Saturday, 19 August 2017
I'm a firm believer of using the uninterruptible power supplies to connect up the sensitive computer equipment and electronic devices in the house for fear of having them fried during violent thunderstorms or sudden power blackouts. However, it still surprised me to discover that I have not one but three UPS units lying around. Just very recently, I was forced to replace the rechargeable batteries inside these UPS units as one by one, they decided to give up their ghosts. One by one over a period of several weeks, their alarms began sounding off, indicating the end of their battery life. I had no choice but to replace them. Now I'm left with the question of disposing these old batteries. Where can I go to dispose them off? I can't simply chuck them away in the rubbish bin.
Friday, 18 August 2017
The Kalama Sutra, as taught by the Buddha.
Over a period of about three weeks, I had been posting these messages every few days on my facebook page and I must say that they did strike a chord and went down well with many of my friends. Actually, my opinion is that these are all very down-to-earth lessons from the Buddha, advice that are equally applicable to everyone from all walks of life. People should not look at them solely from the religious point-of-view.
Friday, 4 August 2017
Last week, I saw an old facebook story by one of my friends in Singapore. I don't know where he got his information from but I felt that it was too important not to reproduce it here. Worthwhile stories on facebook tend to get buried through time but at least on blogs such as mine, you can still dig them out. Here it is, saved for perpetuity:
The Famous ABDULLA 37. Apparently, Singapore and Penang used to have two famous ladies of the night named after this cigarette brand. One plied her trade in Keong Saik Street in Singapore, the other along Chulia Street in Penang. Met a former mamasan who knew the Abdulla 37 lady of Penang. She was reportedly about 18 years old in the Sixties, much prettier than the famous Rose Chan and used to ride in a trishaw, the trishawman being the pimp who will be her bodyguard as well if the client misbehaved. The Abdulla 37 in Singapore was rumoured to have married and gone off to Penang to live whereas there is no word about the one in Penang except that unfortunately, she died of cancer. Wonder if they were one and the same lady? The cigarettes would be packed in gold leaf and the unfiltered brand of cigarettes in those days was Capstan.Thanks, Stephen, for poking your nose where it's not supposed to be!
Sunday, 30 July 2017
The Swee Cheok Tong (瑞鵲堂) was invited to attend the 25th anniversary dinner of the Youth Section of the Chay Yeong Tong Sin Quah Chuah Chong Soo (济阳堂辛柯蔡宗祠) last night. My apprehension in attending such dinner functions was somewhat tempered when I learnt that my vice-president would also be seated at the same VIP table as me. Well, not the VVIP table - that would be left to the officer-bearers of the Sin Quah Chuah main committee - but still considered important enough to be seated with the representatives of other Chinese associations from around the country.
What I didn't expect was to be invited up on the stage to participate in a drum session. They had to call my name for me to realise that I would be required to be present together with a host of other "drummers." Oh well.... Anyway, the appreciation gift will be kept at the Swee Cheok Tong later when we have one of our committee meetings.
Tuesday, 25 July 2017
By some good luck I laid my hands on a replacement copy of this same 45rpm record more than four years ago when the family of a late friend gave me the latter's record collection to me after he died. I didn't notice the record's presence until several months had passed when I finally sat down to go through my new treasure chest. Hey, here was the record again and this copy was intact.
