LOVE FLYING

When I hear what seems to sound like a Cessna 502 fly overhead, I tend to look up and search for the plane in the sky and fix my gaze on it until it disappears from sight. It brings back memories of the fun flight I had travelling from Decatur to Chicago in Illinois. My first prop flight, first flight sitting next to the “ceiling fan” on the right. Well, yeah. Don’t the props look like ceiling fans. They are about the same size anyway (without the “s”😉).

Cessna 502. Absolutely a fun plane to fly in.

Truth be told is I always look up when any plane flies overhead. I just need to hear the sound of the engines. I still remember the time when I was about 7 years old. I stayed with Uncle Al and Aunty Leen (Albert & Aileen Atkinson). The year – 1965. It was probably the school holidays at that time. Uncle Al was the headmaster of Kampung Pandan School in KL (Kuala Lumpur).

They had a big house on the school grounds. Draw open the hall sliding doors, leads you to the school field. Nearby, was the then Kuala Lumpur International Airport. The Malaysian Air Force used the airport for some of it’s transport aircraft as well.

Every morning, when I was there; I would eagerly wait by the opened sliding door for planes that would fly very low overhead, when they were about to land. I still remember a de Havilland Caribou flying overhead making its decent. It looked like it was going to land on the school field. Well, it did look like that; to a 7-year old boy.

The dinosaur, literally in terms of size; the Airbus A380 super whambo (combination of whale and jumbo elephant); is fast becoming extinct as airlines find it too expensive to maintain. More airlines are pulling it out of service as days go by. Malaysia Airlines was gung-ho about it in the early 2000s, having ordered 6 of them. This may have been one too many. From news reports; 2 of these planes did not have any routes assigned to it.

This also may have been “you got. you think you so great? I oso got” (local slang). Buy first. Plan routes later. It was also timing as the 747 fleet were beginning to age. So, there is good reason. But was MAS, like many other airlines that acquired these beauties; out of sync with the times?

These big birds could pack up to 800 passengers without bulging at the seams. Most airlines may have custom-fitted their A-380s to seat 600 passengers.

Now, to fill 600 seats per flight. That would have been a challenge, as these seats would have had to be filled quickly. Business Development, Marketing and Sales teams would have had their work cut out for them. They had to compete against other airlines offering A380 flights, pricing, optimum flight departure and arrival times, days and date; the list not being exhaustive. These teams had to be on their toes at all times as situations changed faster than a heartbeat.

The next big challenge and the one which eventually signed the retirement of the A-380 and other large 4-engined jets was that two-engined jets were getting the same job done, with two engines less than four, which translated to a huge cost reduction as the average base price of these jets just under-cut the prices of the 4-engined jets.

I think airlines must have seen the writing on the wall (another “on the wall” quote) when they purchased these super-whambos but chose to ignore it as keeping up with the Joneses (other airlines) blinded their long-term judgement.

I had a sense of pride that Malaysia Airlines had the A380s in their stable. To a greater extent, it showed that the airline was modern and forward thinking. From the latest news gathered, Malaysia Airlines had no takers to the 6 A380s from them. They returned them to Airbus in exchange for new long-range twin-engine jets.

A380 super whambo. Isn’t she a beaut?

The Cessna 502 I think, with its swaying from left to right or vice versa when making the approach to Chicago’s O’Hare Airport will remain a fond memory for me. I sat just behind the co-pilot, I had a good view of the instrument panel and its workings. Looking out of the plane, I had excellent all round visibility. Nice!

Looking forward to my next flights.

NOTES:
1. Bilqis Bahari, “No buyers, Malaysia Airlines to return six A380 to Airbus?”; New Straits Times, September 26, 2022

THE BROWN LEATHER CHAIR

Leather has been a “material” if you can call it a material; that I like very much. Great leather shoes, belts, document folders, bags, furniture and more. To me, leather means quality, durability, strength and more. O yeah, and class; too. But really….I didn’t choose to like leather because of all those….words.

When I think back, I can’t remember exactly when I started liking leathers. Probably, when I started my working career.

Brands and advertising? Could this have been the start to my leather liking? Branded leather products means very expensive pricing to the point of it being exclusive. It also means top grade leathers. I was and still am attracted to leathers with advertised exclusivity brands. Nowadays, I look more for handmade products without branding or advertised branding. But the quality of the leather is still excellent.

An example of this is a leather bound notebook with leather tie straps, that I bought from a small, old cottage leather business in Venice, Italy. The tradition of making leather bound note books was 500 years old according to the old gentleman that made this notebook for me. Even the tools used to hot-stamp my name on the notebook, was 500 years old.

