Firdaus Tarmizi

Archive for July, 2011|Monthly archive page

My Compendium of Childhood Games at School (Part 1)

In Musings on July 28, 2011 at 9:21 pm

Firstly, props to my sister for giving me the inspiration to write about this through her entry about games we used to play as kids.  You can read her entry here.

Come to think of it, I played quite a lot of games, so I guess I need to break the entries into a few parts.  And keep in mind that most of these games might be related more to boys as opposed to girls, so don’t be mad if “main kawin-kawin” is not listed in this list, as it is totally girly and lame.  Although… I did “main kawin-kawin” with my sister and cousins quite often.

O_O …….

Anyway, on to the list!


1.  Bitom (spelling?)

I am quite sure this is totally a boy-dominated game in primary school.  You can play this game with as many kids as you want, but all of them must know who is in the game with them.  Usually, I will play this with my classmates as I know them all quite well.

The objective of the game is this: you are to whack somebody in the back or on their arms.  Sound simple?  Not really.  The game is on at all times you are at school.  You can only whack somebody when he just sat down or just stood up without saying “Bitom!” loudly for others to hear.  If, for example, you are eating at the canteen and you see somebody who is in the game coming towards you (or sneaking towards you), you have to say “Bitom!” quickly before they whack you.

Kidsfight - from

Kid 1: Woi aku dah cakap la bitom!! Kid 2: Tak dengor pun! *WHACK*


So the best part of the game is trying to sneak on someone, or trying to distract someone who going to stand up or sit down from remembering to say “Bitom!” just so that, yes, you can whack them due to their lapse, and you need to remember who’s in the game and who’s not, all while guarding your own backs from vengeful little fists.

I remembered how hilarity always ensued when, each time we need to stand up to greet the teachers in the classroom, the greetings will be drowned by “Bitom!!!” and “Whack!!” and “Adooii!!!””, because like I said the game is on at ALL times.

Of course, once the teachers knew what was going on, they put a stop to the game.  Or at least, while they are in the class.


2.  Main Cop Tiang.

I’m sure quite a lot of us have played this. At least, those whose school has the roofed walkway.  In googling it, I found this great picture depicting exactly how the game should be played:

main tiang 4 -

The "Main Cop Tiang" Diagram


Somebody actually made a diagram for the game!  How cool is that?  Kudos to the author.

Another game that is simple in concept.  5 players, with 4 at each pole and one in the middle.  The four need to exchange places between them, all the while making sure they are touching the poles.  So, the one in the middle just need to grab one of the poles before the 4 pole guards can complete the exchange.  If he managed to grab the pole, the person last guarding it will have to be the person inside.

One funny thing about the whole thing was how you need to kind of hold the hand of the person you want to exchange the pole with.  So, when girls and boys were playing together, we had to wrap our hands with handkerchief or hold a stick so that there won’t be any direct skin contact.  What a bunch of religiously obedient kids we were then, yes?


End of part 1.

In part 2:  Main bom kapal terbang, Main Bola Popiah (?) and Main Kad Tepuk!


SPR vs BERSIH Debate: Apa Selepas 9 Julai

In Politic on July 26, 2011 at 9:24 pm

1.  Perhaps, unbeknownst to the majority of us, there was a stimulating SPR vs BERSIH debate today, and I only knew about it from YB Sim Tze Tzin’s Facebook page.  Maybe, the timing of 2:00pm – 5:00pm is not convenient for a lot of us.  Beats me why they can’t broadcast a debate on a topic as important as this at prime time.

sprbersih - from YB Sim's FB

Apa Selepas 9 Julai? Exactly the question to ask.


2.   This debate was a pleasant development for me because I did mention here that I was looking for an intellectual debate on the issue.  I was hoping the opportunity will be used wisely because from what I can see, since the moderator managed to be non-partisan, this should be a good platform to understand the view from the opposing sides.

3.  I won’t be going through all the points made in the debate.  Perhaps you can catch it later from somewhere like Media Rakyat.  What I want to do instead is highlight some interesting points, and perhaps sums up what I think in the end.

