Monday, March 31, 2008
part 1 of the documentary
part 2 of the documentary
part 3 of the documentary
part 4 of the documentary
part 5 of the documentary
part 6 of the documentary
part 7 of the documentary
*I watched the whole thing in one stretch again. Man, such nostalgia. I just realized one of my favourite movies, Chungking Express also has the song California Dreamin' in it. Everytime I hear their songs I just float away in nostalgia about the pass... mine and beyond my time.
After we were done depositing the cash, an old indian lady walks in and approached us. She asked if we could help her, she showed us her Asthma inhaler and needed money to buy a replacement. I saw the price tag on it, it was RM189. She was begging us for money.
By then, my other two friends had walked back to the car already and were sitting in it watching me talk to her. I asked her where she was going to buy one, she said at the pharmacy. By then, it was already 11PM. No pharmacy was open. If this was an emergency, all the clinics and hospitals would have administered Ventolin. By then I sort of knew something was fishy.
I wanted to help but in the end, I didn't and walked back to the car. As I walked out of the bank, I saw an old Indian man sitting on a motorbike without a helmet waiting for her. In my mind, there were many scenarios playing out. If they could afford petrol money and had transport, they could have easily gone to the government clinic for help.
Back in the car, my friends were laughing at me and asked me why I talked to the lady for so long. I admit, I'm a sucker sometimes and I try help people as much as I can.
Once, when I was a student, I was at the LA International Airport waiting for a transit flight alone. There was a public announcement they kept playing over the PA system about not giving donations to people. An Iranian man approached me and asked if I could talk to him. Since I had time to kill, I thought why not. He pulled me aside out of the walking traffic and started talking. He told me a sob story about how he was tortured in the Iranian revolution and was now collecting money for charity in Iran.
I gave him some money, don't remember how much but I think it was either a 10 or 50 note. I wasn't thinking. I hope it did go to charity and not to a terrorist training camp. Looking back, I felt cheated.
When ever I visit a Buddhist temple, I always give generously. I remember visiting a temple in Cameron Highlands once. I only had a RM10 note to give out as charity. It was either to put it in the general donation box or the Dharma class donation box. I choose the Dharma class, I thought that at least I'll be supporting the spread of the Dharma with the small amount I gave.
I think the only time I am adverse to giving money is when I'm eating. I hate it when I'm eating at a hawker stall and someone walks up and accost me for a donation.I almost never give. Whether they're blind; holding up a picture book full of handicap children or old folks. I don't like to think of other things while I'm eating.
Unlike the normal small mosquitos, this guy was really brave. I could get close enough to take a picture of it. I think it was feeding of the sugar on the mug. Might have been a male mosquito, I'm no expert so I can't tell.
Right after I took the picture, I smacked it.
Mosquitos, roaches and leeches are the only creatures I don't feel guilty about when I kill it. This particular fellow I think is a possible Aedes carrier so I had to kill it before it bit someone.
Today I woke up at noon (quite usual for me on a weekend). There wasn't much to do and then Chui Yan called, so we when to partake in my favourite activity, mall walking. This time, we when to The Garden instead. This was my second time at The Garden, although I've been to Midvalley many times, I've only walked over to The Garden once.
Most of the shops are boutiques and there's very little shops there that would interest me. The shops I like in Midvalley are like Ace Hardware, MPH, Carrefour and Jusco. I guess I'm not in The Garden's demographic.
I've always wondered, why is it that shopping malls like The Garden and Pavilion caters mostly to women shoppers yet their items are so expensive. In Malaysia, men still make more than women but in the upscale shopping malls, its all for women. I walked around in Robinson and they have 2 floors just to cater to the women shoppers!
Sometimes when I walk around One Utama during lunch time, I see a lot of women shoppers shopping. Most of them are not in working clothes so I surmise that there's 3 possibilities:
- They're college students. KBU and KDU is nearby and these young ladies hang out in One Utama a lot. However, they probably have parents as a source of income or have a part time job.
- They don't have fix working hours. Probably work on shifts or are freelance consultants so they do have a source of income.
- They're housewifes who have a husband to support them, the rich tai tais.
This does make me wonder though, where do guys hang out and spend their money?
I did see a few shops dedicated to men's fashion like Ted Baker. The video above is the window display from their shop. I like the cute hares jumping. However, most of the stuff they have in GAP, Ted Baker are way outside of my budget.
Judging from my own lifestyle, I spend a lot of time in the Digital Mall too. When ever I go to the Digital Mall in section 14, it's mostly guys walking around. Everyone is browing for some IT gadget or parts. I could spend hours just walking around the Digital mall looking at stuff.
Damn, everything requires money.
I'm now tied to the Malaysian economy. I have 2 loans in my name now, a housing and car loan. When I just graduated, I used to think I could leave this country anytime as I didn't have a loan and nothing to tie me down.
Now I have someone to care for, loans to pay. I have a part to play now in the local economy. I have to have a steady source of income so I can continue on. I'm tied to the Malaysian way of life now.
Sunday, March 30, 2008
I had nothing much to do today so I when over to Midvalley. I was going to stop over at the Dell showroom to check out their laptops again but I got sidetracked. I stopped over at this PDA shop I had seen before. Previously, I was looking at an O2 Atom Exec. I asked them what PDA did they have that would allow me to surf the internet and use youtube and facebook. The guy took out from the bottom of the counter an Iphone. It was the 8GB model going for RM1999.
They had brought it in from the US and unlocked the software. They didn't provide any warranty for it except software support. Quite risky buying one, but then again the normal warranty only covers manufacturer defects. If you drop or break it, Apple won't cover it under warranty anyway.
I was so going to flip out my credit card and buy it on the spot. It took a lot of will power to pull myself away from the Iphone and walk away. The salesman was very dissapointed I think.
Next, I drove over the Digital mall in section 14 to buy some stuff. I saw someone also advertising the Iphone for sale. The 8GB model was RM2000 while the 16GB model was RM2400. This guy provided a one month warranty. Plus, their phones have the new january Iphone software updates.
It's either between a Dell notebook for RM3810 or an Iphone for RM2000. The notebook, can play games, edit videos, and surf the net. Iphone, I can just put it in my pocket and surf anywhere with WiFi. That includes my office and One Utama. Argggh... I can't decide!
Either way, I'm getting either one of these on my birthday.
Saturday, March 29, 2008
I thought it was just a short recon interview to see what coins the guy had, so I called up an old high school friend who was also working in the same building. I told him I'll just take 20 minutes and I'll be down to meet him. Boy, was I wrong.
Turns out, the meeting with the coin collector lasted 2 1/2 hours. The guy was just really passionate about his collection. It was a really interesting meeting with him. At first I wanted to put some pictures of his coin up here but on second thought, I better not... for now. Some things I want to clear up first.
His coins are so rare that his collection is one of the best old Malay kingdom coins in the whole world. It was a privilege to just see his coins.
Anyway, my friend got frustrated waiting for so long, he had gone home already. I called him up after the meeting and we when out with another old friend driving around town and talking about old times. It was a fun night revisiting the past.
Looks like I spend the whole evening in the past, from old coins to old memories.
Friday, March 28, 2008
This is amazing! Photoshop is trying to muscle in onto the Flickr market with Photoshop Express. Okay, I already have Photoshop but having it online makes things so much easier. Now I wonder if I want to switch from hosting my pictures in Flickr to Photoshop Express.
You had to subscribe to yahoo's free website. However, my university provided free hosting so I had the website on my university domain. I had to take it down once I left university. I read back some of the things that I wrote and I find that some parts of my life still hasn't changed. I reproduce what I wrote on 30 December, 1998:
One Cold Night
Here I sit, 3:32A.M. in the morning. It's -15F outside and it's +80F inside.
It seems that my apartment's thermometer heater has gone nuts. Feels like back
home inside and it's freezing cold outside. My room window next to me has gone
all foggy. People on #mamak21 are blabbing away about their New Year celebration
and sit here listening to the local station while I type this.
So this is how the rest of my Spring Break is going to be like. Hiding from
the cold and spending my existence in a tiny cramped room. I sleep when the sun
rises and wake up when the sun goes down. I've turned nocturnal like the vampire
I am every holiday season. I have everything within my reach. I cup of fruit
juice, my television (with cable!), my phone, my computer with Internet
connection and my bed. Life couldn't be any more sluggish.
I could have sworn the frost on my window was forming some sort of cryptic
symbols with all it's zigzagging lines. Maybe it's telling me it's time to get
out. Then again, getting out into the cold is no fun. It's been some time since
I've experienced below 0F temperatures. Kind of feel like old times again. First
time I came here, it was about -20F. My nose was bleeding from the cold. My face
froze up and I hibernated a lot. I when into a slight depression and had food
poisoning. How 'fun'.
I still shiver when ever I think of the cold. Not many people know that I when through winter depression in my first few months there. I had arrived in the middle of a winter blizzard a month before Christmas. I wasn't acclimatized to the weather yet as it was my first winter experience. I was really depressed, I wasn't used to getting so little sunlight and spending so much time indoor.
This is the view from my apartment window. It was on the ground floor but it felt like we were in the basement as the ground outside was the same level as my window.
My small little room. Computer on the left with my TV. My bed was an inflatable bed. It was fun to sleep on... until too many people sat on it at the same time and punctured it. After that, I had to pump it up every night. By morning, I was sunk into the bed already as it had half deflated. I miss my old TV, it had an alarm clock feature in it. CNN headline news used to wake me up everyday.
