Wednesday, February 29, 2012

If all the frogs leaped together - 4 years later

Exactly 4 years ago today, I wrote this post which I have copied below: 

"I was just thinking that you don't get that many 29 Februarys in a lifetime. Well, at least not as many as say, 29 March or 29 April, which makes this post a once in a 4 year thing. Not knowing what the future holds (in the sense if I will still be blogging in 4 years time - though I don't see it any other way currently) I thought it would be appropriate to say something today.

See, now I have a post dated 29 February 2008. Happy leap day... (if there is such a thing!)"

I suppose I was right in predicting that I'd most likely still be blogging today and hence have yet another post dated 29 February. As I was looking at the calendar, and recalling having written a post to commemorate Feb 29 of 2008, it got me thinking about this lovely comment my friend wrote in response to that blog post:

 Aunty Helpful Dictator Feb 29, 2008 04:14 AM
 
Also there's the whole thing that traditionally this is the day that women can propose marriage to men... and I remember something about them saying no requires them to buy you a gold dress. So for kicks and giggles (and possibly a new wardrobe) you can propose to lots of blokes today!

Source: Wikipedia

I was rather curious about this tradition seeing that it's not practiced here, and besides, I saw my friend's comment only on 1st March - 1 day too late! Wikipedia tells me that it's actually from the British Isles. Interesting stuff, really - how you learn of cultures and customs from your international friends via blogs. Despite the fact that I'm all for kicks and giggles, proposing marriage to any of the blokes I know today is probably out of the question.

Happy leap day 2012 :)

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

JUST MY LUCK

In an otherwise almost normal and mundane existence, there is a certain person who calls herself TS who has the occasional need to  throw her hands in the air in frustration, and utter the words - "Just My Luck"

Allow her to explain:

1. She has been skeptical about buying things online (except for the occasional plane ticket) for a very long time, until one day, her sister forwarded a Groupon offer to her that was the perfect complement to a certain brand new 'toy' she just got herself. She had finally crossed an unseen threshold and purchased something online, something she's never done before. The item which she purchased at the end of last year was supposed to arrive at her doorstep in mid January. Now, it's nearing the end of February and apparently, the item is still waiting for clearance from China. At least Groupon has been contacting her (and others who took up the offer) and giving updates on the delay, but still...

2. The dentist told her that the suture will drop off on it's own in a week, and if it doesn't (a few rare cases, according to the dentist), then she should just go and see the dentist again to get it removed. Guess what? TS is one of the few rare cases with the stubborn suture that just wouldn't come off. Nope, she's a bit traumatised about seeing a dentist so soon after her wisdom tooth removal, so she hasn't actually gone to get it removed yet.

3. She sends out an e-mail with good intentions - just to share some information. Turns out, that good intentioned e-mail was the Archduke Ferdinand of a tempest in the company teapot, and resulted in two people receiving unnecessary scolding. Is she going to go around and share info anymore? Yes, unfortunately that is a must. Is she going to c.c anyone not directly involved anymore? Never. Let other people become the Archduke Ferdinand the next time around. ;)

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Standing Inside a Broken Cupboard with a Math Book in my Hands

Way back in 1998.

In the true spirit of upholding the morality (ahem!) of female students, my residential college decided to hold a talk for all female students who lived there. Attendance was compulsory, they said. On top of that, to make matters even worse, there were rumours that the rooms would be checked during the talk to catch truants.

There were a few problems with this, seeing that we had a math test the next day. Being the kind of people who saved everything for the last minute, this talk just threw all the studying plans in a disarray. Secondly, the idea of some stranger trying to instill morality in us was just not my cup of tea. My mom did an extremely good job on that many years before. She still doesn't like it when I use unlady-like words even under extreme provocation, but at least I'm honest enough to use the words in front of her ;)

Being first year students then, we duly attended the talk and were bored to death, while attempting math questions in the hall. As we were sitting pretty near one of the exits, we hatched a plan where at certain intervals, one by one of us would get out and go back to the room to study.

Half an hour later saw us sitting at our respective desks in the room and doing math questions as if life depended on it. Though we were fully absorbed working out the questions my roomies and I heard the door across the corridor slam and a jingle of keys which at that moment sounded pretty ominous – WERE they checking the rooms for runaways?

