Wednesday, February 28, 2007

The Net

The internet is amazing. Very amazing.

I used to be, and still is a great fan of Uncle Tong. You can access his link from the right column of this blog. His name is Stephen Tong, or Tang Zhong Rong. He was my favourite preacher during my uni days.

Pastor Stephen Tong is recognised as one of the most influential Mandarin-speaking preacher and theologian of this era. He is an Indonesian Chinese, who founded a seminary in the USA. In his sixties now, this old man still packs so much stamina that puts young men to shame. His schedule is like...

... starts on Sunday with two preaching sessions in Jakarta in the morning, then he would take a flight to Singapore to preach in the Indonesian church in the afternoon, followed by the expository preaching on Hebrews in the evening. On Monday, he would be at Taipei for the expository preaching on Hebrews. On Tuesday, he would be in Hong Kong for the same. On Wednesday, he travels to Kuala Lumpur (West Malaysia) for the expository preaching in the book of Romans. On Thursay, he would return to Jakarta to teach at the seminary, before starting the entire cycle again. This cycle is only broken by gospel rallies held all over the world, from New Zealand to Europe and the United States.

I loved his seminars. I don't mean attending them personally. I had a Sony walkman to listen to his cassettes (CDs were a luxury those days) during the lonely nights in campus hostel, or the long train journeys back home. In case anybody thinks that theologians are boring and dull people out of touch of the real world, listen to Uncle Tong and you'll know that you're dead wrong. This theologian has a diverse interest in history, philosophy, architecture, engineering, science, music (he conducts orchestras), art, current affairs... So you can imagine, his seminars are far from boring. And if one thinks that theologians only attracts older men and women who have lots of time and nothing better to do, you're wrong agian. Intelectuals, professionals and university students pack Uncle Tong's seminar halls.

Me and my friend Edwin were in the organising committee of a Stephen Tong evangelistic seminar in our uni days. Guess what, the organisers did not need to raise funds to organise the seminar. Uncle Tong and his team paid for the whole thing. It was held in a church, quite a big one. And it was so packed that many had to stand outside the doors! And those were city dwellers and university students that we're talking about.

I thought I would not be able to lay my hands on Stephen Tong's cassettes anymore, now that I am in the 'interior', far away from 'civilisation'.

I told you earlier, the internet is amazing. I do not need cassettes anymore. Yesterday I found a website that has a collection of Uncle Tong's seminars, online, and FREE. Not just a couple of seminars, but a whopping 329 of them! They're HERE if you are interested.

Should've installed streamyx.

What you view

Amarte Asi, Soledad, Gulong Ng Palad, El Cuerpo Del Deseo.

Does those names ring any bell to you?

Those are names of foreign-language serials, brought to us by our 'feel good channel'. Some of my staffs are great fans of such serials, whether from the Phillipines or Latin America.

While I was lepaking at my loupo's parent's house in Tenom during CNY, I caught a few glimpses of the serials. I must say I was shocked at what I saw. Within those intermittent glances, I saw scenes of jealousy, rage, hatred, betrayal, quarrelsome women (and men), nasty mother-in-law, evil schemings... wow! A condensation of human sinful nature in full clarity. I remember seeing a similar listing in the Book...

They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless.

Romans 1:29-31

I wonder what draws people to these serials. Aren't we tired of seeing those things in our daily lives? Funny. Could it be, by watching such glaring acts on TV makes us tolerate our own short-comings a bit better? 'Hey at least I am not as nasty as those horrible people'. Or maybe we are just nosey about the mess in other people's lives.

A line from the ad on ASTRO left an impression in me. Remember the cute little girl with her African 'friend' Amar?

"What you view will change your view of life."

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

Phi 4:8

By the way, I enjoy watching CSI. Why leh? Well, everybody loves a good mystery. I like to see goodness triumph over evil. I enjoying watching highly motivated men and women performing their duties with full dedication. I am impressed at how persistent they are in seeking the truth and upholding justice. I like to see those high-tech gadgets. Guess I can only dream of a police force like that over here.


I think not many young people hear of Datsun cars nowadays.

While driving back from Tenom, I came across a Datsun. The tail-lights were characteristic. I thought those cars were extinct already. What a pleasant surprise.

It did brought back some memories. My dad used to drive a Datsun long ago. It was our family car. That was at a time when all three siblings could lie down and still sleep comfortably in the backseat. So you can imagine how tiny we were.

My mum, on the other hand, drove a Fiat Mini for a short while, to bring us to school. Ahhh, yes the Mr Bean car, minus the door latch. Mum used to complain that the car goes forward when in reverse gear, and dies when you least expected it.

