Thursday, December 31, 2009

2009 - the year that didn't suck..

The Samos in Vegas, September 2009

So, here we are, at the very last day of the year.
And what did I do?
Slog at work to see to it that there's news tomorrow.
That said, 2009 has been a solid year.
Done plenty of squid-jigging, actually went to the US and attended the USN Gathering in Vegas!
Job wise, things has been very smooth. No assholes breathing down my neck and uncooperative co-workers.
Making the switch from the NST to The Star was the best choice I've ever made in my career.
This year alone, there's really nothing much significant on the job other than my promotion.
I hope to maintain my course and am not putting any high hopes on what's in store.
As for family, things are also very smooth.
Not till the last month of the year that I lost my dad. May he rest in peace.
So, let's hope that 2010 would be a better year..

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

2009 - in restrospect - Knives and Tool

2009 has been a good year for me.

In restrospect, I received an average of one knife every two months.I planned the purchase of two Strider fixed blade knives and took delivery of them
sometime in the third quarter of the year.

Apart from that, there has been some regular shipment of production knives from
the US such as Spydercos and other brands.My benchmark knives are the Chris Reeve 'paw print' Sebenza and Umnumzaan -
scored just months apart.I guess in 2010, there will be 'lesser' tools and toys as preparations are being made for Blade in June and G2 in September.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The inevitable change..

AFTER 18 years, I guess its time to move forward with my photography.I hanged up my SLR camera for the last time back in 1995 and never looked back.Since then, I relied heavily on my Konica Hexar 35mm F2.0 rangefinder for most of
my work.Back in 2001, I progressed to the Canon Powershot G-1 compact digital camera.It was a bliss because if its state-of-the art features which made my job relatively
easy.From the G-1, I gradually upgraded to to G3, G7, G9 and G10. Seeing as it is, compact cameras, despite its high-end features -- are limited in
terms of optical clarity.With the recent introduction of the Canon EOS 7D Digital SLR, I guess its time to
move on.My mission is to record my family's activities including the dogs and use the EOS
7D as part of my work.There's much to be done with the acquisition process, but nevertheless, it shall be
on my hands in the months to come.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Our fifth wedding anniversary..

DECEMBER 19 marks five years on our wedding annivesary.I am very fortunate to have found Michelle as my soulmate and over the years,
she had put up a lot with me.We decided on sharing our life together after going out for two years. And so far, things have been really good cos we are nice with each other.That said, here's to more years to come cos Mrs Samo is one woman I want to
grow old with..

Thursday, December 17, 2009

CRK Umnumzaan

The Umnumzaan's glass breaker
I found the blade geometry to be excellent

The Sebbie and the Um

My CRK folders

WHEN Chris Reeve Knives announced that they are introducing a new folding
knife called the 'Umnumzaan' last year, I was the least excited.As a matter of fact,I have put off plans to get a CRK knife for some time. For me, there are many makers out there who built their knife as tough as a tank
and the CRKs appeared to me that they are more suited for a less-hostile
environment.That was until I visited the USN show in Vegas where I picked up a CRK Sebenza. The knife I wanted was a limited-run 'paw print' large Sebenza.Having owned a few framelock knives, I noticed that the CRK folder is built simple
and for years of use and abuse.My attention began to focus on the Umnumzaan and finally, after waiting for a
while, I scored one from Dan Delavan of Plaza Cutlery in California.Now, how does the Umnumzaan stack up compared to a Strider SMF? I'd say that the Umnumzaan is much more solid and has a less tactical appearance
than the SMF.Both are very solid knives which is also purpose built.What I like about the Umnuzaan is the fact that its made for general and utility
chores and can take a beating when the time comes.Many features on this tough folder are not found on the Sebenza.It has a thumbramp and its pivot design is out of this world.A perforated washer makes opening smooth with less need for lubrication.Howabout cutting ability?I've been carrying the Umnumzaan for nearly three weeks and so far, it held its
edge after much cutting.Every morning, I pop the plastic binder of a newpaper stack. Its an easy chore for
the Umnumzaan and frankly, it held up very well.I'll be bringing the knife for more of my field trips next year and hopefully, Plaza
Cutlery will release a 'paw print' Umnumzaan soon!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Cheong Ngie Wah (1936 - 2009)

I received a phonecall on late Saturday evening informing me about the inevitable.
My dad, Cheong Ngie Wah had passed away at the age of 73.
The only surviving member of the clan, my aunt Lorraine was shocked and confused.
My dad died in his sleep on early Saturday morning after a long bout with diabetes, hypertension and a bad heart.
As long as I can recall, my old man was a person who had his own idea of life and how things should be.
Eearlier, he lost his partner of 20 years and was left in the lurch.
I offered my home as his refuge, but he had declined.
Instead, he chose to live his remaining days on his own.
After a few failed attempts to resettle, dad finally signed up with a retirement home.
There, everything was taken care of.
A simple prayer ceremony was conducted for him followed by a cremation.
His ashes was scattered over a hilltop area.
During his final days, my old man said he didn't want to trouble anyone in his family.
His passing was a great loss to me personally.
I can say that during the days when I was out on a limb, my father gave me some very sound advice.
He told me to be proud of my craft and never to depend on other people.
This became my principle in which many of my personal achievements were met.
For what he is, God was with him during his final moments.
My dad didn't suffer as he passed away peacefully.
Travel well my father, you will be missed and God bless you.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Left 4 Dead 2

