Monthly Archives: September 2019

It’s A Gaol !

No football games here. It is about the Penang Jail.  Informed sources say that it is the second oldest establishment in Malaya, where food, clothing, lodging and 24/7 security are provided absolutely F-O-C.

Stay Calm…and breathe normally…I was not a inmate at anytime, though, so no insights from the inside. 

For many days in 1967, my late Mum and I walked past the high walls, while we made our way to the General Hospital nearby, to visit my father, who had met  an accident downtown.  Being a young boy, I asked my mum, “What’s inside?”  She said, “There’s where they lock up bad people and make them eat curry rice everyday”.

At that time, there was a currency-related crisis which led to racial riots, and subsequent curfews.  So we had to move quite hurriedly to make best use of the curfew-lifted hours.

note : “gaol” is a now-rarely-used version of “jail”

The ABC’s Of Lotus 1-2-3

I purchased my first PC in 1985, for a princely sum of SGD3,500 — never mind if it was all DOS and no Windows.   And my favourite app then was Lotus 1-2-3.

As a Product Design engineer who also tasked with costing.  I faced the “formidable” challenge of compiling the costs of BOMs (bill-of-materials) which had up to 100 different components.  I would do the calculations 10 times on my trusty calculator – but I always ended up with 10 different answers!

With the 1-2-3, all that became as simple as A-B-C. The arithmetical turbulence became a breeze.  And editing of the BOMs no longer triggered explosive attacks on my poor heart.

Alas, with the rapid onslaught of Windows, my favourite spreadsheet was quickly decimated by MS Excel, though IMHO, this latter copycat offering by Microsoft did not result excel in anything.

Gripped By Vices

All vices will have a grip on you, but not all of them are evil. In fact some types can help you hold a job steady while you work on it !

My first encounter with a vice was in my Form One Industrial Arts class in 1968. That was a massive chunk of cast iron, bolted onto a sturdy workbench.  We gripped pieces of metal between its jaws, whereupon we did our manual sawing, hand filing and drilling.

Later on, in my studies at the Technical Institute, Penang, there were more occasions to “indulge” in  vices of all sizes and configurations, while the class underwent advanced training in metalcraft at the Engineering Workshop.   I enjoyed these lessons a lot, as I was and still am a very much “hands-on” guy.

I bet many younger folks have not seen one.

Of Fauna, Flora and Bola…

This article may rile some folks.

Football (aka Soccer) is a game that is accorded a near-cult status these days – with the players almost being worshipped like gods. 

But strangely, to me it is nearly impossible to understand what is so exciting about 22 specimens of living Fauna chasing after 1 spherical piece of dead Fauna (footballs used to be made of leather), on a flat patch of Flora (the field).

My psychologist told me that perhaps it has to do with my childhood encounter with the game.  My skin was (still is) allergic to grass – once the bola* has touched grass and hit my legs, an unstoppable itch developed.  Haiz, this particular Fauna indeed has an aversion to some Flora.

So since that first day of Standard One in school, I had to avoid contacting grass, even in PE lessons. 

*bola = Malay word for ball

Butterworth’s Very Own T-Rex

Haha, a precious photo by one “Rod Farquhar”…. taken probably in the late 1960s or early 1970s.

Well, Theatre Rex was not quite as jurassic as its cold-blooded carnivorous counterpart – Tyrannosaurus Rex — but by now it definitely is a dinosaur in its own right.

In its heyday, thousands of warm-blooded “Butterworthy” inhabitants flocked into its cool cavernous interior whenever they needed a quickie hallucinatory diversion from their daily grind of life.

In those days, when I was not so old yet, I did enjoy many Shaw Brothers movies at this iconic cinema, with my friends and family.

Ticket prices ranged from 40 sen (3rd class) to RM1.40 for “Dress Circle” (or upstairs) per seat.  But poor kids like me sometimes just bought one ticket and used cute persuasion on the ushers to let in a friend, FOC.