Tuesday, December 30, 2003

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From VillagePhotos website:

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Hence, the picture boxes with red Xs in previous posts. Sorry! Will just have to wait until the service is up again. It's a hard life, this, being a freerider :)

Trip to the North - Day 1

December 26th
KL – Ipoh – Kangar

0840 hrs : Bags all packed. Engines started.
0845 hrs : Last minute excursions to the toilet. Final checks on all doors and windows. House alarm switched on. Catfood left with the usual kid next-door, ration enough for three days and a half at least.
0855 hrs : Cars can finally move after long goodbyes to the house-cats and the neighbors across the road (who just happened to be in their garden). Number of people in cars - Car #1 (three), Car #2 (three), Car #3 (two). Total : eight.
0900 hrs : Arrived at the bakery to pick up the cake. Bakery appeared to be still ‘closed’. Called the phone number in order receipt. Was assured by person on phone that somebody was already in the bakery, will tell her to open the door.
0910 hrs : After a second call, a bakery staff appeared and opened the door. Looked grumpy. Picked up the cake. Reminded them to open shop punctually next time.
0930 hrs : On to the highway!

[ Some big, big labus of Ipoh ]

1220 hrs : Arrived in Ipoh. Brunch. Rest awhile. Driver of #1 had forty winks. Drivers of #2 and #3 had more than one serving of fried beehoon each.
1402 hrs : Back on the road. Number of passengers now plus two (both in Car #1).

[ 1640 hrs : Kita minum dulu!! ]

[ 1645 hrs : There was enough time for the ‘baby’ to have a go at the playground ]

1900 hrs : Arrived in Kangar. Went round and round a particular area of town four times before finally finding the place for the night. Serves them right for depending on a directionally-challenged passenger to show the way. Car #4 reported arriving at 1500 hrs and had already sampled the chicken tandoori at the restaurant next-door.

2105 hrs : Out to dinner. The place was at the roadside on the way to Kuala Perlis. Order included listed items on signboard except one - nobody felt like going for the taste of ‘stim boot’.

[2130 hrs : The first item to arrive after the drinks. Uber-crunchy ‘sotong goreng tepung’. Two whole platefuls cleaned in 10 minutes.]

2245 hrs : Car #2 off to Uitm Arau to pick up another passenger. Had to hurry, gate closes at 11p.m. Made it just in time.

[ Ted's room ]

2330 hrs : Safely back at the inn. Cars #5 and #6 had arrived. Total no. of rooms booked for the night – eight. Maximum no. of people crashed in a single room – five.
0100 hrs (next day) : Finally in bed after impromptu session reminiscing of old times and catching up on the latest family gossip.

Wednesday, December 24, 2003

Bahlsen's Croissini

[ Pretty croissants ]

Look! Croissants! Buttery, flaky croissants. Hmm hmmm... I just love croissants. That hard-to-pronounce piece of the pastry family, delicious on its own especially warm right out of the oven (or microwave) and also as sandwiches with tuna mayo or whatever filling you desire... But then for this one, look again:

[ Size comparison (tip to tip of each croissant about 4cm) ]

[ The packaging (sorry, hand wasn't steady) ]

I came across this bag of Bahlsen's mini-croissants at the Giant Supermarket in Amcorp Mall, priced at RM 3.69 for a skimpy 75g of sweet pastry bliss. At first I thought it was quite expensive, but curiosity got the better of me and I feel I just had to have them if only to see what they look like (I once bought a pack of Arnott's shortbread because I thought the picture on the packaging looked nice, but found out later that taste and texture of the product left much to desire. Umh.. I regretted that one). Yours truly have this rather obsessive liking for most stuff that list flour and butter as the main parts of the ingredients.

The verdict? Yummy! The croissants were actually harder than the usual big ones - lightly crunchy (almost like thin biscuits). They were as flaky as their normal counterparts, and just as buttery with no oily residue at all. Another plus is that it has a nice thin sugary glaze, just enough to make the sweetness distinct but not too sweet. I found myself licking my fingers after finishing the whole bag (including the flakes at the bottom!).

The small size makes it suitable for nibbling (pop one or two in the mouth and crunch, crunch awayy), and the practical packaging (handy, very easy to open unlike some packaging where you need to use your sharp incisors and both hands) makes it a convenient choice to bring places e.g. the office, on long journeys, at beach picnics etc. The only drawback is you better not sit or crush the bag unless you want it to be a bag of crumbettes and flakkinis instead of croissinis.

Tuesday, December 23, 2003

Lost and found

Yesterday I lost my work diary and notebook at the KL Sentral station. I thought all was lost (although it's okay) until I received a call a few hours later from a Korporal Mustaffa informing that the items were at the Balai Polis Bantuan KL Sentral, and what time would I like to come and collect them? So I went straight to the station after buying my train ticket for the journey home, and was met by a very helpful policeman with the name-tag of 'Khazairi'.

After the initial Q&A session ("Ada apa boleh saya tolong? Oh… diari.. sekejap saya periksa. Tertinggal kat mana tadi? Kerja kat mana ni?") and some mumblemumble into the walkie talkie ("Stesyen satu ke stesyen dua.. ermm blabla hilang diari dadidu ada ke jumpa yadayada") he went out awhile to get the keys to the inner room and voila! Encik Khazairi (is it correct to address a policeman that way?) however did not fail to first verify via my driving license ("Kena la pastikan…. takut nanti jadi apa-apa") that I am indeed the person whose name was written as the rightful owner of said items. The diary and notebook were in excellent condition, and unsurprisingly sans the RM10 note. According to Encik Khazairi, the items were found at a phone booth whereas I left it on an ATM machine, so there. He did ask me to check that nothing was amiss, but I decided not to take any more of his time (and risk missing the 1808 train home) over RM10 which I'm sure by then was either safely tucked in the wallet of or was already spent by the person who took it.

It amazed me that a person would take the trouble of going through all the worknotes and whatnots of a found diary. He or she would have to do exactly that to found the money considering I put it obscurely between some papers at the side pocket (even I myself had on occasions forgotten about that particular stash). I also like to stash my coins in various containers, then I'd forget all about it and find them again maybe 4-5 months later. Maybe I should do away with this stashing habit? What about you, do YOU have a stashing habit? According to this however, a stashing habit is good feng shui!

A big thanks to Korporal Mustaffa and Khazairi of Stesen Polis Bantuan KL Sentral for making the effort to return those insignificant-looking items to its rightful owner, for I know they could've just didn't bother and simply chuck them in the dumpster if they didn't care. Or maybe their job was that uneventful that the lost items were actually the highlight of the day… hehehe…. No lah.. I really am thankful! Who says the police do not care about the common public?

Life lessons

[ 47 items altogether ]

#765 - When dining out in a big group, assign someone to be the 'accountant' to work out the bill. The one with the fattest wallet could pay first and collect the money afterwards, assisted by the 'accountant'. Simply passing the money tray and bill around for people to put their part in is not a very good idea. Ticking off each item is practical although doing so in front of the waiter may draw some raised eyebrows. Ignore him/her. It's very easy to get confused when there are forty-seven items on the bill.

#763 - Always ASK for the menu when ordering food at an unfamiliar establishment. If they don't have a menu, ask for the ordered items' price. That unassuming pitcher of carbonated drink could cost you RM33 for all you know.

#521- Be careful with white tops. They have a way of attracting unsightly stains at awkward places. A spare top could prove useful especially on long journeys.

#522 - Kunyit (turmeric) stains from masak lemak on a white top would not come out with simply soap and water. Changing the top is better (refer lesson #521).

#866 - Rain + horse = wet horse
ooooooWet horse + ride = smelly clothes

Monday, December 22, 2003

Kenduri affairs

Yesterday was my cousin's wedding do (congratulations Fazly & Siti Rohaini!) in Selayang. I got the 'bunga telur' duty (complete with a lace-decked basket and all) as no one else seemed to want it. I didn't mind it too much though, it wasn't a very difficult affair thanks to the countless occasions before where I held the same exact post at other relatives' kenduris. Plus I got two small assistants who could 'sneak in' between the chairs better and more inconspicously than I could, all I need to do is point and tell them which makcik or pakcik or kakak or abang and they'd zoom in to the target ("Tu, makcik yang pakai baju biru, dengan anak dia") with a bunga telur (for adults) or cake-pack (for children) in hand. The only drawbacks were - 1) There may be two makciks in blue near each other, and they'd get confused; and 2) The bunga telurs were sometimes freely placed precariously at the edge of the table, to which I'd have to go in person and correct the mistakes. By 4 p.m., there were only a few groups of late-comers here and there so I just filled up a basket each of bunga telurs and cake-packs and place them at the frontmost table. Yeah, take your own then. Have your pick, either bunga telur or cake-pack, or both.

