Sunday, September 30, 2007

Jalan Bukit Bintang Saturday night

Jalan Bukit Bintang Sunday night, originally uploaded by luxen.

I when for dinner at Jalan Alor today with Chui Yan. This is the second time I when there. Lots of hawker food. Chui Yan likes the food there. For me, it's just something different besides the usual place we go too in PJ. The parking was RM7 on a Saturday night.

After dinner, we thought we'll drive by the newly opened Pavilion to have a look. That was a big mistake, it was totally jammed up. It took me 30 minutes just to get out of Jalan Bukit Bintang.

I don't understand how the authorities could have allowed YTL to build such a damn big mall without proper traffic study. The road was already jammed up before they had the Pavilion, and now that it's open, the jam is even worst.

The Pavilion isn't even opened to full capacity yet and the traffic is already quite bad. Too make it worst, there were all these idiots parked on one lane next to the Pavilion blocking up traffic. That really cheesed me of.

I probably would never go down to Jalan Bukit Bintang on a Saturday night again. I hate traffic jams.

Friday, September 28, 2007

1993 Bukit Bintang Boys School, 4 Sains Hijau class photo

That's me, middle row, second from left. Another picture I found while I was digging through my old photos. On the back of this picture, I scribbled down "4SH / cleanest class of the year". Hrm, some accomplishment.

It's a 14 year old picture. I hardly remember any of them now. I hardly keep in touch with any of them. Looking back, I didn't really enjoy secondary school much. I always felt like an outsider... like I didn't fit in. I blame that on my family's nomadic lifestyle. Every 3-4 years we would move to either Ipoh, PJ and once, to Bagan Serai.

I don't remember our class teacher's name now, but I knew she thought us maths and additional maths. I totally sucked at additional maths. I think most of the students in my class flunked it. Once, we were so proud that someone in our class got 20 out 100 for a test (or something like that, heck it was ages ago).

I always felt like this was a prison. The only class I was good at was English. Though I did enjoy biology, I barely passed. I think it was a mistake taking up the science stream. I totally sucked at it.

I never played any sports in my school. That would explain my weakling demure. I still don't play any sports. The only thing that I actually liked was swimming and cycling. I don't play any team sports or things that involve hand-eye cordination. I couldn't hit a ball with a racket.

I really tooked up cycling when I was in the US, was fun to cycle in St. Cloud as it was really flat. I won a racer in a bet. Yew Sum was leaving and he wanted to give away his old racer he inherited from his sister. It was old but it still worked. One day, me, Yew Sum and Siva when out for lunch at a chinese buffet shop. As we were having watermelon for desserts, Yew Sum announced that who ever can guest how many watermelon seeds was in his mouth, he could have the bike. It was between 1 to 3. I said 3 while Siva guessed 1. Yew Sum then spitted out 3 seeds. After we got home, Yew Sum said he actually planned to give me the bike already but Siva kept pestering him for it. So I asked him what if I guessed the wrong number of seeds in his mouth, he replied "I was going to swallow the rest if you guessed 1 or 2".

Now when ever I see watermelons, I think of Yew Sum. I could just see his expression now as he was trying so hard not to laugh as he spat out the watermelon seeds. He must have been glad he didn't have to swallow any seeds then.

KDU Orientation Night prize giving

KDU Orientation Night prize giving, originally uploaded by luxen.

Who was that chick in white? I was listening to a Peter, Paul and Mary song in my car earlier. Listening to PPM always makes me feel nostalgic.

I was digging through my old dusty photo albums and I found this photo. I recognize Idham in red and Angie in black... but who's that cute chick in white? What did she win? I sort of remembered that it was an orientation night award. Maybe she won for best dressed?

I wonder what she is doing with her life now
I wonder if she's gone on to great things
I wonder...

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Taking a break from editing one of the last few episodes. A few weeks ago, I was in Tawau to shoot the episode I'm editing now. I thought I'll stop for awhile as my neck is killing me and all the marking in and out's are getting to me.

