Friday, 24 July 2015

24,000 records

Saw this story on the BBC website: someone in England with a collection of 24,000 vinyl records of dance music from 1983 to 1993, bought second-hand from a former music industry executive. The whole collection probably weighs close to 4.8 kilotons (or 4,800 kilogrammes). P.S. My personal collection of about 700 records definitely pales by comparison.

Monday, 20 July 2015

Ooi Eow Jin, post-concert

I'm quite happy to note that the charity concert in Petaling Jaya yesterday (19 July 2015) to benefit Penang's forgotten music maestro Ooi Eow Jin got off to a wonderful start.

Although it was a concert by budding young local musicians playing classical pieces, it was standing room all round at the MK Joyworks recital hall. Originally meant for only a maximum of 250 seated people, more than 400 jammed into the hall subsequently. I'm sure the young performers were rather overwhelmed by the occasion, not expecting or prepared to play before such a large capacity crowd.

But the people had not come simply to listen to just the classical music. They were there to show their support for Ooi Eow Jin after his plight was highlighted earlier this month in my blog story. Uncle Ooi himself attended the concert together with his wife and he was introduced to the audience.

Sportingly, he even sat down at the piano to entertain the people with a medley of songs from his vast repertoire. “It was a privilege entertaining the masses for all these years. I used to play a lot of classical music, but now I prefer to play jazz,” he said. The picture here was taken from The Malaysian Insider which had covered this concert event for the online news portal.

Before the concert began, it was announced that RM42,700 had been collected for Ooi Eow Jin but there were still a bit more that had not been added into this figure. I was told that at first, the announcement did not register with him, presumably because of the noise in the hall and he also being a bit deaf, but later in a quieter moment when he learnt of the amount collected, his face turned incredulous.
UPDATE (24 July 2015): I've just been informed that post-concert, the total collected for Ooi Eow Jin's benefit has tallied up to RM74,000. Much of the cash donations were received from fellow Old Frees as well as members of the public. Unfortunately, the host and organizer of the concert in Petaling Jaya, Lai Mei Kuen, had herself suffered a mild stroke three days earlier and this caused quite some confusion to the arrangements at Eow Jin's event. According to Jimmy Yeoh, some guests who had bought tickets earlier but had come late found last-minute walk-in people having taken away their seats. Another problem was that some people were upset that they did not receive any acknowledgement for their contributions. Jimmy said that he would work with Ms Lai to help clear up this mess as soon as possible. 
If things go according to plan, we shall see two more concerts for Ooi Eow Jin later this year in August or September. One will be in Kuala Lumpur while the other will be in his hometown, Penang, but both will feature only his music. Perhaps some performers who have sung to his songs before will agree to appear for him. There is an indication that Datuk Johari Salleh, who used to lead the Radio Television Malaysia Orchestra, may be persuaded to take part too.

On my part, I've written to the Penang Chief Minister, Lim Guan Eng, to ask whether the state government can contribute the use of the Dewan Sri Pinang as the venue of the Penang concert, no less because the Chief Minister also happens to be the chairman of the Penang Free School Board of Trustees and we know that Uncle Ooi happened to be an Old Boy of the school. However, I have yet to receive a reply from anyone in the state government. Whether or not they can accede to my request is immaterial though. It is more important that they reply so that the organisers of the Penang concert can proceed with whatever alternate plans.

But first, OEJ and his wife will be in Penang later this week - a home-coming trip - for some personal matters, one of which I understand will be a visit to his elder son's grave. Their schedule is bound to be busy but I hope for an opportunity to meet up with this old couple and learn first-hand of their plight. I have played my part to make the public more aware of this forgotten music maestro in our midst and I hope other people can continue to help them more tangibly by contributing to the proper Ooi Eow Jin Trust Fund when it is set up later.

In the meantime, contributions can still be made to the unofficial OEJ Fund as displayed below. This account is for real but I would like to remind people that once you transfer any money to this account, please take a screenshot of the transaction, or print the details, and email the image to Jimmy Yeoh to inform him. This is IMPORTANT for matching purposes, while we await the setting up of the proper OEJ Trust Fund.

Monday, 13 July 2015

Galilean moons

Now that all the excitement over the conjunction between Jupiter and Venus in our evening skies is over, my attention is drawn to Jupiter itself. This is by far the biggest planet in our solar system but because of its immense distance from us, it appears rather small in our sight. And of course, it is far dimmer than the much brighter Venus.

I did notice both Jupiter and Venus last night because it happened to be a very clear night. Venus had already drawn a considerable distance away but still, there was no mistaking them. I turned my sights on Jupiter.

Already during the conjunction, I had noticed two tiny specks of light on opposite sides of Jupiter when I cropped the picture I took with the Olympus EPL-7 camera. Two tiny specks of light which I found out later were two of the four Galilean moons that were discovered by Galileo. But I had no opportunity of determining which was which because, frankly, I did not know.

