Monday, January 31, 2011

Paronychia. Huh, what is that?

After all these years, I only realise there is something called paronychia. It is a bacterial infection surrounding the nails. It is caused by the bacteria Staphylococcus aureus. I had this infection from time to time throughout my life without realising it is actually a bacterial infection. I always have the habit of peeling some skin from the nail groove or the eponychium. As a result, the skin surrounding the area will swell.

Often, paronychia will heal on its own but I have read scary stories from the Internet concerning serious paronychia infection.

Now, I would want to think twice before I start peeling my skin or hangnail surrounding my nails.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

My first appointment with my supervisor

I had my very first appointment with my project supervisor today regarding my MBA project. I already had in mind what topic I wanted to do. I will be doing a research on a specific career theory (As usual, any research student will not reveal to everyone exactly what is he researching on).

The most I can say is that I will be doing a social scientific research focusing on one specific career model. The journey will not be simple. It will involve a lot of reading, reading, and reading.

Friday, January 28, 2011

It was published. Yay!

My article was published in The Star newspaper today. Check it out here.

I'm glad the editor corrected some of my grammatical mistakes and typo errors. Now, I regretted not paying attention during my English lessons in school back then.

Unfortunately, the editor also 'cut' some paragraphs away, probably to allow more articles to be published as well.

There is one important paragraph, I believe, it should have been published together. However, it was taken out.

The only time when dogs would lunge and bark at me was whenever I walked past a house with pet dogs that were chained or were kept in a cage. Just like the case of the Irishman who was mauled by two dogs. Those dogs are pet dogs, not stray dogs.

This is important because I want everyone to know that it is usually pet dogs that are more aggressive than strays. Pet dogs could attack people unprovoked. This is due to how the dogs have been raised and reared by the owner. If the owner had been abusive, the dog would turned aggressive.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

I sent this to The Star.

I sent this letter to The Star just now. Let's see whether it will be published or not.

Referring to the letter “Attacked by dogs on Penang beach" written by DES MM2H, I sympathise with the ordeal the writer had gone through. However, I have some questions in mind to understand the incident.

First of all, I am curious why the dogs would want to lunge at the writer. I believed that dogs would not attack anyone unless the dogs have rabies or have been provoked.

I lived in a neighbourhood filled with stray dogs and I never had any problems with them so far. Based on my own observation, the stray dogs would not bark at anyone save for a few individuals. And you would ask why of all the hundreds of people walking around in my neighbourhood, why would the stray dogs only bark at a few individuals. I came to know that the stray dogs would bark collectively at this particular woman whenever she walks along one particular stretch of road. My guess was that she must have provoked the dogs before but unfortunately, I don’t have evidence to confirm that. I was then told by another resident that she is someone who hates dogs because she had always complain to her friends how annoying the stray dogs are, although they don’t harm anyone. Either my guess is right or that the dogs have six-sense.

There was a particular time when the dogs would only bark at those who were riding noisy motorbikes along that stretch of road. It does not take a veterinarian to suspect that something must have happened earlier. To confirm my suspicion, I peeked out of my window late one night and saw a group of mat rempits provoking the stray dogs. They were revving their engine loudly directly in front of the dogs and some of them would graze their bikes against the dogs that happened to stand by the side of the road.

As a result, these dogs started barking at anyone riding noisy bikes throughout the day. Fortunately, the mat rempits have stopped hanging out at my neighbourhood and hence, the stray dogs have stopped their barking towards anyone riding noisy bikes.

Secondly, were the dogs just merely barking at the writer or were they really lunging at the writer?

Throughout my life, whenever a dog barks at me, I would just ignore it and walk away quietly. Strangely, I have seen people retaliated by making funny noises towards the dogs, showing their fists, shouting, or even chasing after the dogs instead. I have seen enough of antics among humans. Those people are only looking for more trouble and when they were bitten, they never tell the press what they have done to the dog.

The only time when dogs would lunge and bark at me was whenever I walked past a house with pet dogs that were chained or were kept in a cage. Just like the case of the Irishman who was mauled by two dogs. Those dogs are pet dogs, not stray dogs.

Hence, if the dogs lunged at the writer, the writer would have been bitten already. Hence, were the dogs just merely barking or were they really lunging at the writer? If the dogs were just merely barking, all the writer need to do is to walk away quietly. Throwing sand at the dogs would only aggravate the situation. Therefore, it explained why the dogs instead came forward barring their teeth towards the writer after the writer threw sand at the dogs.

