Thursday, January 26, 2006

Happy Chinese New Year

Happy Chinese New Year to all of you especially to my Chinese friends. May the Year of the Dog be a prosperous one for all of us!

Last year I was in Miri during the Chinese New Year, and so was able to visit a few friends. I am going to miss all the sweet barbecued pork meat. :-( I don't think I have seen any of those at the Asian supermarket here in Sacramento. I love all our Malaysian cookies and also love to try the different cakes that are usually staple during such festive seasons in Malaysia.

I was pleasantly surprised to receive a phone call from a friend in KL yesterday wishing me Happy Chinese New Year. I don't know if she thinks I am Chinese? Heheh, it was very thoughtful of her though.

I would love to be in San Francisco during the Chinese New Year. I hear that in Chinatown, there is always a big celebration going on .. lion dance, fire-crackers .. all the cultural stuff. Yeah, maybe another time.

Otherwise for the rest of us here, the new year will be just another day. Cong Xi Fa Cai!

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Movie Review: End of the Spear

Yesterday, three friends and I, went to see End of the Spear. This movie is based on a book also of the same name by Steve Saint. Steve Saint is the son of one of the five murdered American missionaries who tried to bring the Gospel to the notoriously violent Waodani tribe in Eucuador.

The story surrounding the killing of the five missionaries is told from two perspectives; that of Steve Saint, and the Waodani tribesmen themselves.

The cast of characters were magnificient in their roles, and the jungle backdrop of the story was superbly presented. The film was shot in Panama and the lead actor is from the Dominican Republic, but the supporting casts were Panamanian Indians.

My first thought after the movie was that the Gospel message was too subtle. But on reviewing the film in my mind, I think the message of forgiveness and reconciliation were powerfully presented. Steve Saint still maintains a close relationship with Waodani tribe, even after discovering the person who killed his father. The change in the lives of the Waodani tribe is remarkable. Shortly after the five missionaries were killed, the sister of one and the wife of another went to live with the tribe. Within two years the tribal homicide rate dropped by more than 90 %.

I highly recommend this film. And also for those who want to see the documentary Beyond the Gates of Splendor based on a book by Elisabeth Elliot, the widow of one of the slain missionaries, it is available on DVD and VHS.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Old Computer: Panasonic Senior Partner

This is a follow-up from discussions that James, Vynne and Desmond had about their first computers.

This is what Doug had as his first computer. He still has his old computer and he said it would start right up if he turned it on. When we go back to our old home in Los Osos, we will look for it and I will take a picture of it. :-)

From Old-Computers.Com Museum:

This is a luggable IBM-PC compatible system. It tends to offer an all-in-one solution for the perfect 80's business man. Back in 1983 it was the first Japanese computer completely IBM-PC compatible (hardware & software).

It has a built-in thermal printer (80/132 columns, 8.5'' wide) using paper-rolls. This was quite useful where you were on the move, but the weight of the whole system is also quite impressive. It is maybe transportable but surely not portable !
It was also possible to connect a more sophisticated printer through the Parallel port.
There is a 9'' CRT green display built-in along with a brightness control.
An interesting feature is that you can also connect the Sr Partner to an external color monitor, thus unleashing the fantastic power of this ultra-modern laptop...err. Maybe not, but you can at least enjoy CGA color graphics (640 x 200 with 4 colors, wow).

Apparently there were several models with different storage configurations : one 5''1/4 disk-drive (360k), two 5''1/4 disk-drives, one disk-drive and one hard-disk (10Mb, 20Mb)...

On the original disk, the MS-DOS ver 2.0A and Basic v2.0 were delivered.

Presented at the Las-Vegas Comdex in november 1983, the Senior Partner was proposed for 2495$ with Wordstar, Visicalc, PFS-File, PFS-Graph, PFS-Report and GW-Basic.

Panasonic, along with National and Technics were brands owned by the Matsushita japanese group.

Target Shooting

Last Monday, Doug and his friends, Richard and David, went target shooting on government land somewhere near California's Highway 26.

