Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Food For Fatties

Ever since I started my long delayed fitness regime, I have been eating as healthily as can be. Before anyone thinks I'm some kind of fitness nut, let me assure you that I love Char Kuey Teow more than my son like the next guy. Heh! But since I am grossly overweight, my gym Sifu has commanded that I go on a diet.

In case you never read my previous post on this, my diet includes Wholemeal Toasts for breakfast. I can eat this with Diabetic Jam and Eggs (as long as I keep a quota of 1 yolk per day). Lunch is boring plain rice with fish or chicken and veggies minus any curry or fattening gravy. Dinner can be chicken, fish or veggies with no Carbohydrates. That means no Rice. And this will be my daily diet for the next three months.

Now this is a bummer. If you've read this blog long enough, you'll realise that I love eating. So much so that Mae swears that I eat like some godless heathen. Now, however, my meals will be reduced to safe, healthy and bland stuff. The only tasteful thing about my diet is probably the Jam. But since I HATE jam, there really isn't much to look forward to.

But all is not lost. As much as I like to eat, I also like to cook. So, off and on, I'll be documenting my low-fat cooking experiments right here. Since I'm neither a professional chef, dietician nor a nutritionist, whether my recipes are actually safe for consumption is anybody's guess. Hehheh. But blog them, I shall. I promise, however, to use "safe" ingredients.

So there. I'm excited. Tell me you are too. :)

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

The Tan Family Singing Sensation

When I was a kid, my mother sang me many songs. She was a primary school teacher and she used to teach singing to her students. And because of her love for music, she sang to me all the time.

She'd sing whenever we went out for a drive. Of course that was also because Mom's jalopy didn't have a cassette player. She'd sing when we went for walks. She'd sing when she bathed me. She'd sing when she fed me. She'd even sing when she was caning the shit out of me. Hahhaha. Okay, that last one was a joke. But yeah, she sang lots and I'd join in. . I remember lying on my belly totally in awe of this wonderful music that Mom made.
I love to go a wandering,
Along the mountain track,
And as I go, I'd love to sing,
With a knapsack on my back,
Val-de-ree, Val-de-rah....
Ocassionally, she'd tweak some lyrics just to put it in the right context. She especially loved to sing Doris Day's Que Sera Sera.
When I was just a little boy,
I asked my mother, "What would I be?"
"Would I be handsome? Would I be rich?"
Here's what she said to me,
Que Sera Sera, whatever will be, will be...
And since she was a huge P. Ramlee fan (like everyone from her generation), she'd also include this little song in her repertoire:
Aci, aci, buka pintu,
Nonya balik pukul satu,
Jangan takut burung hantu...
We were a riot. And while weren't exactly the Singing Von Trapps, we weren't half bad. At least none of our neighbours complained. These days, I sing the very same songs to Jesse. It's kinda like passing my family heirloom on to my kid. And yeah, I get this warm fuzzy feeling all over. Mom, on the other hand, has moved on. Nowadays she's singing Linkin Park and Eminem. Hahahhah! If only.

Despite not being half the entertainer as Mom, Jesse is amused all the same. Question is, is he enjoying the songs or does he just enjoy seeing me make a fool of myself? Only time will tell, I guess. When he grows up and blogs about it. Hehheh!

Monday, April 25, 2005

First Swim

little dipper

Yesterday, we took Jesse out for his inaugural dip in the pool for his first swim ever. Technically, it isn't really his FIRST swim, but then back then he wasn't Jesse yet. If you know what I mean. Hehheh!

So there on a late Sunday morning, we brought him to the pool in our condo with his brand new Floaties... erm... float, and his new pair of swim trunks. The water was just about right, with the right temperature, correct pH and proper Chlorine level. *ahaks* But yes, it was a nice day for a swim. He had fun for about 15 minutes. But he also got tired of it pretty quick. I think Mae and I had more fun that he did. :)

Anyway, we had gone round looking for a swimsuit for the little guy but he's just too small. Finally, we ended up with a cheap pair of kiddy swimshorts that are probably 5 sizes too big. But it didn't look too weird since he wore it over his diapers anyway. That said, what is the proper dress etiquette for swimming children anyway? Should babies wear their diapers underneath their swimsuit? Or just the swimsuit? Or is it a generally accepted practice for babies to swim in the buff? I'm a little traditional when it comes to these things. Firstly, I'd like to protect my little boy's modesty whenever possible. Secondly, I think it's really in the best interest of the community that Jesse wears his diapers. No one wants to see a brown "vapour trail" coming out of a baby in a pool. Heh.

