Thursday, January 28, 2010

Driving (Away) Bad Habits

A lot has been said (and written) about the (bad) driving habits of Malaysians. Those smiling (towards Caucasian tourist) and courteous gentle creature is transformed to a beast - when they are behind the true is that? Well, recent episodes of road fatalities and not to mention road thugs should be able to tell us something.

Ever seen a speeding express buses on the PLUS highway, flashing away - warning us to give way - when we are already way off the speed limit. And you thot that express buses should be driving at 90km/h....I'm not sure what's wrong with us - is the pressure of keeping our cool and courteous nature to friends and tourist are taking its toll on us - so that we try to liberate ourselves by driving like mad ?

Don't get me wrong - I am not angry at those driving super fast - provided that they are not endangering others. You can drive fast if you have the skill and have super fast response plus the appropriate machine. I mean if you are driving a Kancil - are you sure that it has the power to overtake that Merc and quickly squeeze in front of it ? I mean, haven't we seen enough of accidents of those underestimating the incoming vehicle - by overtaking dangerously ? Yeah you might be fast - but don't you know that the car behind you had to slammed the brake - in order to give you that space for you to squeeze in ?

And then there's the road hogs. Yeah, you are driving within the speed limit - it does not mean that you can hog the right most lane. Don't you know that that fast lane is for overtaking only ? I actually have a friend who confessed that she will not budge from the fastest lane, if she is already driving within the speed limit - though there might be others who are faster...ignorance ???

And don't start with those dreadful road thugs. Everyday once I am behind the wheel, I pray that I will not be facing them. Malaysians are becoming more violent now...just look at the news - not satisfied with the guy who cut your queue ? Just take out your machete and give him a hard knock!

May Allah bless us all.....

Monday, January 25, 2010


A lot of things happened in the last couple of days. The most notable ones were the passing of 'Who's Who' in Malaysia - a royal and a politician. And off course, the sub-sequent brouhaha over an alleged unsavoury notes written by one particular blogger. After being informed by a friend and out of curiosity, I visited the blog - and is turned off by its blatant use of degrading words and remarks. Might be that I am already at an age (old?), where I cringed at people who are who are plainly disrespectful to others. Well, enough about that. No points in discussing that kind of character, right ?

The topic of my rambling is 'Cougar' - not the animal - but the term that is gaining popularity now. I was intrigued previously and read an interesting article on the topic recently. Plus Courtney Cox was actually one of the nominees of this year's Golden Globe for her (comedic role) performance in 'Cougar Town'.

For those in the dark, Cougar is referred to 40 something women - single or recently divorced - who seek (devour?) younger man. Got it ? If no, then enter Demi (Moore) and Ashton (Kutcher). Demi is 16 years older than her hubby of a couple of years. And I'm sure you have read about Madonna (unless you have been hiding under a rock or has become katak bawah tempurung) and his toy boy - Jesus Luz. The Material Girl is 51 and the Model is 22.

The article touched on the issue of the relationship itself - mostly on whether the reunion can last. The cougar poster couple Susan Sarandon (63) and Tim Robbins (51) calls it quits recently....after 23 years together. Which brings to the one question - will it last ? Thanks to plastic surgery and advancement in the cosmetic industry plus extra effort in keeping tabs of your heath (gym, anybody?) - Jesus might proudly declare that his current love thinks and acts like a 30 years old.

The argument is that, okay at 50, you can still work it out to be on par with your 30 something (or 20 something) - but once you reach 60, things changed drastically - HRT, plastic surgery, etc, probably can still help - but not much. Guess that's what happened to Susan Sarandon - once she reached 60 - after 23 years in the affair.

Closer to home, we have an actress who is married to a footballer, 11 years her junior. Maybe they can prove the critics wrong. If I am not mistaken, there is also a veteran actress who married a guy who is half her age.

Lucky Mr Hubby is juz a couple of years younger....

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Paranoid ?

Are you paranoid ? If yes, PLEASE stop. Don't you know how annoying that is ? Your insecurities actually irritates (most, anyway) people. Yeah, yeah, we tend to be paranoid some of the time - but....well, forget about it - lest their paranoia takes over them!

