Damn, I Hate Cats!


WARNING: Cat lovers, walk away right now…you may not like this post

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(Cats are evil indeed. Image source: http://www.debate.org)

One of the joy of moving a new house many years ago was the chance to do up a garden.

It was a joy because we used to stay in apartments which does not enough space for a garden (I mean a proper garden where we can dig in and plant things). So when I had the chance to buy a house of my own, I had great ideas on what I wanted to do with my garden, starting with beautiful carpet grass. And when my dad retired and looking for a hobby to spend his time at home, he took up gardening. And he was good at it too – a mango tree at the front, several types of flowering plants and he would spend hours running through the carpet grass to look for weeds. At one point, carpet grass was clean and trimmed and was wonderful to walk on.

And then evil descended at my neighborhood…

I am not sure how they came – maybe an UFO dropped them off in the middle of the night or perhaps the ground opened up and they came out from the hell underground. Soon one fine morning, there were 4-5 cats at our neighborhood. At first, they kept themselves close to other houses and don’t wonder around. Soon they started their nuisance – at first by sleeping on the middle of the road. I lost count of the times cars had to slow down or slam their brakes to avoid those cats. And one day, when I opened the front door, I saw one of the cats sleeping under my car in the porch. I shoo-ed it away but it did not go off immediately. It stood up and gave me the stare. You know about the “stare” right? The stare that seems to be showing me the middle fingers and telling me to f-off and leave the Lord of the Land alone. The stare that implies that humans were born just to serve the cats. When I was pretending to kick the cat so that it will move, the Satan stood it’s ground and only left rather casually.

My experience with cats in the past has not been a pleasant one. When I was small, we only had fish and even dogs as pets but never cats. My old neighbor had a cat but the whole house smelled funny and the whole family (my neighbor) seemed to exist just to serve the cat. The cat goes and comes whenever it want and there was nothing that the neighbor could do about it. Then we rarely had any encounter with cats when we moved to apartments (we don’t have any encounter with rats too).

Many many years after that, we were at the shopping mall and my wife and my son wanted to have fried chicken for lunch and we headed towards the nearest KFC. We sat down and was just about tuck-in our meal when I saw an ugly, sick looking cat inside the restaurant, walking around diners’ tables looking for scraps. I was very angry of the fact that the KFC staff allowed a stray cat in and worse, did not do anything of clearing the cat from the premise. It went to the table where another family was having their meal and the stray cat started to get into their nerves and one of the guy gave a good kick and the cat went flying. Someone from another table commented that the cat was “innocent” and does not deserve such punishment. Another retorted that there should not be any stray animals in the premise in the first place and threaten to report the premise to the authorities. That “woke up” KFC staff and soon one of the staff came over and grab that cat and took it out (I hoped that he washed his hands before handling the food after that).

This is one key reason why we try to avoid some of the Malay restaurants that has great dishes but marred by presence of cats – no wrong assumptions here – we have experienced more than once. Some years ago, as my friend was having her meal, a stray cat (which was a resident in the restaurant) came over, jumped on the table and try to steal the fish from my friend’s plate!! And when we complained, the only response from the restaurant owner was “kesian kucing itu, mungkin dia dah lapar” (pity the cat, guess it is hungry now). Mind you that cats can be very persistent when they need you throw down a good portion of the fish from your plate and to them on the floor. We were surprised with the response from the restaurant owner – he did not see the problem of his cats stealing food from his customers. Needless to say, we walked out and boycotted the restaurant ever since. So these days, one of the first thing we check when we walk into a restaurant is to see if there are any cats around.

Anyway back to my garden and the Satan at the neighborhood. One day, I noticed something on my fine, beautiful carpet grass – cat’s poop!!

Damn, the culprit was nowhere to be seen but I had a good idea “who” it was. I would have skinned the cat alive if it has remained there. The poop attracted flies and it was messy & smelly too. We quickly put some sand over the poop to stop the smell and the flies. Later my wife scooped it (sorry dear) and threw it away. Thinking that it is a one-off incident, we let our guards down but it happened again and at the same spot too. This time, the Satan was seen leaving just moment before we could get close to it. It stopped for a moment and looked at me for a moment before leaving. Ya, it gave me the stare as well. My hatred to cats multiplied many times over immediately because we have small kids at home and I know how dangerous cat’s poop can be.

Cat poop could give you a fatal disease

Remember that T. gondii parasite? Normally, it doesn’t do anything to harm those humans whose brains it calls home (well, except make you love cats) because your immune system knows how to handle it. However, for those people whose immune systems can’t handle it, exposure to the parasite can cause a disease called toxoplasmosis. It can either give you mild flu-like symptoms, mental disorders like schizophrenia and depression, or kill you.

Feline feces are true safe havens for T. gondii, so you can contract toxoplasmosis by cleaning up your cat’s sh*t.

