Monday, December 27, 2010

*IT'S THE END OF THE YEAR AS WE KNOW IT

And I feel fine...

Yeah, 2010 - good bye.

I'm doing my annual review of the year a tad bit earlier this year, what with this platform being more of a pressurising chore instead of a hobby that was once well loved. Maybe a few days break of not having that nagging feeling to post a post might help me in this front. We'll see in the next year.

If I were to describe 2010 in one word, I'd use the word INCONSEQUENTIAL, because, really - it didn't seem to have any significance at all. It was there, always in the background challenging you to keep up with it. Sometimes you ran to catch up, and sometimes you just threw your hands in the air and went and slept. It was that kind of year.

Stuff That Made 2010 (Things that happened, stuff I learned, stuff I did, etc)

1. This was the year of vacations, with friends and family, overseas and local. While the vacation itself was good, coming back and facing the realities of life was tough.
2. Made a total of four (4!) new friends this year, and 3 of them were students who did their internship in my workplace, and one is a colleague. Says alot, doesn't it?
3. Did a lot of reading this year... I tried compiling a list, but I seem to have misplaced it.

5. The migraines which reduced in frequency the past few years have come back to haunt me once again
6. Found out that the Dettol Antiseptic Hand Wash actually prevents you from falling sick. I've not had the flu since I started keeping one in my office
7. I have a doppelganger. She seems to like most of the things I like - books, observing people, finding a quiet place to eat and read during lunch, thinks that a lot of people around us are idiots, have strange encounters, etc. She even looks like me from the back. Creepy!
8. I actually watched more movies than I usually do. I also realised that I hate romantic comedies, love animated stuff, and have surprisingly enjoyed anime more than I thought I would. Could I say it was a good year for movies? No, I can't.
9. Family members like my potato salad <3
10. Some things are really, really difficult to move out from your system. I could give examples, but I choose not to.
11. Climbed two hills in preparation for hiking the tallest mountain in Malaysia, but it unfortunately stopped there. Frequency in going to the gym also reduced due to the increased frequency in headaches/migraine.
12. I have been a lousy friend to some people.

Yeah, so that was 2010 in a nutshell. I didn't like the year that much - and I'd only give it a 4 out of 10 for awesomeness. I'm actually looking forward to a fresh new start come 2011, and I think that it's probably time to look for other fresh starts as well, especially concerning item #4.

* A spin on the song by R.E.M  - It's the end of the world as we know it (and I feel fine)

Monday, December 20, 2010

A to Z

The afternoon was scattered with thunder and lightning and rain - not too heavy, but continuous. Our very trusty weather forecaster, the local satellite TV extraordinaire dotted it's screens with messages of service not available (although I'm sure most Malaysians who subscribe to said satellite TV provider will agree that they should also state that the reason why service is not available is due to the rain) I also switched off the modem, because well, I really couldn't handle another drama fraught incident with my internet provider in case the modem got fried.

Therefore, with the afternoon off, and the usual form of entertainment while at home (the internet) being unavailable, I tackled the last bit of organizing my music in an orderly fashion - alphabetically ordered folders, and in cases where there were more than 3 songs for a particular artist, they get their own folder too! I must say it was a task that was strangely calming, and the mild (but annoying!) headache that was bugging me since Friday night suddenly decided to disappear. Who'd have thought that loud music could send a headache packing!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

THE 3D MOVIE QUEST

Over a year ago, comic fans all over the world were furious to discover that Disney was buying over Marvel Comics and reacted in a somewhat extreme manner (or so I thought), which I found utterly confusing until a friend explained the reason behind the Marvel Comics fans reactions. Original post here  - and if you were as confused as I was over the reaction of comic fans, pay attention to the explanation in the comments by Cyberfish. 

I found myself with perhaps about 10 other people in a cold and darkened room while pursuing my 3D movie quest before the year closes yesterday evening. I had a choice between the latest Narnia movie, Tangled, and Tron, but decided to pick Tangled as it had less risk of being over crowded (which was true as there were only about 10 to 12 people there - awesome, I tell you)

First of all, I did dig the 3D effects, although I believe I would have looked like a moron in those 3D glasses, and seriously doubted their cleanliness. I did wipe them with my jacket before using them though. There were certain things I wanted to just grab, because they seemed to be within reach, and thankfully I didn't flinch or move too much, except for the part where I folded my foot under me as it was too cold. I should remember to use shoes instead of flip-flops the next time I go and watch movies. And maybe a beanie and gloves as well. He he...

