Friday, September 25, 2009

A Dazzling Day

Waking up at 6.25am, I washed my face, threw some clothes on, grabbed my camera and made my way up Lorong Sekilau 17 to the top of the mound. There I witnessed the beginning of the new day as the earth rotated into view of the fiery ball we call the Sun. The scenes were, as usual, but in different ways, stunning.

This all occurred before 7.05am and then it was all over. I can't believe what I've been missing out on by mindlessly sleeping through this daily feast from the skies.

Later this evening I felt privileged to be playing badminton (albeit with tennis strokes very much in mind) under peach coloured clouds beneath clear blue skies. It produced a wonderfully warm lighting effect.

Waking up to see the sunrise has become an integral part of my day. It is both a peaceful and powerful, awe-inspiring, fleeting moment which deeply impresses upon my mind each morning.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Manchester Derby Day

My throat is still a little heavy and sore this morning. I sound like when I was an adolescent going through puberty with that suddenly deep voice breaking through my voicebox. Thanks to Michael Owen's unbelievable stoppage time winner, this condition might last all day.

It was the return of Carlos Tevez which was one of the main talking points in the lead-up to the match.

He was roundly booed every time he touched the ball which I thought was just a little harsh given the work rate and effort he put into his two years with the red half of Manchester. The Old Trafford crowd were particularly happy when he was cautioned midway through the first half.

And it all started so brightly for Man. Utd with Wayne Rooney ghosting into the box, and in an act which I can only decribe as the parting of the blue sea, Man. City's defenders crumbled around him as he slotted the ball under Given for a rapid start.

Ben Foster made a blunder for Man. City's equaliser, allowing Tevez to chase down a lost cause, nab the ball from his grasp and square for Gareth barry to slot home from 12 yards. It was a day full of mistakes from both sides, but Foster's gaffe was an absolute gift.

United came out of the blocks quickly in the second half, the majestic Giggs crossing perfectly for Fletcher to head home four minutes after the interval. But within minutes, Man. City had levelled again when United's defence simply allowed Bellamy all the time in the world to cut inside and fire an unstoppable shot into the top corner.

Man Utd were dominating the second period though and if it wasn't for Shay Given they would have been out of sight. With ten minutes remaining Giggs sent over a wonderful ball which Fletcher met again for a carbon copy of his earlier goal, to surely give United the three points.

But awfully for Ferdinand, he gifted the ball to Bellamy in the 90th minute as he tried to scoop it over his head, failing miserably. Bellamy ran the length of the United half and calmly tucked it past Foster from an acute angle. How I laid in to Rio after that. I really thought his lazy error had cost us the game.

With four minutes added-on time, United pushed to find a winner. When Rooney stood over a free-kick near the half-way line, the clock had already spilled over to it's sixth minute. When that free-kick was headed away by the first defender, I expected to hear the referee's whistle and two points lost, but it didn't come. Amazingly, the game continued. Perhaps Richards and Wright-Philipps were expecting the same, because they completely switched off in what happened next. Rooney lofted the ball skywards and when Giggs collected the loose ball, he threaded a perfect pass through the gap to the on-rushing Owen. I don't remember him touching the ball once since he came on, but this first touch was elegant and his second touch was even better, slotting the ball over Given's despairing hand and into the bottom corner of the net.

Old Trafford erupted, my apartment erupted, it was the most complete and utter joyous disbelief!

Mark Hughes will be livid about the amount of stoppage time added on, but Alex Feguson was ecstatic at putting Man. City back in their place with a 4-3 win and all bragging rights safely with the red half of Manchester as it should be. Michael Owen proved what a world-class, quality finisher he is with this two-touch cameo to bring the points to Old Trafford. What a fantastic match and a most dramatic ending!


Friday, September 18, 2009

Aquarium Update

The excitement of having tiny fish swimming around an aquarium has all but gone, although I do still watch them now and again and their beautiful body artwork.

However, I have to report the passing of 3 of them to causes unknown. Maybe the changing of their water disturbed their tiny little bodies. I heard that temperature changes can throw them off. Perhaps I fed them too much. The third of our fish to depart this life was my personal favourite whom I had named Xavier. It was sad to see his tummy ballooning until I woke up yesterday morning to find him lying prostrate on the stony floor with no signs of life. I hope I didn't overfeed him, although none of the others have had the same problem.

Anyway, we are down to 5 now. Maybe there were too many fish for such a small aquarium. Well, so far they seem happy now, the remaining five. Hopefully I won't have to report any more deaths for quite a while!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

U.S. Open Men's Singles Final

Well, I must admit that I wasn't going to bother writing a piece on the U.S. Open Men's final. I was prepared to just feel bitter, drown my sorrows with some silent treatment for half a day, and keep replaying in my mind where it went wrong.

Yes, Juan Martin Del Potro caused a major upset by overcoming Roger Federer in this morning's U.S. Open final. It went the distance to 5 sets, the Argentine coming from behind to prevail 3-6, 7-6, 4-6, 7-6, 6-2.

