Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Random thoughts5

Work Antics...

They called a meeting. I was about as alert as a log being shoved uphill. I said the Nescafe didn't seem to kick hard me enough. Someone recommended Cappuccino. Another volunteered a localized version. He called it Kopicina...

So, while they discussed issues which didn't directly involved me, I scribbled random notes to stay awake and look busy. Any casual observer will think I'm busy taking the minutes. Appearances are most vital, right?


There was a new project called New Analog Platform. Dubbed NAP for short. It was taking a long time for the line to materialize.

Hence, when passers-by asked, "How's the NAP?"

The response was; "Sssshhh".


Another complaint was; it's ridiculous that while it takes only 2 days to build a sample, it takes a whole week to deliver it to a customer.

"No. It's not." I declared. Everybody stared at me.

"Well, it takes only a few minutes to make a baby, but nine months to deliver it!"


Football solution:

The quarrel was about a troublesome Final Test equipment that couldn't fulfill it's requirements. While suggestions were bandied around, a football fan piped up: "How's about a semi-final test?"


Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Random thoughts4


It's OK, just to go ahead and pronounce words like Peugeot as "Piu-jiott", Carrefour as "Carry-four", Citroen as "Sit-tron"… Americans have always pronounced our Orang-utan as "A rang-a-tan" as in when you called a number and someone showed up with a infra-red lamp and proceeded to give your hide a tanning session after which you ended up looking brownish like you'd been on a sunny beach for a few hours...

And why do they pronounce island as i-land and not IS-land? Why is a bouquet not a bow-kuett but a boo-kay? And a buffet not a buffet but boo-fay? You explain, Professor Higgins…

Just as you'd have to know; the rain in Spain no longer stays mainly on the plain… And those dainty ladies upon hearing "move your blooming ass!" no longer faint, but give your bum a squeeze for good measure!


Random thoughts3


Standing under the sky

Unlimited, so wide

People rushing to places

Time is yet flying by

I'm standing right here

I'm still a stranger

And I wonder why

Have I taken this fork of the road

In those years gone by?


Monday, March 26, 2007

Workplace misadventures

A colleague has been having problems with his keyboard. The letters L and K kept getting missing and he had to bang on those keys quite hard to get them to show up on the screen. This morning he poured half a cup of coffee on it. (It was an accident lah...) The rest went to the floor.

I was waiting for my PC to come awake when I noticed a few spots of brownish liquid on my desk and smelt the nice aroma of (Capucino? Nescafe? Old Town? ...whatever..) and I peeked over the cubicle wall and asked, "Have you been stirring your coffee?"

He said' "Yes. But no chance to drink it."

"Not too vigorously, OK? Just use tea-spoon provided, not an oar."

He grinned.

He had the presence of mind to unplug the keyboard and blew it dry with an airgun. (If at home, use your vacuum cleaner. Plug the tube to the blow outlet).

And presto! His keyboard now works fine. No more banging on the L and K keys!!! Evidently all it needs is a shot of caffeine to get it going....

His workmate who shares the cubicle with him has the same problem with his keyboard. (Brand name withheld to prevent any unwelcomed lawsuits against this blogger)

I said, "Now you know the solution?"


Lemon Grass

A friend sent me this info.  Something worth knowing.  (Lemon grass, serai (malay), Chang-mao (hokkien/teochew)


A drink with as little as one gram of lemon grass contains enough citral to prompt cancer cells to commit suicide in the test tube.


Israeli researchers find way to make cancer cells self-destruct at Ben Gurion University.


At first, Benny Zabidov, an Israeli agriculturalist who grows greenhouses full of lush spices on a pastoral farm in Kfar Yedidya in the  Sharon region, couldn't understand why so many cancer patients from  around the country were showing up on his doorstep asking for fresh lemon grass.

It turned out that their doctors had sent them.


"They had been told to drink eight glasses of hot water with fresh lemon grass steeped in it on the days that they went for their radiation and chemotherapy treatments," Zabidov told ISRAEL21c.

"And this is the place you go to in Israel for fresh lemon grass."


It all began when researchers at Ben Gurion University of the Negev discovered last year that the lemon aroma in herbs like lemon grass kills cancer cells in vitro, while leaving healthy cells unharmed. The research team was led by Dr. Rivka Ofir and Prof. Yakov Weinstein, incumbent of the Albert Katz Chair in Cell-Differentiation and Malignant Diseases, from the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at BGU.


Citral is the key component that gives the lemony aroma and taste in several herbal plants such as lemon grass (Cymbopogon citratus), Melissa (Melissa officinalis) and verbena (Verbena officinalis.)


