Thursday, April 30, 2009


Check out the specs on the right

The article

It keeps you on your feet and when you least expect it, someone ahead or behind you will sneak up with plenty of surprises in their bag of tricks.
Well, it seems that the competition to get some good food stories has heated up a bit.
First, there's the Sunday Metro folks who started out doing street food. They were good at it, but I guess as a rule of thumb, sustainability became an issue.
This was discussed at large among the top honchos on streamlining our coverage on food. So, from now on, no more plugging for joints that don't advertise.
There are some good points in this but as a blanket statement, it affects all those who are directly involved in food writing.
While most food writers consider themselves as 'foodies', I don't see myself in their league. Technically speaking, I am just an overweight guy who loves to eat.
Now, on the other side of the rainbow, our competitor has revived their street food page. Something which I started there two years ago and was put to death because of 'pork' issues. Fuck them anyway! So, to keep abreast on what is going on, I flipped through the pages of 'Streets' this morning.
And on the centrespread, I found a write-up on Shin Kee beef noodles. Now the writer had sarcastically made a mention about bloggers and reviews and well, being broad minded, I
ingored the sentiments.
But after going through a few paragraphs, it read as half-assed article. Why? It was done with a 'know-it-all' attitude. And to me that's not the way to approach a story.
And the best part is this: an old friend wrote the story. The giveaway sign was a pair of spectacles on one of the photographs.
Over the years, we've competed. Who eats and travels the most. And this dude also raised the stake by claiming that he knew plenty about knives.
Due credit must be given, but when you amassed a collection based on cheap junk and entry-level production knives, someone is bound to overtake you.
This is apparent when I visited a factory in the US and attended a knife show. To rub salt into the wound, I generously gave him some knife schwag.
I don't mean no disrespect, but his photography sucks. You give good equipment to a guy who knows next to nothing when it comes to operating them, you get no results.
Anyways, since Streets had raised the ante, I should keep vigil on their progress and coverage. On another note, the pullout has also introduced some of their columnist and one of them, was an asshole who gave me a hard time when they set up the Malaysian Bladeforums.
Over a none issue, my admin privileges was yanked away. I pulled out of the domain and set up my own and never looked back ever since.
Well, that said and with a big responsibility to shoulder, I'll have to innovate and work harder towards achieving my goals for this year.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Mid week blues..

I've had a good five-day break from work and now, its back to the crunch.Been getting some positive vibes on the Food Trail V2.0 rollout after presenting some prizes to our monthly
contest winner.Later, I met up with an old buddy and talked about the passing of our former training manager M A Razman. He
was 60 and died in his sleep. To me, this was the man who is responsible for honing my journalistic skills. Without his guidance, I might as well
be a mediocre reporter.Rest in peace and travel well my friend. As for the weekend, we spent some quality time at the farm with our
dogs. Michelle had a good break too and is wondering if she should proceed to the US when the swine flu was
declared as an epidemic.With just two days away from May and squid season, I am hoping for a smooth month. Seems that there's plenty
on my plate, so, the next course of action, is to dig in and prepare for some damage control.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Mike Spangler's EDCzilla!

The finished knife

Work in progress

I contacted Michael Spangler a couple of months ago when he showcased an unusual design of his on the
Custom knifemaker's forum on the USN.His simple utilitarian piece attracted my interest and after revising the dimensions and specifications, Mike went
to work and whipped out a large EDC fixed blade.It took him a month to complete my order and well, since Mike has so many things on his hand, family came first.
His wife had just delivered, so, my EDCzilla fixed blade was delayed.Nevertheless, after a coupla emails - he sent it out via mail and it landed at my office. First off, I found that the
design is very practical. It has a straight handle and I insisted for the knife's blade geometry to be configured as a drop point. This is a
proven field design.Initially, the EDC was a small knife. I had it scaled up to a 4.5" blade and the overall length of the revised design
is 10". So, the final configuration is such, that its now a big knife. Love its sleek appearance and solid handles. I had
green micarta slabs fitted on it to give it an 'organic' feel.To weather the humid conditions here, the 154CM steel is used to fabricate this blade. A tube is added on the
handles for a landyard to be fitted. I like that too.Mike fashioned the knife's sheath with kydex. I think some more work is needed here. So, the attention to detail
is slightly lacking. But I cannot fault the maker because of his hectic schedule. The fact to the matter is that this budding knifemaker
is willing to fill my order and ship it out - I am very satisfied.In the months to come, I will take it out on my jungle walk and have it tested as a survival knife. Maybe the straight
handles is something on this knife most conservative knifenut would frown at, to me, it fits well with my criteria
which is: simple and practical.


