Friday, January 30, 2004

New toy for the weekend

I just got a call from the Courts Mammoth folks and was told that the new TV and home entertainment system that I ordered earlier this month will be delivered to my house tonight at 10pm. I am so excited about it that I just can't stop grinning ear to ear because I have been looking forward for this for a long time. I would also be able to make arrangements to move my old system to my parents’ house when I go back to their house this weekend. I’m just tingling with anticipation.

I’m going to go home now and wait for the delivery guys to come but before that these are the answers to this week’s Friday Five:

You have just won one million dollars:

1. Who do you call first?
Somehow this is really a tough one to answer. For one, I want to surprise the people that I would tell about it once I do get the money but I guess I wouldn’t have the will power to really wait that long. If I would pick the first person that I would call if I won a million dollars, I would have to say that it would be my parents and I would tell them that they needed worry about paying their mortgage ever again.

2. What is the first thing you buy for yourself?
The first thing that I would buy for myself would be something obscenely flashy because I feel that I need to ease myself into the idea of having that much money. I would have to say that the first thing that I would buy is a holiday trip overseas for a few weeks while the excitement at home about it dies down a bit.

3. What is the first thing you buy for someone else?
It would be really much of a buy but if I won that much money I would first make sure that all my parents’ mortgage and any debts for us children are paid off in full so they can enjoy their retirement in peace.

4. Do you give any away? If yes, to whom?
I’ve always told myself that I would do this if I had a lot of money. My 2 favorite charities that would get some of this hypothetical money would be the local cancer fund (MAKNA) and the halfway house for abandoned children and old folks at Kuala Lumpur General Hospital.

5. Do you invest any? If so, how?
What ever is left after all this, I would probably invest in the property market either by buying a piece of land or house. I still feel that they are the safest investment around and property seldom ever depreciate with age. I always wanted to have a piece of land to call my own.

BTW ... we would be having our Eid Ul-Adha this coming Sunday so we would have a day off this coming Monday. For those celebrating the Eid, I would like to wish a 'Selamat Hari Raya Aidil Adha' and to the rest (if you're in Malaysia) to have a nice break from work. Spend it with the family.

Thursday, January 29, 2004

Have you hugged your IT support person today?

I have been working hard for the past 2 days to contain the recent outbreak of the new MyDoom worm virus at my customer’s office. We were lucky this time since the first outbreak of the virus happened during US work hours which meant that my US counterparts had to deal with it first. Of course that didn’t stop them from calling me at 3 in the morning to inform me of the virus threat and to put me on standby should they need to get something done for Asia. Anyway... by the time I got into the office, the worst has passed for us as our anti-virus vendor had already provided us with the latest definition file that would fix this virus. The only thing that I had to do by then was to make sure that my automated virus definition update process was running and that all the computers at my customer’s site got the updated file. We still have blocks up on our email servers to scan all incoming and outgoing email attachments which does slow down our email distribution system a bit but it is well worth it considering we are consider liable if our systems start distributing viruses.

MyDoom worm doesn’t seem to cause much damage to the machine it infects per se but it does use the resources of the machine to launch a denial of service attack to several website this coming February month. While the user can still potentially use the computer, these zombified machines may run slower than normal as it continues to bombard the intended target when the viral payload is triggered. Our team here is working hard to put controls in place that will block the package, if there are any left in our network, from going out and jamming the intended target. We have the means to do this but I doubt that every one would be able to do the same especially those home users.

This latest virus and most of its ilk could have been easily avoided if people simply exercise a measure of common sense when operating their computer and/or email account. I think that we have seen so many similar attacks reported in the media that almost every one who owns a computer should know by now to be wary of unsolicited attachment files coming from unsubstantiated email addresses. I could rant on and on (I already did this in a previous entry) about opening unverified attachments but I guess that it all boils down to the individual. As long as they see the computer just as a black box and have no basic or the even the desire to learn about the basics of how their computer works, they would never be able to learn this lesson until they themselves get hit by a virus and have to lose their data.

Of course by then, it would be too late and more often than not they come crying to IT support people like us to pull a miracle and salvage their years of work. Sometimes, if they are lucky and we like them enough, this can be done. Of course if they come to us all hysterical and blaming us for everything short of the end of the world because they made the stupid mistake of opening something that they should have not opened in the beginning, we might not be as friendly or helpful. It pays to be kind to your suffering IT guy. Most of us are power hungry geeks who would never pass up the opportunity to act out our fantasy of becoming the all mighty Wizard of Oz. You may be a director in some company to others but to us you are only another insignificant blip on our network.

Maybe this is just me enjoying my little ego trip a little too much today?

Wednesday, January 28, 2004

Explorace 01-02, Airdate: 28 Jan 2004

Previously on Explorace, team Sanjeev and Ravin faced of against team Kumar and Toh in race that started at the Ipoh Railway Station, Perak. The race split the teams up with one half looking for the clue envelope in a cave temple and the other went on a quest to find the perfect coffee beans in Ipoh market. From clues that they obtain at their respective checkpoints, one team had to become a stable boy at a horse farm for an hour in their quest to find their golden box while the other team had to find their golden key a the maze-like jumble of corridors and stairs at a disused tin-mining dredging complex. With both gold box and key in had, the teams were then directed to complete their next task of tapping 10 rubber trees before being directed to their last destination at Kellie’s Castle where team Sanjeev and Ravin crossed the finish line first with a commanding lead and became the first team to qualify into the next round of competition.

Explorace moves to Kuantan, Pahang this week for the race between team Hana and Syari against team Ayu and Zoro which began at the Kuantan Mosque grounds. Both teams were equally excited and eager to begin the race which first will split the team into two routes. Route 1 pitted equally energetic contestants, Hana and Ayu, against each other in a race to find a Buddhist monk at Gua Charas for their next destination clue that they will get if they answer a travel trivia question correctly. In the second cave temple hunt in back to back episodes, the two contestants were directed to find the bus that would take them to the bus stop near the cave temple where they would find the bicycle that they will use to cycle the rest of the way.

Both Hana and Ayu seemed to reach the bus station at almost the same time thanks to the directions of the helpful locals. I do believe that they got a much easier time getting directions compared to the teams from last week as they were very calm and polite about it instead of being hyper-competitive all the time. Hana was also told which bus to take to the cave temple when she called Syari to tell her partner where she had to go to. This led me to believe that either Syari was herself from the area or that she has really done her homework well in terms of getting to know the lay of the land. Hana was able to board the bus first and tried to keep out of sight to try to jump ahead of her competition by not tipping her off of which bus to board which would have worked for her if there were more buses at the bus station. Ayu was able to find the correct bus with time to spare and the two competitors were off to their next destination.

