28 September 2006

Top Ten Questions You Should Ask Before You Eat Bread

In the quest to be number one in everything, Malaysian bread manufacturers have discovered how to create the number one long lasting bread in the world - just add up to 5 times more preservatives. Don't take my word for it, there is a news report about the government probing the claims of unsafe levels.

I guess it might be conceivable that with such high amounts of preservatives in our breads, we'll finally solve the problems the Egyptians couldn't solve all those years. No need for secret embalming recipes. Just eat bread.

Now ... you know how this works. In Bolehland, the way to deal with these is to do the contradictory message routine. One ministry will be investigating the claim. Next ministry will strongly deny the claims. Third ministry will advise public to be cautious. And after we, the rakyat gets totally confused, either the problem just dies away, or all the bread manufacturers will be asked to close shop, and a bread monopoly will be created. To safeguard us.

Anyways, in between the time it takes for the tests to be run, you can either stop eating bread altogether, or start a new breakfast toasted wheat biscuit. Or you could do the simple, not guaranteed to work, Top Ten Questions You Should Ask Before You Eat Bread ....

  • It's still healthier eating this bread than gorging on a upsized burger meal, right?
  • Is my wife trying to harm me by making me toasts for breakfast all these years?
  • This could potentially safe my loved ones thousands and thousands in embalming costs, no?
  • How would this bread taste with pickled olives? They're both preserved ...
  • Is this the reason why my local HyperMarket was selling bread loaves at 25 sen each?
  • Wouldn't it be selfish of me to not share most of this bread with my @^*& boss for breakfast?
  • If I smoke, drink and do incessant amounts of ridiculously priced coffee, what's a bit of bread?
  • Wait a minute ... upsized burger meal will kill me faster ... this bread will preserve me ... doesn't that mean they'll cancel each other out?
  • Bread? I thought it's too much preservatives in instant noodles, right?
  • Instead of throwing this bread away, can it be used as rat poison instead?

So, kids, do your tests. Ask yourselves these important questions before you decide to binge on bread. It might be more unhealthier that you initially thought !!!

27 September 2006

Top Ten Malaysian Astronauts Questions

I'm excited. Frankly, I couldn't have imagined that one day, in about a year, Malaysians would send Astronauts into space. It's one of those flag waving, chest thumping gestures that we do - again - without any thoughts as to whether we really need it or not. It's just like we have a checkbox we need to tick that goes ... Astronauts?

I guess it's inevitable. We Malaysians do lots of these things, anyways. Do you really think the longest pulut in the world matter anyways?

Still, I'm excited. Having Malaysians in space would be quite an "achievement" and a reason to give a few more datukships, I guess. And the perfect ad placement for Astro ... Malaysian Astronauts - sponsored by Astro. Fwuah .... even has a nice ring, man. Eh ... if Astro ever does this, remember, it's MY idea.

So, I follow that the final 2 candidates are training in Moscow now. I'm sure it's pretty tough, pretty exciting, and a time to learn plenty of things.

I've gathered what I think must be the Top Ten Malaysian Astronaut Questions, things our dear Astronauts (or is it Cosmonauts, since it's the Russians we're flying with? ) ...

  • Is it ok to bring durians to space?
  • What about some sambal tumis? Ok to bring that to space? Please?
  • Eh ... what happen if I get itchy and need to scratch myself while I'm in my space suit?
  • Can I still send SMS votes to my favorite Akademi Fantasia contestant or not?
  • So, tell me guys, where's the smoking break hangout place?
  • So, where do we go for our daily mamak once we're up there?
  • Will you show me where got cheap DVD when we're up there? Clear or not? I want DVD9 one hor ...
  • Er ... we are supposed to cover the moon with the Jalur Gemilang, no? Neh ... the solar system's largest flag project that one?
  • You call that a moonwalk? This is a moonwalk *does Michael Jackson's moonwalk*
  • Dude, do we get to lepak a bit on the moon, and maybe, say, take some pictures?

26 September 2006

Am I too optimistic or what ?

I originally drafted another entry for today, but during dinner and the subsequent coffee session with an old friend, the topic of today's conversation resonated so deeply in me I had to blog about this instead.

Without going too deeply into the actual conversation, we spoke about all sorts of things. You know, old friends who haven't met each other for a while - you can imagine all the things we'll talk about.

However, for the most part of the conversation, this friend talked about the frustration, the pessimism and the lack of believe in Malaysia. And it resonated deeply in me because I've had a few friends speak in the same manner on this subject in other coffee sessions.

Whoa !!! Am I missing something? Am I too caught up in work?

I don't totally feel in synch ... and but I don't totally disagree with this person's point.

