Independence..........Merdeka Day

on Sunday, August 31, 2008

31st August 2008. It is Malaysia's 51st National Day or Independence Day. In the national language, it is known as "Hari Merdaka", Malaysia has lots to be grateful for. Our road to independence was not without its trails, sacrifices and heroes but it was a relatively peaceful transition when compared to many countries. I was asked to write a short message entitled "My wish for Malaysia's Birthday" for one of our national dailies. It was printed together with similar with scribblings and thoughts of other Malaysians from all walks of life. Here it is reproduced below;

"Malaysia is rich in natural resources and has an amazing diversity of plants and animals; just as we also enjoy the rich variety of cultures and races in our country. All of these diversities are blessings and contribute to our strength and our national character. I am proud of our country's resources both natural and its people.

However, these treasures cannot be taken for granted. We must be vigilant to protect and develop them sustainably and to constantly promote greater awareness and appreciation for them. Progress is good but it must serve the aspirations of the people for a better life, good health and healthy environment. Our children and future generations must still be able to enjoy our forests, mountains, rivers and islands as we have been able to.

My wish for Malaysia is that we are wise enough to achieve as a nation our full potential in a sustainable manner, on the strength of our natural and cultural diversity without foolishly sacrificing our environment, biodiversity and social values for short-term gain. Let us be what we can be but not lose what we already have."

After the events previously described, I am feeling that this last week has been one of independence too for me after a rather oppressive two years at work. This is a long holiday weekend here iin Malaysia and I am so going to enjoy it. Hope your weekend will be a nice one too.

Bali Hi!

on Tuesday, August 19, 2008

I would like to thank you, dear readers for the wonderful array of good wishes for my recent trip to Bali for a much needed time of relaxation and restoration and especially to those who were able to bring themselves to say best wishes even if it was through clenched teeth. To all of you, I wish you all an opportunity for such an interlude in your near future.

I have posted on Bali before as I was first blessed with an opportunity to visit the island in 2006. I had earlier written about its Beaches, the handicraft centre and peaceful paddy fields of Ubud and on Balinese Culture.

This trip was really more for relaxation. Minimum rushing around and just enjoying the sea, the open spaces, the wind, tranquility and friendly people. Being a bit of a tight-wad, there was no way I could really relax unless I felt that the whole experience was also a great bargain; which it most definitely was. To give you an idea of costs, a) hiring a car and guide for an entire day (10 hours) will cost between USD40-50; b) a meal at a 4-star hotel could cost as little as USD3.50; c) A buffet meal as little as USD12/-; d) a traditional massage for 70 minutes at a 4 star hotel for USD 40/- (or as low as USD 10/- in some places).

I have come back totally relaxed in body and mind. It feels great. I truly wish you all would have the opportunity to visit Bali. But for best effect, just chill and don't rush about. Let the island's magic lull you into a peaceful state.

Here are some photos to whet your appetite.


on Friday, August 15, 2008

The Lone Grey Squirrel, he isn't here.
The tracks are old and the nuts untouched
He's not zipping around in high gear
Enquiries have so far not uncovered much

They search for him high
They search for him low
O how they search, how they try
To discover where did that rodent go.

The nut mines, he escaped this week
Taking an opportunity to break free
This LGS whom some readers may seek
Has gone to try the beaches of Bali.

Anyone Out There?

on Wednesday, August 13, 2008

I know its the Olympics and all over the world, people are glued to their television and enthralled by the drama and tension of competition. I know because the blogging traffic has dropped by about 50%. I know because I too am getting very little sleep at night watching the daily highlights.

Still, the blog must go on. For those of you ardent sport haters/ haven't paid thier cable bills/or have so much free time that you can blog and watch Olympics, I thought I would reward your dedication to blogging with a little bit of "caption writing" fun. Please suggest the funniest or most suitable caption for this picture.

