Saturday, December 30, 2006

previously on...

greetings from singapore. now that i'm on holidays, and internet access outside of APAC have been severely disrupted by the recent earthquake in taiwan, it seems a perfectly logical time to blog... right?! anyways, entries have been somewhat infrequent around here, so i thought i'd try to do a bit of a recap of what i've been up to in the last month or two, before a new year begins. here goes:
  • saturday 04 november -- visit to the newly opened ikea logan. i was enticed by ivan's ravings about ikea's famous sausages which he regularly ate in KL. alas, this particular ikea did not serve them! anyways we went for lunch and a walk around the massive store. [photos]

  • saturday 04 november -- went along to a surprise birthday party for ST, and subsequently hung out with a few unicellers for more surprises and dessert at the newly reopened (and relocated) blue lotus dessert lounge. [photos]

  • sunday 05 november -- watoto childrens choir performance at a local church

    this is a video clip of their opening sequence. it's the second time i've seen the choir perform, and much of it felt familiar / similar to the first viewing. i guess the novelty wore off, but the message they bring still makes an impact. check out their tour dates to see if/when they're coming to a venue near you.

  • thursday 09 november -- dinner at the ottoman cafe in west end with ST and HZ, catching up a year after we last had a similar meet and eat. [photos]

  • thursday 16 - tuesday 21 november -- flew to sydney to meet ES and co. from singapore, visiting to attend MH's wedding. [photos]

    also caught up with my sister and BIL, who took us to bills surry hills for brunch. they have almost all of bill's cookbooks, and reckon his food is a goer - simple but tasty. my scrambled eggs with toast and gravlox salmon don't look as interesting as the sweet corn fritters sis ordered, but it was a fairly filling if not inexpensive meal. nice decor and fairly busy venue.

    photos specific to david and michelle's wedding on saturday 18 november are here.

  • saturday 25 november -- visit to sirromet winery, as requested by ES. the shtes joined us for the winery tour and winetasting, followed by some scones for afternoon tea. a somewhat cultured feeling afternoon, leaving me as sure as ever that i just plain don't like wine. [photos]

  • thursday 07 - monday 11 december -- went to sydney again for another long weekend to attend another wedding. flex leave is good :) a few of us from clay made the trek, and while there caught up with some other ex-brisbanites for a meal at tony roma's, famous for ribs. the collage shows the onion loaf entree my table had - a bit of a change in presentation from your usual onion rings - and also my regular slab of (what i think were the) carolina honeys ribs. i don't often order ribs but i have to say these were very nice indeed. anyways, photos of alex and jenn's wedding on saturday 09 december are here.
well that's about all i have up till about mid december. will probably post more about my christmas holidays etc when i get around to uploading photos and the like. which probably won't happen until after i return to brisbane. which means it'll be after i get back to work. which means i'll be slack again... ;)

Thursday, December 21, 2006

out of the frying pan...

"But know this, that if the owner of the computer had known at what hour the hard drive would die, he would not have left his computer to be without a backup. You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect."
-- from the apocryphal Lucan narrative (IT edition), chapter 12 and verses 39-40.
about two months ago, i spent about a week's worth of spare time during my nights and weekends trying to sort out an annoying problem my PC had developed with outlook, IE, and by association other apps that use IE to render webpages. despite plumbing the depths of google and trawling through the annals of microsoft support, no potential solution i came across (and there were many that looked promising) resolved the problem. i had ruled out the virus/spyware factor, having scanned my entire machine multiple times with multiple scanners. circumstantial evidence hinted at a possible bad patch - i had just completed a round of windows and security updates before this problem appeared on the scene - and i was close to the point of laying blame for the whole saga at the cashed up feet of the microsoft monster. but then i came across a detailed troubleshooting procedure on the MS site, and even though many of the steps involved had already been tried in various combinations, i decided to give this one more try. and by the books.

in the midst of this last effort, i was sprung by the dreaded BSOD. my PC rebooted past the bios and turned percussionist with mechanical ticking/clunking noises now emanating from my primary hard drive. this cannot be good, i said to myself. sure enough, after speaking to a few data recovery places and computer technicians, and doing some preliminary tests (which may have rendered the drive even more useless), i decided it was time for the professionals to take over.

nevermind the software problems, i now had some serious hardware issues to contend with. compounding the joy was the fact that my backup/recovery strategy for such disasters was... well, let's just say fairly minimalistic. hugely ironic for someone who has worked in the IT industry, and specifically dealing with aspects of backup/restore for machines whose power and value tower over the likes of my humble PC, the only backups i had were
  1. "my documents" folder, done over 2 years ago, and
  2. an outlook pst file, done over 6 months ago
everything else has gone the way of all matter when encountering a black hole. thankfully i did have much of my other data sitting on a separate drive, which is still running strong :) *knock on wood*

anyways, i was now faced with a recovery bill ranging from $5-600 through to several $thousand (assuming successful recovery). is my data worth that much? if it was, would it not have made sense to have some protection/insurance against this sort of thing happening? hindsight always oozes wisdom...

so i spent i think about a week sweating on the thought of wiping a few zeros off my savings, and vacillating between wanting to do (almost) whatever necessary thing it takes to retrieve as much of my data as possible, and wanting to live out a bit of the que sera sera philosophy (mixed with twinges of guilt about spending so much money on bits of ones and zeros, the benefits of having which don't spread too much farther than me myself and i). in the end, the damage to the drive proved to be unrecoverable. it was about 2 or 3 months out of warranty. having heard stories of successful recovery following much more severe damage, i was a bit surprised by the status of my drive. in any case it solves the dilemma of whether i should spend the money on getting the data back...

and so i've now invested in a couple of new (and bigger) hard drives, and embarked on a slow process of rebuilding my computer, coming across some useful and note-worthy tools along the way. i'm keeping a changelog of sorts, so that it'll be easier to repeat the build if i need to. but hopefully with my backup strategy in place (part of which involves a sleek looking Cooler Master X-Craft external HDD enclosure), i won't need to do any rebuilds unless i choose to, or until the next you-beaut version of windows is finally released.

recommended tools (all freeware):
  • nLite - Deployment Tool for the bootable Unattended Windows installation (a tool for permanent Windows components removal and pre-installation Windows setup, with the option to make a bootable image ready for burning on cd or testing in virtual machines). I used this to create a custom installer CD for my OS - it wasn't quite as unattended as I would have liked, but it still made the installation a lot easier to manager.
  • DriveImage XML - program for imaging and backing up partitions and logical drives, with images stored in XML files (can be accessed and processed by third party tools), and support for "hot backups" via microsoft's volume shadow service. I use this to clone my whole OS drive to another physical disk, effectively giving me a reasonably up to date (depending on the frequency of backups) spare OS drive that's ready to swap in should the main one die. I'm also using this to create images of my two internal drives, on my external drive.
  • SyncBack (free version) - backs up and synchronises your files and directories to a choice of destination media. With support for filtering, compression, and scheduling with Windows scheduler. Runs very quickly and efficiently (if not using hashing to check file changes). I use this to keep a backed up and synchronised copy of my data drive.
here's hoping i've learnt some lessons from this experience!

oh, i should add that despite the trouble this whole episode has caused me, not to mention the hours spent on the computer (hmm... actually i do a lot of that anyway), i am thankful for things like:
  • the seemingly anal but nevertheless prudent decision i made in the days when gmail invites were scarce and a much sought after commodity, to forward a copy of all my emails to the welcoming and deep spaces of the gmail inbox. basically this meant i had copies of my emails which i could import into outlook, to replace those lost due to the crash.
  • the goodness that is dell axim - i had synchronised copies of all my outlook notes, tasks, contacts and calendar items on my pda. again, a relatively easy way to replace the data lost on my pc.
  • the competitive computer hardware market in this town, meaning i get to upgrade to bigger hard drives for cheap.
  • learning to deal with the loss of something i wouldn't choose to give up, but when it's forced upon me to more or less get on with it. well, what else can you do really... if you don't have a choice, you don't have a choice.