And the thing that strikes me most is that this is a sentiment echoed to me by many peers of mine. People up and coming in their career, from all strata of Malaysian society, from all backgrounds. People from my age group.

I have been blessed with the opportunity to travel and see more of the world than just Malaysia. I have seen the bad, I have seen the good. And so too many of my friends.

I definately see the shortcomings, and I definately see the attempts to cover up, to butter things up, to try and provide an alternative view of the situation. In short, propaganda. It happens everywhere, folks.

I feel that we have lots to improve, but the keyword is WE. You and me.

What these people have all been telling me is that they don't believe they have been involved. Their feedback is not important. Their voices are either suppresed or discouraged. They don't feel safe in bringing about their criticsm.

I guess I see their point of view. I won't tell you where I stand, lest I get in trouble.

But this is what I have to say about the situation ...

We are who we are. A nation is but a nation in name if there are no people in there.

People today have a choice. They have options. With skills, with the right attitude, many argue that nationality doesn't matter. And you can see that many Malaysian have settled elsewhere. It's probably true that some settled elsewhere because of this same feeling, but that can't represent everyone, no?

In a way, it's true. I could have easily decided to work elsewhere, and would easily adapt and make that place home. Being a Malaysian holds no special meaning if Malaysia doesn't represent anything to me. I still treasure being Malaysian.

But I understand the feeling of many who feel they don't belong anymore.

If the voices of Malaysians count for nothing, what is the meaning of being Malaysian? I see their point of view.

"No taxation without representation" ... the famous words sparking the Boston Tea Party, a key trigger of the American Revolution.

I guess the sentiments of my many friends is reflected in this statement. They feel that since they're not given an opportunity to voice, and therefore, participate in building a better Malaysia, what's the point in being Malaysians? They feel they are being disadvantaged, and believe they stand better chances in other places where the playing field is perceived to be level.

Am I too optimistic? I have to question myself because I'm getting too much of these talk around me lately. Or maybe it's purely coincidental ... it's just the coffee shop discussion of the month?

25 September 2006

One week in a blink ...

I'm trying to reassure my 7 daily readers. Yes, I only have 7 readers, 4 of them probably getting redirected unwillingly from some mad search engine. Anyways, no side tracking ...

I've been busy the past week. That's why there weren't any blogs. Here's what happened:-

Sunday - Friend from Thailand came. Went jalan-jalan & makan-makan all over KL.

Monday a. m. - Training in a prestigious hotel in KL. Colleagues from all over ASEAN here.
Monday p.m. - Colleagues from ASEAN demanded company during dinner. Ended up in Sri Hartamas.

Tuesday a.m - Training continues ... still not wireless access in the hotel. Nabeh.
Tuesday p.m. - Colleagues from ASEAN demanded KLCC dinner. Then demanded pub hopping. Half drunk.

Wednesday a.m - Training finishes.
Wednesday p.m. - Meets with customer. Gets scolded. Consoled self with drinks and tapas at La Bodega.

Thursday a.m. - Meetings all day. Achieved nothing, but took down pages upon pages of notes.
Thursday p.m. - Dinner with partner. Nope. Just business partner.

Friday a.m. - Conference calls, frantic meetings, preparations, etc.
Friday p.m. - Meeting with potential customer. Got home early. ZZzzzZZ ... mamak with angeliu.

Saturday ... Tired .... zzzz ....

And that, my dear 7 readers, is a week in a Moz Monster's life.

One highlight of the week was dinner on Thursday night at Ye Chine on Jalan Doraisamy ... along the so called Asian Heritage Row. Great food, excellent service and supreme ambience for a Chinese Restaurant. The Manager was also very accomodating, making dishes not in the menu to suit our preferences, and also giving my the CD of the background music played in the restaurant ... I'm definately won over. A little pricey, though. Reviews here and here.

21 September 2006

921: The Day The Ground Shook

Sticky Post:
7 years ago, on 21 September 1999, I was caught in one of the worst natural disasters - the 921 earthquake - 921 because it happened on 21st September - in Taiwan. I was lucky to be in Taipei, far enough from the epicenter to have my life spared. However, it was still a harrowing experience, and I won't wish anyone an earthquake anytime soon. This is my story ... and it's sort of dedicated to the whole gang who were there at that time, KYC, LYC, TCH, VL, KSL and WHY.

It was late. Very late. We only left the office at around 1.30 am. For us, working in a press publishing company means the working hours are at odds with the rest of the world's. We start at 12pm and wrap things up at 8pm.

After around 9 months or so of constant hardwork, latenights and plenty of heartaches, the system went live. So, we were moved to a new office that day.

