Thursday, September 29, 2005
Blogger.com is free and we don't have to put up with ad banners unlike other free blogger sites. So the least we can do is leave whatever else blogger.com has put up on the site alone!
Ok, I came across a funny picture, or should I say kinky, on a blog today. Here check it out yourself. One has to be indeed kinky to put one's privates in an exhaust pipe, and dressed in a teddy at that! Hahaha.
I also came across some pretty blogskins on some sites today. Here are a few examples.
Wednesday, September 28, 2005
I was quite amused when I came across this blog (sorry, forgot to bookmark it) with an entry called Readerless Blogs. He asked how many blogs are out there that are readerless? Heheh. I left a comment, "see I dropped by and read your blog, keep going". :-)
As for this blog of mine, I know there is one regular reader, that is, dear hubby himself. :-) Some friends tell me they come back and read my blog too but they never leave comments.
Readerless or not, blogging at least for me, has become the journaling that I was never disciplined enough to maintain. I like this format because I can post pictures and write just about anything. The things I write don't have to be personal experiences, merely observations.
Tuesday, September 27, 2005
I am proud that Malaysia has donated to the Hurricane Katrina relief fund. The amount may not seem much but the fact that Malaysians saw the devastation wrought by the hurricane and felt compelled enough to help and donate is most noteworthy. :-)
Malaysia gives RM3.7m to hurricane victims in US
KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia has given US$1mil (RM3.76mil) to the United States to provide relief for victims of Hurricane Katrina that recently lashed through Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana.
Foreign Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar presented the money to American Red Cross president and CEO Marsha Evans at its headquarters in Washington yesterday.
Syed Hamid, in the United States to deliver a keynote address at the Malaysia-US Bilateral Colloquium, said the two countries had long enjoyed warm and close relations in various fields, such as trade, defence, education, tourism and counter-terrorism.
Therefore, it was only natural for Malaysia to help the United States in its difficult period.
Syed Hamid added that Malaysia was committed, on humanitarian grounds, to help countries afflicted by natural disasters.
In accepting Malaysia's donation, Evans expressed her appreciation, saying that it indicated the country's commitment to humanitarian assistance.
I am also proud that Malaysia, according to Syed Hamid, is committed to assisting any country on humanitarian grounds. This attitude is commendable. Let not our biases or our political disagreements be hindrances to rendering any help to people who need it. We can never tell when it will be our turn to be on the receiving end of much needed aid and assistance.
Monday, September 26, 2005
Should we condemn such actions? If we do, are we being judgemental? Are we saying that those married men who fall for single women bad, and that we who condemn are better than they? Don't judge for we might find ourselves in such a situation in future?
Those were some follow-up questions that came up during a discussion at an online forum, to the initial question, "What if a married man has the hots for a single woman?"
That initial question elicited quite a reaction from certain married members of the forum. It could be the question had hit close to home for some, and certain participants did not like the idea of being judgemental on others for fear one day they might find themselves in the position of a married man having the hots for a single woman. :-)
My only response to the discussion was, a married man has no business having the hots for a single woman, and a single woman has no business having the hots for a married man.
Sunday, September 25, 2005
Rita's Destruction Falls Short of Fears
"As bad as it could have been, we came out of this in pretty good shape," Texas Gov. Rick Perry said after taking a helicopter tour Sunday.
Even with nearly 1 million in the region without electricity, some coastal towns flooded to the rooftops and the prospect of nearly 3 million evacuated residents pouring back onto the highways for home, the news was overwhelmingly positive.
Petrochemical plants that supply a quarter of the nation's gasoline suffered only a glancing blow, with just one major plant facing weeks of repairs. The reflooding in New Orleans from levee breaks was isolated mostly to areas already destroyed and deserted, and could be pumped out in as little as a week. And contrary to dire forecasts, Rita and its heavy rains moved quickly north as a tropical depression instead of parking over the South for days and dumping a predicted 25 inches of torrential rains.
Most significantly, deaths were minimal — with only two reported so far — largely because residents with fresh memories of Katrina heeded evacuation orders and the storm followed a path that spared Houston and more populous stretches of the coast.