Zombie-killing just got better with the recently released 'Left 4 Dead 2'.I am barely moving through the first game which is also a big challenge due to its
strategic gameplay and fast-moving nature.Now, I am playing the L4D2 and I'm liking every single minute.It has more firepower, a large assortment of melee weapons such as the
chainsaw, katana, baseball bat and crow bar.Small arms such as a .50 Desert Eagle, glocks and some 9mms were also part of
the 'unlimited ammo' armory.What I love most, is the combat assault rifle that fires three round bursts and the
M-72 'thumper' grenade launcher.Since my system is linked via optical cable for audio, the experience is awesome!

Catching up with the past

Time catches on very quickly.I met an old friend recently. Someone I haven't seen or really had a conversation with for nearly 20 years.The guy who is in his mid-50s, had gone through a rough patch and somehow managed to pull through.He held up pretty okay on his own.There were little physical changes with the exception that he is already toothless.I can also see the mid-life crisis thing wearing in as he looked more like a wild man these days.The only thing that I can only recall over these years was the fact that he was one of my mentors. He taught me quite a bit when I was starting out as a photographer in the Press.I have since moved on with life and as usual, in a large gathering where 60% of the attendees were ex-staff from an organisation, there were bound to be plenty of ego-trips.I didn't have much to say as much of the events that were brought up from the past were insignificant.My participation in the get together was out of respect for the man and what I learned is the fact that there is no point gloating about the past.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Outing with the kidz

The kidz - striking a pose

My boss and the kidz

IT's been a soggy weekend and yesterday morning, we managed to take the kidz
out for a doggy event at the 1 Utama Central Park.As usual, Michelle and I had formed the habit of leaving our home early to the
fairground.Lucky for us, there were ample car parking lots at the park's facility.We walked the kidz and their backpacks and chilled out at our usual break area for
a McDonald's breakfast.During the event, we met up with some old friends from the Husky club and
exchanged notes.This year in particular, has been really quiet.The only gathering which we attended before this was the Dogathon at UPM in
Serdang.On the whole, things had turned out okay. We spent half the day there before heading home. The kidz are happy as they get
plenty of excercise as well as socialise with other pooches at the event.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Left 4 Dead

I've revived my Xbox 360 and found that its new user interface is upgradeable through its gaming software.
Recently, I bought 'LIPS', a music game which centres around singing.
It comes with a set of wireless microphones and downloadable add-ons such as album packs.
But my first concern was to get the Xbox Live connection re-instated.
This was achieved in the past with a Microsoft Live account registered in Singapore.
Jason Loh of Gamer's Hideout taught me this trick and it worked for a while.
In the past, the Xbox live access can only be made with a 3, 6 or 12-month pass.
My access has since lapsed, but I do have an Xbox account.
After tweaking with the wireless router, we're back in business.
So, lately, I bought the 'Left 4 Dead' game which came highly recommended by the guys from the Usual Suspect Network's Z.E.D.U. forums.
And yeah, this game kicks some serious ass and my favourite character is 'Bill', an older guy in a team of four 'Survivors'.
Well, so far so good!
I'm looking forward to 'Left 4 Dead 2' which was recently released..

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The season of giving..

Its easy to take and giving is always the hard part.This year marks the fifth year in my rural people outreach programme.I contribute tools to farmers and teachers - mostly indigenous folks living in the outskirts.And over a period of time, I've been very fortunate to receive sponsorship from companies like Spyderco in the US who generously donated some knives and accessories.For 2009, they have given two care packages.The latest is a batch of Byrd knives which I had handed over to teacher Mr James Lias from Mukah, Sarawak.He will then select a handulf of recipients from the interior of Malaysia's Borneo.Lias told me that he would document the whole process for my assessment report to my sponsors.I am glad to have met such an honourable man like him who had generously spare some of his time to realise this project.Hopefully, the care packages would be delivered in time for Christmas.

Kill number 4

The dogs had killed again.

This time, it was a kitten.

It has been entering our home and had left its scent in the kitchen area.

My guess is that the cat was scavenging for food and found a place to hangout at the back of the house.

This morning, the dogs picked up a strong scent and before I knew it, the Coonkid had caught it and Naughty worked on it as both went in for the kill.

They took the cat out to the front yard and the rest was history.

This is cat number four on their kill list.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The waiting game..

