Friday, July 31, 2009

Mourning

The only way we can describe the case is that one of the birds in the nest, helpless as it is has mysteriously disappeared without any sign of struggle. Chances are, it never got to spread it's wings and fly away like what it's remaining sibling might do in the near future.

I am immensely saddened by this. It's like having your one and only sibling being kidnapped or dead. This is from the other bird's point of view. From my point of view it's like losing a niece or nephew (because I once jokingly said my parents looked out for the birds like they were their grandkids)

:(

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The End of Something Beautiful

There is a question that no doubt crosses our mind from time to time, sometimes just fleetingly and occasionally, when the mind is allowed to wander while idle in a more serious manner. Why are we here? That was one of the first few things that crossed my mind while reading this particular book - Childhood's End. When I finished the book the first time though, it made me feel a tad bit sad... I can't seem to be able to explain it well, so I shall not try.

Now, the book mainly touches the issue of humans and the changes they undergo under the care of the Overlords - who had landed on Earth from a distant sun. It traces the chronology, from the beginning of the invasion (for the lack of a better word) to people's general reaction in the beginning, how their lives are affected after about 50 years and right up till the end when the Overlords take leave because it their time to do so, leaving the last human on Earth behind to witness the destruction (or is it deconstruction?) of the planet.

In the book, we can see that over the years, people seemed to have forgotten their differences, forgotten about war, and everything was like what a utopian society may be, and yet something very crucial to the development of human beings as a species was halted. Creativity, and the inquisitive nature to discover things for ourselves, among others. It makes you wonder if 'real peace' (if there is such a thing) is ever achieved in this lifetime, would we face the same fate? Would we just stop thinking to move forward and accept life as it is? I think it would be awfully dull that way. Imagine if we just stopped at Walkman instead of moving forward to the age of the iPod...

Now, it's been ages since I last read sci-fi, not counting a certain revisit on HG Wells' War of the Worlds somewhere last year, and I found Childhood's End to be a pretty good read (very well written and makes you sit up and think) that I had to read it twice (this is also because I end up reading things really fast and tend to miss out on some important information during the first read) It also makes you keep guessing what is going to happen, who the Overlords are, etc because the story is unfolded in such a way, and peeking at the back of the book - forget it. Just read it.

Edit: I didn't mention this in the post earlier, but the reason I got my hands on this book was because it was lent to me by a friend who's a fan of the book. If you're reading this you know who are. Thanks again.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Inner Feminism Unleashed

Growing up, I embraced feminism for awhile - not the bra burning type of feminism, but more of the 'why aren't women being treated the same way as men are?' kind. This kind of stemmed from my father's unfair statements of 'It's too dangerous because you're a girl' or 'I'd let you go to (insert name of place) if you were a boy'

Nevertheless, as I grew older, I decided to toss my so-called feminism into the bin because it was pointless. Plus I work in an environment filled with men, so feminism is not a very good trait unless I want to get offended every single day.

This evening, for some reason (because he had nothing better to do, probably) Joseph decided to hang around where A (one of the other process engineers) and I sit and bug our lives with his conversation. As usual he had an array of complaints about how the company trip this weekend was arranged, to the position of the cutter plotter and a whole lot of other things that I half listened to as I was trying to concentrate on my work.

Not too long into his tirade about everything wrong with where we work (he used to work for one of our customers before this, but was taken in as a consultant after his retirement, the ungrateful sod), CML passed by our office to go somewhere. He referred to her as 'Ah Moi' (loosely translated will mean something like young Chinese lady - a generic term which I personally think is disrespectful) and said something about her taking over the Quality section of our place. As if calling someone Ah Moi is not bad enough, he expressed his horror at our company giving a woman such an important decision making task! I listened with a somewhat interested air at what he was saying, being a woman myself.

