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Wednesday, 26 March 2008

The Magic Numbers of Life

People say that there are two magical ages of life. One blogger from the States, Jason Rappaport, just entered the first magical age upon reaching the age of 18.

According to him, now that he's 18, he can be sued, can be enlisted into the army, get a credit card, accumulate debt, get an unrestricted driver's license, play the lottery, and what not.

I wasn't as aware of the liberty I took into my hands upon waking up into my 18th birthday as he was. All I could remember was that the day was the only day I was fussy about my clothes.

One of my friends said, "Wenqi, be careful, if you commited crimes you won't be in juvenile court anymore."

THAT, I was aware of. I have to say, we're sort of a passimistic type.

Anyway, my 18th birthday was more than nine months away now. However, it was today that I did something that previously required the consent of a parent or guardian.

I left for school 2 hours before class starts (in fact, there's still 45 minutes to the class when I'm writing this), had a "light" breakfast (hearty would be something more appropriate), and marched up to the college hall.

Signs saying "MBDC" were put up. It was understandable that it meant "March Blood Donation Campaign".

This is it. I don't fancy having a fat syringe poked into my arm and having squeezed like a sponge to have my juice extracted, but this is probably my last semester in TARC (they have a blood donation drive every semester) and god knows how long will I have another chance to try it.

Three scales were placed in front of the entrance to the hall. A First Aid Unit (FAU) student escorted me to the top of the scales and read it. He read pretty slowly for my standards, but maybe that was because I had plenty of practice with my multimeter.

Then, I went to a table to fill up a form. They asked all sorts of questions, including whether you have had homosexual or bisexual sex before, whether you had HIV, Malaria, etc. There was even a question asking whether I've been to Europe between 1980 to 1987. Heck, I wasn't even born by then.

After successfully filling up the form (which actually felt more like taking a MCQ test), I went to have my blood type verified. This is good, considering the fact that I missed the opportunity to do it in secondary school. After mixing my blood with special types of protein, we waited for a moment for it to aggregrate (if it would). When nothing happened after about half a minute, she declared me an O and I left for the next counter.

The blood pressure is next. I couldn't really see what the metre said, having faced away from me, but the nurse said "normal" and I assumed everything was fine.

Then there was this "Detour". I could chicken out, or I could continue and register myself as a donor. I took the latter.

While waiting for the precedures to be completed, I saw a sign saying something like "Exit for Disqualified Donors". This was feeling more and more like an exam. I got my red book, along with three empty blood bags.

Then it was the real donation. A Gnomometer was used to squeeze my left upper arm until my hands felt numb. Then the nurse felt for the presence of a vein, and poked a needle in, injecting some sort of liquid into it. I stared with my eyes wide open as the needle wriggled around a little, and my skin moved exactly like the skin of an uncooked chicken. The part where she poked swelled, and she picked a syringe some 1.5mm in thickness into it.

Then I waited.

And waited.

And waited.

Hell, why was it so slow? They only needed 450ml of my blood. I began to appreciate the wonder of nature, and how much activity could be done with such a slow flow of blood. After what seemed like 15 minutes, the bag fully filled up with thick, dark red strawberry syrup, I had the syringe removed (after the nurse took blood samples for tests) and the puncture plastered, collected my souvenirs, and went to have a bit of free breakfast.

I was full, but it was free, how could I resist? I took a packet of Julie's cookies and left.

There were medicines too. I don't remember any healthy person who needed to take medication. One was labelled folic acid, which I couldn't understand why I need it. The second one is understandable, as it says ferrous something. I'm sorry, I suck at chemistry, but I understand that Fe is needed for the production of hemogoblin. I mean, hemoglobin. I've been reading Spiderwick's Chronicles, sorry.

So for those who will soon get to the magical age, I suggest you look up the net on the loss of certain privileges and the gain of special liberty upon celebrating the 18th birthday.

PS - I read up a bit on Folic Acid on Wikipedia. It says that folic acid is needed for the maintenance and reproduction of new cells, especially when the division of sells occur in rapid rates, since folate is needed for the DNA. Hmmm... I don't think red blood cells have nuclei...

Tuesday, 11 March 2008

Sie: My Head is No Longer Naked

My desktop at home is somewhat pathetic. It couldn't even handle a simple game like Maplestory well. During the holidays, when I have my notebook computer at home, I prefer to work using my notebook, which I am more used to, and more snappy than the desktop.

However, I was quite involved in toying around with certain unexplored areas of my computer (read: Linux) that I didn't spare much time for gaming. It was one day before the start of the school that I decided to go for a Zakum run. If not, my notebook will be back to school and I would have to make do with my desktop.

I was ordered by the Zakum sessions' organiser to prepare two sessions' worth of potions. I flew all the way to Leafre and stocked up on 1.2k Mushroom Miso Ramen, along with some 500 Power Elixirs and 200 Elixirs I had with my stores.

The fight started at about 12.45pm. My guildmates were fantastic. So fantastic that their wide array of skills was making my notebook kind of laggy. With one particularly strong blast of Genesis from my guild's top Bishop, my screen hung for two seconds. When it flickered back, I was dead.

I was thankful that fourth job was available. The bishop resurrected me in no time, and I resumed the battle.

In 1.40pm, it was clear that I overloaded myself with potions. I used less than 300 that fight. When the last hit was made, Zakum went dead, and everything went silent. Not because the players weren't hitting anymore, but because its death froze my screen again. When the screen came back, the floor was clean of everything.

