Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Spotlight on Malaysian Life

The Sun, Wed, 27 December 2006

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Honk on Selamat Pagi Malaysia

Interview by Sayed Munawar on Resensi Sabtu, the book review segment of Selamat Pagi Malaysia, TV1 on Saturday, 23 December 2006.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Launch of Honk If You're Malaysian

Here are 12,000 words on the launch of Honk! on 16 Dec 2006 at Crowne Plaza Mutiara Hotel (a picture say a thousand words). For an account of the event, please visit my blog.

The registration table

The audience

Honk! is launched by Dato' Ng Tieh Chuan,
CEO of MPH Group

Speech time

The hardworking MPH gang (L-R)
Dato Ng, Mr. Tai, Alice, Kim, Eric, Shirley and Erine

With Susan, Xandria (woo-wit), Eric and Lynette (L-R)

With Connie, Daryl and Suzie (L-R)

With Cordy and Yvonne(L-R)

Signing Honk! for Ilene

Signing Honk! for Ted

Signing Honk! for young Tania

My kids and nieces the honkers

Monday, December 18, 2006

The joy of giving at MPH

The Star, 18/12/2006

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Blow your own trumpet

Aneeta Sundararaj conducted an interview with me at her How To Tell A Great Story website. Here's an excerpt.

Writers must be hungry. If you can write but you don’t hunger to write, you won’t write. To succeed as a writer – and this doesn’t necessarily mean raking in the big bucks like J.K. Rowling – you’ve got to be hungry.
Click here to read the interview in full.

Monday, September 25, 2006

E-books a hot topic at session with authors

The Star, 28 Aug 2006

PETALING JAYA: The question of whether consumers would switch from conventional books to virtual books was the hot topic of discussion at the MPH Megastore at 1 Utama Shopping Centre here.

Moderated by Lydia Teh, author of Life’s Like That, the two-member panel comprising author Shoba Mano and writer-cum-editor Eric Forbes discussed the topic ‘Virtual Books and its Impact on the Book Industry in the Future.’

The event was held during the ‘Hi-Tea with Local Authors’ session organised by MPH Bookstore. It was part of MPH’s ‘Support Malaysian Authors Campaign,’ which was launched three years ago.

“There is a definite future for e-books (electronic version of books) as it is slowly entering the lives of Malaysians today,” said Shoba, the author of Prodigal Child.

Forbes said that he would not rule out the possibility of reading an e-book despite his profound love for print work.

Around 50 local authors were at the event to show their support for the campaign as well as to meet their fans and share their experiences with aspiring writers.

Friday, September 22, 2006

On the tail of copycats : Star, 2/4/2006

The Sunday Star

SIMON Khong (not his real name) was loath to admit that he had cheated in a contest a few years ago.

“I don’t really feel comfortable talking about it,” says the 28-year-old.

“But I suppose it’s all right as long as I remain anonymous.”

Khong, an engineer in the IT industry, confessed that he had resorted to plagiarism when he entered a contest sponsored by a well-known food company.

“Participants were supposed to include the wrapper of a certain kind of chocolate and complete a slogan in not more than 15 words,” he says.

The top prize was a television set and Khong, who had just started working at the time, was keen to win it.

“I’m not creative enough to come up with a good slogan so I looked it up in the Net using a few key words,” he says, rather sheepishly.

Khong’s deception was not detected, which was fortunate for him but unfortunate for other participants who had spent time coming up with original slogans.

Khong says he did not win the TV but received a consolation prize. “I’m sure I’m not the only one who has cheated,” he says, rather defensively.

Lydia Teh believes that there are indeed many people who resort to plagiarism when it comes to contests that require entrants to submit a slogan.

Teh is author of Congratulations! You have won!, a book on how to win commercial contests and competitions.

A housewife in her 40s, Teh says she enjoys taking part in all sorts of contests, especially those that require writing a slogan. She has won an array of prizes including RM30,000 cash and a trip to Greece.

It is indeed unfortunate that people resort to plagiarism and seem to have no qualms about “borrowing” creativity from another source, usually via the Internet, she says.

Teh relates how, a few years ago, she came across a letter in the “Letters to The Editor” page of a national daily. The writer was complaining about a winning entry in a slogan-based contest.

“Apparently, the person who wrote the letter had read my book and realised that the guy who won the contest actually used a slogan, word for word, from my book,” she says. Her book has a chapter with a compilation of slogans.

“The slogans that I compiled in my book are not mine and have actually been published before so they are public domain. The guy who plagiarised the thing either read it from my book or copied it from somewhere else,” she says.

There is little that can be done to curb this kind of blatant plagiarism, Teh says.

“As far as I know, nobody came up to explain anything. The person who complained can highlight it but the fact remains that people can plagiarise all they want.”

Teh’s matter-of-fact stance stems from her belief that it is nearly impossible to identify plagiarism in contests. There is no foolproof method of distinguishing between original slogans and plagiarised ones, she says. “There is no way to check. They (the judges) can use the Internet to do a search but not every slogan is there.”

Despite her conviction that copycats are hard to pin down, Teh offers a suggestion on how to reduce their numbers. A comprehensive database of past winners could be the answer, she suggests.

“Let’s say a PR company is organising a contest for their client. They should create a database of the slogans on every entry. Perhaps the database can even be shared between PR agencies.”

The existence of a master list of slogans would, at the very least, make people think twice about using someone else’s creative output, Teh reasons.

“If people know that there is such a system in place, they may think twice before they plagiarise.”

Josephine Lim, managing director of a promotions agency who has been in the public relations industry for more than 10 years, has organised slogan-writing contests as well as judged some of them. But her viewpoint is totally different from Teh's.

Lim, 39, says she has never really come across any winners who submitted answers copied from somewhere else. She feels that plagiarism in slogan-based contests is not a serious problem because it is really not that easy for participants to cheat.

“Judges look at three main criteria in slogans – creativity, originality and brand relevance,” she says.

In other words, says Lim, each contest requires a vastly different kind of slogan and that is why lifting from other sources to fit in with a particular contest is quite a challenge.