Saturday, December 02, 2006


didn't feel like getting out of bed today, and it wasn't even a work day. just felt like closing my eyes and staying off the moving sidewalk of life a little longer.

after waking up a few times -- thrice due to phone call/SMSs, and once when the wind/air pressure forced my partially closed door to open, thus exposing me to the sounds of other human activity in the household -- i eventually succumbed to the increasing heat, hunger and wakefulness and rolled out of bed at about 1pm.

i think that's the latest i've gotten out of bed for a while. i did sleep pretty late last night though, having discovered a blog of someone i know, and browsing through the archives -- some good laughs there.

i feel so lazy.

which partially explains why i haven't blogged lately, and why i'm revisiting this space. though there are more factors involved than a general lack of motivation.

it's december already. man.. *yawns*

[photo: caught on camera trying to get a moment's rest]

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

waxing lyrical

back in my shiftwork days, we used to listen to the radio during night and weekend shifts. one of the girls on my team had an uncanny ability to sing along to just about every song that came on. she said she just listens to a lot of music, and remembers the words (and tune).

me? i usually get about as far as humming bits of the tune and maybe recalling some of the lines from the chorus parts. that's why i don't go for karaoke, cos i can never remember how to sing the whole song, even if the words are flashed up in front of me and in time with the music.

amazing thing this the human mind. great capacity to remember lots of information - other people i know are variously good at quoting quotes and reciting lines from movies, plays, and episodes of the simpsons!

the other day a quiz got circulated at work - the 90's lyrics music quiz, with the aim of identifying song name at artist from a given line from a song. my two immediate colleagues started naming answers, while i struggled to convert the feelings of familiarity to actual titles and names. i could vaguely hear some of the tunes in my head, recall the context in which i heard the song (eg. this was featured in the soundtrack of an animated movie), or half-picture what the artist looked like. i think i got about two artists and one complete boyz II men song right before i gave up. the next day one colleague came in with answers found online, and as i scanned the list there were a number of lightbulb moments as the memories of songs from yesteryear came flooding back... well, those few that i knew anyway... quite a few were UK ones which i had never heard of.

anyways, the whole thing got me thinking about how powerful songs can be. even when you don't necessarily mean or intend to commit a song to memory, if it comes wrapped in a catchy tune, into your memory it goes. and sometimes, you can't get it out of your head! often, you may not even really think about what the lyrics are saying, yet you sing along regardless. i remember a time in high school when we looked at pop songs and lyrics during english class, and i was quite surprised to find that the lines i had been repeating from a certain prince song was actually quite sexually charged - and really not the sort of thing a young teenager ought to be taking any pride in saying/singing.

it's been some years since i regularly listened to commercial pop radio -- partly because my tastes have changed as i grew older, and partly because of the power of music/song to ingrain lyrics in my head. often i have the radio on not so much to actively listen as for background music. and these hours spent (perhaps subconsciously) absorbing all those lyrics have quite probably contributed to a warped view of the world. at the very least, they're not doing anything positive for my mind. which is not to say that all pop is bad, but if you're not actively filtering and selecting the stuff that's going into your mind (ie choosing what you listen to), and just freely taking everything in... well, that's a recipe for easy corruption.

since those younger years, i've spent a lot more time listening to christian music - whether christian pop or the songs used for church/congregational singing. they often (though not always!) have much more meaningful lyrics, and especially good are those which remind us about God - his character, his deeds, his promises etc. one thing i've tried to do on occasion is to memorise the lyrics of a whole song, so that i can sing it from memory. i find this helps me to focus on the words, and to think about what i'm singing (what words are coming next?). it's too easy, when the words are in front of you on a page or a screen, to engage the autopilot of the mind and read/sing the words as they come, and not think about what those words are.

i'm not very good at memorising whole songs, and mostly i rely on the fact that i've sung the songs hundreds of times before, so there's more of an osmosis effect than active memorising. but when i can, i like to not look at the lyrics as i sing.

if you ever see me singing with eyes closed, you'll know why.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

What Keeps Us Going?

because i can't come up with anything original, and because these are words i need to hear...

from the second quarter 2006 edition of send! - the gospel for asia news magazine, where gfa founder k.p. yohannan shares these thoughts:
I am always intrigued when I watch the start of the marathon during the summer Olympics. All the runners appear to be in top physical shape, excited to represent their countries and determined to win the gold medal.

However, it's a different story when I watch them 15 or 20 miles later. They look exhausted from the hot sun that beats down on them or miserable because of rain that makes their trail slippery. Some have trouble breathing when the race takes them over a mountain, and others struggle to keep up with the fast pace.

Although everyone, no matter how long it takes them to cross the finish line, is celebrated with cheers and applause, some runners will never get there. Somewhere along the route they drop out of the race due to exhaustion, injury or discouragement.

In the marathon race and in our Christian life, persevering until the end is what it's all about, not just starting well.

What am I talking about? Not giving up in our walk with Jesus and enduring in the call He gave us to win this lost world and build His kingdom. Both ahve to do with our inner life and with our commitment to serve Him.

Like the marathon runners, we, too, will encounter adversities along the way that have the potential to cause us to quit the race. Some of these trials include:
  • Relationship problems with other Christians that severely threaten our treasured self-life and call us to humility
  • Physical and financial setbacks that cause us to lose hope
  • Lack of fruit and fulfillment in our service to the Lord when we forget that the sowing season must come before we can reap a harvest
  • Facing our latent failures and sins when circumstances expose unbrokenness, pride, a selfish attitude, stubborn will or critical spirit
  • Frustratin and a desire to escape when serving the Lord becomes hard work and the feelings are gone
  • Feeling inadaequate and overwhelmed by the expectations our leaders and other Christians have for us
  • Spiritual dryness that comes when God tests us to see if we will still walk with Him by faith, even when there is nothing within or without to support us
  • Losing sight of our priorities -- shifting from serving the Lord to protecting our self-interests
With such a frightening list of adversities, what chance do we have to run our race and victoriously cross the finish line as the Apostle Paul did?

I have served the Lord full-time for the past 40 years. From my own life and experience I can tell you this: The godliest Christian leaders I have met, the most challenging sermons I have heard and the best books I have read on evangelism and discipleship have not been enough to help me survive in the race!

Only one thing has kept me in the ministry and following Christ -- and that is learning and practicing what the apostle Paul wrote in Hebrews 12:1-2:

"Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking only unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith."

The secret of our survival is fixing our eyes on Jesus and making Him alone our focus. Then our walk with God and our commitment to serve Him will no longer depend on whether or not people treat us right or circumstance are in our favor. We will no longer rely on our emotions to support us or on our successes to keep us going. Jesus alone will become our goal and motivation -- our prize -- and we will live for Him, run our race for Him and cross the finish line for Him.
My dear friend, unless you learn to fix your eyes on Jesus alone, you will have no stability in your walk with God or in your service to Him.

Jesus Himself said, "Follow Me."

Therefore, meditate on Him, consider Him and think about Him so that you may not grow weary in your heart. The answer to enduring until the end is not self-effort or rational attempt to figure out the answers, but to stop and look into His eyes.

If we do this, we will experience what this song says: "When I look into Your holiness / When I gaze into Your loveliness / When all things that surround become shadows in the light of You / ... I worship You". After all his struggles, Job found the answer he was searching for when he fell on his face and worshiped the Lord.

