Author Archives: happyrecall

About happyrecall

Just a very plain old man, with some knowledge of English

Look Ma, No Props !

In 1962, Malayan Airways inaugurated their Silver Kris jet service with a single De Havilland Comet 4, leased from BOAC. 

Renamed Malaysian Airways in December 1963, it expanded the jet services by propping them up (pun intended) with two more BOAC jets.  By September 1965, it had purchased a total of 5 Comets from the British company.   These jetliners, each powered by 4 “Ghost” turbojet engines, cruised at 800km per hour and well above 30,000 feet — much faster and higher than what propellor-driven planes could do.

For financially well-endowed folks who were not afraid of heights, and had a need for speed,  a new label was conferred upon them – the jetsetters !  

Malaysian Airways morphed into MSA (Malaysia-Singapore Airlines) in 1966, with the Comet fleet serving regional routes in South East Asia.  The entire fleet was retired in late 1969, and replaced by newer ones, viz., the Boeing 737 and 707.

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A Chop Off The Whole Log

Hope am not putting my head on the chopping block by travestying the old saying. **

In the old days, every home used a round wooden chopping “board” that was made from a cross-cut section of a good-size log.  Thickness varied from about 1” to 3”, depending on the diameter of the board.

On these boards, we cut everything in the kitchen, from vegetables to meat. One could deliver heavy blows with a chopper or cleaver, to cut through thick animal bones that were laid on the them – no problem.

These “old school” style chopping blocks (as I call them) are still much favoured by professional butchers in markets, as they are tough and hardy.

But for home use, they are getting scarce – replaced mostly by those made from plastics, or from pieces of wood, laminated together.

** “a chip off the old block”

Honey, They Shrunk The Connectors

Opening up my cache of computer cables that I have hoarded, I was awed by the miniaturization process that had taken place over the last 4 decades.   Not quite dramatic as per the 1989 movie where the kids got shrunk, but still it was amazing.

When I first joined the rat race in 1979, all PCs were desktop and printers were dot matrix – connected via a Centronics (printer end) and a DSUB25 connector (PC end).

These also had a set of 9-pin RS232 connector each.  The serial data transfer via these 9-pin ones was supposedly much slower than the 8-bit parallel mode of the former two.

Then in the late 1990s, the USB was introduced, with very substantial shrinkage in connector size.  Thereafter, came the mini-USB connector, and then the micro-USB connector.  All these may vanish altogether one day.

Terminal Recall

This photo was probably a scene from the early 60s, after the Pengkalan Sultan Abdul Halim was opened in 1959.  Oh, so peaceful and serene, as compared to today’s bedlam.

I was barely 10 years old then.  But I can still remember the 5 beautiful ferries that plied between this terminal and the one on the Island.

Four main bus companies made their “bases” there – they were the UTC, the Central Province Wellesley, the Sam Lian Omnibus, and one other which plied between Baling/Kulim and Butterworth.

The voices of those ‘bus ushers’ with umbrellas, hollering “Bukit Mertajam, Parit Buntar, Nibong Tebal, Kuala Muda, Kepala Batas, Titi Timbol, Padang Serai, Alor Star, Sungai Petani” etc., still ring in my ears.

Oh yea, we had Mercedes-Benz  taxis parked nearby too. And the sea waters came almost right to the bus/car park.

Stripping To Look Good

Disclaimer : This is not about flaunting of private assets in public.

In the late 70s through to the late 80s, it was fashionable to affix a thick strip of rubber, called “side molding” to both sides of one’s car doors.  These supposedly protected the sides of the vehicle against accidental knocks by the doors of other cars parked adjacent to one’s mobility pride.

More importantly, I suspect that these side moldings endowed the stripped cars with a perception of added strength and a touch of machismo. 

Thus, when I got my first ‘proper’ car in the form of a second-hand, first-gen Mazda 323, the first thing I did was to drive it to an accessories shop for a stripping job.  It looked great afterwards.

I think these days such side moldings are no longer cool or chic.

In An Eggshell, A Century Passeth In Weeks

Today’s memory replay takes me back to the late 50s.  Grandma and my parents were relishing on some “egg-shaped” things, which they said had been soaked in horse urine. Yucks!

When these “pi dan” (皮蛋)were sliced into pieces using a thin string, I saw the grayish “yolks” which sometimes looked like mud and, the outer jelly-like covering which had a dark brownish colour.  As for the smell…oh..please !!! No amount of intimidation or persuasion could get me to eat them.

It was decades later that I had the courage to try them – thanks to encouragement from my wife.

There is a lot of information online, on making “pi dan”.  But the greatest puzzle is how they became known as “century eggs” in the West, when the process of making them takes only weeks or at most a couple of months.

Hungry Ghost Soap Powder

One could be forgiven for thinking that this was the stuff those chaps from “the other world” used to wash up after having their once-a-year Happy Meals during Chinese 7th Month.

In the late 1960s,  a new washing powder came onto the market.

The English name was “DRIVE”, but the Chinese name was literally “Hungry Ghost Laundry Powder” – 饿鬼洗衣粉 (“Serbuk Cuci Hantu Lapar” when translated into Malay).

What a name !

The powder came in a yellow paper box, with the word “DRIVE” boldly emblazoned on it, plus a prominent exclamation of the “Bio-Zolve” agent it contained.

There were also those iconic Blue Dots which supposedly were champion eaters of stains.

My family tried out this detergent for a while, before reverting to our trusty old FAB. I cannot remember why – perhaps it was too aggressive for our hands.