4.  Points to highlight:

a)  Wan Ahmad, the deputy-chairman of SPR, is a brave man.  I say this because it was not so much a debate between Wan Ahmad vs Ambiga, but more of a showdown between Wan Ahmad vs the opposition/BERSIH-biased crowd.  He had to go through a grilling from the audience during the Q&A session, and most of the points he made was booed or shouted down.

b)  Wan Ahmad, however, did seem condescending towards the crowd, which might explain the their belligerence towards him.  His admonition such as (not verbatim) “See, you don’t know the law but want to debate here.  Go and learn the law first”, or “The opposition is too confrontational.  BN is nicer when dealing with us”, though might be on point, would seem a tad tactless.

c)  Quite a lot of the defense given by Wan Ahmad was along the line of “we do not have the power to change things”.  If so, who has the power?  Who should take the lead in reforming or improving the electoral?  If they do not have the power to change things, why vehemently reject BERSIH instead of channeling the demands towards those who has the power (the AG chamber, and the parliament, in this case)?

d)  I hate the argument of “if the opposition becomes the government, they would certainly do the same to guard their interest”.  This is related to the previous point, when/if the matter of changing the law is brought up to parliament.  The point is, it doesn’t matter who the government is.  If we disagree with a policy, we’ll disagree.  Perhaps, BERSIH 3.0 will be against the new government instead.  Who knows?

e)  Something very true was said by Wan Ahmad.  It was in regard to a question from the audience of “Why is it that the majority of people distrust the SPR right now”.  Wan Ahmad correctly responded by saying “How do you know what the majority thinks?”

I hate it when anybody, be it the government or the opposition, says they are representing the silent majority on an issue.  Such arrogance.

f)  The audience heckled like primary school kids, on any points they disagree upon.  Third world mentality.

g)  Lastly, a dumb ass from UNISEL stood up and, despite the fact that he is in a multicultural and multi-religious forum, spouted some crap about how demonstrating is Haram in Islam.  Good thing the moderator didn’t even bother to entertain the “question”.

5)  I would like to sum up the entry by something said by one of the observer.  This is not exact and I might even be misunderstanding it, but in short, he said our country had went through a couple of circles of democracy/politics.  The first circle is made up of the Merdeka generation, and the second circle consists of highly educated, well-informed, technological savvy generation.  The first circle perhaps will find it hard to understand the reason for freedom of expression, of open debate, of the right to disagree and to dissent.

It just made me wonder in which circle our politicians are in.

My 43 Things

In Self-Improvement on July 25, 2011 at 9:35 pm

After my entry of “The Plan“, a friend left a comment recommending the usage of a 43 Things.  In short, the site allows you to make a list of 43 things you want to achieve, share them with others, see if there’s anyone else going for the same goals, and perhaps share and learn how they did it.

I hopped directly to the site, and lo and behold!  I found out that I actually did know about the site, and had an account since March 2010.  I guess I’ve just never reviewed my goals -_-.

So now, I would just like to share my first draft of my 43 things.  I am also a believer of SMART goals, so, as much as possible, I try to make them SMART.

If you would like to view and comment on my goals, you can go to my 43 Things page.

The Hills are Alive! (Part 3) – Oliver!

In Musical Films on July 23, 2011 at 9:37 pm

Note:  This is the third installment of the 7-part series.  You can read the rest of the series here.

2.  Movie:  Oliver!

I remembered that the first musical films I saw was the trio of the Sound of Music, the King and I, and Oliver!.  And I also recall that Oliver! was the one that made me feel the most confusing myriad of emotions.  I felt uplifted, jolly, melancholic and grateful, all at the same time.  I guess that’s why the tagline of the film is “Much More than a Musical”

Oliver!  from

The poster kind of sums the story up, really. Except for the ending of course.


Favorite Song:  Who Will Buy?

There’s a lot of jovial songs in Oliver!, and it might be hard for me to choose my second most favorite.  But it’s easy to choose the number 1, and it’s this:

I think what always attracted me to this whole song/scene is the way it started seamlessly, accompanied by birds chirping in the beautiful morning.  Boy, I do love my mornings.  Perhaps that’s why I love this song so much.  I also adore the way the song builds up and perfectly ended with the marching band (never mind Dodger and Bill Sikes at the end).

And of course, there’s not that many ways nowadays you can legitimately sing “I’m so high, I swear I could fly!”.

Special mention:  Fagin!