Horrified, I turned to my roomies and we knew we had to get out from there immediately. Turning off the lights, we hopped out of the open window and I stood on the ledge of the building. I found myself  holding my breath (why?) as the horrible jingling sound came nearer and nearer, and doors being open and shut. There was a felo (lecturers who stay in campus to keep an eye on the students) downstairs who saw us on the ledge and he almost did a double take – most probably wondering about weird studying habits of young undergraduates.

After what felt like forever, the sounds ceased to exist and we went back in and continued our work (tried to -  actually) but the nervousness lingered. For some reason, we wanted to get downstairs to another friend's room. and we all quietly trooped  downstairs to their room, still with that horrible book in tow.

The room downstairs was a picture of serenity. While we all had our hearts beating wildly as we stood on the ledge, they had been studying without much trouble. We then proceeded to inform them about the happenings upstairs and managed to get them on the frightened students bandwagon in the process, as we soon began to hear the now familiar jingle of  keys and opening and closing of doors. Now there were 6 very frightened people in this room and they had no ledge to hide in, it being the ground floor and the windows had grilles on them.

Someone came up with the genius idea of hiding in the cupboards. Two of us got into one cupboard – in the dark, and with the math book, and another two got into another cupboard and two others – under the tables, behind some boxes. The cupboard began to creak – not meant for human weight I suppose ;-)

Credits and notes:
1. Title modified from “Standing outside a broken phone booth with money in my hands” by Primitive Radio Gods
2. Well, if you really must know what happened in the end, we were all safe. Turns out, no one bothered to look for runaways or truants, they were just other classmates returning from the talk at various times throughout the rest of the night! Any yes, we all did pretty OK in the test despite the circumstances. 


Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Untitled

It's sad when people think you're being serious when you're not.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

And then there were 31

Rogue and Molar
Warning - may contain some descriptive goriness - so if you're averse to icky things, please turn away. Sorry.

You know for a fact that evolution is the name of the game when you have things like your wisdom tooth turning into a rogue and attacking an innocent neighbour. We don't need them anymore, and yet they remain, hidden until they pop out someday, with less than desirable results for quite a number of us.

If we were created as the creationists believe, we'd all be sporting perfectly beautiful sets of teeth (28 only) and there wouldn't be dentists around. 

Over a year ago, I was shown a picture of the condition of my lower right jaw and it looks a bit like the drawing attached to this post. After having to deal with a series of failed appointments that I decided that it was a sign to not go ahead, I completely forgot about it until a recent visit to a dentist. She too commented on the damage Rogue is likely to cause and advised that I remove it. An opportunity came, I took it, and a few hours later, I sit here typing this with a gaping hole where Rogue once sat and taunted Molar.

I have been told that the removal process was one of the simplest ever, and I was under the impression that they'd just cut your gums and the tooth would just fall out like that. Well, maybe not just fall out, but at least just one yank would do the trick. Turns out, it isn't so. My extra strong teeth was hacked and sawed into several small pieces and the root was apparently still stuck in the bone. The dentist cut, loosened and pulled and yanked, and after a grueling 1 hour and 15 minutes of her wrestling with my tooth, and me holding onto the seat holder as if my life depended on it, the final piece finally came out in all it's bloody glory. 


Saturday, February 11, 2012

Contradict and Confuse

Contradict and Confuse
A long time ago in a country which hadn't even been properly formed at the time, a rather devious (but clever) method was employed to ensure that people wouldn't rebel against the powers that be - the ruling class. It was known as 'Divide and Conquer', or "Pecah dan Perintah" in Malay, the language used in our history books. 

This "Divide and Conquer" policy worked to a certain extent, until the ruling class got bored/ran out of money/had other interests, and the people begin to see some light. Nevertheless, even after the country was formed, the current ruling class (voted in by us, unfortunately) loved the idea of "Divide and Conquer"so much that they continuously practised it, although they modified it to suit modern times. People have learned though, and some are beginning to reject the "Divide and Conquer"approach. 

Now, based on the 'breaking news' topics as seen in the picture in this post, we can see that besides "Divide and Conquer", we have reached an all new low in the form of "Contradict and  Confuse". 

Could "Contradict and Confuse" be the new black? 

Edit: Pecah dan Perintah should read Divide and Rule (Not conquer, though conquer sounds much better than rule) 

Monday, February 06, 2012

The Hotel

Talking about hotels has never been a fun idea of a post, but I seriously thought that this one hotel and our experience with it deserves a special mention as it is the epitome of how everything that can go wrong will go wrong if the circumstances are just right.