The leatherbound notebook I purchased in 2009. The leather is still in excellent condition.

The craftsman setting up the nameplate tools to hot-stamp my name on the notebook. With me and a nice pose from Princess Laura.
The raw, reverse side of the leather. The pages are made from cotton – cotton paper. Notice the rough edges?
The place where I got my leather-bound notebook. The little store on the top of the bridge of shops in Venice, Italy.

The intricate binding of the whole book. Very sturdy.

Many years ago, when I first started my working career; I decided that I wanted to have a brown leather executive office chair. The thing that held me back from getting one, right up till very recently; was the exorbitant price tag that always accompanied such a chair.

I didn’t want to get just any old leather chair or brown leather chair. I wanted a good quality one. One that had character. When you think one that is of good quality and character; you may picture a high back, winged leather chair that was in standard colours – either black or mahogany, with an old man dressed debonair English style, newspaper in one hand, a glass of neat brandy or whiskey in the other; and a cigar or poker pipe in his mouth; in a very dark room lit with a 1.5 volt torch light bulb. Ok Ok, My imagination is getting carried away. No, sitting in a good leather chair is not confined to one of those old English gentlemen’s clubs only.

I like bright, vibrant colours. The atmosphere must be easy going, not stuffy and filled with stiff, upper-lipped, not so friendly people. So, throughout my working career; I had many opportunities to buy one but never did.

Jeannie and I went to my youngest brother, Malcolm’s; and his wife, Uma’s house for dinner last evening. It was a gathering of family and friends, the people that helped make Uma’s 60th birthday party the Saturday before the last; a huge success.

When I walked to the kitchen; there was this brown sort of old-fashioned, yesteryear designed executive office leather chair parked along the hallway. I never thought much of it, until Malcolm was telling someone else that the chair was there because he was about to sell it. Someone had indicated to him online, that he was interested in buying this chair.

I asked Malcolm if the chair was sold, as I had an interest to buy it myself. Malcolm said the guy only indicated that he was interested in buying it; that if he wanted it, he would call Malcolm. So, I seized the opportunity and bought it myself.. Very reasonable price, Very happy with the purchase.

This chair is as retro as you can get.

A lifetime dream come true. Whatever I set to do or wanted to get; I achieved. Some of those achievements were not immediately, like the chair. But they were achieved.

Real retro. The adjustment knobs look like something from the America cars of the “60s.

I believe the same experience can happen to anyone. Please share your comments, experience and excitement that you have had where you wanted something or wanted to accomplish a goal you may have set many years ago and may have even forgotten about it, until… Until one day, it happens, and you may not have planned for it. But it happened. The power of dreams.

BACK TO THE FUTURE

Date: July 12, 2022

A quick trip to the Assemblyperson, Michelle Ng’s office in  SS14, Subang Jaya to collect the  annual gift (birthday?) voucher given to citizens above 60 year old. Hardly any wait. Was more like a dash in, collect the voucher, and dashed out; heading home, which was about 10 minutes away.

Got ready for the big event. anticipation without expectations. Yet there was excitement that was building to a crescendo…

Arrived at 1.55pm for my 2.00pm appointment. Always shying away from the popular Malaysian habit – always late. Reason for this habit: The other person will be late, too.😏 Sure one (Must have the “one” there, then sentence is balanced [noticed I left out the “the” before the word “sentence”? Then, more “oomph”]).😂

I am at “The Coffee Academics” at the Pavillion, Kuala Lumpur; waiting with bated anticipation to meet Sharon Ehler – after “many” years (not wanting to reveal sensitive information like age for example😘). I am more used to her being “Sharon Fredericks”. “Ehler” is her married name.

Sharon, in the centre.

I’m serious!

She is coming with her elder sister, Lorraine; whom I suspect is Sharon’s chaperone. This article is supposed to be with all seriousness, I mean  straight face serious; but by the looks of things, it is heading south. Ai ya ya yai,🎵 Ai ya ya yai.🎶

At the memorable camping trip in Templer Park. Sharon is first from the right. Lorraine is third from right.

New York, New York! Manhattan women are dressed in silk and satin… New York, New York, it’s a helluva town!!

And they are fashionably late, not Malaysian late. The difference is not that they use different time pieces. One is “fashion” fashion, the other one got the “one” one is Malaysian time. I still have not understood how this communication works; but a Malaysian communicating with another Malaysian, totally makes sense.

