Monday, December 29, 2008

penang #2: kampung folks in the big city

where we come from, there isn't a proper airport or railway station. neither do we have Swensen's nor TGIF.

so can you blame us when we got all excited over this...?

because i believe, inside all of us, the icecream-loving gene is dominant. so while the boy is yet to appreciate good ice-cream..

.......we chose 5 of our favourite flavours....


& to make the city-trip worthwhile, we had lunch at...

it's mostly burgers all around...

& they don't serve in small portions...

i settled for the 3-course meal.....with starter...

main course....

& dessert.....ooh, more ice cream!

a few observations made during this trip...

(1) penangites love to eat (not that you don't already know) - this restaurant was still full at 3pm!!

(2) penangites love coffee - there seemed to be a home-grown cafe at every nook & corner...

(3) clowns making balloons seemed to be a popular act for festive promotions...

one more thing, on the north-south highway the cops now place decoy cardboard pictures of themselves manning speed-trap cameras. they are located at the underpasses of km317.9 northbound & km287.2 southbound. believe me, they look real!

still, it can't be over-emphasised to drive carefully, kampung folks or otherwise.

Friday, December 26, 2008


it can be a pain to drive up to Penang during public holiday weekends but i had to do it because it's our annual ritual. traffic was heavy but flowing & the big bottle-neck was inevitable - at the penang bridge, where 10 lanes of traffic tried to squeeze into 2. kids have the least care in the world....

we did break journey though, at Ipoh where we met up over lunch with cousins who visited from UK....

1st order of business after breakfast the next day had to be .....the famous Penang Road cendol, where there's always a crowd...

for me, 1 bowl is never enough.....

can you blame me? just look at the big beans & cendol screaming,"Eat me! Eat me!"

all for just RM1.60 a bowl.

after a late afternoon hike up penang hill, it's time to check out the latest steam-boat joint at McAllister Rd...

the varieties were just mind-boggling....

with choice of clear or tomyam soup, or hotplate....

then, there's the fried kuay teow stall....

it's NOT penang without lap cheong....

& the lok lok stall...

& the ais kacang....

all for RM17.90 per pax, this looked a good deal - just see the crowd...

& this is just 2 days into penang.....burp! excuse me.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

the musical

there was a time when Sweden was famous not for her Volvos, Ikea or even Bjorn Borg, but for the musical exploits of Abba. although their Eurovision hit Waterloo passed me by without much ado, it was S.O.S, their hit of 1975 that meant something to me. i was doing my MCE exams (nowadays rebranded as SPM) & was torn between studying & getting distracted with a new-found pen-friend. it was dire straits....

fast-forward to 1999 & multiple hit songs later, their music have come to life again with the debut of Mamma Mia! the musical. i was fortunate to get complimentary tickets for the show at Istana Budaya on tuesday & i came away with this verdict - much, much better than the movie (pierce brosnan couldn't sing to save his life) & you just can't stop stomping feet with the beat.

thank you for the music, guys!!

Monday, December 22, 2008

the reason

you just know tis' the season to be

shopping malls adorn themselves with all manner of colourful & shiny trappings, as if trying to outdo each other by the size/height of their christmas trees.... bombard your senses with yuletide songs & promotions....

...and churches showcase their efforts in spreading the message of love & salvation.

the Sunday School children at my church had their simple event yesterday...

....& i was given the task of presenting a skit for the kids &
i thought the idea of Christ's birth in a modern hospital was....

.....refreshingly different.

later in the evening, the Youths had their own program...

....& from the photos my daughter took, the theme was obviously very Starwars-like....

...the battle between Good & Evil...

no matter how the message is communicated, as long as we can look beyond the glittering tree decorations, the presents & santa clauses, & remember that we are the reason He suffered & died, it would have been a story well told.

blessed christmas, one & all!!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

grey's anatomy

i had a middle-aged patient who underwent 3 surgeries without improvement. it's unfair to pronounce judgement as to whether the patient should have been subjected to the traumatic experience, based solely on hindsight which we all know to be 100% accurate.

so how do doctors make crucial decisions? consider the facts:

1) the patient had a fall which resulted in multiple blood clots on both sides of the brain;

2) doctor#1 told his family that there's severe brain injury & survival is slim, even with surgery;

3) the family sought a 2nd opinion & doc#2 concurred with doc#1;

