Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Project Runway

I was hooked to this reality TV show, called Project Runway, in US. It's a reality TV show about designing clothes. I found out that it is also shown in Astro.. in Discovery Travel and Living, every Thursday at 10pm! Check it out. It's as addictive as Amazing Race.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Gong Xi Gong Xi

Gong Xi Fa Chai to everybody.
I am back, safe and sound.

I wish all my reader a very happy and joyous new year. Happiness is key. Prosperity is just a bonus ;)

Oh... people said I have lose weight! Face not so fat anymore. In fact, very good looking now. LOL. I lost 3kg and am now 69kg.

Anti Ringgit.. are you jealous??? :P

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

White Shirt

It breaks my heart to see my white shirt stained by dirty water. A few years ago, this happens to my shirts. I always thought that it was due to the 10 year old washing machine we had when we were in Sinar but I alway suspect it is the bad water quality we had in Malaysia. Since then, I never buy white shirts. That's why you see me wearing blue a lot. I can't trust the washing machine nor the water we had.

I remember one time, when I came back from Hong Kong, ZipD, Miss Peace, his sister, Bahija, Anti Ringgit and I went for a movie in GSC Mid Valley. Someone commented why my T Shirt was not as white as ZipD's sister's. And that T-Shirt was a new one I bought from Hong Kong ie less than a week old.

When we moved to the new house, we bought a new, state of the art, wash machine. My faith returned. I bought two nice stripped shirts from G2000. In less than 3 months, both turned yellow. I know that it's not the wash machine now. My mother said she hand wash shirts so it cannot be the machine. It must be the murky water we have! Can you imagine drinking this water everyday - water that stains your white clothes.

Anyway, I was doing my laundry and ironing yesterday night and I realize I bought two shirt in USA that is light in colour. Oh no... I bet these will get stained. I guess I won't be wearing them in MY.

Seriously, it sucks.

Do you guys have any tips? Do you get stains in your white clothes/t-shirts? How do you clean your shirts? Washine machine? Hand wash? And if handwash.. did you soak the shirt for a long time? Perhaps I should not soak it. Perhaps soaking is what's staining it. HELP!

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Ice

This morning was really cold. As I walked to my car, I was surprised to see a thin layer of ice on my windshield, roof, trunk and door. It must have been so cold that the rain (or maybe, the morning dew) frooze! As I drove to work, the landscape that I was used to, have changed slightly. Instead of brown dead grasses across the vast fields, I saw brown dead grasses with a layer of ice. There were patches of ice every where and I could almost see individual leave of grass covered with ice (bump mapping effect, per pixel shading, in 3d talk - or something like that.. ha ha..) The sun was up as I was driving and the ice in the fields started to melt and there's water vapors rising lazyly up into the sky. It's beautiful. On one hand, I see bright morning sun and on the other side, I see a calm, icy fields filled with a surreal-kinda-fog. I sure wish my camera is working so I could capture this scene. Absolutely beautiful..

Monday, January 23, 2006

Counter Dry-ness

I need to write this down so as a reminder.

Anti Ringgit taught me a few tricks on fighting dryness in the room. You see, one of the bad thing about cold country is that the weather is very dry. It's so dry that I have to put on moisturizer after I bathe. Some areas which I forgot, for example, the thighs, became so dry there's spot on it.. and the texture feels like fish skins. So here are the tips:
1. Don't bathe with extreme hot or extreme cold water
2. End a not-so-hot-bathe with cool water to close the pores - this will also allow your body to quickly adjust to the cooler room temperature so you don't catch a cold
3. Put on moisturizer before you bathe
4. Use Dove bath foam coz it has 1/3 moisturizer content
5. Fill the bath tub with hot, steamy water and leave the bathroom door open - the humidity will flow into the room
6. Place a bowl of water by the bedside
7. If you have a kitchenette, like I do, BOIL a pot of water and let it steam (I only realized this two days ago! Alamak)

There you have it. Valuable tips.

Spam

Today I decided to fix myself a spamburger. Spam is a famous food in America, made famous during the war because spam was shipped to the marines in huge quantities. In Asia, it is known as luncheon meat ("em chang yok"). I fixed myself a spam-sandwich plus Cintan mee noodle (yes, I brought 1 dozen of em with me). I wanted to see what's the fuss about Spam. Well, I am sad to say that it's nothing compared to the luncheon meat we have at home. This spam is just too salty for my taste. It's like eating a chunk of salt. If it's less salty, it'd almost taste like luncheon meat. Almost. Nothing beats the "em chang yok" at home. Because it is so salty, it covered the taste of my Cintan noodle. What a waste of good noodle. And what a waste of $4 for that stupid can of Spam.