I received a phone call from a private number yesterday.Since most of them are fraud or some direct-selling telephony, I ignored it the first
time.Then,the cell rang again and this time,there was a voice asking: "Mr Sam? I am
calling from HP.."That was the phone call that would seal the deal between me Hewlett Packard
Malaysia through their Public Relations company on a purchase scheme for the
mini 5101. I can save RM299 for this netbook.But with every special media purchas scheme, there are some catch.First, I have to give my credit card info through the phone. This is a no-no.Then, when asked, I was told that I can bank-in the sum for the purchase to a bank
account. And I thought that would be a viable option.The guy told me that its standard operations procedure for HP to deliver the
netbook to me in 14 days.What the fuck?I told him that I'd think about it before making any commitment and emailed the PR
executive to tell her my reservations. The deal is off.Why? Since Christmas is just a month away, there are many offers for products
such as HP's netbook.Yes, I am interested in it and I've already sold my mini-1000.My money is parked in the bank, ready to roll when needed.Now, why the fuck would I want to save RM299 when there are no extras thrown
in? The HP media scheme does not cover any RAM upgrade, accessories and
Windows 7 redemption.So, rather than jumping straight into this deal, I'll just sit back and wait.December is three weeks away and I am sure that there are plenty of surprises in
store.After all, the RM299 savings is no big deal.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Air travel : Singapore

My hotel in Keong Saik road, Chinatown

The cheap flight..

Its been donkey years since I took a flight down to Singapore.
Usually, it takes about 45-minutes to get to this island republic, but the hassles of checking-in, security clearance and waiting to board can chalk up some time.
I was in Singapore for a short business meeting and took the opportunity to meet up with some friends before heading back the next day.
With an exchange rate of RM2.5 to one Singapore Dollar, the cost to visit this country is now getting prohibitive.
But there's a lot to catch up and time isn't really on my side.
I guess the flight to Singapore wraps up my trip quota to the island republic this year...

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

CRK Umnumzaan

I think I'm going nuts over Chris Reeve's Umnumzaan (um-num-zahn) [Zulu]Sir; Mister; Boss (colloq.) folding knife.It took Mr Reeves nearly 20 years to develop this edged tool and having tried and
tested his large decorated Sebenza, I'd say that the Umnumzaan is the next step.So, I am looking at a possible early Xmas gift for myself. Well, it sucks to be a
knifenut cos people tend to give you stupid gifts on your birthday and wedding
anniversary.The Umnumzaan itself yield plenty of features for everyday carry and robust field
use.Its incorporated with a glass breaker with a solid textured grip on its titanium
handles.And having the S-30V steel as its standard blade material is a blessing for our hot
and humid Malaysian weather.I asked Dan Delavan of Plaza Cutlery if Chris Reeve is planning to make a small
run of Umnumzaans with a decorative doggy paw logo and his answer is a definite
'no' at the moment.Decorated versions of this knife is expected to be released sometime next year
and as it is, the Umnumzaans are already out of stock at dealers in the US.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Adventure Show Asia 2009

The show has been on for three days since last weekend.
Its the last day and well, I am least excited about it.
Had to catch up with an old buddy from Singapore and we've been entertaining him since Friday.
The show was so-so.
Nothing really new on my radar with the exception of some fishing kayaks and canoes offered by Corezone outfitters.
One of the highlights at the show was meeting up with my old college mate Simon Chua.
He now runs a surfing school in Cherating and Padang, Indonesia.
Other than that, there's really nothing much happening at the so-called 'premier' outdoor show in Asia..

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Verbal diarrhea

One of the traits that I have failed to excel is in the field of Public Relations.
I suck at that.
And today, I was tested.
Sufian, an old buddy of mine had invited me over to his parent's home in Bukit Damansara for their open house.
For me, its an excellent opportunity to catch up and basically touch base with an old friend.
Now, little did I know, the party was packed with high-powered folks.
Since I don't like to mingle and rub shoulders with rich folks, I decided to park myself at an obscure corner.
Then came Sufian's relative Azam, whom I have never met.
The guy was chatty and drew a good first impression.
Slowly, but surely the table was getting filled with guests.
An elderly man came and joined in the conversation and the next guy Sufian had introduced, was a middle-aged Chinese man who was introduced as 'Chong'.
We engaged in small talk and the first thing I noticed was that the guy was second-guessing every sentence I made during the conversation.
I never tell strangers what I do for a living, so, at most times, I was spared from much agony from taking questions and answers.
Over the years, mainstream journalism had taken a hit from the educated lot.
The extreme elite and blaming everything they could see on plain sight, right down the smallest molecule for the country's failure in many aspects.
They are read, write, express and are opinionated on many things.
Things that I felt, are too petty even to discuss.
And this Chong guy was whining and ranting about local politics, global economy and so on.
From a conversation, the entire situation was turned into a monologue.
It ruined the great meal I had and was wearing me out.
Listening to a middle-aged guy rant about things that are factually incorrect is like being tortured with a hot iron skewer.
Sufian was doing his bid, entertaining guests, so, I couldn't blame him for setting me up with a 51-year-old educated retard.
From my point of view, overeducated people who made money as 'fund managers' are simply retarted in thinking.
All they could think of -- is taking advantage of the political and economical climate to earn a few extra bucks.
And when they don't get their money, they start the 'blame game'.
Everything is wrong. They are right.
To me, I don't give a blue fuck about politics, money and fame.
Neither do I pay any attention to successful people or the who's who in the circle.
My day at the party ended with thanking Sufian for being an excellent host.
I apologized to him for being an ass.
While Chong was blabbering like a retard, I told him off.
I asked him to shut the fuck up because I hate talking about politics.
And I don't have to feel bad about this because I am not obligated to listen to morons.
So, after two hours at the high-powered lunch party, I made my way home.
It was a relief to be able to walk off without any guilt or hard feelings.
So, note to self: before going for another social party, screen the situation and when a guest starts to give verbal diarrhea, fake a stomach ache or tell him your relative just died..