Thirdly, are the dogs mentioned stray dogs or pet dogs? If the dogs belong to someone, I wished the owner should have been more careful. If the dogs were stray dogs, it is certainly weird (based on my own experience) for the dogs wanting to attack someone at random unless the dogs have rabies or they have been provoked in the first place.

Yes, I agree that the population of stray dogs should have been controlled through spaying, not by shooting innocent stray dogs. I am afraid that after yesterday’s letter was published, the municipal council might start killing innocent stray dogs throughout the island that are unrelated to the incident.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Are dogs colour blind?

No, dogs are not colorblind in the sense that they see more than just black, white, and gray. However, the color range they perceive is limited compared to the spectrum we see.

To put it in very basic terms, the canine color field consists mostly of yellows, blues, and violets. "Human" reds, greens, and oranges are not distinguishable to dogs and instead appear somewhere on their yellow to blue spectrum.

The reason? The retina of both species contains two types of photoreceptors, rods and cones. The human eye, however, contains more types of cones while the canine eye has more rods and no fovea, which is responsible for sharp visual detail in humans. The result is that dogs have superior night vision and are better at tracking movement than we are, but see fewer colors and shapes and objects appear in much less detail.

The bottom line is that tossing an orange ball onto green grass may look like yellow against yellow to your dog, but his acute motion-detection ability will help him fetch it anyway.


Sunday, January 23, 2011

There is no failure, only feedback

I learned this phrase from a book. Specifically, it's an NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) book.

A good example to explain this is by referring to Thomas Edison.

Thomas Edison, after trying 9,999 ways to perfect the electric light bulb, insisted: "I didn't fail. I just discovered another way to invent the electric light bulb." (Alder, 2006).

Just like a person learning how to bake a cake. The first time he tried, the cake tasted very nasty. That doesn't mean he failed as a cook, it's just that he learned the results that he shouldn't used a certain ingredient or probably he shouldn't bake it for too long.

You used information, or feedback, to improve (Alder, 2006). That's the way to find success. You learn from your past mistakes (or I should say feedbacks) to improve yourself. If you know a certain way of doing things doesn't earn you the result you wanted, then you have to change accordingly and find new ways of doing it. Learn from the feedback!


"There is no failure, only feedback" (Alder, 2006)

Source: Alder, H. (2006). NLP: The New Art and Science of Getting What You Want, Piatkus: London

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Who was this?

Failed in business at age 31.
Was defeated in a legislative race at age 32.
Failed again in business at age 34.
Experienced the death of his sweetheart at age 35.
Had a nervous breakdown at age 36.
Lost an election at age 38.
Lost a congressional race at age 43.
Lost a congressional race at age 46.
Lost a congressional race at age 48.
Lost a senatorial race at age 55.
Failed in an effort to become vice-president of the USA at age 56.
Lost a senatorial race at age 58.
Was elected president at the age of 60.

So, who was this person?



Keep guessing.....



The man's name was Abraham Lincoln.

Moral: Don't give up!

Source: Alder, H. (2006). NLP: The New Art and Science of Getting What You Want, Piatkus: London

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The danger of Tetanus

It is a common misconception that a rusty nail causes Tetanus. It is the toxin produced by the anaerobic bacterium Clostridium Tetani that causes the Tetanus infection.

The spores of Clostridium Tetani are usually found in animal feces and soil. So, if you have a cut by a piece of metal lying on the ground, the spores of Clostridium Tetani could get into your body through the wound. The tetanus bacili would then start producing toxin that causes the infection.

If you have a cut, scratch, or deep punctures from stepping on a nail or any dirty, rusty, or dusty objects, you are at a risk of developing the tetanus infection. Looking at the logic here, even getting a cut from a stone on the ground could lead to a tetanus infection since the tetanus bacili are usually found in soil.

The symptoms of a tetanus infection are stiffness of the jaw (lockjaw), stiffness of the neck, and muscle spasms (in the neck, arms and legs). Other atypical symptoms include restlessness, difficulty in swallowing, irritability, headache, fever, sore throat, and chills. The symptoms might come as early as 2 days or as late as 50 days.

