Saturday, August 30, 2003

Friday Five

I had the most difficult time trying to get online last night and as a result Friday's posting has been delayed. Well ... better late than never.

I’m really looking forward for the upcoming three day weekend. For one it gives me the chance to recharge again after the horrendous week at work and also it gives me a chance to catch up on my DVDs. I got a bunch of them that arrived this past week that I have not even had the chance to preview. I’m also planning to do some window shopping for a gift for my mother this weekend. She celebrated her birthday last Tuesday but we didn’t do anything to mark it as she was traveling in Kota Kinabalu. Maybe I’ll take her out to a nice dinner with the family next weekend. I have my heart set on trying out Saloma Bistro although I have to check where it is exactly since I’ve never actually been there. As for her gift, I’m torn between getting her a simple diamond bracelet since she never owned diamonds before or some of those expensive silk materials for her to make some baju kurung for herself as she always seem to be making them for other people. I guess I’ll have to see which gift I can afford tomorrow.

This week’s questions and my answers from Friday Five this week is listed below.

1. Are you going to school this year?
No although some times I wish I were since they were the best times of my life.

2. If yes, where are you going (high school, college, etc.)? If no, when did you graduate?
I graduated from University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1996. I guess that in 3 years time it would be a decade since I had to study for an exam. That feels so old.

3. What are/were your favorite school subjects?
In secondary school it was Biology because somehow it came easy to me. I always managed to get the best marks in exams with little effort.
There was a class that I took in collage called Literary Forms: Cartoons and Comic Books in Popular American Culture which I took as an elective my senior year at UW. We got to spend the whole semester watching cartoons and reading comic books and still call it research.

4. What are/were your least favorite school subjects?
I have to say that it was Additional Mathematics in secondary school. For those who never had to go through Add Maths hell, you should be thankful. It’s basically a survey subject that included calculus, statistic, game theory and differential equations. We had to take it for the final 2 years of secondary school if you’re enrolled in the Science stream. I later found out that most of the things they thought in that subject are actually close to US college level calculus.

In college it was my Introduction to Algorithm class that I had to take in order to have enough of the necessary credits to major in Computer Science. I absolutely hated that class since I couldn’t make heads or tails of the material and all the other people in my class that year were Bill Gates wannabe geniuses at it. By the time I got around to take that class, I couldn’t drop it since it was the last class I need for the major declaration so I had to suffer through it. I got my worst grade, a low C, in my transcript from this class which effectively screwed up my final GPA.

5. Have you ever had a favorite teacher? Why was he/she a favorite?
My favorite teacher in secondary was my Biology teacher. She quickly noticed my interest in Biology and encouraged me to expand my knowledge by giving me books to read and special projects to complete. Of course I got ragged on by my classmates for being the teacher’s pet but I was actually happy to do it for her since she was one of the few teachers that I met who would actively participate in their student’s interest. She was of course devastated when I told her that I was not going to study medicine when I went to college since she said I had potential in the medical profession. It took me a while to convince her that being able to operate on a frog doesn’t mean that I could do it on a human.

I had a wonderful English Literature professor my freshman year in college who was not only a bit kooky but also great fun to be with. She was the one who first introduced me to a lot of American writers that I have never heard about. We both share the same obsession with Asimov and S.E. Hinton and would talk for hours after class about their work. She was also gracious enough to open her home and family to me which made my freshman year a bit more comfortable. We lost touch with each other some time back when she moved to teach in Florida and I am always grateful that I got a chance to be her student.

Wednesday, August 27, 2003

CD Review: "Yusry" by Yusry KRU

On the last time I took some time off from the office, I decided to go to my local music store to get some new CDs for my collection. Among them was the first solo effort by Yusry Abdul Halim or who is more commonly known as Yusry from the Malaysian boyband, KRU. Yusry is the first of the trio of brothers who make up KRU who has decided to try his luck as a solo artist. This album is being released at the height of his popularity with the recent news of his marriage with an equally talented local songstress, Erra Fazira. In a way, I would think that the current attention being focused on him would help with the album sales and I do believe that this is true as I was told that his album sold well the week it was released. I’ve been listening to this album for close to a week now and thought that I might humbly document my impression of the album. Of course I am not a professional reviewer so most of the things I will write below would mainly be my own opinions of what I have heard so far.

The album opens with an interesting choice that I must admit didn’t really sound hopeful at first listen. The song “Tertewas Lagi” starts off a bit too slow for a hook song for me but then gradually builds up to a nice mid tempo song. One thing that I immediately noticed is the British retro vibe that I was getting from it from the first time I listened. I would be hard pressed to put my finger on what makes this so for me but somehow I have an image of the swinging sixties when I hear this song. Regardless, the album really begins for me with “Dekat Pada Mu” which was a really catchy tune with a chorus that left me humming it the whole day I first heard it. It has a playful melody that flows smoothly into a foot tapping rhythm that is hard to resist. I could actually imagine that this song would be an instant favorite among his fans.

I didn’t really care much with the way the next song “Jika Kau Tiada” started. Fortunately this duet with his young bride quickly moves into gear and develops into a quite enjoyable mid tempo tune. I also got a retro vibe from this song much like the first song of the album. As a couple, the two complemented each other’s vocals beautifully and I can’t help but feel that the lyrics are a reflection of how they felt towards each other. From a duet, we moved to a slightly faster tempo with “3 Minggu” with more retro vibe built in. By this time, I was a bit distracted by it that I didn’t really enjoy this song. I guess that on its own, this song is quite good with its playful beat but as part of this album it felt too repetitive.

The high point for me on this album was listening to “Terbang Tinggi”. As a heartfelt ballad, this song lets Yusry do what in my opinion he is best at. The lyrics pays poignant tribute to his two brothers who have supported him all these years as part of KRU as well as his current venture as a solo artist. As a fan who has been following his career since they first started, I could not help but be touched by the sincerity of the words from the song. If I had to pick a favorite song out of this album, this would be it followed closely with “Dekat Pada Mu”.

I have to say that I didn’t really like the next song “Warna Kehidupan” on the virtue that it was too jarring a transition from the previous song. I guess that if I was listening to an old style LP, this song would actually on the B-side and would make more sense as it starts off on a faster pace from the song preceding it. This song would definitely not be my choice to follow such a beautiful ballad on the CD as the transition is too abrupt for me. Nevertheless I have to admit that this song then sets the stage up for the next up tempo song, “Mengapa?” which I would describe as a bit cheeky. I couldn’t help but be grinning at the rambunctious energy that this song carried with it.

