The firecracker and the cat

chinese firecrackers

This is a powerful multi-layered braided string of 39,999 traditional Chinese firecrackers – it’s huge, with lots of powder and chalk, which produces tons of red paper. I strung them up around the gate like a snake yesterday for the 7th day of Chinese New Year.

firecracker

It’s really, really loud. I was standing about 1 meter away and I could feel debris and chalk flying right past me.

Anyway, after my ears stopped ringing I suddenly heard a cat’s pitiful mewling.

Puzzled, I looked around.

No cat.

We searched and searched and finally isolated the mewling to a corner with our temporarily deaf ears. Me and my dad thought it was coming from *inside* the air conditioning unit.

air con

We spent a good 10 minutes trying to pry it open coz the cat sounded like it was trapped inside.

I kept looking in too but I couldn’t see the cat.

My dad went in to fetch a suitable spanner to undo the lugs while I tried to see how the cat could have gotten in but there are no openings.

…and then my dad happened to look up.

firecracker cat
(cat)

Yeah…

We were crouched down and looking inside the air conditioning unit so we never thought it was coming from above. Besides, our hearing was shot.

stuck cat

I think it’s a stray that was walking from the backyard when the firecrackers scared her and in a burst of adrenaline, she somehow managed this amazing acrobatic feat that she couldn’t extract herself from.

I had to get her down.

petting cat

Nice cat, wish it stayed but she haughtily stretched herself and left after I petted her a little and the ordeal was over. Ungrateful. Hmph. action

I spent last night with the police

police

I just came back from a rather long night. The entire extended family was out celebrating the 80th birthday of my grand aunt. A bunch of us cousins decided to make a new tradition of going out clubbing during Day 3 of Chinese New Year and sent my grandma back.

I ended up hanging with the police instead.

We were about to head out after dropping them off when suddenly my aunts and grandma noticed that the entire house was completely ransacked. It’s a good thing we were still there.

The fucking thieves gained entry by strategically putting a couple of pieces of wood over a large storm drain, unscrewing the back gate with surgical precision and taking out the door with a couple of well put strikes that broke the lock.

…before rampaging through the rooms, breaking beds and overturning closets to find cold hard cash. They didn’t take anything else – the police said it’s probably coz gold and other valuables would be hard to sell without detection in a small town like this.

You know how much they netted? Over RM 30,000!

It’s Chinese New Year and the lion’s share of the damage was to my grandma. :(

She lost RM 20,000 out of the total (rest were my aunts and one cousin from Singapore).

I called 999 and told them not to touch anything. I was a bit taken aback when the operator said “Mr Poh can you repeat the address?”.

It’s the integrated system with telcos to prevent crank calls.

I realized that half a second after the initial surprise. I was out waiting for the police and then called the Sibu Police Headquarters instead to speed things up. They said they’ve already got the call and they’re sending out a patrol car.

The initial cops who came took a look around and said we needed to take stock of the losses and lodge a report at the main station.

Thus, me and my cousin went with all my aunts and grandma to the police station, made a report, went up to speak to someone and then went back home to wait for the JSJ (Jabatan Siasatan Jenayah – Crime Investigation Department) to come for forensics.

dusting fingerprints

They tried to get fingerprints but didn’t get any.

There has been a spate of break-ins at that area for a long time – the neighbor behind had the same MO. My grandma’s house is never empty – there’s always someone there coz 3 of my aunts and my grandma lives there. The only time it was empty, it got broken into.

Same thing happened to the neighbor to the back. The one at the side was slightly more unlucky, two females were in the house when it happened, but didn’t see the thieves coz they were forced down on the ground. Only money was taken, no valuables.

I think Sibu is getting a bit worse each year – one of my friends chanced upon a robbery in broad daylight yesterday.

I feel so sorry for my grandma and I guess it’s a good thing that some people are gifted with the ability to make others laugh (like my cousin) which puts things in perspective.

The silver lining is that no one was hurt coz the last time someone stumbled upon and recognized the thief in Sibu, the entire family was murdered. It was done to prevent them from pointing him out but one of them managed to get away by jumping from the second floor.

break in

I still feel fucking horrible though – I went to sit with my grandma who was there folding clothes after the robbers rummaged through everything and destroyed the beds to see if there was anything hidden underneath.

