Saturday, February 28, 2009

The odd girl out

There is one student in my English class who is from a lower form. You see, my class prepares students to sit for the 1119 English but this girl is only in Form 2. What business has she in my class?

You see, her father found that Form 2 English class is too easy for her daughter and hence requested to be emplaced in a higher form. She is indeed comfortable with the other older students as her standard of English is comparable to theirs if not better. I have marked several of her essays and they prove that she is not a misfit. Her essays are a joy to read as they are very interesting and written in good English and I hardly need to put my red pen to good use. All I look for are the vocabulary and interesting expressions which I tick as weightage for the final marks to be awarded.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Iodine did the job all right

When I was teaching Science in St Theresa Secondary, I stayed in the lab most of the time. My buddy Fauzi would come and discuss with me the novels that he had read. He liked to read Johan Jaafar's short-stories and novels.

Students who got hurt after falling down and scratched their knees would come to me for treatment. I usually washed the students’ wounds with antiseptic solution such as Dettol and applied acroflavine before bandaging their wounds.

If I happened to know that a certain was disobedient and naughty, I would apply iodine tincture to his wound. He would be grimacing in pain and dared not be so playful again because he would not like to suffer the piercing pain again when iodine started to work on his wound. Mercury chrome is another solution which can be used to treat wounds

Thursday, February 26, 2009

How I learned to ride a bicyle.

I still remember the big bicycle my father used to carry the fish from place to place to sell. That very bicycle became the first bicycle I used to learn how to ride a bicyle. As it was very heavy, it took me great effort to push it around.

At that time I was about 9 years old. It was too high for me to sit on its seat. Hence I learned to cycle by placing my right leg on the right pedal through the space of the triangular iron frame and my left leg resting on the left one. I did not know how I managed to balance it but the bicycle was moving slanting to the ground, being 45 degrees from the ground, I suppose.

How I envy children nowadays who can ride bicycles specially made for their height and convenience.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

How to play partial rar file

For those who like to download movies for watching, you can watch the any part of the rar file. Usually movie file is too big for one single download and it is zipped and split into a few part files for uploading to free servers that allows only 100MB per file.

You can use Dziobas Rar Player to play any part file without unzipping it. In this way, you can download the first part file and watch the movie using this player. If it is interesting you can go on download the other part files. Otherwise, you need not bother about the other part files.

You can use the Yahoo search locate the URL to download this free player. There are a number of sites where you can do so.

Happy playing partial rar file using Dziobas Rar Player.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009


When we learn English, we cannot run away from using verbs-to-be. They include be, is, are, was, were,will be, being and been.

These are the examples of using verbs-to-be mentioned above:
1 Let me be the first to buy your goods.
2 She is a very intelligent girl.
3 They are brave and responsible.
4 It was a show worth watching.
5 The women were chatting under the shady tree.
6 The will be an English test today.
7 I love being in the rain.
8 Being a policeman is no easy job.
9 John has been a lawyer for thirty years.
10 Had it not been for help, I would not have been so successful today.

Monday, February 23, 2009

The difference between 'comprise' and 'consist' in usage

The two words 'consist' and 'comprise' mean the same thing, meaning 'is / are made up of'. There is a difference in usage though. The word 'comprise' takes no preposition after it whereas 'consist' is followed by the preposition 'of'.

The following sentences which carry the same meaning will make it clear to readers.
1 Our study group comprises eight members.
2 Our study group consists of eight members.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Corresponding with penpals to improve English

Nowadays writing to penpals has become a thing in the past. This is because, we can use email to serve the same purpose.

When I was still student, I corresponded with a few penpals to improve my English. I had one penpal from France, one from Japan and two from Malaysia,my own country. We usually talked about our ways of life and school. I found that my English really improve by leaps and bounds after having lots of practice replying to my penpals' letters.

My collection of stamps also increased. Apart from the penpal from Japan that did not write good English, the other three wrote very good English. I sort of imitated their style and ways of expression. Later I stopped correspondence with them when I had too much homework to do and could not find time to do the correspondence any more.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

How to send a big file to your friend

If you need to send a file to your friend, you will usually attach it with your e-mail. However, the maximum size for an attached file is only 10 MB for most e-mail service.

There is a way you can send a file longer than 10 MB to your friend. What you do is to upload your file to a server such as free of charge.

