Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Knives of the year..

Will Zermeno's masterpieces
Some Green handled folders
My Strider AR Trifecta!

Aaahhh.. This is my favourite topic of the day... Knives! Let's start with the 2008 hits and misses. In the
beginning of this year, I scored a Strider 15th Anniversary AR. This is like a dream come true because the dealer, Matt Donohue who runs an on-line store in Virginia,
USA, actually allowed me to purchase it via a payment scheme.After waiting for nearly three months, the AR arrived. Its built like a tank and completes my quest for the
AR-evolutionI scored a second generation AR from Matt back in 2003. Three years later, a friend of mine Bobby G from
Texas sold me his numbered HG-AR. It was my Strider holy grail.The hollow ground knives were personally produced by Mick Strider and Duane Dwyer from their
workshop in California.Things slowed down a bit in the second and third quarter, but I still managed to score some production
knives. I picked up two Spyderco folders in Foliage Green G-10 handles.First on my plate, was the flat ground Endura. This is the company's flagship knife which I acquired from a
friend residing in the US. The price was nothing to shout about.Later, one of my 'dream' folders came. It was the Foliage Green Spyderco Military folder. Pricing for this
one was excellent. I acquired it from a buddy who is also a knifemaker in the US.With the Spyderco Citadel auto, this completes my production knife quest for the year. Besides the
Spydercos, I also scored some Boker knives designed by Chad Los Banos. They were the Hyper, M-Type
and Direkt.Now, the least expected surprises for 2008, was some handmade knives by knifemaker and lawman Will
Zermeno.He produced four knives for me and to close the curtain for this year, I scored two damascus blades. They
are artfully produced and I must say that Mr Zermeno made it with his heart and soul! So, what is in store for 2009? I must say that another Strider is in order! It will be a fixed blade. My project
with Will Zermeno will also continue with a few designs in the offing..

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

See you next year!

Nine more hours to go before we kiss 2008 goodbye. So, how did I fare? I'd say that things had worked
out very well.I am now well into my fourth year in marriage. My wife has been very supportive of me and well, she don't
have to show it, but she cares a lot!My kidz are getting older. The boy, well, will still be the boy. Our gurl has grown bigger. She's now bigger
than our boy, making him a midget.We have had a great year with the dogs without any untowardly incidents. They are healthy and gave us no
problems.Home wise, we saw some maintenance of the appliances. First, the main fridge went kaputt. Then the
master bedroom aircon went bust. And to cap it off, our ASTRO decoder was the next appliance to quit on
us.Not to mention, the desktop PC that served me for eight years is now a chunck of plastic. I just gave away
my Philips monitor to Michelle's aunt. She's very happy to be on the receiving end.I must say that career wise, things took a drastic turn this year. I left my old employment place in January,
broke for Chinese New Year and rejoined the company that first employed me some 17 years ago.So far so good! Money wise, well, got some ups and downs. The Inland Revenue Board had lobbed off a
chunk of my pay for claims and contribution payments from the old workplace. This is expected to continue into the first quarter of 2009 before I see any relief. Health wise, well, I'd say
that its okay. I was off my medication for hypertension for three months before resuming back.Occassionally, I had headaches the size of Texas, this is due to stress and the lack of sleep. But now, its
manageable.Hobby wise - its been a great year for me! Plenty of packs, knives and gear! The man up there has been
very kind to me. I scored some unbelievable toys!What to look forward to in 2009? Well, definitely not the economic slump. I have been conditioned to live
without the comfort of paycheck bonuses or ex-gratia payments - so, I can weather this.I might have to restrict my spendings. But certain things like outings with the wife and dogs have to be
increased. There's a few place in mind that I am targeting.Come what may, Michelle and I would have to work very hard to cover our expenses, put food on the table,
feed for the kidz and take care of the roof over our head..

The daily crunch.

Daily meetings is what I deem as 15-minutes of hell. Yes, its the eternal damnation of the corporate world.
For a newbie like me, its like sending in the lamb to the pack of wolves.So far, I've attended close to half a-dozen meetings in place of my supervisor and superior. What is expected to be tough, is the trouble shooting.
Mistakes are abound when you are rushing against time. We minimise it by checking our work several
times before it is presented to the managers.And as expected, its different strokes for different folks.
When the leader comments, some would chime in to score brownie points. So, brown nosing is expected. Dog-piling is normal. Some guys discredit you to get his bosses' attention.
It's normal to see the alpha males passing wise ass remarks to elevate their status in the pack. But with a single glance, I can size up who that matters.
As for me, its a matter of maintaining cool and retaining prespective. What needs to be corrected will be done.
The boss wants it, he gets it. So, its final. If things got screwed up the following day, the paper trail goes way back to the top.
So, back-up, back-up, back-up.I have survived so far and well, there are more trials and tribulations to come. So, the motto is: adapt, improvise and survive!

