Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Burundanga Drug Warning

I've been receiving quite a few emails about a malicious drug called Burundanga, that's used to incapacitate victims at petrol stations. Typically the email goes like this;


Share with your sisters, daughters, nieces, mothers, female friends, EVERYONE.

NEW WARNING!! Incident has been confirmed

A man came over and offered his services as a painter to a female putting gas in her car and left his card. She said no, but accepted his card out of kindness and got in the car. The man then got into a car driven by another gentleman. As the lady left the service station and saw the men following her out of the station at the same time. Almost immediately, she started to feel dizzy and could not catch her breath. She tried to open the window and realized that the odor was on her hand; the same hand which accepted the card from the gentleman at the gas station.

She then noticed the men were immediately behind her and she felt she needed to do something at that moment. She drove into the first driveway and began to honk her horn to ask for help. The men drove away but the lady still felt pretty bad for several minutes after she could finally catch her breath. Apparently there was a substance on the card and could have seriously injured her. The drug is called 'BURUNDANGA' and it is used by people who wish to incapacitate a victim in order to steal or take advantage of them.

Four times greater than date rape drug and is transferable on simple cards. So take heed and make sure you don't accept cards at any given time alone or from someone on the streets. This applies to those making house calls and slipping you a card when they offer their services.

I did a little reseach about this drug and look what I found, thanks to urbanlegends.about.com and snopes.com.

Is there a drug called burundanga that has been used by criminals in South America to incapacitate their victims? Yes.

Do news sources confirm that burundanga has been used in recent years to commit crimes in the United States? No.

The incident described above is a fabrication. Two details betray the story as a hoax:

The victim allegedly received a dose of the drug by simply touching a business card. (All sources agree that burundanga must be inhaled or ingested, or the subject must have prolonged topical contact with a large dose of the substance in order for it to have an effect.)

The victim allegedly detected a "strong odor" emitted by the drug-laced card. (All sources agree that burundanga is odorless and tasteless.)

What is burundanga?

Burundanga is the street version of a pharmaceutical drug called scopolamine. It's made from the extracts of plants in the nightshade family such as henbane and jimson weed. It's a deliriant, meaning it can induce symptoms of delirium such as disorientation, loss of memory, hallucinations, and stupor.

You can see why it would be popular with criminals.

Scopolamine, which works by inhibiting the transmission of certain nerve impulses in the brain and muscles, has several legitimate medical uses, including the treatment of nausea, motion sickness, and gastrointestinal cramps. It has also been used as a "truth serum." And, like burundanga, scopolamine has frequently been implicated as a stupefying agent or "knockout drug" in the commission of crimes such as robbery, kidnapping, and date rape.

Though the frequency of such crimes has presumably decreased along with the country's overall crime rate in the intervening years, the U.S. State Department still warns travelers to beware of "criminals in Colombia using disabling drugs to temporarily incapacitate tourists and others."

Like the stories circulating in North America about criminals using ether-tainted perfume samples to knock out their victims, the burundanga emails trade on fear, not facts. They tell of alleged close calls with would-be attackers, not actual crimes. They are dysfunctionalcautionary tales.

Make no mistake, burundanga is real. It has been used to commit crimes. If you're traveling in a region where its use has been confirmed, exercise due caution. But don't rely on forwarded emails for your facts.

While it's good to exercise caution, we need to get our facts straight.

Friday, September 19, 2008

S*** happens to us too

from my friendster blog, June 3rd 2007

Let me take you through a crew’s typical day of work. As an example, let’s take a flight that departs at 0600hrs. (We’re working backwards here).

  1. ETD @ 0600hrs - you should be airborne by this time. Generally, a crew has to sign in for a flight (called reporting time) 1.5 hrs earlier. That means,
  2. Reporting @ 0430hrs - you should be at the airport & signed in for duty by this time. What about traveling to the airport? Lucky for us, the company provides transportation. Pick up time (depending on your location from the airport) is generally 1.5hrs earlier.
  3. Pick up @ 0300hrs - So, that means, at the honk of the cab/van, you gotta grab your trolley bag and hastily hop on the pick up. But what about preparation time? I’d say 1.5hrs will be a ’safe time’ for a stewardess. Hey, hair & make-up takes time k (at least for me it does), especially if it’s at wee hours of the morning. (Once, I was so groggy, I squeezed facial cleanser onto my toothbrush….) So, to be on the safe side, 1.5hrs is good. Which brings us to,.
  4. Wake up @ 0130hrs - woo hoo….

In a nutshell, if you’re going for a 6am flight, you gotta wake up by 1.30am. That’s a good 4.5hrs. You could drive leisurely from KL to Penang with 4.5hrs, or you could be in bed for 4.5hrs…or better still you could be in bed and dreaming that you’re in bed with a McSteamy or McDreamy for 4.5hrs for that matter!