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The vending machine

Japanese Hotel Service
A Canadian salesman checked into a futuristic hotel in Tokyo Japan ..
Realizing he needed a haircut before the next day's meeting, he called down to the desk clerk to ask if there was a barber on the premises.
'I'm afraid not, sir,' the clerk told him apologetically, 'but down the hall from your room is a vending machine that should serve your purposes.'
Skeptical but intrigued, the salesman located the machine, inserted $15.00, and stuck his head into the opening, at which time the machine started to buzz and whirl. Fifteen seconds later the salesman pulled out his head and surveyed his reflection, which reflected the best haircut of his life.
Two feet away was another machine with a sign that read, 'Manicures, $20.00'.. 'Why not?' thought the salesman. He paid the money, inserted his hands into the slot, and the machine started to buzz and whirl. Fifteen seconds later he pulled out his hands and they were perfectly manicured.
The next machine had a sign that read, 'This Machine Provides a Service Men Need When Away from Their Wives, 50 Cents.'
The salesman looked both ways, put fifty cents in the machine, unzipped his fly, and with some anticipation, stuck his manhood into the opening. When the machine started buzzing, the guy let out a shriek of agony and almost passed out. Fifteen seconds later it shut off.
With trembling hands, the salesman was able to withdraw his tender unit......which now had a button sewn neatly on the end..

Thursday, September 24, 2009


Toyota makes good cars.
My family had owned a few through the years and with the lingering recession and inflation, I can never afford a car by this manufacturer.
Through time, Toyota became the top car producer in the region including Malaysia.And with any successful Asian companies that are right there on the top, the people who contributed to this phenomenon also ride on its achievements.
Hence, the bragging rights that yields some really ugly traits such as attitude and arrogance.
With the economic climate, Toyota managed to ride it through and remained as the country's top car dealership.
I recently took a trip to one of their showrooms and made some enquiry about their 2010 model Camry.
While I was there, I stood there like a fool about 15-minutes.
A salesman walked up to me and asked if I need any assistance. I said: "How much is the new Camry?"
His response was: "Oh, sorry, we are fully booked. There are no more cars left.."
Without saying a word, I just turned around and walked out of the showroom.
I guess this also implies that the salesman was not interested in taking questions.
And for a car that is worth roughly about RM60K, we are paying way over our heads just to ride the hype.

That said, if the retarded salesman is out on the street wondering why, I won't feel sympathetic for him. You get what you give.

My conclusion on this is that most salesman are retarded and the only thing that motivates them are commission and perks.

When reality sets, its not easy to take money out of the hands of a wise consumer.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Project fatso

I went to the doctor today for my monthly prescription.The blood pressure reading was off the charts. My doctor told me that regardless of external factors, the medication should be
stablizing my BP readings.So, he put me on some new drugs and ordered a follow-up in two week's time.That said, the only thing to do right now, is to shed the fat."Sweat all the salt out," he said.Since we had a great time in the US, overindulge with food and all the good stuff,
its time to give back the body its dues and bring back our physical shape to its
prime condition.Easier said than done, I guess that'll be our challenge for the months to come
before the year comes to a close...


A model posing with the camera during the GF-1 launch..

I've been trying to get hold of Panasonic's customer service for two days.Finally, after ringing their number a coupla times, I managed to get hold of them
today.My mission was to enquire about the Lumix DMC GF-1 digital camera. They had a
splashy launch with the product some weeks back and seeing as it is, the goods
might have been sold on the shelves.I've checked with the dealers without any luck and made the call to Panasonic's
customer service for more details.A voice on the other end asked for my phone number and I gave them a fake one
because I don't want telemarketeers to bug me.And when I laid down the question, the customer service consultant said: "I cannot
help you because we don't have any details on this product."But I know for a fact that we have publicised it on the newspaper and advertised it
as well."The response had put me off and for a customer service hotline, my first
impression is that Panasonic is being runned by a bunch of morons.So, that said, I might as well hunker in with the rest and wait for the GF-1 to hit the

Chris Reeve Sebenza

The CRK Large Sebenza with doggy paw print

Michelle browsing through Plaza Cutlery's table at the USN show in Las Vegas

IT took me more than 12 years to finally sink my paws on a Chris Reeve Sebenza
folding knife.I found Mr Reeve's knives to be plain and functional and my first CRK was a
Shadow III survival knife. It has a hollowed handle and was a trade I made with another knifenut from the
United States.I've been keeping the Shadow for more than five years and had been putting off
the intention of acquiring a Sebenza for a long time.Not until my visit to Las Vegas recently that I kinda rekindled my interest with the
knife.And this one was very special because its a limited-edition 'doggy paw print' large
Sebenza offered by Dan Delavan of Plaza Cutlery.I think its been around for almost two years and since I don't have access to
acquiring the knife, the visit to USN's Gathering in early September kinda sealed
the deal.The paw print Sebenza was high on my want list and when I handled it at the show,
it immediately dawned on me that this was the knife that I have been searching for.Sebenzas are highly reliable for its sturdy construction and simplicity to operate in
any given conditions.Its also a subtle gent's knife that fits any occassion. And given the special price that Dan of Plaza Cutlery had offered, I took the plunge
by acquiring the folder.Michelle also helped by chipping-in some funds.The paw print Sebenza is dedicated to Sir Naughty, my four-year-old Siberian
Husky and is now my current everyday carry folder.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

LaLa and his publicist..

