Saturday, June 24, 2006

I am Back!

Yes, after having my last post here 12 days ago, I have finally found the time and motivation to post something again. Contrary to what some may think that my blog is dead because I have lost interest in it, it really is because I have been too occupied with many things in my life currently. The ongoing World Cup is one big distraction like it or not, and my lab work has just started to show how demanding it can be. But I still aim to blog more frequently to update my avid readers who have been visiting my blog so faithfully and churning up my site meter.

As I said, the World Cup is a huge distraction not only to me, but to millions around the world. To football crazy fans, regardless of whether they bet or not, have been enduring many late nights consecutively to watch the horribly late matches. The first match starts at 9pm, second at 12 midnight and the third at 3 am. By the time the matches are over, you will probably end up sleeping at 5am, the time you hear the mosques blasting the early morning prayer call. In some cases where you bet and have lost, you can't even sleep and have to go to work/school in about 2 hour's time looking like a Chinese panda. Even IF you won, you would probably be sighing why didn't you bet MORE! I speak from experience...

For the past 2 weeks I have been spending much time at the House of Vice playing mahjong while watching football. Of course, I used to bet on almost every match there was when I was still winning alot then. I had my fair share of winnings, my peak at about RM150, but after an 8 unbeaten run of winning my bets in a row, things started to head downhill. There were times when I betted small amounts, won, but complained that I should have put more. Then there were times when I played bigger amounts and lost, and whined that I should have know better earlier. Either case, I lost sleep, lost mahjong most of the time, and lost many matches recently. In the last few matches before the end of the First round, my entire winnings were wiped out and now I am in a negative state. Down RM50 to be precise. So for now I have put a stop to football betting and decided to sleep early every night. Even if I do bet in future, I will just put my money and go to sleep since staying up won't change the results anyway. Of course if it was the semi finals or finals I would consider staying up.

Daniel came up with an interesting idea of recovering our losses. If I am down 50, I should bet 50 for another match and try to break even. He says that we should keep trying to place bets since "you can't possibly lose every match". So what if you lose the match which you have betted 50 bucks on? The answer is to double your stakes ie. put 100 on the next match with the same aim of winning and breaking even. And if you happen to lose again just double it up till you break even. But my take on it is, will you actually stop playing after breaking even? There is just this natural greed in punters to go beyond breaking even, to try to win more. Just when you think your luck is coming, you bet a bigger amount and unfortunately lose it all to be back to square one. Football betting I discovered is highly addictive and unpredictable. I guess it takes alot of discipline to know when to retire after winning money, and when to stop betting after losing. Anyhow now it is in the second round which makes betting even more unpredictable, and I will opt to just enjoy watching the matches as it is, if ever; instead of trusting and hoping lousy Ecuador to beat Germany just because I betted on Ecuador.

So much for football, lab work has already started and on Friday I had my first experience of a long day in the lab. I spent 11.5 hours playing around with tiny amounts of antibodies in cute bottles just to produce my first ever ELISA plate. The whole procedure is frustratingly and irritatingly long, and I can't run anywhere far once I have started. The tinny-weeny drops of antibody are like gold. Every 1ml costs over RM1,000, so imagine the great precaution and attention I have to put in. I am not too sure if I will eventually like doing this stuff but for the next 6 months at least, I will have to bear with it for the sake of my degree. Come to think of it, it has been really fast now that I have only 6 months left before I finish! Can still vividly remember the days when I was still bumming around at home in December, as if it was only weeks ago.

San San, YkK, Ai Ling and Zen will be doing their last week of work in IMU from tommorow. After Friday they will no longer have any business with IMU, nor will we be seeing them anymore till they fly off in August. That's presumably we bother to see them off in the airport. Guess the lab and postgrad room will be quieter without them...

Elena and I are planning to visit Grace in Kuching sometime end of July, earliest after Elena's 21st birthday on the 26th. It will be the last chance we will ever have to visit her, before she leaves for UK on 20th of August. When she comes back for holidays next year we would have already been reunited with good ol' Phang in Queensland. So yeah, better work hard and finish more plates before I request for leave from Dr. Vishna.

