Thursday, January 26, 2012

On Being Anonymous

I have this weird obsession of being anonymous on the blog. 



No doubt that I have made some friends here who went on to being friends with me on a certain social networking site, but I was never opposed to making new friends. See, from the very beginning stages of the blog, I had a deep seated fear of having someone I know stumble upon the blog, and say to herself/himself - "Hey, I think I know this person" and share it with all their other friends because that's what I'd do if I were in their place. I suppose my stance on this is if you know me personally, I'd prefer knowing that you know of my blogs existence than you accidentally finding it. But then again, freely giving away the link to everyone I once knew is not an option either - *say if I wanted to write about an experience and mentioned friend C in the post, friend K might start whining - "why don't you ever blog about me?"

Being anonymous is not easy, though. Back in 2009, a new friend whom I'd met while on a really short holiday in Sarawak (we knew one person in common back then) found my blog (I told her about it, I think and was planning to send her the link after I had blogged about our holiday but she beat me to it) I secretly dubbed her the search engine queen, which will not be a secret anymore if she reads this post ;) 

Most recently, blogger decided to invite me (and a whole lot of other bloggers - anonymous or otherwise) to shed their anonymity by connecting to Google+, seeing that I do have to log on to Google if I want to post a blog post or comment, I don't think it's such a bad idea. My only problem is, my Google+ account actually carries my full name, and apparently I cannot use my superhero personality as my blog handle anymore if I ever choose to do so. The horrors! So, as long as they allow me to use both identities - superhero for the blog, and my real name for the e-mail part of it all I'm fine. In the meantime I need to read up on how to transfer the blog to a different Google account.

Even more recently, I spotted an email (in this particular Google account even when I specifically attempted to direct mail to another email service provider) in the spam box indicating a comment that never got through the recepient's inbox (I now am privy to the knowledge of a certain blog friend's real name (first and last name, methinks), but the secret is safe with me. Anyway, I'm just curious, what are your views on blogging anonymously, and how would you react if your anonymity was taken away?

*Ok, admittedly something like this happened when I was 12 when I shared my writing with my classmates. Big mistake, yes - likelihood for 30-somethings to whine as such, probably not, but still, I prefer to keep things like these to myself these days. 

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Vacation that Was - Sri Lanka

About slightly more than a year ago, my sister and I decided to take our parents on a *holiday outside the country. After some deliberation, we finally picked Sri Lanka because none of us have been there before, and it seemed like an interesting place to visit, and (ahem) didn't have any visa requirements. We also got a local tour agent to help us with the booking of the accommodation and recommended places of interest because we didn't have the time to plan one on our own.  

Almost a year later, I finally sit down and attempt to transcribe the experience of the vacation that was - the 4 days in an island known to the world as Sri Lanka. 

(insert sound of a tape rewinding in an old cassette player)

Feb 02, 2011 - Leaving and Arriving


Cheap flights come with a price - your sanity and sleep deprivation. Having the flight out of the country so early in the morning meant that none of us slept well the night before. We reached the airport without a problem though. The flight itself was fine, except that we ended up being seated right at the back of the plane, and it was bustling with activity (more so than any other flights I've ever taken) Four hours later, we touch down at Colombo airport greeted by a slight drizzle. No baggage related disasters this time.

First leg of the journey - Colombo to Sigiriya (via Kurunegala)

Within minutes, we met up with our guide for the next leg of the journey (from Colombo to Sigiriya via a place called Kurunegala) It was a long drive, and the sleepy tourists slept most of the way. Our guide wasn't gifted with much conversational skills either and just left us to sleep without describing much of the what we passed through except for one part where he got very, very excited over a pineapple plantation and a statue. The rain was slightly heavier around this time.

  
The statue - although I personally find the clock tower much more interesting

We drove on further into the island as we headed on towards Sigiriya, and the rain just decided to get heavier with each turn of the wheel. Water flowed along the roads pretending they were really shallow rivers, mothers carried tiny schoolchildren piggy back to/from school as the rain poured on them, and you could barely see anything more than a few metres in front of you. After passing by an elephant tethered to a tree, we went in to another muddy (formerly dirt) road which led to a restaurant for lunch. The wind that blew about us was cold - something none of us expected in a tropical country. 