Now we’re only talking about what’s happening before the flight. And LOTSA things could happen before the flight. Some typical ones are;

  1. You overslept - Major no no! It doesn’t matter if you’ve forgotten to set the   alarm or the bell did ring but you just HAD to snooze the damn thing….if you’re late, you’re screwed. No aircraft will wait for a late crew. (hey, it rhymes!)
  2. Say you do wake up in time, you take a shower and then you start to do your hair. You do the routine steps, same old s*** that you do every time. But somehow, it just won’t work. A little hairspray here, a few pins there. The more you try, the more disastrous it becomes. (I have long hair so I put them up in a simple bun but even that seems impossible sometimes.) As a result, you might end up looking like a mak cik…or worse for those who sport the french twist (fondly known as croissant among the crew) - instead of a perfect twist, it goes like 20-30 degrees off! I’ve seen some unfortunate ones who look like they have a growth out of the backs of their heads….
  3. Next comes make-up - Integral part of the decorum, certain airlines have rules that you MUST apply foundation, powder, eyeliner, mascara, minimum combination of 2 eyeshadow colours, blusher and lipstick. (Wah, like opera…yalor but I know of a Middle East airline that requires only lipstick and blusher, cool!) So, you start layering your face with all sorts of products. By the time you get to the eyes, your hands are all tired. Eyeliner? Good luck with that. One false move and you’ll start cursing at how incompetent your hands are. And try as you might, you’ll only make matters worse….   
  4. Right, what else could go wrong? Hmm…what about pick up? Like most of the rest who rely on the company’s transportation, I have encountered problems with the cab drivers before. Being late is not too bad, but what if the cab  doesn’t show? So at 3am, you gotta call for a back up. By the time it arrives, you’re all flustered, you sweat, your make-up starts to get blotchy, your hair goes senget another 10 degrees….

Might I remind you that these are just some of the stuff that could happen BEFORE you even start work.

Lots of people think that being a cabin crew is great. The job’s easy (well, I somehow agree on this but not whole heartedly), the pay’s good (arguable), you look good all the time (the power of make-up and lotsa effort too) and you get off days all the time (quite true). Like any other jobs, things could go wrong. And when s*** happens, they happen with a vengeance. And everything’s a disaster from there on.

But I bet your job doesn’t require you to wake up 4.5hrs earlier ;)  

Hooray for that!

Newspaper Blues

From my friendster blog, January 11th, 2007

You know, after two and a half years of flying and meeting with thousands of passengers, I thought I’d almost seen it all. But each day, with each new flight, I’d be surprised. Surprised at how pleasant, or how down right nasty people could be. Or how about some that are just plain queer?

I have quite a few pet peeves while flying. One of the most ‘chia lat’ one is regarding newspapers. What could be so bad with newspapers you ask? Let me explain to you some of them which I ALWAYS encounter during my B737 flights;

a) The Newspaper Discriminator - I mean, can’t you just grab the 1st copy on the whole damn pile instead of digging down to the next few copies underneath until you find a fresh copy? Uncle, just because the front page is a little crumpled that doesn’t mean the paper is not readable. So when your girlfriend is old and wrinkly you do the same lar?

b) The Ambitious Newspaper Reader - On a short flight to Kuantan (40 minutes) or Penang (50 minutes), a passenger travelling alone can grab a copy each of the Star, NST, Sin Chew and Nan Yang. Sure or not…you so ‘keng’ can read so fast one meh? Want to tapau is it…

c) The Newspaper Rapist - Sorry to say but strangely this happens to mostly Chinese readers. Why oh why, must you separate every page from it’s arrangement? I know that Chinese papers has lots of sections for reading but must you really violate the reading material to the point of molestation? To salvage the poor paper for the next flight would be near impossible, especially if the Rapist is an Ambitious Reader as well. I think other than the safety demonstration, crew should carry out a ‘How-To-Read-Your-Newspaper’ demonstration too. I guess it could start off with something like this. "This is your newspaper. To read it, open it up like this……’

d) The Newspaper Snatcher - Often on domestic flights, quantities of newspapers gradually lessen through out the day. This is mostly contributed by (b) and (c). And so, what’s a passenger to do? That’s easy - Pretend’s the word. While passing through the Business Class cabin prior to entering the Economy Class cabin, start by pretending to admire the spacious seats, carelessly drop something and then lazily bend down to pick it up and while straightening up faster faster snatch a newspaper from the seat pockets. Whilst doing all these, maintain a straight face and pretend that it is the most natural thing to do. If caught, again, pretend to be in a state of total ignorance and exclaim, ‘Why, I didn’t know that this newspaper is exclusively for Business Class passengers!’

e) The Die-Die Also Must Read Newspaper Tonight Passenger - So, it’s the last flight into JB. It’s 10.30pm. Passenger boards the aircraft and upon eyeing the empty newspaper trolley, frowns, then asked ‘No more newspaper ah?’ I answered ‘Sorry sir, but it is quite late and all the copies that were displayed have been taken by the rest of the passengers before you.’ The frown turned into a scowl and he spat, ‘What? How come?Cut cost ar?’. Sigh….First of all, rilek lar brader..It’s one and a half hours before the day is over. Want to read apa lagi? If the news is really so important to you, get your own copy 1st thing in the morning. If like what you quoted ‘cut cost’, then read it online lar. Why make your life so miserable?

f) The Newspaper Vendor - Ah…This one’s very cute. At the end of the flight, he will collect an assortment of the day’s newspapers (almost every copy available), tucks it under his arm, grins at you and disembarks with it. Wei ah chek! Want to tapau also do it discreetly lar. But my colleague had the last word for the ah chek, this is what she said, "Aiyo sir, why you take so many. Take one enough lar. You want to bukak payung outside and sell is it?!"