As for the movie, I found it enjoyable enough as I'm not a fairy tale purist. But that also could be because I've not read the original version either but pretty much recall another televised version which involved a woman craving for horse radishes! The movie was fun and funny, introduced an unexpected weapon, and for someone who's not been allowed out of the tower, all her life Rapunzel seems to have perfectly mastered the art of people skills and could give professional horse whisperers a run for their money any given day.  Throw in an adorable chameleon, an overzealous horse  bent on revenging a vain (and rightly so) thief, and a bunch of big, scary looking men with dreams, and you get the formula that makes you shake with laughter.

I didn't care much for the soundtrack though, especially when you compare the songs from this movie to older Disney stuff like The Little Mermaid (I read the original version of this story and felt so miserable!) which had "Under the Sea" which I loved, or even the soundtrack from The Jungle Book, The Lion King, Alladin and Beauty and The Beast.

And now I think I've got a crush on Flynn Rider!

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

WHERE OLD THINGS END AND NEW THINGS BEGIN

While replying to an e-mail thread to the last few *surviving old friends I have this evening, I came up with the conclusion that December doesn't really exist in the working world. In fact, it's the month which we use to prepare for the next year - drafting KPIs and whatnots and in some cases, to complete stuff that ends the year - accounts, for instance.

Towards the end of last month, I before the "December does not exist" epiphany hit me, I was forced to admit that I might need a list to get some stuff done before the year ends. I do it at work, so I didn't see why I couldn't use a list to get personal things done as well. That particular night, I wanted to call it my **year end resolutions and post it up on Facebook, for two very clear reasons - it's the end of the year as we know it, and if  I don't do the items I listed, I can kick myself as we usher in the new year, but then I procrastinated (nothing new there), and the next thing I know, I have two pending tags there, one of which I had cleverly put up here instead of there. In my defence, I need to edit the format, hence the delay!

Anyway, (drum rolls, please) here is the list in no particular order

1. Watch a movie in 3D 
Surprise, surprise... I have never watched a movie in 3D before. So yeah, any movie will do. 

2. Read up AND comprehend the Constitution of Malaysia
Well, I'm honestly fed up of the argument regarding article 153 among the race-centric people of the country, so despite the intimidating legal language style, I attempted reading the introduction pages of the version from 1964 - wish me luck!

Edit (10/12): So apparently the book which I'm reading, although misleadingly titled "The Constitution of Malaysia" is apparently only an attempt to explain the constitution to laypeople, and does not list out all the articles in it's true form. Bangs head on desk.

3. Watch Harry Potter
Done. Yay. To top it off, I spent the past two days reading the seventh book again. The chapter titled 19 Years Later is still somewhat cringe-worthy.

4. Complete organising my music alphabetically.
I began this insane task earlier this year and have most of it compiled neatly by artist, alphabetically. Well, it was better than naming the folders "Music", "Music 1", "New Music", and "Neww Music", right?  There are about two or three new folders that need sorting, but the last bit seems to be the hardest!

5.Rescue mission of Bali holiday pictures from penti3
Bali was my first ever holiday, and at that time I was still using the old pentium 3 (lovingly known as penti3) which runs on the most unstable Windows Millenium, and for some strange reason, I never bothered to copy the photos into a CD or a thumbdrive for leisurely viewing in later years.

6. Complete write up on North Sumatera trip, and the 2nd and 3rd day of Taiping (from July)

So, that's it... a reasonable list that has items within my reach - we'll see how it goes :)

* Well, they are still alive by the looks of it, but lack of communication makes it seem as though they have dropped off the face of the planet into strange islands that have names like Motherhood, The Wife, or Missing In Action.

** Not to be mistaken with the far more popular New Year Resolutions or even UN Resolutions

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

THE PRESUMABLY MISERLY TOOTH FAIRY

Third time's a charm? Probably not...

I spent Sunday night worrying endlessly about a relatively simple procedure that involves the removal of a wayward wisdom tooth which was scheduled for Monday afternoon. I had taken the afternoon off, and spent most of the morning trying my best to cram up as much work as I possibly could. However, something was nagging me to call and reconfirm my appointment with the dentist, which I finally did about 11-ish.
A soft voice greets me across the phone, and she says, "Sorry, but the dentist is on emergency leave today. Can you come on Wednesday?" 

Seriously? Emergency leave?

