Fight World Hunger

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Friday, September 25, 2009

The meaning of hunger

You just gotta love the recession. It gives you more time to spend with family and loved ones, with good measure left to do what you like doing. I want to say 'what you do best', but I'm unsure if what you like doing is what you do best, it may be the case for some but not others. I believe in talent, however the old timer in me believes that you develop your skill set with repetition and commitment.

One of the things that tops my To Do list is cooking not only by interest but of late, by necessity. Everyone's gotta eat! We are in many ways blessed with the abundance and variety presented before us. Of course the downside is that we probably consume more than the 2100 calories that we actually need per day as a healthy diet. These days, I am constantly surprised at the raw ingredients that we can get our hands on, the latest being real vanilla pods from Madagascar. I grew up using those artificial vanilla extracts in little bottles that resemble those 2-shot liquor they serve in planes, so you see that this opened up a whole different world of baking.

I have also recently met a few aspiring chefs too. Chefs I feel are like photographers, are like artists most of whom are obvious know-it-alls: You just can't really talk to them, their info probably came from spending too much time on the Food Channel. I think that for every wannabe chef there are 10 wannabe foodies. For the record, I hate the word foodie, or anything cutesy that ends with an 'ie'. I don't know who came up with that word but that fella ought to be shot.

We have so much food we end up talking about food, we end up criticizing food, and having a channel dedicated to food. This post is not about food but rather, the lack of it.

I've come across the World Food Programme (WFP) before but I don't know if I was too busy or too indifferent to bother. That sort of attitude perhaps describes more than half of us who if nothing happens, will assume everything is fine. I was only reminded when I was watching Letterman last night and President Clinton was on, and he was talking about the Clinton Initiative which was an interesting concept where you go out offer assistance to the people who need it by making a commitment. It is not that we can't, and with just a little effort, money, time, or skill we can allocate any of these things to the people who need it most.

And then today I had the time to sit down and read look through the entire WFP site. As you and I are sitting down awaiting or preparing our next meal, about a billion people will go to bed hungry. What more, the worst hit are women and children, and just 25 cents will feed a hungry child and $25 will feed a child for half a school year. That works out to about RM180 to feed a child for whole year! So, do think about that the next time you're thinking about buying something you want but don't really need. I've placed a link on my site permanently so you can go have a look, or donate immediately. We are facing tough economic times and everyone including I am affected but that is all the more reason to go through with this as the personal donations will surely drop due to this. Can you believe that Malaysia isn't even on the donor list? That places us way below India, Thailand and even Singapore! There is no minimum donation amount either so do what you can.

Its funny to think that also because I grew up in a Chinese family we were encouraged to 'finish your food because there are many children in Africa with nothing to eat'. I don't understand the logic of fattening our kids because some kid in Africa is starving, and I remember I once said, 'Ok, why don't you send this to them instead?', which left the adults speechless.

For a kid, I think that would have been an ideal thing to do. Its all about allocating resources to the places that need it most.

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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

How do you stop a pandemic?

Its nothing new, really. If you look at the mid 90s they have already made movies such as 12 Monkeys with Bruce Willis and Brad Pitt about the wipeout of the global population by a virulent strain. The reaction is similar. People just couldn't care less. No matter how we are warned, we still maintain a 'well, if I was to worry about it that much then nobody has to work, is that it? Who is going to run the real world?' Here's news, you can't run the real world if you're dead.

The problem with people is just that, we assume risks because we no longer regard it as a risk. We prioritize living our life by going to work, doing our job, being responsible because the risk versus reward does not seem significant. To illustrate this point more clearly, it is simply like gambling. If you head to a casino, and you start gambling, the risk is there, right? You might win, you might lose. Now, if you lose, that is fine, because sooner or later you will reach your threshold and you quit because you have bet the maximum amount that you have allocated when you walk in. However, what if you started winning? Not big amounts, but you started winning hands, right? Right at that moment your mentality changes and then the risks start to become smaller. You think to yourself, 'I can win this,' until you reach that point where you will believe that ,'There is no risk.' But think for one second, the risk is still there, your odds are still the same, how your perceive your risk has just changed, thats all.

