Tuesday, March 31, 2009


Foremost, do forgive that Aje fella for putting up nothing but pictures he's taken recently. He is, after all, going through a photography craze (kemaruk!). Well, admittedly, he's not talented at all, the poor bloke. But, it does seem to keep him happy.

When I lost the pictures folder yesterday, I thought that was it. Then, I remember having a nephew who is quite an IT wizard (in the making) and asked for his advice. The solution he gave? It was so simple and it made me feel like a fool: All I needed to do was download 'PC Inspector Recovery' from the Net, he said. And with that, I managed to extract quite a number of those pictures with several displayed here, and at Pictures-Only.

Soon after that, and heeding MS's advice, I decided to learn using Picasa and found it truly an amazing software. Its not just that it is able to enhance the images (which I am not too keen about), but it helps to suppress the file size, making uploading of images a breeze. And as for the images I've uploaded today, I admit to using 'sharpen'. 'soften', and 'contrast adjuster', without touching on the other tools available there. Even that, I found the colours, especially for the series of Kingfisher shots, somewhat too rich for my liking. The 2 pictures of the Magpie below, however, seem to pale in comparison.

The Kingfisher (below), was the subject of my stalk for several hours, after having spotted only its blue-colour tail flying into the darkness of the tress of the forest there. After waiting quite a bit and was about to hightail out of the place, a movement caught the corner of my eye and instinctly knew it was the bugger. Alhamdulillah, it was as though I was being rewarded for the patience and managed a series of shots. But he does look kind of odd here, with the head and lower body in brown, and the chest in white.

MS told me of a story of a Singaporean who patiently stalked a bird every weekend for a whole year. Travelling all the way to a point in the Muar River, the man was rewarded for his dilligence, and patience, with the 1st prize in a Sony Nature Shot Competition Worldwide. Well, I do not think I can ever come close to the quality the guy managed, but I can understand and appreciate what he went through. Perhaps, when I gain more knowledge and experience, the reward, will be the picture itself, as I believe it was with that Singaporean. And who knows, the trip to Desaru tomorrow, might just give me more exposures. InsyAllah.

Update 1.09am / 010409: The Desaru trip has been postponed to Thursday morning, leaving me either the morning or afternoon free to snap more pictures at the lake. Boy, I really am 'kemaruk'!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Down...But Not Our For The Count

Don't know how it hit me. Perhaps, moving around in the bushes of the forest surrounding the lake, a female mosquito or two, thought I was bringing their saviour and sucked up my precious blood. To them, its a case of life or death. To me, it was a case of lowering my blood pressure. Literally! Well, the LBP, that is, as the doctor said to me when I went to the clinic for the fever that somehow is still lingering. Now, whether its the rain that has been falling incessantly every afternoon, or the mosquito bites that got to me, I have no idea as yet. But one thing for certain, they left me in a state of 'kemaruk'.

Except for meal times, I have been sleeping the fever off the whole of last Saturday and Sunday. And during the meal times, I have been eating a whole lot more than my normal diet! Even today, I'm still feeling sleepy all day long and have been eating more than I should. Talking of which, I have, for the past 3 days, been craving for a good 'ayam kampung', but the nearest around is in Ulu Subang Jaya, which the restaurant in my opinion serves the best 'Ayam Kampung' around. But since I am in no condition to even drive, it will have to wait till tomorrow or the day after. Well, the wait will perhaps serve to whet my appetite better when I do 'tapau' the food there. And though that may very well be, I'm afraid MB, my friend, will have to wait for another photo-shoot session before I can meet his expectations. Simple reasons being, while fidgetting around with Picassa, I accidentally deleted the entire folder containing the pictures taken using the Canon. Woe me. But, that ought not be a big problem.

The other night when I was with our bro MS - back on a short break - he was teaching me about the big picture in photography. Sheesh! And here I was, taking up a long lost interest (30 odd years long), and finding it a totally different picture than when I learnt and thought than. And the only real reason for doing so, was my frustration at not being able to take close-ups of pictures at events which I had covered, either with LKKPP or webtv8. Thus, when MB commented using 'artistic outlet', believe me, that came quite as a shocker and realisation as well, as all I wanted to do initially was take pictures especially at events. But no sooner after that, I found the interest to take pictures of the natural world, without any thought about them being 'artistic' at all. Guess, I now have to refocus my thoughts accordingly. As MS mentioned, I now have to think objetively. Points, well taken. Thank you MB and MS, for you honest opinions.

