Wednesday, September 30, 2009

An Amazing Kid

The above picture is supposed to be posted 90 degree anti-clockwise but blogger is too smart. It sensed the picture was taken horizontal and decided to be clever by uprighting it and I don't know how to upload it the actual orientation. But pretend that you are seeing it 90 degree anti-clockwise and then I'll tell you this amazing story.

Last night my 2nd grandkid Ling was on my lap watching a slideshow of all my grandchildren on my PC. It is her favorite pastime. She just turned 2 and has become quite matured all of a sudden. I never expected this as picture after picture scrolled before her eyes, until the above appeared. Within 2 seconds she blurted to me 'Ah Chor's place'. I thought, 'What the ???" I didn't even guess, even if I tried to identify the actual location where this picture was taken I would need to cock my eyes to the left to view the picture in its correct upright orientation and then study the background to correctly identify the place. Yet Ling beat me and out of the blue she just said without any fanfare, 'Ah Chor's place'. 'Huh?' I just hugged her and squeezed her and went out to share the amazing news. Ah Chor's place is my mother's home in Sitiawan, Perak. This picture was taken just over 2 months ago. The fact that Ling can identify where it was taken speaks of her amazing memory and power of association. I am really proud of this kid. This morning, when I show her the same picture she reaffirm what she said last night.

* Ah Chor is Hokkien for great-grandmother

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Musical Talents Gen X

Yesterday I was invited by my daughter Irene to visit her blog to check out a videoclip of her daughter Victoria singing at a Yamaha music class for kids. You can view it HERE.

Victoria has just turn 4 years 5 months and is a fantastic kid. She vocalises her views and her personality like a grown up. Watching her sing with full confidence and joy brings back fond memories 30 years back when her aunt first enrolled also at a Yamaha music class in Petaling Jaya (to be followed a few years later by her own mother). I remember driving her there and sat through the class with her, just as Irene sits through the class now with Victoria. Both Irene and her sister went on to sit for their music exams but neither took it up as a career. Yet their skills now come in handy in teaching their own children the valuable skills in music that seems to run in the family. Looks like Victoria is the first of the new generation kids to follow through. Her cousin Ling sat and watched the videoclip with rapt attention and I just know that this is setting up the stage for her to follow suit in the coming years since what Victoria do is what Ling loves to follow.

Ling is very much at home sitting on the piano stool but the keyboard is too heavy for her to play even in 2 years. Perhaps a better choice would be the electronic organ, which coincidentally was what I bought her mother in 1979/1980. Deja Vu, isn't it?

Note: Picture of Victoria above was taken when she was 1 year and 7 months old.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Report Carding Ling

Just a week short of her 2nd birthday, Ling has undergone a growth spurt in recent weeks that astounds us. I just cannot predict where she will be in another 2 months but we are just so thankful for this 'small little girl' as we no longer call her baby anymore (only her cousin sister Victoria calls her baby Grace but that should change of course in due time!).

Ling is a small boned girl of average size. Perhaps her lack of ravishing appetite does not help in her getting more 'body' but lately as she decides to feed herself more often, she is growing nicely into a girl shape, well noticed when she chooses to run about nude after her bath. Cheeky little fella! In another year or so, as she developes her privacy she will change appropriately.

DIY Ling
From a very young age (she's not that old!) Ling has always been a doer, and refuses help. She wanted to write and use the spoon/fork/spreading knife herself and would gets upset should we interfere to help. She wants to handle the remote, camera, cellphone and even house keys. Recently she started wearing her clothings herself, except the diapers of course, that she still cannot. Yesterday she strutted about with an upside down tee shirt she refused to change over.

See Do
We must be careful not to do the wrong things in front of her because in some way she is an imitator. We teaches her never to go outdoor without wearing her sandals or shoes which she follows quite religiously. Yet she can be disobedient, especially at the dining table. Here she does not follow etiquette and would stretch herself to dish out food for herself and everybody else. She eats standing up, refusing to be seated in her high chair. In some ways she is a bit hyper-active.

Musically Inclined
I think she has a talent to go far and the skill seems to be from her mother. Seated before the piano we bought in the 1980s for her mother, Ling would bang away at the keyboard, curious of the notes they create. Recently she hums a lot to the nursery rhymes she listen to from kid's VCDs we play daily. And I think she does carry tone and rhythm in her 'songs'. Yesterday she began singing 'Twinkle Little Star'! That's a milestone.

Ling learns through listening and then vocalising as fast as her ability starts which is a few months back. She would repeat after us. Sometimes she baby talks but infrequently. From one word of repeat syllable like popo, mama, papa she has now upped to 2 syllable and 2 words ability, although sometimes unintelligible, but this gave us immense joy to watch her try to get her views and wants across. Very soon she will be 'talking' intelligibly with us so she will not be frustrated when we cannot understand her.

