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…

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.

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).

D3

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.

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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 Part 4


Now that the GE13 has ended and Pakatan had settled the issue of the Menteri Besar in Selangor rather peacefully (thank God!), probably it is a best time to go back to our daily routine and one of it would be on prepping.

Read these first:-

canned food

(The canned food in the storeroom. Having enough food and clean drinking water for the family draws the highest priority on my prepping list but of course looking for storage place without it is left on the open is fast becoming an issue – I blame this on housing developers not having basement as a standard house designs in this country. It’s time to be highly creative with storage)

The world did not end last year but it was not the end of prepping as we moved over to 2013. We still had sporadic water disruptions although it was not that bad at my residential area – the water supply resumes the same day although some of my colleagues still had water disruption for days. We have yet to hit the big one on natural disasters including solar storms and global wide pandemic. On the other side of the coin, the recent general elections went rather peaceful and things soon got into a routine just a few days after it had ended although politicians are keeping the fire up the wrong issues for their own political reasons (appointment of the “once banned, once running fugitive” Hindraf’s Waytha as a Deputy Minister and uninspiring Cabinet Ministers however could be good reason to be concerned). So the panic purchase of essential goods before the elections did not happen although I did see more people with extra rice bags in their shopping carts this time around.

There have not been that many changes to my own level of prepping at home other than rearranging some of the storage and cleaning out some of drawers to keep more things.

We now have at least two 10 kg bags of rice on “standby” – when we use one up and pour the load into a separate rice container (which holds about 15 kg of rice), this bag is quickly replaced with a new bag. We had stocked up more on salt, sugar & cooking oil (even since the local store ran out of sugar one day) – all that we use in our daily cooking and always in demand. Storage of the canned food now includes bottles of sauce for spaghetti (my wife nowadays cook them for dinner). I have also added couple bottles of honey – which will come handy if we run out of sugar and of course does not have any expiry date. Air-tight containers (recycled from long titbits containers) are a good way to store spices and other small items – containers are easily stacked up. Instant noodles remains one of the more essential items in the store-room and have a drawer on its own and we now 00include dry noodle packets – it’s cheaper and flexible enough when it comes to cooking them. We stick to the principle of “storing what we eat and eat what we store” – this is to ensure stored food does not expire and we always the “latest” food stored.

One key thing that has improved greatly compared to last year is the understanding among family members on the need for prepping – so they all help out whenever they can when it comes to prepping. Prepping is no longer “sounds Greek”. No more weird looks when I talk about prepping. Family members do their own sundry shopping and whenever possible, now adds to the number of items in the “prepping” storeroom. This of course puts more strain on the available space so we had to be more creative in storing. Despite the rearranging things in the storeroom, squeezing every little bit of space, it is clear that we are running out of storage fast – the renovation of my kitchen (we hoped to get plenty of storage space once done) had to be kept on hold as we have not finalised the contractor, design & the budget.

And when it comes to storage, we also have non-food items to content with – spare batteries, candles, water filters, toiletries, garbage bags and washing items. My son’s room had the space and with a large cabinet in one corner with some old clothes and non essential items taking up precious space, it was time for another round of house-keeping. We threw away 1-2 bags of old DVDs from my collection and at least 3 large bags of old clothes (this one will go into the neighbourhood recycle bin) – we had cleared enough space to store our bathroom essentials – packages of soap bars, tooth pastes, tooth brushes, shaving blades, etc. At another corner, washing essentials – floor cleaners, toilet bowl cleaners, tiles cleaners – all kept in place with proper ventilation and far from reach of children. And just like anyone running a storeroom anywhere in the world, inventory checking is a must and we often do that before month end and before we prepare the next month’s shopping list. It also gives us the chance to check on the expiry dates, condition of the items in the storeroom, rotate or use them accordingly and work out the quantity in the storeroom.