Monday, 17 July 2017
Of all the rules at Wimbledon – and there are many – surely none is more outdated than one referring to players’ clothing. Not the part that insists they should wear “almost entirely white” attire, something players do not mind. But rather the one that refers to the colour of their underwear and how visible it is during play. First Venus Williams was asked to change her pink bra in a first-round match, which drew a suitably clipped response to a media inquiry: “I don’t like talking about bras in press conferences. It’s weird.” On Wednesday, four junior doubles players were asked to change their underwear because it could be seen under their white shorts, and on Thursday the 18‑year‑old Austrian Jurij Rodionov was asked by a supervisor to show her his underwear. “Yesterday I wore black pants and nobody said anything and today I wore blue and suddenly it’s a problem,” he said. “It was a big surprise for me.” Rodionov said Wimbledon provided him with two white pairs. “One was a little bit too big but these ones were OK,” he said. Asked if the rule was outdated, he said: “Wimbledon is always special. Maybe it’s a little bit too much but I like that the players only have to wear white. It’s tradition.”There seemed to be an interesting thread about this dress code thingy, especially when it concerned Wimbledon officials demanding players to show them the top of their underwear in order to verify the colour, like in this story:
Junior player told to change underwear after falling foul of rulesOf course, this news report did not go unnoticed and it prompted a reader to make a little wisecrack (sic) of his own in the newspaper itself:
A junior player at Wimbledon was made to lower part of his shorts to reveal the colour of his underwear on Thursday as part of a crackdown on non-regulation clothing. Play was delayed for at least 10 minutes when Austrian junior Jurij Rodionov was ordered off court to change his non-white underwear because it contravened Wimbledon’s strict dress code. In a bizarre scene, the 18-year-old had to pull down his shorts a little at the request of a female official so a call could be made. After the game, he said it was a “big surprise” as he had worn the same dark underwear in his first game and they had gone unnoticed.
Hopefully, this will be the start of something fresh at the Swee Cheok Tong (Quah Kongsi): an annual fun get-together for the members apart from the more staid annual dinners or committee meetings. On Sunday, I had arranged for the committee and their family members to go for a durian eating session in Relau on the south-eastern part of the island. Although we have 16 committee members in total, only seven responded to the outing. Two others pulled out eventually at the last minute, leaving only five members. Still, I managed to round up 10 people who, together with our host, then sat down for lunch before we opened the fruit. Everybody did enjoy themselves and I would want to get this group together again next year, hopefully with a better response.
Sunday, 16 July 2017
I remember that in my late teenaged years - I could have been in Upper Six at school - I had borrowed this record, For Ladies Only, from a record shop in Campbell Street (Wing Hing Records, to give the shop its name). Steppenwolf was a Canadian band and some of their well-known songs had included Born to be Wild and Magic Carpet Ride. As I was familiar with those tunes, I had brought home the record with some anticipation. Imagine my surprise when I opened the gatefold - in those years, albums were all plastic-wrapped until bought - to find a picture of a car along Hollywood's Walk of Fame.
Unfortunately, I had to return the disc to the shop after a few days because after all, it was borrowed. It was not until decades later when I went back to listening records that I managed to track down the album from a second-hand store. Such was the deep impression that the inner gatefold cover had given me! Although the cover wasn't in tip-top shape, the record itself was still in decent condition. Dusty but nothing like a good cleaning could remove but most importantly, no scratches and very little pops and crackles.
Side One: For ladies only, Sparkle eyes, Shackles and chains, Tenderness
Side Two: The night time's for you, Jaded strumpet, I'm asking, Black pit, Ride with me, In hopes of a garden
Saturday, 15 July 2017
I can't remember when was the last time that I had went to the Friday pasar malam in my neighbourhood but after all these years of absence, we went there yesterday and were surprised by the wide variety of street food available. The stalls would start appearing at Cangkat Damai in Bukit Mertajam as early as five o'clock and in my opinion, the best time to go the pasar malam would be around 7pm when the road is not so packed.
The pasar malam is not only about food. There are traders selling all sorts of household and other stuff, but what I'm going to show here are just the street food vendors
The food must be pretty good to have so many people waiting patiently so early in the evening.
Taiwanese burger, according to this hawker's signboard
One of three stalls selling koay kak
This Pak Cik sells the ever-popular Malay version of pan cham koay
More fruits on sale. The going price for the chempedak was RM10 per kilo which was immensely exorbitant considering that at the market last year, I could buy the Chempedak Champion for RM7 per kilo.
The Malay lekor, which is more popular on the east coast rather than here.
Care for Vietnamese popiah?
Now, this is something that's very rarely seen. Marinated pork wrapped in a thin layer of pork fat.