According to Ofir, the study found that citral causes cancer cells to "commit suicide: using poptosis, a mechanism called programmed cell death."


A drink with as little as one gram of lemon grass contains enough citral to prompt the cancer cells to commit suicide in the test tube.


The BGU investigators checked the influence of the citral on cancerous cells by adding them to both cancerous cells and normal cells that were grown in a petri dish. The quantity added in the concentrate was equivalent to the amount contained in a cup of regular tea using one gram of lemon herbs in hot water. While the citral killed the cancerous cells, the normal cells remained unharmed. The findings were published in the scientific journal* Planta Medica*, which highlights research on alternative and herbal remedies. Shortly afterwards, the discovery was featured in the popular Israeli press.


Why does it work? Nobody knows for certain, but the BGU scientists have a theory. "In each cell in our body, there is a genetic program which causes programmed cell death. When something goes wrong, the cells divide with no control and become cancer cells. In normal cells, when the cell discovers that the control system is not operating correctly for example, when it recognizes that a cell contains faulty genetic material following cell division - it triggers cell death," explains Weinstein. "This research may explain the medical benefit of these herbs."


The success of their research led them to the conclusion that herbs containing citral may be consumed as a preventative measure against certain cancerous cells. As they learned of the BGU findings in the press, many physicians in Israel began to believe that while the research certainly needed to be explored further, in the meantime it would be advisable for their patients, who were looking for any possible tool to fight their condition, to try to harness the cancer-destroying properties of citral.


That's why Zabidov's farm - the only major grower of fresh lemon grass  in Israel - has become a pilgrimage destination for these patients. Luckily, they found themselves in sympathetic hands.

Zabidov greets visitors with a large kettle of aromatic lemon grass tea, a plate of cookies, and a

supportive attitude.


"My father died of cancer, and my wife's sister died young because of cancer," said Zabidov. "So I understand what they are dealing with. And I may not know anything about medicine, but I'm a good listener. And so they tell me about their expensive painful treatments and what they've been   through. I would never tell them to stop being treated, but it's great that they are exploring alternatives and drinking the lemon grass tea as well."


Zabidov knew from a young age that agriculture was his calling. At age 14, he enrolled in the Kfar Hayarok Agricultural high school. After his army service, he joined an idealistic group which headed south, in the Arava desert region, to found a new moshav (agricultural settlement) called Tsofar.


"We were very successful; we raised fruits and vegetables, and," he notes with a smile, "We raised some very nice children."


On a trip to Europe in the mid-80s, he began to become interested in herbs. Israel, at the time, was nothing like the trend-conscious cuisine-oriented country it is today, and the only spices being grown   commercially were basics like parsley, dill, and coriander. Wandering in the Paris market, looking at the variety of herbs and spices, Zabidov realized that there was a great export potential in this   niche. He brought samples back home with him, "which was technically illegal," he says with a guilty smile, to see how they would grow in his desert greenhouses. Soon, he was growing basil, oregano, tarragon, chives, sage, marjoram and melissa, and mint just to name a few. His business began to outgrow his desert facilities, and so he decided to move north, settling in the moshav of Kfar Yedidya, an hour and a half north of Tel Aviv.


He is now selling "several hundred kilos" of lemon grass per week, and has signed with a distributor to package and put it in health food stores.


Zabidov has taken it upon himself to learn more about the properties of citral, and help his customers learn more, and has invited medical experts to his farm to give lectures about how the citral works and why.


He also felt a responsibility to know what to tell his customers about its use. "When I realized what was happening, I picked up the phone and called Dr. Weinstein at Ben-Gurion University, because these people were asking me exactly the best way to consume the citral. He said to put the loose grass in hot water, and drink about eight glasses each day."


Zabidov is pleased by the findings, not simply because it means business for his farm, but because it might influence his own health. Even before the news of its benefits were demonstrated, he and his  family had been drinking lemon grass in hot water for years, "just because it tastes good."



Scientific Journal report:


photo from:

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Ante up, buster

At last he sold this old jalopy to an antique collector for
one thousand RM.

This piece of scrap has been taking up space right across
from my main gate for years. Then this
morning at about the darkest hour before dawn someone drove his car into the
headlamp and pushed the whole heap of junk back 2 meters. The noise jolted me from my dreams and I
heard the sound of a Nissan engine driving off after a slight hesitation. He opined that the driver could have been
drunk. Talk about a rude awakening.

He called the buyer and told him. That cost him a reduction of RM100.