He then proceeded to tell both A and myself that in his former place a woman would never ever be given an important decision making task, especially in the important areas such as in manufacturing or quality or even R&D, and he can even proudly claim that when a woman got married, she'd be transferred or requested to quit! That (according to him), is a certain country's style of working! (Don't the women from that country want to murder their men, I wonder) I nearly vomited into the document I was reading then. Instead I asked him if the women ever sued the company for such blatant gender inequality. I was horrified to learn that they never did (and this was as recent as the late 90's)

And so he continued with the story about his old company (why don't you go back there, you idiot!??) and A and I continued to listen with interest (I was looking for an area to enter and launch an attack and A was looking at me, trying to gauge my reaction because I can get a bit overexcited over things I'm passionate about)

Now, the thing is, where we work, a lot of important decision making tasks are held by women. Even my direct boss is a woman, the head of R&D is a woman, and a few other important posts are held by women. I pointed this out to Joseph and even went to the extent of saying that these few people are very committed in their jobs compared to some others and can actually make very good decisions professionally as well as decisions that affect the welfare of the people under them! I'm not saying that women are better at decision making than men, just that we can be given the task and can make decisions as objectively as a man can. All people are created equal except for certain bits and pieces, that is. The excellent part is, even A (who is male) supported my argument, thinking that ideas that women cannot be put into decision making posts are a bit ridiculous in this time and age. From the back of the room, R who was quietly doing his work gave a not-so-discreet cough after I started my argument.

This whole pointless discussion (sometimes, I think Joseph just likes to create a sensation to get some attention like a lousy tabloid) lasted about half an hour. Or he could be an escapee on a time machine from the stone age (although even the men from the stone age would have had more faith in their women) Seriously, no one with such an old-fashioned mindset should be allowed to walk around in the 21st century!

Edit: Sorry about the long ranty post!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Chicks

video

Well, here is a video of the chicks. There are supposedly two of them, but one of them is catching up on it's beauty sleep. While the other probably thought I was one of the food suppliers and decided to sleep again when it found out otherwise. Poor thing! That horrible sound in the background is err... my voice (in a mock high-pitch tone people use when talking to cute things)

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Her Face is the Map of the World

Yesterday was one of those days where my mind jumped from idea to idea like a train on rocket fuel despite my attempts to calm it down by reading a book. Obviously that didn't work, because the book revived thoughts about the world and civilisations and people in general. More ideas jumping around like synapses. Maybe I think too much. In the end, I decided to look up some interesting places on the net and get the maps on how to get there for the much delayed road trip I was supposed to do a few weeks ago.



Plus I will also be soon encountering my first ever long distance solo drive to this place called The Lost World of Tambun. Although I did sign up for the convoy based drive, it would be better if I knew how to get there myself. People say it's easy getting there, but I've been known to get lost in my own town, so it's best to be safe. My current mood however protests against going, predicting a boring day filled with water based games (I'm mildly hydrophobic), but then again, who knows if the *forces of adrenaline may somehow make me think otherwise later. To make things worse, it's a two day event this time! As though seeing them every other day isn't enough... However, Therese is trying her best to convince me to go... "all the single people can have a crazy sleepover and play **poker at night" she insists.

Anyway, I was also searching for GPS units for the car vs GPS enabled mobile phones without being able to decide what I should get. I've always had a distrust for items which serves more than one function, like the ironically named three-in-one printer of mine that doesn't print, so a plain old GPS unit should serve the function, I guess. Any suggestions? Another thing that did cross my mind is that I could possibly create a record by being the first ever person to get lost on the streets even with a GPS unit. This shall be fun...

* http://anushasecretbackup.blogspot.com/2007/07/fun-in-sun.html
** Funny thing about poker is that none of us (between Therese and myself) know how to play the game, not being big time gamblers. Hud instead wants to play strip poker, in which Therese and I planned to load ourselves with bangles and bracelets... if the need ever arises. I'm wondering if I should introduce them to Risk instead...

Friday, July 17, 2009

The Day Off

Nothing special, really. I took the day off today (planned since last week, no doubt) to have a day to myself to do whatever I wanted, which basically consisted of attempting to watch a movie during the day, cancel an old Internet account, read and probably other things that I wouldn't be able to do otherwise.

