Sunday, July 24, 2005

A Spotted Hagrid!

Last Friday, walked into my fave BBQ place for their Friday special : BBQ Beef Ribs.

Bummer, they had (just!!) run out… so ordered half-chicken instead.

Turned around, looking for a place to wait till they called out my number.

Saw this BIG person, hair all over the place, sitting at a nearby table.
He was devouring an order of ribs (grrrr! I wanted that!!), while reading.

My first thought : o*m*g* it’s Hagrid!!
He looked so much like the guy who plays Hagrid in the HP movies!

And what, dear reader, do you think he was reading?

Take a guess… a wild guess…

Yep: Harry Potter & the Half-Blood Prince!!

Ah, sometimes it’s the small things, chance coincidences like this one, that just make my day :D

PETA: ethical schmethical!

(For those who don't know: PETA = People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals)

The following story is from This is True dated 17 July 2005. It is Copyright 2005 Randy Cassingham, all rights reserved, and reprinted here with permission:

"Ethical" Defined

After more than 100 dead dogs were dumped in a trash dumpster over four weeks, police in Ahoskie, N.C., kept an eye on the trash receptacle behind a supermarket. Sure enough, a van drove up and officers watched the occupants throw in heavy plastic bags. They detained the two people in the van and found 18 dead dogs in plastic bags in the dumpster, including puppies; 13 more dead dogs were still in the van. Police say the van is registered to the headquarters of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, and the two occupants, Andrew B. Cook, 24, and Adria Joy Hinkle, 27, identified themselves as PETA employees. An autopsy performed on one of the dogs found it was healthy before it was killed.
Police say PETA has been picking up the animals -- alive -- from North Carolina animal shelters, promising to find them good homes. Cook and Hinkle have been charged with 62 felony counts of animal cruelty. In response to the arrests PETA President Ingrid Newkirk said it's against the group's policy for employees to dump animals in the trash, but "that for some animals in North Carolina, there is no kinder option than euthanasia." (Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald) ...Oops, my mistake: that's "Playing God" Defined.

In his author's notes section, Cassingham had more to say about this story:

The more I learn about PETA, the less I think of them. The story of them killing animals isn't even unusual. According to PETA's own filings, in 2004 PETA killed 86.3 percent of the animals entrusted to its care -- a number that's rising, not falling.
Meanwhile, the SPCA in PETA's home town (Norfolk, Va.) was able to find loving homes for 73 percent of the animals put in its care. A shortage of funds? Nope: last year PETA took in $29 million in tax-exempt donations.
It simply has other priorities for the funds, like funding terrorism (yes, really). But don't take my word for it: I got my figures from http://www.PETAkillsAnimals.com -- and they have copies of PETA's state and federal filings to back it up. The bottom line: if you donate money to PETA because you think they care for and about animals, you need to think some more. PETA literally yells and screams about how others "kill animals" but this is how they operate? Pathetic.

And you know what I wonder? PETA's official count of animals they kill is 86.3 percent. But if they're going around picking up animals, killing them while they drive around and not even giving them a chance to be adopted, and then destroying the evidence by dumping the bodies in the trash, are those deaths being reported? My guess: no. While 86.3 percent is awful, the actual number is probably much, much higher. How dare they lecture anyone about the "ethical" treatment of animals!

(This is True is a weekly column featuring weird-but-true news stories from around the world, and has been published since 1994. Click the link for info about free subscriptions.)

Friday, July 22, 2005

books, studies, & other misc ramblings

Yesterday, for the fun of it, I looked up HP6 at the library... if I had wanted to put my name down to borrow it, I would have been number 362 on the list. Wow. And the library has TWENTY-FIVE copies of the book! All of which are either checked out or being held for the next person on the waiting list. *SO* glad I got my own copy!!

That got me thinking... what about when two of my eagerly-awaited books come out? How early can I get myself on the waiting list? Especially considering one of them I don't intend to buy at all, while the other I certainly will buy the paperback version lah.

Figured, didn't matter if the book wasn't owned by my local library: so long it's listed inthe system, I can already put my name down for it... and sure enough, that seems to be the case!!

So, I am #25 for George R. R. Martin's Feast for Crows, which should be coming out on November 8th 2005.

And I am #7 (whoohooo!!) for Robert Jordan's Knife of Dreams, due to be released on October 11th, 2005; this being book 11 of an as yet undetermined total, he's milking his fans. lemmie tell ya... hence my refusal to actually *buy* anymore of his books until he bucks up!!

