Wednesday, November 26, 2003

I've set up a new email account which I'm gonna use to replace my old utk account. I was telling adrian about on Messenger and as it happens I also got to summarize my feelings about my old hotmail account.

greyhoundbus says:
greyhoundbus says: mail me anytime
adrian says: ok ok send me a mail n i'll update it
greyhoundbus says: nah i'm not gonna use this as my main just yet
adrian says: so can i ditch ur utk mail?
greyhoundbus says: i'm just setting it up for later
adrian says: ok but i'll remove ur hotmail one then
greyhoundbus says: oh definitely. why u still have that one
adrian says: so its utk main and star secondary
greyhoundbus says: yeah
adrian says: ur hotmail is listed as ur secondary mail
greyhoundbus says: its my wankers email
greyhoundbus says: wankers send me email there
greyhoundbus says: asking me to wank with them
adrian says: ok ok so i'll change the name to wankers mail
greyhoundbus says: yeah

This week has so far been a quiet one. It's always like that after something big has happened; in this case I handed in my thesis last Thursday. Right now I still have a couple of conference papers to write, and experiments to perform. There's also the problem of finding a job looming over my head. I'll get into it while I'm running those experiments and writing the papers. There's not a whole lot of time left... those phone numbers on my resume probably aren't good for much longer, which leaves me wondering if maybe I should get a cellphone. I offered a while back to mow people's lawns for money while I'm looking for a job, so I can at least live off pocket change for a bit. Unfortunately, it's winter, and there are no lawns to mow anymore. I had a phone interview with Bridgestone yesterday, which went as badly as my interviews usually do. They ask the darndest questions. " Why do you want to work for Bridgestone?" Well I don't, in particular, I just want to work. sigh... looks like I'll need to buy one of those interview books that tell you how to lie your way through these questions.

Monday evening there was a little bit of fun to be had. Me, Brent, Marci, and David had a small cookout by the Laurel apartment poolside. Actually Bryan Wang was supposed to be there, too, in fact it was his idea, but later we found out he forgot about it. He had some extra chicken from a previous cookout he wanted to use. But he forgot he was having a cookout, so he didn't show up, which is alright, since apparently he didn't know I and David were going to show up. We didn't know he wouldn't show up and he didn't know we would. Funny how that works. It's a good thing I had some frozen orange roughy I wanted to use for the grill and David brought some burger meat, or Brent and Marci would have had nothing to eat except dilly green beans and potato salad.

We got out to the poolside and if we were reasonable people who listened to our parents and wrote their advice on our hearts and abided by them even in our adulthood, it might have dawned on us that having a cookout in 35 degree windy weather in the dark of night wasn't the smartest thing to do. But nobody said that. I think, even, that Brent thought the exact opposite. This was going to be fun. Anyway, when we got down to the poolside we found out we'd forgotten to bring the spatulas, lemon pepper, olive oil, limes, aluminium foil, Dales seasoning, oh, and Marci wanted some rice cooked. So who got to grumble all the way back up to our apartment about our collective incompetence?... yep you guessed it.

While I was up in the apartment scratching my head trying to remember exactly what I'd been sent up there to do (hey, it was a Monday. The ol' brain doesn't starting grinding til Wednesday), Marci comes in, announces that it's cold outside, so she's in here, and can she help? No? She'll just sit here and watch tv, then. Alright, I tell her... just bring the rice down with you when it's done cooking, when it's done you'll hear a 'click' and the cooker will be on 'warm' instead of 'cook'. Then I went downstairs.

I found David and Brent talking next to the fire, which was started using those neat, nut-shaped lumps of coal that our grandfathers never got to use, because God in His wisdom decided it wasn't the time yet for regularly shaped lumps of coal that fit neatly in a bag and probably burn better. No, back then things tended to look rougher and more random, such that you sometimes had to look harder to figure out there is indeed order in the universe. Anyway, I looked at those lumps of coal burning in the grill, they were struggling to burn in that cold windy weather, but they were burning. It was a good, faithful fire. I thought what a neat picture that would make, and as it happened I had my camera with me (I've started carrying it around now, mostly so I have pictures to back up my semi-fictional stories on this blog). I took a couple of pictures with the flash on and off, and with the close-up feature and on plain old auto. I think the picture I've got here turned out the best. And then it was time to grill, which Brent did, mostly, since he was the grill expert in our apartment. We put the burgers on one side of the grill and the fish on the aluminium foil on the other. There wasn't a whole lot of space the the burgers were small, like Hardee's slammers. It was very cold. My fingers were turning to icicles. David was shivering all over. Brent didn't need the spatula to flip the fish. He could use his fingers just fine, it was so cold. I watched closely to make sure he didn't pick his nose in between. Brent is a big fan of nose-picking.

After a while, Brent announced we need plates to put the food on when it's done. I couldn't feel my cheeks (both kinds) anymore at this point so I didn't mind volunteering to go back upstairs at this point. I was also wondering why the rice was taking so long. I got back to the room to find that the rice was indeed done and that Marci was just tucked in warmly on our couch watching tv. Okay Marci, I said, the rice is done, time to get out and there and freeze your touche off with the rest of us. We brought the plates down and set it all up on a card table in the rec room. The fish and burgers were done soon after, and we gathered around the card table in that brightly lit warm rec room. We dug right in, and forgot to say grace, perhaps because it was already so obvious that we were plenty grateful to be out of the cold and seated in front of a meal in a warm place. Mostly I think it was just our chronic incompetence acting up again. The food was, of course, quite excellent, all the more since we suffered unnecessarily for it.