Instead, after spending a bit of the morning reading, I went to sleep at about noon only to be brutally woken up at about 4:30 by a call from a colleague (who was kind enough to apologise for waking me up - how embarrassing!) who needed to know my computer password because one of the trainees wanted to use my PC at work. Although it was a good and long sleep, I was very disoriented for a bit... just goes to prove my theory that I sleep better in the day. At least now I know that if I ever had to work shifts, sleeping would never be a problem ;)

It is now about 10:30 pm, and I was just browsing around and decided to check out my (ahem) horoscope on Yahoo! I can't help laughing at how much of a far cry it is from reality... and here I quote: "You'll be full of energy today, although figuring out how to harness it all might be something of a challenge for you. You have many new people and commitments in your life right now, and all of them will benefit from your huge influx of liveliness (How???). You'll be able to tackle everything you need to do and impress everyone you encounter (Yeah, right). One person in particular is seeing you in a whole new light, which could make your social calendar even busier"

It really should have read "You will spend your day being a bum and wonder what happened because you can't seem to recall much, and someone who works closely with you will find out a deep dark secret. Machines will continue their work regardless if you are there or not and you will discover that arrows shot on the move have 25% more oomph than arrows shot from a stationary position"

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Sick of Being Sick!!

It must be a sorry state my body is in right now. Even after 3 weeks since the declaration of the attack of the flu bug, I have not recovered. Fully. It is without doubt the sniffles have long seen their day, but the cough remains and as the days go by it seems to get only worse despite the packets of Fisherman's Friends I finished as well as my attempts to take my weekend medicine (the medication is unfortunately too strong to be taken on weekdays - read workdays because I'm left in a state of delirium which can cause nasty accidents involving staircases)

And to combat this I should have done what any normal sick person would have done... take a few days off, take medication and lie quietly in bed until they totally recover. But not me. Not 'macho' Terra. She had to go to work. Let the flu fight itself.... like it always does without considering for one single moment that her workplace could be the one with potential hazard. It's swarming with chemical molecules!!

So three weeks later and after a fitful series of coughs and not much rest save for Sunday where I did practically nothing, I realise that the pain caused by all that violent coughing and probably overwork is indeed too much to bear. The pain at the left side of my rib has moved (spread) to the right side as well and breathing has become such a chore. I've skipped going to the gym for three whole weeks (something I've never done before since I joined the gym last year) and pretty much feel like a miserable little git. I am seriously sick and tired of being sick! How could I neglect my health until it turned so bad?

Monday, July 13, 2009

Through Broken Lenses


The only information they would give was that it is about "an unlikely friendship (that) blossoms between two misfits". Seeing that I had nothing better to do, I sat down to watch the movie they played on TV last night till the point of delaying my shower and dinner till much later (for some reason, I wanted to shower first, then only eat). It's called Dream with the Fishes.

With a slight comedic twist, the story is about life and death in general, and about dreams and fantasies we all have while we go through our daily lives. Through the movie, we get to see how one character, Terry, while alive, is intent on dying by suicide, and another, Nick, who has only *three weeks left of his life. They cross paths one night in Terry's attempt at suicide, strike a deal and the rest they say is history. Now, I'm not exactly going to review or summarise the movie. Suffice to say that if you do get the chance, watch it by all means... at least for the excellent dialogue (I was so impressed that it was not cheesy at all!), and the somewhat interesting and quirky characters. One scene I have to mention is in the scene where after getting high, they go to this fair, and kind of stumble upon a fortune teller lady who tells Nick that he has three weeks from Monday. When he asks her what's next, she says he'll be given the job of protecting all the souls of all the fishes because he was apparently a fish in his previous birth. Next, they're in this aquarium, and we suddenly see him setting a fish free into the sea.

Watching the movie, however, brings forth the following question... Do we appreciate life more when we know for a fact that we don't have much time left? As I might have mentioned over some posts before this, I have a rather nonchalant attitude towards death and dying in general (my own, of course - I still do feel bad over deaths of others) but will I be thinking differently if I knew I was dying? Honestly, I don't know... but chances are I'd most probably come up with a bucket list of my own. What do you think?