I suppose the biggest problem of all was that it was raining heavily. The second biggest problem was that the rain was unexpected. In fact, by the time we had arrived, it had been raining continuously for almost two whole days. This website shows how bad it was. The data provided here was from Feb 1 to 7, 2011. Based on yearly reports from other websites, February is the month that has the lowest rainfall in the year. Our holiday there was from Feb 2 to 6, 2011. Murphy's Law, or a holiday curse?

(Please note that the post below talks about the rain and more rain and all rain related disasters and this doesn't even include the burnt socks incident yet)

Back to the hotel. Interestingly, the hotel is far from your ordinary building that looks like an ugly grey block with rows of windows indicating each room and each floor. Instead, the moment you enter the gates, you are first greeted by the front desk, where they give the keys to your room and take you to your rooms situated a few hundred metres away covered by nothing but the sky above. The path you take is lined by slabs of flat stone, just indicating the path. An 'alfresco'-ish setting, if you will. So you can imagine that after almost two days of rain, the path was half buried in water in certain places, with water flowing in rivulets, wetting the cuffs of your jeans in the process. The staff helped us carry our bags to the rooms, and the poor skinny boys were drenched in the rain within seconds. We as hotel guests were fortunate enough to get umbrellas that we could use, but seriously, the rain was relentless and hit us from the sides instead.

Hotel layout

To the hotel's credit, it's actually a rather remarkable idea. After all, you're supposedly on a relaxing holiday, and staying in a box-like room sounds like the furthest thing from relaxation. Besides, the rooms are like tiny semi-D houses and looked gorgeous. The air was fresh, thanks to all the greenery. They also had a most interesting bathroom concept, which was something this hotel is apparently quite known for. 

Throughout our stay there which lasted from the afternoon of 2nd February to the morning of 3rd February the following happened:

1. Got our jeans and feet/socks/shoes wet on the way back to the front desk where we were supposed to meet our guide to take us to Sigiriya Rock. 

2. Got wet again on the way back to the room after Sigiriya Rock, on the way to dinner at the hotel's restaurant and back to the room after dinner

3. Mom lost her slipper in the mud on the way back to the room after dinner and it was never to be found again. She borrowed my flip flops after that.

4. Final dose of getting wet in the rain the next morning before finally checking out. 

In between all the getting wet and drying ourselves after getting wet, I have to add something about the interesting bathroom concept mentioned above. See, the bathroom had an open air concept, so you could look up to the skies and have natural sunlight shine in on you while showering, or even watch the stars at night if you wanted to. To prevent insects, dead leaves and other creepy creatures from joining you as you had a relaxing shower, there was a net placed above you. It sounds lovely, unless if it rains. Imagine you're there trying to have a hot shower because it was so cold, and there's rain (which is cold) dripping on you all around from the netting. The shower head was fixed, so there was nowhere I could move to. I thought that it was the most ridiculous situation ever. There was nothing to do but laugh, which I did after I got out of the bathroom. 

Despite their best efforts to make the hotel as lovely as they could, I do think they should also be a bit more practical. In fact, when we were asked by the tour agency to rate the accommodation and services, we actually suggested that the hotel consider to build a covered pathway to the rooms and on top of that slightly elevate it at the same time.

Sunday, February 05, 2012

Sigiriya Lion's Rock - Sri Lanka

The previous post on Sri Lanka ended abruptly with the famous words - "To be continued". There is a valid reason for this. See, back then, I had trouble deciding if I should describe the hotel or Sigiriya Lion's Rock first, without destroying the story telling in any way. Till today, I couldn't come up with a decision, and therefore just randomly picked the Lion's Rock first. 

Sigiriya Lion's Rock

The Sigiriya Lion's Rock beckons people (and umbrellas alike) on a rainy afternoon
Around 2:30 pm or something, the rain had decided to take a short break and ceased pouring water like there was no tomorrow, so we took the opportunity to go to the rock. It was quite a short drive and we finally reached the gates. It was slightly drizzling at this point, but nothing Malaysians who had to deal with unexpected rain almost every day couldn't handle.

The rock apparently was once part of an ancient palace ruin which was recently excavated, and had fountains bubbling half-heartedly, excavated ponds and gardens. For some unknown reason, ancient kings seem to have a thing for gardens, pools and fountains.  We had a different guide take us in (it's apparently part of the tour package we took) and we had to unfortunately follow his schedule while he described what we saw in front of us rather hurriedly as we marched (yes, marched is the word) on to another point of interest. As we made our way, we ended up meeting several 'tourist spot street vendors' who tried selling boxes with hidden compartments. The boxes were really well made and rather heavy - my dad bought one.


