The Hip Way To Being Green

I count myself lucky to know Don and Mylene.

Mylene Ooi and Don Theseira of Green Crusaders
Mylene Ooi and Don Theseira of Green Crusaders

It started with someone giving me their phone number a few years ago because I wanted to contact them to give a talk at Mensa Penang.
They invited us to listen to their environment talk at the Pulau Tikus church one morning.
I was totally in awe of the tireless work they do.
They could have been enjoying a happy retirement in their home in Bukit Mertajam but they felt compelled to help the environment by teaching people a cleaner, easier method of recycling household wastes. The method also produces enough money for the local community to donate to their favourite causes or charity homes.
In fact over the past 12 years, they have helped raise over RM50,000 for their local charities. All these from two people who believed that they could. This does not take into account that their method is also helping many companies and hospitals and households in Penang go green easily. (Their method is clever and easy. The usual recycle bin method brings a lot of problems – dirty, smelly and who cleans the bins anyway? Their method makes recycling an accountable and effortless habit.)
Besides going all over Malaysia to give talks, they also teach people how to compost household scraps. Don’s method is the method I am using right now.
And I can vouch that there are no flies, no smells and no stink. What I get is rich compost – so rich that sometimes little seeds start growing right in the compost pots!
Over the past year and a half, Nic and I have thrown out very little rubbish because we recycle anything that can be recycled and we compost our organic food scraps. (I say this before prior to this, we lived high up and didn’t have the space to do all the green and eco-friendly things we wanted to do. Now that we’ve moved to a ground floor apartment with a scrap of backyard, I am now greener!). I save up used cooking oil to give to Mylene each time I see her. She passes it to a contractor who uses this cooking oil to make soap.
Whenever we meet up, we have many stories to exchange, primarily because Don and Mylene give a talk once every two weeks upon invitation from factories, NGOs, hospitals, schools and corporate bodies. They are also a couple who have enough energy to put younger people to shame. It is not easy for a couple in their 60s and 70s going all over Penang and sometimes all the way down to Johor to give free talks.
It is a tireless and oftentimes, a thankless role as environmental ambassadors and green crusaders. I hope I have their enthusiasm and energy when I get to my 60s.
What is not strange is that we love visiting them and each time we do, we have a feast!
Most elderly people will cringe at eating unhealthy stuff but not them. Oh not this feisty Eurasian couple!
Mylene, Don and me at Look Yuen Restaurant, Bukit Mertajam
Mylene, Don and me at Look Yuen Restaurant, Bukit Mertajam

Don loves his ‘too kar’ and so do I. So when we meet up, we go for ‘too kar’ (pig’s trotters) in Nibong Tebal which has a totally sinful version. This time around, we went to Look Yuen Restaurant in Bukit Mertajam for braised pig’s trotters. It was still unbelievably sinful and like chocolate, the gelatinous bits melted right in my mouth!
Besides the main star of the lunch (the trotters), other dishes which were heaven included Nyonya-style prawn sambal with a kick, springy fish ball soup (normally I don’t like fish balls but this was an exception) and stirfried sawi or mustard greens. Before we tucked into our main meal, we ordered 2 rounds of fruit rojak from the stall located just outside the restaurant. Pure yumminess!
Plus Don never says no to chocolate ice cream or chocolate while watching golf on TV.
Now how many senior citizens you know who are so darn cool?

How To Prepare For Ivy League

We’ve worked together with Chen Chow before, and have organised 2 highly successful talks (under the auspices of Mensa Malaysa, Penang branch) when he came to Penang in the past 2 years to talk about getting a scholarship to study in the USA.
He is formerly from Cornell University (2005), and a former JPA scholarship recipient so he definitely knows what he is talking about. Oh and he is also the head interviewer for Cornell scholarship applications in Malaysia.
What I most like about Chen Chow is his helpful and humble nature. You don’t see much of this any more.
Yet despite his busy life (and yes, he does hold a full-time job in KL), he is still willing to travel to Penang with his own money so he could speak to parents and youths about what it takes to get a scholarship to study abroad.
He can hold a room captivated with his 3-hour long talk and still, parents and youths cannot get enough of him. Chen Chow is so engaging and so full of ideas and tips that people still want to linger on after the talk to pick his brains!
But what makes it all worthwhile is that Chen Chow sms-ed me a few months ago and told me that 2 of the youths who attended his Penang talk managed to secure JPA scholarships for study abroad! It was a fantastic feeling!
I felt really happy for these 2 students – one will be studying engineering and the other, law. And it all happened because Chen Chow shared what he knew about aceing scholarship interviews, what to write in a scholarship essay, how to stand out in a roomful of potential scholarship candidates, what candidates ought to write in their application forms and lots more.
I mean, I’m way past applying for scholarships (hey, I’m 35 and I left school a LONG time ago) but even I got excited. I bet the parents and youths were more delirious after hearing the inspiring stories of Malaysian students who have made it to Yale, Harvard and other Ivy League unis. This is really Malaysia Boleh spirit!
He does not come to Penang often although he is a Bukit Mertajam local. So if you want to study overseas, get into the top US universities without burdening your parents, the best way is to find out where Chen Chow is speaking next and listen well.
His upcoming activity is a 3-day workshop for students only at Taylors University College, from 1 to 3 August. The maximum number he is taking is 250 students so don’t miss out if you want to learn how you can get a US scholarship.
With a stellar list of facilitators (current scholars and previous alumni of Ivy League universities), it’s worth every bit of your RM25 for the 3 days! (YES, can you believe it? Only RM25! That’s not a typo.) You’d get to mingle with these scholarship recipients, get firsthand knowledge and learn what it’s like to study abroad.
But hurry as Chen Chow told me seats are really filling up fast!
(The college application resources are worth a look too!)

