albany for at least a century - maybe it still is - is only one lane in either direction. The only time you can ever think of overtaking a slow-moving vehicle is at designated stretches where the road widens into a double lane. Otherwise, it is only a single lane.

Anyway, Kojonup loomed ahead at about 4.45pm which was just about the biggest community we saw since leaving Williams. We took in a few interesting landmarks along the main road, including this Hard Work Cafe. I should have asked them whether they sold any "Hard Work Cafe" t-shirts...

But it dawned on us that the whole of the Australian countryside may perhaps have shut down because it was a Sunday. It was with some relief that we reached Mount Barker at 4.10pm because it was a really nice place with a commercial centre but except for this bakery and one of two other establishments, there wasn't any sign of people moving around.

A grim reminder than speed kills: a car impaled on a verticle post. Speed limits are strictly imposed on Australian roads. Along the highways, it can be anything between 90kph and 110 kph. As we moved into towns, the speed limit could drop to 60kph and in urbanised areas, only 50kph.

So, okay, on the second day of our trip to Australia, travelling from Perth to Albany took us about 10 hours to cover about 490km. Of course, the travel time included the many stops we made, especially the two hours at the Western Australia Buddhist Society in Serpentine. But it was a long drive. I couldn't wait sooner to take a rest.

Next: Mt Clarence's war memorial
Previous: Serpentine, Western Australia

Sunday, 22 November 2009

A simple message: Everybody's free (to wear sunscreen)

These words originally appeared in a column by Mary Schmich in The Chicago Tribune on 1 Jun 1997. In her introduction to the piece, she described it as the commencement address that she would give if she were asked to give one. Due to the marvels of communication - or miscommunication - her words were later erroneously attributed to the American novelist, Kurt Vonnegut. Vonnegut did remark later: "What she wrote was funny, wise and charming. I would have been proud had the words been mine."

Two months later, on 3 Aug 1997, Schmich wrote: "But out in the lawless swamp of cyberspace, Mr Vonnegut and I are one. Out there, where any snake can masquerade as king, both of us are the author of a graduation speech that began with the immortal words, "Wear sunscreen."

"I was alerted to my bond with Mr Vonnegut Friday morning by several callers and email correspondents who reported that the sunscreen speech was rocketing through the cyberswamp, from L.A. to New York to Scotland, in a vast email chain letter. Friends had emailed it to friends, who emailed it to more friends, all of whom were told it was the commencement address given to the graduating class at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The speaker was allegedly Kurt Vonnegut."

So here it is, Wear Sunscreen, as written originally by Mary Schmich:

Wear sunscreen.

If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen
would be it. The long-term benefits of sunscreen have been proved by scientists, whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable than my own meandering experience. I will dispense this advice now.

Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth. Oh, never mind. You will not understand the power and beauty of your youth until they've faded. But trust me, in 20 years, you'll look back at photos of yourself and recall in a way you can't grasp now how much possibility lay before you and how fabulous you really looked. You are not as fat as you imagine.

Don't worry about the future. Or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubble gum. The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind, the kind that blindside you at 4pm on some idle Tuesday.

Do one thing every day that scares you.


Don't be reckless with other people's hearts. Don't put up with people who are reckless with yours.


Don't waste your time on jealousy. Sometimes you're ahead, sometimes you're behind. The race is long and, in the end, it's only with yourself.

Remember compliments you receive. Forget the insults. If you succeed in doing this, tell me how.

Keep your old love letters. Throw away your old bank statements.


Don't feel guilty if you don't know what you want to do with your life. The most interesting people I know didn't know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives. Some of the most interesting 40-year-olds I know still don't.

Get plenty of calcium. Be kind to your knees. You'll miss them when they're gone.

Maybe you'll marry, maybe you won't. Maybe you'll have children, maybe you won't. Maybe you'll divorce at 40, maybe you'll dance the funky chicken on your 75th wedding anniversary. Whatever you do, don't congratulate yourself too much, or berate yourself either. Your choices are half chance. So are everybody else's.

Enjoy your body. Use it every way you can. Don't be afraid of it or of what other people think of it. It's the greatest instrument you'll ever own.

Dance, even if you have nowhere to do it but your living room.

