Speed Demons on Highway 2

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(There is always a limit to everything we do and a limit to speeding is there for obvious reasons. Slow down and you will live longer. Some idiots would never learn no matter what happens when one speeds over the speed limit on the highway)

Driving on Malaysian highways often promises a good story for this blog and it is the case for this week and one that deal with speed demons on highways. About 9 years ago, I had a close encounter with a speed demon and a recent trip north saw  another close encounter with another speed demon.

But first read this first:-

At least 37 people were killed when a bus in a mountainous area of Malaysia plunged into a ravine on Wednesday, the country’s Bernama news agency said, citing rescue officials. There also were 16 people injured, and they were sent to hospitals, the report said.

There were 53 people on board. Among the dead were Bangladeshi, Thai and Chinese nationals. The bus driver also died. The bus was descending from Genting Highlands when it fell into a 200-feet-deep ravine, Bernama reported. The incident occurred near the capital, Kuala Lumpur.

(Source)

Back in August last year, the country saw one of the worst accident relating to express buses. Before that, back in 2011, there was another horrible accident involving express/tour buses where 28 people perished. And beginning this year when it comes to express buses, it was not good news either:-

Three people died and at least 14 injured when an express bus they were travelling in crashed at KM107.2 of the North-South Expressway, from Pagoh to Yong Peng today. The bus driver was believed to have lost control of the vehicle, causing it to crash into a railing and landing at the side of the highway at about 2pm.

The Star Online reported that the bus was travelling from Kuala Lumpur to Johor with 17 passengers, including a number of foreigners. Two men and a 10-year-old boy were killed while seven passengers suffered serious injuries.

(Source)

Last weekend, we had to do a quick trip up North and it was sort of a last minute decision.

My mother in law was not well and my wife despite postponing the call to go and visit her somehow knew that time was up to visit her mother. So instead of going during CNY when one can expect sheer madness on highways, we decided to go one week earlier and come back the very next day. The highway was almost empty and we actually had empty tables at the famed R&R. There was the usual big bike convoys dominating the fast lane and having little care for the 110 km/h speed limit. The same went to Singapore registered cars – they were driving on the fast lane like they were on a private race track. The same also went to those with luxury car where the RM300 ticket for speeding would hardly made any dent on their pockets.

It was not the first time I encounter them but I seriously think that some of the idiots who uses the highway should be barred from using vehicles for life. I mean if they are bloody ignorant of the law, then at least they should have some common sense. They would either drive above the speed limit like their back is on fire (or hog the fast lane) and when confronted with another faster vehicle, they would dash into the slower lane without sense of space or the courtesy to put on the indicators to warn the slower traffic on the left. Some would cut in too close for comfort, completely ignoring the fact that there is another vehicle on the slow lane.

Then towards Ipoh, we saw something that left us speechless. There was a car overtook us on the fast lane and I know it was driven above the speed limit (I was already driving at 110 km/h then). Following just behind that speeding car is a police car but that too is driven above the speed limit. Well, I am fine with that but what irked me was that the police did nothing to pull over the speeding car and give the driver a speeding ticket. Perhaps the policeman had a bad stomach ache and rushing to the nearest toilet. Perhaps. But then again, it sends the wrong message and if the enforcement agencies keeps one eyes closed, you can be assured that there would not be the end of fiery deaths on the highway.

The stay with the in-laws was pretty short (it usually do, ha ha) but enough for me to take a good break for the trip back. My wife had fulfilled her part of the obligation and that was good enough, at least for now. The next day as usual we decided to leave early to KL. My sister in law and her 2 year old daughter followed us back and since there was plenty of space in my car, we were more than happy to accommodate them. I hardly drove more than 90 km/h and kept to the 110 km/h speed limit at certain part of the highway. And with a good selection of songs in my flash drive, it was a relaxing ride back.

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(It took mere minutes for these 2 buses – there is another in front of this bus – to disappear from my sight despite we were traveling at about 110 km/h)

Some kilometers before Behrang (about 11.20 am on Sunday), I noticed something on my rear mirrors – not one but two speeding high deck express buses (High deck just like the high deck bus where 28 people died back in 2011). Knowing on how they usually fly through on the fast lane (and sometimes on the slow lane, adding the risks to other road users), I maintained on the middle lane and I was already cruising at 100 – 110 km/h. The first bus (Aeroline) bus flies through on the slow lane and quickly cut into the middle lane, a few paces in front of me. The second bus came right behind my car in the middle lane and started to flash his headlights (if we has stopped, I would bashed his head for coming up so close, endangering me and my family and flashing his headlights like a big dirty bully). He was trying to bully me to move over from the middle lane but since it was not safe to move over, I continued to drive on the middle lane, hoping that the idiot would move over on the fast lane. After all, he was faster than me – both buses was flying at about 140 km/h!

