Sunday, December 19, 2010


I was attending the Old Edwardians dinner last night and a school junior asked, what I did for a living. I stuttered for a while, as I rummaged through my mind, to find a specific name for the work that I do. My work stretches a wide spectrum, from business transformation, to analysis, to regulatory advice and tax to feasibility studies. I was uncertain of which category of work to say, so I said "I am an Analyst". "Oh" he said, and that was that. I could have explained it more, but mildly resisted the attempt.  I did not regret not bringing my business card. There was no need to distribute business cards. I could have said Special Projects but I chose Analyst. It is an endearing term to me, for what describes me more than anything else. Analysis has always been my passion although I have reached a level where I can do everything excepting the sales part.

I could have brought my camera to the school reunion, but I did not. The "so what?" thingy was in my head. I was looking for aesthetics in images. I would not be able to find any in people consciously posing for the camera. Regardless, cameras are aplenty nowadays and so there were many flashes from many cameras.


Thursday, December 9, 2010

Photography Books

The continued global growth of the consumer market in digital cameras has brought with it the proliferation of books on photography. The growing consumer market on digital cameras has ensured the continuance of wide readership on photography. In KL, Kinokuniya has the largest stock of books on this topic. Before the advent of digital photography, books of this nature normally number about 10 on any book store. Now, there are simply rows of shelves with books on lighting, exposure, composition, wedding, HDR and portraiture.

However, at one time, I too was an avid reader of books and magazines on photography. Now, I have realised much to my disappointment from the loss of funds from buying useless books, that not all books and magazines on photography are educational. Some are merely composed of good images on pages, with scant instructions on how to achieve those images. Basically most people have been conned, especially for those who are new at photography and want to learn more to achieve with their cameras. The techniques are not comprehensive. Most books provide the same topics but in different words on the sectors of landscape, still photography, portraits and weddings. How the image is achieved is not thoroughly explained. There should be a catalogue on photography books to rank the books and magazines in order of effectiveness. It will certainly assist the potential buyers on what to look out for and what not to buy. In the cinematic film industry, there are the A grade movies and there are the B grade movies. Photography books are also like these. Somehow, grading needs to be done. 

Be that as it may, the time to learn has to end for the photographer to evolve on his own. The school has to close. Graduation must happen and all that is left, should just be the photographer and his camera.   

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Kodak Hawkeye Flashfun

Last weekend, I was in Taiping to meet up with my parents and also to leave my two boys there with their cousin. It is a first time for them to stay there for the next two weeks and that would give them time to connect with my parents and learn a thing or two about living life.

While there, I leafed through the photo albums at my parents' house in Taiping especially the ones in black and white. I could learn a thing or two about composition from my father, who was a prolific photographer in his younger days. I found this picture, of a young boy, hair plastered to his head from the Tancho haircream, black plastic-framed spectacles hiding out most of his eyes and he was wearing a short-sleeved shirt with some designs of musical instruments, short pants from which spindly legs came out and he wore ankle-high moccasins and white socks. His left hand held a plastic strap and the strap went down low, almost touching the ground and at the end of it, was a plastic camera. Behind him, was the old Subang Airport. That camera had some blue colour to it while the rest was in black. I could remember the colours from the memory that was initiated from looking at the picture. That was me, in 1971. The pictures I took of the airport were blurry then, from the inadequacy of the plastic and fixed focus lens and the limited ISO capability. That was my first camera. To advance to the next film frame, one would have to crank a ribbed wheel at the top of the camera until it could not turn anymore.

I had thought that I was 14 when I got my first camera but actually, that Kodak camera was my second. This was the first and I was 11 years old then. The Kodak camera gave sharper pictures. As a Scout, I used to go camping and I would bring the Kodak to take pictures of my colleagues at the campsite. This Kodak was a plastic boxy gadget which was narrow at the base and high at the height. It would be like the modern camera but vertical with the viewfinder in the side middle. The bottom half of it was in light brown to pink while the top half was in silver. The top half had the place for the putting in the flash bulb. The camera ran on batteries and the trigger was placed at the side and one had to use the index finger to push it down so that the picture can be taken. I ran through this Kodak Collector's website and managed to know that it was a Hawkeye Flashfun which was manufactured between 1961 to 1967. Kudos to the Kodak collector for the information!

It is amazing that the pictures, though in black and white can initiate the remembrance of memories in colour. And for a while, I could remember that day, the sounds and colours. I don't remember where the camera went but there was a long period between leaving school to enter university until 1985 when I revived the hobby again.

