Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Why increase the toll?

I am seriously wondering to myself why toll rates need to be increased every few years in Malaysia when the toll operators are making good profit. This recent article by states that the net profit of PLUS Expressway is up by 4% to RM1.1 billion for the year ending 31 December 2006. That's some serious money to me, not chump change.

Although the recent toll hike on 01 January 2007 did not affect any of PLUS' highways, it still predicts a minimum of 15% growth from new business by next year-end and an increase of 30% in km of tolled roads by 2009. That can only mean more money, right? And I'm sure that the profit making is not limited to PLUS alone. The other toll operators should be more than breaking even, judging by the number of cars using tolled roads daily. So why does the government still need to compensate /subsidize them by the millions?

It's also a well known fact that you pay the toll to sit in another traffic jam, instead of escaping the jam. Shouldn't problems like this be solved first before the price goes up? Technically, yes, but nothing has been done. LDP (Litrak) motorists still crawl day in day out, and my housing area in Cheras is seriously affected by the toll hike since the Grand Saga motorists have taken to using all the back roads possible to avoid paying RM1.90 (one-way) to get to KL.

No wonder the people protested.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Oscar mania

I was going to blog about the Oscars today, but having Twittered about it all morning, I got lazy to do it all over again. So I've just cut and paste my comments below:-

  • And the Oscars have officially begun! Eddie Murphy is one funny dude when he's not talking...
  • A funny Oscar segment by Will Ferrell and Jack Black! ROTFL!
  • Abigail Breslin and Jaden Smith look so cute together! Everybody say awwwww.....
  • Cool segment on elements & motion with just the voices of a choir (can you call it a choir? they're not singing)
  • And Eddie Murphy loses out on his little gold man... again. No surprise there.
  • How'd they do that Happy Feet shadow with human forms? *scratch head*
  • Why'd they always use the Mission Impossible music to introduce Tom Cruise?
  • America voted: Jennifer Hudson = American Idol reject. But good enough for the Oscars. Talk about irony.
  • Wonders which is sweeter - to get an Oscar at the time of first nomination or to get an Oscar after years of nomination without winning.
  • Wonders how Beyonce felt performing on stage with Jennifer Hudson as the shadow of Jennifer's maiden Oscar win moments ago hung overhead...
  • The Queen! The Queen! (that just about says it all, doesn't it?)
  • Not seen so much hoo ha at the Oscars since Roberto Benigni won for Life is Beautiful...
  • Hmm... after many years and failed nominations, Martin Scorsese wins an Oscar for ripping off a Hong Kong film

Other random thoughts not Twittered

~ Ellen DeGeneres is really not that funny. Hmm. Would rather have Will Ferrell, Jack Black or Steve Carrell emcee-ing the occasion. Or bring back Whoopi Goldberg or Robin Williams.

~ Forgot to mention that humorous segment involving Anne Hathaway and Meryl Streep reprising their roles in The Devil Wears Prada.

~ And the ending part where Francis Ford Coppola, George Lucas and Steven Spielberg came out to present the Best Director award. Never realized that George Lucas doesn't have an Oscar to his name. Guess the bad scriptwriting of Star Wars dragged him down.

~ And Tobey Maguire looked really really short next to Kirsten Dunst. So did Tom Cruise when he came out later.

~ But Nicole Kidman looked really really good in a red Balenciaga dress that I just adore. Both Nicole Kidman and Penelope Cruz (Tom Cruise exes) looked exceptionally gorgeous while Katie Holmes was nowhere in sight. Ha!

~ Wonders how Simon Cowell feels about Jennifer Hudson now. And what Fantasia Barrino must be thinking when she watches Jennifer walk away with accolades for the role that she auditioned for but didn't get.

~ The song of the year by Melissa Etheridge sounds really really dull. Why'd it win? Because it's a politically correct song?

~ Somewhere out there, the Hong Kong film director of Infernal Affairs must be saying: "You ought to share that little gold man with me, Marty."