She told me that was the money she was planning to use for a vacation. T_T

She’s a very nice person, a kind and selfless woman armed with a cheery smile and always putting other people first. That was her entire life savings she has been putting away slowly over all these years you took, fuckers.

Chinese New Year shopping @ Petaling Street

cny petaling street

I was out here the night before I was supposed to fly back to get some last minute Chinese New Year goodies for Sibu. It was a real pain-in-the-ass to lug them all back coz most of them had to be carry ons so it’s a good thing I had this huge bag from buying CNY clothes that I chucked everything in. Heh.

Petaling Street was quite festive – lights were strung out and there were heaps of people out and about.

waxed meat

Waxed meat is a popular item.

I was told that you can’t get proper ngaku (arrowhead chips) in Sibu so I bought a couple of tubs. I heard that this place has some of the best ones around. It’s RM 13 per container, I don’t eat them but my sister says that my brother-in-law can eat one tub, no problems. They were trying to get some back from Singapore too.

ngaku

I also bumped into this intriguing shop selling candied vegetables. I was looking at them and the lady was kind enough to offer me lots of samples. I didn’t quite like any of the others except for carrot, peppers, lotus root and coconut so that’s the only four (4) types I got.

candied vegetables

You can mix and match – it’s RM 15 for 200 grams (I think that was the price, can’t really remember) so I bought two small tubs back.

sanbanto

I also went to Sanbanto to grab a few packs of ba kua (pork jerky). They have two types – sliced pork meat (RM 50) and minced pork meat (RM 48). It depends on what you prefer.

sanbanto bakua

I’ve tasted them and was quite impressed – there are no preservatives so you have to eat them within 3 days once it’s open. However, each piece of ba kua is individually wrapped and there’s 500 grams of porky goodness in there.

I don’t usually like ba kua but this was made in-house and tasted so much better than the mass produced ones that I thought it’ll make a good gift.

petaling street cny

Next up! Fireworks and firecrackers for CNY! w00t! :D

Last Trip to Genting Casino – winners, losers, and the meaning of life

Tears began to roll down his eyes instead of smiles of satisfaction.

I weep, because riches beget enmity and mutual bitterness” – Omar (second Caliph after Prophet Muhammad, after looking gravely at the piles of gold from the spoils of war of conquering Persia)

genting roulette table

The meaning of life not 42. The meaning of life is 6.

I was at the Roulette table last night and my first bet was about RM 1,000 worth of chips spread out over the table.

I thought I had put a RM 100 chip on the number 6.

I didn’t. It was a corner/square bet (covering 4 numbers in the photo above with my RM 50 chip for an 8:1 payout – 5, 6, 8, 9). I did have RM 100 on the number 0 though.

Thus, the amount that I won from that bet didn’t even equal out my RM 2,000 buy-in. I stacked more chips on the second bet and lost.

I did put chips on the number 6 this time but it came out as 16 instead. I didn’t bet on 6 the third time and that was my loss coz that very same number came out again!

Yup, it was 6 – “my number”.

I would have won RM 1,750 after covering my RM 2000 buy-in (total of RM 3,750) if I had gone for that. It’s not a large amount, but I would have left.

Instead, I lost about RM 2,200 and then decided to stop and go get an early dinner.

credit card cash withdrawal charges

I then went into the International Room and withdrew RM 1,000 using my credit card, which incurs an administrative charge from Genting as well as the bank’s 5% charge.

casino de genting bearer chips

I walked to a Baccarat table where there’s a really nice and professional croupier (couldn’t remember her name) – my original intention was to double up until I recouped my losses.

It’s a good thing I didn’t coz I lost on the first round – I had split my bet to RM 500.

I won on the next round, doubled up and then doubled up again. I wanted a sequence of Player, Banker, Banker and that’s exactly what happened.

genting casino malaysia chips

Thus, with my last RM 1,500 bet on Banker I had netted RM 4,000.

four thousand

It’s a technical win since my buy-in was about RM 3,200 + credit card charges. However, I don’t consider it a win. I had to cover my room at Awana (all other hotels were fully booked) which was about RM 250 per person after splitting the cost – the room was about RM 500 (!!!). I also had to cover the trip costs and a celebratory drink at Cloud 9 (live band watering hole with a cover charge of RM 25 for cardholders) after that.

