In Ike's Path

20 September 2008 | sila | | Recent News
 

You've all heard about Ike and the devastation it wreaked in Texas and other places. Well, Ike came through here last Sunday. It was very strange - bright sunny day, and huge wind gusts. We lost power around 2 or 3 PM, and when my wireless router finally conked out after the TV and all other appliances died, we felt totally cut off from the world. Never mind that we still had the phone and the cell phones. It just felt so weird. Luckily Vin has a little battery operated transistor radio - we caught the end of the Reds game (very windy there too!) and then at the post-game program, heard that over 700,000 Duke Energy customer had lost power. That translated to about 1.5 million people in the Greater Cincinnati area without electricity. Also that the wind gusts translated to a Category 1 hurricane, basically. Can you imagine how strong Ike was, to have blown through Texas and come up this far north and STILL be such a force? Downed trees and tree limbs everywhere. Debris in our yard. Luckily, the trees in the yard stood strong - only the dead branches came flying off. The neighbors across the street had a big branch almost blown off - cracked horribly in the wind. Same kind of tree that we have, too (don't ask me the name of the tree, I don't know).

It depressed me to no end as they projected that it might take days before power was restored. It really hit home that every single appliance in this house, from the stove, the oven, the kettle, the heating and a/c - ALL electricity! We worried about the food in the fridge, did we have enough water, etc. And of course, we have a new little baby who might need things. Rechargeable batteries does no one any good if we can't recharge them and they run out of juice.

Lily was at first by the back sliding door trying to attack the blowing leaves (see the video), but as the wind picked up and other debris was being blown about back there, even she was scared away from the door and she remained safely in the middle of the room rather than by the windows.

Anyway, we were the lucky few customers who got their power restored - came back around 11 PM on Sunday night. We cheered (we were in the bedroom but still awake - did I mention we have a little baby whose schedule we bow to?). As of today, there are still people without electricity in the Greater Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky area!

Take a look at the leaves swirling in the back here - keep in mind this was not the hardest the wind would blow that day:

* click on the image to launch the movie

Not a Pizza Hut ad

Wishing everyone affected by Hurricane Ike all the best, especially to those still without power here locally, as well as those who were really in its devastating path in Galveston and Houston.

 

Packed Lunch is Packed

29 August 2008 | Hisham | | Food, Recent News
 

After only bring in sandwiches for snacks at kindergarten, Irfan brought an awesome looking packed lunch in his schoolbag which consisted of awesome meehoon goreng that Ain fried earlier in the morning

He finished it off at lunch.

I love the little fork and spoon set attached!

Meehoon goreng
 

A Letter To The United States

23 August 2008 | Hisham | | Recent News
 

I don't usually write long letters nowadays thanks to the internet, which allows you to communicate immediately to family and friends with concise information almost everyday, if need be. This has the result of never requiring to long letters to tell other people the various things that happen to you in a single long document.

Recently I've had to write a pretty long email to Irfan and Alya's Atok and Opah who are still in Ohio playing with little Alya.

I should try to summarize the email here, however I will just let you read an excerpt from it.

 

Welcome Alya Jean Renstrom

23 July 2008 | Hisham | | Recent News
 

Last night Vin called to tell us that Sila has given birth to a beautiful baby daughter named Alya Jean Renstrom weighing 8.9 lbs at 10.39am Eastern Standard Time at the Atrium Medical Center in Middletown, Ohio.

Truckloads of congratulations to Vin and Sila. Sila is fine and I talked to her as well over the phone last night, but she's still in the hospital and Opah Alya's her company for the night until Vin and Atok Alya return the next morning.

I'd like to have waited for photos to announce the birth, but I'm late announcing it as it is.

Again, congratulations!

 

This Summer's Opera Report

05 July 2008 | sila | | Recent News
 
Madame Butterfly

Unlike last year, this summer we did not purchase season tickets to the Cincinnati Opera. Not because we didn't want to go to the opera or anything, but since opera season is during the summer, and since the baby might be presenting his/herself right smack during the opera season, we decided to play it by ear. As it was, I had to convince Vin that if we went to the opera in June, we would STILL make it to the hospital if I went into labor. ;-)

 

WTF???