I first came to know about a seafood makan place in Subang called 'LaLa Chong'
more than nine years ago.Its a small and cosy outlet that serves some really good dishes and at the time
when this eatery was up and coming, prices were reasonable.The owner, who calls himself LaLa (razor clam in Cantonese), was introduced to
me by my fishing buddy Ah Pan.I wrote a piece about the place and patronised it for some time. Until recently, an interesting email had surfaced on our server.This time, LaLa has his own publicist.And the person behind the write-up was no other than a disgraced Editor who was
the third most powerful man in the oldest newspaper in this country.I learned that the said person had gained some inroads into LaLa's good books. They became fishing and golfing buddies and due to the nature of their good
relationship, LaLa Chong is now a sponsor of a golfing tournament.The seafood towkay had made it. I once told him that he should be wary of the snakes and crocodiles that surround
him and that they are there only for the good times.But again, people would only learn when its too late.I guess that for all the free food and beers, the publicist had decided to mobilise
his contacts in the media to inform the public of LaLa's new outlet.And the signature mark of this disgraced ex-Editor was to ask for a byline for his
rehashed efforts.I have nothing against LaLa. Just fear that somehow, he's being exploited.He's a good natured guy, naive at most times and seeing as it is, the truth hurts as
he is being surrounded by fake people who are taking advantage of his

Some new four-thirds..

Pretty retarded: the Olympus Pen EP-1

Panasonic's challenge: the GF-1 four-third system camera

The advancements in digital photography hardware amazes me.Its the pace where new toys are being churned out every quarter that raises my
eyebrows.Recently, Panasonic announced their latest four-third camera with interchangeable
lenses - the GF-1.No price point was given and my conservative estimate for this is around RM3.9K
or more.Here in Malaysia, the electronics manufacturer announced the GF-1 during a
media launch.None of their products are readily available at retail stores and word had it that the
first batch of these cameras are sold out before they hit the shelves!Talk about economic downturn, photography enthusiasts sure have some spending
power.My first Panasonic Camera was the Lumix L-1. It was compact camera which I
had loaned to one of our cameraman when I was posted to Johor. He lost the battery charger and assumed ownership of it after I made it clear that
he was completely unreliable when it comes to handling other people's stuff.And I don't have a really good first impression of the camera. Its user-interface
sucks.I can't say much about the GF-1 which has come a long way. Its closest rival is
the Olympus Pen EP-1.Which in my opinion, is a retarded camera. I handled this one and was not
impressed with its layout and styling at all.Worse still, its price point is higher than an entry-level Digital SLR camera.I can only wish Olympus the best because I don't think this camera has what it
takes to sell.As for the GF-1, one of its unique selling point is the Leica lenses. This is
something that I would watch closely in the months to come...

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Now, back to the crunch..

Yeah, the holiday's over..
Been more than two weeks since I am out of the loop and tomorrow is the day.
Thankfully, it's still a public holiday here in this part of the world, so, no need to join the morning rush to the office.
I anticipate a slow day unless something big breaks.
First thing in order, is to clean up the mess on my desk.
Someone has been using my terminal to work and last time I've seen it, there were paper scraps all over.
Its gonna a week of work before the month of September ends, so, technically-speaking, I have about six or seven days of work to endure.
Otherwise, it has been a good month. All rested and ready to face the last quarter of the year..

Friday, September 11, 2009

Off to Los Angeles

Been more than a week since we've hit the US and its time to head for the last leg of our journey.
We've gone without internet connection for the past two days.
So, there's much to catch up.
The journey to LA will take about an hour and we are expected to get there by the evening.
We'll spend three days and two nights there before heading back to KL.
I really missed the kidz...

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Grand Canyon

Its been a week since we left KL for the US.
We missed the kids and are in the last leg of our tour of the Southwest and the Grand Canyon was awesome.
I had no idea this place was near to Pheonix, Arizona.
Anyways, the drive from Las Vegas to Tusayan, one of the small towns outside the Grand Canyon was rather tiring.
Not only that, on the way in, we've got pulled over by a trooper for driving into the white lines.
That was never an issue back in KL, but here in the US, it can be a serious thing.
Michelle was issued a warning and the second time we got pulled over by the officer, well, we were told to drive faster.
At this point, something funny had happened.
I told the officer that his fly was open.
Jokes aside, we spent the first night in Tusayan with a good steak dinner at the Yippee-ai-eo restaurant.
On our second day, we went to the Grand Canyon and did some light hike on the rim trail.
There's lots to see and that said, we spent the entire day in the location.
Today, we went to the Cedar Ridge hike, something that Michelle had planned.
We spent four hours on the hike and later proceeded to the Desert View and the Tusayan museum.
Our day ended with the screening of 'Grand Canyon's hidden secrets' at the IMAX theatre in the National Geographic's visitor centre.
Tomorrow, its gonna be a long drive back to Las Vegas where we will spend two more days there..

