Thursday, April 29, 2010

Tweet tweet!

So last night was my first ever tweet-up in Malaysia!

Getting to the venue (Makcik chicken wing in front of Lee Hin Motor, Sunway Mentari) wasn't too bad, but genius that I am I'd gotten myself there but hadn't taken note of the exact place to go, thankfully @kruel74 had had the foresight to give me his h/p # earlier: a quick sms and he came to get me from where I was waiting: I was just like half a block away only... but omg ramainya orang??!! I think at our peak we were 5 tables' worth of people (about 20 pax?)... and y'all know me and my aversion to stranger overload...

So I ended up sitting at one end of the tables, and of the many people there, talked a bit with @dilaariff @brenkenlee @flyguy729 @azri83 @euveng --- later @loveykatz joined us at that end ... also there but not really talked with (totally me!) were @altimet @rararawr @icednyior @kazwan @rainingheaven.

The weather was really muggy though, sometimes I felt I could barely breathe in the thick air... so much so that I made three bad decisions that I'm still paying for today... ugh ... read more about that here... The chicken wings were good, a bit oily but also sweet... I was too warm to eat much tho. If I end up there again I'll try the koey teow, it looked amazingly good :)

It was great to put faces to @loveykatz and @kruel74, and to have the opportunity to meet folks who would otherwise be strangers, but are united via the geekness of Twitter and foursquare :) Here's to more tweet-ups before I leave!

Photos? I didn't take any.. there were plenty taken tho, so hopefully I'll get to steal one or tw to feature here soon, so check back in a day or two, k?

If you liked this post, please consider subscribing to my feedor subscribing via email. I'm on Twitter too!

Monday, April 26, 2010

umm... oops?

(Hat Tip to Edenza)

The Dante's Inferno Test has banished you to the Seventh Level of Hell!
Here is how you matched up against all the levels:
Purgatory (Repenting Believers)Very Low
Level 1 - Limbo (Virtuous Non-Believers)Moderate
Level 2 (Lustful)Moderate
Level 3 (Gluttonous)High
Level 4 (Prodigal and Avaricious)Very Low
Level 5 (Wrathful and Gloomy)Low
Level 6 - The City of Dis (Heretics)Low
Level 7 (Violent)Very High
Level 8- the Malebolge (Fraudulent, Malicious, Panderers)High
Level 9 - Cocytus (Treacherous)Moderate

Take the Dante's Inferno Hell Test

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Sifting through memories...

Hey, remember Kosh and I having to move twice in two months last year? That’s when we couldn’t deny that we had WAAAAY too much stuff... and a lot of it were HIS things, not mine or ours, so it was easy for me to nag/hint/cajole/threaten him to get rid of the stuff... but I knew I was just as guilty as he was, the only difference was my stuff was halfway around the world.

This trip back, one of my goals was to downsize even further whatever stuff I’ve been holding on to. I’ve already set aside a whole big bag’s worth of tee shirts, office pants, and other random items to give away. Then I stumbled across a shoebox of my cassettes.... including my mix tapes from high school and college. I’m assuming they are unplayable, but will give them all a spin for old time’s sake. More importantly, however, I will be documenting them all here before getting rid of them, so that I have a record of the songs I used to listen to 2 decades ago. So please bear with me over the next few many posts, k? I’ll plan to have pix too, once I figure out the best way to get them uploaded.

= = =

Btw I’ll be keeping pseudo-tabs on my food intake on my other/new blog, if you are interested in following along... this is where I was keeping a record of my April resolution of exercise and raw/lightly processed food intake, and I plan to continue to use IQ vs lbs as a place for more health- and weight loss-related posts, so bookmark/subscribe if you’re interested, k?

= = =

.... and just for the record, I showered FOUR times today! At 6am when I woke up; 11:30am after yoga; 5:30pm before heading out for a birthday party; at a little past midnight when I got back from said party. Yes, I needed each and every one of them. Humidity is F.U.N!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Less than a week to go!!