The lower window on the left is my room. Notice the snow they piled up right in front of it. That's what I think of snow, it's all dirty and yucky.
This picture I took when I visited Chicago. This is my trusty Colombia sports jacket. I bought it on sale as I needed something for my skiing class. It was really durable though it was one size too big. I think I still have it somewhere today. I wish I had the chance to use it again. It would feel like Batman putting on his costume again haha!
Thursday, March 27, 2008
Incompetent People Really Have No Clue, Studies Find
They're blind to own failings, others' skills
There are many incompetent people in the world. Dr. David A. Dunning is haunted by the fear that he might be one of them.
Dunning, a professor of psychology at Cornell, worries about this because, according to his research, most incompetent people do not know that they are incompetent.
On the contrary. People who do things badly, Dunning has found in studies conducted with a graduate student, Justin Kruger, are usually supremely confident of their abilities -- more confident, in fact, than people who do things well.
``I began to think that there were probably lots of things that I was bad at, and I didn't know it,'' Dunning said.
One reason that the ignorant also tend to be the blissfully self-assured, the researchers believe, is that the skills required for competence often are the same skills necessary to recognize competence.
The incompetent, therefore, suffer doubly, they suggested in a paper appearing in the December issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.
``Not only do they reach erroneous conclusions and make unfortunate choices, but their incompetence robs them of the ability to realize it,'' wrote Kruger, now an assistant professor at the University of Illinois, and Dunning.
This deficiency in ``self-monitoring skills,'' the researchers said, helps explain the tendency of the humor-impaired to persist in telling jokes that are not funny, of day traders to repeatedly jump into the market -- and repeatedly lose out -- and of the politically clueless to continue holding forth at dinner parties on the fine points of campaign strategy.
In a series of studies, Kruger and Dunning tested their theory of incompetence. They found that subjects who scored in the lowest quartile on tests of logic, English grammar and humor were also the most likely to ``grossly overestimate'' how well they had performed.
In all three tests, subjects' ratings of their ability were positively linked to their actual scores. But the lowest-ranked participants showed much greater distortions in their self-estimates.
Asked to evaluate their performance on the test of logical reasoning, for example, subjects who scored only in the 12th percentile guessed that they had scored in the 62nd percentile, and deemed their overall skill at logical reasoning to be at the 68th percentile.
Similarly, subjects who scored at the 10th percentile on the grammar test ranked themselves at the 67th percentile in the ability to ``identify grammatically correct standard English,'' and estimated their test scores to be at the 61st percentile.
On the humor test, in which participants were asked to rate jokes according to their funniness (subjects' ratings were matched against those of an ``expert'' panel of professional comedians), low-scoring subjects were also more apt to have an inflated perception of their skill. But because humor is idiosyncratically defined, the researchers said, the results were less conclusive.
Unlike unskilled counterparts, the most able subjects in the study, Kruger and Dunning found, were likely to underestimate their competence. The researchers attributed this to the fact that, in the absence of information about how others were doing, highly competent subjects assumed that others were performing as well as they were -- a phenomenon psychologists term the ``false consensus effect.''
When high-scoring subjects were asked to ``grade'' the grammar tests of their peers, however, they quickly revised their evaluations of their own performance. In contrast, the self-assessments of those who scored badly themselves were unaffected by the experience of grading others; some subjects even further inflated their estimates of their own abilities.
``Incompetent individuals were less able to recognize competence in others,'' the researchers concluded.
In a final experiment, Dunning and Kruger set out to discover if training would help modify the exaggerated self-perceptions of incapable subjects. In fact, a short training session in logical reasoning did improve the ability of low-scoring subjects to assess their performance realistically, they found.
The findings, the psychologists said, support Thomas Jefferson's assertion that ``he who knows best knows how little he knows.''
And the research meshes neatly with other work indicating that overconfidence is common; studies have found, for example, that the vast majority of people rate themselves as ``above average'' on a wide array of abilities -- though such an abundance of talent would be impossible in statistical terms. This overestimation, studies indicate, is more likely for tasks that are difficult than for those that are easy.
Such studies are not without critics. Dr. David C. Funder, a psychology professor at the University of California at Riverside, for example, said he suspects that most lay people have only a vague idea of the meaning of ``average'' in statistical terms.
``I'm not sure the average person thinks of `average' or `percentile' in quite that literal a sense,'' Funder said, ``so `above average' might mean to them `pretty good,' or `OK,' or `doing all right.' And if, in fact, people mean something subjective when they use the word, then it's really hard to evaluate whether they're right or wrong, using the statistical criterion.''
But Dunning said his current research and past studies indicated there are many reasons why people would tend to overestimate their competency and not be aware of it.
In various situations, feedback is absent, or at least ambiguous; even a humorless joke, for example, is likely to be met with polite laughter. And faced with incompetence, social norms prevent most people from blurting out ``You stink!'' -- truthful though this assessment may be.
After reading this, it makes me wonder about the frustration people felt before the election. Those who voted for Barisan Rakyat were probably screaming at BN that they were incompetent but then the BN politicians were thinking, "no I'm not, I'm good at my job!". Well, I guess we know now why they were thinking like that.
Okay, after watching this we've established that Matt Damon hates Jimmy Kimmel. Now Jimmy here also has a girlfriend, Sarah Silverman who is also a very funny comedian herself. Jimmy invites Sarah onto his show one day. She tells him she has something very important to say to him but hasn't had a chance since the writer's guild strike in Hollywood...
haha, that was pretty jaw dropping. Okay, this is part 2. You can skip the second part of the Sarah Silverman interview and move on to the next one if you want:
Okay, the Sarah Silverman and Matt Damon music video was pretty funny but Jimmy here isn't about to roll over. Check out what he does next to get revenge...
hahaha... shit. Check out how many big name stars they have in it. If you didn't notice, the Fed Ex delivery guy is Brad Pitt. I like the ending with Harrison Ford. That was just so damn funny. Now I can't get the chorus of the Matt Damon song out of my head... "I'm f*cking Matt Damon!"
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
They didn't have anymore printed catalogs... but that's okay, I had already downloaded one from their website. I didn't print it out though, too many pages.
I remember in the movie fight club, Edward Norton's character had an apartment full of Ikea furniture. It looked so cool... his perfect nest, that is until he blew it up. Yes, it was a movie with a message against consumerism but I like some aspects of it. It makes me feels... comfortable. My safe haven.
I admit it, Ikea makes me feel safe. I want to come home to my Ikea furniture! I want to live in an Ikea showroom.
As I was driving along the main road, I noticed that the cable with the decorative lights looked like it had really wierd ornaments on it.
Look at the centre of the picture, from far it looks as it there were huge lightbulbs on it.
As I drove closer, this was what I saw... huge fat pigeons all sitting in a row on the cable. Look at the size of those pigeons! It felt like I was in a scene from Alfred Hitchcock's 'The Birds'.
After driving on for awhile, I saw this too. Look at the guy riding his bike. His bike was already slanted to the left... the guy riding it was also slanted to the left. I made Chui Yan take this picture. She doesn't know I take a lot of pictures while I drive... though it isn't very safe to do so.
Monday, March 24, 2008
So what have I done with the money? Nothing so far. I just took my family out to dinner so far. I'm saving the rest of it for the major expenses like my apartment's renovation and furniture. I also have to put money aside my for new car... yeah, I ordered a new car. In fact, the salesman just called me to ask me to prepare the loan documents.
I spend the weekend also looking at notebooks and PDA's. I've been thinking for a long time about getting a notebook. I have my eye on a Dell XPS. If if pimp it out, it's almost RM5400 bucks. damn, that's a lot of money to put down for a laptop. I'm thinking if I pimp it out... I won't need a desktop anymore. Plus I can use it for mobile editing.
I also like the idea of getting a PDA as I can carry it anywhere with me to surf the internet. I like the idea of looking up youtube or facebook as I'm sitting in a mall waiting for Chui Yan. So far I like the O2 Atom Exec. It's on sale now for RM1009 with a 2GB memory card. It doesn't have 3G but it has WiFi so I can surf for free in One Utama. However, people tell me the Atom is highly unstable because of its windows mobile 5.0 OS. Shit, that sucks... having your PDA shut down half way. I'm also considering a PDA that actually has a numeral keypad to make typing easier.
If I do get a PDA, then I might end up carrying 3 gadgets already... mobile phone, digital camera and PDA. Yes, the PDA is also a mobile phone but I find that most people don't like using the PDA as their mobile phone as dialing it is quite hard.
Anyway... I'm not buying the PDA or notebook for now until I settle my apartment and the wedding first. I forsee a lot of hidden cost out there.
Sunday, March 23, 2008
Right now, I can't get an old song out of my head, Blondie's Heart of Glass. I was searching Youtube for a video and I came across this video.
The minute I saw it, I loved the song right away... actually I always loved this song, I just never knew it was a Blondie song... or even the name of the song for the matter. Everytime this song played on Mix FM I've always liked it. It was as if I've heard it before. The song is old, it was released in 1978. Almost as old as me. I wonder if I've ever heard the song play on the radio when I was a toddler. Maybe that's how all the old songs get into my favourites list. Not sure if my parents are fans of this type of music.