Next on the item is drinking water. There is still no rainwater harvesting system in place but this year (thanks to the water leaking into the bedroom), we managed to fix the leaks up at the roof and the water tanks. We can now be assured that we will always have at least full water tank in place should the water supply disrupted without notice. The two 15 litres containers for drinking water remains unchanged – I thought of adding another container but space in the kitchen is at a premium. So I decided to maintain the large raw water drum in the storeroom with a planned replenish cycle of 6 months. There are no plans to add any new water drums / containers until perhaps after my kitchen have gone through the overdue renovation (I already can imagine one corner to stack up with water containers – actively used for drinking and cooking).

When it comes to prepping, one cannot run away from the concept of bug-out-bag or as some would call – “mobile prepping”. I thought I have a reasonable bug-out-bag which I bring along when I go out to work or on long distant journey. My version of the bug-out-bug is not extensive although I want it to be – most of the items are stored in the house instead of the bag. But the more I think about it and as more prepping is done at home, it is clear that my bug-out-bag still has a long way to go before it is considered a bug-out-bag is sufficient enough to sustain for the next 72 hours. So I decided to re-designate it as more of a “get-home” bag (with key things – food, water, utility knife and clothes) than a proper 72 hours bug-out-bag. Work on a proper bug-out-bag have to take a back seat for the time being although I have the right bag for it (tucked away somewhere).

There is still outstanding work to be done namely on improvement of safety and trying to grow own vegetables in our small garden to minimise costs. We tried it before with chillies and tomatoes but the vegetables that we grew did not do well after attacked by pests. We still have 7 months to go before end of the year, so there’s still time to get things done. Perhaps with a mini greenhouse for the plants. For those who have not think about prepping, there is always time and opportunity to start this. We should have “always be ready” mindset so that when the tough gets going, we should always have Plan B lying around somewhere.

To be continued and happy prepping…

It’s raining in the room!


(This blog post was drafted and edited using the Ms Office Mobile apps on Nokia N8 smartphone – it was an experiment to see if I could jot down my thoughts as and when I am on the move and don’t have access to my computer)

Sorry for missing on a post last week but something more urgent came up and derailed the whole plan for the week. Water was leaking into the master bedroom and things were getting from bad to worse.

leaking_room1

(This was bad, very bad indeed – the water was leaking into the room and we had to keep replacing the cloth on the floor as it was getting very wet within minutes. But that was the lesser of our concern – we were more worried on the damage on areas that we could not see and whether there were other leaks that we could not detect. The last thing we need now is a large crack on the wall)

Having water leakages in the house was nothing new since we moved in many years ago. But it rarely happens and when it does, it is when we have “mother of all storms” and the drainage on the roof unable to cope with the sudden influx of rain water. And even we have that, it will quickly dry up in minutes. This time it seems different. It actually started a week ago when we noted a small patch wet area on the master bedroom ceiling but since it had just rained and it was rather heavy, we thought that it will go away like it did in the past. It did not and that small patch got larger. And one day, when I got back home late and getting ready to take my shower, something large and dark caught my sight. Water was flowing from the ceiling and along the wall and to the floor. And worse thing is, it did not rain for past few days, so it was clear that the leak was not from rain water. But it was too late to do anything about it then.

I came home earlier the next day and decided to climb up the roof where the house water tank was located to check whether there was anything leaking there. It was no easy to climb up to the roof but the good thing was I had the expandable steel ladder which was long enough to reach the place (losing some body weight recently made the climb a lot easier). Asking my wife to hold one end of the ladder (and be ready to call the ambulance in case I fall), I started to climb. The ladder shook a bit but it held my weight well until I reached the place where the water tank is located and what I saw shocked me. There were plenty of water dripping from the base of the water tank and making the floor very wet. I did not see any where this water was leaking into my room but some how I knew that the leak in my room and the water dripping from the water tank was somehow connected. We had to stop the water drips from the water tank first for 2 reasons – one was obvious, to stop the leak in the room and two, to stop the unnecessary high water bill due to the water drips (I must have lost a good number of pails of water due to this leakage).

