Thursday, December 08, 2011

Defender baby

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Letter to Digi

Digi Telecommunications Sdn Bhd
D’House, Lot 10, Jalan Delima 1/1,
Subang Hi-Tech Industrial Park,
40000 Shah Alam, Selangor
Tel: 03-57211800 8th December 2011
Attn: Henrik Clausen - CEO

Dear Mr.Clausen,

Let’s start from the beginning. I have been a customer of Digi for more than 10 years now. When I first signed up with Digi that was because at that time I felt that it was the best in terms of cost, coverage and above all , service. The service that I received from the then KL Plaza centre was outstanding, and that was the deciding factor.

Over the years, Digi has also served and treated me well, with occasional souvenirs and gifts thanking me for being a loyal customer. I find that to be excellent marketing in a competitive sector. Lately however, I am fairly certain that that level has dropped significantly, and it is here that I want to highlight to you my grievances.

For starters, my line is constantly being barred. Just last month, my payment of RM368.95 was overdue by 2 days and the line was barred. I checked with the OCS and the overdue bill was the billed amount, along with another unbilled amount of about RM500 that I have not received the bill yet. Let me ask you this, what is the purpose of offering me a credit limit of RM1780, when you are barring my line when it has not reached the limit yet? In fact, what really is the purpose of a credit limit at all? The customer service representative even has the cheek to tell me that even if I have a high credit limit, what if my bill was just RM100 a month, then I wouldn’t need to pay for a year! On a separate incident, another representative told me that I can always call them to unbar my phone anytime. Please look into training your representatives to be more courteous when dealing with customers in the future because that certainly is not what I want to hear. I think you offer credit limits for a reason and if you think your customers are bad paymasters you should decrease their credit limit and not bar their line without any warning.

Which brings me to my next complaint, and that is your customer service representatives. The level of service that I am constantly receiving is such a stark contrast to 10 years ago when I first signed up. At that time, they were courteous, polite, informative and willing to help. Perhaps because of your position everyone possess these qualities when they are around you but I want to bring to your attention what your everyday customer is dealing with with regards to the people who work for you. On numerous occasions I’ve wanted to pay my bills and I do it over the counter, and all of them open at 12pm. Any respectable business would open their doors at 8am if they were customer service oriented or even 9am for regular businesses. Can you explain to me why your counters only open at 12pm? Is most of your staff up so late for whatever reason that they are unable to get to work earlier in the morning? Even so, on several occasions at 11.45pm I am looking at the representatives in the face and they are sitting in front of their terminals, but they refuse to accept my payment, all they say is to come back at 12pm. I want to pay, but you don’t allow me to and then you bar my line. Do you not agree that there is a problem in this that needs to be rectified immediately?

About a month ago I received a call from your customer service asking me to verify my IC number. I asked him why do I need to verify my IC number with you and he informed me that they were just doing that to make sure that all the information is current. Naturally I refused because I do not appreciate being harassed for my personal information. When I asked him for his name and identification he refused to provide those details to me as well, and all he said was ‘Sir, you can see the caller ID is 2211800, that is Digi, I don’t need to give you anything else.’ Do they not know about caller ID spoofing? Even if they do, is that the way to speak to your customer?

In closing, I implore you to look very carefully into these elements that weave the web of your organization. Only yesterday as I was at the counter, a man that was beside me paying his bills too, looking apologetic, he said ‘Sorry, I forgot to pay on long will it take to unbar my line?’ The representative just said, ‘2 hours’. Looking apologetic. It was as if we were in a communist state. I paid my bill and left. No ‘Good afternoon’, ‘Thank you’ or ‘Please come again.’

So let me ask you this, should the customer be afraid of their telecommunications company?

Yours faithfully,

Elby Tan

CC: Terje Borge – Finance
CC: Chan Nam Kiong – Customer & Channels

Letter to my Maintenance Company

To Whom It May Concern:


We are in receipt of your letter dated 6th December 2011 with regards to the overdue amount of RM60.00 from a previous invoice. Please note that this matter is currently being investigated between us and our bank as we have discovered a discrepancy in our accounts with regards to the cheque that has been cleared.

While we understand that this may present a short term inconvenience to your good selves, I believe that we are not withholding your payment on purpose and therefore we do not appreciate being threatened with cutting off our water supply if we do not comply. You may already know that we have been promptly paying the maintenance and other charges promptly even before you took over from KB Property and before that KJ Property.