I am indeed glad that the damage caused by Rita is not as bad as initially feared. I am really sorry for those who lost their property in the hurricane and also those who lost loved ones.
Friday, September 23, 2005
As I write this, my ears are tuned to Fox News Channel, which has their reporters carrying out their commentaries live in various parts of the gulf coast. I hear the wind, and the description of what each reporter is going through as the hurricane draws even closer to where they are.
I can't imagine myself standing outside in the wind and rain and reporting matter of factly the montrous storm. I remember seeing an NBC reporter being blown off his feet as he reported a similar storm quite some time ago.
I pray to God that the destruction the hurricane will most undoubtedly cause will be as minimal as possible considering the size of the storm. The Governor of Texas, had the right idea when he said, "Pray for Texas." Amen to that.
Thursday, September 22, 2005
It's officially the start of Fall today. And the weather is co-operating with the change of season. :-) I remember the first year we moved to northern California. The weather stayed warm till November! I wondered if it was ever going to cool down.
The one thing I wished we get a lot more of here is the fall colors. There are not that many trees that change with the season in California. Most of the trees where I live are ever green trees and the ones that do change color are not spectacular enough. The leaves turn yellow and then brown and fall off the trees.
One of my friends living in Maryland tells me how she and her family would take drives just to see the fall colors. The first year I arrived in this country, Doug and I drove to Arkansas in the fall, but it was a little late in the season. We missed the prettiest part of the season.
I would still like to visit one of the states in the east coast during the fall so I can enjoy all the beauty fall has to offer.
Saturday, September 17, 2005
From Journey Malaysia:
This festival falls on the 8th month, 15th day of the Chinese Lunar Calendar, making it on the 18th September for 2005 around the time of the Autumn Equinox. In the Western calendar, this festival normally falls between the 2nd week of September and the 2nd week of October.My Malaysian friends, who visited me recently, brought me some mooncakes which they had bought in San Francisco. They told me those were actually replacements for mooncakes which two sisters in Malaysia had sent me through them. :-( Apparently the mooncakes they brought from Malaysia were confiscated by a custom official at the port of entry. Why? Because the mooncakes contained egg yolk! Grrr!
The Mooncake Festival or Lantern Festival or Mid-Autumn Festival , call it what you will - is a celebration of unity. This festival is believed to have originated from the ancient ceremony of Sacrificing to the Moon Goddess for the year's end harvest. This is when families return to celebrate and give thanks for the year's bounty. Offerings of their harvest such as apples, pears, peaches, grapes, pomegranates , melons, oranges and pomelos were common. Other offerings cooked, baked etc included moon cakes, cooked taro, and water caltrope, a type of water chestnut resembling black buffalo horns. And of course, 'tang yuen' made from glutinous rice. 'Yuen' means 'round' which symbolize "completeness" as in "yuen man" of the cycle. Thus, it means unity and harmony within the family.
The Mid-Autumn Festival is a traditional festivity for both the Han and minority nationalities. The custom of worshipping the moon can be traced back as far as the Xia and Shang Dynasties (2000B.C.-1066B.C.). In the Zhou Dynasty(1066B.C.-221B.C.), villagers held ceremonies in preparation for the arrival of winter and to celebrate the beauty of the new moon. In the later dynasties, mooncakes were baked and sent to relatives as gifts of family reunion.Traditionally, thirteen moon cakes were stacked into a pyramid to symbolise the thirteen moons of a "complete year," that is, twelve moons plus one intercalary moon.
The Mooncake Story
During the Yuan dynasty (A.D. 1280-1368) China was ruled by the Mongolians. Rebel leaders unhappy with the overlords, plotted to overthrow the government. As the Mid-Autumn Festival drew near, the rebels ordered cakes baked and distributed to the villages. Messages of the outline of the attack were baked into the cakes.
On the night of the Festival, the rebels with the help of local villagers, successfully overthrew the government and later established the Ming dynasty (1368-1644 A.D.). Hence from then on, the Mooncake Festival is celebrated on a large scale.
