Thursday, October 28, 2010

Russ Hamilton, How Can I Forget Him?

Russ Hamilton still gives me the creep with his haunting voice that drag the memory of a 9 year old boy to the forefront. Russ died just over 2 years ago at the age of 76 in his home in North Wales. The impact his songs made on impressionable kids like me is beyond description. Today his songs are still sung and listened with great affection. Here are four that made me soft all over.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Crying Silence

As people grow older they tend to introspect and turn inward to confront the silence of undischarged pain, hurt and bondage too proud, too ashamed, too afraid to share. They'd rather carry them to their graves. Is silence bad? When the world drums you with meaningless chatter and music that doesn't heal, we can turn back in time to find consolation in the lyrics of golden hits such as this one by Paul Simon & Art Garfunkel sung a year ago in Madison Square, NYC. They were around 68 then.

The same song sung 42 years earlier in 1967 when they were around 26. Sense the tender and poignant difference between youthful and elderly silence.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Are You Vain?

Listen to Carly Simon and look at yourself in the mirror. I would like to be a little vain, even at my age. I've never been vain before for I do not live lavishly nor made people think I belong upper class. Whatever worth I have I cannot change the way I project myself for I am who I am. But if I am going to be vain it must be because I see myself a lovely and a loved person. Perhaps I am a little like the man that Carly sings about. A little fantasy doesn't hurt.

And does this song help you guys feel way above cloud nine? Caucasian ladies have ways to make guys feel good that Asian girls often don't know how to. Maybe it is in their upbringing.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Dressing for a Party?

The Budget 2011 revealed by Najib Razak, PM cum FM, last Friday revealed the person he is. This is his 2nd budget since taking over from Abdullah Badawi in April last year but I don't count the first as his own since he was 'under probation'. But now into his 2nd year of premiership, and having learned the rope in the Finance Ministry, he cannot escape criticisms for coming up with what I consider the worst and most irrelevant, as well as the most extravagant and self-glorifying budget. The use of 'billions' has become so commonplace that we can be forgiven to think it has 6 zeros. As a reminder to Najib, a billion has 9 zeros, i.e. 1,000,000,000. In Indonesia it is forgiven but not here. As FM my advice to Najib is not to carelessly waste precious billions of ringgits of taxpayers money on wasteful projects that has absolutely nothing to do with our growth towards a developed nation that he fondly remind us again and again. His approach? We are behind time, we have merely 9 years left to become Mahathir's developed nation, so we must play catch up. So he dresses us up for this party, but unfortunately most of us are still given cotton while chosen few are given silk.

One of the favorite targets attacked is the proposed 100 storey Warisan Merdeka projected to cost 5 billion ringgit (assuredly will spiral to 10 billion, that's Malaysian way of spending) which many have protested as irrelevant and damaging to Kuala Lumpur. Does he want to do a Mahathir or even outdo him? Cornered, what is Najib's response? He passes the buck of course! Read HERE. As PM and FM the buck should stop with him. If the Warisan Merdeka is not a national budgetary item it should not even be announced. If it is and Najib disagrees he should drop it. Faced with outrageous protests and possible loss of urban votes at the next General Election, he realised it was a bad idea and conveniently shifts the blame. A good leader accepts the consequence of his proposal and not chicken out when the going gets tough. So is the RM500 gift to the civil servants that Najib said the government can afford eventually transform into a month's bonus as demanded by the 1.3 million government employees?

Enough commentaries have been written about Najib's Budget so I am not writing anymore but just ask you to read THIS one. Tell me if you agree that Najib has strayed from presenting a real budget to glorifying himself with grand projects that many Malaysians feels so disconnected?

Welcome back to Mahathir's Malaysia!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

The Pinkerton Syndrome

My friend Aaron has an axe to grind and I am giving him the 'edge' here to sharpen it. Here's what he said:

Today, I want to air an injurious grievance. The Pinkerton Syndrome is a derogatory reference to the tendency for Asians to consider Caucasians superior and to be biased in favour of Caucasians. Pinkerton is Colonel Pinkerton, a character in the acclaimed stage-play, MADAM BUTTERFLY. I thought of this topic after the successful conclusion of the Commonwealth Games in India.