In a week's time, I should be gasping for air trying to reacclimatize myself to the pollution and humidity of Malaysia. Fun! But on the bright side, I have all these distractions to look forward to!
  1. Choosing, writing and sending off postcards for the Postcard/Link Exchange of 2010 (registration is technically closed, but I'll gladly accept anyone who signs up before I get the address labels printed out this weekend!)
  2. Figuring out what Malaysia-themed gift to get for Steve.
  3. Showing TK-217 around KL.
  4. Participating in a proposed photo scavenger hunt, another kapgar brainchild!
  5. Food!!!! Nasi lemak BRJ. Nasi lemak Sri Steven's. Milo ice blended Sri Stevens. Teh tarik. Roti canai. Roti chanai Raju. Roti bakar. Kaya. ... and plenty more. I believe a friend of mine is treating me to beef ribs too, yummy!
  6. My school reunion!! There almost 100 attendees (excluding spouses/kids!!) to date, about 35 from my year alone. This is going to be waaaaay too big to be comfortable for me, but what the heck.
  7. Going to DFP with DZE to see Rachel perform!
  8. Tennis with my tennis mates! It keeps getting pushed further and further back, hopefully we manage to get a least ~one~ session in before I leave!
  9. Maybe even a torture session or two! I mentioned it a few times here and here, but today I dug out my one and only poor picture of how I looked after my first-ever session. In black and white you can kinda see the bruising better, I think. That's my huge-ass arm, btw - the bruised part is the triceps area. Ouch. Yes, I am a sadist. Or was it a masochist?
  10. Checking out and, if it seems like a gadget I'd be happy with, purchasing a dual-sim quad-band Malaysian-made Blackberry-wannabe.

... and a few others that I'll not share with ya, teeheehee, I gotta keep *some* things to myself, right?

Have a great weekend y'all!

Friday, April 09, 2010

Foody Friday: Dhal Bukhara

It's been a while since my last Foody Friday post! A big hold-up is the fact that my phone and PC tend to not want to communicate with each other via bluetooth, and I have my phone more handy than camera, so for a while now I've had overdue pix sitting in my phone, unable to get sent to the PC.

Yesterday, by some miracle of miracles, I managed to get them all to the PC!

Yesterday also, I experimented for the first time with lentils! After looking around for some recipes (including at this site, thanks to a tweet!), I decided to try my hand at dhal bukhara.

Started off with a bag of the legumes:

Soaked them in water for many hours; they expanded a bit. Rinsed them out, put them in a pot with plenty of water, and let 'em boil until the beans were soft.

Then came the problem. .. The instructions say to mash them. Was that in the pot with plenty of water? Or drain 'em out first? And how on earth does one mash lentil beans, especially when one doesn't have a blender? Arrgh!

I ended up draining and rinsing the now-soft beans in a colander, taking small batches of the beans in a bowl and smushing them as well as I could with a fork, then transferring back to the pot.

Then came the other problem - from the instructions, it seems like there would need to be more liquid in the pot (leading me to believe the previous instructions for mashing the beans were to take place in the pot?), so I dumped a can of beef broth that I happened to have on hand, along with the two cans of diced tomatoes, butter, grated ginger, and heaping tablespoons of minced garlic & chili powder, and brought everything to a boil.

Then I realised that in spite of my smushing efforts, it looked like over half the beans were still intact. Oh well. If there is a next time, I'll be more prepared somehow - maybe a masher should go on the shopping list?

It was also pretty runny - partly because of the added broth, partly because the beans weren't all smushed. So I let the contents of the pot boil down quite a bit.

Once it looked ready, I spooned myself a bowl's worth of the stuff, and added two spoons of half-and-half in place of the "thickened/double/heavy cream whisked until smooth".

I had it without any accompaniments, although it's recommended you eat this with naan or rice. There is certainly room for improvement, and I wouldn't serve it to guests just yet, but I liked it enough for a second helping.

How about you? Have you experimented with lentils before? Do you have a favorite recipe? Tell me, I might just try it out!

p/s: Have you signed up for The Postcard / Link Exchange of 2010 yet? You could also be in the running to receive a Malaysia-themed gift (I've decided on a box of Seri Songket Passion Fruit Tea by Boh, a local tea manufacturer)! Wait no more, sign up now!

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or subscribing via email. I'm on Twitter too!

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Book Review: NurtureShock (Po Bronson & Ashley Merryman)

2010 is looking to be a very dry year when it comes to books read! To date I think I might have gone through 5? books... at this time last year I was probably up to a 30+ count!

