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Friday, 31 October 2008

Vid: Heaven Knows - Kiasuism

After some long wait, I finally produced another play-by-ear piano post. The video below is of me playing the Rick Price song Heaven Knows.

Recalling my first piano post, I was quite eager to compare myself with other play-by-ear pianists, so I played one of Jay Chou's songs, uploaded it to Youtube, and asked my friends to comment on it.

The Singapore National Anthem soon followed, while for the Malaysian National Day, I recorded Negaraku on audio.

After that I got requests to play the theme songs from Forrest Gump and Titanic. I gladly tried them on the piano, and feeling satisfied with myself, I went to Youtube and searched for similar videos.

My goodness. There are so many better versions around. I immediately threw mine aside.

I have to admit that I showed signs of Kiasuism here. Of course, nobody wants to be embarassed, but I think my versions aren't bad enough to embarass me.

I seriously need to fix this flaw. I can't live like this! This is agonising! It's excruciating! It's torture!

But then again, I'm not the only Kiasu ones around. Let's see... Who enrolls for tuition classes for their December holidays? Who registers for over 11 subjects for their SPM (Malaysian O-Levels equivalent)? How many people decided to continue studying after leaving secondary school?

How about those who immediately take their driving tests the very day they turn 17? Those who even preordered their cars before even passting their tests?

Those who got the very best cellphones even if they don't even know how to use the phonebooks? The Rolexes on their hands that glitter and shine under the Malaysian sun? The silver earrings that ring louder than windchimes with every single step of their Prada shoes?

Those who got wedding rings prepared before even meeting their partners? Those who got their new houses before they get engaged? Those who got babies before even married?

Erm, on second thoughts, I think I'm fine.

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

How to Transport a Glass Jar - Fashion Crime

I committed a crime so serious that I deserved to be put into jail for the rest of my life.

It all started one fine day when I decided to try cooking pasta (namely Macaroni) in school. I got a bag of Macaroni and a jar of pasta sauce.

Damn the sauce. I was so happy that it was contained in a glass jar when I bought it. It is easy to identify a good jar and a bad one. The latter is in millions of pieces, see. So I took a jar in one piece, paid, and went home.

Prego Fresh Mushroom Pasta Sauce!!! My sis's gonna love this.

It was until at home that I realised I was too clumsy to carry it all the way to school. I looked around, and spotted another jar. A plastic one. Perfect.

In one swift motion, I wrapped the jar in a plastic bag.

Then I filled the bottom of the plastic jar one one of my shirts.

That should make a good cushion, I thought. Then I wrapped the jar with another shirt, and stuffed them in.

Tada! The jar is now protected from all sides, except the top. Here goes the last shirt.

Voila! It is now invincible. Now I replace the cap.

Wow. No one can even tell I have a pasta sauce in the jar. Now it's safe from impacts as well as robberies.

The journey to school was good. I almost forgot that I had the jar in my bag and swung my luggage around clumsily as usual.

Well I said I nearly forgot because I didn't. I could hear my three shirts' muffled screams all the way to school.

"This is misuse!"

"We're meant to be displayed on your chest, not stuffed in a jar!"

"I'm stretched to my seams!"

I could almost hear the host of FashionTV asking to lock me up for fashion crime. And that's for a guys' underclothes. Imagine, say, Oprah, doing this to her Pradas.

Thursday, 23 October 2008

More Sights of UNMC

One afternoon, I happily snapped dozens of photos of UNMC. And then I went back home, and exchanged my camera for my laptop, and went to school to upload the photos.

The library, where I online and upload my photos. Upload speed is super fast! Well over 300 kilobytes per sec, or 2.4Mbps.

I was rather happy with the day. It was sunny and bright, and my old and cheap camera had no problem taking great pictures of the school. The amount of time I spent under the hot sun has finally been translated to a photo post.

I didn't realised that there were more things to see at night. I left the library, and on my way home, I was stunned by even more beautiful sights of the campus. I hadn't been expecting that and didn't have my camera with me. The next evening I took my camera out for another swing, and so here comes the second photo blog on UNMC.

When the evening comes, the ducks go quack quack quack.

Representatives from Students Association (SA) feeding the ducks.

I even managed to snap a nice photo of the ducks, with the sunset reflected on the water.

A nice photos of the ducks swimming away.

Nottingham Lake at sunset.

The water and the sky.

Some international students just love to relax and enjoy the view, doing nothing more than just chatting away while the sun sinks into the horizon.

When night comes, the campus light up, and we see another side of UNMC.

The Dark Side of it.

Yeah right. The lightings of the campus are done rather well, and although it may not be as brightly lit as the Marina Bay Street Circuit, we still get fantastic views at night too.