The recent India-held Games was enveloped in controversy. Even as the D-day was looming, the Indians were not quite ready in this mammoth task ....... according to the disapproving Western press. There were much griping and dire warnings were sounded about accommodations, cleanliness, security, sporting facilities, transportation, snakes ..... a litany of endless complaints.Came the hour, the Indians did more than match the high expectations of the judgemental "hoity-toity". I am reminded of POLONIUS' words in HAMLET:


As India basked in the glory of the spectacular extravaganza, I was particularly irked by the non-apologetic demeanour of the baying Western press, The same had happened when China staged the grander-scaled Summer Olympics. The Bullies then were nick-picking on air pollutions, strangulating traffic, human rights, political freedom, and indeed, dog eating. Seemed like Asians could never get it right ...... never mind a matchless excellence. We all now know that China's achievement was so impressive that the next Host quickly covered their butts by saying that they will make the next Olympics more people participatory ......... meaning, we will be hard put to match all this. For months prior to the Olympics, the daily front-page lead stories were solely focused on the unsavoury aspects of China, and casting doubts on whether China could indeed accomplish her mission. Of course there was this deafening silence after China staged the best Olympics the world had ever known. Was the Press remorseful? You bet. I was so incensed that I cancelled my subscription for the news paper immediately.

Now it is for India to take stock of her performances. Objectively, Asians have few outstanding failings. Firstly ...... time-keeping. Asians are notoriously lax in being not punctual and failing to honour date-lines. Secondly ...... Corruption. Greasing is a way of life and this victimises the whole food-chain. Thirdly ..... Quality control, tied in with honest labour and pride in work. Low wages have ham-strung developments in this direction.

Fourthly ....... in sporting events, Asians need to be gracious in applauding all participants. Partisan crowds need to not just cheer lustily for the home team but also the other side.

Are Ang Mohs (Caucasians in Chinese) really better ......... not that I know of. They are just as human. After all their moralising, pontificating and holier-than-thou mouthings, they dont really practise what they preach. Take a closer look at history ........ pathetic human failings, forced down the throats of people too naive or incapable of defending their own rights. High ethics,"civilised" behavior are bloody misnomers ..... smoke screens ...... to safe-guard their own over-riding self interests. Their own perceived superiority is like burying their heads in their own butts. But we should not encourage them ........ we should exhibit more self-esteem and must be ever-ready to debunk widely-held myths. Mahathir once said ..... busok, busok, semua busok ...... for himself and the rest ........ that's a refreshing honesty ..... its more like .... live and let live .... I respect you and I expect you to reciprocate accordingly. The Ang-Mohs have gotten away with "murders" for too long!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Listen to My Favorite Cliff Richard Songs

As promised to Aaron I like to share some 21 of my favorite Cliff's oldies here. I've deliberately downsized the mp3 files to 32kbps for faster download without sacrificing your listening pleasure.

They are ranked in random order. Click on the song title to listen.

Summer Holiday
Theme for a Dream
Goodbye Sam Hello Samantha
Bachelor Boy
The Minute You're Gone
Saviour's Day
I'm Looking Out the Window
A Girl Like You
We Don't Talk Anymore
Fall in Love with You
Don't Talk to Him
It's All in the Game
The Next Time
Mistletoe and Wine
I'll Love You Forever Today
The Young Ones
I Could Easily Fall
When the Girl in Your Arms

I hope you like them. Spent one morning building this database in conjunction to Cliff's birthday.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Sir Cliff is 70!

Thanks to my good friend Aaron who tipped me on this bit of news HERE and HERE. Cliff Richard is the only entertainer I ever idolize. I was glad my wife and I managed to catch his 'live' performance at the Genting's Arena of Stars in 2007. I doubt Cliff will ever return to Malaysia to croon and dance to his fans and make us young again. He always tell his fans at his concerts it will be his last one but keep the option wide open that he may change his mind. For now I was really glad to have a few of his concert DVDs to watch when the mood comes. Aaron, let's do it when I see you for I know you too are a CR fan. One was of his concert at The Mission in Napier, New Zealand on his World Tour 2003. Amazing and totally refreshing and enjoyable watching this man thrills the crowd and interact with them.

Learning that Cliff has entered a new decade made me somewhat sad. For the past 2 years we were old men in their 60s but today I have to wait for another 8 years (if God let me live that long) to join Cliff (and God let him live to 78 and beyond). Memories and nostalgia of my teenage years flooded my mind. Yes, my very first song sang on my school stage was his 'Outsider' and the first song I strummed on my guitar was his 'Evergreen Tree'. And the song that soothed my lonely heart when I was in love and pining for my sweetheart was his 'Vision' and when I was really sad and feeling hurt, it was his 'Wind Me Up'. I was exhilarated with his song 'Congratulation' when I was in puppy love with a neighbor's young daughter and I felt the world under my feet singing his 'Summer Holiday'. The song that got me all romantically seized up was his 'When the Girl in Your Arms'. But the song that made me truly, absolutely and crazily Cliff mad was his 'The Young Ones'. Now at my age I smile as I listen to the lyrics of his song 'We Don't Talk Anymore' and I wonder how apt they describe ageing couples. We seems to have less to talk and tend to dive more into our own souls than our soulmates, who may be doing the very same thing! So nothing is wrong with the relationship when old people talk less with each other but remain faithfully together.