I could have won an additional RM 1,500. I wanted to hit Banker one last time (and even stayed to watch) – it was a natural 8, an automatic win. I didn’t bet though, I told myself I’ll quit after recovering and I did.

rm3

I cashed up after that – I only had RM 3 in my wallet at that point, the rest is the stack of notes from the RM 4,000 cashout.

I immediately banked in RM 2,000 to my credit card account so I wouldn’t get hit that hard by the bank charges (it should cover the RM 1,000 cash out) and went shopping for clothes.

paying credit card

Time from credit card cash withdrawal to payment: Less than 1 hour (much of it spent lining up at the CDM)

It’s a good thing that I went up this weekend – I bought all my clothes from the same store coz it had an additional 30% discount for Genting card holders. I’ve been a Silver member since end of 2007, not too long after I got out of rehab.

I got two pairs of shirts and pants each – I don’t always buy new attire for Chinese New Year, but this time I wanted to.

horrible clothes

I also make it a point to buy one shirt that looks horrible on me each year…but a friend and the sales promoter stopped me. Haha!

I went for the blue version of this instead. It looks much better. I spent about RM 600 on clothes and a new pair of shoes! Technically, this is from my nett winnings. ;)

It was a fun trip – the drinking, the early morning burger run before sleeping and waking up at 9 am to sing impromptu karaoke at the balcony.

I also told myself I’ll stop hitting the casinos after this. I intend to honor it this time.

no easy day

The only easy day was yesterday” – SEAL team mantra

Guess what? I won Magnum 4D!

magnum 4d win
THIS IS A WINNING TICKET

I had a feeling that I was going to get lucky yesterday so I went to the SS2 Magnum 4D outlet where I usually have my lunch and got some lottery tickets. I checked at night during dinner and thought I didn’t win but when I went back home and looked at the ticket – it was indeed a winning number! :)

lottery winnings

My number is 8179

I have *never* won Magnum 4D before.

winning lottery ticket

It came out as a Special Prize (RM 180) and I bought RM 3 of that number so I thought I won around RM 600 as I posted it up on the sixthseal.com Facebook page last night.

jackpot winnings

I just cashed it in and it seems like the Jackpot 4 prize is much larger than I thought. I read it was just RM 68 but when the payout ticket came out it’s RM 68 (Jackpot 4 bonus) x RM 2 (Jackpot minimum bet) x RM 3 (amount bet) = RM 408.

total 4d winnings

Thus RM 540 (RM 180 Special Prize) + RM 408 (Jackpot bonus) = RM 948.

8179 is a concatenation of a family number: 19(81) + 19(79).

The first is my year of birth and the other is the year my only other sibling – my sister – was born.

It’s a small win but I’m quite happy coz I’ve successfully beaten the insane odds. I’ve also had a winning Sports Toto ticket before and stopped buying after that.

winning face

Here’s a cheesy shot of me in recognition of the original one from 2006. (see the Sports Toto link from my post back then)

I had hoped to win a couple million from the Jackpot and send my mom and dad for a vacation to the States or Europe and get my mom better treatment but there are no shortcuts in life.

claim 4d

I am officially stopping any further bets from Magnum 4D since I just want to buck the odds. I used to occasionally get the tickets but seriously, the odds are just not there. I’m glad I finally beat it. It’s not much but it’s a bonus Chinese New Year ang pow. :)

I just got into the most mysterious accident

accident middle damage

I was driving out last night from my place when I had to swerve to avoid a head-on collision with a car coming up at full speed from the exit ramp.

Let me illustrate:

my statement

* It should be noted that the 90 degree corner separating me from the other car at that ramp is a blind spot – I cannot see him and there’s a difference in elevation so I can’t even see his headlights splash for advance warning.

The person inside kinda smiled apologetically at me and then drove off. I couldn’t stop him since my car was still stuck and after extracting myself I went to lodge a police report.

The police told me that they can’t accept a report unless I have the other person’s car licence plate. I didn’t.

right flank

Thus, I went back and went to the security monitors to review the incident. A large problem is that all of the DVRs were all out of sync chronologically and I had to make calculations to see what happened when.

cctv recordings

The security was of minimal help. I had to do all of this myself, replaying the CCTVs (used to work in the securities line) for over 4 hours!

