31 August 2005

Not So Jagged Anymore

Way before Avril Lavigne, Michelle Branch, Lindsay Lohan or any of those teen rockers wore bras, I listened to Alanis Morissette's debut album - Jagged Little Pill. I don't know what prompted it, but while my classmates were listening to Backstreet Boys and 911 (remember them?), I went out and bought her original cassette (remember those?). I think it might have something to do with a British pop magazine called Smash Hits, but I can't really be sure. I was around 11 or 12 that time, and I barely had any teen angst or rock infatuation to satisfy, so I really can't justify my purchase.

At any rate, I listened to it and sang along to some of the better songs (You Oughta Know, You Learn, Head Over Feet, and Ironic). I did find myself disliking some of the other rock-heavy songs but otherwise, it was a pretty good album. Well, my purchase, along with 29,999,999 others helped make Jagged Little Pill the biggest-selling album by a female artist in history. Way to go, girl! Anyway, I've pretty much forgotten about my childhood rock experience, until I saw it in a music store. 'It' as in the acoustic version of Jagged Little Pill. It is meant to mark the 10 year anniversary of the album, which is probably longer than many marriages today. She completely resung all songs, and as I flipped the CD around, childhood memories came swimming to me again when I scanned through the track list. I felt an urge to buy it, to relieve a small part of my younger days, and to scream along with her. But I quelled my sensibilities, and placed the CD back on the shelf.

I then went home and downloaded it off BitTorrent.

One night later, and voila! I'm listening to Alanis once again this morning. I love the acoustic theme as it definitely mellows things down. This essentially makes all the tracks more bearable. It is also obvious Alanis' voice has matured (a better word than 'older') and she shows some restraints in the screaming parts and comes off sounding better to me. Her trademark voice is still there, so she still maintains her uniqueness without drowning in a sea of Avrils and Lindsays. Who, incidently, is still not wearing bras.

30 August 2005

Red Eye Traffic

I met WC for lunch and movie today. WC is a relatively new friend as I only got to know him well this year, but looking back we discovered that we attended the same primary school. He claimed that he found my face familiar, but I doubt that as I defintely don't find him familiar. Sigh, me and my bad memory.

We went to Gurney Plaza (my 5th time in 3 weeks) and ate at the new Korean buffet BBQ restaurant. I saw this on my first visit but didn't get a suitable time to come here till now. The price is part of the reason - it's RM19.99++ for lunch, while there are student packages at RM13.99++. Of course we went for the student package, but unknowingly there were a few hidden charges. First, we have to pay RM3.99 for free-flow drinks, and another RM4 for the unlimited soup base. They are both optional, but it would be tough not having anything to drink. Plus, having the soup base effectively makes it a BBQ Steamboat combo. So after tax, WC and I had to shell out RM23 per person.

There are a few places outside with this buffet BBQ steamboat setup, and it costs only RM15-16 nett per person. But the difference is apparent as the Korean BBQ joint had more choices of meat and seafood, more dessert types (including ice-cream!), and well, just more of everything! While it is OK for students, it's way too expensive if you have to pay regularly. If you go for dinner there, it can cost around RM40 per person! I had quite a lot, but not a LOT, if you know what I mean. WC was an even smaller eater, so he stopped earlier. I'm quite satisfied with it, but unhappy with the 'hidden charges'.

We then walked around Gurney for 1.5 hours and talked crap while buying nothing. It was thoroughly a waste of productive time, but I guess it's good training for my future dating endeavours. At 3.45pm we entered GSC to watch 'Red Eye', which I've heard good reviews about. Of course, there were some mediocre ones but I decided to trust the Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. It is rare for a Wes Craven thriller to get an 82% approval rating, so I had high expectations for it.

And I was a little disappointed. I wasn't as tensed up as I should have, and contrary to prior assumptions, only 60% of the movie happens on the plane. And of course, there was nothing to make us think of the ending as a live-or-die situation. It's not a bad movie, but occassionally uneven. I even think the censors snipped off a small part, though I can't tell which.

After the movie, I sent WC to Prangin Mall as he wanted to chill out some more. It is practically on the other side of town but I am going to get stuck in rush-hour traffic anyway, so I did him the favour. I'm glad my air-con held up during the drive home, as it was quite a long queue. I felt a little thirsty but kept my cool till the end. I feel fine as I'm quite glad to be leaving all this behind in 3 days time.

And oh yeah, Malaysia turns 48 tomorrow. Dad has hinted he wanted to head down to Esplanade for the countdown, but I'm adamant about not going. There's seriously no point! I'd rather spend the time watching a movie with him, even if it's Bewitched all over again.

29 August 2005

Blinding Flashes of the Obvious Part 1

Every year, billions of dollars are spent worldwide on research. Scientists make use of public and private funds to test a hypothesis and then publish their results in journals and white papers. Researches have helped to shed light on many interesting things and progresses human kind. However, a lot of them are also stupid and worthless. Not to mention that they are Blinding Flashes of the Obvious.

For example, a few days back I read a study that said unemployment increases stress.

Er, hello? I can, like, tell you that without having to interview retrenched workers.

Today's The Sun newspaper had a couple of BFotO researches:
  • "Men and women who describe themselves as nervous or anxious seem to be more likely than their calmer counterparts to be hospitalised at some point for a suicide attempt, according to a study involving adults in Sweden."

  • "Occupational exposure to substances that trigger asthma can affect the severity of the disease, according to a report from France."

In other weird news as reported by The Sun, 29/8/2005:
  • World's first toilet college: Set up by the World Toilet Organization, this college aims to improve the lavatory washing skills of cleaners. Zemien says that you better not diss toilet cleaners from now on - he or she may have a degree while you don't.

  • PAS blames police for trouble: Regarding the ruckus in Kuala Nerus, Terrenganu PAS commissioner Datuk Mustafa Ali said, "Police action was the cause of the disturbance. Police were not friendly as stated in their slogan." Zemien agrees, and says that police should now ask, "Can I arrest you now? Please?" before handcuffing suspected terrorists.

Hmm, I loved doing this post. I'll definitely do it again in the future. Stay tuned for the next episode of... Blinding Flashes of the Obvious.

Why I Don't Do Lunches Part 2

This is an unexpected sequel to the original post.

I was to meet Dad for lunch after running some errands for him. He asked me to drive his Peugeot 406 to pick him up as he complained that my car's air con is not cold. I am more than willing to, so at 12pm I drove in to his office.