That is the mentality that we have. We apply this to every aspect of our lives. If nothing happens to us, we assume it is safe. We started having a ruling here recently about using our rear safety belts which I feel was a good idea. They made rear safety belts for a reason anyway, but the perceived mentality is that we don't need to use them because they are bothersome, and that they have been doing fine all these years, why now? You see? Perceived safety. Just because you have never crashed into the front passenger killing them with the force of your mass times your current acceleration doesn't meant that it will never happen. The risks are always the same, its just your state of preparedness that prevent an incident from turning from bad to fatal. People don't see that, we are raised as eternal optimists.

Its because of this state of mind that prevents us from containing this flu pandemic. We were proud enough to declare ourselves free of an outbreak. I never believed it for a second. That's why I don't read the newspapers. Now we are closing schools and yet people don't feel the need to take preventive measures. How could they if they think that wearing your safety belts is too much trouble? So people continue to travel, to go out even if they feel sick because 'I feel fine, its just a small thing, it happens all the time.' Optimism can kill you.

I was at the supermarket recently and this seriously ill woman was shopping. Coughing, runny nose, her face was swollen and all. She just couldn't care less about the people around her. Her companion, looking irritated just snapped with ,'Ok, we'll just go to a doctor later, okay?'. I don't know if she was there against her will or what was the story, but that is how we will never be safe. Taking into account that this virus can mutate and become more virulent, their estimate is sometime year end, but I think that it can happen sooner and render these anti-virals ineffective. Don't need a PhD to tell you that.

If you ask me, if you feel ill, quarantine yourself. If you're out and you're spreading disease, someone in a biosuit should haul your ass to quarantine so fast you wish you never went out. Maybe a quarantine + interrogation room, that should keep more people indoors.

And yes, that someone in that biosuit would probably be me.

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Thursday, June 11, 2009

We are out of time

A year has passed and nothing has changed. People still annoy me, people that walk and read especially. I don't understand why a person finds the need to walk and read at the same time. What's so important that you cannot keep your eyes on the road? What's worse is when they run into you, because they think that since they are pursuing something intellectually stimulating you are required to make way for them. I say to hell with that, I ain't changing my path. Crash and burn.

Ever wonder why radio ads are so cheesy? Personally I prefer the old time jingles, yes you can say that they have jingles too nowadays but you don't find anything that sticks to your head because it was good, more often than not its there because its annoying. What's with the 'informal' conversations too like you get two people talking over excitedly about a product and how they can't live without it? One that bugged me recently was this Starbucks one where they were advertising their 'handcrafted' beverages. Now that's over the line, I say. As a craftsman, you do have to make something exceptionally good out of your hands before you can say you are 'handcrafting' something. If you're just making coffee, you're just doing your job. Otherwise you would see me handcrafting something everyday in the toilet. The thing is, thats the kinda stuff I pull the flush and get on with life.

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Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Justice pending

9 year-old Choong Woon Yi is my new heroine.

Perhaps its shocking that this country is getting sued by a 9 year old, but its the first step to balancing out all the unaccounted rapes and murders that has become commonplace. Perhaps this will be commonplace as well, with more people stepping forward and practising their rights. Then, perhaps people will wake up from their slumber and find out that there are real problems that need fixing.

The carpet's getting too small to sweep trash underneath anymore. Justice is pending, but I hope justice will be served.

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Friday, March 30, 2007

State of niceness

Its no surprise that recently the headlines in the papers noted that the state of racial integration among 'youngsters' apparently was low. This had been going on for a while now and of course the dailies have toned the whole thing down yet again.

Which worries me somewhat. Disintegration is a dangerous thing in a multi-cultural community, but what if disintegration draws the line between nice people and the rude, dangerous drivers? Perhaps then we would have to resort to getting more people to be nice, because these are the kind of people that wouldn't incite anger, or road rage, which triggers larger, unwanted events.

I've recently switched my MP3 disc in my car to a CD I simply call, Jazz Greats. Its got Coltrane and Davis and Monk, things like that. It makes you a nice person, I think.

I was at the Autopay kiosk today and this girl had no spare change. So she was talking to this elderly couple and they couldn't understand her I think because she spoke in English (shame on them), so they eventually walked away as I finished paying my ticket. Then she turned my way and asked if I had change for 50.
'I only have 1s and 100s, though.'
'Oh really? I only have...50, and 1.50 in coins...that's so annoying'
'How much do you need?' I said as I looked at her kiosk that read 'RM2.00'
'I need another 2'
I took out RM2 and gave it to her, 'Here you go.'
She paused for a while and said, 'No...I can't take your money.'
'You sure?'
'Um...yeah. I think I'll go break it upstairs'
'Okay then,' I said as I walked off.
I wasn't particularly in a hurry or anything, but I decided to leave it at that. Why?

