26 November 2009

Imperial or Metric?

I just started secondary school when the country began the switch from imperial measurements to metric ones. Yes, it was confusing though once you get it, I'd say metric is easier. Afterall, for example, there are 100 centimetres in a meter and 1,000 meters in a kilometre but 12 inches in a foot, and three feet in a yard. Which one is easier to remember? Metric ones, of course.

Anyhow, I left school and went to university in a country which still uses (even now) the imperial system. When I got back home, I got my first job and I remember one occasion when I got the two systems mixed up. On of my colleagues asked me how much I weight. I answered wrongly, saying “65 pounds”. Another colleague quipped, “That must be the weight of one of your legs.” Everyone laughed. After that, I never used pound or feet, any more.
(154 words)

Arabic or Tamil?

Many years ago, I was travelling on a flight between West and East Malaysia. For this particular flight, I asked to be seated at the last row of the plane, which was a Boeing 737.

Anyway, sometime during the flight, one of the female flight attendants took a stack of newspapers from under the aisle seat and placed them on the seat.

Apparently someone must've asked for a newspaper as I saw her loooking through the stack. She must've noticed me for stopped in the middle of the stack, which happened to be on a newspaper in the Arabic script, probably the Utusan Melayu, the only paper printed in that script. Back to the flight attendant, when she stopped, she first looked at the paper and then at me, mouthing a question in Malay, asking me if I could read it. Caught off guard, I sheepishly answered that I could but a little slow.

The flight attendant continued looking through the stack of newspapers. I was still watching her and I supposed she noticed it as she stopped looking and looked at me again instead. This time, I had a question for her. I nonchalantly asked in Malay too, "Looking for the Tamil one, is it?"

I had the last laugh this time because she was probably too dumbstruck to answer. Instead, she just returned the whole stack to under the seat. From then on, I hardly notice her smiling when she passed by. Well, you started it.
(250 words)

American or British?

A few years back, when I applied for a visa to a certain English speaking country, one of the requirements was an interview with the staff at the country's Embassy.

At the appointed time, I came but had to wait for a little bit for those applicants who came in before me to be interviewed first. There seemed to be a prepared set of questions asked by the Embassy’s staff.

I wasn't so concerned about getting the visa because the organization I worked for then had dealings with organizations in that country. What concerned me was what would be my answer for a particular question I overheard, which was, "Do you speak English?". I could've answer with a simple, "Yes" or with a triumphant and thumping "Yes indeed, I do". I even thought of answering it with a question, "American or British?" in my best accent of both, of course.

Anyway, when my turn came, the staff enquired about my English as expected. But he asked me, "How's your English" instead of the question I thought about. Unexpectedly and too bad, all I could muster for an answer was an uninspiring "Uhm, okay."
(195 words)

22 November 2009

A Tale of Two Mobile Service Providers

One of them is not applicable in this post.

I have two mobile phones with two different service providers. One is the same with my broadband service. For my birthday, I didn't get anything from this service provider, not even a free happy birthday sms. Last month, however, I got 30 minutes of free calls for numbers within the same network for my 12th anniversary using their service. Yes, 12 years. During this time, I’ve kept the same number but have been changing from one package to another.
The other provider, on the other hand, gave me 1 whole day of free calls for numbers within the same network on my birthday. Believe it or not, I've been using their service for less than 2 years. Less 2 years.

One more thing I feel my birthday is a more significant date than the anniversary date of my signing up with a service provider. But I guess that's not up to me to decide.
(165 words)

My Broadband Service Provider is Amazing

Only one of them is applicable in this post.

Amazingly slow, that is. I've been using the service since April this year and its not getting any better. Sometimes, both the upload and download indicate 0 kpbs. I'm not a heavy user of Internet. Normally, my monthly usage is way below than the 5G allocated. I usually use facebook, e-mails, look up information for work, blog and enjoy interactions in social and interest forums. Actually, I wanted to terminate the service but then the modem is tied to this particular provider, which means, I can't use it with another. Too bad, huh. Well, my own stupid mistake.

I've asked a friend who works with the service provider about this and one of the possible causes I was told is that much of the bandwidth was being used up by the students at a nearby university. I can see that but I know that the students have completed their final exams and most would be on their way back to their hometown. I expected the service to improve when the students are gone. Sadly, its still the same now.
(190 words)

21 November 2009

What did I get for my birthday?

A book, a perfume and deodorant set, a lunch, a digital camera bag (but I managed to squeeze my notebook in there too), a digital photography book, a cake and a lot of wishes from my family and friends. Thank you all. For me, its the thoughts, not the physical items, that count.

P/S: I'm still thinking of what to buy for myself. I'm thinking of getting accessories for my digital camera - maybe, a lens or two and a flash.
(83 words)

19 November 2009

My Birthday

I was born today many years ago. Sometime ago, I got around asking my mother about the time I was born. Well for starters, I was born in the local hospital of my mother's hometown. She said labor wasn't very difficult. My mother came to the hospital around 8am and voila, 2 hours later, I was born. If you check here, you'll know I was born on a Tuesday.

