Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Taking dad to see an eye surgeon at Subang Jaya

Yesterday I brought father to Subang Jaya Eye Specialist Centre to treat his eyes of AMD. Many things had changed since my long ago trips with mom to Subang Jaya and I had some trouble arriving at the centre. Nevertheless, after an inquiry from a local and also help from sis who also went there to met us, I managed to get there. I was glad to get a parking right in front of the premise; the parking situation there is pretty congested. Dad was examined and while we wait for dad's eyes to dilate; we then went to a nearby shop for our lunches. Eventually, the surgeon arrived and gave us a more thorough briefings on dad's condition. Eventually, for fear of the risk of infection, he suggested we do dad's right eye only and left his left eye for the time being as it is in better shape.

Sis treating dad and me to lunch at a nearby shop.

Dad sporting the cool look of wearing sunglass for eye protection.

The surgeon appearing in an awareness article in a Chinese daily.

Friday, October 14, 2011

An unexpected and unwelcome visitor!

This morning, I was notified of the presence of a snake in the house. I went down stair and saw the snake at the back staircase; it was lying at the midsection. I was quickly given a rottan kept for security in my room and as I poised to strike, I hesitated as I bring the tip of the rottan about two feet above the snake which was then raising its head. I believe its head looks triangular and remembered reading that such shape might meant that its poisonous but I was not sure. Anyway, I felt very reluctant to strike at the snake as I have not desire to kill it but this was an emergency and I knew I had to attack it to prevent danger to my household. I was also cautious as I was afraid I might miss it and cause it to move around and become aggressive in response to my attack.

So I braced myself and finally crashed the rottan down on the snake. Whack! The snake was hit but it slithered down the ladder onto the floor. Father then had came out of his room and was at the dinning table as I struggled to kill the snake which remained alive even after receiving several blows to its head; its was sickening to me as I find it difficult to kill it as quickly as possible- I hate to cause it any further pain than necessary. I even resorted to using a sheet of paper to cover its head before hitting it again and again as I find it psychologically difficult to bring the rottan on its bare head.

In the evening, I heard from the maid that she was then walking up the stair and backtrack in response to a call from father in the room which was just besides the staircase; then she saw the snake which was in a striking mode and then she sounded the alarm which led to the ensuing battle which ended in the demise of the snake which until now, I do not know is poisonous or not. Anyway, I was relieve to have resolved this problem but at the same time was sad for having to kill this snake especially in such a painful manner; I feel sad for the snake...

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Obituary for Steve


I was moved to write an obituary for Dr Carl Sagan in the late 1990s when he passed away in The Star paper when I did not read of any obituary relating to him; I thought that it was most inappropriate that the popularize of COSMOS was not mentioned in a periodical named after a celestial object; I objected to the idea that it did not have at least one article in eulogizing such an individual. When I heard of Sagan's death; it was almost like I lost someone I knew personally - especially from his ground breaking documentary series, his books and from his live appearance on The Tonight Show hosted by Johnny Carson during the mania of the Halley's Comet in the 1980s. Although my feelings for Steve Jobs was not sad in comparison, yet I felt a sudden desire to eulogize him in my blog as a form of tribute. Steve Jobs was not just a geek but also an articulate thinker; he was an inspiration to millions of people such as encapsulated in one of his famous address to an audience of Standford University graduates.

I saw the news of Steve Jobs passing on TV this morning (6-10-2011 in Malaysia; 10-5-2011 in US). It was a big news as Steve certainly attained an iconic status in today's tech heavy society. I remember the time in the early 1980s when TIME magazine famously named Computers as Machine of the Year- the first time the honor went to a non-human. Steve Jobs who had co-founded Apple Computers was an inspiring story even then... and his dismissal from the company he co-founded saw the true character in which he later bought Pixar which made movie and computer history by making the first full length animation using exclusive computer technology. It is said that we should judge someone not by how successful he or she become but by how they deal with setbacks and failures and then to come back even stronger than before, having become wiser as the diamond in the rough was cut which allow the fire within the gem to sparkle. Steve Jobs was such a dazzling individual. He was great in the marrying of tech and style and he had the creativity and vision to make computers into very user friendly tools that empowered people from all line of work to unleash their creativity and productivity.