4) it was commendable that the family undertook to consent for surgery, & subsequently 2 further procedures, but in the end, it was futile;

doctors are not God, although some may behave like one. however, we do well with our God-given knowledge & skills when we provide the available treatment options & explain each on its own merits, so that the patient and/or the family can deliberate & make an informed decision.

in medicine, results can go either way - the same treatment given to different patients can end in different outcomes. it's never an exact science (or art). there are always grey areas where the unknown & unexplained thrive.

it just occured to me that maybe, just maybe, that's why the TV series is called Grey's Anatomy. could it be that it's never about Meredith the intern-now-turned-resident but rather about the uncertainties the patients & their doctors encounter daily? that sometimes even with the top experts, high-end diagnostic tools & most advanced drugs, the patient dies while another, left on his own may miraculously survive?

i pray for wisdom & discernment as we deal with our patients' fear & concern.


"Pay attention, Job, and listen to me;
be silent, and I will speak.

If you have anything to say, answer me;
speak up, for I want you to be cleared.

But if not, then listen to me;
be silent, and I will teach you wisdom."

Job 33:31-33

Friday, December 12, 2008

change #1 : the decision

changes are generally well-received if they are for the better. but if we have to move out of our comfort zone to accomodate it, then we may confront change with mixed feelings.

not having lived with my parents since leaving home for varsity, it took some time to face reality when they decided to move out of JB, where they were born & bred, to come live with us. they have been stubbornly independent all this time & i think 2 events finally prompted them to do so:

1) my father is gradually deteriorating from parkinsonism, which has afflicted him since 2002. my mother, being the primary care-giver, is getting on in years as well, & the Lord has blessed her richly with good health & a cheerful spirit;

2) the next-door neighbour has offered to buy over the house in JB - the same one we've lived in for over 40years, which of course held abundant memories for all of us, both better & sweet.

they will move at the end of this month. it will be a change for all of us. but then, perhaps it's not so much about changes as it is about responsibility.

and filial piety.

If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. 1 Tim 5:8

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


my colleague JR & i regularly discuss current affairs over coffee or lunch, usually focussing on politics & finance. yesterday, we were again lamenting at the credit crunch/recession/bankruptcies that's gripping the world, when we realised that there's limited sound investment opportunities now.

that's when he asked : what we need now is wisdom.

but before i could reply, he continued : and wisdom is fear of the Lord.

i was down for the count, because JR is not exactly the God-fearing type although he has attended a few CG events i've invited his family to, & has a personal copy of the bible in his office.

good for you, JR, & while we're at it, can i also add this:

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well
matt 6:33

**image** Judgment of Solomon. 19th century engraving by Gustave Doré.

Monday, December 01, 2008

just another day?

8.00am : woke up

8.30am : started work. SMSs began to come in.

10.00am : reminded wife to get some ASM units launched

1.00pm : skipped lunch because work needed to be done

6.30pm : back home. wife out at pasar malam. kids watching

7.30pm : went out for dinner

9.30pm : home again.

pretty much an ordinary day, except that in between....

i get this birthday card from the kids....

which opened up to this...

(and the numbers "50" actually popped out)

my daughter used her pizza hut voucher from a school project.....

to buy dinner......

and my wife specially made a trip to Cold Storage so that we can have this for dessert...

maybe, like the beatles proclaimed, love is all you need.... change just another day into a not-so-ordinary one.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

fictitious reunion

hawaii 5-0 was a really popular cops-and-robbers TV series in the late 60s, not least because of the infectious theme music. it probably prompted my primary school classmate to write this in my autograph book :

"hawaii 5-0" here referred to a girl in the next class who demonstrated her prowess as a hula dancer, grass skirt & all, in a school talentime contest. one whom we all had a crush on. ok, actually, it's just me.

this year, all my classmates of that primary school & the secondary school after that, would be 50 years old. in my imagination, we would be having our grand reunion by the beach of waikiki, lazing beneath palm trees & sipping pina colada. so i thought of hawaii 5-0, not the tv series nor that girl, but the fictitious reunion.
so guys & gals, wherever you are, have a grand & blessed 50th birthday this year. because, tomorrow, i shall be joining your ranks. woo-hoo...!!

p/s. the last i heard, hawaii 5-0 (the girl) was working as a tour guide back in my hometown. & i did take my classmate's advice seriously - it was many, many years later before i thought of money or love. anyway, for the 1st time, i managed to embed this video from youtube, so savour it....

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

4 things you (probably) never knew your mobile phone could do.