The next two songs “Bermimpi Lagi” and “Hari Ini” let me feeling a bit ambivalent. I neither hated nor loved these two songs which was a bit strange seeing that the other songs managed to provoke a reaction in my mind. Maybe it was because in the case of “Bermimpi Lagi” I found this ballad a bit too dragging compared to the “Terbang Lagi” and in the case of “Hari Ini” I found the lyrics a bit too confusing in terms of trying to understanding the message of the song. Fortunately, the album ends with on a high note with “Tamat” which I must say is an appropriate choice. In my opinion, this song mildly amusing to me as it was about a breakup and yet done in an up tempo beat. I guess that this song was meant for those who went through a mutual breakup rather than those being dumped. It was definitely too cheerful for a song about breaking up.

As a whole, the album was a good effort by this young artist as his debut solo venture. Aside from the distracting retro vibe that reminded me of how old I was, I really enjoyed it and would gladly recommend it to other followers of the local music scene. The whole CD zips along quite fast at less than 40 minutes of play time which I thought was a bit short for a local album but at the new ceiling price recently set by the government, I have to say that this album is a good buy. As for the artist himself, with the talent that he displayed in the production of this album, I have no doubt that we will be seeing greater things to come from Yusry in the future. May his star continue to ascend and brighten the local music scene.

Tuesday, August 26, 2003

Where Are You, E.T.?

We do live in the most interesting of times. For one, a celestial event that only occurs once in a lifetime will happen tomorrow when Mars comes closest to the Earth. To think that our eyes will be the first in countless generations to witness this magnificent event it totally mind boggling to me. In all of the ages of humans on Earth, we happened to be at the right place and time to see something that will not be seen again until all who live today are dust and ashes under the ground. Makes one think of the insignificance of our lives compared to the machinations of the universe and yet it also gives us a sense of being singled out for a special event out of all who have come before us. At least that is how I feel as I look forward to watch the skies tomorrow night.

I’ve always been interested in watching the night sky. As a kid, I would spend hours looking up at the sky dreaming of the possibilities that exist in that final frontier. Naturally piqued by the stories that I read from my sci-fi books, I grew up wondering if at any moment I was looking up at someone else out there who just happened to be looking out for us and thinking about the same things I was thinking about. Maybe it was part of my childish feeling of isolation even among my family that led me to want to believe so hard that we cannot be alone in the universe and that some where out there, there was someone or something that I could connect with.

I have to admit that I believe fully that there is extra-terrestrial life out this among the stars. The universe is too big for just humans to inhabit if you consider that we only live on one small world. I believe that the Almighty Creator wouldn’t waste so much space if the universe was meant for humans alone. Somewhere out there, some kind of life must exist and they may even have the same questions as we do about the nature of our isolation. Maybe time will only tell if we would ever make first contact with extra-terrestrial life if we have not already considering the number of close encounter stories that have been one of the staple of the internet culture for as long as it has existed.

If there is life outside of this world that is currently studying us today, how would they perceive us as a race? Maybe to them we humans are a divided immature species quick to anger and irrational action being ruled by petty desires and conflicting emotions. Or maybe, to them we are dynamic species that survived against all odd and our own stupidity by virtue of being able to continue to have faith and hope for a better future. Which ever impression that we leave with them, I have to believe that we have the potential to be even greater as we mature as a species. It might be this potential that will propel us to continue to look forward to the day that we, ourselves, will make ourselves known out there in the stars.

I never discount the possibility of first contact with aliens might happen within my lifetime. I, for one, would like that to happen so I would get the satisfaction of knowing that we are not alone in this expansive universe. If it doesn’t, then the day will come when our isolation as a species will be broken and we become part of something larger than ourselves on this small blue marble in space.

Monday, August 25, 2003

School Traditions

One of the big news stories that broke this past weekend was the report on the recent spate of student violence in a few local boarding schools. Of those reports, one that really caught my attention was the expulsion of 20 form five students from a prestigious all boys boarding school up north for their revival of a student secret society at their school. From what I could understand of the issue, this illegal group is more like a fraternity group which provided their members with extra privileges and protection from the school authorities. I have to say that the expulsion of these students are a bit harsh considering that they have to face the stress of changing schools in the middle of an exam year but if they were becoming a threat to other students then their punishment is a wise move. I just hope that they were given proper counseling resources so they could transition into their new situation easier as it would be a shame to have this incident impacting their future.

I did not go to this particular school while I was their age but went to another all boys boarding school of similar prestige. The first thing that one learns upon entering these boarding schools was that for every school rule written there are at least three more unwritten rules that have been passed down from seniors to juniors and that they were as important as the official rules in terms of observance priorities. I remembered a time having to learn all these rules, some by the hard way, in order to fit in with the order of things at the hostels. I guess that these rules were part and parcel of the isolated community that we were a part of during our stay in the school term. We were actually insolated back then as we hardly had any contact with people outside of the school grounds when school was in session. We only had each other to depend on and these rules make the function of the society a bit easier to manage.

Of course some of the rules are really colorful to say the least. I’m bound by honor and tradition not to divulge them to outsiders so I am unable to really provide a detail account of what they were. It would be enough to say that we had rules for almost every conduct of our daily lives from the mundane to the exceptional. Of course, all these unwritten rules are enforced by our peers rather than an overseeing group of selected seniors. You were forgiven if you unwittingly break any of these rules but if it becomes a habit, you’ll find yourself being excluded for most student activities very quickly. If the infraction involves the honor of another student or worse involving the honor of the school, it was not unheard that the person in question would be grilled by some of the student body. I have to admit that we had our share of physical punishment in these cases but we always drew the line against drawing blood, breaking bones or any such serious injuries.

Of course this meant that we became imaginative with how we punished those who didn’t toe the line. One of the most common was to order them to do deep knee squats for hours non stop. Those who have never had to go through can be thankful as it can get very painful after the first hour or so and by the time you reach the end, you would usually have problems walking straight for the next 2 days at least. I know this from personal experience and also as one who have ordered another unfortunate soul to do it. Another method of punishment that was common while I was there was having the offender become a bonded servant of an upperclassman for a certain period of time. The offender had to do anything that the upperclassman asked as long as it did not cause bodily harm. Some of the things that they had to do were a bit humiliating but this had to be taken in stride in fear of invoking harsher punishment. I’ve actually some people break down after a while of having to live under the beck and call of another.