Lunch was remarkably good, though, despite being buffet style (I'm not a fan of buffets as they usually rather focus on quantity instead of quality) The curries were delicious and full of flavour. Due to the rain, we had to switch up our plans a bit. We were initially supposed to go to this place called Sigiriya Rock first before going to the hotel, but due to the rain we ended up at the hotel first.

*growing up, family vacations were practically non-existent, even in the country as my dad worked shifts and ended up having to work while everyone else was on leave. This continued until he retired a few years ago.

to be continued


Monday, January 23, 2012

Where There Be Dragons

If you could pick one mythical creature which deep down you knew must have existed, what would it be? 

Mine, with unwavering certainty would be the dragon, the majestic creature known for it's ability to fly across the sky, breathing fire on anything in it's way, holding princesses hostage in caves until a mad prince decides to behead it. Of course if it were real, holding princesses hostage may have just been a tall tale kings and queens would tell their princes and princesses so that they wouldn't sneak out of the castle and get kidnapped or something, because lets face it, being kidnapped by a dragon only to be saved by a prince is way more romantic than say, being kidnapped by a kidnapper who called your parents for some ransom, and the person who finally rescued you was the negotiator for the police, or a very clever detective. 

I have always been fascinated by dragons for as long as I can remember, which was why I was extremely excited about a certain show I saw on TV a few years ago. Me being me, I had missed the first ten minutes of the show and almost believed that dragons did really exist. The show was that realistic. I finally caught up with the 10 minutes I missed a few days later, and sadly realised that it was all imagined. 

Nevertheless, there's still always the possibility of finding the necessary evidence that dragons did really exist someday. We only have to wait and see. 

Note: 
1. Post inspired by Chinese New Year (it's the year of the dragon this year), and a local newspaper's feature article on (you guessed it) dragons.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Oh, Let us Just Feign Ignorance and All the Problems Will Go Away

For some people, maybe.

I've had people tell me before that it's not worth it giving your all to your job. "Just work hard from September" they'd say if they saw you working late in January, as we get appraised only in mid December, and three months of 'good' work is apparently sufficient to fool your bosses into thinking that you've been good the whole year. I suppose they get away with such behaviour because their superiors are probably fools anyway. 

Now, while I don't think what you do should dictate your life (although sometimes you can't help it when it's in the manufacturing field), I believe that people should be responsible enough to perform tasks they are supposed to do. Feigning ignorance is just unacceptable. Allowing others to pick up their slack when they say that they do not know how to do their own bloody job is just an excuse for laziness. And their superior not giving them an earful for such irresponsible behaviour is even worse.

I suppose all of us view our jobs differently. For some people, it's probably just the thing they do so that they have enough money to justify them marrying their *second wife, inconveniencing everyone else around them in the process.

The thing is, no matter what our objectives are for working, we are paid to do it. Copying the supplier's data from their certificate of assurance can be done by anyone who knows how to read and write (yes, even an eight year old can do it after you've thought them how and on top of that you can also con an eight year old and pay them with cheap ice cream  - I kid, I kid)

I wonder if the quality people in charge of checking the quality of the incoming raw material felt any sort of embarrassment after the process people highlighted that a certain raw material was of extremely poor quality - which would have been detected before the process people used it had these quality people done their job. I also wonder how they could have relinquished the responsibility of checking the other lots that haven't been used yet to the process people by pointedly refusing to do it.

* I don't know how this person ever convinced the 2nd wife to get married to him. Or even the first one for that matter. Yes, I know it's a personal attack and it's not very nice.

Edit: Yup, ranty post. I'm annoyed, I guess. Anyway, got a pretty long weekend ahead, and here's wishing a Happy Chinese New Year to anyone who celebrates. Cheers to the dragon! 

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

It's Taking Too Long to Think of a Title For This Post

This morning, despite suffering from a horrible pain due to a relentless migraine attack, I whipped out my phone, logged on to Facebook and convinced my thumbs to type out the following: 

"Insomnia or migraine, which would you pick?" 

