Thursday, May 27, 2010

Damn those tears!

I always consider myself as emotionally numb, or at least outwardly appear to seem so. But there have been instances (not too often though) where I just can't control the stupid tears that come gushing from somewhere within me (figuratively, I know tears are produced by the lacrimal gland) and hit my eyelids with a hot sting like flood water released from the floodgates and hitting a barrier wall.

It is really embarrassing as when it happens, I can't look anyone in the eye anymore for fear they might see the extra moisture or tiny blood capillaries spidering to the surface of my cornea. And the worse part is, it's not even horrendous news, it's just something which would make things a bit more difficult. Why do I feel so intensely over some small matters? Is there a way for me to stop these subconscious reactions? Or is the answer to that question a solid NO because it's just another sign to reassure myself that I am HUMAN.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Organise, ppl!

Will never understand why many people don't get the concept of a template. Make life easier by using "Save As" rather than "Save", when you know that you'll be using the template again in the near future. Then you wouldn't need to delete all the previous content when you want to use a fresh new template for fresh new content. You'd be cutting down a lot on using 'Backspace' or 'click, drag and Ctrl + X'. Save energy (both muscle and electricity).

Somehow, through certain experiences in the past, I've developed a habit of always keeping backup copies of templates (both online and offline), saving black & white proof of significant communications and an intolerance towards incomplete/unorganised filing systems for files that can be categorised. It makes life so much easier and covers your ass (if the occasion ever arises)!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

It must've been a bad day for him

Just came back from brunch at Village Park...

There was this elder guy sitting at the table behind us. This post is about him. At first I was a bit annoyed at him, but later on, as I put myself in his shoes, I think he must have been having an unlucky day.

1. I first spotted him looking at us when we were trying to park our car, maneuvering around a red Peugeot that was the only car parked "senget" across 2 illegal parking spaces. Everyone else had parked their car straight. The red Peugeot turned out to be this guy's car.

2. As we were eating, suddenly I hear "sorry sorry" and some fussing going on behind me. Turns out that guy had splashed his half boiled egg on my shirt, unbeknownst to me (I wasn't sitting crammed up near him, so it must have been quite a projectile to hit me!). He was apologetic, but my automatic response was no expression and no acceptance of his apology (hahaha). I just took the wet wipes he offered and asked my colleague to help me get the liquid egg off. I didn't even look him in the eye. Apparently I looked 'garang' but I was feeling nothing, really.

3. A traffic policeman came and started issuing summons to the illegally parked cars. My colleague rushed off to repark her car. The guy and his female friend rushed off too. He had to settle the bill before rushing to his car, so I'm not sure whether he got a summon or not.

So that was it. He must've been having a 'bad luck' day, and I was no help to it. Sorry (in hind sight).

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Happy Cows, More Milk

Animals and even humans tend to have an innate tendency for collective behaviour, such as herd mentality, birds flock, fish shoal and well, how cows tend to stand up or lie down in synchrony. This review article on the research of Jie Sun et al. at Clarkson University in New York state, talks about the mathematical model for this dynamics and synchronisation in cows.

Just to pluck a portion from the article:
Cows are well know for their collective behavior: they tend to either all lie down or all stand up for example.
Happy cows tend to copy each other. And happy cows are also more productive by various measures such as the amount of milk they produce. Some researchers have even proposed that synchrony be used as a measure of the quality of bovine life.
The new model may help understand this. The model indicates that synchrony does not depend on the strength of coupling in a simple way. In fact, it predicts that an increase in coupling can reduce the level of synchrony.
That will ring a bell with many farmers who keep their cattle indoors during winter. They have long recognised that when cattle are so crowded that there is not enough room for them all to lie down at the same time, productivity drops dramatically. In fact, in some parts of the world there are rules about how much space cattle must have to lie down in.
Moral of the story: To sustain the supply of milk, keep your cows happy and never underestimate cow psychology and the science of it. (This article was interesting to read as I never imagined there were such research topics out there... well, at least I don't think we'll see that in Malaysia).

Monday, May 10, 2010

419 Scam on Facebook

I was reading about the Five hidden dangers of Facebook (Q&A) on cnet and discovered that what I went through a few months ago was actually called a '419 scam'. I never knew it had a name. I just thought that it was plain hacking into my account.

