Monday, September 27, 2010

Flu and life in the 40s

I caught a cold on Wednesday which developed into a flu in less than 24 hours.
On Thursday, I was as sick as a dog.
My body was weakened with the loss of fluid and a mild fever.
I did nothing much but to sleep it off.
My body needs rest and some off the shelf medication did provide relief.
Funny thing is this: I had 24 hours to partially recover and move on to my Wood Badge course at a Primary school in KL.
Flu or no flu, the show must go on.
Even on Friday noon, I was still feeling sick.
As my body is slowly recovering, the physical and mental demands of learning and staying up all night at the course kinda gave the 'back-up' system on my body to kick in.
Throughout the course, I did not take any form of medication and actually held on pretty well.
The only thing I missed, was sleep.
So, I got plenty of this after returning from the camp and slept through the entire Sunday evening.
On Monday, it was a period of rest and also plenty of relaxation.
I caught at least two movies on cable TV and the rest of the day, chilled out with the dogs..
The flu is gone and what's left, is some discomfort on the chest.
And now, it seems that a lot of people in the office are down with some sort of cough and flu..

Another spectacular failure?

The corporation has expanded into the multimedia territory and lately, there were talks about forming an ipad desk.
This is true as a team was assembled under the helm of an old-timer who was brought back from obscurity to run the show.
Their objective: to create an ipad application where its users can access daily news updates from our company.
For the layman, here's how it works: Buy an ipad for RM4K, download the apps to browse and interact with the corporation and pay a monthly fee.
Now, in Malaysia, gadgets like the ipad and iphone are limited to big cities.
In order to earn money, it has to be volume-driven.
This means, if you have about 5 million ipad users in the Klang Valley, you can milk the cash cow.
I don't forsee this at all because the ipad, contrary to visionary Steve Jobs' aim to make it affordable and available to everyone, is an expensive toy in Malaysia.
And as time takes a toll on the shelf life of such toys, its as good as a piece of paperweight after six months.
That's how it is when it comes to electronics mortality.
Are we doing the right thing? I don't think so.
Until the Intel-based tablet PCs are widely available, the ipads will rule.
It'll be interesting to watch as to how far this ipad programme would go because if the shit hits the fan, the bosses would bail out and leave the mopping up to the crew.

Manik Kayu 1 - PR part 3

Bob receiving his cert from National trainer Jamal
Cleaning up the campsite..

The patrol and their prized gadget..

I survived 36 hours of sleep deprivation, bad food and the lousy weather that flooded my tent.
The last session before we are allowed to be dismissed from the wood badge course was 'Patrol system' and 'The organisational structure in scouting' by trainer Mr Sia.
Now, strangely, news travelled fast.
We were singled out as 'old timers' in the fold.
I will spare the story.
Anways, after sitting through the course and ending the last two sessions, we were handed out our certs.
From this point, we've passed our part 1 of the course.
All participants were given the mandate to wear their leather woggles as a significant mark that they have completed part 1 of their Senior Scouts' Wood Badge.
This was formalised with a closing ceremony and the rest was history.
To me, the last two days taught me many things.
One apparent fact is that you can learn from the younger set.
Bob and I have set our target for the final part of the Wood Badge programme which is set in November.
Hopefully, we will meet some old friends from the part 1 sessions.
Who knows? Our young Commissioner lad may be a part of it too!

Manik Kayu 1 - PR part 2

State Commissioner Mejar Mior Rosli addressing the course participants..

Rope session with our trainer

Cikgu Chan (centre) learning a hitch from a trainer

The completed gadget..