There are other songs I hear just once and I instantly like it. For instance, songs by Marie Digby. She's got a wonderful honesty in her voice. Her new song "Say It Again" is sweet and it helps that she's pretty and sweet looking too.
I have songs in my head and I don't even know the lyrics of the name of the song!
If you've been to Kuala Terengganu, you might have seen Istana Maziah. It's the main palace there. The Sultan of Terengganu uses it for swearing in ceremonies and the awarding of medals. The Sultan doesn't stay here, so it only has a small staff to take care of it.
This palace used to be a school once. From what I was told by an old KT residence, there was an old missionary school that burned down. The Sultan, feeling concerned for the students, offered his palace as a temporary school building for them. So it came to be that this building served as a school until a new school was build.
Next to the palace is a small fort on top of a hill. The hill overlooks the river mouth, which was once the main gateway into Kuala Terengganu. It now serves as a lighthouse. There is also a secret tunnel linking the top of the fort all the way down to the palace. There is a small hole where they keep cannonballs in the fort, someone told me the tunnel starts from there.
I did not venture far into the palace. I was afraid I would get lost in it.
The front entrance of the palace. For all palaces, only the Sultan can use the front entrance, all other guest have to use the side entrance. You're not even allowed to walk through it.
I like this picture, the clouds look surreal (this has been altered of course). Mind you, it was actually really hot as I shot this close to noon. One of the reasons why I'm so dark now.
Hrmm, I think I found the missing palace cat. It's all dried up. My cameraman suspects it got electrocuted by a mass of wires nearby.
Another interesting place to visit in Kuala Terengganu is Pulau Duyung, famed for its fishing village and boat makers. Here, you can purchase really cheap fishes and kerepok lekor. My father's site project is on the island. He buys fish right of the fisherman as they land their fishes.
A wonderful sunset I saw at the fishing village at Pulau Duyung. (Note: this picture has been altered, I had to delete a bird flying over the clouds). The small wooden jetties that the fishermens build may soon be gone. They are currently trying to get them to move to new jetties as they are planning to reclaim the land where these old jetties are.
My cameramen likes to shoot visuals of odd things we see. We found these two cats making out on the wooden jetty as we were shooting the sunset. I have protect the identity of these two pussies for their own good. Now you know why there are so many cats roaming around Pulau Duyung!
Saturday, March 22, 2008
I've already got two visitors from the African continent (hopefully they don't need my help getting money out of the country). One from Iceland. None from Madagascar yet. I wonder if the Antarctic or North Pole has an unique country Internet address.
I noticed when I post about politics, the number of visitors to this blog shoots up. I don't write about work too much... although that might be of interest to people. I think this blog isn't an easy read either. There are spelling and grammatical errors that I don't bother to correct also (just plain lazy on my part).
I was thinking of starting another blog just about video editing, but then I realize there others out there who are definitely better than me. Plus some of the softwares I use are trial versions so they're not exactly legit. Better not say more on that!
Maybe a blog a video blog. Hrmm, that would be more fun. A video blog about Petaling Jaya. Interesting places in Petaling Jaya... what do you think?
He's also an amazing voice talent. Check him out reading a passage from a book. Damn, I want to get that book after hearing him read it. The voice in my head doesn't sound as good when I read a book!
Friday, March 21, 2008
Anyway, while waiting for the page to load again, I visited The Dilbert blog and came across an interesting comment by Scott on a debate whether humans are natural meat eaters. I myself eat meat and I think humans biologically are adapted to eat meat. I produce Scott Adam's post below:
Natural Meat Eaters
As a vegetarian, I often find myself drawn into debates about whether humans are natural meat-eaters. I’d have to say “almost.”
Clearly meat is nutritious for humans, our teeth can handle the job, and most meat-eaters love a well-cooked steak. But to say we are natural meat-eaters, I would think two things would have to be true:
1. Eating lots of meat wouldn’t increase your health risks.
2. Seeing a cow would make you salivate if you were hungry.
For now, I will ignore the first point because experience tells me that meat-eaters will argue to the death (literally) that eating meat has no health risks.
The interesting point, to me, is why so-called natural meat eaters feel the need to disguise their food by cutting it into steaks, cooking it, and covering it with barbecue sauce. If eating meat is natural, you would expect it to make you hungry in its natural condition. Looking at a cow should make you salivate when you are hungry.
Am I wrong?
[Update: To answer your rhetorical questions, yes, I do salivate when seeing raw vegetables and fruit. An orange or banana would make most people salivate if they were hungry. But I also like raw peas in a pod, even raw potatoes.]
I think for most urban folks, we've probably never caught or killed our own food before. We're so used to having meat presented to us cooked. It smells and looks good, we immediately identify it as food.
Look at the picture below of a Sirloin Steak I found on wikipedia.
If you've used to eating meat and have eaten a steak before, this picture would most probably make you hungry and want to eat one. Now compare with the cow below:
Does this animal make you salivate? If you've grown up slaughtering your own cow, or actually hunting your own food... probably. I can imagine an aboriginal hunter walking in the jungle looking at a monkey on top of a tree and thinking "mmm, I haven't had roasted monkey in awhile".The way society has conditioned us is wierd. We see soft toys of cows, chickens and pigs on sale.
Look at this soft toy cow. Looks cuddly doesn't it? Now how are we supposed to eat something that's cuddly? We don't associate this cuddly soft toy with the piece of steak on our plate. Unless of course, we've seen the whole process where the cow is butchered, slaugthered and cooked.
Once I was eating steamboat with Chui Yan and her niece. The waiter came with a plate of prawns. Suddenly, one of prawns which we thought was dead jumped of the plate. They were still very fresh. Her niece didn't want us to cook the prawn as it was still alive. We had to lie to her, telling her it was already dead. I myself felt really bad for cooking the prawn alive at first, but after pouring the poor prawn into the hot water and the prawn turned all red it instantly looked very yummy.
Personally, I'm a Buddhist and Buddha says eating meat is bad karma. I try to eat less meat but it's very hard. Meat just taste so good. I try not to eat beef for health reasons but sometimes its just soooo tempting!
When I go out to eat lunch, I try to eat fish and veggie only. I avoid animals that have been bred in captivity. Yes, some fishes have been bred in captivity but its hard for me to distinguish which ones are wild or bred. I like to think fishes that I have ate had a good life and a fighting chance before they were caught.
I don't mind if my veggies have been 'bred' in captivity. Veggies are not animals, hard to feel sorry for them. Unless of course you see this guy below:
If we start finding vegetables cute and refuse to eat them, that's the end man. We'll have to start eating laboratory grown protein food gunk.
Thursday, March 20, 2008
I ended up sitting in front of the PC surfing the net. I've been looking through Dell's website looking at their notebooks. Ever since my company made the big announcement about my bonus, everyone's been counting how they would spend their money. Mine is going into my apartment renovation... if I have a bit left, it's for a laptop.
I also ended up reading other people's blog. From just a quick observation (and mind you my brain isn't working at full capacity here) I think Malaysian bloggersphere can be divided into a few spheres:
This are the young teens. Nuffnang, the online advertiser which advertises in Malaysian blogs recently organized a Pajamas party. I didn't attend but from the pictures in other peoples blog, it looks like they were in the age of 18-30. This are the young crowd with high disposable incomes. The type of crowd advertisers want to attract.
So what do they write about? For the females, some are 'bimbo bloggers'... camwhores who are fashion police. Their blogs revolve around their personal daily dramas.
There are also those who maintain a blog without advertising it, like me. It's more of a diary blog. Low page visits and they like it that way.
There's a huge group of mothers out there who blog about their kids and motherhood. Some are in the midst of pregnancy. From what I've seen, some are housewifes and earn money from paid posts. The perfect work at home solution? Getting to write about your kids and making money from it.
Now this are the bloggers who get the most attention from the mainstream media. Political activist are those who blog about scandals; being critical of the press; and just bitching about the government. One of them even when on to be a member of Parliament. Interesting isn't it? Some of them have turned into 'civilian journalists'. They don't write for the mainstream press and a lot of them are not trained journalists, however they do report on a lot of things. Their investigative reporting sometimes would put to shame the stuff the local press turns out. However, their credibility is questionable as some of their sources are not verified... that being said, the credibility of the mainstream press is also questionable after their biased reporting in the previously concluded 12th general election.
This group I find less, but their blog is about their hobby or something they're passionate about. The most I've seen are photographers. People love looking at their photos. I also lump those who write about food reviews into this sphere. Trying new food after all, is a hobby isn't it?
Okay, I'll try to go back to bed again but the kids are crying outside. Very hard to sleep.
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
You've probably heard of conspiracy theories of how man never landed on the moon, but have you heard conspiracy theories that the earth is actually a flat disk? I was surprised to hear that that it has a membership of 3,000 as of 1971. Most people consider them loonies but imagine that... 3,000 westerners believed that the earth was flat as late as 1971!
So what's the physics of a flat earth? Well, here's what I found from Wikipedia's explanation:
The modern Flat Earth Society describes the Earth as being a disk with a diameter of about 24,900 miles (40,000 km) and a circumference of 78,225 miles (126,000 km). The sun and moon are both discs about 32 miles (52 km) in diameter (although some sources say that the sun and moon are spheres) and are about 3,000 miles (4800 km) above the Earth, and the stars about 100 miles (160 km) above the sun and moon.