In the early production planning, I knew I had to go to Tawau to shoot this episode, however, time really flies by and before I knew it, I haven't even booked my ticket. Plus Fadli had a pretty tight schedule so after discussing it, we booked ourself a flight to Tawau right away for a 3 days shoot. Right after we booked out flight, Fadli was told he was to leave for South Africa on the second day we'll be in Tawau, so he had to return earlier than me.

Anyway, once we go to Tawau, the weather wasn't that great either. When ever I brought out my camera, it started drizzling. I kid you not, when I kept my camera, it was bright and sunny. It was as if Tawau wanted to keep its secrets from me.

on the Semporna Jetty
A picture of me at the Semporna jetty just before we left to see the seaweed farms. It was raining and dark even though it was only 10AM when we got there.

We took a boat out to see the seaweed farms. It was interesting. The water was really shallow and clear. These farmers are mostly Bajau's. They build houses on stilts right in the middle of the sea... although the water under their houses isn't very deep. Each house has about half an acre to more than an acre of seaweed growing on long strings that they float with plastic bottles.

Bajau family
This is the family we visited. Notice the boy who is squatting, he just finished giving himself a haircut. I took a peek in the back of their house. There was a DVD player and TV where they karaoke. I didn't see a toilet around, I think the genset was next to their toilet.

bottom of a floating house
The bottom of their house... their sewage system also. Food for the little fishes!

So, what can you do with seaweed? Well, besides eating it and making it into jelly, the company that we were shooting makes it into Carrageenans. It's the plant equivalent of gelatin so for the muslim world, it's Halal. It has various applications in the food industry, mostly as a food stabilizer. For example, if you ever look at those orange juices with pulp in it that we buy in packets from the supermarket... you'll notice that the pulp floats nicely in the juice. That's cause the carrageenan is holding the pulp together. If it wasn't for the carrageenan, the pulp would have floated to the top and all the orange coloured stuff would have floated to the bottom.

different types of seaweed
This the seaweed that they harvest. The farmers usually dry the seaweed first before selling it. According to the person I interviewed, one family makes about RM4,000 every 3 months for their harvest. Not bad.

cultivated seaweed of Semporna
Looks gross doesn't it? It feels very rubbery. They actually eat it raw like a salad too. The family we visited actually cut it up for us and served it with mixed with pepper, chilli, and garlic. It's mostly tasteless except for the slight taste of the sea (slightly salty). However, if you wash it of more, it's totally tasteless. When you chew it, it's got a crunchy texture.

Pulau Bum Bum seaweed jetty
After spending some time there, I needed to take a piss and I didn't want to use their outhouse. I looked around and saw on the main island, Pulau Bum Bum that there was actually a brick building with a jetty. I asked them what was that, they said it was a community hall. I thought to myself... "hrmm, government building, must be a toilet there!" So I said, okay let's go over there so I can get some shots of the jetty also.

After a 5 minutes boat ride to the jetty, I speed walked all the way to the building and to my dismay, the gate was locked and there was no one in sight. In fact, it wasn't a community hall at all, it was a rest house. I decided I'll just hold it in instead until we got back to Semporna's main jetty.

The water got really shallow because of the low tide on the way back. At one point, it looked like one of us almost had to jump out of the boat to lighten the load. It looks like as if I could almost touch the bottom with my hand. I was wearing shorts and plastic clogs but I didn't wanted my leg to get sticky after that.

On the way back, the sky cleared and it was all bright. On hindsight, it was a good thing it wasn't hot on the way there. It was cloudy. Even then, we got a little sunburned. If was bright and sunny, we would have been totally sun burned.


When we finally reached back at the Semporna jetty, the skies were clear again. Because of the low tide, we could see that kids had actually walked a mile out from the beach in knee high water to fish. I took the picture above from the Semporna jetty. The island in the foreground is Pulau Bum Bum. In the back, that hill looks like the profile of someone's mouth who is shouting as it is lying down facing up.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

This 7 days a week working is getting to me. It's becoming so damn hard just to edit one bloody episode. My creative juices have run dry and I'm beginning to procrastinate more. Oddly enough, I do find that I work better under pressure when the dateline is nearer. When I start editing early and I know I have a lot of time to play around with, I have to many editing choices to make and end up not doing anything.