In Route 2, Syari and Zoro were directed to take a taxi to Kuala Sg Chini to find a local caretaker for their quiz questions. If they fail to answer their question, they have to complete their penalty task which for this week requires them to canoe from Kuala Sg Chini jetty for the distance of 10 km to the Chini Lake Resort where they would get their envelope containing the clue for their next destination. Both arrived at almost the same time after a short taxi race that saw both contestants racing neck to neck for most of the time. I’m not sure if it was the editing or if they made some changes after the first race but it seemed that finding the person who had their destination clue was much easier this week compared to the 1st episode. After failing to answer their trivia question, they moved to their respective canoes to begin their 10 km paddle to their next destination at the Chini Lake Resort.

In a post race confession, Zoro admitted that she had a lot of problems with the canoeing section of the race as she had not prepared for it. She found it difficult for her to control the canoe which caused her to frequently his the river bank during her 10 km paddle which left her exhausted when she finally reached the Chini Lake Resort. Syari, on the other hand, seemed to be comfortable with the physical task and held a commanding lead of nearly 30 minutes ahead of Zoro. After reaching the resort, both contestants were directed to go to the Tokoh Museum to meet up with a designated local who be the passenger that they have to take to RM Batik shop on a trishaw. After completing the first clue, Syari was leading Zoro by about half an hour.

Hana and Ayu didn’t run into any problems finding their assigned bicycles that they have to use to get to the cave temple to complete Route 1. While Ayu sped off easily on quest to find the monk, Hana ran into some problems trying to balance on the bicycle. In a confession in the taxi on her way to the Museum, Syari confided that Hana was in for a tough time with the bicycle as she knew that Hana would have a problem with balancing on it. In what I think is a first on this series; Hana had to be bleeped out when she fell off the bicycle at one point of the journey. Fortunately for her, she was not hurt and seemed to take her accident in stride.

Due to her troubles on the bicycle, Ayu was able to surge ahead and find the monk who had their trivia question first which she also failed to answer. The penalty task that they had to complete for this section was to climb up to the main cave where the Sleeping Buddha statue was and search for the envelope containing their next destination in a dark, wet and slippery cave. Hana seemed to be able to close the gap after also failing to answer her travel trivia question as both contestants seem to be racing neck to neck again by the time they completed the climb up to the Sleeping Buddha. In a refreshing twist, the envelope that they have to find was hidden in the cave along with several decoy envelopes that had them running all over the cave to find the correct one. After several tries, Ayu managed to find the correct envelope first and was quickly on her way to Club Med, Cherating which was to be their next destination. On the way out, we get to see Hana trip and fall down again which she recovered gracefully although I can only imagine her embarrassment having fallen twice on national TV. I also think that she had her bicycle helmet on backwards when she cycled back to the main road to get a taxi to Cherating. At least I think it was backwards since it looked funny to me.

When we returned to Route 2, we find Syari arriving first at the Tokoh Museum and finding the correct passenger that she was suppose to bring to the RM Batik shop which was a local place where visitors could draw and paint their own batik piece which was the task that they have to complete for this round. Since they were not given a map, Syari had to ask around for directions from the locals and fortunately for her the shop seemed to be a well known place because she kept asking directions for “RK Batik” instead of RM Batik which was the correct destination as was stated in the clue. Once she reached her destination, she was given a piece of piece of cloth and batik design to copy from and color to the satisfaction of the shop worker before being allowed to search for the gold box that contained their final destination.

While Syari was getting into the batik making process, Zoro arrived at the museum and located her passenger. Unlike her competitor, Zoro ran into problems with her trishaw right from the beginning. Unused to the uneven weight distribution of driving the trishaw, Zoro had a difficult time steering the trishaw straight. She was unable to compensate for the extra weight which caused her trishaw to apparently hit a parked car which unfortunately for her caused some damage to the wheel of the trishaw. She had to get down and look for help to try to fix the now bent wheel. The wheel problem was further aggravated when she hit a road divider later which forced her to push the trishaw part of the way and caused her to lose even more time in the race. By the time Zoro reached the batik shop, Syari was almost finishing her batik piece and was soon later on her way to find the golden box that was hidden somewhere in the shop. After what I would think was a frustrating search for her, Syari managed to locate the box and was on her way to the team task destination located at a fishing village at Kampung Beserah.

In another taxi race to their destination, Hana managed to get the faster taxi this time and arrived ahead of Ayu at Club Med, Cherating. Once there she was directed to take the assigned shuttle to the nearby beach where she had to take a boat to Pulau Ular where the golden key that she had to search for was anchored on the sea bed along with several decoy boxes. She called in to check her partner’s progress and shared her excitement about being in Club Med. Syari also told to read the clue carefully so she didn’t miss anything which was a definite sign for me that Syari was wise in the ways of reality race shows. As luck would have it, Hana run into problems again getting the correct box that held the golden key that she was supposed to find. In a confession, she told us that she mush have opened 7 or 8 boxes before finding the correct on which cause her to loose the slim lead that she have over Ayu. After finding the golden key, both contestants had to drive to a salted fish processing factory and wait for their respective partners before beginning the team task.

While Hana and Ayu were heading for the salted fish factory, Syari was having a frustrating time finding the correct bus to get to Kampung Beserah for the final team task. She called Hana on the phone and vented her frustration and fear of losing her huge lead over the other team just because the bus was hard to get. To her credit, Hana kept her head and managed calmed down an agitated Syari. I have to say that I initially thought that Hana was the excitable one of the group but in a pleasant twist she turned out to be the more level headed of the two. Syari finally got a bus that would take her to meet up with her partner just as Zoro finished her batik piece and started searching for the team’s gold box. I have to say that the show producers really hid it well as I would never think to search for the box in the clothes rack. Zoro promptly faced the same problem Syari had with the bus as well as the problem of finding small change for the bus fare. She had to beg for bus fare from a kind stranger as she was not sure that they bus would have change for the RM 50 that she was given for the race.

Keeping the huge lead all the way to Kampung Beserah, Syari was lucky enough to find a young man who was willing to drive her all the way to the salted fish processing factory where Hana was waiting for her. Since it was not specified in the clue how she was supposed to get there, I think this was a valid and smart move on her part as this choice would cut out the time that she would have needed to find the correct location. Her arrival must have caused Ayu to think that there was similar transport arranged for Zoro when she arrives at Kampung Beserah which she called Zoro and informed her to expect. Unfortunately for the viewers, we don’t get to see if Zoro actually waited for a car to take her to meet up with Ayu since it was not included by the editor.

