Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Chicken Tikka Masala

As a lover of Indian cuisine, I am delighted that chicken tikka masala (left) has topped the chart of UK’s favorite dish for over a decade. Now it seems that the reign of this particular dish – popular in Indian restaurants – is over. It dropped to fourteenth place in the latest YouGov survey marking the twenty-fifth anniversary of BBC’s ‘Good Food’ show.

The Sunday roast, a traditional British lunch time treat, came out as No. 1 after being voted by 43 percent of Brits as their ultimate comfort food followed by the classic steak and chips at 35 percent. 

Another English tea-time favorite, scones with jam and cream, and apple crumble came in at third and fourth place in the poll. 

Pizza, classic lasagne and spaghetti bolognese were also more popular. And chocolate brownie, strawberry cheesecake and Victoria sponge completed the top 10 list. 

I don’t care if chicken tikka masala is no longer that popular. As far as I am concerned, I shall always be in love with Indian curries! 

Yesterday, I was at Level 6 in Uptown 1 in Damansara Utama to attend the Phoenix Toastmasters meeting which also served as a demo meeting for staffers of Persistent Systems Malaysia Sdn Bhd. 

I was an Evaluator for a Phoenix Toastmaster who delivered her CC speech #4 and I was among a triumvirate of talented DTMs (Distinguished Toastmasters). Toastmasters will surely know that Johnson Yik and Robert Ram are formidable evaluators. And it gave me a measure of some satisfaction that I was voted Best Evaluator. A good meeting overall and my only complaint is the poor time management. 


Movie Posters

I grew up on super-heroes and other comic book characters and I thought it would be a good idea to feature some of my favourite posters – and I picked these twelve:

Monday, September 29, 2014

Catalonia Wants To Follow Scotland

Spain's government have asked the country's constitutional court to declare Catalonia's planned independence referendum illegal. Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said the proposed vote was not "compatible with the Spanish constitution". 

The president of the Spanish region of Catalonia, Artur Mas signed a decree on Saturday calling for a Scottish-style vote on November 09, 2014, but does not have the backing of the central government in Madrid. 

On September 19, Catalonian lawmakers voted by a margin of 106 to 28 in favor of authorizing the referendum, known locally as a "consultation". 

Hundreds of thousands of Catalans held demonstrations in Barcelona demanding their right to vote. Unhappy at Spain's repeated refusal to give Catalans more powers, protesters have been energized by Scotland's independence referendum, and many also waved the Scottish flag. 

The question now will be on how far the Spanish government are prepared to go in order to stop the referendum. 

D'Utama's Hoo Sze Ling took a selfie before she went on stage to deliver her winning speech at the Area D4 Humorous Speech contest. Her speech title was ‘Selfies’.

And she inspired the audience including me to take selfies and these four were my "best" shots on Saturday: 

We were at Menara Gamuda in Jalan PJU 8/8A, Damansara Perdana in Petaling Jaya for the Joint Area D2 & D4 Humorous Speech & Evaluation Contests. 

Like her, I also took part in the Humorous Speech Contest only. I was representing Taman Indrahana Toastmasters Club and my task was to be the Champion for Area D2. And I presented a different speech from the one that I had delivered at the club contest. Thankfully, I won. 

Hobby Horse Polo Looks Like Fun


Image credit: http://www.siampolonews.com/images/picSP09-04henryRourkePoloTour.jpg

Polo is often considered an aristocratic or even a rich man’s sport. It may be so but polo need not be polo as we know it! 

Polo need not be played exclusively on horseback. We can have canoe polo, cycle polo, camel polo, elephant polo, golfcart polo, Segway polo and yak polo. Such polo variants are mostly played for recreational and/or tourist purposes.

Image credit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Segway_polo#mediaviewer/File:Hemer-Landesgartenschau-Segway-Polo.JPG

And then there is the Hobby Horse Polo that involves using hobby horses instead of ponies. It is loosely based on normal polo and it has its own special rules, e.g. 'punitive sherries'. 


Image credit: EPA/Matthias Balk 

The photo above shows participants competing in the Hobby Horse Polo Cup at the Rhine river banks in Duesseldorf, Germany on September 27, 2014. It looks like fun! 

In a Scottish Premiership match on Saturday, a John Guidetti double (42, 63) gave Celtic a hard-fought 2-1 victory over St Mirren. Kenny McLean gave the latter a consolation goal in the forty-ninth minute.  What's important is that Celtic did win.

On the other hand, Liverpool could only produce a 1-1 draw in the EPL game with Everton. Steven Gerrard's superb sixty-fifth minute free-kick was matched by Phil Jagielka's scorching, swerving shot into the top corner from 30 yards in the ninety-first minute. 

The result is again a major disappointment for the Reds because their season continues to be poor. Their summer spending spree is proving to be ineffectual and Brendan Rodgers should stop giving one excuse after the other. He is shameless.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

3,091 Ebola Deaths and Still Rising

AP Photo 

“The family of the sick man, who had endured Ebola’s telltale symptoms for six days, took him by taxi to treatment centers here in (Monrovia), the capital twice, only to be turned back at the gate each time for lack of beds. He died at home, his arms thrashing violently and blood spewing out his mouth, in front of his sons.” 

This story was narrated by a twenty-five year old Liberian named Eric, as a team of body collectors came to retrieve the corpse of his father, Ofori Gweah, 62. 

“The only thing the government can do is come for bodies. They are killing us.” 

It seems that so many Ebola victims are dying at home because of the severe shortage of treatment centers – that they are infecting family members, neighbors and others in a ballooning circle of contagion. 

At least 3,091 people have now died from the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, the World Health Organization said on Friday. 

And WHO concedes that this number is probably an underestimate. Many cases are going unrecorded. Some families are uncooperative with authorities and hide patients, fearing the stigma associated with a positive diagnosis. Others are afraid to go to hospitals, or worse, are turned away because of overcrowding. 

UN Secretary-General Ban told world leaders meeting on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly on Thursday that $1 billion was needed in the fight against Ebola. And Liberia's president, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, in a video speech, warned that 100,000 citizens could die.

The International Monetary Fund fast-tracked $130 million in aid to fight Ebola after the governments of the worse-hit countries in west Africa said they were desperately counting on promises of global aid to be backed up with cash.

Germany is joining a growing list of countries sending help. At least 2,000 volunteers from the German military, the Bundeswehr, will travel to the stricken region in the coming weeks. 

Malaysia, too, have said they may send experts to fight Ebola – but the matter needed further deliberation and approval, said Health Minister S Subramaniam. It means Malaysian ministers will have to do more talking before the affected countries can expect help from Malaysia. We forget people are dying as we are talking! 

The Sunday Times, Malaysia also said Malaysia is sending eleven containers of medical rubber gloves to Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea, Nigeria and Congo (p 10). It means that since it was last reported, we have not yet send them. Good intentions are well... good but quick and prompt action is critical if we really wish to come to the aid of these countries.

I was at The Intermark in KL’s Jalan Tun Razak for the Premier Advanced Toastmasters meeting. I was privileged to evaluate a CC#10 speech delivered by a talented speaker, Alireza Parpaei and he did reasonably well. And I was also quite impressed by Solmaz’s speech too. In fact, these two speeches easily set themselves apart from the other three speeches. 

A good meeting but I didn’t stay until the end because I had to travel across town for another event, i.e. the Area D2 Humorous Speech and Evaluation Contests. I am taking part in the Humorous Speech contest.