Thursday, July 09, 2009

Outstation at Gotanda

Am now in Tokyo, putting up the night at a business hotel at Gotanda.
The room is naturally, extremely small.
There is a bed, semi-double no doubt, a desk, chair, a unit-bath, and some other accessories.

Been on out-station trips for the last four weekends; three to Tokyo and one to Kumamoto.
Attending seminars upon seminars, that is.
Can be quite tiring, but work is work.

Felt a bit sad that Michael Jackson passed away at such a early age.
I think he was also born in 1958.
Such a waste of talent to leave so soon.

Shall fly back home tomorrow, back to my vegetable garden.
The corn is growing big and the birds are eyeing them.
Harvested some kang kong the other day... really tasty.
The basil plants are super healthy, so are the chillies.
Can't wait to dig my fingers into the soil.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Goodies from the local fish market

Had the honor and pleasure of hosting lunch for three of my former mentors and their wives at our home the other day. They are either in their late sixties or early seventies and are still very healthy-looking. The event gave rise to an opporturnity for us to zoom to the Sunday fish market hosted by local fishermen. Here are some of our 'catches' for the day.

We bought two packets of these super fresh mini squids. They are just about the size of a thumb and it was our first time to see such tiny squids. Locally, they are called 'dango ika', or 'ball' squid if I may say. The fishermen advised us to cook them in sweet soy sauce, with ginger and garlic. But after slurping down one of them while my missus was washing them, I said we have to serve them as they are... fresh and raw. Yummy, I must say. Think I must have gulped down about ten of them that day.

We also grabbed a sizable flounder straight from the tank. Had one of the fishermen cut it up into sashimi. Not very professional in presentation if compared to a real chef's but the taste was marvellous. Also picked up an interesting item called 'pen shells' or 'fan shells' (according to internet sources). It tasted quite like scallops, only crunchier. And extremely tasty.

After bidding goodbye to our guests in the late afternoon, I gazed up the sky and good heavens, what a sight to end the day.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Dumpling making... Round one

Strange things can happen when a man ties the knot.
He becomes lazy...
Too tired to do the chores after a hard day's work, he claims.
The missus takes over the kitchen and the man enjoys the meals.
For many years, used to do the dishes after meals.
Even that, these days, the lady of the house says, 'it is ok, I'll do it'.
So, the man not only 'forgets' how to cook, he forgets how to wash the dishes, he forgets how to iron the shirts or he becomes clueless on how to turn on the washing machine.
Suddenly, after over two decades of pampering, yours truly one day said to himself... I would like to try my hand in making dumplings.
From scratch, that is...

He takes out the flour, throws in a dash of baking powder, a spoonful of brown sugar... and added water...
He kneads the concoction...
He pops in the meat and greens, and steams the 12 dumplings for 15 minutes under strong heat...

And woah.... here it is...

The taste?
Low on salt but quite yummy, I must say, if taken with vinegar and yellow mustard...
Am looking forward to trying a second time... soon...

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Motor-assisted commuting

Weight 61.8 kilos...
Body fat 13%...
Height 175.5 cm...
Hmmm, am I too thin or what...
Was told by my doctor that I was on the borderline of hitting the 'metabolic syndrome' some months ago...
Put me under some stringent tests on diabetes...
Luckily, no problems...

Still, went on to control my intake of goodies...
And now, this... did I over-control the food intake or what...

Meanwhile, yours truly continues to commute with his mountain bike...
On fine winter days when there is no rain or wind, he'd be crawling through the 20 kilometers or so to the university, and 20 kilometers back home again in the evening... tail wagging and tongue dangling for that hot supper meal...
But ooh, the finger tips, the toes... go numb in the cold... this, despite, double gloves and double socks...
Other than that, it remains a joy to cruise the backlanes...

Still, there is no way to stop the old dog from aging...
So, had been eyeing the motor-assisted bicycle...
When the current bike goes kaput, shall certainly be shopping for one of those motorized bikes...
Truth is, while shopping for this current mountain bike, a friend suggested that I get the motorized bicycle. I shooed him off, saying that I am no wimp to rely on the motor to propel the bike.

Now, imagine yours truly gleefully cycling up the slopes, motor-assisted of course...hehheeheeee...

Friday, January 23, 2009

Finding solace in Kedah

Recently made an escape back to my village in Kedah, Malaysia.
The vast expanses of green padi fields offered much needed solace.
In the next few weeks, they will be turning golden yellow, ready to be harvested.
But too bad I had to hit the road before that.

Captured this on a cool cloudy day.
That farmer is in his 80s and he cycles about 3 kilometers or so daily to come tend his fields.
He has been doing this ever since I was a kid and he is still going strong.
The partially hidden mountain in the backdrop is of course, Gunung Jerai (Kedah Peak).

The year 2008 was supposed to be Visit Kedah Year.
But the place is unfortunately, as usual, untidy.
Perhaps that feature itself is an attraction?
Anyway, took this shot of the Balai Nobat, the Clock Tower and Masjid Zahir on a really nice-blue-sky day.
There used to be many raintrees in this vicinity, huge ones.
But the municipality people, who knows what they are thinking.
In this aspect, I think they have a lot to learn from Penang.
They chopped off all of them (leaving perhaps one or two?) and planted those skinny palm trees and the ill-looking, under-nourished royal palms.
Won't be surprised if they are dead the next time I come around.

