Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Wondering about the ancients - nine planets, flying chariots and WMDs

Yesterday my daughter was complaining about her boring history classes and asking me tips on how to remember dates and names. She was also wondering why we have to learn about history in the first place.

"What is the use of learning about people that passed away and events that happened long time ago?"

I was explaining to her, that we need to learn from history so that we do not make the same mistakes again and also to learn from things that went right. I also told her that I was in our school and University Quiz teams and was an extra reason I had an interest in memorising the details of things that happened in the past.

However, today morning I was pondering about our conversation while reading an article about ancient Indian. Thousands of years ago, the ancient Indians believed that there were nine planets and even worshiped them as Demi Gods. I even wear a pendant given by my Mum which is called Nav-Ratan in Hindi (9 Jewels) and Graha Mapan in Manipuri, which represents the 9 planets.

We know this to be a fact today and even there were some debate on whether there was a 10th planet and the removal of Pluto from the list of planets for a while.

The question that bristled in my brain was how these ancient people knew there were 9 planets when there is no evidence that they had telescopes.

Or were there advanced civilizations which had access to telescopes and other scientific equipment  and I then think about all the ancient Hindu epics with their flying chariots and weapons of mass destruction and wonder whether these were actually faced on facts.

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

End of year road trip

We recently went on one of the longest road trips I have ever driven.

First we drove up to Lumut to pick up my daughter who had been in a camp at Pulau Pangkor. It was a distance of nearly 200 KM.

From there we then drove to George Town, Penang, which was approx. 180 KMs. We stayed a night at The Northam All Suite Penang on Gurney Drive. A "luxury hotel|" which did not really live up to our expectations. Bit dated decor, old TV with bad reception and a jacuzzi that did not work. I don't know why but I did not complain despite the fact that it was one of the most expensive hotels I had ever stayed in. Maybe I was too tired or because it was the among the few places available during the holidays.

On the bright side we did not stay much in the Hotel and the highlight of the trip was a drive to Batu Ferringhi and dinner at Hard Rock Cafe, Penang.  My daughter was quite excited as it was her first visit to a Hard Rock Cafe anywhere.

It was crowded and we did not have any reservations but as we were about to drive away, the guy at the gate directed me to staff parking which had a few spaces. It was packed and we were asked to wait. We left our contact details and went to their shop to browse around. And as usual ended up buying a lot of their branded merchandise.

We then drove up to Kuala Perlis (approx. 180 KMs) and took a ferry to Pulau Langkawi (about 1 hour and 15 minutes) .

At Langkawi, we met up with my my in-laws who had flown there. We stayed at a house together. Not very comfortable but it was OK. Did some sight seeing and also discussed some potential future investment.

The highlight was the boat ride to the Kilim Karst Geoforest Park (Kuah). It was the first time I saw a monkey swimming in the sea (getting peanuts thrown by tourists). A money actually climbed into our boat and the kids were feeding him peanuts. Also saw the sea eagles after which the Islands are named as well as some bats in a cave.

Finally it was time to go back. However, we were way too tired as the traffic back to KL from Kuala Perlis was really bad and at some places we actually did not move for several minutes. We then decided to take a break at Ipoh (approx. 280 KMs). My wife booked online via her mobile phone and we stayed at the Impiana Hotel for the night - again quite dated but quite comfortable.

Called room service and my food was delicious but my sis-in-law was quite annoyed that her chicken was not fully cooked and we complained. The hotel refunded us the cost of that dish when we checked out (but only after my wife had a "long chat" with the lady at the reception.

We finally set off and reached our house about 2 and half hours later - a distance of nearly 195 KMs. Fortunately we set out in the morning and missed some terrible traffic jams later the same day.

I have to say, after more than 1000KMs, 3 hotels and one home stay, it was amazing to be back home and to sleep on my own bed. 

Friday, October 21, 2016

Seiko SNKN01K1 watch unboxing

Note: This article was previously posted on on 01/01/2016.

Wishing all visitors to my blog a very Happy and Prosperous New Year 2016. 2015 was a busy and eventful year for me and I did not even have time to update the blog regularly. As the year came to a close, I decided to reward myself with a watch. If you are a regular to our blog, you are probably aware that I mostly blog about awesome yet affordable watches and I put myself a very low budget of around RM1000 (approx. US$232 / £158 at the current exchange rate).

The condition was that it had to be a mechanical/ automatic watch. I went to Lazada, my favourite shopping portal here in Malaysia and pulled up all the watches I had put on my watch list. All the Swiss brands were beyond my budget and I narrowed my choice down to two - a dressy Orient Bambino CER2400/ CER24005W/ ER24005W (at a discounted RM599 with free delivery) and the retro inspired Seiko Recraft SNKN01K1 (RM539). I already have a Tissot which I usually wear to formal occasions and I did not really need another dress watch.

Orient Bambino

So I finally decided to go for the SNKN01 - a watch I could wear everyday. The delivery was very fast - I bought it on the 26th and it was delivered on the 30th.

The SNKN01 is powered by a self-winding movement (7S26 movement with 21 Jewels, runs at 21,600 vibrations per hour) housed in the retro style stainless steel case with calf leather strap.

It has a screwdown see-through caseback. The watch is water resistant to 50M.

The sunburst dial with clear hour markers was what really attracted me to the watch with the day/date window at the hour 3 marker.