Saturday, September 5, 2009

An awesome time in Vegas

Its been four days since we've arrived in Vegas and man, its awesome!
I had the privilage of meeting some of the finest people in the world and their sincerity and hospitality made me felt right at home.
Although we missed our kidz, the good vibes and awesome company kept us from being homesick.
We might have missed the first day of the show, there's a lot to catch up today and we hope to round it out as much as we can.
On Sunday, we leave immediately for the Grand Canyon which will be a five-hour drive.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Sin City

There's really no fun in long-haul excursions especially when you have to travel to another continent with a different time zone.
Yeah, we spent more than 18 hours on flights and transfers and finally, on Sept 2, we've arrived in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Its been nearly 10 years since I last set foot in US soil and I must say that some things have changed.
Now, the Border Security would take finger prints and snap a mugshot when you arrive at LAX and when we boarded a flight to Vegas, we have to take off our shoes, get the laptops scanned and a jimbang of things.
And the waiting part can be frustrating. I'm glad that Michelle had planned it so well. Everything was seamless from the moment we boarded in KLIA right to the LAX tranfer to LVA.
There's so much to do in Vegas and so little time, so, we are going to make the best out of it..

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The journey begins

Michelle and I barely slept.
In anticipation of the long journey ahead, we planned out many things.
The kidz managed to get their walk in the early hours of the morning while we sort out the need to dos and chores by our in-laws who generously volunteered to look after our homes for two weeks.
By far, the Vegas trip is the longest vacation we are going to have in so many years.
Our kidz did sense that something was brewing, but with some coaxing and some treats, they kinda settled in well.
Two bones was what it takes to divert their attention.
We checked-in early at the KLIA and Michelle secured a place to chill out at the MAS lounge.
Since everything is on the house, we don't have to spend a single cent.
Boarding is at 09:40am, so, we have some time to kill.
Loading pix onto the internet, updating the blog as well as forums will occupy most of our time at the lounge.
First up, the flight to Taipei where we transit and the rest of the journey will be to LAX in California.

The long haul..

The day is coming to an end as I am speaking.
Earlier, I went around doing my personal chores like banking and getting treats for the kids.
High on my priority list -- are souvenirs and foodstuff that I have to lug across the pond.
One of the suspects asked if I can get her some local coins.
I took the task one step further by getting collectibles.
Apart from that, I bought some pewter keychains and a couple of ornaments for the guys when I meet them in Vegas.
Tomorrow, we have to check-in at the KLIA at 7am and board the flight to Los Angeles at 09:40am.
It will take more than 18 hours to get across the pacific to reach the US West Coast.
I felt heavy hearted to leave the kidz behind for two weeks.
My hope is that they can hold on till we come back.
It took us more than a year to pull this off and hopefully, we'll have a good break..

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Our kidz and their hiking trip

One thing I love about feature stories is that they are timeless.
We went for a hike at Broga some months back and the first thing I did was write a piece on the experience.
It was supposed to be published for a travel column, but it didn't took off due to lack of enthusiasm and response.
So, after some deliberation, I decided to get it published once and for all.
I don't know if its out in today's Central edition of the Starmetro, because I couldn't locate the story on-line.
Maybe its because of the fasting month that the on-line folks would not want to use a story about hiking dogs.
Nevertheless, I've got this one out of my chest.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

A case of dyslexia...

Sometimes, even the most experienced set of eyes can actually miss out on an optical trick.
Just switch two alphabets together and a word takes an entirely different meaning.
Well, I guess I am to be blamed for carelessness.
I wrote a piece on farmer Wong and his achievement which was published a coupla days ago.
The story was fine, but there were some blaring mistakes.
The abbreviation given for Good Agricultural Practise was GAP.
But I maintained it as GPA throughout the whole passage.
Only the last mention was correct.
I may have typed GPA but the mind registered it as 'GAP'.
Shit happens. And this time, its right on my face...
Moral of the story: check, double check and check again before sending in the story..

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

oh! oh!

KUALA LUMPUR: Newspaper vendors here lodged a police report against an English language tabloid for naming several MIC figures as “low caste” Indians in an article.
Several MIC Youth members have also lodged reports against the newspaper while an MIC Youth delegation submitted a memorandum of protest to the newspaper yesterday.
Selangor and Federal Territories News Vendors Association president Datuk N. Muneandy, accompanied by vendors, lodged a report at the Brickfields police station yesterday.
The association demanded an apology from the newsaper and pressed for the writer to be sacked. He said the report had hurt the integrity of the Malaysian Tamil community and tarnished the individuals’ pride.
“The word is very insulting and is taboo among Indians. The writer clearly does not know anything about being Tamil. It is unnecessary (to state the candidates’ castes). Here, we are talking about 1Malaysia. We don’t encourage and practise the caste system here,” he said.
“Calling someone ‘pariah’ is too much. In India, you would be jailed for 10 years for using that term on someone,” he said.
The association stopped distributing the newspaper from yesterday and will continue to do so until an apology is made, Muneandy said.
In the article headlined ‘MIC battles caste politics’, the newspaper wrote about caste issues in the coming MIC election and revealed the castes that several leaders belonged to, with their names and pictures published.
It mentioned the Devar, Mudaliar, Kongu Gounder, Chettiar and Pariah castes. Muneandy denied that he had any political agenda, adding that the association viewed the naming of individuals as “pariahs” as a form of personal attack.
MIC president Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu, in a statement, said the party was investigating certain party leaders following the article. He said the party was also probing their involvement with “outside forces” namely some businessmen who had harboured ill-intentions against it.
He added that the MIC wanted the Home Ministry to take action against the paper for publishing the caste issue.

