Sunday, February 28, 2010

why are dogs not allowed?

have you ever wondered why dogs are not allowed in our nature reserves. you can take your dog to the park, to the beach, to the botanic gardens and to many other public places but not to the nature reserves.

some of the reasons could be:

dogs may directly kill wildlife. although most of the times they cannot catch the squirrels or the birds, sometimes they do succeed. even if they do not succeed in killing the wildlife, they may injure the wildlife enough to cause their subsequent death.

dogs can trample the vegetation.

dogs can transmit a number of pathogens to wildlife. these pathogens may be found in the poos of the dogs.

by the way, dogs are also not allowed in the water of our reservoirs.

if you read one the information boards at the wallace education centre at dairy farm nature reserve, you will have an idea why they forbid dogs in the reserve: "animals brought into the nature reserves threaten native forest species. the last banded-leaf monkey at bukit timah forest reserve was mauled to death by dogs..... "

Thursday, February 25, 2010

pranks of kampong kids

thinking back about the pranks we played on one another when we were kids in the kampong, i think it reveals a streak in meanness in each one of us. or we put it to our being too young to consider the consequences of our actions and the pyschological harm done to our victims.

i have blogged about how we would rub the rubber seed continuously on some hard surface before pressing it against the flesh of our friends to give them a scorching time.

there were other acts which we carried out to embarrass our friends or to cause discomfort or unpleasantness to them.

one of the pranks that we would play was pulling down the loose pants of our unsuspecting friend, especially in the open and often in the presence of girls. you have to remember, in those days we went about - like what the hawaiians say - hanging loose: we did not wear underwears.
it was not like in this video clip where the men and woman all had undercovers.

another mean act of ours, which would cause discomfort to our victims, was to get the ripe red fruit of the macarthur's palm and rub it against the skin of our victims. when the sap of this fruit, a favourite with birds, comes into contact with the skin, it will cause one to feel an itching sensation. our poor friend would quickly look for water to seek relief to wash away the offending sap.

another trick which we played on newbies is using the stalk of the lallang flower. you can only play this once on some uninitiated ones. once they have tasted a mouthful of it, they will not fall for it again. the flower of the lallang is rather cottony. we would tell our would-be victim that the stalk was sweet. the moment, the victim put his lips to the stalk, we would pull it across and he would end up with a mouthful of the cottony stuff.

in this high tech age, children no longer have any use for things found in the natural environment.

Monday, February 22, 2010

farewell penang funicular train

i felt nostalgic and sad reading about the demise of the 87-year old penang hill's funicular train. the railway system, construction of which began in 1897 and took 26 years to complete, had conveyed millions of visitors and locals to the 830m peak known as flagstaff hill, the highest point on penang island.

according to the newspaper report, the railway had to be dismantled because the track and coaches were so worn out that services were often disrupted. a new air-conditioned system with bigger and faster coaches is expected to be in operation sometime in october this year.

on one of our trips to penang, when we failed to secure accommodation along batu ferringgi beach and the town, we stayed at bellevue hotel which is at the top of penang hill. from the restaurant of this hotel, you can get a breathtaking view of georgetown and parts of the mainland. bellevue is more like a hostel than a hotel. anyway, it was meant to tie us over for one day until we found accommodation at the beach.

the setback was that you felt stranded because if you wanted to do the usual touristy things like shopping and sightseeing, you would have to ride the funicular train to the base. i think there is a track or path up and down the mountain but it will take much longer than the half hour train journey. one of the places we took our two daughters sightseeing was the botanic gardens.

a one-way trip on the funicular cost rm$4, rm$2 for a child. it took about half an hour to travel from the base, at air itam, to the top and vice versa. the train service started at 6.30 a.m. and the train stopped for the day at 9.30 p.m.

the train or coach could get quite crowded from 8.00 a.m. onwards. the train made a few stops along the way to the top. you can feel the slight difference in the air temperature when you reach the summit. it was during our stay at bellevue that we came across a giant millipede. we found it among some potted plants.

it was about 15 cm long. millipedes have between 200 and 300 legs and they curl into a tight spiral when threatened. they can be kept as a pet but we left that one alone.

last year, during one of our walks to the tree-top at macritchie reservoir, my roup came upon a giant millipede along the track leading to the bridge. until then, i was not aware that these gentle giants can be found on our own soil.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

old school socks and venetian blinds

we replaced the curtains that we had downstairs with venetian blinds because we felt that it was cumbersome having to take down the curtains every few months, wash them, iron them and put them back again. with these wooden blinds, we just needed to dust and clean them once in a while, or so we thought. we have since discovered that venetian blinds attract dust easily and they require regular dusting and cleaning.

i have tried using the vacuum cleaner with the soft duster brush attached to the noozle to do the job but it did not turn out to be very effective. i have also tried using dust-attractant gloves, kitchen towels, microfibre cloth and anti-static cleaning towels. however, the cheapest and most effective way, i have found out, is to use old socks, especially old school socks, to do the cleaning.

old socks make great slate cleaners. just wet the sock slightly and put it on your right hand - for right-hander - and wipe the slate back and forth, cleaning both the top and bottom of the blind at the same time. i do not use any ammonia or cleaning solution, just plain water to dampen the sock.

when cleaning, you should start from the centre of the blind and move to the edge right and left. this is to ensure that the dust is not transferred from one end to the other end. at the end of the job, just throw away the old sock.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

beetroot and apple juice

of late, i have taken to drinking beetroot and apple juice. to make the juice, i use two medium sized beetroot and 5 apples. you may also add two small carrots to the other two fruits to make it the abc juice... a for apple, b for beetroot and c for carrot.