I got my son to snap some photos to be passed over to JPJ (hopefully they will blacklist these drivers) whilst I concentrated on driving. And I was quite angry too. Not only the idiots were endangering me and other road users with their deadly driving, they were also endangering the passengers. But the, when I went to Aeroline’s website, I read the biggest joke from the company titled “Safety”:-

AEROLINE coaches are built on high quality imported Scania (Sweden)chassis. AEROLINE operates its very own dedicated maintenance facility that is manned by experienced mechanics to maintain the coaches to our own standards, by using only quality parts.

Furthermore, each AEROLINE captain is hand picked and undergo regular training and monitoring. With the aid of GPS tracking system, our command centre is able to monitor the operation of each bus in real time, thus ensuring every journey a safe one.

(Source)

Ya right, perhaps who ever wrote that “safety” statement should hand pick himself to take up a trip in their Aeroline buses where driving at more than 140 km/h and weaving in & out dangerously on a high deck buses meant nothing for these drivers. One wrong move weaving in and out of traffic or one tire blow out or encounter with one inexperienced driver and you will have another 20 – 30 passenger on the ditch and dead. No matter what the politicians, the bus company owners & management and the public may say after a tragedy, it will not bring back the dead. But unfortunately Aeroline is not the only bus company that I noticed speeding above the speed limit (but that does not mean they are not guilty of sheer recklessness). Another bus (from another bus company) just behind these Aeroline buses was also speeding at 140 km/h and was also weaving in and out of traffic. Within minutes, all these buses had disappeared from our sight as far as we can see up front.

And one main reason for this is because there is a serious lapse of enforcement. It is a fact that we fare badly when it comes to enforcement and it is not due to the laziness of the enforcement agencies. Sometimes the need for a stricter enforcement is curtailed, not by shortcomings of the enforcement agencies but rather due to the short sighted & (very, very) dumb politicians who flip-flops enforcement related policies on weak reasons and shout for all the wrong reasons.

This is where we have to relook into the implementation of the Automated Enforcement System (AES) on a larger scale. This is where also, rather unfortunately, the Pakatan fellows failed us miserably – yes, initially there seemed to be some “questions” in awarding the AES implementation to the private companies but that was not the main concern here. It was clear that the Pakatan politicians were barking on the wrong tree and had been asking all the wrong questions. The main concern is to ensure a strict adherence to the traffic rules and AES would have provided that unbiased, all weather, 24 x 7 automated enforcement that the other enforcement agencies may not been to able to provide effectively.

And now, nation wide AES implementation seemed to be on hold and that is allowing more idiots to break the traffic laws on a greater scale. They know that they cannot be caught (forget the yearly Ops Sikap – one, it is done during major holidays when the highways are packed thus reducing the opportunity to fly like you were on a race track and two, these drivers know that the police is out there in a greater force to nab these offenders) . That is why on other “non festival” days bus drivers like the above Aerobus drivers do not hesitate for a second to drive dangerously on the highways and endangering others on the road. Some unlucky ones end up killing their passengers and the whole vicious cycles starts again.

And there is another aspect of strict enforcement, ahem, since Najib been going around saying that the Government does not enough money for subsidies and what not. The more drivers nabbed for violation of traffic rules (and trust me, you will get a truckload of them without a sweat), the more fines can be collected and these money can be re-used for critical Government expenses (flying the fat lady overseas in private jets however does not count).

Just imagine that in the first 1 week of the AES in operation, it captured 63,558 offenses (an average of one offense every two-and-a-half minutes). Even if you use a modest RM50 fine per offense (speeding ticket will cost RM300), the Government can easily collect RM300,000 per week. Imagine how much they can collect on monthly basis. That is a lot of money that can be used again to beef up enforcement (more AES cameras) and make the roads safer again. Insurance claims has not been cheap as well – “net claims paid out for bodily injury and property damage due to road accidents in the first nine months of 2013 have risen to RM4.1 billion, compared to RM3.68 billion in the same period in 2012”.

We may have one of the best highways in the region (we still do) but we also have the 3rd world mentality when it comes to using them in the right way and in a safe way. You can be rest assured that you going to have more buses speeding above the speed limit and more deaths from unsafe speeding vehicles if attitude and enforcement does not change.