The team task that they had to complete at the salted fish processing factory involved getting a wheelbarrow full of fish from the beach and cart it over to the processing plant where they had to clean the fish before being put out to dry. We get to see Hana almost falling down again for the third time which really tempted me to give her a nickname for future reference but I decided against it as I didn’t want to be cruel. In fact I have to admit that I am as klutzy as her that kind of endears this team to me. Despite the close calls, the two manage to laugh it off and work together to clean the fish that they were given and later laid the processed fish cuts out to dry in the sun. After completing this task, they were allowed to open the gold box with they gold key that they had to reveal the last destination that they had to go to.

To reach their final destination, the teams were directed to follow a marked path on the nearby beach to reach the Teluk Chempedak Beach were their final task awaited. The final task which should be familiar to Survivor viewers involved digging up jigsaw pieces that have been buried under marked mounds to complete their puzzle. Team Hana and Syari was well into this task when team Ayu and Zoro started their salted fish processing challenge. By the time team Ayu and Zoro completed their job; team Hana and Syari had already finished their puzzle and walked up to the finish line with a commanding lead of 40 minutes. Team Ayu and Zoro decided to walk to the final puzzle beach instead of trying to get to it faster in hopes to conserve their strength for the final challenge but I think that this was a wrong strategy to take especially when you are quite a ways behind. I guess that somewhere during their walk they must have realized this mistake and have accepted that they would not be able to beat team Hana and Syari. Despite the knowledge that they were not going to win this race they were still able to keep their spirits up and even break into a song on their way to finishing the race. Once they completed their puzzle, they were congratulated for finishing but were informed that they have been eliminated from the race.

All in all, tonight’s episode was better that last week and we also get to see some of the strategy used by the contestants. The editing was a bit more exciting this time around as it was tighter and more in line like a reality show although I have to say that towards the end it got a bit loose again. I’m not sure if all the episodes are already edited but it would be interesting if they were able to improve the editing in proceeding episodes as the season progressed. At least this time around the viewers are spared the annoying person search to get the clue envelope that plagued the last episode. The refreshing twist of putting in decoys in what they had to find also help level the playing ground a bit and made the game less like one that the contestant need only blindly get to a place to meet a man who will give them something. As for the contestants this week, I believe that they were equally balanced but good strategy and luck helped team Hana and Syari, which I think I will give the nickname Team Spunky for their good humor and personality, to surge ahead and qualify for the next round.

Next week Explorace goes to Johor Bahru, Johor with 2 more teams and we also get to see the episode with the bloody nose (lip?) shot that they have been using on the promos.

Tuesday, January 27, 2004

Shopping for discounts

I have been buying most of my DVDs from since I first got my DVD player back in 1999. I have no complaints about their service to date and they still have the best shipping rates to Malaysia for DVDs that I’ve seen on the Net. Their 30% discount for pre-release orders are really hard to pass by and on top of that they also have an additional discount if you get your friends and family to purchase the same DVDs that you purchased online.

If you are already ordering your DVDs online and would like to get additional discounts to any of the titles that I’m ordering below, drop me a line and I’ll be glad to include your email in my discount circle. I think the discount is 10% on top of the already discounted price but it is first come first serve only. In the future, I will post any new orders that I make on this site so anyone interested on getting the discount can send me an email.

Delivery estimate: Apr 26, 2004 - May 5, 2004
1 of The Matrix Revolutions (Widescreen Edition)

Delivery estimate: May 4, 2004 - May 13, 2004
1 of Babylon 5: Complete Fifth Season

Delivery estimate: Apr 20, 2004 - Apr 29, 2004
1 of Ripley's Game

Delivery estimate: Apr 13, 2004 - Apr 22, 2004
1 of Will & Grace: Season Two

Delivery estimate: Mar 24, 2004 - Apr 1, 2004
1 of Schindler's List (Widescreen Edition)

Delivery estimate: Mar 24, 2004 - Apr 1, 2004
1 of Dilbert - The Complete Series

Delivery estimate: Mar 24, 2004 - Apr 1, 2004
1 of Futurama, Vol. 3

Delivery estimate: Mar 24, 2004 - Apr 1, 2004
1 of Maurice

Delivery estimate: Mar 18, 2004 - Mar 26, 2004
1 of Star Trek Voyager - The Complete First Season

Delivery estimate: Mar 18, 2004 - Mar 26, 2004
1 of Queer as Folk - The Complete Third Season (Showtime)

Delivery estimate: Feb 19, 2004 - Feb 27, 2004
1 of Star Trek VI - The Undiscovered Country (Special Edition)

Delivery estimate: Feb 19, 2004 - Feb 27, 2004
1 of The Critic - The Entire Series

Delivery estimate: Mar 5, 2004 - Mar 15, 2004
1 of Camp

Delivery estimate: Mar 5, 2004 - Mar 15, 2004
1 of Roswell: Season 1

Delivery estimate: Mar 1, 2004 - Mar 10, 2004
1 of Angel - Season 3

Monday, January 26, 2004

CD Review: "Go Your Own Way" by Gareth Gates

After the hugely successful debut CD, “What My Heart Wants To Say”, Gareth Gates returns with another crowd pleaser in his follow-up effort entitled “Go Your Own Way”. I saw this CD in the music store during the Chinese New Year holidays while looking for the new Josh Groban CD and immediately decided to buy it as well considering how much I enjoyed his previous work. The 14 track CD comes with a slip that you can send in to get your free VCD bonus disk with 4 of Gate’s music video although you can get the bonus disk pre packaged with the CD outside of Malaysia. This CD version is also different from the 2-disk version that they released in the UK and most of Europe. Several of the songs on the original UK release that were critically panned by the critics there were absent from the Asian market version which leads me to believe that the CD was repackaged after its initial release at the end of 2003. I would be interested in getting my hands on the original UK release to find out why those missing songs were so hated by his fans there.

The majority of the songs on this CD were written and produced by the team that worked on his debut CD as well as for other acts like Westlife, Boyzone and Britney Spears. The continued collaboration between this team and Gareth Gates immediately brings forth comparisons between this CD and his debut album. I have to say that while some songs on this new album carried the same tonal signature of the first album, a sufficient number of these new songs have refreshingly branched out to new and interesting avenues that makes the album a decent evolution in his musical career for this 19 year old artist. Listener to this album not only get to hear a more matured and confident Gareth Gates but also get the opportunity to delve deeper into the person through the words that he penned himself for 3 of the songs on the album.

