Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Monochromatic almost

Ah, I sort of got "tagged" by Grace, who asked us to post our favourite black and white photos. Unfortunately, I'm not a B&W type of guy. Historically, 99.9% of my pics have been shot on colour film. I can't remember ever loading B&W film in my old faithful camera (which is now RIP, sadly). And since the advent of digital, I've also been shooting in colour... though it never occurred to me to seriously shoot in B&W although I've been encouraged to try it out. In the family, my brother and sister are the ones who have dabbled in B&W. I know it's so much easier now, with digital photography, to shoot in B&W just by changing the camera settings, and even to convert colour to B&W during post-processing. I've played around just a little bit with the focal B&W and de-colourizing, as you can see in the picture of the water lily on the side bar and my earlier post.

But for now, here's my humble offering of a "B&W" picture. It was actually shot on colour film, but the lighting and mood of the scene lends it an almost monochromatic appearance. If you look closely you can see tinges of green on the edges of the vegetation. This picture was taken on my second hiking trip up to Gunung Tahan in October 2002. We were scrambling up the steep cliff on the side of Gunung Gedong, which we had to surmount on the way to the Gunung Tahan summit. The route was rather hazardous due to the loose, crumbling rock surface that kept slipping away under our boots as we tenaciously tried to get a grip on the near vertical slope. There were permanent ropes affixed for climbers' convenience, which we used to pull ourselves up. However, I often find it more reassuring to grab the firmly anchored tree roots that are much more sturdy than the swaying rope! Halfway up, while resting precariously on a ledge, I glanced back and saw this ethereal scene of mist wafting through the jungle. I took out the camera and snapped a quick shot while holding on to dear life. Only one shot. There was not much time nor space to compose and recompose. I would count this as one of my serendipitous shots that turned out quite well. :)

Misty forest, Gunung Gedong, Oct 2002

p/s: I don't know how, but the Tahan trail has been ranked one of the Top 10 treks in the world! Check it out here. Woohoo! A World's Top 10 right in our backyard!

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Christmas in June

I know, it's June, it's summertime, but I've been captivated these past few days by Sarah McLachlan's Wintersong album. It was released last October but I only heard it last week. It's meant for Christmastime, but who cares. Listening to Silent Night in mid June is fine with me. Besides, the song Song for a Winter's Night just blew me away.

Other good stuff getting airtime on my speakers lately have been the albums
Arriving and See the Morning by Chris Tomlin, Top of My Lungs by Phillips, Craig & Dean and Wherever You Are by Third Day. Earlier, I was listening to a borrowed copy of Casting Crowns by Casting Crowns, but unfortunately it seems to be out of stock at the shops.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

of paddy fields and daffodils

Right, I'm probably dreaming a bit here. There's lots of paddy fields but no daffodils in Kedah, as you can see in the pictures below.

I made a quickie day trip to Alor Star and Sungai Petani yesterday. First flight in, last flight out. It was a reconnaissance trip to check out the area for some work-related thingy. The area of interest was the Merbok River basin. It has very nice mangroves along its estuarine banks, from the river mouth at Tanjung Dawai and extending upstream past Sg. Petani town. Gunung Jerai (1380m) forms a dramatic backdrop to the flat coastal plain where rice paddies dominate.

Alor Star Landmark


Wobbly jetty near the river mouth



A cow's life, Gunung Jerai in the background

Infinity on a coastal bund



Reflections from the past


The Straits of Melaka as seen from Tanjung Dawai beach

Sg. Tupah

Sunshine through the clouds

Reality Bites

A boat docked in a tiny Mexican village. An American tourist complimented the Mexican fisherman on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took him to catch them.

"Not very long," answered the Mexican.

"But then, why didn't you stay out longer and catch more?" asked the American.

The Mexican explained that his small catch was sufficient to meet his needs and those of his family.

The American asked, "But what do you do with the rest of your time?"

"I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, and take a siesta with my wife. In the evenings, I go into the village to see my friends, have a few drinks, play the guitar, and sing a few songs... I have a full life."