Lots and lots of pictures. Because I can. Again.

We had a practice session for the YAMs skit at Heather Grieves' house last night. Once again, I had my camera with me.

Dee drove me there since I didn't know the way, and I plopped right away on a two-seater in the living room, where Robert was also lounging on the couch. Guys know their priorities. While Dee and Heather talked in the kitchen, I noticed that the view I had would make a nice picture. So there you have it.

Post-practice, Dee Lewis had some death-by-chocolate cake, and Heather posed for a picture with a hostess-like smile.

Thanksgiving holidays have started, no one's in the lab, Nori my friend from Japan is in town, and I'll be busy entertaining him tomorrow with the Sacks. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

Monday, November 24, 2003

Sometimes, there are things that just make sense, though you don't expect them to. Right after people get prodded, they start saying "MOO".

Michaël Roy, who has been a visiting scholar at our lab for the past year and a half or so, is finally going home to France this Sunday. He had a farewell party at his apartment this past Saturday. I left somewhat early (around 11pm... French parties, I'm told, really start at midnight), but I still caught a bit of the action.

Michaël's Farewell Party

T'was the week before leaving, and all through his house
Michaël Roy partied, you should have seen him carouse
"Come everyone! There is sangria, there is wine!"
"Let us all party like it's one-nine-nine-nine!"

"Well," declared Brad "That's a stupendous idea!"
"But I can't act like a jackass with Sabrina right here."
"Oh don't worry," his wife said, "The party must thrive"
"And I'm getting sloshed anyway since you promised to drive."

"Okay then!" said Michaël, "Brad, here's your chance!"
"When you party with French of course you must dance!"
And as he did his French jig, Yohan looked on and thunk
"Yes he act stupid whenever he is drunk"

Meanwhile within their own little clique
Kevin, Lydia and Laura were discussing some serious topic
Which was apparently not a correct thing to do
Because Michaël swooped in to talk to this crew

"Hey vat is zis? You three on ze bench!"
"How dare you be boring in front of ze French?!"
"Three Americans, no-no, I know ze trick!"
"I'm replacing Laura here with Pierrick!"

And so it went on and on until late
There was laughing and drinking which was generally great
And eating and talking with friends old and new
And stuff that at parties you generally would do

The food deserves mention, there was a nice farewell cake
You could tell it took quite some loving to make
And I really need to take French lessons someday
I know "Bon voyage"... what does the rest of it say?

"Where's Brent?" Michaël asked me, "He said he would come?"
I thought so too, but later, I found him at home.
All snuggled up cozily for the rest of the night...
It's good, I guess; someone got his priorities right.


Friday, November 21, 2003

I'm going to spend some time trying to get this blog to be CSS compliant. Meanwhile, I just handed in my thesis to the graduate office yesterday. I have something to say about that, but later... for now I'm wrestling with my blog template. Yes I have a bit free time on my hands now =). In the meantime, some people are having fun getting prodded.

Update: Well I decided 100% CSS compliance is a bit of a hassle for now, simply because I'd probably need to start from the ground up, seeing as how the template I got here has so much nonsense in it already and I'm too lazy to change every single thing. Later, just not now. I did make certain improvements though. This blog is now viewable in both Mozilla and in 800x600 resolution with no problems. I'm not sure if it is viewable in both Mozilla and 800x600 resolution at the same time but that's not what I set out to do and I'm too tired to check. Now I said it's viewable, meaning you can read the posts and tag the board, but that doesn't mean there are no problems. For instance, in Mozilla I noticed I can't get the header picture to show up properly. I tried for three hours and finally said screw it. People should use IE anyway.

Oh, and here's the receipt I got from the thesis consultant yesterday:

It's not official until you get a smilie sticker, I guess.

Tuesday, November 18, 2003

If there's that certain something missing in your social life, and you're not too fussy about the sort of company you keep, do consider a career in law enforcement, because, according to Amy, "Really drunk people still try and do it with the officer".

Seriously, though, I would like to thank her for putting up the Franklin ten-codes on her sidebar. The link she'd provided before didn't seem to work and I wasn't sure the Knoxville codes were exactly the same. Aside from that, when she writes things like
" we 10-19ed to help out with the 10-24 but only after we finished with our 10-95, after which we code-3ed all the way and it was about 10:30 pm when we got there and started looking for the 10-49 that drove his 10-44 through the front door, but he wasn't there, just a buncha other cops who were 10-97 looking confused or eating donuts. '10-12? 10-12?' we asked everyone but they were all too 10-6ed to answer us..."
... when she says stuff like that, I don't feel so inadequate anymore. Thanks Amy!

"We're All Republicans Now. We've All Come Around Somehow."

Lately I've been listening to NPR, which, for those of you who aren't cool like me or who live in Malaysia (those two are not always the same thing), stands for National Public Radio. Before that, I listened to 95.3 FM. The actual name of the station eludes me right now but I think a good name would be Ultra-Conservative Christian Radio. It was fun to listen too because of how doggedly un-cool they were, as though they were trying to turn the entire youth demographic off with their sweet, soothing, wholesome Christian music, which would have bored me to tears at one point in my life, but now... now I am fascinated by how different this stuff is. You don't get this on commercial radio. You'd get crucified for putting this music on any other station that gets decent sponsorship because not only are the songs blantant and child-like in their exposition of the grace of our Lord and Saviour but sometimes they were so... bad. Not all the time, they did play some old hymns every now and then, and those are always wonderful.

