Changing Tyres – a safety tip from Michelin

31 05 2008

Most of us own and operate a car but how many of us actually know the proper way of maintaining this piece of machinery so you may operate it safely? Something as simple as improper inflation of tyres alone can cause a vehicle to become inherently more dangerous to drive. The right choice of tyres is more so important. Since most cars nowadays are front wheel driven, the front pair of tyres will exhibit encounter heavier wear in its life. So it is understandable that most of us will choose to change only a pair of tyres at a time. This is of course most economical practice. But how many of us know where to fit the new tyres we have just purchased? Ask yourself this question. I am betting most of us would have them installed on the front of the car. A good friend of mine does just this, change a pair of tyres at a time and mounts these new tyres on his front wheels. But unlike most drivers, he does have sound reasoning for doing so. However, a tyre company has produced a video discouraging this practice.

Michelin a French company famous for its tyres have produced a video educating thier customers on where to mount new tyres should they choose to change only a pair.

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RMAF MIG 29 @ Subang Airport

29 05 2008

Work stopped at Subang Airport when a pair of Royal Malaysian Air Force Sukhoi 30MKM MiG 29 (Fulcrum) visited us for a round of aerobatics over Subang Airport. I managed to capture some still pictures and a decent video with my camera.

Ok, maybe the still pictures were not so decent but the aircraft is recognizable. Hey, I only had my pocket camera with me. I am hoping they will pay us another visit today. It would be a nice break from the normal routine.

In case you’re wondering why they are practicing, I am guessing it is in preparation for the upcoming King’s Birthday celebrations. Time to charge the camera batteries and get some sleep.

Footnote:

This article originally carried the title RMAF Sukhoi…. but some one commented on my youtube account that it looks more like a Fulcrum. After careful examination of my pictures I now stand corrected. By the way I have always thought “Fulcrum” is an apt name for a bird of war. It has one of the highest rate of turn (23.5 degrees/second) of any fighter jets. And at 252 metres/second, it is also one of the highest rate of climb of any fighter jets. This means it could make a U-turn in 8 seconds and reach an altitude of 48,000 feet in just 1 minute!

The Mig’s were at it again today but I was too busy to photograph them.





Mother’s Ultimate Sacrifice

26 05 2008

For a few days now I wanted to write about the human drama that was unfolding in Myanmar and the Sichuan province of China Two places recently ravaged by catastrophic natural disasters.

Then yesterday I received this email from my sister and though the words are not my own I thought I would use it as my first posting about the earthquake in China. If anyone ever has doubt about a Mother’s Love, then these two stories will definitely dispel them. The first story was traslated by someone who said ” This story should not only stay within the Chinese community”. I am reproducing it here in the original Chinese and the English translation.

Violet
抢救人员发现她的时候,她已经死了,是被垮塌下来的房子压死的,透过那一堆废墟的的间隙可以看到她死亡的姿势,
When rescuers found her, she was already dead, crushed by the collapsed house. Through gaps in the rubbles, they could see her posture.
双膝跪着,整个上身向前匍匐着,双手扶着地支撑着身体,有些象古人行跪拜礼,只是身体被压的变形了,看上去有些诡异。
Kneeling on both knees, her entire upper body bent forward, held up by her two hands pressed against the ground, as if performing the ceremonial bow in an ancient ritual. Except, her body had been compressed out of shape and looked somewhat eerie.
救援人员从废墟的空隙伸手进去确认了她已经死亡,又在冲着废墟喊了几声,用撬棍在在砖头上敲了几下,里面没有任何回应。
A rescuer extended his hand through a gap and confirmed her death. He called out to her, and tapped on the bricks with his shaft, but received no response.
当人群走到下一个建筑物的时候,救援队长忽然往回跑,边跑变喊过来。他又来到她的尸体前,费力的把手伸进女人的身子底下摸索,
As the team walked toward next building, the squad leader suddenly turned back, yelling as he ran, “Come quick!” He came to her remain, labored to maneuver his hand under her body, searching.
他摸了几下高声的喊有人,有个孩子 还活着
He called out following some rummaging, “There’s someone, a child, still alive.”


经过一番努力,人们小心的把挡着她的废墟清理开,在她的身体下面躺着她的孩子,包在一个红色带黄花的小被子里,大概有34个月大,
With some effort, rescuers carefully removed the debris burying her, found her child lying beneath her, bundled in a little red blanket decorated with yellow flower prints. He was about 3-4 months old.
因为母亲身体庇护着,他毫发未伤,抱出来的时候,他还安静的睡着,他熟睡的脸让所有在场的人感到很温暖。
Shielded by his mother’s body , he was totally unharmed, sleeping peacefully as he was brought out. His soundly asleep face warmed the hearts of all rescuers on the scene.

