Category Archives: Opinion

Close encounters of the ‘contractor’ kind….

I’m breathing a sigh of relief right now…… some minor renovation works that are being done in the house are nearing completion & YAY …. no untoward incidence of the contractor running out in the middle of the job ….. no ‘collateral damage’ to existing furniture and fittings in the house … & am just so grateful that it’s a pretty good job done ….

Well, just to share a amusing ‘facts’  experience has taught when encountering contractors ….

1. “I do everything”. Famous quote by contractors who claim they can do everything from wetworks to kitchen cabinets …  Well, technically, it means they know how to outsource everything … So truly, if you want something nice done, you might want to source some services on your own, especially if it involves fittings like your wardrobe or even the kitchen cabinets. If not, always insist on material samples or pictures of works done, to make sure you get what you want.

2. “We don’t use Indon workers“.  Don’t be tricked into thinking you’re getting Chinese sifu’s instead  …  they actually utilise Bangladeshi labourers. Cheaper and more ‘obedient’, so they claim….. (I personally prefer them to Indons too, Bangladeshi’s are very polite and mild mannered) … Whatever it is, for the final touches, make sure that the works are fine tuned by the Chinese sifu’s especially when walls need to be plastered or window frames need to be done….. If not, you might have to live with a crooked wall or a crooked window frame…. seriously.    

3. Don’t choose the guy with lowest quote. The quality of materials given might be compromised. Even the cement used has different grades. Don’t be surprised if they use cheap mortar & your tiles come loose in a year or so ….. 

4. Beware of fly by night contractors without a proper registered company. These guys are just out to make a quick buck, cashing in on the band wagon. They promise the sky, they are quick to ‘demand’ for a ‘deposit’  but slow to pay their outsourced labour. At the end of the day, you will end up paying the price as there could be a huge delay on works to be done …… and worse still, if these guys run out on the job half way through.

 5. Digressing a little here, don’t trust colour charts issued by the paint manufacturers. There are so many variables that will affect the colour …. sunlight, yellow light, white light etc etc. A case in point is the ‘fog grey’ weather shield which we chose for our balcony floor. It looked dark in the chart but ended up so light when painted. It turns out it that area is under the direct glare of the sunlight hence the lighter shade ….  Tip: If you’re painting & you’re not too sure of the colour, buy a small tin of it just to make sure you like the colour.

6. Never take your contractor’s word for it.  Do your own research.  Most of the times they will tell you ‘this’ cannot be done, ‘that’ cannot be done just because it’s too much hassle. Know your rights. Insist. If they know you won’t back down, they will try to do things your way. 

7. Expect delays. …. I think it’s safe to extend the time frame set by the contractor for works done by another 20 to 30% (if you’re lucky) … Trust me there will be delays here and there … The reason being… we cannot predict the weather, we cannot predict whether suppliers of certain fittings etc will come on time, we also cannot predict the additional works that need to be done if ‘collateral damage’ happens i.e. pipes drilled into accidentally, damage to floors etc, etc.  In addition to that, the contractor might also be juggling two or three jobs. Let me share a story with you how long the delay can be …. A friend bought an old double storey house in Taman Tun. When he started renovations, the neighbour’s wife had just given birth. By the time the renovations were done, the baby had already started walking. Imagine that!  

Well…that’s just a few things that come to mind….. & oh yeah…. you wouldn’t believe the wonders a can of COKE does for you …. always keep some handy to offer to workers who come to your house. They really appreciate it & instead of slacking off… they even point out mistakes made by others to you so that you can get it rectified …. Speaking from experience…..

Happy Renovating all!

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The definitive 2010 …

The New Year is round the corner….. Fat Dragon & I are still working off the excesses of last X’mas weekend ~ with food holding on to the lead role … OMG, the food ‘cast’ was endless, we had turkey, siew yok, 2 different pastas, roast chickens, assam fish, butter cakes, fish fillets stuffed with mushrooms, Bonafie pies, strawberry tarts, pigs in blankets, bruscettas  …….. washed down with some toddy (yes, fermented coconut juice), wines, coffees & teas. Needless to say they have all made handsome contributions to our waistlines. My sincerest thanks to organisers of this year’s lunch and dinner organisers for pampering us with yummy food & lavish gifts ….

Ironically whilst we were having a hullabaloo time … the 26th of Dec marked the 5th anniversary of the Tsunami …. Excess vs deprivation … Celebration vs. Mourning .. A sobering thought indeed.

…. and in the midst of this glorious food fiesta, YP came up brilliant suggestion!  She felt that on X’mas days some time in the future, we should actually go to  a home for the elderly or even an orphanage with gifts & goodies as a ‘pay it forward’ gesture. Why not?  Why don’t we share our excesses with the underprivileged. We could always wine and dine, after … in celebration. Not too much to ask really. 

Could 2010 be the start to a definitive new year, one filled with giving, instead of overindulging & stuffing ourselves? Hmmm… food for thought ~ pun intended.  

I salute YP for coming up with this suggestion. It’s a shame none of us thought about it earlier. Thanks YP …. !

p.s. Have a great 2010 everyone!

