Out for 4 days – in high seas

Whenever I pass by the pier in Georgetown, I have always gawked in awe at the giant cruise ships that docks there during the day. This is especially true for the StarCruise ship which dwarfs all the ships in the pier and even some of the buildings in the vicinity. It always looks as if the ship is a building by itself, larger than life. I have always wondered and wanted to travel on a cruise. I want to enjoy all the trappings of the high seas cruise but the scrooge in me would not want to pay for the fare.

Luckily, I stumbled upon a buy 1 free 1 offer on Superstar Libra and took up that offer.

The ship was everything I had expected, more than just a large vessel, it has a soul in the form of the staff that worked on the ship. Activities start as soon as you board ship with not much time to work out the cabin. There are activities for all walks of life. In fact, most of the passengers are not shy about joining in the activities, as if what happens on the ship, stays on the ship.

Goes without saying, we are well fed.

The only drawback of a large ship is the many colourful characters that boards the ship. A fight almost occur between 2 families during mealtime because of queuing policy. So bad that the familes are asked to sit at separate corners of the restaurant and the ship’s officer has to come down and attend to the problem. I guess in a crowded environment, patience and manners are thrown overboard.

Cabin was reasonable for 2 adults and 1 toddler who has to sleep on the floor because he may roll off the bed. The bathroom is small but sufficient.

We were expecting some rolling when the ship is moving, preparing various methods to counter seasickness. Since our cabin is almost at the water line, we do not feel the movement as much as the higher floors.

Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking

I like books like this, they basically take some research results, come up with some use case and write a story about it. This book is so interesting that I finished it in 2 weeks. Impressive considering that I only get to read during the weekends and at night.

Link to Amazon

Link to Wikipedia

There are lessons to be learnt from this book although in the book, it is vague. We have the capability to create a first impression and make accurate decision from very little information. The book calls this “thin-slicing”. This fact hits home for me because in the organisation that I work, data is everything. A lot of time is spent collecting data and analyzing the tons of collected data. The eureka moment for me is when the book used the example of the Chicago Hospital. The correct information (just 4 factors) and an unbiased view is enough to make a life or death decision. So I have to question the tons of data that I collect in my day to day work, whether they are important to the decision being made or they are just biased opinion.

What I learned from the book about making snap decision

  1. You have to be an expert in the field. The “gut feeling” only works if you have tons of experience and spend years honing your skills. A highly technical decision cannot be made by ordinary “people on the street”.
  2. You would need to put yourself in a situation where only the necessary information is  available so as not to cloud your bias. An example given was the use of gender to determine the suitability of a person playing brass instrument.

I would think that I have learn a few things here and there from the book. Especially about using enough and correct information to make a decision rather than collecting as much as information as possible. Sometimes, less but more relevant, is better.

My Hong Kong Stereotype

I am in Hong Kong now for a week. I am here alone. I didn’t plan for this trip and it was a rather last minute arrangement. Othere than knowing that temple street is just across the corner and starbucks is around the other corner, I am confined to travelling between the hotel and conference center.

But having arrived at Hong Kong a few hours ago, I began to have this strange feeling. So it is easier to compartmentalize all that is going on and all that is Hong Kong.

1. Calculators. I bought a ticket from a young chap for the airport train to town. He clearly understand English, so do I. But when telling me the price of the ticket, he just has to punch in the number on the calculator and show it to me. It is like they call numbers differently from everwhere else.

2. Hong Kong, looks like the series. Feels like in the mini series.. ooh, those are filmed here!

3. There are a lot of indonesians, filipinos etc. It is like a reverse of UK. The majority of people are Chinese but sprinkled around are indonesians, filipinos and I am sure there are many malaysians here too.

4. Feels like UK here. apprently it DOES get cold here. How come I don’t see people in winter clothes in TVB miniseries.

5. There are people here that looks like hong kong mafia sidekick. My hotel concierge for one. They dress in leather jackets that has many zippered pockets with dark jeans. When they asked me to go level 2, feels like and order.

6. Hong Kong, at least where I stay in Nathan Road.. is a HUGE petaling street.

7. What’s with the bambo scafolding?

Will continue to add on the stereotype as I move along with my stay here.