Ravages of time..

Before I knew it, the day was over. And right before my eyes, I went through stories after stories. The
captain's chair is no easy task and well, after helming the desk for two days, I know what it's like to have
your ass on the frying pan.Nevertheless, it was been a learning experience for me. It's been more than 10 months since I started work
at The Star and life has been treating me really kind.Despite a looming cloud of darkness ahead, I still managed to put food on the table and pay the bills. I
guess my constant struggle - is to overcome my demons.Owing the bank money is no fun. So, in the months to come, I have to hunker in to face the long cold winter.
As for the hits and misses this year, I counted that there were more hits as most of my targets were
spot-on and dead-centre.I put my money where my mouth is. Right about the same time last year, I was accused by being lazy and
unproductive by a woman who was put on the desk to run the show.She was highly inexperienced and had no idea what running a desk was all about. For her lacking, she
took out her frustration on my co-workers. I saw her as a legacy from my ex-boss. The bringer of pain and chaos. People were unhappy with her
attitude and as predicted, she self-destructed and went back to the public relations line.Way I see it, its simple. Good management skills comes from within. If you cannot even manage your
household, I don't think you can manage other people at work.My heart sank when I saw her antagonising a young reporter. Screaming on top of her lungs, yelling,
inditimidating the guy by making threats.That is bad. Worse if you don't know what you are talking about. Coming from an inexperienced
supervisor, that is a lowly thing to do.And why pick on one individual when the rest are slacking? Some of the reporters are 'protected' by given
choice assignments. They deliver one story a week and get away watching movies during lunch hour.This is bad practise and a case of abuse of privilage. I felt that if this is left to continue, the rot will get
bigger. Bad enough, the workplace is running out of capable people and to add more water into a sinking ship,
they promoted all the wrong stuff.So, where they are today, its a result of neglect, abuse, mutual mental masturbation and wrong doing.
I for one, am glad to be out of the fold. I proved her criticism wrong by taking my trade to a new environment. Whatever shit she threw at me had bloomed in full blossom.
I took her negative remarks and turned it into my own personal development goals - because without it, I wouldn't have succeeded with the Food Trail and Metro Hygiene Campaign columns.
That aside - I have plenty of positive things to look forward to in 2009. One of it is to rekindle my adventures and with proper planning, it will bear fruit.

Monday, December 29, 2008

TAD folding spork V2.0

TADgear has came up with a new folding spork. And well, this time, they let the boys in Japan do the rest. I
think its a good decision.The first-generation folding spork that I've used was not really up to the mark because its rather flimsy. The
material is also very thin-stocked and if you get sand wedged between the slip joint, you are in trouble!Guess I can look forward to the new spork design which is now five times costlier than its predecessor.
TAD is offering this as an exclusive item from their store...

Sunday, December 28, 2008

The greatest knife show in KL

The MKF posse

MKF Admin Eric Wong and Dzamir, Prez of the MKF

Some hardware on show

Me and two big steak knives

The raffle session

I'd say that the Dec 27 Meet and Greet session with the Malaysia Knife Forum guys is the best to date. We
had a full house attendance.It was great to catch up with some old friends - especially Eric Siow who is now based in Brunei. My buddy
Eric Wong also put up a good show with his collection of high end cutlery.The day, as usual, started early for me. We ate and drank beer till about 5pm before calling it a day. I think
it was that Gump and Co Great American Burger that gave me the runs cos it was half-cooked.I never had such a problem till now. As for 2009, we are gonna see much less gatherings. Perhaps more
outdoor orientated outings are in store...

The runs..

I can't believe it! I've been down with the runs for the last three days. Last night, I felt the full brunt of it, my
body and joints ached, and my appetite was also affected.Went home and had dinner, then after resting for a while, I hit the sack. This morning before heading off to
work, I downed medication to treat the symptoms.Right now, I have to be very careful with my food intake, nothing oily and spicy. As for the workload, today
is going to be an easy day. The stories have been assigned to the respective pages. But two or three this afternoon, there will be a
revision before we send up the pages.