On the other hand, the diaper tends to get a little oversaturated in the pool. Though Jesse didn't complain much, I imagine it must be pretty icky. Tips, anyone?

Friday, April 22, 2005

Gratuitous Nude Scene

look ma, no pants!

I'm not sure if anyone anywhere else does this, but if you look into any Malaysian's photo album, especially the ones from the 50's and 60s, you're bound to find a nudie shot of a baby.

Nudie shots must have been all the rage back then. You'll see a professional studio shot with a baby lying on his belly wearing only his birthday suit. While I think naked little babies have a certain Anne Geddes-charm about them, I can't help but think how weird it must have been to have them taken back in the old days.

Think about it. What actually goes on for such a shot to happen? Do parents bring their kids to a studio, strip them down to their bare-bottom and then have the photographer do his thing? There's such a porno feeling about it - bringing someone to someplace, getting them naked and then taking pictures! Of course the alternative isn't any better. The kid leave the house naked. Hehh! Fortunately for us, cameras these days are affordable enough for you to do your own thing in the comfort of your home.

Jesse's a bit of a nudist at heart. Everytime we bring him out of a bath, he'll be doing his best to avoid getting dressed. Try and put a diaper on him and he'll toss around like little eel. And so we decided to get photographic proof of his little transgression.

Fortunately for him, Daddy is a bit of a prude. Which is why all his naughty bits are strategically covered. Mommy's shots were far more liberated. Thank God Daddy runs this blog. :)

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

The Game of the Name

I've been thinking. And since my thoughts come out in short spurts (Heh!), here's a short... erm... observation for your consideration.

If you go to any small town in Malaysia, you are bound to find a Chinese gangster, along or politician named Jimmy. Or Alex. Any small town. Come to think of it, any big city as well. And in their company, you'll also find a Shireen or two. And out of every five Shireens, two will spell their own name wrong. So, remember, if you don't pay your dues, Jimmy's gonna getcha! And if he can't make it, Alex will show.

Also about town, you'll find a whole load of Malay guys who introduce themselves as Remy, as if it were a short-form of their given names. Never mind if their mothers named them Zainuddin. You never call them Zain or Udin, or even Din. It's Remy. Or if they were a little on the meaty side, then it's Bob. And with every order of a Bob or a Remy, you're almost certain to get a girl named Baby. Or Gee.

Out here in the city, you'll find a whole bunch of Indian brothers named G. Yes, just the alphabet. Not to be confused with Gee. And it's a popular alphabet, that G, which is usually a short-form for Gunasekaran or Ganesan. In fact it's so popular that even Perumal or Shanker call themselves G. For some reason, P and S just never quite took off.

Know any of these guys? :)

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Look Who's Talking

As first time parents, every little milestone in Jesse's development is a big deal. But the one thing that we anticipate the most is when he utters his first words. What will he say, when he's ready to say something?

For a few months now, Jesse been gurgling and cooing a lot. On a good day, he's practically having a conversation with us with his little "Eee-dooo" and "Pehhhhh" and the occasional "Bleargle" and "Fla-dooodle". Okay, I made those words up, but you get the picture. He's got a pretty extensive repertoire of sounds which may or may not mean anything. But as parents, we're proud all the same. In any case we've been keeping our ears open for some real words, like "Superfluous" or "Regurgitate". :) Baby Oli, who's a couple of months older than Jesse already started calling her Daddy, "Da-Da" a couple on months back. Though boys generally pick up speech later than girls, we're hopeful that it's anytime soon.

One day, some three months back, Jesse was crying to be fed when he suddenly made a sound. "Honey, he said MILK," Mae was excited. "Are you sure?" I was skeptical. Jesse was, after all, only just 4 months old at the time. "Well, it might have been MOM," Mae rationalised. "Or it might have been MOVE," I teased. "As in, 'MOVE your ass Mommy, I'm starving!!" Of course that remark was met swiftly with a bop on the head.