Leadership encompasses a wide range of values.
It can never attribute to what you learn on the fly.
While some may have leadership qualities, not all are leaders.
On day two of the Wood Badge course, I saw the best and worse in all five characters in my patrol.
The two teachers - Chan and Mike were very helpful. Infact, they were the nicest people I've ever met who are half my age.
Student Tan too was kind enough to show how a Turk's head knot is tied.
The biggest surprise was our patrol leader - the railwayman.
Despite his experience and qualification as a King Scout, our humble leader was a team player and the entire course participants' live wire.
He provided help without question, taught when asked and was always there so spare a helping hand.
And in all that hoolabaloo, the most disturbing character was a young man who carries the rank of "Persuruhjaya Ibu Pejabat" or literally - District headquarters Commissioner.
On the first impression, this dude seemed to be very young to be a Commissioner.
I later found out that the post was an experimental thing on a two-year trial period.
I was also told that the boy was leading SMK Raja Abdullah.
Bob and I took part at an inter-district competition in this school some light years ago.
Okay, I am gonna touch on the juicy part: Our patrol had to learn the 10 knots required for the Senior Scouts.
During the first beat, I had problems with the Turk's head and short splice.
This Commissioner dude tried to teach, and me, well, being old and clumsy, wasn't quite able to follow suite.
Then I can see the frown and temper which is showing on his face.
Here's my take: If you can't teach a fogie like me, how on earth are you going to teach a group of teenagers with raging hormones.
Round one - The truth is beginning to rear its ugly face.
Moving on from rope works to first aid, we had a gadget building session.
At this point, the weather began to suck.
It rained as we worked to build a table complex based on the tripod structure.
If you work together, its not hard and we can finish this fast.
The goal here: is to complete the assignment, not to compete to be the best.
Again, our young Commissioner dude began to show his bad qualities.
He ran down our Patrol leader by making pun of his King Scout badge.
And when it comes to lashing down the structure, this guy insisted to do things his own way.
I just followed orders and tried to do as much and ended up sweeping the place.
That Commissioner bullshit artist, well, since he was omnipotent, he'd do the whole thing by himself - which is something he had wanted to prove to us old fogies.. Hahah!
And when the task was completed, I did my part to haul the gadget to the camp ground.
Later, we had to present a song session during the campfire night which is attended by State Commissioner Mejar Mior Rosli.
The Patrol Leader told us to follow his suite and do as told.
Lucky for that, we scraped through the night.
I also learned that the Railwayman did what he could to breathe life into the night.
It could have fucked up majorly if someone who does not know his thing had taken helm.
As for the rest of the night, I learned many things.

Manik Kayu 1 - PR part 1

Richard (right), with two kids from the Catholic High School in PJ

Calm before the storm: Beginning of the first session

In good spirits: Richard and Bob

I gave my word to my buddy Bob that I would sit in with him to complete the Wood Badge training programme.
The Senior Scout unit course which is the 26th installment of its series, don't come by easily as it is rarely held.
We managed to link up with our contacts (Scouters in their 40s and just like us, had faced some succession issues in the past..) and signed up for the course at the MBS primary school in Kuala Lumpur.
But first - here's the bare facts: We've left Scouting some 25 years ago and our last posting were student leaders for our secondary school.
We had never followed the national scheme or whatsoever in complying with the test standards for the merit badges.
Anyways, all good things said and done, we were out there to learn everything from scratch.
And as a word of advice from Richard Ling, our course mate - just play dumb.
So, that said, we found ourselves at MBS primary school on Friday noon and found that there was a toss-up for the Wood Badge course.
There was not enough quota and things seemed kinda slim for the course to begin till everyone agreed to commence the Senior Scout programme.
Class started late and only at 8pm, the first session began.
I found myself in a Patrol with five other guys, two of them, Mr Chan and Mr Michael were teachers.
Another guy is an employee with the Railways, while one is a student and the last guy, well, who turned out to be a real prick and a shithead -- is a commissioned scouter with a district.
The best part of a short course as such -- is the clash of different characters.
Some are nice folks, others are there to test out the situation.
And the phrase: "Still water runs deep.." did cast my suspicion.
On day one, it was purely a warm-up lap for the participants.
It ran late into the night and ended at 1:30am.
Since we didn't have dinner, Bob, Richard and I went down to Petaling street for a bite and later crashed in our tents...

Sunday, September 19, 2010

MKF C&C 2010

The gang

Bonding over a bonfire

Skills session: sharpening knives

The organisers of Malaysia Knife Forum's Camp & Cut 2010 had done a great
job.This exceeded my expectations as the event was flawless. Seems that everyone have had a good time at Kem Nurnikman in Sungkai,
Perak.I took a two-hour drive from my house in Subang Jaya and was asked to
address the forum members including a small workshop session on knife care
and maintenance.There were plenty of activities and it was also a chance for me to get
re-acquainted with some old friends.A few new faces were seen at camp and the cammaraderie spirit can be seen
on everyone who pitched in to make the event a successful venture.I hope that the 2010 - 2012 committee members would continue to keep up
the good work and raise the bar in terms of organizing better and bigger
activities for the benefit of the forum's ordinary members.