Of course, I need to be outta here by mid-November or so, so we'll see how that all fits into the scheme of things....

~~~
Yesterday also, I made some half-hearted attempts to get a handle on what costs I would be looking at if I were to go and pursue grad studies.

Learnt one thing: will *NOT* be looking at private schools! Did you know that one quarter (not even a semester!) at Northwestern University, tuition alone, costs USD 10K? They *do* have an interesting Graduate program in Media, Technology & Society, though.

Will be looking at public universities in Iowa and Ohio, seeing as those are the two states that I may end up in next year...

Again, so much to *not* get hung up about, cos there are so many things that need to fall into place before I can afford to go back to school, let alone choose a place to go to. I'm not worried about any of this stuff, so I encourage my readers to ALSO feel the same. No need to worry, or get all anxious, on my behalf, okay? Chill.

~~~
Finished the book about the guy who reads the Encyclopedia Britannica from A - Z. Definitely worth a read :-)

~~~
Last weekend, there was this furry rodent under the cars in the parking lot. Didn't know if it was injured or anything, but it wasn't an animal usually seen here in town. I *had* seen a similar creature at one of my walks in the nearby park, maybe it got lost and disoriented and somehow ended up at the parking lot.

Concerned that it may be injured, proceeded to call the Humane Society, asking if they knew what to do. Got passed to some wildlife collection company. Who passed us to the cops. Who passed us to Animal Control. And on and on it went. In the end, got passed to somewhere in the Veterinary medicine of the University, and were told that if we managed to catch & bring the animal to them, they'd deal with it at no charge (whether to treat it for any injuries, or to release it in the appropriate place & manner).

Proceeded to try and trap the darn thing. Armed with a broom, a cat travelling cage, and two boxes, we must have been quite a sight down there in the parking lot under the hot hot sun!! I was concerned about making sure we did not get close enough to be bitten lah, last thing I want is to be at risk for rabies or some other crap like that!

We *a*l*m*o*s*t got it in the cage, but then it decided it didn't want to hang around the cars anymore, or to put up with us disturbing it anymore, and proceeded to RUN away at quite a high speed, with no noticable limp or anything.

Guess it wasn't injured.

(If ever I manage to get my phone's pix onto flickr, I will post pix I took of the critter)

~~~
Oh, and in case you haven't noticed: my fancy counter, the one that lists the different countries my visitors come from... it's free trial period has run out... and now there will be random ads instead of the counter at random times of the day. Ugh. Don't think it's *that* great to shell out USD15/year ... and the ads are going to be irritating ... so I may be getting rid of it soon. Pity. It's definitely cool to see that list of countries ... Like just a few days ago a long-lost friend of mine based in France e-mailed me, and mentioned she'd dropped by my blog.. and I noticed a new country (France!!) up there on the list! So cool. Oh well.....

Oh well.

Till next time... bye!

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

did it in 6 hours?!

oh my.... i have such mixed feelings... I was determined not to devour HP6, but, well, devour it I did... or finished it, lah (devour makes it seem too... positive...) ... by 5pm yesterday I was done.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Book 6)I am not as impressed with this as I was with Phoenix (HP5): yet another death occurs, plus a major betrayal (or was it?)...

On a positive(?) note, some characters finally hook up, and I anticipate that the love (gag, puke) they have for each other will be vital in the battle against Voldemort; after all, how many times have we read about Voldemort pooh-poohing, or refusing to acknowledge the power of, love?

And yes, we do find out who the Half-Blood Prince is: not someone immediately obvious, and for that I suppose I can tip my hat to Rowling. Just dunno how relevant that was to the overall story, y'know?

Amusing for me was, since I'd (re-)watched all three HP movies recently, while reading I was picturing the scenes from the book, with the relevant actors running around doing their stuff. Mush easier that way, rather than having fuzzy and vague figures when reading a Wheel of Time book, for instance :p

