Friday, August 29, 2008

Friday Frolics - Are You A Cheapskate?

The world certainly is made up of different folks. I know people who are extremely the 'taking' type and some on the other end, the extremely generous type, so much so it's to a fault, the latter type. Even generosity needs to be in moderation, I believe.

Okay, time for a quiz. This is a good, thought-provoking quiz. Find out whether you are generous or a cheapskate.

You Are Incredibly Generous

You are very giving when it comes to money. And it doesn't go unnoticed.

Sharing the wealth makes you feel good, and you never want anyone to feel slighted by you.

As long as you can afford it, being so generous is a very good thing!

Other Fun Quizzes

AirAsia offering One Million Free Seats!

With the escalating cost of air-travel, more and more people are travelling by budget airlines, afterall it is just getting from Point A to Point B anyway.

AirAsia is again making a lot of travellers happy. They are giving away 1 million free seats but you will have to be quick and book your seat(s) by Aug 31. Travel window is between 1 April to 31 July of next year. Be forewarned though, it is just the seat that is free as you will still need to pay for surcharge, etc., etc. Still, the total cost is a lot cheaper than a full-service fare.

This offer applies for travel to Bangkok, Bali, Jakarta, Hong Kong, Ho Chi Minh, Phuket, Langkawi, Kota Kinabalu, Perth, Melbourne, Macau, Siem Reap, Guangzhou, Guilin, and many more.

See! 1,000,000 FREE SEATS!

I have heard stories and funny episodes of exorbitant prices for meals and refreshments when travelling budget, but will the future of budget travel go down to this horrendous level? I don't think so but you never know, right? Anyway, enjoy this, while it is still a hypothetical case.


Attendant: Welcome aboard Ala Carte Air, sir. May I see your ticket?

Passenger: Sure.

Attendant: You're in seat 12B. That will be $5, please!

Passenger: What for?

Attendant: For telling you where to sit.

Passenger: But I already knew where to sit.

Attendant: Nevertheless, we are now charging a seat locator fee of $5. It's the airline's new policy.

Passenger: That's the craziest thing I ever heard. I won't pay it.

Attendant: Sir, do you want a seat on this flight, or not?

Passenger: Yes, yes. All right, I'll pay. But the airline is going to hear about this.

Attendant: Thank you. My goodness, your carry-on bag looks heavy. Would you like me to stow it in the overhead compartment for you?

Passenger: That would be swell, thanks.

Attendant: No problem. Up we go, and done! That will be $10, please.

Passenger: What?

Attendant: The airline now charges a $10 carry-on assistance fee.

Passenger: This is extortion. I won't stand for it.

Attendant: Actually, you're right, you can't stand. You need to sit, and fasten your seat belt. We're about to push back from the gate. But, first I need that $10.

Passenger: No way!

Attendant: Sir, if you don't comply, I will be forced to call the air marshal. And you really don't want me to do that.

Passenger: Why not? Is he going to shoot me?

Attendant: No, but there's a $50 air-marshal hailing fee.

Passenger: Oh, all right, here, take the $10. I can't believe this.

Attendant: Thank you for your cooperation, sir. Is there anything else I can do for you?

Passenger: Yes. It's stuffy in here, and my overhead fan doesn't seem to work. Can you fix it?

Attendant: Your overhead fan is not broken, sir. Just insert two quarters into the overhead coin slot for the first five minutes.

Passenger: The airline is charging me for cabin air?

Attendant: Of course not, sir. Stagnant cabin air is provided free of charge. It's the circulating air that costs 50 cents.

Passenger: I don't have any quarters. Can you make change for a dollar?

Attendant: Certainly, sir! Here you go!

Passenger: But you've given me only three quarters for my dollar.

Attendant: Yes, there's a change making fee of 25 cents.

Passenger: For cryin' out loud. All I have left is a lousy quarter? What the heck can I do with this?

Attendant: Hang onto it. You'll need it later for the lavatory

Source of joke: Some unknown funny person

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Chinatown can be a food haven

Today's torrential rain must have been one of the heaviest these past few weeks. It was so bad that many parts of the city have been flooded. Even our Stormwater management and road tunnel (SMART) had to be closed for the flood waters to be diverted.