He took the wheels and picked up two more of his acquaintences, one a remisier and another a banker. We had lunch at an old coffee shop in town, and just as we left it started raining heavily. It has been a cloudy and rainy weekend, and I'm quite thankful for the cooling effect it has on the temperature. At any rate, we headed back to the bank where my father's friend worked coz he had some banking to do. He parked at a nearby parking lot, and he completed his things.

We (Dad, his other friend, and I) went back to our car. It was still drizzling then, so the three of us huddled under a single large umbrella. We went in the car and Dad started the engine. Well, at least, he *tried*. All the car gave was a heaving puff before dying. The car won't start.

In the middle of the rain.

Dad called on his banker friend to drive his car around to jump start the battery as a dead battery is usually the problem. But it isn't, as now the car didn't even bother to heave and puff even with the battery wired up. With things looking bleaker (both figuratively and literally), Dad called on his mechanic. The mechanic was still having lunch so we had to wait in a nearby coffeeshop till 3pm. In the meantime, the banker sent the remisier back to his office as the stock market is about to resume. To keep myself occupied I read today's copy of The Sun from cover to cover while Dad planned the rescue operation. Even in that state of distress, I managed to spot a few interesting things in The Sun, and I'll write about that in the next post.

Anyway, the final plan was to ask his banker friend to take him back to his office, where he'll drive the company car and pick up the mechanic. He did that, and after looking through the engine, the mechanic deduced that it is probably caused by a faulty starter. This happened before, and there is no choice but to tow the car back to the workshop. Dad then sent me back home, and by the time I entered my room it was almost 4pm. The Peugeot is probably still at the parking lot right now.

Dad must be pretty frustrated right now at the recent turn of events, but he remained quite calm with me (but not the mechanic). For my part, I didn't pester my father and just went along with what he said. I kept very quiet and just tried to read the newspaper, never once offering my opinion of what he should do. In hindsight, it was quite good that it rained. Although I got slightly soaked, I prefer being soaked with rain than soaked with sweat, which is what might happen if it were a sunny afternoon.

28 August 2005

Forbidden Food

I went to see my Buddhist friends at Dhammikarama Burmese Temple today. I've been quite disconnected with them as it's been long since I went there, but it's good to see them doing well. KJ's mother even baked brownies for us! I had 3 pieces of the strong and thick cake. Now, for those who know me well will be shocked (and I mean SHOCKED) that I ate chocolate cake. This is because I'm very succeptible to sore throats, so I usually avoid the Three C's. And what are they?

Zemien's 3 C's:
  1. Curry

  2. Chocolate

  3. Coffee

It's quite difficult to avoid those foods, so I keep myself in check by establishing a weekly quota. In a single week, I can only have three instances of the 3 C's. I'll be inviting trouble if I exceed. I usually extend this quota to deep fried food as well, like KFC or other spicy food.

I still have curry now and then, but I cannot, and I *swear*, I cannot remember the last time I had chocolate and coffee. I think the last time I had Milo, which is only a mild chocolate, was over 8 months ago! And don't even get me started on coffee. I used to love iced coffee but my sore throats changed all that. Now I get my caffeine from tea.

Anyway, after that I went with Dad and some of his friends to the Tzu Chi Merit Society's food fair. Tzu Chi is a freakingly huge Buddhist association from Taiwan, and they organize a lot of programmes that help people. One of their commendable projects is the dialysis centre that provides free or subsidized treatments to diabetics. Plus, they have a lot of spirited and dedicated supporters who pour in money and time. Unlike most fund-raisers that donate the proceeds of the event, Tzu Chi fund-raisers usually donate every cent collected. That means the cost of preparing the food is borne entirely by supporters. That's just impressive.

A Familiar Face

Dad and I had dinner at All Right, a western food place at the junction of Burmah Road and Jones Road. It is hands down one of the best western food stores. Their grilled salmon tastes great at only RM13. I had braised lamb shank, which was equally good, at RM13.50. Their soups are also one-of-a-kind.

We then went over to Gurney Plaza. Though the hottest mall in Penang now, I'm getting a bit tired of it since I've already been here 4 times for the past 2 weeks. But Dad wanted to check out some cameras at the Photo Fest so I tagged along anyway. We stopped by the Fuji booths and one of their sales guy came up to us and peddled Fuji's latest cameras. He was mostly talking to Dad as I stepped aside, but I kept exchanging glances with the salesguy, and he did the same. After about 2 minutes of looking at their cameras, he asked me, "Did you go to St. Xaviers?"

I was slightly taken aback. Do I know him? I replied that I did go to St. Xaviers primary school, and he said he remembered me. I looked at him a bit longer but I couldn't put a name to his face. In fact, I don't even recall his face! But we did chat a bit and apparently we were in the same class during primary. I asked for his name, but I couldn't hear it over the blabber of the huge crowd. We talked a little more about what we were doing currently and then I parted ways. We didn't exchange contact information, and I am wondering, should I have? I doubt there would be much to talk about anyway, especially since I don't remember him.

But I'm glad that I made a lasting impression on someone, enough to make him remember me after 8 years. Would I be able to do the same for my old friends? I hope so - it's the least I could do.

27 August 2005


Some of my old classmates have gained entry into Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM). There are disputes pertaining to USM's correct English name, so I'll just stick with USM. Anyway, I asked them to take me on a tour around campus. It occupies a really large area so I thought there must be plenty to see. However, the tour lasted around 10 minutes of me driving around and them pointing our their lecture halls, library, hostel blocks, sports hall, swimming pool, etc. It might have lasted more than 10 minutes, I dunno, as I was frantically trying to listen to them while trying not to kill pedestrians. This ain't GTA, ya know!

I went into one of their rooms. It happened to be a very, very old block (Aman Damai) and it was quite an eye sore. Worse, the furniture inside the room is badly used and reeks of ancientness. Lighting is dim, and ventilation is provided by a small ceiling fan. At this point, I am eternally thankful for:

  • being able to choose my own room and roommate

  • having decent furniture in my room

  • a common bathroom big enough without having to cramp

But I believe the newer blocks are much much better.

26 August 2005

An Operation of Avian Proportions

An excerpt from The Star (25/8/2005):


One way to rid Penang of pornographic DVDs and VCDs is to charge both the buyer and the seller of such discs.

Penang police have launched an operation codenamed Ops Ostrich to rid the state of smut...