[ My 'bunga-telur-duty' assistants ]

It's good to catch up with the relatives as I didn't get to meet many of them during the recent raya festivities. As usual, it seems like no family gathering (and especially at weddings) is ever complete (for me at least) without the customary million-dollar questions similar to the lines of "Haaa.... awak tu bila lagi?" (when will it be your turn to marry?) to which I usually answer with either "Nanti-nanti lah" (sooner or later) if the relative doing an impersonation of Jalaluddin Hassan is an elder or "Within the next few financial years" if they would understand what that means. And then I have a particular aunt who would almost unfailingly tell me of 'this eligible young man, a [insert occupation] and is the son/nephew/brother of [insert name of an unknown distant relative or family friend]' each time we met (3 or 4 times yearly on average). I love her, and I know she has my best interests at heart, but it can be a little bit of an annoyance sometimes. Don't worry la... when the time comes, God-willing, I'd be contributing towards the statistics as a part of all those smugly-married couples out there, but until then (until I find THE guy that I feel I can connect to, have fun with, be serious with, and finally grow old with, that is), they'd all just have to wait. Very patiently :)

1) I came across this in minishort's blog - "If someone says that I need to be stupid and uneducated to get married, then I'd rather be clever and educated and not married". Exactly.

2) Received a call from the KL Sentral police booth around 2 p.m. - apparently my diary and notebook (refer previous entry) are there. Yay!

All's okay

First day back to the office, and I managed to lose my work notebook and diary at the KL Sentral station. The cleaning service there certainly proved that they're so very-very efficient. I absentmindedly left the notebook and diary on the ATM machine and only realized what I did after 2 LRT stops later. Got off, caught the next train in the opposite direction and when I returned to the crime scene (which was about 10 minutes later) both items were nowhere to be seen. 10 minutes, that's all it takes. And so, late-lah for the office. Luckily da Boss is not in when I arrived, so that's okay.

There are only a few days left anyway in 2003... hmmm... nothing much for the rest of the year that I haven't planned yet, and I can remember them all, so that's okay. Don't think there's much chance I'm gonna get involved in anything that'd require me to account and prove for where I was with whom and when during any day in the year 2003, so all the notes on daily activities lost then, still okay. The diary was a useful source of work-related addresses and phone numbers, but we'd all be getting a new diary for 2004 soon, so that's okay too. There was also a RM10 note in between some papers in the diary (for emergencies e.g. lunch money / train fare), but it was only RM10 after all. Okay. As for the work notes though, I suppose I'd just have to make do with a new book and what I can remember. And ask around for things I've forgotten. Still okay.

While taking stock of the 'loss', the last thing that I remembered was that there were some stuff I've written during my time away which was meant for blog posts, all neatly placed in the diary! Oh man, now I'd have to do a complete re-write, which as the writing process go would never be similar to the original as there are no other notes whatsoever. Ah well. These grey cells are still waaaaaay before their 'best by' date yet.

So there. All's okay then. A lot has happened during the last two weeks. There were a lot of great moments, great company, and I did some soul-searching as well. I found a few things within myself, and the people around me. Discovered new experiences, re-lived some old times. It was hard to imagine going back to the office after all that, but life goes on. And hey, it's all okay though. Thank you, God, for this life and all that I have.

Note: While editing the last bit of this post, there was a momentary blackout at the office. Nasib baik I've already saved it as a draft post. See? Still okay :)

Wednesday, December 10, 2003

NOT in the news

Directionally-challenged blogger found way to venue, got lost on way back home

KUALA LUMPUR, 6 Dec - Resident blogger of What's the matter?, Ted, a 20-something Piscean female, successfully reached her destination in Bandar Baru Sentul yesterday for an open house function but managed to confuse her way back home and ended deep in the bowels of a housing area near Jalan Gombak before maneuvering a tricky 3-point-turn and finally managing to locate a signboard showing the way to Pusat Bandaraya which prompted her towards a fruitful journey back home via the KL-Seremban highway.

When asked whether it was the lack of signboards proclaiming 'This way back home' or the combination of food which filled her to the max, she opted for "my eyesight is actually better during the day, and the aroma of leftover laksa and currypuffs on the backseat messed my concentration and further dulled my sense of directions".

[ Ted's own handwritten note of provided map ]

The self-confessed directionally-challenged blogger admitted that the provided online map to the venue was very precise, and the instructions very easy to understand but "unfortunately it did not provide the directions to get away from the place (Bandar Baru Sentul), leaving me to fully depend on my already none-too-excellent judgment and guess my way back". She added that she knew she actually had to make a U-turn after the first junction out of Bandar Baru Sentul, but stated that "there was nowhere that I can see to do so". She added that she saw a place where "a lot of vehicles were making u-turns like there was no tomorrow" along the main road, but there was a "No U-turn" sign there and she was on the left-most lane thus making it almost impossible to reach that point safely in time. Spokesperson from the Road and Transportation department could not be reached for further comments on Ted's questionable, or rather lack of driving skills necessary for the Malaysian roads despite passing the standard test for a driver's license at the first attempt. According to dependable sources, the blogger was actually served her first summons even before she passed the driving test, or to be more exact during one of the driving lessons taken under the coaching of a driving school instructor.

This is definitely not the first case when Ted had lost her way in getting around town, regardless whether it was to a new office, special functions' venues, eating joints or even to friends' homes that she'd actually been to before. When asked if any preparation was made towards the possibility of getting lost yesterday, she admitted that she was fully prepared with "a half-full tank of gas and a Touch-N-Go card loaded with RM20, which I reckon would be enough considering driving in KL, (where) sooner or later I'd come across a green signboard showing the way to the (Seremban-bound) highway". She had also fully-charged her cellphone battery, knowing that the situation may turn ugly and she may need to call upon the help of others to direct her towards the correct route. Ted pleas for the public to be kind towards lost drivers, and not make rude remarks or look away with disdain whenever a lost person asks for directions. She wished to remind that "the next lost driver could be your own family or friend, would you turn them away?"

On a happier note, Ted confirmed that she had the way to Bandar Baru Sentul now affixed in her mind (she got lost on the way there twice before), and that she had a smashing time at the party (the currypuffs were her contribution towards the merriment). Ted was heard making the statement "I go to some open houses purely for the food, but this one, it was definitely the company". Although a couple of children latched themselves on her person almost a-third of the time (most probably due to the fact that there wasn't much difference between their heights and hers), Ted did manage to sample a large selection of the food served and declared the fare "scrumptious, delicious and lip-smackingly yummy".

The open house function was a privately-held pot luck party at another blogger's apartment (name withheld for security reasons) and was attended by close to 30 mutual friends and their family members as well as a couple of the venue-provider's own close friends. Reliable sources reported that the party started as early as 11 a.m. and went on even after the end of the live telecast of Miss World 2003. Ted was seen leaving the place around 10 p.m., declaring "it is already quite late" despite demands from several other attendees to hang around a bit longer.

Asked about current blogging activities, it was noted that Ted may not be able to blog as often as usual this week and the next due to job-related matters, but will try to "find the chance for a post or two" or else just make some notes and make up for the lost time when she gets back home. - Blogger Daily

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Friday, December 05, 2003


über-, uber-
adjective HUMOROUS
used before nouns to mean 'extreme' or 'extremely good/successful':
e.g. über-model, Giselle

(from Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary)

[ über-lemangs ]

At first glance, these may look just like three normal lemangs on a sunny day, but look closer. See that public telephone set on the left? Yes, that blue-and-silver-colored box on the left. Now, ain't that the damnedest biggest lemang you've ever seen? Well, it was for me anyway. I suspect if it's the real thing, it would've gone into the Malaysia Book of Records already, heck, maybe even into the Guinness Book of World Records! Imagine how many people it could've fed, this one.

Went to the big company Raya do yesterday. The serving time announced was 1.30 p.m., so we went at 1 p.m. thinking we'd be among the early ones and thus avoid the 'peak-hour' crowd. Heh, were we wrong! It turned out that food was actually available starting at around 12 p.m., and the clever ones who went earlier than us got to have lunch with all the bigwigs in the industry. When we arrived, the place was already swinging with people who must've had the same thought of I'll-go-earlier-than-1-p.m.-ain't-I-clever, and most of the big honchos were already leaving. Well, at least we were spared from the speeches I suppose.

