Sunday, June 29, 2008

Open Sauce

kc says:
actually on both computers ff3 crashes a little more than ie
kc says:
kc says:
oh well
kc says:
i should continue my blind faith for open source
kc says:
kc says:
lets design some sauces
kc says:
start a webpage
kc says:
and market them as open source sauces
kc says:
complete with recipe

cong says:
yeah we should..
cong says:
then some people will complain that we're not standard compliant
cong says:
since we're using proprietary products like erm.. soya sauce

kc says:
kc says:
we'll use non trademarked soya sauce!

cong says:
hmmmm that's still not open source.. and that meant region specific compiles/cooking will result in incompatible tastes
cong says:
we're to incorporate widely available commercial sauces
cong says:
and thus be labelled a sellout by those who grow their own soy beans

kc says:
kc says:
in that case
kc says:
we'll just use different ingredients
kc says:
they cant bitch about sugar and msg right?

cong says:
msg is like redhat.. there's a commercial supported edition and there's the open source formula.. ie. monosodium glutamate
cong says:
i guess thats on the right side of the grey area

kc says:
kc says:
kc says:
so if we break down the ingredients to molecular level we'll be truly open sauce

Friday, June 27, 2008

Into the wind

The fighter jets are at it again. It's the time of the year again. They're flying really low and really fast over my estate in aerobatic formation, in practice for the National Day Parade.

First, you hear that eerie low whine reminiscent of air strikes in those World War II war movies. Then it gets louder and higher (Doppler effect, remember?) until it reaches a crescendo, and at that very split second, you see the F16s in formation zooming past. Then the decrescendo and the lowering in pitch again.

Still makes me wonder, is it worth the risk of crashing into a built-up city (unlikely though) and the cost of all that fuel that pours through those jet engines? Not to mention, the wear and tear on the engines and the airframes.

I guess they'd just have to do it, simply because most of the other countries with significant air forces have their own aerobatic teams. Peer pressure at an international level, eh?

And on the ground, with thousands of metres of air in between, there's me, manoeuvring my bicycle through crowded cycle path traffic, pretending I'm one of those pilots in Red Bull Air Race, dodging the joggers (what the effing hell are doing on the cycle path?) and slowpokes on creaky bikes with deft and quick (but yet, small and controlled) steering adjustments on the handlebars. Just like a fighter jet pilot with his control yoke, cleverly controlling all the many flight controls as though they are extensions of his own body.

I reach a clear straight, and put all my energy into the pedals, watching the numbers on my speedometer surge in multiples of 2. Maybe - just maybe - any faster, and I might possibly get airborne with a swift pull on my handlebars.

And it's 2 oncoming joggers side-by-side, oblivious to the speed at which I'm barrelling towards them, deaf to the frantic bell-ringing. I grip the brakes with all my fingers, right thumb thumbing down the gears to get ready for another quick launch.

The 2 oblivious joggers move aside, obviously either too apathetic/ignorant/stupid to realise that they're risking their lives on a cycle path. My legs spin up and the wind screams in my ears yet again, while I slice through the bend with just enough braking to get me by safely.

Then I coast to the end of the path. It's a pretty skillful trick to slow down with just your own air resistance. You gotta be familiar with the path, and be adept at knowing when to stop pedalling - depending on the wind conditions. It's a tailwind today - I stop pedalling a little earlier than usual. If you're going too fast, and you stand up high against the wind to increase drag. Too slow, and you crouch low and spin the pedals a couple of times. Just like an aircraft and how the pilot handles the spoilers and throttles to craft his perfect landing.

And I make it to the end of the path at just a little more than walking speed. Feather the brakes lightly, and I'm done. Brake pads last really, really long in my hands.

It's just another typical ride through the park for me.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

I <3 beer

When I drink alcohol, people will ask.

"Oh so you went partying?"
"Nah I was at home."
"What's the occasion?"
"No occasion. I just wanted a beer."
"Drowning your sorrows eh?"
"Urm, no?"

Am I the only one who puts the same kind of connotations to a can of beer as I would to a can of Coca Cola/Pepsi (depending on which way you lean)? Like, beer is cold. Beer is refreshing. Beer tastes good. Beer makes me happy.

Rather than beer being a drug you use to avoid reality, as akin to marijuana and cocaine? Beer is intoxicating. Beer is addictive. Beer is harmful for you. Beer makes you a sad alcoholic.

