Wednesday, December 31, 2008

An Open Letter to 2009

Dear 2009,

Hey there, I believe we haven't met just yet, though we most probably will in a few hours.

To be honest, this is the very first time I'm writing a letter to a year. I suppose you should know that I along with a few others have not made any resolutions to celebrate your arrival, but that's beside the point.

The thing is, I was kind of hoping to catch you before you descended upon us. It's just hours away where people will be ushering you in with fireworks, countdowns and laughter induced by champagne bubbles... So before anything happens, I'd like to request just one thing. Be nice. Just that. I'm not hoping for anything spectacular, but it would be nice if 2009 (that is you, if you've forgotten) could leave out unnecessary pain from your list of things to do. So many people have a lot of hopes on you, you know.

I'm sure that at the end, you don't want to be rated the same as 2008 - unpredictable and only getting a five out of ten... (and just so you know this is not a threat)

Well I guess that's it. You're most probably busy preparing for your big moment, and it's totally pointless dragging this forever.

thanks and regards,
TerraShield

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Curtain Falls

For 2008, that is.

This is an attempt at an annual review of the year that was. I just checked back my older stuff and was reading through years 2006 and 2007.

It came, it saw it conquered. That was 2008. And now, it's almost over, a bit like a bad movie that you're forced to watch because your eyes have been taped open.

On the personal front I'd say that 2008 was the year of the unexpected. You'd be moving along one path (not so comfortably, mind you) and the next thing you know, there's a sharp corner which you have to take, and one small wrong step will leave you, well... you know. There were so many changes that were thrown my way, that I can't even remember what changed, and when. Everything is just a blur as though I had been blindfolded and put in the middle of a non stop carousel which kept spinning and spinning and taking me along with it. When there are no resolutions to speak of there are none to break, so I took the easy move and did not make or break any resolutions just like what I've done for many of the previous years. With all the challenges and curveballs life hurls at you, the last thing you need is a broken resolution haunting you throughout the year. Or the year after.

Some things I learnt this year...

1. There are times when the more busy you are, the more time you have.
2. I had forgotten EVERYTHING I knew about playing the guitar.
3. Treat your ipod with care and it will treat you the same
4. Technology and Terra does not make a good mix
5. Windows Vista still sucks, but I still use it. Does that make me a sucker?
6. Working on Sunday evenings - no comments
7. Going into the jungle is fun
8. Wading through a river that is chest high with a strong current is not much fun
9. There are times when it still sends shudders down my spine
10. It's confirmed, my personality type is "Now you see her, now you don't"
11. Paper gives you paper cut, steel plates give you? (I didn't learn anything here)
12. Going to the same place to get a haircut does not really mean your hair will be ruined forever, just make sure it's not the same person who cuts your hair!
13. I'm jinxed (Coincidentally I ended up listing that in number 13, although I personally don't believe in 13 being unlucky) What am I saying?
14. There are people who think I'm cool
15. But deep down inside, I'm still geeky
16. I can ride a bicycle without falling off only if I go in a straight line. Corners are tricky.
17. I'm still addicted to coffee.
18. If my so called insomnia gets any worse, I'd have to borrow a gun from someone to shoot myself
19. Good news is there were NO grey hairs at all. I'm safe!

I can't say for sure if 2008 was a good or a bad year for me... no doubt I have been miserable for the most part of it, had a few breakdowns here and there (Of course I didn't blog about all of them), and there was the inception of the bloody project, a non-existent social life, no holidays at all and the memories of Bali 2006 have faded into whispers. It was the kind of year where you wonder if you're stuck in the wrong place, though not necessarily at the wrong time. It was a year of interesting friendships, good books and quite good music considering that I had suddenly found myself being more open to different styles. It was a pathetic year for movies (because I didn't watch that many to begin with) One good thing I did for a fact was to join the gym and actually stick to a regular regime (almost!), and although it leaves me very tired at the end of the day, I'm happy that I'm spending my time doing something that will benefit me in 20 years down the road. Yeah, I think that far!

