Sunday, October 30, 2005

Of surgeons, mechanics and magicians

Dr. Kazem wasn’t wrong when he recommended surgery for a couple of prolapsed discs, especially when they’d already been rebellious for more than a year.  Besides, this patient didn’t seem so patient anymore.  You could say that the patient was losing his patience.  He made his decision based on his own knowledge, experience and expertise.  It was up to the patient to find another opinion, if he could only bear it a little longer.  Anyway that story’s been over-sawn from the logs now.  To tell more of that would be sawing saw-dust.  (yawn...)


So, let’s take the same scenario and apply it to a car when it has mechanical faults.  If your car makes unearthly noises that doesn’t sound like a normal engine running you take it to a mechanic.  If it doesn’t run straight or it makes unearthly wheel turning noises, you take it to a tyre shop; he’ll re-balance and re-align all the tyres.  Or he’ll want to change absorbers or some other things and try to narrow down the possibilities.  All these actions will be based on his knowledge, experience and expertise or lack of, depending on who gave him his brains, or where he got his training from.


Naturally you can’t discount some not-so-transparent characters in different trades.  I came across one such tyre-shop man who did a quick slight-of-hand on me when he recommended a camber screw for my front wheel once when I complained my car loved running off to the left side of the road even when I’m holding on to the steering wheel with both hands.  He installed a fake camber screw while I wasn’t looking.  I mean, I was eager to find out what that much hyped screw really looked like, but he distracted to me to the other side of my car while his assistant quickly got one out from somewhere and drove in the piece with his air-powered nut driver.  By the time I got back to see what’s going on, the wheel was already fitted back in.  That little lop-sided screw wasn’t cheap either.


I only discovered his ‘magic-show’ trick when I took the car to another shop because the side veering problem came back after only a couple of months down the road.  This shop man not only solved the veering problem, he showed me how I got ‘screwed’ by the previous tyre man.  I also learned that this screw does nothing much for me.  It is beneficial only to the tyre shop man, on both counts.  He makes a profit out of selling that ‘gadget’ and it makes his work easier next time you need to readjust the camber angle of your wheel.


You can bet your bottom ringgit I’ve been and I’d keep telling anyone who needs a tyre changed, not to go that ‘magician’.  Last I heard, his business was ‘going south’ (less idiots going to his shop to get fleeced) and he was ready to pack up to go elsewhere.  That explained why he’d moved up north all the way from Malacca just some years ago.  Some businessmen are truly short-sighted even if they have their glasses on.  I guess he’ll never learn about the policy of honesty.  Such a pity, when one has to depend on satisfied customers to keep business going.  He obviously screwed them once too often.




Here’s one about having parties in Bolehland:


Before midnight it’s called dance party.

After midnight it can become a head-shaking party

After 2.00am if your luck runs out, you get a raiding party.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Stay alive on the War Zone.

I was driving along the expressway the other day, doing 100kph behind a long queue of cars on the fast lane.  The slow lane was taken up by those in the 60s and 70s.  (I mean the speed lah, not the years.)  Couldn't see what's holding up the chaps in front.  Then I noticed some speed freaks coming up fast behind me looking like they'd like to cut right through me.  I looked to my left.  No way could I switch lanes in time.  Even if I let him through, (assumed that's a male driver) I don't see how he could proceed ahead.  Well, I needn't bother.  He swerved his black Aeroback to the extreme left (emergency lane) and sped on.  The other racers with him followed. 


Perhaps he'll learn his lesson the hard way.  I've seen enough pictures of highway emergency lane accidents and actual scenes to know how ugly it can be.  I thought of the family that got smashed up by one such freak driver and I shook my head.  When will they ever learn?  Don't our driving instructors teach learners how to use the highways?  Where can we stop the car and change the spare in case of a blown out tyre without risking our lives?  Suggest to YB Samy Veloo to put up speed bumps on the emergency lane, perhaps?  Whatever happened to defensive driving?  We have so many aggressive drivers on the roads it's become a war zone out there.


