Stinking Hot Weekend

We had a great weekend, except maybe Friday night. It started out really well. I got home just a bit after 5.30. I could really get used to this home early business. After my usual routine of putting everything away I settled down with a beer and talked to Kiddo while waiting for Tress to get home. We were talking about Kiddo’s lunch excursion to the Crown with her friends. It sounded like a good lunch so I thought she didn’t mind what we did for dinner. We decided to just wait for Tress.

She got home, and said she was thinking of that dish in the fridge I had cooked a day earlier so she got it out and warmed it up.

So there I was, not really sure what to do. I started to feel tired and unwell as both Tress and Kiddo prepared to leave for a crèche meeting way yonder in Keysborough. I was supposed to also go for another meeting, at the other end of the eastern side of Melbourne, way up in Warrandyte. That suddenly felt very tiring so I decided to skip that meeting – we just had a late Board meeting the night before and another long night didn’t appeal at all, especially one that requires a long drive away. Warrandyte is probably half an hour away from where we are. So I “called in sick” and stayed home to watch the tennis between Murray and Ferrer.

Tress and Kiddo got back from their meeting late and we just watched tv for a while more before calling it a night, as Tress and I had planned for a big day the next day.

After our usual coffee at our local Tress and I got home and got to work. The hedge plants had grown again since I last trimmed them late November. These “James Sterling” varieties grow really quickly and the constant rains we’ve had are both fuelling the growth even more as well as carrying water on the branches and leaves which cause them to bend, sag and grow out of shape. Constant trimming was the key.

As much as I trimmed them however, they have continued to grow – steadily but substantially that’s for sure. On Sat morning I was looking at 9-10feet tall James Sterling all around my eastern and northern fences. The Ozito trimmer was starting to look inadequate to be honest, but we managed – Tress and I managed to get them “cut down to size”, I mowed the lawn after, gave the deck a bit of a clean-up and fixed a side door which had a panel coming off a week earlier.

I have to google how tall these JS grow and if they grow any taller, I’d have to think about getting a taller ladder and maybe bigger tools…

We finished up just after 2.30, and we went out for some sushi and shopping. Later that night we caught up with Gerry and Jesslyn and little Sheanne, together with Jason, Mel and Sammy for dinner at this Szechuan place on Canterbury Road. The food was alright but all dishes tasted the same – they probably used the same basic spiced salt with loads of chillies – dried ones – and we needed loads of liquid to put out the fires. After dinner we adjourned to our home to cheer Li Na on in the Women’s Final s but Aussie Kim prevailed, which wasn’t a bad outcome either, so all in all, it was a wonderful evening.

Sunday was going to be a stinker of a day – with an expected high of 40 deg. I decided to go to church in shorts, something I rarely do. We were supposed to look after a member who is an elderly stroke victim and I wasn’t sure how the heat was going to affect him and thought I’d be better as comfortable as I can get myself, to ensure we look after him as well as we could.

After church Cheng Hsian came up and said he’d look after that member and asked that we do so in the next few weeks as he and Bernie were going away. I said no problems and proceeded to enjoy the EGM which took place, with a vote to rename our new church “LifeGate Church of Christ”. A few of us adjourned to the Glen to hide from the heat and parked ourselves there for a couple of hours, lunching and chatting to while away the arvo.

We got home later in the arvo, lazed around some more and dozed off on the couch – the heat is great in that it gives us the perfect excuse to just snooze away. The Four-X didn’t help with alertness either – I thought I’d give the Queensland flood relief my contributions by having their favoured brew – tasted more like the VB, which isn’t all bad. Really. Kiddo watched a really awful teenage flick called Mean Girls. For some inexplicable reasons, maybe the mind was numbed by the northern brew and the heat, I found myself watching with her and laughing at some of the scenes. It was an awful movie but I got on with the program.

Anyway, soon after it was Novak versus Andy and it soon became obvious Andy was a fiery Scott anywhere except Centre Court in the Rod Laver Arena and Novak was going to win his second Aussie Open title relatively easily. To be fair Novak was very good but Andy did all he could to make him look even better.