Read the directions, even if you don't follow them.

Do not read beauty magazines. They will only make you feel ugly.

Get to know your parents. You never know when they'll be gone for good. Be nice to your siblings. They're your best link to your past and the people most likely to stick with you in the future.

Understand that friends come and go, but with a precious few you should hold on. Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography and lifestyle, because the older you get, the more you need the people who knew you when you were young.

Live in New York City once, but leave before it makes you hard. Live in Northern California once, but leave before it makes you soft. Travel.

Accept certain inalienable truths: Prices will rise. Politicians will philander. You, too, will get old. And when you do, you'll fantasize that when you were young, prices were reasonable, politicians were noble and children respected their elders.

Respect your elders.

Don't expect anyone else to support you. Maybe you have a trust fund. Maybe you'll have a wealthy spouse. But you never know when either one might run out.

Don't mess too much with your hair or by the time you're 40 it will look 85.

Be careful whose advice you buy, but be patient with those who supply it. Advice is a form of nostalgia. Dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts and recycling it for more than it's worth.

But trust me on the sunscreen.

Australian film director Baz Luhrmann was also inspired enough by these words. Together with Quindon Tarver to do the vocals, they cut a song set to techno beat which ultimately became a big hit in 1999. Let's spread the words to the next generation who may not want or think they need advice from "ols farts, what do they know".

Friday, 20 November 2009

Bob Geldof speaks out to youths

In my opinion, the most impressive speaker at the Youth Engagement Summit 2009 (YES2009) at the Putrajaya International Convention Centre earlier this week was Sir Bob Geldof.

At the very start of his talk, he made a caustic remark that 29 years ago, the Malaysian government of the day refused to let him perform in Kuala Lumpur. So he performed everywhere else in the region, including Singapore, except here. Congratulations. So now, we know that he is in the same good company as present-day artistes like Avril Lavigne, Beyonce et al. They never got to perform here either.

Then, he began relating the struggles and difficulties of his growing childhood, how he came to form the Boomtown Rats, his realisation that there was famine in Africa - "A continent just eight miles south of Europe" - how he galvanised action that culminated with the LiveAid and Live8 concerts, and then he went straight to the jugular with his critical view on change and how the youth of today are the leaders of change.

Here are choice quotes from his hard-hitting talk on change, as reported from the plenary hall via Twitter by The Star's R.AGE team. What else would you expect from Bob Geldof? He wasn't invited here to praise Caesar. To him, I'd say: I salute you for your frankness!
  • The language of possibilities, the language of change is in Rock & Roll.
  • Young people should always question, demand answers. Demand leadership and if the leadership is not coming, they must lead themselves.
  • Everyone has the exact same potential, if they are given the exact same opportunity.
  • If we are to change the condition of the poor, we must deal with one empirical problem. The problem is called poverty, and it can be resolved. It can be eliminated, we have seen it happen. China as an example.
  • We live in a world of growing inequality. It is the signature feature of our time.
  • Man does not act in self-interest, man acts on the needs of the moment.
  • Normal thinking got us where we are today. We need radical voices to get us out. And we can get out.
  • You can do anything you want. If you want change, you must be the change. (a paraphrasing of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi)
  • All progress depends on unreasonable people.
  • The reason why governments say that youths are too young and immature, is because they are afraid of them.

Excuse me, claim overtime, can or not?

Here's an absurd thought (or maybe, it's not so absurd): can they use "overtime work" excuse to circumvent this ruling?

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Garry Kasparov speaks out to youths

Choice words from Garry Kasparov at the Youth Engagement Summit 2009 held at the Putrajaya International Convention Centre on 17 Nov 2009, as reported from the plenary hall via Twitter by The Star's R.AGE team.

I just want to add that these quotes come from Kasparov's own chess and political experience. But yesterday, his audience of about 1,000 youths and an unknown number of "non-youths" heard him in a completely different perspective.
  • At the end of the day, no matter what you do, your nature shows up.
  • I'm always looking for changes. I married three times.
  • The key of success is to be objective about your strength and your weaknesses. And that of your enemies.
  • Courage is often the ingredient forgotten when making decision.
  • Always ask why.
  • Once you understand your strategy, deploying it is only a matter of desire.
  • Doing well today is not enough for doing well tomorrow.
  • There will always be newcomers to attack you from the bottom.
  • To survive, you must evolve.
  • I'm not a religious man, but if I have faith, it would be in innovation.