The Flat Earth Society also maintains that the Earth is accelerating upward at a rate of 9.8 m/s², thereby simulating gravity. This upward momentum is caused by the "Universal Accelerator", a vague term used by the Society to describe a force that originated at the Big Bang and caused the Earth to speed upwards. Gravity cannot exist on a flat Earth since the disc shape would eventually collapse on itself. However in a few Flat Earth models, other planetary bodies such as the moon and the sun are alleged to have gravitational pulls, causing the gravitational force on an object to decrease as it increases in altitude. This also allows spacecraft to "orbit".
The planetary bodies above the Earth revolve above it, thereby causing sunrise and sunset to occur. As the sun moves farther away, it shrinks until it is no longer able to be seen. The same phenomenon occurs with the stars to cause their movement.
The society's Flat Earth hypothesis states that as a ship moves farther away, the chance of a wave being in front of the ship relative to a viewer's perspective on shore increases. Therefore, because the ship moves farther away and becomes smaller, a wave is able to obscure a larger portion of the hull until the ship is no longer visible. Other factors that also contribute to this effect are atmospheric distortion and human eyesight.
The exact explanation for lunar eclipses in the Flat Earth theory is vague, however. Two commonly accepted theories are Shadow Object Theory (that an object undiscovered and undetectable by science obscures the moon causing moon phases and lunar eclipses) and Reflection Theory (the sun's light reflects off the Earth and reflects back to the moon, with some areas of the Earth being less reflective than others, thus producing shadows).
Tides are caused by a slight tilting of the Earth, causing water to "slosh" back and forth. The tilt is very small, and very unlikely to be noticed.
As the sun orbits over the Earth, the Flat Earth theory maintains that the sun's orbit radius changes, causing it to be directly overhead different locations at different times of the year. There is no explanation of the mechanism that causes this.
Yeah, their physics are way of. I love the part where they explain about tides. Water is sloshing back and forth hahaha!
If the earth is a flat disk, so in theory, if you dig deep enough, you'll fall through the earth. I wonder what is at the bottom, a bottomless pit?
I just love testing people on their believe systems. The more vague it is, the more incredulous their explanations. It's like a web of lies they keep entangling themselves in. It's like watching kids explain things. Their logic is so different from us, it's entertaining.
Monday, March 17, 2008
One of the plus point of my office is its location, it's right next to One Utama. For lunch, if it's not raining and if I don't have a lot to do, I walk over to it. It's only a 5 minutes walk. I walk out my office's main entrance; walk pass the IBM building's lobby; then through One World Hotel and viola... I'm in One Utama old wing already.
I'm not the only one who walks to One U for lunch, a lot of people from my office and IBM does that too. At lunch time, the corridors attaching One World Hotel and One Utama are full of people wearing office tags.
Most of the time, I stop at the Chicken Rice Shop for lunch as its the closest shop in One Utama. If I'm a bit more adventurous, I'll walk all the way to the New Wing for lunch. After lunch, I usually stroll along for awhile to buy some groceries or just to window shop.
I love mall walking and One Utama during lunch time is the best place do it. It's not crowded, the corridors in the New Wing are wide and bright. I feel just dandy strolling along on its marble floor. I don't have any particular shop I want to visit most of the time, I just like walking in One U. It takes my mind of things.
My ritual after visiting One U is to always stop by at the toilet in One World Hotel. Being a 5 star hotel, they have one of the cleanest and nicest toilet in the whole of area. If I ever need to take a dump, that's my public toilet of choice. If I can still hold it in, sometimes I would walk all the way from my office to their toilet just so I can sit in it's luxury.
In the evening after work, I go back there again with Chui Yan. I watch my movies there and eat dinner too. I think I've walked along almost every area accessable to the public. I haven't been into any of the service corridors yet and I don't intend too, not much to see there.
So what's my favourite shop there? Hrm... hard pick but I'll have to say the home fix shop in the new wing. I love staring at its tools to figure out what I could use it for. Giant would be my second favourite.
Anyway, I'll end this with pictures I took today at One Utama. It's pictures of their Easter display, with all sorts of balloons. Things that kids would love to see. I like that pink bunny and how they made it's two front tooth.
By the way, I'm not paid or compensated in any way to write this. I just really like this place. The official name of this place is actually 1 Utama Shopping Centre.
Saturday, March 15, 2008
My apartment comes with a pool, I haven't moved in yet but I'm already paying the monthly service charge. Being the kiasu person, I try make full use of the facilities so I started swimming again.
I like how the pool is designed. The 3 blocks of the apartment are arranged in a triangle shape surrounding the pool, so it blocks out the sun in the morning and in the afternoon. It's great to swim at 5 as the shadow of one of the block is cast over the pool. Not hot at all. The first time I dived into the pool was last week, the water was clear and the water was just nice in a warm afternoon.
Today, when I dove into the pool, I realized the water was murky. There were some dead bugs floating also. When I put my foot down in the bottom, I could see a thin layer of dirt swirl around. Needless to say, I didn't stay in the pool for long.
I'll have to get their pool cleaning schedule. The moment they clean that pool, I'm jumping in again. Staying away from the last few days before they clean it.
Friday, March 14, 2008
Today I totally forgot I signed up to go watch a documentary at Le Meridien Hotel. My manager asked if I was interested in watching a CNN documentary about life in Iraq. Didn't sound too tempting until I heard it was at Le Meridien... mmm, in my mind I could picture their scrumptious finger food already. So I quickly put my name down.
I got to work a little late today and just as I was going to sit my ass down at my chair, I realized I was late as their was a company van waiting for us at the lobby. I rushed down only to find that there wasn't anyone else there. Turns out everyone had gone on their own. It was only me and another colleague in the van.
When I got to the hotel, I was impressed it was done in one of their nicer function rooms. The breakfast was good, I met some friends from the other stations. After I was done with the breakfast, we were led into the viewing room. I must say, Le Meridien does small private functions very well! Everything was so primp and proper.
So the documentary started, I didn't even read the synopsis as I wanted to be surprised. It turns out to be quite a grim and touching piece. The documentary was called "Through Their Eyes". It was shot by Arwa Damon, the CNN correspondent in Baghdad. She interviewed 6 women there on what was life like for them. The most touching one I think was the women on death row.
I don't have ASTRO so I haven't been watching CNN a lot, I did know they did short documentaries but I never knew about their quality. Turns out, this documentary was very good. The whole event was hosted by CNN and sponsored by Le Meridien. They had invited broadcast journalists from Malaysia to watch the documentary. Strange how CNN has a private screening just for broadcast journalist. I'm not complaining, free food and I got to watch a documentary on a slow Friday morning.
At the end of the documentary we had a Q&A session with Arwa. She's a half Syrian half caucasian women who speaks Arab. Her speaking Arab, made her job easier as the people identified with her.
I asked her what would happen if the Americans left Iraq now, she said right now its the Americans who are maintaining the peace... if they left right now, it would just get worst. I agree with her, what is done is done, the Americans shouldn't have invaded in the first place but now that they are there, they have to fix it. Leaving now would just make it worst.
I can't imagine living with shootings and bombings around me everyday. For her, she sleeps soundly every night. I reflect now on our current political situation and I think, life isn't so bad after all.
She's a small women but from the few minutes I spend talking to her she seems to be a really touch character.
Thursday, March 13, 2008
I think one of the biggest and most prominent brand in the whole country is my company's logo, I'm not kidding or just inflating my company's ego. I'm speaking from my own experience.
Everytime we take the company's vehicle with the logos on the side, heads turn. When I'm sitting in the van and we drive by in a small town, I can see heads turn. The first thought in everyone's mind on seeing the van is, 'what are they doing here?'. When we stop at a traffic light, the motorcyle rider next to us always want to peak in and see who's in the van. Which celebrity they can catch sight of.
Usually when I'm in the van, I wave at people who are looking at us just to see if they wave back. Most of them do. From the average aunties and uncles; the school kids to the police. Everyone waves back. That's a good sign.
People also just love complaining to us about their problems. I'm not in the news department anymore and people don't understand that things aren't as straight forward as it seems... but the moment they see me wearing my company's vest, they pull me aside to complaint about something. I've turned into an unnoffical elected representative.
Just the other day, we were at someone's house to do an interview. I stepped outside for awhile to catch some fresh air while the interview was still going on inside the house. The neighbour next door came out and asked me in Mandarin what we were doing. Since my mandarin wasn't so good I just mumbled we were doing an interview. She started complaining about the neighbour. I just nodded and walked of after awhile. I was really sleepy and my head was spinning. I wasn't in the mood to listen to someone complain. All the things she kept saying just didn't compute, plus she was speaking in a language I had difficulty understanding.
Normally, I would help people but sometimes you just get caught off guard and you're not in the right frame of mind to do anything. Don't call me in the morning before lunch if you need anything from me, I'm a slow starter. I hate talking to people in the morning. I just want to be left alone. Afternoons are better when I'm a bit more talkative. People who call me in the morning would most probably get no help out of me.
I prefer request for help in email forms too instead of direct calls on my cellphone. At least in emails, I'm already in the right frame of mind to read something. When someone calls me on my cellphone, I'm most probably in the middle of doing something and find the distraction disturbing. With e-mails, I can mull over how to help the person and type out a proper response.
The one thing that really cheeses me of is when someone calls me on my cellphone when I'm driving. I don't normally attach my handsfree kit so I don't answer the phone. If I do, I have to pull over and it's not so easy if you're on a busy highway.