I chose The Coffee Academics because the ambience looked pleasant and comfortable. While penning / keytapping this article on the keyboard of my Samsung Galaxy Z-Fold 3 (In all my earlier articles mentioning the Fold 3, I left out the “Z”. Never too late to add it on😟); I did a quick research on this cafe, and found out that it had just set up shop in April of this year.

A few minutes into seemingly looking busy at work, on the “Z”-Fold3, they arrived. Her big, smile lit up, our long, long embrace and  the first few words of greetings – this is the same Sharon I knew from back then. Exactly! Wow! I was blown away!

Nice to meet up with her chaperone, Lorraine, too. The last time we met was about 3 years. They were accompanied by Lorraine’s son, Matthew.

At The Coffee Academics with Sharon and Lorraine.

Going down memory lane brought many, many wonderful long moments of laughter and smiles, over long blacks served in big (we had to reiterate to the waiter “big”) cups (saucers  not essential. We were ok if they did come with the big mugs). We had an orange muffin, and a couple of fairly soft brownie cookies with molten chocolate oozing from its centre when they were broken and shared between us, too.

Then, we went into the typical Eurasian mode. This is when we are related to everyone or everyone is related to us and whether we knew this person or that.  Matthew was pretty much on his own, as he was lost in our conversation.  He did the smart thing, smiled and played video games on his phone.

Though we talked a lot about our present and our past, there were many quiet moments, too; which I enjoyed thoroughly. In those quiet moments filled with love, gentleness and smiles, I resonated in the aura of calm that exuded in Sharon. Ain’t she sweet? That itself, spoke volumes.

Back to the future, today; we have our families, our loved ones; the ones who are the centre of our lives, whom we are blessed with.

We spent the next hour or so, “walking off” the long sit down at The Coffee Academics. Sharon and Lorraine shopped a bit. I just accompanied them.

Our meet-up ended at about 6.00pm. Lorraine leaves for the U.K. early next week. Sharon will be around til (I seldom use the word “un”til…don’t know why. Maybe it’s because I don’t plan on “un”doing anything(?). ‘Til sounds much better, maybe a tad laid back) the second week of August.

It was a reunion worth keeping – our friendship has become even stronger.

Ai ya ya yai… Ai ya ya yai!

Frank Sinatra: New York, New York

The Beatles: Ain’t She Sweet

WHEN I’M 64, I PLAN TO…

They (Who are the “they”?) say, “the road down the hill is a slippery one once you hit 40”. No kidding!

It’s like the gas pedal has hit the floorboard and the brakes…Where’s the brake pedal? There is no brake pedal!!! Wah lau! (1) Crazy or what???!!! (Malaysian expression of surprise and anger) 😠🥶😰😱 How come no brake pedal??? Who designed this vehicle with no brake pedal?!! Why is this not mentioned in the vehicle of life manual???!! No brakes so not in the instruction manual…Duh!

When I look back or try to look back at when I was 40; it was in the last century. Let me clear the 🕸️cobweb. The year was 1998. Sounds so far away. Actually, it is not. Really. It was just 24 years ago, something like around the corner.

Clouded by the distance in time, I was a life insurance agent. It was the year I achieved MDRT (Million Dollar Round Table), closing 168 individual policies.

Late June of that year, I attended the MDRT Annual Meeting in Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A. Jeannie, my wife (Yes, I dream of Jeannie…and got her); accompanied me on this trip. While I attended the meetings, she visited the museums there.

This annual event is a gathering of MDRT qualifiers worldwide. It was at this meeting where my name tag had a “150 Lives” ribbon attached to it; recognising the 168 lives (life insurance policies) I sold for that year.

On, July 4th, 1998, we flew from Chicago to Los Angeles, where we holiday-ed, spending most of our time in Hollywood, Disneyland, Universal Studios and San Diego. In Hollywood,  we stayed at a hotel (can’t recall its name now) directly behind Holiday Inn.

I am at the motor mechanics workshop, getting the car serviced, replacing the hydraulic struts for the rear door as they are worn out, and had the broken left wing mirror set glued back on after a cop on a big motorcycle whacked into it (misjudged his distance) in a traffic jam. I decided not to take action against him or press for repair payment as he was a young cop, probably not too long on the beat. I let him go because I did not want to leave a blemish on his record. He has his whole life ahead. Maybe if it was someone else whose car was damaged; the cop may have had to pay for the damage.

