31 October 2005

Face to Face

I was surprised to learn that Westlife is not dead when they released their 7th studio album, "Face to Face", so I got myself a copy to listen. By "got myself a copy" I meant I downloaded it for free off BitTorrent, but such small details are for nitpickers.

I'm not a big fan of theirs but some of their old songs are quite nicely made. I don't have much respect for boy bands who consistently sing cover versions - it shows a lack of creativity to stand on their own. So I really wanted to know how they are holding up, especially since their lead singer Bryan McFadden did a Ronan Keating manouvre by saying sayonara and releasing his own album, and the rececnt revelation by Mark Feehily that he is gay.

Overall, the album stayed true to what Westlife is known for - good old ballads and some upbeat tempos stuck in between. Oh, and of course, loads of cover versions. Their first single is the Josh Groban hit "You Raise Me Up". In fact, that song was the reason I wanted to listen to the album. I seriously doubt any of the Westlifers can hold a candle to the angelic and strong voice of Groban. And I was right - they certainly tried but did not manage to raise the song to inspirational levels. Watching the video also proved, yet again, Fact #1 of Boy Bands - there is only one real singer in the group, no matter how many members there are. In this case, it appears Shane Filan has taken over Bryan's place. Overall, it's an album I will continue to listen until I get bored.

You may now shoot me for listening to fluffy boy band pop.

Hung Up

I just watched the music video of Madonna's latest effort, "Hung Up". Everybody hails it as her return to the dance floor where she first gained fame. I listened to the song a few weeks back and it was quite good. If you forgive her for sampling ABBA's "Gimme Gimme Gimme" flute tune, you will appreciate the infectious beat, catchy lyrics, and pure pop sensibility.

Unfortunately, I was less impressed with the video. There isn't much of Madonna dancing, and all the dancers in the video look as if they are in an epileptic fit. It's too bad, really, coz if she had used standard dance steps I could see it being followed by every dancer on this sad lonely planet.

28 October 2005

Hatyai Here I Come

If you're reading this, that means I've reached home safely. This semester was sure a short one. In fact, the whole year seemed to fly by. Last year around this time I went to Hatyai with a group of temple devotees to celebrate Kathina at a local temple.

Tomorrow, I'll be going on the same trip again. The reason why we celebrate Kathina in such far-flung places is because it is easier to sponsor the Kathina robes. At any of the temples here, the waiting list could be up to 10 years! Hatyai temples have a much shorter waiting period.

To find out why people wish to offer Kathina robes, do a search on Google. Just to clarify, I'm not a sponsor or anything, I'm just joining it to shop for cheap counterfeit goods. I'll be back on Sunday, so no updates till then.

27 October 2005


Just now our fire alarm bell went off like crazy, and what do we as Malaysians do? That's right, sit tight on our asses.

I reasoned it was probably just some smoker setting off his room's smoke detector. Countless fire drills in secondary school have made me treat fire alarms as mere annoyances. But when the alarm didn't die down after a minute, I poked my head out of the door. Looked left - no smoke. Looked right - no smoke either. So I went back and sat down, feeling a wee bit annoyed. Soon enough, the bell stopped.

I felt relieved and went back to reading my magazine. It wasn't long, however, when I heard frantic foot steps upstairs. Soon, the sound of people running was outside my door! And what do we as Malaysians do? That's right, be a busybody and see what the fuss is all about!

I can't deny my KPC lineage and I quickly put on my shirt and went outside. It seems a few guards, 5 maintenance staff, and several people from the Accommodation Office have been running around to look for the fire. They seemed kinda funny and disorganized, running up, coming down, and then going to the other end of the block, etc. More staff kept pouring in, and they soon found the source of the fire.

Then this motley crew of fire fighters ran all the way down again to put out the fire - a burning piece of cardboard at the bottom of the stairs. By then, they have evacuated about 1/4 of the residents on my floor. All for a piece of cardboard. I'm not sure how the fire got there in the first place - those particular flight of stairs are rarely used. I'm thinking it could be a diversion to shift the guard's attention while performing dirty deeds.

A thought to ponder indeed, but I don't have that luxury. In 25 minutes, I'll be sitting for my one and only examination this semester. I feel pretty confident about it, but I can't help feeling a little nervous at the same time.

26 October 2005

How 2 Months Changes Things

Roughly two months ago, I "escaped" from Nilai's choking haze. It was absolutely horrendous and I'll never forget it. Well, maybe I will, but not so soon.

Fast forward to present day, and it rains every afternoon, ensuring Nilai stays within the below 30 degree Celcius mark. I love such weather, but I'll have to say goodbye to it in 2 days. The rainy season should have come earlier but now that it's here, I hope it rains right into 2006.

25 October 2005

Common Sense Advisory

When you go hiking, remember to charge your phone.

I think that is the main lesson when I read a report on The Star - Stream leads missing hikers out of Cheras jungle. Four people got lost while hiking in Cheras, but managed to find their way out by following a stream.

