Monday, September 28, 2009

Booting the Boot-cut

Of all the fashion fads of the past that came tumbling into the current era (about 10 years ago till now), nothing was embraced with more love from me than the boot cut jeans and pants. Besides giving the illusion of longer gems, the boot cut balanced certain proportion issues faced by certain women. It was loved by everyone, except perhaps some of the young people of the 70's who remembered the bell bottomed pants from their past with a certain degree of horror as it came in psychedelic colours.

For reasons that will be explained in a few days time, I went shopping yesterday. A dreary chore if I may say so myself. It took me about 5 hours to get a few necessary things after scouring practically every other tenant in the mall. Among the stuff I was looking for was a new pair of Levi's seeing that my current pair seems to be hanging at an awkward angle on my hip bone due to all the stretching after almost 3 years of usage and washing. It is still a nice pair, but a new pair wouldn't be too bad either.

So, I enter Levi's and head straight to the women's section to browse for a pair that was attractive enough (for me it should be: dark coloured, and either straight or boot cut) Unfortunately for me, there were no really straight, straight jeans... they came in the scary option of slim straight. Finally I found one boot cut pair hanging quietly among the slims, skinnys and whatnots. I tried it on, but needed a different size, which they did not have. To be honest, I wasn't surprised at all... A lot of items were either too big or too small. The mediums had probably gone on a shopping frenzy these last few days and grabbed everything off the shelves. Sigh.

However, what worries me the most is the fact that among the varieties they had displayed there (there could have been easily 40, but I'm not sure if there were any repetitions or not) there was only one boot cut design. Is it running out of fashion only to be brought back in another 30 years? (Gosh, I will be about 60 then, and if all plans work out, will probably be not alive) That will indeed be a nightmare. I can just imagine myself being the only boot cut wearer in 2016 ( using my very last pair from 2009, no less) and having younger people secretly laughing at me!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

OF STRANGELY HUED SEAS AND ARCHITECTURE OF HISTORICAL SIGNIFICANCE

Growing up, I spent about two thirds of the first 12 years of my life in a somewhat quiet coastal town called Port Dickson, then famous for it's pretty much undeveloped but still rather dirty stretch of beaches. It was so close to the sea that according to an old student the primary school that I had studied in was once under attack by a school of swordfish during high tide one day, long before they had reclaimed the land behind the school.

Over the past two weeks, my sister and I had discussed the options on going for short one day road trips locally because we have never had the opportunity to travel much in our own country, or anywhere else for that matter when younger (long story), and now with a gps unit at our disposal, getting lost will be a non-issue. Taking advantage of the extended weekend the public holiday in conjunction with Eid provided us, we decided to head over to Tanjung Tuan, a seaside point of interest near the place we once called home on Monday.


The journey: Clouds hovering low over the mountain range

It takes about an hour and a half of driving at reasonable speeds on a not so busy road through half of two states to reach the destination from where we started. We were in a small group of 4 half excited *'city kids' with backpacks and food for a picnic which we imagined having on a mat on white sands as the waves rolled in peacefully. Finally with the assistance of the gps lady (who now speaks with a so-called British accent - but I beg to differ), we reached the spot where everywhere you turned, you'd see the words "Tanjung Tuan" or "Cape Rachado" - it's original name. A little walk down a dirt road led us to a beach and slight disappointment as the whole area was swarming with other people who wanted a piece of white sanded beach and waves rolling. And they were terribly noisy as well. We walked along the shore (on grass no less, as the area had a very small sand area and some parts were actually walled) looking for a nice spot for our picnic. After crossing a precarious 'bridge' and walking for a few minutes, we finally found a spot secluded enough for our picnic as we gazed into the sea.

The Quickest Picnic in the Short History of The World

As we set our picnic mat and started preparing our sandwiches, my sister exclaimed that she had felt a drop of water. A glance at the sky proved that at some point, rain would be inevitable, but we somehow managed to convince ourselves that it wouldn't happen then. Barely two or three bites into the healthy pita sandwich (the number of bites actually depends on if you were the first or the last to prepare your sandwich) rain pelted down on us as we hurriedly packed our stuff into their bags and made a run for the nearest shade, where in the process we almost threw a carton of chips away and lost the wooden handle of my aunt's food bag. The shelter was full of people, but we managed to find some standing place there and burst out laughing at how ridiculous the whole situation was. Here we were, after driving over more than a hundred kilometres with a clear blue sky overhead, and within minutes we have dark clouds gather overhead and pour over us for a good half hour.