No, it’s not the title of the song.  It’s just that you simply can’t mention Oliver! without mentioning the awesomeness that is Fagin.  I remembered wanting to be a pick pocket after watching this movie.  The dreary and tough life doesn’t seem too bad if you can sing and dance with Fagin, right?

Hence, my special mention for this entry is a tie between “You’ve Got to Pick a Pocket or Two” and “Be Back Soon”.

A Confession: My Love of PB

In Confessions on July 21, 2011 at 8:40 pm

1.  I would like to dedicate this post to one of my favorite things in life, the awesome, life-changing and magnificent PB.  Seriously, I think whoever invented PB is an unsung genius, who should be remembered until the end of time.  When I first encountered it, I use it nearly every day.  And even now, after being exposed to so many other alternatives, I still think PB is the best.  In fact, I know it is being used and popular in the Phillipines, North America, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom (from wikipedia).


These ladies are happy after discovering PB! Insyaallah, after trying it, you can be happy too!

2.  What’s not to like?  You can use PB with anything.  It is delicious, nutritious, and definitely versatile.   Recently, I even tried a new recipe : PB Chicken, and it tasted superb.

3.  And so, I dedicate this short and meaningful entry to one of my favorite item of all time:  peanut butter.


Ummmm Oishiiiii!


4.  Wait, what did you think I was writing about?

The Case Against Dining Out

In Health and Fitness on July 20, 2011 at 10:38 pm

1.  I am going to do something that will make me very unpopular, and could even be seen as blasphemous to some people.  But I do hope my dear readers would at least hear me out before coming to my house and burning it down.

Here goes.

I am urging, even though we are living in Malaysia, the gastronomical center of heavenly cuisines, and even though I am myself in Penang, the epicenter of culinary delights, for my dear brothers and sisters… to start appreciating home cook meals and to NOT EAT OUTSIDE ALL THE TIME.

*cue the boos and throwing of rotten vegetables*

*dodges a stalk of choy sum* Wait wait!  I am just saying, you should not go eat nasi kandar and fast food every single day.  And to stop drinking all those nasty carbonated drinks.  Not such a tough request, isn’t it?

*ducks to avoid flying chairs and tomato missiles*

2.  Perhaps I should start with my own experience in the sinful world of pigging out on unhealthy crap.  4 months after graduation, I got a job in AMD as a buyer in a shared services center.  Being in a global department, I had to work permanent night shift (10pm – 6am).  Since the break time is at 1am-2am, you can guess which eateries were open at those hours; yes, the nasi kandars and the fast food joints.

3.  So, I started my journey of gorging on roti telur bawang kuah banjir and KFC’s Zinger Burger.  On mee goreng + telur mata taruk atas and Spicy Chicken McDeluxe.  On tandoori chicken and Big Mac, large fries and large coke.  Nearly every single night (or morning).  I was enjoying myself, after being free of the bland and unexciting food of the United States.

And I gained 15 kg in less than one year.

Pelita- from

The evil corporation selling the irresistibly delicious sup kambing


4.  That’s right folks, I grew sideways from 65 kg to 80 kg in a matter of months.  And don’t get the facts wrong.  I was not at all a couch potato in any measure:  I exercised quite regularly, after signing up at a gym, and could last at least half an hour on the rowing machine before continuing to lift weights for another half an hour.  But the combination of (maybe) the lack of good night sleep, and constant influx of high calorie, sugar and salt, led to my spare tire growing non-stop like Jack’s magic beanstalk.

5.  The simple fact is, the food prepared in eateries are expected to be delicious and scrumptious.  You stop by at the nasi kandar joints and expect flavorful, big generous portions of gravy and oily meals, topped up with refreshing big glass of Teh Ais.  Before you know it, you add-on the A.B.C, another small plate of fried chicken and another can of Mirinda Orange, the longer you lepak at the place.


Yummm..... mouth-watering dinner in a pretty, attractive package. Also known as "1500 calories you will need to burn through 2 hours of running."


6.  How do you expect they made all the above, especially the processed meat, beef patties and sodas, to taste so good, and could last for a long time (to be transported and in storage)?  And why do you think you can’t just seem to stop yearning for that plate of meggi goreng and char kuey teow?

