Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Pinterest Update @ 1 Month

The past month has been a time of discovering the wonderful world of Pinterest and I think I have overdone it. My brother said I have too much time and I agree. I created 43 boards pinned and repinned (99%) over 8500 images (99%) and videoclips covering a broad range of interests (that's what this is all about, pinning your interest), thoughts, sharing and love. Absolutely by visiting my profile you will know mostly about my likes and perhaps interest you to start yours too. The only cost, for the moment, for non-business, I think is your time and zero subscription. As of now I have attracted over 100 followers. Somebody asked how is Pinterest going to make money? I think the answer is already here. They have Pinterest for Business which I believe will be subscription based.

However I pin for personal interest and don't feel the pressure to reach a wider audience or create a strong network presence. But the ego in me will always want to perform against the hobbyist approach so in my free time I would 'collect' pins like seashells from the beach to be added to my growing collections. In the coming years I know with sustained interest my board size will grow and so will, I hope my followship. The ultimate purpose I have quizzed myself, to what end and for what useful purpose? The answer is simply this: For the joy of doing something even worthless monetarily just to feel good. Pinterest have given retirees something to while away. I may never know my followers but every time Pinterest sends me an email update that I have been followed and my pins repinned, a sense of pride and satisfaction well within. My site have been noticed and my pins deemed good to be repinned and my boards followed. My agony will always be to fine tune the focus of my boards, many of which are too general but if I am a generalist by nature it is hard to be specialists, so my followers are likely to be of like mind.

What did I learn?

1. I need to organize myself from the beginning. Being a person who like to do things systematically let me say I am just half successful. Pinterest is like going to Disneyland for the first time and you just don't know how to start, where to start and what to start. If I remember well my first boards were on food and drinks (I love food but unfortunately cannot eat all so can only feast with my eyes), holiday moments (If I can I'd love to be at every place I pinned), gardens and flowers (I simply love everything natural and colorful, they zest up my life), all things Chinese (I proud to be born one and living through this great era of Chinese domination of the world) and Jesus Christ (He is someone to be seriously considered). Over the weeks I learned to better plan my boards and added those that matter.

2. The concept of Pinterest evolves around an interactive community who share their boards and their contents (pins) using the methodology of following and being followed. Following another user means being kept updated when he/she post a new pin(s) that may be of interest to you so you either like, comment or repin into your appropriate board(s). If your boards have reached a point of generating interest other users may want to follow you. That's when you begin to 'earn' a group of followers after your site or boards. I find having followers extremely satisfying. It means my boards are good enough to have a following and must work to keeping them interesting.

3. Pinning require thoughtfulness. I am not incline to pin everything related to the subject matter of my board but choose those I like and meaningful. In my inexperience I have taken the wrong approach again and again - pin based on the attraction of the pictures or the quotes and not considering the underlying URL link, which is where my followers, if they wish, will click to read more. Some URLs are badly written, have little or no useful contents, or are actually links to entice visitors to do what they won't like, or regret later. I believe pinners must take serious efforts of checking the URL of each and every image that attracts their attention, read the contents, and if deem useful only to repin them. I guess not everyone is this conscientious and I have fallen into the trap of the fatal attraction from which I must rescue myself when I have time to check and delete pins that don't matter.

4. Someone urge users not to pin/repin more than 40 images per day. I immediately pleaded guilty but that's because in my early days of growing into the Pinterest community I really need contents and interesting ones too. I have to build my foundation and I am not about to spend 6 months doing it slowly. I think my first months have successfully put me into the league of users with a substantial content that are handpicked. In the coming months I don't think I will be repinning as much but for the sake of my followers (I don't want them to think I'm dead. LOL) I have to pin/repin as often as I can.

5. I was tempted to go into group boards and even try getting invited into some popular ones. I even thought of inviting some of my followers to contribute to some of my boards. Opening up my boards or inviting shared boards into my profile may increase traffic and boost the number of followers. I often ask myself, what am I doing at Pinterest? If it is an ego trip then I am at a wrong place and need to get out, fast. But if, like this blog, I do it simply because I enjoy it and believe I profit for the various pins I adopted into my boards (I am guilty like most users, never read the underlying messages of the pins. Most pins carry a message so please find time to read them or else the core purpose of Pinterest is lost). For now I am still thinking hard about opening my site to other users. Although I can uninvite them later should I find they contributing stuffs that are not appropriate or relevant, taking such a move is not nice. I'd rather survey the background of the user first before extending my invite, or asking to be invited.