Who do you think will win the World Cup? In any case, I want France to go die and go hell for playing sucky football. Spain will thrash those blue idiots!!! Hrmph.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

B1-9-6 Jinx

Amidst smoke billowing from Marlboro Lights cigarettes and the alcohol stench from Heineken beer, Richard has once again proved useless in 4 kaki mahjong. Round after round, sigh after sigh, tile after tile, he just has NO luck in this game PARTICULARLY when he is in the House of Vice. Is it the people's aura surrounding him that is just too suppressing of his luck, or the very house that seems so incompatible with him? In any case, having had so many bad and nightmarish experiences losing to other people on at least 9 out of 10 games, it is fair to accept that Richard has officially decided to QUIT playing mahjong in B1-9-6. He may team up with his luckier girlfriend in future in 3 player games but certainly not going solo. Unless he is feeling considerably charitable on a particular day.

"You cannot bang the tiles so hard wan. Just like women, you cannot bang them so hard. Must soft soft only can!" - Adrian Lim.

Speak to the hand, Adrian.

***

I can't say the same when it comes to World Cup betting. So far so good, I have won all of the 6 matches that I have betted on. My winnings now is enough to cover all my mahjong losses in the past and I am certain there will be more winnings to come. Yeah baby, South Korea and France is gonna win tonight!!!

Supper for late nights - RM 15
Beer - RM 7.90
Mahjong losses - RM 10
Loss of sleep - considerable
Cheering with friends when our team scores - PRICELESS

I love the World Cup life!!!

*** I will respond to Zennie's tag in a while. Too occupied with the World Cup...

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Richard's Guide To Enhancing the World Cup Experience

This will be of some help to those facing one or more of the scenarios below:

1) You never understood the fun in 22 mad people chasing after a ball, but now you feel compelled to like it in order not to be neglected by all your other football crazy friends;

2) Your girlfriend loves football for the cute players but you hate it. Your close friends call you a geek and they have your girlfriend over at their place but not you;

3) You like football, but only when your favourite team/country plays. All other matches are a bore and you really hope to find some motivation to watch these to keep your World Cup spirit high;

4) You are waiting too hard and too long for Chinese New Year to come so that you can meet up with your uncles to play blackjack because you may still be underaged to go see Uncle Lim;

5) You are in need for some quick cash but how you wish they come while you are fast asleep at night.

The solution to any of the above mentioned scenarios is............

PASSIVE INVESTMENT.

Yes my friends. I am no Warren Buffett or Donald Trump, but the way to enhance/rescue/change your World Cup experience is by betting. Of course there is a possibility of losing all your hard earned pocket money, but hey, what's wrong with placing small amounts of bets so as to find renewed interest and excitement in World Cup football?

Trust me, when YOUR money is on the line, you will really show much interest in the teams you are betting on and not to mention the fact you will be probably even more a football maniac than your other friends. Every mistake made by the lousy defence will warrant a F*** word from you, cos you could be losing your bet! Or a 30 yard free kick converted into a goal could make you yell for joy and kiss your TV set! This is what I call as really being a part of the world's greatest sporting event. Without further ado, allow me to share some of the commonly used betting Methods...

The easiest way is the "ball" method.

For example, England vs. Malaysia (World Cup 2060). Duh, it's obvious England is a much stronger team than Malaysia thus it will seem that there isn't much logical motivation for a person to bet on Malaysia to win, unless you are Malaysia's coach or Prime Minister. So in order to level the playing field, a handicap is given to the weaker team. The handicap is in the form of giving balls, and the number of balls given is based on the ability and current status quo of the particular team. This is how it works. Say for example those who take Malaysia is given a 2 ball handicap, it means that even before the match starts Malaysia would already have a 2 goal lead over England. For the England taker, he has to hope England scores 2 goals to draw, or at least 3 goals to win the bet. For more balanced teams, eg. Argentina vs. Italy, there may not be anybody who is willing to give handicaps or at the most some may give half ball. In that case, a draw means the person who has the half ball advantage wins the bet. Basically, you literally add the handicap to the final score and the higher number wins the bet la. But beware that it doesn't mean taking the weaker teams and always taking handicaps is always a good thing. You have to know when to take and when to give balls. This all comes through experience.

For the more advanced betters, they may opt for the bookie methods, ie. betting using odds. It's more complicated for sure, but the profits can be big. Here is as example of how it looks like:

England vs. Paraguay.
3/4 handicap to Paraguay.
Odds for England to win: 1.8
Odds for Paraguay to win: 2.1

The smaller the figure of the odds, the better is the team's performance. It means that, say if you bet on England for RM 1, you will be paid RM 1.80 should England win. But if you take Paraguay and they win, you get RM 2.10 for the RM 1 you betted on. So you can see that it seems not much a surprise for England the stronger team to win compared to Paraguay of which you deserve to get paid more in the event they win. Now you have heard of half and 1 ball, how about 3/4 ball? Technically, half and 3/4 ball doesn't seem to have any difference. In a 1-0 match the half or 3/4 ball taker still loses his bet. But this is how it works in bookie world. If England wins Paraguay by 1 goal difference (1-0, 2-1 etc.), the person who betted on England only gets HALF his money multiplied the odds for England to win. If it's a 2 goal difference (2-0, 4-2 etc.), the England taker wins in FULL multiplied the odds. ie.