Aaaanyways.... so that's the end of the Harry Poter excitement for the moment... Will certainly be looking out for the movie (hp4) at the end of the year. And book #7.. not sure if there is a target release date yet for that... *sigh*

~~~

Anyways... so... yeah, started another book already... A. J. Jacobs' The Know-It-All: Once Man's Humble Quest to become the Smartest Person in the world. The overarching story is that of the author who undertakes to read the Encyclopaedia Britannica from A - Z, and how it impacts his life. It's told with just the right amount of humor & wit to make it a good read so far (I've reached the end of "C", start of "D"). I'd like to think that if I ever were to attempt a book, this would be similar to what I'd write. I'd like to think so lah :p

After this, have the next two Jonathan Kellerman books (Twisted & Rage) to go through.

See ya!

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

I think I’ve earned some Harry Potter time!

Books read in the last few days:

1. Stardust: Neil Gaiman
Excellent Faerie Tale, or tale involving the Faerie, if you will. Reminiscent of Cecilia Dart-Thornton’s The Ill-Made Mute & the following two books of the Bitterbynde trilogy. A simple yet absorbing read. Highly recommended.

2. The Radioactive Boy Scout
Despite the books reading like an expose aired on Access Hollywood, it’s a distressing and disturbing read. Describes how a social misfit ends up contaminating his neighbourhood by building a nuclear breeder reactor thingy, discovered in 1995, in one of the suburbs of Detroit. Also gives a good background on the self-delusion practiced by scientists, politicians and commercial organizations in the early days of nuclear discovery. An interesting read, but like I said, when reading I could just picture how it would appear, almost verbatim, onscreen, soundbites and all!

3. Darkly Dreaming Dexter: Jeff Lindsay
Oh my, what a different novel! Dexter is a serial killer, working as a blood spatter analyst for the Miami Police Department, who kills only bad guys. Turns out he was adopted by a cop, after some mysterious trauma in his (Dexter’s) childhood; and when Dexter started exhibiting signs of sociopathic behaviour, the cop/father ends up training Dexter to use his urges for ‘good.’ When we meet Dexter, he’s got over 35 kills under his belt already. Then another serial killer turns up in Miami, whose Modus Operandi ‘sings’ to Dexter, who seems to be asking Dexter to ‘come out and play.” Pretty screwed up tale, lemmie tell ya! Check it out! I’ll be looking out for more by this author, that’s for sure :-)

~
fyi, HP6 was in my hands on Saturday, but I’ve been really good about not consuming it all at once… I made it to pg 16, then stopped. And it’s now Tuesday! Gonna pick it up again after posting this… so … bye!

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Harry Potter: movies, links & spin-offs

One of the Late Night shows (not Letterman - may be Leno?) had a little segment last night where someone of his crew went to a mall and proceeded to read out loud to kids the last page of Harry Potter & the Half-Blood Prince. It was really funny to see the kids refusing to listen byt covering their ears, or repeating over and over again "I don't want to know, I don't want to know!"; of course they didn't actually read the real ending lah, they were having fun quoting scenes from other movies and stuff. Amusing :p

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Book 6)I rented the movies of HP 1 & 2 recently (HP 3 is waiting to be picked up right now, will probably watch it tonight), also to kinda get into the groove for the release of Book 6. In addition, did you know that the the 4th movie (Goblet of Fire) is pretty much ready? I expect they'll release it in November again, like the did for the other three...

Anyway: remember or not at one point I mentioned I had rented & wathed all 6 'original' Star Trek movies? What I didn't mention was what was contained in the special features of those DVDs... oh my... whatever I'd heard before about William Shatner being a vainglorious attention-seeking fool came out loud & clear... "I had this excellent idea for the ending of the movie, and went to Nimoy and acted it out for him, he liked it, so we went to (i forget name : the director or something) and I acted it out again, and he said ok let's see if Gene Roddenbury agrees to it; but by that time i'd acted my heart out twice in a row, and I guess I was tired cos by the time I acted it out for Gene I musta not done it as well as the first two times, so Gene wasn't impressed, and so we didn't go with my ending." Dunno if that captures it or not... there were SO many comments Shatner made, that in the end I wondered if it was all a show just to propagate/perpetuate that image of his... or if he really IS as bad as that... ugh!!

Anyway... what does this have to do with Harry Potter? Well, remember Gilderoy Lockheart, the vain Defense against the Dark Arts teacher in Book 2? While watching Chamber of Secrets, seeing Gilderoy Lockheart onscreen... damn, they shoulda just had Shatner up there!! It would have been perfect!! Heeeeeheheh :)