Now, as for my putting up the pictures in my blogs, it was also initially meant for the events. After covering many events without still cameras at hand, it was getting bloody frustrating. And when there was - my brother's Olympus compact camera - it was not sufficient. Then my itchy fingers put up pictures captured by the Canon, only to find I was sorely missing certain things - the skills needed! That, is a big 'Boyo!' Oh well...that's Aje for you.

Don't matter, a fighter never quits...they just get knocked out! Hehe...nah. InsyAllah, I intend to pursue this. InsyAllah, I will be better. And when I do, year from now, I can look back at these earlier pictures and laugh out loud. By the way, as it is, I am beginning to. Especially with the picture of the Toman. No, not because its well taken, but I found out that many regular visitors to the lake have never been able to even glimpse at it.

With the folder gone, I may down but certainly far from out.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Wild Shots

During my last photo-shoot session at the Taman Rimba of Kota Damansara, I met a gentleman who was cleaning his fishing net at the car park. It may have been a ridiculous idea to think that the man had been netting fish in the lake of the Park, but nonetheless, I did throw the question to him to which he politely deny. Apparently an avid angler (and trawler), he travels quite a lot to rivers and lakes of Selangor and beyond. Then, it was his turn to ask of my presence, noting the camera I was totting. And soon, he was telling me about places which I should go to for better shots of nature, especially birds, such as Tanjung Sepat, Batu Arang, FRIM, Templer's Park, Selangor State Forest Reserve, Batu Dam and quite a number others which I am tempted to go. But for now, till Emak's condition improve to normal, I have to restrict my shots to just within Kota Damansara. Hearing this, he pointed out a section of KD which I was never made aware of; a small natural lake where many more birds and some wildlife still exist. I immediately made my way there, putting on hold my intention of trying to shoot a beautiful Kingfisher I had noticed on previous visits but was too far to capture on film, as well as the thoughts of shooting birds (swifts) skimming the waters of the lake at Taman Rimba. And I was glad I did.

On my first visit, I managed to venture into the interior of the forest surrounding this nameless lake accompanied by several schoolboys whom I met there and who kindly led the way.

I was stunned by the simple beauty of the lake and the natural world there. For the 3 odd years I have been here, I never thought that such a place could exist just on the fringe of a city, and took quite a number of shots as seen in this entry (more are being compiled for later). However today, when I tried to get more shots, the weather was not too permitting.

At past noon, the area was still shrouded with mist due to the long morning downpour. Still, not to be outdone, I waited and was suitably rewarded but not with the picture below.

Looking at the colour of its plumage as well as the long tail, I would swear the bird is a Macaw. But as evident from the shot, it was too far away to make a distinct identification. Off course, not having the much needed telephoto lens which can cost RM7,000, does not help either. This picture of the Macaw is grainy as it had be enlarged several times, unfortunately.

As the Sun was not at its best, I had to adjust the camera setting accordingly resulting in some overexposed shots such as the one of the Toman fish above. This is no fisherman's tale, but the the Toman could have been about twice my arm's length!

And off course, like in many forest, monkeys or apes are bound to be seen such as the baboon above. Perched more like a bird, this baboon looked menacing enough in real life. Much unlike the one below.
If truly the hobby of Sport Fishing and Photography has lots of similarities, then it must be the thrill of the catch (shot) that come one's way after a long wait that top the list. Patience, indeed, has its rewards.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Saddle-sore Aje

Growing up watching and reading lots of western, one of the things which puzzled me was the term 'saddle-sore', used by the characters in reference to a hard and long ride on a horse. For one whom had his first (and only) horse ride at the age of 27, it was kind of hard to imagine anyone getting sore sitting on a horse. That is, off course, till yesterday.

Its been about 32years now since I stepped on the shores of Desaru, Johor. Then, as a young teenager, the family like many, were on vacation during one of the school holidays. Not much I can remember about it now except for a few things and sceneries such as a WWII bunker that stood like a lone sentinel guarding a beach there. Logic may point out that it may have been built by the British as one of the means to fend off the Japanese expected invasion from the sea. But if I remember it well, someone mentioned it belonged to latter. And I had thought of visiting it again just to take pictures and make some notes. Sadly, it will have to wait till another time, perhaps in May or June of this year.