First go to
Then click UPLOAD. Browse to where your file is and the uploading will begin. It will take 10 to 20 minutes to upload your large file but the limit is 100MB. For files bigger than this, split them and upload the files separately. When a file is uploaded successfully, a URL of the file will be generated by Rapidshare. Send this URL to your friend so that he can download it from Rapidshare.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Inaccessible backup CD's

When I took out some of my CD's to retrieve saved files, I found that some of them became inaccessible. That made me remember that CD's do have life span. Hence we should back up on new CD's from time to time so that our data are not lost.

I did use isobar which I bought to read inaccessible CD's but in vain too. If this is the case, I will make backup on usb drives too as a safer way to keep my data.

I like to write down the date on each CD with backup so that I can know how long it has been residing in the CD and I can know its age too. Some CD ROM drives can't read files written by other brands of CD ROM. Hence it is wise to keep another copy of our files in the hard disk.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Running with my students

When I was a young teacher, I liked to train the boys and girls in the running events. It was in Jerantut that I had this chance of running side by side with my boys when they came for sports practice. As I have told readers in my earlier post, I could run 30 rounds in the field of the teachers' college I attended. Hence I did not feel tired running along side with my students in the field. For one thing, I got to exercise. For another, it was an inspiration for them to run as best as they could because they would not like to be beaten by their teacher. With my size, people could not really differentiate the teacher from the pupils when we were running along the track in the field.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Another case of karma that caught up with me

When I was still in Form 4, I formed a study group with two of my classmates. They were Teoh Joo Haw and Loo Guan Leong. We called the group ‘Boy Leong’ Study Group. There is a joke about the name. In that year, a Sabahan Chinese teacher came to our school for teaching practice. As he could not pronounce the word ‘volume’ properly, he uttered the word as ‘boy leong’. We always made fun of the pronunciation all along and decided to name our study group with the two words.

One day, Joo Haw suggested that we buy a rabbit to do dissection ourselves. Without a second thought, Guan Leong and I agreed. From the chemist we bought some chloroform and from the pet shop we acquired a rabbit. Then we went to Joo Haw’s house with our dissecting tools.

We placed a piece of cotton bud sprinkled with chloroform to the nose of the rabbit and instantly it went into a coma. Then we laid the poor creature on a piece of wood and started to dissect the animal just as we were taught by our biology teacher. We could identify all the organs inside the rabbit. After some time we could not stand the stench coming from the enthralls any longer and dumped the dissected rabbit into a rubbish bin.
I was happy with a job well done then. Little did I realize that karma caught up with me when I had to be operated upon many years later.

One day, I had sustained stomachache for three days. All types of wind-expelling oil were applied to my tummy but the pain simply refused to go away. Then I went to see Dr Nadesan, my family doctor. He diagnosed my condition as suffering from appendicitis. So, I had to go to a hospital for operation.

When the surgeon in Gleneagles read the referral letter, he straight away arranged for an immediate operation for me. I was made unconscious just like the rabbit was made unconscious by me. I did not know what happened after that until I recovered from the effect of anaesthetic two hours later. I felt pain at the place where incision was done. The next day, when the nurse came to wash my wound, I had a look at it. It was a long gash just like the incision we made to the rabbit which we had dissected.

Come to think of it, this must be the karma working on me again. The incidents of karma which I had experienced were discussed in my earlier posts. If you are interested, look for the posts under ‘Religious Matter’ label.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Taking part in Malay Quiz of the Malay Society in the secondary school I studied in was something I looked forward to. During the session, a lot of questions about the Malay language such as synonyms, proverbs and other things about the Malay culture would be asked.

I liked the pantun (a type of 2-line, 4-line, 6-line or 8-line poem) questions. Usually we would be asked to complete the meaning after the pembayang maksud (shadow of meaning) was given. You see, in a 4-line pantun, the first two lines are pembayang maksud and the other two lines are the meanings. As I could memorise most of the 4-line pantun, I collected a gift for each pantun question answered correctly. I gathered so many prizes that the Chairman prohibited me from taking part any further. I gave some of the staplers that I won to my friends.

Monday, February 16, 2009

An irretrievable loss

An irretrievable loss of data occurred yesterday when I did some alterations to my blog. I did not remember having deleted the blogroll from my blog but it just disappeared. As I did not do a full back of all my links, I could only restore the earlier ones that I had backed up.

I have to say sorry to fellow bloggers who exchanged links with me. If you do not find your link in my present blogroll, do tell me in the chat box and I will add in for you. Since I could do nothing to get back the old data, this is what I can do.

