“Car Wash” Workouts


Read these first:-

(This is one of the more scary car wash made for an advertisement. But the true horror is seeing your loved vehicles being man-handled at the car wash centers and being blasted with cheap detergents & shampoos that can rust the car body and wash half done properly and you still need to pay for it. This was one thing that we decided not to do when and if we decided to open our own car wash center)

The dreaded GST came into effect from 1 April 2015 and one have to admit that while it has saved the Government’s hide for more than one occasions (especially when the price of oil went down), it however had brought a cascading impact on the country’s economy. The consumer have ended paying more for basic goods and services – in some cases, with an unnecessary spike in price even by those small traders who now have to pass on GST charges in their prices because the bigger traders have done the same. Guess who gets whacked left, right and center in the end?

On the positive side of the GST is that we have been forced to relook into the items we buy or consume on monthly basis and start to eliminate luxury items away. We end up scrutinizing our needs and then buying things that we really need for daily consumption and opt for more home cooked food than going for expensive menus at some fancy restaurants (and sadly that included our favourite Sushi restaurant). And soon, this list included McDonalds, Pizza Hut and Kenny Rogers. Nowadays our go-to-place is our local mamak restaurant.

2015 was a bad year and eventhough things started to “stabilise” in 2016, it was not a good year as well.

One day in 2015, I got a call from my cousin who was retrenched when his company decided to downsize the staff. Despite his good experience and skills, he was not retained and it was a bad timing indeed as his wife was also retrenched from her company almost the same time (but later found a position opened in the same organisation). My cousin after considering whether to go back to his 9 to 5 routine with another company decided instead to go into business with his friend. Together they opened a car wash center near to a car workshop. Business was slow on the weekends especially because the center was not next to the main road (where there are other car wash centers) and as most office in the vicinity were closed. I would occasionally bring my car to his car wash as well – I know he would do a good job and at the same time, I was able to support his business as well.

My cousin however was always on the lookout for a better place for the car wash – one that fronts the main road where it is easily seen by potential customers. And one day he called me saying that he got the right spot – when I visited him, it was good place indeed although he was not alone to provide car washing services in the area, there was another 2 – 3 car wash centers in the vicinity. First day at his place, I asked him to polish my car – it was cheaper than other places I often go and having my own cousin doing the polish works alone is a good reason to have the polish done here and not elsewhere. But then I saw his problem – he was doing the work all alone (another cousin joins in occasionally). Then when he was free, we had a chat – one thing I noticed he looked healthier (a bit darker but healthier). He slimmed down a lot as well (compared to the time when he was working in an air-conditioned, cozy office). And because he was his own boss, he looked less stressful as well – he had time to kill this time around.

Considering that he could use extra help especially on the weekends and since I don’t have much to do on the weekends (other than eat, sleep and watch TV), I decided to join-in to help him – I had always wanted to help him for all the things he had done when I first started to date my wife (back then he had already married, so although I am elder than him, in a way he was a “senior” than me when it comes to relationships, ha ha). I did not much money to spare for his business (good thing, he had other “investors” coming in) but I had the time and myself to help him. After discussing with him and getting his green light from my HEO, I came over on fine Saturday morning, wearing an old T-shirt and my short pants. No pay for the work done, which was ok for me as money was not the reason I joined him.

I have washed my own car many times before this but I found out that it is a whole different ball game when it comes to washing someone’s else car. Firstly some of the cars that comes in is clearly not driven by humans. Yes, I repeat it – not humans. Vomits, chips, spilled milk, dog furs, mud, black oil and dusts is just a small part of things that you will discover in some of the cars (especially, sorry to say, women drivers). It is amazing that there are humans out there who are willing to be driving on daily basis in a car covered with those things. Secondly some of the drivers who came in for the car wash are simply too impatient before we get the car all done. I noticed this mainly from the lady drivers, the male drivers on the other hand, don’t mind the extra time taken to clean their cars. Sometimes it is the other way around – too many cars lined up and very less time to get the car washed up and me and my cousin get too impatient to clear them.

