Saturday, 25 October 2008

Don't know, Don't care

I had a meeting with senior manager of the University a few days ago and learnt a new terminology. You could even call it a philosophy for management. "Don't know, Don't care". Ironically, the philosophy, if you will, though crude and shocking, is meant to facilitate decision-making. Just get it done! Don't bother me with all the procedures and red tape. Bent the rules, ignore it? Get it done now.

Of course, if you see the pictures from the Kampar Landfill, that phrase seems to be how the general population thinks about thrash. Especially all that plastic thrash we generate everyday. I sent a group of students on a field trip and they came back with these photos (courtesy of Desmond). To be fair, Kampar (or more accurately, the Kinta Selatan Municipal Council) has the second highest rate for recycling (at 7%) in the whole country. Penang Island leads with 15%. Small local authorities don't have the funds and are out of the public eye, and so that don't get the funds. Recycling is NOT the answer. Cutting down on those useless stuff that you take or buy. That's the solution.

We should offer free trips to the ordinary folks, say to Genting or maybe Tangkak (shopping lah) and then on the way make a quick stop at land fills. I think it would be money well-spent. Mountains of thrash with plastic bags everywhere. And in the background green rolling hills.

Remember that plastic bag you took when you went shopping some time ago? Yah, look closely in the photo. See it?

Yakky, isn't it? So what are going to do about it?

Me? I am organising a Plastic(s) Forum @ USM on 1st November 2008 (9 am - 2 pm) with the cooperation of Tupperware Brands Malaysia. Two of their experts and a USM professor will answer questions on safety and sustainability of plastics. Interested? Drop me a line (

Sunday, 19 October 2008

Home-made Noodles

I have tried making hand-made noodles (ramen or la mein, which means stretched noodles) sometime ago but never quite got the hang of it. There's a time-tested easier way. This, we have been doing since I was a kid. My mother used to knead the dough and the boys (me and my brothers) would be called upon to roll the dough flat for cutting into strips. We used glass bottles filled with water (to add weight). I remember it was quite strenuous and we boys often grumbled. And there was a lot to roll because we had a big family. But it was a family favourite. Wholesome homemade noodles, no melamine or any kind of chemical or preservative or colouring. Just flour, egg (if you like), water and a little salt. Add the water in small portions when kneading the flour so that it doesn't get all soft and mushy. Well, you can just knead until the ingredients are well-mixed but still hard. Or, my wife kneads a little bit more to make it a little more elastic. Yes, she does the kneading.

This is the delicious bowl of home-made noodles. Lots of green vegetables, some black mushrooms, prawns and meat. Essential are pair of chopsticks and spoon (these were bought in Chun Cheong, Korea) and you can't have noodles without piping hot red fresh cut chilly. The test of a good bowl of noodles is the sweat, after you finish eating the noodles and drank all the soup.

Here's the apprentice Jillian. The table-top was specially designed for making noodles. Put some flour on the table-top and just roll the dough until it is the thickness that you like. We like it thin.

When the dough is flat, fold it like you are making a paper accordion fan. Then use a cleaver (or heavy knife) and use slicing motion to cut the noodles into strips. Don't press down hard when cutting or the noodles will stick together. Remember, slicing motion.

For the soup we like to make some fried shallots and garlic. You can also stirfry lightly the prawns and meat with the shallot and garlic; gives it extra flavour. Fish ball or chicken balls are great. Remember lots of vegetables. You don't even need any stock or bones for the soup. When ready to eat, just put the noodles straight into the boiling soup. Serve hot. Make sure you don't overload the soup with too much noodles or you will just get a sticky mess.

In memory of all the mothers who gave us home-cook wholesome meals.

Saturday, 18 October 2008

Youths talking to Youths about going Green

I have made student environmental activism my pet project under Kampus Sejahtera (well, at least until March 2009, when my term ends). And today, a small group of like-minded students got together at the Lecture Hall S to conduct workshops about what they want to do and what USM should do for sustainability. It is still going on right at this moment as I type. I spent the morning with them and left them to do their own thing in the afternoon. We hope that this will become an annual event.

