Monday, 12 October 2009

Hell and damnation's just salvation upside down

"hell and damnation's just salvation upside down".

was one of the earliest influence of my adolescent. It was part of a song titled 'Salvation' by Luba. Sweet memories of when I got to watch her live performance at Ontario Place. Ever since, I sought to look for the opportunities behind the challenges that life threw at me. We all will probably agree and some would have had positively experienced the proverb:

"behind every problem, lies an opportunity" - anonymous.

In these couple of weeks, there has been several people whom I've known who has passed away. Especially in times like these, Luba's lyrics would frequently fill my head. So I guess the next logical thought would be to ask ourselves, what's the opportunity behind a death? Who gains from such a grievance?

We live in a world where most scenarios are a 'zero-sum' game. Our resources are limited. When one dies, it opens the door to the young who's fighting for resources to survive. This is more evident in other species. Imagine kangaroos that don't grow old and die, can't imagine the poor Aussies. When we die, we make space for the young, we release wealth and other resources that the young can use to survive. There's just isn't adequate resources if nobody dies. So, everybody dies. Eventually.

That brings us to another 'opportunity', that is to cherish our ones still alive. To make that everyday count. To live. To remind us that life is too precious and too short to waste. We cherish the ones who has passed on, but let this be a reminder to cherish the ones still by our side.

Back to a more interesting 'logical extension' to this proverb. In our 'zero-sum' game, if the proverb "behind every problem, lies an opportunity" is true, so will the reverse!

"behind every opportunity, lies a problem"

The "problem" will more accurately be understood in terms of 'cost' and it may take the varying forms, like financial cost, envy from others, complacency, effort, time, denying others of success, etc...

This is something we don't normally consider. For every win or accomplishment we've made, what's the actual cost to me and to the world we live in? If we search hard enough, we'll find it. And this may be the very reason for the current state of our economy, environment and society.

This can be applied to us individually and even to organizations. When we get more successful, we naturally get more complacent. It takes a conscious effort not to - and this is part of the cost. When we win a race, we're denying someone else of that place, probably creating envy and such. When we made some money in the stock market, its someone else who loses. When countries develop, it costs the environment.

A recent Krugman article caught my attention about the 'cost' of rescuing the economy. We're in our current state because we've been so good at doing well economically, we've managed to bypass good governance and sound practices. These things need to correct itself. Some naturally, some through policy changes. Artificially rescuing the economy alone isn't going to save us from similar problems in the future.

The next time we're going in for the kill and while we're building our success, remember to consider and understand the consequences of our own success.

Monday, Oct 12 2009

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Why is the US DOD logo on this site?

I really can't remember, but I thought I'd leave it there to see how long before someone asks me to remove it.

Thursday, 6 March 2008

When are you migrating?

One of the usual 'tea-tarik' topics, more common than 'are you migrating?' and definitely more relevant than 'where are you migrating?' is 'when are you migrating?'

Anywhere seems better than this place; be it Australia, Singapore, the US, Europe even China and Thailand. As long as discrimination isn't part of the constitutions and even opportunities are promised.

Not all of us can go. Obviously some of us are luckier than the average Malaysian. In my last discussion with a migratory hopeful, a finance grad who seems to have his head screwed on thinks he would be able to save over a million ringgit on education alone on his 2 children if he could obtain an Australian citizenship.

Even if it is not about saving money, it's a common fact that unless you're wealthy enough to send your kids to an International school, Singapore's level of education far exceeds ours.

Migration is not only for the non-Malays, I know of several Malays who has either migrated or are planning to. After all, the NEP's unfair discriminatory policies have only mainly benefited the elites and friends of those in power. Another interesting fact is you don't find the well connected non-Malays, those close to the people in power ever objecting the NEP. An observation that supports the paradoxical idea of the racial discriminatory NEP policies, in practise, has no racial boundaries when it comes to the beneficiary and clearly benefits only those in power.

In the extremities of it, there are those amongst us who wouldn't want to start a family yet because they don't want their children growing up in a system rife with corruption, where their child will grow up thinking racial discrimination is part of life and experience a system that doesn't practice meritocracy.

There are countless reasons for migrating, we are all too familiar with the reasons. This is not the time for this but there is something more urgent. Its about our general elections, particularly the one on th 8th of March 2008.

