Ending The Year 2014


najib golf

(Not everyone can be the PM – very, very hard at “work” overseas. Some had said that there is nothing wrong for a leader to take a break. Well, that is correct but not when the country is seeing one of the worst floods around. The big mamma still on holiday, its so seems – no one had seen her wading through the high water in downtown Kota Bahru. Image source)

Before I go further, my deepest condolences to the family and friends on those were abroad the Air Asia Flight QZ8501 – the 3rd tragedy in the year that involves a Malaysian linked airline. I don’t know why Malaysians had to face this – not once or twice but three times in the same year. MH370 is still missing and MH17 just had to be at the wrong place, wrong time and QZ8501 must have met mother of all storms. One just hope that there will be some kind of closure in 2015.

Heartfelt prayers also goes to the flood victims in the East Coast (and also in the West Coast now) that saw one of the worst flooding since 1971. Prepping is no longer a joke – with such flooding is due to be a yearly affair, we need to look at prepping in a wider scope. Management of the rivers and coastal areas would be critical aspect of prepping from the Government. Citizens on the other hand should look into making their homes to be flood-proof or have an alternative place to stay and of course with proper stockpile of food and water. Stories piling up on instances of people running out of food and water and the situation looks hopelessly lost. Nonetheless it is a grave reminder of things to come. The more we put off prepping for such instances in the coming years, the more painful it is going to be. It is a reminder to me too as I have been focusing less on prepping in 2014.

My own 3 weeks break came and went without a blink and I will be soon be traveling again on work assignment. My flight back to Malaysia was scheduled to take off at about 8 plus in the morning and knowing that I need to be in the airport at least 2 hours before boarding and it is about 1 hour plus from the apartment to the airport, I booked a taxi to fetch me from the apartment at about 4 in the morning (that taxi driver came and waited for me since 3.30 am!). With the taxi booked and all luggage packed for the trip back home by 9 pm, I contemplated of taking a short nap. The night was still early and I was sure that I could woke up at 3 am. Just when I was to jump on the bed, I had a dreadful vision – the alarm ringing but I casually switching it off and going to bed, only to wake up at 10 am in the morning. I did not want to miss my flight, so I made a big pot of coffee and watched movie on TV. Good thing I was not feeling that sleepy and hours went off fast. A good shower in the wee morning ensure I was awake as I took the luggage down to the awaiting taxi.

I must have dozed off in the taxi – there was a bump and when I opened my eyes, we were just arriving at the airport. Another long wait for the airport for the check-in and breakfast but at least I was at the airport.

wolf

(Although I was disappointed on missing some of the titles that I saw in the previous year, this should be enough to last me until the next Big Bad Wolf Book sale)

When I came back home, instead of the usual nap I often take whenever I come back from overseas, I had to go off and do some work for the house (haircut however came first before anything else). My kids were excited to see me back, so they hardly allowed me to catch up on my sleep. Then at night, we went to the Big Bad Wolf Book Sales and I spent almost RM300 on books (this time around, my choice of books was less compared to the stack that my son had). It was however worth the trip – RM300 bought us almost 3 boxes of new books.

We came back late and decided against driving off to north in the morning (you see, I had promised my son to take him to the water park in Ipoh for the holidays). We decided to go after lunch which was not so bad as the traffic by then was fine and we did not have to slow down in many areas. The only “funny” thing that happened was my car door automatically unlocks itself and locks again when I press the brakes. By the time, we reached the in-laws house to stay for the holidays, it was already evening and my relatives were coming back from work. We stayed up late again, chit-chatting and watching movie. I was already feeling like zombie when I finally went to the bed (I was given a room of my own) but had a very disruptive sleep because I had to wake up a few times at night going to the bathroom (had too much to drink).

In the morning, the weather was great but I had something to do first – go and fix my car central locking. Still remember when it unlocks and locks itself when I was driving? It became worse – I found the car unlock when I went to check on it in the morning. That means if I lock up the car, a few minutes later, it will unlock itself and that is all that was needed for a car jacker to have an easy access to my car. I called the service centre and good thing was they had few cars on service schedule in the morning. The mechanic “managed” to fix it within 30 minutes – loose wiring they said. Happily I took the car out and barely 100 meters from the service centre, the problem started again. I drove back and this time, the mechanic followed me in the car. It was apparent then, that he had not fixed the problem. He took it back to check and this time, it took him almost 2 hours (including replacing the whole central locking mechanism) to get it right. Almost half day had gone by then. I went back and seeing that it was too late to go to water park, I decided on something that I have been holding back for past few days – catching up on my sleep.

