In another moment down went Alice after it, never once considering how in the world she was to get out again.

Friday, December 30, 2005

Family

Wow. I've been spending a LOT of time with family lately.

Tomorrow I'll be following my parents up to KL, along with Kakak, our maid. Normally kakak is with me and my brother in KL to cook and run the household chores - she's been with the family for maybe 16 years. We pay her reaonsably and give her free food and lodging while she's here - Mum calculates that if she saved up all that money including bonuses she's have kept maybe RM50 to 80 thousand, depending on how frugal she is.

She has RM3 thousand left in the bank. No, she hasn't been spending the money on herself much.

She's coming up to KL in fact to go back to Indonesia for her adopted daughter's wedding, where the remaining RM3000 is going to be used up to the last cent. Or Rupiah. RM2000 alone goes to the hired tent and rented (yes, rented) plates and cutlery (which no doubt are overpriced and hired from some Chinese merchant). To say nothing about chickens and the money that the relatives will be begging for while she's there for whatever reasons.

Pretty much al her money went to relatives and friends back there. Normally when she's coming back she tries to hide it from her relatives. Otherwise they come in a big hired bus and have a kenduri along the way. Guess who foot's the bill? To say nothing about the royal send off she gets when she leaves again involving much loss of money.








I think rabbits would make better relatives. No lying, no cheating, no squeezing of hard earned money - just watch for their rabbity smell though


They claim that her husband, who she hates, is dead. Again. Last time it was because he was hanged for murder, which turned out to be a lie. Now her relatives say he's been murdered - a relative claims that she saw the body cut into pieces. Another lie of course - an unnecessarily detailed one. Told so kakak wouldn't be afraid to come back. Previously, he's taken in her daughter to live with him in an attempt to somehow force kakak to give him money.

Kakak has nowhere else to return to. She can't stay in Malaysia unless she marries, but her current boyfriend refuses to divorce his unfaithful wife who's the sister to a Datuk (it's a title) of high standing in Melaka. Probably doesn't want to actually *marry* an Indonesian maid at that. Nevermind that his wife already has children with another man.

With friends, relatives and lovers like these, who needs enemies? Kind of makes my own problems seem pretty small, really.

(The rabbit pic? A rabbity pic is long overdue- don't ask me about the significance of this one. ;) )

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

No remedy and Narnia

Again, for those who don't follow Malaysian papers:

Courtesy of the star: No remedy

This one's really bad people. Really bad. I didn't know this one's been going on until I looked over Papa's shoulder this morning. Papa says the battle's been going on for years.

The story goes like this: Kaliammal's husband passed away in the armed forces. When she goes to collect the body, the people there stop her and declare he had converted to Islam and is to be buried a Muslim. Furthermore, all his property is going to the Syariah. She had no idea.

And now:

Judge: She is not a Muslim and cannot go to a Syariah Court. When she goes to a civil court, the respondents there will say that the case cannot be tried in a civil court. So, she has no remedy?

Nasir: Yes. She has no remedy.

Okay, this part is just sick. Where's our Agung, aka head of Islam when we need him? Can't somebody with half a heart intervene? They wish to enforce the law that one must convert to Islam if their spouse converts, but don't they see how despicable they make themselves out to be? I don't think they actually care any more what the non-Muslim population thinks of them.

The High Court will deliver its decision today. Let's see what the papers say tomorrow.

-----

Watched Narnia with my family today. Did I mention I loved the book? I didn't like LOTR the movie much in spite of being very familiar and appreciative of the fantasy theme that the orignial novel spawned. But the movie...hmmm. Didn't like it.

I loved Narnia! I have no complaints whatsoever about the way the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe was potrayed in this version. Wonderful! As expected it was filled with cute and fuzzy wuzzy cuddly animals, which already makes my day. And the lack of unnecessary violent scenes also made my day in spite of the implied violence. (Unlike, say a movie of a certain arachnid person from Marvel)

Spoiler warning! Those who haven't watched the movie yet, turn back now or hold your peace.
.
.
.
.


Though I must say the most memorial scene for me was just after Aslan pouncing the White Queen before chomping her face off. I can even give them speech based on their facial expressions.

White Queen: Oh. It's you. Hi.
Aslan: Hello old friend.
White Queen: ...I'm screwed, aren't I?
Aslan: Royally. *chomp*

But better yet the potrayal of the characters was absolutley spot on, from Edmund, the Queen, Tumnus, the Beavers, even Aslan. And I can tell you, Aslan is a very very hard character to potray since he's supposed to represent Jesus Christ.

For those who weren't aware, C.S. Lewis, a great Christain writer, wrote the Narnia series with a view to potray the story of Christ in a different light. Well, somehow it became that way. I try to put out of my mind the fact that Aslan coming back to life after sacrificing himself for Edmund was supposed to represent Jesus's sacrifice on the cross. As a matter of fact, later in the series, Aslan tells the children that he exists in their world, but by another name - and they must call him by that name while in their own world.

I don't care. I can't wait for the other movies in the series.

----

Papa's quite happy. :) Mission accomplished!

Ate ikan bakar at Umbai(barbequed fish). Not bad.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Christmas for you

"Christmas isn't Christmas,
til it happens in your heart.
Somewhere deep inside you
is where Christmas really starts.
So give your heart to Jesus,
you'll discover when you do;
That it's Christmas,
really Christmas for you."