I shot this outside the library. The lights are placed at the foot of the pillars, shooting upwards. It's good training for us to hold our heads up while we walk.

Some parts of the school are darker than the others, but the popular hangout spots, such as Students Association Building, Library, and Computer Centre are all brightly lit.

UNMC at night.

The amount of good lightings stretch as far as the bridge leading to Taman Tasik Semenyih (TTS), the housing area just beside the campus.

The bridge leading to TTS at night.

However, it stops right there. Everything was pitch black just metres away from the TTS end of the bridge - MPKj hadn't bothered to put up any lamp posts there.

Edit (23/10): Lamp posts near the bridge are now working. Thank goodness!

I hope you remember that I climbed a weird structure last time to get a semi-aerial view photo.

I climbed this last time to take photos.

It was shortly after that that I felt stupid for doing it. Because looking around, I spotted a sight-seeing tower, just a stone throw's distance away from it.

Well of course, like I always say, it depends on how far you can throw a stone.

The tower I spotted a bit too late.

It is two storeys tall, comes with a spiral staircase (instead of a vertical ladder), completed with a nice roof and the usual soft yellowish lightings. I can't believe I climbed the stupid thing last time and risked getting told off by security guards.

In fact the sight-seeing tower is strategically placed - it is right behind the amphitheatre, not far away from the fountain, also lit in yellow.

The fountain and tower at night.

I can't help but wonder. How could I miss it in broad daylight?

And then there's also the clocktower of the Administration block. The clocks and the university logos are brightly lit too. Talk about advertising.

The administration block at night.

When it gets dark, there's when my camera's weaknesses start to show. With ISO being limited to 100 and 200, it is virtually impossible to get sharp images at such dark situations. Shuttle speed was reduced to one whole second at times. So pardon me if you can't see the clock and the logo of the university - the parts were seriously overexposed over such long shuttle time. Here's a closeup view of the administration block with the logo.

Administration block bathed in yellow.

And of course there's the famous lake at night. The two lake fountains were lit, but not the jogging tracks. I spotted a jogger while going around taking pictures though. Watch for the ducks' droppings, dude!

It was so dark... It took me more than 10 tries to snap this view! And this isn't really satisfying yet.

Just to add a few more things to my previous UNMC post, on top of the amazing sports facilities here, they also have a multipupose outdoor field here. My guess is most would use it for soccer football games.

The outdoor field on a sunny morning.

But the time I visited this field, they were playing frisbee, the human game of fetch. I used to play it with my friends, too.

And oh, there's this punch bag to vent our tempers. Just snap a photo of the lecturers, print them out in life size, paste them to the bag, and have fun.

Punch-bob Squarepants!

I also spotted a table tennis rooms with two tables. Didn't catch the photos though.

I recently found hundreds of photos of UNMC in the school computer, done by professional photographers (instead of the poor imitation presented by the owner of this blog), but my guess is you are pretty tired of the sights of UNMC by now.

Ah well.

Monday, 20 October 2008

Things I Do Non-stop On the Net

Seriously, I don't know how anyone can be bored when there's an internet-enabled computer sitting right in front of them.

Ever since arriving at UNMC, I frequently spend time in the computer room. This is arguably the best facility the campus offers. With 2.8GHz dual core processors, 4GB RAM, 19" monitors, and 18Mbps broadband (shared by entire campus), the computers are simply irresistible.

Secondly, there is ample amount of computers for the entire school, and there is surely some unoccupied ones as long as we stay out of the peak hours (about 2 to 5pm, when computer labs are held).

Thirdly, it is opened 24/7. Can't sleep? Computer room. Want to talk to your girlfriend in America? Computer room. Want to sleep with a computer? Computer room. No sex allowed, though.

Some people may argue that the most popular sites are being blocked by the school. I don't deny that BitTorrent downloads have been completely blocked, nor that Youtube and IM have limited capabilities here. Many games sites have been filtered out too, including Yahoo! Games, MMORPGs, and erm, Neopets. At least UNMC doesn't block out Facebook - many other campuses do. However, it is simply absurd to think that these are the only things you do on an internet-enabled computer.

Let me share some of the highly addictive activities I've been carrying out on the net.

1. News-reading
Nothing beats a free newspaper, anytime, anywhere, and ultimately environment friendly. The quickest source of news and gossips alike, a quick visit to these sites make sure you're never outdated. Try Yahoo! News for international news. Or go for BBC News or Channel News Asia. For fellow Malaysians, you can visit the good ol' The Star Online.