Anyway, this is what was said about the scam (and exactly what happened to me):
There is a common scam called a 419 scam, in which someone hacks your profile and sends messages to your friends asking for money - claiming to be you--saying, "Hey, I was in London, I was mugged, please wire me money." People fall for it. People think their good friend needs help--and end up wiring money to Nigeria.
And Wikipedia says that a 419 scam is also known as an advance-fee fraud. It is the same scam as those junk e-mails we get asking us to help them transfer a substantial amount of fund into our bank account, using it as a vehicle to get their money out of their country (usually one with an embargo). They will always cook a some sappy story of how they were once a noble family and someone's death had left them with a huge amount of inheritance. (I remember posting one of such emails on this blog a long time ago)

The number '419' refers to the article of the Nigerian Criminal Code (part of Chapter 38: "Obtaining Property by false pretenses; Cheating") dealing with fraud. And according to Wiki,
Insa Nolte, a lecturer of University of Birmingham's African Studies Department, stated that "The availability of e-mail helped to transform a local form of fraud into one of Nigeria's most important export industries."
Wow, fraud as an industry!

(Afterthought: I think I've heard of the term '419 scam' before... a long time ago while reading Reader's Digest... the article mentioned that a pastor fell for the scam and was too ashamed to admit it to his family. And he fell for it repeatedly, until he decided to lodge a police report... that was after he had lost hundreds of thousands of dollars)

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

In the news today: Certified No Pig, Make a Fool of Yourself to Win Votes

Pork-free dipsticks

This article tells of an invention by Kazakhstan scientists, where these dipstick tests can identify whether there is pork content in the food with just a glass of water to dissolve the food sample. I can imagine seeing this used in Malaysia, but I don't think our Malaysian halal food vendors are that cunning to add pork into their food. In fact, pork prices are escalating, so it wouldn't be cost-effective to the food seller.

Circus politics

How much cheesier can you get than politicians (especially in Southeast Asian politics). In the last general election here in Malaysia, we could actually see the childishness of these 'potential leaders', broad-day sabotage, billboard gimmicks, singing and dancing during campaign drives. Well now we get to read of similar antics in the Philippines here. Their case includes bad rapping, comedy and sexploitation. And what is with the increasing number of celebrities (drama actors, singers, boxers, you name it!) who are trying their hand in politics? It's becoming a fanfest rather than an election!

Sunday, May 02, 2010

"Good Job!", IRB

This year was my first time filing my taxes. Yes, I am now a legal tax-paying 'rakyat'. Anyway let me share my experience with the IRB here. It was an unexpectedly good one, I must admit.

I received my BE Form for year 2009 a couple of months ago in the mail. I was pretty skeptical of how the filing process would go, after hearing how tedious it was from various parties. Although I had learned how to compute personal and company tax in my ICSA taxation class, I wasn't too confident that I would be able to calculate the correct tax payable figure. So, I opted to apply for e-filing.

I followed the instructions on the BE Form to apply for an e-Pin number, e-mailing my particulars to the e-mail address printed on the paper form. Within the same day, I received an e-mail response from IRB instructing what further information they needed before they could issue me the e-Pin. FYI, they asked for my full name, MyKad number, tax account number, address, contact number and a front and back copies of MyKad.

Since I had to scan my MyKad, I could only furnish the required information a day later, which was a Friday. Then I waited, expecting them to take more than a week to reply me, since I'd submitted my request on a Friday (which is generally widely known to be a non-productive day for dealings with government offices). I waited till the whole working week was almost gone and still no e-mail in my Inbox. I was about to cuss them when I decided to sift through my Junk mail and found that the IRB had indeed replied me many days ago... and on a SUNDAY morning! Wow! That was in early March, so I don't think they had started their overtime schedule yet!

After that, it took me about a month to get my act together and try logging into my e-filing account. I was a bit blur there, as I kept clicking the B Form instead of BE Form. So I was getting frustrated for no apparent reason. After I discovered my folly, I was able to fill in the e-form with just a few tax terminology hiccups, which Google-ing helped smoothen out.

I submitted my BE e-form a few days later, slightly before the middle of April. The deadline was 30th April 2010. I was really surprised to receive a letter from IRB dated 21st April, informing me that my tax return had been processed and within 14 days, they would be sending me a cheque of the amount I had overpaid through the monthly tax deduction scheme (PCB - Pembayaran Cukai Berkala).

Less than a week later, I received the said cheque (dated 26th April, but postmarked 28th April). I was very pleasantly surprised! I never expected the IRB to be this efficient! Kudos to the IRB! Could this be the effect of the NKRA implementation? Imagine this, I received my tax refund cheque before the tax filing deadline! =)

Now I'm just awaiting a reply for the filing I did for mom. Hmm, I wonder whether she'll get a letter, since she won't be getting a tax refund...