For me, I'd give 2008 a 5 out of 10. Like I said, it wasn't too good, and neither was it too bad. Hey, the fact that I still live and be able to blog about it is enough proof. How was your 2008?

PS: At the time of publishing, I had tentatively decided that this is going to be the final post for 2008 (that's the only way this post will have any effect) and as much as I find solace in blogging, I feel the need to break away for a bit and look at the world in a different perspective. I might still be around lurking, though... reading. That said, I'd like to wish all blog friends and random visitors a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

PS2: For the sake of all fellow sufferers of 2008, here's hoping for a wonderful 2009.

PS3: I started on this post on the 16th, the bloggers block is still there, it seems

Bed Bugs Don't Bite

In the past 80 hours or so, I have clocked a cumulative of only 10 hours of sleep. The rest were spent awake (either working, walking, sitting, being on the net, and lying on the bed worrying about nothing in particular)

Although I feel fine now, I was sleepy by 10 pm last night. No doubt I slept only to be suddenly wide awake at 2:30 right until I had to wake up at 6:30 am. Will this never ever end, I wonder....

I do hope that I don't end up like the machinist. That would be just sad.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

A very short review of The Fountain and thoughts on Death


First of all, Hugh Jackman has got to be one of the most gorgeous people on this planet. Now that we have set that straight, life can go on as it normally does.

With themes we are all familiar with, such as love, the search for an answer to life's mysteries, and death, this movie captures you from the very beginning with it's amazing cinematography. A tree, mostly almost dead stands alone, and a bald (but still good looking) Hugh Jackman sits crossed legged, and then there's all these memories flashing back and forth as the story moves from the inter-related lives of the characters that had spanned over centuries, from the days when Spain had a Queen, to the modern world we live in , right up to the futuristic view of life.

What's captivating about the movie is the fact that it incorporates Mayan folklore, and discusses the existence of the tree of life and how it is death that creates life (a suggestion by Rachel Weisz character, Izzi) Despite the movie being 'slow'- not much action except for the part where Tommy/Thomas (Hugh Jackman) strangles the doctor when he tells him that his wife (Izzi) was dead, it was very intriguing and beautiful in it's own way.

For me, the most interesting part of the movie is where Tommy says that "Death is a disease. It's like any other. And there's a cure" which gave me the impression that he needed/wanted to find a cure for death, and that people shouldn't be dying off just like that (I can't really blame him for thinking that way because Izzi was young when she died of a brain tumour)

Somehow, that got me thinking about death on it's own, and how I think it effects people. I think most of the time, someone's death mostly affects other people and not the person who dies. I mean, people like partners, parents, or children or even friends would think that they should not have gone so soon, and how they have so much to offer and how things would be different if they were alive which is all well and true, but I think that I were to find out that I was going to die, I'd accept it quite well and not fret too much. I mean, I'm sure I'd think of the few things I've always wanted to do but never got to do, but then again, perhaps when you're dead it doesn't matter anymore.

Picture borrowed from cinematic.com

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Art, a Quiz, and Lost Ideas

Yeah, so here you have a person who envisioned pushing down her form two art teacher down the steps taking a quiz on (drum rolls please) art. It's all HelloQuizzy's fault. They have so many quizzes and they're all fun, and especially good when you have nothing profound to say but want to blog anyway (Well, there usually isn't anything profound that I would say but... )

And besides, the blog needed some colour.

Your result for What Your Taste in Art Says About You Test...

Extroverted, Progressive, and Intelligent

5 Cubist, -5 Islamic, -5 Ukiyo-e, 3 Impressionist, 2 Abstract and -19 Renaissance!

Cubism was a 20th century avant-garde movement, pioneered by Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque. It revolutionized European art and inspired changes in music and literature. The first branch of cubism, known as Analytic Cubism. It was both radical and influential as a short but highly significant art movement between 1908 and 1911 mainly in France. In its second phase, Synthetic Cubism, (using synthetic materials in the art) the movement spread and remained vital until around 1919.