31 May 2008 | sila | | Food, Humour, Recent News
 

And I say it again...WTF?? This creature has been wandering the backyards of our neighborhood in the last few weeks. Where did it come from? Why is it here? Why hasn't it been caught and made into dinner????? It's pooping on our driveway, big old tahi ayam crap! Whose up for a good chase? Grrrrrr...

Chicken in the backyard
Close Up of said chicken

As a consequence, we had to stop putting out birdseed for the birds and squirrels since this chicken was taking advantage of it. Grrrrrr

 

A Strange Place To Lie Down and Rest

30 April 2008 | Hisham | | Recent News
 

On the way back from the Sungai Merab area, where the PLUS highway intersects with the ELITE highway right by the exit to Universiti Putra Malaysia, the traffic slowed down considerably. This was strange because I've never experienced a traffic jam of this magnitude before at this particular location.

Which leads me to believe something's up front.

Highway blues

The road curves downward before climbing back up, and I lost sight of the road before me.

Closer

Then finally, TA-DAAHH!

On its side

But don't worry. The drivers were fine although they looked a bit dazed crouching on the far side of the wreck, waiting for assistance to arrive.

 

A New Baby For Hanim and Awie

28 April 2008 | Hisham | | ACS Memories, Recent News
 

Young Aisyah has a new brother! Abdul Qayyum bin Mohd Zawawi was born to Hanim and Awie at 0715 hours on the 22nd of April. We went a-visiting the newborn and his family and took a photo. Irfan tried to wink at the camera and he's almost got the wink down pat.

Almost.

 

Writing From The Phone

21 March 2008 | Hisham | | Recent News
 
Out of the most futuristic, science fiction type devices to enjoy a boost in technological development and application is Alex Bell's baby: the telephone. This post is bought to you from my mobile phone.
 

A Night Out In The City...

10 March 2008 | Hisham | | Recent News
 

... and the city is known as Tehran. Last week I spent a better part of a week (for work purposes) in Iran.

The first photo of the entry two days ago showed Azadi Tower of Tehran, close to Mehrabad Airport, which now only handles domestic flights.

Tehran was a bustling city, there were plenty of Peugeot cars as well as their national Khodro cars. It seemed to me that it's actually safer in Tehran than in Kuala Lumpur. I saw plenty of young women walking alone, presumably back from work with their briefcases, at night. I wouldn't walk alone at some places in KL's inner city. There were many malls in the city much like the ones in central KL, selling everything from Gucci to Versace. Families with infants and preschoolers walk the streets at night to have dinner at the many fast food outlets there.

Everyone was friendly, even when they couldn't speak English.

Prologue: The Homa Hotel

This is where I stayed in Tehran: the 16-story Homa Hotel, formerly the Sheraton. It's quite comfortable and the ratatouille they serve as part of their Western breakfast set is delicious.

The Streets of Tehran

The streets at night are rife with colour. Every band of the visible spectrum is represented by many neon lights.

Check out the script for the number four at the car registration plate, found at the twin double numbers at the right section of the plate. Interestingly enough, it seems the Persian "four" is "C" on a stick instead of the regular Arabic mirror image "3" that we usually use in Malaysia.

 

Where Have I Been?

08 March 2008 | Hisham | | Recent News
 

The last week or so, I have been on a trip.

Any guesses as to where?

It's in the Middle East, populated by friendly folk, and the food is fantastic.

Here are four photos all laid out to be more clues to the location.

A prominent landmark
Signs at the expressway
The mountains to the north of the city
A library

Stay tuned for the answer as well as more photos.

 

Movie Standees Get More Creati- HOLY CRAP THE FEDORA!

11 February 2008 | Hisham | | Recent News
 

So here we have a crate. There's a fedora and a whip hanging on its top corners. And it's apparently the property of one Dr. Jones. Suitcase looks like it's been to places like Cairo, Berlin and Venice. Will adventure have that name again this May 22nd?

I really, really hope so.

How much food does he have in there?
 

And now it's Yope's turn!