I want to compile a list of special Cliff's songs to be played over my blog. It will be a project I want to get started and complete before I become 70!

To Sir Cliff Richard, congratulations for hitting the 3 scores and 10. May God's love and divine care embrace you as you sing of His love and salvation through songs. Happy birthday, Cliff!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Amazing Trapeze

You got to watch the full videoclip to appreciate the skills and absolute trust the team has. Enjoy.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

A Saturday Morning Outing

Nowadays it is rare for my wife and I to spend time together on a walk, mainly because from sunrise she would be up to get the house ready for the grandchildren to come over around 9am. It is only on the 2nd and 3rd Saturdays when our daughter has her off days that we find time to go for morning walks, something healthy but with indiscipline we tend to overlook. This morning the sun was up and my wife said, 'Let's go for a walk!' and so we did.

We donned our walking shoes. I wore my knee pads (my knees are painful sometimes due to joint degeneration). Took our pill box with our daily supplements and prescribed pills and off we drove to City Park 5 minutes away from home. We walked two rounds around the man-made lake. There were some two hundred people there, mainly seniors like us. Some met in small groups to perform line dancing by the lakeside to lively music, others like us just walked, and the more agile jogged. In times like this I feel blessed to be in Seremban, in Malaysia. While most of the park users are Chinese, there are a growing number of Malays and some Indians too. They have discovered the goodness of exercising in the morning air and sun.

After breakfast nearby and buying groceries we made our way home. I have a doctor to visit later and our PJ grandchildren and daughter are visiting. Looks like it will be another busy weekend.

Friday, October 08, 2010

How Extraordinary, Still Ordinary

Mr. & the late Mrs. Lee Kuan Yew who passed away recently are extraordinary people of superior intelligence, intellect, power and ability to move a nation of people. In their extraordinariness we see that they are after all human with fundamental needs like all of us. They have the same emotion, same pain, same fear, same emptiness, same sorrows. Upon the death of Mrs. Lee, Mr. Lee became a very ordinary man and I'm sure would long for the comfort of ordinary friends to seek solace and peace.

If you have time do read THIS blog post about what Mr. Lee write of his late wife.

We are never born great, maybe born into great families but as a baby, great? Never. Greatness come from what we made of our lives and how those lives become channels of influence upon other lives. How many of us can admit that we have never been influenced by others? I'd say you are a bad liar. Your very first source of influence would be your own mother, maybe father later on, and siblings and definitely your teachers, and then some peers.

But as you grow and educate yourself you would probably become a person of influence, by your attitude towards life, towards others, towards society, towards God, if you believe in Him. If you are an influential person, you would not be living within your narrow life but explore and extend beyond it, family and community. It takes an extraordinary person to be an influential person and I say Lee Kuan Yew has been one such person. The day he die most Singaporeans should mourn their loss, even if some don't like his political styles but he did made Singapore what it is today, which is no mean feat. Mrs. Lee's death will surely weaken his resolve to live long for it is said that a man needs his wife more than his wife needs him. Maybe men subconsciously want their wives to be their surrogate mothers too and when they die, they cannot take it, having to lose wife and mother in one go. Loneliness is a killer to older people.

It takes great effort to live extraordinary lives but for some, like the Lees, it come so naturally. Perhaps they were of a class breed that are unique. For the rest of us trying to live extraordinary lives may take great efforts but if your are not cut out to be one don't pretend. Ultimately it is better to be ordinary and contended.

What will my epitaph read? Not the above, but How Ordinary But Extraordinary.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Managing Our Medical Appointments

I don't ever remember my parents visit their doctors for periodic checkups, like we do for cars every 10,000km for oil change. In fact they only see doctors when they are really sick. Maybe we think cars are more important that our health. Looks like in our generations we cannot avoid such routines.