Rain is not all bad though. At least you can go downtown especially the Chinatown area without worrying about having too much carbon residues on your face. A friend swears each time she makes a trip to Chinatown, she comes away with nose blackheads. I don't know about her but I know Chinatown has lots of good food that has no equal in taste elsewhere.

Idiot in the other stall

Okay, let's start this Hump Day with a laugh. Better still, let's start it with the toilet. Oops!

And this one is a ceiling-mural with a message. Great piece of art, wouldn't you say? This is found in a smoking room in an IT firm in Mumbai.

Sources unknown

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Have you heard of Pet Furniture?

One thing good about the Mega Sale is that discounts apply almost across the board - malls and shops selling items from lights to drapery to furniture, clothes, electrical and electronics products, floor tiles, carpets, shoes and bags, watches, real plants and artificial flowers, and others.

The other day, I was at a furniture mall with a girlfriend who is looking into replacing her sofa set. The range of furniture they have is unbelievable, new and modern items alongside antique items. They even have furniture for pets which we were fascinated. We particular liked a pretty litter box which my girlfriend bought for a cousin who has a pet cat. No, she did not find the sofa set she was looking for.

No Lithium Battery allowed in Check-in Luggage

With China opening up to the world and hosting of the Olympics, visiting China these days involves going through more stringent measures. The latest being the ban on lithium batteries in check-in luggage. This came into effect last week - the copy of directive I received is dated Aug 21, 2008.

If you intend to visit China or if you are a frequent traveller to China, this information is for you.

To ensure flight security, the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) has released a new regulation which takes effect immediately.

1. No lithium battery products in passenger's check-in luggage.

2. Passengers allowed to carry onboard consumer electronics and appliance installed with lithium battery for personal usage, including watch, calculator, camera, video camera, laptop, mobile phone, etc. Each passenger can bring no more than two pieces backup battery with proper packing and short-cut protection.

Whatever the immigration requirements (partly for the sake of security), China is still a country to do business in and visit for leisure. At least when I am there, I know it is a place where it is safe and hopefully free of undesirable elements.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Closing ceremony of the Beijing Olympics - Aug 24

I feel the Beijing Olympics series will not be complete here without an entry on the Closing ceremony so below are some pictures from the Beijing2008 site. If you missed it, you can read the detailed summary here: The Closing Ceremony of the 2008 Olympic Games.

And of course, the Medal tally is important for some. A peek at the big winners:

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Medals of Olympic Games & London, host of the next Olympics

Well, like they say, time flies when you are having a good time. We are now at the tail-end of this world event. At 8pm tonight, most of us would be glued to the tv set witnessing the closing ceremony of this exciting, entertaining, memorable, record-breaking once-in-four-years sporting event. One thing for sure, man is getting faster and stronger, as evidenced by the many world records broken in this XXIX Olympiad.

What do the athletes have to show for it, or at least the three winners? The medals, of course, so thought a post on the Beijing Olympic Medals would sort of round up the series of the Beijing Olympics post. I am taking the easy way out by reproducing below the article from the English version of the Beijing2008 site.

These are the Beijing Olympic Medals, the reverse and the obverse sides. Besides metal, jade is also used. It is inlaid into the medal on the reverse side.

Reverse side of the Medals and Ribbons

Read the details here
(BEIJING, March 27) -- On the occasion of the 500-day countdown to the opening of the Beijing Olympic Games, the Organizing Committee for the Games of the XXIX Olympiad (BOCOG) unveiled the Games' medals.

BOCOG Executive Vice-President and chairman of the evaluation panel Jiang Xiaoyu attended the unveiling ceremony and delivered a speech at the Capital Museum on Tuesday.

The medals are designed with inspiration from "bi", China's ancient jade piece inscribed with dragon pattern. The medals, made of gold and jade, symbolize nobility and virtue and are embodiment of traditional Chinese values of ethics and honor.

The medals are 70mm in diameter and 6mm in thickness. On their obverse side, the medals adopt the standard design prescribed by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) -- a drawing that represents the winged goddess of victory Nike and Panathinaikos Arena, while on their reverse side, the medals are inlaid with jade with the Beijing Games emblem engraved in the metal centerpiece.

