Wednesday, November 30, 2005

schmitibank the inflexibles rigidities

In this day and age, annual fees charged for credit cards are a no-no, as far as I am concerned. With banks or other financial institutions making money through every transaction charged, really, there is no need for annual fees...

Yet, Citibank, in Malaysia at least, probably in Asia in general, still continues to charge annual fees. I suppose they figure 'Why not?', after all, they are one of *the* names when it comes to credit cards and other financial services... and Malaysians are more than willing to pay for the priviledge of having such a branded credit card.

I signed up for a Citibank credit card in early 1999: this was still during the bad financial situation in Asia, and there were tales of people's credit cards being refused overseas... I was going to be heading to the U.S. for a holiday in May '99, and it was recommended to me that it would be much safer if I had a credit card issued by an internationally-recognised institution like Citibank, instead of, oh, Maybank or Hong Leong Bank, for example.

Idiots screwed up the processing, claiming I didn't enclose some documents that I knew I HAD enclosed. Bottom line: I got the card AFTER my trip. Idiots. So I was not a big fan of them, already from the start.

Aaanyway,,, fast forward a few years and an additional credit card later. I'm paying RM150 in annual fees for Citibank credit cards with a combined credit limit of only RM8000. Compare that to my one other card, issued by my bank, that has NO annual fee, and by itself has a credit limit of RM8000! Hmmmm....

The only thing going for Citibank was that their bonus points don't expire. That's it.

So when I quit my job and become a jobless bum over a year ago, I intended to cancel the Citibank cards, once they were due for their annual fees.

No thanks to their not-so-straightforward online account thingy, I ended up "renewing" one of them late last year. When I was in Malaysia this past April, I made it a point to cancel the other one (a Visa), and so I was down to one unneeded and unused Master Card.

My attempt to finally cut all ties with Citibank was a long drawn-out process...
  • In late October, I wrote them, using the secure online internal e-mail system of theirs, instructing them to cancel the card. I was also quite blunt, saying they Citibank has a reputation for trying to get people to change their mind about cancelling, and not to bother with me unless they were going to waive the annual fees. Oh, and for them to email me at one of my yahoo addresses to confirm that the card had been cancelled.
  • I got a reply saying they cannot process the request as they need written instruction with my signature, so I would need to either snail mail or fax them. Oh and no mention about the whole "if you waive it, I will stay" thing. But this was NOT to my yahoo account.
  • So i replied thanking them for the info, but expressing disappointment that they had NOT emailed me as requested.
  • They replied saying that they are unable to utilise unsecured 3rd party emails when dealing with account and customer information. Okay... fair enough.
  • I *finally* manage to fax the cancellation instruction (that was a minor story by itself, but nevermind). In the fax I stated that it was not necessary to call (since I'd have to pay international roaming charges) and re-reconfirm that I want to cancel the card, seeing as this was the second instruction given on this matter (I quoted the emails and the names of the people from Citibank who had responded).
  • A few days later, I dropped by the online account thingy: I could still log in - which meant it had not been cancelled yet! So I wrote an email, asking them to *please* just drop me a line at that yahoo account to confirm that the card is now cancelled.
  • Nothing.
  • A week later, I try to login - and can't. oooookay, i could *assume* that I'm now free of Citibank... except that I *would* like to hear back from them somehow... So i write to them via their unsecure "contact us" service on their website, asking, once again, to confirm that the card has been cancelled, and to drop me a line at my yahoo account.
  • The next day, I receive a call on my cellphone. I recognised the number. Guess who? Yep: Citibank.
CTB: Hallo, ken I spik to Ms (my full name)?
Me: yeah,speaking.
CTB: Ah, just wan to confem det you wan to censel your Citibank Clear Master Card, en befor I do that I nid to ask ah, wai you are censeling? Is it becos of poor customer service, or anyting?
Me: Well, I've already stated the reason in my fax, but you know what, right now yes I would say poor customer service is definitely a factor in my decision. How can you not process a simple request, and in fact you draw it out, and now you are calling me when I already said not to...
... the line was dead .. well, it *was* a poor connection... I don't think she hung up on me... a few seconds later, she calls back:
CTB: Sori ah, dunno if is your line or mine. So, sori ah, what is the reason you are censeling?
Me: *sigh* the bottom line is, my other bank is giving me a much higher credit limit and no annual fee, and I am not willing to pay RM90 a year for a measly RM4000 credit limit.
CTB: Ah, like that. Okay lah. Now I just need to verify some information then I can process your request
Me: (silently) O.M.G... *how* many weeks later??? You want written signed instruction, then you want verbal verification? How many more hoops??? How many????
CTB: Okay, tenk you ah, I ken now process this instruction to cancel.
Me: Okay, and can I be informed when the card is actually cancelled then?
CTB: Oh? Ah, you can consider this call as konfemayshen of kanselation.
Me: Oh, really?
Me: (thinking I should jot down her particulars for my record, then figuring that if they had me jump through all these bloody hoops, they had better keep all the records needed too, dumbasses!)
CTB: Ya. So okay, tenk yew for using Citibank.
Me: Yeah. (hang up phone)
Me: Good riddance to bad rubbish.
Okay okay, I *know* that they had procedures to follow to process cancellations, but come on... I told them by secure and unsecure email, by fax AND verbally, and only THEN could they act on my instructions?

Can you say rigid and unflexible??

Anyways: so now I am left with my free-for-life gold Master Card. Which a few months ago upped my credit limit to RM11,000, without me having to do anything.

And that, my friend, is *more* than enough for me.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Funny Porn

Inspired by the list of Thanksgiving-inspired movie titles, I looked around for a list of OTHER movies, this time PORN-inspired spoof titles :-)

I've always been disappointed that despite having heard of so many of them, the only ones I tend to remember are:
- Phoebe Buffay the Vampire Layer (from F.R.I.E.N.D.S)
- Saving / Shaving Ryan's Privates

Here are more, which maybe this time I'll remember!
  • Star Whores
  • Pearl Harbor Necklace
  • Dawson's Crack
  • The Twilight Bone
Sources:
1. Listology
2. Ubersite

I was wondering just how many of those listed were spoofs vs actual porn titles... and then found a site that seems to list the actual porn. The Porn Movie Satire project. And since these are loosely (haaha) based on actual movies, even the covers are based on the original photos. I was very amused. Follow this link at your own risk.

Have fun!

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Top Thanksgiving Movies

Click HERE for a list of the top movies about thanksgiving!

I kinda like 50 First Plates & Who's Eating Giblet Gravy?

~~

yawwwwwwn... gobble gobble gobble!!

Thursday, November 24, 2005

"Who's on First?" deviations

... based on the Abbot & Costello "Who's on first?" miscommunication sketch...

Here's one of my memories from my time watching Animaniacs:
SLAPPY: Skippy, what is the name of that group playing on stage?
SKIPPY: Who.
SLAPPY: The name of the group.
SKIPPY: Who.
SLAPPY: The group on stage.
SKIPPY: Who.
SLAPPY: The group playing on stage.
SKIPPY: Who.
SLAPPY: You're starting to sound like an owl, Skippy.
SKIPPY: Who is on stage!
SLAPPY: That is what I'm askin' ya', who is on stage?
SKIPPY: That's what I said.
SLAPPY: You said who?
SKIPPY: I sure did.
SLAPPY: So tell me the name.
SKIPPY: Who.
SLAPPY: The name of the group.
SKIPPY: Who.
SLAPPY: The group on stage.
SKIPPY: Who.
SLAPPY: The name of the band on stage!
SKIPPY: Who!
SLAPPY: You're doing that owl thing again, Skippy!
SKIPPY: I'm not, Aunt Slappy, I'm telling you Who is on stage.
SLAPPY: So tell me.
SKIPPY: Who.
SLAPPY: So tell me.
SKIPPY: Who.
SLAPPY: The name of the group.
SKIPPY: Who.
SLAPPY: The group on stage!
SKIPPY: Who!
SLAPPY: That's what I'm asking you!
SKIPPY: And I'm telling you the answer.
SLAPPY: Wait, Skippy, let's start over. Is there a band on stage?
SKIPPY: Yes.
SLAPPY: Does the band have a name?
SKIPPY: Yes.
SLAPPY: Do you know the name of the band?
SKIPPY: Yes.
SLAPPY: Then tell me the name of the band on stage.
SKIPPY: Who.
SLAPPY: The name of the band!
SKIPPY: Who.
SLAPPY: The band, playing on stage!
SKIPPY: Who.
SLAPPY: That's what I want to know!
SKIPPY: I'm telling you!
SLAPPY: Who is on stage.
SKIPPY: Yes.
SLAPPY: Who is?
SKIPPY: Yes.
SLAPPY: Oh. So the name of the band is Yes.
SKIPPY: No, Aunt Slappy, Yes is not even at this concert.
SLAPPY: Then who is on stage?
SKIPPY: Yes.
SLAPPY: Who is?
SKIPPY: Yes.
SLAPPY: That's just what I said, Yes is on stage.
SKIPPY: No, Yes is not here. Who is on stage.
SLAPPY: Whaddya askin' me for?
SKIPPY: I'm not!
SLAPPY: Wait, let's try this again. Do you see the band on stage?
SKIPPY: No I don't see The Band, that's a different group entirely.
SLAPPY: On stage, Skippy. Look, see the band?
SKIPPY: No I don't.
SLAPPY: Get rid of those John Lennon glasses and look! There, there's the band!
SKIPPY: No, that's not The Band. The Band is performing later on. Who's on stage.
SLAPPY: You tell me.
SKIPPY: Who.
SLAPPY: The name of the group on stage.
SKIPPY: Who.
SLAPPY: The name of the group!
SKIPPY: Who.
SLAPPY: The group on stage!
SKIPPY: Who.
SLAPPY: The band!
SKIPPY: No, The Band is performing later. Right now, we're listening to Who.
SLAPPY: That's what I wanna know!!


