30 June 2006

Belated Mother's Day Post

This post is inspired by Calvinsanity's recent posts. Shocking, and heartbreaking. I figured I better do this post before that feeling went away.

Anyway, the more observant among you will notice that I don't write much about Mum. Which is kinda strange coz sons are usually closer to their mothers. I don't write much about Dad as well, but I certainly mention him more often. Before you pull out the tissues, no, she's not dead. This isn't a post designed to make you cry at all.

My parents divorced when I was 12. I don't remember much of their marital problems before that, but I certainly matured a lot afterwards. To say that I was devastated would be an understatement. Before she left, I was closer to her (as sons usually are). It was a hard time adjusting to life without her. And I wasn't very close to Dad at the time, so I was a pretty lonely teenager.

Ironically, the real heartbreak came as I grew older. Many of the facts were hidden from me as I was still young, but I learnt more about them over time. One of the hardest things for me to reconcile is the fact that she left us. She left ME. Every Mother's Day, I see advertisements proclaiming a mother's eternal love. If that were true, why did she leave? And it certainly wasn't a last minute decision. According to Dad, she had told him that she had been planning to leave the marriage for many years. She only waited because she wanted me to be a little older before she left.

Another sore point I have with Mum is the way she approached the divorce. Her character is the shy type, and she would never ask for a divorce straight to my Dad's face. Instead, she created situations to compel my father to be the one to ask. She routinely came home late from work, and rarely went out with us as a family. The last straw was quitting her stable job and getting a job in Hong Kong (and later Rome). It was clear her intention was to be far from Dad, and I think he finally got the clue. Probably during one of their arguments, Dad asked if all she wanted was a divorce. And that set the ball rolling.

The divorce process itself was quick and painless. Mum was professional enough not to claim anything, and parental rights were automatically given to Dad. There was no contest on her part, and I'm thankful it went that way because Dad was probably heartbroken himself to deal with all the legal issues.

So Mum was working overseas during most of my teenage years. Till this day, I do not know what her job was. I guess she is not shy as I mentioned earlier - She is just secretive. She settled back in Penang about 3 years later and got a simple clerking job. Actually, I didn't know it was a clerking job until last year when I had to ask my grandmother. I'm not sure why she is so secretive anyway. Or maybe she is just ashamed to say that she is working in a clerking position? After all, she had a good career as a branch manager of a local bank before she left us.

So I had a slowly growing resentment towards Mum. Nowadays, she would call me about once a week for a short chat. At the end of those calls, she will always say "Love you!" I would usually reply the same thing.

But I didn't mean it. Not anymore.

My love for her has been numbed. She wasn't around for so many years, and as a result I have grown distant. I still acknowledge her as my mother of course. And as the Buddha said, I will never be able to repay my parents no matter what. So yes, there is some gratitude and respect towards her, but the passion and the feeling is GONE.

Or so I thought.

A couple of weeks ago Mum came to Nilai for a visit. She had never been to my campus before, and this was her last chance before I graduated. And as you all know, I screwed up the accommodation reservations before she had even come. I was angry, and very disappointed with myself. I kept asking myself, "It was such a simple thing for you to just put a little reminder to go collect the keys, and you couldn't even do that." I felt that by failing to do such a simple thing, I had failed as her son.

Looking back, I am puzzled. Why did I have such strong emotions towards the incident? Even while I was with her during the weekend, I felt guilty. Guilty for failing myself. As a result I was distracted and could not enjoy myself. And that made me more miserable - coz I was also a boring host.

Now I realize that even through all my denials and my disapproval of her actions, I still love her. It is my base instinct as her son. Spending that weekend with her helped bring a little more warmth to my heart, and I felt it. As she entered the train to leave for Penang, I missed her. I missed her like I was 12 again, when I would cry in my father's arms at night, wondering why Mom would leave us.

I'm not sure I can ever accept her self-centered decision to break the family, but I know that she is Mum. And I love her.

A Happy Belated Mother's Day.

Announcing DirectUML

For those of you even remotely interested, you can now download a copy of DirectUML 1.0. That's my final project software, and I feel confident enough to release the first version. Many of the diagramming aspect works fine, with some quirks here and there. So what am I doing now? I'm looking for a killer function, something that will guarantee my Distinction in this subject.

To run DirectUML, you ideally need Java 1.5, but it should run fine with 1.4. It's not included in the download, but most PCs already have it installed. If not, it's a small download (if you have broadband).

Those of you capable enough to try it, please do. And tell me what you think.

Those of you incapable of trying it, I don't blame you. (shows 'L' finger sign in front of forehead)

29 June 2006

The Spirit of Pre-U

I saw a poster announcing a "Pre-U Night", supposedly for all pre-university students. I have no qualms with having a party, but I do have a problem with their tagline "Together we experience the spirit of pre-U!"

What IS the spirit of pre-u? I'm gonna take a guess and say that it's the spirit of knowing that your parents will have to fork out tens of thousands over the next 3 years for your education.

Any other good guesses?

Joy Is...

Joy is seeing all the students in the computer lab using your software. And after the evaluation, having 90% of the students say that it is good and they liked it.

At that moment, I no longer cared if I get a 'C' for my Final Project. This, this is what I've aspired to for so many semesters, and to hell with my supervisors if they think otherwise.

But of course, I will still compel them to give me an 'A'.

28 June 2006

Cool Cups

Do you remember those plastic cups you could put in the freezer, and there is some liquid in between the cup's body that will turn to ice? So that when you make a hot drink it will become ice cold in a matter of minutes? I'm not sure what they are actually called, but I saw someone holding it this morning and it just made me think back.

I had one when I was about 10, I think. It was my absolutely favourite-est mug! Every afternoon after I had come home from school and had my lunch, I would get the cup out of the freezer and make iced Milo. I can no longer enjoy chocolate, but I sincerely believe every child should have the opportunity to taste iced Milo.

Anyway, after I finished drinking it, the mug would go back into the freezer to be used the next day. This was a common routine until one day my iced Milo tasted bitter. I didn't know what it was, but I finally figured that the plastic has cracked and the liquid inside has seeped into my drink. I'm not sure what it is, but it's definitely not plain water. Regardless, now I know why I'm still not winning any Nobel prizes. It's poisoning, I tell you!

27 June 2006

Puppy Love

Catherine mentioned today that she has a 5 month old puppy. And automatically we all went "Aww.."

That is, until she said it's a Rottweiler and it's already half her height.

26 June 2006

What A Boring Blog!

I have realized that for the past 1 year I've been writing an extremely dull and boring blog. I mean, even newcomer William can get such exotic referrals as "Joey Wong underwear". Me leh? Me??!?! People visit my blog based on such boring keywords as:
  1. nelly+furtado
  2. notice+sur+bitcomet
  3. zeem
  4. end+grown+toenails
  5. proton+satria+neo
This is just plain shocking. Where are all the keywords I want such as "Zemien+is+such+a+hot+dude+and+I+wanna+go+out+with+him"? Where?

25 June 2006

Exhaustive Speech

I have a friend, let's call him C. He doesn't call me often, but when he does, I frown a little. Not because I hate C, but because I have to do all the talking. Now, I'm much more of a listener than a talker, so I kinda dread C's calls. Whenever I see his name flash in my phone, I have to start thinking of conversation topics to entertain him. The only reason I go through all that trouble is because C's an old friend, and I can hardly push old friends away, can I?

I have another friend, W, who's the exact opposite. I also frown a little when he calls me, because I know I won't be able to get a word in. He'll just yak yak yak and all I can do is listen. Whenever I try to reply, he'll start shooting off a new string of words. Both W and C drive me up the wall, but they are much more demure in person.

Gosh, I know I sound like such a fussy friend! I'm kinda like Goldilocks, except much older and with more body hair.

Exercise High

Joshua mentioned it before, and now I agree - you feel happy after a gym session. During the workout I sometimes feel tired or bored (especially if there are no eye candy around, which happens to be most of the time). And who can forget the torture we inflict on our muscles? But the moment I step out of the gym and get a proper shower, I fell reenergized. Even if I have a lecture afterwards, I don't feel lethargic.

My explanation is quite simple. Exercise causes our body to produce endorphins - our "happy hormones". This is the same kind of hormone that is released during sex, which also explains my decreasing horny-ness. Seriously! After a gym session I don't really feel the need to spank the monkey anymore. Try it yourself! The next time your ugly excuse of a husband/wife wants to have sex but you're not in the mood, send them for a jog.

(Disclaimer: No, I'm not saying that all my readers' husbands/wives are ugly. However, if they are pretty and they want to have sex, send them for a jog to my place.)

23 June 2006

Today is Fathers Day?

I have always, always, ALWAYS thought that Fathers Day is on the second Sunday of the month. So it was with much shock when I found out that Fathers Day is actually on the third Sunday of the month.

No wonder Dad sounded puzzled when I wished him a cheery "Happy Fathers Day!" two weeks ago.

Satria Sucks

The other day the guys and I stopped at a Proton showroom to check out the new Satria Neo. Certainly not a big fan of cars but wouldn't mind seeing if it's worth the fuss.

It's not.

The space inside is equivalent to a Kancil, no kidding. If I was in the driver's seat, only a midget would fit behind me. And a small midget at that. But the boot space ain't huge either. Certainly wouldn't fit dead bodies without requiring a saw. So I wonder where all the space went?

