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Monday, March 29, 2010

Earth Hour - I didn't participate (techinically)


Last Saturday was Earth Hour but I don't know if I consider myself participating to this event. Dear hubby and I had an appointment with a friend an hours drive away. So between 8.30-9.30 we were actually on the road. For security reasons, some lights were left on. But we used energy saving light bulbs (^_^)

There wasn't much of a difference to those who stayed in rural areas. Most of them carried on with their lives as if Earth Hour does not exist. Of the many houses near where I stayed, only one family actively participated.

Businesses in the town were running as usual and some late night eateries still at their best trying to out bright their competitors with spot lights and neon signs. Whether there was any participation from any local business is uncertain. But one thing I'm sure is the sky is still bright even though it was already 12am!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Love me when I'm alive, not when cremated

Image sourced from Hubby Dan

Recently a very close friend of mine broke a "sad" news - her paternal grandmother passed away. I used the word sad with quotes because knowing her for so many years, it's nothing to be sad of. In fact, she was happy her grandmother died and now enjoying a great show of her uncles and aunts fighting over a small plot of land left behind by the old lady.

My friend is a victim of cultural extremism - loving only boys and loathing girls. The reason why she was despised by her paternal grandmother was purely because my friends mother gave birth to 2 girls - no boys. In old fashion families, sons are valued more than gold, diamonds or even petroleum! Unable to carry down the family name, the mother and her two daughters (including my friend) were constantly bullied. It was easy for me to advice her to make a police report, but it was difficult for her to act on because the culprits are her fathers siblings and mother.

She told me that her paternal grandfather once said that if her grandma dies, what's left of the property should be divided equally among children who are still staying there. That's why her aunts did not shift out of the wooden home which was originally designed to fit a family of 5. I advised her to move out because even her own paternal grandmother dislikes her, I doubt she would want her father to obtain a portion of the property. Furthermore, there is no value in the wooden house BUT the land where it sits on have a good market price. For such inheritance, it's not worth the fight.

Two years ago, she finally bought her own apartment unit. A small unit but at least it's comfortable enough for 4 people. So when her grandmother died, she was forced to cancel all good events - weddings, birthdays and parties because old folks believe when there is a death, there must be a 100 days mourning period before any good events can occur. But I don't believe such things so I sent her my wedding invitation.

She was surprised that despite knowing her grandmother passed away, I still invited her. She asked me if I don't mind even though there was a death of a relative? I replied her email in a simple sentence.
Treasure your loved ones only when they are alive, not when they are cremated.
My wedding is once in a lifetime (ironically so is death),
But I rather have you come laugh at my wedding than cry on my coffin when I can't see a thing!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Sales gimmick for the greedy

Sometime two weeks ago, there was a new company set up in one of the newly completed shop lots.
At the sight of the sign board, it's obviously another company selling health supplements. On their opening day, the entire housing area was jammed pack with peoples and cars! It's a good thing dear hubby and I overslept till late noon - totally avoided the crowd. Later I got word from my mother-in-law that they were giving out free packets of brown rice on that day. A typical gimmick to bait potential customers. In the coming weeks I was told they will continue giving out free gifts on condition you listen to their health seminar. Those who want freebies have to queue up at their store front and they have their seminar time tables listed at their doorstep for those who are interested.

So every morning (for the past two weeks, except on weekends) people will queue outside the store creating this huge crow, thus slowing down traffic to a snail's pace for those curious busy bodies who were eager to know what's going on inside. What goes on in there, I don't know. My MIL didn't want to listen to such things because she knows there's nothing special about this particular company compared to the hundreds of other similar companies selling health supplements.

Anyway, I may be Curious George at times but not greedy. So instead of queuing up like the rest of those housewives and house-husbands, I Googled the company and TA-DA! A dot com selling health supplements. From royal jelly to Spirulina and other what-nots. Since it's available on their site, I've made a little price list of some of their products for you to gawk

Royal Jelly 1 set of six bottles (6 X 60 grams) RM 1620.00 (approx. USD497)
Plant Enzyme 1 bottle (175 g) RM 883.00 (approx. USD266)
Bee Pollen 1 bottle (300 tablets) RM 420.00 (approx. USD126)
Bio Grain (a.k.a mixed grains beverage) 1 bottle (500g) RM 235.00 (approx. USD80)
Longan Nectar (honey) 1 kg RM 98.00 (approx. USD30)
Spirulina tablets 1 set 3 bottles (3* 400's ) RM 796.00 (approx USD240)

Now I don't care if this is their so called "non-member's" price or not - one thing for sure, its blood sucking expensive. Business wise it's definitely profiteering because you literally cut out the middle men. The headquarters imports the products and distributes to their branches - the middle men (in this case the retail stores) are left out giving these companies a bigger slice of the cake. I have friends who worked with similar places previously and the staffs price for most supplements is only 25% of the published rates. That leaves a whooping 75% of profit between the company and the sales agents! So for every 100 dollars spent, only 25 dollars goes to the product while the rest is nothing more but profits. No wonder these companies are mushrooming all over the country, and even rural areas are not spared...
  