But these other songs that sound like rejected Neil Diamond numbers, they were just awful. Now the message of the songs were fine, exceedingly good in fact. But the music and the way the words were put together, it was as though the performers were intent on smiting any sense of chic or taste in the listener. Hearing these songs gave me visions of hordes of Christian men dressed in tucked-in plaid shirts and pressed brown pants with suspenders, neatly combed shiny hair and thick-rimmed spectacles, sitting in the pews of their 3/4s empty churches, singing that song that I was hearing on radio, while a piano player who didn't sound proficient anywhere above 2nd grade pounded at the keys without a hint of finesse or nuance, just plain old confidence that he was hitting the right notes, at the right time, and nevermind accentuating his peformance with anything that might resemble self-expression or uniqueness because that sort of thing might lead to pride.

But I listened anyway, because I was fascinated rather than disgusted by this assault on my modern sensibilities. Part of it was I wanted some that... the confidence to express my faith without any sense of self-consciousness or fear of being herded with the rest of the flock into the 'stupid and uncool people' pasture. And who's to say a song sounds better to God when the musicians are talented or the songs are well-written... scripture says, after all that He delights in raising up the foolish, the humble, the utterly talentless. And so, that fascination with the sensibilities of the brethren with whom I have nothing in common with apart from Christ (and in whom, I'm told, we have everything in common)... that fascination was part of what made me listen to 95.3FM. I think the other part may have been Catholic guilt. Before listening to 95.3, I was listening to Wild 98.7. Hip-hop radio. Where the music was good, and the message was oh-so very bad.

And then one day, when my parents were visiting me, I said to Brent "Hey Brent I'm gonna take my parents up to Six Flags in Atlanta, wanna come?" Well at first he did, but, unsurprisingly, due to his busy life, he was forced to bail on me, but he did give me ample warning. So I told him all right, I guess I'll rent a car instead to drive up there, as opposed to just riding with him like I was planning to (my car's too crappy to make the trip). Brent says no, no take my car. Take your car? Sure take my car. Okay man if you don't mind, but you're gonna have to drive my crappy car around, so you sure? Brent shrugs the way he does and says I don't mind. Gee, thanks Brent, you're a true friend. No problem Bernard, ol' buddy, ol' pal. High five man, woo!

I take his car to Atlanta that Saturday and he gets Grover The Snivelling Tercel, which I realised halfway back from Atlanta was low on gas and I didn't give Brent the gas key. Oh well... hope he didn't get stranded somwehere. Turns out I didn't slow him down, so all was good. The next day I get into my car to go fetch my parents to wherever it was we were going that day, and turn on the radio. I realize, hey whaitaminute, this isn't 95.3 anymore. It's playing bluegrass, ewww, what the hell. Brent must have changed the channel, the bastard! Hmm actually this ain't too bad, I'll listen to it for a while. And then something called All Things Considered came on, and people started talking about... stuff. I don't quite remember what, but I remember being interested in what they were talking about, even though I knew virtually nothing about the subject. I think it was politics. All things considered indeed... they even considered schmoes like me who don't give a hoot about politics and managed to pull me in for a half hour or so. And so I kept listening, and listening, and listening. I then decided I wasn't going to bother switching to another station for a while.

So now I listen to NPR, and this is kind of where the two worlds of 95.3 and 98.7 meet. The message is a mix... mostly good I'd say, better than 98.7. The music is definitely a step up from 95.3. There's a lot of classical music, for instance... the popular secular music of centuries past, that men in wigs and frilly shirts danced to. Pretty much the hip-hop of days gone by but it sounds better because people tell you this kind of music is more difficult to play, whereas with hip-hop all you need is a dj spasming on a turntable and you've got your music. Maybe so, I wouldn't know. But at least this kind of music makes you feel smarter, and it isn't necessarily telling you to get out there and get some of that perennially hot and sweaty booty that rappers are always singing about, so you think you shouldn't just be going to Kroger, getting your groceries, and then running straight home to read for the rest of the day, rather you ought to be out on the town tracking down a couple of hos and getting jiggy with it, or something. Classical music doesn't make your life sound banal or boring. It accentuates it with a bit of class, gives it a little background mood. If you wanted to you could read to this music. You could drive to this music. You could even fantasize to this music, about hot and sweaty booty, but this music isn't insisting you do that, so you don't have to. I like that. I like not being told I'm supposed to be a horndog. I'm frequently a horndog without having to be reminded, thank you very much.

By far, though, my favorite thing to listen to on NPR, especially on Saturday afternoons when I 'm driving out to get my groceries from Kroger, is A Prairie Home Companion with Garrison Keiller. It's a variety show and you get all kinds live music, comedy skits, and fake advertisements for products that don't but maybe should exist, because those ads are so good it makes you want to go out and get something. The music is somewhat eclectic... a lot of it is gospel and folk but occasionally you get guys like Tommy Emmanuel whom you don't dare put in a box. They are, by and large, people who play real instruments, not the type you plug in; the electronica is kept to a minumum. So again, this is a different brand of music from what you're used to hearing on the American Top 40.

The star of the show, however, usually turns out to be the regulars and the host himself, Garrison Keiller, a man so precious I think he ought to be cloned and recycled everytime the last one keels over and dies. In a Christian manner of course, as far as that is possible. Garrison has this rich, deep, and dark voice that draws you in whenever he sings a song, tells a story, peforms a skit, or even hums. It's just so good you could just sit there and listen to it humming. Most people I know, I imagine, either don't mind that voice or can't resist it. I know only of one possible exception and that would be Gretchen Forsythe, but she hates NPR as a whole... it's a childhood thing so I won't hold it against her. On the show you get a variety of things on a regular basis... right now there are the Guy Noir skits, the Powder Milk Biscuit ads, The News from Lake Woebegone (did I spell that right?) the Republican jingle or whatever they call it, and of course there's that sweet little tune that they use to open the show every time. And it's all performed live every week in the fall and spring, barring extenuating circumstances... beautiful, funny stuff. So if you haven't tried it already, tune in to NPR wherever you are and give it a shot, or if you just want to cut to the chase you can go to and listen to the shows on realplayer. They've got archives dating back to 1995 up to the present, so there's a lot of stuff there you get to hear for free.