随行的医生过来解开被子准备做些检查,发现有一部手机塞在被子里,医生下意识的看了下手机屏幕,发现屏幕上是一条已经写好的短信
As the rescue team’s doctor unbundled the blanket to examine the baby, he discovered a mobile phone tucked into the blanket. He subconsciously looked at the display, found there was a SMS message.

亲爱的宝贝,如果你能活着,一定要记住我爱你,看惯了生离死别的医生却在这一刻落泪了,手机传递着,每个看到短信的人都落泪了。
“My Dear Baby, If you were to stay alive, you must remember that I love you.” No stranger to the pain and sorrow brought by death, the doctor nonetheless wept at this moment. The cell phone was passed around, every person who read the message wept.

Attached is a photo of the baby.

I am not able to authenticate the story nor the picture but a brief search of the internet took me to this site.

The second story was published in a local paper (truth of which I cannot vouch for) called the Nanfang Dushi Paper and written by Yan Yan. I found it while trolling the internet for stories on the earthquake. Again I am reproducing the story as published on the net.

Young mother breastfed baby as she lay dying in the rubble

Gong Jin is a young obstetrician doctor working for Donghua Hospital, an affiliate of Zhongshan University. When the devastating earthquake struck Sichuan, he happened to be in Chengdu, the capital, on a family visit. Gong Jin became a volunteer rescuer in Dujiangyan city. For the past three days he was able to help over 200 people injured in the earthquake. When a reporter interviewed him, he was in shock from one particular experience.

In the afternoon of May 13th, he and a dozen rescuers were digging hard for survivors in a collapsed residential building. What he saw next was something he would never forget: A young mother was laying on her side in the rubble, with an infant girl about 3-4 months old in her arms. The mother had already died, with her head lowered and her shirt rolled up. The baby was still suckling at her breast. The baby’s healthy face was such a shocking contrast to her mother’s dust-covered lifeless face.

“When we carefully lifted the baby away, she cried, protesting loudly, the moment her lips left the mother’s nipple.” Gong Jin said. All the rescuers broke into tears upon watching this scene.

“I cannot imagine that a mother who had died was still nursing her baby. You can tell from her curved body that she was trying to protect her baby. Maybe she put her nipple into the baby’s mouth right before she passed away.” Gong Jin said, crying. One young doctor in his 30s, he has seen countless young mothers suckling their baby. Yet at this moment, a common scene that radiated happiness and love has reduced him to uncontrollable sorrow.

On May 16th, Gong Jin took part in the second rescue medical team sent to Mian Yang, using his skills as a doctor to save more lives and voicing out his encouragements to the victims.

Footnote:

In the coming days I will try to write about the disaster and human element unfolding in Myanmar and China. Although Typhoon Nargis struck Myanmar a full week before the earthquake that devastated Sichuan province in China, the stories and pictures coming out of Myanmar are totally lacking. This is due to the fact that Junta ruling that country has viciously prevented the outside world from providing direct aid to their people. And thus almost no records of the actual situation on the ground are available. The stories and pictures of the struggle for survival is hidden from world view. News reports from all over the world suggest that the reclusive Junta are suspicious of outside intervention in Myanmar for fear of their own survival as rulers of the country. To me, that in itself is proof that they do not deserve to be in power. For a bunch of army generals to put self interest before the suffering of millions of their own people is crime against humanity.





Too sexy for school?

25 05 2008

About a week ago Munirah Bahari who is Vice President of the National Islamic Students Association of Malaysia had this to say about school uniforms, “The white blouse is too transparent for girls and it becomes a source of attraction,”. She goes on further to say that, “It becomes a distraction to men, who are drawn to it, whether or not they like looking at it,” and is calling for a review of uniform policy so that it did not violate Islamic ideals. One question Mrs. Munirah, how can one be drawn to something they cannot see? I am assuming you are married. So I also ask this question, “Was your husband attracted to you BEFORE he ever saw you?”

Do you know what is the largest sexual organ we humans possess? No, No, you men do not have to compare anymore…..the size of the brain is about the same for almost everyone. Yes, our imagination hidden away is one of the most powerful arousal tool there is to mankind. If there was a club where everybody had to be nude, I would bet that not many male members of this club would be walking around with a handkerchief hanger. Not for very long anyway. You see, when there is nothing left for the imagination, the largest sexual organ, our brain, is not aroused. In simple terms, we men get bored out of our minds. So with that in mind (pun intended) I would like to propose our Malaysian schools adopt the following and readily available school uniforms. . .
No I am not joking, the one on the right is what the Japanese school girls wear in the winter! Just look at the following picture.