Anyways.... So The 4th movie is in the can, speculation can move on to who's gonna be in the 5th movie.... Here's an amusing article from Sky Showbiz on people in the HP movies, both past and future. Being a Brit production, lots of the names are kinda lost on me, but enough familiar ones to be amusing lah :)

Among other things: Did you know that
- Verne Troyer (Mini-Me) got in on the act as Griphook the Goblin in HP1?
- Hugh Grant was due to play the vain Prof Gilderoy Lockhart but had to pull out (HP2)?
- Dawn French plays the Fat Lady in HP3 (and 4).
- Ralph Fiennes will be playing Voldermort in the upcoming HP4
- Liz Hurley is rumoured to be playing Bellatrix Lestrange in HP5 (2007)

Did you know that the Harry Potter series is supposed to just be 7 books long? But judging from the popularity, it's doubtful that JKRowling will be content to just let things stop there.. after all, it's bloody lucrative, ainnit? Here are some possible Harry Potter spin-offs by eyeris which are really good!!

And for those who have nothing better to do, you can check out these following resources:
1. jkrowling.com
2. muggle.net
3. Harry Potter Automatic News Aggregator (hpana.com)

Friday, July 15, 2005

Harry Potter: Countdown to Book 6

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Book 6)Today is Friday, 15th July 2005. Tomorrow, Harry Potter Book 6 (Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince) goes on sale.

Did you know, there is actually concern that this release date is going to compromise the opening of Johnny Depp's Charlie & the Chocolate Factory, a movie that's in cinemas today? It's a remake of Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory which had Gene Wilder as Mr Wonka, and is considered one of those children's classics (it *did* get cleaned up on the silver screen, I hear the original book by Roald Dahl was a lot darker! Either way - I *love* the Oompah Loompah's song!!)

Speaking about 'darker' .... maaan i really am waiting impatiently for HPHBP! For those who know, the Harry Potter books have progressively gone darker (and thicker,as in voluminous), more serious... heck, in The Order of the Phoenix (Book 5), there was a lot of social commentary, on government administrators meddling in school affairs, of entrenched politicians who are concerned more with staying in office than in doing the right thing... pretty deep stuff for kids... I do think J.K.Rowling, seeing as her audience includes as many adults as children, is writing to the adults more than the kids... not that it's a bad thing... It's an excellent way to get kids nowadays perhaps a bit more socially aware!

I might have gotten onto the Harry Potter bandwagon much later that I already did: Simply assuming that I read the series, my parents got me Book 4 (The Goblet of Fire) for my birthday when it came out in 2000. I was definitely biased against the series - heck, I wasn't going to be caught dead reading a kid's book, let alone buying Books 1 - 3 in order to get to the fourth! What changed was one of my officemates at the time happened to be a big fan, and was so keen for me to read that he offered to lend me the first three books. I also didn't want my Book 4 to 'go to waste' so I agreed.

And the rest is history.

When Book 5 came out three years later, I had actually pre-ordered it from MPH.com, and was totally impressed to have it delivered on the day of release (June 21 or 22, 2003) at ~ 5pm. I proceeded to devour it within 48 hours (started reading on Sunday), finally finishing it in the wee hours of Tuesday morning. Of course, most other people at work were nowhere close to being done yet, so I couldn't discuss the book with anyone for the longest time!! :p agony!

And now... Book 6 is on pre-order again, this time from amazon.com. I dunno whether the book's gonna be in my hands tomorrow or not, I kinda doubt it... will just be keeping an eye & ear out for the UPS / mailman early next week... and hopefully I can pace myself so I don't consume this book too fast!!

Next post: Harry Potter movies & cool links :)

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Now reading: The Rule of Four

A few days ago, I spent about 2 hours online, at amazon.com. Looked through their lists of best books of 2004, critics' list and customers' list. Made my OWN list of 'to reads' from that. Then went to the library and proceeded to see if they were available : all except one.

Whoohooo! I have lots of fodder to keep me going now :D

I have already made my way through Magical Thinking: True Stories by Augusten Burroughs: a collection of short stories about what's happened in the author's life, the author being a gay advertising person who's made enough to freelance it, comes from a screwed up family, etc etc etc. An easy read, relatively amusing. The conservatives will find the contents shocking, I bet :p

So now I'm currently reading: The Rule of Four by Ian Caldwell & Dustin Thomason.

Hypnerotomachia Poliphili: The Strife of Love in a DreamIt's something like Dan Brown 's Da Vinci Code... but for the moment I find it slow going, tho I can see hints of why it's said to be 'better written' than DVC (for the moment I'd describe it as a simpler yet pale copy of Umberto Eco). At the same time, I bet Princeton alumni would be devouring what I've read so far just cos it's set on that campus, perhaps it's even more real for them?