The funniest incident that got me shaking my head in disbelief is the seat latch. On the side of the passenger's seat is a latch that will push the seat down and forward so that the midgets sitting behind can come out. After I managed to pull myself out like a circus clown exiting a Mini Cooper, I tried to lock the passenger seat back into place. But the latch wouldn't stick and it kept unlocking itself. It finally stayed in place in our 4th attempt. But when I closed the passenger door (lightly) the latch un-latched and I saw (with much glee) how the seat just pushed itself down.

That's a dose of Malaysian engineering for you!

22 June 2006

Clear Indication of A Problem

I was walking with Mum at Mid Valley basement where there are a lot of direct sales people. I passed this stall where they were selling some acne kit, and all it took was a microsecond glance at me before the salesgirl approached Mum. She asked Mum in Cantonese, "Would you like to buy this product for your son's face?"

We just kept walking on and I REFUSED to acknowledge her existence and pretended I didn't hear her. How dare she? But anyway, kind kekex recommended Dalacin-T, an antibiotic solution for acne vulgaris (what a vulgar name). A quick research on the Net showed that it is quite a common prescription, so I got a bottle at Guardian for RM31.90.

How would I know if it worked? Simple. The next time I pass that stall, the salesgirl will just ignore me.

21 June 2006

Whoa Nelly!

I've never had a high opinion of Nelly Furtado. I had the view that she only sings weird songs about being birds and eating men. I'm pretty demanding when it comes to my musical choices. Not only must the melody be catchy and unique, the lyrics must stand up to close scrutiny.

I fell in love with her recent single Maneater. Just like Pink's Stupid Girl, it has a little dash of rebelliousness with a whole serving of attitude. I downloaded her new album Loose and expected to find more of the same.

But what I got astounded me. There are quite a number of slow tracks and most of them are good. In fact, some are VERY good. My favourite thus far is "All Good Things":

Flames to dust
Lovers to friends
Why do all good things come to an end?

Very simple lyrics but the melody packages everything very neatly. The same can be said for most of the other tracks. The only song I can't stand is a completely Spanish track "No Hay Igual". It's bad enough I can't understand the lyrics, but the music attempted to bore through my skull.

For everyone else, if you have always thought of Nelly as a passing fad, get this album.

20 June 2006

A Muddy Bill of Health Part 2

(This was supposed to be posted on the 17th, but due to heartbreaking events it has been delayed)

I still remember that it started over a holiday weekend. It was a little itch in the beginning, but by Saturday it was a full-blown sorethroat. I thought it was just a normal sorethroat so I didn't feel like pestering Dad to take me to the clinic. Unfortunately, by Monday it was bad enough that I was unable to lift my feverish head off the bed. As it was a long weeked, clinics only opened the next day. After a week long antibiotic therapy I got better. But that horrible case of tonsilitis would leave many painful memories for years to come.

The tonsils are located at the back of your mouth and it is tasked with catching bacteria and viruses before it goes into your body. It is the body's first defense, and as such, it comes under quite a lot of abuse. It can sometimes get sick too, which was what happened to me. However, I didn't get treatment early enough and my tonsils were left permanently weak.

As a result, I was down with tonsilitis pretty chronically. The worst period was around 2002, where I would have to see the doctor twice a month. Basically I couldn't survive without antibiotics. The family doctor suggested to have my tonsils removed so I wouldn't get tonsilits again. It is a pretty common procedure, but Dad (and others) were against the idea. But when you can only eat soft food for month and your throat is constantly burning, tonsillectomy doesn't sound so bad at all.

At one time around 2004, I practically demanded to have my tonsils removed. I was afraid of building a resistance to antibiotics, because I was already taking pretty high-end stuff (Augmentin, for those of you in the know). Not to mention the guilt of spending RM20 for every infection. Dad relented and took me to an ENT specialist. He did lots of fancy stuff and charged us lots of fancy money, but at the end he advised me not to go for it because it's not really that serious. I felt like pulling out his tonsils there and then, because I have been denied once more. And I have no argument to go against a specialist, so that was the end of it.

Of course, being Asian, alternative treatments came into play. During the worst period I would be taking Echinacea tablets daily. Echinacea is a type of flower, and is reputed to help cure flu and colds. It had little effect on my tonsils, but any small effect is better than none. About 2.5 years back I changed to spirulina because it has more nutrients, and I've been taking it ever since.

I also implemented many lifestyle changes to curb my problem, chief among them the Three 3 C's rule. I avoided high risk items such as Coffee, Curry/Chiili, and Chocolate. I was never much of a curry and chilli fan back then but coffee was quite hard to give up. I was used to ordering iced coffee at coffeeshops, but I had to switch to barley. That habit has stuck with me, and my instinct when I sit down for a meal is to automatically order barley, even if I initially wanted something else.