(taken from HERE: the transcript of Animaniacs Episode #59; sketch called "Woodstock Slappy")

Me & Kosh do something similar every once in a while, involving The Who, The Band and Yes. I recently added The Guess Who to the mix, LOL!

aaaaaaaaaaand here's ANOTHER version I just got in the mail that I had to share:
Contributed by Joscelyn Fisher of Urbana, Illinois:

In today's world, Bud Abbott and Lou Costello's infamous sketch "Who's on
first?" might have turned out something like this:

COSTELLO CALLS TO BUY A COMPUTER FROM ABBOTT . . . .

ABBOTT: Super Duper computer store. Can I help you?

COSTELLO: Thanks. I'm setting up an office in my den and I'm thinking about
buying a computer.

ABBOTT: Mac?

COSTELLO: No, the name's Lou.

ABBOTT: Your computer?

COSTELLO: I don't own a computer. I want to buy one.

ABBOTT: Mac?

COSTELLO: I told you, my name's Lou.

ABBOTT: What about Windows?

COSTELLO: Why? Will it get stuffy in here?

ABBOTT: Do you want a computer with Windows?

COSTELLO: I don't know. What will I see when I look in the windows?

ABBOTT: Wallpaper.

COSTELLO: Never mind the windows. I need a computer and software.

ABBOTT: Software for Windows?

COSTELLO: No. On the computer! I need something I can use to write
proposals, track expenses and run my business. What have you got?

ABBOTT: Office.

COSTELLO: Yeah, for my office. Can you recommend anything?

ABBOTT: I just did.

COSTELLO: You just did what?

ABBOTT: Recommend something.

COSTELLO: You recommended something?

ABBOTT: Yes.

COSTELLO: For my office?

ABBOTT: Yes.

COSTELLO: OK, what did you recommend for my office?

ABBOTT: Office.

COSTELLO: Yes, for my office!

ABBOTT: I recommend Office with Windows.

COSTELLO: I already have an office with windows! OK, lets just say I'm
sitting at my computer and I want to type a proposal. What do I need?

ABBOTT: Word.

COSTELLO: What word?

ABBOTT: Word in Office.

COSTELLO: The only word in office is office.

ABBOTT: The Word in Office for Windows.

COSTELLO: Which word in office for windows?

ABBOTT: The Word you get when you click the blue "W".

COSTELLO: I'm going to click your blue "w" if you don't start with some
straight answers. OK, forget that. Can I watch movies on the Internet?

ABBOTT: Yes, you want Real One.

COSTELLO: Maybe a real one, maybe a cartoon. What I watch is none of your
business. Just tell me what I need!

ABBOTT: Real One.

COSTELLO: If it's a long movie I also want to see reel 2, 3 & 4. Can I watch
them?

ABBOTT: Of course.

COSTELLO: Great! With what?

ABBOTT: Real One.

COSTELLO: OK, I'm at my computer and I want to watch a movie. What do I do?

ABBOTT: You click the blue "1".

COSTELLO: I click the blue one what?

ABBOTT: The blue "1".

COSTELLO: Is that different from the blue w?

ABBOTT: The blue "1" is Real One and the blue "W" is Word.

COSTELLO: What word?

ABBOTT: The Word in Office for Windows.

COSTELLO: But there are three words in "office for windows"!

ABBOTT: No, just one. But it's the most popular Word in the world.

COSTELLO: It is?

ABBOTT: Yes, but to be fair, there aren't many other Words left. It pretty
much wiped out all the other Words out there.

COSTELLO: And that word is real one?

ABBOTT: Real One has nothing to do with Word. Real One isn't even part of
Office.

COSTELLO: STOP! Don't start that again. What about financial bookkeeping?
You have anything I can track my money with?

ABBOTT: Money.

COSTELLO: That's right. What do you have?

ABBOTT: Money.

COSTELLO: I need money to track my money?

ABBOTT: It comes bundled with your computer.

COSTELLO: What's bundled with my computer?

ABBOTT: Money.

COSTELLO: Money comes with my computer?

ABBOTT: Yes. No extra charge.

COSTELLO: I get a bundle of money with my computer? How much?

ABBOTT: One copy.

COSTELLO: Isn't it illegal to copy money?

ABBOTT: Microsoft gave us a license to copy money.

COSTELLO: They can give you a license to copy money?

ABBOTT: Why not? THEY OWN IT!


A FEW DAYS LATER . .

ABBOTT: Super Duper computer store. Can I help you?

COSTELLO: How do I turn my computer off?

ABBOTT: Click on "START"..........


I know... a bit long... a bit tedious... but I hope it got a smile out of you :-)

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Turkey Day Minus One

Zoinks!! i have spent the last TWO HOURS doing nothing but clicking on the links on the sidebar and reacquiainting myself with all the blogs I usually visit.

Two hours to catch up - it's a sign that:
  • I've got quite a few links to explore,
  • those bloggers are pretty productive, AND
  • dial-up sucks. :p
Tomorrow's Turkey Day, so we'll be heading up to some of Kosh's relatives for the annual stuff-your-face-with-a-large-dead-bird event. And will spend the weekend at the folks'. Will probably be off-line till Sunday.

Weather's taking a turn for the worse: snow is in the forecast, bleah!

Oh: while I was getting caught up on the blogs, I also tried out some of the quizzes featured (lost track of which I got from whom, so no tips of hats to anyone); Here are my results:


I tried both a shorter and the 45-question quizzes, with the same result. Pretty cool, eh? Especially since I also have the Einstein/DarkTower pix on the top of my page :-)

You scored as Batman, the Dark Knight. As the Dark Knight of Gotham, Batman is a vigilante who deals out his own brand of justice to the criminals and corrupt of the city. He follows his own code and is often misunderstood. He has few friends or allies, but finds comfort in his cause.

Batman, the Dark Knight

63%

James Bond, Agent 007

54%

Captain Jack Sparrow

54%

Lara Croft

54%

Maximus

50%

The Amazing Spider-Man

50%

Neo, the "One"

50%

William Wallace

46%

Indiana Jones

46%

The Terminator

42%

El Zorro

42%

Which Action Hero Would You Be? v. 2.0
created with QuizFarm.com



You scored as Loner.

Loner

69%

Punk/Rebel

38%

Prep/Jock/Cheerleader

38%

Goth

38%

Geek

38%

Drama nerd

38%

Stoner

19%

Ghetto gangsta

6%

What's Your High School Stereotype?
created with QuizFarm.com

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Goblets of Star Trek!

Y'all know James Doohan, right? The guy who played Scotty on all those Star Trek shows? He passed away in July this year, and it kind amade the news, not just cos he died, but because of his request that his ashes be sent to the final frontier: yep, he wanted to be beamed up to space.

I followed up on that just now, and was amused to find out that the rocket which will blast his ashes into space has had its take-off delayed because of engine trouble.

Yes, engine trouble. Maybe they need Scotty to take a look at it? LOL!

~~

More old news: it seems it was an open secret among Star Trek fans, but it was only last month that George Takei, who plays Sulu, officially came out of the closet. I like what he said about it, though: "It's not really coming out, which suggests opening a door and stepping through. It's more like a long, long walk through what began as a narrow corridor that starts to widen."

Whatever it is, glad he took that walk :-) More power to you, Sulu!

~~
And on a much lighter note: ever wonder how different the legacy of Star Trek would have been if, say, Dr Seuss wrote for Star Trek: The Next Generation? Find out HERE!

~~
aaaaand Harry Potter #4 is out in movie theaters starting a few days ago....

... not seen it yet.... may will only get to so see it this week, b4 Thanksgiving...