7.  The answer lies in the unholy trinity of sugar, salt and CALORIES.  Yes, the cheerful clogger of blood veins, the brave partner in increasing your blood pressure, the silent reason you thirst for more sugar-laden soda even though you have just drunk a bottle of it (answer: it’s due to the high salt content in the burger you just ate).  A few years of these unchecked, and you’ll be finding yourself browsing the XXXL section of the department store.

obese- from

This could be you in 5 years.


8.  I think that should tidy things up.  I hate to sound so preachy, but hey, I hope I am doing you some good.  My deepest wish is to be able to watch my grandson graduate from college and get married and get babies of their own, all thanks to a healthy lifestyle and healthy diet.  And I hope to see you there too, sitting next to me, watching your own great-grandchildren taking their first steps.

And if me getting bashed over the head by an eggplant is what it takes to get this message across, then so be it.  You’ll thank me someday!

9.  Lastly, something for you to fill your time with.  It’s long and boring, just like my post, but filled to the brim with good info.

Repost: Shortcut to Mediocrity

In Musings on July 20, 2011 at 8:44 pm

Notes:  This was from my old blog,  Reading it again, I now realize how I was such a verbose pretentious prick muahahaha.

However, since what I wrote below is related to what I am trying to achieve now, I think it would be nice to go back to the me of Tuesday, February 27, 2007.


I firmly believe, despite anything said by motivational speakers who are, at the very core and end, just out to make you buy their next motivational tape consisting of excessively positive mumbo jumbo which has the negative effect of inducing vomit that any individual has a finite potential, a limit, a plateau over which said individual could go no further. Even these positive thinkers are human (the condition, not the species, which would go without saying since even an unbeliever would be shaken by a motivational speaking toad), and although the desire for the “betterment of human condition” might be their goal on the surface, they still have kids to feed, bills to pay. This is by no means a pessimistic statement, but an objective and practical view, which more often than not are being set aside by both the optimists and the naysayers.

The view of unlimited potential is what I blame upon on countless talentless singers who go to various auditions for more-common-than-opposable-thumb-on-primates reality shows. That, and delusion, but those two go hand in hand. Not all has a future written where he/she can jump and dunk a basketball, and only an exceptional few are fated to be a charismatic leader who lead an entire country towards ruination ala Hitler.

But of course, here’s where the objective, all-encompassing view would have to be trained upon. A human is a limited being, but the possibilities of one’s freedom of expression and the way to answer the question of “what am I to be”, between non-existence and the line separating potential and vain dream, are V A S T. The ceiling of human potential, although all too real, has yet to be touched by any. At the very end, this is where free-will is given, so one could decide on how much of the finite potential space to fulfill.

It is perhaps a sin, with the vast and seemingly infinite potential a human could reach, that one would choose not to give his all. Nearly all are guilty of this, but we rationalize our sin by the act of recognizing our potential, saying “I could do that if I want to”, instead of stepping out of the comfort zone and actually reaching it. Perhaps it is the fear of not being able to step down from a pedestal or a ladder rung you climbed yourself, or of having to, till the very end your days, fulfill the demands and expectations of those who already know what you could achieve.

Hence the quote “betulkan yang biasa, biasakan yang betul“, a wisdom of ages only recently brought to my attention by someone really dear to me. So simple, yet intrinsically definitive. At that moment of introspection, the words solidified the immense possibility of learning from anything anywhere, and equate learning with the function of want.

Why the fear of taking that step towards 100%, leaving satisfying ticks next to your lists of things to do?

Why the need to sit back and let others make the first move, creating a safe refuge you could fall back in times of strife?

Why the shortcut to mediocrity?

On Sticking My Wand Up His Sparkly Vampire Ass

In Books on July 19, 2011 at 10:14 pm

WARNING/NOTE:  This entry might contain spoilers to the Harry Potter and Twilight series.  And I am writing mainly in regards to the books, not the movies.


I had just watched the last Harry Potter movie with my wife, and it has been our tradition to diss the Twilight series each time we went to see a HP movie (or any other movies, for that matter).  As a commemoration of the ending of the HP book/movie series, I’m just going to join the Harry Potter vs Twilight debate that has been going on so fiercely on the Internet.