I usually do and done most of the smaller repairs in the house but repairing the large house water tank was not something that I had the skill or experience. We need to call a professional plumber and we need to set aside some money for the repairs (especially if the damage was bad and we had to change the whole tank). We checked with our neighbour who had a minor repairs to his house recently to recommend his trusted contractors but those guys was not reachable when my neighbour tried to call. It seems they were doing work outstation and it will be some days before they can come over. We could not wait that long – a mini flood had started to form in the room by now. Just when we were deciding to pick up the yellow pages to call a random plumber (and open ourselves to insane quotations – CNY coming mah!), my Dad came home from work and after I showed him the leak in the room, he proposed that we engage an Indonesian man who was working as a security guard a couple place away from my Dad’s workplace. My Dad know him well. This man had formerly worked at a construction site and was a very capable handyman. We immediately called him on the phone but he was working then. He promised to come first thing in the morning.

The next day, my Dad called me and said the man had come over and waiting for me to take him to my house. I drove over to my Dad’s workplace and a small built man in a sarong and quite worn out shirt was waiting for me. We introduced each other and I took him to the house. I showed him the leak in the room and informed him on what I saw on the roof. He then climbed up the roof and confirmed that we needed to fix the tank for the leaks first (the leak in the room would be the next thing in the list). He said one of the tank drain pipes had moved (probably due to the recent rains and the original sealant had become too old & brittle) and caused the leak. That was something not unusual and is easily fixable (for all house owners out there, please remember to service the water tank once in a while, you will never know what is leaking up there). He needed to detach all pipes leading to the water tank, remove the old seals, apply fresh seals, stabilize the water tank position (it was in a way slanting a bit to one side) and reattach all the pipes to avoid any more leakages.

Unfortunately other than himself, he did not bring any tools but it was fine with me – I had most of the tools he wanted in my tool box. He asked for large adjustable spanner to unscrew all the pipes connected to the tank and adjust the tank once he had released all the water in the tank (I knew that this happen, so for good measures, I had closed the main supply to the tank the night before so that the tank would not be so full when the tank need to be emptied). I did not have the spanner that he wanted in my toolbox but I had a large monkey wrench that might do the trick. But I did not have the next thing that he wanted – water tank sealant. I only had those small silicon sealant tubes for smaller leaks. I called the handyman who was still busy on the roof unplugging the pipes and cleaning the interior of the water tank (something that we have never done before, so I’m very sure that the base of the tank is very dirty by now with sludge) and told him that I will go over to the hardware shop get him the water tank sealant (he wanted the bitumen sealant which cost me less than RM8 for a small can). I also got the larger adjustable spanner for him – he still need to use it to reattach the pipes later and it is better that he does it with the proper tools to ensure a proper fit.

By the time he finished, it was almost lunch time. He was all dirty and sweaty by then. He did not mentioned any specific amount for his work (he said he was too shy to ask for a specific amount and he was ok with whatever I feel is right). Frankly speaking I was not sure how much to give and I was not sure if the leak in the room is fixed for sure – he may still have come back to fix that another day. I sheepishly asked if RM50 was enough for the job he did and he was happy with that amount. That and a packet of iced Milo before I dropped him back to his workplace. And quality of work was really good – the water tank was cleaner now and it was no longer leaking. He told me to wait for at least half day for the sealant to dry & harden before I can turn on the main supply to the tank. The water in the room continued to leak though, so I decided to do something while I wait for sealant to dry and the handyman to come another day to fix that. I still had a small bag of cement left from the time I did some work to fill some holes in the bathroom wall a couple months ago. I suspected there was some holes near the wall or floor where the water tank was located and this is how the water was leaking into the room (I had checked and there was no running pipes near where the water was leaking in the room but seemed to be a small hole where the water might be coming in).

leaking_room2

(With a long ladder and me holding my phone from the safety of the ladder to catch this shot, the mystery source of the leak seemed to be have been resolved – it looked like there was a small hole on the wall. There were no running pipes at this point which was a good thing. I did not dare to step on the soft ceiling with my current body weight to take a closer look – just couple months ago, my neighbour accidentally stepped on the ceiling when he was fixing something and broke his legs. We did not want a repeat of that happening to me. Besides, we still needed to tackle the actual source of the leak which we suspected to be from the water tank on the roof)

