Saturday, June 30, 2012

DNA testing is more useful than most people can imagine

Like a medical test, DNA testing, including a paternity test, can tell a lot about a person. For most of us, DNA testing is just another term, doesn't mean much but for those who have a need for such a test, the results could mean a world of difference.

For instance, there was a man who has been incarcerated for 35 years and was finally able to celebrate Christmas with his family after DNA tests proved his innocence. This is just one of many such cases.

A DNA test is accessible, affordable, and can answer important questions about identity and family relationships.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Friday Frolics - A Practical Example Of How The Mind Works

We will do a different kind of frolicking this Friday. Take a look at the picture below. The source says it is possible to analyse what it represents to some groups of people.

Ready? Go!

Done? And now for the analysis..

- For young men, it's a nice ass. Only the most observant Will define this as an arse crossing the street. The really observant will see the thong.

- For older men, it is a respectable woman with a nice arse Crossing the street.

- The perverts will imagine her as a naked woman.

- The wise men will ponder the presence of mind of the photographer. In the face of such beauty and gratitude that it was Shared with humanity.

- For half of the women, this is an ordinary woman - Who should not have left home dressed that way.

- The other half is wondering where she bought that blouse.

- The wise women imagine the misery that this will be at 50.

- Children, the curious, and monks - Will probably Notice a dog driving the taxi.

Me? I saw the thong first thing (and I'm a woman! Gosh!). You?

Source: From an email but possibly from Yahoo!

Italy beat Germany to advance to the final

Oh shoot! Germany vs Italy semifinal match - What an upset! I've lost on my prediction for Germany to be in the finals with Spain. The hunch in my comment in the previous post could come true now - that Balotelli could be the one with the broadest grin at the end of the day. This is in reference to Italy beating Spain in the finals on July 1. Incidentally, the two goals for Italy were put in by Balotelli at the 20' and 36' marks.

So, the UEFA Euro 2012 finals will be between Spain and Italy. After looking at how both teams played in the semifinals, I'm inclined to think that Italy may win the title. Well, left to be seen on July 1. What do you think and who are you rooting for?

Image source:

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Spain in the UEFA Euro 2011 Finals

Spain it is! I am still on track on my prediction that Spain will be in the finals.

Scoreline: 4-2 on penalties (exactly like England vs Italy)

Will it be Germany or Italy joining Spain in the finals? Your thoughts?

Image source: Google search

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Portugal vs Spain Semifinal UEFA Euro 2012

In case you'd like to stay up to catch the semifinal match between Portugal and Spain, below is the timing:

It's at 2:45am Malaysia time.

Portugal vs Spain. Where are you putting your money..

Enjoy the game.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Push presents for Dads

Times they sure are a-changing. Two new fathers in the office are busy looking out for gifts for their wives after the birth of their babies, both baby girls. I see this as a new trend and a positive one, I might add. (New babies was the topic of discussion at this morning's breakfast table and inevitably pregnancies and confinement taboos were also covered. Lots of insights were shared.)

Nowadays, shops offer many choices when it comes to push presents for dads and they need not necessarily be expensive gifts. Take for instance this Majorica baroque pearl drop pendant + earrings set which is priced at $179.95 but is now at a much-reduced price of $99.99! There are lots more other gift choices where these came from. So, dads, you have a lot of choices.

Monday, June 25, 2012

England vs Italy Quarterfinals, 0-0, but..

Awshucks! England is out in the England vs Italy quarterfinals this morning. Italy will play Germany in the semifinals. The other pair of semifinalists is Spain and Portugal. The schedule of games is as below:
(Click to enlarge image)

As mentioned earlier in the Will it be England or Italy in the UEFA Euro 2012 semifinals post, my prediction of Germany and Spain in the finals is still good. Is the team or teams you picked still in the running?

Wayne Rooney and his dejected England team-mates come to terms with another loss on penalties, after being beaten 4-2 by Italy in the shootout in Kiev. Photograph: Filippo Monteforte/AFP/Getty Images -

Commercial general liability insurance for your business

Insurance is often under-rated in this part of the world, be it health, life, or business insurance. Auto insurance is mandatory, however, if one owns a vehicle and a roadtax permit can only be issued with a valid insurance coverage.

If you own a business, an important thing to do is to sign up for a commercial general liability insurance. What does this insurance do? Commercial general liability insurance protects your business from common liabilities and this is the only way to protect your assets and yourself as it covers claims of bodily injury or other physical injury or property damage. For example, this insurance protects you if a customer is injured at your place of business. It would also cover damage or injuries caused by your employees at a client's site.

As a business faces liabilities everyday, having a commercial general liability insurance is the first line of defense against many common claims. Be a wise entrepreneur, sign up for this insurance. You would be glad you did.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Dumpling Day or Duanwu Festival

On Saturday (yesterday), the Chinese community celebrated Duanwu Festival or commonly known here as Dumpling Day.

The festival occurs on the 5th day of the 5th month of the Chinese lunar calendar thus this festival is also referred to as Double Fifth festival. On the Gregorian calendar, the date varies from year to year. Last year, the festival was celebrated on June 6 while this year, on June 23.