Actually, I’m not so much joining as wondering why there is even a debate comparing HP vs Twilight in the first place.  It’s like comparing The Iliad to Lagenda Budak Setan.  Like comparing Pamela’s hotcakes to Pelita’s roti canai.  Like comparing the strategy playbook of FC Barcelona to the play-style of Felda United.  All of them could be appreciated due to differences of taste, but HP is on another level of complexity and maturity as compared to Twilight.

Hey , I am not saying it’s wrong for you to like Twilight.  You can even like Twilight over HP as a matter of taste.  Yes you can enjoy Twilight as a harmless bit of fun (I’ve read them all while doing my number 2 anyways) and as filler between better books.  What is unacceptable is if someone would actually think Twilight is better than HP in terms of plot line, character development and overall literary standards.

So, without further ado, here are my 3 main reasons why I think HP trumps Twilight:

1.  HP is known for its complex plot.  There are connections between the whole series, culminating to an explosive ending.   Every minute detail has a significance, and something seen as just a small plot device in the first book, came back as something imperative in the end.

As for twilight, there a HUGE deus ex machina at the end of the series, along the line of “Hey, here’s someone out of nowhere who will stop everybody from fighting and save the day!“.  Not to mention: “Hmmm how do I defeat beings with powerful supernatural powers?  I know!  Have a power that is actually BETTER than all those superpowers!“.

It’s as if, in the Battle of Pelennor Fields in LOTR, Gandalf just straight away came out, waved his staff, and turned all the orcs’ swords and spears into cotton candies.  Yes, that’s kind of how the ending “epic” battle at the end of Twilight was solved.

A quote from Stephen King sums it all:

“Harry Potter is about confronting fears, finding inner strength and doing what is right in the face of adversity. Twilight is about how important it is to have a boyfriend.”


2.  HP transcends gender and age.  This is a short, simple argument.  HP franchise can be read and appreciated by children, men, women, grandmas and grandpas alike.  Its artistry and style has a universal value to it.  Far from being just a story of good vs evil, it is a classic telling of growth, sacrifice, love and also comedy.

Twilight?  The picture below sums it all.

TW Fans- from



3.  Lastly, the portrayal of female character.  I’m too lazy to dig up what I’ve read before, but a lot quite a lot people pointed out how the Mary-Sue ish character of Bella sets feminist movement a few decades backwards.  In an age of female empowerment, Bella is the worst embodiment of strength and independence.  She pines for her man all the time, was unable to function when dumped and tried to kill herself because of that, and, in one of the book, half of the plotline is about how excited she is to pop Edward’s 100-year-old cherry.

Compare that to the awesomeness that is Hermione Granger.  Don’t know how to break into and out of Gringotts?  Hermione’s got the answer.  Can’t for the life of you remember the spell to defeat an evil wizard?  Hermione’ll come to the rescue.  She’s the brain behind Dumbledore’s Army’s secret operations, and she even led a whole movement to free the downtrodden and the weak house elf (albeit not that successfully).  And, when dumped (temporarily) by her man, what did she do?  Did she mop around and curl up to die?  No ma’am!  She just kept on with their quest in finding the Horcruxes and even nearly died in the attempt!

Hermy - from

And SHE'S the one who'll do the poking, thank you very much!


If you ask me, between the two, which series I’m going to let my children read, I think you should know the answer by now.  Well, maybe I would still let them read the Twilight series, but only as an example of what to stay away from.


P.S:  I am not saying HP is the best series out there.  This is just strictly a comparison between the two series.

P.S.S:  Below is an example of how to engage in intellectual debate.  Even if it is about two books, great points were made, with evidences and examples to support them.

Let me be evil a bit, but isn’t it weird that the HP team is made up of nerds who excel in logical reasoning, and the Twilight team is , well, formed by girls who uses “like” more often than the times I fart every day?  And I fart, a lot.


My Little Bundle of Terror

In Family, Parenthood on July 18, 2011 at 10:07 pm

Once upon a time, the biggest worries for me are such mundane things like not passing exams or not making it to a good college.  I remember fretting about not finishing assignments and failing a paper and, more recently, about not meeting the cycle time for the department or being anxious each time a performance review came around.

Little did I know that these concerns are nothing compared to agonizing over your child’s safety.  And a child not even 1 year old, at that!

