Sep 17, 2012

WoW! : Motherhood

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(This is a story of a friend of mine which I feel I should share with you all)

These days, women find it harder and harder to conceive, especially working women. Perhaps it is due to the pressure and the rat race of modern day life, or perhaps it could be due to the changes in the food that we eat.

This story is about a woman's determination to become a mother. After all, this is what drives humanity on - the urge to procreate. Let's call this woman B.

A couple of years after getting married, B found out that she had ovarian cyst. It was not something overly serious and could be healed by taking medication, no surgery was required.

Nevertheless, she was concerned about her chances to conceive, and regularly visited her gynaecologist to ensure that all is well with her recovery. After three months of medication, the gynae advised that the cyst have cleared and there should not be a problem for her to have a baby.

And after a suitable period of taking medication to strengthen her body from the effects of the cyst, she tried having a baby - of course with the help of her husband! They tried hard and as often as they could - but even after two years B was still not pregnant.

So, it was back to the gynae for more check-ups. The diagnosis  was discouraging, B has a condition known as hyper-acidity, her husband's little soldiers would have no chance of reaching their target.  More medication needed to be taken to reduce the acidity to level suitable for conceiving. B was disheartened but was still very determined; and tried all the medication prescribed. But it was to no avail! She still could not get a baby.

Having tried Western medication without results, she turned to traditional and also not so traditional Oriental methods. She was desperate. Very desperate!

She went to a Chinese Medium who through his mediumish ways diagnosed that her womb was "cold". He then had her stand at one corner,  while he stood about three feet away and started projecting warm "chi"  through his out-turned palms towards her. NO SUCCESS!

Another medium chanted prays for her and wrote Chinese "fish" characters on a holy paper for her to burn. The ashes she put in water and drank. ALSO NO SUCCESS!

Finally she went to a Chinese sinseh (a Chinese doctor trained in traditional Chinese medicine). The husband was a bit concerned as this sinseh operated from the back-portion of a Chinese Medicine Shop. A long queue of "patients" would line up at the back lane of this shop-house, waiting for their turn.

The sinseh was a scrawny old man - half sitting & half squatting on a low stool put on top of a long wooden bench (this is a very archaic way of Chinese sitting) he would just feel the pulse of his patients and be able to tell what was wrong and also what to prescribe.

When it came to B's turn she put out her hand in quiet respect, while her husband stood by with a disbelieving frown. The old man must be quite used to this situation and just nonchalantly proceeded to feel B's pulse and wrote a quick prescription.

With the prescription, B went to the front medicine shop. The shop assistant looked at the prescription, laid out three sheets of paper on the counter, opened a few drawers on a wall cabinet behind him and started to pile up the ingredients of the prescription onto the paper sheets. Three sheets of paper for three helpings and when all was completed, three bundles of medication were handed to B. She paid and went home.

When she got back home and opened the bundles, the husband stared with mouth agape! In each bundle were herbs of all kinds, ginsengs, some bark, fungus, roots, etc. Worse, there were even dried cockroaches and lizard's skin. Every three days, B was to boil each packet in a clay medicinal pot and drink the concoction. Who in their right mind would drink such an un-appetizing if not nauseating potion.
A woman determined to be a mother would!

And that concoction worked! A month later B was pregnant with her first child.

Unfortunately, she had a miscarriage. At the hospital bed she cried and cried into her pillow.
A kindly nurse consoled her, saying that since she already got pregnant once, her body chemistry has now changed and she should be able to get pregnant again.

She DID get pregnant again later without having to go through the whole difficult process.

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Jul 16, 2012

Twisty Tales : Buying My 2nd Folding Bike

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Buying My 2nd Folding Bike


I have recently taken up biking, riding bicycles as a leisure sports and not competitive biking. This, after a close friend Sin encouraged me to buy a foldie, i.e. folding bikes. Foldies can be, well, folded up and put into the car boot. Drive somewhere and assemble the bike within a minute or two - and off we go riding.

