US Visa Interview

My daughter’s US Visa application process..

Here’s an update – We received the Visa today, by courier, 2 days after the visit to the Embassy. Nice. I am impressed 🙂

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I’ve been so anxious about my US visa interview for weeks and it turned out to be okay! It was much simpler than I thought.

First, I had to queue up outside the embassy which is at Jalan Tun Razak, KL. I queued up a good 15 minutes, I think, wasn’t long. My appointment letter said 10am, so the sun wasn’t scorching hot above my head while waiting.

At the first stop they’ll ask for you passport and IC. They’ll keep your IC here. Then you’ll have to queue for the second stop, which is a small room at the entrance of the embassy.

At the second stop, some nice abang polis will ask you to empty your pockets and leave behind all your electronics. I told them I had no pockets and they laughed lolll and when they asked for my phone they said “phone pun takde??” then they…

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Merdeka lah

flag kidsMalaysia

This country is not perfect

Our politicians are not

Our planes sometimes fall off the sky

The weather’s humid, and now the haze is coming back

Groceries are getting expensive

And we could go on and on, complaining, bitching

But hey, we’re 59 today.

 

If you are 59 today, you could choose to say that you’re life’s not perfect

That your parents had never been

And your car breaks down too often.

 

Or you could say that you’re thankful for all that life has given you

And that you look forward to a fulfilling old age.

 

This country and this life is really yours for the taking

The choice is yours

Make it matter

Come on, get up, do something.

 

Stop bitching on Whatsapp, Facebook, Twitter

Unless you’re in a position of power, you are not changing anything

You’re just stressing yourself and your ‘friends’

That’s not being apathetic, that’s being realistic

Stop complaining, start living.

 

The change starts with you. Yes you, that person in the mirror

Don’t stress about things that you can’t change

Make the most of this bumi yang dipijak

And langit yang dijunjung.

 

It is your duty to make the most of this life

You have only one life on this earth

And make the most of this country, it is your duty

In the end, there is only one Malaysia.

 

Selamat Hari Merdeka!

Merdeka lah

 

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Masih Syawal, Boleh Minta Maaf Lagi

 

Emak Abah.pngAssalamualaikum.

Hari ini 28 Syawal, esok 29. Bulan ni, kita secara tradisi bermaaf-maafan antara satu sama lain. Tapi, dalam kesebokan hidup harian, walaupun dah 28 hari, kita mungkin terlepas pandang. Terlupa nak minta maaf zahir batin dengan Emak, dengan Abah. Maklumlah ramai orang datang raya kan? Banyak lah pulak nak pergi open house kawan2, open house boss dsb. Mungkin abang, kakak, adik pun kita lupa nak minta maaf termakan, teminum, terkata, terbuat. Mungkin.

Jangan bimbang, ni ada berita baik! Hari ni dan esok masih Syawal, bulan yang mulia. Ada lagi masa nak minta maaf, nasib baik! Sebaik2nya, pergi jumpa Emak, Abah dan adik-beradik. Salam, cium tangan diorang, minta maaf. Kalau nak bagi duit raya, lagi bagus. Ok, ok, kalau sebok teramatlah sangat, tak dapat jumpa juga, sekurang-kurangnya call diorang. Jangan tunggu-tunggu, buat sekarang. Ko tak mungkin menyesal nanti. Mungkin ini kali terakhir kita dapat minta maaf daripada dia orang ;-(

Lagi satu pesanan, dah mintak maaf dalam bulan ni, marilah kita bertekad untuk menjadi ayah, emak, anak dan ahli keluarga yang dicontohi. Buat apa yang diperintah tuhan mu yang esa, Allah Ta’ala dan jauhkan apa yang dilarang. Kebajikan yang kita lakukan untuk orang lain lah yang membuat kita tenang dan menganugerahkan kita tempat di antara yang solihin, InsyaAllah.

Lusa nanti dah 1 Zulkaedah pulak. Kalau Syawal tu masa kita bersuka-ria, ziarah-menziarah, daripada hari lusa ni, kita mula bekerja semula, mencari nafkah di bumi ini, membuat kebajikan, dengan gigih. Jangan ngada-ngada nak ber-open house lagi. Dah habis dah raya.

Pergi jumpa dia orang minta maaf ya? Jangan lupa. Hari ini.