[ This is only one-half of the hall, during non peak-hour period. See another display of giant lemangs on the stage in the middle? ]

The food was okay, the usual buffet of Malaysian-style Raya fare including satay, lemang, nasi impit, rendang and such. But the crowd was.. well… let's say that at several moments there were no clean plate in sight (despite the caterers' constant effort of putting new plates on the tables) and the lines ran longer than the length of the hall itself. I saw people turning empty serving containers of kuih raya into eating plates, and one fellow even made a pair of satay sticks into chopsticks to eat noodles with. Apparently free food and lack of tableware got the creative juices flowing.

There were live ghazal (Eastern verse form) music and a few singing performances, but I don't think people pay much attention to the stage at all (except maybe when an actual singer was performing). How could us when there were food to be finished (and clean plates were scarce)?

Wednesday, December 03, 2003


Quote of the day:

"You cannot beat the.
Invariably it all comes down to the in the end.
The is the uber-word".

From the Blather page

In the Blather page, every other word is linked to the "blathers" made by the "blatherers". Stumbled upon the page while doing a search on jello.

A free overdose of words, guaranteed!

Did you know that you can use jello to dye wool or silk?

The source of the protein in Jell-O is "hide trimmings," animal tissue that is rendered, purified, filtered, and then purified again, leaving a protein called collagen. For Muslims, gelatins are haram (forbidden) unless the sources of the gelatins are plant-based e.g. agar agar (seaweed gelatin), or pectin.

Hmm.... good old agar-agar. Boil in water, add sugar to the sweetness of your liking, put in some food coloring or milk or milo or coconut milk for taste and color, pour into tin tray, leave to cool. They make nice-looking desserts, eh?

Wait, how did this post proceed from the uber-word to agar-agar anyway? Ah well. Doesn't matter :)

Tuesday, December 02, 2003

Defending my own

A few weeks earlier, my parents (both in their 50s) were lamenting over how disappointed they are with the lot of today's graduates whom they encounter in the course of their daily work. According to the senior couple, although these fresh grads had been students with a string of As in SPM and above-average grades in university, the way they represent themselves, how they articulate their thoughts / opinions and their interaction skills leave much to be desired. They don't know how to ask questions. They can't follow simple directions. They don't have the right work etiquette. They this and that. The standard of their English is another pet peeve - when my parents brought work stuff home (which they usually do), they'd show me examples of papers / letters / proposals prepared by their junior staff. And I can't blame the elders for thinking so, seeing that some of the preposterous mistakes are not ones you'd think a university graduate should make. They went "What did you all learn at school anyway? They just don't produce quality people these days despite the quantity of graduates out of universities each year. All today's young people think of is money, and to enjoy time with friends, is it? If these are what the good students at uni had become, what are those who didn't excel like?"

Being in the same league as the lot, (okay, maybe I'm not that fresh graduation-wise, but still I relate to them age-wise) I felt compelled to defend my generation and see those comments as a direct shot. I can't let them think we're all a bunch of immature, inadequate youngsters who aren't able to say what's on our minds and can't spell correctly to save our lives. I reminded them that those are only the ones that they encounter, a minute percentage, and that it shouldn't be used as the general standard of all of us. There are competent youngsters out there, believe me there are! Perhaps being with a lifetime of experience, the older generation's set of standards are just a bit too high for us youngsters.

Then I came across this little snippet (in the last paragraph) in the feature The Google book on the front page of Life & Times section of yesterday's New Straits Times:

"Because anecdotally, the biggest complaint about many of today's fresh graduates is that they can't tell a fact from their little finger".

Oh my, is that the general perception then? Oh man. Really, I'd like to say to the elders that we youngters are not that bad. Give us the chance to learn, to make mistakes, to learn from those mistakes. We can't be perfect (who can?), but we can improve ourselves with time and experience. Don't lose your hope on us. Remember, you were youngsters once yourselves.

And to my generation, let's prove them wrong. Let's buck up and show them what we're made of. After all, I think we owe that much to the generation that had given us what we have today. We owe it to ourselves, too.

Saturday, November 29, 2003

Spending my time...

I have a few topics tittering in my head to blog about, but they'd have to wait. Or maybe I'll resort to longhand.

While all else is happening around the world e.g. Bush having a Thanksgiving dinner in Iraq, our Works Minister giving out statements regarding the NKVE rockfall and a certain viewtru is contemplating and bullshitting planning various scams strategies (here, here and here) to turn himself into a gadzillionaire millionaire-blogging chap, I am content to while away my sweet 10-days holiday by doing nothing much except relaxing at home, carrying out domestic errands and celebrating raya i.e. entertaining relatives/friends who dropped by for a visit. It always fascinates me each year to see what changes (which cousin got married between this raya and previous raya, who moved house, which niece / nephew are taller than me now) and what doesn’t (the sort of conversation abound - this relative and that relative did bla bla bla during bla bla bla).

Office colleagues Amin and Marine came over this morning, and we went ‘house-hopping’. Four houses (including mine), two half-movies (we watched Ju-on and Scary Movie 3 halfway at Marine’s), several photo albums (Amin has this fixation on looking through other people’s photo albums) and countless consumption of juice and kuih raya later, we were stuffed to the max.

A lawyer ready for some rambutan-picking action before we leave

I went back only to discover that we are expecting more guests at home (Mom’s cousin whom I don’t remember ever meeting before). Ah.. another to add to our long list of relatives. Raya is always a good time for these meetings, in fact if not for this celebration, we might not take much initiative to make such visits. On Dad’s side, there are so many nieces and nephews that I would always mix them up and forget which kid belong to which cousin. I’d find myself calling them with the wrong names all the time, and had to ask whether they are this or that cousin’s children. How I wish they’d wear name-tags, or perhaps colour-coded clothes so that I’d be able to identify which belongs to which family!

Some of the kids (relatives and the neighbourhood children) who came to our house

Come Monday, and it’ll be back to the office routine again, but not for long! There’s this compulsory course coming up from the 7th next month all the way to the 20th. I don’t expect to be able to do much blogging then since I was informed that we’re going to have sessions until 11 p.m., and the first week calls for sports attire some more. Tsk….. group discussions and those there’s-always-something-to-learn-behind-these-simple-activities stuff I suppose…. hrrrmphhh… Those who’ve been through the whole training program told us it’ll be the last chance for us to lose our heads before we have to be all serious and be working really hard. I’ll just enjoy the fun of being together with that particular batch of people before we go to our separate stations. Oh, and I’ll take the chance to learn how to improve myself and serve the organization better as well. Actually, make that the priority. Heh. Don’t wanna take that chance of ending up like Mr. Hanscom.

Thursday, November 27, 2003

Book Review : A Widow For One Year by John Irving (1998)

The author:
John Irving (born 1942) is the author of the book The Cider House Rules which was later turned into the Oscar-nominated movie directed by Lasse Hallström starring Tobey Macguire, Charlize Theron and Michael Caine. Irving also wrote the screenplay for the movie version of Cider House, as well as for another of his book A Son of the Circus. He won an Oscar for The Cider House screenplay. His most well-known work in the literary circle would arguably be the bestseller The World According to Garp, which has also been turned into a movie (Irving acted out the part of a wrestling referee in that one) – seems like this guy has a knack for churning movie-worthy novels most of the time!

The book:
I bought this book together with four other novels at RM5 each (good bargain or what?) from a certain Angela Rao who was moving abroad and needed to get a whole houseful of stuff cleared up. Although I have seen the movie version of Cider House, I consider this as my first ‘real’ encounter with a John Irving novel. What attracted me was a remark at the back of the cover by a Katherine Knorr of Literary Review- “Gripping, full of horror and humour”.
Horror and humor rolled together? This I gotta have.

A Widow for One Year is centred upon the life of Ruth Cole, from the time she was a 4-year old child in a dysfunctional family, through the complexities of her own life and the lives of those attached to her up to the time when she’d have been a widow for one year and is about to fall in love for the first time. The book is roughly divided into three important periods, each indicated by an event of great significance that would bore its mark on Ruth’s life and the person that she’d become. Left by her own mother (whom she watched making love to a 16-yr old Eddie) to be raised by her father (who had an endless string of affairs with mostly married younger women), Ruth went on to become an internationally successful author career-wise but still fails to fully commit herself to love and marriage.

The read:
Irving managed to infuse almost seamlessly a whole myriad of genres in this book that readers will be taken on a journey through a story jazzed up with liberal dashes of humour (shreds of pornography blown over the street), summer romance (writer’s assistant had an affair with writer’s wife), the ups and downs of friendships (best friend got together with Dad), eventful driving lessons (never, ever turn your wheels to the left in anticipation), some bad sex (hehe ain’t gonna put a description here), a whodunit (a murder in the red-light district of the Bergstraat) and charmingly long-titled children’s tales (The Mouse Crawling Between The Walls, A Sound Like Someone Trying Not To Make A Sound).

