31 December 2007

Counting My Prezzies

Meant to do this last week, but at least I get to it before the end of the year! This year's birthday has been a blast! I got the most presents ever! Here's a quick run-through. I'm including some Xmas presents just to make the list longer :P

Have a Happy New Year, guys...!

A nice mug from my office Xmas gift exchange party. Well, at least it was better than last year's pure decorative item.

A pure decorative item. But at least it's hand-made!!

A present for me, from... me! It's a little reward for myself - a facial care set from Origins.

My favourite Xmas present! It includes an Aussiebum brief, a "Snap Me" button tag from NewUrbanMale, and two bandannas.

A simple birthday gift from a colleague. She got this last minute so I appreciated the gesture all the more so! But the packaging is deceiving: it's padded at the sides with cardboard!

Birthday gift from a group of friends: A Parker pen with 2 year warranty! I've never heard of pens that come with warranties...

Another Xmas gift exchange. If I went for one more gift exchange party I'd explode with mugs!

Other birthday gifts that I did not photograph include:
  • Free lunch with colleagues
  • Red Box celebration dinner
  • A health drink package that I wanted
  • Dinner with Dad, and a traditional ang pow thrown in
  • Dinner with Mum, and a Philips electric shaver! (my very first)
The downside is, I gained 1kg from all the celebratory food! I spent the entire year maintaining my weight and all it took was 1 week of unbridled eating to make me "festively plump". Sigh...

26 December 2007

Recipe for Tummy Ache

Sunday - Japanese Buffet Lunch @ Kampachi, EQ
Monday - Mango Cream cake
Tuesday - Chinese restaurant dinner
Wednesday - Chinese restaurant lunch
Thursday - Chinese restaurant dinner
Friday - German foot-long sausages (yum!)
Saturday - Buffet dinner @ Red Box
Sunday - BBQ Steamboat buffet dinner

Monday = Diarrhea, tummy ache, nausea.

And that's how I spent my Christmas Eve!! Thank goodness for Buscopan and Immodium .

MERRY CHRISTMAS PEEPS!

21 December 2007

Freedom to Discuss Religion

Boys and girls, listen up! Time to expand your mind.

Listening to the Beyond Belief podcast has left me feeling stifled being in Malaysia. It's great listening to multifaith discussions on various topics and just seeing the panelists have a go at each other. This is a practically non-existent scene here, so you should go check out their podcasts. The new season just started and the first episode concerns "Religion in the workplace". Excellent discussion.

Beyond Belief is produced by BBC Radio.

18 December 2007

Catching Up On the Presents

This is proving to be the most eventful birthday yet! Sure, turning 22 is nothing to celebrate, but I'm glad I've left a sufficient impression on my colleagues for them to be planning a secret bash for me. One even came to me with the dilemma of having nothing to eat and asking me to suggest a place for a gathering. Hah! I've got a surprise for them up my sleeve as well but I'll post it up later as I know some of them read the blog too.

Yesterday another group of colleagues celebrated my birthday. They are my "students", or as I would prefer to call them, participants of my Friday Cardio Dance class. It was really nice of them to get me a nice Mango Cheese cake and Nike shirt. Totally makes up for the fact that I'm not getting paid to teach.

I have photos to post, but I haven't Photoshopped out my acne scars. So I'll do a photo entry once I finish celebrations with my co-workers, friends, and family.

So this is what birthdays are all about... :)

07 December 2007

Cute

I was teaching a lunge track last night, and at the same moment I demonstrated putting your hands on yours hips for stabilization, ALL of them did the same thing. It was all so synchronized!

Satisfaction.

Not so satisfactory, however, is pain in my right knee when I lock my knees and twist them slightly. Gotta go get checked up by the company doctor, and hopefully get a referral to ortho.

29 November 2007

Cardio Dance Videos Part 3-2

Two videos grace your browser today, both of them step tracks!

The first video is an original step track, featuring the song "Lose My Breath" by Destiny's Child:

Cardio Dance 4: Step from Zemien on Vimeo.

I like step tracks and I try to do more of it, but if you take your eyes off of me and see how the participants are coping, you'd know why I have so few step tracks. I'm really at a loss of what to do. Is my cueing so bad that they can't follow? Or is their coordination darn horrible? They generally have no problems dealing with mirror image, except when it comes to step tracks. They also have trouble with the Around the World move unless I follow their side. If you know why, tell me! Please! You might be able to catch a hint of my despair and frustration if you crank up your speakers.

The next track is "inspired" from BodyStep 56's Speed Step, using the song "Chihuahua" by DJ Bobo:

Cardio Dance 4: Speed Step from Zemien on Vimeo.

I personally like this song due its pure cheesiness. Not forgetting that it's very simple to teach too. However I feel I didn't speed up the song quite fast enough for the chorus. I haven't heard it in the gym for some time so I couldn't compare the tempo with what I did. Any Steppers out there can comment?

28 November 2007

Cardio Dance Videos Part 3-1

I skipped uploading my last release because the quality was pretty bad. I also noticed that I tend to make more mistakes when the camera is pointed at me. Am I that self-conscious?

These are the videos from my latest class release. There are a few original step tracks, but 2 tracks are from BodyStep and the add-on track is from BodyJam. I know I said I would stop copying from Les Mills, but since they canceled the training I am not under any binding contract. Sure it's copyrighted and all but I never took credit for creating the choreography.

The first video is the step warmup track, consisting of 2 tracks:

Cardio Dance 4: Warmup from Zemien on Vimeo.

The first track is Alcazar's "This is the World We Live In". It was used as a BodyAttack warmup but I changed the choregoraphy completely for this track. An innovation for this track is the Step Forward move. Simple, but requires concentration not to trip over when walking back.

The second track is "Sound of Freedom (Everybody's Free)" from Bob Sinclair and Cutee B. It has an upbeat reggae feel to it and a great song to warmup to. This is also an original choreography track.

You can't see it very well, but I'm wearing my 3 month-old Nike shoes. My older videos show me wearing my old pair of running shoes.

09 November 2007

A Workaholic's Nightmare

I resisted it the whole year. Even went the opposite direction! But the year is catching up on me, and I realized I should just take a deep breath and get it over and done with.

I've got to.... clear last year's vacation leave.

When I joined last year, I got 5.5 days of pro-rated leave from the company. And you know what the elders say- "Don't take vacations in your first year, it'll give a bad impression!". But somehow even without their advice I settled into the 5 day week rhythm pretty quickly.

In fact, I used to despise 3 day weekends coz I would feel sluggish when I return to work. So to offset the effect I would come in on Saturday to work unpaid hours (doesn't happen anymore because I have classes to teach!).

Therefore I had a real dilemma when I realized I had to clear 5.5 days off before 2008 rolls in. The project is in its final stages and this is when my involvement is critical, but I also don't want to end up a boring workaholic who doesn't need time off!

What to do? What to do?

In the end I split up my leave into half-day chunks. So I *still* have to come in to work, I just spend less hours on certain days. And of course, I'm off on Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve as well, thus forming two long weekends in a row. Hopefully I can enjoy them this time around.

05 November 2007

Pursuit of Financial Freedom

I've been playing the virtual investment game Bursa Pursuit for a little over a month, and while it does teach me a lot about the stock market, it also revealed what a lousy investor I am! At this precise moment my gross profit and loss (more loss than profit, actually) is -RM10,903. Sure, I could blame the recent downturns but it does reveal my trading weaknesses.

