Sunday, February 28, 2010

Chinese Valentine's Day

Today is Chap Goh Mei or the 15th day of the first month the lunar calendar and the last day of Chinese New Year. Chap Goh Mei is the equivalent of Valentine's Day because in ancient China, this was the day the maidens would be out looking for eligible bachelors for marriage and the lads would be scouting for life partners.

Usually, in Penang there will activities such as throwing mandarin oranges into the river or sea. It is believed the man who manages to pick up the mandarin orange thrown by a maiden will be the future husband of the said maiden. This is because mandarin orange is called 'kam' in Hokkien and it rhymes with 'ang' or husband. Hence there is the saying which goes 'Tim kam chua hor ang' or 'throwing a mandarin orange will get a good husband'.

As for the lad, he will throw a drum so as to get a good wife. Drum in Hokkien is 'kor' and it rhymes with 'bor' or wife. Hence there is the saying 'tim kor chua hor bor' or 'throwing a drum will get a good wife.'

I suppose there will be a lot of activities going on at Gurney where the throwing of mandaring oranges and drums will be done to celebrate Chap Goh Mei.

So much for Chap Goh Mei.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

For want of usb ports

Most computer add-ons nowadays are usb-based. When I used my son’s laptop, I found the four usb ports on the computer in sufficient for my use.

The things that I have which need usb ports are keyboard, scanner, mouse, speakers,printer, 2.5” HDD. Hence I had to buy a usb hub with additional four ports for my use. I learnt something new here. I was told that I had a 5V adapter attached to the hub if I want to use the ports for scanner and HDD which have no power on its own.

Ideally a computer should have eight usb ports available so that no hub need be used at all. My old computer had eight usb ports and I needed not use any usb hub at all.

With all these limitations, I still prefer a desktop to a laptop.

Friday, February 26, 2010

When the water pumps broke down

Today, the residents in the condominium where I stayed had to queue up in front of the tap at the car wash area to wait for their turn to fetch water for use upstairs. What prompted us to go there was the break-down of the second water pump after the first one had failed earlier.

This is one of woes of living in a high rise apartment where water is pumped up to large storage to be distributes to individual units. We took enough water for bathing and washing of dishes and one pail for the toilet.

Carrying a large pail of water to my unit really exhausted me after the sixth trip.
i hope the repair man will come tomorrow to fix the pump or we will have to the tap at the car wash area for water supply.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

How to synchronise files in different drives

Hard disks can get failed unexpectedly. Hence we should back up our files every now and then.

In order to keep identical files in two places, we can sychronise them by using a software called SyncBack. This is how you do it.

First install SyncBack after having downloaded it from the Internet. Then specific the source of files to be copied. For me, I used the folder where I do my work. I call it 'working station'. After that specify the destination. I use a thumdrive. Before this, tell the software that you want both to be synchronise both ways. In other words, I can work on my computer and have the software update the files in my thumdrive. However, if I use my thumbdrive and work elsewhere, I can always use Syncback to update my files in my computer by activating the software.

I find the software useful.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The story of short change

Yesterday, I was talking about the ATM scam where a syndicate fraudulently took away the ATM card by distracting the owner so that he was away from what he was doing.

In today's post, I would like to relate an accident where I was nearly cheated out of my change. One day, many years ago, I was at the Wembley Cinema to watch a movie. As usual I would buy twenty cents of Hacks to be taken into the cinema. I gave the girl who sold sweets a ringgit note and she returned me all ten-cent coins for the change. Usually I would simply pocket the money. Somewhere or other, at that time, I counted the coins. There were only seven of them. When I went back to complain about short change, the girl immediately gave me ten cents without asking. This aroused my suspicion that she was doing it all the time to swindle customers. This incident gave me an idea to write about the scam in a newspaper column and I got eight ringgit as honorarium.

You see, there are always people who would like to cheat if there is a chance. Hence we have to be care so as not to fall victim to them.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Beware when someone taps your shoulder

It was reported in the local newspaper of an ATM scam that happened here. A few ATM holders had their cards stolen and cash withdrawn. This was how it happened.

A syndicate consisting of a few men and a woman will be around the ATM preying on their victims. Some will watch and memorise the PIN keyed in by would-be victims. The role of the woman is to drop some notes on the floor and a man will tap the shoulder of the ATM holder who has completed his last step of transaction and is waiting for the money to come out of the machine. The woman will tell the one at the ATM that his or her notes have fallen on the ground. Should the victim stoop down to collect the cash, his or her ATM will be taken away and replaced with one not belonging to him or her. They will not take your cash and you will find nothing unsual as your cash is intact. Hence you take out the ATM card without realising that it is not yours.

