Saturday, March 22, 2014

Dead leaves all year round....

Nope. It's not autumn. At least, not in this part of the world, where we effectively have summer all year round.


With leaves falling down all year round, you could say I've an endless task of raking leaves off the ground.

Besides being a visual mess, the fallen leaves are also somewhat of a fire hazard, especially during the dry season that we're currently experiencing in Malaysia.

What's the best way to get rid of the fallen dead leaves? I've ruled out setting them on fire, easy as it may seem. Open burning just isn't an eco-friendly way to get the job done.

My old college-mate, Joon, suggested I resort to composting. Hmm, sounds good, though my first thoughts are it would take next to forever for dead leaves to decompose. Opposed to, say, stuff that drops from cows. Going to if some research to see how to compost effectively. Anyone out there with experience to share do drop me some pointers, please....

Breaking free from blogging boundaries.

Does every post on a blog need a title and a photo?

Sometimes, it's hard to come up with a post which fulfills the "template" of a typical blog post. At least, that's what traditionalists of blogging would tend to expect. Ironically, looking at social media platforms like Google Plus and Twitter, and to lesser extent Facebook, in order to streamline the look and feel, users are forced to conform to the requirements of that particular platform.

Take Twitter for instance. Sure it's come a long way now, but it's still the 140 maximum character micro-blogging platform. No technical reason why you can't post more than 140 characters, but unless Twitter makes a change, you simply just can't.

Likewise for Google Plus, each post looks very much the same, which is good in a way as the focal point is now on the content of the post rather than the looks, but after some time, everything looks very much the same and standardized (in an Apple kind of way, which for some may be a good thing). No blogging titles, no tags, and no index - good luck finding something you posts on pineapple tarts two years ago....

Facebook is certainly not for blogging, something which I've pointed out before, and certainly, in spite of numerous changes to the user interface, things haven't changed in this respect.

Of course, having a high degree of freedom when it comes to designing the looks of you blog does demand a great deal of responsibility and "taste", to avoid spawning some psychedelic creation (like what you often see in Myspace).

Blogging here knowing fully well that the contents are open to the the denizens of the World Wide Web is good - as it keeps me consciously checking that I don't post something that shouldn't go online. Something that the "privacy" of social networking tend to lull us into a false sense of security.

I've come a long way since my first blog on the now abandoned Multiply (the social network that was everything that Facebook is today and more, but sadly no more for reasons that I can't really understand). That alone poured a swimming pool full of cold water on my motivation for blogging. But fortunately, my decision to cross-post to Blogger, the "clone" is the sole survivor today....

Well, don't have to stick to the SEO rules, since this blog isn't monetized. Just a place for me to keep on writing - and to look back fondly on perhaps someday in the future when I'm well into my grandpa days....

Monday, September 2, 2013

RON95 and Diesel up by RM0.20 per liter

As of midnight tonight, Malaysians will have to pay RM0.20 more per liter of Petrol (RON95) and Diesel. This increase comes in after holding fast for nearly 3 years since 2010, with the news travelling fast through cyberspace (testament to the power of social media). What timing for such news, following Merdeka (Independence) Day, which was just 2 days ago....

RON95 and Diesel prices are subsidized by the Government taxpayers' contribution to the IRB, and with the reduction in fuel subsidies to RM0.63 and RM0.80, the projected savings are estimated to be in the region of RM3.3 billion annually.

As mentioned earlier, news travels fast these days. My colleague showed me an SMS on his cellphone, and counter-checking on the internet at a reliable source (good practice to counter-check for hoaxes), I found that this was true : http://www.thestar.com.my/News/Nation/2013/09/02/ron95-up-20-sen.aspx

After work, on the way home, I passed by the Petron gas station next to the 24-hour McDonald's (at the Melaka Mall), and found a massive traffic jam made up of cars waiting in line to refuel. This was not something I had not seen before - as this reaction was triggered each time there was a price increase announced.

Makes no difference to me, as I just refueled 2 days ago on the way back from town after bringing my family to watch the annual Merdeka Day Parade. By a simple calculation, you would only save 50 x price differential (RM0.20) or RM10.00, with the following assumptions:-

1. You have enough space in your fuel tank to fit in 50 liters (mind you that 50 liters is the size of the fuel tank in many family cars)
2. Not factoring in the time and fuel spent driving to the petrol station and waiting in line (and really, really long line it is)

The ugly consequences from greedy traders will be coming up soon, as even insignificant fuel price increases such as these will serve as excuses for them to increase the price of goods, food and services.