When I hear Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, Tony Pua and other opposition speakers talking about our eroding standards in education, environment, racial harmony and economy and their pledge and plans to fix it; I have hope. For once, there's an alternative to migrating. If we really vote these folks into power and if these problems are addressed, there's genuine hope for all of us. clearly, a more practical alternative to migrating. After all, how many of us can actually afford to migrate even if we wanted to? At last, the issue of migration, as it should be, would be a matter of 'where would we like to migrate to?' as opposed to 'we have to migrate'. Subtle, yet very distinctively important.

What has these two topics got to do with each other? Everything! I had the opportunity to speak to one of the inner circles of the opposition camp (at least that's what I would like to believe) about this elections and the one thing that made writing this so urgent was when he squarely faced me with unblinking eyes he said, "if we aren't able to deny BN their 2/3 majority, get out! Just migrate, there's not point staying here anymore."

We have put one of our best effort, its one of the best timing and opportunity, where the BN is the weakest and sentiments are not in their favor. If we still don't win, its either the majority of the people don't want to be helped or the election system is so wrong that we'll never be able to win. Either way, its the acid test and what I imagine this as the election of my lifetime.

So if we lose this election, and unless you're hoping for a military coupe like in Thailand recently, the next big question after the election at our favorite mamak stalls should be 'when are you migrating?'

"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."

(Edmund Burke)

Sunday, 16 December 2007

Some good reasons to run

1. don't need a club membership
2. don't need a partner
3. don't need to be of a specific time
4. not specific to climate or weather
5. no special equipment needed, just a pair of shoes
6. can be done over business trips, holidays, workdays, weekdays, weekends
7. you can smell and appreciate your surrounding more
8. a great way to stay in shape
9. its good for health
10. a way to socialize (join the harriers or pacesetters)
11. you can run with your family, friends or even strangers
12. if you have a dog, the dog will surely enjoy it
13. its a great place to appreciate a new place
14. because Terry Fox does it...

Friday, 23 November 2007

Here's a list of places that serves single malts in Kuala Lumpur (KL).

'-' means no information available
'n/a' means not available, as in not serving
all prices in RM (Ringgit Malaysia)

don't forget to check out the single malt whisky retail store Single and Available and an excellent local blog that covers single malts, Plonkwonk.

Having problems viewing the spreadsheet? You can view the document here.

Monday, 18 June 2007

Bikes over cars...

I've been asked numerous times why I've chosen a bike rather than a car as my primary mode of transport. So, I thought it will be more efficient to make a list. So here it is:

  1. Unless riding bicycles, walking or using the public transport are options, the bike's a whole lot more environmentally friendlier than a car. We should all do our bit, shouldn't we?
  2. Its less expensive to operate, as in fuel, mechanical wear and tear, oil change, road tax, etc... More importantly, no toll charges (that's a big deal in KL!) and free parking (most of the time). Nice, huh?
  3. Inconsiderate and rude car drivers are really annoying. KL's full of them, cutting queues, closing the gap between them and the car in front whenever you try to change lanes unto theirs, changing lanes for the sake of getting ahead (it doesn't really work - trust me - unless you're on the bike) and being plain reckless. If you're driving and trying hard not to be like them, its impossible not to take notice of the car that's cutting the queue in front of you. If you don't join them being rude, its difficult to fight off the feeling that you've been taken advantage of. That's a situation I avoid like a plague. Being on the bike, one is shielded a little more from this problem. The days I have to drive a car to work, I'm usually in a fowl mood unless I travel before 7am.
  4. Its less of an elitism riding a bike than a fancy car. In the place where I dwell, some of the folks here tend to associate wealth to the price of the car one drives. Its gotten so bad that some of us practically worship luxury car owners. Owning an expensive car and elitism is just hard to divorce. I just can't see myself being caught up in another one of life unnecessary spiral traps. Bikes are relatively affordable. Both in the sense of buying the vehicle as well as maintaining it. My bike's only RM 12K to own. Try to buy a car in Malaysia for that price. Furthermore, top of the end sports bikes are less than RM 80K brand new. Compared to sports cars, its at least 8 to 15 times cheaper. I feel a lot more comfortable when I participate in something that is more accessible, believing in anti-elitism. Same reason to run. No fancy club memberships required.
  5. You don't have to endure excessive chatting, small talk, nagging, complaints about the obvious and inevitable or even stomach the times when you get the cold silent treatment. That's what full-face helmets are designed for - besides protection, they're engineered to take out the noise. No matter who's with you, its just you and the road. Don't even have to think about the next cool thing to say to impress your date. Wear ear-plugs for added effect!
  6. It may be actually good for your back. Well, that's not exactly factual but we do know that driving cars are a cause of back problems. Doctors just don't have enough data for bikers yet. However, whenever I drive a car over prolonged hours at a time, my back do act up, something I don't experience on a bike. My orthopedic specialist did say that the bike might be good for my back. I swear, he's a real doctor and a pretty good one too!
  7. Err... it looks cool? Well, at least from the perspective of the biker. Once, on the home-bound biking trip, my friend and I stopped at the Sungai Buloh rest area for a drink. We spotted an all women group chatting and decided to park our bikes at a noticeable distance. The first part worked. We and our bikes got their attention all right. However, as we took off our helmets and walked away from our bikes, the ladies' attention was still fixated on our bikes rather than on us. Hmmm... maybe taking off our helmets shouldn't have been part of the plan. Anyway, biking does some good for yer' soul:
    • Life's precious and more fragile than we like it to be. Can't help feeling vulnerable without the outer protective shell of a car body. A care-free ride down the open road yet being cautious and alert. The paradox of being responsible yet not to take life too seriously.
    • There's little storage space on the bike. It helps me to remember not to hog or unnecessarily acquire material things. Junk management.
    • Control your power. Even for an old 1991 750cc street-bike like mine, thats about 70 horses pushing a mass just over 200 kilos. That's a power to weight ratio of about 0.3582 HP/kg. One can effortlessly reach 100 km/h under 10 secs or less. Power like this is outright dangerous if poorly controlled.
    • Focus and attention. Its literally a matter of life and death if one has the inability to stay focus while riding. Being focused for extended periods of time has its benefits, like meditating, it has a calming effect after.
    • Cherish the environment. Without the familiar air-con we get in cars, bikers get to smell EVERYTHING, both the good and the bad, all along the journey. The sweet smell of flowers, the curry cooking in a pot, the rubbish trucks, the burning wood, the quality of the air, the burnt smell of tyres. You just feel more connected to the environment. It helps you care more about it.
  8. The science of how the bike works just amazes me. I still get this jelly like feeling in my gut every time I take a corner, being reminded of the gyro effect taking place, keeping the bike upright. The counter-intuitive act of turning the handlebars left for a right turn. WOW!
  9. Its a lot quicker to get to where you want to go. Remember how pleasant it is to drive in the city when there's a long holiday? Bikers get that daily. Furthermore, its not merely carving precious time off the road traffic but parking as well. One weekend, a couple of moons ago, I was silly enough to drive a car to the Wan Utama shopping centre on a Sunday afternoon. It took me at least 45 minutes of frustration and regret before I found an empty car lot. I swear never to do such dumb things again.
  10. But most important of all, I once read somewhere that "...if getting to and from work ain't the best part of work, you ain't got a life". It was the caption under a photo of a biker and his bike, confronting a corner in a windy country road. That poster was etched into my memory ever since. I love the feeling of taking on a corner with a bike. Ain't too many experiences in the world that tops that - and you get it everyday for practically nothing. Imagine.

For completeness sake and to be fair, here's the downside:

  1. Its pretty inconvenient when it rains. It doesn't fail to rain whenever we forget to bring our raincoats. But even if we do have our raincoats, we are usually soaked from our own sweat from the heat caught under the raincoats in the tropical whether. Ain't exactly pleasant.
  2. Try carrying a can of Pringles on a bike! For something fragile, taking a cab makes better sense.
  3. Lack of storage. But look at the bright side, your friends are less likely to borrow your bike for those house moving rituals! However, with some effort, I've managed to carry a Meade ETX 70 telescope with all its accessories including the tripod from KL to Morib. Even carried a couple of pretty large rack mounted equipment once. But hey, bikes are not exactly designed to carry stuff.
  4. You can't really carry more than 1 passenger. Although I once did managed to carry 2 others but for over a short distance - its illegal in most parts of the world.
  5. Pollution from noise and dust.

