Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Eh Poh Nim and Fun Words

The Star, 30 November 2005

Eh Poh Nim parks her car and makes her way towards the public library. As she passes by the locker area to the left of the entrance, she hears someone talking loudly.

“You’re a hopeless bibliobibuli!” a male voice says.

She stops in her tracks. Bibliobibuli! That’s a person after her own heart.

“Will you please get a grip on yourself? Look at this stack of books! How are you going to find time for me if you’re going to devour all these books during the weekend?” the voice continues.

“So what if I’m a bibliobibuli, huh? You knew from the start that I’ve always read too much and you said you could handle this habit of mine. Now you want to change me?” a female voice replies.

Eh Poh Nim creeps towards the locker area and peeps in. A young woman is standing with arms akimbo in front of the locker. With her hands on her hips and her elbows sticking out, she glares at the young man holding a stack of books in his arms.

“Didn’t you try to change me too? Remember Linkin Park’s concert? You tried to stop me from moshing!” the man says.

“That’s different. All that mosh was really mushing up my brain!”

Eh Poh Nim’s ears prick up like a dog detecting an unusual sound. Mosh – that’s a new word. She must brave the crossfire to find out the meaning of this strange word.

“Er ... excuse me, miss. Sorry but I couldn’t help overhearing what you said. May I ask the meaning of mosh?” Eh Poh Nim asks.

“Ask Darren! He should know!” She glares at Darren, then continues, “Mosh is to dance to rock music in a frenzied way with other crazy fans.”

“We’re not crazy! You’d better watch your tongue, Amy,” Darren says.

“I shall say what I like. Moshing at rock concerts is a waste of money!”

“How dare you say that! We mosh at rock concerts because we’re passionate about rock. It’s not a waste of money. Your reading addiction is. You bust your bank account every month buying new books,” Darren says.

“Books aren’t a waste of money! Reading expands the mind and increases knowledge. For example, do you know what bodewash is? See, you don’t. Thanks to reading, I do. It’s dried buffalo dung, used as fuel for fire.”

“So what if you know what bodewash is and I don’t. You’re not going to use it for barbeque, are you?” Darren shoots back.

Eh Poh Nim weighs her options. Should she back off and let these two fight it out or should she try to arbitrate? She can’t let a fellow bibliobibuli have a lover’s tiff. She’s been there and done that and she knows the heartache that follows. She decides to jump in at her own peril.

“Amy and Darren, listen to me.”

The feuding couple turn to look at Eh Poh Nim.

“If you guys want to have a donnybrook, I suggest you do it in the privacy of your home. A library is not the place for a heated public dispute,” Eh Poh Nim says.

“Excuse me. We were having a private discussion until you butted in. It’s none of your business,” Darren says.

“Yeah, but your argument was loud enough to be heard by everyone in the building. Even if my ears were stuffed full of cerumen, I’d still be able to hear it,” Eh Poh Nim says.

“What’s cerumen?” Darren asks.

“It’s another word for earwax,” Amy says. “She’s a show-off popinjay and a busybody to boot.”

“I’m not talkative and conceited!” Eh Poh Nim protests angrily.

“There she goes again. Showing off her knowledge of words. Do you know the meaning of kibitz?” Amy asks.

“To offer unwelcome advice,” Eh Poh Nim replies quickly, then wishes she hadn’t.

“That’s what you’re doing. Kibitz,” Amy says.

“For your information, ‘kibitz’ is usually used in the context of a card game,” says Eh Poh Nim.

“Whatever. I need to go to the biffy to puke, Darren,” Amy says. Seeing the blank look on his face, she adds, “Let’s go to the toilet where I can throw up and then we can continue our argument in private away from pokey noses.”

“Just a sec,” Darren says as he puts the books into a plastic bag. Then he pulls Amy towards him and drapes his arm around her shoulders.

“Goodbye, popinjay,” Amy says as they walk off arm-in-arm like Siamese twins.