Pet Lover
Lings loves dogs and cats. We have a dog named Lipton and she would call out 'Eektern' each time she is outdoor or say goodnight to her when she goes home to be with her parents in the evening. There are cats (meow meow) next door that she enjoys looking out for across the party wall. On kids VCDs we introduce her to other farm and zoo animals. She also get to see them on my PC's slideshows and wallpapers and can name then quite accurately (except sometimes certain toy dog breeds get mistaken as meow).

Mental Skills
We noticed she loves trouble shooting such as puzzle solving, assembling blocks and associating shapes and pictures. Unlike other girls her age she does not go (yet hopefully) for soft toys and toy cookery sets much although she has them. Looks like she may take up engineering as a carrer one day, like her papa with with a charm like her mama.

Social Skills
She is cautious when meeting for the first time new people including kids but after an initial eye-over she will likely make the first move to befriend the other person. But she dislikes being forced into strangers arms which is understandable. She likes to share and is quite prepared to let other kids play her toys. As much as she wants to eat and drink what we have, she also share what she has.

House Helper
As early as 6 months ago she would want to pick up a broom to sweep the porch or floor, an act she observed us do. Even now, when she sees dirt on the floor she would get a broom and pan and tries to sweep them. She would also use a flannel to mope the table, sofa, even the floor! I think she is a cleanliness freak!

Personal Hygiene Skills
She has not yet learn to be toilet trained but now pre-notify her state of uneasiness. Hopefully in the next 3 months she will start using the potty.

Playing Games
Ling just loves to play hide and seek and magic hands with us. I used an eraser to bluff her which hand I hide and later she in turn would try the same game on me, but with her tiny palms she cannot obviously hide it but the learning trick has been established.

Picture Associations
One thing I want her to be familiar with is the PC. And I use it regularly to display interesting pictures taken of her and family members and various animals, especially dogs (wow wow) and cats. One of her favorite pastime is climb up my home office chair uninvited of course, sometimes evacuating me from it, and patiently watch through the slideshow of her favorite pictures and each one she would adeptly describe the subject: mama, papa, popo, wow wow, meow, kiten, fish, lion, etc. She is thrillled that she can manipulate the screen using the wireless mouse and change its appearance by tapping the keyboard. Her favorite key: the ESC button.

Gadgets Gadgets
She is no Inspector Gadget but is at home with remotes, keys, cameras, cellphones, dvd player and the television. She knows how to turn on the TV, insert CDs into the player, open and shut the auto gate and tries to manipulate my camera which I resisted as she is too young and can cause a major damage. In a few months I expect her to take her very first digital picture.

Ling has a stable and trusting relationship with us, her maternal grandparents, and her parents who live 5 minutes away. She has settled into a routine of weekday stay with us and nighting with her parents that she is familiar in both home environments. Her relationship with other adults is improving as she adapts to new world outside our homes.

What is outstanding about Ling is her bubbly personality, ever ready to break out into laughter and smile that is bewitching and heart softening. And the way she would intonate her voice when she calls us just make us melt away our irritation and anger when she do something wrong. She is strong minded and gets upset when we do not give in to what she wanted. Over the next few months we will have to teach her to accept NO for an answer and the reasons. Her strong-mindedness will be both and advantage as well as a weakness later in life. It will show up in leadership but will need to be moderated.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Sick Again!

A week after I recovered form my dengue fever I got sick again yesterday when I became feverish with achy body, symptoms familiar to what I got on Aug 26. I thought to myself, am I being bitten again by an aedes mosquito and contracted dengue again? Oh no!!

Last night my wife had to sponge me again to bring down the temperature. I drank lots of water and took paracetemol to both bring down the temperature and relief my ache. This morning my temperature was normal but my ache still persist. A visit to the government doctor at 10am did not end with a blood test as I wanted. The doctor, different from the one who examined me on Aug 27, said the test would not be able to show any anomalies this early. I question his approach since the first doctor who also examined me on the 2nd day of the fever ordered the blood test which showed a sharp drop in my platelets count. Professionally I decide not to question the second doctor's procedure, after all a blood test takes just 15 minutes and if I am indeed again infected by dengue, I can take more pro-active actions. Anyway, I am continuing to drink lots of water, herbal drinks and coconut water. And taking plenty of rest.

Maybe it wasn't dengue this time but overworking. On Sunday I washed 2 cars and the porch and I think that got me quite stressed out physically, which affected my immunity.

Updated: Sep 9, 2009. I was given a blood test which showed my platelet counts to be 165,000 per microliter, marginally above normal. I felt feverish and shiver with body ache. Doctor ruled out dengue, said it could be bacterial so prescribed ceporex to take over 5 days. My next blood test on Sep 11.

Updated: Sep 11, 2009. I had my blood test this morning. Even before that I knew I am OK as I felt well. The sun appears extra bright and the skies and trees extra clear, and my spirit extra high. The test gave my platelet counts as 183,000 per microliter and the doctor 'discharged' me effectively but reminded me to take plenty of fluids and rest as much as possible. Good advice even under normal circumstances for healthy people.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Hisham, What a Sham!