Noble and elegant, the medals are a blending of traditional Chinese culture and the Olympism. It gives the winners of the Games great honor and acclamation as recognition of their achievement.

The IOC has strict stipulation on the Olympic medals' material, identification, weight, size and drawing. The medals for the champion and the runner-up are made of pure silver, and the champion's medal must be plated with gold weighing not less than six grams each. For the first time jade is used for the Olympic medals. The design not only meets the IOC requirements, but also expresses praise and honor that the Chinese people cherish for the Olympic Spirit and the Olympic athletes.

In his speech, Jiang Xiaoyu said the Beijing 2008 Games medals will be a major part of the Olympic legacy for China. The design of the medals is a result of hard work and enthusiasm of many people. The medals, he said, embody strong Chinese style and elegant art, and are a harmonious combination of the Chinese culture with the Olympism, making them a vehicle to spread the Olympic Spirit and the concepts of the Beijing Games, as well as to showcase Chinese culture and arts, and the high levels of design and technology.

We might as well learn something about the History of the Summer Olympic Medals. Click on image to enlarge it.

While we are at it, take a look at these pretty babies, the recent Summer Olympic Medals

And these are the recent Winter Olympic Medals

To view the entire range of Olympic Medals, visit:

Let's enjoy the Closing Ceremony tonight, 8pm. Watch David Beckham kicking footballs from the top of a double-decker bus into the Beijing crowd as London celebrates the handing over of the Olympic Games.

** Why David Beckham(?) you might ask. The former England captain, played a key role in London's winning bid in Singapore three years ago.

And London will be full of festivities, being the host of the next Olympics. You can get an idea of what's happening where in the map below.

The British Red Arrows will do a flyby in celebration

Singer Leona Lewis is set to perform with

Led Zeppelin legend, Jimmy Page

performing a new version of Led Zeppelin’s Whole Lotta Love

Enjoy the Closing and see you in London in 2012!

Picture source of the bottom four pictures:

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Romance in the afterlife

This is the seventh month of the Lunar calendar, so tales are aplenty in the Chinese community, pertaining to the afterlife, and some could be quite bizarre, believe me.

As a child, I have heard of my grandmother telling about a couple getting married. What is unusual about it is that the two getting married were actually deceased. You might be interested to note that this is not an isolated case as this kind of event does happen in the Taoist/Buddhist society.

Recently, a family up north went through such a ritual.

Malaysia using Floating price mechanism for Fuel price

People are quick to react especially when it comes to cost-savings, which is a wise move, of course. Notice the almost empty gas station? This is a picture from The Star papers showing a petrol station in Petaling Jaya. Customers delayed refuelling their vehicles during the few hours before the price reduction came into effect. I refuelled on Wednesday night so I was not caught in this little shindig. Let me see, how much would I have where's my calculator? LOL!

The price of fuel reduced 15sen at midnight last night, from RM2.70 after a 78sen increase on June 4. RON97 now costs RM2.55 a litre while RON92 is now at RM2.40 a litre.

The Prime Ministrer, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, said in a statement yesterday the Cabinet decided to bring forward the “floating” price mechanism for fuel after considering the drop in global oil prices over the past few weeks as well as higher inflation in July.

The new prices were set after considering fuel prices between Aug 1 and Aug 21, and in view of the Government’s decision to set the subsidy at 30 sen a litre for RON97 and RON92, and 50 sen a litre for diesel. The PM assured the people that the petrol price would not exceed RM2.70 a litre for this year, even if the global market price went up. Did you catch the "for this year"? hmm... But then again, fuel price increase is going to be a part of our life, so brace yourself!
Abdullah (the PM) also expects the prices of goods to fall. But will they? I do not mean to be negative but as far as I can remember, there has never been an occasion where prices fall. Tell me I am wrong.

The people of Permatang Pauh are heading to vote in a by-election. Nothing extraordinary, of course, unless the opposition party candidate is former Deputy Prime Minister, Anwar Ibrahim. Malaysians probably have this event or Anwar to thank for for this petrol reduction sooner than later.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Friday Frolics: Inside the Room of Your Soul

I don't know about you but I am ready to wind down for the weekend and what better way than to start by doing a fun quiz. You, have fun too...And Happy Weekend!

What Your Soul Really Looks Like

You are a warm hearted and open minded person. It's easy for you to forgive and forget.