But I guess some folks don’t care much. The space in front of their main gate happens
to be a vulnerable spot. This was the 3rd
time someone drove their vehicle into one of their cars. The first one happened some years ago when
they first moved in. A new driver took
the corner that turned into our lane a little too fast, veered to the opposite
side and grated both doors of one of their Iswara sedans. The young driver’s parents paid for the

A year ago one of my kids reversed our hatchback smack right
into the same sedan’s front door and fender.
It blew a 200 buck hole in my wallet after the repairs and paint job. Fortunately our rear bumper was made of tough
material. I only needed to scrape off
the other car’s paint from a corner that made contact.

So they probably think someone else being always at fault,
it doesn’t matter. But fate seems to have
caught up with them.

Ante up, buster. And
good riddance to that piece of eye-sore.

Friday, March 23, 2007

A fine mess of a dinner


We went into a cosy little restaurant with a carpeted floor.  Just me and my wife.  We were seated at a table and the waiter brought me a bottle of Glen Fiddich.  Thought it's supposed to be wine, but anyway it doesn't matter.  I'm comfortable with whiskeys.  Wifey's not so keen on drinking.  She'd sometimes take a sip or two from my glass though.  She went about getting something to eat at the buffet.  Then I noticed in the queue was the young man whom I sometimes called in to fix my PC.  He wasn't aware I was there so I ignored him and focussed on my table, cluttered with everything except food.  I had to get me a nice chair with arm-rest so that I could sit comfortably.  Meanwhile the room began to be filled with more and more people.

There was one of my nieces with a few younger kids milling around.  She just came in and sat down on my chair and was saying something to me.  But I wasn't keen on listening.  I was looking around wondering where wifey went.  Perhaps she's still looking around choosing her food.  I wanted to get back to my food, so I grabbed another chair and offered it to my niece and told her to shift over so that I could sit in my chair.  Just then I remembered I had to go the next room to get something else.  I can't remember what it was.  The next room was empty except for tables and chairs. 


When I got back, the place became what looked like a large living room.  All my relatives were present.  Well, I'd say, most of them.  I could recognise a few faces.  My dad's brother-in-law, for instance, stood out clearly.  For courtesy, I had to invite him to join us at my dinner.  But I still wondered where my wife was.  Then I spotted her standing in the back row.  She seems to be always somewhere in the back blending into the crowd.  I wondered what she was doing standing there.  Everyone sat or stood facing one direction, as if they were watching TV.  They'd shifted our cosy little table to one side against the wall, but my food and drinks were still there waiting for me to carry on.  I was terribly thirsty.


The alarm beeped 6.00 am.  I realized the air conditioner wasn't blowing cool air.  It showed a glowing red lamp on the panel.  Problem again with the compressor restart switch, I guess.  It's time again to get back to the grind.  But how I wished I could Dream Like Danny.



Thursday, March 22, 2007

Random thoughts 2

Sometimes (like right now) I simply stay blank for a long while. Then I go through my half-baked random thoughts or musings which I managed to quickly scribble on any toilet paper anywhere between getting out of bed and before the tollgates going into the expressway. Sorry, I never tried writing while doing 110 km/h.

Here are some accumulated results of those scribblings.


Investment definitions:

Unit trust = you need trust

Trust fund = you trust me, I have fund

Stock exchange = exchange some stocks for other equally bad ones


From some politician:

"We want the best for the people. We always have their interest at heart,"

They're talking about your bank interest lah, dope!













Workplace philosophy:

Some customers are shit-givers. So for self-preservation you treat them like caged pets. Don't give them more goodies (ideas, data, and info) and they won't give you more shit. So, give as little as possible, and only when they beg.

You won't get two lives

A colleague volunteered to give me a lesson in life. Pretty simple philosophy. He said (in Teochew dialect): "Peh si bo nor tiau mia". Translated, it means - even if you struggle (fight, work, scheme, slave) yourself to death, you won't get two lives. This is one and the only one you'll get. So don't push your luck too far. If something can be achieved it can be achieved. If not, just leave it. Don't push your titanium square peg into a titanium round hole. You'll hurt not only yourself, but also the ones nearest and dearest to you. And don't fight with anybody over petty things.

As I think of this, I'm reminded of those who keep dreaming of making it big (rich) by gambling. Then running out of cash and luck they go for Ah Longs' help. They get trapped in that ever widening and deepening whirlpool.

Just make the best of what you can do in whatever situation you are, go for it, and give it your best shot. So simple lah.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

The Alternative


The 1.6 liter engine purred like a cat when he turned it on.  He gently depressed the accelerator.  The pointer on the tachometer swept upwards.  So did his pulse rate.  Wow...  The response was without a trace of hesitation.  That's how he wanted his engine to work.  Like the beat of his own heart and the surge of adrenaline in his own body to match.  Man and machine as one.  He showed his thumb up at his mechanic who was watching from the workshop doorway and grinned.


