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.

Synopsis:
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!



Work-in-progress



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..."

Update:
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

Picturepost


[Black/White]

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..........
Aooohhhhhhwayaya

repeat 1st verse + Chorus

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

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

Words

"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)
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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 cafĂ© 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:

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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.

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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:

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"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.)
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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.
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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 : ??????
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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!