Because I want people to know that there are nice people around here. Nice people that don't want anything from you, not your time, your money, your phone number, your attention. Things that people always want from other people. Everyone wants something. But what if you changed all that by making selfless decisions. Could that change someone's day? Or life?

I think that was worth 2 Ringgit right there.

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Sunday, March 04, 2007

Something terribly wrong

Its some sort of imbalance, I think. People who don't know what they're doing. People trying to make your life difficult. Church elders embezzling funds, rapists getting away with a fine, unsolved murders, unsolved murders with political connections, highway robberies, brittle interracial relationships, the economy in general, and global warming are among other things that would come up over a few drinks at the bar.

What most of us can do is just shrug it off, hope for the best and get on with life. That's how we are trained to accept things as they are. Witnessing a robbery nowadays means you walk away and get to a safe place quick. You don't want to be walking into a parang wielding attacker. Don't invite trouble. Of course that course is logical for our survival, but what I'm talking about is not being a hero and save the day. I'm not suggesting executing some kung-fu moves you just saw in a movie. But more of, what can you do to prevent this from happening?

Police have recently been boarding busses this festive season to curb drivers from speeding and what not, and that proved to be effective. They should've done that ages ago. Speeding lorries and busses still ranks as one of the most fatal of accidents simply because of their massiveness when you're talking about impact with a regular passenger vehicle. You read about accidents where people slam into a trailer. Why? You see the way some people drive without looking ahead. A trailer doesn't have a third brake light, but then again neither do a lot of cars around here. Sometimes cars have only one working brake light. Whose fault is that if they get hit from behind and somebody gets killed?

Don't be paranoid. Someone once told me that I think too much. These things don't always happen, you just take it easy okay? Now, I ask you to tell me that again. You're talking about break-ins, snatch thefts, murders, robberies, rapes. I am talking about people you talk to everyday who can tell you that his/her friend, or a friend of a friend just got robbed. To achieve this kind of statistic, either the coincidences are aligned with the stars and it just so happens that everyone knows someone who knows someone who went through that, or that the frequency and volume has increased to an extent that this statistic becomes so real, and common that you can actually hear real stories from real people, and its not even six degrees, its 2 or 3 degrees of separation. To read in the papers of these things happening, people getting away, and to feel indifferent to this kind of news is to know that something isn't right. Something in the system is failing miserably, and yet nothing is being done about it.

We know something should be done. But really, what? The nation is more consumed with news of fast food being unhealthy, among other seriously irrelevant things. Our emphasis on global issues only last an article or two. Try a search on global warming for instance, and only a few results come up, one was that we tried signing an agreement to go green or something like that years ago. Either that didn't work out, or that somewhere along the line we just failed to follow up on that. We don't have the initiative to even think of recycling.

Oh really, there is a recycling drive in our country? The people who set up these recycling centres are just out to make a quick buck. Besides the fact they're unfriendly, which really doesn't matter, they can't give two cents about the environment. They're in it for the money. The rule is anything can be recycled, and everything especially dangerous waste should be disposed of properly. Try giving them a pane of glass. They'll ask you to take that away because they can't accept it. Why? Simple. They like bottles better. Its clean, its neat, and it sells for more money.

You want to talk about emissions? We practise open burning here. Irregardless of what laws there is currently in place to ban open burning, people still do it 'because it clears the mosquitos'. There is a ban on fireworks and yet kids on the streets burn these things as if they could buy these along with their ice cream, and when they throw it into *my* house I take serious offense to that. I once chased a bunch of kids with a stick and yelled at them in unimaginable rage. I think I've established myself as the new crazy man who lives here. What's great is that never happened again.

Talking about emissions. We don't have any incentive for adopting standards. Some articles back I talked about conflicting standards of the Air Pollutant Index with other developed countries, and I think that's what's happening here as well. Buying a EURO4 certified Smart car means nothing to a lot of people. Its just a tiny 2 door car, as they go about fitting their Kancils with 3" mufflers because 'its cool'.

At this rate, we'll never be a modern, dynamic, and developed country in time. We may have the infrastructure, the income generating companies, the foreign investments, or even the latest most advanced subsurface tunnel in place, but the if the people, and the way we think can't keep up with the pace, we'll be left behind in our little 'que sera sera' world.

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