Thursday, November 27, 2008

How come we seldom see the obvious?


Some things are like the nose right in front of your eyes but you don't see it.

I was on my way out the office door when they were trying to fix the exit switch which broke down again.  These doors are equiped with security scanners on the outside when you come in, and a switch to open the door from inside when you want to leave.  The Mat-Salleh boss was there and he sneered, "Aaah...Made in Malaysia..."  It was like a punch in the solar plexus and brought the bile up to my throat.

C'mon, this is a doorbell switch they installed here.  I mean, how many times a day you get someone to ring on your doorbell?  It's a no-brainer using it on a door that needs to be opened about 500 times a day.  But I didn't say all that.  If I did I would have added a few nasty words about his Malaysian wife too. 

I was fuming and should be thinking of a few thousand nasty things to say to put him in his place.  But my mind was working on a better solution and the answer was so obvious it came to me between the office door and the main gate to the car park.  Yet nobody seems to have seen it.  Why not install a production equipment switch instead?  Those things take at least a few thousand punches a day and still last for years.  I made a mental note to put this into the suggestion box the next day.

But came the next day I forgot about it, until the day they started changing them into industrial equipment switches.  Someone in maintenance must have been riled up enough to put on his thinking cap as well.  I guess the contractors don't have much experience with this either.

Well, here's one more to experience.


Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Brief History of The English Language


"Stole" this interesting information from here:

A brief chronology of English

BC 55

Roman invasion of Britain by Julius Caesar.

Local inhabitants speak Celtish

BC 43

Roman invasion and occupation. Beginning of Roman rule of Britain.


Roman withdrawal from Britain complete.


Settlement of Britain by Germanic invaders begins


Earliest known Old English inscriptions.

Old English


William the Conqueror, Duke of Normandy, invades and conquers England.


Earliest surviving manuscripts in Middle English.

Middle English


English replaces Latin as the language of instruction in most schools.


English replaces French as the language of law. English is used in Parliament for the first time.


Chaucer starts writing The Canterbury Tales.


The Great Vowel Shift begins.


William Caxton establishes the first English printing press.

Early Modern English


Shakespeare is born.


Table Alphabeticall, the first English dictionary, is published.


The first permanent English settlement in the New World (Jamestown) is established.


Shakespeare dies.


Shakespeare’s First Folio is published


The first daily English-language newspaper, The Daily Courant, is published in London.


Samuel Johnson publishes his English dictionary.


Thomas Jefferson writes the American Declaration of Independence.


Britain abandons its American colonies.


Webster publishes his American English dictionary.

Late Modern English


The British Broadcasting Corporation is founded.


The Oxford English Dictionary is published.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Grinning at the face of hardship...

Forwarded email.  Sing it to the tune of "Santa Claus is coming to town"..

Latest Christmas Jingle for 2008

You'd better watch out
You'd better not cry
You'd better keep cash
I'm telling you why:
Recession is coming to town.

It's hitting you once,
It's hitting you twice
It doesn't matter if you've been careful and wise
Recession is coming to town

It's worthless if you've got shares
It's worthless if you've got bonds
It's safe when you've got cash in hand
So keep cash for goodness sake, HEY

You'd better watch out
You'd better not cry
You'd better keep cash
I'm telling you why:
Recession is coming to town!

Finance products are confusing
Finance products are so vague
The banks make you bear the cost of risk
So keep out for goodness sake, OH

You'd better watch out
You'd better not cry
You'd better keep cash
I'm telling you why:
Recession is coming to town.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

The Bone-setter

Kim looked on with great sadness as her father lay on the bed immobilized by straps, tubes and needles all over his body. The regular beep of the heart monitor comfortingly reminded her he was still alive. The accident was almost fatal. His right thigh-bone was split diagonally from the knee to his hip and his left shoulder bone and upper arm was fractured in a few places. There was a crack in the back of his skull. Miraculously he survived.

The first time Kim's elder sister saw her father's condition she fainted and collapsed right in the door way. After she recovered she stayed around in the ward to help look after him. Once, she clumsily stepped on something while moving around the room and the heart monitor which normally went beep.. beep.. beep.. suddenly went beeeeeeeeeeeeee…. All at once nurses and doctors were swarming all over the ward in panic and yelling questions. For someone who'd lived most of her life in a village, moving around in an ICU ward was like living in an alien territory.