From this incident, it is important that we backed up our posts and other data regularly to prevent a mishap such as mine.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

How to speed up download speed

I learned of a way of speeding up our download. It is very simple. We need to do some testing before we settle for the speed. Well, it is like this.

Whenever we connect our modem to the telephone, a new IP will be allocated. This will affect the speed of our download. Hence, we can test the speed by disconnecting and reconnecting the modem to the telephone line until we get the highest speed for our download. Of course we need to have the URL of the file which we intend to download.When the highest speed is found, settle for this and stay put until we switch off our computer.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

How I helped a college mate scored distinction in Malay.

When Malaysians want to be teachers, they must pass the Malay language with a credit. However, some candidates are granted a place of study in a teachers' college conditionally. One of my college mates belonged to this group. She had only a pass in Malay, so she had to resit the Malay until she got a credit before she could be confirmed in the post of a government teacher.

This girl knew that I was proficient in Malay and asked me to help her with the language. I asked her to write me a Malay essay so that I could ascertain her standard. She was very weak in grammar and so could not express what she intended to say. I marked her essay and returned the almost-coloured-red sheet to her. The next day she copied the essay with my corrections and asked me to read over. My! It was flawless.

From then on she wrote an essay a day and asked me to mark it for her and I willingly obliged her because she was very serious in improving her Malay. Sometimes, she asked me about the mistakes and I explained the rules to her. As days went by, her mistakes became fewer and fewer but she still handed me her essays for correction.

It was a great surprise and pride to me when she passed the Malay paper with a distinction. She thanked profusely for helping her all along.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Quiet students turned active

When I was teaching in Jerantut Secondary School, I enjoyed watching the variety show put up by students on Teacher's Day. Surprises were in store for us. Quiet students turned alive and active singing or acting in sketches much to the teachers' amazement. Sometimes teachers also went on stage rendering evergreen songs to entertains fellow teachers and pupils.

It was a day of joy and laughter for all of us.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

English helped me learn Malay

It is interesting to study a language. I liked to study Malay when I was in primary school. At that time, my cikgu (teacher) was a Malay man. In order to learn the meaning of a certain word, I always said, "Cikgu, what is the meaning of (the word I want to ask him)?" He would tell me the meaning in English. Then I would go home and look up my English-Chinese dictionary for the meaning in Chinese. In this way, I accumulated quite a number of words in my vocabulary. There was no such thing as writing an essay then. So it was mainly learning how to pronounce the words and knowing their meanings. My interest in Malay stays with me until now. I will definitely look up the meaning of any new Malay word whose meaning I am not sure of in my Kamus Dewan (the official dictionary by Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka).

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Photography and me

I am interested in science, especially Physics. The pin-hole camera really attracted me. Although it can be made using a box and a translucent paper with a pin hole in front, yet it can capture the image of an object in front of it. I also used it to illustrate how the image of an object is formed at the retina when I was teaching science in Jerantut, Pahang then.

The first camera I bought was a box camera. It cost me only RM4. The film was quite expensive then but only black and white photos could be taken with it. At that time I simply took photos of my family members and scenery. I have no idea how to take good photos. Later I started to read books about photography. For example, the horizon should form one third of our scene. There is to be a frame when we want to take photos of other objects and so on. The control of aperture is also important when photographing an object or a scene.

When I was a student at a teacher’s college I joined the Camera Club and had a chance to develop the films myself. However, we only printed black and white photos but they were good enough for me. I still had some of those photos which I printed myself in the dark room.

Now I own a Sony Cybershot digital camera which not only allows me to take still pictures but movies too. I still like the SLR that I once owned because I can control the aperture and speed to achieve what I want to produce.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Betting using sugar canes

In my earlier I mentioned that I went with my father to side of the temple to sell things to people who gambled there. These people even used sugar canes to bet.

Two of the people would bet on whose sugar cane has the longest strand in the middle after being snapped. The loser will pay for the winner's sugar cane. My father or I would cut half way down in the middle of the sugar cane. Then each of them would snap his own sugar cane. After that they would compare the strand that stood out in the middle of the sugar canes to determine who won.

Monday, February 9, 2009

It is Chinese Valentine Day tonight

Once again, the Chinese will be celebrating Chap Goh Mei (which means 15th Night in Penang Hokkien) tonight. It is also called Yuan Xiao Jie which carries the meaning of ‘the end of 1st moon’ and it marks the end of Chinese New Year celebrations. Chap Goh Mei is also known as Chinese Valentine Day.