That's all I have to say about that for now.

Lots and Lots of Pictures. Because I can.

Marci and Brent's happy feet.

Brent.... eats.... leftovers??? *gasp*

Mike, and Doug and Mary Terry during last Fridays dinner at the Terry's. We played Taboo afterwards and my team lost. I'll blame Doug :p.

Me and Mary deal with pent-up bitterness from our childhood, while Doug and Mike pose for the camera.

Friday, November 14, 2003

In case you don't pay attention to Dave Barry's blog, November the 16th is World Toilet Day. Be sure to visit their website.

How Brad Starts His Day Right

Brrr. It was cold in Knoxville today. People were wearing jackets and things. Not my favorite way to start the morning, freezing my touche off the moment I step out of my blanket and hit the floor... but it gets easier as the winter goes on. Brad had a much better start though, if his story was anything to go by.

He was hungry on his way to work, so he stopped at the McDonald's on Chapman Highway. He rolls into the drive through and orders a $2 sandwich. All he has is a twenty, and when the lady at the counter brings him his change, its this obscene stack of eighteen or so dirty, crumply $1s. "Here's your change!" she says chirpily.

Brad looks at the smelly bundle, then looks up and asks "Don't you have any tens or fives?"

"No, we're all out."

"Did you look in the other cash register? Maybe there's some in there."

"No, that's all there is."

Brad's a little incredulous. "What is this, Germany after the fall?! How can you not have any proper change? You guys *just opened*."

The poor lady's a little distraught now. "... I don't know. That's all there was when I got here."

The manager hears the commotion and comes over. He asks Brad what the problem is, and Brad tells him.

"Sorry sir", the manager says, "but we don't have any tens or fives right now."

"You guys are the biggest food chain in the US, and you're telling me you don't have any change?!"

The line of cars behind Brad is starting to pile up while Brad, the manager and the lady have it out. "Well what do you want us to do?" asks the manager, who obviously majored in diplomacy.

"Well, go to Wal-Mart and get me some change." So much for diplomacy.

Finally the lady asks Brad, "Are you gonna take this change or not?!"

"No", our hero replies.

"Fine!" and the lady snatches all the bills back to put in the register.

"But I still need my change."

"What!?" The lady is in fits.

"I need my change, or I'm gonna go get the cops here and have em arrest you." Brad's grinning at this point. He's just having fun.

The tortured, abused lady starts throwing a fit, telling everyone how much she hates this job, she's gonna quit, etc, etc. The manager probably wasn't enjoying himself either. There's also a long line of cars wrapped around McDonald's at this point. The manager pleads with him one last time to please just take the change.

"Oh, all right", says Brad, pockets the change, and drives off to work.

So, whose day have you ruined today?

Thursday, November 13, 2003

What I Want To Be When I Grow Up

I'm in the wrong line of research. What I really want to do is feed beer to dogs.

There was a time, if you'd asked me, I'd tell you I wanted to be a rock star. It started as a joke at first, because, you know, why not. As it happens I think I've only used that answer here in the US. I wished I'd used it way back, when I was still in Malaysia. Being a late-teenager in a semi-urban setting in Malaysia, as it happens, probably isn't too different, in many respects, from being a teenager anywhere else. People would ask you want you wanted to be, and you were, like 17, maybe 18... something young. Your idea of planning for the future was what you're doing for lunch that afternoon. 'What do I want to be?' you'd think. Well, there was the good answer, the one that'd do your parents proud.

"I'm going to be an lawyer/brain surgeon like my parents always wanted me to. That's why I applied at *insert name of reputable institute of tertiary learning here*. I just got accepted last week, and I'm really looking forward to it."

Then there was the reasonable answer, the more likely one, and also the diplomatic one if the person you were talking to happened to be an aunt and uncle, because heaven knows they don't want you one-upping their kids too much, but at the same time you wouldn't sound like the kind of relative they'd want to disassociate from.

"I don't really know yet. I've been accepted into *insert name of institute of tertiary learning that any kid could get into provided his or her parents were willing to forego a vacation to Europe, or two*", and from there I'll try to figure out what interests me the most."

And that left open the possibility you'd pick something non-threatening like engineering or architecture, something your aunts and uncles wouldn't mind too much. And I guess I relied on the second, more reasonable answer for a while. Then I actually got into the American Twinning Programs at Metropolitan College in Subang Jaya, where I took a lot of classes, and learned many things, which would actually point me on the way to my future vocation. One thing I learned was I was no good at calculus. I already knew I sucked at Add-Math, back from my misguided days in secondary school, so it was no surprise. For a while though, I held out my hopes for calculus, because this looked like a new kind of math. There were all kinds of things I'd never heard of, like derivatives, and integration, and imaginary numbers. Cool things. Then as I got deeper and deeper into it I just realized these were the same things I'd learned in Secondary school, except they were easier back then and all the terms were in Malay. Then I started sucking at calculus the way I sucked at Add-Math, and it all went downhill from there.