Now I admit the high cut snow boots and socks do cover up too much and our neurons would fire up like a V8 engine on nitro, but don’t fret Mrs. Munirah, there is no need for our girls to wear snow boots. Andthe uniform review can mandate only ankle length socks to be worn with the current low cut shoes. These uniforms are already available in bulk from Japan and on the internet. Mrs. Munirah, you could order one online and try it our for your husband to see if he approves.

To Mrs. Munirah and everyone else interested in the future of our next generation, there are many more problems plaguing our public school system that lack attention. Student discipline is at an all time low, while juvenile cigarette and drug addiction is at a high, teaching standards are deteriorating and command of the English language is almost non existent . . . amongst teachers! Get the children interested in their studies, challenge them to think out of the box, get them active in sports and involved in community work and I am sure they will have little time left for “other” pursuits. . . at least until their hormones kick in. And no decent dress code in the world is going to keep that at bay.





Racing Lines . . . Racial Lines

21 05 2008

I first wrote this piece a few weeks ago and posted it on a friends’ blog. I have edited it several times since then. I have decided to post the piece here as I feel that I need to take possession of an idea that I have felt strongly about since I was in school, and it is this…black, yellow, white, brown we are all brothers and sisters in a family with but one home, Malaysia. And despite our differences we are more alike. If only we are brave enough to allow others into our hearts and minds, we would realise that we are all kindred souls. Instead, our leaders and ultimately we ourselves have chosen to emphasize the former. I hope this piece will make a difference….

Racing lines….Racial lines

It is a well known fact that the shortest route between 2 points is a straight line. But it is not necessarily the fastest. In motor racing be it on 2 or 4 wheels, a racing line on a racing track is not a straight line. In fact around a particularly tight corner, a racing line is described as one which allows for the largest turning radius.

In the last 50 years we Malaysians have described each other along racial lines. Why? Is it because like racing lines, this is the easiest route, the fastest? And by doing so have we inadvertently propagated the very notion that only certain races be in these roles? Nothing else is more infusive in our society than race. Even religion takes a back seat. Hell, even as the Brits were about to hand us back our country we demanded a “social contract” be written out. A so called “social contract” that divides us racially to this very day. I wonder who signed that bloody document? What does it say anyway? I want to know. As a result, 50 years down the road Malaysians describe themselves first and foremost by their race, we are more apart then we have drawn together. Mention money changers and you’ll picture an Indian sitting inside a dingy booth, mention a VCD seller and he’s definitely Chinese. Government servant asked for coffee money? Police ask for a bribe? – your brains will be screaming “bloody good for nothing Malay”. Don’t lie, I do. Almost all professions in Malaysia are drawn along Racial Lines. Have you ever seen an Indian own an electrical appliance outlet? A Malay sell you mobile phones? Well, maybe you have, if you happen to be in the back street of the city and the guy selling it to you has only ONE model, and starts his sales pitch with a “pssst”. There are probably less than a handful of non Malays in the police or armed forces and probably no Malays running a goldsmith shop. The list is almost endless. Try renting a house in Subang Jaya/USJ. There are landlords there who will only rent out to Chinese! I know, I have tried.

So are we really ready to give up the racing line and allow someone the chance to overtake? Are we willing to ease of the throttle just a little to give the other some breathing space, a chance to accelerate around the next corner? Or are we going to hog that racing line and force him to brake hard….impede his progress even though he is the better man…but happens to be behind at the moment.

Sure we are fed up of the current and corrupt government. Sure we want a freer Press who will write the truth as they see it. Sure, we are all fed up with the same diatribe “You cannot trust the Chinese!”, “Malays can’t work to save themselves!” “Bloody drunk Indians!” . A whole generation of people have grown up hearing this, it is almost infectious. In fact it is.

Our children are learning discrimination and its vitriolic language from us. Unless we change, consciously, we will unconsciously breed a whole new generation of racist.

Motor racing is a serious sport, both participant and spectator stand a chance of getting hurt, seriously hurt. The Racial Game is far more dangerous and unproductive. I hope we can stop this dangerous and unproductive game. But are we really ready to do so? Then we must put aside our sensitivities and address the racial issues, openly and honestly, in order that we may put it right once and for all.

I yearn for the day that we become blind….colour blind.

I give you this video by a few local Malaysian who are able present the same aspirations in a more artistic form.





