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…

Aaaacccchooo!


Trip

(A shot from my latest trip overseas – it was not so late and we just had a good dinner and we were on a tram, going back to our apartment. It has been an interesting trip and probably with the best first impression thus far this year. More of it later once I have recovered and put the details on writing)

I don’t know why that it seems to happen every time I step out from the country. It could be the weather (yes blame it on the effect from global warming) or the food or my immune system in a very bad shape, I don’t know.

I just came back from another trip with a very stuffy nose – yes, I am breathing through my mouth now. I am going off for a few days for rest, far away from my projects and work (I will try to, anyway) and have plenty of bed rest, vitamin C and chicken soup to recover faster. I guess age is finally catching up on me and I need to slow down a bit. I need to accept that I no longer have the same endurance that I used to have 10-15 years ago and with my daughter in the picture, I need to take things slow and steady especially when I have another few trips overseas lined up until the end of this year.

Seriously 2014 has not been a good year for blogging (it has not been a good year for the aviation industry too) – I hardly be able to come up with a post at least once a week. Nowadays 2-3 weeks gap has been a norm. There is no lack of ideas or contents to write, I am pretty sure of it. But what is missing is the time to sit down and write type all these down and press the button to publish it.

There have been too many things happening in this world that in one way or another have moved us to think harder, be more compassionate to others and open our bloody mouth and act on it. The 2 MH tragedies, the slaughter that is happening in Gaza, Syria and Iraq and the various incidents that could easily trigger another World War 3.

Back home, things are not so rosy either. We have now PKR buggers battling each other for the post of MB of Selangor (what’s wrong with these people!), the water reserves drying up and this could mean another spell of water rations and Malaysia nowhere close to kicking out the religion and racial extremists from our society. These guys are having a field day with our PM still missing from the scene and remains silent. We are continuing to walk backwards whilst others have moved on past us.

And I am easily distracted too these days. Could this been the signs for me to finally stop blogging and move on? I have been blogging for more than 9 years now and the 1,590 posts I did is probably nothing to shout about but it has helped me in different ways. My writing skills have improved tremendously and I have forced to read and analyze on a lot of things for my blog posts and thus improved my grasps on many things others would have dismissed as trivial. I don’t know. Perhaps I could think better once I could breathe through my nose again.

Have a good weekend!

Stepping into 2014…


plane

(New jet for PM? Is this part of the cost cutting measures that Najib announced recently? It sure dwarfs the Penang CM’s purchase of a 2012 Mercedes Benz for his official car. Image source: Malaysiakini)

Just a short (unstructured) one, I am still recovering from “last year”…

Well, I must say that it was depressing stepping into 2014 and I’m not even referring to the recent raids on Bible Society of Malaysia and the planned protest against the church. Ha ha, with the overgrowing protest against the Government on the recent price hikes, would this be “the issue” to divert the more pressing issues? Having said that, I for one could not understand why the Catholic Church would be stiff in insisting to use the word “Allah” in its publications and create unnecessary attention, tension and ahem, opportunity. Are they using the same formula used to justify the toll hike? Yes I understand that it has been used in the past and people in East Malaysia are more familiar with the term but still, can’t they do this rather quietly without the same word and undue publicity?

No, it was depressing because I spent the last few days of 2013 in bed, down with high fever, a very bad cough and a running nose. My daughter had the same problem and she was cranky enough to drive us up the wall. She was in fact was on hyper drive and she simply refused to take her medicines which made the recovery even slower. My son however was spared from the same fate (thank God!) and was somehow cheerful looking forward to the start of school (oh, by the way, school bus fare went up another RM5 – an increase which I guess was cushioned by the fact that the school is quite near to the house. Pity those who are staying further from the school and have more than 1 school going kid).

It was also depressing to learn Michael Schumacher is in coma – the retired seven-time F1 world champion slammed his head against a rock on Sunday while skiing in the French Alps. Damn, that is downright bad luck, don’t you think? Of all the years behind a fast F1 car, he had to be seriously injured on skis. This reminded me of someone who smoked cigarettes and drank alcohol rather heavily and was certain that he would die from cancer or a burned out liver (pick one he always say), only to have slipped in the bathroom one fine morning and died from head injuries. Shit do happen. Let’s just hope that Schumacher will display his trademark fighting skills and recover from this one as how he has done many times during racing.

Next was the news on Illayaraaja – although the maestro was pushing his luck, somehow I knew that he could not make it in time for his concert in Malaysia. The man had a mild heart attack and was still recovering from the attack. It would have been too stressful for him to have pushed himself (and ignored his doctors) to be at the concert. But still it would have been something if he had led the concert himself.