I used to sing that song when I was carolling. That's one of the things we used to believe since Christmas is about the birth of our Lord and King, Jesus - so many of God's promises fulfilled in one night. The commercialisation of Christmas used to grate on me quite a lot during the days I was a Christian as it took attention away from my Lord who was born on this day. This is a big thing.

Unfortunately, even now, my decision to respect another religion doesn't allow me to see Christmas as a commercial celebration but rather as a religious festival. Religious celebration. Oh, you get the idea. Don't you?
Most people avoid trying to emphathize if to do so would mean to consider that they may be doing something wrong.

Nevermind about that. Anyway, what I *can* enjoy about Christmas with good consciounce is the in the act of giving and fellowship with family. =)

Lately I've been going through my diary - written in the days I was still a believer, of course. I'm not sure why I did that - it's like asking for depression to come to you. So trusting, naive, committed, sheltered, sincere. I had no idea what I was in for. How could I? How could I know that the desires I was repressing was *real*, and I was one of those 'queers', something taboo that's supposed to happen to other people who were 'crazy'? That one day a perceptive yet deceitful jerk would take advantage of these repressed desires and his actions would send me into a spiral of self loathing and guilt?

I've been told quite a few times that it's possible to remain a Christian and gay at the same time. No, not for everyone. To even accept oneself can already be a battle that last literarily for years. It did for me. Between faith and acceptance, I chose faith over and again. But in spite of prayers and repentance, it didn't go away. Anger borne from frustration won the battle in the end, but on the other side.

I'm glad Christmas is over.

-------

How come my family doesn't believe in giving presents? I have some idea...but I'd rather not say. Sorry! Anyway, I did most of the handing out of prezzies.

-------

I joked with my friend that I'll get him shoes since his broke and he can't go to gym. Come Christmas, I decide to extend that joke further and get him *socks*. 4 pairs. I leave the message, "Well, I couldn't get you shoes so these are the next best thing." Considered drawing a smiley face in the note, but that would have been excessive.

Here's the sms I get from him.

Friend: Thanx for your Xmas gift! Very thoughtful

Huh? But...but...it was meant to be a joke. ^.^;;

Friday, December 23, 2005

Bad Bill

For those who don't receive Malaysian papers, look here
Women senators unhappy about Bill that hits women's rights

and here:

There's hope for ammendment... after the Bill is passed. Riiiight.


Quote: "On Wednesday, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz had threatened to invoke the Whip on 19 Barisan Nasional women senators should they vote against the Bill. "

Someone from the Prime Minister's department again? Good grief! Abdullah, what type of people are you hiring?
First Noh, now this Nazri fellow.







This is a job for bunny assasains! As soon as Noh or Nazri pass by, this 'statue' will come to life and remove them from the gene pool. *chomp*

And what's up with the whole 'vote for this Bill or you're fired' thing? The point of a democracy is to for the people to freely vote for what the believe is right. This sounds like a monarchy more than anything.

I don't think this Bill is a sign that women's rights has become worse.

This Bill is probably came about because women started fighting for their rights - the men didn't need things like this to fortify their power over women a few generations ago. This is an attempt by 'kolot' chauvinists who want to keep that power and retrive of what power they had lost. A resistance against change for good. So in a way this Bill shows that women's rights are improving slowly - but even more slowly with nonsense like this getting passed through the legal system.

------

Muuhhhh, I can't see my chatterbox thingy.
:( *pokie pokie*

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Strangers and Anusol

A series of messages I got from a stranger in axcset one night:

guy: hello do u have msn??

moi: As a matter of fact I do. Although I'm not always on. Still, if there's someone worth talking to I'm willing to log in more often. :)

guy: can u give me ur contact num i got somethings wanna discuss with u

moi: Wah, you want my contact number so soon? Something specific or just chat? Either is fine, actually...If you're serious, why don't you take the initiative by giving your contact number first? I'll call you then you'll have my number from the clip. :)

guy: y dun u just give me ur num want me wait u ...i got urgent things need u to help me k u said u will call me one ah so call me when u c my num 016xxxxxx


Say what?









Oookay. I do ring him up a little later, but no reply so I give him a missed call and send an sms identifing myself and saying I tried to call. Next day he rings and immediately asks me to call him back. How thoughtful. Turns out he wants a room mate and fast - but it also turns out I'm not a candidate once I tell him I'm Melakan. And not looking to room in KL. The guy bitches for awhile about how his friend broke his promise to room with him, and I find myself a little too flabbergasted with him to put down the phone quickly. Eventually I excuse myself.

I'm a wee bit suspicious about the whole thing. Who in their right mind contacts people they don't know to room with them? He doesn't even know if the person is *looking* for a room? Whatever happened to looking for Ads in colleges?

Maybe having Woggles sitting on my shoulder in my profile pic made me look harmless enough. Or someone who's born yesterday.

-------

I came *this* close to prescribing the fellow Anusol. But I'll give him the benefit of doubt. I'm sure I'll meet someone eventually who could use some of this stuff...


Beling a total @ss? Use Anusol today! Guranteed to take care of your @sshole nature if consumed en masse.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Old house's swimming pool

To cut a long(er) story short, the swimming pool in my old house (the one we lived in before the divorce) was out of commision and in danger of breeding mosquito larvae. After some fishing for advice, the solution was decided to be pouring a liter of kerosine into it. Guess who had to do it?