Most of the traditions that we had back then were, in my view, quite reasonable as they helped us adapt to living on our own which for some of us were the first time in our young lives. Even the punishments that we received and later doled out to the lower forms were not as severe as those I hear of today. Rewards and punishment were used to get us to develop a sense of togetherness that we would carry after we leave school. Those who were at the receiving end would always get their chance to give them out to others in return with the same intention of building the sense of community. There was also an unspoken trust between the one punishing and the one being punished that made the system work. Sadly it seems to me that this trust is breaking down nowadays as abuse is reported more often in the papers year after year. It is sad that even in the hallowed halls of our elite boarding schools; lessons of tradition and honor are fast being forgotten.

Friday, August 22, 2003

Friday Five

I had the most wonderful day away from the office today. I decided to sleep in until about noon before going out to do stuff that I usually have to wait for the weekend to do. I guess that I would have this weekend free for myself for a change although S did call me up yesterday so most probably I'll be spending this coming weekend at his place. I also met up with my insurance agent who convinced me to sign up for additional income protection insurance. The premiums are a bit steep compared to my other premiums that I have to pay now but I do believe that they are worth it in the event of anything bad happening to me. In any event, I still get to cash out the policy with dividends at the age of 65 if nothing happens so I just see this as an additional investment in my portfolio. This way, not only do I get covered in the event of any unfortunate circumstance but I'm also forced to keep some money aside as savings which is good for me as I'm never any good at money management.

Anyway, the answers to this week's Friday Five is listed here.

1. When was the last time you laughed?
3 hours ago ... I think. I don't really keep track of when I laugh but it would surely be in the near past. I actually try to have a good laugh at least once a day be it by talking with other people or by reading something funny. I do actually believe the old adage that "Laughter is the Best Medicine". There is nothing like a good laugh to clear out those mental cobwebs cluttering the brain.

2. Who was the last person you had an argument with?
I would say that this was with my boss yesterday. We were arguing about how best to proceed with a particular problem at work. His views of the issue at hand didn’t really sync with mine so we had a bit of a tiff about how best to achieve a common understanding of the problem. In the end, we both decided that we would agree to disagree and go with my solution first.

3. Who was the last person you emailed?
As part of work, email is fast becoming the preferred mode of communication. So I would have to say that the last person I emailed would be one of my helpdesk technicians to tell them that I would be away from office today. I rarely email my friends and families as I would much rather talk to them on the phone rather than using an impersonal email.

4. When was the last time you bathed?
20 minutes ago. Malaysia is too hot and humid to skip any baths without stinking to high heaven. To the best of my knowledge, everyone here is conditioned to take at least 2 baths/showers a day if not more. This might explain why we just can’t understand why some tourists can ignore this rule when they are visiting the country.

5. What was the last thing you ate?
About 3 “BlackJack” from the local BreadStory store. It’s a pepper spiced sausage baked into a wheat roll that is also a bit peppery. I am just crazy about them and could eat a bunch of them in one sitting. They are actually taste better after you leave them overnight in the fridge and put some chunky spicy salsa dip on them.

Thursday, August 21, 2003

Meanwhile At The Office

It’s strange the way I would always seem to get extra work to do at the office just before I take a day off. Today was no different. Just as I was about to leave for the day, my boss came in and asked me to complete a super urgent request that seems cannot wait until I come back. Of course this meant that I had to stay back another 2 hours in the office to complete it. To top it off, I have a conference call in about 20 minutes from now that I’m required to attend. All this just before I take 1 day off from work tomorrow! Sometimes I wonder if all of this is really worth the effort but then I remember that I still need to draw a paycheck at the end of each month so I guess I have to just bite the bullet and pay my dues.

I noticed that they finally completed the billboard commemorating the 50th anniversary of Petaling Jaya as I pass by the overhead bridge leading into Sunway today. It’s hard to believe that the place that I live now was just a small sleepy community way back in the 50’s. I hope that they would have some sort of photo exhibition of how PJ looked back then as part of the celebrations. It would be nice to be able to see how the area looked like all those years ago compared to how it does now. Of course, it is also scary to think that I have been alive for about 30 of those 50 years!

Today’s journal entry will be a short one since I still need to prepare for my conference call. I guess I’ll have more to write about tomorrow since I don’t have to come into the office.

Wednesday, August 20, 2003

My Love of Travelogues

It was a really hectic day at work today. It wasn’t because there was anything significant happening today but more of just the workload of things I had to complete this week. I got swamped by all the things I had to do that I didn’t really have the chance to sit down to reflect on the day and think about what I am to write about in today’s journal entry. I guess this is just the universe’s way of balancing the good day that I had yesterday. Still, I am still lucky that I have days that I am struggling to get through the pile in my INBOX compare to other people who might have been laid off from work due to the current economic situations.

I did manage to find some time earlier today to pop into Nizam’s blogspot. It seems that he has started on what I hope would be a series of travelogues about his weekend trip to Penang. I have to say that other than fan-fiction, travelogues are my next favorite things to read on the net. I don’t really know how many travelogues that have been written out there in the Net but I would guess that they would number in the thousands. I don’t really have a favorite travelogue site to go and read them but Yahoo does have a good category listing from where one could start their online journey.

The best travelogues in my opinion are those that not only provide an account of the sights and scenes of the place visited but would also contain the visitor’s impression of their surroundings. This one inclusion into the text would be the one thing that differentiates a travelogue from a travel guide. I sometimes would try to read travelogues from people who have visited Malaysia just to learn about their reaction towards my beloved country. I must say that it is refreshing to learn something that we never noticed before from understanding these first impressions of first time visitors to Malaysia. Things that we as locals take for granted does really get expressed in a different light when one doesn’t have it inbred in them their whole life.

I guess my love for reading travelogues is partly the result of my continuing wanderlust. I want to know about what is out there in the world and about places that I might never have the opportunity to visit. A good travelogue would let the reader feel as if they are there experiencing the same impressions as the writes see it. Maybe I should try to do one for my online journal entries when I go travelling next. I do have to travel to Penang and Singapore in September on business so maybe that would give me the best opportunity to do so. I guess I just have to wait and see if I would get the chance to execute this plan.

Tuesday, August 19, 2003

Taking Time to Smell The Roses

I woke up today to a truly beautiful morning. It has been a while since I last notice how beautiful the blue sky can be that I was simply awestruck looking up to the clear skies today. It was one of those days that you loath to be kept indoors cooped up in an office. The whole day was sunny and bright that I couldn’t help but wished that I was able to take the day off to just enjoy it.

Sometimes the pace of life that I live today seems too overwhelmingly complicated that I find myself ignoring the true beauty of my surroundings. We all have sacrificed a lot to continuously be trapped in this rat race in our pursuit of success. One of the earliest victims in this crime is the lost of our sense of wonder and appreciation of the beauty that is evident in nature. In the literal sense, we no longer notice how bright the sun is shining or how blue the sky is. It is a pity actually to not carry that sense of wonderment as we journey on this path that we have chosen for ourselves.