The characters’ development was rendered unassumingly with precise details that you wouldn’t just be able to merely ‘see’ the characters in your mind, you could almost smell them! You’d be acquainted with their lives’ stories, their ambitions, their principles and their values, twisted as it was for some. I found myself empathizing with the characters, flawed as they may be in their ‘lives’, finding answers and justifications for their actions in the course of the story. Irving used a lot of recollections and flashbacks as well as the ‘story-within-a-story’ style in giving the characters depth, explaining the events and building up the anticipation towards the crucial points. He has a tendency to put doses of humor in situations you don't normally associate it with, I was all but choking with mirth at these moments and had to put on my poker face so as to keep myself from laughing out loud to the amusement of a coachful of strangers.

The book is very well-written and the read was very pleasant, I simply went on and on for more that it even made me miss my stop once – I had to get off and catch the next train back - placing this one in the hard-to-put-down category.

The verdict:
4 out of 5
jam tarts

Monday, November 24, 2003

Countdown to Raya (Vol. 2)

Esok hari raya! Yay! Just watched the announcement a few minutes ago. Bro informed me that the Hari Raya announcements each year were actually taped almost a month earlier (he used to work with the national tv station). They'd make two versions - one each for both possible Hari Raya dates.

On the other hand, the news on road accidents this festive season is very disheartening - more than 60 deaths within 3 days.... are Malaysian drivers that reckless, or our roads that bad, or what? The advertisement showing aftermaths of various accidents on TV is very eerie to me.. really got the message through. Anyone driving anywhere during the holidays.. please drive carefully. As a driver, you are responsible for the safety of those in the vehicle with you, as well as in the other vehicles around you. No need to rush, all in good time....

..Di hari raya.. terkenang daku kepada si dia....- this song is a firm favorite.

Countdown to Raya (Vol. 1)

Had my last outside buka puasa at Taman Warisan Pertanian, Putrajaya (today's buka puasa will of course be at home). It was a last minute plan, so I didn't bring my camera (or else there'd be pictures here!). We had nasi tomato and Haji Samuri's famous Kajang satay. There's lemang (glutinous rice cooked with coconut milk in bamboo) selling at the Taman so we had some of that too. The food was good, especially the nasi tomato. They're having the lemang sale today as well. The place will be open on Hari Raya. The staff who were on duty had their buka puasa with us. Though they can't go back to their kampungs on raya day, their spirits seem good, cheerful even. No long faces or complains or anything like that. My respect goes out for those who go to work on public holidays in order to serve the public. True, they usually get more than usual for that, but imagine their sacrifice in terms of quality time with their families so that we can still get on with our own holiday plans smoothly. For them, a big THANK YOU and a pat on your backs!

Putrajaya seems deserted, we went past only a couple of cars on our way back. Dad missed a turn so we had to go round the whole big roundabout again. I joked that he purposely did that so as to make it seem that there were more traffic than it was. Went on with the baking plan, but only the choc cookies first. I put in some muesli, breakfast grains and oatmeal in the mix so I can call them healthy cookies. Feast your eyes!


Walla! Finished product.

Sunday, November 23, 2003

Poor gecko

Did some spring cleaning today, found this poor guy at a dusty corner in the kitchen. Wonder how he got stuck there. Or maybe it was suicide.

The atmosphere at home is rather relaxed. A little bit of cleaning and stuff, getting the kuih containers out, calling the gardener to mow the lawn, shopping for food for the next week as most shops will be closed. Anyway true to the raya mood, I'm planning to bake some cookies tonite - Ted's special edition crunchy choc cookies, and a few batches of jam tarts - Mom's yummy recipe. Mom's jam tarts always taste the same, and it's hard to get it like that elsewhere. She usually makes everything from scratch, but this time we decided to try the store-prepared pineapple jam. Hope it'll turn out okay.

According to the calculation method, raya will most probably be on Tuesday, but there's always the possibility that the 'new moon' will be visible tonight, which means raya would be tomorrow then. Will be watching the announcement tonight, to hear this litany year after year - "Maka setelah diperkenankan oleh Yang Dipertuan Agong, maka dengan ini saya sebagai pemegang mohor raja-raja mengisytiharkan..."

Whoops! The sighting (and announcement) is supposed to be on Nov. 24th, not 23rd! I became the butt of their laughs when I asked "Do you think raya will be tomorrow?". It's supposed to be either on Tuesday or Wednesday, NOT on Monday or Tuesday. This is a mistake only kids should make! (blush) Ah well. I was caught in the spirit. Heh heh.

Friday, November 21, 2003

Raya wishes

Today I'm going to settle a few errands in the morning, stuff that needs to be done before tomorrow. Hopefully everything goes well. And it's not shopping, folks! Something else... (*inward grin*). Here's wishing you all a Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri to everyone in the celebration spirit, mintak maaf zahir batin 0 - 0 eh.... have a safe journey if you are going to travel, and take care!

Thursday, November 20, 2003

Fun facts for the day

How much for the hot shower?

[ Figures are based on the tariff for TNB domestic customers (households) ]

Cost for the use of....

An air conditioning unit (1 h.p.) on the hot days and nights - 19 sen/hr
A microwave oven (300W) to heat last night's leftover - 0.5 sen/minute
An electric kettle (2400W) for that pot of tea or milo in the morning - 2 sen/litre
A water heater unit (2000W) for that hot shower coz you can't tahan the cold water - 8 sen/minute

Just for fun, go here for rates in other places - Australia, USA (Delaware), UK.

This is a very informative guide on how to choose and use your electrical appliances wisely.
Oh yeah... tomorrow is the start of my raya holidays... (rubbing my hands with glee). Can't. Wait.

Wednesday, November 19, 2003

Raya holidays and mysterious calls

[ Feet Feat ]

Another 2 days and counting. Would you believe it? My cuti raya will start this Friday... woo hoooo! (as Homer Simpson would shout it, out loud). I'd be having a long stretch of office-free period - a full 10 days in total! Almost like a school mid-term break. Ah... how I long for a week-day where I don't have to leave home at 6.40 a.m. to catch the 0653 Rawang-bound train. During my previous job, office was a mere 7-minutes' drive away and office hours start at 8.30 a.m. (and no need to punch in also), so you can imagine the difference. These days, miss the 0653 train (either my fault or KTM's) and that's it. For sure lambat!

Just got another of those 'accidental calls' from Bro's phone. 'Accidental calls' or 'pocket/handbag calls'; i.e. when a cellphone inadvertently dialled your number as the result of a mix of unlocked keypads and the owner's body movement. You know, when you excitedly answer your phone going Hello?? Helloo? Hellooooooo..???!!" and all you would hear is friction of cloth / leather against metal and some background noise e.g. car radio / inaudible chatter / things rustling. Sometimes though you might overhear some juicy stuff that the person would have never even dreamt of telling you, heh heh. So as cellphone owners with good phone etiquette it just goes that please, do lock your cellphone keypad whenever you're putting it in your pocket or bag or wherever. If your cellphone has the autolock feature, use it. These calls are a waste of money, and hey, you never know what sort of sounds could've travelled to the other side.

Tuesday, November 18, 2003

House alarm

[ Barred ]

The house alarm system went off suddenly at about 3 a.m. It's been awhile since this last happened so I can see that Dad was rather wary as he unlocks the grill at the bottom of the stairs to get to the alarm control box. Yep, we installed an iron grill at the stairs such as the one you normally found only at front doors of other people's homes. At night, once everybody is upstairs, the alarm system will be activated and the grill padlocked. If anyone happens to have a craving for ice cream or keropok in the middle of the night, then he / she would have to unlock the grill, deactivate the alarm, have the snack, re-activate alarm and padlock the grill again. It was quite a hassle that we usually just don't bother and wait till next morning. The alarm system is the one that's connected by the phone line to the security company. Therefore every time the alarm went off, someone from the company would always call the house to ask whether everything is okay. If it wasn't answered, they'd contact our handphone numbers and if there is no answer at all, they'd regard that something is wrong and would notify the local police at once. We used to have the alarm system where the siren will sound loudly if it was triggered, you switch it off and that's it. Dad changed the system after we got burglared twice last year. Within a fortnight. Thus the paranoia.

