In Japan, farmers have been creating stunning giant living works of crop art made by the careful planting of different varieties of rice. Although the images may look as if they have been digitally created in an image manipulation program, they are in fact real and are indeed created from rice plants. Farmers creating the huge displays use no ink or dye. Instead different colours of rice plants have been precisely and strategically arranged and grown in the paddy fields. As summer progresses and the plants shoot up, the detailed artwork begins to emerge.

The rice field art tradition began in the Japanese village of Inakadate in 1993 but has now spread to other areas of Japan. Villagers and volunteers help plant four varieties of rice that grow in different colours. The farmers use computers to plan their art before planting so that they know exactly where to place the different coloured rice plants in order to create the giant images. Planting generally takes place in May and the images look their best by September. Each year a different design is on show and more than 15,000 visitors travel to see the creation.

These Japanese farmers are truly astonishing for creating such stunning and unique work of art. Hmmm……maybe our Malaysian rice farmers can learn from them…but I am probably just dreaming….Malaysian farmers using computers? Boleh kah? Nay, our Malaysian farmers know only one type of mouse…the type that eat their crops!

none

This morning I had “dian pien ngu” for breakfast at a coffeeshop in Miri Commercial Centre. This was the first time I had breakfast in that part of Miri.

“Dian pien ngu” is a Foochow delicacy. “Dian” means wok, “pien” means side and “ngu” means paste in Foochow. It is a savoury soup with rice cakes,fish balls, black fungus, dried cuttlefish shreds, shredded pork and some dried flower thingy. Rice flour is mixed with water to form a liquid paste. This paste is then poured on to the side of the wok and once cooked, it is scrapped into the wok and cooked in a soup.

I have not taken “dian pien ngu” for quite a long time as I cannot find really good ones in Miri. The “dian pien ngu” I had today was actually not too bad.

A couple of days ago, my mother-in-law gave me a lot of “kompian” from Sibu as she knows I am a great fan of this Foochow delicacy. “Kompian” is made from lightly salted flour sprinkled with sesame seeds and baked in traditional open charcoal oven. It is actually a type of sesame bagel. When it is hot from the oven, it tastes great.

I am a Hokkien but I love Foochow delicacies such as “dian pien ngu”, “kompian”, “kampuan mien” (dry mee) and “peh tin yok chicken” ( chicken cooked in a herbal soup). The reason is simple. I was born in Bintangor (where the inhabitants are predominantly Foochow) and lived there about 17 years. Even in my birth certificate, my surname was registered as “Ling” (Foochow spelling of my family name) when it should have been “Lim” (Hokkien spelling) as the nurse who recorded my birth just assumed that I was Foochow. So I am stucked with a Foochow name and my Malaysian identity card shows my Foochow name with my Hokkien name as an alias! I guess I am fated to be close to Foochows…….my wife is Foochow and many of my closest friends are Foochow too.

Foochows are very-hardworking and not averse to toils and risk-taking. It comes as no surprise that the richest Chinese in Sarawak are mostly Foochow. If you don’t believe, just think of all the Sarawak Chinese tycoons and see how many are Foochow.

Let me teach you a couple of commonly-used Foochow phrases:

Siah pa moi? = Have you eaten?

Ken chin kuan= Talking rubbish

And ask your Foochow friend how to say “3278″ in Foochow…..it will be a “revelation” for you, hahaha!

none

A few days ago I saw an exotic local fruit at a hawker in front of the Magnum 4D outlet in Boulvard Commercial Center. The fruit is known as keranji (dialium indum) locally.

The fruits come from a tall, tropical tree which has become a threathened tree species due to its valued hard and compact wood. The fruits are grape-size with thin black brittle inedible shells. Each fruit typically has a hard brown seed but some fruits have two seeds. The fruit tastes like tamarind as it is a type of velvet tamarind.

I remember eating this fruit when I was a small kid so I could not resist buying some. Cracking open the shell and eating the flesh covering the seed sure brought back memories of my childhood in Bintangor, Sarawak. As kids, we used to eat this fruit and sometimes played a game withthe fruits. Two person competed with each other with each holding a fruit between the thumb and the forefinger and pressing the fruit against the other person’s fruit.The person whose fruit’s shell broke had to surrender his or her fruit to the other person. The games kids played, haha!