I'm fine with the fact that they want to keep illegal stuff away from minors, but I'm perplexed as to why they named the operation as Ops Ostrich.

Seriously - Ops Ostrich.

Can someone please rationalize the use of 'ostrich'? Please? Did they really run out of names to use? Were they munching on ostrich burgers while thinking up the name?

Maybe when they do an operation to check on illegal wet market price hikes they can call it Ops Chicken Wing.

What Did You Say Your Name Was?

I don’t know what happened, but I woke up one morning to find that foreign operatic singers have taken over the local music scene. Since when did listening to moving renditions of songs that we don’t understand became the next Big Thing? Siti Nurhaliza sure didn’t see that coming.

The worse part is how difficult their names are to pronounce. I’m talking, of course, about new sensations Il Divo and Patrizio Buanne. Say what? Eel Dee-voh and Pear-tree-zeeoh Boo-ehn. What? Are you saying that’s not how I should pronounce it? Well, as long as I don’t understand a hoot of what they’re singing, I don’t really care.

I saw the MTV of Il Divo’s Spanish rendition of ‘Unbreak My Heart’, and I had to suppress my laughter. Excuse me, but where’s the heartbreaking part?

Two days ago, Mum passed me Patrizio Buanne’s CD and I converted them to Ogg media. I must say he sounds really great, but the songs just can’t stick in my head. Frequently cited as the next Engelbert Humperdink, he sure has a lot to offer, but nothing that I fancy. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not an oldies basher. In fact, you’d be hard pressed to find another 20 year old who loves Swing. No, not Java Swing, but swing as in Frank Sinatra, Michael Buble, and Jamie Cullum. It’s just that hearing them shout out their lungs without breaking a sweat makes one feel so, so…, damn inadequate, you know?

24 August 2005

What a Mouthful!

This is probably the funniest not-supposed-to-be-funny message box that I've seen in my entire life:

Damn ironic, if you ask me.

Treading On Nails

I have a love-hate relationship with giving relationship advice.

On one hand, I lurrve giving (unqualified) relationship advice to my troubled friends, which is what I was doing this morning with Kenneth. He's in the usual rut after an argument and I'm just doing my duty as a friend to console him and tell him to stay strong. I just have an affinity towards dispensing advice, even though I have virtually no experience myself.

On the other hand, giving the wrong advice can lead to catastrophic results. Sometimes, giving any advice can lead to catastrophic results. Consider the following possiblities with troubled partners A & E:

  1. I tell A to go back to E, but E breaks up with A. A now hates me for giving wrong advice.

  2. I tell A to break up with E, but they remained a couple. Now E thinks I'm trying to drive them apart, and influences A to avoid me.

  3. I tell A to go back to E, and they remain as a couple for a while before finally breaking up anyway. Now when I console A, I have to lie and take a different position - thus affecting my reputation.

It just seems to be a lose-lose situation, being an advisor. Therefore, I sometimes choose to shut up, but I'm helping Kenneth this time as I want to have faith in love too.

In the meantime, I Googled that popular phrase "He is not the man I fell in love with" and got some pretty strange results.

23 August 2005

Back On My Feet

After the last depressing post, I'm happily back on my feet and joyfully treading the road of bachelorhood. Things took an upward turn today as I visited Kenneth and poked fun at him and generally being in a crazy mood. The fantastic weather helped as well. I'm done with all the PC maintenance tasks that kept me busy over the past 5 days, and it's time to move on to other projects.

22 August 2005

Pet Peeves & Loneliness

Each one of us have our pet peeves - those little naggling things that we can't seem to put down. For me, mismanagement is definitely my biggest pet peeve. My mood is spoiled whenever I'm participating in an event/activity/party/occasion that is so obviously mismanaged. I'm a perfectionist, and I just can't let these small little issues go.

Anyway, my dinner with Dad tonight was badly mismanaged by someone else. I won't go into details, but we ended up having dinner at The Ship in Batu Ferringhi with some of his friends. Usually at these dinners I find myself listening to other people and barely able to make conversation with the other adults. Heck, I'm barely able to chat with the other teenagers there whom I've known for some time!

During such events, I am filled with a sense of loneliness. Here's 11 people, all talking merrily with each other, and there I am, sitting by the corner as an observer. I scrolled through my phone address book to find someone interesting to message, but I couldn't. It is a painful reminder that I need to find a significant other. Even if it's for no other reason than to keep me company during these insignificant events. That's pretty selfish, I know, but I don't mind doing the same in return. In my blog header (above) you will see that one of the topics I planned to blog about is my love life. But if you look through the archives, you won't find anything about it because I have none. It's just depressing.

Lonely, I'm so lonely... I have nobody, to call my own....

21 August 2005


I was invited, as the MBS webmaster, to attend the Class of '64 Reunion. There were two sessions, one in the morning, and the other at night. The one in the morning was held in school, while the dinner function was held at Cititel Penang. While attending both events, I sort of became the official photographer and started snapping everyone's pics while they mingled.

During those few hours I was inspired by their love for the alma mater. I enjoyed seeing them hugging each other, trading friendly jabs, and sharing stories of their schooldays. I wondered if I will recognize all my old classmates when I attend my own reunion in 2042? I shudder to think of those wrinkled faces and pot bellies I have to encounter then.

But as I said, I'm inspired. So much so that I'll pour my energy into improving the school website again, which I've neglected for the better part of this year. Adios!

20 August 2005

Mission Accomplished

I did not post anything this past couple of days because I was really busy with a couple of things. First, Dad's Toshiba laptop konked out and I had to reformat the hard drive. And knowing him, I had to make it as foolproof as possible so a lot of time was spent just sitting there and watching installation bars fill up.

Secondly, Kenneth's PC also konked out. The difference is that he has some important photos (ahem) to backup before he reformats it, and I had been asked to help. It was supposed to be a simple operation - my original plan was to remove his hard drive and plug it into the external HDD enclosure. Then I would use my laptop to read his files and get them out. However, we hit a snag when we couldn't access his user folder. This is a security feature in Windows XP that will lock out user folders away from prying eyes.