As the today grew longer, I began to notice myself taking the time to look at my surroundings. For the first time in many months, I began to notice things that escaped my previous observations even at the places that I spent some time in before. I became aware of the new bird’s nest near the place that I take my cigarette break that I never noticed before. I finally noticed that there are actually some flowers blooming near my office and that the fish in the office aquarium is actually changing colors. I’m astounded by the simple details that I’m missed before as I went on my daily routine that now fills me with such wonder and enjoyment.

As the day came to an end, I was rewarded with one of the most beautiful sunset that I’ve seen from the balcony of my apartment. This day might not ever repeat itself but for a day, I had the opportuinity to allow myself to take time to enjoy it to the fullest. It its own little way, I was able to be rejuvenated by the simple act of appreciating what a beautiful day today was. I was lucky to be able to recognize the opportunity for what it was and profit from it. If I was only obsessed with the pursuit of the almighty dollar, I could have easily ignored this day and not notice its passing. Fortunately I didn’t and I am a bit richer from the experience today.

I hope that I would be lucky enough to notice days like today in the future. It is always the quite moments in life that end up having the most meaning of all. We all should take time once in a while to sit back and literally smell the roses.

Monday, August 18, 2003

My Love Of All Things Sci-Fi

Finding nothing else to do this past weekend, I found myself rereading my well used copy of “The Complete Robot” by Isaac Asimov. From the very first sentence I found myself rediscovering my love for his work after being away from his books for some time now. My prior absences was partly self inflicted as I wanted to expand my circle of reading materials to non science fiction work so it has been quite some time since I read his wonderful stories. I’ve actually forgotten how much I enjoyed their simplicity and profoundness.

I have always been partial to science fiction literature. I guess that this choice was a logical offshoot of my obsession with the fantastical world of comic books. As a child, I was given paperback versions of classic sci-fi books like “The Time Machine” by HG Wells and “20,000 Leagues under the Sea” by Jules Verne to read. My parents were of course happy to get me these books as it meant, at the time to them, that I was finally ready to be weaned off comic books. Of course they would later realize that my growing obsession with sci-fi literature did nothing to dampen my appetite for my monthly comics fix.

It was from these classic works of science fiction that my reading preference began to develop. I continued to devour all science fiction books that I could get my hand on from either my parents or from the public library. It became the only type of book other then my school textbooks that I would read and enjoy. While other people my age then was reading about the Hardy Boys, I was deeply engrossed in Frank Herbert’s Dune series. While the other boys were reading about how to plan a camping trip, I was learning about the theory of relativity as basis of faster than light travel in science fiction books. It was during this period of literature discovery that I found myself gravitating towards stories written by Isaac Asimov.

I have to say that I can’t remember which story that I read that made me into an Asimov fan. What I remember is that for a time, his work was the only thing that I was looking forward to reading. If I have to put my finger on what it is about his writing that I enjoy, I would say that it was the deceptive simplicity of the way he tells his deeply philosophical stories to the readers. Having getting started in the business as a pulp magazine writer, Asimov had to write succinctly to continue to maintain his readership. His economy of words continued in his latter works even after he stopped writing for the magazine and became a full fledged writer. It was from this early necessity that his writing developed into one that is simple to enjoy and yet has several layers of understanding once you digest it in subsequent readings.

Isaac Asimov is most famous for his “Foundation” series which tells the story of the evolution of a galactic civilization from its humble beginnings. This expansive saga has been told in the form of 3 trilogies for each period of the development. I have yet to complete the final set of trilogy and although the latter books were not written by him personally, others agree that they continue to be true to the spirit of the original vision. The other item that people most often attribute to Asimov is his robot series and especially the “Three Laws of Robotics”. I remember reading somewhere that these three laws have since been included into the core philosophy in the study and development of robotic design in major universities in the world. This is just another example of how science fiction in time does indeed become science fact.

Asimov did live a full and productive life in terms of his writing. His final book “Forward the Foundation” was written months before his health declined to a point too far to allow him to continue writing. In it he writes about the end of an era and the hopeful beginning of a new one that should be embraced with open arms and mind. In a way, he must have known that his time is near as many see his final book as his good bye message to his family and loyal fans. I still remember that on the day that I heard that he had died, I felt like a part of my childhood had went along with him. Fortunately, I still have his books and stories to always remind me how it felt like being a kid in the public library reading about robots and other worlds.

Three Laws of Robotics:
1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
2. A robot must obey the orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws.
- Isaac Asimov 1942

Friday, August 15, 2003

Friday Five

A short entry today (for a change) with answers to this week's Friday Five.

1. How much time do you spend online each day?
Since part of my job description requires me to know the latest news on the web, I get to be online most of the time during the day. I would say that I spend almost 6 hrs online on business purposes and an additional 2 hrs in the evening for personal reasons.

2. What is your browser homepage set to?
My browser home page is set to my company’s internal webpage since I'm using a company provided laptop. Not very exciting or rebellious of me, I’m afraid.

3. Do you use any instant messaging programs? If so, which one(s)?
Yes. Been using MS Instant Messaging for awhile now.

4. Where was your first webpage located?
The very first webpage that I ever created was hosted on my old college, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Computer Science faculty webserver as part of a class assignment. I’m sure that it is not there anymore. Since then I haven’t started any other personal websites because I loathe maintaining them.

5. How long have you had your current website?
I guess I can consider this blog site as my current website so I guess I have only had it for 2 months.

Thursday, August 14, 2003

Night Markets

One of the things I missed most while studying the States was the visits to the weekly pasar malam (night market). Although I had a 24hrs convenience store selling my favorite bagels just a block away from where I lived in Madison back then, the experience cannot be compared to the hustle and bustle of the night market in Malaysia. I always try to tell my work colleagues who travel to Malaysia to take some time out of their schedule to experience it first hand and most of them report back to say that it was a truly unique experience for them.

Almost on any night of the week, there is a night market happening somewhere in the city. They are usually found in or near the suburbs where many of their customers are people who live around the area. Near the place I live, for instance, there are actually 2 night markets in a week and they are well frequented by people staying close by. On the designated days, selected areas are closed off so that the night market traders could put up their stalls and ply their wares. This usually happens around 6pm and by 8pm the area would usually be full of people. Depending of the area, night markets can be a very colorful and noisy event. This would often continue until just before midnight in most areas. The ones near my apartment are usually pretty subdued affairs but I’ve been to a few that could easily be mistaken as a street carnival.