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Hershey’s Better Basket Blog Hop

I'm not a mother YET, so it's very hard for me to understand what mothers went through. Both my hubby Dan and I were born two weeks premature so our moms knew the horrors of leaving their little ones getting artificial sun tan in clear casings with surgical tapes to our eyes. Mom said during her pregnancy she only prayed for one thing - a healthy child. She abide to every known fact AND superstition even though some of the superstition may sound absurd to her.

But not all child is born healthy. For many (like myself and hubby Dan), we can go home within days or weeks. While others have to say much longer. This Easter Hershey Company will donate $10(up to total of $5,000) to each blog post to Children Miracle Network, a non-profit alliance of children’s hospitals dedicated to providing state-of-the-art care, life-saving research and preventative education across North America. So this blog post is my contribution to help the little ones get their day a wee bit better. This donation drive officially begin at 12 AM EST on March 18th and end at 12 PM EST on April 4th, 2010. I got my Easter basket from my dear friend Rosidah of Indonesia who got hers from Susan of Ireland. And now I pass this basket to you, my reader.

HERSHEY’S BETTER BASKET BLOG HOP RULES
  •  Copy and paste these rules to your blog post.
  • Create a blog post giving a virtual Easter Basket to another blogger – you can give as many Virtual Baskets as you want.
  • Link back to person who gave you an Easter Basket.
  • Let each person you are giving a Virtual Easter Basket know you have given them a Basket.
  • Leave your link at http://betterbasket.info/bloghop/ comment section. You can also find the official rules of this #betterbasket blog hop, and more information about Better Basket with Hershey’s there.
  • Hershey’s is donating $10 per each blog participating to the Better Basket Blog Hop to Children’s Miracle Network (up to total of $5,000 by blog posts written by April 4th, 2010).
  • Please note that only one blog post by each blog url will count towards the donation.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

If Chemistry is THIS FUN!

Chemistry is a very interesting subject. But in school, it was a burden because the teacher was boring and the text book was equally dull. At times my classmates and I wondered which is "duller" - the teacher or the book!

Anyway, I saw someone posted this on Facebook and thought I should share this clip with everyone. This is surely an innovative way to teach children!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

What-doku?


Things that are uncommon or unusual very often becomes the "appetizer" in any conversation. But what is common to you maybe uncommon to others.

In November year my hubby bought me a book of sudoku puzzle. 1250 puzzles in a book the size of Oxford Dictionary. It's been following me where ever I go - the office, at the workshop (a.k.a the car hospital) where dear hubby goes regularly to visit his beloved track car and sometimes at home. What surprises me most is not many people know about sudoku. In the past 6 months or so, out of all those who asked about this book, only two people knew the name of the game. Now let's take the assumption that those who never asked are neutral - half know and half don't. But those who DID ASK about that thick mammoth book either they never read the news papers or are illiterate!

Most of them who asked thought I was studying mathematics - just because they saw me filling those blanks with numbers.Only two out of the many people who asked knew the game and how to play it. The most intriguing part isn't about these two who also knew this game is available daily in all major newspapers but those who didn't know sudoku. The most hilarious question was this particular guy - about 30 plus years old asking me for today's special number. I was baffled there a moment pondering what on Earth sudoku has to do with lottery? Then it struck me in the head! Hard core lottery players each have their own funny way of predicting the jackpot numbers and that particular guy thought my sudoku book was MY method of calculating my lottery number!Good HEAVENS!

I'm neither a gambler nor do I buy lottery because I find it a waste of money. But on the other hand, how can I blame this guy for thinking I was calculating daily lottery numbers when my skin color is notorious for gambling....

Monday, March 15, 2010

Paid to sleep or sleeping on the job?

When one works for long hours, one tends to opt for 40 winks during break time. Even I would sometimes take a short nap in the office. But how do you take a nap when you work in an F&B outlet and there is no proper rest room or staff room? Do you just flop on the table like a dead fish for the world to see?

I have no objection to these girls taking a nap – IF it is their break time, of course. But shouldn’t they at least wear a jacket or some sort to cover up their uniforms? Wearing a jacket over your uniform is a sign that one is off duty or having a break. But when you are NOT covering your uniform, it shows that you are STILL on the job. It makes me wonder what kind of work culture they have at this particular workplace especially when they are seen in their uniform slopped on the table like an over exhausted walrus! No offense, but when a company’s image is on the line, this is just bad.