The Duanwu Festival originated in China and has recently been gazetted a public holiday in China though not here in Malaysia. Rice dumplings are the main food of this festival. Racing dragon boats which derived from the legend/origin of zòngzi (dumplings in Mandarin) is also associated with this festival. You can read the origin of the Duanwu Festival here.

In Malaysia, this festival is still in practice and is one of the major Chinese festivals still observed as a custom in traditional Chinese homes. In Buddhist/Taoist homes, celebrating a major festival like this Duanwu Festival involves making special offerings to deities and ancestors of a variety of food, lighting special jossticks and candles as well as burning of joss-paper, the latter to ancestors. The family gathers for a grander-than-usual meal, mainly dinner.

Image source: Wikipedia

Related posts:
Happy Duanwu Festival or Dumpling Day! - June 12, 2013
Dumpling Day - A Chinese festival - June 6, 2011

Trumpet mouthpiece

I was at a mall the other day and saw a bunch of happy, smiling kids coming out of a music shop/school. There is something to be said about kids coming out from a music class vis-a-vis kids coming out from a tuition class. The former group has a lighthearted look on their faces, while kids from the latter group have stressed-out looks. I guess, music lightens a person and studies don't(?)

Talk about music, for a music illiterate, I never knew that there are different trumpet mouthpieces for different jobs until I stumbled on an article that says so.

Shopping for a trumpet mouthpiece is a personal choice, of course, but the article notes that most musicians are playing with the wrong mouthpiece for the style of music they are playing. Only the experts will know.

Will it be England or Italy in the UEFA Euro 2012 semifinals

Three teams out, one to go. Tonight's or rather tomorrow's match Malaysia time, between England and Italy will determine who will be playing Germany in the semifinals. This match will be played on June 29 morning (2:45am Malaysia time).

With Spain's win over France (2-0) this morning, Spain will be up against Portugal in the other semifinal.

My prediction of Germany and Spain in the finals is still good.

Image sources:
- Google search

Tor-tor dance and Gordang Sambilan to be part of Malaysian heritage

Malaysians are made up of many cultures, Chinese, Indian, Sikh, Malay and the latter is again subdivided into various cultures including those from Indonesia, i.e., Minangkabau, Bugis, Javanese, Sunda, Kalimantan and Pontianak, Mandaling, etc.

Recently, Malaysia gazetted as national heritage the Mandailing community’s Tor-tor dance and the Gordang Sambilan (nine great drumbeats). This has outraged some groups in Indonesia resulting in protests at the Malaysian embassy in Jakarta.

The protests worsened last Friday as several sections of the Malaysia Hall building were damaged by large stones hurled by about 50 rioters.

According to The Star/Bernama,

Non-governmental organisation Pancasila Youths, who earlier torched the Malaysian flag and hurled eggs in the compound of the Malaysian Embassy in Kuningan after Friday prayers, headed for Malaysia Hall in Jalan Hos Cokroaminoto, Menteng and began acting more violently.

At Malaysia Hall, they attacked a security guard, who sustained slight injuries, threw large stones and pieces of wood which shattered the warden's windows, apart from damaging the main gate and messing up the windows by hurling eggs.

The stones thrown by the rioters also damaged the front roof of Malaysia Hall.

Malaysia Information, Communications and Culture Minister, Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim, said every community was entitled to the freedom to adopt its culture of origin and the Tor-tor dance and gendang besar (great drum) were not owned by anybody, as stated in the Geneva Convention.

“The United Nations guarantees freedom to a community to adopt their original culture and way of life,” he said when commenting on the Indonesian media protest over his proposal to gazette the Mandailing’s dance and drumbeat as national heritage.

“The people of Malaysia, who inherited original cultures of the archipelago for decades and centuries, deserve to maintain their culture of origin.


Let's leave politics to the politicians and take a look at what the Tor-tor dance and the Gordang Sambilan (nine great drumbeats) are all about.

Tari tortor batak (Indonesian dance)

Traditional Drum of Mandailing Culture (GORDANG SAMBILAN)

Friday, June 22, 2012

Friday Frolics - The Zen Rock Test

Here's a simple test this week, the Zen Rock Test. See what it says about you.

Happy Friday, everyone!

You Are Modest

You are a team player, and you like to make valuable contributions to the group.

Compromise comes easily to you, and you're willing to work hard to get the job done.

You are a peacemaker. You are very uncomfortable with conflict and confrontation.

You are highly observant and in tune with your surroundings. You like to blend in.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

UEFA Euro 2012 Quarterfinals

The football saga continues, the UEFA Euro 2012, that is. After weeks of the group stage, we now come to the last eight teams, the Quarterfinals. Did you get your guesses right as to which country team would come through?

Below is the schedule for the Quarterfinals. Click on image to enlarge.

Which team are you rooting for? What's your guess for the two finalists? Me? I'm behind England but I think the finalists will boil down to Germany and Spain with Spain winning the title. Your thoughts?