Took me 4 tries to find a grocer that sold kerosine. Maybe I should have tried a petrol kiosk. Found a really old looking grocer, and hit jackpot. Is RM5 expensive? Eh, whatever. One 100-plus bottle of kerosine, coming up.

Stinked up the car pretty bad. Mmmm, felt like setting something on fire. Silly notion. Fought with the stuck metal gate for 5 minutes before getting in. The whole place was a jungle - the ex- gardener didn't do his job at *all* when he was on the verge of leaving. Didn't feel a thing- sure I had many good childhood memories there, but there were bad ones too. I've moved on from both. So, onward-ho to the pool.



It's greeeen. And full of...





Before pouring the stuff in, I put it down and examined the water. Hmmm, no aedes larvae. How surprising. Before I could look around some more I spotted some movement, so I took a closer look. Too big to be larvae...




This is an example. I couldn't actually catch one to photograph.





Guppy fish! Lots and lots of little guppy fish! Like koi, only smaller and much prettier.

...I didn't really have to pour in kerosine and kill the poor things, did I? So a phone call to grandma was in order.

"Oh, wonderful! Even better than kerosine- Chai (my uncle) wanted to put in longkang fish but we thought the salt and ubat would kill the fish. Guppies will eat up all the mosquito larvae. Do you think they'll live?"

That explains the lack of mosquito larvae. Obviously, my gardener wasn't putting in the salt like we asked and decided to pocket the money. "There are so many of them, even baby ones - I really think so."

"Good! Let them be. Come and have lunch with us..."

And that was that.

So, how on earth did guppies get in my swimming pool? Mum says the eggs came with bird shit. Erm. Well. Oh, who cares! My swimming pool is filled with anti-mozzy, colorful and tiny pretty pretty guppies. Yay!

----

Busy day! Went to get my car knocked and cleaned as well (somebody whacked it while I was parked - I think it was a lorry due to the height and lack of paint scratches) with my uncle in tow. My uncle being my uncle (well, he's not really a relatie just a very close family friend. His wife has known us for 6 generations) brought me to his friends shops where I got great service for *dirt* cheap prices. RM30 for a knock-up job and free polish. Wow!

After that it's a speech on reading and speech in children by some head paedritician at Manipal College. Arrived a little late cos I was in the midst of writing something. How embarrassing.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

A rose by any other name

Stayed up all night til 6am reading 'To Kill a Mockingbird.' Hey, don't look at me like that- the story suddenly got really interesting and I couldn't wait to finish it. I'm not a fast reader either.

I feel so dead but I can not sleep...eeyagh.


What is thing I'm sitting on? I wonder what it's for?





------

I have decided to call my step-father Papa.

Now, a little background info before people start accusing me of being daft or overly dramatic. Not to say I'm not daft or overly dramatic, but ...er, anyway. My mum and step father life in KL. He is a Pastor, and used to be pastor of my church when I was young. Good man, good to my mother, I approved whole heartedly to their marraige knowing that this time around my mum will be treated *right*. On Sundays he drives her down (he insists on driving) to Melaka after the church service so mum can see us until Monday when they have to get back to KL.

Okay, I haven't spoken to my biological father in quite a while. He's a real jerk of the highest order - very unusual man, really. I do hope he isn't abusing his power in his new family, but that's probably hoping for too much. I'll expound on his behavior some other time. Anyway, I don't like him obviously. Father figures don't really mean much to me- I call him by name now rather than 'dad'.

Having said that, I don't see Pastor (that's what I've been calling him since church days) very often. I very much appreciate what he does for my mum, but he's more of my mum's husband than a new father to me and my brother. I and my borther are young men already, not kids who need so *much* guidance. Being accepted in the family is definately an issue, so Pastor threads very carefully when talking to me and my brother, and my grandparents.

I'm not sure I want him to get too comfortable. You see, both my parents know I'm gay. Will he ever become sure enough of his position as father that he'd feel that he needs to advise me on my lifestyle choices? Probably not, but I'm apprehensive.

But yesterday my mum brought up that when mum and Pastor were preparing presents, for my step brother they easily wrote, 'Love, mum + dad'. For my present, he was writing 'Love, mum + ...', then hesitated, holding his pen. What was he supposed to write? Erk.

The man's been left out of the Melaka side of the family long enough. Thing is, me, my brother and my mum are extremely close - Pastor pointed out this was because of what we've been through together. Our bonds are very strong. It's difficult for him to break into our circle as he just doesn't spend enough time with us nor has he been through those rough patches with us all these years. I and my brother have to make a conscious effort to accept him in based on trust.

This Christmas, I'm calling him Papa. In front of my everyone(especially my grandmother, more on that later!). It's as good a present as anything else. :)

Monday, December 19, 2005

Gay behavior

My grandparents are in Melaka instead of Australia this time of year, so mum comes down from KL instead of me going up to see her. We were talking about my mum living with my step brother in KL (who is very slightly delayed, even has a medical diagnosis of why he's slightly slow) who wouldn't do anything around the house and left a mess where ever he went and how my mum was trying to train him.

"I can tell whichever cupboards he's been in all day because he never closes any of them. I just don't understand it," she says, and that's just one of her many complaints.

"Oh, that's a guy thing. I do it too in my own room," I say.