Coming Home and Colombian Dinner

3 more business days and I will be going home. Anne asked me if I miss Dallas. I told her that I will miss the place and the weather but nothing beats coming home and being able to see her. However, as the days come closer, I could feel that I will miss Dallas. It may be a boring place but it has many nice people and a great weather. Work in I-kei in Dallas was enjoyable too. Bonnie asked me why I am more hardworking when I am in USA nd I told her that it's because I was more motivated - perhaps because I work with a bunch of new people who are very self motivated and energetic. Or maybe it's the environment. I don't know. I can feel the same old depression coming up again. I get this feeling everytime I fly back to MY.

Maybe I should not go back.. Ha ha..

Last Friday, my team threw me a party. We went to a colleague's restaurant. She's from Colombia and her family has a restaurany that served Colombian food. It was great. They have Spanish live band and tango sessions. I had Bandeja Paisa, a very traditional Colombian food that has rice, red beans, pork skin (it's actually burnt "siew yok"), slice of beef steak and "pisang goreng". She said this is real Colombian food and if this is what they eat, I think I can get use to it. Their staple food is rice.. so it is very "Asian". The rice taste a bit salty.. almost like our kai fan rice. I had this drink called Mojito (pronounced Mo-hi-to) - it's from Cuban and it's a cocktail of rum, mint leaves and lime. Very delicious. Slurrp.

Update: recipe for Mojito:
1. cut lime into 5 parts and squeeze it
2. add 2 full tablespoon of white sugar
3. add mint leaves in and stir, then add ice and rum which is about 2 1/2 full shot glasses
4. add club soda to fill it up..

In the next few days I will have to start packing. I have a huge load. I wonder how I will manage to put everything into the small luggage. This will be a test of my packing skills.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Hair Cut

I had to go for a hair cut so last week I went to Great Clips for a haircut. The hair cut cost $13 and I *had* to give a $2 tip. My hair was simply too long and by the time I reach KL, all the salon would have closed and I don't want to go through New Year with an ugly hair.

Anyway, the stylist was a lady from Laos. She had this license hanging on the mirror, like all things in America, you need a license for everything. The first thing she asked me was what number I want to use. Huh? I don't get you, lady. She pointed to a collection of "comb thingy" and said that I have to choose a number so she can fit it into the shaver and shave my hair. Er.. I have no idea, I told her. The stylist in Malaysia just use what he/she sees fit. So she suggested number 3 for me. I said ok. Turned out number 3 is a just right, thankfully. I found out later that number 1 would be a almost botak choice while number 4 is almost like not cutting at all. So 3 is good. It's just weird that you have to choose a number.

The way she cut my hair was very systematic, almots robotic like. I wonder if it was the class she went through to get her license. Not the professional we are used to at home which proves yet again, that labour cost in USA is very expensive. This lady is probably not the pro. The pro cuts for Hollywood actress I guess.. ha ha..

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

This Just Came In...

I was watching TV and there was this advertisement on a new Honda Accord 2006 model. It cost US$20K. Zero downpayment and just US$199 per month to own one.

$199 to own a Accord!
$199!
Can you imagine?!

It boggles the mind. A fresh grad in US can own a Accord and he probably didn't have to work his ass off. Flipping burger at McDonald's probably can get you an Accord as well.

$199

And people in Malaysia are paying RM1600 per month for 7 years to own one.
And only people who has worked 10 years or more of their lives .. SOHAI... I say...

I am SO DISGUSTED!

Brokeback Mountain

I saw this Ang Lee's movie last Saturday. It was disturbing and yet there's a "kelian"-ness to it. I have mixed feelings about the show and I would recommend it to people to see it. Just don't waste your money on George Clooney's Syriana, though.

Yesterday, Brokeback won Best Drama Movie, Best Director, Best Screenplay and Best Song in the Golden Globes.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Shit Happens

After 3 years of faithful service, from the spring in Dallas, to the heat of Egyptian summer, my Canon v3 decided to die - and what a way to die - in the winter of Dallas. I did not drop it at all and yet this morning, it gave me crappy pictures. It's puzzling. How can something so sturdy just died like that?

Someone had the same problem as I did and he did a good job at describing the problem.

I hope it's not going to cost me a bomb to fix it.

Did some research.. seems to be a known phenomenom and Canon may fix it for free. I will keep my fingers crossed! Damn...

