April 6, 2016

Toyota Prius – 2011

Some bloke emailed me that he is looking at a used (‘second hand’) Prius 2011 with 60k km on it, and if there’s anything that he should look out for before deciding to purchase it. Here’s my reply to him:

Hi [bloke],
Prius 2011 has one very common problem – ‘Check Hybrid System’. It’s an error message that pops up halfway through your driving – won’t stall, can continue driving, but at reduced power and no hybrid.

Cause ranges from defective 12v AUX battery, to the inverter, to the Hybrid battery itself. Most problems seen on high mileage 2011 models, before the infamous Toyota Prius recall (to flash the firmware). My theory is, the 2011 high mileage models could have already sustained damage to the transistor (too late) for the recall, or simply it wasn’t flashed right at Toyota SC (some users complained abnormal charging behavior or driving experience). Toyota has this under warranty (8 years). Since the unit you’re interested is somewhat low mileage, I’d say it’s low risk (but check with the owner anyway if he/she had the car flashed at Toyota SC, and make sure you test drive the car with ECO/PWR mode disabled).

Maintenance: No worries. It’s very economic. My 2012 model is approaching 90k km, no brake pad change, no 12v AUX battery change, no ATF change, and only brake fluid change once. Parts are expensive but so are other makers. Remember, Prius isn’t marketed as a ‘fuel economic’ vehicle – it’s supposed to be a ‘green vehicle’ (although being ‘fuel economic’ is one of the advantage of being green). Prius isn’t that economic when you do a lot of short commute (of less than 10km per trip) with frequent start/stop.

If you need more info, you can request to join this closed group at Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/groups/priusgang/
Lots of info inside, updated daily by Prius owners on their experiences.

It’s a closed group, just mention to the admin that you’re interested to buy a 2011 Prius and you’re here to seek more interaction from owners.

Michael Ooi

One thing I forgot to mention though, is to look out for sleazy previous owners. If you’re getting it from a dealer, be sure to check the battery vent at the driver side of the rear seat. Check for thick dust build up or signs of tampering there. Thick dust build up on the vent (or inside the vent) is an indication of a potential overheated hybrid battery which could have a shorter life. You can be a bitch about it but no harm checking. Reason is simple – just read this post about notebook computer overheating issue I’ve written before here – the same principle applies. A clean a vent is an indication of lowered risk.

michaelooi  | automobiles, mails/posts  | Comments Off
April 2, 2016

‘minimum bbq two orders’

So I was at this Korean restaurant with my wife and daughter. Just the 3 of us. We took our time with the menu and waved the server over when we’re ready. A short fair skinned Bangladeshi server came to take our order.

Me: “I’d like this set of BBQ Pork here, and…”

Before I could continue, the short Bangla (SB) replied with an incomplete sentence in English:

SB: “Two orders.” *points at other BBQ selections on the menu*

Me: *confused* “No, no… I don’t want two. Just this one.”

SB: “No…no… two. Minimum two orders.” *repeatedly points at other BBQ selections on the menu*

I hadn’t got around to order the main course just yet so, I was thinking, maybe he was hinting at me that we’re not ordering enough or something. So I flipped the menu to the ala carte page and placed order for the main course first, and came back to this BBQ pork order – and gave him this ‘Is everything ok now?’ look.

SB: “No…no… two orders. Minimum BBQ two orders.” *repeatedly points at other BBQ selections on the menu*

My patience was wearing thin. My wife Emily then asked me to check the small prints in the menu, but there was nothing mentioned about minimum orders. I tried to ask SB about what did he mean by ‘minimum two orders’ and why aren’t we allow to order just 1 BBQ pork, but all he could reciprocate was this blank look while muttering ‘minimum BBQ two orders’. Since we’re about as productive as a chicken and a duck trying to have a conversation, I asked for the manager. A chubby Korean teen (must be the owner’s son) came and explained:

Chubby Korean kid: “It’s very hard to explain… uhh… very hard to scrub. If one order, need to… err… wait.”