Richard shooting his Kel-Tec SU-16a .223 rifle

Doug shooting his Firestar .45 automatic.

Doug shooting his 7.62 X 39mm SKS rifle. That's Dave in the back. Dave was in the army for 21 years.

Doug shooting his .22 Ruger MK II semi-automatic.

One of these days, Kathy (Richard's wife) and I will have to join them on one of these target shooting outings.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Sex Offenders

In the US, all convicted sex offenders have their names registered in a database. I have known about this for quite some time now, but I don't know why I never bothered looking it up. I know there is a possibility that there might be some convicted sex offenders living not too far from where we live. I received an email from my father-in-law today, and in it he gave a link to a site where we can look up who the sex offenders in our neighbourhood are.

I can't believe there are 15 sex offenders living within a 2 mile radius from where I live! And 31 in total in our town! Where my children are concerned I am already over-protective, now .... !

There was one case recently, where a lady, hung signs outside the house where a registered sex offender was living. She wanted the whole neighbourhood to know there was a sex offender in the neighbourhood, and by making such a big stink of the sex offender's presence, she hoped that he would move away. I think what she did was right, because she had young children and the sex offender lived just a few doors away from her house. I think the sex offender finally moved away.

As a parent, I don't think there is such a thing as being too careful. There are too many predators out there who prey on innocent children. In my book any one who molests a child, deserves to be castrated, or the equivalent if the offender is a woman! Grrrr!

Sunday, January 15, 2006

A Public Indecency?

Alon Orpaz and Tehila Salev got married in a traditional Hindu ceremony in Pushkar, India. At the conclusion of the ceremony, the Israeli couple kissed. This outraged the priests at the temple, who called the police. The couple was charged with public indecency, and a court sentenced them to 10 days in prison or an $11 fine. (as reported in Reason Magazine, Feb 2006 issue)
Hmm, I didn't realize that kissing in public in India is considered public indecency! No wonder you never see kissing scenes in those Bollywood movies! :-) I thought they were just being conservative and very prudish about showing people kissing on the silver screen.

I was in living in Singapore for a few months in 1994. It was quite the culture shock for me to see young couples kissing in public. A Singaporean friend told me that even her Filipino friends think that Singapore was more open about such public displays of affection than the Philippines.
A Malaysian couple caught by enforcement officers holding hands in a public park have been charged in court with indecent behavior, local media said yesterday. Ooi Kean Tong, 22, was charged Wednesday for allegedly hugging and kissing his girlfriend Siow Ai Wei, 20, in a Kuala Lumpur park, the New Straits Times reported. Ooi pleaded not guilty. If found guilty, he could face a maximum fine of 2,000 ringgit (US$526) or a year in jail or both. The case provoked a public outcry at the time when the couple said they were only holding hands and alleged that they were issued a summons because they had refused to bribe the officers, who were charged with corruption in January. (as reported in Taipei Times, Friday, Apr 23, 2004,Page 7)
Looks like it is no different in Malaysia! :-( When have kissing and hugging in public places been called public indecency? Pity those couples who get caught by the religious police during the annual raids on Valentine's Day in Malaysia! Makes Malaysia look like Saudi Arabia!

Friday, January 13, 2006


Paraskevidekatriaphobia. Is that word a mouthful or what?! Paraskevidekatriaphobia means fear of Friday the 13th.

Why do you think some people are fearful of Friday the 13th? I remember planning my trip back from Miri to the US early this year. Doug talked about delaying returning to California, maybe till May. May? Ok, but I am not travelling on Friday the 13th! Yes, there was a Friday the 13th last May. But we left Miri in April not in May so the subject of having to travel on Friday the 13th did not arise.

I am not, generally, a supertitious person and Friday the 13th does not normally bother me, except when it comes to getting on a plane on that particular day! Heheh.

It seems that on Friday the 13th some people would not go to work, go to restaurants, and most definitely would not plan a wedding on this day! And most interestingly according to an abstract study published in the British Medical Journal in 1993 entitled "Is Friday the 13th Bad for Your Health?" there was an increase by as much as 52% in hospital addmissions due to transport related accidents despite fewer people choosing to drive their cars on that day!