"A guy thing?" she asks, curiosity piqued.

"Yup. Leave the cupboard doors open, leave the toilet seat up, leave the shoes in a mess- very typical. I often don't close my cupboard doors in the morning. But I close the ones in the hall and everywhere else. Just that in my own room I don't really care." ((Er...potential boyfriends, please take note that this will not happen to you when you share a room with me. Eh heh. ^.^;; ))

She's pretty quick to say this: "You know, you're not physiologicaly gay. Only psychologicaly."


I'm straight. Can't you tell from the mess? Mmmm, peanut butter...




I didn't feel like arguing with my mum, so I let her speak uninterrupted while smiling at her. Unspoken are the words, 'Okay, I'm listening. But don't expect me to take what you say as law.'

She gave various examples of how gay men behave (based on what she read, magazine most likely); neat and tidy, liking girl things, and even looking at their fingernails with their fingers straight and palm facing away from oneself. Upon her request, I look at my fingernails and naturally I look at them with my fingers bent and my palm facing my face. As usual. I know what's coming next.

"You see, that's how guys look at their fingernails. Women and gay men look at it like *so*. That's why I say psychological rather than physiological. You don't act gay."

The conversation was a little longer than that, but I think that's enough for this blog entry. Mum changed topic before I could give my points how I disagree with her - but I didn't feel like it anyway. What, I'm going to tell her how 'not-straight' I am? That unlike most of my straight friends I'm not crazy about football, cars, and handphones? (And girls of course, but that goes without saying) Or that she is expecting to see too much stereotypical behaviour in gay men? I swear, whenever I bend my wrists just a little she's quick to point out that I shouldn't be limp wristed ala how a woman would be. Or a sissy.

I like being myself. That's the whole point of going this path actually - I'm gay, and I'm not denying that part of myself. I'm being true to myself. But gay culture? Gay lifestyle? Gay behavior? Please. I'm me- the whole package. Being gay's just a small part of me.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Church Bunnies

It's weird what you can find while looking for pictures of rabbits at church. Observe, the total lack of sensibility and ....taste.

http://www.post-gazette.com/breaking/20040407bunnyp4.asp


That's scarrrryyy....





Do I even need to comment on this one? Naaaaah.

But Christians don't always mess up. Here's where these people do something right! I present to you, The Bunny church!

http://www.bunnyvillage.org.uk/bunnychurch.htm

...I wish. >.< The whole place is named Bunny, that's all. The Bunny village with it's Bunny buildings like the Bunny church and Bunny Hall...bweee! =:3 Still, wouldn't it be ever so quaint to have a whole church of bunny worshipers? Myah!



Ah...the best kind of "worship"...



Why was I looking for rabbity pictures anyway? Well, I go to church nowadays to accompany my grandparents. Yes, a Christian church. The religion that gave me so much heartache. The one I left behind. So I was wondering if there was a bunny pic to depict this... =p

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Holidays and Evangelion

Woohoo! Holidays are here! I brought back some holiday homework (checkliiiiiiists. Gah!), but I get from now til the new year for a break. Hurrah!



Even on holidays one can't escape from work...





------

And what better way to spend the beginning of my holiday than plaster myself on a Neon Genesis Evangelion marathon, my favourite anime? Apart from sex. Or hanging out with friends (who are busy hanging out with girlfriends). Or...oh, let's just move on.

Christian and Jewish images pepper this anime series like a badass bowl of French onion stew. Er, nevermind the analogy, there's basicaly a lot of them, okay? A cross here, a Lance of Longinus here, a cruxifiction there, yadda yadda.

There're meaningless. All of them. Pay no attention to them whatsoever. It's a cheap trick to give the series a more 'divine' feel - as if there is some kind of great truth hidden in it. There isn't - at least nothing religious. Very annoying, really. It's like peppering blogs with images of hunks, or even cute rabbits and soft toys. Heh.

Neon Genesis Evangelion is plagued by poor production- there's a lot of places where animation costs were cut by using still pictures. As a matter of fact, the final two episodes contributed *nothing* to the story and consisted of *all* narative. I liked the last two episodes during my fanboyism day, but let's face it - this was another quickly put-together low budget trick.

And because of the nature of the last two episodes, the series lacks a conclusion. In fact, the conclusion to the series can only be found in the movie. No wrapping up of loose ends, heck even the movie hardly does that.

Yet, in spite of all these flaws, this series shines. It gained a LOT of popularity during its showing and many anime series after that with better production costs tried to copy many aspects of it. But failed. It's just hard to pull of the kind of draw this series has.

So, I've talked about the bad points of one of my favourite anime series. What.'s so good about this series then? I'm not going to cover that.

Wasn't this supposed to be a review? Nah, can't be arsed. The series is good, very good. But I'm a lazzzzzy rabbit. Go watch it yourself if you can find it.
-----

...too many vcds.

@.@


Good little bunnies should be asleep by now. Nai nai!

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Movie vs Book

Ah, movie season. I haven't been watching any recently- not much of a movie-goer, me.

The current fad of remaking popular books is refreshing, yet annoying. Refreshing that the general populace gets to see stuff I like they've never heard of (War of the Worlds for example. Holy cow!). Annoying since the movies never really keep as close to the book as I'd like. My brother's main gripe about the LOTR series is that a certain elf got pumped to godhood levels. "Legolas is supposed to lose the contest to Gimli!" he'd say. Friends tell me to judge the movie for itself. I guess that's a good way of viewing it.