Eh Poh Nim pulls a face. She can’t stand the mawkish display of affection. It’s overly sentimental. Well, her strategy has worked but she feels maligned. Is she a popinjay? Of course not. She gives herself a mental shake and strides into the library for a dose of quiet bliss.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Mabuhay Manila!

I'm going to Manila for the SEA Games. Not as a participant but as a supporterlah. Turn to today's Star backpage story and you'll see us Famemas members rearing to go support our athletes. (Ahem, first time I appear in newspaper backpage AND frontpage too. If not for Famemas, no chance for this 5-min of fame.)

If you're wondering what Famemas is all about, here's some info to enlighten you.

The Samsung Famemas Supporters Group was conceived by Samsung Malaysia Electronics in 2002 to promote the spirit of sportsmanship through supporting and inspiring Malaysian athletes to excel.

Famemas represents the combination of the word Fame and Malaysia. When spoken out loud, sounds like Famous - a reflection of our national athletes out to win glory and fame for Malaysia.

Since 2002, members of Samsung Famemas Supporters Group have been screaming their hearts out in fervent support of our beloved Malaysian athletes across the world – from the Olympics in Athens, the Asian Games in Korea to the SEA Games in Vietnam. It is the first official club that brings together hundreds of fun loving Malaysian sports-fans. Besides attending sports events to support our athletes, members of the Samsung Famemas Supporters Group can get of the latest news and updates on Malaysian sports at our website. Members can also the hottest topics on sports at our Forums or make new friends chatting with hundreds of other members online. Famemas also organizes other sporting activities like charity badminton, bowling clinics, Sunday jog and more to keep members in shape.

How did I make the cut for Manila? If you know me, you know the answer. Enter contest. 7 days all-expenses paid trip for a slogan. Not badlah. But then this is not a pleasure trip. It's a working holiday, if you please. We'll be in Manila to cheer our athletes and lift their spirits, not go gallivanting all over town. But of course all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, so our sponsor has kindly arranged for some free time so we can sight-see and shop a little.

The organizers will bring our cheering arsenal along : Jalur Gemilang, kompang and thunder sticks. (Better quality ones, we're promised. Those used in the Vietnam Sea Games went limp after one round of cheering.) On our part, we just have to bring voices along, and of course lots of Strepsils and Fisherman's.

Time to learn some rudimentary Tagalog.
English / Tagalog

Welcome(greeting) / Mabuhay!
Good morning / Magandang umaga
Good day / Magandang arao
Good afternoon / Magandang hapon
Good evening / Magandang gabi
Noon / Tanghali

How are you? / Kumusta ka?
I am fine / Mabuti naman
OK / OK din
Thank you / Salamat
Thank you very much / Maraming salamat
You're Welcome / Walang anuman
Good luck to you / Mabuting kapalaran sa iyo.
Goodbye / Paalam
Long-live / Mabuhay (Mabuhay is used for a variety of positive greetings)

I/We / Ako/Tayo
You / Ikaw
They / Sila
He/She / Siya

Yes / Oo/Opo
No / Hindi

What? / Ano?
When? / Kailan?
Where? / Saan?
Who? / Sino?
Why? / Bakit?
How? / Paano?
How many? / Ilan?
How much? / Magkano?

What is your real name? / Yon tunay na pangalan?
How do you say .... in Tagalog? / Ano sa Tagalog ang .....?
What is the meaning of ....? / Ano ang ibig sabihin nang ....? / Ano yun ....?
I am learning Tagalog / Nag aaral magtagalog
I am / Ako nga
I am from England / Sa England ako
Your country is very beautiful / Maganda ang bayan mo.
I am happy / Masaya ako.

Time / Oras
I love you / Mahal Kita
Please / Pakiusap

Up / Taas
Down /Baba
Left / Kaliwa
Right / Kanan
North / Hilaga
East / Silangan
South / Timog
West / Kanluran
Far / Malayo
Near / Malapit
Bad / Masama
Beautiful / Maganda
You are beautiful / Maganda Ka
Cheap / Mura
Expensive / Mahal

Big / Malaki
Small / Maliit

I see some similarity between Tagalog and Malay. Yes!