Wesak

20 05 2008

Wesak day fell on the 19th of May this year. And for the first time I visited a Buddhist Temple near my house on Wesak Day. Wesak Day (or Vesak) is also sometimes called Buddha’s Birthday. It is also known as the Day of Enlightenment. On this day Buddhist around the world celebrate the birth, enlightenment and the passing of Buddha. I have only ever visited this temple a few times although it is situated a few hundred metres from the school I used to attend. If memory serves me, the first time I visited this temple was during an outing organized by my school. The temple is impressive in that it stands on a hill overlooking a park nearby.

With the exception of Thaipusam few religious celebrations are as colourful as Wesak. I had gone around to the temple at around 11 a.m that morning but the crowd was too big and the temperatures were soaring. I finally got to the temple at around 5 p.m, taking along my camera. Here are some of the pictures I took of the occasion.

monk

A young monk walking toward the temple

The devotees ring the bells and drop coins into the jars below

Coins are sorted and put into plastic bags

Because of the many temporary structures that were built around the temple for the occasion, none of the pictures I took of the temple do it justice. I shall endeavour to visit it again and take better ones. One of the more significant theme of the day is the giving of alms and this is done in various ways. Devotees sometimes exchange paper money for a plastic bag of coins which are then dropped into many of the jars and boxes around the temple complex. My only hope is that the temple could do away with use of plastic bags in future. Think of it as being charitable to the cause of nature.

Blessing given by monks in saffron robes.

In the main hall of the temple monks are seen giving out blessings and tying pieces of coloured string on the wrists of devotees. I must remember to ask my Buddhists friends what is the significance of this.

Young aspiring monks taking some time out

As noticed earlier, there were many ways devotees could choose in the giving of alms on Wesak day. You could opt to light wick placed in a bowl light oil (not sure what its called) or cover a statuette with gold leaves. You can purchase these gold leaves for about RM 4. I wonder if they are real McCoy. Did you know you can consume silver or gold?

The temple was inaugurated by the His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej in the Buddhist Era 2505 which is 1961 in the Roman calender. The statue of Buddha in the main temple was donated from his own palace.





The Horses Arse

19 05 2008

As an engineer I deal with gauges almost everyday. Be it in reading off an instrument or replacing a wire, almost everything has a gauge. These gauges have become the standard for so long that we have taken them for granted and never question why they were so in the first place. And so when a very dear friend of mine sent me the following story I was very amused. Read on.

THE IMPORTANCE OF A HORSE’S ARSE

RAILROADS

“Does the statement, “We’ve always done it like that” ring any bells?

The US standard railroad gauge (distance between the rails) is 4 feet, 8.5inches.

That’s an exceedingly odd number. Why was that gauge used?

Expatriates built the US Railroads.

Why did the English build them like that?*

Because the first rail lines were built by the same people who built the pre-railroad tramways, and that’s the gauge they used.

Why did “they” use that gauge then?*

Because the people who built the tramways used the same jigs and tools that they used for building wagons, which used that wheel spacing.

Okay! Why did the wagons have that particular odd wheel spacing?

Well, if they tried to use any other spacing, the wagon wheels would break on some of the old, long distance roads in England, because that’s the spacing of the wheel ruts.

So who built those old rutted roads?

Imperial Rome built the first long distance roads in Europe (and England) for their legions. The roads have been used ever since.

And the ruts in the roads?*

Roman war chariots formed the initial ruts, which everyone else had to match for fear of destroying their wagon wheels. Since the chariots were made for Imperial Rome , they were all alike in the matter of wheel spacing.

The United States standard railroad gauge of 4 feet, 8.5 inches is derived from the original specifications for an Imperial Roman war chariot. And bureaucracies live forever.

So the next time you are handed a specification and wonder what horse’s ass came up with it, you may be exactly right, because the Imperial Roman army chariots were made just wide enough to accommodate the back ends of two war horses !

Now, the twist to the story

When you see a Space Shuttle sitting on its launch pad, there are two big booster rockets attached to the sides of the main fuel tank. These are solid rocket boosters, or SRBs.

The SRBs are made by Thiokol at their factory at Utah. The engineers who designed the SRBs would have preferred to make them a bit fatter, but the SRBs had to be shipped by train from the factory to the launch site.

The railroad line from the factory happens to run through a tunnel in the mountains.

The SRBs had to fit through that tunnel.

The tunnel is slightly wider than the railroad track, and the railroad track, as you now know, is about as wide as two horses’ behinds.

So, a major Space Shuttle design feature of what is arguably the world’s most advanced transportation system was determined over two thousand years ago by the width of a horse’s ass.

– And –

You thought being a HORSE’S ASS wasn’t important!