Oil Palm Estate in Kg Tali Air

Malaysian Palm Oil Council web site says:

Malaysia currently accounts for 51 % of world palm oil production and 62% of world exports, and therefore also for 8% and 22% of the world's total production and exports of oils and fats. As the biggest producer and exporter of palm oil and palm oil products, Malaysia has an important role to play in fulfilling the growing global need for oils and fats in general.

After 6 years in Malaysia, finally I had a chance to visit the oil palm estate, at Kampung Tali Air, which is on the way to Pantai Morib. The main roads were narrow, but beautiful.

But the inner roads were rugged...

This road leads into the plantations. Throughout this trip I kept my fingers crossed and prayed that my car tyre should win this tough test. Yes, my prayers were answered!

As we visited during the Chinese New Year, the plantation was deserted. But still, we managed to talk to few laborers near the housing area.


Estate quarters looks like link houses, but small. The community is close knit. We heard that since British reign, toddy shops were available in each estate...

Um, wish it was open so that I could have caught some action. Just few feet away from this place, the oil palm plantation starts...

 The fruits are reddish and look very appealing...

The locals offered us boiled and sweetened palm fruits that is supposed to be a delicacy...but my metro trained taste buds refused to accept the sticky taste and I had to take enormous efforts not to spit immediately. However, politely refused to take more^^. In fact I don't even use palm oil for cooking, as it causes severe gastric.

In my next posts I will continue on Orang Asli settlement, Kampung life, and the pantai (beach).


Solar Eclipse - Watched Live from Kuala Lumpur Planetarium

Solar Eclipse has always been a fascinating occurrence since childhood because of the mythological stories heard from grandpop and also the curiosity to watch the crescent shaped sun shadows in our backyard.

In my community, there is a wide spread belief that pregnant women should lie down in a dark room during eclipse. Further, they would be advised to cover themselves with white cloth and make sure not to toss and turn, in fact I had experienced this. They say that the solar radiation is harmful to the womb and it could leave birthmarks on the baby^^

This time, on 26 Jan 2009 morning, we checked if there are any arrangements in Kuala Lumpur Planetarium, and luckily, there were quiz programs and other workshops for kids, and of course, they had made extensive arrangements for the public to watch the eclipse. The partial eclipse is supposed to be like this:

We arrived there around 4PM and collected the solar eclipse glasses that were provided free of cost!

Naturally, I was attracted to the signboard Webcasting and Astrophotography and as usual started to chat with professionals and learned how they were doing the live webcast of solar eclipse. 

Professionals getting ready for the live webcast...

The videographer setting the angle...

When the eclipse started, generally the crowd was so excited including us. First, we watched with solar eclipse glasses, and then we took turns to view at the solarscopes and other astronomical devices. The live webcast display was good...the orange crescent was so beautiful.

At first, I tried hold the dark films provided by Angkaska in front of my camera lens to take pictures of the eclipse, but couldn't succeed. Then a gentleman helped me to set to ISO 800 manual mode in my puny Canon A540, and after that I managed to take a shot.

But, dissatisfied with this picture, I started taking pictures of eclipse that reflected in various devices!

Eclipse as seen in pinhole projector:

Reflection seen from a hand-held device that looks like a mirror...

Multiple crescent shadows, trapped through circular holes in a white sheet...

In short it was an awesome experience and had a memorable Chinese New Year and Indian Republic day!


Logic of Heaven and Hell

First, I thought of writing about the 10 courts of Hell based on what we saw at Haw Par Villa or the Tiger Balm Gardens in Singapore.

When I was sorting the photos, my kid wanted to hear the story behind the photos. I started to explain that in the 1st court of hell, the judge would decide who could go to heaven or hell, based on their deeds. She stopped me mid-way and shot a series of logical questions that I had missed to think before! These questions changed the course of this post.

Instead of writing the mundane details of crimes and respective punishments that are supposed to be given in these hells, letz see the logic or the missing logic that I was asked...

  • How can the judge at the 1st court of hell decide on who goes to hell or heaven? Shouldn't he be outside the hell?
I tried to tell that it is belief and mythology, and this answer didn't go well. Yet to find her a better answer, any suggestions?

  • Why do they threaten like this by showing only the punishments?
I said that when people see the tortures they might want to avoid it and hence start doing good deeds to avoid punishments. Abruptly, another Q came up: is that why you cut my online/TV time when you think am naughty? What should I answer?!

  • Why is there no scene that shows how people are happy in heaven?
What can I say, except that the motivating factor to do good deeds is missing. Then I tried to explain that heaven or hell on earth is a state of mind. My answer backfired^^and she commented, if that is the case, why design such a cruel hell?

