Who can it be now…

Who will be in the grand finale next week? Who will be going home? We’ll find out the answer soon enough in just a few hours from the time this post is published.

I thought Danny had slimmed down a bit and his 4 o’ clock shadow somewhat helped a bit to enhance his appearance. I did not really pay attention to his first song but I thought he sounded pretty okay. The judges were fine with his singing but did not like the dancing. As for his second song…

Top 3 DG

…contrary to the judges’ favourable comments, I thought he did a great injustice to one of my favourite songs of all time – “You are so beautiful”. His rendition lacked the soul and deep emotions one gets to hear in gravel-voiced Joe Cocker’s incomparable performance of the song and frankly, I felt he didn’t even do as well as Kenny Rogers or that boy band Westlife in their watered-down version of that beautiful classic.

I didn’t hear Kris doing “Apologise” which David Archuleta did really well in his duet with One Republic in last year’s most disappointing grand finale. His second song was good…

Top 3 KA

…and as I’m not familiar with it, I can only based my opinion on the way it was as Kris sang it. If we take the second songs of the two guys alone into consideration, I think Kris should be the one going into grand finale against the formidable Adam…

Top 3 AL

I wish he had not turned U2’s “One” into a rock song though – give me Mary J Blige & U2’s rendition anytime! But then, of course, that was his trademark – all that screeching and hitting the extremely high notes in perfect pitching.  His second song must be peanuts for him, rock being his genre, and there was no doubt whatsoever that it was way better than Danny’s horrifying scream in another Aerosmith’s song last week.

It was obvious that Simon was worried about how the viewers would vote and that Adam might not make it through. Well, over the years, such unthinkable upsets had happened, so let’s just wait and see. All things considered, it should be Kris and Adam in the grand finale. Watch out for the update…..

Desert Rose…

It has bloomed again – our Desert Rose or as  some may call it, the Queen of the Night, Moonlight Flower or even The Star of Bethlehem – 1 on Saturday night, the 8th of May and 3 last night, the 9th of May, so all of you punters out there can go and buy 1839 pao. LOL!!! Its real name, I think, is Night Cereus, and it is a plant found in the desert in the USA. I had a post on it when it first bloomed this year on the 2nd of January.

This is the yet-to-blossom bud… 

Desert Rose 1

It is said that it only blooms once a year, but in our case, this is the second time already. There were four buds altogether, so I kept vigil waiting for them to open…

Desert Rose 2

Finally, at around 10 something – at night, that is – two started to bloom, one a bit sooner than the other. They only blossom at night and by morning, they would have closed and gone limp, all withered away.

Desert Rose 3

By 11 something, only one was in full bloom, blossoming in all its glory…

Desert Rose 4

Some people claim that it brings good luck/fortune, but I guess I’ve been blessed in so many ways already. My only prayer is that things will stay this way, or perhaps get even better.

Desert Rose 5

However, often has it been said that Man proposes, God disposes, there is no question about that. A line in the Lord’s Prayer goes, “Thy Will be done on earth as it is in Heaven,” and to that, I humbly say, “Amen.”

P.S.:
In view of the speculations as to what the plant is or what the plant looks like, here is a photo of it:

Desert Rose 6

It’s my party…

Well, actually it wasn’t my party…but a farewell gathering for Cooking4STP who would be migrating to Perth in Australia in search of greener pastures. That was the main reason why I flew over to Kuching over the weekend – to attend the function at the relatively-new Four Points by Sheraton where we had the buffet cum barbecue dinner at The Eatery, one of their food outlets…

At 4Points 1

Upon arrival at the place, I was greeted by one very excited ex-student, Jordan, who certainly did not expect to see me there. He’s presently doing the TESL overseas twinning programme like my daughter but he is fortunate enough to get to do it in Kuching…and not Sungai Petani! Some guys have all the luck…

At 4Points 2

We had booked one big round table for all of us…

At 4Points 3
Photo through the kind courtesy of whatthefiq

At 4Points 4

There were lots and lots of things to eat, no doubt about that. I had one helping…

At 4Points 5

…after another and then went for the dessert…

At 4 Points 6

At 4 Points 7

At 4 Points 8

At 4 Points 9

We certainly had our fill of the food and laughter…

4Points Sheraton 10
Photo through the kind courtesy of whatthefiq

There were 17 of us altogether – two had left and whatthefiq was taking the photograph. In the snapshot, you can see the regulars on my blog – KpgNangkaBoy, TheOtherCousin, Gundot, Gerrie, Sophia, Pollie, Cooking4STP…and the silent readers – Lindy and Anissa.