Like the first album, this CD opens with a heartfelt ballad entitled “Say It Isn’t So” which successfully showcases his wonderful soulful voice. As hook songs goes, this particularly heartbreaking slow tune fills the role of aural appetizer that begins the feast that follows more than adequately. With equal sense of longing and heartache, the beautiful vocals on this track lift this song and leave the listener wanting more which Gareth does not disappoints with the next song, “Skeletons”. In “Skeletons” the tempo is kicked up a notch with mesmerizing backbeats that is reminiscent of something that the Backstreet Boys would be equally comfortable in. I did feel that the intro to this song was a bit on the pedestrian side but it was quickly forgiven once the song starts to build to the catchy chorus that left me humming the song for quite a time.

The momentum of the CD would next be pulled back a bit with the next mid tempo song with the unfortunate title of “Listen To My Heart”. I say unfortunate because the title will always remind me of the Roxette song from my secondary school days. Regardless of the song title, the song is actually quite nice to listen to although the Westlife sound influence was quite evident in the song arrangement. In a refreshing departure from the previous songs, opening salvo of trumpets flare and flow into a hypnotic backbeat that signify the arrival of the next song, “Too Soon To Say Goodbye”. The cute and somewhat cheeky arrangement brought forth a playful mood for this light but enjoyable song.

“Lies” follows next with an intro riff that is fairly familiar to those who have listened to his first album. From the familiar strains of the same opening that “Anyone of Us (Stupid Mistake)” previously had, the song takes on a slightly different route when we reach the chorus. Although the chorus is quite enjoyable onto itself, the similarities to his previous mega hit are too glaring that you can’t help but prefer the previous song over the latter. The same problem also occurs in the song that follows, “Nothing’s Gonna to Stop Us Now”. The song arrangement and tonal signature is so similar to “Lies” that one cannot be faulted to think that they were the same song. I would think that I would be able to enjoy this song more if it came anywhere other than this close to “Lies” as it is actually a good song onto itself.

The next song sounds very much like what bands like “Steps” or “S Club 7” would do for one of their album. “It Happens Every Time” is quite the upbeat tune that should appeal to pre pubescent girls as well as older audience who never outgrew peppy pop songs. I’m feel a bit embarrassed to admit that the song is quite addictive listening and left me humming the tune after a few listens. “All Cried Out” that follows was written by Gareth Gates himself and have the distinction of causing me to pause and ponder the significance of them sampling the popular refrain from the old Human League song, “Human” into this song. Regardless of the strange choice, this song is quite enjoyable to listen to and should go well with his fans.

In “Sunshine”, Gareth ventures into uncharted territory for him by tackling an R&B influenced song. The radio friendly mid tempo song goes down fairly well although at times it seems that he was somehow channeling the voice of a younger George Michael into his performance. His smooth voice does lend itself beautifully to the tune that he does not need to imitate others to carry the song. The next song that follows is titled “Spirit in the Sky” which was recorded for the 2003 Comic Relief Charity event and featured the Kumars of the “The Kumars at No. 42” TV show. Part gospel and part comedic skit on top of the inclusion of sounds of the sitar and Indian style vocalization makes this song a bit weird to say the least. I guess that this is one of the “you need to be there to appreciate it” type of song which when taken out of the context it was performed in is not easy to understand.

In another song written by Gareth himself, “Groove With Me”, we find the invisible presence of George Michael very much present in this attempt to sex up the album. While the effort was somewhat commendable, I don’t think that Gareth has the years or the maturity to pull off this type of song and lyrics in a believable manner. For now, he does not have the right stuff and attitude to make this song work. I also found that the next song that followed, “Absolutely”, eerily reminded me of early Wham! songs to complete the George Michael imitation portion of this CD. Having 2 songs back to back that sounds so much alike was an unnecessary distraction from me enjoying the songs for their own merits.

The last song penned by the artist himself on this album was the head bopping piece titled “Club Hoppin’”. I have to say that the song opens with a somewhat boring intro riff but fortunately for us the excitement kicks up as we approach the chorus. Once into the groove, listeners will find themselves in an amusing and foot-tapping tune that would surely be coming to a dance floor near you in the near future. From the abrupt end of the head bopping song, the album closes with a mid tempo sensual song. The song “Soul Affection” is another attempt at R&B influenced melodies which I found to work better that the previous attempt in this same album. The song allows the listener to savor Gareth’s wonderful vocals one last time before winding down a satisfying finish.

For an album that boldly declares in the album title its intentions of moving away from the shadows of its successful predecessor, I have to say that there is still much work to be done here. The variety of song styles that exist in this album goes to show that Gareth is still looking for his niche to excel while not moving too far away from the style of his debut album that put him on the map in the first place. There were a few missed opportunities for development in this album considering the potential that Gareth shown in his debut CD. Although this follow up effort is an accomplished product onto itself, one could not help but feel that more could be done. Hopefully this potential gets more attention in his next outing.

Rating: 3.5/5

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

Home alone.

The office was not as empty as I expected today as there are a few of my Chinese colleagues who were still working today. I guess that they would be on leave starting tomorrow when they start to make their way back to their hometowns for their reunion dinners. I wonder how many people will turn up to work tomorrow?

My mum has already made plans to take my younger siblings with her and meet up with my father who is currently in Tioman Island for work. If I did not have to be in KL on stand-by, I would surely join them as I have never been to Tioman myself. Maybe I could plan something with S next time. He did say that he wanted to learn how to scuba dive one day and that sounds interesting although I wonder if one is allowed to get a diving license if they don’t know how to swim?

Anyway... I recently bought a Sony Playstation 2, an early birthday present for myself, which should keep me occupied during the upcoming Chinese New Year holidays. I’ve stocked up with enough of my favorite CRPG games for the console that I think that I would wear out the controllers pretty soon. I’ve also have a bunch of new DVDs that I have not had the chance to go through which will keep me glued to the TV as well as “The Last Samurai” starting its run this week on the cinemas. All in all, there is a lot for me to look forward to this week.

Come to think of it, I don’t know what is sadder, me buying myself a PS2 for my 31st birthday or that I actually look forward to spend most of the time indoors in front of an idiot box alone.

Friday, January 16, 2004

Friday? Fabulous....

A bunch of my office staff will be taking their extended vacation for Chinese New Year beginning next Monday and it would be most likely that I would have the office all to myself next week. Despite the long holidays, I have pulled stand-by duty for the whole of next week to cover those who will be taking the week off. I guess that’s part of the job when you’re the minority in a mostly Chinese staffed office. The job still pays me a monthly paycheck so I can’t complain.

Weekend plans? Saturday is still up in the air. I may go a watch LOTR: ROTK again or maybe some other movie. I don’t think that the Last Samurai is playing locally yet. The other option is to go down to the Kinokuniya bookstore in KLCC to see if they got the latest Christopher Rice novel in stock yet. I got both of his earlier novels there which was surprising considering the subject matter. I wonder if they actually do have a gay fiction section that I don’t know about.