The types items that are on sale at these night markets would usually depend on the income bracket of the majority of residence of the area. Some might markets may carry more expensive or exotic items if the area is known to be more upscale or frequently visited by expatriates. Some would be less so since they don’t have the market for expensive items so the choice of which night market to go to would depend on what one would like to purchase. What is common in any night market is the availability of local delicacies on sale for consumption. I actually believe that night markets are where the best local Malaysian foods are sold. For one, the food sellers can only depend on word of mouth to build a reputation for good food so most of the time they would make sure that what they have to offer is of the best quality. Of course Malaysians are also spoilt in the choices of cuisines that are available to them and this is no different at any good night market. With good quality foods that are affordably priced, it is no wonder that night markets are seen as a boon to the young and single working individuals.

I have to acknowledge that night markets are not unique to Malaysia alone. I have been to night markets in Hong Kong that I must admit are equally interesting and colorful. What is very unique to Malaysia is how the night market becomes the focus of the neighborhood where people of all races come together to buy daily items, food for the family dinner or just to enjoy the ambiance. The sights and sounds on the night market could be strange to some people who have never experience it but it would be a shame for any visitor to our fair country to miss it. If nothing else, one would be able to experience a little of the essence that makes up Malaysia by experiencing a stroll through the colorful and noisy pasar malam.

Wednesday, August 13, 2003

Mind Your Viruses

As part of my job description, I am responsible for maintaining a secure computing environment for my customer. While it does give me the perk of being able to browse the Net at any time I like, it also falls on my shoulders to be aware of any potential security threats to the computers under my care. These threats, most of the time, involves computer virus infection and on some rare occasions an intrusion attack to the internal networks. It is part of this job description that I came to know of the recent Blaster worm attacks that are ravaging the computers in the US yesterday. This particular computer worm, while not very destructive in nature, managed to cause substantial chaos to computers connected to the web which had the vulnerability it was designed to exploit. It was a good thing that when the vulnerability was first announced a few months ago, I quickly initiated a patch schedule for all computers under my care or else I would be faced with all the problems my counterparts in the US are facing.

Computer viruses have been around as long as computers became popular with home users. I still remember the old DOS viruses like Michelangelo that used to prey on unsuspecting boot sectors of old. Back then, computer viruses most probably would have be transmitted from using an infected diskette or from installing some file someone downloaded from a computer bulletin board. These types of viruses are almost extinct today due to the decline of diskette usage popularity and boot sector security features of today’s operating systems. In their place, new classes of computer virus that use social engineering methods to propagate across the multitude of computers on the web have begun to emerge. These new breeds of computer viruses are much more challenging to fight as they use human frailties to ensure their continued survival and success.

One thing to know about the computer viruses today is that it is totally harmless on its own. Much like their biological counterparts in the world, computer viruses need to piggyback on another executable component before it can begin to cause any damage. Most common delivery practice is to include virus codes into document macros or executable files that are sent through the email architecture. These emails are usually worded with the intention of getting the unwary recipient to download the attachment and running them on their computer. Most often than not, these infected attachments will then proceed to make changes on the victims computer to ensure that copies of itself gets distribute to other computers connected to the same network and hope that it reaches a similarly gullible person who would begin the cycle anew. Depending on what it was designed to do, the potential of damage these computer viruses can cause grows exponentially with every computer it gets executed on.

I truely believe that all the automated computer virus detection and protection system in the world would be worth a damn if the computer user continues to ignore common sense in dealing with unsolicited email. The most common answer that I got from computer users who got infected by viruses by running these attachments was that they were curious about the file that came attached to the email. Although they have been reminded time and time again of the old cliché of how curiosity killed the cat, there are always those who choose to ignore the reminders and execute the infected files. I don’t actually care how popular one is in the office but would some lonely stranger in the US really send you a love letter that comes with a screensaver executable? I am still astounded by how many people actually fall for this trick.

As long as there are gullible people using the computers who continue to ignore the reminders from their friendly IT staff, the potential of computer service disruption due to computer virus infection will continue to be a possibility. The anti-virus protection software that we have in the market today can only protect us from known computer viruses as long as the users keep them updated on a regular basis. Having anti-virus software installed on your computer doesn’t immunize it from virus infection as long as the human component of the computer equation is still ignorant of the methods being used to spread computer viruses. Although I appreciate that these clueless computer users are effectively making sure that my job continues to remain relevant, I would rather that they learn their lesson quickly and save us all the grief of having to deal with computer viruses.

Of course with the over-exposure of this type of computer worms and viruses in the media today, the computing environment is poised to meet the next evolution progeny of the computer virus. When everyone is sufficiently educated and proficient on ways of avoiding current computer virus infection, someone out there on the Net would surely design a better virus. We don’t know yet what the next generation of computer virus might look like but I have a feeling that they would use the Web as their chosen method of transmission. The technology now exist to easily run executable commands the moment a website is visited and the instructions on how to do something like that are frighteningly simple to obtained. I have yet to see this kind of virus in real life but I would bet that it is out there somewhere on the Net just waiting to be unleashed.

Tuesday, August 12, 2003

Gay Subtext In Comics

I read an interesting article that was posted today in the Gendergenres mailing list that touched on the issue of gay depiction in one of Marvel Comics latest titles. The posting reported the recent reactions of certain American interest group to the move of making the "Rawhide Kid", one of Marvel's old time western heroes, an implied homosexual. Of course, these groups cited the same old reasoning that these comics are promoting homosexuality and that young impressionable children will convert en mass to gaydom after reading the comic. As I have pointed out before in one of my blog entries last week, this idea is a bit far fetch seeing that there are more adults than children who actually buy comics. I wished I had some time to research it but from my observation of the people who buy comics at my favorite book shop, the average age of the readers seems to be between the ages of 25 to 35. This age group would have more disposable income required to purchase these comics compared to the so-called impressionable children.

I have to say that "Rawhide Kid" might be the first gay comic book character featured in his own title. There have been a few openly gay characters that have been depicted in comic book these past few years but most of them are supporting characters in a title. Among the notable ones are "Northstar", a Canadian mutant seen these days in an X-Men title on Marvel and the gay couple of "Apollo" and "Midnighter" seen monthly in Wildstorm's "Authority" comic. There are also indications that the new version of "Colossus" in the "Ultimate X-Men" books might be gay as well as Felicia Hardy aka "Black Cat" in the "SpiderGirl" comic books. With regards with the last 2 characters that I singled out, their sexual identity is more inferred from their interaction with other characters around them rather than outright disclosure as in the case of the other two.