There are a few things that can be done in times of grave emergencies. Your mobile phone can actually be a life saver or an emergency tool for survival. Check out the things that you can do with it:

(1) Emergency
The Emergency Number worldwide for Mobile is 112.If you find yourself out of the coverage area of your mobile network and there is an emergency, dial 112 and the mobile will search any existing network to establish the emergency number for you, and interestingly this number 112 can be dialed even if the keypad is locked. Try it out.

(2) Have you locked your keys in the car?
Does your car have remote keyless entry? This may come in handy someday. If you lock your keys in the car and the spare keys are at home, call someone at home on their mobile phone from your cell phone. Hold your cell phone about a foot from your car door and have the person at your home press the unlock button, holding it near his mobile phone. Your car will unlock.

Saves someone from having to drive your keys to you. Distance is no object. You could be hundreds of miles away, and if you can reach someone who has the other 'remote' for your car, you can unlock the doors (or the boot).

(3) Hidden battery power
Imagine your mobile battery is very low. To activate, press the keys *3370#. Your mobile will restart with this reserve and the instrument will show a 50% increase in battery. This reserve will get charged when you charge your mobile next time.

(4) How to disable a stolen mobile phone
To check your mobile phone's serial number, key in the following digits on your phone: * # 0 6 #, & a 15 digit code will appear on the screen. This number is unique to your handset. Write it down and keep it somewhere safe. If your phone is stolen, you can phone your service provider and give them this code. They will then be able to block your handset so even if the thief changes the SIM card, your phone will be totally useless.

You probably won't get your phone back, but at least you know that whoever stole it can't use/sell it either. If everybody does this, there would be no point in people stealing mobile

Sunday, November 23, 2008

a chip off the old block

i used to collect old bus tickets when i was a student. those days, i could get into town centre with a 10 or 15 sen ticket, & for 50 sen, i could take a bus from JB into S'pore. i did this because i had made up my young impressionable mind that i was going to be a bus conductor when i grew up. i thought it was a thrill to punch holes into the tickets & to ring the bell twice to let the driver know it was ok to drive off after passengers had alighted.

tonight, after watching madagascar 2 with the boy, i was surprised he had kept the cinema tickets from the movies we've brought him to in a tin box....

is his mind, like mine years before, considering a living as a cinema usher? after all, he enjoys movies & popcorn (especially so, i suspect, if he could see & eat for free) & has a habit of playing with torchlights.

i just wonder.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

human folly

The couple were 85 years old and had been married for sixty years. Though they were far from rich, they managed to get by because they watched their pennies.

Though not young, they were both in good health, largely due to the wife's insistence on healthy foods and exercise for the last 10 years or so. Lots of supplements, organic this and that, the whole gamut!!

One day, their good health didn't help when they went on a rare vacation and their plane crashed, and because they were both good decent folks, they went to Heaven.

They reached the pearly gates, and were escorted inside to a beautiful mansion, furnished in gold and fine silk, with a fully stocked kitchen and a waterfall in the master bath.
A maid could be seen hanging their favourite clothes in the closet. No more pasar malam stuff now, all Mucci, Bucci and Ducci.

They gasped in astonishment when a Bearded Man said, 'Welcome to Heaven. This will be your home now.'

The old man asked how much all this was going to cost. 'Why, nothing, remember, this is Heaven.'

The old man looked out the window and right there he saw a championship golf course, finer and more beautiful than any ever built on Earth.
'What are the greens fees?,' grumbled the old man.
'This is heaven, You can play for free, every day.'

Next they went to the clubhouse and saw the lavish buffet lunch, with every imaginable cuisine laid out before them, from seafood to steak, exotic desserts & free flowing beverages.

'Don't even ask. This is Heaven, it is all free for you to enjoy.'
The old man looked around and glanced nervously at his wife.
'Well, where are the low fat and low cholesterol foods and the decaffeinated tea?,' he asked.

'That's the best part, You can eat and drink as much as you like of whatever you like and you will never get fat or sick. After all, This is Heaven!'

The old man pushed, 'No gym to work out at?'
'Not unless you want to,' was the answer.
'No testing my sugar or blood pressure or...'

'Never again. All you do here is enjoy yourself.'

The old man glared at his wife and said, 'You and your silly bran flakes, vitamins, organic stuff and exercise. We could have been here ten years ago!'

so, is it possible each of us are destined for great things BUT holding us back are our own doubts & self-serving desires ? we ignore & reject that which is exceeding much better than what human minds can create or design, then lament that life is unfair.