You are a grounded person, but you also leave room for imagination and dreams. Your feet may be on the ground, but your head is in the clouds.

You see yourself with pretty objective eyes. How you view yourself is almost exactly how other people view you.

Your near future is a lot like the present, and as far as you're concerned, that's a very good thing.

For you, love is all about caring and comfort. You couldn't fall in love with someone you didn't trust.

More Fun Quizzes here

Amanda Beard disses Michael Phelps

Olympians are human too, lest we forget. Do you think this is just a joke or do you think Amanda Beard should have apologised to Michael Phelps? What do you think?

View the video and share your thoughts.

Dollhouses.... I like

This is a pretty house, don't you think? Named the Beacon Hill, it has seven rooms and two hallways that are large enough to furnish as rooms, plus three fireplaces, three bay windows, and a winding staircase adding to its elegance.

Here is the twist. Beacon Hill is not a real house. It is a dollhouse.

These days, dolls and dollhouses can easily be ordered online. Look, even Garfield has such a pretty house.

And I sure would love to own this Tudor dollhouse with its movable partitions to create up to nine large rooms and six beautiful bay windows to make it look spacious and bright inside.

What was that? Big girls don't play with dollhouses? hmm..

Michael Phelps - the 8-gold medallist

No talk about the Beijing Olympics is complete without a mention of Michael Phelps. This American swimmer and 14-time Olympic gold medalist (the most by any Olympian), currently holds seven world records in swimming.

He holds the record for the most gold medals won at a single Olympics; a total of eight, surpassing Mark Spitz at the Munich Olympics in 1972. Overall, Phelps has won 16 Olympic medals: six gold and two bronze at Athens in 2004, and eight gold at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. That is how amazing he is.

At age 15, Phelps competed at the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, becoming the youngest American male swimmer at an Olympic Games in 68 years. While he did not win a medal, he did make the finals and was fifth in the 200 m Butterfly. Five months after the Sydney Olympics, Phelps broke the world record in the 200 m butterfly to become, at 15 years and 9 months, the youngest man ever to set a swimming world record.

Why do you think Michael Phelps swims so well? Wikipedia notes that he has five physical attributes particularly suit Phelps to swimming:

- his long, thin torso (low drag in the water),
- arms which span 6 feet 7 inches (201 cm) (long,
- powerful, propulsive "paddles") disproportionate to his height of 6 feet 4 inches (193 cm),
- relatively short legs (lower drag, and perhaps the speed enhancement of a hydrofoil),
- coupled to size 14 feet (providing the effect of flippers) by hypermobile ankles he can extend beyond the pointe of a ballet dancer, enabling him to whip his feet (as if they were fins, for maximum thrust through [if not over] the water).

Have you ever wondered about the amount of food he eats to see him through his rigorous regimen? Phelps eats around 12,000 calories each day, or about five times more than the average adult male.

Phelps earns $5 million annually in endorsements from his sponsors, Speedo, Visa, Omega and PowerBar. For winning eight gold medals at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, he receives a $1 million bonus from swimsuit maker, Speedo.

P.S. His coach, Bob Bowman, said this of him, besides other good comments. "He's unbelievably kind-hearted", recounting Phelps' interaction with young children after practices.

For more information on Michael Phelps head on over to Wikipedia.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Madrid Air Disaster and others

Good morning! What's so good about the morning, some might ask. I am in the mood this morning....

It is 10:06am right now and the heavens are crying torrents, probably for those who perished so faraway in Madrid where the count stands at 153 dead and 19 survivors, two of whom are infants. CNN reported that the severity of the injuries varies, but many of the injured have been treated for burns. The aircraft MD-82 Spanair Flight JK5022 was carrying 172 people. The flight was bound for Las Palmas in the Canary Islands, two hours away.

Tropical rain in this part of the world is not unusual but of late weather patterns have been chaotic - we get rains when we are not supposed to and the intensity or frequency is baffling. This is the seventh month of the Lunar calendar where rains fall but they are not supposed to be in torrents. It was mostly drizzles in previous times. The world weather is indeed changing.

Elsewhere in Florida, Tropical storm Fay, is creating havoc causing floods and much havoc. The US National Hurricane Center said it could dump 30 inches of rain in some areas of the state.