“Some contests need a 15-word slogan and some just two words. There are so many variations and criteria.”

Besides, says Lim, the issue of plagiarism in slogan-writing contests may be irrelevant soon because contests themselves are becoming a thing of the past.

“Slogan writing appeals to only a select group of people,” she says.

“That’s why many of my client companies tell me that they don’t want to organise contests that require slogans to promote their products.”

However, Lim does acknowledge that there will always be people who will try to win in less than honest ways.

“I have no doubt that if there is an opportunity to cheat people will try because it makes life easier,” she states.

“But, when all is said and done, there is no guarantee that the copycat is the one who will walk away with a prize.”

Monday, September 18, 2006

The Power to Publish : The Star, 19/12/2005


It was a cold, dark night in suburban Petaling Jaya. Rain lashed the window and lightning streaked shadows on the walls. In the lull between the crashes and grumbles from the sky came a soft rapping at my chamber door. Who could it be?

Certainly not fame, let alone that agent of fame otherwise known as The Publisher. They don’t tend to come a-knocking, as any struggling author will tell you.
Got a killer manuscript though? Why not have a go at publishing it yourself? You might just follow in the footsteps of 19-year-old Christopher Paolini (of Inheritance trilogy fame), Alan and Barbara Pease (Why Men Don’t Listen and Why Women Can’t Read Maps) and James Redfield (the Celestine Prophecy). All of whom landed contracts with publishing colossus Random House at the end of the road less travelled.

Perhaps their talents (I use that term loosely) would not have gone unnoticed by mainstream publishers for long. Maybe self-publishing just catapulted them to a position they would have attained in time anyway. But what about the other authors out there whose sole asset is of the liquid sort?

For up until recently, only professionals dedicated to the business of producing books could afford to run a printing press, and pay their menagerie of: authors, editors, sub-editors, designers, layout artists, proofreaders, typesetters, printers, distributors, marketing and administrative executives (phew).

With such a set-up, small print-runs were too expensive. So publishers printed large runs, which they had to make sure were saleable.

Got a killer manuscript? Why not have a go at publishing it yourself?
This forced them to screen manuscripts with a fine comb.

After all, while writing might be an art, publishing is a business. Every business needs to make money.

But that was before the advent of digital technology and desktop publishing (creating book layouts with computers). Since the late 1980s/early 90s, the status quo between authors and publishers has changed slightly.

Conventional publishers will always hold the lion’s share of the market. But now more people can afford to produce small runs of books for themselves. And such authors – self-publishers – don’t have to brave a gauntlet of scrutiny and approval to do so. But to who’s benefit/detriment is this: theirs or the reading public? For if money buys the last word, what watchdog is left to guard the final product?

Are all self-published books self-serving and self-indulgent? What function does self-publishing fulfil? Is it something to be proud of, as a fast-track way to catch the eye of publishers? Or a last ditch resort taken when publisher after publisher has rejected your manuscript?

“I don’t doubt that there are good writers struggling to get published, but I don’t think we can blame publishing houses for rejecting a majority of manuscripts. Their role to filter out gratuitous writing and to publish works that appeal to the larger audience is very important,” says one freelance book reviewer.
Lydia Teh, a local freelance writer, advocates going with convention for the serious author.

“Personally, I would stick with the publishers. I feel it’s important to get the input of a third party who’s objective because it gives us more credibility,” she says.

Teh’s collection of short articles, Life’s Like That, was published by Pelanduk Publications published last year. Tony Lacey, publishing director of Viking UK, Penguin’s most diverse publishing arm, is more direct.

“Self-published books hardly figure in the stores at all. I don’t think it is snobbery; the fact is, most self-published books are not very good. Otherwise they would be picked up by the many mainstream publishers.

“They can be therapeutic for the author, and admired by his family, but that doesn’t make them good or saleable,” he says.

On the flipside, there are authors who take pride in self-publishing. “If I can do it on my own, I don’t see why I should go to a (conventional) publisher. I know what I want; I know what the book should be,” said Datin Anna Lim. Lim, who recently released her self-published memoirs Beauty & Beyond: The Journey of a Beauty Queen.
Georgianna Das is another local author who took the self-publishing plunge with The Goddess Within in 2004. She initially approached a regional publisher, but deemed their terms unrealistic.

“I would have had to come up with quite a lot of money up front (an advance) for printing etc. and sign a lot of my rights over,’’ she says. “I felt I would be losing as an author.”

From a publisher’s view, Das’ self-enrichment book could be considered too personal and a high risk. Hence the advance as a financial guarantee. However, Das’ first edition of 1,000 books has since sold out, and she is in the process of producing a second edition of 5,000. So it would seem she hasn’t done that badly.

“If you want to pay me, fine, I’ll take a risk. (But) why should I pay somebody to boss me around? I am not going to fight a publishing system that is not mature,” she says.

Which reminds us that publishers, or reviewers within publishing houses, are human. As such, their judgements are not infallible.

“A publisher might think there’s a market for a book, but only time will tell whether it will sell or not,” cautions Teh.

Indeed, Lacey concedes that there are exceptions to publishing convention when it comes to the genre of non-fiction.

“There are a myriad niche markets with highly specialised authors. The individual guru is a romantic concept, and the self-publisher can build on that,” he says.
British publishing authority Jonathon Clifford has this sensible piece of parting advice for would-be self-publishers:

“You must look on the whole process of publishing not as money to make a return, but as money spent on a pleasurable hobby ... providing you with well-manufactured copies of your book.

“If you do also manage to make a small profit, then that should be looked upon as a bonus!”

And if you’re still worried about bookstores being flooded by indiscriminate rubbish (much in the same way the Internet has been flooded by rubbish blogs because of a similar lack of screening), take comfort in bookstore democracy.
One book reviewer put it thus, “I don’t really care whether a book is self-published or not, as long as the content itself is good. I think most people would consider the writer first, then whether the book appeals to them."