Sony Ericsson C902

This Xmas brought some really pleasant surprises. First, my wife outfitted our kidz with their Ruffwear
doggy packs.We tested it at Gasing Hill and it worked fine. The only thing left to do now, is to organise more outings. I
think some cool trekking trips in 2009 is in order!On Xmas day, my mother in-law gave me a new cellphone. Its a Sony-Ericssion C902. I found it to be
pretty solid and slim - perfect for front pocket carry.My only beef with this camera is that memory cards are not standard issue. Now that they are really cheap,
I can get an M-2 memory stick for as low as RM40 a piece.Standard Sony outlets sells them at RM120 for a 2GB card. I don't want to pay that much. And since the
outlets are franchised to dealers, I found that the Sony Centres are majorly fucked up right from the start.Prices are standard everywhere. Sony believes in protecting their dealers who are ripping off consumers,
so, if they layoff people, I guess its only natural.Speaking of the phone, I see some really cool features. Sony's are also said to have the best cameras
around. They proved this with the W800 cybershot phone.But as they are catering for more upmarket crowd, I felt that their designs had gone to the dogs. Literally.
You won't find a low end or mid-range cellphone that is attractive.So, that said, can the onboard camera rival that of the Nokia N-82? We'll have to see about that. As for
functionality, I find that the controls are cumbersome. Sony does not offer the user-friendliness in text messaging that Nokia does. And since I have sent the
N-82 for service and overhaul, I have to device a way to re-input all the numbers that are stored in the older
phone's memory card.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

My cellphone rang after lunch time. It was a number registered in Petaling Jaya. A male voice on the end of
the line asked: "Are you so, so, and so?".I told him: "Yes". Then he asked: "have you settled your ASTRO bill?". I said: "no". He reminded me to do
so. I told him: "I will when I get back my faulty decoder".Since my home has been without cable TV for a nearly a week, I can sense that there is plenty of gloom
and feeling of restlessness.Why? Because we don't have cable TV. The caller asked me why I did not settle the bill. I told him that I
would do so only when the repair is done and at the mean time, they are free to freeze the service.Whether you watch you cable TV or not, the meter ticks. I think its only fair that when everything is fine
again, I pay the bill.As a matter of fact, the collection company - I believe that ASTRO has been outsourced, had been notified
about the repair. Everything for that matter, was outsourced. So, what is the alternative with the absense of cable TV? I
guess if paying for something that I am not getting is the issue, all there is left to do, is to repair the
damaged serial cable slot for the terrestrial TV. Best of all, it's free.So, at the meantime, the bastards at ASTRO would have to wait till I get my cable TV decoder repaired.
Till then, they can kiss my ass!

Top 3 worse - people

Ah, I am on a roll. Okay, here's my top 3 annoying people list:

1. Alpha males.

Nothing could be worse than being in a crowd where everyone is an Alpha Male. They dominate conversations, impose their opinion on others and deemed themselves as 'always right'. Yes, Alpha Male sucks! Majorly. There are alphas at work, at play and even when you die, you end up in eternal damnation with alpha males. So, how does one spot an alpha? Very easy. You see a group of males in conversation, the guy who tried the hardest to hold court and kept on talking and talking and talking like a Duracell bunny on heat - that's the man. At work, the alpha male wants to dominate you. Everything he says is right. If he's wrong, its only natural. So, I spotted one at work who nags and nags and nags like an old lady. And he could do no wrong. Thank God he is retiring in 2009!
2. Annoying relatives

I am not lucky when it comes to relatives. My cousins are from another planet. In my vocabulary, they do not exist. They screwed up and their mother wanted me to get them a job. When their father was alive, I was convinced that God really existed when the Demon brood arrived. Yes, cousins from hell. And when it comes to extended relatives, I do have a pariah for a brother in-law. My auntie protect him in the beginning, but after she found out that he is a Demon among us, her perception this son in-law of hers changed. I only see the bugger once a year - which I think - is enough. As for the in-law's side, I came across some really retarded young people. First of all, one of them thought he IS the GREATEST. Not till Chinese New Year this year, I saw him humbled before the toilet bowl. Everything that he said was emptied inside. Moral of the story, if you cannot drink and hold your liquor, stay on diet coke. This guy is RETARDO NUMERO UNO in my books. There are also other cousins of my wife that are equally retarded. They are not worth my time.