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
I was waiting to go home while sitting at my desk at work today and some of my colleagues started talking about politics. One of them told us he wasn't surprised to see BN smaller victory. He said for those who were around in 1969, they were used to it as BN had suffered a huge dent then, although the loss now is even greater. We have to be on guard so that racial integrity is strong.
The people's hunger for news on politics is huge, even Malaysiakini's website is still trying to cope with the huge spike in traffic. Information is power now. People are looking for the latest news, even turning to blogs for unverified news.
Their is so many ramifications from the election results affecting all sectors of life, from economics to the man on the street. We can't see the effects now yet but in the construction sector, large companies are already worrying about current projects.
As for now, there is only very small affects on me. Some small changes in shooting schedules; listening to my colleagues, friends and family talk about politics; dodging political banners on the roads... other than that, life hasn't changed for much yet. Same old, same old.
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
Today we had a briefing at work for all the staff. Looks like new changes are coming. After the government changed hands, now it's my major changes too at work. Everyone is really excited. It's all supposed to happen in April. I'm just waiting for them to make the official announcement before I say anything else.
Now I'm really looking forward to what's in store for this year!
Others have written about this before but I just wanted to bring this up as it's related to what I want to write about. A few weeks ago, Pak Lah officiated a boutique owned by his daughter, Nori and his son-in-law Khairy in the Pavilion. Guess what was the name of the shop?
"The Emperor's New Clothes". Oh, the irony. They even presented him a polo shirt at the shop. Now if you don't know the Hans Christian Andersen story, it goes like this. The emperor is swindled into wearing a 'magical' robe which only the one deserving his position could see. No one else wanted to tell the emperor that there he was naked as he paraded down the street in his new clothes until at last, a small boy laughed and shouted out, "he has nothing on!".
So the moral of the story, don't surround yourself with yes man. When the people are angry, the press should report it instead of sweeping it under the carpet. True, the press also has a responsibility to ensure national security is maintained but on the flip side, when things are not said, people get angry when they don't get to voice out their opinions. The only way people could pass the message to Pak Lah was at the ballot box.
It must have been a hard pill for Pak Lah to swallow. If you have read newspapers; watch the TV; seen the billboards and been listening the radio... you would have assumed that BN was on its way to an easy 2/3 majority win again. What wasn't reported however was the huge dissastifaction among the people. Even during the hectic campaigning period, it was in-your-face propaganda. The only piece written about the opposition was color stories or short paragraphs. I don't think Pak Lah even knew how strong the opposition's campaign was and the people's anger. Pak Lah couldn't see the magnitude of the people's anger. He probably knew already and had the press supress it... but that is just as dumb.
Once the election results come out, the press would look stupid just as well. It goes to show they are not in touch with reality. The election results is a huge dent in all the official Malaysian press credibility. All their editorials; the so called 'experts' they interviewed; the VOX POPULI interviews... now it goes to they were all... well, bullshit. BN leaders are now claiming suprise at their results. Wow, have they been eatening up the same stuff their propaganda engine has been shuffing down the troats of the masses?
I wonder how the BN council post-mortem would be like. I would love to be a fly on the wall and hear what all the BN component party leaders have to say. They're all putting on a show rallying around the PM now. That's exactly what Brutus and his comrades did just before Caesar murmured out 'Et tu Brutus?"
Here's my favourite part from Shakespeare's play... Julius Caesar, Act 3, scene II
Now, before you watch Marlon Brando deliver the lines below... imagine if Marlon Brando was speaking about Tun Dr. Mahathir or Pak Lah instead.
We're all honorable men aren't we?
Monday, March 10, 2008
Everyone who voted for the opposition is asking for Pak Lah to step down as Prime Minister. Everyone is reacting as if Pak Lah actually lost the election. People 'seem' to forget that the BN did win a simple majority and can form the next federal government... although there's a stronger opposition in Parliament now. It would probably a lame duck government. I hope Parliament doesn't get bogged down in too many deadlocks.
I guess it just goes to show that this is the one exception to Malaysian standards. Normally, we are used to substandard goods and services but when it comes to election results, if the BN doesn't get a 2/3 majority, it's a failure. Getting a C is not a passing mark... must get at least a B to pass!
The opposition @ Alternative Front should also change its name now. While they're still the opposition in Parliament, they now hold 4 states (Perak, Selangor, Penang and Kelantan). In the 4 states, they are now the rulling state government, so it's not right to call them the 'opposition' anymore. A rebranding would change people's perception about them. Maybe a change to "The People's Voice" would sound better. The "Barisan Rakyat" name sounds much better. Telling people you're an alternative choice wouldn't last long if everyone swings to your side. The Reformasi slogan wouldn't last long too if you're already the government of the day.
They're not the underdog anymore. They're quite a huge doggie now.
Sunday, March 09, 2008
Before I say anything else, I want to share a story here first. When I was a student in university in Minnesota, it was in the middle of the election for the governor of the state. There was the usual Democrat and also Republican candidate... and an outsider, a former wrestler Jesse Ventura. I remember it was a heated election between the Democrats and the Republican. Jesse was mostly sidelined by the press, he wasn't even invited to the debates on live television.
Jesse on the other hand when on a road tour in a mobile home. He stopped in every county campaining from that beat up mobile home. He even stopped in my campus and got a rousing welcome from the students. He actively encourage students to vote for him.
The next morning when the results were coming in and it looks almost certain Jesse Ventura had won, I was sitting in my broadcast journalism class and in walked in my lecturer, Mark Mills. Our class wasn't a textbook type of class, instead all we ever did in class was debate current affairs issues. The first thing Mark asked us was who we voted for, most of them said Jesse. Then he said now it feels like we're all recovering from a hangover. It was a fantastic party now we're dealing with the consequences... did we actually voted in a former wrestler?
So what does that story have to do with what's going on right now? Well, I'm looking at the results of the election as its streaming in now over my television and in Malaysiakini. I think this going to worse than 1999 for BN. The opposition already has a very encouraging and strong win. So far, it goes to show that the opposition has won Penang, Kedah, Kelantan and most probably Selangor. The Parliment DAP candidate where I voted, Tony Pua won by a huge majority, 19,000! That's a huge amount. Tony must be estatic.
I look towards tomorrow with trepidation and also full of hope. Trepidation that the opposition so far doesn't have much experience rulling a state before... hope for a more fairer and just society.
My one additional wish is this... a fairer media reporting. I personally think the in-your-face BN propaganda worked against them. All those TV spots and newspaper adds did them in. It just goes to show one being desperate.
I wonder what Tun Dr. Mahathir is thinking right now... what is spinning in his mind. Will he ponder the end of his legacy at Pak Lah's hand? The burning of Rome so to say... and from its ashes so shall rise a new city.
A new dawn is coming.
Saturday, March 08, 2008
I woke up at 9AM and looked out the window, it was cloudy. By then my mother had already voted. The voting centre was at the Sri Aman Girl School, but I decided to drive anyway as it looks as if it might rain.
Just after driving a 100 metres, I saw the long lines of cars parked on both sides of the road so I parked too. So much for driving. There was already a lot of people walking in and out of the school.
As it was my second time voting, I sort of knew the routine already. I walked to the school canteen to get last minute verification of my voting station, which was the last one at 17. It's been a long time since I walked into this school. As I walked up the stairs to my voting centre, I wondered how the old and handicap are going to go up the stairs. There was so many other classrooms at the bottom that they could have used. On the news earlier, the SPR officer related the story of an 'orang tua' who was upstairs complaining of having to climb the stairs. After checking the second time again on the voting station, turns out it was downstairs... duh.
There was already a long line outside 17. There was no line outside the other stations... wierd looks like everyone from number 17 came out at the same time to vote. A Malay man with long hair with a BN shirt with button badges on it soon walked up to join the line. The policeman saw him and told him to take of all his button badges. Soon, a senior officer who was walking around saw him and told him to take of his shirt and turn it inside out. I could see that the Senior officer was smiling in disbelief to himself.
When I got into the station, I finally got my voting slip. The SPR officer reading out my name couldn't pronounce it properly as she read it out loud. I was going to correct her but since she got my number in the list right, I didn't want to create a fuss. As I was standing at the voting booth staring at the two slips, it only took a second for me to put my X down. My mind had already been made up.
My brother who had come later was a few places behind me in the line. I got him to pick me up from the mechanic after voting as I had send my car for servicing. I hope this would be the last time I spend anymore money on this car before I get my new one.
As I was taking a nap earlier, I had the strangest dream. I dreamed it was 8PM already and I was late for a party I will be attending later today. I jumped out of bed and I realized it was only 1PM... phew. Goodness.
Friday, March 07, 2008
I visited Khairy Jamaluddin's website at http://www.rembau.net.my/index.asp in it, he gives an eloquent speech on why Anwar's election promise of lowering the price of fuel is false. In Anwar's campaign trail, the one thing he always raises up are how the prices of oil was low when he was Minister of Finance. Khairy counters back that the price of oil in the international market was also low, now it has has gone up tremendously. Watch his video where he makes his argument at his website.
I agree with Khairy's viewpoint. For all the crazy things Khairy has done, he's still a smart boy... no matter what evil they say he has done. He further argues that the profits Petronas has made is reinvested in oil exploration overseas in countries like Sudan. If you've ever watch the news, you'll know countries like Sudan aren't easy to invest in. It's extremely risky, it takes deep pockets to go to places like these.