6. Board Cover is the window dressing to the contents. Users should take time to search from among the pins the best and most striking picture to pose on the cover.

7. Description. Many users don't describe their boards. Although optional it forces you to think hard what your board is going to collect and give you a right focus. A great description help visitors understand your mission in this project.

8. Category. I think Pinterest ought to expand the topics. Many of my boards are under Others because they don't fit into those listed, which is a shame.

9. Lastly I like the Pinterest team and their modest and low brow approach. I hope this remain their culture even as they grow big. Do you notice every now and then an error message would pop up to notify you something is wrong at THEIR end? Or the server is down and the TEAM would be informed? They seems to take all the blame and promise to rectify them. They also said they are a 'small team' and cannot respond to every email but so far they have, usually within 2 days, which is a feat because I believe Pinterest now have over 12 million users worldwide. If the speculation that Pinterest will overtake Twitter and Facebook is correct then Pinterest will be the next big IPO to watch.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

The Passing of Larry Hagman

Larry Hagman, well known as J.R. Ewing the man you love to hate in the popular soap opera Dallas of the 1980s has dies. Read HERE. This is from Wikipedia:

Larry Martin Hagman (September 21, 1931 – November 23, 2012) was an American film and television actor, producer and director most known for playing J. R. Ewing in the 1980s primetime television soap opera Dallas and for playing Major Anthony "Tony" Nelson in the 1960s sitcom I Dream of Jeannie. His films include Fail-Safe, Superman, JFK, Nixon and Primary Colors. His television appearances continued in international soap operas and with guest roles on shows such as Desperate Housewives into the 21st century. In 2012, he reprised his role as J.R. Ewing in an updated version of Dallas.

Hagman was the son of the actress Mary Martin. A long-time drinker, he underwent a life-saving liver transplant in 1995, and although a member of a 12-step program, he publicly advocated marijuana as a better alternative to alcohol. He died on November 23, 2012, of complications from throat cancer.

May God grant him peace and compassion to his family.

Photo credit: tmz.com


Malaysians eagerly await the next general election, billed 13GE, which must be called anytime now and April next year which is the prerogative of the incumbent Prime Minister Najib Razak. Unlike the recently concluded US presidential election which saw Barack Obama defeat challenger Republican Mitt Romney by a comfortable electoral vote margin. On December 17 the US Congress will formally elect the next President (Obama) and vice President (Biden) for their second term in office. In Malaysia there is much at stake in the PMship which comes from whoever that holds the presidency of the most powerful member of the Barisan Nasional coalition, UMNO, in this case Najib Razak and he must want to keep this position at all cost. Presently he holds the presidency by default - as deputy president he had taken over the post when the previous president Ahmad Badawi who was also PM resigned under pressure of poor performance of the coalition at the 12GE held in March 2008. He eventually relegated his powerful post to Najib on 3 April 2009. In other word Najib did not have a proper  mandate from the UMNO general assembly. He needs to win the 13GE and then has his UMNO presidency endorsed thereafter.

While the power play is taking place in BN the same drama is unfurling in Pakatan Rakyat the rising opposition coalition led by Anwar Ibrahim, a former deputy PM under the rule of former PM Dr Mahathir. Recently the president of a coalition member of PR, PAS, was proposed to be the next PM should PR win the 13GE. Read HERE. While there has been disagreement whether Anwar is morally qualified due to his sodomy charges (never proven or successfully prosecuted) he is nonetheless the most suitable candidate because of his experience and ability to handle crisis situations under pressure. He is also well respected overseas and his thoughts and views often sought by observers of regional politics in ASEAN. The PAS president, Abdul Hadi Awang, may have a cleaner record but he lacks the exposure and experience to lead the nation. Plus he is NOT acceptable by the non-Muslims to be the next PM due to the Islamic approach to governance of the nation using the Syariah laws as basis, although at this time only assured to apply to the Muslims and not all citizens, but the doubt remain will this promise be kept since in Malaysia promises are easily twisted to fit the need of the party in power.