Please note that under international law you are required to serve advanced notices if you were to cut off the water supply and even so you are required to state that you were unable to recover the bills as they had to be in arrears for a specified number of months in the service and maintenance contract. Please see the UN Economic and Social Council document number E/CN.4/Sub.2/2004/20 dated 14 July 2004 which lists our rights pertaining to water supply and sanitation.

Meanwhile, we will settle the current outstanding bill with the cheque that will be couriered to you shortly. While this may be simply an administrative error, we would appreciate if you would attempt to find a more amicable solution before threatening us for non-compliance in the future.

Yours faithfully,

Elby Tan

Letter to Global Witness

elby tan to Annie Dunnebacke: +44 7912 517 127; , Andrea Pattison: +44 7970 103 083;

Certainly the news of Global Witness leaving the Kimberley Process after it has held an instrumental role in establishing it would raise a few eyebrows. But do you really think that it solves the problem? While you may say that the sad truth is that consumers do not know where their diamonds come from but isn't that where education comes in? I am quite sure that even if governments are not cooperative, consumers have a right to know, and the Kimberley Process is a tool that enables the consumer to understand and question where their products originate from.

While it may be difficult to establish ground rules of who does what when, and making sure that key industry players and governments adhere to it, I believe that like all causes you have to fight for what you believe in. The moment you walk out on a cause you lose your integrity and moral standing. How do you expect to maintain credibility with regards to your other campaigns on oil, minerals and other resources? How does any organization expect to maintain any credibility at all if you have set the precedence that they can walk out of any cause they have fought for at any time they want? Imagine if the World Food Programme suddenly decides one day that what they do is too difficult and leaves the people to fend for themselves. How many lives do you think that would affect?

I am quite certain that when you first started out the objective was to make a difference. While I applaud that feat, I think that all you are making now is a mistake.

Yours truly,
Elby Tan

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Almost vegetarian, not quite

Pan fried fish on a bed of spinach
on a bed of roasted pink potatoes
on a bed of sauteed red and green capsicums
with bacon and fresh white button mushrooms.

It really is as far as being vegetarian I am willing to go.
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Monday, September 26, 2011

The problem with invasion

Check out this brilliant article a talented friend of mine wrote. I really think that people ought to get their heads out of the sand and learn to take the news a little more than a pinch of salt these days. Unfortunately, the reverse seems to be happening. I'm glad that at least a few who walk amongst us got our priorities right. Check out: What do we know about Libya?

Thursday, April 07, 2011

The superbug culture

A couple years ago I came back from Japan and was down with the flu. It must have been a strain that we don't get here because after 2 weeks of antibiotics and whatever rest I could manage without ending up being a vegetable it wouldn't go away. Finally, I decided to check it out at the hospital.

This specialist basically disinfected me with some disinfectant spray, and after that administered something I came to know as Rocephin. Next day, I was good as new - and so after that I never bothered to go to a GP because what I thought was that they don't know what they're doing.

While that may be still true today, what I didn't realize was that administering a high dose of antibiotics to kill off anything that stood in its way can do more damage than good because it meant that the body is unable to fight off the infection by itself, so if the bacteria or virus developed a resistance to it, there would be nothing left for you to take in the event you fell ill again.

These viruses are now known as superbugs, they are resistant to antibiotics and mutate rapidly. Pharmaceutical companies are not keen to develop the antibiotics to counter these superbugs because it isn't profitable for them. A course of antibiotics last you a week or two tops, where else cardiovascular drugs are to be taken long term, which translates to long term profits for these pharmaceutical companies further strengthening my point that large corporations don't really care about you.

As of now, superbugs are killing more people than HIV, and yet there is generally little or no awareness for it. Why is that so? Perhaps because people don't really think its such a big deal. What you think might be 'just the flu' might be something more deadly if left unchecked. If you're like most people, you might wait to 'ride it out' until you find that something is amiss. You have the SARS, bird flu, and the H1N1 that until it kills people do they sit up and take notice, but how do you prevent it from happening? Don't you think its funny how if you wear a mask out to prevent from getting infected, you're not really thinking of how you're doing it for your own sake, but rather how people would look at you and think you're such a weirdo, but if everyone's doing it you'd think that it's ok because everyone is doing it anyway.