So I mixed the cement and laid it along the edges as enough to patch any holes there maybe. The mid-day sun was bearing on me as I was doing this. I climbed up the ladder to the roof a couple of times just to make sure that the “patch” to the water tank held up and it did. Then there was nothing to do but to wait for everything including the cement to dry and the incredible pain on my knees (from all that climbing) to be more bearable. The rate of water leaking in the room some how have reduced but it was still leaking (probably from the residue of water in the wall) but I decided to get the handyman the next morning when we saw that the water was still dripping as we were preparing to go to bed. If it is about residue of water in the wall, it should be cleared by now but it was not. We began to suspect that there was another cause of the leak other than the drips from the water tank or rainwater (perhaps from some water pipes running through the walls that was not visible to us) but the consolation was that at least we had fixed the leaks from the water tank that potentially could cause a even more serious damage to the house (like roof structure giving way due to weaken wet base). The fix for leak in the room seemed like need to wait for another day.

leaking_room3

(Just a few months ago, I actually painted this part of the wall with at least 3 coatings. The aftermath after the leak had “ended” – only left was the ugly stain on the wall that need to be cleared with a fresh coat of paint  but we were happy – it finally stopped leaking)

At about 3 in the morning, I still remember, I woke up to use the bathroom. I was not thinking about the leak in the room at that point – my mind already made up that there was nothing we could do until the handyman comes in the morning to check and fix it -I was half asleep too. I used the bathroom and promptly went to bed. When I woke up at about 9 in the morning later, the condition of the leak was the first I did – if the leak had gotten worse, I may need to ask the handyman to come earlier. To my relief, the leak had actually stopped and the walls were actually drying up (the lower part of the walls had dried completely). So now we can confirm the leaks from the water tank that had actually caused the leaks in the room but the residuals of water in the walls surprisingly took a longer time than we anticipated to dry up. It took almost 8 – 9 hours from the time we stopped the leaks from the water tank. So imagine how much water has been collecting over the past few weeks and if we did not have the leak in the room, we would have missed it until it is too late.

To think about it, it was in a way a blessing in disguise – we are now more aware of the water piping system in the house and now know the need to service some of the key components to avoid unnecessary leakages. We could now sleep peacefully compared to the past few days and I am sure that the next water bill will be lower than months before.

Prepping in Malaysia Part 1


Oh no, another doomsday post before the weekends…!

(Still think that EMP or Electro Magnetic Pulse is a distinct threat? The above was captured a couple days ago and if the sun storms are threatening satellites flying couple hundreds of miles from the surface of the planet, just think of the risk if sun storms gets more violent in the coming months as predicted by some scientists? )

I always think that tomorrow would better than today but at the same time, I also believe in preparing for tomorrow, today. If you are thinking the same and you are actually doing something about it, you can call yourself a prepper.

If you had been watching the “Doomsday Preppers” over at Nat Geo Channel (if you have not, you should), you will discover how some people will go to the extreme to prepare for worst case scenario and some people have been “prepping” for many types of eventuality (hyperinflation, collapse of the economy, end of the world scenario, major power blackouts, natural disaster, etc) for more than 2 years now. In Malaysia, we have yet to go on such large scale when it comes to prepping. Perhaps since we do not face any natural disasters and our nearest hypermarkets always well stocked and cost of good have always been cheap, we are taking things for granted.

But we also must keep in mind that we are not completely safe from events that are happening around the world – events that could and would disrupt our daily activities and turn the world upside down for us. One such event in the horizon is this:-

A new respiratory illness similar to the Sars virus that spread globally in 2003 and killed hundreds of people has been identified in a man who is being treated in Britain. The 49-year-old man, who was transferred to a London hospital by air ambulance from Qatar, is the second person confirmed with the coronavirus. The first case was a patient in Saudi Arabia who has since died. Officials are still determining what threat the new virus may pose.

(Source)

Add the above to the list of known & unknown viruses that are flying around on a global sense on daily basis, a number of WW3 hotspots around the world and out of the norm natural disasters, it makes more sense that we need to have some kind of “Plan B” in our pockets.

You need not take extreme measures. If you want to prep for any emergencies, you will know that it is not easy to be a prepper in Malaysia. As such, it would be interesting to share ideas and read on how others do their prepping for emergencies in this country and mind you, not all are preparing for end of the world. I am preparing for an unusual blackouts expected due to the predicted solar storms in the next few months (the sun is undergoing it’s 11 years cycle and scientists had predicted it to peak year end).