Sin seems to have taken his bike to many places, riding with one foldie group or another to small towns, parks, long-trails, etc. Reading his blogs hApPy HaPpY, encouraged me further. After all I need the exercise too.

Initially, I bought a basic foldie. One with bare minimum gear-speeds and not to expensive; as I wasn't sure whether my foray into biking would last. Whether it would just mushroom up and fade away all too soon. I started riding on my own, then joined Sin for some group rides getting to make new friends. We soon formed our own smaller group of 6. And I was really enjoying biking.

Just after 2weeks from my first purchase and I was bitten by the biking bug!

But some of the rides were tough, going up steep roads, and my basic 7-speed foldie just wasn't built for it. At some of the steeper and longer slopes I just couldn't make it to the top, humbly dismounting & pushing my bike up.

So what should I do? Up-grade! My biking buddies advised me. Upgrade!

Off I went around town with my son Nitaro, looking for better bikes - lighter and with more gear speeds. Surprisingly, there were so many shops around; and so many choices available. And I learnt a fair bit during my shopping stint. Frames as light as possible (from steel frames to aluminium alloy to reinforced carbon ones). Number of gears is also important with light gear ratio to go up the steep slopes, and heavy ones for speeding along the flats. Prices ranged from 2 times to 10 times my basic foldie.

I saw a few models, good bikes at just the right price, but I wasn't sure. So I went back to Johnny, the guy I bought my first bike from as he was a helpful fellow and should be able to give me good technical advice. He was just about closing his shop. I showed him the pictures I took of the bikes I viewed.

While he was advising me, out of the corner of my eye I say a midnight black foldie with lime green stripes - an 18-speeder. It was love at first sight and I just have to get that bike. As his shop was closed for the weekend, I told Johnny that I will be back the following Monday to purchase the bike.

All through the weekend, I was dreaming of my new love. On Monday, just after work I picked up Nitaro & drove anxiously to Johnny's.

Woe and behold! The bike was gone, my love was not there anymore. "What happened?" I asked Johnny. He sheepishly answered that there was something wrong with the bike, etc. etc. etc. I strongly suspected that another purchaser must have bought the bike in the morning! When will the next shipment come, I inquired. Johnny sadly replied, "Perhaps in another month's time." ONE MONTH!

Nitaro had to rush back to meet some friends, and I grudgingly left Johnny's, grumbling all the way back home. Reaching home, I was surprised to see my wife back home early. The look on my face told of my disappointment.

I was ready to flop into bed and sleep off my sorrows, when I heard Nitaro shouting, " Hey Dad! something is wrong with the guest bedroom. I rushed over and.... 
Lo and Behold! There was that bike standing mysteriously at the corner of the room.

You see - my wife was the other purchaser!

She, Nitaro & Johnny had conspired to give me a good surprise! My first love had bought me my second love! Mwaaah!
They are two stories behind buying my second foldable bike, this is the hilarious one. For the serious, technical one read - Buying My 2nd Foldie

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Jul 10, 2012

WoW! : No.5 Uncle 65th Birthday

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Nice Birthday Cake
My 5th Uncle came back to Penang to hold a nice birthday celebration with relatives and friends. It was a reunion of sorts, one that was eagerly awaited by many of us. My 5th Uncle is the youngest in his family, and because of that he is closer in age to many of his older nephews & nieces - sharing the same views and experiences. To the younger ones, he is also a fun uncle.

The dinner was held at May Garden Palace Restaurant at upper Penang Road. This is a simple, cozy place with delicious food.
When I was informed by Nico that he is helping Uncle 5 to organize a birthday do, I was telling myself that this is one that I should not miss and quickly re-arranged my schedule accordingly.

The Elders
I believe Uncle 5 held this dinner to remind us, the younger ones, about the importance of family and how lucky we are to be part of such a big and diverse one.
Most of the elders, few they may be, came to join in the celebration. Many others came from all over; with Uncle 5 and his better half, Adrienne comng over from New Zealand. The Lau's elders came up from Kuala Lumpur.  