I've also seen an emailed photo of a guy sitting dazed in his Kancil, in the driver's seat, staring at his girl friend in the passenger seat.  She had no face left.  There was another woman's head from the back seat stuck in between the front seat and the door. The car's roof was gone.  There was a gaping hole in the back of the bus which was standing in the emergency lane.  Somebody must have taken that picture immediately after the impact.  We can just imagine how it could have happened. 


Hey.  Scary isn't it? 


If you have to stop on the emergency lane to help other people such as accident victims, your first priority is not the victims yet.  Your first priority is safety for all.  Put up emergency signs.  Make the scene highly visible to on-coming traffic.  Make sure the emergency lane doesn't become an alternative passage to speed freaks.  The trouble is, whenever there is an accident, some drivers slow down to look.  They contribute to the bottle-neck and block up the road.  Speed freaks then think they're smarter.  They swerve to the emergency lane.  Whamp!!!


"Ops Sikap" time is back.  Balik kampung time is here.  Don't listen to songs that say, "Hurry, hurry home".  Drive carefully.  Drive defensively.  Rest when you're tired.  Forget the caffeine, forget the red bulls.  They'll make you agitated and perhaps more aggressive.  Water is still the best answer for drowsiness.  Be a little late.  You don't have to be sorry.  It's a lot better than never.


Thursday, October 27, 2005

Don't throw away good experience

I'm in a very preachy mood today.  So here's some preachy monologue. 


I used to hate history lessons and some history teachers.  They were only interested in finishing the syllabus.  They wanted us to remember only dates and places and who did what.  They didn't bother to answer the question "Why?"  That's why I flopped the subject.  But that doesn't mean I hate history.  On the contrary, I love reading about what people do in the past.  About how they created things we use, and even take for granted, today.  How they solved scientific, mechanical or medical problems.  Most things, except about the killings, wars and tortures and what they did to innocent people.  But then, these things happened because of some desperate person's crazy actions while others might have been caused by nitwits desperate for some self-glory.  And that's the answer to the "why" question.


History is for us to help chart our future.  That explains the importance of history in our lives.  No doubt history is often written inaccurately and mostly biased by the writer's own prejudice and mindset.  But that doesn't mean we should brush history aside and say, let the past be the past and look only towards the future.  It's good to be forward-looking, but we shouldn't be simply throwing away experience and valuable lessons that our ancestors learned through trial and error.  At our personal level, whether we are aware or not, we are guided and greatly influenced by our own history.  We carry it with us wherever we go.


Mostly, we get our experience free of charge.  But sometimes we pay dearly for it.  I once read about a great industrialist who hired a manager to run his business.  He was doing fine until he made an error and the company lost a million dollars.  Friends of the industrialist asked if he was going to fire the guy.  He said, "No.  We just spent a million dollars educating him.  Why should we give someone else the benefit of our investment?"  He didn't become a great industrialist by accident.


Once in a while the past tend to creep up on us and say, "Boo!"  Some of these historical factors might be embarrassing or even be bad for our current situation.  They can even threaten to screw up whatever efforts we've put in to attain our current status.  To avoid such bad things from happening, we need to be careful about what we do, because what we do today will become our own history tomorrow.  The most important is not to do anything that goes against our principles or what our conscience say we shouldn't.


But there are certain drawbacks about looking back.  Sometimes it's not good to dwell too long in the past.  A great piece of advice I read somewhere said: "As a door closes behind you, do not gaze upon it too long that you miss a new door of opportunity opening elsewhere". 


Learn from the past, savor the present and strive for the future.  The world now is a global village.  Make the best of whatever you've got, wherever you are.  Your future begins today, whatever your age.  That includes me.


Thursday, October 20, 2005

Goodbye Lady Endon


You fought well and you stood tall

Side by side

With our Prime Minister

On and on you carried on

Hoping you could change your fate

And we hoped and prayed with you


We weep for you

And also with relief too

As your suffering is finally over

You stood as a symbol of courage

Silently a tower of strength

For all who suffer the same affliction

Turning it into a challenge


We pray for you

Now and forever

Your memory lingers on

In the heart of every Malaysian

You are always beautiful

In our eyes

And in our minds


Goodbye Lady Endon