Though I love the new watch and I have been wearing it continuously for nearly a week now, it could have been better. First of all, the watch is not lumed - not the hour markers nor the hands, which means that I cannot read it in the dark. Further more it cannot be wound up and it does not hack (i.e., the second hand does not stop when you adjust the time). Seiko has other movements and I wonder why they used the 7S26 instead of say the 4R36 which does hack and can be hand wound. I answer would be that it would not cost only RM539 anymore.

Some of you may be wondering why having these features are important but for a lot of watch collectors, these are absolutely essential when they look for an automatic watch. I am not that concerned. The 7S26 reportedly has a power reserve of 40 hours when fully wound and I guess I will have to shake it a bit eveyday even when I am not wearing it. Or maybe I could get a watch winder.

Here is the unboxing video:

Thursday, July 21, 2016

I want Happy Ads

I have had a pet peeve for quite a while but I cannot keep in in any longer.

Can all the big companies stop with all the weepy, sad, sentimental ads for every festive occasion - Hari Raya, sad ad. Chinese New Year, Sad ad. Deepawali, Sad ad. I am sick of these ads. We are already depressed with all the crazy stories in the news, stress at work, inflation, economy and so on.

I blame the late Yasmin Ahmed. She was an amazing film maker and I liked her ads but she started a trend which shows no sign of ending.

PLEASE, PLEASE make happy, funny, uplifting, motivating ads the next festive season

Please share if you agree.

The only funny festive ad in ages

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Why I like vintage watches?

This was a question in Quora which made me think about the watches I collect.

I cannot really explain but there is a certain charm about old watches - even the cheaper ones. It depends on your taste but I like the hand winding steel watches with doomed plastic crystals. I also like the unique and eccentric watches like the Tissot stone watches and brands that do not exist anymore like Favre Leuba and old Indian HMT watches. I like reading about their history and sometimes wonder about the guy who once used the watch to tell time.

When I was a kid, my father used to wear a cheap solar powered Bular watch and I really liked it. It is now in my collection with the crystal all cracked but I really like it because of the sentimental value.

I have also noticed that there is a nostalgia among people for everything vintage or classic and have noticed the classic Casio gold digital watches on the wrists of a number of stylish millennials. Of course, the watchmakers have realised this phenomenon and many including Seiko, Omega, Tudor, Tag Heur among others have all recently reintroduced many of their old designs, of course with a modern take.

Coming back to the question, different people like vintage watches for different reasons. Many collect them as investments, some collect them for aesthetic reasons, others for sentimental reasons, etc.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Are millennials to blame?

When people talk about millennials, most of the time you never hear any thing positive. Often people will be complaining of their "attitude problem", lack of interest, not hard working, no initiative, cynical, lazy, disrespectful, etc. - the list goes on.

Though there is some truth in this - I wondered what made them like that - what makes them different from previous generations and are they really that bad.

The former questions are harder to answer but the answer to the last questions is clearly a big "No!". These young people can be really passionate about a number of issues affecting society. Often it turns out, it is the Baby boomers and X-gen who are the cynics.

The millennials grew up with scandals, corruption, and an extremely competitive World. I was shocked when I learnt that only kids with 8 As in their STPM or  4 flat A -levels could enter University of Malaya. People say kids do not play outside anymore and blame gadgets but I realise that now kids do not have time from homework and tutions, piano, swimming and taekwondo lessons to go out and play. Many parents in the city do not even let their kids out of sight for fear that their kids might get abducted and I think about my childhood where I could just go out and ride my bike and roam around the neighbourhood for hours.

I recently met up with one of my ex-students and was shocked when he told me his salary in a well known MNC. It was just RM 500 more than what I used to get in my first job after my MBA 15 years ago. That's right - salaries have not increased in the last 15 years. Prices of everything has gone up several times and in fact several businesses here are taking consumers for a ride blaming everything from petrol prices to GST and of course the Government. But the fact is that for many their profit margins are way over the top. For example, it is crazy that Bananas are cheaper in the UK as compared to Malaysia. The bananas in the UK come from the West Indies or South America and is cheaper than in Malaysia which is a tropical country and where Bananas are grown.

Employers continue to complain that Millennials are not loyal and lazy Blah! Blah! Blah!

You pay them peanuts while expecting them to work like dogs like we used to several years ago - leaving the office only in the evening after the boss leaves with no overtime. You expect them to continue working in high pressure environment without complaining while you drive around in luxury cars which can buy a medium cost link house.

Talking about houses, many of these millennials have no hope of ever owning their own house in the Klang Valley unless they have generous parents who buy it for them or at least help out with the initial down payment.

No wonder the Millennials have an "attitude problem".

Monday, February 15, 2016

Zika virus, Microcephaly and Larvicides

According to a group of Argentinean doctors, larvicides and not the Zika virus is the cause of Brazil's Microcephaly outbreak. According to 'Physicians in Crop-Sprayed Towns', the outbreak is due to a chemical called Pyriproxyfen, which was sprayed into water supplies in various towns in Brazil in 2014 including the state of Pernambuco where the malformations were detected first.

Read the article in Tech Times here.

Monsanto was not happy with their name being linked to the outbreak and released a response on their blog saying "Neither Monsanto nor our products have any connection to the Zika virus or microcephaly."


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