Why Labour Day Is Celebrated On May 1st

Labour Day, or International Workers Day as it is known in some countries, is celebrated annually on May 1st to honour the achievements of workers and labourers. In modern times, many of us treat it as just another holiday – forgetting our predecessors fought hard, and sometimes lost their lives, so that we may enjoy better working conditions and rights today.

Image via needpix.com

Labour Day traces its origins to the late 19th century and the Industrial Revolution in the United States. The boom of the manufacturing industry, coupled with a lack of laws to protect employees, meant that the average American worker often worked 12 hour days, 7 days a week – sometimes in extremely unsafe or unsanitary environments – just to earn a basic living. Children were also exploited, as were the poor and immigrants. Over time, labour unions formed and began organising strikes and rallies to negotiate better hours, pay and working conditions.

A group of factory workers circa 1890. H.Armstrong Roberts / Classics Stock / Getty Images

1 May is significant as it commemorates the Haymarket affair of 1886, which began as a peaceful rally for workers striking for an eight-hour workday. The movement was massive and involved close to half a million workers all over the country, with the one in Chicago involving some 30,000 workers. Protests and demonstrations were held all across the city. The situation soon got out of hand when a group of workers on strike rushed barriers to confront strikebreakers (people who work despite a strike), and police guarding them fired into the crowd, killing two people. The next day, rallies resumed, and an unknown anarchist threw a dynamite bomb at members of the police force as they were attempting to disperse the meeting. The resulting gunfire saw seven police officers and four civilians dead, and dozens injured.

The event sparked an uproar not just in the States, but also made international headlines. Eight people were arrested on charges of anarchy, six of whom were German immigrants, which sparked widespread fear among the American public and general anti-immigrant sentiment. Four were hanged; another committed suicide in his jail cell while the rest were sentenced to prison. The deaths elevated the men to martyrdom, spawning even more protests across the world.

HaymarketRiot-Harpers
An 1886 engraving of the Haymarket Affair. – Image via public domain 

In retrospect, the trial was widely believed to have used the men and their status as immigrants as easy scapegoats, and that there was never any substantial evidence against them for the bomb-throwing – the actual culprit has never been found. 7 years later, the Illinois Governor would sign pardons for some of the men, and acknowledged that the failure to hold the police and guards responsible for their repeated use of lethal violence against striking workers as the spark that lit the fuse and led to such a tragic outcome.

The men’s deaths were not in vain, as in the face of such injustice and violence, it only served to stiffen the resolve of unions and workers’ associations all the more. Four years later, in 1889, a meeting was held to call for international demonstrations on the anniversary of the Chicago protests, to be held on May Day, and in 1904, there was finally a call from the International Socialist Congress to make it “mandatory upon the proletarian organisations of all countries to stop work on 1 May.” Companies would eventually start adopting better practices, but it wasn’t until 40 years later, in 1926, that Henry Ford finally mandated an eight hour, five day work week for workers, which forms the foundation of how we work today.

Today, Labour Day is observed on May 1 in most countries around the world, except (ironically) in the United States (and Canada), where it is celebrated in September, to distance itself from the Haymarket incident. It remains a prominent day for workers, and demonstrations are often held every year in some countries to voice demands for better pay or policies to help workers.

In this difficult time, I think it is even more imperative to honour the sacrifices that workers make, especially our front liners, in order to keep businesses running and provide essential services to the people. This one’s for all the healthcare professionals, the construction workers who build our homes and soaring skyscrapers, the postal service workers and delivery guys who get our parcels and food delivered to our homes, and everyone else who works and contributes to society in a meaningful way. No job is lesser than another – this day is for you.

Happy Labour Day!

 

 

Fast Food Chains That Are No Longer In Malaysia

Hey guys! It’s Day 20 of the Enhanced Movement Control Order in Malaysia, with about eight more days to go. There’ll be an announcement on April10th to see if it’ll be extended again. I hope not because my cravings are so bad, I actually dreamt of eating fried chicken – but this is a critical time and we might have no choice but to weather the storm.

Speaking of fried chicken, I’ve been watching videos of Keith from The Try Guys, where he eats everything on the menu of a fast food chain, like Wendy’s. We no longer have Wendy’s in Malaysia, so it was nostalgic to see some of the items they serve. It got me thinking about some of the other fast food chains that were here before, but are now long gone.

So without further ado:

White Castle

White Castle was founded in Wichita in 1928, wayyy before KFC or McDonalds. It is known for its small, square burgers – called ‘sliders – which has been listed by Time as one of the world’s most influential burgers. I don’t remember it, but apparently my parents brought me here once when I was very little. They didn’t last very long in Malaysia, so by the time I was old enough to remember eating fast food, they were already gone.