As it was a quick dash down south(10hours driving to and back, with about an hour only on the beach of Tanjung Balau), where Emi has a small landscaping project going on there, the only thing I could do was walk on the beach in vain hope of taking some nice pictures; it is not Tanjung Balau is not scenic, but that novice photographer in Aje still have lots to learn. Timing, for instance, may account quite a bit for a beautiful photograph, such as those recently taken by Pak Idrus in one his recent postings.

Tanjung Balau may have once been a laidback fisherman's village with the tropical jungle (and perhaps swamps) bordering its interiors. Then, it could have looked like many of the coastal villages of the Johor waters. But now, the village is nowhere to be seen. Well, at least, not from where I was. Instead, in the middle of an open ground just beside the beach, stand a RM5.9 million Fisherman's Museum. Had I not been told of the Museum, I would have thought it was just another government office complex. Another thing I was informed about the museum, it receives very few visitors to justify its presence. Apart from the locals, the only human presence are of the nearby Felda settlers, and Singaporeans on holidays. Malaysian tourists, it seems, only come trickling few as the beach is quite way out, a local informed Aje. A surprising thing, however, is the presence of lifeguards here then.

When I first saw it from afar, I had thought it was a small lighthouse and did not think much about it. But when as had to park quite near the building, I was slightly amused to find that 'Baywatch', is alive and well in Malaysia (minus the babes). In fact, later, when I was walking on the beach, the personnel there sounded their siren to warn some other visitors from straying too far seaward.
Well, the trip though short, was quite worth it for me. As mentioned earlier, perhaps in May or June, I may bring my Emak and her sister, Makcik Yam, down to Desaru for a short break. This trip, may have been a recce of sorts for it then. If it does happen, insyAllah, it will certainly be more than the 2nights my Emak had planned for. Travelling with the elderly, one has to take into consideration of their body aches on long drives. Talking of which...

Driving a 4WD for the first time in my life, I found it quite enjoyable as the drive was made easy when compared to a normal car. However, I do have one small gripe about 4WD: the manufacturers, ought to put more comfortable seats especially for the driver. Even before reaching back home, my rear was feeling kind of sore.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Tis The Season....Again!

Yup! The new season has started already, and several houses in the neighbourhood have put up their tents and what not. Soon, the crowd will arrive, and the music begins. And the tale of a near frightful affair for cakapaje.

I thought I had landed myself in deep shit. No kidding! It all began when the family of an elderly lady called and said that a ring has been bought for me. I however, did not give it much thought till about 2 weeks later, when the family came for a 2night stay. Living in Alor Setaq, the family's visit was actually to welcome home the elderly lady from Haj. Then it hit me like "Oh oh! This is something serious!".

Anyway, when the family arrived, I was not in, coming back only late at night. When I walked into the house, the elderly lady and the family was about to retire for the night but delayed it on my accounts. And soon, we were happily talking away. That is, until I was shown the ring.
Nothing special, they said, as it was a token of affection. It does not matter to me actually, as I was never a 'ring' kind of guy. And just about then, the parents told me about her, their daughter.

She, the parents said, can be quite an animal (not literally, mind you), and do not take easily to strangers. I just kept on smiling but my mind went like "oh oh! Where are we going from here?"
As though they read my mind, the elderly lady put it to me softly.

It seems, the parents will have to be away for a short spell and would like me to look after their daughter. In my mind, I yelled immediately "A Tigress Snare!". I mean, one don't just place their daughter under someone's care unless its for...marriage? But off course, being the polite host, I just smiled and nodded. I then asked to see the daughter, in line with custom of the society. Unfortunately, the daughter was already asleep in the bedroom upstairs. Thus, I reluctantly agreed to wait till morning.

Early next morning, the moment I had anxiously waited for arrived. Even before she was brought down, I had already smelt her smelling like roses. Well, like shampoo and soap mixed together actually. But then, with a lady, one is not supposed to say that, should one?