How to get a scholarship

Dear friends,
Mensa Penang will be organising a talk on “How to get a scholarship to study in the USA” by Mr Yeoh Chen Chow on 7th March, 2.30 pm at the Caring Society Complex, Jalan Utama. RM10 per person (inclusive of refreshments).
Email ( to register as seats are limited.
Highly suitable for students who are currently in Form 4 and Form 5.
Please help forward and spread the word about this excellent speaker (Mr Yeoh) who is the head interviewer in Malaysia for Cornell University (USA) and who is himself a JPA scholarship recipient many years ago.
He gave a similar talk last year to a full house of parents and students. This year he is back again (he is based in KL so this is really a great opportunity to hear him give tips on what to do to apply for scholarships!)

What I Learnt from an Indian Memory Champion

Update: I put my photos on Facebook so they’re here if you want to take a look at brainy stuff.
I got the flu bug and now I am feeling completely buggered! I don’t know if going for my Thai massage on Monday had anything to do with this but it seems all toxins have escaped and making my life (and nose) hell.
I’m big on diagnosing my health and at this point, I’m most likely to suffer from Wind Cold. I start coughing if I am near cool air! It sucks of course. And I detest coughing! It makes me very annoyed and disrupts my work.
Having the flu is a trinity of sore throat, running nose and cough – well that’s what a flu does to me. I am not the best of company when I get sick. I am extremely grouchy and sensitive. I start withdrawing into myself.
But I shan’t wallow in such pitiful episodes.
A Day at Forever 21
Wait a minute, it could also be due to my hectic weekend. Lisa came up from KL for a weekend. While we actually spent almost the whole of Friday shopping at Forever21 @ Queensbay Mall like some datin without work to do, I don’t think it was the trying on/changing clothes that created this episode though we were caught in a drizzle as we left the mall in the evening.
The Brainy Stuff at TAR
It could have been the next two days where I attended the Festival of the Mind at TAR College. I helped out at the Mensa Penang booth a bit though I am not a Mensa member but chewahhh….I could explain it all. (My memory since my thesis days are still good!)
An Ant/Anant Taught Us How to Remember
The talks were exciting though. I sat in during Anant Kashibatla’s session on improving memory. Now I can say my memory is like an elephant’s. But still, I’d love to hear what this Indian national memory record holder has to say about memory. He was a cute Telegu fellow with a bit of baby fat and a full head of curly hair, speaking with a dash of Indian accent.
He astounded us all when he memorized a series of 30 random digits in less than 2 minutes (earlier called out by the audience). Ya I know he is a record holder for memorizing numbers but to have seen him in action was another thing. Anant could even recite the 30 digits backwards.
Our jaws hit the lecture hall floor.
Then we were asked to remember 20 items from a slide he showed. “No…” came the long gasps from us scaredy-cat folks.
But he did it. He taught us a storytelling-visualisation technique, linking each item together in a fantastical story. That done, one Chinese lady literally jumped up to volunteer to recall the 20 items. Then came a teenager who also did it correctly. After that we were like jubilant school kids, suddenly excited and totally proud of our memory! We could all recall the 20 items, as amazing as it sounded. Corny as it sounds, we recited the 20 items for him!