Of feather pillows & gossip ……

feather

Well, I think it’s fair to say, gossip is a favorite pastime with a lot of people. Gossip, unfortunately, has always and will always be an integral part of the social structure. Needless to say, we have all been victims or worse still carriers of gossip at least once in our lives…. I don’t believe that anyone can say NO to this. If you do, then I guess you’re a SAINT!

So, back to the question, what does GOSSIP & A FEATHER PILLOW have in common?

Story time.

A parishioner went up to the priest to unload his guilt about the act of gossiping ~ so what harm was done exactly, he asks … So the priest asked the parishioner to go back home … take a feather pillow & a knife with him up onto the roof of a high building.. Give it a slash and see what happens…

So, the parishioner did as he was told … he took a pillow & a knife … went up onto the roof & slashed it with all his might… Lo & behold… there were feathers & more feathers flying all over …. The parishioner then returned to the priest to report the act done. The priest proceeded to ask the parishioner to go back up & the roof … to RETRIEVE each and every feather that escaped from the pillow …

Well, that sums it up beautifully doesn’t it… Each and every word, no matter how juicy (whether with malicious intent, or not) that escapes from our mouths … can never be retrieved fully …  So, the harm & the hurt is done. There no turning back. Food for thought.

Believe it or not, I got this story from the movie DOUBT featuring Meryl Streep & Philip Seymour Hoffman ….. Philip plays Father Brendan Flynn who is a victim of Meryl’s character Sister Aloysius Beauvier prejudice. She goes on a personal vendetta to flush out his so called sins..purely based on her suspicions and nothing else… In an act to voice out his displeasure, Father Brendan gave a sermon on GOSSIP by telling the above story …. Stellar movie…stellar performances. I loved it…

 

The significance of Dec 1 …

aids-ribbonIt is World Aids Day …. 

And I’m happy to report Bolehland’s efforts in promoting awareness amongst the people …

Well, the word “CONDOM” is banned on air. For the adult audience, I’m sure the move is purely designed to remove a certain stirring in the loins that the word might elicit. That’s a big NO NO of course. For the PG rating audience, they should not be exposed to such a word as it might give them ideas about having sex too early.

Such is Bolehland’s ingenuity, such is Bolehland’s sincerity in promoting awareness.

Fact is, people with HIV/AIDS are still affected by the stigma attached to the disease. This is prevalent in workplaces, schools and even amongst healthcare workers. It was reported in the NST today that some private hospitals have refused to accept expentant mothers who have AIDS and there were incidences where doctors refused to do the surgery. Well, that’s because people are unsure how to deal with HIV/AIDS patients. There is a lack of AWARENESS!!!!!

Prof Dr. Adeeba Kamarulzaman, the president of the Malaysian AIDS Council and Chairman of the Malaysian AIDS foundation has said “We are not able to give out proper information about AIDS and how people get infected ….”

Well, are you surprised ….. you’re not allowed to use the word “C _ _ D _ _ ” remember?

STOP AIDS. Keep the promise.

 

Hmmm … there’s a checklist for midlife crisis symptoms?

I read with amusement that day when a local newspaper did an editorial on the human behavior of people suffering from mid life crisis. 

Now, this social phenomena can impact homo sapiens from 40  up to 60 years of age. Hmm…. wouldn’t that mean the Roaring Fortiers fall into the early stages of this band ….. YIKES!

From what I gather, you can actually formulate a checklist of sorts for symptoms of this ‘it-which-cannot-be-named’ mental ailment ……… Now, if you’re between 40 – 60 years old & you answer YES to one or more of the questions below, …. it signals the onset of … umm…, for lack of a better word, the ‘crisis’ …..   Don’t cheat ok? 🙂

check-list-for-mid-life-crisis-white1

Hmm, its a YES for me on the brushing & flossing (that’s 1), checking for white hair (2)taking supplements (3), umm …..  & the bungee jump thing (4) did come across my mind but my back disagrees …  Wow, 4/6 (two thirds majority, in election jargon) ……  Does that mean I ‘pass’ with flying colours? … Oops – That’s not exactly good, is it?! 

You might agree or disagree with the list – but … I’m seriously wondering, how did you fare??? Don’t be shy, tell me – TELL ME!!! Ahahahaha ….. let me be the first to start the ball rolling, I, moi, …… am supposed to be suffering a MID LIFE CRISIS!

WOO HOO!!!!!!! Bring on the bungee jumps!!!!!!!!!

The American Dream lives on…

barack1I am a cynic where politics is concerned but I take my hats off to America.

Clichéd though it may sound, they have proven to the world that the American Dream does exist.  Let’s take a look at Barack Obama. He’s  a 47 year old Illinois Senator with  only 4 years experience. He was born in Hawaii. He  lived in Indonesia during his early adolescent years ..  AND he has Hussein for a middle name. And guess what  ….. he will be the 44th US President come January 20, 2009. The first black president in the history of the U.S.A.

He will be the most powerful man, in one of the most powerful nations in the world, for the next four years…at least.  

There’s no denying that  bigotry and prejudice exists in this vast continent. It exists everywhere for God’s sake. But it appears quite a few Americans managed to look past the colour of his skin and his middle name and voted for change.  It was not about the individual. It was about the cause.