Sunday is already fixed. I’m going to go order my new TV and home theater system. I’m stocked about that which just goes to show how much of a gadget geek I am.

Friday Five is back. Listed below are my answers to this week’s quiz.

1. What does it say in the signature line of your emails?
Depending on which email you’re looking out. On my work email, the normal confidential clause comes preset on my signature line. On my personal mail, nothing. I don’t bother too much about the cutesy quotes after my customary “Cheers”.

2. Did you have a senior quote in your high school yearbook? What was it? If you haven't graduated yet, what would you like your quote to be?
In my high school yearbook, if one can call it a year book, my senior quote was “Veni, Vidi, Vici” which translates to “I came, I saw, I conquered”. I’ve actually forgotten why I choose that.

3. If you had vanity plates on your car, what would they read? If you already have them, what do they say?
I don’t think that we are allowed to have vanity plates in Malaysia. If they did allow it, I would probably choose my high school nickname.

4. Have you received any gifts with messages engraved upon them? What did the inscription say?
I got a shale paperweight as a birthday present from E once which had the inscription “Eternal. Forever. Together”. This was back when we were still an item. Sadly, I lost that paperweight when I was in Madison. Never really got over that lost.

5. What would you like your epitaph to be?
Although epitaphs on tombstones are not culturally common here, I guess I could go with “Not Alone Anymore”.

Thursday, January 15, 2004

Hello neighbor ...

I have to attend a conference call tonight so I have to skip today's entry but I will leave you with a bit of news that a space geek like me find really exciting.

NASA's Rover Rolls Onto Mars Surface
By ANDREW BRIDGES, AP Science Writer

PASADENA, Calif. - The Spirit rover successfully rolled onto Mars early Thursday, placing its six wheels on solid martian ground for the first time since the robot bounced down on the Red Planet nearly two weeks ago.

Engineers and scientists at NASA (news - web sites)'s Jet Propulsion Laboratory cheered loudly after receiving confirmation at 5 a.m. EST that the maneuver was a success. "Mars now is our sandbox, and we are ready to play and learn," said JPL director Charles Elachi.

Black-and-white pictures beamed from Spirit showed its two rear wheels on the Martian soil, with its lander behind it. Two parallel tracks led away from the lander. "This is a big relief. We are on Mars. Spirit has landed," said Rob Manning, manager of the entry, descent and landing portion of the mission. "Our wheels are finally dirty."

Jennifer Trosper, mission manager for surface operations, opened a celebratory bottle of champagne at a news conference. "Now we are the mission that we all envisioned 3 1/2 years ago," she said. Elachi noted President Bush's call on Wednesday for moon missions and long-term robotic and human journeys to Mars.

"We at NASA, we move awfully fast," Elachi joked. "In less than 15 hours, we are doing our first step." Spirit was to have taken less than two minutes to travel the 10 feet from the unfolded petals of its lander onto Mars. Engineers said the move likely would be the riskiest of Spirit's entire three-month mission.

Engineers delayed the move for three days to give Spirit time to reposition itself atop its lander, where it had sat since arriving. Spirit had to turn in place 115 degrees to line up with one of the exit ramps that ring the lander.

Originally, Spirit was to roll straight off the lander on its ninth day on Mars. But the now-deflated air bags that cushioned the rover's Jan. 3 landing blocked that way, forcing Spirit to perform a slow pirouette, turning clockwise in three separate moves.

Mission plans called for Spirit to spend several days parked beside its lander after rolling off, giving it time to find its bearings and perform some preliminary analysis of the soil and rocks around it.

NASA then planned for Spirit to begin a meandering trip in the direction of an impact crater about 825 feet away. Spirit was designed to travel dozens of yards a day.
On its way, scientists said Spirit would prospect for geologic evidence that the now dry Red Planet was once wetter and hospitable to life. Spirit landed in the middle of Gusev Crater, a 95-mile-wide depression scientists believe contained a lake during the ancient past.

Even while parked, Spirit remained busy. It used its nine cameras to take at least 3,900 pictures of its surroundings. Mission scientists used those images, including sweeping panoramas, to chart the rover's planned movements.

The $820 million project also includes a second, identical rover named Opportunity. Spirit's twin should land on the opposite side of the Red Planet on Jan. 24.

Sojourner, the far smaller rover that NASA landed on Mars in 1997, spent a single day atop the Pathfinder lander before shoving off to roam its surroundings. It rolled about 300 feet and provided pictures and chemical analyses of Mars' surface before losing contact. Spirit is far more complex and took 12 days to unfold and ready itself.

A few hours before the rover's big move, Vice President Dick Cheney toured the Mars mission control center and praised the staff as "America's most dedicated and successful scientists and researchers."

His visit Wednesday coincided with President Bush's announcement in Washington of a renewed push for space research. Bush unveiled a plan to send astronauts back to the moon as early as 2015 and to land someone on Mars.

Wednesday, January 14, 2004

Explorace 01-01, Airdate: 14 Jan 2004

As 9:30pm rolled around tonight, I was parked comfortably in front of the TV eagerly anticipating the start of the latest local reality show, “Explorace”. With all the hype that the TV station was putting out for this series, I was actually looking forward to it and I know that a few other people, from my office at least, who were equally eager to see it tonight. I just know that we will be talking about it tomorrow during the breaks.

Anyway ... today’s episode started at the Ipoh Railway Station in Perak pitting two teams, Toh and Kumar versus Sanjeev & Ravin, against each other. The two teams were split up and were given their individual tasks to complete. In Route 1, Kumar and Sanjeev were directed to get on a bus to look for the Perak Tong Cave Temple and seek out the chief priest there for their clue. For most of the time, the two contestants were racing neck to neck. I was mildly surprised to learn that Kumar spoke Cantonese which gave him an edge over Sanjeev in getting directions to the bus station from the locals. Regardless of the advantage, it seemed that they both were evenly matched in that they took the same bus to go to the cave temple.

While Kumar and Sanjeev were completing their individual task, the remaining team members, Toh and Ravin, were directed to Route 2 which sends them out to locate a coffee shop in the provided address in Ipoh city and meet the shop owner to get their clue. Toh looked like he was leading most of the time and found the correct shop quite quickly than Ravin did. I guess that his ability to speak in 3 languages really helped in getting directions from the locals. At the shop, Toh was given a trivia question based on tourist attractions in Perak to answer which upon failing he had to complete a penalty task. The penalty task for Route 2 was for the contestant to find the Ipoh Market, look for a particular shop that sells coffee beans, buy RM 3 of the Ipoh white coffee beans and bring them back to the coffee shop. Ravin also failed to answer his question and had to complete the penalty task as well.