Today let us decide to fix our eyes on Jesus throughout the race set before us.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

a feast of food and fireworks

last saturday...

after being woken up by a phone call mid-morning, asking for some IT help later in the day, i decided to roll out of bed and meander my way through the rest of the morning. in the end, it became a bit of a rush to shower and eat before dashing out the door to unknown challenges... which were really unknown cos it involved databases, in which i've little knowledge. besides the big DBs like oracle, sybase and informix that i had fleeting involvement with in my IT helpdesk days, i've only ever dabbled with the small fry of MS access.

well, to cut a long story short, after 60+ minutes of playing around with the installation of ppmp which was "not working", i serendipitously stumble upon the problem and it was all good from then on with the program starting properly (though i've since heard that it's playing up in other areas). can i just say that the installation guide was rather sparse... really not enough information to guide even the somewhat IT savvy. or maybe i just need a clue about mid-sized databases! or just select the right database from the drop down list, which was all that it was :$ but how's a guy to know that if the instructions don't tell you what to look for??

anyhoo... time for an ad break. so my friend sandra is staring up her own physio practice, which is why i was helping her out with ppmp... well if you're ever looking for a physio/acupunturist in the south brisbane area, check out holistic physio at 489 stanley st (3844 8202). it's actually inside a hair/beauty salon, so don't get confused. parking is available out back (entry via a driveway off graham st). hopefully the signage will be in place by the time people start rocking up :)

then it was off to meet up with the rest of the clay crew and mosey on over to the semillon and seafood festival which was taking place at portside wharf. this was the first i had heard of, let alone visited, this venue, so it was just a little bit new and exciting. the festival itself was somewhat disappointing, though i don't really have any baseline to compare it against. i don't drink, so was really there for the company and getting out of the house factor, and to try some seafood. that was even more disappointing... i think there were like 5 stalls out of the whole lot selling food. of these, 1 had nothing to do with seafood, unless there's something about mushrooms i'm yet to grasp, and 1 was the deep fried variety. the 3 remaining "real" seafood stalls looked rather rich for my blood. now i know seafood ain't the cheapest of foods, but really... at $15 per snack-sized serving, i went for the $9 seafood basket from the deep fryer. even then i was still hungry, and succumbed to ordering a $3 hot dog. yes. hot dog at a seafood and wine fest. the epitome of class. AND the breadroll was crumbly to boot... *sigh*

as the sun started to set, we wandered around the wharf and shops, taking pictures and browsing here and there. then headed back towards town to catch riverfire, the annual fireworks component of the riverfestival. thanks to D, i skipped the crowds below and saw the show from 10 floors up in a riverside office building, while some others decided to catch the action from ground level. i missed both fly-bys of the f111 jets with their afterburners - first time cos i wasn't ready, and second time i was ready but misjudged the height of the flight path. did manage to take some nice pics of the fireworks around the story bridge (though i'm sure the city reach / southbank area had more to see). some turned out a bit blurred... still i'm fairly happy with my handheld effort. here's one a more serious photographer friend took - what a difference a tripod and mega long exposure makes!

btw the streak of light across the top left corner is the trail from the jet.

after the fireworks show we walked to chinatown for dinner at cyber city 2002. this place was quite crowded -- we received a few hints to leave after we finished our food as there were still people waiting for tables around 9:30pm. i don't know if it's always like it here, being my first visit, but i guess if popularity is any measure, it's a half decent joint. one person cautioned that the food here is 'cheap and nasty', but i found it neither cheap nor nasty. we then capped off our time together with a pit stop for some gelati on the walk back to the cars. great way to spend a saturday :)

more photos of the day (from my camera) are available here.

Monday, September 04, 2006

there'll be no turtles here

so steve irwin, mr crocodile hunter, dies at the "hands" of a stingray barb, and the world mourns.

i found out not through the news media (of which i consume very little), but because people on my msn messenger contact list are paying tribute to the man by inserting the icon of a turtle in front of their display names. i saw it earlier tonight and thought little of it, but having just returned to my pc and seeing more turtles on my screen, inquired as to the reason.

i've nothing against (nor for, really) the man himself, and it sounds like a freakish way to depart this mortal coil. and death is never really a joyful thing to contemplate, unless you have the hope of life beyond death, in which case not even death is an altogether bad thing, and if you take (the apostle) paul's perspective on things, it's more than "not bad", but far better.

i reflect not on the man, his life, what he represented and stood for, nor what he meant to others (human and/or animal??), but on this wave (ok, maybe wave is too hyperbolic a word) of response i observe on msn. i opine not on specific individuals who choose to conform (ok, perhaps participate is a less confronting word :p) to the trend, for i cannot judge the motives and thoughts of their hearts behind the typing of "(tu)".

yet i wonder... who thought of starting this trend in the first place, and what does it achieve really? was the turtle chosen because it's the closest default emoticon to a crocodile? it's a dark green/grey coloured reptile...

more importantly, why choose such an arbitrary gesture to denote the payment of tribute? it may be well-meaning, but well... does it really mean anything? or is it another here today, gone tomorrow type of fad, more transient than the life (and death?) to which it's meant to point. does it even point to him, if people don't understand the sign?

the cynic in me thinks there's an opening for some clever marketing and promotions people there somewhere, do with a turtle what has been done with red noses, pink and red ribbons and the like.

but i digress...

in the end, if the death of someone, whether it be your closest friends/family or a celebrity on the other side of the globe, forces you to consider the fleetingness of your own life and the lives of others, then there's potential for good things to come from that. may you find a sure hiding place in the rock of ages, and bring others to him, such that you may all sing:
While I draw this fleeting breath,
when my eyelids close in death,
when I soar through realms unknown,
bow before the judgement throne:
hide me then, my refuge be,
Rock of ages, cleft for me.

Monday, August 28, 2006

BLT images

photos from BLT, posted by
  • iggz
  • js
  • moi (along with a few i pinched from another camera)
i gotta say that i do quite like a few of js' creations. the group photo in my previous post was organised by him, and thus looks half decent -- i was happy to delegate that one to somebody whose interest in photography extends beyond whipping out a compact auto and pressing the shutter button without too much thought on lighting, composition, and all those other things that go into the making of a good shot.

- - - - -

i think one of the most valuable things from something like BLT, is the presence of servant-minded Christians who get alongside the delegates, have meaningful conversations, encourage, spur, and pray with them.

not that i experienced or even noticed much at the time, but that's the impression that i get from talking to other people and seeing some of the pictures afterwards.

great that it happens during the camp, not so great that the greatness is perhaps accentuated because it doesn't happen (much?) every other day of the year (even every other weekend/sunday of the year) at the local church level?

Thursday, August 24, 2006


it hasn't always been the most enjoyable of rides... after being involved in organising the inaugural Brisbane Leadership Training conference in 2004, i opted out in year 2, before being drafted back to do more in 06. i had a few very late nights leading up to the camp held last weekend, and was surprisingly alert for the whole thing - awake enough for tasks, if not necessarily people. speaking of whom, a quick glance through the group photo below finds me looking at lots of faces i don't even recall seeing!

maybe it's a tendency for me to zone out when i'm focussed on something (or perhaps being distracted or otherwise occupied also does the trick), but i think i don't really look at people when i'm "working". i barely remember snippets from the talks and the one seminar/workshop i did manage to attend. while i did meet a few new/unfamiliar faces, i don't think i had a single fruitful conversation with anyone, including old friends. in fact, probably the longest conversation i had with anyone (not counting my visitor) was the security guard, who came into the dining hall to get a cup of coffee while i was clearing up, and we probably chatted for a good 15-20 minutes.

and so the whole weekend was a bit of a blur. i'm glad that it's over, and that initial feedback indicates that most other campers found it a good time of networking and learning. i can only praise God that things didn't fall apart, despite my knowing that a lot of preparation was lacking or done somewhat blindly.

i look forward to doing nothing for a while. it won't happen, of course... but at least that one big thing is over and done with (mostly) for now...

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

recykled material

i suppose i could go and recycle the sort of thing i say/blog about, around about this time of year. but i'm too lazy to start. instead i'll do two things:

1. say that sunday, though not really anything spectacular, was nevertheless nice. i'd say that pretty much anything is enhanced by welcome company :)

2. on a pretty much totally unrelated note, commend the boys and girls from team CCCB who took part in recykle 2006 on saturday, raising funds for the leprosy mission. i went along and watched what looked to be fairly hard (and painful?) work... here's a clip of some of them in action - bear in mind that this is about 10 minutes into a 60 minute riding session, so they all look pumped and rearing to go now ;)

Saturday, August 05, 2006

ronnie - iron chef dessert

i don't consider myself to be someone with much of a sweet tooth, and that generally precludes indulgence in things dessert. but faced with the vast array of tempting treats that ronnie recently served up for his 21st birthday celebrations last sunday night, i just had to try out at least a representative sample of those offered.

yum, yum! full photo album and a short video clip are also up - maybe one day we'll see him dance ;)

i remember first seeing him as the (at one time) youngest person to join our youth group, and playing cricket at the mansfield oval. seeing how he has grown and matured in Christ over the years has been a blessing and encouragement. spoke a bit to his mum and found out that their whole family is now attending church in the one place, which is awesome progress and an answer to much prayers - praise God :) may He be pleased to continue moving in that family, drawing the lost to Himself and building the found for the glory of His name.


