Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Doing dana through vegetarian diet

This is the second day of Kew Leong Ya Festival and devotees are still taking strictly pure vegetarian food. As a matter of fact, vegetation food is good for health as proven by those who are sick. By swifting from meat food to vegetarian ones, the digestive system can function better.

As a Buddhist, I am made to understand that taking vegetarian food is doing dana, that is refraining from killing. If more people swift to vegetarian diet, more killing of edible birds and animals can be prevented. Those who practise taking vegetarian food will have a longer life.
Hence we know that taking vegetarian not only enables one to do dana but also prolong one's life.

Monday, September 29, 2008

It really rained all right

In my last post, I mentioned that it would rain during the Kew Leong Ya Festival. As today was the first day of the festival, the morning looked gloomy but my wife and I managed to walk for 45 minutes without rain at 7 a.m. and the sun came out bright.

Hence we went to market without bringing an umbrella, thinking it wouldn't rain.
We were wrong because on our way to where I parked my car, it started to drizzle. We hurried along but the rain got heavier and we were wet by the time we reached our car.
The rain stopped a while but continued do pour in the evening.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Kew Leong Ya Festival

For nine days, from tomorrow, the devotees of Kew Leong Ya, the nine sons of the Dragon Emperor will be taking pure vegetarian diet to purify themselves in honour of the nine dewas. Devotees will go the temple to pray and ask for favour from the nine dewas.
Most Chinese in Penang are the devotees of the nine dewas.

If you have been following this blog, in one of the posts, I mentioned how my trigger-finger (inability to flex the ring-finger) was miraculously cured by Kew Leong Ya when I went to the temple to pray to them. When I knelt down to pray with jossticks, a painful sensation engulfed my head. Later I learnt from my spiritual friend that the dewas actually acknowledged my being there by doing so. When I placed my jossticks in the urn, one of glowing part of the joss ticks fell onto my trigger-finger and it got cured after that. You have to experience it to believe it.

In Penang, roadside stalls will be put up to sell vegetarian food to devotees. You can always see a yellow cloth banner bearing Chinese words "Jiu Long Ye Zai" which means 'vegetarian food for Jiu Long Ye'. The caterers are doing good business during these nine days.

On the last day of the festival, the nine dewas will be sent back to the sea - the dwelling place of their father, the Dragon Emperor.

As the said dewas control the rain, it will definitely rain during this period, believe it or not.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Running 30 rounds in the college field

When I was undergoing training in Malayan Teachers’ College, Penang, I used to run with my buddy, Yong Cheng Suan in the college field in the evening after lecture hours. We started to run one round on the first day. This was increased to two rounds the following day. Without realizing it, we had reached the day when we could complete 30 rounds in the field. Since then running 30 rounds or 12 kilometres was no problem for both of us. It shows stamina can be trained with the passage of time and with perseverance.

If I were to run the same number of rounds, I don’t think I can do it.

Friday, September 26, 2008

The experience of staying in a wooden house

When I went to SM Jerantut, Pahang to start working as a qualified teacher, I stayed in a wooden house owned by an ex-teacher, Mr Kok. I paid RM40 per month for the rent. Actually, I was occupying the room of another teacher, Mr Tan Chap who had gone for a three-month Bahasa course. When he returned, I had to vacate the room and stayed somewhere else.

I was staying on the first floor. The room had very good ventilation, an electric ceiling fan and windows around. As it was January, the cool air at night and in the morning made me feel that I was staying in an air-conditioned room.

The only disadvantage of staying in Mr Kok's house was that I would know who had come back. There were 8 rooms on first floor. The footsteps on the wooden floor told me that someone had come back or he had come out of his room because needed to ease himself in the washroom.

Mr Kok ran a grocery downstairs so we had no problem getting our personal effects there. Snacks and instant noodles were available too.
After some time I got used to the sound of footsteps outside my room and continue to read my books or doing preparation for teaching for the following day.
My school was five minutes' walk from where I lived.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Old vegetable seller who could speak Mandarin

I still could remember an old woman who sold vegetables in the market in Jerantut, a small town in Pahang. My wife and I would buy fish, meat and vegetables in the market at weekends for cooking. I did not take my wife there every day because I was teaching in the morning session then.

