28 February 2006

Uncomfortable Silence Part 1

Mr. M walked in to the class. Just last Friday we had our first test so the results should be out today. Based on my observations so far, Mr. M is the kind of person who is never content with anybody's achievement. He is the kind of person who will grill you to do your best, and when you do, he'll ask you to do better.

That is why I don't expect the whole class to do well in his test. I think I did quite OK last Friday, but he requires perfect answers to his questions. Any deviation from the answer script where he can't find the keywords, and you're toast. Anyway, once he was at his table he called out my name loudly, "Who is [Zemien]?"

I was shocked.

-------ONE WEEK AGO--------
By Thursday I was feeling frustrated. Since Wednesday night I had done nothing but memorize for Mr. M's test. I knew I had to get the keywords exactly right but it's just so damn hard. I created flashcards to help me remember, but it's still a lot of cramming. Every time I think I have got it right, I'll forget it after the next card. So I spent more than 12 hours just to get 22 flashcards into my head.

Even so, I have forgotten some of the finer details by Friday itself. I was disappointed that my 12 hours seem to be wasted. And besides that, I have neglected my other 3 subjects. I have many assignments that could have been completed sooner, but I chose instead to do some mindless rote learning and I'm afraid even that was wasted.

But I reassured myself before starting the test. I reassured myself that no matter what the question is I will be able to recall the facts. And then I did the test.

My mind came back to the classroom. I nervously raised up my hand. I didn't know what to expect - did I do extremely well? Did I do extremely bad?

[Come back tomorrow for the conclusion to today's post]

27 February 2006

Free Frenzy

The Sun newspaper started it all. Around 5 years ago (or more), they made their newspaper free. They placed their newspapers at designated public areas every morning, and they are usually snapped up within hours. Who cares if it doesn't have much content? It's free!

Then, a new free publication called Malaysian Today started last year. It is thinner than The Sun, and contains only sports news, local varsity news, and entertainment fluff. It's distributed around many colleges, including ours, and is published every 3 days or so. As usual, students grab it up quickly even though it doesn't qualify as a newspaper. But what can we expect? It is free!

Until The Star came along, that is.

The Star, Malaysia's premier English newspaper, debuted the R.age pullout last year. It is a youth-centered publication and they did a trial run in Klang Valley. As a result of its success, it is now distributed in many colleges as well. But they're not just distributing the pullout, they're distributing the daily paper as well.

That's right - all RM1.20 of it is now free. It is the real deal and contains the actual newspaper being sold outside. As a result, you will see a crowd of eager students rushing to get a copy. Nevermind the fact that they won't read it - it's free!

The Star really raised the bar in terms of free publications. Although it is only done in campuses, I expect other newspapers are shaking in their boots. I wonder if New Straits Times will follow suit?

Of course I realize that all this is a thinly-veiled attempt at marketing. It doesn't matter if they say it's to "encourage the reading habit" among young Malaysians, I know what they're up to. By giving The Star out for free, it will increase its readership among the 20-24 year olds. And if you still haven't realized it, 20-24 year olds are an advertiser's dream audience as we are the biggest spenders (the yuppies). With this in mind, The Star can effectively raise its advertising rates by claiming that "lots of young rich people read it".

Pinky, are you thinking what I'm thinking?

26 February 2006

Who Said It Was Relaxing?

Dad commented that since I swim about thrice a week nowadays, it must be a relaxing activity. My first thought was, "Who said anything about relaxing?"

I consider swimming as a strength training exercise. I've noticed since I started the semester that I've begun losing muscle mass so I'm using my swim time to really work out. Of course, I don't have much muscle mass in my arms to begin with. Which makes it even more important that I maintain what little muscle I've got. My body is pathetic enough as it is, so I gotta keep the regime going.

I could join the college gym, but it is quite pricey. A few weeks ago I had seriously considered joining it, but I did some calculations and concluded that I needed to visit the gym an hour every other day to make the membership fee worth it. I don't even have much time for work nowadays, much less workouts.

But I did promise myself to join a gym once I start working so I can have something to show off at the beach. Who knew I could be so shallow?

25 February 2006

Fulfilling A Childhood Dream

Not long ago, I did write how I enjoyed not wearing a watch, but when I saw this watch at Mydin the other day, I went ecstatic:

How couldn't I? It has so many buttons! It has an 8-digit calculator! It can display the date!

I remembered how envious I was when one of my friends wore it during my primary school days. It was very expensive back then, and if I'm not mistaken Casio was the most popular brand.

Realising that this is a chance for me to fulfill an old wish, I decided to buy this "Kenko" watch. Who cares if it's a cheap rip-off? I also know it makes me look like those migrant workers who cart off truckloads of cheap electronics, but since I don't have a watch right now I have a legitimate excuse.

Plus, you can't argue with the price - RM2.90. That's 78 US cents for a fully functional calculator watch, mind you. I feel like a kid all over again! :)

24 February 2006

Uncommon Decency

The strangest thing happened when I went to the campus toilet this morning. There was a guy in front and when he entered the toilet he held the door open for me. I was shocked and stopped. He actually turned and faced me, and it was obvious he was holding the door for me. I thought that maybe his friend was behind me but there was no one. I have never seen this fella before, so it was definitely strange that he was so polite.

I quickly stepped in and muttered "Thanks", and he returned a "Welcome". I was too surprised that I didn't get a good look at his face or talk to him. I would have wanted to know where he is from because he sounded like a Chinese from his accent. But then again, it is hard to judge a person's accent from a single word.

The point is, I couldn't believe that such decency still exists. Men may hold open the door for a girl they admire, but he was a complete stranger. Even I don't do such things. The most I would do is to push the door back further so the other person can quickly slip in before the door shuts. But Mr. Decent actually turned around and held the door, meaning that it is a deliberate action.

I'm gonna pass it on and do that to someone else too. And so should you.

23 February 2006

Some Things Never Change

This week and the next is turning up to be the most hellish weeks of college for me. I have a super-difficult test tomorrow that I am not prepared for, and three assignments to hand in next week. But I still managed to sneak in 45 minutes to watch the premier of the new Power Rangers: Mystic Force.

Yup, you read that correctly - a young adult watching Power Rangers. Rest assured I'm not a fan of the series, but I just wanted to see how far it has come since the first season more than 10 years ago. The verdict: It's still as corny as ever. The acting sucks and while the special effects have come a long way, it cannot help the lacklustre story.

This is the 14th version of Power Rangers, and many elements of the story have remained unchanged. It is usually a group of 5 teenagers (3 guys and 2 girls) who discover their morphin' abilities through a wise mentor. In fact, Wikipedia's article on the Power Rangers have basically broken down their episode plots into:
  1. Rangers are seen in everyday life with a dispute to resolve.
  2. Rangers are attacked by evil enemy's minions/footsoldiers.
  3. Rangers fight minions/footsoldiers.
  4. Rangers morph.
  5. Rangers defeat minions/footsoldiers.
  6. Evil enemy revives minion and makes minion grow to gigantic proportions, followed by Rangers summoning giant machines known as Zords and/or their combined form, the Megazord.
  7. Optional: Rangers find that their current powers are insufficient to defeat monster and discover a new power, such as a Battlizer armor for the Red Ranger, a sixth Ranger, or a new Megazord.
  8. Rangers fight and defeat said giant minion, usually using a flashy trademark move.
  9. Rangers are shown back in everyday life, having learned a life lesson which solves the earlier dispute.

And that, my friends, is Power Rangers for you. 14 years ago, 5 years ago, and 5 years from now, it will always be the same. Though I wonder, do they have to make them take so long to transform? Not to mention amateurish?

Urgent Notice to All Students

Click on the image for large version:

(Picture acquired from David, who got it from a forum)

22 February 2006

The Problem With Being Friendly

I have lamented in the past about how the hostel residents are usually unfriendly towards each other. Not unfriendly in the sense that "I will kick your ass if you play your music over 80dB, you shit!", but unfriendly in the sense that we don't acknowledge each other in the corridor. We usually act ignorant and only smile at those we personally know.

I think this is not a good way to live in a community, but do you realize how tiring it would be if I knew everyone on my floor? I would have to smile and nod my head at every one of them, and that is just plain annoying. Everytime I go to the common bathroom I will pass by at least one guy, so imagine the inconvenience of having to say "Hi" 50 times a day.

Just this morning as I walked back from class I greeted about 4 or 5 people. And that was troublesome enough as I had to make sure I see them before they see me, as per my CFTDS theory. Let's assume I knew everyone in college - I would have to force a smile and nod my head every 0.3 seconds or else I'd be labelled as 'stuck up'. And that's enough to make anyone unfriendly.

21 February 2006


I have found my new favourite music genre - chillout.

Chillout music was popularised by Ministry of Sound a few years back. Ministry of Sound, if you don't know, is a UK-based international chain of night clubs specializing in electronic music. I'm not an expert at nightclubs, so you should just read Wikipedia's entry about one of the most famous nightclubs in the world.

Of course, Ministry of Sound did not invent chillout music but they helped make it famous. Again, you should read Wikipedia's detailed entry about the genre. I myself do not know all about it, except that it's some GOOD SHIT. Oops, there I go with the "S" word again.

I'm not a club-goer, so how did I stumble upon this magnificent genre? Basically, I had vaguely heard how famous Ministry of Sound is. And then one day while I was plying through the latest torrents, I came upon a MoS Chillout compilation. I'm not a fan of disco music, but I decided to give it a little try since I like any music meant for chilling out. And I was not disappointed one bit.

Chillout represents the perfect kind of music because they are really relaxed and smooth, yet they won't make you sleepy as it has been jazzed up with electronic beats. So what you get is something that is perfectly in the middle - not too fast, not too slow. It really puts my mind at ease and enables me to concentrate without making me want to shake my booty on the bedroom floor.

Yes, I do shake my booty on the bedroom floor once in a while.

20 February 2006

I Won't Say That

I delayed this post just in case it spoils your mood on Valentine's Day.

A few days ago The Star had an article on speed dating. Some speed daters were interviewed, and what this 30 year old guy said really struck me:
”Because my past relationships didn’t work, I became fussy in my requirements. I also fell into the trap of thinking that I didn’t need someone, so I feel like I’ve wasted the best years of my life.”
I promise that when I turn 30, I would have no reason to say that.

Deeteereoraereeng Part 3

I'm not alone. It is a good editorial piece about how technology is helping erode the language.

19 February 2006

That Tingly Feeling

Have you tried the Dettol Cool shower cream? If you haven't, I urge you to give it a shot. It has menthol crystals, which means it gives your body a cool feeling. I tried it last night and I loved it, especially since it makes my privates feel tingly. I don't know about you, but if there's anything that can make my genitals feel tingly... I love it!

(This community service announcement is not endorsed by Dettol)

18 February 2006

That's the Way, Aha Aha, I Like It

We have had the perfect weather pattern for a few days now. If this can go on, I have absolute faith that it would bring about world peace. Mornings skies will be perfectly blue, but it wouldn't be too hot nor too cold. As noon rolls around, it would start getting hot. But there's no need to worry, as no matter how scorching it gets, the sky will suddenly turn dark around 3pm and heavy rain will start to fall. This effectively makes the evening cool.

I consider this weather pattern as perfect because there's a perfect balance between sun and rain. There's enough hot sun to make the crops grow and enough rain to water them. And we only have to suffer the glaring sun for a maximum of 4 hours each day. If this doesn't relieve the North Korea nuclear tension, I don't know what will.

30 Minute Specials Part 2

The power tripped. Again. It didn't even wait till I was snugly in bed before going off. I really don't know if it's something in the wiring, or something someone's using. All I know is that no one's doing anything about it besides just flipping the power on again everything this happens.

30 Minute Specials

I am annoyed. In this semester itself, my side of the floor kept experiencing power trips. Yes, it's not the whole hostel block, not even the whole floor - just my side of the floor (of all floors in the world). There's no knowing when it will happen, but the electrician usually takes 30 minutes to come and switch everything back on again. It's only 4am when I woke up feeling particularly hot. Then I suddenly realized that the ceiling fan was not, well, fanning me. I don't think the guy in charge will take 30 minutes to arrive in this ungodly hour so I'm just venting my frustration right now. As you can see, I can't even be bothered to put line breaks in my forced early morning daze.

Wait a minute - the power just came back on! All hail the electrician! Long live the line break!

17 February 2006

NFTC: Watching the 'Dumb' Monks

June 11 1977
From behind, a little voice, "Hey, mister, aren't you unbarrassing yourself?" We keep bowing. Again, "Hey, mister, what are you doin'?" "We're Buddhist Monks. We're praying," I answer him. "What are you doing?" "Watching you be dumb," he answers without hestitation.

Looking over to my left I see oodles of people in swimming suits playing vollyball, sunbathing, swimming, surfing, sailing, eating - just plain old Saturday afternoon good times at the ocean. I start looking pretty "dumb" to myself sometimes. Baking in this hot sun under T'ang Dynasty robes, picking glass and gravel out of my hands and forehead . . . that water looks so inviting though, and we still look "dumb". Then I remember my vows and how clear and happy my heart was when I make them; and suddenly the bowing and the gravel and the broken glass feel right at home. Never been happier, never looked more "dumb". The Avatamsaka says, " . . . all happiness in the world is suffering." We are finding the converse is just as true: all suffering of cultivation is happiness.

Disciple Heng Ch'au
bows in reverence

Goldfish Memory

I heard from somewhere that goldfish only has a 4 second attention span. I feel like a goldfish nowadays - my short term memory is going from bad to worse!

I sometimes have interesting ideas for blog posts, but if I don't quickly write it down I will forget it. It really is annoying! As I was shitting* in the toilet this morning I had an excellent idea for a blog post, but when I finally went back to my laptop I had forgotten all about it. It is so frustrating to have the thought lingering at the tip of my tongue, but never be able to speak it.

So when I think of a new topic I will quickly write them and then save it as a draft. It will then be posted later. In fact, the last 5 or so posts (including this) were all written way earlier. I will then post one each day.

*shit, shat, shitted. I could use a politically-correct term like "passing motion", but what's the use of disguising a natural animal behaviour?

15 February 2006

Morning Rituals

I lived a stone throw's away from my secondary school, literally. Back then, school started at 7.45am. My friends would always tease me that I could wake up at 7.40am and still be punctual. But they were usually shocked to know that I wake up around 6.30am. They couldn't understand what I had to do in the morning that took an entire hour but I usually find it sufficient and necessary.

Taking a bath and other personal grooming takes up about 30 minutes, while another 30 minutes is spent on having breakfast and packing my school bag. My breakfast staple was cereal with milk and I absolutely loved it. I would pour the milk and let it soften the cereal before drinking it to the last slurp. A lot of youngsters do not take breakfast but it has somehow been ingrained into my DNA that I must have breakfast, no matter what. It is the most important meal of the day, after all.

Not surprisingly, this habit has been carried over to my college days. I sometimes have 8am classes. While some of my peers (and David too) will wake up 7.45am, and change into their day clothes before walking to class, I will set my alarm to 6.40am. It'll take me an hour just to get ready and have breakfast, with a little time left over to read the latest news.

What can I say? I blame the Capricorn in me.

14 February 2006


I have not been wearing my wristwatch for a few weeks now and I think it has made me happier. During boring lectures, I become fidgety and restless as I keep wondering why only 5 minutes have passed when it felt more like a hundred years? I would keep looking at my watch and get distracted from the lecture.

My watch is one of those metal clasp types, and a few weeks ago the hook became loose. It would unhook itself every 5 minutes and it became very annoying so I stopped wearing it. I noticed the positive change almost immediately - I was more attentive during lectures and even boring ones passed over quickly. If I need to know the time, I just whip out my handphone. But I refrain myself from using the handphone as my primary timepiece.

When I brought the watch home last week, I wanted to get the watch readjusted at a proper shop but Dad valiantly said he could do it. He didn't. In fact, he sorta made it worse so I didn't bring the watch back. So basically I am without a good watch now, but I don't think I miss it all that much.

13 February 2006

Graduating from the 'P' Sticker

After Malaysians pass (or pay enough money for their) driving test, we are required to display a "P" sticker on both ends of our vehicle. This is a clear indication to other drivers that you are:
  1. reckless
  2. inexperienced; and
  3. unafraid of Death
Therefore, they serve a real good purpose and P drivers are more easily forgiven for doing things like making a sudden turn without signalling.

Due to these fringe benefits, I left my P sticker on way after the 2 year obligation. I figured, "Hey, if this little P makes me the King of the Road, why not keep it there?" But a few months back I reluctantly removed it after realizing its disadvantage.

It is a crazy theory, but I think the highway police prey on innocent P drivers. I was once pulled over while on my drive back to Penang last year. I panicked and paid the RM50 bribe the officer asked for. Reflecting on the event, there was no way for them to have known who broke the speed limit. There were some other suspicious circumstances, but I do not recall them now.

Needless to say I formed the theory and promptly removed my P sticker. I have not been pulled over since, but I think smarter driving helped too.

I Choose To Be Naive

David tricked me again. He loves playing practical jokes on others, me included. It wasn't that long ago that he locked me in my own room. I really don't know what pleasure he gets from telling lies, but it's in his nature.

I have given up trying to advise him on the downfalls of liars and practical jokers. When he tricked me again just now, I decided to forget about it. No point getting all fed up. I may be naive and easily conned, but that is my choice. I prefer to view my glass as half-full and be optimistic that there are honest people around me.

12 February 2006

Pivotal Moments Part 3

My friends and I went to the new Jaya Jusco shopping mall in Seremban last night but I wasn't in the mood the whole evening. While sitting on a bench waiting for the girls to finish shopping, I spotted an Indian toddler walking alone, with her parents following behind. I was immediately transported back to my childhood.

When I went shopping with my parents, I would be asked to do the same as well - walk in front. But I never liked to do so. I preferred walking behind them so I know where they turned. My primary fear was that they would leave me alone or I didn't follow them.

And in fact, it has happened before. I would turn around and to my shock, they aren't there! I would usually try to calm myself and look for them. I had to reassure myself that no, they didn't abandon me. But I remember feeling hurt anyway, that they would leave me alone. They were usually just around the supermarket aisle, but I was traumatised anyway.

Actually, I wouldn't have remembered that if not for a similar event earlier. We went to Jaya Jusco in two cars, and I arrived first. While waiting for the other car, we entered Popular book store and browsed around. However, after reading some books I realized that everyone else had deserted me. They didn't bother to notify me or anything of that sort.

I was hurt but I kept a brave face. I was annoyed but I didn't show it. I walked around the mall alone for the better half of the hour. "Hey, I've done this before," I consoled myself. But there's no denying it - I disliked how they left me there alone.

Reflecting back, I think that these two separate events are somehow related. I have been conditioned to be a macho guy - never crying, never breaking down. When I'm abandoned, I'll keep walking and tell myself it's OK. They never really left you. Just keep walking. Show a brave face. Keep walking. You'll soon find them. Keep walking. No need to be angry. Keep walking.

Just keep walking.