A closer view of the real pretty Masjid Zahir.
If not for the overhanging wires, I bet she would look even prettier.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Old dogs will never learn

Oh oh, it is not very wise of UMNO to use that 'surgery' word...

Now if Dr. Bakri Musa has not done it yet, I trust that he is already sharpening his knives to do just that...
So UMNO, you'd better prepare to have your butt slammed again by the good doctor...

After Trenggannu, there is so much talk about UMNO having and needing to change.

You mention it, characters ranging from Muhyiddin to Koh Tsu Koon, to Mahathir, to Khairy, to Najib, the whole gang seems to be dishing out this 'advice' of the need to change.
Who are they targeting anyway, this 'advice', if not they themselves?

My take is that, hehe, UMNO is set to die a natural death, and the sooner it is, the better for the country.
For, tell me, does anyone think that this party can actually change?
This party is filled with so-called leaders and politicians who are either corrupted or inept and their only aim seems to be to hold on to power as long as they can.

To me, the only way for UMNO to change is to boot out all their so-called leaders.
Each and every one of them must disappear.
But of course not, for how can they boot themselves out?

I am waiting for that day to come... the funeral day, that is... hee he...

Friday, January 16, 2009

This wasteful debate on English

Man, this debate on the usage of English is getting to be tiring... still, am truly surprised to read the following...

'On Monday, the five states under opposition coalition Pakatan Rakyat united against the policy. PPSMI (the use of English to teach subjects like Math and Science) had dealt a blow to the "sanctity of Malay", its executive council members in charge of education said.'

Dealt a blow to the santity of Malay?

What is going on in the minds of the Pakatan Rakyat folks?
Have I been expecting too much from these guys or what?

My stand is, Malaysia needs to tackle two issues fast.
One is to instill a sense of unity and togetherness among citizens.

The other is to equip Malaysians to survive in the global market.

Malaysia can tackle these two issues with just one stroke.

That is none other than reverting to the full use of English as she did prior to being hijacked by racial-nationalist politicians decades ago.

Many Malaysians seem to look at this issue as a zero-sum game.

Human beings are capable of mastering multiple languages.

Learning English or using English to teach other subjects does not mean that we have to sacrifice the learning or usage of other languages.

Look at me... (shy lah).

I schooled in the English language, my Bahasa is not too bad I think.

At 27 years of age, I took on Japanese by choice.

I am now somewhere between tri- and bi-lingual.

Similarly, Malaysians can easily master three languages or more.

Just look around you and see for yourself.

I would propose English as the all-encompassing language for everyone to master.

Call this the 'language for the stomach', the language for the globalization huha.

Next, Bahasa Malaysia should be compulsory for all to master.

This is language for the unity thingy.

Finally, all Malaysians are required to select a third language to master.

It can be Mandarin, Tamil, Urdu, French, or whatever.

We should all seriously think about the overall good, rather than restricting ourselves to narrow interpretations of protecting ones' culture and language.

By restricting ourselves to narrow interests, we are certainly not helping our country to move ahead.

Friday, January 09, 2009

New airport at Labu

Happy new year to all...

Heard in NHK radio this morning, news on Air Asia's plan to build a new airport at Labu.

Kind of rare that NHK slots in news on Malaysia, not to say, on such a seemingly inconsequential event.

Thing is, they mentioned that Air Asia may fly into Japan in the future, so it is not really that inconsequential.

When that happens, Japan Airlines and All Nippon are going to scratch their heads.

Kobe or Okayama airport, or Shizuoka airport will be appropriate targets.

Personally, I do not think that building the Labu airport is a good idea. It is one airport too many. Issues like control tower operations remain to be solved.

It might be good for Air Asia as they will have full control of the terminal. Imagine the captive passengers who will be forced to take Air Asia buses to connect to the city, the hotels managed by Air Asia, the restaurants...

But I think this turn of event is sort of like, a slap on the face of Malaysia Airlines and more so, on the face of Malaysia Airports.

Each time I fly through KLIA, I always go away with the impression that it is a ghost town.

Empty, cold, under-utilized. This, regardless of the many 'international' awards won.

This, compared to the LCCT which is full of people, to the extent that it reminds me of a fish market.

I cannot be too sure, but I think Malaysia Airports have been trying to pull the legs of Air Asia.

They could have allowed Air Asia to use KLIA or Subang. Or better still, they could have constructed the LCCT adjacent to the main KLIA terminal.

I imagine Air Asia fuming, swearing to teach Malaysia Airports and Malaysia Airlines a lesson.

And I support them, warts and all.

Malaysia Airports and Malaysia Airlines probably think that they are 'king' in Malaysia.

Still, I think that Labu is not a good idea.

A logical way out (think Malaysia Airports is already talking about this) is to promptly rebuild a new LCCT adjacent to the main KLIA terminal and welcome any airline to use it.

They should have done this instead of converting that cargo complex that is now the current LCCT.