3. Networking people.

I left school 25 years ago. It was a great place. I learned that in life, your future is shaped by some major and crucial decisions you make. Not by others. The school, in my opinion, is a block of brick and mortar. Nothing more. That said, I never made it a point to go for school or classroom reunions. All my friends from the schooling era are now in their late 30s. A couple of them died.
As for peers, I am glad to have known them. They never became a part of my life though at one point, I use to hang out with some.
People grow up, life goes on. I don't see the point in living up the past. What is done, is done. So, that said, it annoys me to see a bunch middle aged men saying: "The school this, the school that, the school this and that, the school this, that and the other..." Rule of thumb - never do business with your friends and ex-schoolmates. They impose emotional blackmail on you. Never depend on your friends because when you fucked up majorly, no one is going to come forth and help you. They always think that you are after their money..

2008 Top 3 worse - food outlets

Ah.. Year end. I would like to rap it up with my 'Top 3' list starting with food and beverage outlets. Now, instead of naming the best, I want to name the worst.


1. Hard Rock Cafe Kuala Lumpur.

This place is fucked up from the beginning. The bartenders are crooks, waiters are fucking arrogant and well, the sucky crowd pretty much summed up its 'niche' market clientele. It is also the hangout for lounge lizards and expired virgins looking for a screw. Food wise, I rather not wast money here lah.

2. TGI Fridays - The Curve.

What do you get when you have a bunch of retarted late-teen school dropout and a shithead for outlet manager? Bad service. My wife and I ate in this oultet. We sat at the bar and waited for 25-minutes before the bartender noticed us. As for the food, it came out cold. We paid only for the drinks and well, won't ever return there.

3. Wong Kok Char Chan Teng.

This Hong Kong based outlet, in my humble opinion, is one of the worse makan places ever. Its runned by mutated Ah Bengs and Ah Lians. Service is non-existant. And only retards would eat cheese with rice.

The New Year resolution...

It is that time in the year to draw up some resolutions. First, less drinking in 2009. Yes. I have been a
naughty boy.Mrs Samo threw me out of the bedroom on many occassions. And to conserve cash, less beers ought to
set things right.And since I have less beer buddies - one just had an angioplasty - and some died, I do not have anymore
excuses to come home late from work or well, attend parties where there is free-flow booze.That said, I might live a little longer!Next on the list: Less fatty food. Yes, I have been a glutton and a slob. I want to shed the pounds cos my
doctor told me to do so. More fibre and lean meat. Have to do this.Attend the USN Gathering in Vegas, US. Yeah, it's time to travel. I want to go to a real knife show. And I
must save up! So far, these are my three resolutions. I think I can do it. Yeah!

Friday, December 26, 2008

A new set of wheels!

Two years and seven hundred and eighty ringgit later, my lil car had finally gotten what it had deserved - tire change and new brake pads.
The Myvi had taken me to many places and is a bread and butter vehicle. I got it with some help from my wife and waited for a year before I could sink my claws on it.
So, 2006 was indeed a big deal. After a long break, I got a my wheels again! I found that the tires are thinning and the rear left piece was partially deflated. 
Some road debris was the cause. This morning, I took the car to a reliable service centre at USJ 19 to get the tire change done.
And at the same time, change its engine lube, clean the air filter and bla-bla-bla. The foreman who removed the tire rims told me that the break pads are also worn out. 
It costs about RM70 for the whole set, so, why not? The owner of the service centre seemed to be a decent guy. 
All four tires, which are wider costs about RM155 a piece. 
This whole exercise cost me dearly, but since I depend a lot on the car to commute as well as ferry the dogs - it's justified.
Come April 2009, the Perdua Myvi will be three years old. Another year, more expenses. I am glad to have the tire change cos its already gone way past its due date...

Our much awaited hiking trip..

The Coonster, exhausted but happy!
Michelle and the Coonster leading the pack
Sir Naughty, totally zonked out
Michelle giving the Coonster a treat
At the beginning of the ascend...