What are the odds do you think that these accidents had more to do with attitudes and behaviour that led to self-fulfilling prophecies, like bad things happening to oneself on Friday the 13th? Heheh, something to think about.

Here are some stories related to number 13 and Friday.

13: The Devils Dozen

It is said: If 13 people sit down to dinner together, all will die within the year. The Turks so disliked the number 13 that it was practically expunged from their vocabulary (Brewer, 1894). Many cities do not have a 13th Street or a 13th Avenue. Many buildings don't have a 13th floor. If you have 13 letters in your name, you will have the devil's luck (Jack the Ripper, Charles Manson, Jeffrey Dahmer, Theodore Bundy and Albert De Salvo all have 13 letters in their names). There are 13 witches in a coven.


Christians have traditionally been wary of Fridays because Jesus was crucified on a Friday. Additionally, some theologians hold that Adam and Eve ate from the forbidden fruit on a Friday, and that the Great Flood began on a Friday. In the past, many Christians would never begin any new project or trip on a Friday, fearing they would be doomed from the start.

Some historians suggest the Christian distrust of Fridays is actually linked to the early Catholic Church's overall supression of pagan religions and women. In the Roman calendar, Friday was devoted to Venus, the goddess of love. When Norsemen adapted the calendar, they named the day after Frigg, or Freya, Norse goddesses connected to love and sex. Both of these strong female figures once posed a threat to male-dominated Christianity, the theory goes, so the Christian church vilified the day named after them.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Quartz and Crystal Necklace

Pearls instead of quartz would look just as lovely with design.

Monday, January 09, 2006

One Eyed Kitten

Cy, short for Cyclopes, a kitten born with only one eye and no nose, is shown in this photo provided by its owner in Redmond, Oregon, on Wednesday, Dec. 28, 2005. The kitten, a ragdoll breed, which died after living for one day, was one of two in the litter. Its sibling was born normal and healthy. (AP Photo/Traci Allen)
Is this freakish or what?!

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Here Come the Brides

ON SEPTEMBER 23, 2005, the 46-year-old Victor de Bruijn and his 31-year-old wife of eight years, Bianca, presented themselves to a notary public in the small Dutch border town of Roosendaal. And they brought a friend. Dressed in wedding clothes, Victor and Bianca de Bruijn were formally united with a bridally bedecked Mirjam Geven, a recently divorced 35-year-old whom they'd met several years previously through an Internet chatroom. As the notary validated a samenlevingscontract, or "cohabitation contract," the three exchanged rings, held a wedding feast, and departed for their honeymoon.

When Mirjam Geven first met Victor and Bianca de Bruijn, she was married. Yet after several meetings between Mirjam, her then-husband, and the De Bruijns, Mirjam left her spouse and moved in with Victor and Bianca. The threesome bought a bigger bed, while Mirjam and her husband divorced. Although neither Mirjam nor Bianca had had a prior relationship with a woman, each had believed for years that she was bisexual. Victor, who describes himself as "100 percent heterosexual," attributes the trio's success to his wives' bisexuality, which he says has the effect of preventing jealousy. (The Weekly Standard)

The Netherlands was the first country in Europe to legalize gay marriages and now this. I am not at all surprised that this is happening in The Netherlands.

When gay marriages became legal in some European countries, and gay unions recognized in some states in the US, there were dire warnings from conservatives that that was the start down a slippery slope. After gay marriages, what next? Polygamy? Polyamory? Acceptance of adult and child relationships, which is pedophilia?

I am a conservative, and believe that the fabric that holds society together is the traditional family. When the traditional family breaks down, society breaks down with it.

In the US, the blended family (a couple living with their children from previous marriages) is a common feature, and there is a push for acceptance of the 2 male-parent or 2 female- parent families.