(Source)

Further analysis shows:-

People usually contract T. gondii in two ways — by eating the undercooked flesh of infected animals or through contact with cat feces.

The parasite causes a disease called toxoplasmosis. Most people experience mild flu-like symptoms before it goes into a chronic and dormant phase. But the disease can be fatal in people with weakened immune systems and in fetuses, which can be infected through the mother. This is why women are advised to avoid contact with cat litter boxes while pregnant.

Some studies have shown that mental health disorders such as schizophrenia, depression and anxiety are more common in people with toxoplasmosis, while others have suggested that the disease can influence a person’s levels of aggression, extroversion and risk-taking, the researchers from the Karolinska Institute in Sweden pointed out.

(Source)

We had to stop the cats from entering the house compound but no matter what we do to block their entrance, they always able to come back and mess up the whole place and leaving silently. And when I back from work and find them lying on the lazily and does not move even after my car is very near to them and after I had honked them, running them over with my car did cross my mind. Just think about it – my tires crossing over the cat’s soft stomach and causing the guts to burst open and the Satan ends being a nuisance. A very simple solution, right? However at the last moment before my tires connects with the soft stomach of the cat, I always change my mind and slams the brake and avoid the cats all together. The Satan lives another day to mess up the garden. Ya, damn me.

Perhaps I am being too soft with the Satan. The time had come for me to be a hard cold killer. The time had come to take extreme measures which also included violence (lots of violence if possible). We started off with sharp spikes that we hope that “once bitten, twice shy”, the cats will remind themselves not to enter the war zone unless they want to commit hara-kiri. The sharp pikes – anyway it is not real spikes but rather plastic spikes – I got a few of them from those Japanese themed supermarkets that sells items to stop cats & birds from messing up home gardens. We laid them around the grass randomly, hoping that the Satanic cats will step on them, rather painfully and will remember not to return back to the same place. We were so wrong!!

Couple of days later, there was a load of fresh cat’s poop on the small space of grass that was NOT covered by the plastic spikes. Somehow the Satan have found a loophole or rather, a way around the minefield. I can imagine that it must have taken them several missions to find the way through or maybe they just saw the easy way through from Day 1. Time to reconsider the strategy to stop the Satan from messing up the garden but since it will take time to do the research, we decided to just cover up the place with large wood boards temporarily whilst we look for permanent and feasible solution (laying metal spikes and animal traps that will maim the cats for live did cross my mind)

However laying wood boards, in a way stopped the Satan from visiting the favorite pooping spot. But that also meant we lose the garden and the nice carpet grass that we have painfully cared, forever. I was sad and angry at the same time. Sad for the grass, angry on the cats. Considering that these cats at the neighborhood could be stray cats (means it does not belong to anyone), I decided on another step as well – lodging a complaint with the local council to catch these stray cats. I even posted the photos of the Satan roaming at the neighborhood. They came and search for cats (not sure if they tried hard enough) but they replied that they did not find any cats and went off. It was surprise because those cats was indeed went missing for a few days before making their appearances back to be a nuisance.

Then we learned another trick from another neighbor who also had problems with the cats and basically wiped out her garden full of flowers and vegetables, not to mention leaving a loadful of poops. Short of basically coming out with samurai swords to basically skin the cats alive, she discovered another thing that cats hate and cause them to stay away – black garbage bags. The only downside of using garbage bags is that when it rains, it tends to collect rainwater – a potential breeding place for mosquitoes. We rearranged the wood boards, covered some areas with the spikes and other places with garbage bag (we keep a close eye on the pools of rainwater after it is rains “cats” and dogs).

It has been several weeks since the Satan last made the visit to my house and there is no more of cat poops to handle. The garden – the beautiful garden with it’s nice carpet grass is gone. Now my garden looks more like a construction area and that looks ugly too. My dad suggested we replace the grass with pebbles and transform the garden into a Zen garden instead. I still see the cats around and in front of my house, often staring at me with a strange, angry look. I sometimes catch them gathering in front of the house (no poops though) and I would immediately shoo them away – most will run away except one or two cats who won’t budge an inch. Instead they would just stare at me and seems to tell me to “f-off”. But because I don’t have them pooping in my garden (or whatever that is left of the garden), there is some peace in the world for now. But that does not means I hate less the cats now – my hate remains unchanged – they have destroyed my garden, I am not going to forgive them for that.

The battle won, the war is still on-going…

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Prepping in Malaysia: Water Rations 2


Read these first:-

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(Some of the quick steps taken the State Government when the state faced with serious water contamination and people’s anger over the matter got worse on daily basis. Image source: YB Hannah Yeoh)

Couple months ago (and the month before as well), a good number of households (including yours truly) in the good state of Selangor was hit by prolonged water supply disruption. The culprit was water contamination – earlier from a source in Selangor (which the state government took swift actions) and later from sources from other states. The disruption of water supply created havoc to our daily routine and we had to be on our toes when the SYABAS water tanker comes to the residential area. Thankfully to the quick work by the hard working people at SYABAS and other agencies related to water supply, the taps was running high again by afternoon of Deepavali and remained uninterrupted since then.