rain

(I think this is Kuala Kangsar after our lunch in Chemor – we made a pit stop here because there is a famous bakery here where we wanted to buy bread. Situation was not ideal to bring the kids out for the fun day at the water park)

The next day, when we suppose to go to the water park, it started to rain cats and dogs. The situation looked gloomy. Even my son did not want to go out as the weather was very bad. My father in law however decided that we go for a lunch at one place he knows in Chemor (very near to the water park that we wanted to go). It was raining when we left the house, it was raining when we were on the highway and it was getting even worse when we drove into Chemor town. After parking the car at the back of the a small restaurant (it looked quite old as well) and struggling with the umbrella in the heavy downpour, we managed to get the 2 car load of people in front of the restaurant. We walked in and the atmosphere immediately changed. Inside was very modern and roomier. Lunch was extraordinary with my son ordering spicy crab curry and a good load of crabs to go with it. It was still raining when we left the restaurant and decided to take the old road instead of the highway and drive through the places where my grandmother used to live.

The so-called break from work at my in-laws place ended up with a bang (literally). We head back home on a working day, hoping that the highway would be free (and it was indeed) and the ride would be more pleasant. Nearing KL, things started to slow as we caught with the on-going road works with 2 of the 3 lanes closed. The traffic started to move slower and at some places, it was almost bumper to bumper. It was just after lunch time too and things was getting were warm in the car (despite the air-cond high). That coupled with the crawling traffic started to show its ugly side – I was falling asleep.

Often there was enough space in between for me to recover and stop the car but this time, there was none. Just when I thought of stopping at the next R&R, I must have dozed off as the next thing I realised is that I have bumped into the car in front. For moment, I was blur on what had happened. The driver came out and started looking at his bumper. Fearing the worst, I came out from the car, expecting to confront an angry driver but instead the man looked at me and said that there was no damaged and extended his hands. I shook his hand, said sorry and went back to my car. Rest assured, I stayed wide awake the rest of the journey but I still stopped at the next R&R for a break (and also to check if there is any other hidden damage). Imagine if I had dozed off when the traffic was fast (and me traveling at 110 km/h) and rear-ended a truck instead. I must have done some good karma to walk away from this with nothing more than a word of “sorry” and an handshake.

2014 had not been a very good year but it has not been a very bad one too. I had good times catching up with my primary school mates – some not met for almost 30 plus years recently. Blogging had taken a very back seat this year with me hardly having the time (but not ideas – thanks to travels and good old Malaysian politicians) to blog. I traveled to a new country this year, met good friends there, enjoyed the food & culture and hope to go to another in 2015. Work compounded this year compared in 2013 but that was expected – when one moves up in the organization structure, there will be more responsibilities, tasks and plans.

Happy New Year everyone and I will see you next year!

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Oh Dear, Darwin Banned in Malaysia


banthisbook-blog

(What is the criteria to ban a book? What constitute a great endangerment of public harmony? It gets rather ugly when a book is banned just because it goes against one’s personal values and beliefs. Cartoon source: http://www.incidentalcomics.com)

Still saying that the implementation of hudud will not impact the non Muslims? Well, think again.

This little revelation hardly made front page but it had left me with mixed feelings:-

According to the Home Ministry’s website, there are a total of 1,532 banned publications, with the most recent publication to face the government’s wrath being, inexplicably, a comic entitled Ultraman: The Ultra Power.

While the very act of banning books cannot possibly be justified, there is another trend that makes even less sense. There appears to be certain books that are banned only in the Malay language, while there are no restrictions whatsoever on their English versions.

One such example is the seminal book, The Origin of Species by Charles Darwin, which is available for sale at many bookstores in Malaysia. However, its Malay translation, Asal-usul Spesies, is listed as a banned book under the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1982.

Charles Darwin’s famous book is not the only publication to suffer such a fate. One other example is Karen Armstrong’s Islam: A Short History, which is freely available at bookstores and university libraries in Malaysia, while Sepintas Sejarah Islam, the Malay translation, is also listed as a banned book.

In the last Parliamentary session, I submitted a question on The Origin of Species, enquiring why the Malay translation of the book is banned while the English version is allowed.