And at the local front, at the fierce rate the rain is coming down, parts of Kuala Lumpur city might already be flooded. Perhaps a good time to put the SMART to the test afterall it is the Stormwater Management and Road Tunnel, is it not?

When it comes to flooding, some of us here do not have it good. During the rainy season, a friend of a colleague had to rush home each time her home was invaded by flood waters. She lives in the Kampong Bharu area. Yet another had to board a sampan (boat) to the main road everytime the place got flooded. That was some years back, not sure if the area is still a flood zone.

Arghhh!! There is too much bad news in the world but for Malaysians there might be a glimmer of hope? Our Prime Minister in today's papers announced that he will not be announcing the new fuel price until August 31. The new price will come into effect Sep 1. The people are hopeful of a reduced rate. What do you think?

How do you like this image? Rather cute, don't you think? Even Twitter was down this morning when I tried to log in. If you are familiar with Twitter, this is the image that shows up when it is over capacity and is down for a break. The whale needs rescuing.

Hey! The rain has stopped or reduced drastically to a drizzle. Blue skies ahead, I hope. I read that Beijing's efforts at improving air quality are paying off. Bravo!

Before I bore you any further, let me leave you with this quote from a tweet from Little Buddha:

"Everytime you smile at someone, it is an action of love, a gift to that person, a beautiful thing." ~Mother Teresa

So, keep smiling, people! And have a happy day!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

(Datuk) Lee Chong Wei

Malaysia's Beijing Olympics silver medallist, Lee Chong Wei, is back in town. There will be a special ceremony to be held at his home state in Penang tonight, in which he would be presented with a cheque for RM300,000 and a monthly pension of RM3,000.

That is not all, on August 30, Lee will be conferred the Darjah Setia Pangkuan Negeri (DSPN) which carries the title Datuk, by the Yang di-Pertua Negri Tun Abdul Rahman Abbas. The DSPN, instituted in 1976 and limited to 800 living persons, is conferred on individuals of high position who have contributed unique and valuable services to the state.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

L'Oreal Great Sale - Sat, Aug 23 at Parkroyal Kuala Lumpur

If you are low on L'Oreal products and thinking about topping up stocks, head on over to this sale. There is Lancome, Biotherm, Ralph Lauren, Armani, Cacharel, Guy Laroche, and Shu Uemura too. No, I do not have vested interest other than being a customer, maybe. Happy Shopping!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Ordinary Miracle - Sarah McLachlan

Thought I'd post a video today. Was going through YouTube to find a replacement for Coldplay's Yellow which has overstayed a little, I think. LOL!

I Will Remember You (sidebar) is up now and thought I'd post here another song by Sarah McLachlan. This lovely song, Ordinary Miracle, is from the movie, Charlotte's Web starring Dakota Fanning and you've gotta love Wilbur, the piglet. Check out the video!

Sarah's song from Charlotte's Web:

It's not that usual when everything is beautiful
It's just another ordinary miracle today

The sky knows when its time to snow
You don't need to teach a seed to grow
It's just another ordinary miracle today

Life is like a gift they say
Wrapped up for you everyday
Open up and find a way
To give some of your own

Isn't it remarkable?
Like every time a raindrop falls
It's just another ordinary miracle today

Birds in winter have their fling
And always make it home by spring
It's just another ordinary miracle today

When you wake up everyday
Please don't throw your dreams away
Hold them close to your heart
Cause we are all a part
Of the ordinary miracle

Ordinary miracle
Do you want to see a miracle?

It seems so exceptional
That things just work out after all
It's just another ordinary miracle today

The sun comes up and shines so bright
It disappears again at night
It's just another ordinary miracle today

Ooohh Oooohh

It's just another ordinary miracle today

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Have you been to a Two-Dollar Shop?

Whenever I get the chance, I like to visit those Dollar stores. Over here they are not called dollar stores but rather Two-dollar shops because all their items are priced below two ringgit, to be exact RM1.99. Somehow, Malaysians are still stuck with Dollar even though our currency is now the Ringgit. With the one-cent denomination no longer legal tender and the introduction of the round-up or round-down to the nearest five sen, I wonder why do these stores still bother with the .99sen price-tag. Research says 1.99 is more attractive than 2.00. Interesting human psyche.

