Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Urgh... Imagine all the wriggling reptiles

This is from Reuters. The highlighted line made me LMAO! hahahaha...

Norwegian caught with 24 reptiles taped to body

Mon Oct 26, 2009 1:07pm EDT

OSLO (Reuters) - A man was caught by Norwegian customs carrying a tarantula in his bag, and a further 14 royal pythons and 10 albino leopard geckos taped to his body, media reported on Monday.

The 22-year-old Norwegian was stopped in a routine check by Kristiansand customs after arriving on a ferry from Denmark, newspaper Faedrelandsvennen reported.

Customs found the tarantula, before deciding to give him a full body search that revealed 14 stockings -- one for each snake -- taped around his torso, top selling tabloid VG said.

Reptile smuggling is not uncommon in Norway, which prohibits people holding many reptile species as pets, but office manager Helge Breilid at Kristiansand customs was quoted by VG as saying customs officers had been "horrified" by Sunday's catch.

"Customs officers quickly realized the man was smuggling animals, because his whole body was in constant motion," Breilid told VG.

When the man dropped his pants, the officers found 10 cans taped to his legs, each containing a lizard, he said.

The man was still being held by police on Monday, Kristiansand police attorney Johann Martin Kile told VG, adding he would be released upon agreeing to pay a 12,500 Norwegian crowns ($2,256) fine.

The reptiles were handed over to a security firm until Norwegian authorities decide what to do with them, Breilid said.

(Reporting by Richard Solem)

I'm hungry

I'm hungry. I'm hungry for chocolate-coated digestives! No thanks to my MSN buddy who keeps talking about it! hahahaha... the temptation is too great! I seem to be hungry all the time, especially when trying to find food to write about in our cuisine news. Which reminds me, that I have not had the chance to satisfy my craving for escargot! Will need to take a rain check on that as I'm quite broke again... Where does my money all go to? That's the biggest mystery of all time!

Anyway, changing the topic, I downloaded Google Chrome yesterday (because Firefox was screwing up my Gmail logout process) and I've made it my default browser. It's nice, fast, smooth and I installed a skin - it looks cool! I don't mean to imply Firefox has lost its lustre, but I think we all should have some change from time to time and I'm just giving Chrome a try and so far, it's been good! However, I probably would switch back to Firefox in the near future because when a popup window loads new content, it doesn't jump out to the front of the screen, I have to select the browser to view the content. This makes my news compilation process to be a slightly more tedious task. And another thing is the tab title doesn't refresh for my company email account. So I'm always panicking when I see "Inbox (4)" when actually I had read all the 4 emails in the morning! Well, that's just some of my grouses, bearing in mind that I've only used Chrome for less than 24 hours.

Oh oh, and someone in Taiwan is trying to change my Gmail password... Why am I always a target for these low-lifes? Grrhhh...

Monday, October 26, 2009

Haha... Lost My Own Bet!

Referring to a past post, I guess I lost my own bet (against myself *winks*). Earlier on, I managed to catch the TV commercial with that 'Through My Window' song, and well, I was right that it was some telco company... however it was not my guess... it was TM! hahaha

I wonder whether they're trying to rebrand Streamyx? (since Streamyx is also associated with orange...)

Oh well, I'm happy again today! It's funny because I don't know why I feel this way and in fact, I should be panicking since revision classes are less than 2 weeks away... But I thank God for this peace I'm feeling!!!

I'm hungry. Goodnight (or more accurately, good morning!).

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Nice Friday Night

I'm guilty of emotionalism. What is this swinging in and out of happiness? It's just probably silly hormonal changes.

As I'm typing this, I'm watching Notting Hill on HBO (multitasking is fun! ;)). And I'm giggling away at all that dry English humour. And I'm smiling myself silly at the impeccable way the film was planned - great soundtrack at the right moment, love the dialogue and that walking through the street with season changes shot!

It's funny how I can remember what a friend said about Hugh Grant 6 years ago during one of our sleepover things! "Love those crisp shirts" - or something similar to that (correct me if I'm wrong, CCMC ;P )

For a day that started off fine and took a 180 degree change once I reached office and then unsteadily headed south, with slight hints of uptrends, the day (and also, week) wrapped up nicely with a yummy Thai dinner with a friend and re-watching Notting Hill (feeling all warm and fuzzy).