With it, things got messier and I had to take the hard drive home. I scoured the Web for resources that will help me break the security and a lot of them required some pretty tedious tricks. In the end, I got lucky and found NTFS Reader, a software that allows Windows 9x users to read NTFS drives, regardless of security settings. I was grinning from ear to ear as I finally got everything out and did a maniacal laugh: MUAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

19 August 2005

Nucleatic Meltdown

My college friends (David, Albert, Joey, Amy, Grace, and Linda) came to Penang yesterday. Well, actually Amy is a Penangite, so she doesn't really count. We didn't have any definite plans so we just kinda went along with it. I wanted to write an elaborate post about how much fun we had, but I can't coz I didn't really. I hate an unorganized trip, and no adjective can describe this visit better. Unorganized.

There was a lot of driving around aimlessly with no clear leader. I didn't want to take charge as this is a trip for the outstation friends, so I let them decide where to go. There were a few highlights of the trip. Yesterday evening we went over to Sungai Petani where Joey stays. He took us to Caveman BBQ, a unique BBQ park where u buy the food from a counter and then go off to a tranquil spot and give the sausages a nice carboned exterior. Of course, it's tranquil for me as I didn't get any mosquito bites, but I can't say as much for the others.

Entrance to Caveman BBQ
Entrace to Caveman BBQ

By this afternoon, it was getting boring having them around, and there were some unspoken tensions between some members of our group. I tiredly, but happily, waved them goodbye as I sent them off. Geez, I must remind myself to not go on long trips with them.

16 August 2005

Why I Don't Do Lunches

I'm very reluctant when it comes to having lunch with anybody, even if Dad is treating me to some high-class, exclusive, The View buffet. This is true even in college, where I prefer to have my meals alone than with the gang. Today, I traced back the reason why.

It just takes too damn long.

It's not the people I'm eating with and it's not the food, it's just going out for lunch wastes a lot of productive time. For example, lunch with Dad today took two hours. We didn't exactly eat for two hours, but the waiting time, the navigating through heavy traffic, and various pit-stops along the way extended lunch time way beyond it's usual limits. I'd rather ta pau a simple lunch from the store, drop in my seat and finish eating in 10 minutes, with or without friends.

Sigh, I'm so rat-race adjusted, I hate myself.

15 August 2005

Not Very Bewitching

I helped Kenneth out in some computer related stuff, so he treated me to lunch and movie today. We arrived at GSC late, so we watched the 2.45 screening of Bewitched first.

I know, Bewitched. It was his treat, so I let him choose the show to watch. But it's a dry week anyway, besides Bewitched there were only a handful of other shows that barely made the Decent rating in my Suck-O-Meter.

Bewitched scored itself a respectable 25 over 100. Most jokes fell flat on Nicole's pretty little face, but it's obvious Will Ferrel is the (not-so) funny man here. Micheal Caine is once again stuck in the same stereotypical role he has been playing for the, what, past decade?

After the show we went to Chopper Board for lunner (lunch+dinner). Kenneth has never been there before! I can't believe that! I also found out that Kim Gary has opened at Gurney. Alex said that it'll be impossible for Kim Gary to open in Penang, but he is finally proven wrong! Their Cheese Baked Rice is a great deal, try it out if you can. I believe the set is only RM10.90.

And The Journey Begins

I went to a charity concert tonight for the benefit of the Penang Adventist Hospital's Dr. J. Earl Gardner Fund. This new fund is set up to pay for the needy's treatment bills. The concert itself is called "And The Journey Begins..." and is performed by kids and adults from Crestar and Digital Music, among others. I didn't know anything about the concert prior to it as it was Dad who got the RM20 tickets. The concert was held at Dewan Sri Pinang, the only decent auditorium in Penang, although it is already very old.

The actual concert is very short - less than an hour if I might guess. It was supposed to start at 7pm but the VVIPs arrived unfashionably late around 7.45pm. Worse, it was followed by 15 minutes of excruciating speeches. I propose that to qualify for the title of Datuk (equiv. to Sir), candidates must join a local Toastmasters chapter. Reading from large A4 sheets, avoiding eye contact, and speaking in a monotonous tone are mistakes that State Assemblymen should not make. And I don't even need to name names, just randomly pick one and you'd just be about right.

Oops, I guess I got carried away. Anyway, the concert started. The children performers did their work quite well, considering that this is probably their first public performance. Some of the adults are lamer as they are supposed to be much better than the children. The interpretive dances are quite boring, as I'm not much for interpreting, but the musical pieces and choirs are quite engaging. Performances that I liked were Lift Up Your Heart (Nurses of Penang Adventist Hospital Choir), The Messiah-Hallelujah (Penang Seventh-day Adventist Church Choir), and Elan (Secret Garden of Digital Music).

My personal favourite was Elan. The group, Secret Garden, fuses Celtic and Classical music, creating a pleasing combination. I personally have an affinity with Celtic music and especially Irish culture - my favourite group is The Corrs, and my chosen English name has an Irish root (which I didn't know when I chose it).

Oops, I guess I got carried away again. In the middle of the concert, a multimedia presentation showed the life and work of Dr. J. Earl Gardner, the founder of what was to be Penang Adventist Hotel. Then a donation drive was carried out. That's right, a donation drive in the auditorium. Wedding cake boxes were passed around for people to donate. I personally gave RM10, a small contribution to a good cause. But the presentation and donation drive took up almost 30 minutes. The concert continued with the second half, and by 9.30pm the performers were closing the event with "We Are Family". So if you did the calculation, the actual singing, dancing, acting, and playing spanned less than an hour. I know you are too lazy to count, so just trust me.

Anyway, I am reminded again that I cannot attend artistic performances or even the movies with Dad. In the middle of the performance while people are concentrating on the nuances of the music or dance, he would lean over and make some inane comments about the performance. It's annoying as hell and I chose to ignore him most of the time. I don't mind talking in between the performances, but please, just pay attention to the performers while they are doing their thing!

14 August 2005

What A Night!

Dad and I went out to Bukit Jambul Complex, hoping to buy a wireless router. Our original plan was to go to Prangin Mall, but I did some recon work last night and was disappointed with the choices there. Some stalls simply quoted a price, as if I'm some tech noob.

Anyway, Bukit Jambul was certainly more vibrant and with a lot more IT stores as well. I found what I was looking for - a D-Link DI-624+. A friend recommended Linksys instead, citing a personal prejudice towards D-Link, but when you come down to it, they are all just chips and circuit boards. The best part was the guy quoted us a fair price, similar to Low Yat pricing. Since Low Yat Plaza is a very competitive place, all their prices are quite low. If the guy here can quote us a similar price, that means I do not have to bargain or haggle. Dad paid the RM210 on the spot, and I walked away happier.