349 electoral votes vs. 162. A clear endorsement. 

Some say that the Republicans got voted out as a result of the economic crisis. Brushing critics aside,  the majority of Americans scored high in the department of racial acceptance.  It was only 45 years ago, that the height of the civil rights movement brought on by Martin Luther King came into play. Those were times when segregationist policies in the South were still being practised. And yet today, … America has voted for a black President. A black president in white America. A historic moment indeed.

The NST reported yesterday that Obama once said at the 2004 Democratic National Convention: “As I stand here today, grateful for the diversity of my heritage, aware that my parents’ dreams live on in my two precious daughters. I stand here knowing that my story is part of the larger American story, that I owe a debt to all those who came before me, and that in no other country on Earth is my story even possible.” …  “Only in America.”

I couldn’t agree more. Only in America.

Will there ever be a similar story told in Bolehland … the land that I live on …, I wonder? Only if you believe in miracles, I suppose.

 

Watch out! It’s LOOKISM folks……

Wow, I think a lot of us are still a bit stunned at the shocking revelation by the ceremony’s music director Chen Qigang about the little girl who was just not pretty enough to show up to sing live at the Beijing Olympics Opening ceremony.

The little song bird Yang Pei Yi, who was slated to be a rising star, has buck teeth and a chubby face.

When interviewed by the Beijing People’s Broadcasting Station, music chief Chen said that leaders from various government agencies came to watch the opening ceremony rehearsals in the Bird’s Nest and “…a leader from the Politburo, who gave us his opinion, (said) this has to change”.

So the cuter pig tailed Lin Miaoke came into the picture. She was apparently “flawless in image, internal feelings, and expression”.  Oh, but can she sing? Not good enough obviously. Solution, get Lin Miaoke to lip sync the recording of patriotic song Ode to the Motherland  sung by Yang Pei Yi as China’s national flag was carried into the stadium, a key moment in the three hour ceremony.

In the end ….  What we heard, was the perfect voice of Yang. What we saw, was the perfect face of Lin. Problem solved. 

My two sen worth. There’s a word in the English Language for discrimination or prejudice based on appearance. It’s not widely used but can be found in major English Language dictionaries. The word is  LOOKISM.  The word may be uncommon but sadly, this form of discrimination is NOT so uncommon. Let’s see how lookism is practised as defined by Wikipedia:

  • “Researchers have found that good looking students get higher grades from their teachers than students with an ordinary appearance.
  • … attractive patients receive more personalized care from their doctors.
  • Studies have even shown that handsome criminals receive lighter sentences than less attractive convicts.
  • How much money a person earns may also be influenced by physical beauty. One study found that people low in physical attractiveness earn 5 to 10 percent less than ordinary looking people, who in turn earn 3 to 8 percent less than those who are considered good looking.”

What is beauty? Some people say beauty is all about symmetry. Some say it is youth. The media also strongly promotes beauty as being light on the scales. The whitening cream people will tell you its a fair & white complexion. The list is endless. What happened to – Inner beauty. Grace. Personality. Intelligence. Elegance. Charm. Oh well, you might as well throw it out of the window I guess. Useless, they say. Not so useless, I say.

Universal though lookism may be, the perception of beauty is however a harder subject to tackle. Just how do we discriminate between a beauty and a non beauty. It is not an exact science I’m afraid. It isn’t just about the pursuit of the perfect symmetry or looks. I’m sure if you throw a Twiggy like figure (when she was young) in front of Michelangelo he’d flip in his grave. After all, he is responsible for producing the sculpture of David which is a famous work on symmetry.  If stout figures were desirable during the Victorian Ages, its obviously history. Today, the complete opposite look is desirable. Stick thin figures rule bringing on the onset of eating disorders like bulimia & anorexia.  But then again, our perception of beauty is very much influenced by the media and the entertainment industry. So kudos to brandnames like Dove who have promoted advertisements featuring plus size women and ordinary day to day women.

Beauty is also culturally sensitive. A Polynesian man would view a woman with an ample figure of voluptuous proportions as beautiful, but in other cultures this very same woman could be labled ‘obese’. Or if you throw a bride in front of a tribal man in the Lao Cao region (in Vietnam) with a row of straight, WHITE teeth, he’d say – she’s not beautiful enough. Bring the charcoal – her front teeth need to be blackened. Beauty lies in the eye of the beholder indeed!

I’d like to end this blog with a tribute to Little Yang Peiyi, you might not be considered pretty enough to be shown in the Olympics ceremony but hey, you’re beautiful enough in our eyes. You have a beautiful voice and you are beautiful in your own way, buck teeth and all.  Beauty is skin deep but inner beauty lasts forever.

P.S. Here’s a little glossary for those who are not too familiar with 2 expressions with the word beauty in it:

  • Beauty lies/is in the eye of the beholderLiteral meaning. It means that beauty is very much an individual opinion. Different people might have different perceptions of beauty.
  • Beauty is skin deep. – It alludes to the fact that physical beauty is superficial. Outward appearance is not as important as inner beauty.