Long John Silver’s 

Back when I was younger, fast food was a luxury. My family was not well off, and my parents weren’t big fans of what they call ‘junk’ (they still aren’t, but now I can afford to grab a burger every now and then, lol). Perhaps it’s because these moments are so few and far between that I recall eating at Long John Silver’s so vividly. This American seafood chain was named after the pirate character from Treasure Island. Their fish and chips might just be the reason why I’m still a big fan of the dish today.

Shakey’s Pizza 

Shakey’s made its debut in the late 90s to early 2000s – I remember there was an outlet at my neighbourhood mall In Puchong, and we dined there a couple of times. Unfortunately the brand was unable to compete with more popular chains like Domino’s and Pizza Hut (both are still going strong today), and eventually shuttered. The last time I had Shakey’s was in Manila – not the pizza, but their potato mojos.

Papa John’s 

Another one that people my age might remember quite well is Papa John’s, an American pizza chain. Again, it did not survive too long and officially exited the Malaysian market in 2016. I was actually sad to see it go, as I really liked their cheese pizza, which was just plain pizza with different types of cheese. The crust was not as thick as Pizza Hut’s, but not as thin as Dominos.

Popeye’s 

Popeye’s was one of my favourite places for fried chicken – whenever my friends and I hit up Sunway Pyramid (that was the outlet closest to my place), we would stop by Popeye’s for their crispy, juicy Louisiana-style fried chicken. Of course, you can’t miss the honey butter biscuits and mashed potato.

Wendy’s 

Wendy’s was quite a recent exit, as Berjaya group did not renew their franchise last year. People laud them for their square-patty beef burgers, but personally, I prefer their fried chicken (no surprise!) . They had a shrimp burger on the menu once, which was excellent as well.

 

What are some of the nostalgic fast food chains in your country that have exited the market?

 

 

 

Review: Buffalo Wild Wings, Conrad Manila

Yeah, yeah… I know I just had wings at Frankie’s a few days prior, but when I saw that there was a Buffalo Wild Wings, I just couldn’t resist. The first (and only time) I had it was during my trip to Los Angeles several years ago. The sports-themed bar/resto left a really good impression, so I walked in to their branch in Manila with some expectations. They did not disappoint.

20171205_112514

Located just next to the lobby of Conrad Manila, the interior has been modeled to look like the American ones, with the same cheerful bright yellow walls paired with brick deco, booth-style seating, mini bar and lots of sport paraphernalia, from posters to signed shirts. Large screen TVs playing sports channels dominate every corner of the ceiling. We were there early so the resto was quite empty, but service was quick, friendly and efficient nonetheless.

20171205_112641

The best combo. Tho I don’t drink beer. 😀

N and I got two flavours to share. They go from mild to moderate to spicy to you-will-cry spicy. You can also choose to have the regular wings or boneless.

20171205_114554

Buffalo dry rub. Wings were lightly coated, so the skin was thin, crisp and made crackling noises with each bite. Meat inside was tender, moist and juicy. The rub had just the right balance of savoury with a hint of sour. Dip was creamy without being cloying. Good stuff!

Asian Zing was a delectable, finger-licking combination of sweet, savoury,and tangy. The ranch dip helped to take the edge off the spiciness.

The wings were top notch, and we enjoyed munching on them as we watched some matches on the big screen TVs up above. It’s easy to polish off a dozen in one go! Prices are slightly above average but as expected of its location/setting. They also have branches in BGC and Makati.

BUFFALO WILD WINGS 

Conrad Hotel Manila, Seaside Blvd, Pasay, Metro Manila, Philippines

Opening hours: 11AM – 11PM (Sun-Thurs), 11AM – 12AM (Fri-Sat)

Phone: (02) 777-2905

buffalowildwings.ph

 

Movie Review: Sully

2009 seems like a long time ago,  but I remember it quite clearly – flipping open the newspaper to an extraordinary picture of a commercial airplane in the water, with passengers standing on its wings. The photo was that of US Airways Flight 1549, which struck a flock of geese shortly after takeoff from LaGuardia Airport, disabling both its engines. The captain, Chelsey Sullenberger, made a split second decision to land in the Hudson River instead of flying back to the airport. All 155 passengers on board survived with minor injuries, and Sullenberger was hailed as a national hero. For a couple of months, the story stayed fresh in my mind, but like everything else, slowly faded into the archives of memory.

rtr23fp8

Until the autobiographical movie, Sully, came out.