I was in a good mood, so I challenged Dad to a game of snooker. I knew I would lose though, as he has started playing since 14. Surprisingly I put in quite a good fight, but Dad has given me a handicap by not going for easy shots. After that we walked around some more, and he surprised me by suggesting we go to Tesco next. I was, like, "Wow, I guess you still have that in you, Dad." We rarely go to two shopping malls in a night for no apparent reason.

At any rate, it's impossible to walk out of a hypermarket empty-handed. I mean, some stuff there are just too cheap! I got a Tesco bolster because the one I'm using now is seriously lame. The pillow I got there was exceptional, so I have high expectations for this as well. I also bought (with Dad's $$$ of course) a RM17.90 kettle. I really can't stand the weird water odour from my hostel's water fountain, so I'm going to boil some water from now on.

Before going home, we stopped by for a light supper of satay. If this lifestyle goes on I'm going to baloon back to my original weight.

13 August 2005

The Island Haze

I rescind my last post - I luurrvve Penang! It's such a great place with blue skies, green hills, and friendly people! I'm so proud to be a Penangite!

....Of course, I'm only saying that to appease the Haze Gods. Apparently, haze is settling upon this idyllic (not!) little island. I thought I had left it all behind in college, but friends are already accusing me of bringing back the haze.

The Island is not a bad movie, it's just... boring. It starts out quite slow with an interesting premise, and moves on to an explosive end. Unfortunately, I caught myself glancing at the watch every 15 minutes - not a good thing for an actioneer. The first 45 minutes are quite slow but handled quite well. The idea of the clones is chillingly human, and something that I suspect will be possible in the future. We then move on to the action part, which is filled with a lot of running, some car chases, more running and some more chasing. I read a review that said The Island had a great car chase rivalling that of The Italian Job.

My question is: where?

Director Michael Bay is obviously running out of idea, that's why he just made the characters run. The car chase scenes reminded me too much of Bad Boys II, another Michael Bay effort. The action is packed like sardines. Old sardines, that is. I would rate an action movie as 'mediocre' if I was bored enough to keep looking at the time. And time moved reaaall slow in there. I can't believe a movie like this takes up more than 2 hours!

And I suspect Mr. Bay relied on advertising to fund this movie. I saw product branding for the following (in no particular order): Amtrak, MSN, X-Box, Tag Heuer, GMC, Chevrolet, Nokia, Calvin Klein, Reebok, and probably some others that I don't remember.

In the end, there were only two things I liked about The Island: the futuristic city visualization, and the idea of the story.

12 August 2005

Deja Vu

Everytime I come back to Penang, I get a shock and remember the reason why I left it in the first place - the congestion. Not just cars, but people, things, and happenings. My diary is congested with appointments with a lot of people involving a lot of things, which in turn need me to get stuck between a lot of cars. Penang is a seriously cramped place, and I always go back to college with a happy heart, knowing that soon I'll be in a quiet place with simple obligations and much less traffic.

I'm at a loss of things to write as I'm at a loss of what to do. I mean, meeting with old friends hardly make for an exciting blog entry as most of our conversations are private. I went to my alma mater today and was glad at all the infrastructure improvements made since the last time I was there. I chatted with some teachers and nabbed myself an invitation to a reunion dinner next Saturday (Class of '65!). Sure, it's a group of old hags but I need to take some photos for the school website.

Later tonight I have a movie appointment with Jason for "The Island". It hasn't really been rated very good, but it's the best thing to catch compared to, say... "Bewitched"?

Home Sweet Home

...along with other corny lines such as "Home is where the heart is".

Albert and I began our journey at 6am sharp this morning. We made good speed, but we encountered a small RM30 trouble along the way. At any rate, I reached my home at 10.30am, a record-breaking achievement, if I may say so. I was detecting some strange noises from the car, but as they say, it ain't Proton if there's no sound.

I was shocked to see that my alma mater had begun constructing their new block. No one told me about it at all! Even more shocking was that the coconut tree in our garden has started bearing fruits! It is very shocking because this is the first time it bore fruits since we first planted it 10 years ago. Yup, you read that right - 10 years to produce 5 coconuts. If we operated a coconut plantation we would have gone under years ago.

My room has largely remained unchanged - which is good. The notable addition to my house was the new Streamyx service. I applied for Streamyx last year, and it finally came after months upon months of waiting. I'll be accompanying Dad to get a wireless router this Saturday so we can have our own Hotspot! But for now we have to trade turns using the ADSL modem. I tried establishing an ad-hoc network using 2 wireless cards, with Dad's laptop linked to the ADSL modem, but our two laptops just refused to talk to each other.

If you didn't understand that last sentence, it's OK.

10 August 2005


Test is over, test is over!!

Time for packing up! I'll be leaving this haze-infested town for the next 3 weeks. Today the haze was worse - the hills not far away have actually disappeared! But I don't care as I'll be driving off tomorrow morning.

I'm as excited as a gleeful schoolgirl on the day of her first date.

I Am In Deep Manure

The test today was harder than I expected. Of all the flashcards I made, only 30% had any relevance to the exam. I totally screwed up this test, and I may have to face the bitter truth that my streak of A's have finally come to a disgraceful end. There is still hope for an 'A', if the marker is lenient and the answers that I crapped were correct after all. After I finished the test I did an evaluation of a best-case and worst-case scenario. If I am reasonably optimistic I'll get an 'A'. If I'm not then I'll get a 'B'. Of course, a 'B' is not the end of the world, but it will forever doom my CGPA to always be < 4. That sucks.

Plus, my shoulders and neck are aching like hell. Gonna apply some Deep Heat ointment after shower. I gotta make sure I don't repeat this mistake for tomorrow's final exam.

09 August 2005

What Kind of Kisser Are You?

Even though I've only kissed twice (*shy*), I'm proud to get this rating:

Part Expert Kisser

You're a kissing pro, but it's all about quality and not quantity
You've perfected your kissing technique and can knock anyone's socks off
And you're adaptable, giving each partner what they crave
When it comes down to it, your kisses are truly unforgettable

Part Passionate Kisser

For you, kissing is about all about following your urges
If someone's hot, you'll go in for the kiss - end of story
You can keep any relationship hot with your steamy kisses
A total spark plug - your kisses are bound to get you in trouble

I do wonder why they had to use those kissing pictures. So inappropriate, if you know what I mean.

