Monday, November 29, 2010

Pointless Rant

Sometimes, I really can't stand the way some people talk. In order to save myself from the mostly-insuppressible urge to tell them off, I'd have to stop focusing on the present and start thinking about something else. It is not that my mind doesn't drift off unintentionally during times I actually ought to be paying attention - but this has to be like, really making a conscious effort to not listen to the crap lest I should roll my eyes to the point of being noticed.

Some people are unable to make a point without twisting and turning the facts, or beating around the bush, or sounding as if they're trying too hard to pitch for something. Plus, at the same time they're irritating me with their fake smiles and rubbish talk, they're letting their phones go off, answering the calls, reading and replying SMSes, or just fiddling with their phones without the slightest regard to the propriety of any of it during a meeting. To me, it's simply RUDE. Period.

So, they might think we academicians are just pompous snobs who don't know much beyond our endless theoretical studies, who live in our own little worlds and are not the least acquainted with how the real world works. Well, fine. (I probably don't speak for all academicians, but) I like it that way. I do. In addition to being in academic, I'm also a (mostly unpublished) writer and an occasional (also unpublished) poet. Do you know how many little worlds of my own I live in? I have no time and no intention to linger in your "real" world.

There - call me whatever (arrogant, obnoxious, mental, or all of the preceding) you wish.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

My Good Roomee (Again)

Once more, I know I have one when -

I rattled on for a good part of half an hour about this horrible thing that happened to me. The words were tumbling forth in furious torrents, accented with fully-CAPPED phrases here and there.

She said, "Given your being so extreme when telling stories, I'm sure I shouldn't imagine it was really that bad."

Argh, but it was really bad! Fine, maybe not the-end-of-the-world bad. Does she have to know me so well?

She then said, "Come, roomee sayang you. *Hug Hug*".

Yes, I guess, regardless of all, she knew all along that all I needed was a lil' bit of attention and love. She knows me too well for my own good.

Yay, Roomee! =)

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Ghost Pen

Some months ago, we ran into a time where we resorted to buying our own ink refills because they were almost never available amongst the stationery supply. At the shop in town I usually visit, there was an entire shelf of them, though looking a little different from those I'm accustomed to using. I checked to make sure they're for whiteboard markers and grabbed a couple without giving any further thoughts to the differently-coloured packaging.

When I started using my newly-purchased refill, I noticed that my marker's ink started fading - and I mean, the more ink I put into it, the more faded the writing appeared! It made no sense at all. Eventually, it was rendered totally useless, for the ink then appeared so light it was ghostly. I called it my Ghost Pen, and stopped using it.

It was then that I took some time to really look at the refill ink I bought. I noticed they were indeed meant for a different range of markers than those we've always used.

So, the difference is the ink being "alcohol-based" whereas my markers were simply... well, regular whiteboard markers, I suppose. I don't know what could be so disagreeable about alcohol-based ink with my markers, but somehow, when used together, they turn translucent. So, I was back to the running-out-of-ink predicament, plus I have bottles of ink I then had no use for.

I went to the shop again, and this time, made sure I got the right kind of ink. I also got a couple of alcohol-based markers, since, I figured, I already have the refill ink for them.

The cashier, scanning the bar codes of the items, gave me an odd look. "These refills are wrong for the pens," she told me, meaning to be helpful, I'm sure. I started saying, yes, I realise, but... and it dawned to me I really didn't want to have to tell her that the current purchase was to right a wrong I made the last time. I didn't think she'd be interested. Actually, I'm not sure you, Reader, are interested either.

And now I wonder what I should do with the one which has already turned into ghost...

Saturday, November 20, 2010

One Of Those Moments

I dragged myself out of bed much earlier than I would have liked, hurried through the daily grooming just to try to avoid the usual morning congestion. I took the simplest unhealthy breakfast of coffee and crackers, and I made it on time. It would be the fourth time I deliver the lesson. The very same lesson - the fourth time. The room was big and mostly unoccupied, for attendance was only about a third of the official number. Some of the lights wouldn't turn on and that had the room in a darkened bluish hue, coloured so by weak rays of the sun coming through the rather heavily-tinted windows.

