Thursday, July 24, 2008

Canned Worms

Okay, another slightly political posting. Skip if you're not interested.

Hands up those who thinks the Terengganu MB is doing a great job at handling the Mercedes case? I don't think we'll see that many hands up in the air.

I'm not gonna comment whether it's right or not to do so, or whether he's using the money entrusted to him in the best possible way or not. I'm thinking of another angle.

He revealed that one of the reasons they're buying Mercedes is because the maintenance cost of the V6 are too high, exceeding RM235k in one case. I think this is his dumbest act so far. Anyone with half a brain will see that something is wrong. An RM130k car is incurring RM235k of maintenance cost in 4 years. Yet those responsible for it never complained to Proton nor sent it in to Proton Service Centers to claim on the warranty. The cars were repaired/serviced at various workshops instead.

Tell me if it doesn't sound fishy. I would go ballistic if my car is costing me anything to repair due to its low quality as claimed by Mr MB. Normal wear and tear, okay but if it's gonna cost me even a fraction of what they spent, I'll just buy a new car instead. But I'll make sure I'll raise hell with Proton first. If I'm an MB, I'll request a personal audience with Proton's top brass to explain why the shoddy work on the cars.

I think, somebody has been claiming non-existing repair charges. Little by little at first, then got greedy when they got away with it. In the end it culminated in 235k worth of total maintenance cost. Isn't it funnier when the car in question was used by the previous MB and now the current MB? Coincidental, I think not.

BPR is on the case now, and if they don't find anything fishy then BPR has got to be investigated next. Mr MB just opened a huge can of worms, for his current posse and the previous one as well. Itu la, next time nak buat jahat biar pandai.

Anyway, it's just my lima sen's worth.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

My Own Rachel & Ross

I was back in my hometown over the weekend and only returned to KL last night. I haven't been back since last October, and I can see the evidence of how long I've been away - new buildings have sprung up from nowhere!

Anyway, being back in Kota Bharu reminded me how I don't really have any friends there. I mean childhood friends. Pre high school, I've always been moving about. My first school was SK Pulai Chondong 2 (which has been renamed to SK Pangkal Gong I think), where my mom was teaching back then. Then I switched to SK Labok when dad was posted to teach at SMS Machang, which is adjacent to the school. Schooled there until we all packed up and moved to London while dad was doing his Masters at University of London. Kensington Primary School was my next port of call, followed by Langdon School. Came back and I was enrolled in SRK Sultan Ismail II and took UPSR there before sent away to MCKK.

It was only in MCKK where I first had a stable environment to make friends. I used to be in touch with a handful of various primary school friends, but most have drifted away with time and distance. In uni, I made more friends and some of them are still close friends until now. Now at work, I've made some good friends as well.

So my friends' list (so to quote social networking sites) only consists of people I know 1996 onwards. My friends back in Kelantan are almost exclusively guys I know back in MCKK (we had quite a number, 11 i think) actually. I think only one of them is working in Kota Bharu while the rest are scattered throughout Malaysia and beyond (one of us just got an offer to practice medicine in Aussie, congrats!). It's hard for us to find time and hangout like the old days, when school/uni hols mean nightly sessions of lepaking over teh tarik/milo ais and just chat the night away.

I'm thankful that since I started working, I am drawn back to the MCKK crowd since quite a few of us stays in Cheras/Ampang/Wangsa Maju area thus facilitating frequent lepak sessions. Of course people do get on with their lives and many a session have been cancelled due to those reasons. As more and more of us get married and have kids, will we still be able to do this? When we climb up the corporate ladder further, will we still have this much time to spend with friends? I am enjoying this time as much as I can because we'll never know when it'll be taken away in one way or the other. Overseas work posting, outright emmigration, QC (queen control =P) at home etc, all these might and will contribute.