What's up with all the bad rep that alcoholic beverages had gathered in the last century?

In 1997, the World Health Organisation concluded that the reduced risk from coronary heart disease was found at the level of one drink consumed every second day. -BBC

Drink in moderation. It's good for you. And never, never drink and drive.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Melbourne Musings

I like Melbourne, and the rest of the Victoria that I've been to.

In Melbourne:
1. You could walk through crowded streets and not get your shoulders brusied violently by people who just brush across rudely. And oh, they all walk on the left of the pavement!

2. People are friendly and warm. And when the chef asks you how the food was, they really, honestly do want to know. And they'll make conversation if they have the time.

3. The food! The food! The standard of restaurants there is mindbogglingly good. If Singapore calls itself the food capital of South East Asia, then Melbourne is more than worthy to call itself the food capital of Australia. Cheap, fresh produce galore. Milk. Oranges. Yoghurt (the yoghurt there is so awesome I ate it everyday). Beef. Cheese. Honey. All of which, I love to bits. For all that, I'd happily contend with expensive papayas and pineapples and watermelons and bad chicken rice.

4. Bicycling culture! Drivers overtake bicyclists safely. Bike lanes and proper cycling routes are literally everywhere. And cyclists are safe and well-behaved, unlike in Singapore where headlights are a rarity and most cyclists making a fool of themselves riding on the pavements, riding against traffic, ignoring traffic rules, etc. It's true. Victoria has half the number of cyclist deaths per million people as compared to Singapore.

5. At least 3 decent contemporary English language music radio channels. And they play music that's way closer to my taste than Singaporean radio. Especially Triple M. When was the last time you heard Foo Fighters and Ben Folds in addition to Coldplay interviews in Singapore?

6. It's easier to communicate with others, when there's only English to worry about. I admit it. My pathetic Mandarin and inexistent knowledge of other dialects, Malay and Tamil makes it difficult for me to understand the older people in my own country.

7. When you're in Melbourne you continually get the feeling that the government cares for its people. Scaffoldings at construction sites are securely constructed (prolly strict laws on that), public parks are artistically done and immaculately maintained, road signs actually tell you WHY you shouldn't be doing 70 in this 40 zone (sharp right bend ahead). And such signage could have had saved these 2 guys in Singapore. Rules are only meaningful to one if one understands why they are there.

8. Excellent labour laws. People get paid proper minimum wages so that they can actually afford basic accomodation. (In Singapore, we're seeing a trend where a humble room rental can cost more than the salary of many blue-collar workers.) And they can strike or make use of other industrial action as a proper negotiation tool. Sure, it might disrupt public services for a while, but surely you don't want a situation where workers are disgruntled and angry and unmotivated, with no way to negotiate for better work conditions. What if YOU are the Mcdonalds worker who's only paid $3.50/h? With Big Macs costing more than the hourly pay, surely they could - and should - pay the workers more fairly. But without any recourse for the workers, there's no incentive for the Goliath to treat the Davids decently.

9. Coffee drinking culture!

10. The usuals - free media (being able to read something other than 'oh everything is rosy in where we live, but strife is happening in other countries' every morning is something I appreciate), more reasonable work hours, a more relaxed pace of life.

Sure, it's not all pros. I know the property prices can be scary there (edited: I googled property prices in Melbourne, and all I got were Singaporean news articles stating it's worse over here). Public transportation isn't as well-connected. Eating out isn't cheap. Less Singaporean food. The locals there won't be as cordial to you just because of race. (Can't blame really, I'm prolly way more racist than them.) Jobs aren't easy to find.

Oh well, but really, it's about the soft warm factors like a lifestyle suited to your personality, rather than the hard cold factors like money eh? When a human's basic requirements such as food, rest and lodging are met, it's all about the soft warm factors to make one happy.

It seems Australia suits me more than Singapore. And not just me, but many people I know. And the government still wonders why so many Singaporeans are flocking abroad?

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Melbourne Day 5: Finale

Last day, last minute shopping.

Walked to Queen Victoria market to get some last minute spoils - nougats mainly. And a throwing boomerang and some small trinkets.

So it's Aussie chocs, nougats, cheese, wine and clothing that will be filling up our baggage.

Had time to spare so went to a cafe in Hardware Lane to chill. Coffee and pastries in cafes cost quite alot less in Melbourne than in Singapore. And with way better taste too.