Here are seven reasons why you should think before you speak -the last one is great!Have you ever spoken and wished that you couldimmediately take the words back...Here are the Testimonials of a few people who did....

1st TESTIMONY:I walked into a hair salon with my husband and three kids in towand asked loudly,'How much do you charge for a shampoo and a blow job?'I turned around and walked back out and never went backMy husband didn't say a word..he knew better.

2nd TESTIMONY:I was at the golf store comparing different kinds of golf balls.I was unhappy with the women's type I had been using.After browsing for several minutes,I was approached by one of the good-looking gentlemen who works at the store.He asked if he could help me.Without thinking, I looked at him and said, 'I think I like playing with men's balls'

3rd TESTIMONY:My sister and I were at the mall andpassed by a store that sold avariety of candy and nuts.As we were looking at the display case,the boy behind the counter asked if we needed any help.I replied, 'No, I'm just looking at your nuts..'My sister started to laugh hysterically.The boy grinned, and I turned beet-red and walked away.To this day,my sister has never let me forget.

4th TESTIMONY :While in line at the bank one afternoon,my toddler decided to releasesome pent-up energy and ran amok.I was finally able to grab hold ofher after receiving looks of disgustand annoyance from other patrons.I told her that if she did not start behaving'right now' she would be punished.To my horror, she looked me in the eye and said in a voice just as threatening,'If you don't let me go right now,I will tell Grandma that I saw youkissing Daddy's pee-pee last night!'The silence was deafening after this enlightening exchange.Even the tellers stopped what they were doing.I mustered up the last of my dignity andwalked out of the bank with my daughter in tow.The last thing I heard when the door closed behind me, were screams of laughter.

5th TESTIMONY:Have you ever asked your child a question too many times?My three-year-old son had a lot of problems with potty training and I was on him constantly.One day we stopped at Taco Bell for a quick lunch, in between errandsIt was very busy, with a full dining room.While enjoying my taco,I smelled something funny,so of course I checkedmy seven-month-old daughter, she was clean.The realized that Dannyhad not asked to go potty in a while.I asked him if he needed to go,and he said 'No' .I kept thinking'Oh Lord, that child has had an accident, and I don't have any clothes with me.'Then I said,'Danny, are you SURE you didn't have an accident?''No,' he replied.I just KNEW that he must have had an accident, because the smell was getting worse.Soooooo, I asked one more time, 'Danny did you have an accident ? This time he jumped up, yanked down his pants,bent over, spread his cheeksand yelled'SEE MOM, IT'S JUST FARTS!!'While 30 people nearly choked to death on their tacos laughing,he calmly pulled up his pants and sat down.An old couple made me feel better,thanking me for the best laugh they'd ever had!

6th TESTIMOMY: A radio DJ in Malaysia asked her listeners to call and answer some trivial questions. The first to answer correctly would get a prize from the sponsor. She asked, "What is the household name for sodium chloride". An eager housewife called in but she did not know the answer, she asked for a tip. The DJ hinted " Something you put on your husband's eggs in the morning". The housewife confidently answered, " Talcum Powder " The DJ did not return until after a few songs.

LAST BUT NOT LEAST TESTIMONY: This had most of the state of Michigan laughing for 2 daysand a very embarrassed female news anchor who will,in the future, likely think before she speaks.What happens when you predict snow but don't get any!We had a female news anchor that,the day after it was supposed to have snowed and didn't,turned to the weatherman and asked:'So Bob, where's that 8 inches you promised me last night?'Not only did HE have to leave the set,but half the crew did too they were laughing so hard! Now, didn't that feel good?Pass it on to someone you know who needs a laughand rememberwe all say things we don't really mean,so think before you speak!!!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Mrs Samo and Dr Raquel

Mrs Samo

Dr Raquel
A Filipino knifenut alerted me about Mrs Samo that bears some resemblance to a forensic expert from the country.
I checked out the photo and found that their side profile does bear some similarity.
Here's the lowdown on the mother of modern forensic science in the Philippines:

Dr. Raquel B. del Rosario-Fortun,MD is the First Filipino Woman Forensic Pathologist, and has been involved in the investigation of recent disasters and high-profile crimes in and out of the country.
As one of the first Filipino pathologist formally trained in forensic pathology, Raquel has dealt with difficult and controversial cases and contributions to the understanding of forensic pathology and other forensic sciences in
the country.
She could very well be the Mother of Forensic Pathology in the Philippines after teaching her craft for 17 years.
She travels around the country hardly refusing an invitation to teach and seizing every opportunity to reach out through media interviews so the public will learn more about forensics.
Raquel del Rosario-Fortun was one of the 2002 TOYM Awardees for Forensic Pathology.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Falklands mission - 10th anniversary

At the Brisbane international airport
At Mt Pleasant intl airport, Falkland Islands

Ten years ago this month, I embarked on the biggest adventure of my life. The mission was to escort a relief effort to a stranded sailor in the Falkand Islands. Now, believe it or not, I was
not the first choice for this assignment as the campaign and attempt for a local guy to sail around the world solo
on an East-West-East route came under heavy fire.My colleagues were highly critical about the issue. There was a conversation within the then literary editor with a
feature writer about sending a relief party to the Falklands."But he had failed. I don't see why we should send anyone," said the Editor. "Yeah, anyone whom the company
would despatch to the scene, is a moron," chimed the writer.I turned around and watched them with disgust and some amusement. To me, they can kiss my ass because the
said moron for the mission was me.Earlier, I asked the Assistant Group Editor: "Eh Pak Non, if there's anyone for this mission, who would it be?".
"What kind of question is this lah! Who else but you?," he said.I was in my fourth year as a reporter and after being booted out to an afternoon daily, it was the lowest point in
my life. Nevertheless, my stint in tabloid was one of the best training ground. I was left to my own device and since I had
interviewed the sailor and actually sailed with him from Port Klang to Langkawi, I knew everything about him by
hanging around with the guy for more than 72hours.But as his attempt to sail around the world became an official national project, other guys were roped in to tie up
the loose ends.Again, I was sidelined. To me, I need to commit for a couple of years before my training bond expires. The first
few years of my life as a reporter didn't seem to take off. With me in the rear packed with the gear, I sat and watch as the sailor was given a send-off by Tun Mahathir, the
fourth Prime Minister of Malaysia.Then, barely two days after the hoo-hahs, I was approached by the Chief News Editor of the nation's oldest
newspaper to mop up."Sam, you must file in a story everyday," he said. That was the standing instruction. So, I cut a deal with him. I told
him that for every take I send in, its one shift on the overtime form.With a smirk, he shook my hand and our arrangement was firm. So, everyday, I fetch the sailor's position report
and write a story based on his progress - which was slow and boring.To make up for the space, I ran a series of background stories and my experience on his ocean racer proved to
be an advantage.I know everything there is to provide a daily report and with my overtime sheet coming from both ends (the
broadsheet and afternoon paper), I was minting money.All of the sudden, I acquired a small fortune. Hence, the knives and other toys that came in as the loot. Then, all of
the sudden, my side income came to a screeching halt.The sailor's vessel capsized and was towed to the Falklands. There, he awaited for help and some relief. I
learned that after speaking to him, his intention was to moor his boat in a place where folks speak English.That was highly logical. And so, efforts were made to aid the sailor who agreed, after consulting with the Prime
Minister to continue his attempt.When the word 'Falklands' was mentioned, some of the superstars from the paper's news section had sprung
into action.Some guys even lobbied for the mission. But the man who trusted me to discarge my duties was firm. He
insisted that I was the most qualified candidate to cover the story.So, on one Saturday morning, I received a call from the office. "Sam, get your Australian visa ready, you are
going to the Falklands..."I had just a couple of hours to prepare for the flight from Subang military airbase. With an advance allowance of
USD$5,000 and my kit, I made my way to the briefing area on the departure area.My journey to the Falklands begins..

Unlimited coffeeshop hokkien mee

Me, working out some sweat..

The prized find

Mrs Samo and her pan mee

The noodle stall at SS14

Michelle and I checked out a makan place in SS14 Subang Jaya last weekend.The food was quite good and one of the attractions there was the Prawn noodles. At RM6.50 a bowl with all the
goodies thrown in, I'd say I got my bang for the buck.While my wife had a bowl of pan mee, I chowed down the Hokkien mee that was blasted with pork ribs, belly and
some shrimps.Then, as I was slowly enjoying my chow, I guy came up and asked: "You are from the Star right?". Stunned for a
moment, I leaned back and said: "Yes, I work there." "Oh, I really enjoyed reading your column," he said, extending his hand in a friendly gesture. I acknowledged the
guy and thanked him.We continued with the food and shot off to Subang Parade to get some stuff for the Yee family in Melbourne. It
was a good outing and well, now that I found another eating spot, I'd certainly return for more good treats.

