Tapai Rangalau (Rambutan)


Making wines from fruits, like grape wines, is essentially converting the sugars in the fruits to alcohol, mostly ethanol, through the process of fermentation. So rambutans should be a good candidate for making tapai.

First, we just need the sugar-full flesh. There:



Then we bring it to a slight boil with low heat. We need to do this to kill the unwanted micro organisms that can make the fruits go bad, like turn into sour acids. Tapi jangan lah sampai terbakar.


Ok, we have to let it cool to room temperature. We don’t want to kill the little bitty yeasts, do we? Now add the yeasts, about 2 sachets per kilogram of flesh, and do mix well. I used Brewer’s Yeast from Cons Food.

I would have loved to add a bit of ammonium phosphate [(NH4)3PO4] to the mix as fertiliser for the yeasts but I didn’t have a chance to source this. Second round brew, definitely.


And then, let’s be traditional, we put the whole mash inside a jar/tajau to ferment.


The plan is to let the mash-inside-a-tajau sit for 5 days open to the air so allowing oxygen to be accessible to the yeasts as they multiply, and for the next 3 weeks, close it to encourage anaerobic fermentation (the plastic seal just loose enough for carbon dioxide to be vented out as the pressure increases inside the tajau.

So, after 4 weeks, wala! we have alcohol as the yeasts ate the sugars and produce ethanol. Johnny, you’r listening? You know, the stuff you drink, and after a few glasses, bleary-eyed and frisky, you get into the mistaken belief that the hot babe with the bee-stung lips across the bar is actually ogling you?

So, did the brew come out well, and how did it taste? Haha, go to my Facebok.


Install additional fonts for your iPad ebook reader

The full size iPad is my go-to ebook reader (for epub documents) as I like the 4:3 screen ratio as opposed to most android tablets which have 16:9 dimensions. iBook reader is, to me, a so so reader because (1) the book title appears in every page, and it can distracting if it is a long one; (2) there are no options to change line spacing or margin widths; and (3) the fonts are limited to six, none of which I particularly like. My favourite reader is Bluefire (or any reader using the Bluefire engine) as it addresses the failings above.

Also, font-wise, you have the choices of any of iOS system fonts. In addition, since IOS 7, you can install additional fonts (without jailbreaking your iPad). To do this, go to http://www.fontsquirrel.com/, choose a font to your liking, and click the “Install On IPAD” button. The installation will create a new iOS profile for your iPAD, and the new font is now available as a system font.

I used to like EB Garamond font, but now my default font is Linden Hill. Here is a screenshot of my Bluefire ebook: nice, lots of white margins which I like, Linden Hill, no distracting book title, and I can control the line spacing:



Earlier I mentioned about installing additional fonts for your iPad through http://www.fontsquirrel.com (especially to use for your ebook reader). The shortcoming of this is you are limited to the fonts listed in the website. No worries, now you can install iOS Font Maker (free!) on your Mac or PC, and you can install any TrueType font you can find on the Net on your iPad or iPhone.

Inculcating the reading habit

My 3 elder kids like to read. I would like to think that that was no accident. When they were mere pre-schoolers, their mom and I (being avid readers ourselves) decided on a strategy to how to make them take up the reading habit. We realise early on that to force anybody – let alone mere babies – to do a particular thing as a matter of self interest will not work. We need a hook-and-bait strategy.

Reading for the pure joy of reading and appreciating an author’s work is like an addictive drug. Let me explain: as is for any drug, you have to consume more to get more bang for the buck as things progress – to get your requisite fix, you need to wind up the dose.

And so we started the kids on comics. Yes, the really (dumb) kiddie ones. Then they upgraded to heavier stuff like Doraemon, Archie, etc. Notice what I said: they upgraded; these are their choices now: you can see the upgrade treadmill is about to start. Now, they are regular readers like me. There was a time when they tossed away novels that were less than an inch thick. Mission accomplished! Heck, my elder boy even reads Haruki Murakami (whose writings/protagonists are so dense even I won’t touch).

Personally I wanted them to read for a very specific reason. No, not the usual academic/knowledge reasons; the school can take care of that. I wanted them as young as possible to be introspective as they read about the characters in a novel: to learn how people think, their thought processes, how different people have various takes on particular situations, the many varied characters of human beings, etc.

If you have read through, for example, a Murakami novel you would know what I mean.

One parent long time ago argued, “Better I feed them with movies, they can be entertained while learning.”

Ha ha, but there is a huge difference: watching TV is a passive, non-participative consumption of essentially the screenwriter/director’s version of a made-up world. Reading, on the other hand, invites the reader, in her mind’s eye, to paint a vastly textured canvas and populate it with characters as she interprets the author’s vision.