Do I feel 64? No, because I am not… at least not yet. Don’t even know what it feels like to be 64. Anyway, I read an article somewhere (can’t remember where), that there were studies done in Ireland that resulted in a finding: 80 is the new 50. So, this means that I should be 40 now. Yay!

So, what am I doing as a person so near the age of 64? A few things I am not doing: Digging weeds out from the garden just to past my time or watching a pot lot of TV. I am not sitting around, waiting for things to happen. I make things happen.

Doing this requires a lot of work. I don’t think I have the energy for this. (Fido Dido5, LowYat Forum; Lowyat.net)

I continue to write, something I am passionate about. Through these writings, I hope to be able to spread “goodness” to all others😁. I don’t know if I should put some straight-jacket serious writing into it as well…well, to make it a more seriousness serious affair. Wot! Wot! (British way of asking, “What say you?). I will travel to many more countries.

There are countless untold stories to tell. They are waiting to flow from my mind to my hands to have them typed / written out. Whether I will write in “reporter mode” or write from experience, or both…I don’t know. I don’t know how the road to story telling or story writing will turn out, let’s see. Stories that are waiting to be shared.

NOTES
‘Wah lau’ is merely an exclamation, the way English-speaking people use ‘Oh, my God‘. You can hear ‘wah lau’ when people are surprised, or excited to explain something. http://www.mysmu.edu/faculty/jacklee/singlish_W.htm

LAURA

RCIA does have its perks, so it looks. In late 1993, this young lady, attending one of the two RCIA groups; caught my eye. I was one of the facilitators for the group.

Visited Jeannie in her hometown in Kampar, Perak during Chinese New Year in February, 1994. Spent the whole day with her. She took me sightseeing to all the local spots, including the railway station.

The Kampar railway station must have done the trick.

The Mandarin ducks.
One of the countries Jeannie and I visited on our first trip to Europe, was The Netherlands. This was part of a European tour we caught from London, England. So, on this trip in The Netherlands, we toured Amsterdam and stayed for the night. Our hotel was by one of the many canals Amsterdam is famous for. Our room was on the ground floor, with a large sliding door leading out to a sort of garden and beyond that was the canal.

We saw many Mandarin ducks in the garden. So, we crushed some cracker biscuits and started feeding these ducks with the crumbs. We soon ran out of crumbs and walked back to our room. The Mandarin ducks followed us back, too. We had to close the sliding door quickly to prevent the ducks from coming in. The ducks were pecking at the glass door and only went away after a long while.

This was a bedtime story that Laura loved to listen. Almost every night for many years, she would ask for this same story. She always had the same enthusiasm about it and never got tired of it.

Laura, this is the first time, ever; you are seeing the pictures below of these Mandarin ducks. Searched high and low for them until I found them.

The story of the mandarin ducks.
The mandarin ducks coming up the porch of our room in Amsterdam, Holland.

9.15am, Wednesday, June 27th, 2001; a child was born. We named her Laura Kristen Atkinson

What joy! What blessings! Laura Kristen Atkinson

Laura’s baptism, August 2001. With us are her godparents; Dato’ Seri Jeffrey and Datin Seri Joyce Raymond.

Laura: I thought he was supposed to see that I sleep.

Anne Reburn: I want To Hold Your Hand

Smiles

Camera shy. Not really.
Yes, I am cute.

With Grandma and Grandpa Atkinson

Love

About to show her “Zhang Ziyi” martial arts stunts. She’s dressed for it. Location: A park in Perth, Western Australia.
Christmas 2007: Christmas caroling with her cousin, Sarah.

She’s up to something! ❤️
On one of our river cruises in Perth, Western Australia
Check out my shades

Freemantle, Western Australia

Arriving at Clark International Airport, The Phillipines in 2005

Beaconhouse Kindergarten. Laura was one of the 7 pioneer students for the Beaconhouse brand in Malaysia.
All of the June birthday celebrants. Laura, Kenneth de Souza and Joel D’Cruz are all on June 27th.

Graduation from Beaconhouse pre-school in 2007.

With her cousin Justin Ow.

One for the camera

…and another😏😉❤️

The competitor in her.
Ye-e-e-ees..sss…

At the Ferrari store, opposite Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II , Duomo; in Milan, Italy.

In Venice, Italy; during the Carnevale di Venezia (Italian for The Carnival of Venice) An annual festival that ends on Shrove Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday.

Laura drew this with an app on my Samsung Note 2, when she was 10 years old.

Club Med beach in Terengganu, Malaysia

Cousins from the Ong side.
Cousins from the Ong side.

Music graduation.

