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Summer in Paris
Have you ever had a picnic in summer sitting on the green lawn under the Eiffel Tower with two friends and little white terrier jumping up and down for the gouda cheese in your sandwich? There was just so much I didn't expect about the Paris trip I made a few weeks ago. Here's a bit about what happened, beginning with me getting lost and the woman who offered to leave her restaurant in the middle of the evening crowd to take me to Laure's apartment four miles away.
I'd always thought the difference between a commuter and a traveler isn't just the regularity of the commuter's journeys. It's that the traveler's journey is open-ended. He doesn't meet a known destiny like a commuter. He feels a little apprehensive as he steps into unknown territory. Nothing is as well-planned or as anticipated. And that's my excuse why I always get lost wherever I go...
I'd arrived on a greyish Friday summers night at about 6pm at the Victorian steel-girder style Garre du Nord Station. Laure had sent me instructions by email. She'd told me to get to Clamart station just outside of Paris, but her English wasn't too good and I got lost. I tried calling her on my British mobile phone but my roaming system decided to quit on me. Goddamned One-2-One my ass! And that's when I found out:
a) all public phones in Paris require phone cards.
b) all the tabacs (tabacco shops ala convenience stores) selling phone cards close at 5pm.
I whipped out my English-French phrasebook and walked up to a Parisian pedestrian to ask for directions. I looked at my phrasebook then spoke in English anyway. Something in me realised that my attempts to speak French wouldn't be any more ridiculous than my attempts to speak in English in France.
If you're interested in muay thai or in boxing or martial arts, have a look at the short introductory website I wrote for my muay thai club
10 signs that you may be drinking too much coffee
I love this list
! Here are my favourites:
10. Juan Valdez names his donkey after you.
9. You answer the door before people knock.
8. You're the employee of the month at the local coffeehouse and you don't even work there.
7. Your eyes stay open when you sneeze.
6. The nurse needs a scientific calculator to take your pulse.
5. You can jump-start your car without cables.
4. You grind your coffee beans in your mouth.
3. The only time you're standing still is during an earthquake.
2. Starbucks owns the mortgage on your house.
1. Cocaine is a downer.
I just spent 10 British pounds for 500 British pounds worth of pirated software for my iMac. I guess that's one of the good things about living in a society given to graft. You can get away with many things -- especially those considered minor by the majority.
Cow and farmer
What do you get when you cross a yellow cow and a farmer who is into BDSM? Uh, uh, uh
"Forget about it," I said to Balan, "At least you can clean it."
'It' refering to the pieces of noodles that were tossed carelessly onto the windscreen of his silver-coloured Honda Accord, probably from a window several stories above us.
Balan didn't like being in that area of Sunway. He only agreed to help me move my stuff from Wolf's place, but he didn't bargain on having to make more than one trip. The area consists of several low-rise and high-rise square apartment blocks standing precariously on what was a tin-mine area. Pools from the run-off from the tin-mines were converted into mini-lakes to enhance the surroundings. But the lakes became clogged with filth and rubbish as is everything around here. The area is essentially a ghetto area, where rural immigrants from the countryside trying to escape their palid way of life end up when they come to the big city.
The countryside is actually a filthy place where there are villages of Malaysians. These villages do not have adequate sanitary amenities, no regular street-cleaning trucks, no regular rubbish pick-ups. These amenities have increased in regularity and appearance over the years, but only in a few areas. The locals tend to rely on the age-old method of tossing things out of windows. And that's how the noodles ended up on Balan's wind-screen.
Garbage tends to accumulate rather quickly, month after month. They build impacted piles from the dust, dirt and indifference. It isn't like it was a hundred years ago where the garbage, like fruit peels and bad milk, just rotted away. Nowadays, you see pink plastic bags, blue wrappers, plastic bottles and all manner of bits that stick around for years. Just like the practice of throwing stuff out the window.
The government has been trying to help prevent this from happening. It isn't as easy as putting bins in accessible places or having more regular garbage pick-ups or just telling people to stop throwing their rubbish out. It is easier for them to believe that they won't have to deal with the garbage for much longer -- that they will move up in life and move to a clean suburb with a white house and a Malaysian-made car. For now, they say, it is just more convenient to rubbish the streets.