Please keep this mind as you balik kampung this Chinese New Year. Enjoy the holidays and have a plenty of rest.

NAP 2014: Talk of Cheap Cars Again

Read these first:-

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(The hard cold facts of EEVs – have we considered the pros and cons of using EEVs? After all, the buzz word of NAP 2014 is EEV which is not a bad thing if you ask me and holds many benefits, both for the industry, consumer and the environment. But the thing is, will we put the right effort on implementing what we have planned and deliver cheaper car in the end? Image source: http://visual.ly)

If you can recall before the elections, reducing price of the car was something that both side of the fence promised to entice the voters. Err, sorry that was not case really – what actually happened was this, it was something that Pakatan had initiated (it was a good proposal too) and when people had warmed to the idea, BN found themselves pushed to a corner and promised the same thing (some how, strangely earlier they were against cheaper cars). They said they were wiser and promised price reduction for many other things – toll being one of it. But in the end, all those items that should have cost cheaper, ended up costing more (although the toll increase seems to be on hold at the moment but it may not be for long). They were indeed wiser and the voters who voted for them were made to look like fools.

Then recently in 2014, we got this:-

The National Automotive Policy (NAP) announced today that it is committed to a gradual reduction of prices ranging between 20% and 30% over the next five years. However, Inter¬national Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed, who announced it, stopped short of giving details on how the reduction would come about.

“We are constantly reviewing our fiscal position. Our deficit level is now 4%. In the event our revenue improves, we may review the excise duty. “We will reduce excise duty gradually over a period of time,” he told reporters after announcing NAP 2014 here today.

NAP 2014’s key objective is to make Malaysia a regional automotive hub for energy-efficient vehicles (EEVs), to be achieved by issuing manufacturing licences (ML) to all car companies without any engine capacity restrictions. This will be followed with customised incentives for each investor coming into the country, which will eventually contribute towards a lowering of EEV car prices in the country.

On Approved Permits (APs), Mustapa said the government will conduct an in-depth study on the issue to assess the impact of the termination on bumiputera participation in the automotive industry. “We are not backtracking. We will be doing a thorough study which will start after Chinese New Year,” he said, adding that NAP 2009 had specified the termination of open APs by Dec 31, 2015 and Franchise APs by Dec 31, 2020.

(Source)

Now where did we saw that very similar looking promise to reduce the price of cars? So what does this really means to all of us?

One, it looks like price of cars will NOT be coming down anytime soon (soon means in the coming months instead of the coming years) BUT they have promise to bring it down in the next 5 years, interestingly just before the next general elections. Don’t you feel a sense of déjà vu? So, you guys want to trust them again with the so-called promise of gradual reduction in the next 5 years? What stopping them from postponing this plan to reduce the price after the elections?

One thing that NAP 2014 seemed to have missed in making vehicles more affordable is the structure of car financing in this country (if it is there and I have missed it, please let me know). The current method of installment computation using flat rest (upfront interest) should be abolished. They should instead apply the same monthly rest method used for housing loans (month end interest computation). If a car cost RM100,000 (let’s assume 100% financing) with an interest rate of 5% and the financing period of 5 years, the monthly installment from the 2 methods would be as follows:-

Upfront interest method – ((RM100,000 x 5% x 5) + RM100,000)/60 = RM2,084
Month end interest computation – using the PMT formula = RM1,887

There is a difference of almost RM200 per month. Yes, the banks earns less every month but this also means the consumer is paying less. In total (for that 5 years), the financing cost is lower by almost RM12,000 and that is a lot of money, if you ask me. Money can be offset against higher petrol, toll and maintenance cost. There is no need for a very long financing period too if the monthly installment is lower. Some of us are forced to take 7 – 9 years of hire purchase just to own a decent safe car. And for those may opt to pay higher installment, the settlement of the loan would be faster. Further by using upfront interest method, the consumer loses more if he settles earlier towards the end of the loan cycle. Those who is familiar with the Rule 78 will understand this and in 2001, a Bill was even introduced in US that would eliminate the use of the Rule of 78s formula in credit transactions, for obvious reason:-

But your payout amount won’t be what you deserve. The reason? Using the “Rule of 78s” method, your lender applies more of your previous payments toward interest and less of your previous payments toward principal.

Since less is applied toward principal, the amount you owe will be higher than expected. The earlier you try to pay off one of these loans the more you’ll have to pay. The higher the interest rate, the more that payoff amount is going to hurt.