As I got my condition under more control, I allowed myself to have any of the Three C's a maximum of 3 times a week. I would mark my diary to ensure I kept within my quota. By that time I had completely forgotten the wonderful taste of coffee, so it was more of a matter of avoiding curry and chilli, which I have gotten to like over the years.

I also began exercising more from last year, and it might have built up my resistance. But if you are a fan of mystical stuff, you'll love what comes next. About last April, Dad and I went on a China tour. Around the end of the trip, we went to this Feng Shui shop. The shop was commissioned by the government so the prices are pretty fair. The salesgirl marketed pixius to us. You know those pair of heavenly lions/dragons guarding some buildings? A pixiu is a similar mystical animal, and they were selling it in a small form to be worn as a necklace.

There were different colours to bring luck to different areas. I asked the salesgirl what colour is good for health. She recommended the green one. I doubt it is jade because it was only RM90. Nevertheless I have been wearing it almost everyday, and since that time I have not gotten a serious sorethroat case at all. There were times when I felt like I should go see the doctor, but it would go away by itself. So I'm proud that I have not taken antibiotics for my tonsils for over a year. Compared to the time when I would take it every fortnight, that's quite an achievement.

Next: BrokeBack Pain

19 June 2006


Replan Rethink Refocus Restrategize Realize

"When there's nothing to do, do nothing." - Ajahn Brahmavamso

In my time of dire need, chatting with Jackson and listening to a Dhamma talk by Ajahn Brahm helped me to get back on my feet. Still a little shaky but at least I don't feel like hitting inanimate objects anymore. Jackson rarely becomes my counselor, but I'm glad he was willing to listen when everyone else just talked. And listening to Ajahn Brahm has always been very enlightening because he makes understanding life so simple.

Still can't promise daily updates due to my increasing workload. If you haven't, I suggest using the RSS feeds feature. If you're using Mozilla Firefox, look for the Fizzle extension. On any other platform, there are great free software that will let you load RSS feeds. It's a great time-saver and you don't have to refresh my blog every 15 minutes :P

18 June 2006

Heartbroken Again

"Hi, had your dinner yet?"

"Yes, Mum."

"So is the room all ok?"


Mum is coming to visit me in Nilai and I totally forgotten to get the room key. I had made reservations a few days earlier but I forgot to put a reminder to pick up the key. I would have liked to blame yesterday's criticism but I believe I would have forgotten it either way. So later I have to go and reserve a 3 star hotel room, forcing Mum to pay twice the amount she would have paid IF I WOULD HAVE JUST PUT A SIMPLE REMINDER IN MY PHONE.

I am just so beaten up emotionally. Zemien, why are you slacking? :(

[Desire to fight: 100%. Energy to fight: 0%]

16 June 2006

A Muddy Bill of Health Part 1

Since my early teens, I have had a litany of health problems. I've written about some of them, but as a refresher I decided to take you guys down the road of my health history.

Around 13-14 I somehow clipped my toenail a little too short. Or perhaps it was the school shoes I kept growing out of. Either way, the nail buried itself into my flesh and I had my first ever case of in-grown toenail. My family doctor did a fairly simple surgery of cutting out the offending side, but I was warned that I would need to take extreme care of it while it was growing back in order to prevent a reoccurence.

Maybe I didn't listen well enough. Or maybe it was just meant to be. Either way, I had 4 more surgeries. On both toenails. For a grand total of 8 in-grown toenail surgeries over the course of 2.5 years. Worse, they would happen independently. So while my left toenail has just recovered, I would go to get my right toenail fixed.

It was a very depressing period because I felt guilty for spending RM80 of Dad's money for each operation. Also, I had to sit out during Physical Education 'lessons' while my friends happily kicked balls around. And I kinda wore sandals to school most of the time, which should have been a blessing. But I had to raise my toe up to avoid piercing my bare flesh with my toenail. If you need a description, just imagine a walking penguin. Then imagine me as the penguin.

My in-grown toenail problems ended when I finally relented and asked the doctor to remove the root of the nail at the side. The kind doctor had offered me this surgery since the first time, but I declined it because he said it will leave my toe looking worse than Frankenstein. OK, so that was just my description. The point is, it will be disfigured forever. But after so many months of pain, worry, and inactivity, I couldn't care less.

So if you get to meet my feet in person, don't be disgusted ok? Coz it was a price I was never willing to pay in the first place.

Tomorrow: Me, my tonsils, and I.