Inconvenience to the end users no doubt but then again, it is a wake call for the authorities & the state government to take notice and make plans for the future.

NST reported this at the start of the water supply crisis:-

Centre for Environment, Technology and Development chairman Gurmit Singh describes the water management system in the country as “fragmented”. “We are in this situation because we have badly managed our surface water resources. On top of that, we have the dichotomy between the federal and state governments.

“Most state governments have failed to protect and maintain their water catchment areas. This compromises and adversely affects our reservoirs and water supply. We rely on surface water, but much of it is being wasted through badly maintained and burst pipes.”

But, he says Malaysia has not reached the stage where it needs to resort to underground water sources. Gurmit calls for more efficient irrigation practices, as this will mean more water for consumers. He also suggests that industries be supplied with raw, not treated water. “They do not need high-quality water because they mainly use it for cooling purposes.”

(Source)

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(This was back in 2007 – do we have enough water catchment area protected and enforced in 2016 and beyond? The fact the water treatment closed down more often than usual due to water pollution seems to suggest that we are lacking the means to protect our natural resources. Image source: Google)

The Semenyih water treatment plant was shut down for numerous times this year despite the abundance supply of raw water (unlike 2 years, we were struggling to get raw water due to prolong hot season). Thus far, contamination of raw water have blamed and it had come to a point where the state government even began to get suspicious – is someone sabotaging the state government with the water issue?

Well, whether the suspicion turns out to be true or not, at the end of the day, it boils down to enforcement, enforcement and enforcement. Water contamination will not go away in the near future but addressing them before it gets worse and forces the shutdown of the water treatment systems is the key step here and it had to be done so consistently.

Back home, we had been prepping for water shortage and water rations way before 2014 when the level of water in the dams was dangerously low. What have changed in the years thereafter is information channels and the community coming together to assist each other in time of crisis.

The residents at my residential area belongs to the resident association who in turn created a group chat room. So one get the news of water disruption, this valuable information is quickly shared among the rest of the residents. Often it takes couple of hours from the time the water treatment plant shuts down and to the time the taps at home goes dry. So if one gets the information as early as possible, there is more than enough time to quickly save up water. That means the house water tank to be full to top as well as the 3 huge water buckets (one is kept at the porch for ease of filling up water from SYABAS water tankers). Then there is several smaller buckets and in addition to that several containers of clean water for drinking & cooking.

And as an additional measure, couple of cartons of 1.5 liter drinking bottles also kept in the “doomsday store room” – 12 bottles cost less than RM10 per carton (which is a good deal). The trick is to buy them upfront & store before the news gets leaked on the water disruption and there is a mad rush to buy drinking water. At one point, I even had to drive out to places where there is not water disruption to buy drinking water as the ones near my house had fully sold out (including those expense ones).

And we have been keeping sharp eyes on water leaks to ensure that in time of crisis and when water becomes precious, we don’t have hidden leaks that reduces our water storage. And in the past, major leaks had come from broken water tank and in the end, we had to make a whole water tank replacement (after several attempts to patch the holes in the old water tank). That replacement costed us almost RM1000 but it was worth it in the long run.

Keeping the water at the water tank aside, we set priority on which of the water containers we will use first so that when the water authorities sends their water tankers, we can get ready the empty containers and pots to be replenished fast. And there is a good reason for that. The water tankers do not come at scheduled time and sometimes by the time they passes by the road in front of the house, the water level in the tanker is very low (they will send another tanker full of water later but we won’t know when). There were once the water tanker came in the early mornings when it was raining heavily and everyone was fast asleep – at times, timing just sucks.

And big containers are not feasible to use when the water tankers come because it does not fit the hose of the tanker and when it is full, it will be difficult to carry them. So we empty the smaller containers into the bigger containers as and when the level of water comes down. We then arrange these smaller containers, buckets and pots nearer to the main door so that we don’t have to search for them later when the water tanker comes. And everyone in the family chips on the effort of collecting the water from water tankers and this includes the kids who can carry the smaller containers. And like a well oiled machine, we keep doing it until the big containers are full and thereafter the smaller containers as well (thanks to the SYABAS guys who wait patiently for the residents to get their supply of water)

In addition to the off-beat water tanker timing, we also did not forget about the natural source of water – the rainwater which we can use for dish washing and for the toilets. Thankfully it rains often in the evenings so there is no lack of opportunities. There is no high tech rainwater harvesting system in place yet but a rough, low tech system consisting of simple buckets and roof gutters does the job just effectively. But a proper rainwater harvesting system is still in the pipeline in the future.