First, I don't do any research. I already spend 10% of my workweek on non-work stuff (damn you RSS feeds!) and I can't be spending even more reading through market reports and stock tips.

Speaking of which, so-called stock tips are not anymore accurate than me randomly picking the top trader each day. It's really frustrating following all those "Buy" and "Sell" calls, which I really wonder if their researchers follow themselves.

And lastly, my own personal failure in cutting my losses is a factor as well. I followed a random stock tip in the daily news reports and it didn't take long for it to go southwards. But I held on to it, naively optimistic that it will reverse directions. 6 weeks later, I'm RM1878 poorer (and still holding until market conditions improve! hopefully!). I guess I wouldn't be so careless with real money, but human nature is pretty hard to beat.

Whether I'll actually invest real money after this game ends... perhaps. The lure of high returns is like a siren to my ship.

I just hope I don't crash into the sharp cliffs.

19 October 2007

The Great Idea That Was

It was announced today that stolen mobile phones can be disabled to prevent its use and resell. I think that's a great idea but I don't think it'll work well, especially after learning that there will be a fee imposed on the service.

Think about it - you've just lost your RM500+ phone plus all your invaluable contacts. And to add salt to the wound, you have to pay a small fee to disable the phone. Why should you pay more to punish the criminal? I thought our tax money already goes into justice and law enforcement. The cost should be borne by the authorities.

And I'm very dubious about the technology. It works by blocking the phone's unique IMEI code, but what's stopping thieves from changing them? People once thought MAC address filtering constitutes good access control, until simple software downloads allow you to spoof your MAC.

The best way to implement this is to incorporate the cost of disabling the phone into the phone's purchase price. This can be regarded as a one time "insurance premium". It raises phone's prices by a little, but by charging consumers from the get-go, it reduces cost of operations and brings the cost of disabling a phone closer and closer to RM0, similar to SMSes nowadays.

And if a phone is disabled, one only needs to make a call to their telco, verify their identity, and the locking operation is carried out. As for hackers changing the IMEI, well, that's the way life goes. Why? You have a better idea?

04 October 2007

Too Convenient

In today's news, police reported that 80% of crimes are committed by locals, and only 20% by foreigners. This seems to me like an over-convenient application of the 80/20 rule, with no hard numbers quoted in the news item at all.

So I decided to put on my armchair economist hat and do some simple calculations to determine if we actually have more to fear from locals.

The number of crimes reported to the police (consisting of violent crime and property crime) (2004): 156,315
80% of that would be... 125,052, while
20% would be... 31,263

The number of legal foreign workers (2003): 1.1m
The number of illegal foreign workers (2005): 1.2m
So the estimated number of foreigners in the country is about 2.3 million.

The number of locals over 18 (2005): 15.7m


So... 125,052 crimes are committed by locals (15.7m) while 31,263 crimes are committed by foreigners (2.3m). If we assume that a crime is only committed by one person and the criminal only does it once, that would mean:

0.796% of locals are criminals, and
1.359% of foreigners are criminals (almost double!)

In other words, though the percentage is small, a foreigner is twice as likely to be criminally-inclined compared to a local. That's worrisome enough!

So in fact we *still* have more to fear from foreigners than locals, but not as much as I initially thought. There are a LOT of caveats to the numbers I used, so don't go quoting my page in any research paper you're doing.

02 October 2007

A Dream is Delayed

So.... I've just got an email that BodyJam training has been canceled due to low participation.

Oh well. Wait for next one... (dark clouds in the sky)

24 September 2007

Preparations for BodyJam Training

So... the registration is official and I'm going for the training next month. As expected, we'll be training on BodyJam 42, a great release IMHO. Here's my thoughts on each block and how I think I will do if I have to present them:

Warmup
1. Boogie 2Nite - Booty Luv
Super super easy! I'd be grinning all the way to the gym if I only had to present this.

Isolations
2. Tambourine - Eve
The hip movements are a bit tricky. I get a bit messed up when having to add in the arm/chest pop. And I'm not even cueing it yet! Not to mention I feel weird getting 'down n heavy' as hip hop just ain't my style! Screw Up Probability (SUP): 60%

Cha-Cha-Cha
3. Don't You Worry 'Bout A Thing - John legend
4. Let's Get Loud - Jennifer Lopez
Easy latin block in this release. It's important to get my posture right, plus I still can't get the "boom!" right when J.Lo comes in. The leg curl can get a bit confusing if I suddenly switched between participant and presenter. SUP: 30%

Contemporary Rock
5. Do It Again - Mega NuRave Styles and DJ'Little'Rippa
6. One And Only - Timbaland feat. Fall Out Boy
Considerably easy too, but the first song has a lot of break-down parts to it and I don't have the song to memorize to. I'm improving my 'center' so I don't get dizzy that much when I'm doing the turn and leap. Have to get the "rock" attitude in as well. SUP: 45%

Recovery
7. Umbrella - Rihanna feat. Jay-Z
Oh! Beautiful beautiful song and moves! I'm not sure how authentic my hip scrape is, but the heel lift and heel drop shouldn't be a problem. I just have to work on putting the emotions into my cueing. SUP: 10%

Jam de Podium
8. Sexual Healing - Alibi vs. Rockefeller
9. Get Down - Groove Armada
10. Get Up (Before The Night Is Over) - Global Deejays feat. Tecnotronic
11. Rain Down Love - Freemasons feat. Siedah Garrett
My biggest fear at the moment! I'll never have to present all 4 tracks, but any 2 tracks would be scary. I've got no problem with the entire routine but it's the break-down moves that I haven't mastered. And the whole block is heavily edited so it's useless if I can find the original songs. SUP: 85%!

Groove Down
12. Beautiful Liar - Beyonce feat. Shakira
Easy as well. As with Umbrella, got to put more sexiness in my cues and hip roll. SUP: 15%


The SUP will go straight down to 0% if I had the DVD to work with, but I'm not going to ask my current BodyJam instructor for it. And it'll be so unethical. Plus, I wanna prove that I can learn it by myself in that short period of time. I gotta summon my old Straight-A Student personality back from college for this one...

11 September 2007

1 Year Retrospective

While America mourns the WTC tragedy, I have a reason to celebrate!

As of today, I've worked in this company for a year. How time flies! I never expected to be doing what I'm doing now, but I have learned much (though not as much as some people). I really enjoy the working environment and the flexibility for me to do my own things (aerobics class being the main one). Here's hoping I get to leap through the next year to greater heights!

07 September 2007

The BodyJam Diaries

I've decided, against all reason, to go for BodyJam training next month in Klang.

I've actually had half a heart to get certified for some time, but I always thought the next training session would be in 2008. To my surprise a session was announced to be held at Y-Fitness, 19-21 Oct 2007. It costs RM930 just for the training fee, but I feel I'm ready to get certified.

Ever since I started teaching I've been preparing for this day. I'm considered lucky because I got to start teaching at a couple of places without any certification. But to actually get a class at established gyms require a certification.

Gawd, I'm rambling! I've been 'off the hook' lately with this news. I have to get physically and mentally prepared for the 3 day training. I never thought I could dance but I've enjoyed every minute of BodyJam, and now it's time to answer that question "So You Think You Can Dance?" with pizazz.