Some of the comic books on sale today could actually be enjoyed with so many levels of meaning. The gay vibe is actually quite evident if one tries to read between the lines and pickup on the coded messages that are artfully laid down behind the garish splash of colors that are published month after month. I have personally heard of some gay groups in the US who have embraced the X-Men comics as a reflection of their struggle for acceptance. The concept that mutants are the object of fear and persecution rings clear in the minds of many gays that face the same types of obstacles in their quest of acknowledgement. Even the philosophical arguments between Xavier and Magneto that have been outlined in detail in the comic books strangely mirror similar arguments that we have heard in the gay community. I would doubt that a normal child would have the necessary sophistication to grasp these concepts much less be influenced by it.

As I grow older, I have started to realize these messages evident in my favorite titles. Though they are not overtly pro-homosexual, they resound in my mind as I try to make sense of my life of sexual ambivalence. Of course the idea of having a secret identity is well entrenched in the psyche of all of us who are still in the closet. We fear that by exposing our real identities, we would put ourselves in a position of being vulnerable and may hurt the people who are close to us. This is no different that the reason why Superman still maintains the mild mannered alter ego of Clark Kent all these years. If there is anything that is promoted by reading comics, it would surely be the lesson not to display your "super powers" to the mere mortals who might persecute or harm you. Certainly it does not encourage people to come up and expose your "secret identities" to the whole world.

Of course if I look as good as Superman does in spandex, I might not care too much if anyone knows who I get into bed with!

Monday, August 11, 2003

Merdeka !

August is a special month for Malaysians. For one, it is one of the 3 months when the whole country goes shopping crazy. Created in part to drum up the tourism industry, the government has designated these months when retailers are encouraged to organize special sales and promotions to get people to spend their money. For shopoholics like me, these promotional sales are hard to resist. The way I see it, not only am I getting something new for myself but I’m also contributing my bit to the country’s economy. Of course, one of the government reminders that one hears during the MegaSale periods is that you should only spend within your own means. They want you to spend the money but not to the extent of digging yourself into a financial grave!

Another reason why August is significant for Malaysians is that it is the month when we achieved independence from the British way back in 1957. For a few years now, I have noticed the increasing importance put on August as we as a nation look back on our history and review how far we have progressed. It used to be that National Day was only celebrated on 31st August but nowadays there seems to be some patriotic celebration or event that are planned for almost every week in the month of August. Of course we still have the National Day parades on the 31st like those we have year after year.

In a way, I agree with the government’s move to make the whole month of August as a “patriotic month”. Although patriotism is not something that needs to be expressed on only certain months of the year, we do sometimes need a focal point to renew that patriotic conviction to our country. By raising awareness of how much our predecessors have sacrificed in the past to obtained our independence and what we have go through to achieve the successes that we have today, we renew our comitment as a nation united to forge ahead with our future guided by vision and plans for development. Personally, I always look forward for August to come every year as I always feel closer to my country and history at about this time.

It is during this time that we are reminded how unique Malaysia truely is among the member countries of the world. For one, we have defied the odds that was stacked against us and made a country that comprised of non-homogeneous population actually work. Though the population as a whole are Malaysians we still have our own ethnic identities that we freely practice and share with each other. The fact that we achieved our independence from a colonial power free of unnecessary bloodshed is also one of the things that we can be proud of as not many can say that they share the same distinction. This is just another proof that we Malaysians need not have to resort to violence in our struggles moving ahead.

Does all this make me a patriot or nationalist? Perhaps but there are worse thing one could be. It took me the experience of living in another country to fully appreciate what I had taken for granted in the past. I try to remind myself occasionally how lucky that I am to be born a Malaysian and living at this current moment in time. This country of ours is on the verge of greater things to come and we as her citizens should contribute what we can to make that dream a reality. We should cherish our independence always and be ready to defend it to the best of our abilities from those who would take it away from us with any possible means. If we do not do it, who else will?

Friday, August 08, 2003

Friday Five

Answers to this week's questions on Friday Five :

1. What's the last place you traveled to, outside your own home state/country?
The last place that I traveled outside of Malaysia was to Hong Kong for 2 weeks on business. It was my 3rd trip there and I've basically done all the touristy stuff during that trip. Hong Kong was a bit faster pace that I'm usually used to but that made the trip exciting.

2. What's the most bizarre/unusual thing that's ever happened to you while traveling?
I have to say the most bizarre thing that ever happened to me while traveling must be the time I hookup with a total stranger while enroute to Malaysia from Los Angeles. We met at the Malaysian Airlines ticket counter while I was standing in line behind her. She was a young American girl who was traveling with a violin case which looked out of place with all her luggage. She was having some problems with her plane tickets and was looking for some help. I offered to help her with the ticket office and once her problem was cleared up, we ended up having some drinks at the airport before boarding. Once we found her seat after we boarded the plane, she asked the guy sitting next to her if he would mind changing seats with me so she'll have some company on the long flight. The guy sort of smirked at me and agreed to exchange his seat with mine. We spent the whole 28 hrs journey cuddling and making out (when they switched off the cabin lights) till we reached KL International Airport. She did suggest that we did more, namely try for the mile high club, but I wasn't drunk enough to agree. Once we disembarked at KL International Airport, we kissed goodbye and went on our separate ways as she had another flight to Australia to catch. Funny thing was, I never caught her name and she never asked for mine! If the girl was a guy who look like he had just step out of a A&F catalog then the events might probably turn out differently :)

3. If you could take off to anywhere, money and time being no object, where would you go?
I have to make a choice between going to Ireland or Madison, Wisconsin. I always wanted see the emerald rolling hills of the Irish country side for the longest time but I also miss my old collage stomping grounds at Mad Town. If money, time and opportunity were not an issue, I might do both in one trip.

4. Do you prefer traveling by plane, train or car?
Traveling by plane is still a novel thing for me to do but there is a certain mystique about traveling by train. If I have to choose between the two, I would have to say that I prefer traveling by train. I hate going on long journeys by car since I get car-sick easily.

5. What's the next place on your list to visit?
I'll be traveling to Singapore on business in a couple of weeks. It has been awhile since I've been there but Singapore is so much like home that I don't really expect anything exciting to happen on this trip. I wished that they were sending me to someplace I've never been before.

Thursday, August 07, 2003

Work Satisfaction

I have never really considered doing some part-time work outside of the office. Partly it is because by the time that I get back from work, I’m usually totally knackered and would rather just drop into a nice comfortable bed. My weekends are out of the question since they are the only time that I really have for myself that to spend them working for somebody else seems wasteful. It is not that I have any shortage of offers to earn some money outside of the office. In fact, I have been receiving a bunch of offers lately to do private consultancy work that would take some of my personal time out of the schedule but I just can’t find the drive to commit to them. Some of my friends whom I’ve told about these offers actually find it strange that I would so easily give up these opportunities that I had to make extra cash.