I'm Hard To Please

Study in room... too hot and distracting

Study at McDonalds... too noisy

Sleep... peace at last

(Pictures taken with David's new O2 camera phone)

08 August 2005

Out of Commission

This morning's exam was OK, shouldn't be a problem at all. When I took a break to the restroom at 9am, it was a clear day but by 10.30am, it was already hazy and stinking like mad! I kept reminding myself to only breathe through my nose, as I have a confirmed sore throat. I'll try battling this one out as it seems minor.

As I'll be focusing solely on my exams, expect no updates for the next couple of days.

07 August 2005

The Quest For Dequadin

I'm not sure if it's due to the haze or to natural causes, but my tonsils are feeling a little itchy today. This is a symptom I must eradicate as soon as possible, especially with my exams tomorrow. I was out of Dequadin, those weak little orange lozenges that I used to suck to provide some relief. It won't cure sorethroats, but it does help sometimes. So I drove out to my favourite pharmacy to get it.

Upon reaching the place 10 minutes later, it was closed, so I drove on to the supermarket where they have it. Correction, had it. I was so disappointed to find out they didn't have any left. At any rate, I took the chance to get some milk and yogurt, and then headed off to two other pharmacies I knew. Closed.

I keep forgetting that in a small town like this, convenience stores never open on Sundays. Dejected, I went into 7-11 and bought Strepsils. Strepsils is the weakest lozenges I've ever seen. And it's full of marketing hyperbole. They have a variety of types, such as Vitamin-C, Extra Strong, Sugar Free, and Regular. I of course went for the Extra Strong but was curious as to what made it 'extra'. Apparently, nothing. If you turn over the packet/box and see the active ingredients, they all contain the same amount of antiseptic. That's just sad.

(My other favourite lozenge is Pharynx as they contain Benzocaine to make your throat numb, which is similar to Difflam - another expensive and overrated lozenge)

06 August 2005

The Haze As I See It

Click for larger view (JPG, 88KB):

Rain, Rain, Come Again

Why did the raining season suddenly stop just as Sumatera burst into flames? The haze is flowing in thickly, though not as bad as some spots in the Klang Valley. David is allergic to anything related to dust, and he's now averaging 2-3 sneezes per minute. I've asked him to use a face mask like me, but he said he's sensitive to tissue too.

If this goes on till tomorrow, he's going to be David the Red Nosed Baboon.

(UPDATE: After I finished typing the above, David had an anti-histamine pill [Cetirizine HCl])

It's Starting To Get To Me

These past few days of notes-making and birthday-celebrating is starting to take its toll. I'm beginning to feel tired most of the time, even after I just woke up. I have 5 more days of trooping to go, and it's time I unveiled my secret weapons (no, not those).

The first, and the most basic, is Brand's Essence of Chicken. A standard arsenal in student's fight to stay alert, it has a small effect on me. I think it generally gives me more vitality (in studying, mind you), but it doesn't do the magic of the my Ace card.

The best traditional drink that I take is the ginseng-like tea. It isn't exactly ginseng but I was told it is closely related. I don't know the chinese name nor the english name; all I know is that it works wonders within the first 5 minutes you have your first cuppa. If I continue replenishing the water and consume it for the whole day, I find that my mind is always bright and clear even though the body is tired. Kinda like being on high... a good high, that is. It's pretty costly, but Dad got a great bargain when we were holidaying in China 4 months ago. I only drink it when it's truly necessary, so I'll probably take one piece out for Monday.

On another note, I'm beginning to get hooked on to Anna Nalick. Her songs (and voice) are a cross between Avril Lavigne and Alanis Morissette. Why do all female rockers have 'A' names? However, I like her better than the other 2 as her songs have less angst and usually more meaning. She just doesn't go off blasting other people or putting down her ex-boyfriends, and some of her slow songs are just beautiful. Take the chorus for "In My Head", for example:

In my head,
Your voice,
You've got all that I need,
And this make believe
will get me through
another lonely night.

She really yells out the lyrics but I feel so mellow when I hear those sad lyrics. Isn't it strange how we sometimes rely on our loved ones to comfort us, even though they're not here anymore? I know I do. The rest of the lyrics bring much more depth to the song, so I suggest you look out for her.

05 August 2005

Birthdays and Betrayals

Last night (11.30pm) just as I was about to drive out to get some drinks for the surprise party, a friend messaged me on MSN. This particular friend has a way of coming online at the precise moment I had to leave! But he said he has something to tell me, so I stayed back and let him type. What came out next had me flabbergasted. I can't reveal the actual details here, but it boils down to him playing a sick joke on me for the past one month, and now he's apologizing. I feel so betrayed, coz I was really worried that time. And now he's telling me it was something that went on for too long? My friend's birthday is 25 minutes from now and I suddenly had this shit pie thrown at my face. I really wanted to know the reasons behind that joke, and I'm not entirely sure if this apology is the joke to throw me off, but either way, it wasn't funny. I had to go get the drinks, so I excused myself, leaving behind someone I thought was a friend.

I went to get the drinks as planned. OK, maybe I was 15 minutes late but I got the job done and I rushed back. I've never really done such a surprise before, you know, like waiting in a dark room and then greeting the birthday boy as he walks into the room. But that's what we did, and it was more suspenseful than I thought! Alvin's rommmate has already got him secured in another room, and the guys there were keeping him company. We got the candles lit up and the signal was sent for Alvin to come in. For a while, he didn't... apparently he didn't want to leave the other room! The candles were melting, so Jay (Alvin's rommmate) was starting to panic.

But Alvin finally came in, and we launched into the birthday song! He was really surprised, being shirtless and all, and he grinned happily as we blew out the candles on his two cakes. When I asked him later, he said he had no inkling of our plans and was truly surprised. I guess I was wrong, surprises do happen to some. At any rate, it was a birthday party alright... we even had a magician! Kelvin, an aspiring street magician, did a few card and coin tricks, generally wowing everyone.

I was also proven wrong about the 2 cakes - 9 people can finish them! I had two slices of the Apple Filling cake and it was as good as I thought! I didn't have the chocolate cake although it looked good - I know my limits. Anyway, we finished around 1.30am, and I didn't sleep till 2.15am to let the sugars wear off a bit. Here's a group photo during the cake cutting ceremony:

To protect privacy, I had to shield everyone's faces except the birthday boy. Ain't he cute? ^_^ Actually, there was no need to blur my face as my pic is already here, but I was so messy then (old shirt, unkempt hair, oily face, unshaven chin) that I prefer to hide under those square pixels.

