Drop and roll

The dining hall of the Halls of Residence sometimes offer filled bread rolls
for 50 c during dinner. These are the leftover ones from lunch and they usually go for A$2.85, but
the price is marked down to 50 c during dinner. My calculator tells me that’s a 82.46% discount.
Heh. They taste the same as they do during lunch anyway.

Well, I had a Simpsons marathon last night and I had an Initial D marathon
today. Wah lau…I’m going to fail if this keeps up. =D

Link: National day of mourning
in honor of the Bali bombings
[theage.com.au]

A minute’s silence to be observed at noon Australian Eastern Standard
Time.

Math is not my true calling

The Roberts Hall annual photos have finally been distributed today. It’s huge so I had to scan
it in two sessions, thus the join flaw. I had to collect mine from the College Head’s office
though, because I put A$10 short into the envelope. Heh. Apparently A$17 +A$23 equal A$30 to me.
=D

Well, this week was “Hall in the Wall” week, where Roberts Hall resident artists display their
works in the common room. I liked this one the most:

It’s an artificial pond, set right in the common room. It even has pond scum, cigarette butts,
coins and other miscellaneous rubbish in the pond for a realistic feel.

Here’s a closer look.

Anyway, I got this chain email today. I’ve gotten it twice before, but I’m in the mood to answer
it today, so here goes:

Do you think that you do not understand your friends at all? Maybe you
should do something to make them know you better. If you have the time to
spare then, reply to this.

Okay, here’s what you’re supposed to do. Please DO NOT be LAME and spoil the
fun.

Copy (not forward) this entire e-mail and paste it onto a new e-mail that
you will send.

Change all of the answers so that they apply to you and then send it to all
your friends.

The theory is that you will learn a lot of little facts about your friends.

( Caution, can be quite scary!)

**Remember to send it back to the person who sent it to you.

**READY?

>What is your name?

Poh Huai Bin

>What color pants are you wearing right now?

Light brown pajamas with a Star of David and double concentric circle pattern. It’s comfortable.
I like wearing pajama pants even when I’m not going to sleep. It’s my favorite at-home
attire.

>What are you listening to right now?

Bad
Religion’s All Ages
[badreligion.com]. The track Winamp is on now is Against the Grain. One
of my favorite Bad Religion songs. If you haven’t heard of them, they’re a punk band with oddly
intelligent and thought provoking lyrics.

>What are the last four digits of your home phone number?

I don’t have a home phone here. The last four digits of my cell phone number is 7474. It’s
Optus.

>What was the last thing you drink?

Vanilla Coke. The vending machine outside the common room has dedicated two whole slots to
Vanilla Coke. Those slots used to hold Diet Coke. Now you only have a choice of (original) Coke or
Vanilla Coke. Useless fact: A 600 ml bottle of soda costs A$2 from a vending machine. It’s
interesting to note that sodas and mineral water comes in 500 ml bottles in Malaysia while it comes
in 600 ml bottles here.

>If you were a crayon, what color would you be?

Red. Fiery, passionate and the first one to get colored down to a nub.

>Where do you plan to go on your honeymoon?

I’ll start with Venice. Then it’s off to Rome and Egypt to see the Colosseum and the
pyramids. And of course, the Bahamas [bahamas.com] to wind up the trip. Now, it’s just the
question of how I’m going to fund that. =D

>How is the weather right now?

Slightly cold. It was a scorching 30 Celsius this afternoon. Showers towards the end of the
evening and through the night brought it down to 14 Celsius.

>Last person you talked to on the phone?

My girlfriend. I talk to her every day. It’s a good thing calling cards go for 6.3 cents
per minute. That’s the GPS phone card after a 10% discount from my campus phone shop. The listed
call rate is 7 cents.

>What’s the first feature you notice from the opposite sex?

The eyes. They’re the windows to the soul and everything. =D

>Do you like the person that send you this?

He’s the one on the right.

Yeah. I’d known him since primary school. Heh. Last memorable trip we had was to Sarikei. Read
about that here [sixthseal.com].

>What’s your best birthday present ever received?