Have you been to any of these stores? You can sometimes pick up some useful items here, and for just RM1.99. A friend who usually arranges kids parties for her nieces and nephews loves to shop at these stores. She can get great games prizes here. But for variety, she shops online for promotional items though she has to order them at least a month ahead of the party in order to get them in time.

A Visit to Halong Bay

There is talk that petrol price in Malaysia will go down next month. Oil price has gone down to $111 leading to prices of food going down too in the US. Gold price has also gone down from a high of $1000 to less than $786 right now.

Lots of other things are going south too, housing prices, as well as the economy slow-down in Europe. One thing that has not slowed down is travel. People are still travelling primarily due to the attraction travel deals offer. It is still summer and still plenty of time to take in going places. Talk about going places, Halong Bay in Vietnam is one place I would like to visit.

Did you know that Halong Bay is a World Heritage site?

Lee Chong Wei through to the Finals

On Saturday evening, most Malaysians would have been geared to the tv (whether at home, at their friend's or at a mamak stall) watching Malaysian shuttler, Lee Chong Wei, in the semi-finals against South Korea's Lee Hyun-il.

Picture source: The Star
If Lee Chong Wei wins, he would move on to the finals making him the first Malaysian shuttler to have reached the finals at the Olympics. A win would also assure Malaysia of a medal making him the first Malaysian Olympics medallist since 1996.

Second seed, Lee Chong Wei, went on to win the semi-finals.

Tonight, at 8:48pm, he will be playing top seed, China's Lin Dan, in the finals. If he wins, Lee Chong Wei will go down in Malaysian history books as the first gold medallist at the Olympics. All Malaysia will be watching him and rooting for him to win tonight.

Will you be watching the game?

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Do you believe there is Bigfoot?

Saturday mornings used to be pleasant and musical with the neighbour's daughter practising on the piano. She must have been at a higher grade because the pieces she played were complicating... and very nice pieces too. Yes, she used to brighten up Saturday mornings. Unfortunately, her music no longer fills the air since she moved out.

We have a different kind of 'music' now. This morning another neighbour was exercising her lungs yelling at the monkeys. We have monkeys in the neighbourhood and they do mess up the place, littering and destroying plants. They must have irked the neighbour so much to have her filling this Saturday morning with her chiding.

From one primate to another, do you believe in the existence of Bigfoot? Of late, there has been a lot of hype of this upright-walking 7-footer and their sightings. Some months back, it was even reported to be sighted in Johore. None was found. I find it hard to believe that Bigfoot would be found here, in Malaysia? We may have gorillas but Bigfoot? Nah!!

Recently, a pair of Bigfoot-hunting hobbyists from north Georgia say they found the creature's body in a wooded area and spotted several similar creatures that were still alive. A photograph on that group's Web site shows what appears to be the body of a large, hairy creature with an ape-like face, stuffed into a large freezer. Here is that picture.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Friday Frolics - The Priority Test

Woh! This one makes me out to be a sex maniac. lol
Yeah, I probably need it to alleviate my headaches. :p

Of course, we all know what we want in life or what tops our priorities. Here is a fun quiz that might tell you otherwise. Find out whether what it says here matches what you place importance on. Be surprised!

What's Important to Happysurfer... And What Isn't

For you, sex is usually your number one priority.

You don't mind having things to get done... as long as they don't pile up on you.

Your most important priorities get your attention. You are happily able to let the less important things slide.

You want thinking to be a high priority, but you don't take enough time for yourself.

More Fun Quizzes

Thursday, August 14, 2008

McConaughey to plant son's placenta in orchard

I have heard of people burying their dead cat or burying sugar under a fruit tree so that it will bear sweet fruits. This latest is a new one to me what actor, Mathew McConaughey is planning to do.

I read on MSN that Mr McConaughey plans to plant his son's placenta from the July birth in an orchard. That's what he told CNN in an interview. McConaughey says he hopes it will fertilize the land, a ritual long followed in several cultures.

"It's going to be in the orchards and it's going to bear some wonderful fruit," he says, according to an interview transcript. "When I was in Australia, they had a placenta tree that was on the river ... and all the placentas of all that tribe, all that clan, whatever aboriginal tribe that was, all the placentas went under that one tree and it was this huge behemoth of just health and strength.