According to the written reply by the Home Minister (see attachments), the book is banned because it “endangers public harmony.” Explaining further, the Minister also states that the “translated book depicts a view of the origin and creation of species that goes against Islamic teachings and is in contravention of the Islamic Materials Censorship Guidelines as well as the beliefs of the Ahli Sunnah Wal Jamaah….”

Meanwhile, the English version is allowed because the Home Ministry has “not received any complaints regarding the existence of any infringements of Islamic aspects…” according to the very same guidelines by Jakim.

The explanation by the Home Minister not only makes absolutely no sense, it is also a veritable insult to the intelligence of Malaysians. How can the same book be considered a public danger and against Islamic teachings in one language, but perfectly acceptable in another?

Worse, is the Home Minister also effectively telling Malaysians that knowledge is reserved only for those who are English-literate? Is a Malaysian who can only speak and read in Malay considered not mature enough to make informed decisions? As most people who fall into the latter category are Malays, the question then arises whether there is a deliberate policy to keep Malays ignorant.

Not only is such discrimination abominable, it is also ineffective because books and knowledge can be easily accessed and obtained on the Internet.
Therefore, I call upon the Home Minister to lift restrictions on the sale and distribution of all publications, and to immediately end the intellectual persecution of Malaysians.

Zairil Khir Johari
Member of Parliament for Bukit Bendera
DAP Assistant National Publicity Secretary

(Source)

Banning a book because it upsets certain section of the people is nothing new in this country. And we are not alone on this.

But the thing is, is the book banned on very valid reasons or we ban a book because we don’t understand the subject matter and do not know how to react to it positively? The fact that translated book that has nothing to do with religion is banned in Malaysia on excuse of religion shows how far we are in terms of critical thinking and how much we are exposed to the real world affairs. If that is the case, it sets a dangerous precedent and what happens if other religion resort to the same measures. Hindus don’t eat beef so should they call for a total ban of cow meat into the country? That would be silly, right?

Now, before anyone comes along and say that why the non Muslims are worried about this as the English version is readily made available, think on the long term impact of simply banning Science related books just because it goes against the teaching of Islam

You still remember this?

Parent’s Action Group for English (PAGE) is not giving up on its campaign to get the authorities to allow science and mathematics to be taught in English (PPSMI). Its president, Datin Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim, said the lingua franca of science is English, which is also the language of the internet.

“The government cannot expect students to switch to English (in international fields) effortlessly after learning maths and science in Malay for so long. “Students should start learning science and maths at kindergartens so that they won’t be faced with the problem of language transition to English later,” she said.

(Source)

Mind you, this affects both Muslim and non Muslim students. The shortcomings of teaching science and mathematics in Bahasa Malaysia instead of English has been numerous, from the lack of teachers able to read and speak proper English (some people simply fear the language and take no initiative to learn) to the lack of reading & technical materials in Bahasa Malaysia (once again, it goes back to non having enough competent people to translate the existing books) and it has come to a point where even the Old Man was restless:-

“The Government is focusing too much on Bahasa Malaysia. The Malays, however, are not experts in science and technology. This kind of knowledge comes from the West and the information is mostly in English,” he added.

Noting that the Government had instead followed the advice of National Laureate Datuk A. Samad Said by reverting to teaching both subjects in the national language, Dr Mahathir said this would only hamper the country’s development.

“He (Samad) only knows about Bahasa Malaysia. He is not a Science man. I am a Science man and I can still speak in Malay,” he pointed out, adding, “This is why I keep talking about it.”

(Source)

Thus, putting the science books (even though translated) under the scrutiny of the religious people will only make things worse. Don’t they know that water and oil will never mix? Same goes for science and religion. In the end, does anyone really cares if the country would be a loser at the end of the day?

As I had said earlier, this leaves me with mixed feelings. I don’t know whether to be angry or feel pity on the fact that one of the more famed books in the study of evolution gets banned just because it does not “conform” to Islamic teachings and it endangers public harmony. What constitutes endanger public harmony anyway? I know a couple of things that also endanger public harmony but nothing had happened.

To some of us, the theory of evolution may just be science fiction but it is also not a myth too. After all, one cannot dismiss the fact that all living creatures and plants in this world is subjected to the process of evolution one way or another.

It was the same case when Galileo came out to tell that the Earth revolves around the Sun and not the other way around. Despite proof, the religious dunggus were only interested on Galileo’s blood (well, not really but he was kept under house arrest nonetheless). At the end of the day, the mainstream science will never conform with religion – there will be some give & take here and there but no one from either side of the view will come and admit that the other view is absolutely right.

