Tropical Island Holiday

30 11 2008

After some light pestering by a friend, I followed him on a holiday to a nearby tropical island. We left early morning friday and stayed on till noon Sunday (today).  Not exactly my idea of a tropical island paradise but it was still quite relaxing, and certainly help a few surpirses for me. At the very least it was a welcome change from the dirty city I come from. So guess where I was over the last 3 days? Here are the first few pictures. I will post more later.

Palm trees

Palm trees

Sandy beaches

Sandy beaches

Can’t guess yet? Well, I went down to Singapore. Nobody really calls it a tropical island getaway but it does qualify. It’s an island and it’s in the tropics! The pictures above were taken at a beach on Sentosa Island. Except for a huge tract of land alienated to exclusive private housing, I really liked what they have done with the island. Lots of green, lots of sandy beaches and entertainment.

Showers

Showers

Honestly Singapore seems very artificial but I love how they have managed to provide clean and efficient public facilities to a population of 3 million. Look at the toilets and showers provided at the beach on Sentosa Island. Super clean and comfortable. Even in a country with a chronic shortage of land, they have managed to provide a large waiting cum changing area. The showers and toilets are located further back in the above picture. And all this for almost free. There was a S$2 charge per personn on entry to the island itself. I guess this pays for the upkeep of all the public facilities you find on the island.

We decided to try out some of the other attractions they have on the island. On the west side of Sentosa situated on a hill is a viewing platform called the Tiger Sky Tower.

tiger-3tiger-1tiger-2

The revolves at about 1 RPM as it goes up the tower and stays up for about 5 minutes. At a height  of 131 metres above sea level, the platform is touted to be the highest viewing deck in Singapore. Here are some of the pictures I took from the tower as it spun around.

resorts-world

What you see in the picture above is the future casino by Resorts World. It is slated to be operational in 2010. So Gentings will still be the only corporation running legal casino’s in South East Asia. You can see the bridge allowing vehicular traffic to and from the island at the top left hand side of the picture.

sunset

This is probably the best picture i took in my time in Singapore. I guessI was lucky to have been on the viewing deck at sunset.

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The Life and Times Of Grizzly Adams

24 11 2008

Back when I was ten, life was much simpler. There were no personal computers, just books, no digital cameras, just film, not many cars on the road, not many roads either, in fact the grass verge along the road to school was wider than the road itself. I used to take a school bus home until i was old enough to ask my father for permission to walk home. And why not? The roads back then were tree lined all the way back to my house! Life was indeed much simpler then. There were no internet chat, just real friends, there were no mobile phones, no sms, just real face to face conversations. And then there was Grizzly Adams. It was a show that personified the simplicity of life back then, to a young boy of ten at least. But strangely enough it still does. How I wish those days were back.

The life and Times of Grizzly Adams was a television series that told of the story of a real man called James Adams who lived in the American outback in the 1850’s. It is a story of a man who forced to leave society (as simple as it was back then) and seek refuge in the depth of the forest. With no knowledge of survival he risked his life to save an orphaned grizzly bear cub which then became hsi lifelong companion in the forest. It was said that he had gone deeper into the forests of North America than any other white men had. I remember bits of the story where he made his first campfire and nearly killed himself by setting off a bush fire. He was easily tracked by native indians in the area who deemed him harmless. Slowly he and the bear (with the help of the natives) learnt the ways of the forest. You can read more about the television series and the real story here.

The story has had such an impact on my life that almost everytime I reminisce about the days gone by, the theme song to Grizzly Adams come back to mind. Here is a sample of the song and how the main actors looked liked back in 1977.

Its nice to know that the show had a lifelong affect on others like me. The song  “Maybe” is written and sang by Thom Pace. If like me, you can’t get enough of the song, here he is singing the song in it’s entirety.

The days when life was simpler are truly gone now. The road I used to walk back on now has lost it’s grassy verge to another 2 lanes of traffic. Not many peoeple read books anymore.  And the lovely green trees that lined the roads in my town have all but gone.





General Motors’ Scare Tactics

20 11 2008

They say a drowning man will grab hold of anything to save himself. That is why it is recommended that a lifesaver approach such a person from behind otherwise in his attempt to save themselves, grabbing on to the lifesaver will lead to drowning risk to both the rescuer and rescuee.