At first, I follow the so-called “routine” – often looking for queues from my cousin and often limit myself to wiping down the car after it has gone through the snow wash. Then slowly I moved on to interior cleaning, vacuuming, tire polish and later on to shampooing the car (we did not use the cheap detergent but a proper car shampoo). And we embarked on improving the quality of service, gradually – one that immediately sets us apart from our competitors. We decided to wash the cars in the same manner we wash our own car or rather how we want car wash centers to wash our cars. Yes, it takes longer to complete the washing but in the end, the effort taken is much appreciated by our customers – the car is a lot more cleaner and we included a small effort of detailing of the interiors.

Which car wash centers dusts off the dusts on your dashboard. the dial meters and the finger prints on the mirrors and the old stain under the car plate number? Yes, we do all that. In fact, if we have time, we actually wipe and clean each strand of the tire rims to make it clean and shiny. Detailing is part of our services for no extra cost. And once we have done all the washing and wiping and before we hand over the keys back to our customers, there is one final round of quality check. And our customers loves that and so much that we often see them bring their cars, their wife’s car on weekly basis and telling their friends & family members to visit us as well. We got a lot of referrals and that pushed us to ensure quality is always maintained eventhough we have cars waiting to be washed. No rushed work as far as we are concerned. Surprisingly people wait for us – once a customer waited for 2 hours for my cousin to open shop. This is excluding those who are coming in for wax & polish (which took at least half a day to be done but we still had customers) and some to clean their headlights.

There were other developments as well – I started to meet my daily active minutes, consistently meeting it on the weekends when I am “working” at the car wash. And if there are enough cars to wash, I can easily clock in the minimum 10,000 steps. I sweat a lot so much so I started to drink gallons of water – sometimes within minutes my large 1.5 liter water bottle would be empty and I have to replenish on a regular basis. Interestingly drinking a lot of water when I am at “work” did not mean frequent visit to the toilet and in fact, all the days I was at the car wash, I did not once went to the toilet, no matter how much water I had been drinking the whole day. I gather most of the water that I drank is dispensed when I sweat a lot. It was a good workout from morning until late evening and by the time I come back home with a very soaked T-shirt, I would be energy drained – just enough to take a light dinner (sometimes a burger near the car wash) and knock off for a good night sleep. Yes, I started to lose weight and feel healthier as well.

Business was good except when it rains – there were days when we hardly had any cars due to the heavy rain. We will sit at the sofa, waiting for customers to come in once the rain had stopped but never once there have been a dull moment at the car wash except maybe when the cats from the nearby workshop decided to mess up the place (you know I hate cats right?). No dull moments because me and my cousin share the same passion for old Tamil songs especially one from MSV and Illayaraja – we will fire up our smartphones and sit down to listen to the songs whilst waiting for the rain to stop. On other days, we will recall back our childhood and incidents such as the meet up at our Grandma’s house for Deepavali. There were plenty of funny & interesting stories, some unknown to me from that “era” and we would end up laughing on that events. Usually after the rain had stopped, we will see cars now muddied coming over for a good wash.

My stint at my cousin’s car wash was however a short one – just several months short. My cousin soon found that despite good business and a string of loyal customers (ha, I even had one, coming in on the weekends for detailing), it was not enough to continue. He had other issues well to resolve – one had been manpower. It is hard to expand with just one person handling the whole thing. So ended my weekly workout at the car wash – I was kind of sad to leave that active & fun environment but my wife was relieved to see me at home on the weekends. My cousin had moved on as well – he got busy with other work but both of us agreed that if we have the chance and opportunity, we would open a proper car wash center but maintain the same level of commitment and quality. Car wash center is one kind of gym that gives you work and works you at the same time.

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Before You Can Reach for Space…


Read these first:-

exploration_discovery

(Space exploration – this is where the future lies and we need to look beyond, move beyond our comfort zone. Image source: discovermagazine.com)

Well, let’s read this interesting piece of development when it comes to the direction of the nation:-

Malaysia now has a National Space Policy to allow the country to look into developing technologies related to aerospace and turn it into a new economic contributor.

With the policy in place, authorities can plan to develop this sector systematically and ensure it is well managed so that the nation will benefit from it.

Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said that fields related to space science, be it research or creating new technologies, have vast potential and he was confident that Malaysia could become a significant contributor to the world in these areas.