11 February 2006

Deeteereoraeteeng Part 2

I think I discovered the reason behind my increasingly-terrible spelling: short messages! Over the past two years I have really taken up Instant Messaging and SMSing. And within these two mediums I will use all sorts of abbreviations like "2" to mean "two" and "too", and also "its" to mean both "its" and "it's".

No wonder my spelling got worse - my mind is getting lax! I really can't help it because each SMS is limited to 140 characters, but I think I'll use more proper spelling when chatting online.


Back in secondary school, I was one of the best students when it comes to English. I routinely won school essay competitions every year, and I'm praised by many of my English teachers. It wasn't that great, really, but I did have some flair for writing essays. So my spelling was almost impeccable to a fault.

Lately though, I find that my spelling (and grammar) is deteriorating. I haven't been writing enough. Sure, typing assignment reports require me to use English but the words I use are so mundane, technical, and dull. It has been a long time since I wrote a beautiful story that actually inspires and moves people. Seriously!

My spelling has taken a turn for the worse when I recently began confusing words that sound the same. I have caught myself using the wrong spelling numerous times now, and the trend is worrying. Some of the words I keep confusing are:
  • it's and its

  • deadline with dateline

  • bear and bare

  • thought and taught

  • leaving and living

  • this and these

I hope it doesn't get any worse.

10 February 2006

Future You

How would you like to send an email to the future? Now you can.

Have you heard of those 'time capsules' that are planted in a prominent location, to be opened 10, 20 years in the future? Malaysia's Petronas Twin Towers has a time capsule containing a message from our previous Prime Minister Mahathir, to be opened in 2020 (or something like that). Other time capsules, like the one at the Singapore Science Centre, contain the latest technology gadgets of today. So when it is opened in the next decade, everyone can have a good laugh at how stupid we were.

If prominent politicians can leave a message for the future, why not us? That is the idea behind FutureMe, a free e-mail time capsule service. Basically you enter your email address (or other people's), the message, and the date which you want it to be sent. It may sound funny, weird, strange, etc. But it is actually a very good exercise and I urge all of you to try it.

When you actually start writing a letter to your future self, you are forced to be introspective. You have to really analyse your life and confront all the present issues. Imagine opening the email a decade from now and laughing at how innocent we were! It therefore becomes proof that we have grown and became wiser over time.

I wrote an email to myself, to be sent in 2016. It was a great exercise to write the entire message, and I wrote about my life, my aspirations, my loves, and my expectations for my future me. I can't share the full contents of my email, but you can read the first paragraph:

I do hope this email finds you well. How is global warming doing? At this time, scientists are getting worried that they have underestimated the effects of greenhouse effect, et al. I wonder... are you reading this email from an igloo?

There is no guarantee that the website will survive that long, so the creators are asking for donations. And we can login in the future to change our e-mail address, just in case World War 3 wipes out Gmail before 2016. I highly encourage everyone to invest a little time for this time capsule - it might just change your life.

09 February 2006

First Meetings

I'm back! ... sort of. I can't decide if I'm still depressed, but the fact that I'm writing probably means I'm not. At any rate, writing is one of the things that can keep me sane. Updates may not come as regularly, but they will come even if I need to drill a hole in my skull.

Anyway, there's something magical (read: embarrasing) about meeting someone for the first time. Whether it is a first date or just a normal encounter, it is indeed exciting to guess the person's face as he or she steps into the meeting area. The excitement is increased if both parties have spoken on the phone or chatted online, as we already have a preconceived image of what that person should look like.

Our college counselling centre organizes a peer tutor programme, where better students can help the weaker ones out. As I love teaching, I signed up to be a tutor from the very first semester. I had a couple of students in that semester, but after that I lay dormant until this semester. I was assigned a Civil Engineering student a few days ago and we exchanged a few SMSes to plan our first meet up.