But I did kinda like the programming classes, where you actually got to see things happen on screen after you typed out your program. It was like watching a mystery unravel... there was a sense of pride in knowing you'd made the computer do what you'd wanted it to, that you'd solved a puzzle with this tool. And that's what any interesting profession is, at least for me, a series of problems you've never seen before, and you've got tools to solve them and you get to see results. Except that's what math was too, so I don't know why I sucked at it. I hated it by no means... I was just bad at it. I guess I couldn't handle the heavy theoretical nature of math.

I needed to see results in the real world. Something needed to pop or fizzle or sit in place or run in circles, whatever. I always felt more comfortable when I could picture a result in my mind. But with math, all the answers I got are either numbers or equations made of numbers and letters signifying numbers you don't know. Oh dear. And those results may mean something someday but for now there is no context for those results. And those results became hard to remember, because I couldn't tell if they were important or not. It was like saying 'amen' at the end of prayers offered up in a Catholic church during mass, when some of the people who prayed were way across the room and I couldn't hear what they were saying. They could've been praying for their sick child or world peace which are good things to pray for, you should say 'amen' to that, but they just as likely could have been praying that Alien vs Predator doesn't suck when it opens next year or that cows fall from the sky, wearing parachutes. I didn't know. I just said 'amen' because everyone else in the room said 'amen', as opposed to giggling or gasping in shock.

And that's kinda like what math was to me. I learned the steps to getting a particular number out of a particular problem, as it says on page what-and-what of my textbook, and then I wrote down the steps and then put that number or equation down at the bottom of the page. And I was kinda happy everytime I got the right answer but if I looked the whole thing over, trying to divine some meaning from the long mess I'd made (my handwriting wasn't all too good... still isn't), a voice at the back of my head would sometimes ask, "Why'd you just do that?" I didn't always know. It was purely a matter of faith, a lot of times, that being able to solve those problems would come in handy in the future. Hey, I'm all about faith. I just had problems mixing church and academia back then.

But I loved solving problems. Which led me to believe I'd make a good engineer. So I started telling everyone "I'm gonna be an engineer." After a while, I can't quite remember when, I modified that to "I want to be an electrical engineer." I even started taking ECE courses when I got to UT, just to squelch any doubts or thoughts that perhaps I was really going to switch to orthodontics at the last minute. Still, though, whenever someone asked "So what are you studying at UT?" (and I met many of these people thanks to my association with the Navigators), and I told them "Electrical engineering", they would sometimes say "So, you want to be an electrical engineer?"


'Why do they ask that?' I'd think to myself. 'I mean, what does he expect me to say? "No, actually I want to be a rock star"?' And so sometimes I did say that. Jokingly, of course. But the more I thought about it... the more I realized it wasn't such a stupid question.

Did I really want to be an electrical engineer? Well, I didn't not want to be an electrical engineer, but that's not the same as wanting to be one. And the more I thought about it, the more I realized that a big part of me did want to be a rock star. I did want to write songs and get up in front of lots of people who would stand there, and cheer, and listen to my song, or sing it with me. Why not? So what if I was in the engineering program... if the question was what I wanted, then "I want to be a rock star" was as good and honest an answer as any, and maybe truer than others.

So I started meaning it when I said I wanted to be a rock star, and I think people started picking up the vibe that I wasn't joking, exactly. And word got around. And people started wanting to hear me sing. And they started asking. And asking. And then when I promised I would sing for them, they started reminding. And reminding. So Finally, one cold October evening last year, I gave a recital of the songs I written, at Dee's house, for a small gathering of friends (about 20 or so), and they liked it, and I appreciated them for that. I think, then, I stopped saying I wanted to be a rock star, because I already felt like one.

Nowadays nobody asks me what I want to be anymore. I think it's because most people assume that since I'm 25 with a masters in EE and all, I'm already an electrical engineer. I don't mind that one bit, because that's what I am and I'm proud to say so. I'd like to think, though, that there's one or two folks who liked my amatuerish and somewhat vainglorious performance so much that they'll always think of me as (in Matt Forsythe's words) Bernard: Poet of the People.

I'd quite like that.

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

MSNing with CCL

greyhoundbus says: chun liang?
greyhoundbus says: is it really you
Chun Liang Chan says: arghhh...the fat cat still reigns...
greyhoundbus says: haha
greyhoundbus says: nice shades
Chun Liang Chan says: yeah. calvin and hobbes rulz
Chun Liang Chan says: rules
Chun Liang Chan says: rulzes
Chun Liang Chan says: rulsez
Chun Liang Chan says: whatever...
Chun Liang Chan says: so whats up with you?
greyhoundbus says: i'm blogging!
greyhoundbus says: you should start a blog too
Chun Liang Chan says: right...
greyhoundbus says: we can be blog buddies
Chun Liang Chan says: well...maybe later
greyhoundbus says: why later
Chun Liang Chan says: i dont quite get the concept...
greyhoundbus says: huh
greyhoundbus says: what's the confusion
Chun Liang Chan says: well, the name for one, doesn't exactly give away much of a desction. blogging could be something I eat, or something you do in the toilet, or what happens when a plane crashes into a cow
Chun Liang Chan says: you know...
Chun Liang Chan says: its not even a word...
greyhoundbus says: hmm
greyhoundbus says: true, true
greyhoundbus says: want to know the etymology?
Chun Liang Chan says: just explain it to me in english, not entomolgish-gibberish
greyhoundbus says: ...
greyhoundbus says: well it's just short for web-log
greyhoundbus says: i guess someone got lazy and dropped the "we"
Chun Liang Chan says: ok...
Chun Liang Chan says: so what's the point
Chun Liang Chan says: of web-logging
greyhoundbus says: errr anything really
greyhoundbus says: you can blog about anything you like.... you could blog about ur music if u want
Chun Liang Chan says: cool.
Chun Liang Chan says: seems like a lot of effort for something rather minimalistic though
greyhoundbus says: huh?