I have a real sweet tooth and there was this one time where my father bought a lot of imported
chocolates for me. I was about 10 or 11 at that time. He claimed to have bought it from Kuching (he
just came back from a trip there) but the price tag shows a KL store name. I knew it was a KL store
name because he went to KL some time ago too and came back with chocolates with the store name’s
price tags on it. Hmm…I thought. He must have hidden it somewhere in the fridge. I decided to
root through the refrigerator just in case there were more from that batch and came up with another
stash of chocolates. I’ll never forget the slightly chagrined yet amused expression of my father
then. Heh. I guess it was the memory that made it the best birthday present.

>How are you feeling today?

Pretty good actually. I didn’t get much work done though. I just came off a Simpson’s
marathon where I watched 10 episodes back to back. Downloaded them from the halls network.

>Your favourite drink?

Coffee. It’s perfect for a stimulating boost.

>Your favourite alcoholic drink?

Midori Illusions are pretty nice. Easy to down quickly because they’re not really fizzy
and I couldn’t taste the alcohol in it too. You have to love the twist off cap as well. I hate
having to search for a bottle opener. I like plain old beer tool.

>How do you eat an Oreo?

I put the whole Oreo into my month and crunch it. When I was young, I used to break open
the biscuits, eat the cream filling and discard the biscuits. Heh. Oreos are good in McFlurries as
well.

>What’s the next CD you’re going to get?

I stopped buying CDs ages ago. MP3s are more versatile and uh, it’s free. ;)

>Hair color?

Black. I usually color it light brown but I couldn’t be bothered to do that after my haircut a
couple of days ago.

>Eye Colour?

Brown.

>Do you wear contacts?

No. I actually have severe myopia in my right eye. Anything more than half an arm’s length away
is totally blur to my right eye. However my left eye has near perfect vision and compensates for
that. Thus, I don’t need any prescription glasses or contacts. My optometrist did advice me to wear
one, but I didn’t, and it didn’t get any worse. At least, I hope it didn’t. =D

>What’s your favourite month?

I don’t have a specific month but I love the end of the year period right through to Chinese New
Year. That time is usually spent with my girlfriend, friends and family. Unfortunately, I won’t be
coming home until late January/early February this year. :( I’m taking Industrial Experience, which
requires me to stay back for summer. Please shed a few tears for me.

>What’s your favorite food?

I find that I crave kampua mee the most. It’s a local dish from my hometown. Basically its
noodles flavored with soy sauce, chili, green onions, fried onions, pork oil, and lots of MSG. It’s
usually served with slices of BBQ pork but you should order another dish of pien nuk (pastry
stuffed with meat) for the best effect. Simply divine. Damn, my saliva glands are working overtime
now, just by typing this.

>Last movie you watched?

Lik Goo Lik Goo San Nin Choi (Fatt Choi Spirit). A fun movie about mahjong meant for
Chinese New Year.

>What’s your favorite date of the year?

Chinese New Year’s eve. Since it follows the lunar calendar, the date changes every year. It’s
the time where all the extended family gathers together for a reunion dinner.

>Are you shy to ask someone out?

Nope. I have a girlfriend though, so I don’t do this anymore.

>Do you like scary or romantic movies better

I like all movies. Even pretentious art house flicks. =D

>Would you prefer hugs or kisses?

I like them both, but if I had to choose, it’ll be hugs. It feels closer somehow.

>Relationship or one night stands?

Relationships. Contrary to popular belief, I don’t go for one night stands.

>You prefer chocolate or vanilla?

In ice cream? Vanilla. It seems less cloying than chocolate and more versatile.

>Do you want your friends to write back?

Sure. It will be interesting to see what everyone’s response is.

>Who is most likely to respond?

I’m posting this on my blog instead of forwarding this, so probably no one. However, feel
free to cut and paste the questionnaire and revive it as an email. Hmm…now that I think of it, I
might as well keep the chain going.

>What book are you reading now?