We were there from 7.30 till past 11.00 p.m. when some of us adjourned to The Sarawak Club for a karaoke session. I most certainly had a great time that evening…

Together we are beautiful…

I can’t recall when exactly Cibol sent me an sms to tell me that they had set up a blog for me and I would have to log in and post stuff in it, but it was on this day 7th March in 2008 that my very first postLike a virgin – made its debut appearance in the blogosphere.

This simply means that it’s my blog’s 1st anniversary today…

STP's blog 1st anniversary

It has been a good year with a total of 393 posts to date which means that I have had at least 1 post a day and sometimes 2, over the 365 days that have gone by.

Akismet managed to catch 1,491 spam which is not too bad considering that there are people who tell me that they get spam by the hundreds each day.

Over this one year, I have made so many blogger-friends, many of whom I’ve had the pleasure of meeting in person and there are some  that I got to know/meet even before I started this blog…and I look forward to getting to meet more of you in the year ahead. I certainly hope that the feeling is mutual!

And last but not least, your comments! According to my blog stats, I have had a whooping 8,178 comments out of an amazing total of 123,774 views which, I must say, is most encouraging. At least, I know that there are people reading my posts each day and are interested enough to post a comment or two. Rest assured that this is motivation enough for me to keep going on and on…

Thank you all so much for your unfailing support this past year. The only reason why I’m still here is…because you loved me. Make sure you’ll all stand by me in the year ahead…for together we are beautiful!!! LOL!!!

It never rains in Southern California…

It never rains here either! It pours…man, it pours!!! Sigh! Just when I thought that happy days are here again…with blue skies and everything nice, it has started to rain once more and on Wednesday night, it was like somebody up there pouring huge buckets of water down.

At around 9 something, I went out to have the look and everything seemed all right. The rain water was rushing down the drain around the house into the big one outside. There certainly was no indication that it was about to fill up soon. Some people had come round a few days ago to dig out whatever they could find in the drain by the road and carted it all away to some place else. But, back to the rain that night, after making sure that everything was fine, I went and had a night cap. After I was through, I popped out again to have a look. Horror of horrors! This was what I saw!!!

Flood at STP's house

My whole car porch was submerged and the whole road flooded! That was within a matter of less than half an hour. I quickly moved the piano  and bits of furniture that I could manage to carry up the split level of the house and prayed… The water came up to the main door of the house and looked like it was going to come in, but thank God for small mercies! At around 11, the rain abated a little bit and the water subsided. Whew!!! That certainly was close!

It was the 1st on the Chinese lunar calendar, the beginning of the king tide. I am not going to blame anybody as it is all too clear to see what in fact is going on. We never had had that kind of heavy rain before.  For one thing, to say that it was extremely heavy would be an understatement. Everybody knows only too well that the environment is in pretty bad shape and global warming has given rise to such extreme weather conditions all over and unless everyone does something and makes an effort to change in their ways, however small it may be, we can expect the situation to get much worse.

Well, that was it…and I’m keeping my fingers crossed in the hope that the sky will hold…and we will be spared of any such torrential downfall  in the days ahead.

Moving on from the topic of rain and floods, it is Friday today and being the season of Lent, some may be fasting and abstaining from meat. I know some people who will even include Wednesdays as well. I will not go on a total fast but perhaps I will just reduce my food intake. I think I can just munch on some light snacks for breakfast and lunch and have ikan bakar (barbecued fish) for dinner…

Bandong's ikan bakar

…with some sambal buah kenundong which will go superbly with rice…

Bandong's sambal buah kenundong

…and that’s it! Pretty light dinner for two, don’t you think?

