Friday, May 30, 2008

Does anybody check the weather forecast anymore?

The Situation:
My maid was not around; there's a heap of dirty clothes in the laundry basket; needed to wash the clothes because soon I would run out of supply; however, the weather has been unpredictable lately. What could I do?

The Options:
1. Send it to the laundry - need to pay only 80 cents for a kg. of clothes. I could also ask them to iron the clothes (yippee!). It's a short-term measure worth considering.
2. Buy a dryer (mom's advice) - the cheapest is about Rm 1000 but it's good investment.
3. Wash the clothes as usual but hang them indoors - yes, if it rains, my clothes would not be soaked. However, the clothes would surely berbau hapak (can't find and English word for that yet).
4. Just hang the clothes outside and pray that it would not rain ...
But wait! Why take that risk? I could check the weather forecast.

The weather forecast or ramalan kajicuaca is regularly featured in the news, radio and newspaper. I remembered when I was small, the ramalan kajicuaca was at the end of the Warta Berita (RTM news laa ...). Back then, it forecasted the weather in all the states in Malaysia. Nowadays, the weather forecast tends to be global in nature.

Out of curiosity, yesterday I visited the Jabatan Meteorologi Malaysia site (no longer called Jabatan Kajicuaca folks!) which offered the weather forecast. Surfers can choose to view the info in English or BM. I just chose the place from the combo box (BTW, Subang Jaya was not listed, so I guess Subang Jayans can choose between Shah Alam or PJ). Then, lo and behold (yea, yea this expression is a tad too classical for blogging! He! He!), I got a week's weather forecast. In Shah Alam yesterday, it was forecasted that there would be ribut petir in the evening.

What did I do with my clothes? Yea, I was a bit skeptical because the sun was shining brightly. So, I washed the clothes, hung them outside and went back to work.

Want to know whether the forecast was accurate? ... Ku sangka panas hingga ke petang, rupanya hujan di tengahari ... (they didn't invent this idiom for nothing!). Yes, it rained (thunder and all) and my clothes were dripping wet! Hu! Hu! So much for taking risks ... Moral of the story: heed the weather forecast.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Kids Say the Darndest Thing

Among my children, the daughter, Amani is the smart alec in the family. Born in the year of the rabbit (under the "earth" element), she is definitely not an "untalkative bunny" (if you watch Disney channel, then you would know what this is...). This girl is a natural, adding some punch lines along the way. Here are some examples:
Me : Would you like to be a doctor like your Pak Ngah when you grow up?
Amani : Er...I don't think so.
Me : Why? Is it because you can't stand the sight of blood?
Amani : No...
Me : Then?
Amani : If I become a doctor, when am I going to sleep?! I need my 'beauty' sleep!
Me : (Betul jugak)
Hubby : Hey, you better spend your duit belanja wisely. Money don't grow on trees, you know!
Amani : Money do grow on trees! Money is made from paper, papers are made from trees.
Money do grow on trees...
Hubby : Banyak (cakap) lah engkau...
At home.
Me : O.K. We've had our lunch. Afterwards when we go shopping don't you dare say;
"Can I have something? I'm hungry, I'm hungry". You have no reason to be hungry.
Amani : O.K.

At Subang Parade 1 hour later...
Amani : Mama, can we stop for awhile?
Me : Sure dear. Why? Tired already?
Amani : You know, all this walking makes me hungry...
Me : Nice try..!
On the phone (20 minutes after my father took the children back to Seremban)...
Me : Hello dear, I miss you lah...
Amani : What? You miss me already? Get a pet!

To my daughter Amani: Who needs a pet when I have you? Miss you darling!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Water Woes in Subang Jaya

"...Tap water in the state is safe for drinking and there is no need to install filters..."
- Datuk Dr. Hassan Ali
Selangor State Executive Councillor in charge of infrastructure
as quoted in The Star, Tuesday 27 May 2008

This was how my ceramic water filter - which was cleaned a week ago - looked today...