When I Survey the Wondrous Cross

on Sunday, August 10, 2008

I did not go to church this Sunday. I am afraid I have no excuse other than I succumbed to temptation and stayed up to the wee hours watching the Olympics coverage and failed to wake up this morning in time..........and I just feel awful for not having spent the time this morning worshiping God.

I know, unfortunately, for many church-goers, the Sunday service has become a chore.....just something they are expected to do. For me, it is about meeting God and having some precious moments in communion with God. Therefore, it does not bother me what others may think because I was absent from church but I myself regret losing that time of fellowship with God that actually is such a great help and encouragement to me through the rest of the week.

If going to church is a chore for you, then you are missing the point. God intended us to be blessed even when we worship Him. It would be good to take time to rekindle the love for God and to rebuild the relationship with Him through heartfelt personal meditation, prayer and reading of His word. Get the relationship right and meeting God becomes a joy and not a chore.

This morning, after failing to make it to church, I had my own quiet personal devotion and I focussed on this wonderful hymn which I would like to share with you.

It was written by Isaac Watts in 1707 and represented a break from the previous tradition where hymns were based solely on biblical texts. Instead, the verses, although biblically sound in doctrine, began to also reflect the believers' spiritual response to the truth. It is entitled, "When I survey the wondrous cross".

I have loved this Hymn since I was a young Christian. In particular, I take note of the contrasting imagery used in the hymn. For example, in the first verse, we are reminded that it was a "wondrous cross" but yet on it, "the Prince of Glory died".

Other notable contrasts include;

a) "sorrow" and "love" flowed mingled down where Jesus took our sorrows as His own because of His love for us.
b) "thorns" compose so rich a "crown". The use of the crown of thorns was meant to mock Jesus but through it He defeats death and gains the true crown of glory.
c) "were the whole realm of nature mine" but "still an offering far too small" reminds us that we can never repay Jesus for what He has done for us.

When I think of God and the way of love that He has shown us, I often have the image of a mother crocodile holding her eggs between her teeth to transport them. Her jaws are so powerful that they can crush bones but here she uses it with such tenderness and delicateness. In the same way, the Almighty, Powerful Creator of the Universe deals with us in amazing tenderness and love........another amazing contrast.

When I survey the wondrous cross
on which the Prince of Glory died;
my richest gain I count but loss,
and pour contempt on all my pride.

Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
save in the death of Christ, my God;
all the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to his blood.

See, from his head, his hands, his feet,
sorrow and love flow mingled down.
Did e'er such love and sorrow meet,
or thorns compose so rich a crown.

Were the whole realm of nature mine,
that were an offering far too small;
love so amazing, so divine,
demands my love, my life, my all.

New Sports for the Olympic Games

on Friday, August 08, 2008

Did you ever wonder what were the original events at the Olympic Games way back in 776 BC? Well, through the wonders of Wikipedia, we can tell you that there were several footraces ranging from their equivalent to the 100 m sprint all the way to their version of the marathon; boxing, wrestling, full contact martial arts, pentathlon, javelin, discus and long jump. There was even something called the hoplitodromos which was basically a race while in full battle gear.

It doesn't take much to realise that these games were in fact a means of showing off the military skills and prowess of the participating Greek states. During those times of war, the skills displayed by the athletes in the Olympic Games have really to do with skills needed to survive their daily lives.

That, of course, led this squirrel to think that it is about time that the current modern Olympic Games become more relevant to the daily lives of people everywhere. Some sports should surely be dropped. What practical use, for example, is "synchronised swimming" to the modern world citizen? Equestrian sports may have made sense during the time of the cowboys and injuns or the romantic Calvary period of warfare but today what is the relevance when even the U.S. Calvary divisions have long since replaced their horses with tanks. These irrelevant sports should be dropped.

I would like to suggest some new sports that better reflect skills valued in modern living today.