Monday, November 21, 2005


My household has been invaded by two types of aliens.

Alien No. 1 - the four-legged variety

I first saw sign of its presence by the little black droppings on my kitchen counter. The next day my suspicion was confirmed when I went out to the wet kitchen and heard scurrying feet ran behind the oven. A short while later, I saw it. Rats! It was quite big. I wish I had a jugful of hot water in my hands so I could send it to pest heaven. It escaped. I closed all the kitchen windows but I know it could still get into the house via the toilet and utility room windows which had fixed open window lourvres.

The next day, no. 1 son said he saw the rat in the utility room. That was bad news. I rushed to the room and true enough the rat had got to the packet of Milo lying around in a box with some other food stuff. I cleaned them up and got rid of the rat droppings. The Milo packet I wrapped up in a plastic bag and stashed it into an empty milk tin. Though it wasn't fit for human consumption anymore, my dog would deem it a heaven-sent. I went out into the backyard and closed up the two drainage holes from whence the rat must have crawled out from. I haven't seen the scoundrel since but I've got to borrow a mousetrap from my neighbour to trap it or hope that the dog will catch it soon.

Alien no. 2 - the two-legged variety

The alien first took over the body of son no. 1. Then he went and infect his brother. Just two days ago the take-over was complete when it conquered the man of the house. Great! Now there are three male aliens on the computers shooting and clobbering each other in cyberspace in order to make more and more material acquisitions. Their mothership is a game called Maple Story which has sent many a testosterone body into addiction.

That's why my blog has been rather inactive of late. The computer has been hijacked by these aliens. I'm just taking it easy for now but when my patience runs out I'm going to confiscate that little Internet connection wire so that those aliens can't get onboard their mothership.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Eh Poh Nim Crosses Proverbs

The Star, 16 November 2005

It is a slow day at work for Eh Poh Nim. This being a Friday sandwiched between a public holiday and the weekend, several of her colleagues had taken the day off.

She stifles a yawn but upon seeing Paul from Sales Department approaching her desk, she makes a big show of it.

“Hi, Ms. Eh. How are you? Rather quiet here today, isn’t it? I bought some cheese buns from the bakery downstairs. Have some.” Paul hands over a plastic bag with two buns in it.

“Thanks. The cheese looks rather burnt, don’t you think,” Eh Poh Nim says as she scrutinizes the bread.

Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth.” Paul winks at her as if they were the best of friends.

“Sorry. I shouldn’t question the value of the gift. Do you know the meaning of the proverb, beware of Greeks bearing gifts?”

“Don’t trust enemies who bring gifts because they may be playing tricks. But I’m not your enemy, Ms. Eh. Don’t be so suspicious.”

Eh Poh Nim gives herself a mental talking-to. Paul’s right. Though he’s as phony as a counterfeit bill, he’s hardly an enemy. She decides to change the subject.

“You look smart today. New shirt?”

“You noticed,” he sounds pleased. “Looking smart is one way of getting up the corporate ladder. As they say, clothes make the man.”

“Someone also said clothes do not make a man. Surely you’ve heard of the proverb, don’t judge a book by its cover?”

Paul wrinkles up his nose as if he has smelled something distasteful. “Are we having a lesson in proverbs here? You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.”

“One should never be too old to learn, Paul. Knowledge is power.”

“And ignorance is bliss. Just kidding. You’re right. Speaking of knowledge, I was wondering if you could let me have a set of your seminar material,” Paul says.

Aha! That’s what the cheese buns are for. Eh Poh Nim asks sweetly, “Which one?”

“The negotiating seminar you attended last week.”

“Oh, that one. I lent the file to my sister and she’s taken it to Singapore for bedtime reading. She’s on work assignment and won’t be back until a fortnight later.”

“It’s okay. Good things come to those who wait,” Paul says.