Nowadays, most of us drive bigger, better, flashier cars. Does that make us much happier?

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Basic butter cake

Here's for Auntie Liz.

Basic Butter Cake

150 gm butter
150 gm castor sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla essence
3 medium-sized eggs
170 gm self-raising flour (sifted)
2 tbsp milk

1. Cream the butter until soft and fluffy. Gradually add sugar and vanilla.
2. Add the eggs one at a time. Fold in the flour, in three batches. Mix well. Finally, fold in the milk.
3. Turn the mixture out into a greased and lined baking tin and place in an oven pre-heated to 180 Celcius. Bake for 40 minutes or until well-risen, golden brown and the top springs back when lightly touched with a fingertip. Leave for 15 minutes before turning it out to cool.

Chocolate cake: add cocoa powder or melted cooking chocolate
Orange cake: add 3 tbsp orange juice and 3 tsp grated/chopped orange rind

So simple hor. The recipe works all the time, even for a beginner like me. Have fun. I am moving on to chiffon cakes and cookies and buns and pizzas...

Here are my equipments:

Khind Mixer. The bowl rotates as the mixer works.

Khind Oven (OT 2502). It has a rotisserie function that allows you to skewer a chicken and roast it rotating round and round.

If you are getting adventurous and need more recipes for cakes and other stuffs, download from HERE.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Happy Piggy New Year

It's the first day of Chinese New Year. This year is the Year of the Boar/Pig/Khinzir/Babi according to the Chinese zodiac. Oink Oink!

We attended the Sunday Service at the Keningau Methodist Church this morning. Most of the congregation, including me and my loupo, came dressed in red. Ada 'ong' ma. The pastor's family rushed down to KK after the service to catch a flight to Sibu. For your information, many of the Methodist members are FooChows (those shrewd fellas) from Sibu or Setiawan.

After that we went from house to house for food and more food. It the past when I was in Seremban, the main attraction was the Barbeque Dried Pork. That stuff is hard to come by here in interior Sabah. Instead, we had lots of home-made cookies, keropoks, and durians. Just when I thought my ang-pao supply has been terminated, heck no, I received 5 of those red goodies this morning. Read again, that's FIVE.

'Pigs are friends, not food.'

Happy Chinese New Year and may you have a blessed year ahead.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Gongxi Gongxi

An early Chinese New Year greeting to all visitors to Mike'Station.

For the first time in my life, I will be away from my parents during Chinese New Year. Ke garne, like what the Nepalis say.

For the first time also, my ang-pao supply is being terminated, and I am supposed to give them for the many years to come. Sigh.

I know you'll be asking, OK, that's somebody else's baby.

The CNY mood

My loupo and I were in Kota Kinabalu last weekend for a review in Hospital Likas. We went down to KK via the latest 'highway' - the Kimanis route, which climbs steeply over the Crocker Range and comes down to the Sabah coastal road in about an hour.

We stayed in a little hotel in Gaya Street. And what a pleasant surprise, the Sunday market has extended it's business hours. There were stalls selling Chinese New Years stuffs and everything else right into the night. So we went pak-tor lor, even though it was still too early for Valentine's Day.

And we were in for some surprises...

An Indian sifu doing Chinese calligraphy. (I used to be quite good with it. Those were the good 'ol days.)

Singing competition for uncle-uncle and auntie-auntie.

The best way to ruin your eyesight: writing Chinese words on rice grains.

And just when you think it is 'Chinese' New Year. Think again.

Piece of cake

Since the day we bought an oven and a mixer during the last Christmas spending spree, my loupo has been experimenting with different kinds of cakes. After a couple of tries, we concluded that the ready-mix ones sold in the supermarkets are not quite up my standards. So I searched the Net for simple cake recipes to try on.

And little did I know, there is an expert cake-maker just nearby. This Puan Sarifah who works in the hospital kitchen makes wonderul cakes that won praises from her colleagues, including her boss the hospital Dietician (of all people who should be paranoid about calories and cholesterol). I managed to pujuk her to give me a simple cake recipe to start with. And she willingly obliged.

So, here it is, my first attempt at cake-making (only the BlueKey self- raising flour was "pre-mixed"). I thought it was quite OK, for a first-timer la. My loupo calls it very good. Hmm... in a year to come, maybe I should aim to make cakes better than those they sell in Secret Recipe.

Anyway, we'll be making some more or this orange cake for Chinese New Year... show off ma. Anybody wants the recipe?

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Wisma Bandaraya, Kota Kinabalu

Remember the former Chief Minister who gambled away RM 7.1 million?