Monday, June 18, 2012

What's Up - 4 Non Blondes

This probably is a good number for a Monday.. Enjoy! And I've got lyrics accompanying, in case..

What's Up
Twenty-five years I'm alive here still
Trying to get up that great big hill of hope
For a destination

I realized quickly when I knew I should
That the world was made up of this brotherhood of man
For whatever that means

And so I cry sometimes
When I'm lying in bed Just to get it all out
What's in my head
And I, I am feeling a little peculiar.

And so I wake in the morning
And I step outside
And I take a deep breath and I get real high
And I scream from the top of my lungs
What's going on?

And I say: HEY! yeah yeaaah, HEY yeah yea
I said hey, what's going on?

And I say: HEY! yeah yeaaah, HEY yeah yea
I said hey, what's going on?

ooh, ooh ooooooooooooooooh
ooh, ooh ooooooooooooooooh

and I try, oh my god do I try
I try all the time, in this institution

And I pray, oh my god do I pray
I pray all sanctity
For a revolution.

And so I cry sometimes
When I'm lying in bed
Just to get it all out
What's in my head
And I, I am feeling a little peculiar

And so I wake in the morning
And I step outside
And I take a deep breath and I get real high
And I scream from the top of my lungs
What's going on?

And I say, hey hey hey hey
I said hey, what's going on?

And I say, hey hey hey hey
I said hey, what's going on?

And I say, hey hey hey hey
I said hey, what's going on?

And I say, hey hey hey hey
I said hey, what's going on?

ooh, ooh ooooooooooooooooh ooooooooooooooooh

Twenty-five years I'm alive here still
Trying to get up that great big hill of hope
for a destination
mmm mm

Candies for my Candy jar

Dont't these look pretty! All that glitters is not gold, they say. But these are gold coins, gold coin chocolates, that is.

When was the last time you had one of these chocolate gold coins? They bring back childhood memories, don't they? I don't see them around here these days, do you?

All is not lost though as they are still around and they don't cost a limb at Cheap Candy.

And how about these candies? Critter candies they are called. I haven't tasted one of these but would be worth a try. These would make great candies too for my candy jar on my desk.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Happy Father's Day!

To all fathers out there..

I wish you laughter,
And I wish you joy.
I wish you true love,
lasting friendships and golden memories.
I wish you peace...
I wish you goodness, goodwill and kindness.

I wish you all the happiness in the world,
For now, and Always!


Of Haze and Guitars..

With all that haze, life goes on. It has to. I have yet to see anyone outdoors with a mask on though. Maybe I was a little too optimistic in my earlier post about the rain washing away the haze, the rain has stopped!

A visiting colleague is venturing out today visiting his local luthier, one who makes stringed musical instruments. This luthier in Kuala Lumpur makes guitars. You didn't know we have such expertise here locally, didn't you?

Talk about guitars, I didn't know Jackson Guitars come in such a wide range of models and accompanying prices.

One can even buy a Jackon guitar online for as low as $200! This range includes the Jackson JS22R Dinky Electric Guitar, Jackson JS23 Dinky Electric Guitar and the Jackson JS32T King V Electric Guitar. I should think these would be great for someone starting out on guitar playing. These guitars offer the best in materials, workmanship, and value.

On the other extreme, there is the Jackson 30th Anniversary RR5FR Rhoads Electric Guitar with a price-tag of $4,400. This guitar is a limited run signature model that fans of metal are sure to love! Only 30 of these were made available worldwide. This is an exact replica of the one of the first five Jackson Guitars produced.

Haze situation in Kuala Lumpur/Malaysia - June 17

Oh goodie, it's raining just as I'm posting this.

Authorities are stepping up vigilance nationwide against the haze that is expected to worsen in the next few days if rain doesn't fall. I sure hope the rain falls down heavy enough to clear the haze and we can see the bright yellow of the sun again instead of an orange/red ball in the sky.

Red balloon: A boy playing in the late after noon with the sun clearly seen as a red ball near Sungai Buloh on Friday - The Star.

A blanket ban on open burning in Selangor, Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya has been imposed by the Department of Environment (DOE). The Malaysian Medical Association is also advising the public on how to deal with the haze and outpatient departments at government hospitals have been directed to be on alert as respiratory and eye problems are expected to rise with the return of the haze.

The Education Ministry indicated that schools will be closed once the Air Pollutant Index (API) in their area reaches 400 while all sporting and outdoor activities will be cancelled once the API hits the “hazardous” level of 300.

The DOE classifies API readings of between 0 and 50 as Good, 51-100 as Moderate, 101-200 as Unhealthy, 201-300 as Very Unhealthy, and more than 301 as Hazardous.

Anyone convicted of open burning will be fined up to RM500,000 or jailed up to five years or both. A maximum compound of RM2,000 may also be meted out, according to the DOE.

Image Source: The Star..Haze at unhealthy levels in Klang Valley with worse to come

Related post:
The Haze is back in Kuala Lumpur - unhealthy air quality

Radiohead concert cancelled in Toronto

I just read that a concert by the British rock band, Radiohead, was canceled after the roof of an outdoor stage collapsed during sound checks and rehearsals before the show on Saturday. The mishap killed one person and injured three others, police and fire officials said.