Walk

Just right after breakfast this morning, I took a walk in the vicinity of the hotel. Weather was kind. It's a pleasant 15'C. I found this lake just down the block and sat at a bench there watching the duck swimming, with the nano keeping me company. There were people walking their dogs and a couple cycling and one nice lady jogging. It just reminds me how important weather really is. You don't see people doing these in KL.. well, at least not in a relaxing way. When I walk Harry, I just want to get it done fast, because it was so humid and I was sweating. Here, in Dallas, during winter, you just want to relax with the wind in your face, enjoying the serenity, knowing you are safe.

The other day I had a discussion with an Indian colleague. I told her that people in Dallas are nice. They greet you, they smile, they say hello, how you doing? When they drive, they stopped and let the pedestrian cross the street. They open door for you even in a public mall. I asked if it's the same in other cities. She said no.. cities like LA and NYC and even San Fran were not like that. People are rude over there and they are always in a hurry. This is not strange to me, as I grow up in Asia and everybody is rushing. But Dallas is also one of the biggest cities in USA and yet, she's does not succumb to the pitfalls of typical metropolitan. I believe and this is my opinion, that it is because Dallas is in Texas and Texas has huge lands. So, they have a lot of space. Malls, shops, restaurants, residence and industrial areas are all evenly located and not cramped into specific area. You don't see a huge crowd in one mall. Abundance of parking spaces. Less traffic, relatively.

When there are far fewer people scattered across a huge piece of land, humans tend to treat other human beings nicer. Compare Hong Kong and KL. Same concept. More ugly people in HK compared to KL.

Another observation I made about America is that while you know you are in America, you don't feel like a foreigner in America. For example, people understand when I speak to them. I don't find myself having to repeat what I said. They are used to foreign accent. In comparison, when I was in Melbourne, I find myself having a harder time understanding Aussie accent and them, understanding Malaysian accent. In addition, you can feel that the acceptance of a foriegner here is far better than anywhere else.

So, I guess you are right, mystic_grey :)

Denny's

The picture on the left was taken back in 2003 when we left Las Vegas, going on our way to San Diego. It's supposed to be the world's tallest thermometer. Anyway, this post is not about thermometer. This post is about a restaurant called Denny's.

Food in USA cannot be compared to food in Malaysia. It's not even different. Food in Korea is different. Food in USA is just plain dull.

The only salvation is the buffalo wings in Denny's. Rotitelur and I discovered the buffalo wings in the Denny's just a block from the thermometer 3 years ago. She would beg to differ and said that we had Denny's in Grand Canyon but I don't remember having buffalo wings in Grand Canyon.

The wings are superb. It's better than any barbeque wings in KL, period. If you have a chance, try Denny's buffalo wings to-go. You will not regret it. I had it two times already, since I was here. I'm going to eat one more time next week before I leave.

I guess, there's hope for USA.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Signs of a greaaat girlfriend..

Anne told me that she's visiting my parents tomorrow. She said that since I have been away, she has not seen them and she thinks that she should go visit them. Wow... Isn't she great?

(I know that this thought will never occur to me if she were the one overseas and I am in KL)..

On another note, I was working my ass off here in Dallas. I worked 1o to 12 hour a day, everyday. I am so exhausted that I do not have the energy to blog. All I want is to lie down on the bed, rest my head and leg and listen to my music. In this sense, the nano was a relieve.

Anyway, 2 more weeks to go back home. I have mixed feelings. I think of the humidity and the sweating I will get in KL and I just don't want to go back. Of course, on the other hand, I want to go back to Anne and my family and friends...

Thursday, January 05, 2006

iPod nano

I'm happy with my nano. The packaging and box were beautiful. Everything in that box was well thought out and designed. One good examples are the plastic covers for the USB cable. Both end of the cable has a cover to protect them. That's pretty common but on this particular USB cover, there was two additional "tooth" on the cover. This tooth was used to catch on the cables so, basically, it's a nice way to get the cables together.

The CD looked really nice. The cables and headphones and CDs are packaged in this suede-like paper plastic, unlike the usual clear plastic we get with our PC and this made the product felt more classy. Buying an Apple is not like buying any other products. The consumer experience was different because of all the thought put into the packaging - the looks, the design and the feel.

The nano was wrapped in a hard, see-through package that was designed to protect the nano. It sits inside the box and the plastic has a sort of ribbon coming out of it so I could just grabbed the ribbon and pulled the nano out of the box instead of turning the box upside down and hope that it will fall out. It's a nice thought.

