Monday, March 30, 2009

Exams are over!

I'll blog more soon! Now to get my diarrhoea sorted...

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Omnipotent Paper Wad

The Chinese is credited for having invented paper, which had revolutionised the use of written and printed language.

Gone are the days of landlords chasing tenants all around the town for payment - we now have lawyers' letters for that.

Gone are the days when we still had to carve our answers onto pebbles and throw them across the examination hall to our mentally-challenged friend - we now have paper aeroplanes for that.

However - while you idly scrunch up paper to place under your chair to stop it from rocking - has anyone ever sat down and wondered who had invented the paper wad?

Paper wads are to paper like Facebook is to (your ugly) face. It's all the awesomeness of paper processed, combined and compacted into one small package.

Disbelievers, you had better bow down to the drippingly-wonderful powerfulness of the paper wad.

I have used it successfully to fit short pen refills into long pens. Yes, those unreasonably short pen refills extracted from unreasonably short pens with unreasonably short lifespans.

Even as a kid, I was happily shooting paper wads at my classmates. Using various forms of propulsion including rubber bands, metal rulers and plastic straws.

I have used it to prop objects up for photography. Don't ask.

I have used it to fix a Boeing 747. Here's a pic of it, before I had embarked on Real Ultimate Macgyverism:

Ok, I admit it. I exaggerate. It's the window of a 747. The inner window. The one with no structural function whatsoever. It was rattling. I silenced it with a tiny wad of paper.

I have heard that in certain African countries, paper wads are a low-cost delicacy in the barren summer months. In certain more developed countries of excesses and waste, people would rather play with their food.

And today, I had found a new use for this omnipotent paper wad - as a hi-fi mod.

I had dismantled the woofers off my main JBL speakers so that my mom can help me bring them to the shop for repairs. Here's how the viscera of those expensive speakers look like:

So I had to use my tiny Altec Lansing speakers, which were so anaemic in bass, even playing manly music like Eye Of The Tiger made me feel like a prepubescent crossdresser.

And after modifying it with paper wads, I can now listen to Dancing Queen and still manage to beat off 10 men. The deep thumping bass makes me feel like Hulk Hogan in his pre-andropausal days!

I used a structural - yes, structural - wad to wedge the flimsy stand that was robbing the speakers of all the bassy goodness. Here's a structural wad alongside a conventional wad that underpaid Japanese salaryman chuck into rubbish bins to entertain themselves:

I then used some awesome Blutack (my friends tell me that the original Bostick Blutak is almost twice as awesome as the unbranded stuff) to mount them firmly on my desk. Big bassy things need even bigger, bassier, support to keep them still. Now, those speaker cones move against a support so rigid that Mrs Wacoal and Ms Triumph would be envious of.

The improvement was so phenomenal, I had never expected the bass to thump me that hard and I wet my pants a little bit. I wasn't wearing any underwear so that was particularly embarrassing.

But the music was lovely. And it made me a man again.

Yet another success for the paper wad!

Friday, March 6, 2009

Olive Backed Sunbird

So now here I am, reporting another bird spotting right in my own home. I do not want to sound like Gerald Durrell, but such incidents really do amaze me.

As human beings, we keep our lives compartmentalised - farm animals are kept far away, hidden from us. Goldfish is kept in the fish tank in the corner. Pet hamsters stay in cages.

But we fail to realise that we are just 1 species in this earth filled with millions of different species. And as much as we breach the pristine rainforests that they have been living in for centuries, they in turn do not see our whitewashed buildings and noisy roads as exclusive human territory.

It's heartwarming that there are wild animals willing to make contact with us evil humans. Don't for a moment take that for granted. Would our neighbourhoods be as lovely without the chirping birds, cats busking under car engine heat and those lizards that make their stealth sorties across our walls?


So this evening, my dad was asking which of us had placed a bird figurine on our flat gate. We keep many bird figurines throughout our home, so my dad had assumed that it was one of them.

My mom said no.

I said no.

My brother wasn't at home but he wasn't home recently enough to have placed the bird there.