 

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Lest We Forget

Not going to try and write a travel blog post for my trip to UK. I can name many people who has been there or are staying there. No point sharing the places I visit since UK is very popular and information can be obtained easily on the internet. What I am going to write is about the feelings and the culture that I see in UK, then compare it to what I experience in Malaysia. Since I have not really been outside of the country much, I don’t think there is much I can compare to other than Malaysia, so don’t lynch me for using MY country as a comparison. Also, I need to make comparison to put into perspective the culture that I observe in UK.

Lets start with the very obvious, there are memorials for the fallen EVERYWHERE! There is no escaping a statue here, a memory there, some stone markings everywhere in UK. The fallen may have names, they may not have names. What I feel is that everyone who has sacrificed for the country at one time or another will be remembered through memorials. Granted that the United Kingdom has been through a lot of wars and conquest, the amount of memorials are stunning.

Although some of the memorials are generic, I can sense that the sacrifices of the people are not in vain. The memorials serve to remember people of the sacrifices that has to be made so that the quality of life and freedom can be enjoyed now.

Winston Churchill. Prime Minister during the war. Although he did not die in the war, he has his own memorial.

Montgomery, who chased the Dessert Fox out of Northern Africa. My travel companion asked my wife who is he. Wife, with the best of her knowledge, just answered that he is one of the war hero. Actually along this whole walk path, there are a few statues of war heroes.

This monument is dedicated to the women in WWII. As most men are drafted into war, women took over a lot of the work used to be done by men. The momument depicts the uniforms representing the kind of work women did during the war. I see this momument and think how they will hopefully hung up their war clothes for good.

Nelson’s column.

They did not left out the firemen during WWII who helped to save London from the fires and bombing. More interesting is the fact that the monument is located near St Paul’s Catherdal, the church of the nation.

This is a memorial for the artillery regiment in world war one. Nicely done piece of art that people like love visit. It is not just a plaque with names on it. It has meaning.

A fairly new installment. From the front it looks like metal bars, but the steel is cut to reveal crosses at the top. Nice installation.

And not forgetting the soldiers who faught in far away lands, like ours.

This is what I noticed. The society, the culture, remembers the nameless people who has served the country. All these memorials are not all funded by the government, a lot of them are funded by the people. So don’t just blame the Malaysian government for doing nothing to remember the Malaysian who sacrificed for the coutry. We as the people need to do more for the people who made this nation what it is. Sometimes we have to swallow the truth that bad things happened during WW2, japanese occupation, emergency, confrantation, May13th. We need to confront these issues and remember the people who fought both sides of the conflict. Everyone is after all, Malaysian.

I remember what the coach driver says, “history is boring because of the way it is taught”.

Who has been to Francis Light’s grave and laid flowers for the founder of the state? At least I can say that I have been once, to the grave of Rev Hutchings AFTER I left school.

Scotland – My Story

We heard the Scottish folk song called “Lock Lomond” when the Australian Trinity Boys Choir came to Penang. We thought that it was a very nice song. The song starts like this

By yon bonnie banks and by yon bonnie braes
Where the sun shines bright on Loch Lomond
Where me and my true love will ne-er meet again
On the bonnie, bonnie banks o’ Loch Lomon’.

So here we are in Scotland, standing on the bonnie bank of Lock Lomond. Wonderful place. The feeling was surreal. A song unheard of until some choir from Australia, came to Penang to perform a song about a body of water in Scotland.

And finally, there we are. Surreal.

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Passing down the heritage

Maybe it was just a coincidence. On the same week that I saw the digi sambal belacan Malaysia day ad, my mum dropped by with a tub of her sambal belacan. I ate a lot of sambal belacan when I was young, it goes well especially with fried fish. I have very little of it now mainly because I don’t know how to make it and Winnie does not either. I don’t think it is the “thing” with her family to have sambal belacan and cut chili in every meal. She thinks condiments are a Penang thing. True also, I don’t see condiments served unless asked in Kuching restaurant and weddings.

 

I realised after watching the Digi and polishing off half a tub of sambal belacan in one sitting.. that I really miss sambal belacan.

What does a man have to do to get feed his addiction.. one way is to keep bugging my mum for sambal belacan once I am out. What I did was to go shopping. Apparently, there are only two ingredients in my mum’s sambal. Chili and belacan. Sounds easy enough. I even contemplated on getting mortar and pastel, but I think the trusty blender will do.