In end, a good mix of quick information, plenty of upfront storage of water to last the whole family for couple of days, prioritizing the usage of water and ensuring ways to replenish the supply of water kept us in the “cool” until the water contamination issue resolved and the supply is back to normal. There are many people in this country still don’t have access to clean water for their daily use so it is important we manage the water resources effectively and conserve water as much as possible. Our water resources already under tremendous constraint to meet the ever growing population and industrial needs, so faster we act, the better we can manage in the future.

The “Persatuan”


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(The familiar facade of almost every residential areas in this country.  But setting this up and running it on a regular basis is not easy. Image source: TheStar)

I guess it is high time I stop apologizing for not doing up my blog post and I did consider ending the good old days of blogging for once and for all. But then again, I might come in here occasionally to pen down my thoughts and latest happenings.

Seriously I have been busy spending more time for myself – playing games on my smartphone (what else?), spending more precious time with my kids (I love it when my kid sits on me and ask me to read her a story) and whenever possible for that extra hour of sleep and exercise. There have been another development this year and that is quickly turning into my pet project as well – my involvement with the Resident’s Association (RA) or in Bahasa Malaysia, known as “Persatuan Penduduk“.

Still remember back in 2009 when I first talked about the RA?

Things had dragged on for couple more years until one day in 2014, I received a notice in my post box that another group of residents from the same residential area had decided to form a RA. I wondered what happened to the old RA as this will be another competing RA for the same group of residents.

A meeting was held one fine Sunday morning to explain to the residents and formalise the RA. Having nothing to lose (I was watching a dumb show on TV anyway), I went for the meeting and here it was explained what is the difference between old and new RA. Apparently the old RA was not a registered organisation and these new group of residents decided to set up a proper RA which is registered with the ROS, has a proper constitution, registration of members and have a proper committee members to manage the RA. And guess what, I was one of the committee member that got elected on that day – not that I had some special skills that can assist the RA but rather I was the only Indian chap who braved enough to show up at the meeting. So when it was time to pick a multi-race committee members, the slot for an Indian was obvious – all eyes was on me.

For the period of 2014-2016, I was not that active in the RA namely because I was stationed overseas during these times but when I was back home, I tried to help out whenever possible. We did probably the best Raya celebration (with superb food that the ladies managed to cook up) that the residents had in recent years.

Moving forward to beginning of 2016, the RA had their final AGM to pick new committee members for the period of 2016-2018 and this time, there was a couple more Indian chaps in the group, so I did not end up as the obvious choice. But seeing how residents wanting to help the RA but don’t want to be committee members themselves, I decided to volunteer this time around. Everyone was pointing at others instead of volunteering and seeing the mayhem for a moment, I opened my mouth and I ended up in the committee again. Of course the new committee members will take up more prominent role and I had decided on a more supporting role considering how I am tied up with work these days (it was the same with the previous committee).

I did mention previously in this blog that the topic of leadership have always fascinated me. And in every work or venture that I had signed up, I always look for opportunity (even the smallish) to learn. Same thing with RA this time around – with more interaction with other residents on common issues have improved command of language, I am less shy now to meet up with other people and share my leadership skills with some of the new committee members. And I am learning a lot more from other committee members who are more experienced in their line of work (we have 2 engineers as well in the group), the way they analyze the issues and the way they deal with people. One guy impressed me more than others on the subject of communication & persuasion seeing how he managed to drive up the RA membership to almost 90% now. And people in the neighborhood getting to know me (and me to them) as well – which is a good thing assuming I need their help one fine day.

Things have been interesting though – to see things from a non-commercial and educational point of view.

But then again, running an association that involves residents from multi-racial, multi-religion backgrounds has not been a smooth sailing as well. Payment for security guards had been a pain in the neck for long – from a few who are deeply concerned with the security of their families and homes to the dumb idiots who enjoy the security on the expense of others. In the last 2 years, the payment trend has been a roller coaster ride – from a good payment to hire 5 guards to almost none by end of last year. In the end, when it was not enough to hire the guards, the previous RA committee decided to stop the security services and told the residents to watch their back on their own. A couple of months later early this year and after 6 break-ins happened (2 when the residents were still in the house), the residents kind of woke up and got busy pushing the RA for security guards again.

The new RA committee in 2016 decided to go one step ahead with road closures, boom gates and fencing and this time (maybe due to the break-ins) and a better quality of security service, there is much more support from the residents this time around – almost 80% payment for first month alone and drive for new membership skyrocketed too with almost 88% of the residents joined in as the RA members. The trick is to keep up the momentum for the next 2 years or so. And to ensure residents are well informed of the RA plans (and also to pressure those who have been running behind on security payments), all of the members are added into a resident’s chat group. Peer pressure do work wonders sometime. And of course, there will be that small selfish group of morons who will always work against the wishes of the majority and they will often end up being the trouble makers. It takes time, some sense of arm twisting and anger of other residents to keep these trouble makers at bay.