Bagan Lalang Postcard

This is the postcard I created to commemorate my tyre that was punctured at Bagan Lalang (check back last Saturday's post for full story). You can click on the thumbnail for a big sized version (115KB), suitable for desktop wallpaper! keke...

My Wish For My Birthday

Tomorrow is Alvin's birthday. Alvin is a coursemate, and our friendship has gradually improved over the past year. And for his birthday this year, some of us (Alvin's friends) planned to give him a surprise party. Well, surprise parties usually never turn out to be great surprises. I mean, it's your birthday, whad'ya expect? But anyway, we bought two 1/2 kg cakes to celebrate later at 12am. I'm leaving the task of planning the surprise to his room mate, so I don't have to bother so much as long as I pop my head around at the right time.

I'll update you guys with some pictures later, as I want to write about something else this post. Everytime I celebrate a birthday party, I get a little depressed. No, I'm not depressed about the increasing digits, but rather, how I usually celebrate my birthdays. Unfortunately for me, my birthday falls somewhere in December, and that means that all my friends are not around. Back in school, it was due to the long holiday, and now it is due to our long semester break.

What this means is that I have no room mates to surprise me, no birthday candles to blow, and no cake to eat. In fact, I don't remember the last time I had a birthday cake with my name on it! I think it must be when I was 5, when my parents got one for me and celebrated with a few other family members. Looking back, that was sad. But at least I had a cake.

My birthdays for the past few years are usually celebrated with a few thoughtful SMSes from close friends (maybe one or two cards), and birthday meals with Dad and Mum, separately. That's it. I mean, I'm not expecting us to go to McDonalds and frolic in the playground while clutching baloons, but still, I had always wished for a real surprise. You know, even my birthday present is negotiated with Dad! Where's the thrill?

So, for my 20th birthday this year, I wish that I can be truly surprised by a birthday cake and some close friends, or if possible, a significant other. If you know me personally, and you know my birthday, then keep this post in mind. Really, give me a surprise that I'll remember a lifetime (or at least 355 days) so I'll stop whining about this anymore.

04 August 2005

Roadtrip Pictures Uploaded

Just to inform you that I've uploaded two pictures of the roadtrip to the original post. I have one more Photoshopped postcard to upload, that will take some time to do.

Back to the books.

A Sense of Normalcy

Since the Hotspot was crippled, I couldn't do much work. But service has resumed today and I feel liberated!! Chat programs can connect, files can upload, and webpages can show. Finally, a sense of normalcy.

I've formally began studying for my finals next week, but that hasn't been going really well. I only managed to make 4 flash cards today, and I spent the rest of the time chatting and surfing. Not exactly studying, no?

I'll upload the pics from the Bagan Lalang roadtrip soon. I'll tell you guys when, k? Must... go... study...

03 August 2005

The Haze Is Gone

I woke up this morning at 6.56am to see a calm day outside. Suddenly, at 6.57am, a strong gush of wind blew. As in, so strong that the tree outside my window is swaying from left to right, and that ain't no palm tree!

What followed next was 20 minutes of the heaviest rain I've ever seen. The strong winds and heavy rain were impressive, but it didn't last long. The most important thing, however, was that it helped clear the haze. I'm lucky it did, as I already felt a little uncomfortable in my throat, and I had to resort to improvising a face mask from a Pizza Hut serviette.

Don't ask.

Anyway, to celebrate the demise of the haze, I'll now rap "The Haze Is Gone".

Just kidding!

02 August 2005

Guess Who's Back?

The haze is back,
the haze is back,
and I never thought I would see him again.

Clogging my eyes,
Then my nose,
Who would have thought, the haze is back.

Used to rain daily,
And then weekly,
All that is gone, the haze is back.

My eyes go watery,
My voice goes raspy,
It's all because, the haze is back.

I am so not Eminem.

Scrabble Spoiled Sleep

I'm not sure why, but lately I've been addicted to playing scrabble on my Palm. It's a little small, but the AI is great and provides 15 minutes of word fun. Though, I think I've taken it too far. I played two games before sleep last night, and as I began to drift off to sleep, I dreamt of playing scrabble! I actually dreamt about arranging words to fit the board. As I was still in a sub-conscious mode I pulled myself out from the slumber. And then when I began to slip off into nothingness, it happened again!

I was really annoyed, and this happened several times until David switched off the lights sometime later. As a consequence, I slept till 9 this morning.

01 August 2005

Tired Tires

I'm always confused between 'tyre' and 'tire', as they are both widely accepted here in Malaysia. Well, a rose is a rose by any other name, and my roses tires need to be changed.

So, at about 11am I, along with Joey (a car enthusiast) and David (a roommate) went to this tire shop frequented by Joey. My original car tires are Michelin, so I was looking for that same model. Unfortunately, this workshop does not stock Michelin tires, and he recommended Bridgestone Turanza tires. It was about RM124, so I called Dad. What ensued next was close to a pandemonium. I could not make decisions without Dad's final word, and I could not negotiate properly with him shouting down the other line. It was a deadlock, and my phone battery indicator was at 1 bar - never a good sign.

In the end, the plan was to change all 4 tires to Bridgestone as the front ones were wearing out. Dad advised me to ask for free balancing and alignment, but not for discount on the tires themselves. The boss did not want to give free alignment (RM12), but decided to shave off RM1.50 per tire (duh). It came out to around RM508. Just before I closed the deal, Dad called back again and asked me about the tubing. Apparently, some cunning businessmen will consider them separate. He was right - they want to charge us RM4 per tube! Dad said that was ridiculous and the highest he should charge is RM2. Joey helped me to negotiate, as Dad doesn't realize I can't haggle while on the phone! The boss will only go down to RM3 for the tube, and Dad reluctantly (and noisily) agreed. But I wasn't really satisfied with the current offer, so Joey suggested we go to another shop. Since there's no harm in asking, and I needed to withdraw money as well, we left the shop.

Another tire shop was barely 100 meters away, and we stopped there to ask. To my relief, they have Michelin tires, and the same model as mine too. I called back Dad, and told him about the RM125 price. He asked me to change the 2 front tires and 1 rear tire, while keeping the spare. He reminded me about the tube again, and I asked the boss. He offered to throw in the tube, plus alignment and balancing at no extra charge, provided we give him all the tires we changed. I checked back with Dad again, and my phone cut off several times due to power shortage. But he agreed it was a reasonable deal, and I closed it on the spot.