You decide whether our tap water is indeed safe for consumption (without water filters)...

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Ikan Siakap Masak Masam Manis

My son is such a fussy eater. Never liked fish until one day when my mum took him to a Thai restaurant. He really liked the "sweet & sour" dish and kept talking about how sedap the fish was. Not to be outdone, I decided to show my son what his mum was capable of whipping up. If some people play the piano by ear, I cook based on taste - pegi restoren, makan, then go back and try to cook it my way.
The ingredients:

1 medium-size siakap fish, 2 tablespoons of corn flour, 4 cloves of garlic - crushed, 1 inch of ginger - slice thinly memanjang, 1 onion - ringed, 1 green pepper - thickly-sliced, 1 tomato - cut into 6, cooking oil, 1/3 cup of maggi tomato ketchup, 1/3 cup of water, 2 tablespoons of sugar, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, white pepper to taste.

Garnish: green onions (daun bawang) & parsley leaves (daun sup) - chopped, pineapple cubes

First of all, clean the fish (if you don't want to DIY, you can ask the fishmonger to do it. (removing the scales can be messy...). Next, rub the corn flour on both sides of the fish. The corn flour will make the skin tasty. Then, in a wok, deep-fry the fish till golden. Set the fried fish aside in a casserole. Garnish with green onions, parsley leaves and pineapple cubes.
For best results, clean the wok before you use it again to cook the sweet & sour sauce. Also, do not use the same cooking oil that was used for frying the fish. Use fresh cooking oil.
Heat 4 tablespoons of oil in the wok. Saute the garlic for a few seconds. Then, add the onion, green pepper, and ginger. Never put ginger first because it cooks fast, unlike garlic which takes some time. When the garlic turns golden, pour in the tomato ketchup (more ketchup, if you please). Stir for a few seconds. When the ketchup starts to sizzle, pour in the water (if you want more sauce, more water, then). Put in the tomato, sugar, salt and white pepper. Stir the sauce now and then. Simmer until you see the tomato skin starts to soften. Turn off the stove.
Pour the sweet & sour sauce onto the fish. Serve hot with rice.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Digital Camera Magazine

While browsing through magazines at a news-stand recently, I saw this gem of a magazine: Digital Camera Magazine. Thought it was a mag from abroad. At close scrutiny, it appeared to be a local mag. Just the perfect magazine for a novice photographer-cum-blogger like me. The month's special focus - capturing close-ups of flowers - saw me depart with my 9.00 Ringgit. Kan I tengah gila ambil gambar bunga! He! He!
From the editorial I discovered that the magazine has actually been around since January 2006. Luckily, I can still obtain back copies if I want to. The publisher is in fact in SS 15. That's what I love about Subang Jaya. Semuanya ada di sini!
The magazine covered a range of topics. Among others, a section entitled "Out There" gave readers tips on taking photos in different situations. "Techniques" guided readers in using tools/software to edit photos. In "New Gears", the writers reviewed new cameras and gadgets in the market. Photos sent by readers were displayed in "Your Photos". Other topics included "Interviews" and "Regulars". All the articles were written in layman's terms (some magazines can be technically intimidating). Contest freaks out there would be pleased to know that the mag ran a few.
Can't wait for the June 2008 issue!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