Take the high jump event, how has this skill been useful since the Berlin Wall was torn down? Instead, I recommend it to be replaced by the "Queue Jumping" event. This skills in this event is something almost all of us need on a daily basis as the increasingly fast pace of modern life has made this a necessity. Lining up docilely in queues at places like the post office or the cinema is something that has disappeared with the Victorian Age. I think little old ladies with walking sticks or umbrellas and who aren't afraid to use them would be Olympic Champions in this event.

Weightlifting has events called "snatch", "jerk" and similar. But really with the advent of robots and machines to do the heavy work, how relevant is heavy weight lifting anymore? Instead, the "Snatch and run" event would be a modern favorite, showcasing the skills needed by the modern snatch thief. Each athlete would have a short distance in which they must pick up speed and successfully snatch a purse from a pedestrian and then run to the finish line. It also has the advantage of taking these criminals off the streets and giving them a lucrative career as an athlete.

Javelin throwing is so passe. How many of us still defend our property or fight wars with spears? In fact, in this age of enlightened diplomacy and politics, it is not politically correct for us to have sports based on war activities. So, javelin throwing should be removed and replaced by the modern equivalent of "Mudslinging". Hilary Clinton may have lost the race for the Democrat Presidential Nomination but she would be a winner of this Olympic event.

Finally, too many Olympic Games of late have been stained by drug use scandals. The words of the wise say, "If you can't beat them, join them." Hence, the new Olympic events of "Drug Running" and "Dope Peddling".

If you agree with me, please write to the International Olympic Committee and ask for these new sports to be included in time for the London Olympics in 2012.


on Wednesday, August 06, 2008



on Saturday, August 02, 2008

The Odd Couple Heroes : Spooky Mulder and Scully

Take a TV show and add a dollop of "horror", a cup of "conspiracy", a slice of "science"and blend in an assortment of "legends both urban and ancient" and finally sizzle it with the tension between a believer and a skeptic. The result is something called the X-files which has held my attention for most of its nine seasons. It had all the ingredients that I liked and it was good story-telling.

In recent years, this has been perhaps the only TV show that I have tried not to miss no matter how busy my schedule. Although, my interest did wane towards the last two seasons when I felt that the ideas and the writing had become a little stretched and that it had dragged on a little too long. Ah, but I could go on and on about the stories covered in the first seven seasons. The real spark was in the story writing and the story telling where the kudos must go to creator Chris Carter and his team. Chris Carter has said that part of the inspiration for the series came from his memory of a TV series entitled "Kolchak: The Night Stalker". Well, that was one of my childhood favorites too.

The filming which was mostly done in the early years around Vancouver provided a dark and misty atmosphere which went well with the tales. Also as the years went by, the growing relationship was a fan favorite.

This post was prompted by the recent release of the second feature film from this franchise called "X-Files : I Want to Believe". As a fan, I went dutifully to see it at the very first opportunity and I was ............disappointed. I don't want to leak out the story elements but there were definitely somethings there that will make fans happy. This movie was touted as a stand alone story and a return to a more understated style. Unfortunately, it achieved that so well that it was in the end too mundane and inconsequential. For me, the first movie, "X-files: Fight the Future" was far more satisfying with the grander story scheme and background and the fact that it answered many old questions and advanced the story line.

Having said that, I hope the message gets back to Twentieth Century Fox that I and millions of fans will willingly spend our hard earned money to see the third movie of the series. So even if this current one flops, don't let it stop you from making the third and hopefully Chris Carter will have found his happy spot by then.

In the meantime, I will return and watch re-runs of the TV series. It is probably impossible to have a favorite episode as there were many good ones. Apart from the alien abduction/conspiracy story arc, there were many good single episodes.

Here are some of my favorites that come to mind;
  1. Darkness Falls (with the life-sucking luminous insects)
  2. Clyde Bruckman's Final Repose ( about a man who can foretell people's death)
  3. Folie a Deux (an insect like creature that hides in plain sight)
  4. Drive (in which a man has to keep driving to prevent his inner ear from exploding)
  5. Tithonus (in which a man tries to capture death on film)
Which were your favorites?

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