Since when does the Home Minister becomes a spokesperson for the protesters who paraded a cow's head in front of the Selangor State Secretariat's building last Friday? In this REPORT, Hishammuddin said that the organisers of the protest had “not realised that someone had brought a cow’s head to the demonstration until the last minute.” In THIS the protestors were pulling the cow's head a distance so the 'last minute' claim is not excusable. It seemed pre-planned.

His stance obviously went against his boss's anger who ordered the police to investigate and bring to book those responsible. The cow head incident marred Najib's 1Malaysia concept and Hishamuddin's support of the protesters may be seen as interfering with police investigation. The police is under his jurisdiction and anything he said is tantamount to ordering the police to act to his views. But today he sang a different tune. In a right about turn as reported HERE, he wanted the protestors to face the music.

When a senior minister flip flop in his statements within a matter of 24 hours, it can only mean 3 things:

1. he allowed his lack of perspective and emotion to dictate his statement in the first instance.
2. he was playing to politics, hoping to win the favors of the section 23 folks.
3. he was reprimanded by his boss, the Prime Minister, for making contradictory statements to the government policy, so soon after the 52nd Merdeka celebration.

Cellphone Upgrading

My Samsung SGH-X700 bought in December 2005 is a great phone to use, that even my grand-daughter Ling loves the colorful graphics, especially the wallpaper of either her picture or that of her cousin sister or po-po. She never fails to grab it away from me while I was using it to text a message or receive one. She knows that she has to get it before it keylocks in 10 seconds or so, and would be mad to find the keypad locked so she could not scroll all over the menus. Ling is just under 2 years and is already primed for the world of gadgets. She knows which cellphone to launch after, not the older monochrome Nokia that her po-po uses, but either my X700 or her parents newer Nokias. So much so we have to 'hide' them in case she accidentally drops it.

Well, my X700 did not suffer any physical damage as a result of Ling's handling (she is really quite agile and good in holding cellphones and remotes) but I decided to look for a replacement because of the battery issue. Although the phone is under 4 years, replacement batteries are hard to get for 2 reasons: original batteries are expensive and generics are unavailable because the battery is on the back cover rather than as a separate unit like the way Nokia designs them. Perhaps the strategy is to discourage users to hang on to the handset but to buy new ones when the batteries run down. Since the X700 battery is showing ageing signs I thought I should be looking for a successor ... Plus the model is already obsolete.

The past few weeks were spent in checking out. I admit I am rather out of touch with cellphones so checking out began with a very basic enquiry at the mobile phone outlets at Terminal 1 shopping mall in Seremban. Soon I started online search and became quite knowledgeable about what I want and what are in the market.

To keep this post short, I want a replacement that belongs to either the Nokia or Samsung family. And my primary condition is that it must have a fairly good camera, with organizer function to help me track upcoming events and tasks, and 3G of course since this technology will soon be in every entry level phones. I would not be interested in features I don't need, therefore I am unwilling to part with more cash than necessary for features that are irrelevant to me.

I preview several models: Nokia 5800 XpressMusic, Nokia 6303, Samsung S5233, Samsung i550w, and Samsung U800 Soul b. I read several reviews and user feedbacks. I did my homework and decided to take the Samsung U800 Soul b. With an additional 4Gb microSD card thrown it, I pay just RM600. I think it is a good deal and I think I am making the right choice.

You can read a good review of this phone HERE. Just comparison, read a X700 review HERE.

Update: I received my U800 on Sep 10, 2009. It was good that I was home as the courier delivery man was impatiently horning for attention. After unpacking the box I installed the microSD card, transferred my existing SIM card into the new phone and began exploring its many new features. Preliminary impressions:

1. The phone is very slim but not so well contoured to fit my hand as the X700 does. Perhaps it takes some time to adjust. No big problem here. It also feels 'heavy' while it is not. Perhaps it is due to the perception from its very metallic body.

2. I like the 16M TFT color screen, although it is no larger than the X700 at 2" diagonally. The Living World wallpaper of the Petronas Twin Towers that changes the skylines as the day progresses is impressive and uplifting. The shooting stars at night and the flying birds in the daytime are great ideas!

3. The user manual is skinny and not very helpful. Even the X700 manual was bulkier and more informative. What was Samsung thinking here? Saving money in the wrong department!

4. The very generous 1Gb internal memory and expanded free 4Gb microSD memory gives me plenty of room to store my favorite music and audio Bible so I can listen to them on the go. This is a main reason I bought the U800.

5. The keypad is not as good as the X700 and the preset beeping sound was annoying each time I change menu or press a key. Luckily I can mute it through the phone profile section of the setting.

6. Thankfully the battery is NOT fixed on the back cover as in the X700. Hopefully this allows the U800 a longer lifespan as OEM batteries will be more readily available. I also think the U800 is among the more popular models that will not be obsoleted as quickly as the X700 (in less than 3 years).

Overall I have no regret buying without taking a physical test drive. Cost-v-Features, I think it is a worthwhile purchase. Plus my learning curve is easier since the menu structure mimicks the X700 closely but with some new features added. I am excited to explore the 3G features in the coming days. Both U800 and X700 remains companions as they will be used by myself and my wife.


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