Prevention is better than cure for a tetanus infection. So please get the tetanus jab immediately if you got yourself a cut, scratch, deep puncture wound, or even a burn. In fact, it is recommended that one should get the jab once every ten years. The tetanus shot works by neutralising the toxin, not the bacteria.

Once the symptoms developed, you will be hospitalised. Of course, since you will be 'paralysed' from the muscle spasm and muscle stiffness. That's the danger of tetanus! You can't even open your mouth. Basically, you will be given antibiotics (metrodinazole) to kill the bacteria. In this case, a tetanus immune globulin will be injected into you to neutralise the toxin, since getting the tetanus shot will not help you much. The tetanus shot might take a few days before it starts to work. That is why you should get the tetanus jab as soon as possible after injuring yourself.

Read here for more information from The Merck Manual - Tetanus.

Monday, January 17, 2011

I just got myself the Tetanus jab.

I accidentally scratched my left arm against some metal/steel equipment inside my house last Sunday. I had been thinking over the past one week whether I should get the tetanus booster vaccination or not. I felt some slight muscle aches on my left arm a few days after the scratch. I figured that this is probably some early signs of a tetanus infection. So, finally, I plucked up the courage to get the jab just a few hours ago.

I went to the government clinic and just paid RM1 to see the doctor. I told her about the scratch and she told me I should have come earlier to get the jab. I asked her whether it is too late to get the jab. She told me it's better late than never.

I went to another room and I was all ready to get the shot. I am already used to injections, anyway. I thought the shot will be painful but I was so wrong. I was surprised that the injection was not painful at all, probably I am already used to such pricks. The needle prick was not painful but after a few minutes later, I began to feel some mild discomfort on my upper left arm. It was probably the effect of the vaccination.

Now, the vaccination will probably protect me for another ten years (2011 - 2020). The last tetanus booster shot I received was in 1998 when I was in Form Three.

So, if more than ten years have passed since your last tetanus shot, it is recommended that you should get the tetanus booster. And you can get it for only RM1 from your nearest government clinic.

What's next. Now, I'm thinking of getting the chicken pox vaccination.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Wanna be the Marlboro Man?

This is how Phillip Morris markets its Marlboro cigarattes. The Marlboro Man! The Marlboro Man was conceived by the advertising firm, Leo Burnett in 1954.

The Marlboro Man is the archetypal symbol of rugged independence, freedom, space, and Americana. It's the way to entice smokers to be a free, independent, macho cowboy in the Old West!
Well, the advertising campaigns worked successfully, at least in the past. Due to heightened antismoking sentiment and health concerns, the public living in developed countries no longer yearn to be the Marlboro Man.

So, tobacco industry giants, such as Phillip Morris, are targeting smokers in developing countries such as China, Russia, India and of course South East Asia to entice them to be the Marlboro Man!

Now, even women in these developing countries began to smoke believing that smoking is a symbol of an improved status in the society.

So, do you want to be the Marlboro Man?

This is Wayne McLaren, an American actor who portrayed The Marlboro Man in Marlboro's advertisements in the 1970s. Cool, eh!

This is Wayne McLaren (1940 - 1992) again. He died in 1992 due to lung cancer.

So do you still want to be the Marlboro Man?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

What is the #1 rated ad slogan of the twentieth century?

De Beers' "A Diamond Is Forever" is the number one rated ad slogan of the twentieth century, according to Advertising Age (1999). The slogan was conceived in 1948 by the advertising firm N.W. Ayers.

The slogan was so powerful that it is ingrained in our mind until today that diamonds must be associated with love, dating, and marriage. De Beers' promotional campaign was just brilliant and superb. (Note: De Beers is a group of companies that are involved in exploration, mining, trading, and retailing of diamonds).

During the Hollywood's Golden Age, De Beers provided their jewellery to famous movie stars (eg. Marilyn Monroe) to be worn on-screen and off-screen. And the best marketing achievement of De Beers was when the 1953 film "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes" starring Marilyn Monroe was released. In that movie, Marilyn Monroe could be heard singing "Diamonds are a Girl's Best Friend". That phrase is already a cliche today.

Furthermore, "Diamonds are Forever", a James Bond's film which was released in 1971, indirectly strengthened the product positioning of De Beers' jewellery.