The kids screaming outside my room makes working from home not so pleasant anymore. The main reason I wanted to edit at home was because the AVID server at work was always full... plus I wanted the pleasure of editing in my underwear in my room. However, with screaming kids... maybe it wasn't such a good idea after all.

Those kids drive me nuts but I still love all three of them. Number 2 is a real screamer now. Sometimes it gets so bad, I come out of my room to see what's going on and ask them to pipe it down... which of course doesn't work because kids don't have the cognitive skills to understand reasoning yet. I want to slap some sense into them, but I know that won't work. That will just make it worst.

The story about the little girl Nurin who was raped and then murdered really got to me. I have 3 kids who I stay with me and everytime I hear about things like this, it makes me only more fearful for them.

Unlike other people, I don't believe in punishment. I believe that all criminals are ill. Some are mentally ill, while others are 'socially' ill/handicapped. What do I mean by socially ill/handicapped? I use this term to describe those who have grown up or currently live in an extremely hard social situation, poverty or abuse.

I feel that our justice system is all wrong. Convicts are sentenced to prison terms and canning or even the death penalty. I feel that prisons should instead focus more on 'curing' the illness that those prisoners suffer from. Take for example, the rapist. Counselling or medication should be given to remove their violent urges. If they can't be cured, then they should be removed from society.

Locking up someone and canning them is revenge, not rehabilitation. Most of the time, it doesn't 'cure' the person of the reason why they committed the crime in the first place. In fact, prisons today are schools for criminals. They learn their trade and craft when they are in prison now.

I know everyone wants to get the person who did this to Nurin, however, most of them want revenge. They want the guy to suffer just as badly as Nurin suffered. They want to inflict pain. However, that won't bring Nurin back. Catching the guy would prevent further rapes and murders but the little girl will still be gone and her parents will still be sad.

Don't give in to revenge. It's a fruitless path. Everytime when I drive, I have to remind myself to let go of my anger and need for vengance. Someone cuts me of and I think "damn it, he did it on purpose just to piss me of!". I want to get back at him by doing the same to him. However, before I do that, I always think how fruitless and dangerous that would be.

Now I just imagine that me driving on the road with all these road bullies around me is like me floating on a river with all these fishes swimming around me. Sounds idealistic? Well, I have to start somewhere.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Normally I don't write about politics, but this one just gets me all angry and sick after hearing it.

Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim posted a video on his blog about the alleged fixing of judges by a lawyer. It was a phone conversation the lawyer having with someone on his campaign to get a judge appointed as Chief Judge.

While listening to the guy talk on the phone, I just felt so sick someone could talk so casually about something like this on the phone. Plus, who was the mystery person recording this? Must be someone close to him to be able to record it on their phone. My guess is it was done with his permission to be used as evidence later for black mail of the person on the other side of the phone. Who knows...

I've met Anwar a few times. The first time was at his brother's funeral at the TTDI grave. I was a young journalist covering it. The prison department was escorting him as he was still held in detention then. It had just rained and the ground was wet. There was a huge crowd of reporters already surrounding the grave when I arrived. As I walked up to the grave, this rotund cameraman was coming from the opposite direction. He was covered in mud up to his chest level and he was holding his beta camera. I asked him, what on earth happened. He said, he was taking shots of the funeral when he fell backwards into an open grave that was flooded. He said luckily he fell and landed on both feet and held the camera above his head. Talk about bad luck, falling into an open grave.

When I got to the crowd praying around the grave, there was heavy security guarding Anwar Ibrahim. I took a peek into the flooded grave next to us. It looked grim, something out of a zombie horror movie. It was flooded and I doubt anyone would have been able to claw his way out without help. I reminded myself to stand back as far as possible. Anyway, with all that mud around, I didn't want to ruin my shoes.