Let’s see if there are anymore depressing matters before I sign off for this week?

Oh yes, despite waiting for the Android upgrade for my SP before the end of year, Sony had announced that it is still working on it and promised that the update would be out soon. Damn indeed but at least that is better than nothing and I still have plenty of games to keep company when I was down with fever, cough and flu.

Time to re-look into my monthly budget and see if I can do some “magic” with all that price hike looming in the coming months….

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?

Hello Brother, You Got Insurance?


(The reality of things even in Malaysia – my Dad was uninsured for a large part of his life and he remains uninsured till now as it is very unlikely that he will get any policy now considering his age and the number of times he had been admitted to the hospital. Image source : http://www.political-humor.org)

Start talking about insurance and most people will feel very uneasy especially when they are talking to an insurance agent.

When my son was born, one of the first thing that we decided to do, other than to get diapers & baby milk powder, was to get insurance policy for him. It started with the obvious medical card scheme and we expanded on to education policy a couple months later. We then kind of have forgotten about it until now when we need a similar policy for the new Boss. I called up a few people and tossed around with a few proposals from a few insurance companies, balancing the various options and deciding the best for our child. And in the process, I realized that all of our existing insurance policies have been outdated and is in need of a serious review (and a policy upgrade).

We recognize that as cost of living & medical fees keep rising on yearly basis, so what ever preparation that we do today may not be enough for tomorrow – such preparations needs constant review and updates (same goes for prepping). And we were kind of lucky to get ourselves medical cards when we had the chance, when the premium was still low and at the right time too – medical cost is on the rise and it is being more crucial to keep ourselves healthy. We all had used the medical card at one point of time in the last few years with my son being the first to use it when he was down with a fever & ear infection and was admitted to the hospital and me a couple months of ago when I was admitted for food poisoning. My mom probably was the luckiest of all when she was admitted to the hospital a few years on suspect of dengue and later had to undergo a minor surgery (when the doctors found other serious complications during their check-ups). The bill came up to almost RM12,000 and we were quite relieved when a bulk of it was fully covered by the insurance company.

My first encounter with any form of insurance was when I was still young and my father’s relative who worked in MCIS talked my dad into buying an insurance policy. Back then we did not have any ATM machines or any Internet Banking and the relative rarely visit us to collect premium so paying of the premium had to be done the ‘long way” by taking the mini-bus to PJ and to MCIS office and wait in line to pay. My mom not wanting to leave us alone in the house, will bring all of us along for this. My dad was the sole breadwinner in the family so when he fell sick one day and could not afford to pay the premium, no one bothered to advise us on the insurance that my Dad had taken (we were a bit lost on the detailed workings of an insurance policy) and in time, the policy simply lapsed. Years later when we were “tidying up” the insurance documentation and we had to visit the MCIS for one last time, we sat down with their customer service and realized that if we had returned the policy in time, we would have received back some of the premium paid.

My next “encounter” with insurance was when I started to work after my college days in the early 1990s. One day as I was walking out for lunch, I saw my old classmate and after a chat over lunch, catching up on good old times, I found out that he was an insurance agent. So, it was not long before I found myself being “stalked” by an insurance agent to buy a large insurance policy. And after putting off his request for an appointment to explain on the insurance policies, I had enough and decided to confront my friend and told him that since I just started to work and only had a pitiful salary, buying a big premium policy was out of the question. So, my friend kept silent for a moment and then suggested the next best thing – a policy that combines saving and personal accident coverage and the monthly premium was just enough to fit into my small budget (although RM130++ per month was big amount back then) and since it was saving type policy, it was a good proposal. Over time, I had enough cash and took another policy from him. I lost contact with my friend a couple years later and the last information that I got was that my friend was no longer in the insurance industry.

Then many years later, my cousin joined the insurance industry and soon was at home urging us to buy insurance policies to kick start his sales. It has been sometime since we toyed around the issue of insurance for the family and my cousin, bent to impress us with his insurance knowledge explained well on the various policies that fits our requirements. That was the time when we were also seriously thinking about medical card (my Dad had been admitted to the hospital on several occasions and we could see how high medical charges can be) and with my son in tow; we decided to buy medical policies plus a few more policies. With my cousin being our insurance agent, it was also easy to “customize” the policy and the premium payment and he was just a phone call away from any enquiries and customer support.