The Prime Minister said he was happy to read about the success story of astrophysics PhD student Nurul Adlyka Ainul Annuar, whose discovery in the field of astronomy made headlines around the world.

(Source)

Malaysia does not have an organisation as big as or as well-run as or as well financed as NASA when it comes to the space and related studies. But we do have these organisations that ensured Malaysians do not missed out on the space race:-

ANGKASA – It is our own National Space Agency and their mission is to develop the country’s potential in the space sector to support the development of the new economy, generate knowledge and strengthen the national security infrastructure.

National Planetarium – It have shows about astronomy and the night sky and also handles training in celestial navigation.

National Science Centre – out of it’s many missions under it’s arm is provide interactive science exhibits and simplify the implementation of science and technology. In essence, helping to create a scientific society.

The above of course excludes the various Ministries and other lesser agencies related to the area of education, space, science and technology. Well, in conclusion, at least we do have something – which is better than nothing. And it is good that the Government is also looking into that general direction with the introduction of a National Space Policy.

The NSC, which was set up last year, was based on the rationale that the Science, Technology and Innovations (STI) agenda could be monitored and coordinated under one council only to avoid duplication.

The Minister of Science, Technology and Innovations (MOSTI), Datuk Seri Wilfred Madius Tangau said the formulation of the National Space Policy enabled the planning and development of the national space sector to be implemented in a more proper manner for efficient management.

He said the policy formed the basis for the formulation of the Outer Space Act aimed at supervising activities and operations relating to the space sector such as the launching and operation of satellites, registration of objects launched into outer space, the operation of an Earth station and related activities.

(Source)

Frankly speaking, it is a giant step for the nation, it is the right step indeed – we need the drive towards science and space explorations. We need more people who will be able to look beyond. That’s great indeed. However, this is the Bolehland that we are talking about and in the Bolehland, we have this ugly side of religion that seems to spook people from thinking aloud and even come up with silliest stunt. I mean if we cannot kill the monster on silly things, how we even going to look into the vast area called space.

Prime Minister Najib Razak expressed his displeasure with the conduct of enforcement officers during the recent operation against traders selling the paintbrushes, saying they should have not been too hasty, The Star reported.

“I understand the issue with the paintbrushes with pig bristles but we cannot simply confiscate and compound the traders.

“We are living in a multiracial society, we have to respect other races in this country,” he said during a Chinese New Year gathering at SJK Chung Hua yesterday.

Earlier this week, the Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism Ministry confiscated paintbrushes suspected to be made from pig bristles and slapped traders with compounds.

Najib disagreed with the conduct of enforcement officers and said the ministry should have advised traders to label the paintbrushes accordingly.

(Source)

And it did not take long before other silly questions started to crop up – namely on the blood and organ donation of non Muslims and for Muslims. The comments on the social media on the above was less forgiving though – especially when one hand, paint brushes using pig bristles was eagerly confiscated and made headlines but on the other hand, blood & organs of people who probably had pork for breakfast, lunch and dinner their whole life was somehow acceptable. Personally, I agree that blood donation and organ allocation should not be based on race, religion, background, social standing and others.

And there is the picky issue of Science and Mathematics not taught in English. We are still doing flip flops on what language we want to drive this nation on excelling on these 2 key subjects that plays a big role when it comes to the science and space exploration. Mind you that the example that Najib used in his speech, the PHD student, Nurul Adlyka Ainul Annuar was a not a student in local university. She is in fact currently pursuing her PhD in Astrophysics at the Centre for Extragalactic Astronomy at Durham University in the United Kingdom where I trust the language of Science is not in Bahasa. And she was not alone in making the discovery – she was part of a team that made the discovery.

The point is that before you look up and look beyond into the space, you need to look down and see whether we have a more opened and matured society that is keen to work with others and doesn’t simply dismisses an argument or a theory without the notion of religion and race. We need more enpowered people who will be able to spur the nation to greater heights, to space and beyond.