Lately, Jesse seems to be at it again. This time around, even though the words are not quite words, the timing is no longer random. For instance, whenever I drink beer or anything out of a can, Jesse will give me a short, sharp, "Uhhnn!" to tell me he wants a sip. And if I ignore him, he'll repeat himself a little louder this time. He's also got a designated phrase for milk these days. In between his cries of hunger, we sometimes hear him say "Mum-mum," which is our word for food.

Then again, he could just be calling us "Numbnuts!" Who knows? We'll just have to wait a little longer, I guess.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Oliver! Oliver!

A couple of weeks ago, I got a free ticket for the stage production of The Sound of Music. Since Mae was a big fan of the show (she knows the complete lyric of "These Are a Few of My Favourite Things") I coughed up a couple of hundred for a ticket for her as well. Jesse, who's appreciation of art goes only as far as his mother's sopranic rendition of "To Market, To Market, To Buy a Fat Pig", was unceremoniously dumped at his Grammy's.

The show was lovely, the songs memorable and the sets astounding. And this being only my second of such an experience (I'm usually more of a celluloid kinda guy), I decided I had much to catch up. And besides, Mae's silly-schoolgirl-afterglow with such an event is something I'd pay good money to see. And as fate would have it, Oliver! will be playing sometime in the near future in Genting Highlands.

Now Oliver! is completely alien to me. I never even saw the 1968 classic, but that was due largely to the fact that I was still swimming around in my father's loins when the movie was released. And while I have the DVD sitting in my home, these days it's a case of too many movies, too little time. But not Mae. Mae has seen Oliver! 2,318 times and she had loved every single viewing. Mae's family must be the biggest collection of Oliver! fans in one place. Everyone in the family loved Oliver! So much so that the Oliver! Home Video would be a permanent fixture in all their annual family retreats to Port Dickson.

It was strange to me that anyone would watch Oliver! during their vacation. It was even stranger that they'd do it every vacation. Never mind that Indiana Jones was kicking ass. Never mind that Star Wars was the groundbreaking sci-fi movie. Never mind that ET was the most endearing family movie of all times. This family only wanted Oliver! It was strange. It was equally strange that they went to Port Dickson all the time. Heh! But the Khoos were such a family.

And because I love my wife (*ahem*), I will allow myself to be sucked into her world of nerdiness. So yes, I've been thinking about catching Oliver! in Genting Highlands, but only we can bring Jesse. I understand that it's open to adults and kids alike. If they can accept our temperamental little 7-month-old, then it's all systems go. :)

We'll see what happens. And oh, isn't it a shame that it's not in Port Dickson instead? Heh!

Friday, April 15, 2005

A Day of Torture

It's been a week since I signed up at the gym near my office. I've been pretty smug about it too. My gym is cheaper, only RM90 month. Also, since it's a small gym, the proprietor takes it in his stride to train me up at no extra cost. Besides, this gym is just a stone's throw from my office. So it's all good.

Or so I thought.

I have stumbled into a den of lions! Okay, so maybe that was a tad melodramatic, but damn these guys are hardcore. "Hari-hari two solid hours," Wak Ali tells me, "I guarantee you akan lose weight or I chop my head off!"

After a pretty tame week of cardio on the bicycle, yesterday he decides to start me off with some pumping for my legs. First, he drags me off to this huge-ass torture implement called the Leg Press. I did 4 sets of 21 repetitions. Then it was the Leg Extensions. 4 sets 12 reps. Leg Curls. 4 sets 12 reps. By then my leg muscles (or lack thereof) were so numbed with pain they felt like strangers to me. "Yo James, we're your legs and we feel like kicking your ass for that shit you just put us thru!" That was two days ago. Today, my legs still feel like shit.

Anyway, he let me go back to my cardio after those. And for the first time, I felt fortunate to be able to go back up on the bike. But alas, more torture awaited. "OK, last one," Wak Ali called to me. "Ini paling difficult!" I could swear I heard him cackle like a witch under his breath. Front Squats. 4 sets 10 reps. He explains that this was so difficult that some guys actually blackout from doing this. Oh maaan!!