We should be writing scripts for NPR.

Tuesday, November 11, 2003

I Want To Be More Like Jesus

For real. Dee's putting another play together for YAMs, and this time it's looking like I'm playing Jesus. The scenes will be the last supper and Saul's conversion. What's funny is just about everyone else on the cast is more capable of growing a beard than me. I'll be the clean-shaven Gillette Jesus! Aside from that, there's always the nagging voice at the back of my head going "You have *no* idea how to say these lines"... sigh. I wish mom was here to cook for me.

Tonite's rehearsal was fun, though. Robert as usual had a lot of input (desired or otherwise), and thanks to him we played around with the idea of Funky Jesus and His Groovy Disciples. I couldn't pull it off, though, being as unfunky as I am. Tyler did a great job with the funky accent, as did Robert. I think those two should start a comedy troupe. After the shenanigans, we did manage to get a mostly serious run through the whole script (a fine effort by Dee btw).

For once, we have more than two weeks to prep for a YAMs play, which is good, since I get to memorize all the lines that Dee is throwing at me. Once I'm done in Knoxville, I would have mastered the painful art of scene-chewing, I'm sure =p. I'm tempted to go see The Gospel Of John first (I think it just came out in theaters), just to see a more experienced thespian handle the role. In any case, if all else fails, I could always slip in lines like "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? Yo, dawg, that ain't cool."

Monday, November 10, 2003

Brent's birthday continued well after he'd expected it to end, because his office co-workers threw a party for him right after he got back. When he finally got home, he found Rachel watching The Simpsons with me because she was waiting to give him the present she'd bought. Aaaw. But poor Brent looked like he'd had enough birthday for one day. Maybe next time we should stretch it out over a week.

I met with the thesis consultant today, and now I'm swamped with thesis formatting corrections... these are becoming harder to do than the actual content. The margins needed adjusting, which threw all the figures out of alignment, and so I'm having to fit them in properly again. On top of that are a million other things she pointed out that needed fixing... All that adds up to a very blah day, so I'll just type out the recipe for the salmon pasta I made last night.

Apathetic Salmon Pasta


Salmon (duh)
Spaghetti pasta (enough for whoever)
Garlic (sliced or chopped, probably doesn't matter)
Olive Oil (whatever you have left in the bottle should work)
Salt (as you like)
Lime Juice (like, from a lime)

Olive Oil (like before)
Oregano (why not)
Dill Weed (how ever much looks right)
Lime juice (from about half a lime, or something)
Salt (if you want)
Lentils (anything from 10 to 500 of em... i don't care)
Garlic (chopped or smashed, you know)

In a baking pan, put a little piece of foil paper, enough to put the fish on and then some, and fold up the sides. Pour in enough olive oil to just cover the base of the foil. Rub some lime juice and salt onto the salmon's skin side and then place it in the pan, skin down. Rub some olive oil and salt onto the flesh side of the fish and place the garlic evenly on the flesh. Heat up the oven to 350 and put the pan in. Take it out after twenty minutes.

Boil the lentils in shallow water for about 10-15 minutes. Brown the garlic in olive oil. Throw all the sauce ingrdients in after that, including lentils, and wait for it to thicken on a medium heat. Boil the pasta til its ready. Throw the sauce on, toss, and voila. Your apathetic salmon pasta is ready.


Sunday, November 09, 2003

I just got back from Brent's weekend birthday bash. He turned 30 today, which made it a very special occasion! We had dinner at The Boathouse in Asheville, and the food was excellent. Brent's steak, which he let me sample, was fantastic. My atlantic salmon with basil pesto wasn't bad either. After that, I joined Brent, Marci, Kevin, Lydia, Doug, Mary, Matt, Gretchen, David Kendall, and Andrius for a campfire. The Terrys and Forsythes went home that night, but the rest of us stayed to camp. I only just got back from camping, so I'm a little tired. But it was a very very good time. Hopefully, Kevin Zinn puts up pictures soon...

Bernard Is Too Sleepy And Hungry To Make Fun Of Anything

Sunday, Nov 9, 2003, KNOXVILLE: After a weekend of celebration and outdoor fun, Bernard Ng came home and sat in front of his computer with the intent of updating his weblog, only to realize that he was too tired to write anything even remotely amusing.

"It was a sham", Mr Ng said, "I sat there for a good half hour, checking my email, surfing the web, and waiting for Adrian to log onto MSN messenger to say something that looks funny out of context, like he usually does.... nothing. Nothing at all. Nothing inspired me or looked funny. I blamed it on sleepiness at first. Then I saw Amy's post where she says "Today's story is brought to you by hunger...", and then I figured it might be that too. I've had four bananas, three whole wheat pancakes for breakfast, and then ramen and steamed vegetables for lunch, and now it's 5 o'clock and I'm hungry again. I wish mom was here to cook for me."

Witnesses at Mr Ng's Lab claim that during the time he spent there, from approximately 4:00pm to 5:30pm in the afternoon, he reacted grumpily to inquiries and was skimming through what were apparently scans, in jpg format, of Hong Kong-produced comicbooks. Occasionally he would mumble audibly to himself and make sudden, violent gestures to no one in particular. After 5:30pm, he went home.

Labmate Michaël Roy was noticeably agitated. "Ce gars est effrayant…", he said, "Il doit avoir son café du matin, sinon ça va pas le faire !".