In ancient China, maidens were allowed to come out on this night to view future husbands. If any one of them fancied a man, arrangement will be made to match the couple who were agreeable to each other. Hence unmarried girls always looked forward to this day to fulfill their aim of getting good husbands.

Mandarin oranges would be thrown into the river in the hope of getting good husbands. Mandarin oranges are called ‘kam’ in Hokkien and it rhymes with ‘ang’ for husband in Hokkien. As for men, they would be throwing drums hoping to get good wives as ‘drum’ is pronounced as ‘kor’ and it rhymes with ‘bor’ which in Hokkien means ‘wife’.

In Penang, the section in charge of tourism used to hold fun session for the public to throw mandarin oranges into the sea at Gurney Drive or the Esplanade. This event is usually participated by both locals and foreigners.

So, what are you waiting for? Girls, com

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Thaipusam is celebrated today

Today the Hindus are celebrating Thaipusam, in honour of their deity, Lord Muruga. In Malaysia, two places where most devotees will flock to celebrate the occasion will be Batu Caves and Penang. As I live in Penang, I will tell readers about what usually happens here.

On this day, early in the morning, the silver chariot bearing Lord Muruga will depart from Kovil Veedu (temple house) in Penang Street. It will proceed slowly to Nattukokai Chettiar Temple in Waterfall Road. All along the journey there, devotees will be offering flowers, incense sticks and milk to the volunteers to be made the offering for their deity. Coconuts will also be smashed by those who want to pay homage to Lord Muruga and to thank Him for prayers answered.

Devotees who want to repay the deity’s blessing or help will carry kavadis (ornate frames) along the way too. Some will even pierce their mouths and other body parts with skewers. Before doing all these, the devotees will observe vegetarian diet for a week or more to cleanse themselves.

Happy Thaipusam to all Hindus and devotees.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

The belangkas game

When I was still in the primary school, I used to follow my father when he pushed his tricycle to sell things in the village. On his tricycle would be put sugar-canes, candies, jelly and fried bean curds. We would usually go to a Chinese temple because a gambling group would gather by the side of the temple. The gamblers would play ‘belangkas’ (king crab), a die with cylindrical stick in its middle and made to spin. On the four sides of the die one could see pictures of a prawn, a fish, a flower and a king crab. There would be a piece of paper with four columns placed in front of the ‘chong’ (the person who pays the gamblers who win). The four pictures drawn were the same pictures on the die. Gamblers would place their money on the column they liked. The ‘chong’ would spin the belangkas die and when it stopped, the picture on the topmost would determine the winner. Suppose the picture is prawn and you place one dollar on the column with the prawn picture on it, you will be paid three dollars. Sometimes my father allowed me to play a small amount such as ten cents.

Gamblers were allowed to place their money in between two pictures such as prawn and fish, fish and flower, and flower and king crab. They will get only get half the amount of money if the belangkas stops with any one of the two pictures where money is placed topmost. Suppose you place two dollars in between prawn and fish and the belangkas stops at fish topmost, you are paid one dollar by the ‘chong’.

I wonder whether people nowadays still gamble this way.

Friday, February 6, 2009

About my father

My father passed away in 1966 at the age of 55 when I was still in Form 3. Studies have shown that children have no memory of what has transpired before the age of 5. Hence what I could recollect was what I could observe after the age of five.

My dad had dark skin, tall and stern-looking. He was a fish-monger who sold fish from house to house. He put the fish, newspaper and weighing scale in a big rattan basket which he tied to the rear carrier of his big bicycle. Then he cycled to several places to sell his fish.

The big basket was the place where dad put my brother and me when he took us to an Indian barber for a hair-cut. We really enjoyed the ride.

My dad knew quite a lot of Chinese words because he was taught by a teacher personally as was the practice long ago. From him too, he learnt of a way of dissolving fish bones stuck to the throat. Neighbours used to come to my house for treatment by my father when fish bones got stuck in their throats. My father would take out a cup, pour some water in it and point his little finger to the sun after which he would start drawing with the same finger in the water. The patient would then drink the 'treated water'. Miraculously their fish bones would disappear after a while.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Travelling in darkness on a motorcycle

Have it ever happened to you when the front light of your motorcycle went off?
Well, it happened to me one day when I was coming back from my colleague's house. Tan Peng Seng stayed near the Pahang River and I started my journey back to Jerantut, the place where I served as a teacher in Pahang, when the front light of my Honda C70 went off and I could not see a thing in front of me as it was very dark. I had to stop by the road and waited for passing vehicles. When a car passed me I quickly tailed it from behind so that I could see the road in front of me but soon it outsped me and I had to stop again to wait for another vehicle. How I wished I had brought my flashlight along. After waiting for quite some time and no vehicles passed my way, I had to take the risk and rode on very slowly. What a relief for me when finally I reached Jerantut and the light around enabled me to reach home safely.