What? Were they afraid that bird flu virus might have been in the egg? Give me a break! There are tons of mooncake imported from China available right here in our oriental stores! It just makes you wonder about the intelligence of the people who are supposed to guard our borders!
Friday, September 16, 2005
In my earlier post I mentioned something about first day school jitters being avoided after a 2 day participation in a summer program. How wrong I was, about one of them, that is! Duncan, being the sociable little guy that he is, has a blast at school. It is hard to make him leave at the end of the day. As for Denice, every time we arrive at school, there are tears and howls. She doesn't want to be there. Every time I come to pick them up at the end of the day, she just cannot wait for me to take her out of there. :-(
Well, today is the first time, that she eagerly went into her classroom. She even waved goodbye at me! :-) I am so happy to see her finally settling down and learning to get along with the other children in the class. Well, sort of learn to get along with the other kids! :-)
Already they are saying more words then when they first entered pre-school. Duncan said his first 2 word sentence yesterday. It was just "Oh, no!" but that was good enough for me! :-) I am sure by the end of the year they'll be a lot more talkative. And when they do start talking, I'm not so sure if they'll know when and how to stop!
Tuesday, September 13, 2005
Fashion show only for women
BY IAN MCINTYRE
KOTA BARU: You can have your fashion show but no husbands please – that’s the order from the PAS government of Kelantan to the womenfolk.
“There is no need for husbands to be present at the show. The wives can just tell them what they want to buy,” said state executive councillor Takiyuddin Hassan yesterday.
The fashion show is part of the programme to celebrate the declaration of the state capital as an Islamic City on Oct 1.
Entertainment that day will be alternative – not to be mistaken for “alternative music” though.
Alternative here means “in accordance with religious guidelines,” said Takiyuddin, such as separating the men and women in the audience.
“PAS understands that there is a need for entertainment as a form of temporary escapism but it must be orderly and not lead to unhealthy activities or influences,” he added.
Akademi Fantasia 3 winner Mawi has been invited to perform that day but fellow performer, veteran rocker Ramli Sarip, may have to tone down his act.
I have no problem with a fashion show where only women are present. :-) I guess you won't find any male designer at the show either! They will just have to send their female representatives.
“There is no need for husbands to be present at the show. The wives can just tell them what they want to buy". Huh? Is Takiyuddin Hassan saying that these wives do not have any control over their purse strings? That they need their husbands to pay for the clothes they want to buy? Is he also saying that none of the women at the fashion show has a paying job where she can spend her money any way she wants?
As for singers, Mawi and Ramli Sarip, they can both please the PAS government officials by singing nasyid songs. They won't go wrong there! :-)
P.S. In truth, I find the first part of the news story amusing! This is happening in Malaysia, my country of origin! :-)
Sunday, September 11, 2005
And so that was what I did. I participate in a forum where the main language used is Iban ( a language of an indigenous group in the Malaysian state of Sarawak on the island of Borneo). One of the members there is a young lady who had just graduated in Materials Engineering. Now I salute anyone clever enough to have graduated in any engineering discipline!
So when I saw "I'm lost and dun want to be find" on this young lady's signature line, I decided that I would help her correct that poorly written sentence! :-) Since that line is going to appear in every post (until she decides to change it) that she makes in the forum, I thought she would appreciate my help. I sent her a private message but did not hear from her (for about a month) until today.
She had started a new thread in the forum and it was the private message I had sent her! :-) Boy, was she upset!! Upset enough to expose to everyone the private message I had sent her. So upset that she is accusing me of having nothing better to do than correcting her bad English!! You should see the responses she got from the other members regarding her post!
I don't have to respond to her because I believe the other members are doing a fine job of telling her off about her pride and about her inability to accept well-intentioned corrections sent to her in private.
Oh to be young and so full of yourself! :-)
It has been 4 years since the September 11 attacks. Mark Steyn does a good job of telling us how much we have forgotten what the attacks were all about. Read the rest of his column here.