There were two cars entering the car park when I was getting into my car so those two are the obvious suspects. One of them did actually take that dangerous short cut that nearly resulted in me colliding head-on.

However, both of the cars were black and not white. I encountered a white car, and it seems like the person driving it looked rather familiar but there is no tenant with a white car coming in at the time.

dvr times

There was also the issue of headlights visible at the far end of the ramp before that, which could possibly be the result of an existing car (e.g. one inside the car park) at the area before Level 2 waiting and then coming up the wrong way.

The incident happened at 8:06 pm last night and I spent 4 hours scouring the CCTV footage and the car park for the car to no avail.

engine depressed

I had to swerve hard to avoid colliding with that car and in that process, hit the wall on the other side of the ramp. I have a feeling the front compressed into the radiator. I only got back after 12 am and talked in the porridge forum for a while before sleeping.

front decal depression

I can’t report this as it is but I’ve spoken to a lawyer and has been advised to keep all my video recordings and evidence for a possible future litigation which has nothing to do with traffic incidents (24 hours).

I can’t really talk about the circumstances (you know how it is, in law, it’s always about the other side making a mistake first) but anyway I’ll head out to get a quote from the workshop I used to work with to see how much the car is going to cost me.

left flank

Damn, and I’ve been real careful since fixing my car too. :x

8 features I love about Windows 8

windows 8

Yup, I’ve installed Windows 8 to replace the Windows 7 Home Premium Edition I’m running on my main workhorse.

windows versions

I’ve upgraded my notebook several times in terms on hardware (RAM, HDD etc) and I’m always excited when a new OS comes out. Windows 8 Pro 64-bit (my notebook runs 64 bit natively, though there’s a 32-bit version of Windows 8) has a lot of things that I like and having spent a couple of weeks with it, I’ve managed to single out 8 features that I love.

windows 8 install

It’s hard to go with just 8 since there are a lot of new additions to enrich your experience. Some are essential and some are just stuff that are just plain fun.

I write a lot, love to travel and have been blogging since April 2002 so I’ll keep my experiences on that personal level.

1. Start Screen

This is the much anticipated feature (in addition to Live Tiles) of Windows 8 and it takes some getting used to, but there’s no going back after that.

windows 8 start

This displays my most commonly used apps and I can see various messages flood in via Live Tiles in the People and Messaging apps, which I use the most. This way, I just have to synchronize my email, Facebook, Twitter, IM clients and it’ll all be integrated into one place.

I like to travel pretty randomly (without any plans and flying by the seat of my pants) and this feature allows me to just see what’s going on in Travel, check the Wikipedia app (stating local customs and faux pas e.g. not eating the doughy tops of khinkali, a type of Georgian dumpling and also pronunciation), pull out Internet Explorer 10 for bus/train schedules and all that while talking to people who’re there so I can maybe couchsurf.

That’s taking “keeping in touch” to a whole new level.

2. Enhanced Search

I love this feature coz it’s perfect for lazy people like me. Heh.

windows 8 search

Just type anything directly from the Start Screen and it’ll appear. I typed “Sky” in this case and SkyDrive pops up as one of the features so I don’t have to go rooting about for it. It’s really a time saver.

I can also expand the search to various areas (which is customizable) for it to trawl anything from Windows Store to the entire Internet. Nifty, this one, and handy for finding facts online by just starting to type on the Start Screen.

3. Snap apps

This is a godsend for blogging!

windows 8 blogging

Just hover your mouse to the left and out pops a list of currently running apps. You can actually drag one of those apps out so you have two apps on your screen. This can be resized as you wish so I can dedicate 3/4 of my screen to Photoshop for photo editing and the other 1/4 to WordPress on IE 10 to add the photos to my blog or reply comments.

…and yes, both of the apps work at the same time. :D

4. Easy Screenshots

This is just amazing and it’s how I took most of the screenshots you see in this post. Windows 8 nullifies the need for external apps or the old method of Alt+Print Screen -> Open Paint -> Ctrl+V to take and paste a screenshot.

windows 8 pro

Now I just have to press Win+Print Screen.