I just finished Robert J. Sawyer’s Calculating God [sfwriter.com].
I’m either going to start on Greg Bear’s Darwin’s Radio
[gregbear.com] or Arthur C. Clarke’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. My interests mainly lie in Science
Fiction and Horror, but I do read other genres from time to time. I tend to average about one
book in two weeks. I only read during my commute and in the toilet, unless I’m finishing the
book soon or I can’t put it down. I read ebooks via WordSmith on my Palm m505.

>What’s your favourite board game(s)?

Monopoly. I can be a bit of a bastard when playing Monopoly too. Heh. I try to snatch up
every color coded real estate and never relinquish it to avoid other people from building houses.
Railways are my favorite too, I’ll pay exorbitant amounts just to control all four.

>What’s your favourite magazine(s)?

Hmm…I don’t read much magazines here. But we have Time, Asiaweek (now defunct), National
Geographic, and Reader’s Digest back home. I like reading Time but by the time (haha) the magazine
is out, I’ve already read the news ages ago online. The only magazines I’ve bought here are
Australian travel magazines. I read those for fun.

>What’s your favourite smell(s)?

Protex soap. The smell is associated with school holidays and Friday evenings where I play
computer games all day long. I made that association back in Form 2 and it’s stuck ever
since.

>Least favourite smell(s)?

Lavender. I have associated it with depression and anxiety attacks and desperation. No
thanks. Go away lavender.

>What’s your favourite sound?

Banging gongs + drums + crashing cymbals + sounds of firecrackers. Chinese New Year ahoy!
I also like church hymns. Those make me feel peaceful and relaxed.

>What radio channel you tune in to?

I don’t listen to radio but the shuttle bus always has Fox FM [fox.com.au] on.

>Date of birth?

5th of April 1981. It’s Ching Ming aka Tomb Sweeping Day [yahoo.com]. A day where the dead is honored by having an extended family
outing to clean the tombs of the departed ancestors.

>Your zodiac sign?

Aries. I’m a classic Aries too. Represent!

>Do you eat the stems of broccoli?

Yeah. I like the texture.

>Do you have patience?

Nope. Absolutely none at all. I’m working on that though, so bear with me. =D

>What kind of people do you dislike?

Pretentious people, arrogant people and know it alls (HAMPALANG EH).

>What type of guy/girl are you interested in?

A nice, simple and trustworthy Christian. I would like my wife to be with me in life and
also in the afterlife. ;)

>What would you do to impress a guy/girl that you like?

The most outrageous things. I also tend to hang around them for extended periods of time
to make an impression.

>How would you react if the person you like rejected you?

It won’t bother me. Different strokes for different folks.

Brass Monkeys Consulting

My network connection was down for practically the whole day yesterday. Thus,
I have decided to sleep early and wake up early today to prepare for the final ITPM presentation. I
woke up bright an early at 8 am and headed down to my campus to rehearse with my other team
members:

Group 702: Brass Monkeys Consulting

From left: Poh Huai Bin, Dan Chandrasoma, Sheralyn D’Rose, Bela Farbas

I think we did pretty well in the presentation, but there was a group with an
impressively feature packed product though. Good thing the marks are not scaled…at least I hope
they’re not. =D Anyway, I had to wake up early yesterday too. It seems that my National [national.com.au] bank account has been
overdraft to the amount of A$11.12 (don’t ask me why a savings account can be over drafted).
Since I already have a Commonwealth bank account (my main account now), I’ve
decided to close the National one. The only branch around here is in Clayton town. There was one
in the campus center last time, but it has closed and the space is now occupied by the Business
Systems laboratory.

Well, I also got to eat the Beef Salsa Burger, which is part of McDonald’s
ever changing New Tastes Menu
[mcdonalds.com.au]. It tasted like the old Italian Romano Burger (part of their Tastes of the
World Menu) to me, and the burger is rather small-ish too. I’ll go for a Big Mac or Filet-O-Fish
over it any day.

Link of the day: Firebugs threaten mosque
attacks
[theage.com.au]

I knew this was going to happen sooner or later.

"krow is work spelled backwards" and a childhood story

Note: I haven’t fallen into “The Zone” while writing for a long time. Feels good to be back. Please read the story.