What surprised me was an old lady selling vegetables being able to speak Mandarin - the language we used to talk to her as my wife could not speak Cantonese. Although I could speak some Cantonese, I was more at home with Mandarin.

This incident shows that when there is a need to learn a language to communicate with others to do business, anyone is motivated to do so. If an old lady could do it, young people should have no problem doing so at all.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

A test of patience

Whenever I go for my yearly eye check-up, I always remind myself to be patient. Why do I say so? It is because there will be so many patients seeking treatment from Dr Lai, a renown ophthalmologist or eye specialist in Penang that I have to wait for a very long time before I am able to see him. Usually I have to wait for three to four hours before the procedure is over. You see, when you arrive at his clinic, you have to wait a while before the nurse attends to you. She will check your eyesight and eye pressure after which two types of drops will be applied to the my eyes to dilate them for examination by the doctor.

From then on, you will have to wait for a long time before the doctor sees you.

Waiting to see an eye specialist like Dr Lai is really a test of patience.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Redundancy in English

Certain words which begin with the prefix ‘re’ which means ‘again’ will be redundant in meaning if ‘again’ is used after them. The following examples will clarify what I have said:
1 He will redo the whole process again. (again is redundant)
He will redo the whole process. (correct)
2 She repeated what she had said again. (again is redundant)
She repeated what she had said. (correct)

Monday, September 22, 2008

Chinese surnames

The first name in a Chinese name is the surname. For example, if a Chinese man is named ‘Tan Huat Chye’, then his surname is ‘Tan’. In China, surnames are spelt according to pinyin. Hence the above name will be called ‘Chen Fa Cai’.
In Malaysia, surnames are spelt according to Chinese dialects. If the above man is a Hokkien, his name will be spelt as ‘Tan Huat Chye’ as in the example. However, if he is a Cantonese, then ‘Chan Fa Choy’ is his name.

There are about one hundred Chinese surnames. These are some examples of them: Lim, Sim, Koay, Lee, Lian, Saw, Cheang, Ong, Khor, Teh, Lau, Teoh, Chuah, and See (all in Hokkien dialects).
Some Chinese who adopt Christian names will have their surnames at the back of the Christian names. For instance, Robert Lim’s surname is Lim.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Running software incompatible with OS

Have you ever experienced running programs incompatible with you operating system? Well, I have.
Yesterday, I installed MpcStar, a video preview program. When it was executed, my Winxp returned an error message and closed the program. Not satisfied, I restarted Windows and tried it twice but the same error still occurred.
Sometimes, Word seems to hang when run under Winxp. Luckily the recovery component of Word recovered part of what I have keyed in.
I think these are some of the things we have to bear when using the computer.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

I need to overcome forgetfulness

I really need to overcome forgetfulness. You see, many a time, I leave without taking my mobile phone with me. It will ring at home when my friends telephone me, prompting my better half to answer the call with apology, "Sorry, Yeoh forgot to take his handset along just now. He will contact when he comes back."

Another occasion when forgetfulness invade me is when I go for my tuition class without the notes which I have put in a separate file. My beg is with me minus the file. Luckily, the tuition centre is just five minutes from where I live. Hence back to my house to retrieve the file or job cannot get started.

Yet another time when I forget things is I fail to do what I have planned to do earlier. I completely forget about the errands to be done. These include paying utility bills (leaving without bringing them along), not going into the grocery or supermarket to get what I intend to purchase.

I hope to be able to be more mindful so that I do not forget things. Age is catching up, I suppose.

Friday, September 19, 2008

A smile is all you need to make friends

I take my morning walk at Bukit Dumbar Reservoir site almost every day. It has some gadgets or workout tools for those who want to do sit up, cycle on the spot, swing their bodies and so on. There are groups who practise Shibashi (Taichi) too. They can be seen doing the Taichi at various places.