Okay, here's the continuation of my Xmas Day story. I woke up at 7:45am feeling like shit. My mouth was
tasting rather funny and the tummy wasn't feeling that great too.The kidz are lying on the living room, waiting. It's Christmas morning and the weather outside was rather
cloudy.So, I tought with the sleep I can salvage, I could restore my energy from last night's wine overdose. Rule of
thumb, if you drink on an empty stomach, your tend to absorb the alcohol faster.In my case, I made it home and hit the sack around midnight. At about 10am, I went to shower and started
packing for the hike I promised my wife.Our destination was Gasing Hill in Section 5, Petaling Jaya. We haven't been here for nearly two years.
Our last hike was a medium-difficulty trip to the watershed in this hilly area.After packing breakfast from McDonals at SS14, we drove straight to the hill. At 11:00am, it was easy to
find parking space.We saw a few dog lovers who are already there with their pedigree dogs. Sir Naughty was rather edgy
when a mongrel came to inspect the scene.Our kidz were outfitted with the Ruffwear Approach (Queenie) and Palisades (Sir Naughty) dog backpacks
- which are two of the best outdoor dog luggage around.My wife paid a hefty sum to get these doggy goodies from Melbourne, Australia and after taking a closer
look at the pack system, it was money well-spent.I found a slight defect on Naughty's pack. It's hydration bladder was leaking and on a full load, each
bladder weights nearly one kilogramme.Sir Naughty had the ardous task of hauling drinking water in his pack while Queenie had the lighter chore
of transporting poo bags, a trowel, their drinking bowl and some doggie treats.The trek from Jalan Tanjong 5./4 entrance took about 10-minutes to reach the half-way mark which is an
ascend to the hill's observation tower.I call this the ball-buster climb because there are no even ground. Its slope all the way with clay ladders.
Queenie, which is the larger of the Siberian Husky we had, manouvered the trail with ease while Sir
Naughty struggled with his load.He was overexerting by dragging me up the slopes. Michelle and I found the ascend rather tough as the
dogs pulled all the way.About 20-minutes into our hike, we reached a cleared path leading to the observation tower. The towering
structure that eclipsed our view came in plain sight.I can see Queenie barely panting. Michelle anchored her at the base of a platform, while I removed
Naughty's backpack.He seem zonked out and after emptying the hydration bladder, my boy licked up the bowl like a thirsty
camel. Within seconds, he puked out the water. Queenie on the other hand, turned out the be stronger dog. We
chilled out at the peak for about 20-minutes before hitting the route out.Again, this was a descend down the hill. Over the years, the weather had caused erosion on parts of this
trail. The final descent was a steep drop. Most of the staircases are gone. Lucky for us, we brought our hiking
staff which helped.Our dogs managed their packs very well. Even with the faulty hydration bladder, Naughty made it down
safe. At the entrance of the hill, we came across some middle-aged men. They paused when our dogs made
their way out and one of them was telling the other that this was the first time he saw Siberian Huskies with
backpacks on the trail.On the whole, we manage pretty well despite being late. The dogs need to adjust to their new packs and I
think that some day trips to the nearest trail and I think next year, we will see more action!

The day after..

A few more days before we wrap up the year and I can already smell the alcohol fumes in the air. On Xmas
eve, I had a few glasses of wine and ended up drunk.My wife was not happy at all. I struggled to get up the next day so that we could go trekking at Gasing Hill. I
owe that to her and the kidz who are now outfitted with their packs.This is the time of the year where 'spirits' are literally 'high'. Spare the road accidents caused by drunkards
and deaths brought by them, if they live to regret, that will be something they have to live with for the rest of
their lives.For me, getting a hangover the next day is something that I totally dread. Its a feeling that sucks and well, I
can see my wifey commenting on this already.The body will take some time to get rid of the excessive alcohol and for the rest fo the day you will feel like
shit. Well, five more days to go and there is much alcohol to be consumed!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Investigative reporting

Here a rule of thumb: when you put sand into people's rice bowl, be prepared for the reprecussions. I received a phone call today from an angry lady. She was prompted to ask some questions by a man. I
could hear him instigating the woman who was already swelling with emotions.The issue was a house in Rawang being converted into a hotel. One of my colleagues told me this two
weeks ago and said he was working on it.Now, obviously, if you factor in the local by-laws, you cannot convert your home into a commercial premise.
The folks who owned this bungalow had taken things one step beyond by offering their rooms for rent. It doesn't take a brain surgeon to note that whatever that transpired from this move to convert a home into
a hotel is illegal.The owners had even advertised their services on the internet. Obviously, they have no clearance from the
local authority to run the home as a hotel.Everything that was pointed out in the article rang the alarm bell. Well, the owner was not happy. They rang
up and vented their frustration over the phone. Nothing I can do here but listen and when it became unbearable, I just put down the phone. No point raising
my blood pressure over some useless fuckers who profit by making up their own rules.I forsee an impending law suite on this article. Many lawyers out there are lean and hungry. It could have
been a perfect opportunity to slash a media company with RM328 million in cash reserve.Investigative reporting comes with risk. People want reporters to do their dirty work - exposing wrong
doers. When the can or worms are opened, those who made it rich by ill gotten gains goes broke overnight. And
that's just the beginning of their downward spiral.I have done many exposes in my career as a journalist and so far, none had implicated me legally. I
received death threats, bullets sent in a parcel and some really stupid things. But nothing happened. I intend for it to stay that way.Right now as I am saying, I am exposing dirty makan places. Nobody likes to eat in a place full or roaches
and rats. And my job, is to ensure check and balance.So, all good things said and done, those who are wronged and knowingly so get hurt. Its a thankless job
because nobody appreciates you after you have done their dirty work.