In general, the movies have gotten better and better, so my expectations are quite high for this one. so so so so so can't wait!!

.. saw a detailed trailer the other day, which included a glimpse one of THE BEST scenes of #4: the battle of the wands, as I call it: I have my own image of how that scene looks, and I do hope the movie does something just as good, or at least, not disappointing!!

I'm slightly concerned about how much of the book's details will get into the movie: some of the previous movies were kinda disjointed for people who hadn't read the book. And #4 is the most detailed that has been made into a movie to date (just WAIT till they get #5 to the silver screen!!).

I've only read the series like 4 times now, LOL (#1-4 4x, #5 2x, #6 1x). But I bet I'd totally fail any of those Harry Potter Trivial Pursuit games :p Can you believe there's one per book? I can safely assume the questions cover every little bit of detail of each book! Would like to know for sure how badly I'd do, but I don't have anyone silly enough to want to buy / play with me, boohooo! Oh well....

Catch y'all later!

Thursday, November 17, 2005

infomercial schminfomercials?

Yesterday we had the first snow of the season. Bleah!! Sure, it was more a flurry than anything else,,, but still... so I had to bid an official goodbye to the unseasonably warm weather I'd been enjoying for so long!!

Yesterday also, did over 2 hours of racquetball... and while I was certainly chasing the ball down a lot more than in the past (I attribute that to the 2 weeks of regular cardio workouts), my back was telling me it didn't like the exertion that much. Once we got back, I drew myself a nice hot bubbly bath and crawled in... aahhhhh, bliss! So while I am still kinda sore all over today, I know it's nowhere near as bad as it would have been sans soak :-)

~~

You ever been tempted by all those infomercials on tv?

I stumbled across a site that highlights Infomercial Scams: I thought it would highlight on the products itself, but the few things I clicked on seemed to be complaints about the vendors not honoring the "money back guarantee", or charging credit cards without the customer ever receiving the products... which is bad enough, actually... seems like even in this country where customers have so many rights that don't even exist (or exist but never enforced) in Malaysia, there are still many problems in this area...

Y'know, I *have* been tempted by some of those products out there... my skin, while certainly not moon crater land, is not breakout-free either, so I've been debating about getting the Proactiv product for a while now... Then I wonder if I should go for something like Bare Minerals instead, since that is a non-obvious make-up product... but it looks like so many steps to apply... and at the end need to take it all off anyway, using something like Proactiv, LOL.

aaaaanyway...

will be blogging more regularly next week, probably...

till then, take care, y'all!

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Clumsiness earns jailtime!

How would you feel if you were sentenced to six years in prison because of your clumsiness?

Sounds out of this world? Here’s the story:
A camera crane operator shooting a commercial at the Machu Picchu Inca ruins whose equipment tipped and chipped a stone sundial there has been sentenced to six years in prison, officials said Friday. (Yahoo!News article HERE)

I think it’s great that the authorities take the damage seriously. After all, the Machu Picchu ruins are one of the wonders of ancient civilizations: anything damaged or destroyed is irreplaceable.

But… isn’t punishing the camera crane operator kinda like closing the stable door after the horse has escaped? He damaged important ancient artifacts, fine, punish him; but should he have even been there in the first place?

The beer company, Backus, faces a civil lawsuit along with the advertising firm that hired the production company where the camera crane operator worked. Again: isn’t this a case door/horse/escape?

I’d like to think that the prosecution is ALSO looking at how and why a commercial - a BEER commercial, for goodness’ sake! - was being shot in Machu Picchu in the first place.
  • Is this a common occurrence?
  • Who gave permission for the shooting?
  • Were there kickbacks involved?


Answer THOSE questions, and * maybe* future “accidents” can be truly prevented (instead of all this corrective action taking place now).

Is the wind blowing?

Yeah, I guess the wind *is* blowing, my friends, cos here are some answers:
(Thanx, Bob Dylan!)

The recent Poser Schmoser #1 asked how you would feel about someone who was sweet and charming to you and you only, and gruff and rude to everyone else:
I used to date someone who was like that.

He wasn’t a *bad* person; in fact, he was the one who first who helped me really understand and “live” by the “no use crying over spilt milk” outlook; otherwise I’d be racked by guilt and/or worry and agonizing over things I absolutely could do nothing about. On the other hand, as far as he was concerned, he was always right and everyone else was wrong. In fact, everyone else were idiots unless proven otherwise.

I oscillated mildly between "a" and "b" during our time dating.
If I were to come across someone like that now, I'd probably distance myself from him big-time tho, LOL! Or I'd actually bring up the topic of what his behaviour signals to me: arrogance, and an unhealthy antagonistic outlook on life.


What these artistes have in common
This is a much older post, but I didn’t get much response. If you don’t remember this, go ahead and check it out before reading on?

It’s just a click and a new window, maaaah..

Done?

Okay you'll need to add Jimmy Buffet
(just realised I'd missed him out from the original list)

Got it? Good.

Answer: I’ve seen ‘em all in concert.

Okay, I excluded Anggun cos she only did a “showcase”, and she sang to a Minus-One track anyway… and I included The Rasmus cos even though it was a “showcase” of maybe 6 songs, they did it completely live at the HRC KL, and it was really rocking, and I consider THAT a concert.

~~

Today has been a great day: spent a solid hour at the gym (~500 cals) PLUS the 50mins walk to/from the gym, PLUS a hearty salad with two slices of chipotle smoked turkey breast... I'm feeling good.

(LOL cat just jumped into my lap LOL can hardly type she's head-butting my arms LOL she is demanding attention!)

The weather's pretty good today, tho I had to walk thru a wall of leaves that were being blown around by strong winds! Rain expected tonight, though, and tomorrow will signal the start of "seasonable" temperatures, bummer. I like this unseasonably warm weather we're having here!! Once it cools down I'm gonna be really challenged to keep up my gym visits.

More reasons I'm feeling good today:
  • Kosh should be back tomorrow
  • did my last kitty litter duty today
  • while I *have* had chocolate in the last two weeks, I have NOT succumbed to tempation and bought/consumed ice cream or DQ blizzards or cheesecake or cream cheese danishes or donut holes etc. I have yet to fulfill that craving for a chewy gooey brownie a la mode either!


Have a good weekend, y'all!

Friday, November 11, 2005

Thirsty talking cats?

The kitty’s been pretty vocal recently… but it’s kinda tough interpreting her meows…

Sometimes the meow seems to mean “Hey silly human, I’m out of food, so get your butt outta bed and fill up my bowl!”

Or “I wanna playyyyyyyy! Chase me around the apartment, why don’t you?”

Or “Don’t move! I’m going to sit on your lap and you are going to like it!”

Or, even better: “Ewww I just puked! Come on, let me show you where! Come on!”

Although sometimes I wonder if the meow means “I don’t really need anything, but I just want to drive you nuts trying to figure out what I want”

Recently she’s been hopping onto my lap so often, especially when I’m at the desk in front of this laptop. I feel these feet on my thigh; I look down, straight into her questioning eyes. All I need to do is say “Come on, girl,” or just snap my fingers, and up she hops. She then tries valiantly to make herself comfortable, and usually manages to perch somehow, oftentimes with her butt sticking up and out, LOL!

Something I had never heard of until I moved in with the kitty was cats preferring fresh/moving water to drink, e.g. from a faucet and not from a bowl. Back in Malaysia, I had had cats before, and know of many people who have cats… but nowhere in conversation had I ever heard of cats drinking out of faucets. And yet here, there are numerous products available to ensure fresh moving drinking water for cats. And Mensa Barbie has this cuuute pic of her Butterscotch drinking out of a faucet too. So it’s not just this psycho kitty. Is it something about cats of this country / continent? Or for cats in places that experience the 4 seasons? Anyone know?

Anyways, so “my” kitty also prefers drinking out of the faucet. It’s not like she doesn’t have a water bowl, it’s just that very often she doesn’t touch it unless she has to :p Oftentimes, she’d sit at the entrance to the bathroom, waiting patiently for one of us to notice that she wants a drink. But of course, that’s when she’s feeling smart. When she’s not-so-smart, she’s waiting on the bathroom sink counter itself: out of sight of anyone and everyone unless we need the bathroom or are heading towards the bedroom.

She takes this faucet thing to another level, though: she also likes to jump into the bathtub once we are done with our shower, and take in the drops of water from that faucet. It’s about a 50% occurrence with me: maybe she’s not used to sharing a bathtub with me, or I make too much noise/interference toweling myself dry while she’s there snorting the faucet, or something. By comparison, if it’s Kosh’s shower, she’s licking away at that faucet almost 100% of the time!

Silly kitty!