It was a rather traumatic experience for us, especially for my 13-yr-old cousin. Till today, she always take her time to check the front door before opening if someone knocks, and would switch on the alarm if she's home alone regardless of the time of the day. She also refuses to put out the garbage after dark, and would insist that someone accompany her when it's her turn to feed the cats at night that I stopped asking her to do those things these days. The rest of us? We always lock our bedroom doors, and would repeatedly ask what's the matter if someone knocks on the bedroom door in the middle of the night. A strange sound would immediately be followed by a cautious perimeter check and a call to the neighbour. Handphones are kept under pillows while sleeping.

You may wonder, what's with the bedroom doors? Well, let this be a precaution for those who have never experienced anything that we had. These robbers, their typical modus operandi is once they got into your home (by prying open the sliding door, cutting through the window bars or the 'ear' part of the front grill that you insert the padlock - they don't care how big the padlock is, it's the 'ears' that they'd cut) - what they'd first do is to cut your phone lines. Then they'd check the bedroom doors. If it's unlocked, they'll just get in and one would stand guard over the sleeping person while the others start rummaging through your stuff and later asking you where the rest of the money / jewellery is if they're still unsatisfied. Woe betide for anyone sleeping in the living room, this person will be used as 'bait' to knock on the bedroom doors. They bank on the nature that people will always open the door when a family member knocks. We were told by the police that if all rooms are locked, they would usually use the gas container from the kitchen to crash the door open. Us? The first time, I forgot to lock my bedroom door, and another cousin was sleeping in front of the tv. The second time, Dad didn't lock the door as Mom was away.

The men of the house will be tied, and the robbers would put a person at knifepoint so others wouldn't retaliate. They usually take the knives (the big ones) from the victims' own kitchens. During our second time, they weren't satisfied with the lack of jewellery, and we had to repeatedly tell them that we had already been robbed just two weeks ago. I still shudder at the thought of one of them putting a knife to Dad's throat and pressing him to tell where the jewellery was (they thought we had a hiding place). They took a lot of valuable stuff including some of Bro's engagement gifts for her fiancee-to-be (their engagement was in two weeks' time), but we are most thankful to God that nobody was hurt either time. Things that were taken, we can always buy again in the future. Dad told us to regard those as 'bukan rezeki kita'.

What I'd tell people based on our experience are these:

1) Invest in an alarm system that connects you to a security company as people won't really bother to check when the siren went on and then is switched off (the robbers may force you to key in the code to switch it off). Our system has two codes to switch off the siren, a normal code and a distress code. If the distress code is punched in, they would straightaway notify the local police.

2) Store your knives out of sight at night, especially meat cleavers and parangs. These are free additional weapons for robbers.

3) Lock bedroom doors at night. Discuss to have special code names if a robber forces a family member to knock on bedroom doors, i.e. using different names e.g. calling for 'Ibu' or 'Ayah' if your child usually calls you 'Mama' or 'Abah', or use the child's full name instead of the usual 'Along' or 'Adik' or 'Mimi'. The key is, something that would act as a trigger to the person inside that something is wrong, so they could try get outside help (calling the neighbour or police using a handphone). This could be practiced.

4) Keep handphones under pillows, not on the bedside / dressing tables. Have at least two of your nearest neighbours' handphone number on speed dial. Inform each of them that if anything happens to your house, you'd be calling him.

If it happens to you:

1) DO NOT aggravate them or start to fight. These people are desperate and would not think twice to hurt your loved ones. Unless you are sure that you are in a better position over them, let them take whatever they can and leave.

2) Discreetly, try to remember their faces and other characteristics (dialect spoken, clothes, scars on faces, tattoos). This will help you to identify them if they are caught, or they could be in the police files - this will help the police in their investigations.

3) After they leave, call the police immediately, then notify your nearest neighbours. The robbers may still be nearby or attempt another break-in. If they didn't get your handphones, that is. They will always cut off the house phonelines. Ensure that they have left the house first though. Know what I did the first time? I tried SMS-ing my friend using my handphone under the pillow while they were rummaging the room (I thought nobody would notice, haha). Suddenly a grubby hand appeared before I could press send and took the phone away. He just stared at the screen for the longest time, which was saying 'Rumah ada perompak, tlg pgl polis'. God, I thought I'm finished. But then he just put in his pocket. Scary.

4) Do not start cleaning up or putting things back on shelves before the police arrive. They would want to take pictures as evidence, and to lift fingerprints from surfaces (if any) for their investigations.

The robbers who robbed our house were still not caught, but we had been able to identify two of them from mugshots in the police files, and a couple of fingerprints were identified (immigrants with expired PRs). The whole thing was a harrowing experience, and I do hope that others take precautions to prevent this from happening to their homes and families. It's always worth it to play safe, and remember that nothing is more precious than the life of your loved ones .

Sunday, November 16, 2003



Commended by the Chinese ministry of postage

Mom bought a new phone for the house. It matches the table.

It is commended by the Chinese ministry of postage, no less, and has an elegant 'outlooking'.

If I pick up the hand set, it will 'work'. Wonder if it'll demand for wages....

The phone should not be 'shinned' directly by the sun, and must be 'parted away' from certain places.

Friday, November 14, 2003

Ban on Nowwhy2

I was rather surprised to read about the ban on OAG's song, Nowwhy2 (a variation of the word nawaitu - niat or intent) which is included in their newly-released album Satelit Ink.

According to the report:

"Lirik Nowwhy2 yang berunsur ketuhanan dikatakan menampilkan maksud yang tidak difahami dan ia boleh menjejaskan pemahaman para pendengar. Sebenarnya, Nowwhy2 kini sedang dalam pemerhatian RTM kerana liriknya yang mengandungi beberapa perkataan yang tidak difahami".

A ban on a song 'yang berunsur ketuhanan', no less. That intrigued me. I went to nearest music shop in Amcorp Mall to get a copy of the album, but the album's already sold out there (see? how true the saying that goes 'any publicity is good, even the bad ones', heheh) so I decided to look in the music shop at Plaza Warisan (got one). All this in order to fully understand what was it that they could not understand.

Since the full lyrics are not included in the inlay, I had to depend on my own two ears to catch the song. And yes, there were bits that I could not understand, so I guess those were the bits 'yang mengandungi beberapa perkataan yang tidak difahami'.

But what made me wonder is that would it be so hard to understand a song's lyrics if you have them in written form? EMI has already sent them a copy, so why still difficult to understand? It's not like it is in Hebrew or Latin (or some other dead language not commonly in use). Ask them for the explanation. Sheesh.
Update (tq armzb0x for the link):
The lyrics as posted in their official website:

Nowwhy2 - OAG

Tiada terlintas langsung
nawai2ku untuk menduwakan dirimu
suqa ragaku murka ja-zatmu
Tiada terlintas langsung
nawai2ku untuk mempersoalkan caramu
suqa ragaku murka ja-zatmu*

Tiada yang lain melainkan NYA 3x
Tiada yang maha selain diri-NYA
Yang maha mengasehi yang maha menyayangi
Tiada yang maha selain diri-NYA
Yang maha mengerti
Yang maha mengampuni..........

repeat 1st verse + Chorus

Langsung tiada tercantas nawai2ku
untuk mempersoalkan caramu
suka ragaku murka ja-zatmu*

tiada yang lain melainkan-NYA
Alaika A Alaika hu alam 4x


My point is, yes, OAG used to be known as an underground group and all, but whatever it is (*the bits that I couldn't comprehend), it's not that they're singing something like "Come... pray to the devil...see the light in darkness" or "Marilah minum arak hisap dadah buat aktiviti seks bebas beramai-ramai". Hmmmm? And it's not like the song has not been played by the local radio stations, only now they want to ban it, or in their words, 'digam sementara'. Hope it's truly sementara. It's a really nice and catchy tune, the public should not be deprived of this one.

Update (December 2003):

The ban has been lifted, apparently, for Ive been listening to the song on air.
For lyrics of other OAG songs, visit this link or check out the 'Lyrics Bank' forum (Fans Area) at the OAG Official Site.

Thursday, November 13, 2003

From the inbox: New meanings

I came across this one before , but still find them funny.

Oxford Dictionary's latest definition of the following words:

Conference : The confusion of one man multiplied by the number present.

Conference Room: A place where everybody talks, nobody listens and everybody disagrees later on.

Office : A place where you can relax after your strenuous home life.

Etc : A sign to make others believe that you know more than you actually do.

Compromise : The art of dividing a cake in such a way that everybody believes he got the biggest piece.

Tears : The hydraulic force by which masculine will-power is defeated by feminine water power...

Dictionary : A place where success comes before work.