Police said the band was not on stage at the time, and members of the group were not believed to have been involved in the accident, which occurred at about 4 p.m. local time at Downsview Park, about 5 miles north of downtown Toronto.

Staging an outdoor concert is a massive task which involves among others safety and security factors. The strictest standards are taken for an incident-free event with preparations including sound system, electrical wirings, the correct type of wiring loom, the stage arrangement, props, backstage support systems, and so forth. Success of any event depends on attention to details and the highest standards in overall planning and execution. What happened back there is most unfortunate.

Friday, June 15, 2012

The Haze is back in Kuala Lumpur - unhealthy air quality

Check out Haze update for June 2013

Oh dear, the haze is back in Kuala Lumpur and surrounding areas. The air is filled with an acrid smell of smoke and people in the office are complaining about smarting eyes even indoors.

According to the Department of Environment's Air Pollutant Index (API), Kuala Selangor recorded a level of 131, followed by Port Klang (130) and Shah Alam (106).

A blanket of haze seen over Klang town, at 11.30am this morning. Klang town is located about 32 km to the west of Kuala Lumpur and 6 km east of Port Klang.

The Star
reported that:
API readings of between 101 and 200 are deemed unhealthy, while normal air quality is 50 and below.

Moderate air quality was recorded in 32 areas along the west coast, including Seri Manjung (94) in Perak, Cheras (91) in Kuala Lumpur (91) and Petaling Jaya (85).

It is believed the hazy conditions were caused by the current dry spell and hot spots in Sumatra.

Image source: The Star

Friday Frolics - The Park Test

A park is a great place to get back to nature and appreciate the beauty and freshness it offers. Over here in Kuala Lumpur there are a number of parks that offer some quietness and greenery for city-dwellers to get away to from the concrete jungle and hustle-bustle of daily living.

Here's a Park Test that is able to tell something about your personality. Take the quiz to know a little bit more about yourself.

Happy Friday, everyone, though the park is not a recommended place right now in the Klang Valley as the haze is apparently back in Kuala Lumpur and many parts of the peninsula. I can't see clearly now..

You Are as Free as the Wind

You are gracious and good-natured. You are big-hearted and genial with everyone.

You have a natural serenity that makes others feel calm. You are a safe haven for others.

You are unselfconscious and totally natural in your behavior. You are free-spirited.

You are totally comfortable with where you are in life. You accept yourself and your life circumstances.

Traffic in Kuala Lumpur

Traffic jams are a part of life in Kuala Lumpur, as in most other cities. Strangely, it gets worse on Friday evenings. Not sure whether it's because of the weekend ahead and people are rushing to go back to their hometown. Besides the added traffic that is causing the jam, cars stopping in the middle of a busy street due to a breakdown add to the equation.

Vehicle breakdowns may be inevitable, one may argue, but breakdowns can be minimised by giving the car its due attention when it comes to maintenance including servicing and parts replacements. Not sure if owning a truck involves more work but a parts and accessories site I came across certainly is well-stocked with truck parts. Auto Dog may be what you are looking for if you are a truck-owner. While you are at it, don't forget to check out their Clearance Sale items. You may be able to pick up something you need for your vehicle at a price hard to beat anywhere else.

UEFA EURO 2012 Standing

A quick look at the UEFA EURO 2012 current match standings.. (not including the Spain vs Ireland match).


Update: Spain beat Ireland 4-0 putting Spain up on top with Croatia at 4 points in Group C. Fernando Torres scored twice, the first at the 4th minute, the other at 70th. Ireland is bottom of the table, yet to win a game.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Of Supermarketing and Barcode scanners

I don't know about you but each time at the check-out counter in a supermarket when the staff zaps the barcode-scanner too many times at a food product, it gives me the jitters. However, I console myself that their ls2208 scanners are probably safer than other brands that they won't contaminate the food they are zapping so many times at.

Bad enough that our greens are laden with chemicals from fertilizers and meat with hormones and whatnot, they even have to go through rays from a barcode-scanner! Am I being paranoid or what?! Oh gosh!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Genting Highlands Cheap Rooms

Yes, 4 days left to grab a room at First World Hotel, Genting Highlands, for just RM48 per night! Available period: September and October 2012.

One night's stay in a Standard Room at First World Hotel (room only)

Booking Period:
17 May till 15 June 2012

Staying Period:
12 - 13, 19 - 20, 25 - 27 September 2012
3 - 4, 8 - 11, 16 - 18, 30 - 31 October 2012

Hurry! Don't miss out on this great deal!

Genting Highlands, dubbed City of Entertainment, is a great place for a holiday or a weekend. Just an hour's drive from Kuala Lumpur, it is a popular quick getaway for city folk. Genting Highlands is also popular with Singaporeans.

There are many things to see and do up at Genting Highlands - for both adults and children alike.