The audience were quiet, perhaps intimidated, and not desirably responsive. I lifted my voice in a poor attempt to lift their moods and the general somberness. It didn't work. It was still too early and there were really far too few of them. I pressed on and persisted. The projector cast onto the screen a blank square of blue because the visualizer wouldn't turn on. The power button wouldn't work, the lights button wouldn't work. I fumbled with every button I could get my fingers on but it just wouldn't turn on. They were watching me like one would watch a TV programme.

In the instance I knew it wasn't ever going to work, it all came crashing in. The senseless frustration, exasperation, gloom, despair, resignation - the combination rushed over me like a wave, so overwhelming, in that moment, all I wanted to do was fling my pens away, strike a hard surface and utter profanities. I wanted, so much, to take the easy way out, get it done and over with! I simply couldn't go on anymore.

But I could. I shut my eyes, cleared my mind, and took several deep breaths. I opened my eyes, forced my hands to uncap a pen and started writing. It took a lot of effort. It took a lot, a lot more effort to speak and made sure it was in a cheerful, inviting tone. I was in a trance, mechanically obeying the instructions of the conscious mind. I could do it. So I could.

I have moments like that. I believe we all do. I am grateful I did not give in to emotional urges and ruin the session for myself and those who depended on me, for it didn't take too long thereafter for some to warm up, and thus, paid adequately off my perseverance. I am glad. Things are usually not so bad once you've gotten past the worst.

Now, I must rest, for I am unwell.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


So, Bee Ree said JS will not disappoint us. Disappoint? I don't think that word should ever exist in the same fragment as his name.

He covered the meat in spices, marinated it overnight, then slow-roasted it over 9 hours. NINE hours. Just before dinner, he fired it up such that the skin crackled and crisped to perfection. It was perfection personified.

We were still thinking about it, looking at photos of it, and drooling over 'em, two days later. Shell Shell said we are all addicted to it. It was 12:30am on Monday night and Mee Mee and I were up, talking about it - fine hour to be flaming our greed and lust for it. She said over and over, that it would be quite a while before she could accept any other roast pork. I think everyone feels much the same.

And that was just Chef's Signature Roast Pork:

What about the Pasta that Chef is also very famous for?

What about these baked Root Vegetables?

And this?



And the incredibly awesome Banana Souffle(s):

Oh, yes - we were spoilt. We were spoilt silly. We were spoilt beyond help. Thank you sooo much for having us over and pampering us with great food and superb company. =)

For further reading:

Friday, November 5, 2010

Shoulder Injury

I pulled something (seriously, I don't know what) in or around my left shoulder joint about a month ago. I don't exactly know how or when - though my best guess is the day I attempted a bouldering route, and did a dynamic move (= a small jump on the wall) to get to an out-of-reach hold with my left hand. The left arm is obviously not strong enough to withstand such strain, and therefore, I think, that was the instant I sustained the injury. It is funny how one doesn't really feel the pain until the adrenaline rush is over - which is usually much later.

For three weeks I endured it - though not in stoic silence - thinking it would eventually go away. It didn't, and it frustrated some people around me because I kept complaining about this pain-in-my-shoulder, but did not take up any of their suggestions to see a doctor or apply compressions. It wasn't an intense, unendurable pain (which explains my initial apathy), though it sure was irritating and persistent.

It was when the pain started interfering with my life - I couldn't bend my arm backwards, lift it high, turn the steering wheel properly, or straighten it for certain yoga poses without feeling a somewhat sharp pain, and I daren't climb (!!!) - I decided I had to do something.

So, I started applying cold compression. The instructions on the freezable gel-pack say to apply within days of the injury. Well, too late for following that then.

I've been freezing the entire area around my left shoulder every night for a little more than a week now. If it is doing any good, the rate of recovery is so slow that I don't really notice it, although the pain does seem less severe (managed to go up the speed-wall last week somewhat pain-free). That, or I'm getting used to it such that I don't feel it so acutely anymore (ahem!).

Oh well, even if the cold isn't healing my injury, it's still fine, for once the gel-pack gets defrosted enough, I'd put it over my eyes instead. That's suppose to get rid of them eye-bags, isn't that? I'm looking forward to being sans eye-bags now! OK, even if that doesn't happen, it's still comfy to have the cool gel over them tired eyes.....