First, I come to learn is that I have to roast the belacan. Well, I could put it out in the sun and wait for it to dry, but apparently dry roasting on a pan will work too. However, the house smells of fermented shrimp after that, so be warned. PS: you don’t want to come to my house for one week, I think the smell will stay that long.

Looks like a lot of belacan but I am not going to use it all. After that, wash and de-seed a lot of chilies.

Lagi pedas lagi bagus, masuk pedas.. keluar pun pedas…

After that it is about blending them all together to make a paste. Even my mum cannot tell me what is the proportion as the chilies vary in heat depending on the crop. So it is about tasting. I find this the hardest part because I am direct tasting ground fresh chillies. Yikes. I would like to think I got it right. The colour seems the same as my mum’s. Taste also almost the same, as far as I can tell.

We shall see how. Fried fish for dinner one of these days.

The Reveal..

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Inside that mitten, Gabriel is showing me the finger for forcing him out of the mother’s comfortable womb..

You will notice that some time has passed since the Caesarian section the wife has to endure before I posted it up in the blogs. In between, I have told my story to a few close friends. I told them that I was in the operation theater when the doctors did the operation and I narrated what happened real-time to the wife who is conscious. Most people tell me that I was brave to be there. A lot of daddy’s think they are brave but when the see the amount of blood coming out, they literally faint.

After the wife has been prepped for the operation., she was wheeled in to the operating theater. She went in first cause she was on the wheelchair (not like that she cannot walk, it has to be a dramatic effect – unless someone can tell me why). The nurses asked me in a fast tone whether I want to go in the operation theater. No hesitation – I sure. One male attendant (or is he a nurse, I did not get his details) ushered me into the changing room, dragged out a green scrub and ask me to change into it. He looks rushed so I just put the scrubs over my day clothes.

Then I was given a chair and asked to wait beside the nurses station in the OT. From the station I can see all the operating room.

I had to wait for about half hour before they asked me to go in the operation room. When I went in, the wife was already covered except for the part where they will operate on. She is conscious and I am given a chair beside her head. The blanket was raised at the neck so she could not see anything beyond her neck. I did the narration.

The Doctor came in. I was surprised that he had those rubber boots that the market people uses but in white colour. That was surprising. The doctor went straight to work. Like literally, came in, put on his gown and gloves and reached for the scalpel. That was 10.25am.

He made a cut, then cauterize the blood vessels. He works fast. Like really fast. After that, he did what I think was separating the uterus from the “meat”. One more cut and the nurses are moving around the stomach. One of them was on the top of the stomach and with all her body weight, pushes down on the stomach.

10.31am, the baby came out.

5 minutes and it is all over.

All the while, I am narrating to the wife what is going on and she said she feels nothing down there. Glad for that.

I did notice that when the baby’s head came out, he already started crying even while the body was in the womb. He was not too happy about being forced out of the mother. As the body is leaving the womb, the butt was facing me and I can see streaks of green goo from the butt all the way down the legs. It looked out of place cause the only liquid I see are blood. I think it has to be poop. Yup, baby pooped when he came out.

Which is a good thing I understand, cause that reduces the chances of jaundice. He needs to poop and we were worried that 1) he pooped in the amniotic fluid and eat his own poop since he stayed there for so long. 2) he did not poop and get jaundice.

For the next half hour, the doctor was stitching up the wife and I was asked to leave half way though the stitching.

Did I see Blood? Yup. I don’t think there was a lot of blood loss but blood was everywhere. Looks like a gruesome murder scene.

Did I faint? Nah.. you will need more than that amount of blood to make me faint. Seen worse.

The Drama..

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This would be the first time any of us got admitted into a hospital. We were unsure of the process or what is about to follow but we were going to do it together.

The appointment to check into the hospital was at 8.30 am. We walked in a check in just like a hotel. Just go to the counter and mention the name. The person at the counter escorted us up to the wards and passed us to the nurse. In less than half and hour, wife was in her hospital gown and the O&G was with us.

We were aware of some minor complication to the pregnancy. The baby is in a posterior position, making him a bit hard to come out. The head is looking up, causing the baby to be not engaged. Also, suspect there is cord around the neck. The O&G said, cord round neck is something he has handled many times and it should not be a problem.