Silent night...

This year's Christmas, just like the years before - will be a quiet affair. Last night, my wife suggested a
last-minute shopping trip to the nearest supermarket. But our efforts were hampered by heavy rain. I told her that it was no-go and chilled out at our living room
before we hit the sack.It will be a light affair and as I see it, our Christmas gift this year, was a smooth run without any untowardly
incidents. Well, so far, so good.Our dogs are also getting older. This is Sir Clifford McNaughty's third Christmas with the Samo as well as
Dame Queenie's.Since we don't believe in splurging cash unecessarily, we are expected to hole in at home with a simple
dinner and a quiet evening. And our cable TV decoder is still out of commission, so, with that factored-in, the evening is even going to
be slower than ever.The only thing I can look forward to, is an outing to the Gasing Hills with our kidz in Christmas day, and
hopefully, the weather will hold.

Netbook upgrade

In: the HP Mini 1000
Surrendered to mrs Samo: the Asus eeepc 4G

I've upgraded my netbook from the Asus eeepc 4G to the HP mini 1000. After much research and comparing it to three of its closest rivals namely: the Lenovo S10, Acer One and Asus eeepc 1000H, I'd decided to go for the HP.
Price wise - its one of the hottest deals around town. HP topples the other three brands with their sleek and stylish design.
I like the HP mini 1000 for two reasons: its low-profile looks and design. There are no shiny parts and yucky colours like those offered by ASUS, Lenovo and Acer. 
Speed wise, its a much desired improvement from its predecessor, the HP mini-note 2133. Which is silver in colour and has a magnesium-alloy casing. 
I also read an on-line review on ZDnet which reaffirmed by decision. There's much to like on this little bugger like its large keyboard, just like the ones you find on a notebook.
It's 10.2" came in really handy. It provides plenty of eye relief and the resolution is also sharp. It helps a lot! Believe me!
Compared to the Asus eeepc 4G, the HP Mini 1000 is a quantum leap. Many of the feature I wished the eeepc has can be found on the HP netbook.
The keyboard for starters, is a vast improvement. I have large mitts and found it cumbersome to type on the scaled-down keys on the eeepc.
So, when Asus came out with their eeepc 1000H, I was very tempted to upgrade. But I waited as new stuff appears on my radar.
The Mini 1000 also provided some comfort I found on my Toshiba M-500 laptop. It runs on Windows XP, which is a scaled down version. So, no complaints. 
My only beef with this netbook are two things. First, the odd touchpad layout. Not easy to use unless if you have three fingers on each hand. If you are mutated, then it'll be fine.
Next, the webcam on the HP Mini 1000 sucks. I tried the Asus eeepc 4G webcam and this is one of the best around. 
That said, I think I am gonna have a fruitful relationship with my new netbook. It will be an EDC item in my sling bag... 

The gloom before Christmas..

Christmas is just around the corner and with the looming economic downturn, people are still shopping.
I don't see any slowdown at all at the computer retail outlet. Had lunch at Bukit Bintang with a contact this afternoon and well, while I was making my way out, I snucked
out to Low Yat Plaza.
Seems that there is a price war. External hard drives at 320GB are selling at RM250. Two years ago, this meager sum is unheard of.Even 2GB thumbdrives are selling at RM11 a piece. This is unbelievable.
As the school holidays are drawing to a close, I can see secondary school pupils scrambling to get their computer pheriperals.
Laptops too have gone down in price. Starting from RM1,500 a piece and there is no shortage of
Netbooks as well.
The low pricing factor is a boost to the local economy and as more electronics firm are laying off due to oversupply and the lack of demand, we can expect some cheap stuff.
All I see, was prices going down. Like I said before and I will say it again - we are getting ripped off everyday.
If the traders cannot sell, they spiral into a downturn. That's where your cash is king and whoever that is loaded with it, has the last say.
As for the impending doom which is forcasted for 2009, its a 'wait and see' situation. I guess if you don't have high expectations, this will pass.
While I am still able, I will work towards my goals. It is predicted that some 1.4 million people in Malaysia will be out of jobs by the second quarter of next year.
In adverse times, some people thrive while others slip into the oblivion. I don't give a rat's ass if some rich bugger lost his BMW, house mortgage and his entire life savings. Shit happens.
He can join the queue and start all over again. After all, he had it good, so, when times are bad, he had to work like everyone else or perish.
If you fall, you must pick yourself up and get on with life. In an uncertain future, there are no
When this kicks in, you rely purely on your survival instincts.That's why it is important to have skills.
I think my family and I will endure this and we if work hard enough, the good times is ours for the taking.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Leica Digilux-4