Tuesday, August 01, 2006

because it's all very ambiguous

Maybe I'm just growing old;
Losing my mind and getting bald.
Maybe it's a growing fear
Of never ever getting there.
Where is it I am to go?
My Lord, my Lord, won't you please show...
In His word He's told the way:
Child follow me, trust and obey.

Saturday, July 29, 2006


there's a guy at work who is allegedly known to "look into" a lot of things, but never getting much of an outcome. one colleague had dubbed him "mirrorman".

i have a tendency to spend a lot of time looking in the mirror. not that i look in a mirror very frequently (as could relate to vanity issues), for i don't have a mirror in my room, and usually only find myself in front of a mirror when i'm in the bathroom. it's when i need to be here that i can on occasion spend large slabs of time standing in front of my reflection... reflecting. i don't know that the reflecting takes me anywhere.

tonight, while and after staring at the man in the mirror, this came into my mind:
Unable to fight
I sink
Slowly I'm pulled by

Perhaps unwilling
in truth
What is wrong with me
I ask

That I do not know
It's all in my mind

The words, they don't come


Thursday, July 27, 2006

it may be winter but this ain't no sonata

recently a friend recommended the popular korean tv series 'winter sonata' for me to watch. the last asian tv drama series i watched was over a decade ago. the only thing i really remember was watching the vhs tape on 2x play and skim reading the subtitles, wanting to finish the whole lot but couldn't be bothered waiting with the slow pacing of the drama itself to unfold.

and i've seen plenty of bad/over-acting in asian tv, from the bits and pieces glimpsed in various visits to the region. so i was a bit hesitant about whether i would like this particular series. however, given my penchant for the odd romantic drama, i proceeded to do a bit of research into getting hold of a copy.

taken somewhat aback by the high cost of new units selling on yesasia, i turned to the global marketplace that is ebay, hoping for cheaper alternatives. what i found were very cheap options (though still probably more than what i'd like to pay for something i'm not sure i'll enjoy). anyways, long story short, i picked up on a listing from a seller, and even though i suspected it to be a fake from the start i thought i'd try to ask the seller about the item and see what sort of response i get. i've posted a transcript/screen cap trail of our exchange, along with some of my accompanying thoughts.

i like how s/he tries to turn the tables on me towards the end... i almost get the feeling that they were saying that if i want to play in the sandpit of ebay, i should put up with so called less safe products from china, or not play at all. and don't cause trouble for those who want to profit from trading in such products.

there are those who probably don't care that a product is pirated, and buy anyway. then there are those who are the too ignorant to know the fake from the real. but what really gets me is those who think they're getting an original, find out after the fact that it's an illegitimate copy, and still give the seller positive feedback! makes a mockery of ebay's ratings/feedback system, which was probably a good idea at the time but is of considerably less use and value than it could be. maybe they're all just too scared of getting negative feedback themselves, as tends to happen when you stand up to a pirate -- funny how there's a trend i see among those accused of piracy turning the blame back on the victim. and who's going to help you or take up the fight against these profiteers? ebay? daryl kerrigan would tell you you're dreaming!

and i will borrow from wiser heads than mine and say forewarned is forearmed, and caveat emptor. looks like i'll be holding off on any long forays into soppy melodramas for the moment...

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related sites:
related posts (on ebay/piracy):

Saturday, July 22, 2006

oiav? someone's got this back to front...

was browsing ebay for hdd enclosures when i came across this unit, with a logo which upon first glance was strangely familiar yet disturbingly not:

after a closer look, all i can say is that vaio it ain't, and "it's a sony" it ain't neither!

ok. now that this amusing little distraction has gotten all (and perhaps more than) the attention it's worth... can all the pretenders puh-lease get out of my way so i can focus on checking out those with a bit of quality and class about them?

Thursday, July 20, 2006

sorry dr. spin, i'd like a second opinion please

so we (as in my workplace) took home some prizes in the recent ATA state awards. personally i couldn't really care less, other than the fact that it meant even fewer people on the phones taking calls (because they were busy putting up decorations and preparing for the judges site visit etc) when we are already understaffed. which just means more calls for the rest of us... joy.

what i really found amusing was this quote which appeared in a recent internal newsletter. it comes from a senior person from our site, who reportedly said the following in relation to our wins:
the excitement is palpable and the entire centre is ecstatic to the point where they haven't even noticed that there is a peak workload - they're just attacking it with renewed energy.
that's funny. maybe i'm blind (or just cynical :p) but i noticed no palpable excitement of any kind from a centre level, nor was/is there any ecstacy or renewed energy.

the peak workload? that i do see. i'm just glad that i've been put on temporary "higher duties" which takes me off the phones, and i'm hoping to ride this wave for as long as it lasts.

it's a very different looking hive depending on whether you speak to the queen bee or the worker bee...

Saturday, July 15, 2006

i'll do it myself, thanks!

a few months ago...
dad asks about getting a replacement vibrating alert gizmo for his mobile phone, as his phone doens't have a vibrate feature and he misses calls due to the nature of his work. i gave him one of these devices a while back, but he's misplaced it, and asked if i had another one. i give him my old vibrating battery instead.

younger sis passes her old optus pre-paid mobile to mum. it's still locked to the optus network.

a few days ago...
dad asks for the return of his original battery, cos the vibrating battery is playing up. dad also asks about using newer phone from younger sister. problem: his sim card is on the vodafone network... the phone won't take a non-optus card. well how about i take this phone (since i'm still with optus) and dad you take my old phone... unlocked and ready to roll. but... i'll still need sister's old phone unlocked for any overseas travel and local prepaid sims... hmm... back to the drawing board.

enquire with younger sis about history of phone. eligible to be unlocked for free, but she no longer has prepaid sim card and cannot recall the number. nevermind, i'm sure optus can help... after all, phone is almost 2 years old and well past unlocking fee period.

ring optus after midnight, wait 5+ minutes, CSR claims cannot help as original owner of the phone is no longer with optus. hang on i say, phone is locked to optus, bought ~2years ago, can't you look up the imei and arrange for unlocking? further questions to try to clarify the situation results in CSR saying sorry cannot help anymore good night. no no no don't you hang up on me i say... the nerve... but click went the phone regardless.

lodge complaint via optus website about appalling lack of customer service -- accuracy of information notwithstanding, getting hung up on while i'm in the middle of trying to clarify is just plain bad service. back on the phone, different CSR, better service but still not the result i'm looking for.

plan b. search on ebay for phone unlocking service/info... could be an option... DIY for ~$10 or less... hmm...

but let's ask google? google says have you met my friend unlockme? no i haven't, but i'm glad for the introduction... and such a promising referral! download software to try, but wait, there's more! how about an online solution? oh yes thanks, unlock nokia free indeed... worked like a charm :) all for about 60 seconds of effort in typing in the phone imei and model, clicking a button and entering the resulting code in the phone. and all $free too.

if it's really that easy to do it myself, why do the corporate biggies make things so hard for the unsuspecting?

moral of the story? if you need a phone unlocked, don't waste your time ringing a call centre to wait in queues in the middle of the night only to speak to operators who can't / won't help (or even explain why), just google it!

and you could have been in bed that much earlier... *yawns*

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related posts:
swings and roundabouts - part 2
Optus, you suck!