Looking back, I don’t really know why I keep declining the offers that come my way. It is not as if I’m rolling in money all the time. In fact, I am actually barely scraping by month after month with my single paycheck but I have to say that I’m still living comfortably with it. I still get to put a part of my take home pay aside for saving, insurance and some minor investments even after paying all my bills. On some occasions, I still have the opportuinity to pamper myself to a special treat if I plan for it in advance. It would be nice if I could have more money to spend but who doesn’t think the same regardless of how much they earn. I have to truthfully say that I don’t put much stock in living your life in the pursuit of wealth. Most probably this is because that I have been taught all my life to live only within my means and always have a safe nest egg for emergencies as no one would be there to pay your way out of a jam but yourself. Does this attitude make me an underachiever? Maybe but I’m not too sure if that is actually a bad thing to be.

When I first started working, I set a goal for myself that I would earn more money than my father ever did while he was still working. To date, I have not only achieved that goal but also surpassed it two-fold. I’ve also surpass all other people in my extended family in terms of monthly income which makes me a bit guilty for feeling that I should try to get more. Most of the people whom I’ve told them about this don’t really understand my feelings of guilt about it and frankly speaking neither do I. Maybe it is because I hate seeing how much more I have compared to them. My family is of course very proud of what I have done for myself and thankful that they would have me to help them out but that only makes me feel singled out and isolated. I try to be gracious about their praise but I can’t help feeling that this is adding to my increasing issues with isolation and abandonment.

I feel guilty for feeling greedy but am I actually greedy for wanting to achieve more in my life? If that achievement happens to come with monetary rewards must I always hesitate to grab it? I guess that these are the things that keep running in my mind and writing all this down helps me to vocalize it in my head. I may not find any answers to these questions but at least I have the opportunity to acknowledge them. It’s no wonder I can’t sustain any meaningful relationships. This is just the tip of the iceberg of my emotional baggage I carry around and some days I have to wonder how I can get up in the morning to face the world.

Somehow I still do.

Wednesday, August 06, 2003

Those Damned Idiots!

I came to work this morning and found the office abuzz with the news of the suicide bombing that occurred in Jakarta, Indonesia yesterday. Everyone was talking about it because it seemed that it was figured prominently on the news yesterday which of course I missed. In between the work I had to do today, I decided to logon to the Net to check out the recent news about what had actually happened. Internet news reporting has been a bit sketchy at the time I was browsing the Net but from what I gather, it was committed by members from JI as a warning to the Indonesian president not to execute their leader who is currently on trial for the Bali bombings. This latest attack at the Jakarta J.W. Marriot Hotel seem to bear very close resemblance the Bali bombing in terms of MO and execution with the exception that the person behind the wheel of the van which carried the destructive explosion was on a suicide run.

I find it very hard to reconcile the desire for martyrdom by suicide in this instance with what I know about the teaching of Islam. As a Muslim, I have been taught that self-slaughter is a major sin and yet there are those who see themselves as jihad fighters upholding the tenets of Islam believe that suicide runs are an acceptable recourse in their so-called struggle. From what little I understand of the Quran, one is said to be guaranteed a place in heaven in the event of death in the battlefield against an opponent in a holy war defending the religion. As such, how would anyone twist the meaning and intent to rationalize suicide actions that accompanied these destructions of property and innocence? How did they rationalize the innocent people in that hotel as enemy combatant worthy of elimination? What would push a person to willfully agree to participate in such extreme call to action?

A lot of people, particularly those in the West, would point out the fact that being a Muslim has been the underlying pattern that link the suicide “martyrs’ together. By their logic, it is assumed that there must be something in the religion that incites acts of violence against others. The way I see it, their logic is unfailingly flawed and their assumption discriminatory against those who do not prescribe to their own beliefs. It is not the religion that is at fault but truly those who manipulate religious fervor of the ignorant and dispossessed who must answer for the acts of violence. This is evident when we see instances of similar violence happening around the world without any connection to religion so why are they so quick to jump to the conclusion that the religion was at fault? I guess that the fact that humans fear what he does not understand or able to control does come into play in their assessment. I have to also acknowledge that a certain feeling of moral superiority above the rest of the world would also contribute to the erroneous conclusion.

I hold on to the belief that this war on terrorism will never end unless the causes that becomes the rallying points for individuals who manipulate religion for their own agenda has been eliminated. Issues like the welfare of the Palestinian state, continued occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq and the US’s continued irrational support to the Israeli regime have long been the point of contention of this clash of cultures. I would doubt that those who use these issues to stroke religious fervor would be able to find their audience once these wrongs have been righted. In an ideal world, this simple fact should be obvious to all but it is a pity that we don’t live in an ideal world. Until the powers that be realize this simple fact and act accordingly, future occurrence of the acts of destructions like yesterday’s Jakarta’s bombing are bound to continue. I just hope that those similarly inclined fanatics in Malaysia will realize that there are no reasons for them to follow in the footsteps of these misguided souls and decide to resort to such unnecessary actions to prove their devotion to Islam.

Tuesday, August 05, 2003

Why I Read Comics

My copy of "Daredevil" on DVD came in the mail from today. It took about 3 weeks after being shipped for it to arrive and for a while I thought that it had run into some problems. I was worried that the local customs would not let it through knowing that the movie was banned from being screened in cinemas when it was first released. Thankfully, not only did it arrive safely but it was also not inspected by customs. I have to say that this doesn't happen that often as I've had most of my packages from screened before they are released to the post office for delivery. So ... I was lucky this time. also actually has a very good replacement policy for non-delivery in the event that my package was confiscated so I still have that to fall back to. I haven't had the chance to sit down and view the whole DVD yet but I may do that this weekend if I don't have anything better to do. Who knows, it might inspire me to write a review of the DVD.

"Daredevil" is just one of the recent movie releases that was written based on the original stories presented in popular comic books. As a comic book fan and collector, I am very pleased to see some of my favorite characters getting their spotlight on the big screen. For the longest time, comic books have been seen as trivial entertainment meant for children. Many people look down on the comic book as an art form and discount them from being sources of intellectual discourse. There was even a time, when comics was seen as promoting juvenile delinquency (read the US Congress Senate Committee on the Judiciary. Juvenile Deliquency Interim Report - 1954 for more info) and homosexuality (read more about it in an article on which led to the industry itself practicing self-censorship in order to remain in business. All of this of course happened way before I started reading comics. By the time I was introduced to my first comic book, the comic book landscape was beginning to change.