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Narain Karthikeyan

This is just a speculation but is this potentially the driver for the Malaysian F1 team that will make its debut next March? Narain Karthikeyan, 22, was at the Putrajaya International Convention Centre earlier this week and coincidentally, so was boss Tony Fernandes. As we all know that Fernandes is now closely associated with the Malaysian F1 team, is there any further connection? Speculation, speculation....

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Garry Kasparov in Malaysia

I was feeling rather elated and estatic this morning that I managed to have a picture taken with former world chess champion Garry Kasparov at the Putrajaya International Convention Centre. No, not the picture on the right. That's not like the real thing, is it? No no no ... that was taken of me beneath a larger-than-life poster in the plenary hall of the convention centre, just before he came waltzing into the hall unannounced with his wife before the event started. No, I mean THIS one below:

For a man who is so widely travelled, it is remarkable that this brief two-day visit to Malaysia marked his first to the South-East Asian region. That's what the man told me himself.

Anyway, I was doubly happy because I also managed to get his autograph. He looked a bit surprised when I brought out my copy of his book, How Life Imitates Chess. Maybe he didn't expect anyone to have a copy of it here.

Sunday, 15 November 2009

Flush the blush away

Well, in my opinion, if the fact has to be said, then it must be said....

This was from an email that I received from a colleague last Friday. It's so unfortunate that in this time and age, there are people who still cannot practise good hygiene. It's even more unfortunate that they don't care about the people who have to clear up the mess behind them.

Saturday, 14 November 2009


Today's the first day since the return from my holidays that I had a chance to listen to my music through the newly acquired Wharfedale speakers. But even then, it's only for about half an hour before I leave for the Penang indoor station in Bayan Baru where there's a career fair going on for this weekend.

I decided to give Caravanserai a spin both on the CD player and the turntable. I still kind of like the warmer sound from the record better, despite all the remaining little occasional pops and crackles after I had cleaned it up....

Side 1: Eternal Caravan Of Reincarnation, Waves Within, Look Up (To See What's Coming Down), Just In Time To See The Sun, Song Of The Wind, All The Love Of The Universe
Side 2: Future Primitive, Stone Flower, La Fuente Del Ritmo, Every Step Of The Way

Neal Schon was on this album. I do have his music on compact disc somewhere in the house. I'll probably look it up later...

Australian travellogue: Serpentine

Despite the adrenalin rush of being on holiday in a new country, the most boring part of our visit to Western Australia was the unavoidable long, long drive from Perth to Albany. As much as I had tried to anticipate this personally, I was still not prepared for the boredom that came from driving endlessly on a straight, narrow road with nothing much to see on both sides. My wife took it worse because I did not prime her for it at all. I though that I could surprise her simply with the excitement of being in Australia itself but I was mistaken. I could sense some concern in her as we set off on the drive. Yes, we did stop several times to take a rest and walk about and explore a bit but basically, nothing to excite us yet.

But first things first. At the outskirts of Perth, we made a detour to Serpentine (population, 2006 census: 1,856) to fulfil a casual remark we made to Ajahn Brahmavamso last year to visit the Buddhist Society of Western Australia if ever we set foot in this part of the country. It took us about 90 minutes to locate the entrance to this monastery, arriving there at almost eight o'clock in the morning. Maybe it was still too early in the morning because except for a man working in the gardens, not another soul stirred.

We didn't manage to meet the widely travelling Ajahn Brahm because he was away in Thailand. However, we did meet Ajahn Brahmali who suggested that we make our way to the Jhana Grove Retreat Centre further up Kingsbury Drive where he would be conducting a debriefing of devotees (I think they were all from overseas, Malaysia and Singapore, mainly) on the final day of a nine-day Buddhist retreat session. So there we went and Saw See made her dana presentation of robes to Ajahn Brahmali in full view of these people from around the region. Great!