Then he called out in Korean to another middle aged lady who was at another aisle, whom I reckoned must be his mother. His mother went all Korean back to him and he then said:

Chubby Korean kid: “The pan, very hard to scrub. Need 2 orders. One order, a lot of work!”

I was thinking, two orders aren’t going to make it any easier, are they? Fucking dumbass Koreans. I was ready to lose that BBQ-fucking-minimum-two-orders-pork there and then. If these guys couldn’t figure out that losing an order is a worse trade off than scrubbing the goddamn skillet, then they’re probably better off to have their asses dictator-ed by Kim Jong-Un instead of hitting a boner like this. Anyway, after a few loud exchange of Koreans between the mother and son, chubby kid proposed a workaround,

Chubby Korean kid: “One order, can! But need to cook inside kitchen! Ok?”

I was like, who the fuck cares? I just want to eat the pork and I do not really care if the Bangla grills the pork on the table skillet or in the kitchen skillet.

Me: “No problem, just do what you must.” And the order was finally placed.

We could hear a commotion right after our order was placed, right around the kitchen area. Probably still couldn’t agree if 1 order is worth to scrub the goddamn kitchen skillet.

Anyway, my gripe about the whole thing was – communication. I have nothing against Banglas (except their body odor), but more often than not, we get people like them fucking up our dining experiences by not being able to communicate properly. For this, I can only blame the restaurant owners/managers, for putting the wrong labor to the wrong tasks. In this scenario, things would have been simpler if they have gotten some locals to be the hostess and take orders, and get the Banglas to scrub the skillet instead. But they had to save that wee bit of labor cost to go for Banglas, and had to devise this stupid plan of minimum 2 BBQ orders to justify the return of investment for spending time scrubbing the goddamn skillet.

michaelooi  | experiences  | Comments Off
March 25, 2016

headscarf

I’m not sure if I have written this before, but this idea has lingered in my mind for a long time – why are headscarves adorning our Muslim ladies’ heads are so plain? I mean, are they prohibited to add some ‘corak-corak yang menarik’ (translated as ‘interesting patterns’) like some Spiderman covers or Pokemon or something like that? Or perhaps simply just some abstract shit?

I had a conversation with a Muslim colleague of mine the other day and confirmed that this is not common. Headscarves usually come in plain single colors and are supposed to be decent. Then I somehow told her that I’ve seen some fancy headscarves with Pikachu on it, which kinda surprised her shitless. I later gave it a thought and realized that I might have not seen those before, and it was probably all in my head… ingrained for so damn long that I couldn’t differentiate if it was a memory or just an innovative idea in my head.

So, why is that? If it’s about decency, how can Spiderman be not decent? If the ladies are allowed to wear makeup, what aren’t they allowed to have ‘corak-corak yang menarik’ on their headscarves?

michaelooi  | thoughts  | Comments Off
March 14, 2016

“The Hateful Eight” (2015)

When a Tarantino flick gets out, you can best bet your ass that I’d flock to catch it. Has always been a fan of Tarantino and will always be. When “The Hateful Eight” got out, I was all so excited about it. I didn’t read a shit to keep the suspense up, and hell, kept me glued it did. It’s a western flick, just like the one before it – “Django Unchained” (2012). Only that it’s heaps better than Django, despite what people have been saying. I felt that it’s much simpler, and the plot blended very well with Tarantino’s way of storytelling. For the first time in many years, I felt Tarantino has got back his “Pulp Fiction” days mojo. I like Tarantino because he doesn’t give craps about getting his flick R rated, the guy just wants to keep it original and let his creativity flow. Welcome back, Jimmy.

The story revolves around a female murderer called Daisy Domergue, who was on her way to get her ass handed back to her through the hangman’s noose at a town called Red Rock – brought possible by her captor, John “The Hangman” Ruth, who’s a bounty hunter known to have the fetish to deliver his bounties alive for the noose (hence the nickname). John Ruth, chained to Daisy the prisoner, is in a six horse carriage in a heavy blizzard, when a black bounty hunter called Major Marquis – who’s also heading for Red Rock to deliver his dead bounties – blocks their way to request for a hitch. Reluctantly, John Ruth agrees to pick him up… only to stumble into another hitcher, Chris Mannix, who claims to be the new Sheriff of Red Rock on his way to be sworn in (coincidentally, who also will be the one to pay for the bounty, once he becomes the Sheriff). Now, with the blizzard getting worse, they travelling group (inclusive of the stagecoach driver) decided to detour to an inn-like shack called Minnie’s Haberdashery, only to discover a few shady characters in it instead of Minnie the owner and her husband. And here it goes on, the tale of the 2 bounty hunters in that treacherous shack, with the plot of having to deal with Daisy Domergue.