This is one reason why you should not mix religion and politics together – you will end up getting dumb decisions. Today they ban the translated The Origin of Species by Charles Darwin but tomorrow, who knows, they may just ban all other translated science books. And once that is done, still unsatisfied, they will even then ban the English books. And the there is no prize for guessing who would be the biggest losers at the end of the day. What then the students would be using for cross reference?

So don’t be surprised, one way we will wake up and realized that the “science” books allowed and available are those written by a small time preacher from a small village deep in Taliban lands and it will anything but science.

Big Bad Wolf 2013


After the great success last year (and the years before), BBWB (Big Bad Wolf Book) sale was back at the same place this year and we made sure we were there on the opening day.

But before that, please allow me to trace back to the beginning of this year when I mentioned that I was intending on adding another book cabinet before end of the year BBWB sale and turn the small family area upstairs into a mini library. Until Deepavali, the lone book cabinet was overflowing with books and magazine but then when we were “cleaning” up the house for Deepavali, my sister came over and slowly worked on the books and somehow managed to find enough space for all the books that we had bought todate. She managed to find even more space once she had moved my son’s comics back to his room. In the end, it looked like there was enough space to hold all the books we expected to buy in this year’s BBWB. But I knew that sooner or later, I still need to get that extra book cabinet – I won’t have enough space for the next BBWB sale – I am very sure of it.

This year, the BBWB sale started on Friday last week and will continue for 24 hours until this Sunday. With my HEO (house executive officer) and the 2 big bosses out at the in-laws house up north for the school holidays and I will not be free for the coming holiday on Wednesday and on this weekend, it looked like I only had one weekend to go for the sale. So I messaged my sister who is another loyal visitor to BBWB and who also have a good collection of books herself and asked if she was planning of going to BBWB (she usually do on the opening) and if she is, whether I can ‘tumpang” along for the ride. She immediately messaged back that she was going that night and she asked me if I wanted to join her. Since she was driving and it is after work hours (i.e. quite late at night – the best time to shop for books), I immediately agreed.

Despite waiting up late before leaving the house, we made the same mistake we did last year – i.e. by going at the same time when the patrons of Mines shopping center was leaving, causing a super bottleneck at the entrance. We should have left at an hour later when all had left leaving only those “book crazy people” (like me and my sister) driving up in peace for the BBWB sale at Mines. We crawled from the main highway (sorry, it was worse than a crawl) and towards the parking lot at the convention center. As usual, there were more than enough idiots making things even worse by queue jumping and causing the proper lane to come to a complete standstill. It took some time but we stick to the proper lane – just because there were idiots out there, it does not mean we need to become one as well. Besides the BBWB sale was a 24 hours event – the later we come in, the less people at the sale (hopefully).

Hoping that there is still parking lot for us, we inched on towards the entrance of the Mines Convention Center. We paid our parking fees and noticed that the first lot of the parking was full – the attendant was closing the entrance just when we reached the place. He then pointed towards another entrance and when we drove towards that, we were surprised that that one was quite empty. After parking the car, we were for a moment got lost – there was almost no signage whatsoever pointing towards to the lobby. We walked around looking for the exit towards the main lobby and then we saw a group walking and we kind of just followed them, hoping that they knew where they were going – good thing they were.

Despite the crowd outside the convention center, the crowd inside was somehow manageable. For this year, the organizers had switched places where one can collect the empty boxes and to store the books, making it a more “user friendly” for the shoppers. The empty boxes can easily be collected at the entrance – the guy stationed there was a very friendly and helped to get the right size of the boxes depending on how many books we intend to buy. I made a mistake of picking a larger box (despite the guy offering a smaller box). The larger box is good to hold all the books I intended to buy for the day, all in one place but it was taxing on my arms and the back, carrying that box all over the place. I lost count of the times I had put down the box down, not because it was heavy but it was too large to hold it properly and walk around the crowd.