For starters, at an elevation about 1,860 m, it is a great escape from the sweltering heat of the city. Genting Highlands enjoys a spring-like climate, with temperatures no higher than 25°C and rarely falling below 14°C yearly. The temperature in Genting Highlands ranges from 16°C to 24°C all year round. However, it is advisable to have along warm clothing especially for young children and the elderly as it can be cold at night.

Genting Highlands, otherwise known as Resorts World Genting, has five hotels. They are Maxims (renamed from Genting Hotel), Highlands Hotel, Resort Hotel, Theme Park Hotel, and First World Hotel. The First World Hotel holds the Guinness World of Records as the largest hotel in the world since 2006, with a total of 6,118 rooms.

Visitors to Gentings will be spoilt for choice where food is concerned as a wide variety of food is available - local, Asian, western, as well as fastfood.

Gentings is a place that never sleeps as it is teeming with activities including a safari, bars and lounges, karaoke joints, concerts, not forgetting the casino.

The resort has three theme parks - Genting Outdoor Theme Park, First World Indoor Theme Park and Water Park. There are over 20 signature attractions including Flying Coaster, Genting Sky Venture, Haunted House, Ripley's Believe It or Not! Museum, SnowWorld, and Space Shot.

The resort has five performance venues: Arena of Stars, Genting International Showroom, Genting International Convention Centre, and First World Plaza, where they have been venues for many international acts (including Kitaro, Andy Lau, Aaron Kwok, George Benson, Air Supply, Black Eyed Peas to name a few) and award ceremonies.

Genting Highlands serves as the finish point of a stage in the Tour de Langkawi cycling race. It is one of the longest (30 km) climbs featured in a cycling event.

Other places of attraction around Genting Highlands include Awana Genting Highlands Golf & Country Resort, Chin Swee Caves Temple, Genting Strawberry Farm, Highlands Mushroom Farm, Highlands Vegetable Farm, and Highlands Daylily Farm.

Source: Wikipedia

Pandas in Malaysia

Malaysia is in a sweet spot currently as China will loan two pandas to Malaysia as part of a collaboration between the China Wildlife Conservation Association and the Malaysian government. This is an honour as Malaysia joins the ranks of only a few countries that have received pandas.

Source: Wikipedia

A little about Panda Diplomacy from Wikipedia:
Loans of giant pandas to American and Japanese zoos formed an important part of the diplomacy of the People's Republic of China (PRC) in the 1970s, as it marked some of the first cultural exchanges between the People's Republic and the West. This practice has been termed "Panda diplomacy".

By 1984, however, pandas were no longer given as gifts. Instead, the PRC began to offer pandas to other nations only on 10-year loans, under terms including a fee of up to US$1,000,000 per year and a provision that any cubs born during the loan are the property of the PRC.

Not sure if there is a fee involved for the two pandas coming to Malaysia but one thing is for sure, Malaysians and people visiting Malaysia will get a chance to see pandas in person although it may be a challenge for the keepers in keeping the pandas comfortable in our hot and humid weather.

The pandas, to be on loan for 10 years, mark the 40th anniversary of diplomatic relationship between both countries in 2014. Bilateral relations between Malaysia and China started during the tenure of late Prime Minister Tun Abdul Razak, who was the father of the current Prime Minister, Najib Abdul Razak.

The Natural Resources and Environment Ministry said that the presence of the pandas would promote public awareness on panda conservation undertaken by China. This will encourage the public to appreciate and learn the importance of biodiversity and wildlife conservation in Malaysia.

A nationwide contest to name the pandas would be held to spur interest among Malaysians to learn more about this unique animal.

The two pandas will be placed in a special exhibit in Taman Wetland, Putrajaya. There, now there's another reason to visit Putrajaya, the Federal Government Administrative Centre replacing Kuala Lumpur as the administrative capital.

Source: The Star..China to loan two pandas to Malaysia for 10 years

China news reports in April reported that Malaysia would spend a whopping RM20mil for the upkeep of the pandas.

The budget is expected to cover for the construction of an air-conditioned sanctuary for the pandas, importing bamboos from China for their meals as well to train local handlers for the animals. (Source:Giant Pandas for Malaysia)

Saturday, June 9, 2012

CNNGo's list of World's 10 Most Loved Cities

Hey Rurousha, your city from yonder made it to the World's 10 Most Loved Cities on CNNGo's list coming in at No. 9! How cool! Wait, there's more. Your (Hero) city tops the list. Not fair, you get to live in two of the world's most loved cities!

Apparently, all cities are not created equal. CNNGo trawled the Internet for media "best of" praise, solicited recommendations from local correspondents, bloggers and travelers, scraped the bottom of every Internet and press barrel we could find for reasons not to include these conurbations, and still come up with what we think is a definitive list of the world's most loved cities. They found out that:

San Francisco has its Tenderloin, food snobs and bridge tolls.
Cape Town has its great white sharks and 17-hour commutes from New York City (which has its own issues).
Montreal has an underperforming hockey team and ridiculously cold winters.
And let’s not even get started about Tokyo.

Bottom line: travelers love places in spite of all their imperfections. Or perhaps because of them.