This should keep me pretty much occupied for next 2 years until of course, I am away on overseas assignments.

Tour of Duty, Again


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(Caught this shot with my phone on the way for an overseas trip. Somehow I had the dread thoughts of MH370 but all ended well when nothing out of the ordinary happened and we landed safely)

Firstly sorry for missing out on the regular posts for past 2 weeks. You see, it is the time of the year when I clean up my drawers in the office, prepare the monthly budget for my wife, hunt for new clothes / shoes and prepare myself for a painful good-byes to my kids (my precious ones in an eerie Gollum voice).

It’s time for tour of duty where I pack up and go for onsite work in another country for couple of months. Hopefully, I will have time to work on the blog but it is a wishful thinking – 2 weeks into the tour and I am still struggling to do one post. It is almost 9.30 pm as I drafting this post and we have not taken our dinner (my stomach making loud noise protesting).

And I know the team work on the weekends, forgoing sleep, water and food to get the job done. Some of them are coughing and sneezing rather badly, so that put things in a different perspective as well. I know how bad it is to be working with tonnes of pressure and with a stuffy nose (or a bountiful of malaria parasite in the blood stream a few years ago).

It will be living hell – not because the clients like to play the role of the devil (some of them are). Most of them are humans too and they understand the constraints that we facing too. After all, we are all in the same boat, with the same destination, timeline and deadlines. It is living hell primarily because we put ourself into a situation where we want to give the best in what we are doing (a dose of “Malaysia Boleh” sprinkle into it) and try to out do what we have done the day before.

But all is not lost – there is always a silver lining in every clouds. One thing for sure is that we will always learn something new and it can be work related or not. Don’t laugh but this time, I might learn something that is related to washing. To be more precise, washing my clothes with the washing machine. You see, we are not staying in a hotel where we can just chuck our dirty laundry to one end, fill up the form and come back to see the clothes all washed up and ironed and stacked away neatly on the table.

We are staying in an apartment where it can accommodate a larger number of us and is more cost effective to the customer. There is a laundrette nearby but the owner, an old lady often closes the shop before we come back from work (which is usually very late). And it is expensive and slow as well – it takes a week for the clothes to be back, unless you give her extra $$$ and you will get a faster return. So, when I saw my colleague washing his clothes in the apartment washing machine, I asked him about it and he showed me how to get this done. Don’t get me wrong, there is washing machine back home too but I had never tried to wash clothes myself. It is uneconomical. Why waste time, water and electricity when this can be done once everyone had put in their dirty clothes. And this usually would be handled by my wife or my sister.

So, this was considered my first time “venturing” out on my own with the washing machine. And I have already one washing and it was not that bad (I loved when it started to spin on hyper-speed) and looking forward to do my own washing in the coming weeks. I can save up money and get my clothes the very next day.

Another thing I had learned (although this could be very old news to some of you out there) is to set my phone as a hotspot so that I can get internet connection for both my smartphone and my laptop at the same time.

Got to go now – please expect irregular blog posts in the coming months

Big Boss’ Rules


Read these first:-

When my son was a baby (a very cute one too), he occupies one third of the bed with me and my wife taking one third each. But as he grew up, I find myself sleeping on the floor as my son takes up half of the bed (and moves around in his sleep) and my wife the other half. Of course, this does not happen all the time as he usually sleeps on the ground floor with his grandmother although if given the chance, he rather opt to sleep on my large comfortable bed and with the air conditioner running on high speed (I don’t mind either – anything for the Boss, eh).

So one day when my brother got married and decided to moved, we saw a golden opportunity to take “ownership” of my brother’s room and give it to my son instead. It was meant for him anyway, one day. We got for him a cabinet and drawers for his clothes, books and toys, a bed and more importantly a table & chair for him to use when he does his revision and homework. His room has a small fan and has an attached bathroom.

He is a big man now (so we told him) and thus we were sure that he needs his space and privacy. Of course, it took some coaxing and words of encouragement before he braved himself to sleep in his own room (it gets worse if he had watched some horror movie before going to bed). Sometimes we allow him to sleep on our bed and when he had fallen asleep, I would carry him to his bed (a feat I could no longer do these days).

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One day when I entered his room to clean up, I noticed a hand-written “rules of the room” pasted on his cabinet. The boss must have worked on it when he was alone in his room the night before and when we had told him to do his homework (now I know why he took hours to finish up his homework).