I have just a few more days with “my” kitty. Once Kosh is back, she’s going to be a total daddy’s girl all over again, and I’m going to be the ignored mommy. Oh well, it’s been a fun two months bonding with the kitty :p

Then again… as I type this I’m getting whiffs of the kitty litter – whoohoo just one more round of clearing that, then I pass the duty (doody??) back to Kosh.

Muuuaaahahaahahahahahah!

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Poser Schmoser #1


The situation:
You are dating this guy who, when answering the phone, always answers in a gruff and rude manner. But once you identify yourself, his whole manner changes, and he’s this sweet and charming person who is genuinely glad that you called. This happens every single time you call, so it’s not like he’s having a bad day or something; that just *is* how he behaves.

The question:
How do you feel about this?
A: do you feel special because he’s only nice to you?
B. or do you feel worried because he’s only nice to you?

Or in other words: what does this indicate about his character, his outlook on life, etc?

Whaddaya think?

~~

On a totally unrelated note: check out this hilarious yet disturbing post (rant?) by the waiter.

Dr Jackal & Mr Hide?

“Pretty cool… but if this story was set in this day and age, there’d be no story!”


What was I thinking about? The Day of the Jackal, by Frederick Forsyth.

A professional assassin is hired by the French revolutionary army to kill Charles de Gaulle. The story describes how The Jackal goes about building different identities and back-up plans to carry out his assignment, while the French police happen to catch wind of this plot and try to hunt him down. It’s a fascinating peek into the French-British politics of that time, too.

I read this book a long time ago. Like when I was like 12 or something.
I remember loving the twist at the end when the guy gets back from his fishing trip. Didn’t remember much else tho.

So when faced with the prospect of a 3-hr per direction drive to visit Kosh on weekends last month when he was in St Louis, I decided to refresh my memory with a Book-On-Tape.

Listening to it, I was struck by the following:
  • If there had been mobile phones at that time, the story would not have held water.
  • If there had been computers, with different departments sharing or at least able to access each others’ databases, again, the story would not have held water.
  • Maaan is this story dated! Good, but dated.
  • Maaan, how much could I have understood when I first read this book?
Then again… even with all the so-called technological advancements we have, and everything pretty much on a database somewhere,… that doesn’t guarantee inter-departmental cooperation (think CIA vs FBI vs whoever else wrt sharing of relevant terrorist information), does it?

Moving on.

An impressive part of the story dealt with how The Jackal was so easily able to secure a false British identity by trolling graveyards for dead kids who would be around his age, if they had not died in the first place. Then get a hold of a copy of their birth certificate, and use that to apply for a British passport.

You’d think that once the book came out, the British government would make sure that they plugged the loophole that enabled issuance of British passports so easily. In fact, around the time the book came out, Mr Forsyth provided the government with a practical simple solution to plug the loophole. That was back in 1971.

Yet recently, a modern-day Jackal was discovered.

That's right: someone had taken on the identity on a dead child, and with this new identity had lived a normal life: married, had a son and a daughter, obtained a British passport, national insurance number and driving licence, worked as an IT consultant...

The fraud started to unravel in January this year, when the guy was stopped at Calais for a routine passport check while driving a hired car from Switzerland to the U.K. The check revealed that his passport had been revoked in 2003, during a trawl, which showed that it exactly matched the details of a dead child in the register of births, marriages and deaths. (Great, if nothing else the system *is* working, kinda: better to catch him AFTER the fraud than not at all,,, but even better to PREVENT the fraud in the first place!)

So now the the authorities have him in custody. I think he's been tried and convicted for fraud already. But he refuses to divulge who he really is. And the authorities have no idea where to begin to try to find out.

And how did I find out about this Jackal? By chance. Saw the headline of a British paper that my neighbour was reading on the LHR -> ZRH leg of my recent trip.

Pretty cool, eh?

Read more about this modern-day Jackal here and a little bit more here and here. A comprehensive story was also in an Indian newspaper, LOL!

Also found out that two movies were made from this book:
  • The ‘original’ followed the book pretty closely. This 1973 Film stars noone we know. It seems that Michael Caine lobbied for the role of "The Jackal", but director Fred Zinnemann did not want a movie star in the role as he thought that using a recognizable face such as Caine's in the role of a man who essentially is and remains a cipher would reduce the suspense felt by the audience. Thus, Zinneman offered the role to the lesser known Edward Fox , a move he reportedly regretted when the movie did disappointing business at the box office
  • The more recent one (The Jackal, 1997) adapted the premise to that of an attempted assassination of the Director of the FBI, with the assassin hired by a Russian mobster. And an IRA sniper is released to hunt down the Jackal because he's the only one who's caught a glimpse of the Jackal. Cast includes Richard Gere & Bruce Willis.
If I’m bored, I may see if they are available from the library :-)

~~

a little aside: woke up feeling like crap, for the second day in a row :p but this time I *did* get more than 6 hrs sleep! *sigh* and it's definitely colder outside, which makes me oh so reluctant to head for the gym. So I may vegetate indoors today. Yay.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

additions to the "family"

If you take a look at the list of blogs and stuff over on the left sidebar, you may notice that the numbers there have increased quite a bit!

It's great timing: I was really jonesing for new good blogs to read, after havivng pretty much exhausted my current list. Happened to login to Technorati, just to see who had linked to me recently. And found that I now appeared in a page of Random Reading, which seems to be a personal blog directory of sorts.

Well, I took it as divine intervention! Or some sort of sign, lah!

I am going thru the links on that page (right now, am at "D"), and any blogs that seem worth revisiting, I add to my own blogroll list. So, for those who are stopping by wondering how and why I'm linking to ya: now u know! :-)

(that's how I came up with a selection of Malaysian bloggers to link to, too: from the MyCen directory)

So, if *you* are in a blog drought, and don't know where in the www to go, try out my new links, or head over to the Random Reading page and click away!

Enjoy!

a tribute to Linky & Dinky

Well, actually it's more like me featuring some of their funnier/kookier links they've highlighted in the past month or so...
Take another look at comic book covers, and have a laugh.

Take another look at everyday items - at 20,000x magnification! What's even cooler is the little paragraph on each item featured. Entertaining AND educational!

I wasn't a fan of hairy chests till Kosh. For those who would prefer to wax off some chest hair, I present you with the opportunity. Online. To "do" David Hasselhoff! Wax on, wax hoff. LMAO!

In switzerland, I saw vending machines that sold Magic, Yu-Gi-Oh and other trading card games. One food & Beverage vending machine had CANNABIS TEA, I kid you not! In a similar vein, this site has pix of an amazing variety of vending machines found in Japan, including "used schoolgirl panties"!!.

40 things that only happen in movies (e.g. When you turn out the light to go to bed, everything in you room will still be visible, just slightly bluish; or You will survive any battle in any war UNLESS you show someone a picture of your sweetheart back home). Love it!

Find out when you are going to die. It's a flash thingy, and you need to fill in some basic information. Pretty cool!

And for those who tip poorly: you may be in the sh*tty tipper database! Or, if you are curious, you could see if any of your fave celebrities are in there. I looked up Tom Cruise (no, he's not a fave of mine, but yes, he's there). Who will YOU look up?
And for those who don't know, Linky & Dinky (and their fearless Internauts) forage the web each week, looking for useful, bizarre and fun web sites. You can visit them at their page, or sign up for the "newsletter".

To me it's more miss than hit, but occasionally they unearth some gems :-)

Enjoy!.

Good News: 10 years later the Marvel is confirmed!

Date: May 1995
Event: Chemistry Department graduation ceremony

To my utter and complete surprise, it was announced I was among the five(?) people receiving a departmental award issued to the top 10% (?) of Undergraduate Theses submitted for that year.

I was given a copy of a letter informing a past recepient of the award, and was told this was just a sample, I'd get a proper one addressed to me later. The letter also said the award came with a gift of USD 200 (?).
Notice the all the (?)'s? Can you guess what's coming?

I never did get anything to confirm that what I remembered from the graduation ceremony was not just a dream.
Do you know, I never dared even put the award on my resume because I had no proof of being a recipient of that award. At least I *could* put that I graduated "with distinction", which you get by default if you did that Thesis thing. Which was what I was targetting for anyway. The extra award was just that, extra, but still, if I got it, I should be SURE I got it, right?

Okay, sure, I was an International Student, and maybe things slip through the cracks... but still... not with a university like UIUC??!! After all, I was in the U.S. for about a month after graduation, and had forwarded any correspondance to my then-bf's place. He would then forward to me in Malaysia, if needed. Nothing ever came.

Fast forward a few years later.

I know I wrote the Chemistry Department, it may have been around 1997. Snail mail (E-mail was still in its infancy then). No word back. I wonder if it reached the Chem Dept. I wonder if anyone cared. I wonder if I will ever get confirmation of this award.