Classic : A book which people praise, but do not read.

Yawn : The only time some married men ever get to open their mouth.

Committee : Individuals who can do nothing individually and sit to decide that nothing can be done together.

Atom Bomb: An invention to end all inventions.

Philosopher : A fool who torments himself during life, to be spoken of when dead.

Opportunist: A person who starts taking a bath if he accidentally falls into a river.

Optimist : A person who while falling from Eiffel tower says in midway "See I am not injured yet."

Criminal : A guy no different from the rest.... except that he got caught.

Politician : One who shakes your hand before elections and your confidence after.

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

Lyrics: Untukmu Teman (Salam Kedelapan - Gigi)

Wahai temanku, dan sahabatku
terima kasih, atas waktumu

Yang kau berikan, selama ini
rasa tulusmu, dan rasa hormatmu

Persahabatan, kadang melebihi
jalinan kasih, dua manusia

Tak terhapus, rasa cemburu,
yang memisahkan, arti logika

*Kau udara kehidupanku,
yang merasuki diriku

Reff: Perpisahan, tak melepas ikatan kita
hanya teman, yang sejati takkan menghilang

Lagu: Gigi
Lirik: Armand

I love this song. About friendship that's more meaningful than a lover's love.

I'm sure in most people's lives, there are that someone whom you call a friend, but could in some ways understand you even better than you supposedly better-half, and know things that he / she does not. Or the one that's always been there through thick and thin, where the love of one's life might change from one person to the other, yet he / she remains that constant factor in your life.

Let me try and translate it:

Untukmu Teman - Dear Friend

Dear companion, dearest friend / thank you for your time / that you spent all this while / your sincerity, your respect / Friendship can at times be / deeper than the ties that bind / Jealousy has no effect / on what which could have been / You are like the air that I breathe / you are all over me / Apart, still our friendship remains / True friendship would never die

That's my interpretation anyway :)

Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Philosophy and the Matrix - stuff I wouldn't know just by watching the movies

Yeay! Am finally with the others in the bandwagon. Now I can read all the reviews and so-called spoilers and say this in my mind - "Nah... that's not what I think it was.." or "Yeah.. you are so correct" and "Oh... so that's what it was about..." instead of going like "Huh... it'll be like that ahhh?"

This morning I also spent considerable time scouring the web for pages that debated and explained the philosophy and theories behind the trilogy, some I've read before (esp. regarding The Matrix and Reloaded), and a lot of new ones (regarding Revolutions of course). I am especially interested with the amount of details that this people managed to catch and interpret such as the symbolisms of the inscriptions on walls, names of people and places, and the more seemingly trivial facts of rooms and floor numbers and the hidden meanings that they try to cull out of anything that is said in the whole trilogy.

From The Matrix Official site

Bits and pieces:
1. The name Morpheus comes from the Greek word "morphe," which means shape or form; the first Morpheus, the Greek god of sleep, has the ability to bring changes in dreams: shapes, forms, realities. There's no doubt that in The Matrix, Morpheus plays this role; he's the one who's supposed to wake everybody up. Source

2. Neo is the One, Smith is any-one (all agents have everybody's names like Smith, Jackson, Brown) Source

3. The cave of Zion is meant to represent Plato's Cave, all of its inhabitants living " in the dark". In roughly 400 b.c., the philosopher Plato postulated a scenario where people are born and live their entire lives imprisoned within a cave. The entrance to the cave is covered by a sheet of cloth, so that the only thing the cave inhabitants would ever perceive of the outside world would be passing 2D shadows of the external 3D reality. Hence truth a.k.a "real world" vs. the matrix. Source

4. After Cypher betrays his friends in the Matrix, he tells the agent that he wishes to come back as someone famous, an actor, he wants to be powerful, and he wants to remember nothing. Now, the agent calls Cypher Mr. Reagan, so Cypher could be Ronald Reagan. He was famous, an actor, was very powerful and since he has Alzheimers, he can't remember anything. Heheh.. this is funny (considered as an easter egg). Source

Check out the above sources and links below for more theories, explanations and other trivia:

In The Matrix Official site, click on the mainframe panel, on the square with the matrix 0302 (third place, second row), the philosophy link. There's list of papers exploring various philosophical and theological topics with regards to the trilogy.

A discussion (supposedly spoilers) written before the release of Revolutions - very intensive, highly recommended!

"The Matrix" and philosophy : An A to Z Guide

How Christian is The Matrix?

A Forum page for the Matrix afficianados

Also other theories before Revolutions came out

Archive of 'easter eggs' in the Matrix

There is a even a book written on this subject entitled The Matrix and Philosophy: Welcome to the Desert of the Real.

As Neo himself said. Whoa.

Ish ish ish, tak seimbangnya....

Yesterday's meal has got to be the most unbalanced one that I had so far this Ramadhan.

First I had a half-packet of pretzel bits (Snyder's) on an empty stomach. I felt a bit dizzy (either from the lack of other food or from the pretzel bits themselves) later on the train, and felt better after drinking some water and having a tuna sandwich (bought earlier). Once home, imagine what caught my fancy - durians! I managed to polish almost a whole medium-sized fruit by myself before even going up to my room.

And that's IT. Must eat healthier tomorrow.

Monday, November 10, 2003

Computer gaming at work may boost personal productivity

In today's Computimes pullout of the New Straits Times
[with my own ramblings in brackets]
Computer gaming at work
FirstByte by Ahmad Kushairi (kusairi@nstp.com.my)

Most companies do not encourage their staff to indulge in computer games during office hours because they feel that it's a sheer waste of time and do not contribute much to productivity. As such, computer games are normally played during breaks, or when the boss is not looking.

[ Most companies ah? So that means some companies do encourage it then.. oh wait.. that must be companies related to the gaming industry. For the rest of us, then, of course only played when the boss is not looking, gila what to play when boss is at your back. Of course, there's always another window with work-related stuff at the background, to switch to pronto in case da boss suddenly *poof!* materializes ]

But a recent University of Utrecht study seems to prove otherwise. The study, which involved 60 employees in a Dutch insurance firm, revealed that those who played computer games in the office felt better about their job. The results suggest that instead of taking playing computer games at work as being a waste of time, it might help boost personal productivity.

[ Insurance company? Why an insurance company? Hmm.. maybe it's the nearest to the uni. Or maybe their staff already play computer games most of the time as it is. Can an insurance company office portrays the office-working community as a whole? Anyway, see, boss, see? When you caught me downloading that flash game, I wasn't wasting time, I was downloading a personal productivity boosting program! ]

According to the study, a round of Solitaire, for example, could be used as a strategy to enlighten the day and help people work more effectively because it gives their brains a break from complex work tasks.

[ I told ya. Which is why I need to play at least a half hour of Solitaire, Minesweeper, Lingo and Pacman before I can resume doing that complex work task effectively. Oh, and at least another game of Hangman too. ]

That sounds like a good management piece, but I'm not sure whether the bosses would be convinced. The general feeling is that discouraging computer gaming in the office will do more good than harm.

[ Hmm... this paragraph should be left out while referring the article to da boss. ]

While this could be true, adopting too strict a control over feel-good activities in the office such as playing computer games may result in a rather dull work environment. So what's your take?

[ Well, boss, we certainly wouldn't want our work environment to be a rather dull one now, would we? ]

So excuse me while I go indulge myself in another 'personal productivity boosting' program.


"You are not the only person I come in contact with, you know. I'll be meeting other people in this life. You're not the only one who would've told me that!"

Are these words harsh? I really didn't mean to, but somehow I'd act that way around her, all defensive and annoyed. And most of the time, she was just being helpful. If she ever felt hurt by my words, it never shows. I wonder, as yet she remains good to me. I would've left myself.

Saturday, November 08, 2003

Can you tell the difference? All look the same also la...

Got this from The Lone Quyider. Think you can spot a Chinese / Japanese / Korean at a glance? Take this very interesting test. I got only 6 out of 18 (the average correct answer is 7), so I 'obviously could not tell the difference'. Oh well.

Don't touch the Agent Smith dummies, or any review before watching

From The Matrix trilogy Official Site

Have yet to go and catch tha great movie that is the END in 'everything that has a beginning, has an end'. I know, I know, I profess of a being a great fan, but my decision to not join the legion of other die-hard-fans who queued merely 2-miles or so in order to be among the first in the world to watch the world premier of The Matrix: Revolutions leaves much to be desired. I have to steel myself to NOT read any of the reviews, especially in those many blogs out there, all which would most certainly contain a spoiler or two (or almost the whole storyline- bad, bad reviewer!) and take away the anticipation and the thrill of discovering the whole ending for myself.