BBWB books

BBWB books 2

In terms of book range this year, I focused on the same non-fictions and sci-fi novels (I saw some of the last year titles sold cheaper this year). I picked a book on tanks (I wanted to buy it last year but I gave it a miss since I had other books in the box). Then a couple of Jeffrey Archer‘s 2-in-1 novels mainly because it was small and it was a bargain at RM10 per book. I walked around and then I saw “Political Biography of Indira Gandhi” priced at RM10. I have read in detail about the other Gandhi and I know something about this Gandhi, so it seemed a good time to pick up this book. Waiting at the counter to pay, I then realized that that the copy that I took does not have a price sticker, so I walked back and then noticed that the same book was also priced at RM8. Both books were stacked up side by side (how I could have missed that?) – same quality but different prices. Strange.

I also got “The Pacific” companion book by Hugh Ambrose which was a gem because I have seen the whole TV series and I loved the entire series – it has to be since “The Pacific” was the most expensive television miniseries ever created by any network (by the way, I also loved Band of Brothers which showed how men and women during the war fought on what was right and did things right). I also got myself “Papillon” – I have seen the movie acted excellently by Steve McQueen as Papillon and Dustin Hoffman many times before but as in the case of the Lord of the Rings, a heavily edited for commercial success movie does not tell the whole story in complete. You still need to read the actual book to understand the story in complete. I picked up some other books but when I reached my limit of RM100 (it was actual RM102), I  decided to stop – or rather I forced myself to stop, otherwise I could have burned another RM100 – RM200 easily.

In total, the damage was about RM182 for about 20 books that me and my sister picked up during our 2-3 hours shopping at BBWB (we lost count of the actual hours). It was worth the money and time – it was almost 1.30 am when we walked back to the car with 2 large plastic bags. Once reached home, I was just too tired to take my usual “before going to bed shower” and only woke up at 2 pm later.

Now, I can’t wait to finish reading my new books and for next year’s BBWB sale….

2013 – Expectations & Targets


book cabinet

(The overloaded book cabinet that is long due to get a “partner” – the sign was obvious when we started to see books all over the place. And we have targeted this year to get one and reorganise the area into a mini-library )

Happy New Year to all and welcome! So, what’s I am expecting in 2013?

We will have the big Boss’ 1st year birthday to celebrate this year and compared to the one we did for our son (the other Boss) many years ago (although we made it up for his 2nd birthday), we were thinking of doing it on a larger scale with friends and family and probably save the trouble of cooking for all by just engaging a proper caterer. The problem is to find the right place to have this celebrations – doing it in the house is the obvious option for now but it may not be enough to accommodate all if we are going to “formally” do this one (parking would be chaos too). And if we are going to do one for new Big Boss, we also need to do a similar one for the other big Boss, just to be fair (we might combine the two celebrations to cut cost & time and make it a lot easier for guests too). Anyway we still have a couple of months to decide and plan for this birthday bash – we just need to pull our resources to finalise them. I am sure we will get plenty of suggestions. And we can’t wait to share the new Boss’ experience of growing up in the same manner we had with our son (we still do and we are loving every moment of it).

My son has moved up into the “first class” this year and we are all well aware of the intense competition and high expectations (from the teachers) in that class for the top places. We are also well aware of the fact that if he did not do well this year, he will be moved out from the “first class” to other “lower class” next year. Actually we are not very concern with this “first class” – “lower class” issue. Education can come in all forms and manners and the status of class means nothing to any students who are hard-working, all rounders and well understands the subject matters. And we are more than happy if son gets good marks (to go to college) and the education that will be useful in his future. And we know that he can keep up with his friends in the same class if he wants to if he spends more on school books than on his comic books & games. So this year, a small change of strategy needed in making sure he spends more time on his writing, school books and homework and us spending more time to check on his school work and tutor him if we find any weaknesses.

For this year, we are also intending to add another book cabinet before end of the year and turn the small family area upstairs into a mini library (we already calling the existing book cabinet “the library” but it would be better if we can get the books more organised). My son has been stacking up more books in his room and because we don’t have enough space in our current book cabinet, it is taking up precious space at his cabinet where he is also keeping his school books. And it has come to a stage where we are now stacking up books in 2 rows and on top of each other in the book cabinet. So another book cabinet is a must before we have the 2013 Big Bad Wolf Book sales starts at end of the year (another event to look out for in 2013), otherwise my wife is going to see more books lying all over the place and I know how much she hates me making the house “dirty”. Creation of a mini library would also mean that we need to rearrange the prayer altar for the book cabinets & maybe a couple of soft sofas and work on better lighting to make the reading more pleasurable (to make it an ideal corner for reading).