After he was discharged from hospital Kim's father was confined to the wheel-chair. Before they sent him home, they measured his right leg and found it was shortened by two inches. He tried to walk but it was more like a crouching and standing routine without much forward progress. And it was painful. And he couldn't lift his left arm.

One day they received a phone call from someone who claimed he was an old friend of Kim's father. They'd grown up together in the village near the jungle. During the Japanese occupation he joined the resistance movement. At the end of the war they wouldn't allow him to leave so he remained in the jungles to fight the British and later, the Malayan armed forces. The Emergency was long over but he still lived in the shadows. He learned of Kim's father's condition. He recognized him from a photograph in a newspaper article about the accident. He wanted to help an old friend. They made arrangements to pick him up from a bus station in a town 50 miles in the north.

He came. The two friends had an awkward reunion. They didn't have the chance to talk of old times. The job at hand was urgent. He made measurements of his friend's wounded leg, hip, shoulder and arm. Before they dropped him off at the local bus station, he left instructions for them to buy a free-range chicken, several large bottles of Wu-jia-pi wine and a list of herbs. The chicken must be male, perfectly healthy and exactly one kati in weight, not one tahil more, not one tahil less. They had to enquire at a few kampongs nearby before they found a chicken of that exact weight. The bill for all the items came to a few ringgits short of one thousand. Then they waited for the friend to call. This time, he asked to be picked up from a bus station in a different town.

He'd come prepared with pieces of bamboo, cut to size to fit perfectly his friend's body and limbs. After he'd checked and verified every item in the list, he was ready. He asked Kim to prepare the kitchen and get him a knife and a good sized wok. Then he told Kim to leave. She must not look. But she was curious. She peeped through a gap in the partition between the adjacent room and the kitchen.

He grabbed hold of the chicken, chanted some verses for a while and left it standing on the table. Curiously, the chicken did not move or try to run away. It stood on the spot quietly while he sharpened a knife and started a fire in the stove. Then he declared to no one in particular, This has to be done right. If I fail to do this right, I'll have to abandon this quest to heal my friend.

He raised the knife and sliced the chicken into two halves from the head to its feet while it remained standing, spilling its guts, blood and feathers on the table. He raised the knife again. This time the chicken was quartered, one piece in each direction of north, south, east and west. He gathered the pieces and threw them, guts, blood, feathers and all into the wok which he'd heated up on the stove. He poured in the wine and threw in the herbs. He stirred and stirred and stirred until after many hours he was left with a paste-like concoction. This he scooped from the wok and laid out on some old newspapers to let it cool.

He tore up strips of old clothes and tied Kim's father by his good arm, his good leg and his body to his iron bed. The whole family was asked to stand by to hold him from struggling and be prepared to listen to a lot of cursing and screaming from the patient for the pain would be unbearable. He then applied the concoction to the pieces of bamboo and tied them on to the wounded parts of the patient's body with strips of cloth.

Kim's father had very little education and most of his vocabulary consisted of the best of words never found in dictionaries. That night, for hours on end, the whole family had to put up with a whole string of expletives. He spat, he hissed, he cried and laughed, and he cursed everyone while the pain racked his whole body. But they kept silent and determinedly took turns to hold him down, wiped away his sweat, saliva and tears, while the man of the jungles told of how he once suffered a gunshot which broke his arm and had to heal himself with the same method with the help of his comrades.

At dawn, they found him sleeping soundly. The man removed the bamboo casts and threw them away. Again, they sent him off and he asked to be dropped off at a different location. They never heard from him again.

On their next visit to the hospital, Kim's father walked into the doctor's office with a slight limp. They measured his leg and found it shorter than the good leg by a mere half inch. The doctor pulled Kim aside and asked her endless questions. But Kim would never tell him the truth. She promised the man that it would remain a secret. She went home to look for the recipe but she couldn't find it.


Monday, November 3, 2008

...And this too shall pass

It was an unbearable year

before you came into our life

when I made the most critical

of all decisions

I threw away the rice bowl

that nurtured us for a while

for the vessel had been defiled

and the contents had turned putrid

and threatened our existence


Thinking I could find another

I treaded home

only to find many others

had no rice bowls

or just empty ones

and struggling to fill them


I was dejected


Down at the bottom looking up

the sky was unreachable

and footholds were worn

and slippery


until a friend lent a hand


Down at the bottom

I had nowhere else to go

the only way to go was up

but I realized too

that this too shall pass