The man will quickly take the victim's ATM card and withdraw money with the PIN memorised by his gang at other terminals. Later when you want to withdraw money again, you will be surprised that the ATM card is not yours. If you have Internet Banking, you will find that all your money has been withdrawn by someone.

Hence, I will advise readers of this blog to be aware of this scam and do the following in case someone tap your shoulder to distract you. What you should do is:
1 Concentrate on what you are doing. Take your card and cash first before attending to those crooks.
2 Ignore the money on the floor as they do not belong to you.

In this way, they have no way of stealing your card or even your money.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Deserted Market Places

After a night day's fuss in praying to the Jade Emperor, the market place today was quite deserted. Many stalls were closed and we could not get to enjoy our delicious breakfast such as Hokkien mee. I just bought my Star and KwongWah and opted to cook my Maggie mee for breakfast instead.

Fragments of burnt firecrackers lined both sides of the road as we walked towards the market. I could imagine the din created last night. Near my place, the din started as early as a quarter to twelve midnight. I could not undersand why people could wait until 15 minutes before the real hour to pray to Jade Emperor, yet they fired the crackers before that defeating the purpose of praying on the real day because 15 minutes from midnight was still the 8th day of Chinese New Year.

It must the kiau su mentality that prompted them to create the din before the actual time. They wanted to be the first ones to pray to the Jade Emperor, I suppose. But alas! They missed doing it because it was not the day intended, you see.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Praying to the Jade Emperor

Tonight at 12.00 midnight, the Hokkiens will be praying to Jade Emperor. Temporary altar will be placed in front of the house on which are put sweeties and fruits not forgetting two plants of sugar cane which will be tied to each side of the altar.

There is a story behind the use of sugarcane here. Long time ago, the Hokkiens in China were chased by their enemies. They kept running until they came to a sugarcane plantation. Without a second thought, they hid among the leaves of the plants. The enemies simply passed the plants and continued their pursuit to the front. Thus the Hokkiens were saved from being killed by the enemies with the help of the sugarcane plants. To show gratitude to this plants, they included thm in their prayer to the Jade Emperor.

To mark the start of the ninth day of Chinese New Year when the praying starts, firecrackers will be burnt to add merriness to the occasion. In Malaysia, we are so used to the sound of firecrackers every year on this very night. The din will last for about five minutes.

Happy praying to the Jade Emperor tonight to the Chinese Hokkiens.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

A day for 'lao yu sheng'

The seventh day of Chinese New Year is a day for 'lao yu sheng' or tossing vegetables for promotion and getting better financially.

The sound of 'yu' (fish) is the same as that of 'yu' (surplus). 'Sheng' (grow) can be interpreted as 'sheng' (rise or go higher and higher).

The 'lao yu sheng' is done by digging chopsticks together into a heaps of colourful vegetables consisting of strips of carrots and other vegetables and tossing them upwards, the higher the better, signing getting higher promotion or getting better financially.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Where you can download movies

For those of you who would like to download old movies and new ones for viewing, I have found a site for you. It is You can type the movies that you want to download and see your luck. If there are still seeds around, you will be able to download them. Otherwise go for other titles instead.

To download movies, you need a good downloader. I think 'Thunder' is quite efficient and fast. This downloader can be downloaded from the Internet.

Happy downloading your movies.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Jie Cai Shen (Welcoming God of Money)

Today, the Chinese who yearn to get rich will welcome Cai Shen, a deity who is supposed to bring money to man. It is believed that if one ushers in Cai Shen at the right time, one will get rich for that year.

I believe that one should work harder to earn more money. It follows the karma law. Nothing venture nothing gain. If the money does not belong to you, it will disappear or change hands even if you have a chance to lay your hands on it.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Day to receive dewas back

Today, the Chinese will customarily welcome back dewas from the Realm of Jade Emperor. They especially hope that the Kitchen God has presented a good report to the Jade Emperor.

Everybody likes good report about him or her. A student who applies for a job hopes to get very good report about his academic performance and co-curricular activities. As for workers, they would like to have excellent report about their efficiency and work performance so that the chances of promotion are better.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Day of some entertainment on CNY

Watching variety shows and movies were the activities for day 3 of Chinese New Year for me. I really marvelled at the ability of one man who could mimic sounds of musical instruments, bass, trebels and sang at the same time. I know that a ventriloquist can do that. Another skill that attracted my attention is the skills of break dance shown of some of the young groups in the variety show.