2. Comic strips
Need some entertainment? Try getting your hands on comic strips. I'm not a manga fan, and my favourite comic strip is Baby Blues, which conveniently archived all of the strips from 1996 until near present day. If you see me laughing continuously at my computer, I'm probably reading it. Tips: if the strips are too small to be legible, hold down the Ctrl key and scroll your scroll wheel to change the page size.

3. Learn something
There's a Chinese saying - out of three persons, there is always something we can learn from at least one of them. Nobody knows everything in this world. Do you know what a "mirror test" is? What exactly is an SVG file?How about melanin (not to be confused with melamine)? The differences between CAT and MRI? You don't? The good news is we don't have to figure out where to find the answers. Just visit visit Wikipedia, type in something, and start your lesson.

4. Blogging
Want to share your thoughts with the world? Wish to improve your command of language? Feel like putting your creativity to the test? Why not try starting a blog? If you're lazy to start one, reading your friends' blogs, like this one (oh wait, you're already there), can be rather fun too. Be sure to visit some celebrity blogs too, and learn to distinguish the real masters from the big pile of rubbish bloggers out there. You can even try visiting some of the news blog too.

There you go! Hopefully you've hooked up to something more interesting than my blog by now. Have fun!

Thursday, 16 October 2008

What To Do When Your Toilet Bowl Jams

As the title suggests, just after three weeks of staying at the newly built Edusquare, something jammed my toilet bowl.

Everytime I flushed it, the water would rise to a dangerous level. It'd take a few minutes for it to drop to its normal level again.

Well, the toilet is shared between two rooms, me and my toilet-mate. I used to say "half roommate", as it's not really a roommate but it's more than a house-mate, but my house-mate came up with this brilliant name toilet-mate, which I fully agree.

Anyway I don't know what we did. What I remember was that after releasing my solids on Tuesday, it got stuck immediately.

I think it's my fault for eating too much wholemeal bread and cereal.

For two days I've lived with a half-operational toilet bowl, and I've figured out the dos and don'ts when you encounter one.

1. DO NOT drink more water. More water means dilute urine, and it's not everyday your personal perfume gets stored in the toilet for so long.
2. DO eat more wholegrain food. The cellulose in those things contribute to much of our droppings, and isn't collecting those things just fun?
3. DO flush the bowl more often. If it overflows we get free urine spa! Yay!
4. DO leave the toilet door wide open. It increases your appetite! If it doesn't, then use this opportunity to go on a diet. If you happen to vomit, do it into the bowl - it'll probably magnify the effect by several times.
5. DO boast about it in your blog. You don't get a jammed bowl every day!
6. DO empty your bladders and bowels more frequently into the bowl. Boy, they all start with the letter B!
7. DO NOT call the plumbers. They don't appreciate your private collections and consider them as useless as droppings.

OK, after two whole days, when the bowl began to smell like shit (literally), it cleared up all of a sudden.


Friday, 10 October 2008

Half of Hundred

Mum celebrated her 50th birthday today.

Well, I used the word "celebrate" in want for a better one. You see, my family doesn't really celebrate birthdays.

OK, we do. But not ours.

Birthday parties, birthday cakes and such do not apply to us. I'm real thankful some of my friends organised outings and got me presents.

But then again people like mum may not want to be reminded of her birthday.

Imagine waking up to your teenage son bending over you, saying "Happy 50th, mum! You are officially an old lady now."

Now that wasn't really much of a happy birthday, was it?

Ah, of course that wasn't what I said to her. There are even more reasons for middle-age women not to celebrate their birthdays. Their ages are their biggest secret, remember?

If they do throw a birthday party, I'd probably write them a card "Happy Xth Birthday!". And "Happy (X+1)th Birthday" for the next year, "Happy (X+2)th Birthday for the next, etc. Well you figure out the progression.

I think she'd be happier if I purposefully forget her birthday next year.

She'd probably be even happier if I don't mention her real age in my blog.

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

New Sights of Cameron Highlands

OK, so now you've seen (or heard) of the traditional Cameron Highlands attractions. So let's focus on what you probably haven't.

For the two nights, we stayed at dad's terrace house at Tanah Rata.

The house where we stayed.

It was used as an art gallery when dad held his exhibition in Cameron Highlands.

It was a double storey terrace house. My parents usually opt for single-storey houses, and I was quite surprised.

My sister climbing up the stairs. She's never stayed in a double-storey house before, I think.

Something interesting about the unit is its address. It was situated between number 3 and number 5. Mr-Number-3 is a Malay, while Mdm-Number-5 an Indian.

Ask a 5-year-old the number between 3 and 5, and I'm sure he (or she) will answer 4.