Hmm…I feel contented coz today was quite productive by my
standards, which unfortunately, is not high at all. =D I did get chewed
on a bit today by my IE supervisor though. It’s understandable coz our
group seems to be rather behind schedule. There was a semantics issue
involved as well. I had assumed that a non-reply will default to the
affirmative regarding meeting times, but apparently that was not the
case. Well, you know what they say about assuming. I can’t resist
reiterating though, assuming makes and ass out of u and me. There.
Anyway, I was grilled for a while about PHP syntax too. Felt like I was
back in graded school. Heh. Oh, which reminds me. Back in primary
school, we had this Nazi math teacher who would force us to memorize
the multiplication tables up to 13. Now, every time she comes in,
she’ll carry this big ass rattan (flexible wood-like plant) cane and
swish it around a bit. Then, she’ll start to traverse the tables and
rows, asking each one a random multiplication. She’ll give you 1
second, and 1 second the most. If you couldn’t answer correctly by
then, she’ll give you a hard lashing with the cane.

So down she’ll go, asking “What’s 3 times 12?” “What’s 7 times 13?”
“What’s 11 times 10?”. Now, each day, she’ll add one lashing to the
punishment for the wayward ones who couldn’t figure out the
multiplication tables in the head (no tables are allowed). This went on
until the punishment was 50 lashings (!) on the 50th day. She promised
that the counter will reset itself to 1 the next day. I’m not kidding,
this really is true. Note though that capital punishment was acceptable
in Malaysia when I was in primary school. Anyway, I could answer
everyday, right up until the dreaded 50th day. Many of my classmates
has conveniently brought a tube of Colgate toothpaste, which is said to
numb the hands so the lashings won’t hurt so much. Well, the guy in
front of me, an Iban, didn’t get the answer right, so the teacher
started to give him 50 lashes. Right around the 35th lash point, the
cane splintered and frayed, but the teacher kept on going. Well,
besides being not good with multiplications, the Iban guy was
unfortunately not good in acting too. He was smiling after the rattan
cane frayed, because rattan canes don’t hurt much once they’ve frayed.
This is because the kinetic force applied to the cane distributes
through each fray, which then lands on a larger surface area.

Unfortunate. The teacher started to realize this and started
slapping the guy instead, substituting each lash with a slap until the
prescribed 50 were up. The poor guy started crying (we were 12 years
old at that time) and the whole class was in a quandary regarding this
new development. The Colgate Method TM has effectively been
nulled, voided and stamped with a big red NOT APPLICABLE, sorry mate.
Anyway, once the slapping has been dealt with, the teacher moved to the
first girl in my row. We were (rather ruthlessly) hoping that the next
few people will “get it” too, since the bell was 10 minutes away from
ringing. Inferring and extrapolating shows that the teacher can produce
30 slaps per minute (SPM).

[Edit: Replaced original ASCII depiction with JPEG graphical representation.]

pristory.jpg

Thus, if 5 people in the row of 9 “gets it”, I would be spared from
any questions, since the bell would have already rung. I think we
learnt more math by trying to avoid a spanking than memorizing
multiplication tables. Unfortunately, the next girl was the smartest
girl in our class, so she instantly got the answer right. We were
momentarily elated for a couple of seconds, when the teacher fired off
3 more questions in quick succession, as if wanting to get the girl to
slip up. Unfazed, the smart girl answered all of them with impunity.
And thus it went, until it was the turn of the guy beside me. The clock
still had 7 minutes to go at the time, so I was about to resign to my
fate…until I thought of a trump card. Of course! I’ll go to the
toilet. So,

Me: Cikgu, boleh saya pergi ke tandas? Perut sakit…

[Teacher, can I go to the toilet? I have a stomachache…(which was
only half untrue – who wouldn’t get a stomachache with this kind of
pressure?)]

Teacher: Eh, tidak boleh…sudah hampir sampai giliran kamu. Mahu lari kah?

[Of course not…it’s nearly your turn to go. Are you trying to get away?]