The next time I met Anwar Ibrahim was actually at a friend's wedding. He was the guest of honour. By then, his back problem had gotten pretty bad already and he couldn't move very well. I moved a chair out of the way for him and helped him down a stage. He thanked me. In my heart, I kept saying this was the man I hated all these years. This was the man I blamed for causing riots in Malaysia. Here I am helping him down a stage and he thanked me.

I used to be angry at him... sometimes I still am when I think back of the riots, the financial crisis and how it affected me in the US. I blame him for inciting the hooligans to riot and in someway causing the huge difference between the Ringgit and the Dollar. My parents had a hard time sending me money when I was studying in the US. Times were hard for everyone. What I read in The Star online only made me angrier.

Now... I'm more mellow ever since they let him out of jail. I guess time does heal some wounds. Buddha says revenge is like a piece of coal you hold in your hand waiting to trow at someone. I feel that anger is kind of like that too, you just get burned in the process. Better to let go of that anger. Hrmm... then again, if you're smart, once you let it go, you could swiftly kick it to the person's head!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

petaling jaya panorama

petaling jaya panorama, originally uploaded by luxen.

One of my favourite things to do is to go to the rooftop of my house and take panorama pictures. On a clear day (especially right after it rains) I can see Genting Highlands. My house faces directly north. To the west, I can see the Chinese graveyard the west just peeking out above the row of shops.

My house is on the rim of a valley. The lowest point is Taman Aman while the other end of the rim is Bukit Lanjan to the north of Petaling Jaya. So I can see up to TTDI, condominiums in Sri Hartamas, Bukit Utama condominium in Bandar Utama; and even D'aman Crimson Apartment in Ara Damansara.

I get to see the fireworks that they occasionally have over One Utama and the Curve from my house, although it looks small from where I stand.

My view to the west is blocked by houses as my house is at the bottom of a steep incline. Behind the hill you can see a clear view of Kuala Lumpur. From that view, the Twin Towers and KL Tower are aligned together and they look like one single tower.

The view to the south is not much to shout about. It's just a view of southern Petaling Jaya. Industrial side of Petaling Jaya with a low cost apartment complex. The view is mostly blocked by the house behind mine.

It's late and I should be in bed. I haven't written anything lately. I guess, when I put of writing then there's just too many things that is of interest to write and it becomes a chore to write it down already.

Lately, I've been working at home a lot. Mostly editing in at home. I hardly go to the office unless I needed to transfer a tape. Doing this Winners is really getting to me, I hardly have much time to rest.

Editing one episode takes up at least 15 hours of editing. That's not including the time I spend shooting. I keep thinking it feels like a long distance drive.

Anyway, yesterday someone called me while I was still asleep early in the morning. She wanted to thank me for one of the episodes. I was a little blurry and mumbled it was okay. She mentioned I got her name wrong but other than that, she liked it. I mumbled out a thank you and when back to bed.

This is not the first thank you call or email that I got. I guess it kind of makes it worthwhile when there are people who do appreciate what I've done. I did get one e-mail from a viewer who wrote in really bad English that the show was crap. Oh well... can't win them all eh?

Besides work, I've been busy with other things too. The bank called me today and said my home loan was approved. Another sign that I'm getting older. I've never taken a loan in my life before. The bank couldn't believe that my credit ratings was really good. I don't have any outstanding credit card debts (never paid credit card interest before); I don't have a car loan and my income was stable. It took the bank less than a week to approve my loan.

Sometimes when I walk around my office lobby and I see all these new young faces walking by full of energy and I think to myself "man, either they're getting younger or I'm getting much older". Hrmm... probably both.

The first day I started work still feels like it was only weeks ago when it's been almost 8 years. I don't make friends easily so I don't talk to any of the new staff unless they talk to me. I know, it's rude but somehow I feel like people have to earn my trust. It's not that I'm snobbish and wouldn't help if they asked, I would gladly help but I won't make the first move and introduce myself. Wierd isn't it?

Lately, I've been questioning my level of job satisfaction. I yearn to do more... actually, I yearn to do something different. Doing the same thing over and over again is boring. I want to try my hands at something new. I don't have the time to actually sit down and plan what I want to do yet, but once I'm done with what I'm doing now, I will definitely do that!

