Clearing my store room today, in preparation for relocation, I came upon a a well-sealed carton box that I had not opened for 18 years (as of 2018). Inside was this beautiful piece of rather vintage bench digital multimeter, made by Fluke Corporation of the USA.
Upon power-up, on came the brilliant cyan-colour VFD (vacuum fluorescent display….something that has been totally supplanted by LCDs today. Overall, it was a very well-made piece of precision equipment.
I bought it for around SGD2,000 in 1998, in the heyday of my small electronics assembly business. At that time, the business was good, but looking back I think it was a kinda fluke, given that I was 99% engineer and only 1% businessman.
Business failed in 2000, and I had to “lelong” most of the equipment; but I kept back this one.
*lelong = auction, in Malay
On that fateful day circa 1979, I was driving the amber-coloured Datsun 120Y (borrowed from a cousin), ferrying my parents from Alor Star to Butterworth.
Traffic was light and, unlike the Penang folks who loved to drive like tortoises, everyone was going at exuberant paces. “Arriba Arriba” as I imagined myself to be some kind of Speedy Gonzales. And then some.
As I was negotiating a bend just after the town of Gurun, out from behind some bushes popped two traffic policemen, armed with a radar gun.
They flagged me down and asked to see my driver’s licence and told me I was going at 70mph! I was too traumatized to remember what my reaction was. They told me that for 70mph, I had to pay a fine of RM70 at the Gurun Police Station. Our day was ruined.
1964 was milestone year of great significance for rail travel in Malaysia, as KTM finally made that great leap forward over the River Prai. The opening of the Swing Bridge allowed the railway tracks to move onward to Butterworth.
Prior to that, goods and passengers had to be transported via a special “train ferry” between Penang Island and Prai Town.
The swing bridge could be swivelled around to allow ships to pass through.
I had a frightening experience once, circa 1972, when with a friend, tried cycling along the railway track on it. We heard the train whistle, and in my panic, had my bike pedal caught in the steel rail. Adrenaline gushed in, and I was able to extract myself in time – albeit with a gashed toe.
The bridge was replaced by a twin-track one in 2013.
It was not 500 miles from home, but at the Waterfalls (Penang Botanical Gardens). In 1963 or so, several of my primary school teachers took the whole class from Butterworth for a picnic there.
I had a most memorable experience then. When I came out from the water to get my bag, I found it had been opened by “someone”, and the packet of peanuts and the bananas were gone ! Worse still. my shirt inside had been ripped apart.
When we left the pool later that evening, I was too shy to put on a badly torn shirt, so I travelled without it for the journey back home.
I was fearful that my mum was going to give me an earful. Instead, she said, “Never mind, that monkey was very bad”
I have not visited the Botanic Gardens for ages.
note : The title is a pun on one line in the lyrics of the old song, “500 Miles”
Does it matter ? Yes, I mean in the old days, the shape of the bottom of your shirt (called “hem”, right?) determined whether or not your shirt should be tucked in.
If the shirt was a long-sleeved one, it came with a nice rounded hem, which must be tucked into the pants. For courtesy, modesty or formality, or all three, having an exposed rounded bottom was a frowned-upon “No-No”. But it was OK, if the shirt, especially a short-sleeve “hawaiian” type which always came with a straight bottom.
But times have changed. These days, we see our young men strutting smugly around town in shirts with exposed, untucked rounded hem (worse still, with a half-done tie, and shorts) going arm-in-arm with girlfriends dressed to the nines.
Tastes have changed too. Ironically, anything goes, just tuck it in.
Or one could call it the best thing for cutting hard-boiled eggs into slices. I remember we had one of these simple kitchen aids at home…a long time ago.
It was a simple, yet effective tool. The thin, highly-strung steel wires cut through an egg neatly, without messing up, yielding slices with uniform thickness – a result that could not be achieved using a knife.
But somehow, we lost it and more interestingly, never missed it or found an another occasion to use it. Why is that so? I wish I know.
My guess is that these days, food is plentiful, appetites have bloated and people live to eat. No one would be happy with mere slices – thus, only a whole egg or maybe even two, would satisfy gastronomic expectations. Thus, the slicer was gradually assigned museum status.
A recent visit to my dentist to get a stainless steel crown done brought home memories of a time in the past when it was very fashionable for folks – especially the men – to have a tooth or two or several, capped or cladded in gold.
They were not the gypsies mentioned in “Love Potion No.9” but just ordinary (and rather poor) kampong dwellers. Am not sure how the golden layer was done, but it intrigued me. Perhaps, for most of them, they were not born with a silver spoon in their mouths, so a gold-capped tooth or two psychologically placed them on even footing with the richer compatriots.
Anyway, I have not come across anyone sporting such glittering dental ornamentation in the last few decades. I think the younger ones prefer to pierce their ears, noses, lips, etc.