The rules (not sure for who) states this:-

  • Do not jump on the bed
  • Ask permission to play carrom
  • Do not read any private books
  • Make your bed after you sleep
  • Ask permission to play Saidina
  • Do not read any books on the bed
  • Sit on the chair if you are to do homework and read any books
  • Do not jump on the chair
  • Do not sit on the table
  • Do not mess any clothes in the drawer
  • Do not use the gel without permission
  • Do not play with the yo-yo without permission
  • Do not use the room watch to do any alarms
  • Do not play with the tissue paper
  • Do not play with the badminton racquet
  • Use the bookmark to mark the book page

I read the rules of the room a couple of times and to tell you the truth, I was immensely proud – he somehow had took charge of his room with his own “rules” (one of course does not necessarily applies to the Boss).

One thing that the Boss does not take ownership is the cleanliness of his room. Pieces of papers all over the place, books not arranged properly, bed not done up and often his school bag & school books thrown on the bed. Despite my wife constantly reminding him to keep his room clean and use the dust-bin in his room, it simply fallen on deaf ears. We had to tasked ourself to organise major housekeeping operation whenever we enter his room to clean up. It takes me almost the whole day to clean up and organise things in his room.

D2

And recently a strange graffiti had appeared on the wall just behind where he sits.

I asked him – who “drew” on the wall. My son who was busy with his homework, turned around, looked at the wall for a moment and casually and with a straight face said that he did not know who drew on the wall. I wanted to laugh for I recognised his “handy work” on the wall anywhere, anytime. No one else enters his room other than me and my wife. There was only one suspect and he was sitting in front of me, pretending not knowing what is happening.

I asked him again and I got the same innocent answer – “I don’t know who did it”. No point forcing him, I already know who did it. I replied “ok” and told him that I hope that whoever did this, must not do it again and should be more careful to take care of the wall.

Well, my son must have thought that I am referring to someone else because a few days later, new graffiti appeared on the wall. After a while, I decided not to bring this up to the Boss because in a way the room belongs to him and he is free to “decorate” it as he sees it fit. Besides I had planned to repaint the whole wall one day and hopefully by then he had grown up to be more responsible.

And the Boss do have big plans for his room and one day, he did talk to me on his “future plans” – he wanted the room to be painted bright orange (yes all 4 walls) and to add a huge air-conditioner to his room. He also wanted a flat screen TV (for his Play station – whenever he takes his 5 minutes break from doing school work) and a computer with broadband internet (he argues that he will use it for school work and nothing more. Ya right!).

Maybe by then, the Boss would draw up new rules. I know he would…

Prepping in Malaysia: Water Rations


water chart level

(More people means higher consumption and coupled with a longer run of the dry season causes a dangerous level at the water catchment areas. Image source: TheStar)

Here are some snippets on the on-going water ration that you may have or may not have read.

At first comes the disbelief and outrage of the whole idea of water rationing (understandably from those who need a constant supply of water for business) – after all, we never had water ration in the past before and it is a fact that Malaysia stacks at the middle of the tropics and is no stranger to heavy rain in the evenings makes water rationing almost an alien concept :-

Malaysians reacted with a mixture of disbelief and outrage over the announcement that even more water cuts would be headed their way beginning this Friday. Having been forced to change their lifestyles to weather the water crisis, residents and business owners alike were demanding that the authorities figure out a way to improve the situation fast.

(Source)

This year, water rationing has become a harsh reality and I am sure in the coming years, water rations would be a yearly event. And despite the disbelief & outrage that one may make on the water rations, this is reality and there is nothing anyone could do if we do not want to deplete the water so quickly. Water ration in the Klang Valley started with Phase 1 back in February 2014, subsequently Phases 2 & 3 was initiated and we have now come to Phase 4 which started last week and already there are talks of Phase 5 water rationing:-

Phase four of water rationing in the Klang Valley begins on Friday but talks on phase five are already taking place as water reserves at dams in Selangor continue to drop below critical levels. Insiders say if the water levels decrease and rain does not fall over the water catchments areas, rationing could continue until the end of the year.

(Source)

And for the record, even the wettest town in the country is facing the same problem and this should indicate the chaos in the climate system in the last few years:-

Water rationing in the country’s wettest town, Taiping, begins today and will last two weeks. Public utilities, infrastructure, energy and water committee chairman Datuk Zainol Fadzi Paharuddin said the water rationing will affect 23,719 households in Taiping as well as several areas in Kamunting.

“Although there was heavy rainfall near the Air Kuning dam area over the weekend, we will still go ahead with rationing to control and maintain a healthy level of water supply in the district,” he said. He said this is the first time water rationing is being carried out in the state.

(Source)

It may get worse in the coming years. Water has always been one of the key priority at home when it comes prepping and readiness for unexpected long term water disruption. Now we are faced with actual water rations with some saying will last until July this year (or worse December), it was interesting to see what worked and what did not and what can be improved.