My very first comic book was a second-hand issue of "The Incredible Hulk" which my uncle had bought for me from a junk store when I was 5 years old. At the time I didn't understand most of the words and had to get my parents to explain to me what it all meant. Since that issue, I was immediately hooked to the stories and four-colored panels. My parents would used to buy me a bunch of old used comics from the junk shop and I would devour each of them for cover to cover. Being the oldest in the family, I never really got to keep any of my toys as I had to pass them down the line but the comics were the only real thing that I had for myself because no one else in my family was interested in them. After awhile, my parents stopped buying comics for me partly to make me focus on my school books as well as they felt that I was getting too old for comic books. Of course that meant that I had to get them on my own by buying them from my daily allowance. 20 years later, I am still buying and reading comics.

What some people don't understand about comics is that if you read them long enough you would notice that they are not actually produced for children. Storylines in comic books today are actually catered to the aging audience who first read them in the 70's and who are still reading them today. Those in the know, realize that the industry actually grew and developed with our sensibilities as readers as we grew older. Issues that are now presented in comics are issues that actually mean more to those in their 30's than the kids today. It actually got so apparent that comic books were losing their young readers that some major players in the comic book industry had to revamp their best loved characters to be more accessible to newer reader and yet not alienate existing readers who knew the characters continuity by heart.

For a medium that most think as trivial, comic books are also invaluable tools that documented the social barometer of a particular period. Through the years, comics have always tried to be "hip" to the trends and mores of the American society at the time. Of course not all of it was reflective of the Malaysian condition at the time but still it is a quaint way of understanding our past history. If one were to study the comics from the 70's up to the present day, one would find definite milestones in comics that reflect the popular attitudes of the day. Milestones such as the death of Gwen Stacy in Spiderman as the lost of American innocence during the 70's and the dark anti-heroes of the 80's as a reflection of the disillusion with the establishment clearly marked periods in our shared history. As a reader, I find that comics have now moved from being a medium of entertainment to a treatise of social commentary.

Of course all this only adds to my enjoyment of curling up with the latest batch of comics that I buy month after month. I have yet to see the day when I would finally stop reading and collecting comics although comic books are fast becoming an expensive hobby to keep. I may even continue collecting until I can't anymore and until that day comes, keep your "serious" literature and let me enjoy my word-ballooned, four-colored panels of monthly adventures.

Monday, August 04, 2003

Guestbooks and Blogging

When I first started my online entries, I decided to include a guestbook for any reader to leave their comments behind. After looking around on the net, I’ve decide to register my guestbook with one guestbook provider website which will remain nameless. It first it was fine but gradually I noticed a few out of place guestbook entries that looked innocent at first but was actually linking my page with spam pages. It got so bad after awhile that I had to login to the site almost daily to edit the posts. The final straw happened today when I discovered that someone had place a HTML post on my guestbook that automatically refresh the window and directed all visitors viewing my guestbook to a porn site. What was worse was that the porn site that had hijacked my guestbook was not even a gay porn site! It was then I decided to cancel my registration and remove all links to that guestbook site. This is actually my first experience with guestbook spam which I never knew existed before.

Initially, I had thought that no one would be interested with what I had to say in my daily entries. I guess it was because I thought that it was not as insightful or informative as some of the blog sites that are out there. Most of the things that I write in my entries are my thoughts and reaction to whatever was happening in my life and surroundings. So you can imagine my surprise when I noticed that there were actually other people on the Net who were actually reading what I had written. It started out very subtle, a little bit here and there, an occasional nod to what I had said. Soon after I began to notice that my URL had been included in their links list and then my entries quoted in other blog sites. Truth be told, I was ecstatic the first time that someone quoted my entries but I was also feeling self-conscious about the bad grammar that I am convinced evident in my entries.

It is because of my realization that there are people out there who actually think that what I had to say merits a few minutes of their valuable time that I decided to replace my guestbook with an entry comments link. Of course I had to ask Nizam about it since I have no idea how to do it. I may have a degree in Computer Science but when it comes down to creating websites and all, I’m about as good as a monkey with a typewriter trying to write a novel. Ever since I started my online entries, Nizam has been my blog guru who never seems to tire of me asking blog tips from him. It was him who pointed me to the site that I could register for comments link which I will have inserted at the end of every blog entries beginning today. I do hope that the comments left behind by my site visitors would give me the inspiration to continue on producing the daily entries.

In other news, they will be uploading different Real Media clips of the blooper reel from Dawson’s Creek daily at Katie Holmes fan site this week. It would be the last time these clips will be made available for download before they are gone altogether due to bandwidth constraints. So if you’re a fan of the show like me, you should mosey down over to the site and download the clips which will be changed daily until this weekend. They are actually pretty hilarious!

Friday, August 01, 2003

Friday Five

Easy questions this week from Friday Five.

1. What time do you wake up on weekday mornings?
My alarm clock goes off at 6:15am but usually I put it on snooze for another 15 minutes so I’m usually only up at 6:30am.

2. Do you sleep in on the weekends? How late?
On weekends that I don’t have to do any banking, I would try to sleep in and catch up on my sleep which is usually until at least 10am. On bank weekends (2nd & 4th weekend of the month), I usually have to get up by 8am to make sure that I get to the bank before it gets too busy. I’ll get a past due notice on my CC bill if I miss those weekends.

3. Aside from waking up, what is the first thing you do in the morning?
Turn off my alarm clock which is set so loud that it could wake up the dead! After that I usually turn on my CD player and play whichever CD I left in the night before to get into the mood to face a new day. At the moment, I keep Gareth Gates’s debut CD ‘What My Heart Wants to Say” in the CD player. I just love waking up to his version of “Unchained Melody”

4. How long does it take to get ready for your day?
It takes me an hour to get ready for a new day and I don’t even need to wear any make-up! I know some friends who are ready in like 5 minutes but I take 5 minutes just to get started. I don’t know if any other guys take as much time as me to get ready but you can almost set a clock on how long it takes me to prepare in the morning.

5. When possible, what is your favorite place to go for breakfast?
Breakfast??? I think that the last time I actually sat down for a proper breakfast on weekdays was when I was in secondary school 13 years ago! I usually would only have time to grab a few energy bars or some toast before walking to my office which is about 30 minutes away from where I live. I don’t drive to work because traffic is a murder.

The only times that I get the chance to actually have breakfast would be on the weekends that I don’t sleep in. Most often than not, I would go to a nearby food stall which sells my favorite breakfast “Nasi Lemak” (Coconut Rice). The one they have there is simply to die for and portions are huge for such a cheap price of about RM3 (USD 80 cents) with all the trimmings.