Of course, there must be the kampong durian
Uhmm...I wouldn't know what to call these fried stuff but the ones in the foreground are yam balls.
Sunday, 9 July 2017
Historically, The Three Degrees have been around since 1963. However, they only broke into the big time with their album on the Philadelphia International Records label. In Malaysia, this record was distributed by CBS Sony and thus, it sported the well-known black walking eye logo of Columbia Records.
Although the cover art of the album showed an innocuous picture of the three girls of the popular band, within the gatefold cover was a very racy picture of the trio in body-hugging translucent material. Since the album was all plastic wrapped at the record shop, I had no idea of what was inside. You can just imagine the reaction when any purchaser of this album tore away at the plastic wrap to reveal the concealed picture. As for me, I was more delighted than shocked.
Side One: Dirty ol' man, Can't you see what you're doing to me, A woman needs a good man, When will I see you again
Side Two: I didn't know, I like being a woman, If and when, Year of decision
Sunday, 2 July 2017
MFSB was one of my favourite group of musicians. This was the orchestra that backed many artistes from the Philadelphia International label. If I remember correctly, I have some four or five of their own albums. In particular, I've owned this double-LP album for such a long while. I think that it was in the late 1980s that I first saw it in a record shop at KOMTAR here in George Town. I had a cassette tape made of the songs but eventually, I ended up buying the record itself. I've also a compact disk of the same album which I hunted down through amazon.com years later.
Anyway, I brought this album out from my cupboard this afternoon. Gave it a quick look-over, saw and thought that the record surfaces were still clean enough for the turntable and thus, decided to give it a spin. Bad decision. The moment the stylus touched the spinning surface, all the pops, hisses and crackles came through in all their loudness. No way could I enjoy the music with all the distraction.
The only solution was to clean the records to remove all the dirt that was the cause of all the surface noise. But I also knew that there was no guarantee that I would succeed totally. Still, no harm in trying. So that was what I did: I subjected the records to my time-tested method of cleaning them, a video of which I uploaded to youtube about seven years ago and had attracted some 49,645 views to date and several comments from people who were more obsessed with my bare feet than my record-cleaning technique.
Anyway, I did manage to dislodge a layer of brown gunk from the records. But after the gunk was removed, I must say that all the noise has also disappeared. Not only was the surface completely restored to black and shiny, the record looked like new. An almost mint condition. Wonderful stuff, my do-it-myself manual record cleaner.
Side A: Love is the message (MFSB), TSOP (The sound of Philadelphia) (MFSB, featuring The Three Degrees)
Side B: Dirty ol' man (The Three Degrees), I love music (The O'Jays)
Side C: Don't leave me this way (Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes), Love train (The O'Jays)
Side D: I'll always love my mama (Intruders), Bad luck (Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes)
Wednesday, 28 June 2017
Monday, 19 June 2017
To me, there is one important variable in the preparation of half-boiled eggs, that is, the size or weight of the egg. The normal average free-range egg that I use would weigh 55 grams. The other factors in the preparation would be 400 milli-litres of water, a lidded metal container small enough for the water to cover two eggs completely and an insulation mat. That's it!
First, start by boiling the water. Place two eggs in the metal container and pour all 400 ml of boiling water so that it covers the eggs completely. Make sure the lid is closed and the container placed on an insulating mat to prevent the heat from escaping too fast from the container's base. Set your timer to nine minutes. [Note: The timer is variable too. Eggs heavier than 60 grams may require 10 minutes while smaller eggs may need only eight minutes.] When the timer goes off, remove the eggs and rinse them under tap water. Ta-dah....two perfect half-boiled eggs!
This is How to get a perfect set of Tenderly cooked Half / Partially Cooked Twin Eggs.
1. Take a 300 / 400 ml vessel preferably a stainless steel Koleh or mug, which comes with a Cap or cover.
2. Put 2 Medium Size eggs into the koleh. Eggs comes in Premium Size which are bigger and more costly. Medium Size eggs are of in between & of average cost. Small eggs are the smallest, you can find and it has the most Economic price.
