Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Not Rolling Stones

While on a quick getaway to Rome three years ago, we couldn't even if we tried, ignore the sculptures.

They were  everywhere... outside on the streets, in the cathedrals, around the Colliseum, the museums.

Mostly they were of Roman gods and godesses,  cute little cherubs holding bows and arrows, also statues of citizens of great standing in ancient Rome.


Despite having hung around in the city for more than 2000 years, they were still in good condition, although some have certain parts of their anatomy broken or fallen off but even so, they are really quite magnificent.

Generally the forms were depicted as being in very good shape with perfect proportions and rippling muscles. Even though they were just sculptures, people still gawked at them - perhaps they had not seen something as perfect before in their lives.

Dare I contemplate what was going round in the minds of these oldish men?

Were they wishing she wasn't stone.... but had breath?

No wonder Islam forbids the sculpting of human and animal forms, and I quote from

"It was narrated] from ‘Abd Allah ibn ‘Abbas (Allah be pleased with him) [that] he said: I heard Muhammad (Allah bless him and grant him peace) say, “Whoever makes a picture in this world will be charged with breathing spirit [into it], while he is not one that breathes [spirits].”

Al-Bukhari transmitted it in Bab man Sawwara Suratan kullifa Yawm al-Qiyamati an Yanfukha fi ha l-Ruh wa laysa bi Nafikh.

The other place I've visited which has statues and carvings around every corner - scary looking ones at that - is Bali.

To me these places are worth visiting only once.

Just because of those un-rolling stones.

Monday, 26 November 2012

Stretch and Relax - Trying Out Yoga

"Actually yoga is all about the body, the mind and energy", said Ariff.

Aside from being an officer in the government, Ariff is also a certified yoga instructor and has practised yoga for 10 years.

Being that he is my daughter-in-law Akma's elder brother, I can truthfully claim that we now have a yogi in our midst.

I had always been fascinated by yoga, ever since a yogi from India demonstrated some incredible contortionist movements at school all those decades ago.

It was only when yoga became fashionable and got incorporated into fitness regimes and were made available on VCD's did I try doing some of the postures.

Well... let's just say, for me in the beginning some were difficult and the rest were hard. But they got easier the more I tried.

When I joined my gym, I attended a few of the beginner yoga classes and always came out from them feeling very light and refreshed. But if you're always the only older and rounder and stiffer one there, you tend to feel intimidated by the Madonnas all around you and not want to attend any more.

So I cajoled Ariff into conducting an introductory class for about a dozen of the clan on Chinese New Year morning, many many months ago.

Apparently there are many systems of yoga, from religious/meditative to purely physical. We are interested in the physical only, and Ariff geared it towards anti-ageing yoga, going by the average age of the group.

The introductory session had three segments interspersed with a time-out module where we lay on our backs with eyes closed and Ariff took us through some relaxing visualisations and awareness of our serene surroundings and the sounds of a flowing stream, a light breeze and birds a-chirping, in the distance the faint rumbling of a lawn-mower.

Basically the first segment was an exercise in getting to know our various joints from the toes, knees, pelvis, to shoulders and neck. 

Joints can be "opened", helping the circulation of fluids that lubricate them hence making them more flexible and less prone to seizing up and fail.

Here is an example of how you can practise self-massage for this purpose:

Yoga: Self-Massage -- powered by

In the second segment we were introduced to stretches. Stretching the muscles associated with those joints helps loosen any tightness hence relaxing them.

Yogi Ariff taught us proper breathing techniques which is essential in yoga and enhances the relaxation effect during stretching and helps calm the mind.

He patiently guided us through these stretches or "poses" or "asanas"as they say in yoga, while reminding us not to over-extend but to listen to our own bodies on how far to execute the poses. A good session should leave us feeling lighter and more relaxed, not the opposite.

And true enough that was what it did, to me at least. After a breakfast of Nasi Lemak 222, I fell into a deep stupor as soon as I got home.