These are the same people who sit around all day and drink tea and rumourise about all manner of things as foreign to them as possible, like the US economy, the government, the choice of dressing of today's young women. They glamourise their poverty because it is the only reality they know. When a neighbour comes home with a new car, they will admire the car and hate the man. They will without hesitation or a sense of irony walk up to the man and remind him not to 'put on airs' or and to remember where he came from. They don't do it out of spite, they just want everyone to "keep it real", as Ali-G would say.
So it is easier for me to get by in Malaysia by playing slow. By walking around glassy-eyed and with gaping mouth. Speaking in the local patois of more grunts than words. Being local means having to act as if you don't know any better.
The only way to live in the midst of all this is not ignorance or turning a blind eye. You need money. Money is a cocoon in Malaysia. You need it to feed the hungry, the less-fortunate and your own sanity. Balan commented that the 50 Ringgit "unlocking charge" that the guy at the phone shop wanted to tack on to my mobile phone bill might be superfluous. I said,"You have to expect that here. You can't live in Malaysia without paying off people." Grafting is such a way of life that when you are stopped by the police for a traffic offence, you offer them an Agong's Pass (all currency is marked with the face of the Agong 'King').
This isn't a rail against the people or the way of life. Without these spirals of decrepitude, it would be impossible to maintain Malaysia as it is -- a quiet, slow, piece of lumber floating and rolling down the river, perhaps to be turned into an exotic piece of furniture or a house or another addition to the garbage pile on an old tin-mine.
Selling my soul
I'll be interviewing with Leo Burnett's planning director next week for the position of account planner. An account planner is the function in an advertising agency that develops consumer-based strategies, maintains accountability of the advertising campaigns and helps define insights into consumer behaviour through consumer research. The guy is from India and seems to have some trouble speaking English. I wonder if he can speak Malay. In any case, I probably know more about conducting consumer research and ad-campaign accountability than he does, but what will he make of that?
I am also interviewing with Albert Lim, my old boss at Peter Beaumont, tomorrow. The job will be senior copywriter and will pay several times more than the account planner post. If the interview with LB doesn't satisfy me, I shall take up the Peter Beaumont post. It will be menial labour that won't tax my brains, but I'll need the money to convert into Canadian dollars to stay in Toronto for a couple of months next year to look for more satisfactory account planner work.
"I didn't think it was my place to tell you about it," she said. But her face betrayed a sense of satisfaction.
The topic was the mess that Wolf had made of his life and of his apartment. Min, Wolf's ex-girlfriend with whom I had dinner last night, could have warned me about it in an email since she had fore-knowledge of Wolf's invitation to let me stay at his place. But she didn't.
Min is a manipulator of sorts. Her family taught her well. Her parents still live together but often use her to attack each other by telling her about each other's weaknesses. The result is that the other loses Min's love and respect. Her uncle uses the same technique -- while she was in the States, he kept telling her stories about her mother's nastiness.
After I saw the look on Min's face, I realised she had purposely not told me about Wolf -- knowing full well that I would hate staying at his place and hate Wolf for letting me stay there (their break-up was acrimonious). There is no electricity, just a flea-ridden mattress to lie on among dusty piles of rubbish covering every inch of floor and Wolf in his self-pity has offered no indication of hospitality.
I hate being used so clandestinely. Worse of all, she had no regard for my well-being, the inconvenience her omission caused me and for the fact that I would have figured it out sooner or later.
Now, they've both lost a friend.
I am currently seeking other living arrangements.
Robert and Vicky
This is Robert and Vicky, the lovely couple whom I stayed with while I was in London last week. Robert works as a computer engineer and project manager at EDS, the software company. His specific account is to work on the software for the London Underground. He is the guy who has to personally put in all the new prices every time the Underground wants to hike the prices. (Just so you know :-)
Vicky is his long-time girlfriend and the love of his life. Her ambition is to be a teacher and is currently trying to get the qualifications for the job. With her brightness, I think she would make a wonderful teacher.
Both Robert and Vicky are members of a playgroup called the Woodhouse Players. Incidently that's how they met... through mutual friends connected to the Woodhouse Players. Vicky is currently an actress with the troupe, while Robert specialises in handling the stage lighting. But sometimes he gets to direct which he would very much prefer.