We were given option.

We can first try to induce the baby for a normal labour. They will give her pitocin every 6 hours for a maximum of  doses. This should induce the baby to come out. BUT, there are unsuccessful cases which ends up in caesarean section anyway.  The other option that we have is to go for elective caesarean and and skip out on the pain.

I was expecting the doctor to tell us what to do, after all he is the expert. But instead we were given the choice. It was a stressful time for us. He explained what will be done for both options and we were given time to think. I really wanted him to make the decision so that I don’t have to. We both made some calls to our experienced mothers and both came to a conclusion that it would be better to skip the inducing and straight go for the operation. The logic, as I gathered, is that inducing will cause duress and stress to the baby. It is better, in such cases, to get the baby out as fast as possible.

We told the nurse about our decision and the Operation was scheduled for 10am.

So you have to imagine,  we checked in all fine at 8.30am. One visit by the doctors and a few phone calls. 2 hours later, the baby is out!

I never buy the stories about how babies are a miracle of life and stuff like that. I think they are mushy. But after seeing the baby coming out from the womb, with my own eyes.. it is a surreal experience.

Workplace Anger

I hope this post won’t get me into trouble. It is a general observations of my anger management that I face in the workplace. My post, my personal demon to control.

As I reflected on my anger management in the past month (without the help of the shrink which I owe them a visit long time ago), I do find that other than road rage, most of my anger comes from the workplace. I do find that working with people with different backgrounds can be sometimes frustrating. You know what they say about software engineers, we are like a bunch of cats. And if you know cats, you know that they each have their own individuality. Prominent Individuality.

Looking back at my ACTIONS, I do find that I snap easily when I am facing an angry moment. I have shouted at people even though it is not their fault. I have used old issues to bring guilt into the other party, like what they did wrong the last time.. makes it a good excuse for me not to help them this time. I take offense when I am given work that is not planned, and I snap at the whole issue. Thinking how stupid the workplace is. In other words, I am acting childish. Some people say that I take things to personally. Professional conduct has gone into the drain for personal feelings.

So far, my actions are basically on shouting and doing emotional hijacking, bad enough when I know those actions means that I am burning bridges and destroying trust.

Looking back at the past few months on what caused these ACTIONS, I find that my IRRATIONAL BELIEFS are centered around a few issues. Firstly is my bloated ego thinking that everyone has to pull his own weight when it comes to completing task. Well, the people in my team are great.. but I do hear stories of people from other teams that are not pulling their weight. These people have nothing to do with me and I should not concerned. But the stories give me the “impression” that they are getting paid for the easy work and I have to take all the heavy lifting around here. Secondly is the fact that nothing is ever happening as planned. Everyday I come in the office, regardless how it is planned, things will always go south. Then I have to come in and fix the issue or deal with it. It disrupts daily routine and concentration.

To DISPUTE the Belief, I am drilling into myself that everyone is working hard, no one is goofing off and the stories I hear, are just stories. I should not look at myself and compare with other people so much, that is what my parents always drill into me when I was a kid. People can do whatever they want, as long as I achieve better than what I was last year. I also have to drill into myself that I work in an engineering department. Things screw up all the time. The fact that I get it fixed, means it is not that serious and it means customer will see one less issue.

Will I be able to achieve a zen-like attitude after this? NAH.. one step at the time..

A job for Ted

You remember Ted? Ted d’ Bear? He is the teddy bear that I bought for the wife when I was in US for a week on business trip. He has been sitting on the bookshelf since then cause he was too irresistible for the bed. Well, we have a new use for him.

Testing diapers!

Wife bought some reusable cloth diapers. Those nice expensive ones that acts as good as disposable diapers but re-usable. Wife got these diapers as a “tester package”, a set of 4 diapers that we can try then decide on what brands to get. I vote for the cow prints, but wife will be the final decision maker.

We bought from Baby Pit Stop. She is based in Penang and does COD. Which is a good thing cause you can go to her place and talk to her, get some tips on how to use these things.

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From Happy Heinys. With those “prings”, any daddy would be happy, not to mention the heinys..

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This is rumparooz.

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The famous gro baby.

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Bumgenuis

No review on the performance, comfort and quality of the products till we get a suitable and reliable tester.

Dusty old bear.