The pros and cons of self-publishing

• You’re in control of the book; it can be whatever you want it to be. Datin Anna Lim’s Beauty & Beyond: “ I love this concept where it’s not a book you read, look at the pictures and you’re finished with it. To me it’s like a life story, a coffee table book, but a collector’s item as well.” Indeed, “you don’t have to be a young aspiring beauty queen to read the book”, but it would be “good if you were, and wanted to understand what a beauty queen’s life is like”.
• Lydia Teh: “You work at your own pace; with a publisher, you need to have lots of patience. Publishing houses have their own schedules drawn out, and lots of other titles ahead of yours. The basic time frame from acceptance to rolling off the press (locally) is one year to one and a half years.”
• You might catch the eye of mainstream publishers; Georgianna Das claims she has requests to ghostwrite other books following the production of The Goddess Within.
• You can set your own price. Lim’s B&B for example, is going for RM99.
Lim: “I think RM99 is a price most people can afford. It’s less than RM100, I spent so much time and effort on it, and it’s quite good quality.
“I think it’s quite fair, and not too much for a young lady who really wants to buy the book.”
Having said that, leading regional distributor Pansing says authors should generally expect a lot less than half the sale price of the book after factoring in the bookstore’s cut and discounts, distributors cuts, transportation, etc.
• You can dictate where your books go. Das: “Local publishers’ distribution channels are not fantastic. There are so many local books I don’t see when I go to bookshops overseas. I don’t want my book to get stuck and be caught in an agreement where you can’t do any distribution myself.”
• You keep all your revenue; standard royalty payments at Pelanduk Publishing are set at about 10%. Local publishers do not offer advances but they do review unsolicited manuscripts. Viking UK, a division of Penguin UK, typically offers advances that vary from £1,000 to £1mil, and royalties between 7.5% and 10%.
• Lim: “You have to oversee the whole project yourself; it’s so hands-on. If you’re a self-publisher, a lot of time and effort has to be spent if you want to do a really good book. If someone else does it for you, you can just hand it to them.”
• As such, you need the right contacts. Das: “I know some of the top editors in town, I had a very good photographer and graphic designer. You have to think about whether you have these resources.”
• Teh: “The biggest headache is distribution; no matter how good your book is. If it’s not in the bookshop then everything is futile.”
• Das: You have to be in a place or business where you know you can push the book (Das runs her own training academy); if you’re not confident about how the book is going to do or how to sell the book, you shouldn’t take this route. It’s a risky one.
• Tony Lacey: “You’re taking all the financial risk with no income upfront. Fundamentally, writers should reserve their energies for writing! Do they really want to spend their time worrying about stock control, distribution, etc?”
How much are we talking about here? Das’ outlay for her first run of 1,000 copies was in the region of RM50,000, supported by revenue from her business. Lim’s ran up to RM200,000, most of which came from corporate sponsors.
• You won’t get the validation / credibility, call it brand name recognition if you like, that comes with being accepted by a respected publisher. Leading regional distribution group Pansing feels that while an author might have what he thinks is a good book, a publisher would be able to decide if it will be successful in the general market.
• And while Pansing won’t turn them down cold, they feel publishers with small portfolios are not economically viable.
An irreducible amount of expenditure is incurred in any interaction between a publisher and distributor. The more books the publisher has to sell, the more worthwhile they are to talk to. A distributor can’t afford to have too many expensive conversations.
• For the same reason, bookstores do not generally deal directly with authors. Renee Koh, marketing manager of MPH Sdn Bhd: “Where we can, we always try to help local authors who self publish. Even so, they need to go through a distributor first to ensure their books are ‘taken care of’.”

Friday, September 15, 2006

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Five Teleworking Mothers Honoured As Best In Contest

The Star, 31 May 2004

KUALA LUMPUR: For writer Lydia Teh, playing jigsaw puzzle with her daughter and making roast chicken and home-baked buns are the “luxuries” of working from home.

“I wanted to be a stay-at-home mum. Initially, I was contented being a homemaker, but over time I realised that I could work from home and start a writing career,” she said.

HONOURED HOMEMAKERS: Four of the winners (from left) legal practitioner Sophia Chew, co-founder and director Tiffany Tan, Teh and Dayang Lily at the prize presentation ceremony in Kuala Lumpur yesterday. The fifth winner is freelance translator Ramona Azlinda Ali.

The 42-year-old from Klang quit her secretarial work 11 years ago to spend more time with her family.

Teh, who writes on parenting and lifestyle issues, said teleworking enabled her to be at home when she was needed, send her children to school, coach them with their homework and cook for the family.

This mother of four was one of the five winners of the Best Teleworking Moms Contest 2004. She was speaking to reporters at a prize presentation yesterday. Also present was Human Resources Minister Datuk Dr Fong Chan Onn.

For 33-year-old Dayang Lily Abang Musa, the first two months of working from home were “not easy” as her children were not used to her being at home.
“Working at home meant that the children become more attached to you and they can get quite demanding,” said this mother of four.

This entrepreneur and founder of Ummiku said she was a systems engineer and had done research on the feasibility of setting up a home-based business. She said her family has been very supportive when she quit from her engineering firm.
“Being isolated and away from other professionals was something new I had to get used to, but to overcome this, I roped in my children to help me in my business.
“I got them to help out in pasting labels and price tags on the childrens books I was selling,” she said.

At a press conference later, Dr Fong said the ministry encouraged companies to introduce flexi-working hours or working-from-home to help reduce the dependency on foreign labour and reduce overhead costs.

He said the ministry was working on changes to the Employment Act to recognise that flexi-working hours would be defined as official working hours to enable proper protection for the workers.

Dr Fong said manufacturing companies, mostly from the garment and plastic industries, in smaller towns were already conducting teleworking arrangements for housewives to work from home.

“Part of the operations are being subcontracted to homemakers for garments to be sewn or cut; even simple machinery is set up at home to assist in the plastic industries,” he said, adding that factories in Kulim, Batu Pahat and Kluang were sourcing out work to people who stayed at home.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Congratulations! You have won

Title: Congratulations! You have won - A guidebook on how to maximize your chances of winning competitions
ISBN: 9789839449167
Publisher: Malita Jaya
Publish Date: 1 August 2001

This book is the definitive guide to catering and winning competitions and contests. With tips ranging from how to select the most lucrative contests to devising a winning strategy.