General hygiene is number one. Sanitizing your hands often will definitely help, and of course if you're sick, stop sneezing and coughing in public. Stay home and quarantine yourself. The fact that the superbug, thought to have started in India, where its hot, humid and crowded, becomes the perfect petri dish for this bug to mutate. The largest affected cases also happened in China as well, which leads me to think that its not really just the bug that's killing people, its the culture as well.

You can say all you want but if you're like most folks, if you feel ok, you'll continue working. You don't want to seem too paranoid and other people will look at you and think you're being lazy if you took a day off because of a slight flu. But that's the culture, we are too hardworking for our sake, and that could be deadly. The other thing is that Asian cultures tend to shrug things off as just a small matter, until of course it escalates to something bigger, and perhaps by then it spirals out of control.

Until today I still don't understand how some people can continue to say that 'it won't happen to me'. Shouldn't we have had enough time to evolve into a more advanced culture that prevents something from happening rather than figuring out what to do once it hits you?

Friday, March 18, 2011

Disaster in progress

I've been talking about TEOWAWKI for some time now. Perhaps its due to my upbringing with the 'be prepared' mentality from home, or just simple foresight, but normally people shrug it off, and shelf it under 'crazy'. But it is increasingly evident that something is not quite right with the world, and what better example than the quake/tsunami combination in Japan recently?

Countless number of military experts and statisticians have formulated models and scenarios that form the basis of the TEOWAWKI, or The End of the World As We Know It model, from what can possibly happen, the chain of events and how it unfolds to the way we as humans deal with disaster when it strikes. Up to a point that the aftermath of disasters are usually quite predictable, as evident from the quake in New Zealand and now in Japan, first you lose power and running water, both essentials for survival, then the supermarket shelves run dry, and people start hunting for food next. I don't know about you but I know that I consume about 2 gallons of water per day, and you have to understand that your consumption data doesn't change pre or post disaster. Yes you might be able to enforce some level of rationing, but if you have your head in the sand, you wouldn't have any idea of the amount needed to ration, nor would you know how much you have in stock and how long that would last you, and water is just one of the essentials that's needed for survival. You have to think about food, shelter, and fuel among the other things that you would need post-disaster.

Some of you may argue that even if we do keep a stash of food, water and supplies, what happens if you are forced to evacuate or if natural disaster destroys everything? My answer is this, we do what we can to the best of our abilities. We cannot predict and control everything, but whatever is within our power to change, if we have the option and the ability to do it, we should get it done. You see how the products are flying off the shelves of the supermarkets in Japan and you get an idea what its like when you're desperate. The fact is that in a developed country like that, people can still queue up to buy stuff that's really amazing. I reckon in anywhere else, people would have resorted to robbery or looting. You have to take into account that thousands of people are left stranded, homeless and living in the street. Out of desperation and left without a choice, many would resort to violence to be at the top of the food chain.

So what can we do now? Where do I even begin?

Start from the very basics. At least take some time and assemble your 'go-bag', that's what I like to call it. This bag would contain all the essentials needed to survive for maybe 72 hours or more, this would be the bag that you would take if you had to evacuate in an instant, think about what is important to you, and remember that in emergencies you do not have time to go look for your things, the time it took between the quake and the tsunami was only about 25 minutes. Be realistic as well, you shouldn't pack a 50lb go-bag if you haven't done any training to carry a 50lb go-bag. Aside from your valuables, you might want to think about packing a basic survival toolkit. There are some pre-packed kits for you to save you the hassle, but always make sure that it has the stuff you need, and that you know how to use them. For me, I'd pack it with things that I regularly use, and have trained to use them. I'd make sure to have a reliable flashlight, a good solid knife, some high-energy food like candy bars or PowerBars, at least 3 litres of water, preferably in a CamelBak pouch(a go-bag that is hydration-pouch compatible is a must), a reliable multitool like a Leatherman, a basic first-aid kit that includes at least a pack of Quikclot (a clotting sponge to stop bleeding), a change of clothes in a zip-locked bag, spare batteries and some climbing rope. But of course everyone's build different so your mileage may vary.

The idea is of course to not wait until something happens, and react accordingly, but rather take action now so you won't react with a 'deer-in-headlights' look when something actually happens.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Where's the money?

I gotta admit, I'm not a big finance or economics sort of person. I'd fall into the general demographic of people just trying to survive, people like you, the reader, you know what I mean. We go to work, get paid, pay our bills, make sure there's food on the table. That's life, right?