Sunday, December 5, 2010


Permanently Enslaved Mentality And Nurtured Debilitating Unrest. PEMANDU. No, I am just squibbling. There is no meaning to it. Is that the right word? Maybe. MYR 36 million to the consultants. Justified, of course it is. Anybody can just about justify anything nowadays. Of course, I am thinking it from my own perspective. My career has provided me with working with consultants. At one time, there was the same consultant who advised that we should not invest outside of the Asia Pacific but to limit our investment strategies to only the countries within the region. Somehow, no one questioned the consultant on the time frame. Recommendations are provided based on current facts and future expectations based on current facts. Circumstances do change. What is a recommendation now, is simpLy pure idiocy in the next two years. As expected, there was no time frame provided and the gullible management accepted it. However, one sees every other operator investing every where else. By limiting ourselves to a small room, we have unwittingly enslaved our mentalities within a limited scope of business expansion. The consultant did not give a time frame nor was it ever asked to justify with research facts on how this should be so. All I have seen are powerpoint presentations. Anyone can put words on a powerpoint slide and speak with much confidence in the presentation. I have seen mistakes and lies and I have seen gullible people accepting lies and mistakes as gospel truths.

In the past we had never depended on consultants. We managed fine and with better performance. Having a consultant is like having to pay someone to nail the coffin shut with you inside. I am weary of consultants with the powerpoint slides and with nothing else to show.

Now, there is some unrest. "We need to have Mergers & Acquisitions!" Somebody said vociferously, from the unrest of seeing no additional profitability other than pathetically surviving on organic growth. Another person came and said the same thing and with the same fervour. "We need to have Mergers and Acquisitions!" And it felt like it was sang in the same fervour as witch hunting. True enough, somebody came to me for advice on M&A. So I said, "M&A is just the vehicle, an engine for the achievement of a strategic objective. So what is your strategic objective?". Of course, that query could not be answered. There was never any real strategy for the past four years and the person responsible for it is now in PEMANDU. It worries me, no doubt. If a football player from a small village is so bad at football, how is it that he can be appointed to play football for the country? It worries me. Mind you, I am not referring to Idris Jala.


Sighing is the action of whispering a sadness or discontentment through the heaving of an out breath through the nose and mouth. That would be the closest I can describe a sigh. I sighed when I saw that the Stationmaster's Office at the Taiping Railway yard was no longer there, demolished to oblivion for the sake of modernisation. I sighed because there could have been alternative actions to accommodate the historical relic, the legacy of the train service in the early years. It brings home to mind that, what is left of Taiping is its Lake Garden. Certainly the shady trees lining the Station Road have all but gone, decapitated to mere buttresses. Certainly, the old buildings have been left to rot. The Stationmaster's Office could have been relocated. I hope that this had been done. At least, I have the photographs of the office taken over the years. Perhaps, I am just about the only person to have it.

It brings home to mind, the understanding of tourism. Are we on the same page as tourists? When I go to a certain place, I would like to know how that place came to be through its history and through the legacy left behind through historical artifacts. I don't come to a place to admire a hotel or to have fine dining. I come to a place to have a feel of what was before and what it has become. Certainly, the Taiping Town Council has a warped sense of comprehension. I am sure these people have gone to Universities and graduated and were capable of having some sense of reasoning, however peanut-sized the capability is. Are all these bureaucrats apathetic? I should think so. No, I would like to think so, because I cannot find a logical reason to explain the apparent absurdity. I sigh because I had hoped that  the right people should be in the right places of authority but it is not happening. I wish for a better government with the right people. I am still waiting, though. Nothing much has changed. I need to sigh again. Sigh.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Twits and twats

A friend of mine, was deeply engrossed in twittering. Every now and then, his Blackberry tinkled and in response, he would look, smile and thumb into the BB. He was not alone. My wife does that too. But for this friend of mine, I asked what the purpose was, this twittering. He replied, that it was about being known, being part of something, being knowledgable on happenings as they occur within his group of twitters. It was also the same for Facebook, he said. Basically, it gets down to letting known, in words, what you are thinking of, I thought. But thoughts as they are, are also volatile, and subject to change with changing circumstances. Thoughts put into words, become obsolete but remain, thus as words which could define what a person is supposed to be, although the circusmstances have changed. Real-time texting also requires real-time reassessment, when the need arises. Real time insults bring on real time reactions. But of course, twittering is about inconsequential matters or issues. Or is it? I don't know. I don't twitter but I facebook occasionally. I would rather be invisible to the world and pander to my own thoughts. Noise. If everyone has nothing else but radios, then we will hear the chatter of radios. It gets into the mind. Twittering is to me, also like radios. The twitter is engaged in noise, of responding to trivialities on a per minute basis. So what exactly is left for the mind to ponder if it keeps on twittering? Can business decisions be made from twittering? Can a fundamental decision be made from twittering? I don't know. I am not a twitter. But it is noise in some way. It intrudes into person to person engagements. It would be like to talking to someone in a room and every other minute, the person you are talking to, keeps opening the door. Though I don't twitter, I am also affected. My thought patterns in conversations encounter road bumps every now and then. Talking no longer becomes enjoyable with a twittering friend. So what is left for me to do would be to find non-twittering friends to enjoy conversations with. I am sure that, at the end of the day, I will get the significant news from the news channel anyway. I would prefer to be anonymous to the BB world. This world is already noisy as it is. It comes to mind, though. Should there be a gender classification of the twitter? If I can call a male twitter a twit, can I call a female twitter, a twat? So, now we should have twits and twats bringing more noise to the world. Before you jump, "twat" means travelling wave amplifier tube. It does describe the woman. Really.