“If it had overcharged the lender and undercharged the consumer, it would have disappeared decades ago,” says Jean Ann Fox, director of consumer protection for Consumer Federation of America. “It’s a dirty little secret.”

(Source)

In Malaysia, we are still stuck to the upfront interest computation and the use of Rule 78 and so far, the Government have not introduced any restrictions on this. At the end, the consumer do pay more to own a car. Add this with the overpriced car (no thanks to AP and excise duties), the cost of owning a car is very expensive indeed in Malaysia. This somehow is missing from NAP 2014 although this has a direct implications on the industry.

Two, there is no clear decision on abolishing the APs although the Minister did mention “something” will happen on Open APs in December 2015 (that’s about 2 years from now). So let’s see if something do happens next year or as usual, it gets swept under the carpet. After all, if the Minister comes back and say “We need to do this study. We have to take the views of automotive industry stakeholders including bumiputera participants and the impact of the AP termination”, you probably want to hold back your celebrations. We all know who the stakeholders are and there is only a handful of them (we even had AP Queen once) but somehow this takes precedent over the many Malaysians who owns a car (with a ratio of 200 cars for every one thousand people, Malaysia ranks among countries with high car ownership ratio in the region. We have more than 22 million vehicles)

Back in 2005, Paul Tan wrote about this and nothing much have changed since then:-

Let’s use Honda cars for example. In Malaysia, Hondas are marketed and distributed by Honda Malaysia Sdn Bhd, a joint venture company between Honda Motor Co., Ltd. of Japan, DRB HICOM Berhad and Oriental Holdings Berhad. I do not see Honda Malaysia Sdn. Bhd. in the AP recipients list.

But I do see an AP king trio of Syed Azman, Mohd Haniff and Azzuddin holding the most APs. And one of their companies is Weststar Motorsport, which is said to be the franchise AP holder for Honda cars in Malaysia. Weststar Motorsport received 7603 APs in 2005 so far. It’s only half a year now. With a market rate of RM30,000 per AP, that’s a nice amount of roughly RM228 million ringgit worth of APs. However, I do not see Weststar Motorsport having any distributor chain of Honda cars anywhere.

Perhaps a distribution chain is not needed. Maybe all they need is a small office to process AP purchase orders. Could it be Honda Malaysia has to buy APs from Weststar Motorsport in order to import their own vehicles into Malaysia? In Honda’s case, Weststar Motorsport brings the cars in and hands over the car and responsibilities of how the car is going to reach the consumer’s hands to Honda Malaysia. And I reckon they only import as much as what’s requested.

(Source)

Speaking of APs, NAP 2014 also states that the government is open to possibilities to reduce excise duties gradually BUT ha ha, when the fiscal situation permits. And you know by the way the Government spends like they are high on drugs, the fiscal situation is not going to improve anytime soon. So forget about all these talk of reducing the excise duties gradually.

Three, EEV (energy-efficient vehicles) seems to be the “in” thing for the latest NAP. Considering that the price of petrol have been going up in the last few years, this is indeed good news. It is also good news for the environment too. But are we prepared for it in terms of infrastructure and cheaper EEV? Forget about getting a cheaper Prius – even after you have take into consideration the high cost of the battery, it still cost almost RM140,000 right now (in US, it cost only RM80,000 so we must paying an extra RM60,000 for taxes and AP). It may be cheaper in the future but that is not certain. And if we also include electric cars, do we have plans to set up the infrastructures needed to compliment a greater use of EEVs?

Electric cars often have less maximum range on one charge than cars powered by fossil fuels, and they can take considerable time to recharge. This is a reason that many automakers marketed EVs as “daily drivers” suitable for city trips and other short hauls.

Nevertheless, people can be concerned that they would run out of energy from their battery before reaching their destination, a worry known as range anxiety. As of December 2013, Estonia is the first and only country that had deployed an EV charging network with nationwide coverage, with fast chargers available along highways at a minimum distance of between 40 to 60 km (25 to 37 mi), and a higher density in urban areas

(Source)

Four, there is something called “voluntary annual vehicle check” which seems to be more of a mystery. How effective is this voluntary annual vehicle check when there is also scheduled car service in place for all cars? For example if I am taking my car to the authorized car service center every 5,000 km for a change of oil and car inspection, will I volunteer for another vehicle check in another center who may or may not be familiar with the workings of the car?