The Lighthouse Chronicles

Now, Cape Rachado is steeped in history. According to certain sources, the lighthouse that stands there was built somewhere in the 16th century after the Portuguese set foot in what was then known as Malacca and still remains to date with certain changes along the way, of course (definitely a few coats of paint over the years and a Measat radar of all things. It kills me that M had somehow disappeared and only "easat" can be seen revolving)

The lighthouse

People who had been standing up on the hill/lighthouse would have witnessed the Battle of Cape Rachado when it happened. To go up there, we had to enter what was once a gazetted reserve forest (degazetted since it was opened to public - well, you lose some and win some, I guess) The hike was pretty alright as the road was paved (but kind of steep, nevertheless) We saw some cars going up despite the fact that it was stated at the entrance that vehicles are not allowed in, but I suppose people are just like that... idiots at best, and since there were no enforcement people around they took advantage of the situation and drove up. It's their loss, though... they missed the opportunity to walk and admire the sounds and surroundings, especially on the way down as the sun had come out from behind the clouds at that point and we could witness the process of water evaporation right in front of our eyes!


The view from one of the windows of the lighthouse. 

Standing against the afternoon sun, it's rather new coat of paint gleaming white was the lighthouse. It wasn't as huge as I thought it would be (I kind of imagined lighthouses to be extremely tall buildings) As we were walking up the flight of stairs leading up to the lighthouse compound, a man (with his family) who were coming down told us that we could enter the lighthouse if we called the guy who was taking care of it and asked him if we could get in. After all it seems like such a waste to go all the way and not see the inside of a lighthouse. So after taking a walk around the lighthouse and admiring the beautiful green sea in that area (this part is probably - and hopefully - less polluted) we went back to the lighthouse to see if we could get the attention of the person in charge.

After a bit of drama (after all, paranoia runs in the family and we assured ourselves that we had long umbrellas as weapons if anything not so nice should happen) the gates finally opened and we were let in. A spiral stairway led us right up to the tower, but there was a bit of a step ladder to climb on to reach the very top, which for some reason we never climbed. Regretting it incredibly now. However, as we were walking up the spiral stairway quietly, it occured to me that I was actually ascending steps to a building that was full of history and I was immensely glad to have been there at that very moment. Getting out of the lighthouse compound was another drama altogether which I do not wish to recount at the moment. Another regret we had was not taking another hike down from the lighthouse to the beach below where apparently Hang Tuah stepped on, which of course was not mentioned on the information board there, they only had some information about migratory birds of prey that could be seen there around March. Hang Tuah is a very important person in the long and interesting history of Malacca.

According to my dad who visited the place over 50 years ago when he was a kid, they had to reach the lighthouse from the beach, wading during the low tide. So much more adventurous and interesting, I'd say - but a bit creepy too. If you got down during high tide, you'd have to wait till low tide or take a boat to the mainland.


Beachcombing

Besides paranoia, another thing that might run in some members of the family is the inability to swim. After lunch and an unfortunate need to find a place to pee (where the hell are the public facilities?????) we headed down to the Blue Lagoon beach, once famed for it's beauty as a beach. We were there during low tide, so there was a lot of beach area for beachcombing. The water was around ankle high and warm - the sun had pretty much gone behind the clouds again, but did not show any indication of rain. There were rocks, mud and according to one excited lady who ran holding a cup, a jellyfish which she showed to her daughter. There was also what looked very much like mangrove plants. The sand was brown in colour, but as you dug your toes in, it looked very grey. We, as a group probably creeped out a single clawed crab which hid under the sand as we tried to take it's video. I wonder how the poor thing lost it (the claw)in the first place... Overall, the beach was much nicer than the first one we went too, but was sadly littered with snack food plastic wrappers that would suddenly come and cling against your ankle and give you a slight shock. Nevertheless, despite the crowd and the noise, being at the beach was pretty calming on it's own.

Revisiting Old Spots

The trouble with visiting the old place you lived in with your parents means only one thing... You'd be obliged to go with them to all your relatives houses that you can visit in that one short visit, which sadly means that you will not be able to go and see whom or where you want to see. As this plan was a last minute, impromptu one, I had not been able to plan whom I could catch up with, but we did try to visit one of our old houses, which had pretty good childhood memories, and also our old primary school which looks completely different now before we embarked on our journey back home. We also passed by another old Chinese school which is now a row of shops, and my dad's old working place.

*We're not exactly dwellers of a big city like Kuala Lumpur, but live near enough to be on the receiving end of some of the influence and currently live in a fast paced competitive environment, besides, my sister and I started our life's journey in a small town which did not even have a single traffic light right until 1993. And despite all of us being legal adults, I had made use of the word kids because it sounds so much nicer than 'city adults'

Sunday, September 20, 2009

So, Like Who's Using all the Bandwith?