3. Boil 2 litres of water, using the electric kettle, Phillips or other brands. Immediately pour, boiling water at 100 degrees spreading all over the eggs in the koleh vessel. Ensure that the eggs are covered over with boiling water. Put the cap or cover onto the koleh / vessel. Set time for 4 minutes. In the meantime, get a porcelain cup. Put one sachet of kopi Orr with or without sugar. Pour boiling water into the cup. Let it stand for 3 minutes. Take 2 slices of whole meal or plain bread and put it to roast in the Toaster for 2 minutes. Prepare your choice of butter and Marmalade or Strawberry jam or if your prefer local Kaya jam.
4. After 4 minutes, drain away the boiling water in the Koleh. Run fresh water into the koleh with the two eggs. Dispose the cold Tap water use for cooling the shell of the eggs.
5. In a Saucer or small bowl, crack one egg at a time into the saucer after draining the cold tap water from the Koleh. Use a small Teaspoon to scrape any white of eggs stuck to the shell. Do the same with other eggs. Shake some pepper sparingly and Light Soya Sauce for taste. 1 teaspoon is sufficient. Your Kopi Orr is now ready. Just dispose of the coffee bag into the Trash bin. Your two slices of Toast is also ready. You two half boiled egg is done to perfection; two Golden Balls of Yolk and a puddle of egg White to accompany it with a dash of Pepper and Light Soya Sauce for finesse!
Take a photo of your Best Creation! Bon Appetite!
Friday, 16 June 2017
Who was the real Tang pilgrim monk, Hsuan Tsang (玄奘)? The man was real and his odyssey was real, but all that we have ever known about him is from the book, Journey to the West (西遊記), a 16th century fantasy novel attributed to Wu Cheng'en and first translated into English by Arthur Waley in 1942 (Monkey: A Folk Tale of China) and much later by Anthony C. Yu in 1977-1983 (The Journey to the West), and numerous movie adaptations of the story, of which the most memorable films emerged from the Shaw Brothers studios of Hong Kong between 1966 and 1968. These movie adaptations, however, gave full rein to the directors' imaginations of magic skills as the protagonists battled spirits and demons all the way to the West.
If you had expected the film to follow in the footsteps of all previous Journey to the West (西遊記) films where the Tang monk is protected against mythological demons by the divine powers of Sun Wukong (孫悟空), Zhu Bajie (豬八戒) and Sha Wujing (沙悟淨), you will be greatly disappointed. Xuan Zang is a slow-moving film and the historical main character, Hsuan Tsang, lived and died in China between 602 AD and 664 AD, except for his 16-year journey to India. That he succeeded against all the odds showed his great perseverance, self-belief and faith.
During his outward journey that began in 629 AD, he was hindered in his travel by a decree from the Tang Emperor Taizong (唐太宗) that forbade travel outside of China. Although he managed to evade capture, there were also other hardships along the way as he had to avoid bandits and cross physical terrains such as the Taklamakan desert (塔克拉瑪幹沙漠) and the Flaming Mountains (Huoyanshan 火焰山) of Turfan (吐魯番). In Turfan, the King refused to let the monk leave and only agreed when he went on a hunger strike. In his travel, he documented a visit to Bamyan in modern-day Afghanistan where he marvelled at the large Buddha statues of Bamiyan, now destroyed by the Talibans in March 2001.
Hsuan Tsang considered that he had arrived in India in 630 AD and he continued travelling and learning about Buddhism in the Indian sub-continent until circa 643 AD when he resolved to go home. The Tang Emperor had learnt of the monk's adventure and he sent a delegation to meet with Hsuan Tsang halfway on his homeward journey. The group arrived back in Chang'an in 645 AD.