I was asked to talk to them to sort of give them a warm-up.
I talked about "A Future Without Cars" using the above concept map. Click on it. Go ahead, I dare you!
I spoke for about 50 or 55 minutes. Most of them were locked on to what I was saying. A few took the opportunity to catch up on a few winks. I was worried that I was too "academic". But the general consensus from the students (OK, if you must be fussy, a few students) was that it gave them some food for thought.

Here's me blending in with the crowd.

Here's the crowd, about 60 - 70 stutents of USM, various years of study and disciplines.
They sacrificed their weekend to do something for the Earth.
Actually, it was a challenge trying to get the crowd. Out of the 72 Clubs and Associations the student organisers managed to get only 9 participants. One of things many student leaders from the clubs ask is "is this compulsory?". Yes, I can understand. Sometimes I see the student leaders walking around in a "zombie-state". There's just too much demand on their time. But we are happy with the numbers because they are all the committed ones. Next year maybe we can get 500? Oh, wait, this time next year ... hmmm, where will I be? what will I be doing?

Lunch was on me. I paid for it mah. OK, the university paid for it.
It was all vegetarian (well, meatless lah) and all the participants knew why and there was no protest.
Taking a break and networking. I know you see the plastic bottled water. They are learning.

These are the organisers and facilitators, all students of course.
We had some preparatory meetings, I met with them and talked to them. And they talked amongst themselves. We talked about how to facilitate. And each group (six in all) went back and did some homework. So, now we wait for their report.
So what is youths talking to youths without the youths talking?
Above is one of the twins (Kah Hing, I think) and below Abe. Desmond (the other twin) and Mervin also did their bit to motivate and inspire. And these guys were good.
In the centre is Kwang Soo, a lecturer from Korea spending his sabbatical in USM.
He is the Presiden of EcoBuddha, an NGO. Seems to be enjoying every bit of the student environmental conference. He seems to have a fascination for nasi kandar.

Saturday, 11 October 2008

Things are made not to last

Sorry guys. I was going to put up some pictures of home-made noodles but the SD card in our brand new camera went kaput. So, here's the story below.

Dear Mr Lim
Managing Director, SenHeng

We bought a Panasonic Lumix from one of your shops (at Sunway Carnival, Seberang Jaya) on 1 Sept 2008 (receipt no Q25*ORN06362). We were offered an upgrade of the SD card to 4 GB for RM2.00 only (Kingston brand). I thought it was too good to be true and asked what was the brand of the original SD and was told that it is also Kingston.

Today (11 Oct 2008), after taking some photos, I took out the card and inserted it into my card-reader. The computer could not detect the card. I thought the card-reader could be spoiled but it could read my other cards. So, I inserted the Kingston 4 GB back into the camera and used the cable to connect the camera directly to the computer. When I switched on the camera, an error message appeared saying that there was a problem with the card.

I took back the card to your shop at Sunway. And after testing by your staff could not get the card to be read. I also spoke to your shop manager.

He told me that there is no warranty on the SD card. And refused to offer a replacement.

I would like to know :
  1. What is the brand of the original SD card which comes with the Lumix camera, if any.
  2. Why does your company sell products which do not last, and provide no replacement even after less than one and half months of usage.
You manager insinuated that we might have dropped the card into water. I am happy to provide you with the defective card if your company would like to carry out any extensive forensic tests to verify the integrity of your customer. Whatever it is, a product that cannot even last one and half months is very poor quality.

I look forward to your response though I have wasted enough petrol and time not to mention generated more greenhouse gases just going to your shop to be dissappointed.

Lee Lik Meng
Butterworth, Penang

p.s. please cancel my membership in your company and please ask your chaps to stop sending me those enticing offers through SMS.

The above email was copied to the people at Panasonic, Kingston and Ministry of Domestic Affairs. Let's see what they have to say.

Update as 18th October :
  • Kingston generated and auto reply saying they would response to me the next working day (monday), but never did.
  • The GM of SenQ responsed first thing on Monday asking his staff to attend to me (good show GM)
  • The staff responded that the Manager at Sunway Carnival will replace my SD card. I think he has been trying to calling me but I have been "too busy".
  • Nobody else has responded.