As we speak, a video slightly less than 5 minutes long has taken a mind boggling 10 minutes to buffer up to somewhere a little more than 1 minute of the video. What's really odd is that my connection boasts a whopping 7.3 Mbps, one of the best local speeds, presumably, and also one of the more costly ones, (Bloody one year contracts!!) and now it even seems so much more slower than my dial up connection of 56kbps which I had used faithfully until somewhere in 2006.

Of course today it is being slightly slower than usual, which is equally as odd because I happen to be using it while the rest of Malaysia is either probably dreaming about eating delicious food  tomorrow at the various open houses (in conjuction with Eid), or are probably at some happening club somewhere or travelling to their hometowns, etc. In fact, my Yahoo! Messenger list justifies that as there happens to be only 1 person online now on my list of 38 people and she lives far away in the heart of the United States of America. Well, the latest development shows that a fellow Malaysian happens to be online but that is besides the point.

So, it is now exactly 1 hour later, and it seems that the almost 5 minute clip has finally fully buffered.

PS: Eid Mubarak to all Muslim bloggers out there

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Introducing Granny Shield

No, we're not talking about your super-heroesque blogger friend's grandmother. I'm sure at her current age, she'll prefer to be left to her own devices - which usually consists of cooking scrumptious food or having long conversations with her children and/or grandchildren.

See, the thing is, I had spent the past few days doing what I can only presume to be what old(er) people do, that is going to sleep early. My parents for instance, both nearing their late fifties have the tendency to sleep by 10 or 11 pm and also tend to wake up at unearthly hours to do strange things like to mop the house. As for me, by early I mean I end up getting knocked off by 10 pm and end up having a deep, sound and undisturbed slumber which should leave me feeling refreshed by the time I need to get up at 6:30 am, but that is hardly the case. All I want is to just curl up like a snail and sleep even more. Probably the weather we've been having isn't helping much either.

I know that the last thing I should be doing is to complain about my need to sleep as I am usually a sufferer of some sort of self diagnosed insomnia. Evidence to this can be witnessed under the tag 'insomnia' at the sidebar under "Categories' if anyone's interested. In fact, I think I should just keep quiet and take this need to sleep as what I'd usually refer to as 'bayar hutang tidur' (paying back the loss of sleep) and start worrying only if it extends beyond this week...

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Elevated Madness


There comes a time in life where communication between friends dwindle to the once a year wishes of Happy Birthday, or one of those festive greetings via text message. About half of my friends over the ages have fallen into that category, and as terrible as it sounds, we all live with it and are somehow comfortable enough to think that it is sufficient in maintaining what was once known as friendship.

So, it was incredibly surprising for me to receive a text message from one of those friends yesterday... the last I heard from her was when she changed her number somewhere earlier this year. She told me that she had been accepted to continue with her postgrad (in Safety, Health and Environment) in UTM, the place where we did our degree, suffering in the process by having to climb to the second highest point in campus (the highest point was of course the place known as Balai Cerap - an observatory of sorts which also served as a place people used to go jogging/dating/break rules, etc - we believe we got the second highest point due to the nature of our course and the chances of explosions occurring in our lab. In fact there was one explosion this one time which shook the whole building once, but no one died) and having equally mad lecturers to boot.

And of course she had to mention the lecturers she met again after all these years including the idiosyncratic fabulous four, which made me smile to myself at the thought of how we once concluded way back then that the smarter they (the lecturers) were, the crazier they would be, one of whom was our Academic Adviser (literally translated from Penasihat Akademik) who used to wear trousers that skimmed just slightly above his ankles (with light coloured socks ala Michael Jackson) He'd come to exams with a bag of nuts which he'd be eating from while we feverishly attempted to solve problems of mass and energy that would simply not balance (the subject was known as Mass & Energy Balance, unfortunately) He also once asked some of us if we wanted 'pampers' which was on one of his shelves when we went to get him to sign our 'insert-delete' forms during registration. Why he did that is anyone's guess... Another one of the fabulous four (this one taught us Process Control - something which I use on a daily basis at work now) used to laugh maniacally while standing behind us whenever we had tests in class. It was the most unnerving thing ever. No doubt though there was never a dull moment in class.

I totally admire my friend's guts for doing her postgrad with these people...

Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Colour Of Disappointment

It hits you in waves. Sort of.