STP's dinner for two

The weekend’s here, so what have you all got up your sleeves? Hope you’ll all have a great one…

Dust in the wind (2)…

It’s Ash Wednesday today – the first day of Lent and it’s a day of fasting and abstinence.

Ash Wednesday

On this day, ashes are blessed, mixed with either holy oil or water and imposed on the head with the sign of the cross. The ashes are made from burning palm branches blessed the previous year on Palm Sunday. The priest will say, “Remember, from dust thou art made and unto dust thou shalt return.” (Genesis 3:19)

The ashes serve to remind us of our mortality and humanity and are at the same time, the biblical symbol of repentance, sorrow and humility.

Blessed palms

With all due respect for this solemn and significant day in the Christian calendar, therefore, there will not be any of the usual posts you can get to read in the blog today.

God bless, one and all…

Come together…

I had an invitation from Yan to a special dinner at her house the other night in conjunction with Chinese New Year…

yanonsecondthought.blogspot.com

…together with fellow-bloggers, Victor (Thanks for the lift, Victor!)…

victorkiu.com

…and Rubberseeds

rubberseeds.blogspot.com

…as well as her staff from the office. There was an elaborate spread at the buffet table, all cooked by herself. That lady is really amazing!!!

There were a few seafood dishes, including this steamed freshwater fish – semah – that somebody in the Kapit office had given her…

Yan's CNY dinner 1 2009

These Kapit fish like this one or empurau are worth their weight in gold – easily some RM200 or RM300 a kilo!!! It was absolutely out of this world…and you can bet that I had seconds and thirds! Then, there was this dish of butter prawns that could rival any restaurant or food outlet in town…

Yan's CNY dinner 2009 2

I think I had at least half a dozen and thank goodness, I did not have any gout attack the following day. I stayed away from these steamed crabs though…

Yan's CNY dinner 2009 3

I couldn’t be bothered to go through the hassle of removing the shell, considering especially that it was a buffet dinner. The duck was nice…

Yan's CNY dinner 2009 4

…and so was the chicken, though I felt there was a bit too much ang chiew (red wine)…

Yan's CNY dinner 2009 5

I would prefer my steamed/boiled chicken plain like those at the Hainanese chicken rice stalls. Being the very health-conscious lady that Yan is, it came as no surprise that the poultry dishes came out skinless! (But I love the skin!!! Hahahahaha!!!) There was chicken curry too…

Yan's CNY dinner 2009 6

…which tasted nice but this is what I would refer to as Foochow or Chinese curry – a bit too watery and not very spicy. One of these days, Yan, I’ll host a dinner and invite you to come and taste mine. LOL!!! Perhaps that will have to wait till my daughter comes home for the holidays next month (…the poor girl missing out on all the yummy food mah!). I did not take a photo of the beef stew which was deliciously tender but it was served in a claypot casserole and everything was drowned in the gravy too. I would prefer it thicker and probably, a little bit less of it as well. Then, we had pizza…

Yan's CNY dinner 2009 7

…and Yan’s pride and joy – her chicken pie!

Yan's CNY dinner 2009 8

It was indeed very nice with its rich buttery taste…and I loved the pastry – very well done, simply perfect! Most of the time, my pastry will turn out too hard…

Yan's CNY dinner 2009 9

There was salad with its creamy dressing and as Yan was serving baguette with the yummy freshly-made peanut butter she had brought home from Australia, I told her that she could have mixed a bit of it with the salad cream to get something like what we usually have in the family for our salads. Hmmm…that’s another thing I can include in the menu when I ask her over for dinner – salad with the Dimong clan special dressing!

Yan's CNY dinner 2009 10

She made some garlic bread too but I did not try that, and there was a plate of fried midin (jungle fern). Believe it or not, the current market price of the veg is RM9 a kilo!!! I wish everybody would boycott and refuse to buy to force the sellers to keep the prices low, otherwise they would end up with a whole lot of withered unsold vegetables in their hands!