15 June 2006


Yesterday my college had a small Listerine roadshow whereby you just answer a simple silly question to win a small bottle of Listerine. Being me, I went for it. But when I urged my other friends to go for it too, most of them declined. Why were they ashamed? Scared that people will think that they are cheap? That could be a reason, because I'm cheap but I don't care.

Maybe if they knew that Listerine costs about 600% more than petrol, they would be rushing for it.

14 June 2006

The A

Hmm, seems like my last post didn't work. Blogger named the file "of-an-is.html" which means only 'the' and 'a' was removed.

So this is my second attempt.

[UPDATE: Blogger named this post A.html. Dammit.]

The Of A An Is

I noticed that Blogger will name my blog posts according to the title. However, they remove all articles ('the', 'a', etc) to prevent redundancy. Therefore, I purposely gave a title made up of articles to see what the file name will be.

13 June 2006

My Roommate, the Blockhead

For the past few days David has been having terrible diarrhea. After four days of no improvement, he went to see the pharmacist. After a day on over-the-counter medication, he said his condition has not improved much. After ALL that, he bought a Ramly burger for dinner.

Once again, he wins the Duh Award for 2006.

Graduation Gift

The topic came up as I was chatting with Dad over MSN the other day.

"What do you think about a China trip in October?" he asked.

I've been to China once, and although he plans to go to another part of the big country, I declined the offer. I've never been very enthusiastic about China. In fact, I'm done visiting Asian countries (except Singapore)! It's off to the West next time!

Since a trip to Europe/Australia/USA doesn't seem very plausible at the moment, I opted to ask for a close alternative: the new Apple iMac.

I know some of you will think "Holy ****! Zemien is SO spoilt! I am so NOT reading his blog anymore." But really, you're just jealous now, aren't you?

I want to get a Mac because, well, I haven't used one before. I could have easily gotten a high end gaming PC for the same price, but I think it's time to expand my horizon. And I definitely deserve the iMac because throughout 3 years of scoring straight A's, never did I once pester my Dad about sending me overseas for twinning. Plus the fact I resisted buying a Playstation2. In short, I've been a REALLY good boy.

Which reminds me, the first thing I'm gonna buy when I graduate is a PS2. I've been holding back WAYYY too long.

12 June 2006

Sock, Where Art Thou?

I have heard about the missing sock phenomena from various places (especially pop culture). It is apparently quite prevalent among washing machine users. Up until a few days ago, I have never experienced this curious phenomena. But now I can proudly proclaim how horrible it is to have only one sock. I don't even know what to do with it anymore! Maybe if another sock gets eaten up by the washing machine, I can make a proper pair again. Let's just hope their colours match, coz you have no idea how frustrating this is to an anal retentive, not to mention their King!

It is... ALIVE!

Hah! Looks like there's no further need for me to defend against scathing claims that I'm stingy by not buying a new phone. That's because it is happily vibrating again! Seems like all it needed was a good night's rest. I haven't been switching it off for quite some time, so I guess it was just showing its grumpiness. Whoever said computers don't have free will have never met my phone yet.

11 June 2006

Silent Mode

I loath being interrupted by ringtones, regardless of who it may be. This not only applies to places like the theater or library - any and all ringtones are deemed annoying. Standard "Ring! Ring!" chimes are bearable, but those resembling songs (or God forbid, Crazy Frog) make me just die a little inside.

I extend those expectations onto myself as well. 90% of the time my phone is on vibration mode so I don't disturb myself or others. The only exception is when I'm in my room and the phone is connected to the charger, since I wouldn't be able to feel the vibration then.

My Nokia 2100 has served me well despite several times being hurled down onto the concrete floor. I don't know if those incidents have anything to do with the fact that it is no longer vibrating. I noticed it yesterday when I only heard the beep, but did not feel the vibration. Restarting the phone did not work too.

So now I'm in a dilemma. Do I break my own rule and set it to yell whenever I receive a call, or do I train my ears to pick up that small "beep" sound when it should have been vibrating? Option #3: Get a new phone is just not viable at this time.

10 June 2006

Whore for Experimentation

I love trying out new and untested products, even when the previous one works fine. An example is my choice of margarine. What brand does your family use? I'm assuming no one takes pure butter anymore due to its high fat content (plus they are as hard as bricks).

My family has been taking Vitalite for more than a decade, and it has worked well so far. But last night while picking up a tub of margarine I decided to break the norm and choose something else. There's NeoSoft, which is quite good but pricey. There's Planta, which is quite cheap but is as hard as butter. Finally I tried Meadow Lea as it seems to be an established brand.

That and the fact that they are having the "50% more!" promotion. I know, I can't help being a bargain whore as well, as does Calvinsanity.

So what brand of margarine do you take? Have you even ventured beyond your comfort zone?