My wife and I belong to the walkers' group. As we walk we meet almost the same people doing their routine - walking, jogging or practising Taichi. I usually smile to them and they return their smiles too. It is a friendly gesture. According to Buddhism, the humans we meet are somehow related to us. Hence they are our 'relatives' in our past lives.
As the saying goes, 'Smile and the world smile with you. Weep and you weep alone.'

Start smiling and win friends.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Breaking fast in class

There are a number of Malay students in my Malay tuition class. The slot 7.00 p.m. to 8.30 p.m. falls within the time for breaking fast. Hence when the time for breaking fast comes, I allow them to break fast in class. These students will start sipping their bottled drink or water before filling their stomachs with food brought by them. I try to plan my lessons in such a way that it is written work when the Muslim students are partaking of their food as it is time to break fast. The boys will enjoy their food at the back of the class. As for girls, they prefer to go somewhere to take their meal. They like my arrangement and everybody is happy.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

How to start a statement with ‘what’

Starting a statement with ‘what’ is a way to show variety in your essay. The following sentences are constructed using ‘what’ as the initial word for each one:
1 What greeted me was a dog that barked ferociously at me.
2 What prompted me to act was the urgency of the situation then.
3 What I don’t like about girls is their chattering habit.
4 What they did there was not my concern.
5 What I write in this post is for readers to read.
Happy making sentences that start with ‘what’

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The tell-tale sign of pupils about their background

I was reading the sentences made by my pupils when curiosity got the better of me. You see, this pupil invariably involves her mother in the sentences she makes. In one sentence she wrote, "With trembling hands I handed my report card to my mother, getting ready to be reprimanded."

After class, I talked to her. Sure enough, she comes from a divorced family. Her father left her mother when she was four and her brother two years older. Since then, her mum took over the role of father and mother to bring them up. Luckily the single parent is an engineer. My pupil hated the woman who snatched away her father from her mum and she told me that she would strangle the woman if she were ever to meet her. Such is her hatred towards the woman

Monday, September 15, 2008

The significance of Zhong Qiu Jie

Zhong Qiu Jie was celebrated by the Chinese all over the world yesterday. Known as the Mid-Autumn Festival, the day is a day of reunion for the Chinese as family members will gather to celebrate it. The full moon on the night symbolises roundness or harmony as well as unity.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

We will leave you in Penang

When I was teaching in Jerantut, my colleague, Simon Ching liked to bring our pupils to Cameron Highlands and Penang for sightseeing. I would be one of the teachers accompanying the students.

One year, we took the students to Penang, my home town and I was the tourist guide. At that time the Chingay Procession was on. In the procession various teams representing government departments and private companies were bearing colourful flags along the main roads in town, including Penang Road and Macalister Road. They usually showed their skills by balancing the long and heavy bamboo poles on their shoulders, backs, heads and even on the teeth of their lower jaws.

We parked our bus at Brickiln Road and led the students to stand along Macalister Road to watch the flag-bearing performance. The students were asked to go in a group of four and they had to stick together so as to avoid getting lost in the crowd.

In the midst of enjoying the show, one pupil was found missing. We had to look for her along the road. I walked the whole length of Macalister but failed to spot her. The other teachers' effort to locate her was in vain too. Then it dawned on us that she might have gone back to the bus waiting for us.

Sure enough, she was in the bus, all alone. We went up the bus and gave her a harsh telling-off. Then we said, "We will leave you in Penang.". Her face turned pale and we had a good laugh. Of course, she went back with us to Jerantut.

We would be in trouble if she were to be kidnapped or lost in Penang as her parents would go after us for negligence.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

How to string words you like to form adjectives

If you read the newspapers, you will come across the use of adjectives formed by stringing words together by hyphens. The following is such an example:
A 20-year-old man was found sprawling in the middle of the road with blood oozing from the wounds from all over him.
'20-year-old' is an adjective formed by stringing '20', 'year' and 'old' together by hyphens.