It was interesting to note that as the movie progressed, Terry and his suicidal nature began to embrace life as his unlikely friend who was dying went through one crazy fantasy after another with his help. Maybe that's the way it is supposed to be... live life as though there is no tomorrow, and forget all the pressures of living for the future.

* The three weeks left is a very vague point, I'm afraid

Saturday, July 11, 2009

quod erat demonstrandum

After months of weighing the idea in their grubby hands amidst support and protests, they have finally decided to revert to the usage of Bahasa Malaysia (from now henceforth to be known as BM in this post) in the teaching of science and maths to school students after an experimental period of about 6 years of teaching those subjects in English. Apparently the experiment failed big time.

One of the issues highlighted was a difficulty for the students to move effortlessly from basic science and maths in BM to English when they go to varsity which was one of the reasons why English in science and maths was introduced in the first place. That and also a plan for making us more competitive outside Malaysia, especially in English speaking nations.

Now, national type school students in Malaysia have been learning science and maths (and a whole lot of other subjects except English) in BM (Although I must admit that there have been strange rumours of English being taught in BM circulating around!) since 19xx right until 2002 (I can't seem to find the information to this anywhere online at the moment) I was a part of this mass group of students who made a transition from BM in school to English in varsity using the help of technical dictionaries (when available, which wasn't often :( ) and some extra effort. Of course it was not easy, because text books were in English, lecture notes and some exams were in BM (in my case), but we managed just fine. I don't ever remember tearing my hair out over terminology.

For this very reason, I don't see why people are making so much noise about using BM again, if kids from before 2003 had to adjust, so why can't the kids these days do the same?

On another note, one of the things I regret about not using English for science and maths in school was when trying to prove/derive an equation - usually depends on what the question wants, though. I used to watch my sister write Q.E.D. (aka quod erat demonstrandum) with a flourish after deriving an equation, whereas when we did it, we only used the words "terbukti" (translated as proven)

To be honest, the issue is a big one... too many people with too many opinions. Plus there is also a bunch of people who are under the impression that we are taking a step backward by using BM again and so on, which I shall not comment on. For a better understanding of the whole issue, please click this link. And for further details, there are links in the link itself.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Haiku

It's beyond control
Slipping right through my fingers
Could all be lost now?

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Romanticism vs Practicality

It was towards the end of March... I was nursing a particularly unexpected headache while holidaying in Sarawak where I was introduced to the wonderful world of Risk. It was the most intriguing board game ever, and although I was attacked left, right and center throughout the game as certain people made it a point to eliminate all my little red troops off the map, I had tonnes of fun. Now for those not in the know, Risk is a game that involves strategy, and some cold, calculated moves. Sympathy and feeling bad for destroying someone's troops may only come back to haunt you someday. Nevertheless, I was hooked and planned to get my own set (let's just forget for a moment that getting 3 or more players to play with me will be a whole challenge in itself!)

Anyway, last Saturday saw me, my sister and my cousin having an 'under 30's day out' which consisted of a very late and long lunch which then extended to a drive to a different town as none of us wanted to go home. As usual, we had not made any plans, and by the time we drove out, a lot of places would be closing up... so we ended up at a mall, and co-incidentally, just as luck would have it, Toys'r'Us was there right in front of our eyes, beckoning us to get in.

The last time I stepped into Toys'r'Us was when I was about 9, I think... that was 20 years ago. Stepping in, it seems as though it wasn't as big as it was when I was 9. After passing through the babies section, and seeing some Star Wars merchandise from afar (which made me think of my colleague who enters the shop in the pretext of buying toys for his daughter, but instead takes snap shots of himself with Star Wars gear!), I saw the rows of boxes with the words Risk written on them.