A little side bar about the questions that they asked in the clue destinations. I have to say that they were really hard unless you know a good travel guide book inside and out. I wouldn’t be able to answer the questions like how high a particular mountain was even if my life was depended on it. I guess in a way, the show producers really want to make sure that the contestants had to do the penalty task to make things more interesting. It would be interesting to see if any of the contestants would be able to ever give a correct answer in the weeks to come.

While the Route 2 contestants were searching for the white coffee beans, Route 1 contestants arrived at the Perak Tong Cave Temple and found the chief priest for their individual trivia question which they both failed to answer. Both of them had to complete the penalty task which involved climbing a long flight of stairs to the top of the cave temple and retrieve their clue envelope. Kumar looked like he had a slight lead over Sanjeev throughout the climb although there was some physical blocking on his part to ensure that he kept that lead. It looked like the climb was quite a ways and when they reached the top, their clues told them to go to National Stud Farm to complete a task that will give them their golden box.

When we return back to the Route 2 contestant, it was not surprising that Toh got to the Ipoh market and found the correct stall to purchase the coffee beans first. Being able to speak Cantonese really helped him to get directions from the local unlike Ravin who seemed lost most of the time. After giving the coffee beans to the coffee shop owner, Toh was instructed to sit and have a cup of coffee before being given the clue for the next destination which was a tin-mining dredger just outside of Ipoh where they were instructed to locate their golden key. Ravin turned up sometime later with his coffee beans and was asked to do the same thing. In his hyper coffee influenced confession, he complained that it was hard for him to get the correct directions.

On the trip to the next Route 1 destinations, it was clear that Kumar really had his game on to the extant of refusing to even talk to Sanjeev. While Sanjeev tried gamely to be friendly to Kumar, he was not getting anywhere with his attempt. Once they arrived at the National Stud Farm, a horse breading farm, they were directed to search out a person there who had the next task that they have to complete. It took them a while to find the correct person who directed them to clean up their assigned stables, groom their assigned horse, saddle it, bring the horses out for a bath and return them back to their stables. After watching the two of them complete the task in fast forward, it seems that Kumar still had the slight lead over Sanjeev. Once the horses were returned to their respective stables, the contestants were told to search for their gold box hidden somewhere in the stables. Kumar found his first and it directed them to drive themselves using the car provided to them outside the farm to a rubber plantation near Kellie’s Castle and wait for their partner before proceeding with the next task. Sanjeev ran into trouble again after retrieving his gold box when it took longer to find his assigned car.

The Route 2 contestants arrived at the tin-mining dredger at the same time on the same bus. It seems that Toh missed an earlier bus and effectively wasted the lead that he had over Ravin. They were both neck to neck in the race to find the golden key in a really big tin-mining dredger which looked disused. I didn’t think that their clues really helped them out in terms of telling them the location of the key so the two of them had to search for the key for quite some time. I think that Ravin managed to spot a flag or something from outside the dredger since he was able to find the stairs that lead to the top of the dredger where the keys and clue to the next destination were located. Once he has secured the key, the clue told the contestants to get back into town and seek out a particular shop where bicycles were waiting for them to use to get to the next destination. He was well into his way while Toh was still looking for his key. After finally figuring out the location of the key, he managed to get it and quickly rushed back into town to start on his bicycle journey.

For a while it looked like Kumar was leading in Route 1 but it seems that he went to the wrong rubber plantation as it took him a while to find the person he was suppose to get the next clue from. Sanjeev on the other hand arrived later at the correct location and seem to be able to find the correct person quite easily. His partner, Ravin arrived sometime later after a 3 km bicycle journey and both of them were directed to tap rubber from 10 assigned trees to the rubber tapper’s satisfaction before being allowed to open the golden box with their golden key to get the clue to their final destination. They managed to finish their task well before the other team who were still looking for the correct rubber plantation. Sanjeev and Ravin’s clue told them to go to the nearby Kellie’s Castle to complete their final task.

Toh and Kumar finally found the correct rubber plantation and were just finishing their 10 rubber trees when Sanjeev and Ravin arrived at Kellie’s Castle and began searching for the person who had their final clue. After another frustrating person search, they finally found the correct person who had their final clue which told them to climb to the top of the castle and zip down a flying-fox line to the opposite bank of the nearby river after which they had to wade/swim back to the castle, go to the other tower of the castle to abseiling down to reach the finish line. The remainders of the task were completed without much incident although I must point out the sign warning them about crocodiles in the river they were wading/swimming in. I’m sure that the editors on the “Amazing Race” would put in a shot of crocodiles somewhere here to heighten the drama but that was not picked on by this group of editors.

In a confession, Kumar acknowledged that the first team who started the final task first would be surely the winner of this week’s race and sure enough it is Team Sanjeev and Ravin who crossed the finish line ahead of Team Kumar and Toh. With this win, Team Sanjeev and Ravin advance to the next round where all 6 winning teams will compete against each other to select the best 3 teams who will go into the final round. Both teams agreed that the looking around for the correct person who had their clue was the hardest thing that they had to do in their race compared to the physical activities they had to go through.

Overall it was a good episode to start the series off with. There were moments when both teams were really close together but Team Kumar and Toh managed to waste their lead over the other team by virtue of their own mistakes. The editors of this episode also missed out on a big dramatic moment for the show tonight when they failed to show what happened when Toh missed his bus which basically turned the tables around for them. I also have to say that the clues given were very vague about the person the contestants were supposes to find for their clue. It would be better if the clues were more specific about the location where this person was so we would see the contestants spend less time searching for the guy and more time actually completing their tasks. I’m not sure if we will see the clues getting any better in future episodes but hopefully they will learn this lesson for the next season (if there will be a next season).

Next week, Explorace goes to Kuantan, Pahang.

Tuesday, January 13, 2004

All-Star Survivor is Coming

I just heard that they have announced the contestants for the all-star Survivor edition for season 8 debuting this coming Feb 1st. They will have four from Survivor 1- Pulau Tiga, five from Survivor 2 – Australian Outback, three from Survivor 3 - Africa, two from Survivor 4 – Marquesas, Survivor 5 - one from Thailand, two from Survivor 6 – The Amazon and one from Survivor 7 – Pearl Island.

The list of contestant as listed at and the thing that I remember most about them when they were first on the show:

1.Alicia (Australian Outback) – The infamous Miss Finger-Waving of the Australian season.

2.Amber (Australian Outback) – Try as I might, I can’t remember a single outstanding thing that she did on her season.