After passing through the recently excavated ruins, we had to climb up flights and flights of stairs that have been built to reach the top of the rock, where the best views apparently are. Halfway up, we saw the Mirror Wall, which according to what we've been told is a highly polished surface in which the ancient king could see his reflection. Inside, on the other hand is a bunch of frescoes of maidens that adorns the wall. There used to be quite a lot of these paintings, but years of exposure to the environment had caused some damage and the few that survive today are supposedly preserved by not allowing people to use flash while taking the pictures. Nevertheless, while we were in there, I actually spotted two people surreptitiously (well, maybe not so surreptitiously as I was actually startled by the a few sudden bursts of light in the dark) using flash to take the pictures. I was disgusted.

A side view of the endless flights of stairs

The Mirror Wall
Waaay before Hugh Hefner and his (ahem) famous magazine - taken without the aid of flash being the responsible tourist that I am
After the frescoes, we climbed further up and reached the location where a pair of huge claws lay. There used to be a lion's head here, but it is gone now. Now, this holiday was extremely last minute and we really didn't expect flights and flights of stairs. We are all of a reasonable level of fitness, but my mom has arthritic knees, no one had proper footwear (I was the only one who used sneakers despite the rain as I had lent my mom my flip flops and my sister was wearing her flip flops due to the rain) for climbing slippery stairs. It also started raining again at this point and we decided to give going to the top a miss.

According to the guide, however, on sunny days, you'd get a lot of wasps hanging around stinging people as they made their way to the top. And just the other day, a local travel show (lucky for them, it was sunny that day and I bet their pictures looked way better than mine) showed the traveller screaming 'bees' as he climbed up the very same stairs in the picture below.

This whole area once belonged to a king. It seemed to be quite a challenge going up, what with the stairs and the wasps and the strong winds (if it rains) and we curiously asked the guide how the king managed, seeing that most kings were probably not exactly the fittest people around. Turns out he apparently had people carry him and the queen up there. We made our way down back using the same way except towards the end, as the exit was in a different section. We met our proper guide back there and drove back to the hotel in the rain.

The Claws (sans lion's head)

Turns out Sigiriya Rock gets it's very own post. Ha ha.

For some very strange reason, the song "Revolution Rock" by The Clash rings in my head each time I think of Sigiriya Rock.

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Gotcha, Google!

We live in a world where making money seems to be everything (more on this later, hopefully!) We are now targets of targeted ads. I noticed this about a year ago when Google searches on places to visit in New Zealand dominated my existence on the internet and I'd suddenly have ads on tour packages to go sightseeing in Waitamo, or blackwater rafting while I was surfing. 

A few days ago, G-mail sent us users an e-mail giving an in depth explanation on how now Google will incorporate all of our activity with their various accounts to allow them to advertise us with more relevant ads based on our interests. 

While browsing earlier today, I came across this article (linked below) from another blog and figured I'd just check it out: 

http://www.slate.com/blogs/future_tense/2012/01/25/google_ad_preferences_manager_does_it_accurately_guess_your_age_and_gender_.html

According to the article, all you've got to do is click this site and it will attempt to guess your age and gender based on your cookies unless you unleashed a cookie monster on them first. I thought this would be fun (I am a sucker for things like this, by the way. A long time ago, I took another test in which they were supposed to determine my gender by my writing - they told me I was of indeterminate gender, much to my amusement) 

This was what they had to say of me and my searches:


Your categories
Below you can review a summary of the interests and inferred demographics that Google has associated with your cookie. You can remove or edit your categories at any time.
Arts & Entertainment - Music & Audio - Rock Music
Business & Industrial - Small Business - MLM & Business Opportunities (seriously????)
Finance
Food & Drink - Restaurants
Games
People & Society


Your demographics
No demographic categories are associated with your ads preferences so far. You can add or edit demographics at any time.

Sorry Google, but this is what you get when more than one user uses the same laptop.

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Two Cents

There are so many things one could blog about, but the moment this post editor opens, it's cursor blinking innocently at you, you realise that there are just too many issues fighting for your attention.

Therefore, you just end up typing something of no significance at all and hope that tomorrow will be a better blog day.