Laura with her grandparents.
Having ice-cream at Patisfrance in Taipan, USJ Subang Jaya.

Sweet 16, with cousins and friends from the teens group at Sunday School, church and swimmers from her swim team.

With the teens from church.
Swim teammates

She’s ready to par- teh…

In Malacca, on one of the swimming championship competition weekends. Shopping for yummy stuff.

Home was more at the pool and all the swim races and championships.

Overall champion
The Selangor team

Joy

With Coach Mark Chua and Selangor teammates at the Bukit Jalil National Aquatic Centre, Malaysia.

With cousins, and Rachel Arnold (3rd From left). Tim is Alana’s husband.
Winning the Japanese International School cross-country race.

Laura’s Confirmation at St. Thomas More Church, Subang Jaya, Selangor.

With Archbishop Julian Low. “Teresa” is Laura’s chosen confirmation name.

Just a small part of her medal tally.

Fun with us, her parents. 😁

Penang, part of her holiday visit of some of the states in Malaysia before moving to the U.S. to further her tertiary studies.

In Penang.

In Brinchang, Cameron Highlands, for coffee.

Now, this is how to play billiards! About to take the perfect shot. At Arcadia, Cameron Highlands.
Leaving on a jetplane. Won’t know when I’ll be back again. Leaving for the U.S.

Swimming for Millikin University Swimming.

Hauling medals and setting records for Millikin University Swimming
Us family, celebrating with Laura (Live – streaming. Laura is on the phone in Illinois) her 19th birthday.

Laura, with Janet Jin nee Danker in New York.
Just moved in about a month ago.

With her boyfriend, James.

As you can see from all these pictures; you have touched the lives of everyone; especially us; mummy and I.

Happy 21st birthday, Laura. What a super fantastic milestone. Mummy and I are so proud of you, for who you are. We wish you an awe-inspiring life, filled with all your dreams come true. We love you.❤️❤️❤️

Himesh Patel, Lily James: I Want To Hold Your Hand; YesterdayMovieVEVO

Top Gun Maverick: The movie to watch?

Tatlerasia.com

Don’t think, just do! Go by instinct, by gut feeling.

What a show! Thrilling for guys like me who love aeroplanes or in American English – “airplanes”. I love cars, well almost everything in motion…”love in emotion, que sera que sera”. Wait a sec… that’s “Lost in Emotion”.

Watching “Top Gun” (1?) in the later part of the 1980s was super thrilling. The movie was on a rented (we used to rent movies those days) VHS video-cassette tape. I watched it in my bedroom on a 20″ tube tv (with the big box at the back of it). The tv set and the video tape player (that plays the VHS video-cassettes) were my brother, Terence’s. We used to shar the bedroom back then. He and my late brother, Nigel; used to rent these videos from the shop nearby. As for me, if there was a movie on that interested me, I’d watch it. I wasn’t really a movie buff, still am not. But I was glad that I had the opportunity to watch this movie, “Top Gun.

Watching it with the sound turned up loud in a small room with the lights off, gave it some effects of a cinema. Watching the F-14 Tomcats in action, take off and land on a short runaway. it’s tactical maneuvers was amazing. It was to me, especially since I used to assemble airplane (American spelling) kits. I had quite a collection.

My dad was the one who inspired me to build / assemble aircraft because he used to build / assemble and paint (yes, paint) these kits. He is so artistic. He painted especially the camouflage colours to scale. I was not and still am not artistic. The paint jobs I did on some of my kits were disasters.

When you watch the short video clips below, make sure to turn up the sound and hopefuilly you will be watching them on a big screen, maybe with a Sensurround sound bar to enjoy the clips to their fullest potential.

By Vudu

There was a lot of hype in the promotion of “Topgun Maverick” over the last two years. Its release was delayed by two years mainly due to the worldwide sufferings of the Covid-19 outbreaks. Nonetheless, with all the tease short burst video clips, media interviews and promotions; the hyperbole intertest was kept hot with excitement.

All that hyperbole has paid off. It sure got the attention that they wanted, probably more. Every second of it!

Phoenix’s (Monica Barbaro) 2-finger “It’s a go”, take off signal; will be, if it has not already become; a worldwide iconic signal used by many people for “it’s a go”. That is for sure.

DANNY RAMIREZ, GLEN POWELL, MONICA BARBARO (PHOENIX), DIRECTOR JOSEPH KOSINKI AND LEWIS PULLMAN ON THE SET OF TOP GUN: MAVERICK FROM PARAMOUNT PICTURES, SKYDANCE AND JERRY BRUCKHEIMER FILMS. People.com

“Captain, what is that?” “It is one of life’s mysteries, sir.” “The end is inevitable. Your kind is heading for extinction.” “Maybe so, sir. But not today.”