Directed by Clint Eastwood and starring Tom Hanks, it chronicles the story of Captain Sullenberger and the US Airways 1549 flight crew, both during and after the crash. The incident is told through flashbacks as Hanks, who plays the pivotal role of the Captain extremely well, suffers from intense PTSD visions  in which he constantly sees a plane crashing, blurring the line between hallucinations and reality. He struggles to cope under the stress of an investigation by the National Transport Safety Board, which seems determined to pin the crash on pilot error.

I didn’t have expectations going in to watch the film, as I thought it was just another action movie. So when the film opening showed Sullenberger getting ready to face an inquiry (the crash had already happened), I was a little surprised. The movie itself is only one and a half hours long – very short in comparison to the three-hour hold-your-pee-in films Hollywood likes churning out these days – but it keeps you engaged and interested throughout.

We all know the ending to this story: the Captain saves everyone and emerges a hero. For many, knowing the ending ‘spoils’ the movie, but Eastwood still manages to keep the audience wanting to know what ‘comes next’. He is also extremely clever at playing with the timeline. For example, Sully is in a pub, listening to the news of the plane crash, when the scene transitions to vivid ‘recollection’ mode. Suddenly, he is back on the plane, and the engines have just shut down. The passengers are in a panic as Sully tells them to brace for impact. Just before hitting the water, the scene comes back to Sully at the bar, startled out of his reverie.

In an environment saturated with over-the-top action films, sequel after sequel after bloody sequel, and lame superhero comedies, Sully is a refreshing change, precisely because it returns to the classic ‘hero’ roots. Unlike the modern anti-heroes (Deadpool, for example), or bad-ass types, Sully is an old-world hero with a silent but powerful dignity, shown through his actions rather than words. When faced with the inquiry, he is calm and professional, despite the provocation he faces from the board. After landing, Sully is the last to leave the plane, ensuring everyone is safe before he exists. Eastwood employs the theme of good ol’ fashioned heroism to great effect.

Hanks is stoic and radiates a professional calm – the archetypal snowy-haired, kindly father figure – which only he can pull off so convincingly. Sully is not a ‘warrior’, he is an everyday man doing his everyday job, but in the process becomes a hero. You can see his anxiety at being thrown into the spotlight during interviews. You can see the relief flooding his face when he realizes all 155 passengers onboard are accounted for. Heroes are often invincible, capable of amazing feats, but in Sully’s case, it is this very human touch that makes the character, and the film, so relatable.

All in all, a great tribute to an amazing human being, whose quick thinking action saved the lives of many, including himself. 
Score: 9/10

NY Steak Shack, Sunway Pyramid

(Update) This outlet is permanently closed.

Manhattan Fish Market. San Francisco Coffee. Marrybrown. What do all these restaurants/eateries have in common?

Well, they all sound very Western, but are actually Malaysian. And they’ve marketed themselves in such a way that not many people know that these brands are actually homegrown!

Now we can add another one of these restaurants to the list: the New York Steak Shack. Specialising in cheap steaks and affordable western food in a casual American diner setting, the brand has been around for a couple of years and have outlets in a few major shopping malls in the Klang Valley.

Bel and I recently dropped by the newly opened outlet in Sunway Pyramid for lunch.

20150929_132526-tile

Sorry, no pictures of interior because we sat outside. 😡 Steaks are kinda heavy for lunch, so we got other food instead.

(Above) Bel’s Honey Fried Chicken Salad (only Rm11.55!) came topped with a humongous deep fried chicken patty and vegetables enough to feed a small army, drizzled over with dressing. The chicken was crunchy on the outside, typical of breaded crusts, while the dressing was a sweet and savoury. The veggies were pretty fresh too. All in all, a satisfying salad. Couldn’t finish it so we got a doggie bag to go.

20150929_132533-tile

I had the Tangy Fish Sandwich (RM13.67) – a soda-battered filet with mustard sauce, served with a random side of salad and mashed potato in gravy. The buns were buttered and a tad too oily, but the fish filet was battered well. Crispy on the outside with flaky soft white fish meat. Mashed taters was pretty good too. Everything was served on a flat wooden spoon plate with a handle for easy eating.

All in all, the food was decent and most importantly, the price was not expensive for the quality and atmosphere. Have yet to try their steaks, so maybe another time.

NY Steak Shack

LG 2.45 & 2.46, LG2. Sunway Pyramid Shopping Mall, No. 3, Jalan Pjs 11/15, Bandar Sunway 46150, Petaling Jaya, Selangor
Tel: 03-5612 7217

Opening hours: Daily 10am – 10pm.