You can be creative by coining adjectives such as the following:
1 He gave a 'will-you-give-me-a-break' look.
2 He showed me a 'sack-me-if-you-like' face when he was very late and I was about to tell him off.
3 The salesgirl finally displayed her 'take-it-or-leave-it' look to the fastidious customer who had asked her to take down ten pairs of shoes for her to them on her feet.

Happy coining adjectives.

Friday, September 12, 2008

The Mid-Autumn Festival

Zhong Qiu Jie will be here comes this Sunday. It is also known as the Mid-Autumn Festival which falls on the 15th day of the eighth moon every year according to the lunar calendar. The Chinese will celebrate this festival without fail.

The arrival of this festival can be felt when you seen yue pian being sold in the market. These mooncakes have some stories behind them. According to one, secret messages were put inside the cakes to tell the masses to revolt against the Mongols during the 14th Century and drive them from China. People who cut the cakes would find messages to this effect and acted accordingly.

Another thing associated with this festival is the bearing of lanterns. For children, they always look forward to this day as they can carry their favourite lanterns around with their friends. In the past, candles were lighted inside the lantern to provide light for the kids to walk around at night. Nowadays bulbs powered by batteries replaced the candles as illuminators. For this year, there are even lion dance lanterns powered by batteries with songs played sold in the market. Each lantern costs around RM10.00.

As for adults, they will be sitting outside the house to admire the beauty of the full moon. Some Chinese do pray to the moon too.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

About portable applications again

Portable programs can be run from usb drives or cd roms. These programs are made by those experts who use their original software to produce a compact one containing only the essentials. After all, most of the time we don't use those complicated functions. What we want is getting our job done with the same software in its simplicity - the portable version of the said software.
I hope readers who have read my earlier post have gone the the forum site I mention to grab some use portables for their use.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Portable applications

The use of portable applications such as Adobe Photoshop, Winrar, Word, Excel and PowerPoint saves disk space because they are compact and take up as little space as your USB drive. Besides you can put all the programs in one thumb drive and bring it with you to be used in any computer as they can be run from your USB drive.

One place you can download these programs is a forum site called andre.net. To get there type http://forum.andre.net. You must register as a member to be able to download files based on the URL given. When you get to the forum site, look for portable applications or the like. Scroll down to the application that appeals to you and double-click it. You will see the description of the software and the URL to download.

Happy hunting for portable applications.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Fasting month

This month the Muslims all over the world will fast for a month before celebrating Hari Raya Aidilfitri. The month of Ramadan is a sacred month and Muslims will exhibit the best of behaviour to do justice to the month.
According to my Muslim friends, fasting is beneficial to health. When we fast, the body has a chance to repair our cells in the organs, rendering them to function well.
In my tuition class, I allow my Muslim students to break fast for 10 to 15 minutes. Today the time for breaking fast was 7.22 p.m. It varies from day to day.

Monday, September 8, 2008

I need a heating element

When I was staying in a 4-star hotel in Malacca I wanted to boil some water but the element of the kettle was rusty. Most probably it had been in water for too long. Poor maintenance by the hotel had caused it to get rusty.

From this incident, I realised that I could do with a heating element of my own. With it, I can boil water without fearing contamination because I will keep the element dry after using it so that it won't rust. I just need to immerse the heating element in a cup fill with water and connect the element to electricity and soon my water will boil to serve my need.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Bus tickets for normal service sold out

I had a bad experience about the bus service when I made a trip to Malacca. You see, I took the 11.00 p.m. bus on Saturday night from Penang and it reached Malacca at 7.14 a.m. the next morning.

I had planned to book the bus tickets for me and my wife before check-in at a local hotel. Little did I realise that there was a scramble for tickets that the bus tickets for Penang were sold out at all the ticketing counters there. The earliest available tickets to Penang were for Wednesday.

I did not give up though. I queued up at each counter, hoping to get any available tickets irrespective of time schedule. As if luck intervened, one counter clerk offered me tickets at 9.00 p.m. on Monday on board a tour bus. Further more, it cost 30% more as I had to pay RM45 for each ticket and it would only stop at Butterworth. From there I had to board a ferry to get to the Penang Island. I immediately grabbed the offer lest others might lay their hands on them in desperation like me.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Malaccan Chicken Rice

I went to Malacca to visit my son who was studying at Multimedia University. While there he took me and my wife around the town of Malacca. I have always wanted to taste the Malaccan Chicken Rice because it is not the same as the one in Penang.