The walk back from office to apartment took no more than 5 minutes, even at the snail's pace we were walking, no thanks to the strain of yet another hard day at work. We were just around the corner.

Once home, all of us got ready to wind down. Each went to their own room, except me and Yew Cheng, we always stopped by the couch for a bit of TV to wind down.

Lights Off?
Yew Cheng suddenly recalled that the lights in the office weren't switched off. Who was the last one? Why wasn't the lights turned off?

I tried to reason with him. It's nearly 2 am, for heaven's sake.

No, we should switch it off. Yew Cheng doesn't want any trouble with the customer tomorrow just because some lights weren't switched off.

Yew Chiang (not to be confused with Yew Cheng), walked out of the room, still in his work clothes, and told us it was him. He was the last one out of the office. He would go back to turn the lights off. I reasoned with him not to, Yew Cheng stood his ground and asked Yew Chiang to take the short walk back to switch off the lights.

He handed Yew Chiang the keys, and thanked him.

I started an argument with Yew Cheng. What's the matter with him? Does it really matter if we get pissed for not switching off lights? As if no one else in the big, bad corporate world ever forgot to turn off the lights.

We started a heated discussion. It was so typical of us - both me and Yew Cheng are hot headed. We're both pretty stubborn people who hold our ground well in arguments. After all, we make a living doing it.

And then ... it happened ...
It must have been not more than 3 minutes since Yew Chiang left the apartment when the first signs of an impending earthquake showed up. Time: 1.43 am.

There was a small, minute vibration lasting a split second which was the first salvo. On the tail of that, an immediate rattling sound from the horizon came. The only way I can describe it is that it sounded like a billion Jurassic Park T-Rexes stomping randomly. That caught both me and Yew Cheng's attention. We stopped whatever argument we were in, and both of us stood still, and just moved our eyeballs towards the general direction of the sound, which was coming from the west.

The rattling grew in a rapid crescendo, and in maybe 2 seconds since the rattling began, the lights were cut out. I thought to myself then that if this happened 3 minutes earlier, Yew Chiang won't have to make the walk back to the office.

And then it came. The most violent shaking you could ever imagine in your life took place. The floor beneath our 10th floor apartment shook from side to side, as if a giant Ultraman villian grabbed our building and shaking it like a cocktail mixer.

The couch broke my fall - I remember falling forward and hitting my face against the sofa, which was thankfully, soft. Yew Cheng managed to steady himself by bracing against anoher sofa. And the shaking continues.

For a split second, it appeared to have stopped, but after what was the shortest possible pause you can imagine, we felt the floor was now shaking up and down ... I was to later learn that earthquakes unleashes 2 types of shockwaves - the P and S waves, which results in either side-to-side shocks, or up-and-down shocks.

They later said it was 45 minutes seconds, but it really felt like 5 minutes to me then. I remember looking out the window of the apartment and seeing the building on the opposite side actually swaying sideways. I actually believed then that a collapse of the building I was in was imminent.

The night out
After the shaking, I immediately told Yew Cheng that I feel everyone should evacuate the building. We got everyone out of the rooms - and asked everyone to just bring with them their passports.

And we walked down 10 flights of stairs with 2 flashlights only. The emergency lights hadn't work, and the power's out.

Near the apartment where we lived was this school with an open area - a few basketball courts, a field and a running trek.

All of us ignored the slight rain - it drizzled soon after the quake. And we gathered there, along with ever increasing others - many of the Taipei residents took refuge in the open space with us, fearing for our lifes.

The first police patrol cars came by soon, and we were told that free food and drinks would be available at the local 7-11. Yew Chiang managed to find us in the open area, and told us of his own lucky escape when a piece of tile dropped about 1 feet away from him on his walk to the office.

Inevitably, the aftershocks came. While neither as long, nor as powerful as the initial quake, each aftershock pounded more fear into us. Some of the glass windows in the school must have cracked or exploded, we could hear the glass shards falling onto the cold ground when the stronger aftershocks hit us.

And while we didn't know it then, we could see in the horizon to the northwest, what appears to be flames, or at least, very bright lights - a building actually toppled not very far from where we were.

Throughout the night, we guys were very quiet - probably shocked. The girls weren't their chatty self, and the guys were just stoic.

The only communication with the outside world was through radios - we could hear reports from small pocket radios that some of the people have with them. You can tell there were radios because small clusters of people would form an impromptu radio gathering around the radios, anxious for news.

It was an earthquake measuring at least 7 on the richter scale. It was centered in Central Taiwan. No major damage in Taipei. No news from the epicenter. No way to gauge damage until first light.