Would You Believe It?


spoon-boy

(Still remember the “no spoon” scene in The Matrix? You understand the meaning of the scene? I had always thought of it as something not real and yet you see it with your own eyes. Image source: Matrix Fans)

I was reading this one morning last week:-

A consultant for a township in Kuala Nerus, Terengganu under fire for planting a RM180,000 tree has explained that the cost had also included its transportation from Brazil. Zaini Ibrahim, director of Perunding Irzi Sdn Bhd that is the lead consultant for the project, also said that the second Ceiba chodatii tree also known as silk floss tree, will be planted at another entry point to Bandar Baru Kuala Nerus.

“There is no mention of the tree in the contract. What was made known were two iconic landmarks,” Zaini was quoted saying by The Star daily in a report today.

The contractor thought the tree would be a great landmark and he went out of his way to choose the type of the tree.” Zaini said the rest of the 100-hectare land would be planted with local trees and plants.

(Source)

I think they spent almost half a million ringgit for the “iconic landmark”

The State Government said that they did not use the taxpayers money and so also the Public Works Department. Both had denied use of taxpayers money since the news went viral.

But if you think about it and ask yourself this question – does it make sense that a contractor who is doing a commercial business would spend half a million ringgit (mind you, not a small quantum) and bring trees all the way from Brazil and does not get paid anything for the expenses?

Perhaps they have factored that in the overall cost – which means the contract had been inflated to include the expensive trees. Perhaps they had managed to save enough in the contract and instead of returning the saving back to the taxpayers, they decided to spend it on expensive trees. Or maybe they had misinterpreted the requirements but had screwed the execution – then it is too bad, they should not be paid anything.

Anyway, if you ask me, the whole story does not add up – just the story of an elusive Arab prince giving away billions of ringgit to some politician as a donation. That’s bending the spoon a bit too far.

Then we have this “hey look, it is cheaper compared to XYZ country!” statement from one honorable Minister:-

The recent increase in petrol price should not be made an excuse for traders to increase prices of their goods, Minister of Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism (MDTCC) Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainudin said today.

He said that despite the increase, the fuel price in Malaysia is still the lowest in Southeast Asia, with the exception of Brunei.

Malaysia is among 15 countries with the cheapest fuel price among 180 countries in the world, he said in his speech at a Chinese New Year dinner organised by Giant Supermarket for the less affordable Chinese community here tonight

(Source)

Reduction of subsidies is good in the long run and there are other things that we need to focus on – read here for details

However to say that despite the increase in the petrol price, there should not be any increase of price of goods is ridiculous. Wasn’t the honorable Minister aware of the past incidents of goods price hike because the price of raw materials like petrol, sugar, flour, etc had gone up? Of course, it is now made worst with the introduction of GST and even the smallest of the small traders started to sell things at an insane price.

The comparing of “price” with other countries should stop – there are some who will simply compare the price as if it is an apple to apple comparison but easily ignores all other factors such as availability of raw material, location, currency foreign exchange, population demand, level of income & living standards, etc. And oh yes, how educated and informed politicians in managing the affairs of the country..

Rest assured that with the increase of petrol price, some of the traders either having no other choice (due to increase of transportation cost) or on purpose (using high petrol price as an excuse) will increase prices of their goods. There is no escape about this. And if the Government keep reducing the petrol subsidies, the petrol price will keep increasing and so does the price of goods (and even services).

So what the Government intends to do about it? Instead of just saying that the traders should not raise prices, can the Government be more proactive with increased actions and change of policies such as these?

1. Stricter enforcement against unscrupulous price increase?
2. Setting aside the key goods as controlled item?
3. Reduction of direct and indirect taxes (GST is one) to offset the increase in price?

But please never say because the price of petrol goes up, it will not have a cascading effect on other items that dependent on the price of petrol. The cost transportation is not going to remain the same with high petrol price. It is akin to sweeping the problem under the carpet – you don’t see it any more but the problem remains unresolved.

Expensive trees but no taxpayers involved?

Increase in petrol price but no increase in price of goods?

Sometimes don’t you feel like you are living a Matrix, right?

Trump’s Immigration Ban


170131_slate_chart-banned-trump-correctio-jpg-crop-promo-xlarge2

(The omission was too glaring and that simply add to the unfairness of the whole affair. Image source: http://www.slate.com)

Well, it finally happened – that “The Apprentice” guy, Donald Trump becomes the 45th President of the United States of America on 20th January 2017.