After visiting Zoo Melaka, we went to an eatery where Malaccan Chicken was sold. As it was quite early, we didn't have to wait for seats.

When our meal came, I was attracted by small balls of rice and a plate of chicken meat. It is rice done in spherical shape that makes Malaccan Chicken Rice unique. As I tasted the rice ball, it seemed to be flavoured, unlike ordinary rice. My son told me that this shop charges customers reasonably. He was right. We ordered three glasses of herbal tea and the set of Chicken Rice. Only RM15.20 had we to pay for our meal.

I shall tell readers about the zoo trip later as I was still editing the photos.

Friday, September 5, 2008

How to use 'since' and 'for' in present perfect tense

Two words which are good indicators of present perfect tense are 'since' and 'for'. To use these two correctly with the above tense, note the following rules:
1 'for' is followed by a duration of time. e.g. for three hours.
2 'since' is followed by a fixed point in time. e.g. since last week, since 8.00 a.m.

Let us look at the following sentences to see how 'for' and 'since' are used in the present perfect tense:
(i) I have waited for him for two hours.
(ii) He has been absent from school since last Wednesday

Thursday, September 4, 2008

The correct usage for 'tidak' and 'tiada'

Most of the time I talk about usage in English. In this post, I will guide beginners in Malay on the correct usage of 'tidak' and 'tiada'.

a) The word ‘tidak’ is followed by an adjective or verb. The following sentences will illustrate my point:
1 Soalan Matematik ini tidak susah.
[This Maths soalan is not difficult.]
2 Dia tidak menjelaskan yuran kelab ini.
[He did not pay the club subscription.]

b) ‘Tiada’ is the same as 'tidak ada'
It is followed by a noun. The sentence below shows its usage:
Tiada pegawai yang bertugas pada masa itu.
[No officer was on duty at that time.]

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Examples are always plural in English

When we give examples in our sentences, the examples given should be plural unless the nouns concerned are uncountable. Let us look at the following sentences for illustration of my point here.
1 We can see quite a number of animals such as tigers, lions, monkeys, crocodiles, deer, rhinoceros and bears in a zoo.
2 Things sold in this supermarket include sugar, salt, shirts, cups, spoons, and others.
Note that deer is plural while sugar and salt are uncountable nouns.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

A little about Buddhism.

Buddhism is different from other religions in that every being is considered equal with Buddha. In other words, animals and man alike can achieve Buddhahood if he, she or it practises the teachings of the Buddha.
First of all we must get rid of greed, hatred and delusion. If we can forego a lot of things in life, we will not be so worried. Hatred begets hatred. Why not we love all beings and leave hatred alone? Delusion can be simply put as not being able to understand the true nature of things. Everything in this world is impermanent. A good example is the flower. It will not last forever but will wither. Things can go bad. Human bodies will go bad one day too.
Purification of the mind and doing dana will pave the way to achieving nirvana or eternal bliss.
In Mahayana Buddhism, we can chant the name of Amitabha Buddha to go to His land when we pass away. The Eastern Paradise where He resides is a very good place to practise to achive full Buddhahood. Amitabha Buddha had vowed that whoever who chant His name will be received by Him on the person's death.

Monday, September 1, 2008

How to use 'tired' and 'tiring' correctly

Both 'tired' and 'tiring' are adjectives but their usage differs.
a)'tired' is used after verbs-to-be such as is,am, are,was and were and after the verb 'feel'
Examples: 1 I was very tired after having walked for 10 kilometres.
2 She felt very tired after a hard day's work.

b) 'tiring' is used in front of nouns.
Examples: 1 It was a very tiring game for the shuttler as he had to play three sets to win the badminton match.
2 The tiring work made him very exhausted at the end of the day.