Speaking of which, I did Christmas shopping today. :) Hat for uncle that likes to walk around town, photo holder for newly crowned great-grandfather, yadda yadda. Here's a little Christmas present for a certain blogger who comes here often:









Original comic found below:
http://www.sevenskulls.com/ran_comics.php?comicID=33
http://www.sevenskulls.com/ran_comics.php?comicID=34

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Technical help needed

Okay, my HTML skills are almost non-existent. Those of you who are hosting your blogs pics in http://photos1.blogger.com/blogger/ , please tell me how you do it so I can stop using my personal geocities site or eat other people's bandwith. Thank ye.

Bad Cars, bad tooth

Started the day off with my car refusing to start. Why do weak car batteries set off the car alarm? Anyway, it did. Since it was too early in the morning I had to wait until the mechanics arrived at their shop before they could send one over. All this while while smsing Paul about it and his lack of movie tickets for his night out with Barry. (He refuses to Karaoke instead. Well, at least Barry would have enjoyed it. =P )


Oh, boo.




Once the mechanic arrived (who was NOT hot, Paul. :p ), the car got fixed up pretty fast even including him dropping the spanner into my bonnet. Wow, I didn't realise that the new battery even makes the beep for the door unlocking louder.

Is RM130 too much for a change in battery and service? The guy pretended not to have change when I offered him RM150, only took out his money after waiting awhile for my maid to fish out more change from my brother. Why did he bother? Did he really think I was going to ask him to keep the change?

At work, we're finally done with the inventory! Mostly. After much snarling and attempts to keep the frustration down on everyone's part. So...disorganised. So...aggravating! AGH! Glad that's done with. Mostly.

I need to practise smacking around the punching bag more. Not satisfied with my strikes right now. My brother gets to train boxing with army guys who compete in the SEA games, but I get to punch patheticaly on a gymbag on my lonesome. So I thought of going to gym but I thought better of it and decided to lay off until I was sure my tooth had healed over enough. Didn't see that cute guy I chatted with the other day at the gym anyway...

------
For those of you who dig this sorta stuff, my wisdom tooth!


Ooooh...ahhhh....yucks.





What, you want more?



That's how big a hole I have in my gums, people..




See how it's yellow right down to the roots? Damn.

Next on my to read list: 'To kill a mockingbird'. Eh, can't be as hard as 'Mrs Dalloway'.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Lacking in wisdom (teeth)

Well, that didn't go so badly. Didn't need a surgery this time, only had to do troubled side that was growing wrong so I can still eat with my other. The dentist just poked then tugged out the entire molar with pliers. Heck of a big molar, too. Out it goes, and back I go to coding books at work.

I've never smoked and rarely drink coffee. For as long as I can remember though I've had yellow teeth, even as a child. This molar is yellow right down to the roots - in fact the crown is lighter colored. Probably from my previous attempts to bleach it. Does that mean it's just naturally yellow? Not a candidate for any Colgate adverts, me.

Maybe it's from all that Milo mum was making me drink to make up for not eating enough when I was young. Oh well. I'm just waiting for the pain-killing injection to wear off and this large hole in my gum start to hurt.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Introducing, Woggles and McDuff!

Well, I did promise Woggs that I'd put his picture on the internet. So here he is, Sir Lancelot Woggles!


Warf! Does this photo make my bum look fat?




Woggs was named by my mum- he was supposed to be her birthday present. When he's not dancing to "Listen, do you want to hear a secret?" by the Beatles, he's performing special attacks (Sho-Ryuu-Wog! Wog Fang! Buster Wog!) and asking for more hugs.

And this is Captain Cuddles McDuff, feared pirate and scourge of the seven seas!



Arrrrrr!






*chomp* Warf! Don't just stand there taking photos, get 'im offa-meee!




...actually, it's Captain Cutlass McDuff. But we like to call him Cuddles. When not glugging down inane amounts of beer and chasing 'wenches' (he calls women that, not me. Hey, ever seen a politically correct pirate?), McDuff will be trading special attacks with Woggs. He even helps the family navigate when we need to get someplace special. (but then we always get lost. >.< "McDuff, this is all your fault!" "Arrr...no, no. It ain't true! Arrrr!")

Fact: Woggle's backside is huge. So huge and awe inspiring that conversations and jokes about it can span for months on end. Behold, the hugeness!





...why are you taking a photo of my backside?




Hmmm. Okay, we need some perspective for that to be impressive. McDuff, would you be so kind as to put your head a little closer to Woggle's backside for comparison?





*chomp*

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Let your Yes be yes...

Spent the day keying in info that was stuck in the database. Three quarter ways through keying in the books, but there's still the toys left. Ergh.

In retrospect, I could have started the work on it much sooner - *if* the IT specialist could actually confirm whether she was willing to come over to attempt fixing the database or not. (Yes, for free) But instead of a straight out "No, I don't want to do this brain wracking and time consuming task for charity. Sorry", she only said things along the lines of "I'm too busy right now, maybe later" , "I'll try to make it this week", "I'll be available next month", "I'd really like to help you, but you'll have to wait". Only after Ja explained the situation to the rest of us did I and A tell her that the IT girl IS NOT COMING. Ja probably would have figured it out herself if she didn't so desperately wish that the girl would come and fix the blasted database. That and practise a little more healthy cynism.