I remember the Mac when it first came out and drool at the concept of the graphical user interface which was perfect for a non-geek like me but it was then extremely pricey. Recently, I saw the IPad2 and heard raves from my brother-in-law about the genius of Steve for bringing out this gadget which even his 22 months old toddler can use. Steve's genius was apparent even in the coining of the name for his company which is surely one of the best brand in history- the use of the simple fruit-Apple was truly a stroke of genius and Mac is just a continuum of this idea as Mac stood for MacKintoch which is a kind of apple. Today, we live in a high-tech age of which the central tool is the computer and Steve Jobs was certainly among one of the most remarkable geniuses, innovators, visionaries in this field. The Nobel organization should come out with a special prize for life time achievement award for geniuses like Steve Jobs who help to change and make this a better world for all mankind. His life was in the best American tradition of helping to make a difference in the lives of others and he certainly helped to change the world for the better.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

My Maiden Pizza!


Ever since a DIY article in The Star Newspaper appeared probably a few years ago that teach reader to make a home make pizza; it had put a seed into my mind about trying this idea out. But it seem somewhat complicated. So I checked the Internet for resources and basically watched two videos. I see that the techniques and ingredients are not exactly the same and anyway, some of the ingredients are not easily get over here. But I think I can improvise. Anyway, I had been informing Jia Yin and Meng Lan of my project quite a while back and after a period, I felt like the boy who called wolf... So after carefully going over the tutorial videos and making notes, I finally decided to get my hands busy and fulfill my promise... As I rarely cook nowadays, I gingerly went about the project during one lazy Sunday but the project went off with a glitch which was irritating as Meng Lan who told me we had all the ingredients discovered we do not have the all important yeast! But no matter, she was going to the town for grocery shopping and she will get some at the supermarket but this will entail delays as she will take almost two hours as she need to go the the wet market first... well, I can always prepare and cook the pizza source first. The pizza source came off more or less okay and after the yeast arrived, I started on the pizza dough and it was when I put the amount of water as dictated in one of the tutorial that I discovered that there was simply too much water as the dough was so very soggy! Lesson learned, do not trust 100 percent in recipe... I should have added water slowly until it is enough... its like doing carpentering, there is a rule of measuring twice before cutting as once you cut, there is no turning back... Anyway, eventually, I gradually added more dough as advised by my overseer-Meng Lan before letting the yeast do its magic. But after two hours of fermentation, I see that the dough is still too soft and soggy and I though this pizza project is not turning out well; but Meng Lan observed that more flour is required and also another half hour is needed to let the dough grow. So the command was followed. Eventually, I was able to get the still somewhat soft but much better conditioned dough rolled and the source which was then ladled on to the rolled dough. Then I added some sliced sausages as were two slices of cut up cheese. There into the electric oven it went. I fired the oven at the maximum heat but as I monitored it, I turned the heat down after about ten minutes and let it cook for another 5 minutes. The verdict? The pizza was slightly overcooked but it was very crispy; but all in all, it turned out better than I expected for a maiden effort. Hurray, I finally did something I had wanted to do for a long time... this small success later gave me the ambitious idea of DIY an outdoor over... and since there are mountains of resources in the Internet, I think I might get it done.... yeah, I can not only bake pizzas, bread, cakes, but roast chickens and how about a roast turkey for Christmas?

Mission Accomplished!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

The iPad ... transforming the PC

Although the iPad had been around for sometime yet it I was not aware of its significances as a brilliant piece of technological innovation until when I had a feel for the iPad2 recently. My relative who bought an iPhone a few years ago bought an iPad2 for RM2,100 (there are a few variants depending on configurations) and in a visit a few days ago brought along this device which he held to be a technological marvel and raves about the genius of Steve Jobs who created such user friendly and intuitive tool which my relative said can be used by people from the age of 3 to 80; in fact, his iPad is enthusiastically used all members of his family which include his wife and their three children. The iPad is indeed a wonder device that can do a myriad of things. It can be a general computer but with high graphic resolution due to its new chip in the iPad2 suitable for superior game playing. It also has 2 cameras and there are a whole sets of application software; I like the fact that there are 10,000 e-books in the library and it looks good as a e-book reader. People can also do so many things due to the internet such as watching movies, etc. There was a recent news story that apes (Orangutans) were given opportunity to interact with the iPads in a Zoo in the US. The latest news was that in some wealthy school system, students are starting to use iPads in lieu of textbooks... I think such devices certainly hold huge potential to make learning more fun and students no longer have to lug loads of textbooks around. My relative's youngest son is two months shy of 2 year of age and yet, he is very fond of using the iPad2 to play video games and doodle... he will be the generation who will take the galloping technological advances in their strides and they will be the vanguard innovators and users of even more fantastic technology to come:

The following is latest news about the use of iPads in wealthy US schools:

Many US schools adding iPads, trimming textbooks

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — For incoming freshmen at western Connecticut's suburban Brookfield High School, hefting a backpack weighed down with textbooks is about to give way to tapping out notes and flipping electronic pages on a glossy iPad tablet computer.

A few hours away, every student at Burlington High School near Boston will also start the year with new school-issued iPads, each loaded with electronic textbooks and other online resources in place of traditional bulky texts.

While iPads have rocketed to popularity on many college campuses since Apple Inc. introduced the device in spring 2010, many public secondary schools this fall will move away from textbooks in favor of the lightweight tablet computers.

Apple officials say they know of more than 600 districts that have launched what are called "one-to-one" programs, in which at least one classroom of students is getting iPads for each student to use throughout the school day.

Nearly two-thirds of them have begun since July, according to Apple.

New programs are being announced on a regular basis, too. As recently as Wednesday, Kentucky's education commissioner and the superintendent of schools in Woodford County, Ky., said that Woodford County High will become the state's first public high school to give each of its 1,250 students an iPad.

At Burlington High in suburban Boston, principal Patrick Larkin calls the $500 iPads a better long-term investment than textbooks, though he said the school will still use traditional texts in some courses if suitable electronic programs aren't yet available.

"I don't want to generalize because I don't want to insult people who are working hard to make those resources," Larkin said of textbooks, "but they're pretty much outdated the minute they're printed and certainly by the time they're delivered. The bottom line is that the iPads will give our kids a chance to use much more relevant materials."

The trend has not been limited to wealthy suburban districts. New York City, Chicago and many other urban districts also are buying large numbers of iPads.

The iPads generally cost districts between $500 and $600, depending on what accessories and service plans are purchased.

By comparison, Brookfield High in Connecticut estimates it spends at least that much yearly on every student's textbooks, not including graphing calculators, dictionaries and other accessories they can get on the iPads.

Educators say the sleek, flat tablet computers offer a variety of benefits.

They include interactive programs to demonstrate problem-solving in math, scratchpad features for note-taking and bookmarking, the ability to immediately send quizzes and homework to teachers, and the chance to view videos or tutorials on everything from important historical events to learning foreign languages.

They're especially popular in special education services, for children with autism spectrum disorders and learning disabilities, and for those who learn best when something is explained with visual images, not just through talking.

Some advocates also say the interactive nature of learning on an iPad comes naturally to many of today's students, who've grown up with electronic devices as part of their everyday world.

But for all of the excitement surrounding the growth of iPads in public secondary schools, some experts watching the trend warn that the districts need to ensure they can support the wireless infrastructure, repairs and other costs that accompany a switch to such a tech-heavy approach.

And even with the most modern device in hand, students still need the basics of a solid curriculum and skilled teachers.

"There's a saying that the music is not in the piano and, in the same way, the learning is not in the device," said Mark Warschauer, an education and informatics professor at the University of California-Irvine whose specialties include research on the intersection of technology and education.

"I don't want to oversell these things or present the idea that these devices are miraculous, but they have some benefits and that's why so many people outside of schools are using them so much," he said.

One such iPad devotee is 15-year-old Christian Woods, who starts his sophomore year at Burlington, Mass., High School on a special student support team to help about 1,000 other teens adjust to their new tablets.

"I think people will like it. I really don't know anybody in high school that wouldn't want to get an iPad," he said. "We're always using technology at home, then when you're at school it's textbooks, so it's a good way to put all of that together."

Districts are varied in their policies on how they police students' use.

Many have filtering programs to keep students off websites that have not been pre-approved, and some require the students to turn in the iPads during vacation breaks and at the end of the school year. Others hold the reins a little more loosely.