Anyway, soon, there we were, face to face. Initially, she was rather shy and kept turning away from me. But after some sweet words, she took to me like, well, a tigress! "Don't take kindly to strangers, huh?" my mind went as I recall the parents words. And like a tigress, she soon helped herself, marking me her scent onto me with her drool! I was, like almost wet at the shoulders! Like any man with a conscience, my heart soon melt and I gave in to her.
Cute little things, isn't she? And on the right of the picture below, is the elderly - my Emak's younger sister.

The ring, it seems, does not fit.

Feeling Like A Fool

I'm beginning to feel like the village fool, I am. Not for any reason, but it suddenly dawned on me that its a rather stupid thing to be putting up the pictures I've been taking. Its like, I'm the only one who knows how to take a pretty picture or two. That, and the fact that its as though cameras are a real novelty when almost any Tom would have one. Some, even have two! And that does not include those expensive accessories they tot around with them, making Aje look like a bigger fool. But sigh...if I can't be Someone's fool (that is with a capital 'S', mind you), than at least I can be the camera's. And when you think about those fools who were fooling around with the people's money somewhere in Shah Alam, I'm not so bad after all.

I read somewhere but can't be sure where (now I'm not only a fool, but senile as well!), one of the Chief Executive Officers of a water supply company earns something like RM400,000 plus per month. I mean, that's like wow!

Had not the PR Selangor State Government's initiative to bring back the water supply under its control, the people could have been fooled further as there were plans (prior to March 2008) to increase the water tariff in the state, citing rising expenditure cost. Huh? OK, perhaps the CEO and the management team is asking for more perks which by the way, the monthly pay quoted above is not inclusive of any (perks). Its good that PR won. Otherwise, the CEO and his company, instead of providing service to the people of Selangor, were leeching them dry. Literally! Hmm...talking about leeching.

2 days ago, I went for a traditional medicine treatment in Taman Tun Dr Ismail. The treatment, quite similar to leeching (for medical purposes), and can be found within the annals of Islamic history. In trying to find a hadith for this, I instead found this blog here which some may find useful for them. This one and only entry in the blog, is dated May 2008, and it may be wiser for one to call the number there if one is interested.

Anyway, in wanting to rid of a childhood problem that has persisted, I was recommended to this 'AKUBEKAM' here. Nice set-up they have there, but I think I may need to go to another of their centre as I am not too comfortable with one of their consultants.

Now, I have had 2 'bekam' (blood letting or cupping) treatments before. One, was by a Chinese medicine man in Malacca but who has since migrated to Germany. The other, was by an elderly Malay gentleman in Ampang who was reputed to have been a Jungle Scout for our Army Commando units. And now with this latest, I found out that each have their own techniques as well as apparatus to treat patients. The recent treatment, despite the consultant mentioned, was far more pleasant than the previous two. And though I am feeling much better now, it was not so soon after the treatment.

After having drained a fair amount of blood from my body, I found myself woozy and soon as I got back home, took a nap. But upon waking up, I suddenly found I had a ravishing appetite that had me consuming more than double than my daily diet. Now that, is another thing which may prevent me from going for a follow-up treatment, as close friends may testify, for my physique, I really do not eat much at all! Unless, off course, the food is too good to be left alone by itself. But I guess, that pretty much is the same for almost everyone.

Back to the 'bekam', I am, trying my level best, to convince my Emak to follow suit to treat her rashes as well as her high blood pressure which of late, seem to affect her more often than before. Think I may have succeeded as she has agreed to go sometime next week. But knowing her, she may just pull out at the last minute. Sigh.

Lastly, as befitting the title of this entry, I do hope the song below bring smiles to listeners. Which reminds me, I do find the need to visit Pok Ku, and to listen to his collection of Eva Cassidy, a recording artiste I have been fortunate to listen to with courtesy of Pok Ku himself, off course.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

A Walk In The Park

I promised myself not to touch on political matter in this blog, and as best I can, I will live up to it. However, certain things need to be mentioned, but mentioned as a passing statement only.

Hidden in a corner of Kota Damansara, lies a park that may grow into a gem of a large garden, but only if the authorities concerned look well after it, and not let themselves be distracted with any financial gain this parcel of land may be offered for in the future. Though named 'Taman Rimba (something)', the 'rimba' part is slowly fading away already.