Tip to Remember Forever

The key here is to turn the item you want to remember into a picture. Then link the items together with a story that sounds crazy but we’re not looking for logic now.
So to remember items like Twin Towers, hot air balloon, elephant, flowers, tent, rocket, go kart, Jackie Chan, etc. we were asked to close our eyes and imagine “The Twin Towers, where suddenly a hot air balloon comes up, in it is an elephant and it is throwing flowers down to a tent. From the tent comes a rocket which hits a go kart driven by Jackie Chan……”
Good stuff, right? The idea is to recall the story and you would have recalled the random items in proper order! You can even recall the items starting from the last item.
Use Alpha to Get What You Want
The other talk I liked was Mr Sukh Dev’s You Can Program Your Success. He was an energetic speaker with enough actions and energy to rev us all up that mid morning. Some actions were a bit too strange for me – hey, I don’t go around hugging everyone ok? He spoke of getting into alpha brain wave to gain more for our lives, be it love, money or whatever we wish. Alpha brain waves was the core topic for the 2 days (yes, I know, it was all about the brain and mind).
Read 25K words Per Minute Too
Sussanne Lee’s PhotoReading session was rewarding in that she introduced a concept (new to me at least) about how to read, absorb and understand books using your alpha! It’s not speedreading because in this new concept, you read lots more – about 25,000 words per minute. No, that’s not a typo. It’s 25K words per minute.
She didn’t go through everything in a detailed manner (eh, she’s a trainer and trains people to do photoreading so I didn’t think she’d give away her trade secrets!) as it was just an hour of time but apparently it helps you grasp information faster.
Sussanne smartly answered our skeptical questions with a prepared FAQ. Does it reduce the enjoyment of reading novels? It doesn’t. Who can do this? She works with anyone 15 years and above (especially if you’re cramming for exams like PMR, SPM etc). You can audit the course anytime once you’re done with it…it means you can sit in any time for a refresher if you forgot. (Clever comeback – if you tend to forget, the first course you should take is Anant’s improve your memory course before you take this course!)
It was totally mind-bending stuff at the 2-day festival. No wonder I ended up with the flu! I overworked and overfocused my brain!
Finally, My Brain is Old in an Awful Way
Did I tell you that I sat for this quick computer game which analysed my brain age? The 10 questions were simple enough but tested you on the speed of your response and memory. The first time, my brain age was 33 (yucks, close to my real age of 34) and me being me, I played the game again and got a brain age of 28. I asked the crew what is the lowest brain age one could be. He said 20. My friend Cecilia got 20 and she’s a mom to 3 kids (but my consolation is, she is a Mensa member so no fight lah).
Anyway, perhaps too much of brain stimulation that did me in!
My photos are in the other laptop so I will put them up asap once I get home! 😉 This post has cheered me up considerably and brought me out of my snivelling doldrums…. blogging is good for health!

Unleashing the Mind at the Festival

I will be attending, no, helping out during this weekend’s Festival of the Mind at TAR College as a result of my usual busybodying. (This is what happens when you are the unofficial committee member of Mensa Penang by virtue of your husband being a committee member!)
But lest you think that I’m being dragged there, no lah, I am quite happy really to join in these social events.
This weekend is one of those exciting events – I missed the Tony Buzan mindmapping workshop sometime ago because Nic forgot to tell me about it.
In our relationship, I am the timekeeper, the walking rolodex, the appointment manager so if he tells me there’s something going on somewhere, I make a note and decide if we want to go or not. Apparently it slipped his mind the last round.
This round though I will be going for the Festival of Mind, partly to help out at the Mensa Penang booth and partly to listen to the talks. Which you probably are going to ask me, if I adore these brain games stuff and IQ stuff, why am I not in Mensa?
Good question but I’m not mad. I enjoy sudoku, rubik cube, treasure hunts, vocab games and all those intellectual quests but I am not interested to know if I belong to the top 2 per cent of the population – the high IQ population that is. I might realize I am not in that exclusive population and then, what do I do?
Anyway, if you have some time this weekend and want to learn speed reading, mindmapping, how to increase your brain power, how to be essentially smarter, how to make yourself seem smarter than you already are, then attend any of the talks and demos at TAR College.
Date: 25 – 26 October 2008
Time: 9:30am – 4:30pm
Venue: Kolej Tunku Abdul Rahman
(Penang Branch Campus)
77, Lorong Lembah Permai Tiga,
Tanjong Bungah, 11200 Pulau Pinang
Full details of talks and everything else over at
Tickets (though free), on a first-come, first served basis, will be issued 30 minutes before each talk. Each participant is entitled to collect a maximum of 4 tickets at one time. So get yours fast. I am sure the tickets will be going like hot cup cakes.
Oh beware of clicking the links at the UTAR website – they are PDFs and open without warning once you click it.
Is it just me or do I hate surprises like PDFs suddenly popping open? Why can’t they just list them down in a table instead of having me open 6 PDFs just to find out what’s what? It’s plain annoying! (I don’t mind if they warn me first that it’s a PDF. They don’t. They expect everyone to have a PDF reader in their PC. Ugh.)
So, see you there then.
I’m going because I want to see what parts of my brain I haven’t enhanced yet!