prepper

(2012 may been the Mayan’s end of the calendar year which thankfully did not happen but hopefully this 2013 would be prepper’s year to be one notch better than last year. Picking up from the news report on last year’s doomsday excitement, it should not be the end of prepping and getting ready for disasters in the future)

2013 would also be my target year to be a complete prepper where I hoped that we will be self-sustaining on food, water and others (maybe with improvements on security as well) for at least couple of months. Think about it – we barely into 2013 and we already facing a serious disruption of water supply – a basic need for all living things and despite it has been raining cats & dogs for some of the days, there seems to be plenty of finger-pointing as to who to take the blame (in this case, the contention that Syabas should take the complete blame for poor maintenance of the pumps makes a lot of sense). I have a colleague who did not have running water in his housing area for the last 2 weeks and he has 2 school-going children to take care and things are not getting any better even now (the latest news reports states that this situation is going to last way in February – imagine the havoc on Chinese New Year celebrations and then we had warnings of typhoon Sonamu hitting the East Coast states with a possible spill-over to West Coast (so, another round of flash floods?). Anyone recall when was the last time we had major warning on the some tropical storms hitting our shores? And I am not talking about the yearly “musim tengkujuh” warning. Is it going to be sign of things to come? Would prepping be part and parcel of our normal routine in the coming months? With a constant threat of water disruption (and now the weather), perhaps we should start with prepping of water for a longer time period and that is what I am targeting for this year.

Oh yes, we will likely to see the general elections to be held this year and it will be interesting to see on whether Pakatan can still to hold on to the states of Selangor and Penang which BN lost back in 2008. After all, they have been pretty “busy” for the past years since 2008 campaigning Pakatan as a bad choice for Selangor instead working themselves to be better choice for the people. It will also be interesting to see whether BN can regain the lost two-third in the Parliament (a place where they have been kept on their toe by the increased and well coordinated oppositions). However the fact that the Selangor State Government resisted the implementation of AES in the state (with dumb politicians failing to see the bigger picture) is more than enough for me to turn to the dark side and vote for BN. The Pakatan fellows may have their merits in resisting the AES implementation but the longer they resist without a solution in sight meant lawlessness on Malaysian roads will continue with dire results. Whatever it is, we need to be prepared for face dirty politics as part of our daily life until and perhaps after the dust had settled after the general election (we saw the same thing in 2008 – remember the Perak fiasco? I hope you still remember it – it was a case of law of the jungle at the highest order).

One thing is certain at this point of time in 2013 – we will not be a developed country by 2020, not in the next short 7 years that we have (there are too many things to be undone and done and I don’t see the political will-power to take drastic actions), not when we don’t have broad minded politicians who can see the bigger picture (some still living in the Stone Age and insist on others to follow them too), not when we are still lack in areas of enforcement & management of resources and certainly not when we continue to segregate the people by race and religion (unless something drastic happens in this year). The ex-PM, Tun Dr M can go to his grave knowing that his vision 2020 remained as a vision and nothing more.

Counting down into the 8th year of blogging, it has been one a good way for me to relieve stress and provide a good mental exercise (another has been reading a good book). And speaking of stress, 2013 seems to be a good year to relook into the topic of health and well-being. It is something I started at the end of last year – eating less outside and bringing food from home. Since the birth of the baby and until the time is right for my wife to go back to work, (since she had to wake up in morning to make milk for the baby) she decided to prepare food for my daily lunch. Nothing special or difficult – last night leftovers and something simple & hot in the morning and with less oil, salt and carbohydrate and more protein. Money saved from daily lunch (and breakfast) is re-used to buy fresh vegetables and fish (which is not getting cheaper by the way), so in a way I am getting a bigger boost for health from the same amount of money. It is not about me going for dieting (it will not work) but rather eating more balanced, healthy food, something that sometimes is difficult to get in your local mamak stall. The other aspect of getting healthy is exercise and that is something I have not really planned on anything specific other than take up more time to play badminton with my son in the evening on weekends and do more housework (cleaning & painting the house).

Let’s see how things moving on as we proceed further in 2013…

Art of Reading Part 2


Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers.  ~Charles W. Eliot

Read Part 1 here

BBWB2

(The scene at the BBWB book sale at 2 am in the morning – there was enough crowd to keep things lively in the convention centre but it was not so crowded to have us fighting through to get our books. In other words, it was just perfect. I hope that BBWB will do their 63 hours marathon on yearly basis)

Firstly before I proceed further, I would like to say many thanks to the people at the Big Bad Wolf Books for taking the trouble, time and resources to organise the world’s largest book sale, year in, year out. We went for the sale last year and we had best of the time picking the good books, cheap. You cannot get 75%-95% discount anywhere else – I have just checked one book at one of the local book stores – it was going for almost RM90 at the book store but was only going for RM15 at BBWB (that is enough savings to take the whole family out for a good dinner and I am only taking about one book here).