Collateral damage

Banting became the spotlight of a high-profile murder case of late.This is a sleepy hollow which few people would bother to even talk about and
with the demise of a cosmetic queen in the hands of a local lawyer and his
henchmen, the cops have seized his assets and combed the place for more
forensic evidence.The latest news from this neighbourhood was the lawyer's pedigree dogs that
were destroyed by the Kuala Langat District Council.All nine of this pooches: Rottweilers, Dalmatians (spelled Dalmation by a kid's
newspaper today) including a Boxer were 'humanely' put down.It was also reported that the dogs have turned 'aggressive' and had attacked
the livestocks in the murder suspect's farm.What a waste.The dogs could have been rescued and what they did, was a feral instinct to
survice. They were not fed for some time and had turned on the farm animals.I think this action would raise some protest from animal lovers especially
dog-rescuers.The pooches might have been given a second chance if the rescuers have
access to them.What the daily had published by displaying the dog's carcass like a hunter's
trophy in my opinion: was utterly tasteless.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Generation R

Times have changed.
I don't buy into the 'Generation X' and 'Y' thing as most middle-aged folks
would put it.Recently, a management trainee reminded me of 'Generation Y', where the
kids of today had benefited from their parent's wealth and generosity.For a 21-year-old, she's definitely hit the mark. Even a fogie like me could not afford a Blackberry smartphone, let alone fork
out bills for the call and data plans.I was told that its a 'Generation Y' thing.Young people today depend on gadgets and gizmos because that is their
lifestyle.Time and again, I resisted stuff like the Blackberry, iphone and now: the ipad.To me, its a pure waste of money.I keep in touch with people on my cellphone. So far, so good.For for those insignificant people who cannot live without their iphones and
Blackberries, I would classify them as 'Generation R' (Retard).In Malaysia, we get ripped off every second and minute of the day.To pay RM2.9K for an i-phone and Blackberry is simply daylight robbery.Way I see it, people who pay such an exhorbitant amount is making that retard Steve Jobs richer by the minute.Now, the thing to ask is this: "Do we really need them?". The rest, I leave it to you..

Generation R

Times have changed.

I don't buy into the 'Generation X' and 'Y' thing as most middle-aged folks
would put it.Recently, a management trainee reminded me of 'Generation Y', where the
kids of today had benefited from their parent's wealth and generosity.For a 21-year-old, she's definitely hit the mark. Even a fogie like me could not afford a Blackberry smartphone, let alone fork
out bills for the call and data plans.I was told that its a 'Generation Y' thing.Young people today depend on gadgets and gizmos because that is their
lifestyle.Time and again, I resisted stuff like the Blackberry, iphone and now: the ipad.To me, its a pure waste of money.I keep in touch with people on my cellphone. So far, so good.For for those insignificant people who cannot live without their iphones and
Blackberries, I would classify them as 'Generation R' (Retard).In Malaysia, we get ripped off every second and minute of the day.To pay RM2.9K for an i-phone and Blackberry is simply daylight robbery.Way I see it, people who pay such an exhorbitant amount is making that retard Steve Jobs richer by the minute.Now, the thing to ask is this: "Do we really need them?". The rest, I leave it to you..

Gadget building with X-patrol 188

The boys at work..

Trainer Bob (centre), lending some supervision

The experimental patrol at work on the school ground..