And what happens if during the voluntary annual vehicle check, the car is found to be unsafe for one reason or another? Will be the owner be advised to go back to their authorized service centers to get it rectified or their car is impounded right there? Don’t the authorized service centers suppose to do this in the first place? One just hopes that this will not be part of the earlier proposed end-of-life vehicle policy wrapped in new clothes. It may be voluntary checking now but once the inspection issues ironed out, what’s stopping them from making it mandatory (where consumer ends up paying more for the same thing) and thereafter impose the 12 years end-of-life vehicle policy?

To be fair, NAP 2014 has just been announced – it may be tweaked in the coming months but one would hope that the execution of the key features of the NAP 2014 is effectively done. No point talking about reducing the price of the car or give higher incentives for EEVs if at the end of the day, we don’t actually see overall reduction of the price for better equipped in terms of performance and safety cars and other related factors like car financing is not taken into consideration.

As I have said, don’t you feel a sense of déjà vu?

Dear Movie Makers, Stop Making Stupid Movies!

Read these first:-

All of us watches movies (some on daily basis) and at some point of life, you will come across movies that can only be classified as “great”. A first class classics like this and new ones like this. We pay to watch these movies (those who subscribe to the movie channels at Astro, you will know what I mean) and thus all we ask for is that if you can’t make a great entertaining movie, then make one that is logical.

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(A movie that is full of big names but also full of holes in the plot. Image source: the Net)\

Continue reading »

Kangkung Factor

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(Among the many funny things posted on Najib’s statement that the price of kangkung had gone down, this stands in my mind as the funniest bit. I just love Ronald’s face on the second photo – it looks like he had answered too many phone calls asking for McKangkung. Images source: Facebook)

If you have missed out on the joke on Najib, look again – it’s on the front page of BBC, rather cheekily titled “Laughing Stalk“:-

Malaysia’s prime minister is being widely lampooned on social media for a comment he made about the price of kangkung, or water spinach.

Food is a faux pas minefield for politicians, especially when it’s perceived as being used in a get-down-with-the-people kind of way – think of British Prime Minister David Cameron’s pasty moment or Chancellor George Osborne’s “posh burger” tweet. The almost inevitable response seems to be ridicule. That’s where the Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak finds himself right now. With the government under fire because of price hikes in basics like fuel and electricity, he chose to push back by highlighting a reduction in the cost of the leafy green vegetable kangkung.

Kangkung – also known as water spinach, morning glory and Chinese spinach – is widely eaten in Malaysia, and is cooked as a stir-fry with a little garlic or chilli paste. But it’s cheap, grows wild alongside streams, paddy fields and drains, and is not considered a staple. Moments after a video of the prime minister was posted making the comments, the sarcasm and jokes began to trend on social media in Malaysia.

There have been hundreds of thousands of tweets, a Facebook page set up – with 10,000 followers already – a YouTube re-mix of his comments, the lyrics to popular and traditional folk songs have been re-worked, and “Keep calm and eat kangkung” T-shirts have been made and rushed to market.

(Source)

Thanks to Najib, the whole world is laughing at Malaysia!

But certainly it is not a laughing matter. All items that was promised (during the election campaign) to cost lower went the other way around. And just when you thought that these idiots would have learned a thing or two from the whole kangkung incident, they decided to go on an overdrive and make a fool of themselves many times over:-

A special Cabinet committee formed to tackle the high cost of living will look at the root causes of price increases to check unreasonable or arbitrary hikes. The committee, representing various ministries, understands that not all price increases stem from government fiscal consolidation measures. Some are due to market structural issues, including supply and sale, with unscrupulous businessmen exploiting the situation, said Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.

(Source)

What, only now the Government want to set up some shit and want to find out “why” the cost of living had gone up!

You mean to say that they have been sticking their head in the ground all this time? Issue with market structural issues, including supply and sale, with unscrupulous businessmen exploiting the situation sprang up only now and without any warnings? Don’t you think it is a bit too late now especially the issue of price hike was actually raised and discussed in detail long before Christmas last year? Still remember one kangkung Minister telling off the consumer that if they feel that the price of chicken is high, then don’t eat chicken? Back then, this seemed to be the only best solution that they can come up with when consumers hit back at the Government on the drastic price hikes. One idiot went aboard with the “leave Malaysia if you don’t like BN” call which left many speechless. Perhaps all of them were aiming for the grand Kangkung of the Year award. 

Anyway why you need a special (ahem!) committee when you know they are only going to waste time and a lot of taxpayers money and in the end would still be clueless on why there has been a drastic price hike of essential things? At the most, they will come back and say that the increase is justified, it cannot be controlled and thus the Government have done its best and should not be blamed for it. Perhaps they will even justify the kangkung statement from Najib. This is what will happen at the end of day. The reason is this is simple – we had a handful of committees all the way from Pak Lah’s time too but nothing positive came out from these committees.