One thing I learned from journalism is responsible reporting.If you incite hatred through your writing, you are to blame for the reprecussions.The race card has long been used as a yardstick in bad reporting and a recent
article from the country's oldest tabloid was no exception.How did the Editor allow the usage of the word "pariah" without questioning its
implications? Similarly, some years back, a writer from the oldest newspaper in the country
quoted a Portuguese decendant in Malacca as saying: "We were the bastards
they left behind.."This prompted the people of the Portuguese settlement in Ujong Pasir to throw a fit
and blurted out some really unpleasant words.Damage control had to be done and two Editors were rushed down to Malacca on
New Year's eve to resolve the issue.Apologies accepted, but the damage has been done.You cannot retract what you have printed out beause it goes down in history.The said writer is still going about her business and her Editor has since been
promoted to do bigger things in the corporation.What is questionable here -- is the integrity of the writer.Way I see it, if you put someone without any journalistic experience to the fore,
these are the lashbacks that you will have to face.In the case of the tabliod writer who is now facing the fire, even the most
experience person can make mistakes.But labelling a bunch of people from a political party as "pariah" is something that
is beyond redemption.The guy who wrote it may have taken a swipe at the party, but it backfired. In the days to come, its a matter of who's head is going to roll.Having read the situation, I think the writer would have to go. For good.

The floor plan...

With six days left to the USN Gathering, I am really looking forward to my second
knifeshow in the US.I first attended one of such event at the New York Custom Knife show in NYC
some nine years ago.It was an eye-opening experience and now that I've come to appreciate knives
even more, the USN Gathering would be a real treat.Larry Brahms who had done an excellent job of putting up the show and the floor
plan has been laid.I think I am going to spend a great deal of time in Planet Hollywood checking out
exhibitors like Ernest Emerson of Emerson knives, the TADgear booth and the
Striderguys who are participating there.Back at the NYCKS, I met Emerson in person and purchased a knife from him. He
is one of the nicest knifemaker I've met.As for the Striderguys, I first saw their knives at NYC during the same show. At
that time, I wasn't impressed at what they had to offer.Most of their blades are meant for military use and what got me hooked, was their
assurance to quality.The knives are waranteed unconditionally. At the Strider booth, there is one folding knife that I am eagerly anticipating. Its the
Framelock AR which is said to be a talk of the show.Apart from knives, there are also gear people who are going to showcase their
goods in Vegas.Some of the guys that I am rather excited to meet at the TADguys.I've been using some of their goods for a while and since the whole jimbang is at
the Gathering..

Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Gathering

One more week to go.

That's how fast time flies as we prepare ourselves for the extra long haul to Los
Angeles where we will transit to Las Vegas.Michelle had booked our stay in LA as the last leg of the US tour.

And on the USN Gathering which we are attending for the first time, organiser Eric
Blair said all 450 rooms that were part of the contractual obligation for the event
was fully booked.

I am pretty excited and am looking forward to meet some old acquaintances and
friends such as knife designer Liong Mah from NYC whom I last saw some nine
years ago in New York.

Also on the list, is Dave Abrams @ Lifter, the Mayor of the USN, the Blairs, Tom
Krein, Tom Mayo and a long list of Suspects who helped out in co-sponsoring my
trip and members of the USN nation.

The Gathering

One more week to go.

That's how fast time flies as we prepare ourselves for the extra long haul to Los
Angeles where we will transit to Las Vegas.Michelle had booked our stay in LA as the last leg of the US tour.

And on the USN Gathering which we are attending for the first time, organiser Eric
Blair said all 450 rooms that were part of the contractual obligation for the event
was fully booked.

I am pretty excited and am looking forward to meet some old acquaintances and
friends such as knife designer Liong Mah from NYC whom I last saw some nine
years ago in New York.

Also on the list, is Dave Abrams @ Lifter, the Mayor of the USN, the Blairs, Tom
Krein, Tom Mayo and a long list of Suspects who helped out in co-sponsoring my
trip and members of the USN nation.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Canon Powershot G11

The swivelling screen is a winner!