Me: …………………………

And thus, it was my turn. “What is 7 times 9?” said the teacher.
“Er…62?” said I. 7’s were always my weakest multiplication tables.
“SALAH!!!” boomed the teacher with delight, glad for an opportunity to
flex her muscles once more. Salah means wrong in Bahasa Malaysia if you
haven’t figured it out by now. I had never gotten the multiplication
tables wrong before. I could hear a sigh of relief from the row behind
me. Infidels. The teacher made me stand up and started giving me a
slap. However, she apparently could not bring herself to do it a second
time and contented herself with giving my cheeks a hard pinch. “Huai
Bin” the teacher said. “Jangan salah lagi, ah, kamu budak pandai”.
(Don’t make any more mistakes, you’re a clever kid).

“Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee”
went the class, voicing discontent at the preferential treatment I was
getting.

Oh well.

I feel liberated

I finally managed to get a haircut today. It only cost A$17, which is
pretty cheap over here. I went to Monash Hair Salon at the campus center.
Anyway, I watched a HK movie on VCD just now. It was the 2002 Chinese New
Year movie by Andy Lau and Gigi Leung. I don’t know the name, but it’s
about mahjong. The plot is predictable, but that’s not the point. It’s a
Chinese New Year movie, it’s supposed to be a feel good movie, not one
where you can endlessly debate the intricacies that motivated the main
protagonist. I like Gigi Leung before the breast augmentation surgery (in
the movie). She seemed rather top heavy after that. Heh. I want to go home
for Chinese New Year. Update: The movie is called Lik Goo Lik Goo San Nin
Choi (Fatt Choi Spirit). Man, that rice bit was funny. =D

Reading:
Calculating God by Robert J. Sawyer
(A damned (damn?) good book)

Mun Fun with lots of soy sauce and pepper

I had dinner at Wah Kee today with Adrian and Jun Wei. I’ve been craving
after their Combination Mun Fun with heaps of soy sauce and pepper.
Basically, it’s a combo of chicken, beef (?), char siew, squid, prawns and
vegies cooked in a tasteless sauce (hence the soy and pepper part). I had
some short soup too. Short soup is what they call wonton soup here. Later
we headed over to Jun Wei’s house, where he has an autographed photo of
Stephanie Sun when she was in her youth. Heh. Nah, actually it is a photo
of his girlfriend, but she sure looks like Stephanie Sun in that photo.
Anyway, I’ve got heaps of work to do before tomorrow. I’m sleepy and I’m
demoralized. End of semester sucks. And I can’t even look forward to going
back because I’m not going back during the summer vacations. I have to
stay back because IE runs for two consecutive semesters. Shit.

Link of the day:

Bali Bombing Full Coverage
[theage.com.au]

Chad is stoned…

I headed down to Chadstone today to do a bit of shopping. I wanted to cut
my hair too, but the prices at Chadstone “The Fashion Capital” ranges from
A$45 – A$75 and I couldn’t justify paying those prices. Especially not
when I pay around A$5 – A$10 for a haircut back home. =D I was going to
get

Contacting Aliens: An Illustrated Guide to David Brin’s Uplift Universe

[davidbrin.com] too, but the Borders at Chadstone did not carry it.
Hmm…one of the best things to eat in the food court is the lunch plate
of Sizzling Wok. I like having honey chicken and Mongolian beef. Their
Mongolian beef is really salty and their honey chicken is really sweet and
that combination tastes good. My thoughts are kinda foggy today, I’m still
feeling the flu. More of a runny nose and mental slowness today though.
Yeah…Well, anyway, I like
Lush.

The store smells really nice and I like the idea of huge block of soap
that you cut and wrap up yourself. They have
really
nice names
[lush.co.uk] for their soaps too. Their

bath ballistics
[lush.co.uk] looks fun to use, but unfortunately, I
don’t have a running bath. Oh well. I feel slow today.

