Tuesday, November 30, 2010

CARTWHEELS AND COFFEE

Or coffee and cartwheels, chronologically. I probably had an overly strong dose of black coffee this morning, and with that, (surprisingly) an unexplainable amount of excess nervous energy which I tried using up by tapping my feet and walking around the factory, all the while imagining myself doing cartwheels, despite the fact that I have never ever pulled off anything even remotely close to cartwheels in my entire life! This went on the whole day that at about 6:15pm I decided that enough is enough and I should head back and then go to the gym. I ended up on the treadmill in the house instead accompanied by an extremely sexist playlist on my iPod.

Freshly showered, as I sit here typing this, I feel the energy coming back. I have a presentiment that I'm gonna suffer on the morrow. Oh well!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Where the Wisdom Tooth Rears it's Ugly Head

Again.

You learn new stuff every day. Today's lesson is, do not procrastinate, even if the reason for your procrastination is the fact that the receptionist called to cancel your appointment with the dental surgeon at the last minute. That was more than a year ago.

The past two weeks saw a strange kind of pain in my right lower jaw, and because my not so big mouth was fully of healthy giant teeth (Take A from mommy, and B from daddy and voila, here's the result - even if part A and B don't necessarily match) I couldn't see what was going on at the back of my mouth. I knew I bit into something hard just before the pain started and dad reckoned I had cracked my tooth!

I went to the dentist earlier today, and this time the dentist explained what was going on in my mouth. Apparently, I DO have very big teeth (all the better to eat you with!!) and a not so big jaw, which led to the wisdom tooth being impacted in such a way it had decided to drill a hole in a formerly healthy molar which was the cause of the pain. As this post is being typed, the damaged tooth has been filled with some stuff, the pain is barely there, and there's going to be a surgery in the first week of December. It's going to be bloody. That much I can say.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Polyethylene and The Shopaholic

Mr. McGuire: I want to say one word to you. Just one word.
Benjamin: Yes, sir.
Mr. McGuire: Are you listening?
Benjamin: Yes, I am.
Mr. McGuire: Plastics.
Benjamin: Just how do you mean that, sir?
 

The above is one of the many memorable quotes from The Graduate (1967), where plastic was probably the field which promised a promising future, allowing fresh graduates to build castles on orange clouds with dollar bills. 

Fast forward to 2010, plastics have been relegated to the status of the evil invention that could possibly spell the end of humans on planet earth for the same reason their existence was celebrated not too long ago - their ability to stay in their form without rotting. For this very reason, the state government of the state I live in started introducing the 'No Plastic Bag Day' campaign since January this year. Every Saturday, shoppers were deprived of their usual plastic bags (degradable or otherwise) and were encouraged to use other means, either in the form of environmentally friendly hemp bags, knapsacks, or their own recycled plastic bags. If they insisted on a plastic bag, it would be charged at 20 sen a piece (approx 6 US cents)

The other day, an online newspaper (which I only read because they have reader feedback that serves as the immediate countermeasure to insurmountable boredom) ran an article claiming that the lack of free plastic bags on Saturdays may have effect on how the people in the state will vote in the future general elections. (In the previous GE in 2008, some of the people collectively voted for an alternative government, which led to their win in the state) Naturally, like some of the comments that accompanied the article, I too think that the reporter is being a bit extreme in concluding that the plastic bags are going to make or break the chances of the current government to stay in power, but I shall refrain from saying anything about the article itself. For now.


While the article seems to be centred around whiny and selfish people who probably resent change for any given reason, we cannot deny that the plan certainly has some flaws that were probably overlooked before or during the initial stages of implementation. The thing is, even before this article, and another really superficial one (written by the newspaper's managing editor!!) were published, my sister and I had discussed this issue at length over the span of a few months, especially when we shopped for groceries on Saturdays and found ourselves stuffing groceries into the gym bag or carting them in the shopping cart to the car - seriously, unloading individual items take so much more time than if they were bagged. 