Surrounded by hills filled with natural flora and fauna (it was until mid 2007, a forest reserve), its beauty is now being marred with bungalow lots, of which some are of extravagant size. The job of contructing several of these bungalows within the area, has caused some damages already to the stream that flows down one of the hills and into a small lake.

Perhaps once pristine clear, the lake, was once a stopover for migratory birds which include, I was told, a stock of pink-coloured heron. Ever since clearing of the area began some years back, the herons have stopped coming. A sad affair, as it could mean that whatever bio diversity the birds brought along with them in their journey to escape the harsh winter of their origin, has now been put to a stop. The water in the lake is muddy brown and even have hints of rusty-red colour in it, a probable sign of metal poisoning. And this, in an area that was once designated as one of the few remaining water-catchment areas in Selangor, as I was informed by several people there.

Stepping into the park for the very first time, I naturally felt excited for the possibilities of shots to experiment with and gain some experience. But the park, being young, offers little chance for it. Or perhaps, I need much to learn. Apart from a small playground in a corner of the park, the only other sights that really catches the eye the brownish water of the stream, and a bungalow on the top of the small hill of the park itself. From there however, the view must be astounding.

Walking rather aimlessly in search of angles for my shots, I came to realise that except for the occasional shouts and cry of a child (perhaps in the playground), I was about the only human around. And apart from some beautifully coloured birds and swifts, the whole park is empty.

The moment when solitude sank in, had me thinking: Are parks not meant to provide a break from routine life for people and hence, increase their quality of life? Perhaps though, it was the timing of my venture. Later on the way out, I spoke to the security personnel, and was told that the park is normally visited in the late afternoon. If so, then there is still a future for life here.

More picture to be uploaded at Pictures-Only.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Searching For My Midnight Sun

Life, is like a box of chocolate.

Whoever it was that said that, must have high sugar count in his blood. I mean, if it is true, then everyone would be overweight and living dangerously with diabetes or some kind of disease that chocolate makers would have to cut down on the sugar and cocoa, just to ensure that well, their steady supply of buyers would live long just to buy chocolates from them. If those chocolate-makers don't cut down on the sugar, soon, everyone of their buyers would be dead leaving the world empty, except for them chocolate-makers alone. Then, like it or not, they'd be force to buy from among themselves. In the end, its those undertakers who would be left standing...and rich. Provided, off course, they don't too much chocolates. So, whoever made that quote, must be a loco who do not know anything about life. Oh, it was that Hanks guy in that "something Gump" film which I did not even bother to see. Honestly, I think its just another remake, and this one was taken from "Being There" which had Peter Sellers starring in it. And no, I did not see that either too. Which I am now reminded, the second part of the opening quote did mention "You'll never what you get".

What am I rambling about? Wish I know. I mean, after nearly a week of not even wanting to come online, I guess I'm just trying to put myself back in gear. It did not help that Emak was not feeling too well with a more than slightly high on her blood pressure, which may have been caused by the goat's milk I bought and insisted she drink some of it. She was down for a couple of days but alhamdulillah, is now much better. But the same cannot be said of her son who twisted his ankle (again). That's right, that cakapaje fella had to nurse his ankle for a couple of days. Poor guy. Especially when one think about it, that less than a kilometer away, there a college full of student nurses, and he just could not get one of them over to practice on him. Life, is certainly not like a box of chocolates.

Soon as took a walk in a park nearby, hoping to get shots there. No sooner he was there, the clouds put a damper on his spirit. That, sort of got him thinking that photography is a hobby quite like angling. For one, both need good weather without which, they'd best stay home and watch a movie or something. Then, both would like to tell tales of their best outing. An angler, for instance, would say something like "You should have seen the one that got away", expanding the the tale of the fish that got away with both his hands stretched wide, where in all probability, the fish was just a minnow several centimeter long only. As for the photographer (has to be a novice like Aje), he would probably try to tell about the most beautiful Kingfisher he ever counted, yet could not snap it as he does not have the proper equipment. Sigh.

There's probably more similarities if one were to look hard enough. But there is however, one marked difference between the two. An angler, normally hates to come home empty handed, and would sometimes stop at a wet market to buy the freshest fish to show off as his catch, something which a photographer is unable to do.

Honestly, sometimes I think its best for me to get a new hobby.