This book offers practical advice on how to win those free holidays, air tickets, hampers, cash and other goodies promised to contest winners.
The author's common sense approach demonstrates that entering contests can be a hobby that pays in more ways than one, offering varied opportunities for families to bond and friends to socialize.

A must for all diehard "compers", or people who enter competitions.

Note: This book is currently out of print.

Monday, February 27, 2006

I've moved!

Please visit my new home for my blog. See you there!

This site is refurbished to house the press clippings that featured my books. If I don't blow my own horn, who'll do it for me? Sigh, the things authors do for the sake of their books.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Book PR Queen

That's Yvonne Lee, best-selling author of The Sky is Crazy. I really have to hand it to her. If you check out her website, you'll find no less than TWO DOZEN appearances in the media and if I'm not mistaken, they're all in a span of three months. Not only that, her book when into reprint three months after its release. What a fantastic achievement!

Under the quotes page, Yvonne's husband said, "To author a book is one thing. To author a book that's a best seller is quite another." Ouch! I can feel the sting. I fall under that "one thing" category whereas Yvonne's under the "another" category. I've authored two books. The first one bombed, the second one is p-l-o-d-d-i-n-g along, sigh.

I'm going to ask Yvonne to be my sifu and impart some tips on how to go on a PR blitz for my next book. Surely the tables are turned now. How so? I got to know her when I contacted her husband to conduct a survey for my first book, Congratulations! You have won! They're both frequent contest winners. Then we started corresponding with each other. At that time, I'd been published in The Star and she was trying to break in. Though in her book she credited me as her mentor, I think I offered her more encouragement than writing advice.

Yvonne's a real go-getter and anything she sets her heart on doing, she'll get it done. That's why she's so successful. She's pretty and talented, a winning combination, I must say.

Now excuse me while I go hide under my blanket and wallow in self-pity. Nah, that's lame. I should get her web designer to design me a cool website just like hers. Only trouble is when it comes to the media section, it'll be as airy as my grandfather's drawers. The media didn't think I was good fodder. It's not their fault actually. I didn't try hard enough. I only walked half the mile. Perhaps with Yvonne's tutelage, that'll change and I'll become a media darling too, yeah, though not as much as she is.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Crabby Old Woman

I received this in the mail from Kathy. It's a poem about an old woman. I'm not yet a geriatric but I think it encapsulates well the feelings of an old person.

Sometimes we tend to dismiss old people as having little or no worth. We're impatient with them. We don't have time for them. They slow us down. We forget they've once been young. They've eaten more salt than we have rice. They have their own self-worth. They're aren't bags of left-overs to be tossed to the cats.

Be careful how we treat old people. Because that is how our offspring may treat us when we're wrinkled and bent. As the bible says, do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

Treat old people with respect. That's not just an Asian value. It should be a universal value.


SOME GREAT WORDS OF WISDOM FROM LISA MORISON - well worth a read and reflection.

When an old lady died in the geriatric ward of a small hospital near
Dundee, Scotland, it was believed that she had nothing left of any value.
Later, when the nurses were going through her meager possessions, they found this poem. Its quality and content so impressed the staff that
copies were made and distributed to every nurse in the hospital. One nurse took her copy to Ireland. The old lady's sole bequest to posterity has since appeared in the Christmas edition of the News Magazine of the North Ireland Association for Mental Health. A slide presentation has also been made based on her simple, but eloquent, poem. And this little old Scottish lady, with nothing left to give to the world, is now the author of this "anonymous" poem winging across the Internet:

Crabby Old Woman

What do you see, nurses?
What do you see?
What are you thinking
When you're looking at me?

A crabby old woman,
Not very wise,
Uncertain of habit,
With faraway eyes?

Who dribbles her food
And makes no reply
When you say in a loud voice,
"I do wish you'd try!"

Who seems not to notice
The things that you do,
And forever is losing
A stocking or shoe?

Who, resisting or not,
Lets you do as you will,
With bathing and feeding,
The long day to fill?

Is that what you're thinking?
Is that what you see?
Then open your eyes, nurse,
You're not looking at me.

I'll tell you who I am
As I sit here so still,
As I do at your bidding,
As I eat at your will.

I'm a small child of ten
With a father and mother,
Brothers and sisters,
Who love one another.

A young girl of sixteen
With wings on her feet
Dreaming that soon now
A lover she'll meet.

A bride soon at twenty,
My heart gives a leap,
Remembering the vows
That I promised to keep

At twenty-five now,
I have young of my own,
Who need me to guide
And a secure happy home.

A woman of thirty,
My young now grown fast,
Bound to each other
With ties that should last.

At forty, my young sons
Have grown and are gone,
But my man's beside me
To see I don't mourn.

At fifty once more,
Babies play round my knee,
Again we know children,
My loved one and me.

Dark days are upon me,
My husband is dead,
I look at the future,
I shudder with dread.

For my young are all rearing
Young of their own,
And I think of the years
And the love that I've known.

I'm now an old woman
And nature is cruel;
'Tis jest to make old age
Look like a fool.

The body, it crumbles,
Grace and vigour depart,
There is now a stone
Where I once had a heart.

But inside this old carcass
A young girl still dwells,
And now and again,
My battered heart swells.

I remember the joys,
I remember the pain,
And I'm loving and living
Life over again.

I think of the years
All too few, gone too fast,
And accept the stark fact
That nothing can last.

So open your eyes, people,
Open and see,
Not a crabby old woman;
Look closer . . . see ME!!

Friday, February 17, 2006


A blah! week since last Friday when mum was warded for unstable angina. She was discharged the next day. She has a heart condition brought on by hypertension, diabetes and high cholesterol.

Took her to UMMC for a doctor's appointment yesterday and scheduled an angiogram in March. Here's some info on what an angiogram is all about. I've reproduced it here.

A coronary angiogram (or arteriogram) is an x-ray of the arteries located on the surface of the heart (the coronary arteries). It helps the physician to see if any of those arteries are blocked, usually by fatty plaque. If so, the patient An angiogram is an imaging test used to visualize the size, shape and location of blood vessels.may be diagnosed with coronary artery disease (CAD).