But if you think this is bad, I’ve actually seen worse. At another fast food joint, I saw with my own eyes a staff washing her hands from the drink dispenser machine! Imagine how shocked this girl was when I was staring at her from a distance and a camera in my hand! Well, fortunately for her I left the lens cap on so the only picture I took was a blacken image. I guess when one has no sense of pride in one’s work; they’ll definitely do weird stuffs to their whim and fancies…

Friday, March 12, 2010

Knit, Knat, Knot

When a good friend of mine got into a long distance relationship, it was like dooms day for her. Just the thought of being alone on one island while the other is on another island 4,449km away, was torturing. The only escape was to keep her mind busy especially at nights and during weekends. The solution? Knitting. Once she started knitting, she couldn't stop. On weekend nights she could sometimes knit till dawn. Motivated? I sure was.

Before Youtube era, the only tutorial you get is either from the shops who sells knitting stuffs, knitting starter packs or 2D pencil drawings on websites. Now that you can search Knitting for Beginners on YouTube, and get about 273 videos. So here I have linked videos for 4 most basic steps - casting on, knit, purl and casting off.

Casting on - all knitting begins when you cast yarn onto your knitting sticks.

Knit - The basics of basics

Purl - the reverse action of knitting.

Casting off - finish your knitting by knitting the yarn off the stick.

Knitting patterns are made of knits and purls. When you knit from start to end, you'll get garter stitch which looks something like this.

If you alternate one row knit and another row of purl, you'll get stockinette stitches like this

My friend made a scarf for her boyfriend, but it's so hot in Malaysia I doubt hubby will ever need one. So I'll be a bit more practical and knit a BAG. When completed I'll sure upload on my blog. (^_^)
 

Monday, March 8, 2010

Recipe: Prawn noodles

Prawn noodles or known as Hokkien noodles by Penangites is a popular dish easily prepared. The only obstacle is the soup which popular stalls will spend many hours to boil. However, there are some short cuts to obtain a good soup without leaving the pot on the stove overnight. I have attempted to cook this dish once for my family and a few friends to enjoy so I'll share this recipe for all.

Ingredients
  • Noodles - preferably rice noodles
  • Water (I made the assumption that I need 250ml per serving, but don't worry if you have too much water because when you boil for long periods the water will evaporate a little) 
  • Prawns - (don't throw the head away, you'll need it.)
  • Pork slices (no-fat) or chicken shreds (pre-cooked)
  • Hard boiled egg sliced like the one in the picture
  • Water Spinach or Kangkong (Ipomoea aquatica) (optional - Mung bean sprout)
  • Onions (use pre-fried onions in oil if you're press for time)
  • Salt to taste
  • Anchovies (ikan bilis) stock (cube or loose powder is fine) (your short cut to reduce boiling time)
  • Oil for frying the onions and prawn heads (palm oil is fine, but try avoid vegetable oil it doesn't go well with frying sea food)
  • Dried chili powder (optional)
Method
  • Boil the water in a pot.
  • Pour the oil on a skillet and fry the onions until brown, remove the onions and reuse the oil to fry the prawn flesh and head to bring out the aroma. Remove the cooked prawn flesh (leave the head). Turn off the fire and let it cool a little before putting the prawn and oil into the water pot. If it's too hot the hot oil will splash out of the boiling pot of water (remember water and oil don't mix) and you might get injured. So be careful. 
  • The original recipe requires one to boil for a few hours to bring out the aroma. As a short cut, add anchovies stock into the soup so you can reduce your boiling time to about an hour. If you are in for spicy soup, add the dried chili powder now.
  • While you boil the soup, you can start cooking the other ingredients by blanching (in slightly salted water) the noodles, water spinach and chicken or pork meat individually.
  • Put the noodles, water spinach, meat, prawn and egg in individual bowls. Only pour in the soup when you are about to serve.
  • Garnish with fried onions before serving
  • Bon Appetite!

    Saturday, March 6, 2010

    Abortions - an impromptu lesson at school

    For many years now the government has been debating about allowing sex education to be thought it school. Many countries has done it but the number of pre-marital sex has not decrease. To add salt into injury, children born out of wedlock, child abandonment and abortion cases seems to be on the rise.

    The biggest concern are the teachers as most of them would feel embarrassed. Only a hand full of brave teachers who would magically hide their blushing faces and attack the subject head on.Of my experience in 4 secondary schools in a span of 7 years (yes we travel allot), I only saw 3 of such teachers.

    The most memorable teacher is my biology teacher for Form 4 and 5 (forth and fifth year in secondary school). I can't remember which year was it, but it was one lesson that even the boys had their eyes virtually gorged out because we never saw such anger in her before. That very morning, she walked into class with a papaya in hand. Her face was obviously furious as though she wanted to throw the papaya at us. But since there was no test or exams prior to this lesson, I knew (at least) it wasn't my fault or my classmates. She took out a knife from the preparation room and sliced the papaya horizontally like the image below.


