Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Replacing Loss

Over the last few years I have lost a number of essential but not necessarily treasured possessions. The latest was my multifocals with the retro-look frames, what I used to call my Saloma glasses. I must have dropped them somewhere in Kuala Terengganu last trip.

I've had them for yonks, ever since I had to use reading glasses. I didn't want to look like a granny at work so I had mulifocals made even though I had and still have perfect vision for long-distance.

Last week I had a replacement done, and it wasn't cheap. The optometrist who checked my eyes told me the power I now need for reading is extremely high - 275, 25 shy of a full-fledged magnifiying glass. Time I stop these late-night surfing before I have to start carrying one around like Mr. Sherlock Holmes.

Recently I had also lost...  not physically, but the use of my shocking pink, senior-friendly Nokia. It had fonts huge enough that I could read text messages quite easily even without ye olde reading glasses.

It had fallen about four feet onto hard tiled floor from the banister at the bottom of the stairs where I had parked it. I hadn't expect anyone to want to talk to me at that hour but someone did and the phone fell when it started to ring and vibrate, spilling out it's gut - the battery.

From then on the casing couldn't latch properly and I kept losing the battery connection.  So yesterday after I collected my new focals, I settled for a new Nokia C6-01 which also wasn't cheap but cost much less than the latest Blackberry or iPhone for which I had heard more than enough recommendations. It was an expensive day.

About 10 days ago I had also made another "replacement" purchase for something that I had lost to burglars in 2003. It was unplanned and unbudgeted for, but as most ladies have a fondness for accessories, more so the yellowy, shiny and gleaming kind, I blame the purchase on a moment of weakness.

Although I lament my loss to temptation, there is nevertheless that feeling of gratitude that I at least have the means, on a small scale at least, to indulge in my baser desires.

Yes it has been an expensive month so far.

But they are all wordly possessions... they do nothing to tip the "brownie point" scale in my favour. 

What I should be guarding myself against, as a Muslim who is getting on in years,  is the possible loss of faith and guidance in the remaining time that I have - could be days or could be decades.

And I should be stingy with what little measly credits I've managed to earn thus far since I can lose them all to some person that I have backbitten or wronged in any way, and that I shall be the receiver of all of that person's negative marks in return...  This I think is from a hadith of the Prophet Muhammad SAW.

Most of us however, feel that a much greater loss is the passing away of someone you really love and respect wholeheartedly, in my family's case he is my Dad. It'll be 18 years this July 12th. Dad was the rock of the family, a stoic gentleman and a role model. He succumbed to pancreatic cancer at the age of 71.

You are irreplaceable, Dad. May Allah place you amongst the righteous.....   Ameen

Sunday, 26 June 2011

I Got Acquainted With iMovie

I used to be an avid user of Windows Movie Maker.

I'd piece together a few snapshots and video clips and plonked in some music, added in some effects and captions and voila, I have myself a video production.

Here's one of my favourites:

Today, after a long hiatus due to waning interest, I tried Mac's movie-maker apps, iMovie on my newish Apple.

It was straightforward enough but there is still a lot of the features yet to play with.

iMovie is programmed to get it's input from iPhoto and iTunes, so I first had to ensure the photos and clips I wanted to use have been imported into their respective libraries.

After that it was just a matter of putting in the captions and video effects while synchcronising the music to the transitions.

The video is then compiled into Apple's .mov format. I uploaded it to Youtube under my Kaizendra channel.

So here is my first iMovie video production:

Note: Youtube has increased the time limit of uploaded videos from 10 minutes to 15. And also accepts .mov high definition format.

Friday, 24 June 2011

Mac Blues

 image from google

I'm only a recent convert to Apple/Mac. I can't say that I've embraced it with all my heart. Being used to Windows there were things that had to be unlearnt and new ones to get used to.

Like where they've placed those window minimiser/maximiser buttons at the top lefthand corner (yellow arrow in the pic below) and being teeny-tiny as well, is not very intuitive for righthanded users like me.

And then the Apple icon where you logout, shutdown, etc is also at the top lefthand corner of the screen sharing the menu bar of the currently active apps. Windows has its icon placed at the bottom left all by itself hence it's more prominent.

The other thing was the "delete" key. It's actually the Windows "backspace" key. Everytime you want to delete something you've got to take the cursor to the end of the word or phrase, which I find quite annoying.

There's more.

On my entry level Mac, they've  put in only 2 USB ports whereas on my Windows machine it had more USB's than I had uses for, plus a slot for SD memory sticks to transfer images and maps easily, but on the Mac - zilch :(

The other day I wanted to bluetooth-transfer an image from my ancient Samsung Omnia (that image on the left was googled). It had worked easy-peasy on the Windows but the Mac refused to connect with it. I had to research the forums and was surprised to learn that Bluetoothing with smartphones is a known issue with Mac OS. I mean like, really? The formidable Mac?