And as if 10 reps weren't bad enough, the guy comes along during my last set and asks me to do 20 instead. Shitshitshitshitshit!!!! By the sixth repetition, my legs were about to buckle under me. "Tak boleh, boss," I pleaded. "Yes you can," he yelled, "You can do it!"

Think fast James, think fast I told myself. And I did. I was desperate. And so, I took the path of the chickenshit. I feigned a blackout spell. "Pitam, boss," I told him I was on the verge of fainting. And he let me stop. "Eleeehhh... my wife boleh buat more that you," he laughed.

Not my finest hour, but a man's wuss' gotta do what a man's wuss' gotta do.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

The Secret of a Happy Marriage

In matters of love and marriage, the world in divided into two distinct categories of people. Clean People and Dirty People. And never the twain shall meet, or there's gonna be trouble.

Clean People are tidy, orderly and possibly somewhat nerdy. Dirty People are the throw-caution-to-the-wind and devil-may-care, free spirits. And generally, Dirty People have more fun that Clean People. So when you throw the two together in a marriage, one of two things will happen. Either they divorce or Clean People eventually become dirty. :)

If you're a Clean Person, nothing can be more miserable than to live with a slob. They leave stuff all over the place, stink up the house and never bother to help out. On the other hand, a Dirty Person can go bonkers with all that incessant nagging and whining.

So if you're looking for a life partner that would actually stick around for the rest of your life, please consider a spouse that is either a neatness-freak like you or a slob, if that's what you are. Forget your childhood ideals or beauty, height, money, ambition, bla bla bla. If you want a happy marriage, then this it's just a choice between clean or dirty.

Sometimes I allow Jesse to eat anything he finds on the floor. If I had a Clean Wife, life would be hell. She'd scream at me and make my life miserable. But Dirty Mae just laughs heartily. "Hahahah, honey," she'd sometimes say, "Your son is eating a scrap paper he picked up from the trash can." And I'd reply, "Hhahahaha!" And upon seeing his parents in such a jolly mood, our child joins in the fun. "Hahahah," he'd go. And our household is filled with joy and laughter.

Of course our household is also filled with litter. But hey, we don't really mind.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Another Shitty Story

Babies cry whenever they wet themselves or when they've soiled their diapers. It's a normal behaviour for babies. Unfortunately for us, Jesse is anything but normal.

For some reason, these days, whenever he's taken a poop, he's the best behaved baby in the whole world. He'd be good-natured, quiet and he'd be smiling from ear to ear at the slightest thing. Save for the smell of shit, he'd be all adorable and cute. We can't quite figure it out. Maybe the feeling of a nice steaming pile of turn on your ass is more comforting than we give it credit for. Heh!

So here's the dilemma: The kid is the best little baby in the world, but he's got poop on his ass. Do we leave the poop there and continue to enjoy our wonderful baby? Or do we behave like responsible parents, clean him up and take our chances with his ensuing behaviour? Despite the temptation, we change him. And that's when all hell breaks loose.

He'll scream at the top of his lungs at the most grating decible. He'll thresh about, trying to turn onto his belly. He'll kick like a wild stallion. And in this state, he's impossible to pacify. And as if that didn't sucked enough, we'd have to contend with flying shit. *sigh* It pisses me off no end! And since this has got to do with his bowel movements, it's pretty much a daily affair. Things were much simpler in the early days.

Some days I have this fantasy where I grab a pile of his doody and smear it all over his face. "Eat this, boy!" That ought to shut him up good. Hahhahah....

Shit. I think I need therapy.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

My First Workout

On Friday, I went for my first workout at my new gym (see previous post). To start me off, they were relatively easy on me. For a gym full of competition bodybuilders, 35 minutes on the bike was probably a cinch. "I can do this," I thought.

I thought.

Five minutes in and my thighs were burning up. Shit. How was I gonna get through all 35 minutes of this? But the tenth minute, my throat was so parched I though I'd collapse of dehydration or something. Meanwhile, Wak Ali, the 50-year-old ex-Mr Asia was right behind me having a take-out lunch with his wife. On the other corner of the gym, one other guy was working out. I thought to myself, if I quit now, they're gonna notice. And as I contemplated my next course of action, the minutes went by.