So it was not a big surprise when he decided to “shake” things down once he had officially taken office – he have been talking about throughout his election campaign. And that includes his promise to build the wall against Mexico (funding aside) and stopping people from certain countries entering the country.

President Trump on Friday closed the nation’s borders to refugees from around the world, ordering that families fleeing the slaughter in Syria be indefinitely blocked from entering the United States, and temporarily suspending immigration from several predominantly Muslim countries.

The executive order suspends the entry of refugees into the United States for 120 days and directs officials to determine additional screening ”to ensure that those approved for refugee admission do not pose a threat to the security and welfare of the United States.”

The order also stops the admission of refugees from Syria indefinitely, and bars entry into the United States for 90 days from seven predominantly Muslim countries linked to concerns about terrorism. Those countries are Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen.

(Source)

The funny part of the whole affair is that the Iranian Government seems to be very upset that they have been listed under the list of countries to be banned from entering the US. It is funny because the Iranian Government had always perceived US as the Great Satan. So if the Great Satan is stopping your people from entering it’s Hell, why you get upset? Anyway it is just something for your thoughts.

Noticeably there were some countries missing from the immigration ban.

US-based researcher Arif Jamal argues that President Donald Trump cannot defeat radical Islam by excluding Saudi Arabia and Pakistan from his contentious move barring US entry to people from some Muslim nations.

On the contrary, all major terrorist groups that have attacked the United States and other Western countries over the past couple of decades – from al Qaeda to the Taliban to the so-called “Islamic State” (IS) – can trace their roots back to Sunni-led countries, particularly Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Qatar. But conspicuously these countries didn’t make the list.

(Source)

Well, I can see where Trump is coming from and how the recent terrorist attacks in Europe may have shaped this policy. After all, before he signed off the order, he did called the German Chancellor Angela Merkel ‘insane’ for her immigration decisions. But are the ban valid?

Mail Online has analysed all the terrorist attacks in Europe, including Turkey, since 9/11.

No individuals from five of the countries on the list – Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen – had been linked to any terrorist attacks in Europe in the last 15 years, although some could be linked to Islamist bases and training camps in Libya, Somalia and Yemen.

Raffaello Pantucci, a counter-terrorism expert at the Royal United Services Institute in London, told Mail Online: ‘Most terrorist attacks in America are carried out by Americans.

(Source)

terrorist-list-malaysia

(In this 2011 Department of Homeland Security report, Malaysia is listed as a “Specially Designated Country”. SDC are countries that have shown a tendency to promote, produce or protect terrorist organisations or their members. Image source: OutSyed The Box)

We can breathe in relief that Malaysia is not in the immediate Trump’s list of banned countries. However it may change if we do not keep extremism in check.

Police neutralised 14 attempted terrorist attacks in 2016

Malaysians were given a reality check when the first ever Islamic State-orchestrated attack hit Malaysian soil on June 28 when a hand grenade was hurled at an entertainment outlet in Puchong, resulting in eight people injured.

However, Malaysians know little about the behind-the-scene pre-emptive actions taken by the police that foiled at least 14 planned terror attacks in Malaysia by IS militants, said a senior anti-terrorism official.

Security officials were reluctant to share details of the attempted attacks due to the sensitive nature of the information.

(Source)

Kudos to the police for their hard work and diligence in crushing terrorist attacks in this country. However the headlines “Police neutralised 14 attempted terrorist attacks in 2016” is very worrying. Who knows the number of terrorist attacks that did not take place because of a lost opportunity or the terrorists changed their mind at the last minute or they have a different objective & location to terrorise.

It is not a secret (and the world knows this too) that there are plenty of Malaysians in Syria fighting for the ISIS and they have threatened to unleash the same acts of terrorism in this country. News of ISIS sympathizers or agents being caught by the police have become a norm these days.

Then we have people like Zakir Naik who is on the run from his home country, coming into this country freely and doing public sermons.

Fugitive televangelist Dr Zakir Naik will be delivering a Friday sermon in Perlis on February 10, according to a poster shared by the state’s mufti Datuk Dr Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin yesterday

Last month, Dr Zakir visited a private Islamic-centric university in Shah Alam, Selangor, which is also under investigation for radical teachings after two students were arrested on suspicion of being Islamic State recruits planning a terror attack locally.