Today, I only managed to download the visuals from the tape to the hard disk. Didn't actually get down to cutting anything yet. I cleaned out my Canon IXUS today. The lens was getting smudgy. I bought this nifty screen cleaner that was like those wet wipes. Only, it has cleaning alcohol in it. RM15 for one pack with 25 pieces. Not bad.

There was a fine strand of fibre in my video camera's eye piece. It was actually inside the eyepiece and behind the eye piece lens. I tried using the blower to blow it out but it wasn't long enough. In the end, I used my portable vacuum cleaner to suck it out. That damn fibre had been bugging me everytime I look through the eyepiece for weeks already. I was smiling when it was finally sucked out. Ah the little trivial things that makes me happy.

Live for the moment I say.

Monday, September 10, 2007



Does whatever a SPIDER PIG does

Can he swing

From a web

No he cant

He's a pig


He is a SPIDER PIG!!
Oh man, hearing the spider pig song in "The Simpons, The movie" really cracked me up. I remember watching The Simpsons when they used to have it on TV (I think it was Metrovision, now 8TV). It was the funniest cartoon I ever watched. Sure beats watching stuff like Sesame Street.
Some wonder where I get my sense of humour from, I definitely have to say it's from The Simpsons; South Park; and Douglas Adam's "The Hitchiker's Guide To The Galaxy". I like dark comedy and sarcasm.
Blame it on American culture. Those who say TV doesn't influence our lives only has to look at the generation that grew up watching TV. We learn cultural references from American TV programming. I dare say, if you pluck an urban kid English speaking kid out of KL and drop in LA, he'll probably get along fine.
All the prime time TV program that are imported are American. Why America? Beats me why my company buys mostly American programming for prime time. Probably it's cheap. I wouldn't mind watching British, Australian or New Zealand production if it's good. Hey, Benny Hill used to be really funny! Mr Bean was cool too.
When I was in the US, the only cultural clashes I had was when I used British/Queen's English. For example I would say "let's take the lift" and people would say, "you mean take the elevator?".
The article in Wikipedia about the spelling differences quite aptly explains it all.
meanwhile... I'm going to download Spider-pig and used it as my ringtone on the phone. In tribute of all the pigs in Melaka.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Recently, I bought a bag to put all my equipment inside. The reason I got it was because of what one of the cameraman in my office did to one of our office camera. My office has the same camera I do, DVC32. It's a great camera, and really hardy. The cameraman brought it to Singapore with him and when it came back, the LCD Panel wasn't work; the battery holder was broken and the iris control wasn't working either.

That kind of scarred me because I kept thinking if that can happen, it might happen to my camera too. So I when out to get two Lock & Lock tuperwares. They're about RM50 each. Both are airtight though it can be a problem when you're travelling by air. The pressure sucks all the air out of the tupperware, creating a vacuum effect in it. A little hard to open it after that.

A when to buy some dish washer sponges to stuff inside the tupperware to keep the things from moving around.

Some of the original equipment that I bought are already falling apart. The first tripod I got is already broken in 3 pieces. First one of the foot broke of. That wasn't so bad because I could still use it. Then Fadli brought it to South Africa with him. When it came back, the tripod head had came of. Damn it. That really did in the tripod.

The large extended use battery I bought early this year died too. It won't charge anymore. I wonder if it's still covered by warranty. Either way, I need to get a new one. It was RM420 when I bought it. What a waste of money.

I hope nothing else breaks down.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Jalan Ipoh Bah Kut Teh next to Dynasty Hotel

This is the reason why I am getting wider around the waist... Bah Kut Teh. This dish is also one of the reasons that makes me proud to be a Chinese, even though I can't speak Mandarin.

When I think about the debate about Article 11 of the constitution, the freedom of religion, I think about Bah Kut Teh. I always think about what I can do to guarantee my freedom to eat Bah Kut Teh. Yes, when it all boils down to it, it's when I can get my servings of pig intestines and stomach.

Inilah ertinya Merdeka... dapat menikmati Bah Kut Teh bila-bila masa!