The aftermath
When the only cellphone we had in our group was able to make calls again, we immediately called home to inform our unsuspecting loved ones about the earthquake, and to reassure them.

We did get our free food and drinks, and spent the night out in the open, returning to the apartment only at first light. Even then, we were too afraid to sleep in our rooms, so everyone just slept in the living area, and we kept the TV on for more news, just that no one actually watched it.

See some pics of the earthquakes impact here and here.
And read about it from Wikipedia as well. And here too.

16 September 2006

2 wasted hours ...

2 wasted hours best describes the commute to and from work every weekday that I have to endure.

2 wasted hours each day makes 10 wasted hours each working week.
10 wasted hours each week makes 40 wasted hours each month.
40 wasted hours each month makes around 480 wasted hours each year.

480 wasted hours. Let's just imagine that there are 2 million car commuters like me around the Klang Valley. That makes 960 million wasted hours each year.

Even if my logic is oversimplified, no one can say the impact of traffic congestions in Malaysia isn't immense.

Each wasted hour could be spent either working, with the family, with friends, doing workouts or simply engaging in more meaningful activities than sitting in a car chugging around at speeds which cyclists would beat handily.

I suspect the will to solve the ever growing problem of traffic isn't really there.

  • Roads and highways are built, but they are sometimes tolled at prices that are not attractive. And as a result, they are highly under utilised. That serves no one - road users do not enjoy less congestion, and operators don't make any $$$.
  • How can we say we're trying to encourage public transportation and yet be producing national cars that are ever smaller and affordable?
  • How can it be that so many new highways are built with only 2 lanes? One accident in Damansara Uptown during the height of the peak hour will result in congestion all the way to Puchong.
  • Has anyone ever thought of where train stations REALLY should be located?
  • Does urban planning policies include traffic considerations? Why allow a suburb to have plenty of high rises without providing a sufficient road network and public transport?
  • Why are we making it so impossibly difficult for public transportation users? Has anyone ever thought of proper interchanges, uniform ticketing systems, and synchronizing the various modes of transport to get a synergy going?
  • If the reason why train stations can't be built at the best location is because there isn't any land, why was that tract of land sold in the first place for development? Why can't it be made compulsory to make developers to assign land tracts for transport hubs or centers? And although it's more expensive, why not build it underground, then?

I have a lot of questions, plenty of observations, and a heap of frustration. And I suspect there is a growing mass of Klang Valley residents who feel just like me.

I really want to support public transportation, but that option is not available to me. And again, I don't think I'm off the mark when I say that many people share the same sentiment.

I live in Bandar Kinrara. I work in Damansara. The obvious transportation option is to drive to work. Here's a simply elaboration why:-

There are no train stations in my neighbourhood. The nearest stations are at Kelana Jaya, and in Seri Petaling. And where I work in Damansara, the nearest train station is on Jalan Bangsar. So, I rule out train because I'll still need to drive (there isn't any feeder service I'm aware of to both stations from where I live), and park. And I still have to pay for the train, and feeder bus before I get to work. And I'd have to go through the same trouble coming back.

The timing of buses, location of stations (have to pay toll to get to them), parking (outdoor) and general inconvenience makes it an unattractive proposition.

There are no buses that go from Puchong to Damansara. Not even ones that snake around the city all day long before ending up in Damansara. So much for that choice.

I heard that trains are coming to Puchong. I'm hoping it will be properly planned - proper access roads - with ample bandwidth, proper parking facilities - hopefully covered and secured, and proper location - in an area which has plenty of population.

Too often in the past, stations are located where they are convenient to build - in places that have few considerations for parking, and are sometimes out of the way - how in the world would you encourage usage by making it so unattractive in the first place?

In the long run, by properly mapping train stations and facilities, synchronizing the trains with buses, and planning traffic as an important part of urban planning, there is yet hope.

Why my rant? Because I'm finding it impossible to manage my work and off work life when I lose 2 hours each day to traffic congestion. 2 hours is enough time to do a decent workout, for example, but I don't have time for that because I lost it to traffic. And that lost time creates a ripple thru the rest of the day. I can't do more work, find more time to workout and relax, find more time to blog, and really, I'm sacrificing some sleep too.

Granted, this is not a problem exclusive to Malaysia, but I feel we can do a much better job at improving the transportation system compared to what it is now.

13 September 2006

Top Ten Flavors I Don't Want In My Mooncake

Ah ... the Chinese Mid Autumn Festival, popularly known as the Mooncake festival.

This idea for a Top Ten really came up while having lunch today, when a discussion about the absurdities of the modern, commercialised Mid Autumn Festival, which falls in early October this year, took place.