While it was a heroic story and all, complete with a picture of them being congratulated by policemen, I couldn't help marvel at this paragraph:

"The group managed to make a call at 4.45pm, before their phone battery died out, telling Meng Yen's brother that if they were not back by 6pm to inform the police."

I can understand if you don't bring garlic bread, tenderloin steak, and a bottle of red wine during your hike, but I think it's common sense to at least charge your phone. Another strange observation is that out of four 20-somethings, only one has a handphone. That's strange, coz my college has so many handphones that we are all at risk of brain cancer.

24 October 2005

Why Would Anyone Do That?

Someone stole my pair of RM5 sandals this morning. It happened some time between 10 to 10.50am. I have absolutely no idea why someone would do that, but it is definitely not a strange occurence around here. My room mate's shoe has been stole thrice, and the guy staying across from me has experienced it as well.

The problem is that such thievery goes unnoticed and it is useless to report it. I hope the person who took my sandals will appreciate it, lead a good life, and rot in hell.

UPDATE: I found my sandals sitting innocently 2 rooms down from me. It appeared to have been moved there instead of worn there. At any rate, I kicked it back to my room. I suspect this is more of a prank than a theft, but I don't suppose I hurt anyone bad enough to warrant it.

Roti Phobia

It has been a long time since I went out for a mamak supper with the guys, so I arranged one last night. In my greed, I ordered two pieces of roti banjir. 'Roti banjir' is basically shredded roti canai with lots of dhall poured over it, hence the 'banjir' (flood) part. I soon regretted my decision because I couldn't finish it. Along with the Horlicks, I felt bloated until now (2.05am). I still feel bloated and I'm getting worried because I'm getting tired. Everybody knows you shouldn't sleep when you are full, but I need to rest because I have to study smart tomorrow! I'll just have to cut back on those TV shows at the moment.

At the moment, I'm watching bootlegged copies of:
  • Nip/Tuck (excellent but very disturbing story arcs)

  • Arrested Development (sarcastic comedy that sometimes get on your nerves due to their stupidity)

  • Desperate Housewives (need I say more?)

  • The Apprentice (both versions are still very interesting and fresh)

  • Alias (this series needs a fresh makeover, but is still entertaining at the moment)

  • Charmed (I miss the Prue days but this final season will do just fine)

  • Bleach (the only anime I'm following ardently)

I also have new episodes of Lost and Smallville, but I'm saving them up to watch with Dad when I go home next week.

Right Product, Wrong Timing

Once upon a time in 1998 when I had my first Pentium II PC with 36.6kbps modem, I scoured and downloaded lots of MIDI files. Music piracy wasn't rampant due to bandwidth constraints, and RM10 MP3 CDs were a little too pricey for a 13 year old to buy frequently. So to get my fix I would search the Net and download the MIDI files for my favourite music. They were small sized and were mostly good enough. Of course, I envisioned for a software that would convert them into MP3 files so I could overlay my voice on it and then make myself a karaoke machine. But I could not find that software, no matter how high or low I searched. I eventually gave up the quest and went back to buying the CDs, which were slowly getting cheaper.

Only the first two sentences of the story above are completely true. I wasn't that addicted to MIDI files because it could never match the original. But I was nevertheless intrigued by file conversion tools, especially MP3 to MIDI.

Fast forward to present day. I found "Direct MIDI to MP3 Converter", which should do exactly that. I installed it, cracked it, and then had the bright idea of converting a MIDI into MP3, and then recording my voice directly into it. Voila! My own album that will rival William Hung's!

So I made a search for MIDI files in Google, and to my horror, 99.5% of the sites I visited were commercial! What happened to the good old days, where composing MIDI files was a hobby? Due to the popularity of polyphonic ringtones, businessmen have cashed in on gullible teenagers by charging exorbitant prices on cheaply made MIDI tones. I am more disappointed that there are no more free sites - but I will keep looking, like I did back in 1998.

There goes my dreams of besting William Hung. Or is that 'worsting'?

22 October 2005

OpenOffice.org 2.0

I recently installed and tried out OpenOffice.org 2.0. OpenOffice is one of the oldest and most successful open source projects, along with the heavyweights of Linux and MySQL. I tried Star Office 5 many, many years ago when it was still free and before it was branched out to become OpenOffice.org. Long story short, I went back to Microsoft Office and never gave OpenOffice.org a serious look until today.

Their latest version, 2.0, has been widely hyped as the Microsoft Office killer. And after using it briefly, I will say it has a very strong fighting chance, but their Powerpoint replacement is a big thorn in the toe. Here's a quick review of the things I like and hate about OO.org 2.0:

  • Small size: Installation package is only 75Mb. After installation, it takes up much less space compared to MS Office, although some novelty items like clipart are missing.
  • Startup time: Slightly slower than MS Office equivalents. But this may have something to do with the fact that Microsoft built Windows after all.
  • OO.org Writer: Their Word replacement. It really gives Word a run for its money. Almost all the main features I'm used to using are still there, and the shortcuts still work. Have noticed a few minor differences, but is not a big problem

  • OO.org Impress: A very unimpressive Powerpoint replacement. Maybe it was because I opened a Powerpoint file inside it, but its conversion capabilities is laughable. Animations don't come out correctly, font rendering sucks big time, and the slide show hangs for 3-4 seconds after every slide. I might give it another go by using their built-in types.