Rainwater harvesting system

Before I go further, for your information, there is no rainwater harvesting system in place yet. It is not that I have not given it’s due thought on this – no doubt, rainwater harvesting system will cut down the usage of treated water used for car washing, toilet and general cleaning and will save up on the water bills. One big problem is finding enough space for the rain water harvesting system. It is not a small piece that one can just plug and play. Presently there is only limited space on my porch and the only I could expand it is if I renovate the whole place (one day I will) by shifting the pillars to the side and tile up the whole area. For the time being, there is no time or budget for that.

But having said that, I wonder why there has not been a greater call for rain water harvesting system to be part of the standard facility for all new housing areas. House price is already at an insane level – a couple of more thousand does not make any much difference. This rain water harvesting system remains an illusive item to most of us and it is not because of the price or lack of suppliers in the country but rather it is due to a lack of the space.

I did try to set up a very rudimentary rainwater harvesting system – a simple pail set at where the rain water falls from the roof and the water then stored in a water drum that can be sealed and used for toilets. But this cannot be done all the time especially when sometimes there is a serious lack of rain and if it rains, it is not enough to fill up the pail.

Realigning water usage

Obviously with water rations in place with 2 days with water and 2 days without water, we had to change our lifestyle rather drastically.

The first one to be thrown out of the window was my weekly car wash. I also have decided not to visit the road side car wash – it is still good water down the drain (I wonder why road side care wash centers are not banned in time of water crisis). On the days when we don’t get water, we still use the washing machine for washing clothes as normal BUT not for the whole washing process. My wife hand pre-washes the clothes first using less water (assuming) and then put these clothes into the washing machine on SPIN mode which spins the clothes but does not use water. There’s less work for my wife too.

Long showers have been cut short too. These days we take enough to keep ourselves clean. This however does not apply for the kids – they still have to take a proper shower. Same goes for cooking at home (which also means dish washing). On the days when we don’t get water, we don’t cook. We opt to eat outside. However the negative side of this is that we have to spend more money to buy food from outside. Yes, we save water in a way but in the long run, it is not cost effective. Money that could be used for water bills ends up many fold over on outside food and drinks.

And last week, when the kitchen cabinet contractors finally came to start work on my new kitchen cabinet (yes, finally!), we had to schedule their work time with the day when we get the water. Thankfully the workers’ boss understood the situation and rescheduled the work schedule for us.

pailswatershortagelim0103

(Selling like hot cakes – plastic water storage. Image source: theStar)

Extra storage

The other aspect of water ration is water storage. With less water used on days when the water is rationed by realigning the use of treated water, there is an added comfort if you have that extra storage of water lying some where in the house, just in case the water ration is extended for another day or two. Water storage is very high on our priority list.

In addition to the house water tank located on the roof, we had to ensure that we had stored enough water for drinking, cooking, washing, bathing and for use of toilet and this must be enough to last the whole household for at least 2 days or more. From the onset, as part of my prepping readiness, I had ensured that storage for drinking water is addressed first. We can go on without bathing for days but we cannot do the same when it comes to drinking water.

The 2 large 15 liters water containers was more than enough to sustain us for the 2 days (despite the water disruption and the warm weather making us to drink more water). Based on my calculation, it should last us for at least a week. And to be on the safe side, for my daughter’s use, we also bought 2 boxes of 1.5 liter drinking water bottles. Each box has about 1.5 liter 12 bottles – so in total we had about 66 liters of drinking water which is sufficient to meet the daily recommended water intake per person for 1 week. In addition to this, we had filled up 4 pots of raw tap water that can be easily boiled for drinking. That adds another 40 liters of drinking water. So drinking water was not a major problem.

For bath and toilet, we had bought 3 huge water containers (about 80 liters each) at about RM70 each (price jacked due to the water crisis, no doubt) and this is filled to the brim when we had water and kept this stored water unused until the house tank water goes dry.

Moving forward

Then the question that begs to be answered is whether with Phase 1, 2, 3 & 4 water rations in place, does it really saves up water? If you ask me, it does not – it seems like we still use the same amount water on an average basis. Dirty clothes still need to be washed. We still need to take shower and use the toilet. We may not cook at home but since we buy food from the outside, the restaurant still uses water. But this is something for the authorities to consider in the long run. As individual preppers, what is more important is storage and managing usage for greater sustainability.

This makes an interesting case study for prepping in Malaysia in the coming years and may inspire non-believers, those who had thought good things are here forever to be a prepper. Water rations could just be start of things to come. With more changes to the global climate, things will change and some will change drastically. At the end, it will fall on how ready we are to meet these changes.

Snippets 07 March 2014


Perhaps I should reword the title as “Random Ramblings 07 March 2014”.

J2BRj

(Well the “baby” do not sleep with us but it does not matter since she keeps us awake the same and causes us to have shorter and shorter time to get a good night sleep. Image source: http://blogs.babycenter.com/)

I had a great idea for a post for this week. In fact I had more than one great idea for the week. So I want you to believe so but it was not the case. The truth is I was so caught up with work that I have not given a thought for a theme for the post for this week. But I had plenty of random ramblings of the things that I have seen and done in the past one week and things I will be seeing and doing in the coming weeks.