None of the lab's faculty members could be reached for comment.

Friday, November 07, 2003

Well, it's official: 10-1 is Amy's weblog. Today, she tells us about how not to get busted and the incorrect way to respond to getting busted. Cops telling potheads how to behave... what will they think of next?

LCK's Grand Purpose In Life, Part II
This is what LCK is building:

"Gerbang Perdana" means Prime Gateway. In LCK's own words: "this is what we are trying to construct. the 1st 2 pictures u put up on your blog page is the leaf truss which will be supporting the roof structures. on the scale model, the leaf trusses are the ones on both sides (left & right) of the main building."

From what I can tell from the article, this thing is intended to be the new customs, immigration and quarantine (CIQ) complex for the Integrated Southern Gateway project in Johor Bahru, which will be the new entry point that stands between Singapore and Malaysia. However, immigration business is not all that this is being built for, not with all the recent disputes with Singapore over water prices and ownership of small rocks with lighthouses on them. In addition to all the usual office space and high-security strip-search areas, the Gerbang Perdana will also house and be capable of firing ground-to-ground missiles at our neighbour's most vital strategic targets (Orchard Road and every major DKNY outlet) should they attempt any acts of hostility. In the event of a full-scale invasion from our presumptuous Singlish-spouting friends, the Gerbang Perdana will transform into a 1500-foot robot, dubbed Immigration Prime, that will fight in the defense of our great nation. The Singaporeans will most likely just laugh at our thousand-ton monstrosity and put an end to its cumbersomely impractical existence by blowing it's legs apart, or - God forbid - running around it. But we're building this thing anyway... because Malaysia Boleh.

Artist's conception of the Gerbang Perdana in robot form towering thriumphantly over the Singapore skyline.

This is Your Brain Under An American-Led Occupation
My earliest big exposure to the world of blogging was probably Salam Pax's blog. Also known as the Baghdad Blogger, Salam Pax gained a small measure of fame for his first-hand, candid observations before, during, and after the American invasion of Iraq. Lately, his blogging has been somewhat sporadic. But his latest blog entry got me wondering... "what's he smoking?"

Thursday, November 06, 2003

'A' has started a weblog! Who is 'A'? Well, it's either Amy the Cop, Adrian the Palm Tree, or some random person I've never met, though that's unlikely, as far as I can tell. If it's Amy (more likely, since the weblog doesn't attribute blame to ber*nerd*), then we can expect to hear stories of Franklin's granny-shoving deviants straight from the horse's mouth. If it's Adrian (he learned to spell my name... yay), then we'll hear stories of minimum-wage life in Malaysia and all the fun travesties of existence that come herewith. If it's some random person... errr more power to you?

LCK's Grand Purpose In Life

My friend Low Chun Kiat, who's a civil engineer in Johor Bahru (I think) sent me these two pics of what I assume is a project he's working on. OK LCK, but do tell us what this... thing... is.

Pak Lah Gives His First Press Conference As PM.

"DUDE... GET A BREATHMINT": Pak Lah chastices reporters for their lack of oral hygiene during his first press conference as Prime Minister.

From The Star: "Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has directed government departments to cut red tape and strengthen the civil service to fight corruption and deliver quality service to the rakyat.
The Prime Minister proposed that each ministry set up a task force to look at ways to reduce bureaucracy in all departments under them because inefficiency could breed corruption.
He also directed the re-engineering of all district offices and local councils to rid them of “unwieldy bureaucratic procedures” that could tempt people to commit bribery."

I'm glad to hear that. Hope something comes of it!

Wednesday, November 05, 2003

My good friend Ryu has agreed to take some time off his vigorous training schedule, which involves climbing cliffs and meditating amongst falling leaves and waterfalls, to sit up there behind my site and look out at visitors with a very very pissed expression. Feel free to *beg for your miserable life* or *point and laugh* before you look at everything else. Ryu doesn't like to be ignored.

Ryu's Bio

Name: Ryu. Just Ryu. (Pronounced 'Roo')
Marital Status: Single
Occupation: No official occupation. As far as most people can tell, he's a hobo.
Hobby: Streetfighting
Likes: Meditating on the true meaning of 'Fight'.
Dislikes: Long-term goals, apparently.

Ryu is the premier karate-man-in-a-karate-gi of fighting games. Ever since his appearance in the groundbreaking, coin-gobbling Streetfighter II, he has been the target of numerous knock-offs, vying for a piece of his glory. Everything the man does has been copied in some form or other by other fighting-game hero wannabes: his clothes, his techniques, even the way he yells his moves everytime he performs them, with total abandon, void of self-consciousness or thoughts of "gee, I must sound silly sometimes".

Because of Ryu, just about every fighting game in existence today has a character that throws a projectile, performs an anti-aerial uppercut, or has a technique that's performed using the ubiquitous forward,down,down-forward joystick motion. Because of Ryu, kids all over the world in the early nineties confused their parents by screaming "Aaaaaare yooou Ken?!" before laying the smackdown on their play buddies, even when said buddies were named Ah Beng or Timothy or something that resembled 'Ken' not in the least. Because of Ryu, the sales of white karate gis goes up any time there's a gamers convention or city parade that gives videogame fans an excuse to get crazy.

But enough about his fans and imitators... what of the man himself? Ryu's personality can be described as quiet, thoughtful, and resolute. It is this last trait that has made him one the greatest fighters, if not the greatest, in videogame history. He is pure, focused, and single-minded in his pursuit to unify his mind, body and technique. He does not fight to win... he fights to understand the true nature of the fight.