This post is a brainless pointless one. But tonight I am happy (which seems to be the trend these past 2 weeks). Praise God! I think I've overlooked blogging about the peace He has given me... I hope I'll get down to it soon! :)

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

In The News, Today

These are a couple of interesting articles I came across today. They may not be what you would categorise as 'Breaking news' or they may not even be written for today but nevertheless amusing (to me, at least!). Note: I've hyperlinked the Webpages I referred to at the beginning of each paragraph.

So, number 1: UK-based firm, Vicon, will be launching a camera that you can wear around your neck to record everything that you do in your life. The camera automatically takes photos every 30 seconds with an accelerometer and light sensors to detect when the user enters a new environment and an infrared sensor to detect body heat from a person in front of the wearer. I suppose these sensors will trigger the camera to capture a photo although it is not within its 30 seconds rhythm. Anyway, does this vaguely remind you of that movie Robin Williams starred in - The Final Cut? According to the article, this camera was originally invented to help Alzheimer's disease sufferers but could one day be used to create "lifelogs."

Numero duo: Can you imagine 14 hours of 'dikir barat', non-stop in a train journey from Singapore to Kelantan? I don't know about you, but I can just imagine the headache coming with each pounding of the drum. And in case you're wondering what 'dikir barat' is, it's a traditional Malay performance where there are two groups taking turns to sing, accompanied by instruments such as rebana and kompang, in response to each other. Yes, it is a culturally rich tradition, but 14 hours straight? Not forgetting the unfortunate few who suffer from motion sickness? I believe there is always a right time and place for everything and this here... hmmm... doesn't seem quite so (in my honest opinion and purely relying on my imagination of the situation).

Number three: Good news for shorter and plumper women! Apparently we, humans, are still evolving. Okay, that sounded cynical... But yes, I do think we are still evolving, just that evolution takes millions of years and so we don't get to witness visible results at the moment. And here comes the cliché phrase: "Just because you don't see it, doesn't mean it's non-existant" (or something along the lines). Anyway, the reason behind the good news - shorter and plumper women have healthier hearts and longer reproductive windows. These women tend to have more children on average than their taller, lighter counterparts. So according to the theory of natural selection, the more fertile individuals will succeed in passing down their genes and so, we will probably be seeing more shorter, plumper women walking the earth in the future! (OK, that last part was added by me just for the heck of it! haha) Yay, I'm short! And slowly leaning towards the plump side too... :P

Nombor empat: I'm referring here to the bottom half of the Webpage (not the upper half, although it might have proven to be a more spicy interesting topic to blog about... hehe). Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka (DBP) is seeking an amendment to the National Language Act 1963 and the Education Act 1996 so that they can penalise private sector and agencies that fail to use Bahasa Malaysia in official dealings. It is also mentioned that these 'official dealings' include meetings, preparation of minutes and official functions. So does this mean secretaries have to start writing meeting minutes in BM? If so, I am going to die (if I decide to pursue a career in company secretaryship)! hahahaha... anyway wow! The DBP D-G said Bahasa Malaysia is ranked 5th in the world in terms of the number of speakers... Sure or not? tsk tsk tsk...

I admit it - I've just got bitten by the blogging bug again. 2 posts in a day! Wow!

Self Bet

I was looking at the frontpage of The Star newspaper today and read a line: 'INSIDE: Unknown song rocks the nation >N12.' With my curiosity piqued, I turned to page 12 to find out what it's all about.

Turns out that radio DJs received a song 'Through My Window' yesterday and there was a buzz about the mysterious song that was only linked to a Website, everyoneconnects.net. And yes, I gave in to the trap and scored them another hit to their Website... streamed the song, and in my opinion, it really sounds like a local production. It had one of those whiny American pop-rock tunes, very popular with today's youths (with me as the exception...).

So, this is my bet (with myself, not with anyone of you!). Based on the orange colour theme of the Website and past experience of marketing schemes by telco companies (usually our famous yellow service provider), I'm guessing it's got something to do with Umobile. I may be wrong, I may be right, let's just wait and find out!