It would seem that American auto producer General Motors is a drowning man in the current economic tsunami which is threatening to engulf the whole world. Why do I say this? Watch the next 2 videos and decide for yourself.

And this is the scare video by GM that the guy in the above video was referring to.

Yes this is the same company that gave the world the HUmmer H1, H2 and now H3. Just see what wikipedia has to say about the fuel economy of the H2. 17 litres per 100 kilometres on the highway and 24 litres per 100 kilometres in the city. That translates to a fuel economy of between 4 to 6 km/litre! And the Ford Taurus the guy in the first video was referring to? As you can see from the link I provided the 2008 model has a 3.5 litre V6 engine that produces 263 horsepower. Consumption figures translate to 8 km/litre city driving and 12 km/litre on the highway. Earlier models were known to be much much more thirstier.
Here in Malaysia and the rest of South East Asia, the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry are seen as very  large sedans. But did you know that these two cars are classed as “Mid Sized” sedans in the United States? Don’t believe it? Check this article on Yahoo and read the second sentence in the fourth paragraph.

By their own admission General Motors have said that they now have enough cash reserves to operate till the end of 2008. That means that GM has just over one month before it has to file for protection under Chapter 11 bankruptcy laws. This is also probably the case with the other 2 auto giants Ford and Chrysler Motors. But far from asking or begging to be saved (a polite word for bailed out), General Motors has THREATENED the American taxpayers to save them….or else. The production of video itself is an act of desperation.

Does the America or the world need such a company or indeed such companies that produce such wasteful and polluting products especially in the light of Global Warming? My personal opinion? Well, I would think it better if the Government does not bail out The Big Three as they are often referred to. They would then have to file for bankruptcy protection under Chapter 11 which will force them to reorganise. Maybe, just maybe they will learn a lesson from this and start producing vehicles which are more in tune with the times.





Cooking Oil Fire – A safety video

17 11 2008

Asian cooking calls for a lot of frying in the kitchen especially here in Malaysia.  The Chinese love to deep fry their food using very high heat so as to deep fry the outside of, say a fish, while keeping it’s flesh  moist. How many times have you seen tongues of flame from the stove rise way way above the height of the cook in some of the restaurant you go to? The Malays and Indians fare no better with their long and deep frying methods. Surprisingly there are very few reported incidents of cooking oil fires.

Like all oils, various cooking oils have their own unique “self ignition temperature”. This is the temperature at which all materials self ignite and start to burn. And because the whole mass of this material has reached this temperature, the flames become rather intense. Most cooking oils self ignite between 310 and 370 degrees Celcius (590 – 698 degrees Farenhiet). when properly controlled, normal frying actually happens when the oils are at about 180 degrees Centigrade. However, it is when cooking is left unattended that the danger starts.

No matter what we use to fuel our stoves, be it wood, kerosene, liquid natural gas or electricity, it is the colour of the flame that determnes the flame temperature or element temperature as in the case of the electric stove. A dull red flame has a temperature of 550 degrees C while a yellowish red flame has a temperature of about 1000 degrees C. With these temperatures present, it would not take long to heat the oil to it’s self ignition point.

Now you might think, “Why did he go through a lengthy explanation to show how easily cooking oil can reach these dangerous temperatures?”. Well, how many of us actually know these temperatures? And more importantly, how many of us know the proper method of extinguishing a COOKING OIL FIRE ? Some of you might even have bought a fire extinguisher and taught your family members (especially Mom) how to use it. But in fact, a fire extinguisher is the last thing she should be pointing at the cooking oil fire. Because almost all types of fire extinguisher uses what we call a propellent to “propel” the extinguishant out of the nozzle, there is a great possibility of splashing the burning oil onto a wider area. Throwing water onto an oil fire does exactly the same.  Just watch this short but interesting video.

You’ll notice that the lady who narrates the whole video was herself a victim of such a fire. She could easily be a member of your own family. So for those of you who are watching this, please do show your loved ones this video or train them how to extinguish an ever present but necessary fire hazard present in all our homes. As you can see in the demonstration, all you need cloth soaked in water big enough to cover the wok or pan holding the burning oil.