I arrived early so I had to endure the agony of waiting. Everytime a new guy walks in I had to assess whether it was him. Just now, a guy loitered around aimlessly, and so I thought it was the CE guy. I walked up to him, "Are you CE?" He shook his head left and right. I hurriedly said a "sorry" and went back to my seat. When the real CE eventually came in, he also looked confused but I took the first step in reaching out my hand.

06 February 2006

I Really Needed That, Thanks

I just blogged about how unhappy I am, but after reading last Sunday's Pearls Before Swine comic, I am less unhappy. It is frankly one of the best jokes I have ever seen and the characters are just so cute.

Thanks Pearls Before Swine!

[Pearls Before Swine is drawn by Stephan Pastis and distributed by UFS, Inc. The above comic was used without permission]

Searching For A Reason

Life has a way of punching you in the groin when you least expect it. That's what has happened to me and I'm still reeling from the pain. I'm currently lost in limbo, and I need some time to realign my purpose. That's why I need to take a break from blogging, so that I can rediscover my life.

Stress has rarely overwhelmed me, but it has and I'm starting to break down. It is not only my stalled final year project but also some personal issues I have with people. I wish I could write about them here, but the blog is a little too public for that. It's a common phenomenon whereby a person under stress will feel helpless because there's just too many things to do.

But I won't allow myself to stop functioning. I will spend some time prioritizing my life - 'studies' on top and 'love' right at the bottom - and then rebound back. Stronger. Calmer. Better.

Are You Fearless?

I watched Fearless with HWMNBN* last Wednesday night. I couldn't believe how packed the cinema was! I mean it's already 3 days after the official Lunar New Year but there were still so many people! We wanted to catch the 7.30pm show but it was already sold out. The next showtime at 9.25pm was quite packed too and there weren't any good seats.... except for a couple seat. I was afraid people might feel queer seeing two guys in a couple seat but I had to choose between having a good view or having a big ego.

In short, I picked the couple seat.

And my first impression was, "WOAH". It was my first time in a couple seat (never been on any movie date before, really!) and the feeling of the bigger seat is just bliss. I really don't mind paying an extra ringgit just to have a more comfortable seat. Though it is supposed to be two seats combined into one, it felt way more comfortable than that!

Ahem, on to the movie itself. I think it is one of the best kung fu films ever. I am sick of all the usual good-guy-avenges-for-lost-family-by-killing-bad-guy storyline, and Fearless really pulls this off gracefully. Jet Li plays both the hero and villain of the story and I really love movies where people actually change and not just stay a 2D character.

Since it is based on a true story, viewers simply can't expect the ending to be a rosy one. I think the final scene really embodies the name of the movie. But don't be fooled by all the philosophical talk - Jet Li really delivers his best punches and kicks in all the fight scenes. I still wonder why he tried to make Hollywood movies.

In the end, while it may disappoint people who expect a feel good kung fu movie, it exceeded my expectations with its story of how one man learned to be truly fearless.

*HWMNBN: He Who Must Not Be Named. He is just too private, and forbade me to write about us actually buying a couple seat. But what's done is done, I say.

04 February 2006

Get Off My Back Please

Since Dad's Chinese New Year break is as long as mine, he's home 98% of the time and his presence is very uncomfortable. I rarely have any private time to myself because he could just suddenly pop his head over my door (I mean that figuratively). And I have to accompany him for most meals and follow him out. Worse, I have to listen to his (mostly) lame jokes and offer a fake epileptic laugh.

He's a nice person to be around, but there's also too much of a good thing. And when he is annoyed, it kind of rubs off on me too. This holiday reminds me of the time when Dad was laid off during the 1997 economic crisis. He was unemployed for a few years so most of the time he is at home and it really bugged me. I had to inform him of my whereabouts constantly and I felt really caged in. Of course, I was much younger then but it is happening all over again now.

That's the disadvantage of being the only child - there really is no one else for him to bug.

