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Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Best of 2008

2008 has come to an end. How much has been accomplished this year? Is this a meaningful year? Thankfully most of my memorable activities are archived in my blog. You can visit it at... Oh wait, you're already there.

1. Started A Blog

Actually this blog was started on the 29th of December, 2007, near midnight. Not exactly 2008, but close enough.

At first the interval between posts are rather inconsistent. I wrote when I had inspiration. I wrote when I was bored. I wrote when there were things to be written. Starting in June, I adopted the format of writing two new posts per week, and this has resulted in about 7 to 9 posts per month for the rest of the year.

2. Visited Singapore Zoo...

... the day Ah Meng passed away. My sister and I were shooting wild guesses at which Orangutan Ah Meng was (we didn't know about her death until after the visit), but apparently she moved on while we were lining up for our tickets.

3. Graduated from College

After two years or six semesters in TARC, I've finally graduated with a diploma in my hand. Though it wasn't the most enjoyable part of my life, it was no doubt memorable.

4. Entered University

University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus is arguably the most beautiful campus in Malaysia. I didn't come here to enjoy the sights though.

5. Played Piano by Ear

Me playing Rick Price's Heaven Knows.

Actually this isn't something new for me. I've been doing it (or trying to do it) since secondary school, but with little success. It was 2008 that saw me succeeding in producing a few songs acceptable by human ears.

6. Cooked Something...

... other than instant noodles and fried eggs.

7. Clogged Toilet Bowl...

... twice. Once in my hostel, another time at home. I think I ate too much high fibre crackers and wholemeal bread.

8. Started Jogging

In TARC, my only cardiovascular exercise was spending 20 minutes at the cross trainer. It was in September that I started jogging around the Nottingham Lake weekly.

9. Re-picked Badminton

It was quite sad, having no one to play the only sport I like with. Thankfully I joined UNMC Badminton Club and participated in badminton workshops to help me catch up with the sport again.

And yet I still don't have a badminton partner =(.

10. Picked Up Linux

And still using it. All the photos taken by me are edited in Ubuntu's GIMP before being published online. Most of them only have the seal watermark added, though, and only few have other tweaks worked on them.

So that's it! I managed to list 10 breakthroughs for me this year. So I can doubtlessly say that, yes, 2008 means a lot to me.

I personally dislike the idea of celebrating the need of obtaining a new calendar, but happy new year, everyone!

Saturday, 27 December 2008

Christmas is When...

... I wish I could never grow up.

I mean, who wouldn't like getting free presents every year? This, plus all the red packets we get for Chinese New Year, ah, I just envy Peter Pan.

I actually went to MidValley before Christmas to get myself a toy.

Imagine that. I travelled for one whole hour. Just for the toy.

For myself.

Well to save myself from feeling too bad about it, I got some groceries there too. Oh, I also bought some dinner from Carrefour MidValley.

So what was the toy? Well, it's colourful, it's addictive, it's fun, it's rotating...

A Rubik's cube.

Don't tell me you've never heard of it before. I am quite happy with me I managed solve all of it but the last four corners by myself. But before you go like "it's your parents' age's toys!" or "it's a toy for nerds!" or "so childish!", watch the next toy I got this Christmas.

This is colourful, addictive, cute, fun, rotating...

A clockwork dancing figure.

It is just so amusing! Watch it in action!

Just screw, screw, screw it up, and watch it move it move it! Thanks a lot for the toy!

OK sometimes I just hope I don't know who me.

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Vid: Santa Claus is Coming to Town

If you happen to be among the lucky few who have received a winning "lottery ticket" asking you to come to to redeem your prizes, don't be crestfallen.

Right below is a video of me playing Richard Clayderman's Santa Claus is Coming to Town, an extra early Christmas present for all of my readers!

Richard Clayderman is a French pianist, widely known as the Prince of Romance. His version of Santa Claus is Coming to Town is included in one of his latest albums (not including recompilations of old songs), A Christmas Wish, and is definitely my favourite song of the album.

I have a feeling that my readers won't like this Christmas present and my site will get vandalised by Boxing Day.

Anyway, Merry Christmas to all.