It does not take rocket science to know that there is a cascading effect on the price of basic items once you hike up the petrol and toll charges. The other part that causes unreasonable or arbitrary hikes is corruption, unnecessary  spending (what happened to that 2nd private jet that was rumored recently?) and lack of enforcement (if you say that the business owners raises the prices arbitrarily – then why they are not booked?). You still need a special committee to investigate the root cause? Why not entrust the related Government departments to do up the study and propose immediate action plan to the Government? Or this too has been curtailed by the billion ringgit consultants? Don’t you think with this, even the best kangkung jokes seemed rather pale?

Think about it and in the meantime, enjoy this video (ya, more kangkung jokes and it only shows that the Malaysians are always step ahead of the low thinking politicians):-

[youtube=http://youtu.be/iEYZvwm0GHE]

Have a good weekend ahead and make sure you take up a lot of kangkung (last I heard, it was cheap, very cheap)…

Know Your Car Basics: Washing Sport Rims Effectively

Read these first:-

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(There are plenty of sport rims out there with different designs and size but which one of it makes it easier for the owner to clean & wash the rims. The sport rim designer may have missed this critical aspect when designing the sport rims. I have no complains about the sport rims that came with the car – it looks great but too many curves & lines makes it difficult for a good wash. http://kereta.info)

It has been months since I last visited a car wash by the road side – not that I don’t have the time for it but rather my heart sinks thousand feet down whenever the guys at the car wash put an ample amount of the “snow wash” on my car. That is because I know for a fact that the guys uses the normal household detergents for their snow wash and normal household detergents causes rust if it is not washed properly (which is why they often wash down quickly after their snow wash).

These days, I wash my car (and sometimes my wife’s car when it becomes too dirty) myself once every 2 weeks. P.s. I have never been into a professional car wash that cost a bomb for obvious reasons.

Further no matter how close you know the guys at the car wash, they do tend to leave out a spot here and there especially on the sport rims. For me, sport rim on the car is the main thing in the car that will indicate how clean the car really is and thus I am very particular about it. For me, it must be spotlessly clean.

The guys at the car wash only come back to clean after I had pointed that to them but still, the job is done on a half-past six basis. Well,, I don’t blame the guys – there are too many cars waiting to be washed and we are not paying a lot for the service (what do you expect for RM8?).

Further, although nothing beats a good jog around the taman (ha ha, it is rather a walk than jog) or a rigorous badminton session with my son (where I pick the shuttlecock from the ground more often), washing the car myself has become another good way to sweat it out. I also know that I use much less water than those jet-sprayed water cannon at the car wash – so I consider it as another “environmental saving” in my books.

Learning the lessons from the car wash, I make sure to use a proper car shampoo that is anti-rust and combines washing and waxing in one solution. And that takes care of the wash and shine on the main body and no matter how much shampoo I use (I don’t use much, just one cap full usually do for one time washing), I know that it will not cause rust in hidden places.

I tackle the sport rims last since I need to spent plenty of time on it. And I have seen some beauty on the road with really “sparkling” sport rims in morning when I head to office and I know the owner must spent considerable time and money taking care of the car. That is why I had kept pushing for the guys at the car wash to ensure the sport rims to be spotlessly clean but to no avail.

But now I decided to handle that myself – for washing and cleaning the sport rims, over the months, I have developed a special tactics to ensure that the sport rims is spotless and shiny like brand new. First thing is a soft brush to clean the edges and then I used my old used tooth brush for the hard to reach spots.

This is hard work and by the time I finished with all 4 rims, I am sweating like hell. Once this is done, I use soft cloth to clean the whole rim and plenty of water to clean off the shampoo & the dirt off and ensure the rim is clean and shiny. The last piece of “equipment” that I used to ensure no bad spot left is my fingers. I wet my fingers and run through the rim one last round.

You cannot get these kind of detailed work from the guys at the car wash for RM8. Once all these done, only then I am confident that the sport rims is indeed clean and looks brand new and this “clean, new” look will last for 2 weeks until the next car wash.

Oh, and there is another reason why I rather wash the car myself, if I have a choice. It gives me the opportunity to check on the condition of the bodywork especially if there has been rocks flying when I had drive past an overladen construction truck and the condition of the tires & sport rims (this is how I found a small crack on my wife’s car sport rims).