09 June 2006

My First Time

I couldn't see much of anything with the lights out, but with my hands I could feel EVERYTHING. I moved my hand along her smooth, naked skin. She trembled with excitement and turned around to face me. I told her, "I hope you weren't expecting a post about how I lost my virginity."

With THAT out of the way, let's get on with today's post :P There's a first time for everything. Yesterday afternoon, someone added me on MSN. It wasn't someone I recognised so I messaged him first:

Zemien: hi. who's this?
Hero: hi it's me
Zemien: and u are?
Hero: muntasser
Zemien: er..... sorry i dun remember u! maybe i call u by other name?
Hero: no,it is the first time to talk to you but you send me emails before.
Zemien: really? then where hv i met u?
Hero: we did not meet.
Zemien: Then how do i know u? wat email hv i sent u before? i really dun recall u

At first I thought he might be some arabic friend from college since his name (Muntasser) is suspiciously Muslim. But after the above chat, I'm not so sure. Then he replied:
Hero: I recived the following message;
Hey there, you haven't replied to my message?
Wanna get together and get wild??
Let me know!

I swear I have not and will not send an email asking complete strangers to get wild! I prefer making a direct call instead.

I realized that it was probably spam, and our conversation continued as such:
Zemien: huh? i hv never sent anything to anyone before! i think it must be spam. wat email did u get it from? were there any links to porn sites in there? if so i think it must be porn
Hero: scool85@hotmail.com
Zemien: well, i only use hotmail to use MSN Messenger. i dun email anyone from there. plus, i'm a guy. so i am very sure it is just spam
Hero: OK guy, what ur name!
Zemien: huh?
Hero: lets forget the email and be friends.
Zemien: hehe ok! u can call me zemien
next time u can ignore all this weird emails
Hero: where r u!!
Zemien: malaysia
Hero: and what is ur name!!
Zemien: zemien
Hero: why u take long time to reply!!!!!!!!!!!!

If you are wondering, I added him to my Block list. I may be cruel, but I really can't chat with people who:

1. Asks me questions twice, and doesn't even acknowledge that I gave him my name; and
2. Can't differentiate between '!' and '?' when asking questions.

08 June 2006

Make Your Memories Last

I sent an email to the Star's editor regarding the propaganda article (see previous post). In it, I offered three simple tips to make your photo CDs last much, much longer. I will repeat them here, in more detail.

1. Spend a bit more on higher-quality blank CDs from reputable manufacturers:
Or perhaps I should advise the inverse: Don't rely on blank CDs that cost less than RM1 per disc. Those things just don't last like they should. Instead, spend RM3-5 to get a better quality CD from 'famous' brands like Verbatim, Sony, and Kodak. One caveat though: just because you spend a lot doesn't mean the disc is good. I can't really recommend a brand but some are worth it, while others are not.

2. Burn two copies: one for storage and one for sharing or frequent use:
This makes perfect sense, doesn't it? If something is so precious, make a backup copy! After all, it only costs several ringgit more. Most CDs are wrecked due to: "wear and tear", scratching, and direct exposure to the elements. NOT because of viruses as purported by Jeffrey. Which brings me to the final point...

3. Store the backup copy in a dark, dry, and cool place:
You don't need a fine control over temperature to preserve CDs for a long time. Just stowing it at the back of a cabinet is more than adequate. This may seem a little tedious, but bear in mind that you are advised to store your normal photographs this way as well.

Any other tips to add?

07 June 2006

Of 06/06/06's and 1999s

Well, we survived yesterday now, didn't we?

All this talk about the significance of 666's are lame. Yes, perhaps the number 666 is devilish, but there's no reason to connect it to yesterday's date. It's mostly a marketing ploy to get you to watch the remake of The Omen. I didn't watch the original but I have no reason to believe the remake is better.

But you know what? At least 06/06/06 it's not as lame as using 1999 to explain the coming of Armaggedon. That's what 1999's "End of Days" used. Remember the movie? It was one of Arnold I-Don't-Know-How-To-Spell-His-Surname's poor excuse of an action movie. The whole movie is forgettable, but there was a particular line I remembered vividly.

Someone (I think it was a priest) was explaining to Arnold's character why the end of the world is coming. He explained it somewhere along these lines, "What is the year? 1999. Flip it around and you get? (suspenseful silence) 666."

That has got to be the funniest scene in the movie. Or in Skyler's words, "SO LAME CAN DIE."

I mean, how can you simply flip dates around? And what happened to the '1'? If I was the actor portraying the priest I would not be able to deliver those lines. You really are a B-grade actor if you need to say those lines just to be in a movie with Arnold. Maybe even a C-grade.