Last night, I decided to mount the camera on a sturdy tripod and turned it towards the planet with the zoom lens pulled out to its biggest magnification: 150mm on the four-thirds camera. I took various exposures with this set-up, copied the images to the computer for some digital manipulation and this happened to be the clearest image among all those taken:

I was a bit flabbergasted. Oh, wow. For the first time, I saw four smudgy light sources, the four small Galilean satellites around Jupiter, two on separate sides of the great planet. Oh, wow, again! All that, taken with this little humble camera of mine. I must say: it's really incredible, the optics.

Helping out Ooi Eow Jin

I am actually very humbled that my original story on forgotten music maestro Ooi Eow Jin had generated so much interest in the country and rally around many people who would like to see OEJ under happier circumstances.

I would like to do more for OEJ but as I do not stay in Kuala Lumpur, I have to depend a lot on my contacts there to get information on the latest developments regarding his predicament.  For this, Jimmy Yeoh - an Old Free like myself and yes, Ooi Eow Jin himself - has been the forerunner of a movement to raise funds for the old couple and their son. I thank him for all the work done so far and the work that still has to be done in the months ahead.

One of the latest messages that Jimmy sent me mentioned that two days ago, he had visited Eow Jin and his family in their present humble abode. His message reads:
"SS and all our friends on your page, I had a great meeting with EJ and his wife though his son was not able to join us as his condition is rather bad. EJ's son has two tumours in his head (one in the front and one behind the head, and it would seem that a third has recently appeared, very worrying if I may say).
"Re the need for a bank account to receive contributions, EJ's wife has asked me to be the temporary recipient of all funds until a special account for the OEJ Fund can be arranged and completed. For that, I will be asking OFA KL/Selangor members to get a lawyer member of the alumni to do the necessary to register such an account after which money collected by me and Lai Mei Kuan can be then transferred to the official OEJ Fund account." 
Ms Lai Mew Kuen is, of course, organising the first concert for Ooi Eow Jin's benefit this coming 19th of July in Petaling Jaya. The details of Jimmy's temporary account to collect money is shown below. I would like to remind people that once you transfer any fund to this account, please take a screenshot of the transaction, or print the details, and email the image to Jimmy to inform him. This is IMPORTANT, while we await the setting up of a proper OEJ Fund soon.

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Benefit concert to aid Ooi Eow Jin

Last month, Jimmy Yeoh, one of my facebook friends, wrote a long passage about a fellow Old Free, Ooi Eow Jin.

People my age may recognise this name instantly. Ooi Eow Jin is a local musician and composer. In his younger days, he was a band leader who led the Radio Television Malaysia (RTM) Orchestra for many years.

I've just found out that Eow Jin has finally retired from the local music scene. He is now 77 years old (born in 1938) at an age when most people would have taken life easy, but he had to keep working hard for a reason which I would like to share on my blog.

During his long career, Eow Jin had supported his two sons through their education until both graduated from University. Unfortunately, his second son died after a prolonged battle against leukemia despite his efforts to give his son the best treatment available. Eow Jin, himself showing signs of Alzheimer's disease, continued his career as a resident pianist at the Majestic Hotel in Kuala Lumpur until 30 June when he made his final bow.

I am told that his eldest son is now suffering from a brain tumour. Again, it was with the effort of Eow Jin that the son is still hanging on to life. Eow Jin now lives with his wife and son in a home shared with other unfortunate people.

Jimmy met with Eow Jin and another fellow Old Free, Richard Hoon, and they (Jimmy and Richard) agreed to do their best to help Eow Jin and his family to have a more comfortable life from now on. To achieve this, they proposed to organize at least three charity shows to raise money for Eow Jin. One of the shows is now coming to fruition. I received this appeal letter today with details of the first show which will be in Petaling Jaya:

I wish to call upon my friends, both Old Frees and non-Old Frees, to support this worthy programme to help this outstanding man in his difficult times. Even if you can't make it to the show, please consider donating some funds. Whatever you give, I'm sure you will receive back the blessings many times over. Thank you. The programme appears below:

Friday, 3 July 2015

Celestial wonder

Wonderful sight in the night sky during these past few days. Of course, I knew that it was the 15th day of the lunar month when the moon would be at its fullest glory, shining down brightly for all to see. But I did not expect to see the other wonder in the sky until the last day of June. By then, I had missed out on the opportunity of seeing Venus and Jupiter creeping ever slowly together for much of the month.

When I eventually saw the conjunction of the two planets, I called out to my wife to witness the occasion too. I explained to her that the brighter spot of light in the night sky was that of Venus while the fainter spot belonged to Jupiter.

"But isn't Jupiter a much bigger planet than Venus," she had commented, which was quite true. "Yes," I answered, "but Jupiter is so much more farther away. Among the planets which we can observe with the naked eye, Venus is the closest to Earth and should seem bigger than Jupiter."

"It is because of the conjunction, when both planets are lined up in the same sector of the sky, that we can compare their apparent brightness," I had added.

So there we were, facing westward outside the house, and staring in admiration at the two planets. Of course, I had to ready my camera to capture the amazing sight. Then we looked in the opposite direction and there we saw it: the rising full moon in the east. On the following night, I tried to photograph the planets again and I must say that I was more satisfied with my newer efforts. When I processed the images later, I was amazed to notice two of Jupiter's Galilean moons too, That was how bright the planet was shining.