Fast forward: March 2004
In the early days of me & Kosh, I took time off from work and visit for about 2 weeks. While I was on campus, I dropped by the Chem Office to see if there was any way to get some closure about this award. What I got was essentially a brush-off, and was told to contact someone in the Records Deprtment. I left the office feeling weird, like all disappointed and unhappy with the lack of helpfulness; as a result I just didn't feel like following-up, so I let it be. {To Kosh's puzzlement. He learnt not to ask / push or bring up the topic. Poor him. It's funny how people (in this case the person at the Chem Office) can act in such a way as to color MY outlook for a while.}

Fast forward: Last week (early Nov 2005)
I pass the Office of Records & Admissions is on my to the gym.
One day, my feet bring me to its entrance.

I am surprised at how helpful the person I meet is. While she is surprised at my tale of how I was referred to this office by the Chem Dept because that's where I needed to be (maybe things changed in a year?), she still made a few calls, got some basic information down for me, so I could go back to the Chem Dept "armed" with my new student ID#, stuff like that.

So the next day I drop by the Chem Office, again go through my spiel of how I'd like to get confirmation of this award thingy. At least there was no effort to tai-chi me anywhere else. I was told they'd look into it, and would e-mail me back.

The next day, I get an email:

We did some checking and where [sic] able to confirm that you had received the Marvel Award.
Please stop by the office, as I have a certificate for you to pick up.


Whoohooo! After over ten years, it's finally confirmed!

It's really not worth more than a line on a resume, which if I ever get around to updating, will show that I've strayed oh so far away from Chem research, but still...

... and that, my friend, is what you call CLOSURE.

Kinda.

There's still Phase Two, or SHOW ME THE MONEY!

That's gonna be another post., once I get another round of closure. Hopefully.

Stay tuned!

Monday, November 07, 2005

geographical ignorance?

Something about the Evansville tornado is amusing.

Not the tornado itself: in fact it's one of the worst tornados to hit in a long while, and I have seen the images of all that destruction on tv: not a pretty sight.

It's the fact that while this is a disaster that hit pretty close to where I am, noone has sms'ed me asking if I'm okay. (of course, this may not have been deemed newsworthy enough to be highlighted in the Malaysian media)

As opposed to when Katrina and other hurricanes hit states half the country away, and so many people asked how I was, was I affected by the hurricanes, etc etc.

While I appreciated the concern, I just *had* to reply that I was half a country away!

Okay, so I know that for many non-Americans, even if I say I'm in Urbana, Illinois, it means nothing to you. But still, surely you have *some* idea of where Chicago is in relation to the rest of the U.S.? After all, that's about the only way I can get anyone to have an inkling of my location here: I need to say "about a 3hr drive south from Chicago" before there's any hope of moving on in the conversation. And I've had this conversation with just about everyone.

So do me a favor: when news of hurricanes wreaking havoc hit the headlines back home, take a minute to see where that is happening, in relation to where I am, before sending frantic text messages, okay?

It's not that I don't appreciate the concern, but, well, you don't want me thinking you are an idiot, do you? Tee hee *grin!*

sharing of random dietary behaviours

Here are a random selection of behaviours I have tried, with various degrees of success, to incorporate into my lifestyle over the years.

Water:
  • Try to drink 500mL water as soon as I get out of bed
  • And to a lesser extent, try to drink maybe 250mL water before going to bed (getting up to pee in the middle of the night is a bother!)

Where did this come from? Well, I know I don’t drink enough water anyway. And when someone forwarded me that e-mail about this Dr from India (I think) who was advocating a “water diet,” well, it made some sense even with my grains of salt put in. He wasn’t saying to drink nothing but water lah, but he was saying we all didn’t drink enough water, and that “a lot of diseases could be cured if only we upped our water intake”. I remember he was recommending drinking a large bottle of water (1.5L) in the morning and before going to bed. No way! One morning I’d tried to force lots more water into me, and ended up puking water when brushing my teeth. No thanx. And an ex-officemate of mine declared that the only way to be able to stomach 1.5L before sleep is if you had a very light (and early) dinner. So yeah, in the end, I (attempt to) practice the gist of the water diet’s recommendations.

NOTE: this is probably the source of the email:


Fruits:
  • Take fruits (& raw vegetables) on an empty stomach
  • To a much lesser extent, take only fruits in the morning

This "fruits on an empty stomach" is one of those things that struck me when reading Fit For Life a long long time ago (1995, I believe).

For those who haven't heard of Fit For Life, well, I don't know how much you are missing... a lot of what the authors claim in their book sound kinda outta this world... and like so many diet/lifestyle books of that time, they use a lot of sensationalism and not much scientific support. But like any other book out there, it doesn't hurt to read and see the big picture, and get the main gist of what they are trying to say, and not get too bogged down in the details.

Anyway: so back to the fruits on an empty stomach thing. The authors were big into the whole food combining thing, and had this whole reasoning and justification to not mix protein and carbs when eating, because the combination is extremely difficult for the stomach to digest. So eating protein and veggies ok, carbs and veggies ok, but NOT protein and carbs. Wait... aren't veggies carbs? Just simpler / "good" carbs, but still carbs?? Uh-huh. You see where I had some trouble swallowing (haahaha) what they claimed...

So, it seems that fruits are so easily digested (within 20mins) if taken by themselves, with extraction of the full nutritional benefits; but if you take fruits after dinner, as dessert, or on an otherwise non-empty stomach, the fruits get processed together with the rest of your food... and that poor stomach that has to process all that protein / carbs is not going to be able to extract any of the fruit's nutritional value.

Yeah. Not sure I buy all that reasoning. But somehow I *do* like the idea of taking raw fruits/veggies on an empty stomach, for easier digestion. SO I try to practice that. However, this has sometimes resulted me in me NOT eating them instead… when I’m really hungry and want something substantial I’ll probably grab something substantial (bread, cheese, cup-o-pasta, whatever), and only once I am munching on that do I contemplate a salad, but won’t take it cos my tummy's "non-empty". Kinda why the ready-to-eat salad in a bag is SUCH a great idea: leaves me less excuse to not grab a bowl of greens first :-)

And related to that too: If someone loads my plate with let’s say spaghetti&meatballs, and THEN asks me if I want salad with that, on that same loaded plate: my answer is NO. I’d rather not literally mix the greens with the other stuff. So I’d clear some of the plate, and only then allow the salad on there. Of course, it then violates the eating salad first, so I’m not a happy camper.

Ah, the rituals one develops over time.... :p


Protein:
  • Try to have carbs/protein Zone-balanced, or at least, to have protein in a meal
Before you start wondering why I would need to make it a point to have protein in a meal, let me explain that in Malaysia it is all too easy to go for days without eating any real protein. Think about it:
  • roti canai is just carbs & grease unless you order roti telur, and, well, I think that’s still a hopelessly unbalanced meal.
  • If you take chicken fried rice, that’s a HUGE amount of carbs and just a smattering of chicken!
  • Okay, so if you take nasi lemak with chicken, you get half a boiled egg, chicken plus the fried anchovies so that's more protein than usual, but is that enough to offset the “fatty rice”? And yeah, it’s all the “wrong / bad” carbs too!
At one point, during my Zone-strict days, I would just order a piece of fried chicken, and figure that my glass of the tarik would provide more than enough bad carbs to Zone-balance thath “meal”.

Yes, at one point, I was very much into the Zone lifestyle. Unfortunately the uphill battle of finding Zone-friendly meals in Malaysia, plus friends who totally pooh-poohed and did not support my efforts to eat properly, and my discovery of the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf’s Ultimate Vanilla Ice Blended all contributed to my decline :-(


Carbs:
  • More fruits & veggies
  • less processed carbs like pasta, bread, pastries, ice cream… {yeah right!}
Well, I * try *!! But I certainly do suffer from rewarding myself with food, or having some comfort food in mind when I’m feeling down. DQ’s Srawberry Cheesecake or French Vanilla blizzards! Ben & Jerry’s Dublin Mudslide! Entenman’s Cheese Danish! MmmmMmmMmMMMMmmmMMm!

I certainly am not a fan of rice: growing up in a country where too many people are just too hung up about getting their rice every day, where we were forced to eat a heavy rice meal late every night when my father got back from his golf game, I’m more than happy to go without it! And I’m not a big fan of pasta either tho I prefer it bigtime over rice. And bread: not a big fan of the sliced crap stuff. But like when I was in Switzerland recently, the habit of eating bread, and copious amounts, emerged from outta nowhere. Helped that it was all real bead, and fresh daily! Dangerous, that… cos with the bread I would then have honey / jam & butter… things that I usually can go forever without :p

But anyways... if you take a step back from the various diets out there today, you'll see a common thread:
  • reduce consumption of bad carbs & starches
  • increase consumption of fresh fruits & veggies
  • exercise regularly

That's right: nothing earth-shattering at all.