Sibu Caveman

From my friendster blog, July 18th, 2006

This incident actually happened about 2 weeks back. I just have this sudden itch to b**** about it.

It was a pretty fine morning, 1st flight out of Sibu and I was positioned at the forward entry door. The flight was full, so that means 144 times of ‘good morning, selamat datang, selamat pagi’s…Never mind that, everything was swell….until this man appeared, clutching a copy of a Chinese daily. I bade him a cheery "Good morning." No reaction. Never mind. Honestly, I am quite used to being ignored at a greeting.

Then he looked up at me and he had this smirk plastered on his face (I suppose he read something that amused him) and he was looking at me…waiting for me to react to his expression. Sensing that he wanted to communicate (eye contact made mah…) I asked him, "Something funny about the news sir?".

He smirked further and pointed at the headline.(actually, it was like a Neanderthal poking at a slab of meat)

I replied, "I’m sorry sir but I can’t read Chinese."

Caveman suddenly realised that he could speak after all, eyed my name tag with his piggy eyes and hissed, "You Chinese ar? Don’t know Chinese, so poor!"

Wow, this I am definitely NOT used to! (You know during our training, we were advised not to challenge a passenger’s remark, regardless of the situation) But how could I keep quiet to such preconception? I replied calmly, "Yes I am Chinese but I am English educated. Not necessarily poor." Still maintaining my smile but laced with disgust now.

Note that by then the caveman had waddled his way a little further down the aisle. I thought that was the end of it but no, caveman wanted to have the last word a.k.a bo kam guan, and barked, "No necessarlily? Go and arsk your farther lar!"

WTFudge…swear to God I really wanted to go over and b**** slap the guy. How dare he insult me. 1st my educational background, then conveyed his regards to my ‘farther’!

I knew that if I opened my mouth then, an argument would definitely ensue. But I managed to catch my colleague’s eye that signalled ‘leave it, it’s not worth it’. Knowing that he was right, I grudgingly continued with my duties.

Pity that I knew he was plain rude but I couldn’t pursue the matter further. But boy, if only I could, I’d take my time to literally translate the following phrase to him - Hell hath no fury as a stewardess scorned!

All aboard!

Welcome to Cupcakesexpress! This blog is basically about stuff that revolves around me, anything that tickles my pickle, other than my love for baking and cooking of course. We shall leave that to my 1st born, Cupcakesordeath. 

Soon after I named this blog I realised that there are other ways to read the title than 'cupcakes-express', (depending on how cheeky you are). Suppose you break up the words and rearrange the letters, specifically the alphabet 's'? 

There are a couple of reasons why I came about this second blog (as if Cupcakesordeath is not a handful already). The first one has got to do with my Chinese culture. To keep the story short (believe you me I can be very long winded. I would take you from A-Z and back again when all I need to tell you ends at B). 

You see, my brother is getting married soon and well, yours truly here shamelessly voluntereed to make cupcakes as part of the betrothal gift. Of course it's perfectly fine to order the cakes from a bakery. But no, miss ambitious here just had to be well, ambitious. 

Here's a secret, it will be my first wedding cupcake project (gulp!). Though not many, perhaps a dozen boxes or so (unless mommy dearest changes her mind), it will be a wonderful challenge. I will need you guys to cross not only your fingers for me, but your limbs too.  

Why do I need to embark on such an enterprising task? Well, I gotta start somewhere. What better opportunity than your own brother's wedding? If anything should go awry, I'll play the family card. It's even easier since I'm the baby. All will be forgiven in the end, we are after all FAMILY. 
*Attention immediate family member specifically dearest Bro S & Sis In Law M who might be reading this: Everybody forgives the little sister.......err.....right?

Now where was I? Anyways back to my story, (A-Z, do you believe me now?) I intend to subtly include my 1st born's address on the cake boxes (this is of course IF I am happy with the end product). As you can see, the D word is in it. And I think it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that it won't have any place at all in a wedding. And a Chinese wedding at that. I could just imagine the look of horror and disapproval on my aunts' faces. I must be planning my own F. So you understand my predicament now? 

The second reason is well......what if I come across something really really interesting and want to share it with you? I don't want to congest the other blog; this will be just the place, yes?

I will be putting up a few old posts from my Friendster blog. I hope you'll have fun reading them and drop me a line if you feel like it. Cheers!