Monday, October 31, 2005

trick or *sniff* ah-choooooooo! treat? it's a wet halloween...

... i have a furiously purring kitty on my lap! am typing one handed as the other hand is stroking her while also trying to make sure she doesn't fall off her precarious perch! :p

It's still raining outside... hasn't let up a whit since i commented on it 5 hours ago. ugh. it's a wet wet wet halloween :p

Success: have finished knife of dreams!! I keep saying this, but it's true: this is the most satisfying Wheel of Time book in YEARS!! Now for the 2-year wait for Book 12 :p

One unfortunate side effect to my reading: my nails have been bitten all the way down again... I tend to do that when reading :(

My little 2-sen worth of thoughts on Halloween: it was a horrible sight while in switzerland to see that commercialism has reached its greedy fingers out to Europe... what was once never celebrated is now starting to be observed: orange & black; spider webs; grinning pumpkins... Europe didn't use to make All Hallow's Eve as much as they marked All Saints Day. And certainly not the way the North Americans do. And yet, that is slowly changing. I find it's a pity. How soon before celebrations unique to a certain region or people are taken over or swallowed by this beast called, err, what IS it called? globalisation? commercialism? whatever :p

I started LOL-ing watching the preview for last week's Smallville (taped, not yet watched): Remember I was excited that the fella who played Spike on Angel/Buffy was going to be joining Smallville? This episode which I will start watching in an hour or so, is about vampires. Looks kinda lame... but... I *have* to watch it perhaps for no other reason than to see in context what was used in the preview: a 5-second clip of Spike saying "Vampires? Everyone knows there's no such thing as vampires." LMAO! (For those who don't understand: He played a vampire in Angel / Buffy).

Me going stir crazy. :p

Let's see how long I can stay sane :p

It's Halloween tonite!

Activity for today:
1. 25min walk to the gym
2. 30 min elliptical thingy @ over 250cals
3. leg press 1x10@90lbs, 1x15@110lbs
4. torso twist 2x12x90lbs each side
5. 10mins rowing @ 70cals
6. 25mins walk back
All that done by 1115am.

Once I was done with shower, fixed a salad for a light breakfast, looked out the window, and it’s raining! Wow, good thing I did what I did WHEN I did, otherwise I’d be going stir crazy already :p

What I’ve got planned for the rest of the day? Finish off Knife of Dreams so I can return it to the library… it *is* overdue by about a week… and I *should* have it finished today… It’s only like 10 cents a day, so the cost is not an issue: it’s the guilt at delaying another Robert Jordan fan form his/her opportunity to sink their teeth into the best book RJ’s published in years!! I’m now at page 633 and Perrin’s rescue of Faile is starting. Of course, it happens to be the same day Faile decides to escape by her own means. Ta’vernen? Probably :p

So, off I go… may blog again later, otherwise, check back tomorrow, k? I certainly have a little bit to say about Halloween, so stay tuned :D

Btw : back to using OLD Mac on dial-up connection. Boohooohooo!! Took a few tires before I could get a connection, then to get into blogger to post this!! Aarrrgggghhh!

Friday, October 28, 2005

getting back on track in the u.s. and other ramblings

Ugh. I'm out of practice wrt tips!
Had a breakfast-cum-lunch all by my lonesome, the bill came up to about USD6.50. For some reason I thought 20% = 65cents, so I gave a 1 dollar tip. Only while walking back did I realise that I shoulda given at least 1.30, probably would have rounded it up to 1.50. No, I didn't turn back. Too bad lah. After all it's just a few cents. But imagine if I'd made this mistake for a much larger total?! Ugh. I really don't like the whole tips thing, but well, it's part of the American thing I guess... will have to try to remember for the next time I pick up the tab at a service restaurant :p
On to other news... More Swiss-related thoughts:

1. I had images & memories of my late grandfather come to me unbidden at odd times during the 5 days I was at my g'mas's place last week. He passed away in 1998; I last saw him in 1995 when I dropped by after graduating. I was back in switzerland in the year 2000, but didn't actually stay at the house on the hill. Plus I was on holiday with someone who had never been to switzerland, and kinda lost language-wise, so it's not like I had time to myself for thoughts. :p And in 2003 stayed just one day there, with parents. Not conducive to flows of memories :p

2. Portrait of G'ma # 5 (missed out #1-4? Click HERE)
G'ma is reading an article about persecution of Christian Chinese in China.
She then says "China is such an immense country. Switzerland is so small compared to China. Do you know how many inhabitants it has?"
Mom has no idea, and guesses "800 million."
G'ma thinks about it for a while. Then asks "Do you think they all wear/have wristwatches?"
No idea where that came from!

3. I'm so used to having to mentally "switch" the direction I expect traffic to come from after a trip, cos usually it's a Malaysia <-> U.S. or Malaysia <-> Switzerland trip. Switzerland and the U.S. have traffic driving on the right (not necessarily correct! teehee!) side of the road; while Malaysia on the left, one of those remnants of british colonisation. Anyhoo. So for some weird reason, I was constantly confused over the last two weeks, not quite knowing in which direction to expect traffic to come from. So crossing the road involved much more left-right-left turns of the head than I already do. Weird :p

4. What's in a name?
Before boarding the plane at ZRH, all passengers were again subject to standard questions about who packed the carry-on luggage and whether it had been out of your sight/possession at any time. The person I had ask the questions was someone I'd noticed from earlier, because he looked like a typical Malaysian, perhaps a Sarawakian. But his name was a typical german/Swiss name of something like Hans Zimmerman! It was such an unlikely combination that I kept looking at his nametag instead of at him when answering his questions. It occurred to me later that he may have been among the many Vietnamese refugees adopted by Swiss families. Really not a big deal, but it was really weird to see such a typical german name attached to someone obviously Asian.

On a related topic: I think I was told that in Iceland, those tho emigrate there and/or get citizenship, are required change their names to typical Icelandic names. You know, like Gunnar Ericsson, or Gunnhild Ericsdottir. Imagine that attached to someone who obviously is not Scandinavian.

Similarly, in an attempt to enforce homogeneity in a multicultural, multiracial and multireligious society, Indonesians all have "typical Indonesian names." The most obvious effect of this ruling is seeing someone who is obviously Chinese with a name like, ugh, I can't dig those names out of my memory... nvm just take my word for it :p (I *did* find a page someone was trying to compile Indonesian names, if you're interested, see HERE)

I *am* on a rambling roll, aren't I? :p

... and here's more ramblage:

5. Did you hear about births to unmarried U.S. women have set a record? I won't shove the statistics down your throat, the article does enough of that :p What struck me is that births to older single women (ages 35 - 49) have continued to increase over the years.

Perhaps this reflects choices these women are making in terms of perhaps their career, and, more importantly, their independence. Choices they are now able to make. I think the stigma (and burden?) of being an unmarried mother is less potent (for lack of ideas for another word) when you're a successful business executive, let's say, than when you drop out of school / college and interrupt your education in order to have a child. And are then limited in your "career" options because you need to take care of the kid. As opposed to the people who are 35+, who probably have already carved a niche for themselves in their workplace, and can probably get more flexibility to handle raising a child. And can afford it too.

My mind jumps to these "late births" - in general, not specifically for the older single mothers... For my generation, I think our parents had us in their mid-20's (which was already "late" compared to the previous generation who got married & had kids in their late teens / early 20's). So when we finished college and joined the workforce, we were about 23 y.o. and they were 45-ish. But soon, those who have kids when they're 40-ish will see their kids enter the workforce when they (the parent[s]) are over 60y.o. And if the same trend continues, these same parents may be 80y.o. before starting to get any grandkids.

If they last that long.

I mean,,, life expectancy may have improved over the past few decades as we make advances in the treatment (and in certain cases, eradication) of things like polio, smallpox... then now we have to deal with more "modern" diseases like adult onset diabetes, cancer, cancer, cancer and did I mention cancer?

Where am I going with this? I dunno... I think i've rambled myself out of words :p

Be back later. Maybe.


Guess who's back, back again?

No, not "Uncle Em",,, the "opposite" actually,,, ME! :D

Oh boy what a trip.

Maybe it was just because it was Switzerland, and they take things really seriously? Or because it WAS an American Airlines flight? Or just because it was a U.S.-bound flight? But my oh my, before being able to check-in, I was already interrogated by "security" and had to explain that I'm on an "extended vacation" in the u.s., that I visited my grandmother in switzerland, yes my grandmother is swiss, yes I have a return ticket to malaysia that's valid for another six months or so, no I didn't accept any wrapped packages from anyone, yes I packed it all myself, last night and early this morning, no I will not let my carry-on out of my sight.

First time ever: I had to get my carry-on weighed. Typical Swiss! LOL!

So, I'm all checked in by 830am. My flight's at 1020am. I slowly make my way to the terminal. My heart drops. Looks like a bit of fog out there (remember my time at LHR?). A bit later I look out the window again: Oh my.... it's all white outside! What is it about me and travelling and fog recently? I ask myself.

I then lose myself in my book: next thing I know they are starting boarding soon, and it looks bright and clear outside. Kewl! No delay :-)

At least this time I made sure I got an aisle seat. But my "special meal" was nowhere to be found. I will complain to American Airlines again. So far it's been great that they've not served hog meat, but I'd rather not risk it, y'know? Like there was once I flew Singapore Airlines, and they ran out of the chicken/beef dish and had only pork so I didn't eat. and this was a U.S.->singapore long-a** flight! :p

But I digress.

My neighbour was a pleasant man based in McKinney, TX, back from a business trip in Poland, and originally from Moline (one of the Quad Cities) Iowa. He also consumed a bit more alcohol than I would have expected (beer (chased with tomato juice?!); white wine with dinner, followed by a cognac later). Perhaps that's why he was quite friendly? :D It was funny, I was trying to make conversation cos he'd mentioned Dallas and Fort Worth as two separate entities, so I asked what the distance was between the two. About 30miles. And the airport is right in the middle. Then i got an informative lecture about the towns in the area, how the population has just exploded (tripled in less than 10 years), how Plano is kinda like THE place to live (Troy Aikman is there) ... all sorts of stuff... It was entertaining, for a while lah :)

Also amusing to see quite a few cowpokes in the flight. Not really lah, but got lah a handful of caucasian males with cowboy hats on. In the plane. I was amused.

once my neighbour went to sleep, I devoured my other book.

As seems to be the case for my last few travels, I was unable to sleep.

Oh, and due to "unusually favourable winds" we got in almost one hour EARLY to DFW.

Yay? I already *had* a long wait to my connecting flight, add an hour to that?? *sigh!* I was half regretting not having to hang around the baggage carousel, just to kill time waiting for luggage, y'know? I half welcomed the check of my bags at customs. I had declared cheese & choc & wine, and they wanted to see it. I think they also made copies of my passport or something. Also took down Kosh's name & birthdate, maybe they wanted to check if I was fabricating the whole fiance thing? I don't wanna know. I got thru, that's all that matters :)

Then, I had so much time to waste.

DFW - Dumb f*ck Dubya?
I was done with customs & immigration at 215pm. My next flight was scheduled for a 733pm departure. about 5 hours to kill. Fun.

Explored a little bit of the airport - I remember it as having two horseshoe-shaped terminals (from over 10 years ago lah). Now it's got FIVE of those. And they've got a "sky link" you can hop on to get from one terminal to another. Kinda cool.

Walked around a bit. Got to "my" terminal. Hung around. Walked around. Played tetris and solitaire on my phone. Read book. Walked around. Hung around. You get the idea.

One thing that struck me: one of the "proudly Texas" themed stores had teeshirts for sale that read "Texas: Bush Country. "W" stands for winner". u sure not weiner? :p


Then i find out the flight's DELAYED. aarrrgggghhhh!

Plane finally arrives. Pasengers disembark. "Routine maintenance" takes longer than expected, not nothing to worry about, says the captain. Finally get to board the plane.

I was expecting to be asked to check my carry-on mini suitcase thingy planeside. Noone said anything. So I brought it into the plane. Air stewardess took one look, and instead of asking me to check it planeside, she said to try and see it it fit in the overhead bin or the under the seat in front of me, otherwise bring it back up to the front *fast*.

Hmph. I was assigned a seat in the 3rd last row. By the time I got there, tried stuffing the thing unsuccessfully in either locations, looked back twds the front of the plane and saw the way full of people.

Couldn't stuff it under the seat in front of me cos I was sitting in the single window/aisle seat. So I slip it under the neighbouring 2-seat next to me instead. Good thing the fellow who ended up sitting there was gracious enough to accomodate my imposition. And that the flight, while pretty full, was not FULL full, so I could get away with it.

Finally got outta there about 40mins late. Arrived at Cedar Rapids around 1005pm. Ugh. Can we say "braindead"??

Had McD for quick easy dinner (what better way to mark my return to the u.s.? LMAO!), then passed out.

The morning after...
Drove kosh to work so he wouldn't have to go thru the hassle of driving to a parking lot & taking a bus in to the hospital.

Thot I'd pass out again once I got back, but decided to get online for a bit.

Since I'm pretty much on my own till this evening, when he's done with work and we pack to head to the folks' (2 hours away) tonight, then from there to Urbana tomorrow, I'm gonna go find some food in a bit, maybe bring the book along too so I can finish & return it once we arrive in Urbana! Only 300 pages to go :D

Yeah. braindeadness coming back. Time for some zzzzz's I think.


Thursday, October 27, 2005

... found while surfing ...

FOUND: AWESOME photos of Tornados and other Extreme Weather Phenomena, from Kirby's blog

FOUND: the "worth" of my blog (at 00:45hrs Swiss time)! So cheap, mah?
(tip o the hat to: Incurable Insomniac)

My blog is worth $7,339.02.
How much is your blog worth?


okay, by the time I post this, then shut down the PC, brush teeth, wash face, change into sleep clothes and get into bed, it will be past 130am. Have alarm set for just before 6am. Wake, shower, dress up, final packing, then off to the busstop latest by 715am, to catch the 7:40am bus, that will bring me to the airport at 8am. Then check in, by which I mean get my boarding pass. I am not checking in any luggage! Ah, the freedom of not having to wait at the baggage carousels! Then hang around the airport till my 1020am flight. So so so so so looking forward to getting back to the u.s.!!

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

pieces of ...

Just found this site by Serge Izoard, thanx to Little Neo, which I thought I'd highlight.

I always have my ex-colleagues in mind... things to keep them "occupied" at their desks when they are essentially not having anything to do...

This one is for the jigsaw puzzle enthusiast in you :-)

Click HERE to get to the page.

Yes, it's in french, but it's easily navigable :)

On the top you can scroll left/right to select the picture for your puzzle.
On the left, where you should see the number 30, is a drop down menu for you to choose the number of pieces for the puzzle, ranging from 6 to 100!

The owl with 30pcs is fun.
Haven't tried the others yet.
I'm not THAT much a jigsaw puzzle fan :p
But I like it enough to pass this link along.
So go check it out, k?

Enjoy, people!

Catching up : October 22nd - 26th 2005

Saturday 22nd October 2005

Train to Bnn.
G picks us up.
Drive to Dss, which is on the plateau of a mountain overlooking Lake Bienne, or is it Lake Neuchatel?

Meet up with other cousin, Jim, who is also waaaaaaaaaaay taller than I am. Geeez I remember babysitting him and Grant. Again. I feel short and old.

I get a pleasant surprise, as I had indicated earlier that I would like to get a few bottles of regional Swiss wine back to the U.S. : turns out not only is Uncle Marty a wine enthusiast, he is also involved in some major purchase & redistribution of wines in relation to his job. I ended up doing a pseudo sampling, and chose a really good white (Pinos Gris - has never heard of it till now) for myself.

A quick check online showed that only ONE LITER of alcoholic beverages are allowed customs-free. Ugh. That translates to 2 bottles totalling 1.5L. Okay, I suppose I need just one more bottle, make it a bottle of red. For that, he chose a Chianti, I think. Not of the immediate region, but Swiss nonetheless. And they were gifts for me. Kewl.

Had an autumn lunch of game (roe deer and stag meat), along with the swiss "pasta" spetzli. delicious!

A bit later, we went out for a drive - the weather was kinda iccky, raining on & off, but it had started to clear up. Drove in between the lakes of the region, then on to an old town of Morat / Muerten. Here, my mother almost broke many bones in her body.

We were walking around, looking at some of the shops and stuff, and for some reason my mom and Marty wanted to go in this modern-looking furniture store. Maybe to get ideas to furnish the new apartment my parents are gonna be moving into (in PJ). It's an old building, renovated, with unexpected corridors (we would not have found the stairs to the 3rd floor if the owner hadn't pointed the way!). And up there was an admittedly awkward doorway of sorts. Bottomline: mom was too busy looking up left right wherever that she tripped over the step, then tripped again as she tried to right herself, with the end result of her tumbling fown sprawled on the floor. I go to her to see if she is okay, but seem to be ignored. Okay, no problem. I was faking it anyway.

So she kinda lies there for a bit, catching her breath, getting over the shock. She responds to my aunt and uncle. Fine by me. She says the pain's receeded, is helped up, and declares no broken bones. She limps on down, and we walk slowly to a cafe so she can rest her feet over some tea. I take great care in pointing out uneven steps on the way (it *was* a cobblestoned street, so my sarcasm was slightly covered), and I have visions of her tripping and falling, this time onto a passing car, because she STILL doesn't seem to be looking where she is walking!

We get back to Dss & have a light supper, and my crankiness shines through. I get very defensive when asked about my eating habits back in the states : bloody hell, why on earth do you ask what I have for breakfast there? I get defensive because I interpret it Marty looking for an indirect explanation for my weight gain. Really, why else ask such questions? So, yeah, I'm cranky at the table. I feel rather ashamed inside, but on the surface I put on my impassive face. I invite no questions. I am even MORE sarcastic than ever with my mom too, who got it into her head to make assumptions about my eating preferences and declaring it loudly at the table.

Yep, high time to get outta there, and away from her.

Marty and Dinny drive us back to Tln. Me & Marty walk up first, Dinny accompanies my limping mom. Up the hill. Up the stairs to the door. Which is locked.

Why my grandma decided to lock the door, that night of all nights, is beyond me.

My mom only has the key that opens the front door downstairs.

Remember that my g'ma is essentially deaf. Totally no way to wake her up even if we made a huge amount of noise on the door.

My cousin Nate who lives downstairs was not back yet from this Harvest Festival thingy they were having in the village.

I'm thinking great, what are we going to do, drive all teh way back to Dss, crash at the house, then try to get back when g'ma is awake??

Turns out there was a simpler solution: The neighbour across the hall has a copy of the key, for emergencies. And he tends to stayup late watching tv.

Dinny knocks on his door. We all hold our breath.

He opens the door & peers out curiously. Whooohoooo we are saved!!

Mother roots around the medicine cabinet for bandages, and I wrap both her feet tightly. One is particularly swollen. Fun.

Sunday 23rd October 2005.

Sunday is the day of rest.
Nothing is open. By law!
The weather is also extremely iccky : drizzly rainy iccky.

I catch up on reading.
I get a bit stir-crazy.

The rains looked to have stopped: I go out on the pretext of buying some pastries for supper, from the ONLY shop that is exempt from the nothing open on Sunday law: the little 7-11 equivalent at the railway station.

I head there, with umbrella reluctantly on hand in case the weather takes a turn for the worst.
it actually seems to be clearing up; by the time I get to the station, i decide that after buying the stuff, I'll take the long way home via the fields behind the cemetary.

When I get out of the building, it's raining. Yep, raining. great.

So up goes the umbrella, and onwards, towards the house on the hill, I trudge.

I dunno what I did to keep me occupied the rest of the time. I couldn't really concentrate on the book. And by this time, I had introduced my mom to Sudoku (I figured if she was going to be houseboud for a while she might as well have a variety of things to occupy her time), so I couldn't like bury myself in THAT and finish off twenty of those puzzles in one sitting. In the end, I think mom had brought out her laptop and asked me for help on a presentation she's working on in Power Point. Ah, yes, once she was kinda done for the day, I took over the laptop, and played minesweeper (just. didn't. quite. manage. to finish. the expert level. grrr!) over and over and over, then switched to Spider Solitaire. Oh man has it been a while since I last played either game!!

And yes, I suppose you might say that minesweeper and spider solitaire were the highlight of that Sunday. Sad, eh?

Monday, 24th October 2005.
Woke from my first good night's sleep since getting here! Maybe it was knowing I was leaving to head back to Zurich?
Managed to pack the wine and other stuff into my teeny suitcase.

Said my goodbyes, wondering if it was gong to be my last sight of my g'ma on this side on the veil.

Mom walked with me, or rather, behind me (I was walking so fast! I suppose the joy filled me with lots of bouncy energy?) to the station. Said my goodbyes. Got on the train. Wave as the train leaves the station. Then get out my phone and text a happy happy joy joy message :D

I spend the afternoon in Bnn, just walking around, not looking for anything in particular and therefore not really finding anything. That's when I found the deathmaiden book, btw. Which i then start to read while on the train back to Zurich.

Once I arrive at my bro's apartment I dump the bags then head back to the train station area to go check out the Migros and Coop (the two main supermarkets in Switzerland, found in almost every village and town). I find one of the things I'm looking for: instant flavoured cappucino by Nescafe. and a small slice of cheese. Okay back to the apartment. Start hanging out online, till he gets back. dinner. hang out online even more. 5 days worth of emails (not THAT many lah, but still...) to catch up on. Stuff to get off my chest. And just glory in being back in fron tof a PC.

Sad, eh?

What was cool was I was up so late that I actually managed to catch Kosh for a chat on YahooMessenger. Bonus!

Tuesday 25th October 2005.
Spend most of the day walking Zurich, looking for some souvenirs and perhaps some advance presents for the holiday season. Nothing too spectacular, plus I'm not sure of the tastes of the people I'm potentially buying for, so in the end I don't have too much with me when I get back that evening.

Supposed to go chocolate shopping with my bro, but he's delayed at work till really late. No prob with me, I goof around online, and figure can hit zurich again tomorrow, or just check out the shopping center I'd explored my first day here, fr the chocs.

Wednesday 26th October 2005.
Bro picks me up at lunchtime, and we do the chocolate shopping (plus misc other purchases).

Weather is great.

Unfortunately, my feet aren't. There's this one toe that sometimes get majorly blistered up: and it was again, from the walking in zurich. So bad that I had to go ahead and poke & drain the thing. Didn't think it would be too comfortable for the trip back! Yeah. So my last day in switzerland will have been spent again hanging around online.

To my credit, I haven't started playing any MonkeyRoyale league games yet. Yes, earlier today I logged in; yes, I checked out the rooms where some tournaments were either being held or going to be held. But I neither entered tourneys nor played a game. I'm proud of myself. :D For those who know of my "Monkey" phase from a few years ago, you'll know what an achievement it is for me to not be tempted... it's not time yet, somehow, i feel, for me to get back into that. Soon. Maybe in a year or so. :D

aaaanyways. so here I am... it's just about 8pm as I type this sentence. At least I've caught up with most of my trip. I'm pretty much packed, and will do the final touches early tomorrow. Br is getting me to the airport around 8am; my flight is at 1020am. If all goes well I should be in DFW at 230pm local time, then hang around till almost 7pm, get the DFW-CDI flight, arrive around 9? 930pm? don't remember anymore.

Looking fwd to getting back there, lemmie tell ya.

Funny thing; Kosh is more nervous about my being let into the country NOW than during my two other entries. While *i* am not worried now compared to before. After all, before I didn't really have good answers to give the immigration officer, but now I know what the both of us are planning and I can confidently tell the officer that they don't have to worry about me overstaying or whatever.


I think I've blogged myself out for the moment.

humming to self: I'm leeeeeeeeving, on a jet plane.....


Catching breath: pause from updates with a joke or more

Just got this in the mail. Feel the need to pass it on, wonder why... :
Donald Rumsfeld is giving the president his daily briefing. He concludes by saying: "Yesterday, 3 Brazilian soldiers were killed."

"OH NO!" the president exclaims. "That's terrible!" His staff sits stunned at this display of emotion, nervously watching as the president sits, head in hands.

Finally, the president looks up and asks, "How many is a brazillion?"

(UPDATE @ 22:30hrs - found another good GWB joke on Sunshine's blog, reproduced here, with thanx to Sunshine)
Important Decision...

This test only has one question, but it's a very important one. By giving an honest answer, you will discover where you stand morally. The test features an unlikely, completely fictional situation in which you will have to make a decision.
You are in Florida, Miami to be specific. There is chaos all around you caused by a hurricane with severe flooding. This is a flood of biblical proportions. You are a photojournalist working for a major newspaper, and you're caught in the middle of this epic disaster.
The situation is nearly hopeless. You're trying to shoot career-making photos. There are houses and people swirling around you, some disappearing under the water.
Nature is unleashing all of its destructive fury.
Suddenly you see a man in the water. He is fighting for his life, trying not to be taken down with the debris. You move closer. Somehow the man looks familiar. You suddenly realize who it is. It's George W. Bush!
At the same time you notice that the raging waters are about to take him under forever. You have two options--you can save the life of George W. Bush, or you; can shoot a dramatic Pulitzer Prize-winning photo, documenting the death of one of the world's most powerful politicians.
Here's the question, and please give an honest answer:


Would you select high contrast color film, or would you go with the classic simplicity of black and white?

And here are some tales from travel agents who deal with people the people elected. A bit scary, when you think about it (which is AFTER you are laughing your head off, lah!):)
A senior Vermont Congressman called, furious about a Florida package we did. I asked what was wrong with the vacation in Orlando. He said he was expecting an ocean-view room. I tried to explain that is not possible, since Orlando is in the middle of the state. He replied, "Don't lie to me. I looked on the map, and Florida is a very thin state!"


I got a call from a lawmaker's wife who asked, "Is it possible to see England from Canada?"
I said, "No." She said, "But they look so close on the map."


An Illinois Congresswoman called last week. She needed to know how it was possible that her flight from Detroit left at 8:20 a.m. and got into Chicago at 8:33 am. . I tried to explain that Michigan was an hour ahead of Illinois, but she could not understand the concept of time zones. Finally, I told her the plane went very fast, and she bought that!


A New York lawmaker called and asked, "Do airlines put your physical description on luggage tags? I said, "No, why do you ask?" She replied, "Well, when I checked in with the airline, they put a tag on my luggage that said (FAT), and I'm overweight. I think that is very rude?" After putting her on hold for a minute while I 'looked into it' (I was actually laughing) I came back and explained the city code for Fresno, CA is (FAT), and that the airline was just putting a destination tag on her luggage.


A Senator's aide called to inquire about a trip package to Hawaii.
After going over all the cost info, she asked, "Would it be cheaper to fly to California and then take the train to Hawaii?"


I just got off the phone with a freshman Congressman who asked, "How do I know which plane to get on?" I asked him what exactly he meant, to which he replied, "I was told my flight number is 823, but none of these darn planes have numbers on them."


A lady Senator called and said, "I need to fly to Pepsi-Cola, FL.
Do I have to get on one of those little computer planes?" I asked if she meant fly to Pensacola, FL on a commuter plane. She said, "Yeah, whatever!"


A senior Senator called and had a question about the documents he needed in order to fly to China. After a lengthy discussion about passports, I reminded him that he needed a visa. "Oh, no I don't.
I've been to China many times and never had to have one of those." I double checked and sure enough, his stay required a visa. When I told him this he said, "Look, I've been to China four times and every time they have accepted my American Express!"


A New Mexico Congresswoman called to make reservations, "I want to go from Chicago to Rhino, New York." The agent was at a loss for words Finally, the agent said, "Are you sure that's the name of the town?"
"Yes, what flights do you have?" replied the lady.

After some searching, the agent came back with, "I'm sorry, ma'am, I've looked up every airport code in the country and can't find a Rhino anywhere." The lady retorted, "Oh, don't be silly! Everyone knows where it is Check your map!" The agent scoured a map of the state of New York and finally offered, "You don't mean Buffalo, do you?" "That's it! I knew it was a big animal," she said.

I've had "conversations" with Kosh, in September probably, when we were driving around Indiana and Ohio, with me kinda in charge of maps, where he'd ask something like How far away is XXX from YYY? I'd painstakingly consult the map, then with a cheeky grin reply Oh, about 2 cm. Would drive him mad :p

Catching up : October 21st 2005

Friday 21st October

I think today was the day a lady came to help clean my g'ma. Part of the things that have been arranged, that my mom will watch/assess, in relation to making a decision whether to send my g'ma to a home or if she can still manage on her own.

Nothing else remotely exciting happens in the morning.

I am going out of my head in boredom.

Mother can't walk in her shoes due to those nasty blisters. Great, I'm more than happy to walk alone, anyway. So I go for a quick walk - about an hour total. Would have been longer, but the path i wanted to take today would have involved crossing a herd of cows. Didn't feel like walking among them, just in case they got cranky for some reason. Nor did I want to have to step gingerly over the droppings they were sure to have left all over the path.

I get back, and mom seems somehow surprised that I am back "so fast." I wonder what she is insinuating. I never gave any indication of how long *i* expected to be. What's her deal?

Later, I'm at the living room table hunched over my book. G'ma asks me if I'm pregnant.

Yes, you read that right.

Cheque please!
I'm ready to head back to the U.S. now.

I am still reeling from this, even now. Not even going to start on who does she think she is, who does she think I am, etc etc etc...

Anyways, after I look at her like she is crazy, and snap, no, spit, a "No" at her, my mom whispers something like well, you *have* [blows out cheeks, and bends both elbows out a bit, to indicate fat / weight gain / chubbyness] since she last saw you.

My mood turns even blacker. Partly because that is the first (and only) time my mother has made any reference to my weight/size since I got here. And because she can't even SAY it, but makes the actions instead. And because I realise that, unlike any other pseudo-stupid-conversations started by a stupid question by my g'ma, my mother, who had to translate the question for me in the first place, did not butt in with an "Of course not," or equivalent, which she would have done in any other circumstance, for any other topic.


I want out.

To top it off: later in the evening, when Dinny (her sister, my aunt, remember?) calls to confirm arrangements cos we are heading to visit her & family for the day, mom didn't have to say anything about what transpires, right? Ah, but she did. So the tale passes on to my aunt. And they proceed to have a whole conversation about me. I hear my mother's side of the conversation, but it's enough to put my blood at a high boil. Yeah she's really bloated. What do you expect, she's not doing any activities. i don't know how she can stand it. I hope she'll snap out of it soon. On and on and on and on. All this, knowing that I can understand every word she says.

Ah well, you ask for it, you get it. I school my face into impassiveness. I know that from now on, conversations with me will be hell for one and all. My responses believe will be sharp, curt, sarcastic, everything. You want to be a vampire, fine. I'll respond with energy-drainage of my own.

Behind the blank and impassive facade, I was crying tears of anger and frustration. Went to the room and text'ed Kosh like 5 messages in a row describing what had happened and how shitty I felt and how angry I was and how I knew if anyone was to raise anything about my weight I was *so* going to blow up and turn the air blue all around.

Went to the bathroom to wash tears off my face, under the guise of getting ready for bed: wash face, brush teeth, etc. Then I buried myself in my book. Even if I kept reading the same page over and over while my thoughts churned and my blood boiled. And my tears threatened to fall.

And dreading the visit D & family the next day: I wouldn't put it past her hubby Marty to make just the wrong kind of comments that would set me off.

I think this was the night I slept at 1130pm, woke up at 130am, then stayed awake until finally dozing off at 730am, waking again at 930am because I needed to get ready to go out and catch the train. My eyes were still burning from unshed tears. Fun.

Catching up : October 19 - 20 2005

Last Wednesday, 19th October

Zurich - Bnn
: met up with mom a little past noon, accompanied her while she ran some errands. then visited my only surviving grand-aunt. mom hadn't told her I was going to be there too. Surpriiiiiiiiiise! And she was so glad to see me, that she called her daughter (Lucy) and her daughter (Fran).

Fran dropped everything to come and say hello!

But gotta take note that this was my first day, heck first HOUR of French immersion, and the layer of rust on my speaking abilities was majorly thick! While the excitement and enthusiasm of these relatives was endearing, it was also kinda overwhelming, and I was not able to really interact properly with them :(

My grandaunt furtively presents me with a bar of chocolate, and presses two CHF 5 coins into my hand. I can't do much except thank her. I don't remember to do the cheek-kiss thingy tho. For hello's and goodbye's sure, i remember, but for 'thanx', nope, didn't occur to me :p

So, fran drops everything to come say Hi... and I don't recognise the young adult who walked in the door... well, it HAD been 15years or so since we last met... she was this little girl, with a long ponytail, whom I remember having her sitting on my lap. She says she remembers me showing her how to make those friendship bracelets. OUCH! That REALLY drove home how long it had been... haven't made any of those in, well, I guess 14 years?!

We then visit Lucy and hubby, Fran's parents. They used to live in the apartment immediately across from my grand-aunt (as in, their doors faced each other across the landing!), but had since moved to a newly built apartment complax, about 3 mins walk away. fran pointed out HER apartment, which is essentially halfway between her paernts' and grandmother's. Yikes, I dunno if I'd want to be living so close to such immediate family members!

Bnn - Tln
Take the train to Tln, which involves changing trains TWICE in the 45min journey. Ugh. Everything was on time tho - as expected. It really *is* a rare occasion that the trains run late here.

I drag my little pseudo-suitcase all the way from the Tln station to the house on the hill (bless the person who designed bags with wheels!). Oh yeah, mom hadn't told g'ma about my visit either.


I suppose there was a "good" reason lah this time: otherwise, the whole day my g'ma would be worrying and fussing about where I would sleep maaaah. Sure enough, after the initial shock and joy at seeing me, she goes But, where is she going to sleep? She then offers me "grandad's bed" : yep, ever since 1998, she's kept his side of the bed made, with sheets, blankets, pillowcases and all: a bit morbid, don't u think? Anyway, no way am I going to share a bed with my g'ma NOR "take the place" of my grandad! So we drag a spare mattress from downstairs, hunt down sheet/ blanket/ pillow/ pillowcase/ duvet, and within 30mins I'm all set up on the floor of the room my mom is using. Half an hour later, my g'ma asks But, where *is* she going to sleep?, and my mom replies It's all set up already; g'ma seems amazed.

Supper at 6pm-ish. G'ma goes to be by 8pm. I'm already bored. Good thing I have a book AND the book of sudoku puzzles to keep me occupied.

Thursday, 20th October
Me & Mom go for walk in the forest. Had planned to walk up the mountain to a restaurant for lunch, but there was a sign at the end of the village saying the owners were on vacation. So we walked up to the treeline, and cut across the forest instead. The floor was covered in a lush layer of fallen leaves. When the wind blew, more leaves would fall - kinda like yellow rain, but in a good way :) Dropped by the cemetary to see where my grandfather, plus two recently-departed grand-uncles, were buried. That was actually the first time I knew where the cemetary was :p Had lunch in a nearby training institue, then did another walk thru the forest to get back. Spent almost 3 hours in total, so about 2 hrs for the walk itself.

By that time, mom could hardly walk, since her new shoes (bought in Bnn the day before) were totally chafing at the back of her feet.

Around 3pm, my mom's sister, my aunt, Dinny drops by (prearranged, no worries) with her son, my cousin, Grant. I used to babysit him, but now, he's so TALL (I think he's still grown from 2 years ago). I feel ever more so short. And old.

Dinny takes us (including other cousin Nate) to the only place in the Tnn area that boasts a view of the Alps. On a good day, lah. This day was not one of those days. Nice view, but no Alps. Oh well. So we had tea (not literally) in the farm/restaurant there.

I can make conversation now, but I don't really bother unless a question is directed at me. After all, what is there to say? I'm a jobless bum, I ain't got no job, I hang around all day watching tv, torturing a cat, trying to get into a healthy exercise routine.

but wait, I already don't want to go even THAT far with the information... yes, again, the stigma of "having gained weight" raises its ugly head. I just don't want to talk much about what I do, or don't do, because either way it will lead to me taking about how I want to lose weight, which would then "allow" the person to say wow actually you HAVE put on a lot of weight, no wonder what with you not doing anything at all. it would totally pave the path for my mom to try and sneak in comments about me wasting my life away or something. Better just not go there.

I digress.

So yeah, me not in the most talkative mood. No matter. The two cousins talk amongst themselves, the two sisters talk among themselves, and I enjoy my cup o' coffee.

Head back to the house, hang out a bit, D & G head back, giving N a ride to the station for his guitar lesson.

Supper. G'ma goes to bed. Mom goes to bed.

I am the only one up and about at 9pm.

This is going to be a long 5 days.

Currently reading...

1. Knife of Dreams : Book 11 of the Wheel of Time series, by Robert Jordan
FINALLY, after so long, not only is the book out, but the plot seems to be moving!

Yeah, Robert Jordan has been accussed of milking his fans for all they've got. I agree. The last 5 books or so of the series were really crap. How much of it was RJ being overambitious vs "wanting to drag it out"? I wonder. But whatever it is, this book is the best he's written in a long long long time!

I'm only about halfway through it. And it's already overdue (borrowed from library maaaah). Tried to renew it, but can't because it's already been requested by someone else (they probably have quite a long list of requests - sorry y'all, the tale is not enthralling enough that I'm devouring it 24/7! But i *will* try to have it done by the time I'm back in Urbana this weekend, ok? I'll even have it in my carry-on bag so I can read it while hanging around in DFW on Thursday!).

Without spoilers, lemmie just say it seems like there might be resolution (or at least LOTS of progress) in the sub-plots involving Mat &amp;amp;amp; Tuon; Perrin's rescue of Faile who is a prisoner of the Shaido, while she too is plotting her own escape; Egwene trying to establish herself as the true Amyrlin Seat. Rand himself? So far there's been one chapter about him, that's it. Hmmmph. And with that small metion was shared mentions of Logain and Mazrim Taim. May only resolve THAT storyline of males vying for dominance in the next book.

next book? Yeah. i have the impression that Book #12 will be the FINAL book. Excluding a few prequels lah. Yes, drag it out, RJ, drag it out....
2. Confessions of a Deathmaiden, by Ruth Francisco
Just as a midwife assists with the passage of a baby into the world of the living, deathmaidens assist with the passage into the next reality.

I was intrigued by this concept, and the plot on the back cover didn't seem half bad.

Turns out this is the debut novel of Ms Francisco: and it shows. Oh, don't get me wrong, it's definitely readable, but, well, I think she needs some polishing and tightening up in terms of style and plotlines respectively. The choice of very short chapters, a simple first-person narration, and lots of flashbacks to fill in on the past of the main character, all combine to give the book a unique flavour.

Am only halfway thru this one too (yes, reading two books at once...), hopefully it doesn't fade away the closer i get to the end!
And coming soon: November 8th: George R R Martin's A Feast for Crows. If you were thinking of getting down and dirty and sink your teeth into a good fantasy series, pick this one. Of course, it ain't over yet. Still another three to go (I think it's a 7-book plan). Hopefully he doesn't go the way of RJ the milker lah :p I'm really looking forward to this book.

Another one I keep forgetting to place a request for: Neil Gaiman's Anansi Boys. It's not so much a sequel to American Gods (which you MUST read, btw!) as perhaps a spin-off: from what I understand, it's about the sons Mr Nancy, one of the gods Shadow meets in American Gods.

Yeah, that's about it, book-wise. Should keep me occupied for a little bit :)

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

welcome to the blogging world, Scott!

in case you didn't already know, Scott Adams, the creator of the Dilbert comic strip, has started a blog. Check it out HERE (

urgent for u.s. drivers licence holders!

tip o the hat to: shanna; who saw the most disturbing thing while surfing. There is a website out there where supposedly every Driver's License in the U.S. is available for everybody else to see. That means strangers can get your address, license number and picture.

Kosh: I went to this site & entered your information. It's TRUE!

There is a box at the bottom that you can check to have your license removed. Then, only police officers will have access to it.

So why don't you go check it out, literally? Click HERE to be get there.

Ugh! tried to leave a comment on shanna's site, but for some reason that word verification thingy just didn't seem to like me! gave up. So, shanna, if you ever drop by to check out who linked ya and reproduced your blog article - it was me!

Swiss Snippets: portraits of my grandmaman

Portrait #1:
G'ma: What's that you're doing?
Mom (painstakingly doing a Sudoku puzzle): it's like a crossword puzzle, but with numbers.
G'ma: Oh. (Pause). Is it in English?

Portrait #2:
Mom (shouting to my cousin downstairs): We're going to have supper, do you want to eat?
G'ma (sitting a few feet away from Mom): Eat? Oh no (in incredulous tone). You know I just ate half an hour ago, why would I want to eat again now?

Portrait #3:
G'ma: Have I taken my pills yet?
Mom: yes you have.
(they spend a few minutes in the kitchen, looking at the one-week pill box thingy, helping her see that she *has* indeed taken her pills to date)
G'ma (Half an hour later): I don't think I've taken my pills yet.. have I taken my pills?
(This happened like FIVE times in 12 hours...)
A few days after her 92nd birthday, my grandmother was rushed to hospital due to breathing difficulties, and was warded in the ICU. For a while, it seemed like her time had come. Then she got better, and was moved to a long-term-stay thingy within the hospital. The doctors didn't want to discharge her, or rather, they wanted to discharge her into an old folks home, because they said she wouldn't be able to look after herself properly alone. She refused to be in such a home. As far as I knew, they were at an impasse.

Then about two weeks ago my mom says that my g'ma is being discharged, so she (mom) is going to be with her for about a month. Based on the information above, i assumed g'ma was going to be in a home, and that my mom was going to be commuting or whatever, wherever that home was. Turns out she was in THE home. As in, HER home. As in, my g'ma was discharged because my mom was coming. Huh. Roundabout logic.

So my mom's duty while in switzerland is to kinda assess if my g'ma can indeed fend for herself, alone in that big house on the top of a hill, with fading eyesight, with almost no hearing ability despite her hearing aid, tottering around with the aid of a cane, with her mind that is nowhere near as sharp as it used to be...


I feel my grandma is REALLY fading, but at the same time she is amazingly (and stubbornly) independant, so I really don't know if on my next trip to switzerland she'll be dead in the ground, alive but in a home, or alive and still at the house on top of the hill.

Frankly, I'll be happy for her if it's #1: after all, she's lived 92 years, buried her husband about 7 years ago, and has said goodbye to all her five (younger!) brothers (two of whom passed away within months of each other around this time last year). Her only surviving sibling is the only other female, who happens to be the youngest of the lot (i suppose this just underscores the fact that Swiss women are particularly long-lived?).

Two years ago, we had a big hoo-hah for her 90th birthday. Earlier last week, someone mentioned organising something for her 100th. Her reaction: aghast! Oh my, I sure hope I don't make it! In fact, sometimes, she just mutters to herself Oh, I wish I could just depart now. I'm so tired of living.

Don't get me wrong, she's not suicidal. In fact, she's about as pious as they come. She's just tired. It must be totally frustrating to be almost blind and deaf, and to not be able to interact in a fulfilling manner with anyone.

My (then) office colleagues were impressed when, 2 years ago, I essentially boasted that despite her age, my g'ma was still very mentally active, doing her daily crossword puzzles without fail. Now, her eyesight prevents her from doing that. But even if her eyesight wasn't so bad, i wonder if she *could* do her puzzles... she seems... easily confused... less sharp than before.

Then again... Portrait #4:
Sunday's lunch involved a creamy mushroom sauce poured onto & into a puff pastry. There were 8 pastries. G'ma had had one. She then left the table, while the rest of us continued with our meal.

A few hours later:

G'ma: Did you finish the puff pastries?
Mom: Yes, all gone.

(Pause. Mom whispers to me: she's going to ask about the one extra pastry, I'm sure! You could see g'ma was thinking hard, wondering how 3 people would have consumed 7 pastries)

G'ma: Who had three pastries?
Me: No-one.
G'ma: But someone MUST have had three, there was one extra!
Me: No-one had three, but two had 2.5 each.
G'ma: Ah (satisfied).
Yep, she still *has* her mental faculties.. just maybe not 100% of the time anymore...

And she's still the petty narrow-minded one-track-minded person from before.
I mean, this is the person who, when I was much younger, thought that if i were to consume pork, I could no longer be a Muslim, so when me & my brother stayed with my Swiss grandparents for a few months, she would not actually feed us pig products since she had been warned against that, but she *did* cook our beef/veal sausages together with the pork sausages. Yum. For those who wondered why I am very "liberal" when it comes to pig products and exposure thereto, well, now u know.

Then there was the time, a few years later. Yet another visit to switzerland. My parents, maybe even my brother, were out, and for some reason I didn't go with them. My g'ma furtively hands me some book entitled Injil Bahasa Indonesia, and points out some passages or chapters that she thinks are the ones she likes, and asks me to read. I do so, since at that time I had no idea what "injil" was. Didn't understand a word. Indonesian *is* different enough from Malay, for sure. But I figured out what it was she was asking me to read. Told mom when they came back. I think my g'ma got an earful :p But what was amazing, was that my g'ma had gone thru all that trouble of somehow sourcing a bible in Indonesian, in the hopes that I could read and understand the Word of God and hallelujah I'd be saved!

But not saved by / converted to just any form of Christianity, however. Protestant. To her, them Catholics are as non-Christian as Muslims and any other religion.


A recent "conversation": Out of the blue, she asks me something about Jews in the U.S. I just smile vaguely, nod, roll eyes, and try to concentrate on my book. She then talks to herself, but loudly, so you know she means to be heard. And what does she say? "Yeah, the Jews. They are still waiting for the Messiah. Little do they know He already came. And they crucified Him." Sigh. All i can do is just ignore her mutterings even more, and concentrate real hard on the page which I've probably read three times but still didn't get anything out of it :p

And another out of the blue thing: she asks "Don't you want to embrace Jesus as your Saviour?" A few days later, she says worriedly to my mom "Say, I asked *lynne* whether or not she wanted to embrace Jesus as her saviour, but she didn't reply. Why do you think she's silent about it?" I hear my mom growl in disgust, and also not answer.


After 33 years, you'd think my g'ma'd finally quit this whole attempt to "save" her two "heathen" grandchildren! ... then again, I guess she's thinking that after over 30 years maybe they'll finally crack! If nothing else, I suppose her persistence is to be applauded?
I've alluded to my cousin a few times: let's call him Nate. he's living in the "basement" of the house, and commutes to another town to attend college. This is a recent development (since maybe end August). He has a computer (of course! what student can live without one in this day and age?), and recently managed to get it hooked to the 'net. We were having a conversation about something related to that, when g'ma chimes in "I do wish you didn't have that computer in the house. I don't like it. It's diabolical, it is. Television and computers. Diabolical."

Yep, she's lived all her life without television. She has that trusty old radio, which she uses to listen to the news, and to religious broadcasts. That's it. Glad they *did* get a telephone - when you think about it, it's kind of a miracle that there *is* a phone line to that house, eh?

Yeah, running out of anecdotes and memories here....

bottomline: my g'ma is very much the product of her upbringing, of the very conservative mindset of the older European generation. The world has moved on, well beyond her comprehension. All she has ever known, and all she has now, is her religious belief and faith.

I trust that when her time comes, she will go peacefully to The Creator, who will welcome with open arms one of His most steadfast and faithful children.


Monday, October 24, 2005

hammer, nail, head : right on!

You Are Internal - Realist - Empowered

You feel your life is controlled internally.
If you want something, you make it happen.
You don't wait around for things to go your way.
You value your independence and don't like others to have control.

You are a realist when it comes to luck.
You don't attribute everything to luck, but you do know some things are random.
You don't beat yourself up when bad things happen to you...
But you do your best to try to make your own luck.

You have a good deal of power, but you also know the pecking order.
You realize that working the system does get you further.
You know who to defer to and who to control.
When it comes to the game of life, you play things flawlessly.

(tip o' the hat to: Samantha Burns)

no kidding - this really fits.

... one of those things ...

My fave beatle is Paul McCartney.

Paul, or Macca, has a new album out, and is currently touring the U.S.

On Thursday 27th October, he will be performing in Des Moines, Iowa.

Kosh is in Iowa City for his current ENT rotation.

Des Moines is 2 hours away from Iowa City.

Looks like tickets are still available.
(ranging from USD150 - USD432 on
(strangely enough, Ticketmaster doesn't have Des moines on its list of macca's venues)
So looks like I may actually be able to see my fave Beatle?


I'm arriving in the U.S. 9pm Thursday October 27th.

An hour after the concert starts.

Oh well...

Of course, I *could* try to change my flight to a day earlier... or at least 3 hours earlier out of DFW! I wonder about flight availability PLUS penalty for changing at such short notice... expedia, here I come....

but then, seeing as how kosh is being kept real bz there at Iowa City, no guarantees that he'd be free to leave by 6pm on Thursday at the latest to get us there on time anyway.

*scrunching up face* oh boy are these grapes sour!!

happy happy joy joy

survived 5 days' extensive exposure to mother and grandmother

will blog a proper article or three of the past few days

right now just wanna glory in the feel of being back in front of a PC again :D

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

swiss snippets

I seem to be waking up at 3am local time... at least the night before, I proceeded to fall back asleep and not emerge till 11am. today it was a different story... terkelip-kelip mata, still awake at 4.. 530.. by 7am it really was no use pretending anymore so I got on up...

... and got up to such a dreary day... if I hadn't already made plans to head to Bnn and onwards to Tln, I think I would have just stayed in ... looks like it's wanting to rain, but isn't. Gonna be a chilly icckky day. I'll spend a few hours of it in the train, so I suppose thats good, as in I'm not wasting a bright sunshine-y day riding in the trains, y'know?

but speaking about trains.. OMG but are they expensive!! It's gonna cost me 51CHF from here to Tln, and another 51CHf for my return trip. At least with my bro so close to the airport, my final trip from here to the airport next week will only be about CHF4. Tried looking for some special fares / passes, but I must be willing to spend money to save money (i.e. travel A LOT in order to get the pass to pay for itself) and I'm not about to (or be able to) do that within the 10-ish days that I am here. So I just gotta bear the cost of the tickets.. yay.

Oh, and I just realised that i forgot to bring my main credit card! bugger!!! There goes the little cash I have!! aaarrrghhh!!

Geeeeez... and this day is only going to go downhill (and I'm not just talking about the walk from here to the train station), what with the start of exposure to family members long avoided. yeeehah.

one thing of interest: from the kitchen window, the view is of farms & fields. At the corner of one field, it looks like someone is sculping a totem pole out of wood. Looks like a rooster on top of a bear on top of something else. It's still in a work in progress. When I'm back here, will take a walk and get a closer look at it.

oh, and another thing: it's kinda nice to be back here... it's not that I miss this country, but there is certainly something comforting seeing the typically swiss (probably European too) things like narrow streets, very small cars, totally different building architecture and layout style... I'm also immediately adapting to the eating habits: am looking forward to fresh bread, cheese, mmmmmmmmm!

okay, I think that's it from me for now... will only be back on the www on Monday or so... till then... take care!!!

Tuesday, October 18, 2005


check this out :

it may take a while to load for dialup users, but be patient...

can anyone tell me how the "trick" was done???


speaking about tricks.. lemmie copy down an escort services ad in the Zurich Guide (the official city guide, no less!):
First class and biggest Swiss Escort Agency. Over 50 pretty ladys and charmed girls, students, young callgirls and also georgeous top-models availabel. Visit them privat or they enjoy you (dinner, events, vacation, etc)
is it just me, do these words just jump out at you? ladys. charmed. callgirls. "they enjoy you".

you reap what you sow!

My patience sometimes is worn so thin by some people...

A friend of mine sent me a text message recently, bemoaning the fact that so many people she knew were getting a divorce, many of which were initiated once it was found out that someone was having an affair. And in many cases of the people she knew, the infidelity was on the wife's part.

Her bottomline: "better stay single than go thru divorce or unhappy marriage"


There are so many factors involved that can make or break a marriage ... reasons for getting married in the first place, compatibility of the couple, flexibility, communication skills, empathy, how they deal with problems (and let's face it: no marriage is perfect, there WILL be problems... but HOW they are solved, rather than WHAT the problems are about, is a good indicator of the dynamics, and long-term viability, of the relationship)....

Recognise that there many things that fall within your area of control, but you choose not to do something bacause it's too hard or unpleasant or whatever.... Many of us need to take responsibility for our own actions (or, in many cases that lead to problems, INaction!).

And at the same time... don't go agonising over things that are OUT of your area of control.

I'm not really getting my point across here... :p I agree 100% that I'd rather not go thru a messy divorce, or be stuck in an unhappy marriage.

Heck, I've used Meat Loaf's Paradise by the Dashboard Lights as a guide of how NOT to end up (girl & guy getting hot and heavy in car; reaching third base... girl pressures guy into saying he loves her, will never leave her, etc before she allows him "in"... and he was so horny and caught up in the moment he said yes... and later he's "waiting for the end of time to hurry up and arrive cos if I had to spend another moment with you I dont think that i could really survive; ... I'm waiting till the end of time so I can end my time with you"

But that does not mean one should just close off that marriage option, y'know? heck, a marriage, just like any relationship, requires an investment of your time, emotion (and yes, money too).

In the end, you reap what you sow.

I think too many people forget that.

a little aside:
Oh, and by the way, I was *so* tempted to reply to the txt msg with "whoohoo, women power! glad we are exercising our rights to having affairs too! Would hate to leave it to the just the males!"

I know, kinda bad, but still... think about it... usually a guy who has an affair is looked on as a stud but a woman who has an affair is labelled a slut. We need to get rid of this double standard!

Not that I am condoning affairs at all... I just feel society "accepts" infidelity in men much more than in women. So either make infidelity NOT okay for men, or allow women to 'enjoy' the same social acceptance of men, rather than suffer through social shunning....

... aaaaaaaanyway, my bottomline:

personally, I'd rather to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all.

so there.

how I'm currently spending my time in switzerland

... playing sudoku!!

heehehe, well today *is* my day of recovery after that all-too-long journey here...

i *was* (am still? maybe.. it's already 3pm!) planning to go walk to the railway station, and check out the shoping area my brother said is close to there. Doubt I'd get on the train to zurich for today...

Tomorrow will meet up with mom and head for my grandma's place, and stay there till the end of the weekend. Yes, I'll be severly testing my sanity while there. And will also be out of internet connectivity, so no updates till next monday, maybe...

Will probably spend the days in grandma's place finishing up that all-too-simple sudoku book (*still* disappointed with that, btw), plus continue reading Wheel of Time #11 : Knife of Dreams. Got it from the library a few days before leaving ;)

my tummy is grumbling and rumbling... I suppose I can look for some food, then head out to explore this place and find that railway station.


Monday, October 17, 2005

... to cook a pizza ...

... shouldn't be that difficult, right?

But if it's your first time trying out the oven since moving into an apartment, sometimes things just don't come easy...

The oven wasn't heating up.

Took us a while to realise that.

Looked for instruction manual for oven - bro was sure he'd seen it recently... but no go.

Went online to the manufacturer's website.

Couldn't find the model, even tho we typed in the model number taken from the unit itself.

Opened instructions for similar models (but with a different button layout), and determined that in order for the oven to work, the clock must be set.

next question would of course be How to set the clock?

well, most of these modles had a little button with the picture of a clock, which, when pressed, along with the + and - keys, would enable fixing of the time. The model in the kitchen didn't match that.

kept looking ... and looking ... and looking ...

*finally* found the instructions we needed to set the clock (it was *so* not obvious!!)... and once that was done... turning the knob for the oven actually switced on the light within. whoohoo! *now* we know what to look out for...

I'm curious... was that just an amazing little 'quirk' of that particular brand/company, or it "just the way things are" that if equipped with a digital clock, the clck mustbe set / running before an oven can work?

in zurich :)

"hey Pat, I'd like to buy a vowel because O My God!"

yeah, that about sums up the last 24hours (or more? I have *no* idea!) of my life.

Urbana -> Iowa City (Saturday)
Left at 630pm. Arrived at 1030pm. ugh!
Met up with landlord of room that Kosh is renting for the month. OMG. She wouldn't stop talking. And in a very thick Indian accent. And she kept on and on and on. Arthritic hands ("they are not as good as they look"!); Wanting two separate cheques for rent vs deposit even tho she's gonna bank them both in, and issue her own cheque to refund the deposit at the end of the month. Writing long notes to Kosh, and to herself to tell Kosh, and reading them out to us, and so not makimg sense. Zoinks!! Anyways, the place itself is, well, very very basic. But can do lah for a month.

The next day : walked to the medical center area from the house : took almost 30mins! Jinkies! That's a LOT of walking every day. And it certainly seems more than the advertised "5 blocks from campus".

Breakfasted. Showered. final packing. then off to the airport, which is 30mins away. Checked in at the counter. No luggage to check in. travelling light, whoohoo!

Person at counter gave Kosh a "fake" boarding pass so he could get into the departing area with me, instead of us having to aprt before the security checkpoint. That was cool :)

Starting the journey

... started with goodbyes lah.

Get onto plane : even tho we are all ready to leavee, we are *too early* and would probably end up circling ORD, burning precious fuel, waiting for our alloted landing time, so the pilots had instructions to NOT leave until 5 mins before scheduled departure, at the earliest.

Fine. Got to ORD on time. Of course, this was the thing I had concerns about, cos I had a 30min connection... arrive ORD 5:55pm, leave ORD 6:30pm. Did a fast hike from Concourse G to Concourse K - good thing they were all in the same terminal!

I'd like to buy a "d"?

Got there... got to my seat... only to find that seat "D" was NOT an aisle seat??!! I've never had that before... I thot it was standard among the airlines to label their seats the same way so that evryone would know window from aisle to sucky seats! Cos if I'd known I was getting a sucky seat I'd have tried to change it at Cedar Rapids already!!! Grrrrrrr!!

Playing the helpless (short) maiden
So I get to my seat. I can't even reach up for the handle to the overhead compartment to get my bag up there. I flash a brilliant smile to the nearby steward asking if he could help me. There was no room at the compartment immediately above my seat, so he had to go searching the nearby compartments. He made a remark about me being able to help look for space too. Hello, I can't even reach up to open the bloody things! *sigh* ... it got me thinking.. I can appreciate even more the set-up of the Malaysia Airlines planes... I guess they are made with shorter people in mind? Oh and the little touches too... the silly hot/cold towel at the start of the journey / after sleep time ... free drinks with the meals... free headsets to listen to the entertainment channels... having a large electronic games selection... wow, I'm actually looking fwd to flying any MH flight... in January, I suppose...

Yellow or brown?
Had an entertaining air steward in charge of my area... instead of asking if we wanted beef or chicken, he'd ask if we wanted yellow stuff or brown stuff. And breakfast was supposedly left-over yellow/brown stuff. there was one couple seated closeby who didn't 'get' or just didn't appreciate the humour... I on the other hand was quite amused.

do you have any green?
Another thing from my booking that didn't happen the way it should have : in order to avoid the risk of running into pork products served during meals, I have my meal preference put down as vegetarian (not vegan). Ansd guess who didn't get to have greens instead of yellow or brown? (I chose yellow, btw). One more thing to complain to the airline....

Sleepless, but not in Seattle
Couldn't sleep at all. Ended up doing puzzle after puzzle of sudoku. And that's another rip-off: the new book of puzzles I got seems to be filled with real easy puzzles! I'm not having to do any 'pencil markings' to complete them in no time. Quantity is *so* much less satisfying than quality and challenge, lemmie tell ya. I ran through about 25 of those puzzles before getting to LHR.

Ah, LHR ....

We were in a holding pattern for about 45mins before being cleared to land.

At one point, I thought we must be in the clouds plus experiencing a bit of turbulence : nope, turns out that was us landing. In major fog. hence the delay in landing.

Ready to go but no info available
And guess what? That of course translated to delays to the outgoing/connecting flights too.... But OMG, LHR's system really sucks! They want you to look for boarding information on the departure boards... but when there was still nothing for my flight at 1130am, when it was supposed to be leaving at 11:55am... you know something's wrong... then a "delayed to 1220hrs" popped up on the screen. I went up to the Customer Service desk anyway, to confirm what was going on with my flight: according to the clerk, it was delayed to 1330hrs. Different from the info on the board. Go figure. One good thing from the delay was getting a GBP 5.00 food voucher, so I got myself a chicken-advocado sandwich and 2 bottles of water compliments of British Airways.

Everyone needs a shoulder to lean doze on...
Finally get on board the plane. I doze off. When I wake up we still haven't taken off. I guess I dozed off in fits and starts, and ended up semi-leaning against the shoulder of the lady next to me. Couldn't help myself... hadn't slept in so so long! Didn't do much for me tho, it is always so uncomfortable on the planes...

Finally make it to ZRH at 5pm. Since I had no luggage to claim, I went out of the first exit I saw. Which of course was not the one my brother was waiting for me at. So had more sms exchanges before we met up.

Now am at his place. He's off at an evening language class. I took a long-desired and much-needed shower. Skin totally dry but can't find lotion anywhere :( Once am done with this will probably just hang out in front of tv and pass out. Am kinda running on empty right now :p

who am i why am i here?
next, will need to figure out what exactly I'll be doing over the next week or so. Have a headache just thinking about it. So I won't. think about it. till later.


Saturday, October 15, 2005

what's wrong with this picture?

it's saturday,12:15 noon.

the "plan" is to leave by 1pm, for that 4 hour drive to Iowa City.
  • I'm pretty much packed. Just need to shower, and final touches to the packing, then I'm done.
  • Kosh, on the other hand... is currently eating breakfast, watching the second half of Scooby Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed that he slept through last night. Yes, the movie that HE wanted to see last night, but *I* ended up watching all the way thru while he'd dozed off. Grrrr. So, yeah. Guess who hasn't packed... and HE has to pack for a month, and not just clothes but books and whatnot for this away rotation PLUS interview for medical school.
Wonder when in *real* time we are gonna be leaving this place!!


I cringe every time we need to pack & leave for a trip, whether it's to the folks or whatever... it's usually only on that day itself that Kosh will want to run all these tiny errands before leaving town. so often, the time estimated to arrival becomes our actual departure time. Can we say *s*t*r*e*s*s*? I'm pretty laid back myself, but even *i* think he takes it just. a. bit. too. far. *sigh!*

Anyways... so, once we finally *do* get to Iowa City... still have no idea where we are staying once we *get* there! Kosh has a few places in mind to check out before finally choosing one place ... all the more reason to get there when there's still light out, eh?

So, we settle in to wherever... and the next day (tomorrow) I'm flying off to Switzerland. From an airport 30mins from Iowa City. Which we will need to get to a few hours before my 5pm flight. I ended up choosing a Sunday flight, despite the additional cost, just because I didn't want to factor in any uncertainty of traffic, hospital duties or whatever.

I suppose I'll be back to "usual" levels of stress once I'm in Switzerland. Yay.

Catch up with y'all later!

Friday, October 14, 2005

smurfing the world wide web...

Many thanx to Gangadhar for the link to the Smurf Name Generator! You can go to his site, or to the original one HERE to play.
Using my full/real name, I am Jurassic Smurf (hey, I'm not *that* old?!)
Using Lynne instead, I am Waspinator Smurf (wtf?)

Kosh, you are Radioactive Smurf (hmmmmmmmm..... too much time at the lab?)
And on another smurf-related note... did you hear about UNICEF's new fundraising initiative to shock viewers into donating money to help children in war-torn regions? It features a 30 second cartoon clip of the smurfs doing the usual smurfy things in their village, only to have airplanes fly by and bomb the village - yes, a Smurfogeddon, if you will. It seems that it certainly shocks viewers, but at the same time, really drives home the point of "Don't let war affect the lives of children."

For the Yahoo!News article, click HERE. Tip o' the hat to Formula3G.

I wanna see this clip! No plans to be shown in the U.S., wonder if I can catch it while I'm in Switzerland next week? It's not supposed to be made available thru the internet either... wonder how they would police LimeWire, iMesh, etc tho...

thanx, Reema!

... feel *so* much better after stumbling across this picture from Reema's blog!

pissed off

i spent a long time polishing up a post on mis-heard song lyrics until it was to my eyes fit for publishing... and for some *#^!$#^ reason, when I hit "publish", blogger asked me to re-log in??!! And my entire post was lost!! I am so PISSED!! I will work on it again, but then again, maybe I won't. Friggin blogger. Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!!!

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Indiana Jones FOUR!!

Hey y'all... have you heard? Indiana Jones #4 is in the works!

This is the first I heard about it... seems it's been kinda news since 2002, but there have been numerous problems with getting the script or something, but hopefully things are moving forward....

Tip o' the Hat to who formula3G, who was referring to THIS article.

HERE's some news from the site.
Can you believe it's been FIFTEEN years since Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade? They are going to have to move the setting of movie #4 to the 50's, seeing as Harrison Ford has certainly aged since he last chose wisely...

This I *will* be catching in the theatres!!

... of cripsy axes, duck tape, and other mispronunciations

... exploring the's site a little more, I came across another entertaining page: a list of the 100 most mispronounced words & phrases in English

Mispronouncing Arctic and Antarctic as Artic and Antartic would be common for Malaysians, cos as far as I remember, that's how we were taught to say it in school...

I LOL'd seeing a blessing in disguise being commonly mispronounced as a blessing in the skies .. it kinda makes sense, I suppose, but. it's. just. not. "right" :p
haahaha that reminds me.... a similar mis-heard lyric... Elvis' "You're the devil in disguise" is oftentimes mis-said as "You're the devil in the sky"!!
(Actually there are LOTS of mispronounced song lyrics, will try to get a list of them in an article soon)

First I ever heard chest of drawers referred to as chester drawers I thought CB was referring to specific piece of furniture with drawers... turns out she was perpetuating a common pronunciation mistake... and she didn't believe me when I pointed it out... I bet she's still mispronouncing it even now! :-)

When watching MacGyver, drooling over the then-yummy Richard Dean Anderson, us Malaysians were really puzzled about that ubuquitous duck tape he used all the time... Heck, I even "figured out" that it was a brand name, and that they were sold in rolls with a picture of a duck on it! Tee hee!! Turns out it was DUCT tape! I'll always have to double check myself when I say it tho, cos my default will be to say duck tape.


A major "take-away" from the book Forrest Gump (NOT the movie!!) was the use of "axe" instead of "ask" ... i so liked it I used it for quite a while after having read the book :-)


And something I just could NOT break some people of the habit... the word CRISP ... they would just keep saying CRIPS ... craps did that annoy me! I'd diplomatically correct them by paraphrasing what they said plus say "crisp" correctly, only to have the person nod and say "yes, exactly, we need [the delivery / whatever] to be crips." Aarrgh!!

not Aaron, just a blog on Spelling :-)

I don't claim to excellent at spelling, but I think I have a pretty good grasp of it :)

And most bloggers out there are pretty good about not having major typos... I usually stumble across the "common" ones like mixing up your/you're and there/their...

But then there are some like this one random blog I stumbled across a while ago... filled with atrocious spelling mistakes... just about every 2 out of 3 words were wrongly spelled... and the author actually seemed to be proudly stating in the sidebar that she couldn't spell to save her life... uh-huh, she definitely couldn't! One example I remember: season finale was spelled finally: I had to re-read the sentence before it finally (sorry!) made sense!

So I thought of that random blogger, and the many many poor souls out there who also have trouble with their spelling skills, when I came across this website: 's misspelled words site

It's a "... one-stop cure for all your spelling ills. Here are the 100 words most often misspelled ('misspell' is one of them). Each word has a mnemonic pill with it and, if you swallow it, it will help you to remember how to spell the word..."

The "mnemonic pills" aren't *that* useful, in my book, but it *does*have a list of the most commonly misspelled words, which is interesting to read through as it is :-)

Have fun!

Monday, October 10, 2005

Globe trotting & Word association (Week 140)

My last night in St Louis - whoohooo!!!

Oh, guess what... I'm going to be quite the travelling person in the next few weeks.

First will be the trip back from St Louis to Urbana tomorrow... then on Saturday am heading to Iowa City... then taking off on Sunday from Cedar Rapids to Zurich via Chicago & London for a 1.5week visit... visit my relatives and my ailing grandma... then back to the u.s. in late October, from Zurich back to Cedar Rapids via Dallas/Fort Worth. And decide whether to hang around in Iowa City, or make my way back to Urbana to hold the fort, torture the psycho kitty, etc etc... :-)

So, yeah, for those who got my sms saying I'd be back in KL in mid-Nov - change of plans, sowwy! I'll be back probably in Jan '06 instead :-)


And hey, it's Sunday (or was about 55 minutes ago...) Here's the latest word association list from Unconscious Mutterings:
  1. Quirk:: of fate
  2. Crystal:: ball
  3. Pet Peeve:: Jeeves
  4. Cuban:: cigars
  5. Breasts:: implants / melons / hooters
  6. Whispers:: in your ear / sweet nothings
  7. Complicated:: this is going to be painful
  8. Promise me:: clingy
  9. Murder:: she wrote
  10. Filament:: sky (i know, that's FIRMament) / thin thread
What do YOU immeditely think of? Share lah! :-D

Saturday, October 08, 2005

python vs croc: it's a draw!

It seems that in the Florida everglades, there is a battle between the resident crocs and ex-pet pythons... this pic is the result of one such battle...

For the full amazing story, go HERE. (Photo taken from HERE)

office slang :-)

New to me:
Cobweb - A WWW site that is never updated.

New to me, but I can *so* relate to:
Ohnosecond - That minuscule fraction of time during which you realize you’ve just made a terrible error.

I remember these expressions from an email, and *so* related to them that I started using them right away... after all, where I worked, especially for the final one year, had plenty of these going around.... :
Seagull Manager - A manager who flies in, makes a lot of noise, shits over everything and then leaves.
Blamestorming - A group discussion of why a deadline was missed or a project failed and who was responsible

Sound familiar? I bet you've gotten e-mails with a list of these "new" and humourous definitions before, but THIS SITE has a pretty comprehensive list. Check it out for a chuckle or two or three or four ... :-)

(tip o the hat to: Linky & Dinky)
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