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Monday, August 31, 2015

Essential Skill - Swimming

I learn to swim after I entered college. It seems strange that someone who lives on an island does not learn to swim but I believe many people who live in Penang island all their live still do not know how to swim.

The first thing I learn about swimming is the fact that all of us have a natural buoyancy - we all float. However, the buoyancy differs from person to person. The lucky ones naturally float with either their nose or mouth above the water which allows them to learn to swim more easily. I float slightly below the water and have to hold my breath and need effort to push myself above water to get my breath.

The key thing about learning to swim is to get comfortable being in the water. It is terrifying for first timers, you are in an environment without a solid support and everything is moving. Every gesture and movement you make changes your position in the water. I felt out of control the first time I went in the pool and was told to float. It is very easy to panic. I guess that is why we read so many cases of drowning where the panicking victim drags their savior down with them.

It is very important to stay calm. Struggling and making uncontrolled movement could easily move us deeper into the water as well as zapping us of our strength. The key thing I learned about swimming is to preserve our strength - to relax until someone comes to rescue us.

Swimming is a survival skill, you never know when you need the skill!

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Review: Hitman: Agent 47


Based on the previous Hitman movie, I expected a lot of action and I was not disappointed. There was a lot of action and killing throughout the movie.

The first part was confusing with Agent 47 trying to kill Katia when they were to team up (based on the thriller). Later in the movie, he explained to Katia that he was only marking her but did not really explain why he needed to do that.

The movie felt very much like Terminator 3 where two invincible killers try to kill each other in order to get their prize, first Katia and later her father. The purpose was pursuit is to create an army of agents similar to Agent 47 and Katia’s father, one of the founder of the original program was the key. The leader of the competing agency is an old acquaintance to Katia’s father and wants to create an army for his organization but his connection with the original project was never explained.

Katia was one of the subject of the original project which created Agent 47. Apparently the agent number also indicates their expert level and Katia is of a higher level compared to Agent 47. However, it felt more like Agent 47 patronizing or testing her whenever he ask her to decide their next move. Her ability is more like precognition similar to what we see in Minority Report, not quite what we expect from the experiment.

There was a mid credit scene where someone survives, it appears to be one of the body guards shot on the rooftop in the final scene.

Overall, it was a fun movie with fast paced action with a few twist in the plot to keep me interested.

Disclaimer: I was not paid to write this review.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Review: The Man from U.N.C.L.E.


I went to this movie without any expectation - the thriller did not provide much details of the movie. I vaguely remember reading The Man from U.N.C.L.E. comics but do not remember much. It was refreshing to see that the movie using 1960s setting - so many remake of the old television and movies were modernized and did not really feel right.


The cat and mouse chase between the two main characters (Solo, the American agent and Kuryakin, the KGB agent) would great, a well choreographed dance with each trying to kill the other but failed. It also sets a stage for the rivalry that is seen throughout the movie. This movie is about how The Man from U.N.C.L.E. was formed. I still do not understand why it is given that name since there is more than one person. While the original series had only two main characters, this movie had a third agent - Gaby, a female agent (revealed at the later part of the movie).

The technology used in the movie appears exaggerated with the bugging devices appear like oversized led lights and remote control receivers. KGB appears to have more advanced technology but that was balanced by Solo’s knowledge as a super thief.

One of the attraction of the movie was that it did not take itself too seriously and poked fun at the difference in culture between the East and West. Even though, my father and I enjoyed the movie, we felt that my children and his friends may not enjoy the movie. This kind of movie may be a bit out of style.

Disclaimer: I was not paid to write this review.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Penang Bayan Lepas Road Closure

I was caught in a massive jam in Bayan Baru today. A colleague forwarded the following information to me. The closure is from Aug 15, 2015 until Jan 14, 2016.

Attached is the proposal of alternate routes in the attached document takes effect from Monday to Friday. The Member of Parliament for Bayan Baru, Sim Tze Tzin is working alleviate the problem.


Sunday, August 9, 2015

Fantastic Four 2015 Movie Review


The latest Fantastic Four tried attracting younger audience by making them younger, probably due to the success of Amazing Spider Man. Based on the box office result, it is not successful. There are several problems with the movie.

I realize that this is a movie about the origin of the Fantastic Four but feel that too much time was spent trying to explain and build up the characters and the final confrontation felt rush.

Another problem was the characters. One of the attraction of Fantastic Four was the frequent bickering and fights between Ben Grimm and Johnny Storm but this was absent in the movie. We saw only a glimpse of that at the end of the movie. This was the comic relief that was in the first movie but missing in this movie. In the movie, Susan and Johnny Storm is almost as smart as Reed Richards; it just did not feel right.

The tracking of Reed Richards after he escaped Area 51 felt out of place - much more suitable in a Hulk movie.

The movie was too serious and lacked enough action to maintain the interest.

Did Stan Lee appear in the movie or did I miss it? Also I did not see any mid credit or post credit scenes which I have expected in all the new Marvel movies. It does not feel like a Marvel Movie.

Addendum:
Am I the only one who thinks that Reed Richards in the movie looks like Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook?

Friday, August 7, 2015

Promotions Which Upsets Customers


Recently I heard on the radio an advertisement encouraging consumers to pay their Indah Water bill early with the promise that those who pay their bill in advance will be given a gift. For those who are unfamiliar with this company, it manages all the sewage in Malaysia. On the surface, this is very attractive, those who pay early will be awarded. However, when we checked with the company it seems that there are several conditions. First the gift is an umbrella but it will be given only on Mondays and only to the first seven paying customers. We think that the advertisement is extremely misleading.

We had a similar experience with a promotion by the Chicken Rice Shop several years ago. The company advertised that they were giving away free lunches between noon to 1 pm. My parents brought my children to one of the outlets. They arrived early - around 11:30 and was told to come back at noon. However, when they returned at noon, they were told that all the free mails were already given out.

Both examples above are promotions that are counterproductive. Instead of attracting customers, they push away customers. In fact, my children were so upset with Chicken Rice Shop that they avoided it for several years. We finally ate there when we received some discount coupons to the establishment several weeks ago. I do not understand why business would carry out such campaigns. They would be better off if the campaigns are never carried out. These kinds of campaigns tend to create ill feelings and some consumers have long memory.