Noting that this is the third time an attempt to remove the wisdom tooth has failed, I'm beginning to think that the Universe is dead set against me removing my wisdom tooth. Why is it so, I can't explain, but seriously, once or twice is acceptable, but the third time? I'm not sure if I want to go ahead and remove it anymore...

Sunday, December 05, 2010

HARRY POTTER AND HOW IT BEGINS TO END

A word of unsolicited advice: If you want to watch a movie based on a book, never ever read the book right before going to the movie.

The sister and I decided to spend the morning watching the latest Harry Potter movie, based on the seventh and final book in the series. I usually have an aversion towards movies made from books, especially if I had had my hands on the books first. A total opposite when compared to my view on movies based on books if I had watched the movie first instead. The day started strangely enough, while we were in the line buying our tickets (sadly, e-ticketing is a bit of a pain in the ass for both the sister and I) One of the staff was surveying the line and asked if I was of a certain ethnicity, to which I said yes. He asked me to fill up a customer satisfaction form, and in return, I got a complimentary pass to the movie I wanted to watch! Not bad, eh?

PLOT SPOILERS AHEAD!!!

As the books suggest, the plot gets darker as we head towards the end of it all. With Dumbledore's death at the end of the sixth book/movie, Harry is left on his own to find and destroy what is left of the horcruxes - fragments of Voldermort's soul, an arduous task in which Ron and Hermione have pledged to help him with. The Ministry has been taken over by Voldermort's supporters, and everything seems hopeless as they are adamant in looking for Harry so that Voldermort can destroy him, while having their own form of ethnic cleansing (collecting and torturing witches and wizards who were muggle born) 

Although the movie could not explain all of the back story to the viewer compared to the book (such as what was actually written by Elphias Doge, or Rita Skeeter's interview), I thought the movie had a good flow. It's been at least three years since I read the book, and as the movie unfolded, I could recall certain items. I thought the effects were good, had a few good shocks in certain scenes, and sort of noted that the Dobby in this movie certainly looked much better than when Dobby was first introduced in the second movie. I also found the scene that explains the story of the Deathly Hallows equally fascinating. I had actually forgotten what the Deathly Hallows were! Despite the hopelessness of the situation (the scenes were actually very wintry in nature - with snow and ice - signs of depression??), there were somewhat lighter moments as well, especially in the beginning. Overall, for the first time, I honestly felt that I did enjoy the movie.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

A DOZEN + THREE AUTHORS

A few days ago, I received a surprise tag from an old friend on facebook - surprise because I thought tagging on Notes ended when 2009 drew it's last curtain. However, I decided to take on the task of doing the tag, but with a little bit of Secret Agent Woman twist... modified rules!

The original Rules are as follows:
The Rules - Don't take too long to think about it. Fifteen authors, poets included, who've influenced you and will always stick with you. List the first fifteen you can recall in no more than fifteen minutes. Tag a few friends, including me, because I am interested in seeing what authors you choose. To do so, go to your Notes tab on your profile page, paste rules in a new note, cast your fifteen picks, and tag people in the note.

I ended up taking a little more than 15 minutes to come up with the list, because I thought I'd explain how each author played a role in my life and how they influenced me and such.

1. Enid Blyton
2. Carolyn Keene 
3. Franklin W Dixon

Enid Blyton's Famous Five and Secret Seven series, Carolyn Keene and Franklin W Dixon's Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys series were my main reading materials when I was aged between nine to twelve. I envied the kids in Blyton's books because they were able to go out, have secret societies and awesome hideouts to boot and solved crimes while I was stuck at home, living their adventures behind thick glasses! I also loved how Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys solved crimes in their local areas. I might have also had a crush on the younger Hardy boy! The best thing is, reading these books were the inspiration behind an adventure story I wrote at the age of 11 for the Commonwealth Essay competition. Memories...

4. LM Montgomery
5. Alfred Hitchcock
6. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
7. Christopher Pike

Aged 13: LM Montgomery wrote one of the best series of books a girl could ever read. I laughed and cried with Anne, the principal character of the book, and for some strange reason wanted to be her. Anne did a fair bit of writing in the books, and I was inspired by her - I crowded my essays with big words because she did so too.  Having finished the Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys series, I graduated to the Three Investigators written by Alfred Hitchcock. Crimes rock. I suppose the single biggest influence in my interest in crime solving was contributed by Sherlock Holmes written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. I quit reading fiction at the age of 15 right up till 17, but I occasionally secretly read books borrowed from friends - at that time they were all reading Christopher Pike and RL Stine... so that was what I read.