Hsuan Tsang was fêted with great honour and he spent the remaining years of his life - he died in 664 AD - in translating the Buddhist texts from Pali to Chinese. Ironically I read that much later, the Chinese translations were re-translated back into Pali to fill a void after the original Pali texts were either lost or destroyed. Hsuan Tsang was also credited for participating in an 18-day religious debate on Buddhism whilst in India. In 646 AD, at the request of the Emperor, he completed his book Great Tang Records on the Western Regions (大唐西域記) which is today a primary source of information on medieval Central Asia and India.
Surprisingly, all this known stories were included into Xuan Zang, the film version of Hsuan Tsang's Indian pilgrimage, with very little embellishments. The film producers had followed the story quite closely to the accepted text. Except for one part where the monk's horse saved him from certain death from thirst, there was nothing magical at all about Hsuan Tsang. No Sun Wukong, no pantheon of Chinese deities, no bounding over clouds, no demon or spirit wanting to capture the holy man, no magic fan, no mountains in flame, just a determined pious man walking, walking, walking and overcoming obstacles like soldiers, robbers, the heat of the deserts and the cold of the mountains, to realise his destination and ultimate destiny.
Thursday, 15 June 2017
In trying to set the record straight, he explained: “One of them asked me, after a faultless performance, about why I didn’t say ‘businesswomen’. I told them the genus is a man, as in mankind, and so women are a special sort of a man. What’s wrong with that?
“It is madam chairman. It is not madam chairwoman. When we talk about the ascent of man, it’s not the ascent of a bunch of hairy blokes with male genitalia, it’s about man as in women, men, the whole lot of us. Look at the word. The long and short of it is that a woman is a man with a womb.
“I said a woman is a special sort of a man. They are. They are a man that can produce children… But I am a feminist to my bootstraps, I believe in equal rights for women and I always have done, but I also believe women should have the same responsibilities as men."
The full story here.
Wednesday, 14 June 2017
The Swee Cheok Tong (瑞鵲堂) have had this safe in our premises for....goodness knows how long. It had been sitting pretty in an unobtrusive part of the building, minding its own business just like we, the committee members, have been minding ours. But lately, it had become imperative for us to know what was inside the safe. What sort of secrets was it holding that may affect the running of the Quah Kongsi?
It would have been a simple matter of unlocking the safe door to find out but for one problem. Nobody knew where the all-important key had gone to. Nobody could tell who was the last person to hold the key or who had last opened the safe. All our attempts to locate the key had failed, meaning that we had no other choice but to call in a safe cracker. Or perhaps, a master locksmith would have been a more polite description.
First thing on Saturday, the locksmith came again. Raring to start afresh, he fashioned out another makeshift key. Poked it into the keyhole. Thud, there was a sound as if the lock had been disengaged. He tried turning the safe's handle. It stayed steadfastly engaged. It didn't turn. He tried a few times and then removed his key. He continued muttering softly to himself, then he filed down some of the teeth and tried again. Thud, that sound again. But no, the handle still couldn't move. Back to the drawing board again.
After about another two hours, I grew tired of watching him work. I retired to another part of the premises in order to check my mobile. Suddenly, I heard a different kind of sound. Piak! Almost immediately, the locksmith called out to me. The door's opened, he said. I leapt up immediately and rushed back. With some hesitation, I pulled open the door. The moment of truth. It was heavy but it slid open effortlessly. There, within the safe, were stacked documents in several old envelopes. Some books too. And an aluminium box, filled with more documents. There were two drawers inside the safe but they were empty.
At about the same time, my treasurer came back. So we went through the stuff in the safe as the locksmith began dismantling the lock. We would want a new set of keys since the old ones can now be safely treated as lost.
So what was inside the safe? To our disbelieve, old fire insurance policies. Old property assessment receipts. Old book-keeping ledgers. The documents dated back a very long time, some to the 1920s and 1930s, but the latest were dated in the 1970s. Which means to say that the last time that the safe was possibly opened was in the mid-1970s. But why on earth did the old committee keep all that old stuff? Were they that all-important? What was the purpose?The mind boggled.
I think in the next few weeks, we should get down to the task of deciding whether or not any of these old documents are worth retaining. Personally, I doubt there will be much to keep...