This year, the sale is held at Mines Convention Centre (the sale is still on until 23rd December) and the folks at BBWB went one notch up with their 63 hours marathon (God bless them!) which made it a whole lot easier to go and buy good books without the need to fight the crowd at the queue and parking lot. We went again this year and thanks to the 63 hours marathon, our time at BBWB started at about 11 pm Friday night (there was some traffic jam towards the Mines CC, no thanks to queue jumpers but once we entered the parking lot, it was a breeze – way too many empty parking lots) and ended about 2 am Saturday morning (p.s. what’s up with some parents dragging bringing their kids to the place at 2 am? Shouldn’t the kids be in bed by now, sigh?). I got a box full of books that should last me for a couple of months. And we have one whole year to save up for the next BBWB sales next year.

Secondly, I am happy that my son is also picking up the same reading habits that I have. Instead of watching TV all day long, he would instead go to his room (where he has his own collections of science comic books and history books) and bury himself with reading a book (and ask plenty of questions once done). And I bought 2 books for him this year from BBWB and certainly, it was not enough for him (he already done reading half a book within a couple of days) so I am expecting another visit to book store in the coming months.

Over the weekend, I went to my brother-in-law’s house for a visit and I caught him as he was leaving the house to buy breakfast for the family. I decided to join him and whilst the old aunty under a makeshift stall was packing hot thosai and nasi lemak, we decided to have our coffee and chat. I told him about my book purchases at BBWB and he remarked that whilst he liked to read, he does not have the time to read as he was too busy with work. The reason that he gave for not reading somehow hit me and was in my thoughts for rest of the day, more so when I take up a book to read at least once a day. Then a couple days ago, I was chatting with my buddy at work and he remarked the same thing – he was too busy to have the time to read a book.

BBWB1

(War, history and general knowledge – the themes of my books that I bought at BBWB book sale this year. I also read ebooks and surf the net for knowledge but somehow nothing beats holding a book in your hands and lay down some where comfortable to read. One thing is for sure, I need to buy another book cabinet by early next year. The current book cabinet is so packed with books and there is only enough space to squeeze another 1-2 books)

Frankly speaking, this is highly understandable as it all depends on one’s interests, available time and priorities. It is the same thing here with me. There are about thousand things (such as doing a blog post on daily basis) that I don’t do because I don’t have time for it. I wished I had 25 hours in a day. However I do think that we need to make an effort to pick a book (it can be on any subject) and read something (even if it is only 1-2 pages and not the whole book) at least once a week (especially when you don’t have much choice other than watching TV). After all, the benefit of reading a book is obvious and cannot be dismissed.

INews India reports “10 benefits of reading” and it does make a lot sense:-

  • Reading is an active mental process
  • Reading improves your vocabulary
  • Gives you a glimpse into other cultures and places of the world
  • Improves concentration and focus
  • Builds self-esteem (the more you read, the more knowledgeable you become. With more knowledge comes more confidence. More confidence builds self-esteem. So it’s a chain reaction)
  • Improves memory
  • Improves your discipline
  • Improves creativity
  • You always have something to talk about
  • Reduces boredom

Life Dev adds further the benefits of reading:-

  • Enhanced Smarts
  • Reading reduces stress
  • Greater tranquillity
  • Improved analytical thinking
  • Increased vocabulary
  • Improved memory
  • Improved writing skills
  • Helps prioritize goals

My son reads something once a day (on Sundays, he reads the newspaper) and it is the same thing with me but there’s a catch to it. Both of us do not have time to complete one whole book in a day (my son still has to do his school work). I am not sure about my son – he has more time compared to me and he can finish one whole book if he wants to but as for me, my target have always been to finish at least one page per day (if I miss reading for the day, I will try to cover back the next day by reading more pages). Just one page to focus at a time and it does not take that long for me to complete reading that one page (especially it has plenty of images).