Oh man..

Today is a day where everything was kinda screwed up.Firstly, some morons rang up to complain about some issues around their neighbourhood. I told one of them to
write-in and she went ballistic.Maybe the woman is going through PMS. All of the sudden, she became obnoxious and sarcastic. She wants
things to be done her way and the rest can take a hike.This bitch raised my blood pressure and my next course of action was to take down her number and do a follow
up. It could be nothing and people being people, they want to make a mountain out of a ant mound.Later, the ad guys told me that some of the honchos were not happy with my work. The Food Trail column, it
seems, has drawn some flack.Hey, that's the way I write it, I can improve but if I have to bend over backwards to please a small crowd, then I
guess the best thing to do is to pull the plug. No love lost.Anyways, since the column is drawing revenue, some folks have become annoyed. Their loss, my gain. I
shouldn't be gloating at all because its a lot of work to put up the pages on a weekly basis.My boss told me that gauging from readers response, the Food Trail column had risen with popularity especially
among the Klang Valley folks.Well, to me, its work. I commit to what I was told to do the very day I signed up for work in The Star. I vowed to do
better and lead the way in creative writing. Then the folks who paid nearly a quarter million ringgit for the page is demanding for this and that. I was even
offered to work for them to promote their brand. I said no. The only saving grace was a trip to town where a contact paid for lunch. Its curry fish head and I finally get to meet
the owner of the stall in Kampung Attap. He was happy with the fact that The Star had mentioned about his outlet. The rest was a session of catching up
with some old friends.Otherwise, I am done for the day. Tomorrow, Star Metro will be receiving an award from the Royal Rotary Club
for excellence in Community reporting. I will be there to provide moral support to my co-workers who will receive
the token.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

D5000 vs 500D

Nikon's D5000
Canon EOS 500D

I think the entry-level digital single lens reflex camera market is heating up with some excitement.Nikon had announced their D5000 camera to compete with Canon's EOS500D. Both cameras are expected to
hit the streets here by the end of this year.I'd say in terms of innovations, Nikon has something new that others will envy. The D5000 comes with a swivel
LCD panel. It also boasts of many features that sets it apart from the 500D. And speaking of affordability, Nikon has the
edge. With a combination of a good entry-level zoom lens, the D5000 kit will be something most beginner and
advanced photography enthusiast would anticipate.Although the 500D is new, many of its features are a legacy from its predecessor - the 450D. Here in Malaysia,
its a wait and see game and I would say that although Canon did not get the thumbs-up for innovation, they
certainly get my nod of approval for good customer service.Nikon, on the other hand, has a long way to go. They have a legacy of staffing from Shriro trading who was
previously the agent for Nikon camera in this country.In my experience, their sales and service team sucked to the highest order. I like Nikon cameras, but wouldn't
pay to upkeep the morons that sells them here.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Spyderco Salt

The Pacific Salt and Aqua Salt

Both knives sheated in Mike Sastre's neck sheath and Spyderco's new molded sheath

Me and my Salt during a jigging trip in '07

I've been a long-time fan of Spyderco knives.As a matter of fact, I became a Spyderholic and in 2000, I made my maiden pilgrimage to Spyderland. There, I
met Poppa Spyder Sal Glesser who founded the company with his wife Gail and family including Joyce Laithuri,
who was then in charge of international marketing. Joyce showed me around the little town of Golden and gave me a tour of Spyderco's factory. I have never
forgotten their generosity and for a good five years, I carried plenty of their product reviews in my weekly knife
column which was published in The Malay Mail.What I liked about Spyderco was its simplicity and effort to innovate. They were a young company with many
firsts and Sal's story had inspired me.When I asked him what kept him going, he told me: "I just wanted to do things..." The desire to innovate and
invent pushed Spyderco way ahead of many knife manufacturers who stayed in their traditional way of business
practise. Encouraged by the late Al Mar, Sal took his manufacturing to Japan in the early 80s. Now, many of Spyderco's
early knives became highly sought-after collector items.After cycling through countless of models, I am happily settled with their Salt series knives. One particular model
was the Pacific Salt. This knife is similar to Spyderco's flagship model Endura, but has a different blade geometry. Its 3.5" length
made it an ideal working edged tool and what made it appealing, is the H-1 steel.The Japanese has been using this blend of metal which is corrosion free. True to its quality, I put it through some
tests during my offshore trips.After preparing bait and cutting squid, I washed it with seawater. Not a speck of rust. If you use stainless steel,
the blade will corrode especially its naked edge.The Pacific Salt was spalshed with seawater, washed, thrashed and abused. It held on. And contrary to some
expert's opinion on its poor edge retention, I'd say the H-1 held up pretty well.What I want to add is the fact that the same guy who said this used his knife to cut onions and chillies in the
jungle. I used my offshore and cycled it through a dozen squid-jigging trips. No rust.Recently, after much consideration, I acquired the new Aqua Salt, a fixed blade knife with the same steel
material for my outings.I love the way Spyderco makes their small knives and the Aqua Salt fits my purpose. It will be put to test in my
offshore outing soon.