~ Oscar voters couldn't acknowledge Martin Scorsese for his original works, but for the "adapted" work, which was not entirely his.

~ Wondering what kind of swag the stars got for attending and presenting at the ceremony. Gifts, goodies, trips, sponsored stuff...

And I thought I wasn't going to blog lots about the awards. That's all folks! See you at the next Oscars!

Sunday, February 25, 2007

When Is A Dog Considered A Dog?

I was at a CNY gathering last night when the conversation went to the dogs, literally. You see, amongst the group were 2 dog enthusiasts, the kind who keep pedigree breeds. Naturally, the conversation turned to a debate on which type of breed was better (they own a golden retriever and doberman respectively), the difficulties of getting good breeders, and even the intricacies of stud farms. And one of the dog owners was contemplating getting another dog for watch dog purposes as his current dog was too "friendly". Of course, he was only thinking of getting a pedigree dog, thus the current trend of conversation. And the dog in question had to be "perfect". Not a single flaw in the dog's lineage, or breed. If there were to be the littlest imperfection, he just wouldn't consider having the dog at all. It got me to thinking when is dog considered a dog?

I'm not against having dogs as pets, I myself have a dog. But it's not a pedigree one, it's a pariah mixed breed whose mother gave birth to her here in our house and whom we have kept for nearly 7 years. She may not have the looks or the championship lineage, but her doggie heart is in the right place and she does an able job guarding the house (but not when firecrackers / fireworks are around!). For all their supposed love of dogs, why don't these people open up their hearts to real dogs? The kind who love you with their whole faithful loyal doggie heart just for being their owner / master. I think these dogs are worth more than the pedigree show dog that cost thousands of ringgit. Bet these people wouldn't even consider a deformed dog. Not like the owners of Faith the dog, who took in a little deformed puppy and gave her a second chance at life. This courageous dog doesn't know the meaning of disability and is surviving and thriving despite having only two legs. Now that's what I call a dog.

Friday, February 23, 2007

A sing-a-long CNY

Days 4 and 5 of the CNY were no less eventful than Days 2 and 3. Lots of CNY visitation to be done, right up till Day 15. Family meet-ups have already been planned! But that's for another day. Today it's all about the music.

CNY is not CNY without a good sing-a-long session aka karaoke! Whether at home with the relatives or outside with friends, CNY season is when I open up seldom used pipes to warble a tune or two (hopefully in key) with a mike in hand. This year was no exception. Over 4 hour karaoke session in Uncle #2's place on Day 3 was not enough (too many people!) so I popped over to RedBox Karaoke on the morning of Day 4. Funny how they jacked up the price to a weekend price even though it was a weekday. But I put that down to traditional Chinaman thinking of trying to make money even though it's the new year. Had a good vocal workout, and tried several American Idol standards - creating what I call my AI moment, where I "murder" the song. Heheheh.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

CNY visitations are tiring...

I was cautiously optimistic on the first day of CNY this year. Why? My family (for the first time that I can remember!) did not go out at all. My my my... it was a precedent! Most years we head out of the house in the mid-morning and don't come back till late at night and this goes on for a whole week. A whole week of non-stop visiting each relative's house until the circuit is complete - not unlike the F1 Grand Prix race calendar. *grin*

Alas, my hopes (which were raised on the first day) were dashed come the second day. We were not out and about in the morning, but it was hustle and bustle as we prepped the house for visitors that afternoon. Last minute dusting / sweeping / mopping / etc and me making a hurried trip to the shops for more drinks (a whole football team was coming!). Then it was off to uncle #3's house and back to our house again, a quick refresher and we were out till midnight at uncle #1's house. *phew*

Today, visitors for lunch at our house, before we pop over to uncle #2's house for pizza party (yay, Domino's!) and later this evening to uncle #4's house (where dinner may or may not be served). Eep! I'm already feeling tired just reciting the schedule! Oh yes, I'm also the designated driver this season... so... *sigh*

Monday, February 19, 2007

The Amazing Race All Stars is underway...