Back to the conversation that I had with my brother-in-law over coffee, I remarked that he can start with one page or half page if he does not have the time. And I highlighted the beneficial side of reading, something that made sense to him too. Other than it being a good way to gain knowledge and building up of vocabularies (a must for bloggers), it is one of the best way to get mental exercise. Sometimes we are watching too much TV and it does not simulate the mind in the same way a book does and in healthier way too. After reading a passage in a book (or magazine), I would stop for a moment and imagine how that story that I just read would have been in real (even it is a fiction – my version of The Lord of the Rings was far more exciting than Peter Jackson’s version). For me, that is a good mental exercise and a superb stress buster.

Think about it…1 page is not that hard to cover, does it?

P.s. since Christmas is around the corner, why don’t you give away books as Christmas gifts?

Art of Reading


I guess one of the “wisest” things that I have done in my life is to buy a proper book cabinet

(My latest collection of books – the one in green cost RM8.50 each whilst the Mammoth Book is RM19.90 – a far cry from Dan Brown’s latest thriller costing RM40)

I like reading (my wife have started to pick up reading, with a pace of 1-2 pages per day but reading a book still sounds “Greek” to my son) and over the years, I have been collecting books but without a proper shelf or cabinet, the books were simply lying all over the place. Some of the good books simply got lost (perhaps misplaced and got thrown away), some borrowed by friends and family members and ended up being theirs (I need to make plans to steal borrow them back) whilst others ended getting torn and in a bad state of maintenance

So, when I moved into my own house, one of the things I promised myself to buy is a proper book cabinet – the one we usually find in libraries – to store all those books. So, after getting the more essential furniture and had saved enough, we went out and bought one – it was not cheap but the salesman assured us that the bookshelf would be tough enough to hold thick, heavy law books. and therefore will last long.  And over the years, I have managed to stock up enough books and magazines and my son’s kiddies books into the bookshelf and it has started to overflow. The good thing is, since the books are in a proper bookshelf, the condition of the books have been better too but I am running out of space, so some books have been found lying around. It was definitely a time for another, bigger bookshelf in the house (need to start finding the money and space for that).

With a proper bookshelf in place, I managed to retrieve some of the books lying all over the place including some in old boxes, tucked away in the storeroom (some classic books are lost forever). And just when I arranging those books, I realized that I have not really read those books cover to cover. No doubt, I have touched those books and read selected part of the books (the one that interest me or those pages with pictures) but I soon got bored and put those books away in old boxes. And I realized now that there were quite a number of books that I have not read cover to cover. So I made another promise to myself – arrange all those books into the bookshelf and start reading them cover to cover. And that is what I did exactly and over the years, I have done reading all those books that I gave a slip in the past (some with second reading) – such as this one.

(As thick as a Bible but far complicated – Leo Tolstoy‘s War And Peace may need me to find the right quiet time to start on it but still at RM8.50, it was a killer bargain)

Lately a new problem has started to crop up – I am running out of books to read. I do get my stock of Reader’s Digests and Discovery Magazine on a monthly basis but frequently it is often laden with advertisements rather than with a real, powerful reading material. It was time to go to the local book store to stock on some new books. But the problem is the books in Malaysia is not exactly cheap – a normal novel will cost RM35 and more – cheap if buying one book after a long, long time but too expensive if you are going to buy 3 – 5 books on a frequent basis. But there was a way out – a cheaper alternative called Penguin Classics – it has all those classic books like Moby Dick, Treasure Island, Oliver Twist, etc – regardless of the title and thickness of the book for only RM8.50!

I still recall reading those classics a long time ago when I was still young but the books that I read back in those days was rather watered down – simple English and a lot of illustrations. But reading back the classics again but this time in its “raw” classical and unfiltered poetic language, it makes those classics more complicated and interesting. It sounds like we are on an undiscovered island and we are on a journey to find new treasures. It gives me the chill to think that I may be reading in the author’s original language and sentences. Something I am looking forward with my latest edition to the bookshelf – Leo Tolstoy’s epic War and Peace.

Now, with fresh stock of books in the bookshelf, it was time for a quiet reading and open up the imagination landscape…

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NaNoWriMo 2008 – Final Copy


(An U Boat story – Image source: http://military.discovery.com)

I spent almost 1 month to draft out my NaNoWriMo 2008’s entry titled “The Malayan U Boat” and spent probably another 1 week to clean up and polish the story.

For those who are interested to read, I have uploaded the pdf version of the story in Google Docs.

Please be free to download it and give me comments on the story and how it can be improved further.

Thanks