Of course, it does not end there. Diamonds are continuously shown in various engagement and wedding scenes in movies throughout the decades, which are actually promotional campaigns initiated by corporates.

De Beers has successfully created the concept that diamonds are essential elements in human relationships, love, dating, and marriage. Clap clap....

Aren't we humans docile and gullible? Clap clap....

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Two dogs attacked Irishman in Teluk Bahang, Penang

Firstly, you may want to read the news coverage in PetPositive.

So what went wrong?

1. The dogs are kept in a cage (Definitely not a good thing to do).
2. The dogs are fed with only biscuits (This is definitely a ridiculous thing to do).
3. The Irishman went inside the orchard when the owner was not around.

Based on my own personal observation, I have seen dogs that are chained are extremely aggressive. There was once I saw a dog (the dog was chained to the backdoor in the backlane) that would lurched at any passers-by. So, please do not chain your dog or keep it in a cage.

On the other hand, stray dogs that roam freely in my neighbourhood are afraid of human beings. Whenever someone booed the dogs/pelted the dogs/stomped their feet, the dogs would run or moved away. There are just nasty sarcastic people around.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Boston at E-Gate

If you want to have a good alfresco meal, head to E-Gate Penang. I had my dinner yesterday at Boston, one of the restaurants in E-Gate.

Set dinner: Nasi lemak - RM11.90

Set dinner: Steamed baked cheese rice - RM10.90 (with vegetables, squids and prawns inside)

The set dinner comes with a drink - Lemon tea.

And fruits.

The nasi lemak and the steamed baked cheese rice are both delicious. Go try it. Yum yum.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Do you need an accounting degree to be an accountant?

No, it is not necessary.

But having an accounting degree will give you many exemptions when you sign up for the professional exam. For example, some accounting degree holders are exempted up to 9 papers for the ACCA professional exams leaving only 5 papers to be studied.

I was told that there are engineering graduates working in some accounting firms and they are studying the professional exams on a part time basis. This is not surprising.

I have met two financial controllers who do not have accounting degrees. But most importantly, they are CPA holders. One of them holds a degree in political science while the other is an engineering graduate.

To be an accountant, a professional membership is a must. On the other hand, to be an academic, an undergraduate degree is more important because you need the degree as a prerequisite to further your studies to the postgraduate level.

You might want to read this:
How to become an accountant in Malaysia?

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Economics 101: Capitalism vs Communism

And the clear winner is capitalism.

The downfall of the Soviet Union in 1991 marked the failure of communism. Even China has started practising capitalism, although the government is currently led by a Communist party.

Today, the only two countries where its economy is wholly centrally controlled by the government are Cuba and North Korea.

The dangers of communism could be clearly seen during the period of the Great Leap Forward (1958-1961) in China. The Great Leap Forward was a total failure and it caused 36 to 45 million deaths.

I remember watching a documentary on the Great Leap Forward. During that time, every single Chinese citizen has to work for the government. All private ownerships were expropriated by the government.

So, the Chinese were working in the government owned farms and factories on an almost 24/7 basis. Food and shelter were provided by the government. It was just like in prison, except that the prison is the entire China. As a result, sometimes there were not enough food and so, some of them began practising cannibalism. Probably, that's the reason why some of them are still practising cannibalism in the inner regions of China. Rumour said so.

So, it is not a good idea for a government to centrally control its economy entirely. Taking a good look at Cuba and North Korea will tell you that.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Are we ready for case-based learning?

I had my very first experience with case-based learning in Wawasan Open University. Out of the many tutors, only one tutor attempted to use case-based learning. She was my tutor for the subjects Management in Organisations and Managing Human Resources.

At the end of each tutorial session, she will instruct us to form a group, read a case study, and prepare some PowerPoint slides incorporating the problem statement, analysis on the rootcause of the problem, decision criteria, alternative solutions, and the recommended chosen solution. On the next tutorial session, each of us (or the group leaders only) will present the analysis to the class.

To know more about the case-based learning, which originated from the Harvard Business School, click here to watch the video on how it is conducted.

I find the case-based learning as something refreshing and something different from the usual 'sit down and listen to the lecturer'.

Unfortunately, I overheard one student complaining "That tutor didn't teach anything at all". I have also heard grouses from other students as well concerning that tutor. The usual complaints are that "the tutor didn't teach much". Mind you, most of these students are corporate executives.