Terror war all but forgotten on home front
Sept. 11, 2005 -- Four years ago, I thought the "war on terror" was a viable concept. To those on the right who scoffed that you can't declare war on a technique, I pointed out that Britain's Royal Navy fought wars against slavery and piracy and were largely successful. Of course, since then we've had the shabby habit of presidents declaring a "war on drugs" and a "war on poverty" and, with hindsight, that corruption of language has allowed Americans to slip the war on terror into the same category -- not a war in the sense that a war on Fiji or Belgium is a war, but just one of those vaguely ineffectual aspirational things that don't really impinge on you that much except for the odd pointless gesture -- like the shoe-removing ritual before you board a flight at Poughkeepsie. The "war on terror" label has outlived whatever usefulness it had.
And, as the years go by, it becomes clearer that the war aspects -- the attacks in New York, Washington, Bali, Madrid, Istanbul, London -- are really spasmodic flashes of a much more elusive enemy. Although Islamism is the first truly global terrorist insurgency, it shares more similarities with conventional terror movements -- the IRA or the Basque separatists -- than many of us thought four years ago. Terror groups persist because of a lack of confidence on the part of their targets: the IRA, for example, calculated correctly that the British had the capability to smash them totally but not the will. So they knew that while they could never win militarily, they also could never be defeated. That's what the Islamists have bet.
I am a Campbell by marriage, and the motto of the Campbell clan is Ne Obliviscaris which means Never Forget. And this Campbell is not likely to forget!
The Star Online: NationIf I were the envoys, I would walk out too. In a democracy, one does have the right to talk, but one does not have the right to be listened to.
Saturday September 10, 2005
BY M. KRISHNAMOORTHY
KUALA LUMPUR: Three European diplomats walked out of the conference hall during Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s speech when he criticised US and British policies on Iraq.
His comments that the American and British-led invasion of Iraq was based on lies that the country possessed weapons of mass destruction did not go down well with British High Commissioner Bruce Cleghorn, Hungarian ambassador Tamas Toth and Dutch deputy ambassador Luc Schillings, who got up and left.
The former prime minister was speaking at a conference on human rights organised by the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) which was attended by about 350 participants.
“The British and American bomber pilots came, unopposed, safe and cosy in their state-of-the-art aircraft, pressing buttons to drop bombs, to kill and maim real people who were their targets, just targets.
“And these murderers, for that is what they are, would go back to celebrate mission accomplished,” Dr Mahathir said.
At a press conference later, when asked what he thought of the diplomats walking out, he said: “Well! I am sorry. As much as they have the right to criticise me, they should give me the right to criticise them.
“But if you don’t want to hear my criticisms of them, then you are denying my right to speak up.”
Dr Mahathir added that there was no tally of Iraqi deaths but every single death of an American was reported to the world.
“These are soldiers who must expect to be killed. But the Iraqis who died because of US action or the civil war in Iraq that the US precipitated were innocent civilians who under the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein would have been alive.
“You and I read reports of the death of Iraqis with equanimity as if it is right and just. You and I do not react with anger and horror over this injustice, this abuse of the rights of the Iraqis to live, to be free from terror including state-initiated terror,” he said.
When Cleghorn was asked to comment on his walkout, he issued a statement: “I was invited by Suhakam to attend the opening of their Human Rights Day conference.
“I accepted out of respect for Suhakam and for Tun Dr Mahathir.
“Unfortunately I found myself listening to abuse and misrepresentation about my country. I therefore left.”
Suhakam commissioner Prof Datuk Hamdan Adnan said the walkout was “very, very distasteful.”
“If they claim to subscribe to the democratic process, why can’t they listen?” he asked.
Did I miss it or something? Did Tun Mahathir ever complain about the genocide in Iraq under Sadam Hussein? When the Kurds were gased by Sadam, did Tun Mahathir ever voice his outrage? What about Iraqis killing Iraqis in the current war? Have you heard him condemn the acts?
What about the people that were detained under Malaysia's Internal Securtiy Act when he was Prime Minister? Weren't those abuses of human rights on the people detained? He's a fine one to talk about human rights!
Saturday, September 10, 2005
Yes, I know there are 7 HBO channels, but I would be quite happy with just one! Grrr! Why was I able to access all the HBO channels the other night?
