Monthly Archives: February 2018

Enamelled Enamour Or Enamoured Enamel ?

Whichever way you call it, these fashionable utensils of the first 7 or 8 decades of the previous century are getting less popular by the day.

They were favoured for their relatively light weight, though the base material was ordinary steel sheetmetal. The enamel coating imparted a decent degree of resistance to wear, and corrosion. And it came in all sorts of colours, and often with flowery decorations too.

However, the coating was vulnerable to knocks, which caused chipping and flaking, leaving ugly spots and patches, which led to corrosion. After prolonged use, the insides of the utensils could get stained too.

The photo shows 3 of the 5 or so pieces that are still left in my home, Over the years, we had discarded at least 6 other items, in favour of stainless steel or porcelain or glass ones.

Madness Raised To The Power Of 4

Relax folks, am not sending you back to Mathematics school to tackle some insane formulae.

“It’s A Mad Mad Mad Mad World” was an extremely hilarious movie of the mid-1960s. It was rather long and windy, with one goofed turn leading to yet another.

One of two notable scenes depicted the bad guy (who had the treasure) meeting with an accident, and died – with the fellow shown to literally kick a bucket downhill.

The second memorable scene involved the mother-in-law who smugly put a bunch of keys into her bra and challenged the guys to get them. So they grabbed her by the legs and turned her upside down and shook her until the keys fell out.

Finally the mystery of “W” was revealed at a site where 4 palm trees grew up in that formation.

Dam Nice

It was (and hope it still is) one of the most serene and beautiful places on Penang Island – The Air Itam Dam and Reservoir. 

In the early 1980s, it was one of the favourite places that my GF (and now wife) and I loved to go there early on weekends, admiring the scenery (and each other) while soaking in the twin morning glories of fresh cool air and cozy gentle sunshine. Oh ! What A Feeling ! Those most cherishable memories come flash-dancing back.

On most occasions, we drove via a small road through Air Itam village up to the Kek Lok Si Temple carpark, and then went on foot up the rather winding road  to the dam. 

After 1984, we only went back there once – in 2014.  We were glad that much of the old scenery was still intact.

I Have An Axe To Grind

It is about my belief that most millenials only know the Verb form of “Axe” and not the Noun form – as in these days of economic turmoil, heads freely roll when jobs get axed. 

But who has seen an Axe in real life or even used one before?  I had this privilege in my childhood days.  Not one, but two.  One was an ordinary type which we used for chopping small trees, and pieces of raw firewood to length.

The other one had a broader head at the top where the handle was affixed.  This type was used for splitting wood along the grain.  It is actually called a “Maul Axe” or “Splitting Axe”.

Some say that Axe is Axe, and Maul is Maul; I prefer not to get mauled by splitting hairs (but wood, ok) on this matter.

Bangs For Your Bucks

My heart goes Boom-Bang-A-Bang when they are near, Boom-Bang-A-Bang loud in my ears.

For centuries, the Chinese have exploded huge fortunes in setting off firecrackers, celebrating the Lunar New Year, weddings, etc.

Honestly I hate firecrackers and the din they make, except for the time when I was playing with them in my kiddy days.  And it was a hazard travelling on trishaws during CNY season, as unsavoury characters would throw packs of lit crackers at the passengers.

I remember in Penang, banks along Beach Road used to “challenge” one another with strings of firecrackers as long as 3 storeys tall.  And afterwards, the streets were carpeted in a sea of red paper “shrapnels”.

Other communities in Malaysia now too have keenly adopted this noisy practice for festive occasions such as Deepavali and the Hari Rayas, though it is unlawful.

“Orr…Ee-Orr, Ee-Orr, Ee-Orr..”

Reminiscing here the exploits of Tarzan — Lord Of The Jungle — and his mate, Jane ! 

Unlike modern young men who go namby-pamby down onto their knees in public places with RM200 bouquets to win the hand of their heart throbs, our Ape-man simply swept his Lady Love off her feet – before she had a chance to figure out what was happening !  Wow, such Wild and Raw Romanticism !

And he carried her on his shoulder lest her dainty feet be bruised by the untamed flora of the jungle.  Such chivalry is not to be found again in our modern society.  And they lived happily ever after, swinging from tree-to-tree, with that primeval celebratory chorus reverberating through the green canopy.

To this date I still think Johnny Weissmuller and Maureen O’Sullivan were the best pair for the act.

“I’ll Meet You Halfway”

You needed not be a member of The Partridge Family to sing this out in celebration of the climactic thrill generated when the upgoing tram met the downcoming one, and passed each other at the mid-point of the funicular railway – with passengers on one car waving and hollering at those on the other track.

Yes, Penang Hill had always been a favourite destination for family outings.  My first visit was made when I was around 5 years old.

Back then, the trams were of wooden construction and without airconditioning, but the natural ventilation was cool and refreshing, and the trams travelled at a tranquil, leisurely pace.

Sadly the trams today are too modern – fully enclosed, with aircon, and shoot up and down like express trains.  To rub it in, the Middle Station has also been eliminated – sorry, can’t meet you halfway.

‘Clanliness’ Was A Jetty-some Thing

Oh, what nostalgia for a Penang Lang !  Yes, the clan jetties that line the waterfront along Weld Quay ,Penang. 

Dating back to the late 19th century, numerous ones have been built and torn down, but today there remain 6 famous Jetties – 5 belonging to the clans of Lim, Chew, Tan, Lee and Yeoh, plus 1 Mixed Surname (aka “New’) Jetty.  Basically each consisted of two rows of houses facing each other, built on stilts that were planted into the seabed. A common wooden walkway was placed in between, and some, to the sides.

These places were not the among the cleanest or most hygienic dwellings, with the seawater underneath emitting some unwelcoming odours, especially at low tide. Also garbage jettisoned by the residents tended to accumulate under the structures.

In recent times, with some upgrading, these jetties have become popular tourist attractions.

Back To The Drawing Board

Before computerization massively invaded the realm of design (circa early 1980s), all ideas for making a product, constructing a structure, an electrical schematic, etc had to be presented via a drawing, painstakingly hand-drawn on paper, mylar or other media. 

Each drawing was a personal masterpiece of draftsmanship, where the lines were drawn between concept and tangible creation.

And there was the indispensable supporting equipment to facilitate this task and impart the professional touch to the drawings – the Drawing Board.

The drawing boards evolved quickly into sophisticated equipment known as drafting machines, among which the brand Mutoh was my favourite. 

My career foundation was set on these, but with the advent of software like AutoCAD, Pro-E, etc, I found that I had to go “back to the drawing board” to re-chart my way forward.  But, no regrets.

When Blueprints Were Blue Prints

When I took my first rodent steps into the Big Rat Race, one of the first machines I encountered in my office was a huge beast which had the abnoxious penchant for emitting a pungent smell when it was called to work.

In those days, after the hand-drafted drawings were completed on mylar films, or tracing paper, the originals were passed through that stinky machine to make more copies.  The maximum size that it could accommodate was A0.  All the lines on the copies were blue, and the background also had a light bluish tinge.

Of course these days,  giant-size photocopiers have rendered the ammonia printers obsolete.  The copies are also no longer blue.

But the term “blueprint” is very much in use, especially figuratively in describing plans for making things in the future.