And I'm doing all that.
Kinda.
The exercise is the toughest to keep practicing... but since I've been back from Switzerland, so far so good :-)

the mind is a wonderful thing

Me & Kosh were at the gym about a month ago, getting ready for a round of racquetball, when this song started playing on the building's overhead speakers:
I got a little change in my pocket
Goin ching-a-ling-a-ling
Wanna call you on the telephone, baby
Give you a ring
But each time we talk
I get the same old thing
Always, "No huggee, no kissee
Until I get a wedding ring."
Oh, my honey, my baby
Don't put my love upon no shelf
She said, "Don't hand me no lines
And keep your hands to yourself."
Me: OMG!! This song!!!
And proceed to sing along, wide beaming smile on my face..
B-b-baby, baby, baby
Why you gonna treat me this way?
You know I'm still your loverboy
I still feel the same way
Thats when she told me a story
About free milk and a cow
She said, "No huggee, no kissee
Until I get a wedding vow."
Oh, my honey, my baby
Don't put my love upon no shelf
She said, "Don't hand me no lines
And keep your hands to yourself."
I felt like I was back in high school!
I really loved this song - the drawwwwl of the singer, the hick guitar...
I think the music video featured a shotgun wedding or something, too!

Now.. if only I could remember who sang this song!!
See I wanted her real bad
And I was about to give in
Thats when she started talking about true love
Started talking about sin
I said, "Honey, I'll live with you for the rest of my life."
She said, "No huggee, no kissee
Until you make me a wife."
Oh, my honey, my baby
Don't put my love upon no shelf
She said, "Don't hand me no lines
And keep your hands to yourself."
My mind musta been working on that question subconsciously... cos a few days ago, I suddenly felt like the answer was at the tip of my tongue.. then out of nowhere, it popped into my head. Incredulously, I said it out loud:

The Georgia Satellites!


No I know nothing about that group. But it's nice to know that little bit of information about them and that one song I know is still stored somewhere in my brain.

Even if it *did* take a few weeks to get to it!

Four and a half!

Yes, four and a half! That's the answer!!!

Ooooookay, so what's the question?

Take a look at the pic below, then take a wild guess:


Actually the exact answer is 4.43. People. Needed. To tip a cow!

Now, I've heard mention of cow-tipping, and I think it's been featured in a few movies. It's one of these all-American drunk adolescent rural pastimes, or so we've been told. Or is it all an urban (rural?) legend??

Anyway, so someone actually took the time to figure out just how a cow could be tipped.
Do they have nothing else better to do?

But appreciate the laugh I got out of it!

Tip o' the hat to this morning's The Daily Buzz on WB. And if you want to read more, HERE's an article for ya. Enjoy!

Sunday, November 06, 2005

it's a KFC Sunday / AAirlines / books galore

Yeah, after a healthy early breakfast and early lunch, I had a hankering for some "bad" stuff, so went and got myself some KFC. And yes, I ate the skin too. I rarely do that, tho, if that makes it a little bit more forgivable :p

Finished another book today. Okay okay, I admit, I didn't exactly read every single word: where the descriptions and stuff seemed to be getting a bit long, I just skimmed till things got more interesting *grin!*

What book was it this time? Good Morning Darkness by Ruth Francisco.
If the author sounds familiar, that may be because I already mentioned having discovered her debut novel in a store in switzerland a few weeks ago. I knew she had a second book out, and I wanted to follow-up and see if she's improved any from her first outing. The answer is a resounding YES. Pity this book doesn't involve the deathmaiden from the first book. I would hope that she'll bring back that character in her later works.

This book is pretty well written: lots of twists & turns right up till the very end! What *i* thought was a straighforward whodunnit turned out to be not so straight after all! For that alone, the book is already worth a read. I don't wanna say more, or I may spoil it for ya :p

Other topics:

I finally remembered to share what the airline said in response to my complaint about not getting my preferred seat assignment, nor getting any warning about it from the check-in personnel. Here's three lines from the response:
Our records indicate that your seat was reassigned in accordance with routine security procedures. This activity is standard on occasion. Unfortunately, however, in an effort to maintain the integrity of the inflight security process, we cannot provide more specific information.
Great. What am I supposed to make of that? My name triggered fears that I would try to hijack the plane, so they made sure it would be awkward for me to do so my placing me in a non-aisle seat? Seriously. What *am* I supposed to make of their response? Sheesh.

Moving on.

Got a book waiting for me at the library: The Iron Tree by Cecilia Dart-Thornton. I'd discovered her with her Bitterbynde trilogy (excellent, tho the ultimate ending was a bit of a letdown. But read it anyway!), and knew she was working on another (unrelated) trilogy. Then forgot. The when wandering around Zurich airport on my way back to the U.S., I saw The Iron Tree in a bookstore. Yikes, it's out already? So I "ordered" it (I just *love* this library!), and will be devouring it soon. I hope it's as good as the Bitterbynde... you'll find out soon enough :D

And since I feel like it: here's a list of other books I thought might be read-worthy, that I saw in ZRH and DFW airports (many of which I already forgot about, good thing I jotted them down into my phone!!):

If any of you have read any of the above, or have anything to share about them, please feel free to tell me via the comments section, ok? Thanx!!

Cheerio!

take the weather with you

Blogger, or this browser, had some problems last night... the article I typed kept "disappearing" when I hit the draft / publish buttons. It was so frustrating. And I'd remember, then forget, to do "copy all" before hitting either of those buttons, so I'd lose it all, retype, lose it again... I gave up.

So, sorry dear reader, you were robbed of a blog entry last nite.

Moving on.

The storm with tornado-potential that was supposed to hit yesterday afternoon hit around midnight instead. No tornados tho, me glad! I had hit the sack but was not yet asleep-asleep, keeping an ear out for the sound of rain & thunder and wind. I like the majesty of mother nature it all her stormy glory :-) But it was probably this same system that hit Indiana around 2am, and generated tornados there: 15 dead according to the article I just found.

Yesterday ended up being a day of rest for me: the sky was overcast all day, and it rained sporadically throughout. And it was cold(er). So I didn't do that walk to the sauna as planned. Stayed in and finished a book instead.
Villains by Necessity by Eve Forward
Having read oh so many fantasy novels, which at the heart is almost always a tale of good struggling against evil, this book is in a similar vein, yet it has a different enough take on the subject that kept me going. In a land where the forces of Good actually managed not only to defeat Evil, but eradicate Evil from the land, such an unnatural imbalance of Good & Light may well lead to the destruction of the land itself! It ends up that a band of accidental traveling companions, who seem to be the last remaing "evil" people in the world, to bring Evvil back, in order to bring the world back into balance. I found the book simple. Yes, it was different, but simple. I think I would have appreciated this tale much more in my younger, less sophisticated days, before Robert Jordan, before George R R Martin, before King's Dark Tower series. But still. It's a pleasant enough read.
Plans for today? Well, the weather's still iccky: looks like a light drizzle, and lots of strong wind. Maybe I'll stay in again today. Tomorrow & Tuesday it's supposed to be up in the 70'sF, can you believe it? The weather's really confused!

We'll see if I can post this without any heartache...
(Yep, heartache central! something is REALLY wrong??!! I'm trying this now with the Internet Explorer for Mac as opposed to Safari. No firefox on this one, unfortunately)

Cheerio!

Friday, November 04, 2005

blogworthy tv

Two noteworthy, or at least blogworthy, things I watched on TV recently.

1. Online predators @ Dateline
It featured a setup where people posing as teenage boys / girls alone at home while the family is out of town get propositioned by guys in chatrooms, and these guys actually end up coming to the house for sex… only to find the Dateline guy there, camera and all, everything on tape… I bet their balls just totally shriveled up once they realized they were * not * getting that night of sex with that teenage boy/girl!

Is it a sign on my cynicism and world-weariness that I am not surprised that many of these people were so-called pillars of the community? A rabbi & a special-ed teacher were among those who turned up at the house.

And what about that guy who, as requested by the “young boy”, stripped nekkid before entering the house? He said this was the first time he’d ever done this etc etc (yeah, uh-huh…), and was so relieved to get outta there… then guess that? The next day, he’s on the prowl again! So they set up another meet again, this time to meet at a local McD… I would like to know what was going through his mind when instead of the yummy boy he “ordered”, he once again came face-to-face with the Dateline guy. “Man, I just came here to get something to eat!” he kept saying. When he already knows from the night before that they had the printout of the (s)explicit chat he had had setting up the “date”.

I was wondering about the state of this country (and the world to a lesser extent), where you can have NINETEEN “hits” over the span of three days: nineteen different people in one area of Washington (I think) eagerly turning up at a house in the hopes of getting sex with a teenager.

How many predators are out there in the whole country?