There are always those who will complain (ironically, they can afford cars, but not the fuel). For the rest of us, life goes on, with this reminder that things that we often take for granted (just like water) can have a big impact on our daily lives.

Meanwhile, I remind everyone out there, to drive in a more-fuel efficient manner (driving slow like a road hog actually uses more petrol) and when appropriate, use public transport or skip driving altogether (walk / cycle).

Friday, June 28, 2013

Farewell to Elene

Parting is such sweet sorrow, especially for those of us who have been working together for many, many years. And so it turns out that the next in a long line of farewells is none other that our old friend, Elene Tan.

Personally, I've known Elene for over 10 years now, way back in the days when the "pioneer group" of Vishay were all young and restless. Ahem, we're all still young today (at least I believe so) - just that we were younger way back then. Since then, many of us have already become fathers and mothers, but the Gen X spirit is still burning strongly in our hearts.
L to R : "Auntie" Chong SC, Elene (VIP Queen for the night), Sussan from Singapore, VSM-ex-VSM-VSM Chea Thin, "Pinky" Foo (if I understand correctly from Low CL)

Elene was initially in the production planning group, but somewhere in the years gone by made a successful transition to the logistics team. Always on top of the situation, managing things as they happen, and not waiting for something to happen, working with her sure dropped the difficulty level down a couple of notches.

A few of us banded together for a night together at the i-Tango family karaoke, conveniently located at the 2nd floor of the Bukit Beruang Bazaar opposite the gym. I had no idea there was a karaoke there in the first place, but we're most fortunate to have Chong Sew Chu in our group, as she is very "in" when it comes to this genre of socializing....

The VIP room was fitted with 3 screens and was large enough to accommodate our group of 20+ pax. I'm not one with "golden ears", so I can only say that the sound system was not lacking in any particular way. There was 1 wired microphone provided, along with 3~4 wireless ones. Throughout the night, there appeared to be some minor technical challenges with the microphone, mostly coming from weak batteries / dropped connections.

As for the karaoke system itself, the interface was at least orderly and user-friendly and the song list appeared to be quite extensive. Did not really look into it in detail, as my main intention that night was to see Elene off, and not to practice singing. Overall, I do rate the experience more positive relative to the one we had at Mybox karaoke last year.

Though there were many of us from the original pioneer group, like Chong SC, Tan HC, Low CL just to name a few, there were also some "new guys" like Ang CK, Lim CN and Goh YF, and even Sussan from Vishay Singapore, which just goes to show that our team spirit extends across all boundaries.

Ultimately, people come and people go, for various reasons, sometimes unique to the individual. As I understand it, Elene exits the world of semiconductor manufacturing - in fact, leaving entirely the workforce, to focus on family.
Must be the effect of haze getting in their eyes....


Sunday, June 16, 2013

A hazy Sunday morning in Melaka

Penang license plate in front - poor guy, having come all the way here and get caught in bad haze....
The haze is back in this part of town. I found that the entire town was shrouded in a cloud of haze, engulfing the sun and turning what was to be a bright and sunny Sunday morning into a gloom. Like a scene out of one of those Chinese watercolor paintings, only this is actually a real-life depiction of environmental disaster.

At the traffic lights, in the distance I can just barely make out the transmission tower on top of Bukit Beruang. I hope that there are no low flying aircraft around, for visibility is really terrible today.

This isn't the first time we've had such a bad haze - occasionally in the past, this recurs practically each year, as it is believed to be caused by the clear-and-burn methods of the farmers in a close neighbouring country. Of course, we cannot deny that there are local open burnings going on in our country, as anyone driving around in the vicinity of Nilai (towards KLIA and Cyberjaya/Putrajaya can verify).

As if the sight of haze wasn't bad enough, then there's the stench in the air and stinging in the eyes. Lots of respiratory problems potentially waiting to occur - not a good time for those with hay fever or asthma. For those of you out there, who are unfortunate enough to be around here, do stay indoors and drink plenty of water. Putting on a proper face mask when going outdoors seems like a good idea - but make sure you're wearing one that's effective and not just for show.

Really puts a damper on my spirits - as a result, did not manage to bring Charmaine and Christopher for outing. Kids trapped at home really is a sad thing.

The DOE (Department Of Environment) or Jabatan Alam Sekitar Malaysia publishes the API monitoring data on a daily basis on its website : http://www.doe.gov.my

I hope that these people will be struck with realization on the consequences of their actions. Cannot claim that it is perfectly ok to continue what was done since ages ago - lack of awareness and understanding. Till then, holding on to hope and perhaps my breath as well....