Here's the list of the World's 10 Most Loved Cities. Are you living in one of them..

10. Barcelona, Spain

9. Cape Town, South Africa

8. Montreal, Canada
7. New York City, United States
6. Paris, France
5. Petra, Jordan
4. San Francisco, United States
3. Santiago, Chile
2. Shanghai, China
1. Tokyo, Japan

Read more about the cities on CNNGo's World's 10 Most Loved Cities..

Friday, June 8, 2012

Friday Frolics - What Farm Animal Are You?

How nice, it's Friday again and time for yet another round of Friday Frolics. This week, we focus on animals, farm animals, that is. If you were a farm animal, what animal do you think you are? Take the quiz to find out. (I didn't know cows have so many okay traits. :p)

As for rating, I'd give it a 4 in my case.

1 = Absolutely not true
2 = Some truth
3 = 50% true
4 = Mostly true
5 = Close to 100% true


You Are a Cow

You are a kind, nurturing, and caring creature. You are deeply connected to the world around you.

You have a good intuition, and you sense what people need from you. You are happy to give as much as you can.

You are a very placid creature. Because you remain so calm and cool, people seem to underestimate your mind.

You are extremely intelligent and aware, but you don't always show it. You're more likely to reflect on your thoughts than share them with the world.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Dock from Japan washes up on Oregon beach

We have read about messages in bottles that get washed ashore. Something as small as a bottle is believable that it can float across the oceans to reach a shore on the other side. What about something as huge as a dock? Not possible? Read on..

A huge dock unmoored during last year's Japanese tsunami washed up on an Oregon beach this week which is having the authorities debating on how to remove it as well as who will be bearing the cost.

According to The Star article, the catastrophe swept an estimated 5 million tons of debris out to sea, but most of it sank. Japan has estimated that as much as 1.5 million tons of debris could still be afloat.

The 66-foot-(20-metre-) long dock is made mostly of concrete and metal, with a small metal plaque with Japanese writing attached. It washed up early on Tuesday morning on scenic Agate Beach, just north of Newport, Oregon, about 110 miles (177 km) southwest of Portland.

The dock tested negative for radiation, which was a concern because of the major radiation release at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant following March 2011's 9.0 magnitude earthquake which caused a tsunami that killed nearly 16,000 people and left over 3,000 missing on Japan's main island of Honshu.

From soccer balls and buoys to building materials, they have floated across the Pacific and washed up on shores across the U.S. West Coast.

Source: The Star..Dock from Japanese tsunami washes up on Oregon beach

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Petrol Price revision for RON97 - effective June 7

Good news for owners of vehicles using petrol RON97.

The retail price of RON97 would cost 10 sen less at RM2.80 per litre from Thursday (tomorrow or rather after midnight tonight). The dip in price is in line with the dip in average global crude oil prices in May.

In Malaysia, the retail price of premium petrol RON97 is fixed based on a managed float whereby the monthly price is determined according to market forces. The last increase of 10 sen (to RM2.90) was on Apr 3, 2012.

RON95 is still at RM1.90 a litre while diesel is at RM1.80 a litre.

Source: The Star

Monday, June 4, 2012

Transit of Venus - last this century (5 and 6 June)

Come June 5 and 6, most of us on Earth will be able to witness a rare astronomical phenomenon, the transit of Venus.

According to Wikipedia: A transit of Venus across the Sun takes place when the planet Venus passes directly between the Sun and Earth, becoming visible against (and hence obscuring a small portion of) the solar disk. During a transit, Venus can be seen from Earth as a small black disk moving across the face of the Sun. The duration of such transits is usually measured in hours (the transit of 2004 lasted six hours). A transit is similar to a solar eclipse by the Moon. While the diameter of Venus is almost 3 1/2 times that of the Moon, Venus appears smaller, and travels more slowly across the face of the Sun, because it is much farther away from Earth.

This image, from The Star, shows Venus transits across the sun as seen over Hong Kong on June 8, 2004 (Image: Reuters)

Transits of Venus are among the rarest of predictable astronomical phenomena. They occur in a pattern that repeats every 243 years, with pairs of transits eight years apart separated by long gaps of 121.5 years and 105.5 years. The transit of Venus on 5 and 6 June 2012 will be the last Venus transit this century; the prior transit took place on 8 June 2004. The previous pair of transits were in December 1874 and December 1882. After 2012, the next transits of Venus will be in December 2117 and December 2125.

Geometry of Venus Transit (Image: Angkasa)

The entire transit will be visible from the western Pacific Ocean, northwesternmost North America, northeastern Asia, Japan, the Philippines, eastern Australia, New Zealand, and high Arctic locations including northernmost Scandinavia, Iceland and Greenland.[3] In North America, the Caribbean, and northwestern South America, the beginning of the transit will be visible on 5 June until sunset. From sunrise on 6 June, the end of the transit will be visible from South Asia, the Middle East, east Africa and most of Europe. It will not be visible from most of South America or western Africa.