03 February 2006

The Magical Toss

In Chinese tradition, we will offer incense and food to our departed relatives on certain occassions. The biggest celebration is the Chinese All Saints Day, known in Hokkien as Cheng Beng. But during auspicious dates like the Chinese New Year, some people also perform the offerings.

I missed last year's Cheng Beng because I was in Nilai, so Dad suggested we go pay respect to my paternal grandma at the temple where her ashes lay. I agreed whole-heartedly.

Now, after we offer some food to the departed (usually vegetarian), we will wait a few minutes for them to "eat" the food. And to find out if they are "finished" with the offerings, we carry out a simple ritual. We clasp two identical coins between our palms and mentally ask the departed if they have finished eating. And then we just release the coins without purposely throwing or spinning it. If both coins land on their opposing sides (one head and the other tails) then the departed is considered to have done eating. If both coins show the same side, it is presumed that the meal is still ongoing and we will have to wait a few more minutes before repeating the process. Instead of coins we sometimes use a pair of wooden crescents. The point is to have two identical items with distinct opposing sides.

Here comes the interesting part of the post. Anytime Dad or my aunts do the ritual, it rarely (almost never) succeeds on the first toss. However, when I do it, my grandma will respond in the affirmative on the first try. E-v-e-r-y-t-i-m-e. Dad kept reminding me of my "special ability" every time we do this, and in fact I have never failed. Just today Dad tried twice but the coins showed the same side. But on my first try it showed opposing sides. I couldn't help but smile.

Was it just sheer coincidence all these years or do the laws of probability bend when I toss the coins? You decide.

Encik Yap Berkata

There is a new language translation website that will translate English webpages into the Malay language. It is still under testing so the translation capabilities are quite limited but very speedy. Obviously the best way to test it is to translate this blog, and you can read the very funny translation.

The funniest part happened to be Mr. Yap's quotable quotes. The following is the list of his sayings after LinguaWeb translated them. And I think it just made them funnier. Of course, it will only be familiar to those who know Mr. Yap, so I apologize to all my other readers. But really, it's too funny not to post:

(You can read the original English versions somewhere in my sidebar)

"Sesetengah daripada anda orang-orang lelaki hebat sangat, ia... adalah... melebihi pemahaman saya."

"Biar saya menjadi satu Buddha untuk seminggu."

"Saya tidak tahu jika ia adalah cara yang betul atau tidak, tetapi saya tidak peduli."

"Cuba menjadi sedikit pandai mungkin, tetapi nyata tidak cukup pandai."

"Menghalang saya, sila, menghalang saya. Sesuatu anda tidak melihat, perhentian adil saya."

"Mata anda adalah satu kebaikan organ pada tubuh anda, ia ditunjukkan banyak barang"

"Ini adalah penting, sangat amat penting, kerana ia penting."

"Saya tidak menyalahkan kamu, ia hanyalah perisikan sendiri saya."

02 February 2006

Overzealous Overspender

I'm a pretty detailed person. I usually track every cent I spend in my trusty diary. I used to calculate my monthly spending but I don't do it anymore because I know I can control myself. But when I came back last Saturday I didn't take my diary so I decided that for a week I wouldn't care what I spent on. After all, I have my ang pow earnings to support me.

And so far I've been doing very good. Today, I treated Dad to dim sum before going to karaoke, followed by a sip at Starbucks. Those are some things I wouldn't do otherwise, as knowing I have to write "Starbucks: RM8.40" in my diary will send me into cardiac arrest. Although I need to focus entirely on researching my final year project now, I'll look into ways to burn cash before I go back to my penny-pinching habits next week.

Hmm... the thought is just plain delicious.

01 February 2006

Epileptic Fits

I went out with friends the other day, and one of them was particularly good with the jokes. As everyone laughed, I realized the unfortunate truth - I laugh like a mime. My mouth opens widely and my face contorts as if I'm having an epileptic fit, but no sound ever comes out of it. Not even a little "har, har"! One of these days someone will probably shove a slipper in my mouth to try and prevent me from eating my tongue.