"This tree was just growing taller and stronger above the rest of Mother Nature around it. It was gorgeous."

His son is named Levi Alves McConaughey, the mother being Camilla Alves.

The trend in the West these days is to name the child with both the parents' last names or surnames as we call them here. Would this ever happen in the Chinese culture? What do you think?

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Hungry Ghost Festival - Seventh month of the lunar calendar

After the last episode of Two Weddings and A Birthday, I did not expect another round of something similar so soon. Was I wrong!

I attended a wedding dinner last weekend and another coming up this weekend. As for the birthday, celebrated one two weeks back. So, all that make up the same quota of two weddings and a birthday. LOL! No regrets though because they are all happy occasions and wonderful to get to meet up with friends and relatives.

August is a happening month, what with the Beijing Olympics and the number 8 significance. However, for the Chinese community, August this year, is not such an auspicious month because it is actually the seventh month of the lunar calendar.

Seventh month is also known as the Ghost Month or Hungry Ghost Festival where it is believed that the gates of hell open for the spirits to come to Earth, the human/living realm - which account for marriages, engagements, house-moving activities not scheduled in the Chinese community. One is advised during this seventh month to be extra careful especially on the road. People who are very sick are also wary of this month. It is believed that there are more deaths during this time of the year than any other month. KL had a fatal accident on the highway on the very first day of the seventh month.

This is the time of the year too where Chinese of the Taoist/Buddhist faith make offerings to their ancestors by way of buring incense and joss paper of neccessities and luxury items to ease their life in the afterlife. These papier-mache form of material items such as money, clothes, gold and silver mountains, mahjong sets, common luxury items such as tv sets, video recorders, camcorders, cameras, and these days, cable tv, laptops, you name it. Sometimes, even maids and chauffeurs are offered but they are usually offered during the funeral.

Some of us may wonder whether all this is true. A colleague once had a dream of her deceased mom telling her that she did not have enough to wear. My colleague sent her mom some clothes. She did not get that dream again.

Yet another lady had a dream that her MIL complained that she did not allow adequate time for her and her 'friends' to eat the food before they were removed. From then on, more time was given.

In addition to making offerings to ones own ancestors, some people also make offerings of (actual) food, money and clothes in addition to incense to stray spirits. This is done outside their home, by the roadside during dusk. This exercise is usually performed on either the fourteenth or fifteenth day of the seventh month, i.e., this Thursday and Friday. This would mean that there would be extra activity on these two days. Children are normally kept indoors when this activity is going on lest they come into contact with any spirit and fall ill.

On a business/community scale, there would be a lavish mass-offering of incense, money, and real food (roast pig included) in honour of the spirits. There would also be a stage set up for a show. For those in the know, the front rows are normally not occupied, leaving the seats for the VIPs (the spirits) - remember this activity is in honour of the spirits. This event or festival is to thank the spirits for a good past year and seek their blessing for the coming year.

In the old days, the stage was for opera shows but in recent times, the opera has been replaced by concerts (singing only) though there are still some opera shows but not enough to go around. Sadly, opera is a dying artform here in Malaysia.

So, be extra careful this seventh month, the last day being Aug 30. My non-Chinese colleagues are believers and they would normally ask the Chinese to remind them when this month comes around. They would keep their children at home before dusk.

Do you believe in ghosts (click this to read some real-life experiences) and the afterlife? Care to share your thoughts and experiences?

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

15 Reasons Why women should not take men shopping against their will

Why don't men like shopping like ladies? I am generalising, of course.

My girlfriends would rather leave their boyfriends and husbands at home than to have them tag along. They said it is exasperating to see them so restless out of boredom. Shopping to a man is simple, almost effortless, but for a lady, it's a totally different story. Tell me about it! LOL!

An email I received explains why women should not take men shopping against their will. Read on...

After I retired, my wife insisted that I accompany her on her trips to Wal-mart. Unfortunately, like most men, I found shopping boring and preferred to get in and get out.

Equally unfortunately, my wife is like most women - - she loved to browse. Yesterday my dear wife received the following letter from the local Wal-Mart.