It was pretty hard to take defeat, as it always is, although not quite as difficult as Federer's loss in the Aussie Open final earlier in the year while he was still chasing Sampras' record. Now he's the Grand Slam outright record holder, it's not as bad. After mouthing some negative remarks about Del Potro and Argentinians being cheats, I realised that he really did play a great game, was nerveless and handled the pressure well. Maybe Rog had other things on his mind, his daughters perhaps; maybe he's the tiniest bit more relaxed or complacent now that he's over the Grand Slam record hill; or it might just be that Del Potro took his chances and played better today.

Congratulations to him, but he'll find it tough to keep up these sort of performances and win more Grand Slams. (Look what's happened to Roddick and Djokovic).

For Federer, he must now analyse his defeat and assess what went wrong, and come back better and stronger for next year's Australian Open. The tennis world is becoming increasingly intriguing, with more young players rising through the ranks to emerge as top challengers.

Just as a footnote, 5 of the top 6 players in the world now hold Grand Slam titles. Federer has 15, Nadal 6, Roddick 1, Joker-vic 1, Del Potro 1. But who's missing from the list? Yes that's right, Andy 'cannot-win-a-major' Murray. He must be feeling pretty down after this morning's events. He is not part of the current elite group. How many more chances does he need to win one? How many more times will he be hyped up only to easily fall each time? Del Potro has made the breakthrough at the tender age of 20.

We look forward now to the end of season Masters Series in London where the top 8 ranked players will battle it out to finish as 2009 champion.

I wouldn't be surprised if Murray wins it. The others have got to let him win something, although what would it prove about him as a player or about his season? Absolutely nothing.

So long.

Monday, September 14, 2009

US Open semi-finals

Waking up this morning I knew that Del Potro had stunned Nadal by taking the first set 6-2. I remember the fist-pump I executed. Just like a traditional Nadal fist-pump, but in favour of the Argentinian. It's not often that I find myself cheering on an Argentinian, but Del Potro was the subject of my very best wishes last night.

Heading straight to Skysports this morning, I was somewhat surprised by the shocking scoreline, 6-2, 6-2, 6-2 to the 20-year-old Del Potro! At the same time I was ecstatic that the Spaniard had fallen and wouldn't be in the final against Federer.

For yes, Federer has made his 6th straight final at Flushing Meadows, with a straight sets win over the professional imitator, not so good tennis player, Novak Joker-vic. The final score read 7-6, 7-5, 7-5 in Rog's favour.

Fed is looking in great form and I'm extremely confident that he will sweep aside Juan Martin Del Potro in Monday's final. After all, the Swiss has never lost a Grand Slam final to anyone other than Nadal, and I don't see that record ending here.

Del Potro will have shocked himself by coming this far, but experience, class, talent, and big-match nerves all lie with Federer. I'm expecting a close final at the start, but nevertheless a straight sets victory for the great man.

Here is Federer with a magic moment near the end of his semi-final with Novak Joker-vic...

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Falling Stars?

Is Andy Murray even a star in the first place? Anyway, more seeds continue to fall in the early rounds at Flushing Meadows. This time it's Mr. Predictable, Andy Murray who is so good at talking up his chances, yet so awful in delivering.

It was hilarious to hear the news of his thrashing by some Croat most of us have not heard of. 7-5, 6-2, 6-2 is a comprehensive beating, and all this idle talk that Murray is finally ready to win a Grand Slam can finally be put to bed again. I really don't know where these supposed tennis experts get all this rubbish from. What has Murray done on the big stage to merit him being ready to win a Grand Slam?


That's one tricky player out of the way for Federer. I'll just be looking for Nadal to run out of steam in one of his next three possible matches against top players, and then the title will surely be going to Federer yet again.

In Andy Murray's case, the media hype most probably doesn't help, especially when he is only an average player who wins the small tournaments but can't handle the big time.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Something smells fishy...

I had wanted one of these for quite a while. Our friend had suggested we start with something small and easy to maintain. Last night we got just what we wanted. After taking Lauren to the clinic to get something for her itchy skin, I spotted it to the right on the corner of the shoplot.

An aquarium shop.

Whilst Lauren was enthralled by the rabbits and hamsters, Fidelia and I began asking the shopkeeper many questions about buying fish and an aquarium and looking after the fish. Discovering that the smallest aquarium was a snip at RM12, she quickly decided that we were buying it right there and then!

We bought some decorations and fish food along with some anti-chlorine formula for changing the water every week. We now plan to go to the beach to find some pretty shells to add to our new fishes' home.

I selected 5 females and 3 males, so we hope that they will breed so we can witness a cycle of new life.

The fish are tiny, no more than 3 or 4 centimetres in length, and I already love them. I believe they are catfish though I'm not entirely sure which species.

My favourite fish is the dark blue guy, who I've named Xavier. Keep reading for further updates.

Monday, September 7, 2009

U.S. Open latest

There have been many surprises and shocks so far in this years U.S. Open Grand Slam. Notable players such as Dinara Safina, Venus Williams, Elena Dementieva, Jelena Jankovic (I detest her), Victoria Azarenka, Maria Sharapova, Andy Roddick (hahaha!), Stanislas Wawrinka and James Blake are all now watching the remaining rounds on TV like me.