3.Colby (Australian Outback) – Hmm... this I certainly still remember and have to say is my early pick to go all the way if not just because I want to see him shirtless week after week.

4.Ethan (Africa) – The soccer playing Moppet who conquered Africa without losing too much of his soul in the process.

5.Jenna L (Pulau Tiga) – Nothing stands out in my mind for now for this contestant.

6.Jenna M (Amazon) – Getting naked for peanut butter in front of a global audience. It must be really premium peanut butter.

7.Jerri (Australian Outback) – She has the distinction of being the Queen B*tch for being the most manipulative of all the female Survivor contestants to date.

8.Kathy (Marquesas) – I have no recollection of her time on the show. I know she did something important to last that long in Marquesas but it escapes me for the moment.

9.Lex (Africa) – Scary guy with scary tattoos with the scary eyes scaring half of Africa every time he stares at you.

10.Richard (Pulau Tiga) – 1st sole Survivor of the franchise and I have to say the idea of him going naked again on TV scares the heck out of me.

11.Rob C. (Amazon) – Shares the title of the “Best Survivor Player Who Didn’t Win” with Rupert. He played the game really well but ran out of luck towards the end.

12.Rob M. (Marquesas) – Boston Rob... nice on the eyes but dumb as rocks.

13.Rudy (Pulau Tiga) – The oldest contestant of them all and a crotchety favorite of mine among all the older Survivors.

14.Rupert (Pearl Island) – Hagrid look-alike who was an audience favorite early on his season but quickly became more tiresome as the season progressed.

15.Shii Ann (Thailand) – The “She-Devil” of Thailand. I will never forget the chicken-eating incident that grossed out her tribemates. I guess that the Asian thing of being able to eat almost every part of a chicken is hard to swallow for some.

16.Susan (Pulau Tiga) – The best jury question/statement every. She really let it rip and she will always be remembered for it. No one ever came close since.

17.Tina (Australian Outback) – The sweet soccer mom who won the million dollars in the second season of Survivor. I still think that she and Colby are still my favorite final two Survivors who went to the finals.

18.Tom (Africa) – His exposed butt-crack with that feather sticking out of it in one of the challenges on his season still gives me nightmares.

It would be interesting to see if old alliance and ties from their old seasons will resurface again in this new season. I have to say that the contestant selected for this all-star edition of this popular reality show seems to be well balanced in terms of popularity and entertainment factors. It would be interesting to see how this turns out come 1st Feb. For the time being, I’ll be rooting for my two all-time favorite Survivors, Colby and Tina.

Monday, January 12, 2004

Out with the old, in with the new

I had planned to write down my thoughts about the latest expansion pack to the popular “Dungeon Siege” CRPG over this past weekend and enter it as today’s entry. When the weekend rolled around, I found myself suddenly preoccupied with the idea of replacing my television set. To be truthful, suddenly is not a correct description since I’ve been planning to replace my TV and DVD player with a newer model for at least 3 years now. For most of that time I had my sights set on the Sony line of VEGA DRC TV and their DAV Home Theater sets but I recently conceded that they will not be dropping their price anytime soon and I was already tired of waiting for them to do so. So now that I’ve opened up my options to other brands, I spent most of the weekend doing research for my new home entertainment system.

The last time I had to go through this process was close to 8 years ago when I bought my current TV and DVD player. My old Phillips home entertainment system is actually quite sentimental to me since it was the first major purchase that I made using the very first paycheck that I ever got. It has served me faithfully all these years and I only had to replace a power control board once in those 8 years. I would miss my old system once I move it back to my parent’s house for my younger siblings.

In its place, after looking at more than a few brands and models, I’ve decided to get a Panasonic TX-29P180K Flat-screen TV coupled with a Panasonic SC-HT700 Home Theater System to replace my Phillips set. Coming into this decision, I’ve already made the decision of getting a flat screen TV to replace my current TV and the TX-29P180K fulfill my requirements to a tee with the added bonus of it having 100MHz flicker-free screen as well as progressive scan picture. I should be able to get a much clearer picture than my current TV especially when watching DVDs from the SC-HT700 system. I have to admit that the SC-HT700 was not my first choice because it had a 5-DVD changer instead of a single tray which I think was a bit redundant. Nevertheless the active subwoofer system and reasonable powerful satellite speakers that delivered above average sound playback performance for its price class quickly swayed me to the choice.

For the purchase this time around, I decided to get them on a 12 month installment at Courts Mammoth, a local household and electronics chain store. A few of my friends did warn me that their prices are a bit higher than other electronic stores and that the stocks that they carry are a few months behind in terms of model release. While I do acknowledge that their sale price is slightly more expansive and that they don’t normally carry the latest model, it is hard to beat the convenience of their monthly installment plan. They have reasonable rates for their installment plan and a multitude of payment methods that make them very attractive to the locals. I also wanted to test them out since I am seriously considering using them for most of my furniture purchases for when I move into my new apartment. Their prices beat Ikea’s hands down without a doubt and they actually carry several furniture designs that are not half bad.

I going to the store again next weekend to finalize the purchase and sign the installment payment papers. Hopefully the new set will arrive just in time for my birthday in February.

Wednesday, January 07, 2004

Explorace: Let the games begin

I just finished watching Malaysia’s latest reality show, “Explorace” and I must say that there is some potential in this series. As I understand it, the concept of this new series is based on the wildly popular US reality show “The Amazing Race” but with some localized differences. For one, only two team complete in the race every week with the last to arrive eliminated at the end of each round. Since there are 12 teams competing in this race, there would be 6 weeks of first round competition which will trim down the teams to 6 teams. If all six were to compete in the same week after the first round remains to be seen but I would guess that unless the production budget would allow for 6 teams of production crews, I guess we would continue to see pair of teams going against each other until the final round. A shame really since we may not get the chance to see the same type of team dynamics that make “The Amazing Race” irresistible.

As I understand it, team members of the 2 teams competing each week will be split off to accomplish individual tasks that would take them to multiple local destinations. This is clearly different than the way the teams in TAR would do their tasks. Each team member in “Explorace” would be receiving instructions at the starting point to their assigned location where they must complete a task. The task that they must complete would be a trivia question that they must answer correctly in an allotted time or else they would have to complete a physical penalty task. Once completed, the contestant would receive either a gold key or a gold box depending on the path that the contestant took. Both contestant would then be directed to proceed to a team meeting point to complete a team task that once completed would allow the teammates to use the gold key to open the gold box which contained the clue to their last destination. The last team to arrive would obviously be eliminated and the winning team would move on to the next round.