England beat Paraguay 2-1, I betted RM 40 on England:

My winning is RM 40 X 1.8 (odds) X 0.5 (half money) = RM 36.

England beat Paraguay 5-2:

Winning is RM 40 X 1.8 (odds) = RM 72

If draw, or England loses to Paraguay, I lose RM 40.

If I betted on Paraguay for same amount, and Paraguay wins, or ends up in a draw:

I win RM 40 X 2.1 (odds) = RM 84

If Paraguay loses to England by 1 goal, I lose HALF money, in the way the England taker wins HALF the bet multiplied the odds.

So these are the methods of betting available to you. But a word of caution, bookie betting is ILLEGAL in Malaysia. Betting among friends quietly is er.... ok, I guess. Hope what I have shared will benefit those who read and try what I described. All the best, good luck and enjoy the World Cup!

Judi adalah haram di sisi agama!

Friday, June 09, 2006

World Cup 2006

Yeah man! I lived through the era of World Cup USA '94, France '98, Seoul '02 and now let's put our hands together to welcome the greatest sporting event of our day --- World Cup Germany 2006! So ladies and gentlemen, place your bets!

For a start, let's all hope that GERMANY wins the opening match against Costa Rica and that Ecuador beats Poland ok? And I need more football kaki!

Monday, June 05, 2006

Kangoo's 3 Costly Lessons

After one year of driving my Kangoo and having had 2 accidents (both of which are not my fault), I have learned 3 lessons at a very high price. So to all of my readers who drive any vehicle, here are some stuff worth noting:

Lesson #1: Be sure to include ALL drivers' names in the insurance cover note.

That is, say if there are 3 people in a family that have driving licenses, include all their names when you are applying for or renewing ALL your motor insurances EVEN IF any particular vehicle may be solely monopolised by one person. Every insurance company allows up to two names/drivers free, and an additional driver's name will only cost you RM 10 for one year.

What if you don't think you wanna spend that extra RM10?

Should you happen to out-of-the-blues decide to use your dad's big car for the very first time for IMU's convocation at KL Hilton, and unfortunately you land up in an accident (regardless of whether you knock people or got knocked) and have to make an insurance claim, you will automatically be fined RM400 as long as your name is not included as an extra driver in the cover note. In my case, my Kangoo is registered in my mother's name only, but I happen to be the only one who drives it. So when I got rammed from behind and couldn't possibly afford to pay 5k in damages on my own, I made a claim from the insurance company and got a 400 bucks fine, non-negotiable.

Lesson #2: Always insure your Windscreens.

Motor insurances don't just insure your vehicles against theft, adverse weather conditions, accidents etc., they also offer insurance for the glass components of your vehicle. You can either choose to insure only the front and rear windscreens (which happen to be the most costly to replace), or insure all round including the door windows for those whose vehicles are prone to vandalism. The extra premium costs RM225 a year for my Kangoo, which insures 6 side windows and the front and rear windscreens. I am not too sure if it is the same price for another vehicle with larger windows such as a Toyota Estima though, but at the end it is really worth it should something happen.

So what if you wanted to save that less than RM20 a month premium to buy pirated VCDs instead?

Should you happen to be unlucky to get a stone to pelt against your windscreen while cruising at 120 km/h to Hospital Seremban early in the morning, and the glass starts cracking into the shape of a 7-legged spider, you will have to end up paying nothing less than 1,000 bucks to get it changed. This is the price for an original Renault tempered front windshield. It could be cheaper for a Kelisa, but no matter what, you will be so thankful you had paid that extra premium if you happen to get your glass cracked for whatever reason. And as you can expect, I did NOT have glass insurance when my front screen cracked in April. So I paid RM1,100 like a duke for the whole thing changed. The glass only costs RM400, but you have to also pay for labour charges, sealants and rubber mountings.

Lesson #3: Insure your glass tints too!