I think we are under the belief, and even illusion, that seeing our doctors once or twice a year (more often if we are older) helps us fight illnesses, spot early signs of cancers, diabetes, hypertension, prostate enlargement, kidney failure, etc, etc and generally keep us at a higher level of healthiness. Logically it makes sense but does it actually work? Do we really need to go, and is it proven that not going makes us less healthy or more vulnerable to dying earlier or enjoying a less productive senior life? Is this a ploy by the medical profession and healthcare industry to sustain their profitability and relevance? I know this is getting controversial but nobody has done a parallel study to determine if going for regular health checks will improve our longevity and general well-being. At the risk of being wrong, we take the safer route, go anyway since most people now accepts routine medical examination the right way to go. Kids are slowly made to do likewise. Maybe that explains why the hospitals are so crowded with the not-really-sick patients.

Well, I am one of those play-safe people, or maybe dragged into it by the system. For over 10 years now my wife and I had made our faithful appearances at the local government clinics (we think they are just as good as the private ones) to get our blood tested, blood pressure and body weight taken and recorded, and medicine prescribed. 10 days ago I made a solo trip to the government hospital to follow up on a minor surgery done in September. There I asked the attending specialist if I can have another prescription for my enlarged prostate as the current one that I was taking for 5 years has lost its effectiveness. So he prescribed an expensive controlled drug. It was like, you take what I think is good for you no matter how expensive it is, since the government pays for it (I think I blogged elsewhere that locals pay just RM1 for doctor's consultation, lab tests and 4 months supply of drugs). If you can beat this anywhere in the world (maybe Brunei provides all free medicare since it is so oil rich) tell me. This is one service Malaysia is leading even the most developed nations in the world. USD0.35 for 4 months medical supplies and consultation! Wow!

Now my problem is I have to track all the appointments for myself and my wife. Yesterday I nearly forgot I had to see the doctor this morning. As I get older I must develop an easier way to manage our medical appointments or else we may just miss collecting our drug supplies or fast for a blood test the night before. Until one day I get too senile I have to trust my phone organiser, my reminder software and maybe a whiteboard at home to alert me when we are due to see our doctors.

Next trip out will be late October to collect my medicine at clinic A; then 1st week November for my medicine at clinic B; 3rd week November for my wife's doctor appointment; end November her blood test; mid December my blood test; and pre-Christmas my own doctors' visit. Next year on the book is my follow-up visit on January 27.

Phew! Now you understand why taking care of our bodies is harder than taking care of our cars. Too many appointments! Just in case you are wondering, the bunching of appointments above is quite unusual but it just show how tight I need to manage them. With my wife fully tied down with babysitting our grandchildren I am the Home and Medical Secretary. As well as managing our drug inventory and dispensing them weekly into our pill boxes.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Ling Loves PBSNS

Every time I told my grand daughter Ling I will be going to PBSNS she would ask to follow. If my errands include other places inconvenient for a child to go I would decline her request and she would be unhappy. However I always promise her that when I go there only then I will bring her. Just under a week ago the opportunity arrived and I scooped her into my car, seat-belted her and drove to PBSNS which by then had already opened its new centre. The staff, volunteers and even some trainees greeted her happily. Seldom do they have little children drop by. Of course Ling was shy and did not socialise much until the ice broke much later and just before we left the centre. Here are several pictures taken of her, with her, and by her on that morning. Slowly as she grows up I will tell her why the kor-kor and chieh-chieh (brothers and sisters) are different.

Matthew 7:7

The New International Version writes this way:

"Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you."

Bible commentaries explain this to mean if we persevere in our request through prayer God will answer, but according to His will (which is really another way of saying that you don't know if you will get it). Likewise if we as children beg our parents we are likely to get what we want, if we ask NICELY, POLITELY, TIMELY and DESERVEDLY. There are 2 positions in the asking and the giving: Know what you ask, and ask in the best time to earn the answer to your favour. Most importantly make sure you really deserve to get what you ask by building up the case that favours you. Example: do well in your exam before asking for an increase in allowance. The other position is to understand the giver better. Ask what he can afford, in good mood, draw close to him and make sure your request aligns with his values and beliefs. In other word, ask SMARTLY and you are likely to get what you want. The other thing to remember is to be direct and justify your request.

P/S I am not suggesting that we can manipulate God the same way we deal with man but being in good relationship with Him will already means you don't really need to be asking, seeking or knocking as much since you will be living under grace and spiritual contentment.

CAReer or CAREer

The same word with different emphasis. You get the message. Are we focussing on the first early in our career and later, when we have amassed our fortune or built our security nest, to dish out some care for others? Selfish as it may sound we do think for ourselves first, don't we? Most importantly we need to show some care to others. If it is after retirement so be it. The world really do need more care as many people are suffering from extreme poverty, disabilities, physical/emotional/mental sufferings, and sickness. Show some care. It won't hurt at all but restore some hurts you never know.


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