In the story you’ll find deceit & treachery, gun fights, murder & violence & gore, profanities & racial slur, and dark comedy. It’s one of the best flick in 2015, only bested by Mad Max, in my humble opinion. The whole plot if you think of it, is kinda similar to that old Chinese flick “Dragon Gate Inn” (1967), which was also remade by Tsui Hark as “New Dragon Gate Inn” (1992) – you know, standoff between shady characters in an inn, with treachery & deceit, and ended into a full scale fight between all characters. This is like the gunslinger version.

8 out of 10 (a must watch if you’re a Tarantino fan, a must avoid if you’re sensitive to gun violence, gore, violence against women, usage of coarse/vulgar language, sight of excessive blood)

michaelooi  | movie reviews  | Comments Off
March 12, 2016

the teambuilding mate with gray split ends

…is a bitch.

One of my teammates in the teambuilding event. Middle aged, skinny top half, cellulite ridden bottom half, with gray split ends hair that looked like wild reeds growing out of a prison compound. Very asserting character, and couldn’t stop being a dominating mom in the team. As if having the experience of giving birth and schooling a couple of brats gave her the wisdom to control everything under her will on this planet.

Had a tough time dealing with her bullshit through the whole teambuilding event, but it culminated with a coconut eating event (it’s one of the activities in the teambuilding, don’t ask). Objective was simple – hack, drink the water and eat both coconuts’ flesh completely in the shortest time. I guess the organizer thought that city dwellers like us would struggle to do this, having had our food/drinks served most of the time at fancy food courts.

As expected, bitch with gray split ends stepped out and boldly told everyone to calm the fuck down (when nobody was panicking). She declared that she’s had loads of experiences when it comes to hacking coconuts, and she’s gonna be in charge of cutting one of them (well, only 1 participant is allowed to hack 1 coconut). She told me to just follow what she’s doing (I was in charge of hacking the 2nd coconut) and everything would be fine. So I asked what’s her plan, just to see what she’s gonna say – she outlined that she’d hack a hole on the top, finish the water, and hack a bigger hole to get to the flesh. I disagreed with her, much to her surprise (perplexed reaction, like she’s just heard her kid talking back to her)… I’ve hacked my fair share of coconuts myself, so I was kind of an expert.

“No, that won’t work”, I said.
“Why it won’t work? I’ve done this many times. You need a bigger hole to get to the flesh!”
“You drink the water, and you split the damn thing. You then eat from each half, like a bowl.”
“That won’t work. Splitting it is not easy, and time consuming”
“No, it’s going to be faster.”

And we both knew it was on, middle aged uncle (me) versus middle aged aunty with split ends (her – she’s much older). Getting to the water part was easy. Just hack a hole and insert straw to drink. But when it comes to getting to the flesh, bitch with gray split ends tried to what it seemed like violating the coconut to have a bigger asshole, and the end result looked amusingly like a coconut that was bit open by a fucking beaver. The fibres of the husk dropped all inside the bigger hole, which was not big enough to fit in a spoon. Bitch continued hacking until the coconut was badly mangled.

I on the other hand, made a hard chop at the top center (with the hole), pressed down the chopper with my weight to make a 70% downward split, put the chopper away and pulled apart the 2 halves like they were beef flaps. The splitting took no more than 10 seconds. I was already finishing the flesh when the red faced hag was still violating the coconut. She was later heard disclaiming her epic fail with a pathetic – “I was given an older coconut! It was tougher!”. Bitches. They never want to lose and they never learn.

michaelooi  | ...is a bitch  | Comments Off