Anyone who has seen the movie version of Laura Hillenbrand’s excellent book, Unbroken, will understand how shallow the celluloid story was compared to what was written.

Is the core of the Apple Watch (edition) upgradeable?

On the Apple Watch: The Apple Watch Edition’s upgrade dilemma by Serenity Caldwell

Those expensive Editions (some say, will cost RM10,000 – RM20,000), I think will have working internals and cores that are replaceable/upgradable as technology and innovations progress. Owners of a gold Apple Watch can therefore send these back to Apple for an upgrade. After all, even premium watches (albeit mechanical) such as Omega and Tag Heuer can have their watch movements replaced, keeping the expensive case and bracelet.

Uber Apple blogger-fan, Joh Gruber, however, does not think so.

Apple is definitely going to build cars?

The more interesting question should be, “Is Apple is definitely going to build actual cars for consumers to buy?” My take on this will be a “no”.

Here is Horace Dediu’s The Entrant’s Guide to The Automobile Industry. He wrote some very important observations on why the bar for a new entrant to the car manufacturing and sale industry is very high, especially with regard to succeeding with disruptive innovations.

There have been many media and the blogosphere’s comments that Apple is going to build a car. These has become strident when it was revealed that Apple has been employing many experts who are in the car manufacturing industry: drivetrain engineers, battery specialists, automotive safety systems experts, etc.

But wait, even if the skunkworks team at Apple is building an electric car, it is a long hop to actually manufacturing and selling cars to consumers. I bet that the team is building a car to develop car-related technologies so that Apple can sell to the car industry. Think about it: Apple entering in a big way selling products to the 2 trillions $ car manufacturing enterprise market (not consumers).

The indomitable human spirit

We tend to usually associate or pay more attention to heroics and great human fortitude by big names, celebrities and high-achieving athletes. Like the two guys who climbed the never-before-ascended El Kapitan rock face at the U.S. Yosemite National Park last month. Yet, from the people close to us and those ordinary folks we see everyday, if we pay attention enough, and see with our hearts, we can learn and draw great inspiration and strength from the indomitable human spirit that springs from their beating hearts.

I have 3 little stories to tell.

For some of you who lived or frequented Kota Kinabalu in the mid 80s, you would have met an old (70s) Chinese couple going around the coffee shops selling ma piau (lottery). For years as I was driving to work I would see this loving duo hand in hand walking, and during rainy seasons, brave the rains, towards KK to do their daily round of selling. In time I saw them resorting to using walking sticks, still hand in hand, slowly going to work. Until one day, I notice the old girl did not have her partner anymore by her side. Died? Must have. Still, for many years, she would travel the same route, now bent and leaning more on the cane, going to KK. Can you imagine? If you lost your beloved of 50 or more years—the walks and the journeys you traverse together, the friendship, the warm dependable presence of the Other – would you have the desire anymore?

In the 90s, I drove to work from Inanam to Kota Kinabalu daily (still do) following Jalan Tuaran. Some of you that did this may also have noticed in the mornings at the traffic lights near Basel Church Likas a blind guy alighting from a bus, and in his arms is a small girl in kindergarten uniform. So he would stand ready to cross the (it was already busy then) road, carrying (presumably) his daughter. For two years, every morning passing by the traffic lights I marvelled at the braveness and the unerring belief of this blind man that he can keep his daughter safe. And the love to do right by his daughter. Tap tap tap. The daughter must be mid 20s by now and I hope she is doing right by her dad.

I knew somebody close to me who has a tragic family life to tell. When he got married, as like any other newly-married couple, he and his lovely wife was eager to start a family. True enough, a beautiful child was born to the family. What happy excitement for dad and mom. And to us, close family members. We celebrated full moon birthday. Utterly sadly, baby died a few months old after struggling in and out of hospitals. I can only imagine their deep sadness. And then in subsequent years, as they tried to have a family, this loving couple lost two more babies, the last one a mere 8-months old boy (the oldest of the 3). Congenital heart defects the doctors said. This was utterly tragic and no words will describe the great pain that the parents must have felt. Somebody said that the deepest pain a person can feel is when she/he has to bury her/his child. I agree. Still, knowing them until today, I can draw utmost inspiration from the way that they went on with their lives – to go on living, to smile, to continue to work, to be loving to each other, and to go on trusting God. I sometimes imagined if I was in that situation: I would have turned into the emotional equivalent of blackened unmoving jelly; I would have blamed God.

(Di, if you are reading this, call me anytime.)