As for the movie I watched today. It was about a high school boy who had the ability to produce food out of nowhere. How I yearn to have such an endowment! You just materialise whatever you want to eat and drink and free of charge. Of course the imagination of the script writer has made this movie entitled 'High School Superhero' so entertaining, forgetting the absurdities in the movies, though.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Taboos during Chinese New Year

On the first day of Chinese New Year (CNY), we are not supposed to dispose of any rubbish. This is because rubbish is considered 'cai' or money. Discarding trash on the first day of CNY means throwing away 'cai'. For hygienic purposes we put our rubbish into plastic bags and tied properly so that no odour emits from it. The rubbish will only be thrown on the second day of CNY.

The next taboo is not to say unpleasant words or those that are considered unlucky. Instead only good words should be uttered. I am sure all of us want good things to come our way and not otherwise. I personally advocate saying good and pleasant things about our friends and family members as the Chinese saying goes "Internal household shameful things should not be revealed to others outside our house." As most peole like to listen to pleasant things said about them, why should we offend them by scandalising them? If you believe in karma, good begets good and bad begets bad, you will surely praise the strong points of others and ignoring their weaknesses. In this way, good karma will come your way.

I enjoy the CNY because I can forget about work for a few days. No preparation for my tuition class, not reports to be written about the performance of my classes to my boss. On top of that, I can enjoy watching my movies all day long. Being a movie addicts I used to go the cinema very often. However, nowadays, I watch only movies on DVD's or those downloaded by my daughter. She has a faster connection (4000mb) in Sungai Long where she shares Streamyx with her housemates.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Chinese New Year

Happy Chinese New Year to all Chinese readers of this blog. On this auspicious day, I wish you all the best in everything you do.

Xin Nian or Chinese New Year is here again. This year we will usher in the Tiger Year. As with preceding years we always wish to be better for each new year that comes our way. I really hope that I will have health and peace of mind this year. Health is something very precious as no money can buy health. As for peace of mind, it means we will be free of troubles. To achieve this end, we must get rid of greed, hatred and delusion.

Hence, let us exercise regularly, be less greedy, love others and understand the true nature of life.

Xin Nian Kuai Le! (Happy Chinese New Year)

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Chi Tuan Yuan Fan (Reunion Dinner)

Today, the Chinese all over the world will have reunion dinner. It is a tradition still practised today. This is a good tradition because it brings all members of a family together.

I still remember how I travelled all the way from Pahang to Penang just to be in time for this great occasion when I was teaching there. Although we had to rush back two days later, we still felt it right to be with our family on this day - the Chinese New Eve.

Usually, steamboat dinner is the choice of most families as it is suitable and easy to prepare. We just dump whatever we like into boiling water in a bowl placed on a hot plate and enjoy ourselves partaking of what we fancy.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Turning the laptop into my cpu

I was able to do any posting for quite a number of days because my old faithful died a natural death. The motherboard refused to work anymore. I negotiated with my son to lend me his laptop for the time being and I will order a cpu online but it will take about three weeks to arrive.

It turned out the I don't quite like the screen. It is reflecting and so my son had thought of way to make feel like I am still using my old faithful.

You see, Windows 7 has this function of enabling extended screen. After some manipulations, my son was able to turn my LCD monitor into the second and main screen. Hence when Windows 7 boots, it starts from the laptop, then the dislay goes to my old LCD monitor.

Right now, I am able to type just like I did before my old computer of 7 years failed me. I am using my old keyboard with an adapter to turn it into usb enabled keyboard and got plugged to the laptop. The picture is clear. My lap acts like my cpu and I am using my old LCD monitor and my old keyboard to work on.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Song Shen

Come tomorrow and the Chinese will be doing 'song shen', that is sending off the dewas to the Realm of the Jade Emperor. The dewas will be there until the fourth day of Chinese New Year when they descend to the Earth again.

One of the dewas, namely zao shen or the Kitchen God will be reporting to the Jade Emperor about what transpired in each household for the household, good or bad. in order that the Kitchen God will tell only good things to the Jade Emperor, the Chinese will place nian gao or brown glutinous cake on the altar where the dewa resides. It is believed that after partaking of the cake, the dewa's mouth will have been sugar-coated and must be telling good things when he is up there in the Realm of Jade Emperor.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Inconsistency in sentence structures

I read with interest a letter to the editor about the poor standard of English in flyers to be distributed to the public. As I scrutinised what was written, it was really incomprehensible. This is partly due to inconsistency in the sentence structures and horrible grammatical errors.

When we construct sentences, we must follow certain rules. For example, if you write it in the active voice, you must not change to the passive in between. Let us take an example, 'I took out a novel and read by me straight away.' This is inconsistent. You should have written 'I took out a novel and read it straight away.'