A coronary angiogram is often conducted along with other catheter–based tests as part of cardiac catheterization, which also includes measuring blood pressure, taking samples for blood tests, and a left ventriculogram.

During an angiogram, the physician injects a special dye (contrast medium) into the coronary arteries. To do that, the physician inserts a thin tube (catheter) through a blood vessel, usually in the upper thigh, and guides it all the way up to the heart. Once the catheter is in place, the physician can inject the dye through the catheter and into the coronary arteries. Then the x–ray can be taken.

Although the physician typically numbs the area where he or she inserts the catheter, the patient is awake for the entire procedure. The patient receives a mild sedative before the procedure and does not ordinarily feel the movement of the catheter within the blood vessels.Balloon angioplasty and stenting are procedures to increase blood flow through a narrowed artery.

Depending on what the angiogram shows, the physician may recommend treatments such as medication, a catheter-based procedure (e.g., balloon angioplasty, coronary stenting) or surgery (e.g., bypass surgery).

Here's a very detailed explanation on what happens during and after the angiogram.

We'll get a clear picture when the angiogram's done. Are there blockages in the arteries? If so, how many? She's a likely candidate for heart attack but she says her heart is okay. I hope her optimism is rewarded.

P/S : I know this sounds so clinical and cold but I'm not in the mood to write something emotional.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Ode to Sunset

This is a poem I wrote for a Creative Writing Workshop by Prof. Archie Markham. It was organized by the British Council in 2000.

Lydia Teh

Orb in flaming copper hue,
so gingerly, so gently flowed
down hill.

Blue twill navy frill,
a patchwork stitched with skill,
orange, red, yellow,
purled in silky boundary,
a many coloured tapestry.

Seamless it moved
hues changed, texture bent,
silvery grey tinged fringe,
off and on they meandered
new designs they stitched

Inky net fell quietly
the girdled masterpiece within,
patterns, hues all obscured
nuances, shapes all eclipsed.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Desperate Housewife

Coincidence can be downright weird. I just had a good dose of it.

See, I had sat down to write about me being a Desperate Housewife. That I'm not like any of the glamourous DHs on the drama series but if I had to choose one of them whom I resemble the most (not in terms of looks, okay, so don't flame me), I'd say it's Susan.

Then on a whim, I decided to check out their website, just to make sure I get all their names correct. So I logged on to their website and hey, there's a quiz on "Which Housewife are You?" I took the quiz and guess what's the verdict?

"Lydia is the Susan of Desperate Housewives."

"You always mean well but somehow things don't always work out as you'd planned. It doesn't matter. You take your tumbles with good grace and always come out smiling. But try to remember you're the grown-up in your family."

I took the quiz a second time with a slight variation in quiz questions and guess what? I'm still Susan.

This is really weird. I'd thought that I was like Susan because she was a writer and the most likable of all the DHs. I was always rooting for her.

Anyway, back to my original intent of writing this. I'm not like :

Bree because she's too neat and obssessed with housework and perfect cuisines.
Gabrielle because she's a devious slut.
Lynette because she's too confrontational and ambitious (but I can identify with the chaos with four kids).
Susan because she's a single mom and too dependent on her daughter (but she's a writer and she's nice and so am I).
Edie because she's not married, how can she be a housewife? Anyway, she's sluttier than Gabrielle though she has some other redeeming qualities.

If I have to choose which DH I am, I'd be a composite of Lynette and Susan.

Drama series aside, I really am a desperate housewife. The normal, unglamourous, clad in t-shirt-and-shorts type. What am I desperate for? In no particular order, I'm :

Desperate for money.
Desperate for a clean house.
Desperate for a get-away.
Desperate for a manicured garden.
Desperate for the kids to grow up.
Desperate for a movie which doesn't feature Robin Williams.
Desperate for hubby to walk in the door and say, "Honey, I'm home" and give me a peck on the cheek.
Desperate to write that best-seller.

With that last bit of desperation there, I'm out of this blog. For now.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Steaming Eggs

I don't usually cook rice in a rice-cooker. I steam them in a double boiler as I don't like to use one big pot which can cook up to 12 cups rice, to cook a measly 2.5 cups.

Recently my mother-in-law gave me a used rice-cooker. It's an old National model with a squat body and a stainless steel cover. I figured I might as well regress in my use of kitchen appliances as modern ones have let me down. I've scratched two non-stick rice cookers so badly that I dared not use them anymore for safety reasons.

Using an electric rice-cooker has its advantage. I can steam food on top of the rice. Steamed egg was on the menu for dinner today. So I cracked two eggs into a stainless steel plate, added in some hot water (just read somewhere that cold water makes the egg mixture froth) and salt. When the button popped up signifying that the rice was cooked, I quickly put the egg mixture on top of the rice. If I dawdle, the egg will not be done perfectly.

The steamed egg turned out beautifully. It had the smooth consistency of tau-foo-fah. Mmm... mmm... But it wasn't flawless. There were yellow specks of egg yolks. I should've beaten it more thoroughly.

Steaming egg in a rice cooker is the way to go. If steaming it in a wok, one has to keep the fire on low-to-medium. If the temperature becomes too hot, it curdles up the egg and makes it look like sandpaper.

Don't ask me for measurement. For everyday dishes, my cooking uses the agak-agak (approximate) method. If you're a novice, you may like to try out this recipe I found at Recipezaar. You may want to cut out the garnishing if you'd rather keep it simple.

Steamed egg

2 eggs, beaten
150 ml water
1 pinch white pepper powder
1 teaspoon oil
1 teaspoon garlic, peeled and chopped
1 teaspoon spring onions, chopped
2 teaspoons soya sauce
1 tablespoon water
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon tomatoes, chopped (to garnish)
1 teaspoon spring onions, chopped (green portion only, to garnish)

Method :

1. Beat eggs, one at a time, in a bowl.
2. Add water, salt and white pepper powder.
3. Pour into a serving bowl- preferably, stainless steel or ceramic.
4. Steam for 8 minutes.
5. Now heat oil in a pan.
6. Add garlic and spring onion.
7. Stir-fry for a few minutes till the raw smell of garlic is gone.
8. Remove from heat and put on the steamed egg.
9. Put soya sauce in a bowl.
10. Add water and sugar to the soya sauce and mix well.
11. Pour this mixture over the steamed egg.
12. Add a tsp.
13. of chopped tomato and a tsp.
14. of the green portion of the spring onions as a garnish and serve immediately.