Trying to be polite? Trying to not look so bad? Please, be a little more considerate and give a straight answer. It makes a lot of difference - don't keep people waiting or give them false hope! I can't stand it when people do that.

Don't want to help out with this problem? Okay, just let me know so I can find another solution as soon as possible.
Want me to foot the bill this time? Stop fussing for to pay for it then, I can't keep second guessing you!
Did I offend you? Let me know so I can avoid the same mistake, please!
Don't want to meet up anymore? Just tell me straight to my face - keeping me on my bloody toes is much worse!

It's as if letting people know what we really feel is out of the question if it isn't all flowers and honey. Instead of improving relationships we keep our greviences secret and opt to drift apart. How wonderful.

See why I hate culture so much?

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Consultants

We had a visit from a team from Malaysian Care - the organization that helped us set up our center. They came on our invitation to help advise on the new Preparation Class that we weren't handling so well. The Prep Class is actually meant to wean the kids from one-to-one teaching (which we're currently doing) and stress on independent work and classroom skills - thus preparing them for school in either regular classes or special unit. It's much harder than it sounds - as if our regular classes were not challenging enough!





Just a quick note about Malaysian Care while I'm on the subject. Malaysian Care offers many services for the needy, drug abusers, people living with AIDS, and people with special needs. Wong Poh Wan is the 'consultant' (as we like to refer to her) in the field of training special people in Malaysian Care. She has a LOT of experience and is highly qualified academically to boot. She's actually a big name in the Malaysian circle of service providers for children with Learning Delays - so no harm writing it here.

As Poh Wan and her team continued speaking, I realized that I actually already knew what they were advising. I swear, my ears were glowing red from embarrassment. I was nodding in agreement, but cursing myself for a fool at the same time. I realllly should have been able to correct those errors in the program myself - if only I paid attention to those details. Erghhhh. Apart from my own mistakes (argh!) , that partly was because my other colleges took the responsibility of handling those details so I let them handle it as they thought best. I guess trusting in your team is also important, so I shouldn't bash myself about it. I shouldn’t be electing myself as the one correcting everything when we have a whole team to make decisions. But still! Ack!

Poh Wan and her team are good. Very very good. I really appreciated her input and advice and we're definitely MUCH better off now. It's just so...frustrating! I suspect I got a wee bit defensive while they were speaking. Kinda immature on my part. But I was aware that I was acting up so I could hold it down. I hope they didn't notice. >.<

-----

My wisdom teeth have started to bug me. If I were to leave taking them out til later, I might disrupt the classes. But if I remove them now, I'll be unable to eat or talk properly for most of the little holiday I have coming up end of this year. I'd also still be able to work since I'm typing stuff right now- no talking necessary.

I've already scheduled an appointment with the dentist on Monday. So much for a Merry Christmas...*grumble*

Book Review: Spinning Straw

Remember that book I was reading, Spinning Straw? I mentioned earlier that it's a biography of an autistic man with such severe Self Injurious Behaviour (SIB) that he eventually kills himself. That much is true. As my mother and grandmother would ask, "Why on earth would you want to read such a depressive book?"

To call the book depressive would be a very poor description. Sure, it's full of moments where one can only read in horror of the severity of Jeff's condition and the heart is torn for his family who struggles to help him. But the book wasn't asking for pity - it was trying to share how meaningful his life was in spite of his great handicap in life.

His SIB came in 'episodes', suddenly and powerfully and could last for hours, like a demon taking control over his mind and body. But when he was all together, he had an infamously beautiful smile. He was introverted like most people with autism, seeking privacy and secuirty. Yet he made contact with people and communicated in his own little ways. His mother's memories were filled with happy moments when he was most joyful and contented.

I was impressed by services provided by the institutions - no, by the people who worked in these institutions (except for one particular person that the parents felt was not helpful) . They kept trying strategy after strategy, and never gave up. In fact, their efforts really did make a lot of difference in decreasing the SIBs according to the data. Best of all, they remembered to see the person behind the disability, and learned to love that person. Although it must be said that Jeff really sounds lovable when he's not having an 'episode'. Maybe that's the mother's bias speaking through the book, but I believe it.

Makes one think more carefully about the deinstitutionalization movement. Heck, the staff in the institution themselves don't want to institutionalize their patients as far as they can help it. Even Jeff in spite of the severity of his SIB had been repeated attempted to be weened off staying in the institution as his family wanted him back home as far as they could handle it without fainting from exhaustion. But the need for institutions is very real - the staff themselves know that. One of these days I'll cover more about the good rationale behind the deinstitutionalization movement and how it went wrong.

In short, while this book doesn't have a happy 'ending' (it makes no secret in the foreword that Jeff eventually passes away at the age of 28 due to self inflicted injuries), it doesn't need to have one to inspire hope. It's not just the ending that matters, but how one lives their life. Jeff's life was not a 'waste' - far from it. He took what he could in life, whenever he could. And he brought out the best in people, most of all love.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Officework

It's not often I have to do officework in my center. I haven't done all my checklists yet, so it looks like that's coming out of my own personal time. No biggie. Before we start on reinventorising all the toys, we've got to reinventorise the books.

I'm the only one there who can type at an acceptable speed. Guess who's elected to code in everything?