It takes the entire screen and automatically saves it in the Pictures folder. You can also use Alt to take the current window but the shortcut where you can just automatically screenshot the entire screen is a lifesaver (or at least a time saver) to me – I do it a lot when blogging, writing and emailing someone about a travel deal. :)

5. Picture Password

This is one of the things which I’ll put under fun to use. Heh.

picturepassword

You can choose your best vacation/clubbing/adventure photos as a Picture Password and draw gestures around it to enter your computer. It not only acts as a password, it also shows my favorite photo while I’m logged out.

6. Windows Store

You can download a lot of free and paid games and apps in here – anything from Angry Birds to Wikipedia. I also found a fun and free game called Ball Strike when I was in Singapore courtesy of Jim Saret (of Biggest Loser Philippines fame).

windows store

It just requires a Windows 8 device with a camera – which is common enough, even my older notebook has a built-in webcam. This is an augmented reality game that gives me a bit of exercise while I’m at home.

I can see it being a hugely popular house party game too. Heh.

7. Charms Bar

This is the uber sidebar that allows you access to everything from the classic Desktop that traditional users would instantly recognize:

windows 8 charms

…to instant share which I use to quickly share travel itinerary PDFs, photos and such via Tweetro (a Twitter client) or email.

It’s awesome and you just have to go to the right of the screen to activate it.

8. SkyDrive

I have personal experience of having my camera stolen while travelling before – all my photos from the trip were lost! Integration with SkyDrive, especially for my photo backups, is essential to me.

The cloud-connectivity that Skydrive offers is wonderful because I like to travel in places that are not necessarily tourist friendly.

skydrive

I’ve also had my HDD crash two times before – and some of my precious photos were lost forever! Now with SkyDrive, I’ll make it a point to do auto backups when I’m done for the day and leave it uploading while I sleep.

It works beautifully for documents too e.g. the blog posts that I write every day.

You know how important photos are to travellers and bloggers – it’s a pictorial chronological memory for me and I can’t stand losing it.

Now I won’t have to. :)

Do I need Windows RT, Windows 8 or Windows 8 Pro?

which windows 8
Here’s a chart to help you decide.

Windows RT
Windows RT is for people who wants a tablet-style easy to use OS where you don’t need new and existing Windows desktop software to work. It’s great with tablets and PCs where you want a user friendly experience – the new Start Screen is where you work from and all apps comes from Windows Store. As an added bonus, it comes with Office Home & Student 2013 Preview!

windows rt

Windows 8
Windows 8 is what most casual users will need – you’ll get all the new features in the Start Screen (actually all of the versions do) but you don’t have to work exclusively with Windows Store apps. The only thing you’ll miss out on is BitLocker. You can still use new and existing Windows desktop software as well as the apps from Windows Store – it’s the best of both worlds!

windows 8 versions

Windows 8 Pro
Windows 8 Pro is basically Windows 8 for power users or enterprise users. You get all the functionality in Windows 8 (like existing and new Windows Desktop software compatibility) and BitLocker for data protection as well as a host of networking features like Domain Join and Remote Desktop Connection.

windows 8 singapore

Windows 8 special promo info:
If you’ve bought Windows 7 PC from June 2 onwards, you can upgrade to Windows 8 for just USD 14.99 (RM 49.92). Login to www.windowsupgradeoffer.com (yes, this is a real Microsoft link, not some dodgy website) for more details.

Otherwise, if you have a PC and would like to install or upgrade to Windows 8, you can purchase it at USD 39.99 (RM 122). Login to windows.my for more details.

The offers end on 31st January 2013 so get your upgrade today to take advantage of the promo prices! :D

What’s your best looking side – left or right?

I’ve heard that everyone has one side that they look better in. The real pros actually navigate themselves so that their “best looking side” e.g. angle gets presented each time they take a photo. Heh.

right

I don’t know if I have a good looking side. Here’s my right profile.

left

…and this is my left side.

I think it looks just about the same but please do correct me if I’m wrong – I’ll love to know. :)

Do you have one side that you look better in?

RM 1,000 nett win from Genting

I had RM 500 as my bankroll – that’s as much as I was willing to lose. I won RM 1,500 from the roulette tables. That’s a RM 1,000 nett win but let me tell you about the most unusual sequence of events.

roulette 6

I took this at great personal risk of ejection from the casino. It’s the Roulette table with the number 6 pinned – some of the chips there are mine. I guess they must have seen me on the CCTVs, got a glare from the pit boss, so don’t complain about the quality. It would have been ignominious for me to be escorted out. ;)

I had wanted to bet the entire amount on the number 6. Why?