I hardly realised how much the knowledge that the long anticipated adventure laden vacation in Cambodia being unceremoniously cancelled due to a series of unfortunate events would effect me until somewhere last week when a reply to the group e-mail reached me and confirmed my greatest fears. Of course I saw this coming earlier, but when things are not in print you kind of have the tendency to ignore the inevitable and hope for the best, because deep down inside you feel that there is a still an iota of hope.

The thing is, this Cambodia plan had been in the works since 2007 until we decided to take the proverbial bull by it's horns to make it happen this year. The planning was long, involved tonnes of e-mails and lots of research but we managed to squeeze in everything every one of us wanted to see in the 6 day itinerary including a brief visit to Tonle Sap lake, a place we learned about in geography in school! And somehow as planning went underway, H1N1 came into the picture and we postponed the buying of the tickets. Now I'd like to think that by doing that we had ultimately made the trip far beyond our reach, and is to be solely blamed for it being cancelled now, but I know it isn't so. Even if we had bought the flight tickets, not having one of the members as originally planned would not be as fun (especially since she was the one who started the ball rolling and suggested November, hardly thinking that for some reason, someone else would have a more valid reason to take leave in November instead of her)... because part of this vacation is to spend time with friends and not merely walking under the hot sun with hats and backpacks looking at interesting stuff while your disinterested guide spews out random information (all rehearsed, of course) about what you're seeing.

To think that the one major thing that kept you going about your everyday life knowing that you will have an excellent November was taken away from you so suddenly, like someone pulling a rug from beneath your feet (if you have the habit of standing on rugs, that is) A major disappointment indeed!

As if living with that knowledge is not enough, there's also the sudden terrible news (in the same week, which makes things much worse) of the non-existence of the annual plant shutdown in the brief history of my (almost) five years working there. Now, I've always used this plant shutdown to also temporarily shutdown the part of my brain that remembers machine parameters and product specs and problems because that is the one time where no one will call you to ask anything work related because no one will be working (which is a totally different scenario from normal vacations where you are requested to keep your phone on at all times to answer questions which only you know the answers to) and it is something all of us at work look forward to because it is a chance to rejuvenate and when you return after a week away, you're always so much more enthusiastic and productive.

So there you have it, two major disappointments in a week, not to mention a couple of other not so major ones which I have chosen not to dwell on because it will not be of any help and will only serve to lengthen this already long post.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

#'s

Yeah, I know it's cheating of some sort because this is a scheduled post, but I did want to document the passing of the moment 09/09/09 at 09:09.

Because you'll never get it again in this lifetime unless you can find the Philosopher's Stone and live until 3009.

;)

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Noisy Silence

It was a little after 7pm when I noticed that the office had become awfully quite, where mere minutes had passed since Jeremy walked out of the office door. In the silence that followed, the light on the walkie-talkie that was standing still at the corner of my table flashed red and a sound popped out. I started, knowing very well that there was no one else around.. so who had made the sound? I was pretty sure it wasn't any of the guys at work because the sound was rather soft, and high pitched at the same time, and as far as I knew they had all gone back to break fast for Ramadan with their respective families. This I ascertained when I saw the almost deserted carpark (and working where I do, I know which car belongs to whom, and none of the cars left were walkie-talkie owners) And it couldn't have been static either... that has a different sound. I was too unnerved to stay on further, all plans to work late flung out of the window. I knew it would only be moments before stuff would be moving noisily across the floor of the utility room right above the office, and I sure as hell did not want to be there when that happened.

Monday, September 07, 2009

The Superhero and Some Feel Good Animation

For some reason, some types of news keep popping up everywhere that you just can't ignore it although deep down inside you know that it probably will not have any effect on your life as you know it. This time around, the news is about Disney buying over Marvel. Yes, undoubtedly the news is shocking, and sounds terribly preposterous the first time you hear it. But hey, lets face it, buying over happens, changes occur and within a few months, we will not even remember that a certain thing/place was bought over or not.

Now, I'm not so much against the fact that Disney is buying over Marvel, and I shall admit that it is probably a biased viewpoint on my part because I was never one of those kids who saved her pocket money every week to buy the latest edition of superhero comics from the local newstand, but what puzzles me completely is the reaction I happen to see over the news. It seems like the fans of Marvel Comics have developed this insanely wild imagination that Disney will Disney-fy their favourite Superheroes. Take today's newspaper for instance... the story was accompanied by a picture of Ariel (from the Little Mermaid) sitting very comfortably on the arms of Silversurfer. What the hell?

Sunday, September 06, 2009

You Only Miss Things When They're Gone

Note: I'm sorry, I didn't realise this earlier (in my defense, this post was posted at almost 1 am) but there may be spoilers ahead. And the title of the movie (especially if you don't like to see the picture attached is called Children of Men)


It could have been Clive Owen's soulful eyes staring out of the DVD cover, or maybe the title of the movie, or even the description that sounded futuristic enough for me to pick it up. I don't know, but pick it up I sure did.