I'll be keeping you guys updated on my progress, on this road to becoming a BodyJam instructor. And if you're an instructor I would love to hear how you got through training.

28 August 2007

Flu Season

I've been having a mild flu since last week, and with the arrival of the monsoon season it's not getting any better! Thought of getting vaccinated but apparently there are many undocumented side effects (increased risk of cancer anyone?) and it's only temporary. The central air-conditioning at my office isn't helping either!

The worst flu "tag-along" symptom is the cough. I haven't had a cough for years but it decided to say hi to my lungs on the way out, and last night I woke up twice due to an annoying bout of cough. *Hack! Hack!*

24 August 2007

Blame the Pothole.. or the A**hole?

Well, I don't really consider him to be an a*hole, but it just rhymes with pothole. Just in case the link disappears (emphasis is mine):

Pothole that cost a life

JOHOR: It cost a life to get a pothole patched up. 

Tan Cheng Ming, 20, was riding pillion on a motorcycle last Friday at 4am when the machine hit a pothole that was about as wide as a manhole and 5cm deep. 

The impact caused Cheng Ming to be thrown off the motorcycle, and he sustained head injuries upon landing. He was rushed to the Sultan Ismail Hospital but died there. 

His friend, Tam Tok Wei, 20, who was driving, escaped with minor injuries while the motorcycle was barely damaged except for some scratches and a bent front wheel. 

Cheng Ming's father, Robin Tan, said the Johor Baru City Council (MBJB) patched up the pothole in Jalan Daya, Taman Daya, about two days after the accident. 

"When there is a loss of life, only then will they act. We have to bring this up to the authorities, because we don't want others to lose their loved ones, too. 

"The street lights along that road are also not so bright as they are shaded by trees, so the rider might not have seen the pothole at night," Tan told The Star

The 53-year-old taxi driver said that with the exception of highways, many roads in Johor Baru are riddled with potholes. 

Tan said they had started planning for Cheng Ming's 21st birthday celebration next month when the accident occurred. 

"Twenty years of love, and just like that, because of other people's mistake, my son paid with his life," he said.


As I said, I don't really consider him an a*hole, but he died from a head injury. Isn't that what helmets are supposed to protect from? There are only 2 possibilities - helmets are overrated, or that (*gasp!*) he wasn't wearing one!

If he wasn't wearing a simple helmet that would protect him from a simple fall from the bike, does he deserve half the blame? I haven't been involved in a motorbike accident (hopefully never) so I can't comment on how well a helmet will work.

At any rate, condolences to the family for losing a son. Always a hard thing.

22 August 2007

Biohazard

Not the kind of truck you wanna drive behind... Who knows if Nemesis is hiding inside, ready to pounce?

21 August 2007

School's Out, so Driving is Fun!

They really should just ban schools. I'm trying to savour this whole week as the traffic jam has been cut by 70%. I didn't know school-going children is contributing so much to global warming!

20 August 2007

Contents of a Hacks Cough Candy

Those black Hacks candy are so old-school, it's hard not to love them! I have a few lying around so I decided to check out the ingredients listed on the wrapper (all in Malay):
  • Glukosa
  • Sukrosa
  • Mentol
  • Minyak Kayu Putih
  • Minyak Adas Manis
  • Pati Marrub-Marrub
  • Cecair Tolu
  • Sebatian Tinktur Benzoin
  • Pati Tussilag-Tussilag
  • Pewarna yang dibenarkan (Karamel cecair BE45, Pes Hitam H9669)
I've never seen any candy with so many medicinal herbs! At least, that's what I assume from the weird names (tolu, tussilag, marrub...). But in the end, those herbs are worthless because they only form 0.52% of the candy. The contents based on percentage:
  • Glukosa - 63.7%
  • Sukrosa - 35.78%
  • Mentol - 0.18%
  • Minyak Kayu Putih - 0.15%
  • Minyak Adas Manis - 0.11%
  • Pati Marrub-Marrub - 0.03%
  • Cecair Tolu - 0.02%
  • Sebatian Tinktur Benzoin - 0.02%
  • Pati Tussilag-Tussilag - 0.008%
  • Pewarna yang dibenarkan (Karamel cecair BE45, Pes Hitam H9669)
Pati Tussilag-Tussilag must be a super-rare herb! Probably need to hike 40 days and 40 nights to find the plant, plus a sacrificial lamb or two before bringing it back to be formulated in Hacks candy.

Jokes aside, I'm concerned about "Sebatian Tinktur Benzoin". Isn't benzoin some kind of alcohol? And not the overpriced ones they charge at bars either.


17 August 2007

Cheated! Part 2

Lacking anything interesting to blog, let me just extend my criticism of Hotlink's SMS Super Savers.

The question that begs to be answered is, "Who sends 400 SMSes in a day?" More specifically, between 1am - 7pm (the only time it is active). In fact, I think most people never send messages while they are asleep from 1am to whatever time they wake up.

Take the average case of someone who wakes up at 7am (me!). That means I have 12 hours to send 400 SMS. A quick calculation* reveals that I need to send 33.33 SMSes every hour, or basically once every 2 minutes. Can YOU type a full SMS every two minutes, for 12 hours non-stop?

Even if I were to stay up from 1am and SMS non-stop, that would require me to send 22.22 SMSes every hour.

So the question is, who would benefit from this? I'll tell you who - SPAMMERS! By unfallible logic, we can deduce that Hotlink supports spammers as they are the only ones who can actually send out that many SMSes per day.

Shame on you, Hotlink.

* On a sad note, I now use Windows Calculator even for the most rudimentary of divisions.

16 August 2007

Trying Hard Not to End Up on WTF

I'm trying to solve a tricky programming problem involving timers, knobs, and acceleration. I can't think of an elegant way yet. I can only hope I don't end up as a Worse Than Failure article.

On a side note I really loved their recent article about The Cool Cam. It's one of the few articles with a happy ending. More importantly it goes to show that bosses must trust their developers sometimes. I'm printing it out and sticking it on my wall!

15 August 2007

Cheated!

I loved Hotlink for its low rates, but now I feel cheated by their SMS Super Savers program. 400 SMS for RM2 - fantastic deal right? But nowhere in the radio ad nor the EasyMenu did it state clearly that it is only valid for one day. Who sends 400 SMS in one day?

14 August 2007

Something's Fishy

It might be triggered by the salmon pizza we had at Itallianes, but last night I had a peculiar dream where I ate 6 large blocks of raw salmon. In real life I hate sashimi, and I avoid them when eating Japanese. But somehow in the dream I was enjoying it, and barely felt the sting from the wasabi (another abnormality).


If you were a dream therapist charging RM50 per hour, what's your analysis?

13 August 2007

I Found My Priceless Moment

I finally found my Priceless moment:
(Warning: Major camwhoring)






For dinner we went to this mamak place Murni SS2. Some pretty interesting combination of dishes. But the Roti Bacon I ordered is overrated. Gary joined us there but I forgot to take another group picture. Also missing from the photos is Jay, who joined us for lunch at Itallianes and then took off.

The day went almost as planned, except I forgot to factor in travelling time. I'm too used to Penang, where going anywhere takes 15-20 minutes max. But it took us almost 45 minutes to get from Pudu to 1U. Lesson learned.