So, 2 hours, 2 shops, and 1 lunch later, I paid the RM375 and drove on home. I wouldn't have managed it without Joey, and er..., well, David has his place as well I guess.

A Reversal of Roles

For the first time today, I woke up just as David returned from his class.

It usually happens the other way round.


This afternoon, after cleaning the room, David told me about this scenic beach his photography friends wrote about. It's supposed to be quite close to KLIA, and I was a little surprised, as KLIA is surrounded by dry land. The place is called Bagan Lalang, Sepang. I Googled it and saw that it faced the Straits of Malacca, which was about halfway to Subang Jaya from our place. David was planning to go and he asked me along.

Shockingly, I said 'Yes'.

Now, those who know me will know that I'm a solid, down-to-earth person. I don't go running off to places I've never been before, especially without the presence of someone who knows the way.

And yet, I said 'Yes'.

5 minutes later and I'm in my car with David, Albert, and Grace, heading off to the great unknown. The only directions we have are some vague sentences from David's friend, C, about looking out for Kompleks Bunga Raya near KLIA, and then driving into a road marked for authorized vehicles only.

We headed off to the direction of KLIA, and along the way we took a few wrong turns. Now, I have to say that I was initially apprehensive about driving as David has a terrible sense of direction which he is oblivious about. He loves to give directions and ask us to trust him, only to lead us to a dead end or an entirely different place. That has happened again today, and I began losing my patience. Fast.

We did find the Kompleks after 15 minutes of driving aimlessly around. Actually, I found the Kompleks after David was proven wrong. We also found the road that was meant for authorized vehicles too and we travelled along that straight road, which ran in parellel to the airport runway.

But we soon came to the end of the road and came upon two roundabouts. There were no clear signages proclaiming "Bagan Lalang", and all it seemed that we were doing was driving around KLIA, not venturing away from it, which was what the satellite image hinted.

David called his friend C again, who was also unsure of the proper roads to take. Worse, C said that the place is next to the long road that we just came out from. Well, there was a body of water there, but it ain't no beach, sister! It was probably a small pond surrounded by oil palm. I made David call another photography friend, T, who knew the place better. He didn't have his number, so he had to call another friend to get T's number. The afternoon sun was glaring at us, and my temper(ature) was flaring up as well.

The moment of my undoing was how he talked with T. Mr. T clearly knew the way, but David just didn't know how to ask. He asked abstract questions like, "Is Bagan Lalang near KLIA?", "Was there a round about?", "How far from KLIA?". When asking for directions, you MUST go to the point - "I'm here at KLIA, where do I head to? If you're coming from the highway which turning do you make?", none of which David bothered to ask even when I asked him to.

He hung up the phone still with no definite idea of where we must go, but he said we'll pass by the Sepang International Circuit, and we must head towards Sepang. That is FAR from where we were now, and that isn't pleasing me at all. I started heading there, going back the same way we came from. David urged me to take an opposite turning, saying that it'll lead back to the same place. I asked him, "Are you sure?" He started his next sentence along the likes of, "Should be..." And I cut him off, "ARE YOU SURE?" The next 15 minutes were silent.

I was really annoyed by his inability to ask for simple directions, and his confidence in taking the road less travelled, which is not something I have faith in after leading us to wrong places, now and in the past. I took the turning his friend T mentioned, and I drove towards Sepang. Soon enough, we saw "Bagan Lalang" on the sign board, and I cooled down, knowing that we were at least on the right road. It was about 20 minutes of trunk road, which meant I could not overtake the lorry in front of me. We passed by the Sepang old town, which reeked of ancient-ness, unlike KLIA and the F1 circuit.

Well, after some winding turns through kampung roads, we reached the beach. I parked my car in a shady spot and quickly went to the nearest toilet to relief myself. David had started to take photos, and I soon joined him. It wasn't a particularly beautiful beach, but David had mentioned that this place had a great view of sunsets and sunrises. Well, it was about 5.00pm and the sun was beginning to lower, but still very sunny. David had the chance to photograph some local kids. They were very eager to pose and smile for the camera. I like taking people shots as well, but I'll let him have this. At any rate, at about 5.30pm we have finished photographing everything barely interesting to shoot, so I suggested we head on to the other end of the beach, which seemed nicer.

So we began heading towards the other end, and as we passed by a warong (Malay eatery), the customers there were gesturing at us wildly by slapping their hand on the other palm that was facing up. I stopped to see what it was all about, and Albert announced it when he peered out the door - my left rear tire has punctured.

The poor, punctured tire

I was shocked, but I quickly moved my car to the side and switched everything off. I surveyed the damage, and it was certainly a big "Ouch!" It appears that the side of the tire has broken, not in the sense of burst apart, but torn anyway. We had no idea as to the cause of the puncture, as it definitely wasn't caused by an intentional cut or stray nail. But we knew what we had to do. This is where David redeemed himself by handling the changing operation almost entirely. The only thing I did was to unscrew the spare tire and bring it out. Otherwise, I played the part of the damsel-in-distress. I called Dad about it and he advised me (more like commanded) to stay within 60 km/h on the journey back. He also asked me to get it changed soon, which I will do tomorrow.

David, hero of the day

Bagan Lalang is a place famous for their 'ikan bakar' (grilled fish). We had originally planned to eat it here, but current circumstances do not favour me. But David still insisted on visiting the other side of the beach, so I dropped him there for about 10 minutes while the rest of us stayed in the car. He returned, and we started our journey back. It was sort of a blessing in disguise that we had to use trunk roads, as it isn't safe to drive 60 km/h on the highway (or freeway, for you Americans).

The journey back was much faster (within 30 minutes). Of course, we did not have interesting detours and wrong turnings to slow us down. We had dinner, and here I am typing this when I should be washing off the salty air from my hair.

Overall, it was an interesting day. I don't blame David for the tire, it wasn't anybody's fault really. It was unusual for me to do unplanned roadtrips, and it came to an ununsual and unplanned end as well. I'm not sure my heart is up to such excitement again, but roadtrips sure make for excellent blogging material. I'm sure my readers will agree that this is the best post since the Wesak Day posts more than two months ago!