And we had champagne…courtesy of Malaysia Airlines!!!

Yan's CNY dinner 2009 11

The cabin crew got to know that she would be hosting a dinner function as she was planning the menu on board on her flight back from Down Under and as she was about to disembark, they gave her the bottle of champagne specially for the occasion. Well, they’re not the world’s No. 1 cabin crew for nothing…and one of them is a blogger-friend of mine! Thumbs up for MH – Malaysian Hospitality!!! (But then again, she was flying Business Class, so that’s a different story altogether! LOL!!!)

Well, it was indeed an honour to make it into your guest list, Yan! I’ll be taking next month (March) off…so I’ll host one around that time then. Your name’s first on the guest list, that’s for sure! Thanks so much for the delightful dinner…

Remember the time…

A long, long time ago…I can still remember…those days when I was staying at the end of Race Course Road  (since renamed) here in a house built on stilts and every time there was a flood, at least once a year and usually in December, it was like a carnival – swimming and playing in the water, walking some 2 miles to town to roam around in the flood waters and taking photographs…

Sibu flood long long ago

I cannot remember when this photograph was taken – probably in the late 60’s or early 70’s. It was an annual affair and it did not bother us one bit. I wonder if that’s the case with those people in the east coast states of Peninsular Malaysia.

On the other hand, my missus was staying in the extremely flood-prone Tong San Road until she got married. Her family was renting the ground floor of a terrace house at the time and she would relate stories of how her father would block the doors with planks and seal the edges with damar gum and the whole day, they would have to scoop buckets of water from inside the house and pouring it outside…and most of the time, they would to stay on their beds – with water all around and centipedes and snakes swimming by. Imagine having to go through this kind of situation at least once a year and still they refused to move as “it was very convenient – being so near the town centre”.

Well, the present flood situation has improved, it seems, even though it rained heavily the whole night through and has been raining on and off the whole day. I guess despite all the sound and fury at this point in time, eventually people will stop talking about it and get on with their everyday business until the next flood comes around…and looking at the way things are these days, that will probably be around the next king tide – Chap Goh Meh! I’ve moved the things up the split level in my house, so I think I’ll just leave them there till drier days come around.

To deviate from the topic of floods a bit, I wonder if any of you have been receiving all kinds of irritating messages on your handphones. I got this one last night:
Eh Ayu, sy dpti lucu dirakam hotel yg terPANAS! Ada juga pelbagai clip download. u taip ON JOC hantar SMS ke 36660, daftar free! lepas download jgn send orang lain!
I read about this in somebody’s blog not too long ago, so I guess I am not the only one being made the target of spam by certain quarters. I do wish there is a way to block such messages. Does anybody know of any?

Well, in the meantime, here’s wishing you all  a pleasant Sunday! Everybody’s going back to work tomorrow, so make the most of it, rain or shine!

Oh no…

Not again! On the 1st Day of Chinese New Year, some visitors were leaving my place and I went out with them to see them off. There were at least 6 inches left in the drain outside the house and I told them, “Gosh! Many parts of Sibu already tenggelam (drowned)!” True enough, this was what I saw on alexallied.com the next morning…

CNY Flood 2009 - Sibu 1CNY Flood 2009 - Sibu 2

If you are interested, you can click the link and hop over to his blog to see all the photos that he has in his post.

Anyway, yesterday, somebody called to say that he could not get out of the house and was not able to drop by as his area was severely flooded. He mentioned that it was getting worse, so I went out to have a look…

Flooded drain 1

…and true enough, the drain outside was filled to the brim. It got even more serious last night as you can guess from the situation outside my house this morning….

Flooded drain 2

After the flood in the first-second week in January, the nincompoop in charge of natural disasters and stuff had said that there would not be any flood during Chinese New Year as the King Tide would only be 5.8 metres high compared to 6.2 metres the previous time around. Now he is keeping mum over his earlier statement…and of course, the newspapers would not dare to dig into their archives and publish again what he had said earlier. Sigh! I do wish that some people will have enough sense not to try and play God! Talk less, do more!