This Bah Kut Teh shop at Jalan Ipoh next to the Dynasty Hotel in KL is my new find. I was looking for a new place to try and Chui Yan's sister suggested it. One has to park in the Dynasty Hotel to get here. The parking in the hotel is a bit tricky with really tight corners and small parking lots. Make sure you're not driving a large vehicle if you plan to park here!

Eating here is really interesting with all the noise from the traffic from busy Jalan Ipoh. Occasionally, you'll get an irrate driver laying on the honk just as you're about to swallow.

I think the soup is served with a little bit of rice wine. It's something different. It's sweet compared to the other types that are bitter.

Service is fast here, even though the shop is mostly full in the evening. Best time to come is the evening for supper or dinner. In the daytime, it might be a little too hot to have Bah Kut Teh!

Bah Kut Teh was one of the first few dish I learned how to cook when I was in the US. I used those instant soup packets that my parents send to me, I think it was that A1 brand that they still sell in the supermarkets.

Pork was cheap in the US, though I did sometimes substitute it with chicken thighs just for variety. I couldn't find pig intestines or stomach in the American supermarkets. Anyway, I wouldn't want to touch any raw innards of a pig, quite gross.

Those instant Bah Kut Teh spices were a highly valuable trading commodity in the US. I remember trading it for free dim sum with a waiter in the US. Was quite amusing what one would do for a taste of Bah Kut Teh.

After a few years, when I was back in Malaysia, I tried cooking Bah Kut Teh again for Chui Yan with the instant soup packets. All I can say is, I think I'll stick to letting others cook it for me... taste much better.

I remember one of the first times I when out with Chui Yan was to eat Bah Kut Teh. She was all dressed up and was suprised I was taking her out to dinner at a road side stall to eat Bah Kut Teh. Occasionally she still brings it up when ever we wonder where to have dinner. Funny.

I'm way behind in my production schedule. One plans and hope for the best, but Murphy's Law always get in the way. What can go wrong, will go wrong!

Ideally, I'm supposed to have 4 episodes lead time, that means 4 episodes ready before it goes on air. Now, I'm just one time. My shooting schedule is doing fine, but my editing schedule is way behind. It's really tiring to go out shooting and then coming back to edit.

At first, it seemed pretty easy to edit a 30 minute documentary but after 5 episodes into it, it's really mentally draining. I find it really hard to piece together things. It reminds me of the time we had to drive to Nibong Tebal. It took us 4 hours plus just to get there and we had to drive back in the same day. We left at 7:30AM and finally got back to the office at midnight. That was like 17 hours of work!

It takes me 8-12 hours to edit one episode and I can't edit half and come back to do the rest later. I have to edit it all in one stretch otherwise I loose the story flow. I think things would be much better if I had a storyboard written out. The only storyboard I have is the one in my head. I roughly know what I want to do but when it comes to implementing it, it's really hard.

Now I have 3 episodes to edit by this week. I think I'm going to edit at home instead of using the AVID system at work. Editing at home has its pro and cons. I get to edit in my underwear at home but I also get too comfortable and take too many breaks from editing. At work, it's really not hygenic because the airconditioner hasn't been cleaned in a year and everyone smokes there.

Okay, of to complete a very long journey to reach the ending credits!
Kneel before Zod!

If you ever watched Superman the movie (the original one with Christopher Reeves), it has one of the most memorable villains, Zod. This dude has a penchant for asking people to bow before him in submission.

I was watching Smallville on TV3, the re-imagined story of Superman when there was an episode about Zod. I when to wikipedia to read about him just out of curiousity sake and found out that there was quite an interesting background story to the original Superman movie (part I & II).

Apparently the original director Richard Donner got fired and that's why some of the editing in the movie wasn't so smooth. You can read about it here in Wikipedia. Now they have the original version of the movie on DVD as intended by Richard Donner, it's called Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut. Hrmm... imagine that, a movie from over 1980 re-edited.

As I was reading this, I was also keeping an eye of an episode of Winners I had edited on air. I saw a lot of similarities in what they were discussing in the article with my work life. As any editor/producer/director one is always bound to get criticism about artistic styles. One's poison, is another's one meat I suppose.