Prepping has been a challenge for me too (and it still is) and the first thing before we proceeded to anything was to find the space for storing. The obvious choice was the small storeroom in the house but it was full of items (mostly junks) and it seemed a nightmare to even think of cleaning it. But as one would say, a journey of a thousand miles starts with the first step, after I had spent a considerable time to clear out the storeroom in the house (we did not realize how much unwanted things can take up so much space in the little storeroom and it does nothing but collect dusts. It took us almost 3 rounds of cleaning before we managed to clear them) and then get it painted and stocked it with proper shelves (it was on fire sale at Tesco, so I bought 5 at one go), it was easier to start on the actual prepping tasks.

The first things that we bought for our “doomsday” storeroom was canned food and the obvious one in our list was canned sardines. A whole lot of them! It was not really cheap (there were cheaper options but we have never about that particular brand) but expiry date was in 2014 (which meant at least 2 years of shelf life) and it is something that we had for dinner on a regular basis. And slowly we added other canned items – canned chicken curry, canned green peas, canned peas in tomato sauce and canned tuna. It is easier to store (just need to stack them up) and it is safe as well. We wrote down the expiry month and year on the cans and we stack them based on the expiry dates (the earlier dates at the front).

Two 15 litres water containers was the next item on our list and with another 3 other containers of boiled filtered water meant that we have about 75 litres of drinking water at given time of the day. Experts recommend about 1 gallon (about 3.8 litres) per day per person during emergency and at least for 3 days. At the current stage, the water storage is enough to last the family for 3 days but certainly this is not enough on a long term basis. The next stage would be to increase this water storage capacity and I am planning to purchase large water containers to hold raw tap water. Rainwater harvesting system is another option for a renewal source of water in case the taps goes dry but as I mentioned in my previous posts, this option is not feasible in Malaysia if you don’t have the space (most of us don’t). You cannot simply have a large ugly expensive containers lying on your porch. There is still some work to be done here.

We then refocus back on our storeroom prep and we knew that we needed more than canned food. An incident a couple of days before the Hari Raya holidays reminded us on the stark reality of things to come. We went to our usual hypermarket and after we have fill our shopping cart almost full, we headed towards the counter when my wife remembered that we need to buy cooking oil. We walked towards the area where they had the cooking oils stocked and what we saw was rather shocking, the whole shelf was empty. Not one oil cooking bottle was available other than the more premium non-palm cooking oil and we had no other choice but to buy the premium non-palm cooking oil. But what will happen if this goes empty too?

So we added cooking oil into our storeroom items (unfortunately cooking oil is have very short shelf life) so we have to consistently keep an eye on it. We also added packets of rice although it does not make a good item for “doomsday” store as it finishes rather quickly and we have yet to try keeping rice in vacuum sealed packets which would keep rice fresh for 20 years or more. Then the usual stuff was added on the list – packets of maggi instant mee, chilly sauce bottles and biscuits. The next plan would to add “MRE” like food (although it is quite tough to find them in Malaysia) and of course, more canned food.

To be continued…

Double Ts: Tints & Termites


Talk about getting “syiok” on the left but getting whacked on the right!

optimized-graph

(When under the sun, the amount of sun-rays allowed into the car can make a big difference between a car and an oven. Image source: http://blog.ooyyo.com)

I got my new car more than a week ago (the post on that coming up soon – review on the car is half done but let me tell you upfront that there have a new found respect for Proton – damn, what I am saying!) but it is almost the same time, I got to know that my kitchen cabinet been creeping with hunger termites. It is truly time to be in a dilemma.

Tint

When one gets a new car, there are couples of things that one would to change or add on – new music player, perhaps new rims, state of the art alarm system (definitely) and in a tropical country like Malaysia, a good tint.

When I got my very first car many years ago, I did not opt to tint the car. I was naive and did not really understand the benefit of tinting the car. Tints back then was expensive and not all was so reliable (they tend to fade after several years) and there was the problem of contravening JPJ guidelines. As a result of this, my car interior was like an oven whenever left on the outside; so much so, cracks appeared in the interior plastics. Driving was so uncomfortable even though the air conditioning was at its peak but the interior remained hot and sweaty.