So this movie/documentary is made for people like us. The Academy Award winner for Best Documentary, Inside Job, was made so that we understand a little better what's happening to the global economy, how the financial meltdown happened and who's responsible for it. I may not know much, but I definitely have an instinct when things are not the way it should be, and reaffirms the facts that I've known all along, that large corporations are the real criminals and they have the ability to rewrite laws to work in their favor.

For example, when you put your hard earned money in the bank, shouldn't the bank have a responsibility to keep your money in the bank since they are entrusted to do just that? Not anymore. These days with deregulation, the line between banks and investment banks have blurred, meaning they can take your money and invest in wherever they see fit. I always found that to be a problem because as with all investments and their fine prints, they will always state that it is subject to market conditions and their projections are not indications of actual profit. That's how they protect themselves, but who's to protect you?

So when they make money, they issue billions in bonuses, and what happens when they don't? They still issue billions in bonuses. Thanks to large government bailouts. So that means that they lose billions of dollars in taxpayer's money, are not brought to justice, get bailed out, then issue even more bonuses to themselves.

Don't you think there's a better use for that money that can be used to eradicate hunger or develop new vaccines or something other than to line the big fat pockets of these corporate criminals? Don't even get me started on insurance companies that I think fall into the same category. Think about it, you pay insurance so that in case anything happens you are 'covered'. But what happens if nothing happens? Shouldn't they pay you back? Have you ever tried submitting an insurance claim? Let me tell you this, they will try all means and manners to not pay you back, they'd even bring in religion into it, by classifying something as an Act of God, try telling them you aren't religious and see how that goes. It makes sense, because naturally as a large corporation the goal is to retain as much profit as you possibly can, who really cares about you? The average Joe, working day after day just to survive, hoping for the best.

Sad to say when something does happen, Joe's on his own. They may say that economics is a complicated study that we will never be able to understand. But I think at the end of the day if you understand whats right and wrong, that's something these bankers ought to learn from you instead.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Are we ready for mutant fish?

Did you know that they are in the process of building another rare earth refinery in Kuantan, Pahang? What is rare earth, and should we be concerned? Rare earths are elements such as Neodymium that are used to produce electronics, energy saving light bulbs up to your so called 'green' hybrid cars that uses up to 12 to 15 kilos of that stuff. Should we be concerned when they start doing the refinery process here? Definitely. The refinery process produces tons of radioactive waste that they say will be stored in sealed tanks until they can be carted away - but as I quote NY Times '...carted to where? That is the open question.'

Our last refinery operated by Mitsubishi Chemical in Bukit Merah is still the site of the largest radiation cleanup in the rare earth industry (click the link above). Contaminated material that has seeped 25 feet into the ground is still in the process of being cleaned up even after the factory has been closed since 1992. Radioactive material. Have we not learnt our lesson yet?

Taking a look at the corporation's website, you will notice how they deceptively word their company profile. They talk about sustainable development, and a greener environment, but what it really means is that they can sustain the workforce from the generous profits that they will no doubt reap from the industries surging demand for rare earth, and of course their edge is that their materials create products that are eco-friendly, but at what cost?

They estimate that once the facility is up and running they will be able to meet a third of global demand for rare earth, that has until now been dominated by China. So what are their plans to dispose of the radioactive waste? They will mix it with lime, into concrete blocks called 'tetrapods' to build artificial reefs for fish at sea. That according to them will 'comply with environment, and community standards.' But what does that mean? Environment standards are loosely based because there is no governing body that regulates the disposal of this radioactive waste, until of course something catastrophic happens and other agencies step in, and you talk about community standards? The residents are all but too happy to be receiving fat paychecks and an increased quality of life without thinking too much about the after effects of radiation poisoning at their own backyards - so much for community standards.

In a couple years when you catch something weird on your fishing trip, don't say you haven't been warned.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Two is one, one is none

While some might find my state of readiness bordering on a slight extreme, I'm meeting more and more people who share the same train of thought. The fact of the matter is that we cannot be prepared enough, no matter what we do, all we can hope for is that we did our best and that we didn't have our heads in the sand.

By acknowledging that we are not perfect individuals, and understanding that from the get-go, we will essentially have placed ourselves in the correct mindset for success. Centuries ago, Socrates said that 'The only real wisdom is knowing you know nothing' and that holds true today in a world where everybody thinks they are the best, that they are superior, but where did that mentality come from? Perhaps we were taught to be competitive at an early age. Schools, sports, competitions train us to be better than the other person so that we can excel in life - but at what cost?