06 June 2006

Missing the X Factor

I'm only posting this now just in case you haven't watched it yet. And if you still haven't caught X-Men: The Last Stand, then you wouldn't mind the spoilers anyway.

I had very high expectations for this show - way higher than The Da Vinci Code and M:I-3 combined. I'm not a fanatic, but I'm definitely a fan. The past two movies have certainly done justice to the complex story of the X gang, and I can certainly identify with all the discrimination and their struggles. But this third movie... er... well, let's just say Hollywood screwed the franchise big time.

By killing off so many of the main and important characters, the story writers have essentially ended the franchise with no thought given to future generations. In fact, the movie should have been called "Wolverine vs. Phoenix & Magneto". Cyclops, supposedly the leader of the X-Men, appeared on the screen for less than 10 minutes.

More importantly, I couldn't really see the theme of the movie here. Their battle for equality, and the complex relationships between the X-Men were all glossed over by the writers. That is not to say I didn't enjoy the movie. I did! I only glanced at my watch only ONCE throughout the whole movie. Not many films can keep me that interested!

But I certainly wished that it ended more "appropriately". Maybe 20 years from now, they will do a new X-Men movie and continue the story from X2. This is similar to the upcoming Superman Returns, where the story continues from Superman 2 and totally ignores the existence of Superman 3 and 4.

In fact, I have a theory that superhero films have a lifespan of two movies per generation. Superman is a classic example. Batman fits the theory nicely too. The first two movies were very successful, but not the next two. But the recent Batman Begins managed to revitalize the comic. I hope the upcoming Superman Returns also manages to do this.

X-Men seems to be proving this theory. I guess we would have to wait another 10-20 years before another good X-Men movie is released. And if my theory holds water, the next Spiderman movie will stink.

Let's wait and see.

05 June 2006

Ahhh! Propaganda!

I can't believe how sublime propaganda is nowadays. Check out this article on The Star Online: Stored digital images won't last forever. Their links won't last forever as well so I'll give a brief summary:

The Federation of Commercial Photographic Society is advising digital camera users to print their photos so they could preserve them for years to come. In fact, they are "currently running a campaign to create awareness on the risk of storing digital images on recordable disks and advising consumers on the importance of printing their photos."

Can you imagine that? The most astonishing thing was said by their secretary-general Jeffrey Sek:
“One customer stored all digital images of her two-year-old child since his birth in a compact disc without making any prints. When her computer was infected, she lost everything,” he told a press conference organised by MCA Public Service and Complaints Department head Datuk Michael Chong.

And I can't believe they managed to convince Datuk Michael Chong to be a part of this. I don't blame him - he's not the most tech savvy fella after all.

Going back to what Jeffrey said, I only have one reply: "Huh?"

I don't understand how a virus infection is able to destroy all pictures in a CD. CDs are solid state storage, and if she's using CD-R (which she probably is) then there is no way to delete what is already on the disc. Yes, it's possible that the CD got scratched or spoiled. But the fact that they used a virus infection to scare people is what made me realize this is but a ploy. A ploy to get you to print all your pictures via their society's members (at 60 cents per 4R copy).

In a way, I don't blame them. They are the Federation of Commercial Photographic Society, after all.

Tomorrow: Tips on taking care of photos you already burned on a CD.

04 June 2006

10 of Life's Simple Pleasures

I was tagged by Skyler to do a meme. Some time back I was also tagged by Joshua but I never replied it. For me, I'd rather reply a hot chick's tag rather than an old friend. Plus, Joshua's school life meme is very hard for me to do. After all, my school life is included as an example under Oxford Dictionary's definition of "Boring (adj.)", as in "Zemien's school life is boring".

Anyway, it's not hard to come up with this list because I am an easily contented person. My Top 10 list of Life's Simple Pleasures are...
  1. Having someone say to me, "I love you"
  2. Spooning (the one you do on a bed)
  3. Listening to slow and passionate songs, preferably while doing the above
  4. A quiet, relaxing place for me to meditate
  5. Knowing that I managed to help someone in any way
  6. Whooping other people's ass in videogames, especially my roommate's
  7. Knowing that my blog is being read by someone other than myself
  8. Being in a leadership role (I'd rather be the Master, not the Slave)
  9. Getting a full body massage (sigh... it's been SO long...)
  10. Being able to say back, in full honesty, "I love you too".
And now for the fun part - tagging! The five lucky people are...
William - for being such a loyal commentor
Kekex - "I tag because I care". 'Nuff said
Joshua - I'm giving you the option to ignore this meme in return
Jackson - Coz you need to post something else besides forwarded e-mail jokes
Calvinsanity - You never replied my first tag also. This is your second warning.