It's fascinating... I understand that the ancient text at the center of this tale, the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili is a real text, so I suppose after this I'll be looking it up to see what else has been written on this subject. btw a translation of the text is actually commercially available! Cool!

And just like the Da Vinci Code. which made such an impact because it essentially undermined the very foundation of the institution of Christianity as propagated by the Vatican, thus spawning many books published just to refute the claims in the original book, I notice there is already a book entitiled The Real Rule of Four : The Unauthorized Guide to The New York Times Bestseller. However, this does not seem to refute so much as complement the 'original'.

Anyways: so I am currently at pg 165 of ~370. Oh my, almost halfway and I still find it slow-moving?! Perhaps (it BETTER) pick up soon! :p Either way, should be done with it today. *grin!*

Next blog: counting down to Harry Potter 6!

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

ENT Part 2: of stones and blues

D-day arrived. Got to the hospital nice and early. Had not had anything to eat of drink since at least midnight the night before. Took off all jewelry (not that I wear much – just a necklace and a bracelet, occasionally earrings). Changed into the hospital gown. Got wheeled into the OR. Counted backwards from 10: I probably got to 7 or 6 and went under.

I had wondered if I’d wake up in the middle of the procedure, aware of the pain and what was going on but unable to move or tell the doc and nurses that I was awake. Didn’t happen. Phew!

I DID wake up right at the end, feeling COLD, and started shivering there on the stainless steel operating table. I remember a nurse exclaiming “Oh kesiannya, dia sejuk!” as I was moved onto the cart(?) and wheeled out of the OR. Even once I was transferred to the bed, I was still shivering.

This was termed a day-op, i.e. get operated on in the morning, and unless something serious comes up, you get released after lunch or so.

So there I was, still under the influence of drugs and feeling kinda woozy, when the nurse brought two little bottles to my bed. One, holding the stone, was mine to keep. I asked what the other one was: "Oh, the doctor took some sample of the saliva gland for analysis. This one I take back, but I thought you would want to see." It looked like half-cm of grey matter. Ok whatever.

So I got discharged, and was supplied with a few days' worth of painkillers. In pill form. To be swallowed via a mouth that had just been cut up. errr.. yeah, right!

The pain the next day was unbearable. Probably everything was aggravated by the battle to actually swallow the damn pills in the first place! I still remember, tears sponateously leaked out of my eyes as I attempted to move my swollen tongue as I swallowed, which disturbed the stitches just under the tongue. *ouch!*

Went to see the doc the following day, who said he was surprised I was in so much pain, cos all he did was snip open the duct and take out the stone.

Err.. wait a minute: what about that other bottle the nurse showed me?

I was caught in some kind of of brain-freeze: I knew the doctor was lying, or at least not telling the entire truth, but I somehow just could not call him on it!

Looking back, I suppose it was due to my not yet having broken out of the 'doctor is god' type mindset. You know, don't question the teacher, the doctor, the parents, the consultant, they require your respect and unquestioning loyalty whether or not they REALLY deserve it... Those at work know I certainly broke out of that mold by the time 2004 came around, eh?

Anyway... so I got some higher-octane painkillers IN PILL FORM - ugh!! - the pain slowly subsided, and I went on with my life.

Every once in a while I think back to this incident and wonder what would have happened if I'd actually informed the doc that I myself had seen the tissue sample of the gland he'd snipped out of me... or if I'd reached over and grabbed my file so I could see what was written...

... sigh ... well, if ever I find myself in that situation again, I hope I've developed enough guts, thick skin and backbone to stand up for my rights.
Preferably it doesn't happen lah, i.e. hopefully despite the genes for heart disease, cancer & diabetes in my system, I can stay in good health for a long long time....

Interlude: rain

It’s raining now. It’s Hurricane Dennis, two days after hitting Florida. By the time he makes it up to Illinois, he just brings rain, but no destruction. The worst he'd do is cause floods in this area.

(I don't get it; usually hurricanes are given girls' names (e.g. Arlene that hit last month) how come this time it's Dennis? And last year's worst one was Ivan? But the next one to threaten Florida is Emily? Or are they now alternating between male/female names, in the name of equality?)

Guess what? found a site to explain the names and more : wow they are also named in alphabetical order! I guess Bret & Cindy weren't huge ones like Arlene or Dennis! Ah, the fun of learning something new!! Check out the info here.