P.S. I tagged this under "Family", cause that's what they are to me. :)

10 August 2007

The Farewell of Friends

I don't know how many of my ex-coursemates are reading this, but this is just to inform them that Joe has passed away. I just got a call from his sister.

I'm too shocked to react emotionally.

When I visited him at his house on CNY he looked much much better.

For those who want to attend his funeral service, it'll be this Sunday morning starting from his house.

The Value of Friends

I'm going down to KL tomorrow to meet up with my ex-coursemates. I miss them *thaaaaat* much! I have promised to visit several times but the catalyst that made me go was Alvin. I wrote about him several times. He got a job in Singapore and will be moving there next month.

I'm extremely happy for him as I have great respect for him as a programmer. Hell, I don't mind admitting I did several projects with him so that I don't have to touch any source code. Yeah, that shows how good he is. And how well I'm suited to management (bwahahah!).

Singapore is just another 600km from KL, but it's different, separating us by two seas. I'm gonna miss him.

08 August 2007

Does Not Qualify As A MasterCard Ad

Car repair - RM323
Insurance premium - RM405
Nike shoes - RM270
Credit card bill - RM350
Upcoming KL Trip - RM100+-
Upcoming Cameron Trip - RM200+-

But... where's my "priceless" moment? Mana?

07 August 2007

New Shoes

Wow, Paolo Nutini's star fizzled out faster than you can say "supernova". I heard his song "New Shoes" on the radio for several weeks and then... nothing. Anyway this post isn't about the song, it's about my new Nike Air Edge!



At RM270 it is the most expensive shoe I have bought, but the search for this shoe did not come easy.

I've been looking for a good pair of cross-training shoes not long after I started teaching. I read up on some websites and found that running shoes are not suitable at all for doing aerobics and gym work (unless you only run on the treadmill). But look around any gym and you'll find 90% of people wearing running shoes to do their heavy lifting and aerobic classes. I can personally attest that this is probably due to ignorance.

You see, running shoes are running shoes because they are optimized for, well, running! (That was an example of how you can lengthen your blog posts) Running shoes allow you to move forwards comfortably, and part of this is to make your foot naturally roll outwards in each step.

This becomes a problem in heavy weight lifting and aerobics. Especially in heavy weight lifting, you want to have an equal distribution of force on your feet, not just the outside. Using running shoes put you at risk of improper form, which in turn risks serious injury.

When it comes to aerobics, the diversity of movements (front to back, left to right) mean that running shoes are not suitable as the natural outward roll of your foot can put you off balance. Next time when you're barefoot, try walking side to side on the outside of your feet, and you'll see why you're at risk from ankle sprains. Thus, having a cross training shoe that has lateral stability (stability when moving side to side) is beneficial.

Frankly, I've never had much problem from the Admiral sports shoes I bought last year, but now that I'm an instructor (ahem) I think maintaining proper form and being a good example is of paramount importance. Plus I wouldn't want to sprain my ankle while doing lateral movements. That would be so UNCOOL.

At first the Nike Free 7.0 caught my eye but they ran out of my size (UK 11 for those of you looking for my birthday present...)

Another shoe that I fancied after looking around was the Nike Free 5.0:



It felt very soft and comfortable. When I put it on it felt as if I'm almost barefoot, but it also felt kinda tight and strange. So I didn't buy it and went home to do some research. Apparently this "cross training" shoe is optimized for running, and is meant to simulate barefoot running. Luckily I didn't buy it! Or it's be back to square one.

I only saw my current shoe the third time I went looking. This time I was more knowledgable about what I should be looking for. I initially hated shoes with leather but now I understand it gives the shoe rigidity and stabilizes the foot. After trying a pair of tennis shoes (not flexible!), the salesgirl recommended me the Air Edge.

Suffice to say I fell in love with it the moment I slipped it on. Talk about a Cinderella match! It is my first Nike shoe and now I know why they're so popular. It's not just the upward curve logo, guys. In fact, it was so comfortable I didn't need to break in to the shoe - no chafing or crampness at all.

The only thing I needed to get accustomed to is the feel of the shoe. As weight is more evenly distributed it uses different leg muscles and my posture has to shift slightly as well. But once I get that down I'll be unstoppable!

P.S. Today's long post is to buffer up the past few days disappearance. Been pretty busy. Could be quiet the next few days too.

02 August 2007

Cardio Dance Videos Part 2-3

Final video post this week!

Track 8: BodyJam 39 Dance4Life Part 1

The cardio block in BodyJam 39 is actually quite short if you cut out the fillers, and that's why I decided to start easy by teaching this first. I'll be cutting out the final few songs, and extending the third song to cover the whole choreo. This video just shows the first song (Faith Evans - Mesmerized) as I have yet to learn the next two songs.

Track 9: Cooldown

Normally choreography is done using pop hits. I must clarify that this is the other way round. I used Amy Winehouse's Rehab as a cooldown song before most Malaysians even heard her name. I knew the infectious "no, no, no" chorus would be a great call-out, but apparently my participants are too jaded to shout it out this week -_-

01 August 2007

Cardio Dance Videos Part 2-2

Today's videos consist of a Step track and a aerobics peak track.

Track 7: Girls Aloud - Something Kinda Oooh



I did the choreo wayyy before I knew BodyStep 68 was using that song too, so this is definitely a coincidence. I simplified the choreo by quite a lot. The 'around the world' move is supposed to go both ways but looking at how they're still getting confused (poor cueing maybe?) I only start it from the right.

Track 8: Rob Thomas - This is How A Heart Breaks



This choreo is heavily inspired by BodyStep 64's peak track (same song, different remix). I wanted to create a non-step peak song but didn't know how so I changed the single taps to skis instead. I got lost (again!) in the middle when I did the easy option and I forgot how to join back with the normal option. See if you can catch me wincing with embarrassment. Well, I haven't done it for a while so I'm forgiven, right?

31 July 2007

Cardio Dance Videos Part 2-1

Yay! More videos of me flailing hopelessly around!

Video recording date: 27 July 2007

Track 1 & 2:
Warmup (Paris Hilton - Stars Are Blind (Tracy Does Paris Remix))
BodyJam 39 Isolations (PCD - Buttons)



I contemplated for a while whether it would be wise to post this video full of bloopers, but I hope the boringness of watching me warmup should make you sleep before you see them. As a bonus, there's the isolations track from BodyJam 39 - one of my all time favourites! I think I did that one pretty well. At least, better than her. But it doesn't excuse the mistake I made near the end. More proof that instructors are error-bound humans too!

Track 4: Hi/Lo (Cascada - Ready for Love)



This choreography is a hybrid of "Miracle" from BodyAttack 50 and "Everytime We Touch" from BodyAttack 54, both from Cascada. So it was only fitting that I used one of their songs too. Interestingly, most of their songs are set to the same beats and structure...

That's all for today! Hang around for more dance-based videos. I'm really busy at work, and the Deathly Hallows is not making it any faster! I finished the book yesterday, and I agree that Rowling kept the best for last.

30 July 2007

RM599 Brick

If my new phone says "Low Battery", you had better believe it. During lunch I got the notification and 5 seconds later it shut itself down and refused to start, even though I plugged it into my laptop's USB port. I'm not even sure if it IS charging at all! I'll have to wait till I get home for a proper AC supply charge.