The Cameras (and cameramen) In My Life

Cameras have been part of my life since the day I was born. Abah was an avid photographer and the loads of albums in our house proved this. Our baby pictures were not the typical b & w baby-on-the-studio-table ones. It would be baby on the car boot. Baby in the pram. Baby bare all... My favourites were the pictures of me taking my first steps - taken like a professional.
When Kodak introduced colour films, Abah became shutter-crazy. Everything had to be recorded in colour. Suffice to say our growing-up years were well-documented. Didn't remember the brand of his SLR camera, but it was his prized possession.
My first camera was a Konica autofocus which I got for doing well in the Penilaian Darjah 5. Bought it in Sungai Wang Plaza for about 200 Ringgit. Why Konica? Well, I was this excited 12-year-old who couldn't wait to embark on a "shooting" rampage. Anything goes. Anyway, I recalled that the pix taken with the Konica were not bad at all. Used the camera for more than 10 years. Around this time, abah had upgraded to a Canon AE 1 SLR which he bought while studying in the U.S. Abah also upgraded his skills by taking a photography course while he was in university. When I was 15, abah would let me use his camera occasionally. He taught me some basic things like shutter speed, aperture, lighting, etc., and I experimented.
At 16, I saw how photos were processed in the dark room -courtesy of my boyfriend who was the school's first Photography Club President (he! he!). This shutter-bug never left home without his Nikon FE 2 SLR. I still remembered the impressive macro shot of a hydrangea that he gave me. He showed me how filters were used to create photo effects. He was also kind enough to lend me his camera...once (orang sayang camera. he! he!). The second Club President was also a boyfriend. And to top it all, 10 years later I married another Photography Club President (from another school). Talk about co-incidences!
In the 90's, hubby and I bought the Canon EOS 888 so that we could take pictures of our first-born. We were satisfied with the photos taken with the camera but three children later, the SLR proved to be a handful (what with the baby bag, stroller not to mention the babies...). With the advent of technology in the new millenium, we had to go for a digital. Hubby wanted to buy the Nikon D60 DSLR but I wanted a compact digital.

Sometime last year, I bought the Ricoh Caplio RR730. Why the Caplio? It's value for money and slim. It has it's strong and weak points but for an amateur photographer like me...bolehlah. I plan to upgrade to a Nikon Coolpix which has an anti-shake AE device. That would be useful when shooting macro. But for the time being, I'll just play around with my Caplio.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Remembering My Teachers

Do you remember your teachers? I do. Here is a list of my teachers from kindergarten to university who I still think of from time to time.
Montessori Kindergarten, Seremban
(Its most illustrious son must be none other than our first Angkasawan. Hey! I went to kindy with the angkasawan’s brothers and cousins! He! He!)
Miss Lim – who not only taught me to read and write but also to sing and dance as well.
Convent Primary, Seremban

Miss Muttu – the fierce headmistress who zoomed around in a green mini clubman (those days the mini was really mini...). This lady was really garang...Macam landlady Mr. Bean tu.

Miss Chapman – the opposite of Miss Muttu. The gentle, soft-spoken, senior assistant who was asked whether she was related to Mark Chapman, John Lennon’s murderer on that fateful day in 1979. Drove a hatched-back mini (Another mini? What’s with those teachers back in the 70s?) . Migrated to Oz when I was in Std 6.

Miss Patricia Lee – the beautiful but grumpy Math teacher who could play the lead guitar. She would stand on a rickety wooden stool to write sums on the blackboard and kept asking if we understood or not. Her famous line when we just buat bodoh – “Couldn’t be bothered” He! He! She had no car and would regularly tumpang my mom.

Mrs Ho – the lanky bespectacled lady who only drew humans in the form of twigs! She wrote the famous comment in my report card that my mum kept repeating to this day and age: “Suka berbual-bual dalam bilik darjah”. Hmm...can’t remember what car she drove.

Mrs. Kulasingam – the motherly English Language teacher who couldn’t stand my finger-tapping - "I know you play the drums but this is class..."  Hehehe!  Never saw her in anything but saree (teachers don’t wear sarees anymore, do they?)

Mr. Joe Chelliah – he did not teach in my school (Mana ada male teacher kat Convent?). He was a music lecturer from MPIK. He taught me how to play the guitar but I turned out to be a better drummer. The rest as they say, was history...(Chewah!)

Mrs. Tan – the kind, regal and petite angklung maestro whose nails were perfectly manicured. She would offer to send me home in her Datsun after mini-orchestra training sessions. I could still remember the standing ovation that she got after conducting the angklung ensemble to Abba’s “Chiquitita” during our annual concert.