Tuesday, 13 June 2017
This used to be called the Monkey Garden but since there were no monkeys to be seen, the archway proclaiming it has been dismantled quite some time ago. What's left now is a simple cement boardwalk that weaves out about 100 metres into the sea. In the late evenings, the mangrove trees cast very forlorn shadows on the surroundings.
We walked here, just a stone's throw from the Tua Pek Kong temple in Sitiawan, and were in time to view a fiery sunset at about seven o'clock. Question: are the mangrove trees lining both sides of the boardwalk here dead or alive? In my opinion, they looked more dead than alive. The ones beyond were much healthier, though.
Monday, 12 June 2017
We were lucky to have caught the 4.15pm ferry from Pangkor as we landed back at the Lumut ferry terminal just before five o'clock. With still some hours to go before evening, we decided to visit the Tua Pek Kong temple complex to the south of Sitiawan town, a journey of about half an hour.
Turning the corner into the temple's car park, the grand scene before us practically took our breaths away. Yes, I had seen a picture of the giant statues that stood outside the temple but I never expected that in real life, the whole place was so immensely huge. "Wahh....so big, ah!" exclaimed my friend.
We wandered off in different directions. The centre piece was the Tua Pek Kong deity, sitting serenely and staring off into the distance, which in this case, was the Straits of Malacca, flanked on both sides by other statues, prominent among them were Kuan Yin on the left and Ma Chor Poh on the right. Interestingly, one of the statues depicted a tiger and I was told that this statue represented the White Tiger of the West or the Hor Yah which is worshiped during the Chinese New Year festivities in Chinese temples all over the country.
The Journey to the West by the Buddhist monk, Hsuan Tsang, and his three guardian disciples - Monkey, Pig and Sandy - depicted in stone
A huge fountain in the foreground with nine dragons aiming their jets of water towards a central round ball.
To the left of the grounds rose a newly completed seven-tier pagoda, the first three levels of which were filled with hundreds of small statuettes of Tua Pek Kong, Kuan Yin and Gautama Buddha. Devotees could have their names placed below an image with a donation of RM2,000. We climbed up to the top tier of the pagoda - a total of 134 steps - and found preparation work still in progress. We looked out the windows. Airy. And the scenery from the top tiers, looking out to the sea and the mangrove swamp in the distance, was fabulous.
Don't ask why the statue has its eyes closed with a red sash. Most probably, the time hadn't arrived for it to be properly activated. There were several statues with similar red sashes across their eyes.
Climbing down, we then went into the old, traditional Tua Pek Kong temple building. This temple is not recent. It has existed for at least some 100 years already. It used to be very ordinary and modest, but some devotees must have struck it rich and made ample donations that had allowed the temple to expand into this complexity.
Behind the temple was yet another vast area worth exploring. A fish pond filled with countless numbers of carp. A statue of Jiang Ziya (姜子牙) sat prominently at one end of the pond with a hookless fishing rod in his hands. For the connection between Jiang Ziya and the origins of the Quah (Ke) (柯) surname, read it here. At the other end of the pond were statues representing the eight immortals (八仙) waiting to cross the sea. And somewhere in the middle of the pond, two cheeky statues of boys peeing an endless stream of water into the pool.
Moving on, we came across a long, colourful dragon hallway of about 100 metres. One enters through the mouth of this mythical beast and exits at the tail. But what's inside the long corridor? Scenes depicting the Halls of Hell where sinners meet with their retribution. Each Hall is ruled by a Judge (presumably the Yama Kings) who hands down the punishments of gruesome tortures. Very educational, if one hasn't seen Hell itself but if you have been to the old Haw Par Villa in Singapore, well, they are pretty much similar.
And finally, our last bit of exploration was to climb an ascending corridor along the perimeter wall of the temple grounds. Here, a long row of stone statues lined the walkway. I did not bother to count the number of statues; the significance of them fails me but each of these life-sized statues featured scholars, government officials, army generals, pugilists and other characters in various poses.