My mother said I wasn't a particularly difficult baby to take care of. Even later, as a young boy, I wasn't a difficult child. According to her, I usually followed what I was told, like to stay in one place or to behave. (Wow, I'm amazed of myself, really.) Anyway, I still could recall being mischievous at times, but there were not so many of these. Kids being kids, I guess.

I usually try to take leave on my birthday. That's not possible today as I've a lot of things to do at work. If I'd taken leave, I'll probably do them at home, anyway. So, what's the point of taking leave, right? It's too bad that I'd to work on my birthday but I'll get through it.
(199 words)

15 November 2009

10 Things to Do in Jakarta

Photo: Ships at Sunda Kelapa Port
I've lost count of my trips to Jakarta for work. I first went in 2001. My worst experience was being in the city the day the Australian embassy in Kuningan was bombed. My colleagues and I even passed by the area on our way to work that particular morning.

For a change, I was in Jakarta for a proper vacation for the very first time last December.

Here's the list:

  1. Visit Monas, the National monument and have a picnic on the grounds. Don't forget nearby buildings, like the Istiklal Mosque and the Roman Catholic church.
  2. Visit Jakarta old quarter and see old buildings from past centuries.
  3. See the ships at Sunda Kelapa port and if you are lucky, you'll see a nice sunset too.
  4. Visit Ancol area. Taman Mini Indonesian and the Underwater World are perennial attractions.
  5. Eat somewhere along Jalan Jaksa. A backpackers haunt, the road is lined by many food outlets.
  6. Shop at Mangga Dua area for affordable stuff and souvenirs.
  7. Shop at Plaza Indonesia or Senayan Mall for more upmarket goods.
  8. Stock up on local Indonesian music CD's and Indonesian movies DVD's. The prices will blow you away.
  9. Get lost for books at Taman Gunung Agung Kwitang or at any Gramedia outlets.
  10. Take a train and get away to Bandung and Bogor, 3 hours and 1 hour away respectively. Enjoy the cooler climate in both places and in Bandung, some more shopping.

(249 words)

14 November 2009

Last Night

Actually, ten nights ago. There was a full moon, so I decided to take my camera out and take a photo of the moon.

Reminds of Az Yet’s song “Last Night”. Last night, while making love to you. I saw the sun, the moon, the mountains and the rivers…

Photo was taken from outside my home, Kota Kinabalu on Wednesday 4 November at 10.15PM

10 November 2009

10 Things to Do in Manila

Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Palm Tree - Roxas Boulevard during the anniversary of People Power Revolution

The List:

  1. Intramuros, in particular Fort Santiago.
  2. Manila Cathedral & UNESCO World Heritage Site Saint Agustin Church. Both are located in Intramuros.
  3. Have a picnic at Rizal Park/Luneta Park.
  4. Look at the excellent permanent and rotating exhibits at the Ayala Museum.
  5. National Museum of Filipino People.
  6. Roxas Boulevard. Take a walk in the morning or late afternoon along Manila Bay.
  7. Shopping at SM Mall of Asia (MoA). I prefer Robinson Place in Malate or Greenbelt/Glorietta in Makati but MoA is huge.
  8. Clubbing in J Nakpil street, Malate.
  9. Shop for trinkets, souvenirs or gifts, what the Filipinos call 'pasalubong' at Greenhills.
  10. Visit the still active Taal volcano.

I have been to Manila only twice, so that doesn't make me an expert. My first time here was a surprise for me. Generally I found people were warm, friendly and helpful.

Another thing that really struck me is that there are so many beautiful and handsome people in this city. It was impossible not to notice. I even remarked to a travel mate that may be there's a law keeping the not so beautiful and not so handsome people, or most of them at least, locked at home.

P/S I might visit again in early December.

(233 words)

04 November 2009

Father and Son (1)

Photo was taken at Tanjung Aru Beach, Kota Kinabalu on Sunday 25 October 2009 at 5.40 PM.

03 November 2009

Out Of The Frying Pan (And Into The Fire)

Microphone and examination announcement script for the chief invigilator.

My students diligently answering my examination.

The institution of higher learning where I worked has just commenced its final examination weeks for the on-going semester. Examination for both my papers were held in the first week. One is for about thirty students; the other, about three hundred students. Each paper has five questions. I am fine with the smaller group, as the questions are all qualitative. But with the larger one, I'll have to pore over 1,500 answers. And being a quantitative paper, I'll have to go over each question carefully especially when the students answers' do not match my own marking scheme. I give credit where credit is due.

Marking examination scripts is the thing I like least in my job. Ask any academic, they'll probably say the same. I'll probably spend the whole of the next week or so marking. But, if you are reading this my students, don't worry, though I may take time marking, I don't take shortcuts in doing it. Be rest assured that scripts are duly checked from front to back.
(188 words)

01 November 2009

Reflections and Contemplations

Five years ago today, I made the jump from the corporate world to the academia. Some of my friends then thought I've lost my mind. Looking back, maybe I really did. I'm now nowhere closer to where I'd like to be then. Perhaps it's time look reflect on what I've done and contemplate what I should be doing next. Did I make the wrong choice? Should I stay on or should I move on with my life? These are the questions playing in my mind. I don't have the answers but once I do, then it's my resolve. I know, this time around, some of my friends now might think I'm losing it again. Ah, well, c'est la vie.
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