Oh, that was just a promotion!
Oh yeah. :-( A lot of good that does me!
Oh ma'am, let me check if there is a promotion I can give you, now I can't promise you anything ... How about Showtime? Would you like Showtime?
I don't want to pay for anything extra, ok?
Lo and behold, I have access to Starz and Showtime! :-) Now I don't know for how long though. But while I still have access to those channels might as well enjoy them while I can! This morning I enjoyed Chow Yun Fatt in Bullet-proof Monk. That was a good action flick! Love the action sequences. Later in the morning I watched Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star. It was quite funny and I enjoyed that too. Tonight there's going to be an Angelina Jolie movie, might want to catch that one too! :-)
Thursday, September 08, 2005
I am not going to give them the satisfaction of taking more of my money! I will just wait for any HBO channel that they allow you to watch on some nights - just so you realize what you are missing! Hmm. Last night I noticed that I had access to all the HBO channels and one Cinemax channel (not included in my programming package) even had a soft core porn film on! Good thing it was late at night, and no one else was around with the remote surfing the channels! Hahahaha!
The programming package I chose also included enough chilren's programming to keep my children occupied. For a work-at-home mom like me that is important! :-) Elmo and Barney are on TV, go to your room and watch them. :-)
But more important to me than the movie channels are the news channels. There are enough news channels to keep me happy especially for a news junkie like me.
Tuesday, September 06, 2005
I'm looking forward to their short visit. I'm also looking forward to taking them to the Galt Flea Market tomorrow. They'll be reminded of the Pasar Malam in Malaysia (Night Market) when they see it.
Since they'll only be spending a night here with us in Galt, there won't be much time to show them the other surrounding areas, which is a pity. I'll take them for a drive and show them the vineyards that we have around here. Maybe even stop by a winery and sample some wine. :-)
Sunday, September 04, 2005
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Bush has the rare opportunity to name two justices to the U.S. Supreme Court after the death Saturday of Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist.
"It will serve the best interest of the nation to fill those vacancies promptly," Bush said in a brief message in the Roosevelt Room of the White House.
The president said he would move quickly to nominate a "highly qualified" chief justice but offered no clues Sunday as to his choice.
Perhaps I should rephrase that title. Let the fight begin in earnest. :-) Now that President Bush has the rare opportunity to fill 2 vacancies (from Justice Sandra Day O'Connor's retirement, and the passing of Chief Justice Rehnquist) to the country's highest court, there will surely be much "blood-letting" from all interests groups. Conservatives and liberals.
It will be quite the spectacle, I'm sure. My only hope is that the Republicans act the majority that they are in Congress, and not yield to the demands of the opposition. The rule of the game is, the President gets to name his choices, and Congress gets to vote on them. Vote on the merits of the nominees. No filibustering, no stalling. Just an up or down vote on the nominees.
With so much at stake for those who like to have laws legislated from the bench, I doubt there will be much civility in the whole process. One can only hope.
I'm trying to picture a different aftermath of Hurricane Katrina's destruction of New Orleans: one in which all residents were evacuated in advance, no lives were lost, order was perfectly maintained, emergency supplies were delivered and distributed in ample quantities with flawless precision, and everyone was pleased with how well the government performed.
And you know what? I can't do it.
These things are called disasters for a reason: They have terrible consequences, most unavoidable and some unforeseeable. When nature unleashes its fury, it leaves a mess no amount of human ingenuity can instantly dispel. The images of chaos and death in New Orleans come as a shock, but what would we expect of the worst natural disaster in American history? Yet some people behave as though only incompetence or evil motives could account for anything that went wrong.
Read the rest of the article here. There seems to be a limitless number of finger-pointing and scape-goating going on as to why it took 5 days for help to arrive in New Orleans.
But of all the reasons for the slow response this one seems the most mind-boggling. This is from The Washington Post.
Behind the scenes, a power struggle emerged, as federal officials tried to wrest authority from Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco (D). Shortly before midnight Friday, the Bush administration sent her a proposed legal memorandum asking her to request a federal takeover of the evacuation of New Orleans, a source within the state's emergency operations center said Saturday.