  • OO.org Calc: I'm not an expert in Excel, but Calc's look-and-feel is familiar enough I suppose. Didn't dwelve into its chart and function abilities, because I don't use spreadsheets often enough anyway.

  • OO.org Draw: It's a 'basic' vector drawing program. Unfortunately, I felt there was no need to make it a separate application because from what I can see, I can already draw all these shapes in Word. Similarly, it should have been integrated into Writer (or maybe it has?). Either way, I will explore some of the more advanced functions to see if it really is worth its own interface.

  • OO.org Math: This software allows the creation of mathematical equations and symbols. I like it because it is pretty simple to use. But I have not tried Microsoft Expressions, its Office equivalent. And I didn't test its integration power with existing Writer documents.

  • OO.org Base: The star of OO.org 2.0, this is a database application designed to take on Access. The interface is pretty good, and in some cases is better than Access. I'm exploring it further, but my main concern is how my programs will be able to access Base files. I did not see any apparent connection driver installed, but I will check it out further. In testing out Base, I realized I've forgotten all my SQL :-(

  • PDF Export: All documents can be exported to Adobe PDF format without the use of special printers. This is quite a convenience.

  • File format: The main obstacle preventing me from jumping into OO.org is their XML-based file format. It is a very open format but the problem is, it cannot be opened by MS Office. OO.org claims that not all settings can be exported perfectly into MS Office formats, and that is a real concern. What if the meticulous document I created did not open well in Office? Exporting to PDF is not a real solution. Until an almost-flawless filter is made for Office (an unlikely event), I won't use OO.org for any serious work.

After all I wrote, I really admire the work that has gone into OpenOffice.org. I generally respect all open-source projects as they give me a lot of places to steal code from :P OK, OK, learn code from. I will keep OpenOffice.org in my laptop for some time and then see how it performs as my main office productivity suite for the next two months.

21 October 2005

My First Recursion

I'm so happy I almost cried today. Almost cried, but did not cry. The reason for my joy was because I finally managed to write a recursive function ALL BY MYSELF. It isn't a snazzy function or what-not, but I proved to myself that I finally had a rough understanding of recursion.

I've known recursion for some time, but it wasn't until 10 minutes ago that I understood it. In programming, recursive functions are special functions that solve problems by repeatedly calling itself. It has been taught several times in programming classes, but I never really managed to answer recursive questions without referring to the instructor's sample answer.

But today, while I was doing a little tutorial, I attempted a recursive problem and was able to formulate a perfect solution! I was a little apprehensive when starting to solve it because I hate to be wrong, so I actually wanted to skip it. I'm glad I didn't, and I finally crossed over a little barrier.

For those interested in what problem I actually solved, here it is. It's not a terribly difficult problem, but one which I was delighted to solve anyway.
Give a recursive algorithm for finding the sum
of the first n odd positive integers.
And for those interested, here's the pseudocode I wrote for the correct answer:


   IF n = 1 THEN
      oddSum = n
      oddSum = oddSum (n-1) + (n*2-1)

Lame Translasi

I did an online ACNielsen survey this morning. It had something to do with online banking and it took up a long, long time to finish. The funny part is the survey is in Malay. The not-so-funny part is the surveyors literally translated English terms into Malay.

The first question asked something like, "Pernakah anda menggunakan perkhidmatan perbankan dalam talian?"

And I went, "Dalam talian? What's that? I don't think so." I was about to click the No option when I realized.... "Dalam talian" = "Online"! I don't know why 'on' was translated into 'dalam', which is actually 'in'. Hehe, "Inline banking".

The confusion doesn't stop there. There were some questions about halfway through that asked how satisfied I was with a bank's services. Among the common criteria like "Melihat baki akaun", there was one option "Fi & Caj".


C'mon, take a guess. What the heck is Fi? I kept trying to recall any financial acronyms but Fi just doesn't mean anything.

It wasn't after a few questions later that I realized what Fi meant. An option read, "Fi yang dikurangkan untuk perbankan dalam talian".

Oh.......!!!! Fi.......

Still don't get it?

Fi = Fee!

Which bright graduate decided that fee in Malay should be spelled "fi"? And I was pronouncing it all along as 'fai'.

Sigh, the Malay language is a composition and adaptation of many languages. Who knew that its existence and integrity will be threatened by that very fact?

NFTC: Heng Ch'au, the Dharma Protector

Note: This was on their first day bowing alone, and already they met with so many tests! This excerpt talks about people who try to make them angry.

May 11, 1977
"They test us verbally - no response. "Hey, think I'll kick 'em in the ass when they kneel down!" No response. A larger, older group of men gather at one corner. The leader stands a good 6' 5". His sidekick has been running in between us, patting us on the heads, posturing, and trying to provoke us. No response. Heng Sure is constant - pushes forward. I close the gap. Suddenly they make way, telling the lingering one, "Let 'em be, they ain't doin' nothing'." We bow through."


"Finally the hulk pulls alongside and politely asks, "Pardon me, Sir, may I ask what you're doing?" I nod, finish a bow and explain.

Wow, that's something! Don't he talk? You've got the hard job. I can dig being peaceful. All the way to Ukiah! What's this Buddha about?" etc. They are moved. Something soft and genuine peeks out. The edge is gone. Ice melts to water. "Peace to you guys." he says and crosses us with his blessing as he walks away. "Take care.""

Peace in the Way,
Heng Ch'au

20 October 2005

Goodbye Mrs. PM

Early this morning, the wife of our Prime Minister, Endon Mahmood, passed away from breast cancer. She was said to be a constant supporter of the PM, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi. I don't know her that well, and many people die every year from breast cancer, but I would like to formally offer my condolences to our country's leader.

On a related note, I don't know why people like to use the phrase "lost her battle with breast cancer". Why consider it a battle? When two parties battle, tempers flare and tensions run high. The tumour gets worse, and the patient feels weak. It is better to live in peace and understanding, and all sickness will eventually subdue. Think that's all bull? Then why do happy people live longer than others? (I'm too lazy to link to scientific researches now)

Quote Extravaganza

"Some of you guys are so great, it is... is... beyond my understanding."
- Mr. Yap, lecturer, expresses his frustration.

"Let me be a Buddha for one week."
- Mr. Yap, lecturer, gains temporary enlightenment.

"I don't know if it's the right way or not, but I don't care."
- Mr. Yap, lecturer, going Rambo on us.

For all the strange things he has said to us, I'm currently writing a draft petition to our dean so that Mr. Yap can lecture us next semester. He himself has asked us to do so because he likes our class and wishes to lecture us in another subject. I don't know if it will work, or whether I really want him lecturing us again, but I've done some research on the other possible lecturers and I don't like what I'm hearing. So I'm going to take a chance on Mr. Yap again and my petition writing skills (of which I have none).

19 October 2005

News from True Cultivators

I'm reading a very profound book now, and I intend to share excerpts of it here. The book is called "News from True Cultivators", and it is 'written' by Bhikshu Heng Sure and Bhikshu Heng Ch'au (Bhikshu is the Sanskrit word for monk). I say 'written' because it wasn't really written for publication. Instead, the contents of the book are actually letters sent by them to their teacher, Venerable Abbot Hsuan Hua.

You may have heard of Ven. Hsuan Hua. He is the founder of the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas in Talmage, California. It is a very famous place for Buddhists in the West. It is only one of many temples under the Dharma Realm Buddhist Association (DRBA), another institution set up by Ven. Hsuan Hua. American Buddhists have him to thank, for he was one of the first monks to popularize and introduce Buddhism to modern America. That was way back in the early 70's, and by now his efforts have bore fruit. But I'll write more about him later. Let's get back to the book.

In 1977, those two monks, Heng Sure and Heng Ch'au, set out on a life altering journey - the Three Step, One Bow pilgramage. Basically, they were to walk 3 steps followed by 1 five-point prostration. They did this for more than 2 years, covering more than 800 miles. Their destination? The City of Ten Thousand Buddhas, which was just opened at that time. Along the way they wrote letters to the Master, detailing their journey, encounters, realizations, and mistakes. They are profoundly honest and engaging at the same time. The more I read, the more impressed I am with what they went through.

I have finished about 2/3 of the book, and I have decided to share with you some of the more interesting excerpts. Of course, the entire book is interesting, but at 319 pages I can understand that some readers are put off by it. Furthermore, it is only available at DRBA centres as a free distribution book. You don't have to read them if you are not comfortable with it, but I highly encourage you to do so because they are (mostly) universally applicable to everyone, not just Buddhists. To help me categorize the postings, I will include the acronym NFTC: in front of every title. So if you see the post title "NFTC: The Five Flavours Dull the Palate" then you'd know it is an excerpt from the book.

To start things off, here's an excerpt from the preface that will briefly introduce the concept of Three Steps, One Bow and their prilgrimage:

"Three steps, one bow - three steps along the side of the highway, then a bow to the ground, so that knees, elbows, hands, and forehead touch the earth, then rise, join the palms together, and take three more steps, then begin another bow. Hour after hour, day after day, for two and a half years, this was how they made their pilgrimage. In China, devout Buddhists sometimes undertake the ardous and prayerful practice of three steps, one bow, for the last few hundred yards of a journey to a sacred site. But this was California, and these two pilgrim-monks were young Americans. Dressed in their robes and sashes, carrying no money, armed with nothing but discipline and reverence, they walked and bowed 800 miles along the narrow shoulder of the Pacific Coast Highway. Progressing a mile a day, they bowed from downtown Los Angeles along north along the coast, through Santa Barbara and along the Big Sur, through San Francisco and across the Golden Gate, then 100 miles farther north to the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas, a newly founded religious and educational center in Mendocino County. As they bowed, their prayer was that the world would be free of disaster, calamity, and war."

"On the road, the two pilgrims [Heng Sure and Heng Ch'au] followed their monastic discipline strictly - eating one vegetarian meal a day; never going indorrs, sleeping sitting up in the old 1956 Plymouth station wagon that served as their shelter. In the evenings after a day of bowing they studies the Avatamsaka Sutra (Flower Adornment Sutra) by the light of an oil lamp. They translated passages into English and attempted to put into practice the principles of the text in their day-to-day experiences on the road, as their teacher had encouraged them to do. The monks guarded their concentration by avoiding newspapers, by leaving the car radio silent, and by keeping to a strict meditation schedule. Heng Sure held a vow of silence for the entire journey, and it became Heng Ch'au's job to talk with the many people who stopped along the highway with questions. Occasionally the visitors were hostile, and some threathened violence, but the greater number were curious, and often the curious became the monks' protectors, bringing them food and supplies until the monks had bowed their way out of range."

This is some serious pilgrimage, I tell you. I give them my respects for even thinking about doing it. And the more I read, the more I respect them and the more I appreciate what they did. I hope you guys enjoy the excerpts which I plan to post once every few days.

You can read a complete online edition of the book.

18 October 2005

I Love Them To Bits

As I wrote on our message board, "Even though there were glitches here and there, a project is not successful because there are no problems - it is successful because the group rises to meet those challenges."

Treading On Soft Tofu

Somehow or other, some of my classmates now know about this blog. This is bad, because then I can't bad mouth them here! Not that I have before, but it's good to know I have a place to vent, just in case.

As a result, I have to be really careful of what I post here, and only talk about things besides them. That's pretty sucky.

16 October 2005


I hate dreams, especially chasing dreams.

I'm not much of a dreamer, thankfully! Most of my nights pass by in silence. But when I do dream then it's gonna be some weird situation. But most of all, I hate dreams where I'm being chased. Like this morning, I just woke up from such a dream. It makes me feel so anxious and scared being chased by witches who are going after a bunch of toilet paper that contains secret messages.

Yes, not only do I work out in my dream, but my imagination goes into overdrive as well.

15 October 2005

My Twin Mate Isn't Indian

Some people have this concept that each of us have an identical twin, someone who acts like us, talk like us, think like us, and even look like us. If that were true, then I'm sure my twin mate isn't Indian.

That's coz all Indians seem to be good dancers. I mean, just look at their Bollywood movies! Show me a Bollywood film without any dancing and I'll show you a dog who can talk. It's like the standard job description for being an Indian, you know?

That's why my twin mate can't be Indian because I have two left feet. If terrorists promise me freedom if I dance the Locomotion, my beheading video will be online the next day. But if my twin mate is indeed an Indian, then I apologize for all those lost opportunities at being an extra in a Bollywood production.

Sigh... for both our sake, I better learn dancing soon.... point, step, point, step, step, step.

Quote of A Few Days Back

"Trying to be a little clever perhaps, but obviously not clever enough."
- Mr. Yap, lecturer, complaining the fact that his own intelligence did not enable him to make the class understand.

A Real Supermarket

Finally, I mean FINALLY, a real supermarket has come to our town. I have mentioned before that our only hypermarket here is a real lame deal, but the only deal, so we couldn't complain. But now, NOW, we have a proper one.

Sure, it's not Tesco or Carrefour, but this wholesale market is pretty good. Finally, it's good to see brightly-lit aisles, comfortable air-conditioning, and two floors (two! TWO!)! Extra exclamation marks could not convey my excitement.

This particular chain of wholesale markets specialize in cheap goods. 'Cheap' as in low price and also as in inferior quality. They have 20 plastic combs selling for RM2.40, and 3 pairs of sunglasses going for less than RM15 a pack. This is seriously the place to go if you're planning to open your own sundry shop or pasar malam stall.

Having said that, my only complain is the lack of food stuff and the horrible Islamic music played at 90 dB. I'm not discriminating religious music or anything, but mainstream pop is still the best way to go for supermarket music. Their food stuff corner feels pasted on - not weird considering that it's not their specialty anyway.

At the end of it all, I now know where to get cheap combs and lifetime supplies of henna without spending more than RM10.

14 October 2005

The Funniest Pictures I've Seen

I got these photos from my lecturer. One is just so damn cute, and the other is just so damn scary.

13 October 2005

The Cigarette Man Can

In the world of The X-Files, there is a shady character called The Malboro Man, if I'm not mistaken. In every scene he has appeared in, he'll be puffing away on a death stick.

Well, I think I found his equivalent in my hostel. There's this guy about 5 units up from mine who is ALWAYS smoking. And that's just the 3 times I see him every day.

He's smoking when he's standing outside his room.

He's smoking when he's taking a drink from the water fountain.

He's smoking when he goes to pee.

He's even smoking when he went for a bath! (I saw him bring a fresh stick into a shower stall)

It's really sad to see a young person be addicted to cancer sticks. I somehow think that the final years of his life ain't gonna be pretty.

12 October 2005

Sucker for Free Food

I admit it - I'm a sucker for free food.

Our college had its Academic Awards Presentation today but I didn't go. I was slated to receive an Excellence Award but I didn't go because it is an absolute waste of time. My performance has been recognized by a piece of certificate several times now, but I've only been to the Academic Presentation once, and promptly swore never to attend again.

For all the trouble of wearing formal dress, I had to sit and listen to boring speeches for 30 minutes before they start calling out names. And then I had to sit some more while clapping my hands for the 250 other students waiting for their own turn. When I finally got my 10 seconds of fame, it went by with a hand shake and a cert pushed hastily in my hands.

It's not like I get to make a speech.

It's not like I get a cash prize.

It's not like reporters are there to take my photos.

What I do get, however, is free food. Yes, free as in FREE FOOD. This time, they were serving pastries. In each box is an egg tart, a sardine puff, a bun, and a kaya puff. Pretty good stuff overall.

But wait! How did I get it if I didn't attend the ceremony? Well, I was walking back from a briefing when I saw the FREE FOOD placed outside the hall. It was manned by a few general workers, so I strolled by casually and took my box of FREE FOOD as if I was a victim of the event. And they didn't suspect a thing! Of course, I had the booklet with my name inside to use as proof if they became suspicious.

Yes, I am that cheap.


Prunes are a strange fruit - they're not very popular in this part of the world. Indeed, one look at the sticky, black ball of fruit can scare first timers away. That was my reaction as well, especially since prunes are rarely found here. But one or two bites into the sweet fruit and I'm addicted for life!

I started enjoying prunes after seeing the Sunsweet TV ads (anyone remember that?). The announcer will go to shopping malls and then ask random people to try it while showing their reaction. Obviously, it only showed those positive responses. But the ad campaign worked, and it made me give prunes a try - and I like it a lot.

If I were to describe it, it will be a cross between grapes (for its taste) and raisins (for its texture). In fact, I think all three come from the same family or something. Sunsweet prunes come from California, after all. The only gripe I have is that they are very expensive as it is imported. Not much different from buying fresh grapes. So I only get to eat prunes, like, once a year and I enjoy every moment of it.

10 October 2005

Failure in Love

Someone commented that I am a 'failure in love' after reading my few posts regarding relationships. I agree - I'm not very good with the "I love you" routine. But I'm only 20, and there's still plenty of time to rebound from my lack of trying.

I do believe in love, and being the romantic sod that I am, I also believe that when you meet The One, you don't even need to doubt it.

We're No Longer Safe

Below is a reproduction of an article I read on The Star Online. As their website uses inconsistent linking which might expire after a week, I decide to copy and paste the whole article.

It's a sad state of affairs, especially since the whole idea of blogging is freedom of speech.

Bloggers: We’re not racist

HISHAM Mohd Abu Bakar sat quietly in court as the prosecutor read out the seditious remarks his friend of five years, Benjamin Koh Song Huat, had posted on his blog.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Amarjit Singh called Koh’s jibes at Muslims “highly inflammatory and insulting”.

Senior District Judge Richard Magnus said they were “particularly vile”.

Hisham sat right beside his friend before the court session started on Friday and gave him a pat on the back before Koh entered the dock.

Koh, 27, was sentenced to a month’s jail.

Koh and another man, 25-year-old Nicholas Lim Yew, are the first two people to be convicted under the Sedition Act here in almost 40 years.

Lim was given a “nominal” jail term of one day.

And although both men admitted to making seditious remarks on the Internet, both told the court they were not racist and had many Muslim friends.

Koh submitted a letter from a Muslim classmate to prove his point.

Siti Ainiyah Jafarin, who has known Koh for 15 years, said in her letter that she had never heard him say anything racist.

The two became friends in 1990, when they were in the same class in Swiss Cottage Secondary School.

Madam Siti Ainiyah, 28, said: “We were very close in school. Because we lived near each other, we would take the bus together almost every day. Not one day went without us talking to each other.”

She said she laughed when she heard about the things Koh had written.

He had a tendency to “spout things he doesn’t really mean when he’s angry”, she said.

“I know he’s not that kind of person. People might change, but I really don’t believe he’s like that.”

Koh’s lawyer, Irving Choh, said his client had been “provoked” by a letter in The Straits Times, in which a Muslim woman suggested that dogs should not be allowed in taxis.

Koh works in an animal shelter and holds strong views on animal rights, said Choh, who described his client as a “disturbed individual” who had tried to kill himself three times while serving his national service.

Lim submitted his own letter to the court, apologising for his conduct.

The former assistant manager at an events management company said he has many close Muslim friends and had the “privilege of enjoying their hospitality during festive and family occasions”.

Lim’s lawyer, Helen Chia, said Lim’s actions were “childish and stupid”.

“He did not consider the repercussions of his actions and the parties that might be affected.” –The Straits Times/ANN

Another Depressing Quote

"I have been informed by my department that more than 30,000 people have died in Kashmir," Tariq Mahmmod, communications minister for the Himalayan region, told The Associated Press.

Let us pray for the victims in Pakistan, and dedicate our merits to them. Some may think, "What's the use of praying when you are not actually there to help the survivors?" A valid point, but who is gonna help those that didn't survive?

Give them a moment of silence, please.

P.S. I give the religious extremists one week to declare the earthquake as 'God's wrath' to punish the people, just like what some claimed Hurricane Katrina to be.

09 October 2005

Quote from the News

"We pulled out one man by cutting off his legs."
-Rehmatullah, a survivor of the 7.6 magnitude earthquake in Pakistan. He was detailing one of his rescue activities.

08 October 2005

Sorry for the Inconvenience

I've been getting many comment spams lately, so I had to turn on Word Verification.

Comment spams are comments that look like legit comments but then in the end they add a link to some commercial website. Why? So that the company's page ranking will be higher in Google. It's part of a Search Engine Optimization Strategy, and it's an absolutely horrendous trick.

Therefore, anyone who wishes to post comments must first enter a word shown in an image. It's an extra inconvenient step, but it helps me filter out most spam bots because computers are too dumb to read from certain images yet.

If you want to skip all that hassle, just leave a message on my Tag Board to your right :)

Ding Dong, The Witch is Dead

I've mentioned in an old post that of all the blocks in my hostel, it is only my block that does not have a DIY washing machine. It was because there was already a dobi/laundromat at the back of my block, so it kinda constituted unfair competition.

But yesterday I noticed that a washer and a dryer has been installed on our ground floor. And just now the guard on duty confirmed my suspicions - the dobi has closed down.

I was delighted as I did not have to carry my dirty underwear across to the next block anymore. I only felt a small twinge of pity for the dobi because they were never really good to start with. I only went there once when I was a new student, and regretted my visit. It was not cheap, and their service wasn't that good. True enough, my clothes did not come back smelling like detergent, they smelt like it was only washed with water!

Obviously, the introduction of the washing machines last semester spelt death for the dobi. All hail the coin-operated washers!

07 October 2005

Quote of Yesterday

"Stop me, please, stop me. Anything you don't see, just stop me."
- Mr. Yap, the intelligent lecturer who appreciates eyes and teaches very, very important things.

06 October 2005

Quote of This Day

"Your eyes is a good organ in your body, it shows a lot of things."
- Mr. Yap, lecturer, who sees a lot of things.

I have been getting a lot of great response about these quotes from my friends. To outsiders, however, you may feel a little left out or clueless. Well, this particular lecturer has been described as sarcastic but he's pretty good actually. In fact, on last week's College Day, he actually treated me to some sushi! So I actually have great respect for him.

But that doesn't stop me from recording down the funny things he said.

Since they are so "popular", I'll be compiling all of them into the sidebar on your right. Any new quotes will be added as a post and a sidebar item as well.

Long Night

Sigh.... It's been such a long night....

Unfortunately, I can only say that once the night is through. It's now 3am, and the night is far from being over.

I can't stand my cough. It hasn't been getting any better since Saturday. In fact, I think it's getting worse. Like tonight, I coughed hard enough to wake myself up. I was in a terrible mess and could not sleep. The Breacol cough syrup I bought 2 days back barely worked. The syrup decongested my phlegm as advertised, but did absolutely nothing to the cough itself.

As I said, I was woken up by my cough (and David too, I suspect). I tried sucking on a Fisherman's Friend lozenge, but it wasn't being much of a pal at all. In desperation, I decided to take a dose of Breacol. In my early morning daze I accidentally spilled some of the sticky syrup onto my legs and blanket. I was like, "Oh damn."

I shifted from my early morning daze to my early morning frenzy as I spent the next 10 minutes cleaning myself, and then using wet tissues to (hopefully) clean the blanket as well. The sweetness of the gooey concoction is an ant hot house, I tell you.

I was coughing all the way then. From my room to the toilet, and from the toilet to the room. My traditional sensibilities finally kicked in, and now I'm sipping on some warm water while blogging at an ungodly hour.

It's time to see the doctor.

05 October 2005

Quote of Today

"This is important, very very important, because it is important."
- Mr Yap, lecturer, when stressing the importance of following the Rules.

Insecurity in the Showers

After writing for more than 5 months, I've started to forget what things I've posted before - it's all a hazy blur now. Anyway, I forgot if I wrote that there is only one water heater in the showers for each floor. I think I did. Nevertheless, let's go on to the main post.

So, we have two common bathrooms on each floor, one at each end. And the water heaters are placed at alternating ends. If I wanted to take a hot shower, I could either go up to the 2nd floor (far) or walk to the other end of my floor (further).

Unfortunately, the one in the 2nd floor bathroom is spoiled. So that leaves the heater at the other end of my floor.

Unfortunately, the door of that shower stall cannot close properly. The heater works, but the door just can't close and lock anymore.

Unfortunately, due to my cold/sorethroat/voice-loss threesome the other day, I need hot showers in the morning.

Fortunately, I'm not so insecure as to demand that my cubicle doors be locked while I'm naked inside. Therefore, I've been having a couple of showers there in the mornings. I guess I don't really feel scared about it since I do not have any friends close by who will push open the door for the sake of scaring the shit out of me.