The best way to understand Ryu, though, is not by examining his philosphy, but by looking at the company he keeps. To summarize:

Ken: Blonde, American, and decidedly louder than his brother-in-training, Ken had been with Ryu right from the beginning, training under the same master at a secluded dojo in Japan. While Ryu has always been more conserved and strategic in his approach to fighting, Ken has never balked at attacking right from the get-go, and sho-ryu-kenning three times in a row even when there's nobody there to hit. He of the Funky Kicks and the Shin-OhMyLordDidYouSeeThat-Ryuken could always be relied on to keep Ryu or any other opponent on his/her toes with his relentless assault of high-damage combos. He is also filthy rich, being the son of a billionaire. In spite of his millions, however, he has only worn one thing on the battlefield: his tattered red karate gi.

Sakura: A normal, teenage schoolgirl who one day sees Ryu fighting in a duel, Sakura develops an instant crush on our hero and decides to get his attention by... becoming a streetfighter! Donning a headband and focusing her mind, she achieves the impossible, creating her own rough derivations of Ryu's moves with no external help whatsoever, as well as various techniques of her own (many of which, conveniently, allows any onlookers a generous view of her knickers). She now pursues Ryu wherever he goes, hoping one day that he will take her on as his apprentice, if you *wink-wink* know what I mean.

Um, and that's it really. Make of that what you will.

Unnecessary Hypothetical Situation #1
Suppose Ryu met Scooby-Doo and Shaggy and they didn't know who Ryu was. Their conversation might go something like this:

Scooby: Who are roo?
Ryu: That's grammatically incorrect. You should say "Who is Ryu?"
Scooby: Hrrr?
Shaggy: Don't blame him Scoob. He's Japanese, and he's trying to tell us how to speak English! Hey, can you say 'All your base are belong to us?'
Scooby: Ehehehehehehe!
Shaggy: Bwahahahahaha!
Ryu: Shinkuuu..... HADOOOKEN!!!
Scooby and Shaggy: Aiiiiieeeee!!!!!!.............

...And that wraps up our introduction Ryu. Til next time!

Tuesday, November 04, 2003

"Don't Ask Silly Questions, I Won't Play Silly Games..."

Since about the middle of summer, I've been reading Stephen King's The Dark Tower series. I've enjoyed it very much, and it has turned out to be more fun to read than Harry Potter, so much so that it is my official reason for not having read The Order Of The Phoenix yet. The *real* reason is I've forgotten what happened in the four Harry Potter books prior. Some may suggest I go back and re-read those four books, to which I say: "Bring on the movies!". And while I'm on that subject, has anyone else noticed that, in the early production stills from Prisoner of Azkaban, Emma Watson is starting to look really cute?


Yes, well, back to the topic. The Dark Tower is really good, and I'd recommend it to anyone who hasn't heard of it yet and doesn't mind diving into a good helping of fantasy/horror schlock. Yes, schlock. I mean, that's what it is... but it's *fun* schlock, so don't let that categorization deter you. Stephen King has created an interesting cast and constructed a fascinating world for them to do stuff in. He's also spun a pretty good quest yarn, so far, which is a good thing, since LOTR would have been much less interesting if all Frodo and Co. did was hunt mushrooms and listen to Aragorn sing. Thankfully, The Dark Tower's gunslinger and friends (or ka-tet as he calls them) do a whole lot more than shroom and sing. In fact, they don't hardly ever sing, which gives them a one-up on everyone's favorite elf-smitten hero.

I say 'so far' because, as many fans know, the full series hasn't been released yet. The Dark Tower series is something like 20+ years old now... the first book (The Gunslinger) came out in 1980 or thereabouts, and the fourth one (Wizard and Glass) in 1996. That's an awful long wait for fans for the series, which is why I count myself lucky to have only gotten into the books this year, the year that Stephen King has announced the last three books in the series are finished.

Yup! Book 5, Wolves of the Calla is out in bookstores, and both Book 6:The Song of Susannah and Book 7:The Dark Tower will be released next year. So if you are one of those poor folk who were kept waiting since Wizard and Glass came out six years ago, and you've been living under a rock since then, (and the first thing you did when you crawled out of that rock was find an internet connection and come to this site... um, good for you!) I'm letting you know that now's the time to jump back in!

"I do not aim with my hand.
He who aims with his hand has forgotten the face of his father.
I aim with my Eye.
I do not shoot with my hand.
He who shoots with his hand has forgotten the face of his father.
I shoot with my Mind.
I do not kill with my hand.
He who kills with his hand has forgotten the face of his father.
I kill with my Heart."
--The Gunslinger's Catechism, by Stephen King

Monday, November 03, 2003

Admission Standards At Harvard Must Be Dropping

My friend Amy has had quite a few run-ins with the interesting and highly-educated folk of Franklin, TN, since she started her stint as a cop. Her favorite story (I think): One night she hauls in an obviously smashed 20-something fellow to court for public intoxication. The dude, still thoroughly wasted, claims, among other things, to be a student at Harvard (apparently all drunks claim to be attending some prestigious law school when facing the magistrate).

When the magistrate tells him he needs to pay the bond agency 10% of $500 so he won't have to sit in a cell until his court date, he replies something along the lines of "Whuzzat?".

Just about any high-school dropout should be able to tell you what 10% of $500 is, so the magistrate says "I thought you went to Harvard."

"Yeah... but not for *math*."

Sunday, November 02, 2003

Hi Adrian!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

So what else is there to do on a Sunday?

Adrian's MSN Quote Of The Week: "hmm not sure if the gyros can compensate u when ur making out."