I'm just not feeling the reading pull right now.

In general, the number of serious non-fiction books I read is pretty low: I greatly prefer to read and escape this world, not to get mired more into it... However, every once in a while my interest is piqued enough to nudge me out of my comfort zone. In fact, my recent additions to my to-read list have been non-fiction works.

Back in February, I picked up NurtureShock: New Thinking About Children by Po Bronson & Ashley Merryman (no we are NOT preggers!) and found it to be a valuable read. Here's a brief review, chapter-by-chapter.

1. The inverse power of praise [Sure, he's special. But new research suggests if you tell him that, you'll ruin him. It's a neurobiological fact.]
This struck close to my heart, for many reasons. The key takeaway here is to praise the effort, not the result, and to be sincere in your praise. Fear of appearing stupid / making mistakes keeps intelligent kids from trying new things and expanding their abilities - trust me, I know ALL about that!

2. The lost hour [Around the world, children get an hour less sleep than they did thirty years ago. The cost: IQ points, emotional well-being, ADHD, and obesity]
It was interesting to read how something simple like changing the start time of schools has helped increase IQ points and reduce teenage angst! Research shows that teenagers function differently than infants and adults when it comes to sleep patterns: adapt to this fact, and you have a ebtter chance of having a better-adjusted kid.

3. Why white parents don't talk about race [Does teaching children about race and skin color make them better off or worse?]
This was an eye-opening chapter. Its bottom line: children aren't blind, and will categorise things and people into obvious groups, so it's better to acknowledge and discuss race early on than to pretend skin color differences don't exist.

4. Why kids lie [We may treasure honesty, but the research is clear. Most classic strategies to promote truthfulness just encourages kids to be better liars]
Think about it: kids are taught that they are expected to lie ("Oh grandma, I *love* the brown and green sweater you knitted me!"), and often get punished for telling the truth (usually when they tell-tale on another kid). Interestingly, research shows kids lie to keep us happy (and keep themselves out of hot water); it's also a sophisticated interaction skill.

5. The search for intelligent life in kindergarten [Millions of kids are competing for seats in gifted programs and private schools. Admissions officers say it's an art: new science says they're wrong, 73% of the time]
Early IQ points and other results of intelligence/abilities tests administered to too-young children will return many false results. In fact, "... if you picked 100 kindergerteners as "gifted", by third grade only 27 of them would still deserve that categorisation. You would have locked out 73 other deserving students ..." Studies show that it's only when kids are in about 3rd grade -- when children are expected to reason through sums, to read for comprehension -- will their IQ points be indicative of their final adult scores.

6. The sibling effect [Freud was wrong, Shakespeare was right. Why siblings really fight]
This chapter looked at research questioning the belief that onlies miss out on social interaction skills compared to those from a family with 2 or more kids. It also looked at the interaction between siblings -- turns out that the best way to get siblings to play well together is to focus not on the "you're his/her brother/sister therefore you must love/play with him/her" familial ties, but on facilitating the building of an actual friendship between the siblings. It turns out that a very good predictor of how well an older child is going to behave towards his/her new sibling is determined by how well he/she interacts with his/her best friend!

7. The science of teen rebellion [Why, for adolescents, arguing with adults in a sign of respect not disrespect -- and arguing is constructive to the relationship, not destructive]
Did you know that a household with no rules / permissive parents implies to their kids that they (the parents) don't care about them? Teens lie all the time, and often will occasionally slip up on purpose in order to get caught, scolded, and assured that their parents care. I found it interesting that there wasn't much difference between the number of parent/child conflicts in a Western vs Asian household: Western kids tend to argue over parents' authority to set rules; Asian kids over the rules themselves.

8. Can self-control be taught? [Developers of a new kind of preschool keep losing their grant money -- the students are so successful they're no longer "at-risk enough" to warrant further study. What's their secret?]
Looks like introducing the concept of planning ahead does wonders in helping kids sustain interest in activities that might otherwise grind to a bored halt, or elicit disruptive behaviour because because they are bored. Rather stifle spontaneity and creativity, having roles assigned, understood and planned out beforehand helps sustain kids' interest in roleplaying.