It all begins with the curious scene of people all over the world crying over the death of Diego, apparently the youngest human being then. I have a bone to pick with the depiction of people in Kuala Lumpur in the movie's news report... we do NOT go around in black burqas, trust me... I live near enough. Clive Owen (or Theo as we will find out slightly later) walks out of a cafe, and there's a bomb blast. The coffee in his take away coffee cup spills on the sidewalk as the smoke and noise wakes you up from your reverie as you admire the beauty that he brings on screen and you begin to take notice.

As the movie progresses, you are greeted with some confusion as the scenes unfold, revealing certain things but leaving a lot to your imagination, or perhaps your ability to read between the lines, or in this case, to see between the scenes. Strewn throughout the movie were dozens of F-bombs, which added much character to the movie which had a gloomy, sunshine-less atmosphere seeing the condition of people at that time, which when you look at it, doesn't seem to be too far away into the future... only about 20 odd years away, give or take.

To summarise the plot in a nutshell, the movie depicts a rather sad state for humans as there had not been any births of babies for the past 18 years for the plain and simple reason that the people were just infertile (I wouldn't be surprised, seeing the crap they put in food these days - melamine, anyone?) The human race seems to be dying. It looks as though the future is bleak. So the people got depressed, and even more depressed when the youngest kid around died. Imagine how the dodos must have felt.

A subplot (which then merges into the main plot for some reason) which I never really got was the bad treatment of refugees/illegal immigrants in Britain. My questions are, why were they running from their own countries? And why on earth were they going to Britain? No offense to Britain, but that part certainly baffled me for a bit. Oh well, actually I'm still pretty much baffled. I may need to read the book sometime soon to understand better, I suppose. Anyway, among these many illegal immigrants is a woman from Africa who (surprise, surprise) is pregnant, and it's up to Theo to take her under his wing (trench coat and flip flops, actually) to safety as he is the only one she trusts, after Julian/Julianne? (his ex wife who is part of this group called Fishes who take illegal immigrants to safety??) dies a bloody death in an awesome car chase scene with violence perpetrators and the police (This one's a bloody good scene, apart from the initial bomb blast)

A character I ought to mention is the lovable Jasper who lives in the woods and provides temporary shelter to Theo, Kee (the illegal immigrant... funny thing really, because other than her slightly accented English - not very British with a slight African accent, her mannerisms are very British, like the usage of the word "wicked!", and if I'm not mistaken, something that sounds pretty much like "wotcher" ) and Miriam (the midwife who accompanies Kee) He sadly doesn't meet a very good end. The movie progresses with Theo and Kee running to safety according to a plan which had been set Julian/Julianne, but as all movies go, they face incredible challenges along the way with double-crossers hurled their way and also a couple of nice people who help them (one of them practically bludgeons the previosuly mentioned double-crosser as I looked on in horror) The baby gets born safely (looks pretty much CGI, unfortunately but Kee's also a lovable character who wants to name her baby Bazooka), and there's a lot of action going on... marches in the refugee camp, bomb blasts, people shooting at each other (authorities vs the public/refugees)... and after escaping all that they arrive to the place where Kee will get to be safe after being picked up by a boat in the foggy ocean.

I thought the movie was pretty decent (despite the CGI like baby and the confusion about the refugees) because the cinematography was awesome, and I thought the soundtrack was pretty cool as well... One kinda creepy thing I noticed was the mention of a flu pandemic in 2008 (the movie was made in 2006 and released in 2007), and here we are in 2009 with a killer flu running loose in certain areas... life pretending to imitate art?

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Flick Of The Wrist

It's a wee bit past midnight and sleep seems a little hard to come by as the mind races through thoughts like those 4 x 400 metres relay racers passing the baton as they finish their turn. So here I am, trying to dispel those thoughts through the safest medium I know, blogging... Unfortunately, as much as I'd like to, putting those thoughts to words and sentences that make sense seem to be getting tougher for no apparent reason, although when I was attempting to sleep awhile ago, they seemed so eloquently put that I was forced to get up and put them here.

After three attempts at putting those thoughts and stuff to words (which involved typing, reading, re-reading and deleting), I sit here, slightly pissed off and with nothing to make into a post I would gladly post. Maybe I'm just losing my blogging mojo. Sigh...

I have now given up and so please excuse me while I go and listen to some happy songs...

Note: Title of the post is also the title of a song by Queen - no connection with anything whatsoever.