Right through the whole weekend – from a subdued Friday night to an exciting Aussie Open finale, the little black jedi master was in attendance. Scruffi is increasingly into our lives. The cute ebony furry ball was constantly at our legs, be it in the garden around the hedges and lawn clippings, on the deck, or on the couch in front of the tv. Sunday arvo we got home just for Tress to change her togs and for us all to get some water before going out again to get Kiddo a bag, so after being out for something like 6-7 hours we came back for less than 2 mins. That must have upset him heaps because he was thoroughly excited when we got first got home but when we returned again less than an hour later we found him chewing Tress’ shoes. Thankfully that wasn’t a pair she liked but that little jedi master hadn’t chewed on footwear for a long time now and we all thought it was probably because he was distressed at us leaving him the second time around, as we mostly came home and had time for him, unlike yesterday arvo.

The whole is expected to be stinking hot. Today’s 39 deg max and it would be in the 30’s for the rest of the week. Not good. Officially there are only 4 weeks left in the summer but somehow it feels like it will go on for a bit more.


Time Costs, Time Values

Life without laptop or blackberry – this job is brilliant for those absentees alone. Oh and no tramming. I get off on Parliament Station and it’s a 5-minute walk to the office. That is brilliant too. The office is bright, modern, has a huge kitchen/meals area with a few fridges, dishwashers and vending machines etc. A bit like in AIA except the number of people using them is much less. AIA felt like so many were crammed into whatever space there was. The facilities felt over-used and in my floor where the Legal team was, the kitchen was small and Spartan. This morning, I found out that one huge benefit remains unaffected – Friday casual! I turned up in my usual suit and tie but that’s ok – Fridays would be as before now.

To maximise the benefit of proximity of the train station to the office, I decided to switch back to the gym at Blackburn station. Otherwise I’d have to head in Melbourne Central and then either walk or tram the 3 blocks plus into the office, which is a waste of time.

So it’s back to the gym I used about 3 years ago. It used to be called the Beach House gym but now it’s Global One. Other than moving the machines around and creating an area/room for Pilates or yoga or something like that, the place remains unchanged from 3 years ago, which isn’t great as stuff look old and dated. The showers especially look even grottier now, but it is a price I’m willing to pay to make the most of the other advantage(s).

It’s the same on the return journey too. I’d take off about 10 minutes before 5 (yes!!!) and I’d be walking through my front door a little after 5.30. It feels crazy. This is easily 2 hours saved compared to my previous job. Last night, after getting home, I cooked dinner, washed up and had time to browse over some notes before the Church Board meeting. Tress and Kiddo had freshly cooked dinner – I can’t remember the last time they had this on a weekday. I have had to get from work straight to a Board meeting in the past, either grabbing some sushi rolls on the way or stopping home just for a quick bite and quite often rocking up late, after the meeting had started.

So, serious and major financial damage aside, taking on this job has been good in numerous other ways.

I am looking forward to having more time for studies to understand the Scriptures better, and to spend more time with people. Hopefully I don’t slide into a lazy contented mode with that extra time I am paying for. Life without laptops or blackberry is great provided the absent elements are appropriately replaced with things that matter more.

Malaysia – World Class Corruption (USD300billion left illegally)

Ask any man on the streets in Malaysia and to a man, you will hear this is all down to corrupt Ministers and their business cronies.

Ministers of all ranks have stolen from the people for years and years, and the business cronies they enriched have also taken money out – money earned purely as a result of who they know and who they grease. Revolting.

See this incredible story:

Close to USD300 billion left the country illegally

While the government has said Bank Negara is invstigating the massive illicit financial outflows, some analysts believe the probe should involve a larger number of agencies.

This is because the figures of a whopping RM889 billion (US$291 billion). said to be lost between 2000 and 2008, raises too many questions that involve many different aspects of governance, they said.

The large outflow would amount to a lot of “finger pointing”, Centre for Policy Initiatives chief economist Lim Teck Ghee said in a statement.