The Chang's & Ooi's from Taiping & Butterworh

The Tan's from Penang

New grand-father August (with daughter Celeste) came from Ipoh, & the Chang's

Tor Pooi, Uncle 5's best friend, came with his wife Belinda. They sat with some of the Tan's from Penang.

And then there were the girls - in-law, nieces,  grand-daughters & grand-nieces.

The young guys, who were trying to act like old guys.

And the old guys who were trying to dress like young guys.

Cute, adorable nieces.

 Uncle 5's daughter brought her whole family from New Zealand too.

Kiriana was a warm host, seen here posing with Uncle 3's daughter & grand-daughter

Having not seen each other for a long time, there were hugs aplenty.

Cousin Nico, the organizer, was also a lively emcee - cracking jokes and making everybody happy with his laughter.

He made sure that the elders felt welcome with his warmth. Seen here with Uncle 1.

And his hugs - here with Auntie-in-law 5.

And smiles - here with Auntie 4.

And more hugs with Auntie 5

And even more hugs with Auntie 8.

More smiles with Uncle-out-law.....Oops! I mean Uncle-in-law 8.

Uncle 5 also kept us in laughter with his wit. There were many jokes especially about Uncle 5 famous saying - "Seh Moh Au Booi?" (In English - "Grow hair yet?"). You see, Uncle 5 during his younger days likes to take his nephews to go swimming or just for a short drive. Many of us were eager to follow him as he was a fun uncle. The younger ones who wanted to follow were simply asked "Seh Moh Au Booi?" No hair means no go!

But all too soon, the cake was brought out.

And the candles lighted up.

And Uncle 5 then blew out the candles. When asked what he wished for, I could hear him whisper "My wish has already been granted."

He gave a short speech on the importance of family closeness, love and forgiveness. We all sang "Happy Birthday" and "For he's a jolly good fella" And then he cut the cake to our cheers of "Hip Hip Hooray!"

The dinner ended, but the reunion didn't. Most of us stayed back and traded stories of the past and caught up on the present.

Thank you Uncle 5, it was a wonderful reunion. And Oh... the food was good too.

P.S.  - Sorry. No photos of the food. Too busy taking photos of relative and chatting with them.

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Jul 5, 2012

WoW! : My Bike - Buying The Accessories Rnd.1

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My bike - Out of the Bag.
With biking, one have to start buying accesories. Some for safety (like gloves, rear light), Others for convenience, i.e. bell, carrying case. And yet others, like stickers, to personalize and add a bit of vanity.

1. Carry-on Bag
My bike - Folded up and in the Carry-on Bag
I got this Dahon carry-on bag as I forsee, taking the bike onto buses or trains and going somewhere further away to enjoy biking in a different scenery. Fairly easy to use, this bag has a stringed opening at the bottom that can open up fairly large. Slip it over the folded bike, then lay the bike on it's side (i.e. the side away from the gears) and pull the string tight. There's is a small zipped pocket there to keep the long string after tightening. At the top is a zipped opening where one can reach into the bag and tie two straps (these are attached to the bag) to secure the bike properly. A large and wide adjustable belt on top allows easy carrying. Cost RM129/= from Roda Link in Sri Hartamas.

2. Carry-on Bag Pouch
Pouch for Carry-on Bag
The carry-on bag comes with a pouch for keeping it when not in use. Inside the pouch is a PVC attached smaller bag that pulls tight after storing the carry-on bag, keeping all water-proofed. The pouch can be easily attache to the bike's seat shaft and seat. When not storing the bag, it doubles up as a convenient carry all pouch. Cost FREE, comes with the carry-on bag.

3. Rear Lights
This is a must-have safety feature. The one I got from My Bicycle Shop was a Cateye Blitz Light. It is a 5-bulb LED type which runs on two AA batteries and can be set to Manual or Auto. In Auto setting, it will light up when dark AND only when moving (this is achieved by light & motion sensors inside). The lights continue blinking for 50 seconds after the bike stop moving. The LED lights themselves have several modes, single LED fixed light, 3-LED blink or 5-LED strobe. Batteries last 200hrs on full 5-light mode and 400hrs on economy mode. Buttons to set Auto and Light Mode are at the back. Cost RM70/=.