An analysis HERE compares how we in Malaysia will fare if the electorates vote like the States. But there are differences that make the comparison invalid. Firstly, I would say American voters look at issues more than personalities. Whoever is more convincing in addressing pressing current issues will be more acceptable. There are less voters who are loyal to a party than to the cause. Obama won because he had dealt with the needs of the minorities, or in Malaysia we tend to classify them as pendatangs or migrants/aliens. As if the major race did not migrate here themselves long ago. Secondly I believe the electoral process is cleaner (I am not suggesting there are no frauds in the US elections) and less chance of manipulations. The results therefore more accurately reflect the true state of support. And electoral votes are sized according to population of a state so is a more accurate indication. Not here, a state with fewer voters can have more parliamentary seats if that state is more pro-incumbent government. This is electoral engineering to favor the government in power.

Power struggle within a coalition, be it BN or PR, will always provide entertainment to the public. But at a time when the future of the nation is at stake, with more and more citizens pressing for change because of perceived corruptions among many political leaders in the BN we hope the PR is more united in facing the battle of wrestling Putrajaya from the BN government. At this time there is no clear indication who will win, and victory by either side will be slim. A slim majority will make the government unstable but many citizens are prepared for some instability in exchange for a brighter future for the next generation.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Visits to Seri Menanti

The last and only other time I visited this royal town was in the 1980s. If not for the fact that we were quite close to it from the ostrich farm we'd probably not make another visit but was glad we did as the palace has certainly spruced up the old istana (palace) and make the place a museum.

After we left the Jelita Ostrich Farm about 11.30am we drove to Seri Menanti. Throughout the drive it drizzled on and off. At one point near the Ulu Bendol Picnic Ground the traffic came to a standstill. We thought it was either due to roadworks or an accident but it was neither. The police moderated the traffic to allow a convoy of motorcyclists riding towards Seri Menanti for a special event.

When we arrived Seri Menanti it was past noon. After locating the old istana (next to the new istana) we came down for a photoshoot before proceeding to nearby Kuala Pilah for lunch. Below are some pictures of the palace and our lunch at the Kuala Pilah Rest House.

Seri Menanti Royal Town

It was raining on our drive from Seremban to Seri Menanti. Traffic slowed as we approached Ulu Bendol.

We found later it was caused by a convoy of motorcyclists also heading towards the royal town.

Welcome arch for the Yam Tuan, royal head of the state.

Entrance sign to Seri Menanti.

Plague describing history of the old palace. It was built between 1902-1908 entirely of cengal wood without the use of any metal nails.

The grandeur of the old palace.

Detailed and intricate handicraft work in gold adorning the pillars and walls of the palace.

It rained again when we left Seri Menanti for Kuala Pilah.

As it was lunchtime we found a nice restaurant at the Kuala Pilah Rest House.

We had roast chicken with pineapple and cucumber salad.

Sweet sour sliced fish fillet.

Local tofu with minced chicken meat (no pork served) and seaweed soup.

Driving along the narrow trunk road from KP to Rembau we hit a misty patch. We thought this could only happen in Genting Highlands.

We got home tired and too lazy to cook or eat out. So we ordered Domino's Pizza and enjoyed a TV dinner just my wife and I.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Another Memorable Weekend - Jelita Ostrich Farm

Yesterday will be remembered for a long time. Perhaps it will develop into a regular event of family outings. I guess the idea came from the fact that both our grandchildren are growing up and need more exposure away from the safe and familiar home environments. Grace is 5+ and Andrew 2+ and quite aware of a different world out there. As the school holiday has just started we thought it will be good to bring them out. First on our mind was Forest Research Institute of Malaysia or FRIM, in Kepong, Kuala Lumpur, which provides opportunities for families to have nature walks. We abandoned the idea due to unpredictable weather. Next we considered driving south to Yong Peng in Johor or Melaka to savor the local cuisines but gave that up too as it is more adult centred. Then we thought, how about the beach in Port Dickson? and threw it out too as the public beaches are not clean, plus the weather is not a plus factor now. Then it dawn on me that we do have a nice place nearby which the kids will love, the ostrich farm! The consensus was reached but only if it didn't rain.