Pak Din Ikan Bakar

Hot rice with some grilled goodies!

Tamarind gravy with chopped chillies and onions

Grilled squid and stingray

Pak Din at the grill..

It rained again this morning. Turns out that the sky has been gloomy and having two soggy dogs dashing into the living room don't help. My
mission was to head downtown and check out this ikan bakar place.I had no clue where it is except for a landmark, the Tanglin clinic at Jalan Cenderasari. Having heard of the good
makan there, I decided to log some data on my GPS as well as photos for my up and coming column.When I got there with my buddy CM Khor, the food stall was packed with Government folks including cops taking
an early lunch break.I ordered squid, a piece of stingray and one Indian Mackerel. As anticipate the food was good. The
barbequeued fish goes will with its tamarind-chilli and chopped onion dip. Damage? RM30 and well, since its
good, I can look forward to a follow-up visit soon!


I received an SMS from Canon Malaysia yesterday.It says that I have to pay RM425 to repair my pocket camera. Rang them up and told the tech guy that their
cameras are getting from bad to worse.I have cycled through at least three generations of the Canon Powershot G-series. Said to be the top end
'pro-sumer' (Professional Consumer - a word coined by lazy copywriters) camera with features found in cameras
with interchangeable lenses, the G-series made its mark some eight years ago.While I was really impressed with the powershot G-1, the product got better and better. So, after skipping a few
G-models, I settled with the G-9 which I acquired last year.After a year, barely days when its warranty expired, the camera died on me. So, I spoke to techie's manager
whom I had dealt with on a swap for a G-3 for the G-9 and told him my issues with QC and reliability.He said he will 'take care' of things and this morning, I received another SMS for Canon Malaysia notifying me
that the camera was repaired at no cost.See what you can do with a phone call? My justification is the fact that most of the images captured by the G-9
was used and published in the Star. This is a priceless promotion for the brand.Anyways, I am grateful with the fact that the repairs department manager had fixed my camera at no cost. And
meanwhile, I am waiting for the HR department to approve my camera loan. I will replace the G-9 with the newer

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Makan @ Dragon Star restaurant in Kg Tunku

Last weekend, the Lau clan and I went out for dinner at the Dragon Star restaurant in Kg Tunku, Petaling Jaya.This is a new makan place in town and fuah, I was blown away with the dinner crowd there. I guess a good price
point and a wide selection of good food became the draw.We ordered stir-fried winter beans with lotus root, the house style tofu, steamed ikan baung with yellow rice wine,
deep fried duck and pork knuckles.While my father in-law and I were busy dunking down the beers, I noticed that the crowd was slowly filling up the
dining hall.First to hit our table was the fried veges and the tofu. I would rate the fried lotus root and winter beans as good
and well, the tofu was no great shakes.The flavour of the day was steamed ikan baung with yellow rice wine (cheeng wong chau pak sou kung). With
catfishes, you can't go wrong.I found the doneness correct as the sweet tasting flesh of the fish was tender and fine textured. The only part
which was the overkill was the see yau wong (soya sauce king) gravy (one part water, one part soya sauce and
one part sugar) which was blasted with mei ching (monosodium glutamate).My wife has low tolerance to this and complained of the sharp tasting flavour. In steamed dishes, especially
freshwater fish, usage of MSG is very common.Next up, was the deep fried duck. This, I found it to be too dry. The only dish that I would rate as 'outstanding', is
the pork knuckles.It came with a sweet sauce dip which goes down very well. Pound for pound, this dish is worth every ringgit and
sen. As for the total bill plus beers, it came up to RM197.00.Pretty decent for a restaurant setting. Seeing as it is, I think Dragon Star has plenty of potential if they come up
with some innovative Chinese dishes.

Oh what a day!