4. Biking Gloves

This is an important safety equipment, not so much for protection against accidents but more for better grip & avoiding blisters. I got this pair of nice blue Louis Garneau Mondo (half-finger) gloves from My Bicycle Shop for RM60/=. It comes with Velcro lock.

6. Ringing Bell
This is a convenience and safety equipment - lets people know you are behind them. The one I got a Cat Eye bell from My Bicycle Shop. It has a sharp and clear ringing tone.

Just less than a week after getting the bike, I was getting more accessories, most of them much needed. Will ride on and get more feel of biking and probably join some biking groups, see what accessories they have and consider whether I'll need those.

My advise to new bikers like me is not to rush into getting the accessories. Get the basics first, those that you need for safety. The rest will come as you ride along and socialize with other bikers.

So this next item is not at the top of the accessory list.

7. Riding Watch
This is not an essential item but more of an image item. Watches used in riding should be water-proof and shock-proof. This one from Hublot is rugged and can take on the rough riding anytime.

You are at - Jotaro's Blog / WoW! / My Bike - Buying The Accessories #1
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Jul 3, 2012

Twisty Tales : Trigger Finger

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Trigger Finger


Before I go on, I better put a disclaimer, lest people think I am one of those gun-totting cowboy types. This blog isn't about the Wild West, it is not about violence. Rating here is G. So, read on.
It's about physiological ailments that hit various parts of our body - especially as we get older. I list down some of the more interesting ones.

SMS Thumb
This ailment was common prior to the advent of today's smart phones with touch screens. Then most mobile phones had physical buttons. Most, especially youngsters, will use their thumbs to type out their messages, and they can do it at a reckless speed! But after a while, the poor thumb, not being designed for this type of angled usage gets strained and the pain sets in.

Mahjong Thumb
Now these is an odd one. Skilled mahjong players will take a tile from the rack and without looking at the tile face, will use their thumb to feel and guess which card it is. This adds thrill to the game with the unnerving suspense of the other players while that player is having his feel.
One friend of mine was pretty good at this; but one fine day he had this pain in his left thumb and went to see a physiotherapist. The physio, to rub it in,  advised that this ailment came about through rubbing action by the thumb. My friend couldn't figure out how he got it until he recall his mahjong games. Rubbed the wrong way, huh!

Trigger Finger
Okay, the infamous one, the title of this blog. For the sufferer, as he/she tries to slowly open the fingers of the hand, the affected finger will suddenly flip open, just like the action of a gun's trigger - hence the name.
I got it while I was playing games on my touch-screen phone, using my fore-finger to poke and folding my other fingers outwards and away from the phone. Lesson learnt, never have one's digits opened at wrong angles for too long a time. Or else - Flick, flick uncontrollably.

Tortoise Back (aka Backache / Slip Disc)
I always think myself as a Mr. Macho, but machoness has it's realistic limits. Well,I  learnt this the hard way when I single-handedly carried a fridge and lifted it into a waiting truck. Ever since then, I have a poor back and will have back-aches even if I stress it just slightly more than normal. And sometime stressing my back was unintentional.
Once, while bending down to brush my teeth, my throat was tickled causing me to cough & Ouch!
Another time, while bending down to pull up my underwear a sneezed suddenly came. Aachoo! & Ouch!
Once the pain got so bad that I couldn't get out of bed easily. I had to flip myself over and slowly crawl to the bed's edge like a tortoise, slowly put my legs onto the floor and push myself up with my arms. So now I nickname it Tortoise Back. 