My nightmare started as soon as Hamzah learned how to turn over.  No more being left on the bed alone for him!  I remember my first close call with cardiac arrest when, with me napping just next to him, he rolled his way to the edge of the bed and I managed just barely to hold on to his legs.


He now uses the skill to crush enemies and cousins alike


Once he started to commando crawl (shuffling on his tummy), anything on the floor is fair game for his culinary testing activity.  Now, I started to be troubled with anything small enough for him to accidentally swallow, and I had to focus on removing anything that is small enough out of his way.  Which leaves everything else stinking of his saliva.

Om nom nom


And now, he’s at his crawling stage.  Beside the huge increase and burst in speed, he also developed a new hair-tearing ability to change direction abruptly, just to smack his head into something.  His playground just became much bigger than his play mat, and his father just became much nearer to bubble-wrapping the whole house.


Quick! Smack me on the head before they see us!


I am fearing what is in store next, and I wait with bated breath the day he starts to walk, and run, and climb on things.  Wait, he already is doing the last part.  Maybe that bubble wrap idea is not so bad after all, eh?

Bersih 2.0 – The Chicken and the Duck Syndrome

In Politic, Ranting on July 17, 2011 at 6:31 pm
Chicken and Duck - from

Malaysia: A Nation of Chickens and Ducks

The few weeks leading to , and one week after, the momentous (or devious, depending on which side you are on) Bersih 2.0 march (or riot) , I learned one very important information regarding Malaysians: we are a nation with severe inability to engage in mutually respectful discussion.

Intellectual discourse is dull and boring.  Malaysians generally crave spectacles and fireworks, hence liking speakers who can give the best performances, instead of having the best points.  Who cares about the best agenda and manifestos if they can virtually pulverize an opponent with their sermon?

Recently, an acquaintance brought up her desire to find “sensible threads where people speak with reason, not blind loyalty to the left or the right, nor blind hatred”.  To which I say: Trying to find that in Malaysia? Good luck with that, my friend.  The only sensible voice of reason in Malaysia is the pakcik making the Raya announcement.  And he also has retired.

Raya - taken from

Seriously, who can argue with this?


Jokes and cynicism aside, here are what I am looking for.  Alongside with what my friend are hoping for, I also hope for more people to  “Seek first to understand, and then to be understood“.  For people to be able to be on opposite sides without putting negative labels on each other.  For people to agree to disagree.  For people to debate based on the issue at hand, not along party lines.

These may all sound cliché, but they simply are not happening!  Ask yourself, to what end do you argue?  Is it to bend other people to agree with you?  To make other people submit to your definition of reality?

Or, are you trying to emphatically understand other’s point of view, their motivation and evidences for taking a stand, their anger and fear regarding an issue, WITHOUT trying first to think on how you would reply to their accusations and defend your points?  And, after understanding where people are coming from (even if not the same as you), to agree that they are still human and worthy of basic respect?

If the latter part is true, why are we seeing the tendency to demonize others who dissent?  Why the accusations that all BN supporters are sheep brainwashed by the mainstream media?  That all PR supporters actually worship Anwar and are agents of Jew and the US?

Why the habit of shutting off your ears from their words as soon as you know the person you are talking to supports another party?

More sinister are those people who actually understand EXACTLY what the other side is  saying and, far from trying to foster constructive discussion, try to poison and manipulate to support the own points.  Sadly, this is what the majority of politicians are doing.  That’s why I am telling you not to decide along party lines, but based on the issue at hand!

How many of us, without reading any opinion pieces, blogs or FB status updates, try to gather pieces of information and form our own opinion?  For a lot of us, because we form opinions based on our peers and not from our own convictions and values, we don’t like to face anything that challenge our assumptions.

That’s why, in the end, the chickens will continue to cluck cluck cluck, and the ducks keep on quack quack quacking, and will never find a common ground because they don’t bother to learn the other’s language.


My challenge to Malaysians:  Open a blog/website which support another party, and try to read their points without any preconceived notion.   Go through the article without labeling the author in a negative light.  See if you can, after reading, list down and summarize their points to another person in an objective manner and without balking in disgust.  And after that, see if you can counter the argument point by point without resorting to ad hominem or any other fallacies in argument.

If we can, perhaps, there’s some hope for us as a nation after all.