Sleep depravation aside, today is a work day.No arguments about it. I've had an easy morning, the kidz are showing signs of recovery from their skin bacterial
infection.Since I'd stocked up on greens yesterday, my gorgeous wife made me an egg sandwich. And to complement
what she gave me for breakfast, I made a seaweed salad which I packed with my lunchbox.Driving to the office too was not an issue because I made it to the workplace in less than half an hour. And as a
creature of habit, I began the day by typing my daily report and later worked my way down to the canteen to catch
some chow.Before mid-day approaches, my boss reminded me about a small typo error in our new food columnist's page.
The girl who wrote it, although not that famous yet, had pointed out that her blog address was missing a
hyphernation symbol.Instead, it url lead to another blogger's site with the similar name. Well, mistake spotted and corrected. I had it
amended through our on-line department. No issues with that.Seems that the blogger in question loves to eat in posh places and coffee shop. Having her on our pages was a
direct instruction from my bosses, big bosses boss. So, no questions asked. In her blog today, she thanked credited my boss for the new column. Yeah, and I did all the Bangla work...
And the string of comments on her blogspot also congratulated her for the effort. Having said that, let's see how she can cope and keep up. It may seem like competition, but my work is an a
league of its own.Later in the day, I made my way to Pusat Bandar Puchong to pick up my vehicle's road tax.Its due on the 17th and having the new one plastered on my windscreen was the saving grace. This gets me out
of trouble with the cops.Then, I had lunch at a coffee shop where its famous for their roasted pork dishes. Well, the makan place was
packed to the brim. I almost gave up, but an empty seat at the rear of this coffee shop gave me some hope. I placed an order for
roasted duck and pork rice.Paid RM6.50 for it and the meal came within 10-minutes. But the moron who served me forgot to give me a fork.
I was left with a spoon and well, not wanting to blow my top, I finished the meal. The meal was decent, so, I let the guy live lah. After makan, I made my way to the IOI mall to get some salad and peppers for tonight's meal. Back at the office, the rest of the day was mopping up operations. Tomorrow, I can look forward to another food round in the city.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Complaints to the council..

These are complaints from tenants living in council (government) houses and flats in the UK.
Subject: FW: Complaints to Councils...... pure smut !! Council complaints from around the country. These are genuine clips from council complaint letters:

1. My bush is really overgrown round the front and my back passage has fungus growing in it.

2. He's got this huge tool that vibrates the whole house and I just can't take it anymore.

3. It's the dog mess that I find hard to swallow.

4. I want some repairs done to my cooker as it has backfired and burnt my knob off.

5. I wish to complain that my father hurt his ankle very badly when he put his foot in the hole in his back passage.

6. And their 18 year old son is continually banging his balls against my fence.

7. I wish to report that tiles are missing from the outside toilet roof. I think it was bad wind the other night that blew them off. 8. My lavatory seat is cracked, where do I stand?

9. I am writing on behalf of my sink, which is coming away from the wall.

10. Will you please send someone to mend the garden path? My wife tripped and fell on it yesterday and now she is pregnant.

11. I request permission to remove my drawers in the kitchen.

12. 50% of the walls are damp, 50% have crumbling plaster and 50% are plain filthy.

13. I am still having problems with smoke in my new drawers.

14. The toilet is blocked and we cannot bath the children until it is cleared.

15. Will you please send a man to look at my water, it is a funny colour and not fit to drink.

16. Our lavatory seat is broken in half and is now in three pieces.

17. I want to complain about the farmer across the road; every morning at 6am his cock wakes me up and its now getting too much for me.

18. The man next door has as large erection in the back garden, which is unsightly and dangerous.

19. Our kitchen floor is damp. We have two children and would like a third, so please send someone round to do something about it.

20. I am a single woman living in a downstairs flat and would you please do something about the noise made by the man on top of me every night.

21. Please send a man with the right tool to finish the job and satisfy my wife.

22. I have had the clerk of works down on the floor six times but I still have no satisfaction.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Tax Season..

Aaaah! Another tax season. This morning, I've summed up enough courage to head down to the main hall at my workplace where the inland
revenue board folks are having a special counter service for taxpayers.I've been a taxpayer and a defaulter for years. Last year alone, the IRB lobbed off RM8K from my monthly salary.
As a result of not declaring my tax returns, I have to pay about RM750 a month to cover the scheduled
deductions. This month, I will be liberated from the tax bondage. As for the special counter service, I've set up an e-account
with the IRB - which means I don't have to submit my tax return forms manually.After working out the nitty-gritties, I found out that I have overpaid my taxes. This means a refund is due. Having
said that, I've survived the tax season for last year!