To make matters really hairy, the database with all complete list of all the books already coded is down and out. Whether or not it can be fixed is a mystery - I really wish we knew for certain. It'd make decisions easier to make. The old programme was really powerful and flexible apparently, but it was full of bugs and may crash if you look at it wrongly. Nobody at the center will ever have the expertise to put it right, being an NGO and NPO. What was that saying about looking at gift horses in the mouth? It was a free gift.

I recommended using a simpler, manual system that won't break down and is much easier for the staff to grasp. In other words, just list it all out in Excel. No big program, no big errors, easy fixes when something's keyed in wrongly. Which means all the old entries that is stuck (and possibly irretrievable) needs to be keyed in manualy into an Excel file. More than a thousand entries, yay. Remember who's elected to key in everything?

In the mean time, we been arranging and checking the old books if they're still there and coding the new books. Since we haven't done the inventory for the past two years, it's a real mess. And the fact that we can't put the newly coded items that we just keyed into Excel together with the old entries just yet really gets my goat.

And we haven't even started on the toys yet. Arghhh.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

KL or bust? Bust.

What a horrible day! Oh well, at least it passed quickly. Along with half my weekend, but whatever.

I arrived at the East is Red thingy at around 12.30, hoping to meet up with some friends. Unfortunately there were last minute change in plans on their parts, so I had to go solo. Ack. Why was I expecting that to happen? Okay, no problem I tell myself. I'm here, there's a show with lotsa entertainment, might as well try an enjoy myelf while I'm here. Try as I might though, I couldn't enjoy it. Was it because I was in a bad mood or because it was mostly the announcer saying something like "We're here for the East is Red carnival! We've got a whole of performaces lined up!" over and over, trying to buy time for each act to arrive? Didn't enjoy the acts either. But that might be just me being grumpy.

So I killed time walking around and browsing through books while waiting for friends who may or may not be coming before going home at 5-ish by LRT. Throughout the trip home I was so pooped that I kept imagining that I heard my phone ringing in my trusty satchel. Or wishful thinking, maybe. Fact that they actually played my ringtone in the carnival downstairs didn't help that (What's up with that? The tune is 'Going to Zanarkand' from Final Fantasy X). Went straight to mum's flat, and slept. Hey, I was tired.

At the very least, I got to have a nice chat with my mum. Go through lotsa topics, but among them she tells me that most guys my age are too busy with work, and when they're free they want to hang out with their closest friends or their girl friends. In my case, my work starts and stops at regular hours and doesn't carry over after hours.

I'm lucky in many ways. I have my health, a vocation that I feel is worth doing, a loving family that's tightly knit and some other things I won't mention. I should be happy.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Fanboyism!

Did anyone of you try one of those linkies by the side. I'm quite a regular net hopper, and stuff like this makes my day. :3
Now, click the 'Touched by an Angel' linky.

During the days when I was still a Christian and in a stinking sink hole of depression due to the conflicts, I had found this anime series called Neon Genesis Evangelion. What I liked about it on first glimpse was the potrayal of the main hero (Shinji) as a scared child caught in circumstances he had little control over. Instead of the usual grand heroes we have a terrified 15 year old child.

But what really caught my attention was a certain character named Kaworu Nagisa who only appears in a *single* episode at the end of the series, yet is was very popular. Heck, out of all anime characters in existence he likely has the highest popularity vs screen time ratio of all time. Lol!


Who's the guy sitting on the rock, whistling 'Ode to Joy'?



Enter Kaworu Nagisa, the boy who loves music, particularly classical music. He is first introduced as the new pilot for the giant robots called 'Evas' to fight 'Angels'. 'Angels' are the evil giant monsters for this series, kinda creepy too. He befriends Shinji the protaganist who reaaaallly needs a friend, and at one point he professes his love to him while they're both having a bath.

Unfortunately, Kaworu was an 'Angel'. Only he's a 15 year old child instead of a towering monster. Huh? Yeah, exactly. Nobody (including the viewers) knew until he started floating around and sabotaging the base.


Don't mess with Kaworu. He's the most powerful Angel of the lot.

He nearly achieves his objective (er...complicated to explain what that is), but he finds something he didn't expect and in the end allows himself to be captured by Shinji's giant mecha.


Look at those cute red eyes. You're not reaaaallly gonna squish him, are you Shinji?


-----
Kaworu: I've been destined to live forever, even if
humanity is annihilated as a result.
However, I am able to die.
To be or not to be. It makes no difference to me.
My death is the only absolute liberty.

Shinji: What, What are you talking about?
Kaoru-kun! I don't understand what you're talking about!
Kaoru-kun!

Kaworu: My last words.

Kaworu: Now, please erase me.
Otherwise you will be erased.
The life that escapes the time of annihilation,
and that obtains the future, is only one.
And, you are not the one who must die.
All of you need the future.
Thank you. I am glad to have met you.
-----
And the show pauses there with Kaworu held in the mecha's hand, for two minutes. Two *freaking* minutes. Then Shinji kills him.

Kaworu is Tabris, the Angel of Free Will. He believed that he was destined for something greater and followed that belief to even betray his friend. But in the end he left behind his hopes and beliefs and willingly died for the sake of love. At least, that's the way I saw it.