The smart a*s quips are just as spicy as the action. The video above shows the abrupt 90 degree climb.

Jeannie and I sat under the sky of Malaysia’s hosting of its inaugural Formula 1 in 1999. We were treated to a short aerial show by the Royal Malaysian Air Force featuring the F-18 Hornet and the Russian made Mig-29s. The guys flying the F-18s did the abrupt vertical climb, directly above us. Maybe, not as dramatic as Maverick and the rest, but us being there at that time and watching this live did the trick. We were thrilled.

Maverick with the P-51 Mustang. Impawards.com

HOW A P-51 MUSTANG WORKS: The plane that Maverick tinkered with in his spare time. Animagraffs by Jacob O’Neal

This aircraft used for the Mach 10 flight is designed by Skunk Works, a division of Lockheed Martin. It looks similar to the SR-71; which itself is a prize winner of any standard in aircraft aviation. The SR-71 was also built by Lockheed-Martin.

The SR-71, unofficially known as the “Blackbird,” is a long-range, advanced, strategic reconnaissance aircraft developed from the Lockheed A-12 and YF-12A aircraft. The first flight of an SR-71 took place on December 22, 1964, and the first SR-71 to enter service was delivered to the 4200th (later, 9th) Strategic Reconnaissance Wing at Beale AFB, California, in January 1966. The U.S. Air Force retired its fleet of SR-71s on January 26, 1990, because of a decreasing defense budget and high costs of operation. The USAF returned the SR-71 to the active Air Force inventory in 1995 and began flying operational missions in January 1997. Throughout its nearly 24-year career, the SR-71 remained the world’s fastest and highest-flying operational aircraft. An air-to-air overhead front view of an SR-71A strategic reconnaissance aircraft. The SR-71 is unofficially known as the “Blackbird.”

@Tom Cruise: It would be great that theaters can be built with screens all round 360 degrees, meaning all round the walls, ceiling, floor; so that viewers can be so much more immersed in the movie, with near real-like experiences. For instance, the viewers can experience the 2 minute 30 seconds run to the target, seeing what you the actor / pilot is seeing. The whole cinema room is one big cinema. This brings the Sensurround sound and viewing to the next level. “Don’t think. Just do!” Wishful thinking… or is it?

ACTORS AND ACTRESSES:
Tom Cruise
Val Kilmer
Miles Teller
Jennifer Connelly
Monica Barbaro
Glenn Powell
Jon Hamn
Ed Harris
Jean Louisa Kelly
Lewis Pullman
LyLiana Wray
Manny Jacinto
India Everett
Chelsea Harris
Kara Wang

NOTES

Tom Cruise follows me on Twitter @AlanIanAtkinson. I am honoured.


1. Video Cassette tape is about the size of a paperback novel and about half the thickness of an average novel. A paperback novel is a story (hence novel), usually fiction; printed in book form. This is for the uninitiated – the millennials. Hopefully, they have an inkling of what a book is, what with almost everything you read today is read from a screen.

Lisa Lisa Cult Jam with “Lost in Emotion” https://www.youtube.com/user/FreesyleJCuda

I DREAM OF JEANNIE

28 years ago (actually, a day to 28 years); on January 19th, 1994; I was in Subang Jaya and I called up this lady / girl / gal and told her I was nearby her office, just around the corner. Her office was then in MUI Plaza, Jalan P. Ramlee, Kuala Lumpur. As those of you who are familiar with Subang Jaya and Kuala Lumpur, know that the distance between them – definitely not a stone’s throw away. But heck, I wanted to get a date with this lady. I asked her out for lunch and she said, “yes”!

Now, I was in a bit of a fix. It was about an hour to her lunchtime and I had to maneuver through what Kuala Lumpur was notorious for: it’s massive traffic jams.

Somehow; this lady had magical powers

I Dream of Jeannie Bottle, Genie Bottle, Handpainted 1964 Jim Beam Bottle |  #310123100

as I managed to get to her office in time that was thinner than a strand of hair. No coincidence that her name was Jeannie. I don’t believe in coincidences.

By the way, lunch was at Macdonald’s at The Weld, which was the building just next door to MUI Plaza. We had prosperity burgers (Chinese New Year, ma! Got to throw in a few “ma”s and “meh”s to flavorize the sentences – Chinese style). I still remember the dress she wore that day.