The flyer in question has all the sentences and part sentences following one another without subjects. Here it goes:

Easy and comfortably reshape burstline win confident and no more embarassing moments. Natural comfort fabric, accommodate for local climate. Ventilation power, help breast to breath. Absorb sweat easily, feel cooling comfort. Odour free, maintain healthy. Anti-bacteria, angainst itchiness.

If my student wrote such a poor piece of prose, I would have corrected his work as follows.

The bra has comfortable bust-line after being reshaped. Wearing such a bra will win you confidence and there will be no more embarrassing moments. Made of natural fabric, it can adapt to local climate. Ventilation is good and it can absorb sweat easily so that you will feel cool and comfortable wearing it. Besides, it is odour free and hygienic with anti-bacteria and anti-itchiness properties.

You see, you must have a subject in each sentence. In the first sentence, the subject is 'The bra'. 'Wearing such a bra' forms the first subject of the first half of the second sentence and 'there' forms the subject for the second half of the sentence. The subject for the third sentence is 'it'. As for the fourth sentence, the subject is 'Ventilation' for the first half and 'it' for the 2nd half. The last sentence has 'it' as the subject.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

The pronunciation of 'presentation'

Students often ask me the correct pronunciation of the word 'presentation'. Well, they have heard it being pronounced as 'presen'tation' [present as in 'to present a prize' and 'tation' as in 'station'] and "'presentation" [present as in 'to be present at a meeting' and 'tation' as in 'station'].

Well, both are correct but they are pronounced differently in England and the United States of America. In the USA, it is pronounced as the first pronunciation above and in England it is pronounced as the second pronunciation as stated above.

In Malaysia, we should pronounce it as the British because all our spellings and pronunciation have all along been following the British since colonial days.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Which is correct, 'sehubungan itu' or 'sehubungan dengan itu'?

My post today deals with the Malay language. There are two connectors which often confuse readers in the Malay language. They are 'sehubungan itu' and 'sehubungan dengan itu'. I have asked Dewan Bahasa dan Bahasa under Pertanyaan (Queries section) and the officer confused me because the answer he gave me was 'both can be used'.

My study of the Malay language for decades convinces me that 'sehubungan dengan itu' is the correct one because it falls under the rule for 'se + kata nama' which must be followed by dengan. For example, in the sentence 'Dia belajar sekelas dengan saya'[He and I study in the same class.], sekelas can be split into se + kelas (i.e. se + kata nama as kelas is a kata nama (noun).

Another example is 'Dia tidak sependapat dengan saya dalam hal ini. [His opinion is not the same as mine.] In this sentence, 'sependapat' can be split into se + pendapat, which falls under the rule of se + kata nama because pendapat is a kata nama or noun.

Similarly, sehubungan can be split into se + hubungan which falls under se + kata nama as hubungan is a kata nama (noun). Hence 'Sehubungan dengan itu' is more appropriate.

Let me make a sentence using this connector.

Sehubungan dengan itu, saya telah memberikan penerangan yang jelas kepada para peserta.
[In connection with that, I have given my clear explanation to all the participants.]

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

How to use 'There is' and 'There has'

Very often my students who are Chinese will write 'There has a computer laboratory.' This probably is the direct translation from the Chinese sentence 'Na li you yi jian dian nao shi.'

In this post, I would like to show how to make sentences using 'There is' and 'There has'. 'There is' is more common and 'There has' has limited usage. Look at the following sentences with 'There is' at the beginning.

1 There is a pharmacy near my house.'
2 There is a book on the table.
3 There is no one in the house.
4 There is no shortcut to success.
5 There is little water left in the bottle.
['There is' is followed by a subject singular in nature.]

As for 'There has', I can only thing of the sentences below:
1 There has to be a way to solve this problem. [It means there must be a way to solve this problem.]
2 There has to be a key to this room.
[It means there must a key to this room.]

Monday, February 1, 2010

Gong Xi Fa Cai

Gong Xi Fa Cai or Congratulate on making yourself rich wiil be said during Xin Nian or Chinese New Year. If you stress too much wealth, then you can say 'Xin Nian Kuai Le' or Happy Chinese New Year.

It is the wish of all people to get rich but some simply cannot make it. It has to do with karma. If you had donated generously in your past lives, the you should be rewarded with wealth, lots of it in this life. The miserly ones in their past lives have no hope of getting rich in this life. Such is the teaching of the Buddha.

Hence it is more proper to wish most people 'Xin Nian Kuai Le' as happiness is more important than wealth alone.