People that chose Cubist paintings as their favorite art form tend to be very individualized people. They are more extroverted and less afraid of speaking their opinions then other people. They tend to be progressive and are very forward thinking. As the cubist painting is like looking into a shattered mirror where you can see different angles of the images, the people that prefer these paintings like looking at all angles of a problem. These people are intelligent and they are the transformers of our generation. They look beyond what is seen into what things could become. They are ready to leave the ideas of the past behind and look at what the future has to offer.

Take What Your Taste in Art Says About You Test
at HelloQuizzy


Hmm... very interesting.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Vietnamese Spam

No... I'm not talking about spam in the tin.

I got this in my mobile phone message inbox the other day, and figured why not have some fun with it. And just to make it clear on why I'm calling it spam... it's because this is the second message I received from the same number.

"Em quen roi! the ah gap luc nao ah noi cho em mot vai thi du de em de nho ra hon co dc kg ah?"

The strangest part of all is that it was sent via a local number, and it actually got me thinking if there are any foreign workers of Vietnamese origin hereabouts. Or could it be a distressed Vietnamese bride seeking help?

I mean what are the odds of you receiving a message from a foreigner (whom I'm assuming to be Vietnamese but I could be wrong!) And yeah, sympathies to the sender, a question was asked but there was no reply.

Translations, anyone?

Monday, December 15, 2008

Revenge?

It's funny. I used to use blogging as a form of distraction from the idiocity of daily life, and suddenly I find myself being distracted from blogging by the idiocity of daily life.

Oh well.

Friday, December 12, 2008

The 4th Dimension


Between the hours spent being awake, either forced or voluntarily and a very skewed definition of the word "rest" in the last few years or so, I have managed to make myself very, very tired. And somehow, during those lost hours, something I used to rely on very heavily to make things better seemed to have disappeared from my vocabulary: The afternoon nap.

I remember hating those afternoon naps as a child. I'd always want to run around, play, or just do something, but I had to succumb to the pressure in the end. In recent times however, as soon as I attempted taking a nap, I'd be wide awake, just like that. Even the most boring, long winded 18th century literature could never put Terra back to sleep again.

What's worse is the condition seems to have detriorated as time goes by. Earlier this week, I had an extended weekend, which instead of leaving me refreshed, made me even more tired than usual, although I did try my best to sleep well. Anyway, yesterday was another holiday (The Sultan's Birthday) And yes, I'm loving December with my whole heart!! With the combination of a splendid weather and a shower in the afternoon, my eyes were closing as I was trying to read one of the books I recently got myself. You know how it feels when you're reading the same lines over and over again and everything stops making sense, and you decide that it's time to call it a day? Well, I called it an afternoon and slept like a proverbial baby for awhile.

After what seemed like hours (my room is very dark even during the day, so I actually thought it was late), I saw my sister enter the room. She said hi, and I was surprised to see her there because she was not supposed to be there, and a bit worried that she was going to disturb my precious sleep. She said that our dad picked her up and there she was, and she proceeded to jump on me (sister like bullying) and I tried pushing her away with my legs. She vanished, but then I found myself unable to move. Something was holding my hands down and I could feel their fingers holding tighter as I attempted to dig my fingernails into their hands. And I couldn't even scream out.

I've faced this before several times, where you're paralysed in a state of between being awake and sleeping, something's holding you down or pinning themselves against you and you can't scream. And you have to muster all your energy to push it off, whatever it may be. I've heard from a friend that this situation arises when you're too tired (which corroborates pretty well with my actual situation), but some others insist that it may be from those we can't see with our eyes. Whatever it was, my going to sleep, having the dream and waking up with a muffled scream all happened within 1 hour. I must say I was disappointed that I had only slept for an hour, but surprisingly, the tiredness seems to have disappeared for the time being.