Maaf Zahir Batin. Wassalamualaikum

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33 Reasons To Run

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  1. You had a bad day
  2. You had such a great day
  3. You’re looking for inspiration
  4. You hit writer’s block
  5. The weather is wonderful
  6. The weather is horrible
  7. You have a headache
  8. It’s a new day
  9. It’s the end of the day and you haven’t exercised
  10. You’ve got a 10K run next week
  11. You’re procrastinating on that dang proposal
  12. You’ve got 101 things to do
  13. You don’t have a thing to do
  14. You haven’t run today
  15. You didn’t run yesterday
  16. You haven’t run for a long time
  17. You need to lose weight
  18. You quarelled with the boss
  19. You quarelled with the wife
  20. There’s no better cardio workout
  21. You hate the treadmill
  22. It costs nothing
  23. It’s the simplest exercise ever
  24. You can do it anywhere
  25. It gets you out of the house
  26. Someone borrowed the bicycle
  27. Your knees make cracking noises, or worse..
  28. Your knees hurt
  29. It has stopped raining
  30. I want to grow old gracefully
  31. There’s no reason not to
  32. The news is depressing
  33. You got legs
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Alif The Baby Turtle

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This is Alif, a name given by my kids to him just before we sent him overseas. If it’s female, it might come back to this same spot in Cherating in 40 years. And that’s a big ‘might’. Alif’s chance of survival is 1 in 1000, i.e. 0.1%. Once in the sea, all manner of predators will be after him. You’d have to be super smart, strong and lucky to survive.

Despite these odds, Alif could be considered lucky. Many of his peers don’t even get to hatch out of their eggs. Some of these eggs are poached by locals and sold secretively, illegally. Alif is a Penyu Agar, or Green Turtle. This year is a relatively good year for his species – there’s been numerous sightings for the past few months and this is expected to go on till August. Some of Alif’s more distant relatives, like the Leatherback, have just stopped coming to this coast to hatch – whether they’ve just stopped coming here or gone extinct is anybody’s guess.

The life-cycle of sea turtles around the world are remarkably similar. On a beach like Cherating, mama turtle deposits about 100 soft-shelled eggs, about the size and look of ping-pong balls and buries them in the sand with her flippers. She then swims back to the sea, never to see her children ever again, except by chance, I suppose. If the human-poachers or other animals don’t get to the eggs first, little babies, much like Alif, will hatch after about 20 days, typically within minutes of each other. They then run (yes, run!) to the water to begin their amazing race.

Let me digress a little.

The Turtle Sanctuary in Cherating, which is under the purview of the Pahang State government, is tasked to assist in the long-term survivability of turtles that come round to Pahang to lay their eggs. They also want to see to it that these creatures continue returning to these shores year after year. These initiatives include ensuring that the eggs are not stolen, by sealing off known nesting sites at night. They also help the baby turtles get a head-start in life by releasing them from the beach. You can help them do this by releasing the little ones yourself, at RM5 an egg. All the money goes back to turtle conservation. The employees will flatly refuse tips.

Once in the water, the turtles do what all of us do – try to make something out of their lives. They eat, sleep, get married, have children and die – except that most of them don’t get to the adult/get married bit. 999 out of 1,000 end up as other creatures’ lunch or get entangled in fishing nets or die out of eating plastic bags that are often mistaken for food. The years between 0 and 40 are called the ‘lost years’ because scientists don’t really know what these guys do or even where they are during these years. Tracking technology has not been around that long and even the current tracking technologies don’t have batteries that last 40, let alone 100 years! At the same time, these are the critical years, if you can survive the first 40, you’ll probably live till 100!

If Alif were female and survive the lost years, she should be back here in around 2056, a point at which I should be in my lost years. My children and their kids might be in Cherating again, releasing Alif’s babies. And you and I wanna make sure that that will actually happen!

But why should we be concerned about Alif and all the other turtles? Because we’re ALL inter-connected – you, me, the plants, the animals, including the turtles – even beings that our forefathers considered inconvenient or disgusting even – like the bees, bats, termites. We all play a part in the big scheme of things in this universe. Removing or deleting parts of this ultra-complex mathematical equation upsets the ecosystem and will surely affect us all in the long or even near-term.

So What?

Here’s what you can do to help the turtles survive

  • Don’t eat turtle eggs. Don’t buy turtle eggs
  • Don’t watch turtles laying eggs – that stresses them out, and might discourage them to come back the following year
  • Go visit the Turtle Sanctuary – get a better appreciation of what’s at stake
  • Don’t throw plastics (and other non-biodegradables) at sea

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“There is not a moving creature on earth, nor a bird that flies with its two wings, but are communities like you. We have neglected nothing in the Book, then unto their Lord they shall be gathered.” [Quran 6:38]

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4 Tips to Prevent Prostate Enlargement

If you’re under-18, please get your parents’ consent before you continue reading this, because things get pretty ‘adult’ near the end 😉

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Alright gentlemen, please listen up because this is about YOU. Ladies are welcome too, for this write-up can actually benefit you too. This article is about steps that you could take to help prevent Prostate Enlargement aka BPH, or Benign Prostate Hyperplasia.