Well, it did drizzled soon after we finished our late breakfast around 10am but we decide to drive to the farm because the rain doesn't appear widespread. So off we drove to the Jelita Ostrich Farm situated in Pantai, off Jalan Jelebu, some 15 km away from our home. It is our first visit and some will ask, since it is just a stone throw away, why didn't you visit earlier? Perhaps the excuse is time, or busyness. Yesterday was a good day as we were all free and the kids were excited.

Rather than write about the trip to the farm I'll let the pictures tell the story, with additional notes where needed. After the farm visit we decided to drive beyond to Seri Menanti, the royal town of Negeri Sembilan to see the old palace built without any metal nails. After that we went to Kuala Pilah for lunch before returning to Seremban via Rembau. All along the way my Garmin Nuvi 1460 GPS navigator guided us accurately to our various points of interest.

This post only cover the ostrich farm visit.

Jelita Ostrich Farm

Entrance signboard

Grace and Andrew at entrance gate

Grace and Andrew wait impatiently for the adults to come from the car

This male ostrich is only 2 years old. Its feathers are black whereas the female has grey feathers. Ostriches can live till 70-80 years, with the lifespan like humans. It recognizes 5 colors - black, red, green, yellow and golden yellow and love anything that is round shaped. Ostriches are native to South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and United States. The Jelita Farm has imported South African breed.

Observe the powerful claw which has a striking power of 1 ton that can kill the victim. Wild ostriches are dangerous especially to creatures lower in height but trained ostriches are safe to go near. Ostriches are aggressive if they are attacked, otherwise they are docile. They love to peck but the beak strength is not strong enough to hurt.

Close up view of the ostrich head. It is unable to see the camera clearly as its eyes are long-sighted. They eat as much as 5 kg food a day.

Young children can only saddle up on an ostrich (blind folded so it won't suddenly bolt off). Here Grace sat gingerly on the young male ostrich back held by a trainer.

Andrew needed to be held by his mother. Notice the blue blindfold.

This is my first time on any animal. Maybe it is preparing me for a horse ride later?

My dear wife appeared very confident when she climbed up the ostrich with little help.

Christine made it with the help of the railing next to the ostrich.

My wife: It is really easy, just grab the wings and lean back, like this. Notice she was carrying a stack of blank certificates of achievement for us to self-fill our names and dates.

After the ostrich rides we proceeded to watch the ostrich race. It is a tie between the Malaysian and the Indian jockeys.

Andrew outwalk the mother. Come on, mommy, daddy is waiting ahead.

We spotted a durian tree in season. Here are 2 lovely durians ready for harvest.

Unfortunately we can't stand on real eggs to test their resistance to break. The guide apologized that the 2 eggs used for demonstration eventually broke under the weight of an adult the day before. Here Grace held up an empty ostrich egg shell. She doesn't appear too pleased not to be holding a real egg.

Abraham the proprietor said he started the farm 14 years ago. When asked why ostrich he replied because it stands for Our Success To Riches Is Certainly Here. I guess he has found his fortune in this business from his happy smile.

The rain finally came but not before we have seen everything. We paid RM8 per adult and RM6 per child to enter the farm. There were also goats, turkeys and a horse but they were not the real attractions.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Family Holiday in Clark, Philippines

I've not been anywhere Philippines so when my daughter asked if we like to join them for a short leisurely holiday next March in Clark, Philippines, we agreed without hesitation. Not knowing the whereabout of Clark is immaterial as I trust the instinct of my daughter and her husband. They are quite used to traveling on holidays with their 2 children (matter of fact, they are right now in Bali, Indonesia) so their choice is unlikely to be wrong. The air tickets were bought a few months ago under Air Asia promotion (seems like for airlines to do well they must have regular sales and AA is a market leader in this trend) for 4 adults and 2 children. Thinking that I will be just a passive member in the group with my daughter and son-in-law deciding where to stay, where to sightsee and where to eat, I was thrown the challenge to think about these things. I know my daughter wants to pick my skills in planning. In all our family holidays before I was the Chief Planner so I am not allowed to retire from this role. With 'authority' given I proceeded to do the first thing, look for a suitable hotel to stay for 3 nights in Clark (we decided against staying in Manila some 80km away as our focus is leisure).