Although a fugitive in India, Deputy Home Minister Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamed said the controversial Islamic preacher is free to travel in Malaysia because he is not on the terror list here.

He has been reported by several Indian newspapers to be on the run to avoid prosecution in India.

The Salafist preacher has also been banned from several countries like Bangladesh, Canada and the UK.

(Source)

Frankly speaking, there is nothing wrong in bringing foreign speakers for sermons and religion functions. And I say that it does not only happens for Muslims but also other religions. In fact, we have Hindu gurus and priests, Buddhist monks and Christian preachers (some of them super rich) coming to this country on a regular basis and devotees signs up for such sermons / religion talks months upfront. Religion is a very big and profitable business nowadays. So I don’t really see a fuss and the logic of my fellow Malaysians questioning foreigners coming to the country for sermons. Sometimes it is good to get out from our comfort zone and get a different perspective of religion from outside experts aka holy men.

But when you have someone who is not only banned and wanted for links with terrorism in other countries (including Bangladesh – a Muslim majority country), one need to exercise great caution.

Just watch this talk by Zakir Naik who questions the propagation of faith (in forms of allowing places of religion to be built) by non Muslims. This kind of talk does not fit a multi racial, religion model country like Malaysia. In fact, it works against it and makes one Malaysian to look at fellow Malaysians as a threat due to different faith & beliefs. It sows the seeds of disunity and intolerance. We need more avenues to unite us and not foreigners who will disunite us even more.

In this video, using a very bad example of a maths teacher, he claims that only in his own religion, the computation is correct i.e. 2 + 2 = 4 whilst all other religion will compute wrongly. But does it really happens that way? All religion teaches one to be tolerant and exercising good behaviors. To shoot down other’s religion does not necessarily elevates your own religion – I have always said this.

Every religion have their share of extremism as well but it does not mean it is wrong (or evil). At the end of the day, it all depends on how you use religion in your daily life and religion is something that should be personal and ends there. So it is not right to say that “I am right, you are wrong” when it comes to something personal. In fact, the more you talk bad about others, it will back fire and will cause others to look at religion as something intolerant, rigid and enforces compulsion when it should be the other around. And if you claim that others have failed religion, why then they have a very prosperous and matured society? It is the same case where Iranians for ages have labelled the US as the Great Satan but get upset when the same Great Satan closes its doors.

We already have “funny but disbelief” incidents such as the protest that forced a church to take down a sign of cross back in 2015 (the excuse for the protest – the cross will confuse Muslims). Are you saying that Muslims in this country had never seen a cross before and all the sudden, one fine morning, they wake up and seeing it for the first time and it will confuse them? It sounds dumb, right? But interestingly, that is very premise that smooth talking preachers like Zakir Naik is doing in his talks and whilst the implications may not be so obvious but the outcome can be very grave indeed.

And then we also have a spew of misinformation and made up facts (yes, it called fiction) that is used rather sparingly to justify his talk on religion. Watch this video where Naik attacks Darwin and the notion of evolution and he simply wrongly quotes or uses wrong facts to show that he is correct (which is not the case):-

For someone who is not familiar with Darwinism or even have a good command of the English language, Zakir may sound like a God send angel with good information at his finger tips. Perhaps this is why at one point of time, Darwin’s book on the evolution was actually got banned? I don’t know. It is not a secret that science and religion is like water and oil – it does not mix that well but at the point when wrong information is used to justify someone interpretation of religion, it is dangerous and irresponsible.

Now looking back at President Trump’s decision to ban entry to a selected immigrants, it may sound harsh and cruel and unfair but think again, that itself should make others to wake up and look at the cause of the ban in the first place. And if it is unfair, then what are the other countries around the world is going to do about it? No Middle East country have come out in the open and made the commitment to take in the refugees and other immigrants in the droves – perhaps they should look into it now (they are nearer too). And talking about terrorism, banning entry is just one of the short term solution although it is a bad solution if implemented blindly and in general. They should have a proper solution in place and allow people are genuinely in need of help whilst identifying and stopping red flags and potential sleeper agents at their tracks.

One cannot run away from this – not at this age of human civilization.