"Keep going, you fat lump of shit!" Wak Ali yelled from across the room. Okay, so he didn't quite say that. Heh! Instead, he asked me to step it up a notch or two. And before I knew it, my 35 minutes were up. Hallelujah!!! It couldn't have been sooner because, apart from the incredible strain on my legs, the bike seat was murder on my ass! It was the longest 35 minutes of my life.

Then Wak Ali sat down to talk. I'd have to diet - for six months. And he gave me the run down:
Toast. Wholemeal only. No butter. But I can have Diabetic Jam (no added sugar) and I can have eggs. As many as I like as long as I take only one yolk.

White rice. No gravy. I can have curry fish if I like, but the only gravy I get is what's on the fish. *sigh* And a green apple. And if I should get hungry afterwards, see breakfast.

Rice - preferably Ponni Rice. And steam veggies.Same like breakfast except that I can also eat Chicken or Fish - roasted or steamed and minus ckicken skin.
But it's not all bad. I can have KFC, minus the skin. I can drink coffee as long as it's black. That means no sugar. Milo-O is okay too. So, it's really just common sense, I guess. But Wak Ali did specify no more Char Kuey Teow. *sniff* But I suppose it's all good. The logic is this; if I see some results, I'm less likely to quit. Boy, it's gonna be a long, long ride. Tomorrow is day 2. Wish me luck.

Note: Apparently, we need carboshydrates to burn fat. So I guess the Atkins diet isn't gonna work out!

Update: Turns out that I was mistaken about dinner. Lunch is the only time to eat carbs. That means no rice for dinner. Also, there'll be no more red meat for me for the next six month. *sigh* Oh, and in case you're wondering, today's workout was a little better. 45 minutes on the bike and it didn't feel too bad. I also did 10 minutes of Twisting and 5 minutes of Side Bends. Wak Ali promises those will hurt by tomorrow. *gulp*

Friday, April 8, 2005

Gym Rat

A couple of days ago, I signed up at a gym. Yay! This is one of the most positive things I've done in a long time. I'm so proud of myself. Somebody give me a pat on the head. :)

Anyway, it's a small gym, one of those Mom & Pop operations started by this aging beefcake bodybuilder dude who's got a few titles under his belt. After reading Mei's (not Mae) experiences with FF, I decided to stay away from these overly-commercial establishments. Besides, this one is just across the street from my office, so I know I won't find too many excuses about not going.

Anyway, before you know it, before I even started on my first session, I'm already counting my six-pack before they develop. "Muahahahha... I'm gonna be buff," I tell Mae. And the whole conversation was, I'm gonna do this, I'm gonna do that.

"You better get them to give you a diet program as well," Mae interrupted. "No way!" I retorted, "I'm gonna eat like a pig and workout like a dog!"

"Yah," Mae snapped, "and behave like a monkey!"

"Just you wait," I warned her. "When I'm all buff and stuffed, I'm gonna manhandle you. Bwahahahhaha!" Oh boy. I just can't wait. And I won't have to. Today will be my first session. In fact, I'm going as soon as I submit this entry. Hopefully, I will survive to talk about it.

Wednesday, April 6, 2005

Back In

Lately, Jesse's developed this annoying little habit. Sometimes when he's pissed off or frustrated or even when he's sleepy, he likes to rub his face violently against anyone who's carrying him. Violently!

It's like his nose is possessed by some kind of demon and he's trying to rip the evil right off his face. He's practically grinding his little face away burying himself, on our shoulders, chest, at our neck, depending how we're carrying him. And he can go on and on until he runs out of oxygen and has to come up for air.

Sometimes when he's down on the floor, he'd climb up onto one of us and rub his face into our thigh or our crotch, whichever is more accessible. Those times, he'd usually come out sooner for air. Hahhahah! I'm kidding, of course. My wife and I have sweet smelling crotches.

One day, while lying with Mae on the sofa, he gets up to his nonsense again. And he's grinding violently against Mae's groin.

"Jesse-boy, what are you doing?" Mommy cooed to her little boy. Then, in typical Mae-fashion, she added, "Trying to get back in?"