And tonight, I'm going to scare my sister with the story.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Charger That Went AWOL

A few of us had a distressing few weeks when we realised with horror that the charger we use to recharge the batteries of the video camera which is practically the lifeline of the 10 year project had disappeared without a trace. All accusing eyes turned to B, the last person believed to have used the video camera. A thorough search in all possible locations proved to be a futile effort. It seemed as though the charger might have developed a few legs and ran off in the middle of the night. The owner of the video camera (Our sales department) wasn't very happy with the knowledge, and it was finally decided that all the members involved in the using of the said camera would pool in some money to get a new charger.

So, last week B went to the shops with the video camera to get a replacement charger. And much to his dismay (and ours later), none of the shops had the type of charger we needed. In fact, they had no replacement units at all, but gave B an unconvincing promise of attempting to locate one via Sony.

The thing is while B was busy at the shops, T and I were doing our own investigation and this is what we discovered:

According to T, he used the charger at AP's place because all his extension sockets were occupied. Another thing we realised is that AP had moved to the empty table near mine, but did not take his extension socket along with him (He's leaching power from my the unoccupied sockets of my extension) Also, soon after AP moved from his original place, PT who recently became pregnant had moved to our office because her original work station is quite exposed to the solvents from the factory. The IT expert at our place had helped her install her computer at her new place. A call to the IT expert confirmed that he had indeed removed a charger from the place where PT sits and he had given the charger to PT herself. So both T and I asked PT if she had been given a charger to which she said yes (she wasn't aware of us looking for the charger because she is a naturally clueless person, and is not directly involved in the project and therefore we never imagined her to be the possible culprit) Nevertheless, it wasn't at her table or drawer and she said that it's most probably either in her car or at her house.

A few days later, she brings the charger back to work. While we were busy worrying, the charger had happily been in hiding in one of the most unlikely locations in the world. Unbelieavable! One worry down.... 9 and a half years of worry to go :)

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

A Rhetorical Question


It is a known fact that a certain number of babies are born every minute somewhere in this world, and there are also a certain number of people who kick the bucket every other minute, so there is supposed to be a certain balance, right? However, it feels as though the world is suddenly very very crowded for no apparent reason.

I have a question to ask... if someone (a friend for instance) asks you how you are after a long time of not meeting each other, and your meeting is a brief one, an encounter at the bank or something. What do you say? Do you assume the question to be a rhetorical one, give a smile and say you're fine and ask them how they are, although deep down inside you feel like wielding a sword on a high speed horse and take the heads off ever person that gets in your way?

I can't say why, but when I get this question, I automatically say everything's allright although a part of me wants to say, "No, I'm not allright. Can I cry on your shoulder, please?"

I had a one on one meeting with the Asst Mgr end of last week during the end of the year appraisal, and she being a friend as well (she was an engineer as well until somewhere in the middle of the year where she got promoted) told me something about me that was so true which is about me keeping problems to myself and taking all the burden, hence the continuous feeling of being overwhelmed over everything that happens. And then, there's also these bits and pieces of interesting conversations I've had with *the most open person in the world, which sort of made me realise that it's ok to tell things to people. Not much of a connection, I guess... and so

And yeah, although no one's asked, I feel like crap right now. I wish I could go through every single thing right now to ascertain the origin of the crappiness, but it's cleverly evading me like a fugitive evading his captor. The fact is I've been feeling crappy on and off ever since the short break I had. And surprisingly, all I want to do is break something. Or go somewhere really really quiet without me having to resort to threats of pulling someone's hair out. I don't know... I'm a bit miserable and I really don't know what to do. One thing's for sure is that it has nothing to do with work. Surprise, surprise...

Oh, well... after the long weekend, I'm finally back at work. It's a bit quiet today, which for me is a very good thing. Hopefully there are no problems we can't solve today. Anyway here are a few things
1. Many people at work actually had a haircut through the long weekend, which can give the conclusion that long weekends are used to get haircuts?
2. Could your car possibly hate you because you didn't wash it in like say over a few weeks? Yes, I believe so...
3. I should have been born a nocturnal creature - like a bat. I'm half blind, and I'd like to fly. Fits me to a tee.
4. And yet another post is born. Will December break the record?