We end up becoming uncaring, selfish, and in the end feel as if we are more superior because of our achievements. But if we really are that great, then where is the failure point? You see, by not acknowledging that we have a failure point, we stop testing ourselves, we stop believing that things will go wrong, because we think that we can overcome anything. The truth is, everyone has a failure point, everyone breaks, and realizing that sooner rather than later, might be the most valuable lesson in life.

No matter if we are talking about people or devices, everything has a failure point, its Murphy's law that everything that can go wrong will go wrong at some point. Thus the saying, two is one, one is none. But what does that really mean?

It's a saying that applies mostly to military or law enforcement officers who rely on their duty gear everyday, but it can apply to us as well. Think of something that you need to use everyday that will be carried with you wherever you go, and then think about what will happen if you lose that item. Will your life, or quality of life be severely affected if such a thing were to happen? If so, then carry two of them. For example, if I need to use a pen everyday, I will carry two. I will use one pen, that will be my primary pen, and the other one will be a backup pen. The primary pen will serve me well, but the variables of failure will be if I lose it, gets broken, or I run out of ink, at which point, the backup pen will be there as a supplement. So you see, two is one, and one is none.

While that may seem trivial to us civilians, I find that adopting this mentality helps as we operate at a higher efficiency level. While other people rely on this philosophy to save their lives, we can always see how we can implement it accordingly. Perhaps one day it could prove to be a lifesaver too.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Those poor misguided hippies

You know what bothers me lately? Its with all the hype with going 'green' and with people trying to attach this idea to whatever business or cause they are trying to sell to consumers. The problem lies also with the consumer because we have this tendency to become lemmings and blindly buy into it without really thinking about it.

The pitch is this, by going 'green', we help conserve resources and the environment, we help prevent global warming, we feel good about ourselves, we reduce our carbon footprint and we get to feel more superior than everyone else because we are doing our part so why shouldn't you?

I think that a lot of people don't have a clue what's happening and what they're basically contradicting themselves when they go 'green'. Here's what I think, if you want to start going green, you start changing your very lifestyle. I'm not saying just because you start separating your trash and have a recycling habit you're already there, because basically you aren't, not the very least bit of it. You want to see a real recycling effort? You look start by looking at the less fortunate people who rummage through municipal trash cans each and every day picking up aluminum cans, or the old man who collects cardboard boxes and straps them to his rickety old bicycle - these are the real recycling heroes that do this everyday and not because they are going 'green', its because that's how they survive. You want to help society, you take all your stuff you collect, and you give it to them.

Look at it this way, we tend to ignore things we don't see. We don't see where our garbage goes to after we ditch it out the door, but the reality of our situation is this, that there are all these less fortunate people who rummage through our garbage each and every day simply because they make money selling stuff we ditch back to recycling centres. What we can do is to separate it and clearly label them to save them the trouble, not send them to centres that take that income away from people who need the extra money, or worse if it was their livelihood.

Everyday I meet and read more and more about these misguided hippies who think that they do more by altering their lifestyle. By eating organic, by using recycled goods, by being an environmentalist, but the more they feel they're doing the right thing, the less they are doing to help. Sure, planting a few million trees can offset your carbon footprint, but really, think about where these couple million trees are being planted? Back in the forest reserve! So who's carbon footprint does that really offset because they sure as hell aren't living near the forest reserve. In fact if you really take some time and read up on global carbon dioxide levels, you'll find that science journals that print these graphs that these environmentalists base their entire argument on are usually dishonest and misleading, as most graphs are, because it comes down to how the data is plotted along the axis, plot it differently, and the graph will look like there is a sudden surge in CO2 levels, alarm the masses, and sound the bells for global warming! But look closer and you'll realize that global CO2 levels have only increased 23.7% since 1900, and I can tell you now that's a really long time ago.