Thursday, July 06, 2006


one old friend spoke of my presence as a 'stalwart' figure;

one newcomer had me pegged as a "senior", even before we met/talked;

and another newcomer thought i was too young to be having a younger sister in the mid-20s ("how old does that make you?" came the question).

thus went yf camp 2006, which was on the theme of "kingdom come", and hence the increase in usage of the early new testament greeting "maranatha!", an aramaic term meaning "come, lord jesus".

in the back of my mind somewhere i had the idea that last year's camp was supposed to be my last -- after all, it's getting to be a bit of a stretch to be calling me a youth, and i'll have to change the current wording in my "about me" box... so i don't know why i actually registered for this year's camp! partly out of habit, and partly to hear the speaker (bill colyer) again i think. i remember the first time he spoke at yf camp in 2000, and the talks impacted me a lot at the time.

couldn't stay for the full camp this year, and it was a bit different going as a regular camper with no "responsibilities" per se. lots of new faces, both of current yf folk and some of their friends. lots of young people running about during free time while i retreated to the dorms and caught some sleep. all of which contributed to a greater feeling of disconnection, which is not necessarily a bad/negative thing. anyways, i don't know where i'm going with these thoughts, so i'll show some pictures :p

more media:

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related posts: encouraged from reflections

Saturday, June 24, 2006

urban truths - watch your wheel nuts

this is the sort of email which i would immediately flag as being an urban legend, except that this time it's a first hand account of someone i actually know, as opposed to a friend of a friend... even that "disclaimer" sounds like how many of these type of emails start, but i guess i can't force anyone to accept my credibility... anyways, here goes (actual names and places have been edited by me):

Hi all

Just letting you know of what has happened yesterday, after [meeting], as I don't want what happened to me to happen to any of you.

What happened was that my car had made a strange bumpy & rattling noise from the left side as I drove off from [church], after [meeting] finished. The car had not previously made that noise. Thinking that the noise may have been caused by something stuck underneath the left side of the car, I drove back to the church & asked the [people] still there (S, Y) if they had a torch I could borrow to check under my car. I also had thought maybe there was something wrong with my tyres, as they looked a little bit underinflated in the dark. It was then suggested that I get to a fuel station & pump in more air. This I did, & off I went to the Caltex station [nearby].

Under the bright lights at Caltex, as I set about pumping one of the tyres, I saw what the problem was, & I was rather alarmed. The tyres were fine, they were not flat by any means. But some wheel nuts were missing! All up, 4 wheel nuts were gone! (2 from left front, 2 from left back - the wheel nuts on the right side were still there). My thoughts were that someone had tampered with or loosened those wheel nuts, & they had fallen off after I drove off from [church]. With the missing wheel nuts, the wheels were not as secure, & was most probably the cause of the noise. Because it was unsafe to drive my car like that, I got the car towed home. More alarming developments was that this morning, it was discovered that pretty much ALL (or almost all) the remaining wheel nuts on my car were also loose!! Obviously, not as loose as the 4 which did come off yesterday....

Now, I don't know exactly where or when the wheel nuts were tampered with - it could have been last Sunday at the bbq at [GP] (I parked the car well away from [GP]), or it could have been last nite during [meeting] (the car was parked in a very dark spot). But anyway, I think it's rather disturbing that there could be someone out there who's so twisted & cruel as to do something like this - it's very dangerous as accidents can easily happen. This shouldn't be happening to anyone, & I absolutely do not want it to happen to any of you or anyone else.

That's why I'm sending this email out to you all, as some sort of a warning to be careful & be wary in case you experience something similar when you next drive off your car. Maybe it's an idea to check your wheel nuts & make sure they are not loose next time before you drive off - I certainly will from hereon in. I just thank God that nothing serious happened to me & that S & Y were still at church when I drove back.

can't imagine how the majority of a car's wheel nuts could come loose under normal driving conditions, and to think that there are people out there conjuring up this sort of tampering, whether as a malicious act or some form of misguided practical joke... it's all a bit sad, really.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

new nibbles

i got sent some free nuts, courtesy of a nut company (morish nuts) which i joined as a member some 2.5 years ago. i had almost forgotten about it until i saw their name/logo on the package which came in the post today. i had been chosen as one of their monthly hamper winners, and so i get to try some of their goods

aren't freebies nice? :) even better when they're unexpected, hehe. alas, while i don't mind my nuts (cashew, macadamia and pistachio being some of my more favoured varieties), i don't feel particularly motivated to spend money on these "gourmet" ones (even the plain ones aren't that cheap...), but feel free to keep sending me samples :D

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related posts: it's official - i'm a nutter!

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

the dreary and the idolatrous

it rained lots while i was in singapore, i think unseasonally so. made for sometimes cooling, and sometimes extra humid weather.

it's been raining in brisbane too, apparently. today was a wet and drizzly day... dark, and cold.

spent most of yesterday sleeping and lazily unpacking (read: most of the stuff has been moved out of the suitcase and onto the surrounding floor) and deleting lots of emails. the spam is getting out of control... maybe it's time to adopt a new email address. what a pain.

got a few hours off the phone this morning to sort through my work email... lots of deleting there too, but also lots that i should read/catch up on, and not enough time. and i got moved, which is another pain. but i should get used to it...

thankfully it was a relatively easy, if not somewhat boring and really-wish-i-was-home-in-bed first day back. lots of changes going on... but i guess those of us at the bottom of the food chain just keep plugging along until the carpet beneath our feet gets changed. the only interesting bit of "news" was a non-official entry in a weekly bulletin - the daughter of one of my colleagues has made it through the first round of the next series of australian idol. apparently she has a good voice... there's a short video clip of her being interviewed (and singing), but it's not enough for me to conclude whether it'll carry her through. not that i watch the show... but this might be an excuse to tune in next time :p

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

a love story not worth pursuing

no i'm not talking about my own life ;) but a movie i watched yesterday. it was a case of fronting up at the cinema, and trying to pick out something to see. of the few options which were deemed watchable, 'love story' was the shortest wait by a few hours. i had figured that it's been some time since i watched a chinese movie, and since i'm in a country where access to such films in the cinema is more readily available, why not take advantage of the opportunity? even when i was informed that it is a local production (which i did not initially realise), i was still hopeful for something passable in the form of a mildly entertaining or touching romantic drama.

how wrong i was.

from the opening sequence to the closing credits, i was lost. and frustrated. so much so that i could not be bothered trying to figure out what was going on in the screen in front me, and at one stage i almost fell asleep -- a rarity in my cinematic outings, overnight movie marathons not withstanding. i really can't even be bothered trying to explain why this movie sucked so much, other than to say "arty farty" (which is so not me), and to quote from the review linked above:
Unfortunately, Tong [director]’s own lofty ambitions in his script, punches a large dent in this curious and often erratic film. His insistence and overuse of highly derivative, metaphysical and experimental story-telling techniques leave much to be accomplished. The plot meanders too much midway and it starts to become a chore just to keep up with the writer’s own extremities in dealing with the abstract boundaries of fact and fiction. It becomes arrogant in its self-consciousness and is devoid of a personality.
yeah. don't bother man. the closing statement speaks thus: A brave and exciting new direction for local cinema, but becomes too much of an effort even for the most willing. i really don't know whether i would use words like brave and exciting if this is the direction in which local cinema here is headed... but i can certainly attest to the "too much of an effort" for this rather unwilling viewer.

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speaking of unwilling viewing and falling asleep, i caught 'perhaps love' on the flight over here. well, caught some of it at least. i had heard about this movie when it was showing on the screens at a local eatery back home. this place (coffee square) is a place i tend to avoid, because it feels too honkie for this non-chinese speaking chinese person. i almost feel some sort of reverse discrimination whenever i'm there. the place does not have an english-friendly feel (possibly different if you are/look non-chinese), and i only went this time to follow the crowd, which included two honkies :p

they stuffed up my order (my theory being that the waiter's english wasn't up to scratch and thought i meant "portugese" when i actually said "mexican"), which meant i had to wait extra long for my food. anyways js gave a brief synopsis of the movie as we waited, and so i saw a few scenes and had enough familiarity to be able to recognise it when i saw it in the inflight movies lineup.

another arty offering with bigger budget and more famous actors. didn't have as much trouble following the plot (which was still somewhat confusing), though it certainly didn't help that the small screen meant rather hard to read subtitles. i tried with this one... but tiredness got the better of me and i gave up halfway in, opting to try for some sleep instead.

didn't manage much success with that either, and i'm slowly trying to catch up this week. oh it's nice to be able to sleep in!