~~~

Remember a previous entry about re-roofing? Well, I think they couldn’t have timed it better.

They finished work on Monday afternoon. Monday night it started raining thanx to the washed out Dennis. And has continued to rain intermittently since then (now it’s Tuesday afternoon).

It’s a welcome break to the heat, that’s for sure.

Tho it’s gonna drive the humidity way up there once the rain stops and the sun warms everything up again – which may only happen in a day or two :p

No sign of leaks in the closet - whoohooo!

~~~
Will continue with ENT Part 2 later today.

Cheers!

Monday, July 11, 2005

ENT Part 1: of stones and 2nd opinions

“You have a stone in your saliva duct, which will need to be taken out.
I’m free next Monday, shall I schedule you then?”

Back in the late 90’s, I was busy getting my work area ISO9002 certified. Sometime then, I also caught strep throat or some similar type of throat infection. Maybe it was particularly bad, or maybe it wasn’t going away, I don’t remember exactly why, but I actually had to visit an ENT for it.

There I was at this specialist hospital in the Ampang area. I recall that the doc didn’t seem too worried by what he’d seen in relation to the throat, and I suppose he musta prescribed the relevant drugs to get me all better, I don’t remember.

What I do remember is him saying something totally unexpected: “You have a stone in your saliva duct, which will need to be taken out.” A slight pause as he looked at his calendar: “I’m free next Monday, shall I schedule you then?”

Whoa, slow up a little there, doc! A bit too eager to put me under the knife, aren’t ya?

Since this was totally out of the blue, I didn’t quite know how to take the news. ESPECIALLY since the doc was saying that while it would be a simple procedure, the nature of the operation would require my being under GENERAL anesthetic (GA)!

Good thing I was VERY busy with the ISO certification at the time, so I said I’d get back to him later once I figure out when I am free. I did get some sort of imaging done of my head (MRI, maybe?) to pinpoint the stone, for future reference.

Later, I consulted the Readers’ Digest Medical Dictionary: turns out stones in the salivary duct are not uncommon. I suppose they are the forgotten relatives of other, more celebrated stones like that in the kidney? The RDMD didn’t say anything about the stone having to be taken out once found…

How then to determine if the doc was just wanting to generate more income by performing an unnecessary procedure?

So, taking full use of the unlimited medical benefits of my then-employer, got myself another guarantee letter, and went for a second opinion at another specialist hospital, this time in the Bangsar area.

But… silly silly me, I took with me the MRI from the ‘original’ hospital, and bluntly asked Dr #2 if taking out the stone was necessary, then filled him in with the rest of my tale.

Later, I figured if I wanted a REAL second opinion, I should have walked in pretending that I’d noticed a lump at the bottom of my mouth, I wonder what it is; oh doctor it’s not serious is it; maybe an MRI can shed some light on the matter; a stone in the saliva duct doctor I’ve never heard of such a thing, are you sure it’s not serious; will it make any difference if it stays there or will it need to be taken out?

Instead, too late I realized that perhaps the ENT community in KL may not be that large, and Dr #2 didn’t seem to want to contradict what Dr #1 had already said to me.

Never mind,,, you live you learn….

So, I scheduled it such that the ISO certification audit was carried out on a Thursday, kept Friday open for tying up any loose ends arising from the audit, and the following Monday I went under the knife. More on that in Part 2.

Looking back, it’s amusing to see how I scheduled my health (yeah, the stone was certainly not life threatening, but still…..) after work requirements. At the same time, I didn’t seek any recognition for my selflessness; only my clerk knew that I was away on sick leave for almost a week. Typical of me, actually; no wonder I burned out in the end. But, Malays being Malays people being people, what do you think people were saying at the office at my disappearance? Snide remarks about “Wah, take holiday as soon as the audit is over, ah? You so stressed out izzit? It wasn’t that bad, what. Poor you, tak tahan ke?” Yeah, whatever.

Anyways, stay tuned for Part 2: post-op blues!

Friday, July 08, 2005

... of zombies and books...


Am looking out the window, seeing shingles fly down off of the roof.
Yesterday was the south side, today the north-facing roof.

Yeah, work's going on *finally* on re-roofing this apartment (after more than a year of random leaks in the closet area).

Got rudely awakened at 750am by the roofers, asking if one of the cars in the parking lot, where they were gonna be spreading the tarp to catch the shingles, was mine. Don’t think I was immediately coherent, but enough to convey ‘nope.’

Now there’s awful noises from above, scrapings and such, indicative of them doing their work.

Unfortunately that gives me no peace of mind to sleep, nor, for the second day in a row, to work out.

So took a hurried shower instead. And am zombie-ing online for a bit.