My real concern however which Khairy doesn't bring up is about the amount of wastage in our subsidy system. There is a lot of wastage in taxpayer's money. I need not elaborate more on examples on wastages, everyone has already heard examples of wastage from the opposition and even in the official media.
I've always believed that there's something wrong with our fuel subsidy system. We can't afford to give a blanket fuel subsidy system anymore. We need to have formulate a targeted fuel subsidy system. Those who drive large fuel guzzling SUV's and luxury cars more than 2.0 litres engine. Those who really deserve fuel subsidies are the fuel traders; those from the lower income group. Only those deserving of fuel subsidies should be given a quota of fuel vouchers.
There is also a lot of wastage in the fuel subsidies giving to the fishermen. When I was Kuala Terengganu, someone commented to me how the fishermen there don't go out to catch fish that often anymore. Instead, the only time they go out is to sell their subsided fuel. Even the minister of agriculture commented on how when the fish catches has decreased as the amount of fuel subsidies given to fishermen has increased. That shows that something fishy is going on.
Also, the Petronas accounts are not transparent according to the opposition. I for one know shit about accounting but I would like to know how they actually use their money. I want to know if it also includes subsidising cronies. I also wish Petronas would be fairer in it policies which is now more pro-bumiputera when awarding contracts. Other races need help too.
Meddling with the fuel prices shouldn't be the long term solution. Using petrol itself is environmentally damaging. We as a country should instead think of alternative energy... and I don't think it should be palm oil fuel. The large swats of land we clear to grow palm oil in Malaysia is already damaging enough to our ecosystem, imagine if we had to clear more land to grow for our fuel needs. Food crops should not be used as biofuel.
We need to harnest other natural resources that we have in abundant, solar energy, hidroelectric... We already have that in abundant here. I wouldn't mind getting less fuel subsidies if the government reinvest the money instead in finding alternative fuel sources. If the government could take out RM 1 billion from the fuel subsidies and put it into the research of renewable fuel resources for Malaysians... then in future, there would be more money to go around for everyone... even the cronies would be happy!
Today is the last day of campaigning. I already know who I'm going to vote for... hrm, don't think I want to attend anymore political rallies. Quite tiring. Yesterday I had to squat under my umbrella in a heavy rain... like an old uncle lah. I bought a stack of Oscar winning DVD's that I haven't watched yet. Yesterday I watched V for Vendetta again. The Wachowski brothers make excellent anti-government movies. I love their Matrix Trilogy too. The amount of propoganda they have in V largely mirrors what we are seeing now during the campaigning period. Very scarry indeed.
V for Vendetta, my favourite movie... edited as an opposition propaganda. I've been meaning to watch this movie again.
Would you argue to vote for a strong opposition?
Well, I believe in an opposition, I have always maintained that this country needs an opposition and they should be critical of the government without which we don’t have a mirror to look at our faces. We think that we are very beautiful but it is the opposition that keeps on telling us (this may not be true).
You know the government member (of parliament) sometimes they are ‘ahli bodek’ (apple polishers) they are always saying ‘you’re right’ and you have no means of assessing whether you are going in the right direction or not. So this country, if it loses its opposition and be like Singapore, then there will be disaster.
This old man is still very sharp. I like all his answers... he's so sarcastic. He doesn't support the opposition yet he doesn't support Pak Lah either. A man of his own.
Thursday, March 06, 2008
I think this might because of the post I put up about Tony. Hrmm... I guess political blogs always gets more hits. Especially in the election seasons. After the elections, back to posting about my mundane life.
This is the map on my clustrmaps. I like this tool, it's really cool. I check it once awhile to see if the red dots grow. Today, there's suddenly so many visitors from Sabah and Sarawak. There's like one visitor from Hawaii. I'm still waiting for visitors from the African continent. Visitors from Nigeria, South Africa or Madagascar would be nice!
Even visitors from Eastern Europe are visiting this blog, which is wierd... I wonder what interest them here. The American visitors are spread out through North America. The largest seems to be Chicago... can't really see since the map is so small.
I wonder if they have internet in Siberia. Getting a lonely raindeer sheperd surfing to my blog would be cool.
I spend most of the day at home rendering a wedding video I was editing. Sure took longer than I expected. This Premiere Pro CS3 is a lot more memory hungry than the old CS2. It kept running out of memory half way through rendering. Took many retries. In the end, I had to export all the project back into CS2.
I did manage to catch the tail end of Tony Pua's ceramah at SS4D. By then it was almost 11:30PM already. His permit ends at midnight. I met up with a friend there to pass him his wedding DVD. I hope it's okay, in my rush I forgot to QC it.
Tony is always smiling. He's very approachable, which is great qualities for a representative of the people. For all the points he had brought up, I wonder how much change he can bring about. I want what he wants but I wonder if other people want the same things as well. I'll find out on March 9, after the elections.
Anyway, I think all these talks candidates give at their rallies is good training ground for parliment. The reason I say that is because of the quality of candidates I've seen so far in parliment and the quality of their debates. Most of the debates degenerate into a shouting match between Lim Kit Siang and the BN guys.
I need a representative with a brain who can talk tirelessly. He/She must also be thick skinned and not be afraid to get into a shouting match with the hooligans in parliment. They also need to have integrity and listen to the people.
I'm wondering when and where is the Chew Mei Fun rally. I tried looking it up in her website, it wasn't updated at all. What a waste of time. I vote for her the last time. She's a nice lady, I give her that. However, she hasn't spoken out on a lot of things I'm concerned about. I would love to hear one of her ceramah's and see what she has to say this time around.
She's getting a lot of press coverage lately, especially in The Star. I doubt it's because of the proximity of her constituency to The Star's HQ. I think MCA know's her seat is treatened by a lot of angry urban voters. I've always believed that urban voters, especially Chinese urban voters are fluid. While they may smile and get help from the BN rep to fix infrastructure issues, they secretly yearn for what the justice DAP wants.
Issues that I'm personally worried about is the transparency of MBPJ's accounts. All the billboard's springing up around PJ is already an eyesore. I want to know what the heck happened to the money that was paid to their sports club. MBPJ wants residents to pay more assessment... I look around my area and don't see much improvement. The road still sucks with all the potholes since... shit, since 1999!
Other issues I'm also worried about is crime in my neighbourhood. Some idiot broke into my car. That got me so pissed I was contemplating putting and elaborate booby traps to catch the thief if he ever tried to break into my car again. My only concern then was how to dispose of the body.
While I know who are the candidates running for the parliment seats in my place, I still know very little about the candidates running for the state seat in my area, Kampung Tunku. The BN candidate came around earlier and my mother complained about the drain to him. When it rains, there is heavy water flow causing an erosion down stream. I pity my neighbour as his house has to bear the brunt of the water rush downstream of the drain.
I like the MCA slogan for this election, it says "Working quietly, Effectively, For Results". My favourite is the first part, 'working quietly'. It's a subtle argument against those who say MCA don't stand up against UMNO. The BN culture is focused mostly on closed door discussions. What worries me about this closed door discussion culture is that I don't know if MCA is very good at bargaining for things. I still feel I'm getting the short end of the stick here. If I, a Chinese feels that way... imagine how the Indians feel.
When the truth is found to be lies
And all the joy within you dies
Don't you want somebody to love?
Don't you need somebody to love?
Wouldn't you love somebody to love?
You better find somebody to love. (love, love, love)
When the morning flowers, baby are dead, yes.
And your mind, (your mind) is so full of dread.
Don't you want somebody to love?
Don't you need somebody to love?
Wouldn't you love somebody to love?
You better find somebody to love.
Your eyes, I say your eyes may look like his,
Yeah, but in your head, baby, I'm afraid you don't know where it is.
Don't you want somebody to love?
Don't you need somebody to love?
Wouldn't you love somebody to love?
You better find somebody to love.
Tears are running, yeah running down your vest.
And your friends, baby, they treat you like a guest.
Don't you want somebody to love?
Don't you need somebody to love?
Wouldn't you love somebody to love?
You better find somebody to love.
This is one of my favourite songs. Lately, it's been playing in my head... I think it's because of all this election propaganda I'm been bombarded with. My brain as a defense mechanism starts humming the tune in my mind. It's a wierd song, some of the lyrics don't make sense if you read it... but that's how I feel right now for this election.
This is a live performance from Jefferson Airplane's hey days... check out the hippies in the video. I remember studying about it in my History of Rock & Roll class and I thought it was just such an awsome era to live in. They were outsiders and yet fought a just government (or so their version at least). Give peace a chance!
This is another video of their performance, except it starts with White Rabbit. Another of my favourite. Another song that I hum in my head these few days. Now this song is also how I feel about the truth in all the propaganda being spewed out from both sides. Is it me or does Grace looks really stoked in this video? I like the mic she's holding, it looks like it's held together by duct tape... kind of reminds me of some of the mic's I've used a long time ago.
Wednesday, March 05, 2008
I was driving back one night at 11PM and I decided to stop over at the Wai Sek Kai in SS2 to grab a bite. It was a pasar malam nite so I was hoping the crowd would have died down by then plus the rain just ended.
When I started circling the place I was surprised to see there were still a lot of cars around. I finally got lucky and found a parking next to the police station. As I walked towards the Wai Sek Kai I could hear someone speaking over the loud speakers. I totally forgot there was a DAP ceramah there and Fong Poh Kuan was already in the middle of her speech.