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

travelling crocs

i've been wearing my crocs more and more since i first got them about half a year ago, more recently they've become my footwear of choice for the office (i love being able to dress casually for work!). they draw comments from the odd passer-by, with some who have seen them before, and many who haven't. some of my friends thought the shoes were funny, but i think the novelty factor has now worn off. someone in the lift asked me about them, saying that they looked really comfortable. a few other people have asked about them, wanting to know where they could get a pair. i should become the australian ambassador for crocs. spreading the word about a product that you personally use and genuinely endorse -- that should be the way for all salespeople, no?

one troubling thing i've found is that as the winter season approaches, i seem to be a lot more static-y when i'm wearing my crocs. they're made of neither rubber nor plastic, but something the manufacturers have termed proprietary closed cell resin (PCCR). i don't know what this means, but in practice it does appear to have rather good (electrical) insulation properties. so much so that i'm getting zapped multiple times a day.

no such problems in singapore, where i'm planning to put said crocs into much use. they're a lot more widespread here, and seen in their full spectrum of available colours. i've even seen some fake crocs... though i really shouldn't be surprised that a good and successful idea should be copied...

having caught all of about 1 hour of sleep during my overnight flight, i'm still battling weariness on top of my usual and chronic lack of sleep. but i'm enjoying the break from work and life as i know it, feeling the relative freedom of going with the flow and not having too much planned. not to mention the plentiful and cheap food :D having said that, it's always a struggle for me to choose when confronted with so many options at your typical hawker centre. sigh... spoilt for choice, and dunno what is good. been snapping away a bit these last few days - selection of photos below:

unfortunately picasa does some undesirable things with cropping in the collaging process, so some of the photos are missing bits... can't really complain about a free product and a collage function that takes but a few mouse clicks though! anyways will post pics in full aspect ratio online sometime down the track. for now, it's time to head out again :)

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related posts: yes virginia, i do speak english

Monday, May 22, 2006

clay getaway weekend

spent the weekend out of town with some the clay folks on our first ever getaway. destination: noosa avalon cottages. princejay and i navigated our way there with the help of his GPS receiver and PDA, which i had a bit of fun playing with... it was my first real experience with GPS ware so i took a video clip from our journey just for the heck of it. we ended up off the map.

yup, it was farm land country. complete with the dark darkness of night you never get with the ambient suburban lighting of urban landscapes, cow patties dotting the fields like a heavily mined warzone, the crisp smell of cool rural air and some of the accompanying fauna. a bit out of the comfort zone for some, but we all survived with liberal doses of bottled juices (not everyone was keen to drink the tap water), catered food (thanks to our volunteer cooks), music and song (some pre-recorded, some from our own voiceboxes), bible study, review/discussion on the immediate future of the group, games of chess, cards and cranium, and general bonding/hanging out time. [photo album | slideshow]

(been mucking around with, where above album is hosted... might start using it more now that there are no more limits :) site seems to be a bit on the slow side at times though... )

anyways we capped off the weekend with a visit to the sunshine coast chinese christian church, where we sang a song, prayed for them, and shared in a late lunch of curry and rice which chatting to some of the local folk. then it was off to the beach - i don't know whose idea it was to go in the first place but when we got there we just ended up sitting around a table huddling in the cold breeze, with not one person setting foot on the beach itself... (sand on the footpath doesn't count!) so after a while of getting cold we turned to head back home.

most of us met for dinner again, deciding on "shanghai cuisine" when the original choice (a nearby taiwanese joint called "7-8" which i've not yet tried) was full. it's been years since i last ate at shanghai cuisine, and i was glad for the reacquaintance. we ordered the 8-person set meal consisting mostly of a selection of dumpling type foods cooked in various way, plus a dish of veges which some of the girls had been craving (our weekend diet was not high in greens content :p) all for a rather satisfying $9 per head.

much better than the $10+ i paid for lunch the sunday prior when i waited over half an hour for my "com xa xiu" (simple dish of steam rice, char siew pork and some cabbage which would only take 2 minutes to cook/put together on a plate) at the viet hoa chinese and vietnamese joint in west end. verdict = two thumbs down - one for the wait/poor service (most of our table had to wait quite some time for their food too), and two for the lack of value/stinginess -- the dish tasted quite bland, as there was hardly anything with which to flavour the rice. so i had to steal some of the fish sauce from people who had ordered a broken rice dish (a vietnamese staple of mine which i should probably learn to stick to), but even then they were only given a measly looking bowl full (don't even want to call it a bowl cos it's that small) to share between them. same deal (about sharing a smaller portion than what you'd get individually at most other places) with the bean sprouts and veg for those who ordered the noodle soups.

i know which place i'll be going back to in future!

Sunday, May 14, 2006

the housesitting hours

i'm more than halfway through my current housesitting stint. am enjoying
  1. the solitude
    not that it's hugely different to when i'm at home, but it's still not quite the same when you have a whole house to yourself :) don't know that i'd want this as the norm for a life, but in short doses it's good. i do somewhat regret not being able to share/make use of some of this time with friends... a few years ago when i housesat another place i took advantage of the opportunity to host a casual dinner party for some friends, and that was a really good evening and time well spent. but i've not been able to replicate that effort the last few stints - is it just bad timing, or the all-pervasive clout of busyness? oh for some spontaneity...

  2. foxtel
    i've never really desired subscription tv for myself, but i tend to be interested to see what's on whenver i come across it in other people's homes. this time it took me all of about 5 minutes to come to the conclusion that there's really nothing good on. the main reason i may consider subscription tv is for the movies, but they're not part of the package at this place, so i'm limiting myself to viewing

    • NBA on ESPN
      it's conference semi-finals time. the games don't seem to be quite as exciting as i remember them to be (but it's been many a moon since i last watched NBA, and i'm sure those memories are hazy at best :p), but this is a one off thing so a peek or two will satisfy me.

    • Whose Line Is It Anyway (US version) on the comedy channel
      speaking of spontaneity, these guys are masters of the game where as they say, everything's made up! some of the material can get a bit beyond PG, but in general i'm just amazed at the creativity and quick-witted improv by these performers, especially when it comes to the singing segments. some good and genuine belly laughs to be had here, and it's a rare treat so i'm lapping this baby up while i have the chance :)

  3. haruki murakami
    i'm actually listening to the haunting sounds of the background music from the site as i blog away. no idea what tune it is, but it's kinda groovy :) i first came across the name of this japanese author on another blog, but didn't read much into that particularly entry cos it seemed too literarily intense. i did venture into a short story of his a month or so back - one which i found rather strange. then, upon glancing over some of the books in this house, i saw the name again, and so without really knowing much about the author or the book, i decided to set myself the task of finishing norwegian wood before this stint is over. i'm behind on my schedule. come to think of it, the last few times i housesat i've picked up books to read which i probably would otherwise not start on, either because it's something i would never look for, or it would be something i know about but have been too lazy to pursue, even if it means trying to borrow a free copy from the local city council library. when it's right in front of you though, i guess it's a slightly different proposition! (there's also a copy of amy tan's "the bonesetter's daughter" which i had hoped to read too, but that was probably too ambitious an aim... might have to borrow that one... or wait for their next holiday, hehe)
well, enough of this. one thing i've not been able to enjoy is getting any more sleep than i usually do. *yawns*... here's to trying to not make the problem worse :)

Saturday, May 06, 2006

ju-on // mayfest

ever since finding out via my parents a few weeks ago, i had been wondering how (if indeed i would need) to field queries on this. maybe nobody would really care, if indeed anyone would even notice. but i couldn't avoid the inevitable, such as this from a friend of mine:

fom: hey are you going tomorrow?
me: nah i wasn't invited.
fom: really?
me: yeah. the rest of my family was, but not me.
fom: wow she really knows how to carry a grudge...

well i don't know if he's right in labelling it a grudge, but it's definitely something and i know when i'm snubbed. oh well, nothing to lose sleep over.

so instead, i slept in. then went to get lunch from mayfest. it seemed a lot bigger this year, but that may be because previously i had never really ventured beyond the food stalls. i was actually a bit worried when they weren't where they in their usual spots... so i wandered a bit more and found them (along with lots of other happenings) on the oval. after surveying the food offerings, i walked around a bit more to see the rest of the attractions and took a few snaps before returning to satisfy my original purpose for coming - makan!

besides the roti canai guy who i know and who i've come to expect to see at mayfest, i was surprised to see some other familiar faces at the stalls. the line for roti was quite long and slow, so i bought some satays ($1.50 each!) to keep me company while i queued.