The name Leica is synonymous with precision and optical quality. This German camera and scope
manufacturer has been around for more than a century and has a legion of loyal followers in Malaysia -
namely: wannabes, rich farts and showoffs.I've attended a Leica product launch and its nothing but hot gas. Nevertheless, I wouldn't judge the brand
because of their users.To me, the closest ever deal I made, was an M-4 mechanical compact camera. Technically-speaking, its
an old range finder which belonged to a dead guy. The seller wanted RM350 for the piece which I quickly
wheeled-dealed with another collector.As technology progresses, Leica had lost its lusture. Film had given way to the solid state memory card.
But instead of going bust, the German company came back by collaborating with Panasonic to
manufacture their range of digital cameras.In Malaysia, you've got to be mad to own a Leica professional camera. The asking price is RM20K and
above for their range finders and SLRs.While the camera guarantees optical clarity, the rest is up to the hands that create the picture. That's all I
can say.Recently, a buddy of mine purchased a Panasonic Lumix L-4. Similarly, Leica under contract
manufacturing from Panasonic, announced their Digilux-4 in September. It shares the same processing
power as the LX-4.Price wise, the Panasonic retails at about RM1.7K, while Leica's rendition of the digital compact camera
is selling for RM2.89K.For that, retailers are also throwing in a classic brown leather case for the purchase. With belts tightening
everywhere in the world, I guess this lil Leica will have to take a backseat..

Ho, ho, ho!!!

At the Gasing trail two years ago..
Santa McNaughty
The Grinchskies

Seems like the holiday mood had gripped the citizens of the Klang Valley. The drive to work this morning was extra smooth.
Well, with the exception of assholes jumping queue on the Federal Highway. I made it to the workplace by 8:30am and the whole office was quiet.
Nearly half the workforce is on leave or clearing their offdays. As for as the workflow is concerned, there's roughly about eight days left before we wrap up for the year.
As Christmas is just around the corner, I can look forward to a hike at the Gasing Hill on Thursday.
My kidz are now outfitted with their backpacks, so, it should be fun.Otherwise, I think it is going to be a quiet affair as we also usher in the New Year.
That said, I am really pumped up and looking forward to the one-day Xmas break!

Sunday is a good day to start your working week. The drive was smooth and so is my time management. I
got to the office early to plan the day ahead.Since I am on my own to run the desk, the section's second in command was despatch to oversee the
assigning of stories in our daily schedule.I learned a lot from discussing with the guy and his experience helped in setting the pace going for the rest
of the day.Lunch break was also good as I caught up with a Nasi Padang seller at Section 14 in PJ. The man was
very thankful for an article written on his stall.Later, I dropped by the Digitalmall to check out some stuff there. Nothing much on my radar except for the
Hewlett Packard Mini 1000 which is the rave of the town.After all the hoohaas, I made my way back to the office and that was when the newsdesk editor called. He
wanted phone numbers which I assigned one of our reporters to assist.Then, when I went up to the newsroom, one of the chief sub asked: "Eh you got a picture of Peter Cetera
ah?". I was dumbfounded. I told them they could get something from Google's image search and suddenly,
this guy snapped. He said if he knew what to do, he wouldn't have asked. As a matter of fact, I knew the guy, but has never
seen the side of him when he blew up.To me, it was totally unecessary to show temper and throw tantrum. It just goes to show that the guy has no
class. Why get mad?Maybe it was a macho act, but I guess if you have no inclination as to how your action can actually
implicate you, guys as such are better left alone.The week ahead seems gloomy as the Xmas holidays approaches. I get a day off on Christmas and plan
to spend it with the dogs and my wife..