*cough* *sneeze* *clears throat*

I think I’ve caught the flu. Or it could be the asbestos and lead fibers
I’ve been breathing in for the past week. I’m relegated to a short life of
mental retardation, doomed to die of lung cancer. Roberts Hall was
opened in 1971, so it’s safe to assume that the walls are built solely with
asbestos (and plenty of manpower) and slathered with some good old lead
based paint to hold it together. There was some work done on my ceiling
one week ago to fix my ceiling light. The electricians replaced the entire
housing and left my carpet strewed with debris of dubious origin. Being
somewhat of a hypochondriac, I find myself waking up with a sore throat,
stuffy sinuses, and significantly reduced mental capabilities. The last
one might be psychosomatic though. =D Anyway, I went to the operations
office today to ask whether the ceilings have asbestos in them. The
receptionist was quite taken aback by my question. Heh.

Me: There is asbestos in the ceilings of Roberts Hall, isn’t there?

Receptionist: (startled) I’m not sure…why would you think that?

Me: (describes my symptoms, both real and imagined =D)

Receptionist: Oh dear, let me get someone better qualified to answer that
question.

(The receptionist goes into the office and
gets the director)

Director: Hello there. How can I help you?

Me: Well, I’m concerned that the Roberts Hall ceilings contain asbestos.
There was some work done on my ceiling which left a lot of dust and debris
and I’ve been having respiratory problems after breathing it in.

Director: (phrasing his words carefully) Well…I’m not familiar with the
architectural aspects of Roberts Hall, but I would think that there isn’t
any asbestos in the structure. What does the dust look like?

Me: It looks like long, thin fibers. It doesn’t seem to break easily.

Director: (guardedly) Oh…hmm…I think that might be the spray on
concrete they use to coat the ceiling. I’ll check and get right back to
you. Do you want to leave a contact number?

Me: (gives my cell phone number)

Director: Thank you. I’ll personally get back to you when I know.

Hmm…that conversation wasn’t reassuring at all. I didn’t think about the
lead issue until later though. I spent the better part of the evening
vacuuming my room and washing my bedsheets. I know that vacuuming will
stir up the particles and that’s more dangerous since it will be easy to
breath it in, but my floor is saturated with that shit anyway and walking
alone will disturb the fibers. Damned if I do, damned if I don’t.

I spilled detergent powder in front of my door just after I returned the
vacuum cleaner. Wonderful.

……

I’m sleepy. I haven’t had a good night’s sleep in two days and last night
was even worse. I couldn’t sleep at first, and when I finally thought I
might be able to, I laid down on the bed for two hours – but still no
sleep came to me. The dawn light that filtered through my blinds didn’t
help either. I like to sleep in absolute darkness. To make matters worse,
the lawnmower man came at the UNGODLY hour of 8:30 am and started to mow
the fucking lawn. I haven’t started to sleep at that point and the noise
from the lawnmowers (it the kind you drive) made it really hard to sleep.
I tried pulling my bedsheets over one ear and stuffing the other ear with
my pillow, but that didn’t help much. As if things couldn’t get any worse,
I had to field several phone calls informing me that a client meeting is
scheduled today. Joy. Okay, enough bitching. :)

Springvale train station

Anyway, I headed down to Springvale today to see if they still have any
Item X’s in stock. It should be noted that the Store X in Springvale is
nowhere near the town center. There is quite a significant traveling
distance involved too. However, all is not in vain, for they had one last
Item X in stock. =D They were actually holding it for another person, but
the manager decided to sell it to me anyway. That’s good then.
Hmm…anyway, is it just me, or does Springvale look dodgier and dodgier
every time I go there? Puzzling.

Link of the day:

Korean man dies after computer games binge
[theage.com.au]

FUD. People don’t die from playing computer games non-stop for 86 hours.
People die from heart attacks while ingesting stimulants. Notice that he
died in the toilet. My…uh, friend told me that it’s common for people on
methamphetamines or similar stimulants to experience constipation or

oliguria
(got this word from my med school sister). This friend of
mine once tried to force himself to take a piss coz he hasn’t done so for
quite a while and said he nearly passed out. He felt a surge of blood
going to his head and his heart started to pound really fast, and he
thought he was about to kick the bucket there and then. Stimulants
increase blood pressure and makes your heart work harder. People generally
don’t stay up for 86 hours non-stop without stimulants. He died with a
felafel in his hand. I mean, he died in the toilet. Do the math. Oh, and
don’t force yourself to piss while on meth. =D

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