But no, it was named "3A". So much for superstitious Chinese.

That's real thoughtful of the developers. Sadly, the sweetness ends there. Despite the way the Chinese proverb puts it "it takes time to know someone's heart", it didn't take long for me to notice the shoddy construction of the house.

See anything?

Take a look at the doorstep. Notice anything?

Yeah I know we have nice shoes, but look closer.

Rats. Missing tiles.

OMG. The tiles are dropping off.

That's not all. I proceeded up the stairs.


The second top wooden plank is especially narrow. Maybe I should plan to climb and descend the stairs two at a time to avoid it.

The wooden steps of the stairs are of uneven length. Not to mention some of the wooden pieces rock in their places when stepped on.

Terrible construction. Possibly even worse than the Malaysian Court House. Remember the one that leaked before it was opened?

Anyway some of dad's artworks are still there. I recognise many of them from his exhibition in Good Hope Art Gallery, Singapore.

Some of the paintings on exhibit.

The biggest, yellowest, and the centre of attention of the exhibition in Singapore wasn't there, though. It was sold for S$10,000 during the opening ceremony of the Singapore exhibition, I think.

After some rest, dad and I painted the floor of the house.

CH Art House, by E. H. Yeo and son.

"CH Art House". I'm not really satisfied with it, actually, but it was dad who er, designed it.

OK moving back to things to see in Cameron Highlands, I noticed that since my last visit to Cameron Highlands, many banks popped out of the ground like mushrooms after the rain.

One of the many new banks I didn't remember seeing in CH.

There's AmBank by a new fancy restaurant I've never noticed before that night.

There are also several new foot reflexology shops in Tanah Rata. Suitable for beaten mountain hikers.

Foot Reflexology. The three Chinese words say "Thousand-Mile-Feet". How lame.

Another one just few shoplots away.

I even spotted one grocery store with a wall covered with slippers of all colours and sizes.

All sorts of slippers you want.

I don't understand why they paint them. I mean, when you wear them nobody can see the paintings anymore. When you're not, nobody knows to whom those beautiful slippers belong to. So what's the point?

Even the bus terminal has been renovated.

The bus terminal of Cameron Highlands.

Looks like a poor imitation of some ancient castle. Does it have a "Made in China" mark?

Oh they even haveSports Toto.

Ah! Look at the cute ice-cream stall.

An ice-cream stall beside the road.

But they weren't selling ice-cream. What sort of freak would enjoy ice-cream in the chilly weather of Cameron Highlands anyway?

But nevermind, most people would opt for food. There's the good ol' Marrybrown in Tanah Rata, the only branch of Marrybrown with no sign of closing down.

This Marrybrown has been here for ages and still going strong.

But then there is a new fast food outlet in Brinchang. I was totally surprised, I gasped, jumped, and rounded my eyes upon seeing the smiling colonel of KFC while dad drove past. Too bad I couldn't catch a photo of it.

Edit (16/10): I got a photo of the KFC from one of my friends' er, friend. Apparently we happened to visited CH the very same week.

Credit to Vege. Thanks for the photo!

OK, maybe Marrybrown isn't going on that strong.

For those who enjoy being slow and steady, there's a new Starbucks in Tanah Rata too.

Starbucks Coffee!!! In Cameron Highlands! OMG

Yes... you heard right! Starbucks!

My goodness. CH is going commercial.

OK, maybe Marrybrown isn't going on that well.

It's a bit sad actually. Three years ago, I spotted opportunities of opening fast food outlets in Cameron Highlands. I mean, other than Marrybrown, there wasn't any other around, and food around CH isn't that nice. I told mum "hey, I can surely make a profit by opening a McDonald's here." And she totally agreed with me.

Ah well, stupid KFC took my business. Nevermind, I still have a second spot at Taman Bunga Raya.

Well, for those who don't like fast food there are the traditional food stalls and restaurants nearby, don't worry.

"Gerai Segar". Fresh Stall, it says.

Oh, I got one photo from the Sam Poh Temple, as promised in the prequel of this post. Just one though, I think dad deleted the others.

That's mum and my sister praying in the Temple. Erm, for her moral project. Sister's, not mum's.

On the way back to Klang Valley from Cameron Highlands, be sure to stop by Bidor. There's this stall which is famous for its Chinese cookies.

Look for Pun Chun Restaurant.

The yellow ones have lotus filling, tasted not bad. The white one on the right was called "Almond Flavoured Wife Cookies" (杏仁老婆饼). Simply fabulous! They cost RM1.70 each by the way.

I think that's all for my trip to Cameron Highlands. Coming up soon - More Sights of UNMC!