Thursday, June 28, 2007

Cheers, Mate

I spy with my little eye, something beginning with... B!


Beer. Also known as:
- belly girth enhancer
- burping agent
- better days ahead

This is an early celebration for the latter. (Crosses fingers in hope that it's not premature. Otherwise, darn, those calories coulda been saved for later.)

Also presenting my new Nikon D40x baby. I <3 superzoom lenses.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

reCAPTCHA & Other Reads

You know how leaving comments on people's blogs sometimes involves having to figure out some squiggly alphabets that are hard to read? Well, I just learned that some of these are linked to reCAPTCHA, a programme that digitises old scanned texts by having humans solve these 'puzzles' around the world, all the time. It's pretty interesting and if you go to the site, you can actually help digitise scanned words. (After 20 'successes', I also realised it's easy to get addicted to reCAPTCHAing.) Anyway, never once did it cross my mind that all those annoying validation processes potentially have a noble cause.

Two other pretty good reads:
The Worst Jobs in Science 2007 (from Popular Science) - think 'Whale-Feces Researcher' or 'Elephant Vasectomist'
The Formula (from New Yorker) - what if we built a machine to predict hit movies?

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Music Binge

Over the past few days, I have found myself addicted to downloading mp3s ever since I rediscovered mp3 blogs and mp3 blog aggregators like The Hype Machine. When I say addicted, I mean seriously addicted, to the point that I figure out strategies for my downloading activities, as not all of these activities take place at err... private property, and because one particular machine at this non-private place has err... Alzheimer's, and err, perhaps I am supposed to be doing other things...

Anyway, mp3 blog aggregators really do help you scour the high seas for free mp3s while discovering new music you like (they compile the latest mp3 blog postings and make the content searchable). I download music torrents a lot, but there are major limitations like i) you first need to know what you want to download; ii) most torrents are for latest releases--the old albums are usually taken off; iii) if you're into niche music, it'd be easier to find me at a Paris Hilton concert than you getting your feed here.

While hunting down great music on your own can be very rewarding, it also takes time. A lot of time. I've sat through hours of patient downloading, all the while reading other people's glowing reviews of said band, only to click 'play' and discover the music sucks--to me at least. (On a side note, with the gluttony of music in the world today, you do need to start sharpening your own earbuds to what you like so that you don't drown in all the sounds. Different people like different music, so it's useless trying to find reasons to agree with all the hype if you really don't.)

Anyway, three bands / artistes that stand out from my current binging, in no particular order, are:
  1. The National (listen to them on Spinner here)
  2. Thomas Dybdahl (whose collaborations led me to discover another amazing voice, Christel Alsos)
  3. Peter and the Wolf (among other things, this dude plays in cemeteries at night and travels to gigs by boat)
It's all great music. You really should check them out. By the power vetoed me by My Honourable Self, go!!!

, , , ,


IRRESISTIBLY HOT Angora male, two and a half years old, seeks companionship of funny, friendly rabbits or humans of any gender. If you like playing catch, stroking soft surfaces, having a warm rug of high-quality fur under your feet, or entertaining the whims and fancies of a lonely, sexually charged virgin bored, neglected bunny, please reply to this post with the validation code: 'HOT BUNS'. Confidentiality is assured.

Special note from rabbit: I ran up the stairs FOUR times tonight cos not one of 'em two-leggeds were around, and I was feeling bored as usual. Each time I reached the top and stood at the bedroom doorway, my 'owner' would shout 'Lump!' in a grr-ing kinda tone it hurts my ears even to think of it and she'd try to trick me into going back down again. I stood my spot but NO! she had to take some blue thing and aim it at me, then like magic, it rained! Indoors! I HATE it when it rains indoors! Especially on my face or just me, cos no one else seems to get wet. Sometimes I think that that younger two-legged is a god or miracle worker, the way she makes yummy food appear out of nowhere, but for all those other times (which would fill 90% of the clock), I think she sucks.

P/S: That pic of me was taken when I was much younger. You can't see cos of the crappy phone cam quality, but I actually look rather like Brad Pitt.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Aged Dawgs

Reading the news can make you laugh. Really:
TOKYO - Japan will get its first nursing home for dogs with round-the-clock monitoring by doctors and a team of puppies to help aging pooches feel younger, a pet products company said Wednesday.

Owners pay 98,000 yen (US$800) a month to keep their dogs at the Soladi Care Home for pets, which opens Friday, according to a joint release by Soladi Co. and the Endo Veterinary clinic in Tochigi, eastern Japan.

Veterinarians at the home will offer round-the-clock monitoring, and residents will be fed specially fortified food, the release said.

The home, which can accept 20 dogs at one time, will also employ puppies to play with the aging dogs to help them keep fit and feel younger, the release said.

With $800 US DOLLARS, EACH MONTH, multiplied by 20 'residents', I think I could run a mini zoo. Heck, I think I could upkeep the whole of Zoo Negara (just the animals, not the workers).

The disproportionate distribution of wealth, and the careless way it is often spent, depresses me. I know poorer people would similarly balk at basic wage earners like me dishing out RM4-5K on a camera, which is what I plan to do soon (crosses fingers). The parting of the hard-earned cash will be painful and I'll probably unwillingly subject myself to bouts of post-purchase dissonance. All these money issues. If only things here were more reasonably priced, relative to the standard of living. (For e.g., the camera system I want would only be USD$1K if I lived in the States, or a few hundred if I lived in Europe. I'd still have money left over from a month's salary, rather than slogging for a few months just to get a cam.)

Does the current system not encourage people with lowly incomes to steal? :(

Stuff you don't want to hear at night

After waiting weeks for my Spidey 2 download to finish, I sit down in a semi-comfortable chair, turn off the lights and double-click the file only to find that...




There are two big yellow tractors and two big dust-coloured trucks filled with dirt outside the gate. For the past few nights, they have been digging a big long hole in the road about one foot deep, covering it back again so that I can drive out to work in the mornings, then returning late at night to dig another big long hole at exactly the same spot. Despite staring at the mess below, I fail to understand why. There are no pipes, no wires, no anything to make sense of the confounded hullabaloo that is happening at 3am. I pity my parents as their room faces the din. To add to the annoyance, tonight, the workers have decided to dig to Indian music on the radio.

BANG! Another crazily loud bang that sounded like a collision between a bike and a car. In reality, it's just more of the careless shoveling. I bet they feel honoured they have the power to keep people from having a decent night's rest.

A glance out the window again, and finally, I see the pipes. They look like gigantic red caterpillars with a never-ending wobbly midsection. They'd better not be of some dodgy material, supplied by some corrupt government contact's brother-in-law and designed to disintegrate in two weeks.

Gah. Loud noises can drive you mad.


When I horridly broke my Kyser the other day, I recalled that I'd lent a friend my old Dunlop trigger capo. So I texted her and asked if she could return it. She came along on Wednesday night, and presented to me a SHINY NEW SHUBB CAPO. And 2 boxes of Ferrero Rocher! She apologised and said she had lost the capo at a friend's wedding; would this new one do? Would it?! Of course it would! I still want the black Kyser (in memory of my old one) but this is great. Thanks, Debbie!! :D

Champs, we're back in business.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Book Bug

For reasons unclear, the Boss decided to give the Workers workers an off day on Friday (and Saturday), so I started on J.D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye, a classic published in 1951 that has courted a fair amount of controversy for "offensive language, premarital sex, alcohol abuse, and prostitution". Of course, I wasn't aware of such labels at the time, and post-enlightenment, I don't agree to calling it all that, because... well, times have changed. (Seriously, read it and see my point.)

What I found interesting though, is a bit of related trivia: (i) Mark David Chapman, the assassin of John Lennon, was carrying the book when he was arrested immediately after the murder, and referred to it in his police statement; (ii) John Hinckley, Jr., who attempted to assassinate President Ronald Reagan in 1981, was also reported to have been obsessed with the book.

Ooh, watch out people. I may just turn homicidal.

A day or two before starting on that, I'd just disposed of Yann Martel's Life of Pi, a novel that has won the Man Booker prize. Wassat? Oh, just another literary award. The first problem with book awards is that they almost certainly make me want to buy the damn book. (Note to self: There may be minors reading this. Move along pipsqueaks, you don't belong here!) The second problem is that if a book has won an award, it usually raises my expectations of it, which is fair, surely—otherwise why give it an award? However, this robs a person like me from enjoying a book for what it really is, which seemed to be the case with Life of Pi. Unless:

(i) all the brilliant bits that bowled the judges over were butchered out from my copy;
(ii) I am a daft reader (possible);
(iii) I've read millions of better books in my life (impossible—I don't even know if I've read a thousand books, period);
(iv) all the other books vying for the award that year were crap.

Despite my apparent grouses though, Life of Pi ain't bad. It's a light read and the zoology aspect is pretty interesting (Pi Patel, an Indian zookeeper's son, gets stuck aboard a lifeboat for 221 days with Richard Parker, a Bengal tiger). And... I just realised: the protagonist is sixteen years old, which is the SAME AGE as the protagonist in Catcher during the period the novel talks about. What a meaningless coincidence!

This concludes the reading of three novels in just over a month. I feel so productive. (The Time Traveler's Wife wins my vote.)

Monday, June 04, 2007

In the ruins

Nine years I have loved you.
Nine years you have loved me.
Nine years on, you lie in the ruins.

Today, for clamping you the 'right' way for a song I wrote (which is upside down of how I usually clamp you), you paid a hefty price. You died in service. Faithfully, just like always.

This picture is in memory of how a spanking new you looked like outta the package, and the spot where you received your death blow. Now I will wait to get one of your black brothers, but remember, I will miss you.

Kyser, you're da best!


(P/S: I am sad. Kyser is the best!)

(P/P/S: This is a capo, not an idiosyncratic instrument of torture.)

Sunday, June 03, 2007

2 B R 0 2 B by Kurt Vonnegut

My research into corporations and blogging for an upcoming article led to a wild romp round the Web for the past--OMG--six hours. In that time, I have discovered several interesting blogs, checked out this blog's stats on Technorati (where it's miserably ranked at 2,130,500 with an authority rating of 2), understood 1% more about Web 2.0, and discovered Project Gutenberg. (Oh, and of course, gathered some intelligence for the article.) Despite the vast amounts of time I spend reading stuff online, do not be deceived: I am not a fan of reading stuff online. But since the latter site offers e-books for free, hey, here's the top download at Project Gutenberg, 2 B R 0 2 B by Kurt Vonnegut. It's not a bad read at all (unless you abhor Times New Roman or Courier) and is a more wholesome option than looking at porn.

Friday, June 01, 2007

To Pastor Tim (whom I'd call Timmeh, but for fear of incurring that swallowed-annoyance look)

"Hello, Pastor."

Kampung Jus, Melaka, July '05 (Whee!!! Check out my eyebrows!!)

You don't need to worry if you left an impact. You did. Thank you for praying with me through dead-ends and my darkest days. Your quiet joy in God, your love for Him and the way you worship are inspiring. You don't take God as a sugar daddy as many are wont to do. You took Him as Lord, ready to follow His leading. Your faithfulness and service are some things we will visibly miss.

Thank you, Pastor Tim, for sharing your life with us these five years.

Today // Tomorrow. Time turns the page, and behold! A new adventure beckons.