I was curious as to who had put that figurine there - was it a neighbour? - so I opened the door and took a look.

And right then I was joking to my mom about how there were so many bird figurines at home we can't tell which are real and fake.

It was a yellow-green ball of feathers. The wings fluttered just so subtly I said out in surprise: 'it's real!'

I grabbed my camera and took photos. Strangely the bird didn't budge even when I opened the gate. I took more photos, and the bird simply looked around lazily at the flies surrounding the corridor lamp.

Such incidents make me feel small. I'm just one little part of this whole existence thing. I'm just one of 7 billion people of a single species out of a million.

Right now, the sunbird is probably still perched there, lazily admiring the abominations that the human race had peppered this planet with.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

It has something to do with the weather, I think

My Acer notebook is dying an accelerated death. Is it the humidity? Or the incessant thunderstorms that also prevent me from getting any sunlight or exercise?

Although it has one last month of warranty left, the idea of bringing it into the service centre is too painful to bear. I'd sooner go to the dentist.

Firstly, the service centre is located in the western bowels of Singapore, all the way in Jurong.

Secondly, the waiting times there are horrible. They can stretch up to 2-3 hours.

Thirdly, the last time (that was the 3rd time) I had gone there, the air conditioning wasn't working.

Fourthly, to add fuel to the fire, a large part of Acer's customers are students and professionals in the IT industry. And many are foreign. And those stereotypes of geeks having poor personal hygiene? They're true after all. And no, don't let me go on about the malodourous tendencies of fresh-off-the-boat foreigners. I'm not being racist, but they really do have different standards of personal hygeine ingrained into their culture.

I really couldn't bear the thought of going there again.

So here's how it all started:

The monitor went splotchy, so I went out and bought a spanking new 20 inch Samsung. They're really cheap these days, it wasn't too long ago when 19 inch panels had cost almost 400.

And now, this 1600x900 behemoth costs only $217. Being the easily-impressed me, I was totally satisfied with my new purchase, and was blissfully using Google Earth when that annoying yellow bubble popped up from the corner of the screen.

The CPU was precipituously close to overheating. Yet again. When you hear of 90 degree CPU temperatures, you know it had gotta be Acer.

So I got trusty Mr Steady Screwdriver and Ms Twiggy Tweezers out and cleaned it out by myself. It was a pain. I think I had lost count after the 10th screw and there were almost 30 of them in all.

After a considerable amount of sweat, 2 oozy cuts on my fingers and thankfully no tears, I got the job done. CPU temperatures look pretty alright this time round, it's about a 15 degree improvement, but the graphics processor still overheats. Probably because the thermal pad had disintegrated in my fingers when I had removed the heat sink. Might have to open it up and add an aluminium shim to fill the gap if this persists.

And then I realised that one of my USB ports no longer worked.

I give up. No more heroic measures. It's like a raging bushfire. Fix one problem, and another 2 pop up.

Not to mention, my speakers need their foam surrounds replaced. A troublesome, but not terminal condition.

Now my desk has as many buttons, switches and bright lights as a cockpit.

And speaking of cockpits (get your mind out of the gutter!), in a month my exams would have ended and I'd be off to a trip to Taiwan, on a Singapore Airlines 777. The agency offered China Airlines, but it's against my principles to support a company that buries about 40 people annually for the past 15 years.

I have a theory. The safety of an airline is proportional to the safety of the country's roads.

Aussie roads are incredibly well-signposted, the drivers are cautious and polite. Qantas has never killed anyone in the past 50 years.

Take a look at how people drive in India and Indonesia, then take a look at the airlines in those countries. You get the idea.

As for Taiwan's China Airlines, I've read many horror stories about the roads in Taiwan too.


Revision for the huge ass exams isn't going too good. There's so much, there's so many possibilities that I feel like every single hour spent revising is akin to mucking around in the dark. Very demotivating.

I wish I have Somebody behind me to hurry me along. Somebody behind me to give appropriately-timed pats on the shoulder.

Somebody who cares.

Somebody to love.

Can anybody find me somebody to love? Each morning I get up I die a little.