They may be others but I'm going to stop here. Probably biased - like entirely missing the point that its a whole lot more painful, dangerous and riskier than a car when it comes to road accidents. But that's a matter for another blog. For now, ride safely.


Thursday, 29 March 2007

Sitting Duck Experiment Results (Helmet experiment)

The updated results are tabulated below. Please have a look at the legend for more info or read the intro here. Thanks...

Stats collected since the beginning of the experiment (18th March 2007) and doesn't include when the bike's in my own home.

Tuesday, 27 March 2007

Sitting Duck Experiment Legend (helmet)

The legend for the sitting duck experiment:

RLC - Royal Lake Club, bike parking at level B1
BV2a - Bangsar Village II (bike parking by the road just beside Devi's Corner)

BV2b - Bangsar Village II, designated bike parking opposite mosque

BV2c - Bangsar Village II, pavement parking few doors from Kiosk

KLPAC - KLPAC, "Kuala Lumpur Performance Arts Centre", designated bike parking
SPR - South Pacific Restaurant, PJ New Town
Res - Gated residence in PJ

USJ - Subang, underground bike parking just beside payment booth
CURVE - The Curve Shopping Mall, bike parking underground
CCD - Cathay Ciniplex Damansara, connected to the Curve, underground designated bike parking
PBD - Starbucks @ Pusat Bandar Damansara, street parking
BNM - Bank Negara Malaysia, designated bike parking in gated compound
SS14 - PJ Section 14, designated bike parking by the road next to Jaya Supermarket

BTS - Berjaya Times Square, designated bike parking at Level 1

SUP - Subang Parade, designated bike parking

1U - Bandar Utama Shopping Complexs, designated underground bike parking with guard on duty

MPP - Megan Phileo Promenade, used to known as Phileo Ampang. Bike parked inside compound.

CBU - CentrePoint, Bandar Utama. Street parking just outside the barrier for car entry. They don't allow bike inside :(

BPJ - Bandar Puchong Jaya, street parking by the shoplots.

WG - Wisma Genting, street parking

CS - Chulan Square, street parking

SS - Sunway Cycle [ No.19, Jalan PJS 7/17] - my favorite bike shop

AM - Morning, generally before noon
PM - Afternoon, from noon to dusk
NT - Night, from dusk till midnight
LT - Late, generally covers from dusk till 3:00 am or 4:00 am
ON - Overnight, usually from dusk till dawn
AD - All day, from morning till midnight
24 - 24 hours, self explanatory, I hope.

Sunday, 25 March 2007

Introduction to this site

I've decided to join the world of bloggers to articulate ideas I may have, share my experiences and most importantly my little experiments. Here's an experiment about how long before somebody steals your helmet off a bike if its left unattended for a period of time.

I use a bike as my default mode of transport, it makes a lot more sense in busy chaotic city like Kuala Lumpur. Despite having a Monokey, storage space is still an issue. Being constantly reminded about limited space and having to choose what to bring teaches me the 'Zen of minimizing".

Amazingly, it all started from smoking. I was considering to buy some health insurance and was enlighted to know that single men 37 and above was in a special high risk category. I would be turning 35 in June and if I would like to pay a little less for the premiums, I'd better purchase it while I'm 34. The problem is, I've put on a little too much weight since I stopped smoking. I started running (again) but need to accelerate my weight loss bygoing to the gym. Ever since I started frequenting the gyms before and after work, therefore, I need a little more storage space for my running shoes and a change of clothes.

Contrary to what I've been taught, that is to never leave your helmet on your bike even for a few minutes, I'm running an experiment to see, if at all, how long it takes before somebody nicks it. The spare helmet is a cheap half helmet, and together with my rain coat, is covered in a helmet bag, wrapped with a rainproof cover (from Pertama complexs) and snapped into place with a bungee net to my back seat.

Initially, I started logging details about the place, exact time and date of where I've parked my bike but considered it a little too private for me. Anyway, I doubt the exact date would really matter in this experiment. See here for the legend, or go here for the experimental data.

If you're wondering about the name of this blog, its the name of the first experiment written on this blog. Its also my Starcraft's handler.