If I had left it to the car wash guys to take of washing, I would not have taken the time to check on these places – I know most of us don’t check either.

My Blankee…

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(Nothing, I mean nothing stands between the Boss and her “sarong” when it comes to bedtime which soon follows suite once she had her milk. We usually bring backups in case we misplace her favorite sarong)

Ha, I am sure everyone has his / hers favorite blanket or pillow when they were small. I can’t recall if I had one when I was small (I don’t think so) but my sister had her “bantal busuk” (pillow) even after she had grown up. One day, my mom had to throw it away after the pillow had turned black in color despite many attempts to wash it. We were convinced that it would have made a great place for virologists to discover new species.

My son still have his favorite blanket that we got for him when he was months old baby. What used to be a dark orange large piece of blanket has turned into a very faded, washed out, torn in several pieces blanket. Last year we decided to give him a proper replacement – a similar in color & type of blanket but despite that, he still keeps his old blanket on his bed before he can go to sleep. He also folds the small pieces neatly in the morning. Even after we had set the bed for him, he will still hunt for his old blanket high and low and he make sure he goes to bed with all pieces. The new blanket would often be on the floor and his old blanket firmly in his hands by the time he is fast asleep. After all, he had been sleeping with his old blanket for the past 8 – 9 years. So I guess it will take some time before he gets over the old blanket and warm up to the new blanket.

Not to be left out, his sister is also following up closely on the blanket business but with a different twist. Instead of a normal blanket, she opted for “sarong”. The one that she remembers as a baby (and for us, she is still a baby), cradling on her grandfather’s sarong (that’s my dad) and my Dad has a lot of blue themed sarongs. So when we got her a proper blanket, she went for the blue themed sarong instead. We tried several times to get her used to the blanket but every time we do that, she still opt for the blue themed sarong (and over time, opt for any soft sarongs). So it was clear where she was going with the choice of her favorite “blanket”.

So what my wife decided to do is to buy a few blue themed sarongs for my daughter (for main use and backups) and my grandmother (yes, she still comes over on the weekend to see her favorite great grand child) decided to cut it smaller and sew it into a more manageable size. That in the sense where my daughter would carry it around without tripping over it. And it did not take long before she becomes closely attached to the sarong and it has comes to a point where she sometimes needs more than one sarong when she goes to sleep – one in each hand. Then something very sweet happens – she would hold the sarong close to her mouth and her mouth curls up. She licks her lips and soon falls deep in sleep.

And because of this, we sometimes get into deep trouble especially when we forget to bring along her sarong when we go out with her. She will go hyper crazy if she cannot hold her sarong when she wants to go to sleep and my car has been one good spot to sleep – with the “cool” air conditioner and the “soothing” background music (same thing with my son when he was young). She want to sleep but without her sarong by her side, it is still not complete. She jumps all of the place and my wife could not get her to sit down in one place. But once reach home and the moment she grabs her sarong, her mouth would curl up and she would look for a spot to sleep.

NVIDIA's Tegra K1

nvidia-car-tegra-k1

(So much computing in just one car – well, it is not a dream anymore. The focus must be on technology and know-how and not an in-fight on who owes the name of God and everyone getting so tense on issues that will not elevate the nation with the rest of the developed countries. Image source: http://phandroid.com)

The world is certainly moving on a pace that we have not seen in the past as evidenced by this Wall Street Journal report:-

NVIDIA‘s new Tegra(R) K1 mobile processor will help self-driving cars advance from the realm of research into the mass market with its automotive-grade version of the same GPU that powers the world’s 10 most energy-efficient supercomputers.

Tegra K1 features a quad-core CPU and a 192-core GPU using the NVIDIA Kepler(TM) architecture, the basis for NVIDIA’s range of powerful GPUs — including the processors that are used in the top 10 systems featured in the latest Green500 list of the world’s most energy-efficient supercomputers.

Tegra K1 will drive camera-based, advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) — such as pedestrian detection, blind-spot monitoring, lane-departure warning and street sign recognition — and can also monitor driver alertness via a dashboard-mounted camera.

“To process the steady deluge of sensor and camera data required by a self-driving car, NVIDIA is bringing highly energy-efficient supercomputer technology inside the vehicle,” said Taner Ozcelik, vice president and general manager of the Automotive business at NVIDIA. “Tegra K1 solves this by providing 10 times the computing power of previous mobile processors without consuming additional energy.”