If you have some crab sticks in your fridge, slice some into the egg mixture. Not only does it lend colour to the dish but it tastes yummy too.

Mystery of the Vanishing Entry

I posted a new entry last Saturday. It just disappeared into thin air. It wasn't on my blog at all. How did that happen? Just this morning, it was there. Even the link that I had put in the Category entry wasn't there.

Any cyber-sleuths out there who can solve this mystery?

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Love Letters

I've got plenty of love letters. Don't you just envy me? I've got an entire Milo tin of them. They're in my pantry, waiting to be transferred into a cookie jar for guests who come a-calling during Chinese New Year. People who live in this part of the world know that these fan-shaped, crispy, sweet wafers are also called kuih kapit. But Love Letters sound nicer. At least folks who have never got a real love letter in their lives, can boast that they've got plenty of love letters and they get to eat them too.

February 14 is round the corner. It's just another day for hubby and me. We don't celebrate it, not when we were courting, not now. But many couples will be in a flurry, wording the perfect prose or poem to express their love. For those who are words-challenged, it doesn't matter that they can't pen a love letter to save their lives. The florists, confectioners and gift vendors are there to make life easy for them, for a price of course.

Happy Chinese New Year.

Friday, January 27, 2006

The Dogged Cobbler’s Story

The Star, 27 Jan 2006

For once, the talkative Eh Poh Nim is rendered almost speechless by the cobbler’s touching tale.

EH Poh Nim is at the sidewalk cobbler’s to repair her sneakers. While she waits for the man to repair her shoes, she notices a little sign that says, “Dogged Cobbler”, resting against the wall.

“That’s a strange name for a cobbler,” she remarks.

“I’ll tell you my story. Then you won’t think the name strange,” the man says as he glues back the sole which had come loose.

“I once worked in a pet shop as a dogsbody, running around doing menial tasks. My boss was a good friend of mine until an incident threw our friendship to the dogs.

“I was carrying some Dalmatian puppies in my car when I stopped to pick up a custom-made doghouse from the carpenter. When I came back, I found that the puppies had been dognapped.

“My friend fired me although it wasn’t my fault. I had locked the car before I went off and was gone for only 10 minutes.

“Later, I found out why he reacted that way. He had fallen for my girlfriend and was looking for an excuse to get rid of me. And that woman dumped me for that dog-faced baboon!

“I tell you, Miss, for six months, I led a dog’s life. I didn’t work. Just hung around the house watching TV and reading newspapers. My room was a doghole.

“One day my mother gave me a small bundle of papers. She said, ‘I know you’ve been hurt, son, but it’s time to move on. Do you know what these papers are? They’re pawnshop receipts. I’ve pawned all my jewellery and there’s nothing left to pawn. Where do you think money for food and rent comes from? We’re dog poor and you don’t even know it.’

“She said, ‘You’ll have to pull yourself together if we’re going to have a dog’s chance of survival. Would you rather I go out and work? It’s a dog-eat-dog world out there. Don’t cower like a frightened puppy at the slightest threat. Give yourself a chance. Every dog has his day, you’ll see.’

“I stared at my mother. She suddenly looked so old and frail. I felt so ashamed of myself. I went out that day to look for a job and I came across a cobbler mending his shoes right here.”

“You mean at this very spot?” Eh Poh Nim asks.

He nods his head. “As luck would have it, the Indonesian guy was going back to his country for good. He wanted to sell off his business dog-cheap. The next day I returned with a small deposit for him and he taught me the ropes. A week later, using money borrowed from my cousin, I paid him in full.

“On my first day of work, I returned home dog-tired. But for the first time in a long while, I had a good night’s sleep. So here I am today, the Dogged Cobbler. I chose this name to remind myself that I have to be persistent in order to succeed. One day I’m going to have my own shoe-repair shop.”

The Dogged Cobbler puts down Eh Poh Nim’s repaired sneakers in front of her.

“There you go, Miss. They’re as good as new now.”

Eh Poh Nim inspects her shoes and nods her head in approval at the handiwork.

“I hope you achieve your dream soon.” She pays him with some dog-eared dollar bills.

“Thank you. Gong Xi Fa Cai to you, Miss.”

“ I hope the dog year will be prosperous for the Dogged Cobbler. Bye!”

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

The Three Little Pigs' Edible Houses

Once there were three little pigs. They went off to the forest to build their own homes.

The first pig met a man carrying doughnuts. He bought the doughnuts and built a house with them. Along came the wolf.


Who's there, said the pig.

It's the wolf. Open the door!

No, no, not by the hair on my chinny-chin-chin, said the pig.

Then I shall huff and I shall puff and I shall eat your house up, said the wolf.

And he huffed and he puffed and he gobbled up the doughnut house AND the little pig.

The second pig met a man carrying papayas. He bought the papayas and built a house with them. Along came the wolf.


Who's there, said the pig.

It's the wolf. Open the door!

No, no, not by the hair on my chinny-chin-chin, said the pig.

Then I shall huff and I shall puff and I shall eat your house up, said the wolf.

And he huffed and he puffed and he gobbled up the papaya house AND the little pig.

The third pig met a man carrying durians. He bought the durians and built a house with them. Along came the wolf.


Who's there, said the pig.

It's the wolf. Open the door!

No, no, not by the hair on my chinny-chin-chin, said the pig.

Then I shall huff and I shall puff and I shall eat your house up, said the wolf.

And he huffed and he puffed and he tried to eat up all the durians but the thorns on the durians hurt him so much that he shouted, Yikes! Help! and he ran all the way back home.

And the third little pig was safe.