27 July 2007

Motivations of A Group Fitness Instructor

The most popular question I'm asked is, "Why did you become a fitness instructor?" For a guy who lingered around during Pendidikan Jasmani and showed no disposition towards exercise, this has been a 900-degree turn.

However, for those who know me well, this doesn't seem like a wrong step at all. I have always stated my ambition to be a lecturer one day, and this is a logical stepping stone. With my current job I don't have much opportunity to teach, but as an instructor I get to do what I love (though in a different subject matter).

On whether I might one day drop everything and become a full time instructor, I highly doubt that. The instructor pool is becoming saturated, and it'll be unlikely one can teach enough classes per week to live comfortably. But it's my safety net, something I *could* do if all computers died tomorrow night in a worldwide EMP attack by overzealous aliens.

Perhaps people won't be too keen on BodyStep in such trying time but I hope the aliens might want to stay healthy while dominating Earth.

26 July 2007

Maha Sanghikadana 2007

Last Sunday I helped out at the 17th National Maha Sanghikadana at the Che Hoon Kor Moral Uplifting Society building. It's an annual event that brings together hundreds of monks and nuns for a lunch dana (offering).

When all was still quiet...

I arrived before 8am even though the actual lunch started closer to 11am. Lots of waiting and briefing. A lot of students from Penang Free School came - there seems to be an endless source of young helpers from that school!

Going through the things to do

By 9am the crowd started coming in, but after the briefings all we could do was sit around and wait...

Jastin, HM, CK, WK

As the monks start to arrive, the catered food is brought out. They are arranged into little plates and spread out on the long tables...

Devotees waiting while a human chain places out the food

Here's a look at the vegetarian dishes served this year. They are quite tasty, but I don't know who's the caterer who cooked all this. There's always leftovers and at the end of the event after the monks have left, we turn into greedy cretins and swoop up whatever's left. I would have taken some photos of us eating, but my hands were dirty from picking up the food...

Sambal "prawns", curry "fish", cabbage stir, brocolli + cauliflower stir, "fish" fillets, fruit platter, and vege appetizer

We finished at 12pm and I went home to get a good rest. Last weekend was quite a whirlwind and I didn't get enough rest!

25 July 2007

Warts and All

Seems I have enough health problems to warrant a new label. But I'll have to be brief. Workload is up to my neck right now.

For those of you gym rats, let me ask you, "Do you wear sandals when taking a shower or changing out of your filthy clothes?" If your answer is no, I recommend making it a yes.

I didn't know any better, and as a result I have an annoying and painful viral wart on my right heel. And somehow it got on my left index finger too. As I know, it spreads by touch so now I am very very careful with where I lay my finger. I've also resorted to wrapping it in plaster before I go to work.

I've been treating it with salicylic acid for months now with varying levels of success. I recently visited a dermatologist who did some probing and digging and it resulted in much less walking pain, but more wallet pain (RM80 for that session!) I even tried some traditional healing (think: drinking burnt paper). ANYTHING to solve this problem. Will blog about it when I have more time.

I could have taken some pics, but the ones on the Internet should suffice to make sure your feet is adequately covered when walking in a shared bathroom (swimming pools included). As for me, I now embody the saying, "Loving me, warts and all".

24 July 2007

Day Off

I woke up at 3am with a strong desire to... diarrhea! Same thing at 5am. Now I'm a bit off the mark, and I've already taken the rest of the day off to recuperate.

23 July 2007

Orange... Milk?

It was after lunch and I suddenly had a hankering for orange juice. So I went to the convenience store in my company (yes, it's big enough to have it's own mini mart) and got the only box of orange drink left. I've never tried this brand (Goodday) before, but it was the only one around. As I walked back to my cubicle farm I glanced through the ingredients and saw... "Susu Lembu". WTF?

I thought it was just a typo, but it was indeed mixed with diluted milk. The funny thing is, if not for the ingredients list I wouldn't have known it had milk. Sure, it looked milky but it tasted like any other artificial orange juice. I suspect this must be a conspiracy by the company to increase milk usage! Goodday sells pasteurized milk too, after all.

(I wrote this post before I bought my new phone, so no pictures of the offending item.)

20 July 2007

Misbehaving Eyelashes

I have eyelashes that are longer than usual for men. It's not a choice, and I have been teased for having girly eyes back in primary school. I know, I know... they're just jealous.

But it comes with its downfalls. Due to it's length, it can sometimes bend down and get stuck on my eye. And oh, you don't want that to ever happen to you. I spent the better part of this morning trying to wash an irritant out of my right eye, only to discover I can't because, well, it's ATTACHED TO MY EYELID?

I had to force myself against my subconscious impulse to close my eye in order to stroke that misbehaving eyelash up to it's proper place. Ugh, if I knew which strand it was, I would have plucked it out. But I think it had CIA training and managed to blend in with the crowd. My watery eyes weren't helping at all either.

19 July 2007

Cardio Dance Videos Part 1-4

The last two videos of the class are all ciplak from Les Mills programmes.

Track 9: Step Recovery ("Sexyback" by Justin Timberlake)

One of my favourite recovery tracks from BodyStep (since it's so easy) is set to Justin Timberlake's Sexyback. Warning: boring video, nice song.

Track 11: Pilates Core ("I'm Not Missing You" by Stacie Orrico)

This is quite a nice song from BodyBalance 36 with easy moves that most people can follow. Especially me. Even as a participant, I usually peter out during the final abs track, so it was vital I chose something easier to teach (what with all that shouting). For the next release I'll be doing something more challenging.


I guess that's it for this week! I missed out 3 videos because I didn't have enough memory cards. One was a Mixed Impact track (original choreo), the other was a Recovery/Upper Body Conditioning track (original choreo), and finally the cooldown song ("That's My Goal" from BodyAttack 54)

18 July 2007

Cardio Dance Videos Part 1-3

This entire week, I'll be posting 2 videos of me instructing my class every day, along with commentary. This is Part 3. Tomorrow's the last part for the week.

Track #7: Mixed Strength ("Voodoo Child" by Rogue Traders)

This is heavily inspired by BodyStep 65's "Run It". I just love the "squat-squat-3 knee repeater" combo and how it goes along with the music, but I couldn't find this particular remix/cover by ColorBox. So I found that this song by Rogue Traders does pretty well too. Trivia: "Voodoo Child" was used in BodyStep 63 as a killer recovery track.


Track #8: Step Peak ("Summer Rain" by Slinkee Minx)

This is my favourite track so far. It's used in BodyPump as a Chest track but I found that it's equally great if I convert it to a Step Peak track. This is also an original choreo from my first release, but "original" is a little misleading. With such simple moves it's not hard to do one at all. This is one of the only track where I can see the participants really breaking a sweat, so I do it any chance I get.

17 July 2007

Cardio Dance Videos Part 1-2

This is a continuation of yesterday's post, obviously.

Track 4: Modfied BodyJam 28 Bongo Song


I was a bit blur and moved off center so you can't see me very well. Anyway, this was the exact same song I did at the children's camp (check out earlier videos). The full Bongo Song from BodyJam 28 was quite long and frankly quite tiring. It's a good dose of cardio, but I decided to trim it down a bit and make it simpler.

Track 6: Love Today

This is another original choreo from my first release. It's a simple step warmup routine but since it's already halfway through the class I make them do power knees rather than tap repeaters.