Anyway, a good samaritan shared his way of getting round the problem which I have copied below for my own future reference:

1) I opened the System Preferences.
2) Click on the Bluetooth icon.
3) A list of bluetooth devices that are paired with my laptop is reflected on the left.
4) I look for my Omnia or SGH-i900 (which was paired already before) and highlight it by clicking on it.
5) Look below the list for the "+", "-" and "" symbols.
6) Click on the symbol to reveal a drop down list.
7) Select "Show More Info" and the drop down list is modified to reveal more options. The drop down list will disappear.
8) Click on the again and select "Update Device Services". The Drop down list will disappear again.
9) You'll notice that the Omnia lights up and there is a connection.
10) At the same time (and quickly), click on the again and select "Connect to Network".
11) This time, the connection should hold and the Bluetooth PAN is up.

See how tedious it is, but I had to follow these steps as the Omnia's proprietary cable connector had long ago gone MIA.

A few good things I can say about the Mac, one of them is that it's  iTunes audio is very pleasing to hear, "fingering" the trackpad to this 50plus is also something rather cool, and most importantly,  it is known that buying proprietary products protects us somewhat from malicious hackers and viruses.

Oh well, as in any new relationship I've just got to get used to it's quirks.

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

The Voice

In as much as untrained "writers" like me are able to express our thoughts through blogs and facebook, it takes natural talent and skill to use the written word to project our voices.

Without the help of the voice, sometimes our writings get misinterpreted. When we think we are funny, readers think we have a lot of agro.

However when we speak, the manner and tone of our voice reflect our true feelings (unless we are actors of course) which in certain cases can be actually hurtful to the one listening.

So... on the one hand we must be careful how we write to avoid misinterpretation, and on the other we should be careful how we speak in order not to give away our true feelings.

This delightful poem by an unknown writer explains:

“It’s not so much what you say,
as the manner in which you say it;
It’s not so much the language you use,
as the tone in which you convey it.
’Come here’,I sharply said,
And the child cowered and wept.
“Come Here", I said and he looked and smiled,
and straight to my lap he crept.

Words may be mild and fair,
But the tone may pierce like a dart’
Words may be soft as the summer air,
But the tone may break my heart’
For words come from the mind,
Grow by study and art,
But tone leaps from the inner self,
Revealing the state of heart.

Whether you know it or not,
whether you mean or care,
gentleness, kindness, love and hate,
envy, anger are there.
Then, would you quarrels avoid
and peace and love rejoice?
Keep anger not only out of your words
keep it out of your voice."

But that would be just suppressing negatvity, wouldn't it?

Once in a while,  I'm game for verbal badminton too.

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Do You Have A Back-up Language?

I know many people who are truly bilingual i.e they read, write, speak and think in two languages ever since childhood.

I also know a few who had tried to learn a third language a little later in life and managed to acquire a basic level of proficiency, one of them is my youngest daughter who learnt French for about three years at school. But on a short trip to France could barely make herself understood.

My eldest son, who studied formal Arabic up to SPM quickly picked up Jordanian street Arabic while doing his degree there.

They say the way to be proficient in any foreign language is to live among the native speakers and speak their language until it becomes a natural tongue.

I recently read that information about our native languages are stored in the left side of our brains, and that of languages that we are still learning or had mastered later are stored in other areas of the brain.

Why am I fascinated by this?

It is the realisation that an extra language can serve as a back-up communications tool should one happen to suffer damage to the left-brain and completely lose one's native language(s).

It happened to a 13 year old girl here:

It happened too to a friend who had suffered a stroke. He has reportedly lost his Malay and powerful English but is communicating now only in Thai, a language he was learning or had perhaps only just mastered.

I mean... seriously, though I do not wish it on anyone and certainly not on myself, a trauma to the left brain could leave us totally incapable of communicating to anyone.

But if we had been learning a new language prior to it happening,  this language might just kick in during recovery and help us be understood.

I'm thinking perhaps Mandarin, Tamil or even Javanese... there are many such speakers here in the Klang Valley

And also memorising more of Quran verses, for the Arabic capability......

I must reiterate, I do not wish brain injury on myself or even to anyone else, Na'uzubillah min zalik

Yes it is scary...  but hey, let's insure ourselves... just in case...


Tuesday, 14 June 2011

"I Was Trying To Be Clever"

She's almost a wonder woman this little lady whom her nearest and dearest fondly call Tok Mi. She's my Mum, just turned 84, and she lives by herself with a very dependable maid in Old PJ.