Flood update 1
UPDATE 1: At 11.00 a.m. today. The water is overflowing onto the road, my neighbour’s driveway is already submerged. Stanleycarter, your father’s not going to move his car? LOL!!!

As always, there is a lot of mud-slinging and finger-pointing with emphasis on localised issues such as the silting problem in the Rejang River and the sinking swampy land in Sibu.  They have conveniently chosen to ignore the fact that other parts of the state are similarly affected. No doubt those causes that they harp upon do contribute in one way or another but the main problem is the drastic climatic changes that the whole world is experiencing as a result of global warming. I saw somewhere the other other day a photograph of land in Antartica. The ice has melted, the sea level has risen and we are getting torrential rainfall  (and in the temperate countries, severe winters) unlike what we had had before. There are speculations that if the situation does not improve, some coastal cities e.g. Shanghai in China may be drowned into oblivion like Atlantis!

Flood update 2
UPDATE 2: 11.00 a.m. The water is creeping onto my driveway. I can imagine the situation in some parts of the town now.

For one thing, do not expect others to do something if you yourself are not bothered to even lift a finger to change. Last night, the weather was good…and the fireworks were booming away polluting the atmosphere with their toxic fumes like there was no tomorrow! Gee! Don’t parents teach their kids anymore…or don’t tell me the parents were the ones playing? (No wonder we have kids like those we find in the schools these days!) Aren’t they aware of the current pressing problems of global concern?

Let’s get together…

Last night, I went to this bloggers’ get-together at Lot 9 Cafe here…

Lot 9 bloggers' gathering 1

Victor Kiu was the meet co-ordinator (right) and with him in the photo was James from Miri…

Lot 9 bloggers' gathering 2

…and willchua from Sarikei (left) and rubberseeds were there…

Lot 9 bloggers' gathering 3

…and so was bongkersz (left), with wongpk and alexallied (blurred as he was moving at the time)…

Lot 9 bloggers' gethering 4

…and the camera-shy Bengbeng (so he was not in any of the photos) who was recovering from his serious foot injury. Clare was not able to join us as her uncle took her family out for dinner after the sunset mass but Yan managed to drop by to say hello after her family dinner at another venue…

Lot 9 bloggers' gathering 5

So what did we have to eat? There was this dish of fried mihun garnished with fried anchovies (ikan bilis) which was not bad…

Lot 9 bloggers' gathering 6

…followed by this plate of salad chicken which was quite nice too…

Lot 9 bloggers' gathering 7

…but I did not like the curry fish head. I’ve tasted better elsewhere and even my own home-cooked version with A1 Mountain Globe brand instant curry mix (seafood) is much better…

Lot 9 bloggers' gathering 8

I liked the sourish Thai-style midin (wild jungle fern). I thought it was nicer than Ruby’s – they had strips of ginger in theirs and I did not like the fuss of having to single them out one by one.

Lot 9 bloggers' gathering 9

The butter/cereal pork ribs dish is worth a try. Everybody enjoyed that…

Lot 9 bloggers' gathering 10

…and this dish of tofu was quite a hit, but I’m more a meat person…

Lot 9 bloggers' gathering 11

…and very much preferred the Philippine pork leg which could be comparable to Sweet Family’s…

Lot 9 bloggers' gathering 12

I did not touch the chicken feet/claws though! Eyew…

Lot 9 bloggers' gathering 13

All in all, the bill came up to around RM300 for so many people, inclusive of rice and drinks and each person had at least two or three. Rubberseeds brought a bottle of wine – Shiraz and they had that but I didn’t touch a drop! I was a very good boy! LOL!!!

It certainly was nice getting together to chit-chat and get acquainted with one another better. My pleasure meeting you, Victor (who was a student in my former school but I didn’t get to teach his class)…and I really liked his t-shirt…

Lot 9 bloggers' gathering 14

Ooo…William Shakespeare! “If music be the food of love, play on!” Luckily Victor’s not even half my size or he would have gone home without a stitch on his back! Hahahahahaha!!!!