Tennis Elbow
This one, I'll never forget. Tennis elbow is caused by the frequent flicking action of the wrist while playing tennis. I don't play tennis, I got it when..... well read on.
I was once an keen gardener and would potter around my garden, planting plants, weeding etc. I even did a bit of hardscaping with some stones and pebbles laid in nice patterns to form flower beds.
There I was happily placing small rounded stones, setting them in with mortar. Mixing a mortar mix in a small pail needs some churning action. So- Churn, churn to mix. Then churn to place one stone. Churn again to place another. Little did I know that I was imitating a tennis player's action. The next day when I woke up, one small touch to the elbow bone sent an electrifying jolt through my arm. Ouch!
So, off I went to see a doctor who while treating me remarked "Ahem, you must be good at tennis." "Nope, I don't play tennis, never once in my life." "Then how?"

"From gardening......."

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Jul 2, 2012

WoW! : Buying My First Foldable Bike

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My First Foldable Bike - in its folded look
My friend Sin, a fairly new but avid biker has been encouraging me to take up biking. Looking at his various blogs at hApPy HaPpY, he seems to be enjoying himself - going biking, meeting up with new friends and having eats during his biking treks. Cycling trips up to 130km a day was commonplace to him. These crazy bikers, they have foldable bikes which they keep in their car boot, and pop it out to cycle whenever they have the urge. Lunancy!

But he kept on encouraging me, and there I was telling myself "Can I do it? Am I up to it physically?" No problem he said, start of with the short distances. So I made up my mind, and went out looking for a bike.

Top of the range "Bike Friday"
Through a Facebook friend, I met up with Andy at the pro-shop in the The Club @ Bukit Utama, Bandar Utama, Kuala Lumpur. He introduced me to a fantastic bike, a Bike Fridaythese bikes are hand-made in the USA and custom-fitted to individual buyers. I test-rode it around the complex. It has an infinity gear-drum unlike most bikes which have gear-cogs, meaning that there are unlimited gears, perhaps something like a car's clutch. Changing gears was a breeze - seamless & so quiet it's hardly noticeable. But then the price at RM9,000+ was beyond my budget. Perhaps next time, if I get to be really keen on biking - AND if I hit a jackpot.

A Doppleganger from Japan
The "Bike Friday" did me a favor, it got me really interested in bikes. But the price wasn't right for a novice like me. So Andy then introduced me to the Doppelganger, a Japanese bike. It was both beautiful and rugged at the same time - appealing to the macho in me. The price at RM1680 was very attractive. But I decided to shop around first. By the way, I posted pictures both bikes on FB and most of my friends like the Doppelganger for its looks.

I had promised Sin that I would be getting a bike within a week, so he recommended me to Johnny, the owner of My Bicycle Shop located at the Oasis Complex in BU4, Bandar Utama also. Johnny was very helpful and understood that a new biker like me had uncertainties about their biking future and may not want to spend too much on their first bike in case their interests waver.

My Bike!
He showed me the XDS-AFB260. It was a beautiful bike too, although not as rugged looking as the Doppelganger. The price at RM980 was just right too. It came in two color themes - white & red, and black & orange. I went for the latter as it fitted well with my blog color theme. So I finally got my first folding bike!

Water Bottle & Holder

Johnny threw in some accessories - lock-set, water-bottle and holder for free.

And I got the most important accessory, a helmet, for RM80. It was futuristic space-age looking, with reflector strips, adjustable chin-straps and tightening head band.

Helmet - Front View
From the front, wearing it, I could pass for one of Darth Vader's death-troopers. Watch out you guys - make way!

Compact when folded - fits into car boot easily.
Folding it was easy, with multiple levers to unlock the folding mechanism. First, lower the seat shaft all the way down so that it forms a leg to support the bike, then push the pedals inwards and fold towards the bike. Unlock one lever and fold the handle down, unlock another one and the bike folds into two. Presto, a compact parcel.

I am slowly learning the finer points of biking. Weight is important, so is the number of gears. Then one have to consider whether the bike is for casual on-road travelling or for speed-racing or even for off-road / mountain biking. Me? I'll just stick to the basics and take it one step at a time, that is if I until proceed to take the next step. Heh! Heh!

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