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Ruffwear Palisades and Approach dog backpacks

The kidz, flat out after an evening walk.. 
The dry run without load had turned out pretty okay.. 
My kidz with their new pack
The Coonster with her Ruffwear Approach pack
Sir Clifford McNaughty, last of the Polar Explorer wannabe and his new doggy backpack

My dreams to outfit our Siberian Huskies with dog backpacks were realised this morning. After patiently waiting for two years, the packs arrived with my wife from Melbourne, Australia.
We paid a premium for the items - one advanced and one intermediate backpack. After doing some extensive research, I narrowed it down to three backpack manufacturers from the US.
They were Mountainsmith, Kelty and Ruffwear. The last company, being a 100% dedicated producer of dog gear became my top choice.
Their packs - model Palisades (top-end with very high ratings) and the Approach (this one came up tops in the beginner category) were my picks. 
Each pack was sold at USD$49.95 (Approach) and USD$99.95 (Palisades). Since I didn't know anyone in the US who could ship it over to Malaysia, I made a deal with my wife to get it from abroad.
Three weeks ago, we decided to seal the deal with an on-line store in New South Wales in Australia to get the packs shipped from its location to Melbourne.
It arrived with all the stuff we've ordered plus some doggie treats thrown in. Michelle told me that she was blown away with the construction of the packs. 
We also ordered a set of leash to replace our ageing ones (it will be used as anchors).  When I fitted the packs, the kidz took an instant liking to it, especially Sir Clifford McNaughty - last of the Polar explorer wannabes. 
Our Coonkid on the other hand, resisted in the beginning, but after making some adjustments with, she too became naturally bonded with her new pack.
Naughty's Palisade's pack, which is one of the most advanced dog backpack ever made, came with a removeable harness. 
It also has a compartment with two hidration bladders. Since the Polar explorer is the strongest of the lot, he will be hauling some food and water in our trail workouts.
After a dry run at our own 1.5km circuit, I found that the front harness near the chest and shoulder area was too loose.
I made some adjustment by cutting the sewn seam and with this modification, it gave Naughty a snug fit.
This is the same with Queenie's Approach pack. Her  bag was a much simpler design. It came bare and offered two sleek and streamlined compartments to enable pooches to carry their own food and water.
I think a platypus collapsilbe canteen would suffice in place of a set of hydration bladder. 
The packs are made in the Philippines. I think it came from the same contract manufacturer who did the Camelbaks. 
Anyways, with the modifications made, our first trail will be the Gasing hill hike on Xmas, so, stay tuned!

Mrs Samo's back...

Mrs Samo at lunch.. 
Touchdown at home this morning.. 

I woke up at 6am this morning, barely could rub the booger off my eyes and a text message came in stating: "where r u?".
It was my wife and her flight had touched down in KLIA. I slipped on a shirt and drove off to the airport.
Took me about 20 minutes to get there and by the time I reached the arrival hall, she was already waiting. 
Didn't take long to load the baggage into my little car and before we knew it, we were back on the road.
We had breakfast in USJ 14, I treated her to a plate of char koay teow. After bathing the dogs and doing the first load of laundry, I took her for lunch at the Mid Valley Garden. 
The crowd was already swelling to a frenzy proportion at this mall. Lunch was great and we cruised past a few stores before settling home.
Michelle brought back two doggie backpacks for the kidz and plenty of knick-knacks including a trangia lid frying pan and a folding shovel for me. 
I was pleasantly suprised with some fresh cherries she brought home along with some Ozzie snacks.. Well, time flies. She was off to Australia for 10 days and before I knew it, its all over.. 

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Four years ago, today...

Michelle and I threw a dinner at the Petaling Jaya Hilton. We hosted more than 400 people - guests, friends and relatives. 
Our days of being single ended when we exchanged our wedding rings seven months earlier. 
I asked Michelle for her hand because she can put up with my shit. She accepted me as a flawed person. 
This was the part where she made a big sacrifice. I am blessed with a wonderful wife and a soulmate. 
For me, it was more than what I could ask for because she loves the outdoors, carries a multi-tool, wears a hard hat and is a very sensitive and caring person.
Any woman who can help me skin a civet cat, dress terrapins and cook it for lunch, prepare frog legs tempura is the perfect companion. I found that in Michelle. 
To date, we shared four years of marriage without any major bust-ups. We had our ups and downs, but are very civil enough to weed things out.
I love my wife very much for what she is. She never bugged me for shopping money, diamond rings, drag me to the make-up counter or attend glamour parties. 
So, here's to you my wifey! I lift my beer mug and toast to many-many happy years to come...