Pictures are from a second session we had some weeks later

The naga asana or cobra pose, said to increase the flexibility of the spine 
and expands the lungs which is therapeutic for asthma

Watching a double boat pose being demo'd 
in what is known as partner yoga

This group, including Yogi,  have been pretty busy with other events and activities last few months, I think now we can find some time to do this again.

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Gassy Breaky Mac

Cold emoticonHave you noticed how some people especially those who are not too keen on taking vitamin supplements are quick to succumb to viruses and seem to be perpetually nursing a runny nose?

While there are others who are apparently fit as fiddles and never seem to get sick no matter what they do or do not eat, yet once injured or aged they easily get achey or itchy here and there, and sometimes gassy too.

Machines are the same.

When I had a Dell laptop which was operating on Windows, all kinds of viruses played havoc on its internals when I had let the anti-virus lapse.

Tired of being victimised by the anti-virus conspiracy and the BillGates haters I chose an entry-level Macbook as my next vehicle into cyber-adventure when the old Dell passed on.

Yes, entry-level just like my terra-firma vehicle as I am not one to afford the airs of a pro.

And since a Mac is purported to be the ultimate upgrade from the lowly PC, I didn't even consider buying the extended warranty.

As is bound to... nope, make that PROGRAMMED to happen very soon after the expiry of every manufactured product's  limited warranty, including an Apple product, some part or other will get weary or worned out or simply die. It's another conspiracy I tell you.

The only appliance that has lasted as long as my 30 plus (can't recall off-hand how many) years of marriage is my Made-in-Malaysia National rice-cooker. Alas they don't make things to last like that anymore.

Yeah... so after being left unused for a whole week the Mac's battery stopped charging, which was OK by me since like the Dell I use it plugged into the wall socket  practically most of the time (which now I know with Macs I shouldn't have had).

And then the  trackpad got moody and wouldn't click which made me resort to using a mouse - no problemo.

Sometime later though the trackpad lifted up off one side of the Mac's top casing, and soon after the other side, ending up it looking like an gaping vent window with a chipped frame

Inside I could see something in three sections wrapped in thick black plastic.  (Sorry, picture is rather unclear).

So what gives, Apple?

Only after some googling did I realise that beneath the trackpad sits the Mac's lithum-ion rechargeable battery pack. In other laptop PCs the battery usually lies towards the back and you can lift it out easily after unlatching the lid in the bottom casing. However in the Mac it is sealed within the inside and though you can see it, it is not possible to get it out from under the trackpad.

What then had caused the trackpad to lift itself revealing its hidden treasure?

Haha...  just like a pregnant woman's cervix dilates during labour, this trackpad got itself opened up by a heavily pregnant Li-ion battery. And this is something I totally did not expect:  that for Macs and apparently Macs alone, its battery pack can get heavily bloated due to gases emitted by the chemicals in the battery cells themselves.

Now this is a worser case than mine

Almost like a worn-out  person huh?

So off I went to the Apple service center at Mid-Valley and had them removed the battery. Buying a new one to replace would have set me back RM500, and with a new trackpad and casing. everything would have cost a total of RM1,500! For that money I could easily get a brand new entry-level Windows laptop with some handy bells and whistles to boot.

OK, had I bought the extended warranty at RM800 thereabouts, I would probably have gotten the fixes for free, but most likely not since I read that they do not recognise the bloating as manufacturing defect anyway.

So would I consider purchasing a Made-in-China Macbook ever again?

That's a question that needs no answer.

However a Made-in-China Sony Duo Hybrid running the latest Windows 8  looks deliciously tempting. Played a bit with it the other day at Harvey Norman's and was quite taken by it's high resolution touchscreen, built-in front and rear camera, no touchpad, slimmer and lighter than the Macbook and thus better portability for granny.

VAIO Duo 11

But at RM4,000 plus an additional RM300 for a three-year extended warranty....  hmmm, out you go to the back burner, baby. Achey, itchy and gassy granny will make do with her plugged in mouse-navigated Macbook for the time being.