The Tegra K1 is also the first mobile processor to support CUDA(R) — the parallel computing platform at the heart of modern computer vision. In its automotive-grade form, this super chip is hardened to withstand a wider range of temperatures and withstand harsher operating conditions.

In addition to computer vision, the Tegra K1 processor excels at creating razor-sharp, photo-real 3D graphics. Using NVIDIA’s Material Definition Language — which simulates how light reflects and refracts off of actual materials — digital instrument clusters and infotainment systems can be customized with a wide range of virtual materials, from copper, titanium and brushed aluminum, to stitched leather and carbon fiber.

Libraries of photo-realistic rendered material provide a nearly limitless range of customizable digital cockpit configurations. These allow drivers to configure their gauges, controls and dials to suit their unique tastes.

(Source)

No doubt, as many past milestones in the computing world, it will be only matter of time before even this too would be surpassed by even more powerful and intelligent processes. And in the meantime, right here in Malaysia, we have this still lurking on the front pages:-

Datin Paduka Marina Mahathir will not be dragged into a fight with Malay rights group Perkasa, who had accused her of seeking cheap publicity by supporting the Christians in the Allah controversy. Marina, who is the daughter of Perkasa patron Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, had refused to comment when she was asked about Perkasa’s criticisms against her. “I don’t want to comment about Perkasa. They talk so much rubbish,” she said after attending the first National Unity Consultative Council meeting in Kuala Lumpur today.

(Source)

Whilst we have been looking at the wrong issues when the world is flying on a totally different orbit, not all is lost with citizens like Datin Paduka Marina Mahathir (who’s father is the patron of Perkasa) coming out and say that some people in this country talk so much rubbish. That is correct indeed – something that was further reinforced by this and unfortunately we still have a bit more way to go before we can gain back our sanity on what is more crucial for the nation.

Stepping into 2014…

plane

(New jet for PM? Is this part of the cost cutting measures that Najib announced recently? It sure dwarfs the Penang CM’s purchase of a 2012 Mercedes Benz for his official car. Image source: Malaysiakini)

Just a short (unstructured) one, I am still recovering from “last year”…

Well, I must say that it was depressing stepping into 2014 and I’m not even referring to the recent raids on Bible Society of Malaysia and the planned protest against the church. Ha ha, with the overgrowing protest against the Government on the recent price hikes, would this be “the issue” to divert the more pressing issues? Having said that, I for one could not understand why the Catholic Church would be stiff in insisting to use the word “Allah” in its publications and create unnecessary attention, tension and ahem, opportunity. Are they using the same formula used to justify the toll hike? Yes I understand that it has been used in the past and people in East Malaysia are more familiar with the term but still, can’t they do this rather quietly without the same word and undue publicity?

No, it was depressing because I spent the last few days of 2013 in bed, down with high fever, a very bad cough and a running nose. My daughter had the same problem and she was cranky enough to drive us up the wall. She was in fact was on hyper drive and she simply refused to take her medicines which made the recovery even slower. My son however was spared from the same fate (thank God!) and was somehow cheerful looking forward to the start of school (oh, by the way, school bus fare went up another RM5 – an increase which I guess was cushioned by the fact that the school is quite near to the house. Pity those who are staying further from the school and have more than 1 school going kid).

It was also depressing to learn Michael Schumacher is in coma – the retired seven-time F1 world champion slammed his head against a rock on Sunday while skiing in the French Alps. Damn, that is downright bad luck, don’t you think? Of all the years behind a fast F1 car, he had to be seriously injured on skis. This reminded me of someone who smoked cigarettes and drank alcohol rather heavily and was certain that he would die from cancer or a burned out liver (pick one he always say), only to have slipped in the bathroom one fine morning and died from head injuries. Shit do happen. Let’s just hope that Schumacher will display his trademark fighting skills and recover from this one as how he has done many times during racing.

Next was the news on Illayaraaja – although the maestro was pushing his luck, somehow I knew that he could not make it in time for his concert in Malaysia. The man had a mild heart attack and was still recovering from the attack. It would have been too stressful for him to have pushed himself (and ignored his doctors) to be at the concert. But still it would have been something if he had led the concert himself.

Let’s see if there are anymore depressing matters before I sign off for this week?

Oh yes, despite waiting for the Android upgrade for my SP before the end of year, Sony had announced that it is still working on it and promised that the update would be out soon. Damn indeed but at least that is better than nothing and I still have plenty of games to keep company when I was down with fever, cough and flu.

Time to re-look into my monthly budget and see if I can do some “magic” with all that price hike looming in the coming months….