Friday, April 10, 2009

N82 vs C902

Okay, its time to lay the smackdown!I have been using the Nokia N82 multimedia cellphone for a year. In my humble opinion, this tool has the best features and user interface.First off, Nokia's Carl Ziess lens wins hands down. I was sceptical with its abilities, but after toying with it for a while and using the images on my weekly column, the phone became an indespensible tool.As far as connectivity is concerned, no issues. The built-in A-GPS feature also helped a lot in keying in some POIs on my trail.The sucky part is the data streaming charges. Totally off! Now, the N82 is in semi retirement due to its bashed up appearance. It has been hard-used and its battery life was not what it used to be. And speaking of accessories, Nokia has cheaper on-the-road essential such as their car charger.I think a new battery and casing will do to revive it. Next, I would like to sum up what I feel about the Sony Ericsson C902.This was a gift from my in-laws last Christmas. Its built solid and has a 5-megapixel camera. But compared to the Nokia, its image quality and user-friendliness sucked.Not only the controls are difficult to handle, a slight nudge on its sliding camera hood will set it off. As far as the controls on this phone is concerned, I have no issues because I have used the Ericsson phones before.My only beef with this cellphone is the data streaming capabilities which sucked majorly.So, which phone gets the Samo approval? N82!

There goes my G-9!

Just when I thought it was okay to go about my photography business, my year-old Canon Powershot G-9 went
kaput! Lucky for me, I managed to capture some of images which were vital to my work. This goes to say that Canon
products are not made to last.Sadly, the company is the only camera manufacturer that produces their high-end digital compact camera in
Japan. They have many features on their products that can thrash brands like Nikon, Olympus, Pentax and Sony. What I
like about the Canon powershot G-series, is its ease of use and friendly user-interface.Having cycled through five generations of the G-series, I conclude by saying that they still top other camera
manufacturer in terms of quality and value for money.As for the reliability part, I would underrate them by half. I guess they don't make cameras as rugged as they've
used to these days.And I have this sinking feeling that Canon will slap me with a big fat bill when I sent the camera in for service next

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

A head start..

Aaaaahhhh!!! The smell of disinfectant in the toilet! That is the sign of victory in the early morning. I left home for work without any traffic issues and being early in the
workplace gave me some tactical advantage in handling the daily chores that I am tasked to do.The kidz are going about their business as usual with tonnes of lesions and scabs on their back. Last I checked,
the bacterial infection was localised around their spine and lower back. In Queenie's case, I found some scabs on her neck. This high infectious condition can spread throughout their
body if untreated.My worry is their immunity. Hopefully, I can send them to the vet on Saturday and to temporarily remedy their condition, I sprayed some wood vinegar mist on their skin.

Guilt trip V9.52

A call came in late this evening. The caller ID indicated that it was my aunt Lorraine. And the first few sentences that she blared out was: "How
come you never come back? You have forsaken me, bla-bla-bla..."I was in the middle of a discussion and told her that I have been really busy over the past one month. Then, the
question about moolah came."Why you never send money over?, You think I can survive on my pension, bla-bla-bla.." I have been bombarded
with guilt trips ever since I moved out of her home.There, I stayed for nearly three decades. Technically-speaking, she took the role of my mother. While I was
squatting at her home, I became her constant victim of endless guilt trips. "When are you going to move out of here! You #$%&*! parasite!", "Your father is a useless bugger!#$@!" and
over the years, I have learned to turn a deaf ear. Embittered by rage and hardened by life's ardous journey, my 71-year-old aunt has been a sucker her entire life.
For some strange reasons, she always trusted the wrong people.No mention was made to those who have fleeced her over the years and sadly, the people whom she cared the
most - are the scums of the earth.Nevertheless, I guess she had recovered from her financial rut and is now actively travelling. Her phone call was
to inform me that she is leaving for Korea tomorrow night."How come you never call? Are you busy ah? How are the dogs? bla-bla-bla.." As long as she is still breathing, I
will constantly be pounded with guilt and the fact that I have never measured up to her expectations. In plain view, I am a loser in aunt Lorrain's universe. That don't bother me at all because I have grown immune to
her sarcasm and constant sizing up.Another guilt trip that she always throws at me - is my father. Since young, they have never gotten along.
Biologically-speaking, they are the only children of Chong Man, my paternal grandfather.What she saw in my old man was pure unadulterated hate. And through the years of abuse, neglect,
estrangement, my aunt had grown cold over my old man.And yet, she constantly asks about him. "How is he doing ah? Did you see him? bla-bla-bla.." All this guilt was
lumped at me.Have I been a good son? Well, to sum it up, no. Since my father had admitted himself into social care, I have
never kept in touch with him.Why? I have my reasons. He is taking advantage of the welfare system by saying that he has no family. I guess
that was the final straw. I invited him to stay with me. He resisted by saying that he wanted his own freedom. That came with a high price.
I spent a bundle relocating him after his partner of 25 years passed away.Way I see it, he had carried his legacy forward and is now living the final years of his life. What has he achieved?
Nothing. It would take a miracle for the siblings to patch up. But I guess with the hostility and constant denial, this
won't happen in my lifetime.What I learned here is this: be nice. Over the course of 20 years, I have treated them nicely. I put a large TV,
upgraded kitchen utensils and much more for my aunt. And what did I get? More guilt trips. In her eyes, no matter how much I have done to alleviate her sufferings, I am
still a pain in the ass, the son of a man who wrecked her life.Such - will be the burden that I will have to bear till the end of my existance. Can I heck it? Oh yes. I can live with
that because I have done in my best interest to provide as much as I can.The only thing that I can do - is to give her a bungalow, a nice luxury car and a team of maid to take care of her