And how many real teenagers find themselves in situations which then scar them for life?

And, while the target audience for this episode was probably the parents of teenagers, I wonder just how internet-savvy the parents are, and whether the contents of this episode were actually new to them.

And, I wonder how many parents actually have channels of communication with their children that would enable discussions relating to what is/isn’t allowed for the kid, internet-wise.

Oh, and another thing about this episode of Dateline: they blatantly showed the faces of the people who turned up at the house. No protection of their identity. No pixelation of faces. No messing with their voices. Nothing. I’m just curious, in this country steeped in protecting the rights of everyone, is this actually allowed??

So. While I’m not shocked per se by the episode that was aired tonight, I certainly wonder just how many predators are out there… how do we stop, or at least reduce, the number of predators out there… and I don’t mean simply finding/jailing them: while needed, that’s just treating a symptom… what has caused these people to have these deviant sexual urges in the first place? How to we put a stop at the true root causes? There’s that whole nature vs nurture thing, but I think a lot of it is nurture, how they are brought up, what happened to them in their formative years, how their parents interacted with each other, how the parents interacted with the kids, etc etc etc…

And how do you go into every family and tell them that they are raising their kids right/wrong?

I think so many of us are walking around with “the sins of our fathers” on our shoulders, with emotional baggage we sometimes don’t even realize we have until something triggers us to behave in a certain way, and you are shocked at how you respond, but it takes only a moment of reflection to figure out why you did what you did. Chances are it’s a behaviour of your parents’ you swore you would never emulate, yet, you just did.

So. Yeah. If you have teenagers, and you have yet to talk to them about the very real danger of sexual predators prowling around chatrooms, please do so, okay?

2. Get Up Stand Up @ PBS
This was a 2hr show about protest songs & music, through the times. Started with folk-type songs describing the work conditions of early workers being taken advantage of by the large rich barons. Then the Civil rights movement. Anti-war protests wrt Vietnam. Anti-establishment. All these featured specific songs, as well as singers/personalities strongly tied in with the movements (there were so many I didn’t know from the older era; others would be Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, John Lennon).

More recently, there were benefit concerts (Concert for Bangladesh, Live Aid, Farm Aid, Artists Against Apartheid, AIDS) for all sorts of causes, but to me we are lacking true “protest” songs. We * do* have the personalities like Bob Geldof and Bono, I suppose. I felt so out of touch with the world when watching that segment... so many of these things happened during my time, but I was a bit too young to know what was going on, plus living a very sheltered life dictated by both my parents AND the Malaysian government.

There was also a section on hip-hop & rap, and how that is the expression of the black voice. That was about the only segment that I could have done without: I just do not relate to that genre… I listen to Eminem, yes, but many argue that he’s not black, so his is not a true “voice”. Yeah, whatever. HE has a melody somehow somewhere (plus a brilliant sense of humor. In a sick kind of way).

And they briefly touched on how there has been practically silence wrt 9/11, a silence broken by Bruce Springsteen’s recent release. Speculated about not wanting to “offend” the thousands of people affected by the 9/11 tragedy. I dunno, I think it’s probably more on not knowing which side to take cos they’d get flak from the other two or three fronts (we shall overcome vs f*ck Bush vs kill all Muslims vs it’s all a conspiracy), and maybe not wanting to be visited by Homeland Security agents? Idle speculation, of course :p

my weekend plans

Activity update:
25min walk to gym
30min cross-training program on an elliptical thingy @ 220cal
1x10, 1x7 @ 30lbs bicep curls (weird that I had trouble with this: I blame the machine!)
2x15 @ 30lbs tricep pushdowns
25min walk back
15min walk to/from BBQ place to get RIBS!

Tomorrow’s plan:
1hr (?) walk to “other” gym on other side of campus
Treat myself to ~30min sauna!
1hr (?) walk back

Today has been unusually warm, and we’re going to pay for it tomorrow, so it seems. The weather forecast for tomorrow afternoon is severe thunderstorms, maybe strong enough to generate tornados! Fun. So will carry out my sauna trip in the morning, just to make sure I’m back holed up in the apartment well before any drops start to fall!

May need to give myself a break on Sunday, cos I wonder just how much I’m going to “activate” my shins with my planned walk tomorrow!

For South Park fans :-)

LMAO!! I am holding my sides laughing so hard!!

And it's all Samantha Burns' fault (see South Park, Virginia?)! Or maybe it's Kevin's.

What am I talking about? click on the links above and find out!

On a related note: nowhere near as funny, but still funny lah... I remember me & Kosh just bursting out in laughter when we saw a one-word advertisement for Jimmy John's on a passing bus:
JIMMMMMAY!

quickie @ Paris

I'm aghast... I happened to pick up a newspaper today and saw pictures of riots in Paris.

Riots in Paris???


It seems it's been going on since ~ Oct 27th : that's 8 days already, and I only hear about it today?

And as I get online now, I see one headline on the Yahoo! main page about Paris riots.

Is today the first time this particular piece of news breaks it into the u.s. news system?

I have caught the tv news once or twice, but usually the local news (as opposed to "national" news)... but that usually doesn't stop them from covering big events like these... Then again, I often forget that the Americans rarely think anything outside of their own borders is worth reporting on...

And I'm disappointed at the online news too.. usually I scan the headlines on the Yahoo main page... again, only today do I see anything about Paris.

Anyway... I am pissed off that I never knew anything about this till now. So I will be reading up on this.

So there.

Will post more later.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

taxes, bones, semen and lizards, oh my!

I was amazed to read about just how transparent Finland is! Wow, it would be a total challenge for Malaysia to even think about being 5% as transparent!! What am I talking about? Click HERE to find out about their tax records being a matter of public record.

"Bones" for real?: An intriguing Tale From the Crypt, courtesy of the WashingtonPost.com, about the long tale of trying to see if a skull that had been sitting on a shelf in D.C. Council member Jim Graham's office for a year and half is that of William Wirt. See HERE.

Theft of Bull Semen: I'm reminded of the joke of the people who rob the (sperm) bank and are disappointed not to find any money but gladly help themselves to all that "pudding" ... do you think these thieves thought it was pudding too?

Another lizard in a toilet.. Samm, did you start a trend? This one was carnivorous, though, unlike yours (thankfully!!)

activity update & ribs!!

Today was a very sluggish day...

Woke up with a slight pain in my right ankle, limped around a bit before it wore off.

Later, was all dressed up for the gym, but just sat there, just not liking the idea of going to the gym. *sigh* Dragged myself out anyway.

But decided to go run an errand at the Chemistry Department instead. Then walked right past the gym... and was totally NOT tempted to enter. So I didnt.

Still got a 1hr walk out of the whole thing, so not too bad lah.

But..... in order to "earn" my X-hot BBQ beef ribs (only available on Fridays at the nearby BBQ place, yum!!), tomorrow I will have to go the gym first, and only swing by the BBQ place on the way back.

Mmmmmmmmmmmmm I am drooling thinking about them ribs!

*stomach rumbles*


Yikes, am getting hungry again :p guess my weird salad thing is starting to wear off.

Weird salad thing?

Yeah, well yesterday I gave the kitty her tuna treat as I chopped half a red, green and yellow pepper (capsicum) and 1/3 large red onion. Surprisingly large volume, totally filled the bowl I was going to use... so I split it into two. Mixed in the tuna and two spoons of mayo, and there was my dinner.

For the "extra / leftover" veggies: today, I decided to mix in one chopped green apple, and some of my yummy roasted garlic vinaigrette. Imagine: peppers, onions, apples ina vinaigrette. It was definitely... interesting :) Had that with a beef burger patty and a slice of cheese and half a slice of bagel.

Hmmm that was about 6 hours ago, so I should get some food in me.

Will head back soon (am in library right now).

Cheerio!

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

will you look at yoghurt the same way again?

Did you hear about a recent recommendation by Mark Spigelman of the University College London Centre for Infectious Diseases and International Health?

Rather than upping the "power" of antibacterial soaps (which actually encourage the mutation of bacteria into more and more resistant strains), he suggests washing hands with yoghurt instead.

The reason? "crowd" your skin with neutral/good bacteria so that "bad" bacteria doesn't settle there, rather than trying to kill all bacteria on your hands and in actuality opening up your skin to be inhabited by the "bad" bacteria.

I'm thinking the hospitals can have fun with this,,, each day is a different flavour of yoghurt used: I thought today was monday but my yoghurt wash is blueberry flavoured so it must be Thursday! Where *has* the time flown?

What will be next: yoghurt as a poultice on wounds?

~~
I heard about this on the news yesterday, but surprisingly haven't found much on the net yet, except for articles in the medical-related areas like THIS, THIS and THIS.

Apples & Pears?