Talking about lifestyle choices and carbon footprint, the irregularities start to appear when you look into it. These people hold 'green' events in their homes where they don't even bother to plant trees in, they constantly discourage the use of plastic bags that can be reused for actual garbage(think biodegradable plastics), have a voracious appetite for the property market as investment purposes that fuels the supply and thus encourages more construction work that increases noise, air and sound pollution, renovate their homes with MDF or plantation furniture that does not last(imagine if every year you discard a piece of furniture, the amount of space you would accumulate in the garbage disposal each and every time you do it) versus getting something that will last at least 100years made out of solid timbers, carpooling to work because it is the 'eco' thing to do but then after that doing unnecessary traveling to spas, clubs, shopping malls and other non-essential events that increase their carbon footprints substantially. The list goes on and on.

I don't quite understand the whole 'no plastic bag' idea. Considering most plastic bags now are biodegradable, and there is no real method of disposing the garbage in a sanitary manner. The everyday waste we produce such as chicken bones, and discarded food, need to be contained in a sealed bag for proper disposal. Without containing it in bags you're just letting the bacteria fester and spread out in the open and nobody wants to see that. We have always reused the plastic bags we got from our shopping for this very purpose, to completely eradicate it would be to reintroduce the plague, I think. Unless you have a better idea to contain this waste that does not seep and distribute it all over the place, plastic bags are the way to go.

So what I'm saying is not that what they're doing is wrong or bad, but if you are trying to champion a cause, I think it's best to do a personal review of your own lifestyle before trying to implement it on others. While every little bit helps, it does not mean nuts if you do this one little thing, and offset it by doing 3 other things. Start by planting a tree in your compound if you want, buy a fuel efficient vehicle, and when you're planning your next getaway or even going out shopping when you have nothing to buy, think about how much fossil fuel and emissions that you will be contributing. Think about the less fortunate people who recycle things for a living and give back to the community, not corporations that misuse a fad for profit. Above all, realize that everything you use, everything you do, contributes to global warming, and that everyone's in the same boat together.

So just because you use a canvas reusable bag doesn't suddenly make you the captain of the ship.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Preparing for TEOWAWKI

I recently watched 2 movies that starred almost unheard of actors so I figured it was those B movies that you'd be spending a most of the time with your finger on the Forward button. I was surprised they both turned out to be a pretty good watch.

First one I watched was Skyline, about an alien invasion and the other was Tomorrow When The War Began, which was about a sudden war that took place as a group of teens were out camping in the woods. Both were centered around the same concept of TEOWAWKI, or The End Of the World As We Know It.

Its interesting to watch what people depict of the same concept in their own ways, but you'd be surprised how many people restrict the concept of TEOWAWKI to just being great movie material. Again, we come to the same thinking of 'it will never happen to me.'

What these 2 movies depict is regular people, doing regular things, when suddenly SHTF and suddenly they are thrown off their comfort zone. Its interesting to watch how different people react when they're under stress, and whether you would do the same thing they are doing.

In almost all of these scenarios none of them are fully prepared for it, so they have to get whatever supplies they can get their hands on in order to survive. Survivalists, I found out, are people who are *really* into this. I keep some things in case of emergency that many may find to be excessive or extreme, but these people have a whole breakdown of what you should have on you when SHTF. Its little wonder that because of this fascination I tend to be leaning that way, but check out the link above and you'll see that I am just about 20% complete on my load out.

In this world that we live in, I think it will be foolish to maintain that 'it will not happen to me', because I've known people who are oblivious to their surroundings who are victims of muggings that could have been avoided. I think that's a shame because something could be done about it. You look at the riotings all over the world, most recently in Egypt, that left a city lawless as the authorities cleared out and the looters came in and wrecked havoc. Its just human nature, some are up to mischief, and some to survive. But whatever the case they did so without consequence because they know that they won't be held accountable for their actions. That's why in the event of a breakdown, literally when Shit Hits The Fan, you're off to fend for yourself and your family. Will you do everything you can to survive?

Better get ready and pack accordingly.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Suicidal role models

There's a song that I hate right now, but the fact that it gets so much airplay means that I can't not listen to it. In fact there was once when I switched radio stations and found out that they were playing the same stupid song on both stations. The culprit, Bruno Mars, the song, Grenade.

In this particular nonsense of a song, he says that he would 'catch a grenade for you...jump in front of a train for you...but you won't do the same.'

Who in their right state of mind would do the same? So I figure he is mentally retarded. He can sing, yes, but he's a retard. Lets break it down, in what situation would you even consider catching a grenade? That is tactically incorrect on so many levels. If he was with his partner at that time of the grenade incident and a grenade was thrown at him, it makes more sense to throw it back as taught by many movies, or run for cover. Grenades have a 5m fatality radius and a 15m casualty radius, so even if he caught the grenade and she was in fact with him at that time, they both would've died from excessive bleeding from the shrapnel.