Bacterial infection..

In life, many things can go wrong when you expect to have day where there's minimal screw-ups.Last nite, the parking fellas detained by radio transponder when they suspected it faulty. So, I had to go home
without one and the lingering feeling of having to pay money in order to claim it the next day.Then, I found the kidz with scabs that turn bloody when I remove them. Seems that both my kidz has been
infected with a bacterial parasite.So, the next course of action is a visit to the vet. I can only manage this over the weekend when I am free. I hope
that my wife will lend a helping hand. I forsee some cash flowing out of my pocket. Since the infection is not life threatening, its been localised to the
dog's lower back.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Slash time!

Ugh! Its that time of the year again. My Perodua MyVi's insurance is about to expire. I have 11 days to get it renewed and as usual, it costs a bomb
to put the car on the road - legally!So, this year, I managed to stash some cash aside in anticipation of the yearly slaughter. Initially, I paid about
RM995 and subsequently as the value of my car depreciates, so is the insured sum.For this year, the MyVi is valued at RM33K. Thats nearly 20K off the mark. And the longer I keep it, the less value
to it and at the end of its shelf life, it'll be a worthless heap of junk.The insurance chalked up to RM850 including windshield cover. At first, I kinda thought it was unecessary. But
after giving it much thought, RM90 won't hurt a bit if something comes smashing through.With the month still in its very early stage, I forsee a long and winding road ahead. But the thing I can look forward
to - is the end of my Inland Revenue deduction. The IRB had lobbed off nearly 10K from my salary. With the extra cash in hand, I can at least save up for my
Vegas project..

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Food Trail 2.0 rollout

The logo's new addition - a knife on my side.. Ahahah!

A new era begins today. Lam Soon, one of the largest food products manufacturer in the country has signed up with The Star to buy up my
'Food Trail' column.After a year of hard work, my efforts are bearing its fruit of labour. Its generating income for the section. Now, its
an entirely different ballgame. Apart from entertaining the readers, I must now 'look after' the column. This means, more outings during lunch
break and in my quest for good street food, I don't think there'll be any shortage of information.When I took up the challenge to provide Star Metro's Central edition with content on a weekly basis, I depended
on my experience and 15 years of writing had nailed it in.With a quarter million ringgit as part of the deal, I'll have to raise the stake. The deal with Knife Cooking Oil is for
a year and word had it that there are long-term plans for this project.

Mapping software update..

I had my Garmin NUVI 610 fixed!There were some software compatibility problems earlier and with some help from a seasoned GPS reseller, I
managed to get the issues resolved.First, there was the mapping software issue. Seems that my attempts to update the maps had failed miserably.
Now, the NUVI is loaded with the latest Malaysia and Singapore road maps.And this includes points of interests around the country. Another value-added feature. The reseller also told me
not to part with the unit because its one of the best around.Initially, I wanted to ditch it and replace it with the newer NUVI 760, but having seen the slight difference in
features as well as user interface, I decided to hold on to it a little bit longer.Apart from the software and map update, I also got the trusty GPSmap 76csx updated with some topography
maps and purchased a blue chart marine map. This will be used next month during my squid-jigging trip. So, having said that, I'll be looking forward to some
GPS action with the 76csx!