"If we truly consider this a learning device, we don't want to take it away and say, 'Leaning stops in the summertime.' " said Larkin, the Burlington principal.

And the nation's domestic textbook publishing industry, accounting for $5.5 billion in yearly sales to secondary schools, is taking notice of the trend with its own shift in a competitive race toward developing curriculum specifically for iPads.

At Boston-based Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, for instance, programmers scrambled to create an iPad-specific secondary school program starting almost as soon as Apple unveiled the tablet in spring 2010.

The publisher's HMH Fuse algebra program, which became available at the start of the 2010 school year, was among the first and is a top seller to districts. Another algebra program and a geometry offering are coming out now.

The HMH Fuse online app is free and gives users an idea of how it works, and the content can be downloaded for $60. By comparison, the publisher's 950-page algebra text on which it was based is almost $73 per copy, and doesn't include the graphing calculators, interactive videos and other features.

For a school that would buy 300 of the textbooks for its freshman class, for instance, the savings from using the online version would be almost $4,000.

Jay Diskey, executive director of the Association of American Publishers' schools division, said all of the major textbook publishers are moving toward electronic offerings, but at least in the short term, traditional bound textbooks are here to stay.

"I think one of the real key questions that will be answered over the next several years is what sort of things work best in print for students and what sort of things work best digitally," Diskey said. "I think we're on the cusp of a whole new area of research and comprehension about what digital learning means."

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Durian Season!

A date with the king of fruits.

A few months ago, Chinese premier Wen visited Malaysia and announced that China will import durians from Malaysia. Recently, high grade frozen (can last for 1 year) durians supposedly sourced from Raub is starting to be ship via ships to China but the prices are secrets! Many people believe durians will cost more but in this durian season at least, the prices are still reasonable... but in the future, it might increase if the Chinese take a liking to the king of fruits! The followings are photos of dad having a dinner comprised solely of durians recently...

Thursday, July 7, 2011

A puppy named Google

It was morning as I went out to work and found a puppy in front of the shop on 8-8-2009; I decided to keep it and named it Tuesday (The day the puppy was found) as per the boy who was named Friday by Robinson Crusoe in the famous novel. But my wife and daughter did not thought much of the idea and I later proposed Google. I just came across this short video of Google which I had produced sometime ago and decided to share it here at Nanyang Narratives.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Making a move for the better...


For your new home... an ever full basket of nourishing bread so that your home may never know hunger, a lifetime supply of salt so that life may always have flavor, and a whole cellar of wine so that joy and prosperity fill your home for a lifetime. Some people would add candles ... so that your house will always have light.... perhaps light means wisdom as in enlightenment? Anyway, I am also adding champagnes to this virtual set of housewarming gifts to you for good measure!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Let There be Light 2: Experimental DIY Solar bottle light

The solar bottle light was so interesting to me that I decided to make a model to see for myself the final result. The photos and videos on the internet are convincing but I just want to try the experiment for fun; after all, experiment is the hallmark of science in that a theory must work in practice every time under the same conditions and circumstances. So I finally decided to just make a model using a box along with the essential 1.5 liter soda bottle which should not have color to achieve the best result. However, as this not a real application- I just use common tap water (should use distilled water) and did not add the bleach into the water.

Just cut a hole that fit the "waist" of the bottle; then open the cap and slightly crush the bottle so as to squeeze it into the hole.

Note that when there is no water in the bottle; there is no prism effect to focus the light.

After water is added, we can see that the light is much brighter than before.

This is how it looked inside the box as I tried to achieve darkness by putting my hand with the camera inside the box and then tried to wrap the flaps around my hand but the result is not optimum.

So I figured out a way by opening a small hole for the lens of my camera to shoot inside from the outside of the box; this way, the box would be darker and the light should be more pronounced. By the way, I did closed the flaps/lid of the box when I shoot the photo.

Another problem come out in that by this time, the heavy bottle filled with water could not be held by the box as the hole had became larger and lost its grip. So I decided to use a thick slab of styrofoam as a neck which did the trick. There are often challenges and problems that crop up during experiments and one must try to overcome such problems to achieve our objectives.

Finally, this outstanding photo of a luminous solar bottle light inside the dark interior of the closed box which became very bright demonstrated the powerful effect of the solar power transmitted via the superb solar bottle light!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Let There be Light !