first, i will wash the beetroot and the apples. for the beetroot, i use the peeler to remove the skin. after removing the skin, i will cut the beetroot into small pieces. in the case of the apples, i will first cut it into four parts, remove the core and further slice it into smaller pieces to fit into the juicer.

the maroon colour of the beetroot appears to over-ride all the other colours - the green colour of the apple and the orange of the carrot. the colour even overpowers the colour of your liquid and solid waste.

drinking beetroot juice is believed to be a simple way to maintain a healthy cardiovascular system. it can drastically reduce high blood pressure. what's more, its nutritious juice is renowned for being a great liver cleanser. it is often advisable to use just a small amount of this "powerful tonic" mixed with other vegetable or fruit juices so as not to push the body into detoxifying too quickly.

beetroot is also believed to regenerate the cells of the immune system, build and purify the blood and improve the circulation. it is ideal for alkalizing the system through its rich sources of caroteniods, flavanoids, betacyanin, folate, silica, vitamins and other essential minerals for the human body.

the fruit juice should be consumed fresh and neat, without adding any ice cubes to it. the 2 beetroot and 5 apples are sufficient to provide two small glasses of juice.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

hank quock endless love

entertaining. recording and sound system, not so good.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

"we want gay! we want gay!"

black and white photos from national archives

i was with two senior friends who were talking about their school-days in their alma mater in the late 50s and early 60s. while reminiscing about the old times, they mentioned something interesting which happened in their school in 1960. i had heard about schools like the chinese high and even nanyang girls' where the students were instigated to go on strike but not an english-medium school going on strike.

the strike involved about 500 students. the day had begun normally with the students attending the 7.45 morning service in the school hall.

at 8.30 a.m. the students took our banners and placards which they had carefully hidden, unfurled the banners and displayed the placards all over the school premises. according to one of my friends, the school brass band led the demonstration by playing marching tunes. the protesting students kept shouting "we want gay! we want gay!" .

the students even barricaded the school gates using their classroom's desks and chairs.

it seemed their grievance was with the board of governors for their decision to replace the then principal mr gay wan guay with another teacher in the same school. mr gay had been with the school for more than 20 years and he was credited with bringing about improvements to the school and in moulding the boys' brigade into one of the best units in singapore.

the striking students eventually agreed to end their protest when promised that mr gay's position would be reconsidered.

my friends even took me to koon seng road to look at the site where their former school once stood. today, haig girls' school sits on a piece of land adjacent to the site of the former presbyterian boys' school.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

erp gantry quiz

one way to make sure motorists cannot escape paying erp charges during the operational hours is to have two gantries located 150m apart along the same stretch of road. if the first one fails to 'catch' the motorist, then there is the second one to act as a 'safely catch'.

also those who time themselves to reach the gantry just seconds before it is activated will have a surprise awaiting them.

1 along which stretch of road are these gantries located?

2 what is the real reason for erecting the second gantry?

Friday, February 5, 2010

queuing for a car permit at queensway

photo from national archives of s'pore

back in the late 70s or early 80s, i remember making a trip to the malaysian transport department office at queensway to queue for either a car permit or a motorcycle permit. i was told by a friend that subsequently they did away with the permit for motorcycles.

when it was first implemented in 1967, the car-permit was issued free of charge. you had only to go through the inconvenience of queuing for it at the malaysian high commission at goodwood hill. all you needed were your identity card and a copy of your vehicle log book.

there were other changes related to the application for a car-permit. because of the perpetual queues, they extended the hours of application. the transport office was open in the night - from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. - in an attempt to ease the congestion in the day. this counter was closed on sundays and public holidays.

another time, frustrated applicants were told that they needed their passport instead of just their identity card - in those days we had the blue restricted passport just for travel to malaysia - to support their application.

initially, the car-permit was valid from between six months and one year. the cost of a six-month permit was $30 and $90 for a one-year permit. this was later changed to a free permit which allowed you not more than 14 days in west malaysia.

as a result of this ruling, when we made driving trips to places in west malaysia, we made sure that we did not exceed the two weeks' allowance.

in a way, the need for a car-permit was a good thing. when the scheme was scrapped in 1986, it led to massive, girdlock kind of jams at the causeway, especially on the malaysian side.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

bob hayes versus usain bolt

in 1963, bob hayes set a world record of 9.1 sec in the 100-yard dash at an aau meet in st louis.

at the 2008 beijing olympics, usain bolt established a world record in the 100-metre sprint, with a time of 9.69 sec.

if we were to pit the late bob hayes against the current world champion sprinter usain bolt, who would emerge the winner?

today, sprint distances are measured in metres, not yards, and 100 metres = 109.361 yards. as bob hayes in his record-breaking effort ran 1 yard every .91 seconds, his time for 100 metres would have been at least 9.95 seconds, or more than 1/4-second (.26 seconds) slower than the record set by usain bolt in 2008.

when i was still a student in secondary school in the early 60s, the 100-metre race was not in our school's track and field programme. instead, we had the 100-yard dash, held on the school field. measurements for running, throwing and jumping events were in imperial units. the height of the high jump was in feet and inches, not in metres and centimetres.

up to today, some older folks are still more perceptive if you tell them your height in feet and inches or your weight in pounds. even in the kitchen, some housewives are more comfortable using katties and tahils or pounds and ounces than with kilograms and grams.

when i rode my first motor-cycle, the speedometer showed the speed in miles per hour (mph), not kilometres per hour (kph). reminder of our former use of the imperial unit can be found in the names of places like 7th mile upper bukit timah road and 10 mile junction.

timesofmylife has blogged about this topic before.