Putting on my thinking cap I started my search yesterday afternoon with a vigor of someone many years younger. Knowing next to nothing about Clark, where do I start? My instinct tells me, read and study the map. On this I really thank Google. Then I used online hotel booking sites like Booking, Agoda, Hotels and Tripadvisor, as well as some of the hotels own websites to analyze reviews, room types, facilities and of course, rates. I was concerned that we had bought tickets to travel in March, a popular holiday season, and of those hotels I selected some are sold out. Fortunately I approached one hotel which offered me a luxury suite with 3 rooms that fit our requirements. Best of all the hotel is recently opened and received good to excellent guest reviews. Even better the tariff for the suite is really good. After several emails with the hotel reservation desk I finally made the choice which I think my grandchildren should love as there is an outdoor pool that our suite overlooks.

The next challenge is building an itinerary that will make this family holiday memorable. I hope I won't disappoint.

Update: Due to clash with my grand daughter's school examination the above holiday is regrettably cancelled. Perhaps a better family holiday will materialize later.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Deepavali Gathering - Show of Multiracialism

Race harmony cannot be enforced. It comes naturally when the different communities are comfortable with each other without the nagging fear of each other. Over 30 years ago this was the case. However relationship started deteriorating when the government instituted policies and practices as well as preached propaganda that sowed seeds of distrust. Many are affected but others remain positive to the goodness of human kindness and the sharing of each others celebrations. The Deepavali celebration yesterday at my brother-in-law's sister's house exemplify the racial unity that still exist in Malaysia in spite of the negative impressions we read in the media.

One really wonder is there a need for this 1Malaysia thingy. It is an admission that race relations had been mismanaged the past 30 years that we are reminded that a glue is needed to patch the various races up. But what I experienced yesterday is proof we don't need this 'glue'. Open house is an authentic Malaysian culture.

My bro-in-law is Indian Hindu and every year it is the tradition of his family to invite relatives and friends to the home of one of their siblings where their 83 year old mother (she was Chinese adopted into a Hindu family) stays. So when we arrived at noon I found myself among a very multiracial group. There were Indian Hindus, Indian Christian, Chinese Buddhists, Chinese Christians and Malay Muslims. We had a common meal that is pork free and those who drank beer and whiskey consumed away from our Muslim guests without offending them. The time spent was filled with gaiety and jabbing each other. We were among friends. One of them, an American Indian Hindu marveled at the ease we converse on various topics. He is thinking of migrating here. There was an Australian lady in our midst too. The gathering yesterday can be considered an international event based on the makeup of those present.

The only disturbance was the sudden downpour around 2pm but then most of the guests had already eaten off the banquet tables laid our in the driveway. We left shortly and look forward to the next party in 2013. Sandakan anyone?

Monday, November 12, 2012

A Wedding Weekend

My wife and I with grand daughter Grace made it to the wedding of our niece to Brian Lim, an affable guy with an every ready grim and lovable personality whom my mother took to great liking the first time he went visiting. It was 'Ah Maaaa' that melted her heart and at that time he wasn't even married to Shermayne (we're more familiar with May Leen) yet. Used to seeing him in casual shorts, last Saturday he was impeccable in his groom suit and perked up hair and zipped grim as he came punctually at 11.30 to the bride's home for the traditional Chinese tea serving ceremony. Nothing elaborate the affair was just to symbolize the welcome in of a new member of the Tan family.

