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!