I made that mistake with The Tale of Two Sisters, so I already knew which sister was alive and which sister was already dead. Thankfully all wasn't lost as the revelations at the end i.e. (1) how the mother and sister died, (2)whose ghost it actually was and (3) the stepmother wasn't really herself were delightfully surprising. Especially no. 3. I really didn't see that one coming until towards the end - sooo clever!

So nope, no matter how many reviews are screaming "Read me! Read me!", I will be strong and read them only AFTER I go and see the movie, just to see what I missed and whether I agree with them. Only then can I be objective. I need that freedom of the mind. Let all those smug ones of 'I've-already-watched-Revelations-and-this-is-what-it-is-about-and-this-is-what-I-think', I will not succumb!

Be patient, oh Neo, I will be there.

Friday, November 07, 2003

l'Internet et moi, online strangers… and a birthday cake (Vol. 2)

Song in my head:

Open doors so I walk inside
Close my eyes, find my place to hide
And I shake as I take it in
Let the show begin

Open my eyes, just to have them close again
Well on my way, but on my way to where I've been
It swallows me, as it takes me in it's fog
I twist away, as I give this world a nod
(The House Jack Built, Metallica, Load album, 1996)

One day, I came across a weblog. A blogspot page, to be exact. I’ve read online diaries before, but this, was different. It was Nizam Zakaria’s blog that was in the results list during my search for the latest theatre reviews. From there I clicked on Sultanmuzaffar’s blog, and then on to Project Petaling Street and Gengjurnal.net And I was introduced to Screenshots, Volume of Interactions, mum mum, Joe Blogs (may Allah bless his soul), Saharil, Khalilur (these were the initial group of blogs that I encountered) and a myriad list of others in the ‘blogosphere’. I’m hooked.

The blogs are to me a whole new window to various topics, views and opinions, nuggets of information, jokes and the everyday lives of strangers. Being a trainee with not much to do at the office (I changed jobs earlier this year), I whiled my time away reading and poring over them, and there are more than enough of interesting ones that keeps me coming for more.

During the Akademi Fantasia craze (heh heh I know, I was in the bandwagon too), a bunch of readers at sultanmuzaffar’s blog (he posted daily reviews of the show) started becoming familiar through the tag-board. At first the tags revolve around the show, and then it gradually move on until to the point where we got to know about the camping trips that one of us went to, and when another move office, and when another got posted overseas. A new group of online friends emerged.

They started to meet, a lunchtime meet was the first. I thought myself too ‘old’ for that (been there, done that, remember?), and I did not have the time or means to go anyway so I just kept abreast of things with the group emails and occasional chats on the tagboard. Then the group moved on to Spiral’s tagboard, and they were also the first to visit this blog. The group emails went on back and forth, back and forth. Somehow or rather I decided that their online personas were too delightful to ignore, and what the heck, meeting new people has always been an interesting affair for me.

So yesterday I finally got to meet the gang for buka puasa and a birthday celebration – hence the birthday cake (it was Secret Recipe’s black forest cake, yummy!). And what a bunch! They were just as delightful in person, if not more. We were the largest group at the café in Istana Budaya, and of course the one that made the most racket. The fact that we all came from various backgrounds with ages ranging from the early 20’s to double of that makes it the more interesting. Unknowing onlookers would think us a group of old friends who haven't met for years, when we just barely knew each other as yet.

I’m really glad I went. Many thanks to ymaulai and sempoii for giving me a lift. To the motley crew of PFS (you guys know who you are) – you guys rock! And to all bloggers out there, keep on blogging away. Peace.

PS: Nope, I ain’t back to being an Internet-addict anymore, but a blog pseudo-addict? Erm.... considering this is still at an early stage… perhaps just a lil’ bit.

A spiel: l'Internet et moi, online strangers… and a birthday cake (Vol. 1)

Warning : This would be very long, thus Vol. 1 and Vol.2.

I’ve been Internet-crazy, have you?

I’ve been through the Internet-crazy phase way back during the early part of my university years, thanks to the free Internet access at the lab while I was staying at the student hostel. Later when I moved out and rented a house nearby with my coursemates, everybody else (8 of them) shared a common phone line, but I installed one of my own, for Internet connection purposes, what else? I volunteered to take the smallest room (which nobody else wanted) so I wouldn’t be disturbing anyone with the late night tapping. The room was the equivalent to the maid’s room (it was beside the kitchen downstairs), which barely fit the single bed, the basic cupboard and a small desk. The cupboard at the head side of the bed, the desk at the feet (sometimes I’d just sit at the end of the bed to use the PC and do away with the chair, that’s how small it was – but I wasn’t complaining). Unsurprisingly, my room was dubbed 'the Internet Room', and they would gladly pay me by the hour (I charge only what Telekom and TMNet charged me lah!) to use my PC for Internet connection.

At that time, I’d happily describe myself as a ‘multi-tasking, self-confessed Internet addict’. Nights in would be filled with simultaneous websurfing, downloading songs and chatting on IRC channels, ICQ (there were no MSN and Yahoo! Messenger yet) and Yahoo! Chatrooms. Being a naturally curious person, the Internet satisfied me with its offer of bits and pieces of information on anything and everything. With any question that came to mind, I’d turn to the trusty PC (bought on student loan) and do a search on Webcrawler and Altavista (later on to Google and Dogpile). The answers that the sites churn out never cease to amaze and amuse me till this day. And songs, oh glory, all those freely-downloadable songs waiting for me (#mp3z and #mp3search on Undernet were my favorite).

As for the online friendships –names on the screen became faces, faces became persons, and persons became friends. Blind dates and group gatherings, even weekend trips – been there, done that. A fling or two? Yeah… that too. A lot of those friendships were short-lived, and some good ones also ‘fade out’ after some time, but I’ve also met a lot of great people who still remain in my circle of friends today. Ah… the times we had. I wouldn’t have enjoyed those years as much as I did if it wasn’t for them. And my housemates weren’t spared from the crazy bunch, I merged the two and made them know each other.

Being online took a lot of time, not to mention the going-out sessions and stuff, and at one point I discovered that my studies were suffering a bit. Just a bit, mind you, not the whole shebang or that I failed a paper or anything, but enough to made me realize that although the Internet is a fun place, I needed to get my priorities straight. So gradually the aimless websurfing became mainly searches for assignment stuff, and visits to chatrooms became less and less, and finally stopped altogether. Downloading songs? That went on since it can be done in the background, until Malaysian IPs were banned from #mp3z and #mp3search. Then that too, ceased (I have yet to introduce myself to Kazaa and Napster 2.0).

I graduated (with 1st class honors, heh heh), started working and life got into a comfortable routine. New friends and acquaintances made were mainly work-related. My forays into the online world were for emails, the latest news, general information and also some company registration business. The Internet has become my postbox, newspaper and encyclopedia. (..to be continued in Vol. 2)

Wednesday, November 05, 2003

Free remote loading...NOT!

Enlightenment. Many thanks to LcF for this comment on the previous post:

seems like it disallow offsite image linking. You cannot view the image out side of the website domain. Yahoo! Geocities is using the same policy.
You may need a site that allow offsite image linking.


Being a person with 'minimal IT requirements', I was unaware of that. Think blue pill. Now I've taken the red pill. Which started me on my online search, which got me on to this:

"Free" means ad supported. The ads are added to your html pages. If images are linked remotely, the owner of the service can sell no ads, and then derives no revenue. No free host is likely to allow remote loading.
If you upgrade to a paid account, you can use your image files however you like.

Lee (Cap1MD@att.net)

(From a discussion thread at The Ultimate Bulletin.)

Ohhhhh.. hahhaahhaha.. hehehehehe... man.. I laughed myself silly over my ignorance regarding this matter. I should have known. No wonder. How appropriate. I scoured through the search results for "free image hosting" "allow remote loading" at Ask Jeeves and found this. So I'm gonna try that list by Loveyducks. The discussion was posted around August 2003, so they can't be that outdated, I suppose.

Being a freerider is getting harder and harder these days... :)

Tuesday, November 04, 2003

Help me!

Wherefore art thou, my glorious images?

I've been having a few problems with the linking of images from the image hosting service that I use - ImageStation. I published another post earlier today with images linked from ImageStation. For a while the image came out okay when I published the post, but after some time all I get is an error image saying "Sorry, you are trying to access an image from outside of ImageStation.com". Why ah? They don't actually allow linking of images to outside, is that it? Any suggestions?