5 com

Lee Ching Wei finally did it! He clinched his first All-England championship in the men’s singles final at the National Indoor Arena in Birmingham yesterday. It was his seventh attempt to win the All-England.

He overcame a stubborn Kenichi Tago of Japan 21-19, 21-19 in a 47-minute final to be crowned the champion at the centenary of the world’s oldest badminton tournament.

With this win, Chong Wei has become the first player ever to win three back-to-back Super Series titles. Prior to this All-England title, he has won the Super Series Masters Finals in South Korea and Malaysia.

Syabas, Chong Wei!

none

Do you have $20-30 million to spare? Ever thought of owningwhat will probably become the most expensive real estate in cyberspace?

sexdotcom

Sex.com, the domain name touted as one of the most valuable in history, will go up for auction next week after its previous owner defaulted on the loan taken up to finance its purchase.

The website name was last bought in 2006 by Escom LLC for a reported record $14 million backed by DOM Partners LLC, a lender from New Jersey.But the lender is now foreclosing the Internet property after the owner Escom failed to pay its loan. Bidding, which is due to start on March 18 in New York, would start at $1 million. Bidders are required to require to produce a certified check for $1 million in order to participate.

Auctions for simple domain names are a good opportunity for internet entrepreneurs but such domain names are very expensive now. When the internet was still in its infancy, shrewd investors snapped up basic domain names for basic prices only to sell them for sky-high profits a few years later.

Sex.com however has had a turbulent history including allegations of theft and countless court cases. It was originally registered by Gary Kremen, the entrepreneur who founded dating website match.com, in 1994.

In 1995, through a scam, the ownership was transferred to “porn baron” Stephen Cohen, resulting in a five-year legal battle over ownership. A Californian judge awarded $65 million in damages to Mr Kremen and returned him the rights to sex.com. He eventually put the site on the market in 2006, and Escom reportedly paid $14 million for it.

According to Charles Carreon, a lawyer who wrote about the domain’s legal troubles in his book “The Sex.com Chronicles”, the site generated $15,000 a day in revenue at one point. So you can imagine how valuable this domain name is. The domain toys.com was bought by Toys “R” us last year for $5.1 million. I think it’s a foregone certainty that sex.com will easily sell for $20 million or more!

none

In 2003, police in Warwickshire, England, opened a garden shed and found a whimpering, cowering dog. The dog had been locked in the shed and abandoned. It was dirty and malnourished and had quite clearly been abused.

In an act of kindness, the police took the dog, which was a female greyhound, to the Nuneaton Warwickshire Wildlife Sanctuary, which is run by a man named Geoff Grewcock, and known as a haven for animals abandoned, orphaned, or otherwise in need.

Geoff and the other sanctuary staff went to work with two aims: to restore the dog to full health and to win her trust. It took several weeks, but eventually both goals were achieved. They named her Jasmine and they started to think about finding her an adoptive home.

jasmine

Jasmine, however, had other ideas. No one quite remembers how it came about, but Jasmine started welcoming all animal arrivals at the sanctuary. It would not matter if it were a puppy, a fox cub, a rabbit or, any other lost or hurting animal. Jasmine would just peer into the box or cage and, when and where possible, deliver a welcoming lick.

jasmine1

Geoff relates one of the early incidents. ”We had two puppies that had been abandoned by a nearby railway line. One was a Lakeland Terrier cross and another was a Jack Russell Doberman cross. They were tiny when they arrived at the centre, and Jasmine approached them and grabbed one by the scruff of the neck in her mouth and put him on the settee. Then she fetched the other one and sat down with them, cuddling them.”

“But she is like that with all of our animals, even the rabbits. She takes all the stress out of them, and it helps them to not only feel close to her, but to settle into their new surroundings. She has done the same with the fox and badger cubs, she licks the rabbits and guinea pigs, and even lets the birds perch on the bridge of her nose.”

jasmine2

Jasmine, the timid, abused, deserted waif, became the animal sanctuary’s resident surrogate mother, a role for which she might have been born. The list of orphaned and abandoned youngsters she has cared for comprises five fox cubs, four badger cubs, fifteen chicks, eight guinea pigs, two stray puppies and fifteen rabbits – and one roe deer fawn. Tiny Bramble, eleven weeks old, was found semi-conscious in a field. Upon arrival at the sanctuary, Jasmine cuddled up to her to keep her warm, and then went into the full foster-mum role. Jasmine the greyhound showers Bramble the roe deer with affection, and makes sure nothing is matted.