And whats with the jumping in front of a train anyway, what does that prove? What does that accomplish? Does this retard even realize the kind of repercussions jumping in front of a train would have? The entire line has to be stopped, stranded commuters, the trauma of seeing this suicidal retard smashed by an incoming train, the costs involved with the clean up and repairs to the line, the falling stock of the transportation company, increased security afterwards to prevent recurrence, increased cost, etc etc. Clearly he has intentions to inconvenience everyone around him.

On a more serious note, what I am more concerned is the fact that because it has become a hit single that gets repeated plays on the airwaves, that means that people will continue to listen, he will continue to generate fans, and young, impressionable people will look up to him as a role model. Do you really think that a suicidal role model is something we should let loose in the community? What happens when you get lovesick kids jumping in front of trains or killing themselves to prove their love?

You may say that even without this song they might do it anyway, or that this song is a metaphor and wasn't meant to be taken literally. But I am talking about the percentage of people who take it literally, who are already suffering from depression or rejection, wouldn't this be a catalyst that pushes them over the edge? Thats not even taking into account the increasing suicide rates among teens who cannot cope with peer and other social pressures. I think everything must be done to preserve life, not to encourage the opposite.

To those of you celebrating tomorrow, Happy valentine's day. Try not to kill yourself while you're at it.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

To catch a thief

It felt like he'd just done it moments ago, but he flicked his wrist and took another hard look at his watch again. The Seiko that had been infinitely reliable all these years just reconfirmed what he already knew, that time didn't move that much faster the more he checked on it. In fact, it seemed as though it moved a lot slower.

'Time to get a new watch', he muttered under his breath.

The foam-lined interior of the car was silent. The radio was off, and the only sounds were coming from the vehicles beside him. It gave him a moment of peace as he planned his next move. It wouldn't be easy, nothing ever is, but his training taught him to visualize, strategize, and implement the tactics he already knew and rigorously trained for.

Somebody was about to have the worst day of their life, they just didn't know it yet.

The iPad was mounted on the center console of the vehicle, and the blinking dot provided information in real time. He had been tracking it for almost 2 hours now, looking at the dot move progressively from one point to another, trying to gauge a pattern of some sort. By now he was closing in on it, but it stopped moving. That can be either a good thing, or a really bad one.

The air smelled like the sea breeze mixed with the stench of rotting lumber, as the sun began to set some distance away. The gravel under his boots made a crunching noise every time he took a step, but was drowned out somewhat by the sound of the waves at sea. It was somewhat isolated, with the occasional hired laborer loading supplies into the little motorized boats that ferries to and from the nearby islands.

By now he had already closed in on the target, some 50 metres away, but he wasn't quite sure which as he saw two men, in their youths huddled over with their backs towards him. He placed his iPad back into his backpack, zipped it up and unholstered his Surefire Defender flashlight in one smooth motion, thumb on the tailcap switch as he inched slowly towards them, utilizing every available cover he could as he progressed forward.

The youths hadn't noticed him yet, seemingly engrossed in their own world. He decided that he needed some form of confirmation as he took out his phone and hit the redial button.

This time the phone rang, and that was all he needed to know.

'Hey fellas', his voice a gruff monotone from the lack of sleep and general displeasure at the entire event. That startled the youths as they jumped in alarm. 'Put the phone down, and everybody goes home. Walk away now'. They were just kids, he thought to himself. Barely in their 20s, a look of mischief suddenly crept across their faces as they retorted, 'Or what, Grandpa, you're going to arrest us?' One of them fumbled in their pockets and pulled out a switchblade as he casually walked towards him, the tip of the knife pointed at him the whole time.

By now they were less than 3 feet away, one was armed, the other still had his phone in his hand, unaware, unbothered by the drama unfolding. He looked straight into the eyes of the knife wielder, there was nothing there. No remorse, nor regret - at least not yet, he thought to himself. It felt like a good half hour has passed but it had only been 5 seconds.

'What do you think you can do now, Grandpa?' he said, trying to be more forceful since he hadn't received a response.