She was there to support Tony Pua, the DAP candidate for PJ Utara. I stood there in the large crowd of about 400-600 people listening to them speak. I think the crowd would have been much larger earlier but it was already quite late.
Poh Kuan's voice was hoarse, probably from her speaking engagements. She seemed to revel in the Bocor issue. The crowd ate up everything she had to say. When it came to Tony's turn to speak again all the crowd shouted in agreement to what he had to say.
When the donation box came around, I saw the trader behind be grab 2 handful of 1 ringgit notes and jam it into the box. I think it was all his loose change for the night. I saw another guy open his wallet and looked through, all he had was 50 notes. He closed his wallet back and didn't give anything.
The crowd spoke mostly English among themselves. They understood the issues that Tony brought up. I think the PJ crowd is quite urban and understands national issues better. It helps that they also have easy internet access to the alternative news sources.
At least I didn't hear any character assassination of his opponent, Chew Mei Fun. He did make attacks on her answers giving in a recent Malaysiakini interview. In the interview, they were both asked if they would support the abolishment of the NEP. His opponent said she thought it was already abolished. The crowd booed.
Their permit to speak was only up to midnight so as the crowd dispersed, I when to have my supper. After awhile, I walked back out again and there were still people taking photographs with Tony. The guy was like a superstar.
check out the donation boxes. They were almost full. I wonder what they're going to do with all the money.
Oh yeah, if you're curious, one of my 50 note is in there. Tony is a smart dude and his campaign deserves my 50 bucks.
Tuesday, March 04, 2008
Okay, this is going to be a long one, mainly because it's two weeks worth of pictures. Instead of breaking down into a few post, I'm just going to put everything into one post. Long story... here goes.
As I wrote earlier, I was in Johor and Pahang for two weeks. The first week was spend in Johor. We left PJ at 11AM and after 5 hours of driving and sitting in the company's uncomfortable van, we finally arrived at Johor Baru. I haven't been to JB for years. I think the last time I came to JB was to pay respect to my grandfather's altar.
We checked ourselves into The Zon Hotel. It's an all-in-one free trade zone. It's got a hotel, shopping mall and clubs. It's got the usual alcohol and tobacco shops that you would find in a free trade zone. I think what's unique about this place are the nightclubs with their cheap booze. At night, the place are fool of young chinese kids partying away.
I wonder what they mean by 'exclusive KTV club'. I saw a lot of expensive cars driving up to it.
I like walking at the fountains at night. Quite breeze. Watching the young kids partying made me feel old.
The hotel itself is shaped like a triangle with all the corridors facing inwards. In the centre in the lobby, there is a band that plays every night until midnight. I could hear them from my room even on the high floors.
I'm afraid of heights so when I walk along the corridor, I walk as close as possible to the wall. I try not to look down.
The first day of shooting, I saw something interesting. A bird had build it's nest right next to this mansion that had been converted into an office.
It was a little yellow bird and it had made it's nest out of twigs and some cotton.
Besides taking pictures of birds, I also have a fascination for taking pictures of ants. That's mostly because they're everywhere and attack me mercilessly.
Staying in Petaling Jaya, I tend to forget we're a country infested with all sorts of ants. In Taiping I was attacked by huge red ants that literally took control of a hill I hiked up. I tell you, if I had it my way, I would come back to that hill with a few litres of kerosene and set it on fire.
In the palace grounds, I spotted these ants in the above pictures. The picture on the left is a large black ants with small black ants hitching a ride on it. The picture on the right is a group of workers transporting what looks like food.
Our next stop in our shooting schedule took us to royal palace grounds. I was standing around this old palace that hasn't seen any care for a long time.
The main hall. The wooden floors are all rotten so I didn't dare walk up on it. You can imagine it's splendor in it's heydays. It used to be a school too for awhile...
The plants are trying to take over the building now.
Someone had scribbled graffiti on the building. I found it amusing that the graffiti was all in english, unlike the graffiti you commonly see elsewhere where it's in crude Malay. This one was the most amusing. On the top it says "I love Kian Forever, 26-12-2005" and at the bottom it says, "I still love Kian forever 4-2-2007". I was going to scribble at the bottom "Kian don't love you anymore" but that would just encourage more graffiti.
I ran into a couple that was taking their wedding photos in the building. They seem quite surprised to see us shooting there. I was just as surprised to see them picking such an odd location to do their shoot!
There was a row of these trees at the back of the palace. I didn't know the name but I could guess they were pretty old. It was the strangest tree, I've never seen anything like it. It had wild branches shooting out of it's lower part of it's body with flowers at it's end.
The flowers were quite fragrant. With a whole row of them, the entire street was sweet smelling when a slight breeze blew.
The flowers turned into this cannonball sized fruits. It's exterior was hard and I didn't see anyone plucking the fruits or half eaten remains on the ground so my guess was it wasn't edible.
This is the royal mausoleum. It was on top of a hill in a peaceful cemetery. In the day time it looked serene, but I bet you wouldn't want to wait around until it got dark there.
Another unique place we stopped at was a stall called Warong Saga that had old pictures of Johor personalities. One of the picture sets caught my eye. It was a row of pictures of the former and current Chief Minister of Johor. Check out the picture right after the current Chief Minister.
The stall owner sure had some weird sense of humor. All this while the press was still trying to guess if Ghani was going to remain as the Chief Minister then.
Well, since the stall owner has a sense of humor, I decided to add my own picture...
Hrmm... how about this one, care to guess who would be the next prime minister?
All the time I was the hotel, my phone reception kept getting cut of even though there was a full bar. It wasn't until after making a few calls then I discovered the reason for this. The hotel was so close to Woodland in Singapore, the phone kept disconnecting and reconnecting to the Singapore telco side! I think I might have made some international calls to Chui Yan instead of using Maxis.
One of the stranger things I saw in JB was the Freemason Hall. Not many of the locals know what it was, they all referred to it as the 'Rumah Hantu' as the members were all secretive.
Notice the Freemason logo at the top of the building. Did you know that the former Sultan of Johor was a freemason?
On the post box, it said "Johor Royal Lodge". The building itself faces south (facing Singapore), as Freemason tradition requires their lodges to face south.
So this is the body of water that supports two rival nations. My father and his brothers used to swim across it from Johor to Singapore when they were young. The distance between the two is a lot shorter now that there is more reclaimed land.
After a few days in JB, we finally left the place to travel to a smaller town in Johor, Kota Tinggi. This is a town that was once flooded out in two great floods. A lot of the residence still fear the rain.
I took this panorama picture from our hotel, Mayres Hotel. The water level during the floods was lapping just below the second floor of most of the buildings in the town centre. That's almost 2 metres of water. There was a lot of damage financially and also emotionally.
I took a walk around the town and at first glance, you wouldn't have noticed that there was any flood at all. However, I took a closer looked at some of the closed down shops and you could see through the locked doors that there was extensive water damage. One clinic I saw never opened again, it's inside was a mess with the water level marks at it's ceiling.
The furniture and electronics store in the town centre is thriving, most probably from people trying to rebuild their life's.
The hotel we stayed in operates from the 8th floor of a tall building in the centre of the town. The ground floor is an abandoned supermarket. Staying on the 9 floor, that gave me a sense of security against the flood. It was only a 2 star hotel I think, judging from it's service and room.
The hotel had a dodgy key card system. The keys came with a plastic or metal dog tag. You had to insert the tag into a slot in the elevators while pressing the floor button at the same time. The same goes for the main power switch in the rooms. The tag on my room key was the piece of plastic that was held together by tape and was way pass it's retirement time.
I had to improvise and Macgyver my own key card since the hotel didn't offer much help in giving me a replacement key card. I fished out the old key card I kept as a souvenir from the The Zon Hotel and cut it up.
I didn't have a scissor so I badly butchered the key card. At least it works.
Anyway, I took a river cruise from Kota Tinggi heading downstream. A lot of Singaporean tourist visit this town in the weekends, the biggest attraction is the river cruise. There are fireflies to be seen by the river. There are also a lot of historical sites along it.
This picture was taken at the main jetty in town. The tall white building in the background is abandoned, I believe it's now a swift hotel. A lot of bird's flying around it. The guy who runs the boats, Ah Fook is a local hero himself. During the floods, he used his 5 boats together with the MCA to rescue trapped flood victims. His boats were the largest and carried the most people to safety. He himself lost a boat as it was stolen during the floods. Someone also broke into his house during the floods and stole all his life jackets. If you ever wanted to take his river tour, give him a call at +60137785999.
Our trip down river was pleasant but also very hot. Before we started the journey, even our boatman complained about the heat, as he never cruised down the river at noon before. He made a dash to a store nearby to buy a straw hat. I followed him and bought two umbrellas and a straw hat as well. Since the hat was only RM3.50 each, I paid for his hat as well.
There were a lot of people fishing on the river. In a small town like this, I guess that's the biggest entertainment here. It's peaceful and quite rewarding too. The guy in the picture above caught a very large prawn the length of my forearm.
I spotted two temples along the riverbanks. The one above looked like a meditation centre. It had a small peaceful park by the riverbanks. A serene place to go and contemplate the Dharma for locals.