The American interrupted, "I have an MBA from Harvard and I can help you! You should start by fishing longer every day. You can then sell the extra fish you catch. With the extra revenue, you can buy a bigger boat. With the extra money the larger boat will bring, you can buy a second one and a third one and so on until you have an entire fleet of trawlers. Instead of selling your fish to a middle man, you can negotiate directly with the processing plants and maybe even open your own plant. You can then leave this little village and move to Mexico City, Los Angeles, or even New York City! From there you can direct your huge enterprise."

"How long would that take?" asked the Mexican.

"Twenty, perhaps twenty-five years," replied the American.

"And after that?"

"Afterwards? That's when it gets really interesting," answered the American, laughing. "When your business gets really big, you can start selling stocks and make millions!"

"Millions? Really? And after that?"

"After that you'll be able to retire, live in a tiny village near the coast, sleep late, play with your children, catch a few fish, take a siesta, and spend your evenings dining and enjoying your friends."

"But isn't that what I'm doing now?"

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Does God draw with AutoCAD?

There was a reflection on 1 Chronicles 28 in church today. The word that jumped out at me was somehow not very "spiritual" in the usual sense. You see, the passage was talking a lot about the detailed building plans of the temple that God had dictated to David, and which David subsequently passed on to his son Solomon who was commissioned to build the temple. And I just wondered how those plans were recorded. On paper? On parchment? On clay tablets? Or only in "softcopy?" Did David have any training in architecture or quantity surveying or interior design? And the big question, since God was the master architect, did He use AutoCAD? Of course not, silly me. But it was thought-provoking for a little while.

And now, on this Father's Day, let's hear the words of a father to his son...

4 “Yet the Lord, the God of Israel, has chosen me from among all my father’s family to be king over Israel forever. For he has chosen the tribe of Judah to rule, and from among the families of Judah he chose my father’s family. And from among my father’s sons the Lord was pleased to make me king over all Israel. 5 And from among my sons—for the Lord has given me many—he chose Solomon to succeed me on the throne of Israel and to rule over the Lord’s kingdom. 6 He said to me, ‘Your son Solomon will build my Temple and its courtyards, for I have chosen him as my son, and I will be his father. 7 And if he continues to obey my commands and regulations as he does now, I will make his kingdom last forever.’

8 “So now, with God as our witness, and in the sight of all Israel—the Lord’s assembly—I give you this charge. Be careful to obey all the commands of the Lord your God, so that you may continue to possess this good land and leave it to your children as a permanent inheritance.

9 “And Solomon, my son, learn to know the God of your ancestors intimately. Worship and serve him with your whole heart and a willing mind. For the Lord sees every heart and knows every plan and thought. If you seek him, you will find him. But if you forsake him, he will reject you forever. 10 So take this seriously. The Lord has chosen you to build a Temple as his sanctuary. Be strong, and do the work.”


Congratulations to Jon for his well delivered maiden sermon on Daniel 6. Hallelujah. May there be many more to come! :P

Happy Father's Day

Our Father in heaven,
may your name be kept holy.
May your Kingdom come soon.
May your will be done on earth,
as it is in heaven.
Give us today the food we need,
and forgive us our sins,
as we have forgiven those who sin against us.
And don’t let us yield to temptation,
but rescue us from the evil one.
For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.

Matthew 6:9-13 (NLT)

Friday, June 15, 2007

Gender imbalance?

If Laurie, Linda, Elizabeth and Barbara go out to lunch, they will call each other Laurie, Linda, Elizabeth and Barbara.
If Mark, Chris, Eric and Tom go out, they will refer to each other as Fat Boy, Godzilla, Peanut-Head and Scrappy.

When the bill arrives, Mark, Chris, Eric and Tom will each throw in $20, even though it's only $32.50. None of them will have anything smaller and no one will actually admit he wants change back.
When the girls get their bill, out come the pocket calculators.

A man will pay $2 for a $1 item he needs.
A woman will pay $1 for a $2 item that she doesn't need but it's on sale.

A man has five items in his bathroom: a toothbrush, shaving cream, razor, a bar of soap, and a towel from the Marriott.
The average number of items in the typical woman's bathroom is 337.

A woman has the last word in any argument.
Anything a man says after that is the beginning of a new argument.

