Monday, January 18, 2010

Luminox Watches

I was out in Gadong and Kiulap the other day window shopping Luminox watches. I have only heard of Luminox watches over the last 2 months. Apparently His Majesty wears one. The craze caught on at MOD and almost everyone I met wore one. So I thought I will have a look at what this watch is all about.

There are apparently three shops in Brunei which sell these watches, one in Kiulap (same block as Mothercare), one in Gadong (in Centrepoint) and another in Seria (along Baiduri or BIBD). Luminox watches are well known for its illumination system. The watches used a tube system so in the dark you can still use it and these tubes light up for about 10 years.

The watches are American based on Swiss technology. The name itself in Latin means night (nox) light (lumi). The watches are fairly reasonable costing from $300 onwards. The one in Seria is the cheapest and the lady in Centrepoint said that the Seria one is not the authorised centre but selling the watches from an authorised centre based in Miri or something like that.

Anyway, what I wanted to get at is how Luminox watches get well known. You know, despite the technology, the company struggled to make money. It was the American Army that made them famous. It was in 1993 that the US Navy's Sea, Air and Land (SEAL) teams needed a watch to use on their night missions and Luminox worked with them for 9 months and coming out with the first Navy SEAL watch. That was the turning point. In 1999, the US Airforce wanted similar watches for their F-117 Nighthawk stealth pilots.

The company was able to leverage on these and made a name for itself. The question here is would a similar Brunei company given the opportunity would be able to leverage on that opportunity?

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Floods

I have had this cough for quite a while. The medical advice is if your cough persists for more than a week see a doctor. I thought my antibodies are strong enough but the night before, I could not sleep. So first thing today was to drop into the old Borneo Clinic in Sengkurong, now renamed something else, and see my doctor. I was glad it was the same doctor and I came out $50 poorer. Somenone asked why not see a government doctor after all I could probably get away without queuing. You know, I have never done that. If I wanted a faster service, I would always drop into a private doctor and pay my way. I just hoped that this will at least spur the local businesses.

Anyway, not sleeping means watching telly and it was the Haiti earthquake which really got me. Haiti is not exactly among the richest country in the world and to have such a havoc in their country is like what my minister sometimes says 'sudah tah jatuh ditimpa tangga but dihempap batu and etc' It's really bad. No matter how much preparation you have, sometimes you can never be prepared enough. If there is a fund, go donate, the Haitians really need all the help they can get.

Yesterday on Friday afternoon, a group of us MOD officers went round checking all the drainages around the Brunei district. The rain that hit us on Thursday was much heavier than the rain that hit us last year around the same time (227 vs 209). That rain caused a lot of havoc including the completely swamped tunnel. This year we are more prepared. The tunnel failed last year because the back up power gen did not work when the Gadong gen collapsed. We learnt. Practically all the drainage installation which requires power has its own power gen now. The drains are being cleaned and a lot of the major drainage works are being completed. So, there are less floods compared to last year.

We still have to build about 5 retention ponds at least around the Mulaut area. Each pond would have to be around 5 to 10 times the size of the retention pond at Burong Pingai. All excess rain water will be kept there and released only when the tide is low, otherwise there is no point. The hard bit is actually finding the areas large enough especially in the Ban areas. The other countries around the region have enough lessons for us here in Brunei. KL has the smart tunnel where the water is channeled using tunnel which is also built for roads. Most countries build retention ponds but use them as football fields etc during the non rainy season. I used to wonder sometimes why in some countries, the football fields would have dykes surrounding them.

Floods are inevitable regardless, all we can do is to mitigate or lessen their severity. We developed so fast that by concreting everything, we have taken away the earth's ability to cope with the rain. So the rain gets washed to roadside drains which goes to monsoon drains which leads to rivers. But with super high tides like the 2.3 meter high that we have currently, the water does not go out but remains in the drains and overflows if there is too much. Is there anything you can do to help? Yes. Make sure that your property retains trees and shrubs which may be able to absorb some of the rains and even better if you can keep a special tank which can store all the excess water that comes down from the roof. You can release the water after the rain or use them to wash cars or to water the garden afterwards.

I remembered when I was about 7 or 8, I used to help my parents during rainy season to collect all the rain waters. In the early 1970s, water was quite scarce and most times we ended up taking our mandi using really cold water from these storage containers. There were times when we couldn't go to school as there were lots of floods then. I remembered there were times when I had to walk to school through the flood. Take off you shoes and wade your way through. Walking the mile to school was quite fun which kids today don't do that anywmore.