Canon keeps it coming with some big surprises.
Recently, they've announced the introduction of their flagship compact digital camera the G11.
This will succeed Canon's award-winning powershot G10 and boasts of a host of features found only in high-end compact cameras.One of it is a rotating LCD screen which was a standard feature in the powershot G1.
From the G6 models onwards, the screen was fixed.So, I guess there has been a lot of pressure on the company's design team to further improve the G10 platform.
I have been using their present model for three months and found its power management system a winner.Its much better than previous models and plenty more is expected out of the G11.
Well, hopefully, by next year, I would be able to fiddle around with the new powershot!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Number 3

I was about to take out the laundry to dry and heard a commotion at the backyard.
Mrs Samo wanted to get some Pandan leaves and as the door opened, our kidz started to lunge at the plant.
My boy caught hold of a stray cat by its ass and the girl finished it off.
They took turn to brutalise the cat and all my wife could do - was watch.
After five minutes, I picked up the lifeless carcass of the stray cat and disposed it.
It was the third casualty this year.
The girl did most of the work, stalking and hunting and ultimately, killing her prey with clockwork precision.
Today, it was the boy's first kill.
Our neighbour saw everything and as for stray cats, I don't think its a wise idea to sleep, eat and poop in the yard cos the Huskies aren't gonna be pleased..

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The scent of death..

Sunday was a fine day for us.
But not to some friends who lost their dogs.
Two Huskies were stolen and one died of overheating.
I don't have the full details but having studied the situation, the death could have been prevented.
Dogs with double coat are vulnerable to the heat and it is a known fact that prolonged exposure to the sun and mid-day heat could complicate things.
And at the first place, is the pooch fit enough to go through such an extreme condition?
The circumstance that surrounds its deteriorated condition and untimely death could be related to acclimatisation and negligence.
When we take our pooches out, we carry plenty of water and place them in shaded areas under the hot sun.
This helps to cool them off and prevent overheating.
They are also never overexerted in the hot sun.
As for timing, I never let my pooches stay too long in the heat. When its time to go, its time to go.
What also puzzled me was how the owners reacted under stress.
The fair ground where the Dogathon was held was a veterinary school. Why didn't they seek help from the vets on the scene?
Its strange because that would be the first response.
Right now, I can only speculate. Much of the truth is yet to be heard..

This year, so far..

Four more months to go and the year is over.
Right now, in the third quarter, things are really heating up.
I just got word from my co-workers that the food company that took up a logo buy in my column may just pull the plug.
There are many issues that adds up and one of them was commitment.
As far as work is concerned, I have delivered my end of the bargain by fulfilling my obligations on the editorial part.
And to take it a step forward, I have also crossed the line by offering my services to the sponsor as a coordinator for the promotion.
For the last five months, I have been arranging for the winners to receive their prizes and have their photo taken.
Just this once, I requested my colleagues in another department to help out and the sponsor had shown his ugly side.
Personal feelings aside, I knew that there was more to just lending editorial support to the food company.
They wanted more but I told them off.
What made matters worse, is that the task to hand out gift vouchers and products was handled by only one person - the company's product manager.
I told him that for this month, the prize presentation had to take place without my presence.
I made that very clear due to my work commitment and hectic schedule. And that for one occassion, I cannot make it.
But the company's representative decided not to go ahead and insisted that I be there for the function.
This led to a showdown with another colleague of mine from the ad department. We laid the cards on the table and its obvious that the ball is on the sponsor's court.
So, to diffuse the situation, I had to make an appearance on Friday to seal the deal.
A decision may be reached on whether to pull the plug or go ahead.
I have taken this so far and have nothing to lose because I had done my part flawlessly.
So, its a matter of who bugs out first.
As far as the Food Trail column is concerned, it can go without the hassle of having a demanding sponsor.
Commercialism, as I see it, has plenty of flaws. You can please everybody all the time..

The dark truth about salesmen

Good salesmanship is a dying trait.Which is why on-line trade has thrived over the years and its popularity is growing
globally.A recent visit to an electrical shop in Petaling Jaya's SS2 supported my claim.I was there to buy a piece of battery for my SDHC video camera. The brand that
the shop supports, is Panasonic.In Malaysia, this is multi-million Ringgit industry that is dictated by trend.My in-laws seems to have plenty of confidence at the shop's main outlet called
'Tong Kong' in SS3, Petaling Jaya.The place I visited was merely a branch managed by a guy who goes by the name
of 'David Tan'.I guess this was the same dude with the balding head who manned the counter
with an attitude.When I got there, I headed straight to a salesgirl and asked her about the
Panasonic SW-21 camcorder. Her reaction was a blank face and when I asked if
they have batteries sold as seperate accessories, and to get a clearer picture,
she referred to her boss. I can see his disgusted face from a distance, perhaps a no-sale issue is lingering
in the air.The owner told me that the store offers no discounts and that everything was sold
at a fixed price.What puzzled me was the discounts they gave and this particular store has the
reputation of charging fair prices.Not when I was there. He told me that batteries need to be ordered and it takes
about three days for the stock arrive.In my opinion, maybe walk-in customers who are not dressed to kill should not be
entertained.Salesmen it seems, has the knack to have double-standards.With an attitude like that, I won't be surprised to see the shop wind up.David Tan could as well be a statistic in failed businesses. So fuck him!After the episode with Tong Kong, I went across the street to ESH, another
electrical store.I asked about the same thing and what I got, was the runaround. This goes to say that the sales and service qualities in outlets as such has gone to the dogs.Way I see it, if they blame other factors for non-performance and poor sales, it all
points back to them for their own misgivings.