Unfortunately, we couldn't stay long at the retreat centre and we went back to the BSWA to look around. I kinda liked the main hall. Wall-to-wall carpeting too. Back home, it would be all tiles. By the time we left, our visitors were starting to turn up.

We noticed this sign at the entrance to the Jhana Grove. It has all the hallmarks of a Ajahn Brahm wit written all over it. Trespassers will be converted? That's typically him, all right!

Next: Perth to Albany
Previous: Perth Pride Parade

Friday, 13 November 2009

Garry Kasparov and the YES2009 summit

There's going to be a Youth Engagement Summit 2009 (YES2009) this Monday and Tuesday at the Putrajaya International Convention Centre and it will feature some very interesting and influential speakers from around the world.

I'm a bit excited about YES2009 because I've just got myself a ticket to attend this two-day event which will bring together about 500 youth from the South-East Asian region. Okay, so I do no longer qualify as a "Youth" but what the heck, you are as young as you think. If you believe you are young, then you are, and by golly, for this Summit, I sure believe that I am!

I'm excited because I'll get to listen to speakers such as Biz Stone who is the co-founder of, Bollywood icon Amitabh Bachchan, LiveAID organiser Bob Geldof of the Boomtown Rats, AirAsia CEO Tony Fernandes and - I'm obviously savouring this - former world chess champion Garry Kasparov.

YES...Garry Kasparov is coming to town but it's not for chess. He'll be an invited speaker at YES2009 on the second day of the programme and he'll be talking about Strategic Thinking. Always, it's a subject that's right up his alley because strategic thinking had got him to where he is today: a successful and instantly recognisable icon even outside the chess world.

I wrote about Kasparov only two weeks ago when I reviewed his book, How Life Imitates Chess in The Star and now, he'll be here in Malaysia among us next week. The only damper is that his chess fans in the country will not get to meet him. Anyway, you can read this review here.

Australian travelloque: Perth pride parade

The problem with visiting Australia (and many other countries) is that the shops and businesses close so early. When we arrived in Perth, it was almost five o'clock and by the time we had passed through Immigration, collected the car and drove to the hotel, it was after six o'clock. Shops were already closed and to make matters worse, it was getting dark mighty quickly.

After checking into the hotel, we thought it best to have our dinner in the hotel's restaurant. We wanted to retire early for the night as we had planned to have a long day ahead of us and needed to set off early. But halfway through dinner, my wife agreed to my wacky idea of taking a drive into the city just for the fun of it.

So off we went in the direction of the Central Business District at about 8.30pm and as expected, the buildings were mostly in darkness. Our first thought was, oh boy, there's really no life in the CBD at night. No shopping malls to visit at night. But then oddly enough, there were road diversions and we found ourselves driving up and down unknown streets. Then, in the distance, I saw a parade just about to start off. Let's park and see what's it's all about, I told her.

Great, I thought, people were all dressed up. There was even a guy dressed up as the Tin Man from the Wizard of Oz (where else?). Considering that it was 31 Oct, we guessed it was a Halloween parade that we had stumbled upon.

So we walked along the road, gawking at the people around us. But soon enough, it dawned on us that we were watching not a Halloween parade but the Perth Pride Parade. Mana eh chai, we were suddenly in the midst of Perth's annual parade of gays and lesbians, now in its 20th year.

Did I say Great earlier? Let me say it again: GREAT! What a great opener to our holidays! I've always wanted to watch one and here I am, in the midst of one. Wahlau, eh!

The only problem was, the night was unbearably cold for the two of us. So we had to give up watching more of the parade and drive back to the hotel. Now, at that temperature - it must have been around 16 to 18 Celsius - how on earth can these people endure wearing next to nothing??

Oh yes, this was the highlight of the night. To me, anyway. A man dressed in drag. Maybe a participant for the Best Drag contest. I hope he did win the first prize of A$500.

But maybe I should also add that the pride parade was not only about gay groups. There were other organisations such as PAWS, a group of volunteer foster carers who help lost or abandoned animals. There were also the parents of gays who came out openly to support their children. For example, this man holding a poster. You can't read everything that's written there but it said "closets are for clothes not people." How true...