  • Well, there’s my blog name for one
  • Also, I got a queue number that practically shouts for me to go there
  • I also had a very good feeling about that number even before I came up

I kinda felt that I would win quite a large amount by doing that if I just went at the right time. I went while the others were taking a bath. I like to do this alone actually.

casino chips 500

Unfortunately, I didn’t have the balls to throw down the entire RM 500 on my very strong hunch or else the title would be how I won RM 17,500 from Genting – a good start towards recovering my funds. :x

I put down RM 30 in chips instead and spread the rest around.

I got up to RM 1,670 in the first second I sat down.

Dammit, for not heeding that instinct!!! Oh well.

Anyway, I set aside RM 1,000 (my original target was just a paltry RM 300 win – a far cry from the high rolling days – those are over) and used the RM 670 in chips to play again…which got me down RM 270 before a last minute hedge bet on 7-8 got me back to RM 800.

Yup, that’s a RM 1,300 nett win. I set aside another RM 500 (for RM 1,500) and used the RM 300 for one last shot.

myr1500

Lost all the RM 300 in a single spin (went for 1-18 numbers) and decided it was time to pull out. I had dropped below a 1k win once, and now I got back up and besides I reckon my friends would be done with the shower so I headed up.

Oh yeah, someone once told me that I should stop playing Baccarat, where I’m highly irrational (I go for Player 90% of the time) and suggested I switch to Roulette. Good one, that advice.

I’m quite proud of myself for pulling out with RM 1,500 (of which RM 500 was my initial bankroll e.g. my money) for a RM 1,000 nett win.

It’s not much but it’ll help me with some expenses I’ve been putting off like credit card bills. ‘Tis desperate times, my friends for me to do this. :x

genting magic

Thanks Genting! :)

My dirty little secret

pregnancy

I’ve only told a few people about this. I think I can count the number of people who knows on my fingers, until now that is. I denied it ever happened at that time, but I feel that writing about the experience can be a catharsis of sorts, and it has helped me grow and improve myself in a lot of ways.

I’ve had an abortion before.

Well, not me per se, but it was a result of my actions that led to the D&C.

That’s a nice, clean, and neat clinical term which stands for Dilation & Curettage – a medical procedure that is commonly used here for first trimester abortions by widening the cervix and surgically removing the contents of the uterus i.e. the fetus by scraping or scooping it out.

I won’t name any names, this is a highly private matter and although a lot of people go through abortions everyday and think nothing of it, I felt that this had an impact on me as I went on a bit of a self destructive rampage after that.

I was brought up as a Christian and even though I’ve moved away from the church at that time, something deep inside me still tells me it’s wrong to take a life. I’m actually pro-choice, people must have the individual rights to choose.

This is just my personal experience and opinion.


Video from Project Listen

Well, the video above is about me talking about the abortion, which has shaped me into who I am now. I’ve quit drugs and for a few years was extremely promiscuous which thankfully didn’t cause any problems health wise.

I was looking through the photos from that period and honestly am horrified at what I’ve done and the sheer amount of sexual partners I’ve had. I’ve deleted incriminating photos but I remember faces from benign photos but not their names.

I don’t regret the experience, only the people I’ve hurt.

The reason I say that I don’t regret the experience is that it has slowly made me into who I am today. I don’t have sex unless I’m in a proper relationship nowadays. It’s a conscious decision I made last year and although the first relationship after that was a disaster (the girl dumped me), I still feel that honesty and transparency is the basis of a healthy relationship.

monster

I know people will judge and gleefully try and make me into some kind of monster but I don’t care coz that isn’t true now. I won’t be defensive about it and start saying stuff like “Judge not lest ye be judged yourself” coz I understand that some people need schadenfreude – to derive pleasure from other people’s suffering.

I understand that all too well, and I guess that’s why I don’t bother defending myself against the various (and sometimes utterly ridiculous) rumors about me. I’m a better person now and although that doesn’t change what I did in the past, I’m trying my best to make amends.

I’ve been doing that since last year and I’m much better off for it. I’m more sensitive and attuned to the needs of others and I’m not a player anymore.

I am still learning to be a better person. It’s kaizen – continuous improvement – and something I’m striving for every single day.

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