So, when I decided to change car this year, getting a good tint for the car was high on my list and it was not on solar tint alone but security tint as well. Proton was providing “SafeTint” for free but there was no further detail on this brand other than it was part of Proton’s own products and some said that it was not so reliable. Checking with the sales person at Proton indicated that “SafeTint” was neither a solar nor security tint – it was just to add color and make the car look nice.

Given the number of cars being broken into these days, I rather have security tint than solar ones. As I checked further, there were certain brands that provided 2-in-1 tints – both security and solar in one neat package. One of them was Cool World’s RhinePro XD3 which retailed for RM980 (complete package and before any discounts). There was another tint package that was recommended by the Proton sales person but that was going for RM2,000 (and that too, after discounts).

So, further checking with Cool World and further negotiations, I got RhinePro XD5 (6 mil thickness 2 in 1 security & solar tint) for the side windows and premium solar tint for the front & back (I understand that JPJ does not allow security tint for the front & back), sun visor and regn number etching a total RM1,100 (after discounts). The whole deal also comes with RM500 worth 5 years free insurance and a 15 years warranty. It looked good on paper but what about workmanship itself?

Tint maybe branded and made from exotic materials but poor workmanship can really mess up things. I lost count of the many cars I have seen running around with tint full of bubbles, scars and out of place installations? So, the price was good and past reviews on the tint shop on the internet seems to be in positive.

Thankfully, the workmanship at the shop that I went to was as good as it was claimed and I did not have to wait for the tint work to be completed (within 1 hour, my car was done) but I guess going to the tint shop very early helped in my matter. Early to the shop when there was less cars and more of the staff available to work on one car at the same time. Final verdict – the tint was the right move and I managed to get a good deal for a quality tint although I should have chosen a lighter color for the security tint. It is quite dark now causing the guards at my residential area security checkpoint wondering who is driving the car late at night.

(Similar baits now resting in my kitchen cabinets, feeding the unsuspecting termites towards the destruction of their colony – so evil of me, ha ha. Image source: http://www.domyownpestcontrol.com)

Termites

Several months, my mother noted a small patch of termites in the kitchen cabinet and so after a spray of termite poison, that problem was resolved fast. That is until, couple weeks ago, the termites made a comeback in a more destructive manner. The kitchen was still in good condition but we know that we needed to act fast.

I, perhaps panicked with of losing the “not really cheap” kitchen cabinet for good, decided to do 3 things that I should never have done, at least according to professional pest control company that I engaged later:-

1. Spray more insect poison onto the termites’ patches
2. Clear away the “mud”
3. Wash the kitchen cabinet

I understand later that by me doing these things could have driven termites into the wall where it will be more difficult to kill later or into the ground. Couple of days later, we still had termites in the kitchen cabinet, so we had to call the “real” professionals in. The pest control staff came over to the house on the weekend and started to check all over the place on the extent of the damage. The good news was the termite problem was constrained to the kitchen cabinet and there was no other “leakages” elsewhere in the house. The bad news was it was going to cost me (big time) to resolve the termite problem and it is going to take about at least 3 months to kill off the “colony” (if we opt for the long term solution which costlier of the 3 options available).

The cheaper option of simply spraying insecticide of ruled out for obvious reasons – we did not know where the colony way. Besides, insecticide in the kitchen is only posing danger to us – this is where our food was cooked. Of course, 3 months is a long way to go and I wondered for how long the kitchen cabinet will last.

The better solution is to place baits in the path of the termites that will then eat some of the bait and passed the remaining baits to others (ultimately to the Queen herself). But although this will be very, very effective, it is not going to be a quick solution. The pest control staff said that they will come over every 3 weeks to check on the bait and extent of growth. But a complete wipe out of the termites from the house will all depends on the size of the colony and there are any other colonies lurking nearby.

Only time will tell on whether the home would be termite-free and whether I will still have the kitchen cabinet standing at the end of the 3 months.