Monday, November 28, 2011

Disabled friendly facilities still lacking

RECENTLY, while having dinner in a restaurant near home, I saw two women struggling to get their wheelchair-bound elder relative onto the pavement.

There was no ramp, so they had to drive as close as possible to the pavement that was at least a foot higher than the road table.

One woman placed a wheelchair on the pavement and went back to assist their elder out of the car.

When she realised that the car door could not be fully opened because the car was too close, she brought the wheelchair back onto the road and helped the elder out of the car. Once their elder was comfortably seated in the wheelchair, both women proceeded to push it towards the entrance to the restaurant where the steps were.

Then they each grabbed the wheelchair by its armrests, lifted it and struggled up the steps.

I watched anxiously, fearful that they might slip. Fortunately, they managed to get their elder safely into the restaurant.

Last week, when I saw wheelchair ramps being built onto the pavement at Lake Titiwangsa near the interior car park, I was relieved.

There are not many public places that are built with the wheelchair user in mind.

At the Lake Titiwangsa, where the ramps were built, large yellow location signboards have also been set up to indicate their presence.

The angles of the ramps were also not made so steep as to prevent wheelchair users from wheeling up unassisted.

Some time ago, when I saw tact tile paths being built onto the same pavement around Lake Titiwangsa, I had wondered why ramps were not built at the same time. Now, with both tact tile pathways and wheelchair ramps in place, Lake Titiwangsa can boast of being a disabled-friendly park, although I rarely come across disabled persons visiting the park when I were there.

Perhaps not many disabled persons and their caretakers are aware that disabled friendly facilities are now in place here. If City Hall can extend the two facilities to all accessible areas of the park, it will be a bonus to the visually-impaired and wheelchair users who wish to join their able-bodied friends for a stroll.

The only thing City Hall should be concerned about, I think, is the parking of motorcycles on the pavements. This is a regular feature at Lake Titiwangsa, especially around the smaller lake by which a road runs. Visit the lake on weekend evenings and you will see what I mean.

Park visitors and joggers have been forced to move onto the road at areas where gangs of bikers and their bikes have completely occupied the pavement.

You can imagine what obstacles wheelchair users and the visually impaired are up against when they visit the park, even if there are facilities friendly to their needs.

Now, with the ramps built onto the pavements, it will be even easier for bikers to park their bikes there unless City Hall does something to prevent them from staking their weekend claim on the pavements.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Little knowledge that gives you an edge

A DECADE ago, when I first moved into the condominium I had purchased from the original owner, I found that a plastic bibcock in the dry kitchen's wall had a hairline crack.

Water was seeping out of it, so I bought a brass bibcock to replace it. In the process of removing the faulty bibcock, it broke at the neck and the piece was embedded in the pipe.

Since I did not know how to remove it, thinking a special tool was needed, I called a plumber.

When the chap answered my call, he asked me to describe my problem in detail.

Then he told me his terms - he would only come if I agreed to pay him RM60 up front as consultation fee. I agreed.

When the chap arrived, he immediately asked for his fee before even stepping into the house.

Extra costs would be billed separately, he said, after which he went straight into the dry kitchen to look at the broken tap.

Then he took out a broken hacksaw blade four inches long, shoved one end into the pipe, and started sawing the embedded plastic tubing in several places.

In less than 10 minutes, he removed all pieces of the embedded plastic tubing, cleaned the pipe's thread before screwing in the new bibcock.

Another time I had to call for help was when a can of air freshener fell into our toilet bowl.

My wife had tried to flush it down the drain pipe. Unknown to her, the can had got caught in the "S" joint of the drain pipe.

A day later, as more toilet paper got into the toilet bowl, the pipe became blocked. Soon, the water in the toilet bowl was about to overflow.

Fortunately for me, I had befriended a building maintenance officer weeks earlier.

When I asked him how to unclog my toilet, he came right away to the house.

Having looked at the toilet bowl, he asked for a mop. He submerged the mop in the toilet bowl so that all the strands of cloth filled the hole.

Then he gave the mop several strong plunges - just as you would do when pumping a clogged sink. Within seconds, the toilet bowl was unclogged.

Although the chap did not ask for a fee, I paid him for his time and petrol expenses. He told me that plumbers usually charged RM60 as consultation fee per house call - even if it was only to take a look at the problem.

It was expensive, he said, but having seen how to unclog the toilet bowl using a mop, he had learnt how to deal with a similar crisis without having to call the plumber.

Since those incidents, I have learnt to fix broken stuff myself.

The small savings did not make me laugh all the way to the bank, but they liberated me from having to depend on so-called "experts".

At a time when there are so many experts around, what little you don't know will give the next person an edge over you and be your consultant instead.

After all, didn't someone say that in the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is the king.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Any day is a good day, 111111 included

HOW was your date with singularity three days ago? Did you join the thousands of number-worshippers to do something special last Friday?