even then the wait was longer than i bargained for... good thing i had time and a vitamin D quota to fill :p a couple who were behind me gave up and walked off at about the halfway (betweeen end of queue where we joined and the point of ordering) mark. but i don't think they knew what they weren't getting - i wonder if people were willing to wait that long because they valued what they knew they would get at the end, or maybe they just wanted to see what the fuss was. either way, it was a well patronised stall. didn't stop the masses from grumbling though - about the sun, the wait, and the seeming inefficiency of the production line...

didn't hear any gripes about the prices, which i thought were a bit steep. but it's not often you get freshly cooked (to order) roti canai in these parts, so i shelled out $11 for one serve of "the works" and one of roti with egg and curry. while waiting for my order to be served an elderly gent came alongside me and asked what the food was, as he had never seen anything like it. maybe i shoud have asked for a discount for the free promotion i gave :p don't know if he queued up later to buy any though. anyway, i couldn't wait to get these babies home and tuck into them... they left my stomach and taste buds quite satisfied :)

Friday, May 05, 2006

steven curtis chapman concert

they kept saying how it's been 18 years since he last came to brisbane, and that hopefully the next time won't be another 18 years. i didn't know who he was 18 years ago... but in the past few years i've become somewhat acquainted with the music of steven curtis chapman, and last night i went to see him live in concert.

i took a video too, but the sound turned out pretty bad cos i think the mic got overloaded by the loudness of the music and the pumping bass with enough kick to make your whole body feel the movement of air. of the two albums of his that i own, one's all about love and the other has a fair few slower songs, so i had kinda forgotten that i actually don't generally like SCC's music all that much, mostly because his style is rockier than where my preferences lie. i only started listening to more of his songs after looking closer at some of the lyrics and finding them to be helpful, and they're the drawing card for me to keep listening. i suppose that's the way it should be; as one speaker at church once commented in relation to the controversy over Cliff Richard's "The Millenium Prayer" (setting the words of the Lord's Prayer to the tune of Auld Lang Syne) -- there is no sacred music, only sacred words.

anyways, the concert was an average-ish experience for me, partly due to the loudness/rock factor, and partly due to my only being familiar with a selection of his work. i did appreciate his giving of background on some of the songs, and sharing from his life. there was a fairly extended segment on the whole adoption thing which his family has increasingly supported in the last few years. i first found out about this while reading the liner notes on the all about love album, and think that what he and his family have been doing and championing is just such a great thing to do, and for very biblical reasons. check out shaohannah's hope for more info.

as the above pictures bear witness, the view wasn't the best when people were standing (which was for probably half the concert). perhaps it would have been a more memorable experience (and better photos taken) if i had stayed longer after the concert. i didn't leave immediately, as some people did, so i did get to see the encore. but i missed out on the chance to get CDs autographed and photos taken with the man himself. it actually never crossed my mind that such an opportunity would exist, but a friend of mine who stayed longer than i did just that. oh well... not that i'm much of an autograph hunter and celebrity chaser... but maybe next time -- he promised it won't take another 18 years!

Monday, May 01, 2006

and on labour day thou shalt play

i don't really know much about the origins of labour day - i'm just happy that it's a public holiday which means i don't need to go to work, i can sleep in, and i can play :) i guess it's fitting that labour day celebrates (in part?) the move towards less work, which you could say leaves more time for play :p

although i've lived in australia for most of my life, there are a few games/activities which i only first tried when i've travelled outside of australia. one example is (tenpin) bowling - there are a number of bowling centres around town, but i didn't bowl a single ball in australia until i had first bowled a few games in taiwan, singapore and malaysia (and i think that was all during the one holiday). since then i've played a few games in australia, and my aim is always just to break triple figures - something i don't manage all the time...

another example is the board game risk, which i've only played once in singapore last december. it was quite an unexpected thing as i'd dropped in on a group of strangers and they were about to start a game so i joined in. dropped in on another group of people today (not strangers this time) and they were about to start a game of risk too, so i played my second game. this time i managed to win, hehe... with a fair amount of luck on my side i might add :p

for dinner, we walked out of a japanese joint cos the food we wanted to order was going to take 40 minutes (probably should have asked before we sat down), and settled on coffee square. i've been here a few times and never really felt comfortable there cos the joint does not feel very english friendly - maybe it's ok for the non-chinese who eat there, but as a chinese person who doesn't speak cantonese in this honkie establishment, i feel a lack of welcome and service. tonight they got my order wrong, which meant waiting an extra 20 mins for the right dish to be brought out, by which time my friends were either fully or mostly through their meals. at least it tasted pretty nice, and was filling.

then it was back to the house... js had brought his ps2 and i happened to ask if there was anything easier to play (he was playing some dragonball game in between his turns at risk, and i pretty much stopped playing computer/video games when they got beyond having 2 or 3 buttons to control :p). this was when i had my first experience with the eye toy! we fired up eye toy: play and we had quite some fun waving our arms about and generally getting a bit of a work out - so there was some amount of labour involved after all! ;)

Saturday, April 22, 2006

the hitching of the shtes

the shtes got married today, and it was an occasion for which several ex-brisbanites returned from sydney to join the celebrations.

as always you get the question from people who didn't attend, asking "how was the wedding?" i don't know if i've just been wedding-ed out or what but sadly all i can really say these days is "it was nice". i mean, what else is there to say about a wedding... any wedding? there would probably have to be something significantly good (or bad for that matter... something memorable in any case) happen for me to say anything different. perhaps i was distracted by the things with which i was helping, for i found that most of was said during the ceremony sunk in. don't get me wrong, it was a nice ceremony, and from what i overheard some other people commenting, it was a very gospel-focused event (what was said on stage, songs that were sung, words contained in the program etc). and i think in the end that's probably one of the best things you can say about a wedding, for our earthly marriages are but a shadow of the relationship between Christ and his bride, the church. there's simply no better place to start (and to stay) than the gospel :)

oh... before the old memory totally deserts me... the serenade/song dedication performed after the wedding was a very special touch :D (i had to look at the collage i uploaded to be reminded that it took place :p)

i really should have gone home and rested between the ceremony and reception, but ended up playing a bit of cricket in the nets with benji and the maharaja. and boy did i feel the soreness in the days to come... haven't used those bowling and batting muscles for a looooong time!

had a bit more to do at the reception, and encountered a few technical difficulties but the show eventually went on no thanks in part to my own stupidity. ah well... 'twas a good day and i trust a happy start to the rest of their lives together :)

Friday, April 21, 2006

a million and out

in the 5+ months since embarking on the 10000 steps challenge, i have pretty much worn a pedometer every waking moment of my life. i have on the odd occasion dropped it, or forgotten to wear it for short periods, but for the most part it has lived either on my belt/pants or sat somewhere nearby while i slept or showered etc.

though i rarely managed 10000 steps per day (wasn't really trying that hard), i had been keeping a record of my daily counts on the 10000 steps website, and my last entry pushed my total past the million mark, which means i get to claim my reward - a shirt that says i'm a millionaire!

then tonight, like the "six and out" rule in backyard cricket, i promptly managed to lose my pedometer. i wasn't intending to continue past a million anyway (and was waiting to get my free shirt :p), but neither did i wish to be forced out of the game like this...

update 29/04 - it's been found! but i don't think i'll bother working my way towards a cap or a badge.