The administration sought unified control over all local police and state National Guard units reporting to the governor. Louisiana officials rejected the request after talks throughout the night, concerned that such a move would be comparable to a federal declaration of martial law. Some officials in the state suspected a political motive behind the request. "Quite frankly, if they'd been able to pull off taking it away from the locals, they then could have blamed everything on the locals," said the source, who does not have the authority to speak publicly.
A senior administration official said that Bush has clear legal authority to federalize National Guard units to quell civil disturbances under the Insurrection Act and will continue to try to unify the chains of command that are split among the president, the Louisiana governor and the New Orleans mayor.
Saturday, September 03, 2005
There was much anticipation among the Malaysian community living in the US about Anthony Bourdain's travel food show airing on Travel Channel which featured Malaysia. Naturally I was quite excited too but since I did not have cable or satellite TV subscription, I had to rely on second hand information regarding the show! :-(
It's been more than a couple of weeks since the show was first aired on Travel Channel. All I could do then was read viewers' comments of the show on the two Malaysian forums that I am a member of. But since then, a friend has sent me a copy of the show and I had the opportunity to watch the show myself! Better late than never, eh! ;-)
I thoroughly enjoyed the show. I've never watched any of Bourdain's shows but I can say for sure that this guy is very adventurous when it comes to food! Bull penis soup in a curry-like gravy? Available in KL? That was the first I've heard of it!
I feel proud that the variety of food available in Malaysia and the most unlikely places (like under a tree next to a metal shop with all the noise!) that these tasty food is available, was show cased on Bourdain's show.
Being from Sarawak, the Malaysian state on the island of Borneo, I was especially thrilled by the segment showing Bourdain eating "laksa", a specialty from Sarawak, and some wild ethnic food in the jungles of Sarawak. There were several interesting images of Bourdain trekking in the jungle and eating and drinking in the longhouse with the Iban people.
Bourdain made several remarks about "Bejalai" which literally means "to walk". I wished he had pronounced it correctly though. "Bejalai" is something that the Iban people are known for. They will go any where in the world to seek their fortune but they will always return to their roots in Sarawak.
P.S. I have since ordered a subscription for satellite TV service! It will be installed in a couple of days. :-)
Friday, September 02, 2005
This country does not seem prepared to handle any large scale disaster. It took 4 days for help to arrive when Hurricane Andrew hit in 1992. One would think that by now, when a hurricane of such a scale hits, help would come much quicker after lessons learnt from Andrew.
One of the most disgusting after-effects of a large scale disaster such as Hurricane Katrina seems to be how easy lawlessness can ensue. Images of such lawlessness in New Orleans are beamed around the world. I feel embarrassed and disgusted that some evil people can take advantage of an already bad situation.
Why were there still tens of thousands of people in New Orleans when the Mayor had ordered a mandatory evacuation? I don't want to sound cruel but a lot of the blame on what the people are facing now lies on the people themselves. How come the higher ups in the city, in the state and in the federal government find it difficult to get help quickly enough? Makes me believe all the more that I cannot trust the government to help me in my time of need!
Help may have been slow in coming but Americans in general are quick to help with their financial assistance. Private charities are in the front line of the aid. Countless stories of help and assistance are there but of course you won't see very many of those stories on your TV and newspapers!
I just hope the poor and wretched people in New Orleans are able to be moved out of the city quickly now that help seems to be coming. So many have said that they will never return to New Orleans and face the same situation again, a scenario that is likely to happen again, New Orleans being under sea level and the likelihood of another hurricane hitting the city.
I've heard some Californians say that they'd rather put up with earthquakes than tornadoes or hurricanes. Earthquakes happen in a few seconds whereas tornadoes and hurricanes are regular occurences! I'm beginning to agree with what those Californians are saying!
The next day we took her to San Francisco. We didn't see many places because we started the day late. We got to see the Golden Gate Bridge and Fisherman's Wharf. We tasted the sea food there which was overpriced!
Here are some of the pictures we took on our day trip.