P.S: While typing this post out, I remembered the launching of the Happy prepaid plan. I clearly recall cute and colourful stickers being distributed with our free newspaper - The Sun - a couple of years back. Anyway, that got me to search out their official Website and somehow I suspected it was tied to DiGi (although they did not mention it on their Website, or at least, I didn't find it after poking around) and Google managed to dig this out for me. So I was right! haha... I think/suspect the other campaign sometime back (thetruthaboutprepaid.com) was also by DiGi, but I'm too lazy to confirm that... ;)

Monday, October 19, 2009

Would you eat meat grown in the lab?

Last week CNN highlighted a story on in vitro meat. PETA is offering US$1 million to the first company that brings lab-grown meat to consumers by 2012. The TV programme featured New Harvest, a non-profit organisation, who is in active pursuit of this research.

The whole idea is to stop farming animals for meat and instead grow animal muscle tissue in the lab through cell cultures. This is supposed to effectively stop animal cruelty, as the harvesting of muscle cells which would serve as the precursor for the cultures, do not harm the animals. Other benefits is said to be the lower cost of production, and in vitro meat is supposed to be cleaner - free from disease and microbial contamination. To know more, you can read this Wikipedia page.

My initial reaction when I heard this was... horror! It sounded like some Frankenstein-ish project. Images of muscles grown in petri dishes and incubators flashed in my over-imaginative mind. And when I came across the 'bioreactor' part in Wikipedia, I started picturing a slurry of cell culture and how the process engineers would have to deal with reducing frothing and ensure proper sterilisation of the nutrient media. Taking things to another level, I started thinking what kind of nutrient media they would use and what if they added some sort of growth factor that could impair our genetic makeup in the long run?

Bottom line at that moment - I was dead against it. But then, thinking more about the matter, it does have its pros. For example the 'cleaner' advantage in vitro meat has. We would be able to prevent epidemics or meat-related diseases such as mad cow disease, red tide and flesh-eating bacteria contaminations - provided that the cell sample collected from the source animal was not already contaminated. Another benefit would be preventing environmental pollution from seeping into our diet. Currently, we worry about where our fresh meats are from, what the farm animals are eating and drinking. We get countless forwarded emails warning of fish caught from the Mekong river having high levels of heavy metals and unscrupulous farmers feeding their cattle with meat-based feedstocks to hasten muscle growth via a high protein diet. Heavy metals, prions, radioactive waste, deadly algal toxins... and the list goes on. You'll never be done worrying about what goes into your food!

Oh, and another interesting pro for in vitro meat is the decrease in the need for farming cattle (for meat). I think most of us have heard that cows and their methane farts and burps are one of the causes of global warming? A weird-ass funny but supposedly true fact (hope it's not just another over-exagerated fact/excuse that certain parties are using to blackmail us into adopting their policies). Anyway, in vitro meat could cut down that unwanted bowel expulsion of methane gas from these 'highly explosive' ruminants. And so, we get to save the world! *puts on a Miss Universe smile*

But when it comes down to the moment where you have to decide whether you will eat in vitro meat, what would your response be? Yes or No? For me, I think I would still say No. Don't get me wrong, I'm an animal lover and all, but there's still something uneasy about the idea of growing meat in a lab (or factory - once this idea is successfully commercialised). It's the same feeling you'd get about genetically-modified (GM) plants. Although companies like Monsanto would swear by their GM products' safety, we still prefer natural plants or even better, organic or wild species plants as our food source.

Just a thought: If this idea of in vitro meat were to actually take flight in the future, I wonder whether one day we could see chicken meat in our supermarket with fancy shapes like hearts, flowers and the likes? Knowing the Japanese, with their ever-innovative ideas of repackaging common place items, someone could experiment with growing these muscles in a mould or something!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Nights of Music

On Saturday night, I followed LK to Alexis in Jalan Ampang to catch the Lewis Pragasam Quartet. We were anticipating a performance with an Akai EWI (Electric Wind Instrument) but alas, we were let down as there were none. The quartet, which had 2 Cuban members, played jazz songs, a Santana song and that hit song by Latin pop group, Son By Four. We left halfway through the second set, after I finished my semi-dinner of a petit quiche lorraine and cranberry-raspberry soda. Was kind of let down after all the fuss of arranging to meet up, driving all the way to KL, finding a parking space at the road curb, waiting for a place to sit and not getting what we went there for. Anyway, an experience is an experience -be it a good or bad one.