Finally, I can stop complaining; people around me can now heave sighs of relief!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Ideas, Anyone?

We - someone and I - need a song to sing for someone's wedding. It isn't easy looking for a suitable one as:

1. It must be a song about love, being in love:
I'd really prefer it if we don't sing about "you" specifically, because that's sort of like serenading just one in the couple, which, if you really think about it, is very odd. For example, we considered "Close To You" by Carpenters - it's a who-wouldn't-like-it song, obviously, but it's lyrics are basically praising just the guy. Well, also, we test-sang it in karaoke, and it sounded boring. (Fine... we're not as talented as Karen was)

2. If it is a duet, both voices must be of about the same range:
Since two female voices will be singing, it'll be awfully weird if one had to sing the manly man's part. My duet partner has an amazing range, and can go pretty low when she wants to; I suppose I could sing low too, but it still remains that both of us will make a very odd-sounding baritone.

3. If it is a solo, it must have a nice version sung as a duet:
We are not pros. We are not formally-trained in song arrangements - we do not know how to come up with harmonies unless we have a reference. Simply taking turns singing several lines at a time, and then the chorus together is so cacat. No, we'll not settle for a solo for two unless we can sing at least the chorus as a two-part harmony.

4. It must be one simply-accompanied:
We want a song with minimal music accompaniment - something simple and beautiful. It is not that we do not want the music to outshine our vocals (it probably will, any ways...) It's just that we'll have only a 3-piece band backing us up. We can't do any songs that would sound good only when sung with a 5-piece rock band, or a 60-piece orchestra, or a 30-strong choir doing backup vocals. A quietly-moving, lyrically-meaningful and sentimental piece would be perfect!

5. It is best if it isn't an over-sung piece:
Well, such as Shania Twain's "From This Moment On", Bryan Adams and Barbra Streisand's "I Finally Found Someone" (not that I don't absolutely love it to bits), Ronan Keating's "When You Say Nothing At All". We want a song that is ideal for a wedding, not a song that is expected to be played at a wedding. Of course, the reader would have also noticed that the examples mentioned don't fulfill points (2) and (3) as well.

And I wonder why we find it so hard to decide on what to sing...

Monday, November 1, 2010


The young lady was standing facing the lifts when I got there. I thought I was quiet, wearing sneakers instead of my usual heels, but she must've heard me, for she turned. She gave me the most radiant of smiles, a friendly nod, and said "Hi". I didn't expect her to greet me, and I certainly didn't expect her to start talking to me.

I was a little taken aback when she asked me where I was from. I thought maybe I'd misheard the question, for she spoke with a very thick accent, but I answered her all the same. I said I was from here. She looked surprised, asked again to confirm that I was Malaysian, and then said I don't look like a Malaysian. I think she must've meant Malay, for she then asked if I was Chinese. In return for her friendly effort in starting a conversation, I asked her where she was from. Instead of answering directly, she flashed me a cheeky grin and asked me to guess! Where did I think she came from? Which country did I think she looked like she belonged?

I was actually thinking of an answer when an upward-bound lift arrived - she was waiting going up and I was waiting to go down - and she had to take it. She stepped into it and turned to face me again.

"Libya," she said, "I'm from Libya."

Generally, I do not appreciate strangers talking to me (but especially asking what I deem very personal questions such as my name, my occupation, my age etc.) but this was so different. I marvel at the ease with which she struck up the light-hearted, casual and rather impersonal conversation, which didn't make me feel the least awkward or uncomfortable.

She was a stark difference from a family of four I shared the same lift with later. I held the door open while man and wife waddled their way in, lugging bags of groceries and two boisterous little boys; I held the door open again 3 floors later while they heaved their way out - and did not get as much as a nod of acknowledgment, nor a smile of appreciation. Of course, I would never expect anything for merely pressing the "Doors Open" button in the lift, but outright discourtesy gets on my nerves.

These - all within the span of an evening - reminded me of something Papa always said:

There are all kinds of people in this world - and you can choose the kind of person you want to be.

Wasn't he simply the wisest?