Here’s some of it:-

1. It has been some weeks since I (and my wife) had a real good night sleep. Forget the weekdays – we are getting less than 5 hours of sleep on daily basis. Still remember this? And it is scientifically proven too.

Well, our daughter is back to her routine of actively playing until is way after midnight and only calm down to sleep when the clock hits one in the morning. We have tried to tune her routines to a more normal hours but we failed miserably. That leaves me especially rather burned down when I am in the office and had to face serious decision making. I would just look a bit zombie by then. On the weekends, the agenda is pre-set with so many activities which leaves us little time to sleep (but we still manages to steal time for short naps but it is not enough to pay back proper the lost sleep). And this week we are traveling and there is a big function set for the weekend (read on below). So it will be another week without an opportunity to catch up on sleep.

2. Speaking of traveling and having a function for the weekend, it is actually for the other Big Boss. Similar to this. Frankly speaking I hate elaborate temple functions and if possible I rather give this function a slip (of course it won’t be me alone but the whole family. I know my son hates it too) but since it is tradition and something that is spearheaded by my wife and her parents, that is not possible.

On the good side is we will be staying in a proper hotel (with secured parking, thank God and air-conditioner) this time around and not as usual cramped up spot in my in-law’s house and thus it should not be so taxing as compared to last time we travel up north and there were not enough space to accommodate us all (me and my son had to sleep in another house) and mosquitoes had good time making kamikaze attacks on us.

3. Speaking about kamikaze, encountering with pesky motorcyclists who cut in and out of traffic without any indicators (in fact I curse all morons who cut in and out of the traffic without any indicators), riding without any lights & helmet and ride on the wrong side of the road and endangering other road users is nothing new. Often missing close calls, I often hope that couple meters upfront, they are lying under the huge tires of a big truck and one less idiot would be on the road.

But last night, the motorcyclist that I saw probably took the center stage of the morons on the road. I was driving on the slower lane of the highway when this idiot cut in from the left (without any indicators whatsoever) and I immediately saw that his back lights were not working and he had a dark jacket on. So much so of presenting himself to be more visible on the road. As I tailing him from the back and getting ready to over take him, I noticed something rather disturbing. his back wheel was actually wobbling and this idiot was not even riding slow and he did not stick to the slow lane. Obviously keeping his bike in top shape was the last thing in his must do list. He was still cutting in and out of the lanes. I just wonder how stupid some people can be when it comes to them using their vehicles.

4. Due to the call to conserve water and water rations in some parts of the city, we have made a point to make sure all of our water containers & pots & bottles are full all the time. I have also decided not to do my weekly washing of the car. And even the last time I did it, I used the least water possible – I just wet the towel and cleaned the layer of the dust on the car body. But then again, even if I do my usual washing, I am dead sure that I use far less water than those guys at the “snow” car wash (and the car would be cleaner too). I wonder if things get from bad to worse, will the Government ban these road side car wash centers? They do use plenty of the treated water for the car wash – water that can be used for drinking. I just wonder about it.

5. Remember when I said that Symbian is finally dead? My “old” Nokia N8 was passed on to my wife and her experience with a smartphone has been a good one. Now as she is familiar with ins and outs of using a smartphone, she want to move on with Phase 2 of using a smartphone. If budget forbids, we might be shopping for the replacement phone soon. Yes, it will be another Android 4.2 powered smartphone (mine already moved to Android 4.3) but since it is for my wife who does not need much “computing power”, with a lower specifications for a low cost. That is if we have leftovers after we have spent on the kitchen cabinet.

6. Yes, the once I was “proud of” kitchen cabinet is long overdue for a replacement – no thanks to the termites and a bit of misuse. It’s time to hunt for fresh quotations and visit forums and gauge which one will be affordable and which contractor to engage. There is of course the issue of budget and sticking to them even though there will be plenty of temptations to add things here and there. Hopefully we can get this done in the next 1-2 months.

P.s. Anwar Ibrahim have been found guilty of sodomy and be rest assured that it will change the landscape of the politics in this country. After all, he was the one who brought PAS & DAP into a stronger alliance. But who knows, on the other hand, it could be a blessing in disguise – BN have been using Anwar as an excuse to demonize Pakatan and with Anwar out of the picture (either in prison for the next 5 years or busy with his appeals), BN will less things to demonize them. Further with Anwar not in the running for the MB seat, Khalid will be able to be in a stronger position to hold on to his MB seat and keep up his good work. His work and lack of corruption in his administration has been a plus factor in the voters electing Pakatan to run the state again. We don’t see a reason for change now.

Have a good weekend…