Let's switch to a more trivial topic. I read an interesting article last night. The writer pointed out that buying a toothbrush is a nightmare nowadays. Used to be a toothbrush is some bristles with a handle. Full stop. Now they comes is shapes, sizes, colors and different functions to fit you hygiene requirements.  Same goes to other stuff. I was browsing in the mall recently - and was in awe at the sheer offerings available - mind you that was only on the handbag sections! Just browse on the ladies-wear, ad you'll know what I mean. It used to be so simple...there are only few choices in which we can choose. Nowadays we are spoilt for choices. 

Just look at cars. Used to be, when I joined the working world - the (affordable) choice - other than FaMa's hand me downs - are Proton Saga or Satria and Wira probably. Now the new hires can have the choice of buying MyVi, Viva, Suria and off course those who can afford to - Vios and City. As we move towards globalization, the market is more open and hence the affordable goods....That's a good thing, right ?

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Up Up and Away...

Festive celebration is coming - it will mean just one thing. Visit you local grocer and you'll definitely notice it. Visit your friendly neighbourhood wet market and you'll find out that your RM50 budget cannot cover the perishable goods for your weekly consumption.

Flip any newspapers and you'll see that prices of this and that is now more expensive. It's the same ol' story - every time a celebration is around the corner. 'There is not much difference in the price of Mandarin oranges, one box is RM40, compared to RM38 last year. This is because of the extreme winter in China which affects harvest'. The year before that was ' Price is increased only slightly due to the hot weather which reduced production of the oranges'. Sounds familiar ? And this is played over and over again - like broken records - just change the mandarin orange to something else, say chicken or eggs or mushrooms! And then slightly tweak the background story!

Just blame the weather, it can be too cold, too hot, too humid...and surprisingly (or not) - this happens during festive season, when customer are bound (forced?) to buy anyway! I mean, for Hari Raya Muslims needs to buy chicken and beef for their rendang, right ?

One thing about prices in Malaysia is that 'what goes up, never goes down'! Up...up...and away.....Everything is up, except our salary. Most will have about 5% increment, which he/she has to offset with an increase of 20% in the household expenditure...

Monday, January 18, 2010

In the Dark Dilemma

The other day, a friend of ours were stopped by the Authority. The offence ? Having a dark glass window on his (luxury MPV). Mind you, this is not a brand new ride - but an almost 7 years recond model. He was asked to change the glass to a clear one, pronto!

Here's the thing:
1) The car was imported from Japan - and the dark glass (not tint) was factory fitted. If dark glass is really prohibited, then why was it not stopped - before it enters our market ?

2) If the dark glass is prohibited, then it should be spelt clearly (and stamped in blood) - with enforcement done to ensure importers adhere to this regulation.

3) It is now 'discovered' that most of the car dealers temporarily removed the dark glass and replace them with clear ones - just to pass Puspakom inspections. Looking at the ill-fitted temporary clear glass (with scratches, dents and some even cracks) - is it that difficult for them to figure out that the clear glass is not the actual window ? Why was no action taken at that time ?

5) Why is only the car owner liable - since the ownership of this recond cars have long chains of people involved. The importer (those owning the APs), the dealers, Puspakom. It can be stopped at the root, instead - they chose to nip it at the bud!

6) The original dark tints are from Japan - to replace them with an equally high quality clear glass (Japan) cost an astounding RM 6.8K. The other alternative is China Made which is RM 1.8K. Hmmm...are we sacrificing our safety here ?

7) Are they ever going to review this archaic law ? (Actually I am not sure whether there is a law on this). What are the statistics showing dark glass /tint = crimes and criminals ? Most of the reconds MPV are used to ferry families and extended families. It's a family mover. Ever heard of Alphard or Estima or Elgrand used as escape vehicle in a bank hold-up ? Hmmm.....

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Maddoff, anyone ?

By now, I am sure most of us have heard a fair share of the infamous Bernie Maddoff. How he swindled thousand of people of billions of dollars in his 'exclusive' Ponzi system. Nobody is spared - from the multi-millionaire who's who in Tinseltown to retired couples wishing that their investment will enable them to a spend their remaining years in comfort.