Looking back, it sounds as though I consider both the migraine and the insomnia to be simply irresistible treats that everyone wants a piece of. Sigh.

That's what you end up doing when you post something while suffering from migraine which may have been a result of the recent insomnia. It seems like they've decided to take turns and visit me like relatives and friends visiting you when you're sick! Plus, I'm actually really lazy to type out stuff on my phone, and made the status update as short as I possibly could. Seriously though, if you are familiar with both, which would you rather have? (The (ahem) lesser evil, so to speak)

In my case, right now I think I'd rather go with insomnia.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Two Sides of the Coin

A first year student stood up and asked the following question: "I have a pen pal from Russia. Am I allowed to correspond with him from here?"

I can't remember what was the answer to that fairly odd question, because it happened way back in 1998, when I was a first year student as well. This question was asked during our long and tiresome orientation week where we learned the university song (laughed at it too, of course), and where people droned on about the rules and regulations and explained the many different ways you could get yourself expelled. That was also the time when we all found out about AUKU (University and University Colleges Act)

Being 18 and politically ignorant then, my friends and I never did find the act get in the way of our daily lives. Many things have happened since then, and thirteen years later university students are actually rising against the act. For some reason, they believe that political freedom and participation is a must in order for them to grow up and be forward thinking people. After all, if you are fully responsible for your well being at 18 (you are legally allowed to be fully employed, get your driver's license and even get married and have your own kids at 18), why can't you be involved in politics?

This opposition towards the act got much more interesting in the recent days because of a particular student activist who was suspended for 18 months for lowering a banner for 5 minutes. The banner apparently depicted the image of the Prime Minister. They say the suspension is to uphold the name of the university as their job is to train future educators, and who would want a teacher who is against authority?

 Last week, the radio station I listen to ran a set of interviews, the first with a professor from the university which suspended the student activist, and on the second day, an interview with the student activist himself! I found it most refreshing as the radio station had decided to present us with both sides of the story, instead of only the story of the side which was more powerful. An institution of higher education versus a single student sure sounds like David versus Goliath. It was interesting to note that the student had some degree of maturity in the way he spoke and he knew what he was doing. He thinks that if students don't fight against oppressive laws against students, who will? Who wants teachers who can't think for themselves? 

A very interesting other side of the coin indeed. Kudos to the radio station.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Bad Hair Month - April 2011

January is crazy, and it's not even half way through. I haven't had time to blog and all my blog ideas (which always make their special appearance when I'm driving, unfortunately) have evaporated into a place where it's never to be seen again, the graveyard of dead blog ideas. Anyway, just to fill up the space, I thought I'd post something I wrote back in April 2011 but never published. 

I suppose it's easier when you have good lighting and a professional camera person, but try taking a photograph of your hairstyle by yourself, and all you'll get is a big black blob (if the hair is black, that is) So after several failed attempts with and without the help of a mirror, I have officially given up on capturing a photo of the most amazingly awesome haircut I have ever had. What's even weirder is that even my mom was less than pleased with her 'chopped up' hairstyle as well (we got it cut on the same day), and a few days later another cousin gets a haircut and claims that she's been given the coconut shell hairdo!

Therefore, where photography failed, a pencil, paper and an eraser won the day. The pictures speak for themselves.
Side view
Front view


What is the worst part of this bad haircut? The hairdresser actually valued it as a masterpiece, and she was adamantly proud of it. In fact, she actually told me to 'fluff' up the sides near my ears (thank you very much, but I refuse to have a hairdo that would make me look like a soap star from the 80's!!) as that's how the cut should be.

Now all I've got to do is wait for the hair to grow out... and,
a) Fervently hope that hairstyles from the 80's do not make a comeback. Ever!
b) Restart my "do not go to the same hairdresser/hairdressing salon two times in a row"
c) Remind myself that no matter how hot it is... long is always safe.
d) Always say 'trim' and not 'cut'
e) Remind them to maintain the length of the 'shortest strands of hair' below the earlobe.