Anything that begins must have an end. Look at these shots

Well, this might ring a bell to many. Yes, after doing all nonsense how often do we hear: I did this so that you will learn and you should not keep it in mind:) When you forget everything, how can you learn and stop repeating the same sins or rather mistakes?


Merlion Charmed by Nature

Whenever we go to Singapore, we used to postpone our visit to Marina Bay because we thought yeah, we have seen the Merlion from afar and also at Sentaso, so why should we bother going there again. What a wrong notion! I realized the charm only after spending a couple of hours in the evening...see you might like it too:)

First short taken around 5.30PM...looks quiet ordinary.

Now see the rest of the shots that I took as the sky was getting darker...



Charming, right?


Did You Know Why Clouds are Puffy?

What do you think when you look at these puffy proud clouds?

I was just pleased at the amazing animations and instantly captured them through my lense, but napkindad (Marty Coleman) says:

Puffy little clouds prove that there is a GOD and He likes us because nothing bad can happen under a puffy cloud
Take a look at his napkin drawings...his collections are compelling:)


Ikan Bakar From a Vegetarian Perspective

BBQ Fish is Ikan bakar in Malay, which is popular in Malaysia. Though am a staunch vegetarian, my husband and kid love to eat seafood. Instead of irritating them with my strong veggie lectures, I decided to take photo of how the dead fish gets tortured, so that when they see it, they might feel sorry...
The dead one is trapped to be psitioned on the hell fire bed...
See how many blisters and chars, don't you feel sorry for the tortured soul?
I cringe at the thought on how painful this chili dressing can be on a blistered body...these photos remindeds of 10 courts of hell (depicted in Tiger Balm Gardens, Singapore)

Alas, none of my rantings moved them! Instead of feeling sad, my kid drools over the photos and asks her dad, when are we going to this joint again?:(


How do You see Networking and Social Media?

Caught in the networking mania, many of us spend time in professional and social networking sites. Though I believe in networking, often I wonder to what extent I am actively participating and contributing to any groups.

To an extent, I participate in Linkedin and FaceBook. Here, like a kid left loose on a chocolate and toys jungle, I feel so good when I connect with a new contact or become a member of a group whose interests seem to match my passion. But, after being there for a while my initial interest wanes slowly and start seeking where and what is this all about. Here am like a lost child. Twitter is another story, am still skeptical about it and want to learn more before jumping in it.

Call it natural instinct, I started digging, skimming and scanning my network and the valuable links provided in it to find the answers for my dilemma on social media. At first, I came across blogs and articles that were reflecting similar thoughts, but lacked in proper explanation. Finally, I landed up in David Armano's blog, where he presents ideas in clear graphical representations. I can't stop myself from sharing his graphic The Social Media Conversion Scale:

The way he has explained each stages throws light in the dark areas. Let me analyze each of these stages from my own perspective:

Unbeliever: Um, this is not my cuppa.

Skeptic/Seeker: Reaction to Twitter shows that am here and at the same time this is a good sign that am trying to change:) To me the media gurus' views and predictions play the role of parent/friend who introduces a new concept. Once am there, I may not expect them to influence me, because that would become spoon-feeding. I would rather experience it and learn my own way.

New Convert: Now am almost there, I dare to say it based on my recent experiences as a freelancer in software documentation. However, am yet learn and adapt social media in the engineering field, this could be because of lack of exposure. Well, time to find out.

Zealot: Over enthusiastic contents irk me, and I get bored with it easily, so I don't think I've been in this stage.

Self-Righteous Jerk: Whenever I come across content that uses buzzwords and endless superlative descriptions, I think that they are just writing to cover-up something! I don't bother to explore. Even after learning about this stage, I might still stick to my views. Nothing wrong in being a jerk at times, right?

Humble servant/Evolving True Believer: Way to go.


Chasing Clouds

After a long time I captured my favorite clouds in the early morning. The weather seemed to be bleak with dark clouds, but at one side the dark clouds were being chased by sunlit clouds:)

By the way, Reno is this blog setting ok? Commets are welcome:)


Imagination Working Overtime

After writing user manual for a software for the past 2 days, I feel like taking a break and write something totally unrelated to software industry. So, what do I want to write about? For a change, let me rattle about what I would have been, if I were living in my hometown as a traditional homemaker for the past xxteen years^^.

Ok, here we go with the profile first. Over-sized, mostly dressed in salwar khameez or nighty (of course with a shawl), face that has forgotten to smile for ages, say yes to whatever elders say, but with lot of regrets.

Going out for dinner with husband only once a month, without the knowledge of the in-laws. Holidays, only to Courtallam/Kodaikanal/Chennai, that too after lengthy discussions trying to convience elders that vacation is not a waste of money! 