Which brings me back to our own beloved country. This famous 'skim cepat kaya' - Pak Man Telo' has burnt thousands - but is still alive and kicking, amid slightly different patterns/environments. Not a long time ago, I read adverts by the roadside, inviting people to learn & participate in the very lucrative 'worm rearing'. Ternak's everywhere. You kinda convinced - since this is an agriculture project - guaranteed to maximize your return.

Lo and behold, a week or so ago, there were news about the 3000 investors in Kulim who lost around RM30 mil in the 'skim pelaburan ternakan cacing'. A govt retiree used up his 100K retirement money to invest in the company, starting Aug last year. First he invested 60K, with 20K return for the first 2 months. Then he added another 40K - and did not get anything back from Nov. Hmmm....too good to be true....

The thing is that this kind of Ponzi schemes are affecting a lot of people, people who use up their hard earned money, retirees, etc. But come to think of it - is the Ponzi scheme fuelled by greed. I mean, unless you are very naive and has been living in Timbuktu, then you'll know that no investment will reap profit in THAT amount in such a short period.

So, be careful...I am telling this to myself. With technology, the 'thieves' are getting sophisticated. They are becoming tech-savvy, and will lure us - come what may....

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Reality TV

Every year, I am sucked into reality TV - American Style - The American Idol. Yeah, yeah, blah..blah...but I still can't help myself. Last year -the first time I laid my eyes on Glambert (Adam Lambert)- I just know that he's gonna be big - and go very far. I got the same feeling yesterday, after seeing the superb performance from one of the the guys (I can't remember his name- ha..ha..)

You see thousands of American, waiting for their turn for the American Dreams. One of the things that I noticed is that how family is (most of the time) the core of every contestants. The families will console them if they did not make it to Hollywood and they will be the ones supporting (and jumping up and down) - if they get the golden ticket. So, please treasure them - you irreplaceable family - who will love you unconditionally....

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Reality Bites

The increase of sugar price by 20 cents is already an old news. The impending increase of fuel - by May - has been openly discussed. Now we have the powers that be casually saying - don't expect sugar price to remain the same till end of the year. Since sugar increase also affects lower income families - it is safe to assume that soon - it will be announced that we have to pay me for electricity. Since a hike in the tariff will likely affect middle and high income families.

Wait - didn't we just paid like 20% more last year ? You bet your a** , we did! But then when you have a business model in which you erect the infrastructure, and then requested to sell that to an independent (crony?) company and forced to buy back power generated by that independent power provider - (premium price?) - what can you expect ? It does not matter that we already have excess capacity - more electricity that we can use - generate more IPP, so that we can help them 'do business'. If TNB cannot pay, never mind meh...just raise the tariff, again and again and again....

Aikkk....already in 3rd paragraph - but still no mention of reality - you ask. Well, this is our reality of life....When the economic uncertainty is still gripping most of us, we are served with more and more news of price increase. Our life is made to be gloomier by the day. Make you wonder whether the powers that be are living in the real world...probably their world are so cushioned - they do not feel the pain of falling on their b***! Most of them does not pay toll, so toll hike is not a burden to the people. They travel with police escort - so what congestion are you referring to ? Our ride are always smooth! Some are blue blood or comes from a silver spoon family. Will they emphatize and know how it feels to count every cents received to make sure your kids have decent meals ????

The reality is that when I started work, fresh graduate earned around RM2.2K. After 15 years, fresh graduate earns around 2.6K. A mere RM400 in 15 years. A terrace house in Penang used to cost RM200K 15 years ago- but now it is RM500K. Do the math.....

Friday, January 8, 2010

New Fuel Pricing ?

"Fuel price by car size" screamed the newspaper headline. Huh?Without reading the article, the first thing that crossed my mind was - define, size. Is it based on physical size? Kancil versus Harrier?

Turns out that the smart aleck proposal was to use engine capacity to determine whether we (rakyat marhean) - will be eligible for the fuel subsidy - by means of using Mykad. Serves you right - Singaporean and Siamese - who in every opportunity tried to gorge in the cheapest (?) fuel !

Hmmm...engine capacity...interesting. Does this means that a guy who bought a 1600cc Persona (60K) is in the same league as the guy who 1600cc Swift Sport (112K) ?? Does this means that a fella who bought Naza Citra 2000cc (70K)- as he needs the space to ferry his ever-growing family - is in the same predicament as the businessman who bought a 1700cc Merc B-Class ????