Next: Serpentine, Western Australia
Previous Doing the south-western loop

Thursday, 12 November 2009

Australian travelloque: Doing the South Western loop

A total of 1685 kilometres travelled in eight days.

You see, when my wife and I decided in July to go for a holiday in Australia, we thought it would be a mighty good idea to take a self-drive tour of Perth and the south-west. We didn't want to feel the constraints of joining a guided tour; we wanted to experience the freedom of choosing our own itinerary and visiting places at our own pace. So the 8D7N package suited us well. Moreover, we got a pretty good deal travelling on Malaysia Airlines as we had booked the flight tickets early.

We touched down at the Perth International Airport at about 4.50pm on 31 Oct, the flight having been delayed by about 20 minutes or so at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport. Anyway, it took us about an hour to clear Australian immigration and we were soon on our way to our hotel after collecting the car from the rental company. A very compact 1.8-litre beast, the Nissan Tiida, with a 1-CYM-559 registration plate. One of my friends would have liked this!

We set forth from Perth on Day Two and our itinerary took us in a south-eastern direction through Serpentine, Williams, Arthur River and Mt Barker before we arrived at Albany.

Day Three, we travelled westwards through Denmark to Walpole and on the fourth day, we pushed north-west to Pemberton but not before detouring to Northcliff and the Windy Harbour. The fifth day saw us drive further north-westerly through Nannup to Busselton which was our base for exploring Cowaramup, Margaret River and Augusta on the sixth day.

On the seventh day, we drove northwards back to Perth and passed by Bunbury, Australind, Rockingham and Fremantle. The map above is not totally accurate but it gives a pretty good idea of our little adventure through Western Australia's south-western region.

Next: Perth Pride Parade

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Mayang Mall update

I would have liked to thank the authorities for listening, but the improvements to the toilets are only superficial at best!

There should be more that the Penang Development Corporation and their subsidiary companies can do regarding the supervision of their buildings, but this is definitely a start.

...and by the way, if it's not too much, can we soon be having hot running water too? No? Okay, never mind... :-)

(Note: below was the entry that caught my eye on Facebook today)

Goings-on at Bukit Mertajam Hill nice it is to go up the Bukit Mertajam Hill again at Ceruk Tokun. This late afternoon trek was also a nice welcome back to reality after a week's absence from the country. Didn't even bother to check my emails or other blogs and websites except to do an online check-in at the Malaysian Airlines website for my return tickets. But more of that later, I hope! However, I had been twittering away from my mobile phone, and reaching a particular high 30,000 feet above sea level somewhere off the coastline of Western Australia.

Anyway, back to the BM Hill. The first observation that struck my wife and I was that the upgrade to the forest park was in full swing. The entrance to the park was in the process of being widened. No photos of that, however.

Further in after I had parked the car, work had also started to improve the banks and retainer walls around the lower section of the stream.

A short distance further up, three boys were enjoying a dip in the water. Such carefree days that can only be enjoyed by them. I'm sure it'll be a cherished memory Long after they grow up and move away from here.

Other than that, it was an uneventful walk up the hill track and down the tarred road. No, we didn't go up to the half-way tea house as the sky turned threatening. As we walked down, the rain came.

But there was high drama elsewhere on the hill. As we arrived back at the foot of the hill to collect the car, an ambulance turned up. Apparently, it seemed that there had been a distress call from somewhere up the hill. As far as I could learn, someone in his early fifties had suffered a stroke, heart attack or died. His companion up the hill had called for help and the ambulance was despatched.

However, the ambulance's driver had second thoughts of going up the tarred road and stopped to enquire about the road's safety. For heaven's sake, I told him, even big lorries have found it safe to drive up to the very top. Someone's life is in danger and you are dithering about driving uphill on a tarred road? Other people around the ambulance were also urging the driver to go up, and it eventually did but very slowly.

A few minutes later, another ululating ambulance whizzed by without stopping and proceeded round the bend to go up the hill too. This second ambulance had the urgency, unlike the first one.

We left soon afterwards because it became apparent that the ambulances wouldn't be stopping again on their way down to tell us what had actually happened especially if they were ferrying a victim to the hospital.