The wedding dinner was held at the Marina Seafood Restaurant in the Straits View Hotel along Jalan Skudai, Johore Baru. It consisted of 36 tables. We were honored to be at the VIP table. There was a little mix up because the restaurant hosted another wedding dinner in the adjacent hall and some guests wandered into the wrong room and had to be gently ushered out. By and large the dinner program proceed smoothly with songs by guest singers from the hosts church. The air is gay and the mood joyous. The food is B+ and the guests well behaved. Lots of yam seng and photoshooting and after the dinner ended groom treated us to a display of Gangnam Style dance. Great talent. Unfortunately I wasn't able to record it on my dead camera. But you can view a sample of the event photos here.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

An Embarrassing Scheme

The AES or Automated Enforcement System has now turned into an embarrassing scheme for the government, in particular the transport minister who is now asked to suspend it or RESIGN. Opposition run state Penang has already decided to defer implementation of the system which is a federal project but requiring state cooperation and NOW another Opposition run state, Selangor, has decided to suspend it claiming it is unlawful. It now appear the proponent of AES has waddled into deep shit, or as some will say, the shit has hit the fan. With protests coming from within several factions of the ruling federal government it now appear the AES must be shelved temporarily until the heat dies out, if it can since most Malaysians own cars (we are quite prosperous based on vehicle ownership statistics) and being caught speeding at one time or another is no longer a confession too embarrassing to admit. The main contention is that pre-AES if the police personally issues you the summons you can use your persuasive skills to negotiate a settlement on the spot or alternatively look forward to a discount at the payment counter of any police station. Post-AES the cameras has the last word and without any involvement of any police on the ground you are defenseless and have to meekly fork out the fine, now fixed at RM300 which is non-negotiable. No wonder many of us are upset, some even furious. However the argument is not against speed trapping by any means but rather turning it into a business that profit private companies given the contracts to operate the system. This will make speed trapping lucrative.

Did the government ever obtain public feedbacks like it never did for the Lynas case? No. In case you are wondering, Lynas is a multi-billion dollar Australian mining operation given license to process radioactive earth in Gebeng situated in the prime minister's home state of Pahang. Does that raise any suspicion? It was supposed to begin operation in June but the local courts have blocked it because of protests from concerned citizens that dust and water pollutions will create health hazards through the years. In spite of assurance that the waste will not be harmful, or that they will be shipped out or buried, the question that was asked again and again is, why did we allow this gigantic operation on our land that was rejected by even its own government ? Therefore there must be some truth that it is somewhat hazardous. If Australians are smart enough to turn it down why is the Malaysian government stupid enough to license it, unless, unless some compromise has been made.

AES will go the way of Lynas and will become Another Expensive Scandal.

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Friendship Lunch 3

Yesterday I attended my third friendship lunch with a group of friends and acquaintances from my hometown of Sitiawan in Perak. My first was in July 2010 followed by the second in January this year (most of the attendees couldn't make it for the 2011 year end meet up). Thanks to the organizer Cho Hee 16 of us responded to meet at Restoran Taman Rashna in Klang, Selangor. This is the same venue as the Sitiawan Nite held on August 20, 2011 and thanks to SK Wong who chose the 7 dishes in consultation with the restaurant's manager, Patrick Chan, we thoroughly enjoyed the dishes. We asked Patrick for the menu. One of the friends took pictures of the individual dishes which will be posted later in a Facebook account to be created especially for these functions. For now this post carry no pictures of the event. The restaurant has sufficient parking bays for a large function. Each one of us paid just RM43 being our share towards the sumptuous lunch. Many of us have suggested our next get together to be here as well.

Restaurant contact no. is +603 3344 9115 or 3344 8260. Patrick can be reached at +6012 319 8163.

Monday, November 05, 2012

My thoughts on Pinterest

I've been on Pinterest for 10 days and, oh, what and interesting journey it has been. Let me say this from the onset: I find Pinterest highly compatible with my nature.

When I started out I decided it will be a project much like this blog is, an effort to organize my pictorial thoughts board by board and then filling each board with pins I create (hopefully some are interesting enough to get repinned), pins of what I like or love, pins of significant current events, pins off my ipad camera, and most of all (as well as the easiest but most addictive part which also made this app insanely popular) repin from other user sites.

I wasn't sure about following others or being followed but became aware that following makes you a follower but being followed makes you a leader or popular. Secretly I want my site to have more followers and to follow less sites. If I follow indiscriminately I'll be finding all kinds of pins appearing in my 'live' following list that make it harder to sieve to find new and interesting pins to collect and repin.