Hahhahahha! With parents like us, it's hardly surprising if he was.

Tuesday, April 5, 2005

Maid In Indonesia

Mae and I finally succumbed to the pressures of parenthood. After 7 months of roughing it out, juggling childcare and career, bringing Jesse to the officewe're finally paying for a little help. Despite our previous reservations, we've finally come to a workable solution. A live-in maid could help with the upkeep of the house and in the daytime, she could follow Mae to work, to help with the babysitting.

"Can you go to the website and pick out a maid," Mae told me. She hates making decisions like these. "I'd rather you decide," I answered diplomatically, remembering all those instances of indiscretion between male employers and their domestic help. This is a delicate issue.

"Well, at least tell me what kind of maid you want," Mae snapped, getting impatient with my non-committal answer. "Can you just tell me if you prefer Young or Old or Married or Divorced or whatever?" And so, I answered in the only way I knew how.

"Sexy one got ah?"

Hehhehh. Our maid arrives from Indonesia in a couple of months. She will be Mae's choice, of course. And no, she will probably not be sexy.

Monday, April 4, 2005

Heh-Chien vs Ho-Chien

oyster schmoyster

One of the most popular places to eat in Taiping is surely the Taiping Casual Market, a hawker center located at the bottom of the Larut Matang departmental store along Jalan Panggong Wayang. With a heckuva lot of stalls operating, halal on one end and non-halal on the other, you can always find something interesting to eat.

Twenty years of living in Taiping and I only stumbled on Heh-Chien only after I leave town. *sigh*

Heh-Chien is not unlike Ho-Chien. While the latter is an oyster and starch flour omellete, Heh-Chien is shrimp-based. Take 20 or so fresh shrimps in a light starch-flour batter, stir-fry it with fresh chives (kuchai) and break in a couple of eggs and you'll have a winning formula. It's elementary! And delicious to boot. I'm just surprised that not more Ho-Chien stalls are doing this.

Some of you purists might scowl at the thought of shrimps instead of oysters but the fact is not too many people can stomach the strong fishy smell of oyster. And so shrimps are the natural choice. Shrimps are delicious. They're sweet and springy and you never run the risk of biting into something nasty.
Stall No.77 does really well here. Their end result is an omelette that is crispy on the outside and soft and creamy on the inside - a welcome assault on the tastebuds. This dish also comes with a garlic-chilli-vinegar sauce that complements the Heh-Chien perfectly.

Of course, all said, I really can't say if this is the best Heh-Chien ever simply because I haven't sampled this dish anywhere else. So if anyone knows anywhere else selling the stuff, point the way and I'm there. Meanwhile, I'll continue to savour this one in Taiping.

Ahhhh... I should never have left Taiping. Coming up, more reasons to stay put in Taiping. Stay tuned.

Friday, April 1, 2005

Taiping Zoo

"are we there yet?"

Last Sunday: "Honey, how about we bring Jesse to the Zoo?" Mae lit up with excitement. "He could really enjoy the experience." But I knew it wasn't really true. Mae just loves it at the Taiping Zoo.

And you can't blame her, really. The zoo in Taiping in one of the highlights of this old town. With over 180 species of animals in a 34-acre plot, the Zoo is quite a sight to behold. With its open, no-cage concept, the place diplays the animals in their natural habitat separated only by moats and light fencing. Going there is practically like taking a walk in the Jungle. And there's always the thrill that some Lion might leap out of its enclosure and maul you to death. Or the excitement that the Elephants might stampede through their barriers and crush you into a pulp. Mmmm... nice!

Anyway there was no convincing Mae. When it came to the Taiping Zoo, Mae's animal instincts take over. And you can never stop the woman when she's decided to pay a visit to her relatives. Not even the impending rainfall would dampen her spirits. "We'll just take a quick one!" she insists. So, we go - Mae, Jesse, my Mom and Me!

Entrance was RM4 a pop. Mom gets in at half price on account of her senior-citizen status. And yes, it did drizzle a little. So we ended up taking a train ride. Which was unfortunate since the moving train did not allow for any nice photography. But all in all, it was a fun outing for us adults. Jesse, on the other hand, was probably just wondering what the fuss was all about. :)

Oh well, maybe next year.