* to my knowledge

Monday, December 08, 2008

Hillside Mess

You'd think that people would learn good lessons from tragedies past and attempt to prevent them from recurring and causing pain and injury all over again. Based on what's going on though, that seems to be not the case at all.

About two days ago, a landslide happened near a commercial area near Damansara Heights, where the roads were closed and the buildings evacuated. And even before the shock of that incident had blown over, another landslide happened in the hillside residential area of Bukit Antarabangsa near Ulu Klang in the middle of the night, killing four, injuring several others and destroying houses in the process. So far, about 3000 to 4000 people have been asked to evacuate the area.

Back in 1993, a tower block of this place called Highland Towers, another hillside residential area around the same area of Ulu Klang collapsed leading to the deaths of 48 people, and the formation of SMART (Special Malaysia Disaster Assistance and Rescue Team), because we never had the need for one before. A study was conducted in the area, and it was decided that the land structure had weakened due to water that had seeped into the land from a source that was previously blocked.

Even the government agreed then that hillsides may not be the best area to build houses and decided on a rule to reduce housing areas at hillsides unless the land is proven to be safe, but even till today, you see all sorts of development of housing estates at hillsides, and you wonder if they're actually safe. I'm not sure if the houses at Bukit Antarabangsa were built before or after the Highland Towers tragedy because there seems to be no information available, but if it was built after the tragedy, then it's a bad case of not using history as a guide.

There is no doubt that hillside houses have a great view, and are always cooler (temperature wise, not hipper) than houses on low lying areas. Nevertheless, heavy rainfall at these former water catchment areas seem to seep in and when it is too much to handle, the land gives way and slides causing all these massive damage. And we all know how damaging water can be if look closely at the effects of floods, tsunamis, or even the slow effects over time that water causes in caves.

Now there is a talk about about reintroducing extra safety measures into housing at hillsides, including a proposed masterplan (after all, there is always a demand for houses at hillsides) Only time can tell if this is the best solution.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Of Genetics and Pain


Of all the things that I could have inherited from my dad, I inherited his eyebrows. Now because there is a policy of these pages here being under strict rules of semi-anonymity, I cannot provide any pictorial evidence, nevertheless, suffice to say that they look almost similar to Bert's eyebrows. You know, Bert, the yellow dude from Sesame Street (Fine, it's not uni-browed like Bert's but still) It would have been much nicer if I did inherit some of the tall genes. I could do well with at least two extra inches, mostly for getting stuff off the higher places without looking for a stool each time.

If I had been born a boy, this will be a non-issue. In fact, I wouldn't even be mentioning it here (or even have a blog in the first place for that matter. I don't know why, but I always think that if I were a guy, I'd be a very different person from what I am now) Being a girl though, it is a big issue, because eyebrows (on a girl) should be neat, and thin and shaped well. Like my mom's. In fact, because of this I find myself reluctantly dragging myself to this place called Bobby's where they put you on a chair that very closely resembles that of a dentist, get you to stretch the skin between your forehead and your eyelid, and they loop this thread with their fingers and create a crazy work of magic.

While seeing them do this procedure we call threading on other people is something very nice to look at (almost artistic, if I may say so myself), the person under the knife (or thread) suffers from a million little pricks as the eyebrow hair is firmly tugged out at high speed leaving the skin a little tender and red, and painful for at least the next few hours. Thankfully the whole process usually ends within ten minutes.

What's strange is that my sister and I were discussing about how each time we undergo the procedure, we say to ourselves how not worth it it is, but when you look in the mirror about a month or two later and you see all the mess genetics has bestowed upon us (and how the pain is as quickly forgotten), we end up going through the process again, only to think of never doing it again, and yet about a month later, there we are grimacing under the pain. It's a neverending cycle!