Over the years since then, I have added car insurance, house owner insurance and once in a while I would get this kind of call – “Good morning, Mr X, I am calling from Insurance Company Y and you are in our premium list (ya, right!). We are offering for a limited time only (ya, right again!) the Z policy which covers ABC”. At first I wonder how these people got my contact details and when I queried further, I get my answer – it is from my credit card company. And I quickly refuse the “offer” – simply because the details provided via the phone are a bit sketchy and there are no whatsoever documents to be reviewed before I say ok for the policy. Don’t get me wrong, I know the importance of insurance – it is a solid Plan B that never fails whilst at the same time forms some kind of savings for the policyholder but I want to ensure that whatever deal that the insurance company is throwing (especially those promotional policies) is the best deal. After all, no two policies on the same type has the same terms (check the comparison of the various medicals cards here).

Coming back to the medical card for the new Boss, we narrowed it to Great Eastern’s Smart Medic as the best among the few that we were considering. The premium is like 3 times higher than what I am paying for my son but we realize that it all depends on that the more we pay, the better & higher coverage the policy is and it is the same case here – so we have nothing to complain about. The monthly premium will come to RM150 with annual limit of RM90,000 (RM99,000 if there was no claim in 3 years range – there is a RM9,000 increase for every 3 years of no-claim). It is an investment linked policy so there was other additional coverage. So that RM150 is addition to my monthly expense list but worth the expense especially considering that the Boss will be covered from the “start”.

The next plan for the new Boss would be education or saving type policy which can be used for her future school / college fees but we are starting with the obvious one first.

Sleepless At Home


Just a quick update for this week….

(The new Boss’ feet on a Giant’s palm – still a long way to go before we can allow the Boss to be independent and does not need us to keep a close eye all small things at night)

This blog was started long after our Big Boss was born otherwise this post below would have been a repeat. But then again, whilst the post is not a repeat but the actual experience is.

For the first few days, things was not so bad – with the new Boss in town, we had plenty of people “volunteering” to take care of the baby when it is time for sleep. But we knew that sooner or later, the tasks of taking care of the baby will fall entirely on us. And that means sleepless nights with the baby “waking up” every 3 hours for milk, change of diaper and sometimes a mere excitement. But before that, there was a need to rearrange the sleeping logistics for me, my wife, the baby and the Big Boss who in recent months have decided (without our prior approval) to sleep with us for a simple reason – it was warmer at his usual sleeping place.

At first, we decided that my son had to sleep in his usual sleeping place with the bed reserved for my wife and the baby. I decided to sleep on the floor with a thick blanket & a small mattress (which was surprisingly rather comfortable). We then thought of setting the alarm so that we will wake up on time for feeding and in between we were hoping to catch some sleep. Disruptive sleep for at least a few months was something we had long anticipated from the beginning and had mentally prepared for it. It all sounds good on paper but we soon found out that the baby had other ideas for the night. At first, the baby had been sleeping all evening long and just when we decided to go to sleep; the baby is so wide awake.

At first we thought it was the same as our son when he was an infant who often stay awake at night but keep silent and take his own time to sleep off. Our second baby was different – not only she is wide awake but also get restless once we switch off the main lights and turn on the smaller lights (it was too dark and she was not used to the sudden change of light in the room, I guess) and when we switch the main lights again, it was too bright for her to sleep off. It was tough to balance the ambiance in the room and this was the case for a few days until we had an idea and decided to switch on the bathroom lights and leave the bathroom door slightly opened. This leaves just enough light which balanced the overall lighting in the room – it was not too dark and not too bright. And we put a softer bed spread which did the trick – the baby sleeps off faster and somehow was less restless now.

But this does not happen all the time and to ensure an even “quieter” environment for the baby, I decided to sleep in my son’s room which helped a bit. I am sure in time, the baby will get used to my sleeping musical notes (aka snoring) just like how my wife have done (so I like to believe) but not for now. Damn, the baby is super sensitive and wakes at the slightest sound in the room – my deep breathing, pulling of the blanket loudly and even a simple turn of the body on the bed causes her to wake up and searches for the source of the sound.

But for now, a little peace and quiet and a dim light should be enough to lullaby the baby to sleep but the frequent waking up to check on the baby, to prepare for the feeding and lack of REM sleep does cause a major havoc in the morning when I wake up to go to work. I usually can wake up at the first ring of the alarm (sometimes even before the alarm rings) but now with 2 – 3 loud rings, I am still deep in sleep and only with “accidental” (if you can call it) awakening, I opened my eyes and realized that I was late for work and rush to shower. But it somehow felt “OK” when I opened the bedroom door to get ready for work and I see my wife, the Big Boss and more importantly, the baby is fast asleep. At least they are resting well now.

The saving grace of the whole affair is that I don’t work on the weekends and with most of us at home are available to keep an eye on the baby, we can afford to wake up late (although it is not for long) whilst the baby under the care of other family members. Yes, it is still a long way to go before we can march off the new Boss to sleep on her own bed but until now, it is night duty for some of us.