Saturday, 7 November 2009

No more the clown

I was listening to pint-sized Gerard Hugh Sayer last week. In the 1970s, he scored a number of hits on both sides of the Atlantic and of course, here too. Of his two albums that I have, The Show Must Go On and Endless Flight, I preferred the latter. I think you'll recognise his chart-busting hits from these two albums:

Side 1: Hold On To My Love, You Make Me Feel Like Dancing, Reflections, When I Need You, No Business Like Love Business
Side 2: I Hear The Laughter, Magdalena, How Much Love, I Think We Fell In Love Too Fast, Endless Flight

Side 1: The Show Must Go On, Bells Of St Mary's, Only Dreaming, Silverbird, On The Old Dirt Road, Moonlighting
Side 2: Giving It All Away, Bedsitterland, Another Year, Oh Wot A Life, One Man Band, Why Is Everybody Going Home?

Friday, 6 November 2009

Need any third-party help?

Don't! You don't have to feel inadequate anymore. You can now fight back with the multitudes of creamy products that claim to do wonders for your pride. If one cream doesn't work, just try the next one! I'm not talking about what's on top of your head. I'm talking about ... what's down there between your legs. Yes, your willy!

I don't know why but lately, I've been seeing a lot of products being hocked everywhere that claim rejuvenation for men's over-worked penis. Remember the other day when I saw a poster promoting Mann Cream? Well, today, I followed a friend to a pharmacy in Bayan Baru and my eyes strayed to this Sure-Up Stay Active Cream. It was right there on the shelves.

Unlike the dubious sounding Mann Cream with its prominent display of bananas, Sure-Up even has a web presence. Heck, that makes it look very legitimate, doesn't it? But boy, did I have a good laugh over it. For example, do you know that the man's penis:
"....consist 6000 veins. With age, food, lifestyle and repeated use of the penis, most blood veins in the men’s penis becomes clog and ultimately less blood flows through which causes weak erection."
My jaw dropped when I saw the next box: a product called Virile, touted to be an "amazing penis enlargement cream". Not only does the cream claim to treat premature ejaculation, increase penis girth and provide "enormous erection and lasting pleasure", it also has a "good aroma" (important, don't you think so, to smell good?) and helps to "nourish penis skin and remove build up dirt on the foreskin" so that your equipment is left feeling "fresh and invigorated". Maybe feeling dandy and randy too? Gosh, is there no end to surprises from this pharmacy?

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Rev Robert Sparke Hutchings

I was writing two weeks ago about the founding of the Penang Free School by the Reverend Robert Sparke Hutchings (b. 1782; d. 1827). Hutchings was one of the early pioneers in Penang. Not only was he credited with the inspiration to build the St George's Anglican Church that stands at the corner of Farquhar Street and Pitt Street, he contributed significantly to Penang's development from an educational perspective.

The Penang Free School is his most lasting legacy. There's also Hutchings Primary School which bears his name and located right behind the Penang State Museum which used to be one of the early premises of the Penang Free School until it relocated permanently to Green Lane in 1928.

It is unfortunate that Hutchings' background is lost in the mists of time. Only his final resting place at the old Protestant Cemetery in Northam Road reminds us of him. I don't know whether the Penang Free School still maintains this tradition but in the past, on Founder's Day (the 21st of October), the school prefects would gather at his graveside in the morning to drink a toast to him. In 1966, on the sesqui-centenary anniversary of the school, a plaque was erected to remember him as the Founder of the Penang Free School.

Rev RS Hutchings' final resting place in the Protestant Christian Cemetery in Northam Road, George Town

According to some genealogy records on the Internet, Hutchings married Elvira Phipps in 1818 and had three children: Sarah Hutchings, Robert Sparke Hutchings and Elvira Hutchings, all born in Penang. The younger Robert Hutchings, also a member of the clergy, was named Vicar of several churches in England.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Cum treatment

Normally when you are at the doctor's, you won't be spending time looking around because you are already feeling beastly. Well, I was at the clinic recently, having taken my son there for a consultation. And as I was feeling normal for a change, I could give the place a once-over tour myself. The door to the doctor's office caught my eye.

Now I know for sure that this is the place to cum ... excuse me, I mean, come ... for treatment if your pecker's feeling down and not quite up to it.