02 February 2008 | sila | | Recent News
 

February 1st, the day that Wilayah Persekutuan gets off, Hisham graced us with his presence thirty-five years ago. (Well, I wasn't there at the time)

Happy Birthday, bro! May you be happy and healthy always. You've been the best brother anyone could ever ask for, and thanks for being there for us. Love yas.

*p.s. - I know the entry says February 2nd, but it is STILL February 1st over here, k? :-)

 

Oh, For the Thirty-Third Time!

29 January 2008 | Hisham | | Recent News
 

Happy Birthday Missus Renstrom. You've made it this far, now keep swimming another 33 years and more to get your prize at the end. Which according to Sree is a pair of Eastern European leather shoes on sale.

Also, Happy 36th Anniversary Atok and Opah Irfan! Ain, Irfan and I thank you for your love and support all these years.

 

The Last Time...

27 January 2008 | Hisham | | Recent News
 

... I saw my phone was when I powered it down before getting on the flight at Gate 316, Stuttgart Airport. So long, faithful communication device. That ought to teach me to bring my mobile phone with me everywhere.

What?

After 6 long days, we're going home...
 

The Mercedes-Benz Museum

24 January 2008 | Hisham | | Recent News
 

After the second day of training, we were all brought on a bus through the cold but sunny afternoon weather from our training centre out near Hausen to the city of Stuttgart where we came upon this futuristic looking building: The Mercedes-Benz Museum.

From afar it looks like a big flattened face grinning at us ominously

 

Kehren Sie Nach Deutschland Zurück

21 January 2008 | Hisham | | Recent News
 

The Hirsch Hotel
It was a cold Sunday morning when we arrived in Germany. It wasn't as cold as it was two Februaries ago when snow surrounded Munich airport, but it was chilly enough for a bunch of Malaysians. But instead of staying over at Tiefenbronn (which was close by) I was given a room at Hotel-Gasthof Hirsch.

And no, I can't speak, read or write in German. The title came about after a quick visit to an free online translator website.

 

First a Book Review, Then a Painful Yelp

28 December 2007 | Hisham | | Books, Recent News
 

Here is a blog entry in two parts. The first is a review of a book. The second relates a tale that happens the day after the book had been finished.

But first, I will complain that my car's transmission, when engaged, will squeal like a dog but only for a second.

Now on with the blog entry.

 

The Smell of Blood, Finally Realised

25 December 2007 | Hisham | | Family Pics, Recent News
 

Long have I read in books where the author describes of the scent of fresh blood, especially in crime novels where a gruesome murder had taken place, or a horror novel where some unfortunate soul gets his or her skin flayed for whatever reason. Long have I also thought (each time I read such thins) that I know not the scent of fresh blood. Perhaps it was because I rarely visit places where gruesome murders, or supernatural flayings, or accidents in blood banks occur.

Recently, during Aidiladha (Happy belated Aidiladha everyone) we went back to Pasir Mas where as it was normal during the celebration, many bulls and cows were slaughtered for food to be given to family, friends and the less fortunate.

So there I was at the yard of Ain's uncle's home in the neighbouring village of Lati. We were there a couple of hours late, so we missed the slaughtering of the cow. When we got there, Ain went up into the house to greet her relatives while I wandered onto the yard where many family members and volunteers were cleaving flesh from bone. Here was where all the internal organs were piled. Here was a person carrying the cow's stomach which had been cleaned thoroughly by water, ready to be made into tripe. It looked and had the texture of a small rug.

 

Two Jabs and Electrically Cauterized at the Crotch

14 December 2007 | Hisham | | Recent News
 

Two days before I got back from Langkawi, I was feeling a slight pain at my upper inner thigh. There was a small growth chilling out there, minding its own business thus far until my excessive brisk walks during the exhibition caused it to be chafed. There was also a slight bleeding to it probably because the thighs sliding as I walk caused a bit of a tear where the not-so-little growth attached to the skin.

Several days after returning, on the advise of my colleague, I went to see the doctor to treat the pain. Perhaps the doctor would have some sort of salve or lotion to ease the pain. Or perhaps he would put an adhesive patch over it to avoid further physical trauma to the growth as it (maybe, I thought) heals itself.

No such luck. What happened next was... well, you can read the transcript of the chat between Sila and I as soon as I got back from the clinic: