30 September 2005

Why I'm Not In Love

Some friends have wondered, "Why are you not in a relationship?"

Here's why.

I'm a perfectionist at heart. I don't like to do something without completing it to the end, and to the best of my ability. In other words, I don't like to waste my effort.

At the moment, I'm studying 500km from home and I only go back during breaks. Furthermore, I'll graduate by next August if all goes well. Therefore:
  • I can't date someone from my home town because I'll be away for most of the year. No doubt, I'll graduate by next year but then I don't like to do long distance relationships. I tried it out once, with disastrous effects. The fact is, long distance relationships can work if and only if there is a strong base. And that strong foundation has to be built before a couple becomes long distance. I neglected that advice, and paid the price for it.

  • I can't date someone in college or in this part of town because it will become a long-distance thing when I return home during holidays. Furthermore, I'll be graduating soon. What becomes of 'us' then? I plan to work a bit after college, and I'll go wherever the job is. That might be back home, Kulim, Kota Bahru, or even Miri! Of course, being close to my father would be my first choice.
So you see, the situation is plain and simple. Until I can settle down in one spot and ensure that I have better odds at a relationship, I will not commit to anyone or anything.

Mini Minor Milestone

For the month of September 2005, I've hit a small personal milestone - 220 hits.

That averages out to about 7 visits per day. Sure, it can't compare to other big fishes like Kenny Sia who gets about 5000 hits a day, but I'm quite contented.

Cheers to all you readers out there. YOU are who I write for.

I'm Speechless

I'm speechless. Really.

Speechless as in I've-lost-my-voice-after-an-evening-of-prayers-which-I-went-against-the-wishes-of-my-sorethroat kind of speechless.

For now, the written word is my only spoken medium.

29 September 2005

It's Just Magic!

Everyone knows that the Central Bank is phasing out the gold one Ringgit coins. "Why?" is a question I'll never be able to answer. They have come in handy every once in a while, but now that they're invalidating it by 2006, everyone's scrambling to convert all their RM1 coins.

Shopkeepers and vending machines shunned their responsibility as well by not accepting the coins anymore. However, I discovered something magical today. I had 2 coins left so I decided to try my luck with the Coke vending machine.

Each can costs RM1.40 so I entered the first coin. It showed RM1.00 on the LCD display. Being the dork that I am, I thought the machine only detected 40 cents and I still owe it RM1, instead of the other way round. Frustrated, I pressed the Eject button, and voila! Out came two 50 cent coins!

I quickly entered the other coin I had and promptly converted it to legal tender coins without having to reason and haggle with shopkeepers and bank tellers. Man, I'm proud of myself. :P

28 September 2005

Out of Rehab, Into The Fire




I know I've sworn off the Three C's (Chocolate, Coffee, Curry), and observence of that rule along with better diet and supplements have helped me to stay tonsilities-free for 15 weeks. However, I had a cup of Milo for breakfast yesterday, and by evening I felt uncomfortable. And when I woke up this morning I have full-blown fever and sore throat. And yes, I'm blaming the mild Milo for all this.

Of course, the most important question must be, "Why did I even attempt Milo?" You see, 15 weeks without sore throat is a kind of achievement for me. When I was around 16 or 17, I would actually get sore throat 2 weeks at a time, which was probably as long as the antibiotic lasted. So yes, I'd actually have antibiotics in my blood stream for months at a time.

But I've gotten so far (15 weeks!) and I even managed to donate blood a few times (you can't donate blood for 2 weeks after an antibiotic course) over the past years. And last weekend when I went to the temple for the camp, I did have Milo AND rich peanut butter. Even when coupled with the tough schedule and inevitable H20 deprivation, I didn't get sore throat, not even a tingle of it.

So I decided against my better judgement and had Milo, just to slowly move out of my self-imposed rehab. I was thinking, since I survived so long, maybe the 'plague' is gone and I can slowly reintroduce all those foods I love.

I should have realized that I didn't have the protection of Bodhisattvas and guardian Devas here in my room, unlike at the temple. Yes, call me a religious fanatic if you want, but I believe such forces exist, especially when we stay in a holy place.

Therefore, I want to declare that I will never voluntarily have any of the Three C's till the end of this life. Sad, but necessary.

27 September 2005

I Needed It

Ah, I sure needed that one week break from blogging.

Wait a minute, it's only been 4 days.

See you on Thursday then.

22 September 2005

Auditory Euphoria

Ah... I'm in music heaven right now. Besides The Corrs, many of my other favourite artistes also released new albums (seemingly) overnight.

My September Top 5 Albums:
1. The Corrs - Home
2. Katie Melua - Piece by Piece
3. Jamie Cullum - Catching Tales
4. Sheryl Crow - Wildflower
5. t.A.T.u. - Dangerous and Moving

Other notable albums that I'm listening to in addition to the above:
1. Tracy Chapman - Where You Live
2. Ryan Cabrera - You Stand Watching
3. Craig David - The Story Goes
4. Jason Mraz - Mr. A-Z
5. James Blunt - Back to Bedlam

As you can infer, my taste in music varies from slow & beautiful (Katie Melua) to pop (Jason Mraz) to techno rock (t.A.T.u.) I'm so proud to be able to enjoy many genres of music, and finally break free from the Pop obsession during my youth.

But that's only the beginning. A slew of TV shows are debuting this month as well. How am I gonna survive this semester with all the fantastic TV shows coming up? Desperate Housewives, Lost, The Apprentice.... gosh! In a way, I'm happy that my biggest challenge this semester is resisting temptations, not the lack of it.

They Didn't Tell Me About That

Oh my gawd! The Corrs are out with a new album! And I didn't know about it! How could I ever consider myself a true fan anymore?

I was surfing through my favourite Torrent site when I chanced upon the torrent for Home, their latest album. I was a little skeptical when I saw it as The Corrs usually release an album ever 2 to 3 years, not 1 year. But I was more or less proven wrong when I saw the track listing.... it IS real!

I can't believe they actually came out with a new album so fast! I have been a huge fan since 2001. In fact, during my fanatical years 2001/2002. I used to listen exclusively to The Corrs on my PC. It doesn't matter if the song was from their first, second, or third album, I could sing them all!

Naturally, it got old as they did not come out with a new album until last year's "Borrowed Heaven". It sounded marginally better than their 3rd effort "In Blue". But in my opinion, their second album "Talk On Corners" is the best.

And now with their fourth album "Home", The Corrs have come full circle. Being an Irish band, they decided to honour their roots and reinvented traditional Irish tunes. Therefore, it is a stark departure from all their previous albums. No more rock or candy pop tunes - it's all old school.

I'm going through my first listen and I'm loving it. Sure, it may not appeal to many Corrs fans but I have an affinity for everything Ireland. In fact, my English name is Irish in nature! Of course, I didn't know that when I picked it. So I think I may have been an Irish in one of my past lives.

Their current album sounds a lot like Mary Black's songs, another famed Irish singer many years ago. With her beautiful voice, Andrea Corr really puts the soul into all the songs. There are two songs sung in Gaelic, which is like, damn traditional man. There are two instrumental pieces, "Old Hag" and "Haste to the Wedding".

I think it's better than the last album, but I don't believe it will be as successful due to its un-poppy sound. But it's kinda hard to compare as they belong to completely different genres.

(Sigh) The Corrs fever is back.

21 September 2005

Some Cool Weather

After these past few days of scorching heat, we finally experience some cool weather today. It did not rain (yet) but the sky is cloudy and windy as well. I barely sweated, which is good, cause my internal weather isn't doing too good.

It began as an itch two days ago, and an irritation yesterday. When i woke up this morning, it felt pretty painful. I'm talking about my throat, of course. I already started sucking on the Pharynx lozenges I bought at Sunway last week. I even went out to buy a box of carrot juice to help soothe the 'internal heat'. It feels quite ok now, but if it gets any worse I'll need to buy some antibiotics before I go to a camp on Friday.

Yes, a camp. One is never too old, you know?

20 September 2005

Pointless Post

I have a friend, Cj, who asked me to write about him.

There, I've written about you.

Nothing to see here, move along...

To Convey Surveys

Whew! Am I wasted! Not from alcohol, but from giving out questionnaires.

This morning me and 3 other team members went around the college handing out surveys to lecturers and other staff. I only planned to give out 50 copies and get 30 in return, which I feel is a small sample. But even with such low standards, we found it hard to achieve our goal.

Instead of placing the questionnaire in people's pigeon holes and hope for the best, I urged my team members to approach respondants personally and try to get a response on the spot. And that's where complications set in. A lot of them do not have the time or have any children within our age range. Even if they do, most of their kids are in their teens, so it would be difficult to answer our survey.

My initial plan was just to approach lecturers, but when it seemed that wouldn't be enough, we spread out again to other administration offices like the Exam Centre, General Office, etc. Through our intense efforts and walking around the big campus we managed to get more than 30.

Now for the hard part - analyzing.

19 September 2005

Surprise of the Day

I just noticed that the cleaning guy, who is from some foreign third-world country (I'm guessing either Myanmar or Vietnam), is using a nice colour screen handphone with GPRS while I'm still stuck with my colourless, GPRS-less, Bluetooth-less, Infrared-less Nokia 2100.


18 September 2005

The Future of Malaysia Rests in the Hands of These Idiots

I noticed that people can be so inflexible that they suffer unknowingly. For example, a lot of drivers queue at petrol stations just so they can fill up the tank from the proper side of their car. If the mouth of the fuel tank is on the left, they must have the pump on the left as well, even if it means queueing for 5 minutes. I saw all this when I went to the petrol station today.

When I drove in I saw that every pump had queues, except for one free pump. It's not on the proper side of my fuel tank, but I didn't want to wait so I headed straight for that free pump. At any rate, the engineers who built the pumps were smart enough to make sure the pump nozzle can reach the other side of a car.

But the most baffling part is when I was filling up my car, a Waja queued up behind me. While earlier I suspected that some of them are idiots, I am absolutely certain that this guy is an idiot. There was a free pump right next to him! And instead of going straight to it, he rather waited for me.

Disappointing-lah, these idiots.

17 September 2005

A Fan Film By Any Other Name...

...is called Advent Children.

I just finished watching a bootleg copy of Final Fantasy VII Advent Children with David. Though it's my first (and last) viewing, David has watched it 5 times prior to this viewing. He's a self-confessed Final Fantasy geek, having bought the original versions of several games and is now planning to buy the original DVD. I don't share his sentiments, though. Once through is good enough for Zemien.

The problem with Advent Children is that regardless of how much money and time that was poured into this project, it remains at heart a fan film. And like all fan films, only fans can understand and appreciate them. David will be ooh-ing and aah-ing even on his 6th cycle, and I will be, "Is that even physically possible?" The direction is also a little jerky in certain places, going for confused flashbacks, that once again, only David can decipher.

Of course, kudos to the graphics team for coming up with great visuals. In fact, I caught myself admiring the graphics more than synching the English subtitles to the Japanese dialogue. The rendering is perfect, even though my copy has been significantly compressed from the original DVD. I also find it strange that the DVD version was produced even before the first public screening in Japan. I think that will surely be a big bite out of Square Enix' pie.


(You should read the previous two posts before this as they go in sequence but deal with different topics)

So, I went for the Microsoft briefing, bought the printer, and drove back to college. The end, right? No!

Coincidentally, Buddhist Society is having their Gathering Night. I told them earlier that I will not be going as I needed to go for the briefing, but it seems I will get to go after all. You see, if I had stayed till the end of the briefing (around 6-ish) I would have eaten dinner at Sunway before heading back home. That means it would have been around 8pm already. But since I left the place earlier, I got back just in time for it. I could have skipped it, but it wouldn't be nice as one of the organizers saw me driving past the place.

So I dropped all my stuff in my room, took a sip of water, and a bowl of papaya before heading straight to the gathering night. The moment I went there I could feel my whole body heating up. Even my friend mentioned that my cheeks are red, as if I put on make-up. This is a sign that I'm running on overdrive. I immediately went to the canteen and got myself a can of orange juice and a slice of watermelon. I just rested there for about 5 minutes before heading back up.

The gathering night itself was a commendable first effort since most of the committee are new. They had some hiccups and an overly boring emcee, but I'm sure they will improve with time. The vegetarian nasi lemak was the best I ever had. When the event finished at 9.30pm, I immediately went home. Usually I would stay back and help them clear the place, but I am just not feeling well.

I went back, took a much needed shower, and then went about setting up the printer (finally!). As with all laser printers, it is one heck of a bulky monster, but luckily it turned out well and it prints wonderful text. I went to sleep around 12am, happy that I got a fair deal.

If I thought that was the end of my overdrive session, I was so wrong. The next day (Friday) was a hectic day as well. I had two classes, and in between them I had a meeting for my project. All in all, I went out at 10 am and came back only at 4pm. Before I napped, I decided to install Microsoft Visual Studio 2005 Beta 2, which was one of the free DVDs I got from the day before. Unfortunately, I did not heed the notice that said I should have at least 512 MB of RAM for installation. I paid the price by waiting 2 hours to install it on my old 256 MB laptop.

During that time, I didn't know how long it will take and I could not use my laptop efficiently, so I took out my cooking utensils and made some lychee konyaku jelly. It was my cooking project of the semester. I planned to cook at least one item every semester. Since this is a short semester I went ahead with a simpler dish, which happened to be jelly. I had planned to cook this on Sunday, but since I was left with nothing to do I got it over and done with.

The last time I did jelly was when I was very young, probably 8 or more years ago. But it seems my skills with it has not diminished. Of course, that last statement is only true if you consider following simple instructions as a "skill". At any rate, I got it done, and came back. The Visual Studio installation finished just about then but I still did not have the luxury of sleep. The next few hours were filled with doing all sorts of things such as downloading and chatting. At 11pm I went out and took my friend to supper. I finally crashed into my bed at 1am.

And, finally, today (Saturday) is my first real off-day. I finally had time to compile the events of the past two days into three posts. I will take things easy today before shifting into hyperdrive to complete my assignments and project next week. Next week is our assignment and test week, which actually translates to "no lecture week". Yipee.

Oh Brother...

After we left the briefing, I decided to buy a laser printer. You see, I've been living without a working printer for almost a year. I printed my assignments in the lab, where they charged 7 cents per page. That is indeed cheap. However, situations turned ugly when a private businessman took over the lab printing service from the college. As the place is understaffed and cramped, it can be a real battle to get our printouts. There was once I waited almost 30 minutes to queue, print, queue again, comb bind it, queue, and pay. It was getting ridiculous, until it got riduculouser. (Ha! Caught you there!)

This semester when I came back I was shocked to find out they started charging me 10 cents. I was so shocked that I did not bother to clarify issues with them and I just paid the exorbitant fee and left. Those people are really unethical and I find myself unwilling to even go there for binding, as their prices are steep as well.

Anyway, that's why I put my feet down and told Dad, "I need a laser printer." I'm not buying inkjets anymore as they are vulnerable to damage and their cost per page is extremely high. I bought my last inkjet (Canon SP-1000) for RM160, but I spent almost RM250 on refills and repairs over the next year. I finally gave up on trying to salvage it and left it to rot on my desk back home. Laser printers, on the other hand, are more reliable, better quality, and cheaper printing cost in the long run. I can't print colour, but it's not a feature I miss.

So in the weeks leading to my trip to Sunway I began researching low-end laser printers. Samsung seems to be a clear favourite with their ML-1740, so my mind is more or less set to that. I also noticed the Brother printer, but I did not pay much attention to it because I was planning to get Samsung anyway.

During the lunch break, I went down to their IT centre and began asking for Samsung. I was pretty sure I can find it as it was on the price list of many Low Yat shops. However, that was not the case. I went from one store to another and another, but to no avail. Then when I asked the 4th or 5th shop the manager asked me to consider Brother's printer instead. He was selling it at the same price as Samsung's, and he compared it to that particular Samsung model I wanted. It's true, the feature set is better than Samsung. Plus, he said that Brother's printer came with a full toner (2,500 pages) instead of Samsung's starter toner (1,000 pages). And at the end of the day, Brother's toner consumables are cheaper than Samsung's.

I was more or less hooked by then, but I still told him that I would come back in the evening if I wanted to buy. As I didn't spend much time reading the Brother HL-2040 review on the net, I've forgotten most of the details, but I don't remember reading something negative about it either. I checked with Dad and he gave me the go-ahead. So when we left the briefing I went to buy the printer (RM399) while the girls went for a quick shopping.

After that, we drove home. Once again, we were lucky to have been caught in only a minor traffic snare, considering it was already 5.30pm. Unfortunately, once I reached college I still did not have the time to set up my new toy... (to be continued)

Technet/MSDN Briefing Part 2

The seminar was Fantastic, with a capital 'F'. Not even Mr. Fantastic can be so Fantastic (with a capital 'F'). As expected, more people pulled out, and only 5 of us actually went there. I was caught in a minor traffic jam, nothing to shout about. I parked my car in Sunway Pyramid and took the lift up to the 10th floor. When the doors opened I was greeted to a sight of more than 800 IT people mingling about and registering themselves. From that point onwards I knew I wouldn't regret coming.

I saw Jackson and Edy and we waited until 9.30am, when the crew ushered us in by tinkling a bell and holding up a sign that signalled us to follow them. And like stupid cows, we did. We entered Hall 3 of the conference centre and we took a seat around the middle. Two large projection screens were set up on either side and the main stage was in between them.

The keynote speeches began shortly after, and I was impressed by all the new 'innovations' that Microsoft came up with. I say 'innovations' because some things were not invented by them, just repackaged. But still, it is one damn pretty package.

The highlight of my day was of course the preview of Windows Vista. For those of us who were too lazy to install a Beta version of it, it was a real treat. We were awed by the awesome graphical effects that are integral to the whole Windows package. Even Minesweeper got a huge face-lift! I really can't wait to see what the rest of the OS has in store for me. However, I'll probably need to get a new laptop for Vista as my current one won't even come close to fulfilling its minimum requirements. Sigh...

The other sessions were really good as well. I learned about all the great things that Microsoft has incorporated into their Visual Studio 2005 Team System development suite (what a mouthful!). But the best thing was, I understood most of what they were saying. All the jargons like test classes, eXtreme Programming, agile methodology, etc. actually became no big deal! If I were to listen to them a year ago I would have walked out confused, but now I can walk out enlightened.

The sessions were really packed, and by 4.30pm I was getting tired. Coincidentally, the current session is about ASP.net 2.0, which was the only thing there that I knew nothing about, so I walked out and took a nap on the couch. I was hoping to take 40 winks, but by the 20th wink, Jackson woke me up. Apparently, the rest were also bored and we all decided to leave.

Although we didn't stay till the end, I had no regrets going there. My story at Sunway Pyramid is far from over, however. (To be continued...)

15 September 2005

Technet/MSDN Briefing Part 1

Way back when I was still in Penang, I came across a newspaper ad highlighting a upcoming Microsoft event. The summary of products they will highlight seemed mighty interesting, so I signed up for the free event. I kept the newspaper ad, hoping to get other friends to join me as well.

Fast forward 1.5 weeks...

I showed the ad to my class and I immediately generated enough buzz. Jackson already knew about this some time ago, and I managed to reel in more or less the whole class. Participation is of course optional, but since there is so much enthusiasm, I managed to cancel or postpone both classes for Thursday (tomorrow).

I chatted with Dad over MSN Messenger about it. He asked me how many people I managed to convince. I replied that I managed to convince roughly the whole class, which is about 12 people. I also added that "Of course, there will be some who will just talk."

And I was right.

When I confirmed everyone's participation today, quite a few pulled out, citing several reasons (read: excuses). In the end, the final tally is 7. Who knows, even fewer might actually turn up tomorrow. We'll see.

Of course, I have to clarify that I'm not angry at those who are not going. I just wish to highlight the tendency of humans to just talk but in the end, do not do anything. Sounds mighty familiar, don't it?

14 September 2005

The Perils of Staying in Hostel

If you are a resident in my hostel, you will either:
a) Heard of someone's room that was burgled
b) Know of a friend whose valuables were stolen from his room; or
c) Was burgled before

It's becoming a serious situation, and people's nerves are being tested. Security is relatively weak even with the presence of a guard at every block. The security mindset of the guards are a real joke. At the occurence of a theft, guards will become diligent and note down everyone who enters the hostel. But 3 days after that, they will return to their lazy mindset and just casually observe the comings and goings of strangers and residents.

I don't blame them, really - being on Red Alert all the time will exhaust them quickly. It's called being human, no matter how much the victims accuse them of being otherwise. But then, it's useless if the administrators turn a blind eye to the high crime rates. (Sigh) What to do, what to do....

13 September 2005

Fragrant Shit Syndrome

Gawd, I sure hope I'll never suffer from FSS (Fragrant Shit Syndrome). It is the sickness where everything your Significant Other (SO) does is considered right, just, and true. Sounds familiar? Even when he or she does something absolutely terrible, you will defend them to death! That's why I term this sickness as Fragrant Shit Syndrome, where every little imperfection is considered gold and even their stool is on par with fragrant Siamese rice.

Still don't get it? Imagine the following conversation between A who is suffering from FSS, his girlfriend FS, and I:
I: So do you think they'll ever find intelligent life on Mars, A?
FS: Ha! You are so behind news la. They already did! I read it in News of the World when I was staying in London with my (insert posh aunt's name here).
A: Ya lah, dear. Aiyo, I, you are so outdated.
I: Huh? But, there IS no life on Mars.
A: Damn you, I! Don't contradict my Fragrant Shit la!

Brrrr.... I hope I don't become one of them.

12 September 2005

Suicidal Kettle Part 2

It's official - it has gone mad. While earlier, it will only boil non-stop occassionally, it now does it everytime. Maybe it found out that I accused it of being suicidal.

At any rate, I'm really disappointed in its quality. A breaking switch is such an easy logic to implement. I think their idea of Quality Control is sticking the "QC pass" sticker on the bottom.


I went over to my friend's apartment just now. He moved in not long ago and I wanted to see his place. When I went into the lift I was surprised to see that the numbers go from 1, then 2, followed by 3, and then 3A before continuing to 5. I smiled when I saw it, and then remembered why. The number 4 sounds like 'Die' in Cantonese, and is therefore considered unlucky very much like how '13' is perceived in the Western world.

Ah, how superstitions keep a grip over us.

10 September 2005

Suicidal Kettle

In my 1.5 years of staying in the hostel, I have not seen or heard the water filter being changed. We have two water fountains on each floor, and they see heavy duty use from the residents. Besides the usual I-drink-my-water-from-the-fountain, there's also I-brush-my-teeth-over-the-fountain-with-no-regards-to-others and I-wash-my-dishes-over-the-fountain-and-leave-oily-stains-all-over-it.

The worse part is that the 'filtered' water has a strange taste. You can't taste it straight away, but if you let the cold or hot water stabilize till room temperature, you can actually smell something wrong with it. It's more disgusting than chlorine, and I have no idea what it is. I've never tasted it anywhere else, just from the water fountains in our college.

So before I came back this semester, I decided to get a kettle. The cheapest home appliances can be bought at hypermarkets, so I went to Tesco. Indeed, a 1.8 liter cordless kettle is only RM18! I bought it without hesitation. I'm sure there are differences between a RM18 kettle and a RM69.90 one, but quality is not really my concern.

While the cheap and soft plastic used for the body is a dead giveaway that this is cheap stuff, I'm more concerned about its suicidal tendencies. You see, out of the 17 times or so I used it, there were two times that the kettle did not stop boiling. It just kept boiling and boiling until I manually flipped the switch. This is a dangerous thing to happen as the heating element will short circuit itself if it ever heats up without being submerged. Plus, there's the explosion. I've seen it personally and it ain't pretty.

So I now have to make sure that the kettle cuts off power after it brings the water to boil, or risk having boiling water spill onto the power plugs, which is barely 10cm away. But all this mortal danger is worth being able to drink clean water that doesn't smell like chemical waste.

09 September 2005

This Is Too Much

I actually dreamt of blogging last night! All this blogging has slowly crept into my subconscious, so much so that it appeared in my dreams. I had wanted to make a funny post out of this, but I read something terrible and I feel angered.

I want to point out this excerpt from AgapePress's report, New Orleans Residents: God's Mercy Evident in Katrina's Wake:

"Rev. Bill Shanks, pastor of New Covenant Fellowship of New Orleans, ... says the hurricane has wiped out much of the rampant sin common to the city.


"New Orleans now is abortion free. New Orleans now is Mardi Gras free. New Orleans now is free of Southern Decadence and the sodomites, the witchcraft workers, false religion -- it's free of all of those things now," Shanks says. "God simply, I believe, in His mercy purged all of that stuff out of there -- and now we're going to start over again."

The New Orleans pastor is adamant. Christians, he says, need to confront sin. "It's time for us to stand up against wickedness so that God won't have to deal with that wickedness," he says."

I have one question to ask and one thing to say.

I want to ask, "What kind of God encourages the destruction of people who do not follow his teachings? And then claim that it is being 'merciful'?" (OK, so that's actually 2 questions).

I want to say, "If this kind of God promises paradise if I follow his teachings, I'd rather go to Hell. There's probably better people there."

08 September 2005

Ode to Tracy Chapman

Tracy Chapman is a fantastic song-writer. She has been terribly undervalued all her career. Most people only remember her for her classic Fast Car. She has many other great songs as well. I don't claim to have heard every album, but from what I have heard so far, her songs speak volumes.

She has a way of infusing deep meanings into her lyrics, and she sings on love, loss, poverty, discrimination, and all forms of sadness. Take for example, Fast Car, which talks about being stuck in a destructive cycle all one's life, no matter how much one wishes to run away (in a fast car):

You got a fast car
And I got a plan to get us out of here
I been working at the convenience store
Managed to save just a little bit of money
We won't have to drive too far
Just 'cross the border and into the city
You and I can both get jobs
And finally see what it means to be living


You got a fast car
But is it fast enough so we can fly away
We gotta make a decision
We leave tonight or live and die this way


You got a fast car
And we go cruising to entertain ourselves
You still ain't got a job
And I work in a market as a checkout girl
I know things will get better
You'll find work and I'll get promoted
We'll move out of the shelter
Buy a big house and live in the suburbs
You got a fast car
And I got a job that pays all our bills
You stay out drinking late at the bar
See more of your friends than you do of your kids
I'd always hoped for better
Thought maybe together you and me would find it
I got no plans I ain't going nowhere
So take your fast car and keep on driving

Another song I like is Devotion, taken from her 1997 album "Telling Stories".

What if you find a fault
Between my purpose and my deeds
And deem me beyond salvation
Judge me to be unworthy

Of your devotion
Of your devotion

When listening to this I am forced to ask myself, "Will I be able to find someone who does not expect me to be perfect in order to deserve devotion?"

And now, Tracy Chapman has released her 7th studio album, "Where You Live". I heard her first single, Change on radio a month back and I was immediately hooked. Once again, she has managed to make her listeners reflect and ask themselves, "Will I be able to change my decision if I know I'm going to make a mistake in life? How attached am I to things in my life that I won't let it go, although it will burn us?"

If you knew that you would die today,
If you saw the face of God and Love,
Would you change? Would you change?

If you knew that love can break your heart,
When you're down so low you cannot fall,
Would you change? Would you change?

How bad, how good does it need to get?
How many losses, how much regret?
What chain reaction would cause an effect?
Makes you turn around, makes you try to explain,
Makes you forgive and forget, makes you change?

It really makes one think.

A Forgotten Site

Aeons ago (a.k.a. last year) I was quite active in photography. I loved taking scenic shots and framing interesting objects. Therefore, I opened a photo album at Buzznet. I've got quite a number of photos there, but I haven't updated it in a long time. Seeing all those photos make me feel like taking up the camera again, but I just haven't got the time...

Enjoy the pics.

07 September 2005

It Was A Close Call

Our past semester results finally came out today, and I'm very happy I got straight A's. Some said that I needn't have worried, but I worried anyway for one particular subject. The lecturer is a strict marker, so I had some reservations about being able to get an A.

Even when I was told that I would get an Excellent award for my performance a week ago, I was not sure. You see, to get the Excellent award your average percentage must be above 80%. That means I could have gotten 90 marks for three subjects but a 60 for another subject, and still get the Excellent award.

I'm happy for my past, but now it's time to start working on the present for the future.

06 September 2005

The Cause of Katrina

Hurricane Katrina has ripped apart New Orleans in USA, but I don't see much media buzz around here. Maybe it's because I don't keep track of the media, but that's another story for another post.

The following is a personal reflection on the causes of Katrina. It is in no way meant to be an attack on Americans or a true and complete representation of Buddhism:

When I first heard of the damage that Katrina inflicted on the state, my first thought was, "Hah! Serves them right! They waged war against another country, killing innocents and keeping their own troops there for far too long. Now they are tasting the fruit they have planted. Maybe now they'll understand how the mothers, fathers, and children of Iraq/Afghanistan feel when they see their houses destroyed and family killed."

But the more I think about it, the more I find that the above rationale is just not.... rational. The fact is, karma is a non-transferable energy. I remember the saying, "All sentient beings are dependent on their karma". America, as a whole, is not a sentient being. They are run by a few idiot-heads whom will have to bear the karma of waging war. But not the people whom don't support it. I'm sure New Orleans has its share of Democratic supporters as well.

Furthermore, it is a fallacy to think that everything is caused by karma. The Buddha has explained that the world is conditioned by several factors, karma being one of them. Natural disasters such as hurricanes and tsunamis are not dependent on karma. They happen out of any karmic influence, and it's important to understand that.

In short, shit happens.

So, I've decided to stop pointing fingers and instead spread thoughts of goodwill towards anyone traumatised by Hurricane Katrina.

Sabbe Satta Sukhihontu

Love Is Enriching

Jackson said that I already made 3 posts today, so I thought, "Why not add one more?" I'm going to officially start working for my project tomorrow, and that will take up most of my time, so I might as well post as much as I can!

In this post I want to talk about one common misconception about relationships a lot of youngsters have (and all parents who don't want their kids to date). Basically, teenagers think that being in love will distract them from their studies, so they ask for a "time-out" during major exam periods.

I do not agree. Worse, I believe it may put a strain on the relationship and studies.

The fact is, those amateurs think that love is a draining force, something that requires constant attention to grow. While I do not deny that relationships need attention, I don't think they quite get what love is. Love should be an enriching emotion, one that makes you feel special, important, and needed. It should spur you on to do great things.

That's why I think that if one is mature enough, the emotions generated by love can be used to motivate students to do well in exams. Of course, mature love is a rare thing to find among immature people like teens, so I don't blame them. But now that I'm older and wiser, I think being in a healthy relationship will propel me forward.

I've felt that kind of feeling before, and I can also see it in the faces of people in love. They come to class more cheerful and are more positive and enthusiastic. Those are the exact attributes that contribute to a healthy learning environment. Ignoring the multiple times they SMS on the handphone, that is.

In conclusion, my 1st message to those students in love is - "Relationships are love generators, not love consumers. Use it to spur you on!"

My 2nd message to those students in love is - "Don't listen to Zemien, he does not have much experience anyway."

05 September 2005

Africans and Their Massive 'Thing'

So there I was, brushing my teeth in the common bathroom, when this African dude walked in. He walked to one of the toilet cubicles, and started unbuttoning his pants. I'm witnessing all this from the reflection of the mirror, so I assume he's going to take a piss. But instead of going into the cubicle, he stood at where the cubicle door usually is and did his thing. He's actually standing about three feet from the toilet bowl!

I had to suppress my laughter as I didn't want to choke on toothpaste, but I am thinking, "Either he's got one freakingly long penis or he's a strong shooter." Or maybe both.

I think it is a common perception that all black people (Indians, Africans, African Americans) have huge appendages. But I doubt that. Sizes range from short to long, thick to thin, and I believe there are also black people with penises smaller than the average.

But still, if you gotta stand 3 feet away to take a piss...

'Randomly' Is A Predictable Pattern

Went for my first class today. The lecturer, a portly woman with a sense of humour, said that she wanted to emulate the real world with our project. Therefore, we will not get to choose our team mates for our project, and instead it will be done randomly. I'm hoping really hard right now that I'll get decent team members, but if things happen otherwise, I'll just have to grin and bear with it.

After all, 'random' is not really random as there are ways to predict the outcome using mathematical formulaes. I wonder how I can tip the scales in my favour...

At the end of the class, she asked us, "What do you think makes a good leader?" Earlier she had asked whether I had become a leader before, and I replied yes. Now she turned to me and asked, "Do you think you are a good leader?" I said yes as well.

She nodded her head and said that is a very 'optimistic' behaviour. I consider myself as 'confident', while others probably consider me as 'cocky'.

Actually, I'm all three.

Paternal Instinct

I'll be attending my first class of the semester today. Lectures have started so I have to catch up a little bit.

In the meantime, I'm hooked to another blog, Dooce. The blogger, Heather, is a funny and witty mother who blogs about her family life, especially her young daughter Leta. If nothing else, I implore you to read her Newsletter section. She archives her monthly newsletters to her daughter. Every month, Heather writes a touching yet hilarious letter to her daughter, profiling her achievements and behaviour over the past month. It is so adorable, and through her photos you can see how Leta is slowly growing up.

An excerpt:

I look forward to this next month with you, to more coos and noises and near giggles, to more of the moments like the other night when I was feeding you at 1:30 AM and you kicked your sleeping father in the head. Your father and I love you more than you could possibly know, and you won’t know or understand just how much until you have a child of your own. Just please don’t have that child when you’re still a teenager. Which reminds me: You’re not allowed to date until you are 25.

(from Dooce: Month Two Newsletter)

After reading through them I actually thought of having a baby. My paternal instincts were never strong. It's not that I dislike children - It's that I only like children when they're happy and laughing. But I'm beginning to think that those few moments of happiness is all I really need to warrant having a child.

04 September 2005

Common Sense Advisory #1

Do not reformat your computer unless absolutely necessary.

I know too many people who think that reformating their computer is an easy way out of solving computer problems. I understand that they may not have the know-how to troubleshoot it cleanly, but reformating should always be used as a last resort.

Over the past couple of weeks two of my friends have reformatted their PC over trivial matters and ended up worse than before. One reinstalled Windows because the computer was a little lagging while playing videos. But he forgot to keep the audio card driver, and so had no sound for a few days. Another reformatted his C:, but somehow or other it also ate up D:, which contained precious photos and videos.

Of course, Common Sense Advisory #2 would be: Don't keep your precious photos and videos in one place. This guy did, and now he has nothing to replace those precious files.

03 September 2005

115? That's All?

I'm back and all, but I ran out of good ideas to blog, so I did a quick and dirty IQ test. Unfortunately, I forgot that doing IQ tests require some time, even if it "quick and dirty". As a consequence, the time I spent there answering inane questions could have been better used to write The Post of All Posts. Unfortunately, that didn't happen.

Anyway, my results:
Your IQ Is 115

Your Logical Intelligence is Above Average
Your Verbal Intelligence is Exceptional
Your Mathematical Intelligence is Genius
Your General Knowledge is Above Average

02 September 2005

Leaving In My Proton

(sing to the tune of 'Leaving On A Jetplane')

All my bags are packed, I'm ready to go
I'm sitting here inside my room
I know you cannot wait to say goodbye

But the dawn is breaking, it's early morn
The laptop's locked up, protecting my porn
Already I'm so happy I could die

Cause' I'm leaving in my Proton
I do know when I'll be back again
Oh, Penang, I can't wait to go

And that's my farewell song to Penang before I live the (Dirty) Pearl of the Orient tomorrow morning. I've cut my hair very short, and I'm almost done packing my clothes. I'll need some time settling in, so expect no updates till Saturday.

01 September 2005

The Merdeka Post

What does 31 August mean to me? Like many others, it's just another holiday. It's not that I don't appreciate the struggles of our founding fathers and mothers, but there's enough people crowding the streets already. So, as I told many others, my idea of being patriotic is not to cause more traffic jams on 31st.

Happy 48th Birthday, Malaysia.