Monday, 3 December 2012

Life of Pi

This is one of the movies that caught my attention a few months ago, when the trailer was shown at the cinema. The picture looked great, especially the scenes at the sea. But I suspect the storyline might not be that strong.
So last weekend I had the opportunity to go and see it, after a while of 'movie drought'. I wanted to see the 3D one, because again I suspect the strength of the movie is on the special effects and cinematography. But it was sold out. So we opted for the normal one instead. As expected, it was an 'OK' movie if based solely on the story. It was one of the 'feel-good', 'not too heavy' kind of movie. But the pictures were amazing, made for 3D screening. It was so colourful, filled with heart warming scenes of the friendship between Pi and the Bengal tiger in the middle of the ocean.
Overall it was not too bad, even though not in eye popping 3D. But I wouldn't mind watching it again, in 3D of course! Or maybe I should buy the book. I heard it is a best-seller. Buying the book will probably take some time, as I will have to drop by the nearest bookstore, physically. That is without the guarantee it is in stock. How I wish we have the efficiency of here...

Next movie in line, The Hobbit!

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Short break

I have not been writing new posts for a while. Currently a bit occupied with teaching, administrative and research responsibilities. It is also near the end of the year, which is the busiest period in the life of a worker with KPIs to meet. Hope to get some new ideas on what to write soon. Keep checking!

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Another smooth weekend passed by

It's Sunday evening. And that marks another smooth weekend passed by. Well not smooth as in I did not do anything at all. I did a few things worth doing, but not notable enough to earn an entry on its own.

First of all there was a power outage yesterday around my neighbourhood. Not just a short one which can be ignored of course. It started around 10 am and lasted till after lunch. By that time our house was starting to turn into one big steaming hot oven! Annoyed by the lack of notice being given by the the power provider TNB, my housemate and me decided to give their helpline a call. As usual the call was greeted by a robot, and after a short while I got to speak to an officer. I told her what's wrong (still keeping my composure), and she got back saying that supposedly there is a scheduled maintenance being carried out from 10 am to 7 pm. What??! A maintenance that long and we were not even given a sentence of advanced notice! They have got to be kidding me. Fortunately, the officer seems well trained, and her professionalism shines when apologising for the lack of notice (or in fact she said there was, but it got lost somewhere in the cascade). And I thought there was no use shouting at her, calmed down, and started thinking how to spend the day with the sun starting to shine brightly outside...  It is worth mentioning that the weather is somewhat very hot and sunny these few days. I am not a big fan of heat, but I always enjoy sunshine. It gives me some kind of energy to get through the day. And that proves that I am a true Malaysian! Other than that, Saturday went by uneventful.

I also spent the weekend reading, and on my current reading list is a thick book (by my standard, three books in one in fact) by Haruki Murakami. I first heard his name from one of my former colleagues when I was in London. I did not pay too much attention to this author at that time. And not too long after that, I glanced through an article on BBC News website mentioning a latest book by Murakami, and how it is a much-awaited book by many people. Again, I did not pay much attention. Might just be another Japanese author I thought. But only recently, when I was paying a visit to a Kinokuniya bookstore with A, that suddenly his name came up in mind, and I decided to try to buy and read his latest book titled 1Q84. And guess what, I can say this is the best book that I have ever read! It is very difficult to describe my feeling when I first started reading it. At some point I thought that this book is sooo weird that I should stop reading it. But it keeps on calling me, and now I am halfway through. Sometimes I just can't put it down, I have to really convince myself that I have something else to do. Definitely I will be looking for more Murakamis after this. But before that, I need to find out what's going to happen to Tengo and Aomame and Fuka-Eri and the Little People first!

Friday, 1 June 2012

Post lecture period

Yesterday was my last lecture for the semester. Relieved to have done my duty to the students, but worried at the same time of leaving them to study by themselves for the final exam at the end of the month. Well I just hope they are doing their best with whatever I have given them.