I thought readers from Sabah might be interested in THIS. Before you pass it off as cerita dongeng, well somebody has actually made an official ACA report on it, furnished with documents and evidences HERE. No kidding. Even a POLICE REPORT is lodged.

What do you call such a person? A genius or a crook?

What do you call people who keep voting for such a person/party?

And you wonder where have all the money gone.

(please do your own verification if in doubt)

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

A nice outing

My church friend has a piece of orchard about 30 minutes away from Keningau, along the old Tenom road. Since it is fruit season now, he goes to the orchard every day to bring out the fruits for sale.

Since my colleagues and I were not working on that Saturday, we decided to tag along for some adventure, and hopefully get some free fruits, ahem ahem. Four of us we went in the tough Toyota Single-Cabin 4WD. The journey was pretty rugged, an ordeal that you would never allow your shiny sedan to undergo.

And yes, WE GOT FREE FRUITS. The fruit pics, I've shown you earlier. Just a thought, how nice it would be to have a retirement home in an orchard like that; tranquil and away from the noisy city, picking fruits and watching squirrels, like Adam of Orchard Eden (with clothes on la).

We got more than what we bargained for. On the way back, my friend offered to bring us to "the highest point in Keningau". And so we went. I don't know whether if it really is the highest point, but the journey up there, was like... er... speeding along the highway up to heaven.

And guess what, there is a little kampung at the top! The highlanders of Keningau huh.

The dragonfruit orchard was near the top of the hill. My friend said, cool temperature, hilly soil and just the right dose of sunlight make good dragonfruits. The sky was getting gloomy, and I caught this photo of evening rays and folding hills. OK la I must admit it's not dramatic enough.

How much would you pay for a house with a view like this?

It has been a tiring off-road adventure. We came back with a truck load of these stuffs. So jelak already.

Time to move on to mandarin oranges and lap-cheongs.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Fruitful season - Grapefruits

Here's what we found in my friend's durian orchard. The size was just a bit larger than an orange. Looks like a little pomelo doesn't it? Even the flesh and the pips looked similar. But the taste ah... bitter and sour la. Yucks!

Friend said it's called a "grape-fruit". Please tell me which part of it looks like a grape?

Fruitful season - Dragonfruits

I believe you guys have seen red dragonfruits in the stalls and supermarkets. The latest craze fruit. Did you like it? I didn't. I was always wondering why are these not-so-tasty fruits fetching so good prices.

Anyway, have you seen yellow-coloured ones? How about the dragonfruit plant itself?

Friends and I visited a dragonfruit farm sometime last week. A nice little place atop a hill near Keningau. The view up the hill was really amazing. Will post them up later.

Well, here they are, the yellow hand-grenades. Actually, those fruits were covered with long and sharp thorns. What you're seeing is after the thorns have been shaved off.

Not just the fruits, but the whole plant (which closely resembles a cactus plant) is thorny. So you can imagine, tending to and harvesting those plants is a very ouch-ing chore.

Here are the flowers. Real beauties. They bloom early in the morning. By the time we arrived in the evening, the flowers were already closed and wilted.

Now, does anybody knows where did the "dragon" name come from?

Hmmm... maybe the flowers looked like power-balls in Dragonball?

Fruitful season - Yellowbutans

You've tried lots of "ang"-moh-tans before. How about "huang"-moh-tans, like these?

Beautiful, isn't it? I thought so too. Taste great as well. Better than the red ones. Gosh I think I gulped at least fifty of those yellow gems that afternoon. Eating the fruit right off the tree is very different from eating those bought off the stalls. The ambience, as Auntie Liz calls it.

Look closely. I want to show you how thick the flesh is. And the sweet succulent flesh easily comes off the seed, and melt in your mouth.

We went there again this morning. They fetched me from my house at 5.40 am. (crazy ah this Michael?!)

And you know what, I thought the fruits captured a taste of the cool morning mist. Seriously.

A touching letter

This letter... "A Good Man He May Be, A Good Leader He's Not".

Let us not forget that we are the rakyat and you are our elected representatives, elected to govern the nation on our behalf in a manner that will serve the best interest of all the rakyat. This governing must be done in an open transparent and accountable manner.

Once elected, our government behaves as though the rakyat has given them a ‘blank check’ to do anything and whatever it likes without the necessary obligation of transparency and accountability to the rakyat. Sadder still, is when these documents/agreements get revealed to the rakyat, the government goes after those who have revealed it.

Good leader or not, I think it is a case of you know I know lah. Good man or not, you do the readings and make your own conclusion.