The show tonight was no more than an extended promo for the new series. While it was a good way to start the series, the hype leading up to tonight’s show was a bit misleading leading me, at least, to think that the race was suppose to start tonight. Instead we got to watch some silly audition videos that were sent in by 300 applicants who tried to get one of the 12 places offered. While some videos were tacky and downright silly, credit must be given to the audition video sent by one of the 12 finalist who made a hilarious TAR parody complete with the envelopes and Mr. “Exposition Hands”. I have to agree with the show’s producers when they selected that audition video as the most creative and imaginative one out of the lot. After a selection process that whittle down the list from 300 to 30 teams, they were put through a second round of auditions that involved an IQ test, aquatic skills test and a physical endurance test. I have to confess that the thought of sending in a tape did cross my mind but after seeing what they had to go through in the second audition, I seriously doubt that I would have passed their selection criteria. For one thing, I can’t swim so that would immediately disqualify me in the aquatic skills test.

From the 30 teams, 12 teams were finally selected for the race. We have not seen any of these teams in action yet but a few did stand out personality-wise. For the moment I’m rooting for the team of Jackie and Lisa who seems bubbly enough to be in a series like this. From their short interview session, they projected a level of comfortable confidence and excitement that came through as sincere and real unlike some who just seemed too cocky out of the gate. As for internal conflict potential between the contestants, it still has to be seen as the time allowed for these conflicts to surface week to week is a bit short. None of the contestant seems to have an explosive personality so “Explorace” may be short on the outrageous outbursts that make TAR interesting to watch week after week. I may be wrong in this assessment since it is still too early to tell but we would find out for ourselves in the next few weeks.

Well ... now you know where I’ll be on every Wednesday night at 9:30pm for the next few weeks.

Tuesday, January 06, 2004

Down and out in KL

I’m feeling a bit more run down than usual tonight which is strange considering it is quite early in the week. I just can shake the pull to just vegetate in front of the TV and fall asleep watching TV. It is actually harder for me tonight to think about what to put in for today’s blog entry.

I’ve got a few things that I’m planning put up on this site in the near future. Chief among them are reviews of the latest CDs, games and DVDs that I’ve sat through. I actually went through quite a bit including the new expansions to the Dungeon Siege and Neverwinter Nights CRPG games which pretty much consumed my time while I was on hiatus in December. There were a few new DVDs that I wanted to review including the massive Aliens Quadrilogy DVD set that I still have hours of material to go through.

Anyway, I’m off for a breather.

Monday, January 05, 2004

My Big Fat New Year's Outing

Well ... well ... my first blog entry for the year. I guess that I should try to make this entry somewhat profound considering it is to be the benchmark of entries to come but I thought why set the expectations too high. There are bound to be a lot of time and chances later in the year for me to wax poetic about things around me. I’m still feeling the New Year cheer, even though it has been 5 days since, so for now I am just content to be whimsical.

I didn’t really have anything planned last New Year’s Eve other than having a quiet supper and watching the fireworks from my apartment balcony. I originally had no plans to go out anyway since the thought of being in the middle of that celebration madness wasn’t all that appealing to me. Nevertheless, as it rolled closer to midnight, I found myself strangely restless and unable to sit still. So I decided that I would go out and watch the fireworks at Sunway Pyramid instead of at home which was a good choice in hindsight since my housemate had his girlfriend coming for their weekly shag. I don’t know what could be worse, knowing that your housemates are getting more action that you are or that you have to endure the sounds of very loud straight sex. Of course my other housemate, the one most likely to be having gay sex, had already gone out and was most probably vamping it out in high heels and a bustier.

Anyway ... I made it to Sunway Pyramid about 30 minutes to midnight and found myself a spot near the lion head at the entrance where I thought would give me a good view of the fireworks. The crowd wasn’t as bad as what I had predicted which was a pleasant surprise. There were a number of families with small children in pajamas as well as the customary party goers who were dressed up to the nines. There weren’t any live concerts or anything at Sunway Pyramid that night so most people just sat around and waited for the fireworks to start. Of course there were more than a few people who were running around with cans of that string confetti in a can who seemed to be spraying anything that moves. Fortunate for me that an evil eye was all that was needed to tell these nutters to give me a wide berth and refrain from trying to involve me in their merry making if they know what was good for them. I was all into having fun that night but being covered in foam that I may be allergic to was not my idea of fun.

I have to say that the firework show at Sunway Pyramid this year was a disappointment. It only lasted 5 minutes and no where as grand as it was last Independence Day which led me to wonder if they just pulled this together at the last minute when they saw the crowds gathering. I do believe that my impression of the show was shared by many of the crowd. Most could be heard grumbling about it when it ended and the crowd began to disperse. Feeling somewhat frustrated with the fizzle after being wired up all day with expectation, I found myself weighing the option to head on to Q-bar which was nearby. I pass this club almost every week on my way to do grocery shopping but I’ve never been in it until that night. Since the thought of going back to the sounds of my housemate going at it wasn’t that appealing, I decided to try the club out.

The cover charge that night was RM45 inclusive of the first drink. Since I had planned to make it a substance-free night, I took my overpriced can of Pepsi and walked through the doors. The place was packed wall to wall with people who were mostly young ankle-biters that night. It immediately made me feel a bit self conscious about how old I was but that quickly passed when I saw that there were other people who I knew from the old Sunway Pyramid Modesto’s crowd there. We didn’t really know each other but we’ve seen each other often enough back then that we knew each other by sight. After a wave and a nod, I tried to navigate the flood of human flesh to find a reasonably comfortable spot.

The music that they played wasn’t that bad. They were playing some trance and later some Digweed that I really liked as well as some of the old Modesto’s standards. Sure enough I found myself forgetting about the crowd around me and started swaying to the music. Each tune got me more into the scene and had me thinking less about how much I suck at any type of movement that required complex hand and leg coordination. I just danced my heart out by myself just to feel the sweat rolling down my back and the breath coming into my lungs irregardless of the people around me. All through this, I have not had a drop of alcohol, a single cigarette or even a tab of E which makes it all the better as I was already high on being carefree and alive. I must admit that I haven’t felt that free in a long while and I was quickly swept away by the sensations.

The next thing I knew was that it was approaching 5am and that I had been dancing non-stop for 5 hours. The party was still going on but the people left were fast becoming worse for wear. I decided to call it the night and get another Pepsi to wind down at the bar before walking back home. Just before I walked out, I got treated to an impromptu fire juggling act by the bartenders that was impressive but left my clothes smelling of gasoline. When I got home, I ran into my housemate’s girlfriend who was doing the walk of shame but I didn’t care much at that point after having the most fun substance-free night I had ever.

Of course, my old creaking bones were complaining when I dragged myself out of bed at 2pm the following day but it was well worth it. I got to plan to do another one soon.