The nano was really "impossibly small". And it's so nice to touch. I plugged it into my ThinkPad and iTunes automatically launched. I noticed that Windows recognizes the iPod as a hard disk drive too (you know how the balloon will pop up from the system tray?) Anyway, a wizard was launched after iTunes started. The wizard asked me for my iPod's name. Then it asked me if I wanted to add photos and if I did, which subdirectory from My Pictures I wanted to include (it was a check box dialog). Then it asked if I wanted to automatically include all music which I said No. I was presented with a list of my current Smart Playlist or Playlist which I could choose to sync. I chose my "Rated" Smart Playlist. There are 1.5GB in there so once I clicked Finish, the music was transferred. Transferring was fast. I believe it took 10 minutes or so. It's USB 2.0 so it's the same transfer speed of a typical USB 2.0. I didn't keep track.

Anyway, after transferring I could not play it yet because it was charging at that time. The first charge needed 3 hours, according to the manual. In the iPod, I see a "Do not disconnect". I asked AR and he said he didn't get this. He could play while he was charging. I suspected that that was because he has a Dock since he bought an iPod. The nano did not come with a Dock. It's just a cable. And if I use the cable, I cannot play songs. Grr..

Anyway, I am considering the Dock. The Dock would be more useful to me because there was a line out from the Dock to the stereo and of course a power point so I could dock the nano in my room and listen to all my collection from my Sony stereo.

3 hours later and it's charged! I clicked eject in iTunes. iPod is ejected and I took it out. I plugged in the white ear buds... and the first thing I did was click on Shuffle cause I wanted to see what's the first song that the nano chose to play.

It played Hallehujah by Rufus Wainwright. This song is from the Shrek OST album. Is it an appropriate title? I don't know.. anyway... the sound quality was amazing! It was really good. Listening to the few songs after that while sipping tea in the room brought back memories of the old time when I was playing my favourite cassette using the Sony Walkman. There's something strange about being able to bring YOUR music on the go. This is one feeling I never expected when I thought about buying the nano.

I don't have to say much about the usability of the nano. That's well know. It's so simple and it's so easy that it really amazes you why no other company could think of it except Apple.

Overall.. very nice experience, from opening the box to listening to the first tune by Rufus Wainwright voice.

Oh, BTW, the nano shows song names in Chinese character too ;)

Oh.. there are some mini games in the nano. One of the coolest, imo, is the Music Quiz game. When you played that game, it will randomly choose a song, played it somewhere in between and give you 5 choices. You have to quickly click on the right song name. That will give you score. That's a refreshing game!

IT'S HERE!!!



Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Breakfast

I am currently staying in Homewood Suites by Hilton. While I am satisfied with the room and the environment, I totally hate the breakfast selections. In fact, there was no selection. Everyday I see the same type of food. Seriously, I don't know how I can "tahan" the next 4 weeks. In my previous trip to Dallas, I stayed in Residence Inn by Marriott. The breakfast is as bad but at least every day is different. Marriott changed their breakfast everyday and repeat every week. So this Monday and next Monday's food will be the same.

Hilton, in comparison, repeat every two days. So, Monday, I may get scramble eggs and bacon. Tuesday I'll get scramble eggs and sausage. Wed - eggs and bacon, Thu - eggs and sausage. Oh my goodness!!! How to eat for 6 weeks? Granted there are other "standard" stuff that are available everyday but these are crap - the standard stuff are cereals, breads, muffins. WHERE IS THE VARIETY?

I am going to write a complain letter.. I mean, suites like this are meant for long stay. If you can't change your breakfast menu, I am sure you will lose your customer.

My company will compensate me additional $8 per day if breakfast is not provided by the hotel. Unfortunately, I can't claim that now, can I? Celaka!

New Year

One good thing about keeping a blog is that I could look back in time and see what happened:

I started the blog with a comic relief from PVP and I said I wanted an ipod mini. Now I am waiting for the nano to arrive. The MBS gang had our annual CNY gathering. Debbie Gibson posed nude and I still don't have the Playboy issue. Tai Lo's brother wedded. My sister wedded. I had my usual crisis with Bonnie. We had haze, a terrible one too. I went to Alpha class. I helped Monica move. I was busy with work and my career looks good. I went for a business trip to Korea and am now in USA. Played lots of games and completed some really good ones.

Of course, the most important event of 2005 is that I met Anne and my life changed.

Lots of good memories for 2005.

And I do look forward to 2006.

Overall, yeah.. a good year :D

Sunday, January 01, 2006

China

Here's the funny thing. I am using FedEx to track my package and guess where it is originating from? China! I mean, this is free shipping, right? If they have to ship from China via FedEx, wouldn't that be expensive? Sometimes I wonder how things work here...

It's an individual package. Imagine if 100 people bought the gadget at the same time I did. Wouldn't there be 100 packages shipped from China?

Economy is bad?

Have you noticed that it is very difficult to get home improvement work done these days? My roofing (pergola, to be exact) had some problem ...