Poisonous Plastics

10 11 2008

One of my first articles when I started this blog was about a chemical known Bisphenol A or more commonly known as BPA. Back then not many people ever heard of this chemical much less how it was used. Bispenol A is used in the production of some plastics we use in our daily lives. You can read my article here to find out how to identify plastics which use this chemical. Recently Canada decided there was enough proof of the danger posed by this chemical to warrant a ban on the sale and import of infant milk bottles which contain the chemical.

Since I wrote on this subject back in April the world population has found out rather horrifyingly how chemicals are being misused in the production of food and other consumer items. Thousands of infants were sickened and a few died from drinking Melamine laced milk in China. Since the first discovery of it’s illegal use, Melamine has now been found in many other products around the world. It is has now been discovered in animal feed, beef and chicken eggs and even Cadbury Chocolates!

So have we been taught a lesson? Are we more “aware’ of the chemicals that we come in contact with and surreptiticiously made to consume?  I think not. I came by an article in Yahoo Green today which prompted me to write this article. Even I was not aware that some plastic wraps used in the storage of food were made of Polyvinyl Chloride or PVC which in turn is a known male reproductive system toxicant! That should make some of you squirm and check the plastic containers before drinking or eating from them.

There is no denying we now live in a Chemical Culture where almost everything we touch is artificial and produced using many chemicals. Even some of the clothes we wear are made of synthetic material containing several types of plastics and chemicals. We cannot help but come in contact with them but we can help ourselves stay healthy and safe by being informed and spreading the word. Read the article in Yahoo Green by clicking on the link I provided. The article shows you how to identify the different types of plastics used in consumer products. The article goes further to suggest that we do NOT use plastics of any kind in microwave ovens and to allow food to cool before storing them in plastic containers.





A Change has Arrived

5 11 2008

obama-win-2-xo-spiritBy noon today on this side of the planet, the world was greeted with the news that Barack Husain Obama has won the American Presidential Election 2008. The first ever Black or coloured man to win the highest post in the country. And he won it by a landslide of 349 to 144 electoral votes with only 84% of the votes counted. Truly a change has come to the United States. Not more than 50 years ago the black people were still being persecuted in America. And it was only in 1965 with the Voting Rights Act were the black and other minority groups in the United States given “1 vote for 1 person”. And today, the 5th of November 2008, a black man stands as the next President of America.

lewis-hamilton

Earlier this week, another black man, also set the sporting world ablaze by being the first black man to be crowned the Formula One World Champion. Despite (in my opinion) being constantly hounded and persecuted by the race stewards and officials, punished unfairly for what is nothing more than agressive driving (it’s not a sunday morning drive to the park guys!), Briton Lewis Hamilton won the most coveted title in the racing world by 1 point. He is also now the youngest world champion.





America Votes

4 11 2008

Today the 4th of November is polling day in all the 50 states of the United States of America. Millions of Americans have already cast their votes to choose their next President and millions more, some 160 million will cast their votes today. Who will it be? Barack Obama or John McCain?

obamajohn-mccain

Well, a few weeks ago a friend of mine sent me a link that allowed anybody to “vote” for the next American President. The owners of the site postulated that the person chosen to be the next American President would control the world’s richest and most powerful country in the world and therefore the world’s population should be allowed to vote too! Well, I cast my “vote”  and upon checking the results then, the poll showed that Mr. Barack Obama winning by 3 to 1. Score another one to the power of the internet. Never before has it been possible to get an opinion poll from a large cross section of the world with such ease.

Listening to the radio on the way back from work today, I heard the comentator refer to the same internet poll which I took part in. It seems that Mr. Obama’s popularity amongst those who took part has increased to a whopping 5 to 1 agianst John McCain. Seems that a lot of people voted the way I did.

It was mentioned that a similiar poll was carried out among a section of the Malaysian population recently and it turns out that we would have voted Obama by a margin of 9 to 1. Well, in a couple of hours the world would know if the Americans share their views on who should be the next President of the World…. errr sorry, the United States. Anyway, God help the next president because with the current economic climate he might no longer be in control of the world’s most richest country!

For those of you interested to follow the latest results of the American Election you can go to this Political Dashboard put up by Yahoo.