Friday, 19 December 2008

Early Sights of UNMC

After finishing a paragraph with the word "Conclusions" as its heading, I saved my document and looked at the clock. Dang! It's already 4.18am. With less than four hours to sleep, I decided to take a walk instead of catching forty (or less than forty) winks.

And lucky thing I did.

It was a clear, cloudless night. I walked to the Nottingham Lake and sat by the bench. The air was cool, and the wind whooshed past my ears. Cool, gentle breeze. Perfect weather for a midnight stroll.

That was simply a wondrous feeling. The stars had never been brighter. For the first time in my life I finally understood why it is impossible to count the number of stars. I never knew there were so many of them! The sky was like a deep sea, with the sea floor endless in sight. I felt like if I could fly, I would drown in the sky.

And who would get to enjoy this feeling, except night shift security guards, the lonely lighthouses, and midnight owls?

So I sat there, listening to my ageing MP3, playing romantic songs like Can You Feel The Love Tonight?, Stars, and Heaven Knows. The loud silence of the night really revealed the real quality of my headphones - the details were perfect and the effects astounding. Yes, no whooshing sounds of the ceiling fans, no humming of the air-conditioner, no buzzing of car engines, just the splashing of the Nottingham Lake fountains and the occasional quacks of the ducks.

Someone once told me, "Owl, let me tell you something my father told me. Look at the stars. The great bloggers of the past are up there, watching over us. So whenever you feel alone, just remember that those bloggers will always be there to guide you. And so will I."

Or something like that.

Some souvenirs - photos of UNMC at dawn.

Central Teaching Block at dawn.

G' morning ducks!

The ducks shed their feathers.

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

I Bet You Didn't Know

I bet you didn't know that...

... owls can't move their eyeballs in their sockets.

... some owl's can't hoot at all.

... some owls have asymmetically located ears.

... owls have two front and two back facing toes on each leg.

... I was lying to you.

OK, I wasn't.

PS - University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus is still missing in Google Maps.

Monday, 15 December 2008

3D vs Pirates

It's amazing to see Malaysians fill up cinemas at a time like this to watch an animation about a dog.

1. Malaysians aren't really pet lovers. You should see how people treat their pets. One of my friends just blogged about her neighbours and their pet rabbit.
2. Most of us think we are too "grown-up" for cartoons anymore (when the fact is the direct opposite).
3. Cartoons are relatively short compared to blockbusters. 90 minutes versus 3 hours! For the same price!
4. It's Christmas, and people are asking for some wrappies from everybody else.
5. It's easy to get the ever-s0-cheap *ahem* CDs!

But then again Disney managed to attract a lot of attention to their Bolt thanks to their Disney Digital 3D. Everybody wants a piece of it like it's Angelina Jolie's thongs. Why? Simple - the experience can't be recreated at home. Yet. Unless you have Angelina Jolie at home, of course.

The point it we are still far away from recreating a 3D experience at home. Heck, general Malaysians aren't even ready to embrace HD yet.

Ah see? You don't even know what HD is, right?

So enjoy, Disney, Universal, Sony Entertainment, 20th Century Fox, etc etc. You've finally found a fool-proof way of defeating pirates. Ho, ho, pirates!

Until somebody comes up with a 3D home theatre, that is.

Saturday, 13 December 2008

ABC for Nerds

A is for Avogadro's number
B is for Bernoulli's Theorem
C is for calculus
D is for differentiation
E is for exams
F is for fail
G is for gravity
H is for Hooke's Law
I is for imaginary numbers
J is for journals
K is for knowledge
L is for Laplace Transform
M is for mathematics
N is for Newton
O is for Oxygen
P is for probability
Q is for QED
R is for Rubik's cube
S is for statistics
T is for tuition
U is for university
V is for vectors
W is for Wikipedia
X is for variable
Y is for Young's modulus
Z is for zero

Special thanks to my friends who have inspired me on this post =D. ABC for all!