Work? get up as early as 5.30 am and make yummy filter coffee, prepare breakfast, then slog whole day, mainly by overlooking maids and going out to buy wanted and unwanted junk...

Children? Send them to school with packed lunch and when they come back in the evening and chase them to go to extra study classses/tuitions and on week ends force them to take performing art classes...

Hobby? Read magazines, go to library (a way to escape the daily chores) and the topper is attending get-togethers and family functions. Here everyone is dressed to show off their latest collection of silk and gold and do what? talk about what had happened in the latest mega killer, I mean serial, as if that is the earth-shaking event...

Wha, already am breathless, let me think and checkout with my cousins and friends if I have left any typical stuff...


Expand or Oversized?

There was a lot of built-up about Petrosains at KLCC in Kuala Lumpur, but it did not live up to my imagination. May be, because of very high expectation on my part. However, my kid and hub enjoyed it.

Some of the demos, like the one that proves the center of gravity were interesting but their shows were very childish. Perhaps, they mean to attract the children and naturally, my kid wanted to participate in the show and get ready like a dinosaur by using just newspapers. Like madcap, I helped her to have claws, jaws and clubbed-digits like this

And she won the second prize! The hamper had a funny whistle cum multi-colored light, 3 expanding dinos (2 of which were same species). The cover boasts this:

Well, the dino is made of some rubbrish-plastic material and as per claims, it is supposed to reach full expansion after 72 hours. We followed the instructions and immersed it water. Curiously we were watching it day by day and at the end of 3 days, it failed to meet our expectation! See for yourself

Is this 600% expansion?

On a different note, this picture made me to visualize and compare Vaish 16 years ago Vs Current Vaish...dare not to publish those pics:(

Mr Underappreciated & Mr Fixitall

Often documentation is the Mr Underappreciated in the business kingdom, who plays the role of Mr Fixitall! Yeah, I borrow these nick names shamelessly from Bedtime Stories:) It feels so good, when we see happy endings, right?

When I tried to get feedback from technical writers in various forums and discussion groups, I gathered that even most of us do NOT use documentation to learn something new! This could be because of the nature of our job where we tryout stuff first before documenting. Old habits die hard.

On the other hand, when I asked typical users about their opinion on documentation, the response was mixed. Some, tech savvy users said they preferred to experiment themselves and learn, instead of reading help. Another user commented that, when he searches help, it confuses him more by giving endless alternative suggestions. Yet another comment was that when I pay for something, I expect it to work for me and not make me study something! An extreme feedback was that this user had difficulties in accessing documentation itself. Now, this is a serious usability issue.

Coming back to the point, on how documentation is treated at the production level, am sure that it's high time that we come up with out of the box solutions to bring happy ending or rather happy beginning for documentation. It is just not enough to write context sensitive help, deploy in all possible formats. In today's era of viral marketing we could easily promote the use of documentation.

Just wondering how fast things can happen with viral marketing effect on networking sites. Take for instance, the US disintegration predictions of Dr. Igorum Panarin's Forecasts has gained momentum, just after The Wall Street Journal published an article on this topic. 

Trying to apply viral marketing concept to bring success for well deserved but least appreciated documentation, I would say that convince the team to "sell" documentation like the product itself. This would give a head start and bring documentation into limelight. This in turn, would bring users attention to the right source and ultimately achieve the goal.


365 Gifts

Since midnight I was receiving SMS from friends, phone calls from family members and later received emails as well. All of these were to wish me for this new year. Some of the SMS/email contents are nice to read and brings in good vibes. Though they might not have been originally written by the senders, I appreciate their efforts for choosing and sending it to me:)

Instead of listing the entire contents, here is a list of excerpts that I liked most:

with 365 gifts GOD has provisioned for you, may each gift unfold countless blessings to you & your family... how true and how often do we appreciate it? In fact we hate certain days, like Mondays^^!

with all the children's smiles... wish we can be as innocent as their smiles:)

Forget the Bad... is it really possible?

Cherish the Good... now, this is easy...

A path that leads to beautiful tomorrows... yeah, I know the way now:)

Special memories of all the yesterdays... relishing it

Serenity with each sunrise... love the magical hour of the day

Like this Sacarlet Ibis, which is unique and bright, I like the SMS that I receive from dear Reno annually. Wish to receive it every year no matter where I live:)

yes, u wil always get my greeting earlier. I wish u Happy new year, cny, birthday, labour,wesak, merdeka day,hari raya puasa, deevali, xmas n happy holiday!:-D - Cheerful, yet cost cutting and no need to worry about forgetting to wish for any reason hehehe
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