Note: Hair's all grown out and proper now, but I need to cut it again. The fear of another disastrous haircut is the reason why I've been putting it off.


Sunday, January 08, 2012

Lessons on Expired Foodstuff

I learned a strange lesson last Friday.

I'm not a frequent user of chilli sauce, except when I eat something that actually requires the use of chilli sauce like a certain local chip-like junkfood, and that was when I thought that the sauce tasted strangely bitter as opposed to being hot (It was an 'extra hot' variety, by the way) Only after consuming a considerable quantity for chilli sauce standards, and wondering about the bitter taste, I realised that the bottle should have been tossed into the bin over two months ago! Thankfully there were no disastrous consequences.

On the other hand, over a few months back, I was feeling a bit extra peckish one night and thought I'd cook some instant noodles. I noticed with a slight dismay that they had expired about a week or so before that but the peckishness got the better of me and I figured that I'd just eat it anyway. After all, how much harm could one week do to food? 

Turns out, one week did cause quite a bit of damage to the food. The noodles, once cooked, smelled strangely of burned plastic, and had the consistency of (very) pliable plastic. I did not use any plastic utensils, so the possible contributor was definitely the product itself. A few bites later, I had to throw it away. I don't take instant noodles on a regular basis these days either (after somewhat being my staple supper back in my undergraduate days) but I've eaten this particular batch of noodles before when they were still edible and it tasted like noodles and not plastic. Kind of makes you wonder what exactly these noodles are made of...

Saturday, January 07, 2012

RUNNING 1000 MILES - AWAY!

Back in September 2007, I came to a rather abrupt conclusion on how sampling killed the *classics (just like how video killed the radio star) after listening to a song that sampled Africa by Toto. A few years later, I still have the exact same sentiments.

The other day (edit: which is not at least somewhere about two weeks ago!), I was just browsing through some websites and came upon one which had a list of the top songs in 2011 that were remakes or samples. I thought it was interesting for various reasons, the first one being the length of the list, as there were about 30 songs on it, and these **30 were considered the creme de la creme of the remake/sampling world which means there were definitely much more remakes and sampling that didn't quite make the cut. First question: Have they seriously run out of original ideas?

My ***curiosity got the better of me, and I checked out some of the songs in the list. I have to admit I really did want to know how Wonderwall by Oasis was sampled, or even The Proclaimer's (I'm gonna be) 500 Miles because I happen to like both these songs quite a lot. At the risk of sounding like a snob, I have no choice but to admit that I cringed a bit at most of the songs I listened to from the list. (3 out of 4) Surprisingly, the one that didn't make me cringe too much was a remake and not a mere sampling. Perhaps I'm a bit more open to remakes than I am to sampling.
In all the cringe-worthiness of that late evening in front of the computer, the sampling of The Proclaimer's (I'm Gonna Be) 500 Miles was by far the most shocking and my initial reaction upon hearing it was to actually want run 1000 miles, in the opposite direction!

Here it is, attached in it's full glory - I included the video which (not so) kindly included the lyrics. Second question: Ok, so they've run out of original ideas for riffs and such, but good lyrics can't be that difficult, right?




*I used the word classics then, but I think I should rephrase that with something more appropriate like 'songs we once liked'

** It was the website owner's personal opinion

*** I stopped listening to contemporary music, and I'm therefore extremely backdated in my knowledge of what's hot and what's not right now.

Sunday, January 01, 2012

THE TORCH OF TIME


source: freeprintablecoloringpagesdotnet
Note: This is a story I wrote on 1st January 2011, inspired by the speed 2010 passed us by and also a comment on a friend's FB status update. Although it's been a year since then, the way 2011 sped by was no different, so I figured it's only fitting that I use it as the first post for the year. This story was first published in Selangor Times on 25 Feb 2011. 

2011 sat nervously at the edge of her seat and fidgeted with her new sparkling white robe as the International Date Line shimmered in the silence of the arena. The only sound that was audible was the careful footsteps of 2010 as he made his way towards the end of his reign. He was noticed soon enough, though. As he took the bend, he was seen walking with a confident swagger, one arm raised high above carrying the Torch of Time, which most of the folk not involved directly with Time believed stay lit forever, and would only diminish at the sudden death of Time himself. 