Therefore, an independent probe in the form of a royal commission of inquiry would be more appropriate.

“There can be no dispute that a major part of this outflow is due to financial gains accumulated through corruption, kickbacks and other illegal means.

“How much can be disputed, and can only be determined by a thorough investigation, such as through the establishment of a royal commission to determine the extent of and the reasons for the outflow,” he said.

NONELim said without an independent panel with access to banking and other financial data, “there will be needless speculation as to who are the parties implicated in these outflows”.

Last week Malaysiakini reported that Washington-based financial watchdog Global Financial Integrity released a study, which placed Malaysia fifth on the list of nations with the largest amount of illicit capital outflow.

The report defines illicit capital as that “illegally earned, transferred or utilised”, but could also include legally-earned money which was transferred out to avoid taxes.

Legitimate investment could be affected

Interestingly, while announcing the Bank Negara probe yesterday, Deputy Finance Minister Donald Lim questioned the veracity of the figures, asking why the US watchdog had not raised the alarm earlier despite having monitored the situation since 2000.

dr yeah kim lengMeanwhile, Ratings Agency Malaysia chief economist Yeah Kim Leng also called for a multi-agency probe, but led by the Performance Management and Delivery Unit (Pemandu).

This is because the agency is in charge of monitoring the implementation of the Najib Razak administration’s transformation programmes and reducing the level of corruption has been identified as one of the National Key Results Areas.

“However, to tackle the illicit financial outflows effectively, it will need the cooperation of frontline agencies such as the central bank, Ministry of Trade and Industry, Customs and the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission, among others,” Yeah said.

He added that the failure to take the report seriously could have an impact on Malaysia’s legitimate foreign direct investment, which is on the mend after suffering terribly in the 2009 global financial crisis.

“Endemic corruption remains a concern and any improvement in governance will certainly boost Malaysia’s attractiveness to foreign investors who have been slowly but steadily lured back by the government’s transformation programme,” he said.

Poor governance, pervasive corruption

NONEWhile the report, which was written by GFI economists Karly Curcio and Dev Kar, could not pinpoint the exact reasons for Malaysia’s illicit capital flight without further studies, it mentioned poor governance, increased inequality and pervasive corruption as likely factors.

Pakatan Rakyat leaders have also called for an inquiry on the matter, highlighting the fact that losing RM300,000 for every Malaysian between 2000-2008 through illegal means would put Malaysia on top of the infamy list.

This is greater than China, which lost US$2.8 trillion (RM8.55 trillion) in the same period but has a larger population as a well as higher gross domestic product.

Malaysia, which had a gross domestic product of RM679.69 billion in 2009, is the 30th largest economy in the world.

Intolerant Malaysian Muslims

Stories like the below just confirms how intolerant Muslims in Malaysia are, and that’s why Malaysia would continue to face massive problems in turning the country around. No light at the end of this tunnel, from the look of things.

Here’s the story from Malaysiakini:

Malaysian Islamic Development Department director-general Wan Mohamad Sheikh Abdul Aziz sees no need for a guideline on azan to be issued to mosques and suraus across the nation.

“There is no need for azan guidelines, in view that Islam is the official religion of the country,” he told Malaysiakini in an emailed message.

He was responding to calls from several quarters for a guideline to be issued because of the confusion on its practice in Malaysia’s multi-religious landscape.

Proponents of an azan guideline contend that such a ruling would help avert problems in the future.

NONEThe azan issue became controversial after a local resident complained to the Prime Minister’s Office, alleging that the call to prayer at the Al Ikhlasiah Mosque near his house in Pantai Dalam Kuala Lumpur, was too loud and requested that the volume be reduced.

His complaint sparked a ruckus when several NGOs gathered at the mosque and burned an effigy representing the complainant, to express their displeasure at his request.

The complainant, lawyer Ng Kian Nam, who had since apologised over the matter, said that he was not able to differentiate between azan and morning sermons.

It was the volume of the morning sermons that he wanted reduced, not the azan, he claimed.