Age: 18 till now
8. Harper Lee - To Kill a Mockingbird was the single most favourite book of mine, which I read without fail at least once a year. (Haven't done my 2010 round yet, though) It's my wish to write something like that.

9. JK Rowling  - I had the first three Harry Potter books thrown on my lap. "You must read this", said the sister. I refused at first because every newspaper, every young person out there were talking about Harry potter. I refused to be sucked into the madness. I relented, though and never looked back. Although I'm a bit disillusioned by the way HP is used to make money - games, movies, and promotions when the books were released, I'm inspired by JK Rowling's rise to success, from a 'struggling to make ends meet' kind of person, to someone who almost single handedly made young people read again!

10. JD Salinger - The Catcher in the Rye. Enough said. I loved Holden Caulfield so much that I wanted to meet the grown up version of him!

11. Michael Crichton - I've enjoyed almost every book of his, turning pages feverishly and skipping sleep as I had to know what was going on and how things will end. What I enjoy most about Crichton is the fact that his books are so believable. 
 
12. Sue Townsend - One of the funniest writers ever. I first met Adrian Mole while huddled at a desk in school with an old friend as we giggled like how twelve year old girls would at Adrian's tragic life. It was only a few pages, but I hunted Adrian down and read the whole series long after the giggling stopped. Adrian's diary entries inspired me to start blogging.

13. Bill Bryson - I started off with A Short History of Nearly Everything and enjoyed it so much. He writes in such a way that I think he could even make paint drying sound interesting. He's also travelled a lot and his journeys are documented in a few other books, which while highly entertaining, has made me doubt my own capabilities of jotting down my travels! 

14. Neil Gaiman
15. Terry Pratchett
I discovered both Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett after a brief conversation with a friend who recommended that I read Good Omens. Till today, Good Omens is one of my favorite books. From there, I branched out to Neil Gaiman first (his books were more easily obtainable) and loved his dark and mysterious brand of horror. I wish I had his genius in cooking up such wonderful plots. As for Terry Pratchett, which I found a little later, his writing style sure beats everything else. He's funny (and it's very natural) and I absolutely love how he uses asterisks to describe stuff. In fact, I have adopted the asterisk to explain stuff on the blog at times.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

WHERE TECHNOLOGY OBLITERATES COMPASSION

When you add an 'e' as a prefix to a word, it automatically moves up the ladder of 'high-techness'. Take e-mails for instance, where we bid adieu to stamps, long lines, and late deliveries as well as properly constructed sentences in the process.

The other day, my workplace announced that we'll be embracing a new technology known as the e-leave application which will be replacing our old tried and tested, environmentally detrimental and often misused green leave cards as we welcome 2011, and wanted to run a company-wide trial run to iron out any issues beforehand. I think the idea is an excellent one, after all, technology should be embraced, but only to the extent of how much it allows you to embrace it (People who know me well enough know that technology and I have some unresolved issues. My laptop is electrocuting me as we speak)

However, the way I see it, this new method to apply leave has a few downsides to it, especially to those people who work in the departments where work never ends at 5:30 pm. You see, most of us employ the look and see method of taking leave, which involves snatching free time in between projects and the general messiness that is the manufacturing field, or taking a half day off after settling some unfinished business. Naturally knowing how our schedules are, the boss overlooks the (then unwritten) rule of the need to apply leave three days before, and in return, we do not grumble too much if the said leave is interrupted with phone calls, or a sudden request to "please come to work - you can replace your leave tomorrow". This is applicable because a lot of us actually do take days off to just rest at home. With the new application, the system rejects any leave applied less than three days before, and with it goes any compassion the boss had for us, because you can't beat the system.

Sigh. Technology has certainly obliterated compassion :(

SEXISM AND THE MP3 PLAYER

I gave iTunes on my laptop the liberty to surprise me with it's choice of a playlist, a feature I never knew it had, which it did with as much enthusiasm as a computer application is apt to. The result was pleasantly surprising, as it seems to have picked up songs which I might have picked myself, had I been dilligent enough. I must admit though, that it's enthusiasm in including a large number of Queen,  R.E.M, Oasis and Thin Lizzy songs was as surprising as the fact that it had decided to (almost) completely ignore the female artists in my music folder!

On another note, I watched the movie 500 Days of Summer over the weekend and fell in love all over again with Regina Spektor's music... here's one of her songs which was used in the movie.



PS: Please excuse the rather lame topics chosen and passed off as blog posts... the mojo has turned rusty due to lack of use!