I chanced to see a news segment about the ingenious use of solar energy to light up the dim interiors of shacks in Philippines yesterday and was intrigued; luckily, the internet is just the place to find out more about this extraordinary idea. It seems that a social activist by the name of Illac Diaz use this invention (it was said to be a brainchild of a South American engineer who came up with this idea sometime ago when an electricity blackout triggered him to experiment with alternative illumination for his darken building) to give free lighting to masses of Filipinos. By doing so, he also helped to recycle discarded bottles into a most useful items that truly benefit poor people. This solar bottle light bulb can be easily made: you just need to fill it with distilled water and add two cap full of bleach to prevent growth of algae and its better to top the bottle with a plastic film container (such film containers might not be so easily obtainable now that the camera using film is almost extinct with the arrival of the digital camera) or other some other suitable containers as the bottle cap will not last under the hot sun and rain. The water filled bottle will then act simply as a prism to diffuse the light of the sun so this miracle solar bottle light bulb will not work at night! But its great to illuminate the small businesses as well as the dwellings and the bathrooms and toilets without incurring electricity bills; it is also great for places that do not have electricity connection.

Social activist-Illac Diaz in the center demonstrating the power of the solar bottle light.

This is how it looks on the roof. Each solar bottle light can last for about two years.

This amazingly ingenious invention is truly helping to make a huge difference to the lives of millions. I salute the inventor as well as the activists who help to bring this most affordable technology into thousands of humble dwellings.This is a form of social revolution that might help to generate more progress as people who are in awe over the creative possibilities of the minds will be inspired to come up with other powerful, useful and affordable inventions that can raise the quality of life especially for the poor.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Flowers in full bloom in the garden

The flowers in the garden are in full bloom.

Dad sitting out on the swing during the evening.

More photos of dad; this was taken over a month ago on Qing Ming day on 27th March 2011.

I bought him a packet of wantan noodle from a stall in Raub; the noodles were supposed to be made in the old way. The noodle are flour mixed only with many eggs and no water is added at all. Learned of this stall at Raub from a well known Malaysian Mandarin TV food show. The business of this noodle stall was good and we had to wait for a long time before being served and it was more expensive but its taste was just so-so; nothing special.

Father said he likes the swing which is very good for him to sit on to take in some fresh air.

Besides him is a pot of longan tree; grown from seed taken from his home village in Fujian, China.

Finally, today (4th May 2011) - there was a stretch of rainbow in the evening. Rain is supposed to follow the appearance of a rainbow but no rain fall this evening. Heavy rains did fall later in the night right this moment as I was finalizing this blog at 10:00PM; the photo was taken at around 6:30PM. Anyway, this photo is a good excuse for me to "burst into song"- featuring the classic song: Somewhere over the rainbow. This is something like a Hindi movie of a blog or perhaps a musical blog - The Sound of Nanyang Narratives!

Finally, I would like to say hi! to my dearest niece-Caitlyn who is learning a great deal of new things each and every day! I am sending a special greeting to you via a nice friendly puppy with a waggery tail! Caitlyn, you can take this doggie into your home (daddy's computer!) if you pat it with the mouse/cursor and then download (save) it. Wow! Wow! But please ask for daddy or mummy's permission first, okie-dokie?

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

What kind of bird was it? The answers...

Remember the little birdie with "coats of many colors" that was caught inside a jar recently? Sue Anne had posed the question to me: "Btw, did u find out what that colourful bird is?" I told her I had not bother to check. But today, I saw a news article in The Star (3th May 2011) with photo of some birds; one colorful bird in particular caught my attention. It was the same type of bird our maid had caught inside Jia Yin's room and it was indeed a kingfisher as I had guessed. After some research on the Internet, I realized that there are probably a few subspecies with different names: Black back kingfisher, Borneo dwarf kingfisher, Oriental dwarf kingfisher and the one caught by our maid was known as Rufous back of Peninsular Malaysia.

Its indeed wonderful to know that such exquisitely beautiful birds exist in this world. I wonder what Leonardo da Vinci will think or say if presented with this specie of bird? Its like a white color bird had flew across a rainbow and its body was impressed with vivid colors to different parts of its body. Another theory was that a little child had actually painted a bird and then released it to the sky!