All her life she has been generally healthy all and only in the last five years or so developed a touch of diabetes and hypertension. Tok Mi recently had a knee job done. Barely one month post-op she was happily walking around, albeit a little slowly, but pain-free and without a tongkat.

This year apparently is the year for weddings amongst our relatives and friends. In the recent school holidays there were weddings back-to-back. With her new knee she was looking forward to attending them all. She was with us in Terengganu for my sons' engagement and wedding, very much enjoying the change in air and fare. When I was still conked out from the various ceremonies, Tok Mi had my brother (no. 2 sibling) drive her to her little bungalow in the kampong in Melaka for the monthly stay-over and house maintenance.

Last Saturday at one of the kenduris she had complained of dizziness but seemed to be ok after taking some food, although not as chirpy as usual. We thought that she might be overly fatigued from her social jaunts.

Sunday, as everyone at home were getting ready to go out for our 30th anniversary lunch, my elder sister (no. 3 sibling) phoned me to come over to Tok Mi's IMMEDIATELY.

"Why, what happened?" I asked.

"CEPAT!! Ada EMERGENCY!!!" she loudly sobbed.

"OK, OK, OK.."

In the car as hubby drove I called another sister, the calm and collected youngest (no. 9).

"I'm going over to Tok Mi's now, so what should I expect?" I enquired.

"Oh.. Tokmi pengsan, I'll be on my way in about 10 minutes", she said coolly

When we arrived the UH ambulance was already there and Tok Mi inside it with no. 3. Turned out elder brother (no. 1) and his wife had rang for it when the maid phoned them about Tok Mi. Actually she had already regained consciousness and was very alert after the paramedics attended to her. She had had a hypoglycaemic episode i.e very low blood sugar with a reading of 1.6 when normal is about 5.5.

The maid found her on the carpeted floor when she heard her fall off her chair in the bedroom. Tok Mi's eyes were shut and she was in delirium. Thankfully the maid had the presence of mind to make the necessary calls fast.

When she came to, right after being given some oxygen and a shot of glucose directly into her bloodstream, she was surprised to see so many people around and even asked why my sister-in-law, who was actually on her way to a (yes, you've guessed it) yet another wedding, why she was dressed so nicely.

It was a great relief for everyone. The paramedics still had to take her to hospital so doctors can determine the cause of her low sugar.

When asked where she had kept her IC and Pensioner's Card, she immediately answered where. In that locked drawer and the keys are in... OK musn't tell this, it's her secret place. Amazing that she could blurt it out right after being unconscious.

Later we joked we should have asked for her ATM pin too.

At the ER, another sister (no. 4) who knew about Tok Mi's medications was puzzled the diabetes pills weren't in her pills purse. If she hadn't taken them she would have been hyperglycaemic (high sugar), not low. After all she had eaten rich kenduri food the day before and she said she had roti canai for breakfast.

"So did you take your diabetes pills?", the doctor asked, "what shape are they?"

"They are the little round ones, Doctor", she said, "I take half a pill every morning".

"Did you take it this morning?"

"Yes, of course, but since yesterday when I saw my feet were slightly swollen I was scared the diabetes might have gotten worse, so I took a whole pill in the morning and another whole one in the evening. Also this morning, one whole pill", she smiled...

Aghast No. 4 and I went "WHAT???? You shouldn't have done that..., the pills made your sugar hit rock-bottom"

"Alahai...  is that so? I didn't know lah, I was thinking going to the clinic is so leceh"

The doctor was relieved too that the cause was pinned down and told her in no uncertain terms that she shouldn't self-medicate at all. But they will still have to retain her overnight for observations and take the opportunity to do blood and urine profilings, a chest x-ray and a Mantoux test for some coughing from which she had not fully recovered from.

Tok Mi was discharged yesterday and called me from the hospital to fetch her. Yes she had looked up the phone-book in her memory, amazing the man who had lent her his cellphone. He was looking after his mother in the next bed.

Another younger sister (no. 8) came to help with the discharge procedures - at UH it can be a bit tedious, you'd have to queue at the pharmacy on the ground floor to get your prescription filled, then queue at admin. on the second to make the payment, though in Tokmi's case the whole thing was FOC by virtue of her being the wife of a government pensioner (even if  deceased), then you had to sign a form and leave your IC to borrow a wheelchair, and then return it to the ward, in this instance on the 12th floor.

While having dinner at her house and discussing this episode Tokmi remarked "Tak berani lagi aku nak tambah-tambah ubat bila doktor dah hukum. I'll never do it again".

"So why did you?", we asked..

"I was trying to be clever"..

And those were her exact words.