There is an old Malay saying that goes: "Belakang pisau di asah, lama-lama
pun jadi tajam
" (sharpen the spineof a knife, you will get an edge).I can say this with the experimental patrol that was set up for the purpose of
preparing them for their King Scout badge.Trainer Bob Lew had set three years as the deadline for the boys to complete
all their merit badges (three stages) beginning with the most basic
requirement: the Lencana Keahlian (Tendrfood badge as we knew it).We began with Kem Usaha beginning this month and proceeded by giving the
boys some assignments.During the camp, I gauged the performance of the kids and found that two out
of four of them had potential to be groomed.The remaining lot were weak.As far as Scout craft is concerned, they have a long way to go.I was tasked with edged tool education and axemanship, an area that is
familiar to me.Earlier today, I made at trip to their training ground and found them
constructing a gadget for their pioneering project.Leading the pack, is a 15-year-old boy. Two others followed suite while
another was on holiday in the United Kingdom.My initial assessment showed that the UK-brat is the weakest of the lot and
there's plenty to be done to toughen him up for the later stages.The other weakling is a talkative youngster. This small guy has the ego the
size of a soccer stadium.Coming back to the gadgets, I think they will take at least two or more
sessions to complete the project.On other development, I am happy to report that the kids are getting a cabin
for their King Scout activities. Bob showed me their new domain and I am very pleased with the progress.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Dahon Speed TR

The adjustable Andros stem - unique only to the Speed TR
This one is a different animal: The Dahon Speed TR features a hub dynamo for personal electronic power-up and charging, twin touring racks and a 24-speed drive train. This is everything a touring rider would hope for!

I met a guy who wanted to tour on a folding bike.He said he don't have much confidence on riding one as most of these bikes
are flimsy.Then he muttered the magic word: "Speed P8".I responded by telling him that the Dahon Speed P8 is not suitable for touring
as it comes only with an 8-speed drive train.For the long-haulers, there's the Speed TR which is built specifically for
tourers. To cut the long story short, you don't have to outfit this bike with all the bells
and whistles as it comes complete with a set of pannier rack covering front
and the rear of the bicycle.I have the Speed P8 and am very satisfied with its overall built.But the Speed TR has everything that a touring cyclist would want. Even the drive train is maximised to give a 24-speed selection which is very
useful on the trail.Rating-wise, this bike is given three notches and is just one bar before the
high-end Speed TT roadster.Price? Well, I guess it'll cost a lot if Le Run Industries would bring it in.

Malaysia Dahon Folding Bike Club meeting

A proud owner of the Dahon Speed P8 at the meeting

Pioneer members of the Malaysia Dahon FBC with Chanson Lau (middle)

Interested folks enquiring about the bikes at Rodalink

The first Dahon Folding Bike Club meeting here in Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur was given a warm reception by a dozen or more bicycling enthusiasts.It was held at Rodalink bicycle shop in Jalan Telawi and I was one of the first guys to arrive.When I asked the sales people, the meeting was yet to take place.So, naturally, I didn't want to waste time there and took off to Bangsar Village to browse around.After 20-minutes, I returned back to the store and found Chanson Lau, the organiser a couple of members from the Club.This was the first time I signed up for an official cycling club that specialises only on folding bikes. During the meet, I met up with a few people, namely, Encik Ahmad Tarmizi Mahayuddin who works with the Bursa Saham, Businessman Wee Chong Siang who claimed he read about my Pulau Ketam post and veteran riders Uncle Billy and Mr Teoh Siang Teik who will organise a trip to Chiangmai, Thailand later this year.To me, its an eye opener to see a few passionate riders especially Uncle Billy who has in possession: one of the earliest Dahon folding bike.I also met a staff member of architect Ng Sek San who ride the Speed P8 bike.During the meet, I exchanged views with a couple of the cyclists who are new to the folding bike scene.Later during lunch, Uncle Billy told me about organising some commuting trips to the North involving folding bicycles. I am very keen on the prospect and was told that the Malaysia Dahon FBC would set up its internet forum soon.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Dahon's 2010 Jetstream EX

Basic specs: The affordable full-suspension Jetstream P8

Most advanced full-suspension folding bike in the world: the Dahon Jetstream EX

I haven't been checking out the folding bike scene of late.Recently, I found out that Dahon's 2010 version of their full-suspension
Jetstream EX is something that is out of this world.This small folding bike which is meant for urban commuting features some
top-of-the line components.Everything about this bike is right and I was told that Le Run Bicycles Malaysia
who is the sole importer of Dahon folding bicycles have actually brought in a
few throughout last year.Their Marketing Manager Chanson Lau told me that there is one in stock at
their showroom in Desa Hartamas.I took this cue and told my buddy C.M. Khor about it because he is in the
market for a full-suspension folding bike.But what turned up at Desa Hartamas was actually a Jetstream P8.This is a mid-range bike with basic components. Very nice, but not really my
cup of tea.Having taken the Speed P8 out and about, I must say that my next bike would
be a 24-speed foldie.I hope to find out more about the availability of the Jetstream EX in Malaysia.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Pulau Ketam ride

Me, riding on a raised pavement on the island

Michelle, cycling around the village..