On a different note, I really enjoyed Double Take's performance on Monday at the MPO Hall in KLCC.

It was a bit of a last minute plan but NP was kind enough to book the tickets for the three of us. We got our tickets just in time before they were sold out by Wednesday. Our journey to and from KLCC were adventures in themselves - "kaedah cuba-cuba" - as NP puts it! Truly works, although we did go round and round in the carpark trying to find the exit to Jalan Tun Razak! haha... That was cute!

The performance. Mia Palencia's vocals were just so beautiful. Perfect pitching and timing. She even managed to imitate trumpet sounds in one of the songs - I think it was the Raul Midon number that she sang. Roger Wang was her match in his guitar playing skills and although they were only two, the overall sound was adequate and complete. With Roger's miked-up foot tapping keeping tempo and providing rythm, they both put on a great show.

However my only critique would be Roger's solo performance. I felt that there was a slight irregularity in the tempo, but then again, perhaps that was part of the song? Anyway, this is coming from a pair of untrained ears, where I'm only used to critically commenting on LK's music.

Now to the educational part of the performance. What we learned from Roger: harp guitar. That was a strange-looking instrument with its roots from the Celtic (I think) and it must've been pretty heavy (from the looks of it). What we learned from Mia: Raul Midon. A black jazz/soul singer songwriter who is blind but plays like a acoustic guitar version of Stevie Wonder! Check out his song below and do note how he executes harmonics in his guitar riffs with such skill and tastefulness!

Somehow, I can't seem to escape Michael Jackson's Human Nature. As if it wasn't enough getting an overdose at home while LK was working on his project the past few weeks, it was a pleasant surprise to suddenly hear that familiar tune coming from Roger while Mia gave hints to the next song. They played 2 MJ songs in the latter part of their set. Which reminds me that I haven't given a commentary on their song list! They performed a couple of jazz standards, a P. Ramlee song, another by Raul Midon and one of their own composition.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Becoming Aunt Agony

I don't know why I'm always ending up becoming Aunt Agony (someone to listen to your problems and is expected to offer advice). Why do people ask me about relationship matters? Do I look like I have tremendous experience in that department? The funny thing is even after pointing out my inexperience, they turn back with a reply "these things don't need experience to know" (erm... huh? yeah, they do!?!)

All this listening and advising makes me feel old - like some big sister. When the fact is I'm nobody's big sister! I am and always will be the younger sister in my family. Sometimes I just don't want to know (ignorance is bliss), but if a person insists on telling, what can I do? Can't be saying NO to a friend, right? So there I am, feeling like an alien, giving words of advice that I have never taken or seen the need to use before, but seems like the right thing to say in the situation.

Well, I hope I did not go wrong in offering my point of view. And although it was a bit self-destructive in one case, I think I feel better for choosing to say the right thing. Anyway it all comes back to you in a vicious cycle, doesn't it? You deliberately sabotage someone, and down the line you get the same treatment. Well well, all the best to them! Hope happiness is just around the hill...

Online Bible Study, Anyone?

I was reading past posts, back from the days before I started university, and found that I used to sound so kiddish! (maybe I still do... haha). It got me thinking - I used to mention full names in my posts, so this blog isn't as anonymous as I'd perceived it to be. Anyway, I'm not in the habit of going back into my archive and editing away the slips of information that I may have unwittingly leaked. So, que sera sera for whoever that discovers this blog and happens to guess who I am. I think I can rest assured that I did not flame anyone using their full name in the same post.

OK, moving on to the next topic. I've signed up for an online Bible study, where a study helper is assigned to you and he or she sends you lessons (from a fixed curriculum) via e-mail. I'm currently in my third lesson now. I've never seriously taken Bible study before (well, with the exception of that one short stint in UM, where I just could not concentrate on what my 'teacher' was teaching... feel bad for wasting her time). Anyway, what I was trying to get at here was that I find the WBS (World Bible School) lessons interesting - relevant to what I'm searching for. However the tougher part is the discussion questions, where I really need to evaluate what are my beliefs (and me not used to analysing my own heart) and searching for more understanding online. However the thing that I like about this is that I am not under pressure to memorise and answer the questions correctly within a short time frame. The time factor also allow me to phrase my questions properly before sending the reply e-mail.