This is my mission: to post great pins with good stories to tell. I believe I should have well organized boards with clearly defined contents that are interesting. And into each of these boards I store only pins that matter to me, pins that are of good resolution, exciting, informative, appealing, thoughtful and reflect who I am. It is after all my pin interest. At this point I am truly excited. I think I've plateau'd off with 26 boards. I think that's more than enough. I shouldn't appear to be more interesting than I really am or create them to impress. Absolutely that is not my mission. I want fellow pinners to appreciate the efforts I put into to build boards that tell good stories. Some will be slow moving, others like 'Food and Drinks Galore' can grow real fast. I realize many pinners adore food and while I cannot eat most of them just looking at them satiates my appetite and makes me feel good. I have a board on Anything Chinese. I am proud to be a Chinese and am doing this to showcase what a rich culture we have.

I think I've discovered a new love. This blog started in 2008 has kept my mind active. It has challenged me to keep posting my ideas and reflections and will continue to occupy my days. Serious blogging require thinking and planning as well as drafting before publishing. Many a time posts remain in draft form because they are not ready or good enough to be published. And after some time they get deleted.

Pinterest is an easier project which explains why it is getting millions of users. There is even a prediction that it will one day overtake Facebook. Why not? Pinterest doesn't have privacy issues unless you choose to post personal pictures and provide personal information. Just remember when these pins get repinned so goes the information as well. Most importantly Pinterest doesn't require writing skills. It is after all a picture sharing app that is real time. And I see lots of professional businesses are promoting their services here too and their pictures get repinned alot.

The negative issue is that if you love Pinterest too much you can get soooo addictive that you won't get off. You may even treat it as a competition to max your pins to get more and more followers. I think Pinterest wasn't created for that. Serious Pinterest users should regulate their time on it and watch it make new friends sharing similar interests.

Please check my Pinterest link on the right panel. It is a great way to pass time, especially if you are retired like me.

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Doors and Windows

A friend said this:

Ever walk into a room with some purpose in mind, only to completely forget what that purpose was? Turns out, doors themselves are to blame for these strange memory lapses.

Psychologists at the University of Notre Dame have discovered that passing through a doorway triggers what's known as an event boundary in the mind, separating one set of thoughts and memories from the next. Your brain files away the thoughts you had in the previous room and prepares a blank slate for the new locale.

It's not aging, it's the door! Whew! Thank goodness for studies.

It is an interesting research and conclusion that subconsciously we let doors frame our mental journeys in buildings. But I think the observation is oversimplified. We don't really file away memories of the immediate previous locale and enter the next totally blank. Instead I believe our brains seamlessly link our thoughts by erasing the memory cache and filling it with new ones, except that it may not fill it fast enough and create an under-buffering effect so we stop and wonder, what am I going to do next? Unless we have wandered aimlessly into a room we usually know what we enter it for as each room has a functional purpose. We enter a bathroom primarily to use the toilet, to bath or to brush our teeth, so they make our choices more focussed except if we go for other reasons, such as to replace an empty toilet roll, get a bucket or wash our feet, then it is possible we get lost in our mental maze.

While doors are for demarking borders and providing territorial rights and privacy windows are built for ventilation and opening the world that the door closes. They are more interesting than doors. It is no wonder people choose rooms or seats with a good window view. We escape into a room through its door but escape out in an emergency through its window.

Windows help us reflect and feel our souls. They are the eyes of our rooms into the outside world. Would you rather be a door or a window?

Friday, November 02, 2012

Getting Rich Through Law Enforcement

The Automated Enforcement System or AES was recently introduced, or rather enforced, in stages over an 18 months period from deployment date on 831 'accident-prone' spots along federal highways and trunk roads using high resolution 11 Megapixels Infra Red enabled cameras to record still images of speeding vehicles day and night. Use of speed traps has been a common feature on the roads and the drivers are aware of the danger of being caught and issued summonses for the traffic violation. What was ethically wrong was that catching violators is now a lucrative business to the contractors awarded the licence by the government to manage this function and earn a cut for their efforts. The AES is a form of entrapment. Each summonse cost the offender RM300 and there will be no discounts like in the past. In fact it is likely that over the years the fine will be gradually increased much like the road toll levied by highway operators. Speed cameras are no longer a deterrent to speed violation but used to bring more violation to book. From the business angle, the more the contractors catches the more profit they can earn and this make the AES implementation highly immoral and subject to abuse by the authorities. Drivers, or rather registered owners of the vehicles filmed have no way to appeal as the digital evidence is final. The only dispute is the accuracy of the speed measured. Even then it is impossible to prove that the speed recorded by the camera was adjusted or that the speedometer of the vehicle is more accurate. The owners are at the mercy of the new law enforcement.