Though I knew a lot about things at that time (I was a life insurance agent and was supposed to know just about everything. The truth is I didn’t, and still don’t. I am trying to figure out how an atom is formed [nah! At one time maybe, no longer now]); I didn’t know it was her birthday. And, she didn’t tell me until I found out several days later.

Jeannie and I started dating and the rest as “they” (not sure who they are) say, is history.

Here is Jeannie with me; my cousin, Richard Harding; Keith Ganesan and colleagues from the life insurance industry
On the white sandy beaches of Kuantan, Pahang, Malaysia.
Glamourous with Spongebob Squarepants style shades.

Laura’s Christening, two months after she was born.
Cake-cutting, celebrating Laura’s christening. Left to Right: Me; my cousin and Laura’s Godfather, Dato Seri Jeffrey Raymond; Laura’s Godmother, Datin Seri Joyce Raymond; Jeannie; the star – Laura, in Jeannie’s arms; my nieces Ashley and Alana Atkinson.
Jeannie with Laura
Laura’s third birthday. Alright, alright… I counted the candles.

As you can see, our lives are surrounded by family and the many celebrations like birthdays.

This was in Makati, Manila, The Philippines.
On one of our travels.

Jeannie has always had the Jeannie’s touch with people – with family and friends; with people from the world over. She is very approachable and adapts and assimilate with the cultures very easily.

As you may have guessed by now, it is Jeannie’s birthday 🎂 today. Laura video-called from the U.S., 3 minutes before midnight of today, to bring in and start the celebrations. She and I, together with our families; have been blessed with Jeannie in our lives. May Jeannie be blessed with God’s choicest blessings🙏 today and many, many more awe-inspiring years to come.

roma, italy

Roma, F8 Tributo, Monza SP1, Aventador, Huracan, Gelato, pizza, pasta, Illy, Lavazza, caffe moka, Benetton, Armani, Prada, Versace, Milan, Florence, Pisa – everything Italian.

For the car enthusiast, “Roma, F8 Tributo, Monza SP1, Aventador, Huracan” refer to models of legendary Ferrari and Lamborghini supercar marques. Italy is also home to Alfa Romeo and Maserati.

Gelato Italian ice cream, pizza, pasta, Illy, Lavazza, caffe moka all refer to food and beverages.

Yes, you’ve got to have one of these to prove that you’ve been shopping in Italy – Benetton, Armani, Prada, Versace. Question is, are these still made in Italy? Italy is also home to many excellent quality products that are made by small businesses.

One criteria that I look out for is that the products have to be “Made in Italy”.

Ferrari leather and braided belt – Made in Italy

Ferrari leather and braided belt – Made in Italy.

Coming to Italy, you have to visit at least one of these cities to say that you’ve been to Italy – Milan, Florence, Pisa. Oh yes, how can I leave out perhaps the most famous of all – Venice?

Date: January / February 2009.

Jeannie was in Italy with gift-of-the-gab, renowned, Chef Wan; and his crew on a shoot of some food products. They got in and stayed in Vasanello, a little town, half an hour away or about 20 kilometers from Orte.

Jeannie, at “home” in Vasanello, Italy

Vasanello has a population of 4,249. (1) It is about 80 kilometers north of Rome.

Princess Laura, sitting like how a princess does; in the foyer, at “home” in Vasanello, Italy; enjoying a bit of sunlight during winter.

Some of the initial scenes like the swimming pool were of the large house we stayed in. We had to hitch a ride from our hosts whenever we wanted to go to town. In town, we had to catch a cab to the railway station in Orte. Orte is about an hour to Rome by train.

Travelling to and fro Orte from Vasanello, we had to pass the ancient part of the town which was carved into the mountains hundreds of years ago. People still live in that part of town. Cavemen?

The carved out mountain looks nice, with its face (walls) painted in many colours. This mountain will be on the right, just across the valley, as we come into Orte from Vasanello.

Orte, a town, too; but larger than Vasanello.

The short movie clip below was mainly shot in Rome. (2) It was February 14, 2009; when Jeannie, Chef Wan and gang met Laura and I when we just arrived in Rome. Chef Wan and all his antics. He used my Leica camera to take many pictures of us. Those were the days when cameras on phones were just beginning to show up. We went shopping at the streets which homed brands like Prada, Benetton, and Panerai. Eerrr…no; not Panerai. That was in Milan.

More of Italy to come, in time; untold stories and more pictures.