Michelle and I decided to make a day-trip to Pulau Ketam recently.We prepared our Dahon folding bikes for this adventure and researched a bit
about the island located off Port Klang which is about 20-minutes drive from
our home in Subang Jaya.But things had hit a snag when the Dahon Curve D3 bike's wheel tube had
ruptured.I heard a loud hiss after filling it with air and found a flat front tire.What a bummer!But luck was on our side as we found a bicycle shop in Sungai Way and had
the damaged tube replaced.It didn't take long to get to Port Klang as the roads on the second day of Hari
Raya was clear.To our surprise, we found a large crowd queuing up at the jetty and slowly
made our way to the air-conditioned ferry.This was also the first time we brought the bikes out and the boatman actually
shouted at us for bringing the Dahons into the cabin.We put up a poker face and boarded for the 35-minute ride to the island.When we alighted from the boat, the jetty area was full with people who are
mostly from the Klang Valley.In a zip, we set up the bikes and rode around the main village area.There were some temples which are the main tourist attraction on the island.After touring some of the spots including two main bridges linking the houses
to the main jetty, we decided to have lunch and call it a day.

Battle of the high-end compact camera

Nikon's answer to the Canon powershot series
New and improved: the Canon powershot G-12

Nikon and Canon would be battling it out with the introduction of their high-end
semi-professional compact cameras the P700 (Nikon) and Powershot G-12
(Canon).This will be an exciting showdown as the photographic equipment
manufacturing giants are showcasing a leap in digital imaging technology with
their pocket cameras.The G-12 will succeed the G-11 which was introduced late last year.Compared to its predecessor, the G-10, the G-11 is a slightly improved model
with low-light capture capabilities.But it lacked of High Definition video capabilities.The G-12, on the other hand, boasts of HD video capture as well as a HDR
capture mode on still.This would be a great feature for on-site photography.Nikon's P700, on the other hand, boasts of several new features such as their
high quality ED coating and high ISO capture on still.My money is on the G-12 as several improvements have been tweaked and
as the timing dictates, its the timely successor of my ageing G-10.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

A little surprise from Chad Los Banos

I haven't heard from Chad Los Banos for some time.
He works in a corrections facility in Hawaii and the last time I touched base with him, he was having some sort of difficulties with work.
Recently, I received a package from Boker Germany with two of his knives which he designed.
Chad played a major role in the Malaysia Knife Forums and is a solid person in terms of character.
I wish him well and hope that he would someday return to the scene.

Awana trail closed

A couple of weeks ago, I organised an outing to the Awana trail near Genting Highland.
When we arrived at the trail head, it was barricaded and a security guard who was on patrol rode past us and said we had to gain permission to access the area.
What used to be a popular haunt for birders and macro photographers is no a no-access zone.
We went to the resort's club house and were told that an entrance fee of RM35 will be charged with a waiver form.
Now, this happened in August and was a result from an accident where some smart assed birder got hurt when he stumbled a couple of hundred meters into a ravine.
This stupid guy's action has a cascading effect.
After all the formalities with some help from nice guy Eddie, we checked out the route and managed to get a couple of shots taken.
For me, the Awana trail now is a another placed added in the 'no-go' list.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Kem Usaha