I myself have seen such a camera along the highway and became very very wary to stay within the posted speed limit, based on what my car's speedometer displayed. And when I have my GPS navigator on I get confused because these devices display different speeds, sometimes with difference as high as 10kph. Which is more accurate? And there is no assurance that even if you stick to the speed limit you won't be caught, if another vehicle alongside yours has sped from behind and caught up with yours at the moment the camera flash and capture both vehicles. Also, previously the traffic police gave an allowance of 10% due to calibration error and low accuracy/sensitivity of the laser guns used, so a motorist can drive up to 120kph in a 110kph speed limit zone and feel safe. However this no longer apply now. Along straight stretches of the highways it is safe to drive at 120kph and the authorities should allow that instead of restricting the drivers.

One area of deep concern is the fixing of 7 different speed limits for the 831 spots tracked. Check out this site. Can you imagine speed limits of 50, 60, 70, 80, 90, 100 and 110kph on highways in Malaysia? It is absolutely crazy and definitely subject to abuse to trap motorists.

It is crazy that speed limits of as low as 50kph - 60kph are used along highways when it is an established understanding that there are just 2 limits, 90kph and 110kph commonly followed. It is inconceivable that highways speed is throttled that slow unless we are to believe it is again to entrap the drivers who may be unaware. Driving at such low speeds on highways are insanely dangerous. Instead of reducing high speed related accidents we may see slow speed related accidents henceforth. Obviously the authorities are less interested in managing accident reduction but more interested in increasing the collection of fines.

The below explanation gives a clearer understanding of our predicament, as well as anger over the manner the AES is privatized to political cronies. According to the wikipedia site HERE, the concessionaires will be making millions from the fines collected. AES is seen as a political tool of the incumbent government to victimize the motoring public. The transport minister gave a lame excuse HERE why the contract was privatized. Neither has the 2 concessionaires have the technical expertise to install and manage the cameras, but if the AES is run by the road transport department all the money collected from fines will be used to improve road safety instead of partially profiteered by businessmen.

And interesting analysis is found HERE.

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Can anything beat Hurricane Sandy?

America is reeling from the Sandy disaster. Major business centers in New York and New Jersey struck down a few days ago by Hurricane Sandy are still struggling to restore electricity, telephone and water supplies and the subways are still closed to vehicular and rail traffic, crippling downtown New York and its vicinity. Even as the airports are being cleared of the floodwater on the runways, homes and roads that are destroyed will begin a slow and painful process of rebuilding and repairs which will cost billions of dollars. America is looking for leadership and with the presidential election just a week away it is a test of resolve and crisis management skills of whoever that take the seat in the Oval Office from next year. America is indeed in a crisis but is Sandy the worst that this great nation is going to face? Or is there another major catastrophe awaiting its turn? If so, when will it happen? Will the affected nations get sufficient warning to flee? Can the death casualties be minimized?

THIS is the tsunami on the Boxing Day of 2004 that caught the world totally unaware. Please watch the video clips. Some 230,000 residents in Indonesia's island of Sumatra, in particular the northern state of Acheh, perished unwarned and unprepared. After this major calamity, as the world came to its senses, scientists began to worry that a mega tsunami is in the making. The Indonesian tsunami wasn't the first and it certainly won't be the last. Question is when will the next biggie strikes and how much damage it will cause and whether it will destroy part of human civilization. THIS report gives a grim picture of what can happen. This time the affected nation will not be Indonesia or Thailand or Sri Lanka but the United States, more specially the eastern coastline of the United States stretching from New York down to Miami. Scientists predicted that the speed and the waves that punch the shores will drive the seawater 20 kilometers (12.4 miles) inland and destroying everything in its path. This is doomsday and scary.

So that you know where the tsunami will generate from, the La Palma island of the Canary Islands off the west coast of Africa, here are 2 screenshots of the Google maps.


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