With the centurions on the first day in Roma.
Ok. You caught me with the chips.
On the Spanish steps? Why, in Rome, of course!
The Vatican on the first day in Rome.
The Parliament, and the Colosseum. Caesar’s palace is on the right (not in the picture). I found it very interesting to note how this whole complex was built with bare hands and no gadgets. Looking at he model of this complex at a coffee shop from across the street (this picture was taken from the coffee shop). A scaled model of this complex is at this coffee shop.

The chapel at the Rome airport.

italy; Film shot by Freddie. Feb 3 – 15, 2009. (2)

NOTES:

  1. As of 2010, Wikipedia
Arrivederci roma, Mafalda Minnozzi

IT’S IN THE AIR

It’s one of those times in the year when I seem to feel groggy throughout the day. I have a light, nagging or annoying perpetual headache that does not seem to go away.

So, I know it is that “time of the year” or period. I seem to get into this situation at this time, every year. I don’t know why, really. There are no snow blizzards here where we are hemmed in or holed out at home or any place we are at. For me, it is the raining season. Though it rains throughout the year in Malaysia due to its tropical climate, from this time in November, right though to January or February each year; this dull mood, sense of dej-a-vue sets in.

At times. or most of the time; it sets off the sinus problem I have. Most of the time, pain accompanies it. So, you know, it can be miserable. Several trips to the doctor during this period to get medication to soothe me or lessen the pain or even remove the pain. But cure does not seem to be available.

Maybe, it’s something in the air.

As I write this, I can hear the rumbling of thunder in a distance. It is raining, a soft-to-slightly strong, drizzle. The time now is 1.07am.

It can’t be the cooler temperatures in general that we usually experience annually this period of time. I have climbed Mt Kinabalu in Sabah (also known as “The Land Below The Wind”), Malaysia; twice. It is the tallest mountain in South East Asia at 4095 metres high. Temperatures are single digit Celcius cold. Accompanied by the winds, colder still.

On top of Mt Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia. This is South East Asia’s highest peak.

On my first trip up; it was heavy rain and super strong winds with visibility at about zero due to the low hanging clouds, which made the climb to base camp challenging; and that’s putting it mildly. No issue then, except for the unnerving cold, the strong winds and the rain. But no sinus issues then.

This picture of Mt Kinabalu was taken across the valley, at the Kundasang War Memorial. We were on our way up to Mt. Kinabalu.

On an occasion, when we were in Perth, Australia; my cousin, Brendon Surin and his wife, Ruth; thought it’d be fun to go to the beach just out of Perth. They took my late brother, Nigel his wife Shirley, my wife Jeannie and I there, but at midnight, in the middle of winter. Duncan, Brendon’s youngest brother (my cousin brother. Well, in Malaysia; that is how they describe [My] your cousin’s brother, literally.), joined us, too.

Isn’t my cousin’s brother my cousin as well?🤨 Just saying.

That night at the beach, where we sat with our backs against the ocean to block the blizzardly styled winds from blowing onto our faces; we hardly spoke. We were too busy chattering and shivering. These Aussies have a weird sense of enjoyment. Haha.

Well, with all that bad weather (at least to us, it was); I did not had any sinus issues. Maybe, it was because it was in the month of August?

Italy was in winter when we on holiday there. It is a beautiful country with lots and lots of postcard sceneries. The cold winter was fine with me. We spent time at Bormio, a town in the north of Italy with the picturesque southern part of the Swiss Alps as its backdrop. Bormio is 3 and a half hours away from the Swiss border.

Postcard style, scenery. On our way to Bormio, from Milan.
Snow in Bormio. Laura experienced snowfall for the first time.

Winter in Bormio, North Italy.

Bormio, Northern Italy; from our hotel.

Winter in Vactican City

Winter in Vactican City. Resting against a pillar, just under the Pope’s (Pope Benedict) apartment. Notice how sunny it is here?

Winter – another very sunny day. At the Coliseum – no, not the relic at Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (though it looks about the same age). This is in Rome, Italy.

Winter – At a cafe in Pelugia. The staircase leads to the toilets! That’s it. Period.

In all these pictures, you see me having a good time, no indication of the suffering soccertash…er, I mean sinus.

I have come to deduce that it is not the cold weather or even the wintery weather that affects me and sets off my seasonal sinus. And it is not in any other country, except here, in Malaysia; during this monsoon season….I think that the monsoon winds and rains that blow over this part of Malaysia brings together with them, something in the air, that affects me. That “something” has not been identified… yet.

Does anyone else have this issue? Please let me know in the comments.