I picked one up, and figured that i might as well get it. Clutching onto it, I walked around the shop, secretly envying the kids nowadays when I stumbled upon something on a shelf. Among the many games and toys displayed was an old fashioned box of Risk made of wood that looked like it was made in ancient times! I immediately fell in love with it, because it was so incredibly rustic. However, I later found out that it most probably had missing parts, the most notable, the instruction manual - and for Risk, the instruction manual is an integral part of the game! Plus there are many versions of the game, so no two manufacturers will have the exact same instructions. The romanticism in me insisted that we could somehow find a way to play it, missing parts or not... as for the instructions, no harm looking for them on the net, right? But the practical side of Terra decided otherwise. So for that day, practicality won over romanticism. Sigh...



This is an exact version of that gorgeous box, except this one looks new and clean. That one looked like it had history (probably dropped to the floor a gazillion times)

Monday, July 06, 2009

I Want to Shoot the Whole Day Down

Otherwise known as "how I stupidly make myself depressed".

Monday and I have had a very understanding relationship thus far, in which I ignore the stigma associated with it (by resenting Sunday nights), while Monday leaves me in peace. It has been a successful formula to date, with Monday being a very acceptable day as far as days go. No doubt things move in a whirr on Mondays and I always suddenly realise a million things that I had inconveniently forgotten about. So, when I heard the song "I don't like Mondays" this morning (I first heard it on Saturday evening with my sister and we both laughed when we heard it) I couldn't help but smile at the idea of shooting the whole day down.

However, a little keyboard hitting and a little research and reading in my 'procrastination time' led me to this site: http://www.songfacts.com/detail.php?id=698. Definitely not something to smile about, though...

Friday, July 03, 2009

Of Deaths and Memories

People die.

It is now a week since the sudden death of Micheal Jackson, the king of pop. I was watching the tribute shows on TV with a mild interest. People were devastated at the sudden loss of a musical icon, they were worried for the fate of his children, they were sad that he will not be making any more new music. What bugged me most was the fact that where were these people when he was accused of being over-friendly with little boys? Where were they when he was accused of endangering his child by dangling him on a balcony in front of thousands of people?

Anyway, we shall leave the present day for the moment.

My earliest memory of Michael Jackson involved me seeing him in a music video - Thriller to be exact and watching an interesting conversation (friendly argument) between my aunt and *potato uncle, whereby he declared that MJ was a lady and not a man as we all thought he was. My aunt was adamant that he was indeed a man, but I was too young (probably 3 yrs old) to recall what her argument was. Come to think of it, if I had been more vocal at that time instead of staring open mouthed at the zombies and creatures on the screen, even I could have argued that he was a man.

It was many years later when I rediscovered him, first through Black or White which fascinated the 12 year old me and later mainly for school purposes - especially since some of the societies I was in had to prepare performances for teacher's day and other such things... there was one year where a friend and I who were in charge of coming up with the performance for one of the societies, edited the intro of Heal the World and combined it with Will you be there which became quite a hit , (we managed to train everyone to hit the high notes without any help from any music teacher!! - there weren't any in our school, actually) although it confused one of my friends (who doesn't listen much to English music) because she told her cousin that it was one song and not two. And her cousin tried to convince her otherwise! I told her we modified it and recorded it ourselves using the double decked cassette players which was slowly losing fame then and she looked a bit horrified. I thought it was funny.

As the years passed by, his music took a backseat, while his private life was scrutinised from every angle... and it remained so till the day he died.

*potato uncle is a family friend whose wife was informally adopted as a daughter by my grandmother. They lived just across the street from my grandparents at that time and seemed to come over rather often. Potato uncle was nicknamed Potato because that was how he called me when I was a kid- mostly to antagonise me. I have no idea what his real name is, but as I grew older I realised his major hobby was to antagonise little kids with constant teasing. Come to think of it, maybe he did enjoy antagonising adults as well - my aunt should have been around 28 at that time.

Edit: So, I read the post again, and I think I need to make it clear that I did like MJ's music. Not a rabid, faint at the concert kind of fan, but I can say that his songs always made an impact of some sort, be it the meaning, or the videos, and yes, even those dance moves!