jasmine3

“They are inseparable,” says Geoff. ”Bramble walks between her legs, and they keep kissing each other. They walk together round the sanctuary. It’s a real treat to see them.”

jasmine4

Jasmine will continue to care for Bramble until she is old enough to be returned to woodland life. When that happens, Jasmine will not be lonely. She will be too busy showering love and affection on the next orphan or victim of abuse.

jasmine5

Pictured from the left are: “Toby”, a stray Lakeland dog; “Bramble”, orphaned roe deer; “Buster”, a stray Jack Russell; a dumped rabbit; “Sky”, an injured barn owl; and “Jasmine”, with a mother’s heart doing best what a caring mother would do…and such is the order of God’s Creation.

one

The haze is back with a vengeance. I had a hard time cleaning up my garage yesterday afternoon as it was covered with ashes.

And this morning I woke up to find my housing estate enveloped in a thick haze. At first I thought it was a morning mist but when I walked out to my garage, I was hit with the pungent smell of smoke.

dsc03420

As I was sending my wife and my son to work, I could see the seriousness of the haze. In some places, visibility was only four to five metres. It was no wonder that cars had their headlights on.

dsc03442

Visibility was real bad.

dsc03467

dsc03480

As usual, the culprits for the current haze are mainly the moonlighting farmers who burn roadside land for cultivation of crops to earn some part-time income. These people have no regards for the dire consequences of their actions. They often play a game of hide-and-seek with the authorities. They start the roadside fires and then disappear. Sometimes the fires started by them rage out of control and the fire brigades have to be called in to help put out the fires. Later these farmers come back to claim their “territories” and start planting crops like corn. This happens every year.

A few days ago, the mayor of Miri warned of stern actions against open burning. The authorities would impose fines on those caught in the act of open burning. But as these farmers always play hide-and-seek with the authorities, it is not easy for the authorities to catch them. The mayor thus reiterated that the authorities would no longer hesitate to destroy the crops planted by these moonlighting farmers. I hope the authorities will really carry out their threats to destroy the crops planted by these moonlighting farmers as these farmers need to be taught a lesson. Go Mayor go!

When will we see haze-free days in Miri again? Sigh………..

none

Yes, Canada has done it! Canada successfully won the ice hockey gold through a golden goal by Sidney Crosby in overtime to give Canada an euphoric 3-2 victory over USA at the Vancouver Games. The win sparked off massive celebrations across Canada from the Atlantic provinces right up to the Yukon. With a total haul of 14 golds, Canada created history for the most golds won by any country at a Winter Olympics.

Ice hockey is the most popular sports in Canada. Indeed the country seems fanatical about the sports. Ice hockey stars are revered. Don’t be surprised if some Canadians give you a blank stare when you mention Wayne Rooney or Ronaldo. But ask them about Wayne Gretzky, Bobby Orr or Guy Lafleur and see how they respond.

During my university days at Concordia University in Montreal, Canada in the late 1970s, I witnessed firsthand the fanatical popularity of ice hockey among Canadians. Being in Montreal, my favorite team was the Montreal Canadiens which was then the most successful team in the NHL, winning 4 consecutive Stanley Cups during the period 1976 to 1979. And their most famous player then was none other than Guy Lafleur. Fans chanted “Guy, Guy, Guy!” whenever he touched the puck. He became known among English fans as “Flower”, while among French fans he was dubbed “le Demon Blond” or the Blond Devil. He is regarded as one of the greatest ice hockey stars of all time.

Guy Lafleur...the Blond Devil

Guy Lafleur...the Blond Devil

So I know what it means to the Canadians to win the Winter Olympics ice hockey gold. Ice hockey is their national passion. Ice hockey is to the Canadians what soccer is to most of the rest of the world. Canada=Ice Hockey! So congratulations Canada!

Canada is such a lovely and peaceful country. If you have never been to Canada, do visit it one day. It is a huge country so it would take you weeks if you want to travel from British Columbia to the Atlantic Provinces. But I can assure you that you won’t regret it….indeed you will be awed by the breathtaking beauty of Canada. Just thinking of Canada brings back a lot of nostalgia of the fun and happy memories I had there. O Canada!

o-canada-english

none

Categories

Blogroll

Archives

Adverising

sal