Though I might lack actual childhood friends, the ones that I have are excellent enough that I don't really lament that lackness (eh, is this even an actual word?). Be it from high school, uni or work, I think I have a great set of friends. I'm sure you do too.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Boys Toys

Can I surmise that all men have at least 1 expensive hobby? Some take to golf, and pay huge amounts of money for performance equipment and club fees and wagers (don't deny it fellas!). Others may take to cars (or bikes) and modify it to their hearts' and wallets' contents. It may look like crap to the general public, but it's eye candy to the owner. Ask my brother about his car, and he'll rant and rave lyrical about it. Then ask my mom for the opposite view on his ride. I tend to side with mom though, and he does admit that his car is a bit ah beng-ified now.

As for me, my sin is photography. I might not be spending as much as other people on it, but in my books I've been spending a fortune. When I first bought my Speedlite, my mom was shocked to learn that the price is equivalent to a brand new point and shoot compact digital camera (flash apa mahal sangat nih?!). To date I've invested in 2 extra lenses to complement the kit lens and 1 speedlite and some accessories. Next plan, save up for that ultrawide. I wonder if they'll accept my limbs as exchange. Or first born child. Kidding! (do they?)

But this is not my first expensive hobby. My first one was guitars. Learned it back in 2001, and after 2 weeks I'm in Sg Wang looking to buy my first six string. An electric one no less! That's ambitious for you. To buy that guitar and amp, I had to resort to an almost exclusively Maggi mee diet for half a semester. The lengths men will go to get the things they want are incredible. Since then, I've added 3 more guitars (a well used black Kapok, a midnight blue TGM acoustic and a wood veneer Epiphone classical), a Zoom 606 Multi-effect, and various accessories.

Sadly, my guitar playing is still as bad as it was then. But at least the room looks impressive when coupled with my brother's Fender Pbass and black Santa Cruz axe. Too bad the drum set is too bulky and noisy for my tiny unit. If not, we could have opened a damn studio.

Then it was the PC. I wasn't by any definition an extreme modder, but I want mine to look good, sound good and work good. And that equals to constant upgrading of this and that. Last thing I did was bought a 19" wide screen LCD monitor for it. After that I bought the laptop, so the PC is now idling in the room, with the guitars as company.

I don't know about golf, tried it when I was younger and it sucked. Perhaps my next hobby to take up will be cars. Sleek, expensive, fuel-guzzling Italian supercar. But that is still some light years away though. As for now, I'm sticking to what I'm at least half decent at - being the man behind the lens. But no matter how much I've invested (or wasted, your call), I'm proud of the fact that all of it comes from my own coffers. I worked hard to be able to afford all these things myself without asking for money from anyone.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Living Room Theorem

A friend asked me why didn't I write more about what's happening in the Malaysian political scene. Well, there's simply too many instant just-add-water political 'experts' analysing the situation. Political blogs now sprout like fungus on Britney's, err, nevermind. I read some of them too, I admit. I feel that most of them are just recycling other people's thoughts on the matter. Some are just raving mad lunatics spewing forth obscenities at all and sundry - and call that political observation. Talk is sure cheap these days.

So to appease him, and whoever else, this is my political post. It's a conspiracy theory, a popular theme with those 'political analysts'. I told some friends about this last week and over the weekend, and they say it's incredulous. I don't know, sounds possible to me. At least it's a refreshing change from the usual fare served up on the net and mainstream media. I think that neither Najib nor Anwar orchestrated the whole Tikam Belakang Episode II farce. I think someone just a wee bit higher or his aides/thinkthanks/posse/hangers-on who is greasing the machinery. Yeah, sounds incredulous isn't it? Now let me explain why I think so.

Before this thing blew up in the press, the main topic on everyone's mind was oil price and when will numero uno step down since he's incompetent. There's two candidates waiting in the wings to take over the hot seat, Najib and Anwar (of course, if his takeover plans were to be successful lah). I guess Pak Lah must be under a lot of pressure then. But then, what's the use of all those folks he paid to think for him?