03 June 2006

Skewed Results

Many years back I participated in a product research. The survey company was gathering feedback on a new type of potato chips quite similar to Pringles. It may come as a surprise, but there was a time when I fit the demographic for potato chips' eaters. Anyway, as is common with huge surveys, they had more than a hundred questions with many of them being repeated in order to filter out random answers. The researcher asked me questions in broken English and I replied in broken Malay.

Halfway through the survey I was asked to sample a few of the new chips. The researcher was looking at me intently so I wanted to know what he was looking for. As I put the chip into my mouth, I noticed he ticked something in the survey form. I paid closer attention and saw that he ticked the option "Saddle up". I immediately knew it was referring to how I was eating the chips. Because as you know, chips like Pringles have a definitive saddle shape. They were probably assessing how to show their advertisements based on how people usually eat. I know, how sublime of them!

To express my individuality, I ate the other chips saddle down. I'm not sure if the product is already on sale, but I certainly know I wasn't one of their valued respondents.

02 June 2006

My Blood is Worth a Bloody Keychain

So last Thursday I donated my blood (for the 6th time) during the donation drive held every semester. They love giving tokens of appreciation and I never refused any of them. But I've been keeping tabs, and it seems their gifts are beginning to deteriorate in value.

I still remember that I got a nice pen with attached lanyard last semester. And there was a year where they gave a pretty solid metal keychain. This semester, they gave those cute little keychains with an attached torchlight. You know, the ones where you press the body to activate the light? Yes, that one.

Except, none of them worked.

Rhetorical Answer 1

(This is my personal response to yesterday's rhetorical question)

Like William so wished, I would prefer to keep both. But the reality is, sometimes you gotta choose. And for me, I would always choose good friends over potential lovers.

I believe in soulmates. I don't think that there's only one person perfect for us, but there are definitely several possibilities. And those possibilities come few and far between. I believe that if I meet a soulmate, I will immediately know. I may feel a connection with everyone else, but I am confident that I will just feel a "click" when meeting a soulmate.

Therefore, I would choose Sarah over Joe. In my experience, it's harder to make friends than to find lovers. Good friends are distant enough so that I don't have to look at them everyday, but still close enough to offer a comforting ear. Lovers, on the other hand, come and go. Plus, the associated strings attached can sometimes be annoying. With a friend, you can just tell them to buzz off.

So yes, I would gladly choose a friend over a potential lover. But if I have a feeling that I've met one of my soulmates, I wouldn't mind sacrificing a friend of two.

01 June 2006

A Not So Rhetorical Reality

Some of you might say that my post this morning is too grounded in fantasy, but I'll show you that truth is indeed stranger than fiction.

I was doing research on Catcha, Malaysia's own web portal when I came across a poll they were having. They asked:

Would you work for passion or money?
  • Passion
  • Money
  • Both

At first, I thought that this was WAY more rhetorical than my question this morning. What's the point of having the option for Passion and Money when we can have both? I input my choice of Both (duh!) and waited for the results.

And the results, my dear friends, are shocking:

Passion: 86 votes
Money: 562 votes
Both: 358 votes

Who? WHO? Who in their right mind will purposely only work for money? Who wouldn't want to earn lots of money while enjoying the process? I think the poll is biased. They shouldn't use bombastic words like "Both" - maybe the voters didn't learn it in school and thought that "both" is a type of small boat. Instead, they should have just used "Passion and Money".

Seriously, would you have purposely only picked "Passion" or "Money" when you can have both?

Rhetorical Question 1

Help me out with this one, please? Just type your answer in the comments. I will provide my own opinion tomorrow.

The scenario:
Love, for many people, comes by quite rarely. We're not talking about simple sexual encounters of course. We're talking about real relationships. But sometimes our relationships cause friction with our friends. Take Linda for example. Last night she went out with Joe, an average-looking guy with a personality that matches Linda quite well. The next day at work, Linda told her girlfriends about Joe over lunch.

"Joe? Is he like, not very tall, with thinning hair?" Sarah asked. Linda was surprised, "You know him?"

"Yes, and I forbid you to date him. He's just not that nice, trust me," Sarah insisted.

"But why?"

"Don't you bother. I know him through other friends and all I can say is, I don't think he's right for you."

Linda disagrees with her good friend, whom she has rarely seen in such a mood. She couldn't help but doubt Joe a little. But, their night out was so fun! Maybe Joe's not the right guy, but maybe he is. Who is Linda to judge?

The question:
In situations (oh, there are many) such as this, who would you choose? Your friendship or your lovelife? Sometimes we just can't have it both ways because some people just don't get along.

As I said, this is a purely rhetorical question. There's no need to bring in external factors such as "Sarah is saying that coz she's jealous of Linda". Assume that all external variables are not-important.