I was particularly delighted to see the back of Andy Roddick's latest challenge to win a Grand Slam. He had his chance earlier at Wimbledon and I'm sorry to say he'll never get a better one. He is destined to finish his career as a 'one-slam-wonder'. Maybe 'wonder' isn't the right word. With success being measured by the number of Grand Slam wins, I'm afraid he, Murray and Djokovic have miles to go in order to even be remembered in 10 or 20 years' time.

Novak Djokovic struggled through his 3rd round match with the unknown Witten, whilst Murray, somewhat disappointingly for me, eased his way past Taylor Dent this morning. It wasn't even worth Dent turning up.

I had a great time watching the walking circus known as Vera Zvonareva. Her emotional breakdown after failing to convert zero of six match points was extremely entertaining. She was shouting at herself, hitting herself on the head, smashing her racquet around, messing with these bandages on her knees, ripping it half off, then at the interval having a new one strapped on. Then in the following game off it came again, well part of it at least. Then she was covering her head with her towel, hitting balls against the back wall, and it goes on and on.

Teenager Melanie Oudin has caused quite a stir, eliminating both Elena Dementieva and Maria Sharapova in consecutive rounds with some blinding tennis that has caught many by surprise. She is one to watch for the immediate future, with another possible shock on the cards as she next takes on Nadia Petrova.

Nadal, Del Potro, Tsonga and Gonzalez all made it through and are placed in the same half of the draw along with Murray, making it terribly tough for all of them to fit into the one final berth.

And then we are left with the great man, Roger Federer. He laboured through his match with Hewitt and must have been glad to see Robredo defeat Blake, whom he will be facing tomorrow morning. Federer's half of the draw is much more straight forward though, with a possible QF against Davydenko or Soderling, with Djokovic or Verdasco as his most likely SF opponent, neither of which will give him too much trouble.

So it's looking good for Federer although he really must improve his performance and cut out the errors from now on if he is to triumph for the 6th consecutive time here. On the women's side, Kim Clijsters is in great shape, underlined by her victory over Venus Williams, although she is on course for a SF showdown with sister Serena. Svetlana Kuznetsova is the only big name left on the other side of the draw and must see this as a great chance to add to her Grand Slam collection.

All in all, it's been a great competition so far and I'm looking forward to the thrills yet to come. I'm confident Federer is able to up his game whenever he needs to, and I'm sure he will comfortably make the final. As long as he's not up against Nadal, I feel he will have no problems emerging triumphant again. If Nadal manages to control his knees and reach the final, we could be in for another epic.

Sit back and enjoy the U.S. Open!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Saturday 5th September, 2009

Had an eventful day which started before the crack of dawn and finished at 2am the following morning. Following is a photo essay of this busy day.

Urai and I went for a 6.30am jog with her friend, Sharon this morning which was exhilarating. It's been so long since my glory cross-country days, and it felt really good to run once again, albeit very slowly.

Later we were shopping at Carrefour when we amusingly came across the following product we had just weighed...

As you can see, the price came to one cent, so with the discontinuation of the one cent coin and the consequent new rounding system, it meant that this particular item would be rounded down to ZERO CENTS if paid for separately! So Urai was all game to go and pay for it and we indeed got it for free! We will be looking for other 'bargains' like this in the future!

I had four hours of tuition class in between these two events, after which we decided to go for some KFC at Megamall. It's actually been a long time since we last ate fast food, so we treated ourselves.

We stopped by to watch an absolutely enchanting hair styling fashion show from Paris, France on the Ground Floor of Megamall before we went back home. The scariest and perhaps most impressive was the following woman stunningly designed and made up, and accompanied by the eerie music, created a pretty chilling atmosphere. Lauren was certainly scared!

We arrived home and Urai decided to practice her gymnastics with the following holds...

Lauren tried her very best to keep up with these difficult positions!

And finally I tried my skills at gymnastics moves but it didn't quite work out as I had pictured...

Tonight we watched Roger Federer's 3rd round clash with Lleyton Hewitt. Well, Federer notched up around a half-century of unforced errors in a very indifferent performance, but still possessed enough quality to beat Hewitt in four sets.

I was delighted this morning to learn that Andy Roddick had lost in an epic five-setter with fellow American, John Isner. One less hurdle in the great mans way to a 6th consecutive U.S. Open title.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Sunset and Sunrise in Kuantan

I love to wake up early to catch the stunning sunrises when the sky is relatively clear. Sunsets are equally attractive with their luscious pink colours. I recently took these pictures of the sunset and following day sunrise. Enjoy.

The sunset...

And now for the sunrise...

Here I spotted the Sun peeping out over the hill for the first time that morning, and then I continued to watch it rise higher into the morning sky...

Well, it's always impressive and inspiring watching the sunrise, this huge ball of fire that is just the right distance away from us to sufficiently warm us and give us light. Divine placement indeed. Witnessing the earth's motions and the Sun rise is witnessing the power of God.

There is no greater motivation to start the day on a good note than beholding this wonderful sight.


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