Monday, November 03, 2003

Muka Seposen - A Malaysian patois

Got this joke in my inbox from a friend.
Seorang anak bercerita kepada ayahnya bagaimana dia membayar tambang
bas ketika pulang dari sekolah tengah hari tadi.

Anak : Ayah, tadi Man balik naik bas.
Ayah : Eh, Pak Abu tak jemput Man ke hari ni?
Anak : Tak.
Ayah : Man ada duit ke nak bayar tambang?
Anak : Ada, ayah tapi kurang seposen.
Ayah : Tambang bas berapa sen?
Anak : 60 sen.
Ayah : Man ada berapa sen?
Anak : 50 sen saja.
Ayah : Habis tu, macamana man bayar tambang?
Anak : Man ada 50 sen, Man buat muka seposen. Cukuplah jumlahnya 60 sen.

Ayah : ??????
Heh heh. I've never heard of this one before. Found it rather fun-nayyy.

If you are a Malaysian, most likely than not you would have used or at least came across the colloquial 'muka seposen', (literally: 'a 10-sen face') which could mean either a) muka kesian (a pitiful face, a face portraying sadness / tragedy and such, to be pitied); or b) rupa yang biasa, boleh dilihat di mana-mana (a face that is so-so, indistinguishable, anywhere you look also you can see a face like this one lah). A comparable phrase that I can think of in English for the use in (a) would be 'puppy dog face'. Can't think of any for the use in (b) though. Do tell me if you can think of one!

Can anyone tell me of the time that they were told"Jangan nak mengada-ngada buat muka seposen lah!" (or something to that effect) ?

Sunday, November 02, 2003

Keropok with pasta, anyone?

Ever seen keropok sharing a plate with neapolitan pasta, meatloaf, fish and bread before? Well, now you have!

Went for buka puasa with a few friends at JW Marriott Hotel in Jalan Bukit Bintang on Friday. The buffet is at the poolside on the 6th floor, quite a nice layout with the food being spread over a few stations (avoiding long lines), with stalls for briyani, tandoori chicken, roast lamb etc. Rate is RM43+ per adult, RM20 per child below 12. The food was okay, but I think they could've done better. Service was pretty great though.

The glutton in me insists that I have more than one type of salad in the plate.

Now you see it.....

...and now you don't! Almost, anyway. Full already by this time.

P.S: Nope, the plate where the keropok resides happily with the pasta wasn't mine. Really!

Friday, October 31, 2003

Pensonic portable hair-dryer @ RM18.88

I found a special offer at the Guardian pharmacy. You can buy a Pensonic portable hair dryer (1200 watts, 2-speed) at RM18.88, very cheap. Offer until Sunday or until stock lasts. It's foldable and light, just a little bit bigger and heavier than a Stephen King paperback novel. Needless to say, I bought one.

Self-reproach, sort of; and a salute

Such is the power of the media.

After reading all the accolades, features, interviews and anecdotes in the special tribute pullouts of today's New Straits Times, I became more and more contrite of my choice of words to describe Dr. M in my most recent post (see below). Loved (by many)? Beyond doubt. But despised (also by many) seems to me now as perhaps too strong an expression for THE MAN.

Call me easily-influenced, call me incredibly susceptible to suggestions, call me gullible (again, strong words?); but hey, he has done many many good things for this country that Malaysians call home. Yes, he may have taken actions that were deemed less-than-favorable and even downright stupid by certain groups of people, but then, try to name one country leader at any point in history who had managed to satisfy each and every quarter of his nation. There would be none. And how are we to know if another was in his place during those years, we would be better off? IF is a big word portraying the unknown. IF is a thing that could have happened, but has not happened, as yet. Anyone can describe all the IFs they want, but it's the factual that has taken place.

It humbles me as I read his answer on the question of whether he was satisfied with what he has achieved during his term as the Prime Minister: "I know I have failed in many ways, but I know that I have succeeded in doing something. It is not for me to determine, but up to the people".

To Dato' Seri, thank you for your time, your energy, your ideas, all in the name of taking on the daunting task of building and fostering this nation towards the way we are today. For everything that it's worth, I am proud that you were our Prime Minister during your day. All the best to you, may your retirement brings your peace and happiness especially with the family that we have taken you away from so much.

------ ++++++++++ ------

A couple of things from the New Strait Times special tribute pullouts:

- In 1987, Dr. M placed a special message for Malaysian people in a time capsule at the opening of The Mall. The time capsule will only be opened after 100 years.

I wonder what is in that message, considering it was 'buried' at the opening of a shopping mall. Buy Malaysian always, perhaps? What with all the advances in medicine, I sure hope I would still be around in 2087 (as a tottering old lady of 108), and still in a good shape of mind to remember today, God willing. That's not entirely impossible, no?

- The good doctor can't swim

What? Really? Hmm…. Is it too late now to learn? And yet he professes of loving the sea so much. Again, is this true?

There is hope yet for them..

The above is precisely what flashed through my mind yesterday, as this girl who I do not know suddenly startled me out of my reverie while I was waiting at the roadside, giving me the salam, ”Assalamualaikum kak!”

I myself wondered why it was that particular thought occurred to me at that moment. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that I was mulling over the imminent resignation of Malaysia’s premier, the loved (by many) and despised (also by many) Dr. M, which will be in just a few hours’ time while this is written. It will be unarguably the EVENT that Malaysians would remember most for 31st October 2003. There statements that it was to be supposedly a low-key (hah!) event, well in that case, it is the highest-publicized low-key event I’d ever encounter. How ‘low-key’ can you get for an event that is to be telecast live, over national TV no less, I want to ask!

I’ll add more later. Gotta go off to work.

Thursday, October 30, 2003

The great buka puasa dilemma…

Home? Hotel? Restaurant? Fast food joint? Local delights? Western? Chinese? Indian? Thai? Lima ringgit? Sepuluh ringgit? Dua puluh ringgit? Patploh? Namploh? With family? Friends? Office colleague? Eat first? Pray first? Makan banyak? Makan little only? Makan until your stomach rasa mau pecah?

nasi dagang.. spaghetti carbonara.. satay .... nasi lemak… chocolate pudding… otak-otak… popiah… bubur lambuk… tosai rava … laici kang… apple crumble.. mee rebus…. grilled lamb… rojak… orange juice.. potato salad… nasi kerabu… ABC… pasembor.. kuih cara… tom yam… sirap bandung… chicken masala… kole kacang… gulai tempoyak… kerabu mangga… kuey tiau… pengat pisang… coleslaw… goreng berlada kentang… rendang tok… hati goreng… sup ekor… murtabak.. roti jala… agar-agar… tepung talam… kerang rebus… baby kailan… seafood pizza… beef rissole…… fried chicken… gulai nangka muda kuih lapis… briyani… sambal belacan… pai tee.. laksa penang… cheese mac… ikan pari bakar dipped in air asam… ketam goreng…. pszztttt krrryywrr….

There, what’s your choice?

Wednesday, October 29, 2003

One thing leads to another

Funny how sometimes we've been meaning to do one particular thing for such a long time, and still do not come around to actually doing it even though there's nothing stopping you from doing so. We keep finding one excuse after another not to. Maybe there's that holiday you've always wanted to take, or that book you've been meaning to read, or that gadget you know you could use, or that old friend you know you will call one day. Or that position you know you want to let go, heh heh. One day... one day in the future I will. We may have even been bragging or telling our friends and family about that one day. Sounds familiar?

There could be several outcomes. You may never come around to it as you found later that you do not need it anymore, or that the opportunity to do so has passed on. Or maybe you may just lose the interest and felt it is not worth doing anymore. Or you may find yourself preparing meticulously for it, carrying out all the arrangements and scheduling necessary before you finally do it.

Or maybe one day, a simple event takes place, and suddenly you found yourself doing that particular thing you've been meaning to do with absolute ease and no hesitation at all on your part.

My point is : I just bought a digital camera. Yesterday. Pat just like that. Because of this weblog. Yeay! I am now a proud owner of a Nikon Coolpix 2100 (a new model here), harga pasaran yang disyorkan RM888(tanpa flashcard tambahan), dapatkan segera di kedai gambar yang berhampiran dengan anda. Easy to buy and get pointers coz my brother has a kedai gambar himself. See what I meant? Been meaning to get a digital camera for some time, and own brother sells cameras to people day in and day out some more, yet yesterday only buy one. I decided to get a very basic piece first, and get the hang of it before moving on to greater functions. Ah.... now that though will be on another day of course?.

P.S : If you want to buy a camera or other photography-related stuff at prices a lil' bit cheaper than the usual market price, tell me lah! Support my brother's business :)