16 July 2007

Cardio Dance Videos Part 1-1

This entire week, I'll be posting 2 videos of me instructing my class every day, along with commentary. You can get to the videos directly at my Vimeo page, but this is the only place I'll actually comment on it.

As indicated previously, I'm a serial copycat, but an ethical one! Those songs which are learnt from Les Mills programs (most notably BodyJam tracks) are properly attributed. It's a really really great class - if you have access to a gym who features it, make sure you go and support. Over here in Penang the BodyJam scene is very lacking, and my gym (Fitness Studio) has only one BodyJam class per week! Pathetic, I tell you! Well, I'll certainly be ranting about that again later. But for now let's get to the good part - watching me flail around!

Class recording shot on 13 July 2007
Track #1: BodyJam 39 Warmup ("Canned Heat" by Jamiroquai)

When I first did this track as a participant, I loved the arm wave and 'car wash'. But after teaching this track myself for 6 classes straight, I'm getting a bit bored by its lack of 'oomph' musical structure. My favourite BodyJam warmup so far is from Release 40 (Luther Vandross' "Shine"). It has very simple moves, great musical opening, and it really sets the mood for a great class. Unlike "Canned Heat" which is quite muted. My other favourite warmup track is Janet Jackson's "All Nite", though I've only done it once.


Track #2: Isolations ("Can't Get Blue Monday Out of My Head" by Kylie)

This is an original choreo inspired by Kylie's MTV and various BodyJam songs. This was the absolute first song I choreographed myself. I actually think it kinda sucks, but for nostalgia's sake I put it in my first release anyway. And if you laugh at my hip turn, I'm never talking to you. Again.


Wow, I just looked through what I wrote, and I'm quite the harsh critic! As a note, the participants do not magically know what to do. I've been doing these songs with them for over a month, and I usually refresh their memory with a bit of pre-cueing. This is something you don't see in the videos due to memory constraints.

Tell me what you think.

13 July 2007

Blockbuster in the Works?

I didn't take too much notice when it was first reported, but I must admit I've gotten engrossed in the courtroom drama that is the Altantuya trial. Who knew I could indulge in daytime soap opera at work without having to open up YouTube? In fact, I'm just waiting for Hollywood to begin writing a script for this trial. I imagine that they create two versions of the script and use whichever turns out to be true.

And what do I think about Abdul Razak Baginda? Seriously, the press reports are so skewered that we never get a true picture (which makes it so much more tantalizing). Personally? I believe whatever the last witness was saying. It's easier, and with less moral ambiguity!

12 July 2007

Faltering Temptations

We have a monthly communication session with our Senior Manager where he goes through how the department is doing and other organization-y stuff. Today, due to some scheduling oversights, it ended at 12.30pm, wayyyy beyond the optimal lunch time. Here, our optimal lunch time is 11.40am because that's when the cafeteria has most food. Yes, you read that correctly - We have our lunch before 12! So really, who can blame me for taking extended tea breaks at 3?

So anyway, we ended at a time when there were no more food so the three choices we had were:
  1. Eat the leftover cafeteria food
  2. Eat at the in-house deli restaurant
  3. Eat out
After seeing the leftovers, I quickly chose Option 2. The in-house deli was called Temptations, and they're like the love child of Starbucks and Secret Recipe (I shudder at the thought). And as usual with most love childs, they're slightly retarded. Except the cakes. They have nice cakes! So anyway we had the set lunch (my first time) and I was so disappointed. I paid 10x more to eat what is essentially their version of leftovers. I had their Teriyaki Chicken which tasted more like Bland Soya Sauce Chicken. In fact, I would rather have his Teriyaki Chicken. Next time, I'm sticking with the leftovers. But most of their cakes are still nice, especially the Pineapple Carrot brownie. The molten butter cheese topping on top is to die for.

As a side note, it's kinda impressive that the company has its own deli and mini mart. Now all it needs are a post office, a laundromat, and a budget airline to be a self-sufficient entity!

11 July 2007

John McClane Kicks Optimus' A$$

This is Part 3 of the 070707 post.

After the mixed-reaction Cardio Dance class I went home to shower and went out for dinner and movie with friends. If only it were so easy.

We planned to watch Die Hard 4.0 at Queensbay Mall, but when we reached the first entrance it was blocked, and traffic policemen were diverting traffic to the other entrance. I started to get a bad vibe as the weekend traffic can be a little daunting to navigate even without any road blocks. And we didn't even book any tickets to the show yet!

Heading towards the 2nd entrance, I saw many cars parked along the highway and flyover. "Oh, this is NOT good," I thought out loud. I had a feeling the 2nd entrance will be blocked too, so when I saw a gap along the side, I quickly slid my car in. Luckily there weren't any speeding cars behind me...

We walked the rest of the way to the mall and quickly made our way to the cinema. It was barely an hour away and I was afraid we wouldn't be able to get good seats. I needn't have worried - there was barely a crowd in the mall! I was puzzled. I looked down at the big atrium and it was similarly deserted. Why all the road block then?

My first (imaginative) guess was that the mall management had somehow ticked off the traffic police boss and they were getting even. But the truth was unfortunately not as controversial. As we left the mall at 12.30am after the show, we saw the roadblock again and saw the sign "Karnival Jom Heboh TV3 2007".

We all gave a collective "Oh...." and couldn't help but snigger at the irony. By blocking off the main entrances for the sake of your carnival, people couldn't make it to your event. Blegh.

And oh, while some will beg to differ, I think Die Hard 4 is a more consistent and enjoyable movie than Transformers. No nagging emo drama scenes. Interesting action sequences. And fights where you can actually see what's happening (I'm looking at you, Michael "fight-close-up-till-you-dunno-who-is-hitting-who" Bay).

10 July 2007

070707 - Part 2

As promised, here are some videos of me teaching a simple 40 minute Cardio Dance class to a group of 50 children (and some awkward adults). If you only have time for one video, watch the last one.

Now, before you judge me on my less-than-stellar performance, keep in mind that I was distracted by making sure the kids at the back could see me. In true minimalist style, there was no stage (the stage behind me was strewn with artwork) and no wireless mic. So the kids could not see my footwork OR hear my cueing, a situation I was not prepared for. I ended up just going through the motions while my mind conjured up ways to signal the moves with my arm and fingers. Still, a pretty interesting experience.

The person next to me (a "shadow" in industry-speak) is Jastin, someone I knew since secondary school. He's never attended a cardio dance class before, so I think it's rather brave of him to be shadowing me. You can also read his blog.

For those of you wondering where I learned the moves (the proper term is "choreography"), check out Les Mills. I borrowed (the proper term is "copied") some of the moves from their variety of great group fitness programmes. I'm also working very hard to create my own choreo set to the songs of my choosing, because I can't be a thief all my life. The easier option is just to get certified by them legally. I'm working very hard on that too.

I'll write more about being a group fitness instructor, but for now, just sit back and enjoy watching me jump around. Feedback is appreciated, but I already know how lifeless I look in some of the songs, so tell me something more constructive.

(The clips are ordered chronologically, and only the last cooldown song is not shown)



BodyBalance 36 Tai Chi at MSPS Children's Camp '07 from Zemien and Vimeo.




BodyJam 40 Warmup at MSPS Children's Camp '07 from Zemien and Vimeo.




BodyJam 39 Bollyjam at MSPS Children's Camp '07 from Zemien and Vimeo.