~~~
Not only am I zombied by the 750am wake-up, but also my the 330am sleeptime!
~~~

Why 330am? Well, I absolutely HAD to get to the end of Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell (JS&MN) last night, what can I say!? It’s certainly a welcome breath of fresh air in the world of fantasy, and the style is ah, so refreshing! The interaction between the two title characters, the mystery surrounding Lady Pole’s enchantment, the otherwordly gentleman with thistle-down hair, the kingly servant Stephen Black… plus all the footnotes with additional tales relating to the Raven King, adding even more flavour to an already fantastic tale. Mmmmmm! I highly recommend this book to those who enjoy a good read.

Next on my reading list: The Closers by Michael Connelly.
I first heard of this author when reading a review of his book “City of Bones,” and decided to check it out. Was ok lah, one of those types of set-up similar to Jonathan Kellarman’s child psychologist Alex Delaware novels, except that in this case it’s pretty much just this enigmatic L.A. cop vs the rest of the LAPD. My reading of this author would have stopped there, if not for my attempt of keeping sane during one of the worst parts of my work life, by burying myself in books. Having already picked the best off of the fantasy section, I turned to the ‘mystery/thriller’ section and ended up buying just about every book Connelly has ever written, this time starting from the earliest book, so I could see the character development of Harry Bosch (the cop lah). The most notable books are “The Poet” and its sequel of sorts, “The Narrows.”

ok... off to read now I suppose....

yawwwwwwwwwwnnnn!

Thursday, July 07, 2005

London Bomb Blasts

saw sms about 7 london bombs at my 820am

immediately switched on tv to try to find some news coverage (I only have basic cable, so no CNN. Have caught BBC news before, but that's like a special slot rather than a 24/7 thing), and found one channel that was running through it as "Breaking News: Terror Alert". Had live feeds from London, where the correspondant was saying things were strangely quiet & calm in the heart of London. Then they went to New York City and wondered why New Yorkers weren't panicking. Ugh.

at the same time, got online to see what the online news sites have to say about it... but combine dial-up with graphics-heavy pages with probably plenty of readers: turned out to be a pretty frustrating experience.

Was 'glad' to see that the number of blasts had been reduced to 4, tho it included an aboveground blast that ripped the roof of a double decker bus. Of course the death & injured numbers will keep chaning. Will have to wait till maybe this evening for things to be more coherent.

In the meantime, I will have to hope that people I know in London have not been too badly affected by this. A friend of mine is a nurse working in the heart of London, who i bet will be having her hands full helping out with this crisis. Twin sisters of a family friend are in the London area too, wonder how they are doing. Mash's sis also in London area. An ex-colleague who, the last I heard, was doing numerous trips to London for business. All that and more.

Curses to Al-Qaeda and its followers & derivatives: while they have valid issues to be highlighted, publicising and furthering their cause by murder is NOT the way to go. They do so much more harm than good, perpetuating terror, fear, hatred.

Do they really think they will get what they want (do they really know what they want in the first place?) through these murders?

Ugh.

[picture from CNN.com]

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Never Give Up, Never Surrender!

There was a treat for me on the 4th of July: Galaxy Quest was on at least twice on TBS, and I ended up watching it both times :)


I remember stumbling across Galaxy Quest on a plane, maybe enroute to Switzerland, maybe in ’99: I had never heard about it, but boy did it seem funny; after all it was majorly poking fun at the genre inspired by Star Trek. The guy from Home Improvement playing a Shatner-esque character to the extreme. And it had Sigourney Weaver as a BLONDE - I didn’t recognize her! – whose duty was essentially to provide cleavage and to repeat what the computer has to say.

I ended up watching the movie over and over and over, for the trip to Switzerland, and on the return flight too!

I think those who have a healthy liking for the StarTrek genre, but who are not absolute Trekkies (Trekkers?) will really appreciate this movie.

Check it out!

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Currently Reading: Susanna Clarke

After devouring Stephen King's Dark Tower series, followed by rereading the 7-book Death Gate Cycle by Weis & Hickman in less than 2 weeks (the delay being due to having to wait for one of the books at the library), I was kind of at a loss as to where to turn my voracious appetite next.

I know Kosh has been trying to get me to read the rest of the Dune series: even supplied me with the 1st book, which I read the first book sometime last year. Found it nowhere near as bad as I thought it would be... however, I wasn't impressed enough to want to go on to books 2 & onwards, tho I guess I will find myself at least perusing those tomes sometime in the near future...

Jonathan Strange & Mr NorrellIn the meantime... I came across this book (see right) in the library, and decided to check it out. I remember being intrigued by this book when it came out, but somehow I wasn't going to risk buying it. I just LOVE having a public library that is so well-stocked in my kinda books!! ;)

So yeah, here I am, making my way through "Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell," which happens to be Ms Susanna Clarke's debut novel. Amazing work for a debut! Ok, so I am *just* at pg 126 (out of ~870 or so) after about 3 days... and I am actually impressed that I am having to take this tale s*l*o*w*l*y ... I enjoy the build-up, and hints of things to come as indicated by footnotes referring to Jonathan Strange and his opinions the topic at hand, when in fact we have yet to officially meet this person.

So just as a heads-up: I may be quiet for a few days as I make may way through this book.

You can read more about what's caught my attention through these links:
- website by author Susanna Clarke here
- amazon.com page here

Cheers!

Monday, July 04, 2005

moi? a genius?

Was clicking away at the list of blogs at MyCen, followed some threads, and found a quiz on "The commonly Confused Words Test"... here are my results:


English Genius