Newer cars these days come with all round glass tints upon delivery as part of a sales package. There are various brands, but by far and large the best brand is still V-Kool. Different brands have different films with varying degrees of UV absorption, hence different prices too. Apparently, they charge you according to the number of windows to be tinted, NOT based on surface area of glass. So don't be surprise if the price to tint a small passenger door window costs the same as tinting the front windscreen. Another rule is that, tinting a single glass piece costs more than doing a few together. So when you get your front windscreen cracked, and you decide to get it tinted after replacing the glass for RM1,100, you end up paying RM450 just for it. By the way, tinting 8 pieces of glass for my Kangoo only costs RM2,2oo. So you get the idea.

The extra cost? Only RM 75 a year. Of course you could always do without it by bearing with the hot sun that beats into your car every afternoon while driving and to have a less cool interior after parking it under the hot sun for hours.

Having spent so much due to ignorance, Richard is much smarter now. I added my dad's and my name to the insurance, insured my glasses and glass tintings too! My Kangoo is a happy car. No need scared go out now.

OOoooooooo Kangoo!

Saturday, June 03, 2006

So much for my favourite game...

Mahjong that is. Apart from other board games such as Monopoly, Scrabble and Risk, I love playing mahjong as much as (if not more than) the board games. Mahjong is an old traditional Chinese gambling game which is well loved by the young and old alike. It is not only a favourite past time game during Chinese New Year, but it is a game that promotes fellowship, family ties and more importantly has the ability to sharpen minds. Ever since I started doing BMed at IMU, I have been playing/gambling mahjong so very often that I wonder if tomorrow God came to Earth will I be sent to hell for gambling when I should be studying. But perhaps He is sending me a message that I should put a stop to it. I have been losing too much too often...

At the beginning of the year I used to frequent the House of Vice (Daniel, Adrian and Linda's place) for my fix of mahjong. We would play for hours and hours, while hearing gossips and watching American Idol in the mean time. All was well at the beginning, but as we played more and more I realised I have been losing more and more frequently in bigger amounts. Then after a while what I did was to set so-called cooling off periods to probably recover from my losses. So after losing 30 bucks on one Thursday I quit it for the next 3 weeks before I tried my luck again. Having lost another 15 bucks after the 3 weeks, I totally vowed to quit mahjong which was becoming too expensive for me. But although I had decided to quit playing with my other BMed friends, Elena's dad is a big fan of mahjong and time after time he would try to get me to have a game with him and Elena. So there was this time in Melaka when we all went for a weekend break that we gambled till 3am, and the results were the same. I lost a coool 30 bucks to father and daughter. Nothing I really could do to avoid that.

Then came yesterday, a Friday when I would fetch Elena back to her house as usual. And just after dinner when I was about to say goodbye and leave, her father suggested that since today is a holiday so why not I stay over and play mahjong. Still reeling from past experiences and being so phobic, I still obliged considering he is always so enthusiastic when it comes to this. So we played round after round, and after the first 10 rounds I was winning so much that I began to feel shy to keep beating them. And just when I decided to give them some leeway, I started losing non-stop and by 6am in the morning, I had lost 15 bucks to Elena, again. So the conclusion is: I just have no luck playing mahjong and I ought to quit it lest I lose all my cash...

But one consolation I have is exactly what Adrian once said: "Gambling with your future in-laws is not about winning; it's about investing in your future and basically, you won't want to keep winning to make them lose face right?"

So I guess I am doing pretty well then. Sigh...

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Don't Mess with Us

I have seen, heard and experienced many incidents where SOME of the post-graduate students in IMU's little research community show utter disrespect for the BMed students. This has happened not only to me, but also to my other colleagues.

I admit that we are juniors as far as research is concerned. BMed students from my batch have at most spent 6 months so far compared to other Masters/PhD students who have spent even longer here in IMU's research labs, not to mention their stints at their previous universities. But look here buster, as far as being in IMU is concerned, I dare say we have spent a longer time in IMU and have done more for IMU in our past 3 years here. Cos' hey, guess what? IMU only started offering degrees for Masters of science and PhD in 2004.

We ought to be treated with some respect over here and don't just think just because you are a science bachelors or masters degree holder you can treat us like idiots. If it's our fault creating a ruckus in the postgrad room owing to the larger number of BMed students, we apologise and say sorry. If due to our inexperience we screw up some stuff or dirty your place, teach us how to do it the right way and again we apologise. But please treat us with some respect and tact. If you think you are more senior to us in chronological terms in IMU, or that you may be smarter than us, just speak to the hand alright. We will be an upstart if you behave as one to us.

I will not want to quote names or describe incidents here but if you are one and if you are reading my blog now, stop messing with us and treating us like small kids.