9. Plays well with others [Why modern involved parenting has failed to produce a generation of angels]
Did you know that education shows like Arthur and Clifford the Big Red Dog might harm / promote violence a lot more than "violent" shows like Power Rangers? This is because often the shows tend to feature bad behaviour for most of the episode, and resolution of the problem / modeling of good behaviour only occurs in the last few minutes. Thus, the child is more like ly to parrot the behavior he sees a lot of, rather than thinking through the moral of the story.

10. Why Hannah talks and Sarah doesn't [Despite scientists' admonitions, parents still spend billions every year on gimmicks and videos, hoping to jump-start infants' language skills. What's the right way to accomplish this goal?]
I found this a particularly interesting chapter. It turns out that incessant talking at infants might not be the way to go to encourage linguistic proficiency. Instead, parents that provide feedback, that produce reacting/confirming/encouraging sounds in response to the infant's gurglings and babblings, will have more language-proficient babies. Identifying what it is that catches a child's eye, commenting on it, and paraphrasing it a few different ways has also been found to be useful. The uninteractive Baby Einstein videos? Not been proven to help with language proficiency, so don't bother!

The style of the book is not stodgy, and very readable. This isn't a research piece: it's more like an overview of current/recent research, with a pretty good write-up of ramifications of these results on conventional child-rearing assumptions. Not being a parent myself, the contents of this book were nice-to-know things-to-keep-in-mind: for actual parents, I hope that reading this book would help give them the confidence to break free of norms, and help truly nurture their children into well-balanced adults who can reach or even go beyond their potential.

Disclosure: This review is 100% my unsolicited opinion! Should you use the link to and purchase this book, I'll earn some money from the sale -- but only if you purchase something, and it would paying the commission, not you. Cheers!

Monday, April 05, 2010

TK-217: an introduction

Hi, I'm TK-217, also known as Trooper Tripp, newly assigned by TK-421 to the Naranek household in Springfield (IL), USA, Earth*.

Did the Naraneks include me in the Census?

* NOTE: ... I suppose I should be thankful to be assigned to this version of Earth.

You see, a long time ago, in a galaxy far far away, I used to hold the rank of Captain, on an Earth just like this one. I was in charge of security of the Empire's experimental biological warfare laboratory in the Mojave Desert: the scientists called it Project Blue; my superiors called it A-Prime.

Then something went wrong for Fay Wray and King Kong, and we got the flock out of there.

I certainly wasn't responsible for the leak, but when the few surviving locals started calling the supervirus Captain Trips, General Starkey decided the coincidence to be too great, and that I had smuggled the virus out into the population, how else would my name get associated with it otherwise? Typical CYA behavior! But I suppose when you're staring down the black muzzle of Lord Vader's helmet, you might have a tendency to pass the blame on down instead of owning up to your own faults.

What happened after, I'd rather not dwell upon. Let's just say it's been a long road, getting from there to here; It's been a long time, but my time is finally near. Mine has been an arduous journey of starships, enterprising engineers, and treks through the stars.

My primary objective right now is to impress my handler lynne naranek Her Meanness the Minion of Death and Destruction with my prowess and intelligence and whatever other skills she expects of me in my capacity of bodyguard and travel companion. My fate, and future in the Empire and Clone Army, rests in her hands.

It's not been going so well, though. During the recent St Patrick's Day celebrations I guarded her as well as I could from a sea of green-clad drunken boors. Wasn't my fault I tripped over that necklace of beads!!
I was still reeling from the swill they call Bud Light.

I didn't fare much better the next time around, either: something about Bloody Mary Mafia?! They say I tripped and fell, and could barely walk straight. I don't remember any such thing, but whaddaya know, they took pictures.

Good thing I had my helmet on, because my cheeks were burning in shame.

I'm not making excuses for myself, but I have to say that my poor performance might have something to do with the weird out-of-scale size of things on this version of Earth. For example, I swear I caught sight of an R2 unit that might have been 100x my height -- didn't they come up to my waist before? So any alcoholic fumes might also be 100x more potent than what I'm used to, right?

Uh-oh. Her Meanness wants to play Bejeweled Blitz again. I've gotta go.

TK-217 signing off!
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