After cruising for an hour, we finally stopped at a small jetty to have a drink. There wasn't much available at the stall but I did spot kids jumping into the river. At a closer look, I saw what they were catching, Horseshoe Crabs or better known as Belangkas to the locals. It's a species that is very rare. It's blood is prized in the pharmaceutical industry for viral detection. There is a malay saying, "macam Belangkas" which means a pair of lovers who are attached to each other. This is because the horseshoe crab mates for life. The male will be attached to the top of the female. When they are caught, the male is usually discarded.
It's about RM4 for a KG of Belangkas.
The locals prize the eggs of the female Belangkas. In the picture above, if you press near the two nodes in the centre of the picture, you would be able to squeeze out their eggs. It's a little larger than salmon eggs. There's not much meat on the crab itself.
I saw this jelly fish swimming as we left the kids. That would be a very painful encounter for anyone!
As we headed back to town, dark clouds started to loom over us. It started to drizzle a little as we passed under the clouds. Luckily, it didn't last for long.
The odd looking building painted with red stripes in the centre of the picture is a British build World War 2 pillar box. There's quite a few up along the river. The British had feared a sea invasion and had guarded the river. Little did they know, the attack came from up north.
For lunch, we stopped at this restaurant called Mahkota Belangkas. It's specialty was Belangkas Sambal tumis.
This is the restaurant owner, the Tunku Mahkota of Johor loves cooking the Belangkas.
The locals say don't drink coffee after eating Belangkas or you would get sick. So what did it taste like? Well, let's just say I won't eat it again. I would try all sorts of weird food at least once.
I remember a joke I read once, it reminds me a lot about this belangkas. "A forest ranger was walking in the woods and he stumbled upon a man who was cooking a bear over an open fire. The ranger was astonished and shouted at the man 'hey, that's a protected species, you can't cook the bear!'. The man replied, 'oh, I didn't know that... I've been living in the woods all my life, no one ever told me that'. The ranger let him of with a warning and out of curiosity asked, 'so what does the bear taste like anyway?'. The man replied, 'oh, it taste a bit like a Bald Eagle".
Belangkas eggs taste just as awful as turtle eggs.
I woke up one morning and from my hotel room I could see this. A group of BN supporters were marching down the main street of Kota Tinggi... only then did I remember it was nomination day. Kota Tinggi's incumbent was Syed Hamid Albar, the Foreign Affairs Minister. Johor itself is a BN stronghold. So no treat to him there as of this time of writing. I await to see how he fairs after the election.
I took some pictures in the local museum. It was quite well maintained, luckily it was build on high grounds, so the floods did not affect it.
I always find the mannequins they use in our local museums amusing. The locals all look like caucasians. This one is supposed to be the Dutch meeting the Sultan of Johor.
This is an interesting wedding poem I saw in the museum.
more pictures of ants. This type not so aggressive.
A panorama shot of the old fort at Johor Lama. This used to be the front of the fort facing the river. Across on the other side of the river is Johor Baru. It's peaceful here, looks like a nice place to have a garden wedding actually.
Through out the trip, we ate mostly Malay food. Not too fond of it. So when I spotted a chinese restaurant next to our hotel, I had dinner there one night on my own. All these food for only RM13. Quite cheap compared to prices in the Klang Valley. This would have cost me at least RM20.
It was finally time to continue our journey onwards to Kuantan, Pahang. By then, the election campaign period was already in full swing. We stopped by in Rompin to have lunch at a small shop. The food had a fly trap door but on closer look, all the flies were trapped inside with the food... gross. I didn't want to eat initially but in the end, I only ate the veggie. Good thing I didn't get sick.
I saw one of BN office of another minister. He had a huge balloon floating over head.
The rest of the journey was scenic. There were a lot of beach stretches that didn't have anyone on it. It looks like there are many potential sites for beach resorts along this area.
There weren't many election flags flying this year. I think the new election rulings has clamped down on the flags and poster clutter which is great. Check out the Kelisa above with the flags flying on it. I think the guy at the BN office told him to distribute the car flags but instead, he stuck it all on his car. I would like to see if his car is still like that after the election.
There was massive road construction going on from Pekan to Kuantan. They are building a new road. They suck sand out of the rivers and place it along the current road but the rains have washed most of the sand away already.
A portrait of the Sultan of Pahang I saw in the museum in Pekan. This museum is currently under renovation. The lower ground level was flooded out, so it's still quite a mess.
This is an ornate carved wooden chair that was a gift from Korea to the Sultan. It has extensive termite damage on it's back.
I saw this advertisement hanging on the wall of a stall we had lunch at. I found the name of the coffee really funny. Check out it's slogan "Tak minum, insteri marah...". A testament to it's virility.
I saw a squirrel running around in the trees above me in Pekan. When I looked on the ground, there were a lot of coconuts with holes in it. My colleague told me the squirrels had gnawed a hole into the coconut and eaten it. Smart little buggers. "Kelapa ditebuk tupai".
A strange fruit tree. The locals say it's edible. It was too high up for me to have a closer look.
Another more common fruit, the Starfruit. When I was about to get down from the van, something dropped on my head. We had parked under a starfruit tree and one had dropped on me. My crew picked the unripe green ones of the tree and started eating it. I've never seen people eat the unripe ones before.
A beautiful mosque in Pekan.
A flock of hornbills were resting in the trees in the Pekan museum. First time I've seen one up close.
Over the next few days when we were shuttling back and forth between Kuantan where we stayed and Pekan to do our shoots, it rained heavily.
Our hotel room in Kuantan at the Grand Continental didn't have TV3. So I ended up watching a lot of RTM and NTV7 news. It was mostly propaganda and heavily sided towards the government. It was blantantly biased so I stopped watching after a few days. The RTM reports were so biased it was comical. I saw one report where the Information Minister attacked Anwar Ibrahim. It had inserted pictures of Anwar singing and dancing. It just looked so bad for the minister.
I woke up one morning and saw the morning headlines on Berita Harian. Just another example of blantant yellow journalism. Their excuse for the headline would most probably be "The deputy prime minister said so, so we just quote him". Right... I can probably quote anyone of the streets who can say "Berita Harian tak adil dalam laporan" and run that as a headline too. Good thing I didn't pay any money for this paper.
Anyway, one of the higlights of Kuantan was an old camera shop. The guy had old cameras on that he showed us. The cameras from the early 1920's that his father had used to take early pictures of Kuantan.
The picture two cameras and a picture of it's owner.
The lens was by Carl Zeiss, which is still used by Sony today. Amazing.
The cameras don't work anymore. In the above picture, the main picture is the view from the Graflex camera. The insert picture is the picture I took from my camera from the same view point. For an old camera, the lens were still quite sharp. The image on the old camera's look down viewfinder was a mirror image.
I saw this on snuck away in one corner of the shop. I googled it and found out that Sakura Color is actually the brand name of a Japanese pen company.
Another wierd food I tried, coconut pancake or better known as lempeng in Kuantan.
I also got to watch some Gamelan dancers. Very graceful.
In the old days, the dance was performed at night for the Sultan so he could pick and choose a 'companion' from one of the dancers at night.
More rain clouds. This one almost flooded out the road.
I also got to visit the Istana Abu Bakar in Pekan.
It was next to the Royal Pahang Polo Club. Is it just me or does it looks like the two horses just shitted out it's tail?
We had lunch at the royal dinning room. It was a very grand room.
They served us this royal banana pudding that only was served for the royal family. The black pieces in the bowl are actually fermented small bananas. It was very sweet but too odd for my liking.
The Balairong was impressive. Very regal. It would make any man feel humbled when walking up to the throne.
I saw a few houses in the low lying areas of Pekan flooded out. They already had boats tied to their front doors. It's a good thing the election campaigns are going on with Najib around to offer aid instantly.
We also stopped by Pantai Chempedak. It was raining heavily, otherwise it would have been a perfect day by the beach.
While I was standing in the shade, a large Malay family had stopped by. Two very young kids from the group ran out to the beach in the middle of the heavy rain with the parents just watching. I think Chinese parents are very different, they wouldn't have let the kids just run of like that. The picture above is a picture of the two kids standing in the rain by the beach. I was standing just next to their parents who didn't seem to care.
I spend a lot of time in the shopping mall next to our hotel in Kuantan too and I noticed the same thing. Kids, mostly Malay were running around without any parents supervising them. Once when I took the lift, I spotted two teenagers trying to help two young kids to find their parents. It was a bubble lift and they looked out and suddenly pointed out and shouted that's their mother. We stopped on the ground floor the two kids ran of. Turns out it wasn't their mother, so I waited to watch what would happen. They two kids just ran all over the place up and down escalators without any adult supervision. I don't think it would be the same in the Klang Valley.
Just yesterday, I was buying bread at the One Utama bakery and a small Malay boy ran by crying for his mother. Everyone quickly stopped what they were doing and took notice. The lady serving us in the bakery ran out to lead the boy to the info counter. Everyone stood around him concerned for his safety. Everyone in the Klang Valley is now more aware ever since two kids when missing.
While in Kuantan, there wasn't much to do but to watch movies in GSC cinema nearby. I watched 3 movies in a week... more than I normally would.
The one thing I noticed about small towns are that services and goods are sometimes cheaper than larger cities. In Kuantan, I got a hair wash, shoulder massage and a face wash all for Rm36. In PJ, a hair wash itself is already RM15.
I also saw really cheap toy miniature remote controlled helicopters in Kota Tinggi. They were about RM50, the same model would be about RM90 in PJ. I regret not buying one.
Anyway, I'll continue this post another time. This is way too long.