Or like some of us who were too busy making a living, you were not even aware of the passing of 11.11.11 and had in fact treated it just like any day on the calendar?

It all depends on the degree of your superstitions, one level-headed chap told me.

If you are an optimist, you will sense something auspicious about the number 1 repeated six times.

But then you would have felt the same with 2s or 3s.

And you have every right to feel optimistic about 1, after all, it marks the end of nothingness. In life, the number 1 also means survival.

Being the first, means you are the best and being the best sometimes is all that matters, especially in the rat race.

Do you remember the first time you emerged top in something?

Recall the adrenaline rush as the news hits you and the elation that lasted hours or even days, depending on the degree of your achievement and the acknowledgement it received?

Indescribably good, wasn’t it?

You were not alone if you felt lucky last Friday.

On the morning of Thursday, some punters I know were already smiling all the way to the bank when 1111 came up in one of the gaming draws.

Too bad the number only won the consolation prize.

These punters would have been hysterical had the number come up the first prize.

Of course, it would have been very suspiciously coincidental, considering the odds, should the number have taken pole position in that draw.

No gaming company would be silly enough not to put a cap on such a number, especially against the single-minded tide of punters hitting for 1111.

I was told that the unique date has greatly benefited operators of restaurants and entertainment centres who had good marketing skills.

Some eateries saw sold-out crowd who were celebrating the special occasion. The next killing, smart eatery and entertainment outlet operators can make, will be on Dec 12, next year — if earth still remains in one piece. Remember 2012?

I saw an online poll set up by a website since January, asking its visitors how they felt about 11-11-11.

If the over 7,000 votes received are representative of those who believed in the auspiciousness of unique numbers, then then there is something to cheer about.

According to the poll, 47 per cent of those who voted believed that something good would happen on that day at a global scale. Forty per cent felt nothing would while the remainder felt that something bad would instead.

As you read this, I am sure you will know if you should give more attention to a number than it deserves, especially if your expectation had turned out otherwise.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Mainstream Media News

I have just added the Mainstreamedia Tweets carrying news from all Malaysian Mainstream Media publications printing in English that are online. The feed is at the left bar. If you wish to follow Mainstreamedia and get Tweets straight into your Twitter accounts, go here:!/mainstreamedia

Monday, November 7, 2011

Stick your neck out to help, not to gawk

A couple of weeks back, while on my way to work I was caught twice in a traffic snarl that should not have happened.

A trip that should have lasted no more than 30 minutes took almost twice as long, thanks to two incidents that happened a week apart.

The first traffic snarl was precipitated by an accident on a two-lane stretch involving two women drivers. Save for a small dent on the bumper of the car that was hit from behind, and a crumpled bonnet on the culprit's vehicle, the damage to their pride must have been greater.

Otherwise, why would both women leave their cars on a busy road - and deprive other motorists of their way - to engage in a shouting match? The spectacle attracted the attention of passing motorists who slowed down to rubberneck.

The second traffic crawl I was caught in was again due to rubbernecking - a term coined in the 1980s to describe the action of gawking at road accidents.

A car that had ploughed into a construction site hoarding and got stuck there sparked the jam. Although the actual incident happened hours earlier, the Monday morning incident continued to provide motorists with some amusement.

Unfortunately for one driver who was rubbernecking, the curiosity to catch a glimpse of the ill-fated car cost him. His car was hit by another car, which in turn, was hit by another, causing a pile-up, I was told. Although by the time I passed the spot, the cars had been towed to the side of the road to allow others to pass, smooth traffic flow had already been disrupted. Down several kilometres, the crawl had been reduced to a standstill.

Rubbernecking is quite often the cause of traffic slowdowns, usually more often than road closures, if you pay attention.

Why sane people stick their necks out to look at other people's misfortunes when helping is last on their minds has puzzled me for quite a while. However small an accident or how insignificant an event on the road is, you can bet your last drop of petrol in the tank that there will be rubbernecking.

One chap told me how he tested this theory one day. He parked his car on the emergency lane of a highway, got out and looked curiously skywards. Within minutes cars were slowing down and their drivers were sticking their necks out of their windows to looked skywards.

Several drivers even stopped their cars next to his car, got down and joined him. Only when he told them that he was just enjoying the sight of the blue skies did they leave, with faces red upon realising their folly.

Curiosity on the road can be a good thing if it is followed by willingness to help should the situation require it. Otherwise, rubbernecking when passing an accident scene will not benefit anyone.

While satisfying their curiosity, people who are tempted to rubberneck are not only holding up the traffic, they are preventing emergency vehicles such as ambulances and fire engines downstream from getting to their destinations.

At its worst, rubberneckers are putting their lives and others' into danger as they are on a collision course with other less alert motorists.