He belted up, eased into gear, lowered the handbrake lever and the car surged forward towards the main road and into the light, mid morning traffic.  The DJ on the FM station was giving a commentary on some traffic condition elsewhere.  In this part of the city there's no such problem at this time.  He relaxed.  An overloaded two ton lorry in front crawled and spewed blackish diesel smoke.  He twisted the steering towards the right lane.  A long blowing of a horn and screaming of rubber dragging on the tarmac brought him back to alert mode.  Then he realized his mistake.  He hesitated long enough for the other car to move ahead.  The driver glared and waved a middle finger at him.  He returned the greeting before realizing there was an ashen-faced woman in the passenger seat.


The other car then took a zigzag course in front of him, jerked several times and his brake lights glowed each time.  By then they had passed the diesel-smoke machine.  Shit!  This guy's mad...  He slowed down to let him go ahead, hoping he'd stop the insanity streak.  He did not.  Once or twice he nearly hit him.  He kept his cool for the next kilometer looking for a chance to make a run.  He stepped on the accelerator to try to get pass him on the left.  He must have sensed his intention.  He moved quickly to the left to block him off, nearly causing a crash.  He steered to the right.  Same thing happened.  Hmmmph!!  Wish I have a turbo-engine for this trick...  He was getting agitated but he kept in control.  This went on for a few more kilometers.


Finally both vehicles stopped.  He waited.  The car door opened and a medium-sized guy stepped out with a steering lock in his hand, eyes wild, and jaws set spoiling for a showdown.  As soon as the guy closed his door, he shifted to reverse gear and stepped on the accelerator.  The guy hesitated and moved back to reach for his door handle.  He stopped his car about 30 meters away and got out, leaving the engine running.  I can handle him, but this should buy us some time.  'Avoid violence by all means', he remembered his Master's advise.  The guy turned around and came towards him again. 


He's stopped bigger guys before this.  There was one who grabbed a lady's bag and was about to jump on his accomplice's motorbike while the crowd looked on.  He tripped him and he dropped the bag, but came up again with a knife in his hand.  This time he almost killed him with a kick in his crotch.  His face went all white, his eyes rolled up in his sockets and his legs buckled under him and he collapsed groaning.  The accomplice saw what happened, got back on his motorbike and raced off.


Doesn't matter he didn't gain his black belt.  The strenuous training and sparring sessions did a lot of good.  And some of those sparring partners he met weren't friendly at all.  He had his share of bruises, cuts and fractures.  But they managed to heal with the right medication, especially internal injuries.  He remembered almost finishing his father's whole bottle of medicated wine when he fractured his ribs while sparring with a short stocky guy, a 2nd Dan trainer.  He showed no mercy.  He was from a rival training center.  Every time he breathed, the pain was like a knife being twisted in his chest.  A month later, he went back to training.


The next time they met again for the 2nd exam he sent the unlucky bastard out on a stretcher.  But he failed.  The chief examiner disqualified him for kicking below the belt.  He never believed in high kicks.  Those are only for show.  Out there, they have no rules, no style, and no trophies.  If you have to stop someone, make it quick and dirty.


Just then the passenger door opened and the woman rushed out.  She kept yelling, pleading with the man.  There was a baby in her arms crying.  Christ!  What's going on here?  He's out of his mind.  He's got a family.  And he's not thinking.


He had the next few seconds to decide he couldn't do it.  He raised his right hand, palm forward, remembering a passage he read in a western novel where pioneer settlers met with savage Red Indians on the warpath, signaling he wanted to settle it peacefully.  Those old timers knew a thing or two about effective hand signals.


"I'm sorry it was my mistake!  I didn't look before I turned."  His voice, loud and clear was steady.  He kept moving forward one deliberate step after another.  Stay cool, stay calm.


"I didn't know you have a baby in there..."  He kept talking.  The guy showed signs of calming down.  He glanced back at the woman with the crying baby.  He was uncertain now.  The woman was still pleading, "Please don't do it, please..."


By the time they were a few meters apart, both men stopped and eyed each other.  The guy then lowered his gaze and dropped his steering lock.  With his shoulders slumped he turned around and walked back to his car.


Thursday, March 1, 2007

Hidden Messages

It’s evident I’m not
the only blogger trying to read between the
looking for something that editors wouldn't risk their paychecks to put into print.
Here’s someone else
looking for hidden
in the front page of Star. None other than the No.1 blogger himself. And he thinks it's more than just humour that's on the editor's mind.