Source: Wikipedia

Where the 2012 transit will be visible
Transit start and end times (in UTC) are available for various international cities and various US cities.

Viewed from Malaysia, the planet will cross the Sun around 6.09am on June 6 (Wednesday), but it can only be seen after sunrise and will end at about 12.50pm.

People in Sabah will be able to see the entire phenomena because the Sun rises before the transit begins.

If you are in the Klang Valley or nearby and would like to have a better view of the Venus transit, drop by at the National Planetarium between 8am to 1pm where the National Space Agency (Angkasa) will be setting up a number of telescopes.

Alternatively, you can watch the transit from 8am to 12.50am via or view the live photos taken from Sandakan through Malaysia Lunar Eclipse Facebook from 6.10am to 12.40am.

If you miss it this round, the next Venus transit is predicted to be on Dec 11, 2117.

Safety precaution: A transit of Venus can be safely observed by taking the same precautions used to observe the partial phases of a solar eclipse. Staring at the Sun without appropriate eye protection can quickly cause serious and often permanent eye damage.

The safest way to watch a transit is to observe an image of the Sun projected onto a screen through a telescope, binoculars, pinhole or reflected pinhole. The event can be viewed without magnification using filters specifically designed for this purpose, such as an astronomical solar filter or eclipse viewing glasses coated with a vacuum-deposited layer of chromium. However, the disk of Venus is tiny compared to the sun and not much will be seen. The once-recommended method of using exposed black-and-white film as a filter is not now considered safe, as small imperfections or gaps in the film may permit harmful UV rays to pass through. Observing the Sun directly without appropriate protection can damage or destroy retinal cells, causing temporary or permanent blindness. (Wikipedia)

- Venus transit as seen in Kuala Lumpur

A video from NASA

- More images from NASA

- The Star.. Last chance to see rare Venus Transit
- Wikipedia

Sunday, June 3, 2012

All smiles - The Maids are Here (Back)

It's blue skies and sunshine today in Kuala Lumpur. I hope it's going to be the same in the UK (roughly six hours behind Kuala Lumpur) especially in London and cities that are celebrating The Queen's Diamond Jubilee, 60 years of being a monarch. But I digress.

What I want to write about here is on the frontpage of The Star which says, The maids are here. Yes, maids or househelp from Indonesia are once again allowed into Malaysia after three (long) years. I said 'long' because for households or employers who need domestic help, either to help with the children, infirm spouse, parents or siblings, a wait-time of three years is a long wait. It must be such a relief to be able to get some help finally.

After Jakarta decided to lift the freeze on maids to Malaysia on Dec 1 last year, the first batch of maids arrived four days ago. In a special ceremony (must be a first in the house-help category) yesterday, 29 women from East Java were introduced to their employers. They will begin work immediately.

Indonesian maid Susiani Tukiri Suparti, 33 (second from right) leaving with her unnamed new employer (right) after going through a three-day training at the Malaysian Association of Foreign Maids Agencies shelter and training centre yesterday. — Bernama

Jeffrey Foo, president of the Malaysian Association of Foreign Maid Agencies, said the maids were returning after a memorandum of understanding between Malaysia and Indonesia was signed in May last year and finalised in November. The MoU ensured the well-being of the maids, especially with regard to the payment of salary and scope of duties.

The MoU covers the following clauses, among others:

- The employer is now obliged to open a special account for the maids to remit their salary, which will be monitored to ensure there is no manipulation. The bank book will be kept by the maid to assure that the wages are being banked in.

- The duties of the maid are confined to household tasks, however as to whether to accept the additional responsibility of looking after a child or a senior citizen is entirely up to the maid. (Employers are not allowed to force a maid to look after a toddler or a senior citizen or lodge a complaint if she was found to be inefficient in carrying out the task because it is not part of her expertise.)

- A maid would get one day off a week which need not be during the weekend. Request for work on a rest-day would entail the maid being paid RM27 for the day's work in addition to her monthly salary of RM700.

The fee for hiring a maid is now RM4,511. The employer pays RM2,711 to the agent while the maid puts up RM1,800.

Foo said the fee would be revised upwards after this batch, which is subject to government approval, but the association would try to keep it below RM7,000.

Source: The Star..Maids return after three years

Friday, June 1, 2012

Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee: Guide to the weekend of events

There is a lot happening in the United Kingdom at this moment, particularly in London - what with the London 2012 Olympics coming on in July and with the Torch Relay in progress, another celebration is underway, the Queen's Diamond Jubilee.
Yes, HM Queen Elizabeth II celebrates 60 years reign this year and the nation is celebrating it on a grand scale. BBC reported that The Queen is marking her Diamond Jubilee this year and celebrations reach a peak in early June with a four-day weekend of events, between Saturday 2 and Tuesday 5 June. A girlfriend who now lives in London said she will be going to the Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant which will be one of the highlights of the weekend celebrations.

The weekend's events schedule is as follows according to the BBC. You can download a PDF version of this guide (2.74MB), to print out and keep.