I believe it is ridiculous for one to complain such thing when one is a student of a distance learning university. You are already expected to be an independent learner.

It looks like Malaysian students are not yet ready for case-based learning.

You might want to read these:
We should encourage self-directed learning
What makes a good lecturer?

Monday, January 3, 2011

How to become an accountant in Malaysia?

To become a Chartered Accountant in Malaysia, getting an MIA (Malaysian Institute of Accountants) membership is a must! There are three paths you can choose from to be a Chartered Accountant in Malaysia. No matter which path is chosen, you need to gain three years of relevant working experience in the area of accounting/audit/tax/finance.

Path #1
Get a full membership of one of the recognised professional accounting bodies eg. ACCA, CIMA, MICPA
I believe this is a common path taken by many accountants. Just sign up to any of the professional bodies such as ACCA, MICPA, CPA Australia, CIMA, ICAEW and pass their professional exams. Upon graduation, you need to gain three years of relevant accounting working experience and you can apply for a membership with MIA.

Path #2
Get an MIA recognised accounting degree and gain the three years of relevant accounting experience
If you have an MIA recognised Accounting degree especially from the Malaysian public universities, then you don't need to study for any professional exams like ACCA or CPA Australia. You just need to work for three years with the required relevant accounting experience and you can apply for a membership with MIA. You can check the list of MIA recognised accounting degrees right here. The MIA recognised accounting degrees are only from the public universities with the exception of Multimedia University and Universiti Tenaga Nasional. So, if you are studying accountancy in a private college, you have to go for Path#1 or Path#3.

Sign up for the MIA Qualifying Exams (QE)
The MIA QE was only launched in March 2003 offering an alternative route to accountants wannabe. If your accounting degree is not an MIA recognised degree and yet you do not want to study for any of the professional exams like ACCA, then you can choose to study the MIA QE. The MIA QE consists of four papers. Upon passing the four papers together with the required three-year relevant working experience, you can apply for a membership with MIA. This route is also suitable for those who are members of a professional body which is not recognised by MIA. So those people will have to go through this MIA QE to become a Chartered Accountant in Malaysia. You can see the list of professional accounting bodies recognised by MIA right here. Hmmm...Singapore is just next door and MIA did not even recognise the prestigious Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Singapore (ICPAS).

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Please practise hygiene, we don't want any cholera or typhoid outbreak!

Do you remember the cholera outbreak in Penang back in 1996? There were over 1,000 reported cases in Penang alone. Fortunately, there were no fatalities involved.

The cholera outbreak in Penang about 15 years ago served as a valuable lesson to Penangite to observe hygiene when preparing food. I'm not sure if our Penangite hawkers actually learnt any lesson since they don't usually eat their own food. I can still see dirty hawker outlets around Penang.

Just recently, a cholera outbreak occured in Haiti and the people there blamed the witch doctors for the outbreak.

Just like how many people tend to blame the weather, the food, the air-cond, or whatever they can think of, for their common cold infection, the Haitians believe the cholera outbreak is due to witchcraft, which was reported in TheStar a week ago, right here.

Cholera is caused by the bacteria Vibrio cholerae. You can read the entire stuff about cholera in The Merck Manual - Cholera. If you have sudden painless watery diarrhoea and vomiting, and especially severe dehydration, please see the doctor immediately.

Another similar serious infection, which we should know about is typhoid. Just recently I saw a government advertisement on typhoid in The Star newspaper. Again, you can read the entire stuff about typhoid in The Merck Manual - Typhoid. Perhaps, I suspected that there is some small typhoid outbreak recently, which is not reported in the newspaper, which triggered the government to do a full one page ad on typhoid in The Star newspaper.

The usual symptoms of typhoid include typical flu-like symptoms (sneezing, coughing, fever), headache, muscle pains, lost of appetite, diarrhoea, vomiting, red spots on chest (there are just so many symptoms and I think you should see a doctor instead of relying on the symptoms to diagnose yourself).

If you own a restaurant in Penang, please get your workers vaccinated against typhoid (anti-typhoid jab) or you risk yourself getting a summon from the Penang Municipal Council. Read here.

One worrying thing is that some people with typhoid do not show any symptoms at all and is otherwise healthy. But, that person could still spread typhoid if he touches his faeces/urine while preparing your food. Yikes!

Oh, please practise hygiene!