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

A reason to keep it small

It might have started somewhere in June if my memory of things like this can be trusted to any extent. Vehicle owners were requested to fix seatbelts at the rear seats by August and could be fined if the belts weren't there in case any law enforcement personnel decided to take a peek at your backseat.

The ruling to actually use the seatbelt at the back seats is supposed to begin come January 1st 2009, which is much nearer to us than anybody may think it is. Hearing all this, I'm beginning to wonder if this new ruling will ever see people at back seat sitting straight and properly instead of placing themselves in the middle. Even now with the front seat rule fully enforced (since eons ago), there are still people who pointedly refuse to use their belt until they see a cop and then panic and start frantically looking for the belt while hoping the cop didn't notice!

Anyway, I heard the news this morning, and this topic was discussed... most normal cars are 5 seaters, meaning that 2 people sit in front and three at the back. Apparently, the extra person/people in the car will not be fined for flouting the seatbelt rule, instead they (the poor driver) will be fined for (drum rolls, please) overloading.

Now I understand how dangerous and uncomfortable overloading can be especially when you try to fit 7 into a 4 seater regardless of how small some people can be. Thankfully none of us got badly smashed in the four minute squeeze! But I digress... The news got me wondering about families who say had 4 kids (all of them still underaged to drive), and what were they going to do if they ever decided to go on a roadtrip. Would each parent need to drive a separate car with 2 kids each? So will people start stopping at three kids to comfortably fit their family (I have not been successful at determining the latest average family size in Malaysia, though), but I know a few people with more than three kids.

Oh well, there's always the MPV!

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

The Moon Smiles


Seen from the outside stairs that led to the almost deserted carpark, the crescent of the moon looked like a small mouth smiling in the distance. Upon a closer look, two brightly shining objects, looking like stars stared out from above the moon like a pair of eyes twinkling on a face.

I read on Saturday about the phenomenon that was supposed to occur on Monday night, where the moon, Venus and Jupiter could be seen in a cluster and thought to myself how none of these things can be seen from the Malaysian sky (like a countless number of eclipses) or how it could be another hoax that even haunted my dreams a few years ago and with everything that happens on a daily basis I completely forgot about it... that is until I saw it, thanks to a largely cloudless sky. It was so simple, yet so cool.

Being enthusiastic about phenomena like this, I went for my camera as soon as doing so was possible. Nevertheless, clouds had begun to gather and the twinkling planets were slightly unclear, and just as luck would have it, my camera could not capture the picture at all. The dark blue sky with a slightly reddish hint turned out black in the photo. Sigh...

Monday, December 01, 2008

Baby, When the Lights Go Out

November ended with a local blackout. Really...

I had just finished ironing my clothes for the work week and sat down with the laptop on the floor, a cushion on my lap and was contemplating on putting up yet another complaint post, throw a couple of comments here and there but even before anything could happen, the lights went off with a bang. It was about 7:15 pm and it was already dark. Using the light from my laptop which was running on battery, I looked for my mobile phone as a temporary torchlight until I found a real one (by the way, mobile phone lights are lousy for situations like this)

The first torchlight that I picked did not work and neither did the second one... so I traipsed into the kitchen and found matches, but no candles. A few phone calls later, I found a torchlight after rummaging in the dark, and also found some candles. I took a tin, the candles and the matches to the hall and lit it. Then I turned off the laptop.

Since there was nothing else to do, I decided to eat dinner. A candlelight dinner all by myself with the flame dancing in the windless hall. It was really weird and not romantic at all. The surroundings were also a bit too quiet save for the occasional car moving in the street or a bike, or a bunch of kids taking a walk to escape the stifling heat of their houses. After doing the dishes in the dark, I went back to where the candle was and sat down with my mp3 player. For a multitasker, the solitude and the inactivity nearly killed me.

Taking a candlelit shower is even more surreal. Every shadow is a ghost waiting to scare you, and every flicker makes you wonder if you're not alone in there (thanks to all the haunted bathrooms in schools - the fear never leaves you!) Thankfully I wasn't caught by any ghost or you wouldn't be reading this.