'I can't arrest you, I'm not the police'. In that split second he brought up his flashlight as a brilliant white beam flashed into the perpetrator, his other hand grabbing the wrist that held the knife, and swung the flashlight with the crenelated bezel into his throat. The sharp pain forced him to release the knife as he finished him off with an elbow to the side of his head as he watched him fall to the ground, grimacing in pain.

As he turned to look at the other youth, he saw fear. 'Look, just take it back, alright?' as he handed the phone over. He took it from him and placed it in his back pocket, but not letting the perpetrator's hand go. 'You like to steal other people's stuff, don't you now?' he grabbed his thumb and twisted it in an awkward position that his entire arm was now behind his back. 'Look, you got what you came here for, leave me alone!' he pleaded.

'Next time you try this shit again, I will hunt you down, you understand? Wherever you are, I will find you, I will break your legs, you will never see daylight again, do you understand?'

At that point he could hear the sound of snapping tendons, like a raw piece of chicken when you've twisted it past it's natural axis of motion. That was met with an uncomfortable, and if he didn't notice wrongly, a somewhat girly scream. 'I guess that means yes', he said in a calm and almost composed tone, as he thought about chuckling although that didn't seem right.

By now the night traffic had already cleared and it was a nice quiet drive home. He peered over at the passenger seat. iPad and iPhone, together again.

*Find iPhone is now available at the AppStore for the iPad
*Fictional story, attempt at your own risk.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

What you never knew you needed

Much like most things that plague recovering early adopters, the next phenomenal gadget is usually met with ridicule, as we try to list out reasons why it's stupid and we don't need it.

The first thing that crossed my mind when I heard about Apple's iPad was, 'What an unfortunate name to call your product, I hope it doesn't stick'. The problem however, was it did. Pretty soon apps started flooding into the already popular AppStore for the iPad, and people who aren't in the target market started asking questions about it, started *wanting* it. That's how you know how powerful their marketing campaign is, as Steve Jobs says, 'Its not the consumer's job to know what they want'. What you get is a stellar product, and record sales, unfortunate naming notwithstanding.

After holding off for the longest time, I caved when the Apple Store had a one day sale, and that was the beginning of my iPad experience. Ever since then, I really wondered how I had lived without it.

My day starts with the newspaper, only this time its in the form of the International Herald Tribune, delivered and updated in real time. Concise when it needs to be and lengthy when I have the time to spare, I don't remember the last time I picked up a physical newspaper but vaguely recall the last time I did there was nothing newsworthy except for the ads. A quick check on the CNBC app gets me updated on what I need to know for the day, and after that its off to work.

Documents to Go is great for taking my Word and Excel files with me, almost indispensable really. The iPad shines in that aspect, which is being on the go. Emailing, browsing, shopping, Facebook, music, catching up on Hawaii Five-O, you get the point...I have the distinct ability now to remain entertained wherever I am, in any environment, with a full charge of course. Even on 50% I managed to pull through a good half day with some fairly heavy use.

Not bad for something I didn't think I need, and now it isn't going to leave my sight.

Finally back on track

How quickly a year goes by, like a really long blink of an eye everything's changed. Life is different, it smells different, it looks different and you have to decide if you want to embrace that inevitable change.

This blogger interface was taken down after they stopped the FTP publishing services which was the main, and only way I published my stuff for so many years. After that I just didn't bother to use it because I a)Couldn't care less for a address and b)Thought if something works why change it.

Anyway, with a little time since its the Chinese new year lull, I thought I'd check it out and see how the Migration procedure worked. Wasn't as complicated as I thought but however I must note that none of the newer posts will actually be on my website, it will be hosted on Google instead, just like almost everything else that belongs to me will eventually belong to them.

Ah yes, and in the midst of my disappearance I actually signed up for Twitter. Never say never, I guess, but it really re-establishes my point that Twitter was never set up for people who write, or have anything to write about. It is as if someone just decided to create a technology to have everyone's mumbles under their breath or every little thought that they are thinking to be on record for the rest of their life, for all to see.

I suppose it all comes down to our instinctive need for reaching out, to be heard and to be acknowledged. Everyone wants to be recognized, so people tend to find ways to evoke a response, they try to say something smart, something provocative to try to get people to sit up and listen. Time consuming? Probably. Pretentious? Definitely.

This was never meant to be that kind of blog, its just a space for me to observe, to write, to vent. Statistics don't matter to me, what matters is I come back in a few years and read all my old stuff and think to myself, that's pretty good right there.