I met Robert several years ago in Melbourne. I was there on college internship at ABC Radio where I helped to produce a morning drive time programme called the Terry Laidler Show. I met Robert while looking for things to do after hours and I was into role-playing games at the time. So was Robert. He was a member of the Wizard's Council gaming club which a shop manager at a gaming shop suggested I look up if I wanted to get a few gaming sessions.
All would-be members of the Wizard's Council are subjected to stand in a row in front of all the current members for a question and answer session on the rules and regulations of the club. It's merely a formality actually. The last question the Wizard's Council asked all the initiates was "What is the fourth requirement of all members at all meetings?". For the life of me, I couldn't remember. And neither did any of the initiates as one by one made wild guesses. I was the last one in the row and when it came to my turn, I did the usual. I played stupid. "What fourth rule?" I said. And the entire Wizard's Council burst out in laughter, "Ok, who gave him the answer!" And Robert reminds me of that moment till this very day.
I spent a fair amount of time together with Robert and his friends. They invited me to a variety of activities they enjoyed including roller blading, cross-country skiing and a long session of Civilization at Robert's parent's house.
After I got to the UK, I took out Robert's last letter to me which was dated in 1994 which said that he moved to London to look for work. I called his number and luckily he was still at the same address! Five years and 15,000 miles later, we were back together again!
The current world's tallest man-made structures are in Kuala Lumpur itself. They're called the Petronas Twin Towers and they were erected in 1997 and paid for by the Malaysian oil company, Petronas. Petronas built them for the prestige value of the co-branding and for goodwill and the increased value for tourism in the country. But mainly because Prime Minister Mahathir told Petronas to.
Underneath the Twin Towers is a huge mall called the KLCC (Kuala Lumpur City Centre). Its name was coined more out of ambition than actually being at the centre of the city. I spent today there with Yasmin Ahmad, the creative director of Leo Burnett, and with Kam Raslan, a prolific Malaysian writer and up and coming film director.
KLCC has a new giant Kinokuniya bookstore which has seen fit to include a viciously wide range of poetry books which drew the attention of both Yasmin and Kam. Yasmin bought several hardcover versions of her favourite poetry books and Kam settled for a book called the History of Civilizations written by a French author that Kam claims is the world's greatest historian.
Yasmin is the sort of person who gets barred from regional Proctor and Gamble meetings because she objects loudly to marketing plans on the basis of moral misgivings. (This actually happened, she swears.) We spend a great deal of time flirting. Playfully (I think). She aggressively proclaims that she wants to sleep with me, and when I comically reply in the positive, she shys away.
Yasmin pleads compassionately for her causes and for the social protection of the Bumiputras (the indigenous Malays) as does the Prime Minister who has decreed special financial privileges for the Bumis such as admission quotas into the universities.
I credit much of her work over the past decade with the bringing together of the multiple races of Malaysia. Her television commercials have often feature Chinese and Malay mixed-race couples and have been very influencial, appearing on the small screen during seasons of cultural festivities such as Chinese New Year and Hari Raya (Malay new year) celebrations.
She mentioned the prospect of hiring me. It is probably only a matter of what my role and function will be. I shall see her at her office tomorrow to discuss the matter further.
Arrived in Kuala Lumpur
Always called KL by the locals, Kuala Lumpur's main international airport, the KLIA (Kuala Lumpur International Airport) is about an hour away on coach from the city centre. The airport was designed for grandeur and the size of it is so huge that newcomers are often heard saying how quiet and empty it is especially compared to compact places like Heathrow. Although Heathrow probably has more flights going through it, the gargantuan spread of KLIA offers the illusion that it is sparsely populated.
Surrounding the airport are miles and miles of palm oil plantations on low-lying hills. The airport is to the southeast of the city. Between them is the newly erected government administrative centre known as Puduraya and the famous F1 sports rally that has people like Michael Schumacher coming to town. Sunway, where Wolf lives and where I'll be staying for a short while is a satellite town of Kuala Lumpur that lies about half and hour out of the city to the south.
Wolf wasn't in so I camped outside his apartment. He lives in an area called the Subang Damai apartments. It is a cheap collection of poorly=maintained high-rises where a lot domestic immigrants from the rural areas come to stay. In many cities, these might be called the slums. But a lot of families make their home here and have contributed to a "kampung" (a rural village atmosphere) despite the dank appearance.