Puan Halifah – my stylish class teacher. I would gawk at her clothes and her hair-style instead of listening to her lessons. Apa lagi, dia mengadulah kat mak I who was also a teacher there. Ala cikgu...I think you like the attention, kan? kan? kan? :)

The late Cikgu Fatimah – Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor’s mother. The chic grand old dame who taught us Jawi. Wore pink lipsticks when no other teacher dared to. Would always tell us about traditional games which we never heard of. Anybody here who knows how to play “Cha” ?(You’d go like..”What..?”)

Ustazah Ramlah – the dedicated ustazah who taught me Ugama well. Her description of “Hell” scared the hell out of some of the students that Miss Muttu had to advise her to focus more on “Heaven”! My mother said that she would often ask how I was whenever they met. ...Also drove a mini (chuckle!)

SMSAH, Jitra, Kedah (Boarding school)

Cikgu Sopiah – Our fierce BM teacher who made us memorize all the grammar rules. Kalau tak ingat...siaplah... Was also our scouts adviser.

Cikgu Rohani – the patient Math teacher. Really patient gile.

Cikgu Bashah  – my SRT teacher cum head warden. Forced us to take SRT because everybody wanted to take Commerce. It’s actually a blessing in disguise because at 13, I finally learnt to crack an egg! (That bad...)

Cikgu Azmi a.k.a Jimmy the rugged, History teacher who was also the cricket coach. Has this liking for all things Johor (picture this: staying in Kedah but went all out to get a Johor plate number for his car).

Cikgu Sobri the Geography teacher from Perlis who wore bell-bottoms to work (no longer "groovy" in the 80’s then). His greatest enemies – my friends Che Pah and Sabarina. Moi? Kira teacher’s pet jugak sebab pandai lukis (e.g.: Barang-barang yang diperbuat daripada pokok kelapa...ha! ha!)

Cikgu Tajuddin a.k.a CT the Sains Paduan teacher and Cadet Advisor. Kutuk my batch really bagus punya and in the end our SRP results were the school’s best (then).

Ustaz Wahab the Arabic language teacher with a Masters in Arabic from Khartoum, Sudan. Didn’t understand a single word he uttered (he tried to use the “Direct Method” – no translation at all). In the end he relented.

Cikgu Wahab – art teacher who really pantang tengok dahi licin sket (sama perangai dengan Cikgu Pak Non).

Ustaz Ahmad Darus Agama teacher. Funny guy with a terrible accent (Kala jongkiang?? – for scorpion)

Mr. Kalidass – my English language set teacher who has a Masters (in the 80s, not many teachers have that). Hated the mundane grammar classes (not your fault, sir) but loved writing. Told us to use the descriptive phrases found in novels in our essays (err...sir, wasn’t that plagiarism?).

Miss Chan Bee Suan – another English language set teacher who uncovered my talent in writing. The wins in the NST essay-writing competition surprised me more than her.

Mr. Lim Eng Hwa – my Physics teacher. Would go around the lab, humming a Chinese tune, watching us do our experiment and when we least expected it ... WHACK! Kena ketuk sebab main-main. Pledged RM 100 for those who failed physics in the SPM because he claimed no one ever failed physics. In the end...ada jugak mamat tu...
Cik Sharifah
– the walking encyclopaedia whose side-kick was Cik Ju.

Mr. Baha and Dr. Zain – the grammar lecturers with jaw-dropping accents.

Cik Yazariah – the beautiful and manja literature lecturer, whose accent and hair-style were instantly copied by Salina (Jangan marah Salina...)

Mr Faiz Sathi (Now Prof Madya) – our "composition skills" lecturer who told us all this 18sx jokes (“Many moons come, I no come, son come, how come?”).

Mr Malachi Edwin (Now Prof) – who taught us literature. Very hard to please but I did pretty well in his class (only As...ahem). Very frank. When I chose BM over literature as my minor he retorted “How disgusting!”. Favourite expression: “How gross!” 