Just finished watching the live premiere of the Amazing Race All Stars - Season 11. As expected, early on Rob & Amber (the conniving husband / wife team from the Amazing Race - season 7) jumped into the lead and never looked back till the pitstop. Guess they're really determined to win this one after losing out to Uchenna & Joyce in that edition of the Amazing Race. I'll be following their progress weekly and these other teams that caught my fancy: Charla & Mirna, Teri & Ian and Joe & Bill. Good tv, this!

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Yee sang count

My yee sang "loh" count stands at four so far! Still another 14 days to go so the tally should rise. How about you?

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Happy Chinese New Year!!!

N E W Y E A R ! ! ! ! ! !

Wednesday, February 14, 2007


H A P P Y V A L E N T I N E ' S D A Y ! ! ! ! ! !

Sunday, February 11, 2007

On inefficiency and the behaviour of others

Was at the Ikea cafe for lunch yesterday around 1pm. As usual, it was jam-packed with weekend shoppers but finding a table wasn't too hard. That was the easy part. The yucky part started as I joined the queue to order my food.

First, the queue was soooo long. It probably stretched over 30 - 40 people deep, but as Ikea lines move quite rapidly I didn't really mind the wait. Ahead of me was a mother - daughter team, behind me were a courting couple. Uhmm, call me old-fashioned, but I don't think the queue line at Ikea cafe is the right place to exhibit how "close" you are to each other. Such scenes are best left until you are together, alone. This "angmoh" guy and the "local" girl practically had their hands all over each other, hugging and displaying their affection like nobody's business *censored scene*. Think of spineless jellyfish fused into one and you'll get my drift. *bleagh*

OK, so that was on behaviour. Now comes inefficiency. If you were the management of Ikea and you knew that lunch time was one of the busiest periods at the cafe, wouldn't you open up more cashiers? Nope. Didn't occur to them. Out of the four cashier counters available, only two were open. Naturally, that led to backlog of people holding trays of food patiently queuing up to pay. By the time I got my food and joined this queue to pay, again, the queue was around 20 - 30 people deep. Oh well. I thought they were going to open all the counters when several staff appeared, but they were only there to replenish the cashiers who were open. Eh? Couldn't they see that people were waiting in line? Aren't they empowered to quickly open more counters and reduce the queues? Must be the Malaysia Boleh attitude.

Then comes behaviour again. The mother - daughter team in front of me... The mother decided that it was too tiring to hold on to the tray of food (one tray, one plate of food, two glasses and some cutlery - so very heavy, right?) so she put it down on the railing. I shouldn't have any problem with this, except that the railing is not within arms reach of the queue - meaning she stepped out of line to put down the tray. And when the line starts moving, she steps out of line again to pick up the tray and shuffle forward a few steps then steps out of line again to put it down. After two - three manuveurs like this, I was starting to get irritated with her. Finally it was her turn to pay. Guess what? With over 20+ people queuing behind her, she chooses to pay by credit card for RM38 worth of food! *shakes head and rolls eyes* Before you suggest that she didn't have the cash to pay for the food, she did. When the charge didn't go through within the first 2 minutes, she dug into her handbag and brought out a RM50 ringgit note to pay for her food.

People are so.... *words fail me*

Friday, February 09, 2007

I Didn't Make It This Time

I had a new year’s resolution at the beginning of the year. I resolved that I wasn’t going to let my ingrown fear of not being perfect enough or doing things perfectly get in my way this year. It was supposed to help me be less perfectionistic and more easy-going, more relaxed in my expectations of myself. Well, I did it again yesterday.

I made a simple, avoidable mistake that cost some money. It happened because I didn’t double check and worked from my memory (which was not entirely correct). When I found out (almost immediately) I berated myself for most of the afternoon. There went my new year’s resolution flying out the window.