With my close colleagues, we always criticize each other's work, but it's all done in good humour. I get a lot of crap sometimes for editing decisions I make. I just accept it as it is, someone's opinion. However, others might not take the criticism as light as I have at work. Artistic people are very sensitive about their work you know!

By the way, did you know that Nicholas Cage named his baby Kal-el Coppola Cage? My goodness... why on earth did he name his child after a fictional character and a famous director? At least it's a cute baby, you can see the picture here.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Giant spider webs

Giant spider webs, originally uploaded by luxen.

Here's the picture of that giant spider web. Makes you wonder if global warming has anything to do with the spider's wierd behavior. Or if could be a cross-breeding between a non-native species of spider.

Either way, I wouldn't be walking under those trees in the picture!

This however could have economic benefits, now they have spider silk! Would be nice to see someone make a shirt out of spider silk.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Saw this in The Star today. Scarry...

Texas spiders' monstrous webs baffle scientists

By Ed Stoddard

LAKE TAWAKONI STATE PARK, Texas (Reuters) - Texans like to say everything in their state is bigger. They can now add spider webs to that list.

A monstrous network of sheet-like webs covering several acres has been spun over trees in this state park 80 km east of Dallas, baffling scientists who say it is an almost-unheard-of occurrence in the region.

Texas state biologist Mike Quinn holds a long-jawed spider in Lake Tawakoni State Park, 80 km east of Dallas, Texas, August 31, 2007. (REUTERS/Christa Cameron)
"The dominant spiders here seem to be long-jawed spiders but this is unusual. Social spiders build communal nests in the tropics but the longjaws are not social," said Mike Quinn, a Texas state insect biologist.

"We still don't have a clear answer for what is going on here," he said as he stood beneath the ghostly canopy of webbing which shrouded a patch of oak and juniper trees.

The eerie scene evoked a B-grade horror movie. Thunder rumbled in the distance as spiders skittered across Quinn's wide-brimmed hat.

He was collecting samples by using a metal rod to thrash branches over a "beat sheet" -- a sheet nailed to criss-crossed pieces off wood into which bugs would fall.

A startling number of creepy-crawlers fell from a single branch which Quinn thrashed, including several long-jawed spiders, also known as orb weavers.

"You would not want to be the prey item on the end of that," Quinn said as he held up one of the aptly named long jaws, a spindly but sinister looking thing with fangs jutting out at the end of its raptor-like jaws.

There are 10 species of longjaw in Texas and Quinn said he needed to take the specimens to other experts to determine precisely which ones they were.

There were several other species of spider in the webs, including large garden spiders.

"I've never seen anything like this before," said Ray Owings, who had come from Tyler 50 miles to the east just to look at the webbing.

Other scientists agreed it was an odd affair.

"You see this more often in tropical rain forests. Longjaws typically make the classic kind of orb web and not a sheet web," Roy Vogtsberger, an assistant professor with the biology department at Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls, Texas, told Reuters by phone.
Well, the Merdeka celebrations are over and I spend most of the time avoiding it. I was either asleep or out in the mall walking.

At work, we spend a year planning for the build up of the celebration, getting everyone hyped up about it. When it all came down to it, I was just too tired. On the countdown, I was at home watching only the last 30 minutes on TV.

I was going to go watch the Ikano fireworks from my rooftop but I missed it by a few minutes.

I woke up on Merdeka day at 10AM and the march pass was over. I only got to see the Agong leaving Dataran Merdeka.

In the evening, I was out in the mall shopping, when I got back, I did manage to catch the finale of the celebrations and the fireworks on TV at Merdeka Stadium.

Somehow or another, all this large organized celebrations reminds me of North Korea. The North Koreans have one most the most largest and beautifully syncronized celebrations too, usually at their premier's birthday. The only thing we're missing is the parade of large missiles down pass Dataran Merdeka hehehe.

Oh, we did have MIG-27's though! Yeah... those pirates in Melaka straits better watch out now. We got submarines and fighter jets now... blow you out of the water!