Women love cats.
Men say they love cats, but when women aren't looking, men kick cats.

A woman worries about the future until she gets a husband.
A man never worries about the future until he gets a wife.

A successful man is one who makes more money than his wife can spend.
A successful woman is one who can find such a man.

A woman marries a man expecting he will change, but he doesn't.
A man marries a woman expecting that she won't change, and she does.

A woman will dress up to go shopping, water the plants, empty the garbage, answer the phone, get the mail.
A man will dress up for weddings and funerals.

Men wake up as good-looking as they went to bed.
Women somehow deteriorate during the night.

A woman knows all about her children. She knows about their dentist appointments, romances, best friends, favorite foods, secret fears and hopes and dreams.
A man is vaguely aware of some short people living in the house.

Any married man should forget his mistakes. There's no use in two people remembering the same thing.

Monkey business

A tourist walked into a pet shop and was looking at the animals on display. While he was there, another customer walked in and went over to a cage at the side of the shop and took out a monkey.

The shopkeeper fitted a collar and leash on the monkey and handed it to the customer, saying, "That'll be $5,000." The customer paid and walked out with his monkey.

Startled, the tourist went over to the shopkeeper and said, "That was a very expensive monkey. Most of them are only a few hundred dollars. Why did it cost so much?"

The shopkeeper answered, "Ah, that monkey can program in C - very fast, tight code, no bugs, well worth the money."

The tourist looked at the monkey in another cage. "That one's even more expensive - $10,000! What does it do?"

"Oh, that one's a C++ monkey; it can manage object-oriented programming, Visual C++, even some Java. All the really useful stuff," said the shopkeeper.

The tourist looked around for a little longer and saw a third monkey in a cage of its own. The price tag around its neck read $50,000. He gasped to the shopkeeper, "That one costs more than all the others put together! What on earth does it do?"

The shopkeeper replied, "Well, I haven't actually seen it do anything, but it says it's a consultant."

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

American history

The following excerpts are actual answers given on history tests and in Sunday school quizzes by children between 5th and 6th grade ages in Ohio. They were collected over a period of three years by two teachers.

Ancient Egypt was old. It was inhabited by gypsies and mummies who all wrote in hydraulics. They lived in the Sarah Dessert. The climate of the Sarah is such that all the inhabitants have to live elsewhere.

Moses led the Hebrew slaves to the Red Sea where they made unleavened bread, which is bread made without any ingredients. Moses went up on Mount Cyanide to get the ten commandos. He died before he ever reached Canada but the commandos made it.

Solomon had three hundred wives and seven hundred porcupines. He was an actual hysterical figure as well as being in the Bible. It sounds like he was sort of busy too.

The Greeks were a highly sculptured people, and without them we wouldn't have history. The Greeks also had myths. A myth is a young female moth.

Socrates was a famous old Greek teacher who went around giving people advice. They killed him. He later died from an overdose of wedlock which is apparently poisonous. After his death, his career suffered a dramatic decline.

In the first Olympic games, Greeks ran races, jumped, hurled biscuits, and threw the java. The games were messier then than they show on TV now.

Julius Caesar extinguished himself on the battlefields of Gaul. The Ides of March murdered him because they thought he was going to be made king. Dying, he gasped out: "Same to you, Brutus."

Joan of Arc was burnt to a steak and was canonized by Bernard Shaw for reasons I don't really understand. The English and French still have problems.

Queen Elizabeth was the "Virgin Queen," As a queen she was a success. When she exposed herself before her troops they all shouted "hurrah!" and that was the end of the fighting for a long while.

It was an age of great inventions and discoveries. Gutenberg invented removable type and the Bible. Another important invention was the circulation of blood.

Sir Walter Raleigh is a historical figure because he invented cigarettes and started smoking.

Sir Francis Drake circumcised the world with a 100 foot clipper which was very dangerous to all his men.

The greatest writer of the Renaissance was William Shakespeare. He was born in the year 1564, supposedly on his birthday. He never made much money and is famous only because of his plays. He wrote tragedies, comedies, and hysterectomies, all in Islamic pentameter.