To me, Kaworu represented my greatest desire at the time - to leave behind my beliefs and convictions that I had given my life to and follow what my heart and mind. It was only equalled by my desire to rid myself of my sinful desires and follow my convictions. It was a very, very terrible struggle. In the end, anger and frustration eventually stranggled my faith to death. I can't say that the scars healed over completely - but they don't have to. I'm getting along quite well I think - we've only one life, and I intend to live it happy to make up for all that shit.

Thank you, Kaworu. I may not be a fanboy anymore, but you helped me in your little own way.

----

Going to KL tomorrow, for sure this time. Hopefully I won't get hopelessly lost. Again.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Shameful, damnit!

Did I ever mention I hate politics? I do. Mostly because I believe just about every politician on every side is a power hungry jerk who couldn't care less about anyone else. But politics is like this inevitable car-crash you just can't help but watch as it happens.

I'm starting to like Abdullah. I still think the whole 'Mr. Clean' image is a load of crock, but he's got the balls to openly reprimand his dep and police heads and let a slew of corrupt ministers get theirs before this. His cronies must be fuming.

Abdullah can't be having good time. First his wife dies, and in order to secure sympathy votes he's gonna have to remain single. Can't even risk having outside women after the Anwar fiasco if he wanted to. To top it off, in the trying to patch up relations with China, he's got his police heads and his own deputy contradicting his statements.

I can just imagine his little talk with Noh. "Didn't you guys hear me the first time around? I said it was shameful. Do you understand what that means? That means we're supposed to hang our heads in shame and promise not to do it again- not offer stupid excuses or worse say, 'Biasalah. Don't like? Pergi baliklah!'. Get with the program!"

And maybe at the back of Noh and the police heads mind is the thought, "Come on, we've been doing this for ages. That's the way our community does things. Foreign prostitute? Demean her by making her do ear squats naked. Bang down our chicken? Call upon the whole kampung to bash the guy up. Someone selling drugs to kampung folk? Keep quiet - my nephew's in it too, you know. You don't *really* expect us to change overnight?"

At least Abdullah has the sense to try and cover up what asses they are, unlike the men under him.

30 years experience

"What was this boy's diagnosis again?" I asked my colleges as we assessed the child. I had been observing him for about half an hour now. The boy can’t speak, but does express himself with some sounds.

"A doctor diagnosed him with autism I think," A replied.

"Hmmm. I don't think so somehow, "I said, watching L, our senior teacher, work with him.

"I also don't think so," L offered in agreement.
---
"Have you heard of autism before?' Ja asked the boy's mother.

"I have heard a little about autism," the mother said. Was that doubt I saw in her eyes?
---
"Did I miss anything?" L asked me, about to close up the assessment.

I pointed to the basket filled with daily items. A comb, a toothbrush, a telephone, a cup, and an apple(food). "Test his receptive language please." Most important part of the assessment, really. L shouldn't miss that, really.

She got right into it, and the boy correctly took each item every time. With a little gesture from L, but he got it.

Hey, pretty good! Didn't expect that. "Good work," I mumble instinctively as the child correctly takes the comb out of L's hands.

To my surprise, the boy turns to me and shows me the comb, positively beaming.

"Yeah! Comb hair!" I say encouragingly with a smile and mimicking the combing action, which he follows and turns back to L. This happens repeatedly.

"Did you see that? Joint attention!" I asked A. But it was more than mere joint attention. This boy was very interested in praise and was very aware of other people around him.

Ja had already started her advice speech for autistic kids that I often hear her say. "...Your son has been diagnosed with autism, so you should read up on autism to better understand it. By understanding a little more, you'll be better equipped..."

But I wave at her to interrupt, "Ja - (he is) not autistic."

Ja looked at me with uncertain eyes. Her first instinct is to trust a doctor's diagnosis, the word of a professional with a degree. "But the doctor..."

I held my gaze, confident. She considered a moment and took a good look at the boy responding to L's assessment. Was it an assessment anymore? L was playing with the guy. "I don't think so," L offered between play.

Ja may not hold a degree, but she's been with us long enough to know what's what. "My teachers don't think your child has autism. What did Doctor No say exactly?"

The mother offered, "He just asked me one or two questions then pronounced my child autistic. Said he's been in the filed for more than 30 years and he knows what he's talking about."

"One or two questions?" Janet shook her head, and started on other, more appropriate advice speeches as if it was obvious the doctor didn’t know what he was talking about.

Later, it turned out that the boy had hearing loss in one ear (which is sure to hamper learning of speech), and lost some of his speech after bouts of high fever. That last statement got my attention, and after some questioning it turns out the boy frequently had high fevers when young. Fitted the bill perfectly - this boy most likely is a little slow due to damage caused by high fevers. Not autism. I highlighted that that point to the mother.

Ja then proceeded to offer advice on what 'cooling' drinks the boy should take, and cut down on 'heaty' foods. Much to my chagrin. Ja doesn't know how terribly unprofessional that makes her sound, so I tried my best to cut her off.

What is this blog about? Me, I'm just a little ticked that our pediatricians are so under informed. Thankfully that's changing - slowly, but it IS improving. Kinda like all good changes in Malaysia, really. Women’s rights, environmental awareness, gay acceptance…

As she went home, the mother told me, "My boy is just like other children, just a little slow."

Parents spend more time with their children than anyone else in the world. They know when something is wrong, and when something isn't. When they're not in denial, we really ought to give them more credit. =)