In retrospect, the mistake is not really that bad; it’s just a flaw in the scope of plans, but it still grates, nonetheless. Oh well, looks like I’ll have to try harder at not being too hard on myself. (Boy, that is one convoluted sentence!)

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Wishing On A Winter Wonderland

I was watching Great Hotels with Samantha Brown on the Travel & Living channel this afternoon and just fell in love with this hotel - the St Regis Hotel in Aspen, Colorado, United States. It's perfectly located just mere steps away from the ski lifts to the snow-covered slopes and still situated in the middle of Aspen town. Call me a country hick, but Aspen is also starville, where the rich, famous and beautiful come to hit the slopes and be seen. This could be the next best thing to Hollywood. Oh yes, they also have a ski butler service, where the butler outfits you with whatever you need for a day in the snow. And there's even a sleigh ride option! I wonder whether all of that is included in this package which I found on the Net?

Monday, February 05, 2007

People Against The Toll Hike

While journeying to Puchong yesterday to visit my uncle, I was caught in a massive traffic jam at the flyover junction near to Tai Thong Imperial Palace. Policemen were everywhere, halting traffic nilly willy and adding to the congestion. Cars simply were not moving, and it took maybe 10 minutes to move 200m. The reason for all the jam? Curious onlookers and cars slowing down to "kay poh" at the crowd outside the Puchong police station (behind Imperial Palace), the many policemen, and the 3 - 4 Federal Reserve Unit trucks that were parked outside the police station.

When I ventured into Puchong, it was around 6pm. Coming out for dinner at 8pm, the massive traffic jams had only eased slightly, and it took us nearly 20 mins to navigate our way through the u-turn at Imperial Palace. The policemen were still standing around, as were the FRU trucks - therefore, people slowed to look. Only when we left Puchong after 10pm had the jams magically disappeared, as had the policemen and FRU trucks.

A quick look at the newspaper today revealed the reason behind the mysterious traffic jam. Apparently a group of protesters had gathered at nearby IOI Mall to protest the recent LDP toll hike - a 60% increase from RM1 to RM1.60 - and had been arrested as a result.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Juggling Act

Went shopping in 1Utama again yesterday. Finally had managed to make a purchase of clothing for CNY (it is compulsory in our Asian culture). But as it was relatively cheap and I can wear all of these clothes during normal, non-festive occasions, I'm not complaining.

There was a performance by a troupe of China imported acrobatic performers in the centre court yesterday. I marvel at how flexible these young kids are, and how poised and composed they are as they perform. They're simply naturals. This juggling act had the crowd clapping and cameras clicking (mine was one).

Friday, February 02, 2007

Girl Power Rules

Note to self: Never predict the winner of any reality show. LOL.

I have to be honest and say that while I was rooting for ANY Malaysian team to beat the "gwei-lo" team of Sandy & Francesca of Hong Kong, I never expected Joe Jer & Zabrina to become the winners of The Amazing Race Asia (TARA). The smart money was on Andrew & Syeon as they'd performed excellently thus far (but came undone because they didn't hire a cabbie). And oh yes, Joe Jer & Zabrina are the first all-female team to win in ANY season of the Amazing Race, not just the Asian edition alone.

Anyway, who's up for season 2 of TARA? I wanna join, I wanna join, I wanna join...

Thursday, February 01, 2007

It's February Already!

How time flies! I can't believe it's February already. One month down, eleven more to go. February's such a short month too - 29 days long this year, but with the public holidays (today and in the middle of the month) it will feel even shorter. Valentine's Day is coming up soon too... in 13 more days. Not really looking forward to this holiday as there's no special someone in my life yet. Then it's time for Chinese New Year... in 17 more days. Still not prepared for this festival too. Hmm... I detect a certain sense of lethargy just thinking about it.

Anyway, lots of goings on (February seems to be more happening than January!), new frontiers to explore and people to meet. Changes will be inevitable. Ah well, life's like that. :o)