I've just conducted a weekend camp with my buddy Bob Lew to help a bunch of boy scouts with the merit badges.
There are several aspects that got me thinking about them.
Firstly, they were neglected by their leaders. None of them have basic camping skills.
Teaching them the right way of course, was our task.
We took them camping for a night at Sungai Tua forest reserve which is a State park located about 30-minutes from KL's city centre.
There were four boys in the group. There were 14-year-old and one is a 15-year-old kid.
Bob and I had prepared for this a month ago and talked about their characters.
One of them were given the task to organize his group.
This lil fella turned out to be a true manipulator.
He got the others to work, while he sits back and did almost nothing.
Another kid is literally a brat.
The only boy with potential is the quiet one. Never talks much, pretty much puts the manipulative kid in his place.
As for the older kid, his mother wants him to be a King scout. At all cost. She even bribed Bob with packed pork chops! Hahah!
Way I see it, the kids have to work very had to prove themselves worth of the three merit badges in the Boy Scout's scheme.
This was decided by Bob who is a good judge of character.
I saw how they worked and summed up that there's much to be done.
As a matter of fact, their troop has lagged behind so far, its in a state of disarray.
That said, we would have a lot to do in getting them back on track.
Next test would be a 6km journey.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

And now, the waiting game..

A coupla days ago, I wrote an article about a food stall.
It got published and the first thing I get in the morning, was a call from the head honcho.
The story had caused a stir. So much so, the owner of the original stall had taken a full-page advertisement the next day.
I called him to follow-up and was told that he blew RM26K to 'clarify' the situation.
He assumed that I was aware of some 'issues' he had with his sibling on the business he had built.
I don't know about it and I don't care.
Food stalls are food stalls.
My head honcho wanted me to clear this mess up as soon as possible and as a courtesy, I called the owner to meet him, which he had agreed in principle and the session was supposed to take place today.
Nothing happened. He text-messaged me to tell me that something 'urgent' came up.
I rang him up and replied his text message. Na-da.
Then, my immediate boss called. Told me about owning up, doing the right thing and that I had a free-hand at writing my column.
"Now, I know you hate to do this dirty deed, but when the boss wants things done, he means it and wanted it done immediately..."
The best thing about being an adult is embracing responsibilities.
I am accountable for what I do, and if the guy is playing mind games with me, I will see through it.
On my part, I have done the necessary, I did what I was told and now, all there is to do, is wait..

Thursday, September 2, 2010

The Kayu wars

My big, big, big boss sent me a text message this morning.It read: "Please do a story on the 'other' Kayu'.Orders are orders, I replied and said: "Will do".This was made in reference to my column on Nasi Kandar.I featured Kayu Nasi Kandar in USJ 10 Taipan. It was done to fulfill my pork-free food quota for Ramadan which I have
pledged to my boss.So, I went on a mission to feature some makan places during my rounds and
one of those nights, I landed myself at Kayu.I ordered a plate of Nasi Kandar and paid RM13.50 for the meal consisting
fish roe, beef cooked in soya sauce and some vegetables.It was overpriced and service sucked.All I needed was a set of pictures to corroborate my story which I wrote
according to what I had experienced. That was it.And today, there was a mixed reaction and some dude actually text messaged
me to say: "Wah, so you brave ah?""Brave?," I asked."Yeah, most reviews would be nice," replied the guy.I told him that I paid for my meal and gave an honest view of what I ate. That
was all.Its never ballsy to do so as I would be sincere on sharing my experience.There some interesting developments arising from the comment and I'll have
to wait and see what's on my plate in the days to come...


Mr Tan is a year or two shy of hitting 40.He's a friend of ours and I was told that mid-life crisis had struck him.To me, Mr Tan seems like a nice guy who has no malice and is loving every
single minute of his life.I knew for a fact that Mr Tan loves cars and souping them up.Recently, he blew some money on a second-hand Subaru Impreza WRX.Personally-speaking, I don't give a flying fuck about guys and their cars.To me, people who don't have anything to talk about except cars are losers.A vehicle gets me from point A to B. Period.Like many other guys hitting mid-life, Tan is not alone.I see some old Ah Peks riding BMW dual-purpose bikes around town. As long as they didn't hurt anyone in the process of getting what they want, its
fine with me.Guys will be guys and its hard to seperate the boys from their toys.To me, hitting the mid-point meant many things.Either you have made it, or would die trying.I chose none. I never compare with other people because that would be
unfair.I earn my wages and put my hard-earned meals on the table and whatever
comes on the side as extras - I would consider as a bonus.Life needs to be lived, I am doing that.