Proponents of homosexual couples raising children claim that children raised in such households fare no differently than children raised in traditional families. I strongly believe that "both mothers and fathers provide unique and irreplaceable contributions to the raising of children. Children raised in traditional families by a mother and father are happier, healthier, and more successful than children raised in non-traditional environments." (Source: Family Research Council)

It seems that in the US there is already the beginnings for a push for acceptance for multiple sex partners as equal to marriage.
University of Chicago Law Professor Elizabeth Emens is author of "Monogamy's Law: Compulsory Monogamy And Polyamorous Existence." In it, she argues that Americans should seriously reconsider their opposition to polygamy and polyamory (multiple sex partners as equal to marriage).

According to Emens, resistance to polyamory "may merely be an artifact of historical associations with patriarchal polygny…" She believes that most men and women are not actually monogamous anyway (witness adultery and high divorce rates), so why not rewrite our laws to sanction consensual relationships with multiple sex partners? (Source: Traditional Values Coalition)
Why am I not surprised? I think that step down the slippery slope has already been taken and it can only go further.

Stanley Kurtz has an excellent article called The Marriage Mentality on National Review Online. It is quite the eye opener for those of us who think that gay marriages and polyamorous relationships have no bearings on the state of traditional marriages.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Dancing With the Stars

I don't watch a lot of TV and there are very few programs that I consider a must see. We had a short power failure tonight, and we dug out our emergency light cum TV out of the closet. It just so happened that the channel that came on was ABC and the program that was on was Dancing With the Stars. What?! There's a new season of Dancing With the Stars? Geez, how did I miss that?

I enjoyed the previous season's Dancing With the Stars, and tried not to miss any episode. I even watched the rematch between Kelly Monaco and her professional dance partner, Alec Mazo, and John O'Hurley and his professional dance partner, Charlotte Jorgensen. However, I was disappointed that Kelly Monaco and partner did not win the rematch. In the real competition she deserved to win the competition because she was the most improved dancer. One of the judges comments about her dancing was really bad ... "you looked like you just came back from a funeral". But she proved her critics wrong and worked really hard that she ended up looking really professional.

This year, the celebrity dancers I recognize are Tatum O'Neal, Drew Lachey, George Hamilton, and Tia Carrere. I don't recognize the others. But no matter, the idea of the whole show is to turn some celebrity into a dancer.

Heheh, I took ballroom dancing lessons before but too bad have never kept up with it. I can only dance any kind of ballroom dancing if my dance partner is able to lead me. Otherwise, I am flat-footed. :-( Doug does not do any ballroom dancing - his is country and western dancing and I do not know how to do that.

Well, our friends, Kathy and Richard are thinking about taking lessons, and have invited us to join them. We just might, if we can arrange a baby sitter on the day the class is held.

Now that the new season of Dancing With the Stars has started, I better not forget to turn the TV on to the ABC channel on Thurdays! Hey, what happend to Smallville showing on Thursdays on the WB channel? Geez, I used to follow that program, but keep forgetting to turn on the TV to that channel! Oooppss, these two programs are on competing time slot! :-( Ok, I'll choose the former.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Movie Review: The Sleeping Dictionary

I received the first movie of my Rental Queue from Netflix today. The title of the movie is The Sleeping Dictionary. I'd heard or I should say read of this movie from discussions at a forum and also from Cuthess. Cuthess has asked me for comments about the movie once I've seen it.

First of all, I am not much of a movie critic. All the movies I've watched fall into either of two categories: Good/Not Bad/Ok or Lousy.

The Sleeping Dictionary falls into the Good/Not Bad/Ok category. I am quite the sucker for love stories and the movie does fall into the romantic drama category. I was afraid that the the main characters of the movie were going to end up as star-crossed lovers and not have a happy ending! I am glad that they did end up together.

This is the gist of the story:
In 1936, the expatriate, young and naive just-graduated British John Truscott (Hugh Dancy) arrives in the jungles of Sarawak, a British colony, to work among the Iban. The beautiful Selima (Jessica Alba) is assigned to be his "sleeping dictionary", to live and sleep with him and teach him the language and habits of the locals. The reluctant John and Selima fall in love for each other in a forbidden romance.
I am not sure if sleeping dictionaries actually existed during the colonial time in Sarawak but it would not have been an impossibility. I don't doubt that the Englishmen working for the colonial governenment had local women as their mistresses! Heheh.