I sat upright, walking around, and spotted two helmets. I was so nervous that I only managed to grab one after three tries.

That fight, three guild members were helmed.

I went to the second session. But not long into the fight, Tenaga Nasional decided to reset the power for a fraction of a second. It's ok - I never remove my battery from my notebook. However, my DSL modem wasn't backed by a battery.

Dang it.

Anyway, thanks to kelly33, crazycute, xwinglingx, and everyone from BloodAngelz for my Zakum Helmet (1).

2008 Election Aftermath

I have to admit that I know nuts about politics, but I do know that traditionally, Malaysia holds elections once every five years.

Perhaps the most famous of the elections are the 1969 election. Three days after the election, Democratic Action Party, or more commonly known as DAP or the "Rockets", paraded through KL, celebrating the first time opposition acquired more than one third of the parliamentary seats in Malaysia.

And the all-time-famous riot broke out.

Back to the present. If elections are held every five years, then why are we having an election in 2008, four years after the last election 2004? In fact, the terms of office will not expire until May 2009.

I soon discover that it was planned such that Anwar Ibrahim will not get a chance to participate in this election. With, erm, to put it nicely, stained past record, he is restricted from joining in the elections until few months later.

On election day, I went to Chinese calligraphy class as usual. Most of the adults there were shamelessly declaring their votes for DAP. I couldn't help but was amazed by the teacher's enthusiasm. He kept making calls, and stopped teaching us at few points just to talk to us about politics. After receiving rumours on the outcome of the elections, which included the defeat of many key MCA figures of Selangor and Penang, he immediately contacted few of his students to confirm the truth of the rumours.

They way he was acting, well, it's like he's the president of a party or something.

Back home, I was greeted by a bit of a surprise.

Dad actually ordered mum to bring out the television set from my room (where mum safe-kept it to prevent my sister from watching) and my mum actually agreed. That wasn't the bad part.

Both of my parents chased after the results until well past midnight. Dad, who usually goes to bed no later than 11.30, stayed up until almost 2am, despite having to wake up early the next morning.

But that's still not the worst.

8th March 2008 will be remembered as the day I spoke the most to dad.

Well, dad doesn't talk much, and, you know, like father, like son, I'm just not the talking type. But that night was really different. Both of us exchanged views and rumours, and I don't remember catching dad's eye contact so frequently within 2 hours.

The truth is, this is the most explosive election ever. Out of the 222 parliamentary seats contested, Barisan Nasional (National Front, Malaysia's ruling coalition) failed to get two thirds of the seats, which means they lost the power to make amendments to the constitution. This is the second time (the first being 1969) this happen in Malaysia.

And this is worse than the last. Five states were lost to the hands of oppositions, namely Selangor, Penang, Perak, Kelantan, and Kedah. Even Kuala Lumpur lost 10 of its 11 seats to oppositions.

The final results - oppositions 82, BN 140. MCA only obtained 15 seats, compared to DAP's 28 and Parti Keadilan Rakyat (People's Justice Party)'s 31, both belong to the opposition.

Before going to school the next day, I finally understood why I got the easy 'A's the semester before. One simple truth - TARC is governed by MCA.

Maybe that's one of the reasons I should leave TARC. There will not be an election any time soon before I graduate.

Saturday, 8 March 2008

That Kind of Results... Again

My results for last semester's exams came out this week. That was shockingly soon, seeing that we finished exam right before the holidays and this week is the first week of school after the holidays.

Whenever I go, I people were asking me what kind of results I got. To avoid answering this question, I purposely pushed my act of checking the results to after school. I was quite sure that I did terribly for at least two subjects. I was so sure about it that I even made bets with two friends of mine!

7pm arrived. I lugged my notebook computer, moving towards the library. Each step closer to my results was accompanied by a stronger beat from my heart.

Here's the big time. I typed in my username and password, took a deep breath, and prepared to face the music.

And ping! Out came my results.

I looked at the B+ for my English results. What the nonsense... Half of the lecturers of KTAR can't speak English fluently and they're still hesitating to give an 'A' to anybody in my course. Nobody among the 100 of us got 'A' for English this semester. We've only got 2 'A-'s I think.

And rats... I lost my bet. What were they doing? I was supposed to get two 'A-'s for my other two subjects! I got whole question wrong! Why is it so easy to get A for the other subjects but not language?

Ah well, I'm not complaining. I'm not having any language subjects this semester.

Happy last semester too all my classmates!

And oh, if you want to challenge TARC's *ahem* standard of English, try visiting the Open Day, which starts from 9th of March to 23rd of March. Best of luck to you.

Who? Why?

Kenny Sia: HINDRAF - a Hindu with dandruff?

Yep, the elections are here. It's a good thing I'm too young to vote and yet old enough to enjoy the adults trying to make their minds up after hearing to thousands of ceramahs and thousands of accusations and news published in the papers.

The city got a new makeover. I wonder how much money they spent decorating the city. I'm sure there should be a better way to spend those cash.

Like supporting my studies, for instance.

Speaking of the word "support", who am I supporting this season? Well, I don't know. DAP sounds more like freedom, but I can't deny MCA's sacrifices throughout the years too.

I was glad I stumbled upon Kenny Sia's Who-To-Vote-This-Election Decision Generator. "100% accurate", it says. Mmmmrph? Well, I'll give it a shot. It's not as if I really am voting anyway.

According to the 100% accurate Who-To-Vote-This-Election Decision Generator™, I am voting for...


Who Should You Vote For This Election?

Rats. Now KTAR will be kicking me out of school.