BodyJam 39 Bollyjam at MSPS Children's Camp '07 from Zemien and Vimeo.




Modified BodyJam 28 Bongo Song at MSPS Children's Camp '07 from Zemien and Vimeo.




BodyJam 32 Isolations at MSPS Children's Camp '07 from Zemien and Vimeo.

09 July 2007

070707 - Part 1

Saturday was a pretty eventful day for me, and I'm going to break it up into 3 posts. I need stuff to fill up for 3 days, and you wouldn't wanna read such a long post anyway.

On Friday night, Mum called me to mention that she's going down to Kulim
tomorrow to commemorate the 1 year anniversary of my great-grandmother's passing. I never wrote about it, but she died soon after my Mum's visit last year (which I wrote about in an oh-so-emo post). I agreed to go along with the condition that I needed to be back home by 4pm (find out why in Part 2!). The last time I visited my maternal side was during Chinese New Year, and hey, I can't let them think I only visit them for the red packets can I?

So we headed out at 8.30am, and the heavy rain slowed our journey as we zig-zagged through surprisingly heavy traffic for a Saturday morning. She had to run some errands first, so by the time we reached the columborium at 10am I was hobbling out of the car.

A priest was hired and while we were sitting down waiting for him to finish his chant, guess what I saw my cousin holding?

Don't be fooled! Look closer, it even has a colour screen! It's actually a Motorola phone modified into a (very, very) retro housing. It's not just an empty shell because the battery is as big as a brick. Extremely nostalgic of the good old days. Nevermind that I never had such a phone before.

I took the opportunity to take some snapshots of Mum, and here's one of the two of us:

I told her, "This angle makes your head look so small compared to mine!". And she said, "That's the point!" -_-"

I also did not miss the chance to take loads of photos of Ivan, my cute great-cousin (twice removed or something). He doesn't know me very well, but I think he has potential to be a camwhore in the future...


And how could a post about family gatherings not be complete with pictures of food? We were already halfway through before I remembered to take a snap:

To most of you that is food, but to me it's 3.5 hours of cardio. Sad.... :'(

The ride home was uncomfortable as Mum's car air-cond broke down. That retro feeling came up again as we drove through highways with the dry wind lashing across my fragile face. We were all exhausted by the time we reached Penang, but luckily I got home before 4pm coz it gave me plenty of time to rest and prepare for my aerobics class at a children's camp at 5pm.

Yup! Tomorrow you will finally be able to watch some clips of me in "Instructor" Mode! Don't bother searching YouTube now, I'm keeping it secret till tomorrow :P

07 July 2007

Trying Out Mblogging

Posting this via mobile Gmail. But i'm limited to 1024 characters.
BORING! Recommend me a JAVA mblogging software! I'm on my way 2 Kulim
wif my mum to attend d one yr anniversary of my great grandmother's
passing.

06 July 2007

Creativity is Energizing

I'll still be in training today, so no proper post. But here's something we did in the Creativity and Innovation training: balancing 10 nails on 1 nail head.

05 July 2007

Self Improvement Matters

The post title is the most valuable thing in this whole post. I'm in training today and tomorrow. Will try to post some photos to go along later.

04 July 2007

The Search Ends... Introducing the Peanut

Dubbed "the Peanut" by Innocent^^Guy, I finally bought it last night. It wasn't really an impulse buy because the deal was the best I could find. Some shops quoted me RM680 while I got it for RM599 (Mega Sale Carnival price bla bla bla).

I really liked the black front with the orange sides (reminds me of the Walkman phones), but they only had white:

I'll be reviewing the phone as I learn how to use it, but here's what I think so far:

All the reviews I read never failed to mention its great LCD screen and I agree - it's fantastic! It's as sharp and clear as most smartphones that are double its price.

It's not that big. In fact, the photo you see above is probably bigger (depending on your resolution).

The predictive text input system iTap is very good!

Camera, just like most reviews said, is sub-par. Here's an indoor pic at full resolution and quality:

The flash is half-decent. It's not as weak as those useless LEDs ("look! a white spot on your face!") but not as strong as those N95 flashes either. It's actually a coil arranged in a circular manner that lights up when flashed.

Some reviewers complained that the music volume is pretty tame. On the contrary, I find the lowest volume level to be TOO loud (I get earache after 10 minutes). I'm still looking for ways to reduce the volume further.

I'll post more observations as the days go by. I think this phone is a hidden beauty because the OS is pretty usable. And no one ever complains of having a beautiful screen to look at. In fact, the LCD is so nice that the photos you capture look better on its small screen than on the computer.

As an interesting aside, all the settings that include a range (volume, brightness, etc.) only have a value between 0 and 7. Kinda weird for non-tech users, but we geeks know better - this way, Motorola only needs a 3 bit register for each setting. Why the frugality though, I'll never know.

03 July 2007

The Search Continues

My colleague Kelly saw my previous post and referred me to her brother who is the typical teenager who loves following phone trends. I was never such a teenager, hence I consider myself atypical :P

Anyway, I consulted with him and we both agreed the Motorola SLVR L6 is out of the question. But just when I thought that the K510i is the clear winner, he came up with another alternative that is sounding more and more tantalizing.... the Motorola ROKR E2:
It's about RM50 more expensive than the K510i, but it has SD card slot, proper music player functionality, camera 'flash' (if you can call it that), and great display.

Sigh... it's always tempting to keep moving up the price ladder, but I think I have to stop at RM600.

Here's another question: Have any of you found Bluetooth headsets truly useful?

02 July 2007

The Search Begins... Vote for Your Favourite!

Blame it on greed. Blame it on having expendable income. Most of all, blame it on yourself, dear reader. Coz it's your incessant wailing that finally forced me to get a camera phone.

"yada yada yada why so many words wan?"
"your blog looks so dull and boring"
"why so complicated words wan? Can't I just skim through the pics?"

The question is, which phone?

I've been a Nokia user for as long as I've had mobiles, but I realize the Nokia brand comes with a small premium. So I'm willing to take a chance on other makers. Being the cheapskate that I am (that's one thing that didn't change after 6 months), I went to the shop and asked "Which is the cheapest phone with Bluetooth and camera?"

And the guy showed me the Motoslvr L6:
It certainly looks sleek, though its slightly longer and wider than most candybar phones. And at a price of RM368, nothing much to complain. But a few days ago my friend recommended his phone, the Sony Ericsson K510i:
It's slightly over RM500, but it has 1.3mp camera and 18mb more onboard memory. Neither one has a memory slot.

At this moment I'm leaning towards Sony Ericsson, but I'm very fickle so I tend to believe whatever the last commenter says. The RM500 price tag is the only bother I have, but comparatively, it's worth it to pay RM150 more for a better camera and memory (both things that cannot be upgraded).

Please leave a comment, for the make benefit glorious blog of SexyGeek!