There are soo...many loopholes. I bet they have not yet thought this through - how to execute this marvelous plan. Is there infrastructure available in every petrol station to read the Mykad? What information will be stored there ? When will the information be stored - can be done before May 2010 ? How do they intend to classify issue like a family buying an 8 years old Naza Ria 2000cc - because of of the size (and more importantly the cost!). Most of the grand bungalows in the place that I live have Vivas and Myvis. These small cars are normally used when they need to go to the wet market or somewhere where traffic is horrendous. What will deter them from pumping in their Vivas and Myvis and then unloading them to their Merc and Beemer ?

There are simply loads of loopholes here - which breeds corruption - it's not like we need another scandal. It is disheartening to read everyday, our tax money being wasted everywhere - with a lot of it ended in the pocket of a few elites. Do not underestimate these guys - they can be extremely creative. This proposal, that proposal - the main ingredient is so that they can build (low quality) infrastructure at a (much) inflated price. Just look at the buildings tumbled down everywhere in Terengganu.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Driving and GPS

It's already 10 pm, I am sleepy and tired (more like exhausted) - alone in this hotel room in Kuala Perlis. The music from the live performance is blasting away - lucky it is not directly on my this side but I still hear them - and it's still raining - it's been raining cats and dogs the whole day....but I feel that I still need to pen this down.

After the workshop was over for the day, I asked my colleague whether she wanted to go out with me - as I wanted to look for some cashews to bring home. She then suggested we asked the receptionist about Padang Besar. Since we were told that the shops there normally closed at around 6.30pm - and it takes around 1hr to reach there - well, what the the heck - it was then 4.30, we can still make it!

So off we first time driving to Padang Besar. There is always first time to everything! Driving on trunk roads - with kids riding bicycle and youths on motorbikes (mind you, no helmet) - was not easy. Alhamdullilah, everything went well, until we noticed that Mr Garmin kept asking us to turn to junctions that were different from the road signs. We double checked the destination - which was set to Shopping Arcade, Padang Besar - but Mr Garmin insisted that we use the Kaki Bukit route. Finally we came into a junction, with the signage showing Padang Besar to the right and Mr Garmin asking us to turn to the left! We turned to the left, but the road looked deserted, and a bit scary!

That's it - I made a u-turn and followed the signage instead. Finally we came to the hiway - the hiway that is familiar to me - since Me Hubby uses that road every time we head to Padang Besar! And you know what, during our drive in that (correct) road, Mr Garmin showed that the road does not exist !!!

What say you ? Morale of the story - you cannot trust Mr Garmin 100%. Need to balance them with road signs, gut feel,etc. Probably Mr Garmin needs to be updated as well!

Imagine our shock to discover that (on our way back) it is sooo...much easier and nearer, if we were to use the roundabout at Kangar was a straight road to Padang

Well, I looked at it positively - I got to do some sight seeing (yeah, right!) and I had the opportunity to sharpen my driving skill...he..he...

Anyway, we finally reached Padang Besar around 5.30pm (it took us 45 mins - back to the hotel) and found the arcade to be deserted. Most of the shops were already closed. We quickly purchased our cashews and pistachios. And out of guilt, I bought some dresses and shirts for the kids, brooches for the maid and my colleague bought shirts for her hubby and family. At least the long journey (sesat here and there) felt worth it - since we got to do some shopping...he..he..he...

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Perlis Trip

It was an early start (drive) for me today - 6.30am to be exact. Since I have never driven to Perlis by myself - we (me and an office colleague) were all prepared with printout of the maps and Garmin setup to the exact location. We were so sure of ourselves, that we missed the junction to Changloon! Lucky we realized it very early and scrambled to switch on Mr Garmin..he..he...

We are here for a Nanotechnology seminar and workshop organized by one of the local university here. What interest us is that the workshop (tomorrow) is going to be conducted by a renowned scientist from NASA. He gave a brief seminar this morning - and it was great - an eye opener.

After the morning seminar, we checked into a new hotel in Kuala Perlis and then headed to the a few schools (the university) - for a courtesy call + discussing some possible final year and post grad projects. What we (initially) did not realize is that the campus are scattered everywhere - basically all over the state!