This is a new version of THE THREE LITTLE PIGS. I have two other wacky versions. Will post them up another day.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Link me up, Scottie

When I started blogging, one of my concerns was about linking. What if other people link me and I don't link them for one reason or another? Would they think I'm snooty or "one kind" for not reciprocating? Is it better to approach the blogroll with an attitude of the more the merrier?

What are we telling people by the blogroll on our sites? Are we informing the world who our online friends are? Who we like to be associated with? Do we remove a blog from the list when the blogger offends us? Or we don't want to be seen associating with that blogger?

These are the questions that played on my mind. Now after five months of blogging, I've come to this conclusion.

The blogroll is like an open reading list and address book. They are the blogs we read, so we keep their addresses handy. More than that, we're telling the world, "Hi people, if you care to, please step into these blogs, they're my online cronies." These are the blogs that we do not mind introducing to the world. The fact that some blogs don't make it into the blogroll also speaks volumes.

So who do we link? This may be pretty obvious but it's all up to the blogger, isn't it? Whether one has the policy of "you don't link me, I don't link you" or "everybody also link" or whatever shades in between. It is the blogger's prerogative no matter how others may read into his linking policy.

Some bloggers are quite judicious in their blogrolling in that they only link blogs which are similar to theirs and friends' blogs. Some adopt a freer policy, resulting in a mile-long blogroll. Some are more structured, divided into different categories for ease of reference.

I don't have a long list of blogroll because I find it so tedious to open up the blog template and insert the html code to link other blogs. Thanks to Blogrolling, linkage is now just a click away. I discovered this program while poking around eyeris's blog. It was also from his blog that I learnt how to index my entries into categories. This time round, the technophobe in me made me bug him for help before I could finally get the blogrolling to work. Thanks, eyeris.

My blogroll will be slowly expanding.

Saturday, January 21, 2006


Chinese New Year is one week away, and I haven't done anything to prepare for it!!

No spring-cleaning, no crates of Mandarin oranges, no smell of freshly baked cookies, no spruced-up garden, no new notes, no plans of what to cook for reunion, the curtains and bed linen haven't been washed, yadda-yadda-yadda.

I hate it when CNY falls in January. There's no time to prepare, what with the kids going back to school and all that jazz. This year I'm totally not in the mood for CNY. Maybe it's because of my father's passing away last month. Mum and my brothers' families won't be celebrating because they're still in mourning. Daughters can celebrate because we're married out. Maybe it's because I'm getting old.

But then some people never get too old to celebrate CNY. Take my mum's neighbour. She's a 50+ grandmother and she still buys new clothes for herself every year including must-have brand new underwear. Everything must be spanking new.

We're all creatures of convention, aren't we. Bound by traditions. Once in a while, it's liberating to buck convention and do what one likes to do. Like my sis-in-law. She's going to Egypt next week with a friend. Though she's looking forward to it, she's beginning to feel jittery about what MIL would say when she finds out.

I tell her next time it's my turn to go gallivanting during CNY. It'll be good to get away from the Lunar-cy for once.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Eh Poh Nim is here

I've decided to include here all the Eh Poh Nim series of articles that have appeared in The Star's Mind our English column. Look under Categories of Posts for Learn English with Eh Poh Nim.

Articles reproduced with permission from The Star.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Know your Rights

I got this in the email from Jennifer.

I was talking with a lawyer friend of mine. We were discussing the law and woman's rights. She told me about this incident - a young girl was raped by a man posing as a plain clothes officer; he asked her to come to the police station when she and her male friend didn't have a driver`s license to show. He sent the boy off to get his license and asked the girl to accompany him to the police station. Took her instead to an isolated area where the horrendous crime was committed.

In fact, the law clearly states that between 6 pm and 6am, a woman has the right to REFUSE to go to the Police Station, even if an arrest warrant has been issued against her. It is a procedural issue that a woman can't be arrested between 6pm and 6 am , ONLY if she is arrested by a woman officer and taken to an ALL WOMEN police station. And if she is arrested by a male officer, it has to be proven that a woman officer was on duty at the time of arrest.

Can anyone confirm if this is true? Thanks.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Excuses, excuses, excuses!

Whenever criminals are convicted for their crimes, they always plead for leniency with excuses such as these :
1. He* has aged parents to care for.
2. He has young children to feed.
3. He has an unemployed or sick wife to care for.
4. He is a single parent.
5. He was so young at the time of offence.
6. It is his first offence.

Yeah, right. If they are so concerned with the welfare of their family, why don't they think of these reasons BEFORE they commit their crime rather than AFTER they have been caught and convicted?

I wonder if judges do take these excuses into account when sentencing them. And why are these excuses being offered time and time again? Is it because more creative ones will be thrown out by the judge? Does anyone know of more creative excuses or mitigating reasons or whatever it is these EXCUSES are called?

In the case of the businessman who was charged in court for attempted rape on his 7 year old daughter, the mitigating factors given were : he was a divorcee, he was running his own business and this was his first offence. Can you beat that? What has got running a business got to do with it? Was it to persuade the judge to give him a lighter sentence so that he can quickly get out and resume his business?

P/S : Yes, yes, criminals aren't confined to those of the male gender. 'He' is being used throughout to avoid the awkward 'he/she' term, so don't sue me.

Friday, January 13, 2006

New Evening Classes for Men!!!

I received this in the email from Grace.

Note: due to the complexity and level of difficulty, each course will accept a maximum of eight participants

The course covers two days, and topics covered in this course include:


Step by step guide with slide presentation

Roundtable discussion

Practicing with hamper (Pictures and graphics)

Debate among a panel of experts.

Losing the remote control to your significant other - Help line and support groups

Starting with looking in the right place instead of turning the house upside down while screaming
-Open forum


Group discussion and role play


Real life testimonial from the one man who did

Driving simulation

Online class and role playing

Relaxation exercises, meditation and breathing techniques

Bring your calendar or PDA to class

Individual counselors available

My husband doesn't need to go for the entire course. Just 5 or 6 modules, maybe.