You scored 100% Beginner, 100% Intermediate, 100% Advanced, and 86% Expert!
You did so extremely well, even I can't find a word to describe your excellence! You have the uncommon intelligence necessary to understand things that most people don't. You have an extensive vocabulary, and you're not afraid to use it properly! Way to go!

Thank you so much for taking my test. I hope you enjoyed it!


For the complete Answer Key, visit my blog: http://shortredhead78.blogspot.com/.




My test tracked 4 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 62% on Beginner
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 53% on Intermediate
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 75% on Advanced
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 81% on Expert
Link: The Commonly Confused Words Test written by shortredhead78 on Ok Cupid


Try it out for yourself! Tell me how *you* did :D

Memories of Coke (added pic)



1. Coke vs Pepsi?
I remember a long time ago my aunt saying she had taken part in a Coke/Pepsi taste test, organized by either Coke or Pepsi, I can’t recall: she was one of those that liked the taste of the rival brand, and so the organizers were quite miffed at her. Teehee!

If it had been me, I’d have gone for Coke, definitely!

Pepsi has that horrid aftertaste… and that’s regular pepsi! We’re not talking about all the ‘lite / diet’ products yet!

2. NewCoke
Coke had its fiasco with NewCoke: I dunno if it ever made its way to Malaysia, but I certainly never did get to taste it. My regret wrt this product is that the first virtual V-J, the stuttering Max Headroom, had been tied-in to NewCoke, so when the product died, so did poor Max :( I really liked him/it/whatever…

3. Coke and the Europeans
I remember that the only place I’d ever see Coke served with a slice of lemon was in Europe, and I’d hate it – spoilt the taste!

4. Coke and salt?!
Then there was my brother who at one stage of his life would pour salt into his glass of coke to get rid of the carbonation. Errrr didn’t that also turn it salty?? Ewwwww! I remember visiting relatives in Switzerland, they served me Coke, and handed a very puzzled me the salt shaker, assuming that I, like my brother, would ‘de-carbonate’ the drink!

5. Caffeine and Coke
This is ‘understood’ today, but when I was still in school, we had no idea that these sodas contained caffeine, nor what its effects were on us. But once I found out, I guess it would explain the many time me and the ‘gang’, around Form5 or just after, would be in ‘our’ corner of McDonald’s @ The Weld, cracking all sorts of silly jokes, finding them funnier than they really were, laughing so hard we could hardly breathe,,, I’m guessing we were high on Coke there :D

6. The Diet Era
Ah yes, the diet soda era… ‘just one calorie’ was a tagline for DietCoke, I think. Dunno when I first tried a taste of one of them drinks, but o*m*g they sucked!!! Anyone who has seen me take a hit of their DietCoke or (Diet)Pepsi, whether plain or lemon or lime or vanilla flavoured, will remember my reaction :p Talk about horrendous after-taste!!

My situation (then):
I will always like regular Coke. However, I also acknowledge that regular coke is choc-full of sugar and caffeine and other junk and high in empty calories.

Some of that could be ‘mitigated’ by switching to a diet version (still high in junk, but at least no calories!), but, well, can’t stand the taste.

Worked out quite well overall though: for the longest time I drank absolutely no soda, tho the increase in coffee intake would probably have its own effects on the system! And it’s not like I drank much water or anything, so I’d keep myself plenty dehydrated anyway :p

My situation (now):
I’ve been really good in the last year or so in trying to drink 2L water a day.

Also, I suppose the CocaColaCompany knew of many people like me, and worked hard to get us back to being their customers.

So about a year ago, they came out with “C2” : a product that tastes very close to the original Coke, but with half the calories (70cals, 18g carbs); I think it’s made with both sugar AND nutrasweet. Didn't taste half bad... uh oh, I found myself drinking soda again…!!

And now… it looks like they’ve finally gotten the breakthrough they were looking for…. CocaColaZero! This is what the original DietCoke was supposed to be! Ok ok so there is a slight cloying aftertaste, could be they were slightly heavyhanded with the syrup or something, but no matter, it’s definitely drinkable :) and best of all: zero cals, zero carbs :)

Cheers!!

Friday, July 01, 2005

... a new look!

Yeah, I got a bit bored with the 'scribe' template, so now I am using this 'lighthouse' one instead. You like? I think it feels more 'airy' :D

Gonna change 'comments' to something else ;)

Am laying off of the 'expandable post summary' style, as I figure everyone's Page Down key works well enough, and sometimes I just don't feel like 'dividing' my posts, plus I'm not savvy enough to have the 'click here for more' to appear ONLY when I want it to. But if you miss it and want it back, dear reader, so say so, ok?

Also, will experiment with another counter for this site, which seems to indicate the COUNTRIES visitors come from :D Of course, I only expect to see u.s.a, malaysia, switzerland, UK lah... anything more than that will be bonus indeed!!

Will be adding a "Links" section to the sidebar too, so I (and you!) can easily get to different blogs and other online venues I like to visit :) Will be adding to this from time to time...

And speaking about other blogsites... have you ever clicked on the "next blog" button up there on the RHS of the screen?

  • It's a real useful tool for blog surfing! Just click and you'll land at some random blog; click again and go somewhere else; click click click click... you can waste spend hours doing this :)
  • the surfing's been getting real bad recently though... i guess too many bots have been created to create blogs with lots of links and/or repeated keywords, all to increase some sites' ranking on search engines plus getting income via adsense. so irritating.
  • another irritation: blogs where the 'next blog' button (the entire top bar, in fact!) has been removed - aiyah, how to get to the next blog??!! Have to hit 'back' then 'refresh' then 'next blog' then only my procrastination exploration can continue. Not a big big deal, but if it happens often enough I get so fed up i just close the browser and give up on blog-surfing for the day.


Yeah, so that's it for now. Coming soon: a writeup on Coke's latest product - CokeZero!

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