TexMex Food @ Chilli’s, Paradigm Mall

I think I’ve only been to Chili’s once before, and that was many years ago with my then-bf when we were both poor students and that was our idea of a ‘fancy’ meal.

Fast forward a couple of years, and my second Chili’s meal turned out to be over a catchup session with my ex-coursemates and C9 flat roomies, Bel and Jo, at Paradigm Mall. It was completely random because we didn’t know what to eat, it was kinda late and we happened to be passing by the restaurant. So, Chili’s it was.

20150808_201150-tile

True to their Tex-Mex influence, the restaurant has a cosy interior with bar area, booths for privacy, comfy seats and wooden panelling.

Menu-wise, expect fajitas, burgers, burritos, tacos, salads with loads of meat, enchiladas and the like. The restaurant does not serve pork (coz Malaysia) but has alcoholic drinks.

20150808_202715-tile

I had their Chicken Ranch Sandwich (Idk why they bothered calling it a sandwich.. they’re basically burgers) – crispy breaded chicken breast with spicy wing sauce, tomato, lettuce and ranch dressing on sesame seed buns, served with thick fries.

Ketchuped the sht out of the fries, which were pretty good.

The sammich was huge. I couldn’t even eat it in mouthfuls – had to split it up and eat the buns and meat separately. Buns were a bit oily coz they soaked up all the butter and it got soggy, but the chicken breast was really big and crispy, coated with savoury buffalo wing sauce.As with thick cuts of meat, the inside was dry, and I barely tasted any ranch. Passable.

RM22.95. 

20150808_202721-tile

20150808_202725-tileJo’s Chicken Cajun Sandwich (RM23.95) was equally big, but the patty looked juicier. A spicy, Cajun-style grilled chicken breast with Swiss cheese, jalapenos, lettuce, tomato, pickles and Ancho-Chile Ranch dressing, topped with crispy onion rings.

20150808_202732-tile

Bel’s Country Fried Chicken (RM28.95), served with boiled brocolli, a large dollop of creamy mashed potatoes, and generous serving of fried chicken topped over with ranch. The chicken was exactly the same as mine but without the spicy wing sauce.

Service was fast and friendly, and we got free water as well. You can also opt for refillable soft drinks or iced-lemon tea (RM8.95).

Chili’s Grill & Bar,

Lot GB01, Ground Floor,
Paradigm Mall,
1, Jalan SS 7/26A, Kelana Jaya
47301 Petaling Jaya, Selangor Darul Ehsan
Tel : 03 7887 3298
Opening hours: 11am – 11pm (weekdays), 12am (weekends)

 

 

9/8/15

California Academy of Sciences, San Francisco

SAM_8977

To start off the day, here’s a fluffy fat cat. 🙂 His name is Apu Jukkai. Look at that majestic white beard and white socks awww.

SAM_8985-tile

So here we are again in San Francisco!

I was glad that we got to visit and take a complete picture of the Golden Gate Bridge the day before, because on our second day, most of the structure disappeared under a cloud of dense fog. It felt like entering Silent Hill as we drove into the city.

Golden Gate Park is located just next to the bridge.With beautiful, shady trees and flower gardens, this sprawling 1,000 acre park is also home to several attractions such as the California Academy of Sciences – our stop for the day.

SAM_8986-tile

SAM_9082-tile

Dubbed the world’s ‘greenest museum’, the Platinum-certified building is one of the largest natural history museums in the world, with its own planetarium and aquarium.

I’d recommend spending at least half a day here, because there are lots of fun things to see and do, especially for families with kids. Educational and fun!

SAM_8989-tile

As befitting of Californian museums, a dinosaur fossil replica greets visitors at the entrance.

SAM_8994-tile

The first section of the museum is dedicated to the ecosystem, with realistic displays of animals such as zebras and apes. There is also a tank with live penguins.

SAM_9003-tile

An open pool with stingrays and fish.

SAM_9007-tile

Moss and other water plants thriving in clean, filtered water.

SAM_9014-tile

Stuffed possum and babies.

SAM_9013-tile

San Francisco sits on a fault line, and a major quake in 1906 killed over 3,000 people and destroyed 80% of the city. A section of the museum is dedicated to explaining the geology of San Francisco and info on earthquakes.

We got into an earthquake simulator where you stand in a room and it shakes. I wasn’t scared because I knew it was just a simulation, but it would have been terrifying in real life!

There were interactive quizzes to test visitor’s knowledge, such as what to do during an earthquake, etc. I learnt a lot. For example, water in a toiletbowl’s tank is safe for drinking in case of emergency and if you’re trapped in the house while waiting for rescue.