I expect someone will come up with New Evening Classes for Women soon. Maybe there's already one on offer but it hasn't reached my inbox yet.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Commonly Confused Words

The Star, 12 January 2006

Eh Poh Nim is visiting her friend, Clara, who has had an operation to remove her tonsils.

“How are you, Clara?” Eh Poh Nim asks.

Clara writes on a notebook and hands it to Eh Poh Nim to read.

“It’s been a week since the operation. The pain has eased up but I don’t want to talk too much. Such averse luck! Last month a snatch thief stole my bag, now this.”

Eh Poh Nim says, “I feel very odd having this one-sided conversation with you. So I’m going to write down my reply. Here, give me the pen, please.”

She writes, “The word you want is adverse for unfavourable. Averse means unwilling as in I’m averse to chatting up men with mosquito brains. Anyway, look on the bright side. You can eat all the ice cream you like without feeling guilty.”

Clara scribbles, “You’re so wicked! That’s a complement.”

“If you want to praise me, you should give me a compliment. Complement is that which makes something complete, e.g. Mindy’s dish-washing skill complements her husband’s cooking talent.”

“Sorry. I think my brain is effected by the operation.”

“Your brain is affected by the operation. Effect is a result of an action. For example, the price increase of vegetables has an unhealthy effect of turning people into meatarians.”

Just then, Clara’s mother walks out from the kitchen. “Hi, Eh Poh Nim. So nice of you to visit Clara. I’ve boiled some red bean soup. Would you like some?”

“No thanks, Auntie. I’ve had lunch.”

“Ok. If you change your mind, just let Clara know.” She goes upstairs.

Clara writes on the notepad, “So what if you’ve had lunch? Take the soup as desert.”

“How can I drink sand? The Sahara is a desert. Red bean soup is a dessert.”

“Ha ha. I stand corrected. How was your company trip to Port Dickson last week?”

“Remember Paul?”

Clara nods her head eagerly.

“A sexy woman was sunbathing at the pool deck, so Paul dived into the deep-end to show off. But he floundered and almost drowned. A life-guard had to jump in and save him,” Eh Poh Nim writes.

“Lucky for him. Is flounder the right word? Shouldn’t it be flounder?”

“It’s correct. Flounder is to move clumsily. Founder is to stumble or fail completely.”

“Ok. Did you chafe him later for his bravado?”

“Clara! I did not!” Eh Poh Nim says indignantly.

“Oops. Sorry. To chafe is to warm by rubbing. Correction: Did you chaff him? Tease him in a good-humoured way?”

“That I did. I’m loath to admit this but I actually felt sorry for Paul when I saw the life-guard doing CPR on him.”

“Don’t you mean loathe?” Clara writes.

Loathe is to feel great hatred for someone. Loath is unwilling. I know my English, Clara.”

Clara mimes wiping sweat off her forehead. “English can be so confusing sometimes. For example, I can never differentiate between stationary and stationery.”

Stationary is not moving, stationery includes writing objects, paper clips, staplers, etc. Just remember NA for no action and ER for eraser.”

“Great idea. How about that word which means not showy. Is it discreet or discrete?”

“Not showy is discreet. Discrete is to be individually distinct as in ‘The company consists of four discrete units.’”

“How to remember it?”

“Remember this rhyme – double E, not showy. Oh dear, all this writing is making me hungry now. How about some red bean soup for desert?”

“DESSERT!” Clara writes in big letters.

Eh Poh Nim winks at her friend and pulls her up from the sofa.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Making Up

No. 4 will turn five this June. She's already experimenting with "make-up." She has this goldsmith's jewellery box, the plastic type with a thin piece of foam inside. She poured talcum powder into the box and turned it into a compact powder case. I caught her dabbing her face with the powder one day.

Where did she learn all this? I suppose she just picked things up by watching. Same with no. 2. When she was about 13, she started buying skincare products and cosmetics for herself. I never taught her what to do or what to buy.

One day about two years ago, we were at the dining table when I noticed that she looked different. I stared hard at her. Her face was powdered and there was a touch of gloss on her lips. My eyes widened and I fired off a string of questions at her.

Who taught you how to make-up?
Did you learn from your friends?
From magazines?
What did you do with your lashes?
What brand of skincare and lipstick did you buy?
You'd better don't simply buy any products. They may spoil your skin.

Children these days seem in a hurry to grow up. The first time I used make-up was during my 16th birthday. And then I didn't touch it until I started my first real job at 20.

Today, no. 4 came and sat on my lap with her jewellery case. I had washed away the talcum powder when I found the box drowning in the powder the other day.

"Mummy, I make you up," she said.

She took out the foam which still had the smell of talcum powder and dabbed at my face. Then she applied "lipstick" with the round red eraser in the box.

Is it any wonder that she's learning so fast? She has two role models now : her mummy and her sister. Aah, but she doesn't need any make-up for a long, long time yet. Her smooth fair complexion and her rosy little lips are already sooo pretty.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Hello, is anybody there?

Why have I been so quiet on the blog? There's a reason. Last Wednesday, lightning struck my house. There was a BANG! and a flash. Darkness. When the power came back, we discovered that the computer was fried and the telephone line was disconnected.

Up to now, five days later, both are still not restored. The computer is still in the workshop. My line is still down. I'd been chasing Telekom to no avail. Seems like after the change to TM, service has gotten worse. I reported the fault on Thursday. The next day, a technician came to check and said he'll restore the line at the exchange. Up to now, still silence.

I'd been trying hard to reach someone at TM but in these days of automation, it's so hard to get a life person at the end of the line.

I've called 100 to report the fault several times in the hope that this will help to expedite the repair.

I've called TM Call Centre to check on status. Each time it's an answering machine that puts you on hold saying "Our call centre consultant will be with you shortly" or something to that effect. Then it said, "or leave a message after the beep." What's the point when nobody bothers to return the call? After more than ten tries, I've yet to speak to the call centre consultant.

100 gave me a telephone number at Jln Langat office to follow-up. Nobody picks up the phone. I rang 103 for a number to call at the Klang office. No reply either. Hello, is there anyone working in TM?

What does TM stands for? Takde Masa for customers?