A quick follow-up to the previous post on the civil servant induction exam. I heard everyone passes, though the official result did not state that explicitly. If that is the only result, then it just said I have successfully completed the induction programme (that's all after all the 'hard work'?). Anyway, time to move on :D

Early last month (yes that's May), I had the chance to attend my graduation ceremony in London. The timing was not so convenient though, as it was in the middle of the semester. Meaning I had to cancel lectures. Not something that I like to do. But my mum had been looking forward to this since I was still studying, plus it was going to be her only trip to the UK, I made the effort to re-schedule lectures for that whole one week. As always, the flying part was not the most enjoyable one. Fortunately, as I requested wheelchair assistance for my mum, it became the smoothest and the best trip I have ever had to the UK, and back. This is in terms of boarding the flight and going through the immigration (everyone knows how it is at Heathrow!). Not to mention the ultra-super-duper-helpful Malaysia Airlines crew members, and the KLIA ground crew. They deserve a biggg appreciation from me! In the end, the graduation ceremony went well, took my mum sightseeing here and there, I hope she was happy. I considered that as my Mother's Day treat for her :)

Watching movies on the in-flight entertainment system is nothing like in the cinema, not even close, even far from watching DVDs on the Mac. But without a doubt MAS has quite a selection of good and latest movies. Over the long journey, I managed to watch, err maybe more than five movies. From what I can remember: The Grey, Albert Nobbs, Chronicle, Just for Laughs episodes... But what has made the most impact on me is the movie Extremely Loud & Incredibly Noisy, starring Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock among others. Watching it kept taking me back to the book by Mark Haddon - The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nightime! The style of the story being unfold is very similar, especially both main characters in the movie and the book are kids. 

Watching drama-type movie on the plane is not easy, given the loud humming sound of the plane's engines. And the headphone supplied is not the 'noise-cancelling' type (which I reckon is gonna be very expensive!). So I had to push the phones harder closer to my ears in order to listen to the conversations. Probably about time MAS to include English subtitles as well (pleasee....). But surprisingly I was able to follow the movie and understand the story. This time I am not going to write much about the movie itself. Enough said that I really love it, and this is among the few drama-type movies that I like. Usually I need a push to make me watch this genre, as most of the times I prefer loads of CGIs and special effects. I guess boredom is the factor this time ;)

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Back to work, and a quick movie review

I have just finished a three-week so called "Induction Programme" specifically for civil servants waiting for confirmation of their current position. Overall it was a fun programme. Despite the intense lectures and talks on the systems adopted by the university, we were also expected to know how the country is managed. More so on the governance part. To make it more interesting, we have to sit for an exam (which is going to be in few days time, wish me luck!), which if we did not pass, we have to re-sit for the three-week programme again O_O'!

Well it was not too bad after all. I made some new friends from different faculties and departments, had the chance to do aerobics, a cycling session with the uni top managements (love this!), and also the chance to show the creative part of us. But most importantly, it makes me one better employee. But it depends on how the exam goes, which I will write about it after that.

Other than that, not too long time ago, I had the chance to see a local movie called "Bunohan". They said it is the name of a village in Kelantan (my hometown!) near the Thai border. But I have to admit I have never heard of the village until they made the movie. It was widely touted as a "local movie with a different twist". So I decided to give it a go, other than being "talked" into it by somebody ;)

Though not comparable to movies from the West, it really has something to ponder upon. The whole movie was shot in or around the village, and everyone speaks the local dialect (which I really enjoyed) though some actors obviously worked hard to get the feel of the accent. They can be commended on that. And you don't really see many girls in it, except for one main actress that does not talk a lot. Anyway the whole movie was about a village boy-turned boxer in Thailand ran away from a match, and his elder brother was sent to assassinate him. So in the quest to look for his younger brother, you could see all the village life, family feud, the hunger for money that turned a son into a murderer and many more. Though the plot is not too difficult to be understood, I did fail to connect a few parts with the whole story. Maybe because the movie is more of an 'artsy' movie and I am not very much so :) But I love arts. Overall it was a good watch, quite a different genre to what I am used to. See below for trailer.

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Showering with yeast!