Romeo and Juliet are an example of a heroic couple. They lived in Italy. Romeo's last wish was to be laid by Juliet but her father was having none of that that I'm sure. You know how Italian fathers are.

Writing at the same time as Shakespeare was Miguel Cervantes. He wrote Donkey Hote. The next great author was John Milton. Milton wrote Paradise Lost. Since then no one ever found it.

Delegates from the original 13 states formed the Contented Congress. Thomas Jefferson, a Virgin, and Benjamin Franklin were two singers of the Declaration of Independence. Franklin discovered electricity by rubbing two cats backward and also declared, "A horse divided against itself cannot stand." He was a naturalist for sure. Franklin died in 1790 and is still dead.

Abraham Lincoln became America's greatest Precedent. Lincoln's mother died in infancy, and he was born in a log cabin which he built with his own hands. Abraham Lincoln freed the slaves by signing the Emasculation Proclamation. On the night of April 14, 1865, Lincoln went to the theater and got shot in his seat by one of the actors in a moving picture show. They believe the assinator was John Wilkes Booth, a supposingly insane actor. This ruined Booth's career.

Johann Bach wrote a great many musical compositions and has a large number of children. In between he practiced on an old spinster which he kept up in his attic. Bach died from 1750 to the present. Bach was the most famous composer in the world and so was Handel. Handel was half German, half Italian, and half English. He was very large.

Beethoven wrote music even though he was deaf. He was so deaf that he wrote loud music and became the father of rock and roll. He took long walks in the forest even when everyone was calling for him. Beethoven expired in 1827 and later died for this.

The nineteenth century was a time of a great many thoughts and inventions. People stopped reproducing by hand and started reproducing by machine. The invention of the steamboat caused a network of rivers to spring up.

Cyrus McCormick invented the McCormick raper, which did the work of a hundred men.

Louis Pasteur discovered a cure for rabbits but I don't know why.

Charles Darwin was a naturalist. He wrote the Organ of the Species. It was very long and people got upset about it and had trials to see if it was really true. He sort of said God's days were not just 24 hours but without watches who knew anyhow? I don't get it.

Madman Curie discovered radio. She was the first woman to do what she did. Other women have become scientists since her but they didn't get to find radios because they were already taken.

Karl Marx was one of the Marx Brothers. The other three were in the movies. Karl made speeches and started revolutions. Someone in the family had to have a job, I guess.

Hi-tech Haiku

In Japan, they have replaced the impersonal and unhelpful Microsoft error messages with Haiku poetry messages. Haiku poetry has strict construction rules - each poem has only 17 syllables; 5 syllables in the first line, 7 in the second, 5 in the third. They are used to communicate a timeless message, often achieving a wistful, yearning and powerful insight through extreme brevity. Here are 13 actual error messages from Japan.

The Web site you seek
Cannot be located, but
Countless more exist.


Chaos reigns within.
Reflect, repent, and reboot.
Order shall return.


Program aborting:
Close all that you have worked on.
You ask far too much.


Windows NT crashed.
I am the Blue Screen of Death.
No one hears your screams.


Yesterday it worked.
Today it is not working.
Windows is like that.


Your file was so big.
It might be very useful.
But now it is gone.


Stay the patient course.
Of little worth is your ire.
The network is down.


A crash reduces
Your expensive computer
To a simple stone.


Three things are certain:
Death, taxes and lost data.
Guess which has occurred.


You step in the stream,
But the water has moved on.
This page is not here.


Out of memory.
We wish to hold the whole sky,
But we never will.


Having been erased,
The document you're seeking
Must now be retyped.


Serious error.
All shortcuts have disappeared.
Screen. Mind. Both are blank.

Isn't that better than "your computer has performed an illegal operation?"

Tuesday, June 12, 2007


God is the Master Artist
The sky is His canvas
The light is His paint

Kota Kinabalu

3 reasons why I like sunsets:

1. I don't have to wake up early to catch a sunset
2. The colours never fail to inspire
3. There's usually dinner after the show

Ah, a lotus

Nelumbo nucifera

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Once upon a lily...

He has showed you, O man, what is good.
And what does the LORD require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.

Micah 6:8