She caught his eye, smiled and gave a wave. 

"Hey..." she said.

He nodded in reply and quickened his pace to a jog. In between concentrating on his jog and carrying the Torch of Time, he somehow managed to blow a kiss towards his old friend 2009 who blushed into such a delicious colour. In a different world, tomatoes turned envious.

He finally threw himself on the seat strategically placed at 2350 hours, and positioned the Torch of Time into its holder. The light flickered for a second, before it was quietly taken away to be cleaned and refuelled by two of Time's most important personal assistants. 

Every year, as they cleaned the torch out while the fire sat sullenly in an old unused torch, they would joke about the silliness of mortals believing that Time himself would die one day. No doubt, the sun would swell up, turn into the red giant and incinerate a few planets while at it, including all those silly people who could never see the bigger picture no matter how much you shoved it at their faces. Nevertheless, Time would go on and on, and an entire new circle would begin. Every year as they discuss this, they keep their hopes up that the next circle will have far further intelligent beings who could at least understand that they were only one minuscule corner of one of the pieces along the second row of a thousand piece puzzle.

The silence was shattered by 2011.

"How was it?" she asked, breathlessly

"I sprinted!" 2010 laughed as he replied.

"Are you allowed to do that?" 2011 asked, shocked and intrigued simultaneously

2010's eyes lit up mischievously. He shrugged.

"Well, I think they hated me" he added as an afterthought.

In fact, some of them did, and part of it was because they felt that 2010 moved at such a speed that there was never enough time for them to accomplish what they set out to accomplish. He even received a few hate mails for all his effort as he kept up with current technology, reading people's blogs, twitter and that ever increasingly famous Facebook.

"Yeah, they did. Every now and then, I'd take a pause, and look over the shoulders of people who couldn't finish their work, or whose babies just refused to sleep at night, and morning would come too soon for them leaving them staggering like zombies going to battle. How very amusing," he added.

"Can I sprint too?" 2011 inquired, her eyes wide with wonderment.

"It’s your call, babe. I know 2008 and 2009 sprinted as well... so I decided to do some training, and broke their records" 2010 added.

"Isn’t a year comprised of 365 days, or 366 thanks to human manipulation?" she asked.

"It's all about how they perceive time. The more they say they need more time, the less they get. The mosquito doesn't feel a thing... she lays her eggs, they turn to larvae, then pupas. If she's Aedes aegypti, then I convey my sympathies, because humans always seem to remember to empty the vessels of water these days. But if it's a human person, with their perception of time, eight hours of work is never enough. Neither is six hours of sleep! They just get older and grumpier and even more disgruntled the faster they perceive time," he said

"We're waging a war against humans, then? I quite like them really, they and their quirks, ambitions, always trying to succeed" 2011 said

"Don't forget their greed, their need to be on top of everything, trampling over the lives of those they feel are beneath them, blatantly cutting down trees thousands of years old, hunting for sport. It's disgusting. But no... none of us were waging a war against the humans. Like I said, it's how they perceive time, and we're just using that to mess with them, because they are willing to be messed with" 2010 flashed 2011 a smile.

The Torch of Time was carried out again, clean and bright, the fire flickering brightly. In the background, the tick of the final minute of 2010 sounded louder than usual. The clock, a human invention, ironically signified the passage of time even in Time's arena due to how convenient it was. 2010 stood with the Torch of Time in his left hand on his side of the line as it glowed brighter than ever. 2011 stood on the other side of the line and held up her right hand, completely ready to accept her responsibility for a brand new year, filled with hopes and dreams and crazy people's resolutions.

The clock gave another tick in the silence of the arena, marking the arrival of 2011. The Torch of Time passed hands.

"Good Luck!" whispered 2010 as 2011 moved forward.

Far away, in another place, fireworks exploded in the air as champagne bubbles tickled the noses of people, street parties became much more exciting and people generally started wishing each other a Happy New Year.