Mid Autumn Festival evokes memories of young children, cheerfully playing with lanterns, the elders gathering round to appreciate the moon (that's what seung yuet literally means), and eating a slice of ....*cue: silly music theme* ... durian flavored mooncake !!! *stop silly music theme*

Look people, I know it's what they call ... innovativeness ... but durian flavored mooncakes? Why not manggis flavoring? Why no rambutan flavor? It's getting crazy, I'll tell you, the marketing gimmicks surrounding mooncakes. Every confectionary is trying to outdo the competition by producing more outlandish mooncakes, be it in terms of flavors, packaging or marketing.

While I still enjoy my mooncakes whenever I can, I hope I won't have to give it up someday just because mooncakes will stop becoming mooncakes.

So, what will make Moz stop mooning mooncakes? These are the top then flavors that would have me run in the opposite direction ... and more so if you add a couple of salted eggs in there ...

  • Dragon Fruit <-- sadly, my mum just walked in with Dragon fruit flavored jerky ... what's happening with the world ???
  • Ah Yat Abalone. Or Shark's Fin, for that matter.
  • Chai Latte
  • Coca Cola. <-- I hope no one's done a Coke flavored moon cake yet ...
  • Ginseng, Gingko Biloba, or any other healthy herbs ... as if there aren't enough 'health food' out there already ...
  • Beef Rendang
  • Ngan Yin Cap Tangan peanut butter <-- if ever, they come up with this product in the first place ...
  • Brand's Chicken Essense
  • Diamond Energy Water
  • Power Root Tongkat Ali (tm) <-- Imagine Mawi promoting Kuih Bulan perisa Power Root Tongkat Ali !!!

10 September 2006

Top Ten Signs You're Suffering from Blogger's Block

Man, you can't even start imagining how tortured I am not being able to update this blog more often ... you don't know how hopeless I felt all those nights, just being able to browse the Net without finding much to blog about. And you don't really want me to rattle off about how impossibly boring and intense work was, right?

The long hours at work trying to clear the in-tray did not help as well ... it's just a major torture ... I'm sure with a bit of time, I can coax something out of my fatigued brain, but with the long hours, sleep obviously takes precedence.

I looked into my photo archives, and thought about posting some of those. I'm sure no one's seen much of the Thailand photos I have, right? But ... that was so ... uninspiring. I'll use 'em sometime else when I can actually write something useful instead.

I wanted to write top ten lists about current affairs in the country, but I wanna stay away from political matters. The way things are now, I could end up in the slammer if I'm not careful.

And I'm back in Malaysia, so not much I can blog about that you don't already know ... it's not like I'm in Sydney or some other gorgeous country ... so ... it's official, I guess ... I have blogger's block.

So, the techie in me decided to analyse the problem, and see where it all went wrong. The soul searching resulted in a list of excuses. It's called the Top Ten Signs You're Suffering from Blogger's Block ..

  • The most interesting subject you can think of - "And so, I watched my toenails grow ..."
  • You start drafting entries, but never go beyond the 4th sentence.
  • The thought of doing a bimbo entry actually crossed my mind ... "Oh .. Look, what beautiful nails I have ..."
  • In a moment of weakness, you wanted to just go to some fancy restaurant and order something really expensive so that you can blog about it.
  • You start complaining to anyone who would listen that there aren't enough people doing stupid things for you to write silly Top Ten lists about. I mean, where are all the silly people?
  • Suddenly, the idea of writing an entry about THAT tatto, you know, the one down THERE, doesn't seem like such a bad idea, after all.
  • Er .... er ... er .... hehe .... er ....
  • You were actually praying for someone to tag you with a meme of some sort. I mean, where the hell are all the memes when you need 'em?
  • The only Top Ten list you can create is one about blogger's block.
  • Your nick is Moz Monster

02 September 2006

Coming home ...

By the time you read this posting, chances are I'll be on the way home, either stuck in an airport or dozing off on a plane.

I'll miss the sarcastic humour of Aussie people ... and hope to be able to get some R&R over the early part of next week ...

I didn't see anything worth shouting joyously about in the 2007 Malaysian Budget. No obvious tax breaks for people like you and me, no obvious areas where I see $$$ getting in my pocket. And that makes 2 years in a row. I don't get it ... with GST about to kick in soon, and modest fuel price increase expected next year, if you're not smart and managing your $$$ now, you'll probably see less money in your pocket next year.

But I'm still happy we're not taxing up to 47% of individual income, like Australia does. That's 47 cents taken from you for every dollar you earn when you're on a high tax bracket. And believe me, many people fall into that bracket.

I'm so happy I'll get to be driving again ... =)