Unfortunately, other people are not so secure in the naked form. I've seen a few guys enter the stall, try (unsuccessfully) to lock the door, and then walk out. Of course, I'm not implying that I loiter around the loo watching people enter the showers - it's just an observation I made while shaving and making up my hair (which in turn is growing wonderfully).

Fortunately, that means the water heater stall is usually free everytime I go in. You won't believe how long I've sometimes waited for insensitive clods who hog the water heaters.

A Very Long Lasting Record

I generally have no respect for people who break useless records. This is especially true when it comes to our own Malaysian Book of Records. I can't blame them though; if they actually listed only records that were worth attaining and mentioning, the whole 'book' would become a 'booklet'.

The other day, Philips held a roadshow of sorts at our college along with MTV. Philips was promoting their cellphones, and there it was on the flyer: "Philips Xenium: Certified as the Longest Battery Life Mobile Phone by The Malaysia Book of Records in 2005". They were referring to their RM469 Xenium 9@98, which features an incredible standby time of one month. Yes, you read that right - one month.

Impressive as that may be, it does not deserve a mention because One, competing technology will break that record before the Book is even published. And Two, Philips is not a Malaysian company. Yes, I feel that the Malaysia Book of Records should only confine to the so-called 'achievements' of fellow Malaysians, no matter how trivial they are. Philips is a Swedish company, and I think they should be competing instead with Ikea in the Sweden Book of Records.

But then again, I doubt the Swedish are so thick skinned.

04 October 2005

Quote of the Day

"I don't blame you, it's only my own intelligence." -Mr. Yap, lecturer

03 October 2005

A New Outlook

To commemorate.... er, nothing in particular, I have decided to torture my visitors by changing my blog template. I just felt it needed a design overhaul, and in doing so I have earned a one way ticket to the Usability Hall of Shame - changing designs for no apparent reasons.

But I do hope you like this one better, although it shows less text per screen than the previous one (and in a smaller font size too!). Some important side bar items have been moved up (the previous posts), while some have moved down (my face).

All in all, I like it.

02 October 2005

Edison Who?

While I was having dinner with the guys last night, I received a call from a Private Number. My voice has not yet fully recovered by then, so it was a strained conversation. Worse, it was more of a strange conversation.

It went something like this:

Me: Hello?

Private Number: Hello, can I speak to, er, [Zemien]? (Replace Zemien with my real name)

Me: Yes, that's me. Who's this on the line?

Private Number: It's me, Edison. Do I know you?

Me: Er, Edison? I don't know you. Do you know me?

Edison: I don't know. But I was looking through my phone contact's and I came upon someone called [Zemien $!&] (insert my full name here).

Me: Yes, that's me.

Edison: Yea, that's why. I don't recall you at all. Where are you now?

Me: Er.... (a little wary) I'm in Nilai, studying.

Edison: What? I can't here you! (I lost my voice, remember?)

Me: Er... Negeri Sembilan!

Edison: Oh, you're not in Penang? What are you doing there?

Me: (sighs) I'm studying. College.

Edison: What college?

Me: [My college name]

Edison: Oh, in Nilai izzit?

Me: (sighs again) Yes...

Edison: I was studying there last year, but came back already.

Me: What course were you in?

Edison: Computer Science.

Me: Oh... I see. But I don't remember you la.

Edison: Neither do I! But I just wanted to know who this person was. If I can recall back I'll let you know, ok?

Me: Oh, alright. I'll do the same. Bye bye, take care.

Edison: Bye!

Sheesh.... I wish it was Edison Chen calling, but he didn't study in my college, so obviously it's not the Chen variety. But still, I have established a common link (same college and line of study) and yet do not recall him. I asked my peer in Computer Science and she does not remember any Edison at all. Mysteriously, I checked through my own phone's contact list and there is an Edison listed there that I don't remember either! I'm not sure whether it's the same Edison because he called me from a private line.

Either way, I let the matter drop and continued my awful dinner. If we are meant to meet again we will. But I wonder what kind of person he was that made me forget him so fast?

01 October 2005

Reason for My Diarrhea

I sincerely think I have solved a long-standing mystery to my constant minor diarrhea. When I do my business every morning, it will usually come out watery or at least, not solid. I don't feel any other discomfort such as stomach cramps so I did not bother with it. This has been happening for quite some times, and I really don't know why it took me so long to figure it out.

In the beginning, I blamed it on the cheap spirulina supplements I got from China. But now that I have finished all 1000 tablets of it, I don't see it getting any better. And then today, I concluded that I kept getting the runnies due to the oily food here.

For example, when I was having my packed rice lunch today, I noticed it was extremely oily. So I tilted my hand sideways, and 3 minutes later, I realized how much oil was in there. There is probably enough for me to fry an egg or two, which was a big no-no.

Imagine, all that excess oil going into my stomach and not being absorbed.... Yuck with a capital Y! This was such a far cry from the food I had at the temple last week. The food there was not too oily, not too salty, not too heaty, not too dry. Of course, it was not too tasty either, but it was sure healthy.

I'm going to try to cut down on those oily gravy and see how it goes.