From this incident, it showed that we must equip ourselves with some light producing gadget in case we are caught in a situation like mine.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Teaching is not an easy job

Teaching is not an easy job. You have not only to be able to impart knowledge to students but to discipline them too. With regulation that prohibits teachers from caning students for doing wrong, the teachers' hands are really tied and can't do a thing except to scold their students when situation warrants it. The scolding itself will cause damage to their cars too because the students who are reprimanded by their teachers may go after the teachers' vehicles such as cars by scratching them.

Besides, a teacher needs to have a loud voice so that the students at the back of the class can hear him. Talking loudly in this way really strain the vocal cords. Hence all teachers must take honey regularly to keep their voical cords in good condition. The voice is very important to a teacher as it is used daily to carry out his duties in class.

After school, a teacher has to mark exercise books handed in by his students. In Malaysia, a class can easily come to 40 students. Imagine the amount of time to be spent marking those exercise books.

Usually a teacher is in charge of a game, a club or a uniform unit. In other words, he has to be with the boys or girls when co-curricular activities are being carried out.

These are but some of the things a teacher has to do.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Sometimes our old faithful does fail us

I have restored my Windows many times with the help of Norton Ghost 14 Recovery disk. Today, however, I could not do it because the recovery program failed to accomplish its task. Hence I had to reformat my Drive C before reinstalling my WinXp. The system played hide and seek with me three times because, the instruction kept saying ‘Insert a boot disk’. After a tedious three hours of reformatting and reinstalling I managed to get my system back to normal. Incidentally one of my hard disks died a natural death after serving me for six long years just two days ago. Maybe that had caused Windows to keep going to the ‘grave’ while doing its job of installing but I dared not disconnect it because I was not familiar with the cabling system inside the computer.

I suppose all of us have to face this type of problem any time when our system hangs or goes too slow for us to bear.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Tneah Kong Sneah

Today will be a big day for the Hokkiens for they will be praying to the Jade Emperor or Tneah Kong again at midnight for health and prosperity. The Hokkiens will name the ninth day of the first moon according to Lunar Calendar as Tneah Kong Sneah or the birthday of the Jade Emperor.

Usually a table which as an altar will be put outside the house. There will be two plants of sugarcane tied to both sides of it. On the table will be put fruits for offering. This include fruits such as pomeloes, pineapples, mandarin oranges, sweet glutinous cake and so on.

There is a story behind the use of sugarcane plants for this occasion. Long time ago, the Hokkiens were chased by their enemies. They ran and ran until they came to a sugarcane plantation and hid themselves there. Somehow of other, the enemies did not see them there and went elsewhere in search of them. Hence their lives were saved by this plant. To commemorate this incident, the Hokkiens will use sugarcane plants when praying to the Jade Emperor.

Firecrackers will be lit to produce din to start the praying. Although they are banned in Malaysia, some die-hards will keep them for this occasion.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Some common Malay and English proverbs

In the course of learning and teaching both Malay and English, I have come across quite a number of proverbs from both languages which mean almost the same things. I shall produce some examples in this post.

Doing two activities at the same time can be expressed through the Malay proverb ‘Sambil menyelam minum air [Literal translation: While diving, one can drink the water too.] This proverb has an equivalent in the English language. It is ‘Killing two birds with one stone’.

If the son imitates the behaviour of the father, a Malay proverb to describe it will be ‘Bagaimana acuan begitulah kuihnya’ (Literal translation: How a mould shapes like, so does the cake or the cake will take the shape or its mould) or ‘Bapa borek, anak rintik. (Literal translation: If Father has freckles, the son has them too.’ In English we use ‘Like father like son’ or ‘A chip off the old block’ to bear this meaning out.

We will find it easier to do a certain job if we do it very often. The Malay proverb that fits this description is ‘Alah bisa tegal biasa’ (Literal translation: The poison (bisa) loses (alah) because (tegal) one is used to it (biasa).) In the English language, the proverb is undoubtedly ‘Practice makes perfect’.