29 June 2007

Snacks in the Office

Our cubicle farm is arranged in squares, with 3-4 employees per square. So all of us essentially get corner lots. In the middle is a small round table where we can have discussions (hence the term 'round table discussions'). However, my round table is currently overflowing with snacks and food from all of us in this cubicle square. At this moment we have...
  • Wheat bran cereal with raisins (for my little hunger pangs)
  • A box of candy lollipops (at least 10)
  • 5 caramel lollipops (my neighbour is a huge fan of lollipops...)
  • Chocolate cream cookies
  • Polo mints
  • 1 chocolate cube of dubious origins (which is why it's still there after 6 months)
  • 4 packets of salted crackers (the boring type they forcefeed you in GH)
  • 2 packets of coconut cookies (great source of energy before I head for my aerobics class)
  • 4 packets of various crackers that none of us like to eat, and is therefore waiting for its expiry date to come around before releasing them into the wild

And all that is not counting several more cookies and snacks I have hidden in my drawers. It is safe to say that our round table is the most snack-filled, but my other colleagues are not necessarily under-stocked. In fact, there was once our VP walked past our row of cubicles and I heard her say, "Wow, this place has a lot of food."

Priceless.

28 June 2007

Car Hijacking Tactics

Have you heard about the tactic where they throw eggs on your windshield? Unsuspecting people who turn on the wiper will spread albumen and yolk all over the windshield, creating an obstructing white film. Forced to stop your car, the attackers will then come over and do their thing.

It is these type of cases that make me thankful for having an old-fashioned car. Some newer cars have an auto-sensing feature, where the wipers automatically turn on at the sign of moisture. If you have such a car, I suggest turning it off. After all, how difficult is it to flick a switch when it pours?

2kg Healthy Baby

I now have a baby to carry with me everywhere - a HP Compaq nc8430. The company finally gave me one to replace the desktop machine. It's both a blessing and a curse, but I haven't decided is more. I'll be busy setting this baby up for his new owner, so regular posting resumes tomorrow.

27 June 2007

Faith in Human Relations

I've taken quite an interest in general economics lately. Like most people not in the field, I always thought that economics have everything to do with a country's financial health, and little else. But after reading the excellent books Freakonomics and The Undercover Economist, it has really opened my eyes to the way this world works. I'm by no means an excellent one yet, but I've been more observant about phenomena around me and I'll catalog them under the 'economics' label. Actual economist might read such posts and say "Bah! That's NOT economics!", so I appeal to them to speak out.

To start things off, have you guys heard the radio advertisement that goes something like, "Mum, it's time to buy a Hyundai Atos! Auntie Sim, you should get the gutsy Hyundai Getz! Uncle Lim, it's the Matrix for you and your family! Now, remember to write my name on the entry form so I can stand a chance to win a new Hyundai Azera!" (The contest details can still be found on their website)

Does that make sense to you? Imagine for a moment I'm Uncle Lim, saying the following to the guy on the radio:

Why would I get myself into half a decade of debt just so someone else can stand a chance to win a RM230,000 car? And it's not guaranteed you'll get the car, mind you. What's my incentive for putting your name in? Are you going to share half the car with me?

I think Hyundai's marketing department designed this contest wrong. They can't use a scheme like those grocery products where the more you buy the better your chances of winning, because vehicles are not something that people buy in bulk. Among my first degree friends, probably only 1 or 2 is looking for a new vehicle. And of course, there's the absence of any incentives to put your name in and not mine.

2 things I learned from reading those books are:
- People respond to incentives (positive OR negative)
- People are inherently selfish (most of the time but there are divergent theories)

Do you have any other opinion on why this scheme would work or wouldn't?

26 June 2007

System Restore Saved My Life

I can't believe I'm saying this, but System Restore saved my life, or at the very least, my sanity. When it first launched with Windows XP, I hated it's limited usefulness. One, you needed to actually start XP to access the feature. Not having any boot disk option is very limiting, because let's face it, we've all encountered the Boot Up Blue Screen of Death.

Next, it never really makes clear what it restores and what it leaves. Does it only affect programs and drivers? Or are files part of it's purview? Speaking of files, there doesn't seem to be a way to just restore an old version of one file, instead of rewinding the whole system.

So I have to be forgiven for not liking System Restore. A few years back there's a wonderful software by the name of Roxio GoBack. It's like System Restore on Steroids! You can create virtual drives of previous HDD backups, restore particular files, and invoke it at boot up. Unfortunately, Symantec acquired it, renamed it Norton GoBack, and it lost its appeal overnight. In a sense, GoBack became System Restore on Sleepy Flu Medicine. It messed with my Master Boot Record a few times, and recovery error rates got too high for my liking. So I bid it adieu and went back to more defensive computing.

Fast forward to the present. I was running out of disk space on my Windows partition on the iMac (hur hur hur, running Windoze on iMac. Laugh it out.) so I decided to uninstall Silent Hill 2. I only played like 5 minutes of it because the PC port is too laggy. But somehow, uninstalling that game affected Silent Hill 3, which I was playing through halfway. As I didn't have the game DVD *cough*cough*torrents*cough* I started panicking. Silent Hill 3 was such an engrossing game I couldn't let a bad uninstall stand between me and the ending!

As a last resort, I tried System Restore, and surprisingly, it restored both Silent Hill 2 and it's much better sequel. I guess I owe the System Restore team an apology on this. But, it can definitely be improved.

Sidenote: Silent Hill 3, IMHO, is the best Silent Hill in the series with a decent PC port too. If you haven't got the chance to play it, scare yourself silly with an original copy! Or scare yourself just as silly with a pirated one. Up to you. I'm too morally deficient to advise on life's matters.

25 June 2007

Chemical Equation for Success

When I took my blogging leave of absence six months ago, I didn't know when I'd come back to haunt the blogosphere. I knew I wanted to keep blogging, but I never put a deadline on it. And you know- lah, the fear about these things is that we'll keep on postponing and postponing until it stops happening at all. Thankfully, a recent string of unhappiness gave me the push I needed to start writing again.

One of the major reasons I took a break was because I had simply run out of things to say. There was rarely anything in my life that was still unwritten, and as such my blog posts were becoming more like daily bulletins. So by taking this break I have allowed myself to accumulate life experiences that I can finally group together and tell you about. And let's just start with the blog name.

Zemien is still what I'm called, but hopefully, I can also be known as a sexy geek. I'm definitely far from that definition, but positive projection never hurt anyone. But sorry, no full frontal nudity to prove my point! Basically, my life now revolves around the gym and work (technology-related), so I've decided to steer my blog towards these topics, and therefore, the equation Gym + Technology = SexyGeek. BTW, I know the current banner sucks. It's just a placeholder until the graphic designer I hired gives me a new one. Yes, graphic designer. I'm SERIOUS.

For those of you who've been reading for awhile, welcome back. I fully commit to try out some Web 2.0 enhancements like... gasp!... embedded videos! Yeah, you'll certainly want to keep a lookout for those videos, especially those of you who have never met me in the flesh. But no more chatboxes or tweeters because those "free" plugins have a tendency to package pop-ups with them. But if you know an ad-free one...

Like any good theatrical trailer*, I must draw you into sticking with the blog and checking back regularly, so here's a quick update on some of the things that happened since Dec 26 (and what I'll be writing about):
  • I'm seeing someone (actually we started dating in November, but that's another post)
  • I'm a part-time group fitness aerobics instructor (ahh yes... that's the sweet sound of guaranteed blog hits)
  • I got a PS2 for free (no, you didn't read that wrongly. It's a PS2, not a PS3)
  • Did I mention I'm a gym aerobics instructor already?
And just to be fair, I'm starting my hit counter at 10000, which was the last reliable count. Why not start at 0? I'm kind, not stoopid.

*- I also hope that the actual content turns out better than the trailer. I'm looking at you, Spiderman 3!