“It’s the early bird that gets the worm.” Eh Poh Nim bites into a cheese bun and can’t help thinking that the dry squiggly cheese bits look like worms.

“So your sister will be away for a fortnight huh? Is it a case of out of sight, out of mind for you?”

“On the contrary. Absence makes the heart grow fonder. When she’s around, we argue a lot. But when she’s away, I miss her. I suppose sometimes familiarity breeds contempt.”

There’s no reply from Paul who’s staring intently at Eh Poh Nim.

“What are you staring at? Is there a crumb on my face or something?” she asks.

“I just realized that we’d been crossing swords with each other the whole afternoon.”

“You mean the dueling proverbs?” she asks nonchalantly.

“That’s right. I say a proverb and you mention another which is contradictory to it. Okay, let’s see how good you are at this. What’s the opposite of look before you leap?”

“That’s easy : He who hesitates is lost.”

“How about empty vessels make the most noise?”

Eh Poh Nim stops munching on the bun and wrinkles up her forehead.

“Tough, isn’t it? Even I don’t know the answer to that one,” Paul says with a smirk.

“I know! The squeaky wheel gets the grease.”

“You made that up! I’ve never heard of this proverb.”

“I can prove it to you. Come over here.” Eh Poh Nim beckons Paul over to her side of the table. She pulls out her computer keyboard from underneath the desk and clicks on Internet Explorer. Then she googles the phrase “squeaky wheel gets the grease proverb.” She clicks on a result and scrolls down the list to the squeaky wheel.

“This website has a list of contradictory proverbs,” she says.

Sure enough, it’s there as a contradictory proverb to “a hollow pot makes the most noise.”

“Admit it, Paul, I’m right.”

“You’re quite smart, Eh Poh Nim. How about if I buy you a drink after work today? Birds of a feather flock together.” And he winks at her again.

“Thanks but no thanks. For me, opposites attract. I can’t stand it if my companion is as smart as I am,” she says with a straight face.

“Never mind. Remember to lend me those notes when your sister returns from Singapore, okay?” Paul says as he walks away.

Eh Poh Nim heaves a sigh of relief. She hopes he doesn’t ask her out again. It’s her policy not to date a co-worker. Especially not Triple P : Phony Pompous Paul.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Winner of 1 million Euros

That's me! That's me! I've won 1 million Euros. Yipee yay yay. I've become a millionaire without even trying. I didn't have to do anything. I didn't even buy the winning ticket as mentioned in the notification email below.


Microsoft B.V. Boeing Avenue 44 9459 PE Schiphol-Rijk.

Congratulations to you as we bring to your notice, the results of the First Category draws of MICROSOFT PROMOTION INT. We are happy to inform you that you have emerged a winner under the First Category, which is part of our promotional draws. The draws are being officially announced today 14th of November 2005. Participants were selected through a computer ballot system drawn from 2,500,000 email
addresses of individuals and companies from Africa, America, Asia, Australia,Europe, Middle East, and Oceania as part of our International Promotions Program.

Your e-mail address, attached to ticket number 50941465206-529, with serial number 5772-54 drew the lucky numbers 3-4-17-28-35-44 and consequently won in the First Category. You have therefore been awarded a lump sum pay out of 1,000,000 (One Million Euros), which is the winning payout for Category A winners. This is from the total prize money from 2,000,000 shared among the 2 winners in this category CONGRATULATIONS! Your fund is now deposited with the paying Bank. In your best interest to aviod mix up of numbers and names of any kind, we request that you keep the entire details of your award strictly from public notice until the process of transferring your claims has been completed, and your funds remitted to your account.

This is part of our security protocol to avoid double claiming or unscrupulous acts by participants/nonparticipants of this program. Please contact your claims agent immediately for due processing and remittance of your
prize money to a designated account of your choice:
To file for your claim,please contact the fiduciary agent.
Mr.Sticker van Haren,

You are advised to contact the agents by email.
Failure to do so may warrant disqualification.
NOTE: For easy reference and identification, find
below your Reference and Batch numbers. Remember to quote these numbers in your correspondence with your claims agent.