I just found out that my favourite shower gel contains the products of yeast fermentation. Sounds gross! It is specifically Zink/Saccharomyces ferment and also Magnesium/Saccharomyces ferment. I reckon it is the fermentation products of the yeast Saccharomyces in the presence of those compounds.

I have never seen them in any products that I used before. But surprisingly Google says it is widely-used in cosmetic products. And furthermore it says they absorb into the skin. Probably helping with the moisturising and retaining skin moisture (?). But I noticed that the shower gel also produces more lather (bubbles) than others.

No side effects so far to me, but I would like to know more of which species of Saccharomyces that they used for that purpose. Hopefully not the cerevisiae one...

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Sunday's Agenda

Finally after being hampered by bad weather for several Sundays, I managed to gather all the strength needed and went jogging this morning, given the lovely sunny weather. My stamina has been going from bad to worse lately, and I know that I must do something to get back on track.

As early as 8 am, I drove to the nearest park, which is the Hutan Bandar Mutiara Rini (Mutiara Rini Urban Forest) about 5-10 minutes drive from home. Once there, I was surprised to see so many people jogging, light walking, picnicking with family members. It was good to know that Malaysians, especially JB/Skudai residents are so health conscious. They even wake up that early just to do that. Looking at the public preference for such an open space, I can't help but thinking that the authorities should provide more of such parks. We in this country is not yet short of empty spaces. The Hutan Bandar itself is almost at its full capacity. Perhaps a proper, well-maintained park for each new housing development is not a bad idea. Other than for public health and aesthetic reasons, I could also boost local economy and increase liveability of the surrounding area. There's nothing to lose to have more parks and gardens built.

As for my stamina, it's building up at a very, very slow pace...


Saturday, 25 February 2012

Saturday's Agenda

It's weekend again!
What's your weekend activities? Well, mine include a quick jog in the morning (weather and mood permit),  a whole-week laundry, an afternoon nap (though I have been trying to cut this down lately, maybe with a help of a cup of Kenco), and a good meal in the evening. The difference between the last one, and the regular evening meal during weekdays is that I don't have to rush to eat my meal on my home from work. So more time to savour the foods.

This week there's an addition to the activities, i.e. morning/midday BBQ. This is my first morning/midday BBQ, by the lake in the campus. Not the big one by the main entrance, this is the other one far inside next to the Health Centre. It is quite a nice area tbh. Even though I drive passed the area sometimes, I never stop by to admire it before. But swimming is prohibited!

I just saw a trailer for an upcoming movie, another masterpiece by Studio Ghibli, dubbed by Disney. I knew that it was Ghibli looking at the animation style. The trailer link is down there. I would love to see it, if they show it here. Anyway I have been a big fan of Spirited Away and Totoro. The new movie is called The Secret World of Arrietty. It seems like Ghibli is never short of 'quirky' ideas. Watch the trailer and you'll see what I mean. Have a nice weekend!

Thursday, 26 January 2012

MOHE Scholarship

Latest scholarship opportunity from the Malaysian Ministry of Higher Education for pure science grads (Phys, Chem, Bio, Math). A commendable effort by the Ministry to boost the number of scientists in the country. I think this is the right trend towards being a developed country, by increasing the number of experts in the basic science areas. Deadline 15 February 2012.
Link to application portal

Sunday, 1 January 2012

Malaysian Tigers, very appropriate

I just read off NatGeo December 2011 today that Malaysia has the second largest population of wild tiger (Panthera tigris) in the world, after India. Thus it is undoubtedly appropriate for our national football team to use the nickname 'Malayan Tigers'. Despite the dwindling number of the cats in the wild, I hope the converse is true for the spirit of our football team. Keep the 'roar' loud and proud Malayan Tigers!

But the struggle to find a way to avoid further clashes between wild tigers and human is still on-going. With more and more virgin forests cleared to give way to plantations, we are limiting the resources for the animal. This is probably why at one time news on tiger attack on humans made multiple headlines in the country. It is not so much of a problem lately (from the absence of latest news pertaining), but that does not mean the tigers have stopped the attacks. Either they have been hunted down out of revenge, or being forced out of the current habitat to other tiny patches of undisturbed land, only the tigers know...