The main hall in one area, Material school in another area, Nano Tech institute in another area and the Mechatronic school some distance away. And to top it all, most of these areas are not recognized by Mr Garmin. So we have to stoop to the old-fashioned way of trial and error plus seeking assistance of shop owners to tell us the la jugak sesat sana sini....

The thing is that, the signage here is plain 'bad'. Very poor. I mean, the university is quite prominent - at least you expected that there'll be a lot of signage showing the route to their campuses - but no, we were expected to know our way. Probably they don't have that many visitors - and locals know the place like the back of their hand. A day before the trip we actually asked for the street name from the secretariat - who told us that there is NO street name (mind you this is in the center of Kangar - the capital of Perlis). Being local, probably they are not aware of the street names. The signage really sucks! Most Malaysian signages are NOT user friendly - though I have to say that I am impressed with the ones in Malacca.Theirs are very good and strategically placed!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

New Year 2010

As I am writing this, we are already into day 2 of 2010. Unfortunately for me, I am nursing my sore throat now. I am feeling lethargic - thanks to the family vacation. Somehow family vacation always results in exhaustion - I guess because during holidays you tend to ignore your normal routine such as drinking enough water to keep you hydrated.

So, here we are - already in 2010. Remember when we were gearing towards the year 2000 ? Y2K - remember that ? The chaos predicted never materialise - but I do remember our IT team scrambling to ensure all our PCs and laptops are not affected by it. I read recently an article (more like headline) stating that a lot of people are actually celebrating new year - depressed. Why you ask ? It's because new year reminds them of their unfulfilled resolutions.

I am not the type who actually have resolutions. I don't believe in having resolutions come new year. For me, I have strive to be a better person, a better slave to my MAKER.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Cuti2 Melaka - Day 4

This is the last day of our family vacation. Looking at the window, I was amazed to see how 'clear' the traffic was. What a difference a day make ! Being Monday, most of the tourist already left yesterday. In my 4 days in Malacca, I noticed at least 50% of the cars are from Singapore!

We decided to book a place for the 'Duck Tour'. A new attraction in which we got to ride an amphibious vehicle - something like a hovercraft. Before going to the duck tour, we went to A Famosa fort and did all the tourist thing (more camera clicks).

Finally by 1.15pm, it's Bon Voyage Malacca.....

Cuti2 Melaka - Day 3

Day 3 - A Famosa Resort in Alor Gajah. That was our mission on day 3. So off we went - as early as we could. It was actually quite a distance from our hotel, but thankfully there's the PLUS hiway. Once we reached the place, it was well after 9.30am - surprisingly (?) there were already quite a crowd there. The total cost of the tickets - RM250 - for the whole family. Definitely not a wallet friendly kind of place.

Once we were at the Animal Safari entrance, Sarah was chased by the Red Indians - we simply had to laugh. There was also one huge Malayan tiger there and we decided to take our family picture with it. Carefully we took our seat behind the beast - all the time, I was praying that the tiger will not turn back to face us! The picture turned out great - as it captured the beast displaying his sharpies!

There were various shows - the first being the 'Elephant Show' - which was amazing. Much better compared to the ones in Malacca Zoo. Could $$ be the main reason - I mean this is a private company. Back to the show - imagine teaching elephants to cycle, plays the hoop, playing basket ball and football and tinkering with harmonica! The kids were all squeal.

Next was the 'Multi Animal Show' where there were raccoons, dogs, birds, Sun Bear, Flamingos and off course the Orang Utan.

There was also the 'Bird Show' and the 'Wild Wild West' show. There's a deja-vu that feeling - like I have seen them all before - either during my earlier visit there or was it the animal show in San Diego ?? After lunch (which was pre-packed 'nasi ayam - included in the ticket price) - we bought animal feed and spent time feeding the animals (and off course clicking away), plus spent RM6 each for a ride with Eli (Mr Elephant). The kids were beyond ecstatic - though is was only a short ride. By the time we were out of the area, it was already 4.30pm.

By the time we reached the hotel, all of us were exhausted - but that did not deter the kids to spend another hour in the pool! After dinner, we went roaming in town - a stark difference compared to the night before - as holidaymakers were already back from wherever they came from.