I wished the lead characters had done a better job with the Iban language. There were times that I didn't understand what was supposedly spoken in Iban! Makes you wonder why an Iban actress could not have done the role of Selima. But then again there are steamy scenes in the movie and I am not sure if a local actress could do any of those scenes! The movie is R rated, meaning it contained some sexuality.

The movie was filmed in Malaysia, I don't know exactly where, and the jungle scenes are simply breath-taking. But why do they have to add some birds flying in the jungle that don't belong in the jungles of Borneo?! I saw macaws, Amazon jungle birds, flying in the Borneo jungle! Why not the hornbill?

And the music! Just because most of the scenes take place in the jungle, does not mean the movie score has to sound like it fit better in a movie set in the Amazon. All that wind instruments! What happened to stringed instruments, like the sape, and the gong?

I can't complain much about the costume. Back in 1936, Iban women deep in the jungle would probably have been bare-breasted. At least the women wore sarongs wrapped around their chests, and Selima wore sexy outfits throughout the movie. Another thing, just because she has been around as the sleeping dictionary, does not mean she has to behave quite immodestly - little things like her posture, the way she sits.

There was a scene in the movie where Selima stayed under John Truscott's bungalow after he dismissed her from being his Sleeping Dictionary. Cuthess thinks that implied the Iban are barbarians living under the house with pigs! Heheh. I didn't see any pigs under the house; they were all in a pen.

Anyway, all in all, I think it was a pretty good movie. It had all the elements of a good love story and enough sentimentality to cause a few tears! Heheh.

Monday, January 02, 2006

DVD Rentals

I signed up with Netflix yesterday. In case you don't know, Netflix is the world's largest online DVD movie rental service.

It all began with my good friend, Kathy, who recommended March of the Penguins. I asked her to lend me the DVD she had rented from Netflix. She did lend it to me, but told me for $9.99 a month I could rent unlimited number of DVDs from Netflix. My excuse was that I didn't have a lot of time to watch movies so didn't want to spend that kind of money if I didn't think I would get my money's worth!

But then I bought this home theater speaker set, what can I say? The LOTR series that I watched for the 3rd time to test the new sound system really blew me away! Ok, I better start renting movies then, just so I can enjoy my sound system! I checked out the rates at Blockbuster because there is one store here in Galt, but at $3.99 per rental, well, I think that is a bit steep! The local pharmacy in town used to rent out their movies for 99 cents each, but they have stopped doing video/DVD rental.

Ok, back to Netflix then. For $9.99 a month subscription I can get one movie at a time, and every time I return the DVD, they will send me another one. Of course you can pay more and get more movies at a time, but for me I think one movie at a time is more manageable.

I browsed their library of 55,000 movie titles and found they had The Sleeping Dictionary. Cuthess, wrote in her blog that she had seen the movie and that it was more of a sex story than anything else. Heheh, it is R rated so of course that tells you that there will be some sexual content in the movie. I have added The Sleeping Dictionary to the top of my Rental Queue. I found so many chinese action movies that I have missed and so they are also in my Queue now. Actually I haven't watched that many movies in recent years, so I know I will have a lot of fun watching those movies.

Netflix has a wide selection of foreign movies so I think, besides the chinese movies, I will also rent some Bollywood movies! Heheh. I watched Bride and Prejudice (bootleg copy from Petaling Street!) a few days ago and thoroughly enjoyed it! :-) There are also Korean and Japanese movies. I know how popular the Korean TV drama series are in Malaysia!

Since today is still a holiday, the first movie in my Queue will only get shipped tomorrow (Tuesday). I hope I'll receive it the following day. Netflix has a center in Sacramento so for us living in the area, that makes it very convenient - fast shipping.

On another note, I am thoroughly enjoying my home theater speakers! :-) I think that is money well spent! One day I'd like to get a plasma wide screen .. next Christmas? Heheh. For now I am glad my mother-in-law handed us down her old 44 inch projection TV. It does not give out the sharpest image, but I am not complaining! :-)