Abg Zizul and Dino - who taught me how to play the caklempong, a traditional musical instrument and further trained me in playing the drums. There's also this other guy who introduced me to rebana ubi... what an experience! Forgot his name...
Prof. Moses Samuel – This one gets the trophy. The Harvard alumnus who knows everything that needs to be known. The lecturer in shining armour who saved a postgraduate damsel in distress (o.k., sir, exaggerated a bit! he! he!) Don’t retire yet, sir. Hope to do my PhD under your supervision.

Finally, my role models are my parents, educators themselves – abah, a retire
d university lecturer, mumsie, a retired primary school teacher. They were hugely popular among their students. The streams of students during raya, the presents during teacher’s day... I have big shoes to fill.

To all my friends who are teachers (leave a message/comment guys!) and my former teachers, "Happy Teacher's Day". Teaching might not be the best of jobs but it has its moments.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Teacher's Day DIY

Tonight, the kids and I had fun preparing for tomorrow's Teacher's Day. While I wrapped the "value-for-money" gifts (he! he!) that I bought for their teachers, the children were hard at work, making the cards for the occasion. This time around, mummy just stood back (err...actually I was prancing around snapping their photos...a la iklan Silky Girl tu...) and watched them do their creative stuff. The children actually worked hand-in-hand when hours earlier they were at each other's throat.

What's more amazing, they helped me clear the table after that without me having to nag them! The son diligently swept the rubbish while the daughter put everything back in the bureau (need to read up my Caplio's manual so that I can tape them in action next time...macam tak percaya pulak!) Here are the kid-art cards made by my DIY children.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Mother's Day

11 May: Mother's Day came and went. How was the day? Just like any other Saturday. Why didn't I celebrate Mother's Day? Yours truly was busy marking tonnes of test papers, hubby was sick in bed, daughter had to attend kem solat... Only the sons were alive and kicking as usual. He! He! In the evening, we went to Putrajaya... Not for sightseeing, but I needed to know how to get to PICC (to attend a function on Monday). No fancy dinner at a posh restaurant because I assumed that all the tables would be fully booked anyway. So, there we were, happily helping ourselves to nasi beriani gam, mee rebus and sirap bandung in a neighbourhood restaurant. Before calling it a day, the daughter presented a card. Not a DIY card this year ("No idealah", she said), but a card all the same. Thanks Amani (leave a message!)

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Of Blogging and Photos

It's funny how one thing leads to another. Since I started blogging (ahem...), I found a renewed interest in photography. Yeah, I do take pictures now and then: raya, the children's concert, etc. but it's nothing like what I've been experiencing for the past few weeks.

I've been taking pictures of the flowers that grew in my "sekangkang kera" front lawn almost every evening after work. Nasib baik ada my "little helper" (that's what Amani, my daughter, calls herself now). At night, I'd save the pix in my new laptop (...wanted a Tag Heuer, got a Dell XPS instead - more on this next time!). Then, I'd diligently edit each pix using the tools in Windows Photo Gallery. Not satisfied with the results, I tried my hands at Picasa (thanks, Koob!). Hubby suggested the Adobe Photoshop CS3, but I think I'm not ready for that just yet.

So, from this:
(BTW this rose is indeed from my garden...)

to this...

Not bad, right?

Tuesday, May 6, 2008


DIY / noun (U) (BrE) the activity of making, repairing or decorating things in the home yourself, instead of paying somebody to do it
(abbreviation for 'do-it-yourself ')
DIY mum?
A mum who does things at home herself.
Am I a DIY mum?
When I'm not working...he! he! Yeah, yeah, I have a maid
(which working mum with school-going kids doesn't?)
What kind of things do I do myself?
Cooking, cleaning, gardening, sewing, doing creative projects,etc
What things that I don't do (read: HATE)?
Ironing...I'd rather wash the toilet!