Sunday, 7 December 2008

Things I Learnt about Wedding Dinners

Things I learnt about wedding dinners
1. Those who talk business are either the employees of the restaurant or are bosses of their own businesses
2. Everybody tries to look good, but the bride and groom will always look best
3. People applaude the wedding couple's entrance because it means food will be served soon. People stand up not to look for the couple, but to search for waiters
4. If the guests finish the wedding cake, it means that the restaurant's food sucks
5. Never ever sit directly beside the couple's entry path if you don't want your food covered with confetti
6. If you ever get bored, remember that we get to do mobile blogging
7. ALWAYS check the tap of the toilet before emptying your bladder or bowel - you don't want to find the toilet out of water, your hands full of waste, and expensive food out there waiting for you at the same time

Monday, 1 December 2008

The Darkest Black Friday Week

Before I start this post, I'm just going to say again that I need a camera phone. Wasted so much energy and time to fetch my camera just for this post. Please appreciate my effort and read this post carefully. And now you know what to get me this Christmas.

Don't start laughing too soon yet. This post will be a very grim one.

As you have surely known, nearly 200 people died in the Mumbai terrorist attack last Wednesday, two days before Black Friday. I watched the news in horror as I tried to swallow my breakfast early last Thursday.

But we don't have to go that far to find violence.

Last Wednesday, all University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus (UNMC) students received the following email.

* * *
Sent: Wed 11/26/2008 5:16 PM
To: All Students; All Staff

Dear all,

I am sorry to report that 4 of our students of Indian descent, have been attacked in what appears to be a case of mistaken identity.

Men in 3 cars have attacked 2 International students in Forest Bar with machetes and then it seems that the same three cars stopped a student car on the way to Broga and slashed 2 other local Indian students.

I strongly recommend that students stay away from Bars in the Semenyih and Broga areas until these criminals have been caught.

If anyone has any information regarding these brutal events, please contact me or Azlan as soon as possible.

Paul Boardman

Director of Administrative Support Services
The University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus

* * *

No, this is not a December Fool's Day joke. Forest Bar, as stated in the email, is located just 10 minutes' walk away from where I stay. And the incident actually occured at 5, in the evening.


Many other emails followed, including notices to hold an urgent meeting between staff and students in an attempt to reinforce the safety of students, notes assuring students that the security around the campus has been doubled, and updates on the injured students.

Sunday. We received the official news of one of the victims' death from the Students Association (SA) President himself.

* * *
Sent: Sun 11/30/2008 3:18 PM

Hello guys,

I regret to inform you that one of our fellow students who got attacked at forest bar some days back has suddenly passed away this morning.

He is a final year student of the Faculty of Electrical & Electronics Engineering


The Executives of Student Association is declaring 1st of Dec,2008 a day of mourning of our beloved brother,friend,coursemate and colleague and would like you to know that we have also made a request to the management to declare it lecture free day so we can mourn for him but we are still waiting for their response.

Please be informed that there will be black ribbons distributed in student association building(Main Entrance to the building) between 9am & 11am tomorrow so we can show our beloved one that we miss him and we do love him.

All clubs and societies activities/events to be held tomorrow will be cancelled and we apologise for any inconviniences this will cause you.


Douglas E.T
SA President
* * *

I arrived at school today (Monday), to find many of my classmates wearing the said black ribbons on their arms or wrists. I immediately felt ashamed of myself for picking a red shirt that day.

A representative giving out black ribbons at the SA building.

I later got one of the ribbons myself. It is not much, but I hope this means something to my fellow coursemate. He was even my senior!

White drapes were also put up at certain points of the schools, including the busy SA bridge and guardhouse.

Visitors to the SA building also paid respect to him.

All of a sudden the atmosphere around the campus changed. The birds aren't chirping that merrily. Nobody felt like feeding the ducks any more. The security guards seem less cheerful and more serious at doing their duties. Students living off campus are careful where they thread and shot backward glances every few steps. Even the clocktower's chimes sounded more like those of a church holding a funeral to me, for the first time in three months.

Even more emails were sent and received. All co-curricular activities are cancelled for 1st of December, and all academic lectures on the 5th postponed.

For all UNMC students trying hard to suppress their glee, keep in mind that the lectures will be replaced at a later date.

Anyway, let's hope that other than these trivial things such as cancellation of activities and postponing of classes and such, the death of one fellow UNMC student will bring significant and permanent difference to the campus and people around here. Changes I see now such as heightened security, more interaction between people of different races, nationalities, and religions, and greater care of one self's safety are welcome, but are they here to stay forever?

For the deceased, rest in peace. For my living friends, take care. It's a wild world out there.