SAM_9015-tile

We caught the Planetarium show, which took us through a show on the Bay Area’s biodiversity. It was my first time in a planetarium dome, and it was a great experience. You really feel like the images are popping out at you and the surround sound makes it more realistic. It’s like you’re flying through space and time.

SAM_9018-tile

Downstairs is the aquarium section.

SAM_9019-tile SAM_9020-tile

Fish of all colours and shapes in the Philippine Coral Reef Tank. The Phils has one of the most diverse ecosystems in the world, with many species of marine aquatic life in its waters.

SAM_9034-tile SAM_9036-tile

Glow in the dark polyps.

Museum staff are stationed all around the aquarium to help visitors with interesting and informational tidbits on the exhibits 🙂

SAM_9038-tile SAM_9040-tile

So pretty and colourful! 🙂

SAM_9045-tile

These poisonous blowfishes were adorable.

SAM_9046-tile

SAM_9058-tile

“Gimme a kiss there, handsome boy.”

SAM_9060-tile

SAM_9062-tile

The Academy also boasts a gigantic, multi-tiered Rainforest ‘dome’, with real birds and butterflies flying around! The air was humid and warm on the inside, just like the tropical jungles of Malaysia.

SAM_9067-tile

A mini ‘river/lake’ ecosystem.

SAM_9069-tile

Glass cases with vividly coloured frogs. The bright colours tell predators that they are either poisonous or taste bad.

SAM_9061-tile

SAM_9072-tile

A ‘Tomato’ frog. No points for guessing where it got that name.

SAM_9073-tile

SAM_9080-tile

Birds flocking to a dish full of food. 🙂

I really enjoyed my visit to the museum because there are lots of things to see and do and I think kids (and adults!) can learn interesting things about our planet and ecosystem.

CALIFORNIA ACADEMY OF SCIENCES

55 Music Concourse Dr, San Francisco, CA 94118, United States

Daily:  9:30 am – 5 pm
Sundays: 11 am – 5 pm

Ticket price: $34.95 (Adult) & $24.95 (child). 

If you’re travelling around SF for a couple of days and visiting various attractions, I recommend a GO San Francisco card. We booked that in Los Angeles and it helped us a lot in saving up on tickets.

 

Avila Adobe, Olvera Street Los Angeles

SAM_8282-tile

It’s easy to miss the entrance to the Avila Adobe while walking down Olvera Street in Downtown LA. The main door is closed and you can only enter through a tiny side door that is quite hidden from the main path. Go hunt for it though – it’s worth it. We’re talking about visiting the oldest existing house in Los Angeles! So much history waiting to be discovered.

Built in 1818 by a wealthy Mexican ranchero (ranch owner) called Francisco Avila, the building has a well-kept wooden and adobe brick facade. Although simple in appearance on the outside, it is well kept and spacious on the inside.

SAM_8286-tile SAM_8287-tile

The walls are thick and sturdy-looking, as they were built from sun-baked adobe (mud) bricks. In California’s hot and dry weather, this was perfect and that’s why the building has lasted until today. Even so, the place we see now is not as it was back in the 18th century. The roof, for example, is slanted – while the original roof was flat, typical of Mexican architecture in the early days. The vineyard in the rear courtyard is also gone.

What we do see is a large courtyard in the center, surrounded by rooms. This layout is similar to traditional Chinese homes.

SAM_8289-tile

We went inside for a quick peek, because it was near closing time. The villa is divided into several rooms, including kitchen, bedroom, office, etc. There are heavy Catholic-Spanish influences, evidenced by the many cross figures and paintings of either Jesus or Mary hanging on the walls. The house was considered a very luxurious one for someone of their time and status.

After Avila’s death and the Mexican-American war,  Avila’s daughter and her husband moved in. By then, the house had fallen into decay. They moved out and rented it to tenants, but a major earthquake in the 1870s destroyed much of the home. By 1928, LA county was raring to demolish the eyesore. Thanks to the efforts of Christine Sterling, an English woman, it was restored to its former glory in 1930. Olvera Street, which used to be a ‘skid row’ (aka ghetto area) also became a centre of culture and a major tourist attraction.

SAM_8290-tile

Rooms are recreated to give tourists a feel of how life was like in the house during its heyday.

SAM_8291-tile

The kitchen, complete with its own cooking wooden stove.

SAM_8293-tile SAM_8296-tile

Replica of a wooden wagon, such as one that was used by ranchers in the olden days.

SAM_8298-tile

Gourd-shaped clay pots, jars and earthern bowls.

SAM_8299-tile

Fenced off front patio.

Avila Adobe 

East 10 Olvera Street,Los Angeles, California

Entrance: Free