I’m sure we’ve all heard about apple- and pear-shaped people, where the apple is a common shape for men who store their excess body fat around their middle while many women store excess body fat around their hips and thighs, giving them a “pear” look.

But we also know that there are many apple-shaped women, pear-shaped men, and again many in-between.

Have you wondered WHY these apples & pears happen? After all, if you think about it, the description is, well, based on what is seen. It doesn’t explain why Martha is a pear, Jane an apple, or Madge this waif who never seems capable of gaining weight.

Many years ago, I came across a book (Dr Abravanel’s Body Type Diet and Lifetime Nutrition Plan) which explains the above as caused by dominant yet exhausted glands in your body. Different exhausted glands cause excess body fat to be stored in different parts of your body. To treat it, we need to stop stimulating that dominant glad: stimulate the other glands in order to give the dominant one a rest. How how is all this stimulation achieved? Through food, of course.

Kosh, my own personal medical student, has not heard about this – kinda figures… I mean, the whole medical institution teaches its students to treat symptoms anyway plus it is so entrenched that new/different ideas take a long time to be accepted.

The four body types are:
G (Gonad) (females only): Craves rich & spicy food; when viewed from the back, accumulates excess weight on lower hips and outer thighs; has cellulite mainly on rear and saddlebags. Usually has disproportionately smaller upper body, lower body/legs much stronger. Tends to exercise lower body, which increases the disproportion. Should drink copious amounts of red clover tea.

A (Adrenal): (Classic “apple”) Craves greasy, salty food; when viewed from the back, accumulates excess weight high on the body: shoulders & back; has cellulite mainly on stomach, back, upper arms. Tends to exercise to enhance natural strength, and puts on muscle readily. Loves weight-lifting. However, body lacks flexibility, and is usually poor in eye-hand coordination. Should drink copious amounts of parsley tea.

T (Thyroid): Craves sweets or starches; when viewed from the back, accumulates excess weight in the middle of the body: spare tyre, wide hips, heavy upper thighs; has cellulite mainly on thighs. Ia a natural athlete, but has low endurance: tends to go for exercise in spurts, i.e. tennis, as opposed to long-distance running. Should drink copious amounts of raspberry leaf tea.

P (pituitary): Craves dairy products; when viewed from the back, accumulates excess weight pretty much all over, no one specific spot; cellulite mainly around the knees. Looks childlike, without a really defined shape. Usually likes long-distance running, but does it for the high: needs to avoid repetitive exercises that allow “spacing out.” Should drink copious amounts of fenugreek tea.
Of course, if you want to know more, get the book lah. Or start at the official website: http://www.bodytypes.com/. All I did was take maybe 5% of the info in the book, so those who have never heard of it get a flavour of the contents.
Something that struck me when I went through this book was the author’s enthusiastic recommendation for an enema every few months to cleanse your bowels. I’ve heard of this elsewhere, but first time in a “proper” book, y’know? I dunno if I’d ever do it myself, sounds like a bother,,, and would I be able to do it alone, safely?? I have my doubts... Then again, I think Samm’s Colema Therapy thingy would achieve the same thing...

Another take-away is the “Long Weekend of Rejuvenation” where he recommends a few times a year to take a 3-day weekend away alone, no talking to anyone, totally out of contact with everyone. Spend the day in meditation, walks, light exercise, eating only simple food. I think the enema is one of the activities during this weekend. Overall, it’s like a mental detox in addition to the physical detox we’ve all probably seen & heard and maybe even gone through ourselves. I like the idea of this, just because in general we are all too busy running around driving ourselves to exhaustion… anything that strongly recommends that we stop and smell the flowers is already on the right track, I think.

Anyways, why am I telling you all this?

If anyone can point me to where I can buy loose raspberry leaves (or red clover, for that matter) for my tea, I’d appreciate it. (In case you scrolled up to see which body types those teas refer to: yes, I seem to be a very close tie between G and T body types).

And why am I bothering with the teas? Well, thanx to my trip to Switzerland, I’ve gotten in the habit of drinking tea again. And I might as well drink something herbal and beneficial rather than just plain black tea, eh? I found a tea that contains red clover as one of its main ingredients, and am taking that maybe twice daily. I’m not “putting my hopes on losing weight” on the tea, but at the same time I know it will probably do me much more good than that can of soda, y’know? Or that cup of coffee! With the weather turning cold, a cup of hot tea is just right to keep me warm inside, mmmmmm!

~~
activities for the day:
1. 25min walk to gym
2. 30mins rowing @ 225 cals
3. triceps pushdown: 1 x 15 @ 30lbs, 1x15 @ 50lbs
4. 20min walk from gym to library (I'm here now!)
5. 10min walk library to apartment
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Oh, and I believe that it's now the end of fasting, and thus Malaysia and the other nations with Muslim populations will be celebrating Aidil Fitri. My greetings and well wishes to Muslim readers. :-)

Read my "raya" thoughts last year, HERE.

NewJourney gives a nice overview HERE.
~~

Anyways, have a great day, people!

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

You can tune a piano, but you can't tuna fish!

Yesterday I opened a can of baked beans.

Kitty rushed to the kitchen, and started mewling and begging ... reaching for the countertop... making a total nuisance of herself

When I put down the emptied can on the floor to sniff, she gave me this hurt and disappointed look, and sulked for a while.

Why?

Cos she thinks every can being opened is a can of tuna.
Cos she gets the "tuna water" everytime we open a can of tuna.

I felt kinda bad seeing just how enthusiastic she was... so this morning I made it a point to put a can of tuna and the can opener on the kitchen counter, to remind me that if I had no immediate food choices for the day, it wouldn't hurt to do a tuna dish.

Eh. Ended up craving carbs more than protein: had bagel. and pizza. yum :p

She may get her "treat" tomorrow then :)

~~

I *did* have a healthy breakfast of what I've decided to call "appled salad"

There's this bag of green apples that's been sitting in the fridge since forever.

I'm one of those who likes fruits, but it's gotta be calling my name, then I'll eat it... otherwise it can stay till it rots ... I've felt bad about that poor bag of untouched apples... and when, during the time I was with my bro in switzerland, he prepared his salads with diced apples mixed in, I knew I'd found inspiration on how to utilise that bag o' apples. whoohooo!

Granted, having a roasted garlic vinaigrette dressing with the apples is a bit weird at first, but then again, it's not bad at all!

~~

LOL! Seeing me type "not bad" reminds me: Kosh's dad had a slight problem with my describing his vodka tonic as "not bad" this past weekend: not used to someone not apeaking direct/bluntly, i suppose. Well, it's probably ingrained in me not to "commit" to anything, even to something I like... so saying "it's not bad" is actually pretty good for me. How did such a habit get ingrained? I think it's all about the upbringing... feeling as if I'm better off not commiting to anything otherwise it can be used against me. Yeah, weird childhood I had. Have already had some discussions with Kosh on that, but i've yet to be able to explain myself much beyond that. If I get some inspiration, I'll probably blog about it. If/When I have enough fodder for a proper article :p

~~

See y'all tomorrow!

happy deepavali

I believe today is Deepavali: the Indian Hindu Festival of Lights. Read more about it HERE to expand your cultural knowledge :D

~~
Activities for today:
1. 40mins very low impact aerobics at home
2. 10mins 2x15 bicep curls, shoulder press, tricep curls
3. 10min walk to library
4. 10min walk back from library

I feel kinda limited cos a package is supposed to arrive today: Stephen King's Dark Tower#7, paperback version, which just got released. If I'm not there to receive it, it'll be a bother to get a re-delivery but worse if I have to somehow go pick it up myself, what with no car and all :p

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Aaaanyways : I am a little behind on e-mails ... patience... it's the holiday season anyway in KL so I bet lots of you are not going to be online for almost a week :p What with Deepavali followed by Aidil Fitri, I know KL's a ghost town right now :D

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And after yesterday's wet wet halloween, today is a bright bright bright sunshine-y day! At times like these I wish the psycho kitty was a dog and not a cat, cos going for extended walks with a doggie in this weather would be just awesome!

Kosh kinda infected me with a malaise of not wanting to walk unless we actually have a destination in mind, teehee, not really his fault lah but yeah, it's not like in my grandma's swiss village where the walk up the mountain will bring you to a little farm/restaurant where you can get a bite to eat/drink before making your way down again... here's all flat anyway... bleah...

But hey, with the nice weather that's forecasted to last for at least a week, maybe I can get a round or two of tennis?? Gotta call & try and set that up... :D

~~
Yeah, nothing much else to "report" or blog about at this time... will be checking a few books out of the library to keep me company. Oh - I don't feel so guilty anymore about returning the WoT#11 late: I checked and saw that another copy has been due back since Oct 20th! Yay, I'm not as mean as that person :D

Okay.. signing off now.. type at y'all in a day or two :)
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