Saturday 2 June - Epsom Derby
The Queen attends the Epsom Derby on its second day. Organisers expect more than 200,000 people to attend the horse-racing event, which normally attracts 135,000 race-goers.

Sunday 3 June - River Thames Pageant, Big Jubilee Lunch
The Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant will be one of the highlights of the weekend celebrations. At high water (about 14:00BST) more than 1,000 boats traditional and modern will escort the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh aboard a specially decorated royal barge down the River Thames.

Jubilee Pageant - key times

11:30 Vessels muster between Hammersmith and Battersea bridges

14:10 Queen arrives at Chelsea Pier

14:30 Queen boards Royal Barge. Steam train, Princess Elizabeth, whistles a salute from Chelsea Bridge

14:40 Jubilee Bells mark official start of Pageant

14:45 First vessel passes under Albert Bridge

15:00 Royal Barge joins flotilla, church bells ring out

16:15 Queen disembarks at Royal Naval Reserve Base to watch flotilla pass by

17:30 The last vessel, Symphony, passes Tower Bridge. Pageant ends and boats disperse

All timings in British Summer Time (GMT +1)

A look at the river map of the Diamond Jubilee pageant:

Monday 4 June - Jubilee Picnic, BBC Concert, Jubilee Beacons
A special concert organised by the BBC and singer Gary Barlow will be held at Buckingham Palace. It will be attended by the Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh and other members of the Royal Family in the surroundings of the Queen Victoria Memorial in front of Buckingham Palace. Guests, who were granted tickets by ballot, will also be invited to attend a Jubilee picnic in the Buckingham Palace Gardens. The concert will begin at 19:30BST.

It will be star-studded concert, set against the spectacular backdrop of Buckingham Palace, celebrating Her Majesty the Queen's 60 year reign.

Tuesday 5 June - Service, carriage procession, balcony appearance
The final day of the Diamond Jubilee weekend will be marked by a national service of thanksgiving at St Paul's Cathedral attended by the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh. There will be a special prayer for the Diamond Jubilee. This will be followed by two receptions, a lunch at Westminster Hall and a carriage procession to Buckingham Palace, with a balcony appearance and a fly-past.

Tuesday 5 June - key times

10:30 St Pauls service begins

11:30 The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh are driven to Mansion House reception

12:45 Livery hosts Diamond Jubilee Lunch at Westminster Hall

14:20 Carriage procession begins

14:40 Royal Family arrives at Buckingham Palace

15:30 Royal Family appears on Palace balcony and watches RAF fly-past; Queen's Guard performs Feu de Joie

All timings in British Summer Time (GMT +1)

Route of the royal carriage procession

Weekend Jubilee festivals
- Hyde Park Jubilee Family Festival - 2 June, 3 June
This two-day family festival organised by Sainsbury's is hosted by Myleene Klass and Jon Culshaw. It features live music and entertainment on the main stage and in zones such as the Kids Zone, the Disney Zone, the Parade Ground - featuring the White Helmet Motorcycle Display Team - and The Commonwealth, with Harambee African drummers and Maori Haka dancers.

Great British food - pies, roasts, pastries, fish and chips, jellied eels and cream teas - will be served.

- Battersea Park Festival - Sunday 3 June
Some 90,000 ticket holders can see the pageant from the river bank or big screens in Battersea Park which is hosting a special festival. Curated by Hemingway Design, of Vintage Festival fame, and artist Clare Patey, the event celebrates all things British.

For more information and to know where to watch/listen, check out

Useful external links
Epsom Derby

Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant

Interactive map - Big screens, roads and bridge closures, public conveniences

Map of Avenue of Sail

Transport for London Diamond Jubilee

Time Out best places to watch the pageant

The Big Jubilee Lunch

Diamond Jubilee Beacons

Hyde Park Jubilee Family Festival's-diamond-jubilee/

Battersea Park Jubilee Festival (Visit London)

BBC links
BBC Big screens around the UK
Diamond Jubilee Special Report



Related article:
Diamond Jubilee: The changing face of the Queen over the past 60 years
Pop royalty plays to queen in UK jubilee concert
Parade and palace wave finale for queen's jubilee

Friday Frolics - How Neurotic Are You?

Do you think you are neurotic? Don't laugh, some of us are without even realizing it. This dictionary defines neurosis as

1. Also called psychoneurosis. a functional disorder in which feelings of anxiety, obsessional thoughts, compulsive acts, and physical complaints without objective evidence of disease, in various degrees and patterns, dominate the personality.

2. a relatively mild personality disorder typified by excessive anxiety or indecision and a degree of social or interpersonal maladjustment.

The Friday Frolics personality quiz this week is "How Neurotic Are You? Take the quiz to find out.

As for rating, I'd give it a 4 in my case.

1 = Absolutely not true
2 = Some truth
3 = 50% true
4 = Mostly true
5 = Close to 100% true

You Are Not Neurotic

You are easy going and even tempered. You don't get stressed out easily.

You're life is like everyone else's life, you have just learned not to be reactive.

You are emotionally stable. You can endure hardships with calm and grace.

Worrying is not really an option for you. You are good at exercising mental control.