Off to the Melbourne Tullamarine Airport.

The check-in queue was a bitch. Changing shifts, and many counters were closed.

Customs was a bitch. Was randomly selected for a pat-down and proper metal detector scan.

Waiting for the pilots (they were en route on another flight) for an hour after boarding the plane was a bitch.


If it's any consolation, being on the above plane would cost $150 more and with not as stellar flight timings.

Food was a bitch. The wine wasn't too bad - it happened to be the exact one I bought and drank in Australia at Morington Peninsula's T'Gallant winery.

Beautiful sunset. Could see the orangey glow reflecting over the Australian desert and the lakes.

The pasta wasn't as bad. But. Still a fail.

To its credit Qantas's flight attendants weren't as grouchy as what most people say, and the beverage sleection is excellent. But there's ALOT that can be improved on the check-in, scheduling and food aspects. But if it costs $150 to do all that to meet up with Singapore Airline's standards, no thanks, I'd choose the old Qantas. Heh.

Touched down in windy and humid Singapore weather, with one side's landing gear hitting the ground a few seconds before the other.

Customs were efficient. But the locals here are rude, slow and unpleasant. Chaos at the duty-free store as queues were cut. Rude counter staff.

Then, a downpour. Classic of Singapore. Somehow for all my past few trips I leave Singapore in horrid weather, have perfect weather overseas and when I return, I get unceremoniously rained on again.

A taxi ride where the driver hardly spoke English (Malaysian?) and I had to struggle with Mandarin. And he couldn't keep to the lanes.

A traffic jam at 10.30pm. Wen it rains and when there's lane closures, traffic stalls to a halt, even if it's freaking 10.30pm.

Welcome to Singapore.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Melbourne Day 4: Steam

Off to the Dandenong Ranges!

Puffing Billy Railway, a narrow gauge railway built in the 1900s originally intended to facilitate transportation in the wooded ranges. It's now mainly run by enthusiastic volunteers, something that would never happen in Singapore.

There wasn't much of a view along the way...

Next we headed to Cuckoo restaurant which is a buffet with a mindboggling variety of food and especially cakes.

Not to mention, live performances.

They have alot of cuckoo clocks, big and small over there.

Back to the city for some shopping, went to Myers (Queen's Birthday clearance sale) and got some CK jeans on offer, and JayJays for cute slogan tees. And to Safeway for wine, cheese and chocolates to buy back home.

It's a public holiday and every shop closes extra early. Including fast food outlets, which meant that looking for dinner proved to be a challenge.

There's this Chinese eatery that sells claypot rice and hotplate noodles, and the standard, like for most of food in Melbourne, was good.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Melbourne Day 3: Running Up That Hill

Early morning, and we headed to Queenscliff to board the vehicular ferry to Sorrento.

Weather ain't too good. And it's cold and windy on the upper deck.

40 minutes later, we pressed on by coach to Ashcombe Maze and gardens, a small homely park with a rose maze, lavender maze and 2 hedge mazes.

Wine tasting at T'Gallant winery. The Juliet Pinot Grigio white wine and the Moscato are quite good, so we bought a bottle each. The red wines weren't very appealing...

Visited a glassblower's studio, then a pit stop at Hastings.

Off to Warrook Cattle Farm.

Lunch (which was pretty average - meat was way overcooked) there, with free-flow cheap wine.

We took a tour around the compound on a small trailer truck.

Had a go at milking the cow, and it's sorta gross. Tasted the milk freshly squeezed from the nipple, which tasted extremely creamy and weird. Think about it - milk comes from cow boobies. Sounds disgusting!

Sheep shearing. A rather violent act that takes both strength and skill, as there are various maneovres to immobilize the sheep in different positions in order to shear them.

A wombat. They sometimes bite.

After that, it was off to Philip Island to watch the little penguins (yes - they're called little penguins) return to shore. They're the smallest species of penguins in the world and every night, they return to shore to mate or to feed their offspring. They do so in groups of about 6-10, waddling across the beach when they see that the coast is clear. Then they make their way inland to their nests. Sadly, no photography allowed.

We saw quite a number of penguins, including some nested in the grassland right in front of the boardwalk, less than a metre away from me. It's really cold and windy there, so if you head there, remember your warm clothing!

Night fell, and we headed for a boring Chinese dinner. Then the hotel room, by which it was about 9.30 pm.