    Curious, we edged closer to her to find out what she plans to show us. "Now listen" she said. "Imagine this papaya is a woman's womb. And the seeds represents the placenta and embryo." She then took a spatula and started to scrape the seeds out while describing how doctors perform abortion. She later end the subject by reminding us girls that if we do not want to endure such unnecessary pain, it's best we keep our legs closed.

    Stunted, baffled, shock and speechless. That was the only respond we could provide her after her 15 minutes presentation. Back then we weren't so hooked to the Internet so we didn't know that THIS procedure was actually an ancient practice performed by doctors during our great-grandmother's era. In modern times they have other alternatives to keep the injury to a minimum, like medicines to induce the woman to menstruate.

    After class I approach the teacher to ask why the sudden topic of  abortion. According to her one of her students from another class got pregnant and is now in a limbo. For religious reasons she cannot abort the child yet she is unprepared to be a mother. A mistake committed by two people but only one suffers. The only reason why my teacher had to go through this abortion subject with all the students is because she does not want to see another similar problem repeating and end up creating some unhealthy trend.

    But that was something that happened almost 10 years ago. Today I still read similar stories in the papers and it doesn't seem to end. With or without such subject being thought in school, it still happens. The only solution I see is how parents bring up their children....

    Thursday, March 4, 2010

    I was ALMOST on TV

    Two days ago, news of local Member of Parliament Tan Tee Beng has quit People's Justice Party or Parti Keadilan Rakyat to become an Independent MP. A local TV station sent out it's reporters to interview some local folks regarding this issue - which turned out to be quite amusing... at least for me, it was.

    Three young chap approached the local folks asking some basic questions. Once their random candidate fit their target group, the camera boy(partially hidden) began rolling and the microphone boy(in green striped T-shirt) began asking question. The third chap(with backpack) was holding a handy cam trying the fit the camera boy, mic boy and the interviewee into his little camcorder; for internal use I guess. All three of them looked like interns.

    The open air eatery is usually a hangout for elders especially after lunch hours. We were coincidentally there because it was a rest day for our regular lunch place. Anyway, the trio approached us and mic boy asked if we knew about the local MP quitting PKR to be an independent MP. I said I knew about it from online news portal while my hubby pretend to be ignorant (he's camera shy) and said he knew nothing. The mic boy then asked if I was a local which lead me to reply with a glee "Nope, I'm from the capital". He was sure disappointed that he could not nail a young interviewee. But who could blame him where most people my age would either be in school, at work or home because it's 3pm in the afternoon! So mic boy and his two camera buddies had to scroll the entire market asking questions at old folks who looked like they couldn't care less which party the MP belonged to.

    On the political side, I'm not interested either. Who belongs to which party doesn't really matter much as long as they do their job in helping the people. However to me, politicians equates to dishonestly, corruption and greed. So I have very little hope towards whoever that sits up there. At most during election time, I'll only think of "giving others a chance"... And since I wasn't involved in voting this man to represent this community, I lost my 30 seconds of "fame" (^_^)

    Tuesday, March 2, 2010

    Childhood - Doing what you could not

    Since this is my 100th post, I'm going to make this something a little special. Remember when you were a kid and mom is super strict with whatever you do (or at least wished to do)? Well last Friday was a public holiday and my hubby was out with the boys leaving me home alone. It was my request to be left alone so I can spend some "me" time with the telly. In the end, I actually came up with some "fun" activities doing things my mom would never allow me to do - as a child.
    • Eating peach straight from the can
      As a child, mom never allow any of us to eat anything straight from the can or whatever container the food came in. We have to pour it all into a bowl, divide into equal portion and take only one share. For once today, I had the entire can to myself. 
    • TV meal.
      Dad has never approve of TV dinner - for obvious reasons. Mom would cling on to her Chinese TV series like an addict just for "45-minutes of boost".
    • Super unbalanced meal
      When I was a kid, all my meals are like the food group pyramid. Plenty of vegetables, rice, some meat and fruits after each meal. This time I had the luxury of eating the entire can of peach for breakfast, burger for lunch and miso-udon for dinner! 
    • Running around the house in pajamas
      Yup. I've committed the age-old crime of wearing my PJs for almost the entire day.
    Even though it was fun to break all rules, there was a downside. The unbalance diet gave me an upset stomach. Watching too much telly gave me headaches and lying around the house like a corps didn't make it any better. Did I enjoy it? Well, at first yes but by the end of the day I wished I didn't do it. So will I do it again? Most unlikely...