Before you know it, the storm abated for him and wreaked havoc elsewhere - being implicated directly with the Altantuya case for Najib and sodomy again for Anwar. And then comes the connecting factor between them both, the Saiful bloke. So whose to gain from all this? Top Dog is out of the limelight, only appearing in the broadsheets to give comments. His minions aka KJ etc are also strangely quiet. Could they be busy at work, directing this play? Suddenly Top Dog doesn't seem like a bad choice after all when compared to Mr C4 and Mr Sodomizer. Could this be his tactic to undermine his challengers? If it is so, he's doing a good job. Both men's credibilities are being dragged though mud, would the rakyat still want them? Perhaps the rakyat will settle for the lesser evil instead, sleeping on the job doesn't sound so bad when compared to the other things his challengers purpotedly did.

But it's only a baseless theory, conjured up in the living room. Everyone's free to make theirs, so what's yours?

PS: No I don't know that Saiful bloke. Someone wrote about him being a student leader in Uniten and asking isn't there anyone more qualified in Uniten. Well, most of us didn't even bother to have a go at the posts or even vote since the student reps year in year out were usually a bunch of cronyistic, position-seeking sobs. We just boycotted the whole thing, so that's why more qualified folks didn't run for those posts.

PPS: Turned out, RPK wrote of the same theory in his regular column on Sunday. Great minds eh?

Thursday, July 3, 2008

War Pig

My breathing was hard and laboured, it's hard to breathe properly through the mask. It's hot and humid and the sweat is fogging up my sight. Using the underbrush to conceal myself the best that I could lest I be spotted, I tried to take a peek.

They whizzed past, two and three at a time. I ducked and waited for it to abate. After a while, it subsided. Looking up from my hiding place, I saw no movements. I got up and hid behind a tree and took cover. Still no sound. I turned slowly and tried to look out front again, strugging with the low visibility.

Once, twice, I was hit! Orange gooey paint on my shirt and just like that I was out. Dang. Yes folks, I went for my first ever paintball sesssion last weekend with some colleagues and their friends.

Me during speedball. Life4Hire, that's your cap that I wore (which you left behind at Sg Gabai that day, come and get it from me =P)

Since most of us were first timers, we were given a lowdown of the game and rules first before suiting up. First up was 2 games of speedball (where I got shot on the head in the 1st one, 'killed' 2 in the 2nd one before running out of pellets and got 'killed' myself), a fast paced game to capture the flag. Then we're off to the palm oil plantation nearby for woodsball. This is where the fun is for me.

I am a warbuff, I love war movies like Band of Brothers, Saving Private Ryan, Flags of Our Fathers etc (yeap, mostly WWII stuff). Getting a feel of how it's like was a major adrenaline rush for me. At first I was apprehensive of really getting into the game, but when I saw how serious those guys get I let go of my own inhibitions. I noticed that from the word go, everything else becomes muted and blurred out from my field of vision. I guess this is how pro athletes feel on the field as well, focused on one thing and one thing only.

After a total of 5 games, I got shot 7 times and only managed 2 kills that I'm aware of. But hey, it's my first time! Truthfully, I did not enjoy speedball quite as much (eventhough that's where I was any good, with the kills) as woodsball/scenario. I guess with speedball there's no aspect of make believe that it's a real battle going on, hence less realism amounting to less fun for me.

Paintball came under fire (pun unintended) for glorifying war and killing, so they changed the terms and outlook a bit to deter such critiques. The guns are called markers, and you're target is to 'mark' someone and not to 'kill' them. Even the attire is made colourful and bright (not unlike those Motocross uniforms) to move away from the camouflage BDU look (which is still prevalent amongst woodsball/scenario enthusiast). That's all the more reason why I like woodsball more, hehehe.

I am hooked and I'm definitely going back for more. I'm on the look for my own BDU so I can blend better with the background (trust me, they work like magic in the heat of battle). 9600 boys, we should go and shoot the crap out of each other soon. Ada berani?