I do sometimes groan inwardly at the inconvenience, but I've accepted that we can actually do shopping without the necessity of having the groceries bagged. After all, unless the items are fragile (think eggs), them doing some disco in the boot generally does not cause any severe damage.  The sister thinks that the burden of removing the free plastic bags should not be the sole responsibility of the shopper, but instead should fall onto the shopping malls themselves as they do save quite a bit on plastic bags when it's not given. What we need is an alternative packaging, perhaps paper bags (like those in the movies). At one time, once of the shops actually provided old cartons for people to arrange their shopping, but for reasons unknown, (carton hogs, maybe) - it seems to have been discontinued.

What I noticed though, is that this "No Plastic Bag Day" has not actually educated the people about reducing and reusing the plastic bags, even the cashiers at the shops. Take this case, for instance... on the way back from the gym on a Sunday, I decide to get some lipbalm from the pharmacy. The lipbalm can actually fit into my jeans back pocket, or if I'm not into stuffing my pockets, I can even hold it in my hands or chuck it into my gym bag. However, the cashier, without even thinking twice, will pull a small plastic bag to pack my stuff, unless I tell her or him that I don't need one.

Note: I'm not referring to anyone as a shopaholic... I just thought it adds a nice ring to the title!

Sunday, November 07, 2010

RING OF FIRE

I was around twelve years old when I realised how insanely close the country I live in, Malaysia, has managed to escape the violence displayed by the Pacific Ring of Fire that plagues a few of our neighbouring countries in a lesson known as Alam & Manusia (Nature and (hu)Man, if you will). The picture here includes Malaysia in the ring for some strange reason - but that is not the case... there are no volcanoes to speak of and earthquakes are mostly aftershocks from the nearby earthquakes.

Merapi in July
Volcanoes have always fascinated me despite their destructive nature and the depressing stories of people having to be evacuated, and so on.. A few years ago, I saw the my very first volcano *up close in the island of Bali. And then in July this year, I saw another two volcanoes in the island of Java, Merapi and Merbabu, and also a documentary of an erupting Merapi in all it's volcanic fury. Merbabu on the other hand is a dormant volcano. Merapi, at that point was standing there, quietly amongst the clouds without any indication whatsoever about the activities that was silently (at that time, probably) going on in it's magma chambers. 

Three months later, Merapi erupts. And I was in Indonesia at that time (albeit in a different island), and while watching the news, I could not help be in awe over the local people's matter of fact way of handling the issue. I suppose they're just very used to things like these, but still... and yet, I could not help but be saddened by the fact that the volcano had indeed erupted, disrupting the lives of the people, who will most probably have to rebuild everything from scratch, and that only three months before, I had stood there at the bservation area facing the volcano, listening about the eruption just four years ago.

It does make me wonder if you do leave a bit of yourself in the places you've visited before, thus leaving an intangible and incomprehensible relationship with the place....

* from a safe distance from neighbouring mountains/hills ;)

Saturday, November 06, 2010

EAT, SLEEP AND BE MERRY

At least we eat, and sleep - the being merry part is always subjective to what actually being merry consists of. This my friends, is what a festival is to this particular person who types this as she hides behind her online presence of a 1280 x 800 pixels screen.

5th November marked another day on the calender, and for a certain group of people, it marked a festival known as Deepavali or Diwali (depending on where you originated from, I guess) literally translated to be the festival of lights. It is supposed to be the day where some people rejoiced the victory of good over evil (and quoting myself from a similar post from 2008 - "though seeing the world as it is today, I think the good never won at all. They were just in denial over their losing the battle and the evil forces for once left it at that and chose to remain silent. " that's my opinion on the so called good over evil)

Original post here:

I suppose it is the absence of something interesting to do that makes festivals so dreary... yes, you anticipate it by preparing things people usually prepare for festivals, such as cleaning out the cupboards, rearranging books, allowing the aroma of freshly baked cookies to waft around the house and other such festive related things. But when the day finally arrives, you're just glad that it's yet another public holiday for you to take a break in, eat, and sleep, and if you're up to it - be merry.

PS: I must try to make it more interesting next year. Seriously.