Definitions

First, let’s get the definitions of these big words out of the way (courtesy of Dictionary.com)

  • ‘Benign’ means not cancerous;
  • ‘Prostate’ is an organ that surrounds the urethra of males at the base of the bladder, comprising a muscular portion, which controls the release of urine and a glandular portion, which secretes an alkaline fluid that makes up part of the semen and enhances the motility and fertility of sperm;
  • ‘Hyperplasia’ is an enlargement of a part due to an abnormal numerical increase of its cells.

This article is not about what BPH is, nor is this about curing BPH. Those things you can google. We are talking here about prevention. It’s about things you can and should be doing. Oh, and btw, BPH and Prostate Cancer are two entirely different things. And this short essay is not about Prostate Cancer. It is about the prevention of Prostate Enlargement, i.e. BPH.

Who can get BPH?

I was drawn to writing this because I know a close family member who had had this condition but is recovering, thankfully. Also, news about friends who have BPH are getting more and more frequent. According to US statistics, the incidence of this condition is more than 50% for men over 50. Stats on Asian men are less forthcoming on the Internet, but it’s probably not very different.

BPH begins to rear its ugly head at the 40-year mark and by the time you’re 70, your chances of getting afflicted is about 80%.

Disclaimer

Let’s be clear on this – I am not a medical doctor. I am just a (cool) guy who has a relative that had experienced this inconvenient BPH condition. I also have some friends who are beginning to get it. So, let’s just say, I’ve been doing some googling and curated my findings herein. What I’m preaching here is what I’ve been practising the past few years. And it’s worked for me, so far.

Please take these tips if you find them useful. None of these tips cost you anything, except one, and even that is almost nothing anyway.

4 Tips to Fight BPH

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1.When you pee, after that last drop, don’t just store your banana away. Exercise the perineal muscles, that are right behind the ping-pong balls 10 times. (These muscles are apparently interchangeably  called perineal, levator, or pelvic-floor muscles.) That way, the prostate gets a little workout. Besides, it also ensures that all your pee goes into the bowl and you don’t wet your underpants on your way out of the boys’ room, as older men are wont to do. And do wash your fruit with water before you put it away.

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2.Exercise those muscles. These are the same perineal muscles described above. Just squeeze, hold for 5 seconds, then gradually relax those muscles to a slow count of 5 seconds. Then repeat –  squeeze, hold, relax. This you can do anytime, anywhere – in the car, in the office, at home, on the bus, literally anywhere. No one would know 😉  BTW, this exercise is called the Kegel Exercise. Check out the ‘further reads’ below if you want to know more.

I normally do 50 ‘reps’ just before bed. Now, the side benefit is this. Guys, listen carefully. It gives you better ‘control’ during copulation. Just like everyone has been telling you since you were young – exercise is good for you! Control guys, control.

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3.Pumpkin seeds. This is a traditional Western prescription to fight prostate enlargement. Just pop a few seeds in your mouth every day and it’s asta la vista BPH, god-willing. You can get these for almost nothing at your grocer’s or supermarket. Either take them raw or roasted. Put them in a bottle on the kitchen table so that you remember to take them every day. They’re practically tasteless, though some people actually do like them.

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4.Copulate regularly. No bad side-effects here. It’s all good, all fun. You can do this with your partner, however, whenever you like. But seriously, if circumstances render this impracticable, you can go solo 😉

If you forget everything else I’ve said here, just remember this word – Control. Ahem.

 

Further reads:

1.Kegel Exercises for Men from WebMD

http://www.webmd.com/urinary-incontinence-oab/kegel-exercises-treating-male-urinary-incontinence

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The Best Dang Teacher on The Planet

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Atan Khamis is my father. He’s 81 and officially retired from the government service. He wasn’t a formal teacher. Never taught in a proper school, except for a very short time. But most of our foundation education, we owe it to him. Although his formal education credentials are not impressive, he was, to me and to many of *us, the best dang teacher on the planet.

*us here means my brothers and sisters. It also means many of my cousins who used to live near us. And it also means the neighbours’ kids – from around 1964 to 2013. He’d always converted parts of the houses that we’ve lived in into part-time or full-time classes. Thanks to Encik Atan, under his tutelage many of these children blossomed into straight A students. And often, these were kids whom their parents had given up on. Many of these former students have gone on to become successful professionals, academics and businessmen.

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Dad was doing the 3R’s long, long before the term was invented, let alone being deemed fashionable. His specialties were English and Math. The 8 Parts of Speech, the Arithmetic Times-Tables were absolute musts in his books. If you don’t ‘get’ those, you will “get it”. He also did Science, Islam basics, Drawing, Bahasa Melayu, typing skills (!) etc but with somewhat lesser emphases. ‘English is the language of the world. And Mathematics is the language of Science.’

I wouldn’t be half the person I am now without tuition by my No.1 teacher. And I’m sure I speak on behalf of the hundreds of successful people that have graduated from the classes of Cikgu Atan.

To Abah, thank you. You are the best.

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