Congratulations once again from all our staff and thank you for being part of our promotions program.

Sincerely Yours,

N.B: Any breach of confidentiality on the part of the winners will result to disqualification.Contact your fiduciary agent immediately.

Wait a minute! I think I've just disqualified myself from the prize money. I'm supposed to keep this confidential till the money has been moved into my account.

Aah, well. Easy come, easy go.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Nano Advice from Paperback Writer

Paperback Writer is a prolific novelist with 31 published novels in five genres. I like to visit her blog for some writing inspiration.

Here is PBW's helpful list for Nanowrimo'ers. She's got plenty of other lists on her blog. If you're interested in Writing, you've got to check out the blog.

Ten Things for NaNoWriMo'ers

1. My first stop when hunting a title: I use the verse search engine to look for interesting phrases or lines from poems.

1a. My second stop: The Bonsai Story Generator.

2. Our friends to the north, the Canadian Authors Association, have a Writing Resources by Genre page.

3. When all else fails, talk to ELIZA.

4. Sami Pyörre offers the Everchanging Book of Names, a random name generator shareware program.

5. The Giallo Kit Generator offers a crash course in concise if bizarre giallo plot premises that sound like stuff a couple of writers I know would be interested in (not that I'm naming names, John, Stuart, Kate, Jon, James, Tam, Douglas . . .)

6.'s Grammar, Usage & Style page

7. Instant Muse Poetry Generator is supposed to help when you need a poetic line or phrase but your muse is out to lunch. All the lines start with "In the...", and I got: In the city of misery the weeds march.

8. Muse Creations offers a free trial download of Muse Names naming software that looks pretty neat, and if you scroll down you can get also some of author Vanessa Grants's writing templates for free.

9. Need a life? Download Educational Simulations' Real Lives for free.

10. For the wordless, WordGizmo (also good for those times when you have to name that vital stardrive component something but you have absolutely no idea what, i.e. "Captain, if you don't shut down the engines in thirty seconds the idübert will fail and the ship will blow up.")

Reproduced with permission. Thanks, Paperback Writer.

Saturday, November 05, 2005


We don't have four seasons here in Malaysia. At best we have two, rainy and dry. But don't we all have different seasons in our lives?

After buying my Kenwood Breadmaker, I went through a baking spree. Every other week we had home-made bread, basic butter buns, sausage rolls and the like. Nothing fancy, you understand. But eating the bread fresh from the oven with a generous slather of margarine melting in between its folds is an experience that can't be store bought. That was a couple of years back. I haven't been baking bread for who-knows how long. Only my parents-in-law know because I used to bake bread for them whenever they're down in KL. After hearing put3put4 talk about his South African roti, I thought I'd better shake off the dust from the Kenwood and bake a fresh batch. So I did. Nothing fancy. Basic butter buns but with chocolate chips decorating the top. Gave half to the in-laws while the other half disappeared in a flash into our tummies.

Then there was my sewing season. At one time I was crazy about sewing. I'd just moved into my new house and wanted to have new curtains for my house. So I spent a couple of months sewing curtains for every door and window in the house. Then it was bible-covers. Some padded, some not. A couple of years before that I even sewed "quilts" for my kids. I use this term loosely because they weren't those nice, homely quilts with Beatrix Potter like designs on them. They were just two cloths with foam in between them.

November is Nanowrimo. National Novel Writing Month. I can't write a novel in a month. I took 3 months to knock out 70,000 words of vomitty first draft earlier in the year. After that, I'd been trying to rewrite. Second, third, fourth attempts have been made without much progress : a couple of chapters per attempt. It was pathetic. Now I'm in my fifth attempt to rewrite, and this is only the second draft. Tis the season for novel rewriting. Hopefully I can finish it by end of November, in line with the Nanowrimo spirit.