Dear Mrs. Samsel,

Over the past six months, your husband has been causing quite a commotion in our store. We cannot tolerate this behavior and have been forced to ban both of you from the store. Our complaints against Mr. Samsel are listed below and are documented by our video surveillance cameras.

1. June 15: Took 24 boxes of condoms and randomly put them in people's carts when they weren't looking.

2 . July 2 : Set all the alarm clocks in House wares to go off at 5-minute intervals.

3. July 7: Made a trail of tomato juice on the floor leading to the women's restroom.

4. July 19: Walked up to an employee and told her in an official voice, 'Code 3 in Housewares. Get on it right away.'

5. August 4: Went to the Service Desk and tried to put a bag of M&M's on layaway.

6. August 14: Moved a 'CAUTION - WET FLOOR' sign to a carpeted area.

7. August 15: Set up a tent in the camping department and told other shoppers he'd invite them in if they would bring pillows and blankets from the bedding department.

8. August 23: When a clerk asked if they could help him he began crying and screamed, 'Why can't you people just leave me alone?'

9. September 4: Looked right into the security camera and used it as a mirror while he picked his nose.

10. September 10: While handling guns in the hunting department, he asked the clerk where the antidepressants were.

11. October 3: Darted around the store suspiciously while loudly humming the 'Mission Impossible' theme.

12. October 6: In the auto department, he practiced his 'Madonna look' by using different sizes of funnels.

13. October 18: Hid in a clothing rack and when people browsed through, yelled 'PICK ME! PICK ME!'

14. October 21: When an announcement came over the loud speaker, he assumed a fetal position and screamed 'OH NO! IT'S THOSE VOICES AGAIN!'

And last, but not least.

15. October 23: Went into a fitting room, shut the door, waited awhile, then yelled very loudly, 'Hey! There's no toilet paper in here.'

Tom Richards
Walmart Manager

Beijing Olympics Opening Ceremony

I know, I am behind on this post. Bear with me while I document this historical event, the Opening Ceremony of the Summer Beijing Olympics.

Last Friday, 8 August 2008, (080808) almost everyone in my office left early to catch the 8:00pm Opening Ceremony of the XXIX Olympiad held in Beijing, China.

Once in a while we get to witness something spectacular and this Opening Ceremony must have topped the rest so far. It was an awesome show of tradition and technology combined.

Every bit of the Opening Ceremony was mesmerising, from the fireworks to the human great wall to the dancers to the drummers and their luminous drumsticks, Li Ning running to light the torch, the whole enchilada! Did anyone hear it being mentioned that the aerial shots of the footsteps and fireworks leading to the stadium were computer generated? Well, they were, but who cares! They add to the spectacular experience, didn't they?

The Games will be from August 8 to 24.

Most if not all of you would have watched the show so I won't bore you with my account but instead point you to a more interesting article from NBC.

Posted Friday, August 8, 2008 9:38 AM ET
BEIJING - On the eighth day of the eighth month of the eighth year of the millennium, China welcomed the world to the 29th Olympiad with a blockbuster opening ceremony that launched arguably the most anticipated and assuredly the most controversial Games in modern Olympic history.

Amid the roar of fireworks and elaborate tributes to China's 5,000-year-old civilization, athletes from 204 nations - of 205 - marched into Olympic Stadium, the steel-girded Birds' Nest, before dignitaries that included President Bush, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Hu Jintao. Only Brunei proved a no-show, failing Friday to register even one athlete.

Continue reading Games open on a Beijing high

Since I am documenting this sports milestone, I will have to include some memorable pictures. These photographs are from the NBC gallery of the Opening Ceremony of the Beijing Olympics.

The Olympic rings


Another view of the drummers and the luminous drumsticks.

Fireworks over the National Stadium, also known as the Bird's Nest

View of the fireworks from inside the National Stadium


The Chinese flag is paraded into the National Stadium, carried by children in traditional costumes of the tribes in China.

Fireworks light up the sky over the National Aquatics Center (L) - nicknamed the Cube, and the National Stadium - Bird's Nest

A welcome message display on the stadium roof while the drummers were performing

The torch is lit during the end of the Opening Ceremony

A family watches the fireworks in Tiananmen Square

People watch the broadcast of the Opening Ceremony

Source: NBC