Friday, January 15, 2010

A new ramble

One of my close friends asked today at the mosque how long is my hiatus. Hahaha... When my computer broke down, I thought it would be nice to take a break until a new computer arrived and my espeed reconnected. Well, a new computer has not arrived, but I am making do with my tiny notebook and I have to admit Telbru was really fast in getting my espeed up and running. I dropped into Telbru's office at the Mall on Sunday and by Monday, someone was at home getting my espeed up again. Unfortunately at that time I did not have a computer ready.

Then I was away at the end of December to Singapore and I did a lot of window shopping for computers but at the end, the thought of lugging the box etc, I thought I will just buy one here in Brunei. The computer people at MOD helped me with my PC and we got a quote for a new motherboard. It was $515. I said forget it. I could easily buy a mini Inspiron for that much. So I am still out looking. In the meantime I am suffering from hand cramp fitting my 10 fingers into this little Vaio.

I got nothing to update other than the rambling. Maybe I will do just that. Ramble along and maybe once in a while, something will come up. Wait and see.

Friday, January 01, 2010

Which New Year?

[I wrote the following piece for Brunei Times for the New Year 2008. I thought it is still valid for the New Year 2010. Happy Reading.]

TODAY is the first day of 2008 AD or, to be all-inclusive 2007 CE ("Common Era") since AD stands for the Latin expression Anno Domini — "in the year of our Lord", in reference to Jesus Christ. As the Oxford Dictionary pointed out, "AD" refers strictly to "the Christian Era".

So — if you're not a Christian, why were you singing the old Scottish song "Auld Lang Syne" (written by poet Robert Burns and published in 1796) to celebrate the "New Year" last night?

In the Middle Ages, even the Church was against celebrating new years, calling it paganism. It was not until only about 400 years ago that the beginning of the AD new years were celebrated.

Even then, just as now, not everyone celebrated the same New Year. Celebrating the New Year has always depended on which religion or culture one belongs to.

The Muslims will not be celebrating the New Year until the 8th January, which marks the first day of the sacred month of Muharram and the beginning of the Hijri year 1429. The Jews will celebrate their Rosh Hashanah to mark the new year of 5769 in September. The Chinese for the Chinese New Year 4706, the Korean for their Seollal and the Vietnamese for the Tet will not be celebrating until February 4.

The Sri Lankans will celebrate their Aluth Avurudhu and Puththandu in April and a host of other cultures will celebrate their new years at different times of the year — Iran, March 20 for Norouz; Tamil, April 13 for Vishu; Telugu, March for Ugadi; Thai (for Songkaran) and Cambodia (for Songkan) on April 13; Bengali, April 14 for Pohela Baisakh; and Gujarat in October, a day after the Diwali festival, unlike all other Hindus who will celebrate the New Year on the Diwali itself.

If you study the history of the calendar, even celebrating the New Year on the 1st of January is a bit off. The Gregorian calendar we are using today was based on the old Roman calendar and originally it only had 10 months: December stands for the decimal 10 and the original months derived from Latin, hence September (the seventh month), October (the eighth month) and November (the 9th month). So New Year was on March 1st!

However, as the years went out of sync with the season, the months of January and February were added. Even this did not keep up, and additional leap months were added from time to time to keep the calendar in sync with the four seasons.

In the olden days, celebrating the New Year was not always done on January 1. Some did it on December 25 (Christmas); some, on March 25 (Feast of Annunciation); some on the first Friday of April (Easter); some maintained it on March 1 as well as a number of other dates. As in today's multicultural and multireligion world, the first of January did not always mark the beginning of the New Year.

The "New Year" brings out the animal called "New Year Resolutions". I will be off to the gym sometime later today or maybe tomorrow, where I will see one of the manifestations of these "resolutions".

I have been going for the last three years — not that it has done much to reduce my waistline, but at least it improves my blood circulation. As usual, this January I shall be seeing many new members — all with new-year determination of keeping fit — and with the crowd I will, for sure, lose my favourite parking spot.

By February, some will continue to come but by March, I will get my parking spot back. The thrill of making New Year's resolutions of keeping fit will be gone for most of the new gym members.

New Year's resolutions sound so good when you make them. But keeping them is the hardest. Why? It's always the reality of reaching those goals. It's harder than you imagine. One reason is that we make them when we are down at the end of the year and we need something to look forward to, to make up for what we thought was abysmal laxity. But why is it so hard to maintain the resolutions?

A lot of the failures are because of the target settings that we chose. We give up because some of the New Year's resolution did not produce an overnight change — lack of results. This is because there was a lack of planning. Making lasting or permanent changes in life requires planning.

We set unrealistic goals when they should be specific, measurable, achievable, reasonable and trackable. Reality is very mundane.

So that's the New Year. I might not say "Happy New Year" just yet. Maybe I will say it on January 8 or February 4 or any other days — depending very much on who you are.

Inspirational Quotes

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