Monday, April 17, 2006

whiling away a weekend

saturday - SWANS on the coast

slept in after a late night, ate a quick breakfast, bid farewell to my sis and bro-in-law, and headed out to spend the rest of the day hanging with the SWANS crew as we prepared to bid farewell to SN, who's moving to sydney and a new job there. after some delays (does a group outing ever depart on time??) we made our way to the gold coast and ate a late lunch of fish and chips at pete's (not sure of the full/actual name... it's just past versace hotel on seaworld drive at the spit). then it was off to wander around at pacific fair where i got bored and was glad to find a wireless connection to check mail and do some reading while the others browsed clothes, perfumes etc. finally we ended up at the beach where we threw around a frisbee in failing light and marvelled at the rising moon, which promptly had us all scurrying to whip out our digital cameras.

while the others stayed on the beach, i ran to find a stable platform (the railing on the stairs leading from the street to the beach served nicely) from where i played with some shutter time and iso settings. when i rejoined the others and they saw my results, i shared some basic photography tips on capturing nightscapes (and rising moons :p), which sent them into a fresh round of snapping...

then it was more frisbeeing and trying to avoid getting decapitated in the dimness, before deciding that we were all hungry and needed to eat. out comes the entertainment book, more deliberation and then driving around trying to find the place... and a carpark. we made it in the end to what was supposed to be the river grill, but our dining experience looks a bit different to what the website describes. anyway, i ate fish for the second time that day. i usually don't order fish for dinner cos i don't think it is sufficiently filling as a meal in itself, but i didn't feel like steak, and i always order chicken... so i picked the snapper fillet for a change (i think it was snapper... but that's from someone whose vocabulary for fish goes about as far as "fish") with cranberry sauce and asparagus.

it was a bit tough, but maybe that's the way it's meant to be - my lack of knowledge about fish extends to how it should be cooked and the differing textures of different fish. i ended up ripping up the meat, cutting the asparagus into shorter strips, and mixing the whole thing in the sauce. someone asked if i was doing a stir fry impersonation; i said i'm just trying to get a good, even distribution of the sauce (and to use it all up). i guess i don't handle knife and fork dining very well :p give me chopsticks... or hands ;) the sauce was quite nice, and while there was enough on the plate for me to not feel hungry, i reckon a 50% increase on the porition size wouldn't have gone astray.

more photography followed after dinner, and more tips and lessons. then we made a short detour to cavill mall in search for gelati, which turned into ice cream. waffle cones are the best :)

back in brisbane, we stood around for a while, saying goodbye and ending the night with a prayer for the departing SWANSter.

sunday - how do i describe this silliness?

it started out innocently enough... the plan following post-church lunch was to go back to shte2's new place (moved into the week before) and watch footage from sisters night 2005. this expanded into watching some marimba ponies pieces and a few clips by wong fu productions.

then i was invited to stay for dinner, and while brysie and dook went shopping, and shte2 showed me some tommy emmanuel performances and instructional videos (impressive stuff!), algae, valley and the manchurian candidate amused themselves for (what seems to be) hours on end shooting videos of themselves play-acting in a world involving singing and chop-socky kung fu action. i only saw a few minutes of this weirdness (wonder what the neighbours thought!) before heading back indoors and hanging out in the kitchen where dinnner was being prepared. brysie's "taiwanese spaghetti bolognese" and dook's "whatever condiments could be found" chicken went down very nicely indeed... i wanted to go for seconds but was already full from my first serving :p

alas, the silliness continued after dinner. growing bored from watching the re-made "the ten commandments", the camera-loving people decided to take photos of themselves using the custom timer setting... after draining brysie's battery, my camera got seconded to the snapping duties.

i'm a bit particular about what i shoot, and reclaimed by camera after two sets which i thought was sufficient... but it was not to be. so i sacrificed my battery for the good(??) of the group and brysie's camera kept flashing away... if you think the above photos are silly, i think there must be close to 100 more on brysie's camera!

so much so much youthful energy struggling to find an outlet... so much posing... so much vanity ;) oh i can't keep up... must be getting old!

Saturday, April 15, 2006

see you next month...

said goodbye to my elder sis earlier today, for the 4th time in 8 months. didn't really get to catch up much, not that we do that very often anyway, but i'll be seeing her again in may on my next overseas trip. that's a fair bit of seeing for someone who lives overseas now.

anyways, this was her first visit back 'home' since getting married, and this particular trip also included an entourage of immediate family (the in-laws) for part of the time. it was a good opportunity for the two families (hers being a bit more extended than his, since we have a fair number of relatives living locally) to gather over food, and a buffet dinner was held in a nearby hotel.

i failed to avoid the "when is your turn" question from an auntie who i don't even really know! so i felt a bit of "who are you to be asking me this??" (with an emphasis on the "who the heck are you??" :p okok i *did* say it was an extended family affair right? anyways, i'm pretty sure she's my dad's cousin from his mum's side), but restrained myself and muttered something non-committal and tried to smile/laugh it off.

well thankfully that was the only one... and i spent most of the rest of the night glued to my seat amongst the younger single cousins and second cousins of mine, with whom i shared a table. i think pretty much everyone enjoyed the evening for the chance to meet the visitors and catch up with other family members while enjoying a meal together.

- - - - -

a week later we took them to this restaurant to which dad had recently been introduced by a guy from church - two seasons cuisine (双季林) in west end. it's an asian restaurant but has a very western feel. the food is quite nice and rather filling - i'm not sure if this is their standard serving size, cos dad apparently just asked the owner chef (michael lam) to prepare whatever is good, so we didn't even see a menu that night. i thought we were getting a special meal but on the bill it just said "banquet b". so anyways we had individual entrees followed by rice and 10 dishes to share between the 9 adults and 1 child. lots of leftovers ensued.

every dish was very tasty, and mostly hot :p the duck curry was a little bit too hot for me, but still quite morish. will definitely keep this place in mind for a subsequent visit :)

- - - - -

and i can look forward to lots of tasty treats by the time i next see my sis, hehe. not that life (or the purpose of the trip) is all about food, of course... but i won't be forgoing the opportunity to sample flavours and textures common to the locale mmm yum yum yum, hehe :D

Friday, April 14, 2006

just stop doggin' me around

i get lots of emails. i used to correspond a lot on email, ie write personal letters to people. these days it's mostly junk and other legitimate mass mail. the personal ones seem to be few and far between. i'm partly to blame, because sometimes i take a long time to reply, and sometimes i don't get around to replying, so the exchange breaks down.

i used to be online pretty much the whole day (when at work and at home), so it didn't seem to be too much effort dealing with incoming mail all the time. now that i have no internet access at work, all the mail accumulates during the day and hits me when i come home to check. i realise this is probably the experience of most people, so i should shut up.

anyways, i'm trying to cut down... unsubscribing to various mailing lists and newsletters - things i don't really need to know or stay on top of... things i don't feel i have much time to deal with.

but there are still 2 types of emails from which i can't simply unsubscribe.

#1 is spam. i detest spam, and those who propagate it. i use spamcop to report most spam that i receive, because it gives me a sense of being a conscientious john netizen. i don't know whether any good actually comes out of it - there are too many dumb people and people who don't care in the online community for the spammers (the smart ones anyway) to always have the upper hand in this fight. i seem to be getting a lot more spam lately, and it's just plain annoying. i've refined the art of spamcopping my spam mails down to a precision operation, like a well-oiled pit lane crew. but it's still a manual operation and sometimes seems to be a waste of time and effort.

#2 is mail identity confusion. i don't know what else to call it... this is when people send me mail thinking i'm someone else. as far as i can tell the mails are legitimate (not spam), just very much misdirected. my gmail account seems to be a magnet for these. it's an address i've had for years by the way, so i don't know why all of a sudden it seems so popular... i don't know if people are unable to remember their email addresses and giving out my address, or the people they're telling it to aren't recording it properly... i've received emails from:
  • some random guy thinking i was his friend and emailling me from his newly created gmail account
  • some other random gmail user calling me "sweetheart" and wanting to keep in touch using google talk (and this on top of the frequent requests from total strangers wanting to be my google talk pals)
  • the "all india travel agency" sending me the itinerary of a couple's return flight from chennai to melbourne via singapore
  • some indian guy thinking i'm "sohail", and responding to a "Business proposal for main dealership in hyderabad"
  • a hotel in thailand confirming a booking reservation
  • youtube - apparently i've signed up as a 26 year old female in australia who goes by the nick "winafish"
  • a hong kong woman forwarding what seems to be a work-related email to a personal address (probably meant to be her own address)
  • yahoo japan - apparently i've... actually i have no idea what i'm supposed to have done... probabaly signed up for a new account. but since i can't actually read japanese... who knows!
i feel like singing along with michael jackson and to plead "leave me alone"! but that's probably about as useful as banging my head against a brick wall.

update 20/4 - ecard notification from LI SAI HO SHADOW of American International Assurance Company (Bermuda) Limited to TAM WING YAN WINNIE