I was initially surprised when a pair of Malay sisters saw me waiting outside the apartment and took me in and offered me tea. They let me make a phone call to Min, the ex-girlfriend of Wolf who sent Victor another mutual friend to come pick me up. It was then that I realised that it is the sense of hospitality that you find in Malaysia's rural communities that I was witnessing. The city-types that you are more likely to encounter tend to be extremely suspicious of strangers.
Victor came at about 8pm and we met Wolf. Wolf has been really down and out. He lost Min, his long-time girl-friend, he lost the money I lent him, he lost his band and whatever was left of his self-confidence. His apartment has no electricity so I'm writing this from an internet cafe in a district of Sunway called Section 15. Worse of all, he has no prospects.
I shall have to start making calls tomorrow to see which of my old contacts can put me in touch with a job. I've got people in Ogilvy and Mather, Bates, DDB and Leo Burnett. Senior copywriters are always sought after.
Judging from the comments at the Amazon.com
and the IMDB
reviews, either you really like this movie or you don't. For lack of something or other, most of the reviewers commented about the technique or the length of film. But I wonder what they really thought of it.
Well I liked it. For some strange reason or other I could relate to all the characters in the movie. The kid who was under pressure. The fumbling cop. The vice-ridden woman. The man with the father who abandoned him. They all had one thing in common, they just didn't feel comfortable with themselves.
I think the one thing that I took out of the movie is that bad or strange things happen. Every day. They don't happen to special people, or people with bad luck or people who live in poor circumstances or people who are less functional. My secondary school teacher's husband suffered from fits and died from a brain tumour. My friend Sharm feels like she can't go back to her home. I had an abusive childhood. We weren't singled out.
Bad or strange things do happen. Even the less significant things like someone forgetting your birthday or an appointment. Or the power company accidently shutting down your electricity in winter. Magnolia isn't about surviving the bad things like Terms of Endearment was. When bad things happen to us, in the aftermath we often feel like we deserved it somehow. Or else we could have prevented it if we weren't so weak. But if we realise that sometimes it is perhaps just a coincidence, we can feel less to blame.
PT Anderson, the director and writer of the movie, has created an earnest way of showing that if we all learned to let things go and not to hold onto all the bad things in our past too tightly, we might be able to learn to live with ourselves. And perhaps find a bit more happiness in our lives.
As you know, tomorrow I shall have to fly back to Malaysia.
Despite what you may have heard, Asia places very little emphasis on courtesy or respect for others. Ah, yes. I see how you might be confused. Asians in Asia place a great deal of emphasis on rituals and social hierarchy, but don't get that mixed up with courtesy.
They don't use the casual please or thank you, although there are expressions for them in every Asian language (and here I am thinking specifically of the Chinese dialects). However, those expressions often have connotations with formal rituals and casual use of them, although not frowned upon, is simply not taken up. There are usually no replacements for them in most Asian societies.
Ironically, Asians tend to expect politeness in the service that they receive. Although they offer none to the people who provide the service. With each generation, this expectation wanes. The result is that as less politeness is expected, none is practiced whatsoever.
During my sojourn to Australia several years ago (where I met Robert), I came to realise how much I enjoyed politeness. And how much the expectation of politeness plays a part in your return of it. Although I had little practice of it, having lived in Asia for all of my childhood, I quickly picked it up. And sadly when I had to return to Singapore, I quickly lost the use of it.
I do not expect that I will be able to keep up the practice in a society that relegates it to the point of meniality. But I hope I shall never forget it. (Like they say, you have no idea what you take for granted until you don't have it any more.)
Two Fridays ago, I took the 1.20pm from Bournemouth to London, Waterloo Station. I don't usually take this route because I'd just take the coach to Victoria Station in London. The coach takes about half hour longer to get to London and costs about half the price. But you don't get to observe people like you do on trains.
There are probably three hundred people on board the train at any one time, most of whom will be commuters, except for the odd few like myself. Commuters know where their journey will end and what they will do there. Safe in the knowledge, they can eat, drink, sleep, chat on their mobile phone, read the papers and do the odd bit of paperwork.
Hmm. What's my point? Actually I don't know. I thought I had one. But I'm just writing some nonsense to fill the space and give me an excuse to display some photographs I took on the trip.
I shall have a point soon. But for now, it's time to show off what little photography skills that I have.
By the way, if you do have some art history training or knowledge thereof, would you please help me identify this woman? She is part of a tapestry I got in Brussels. The woman at the shop said it was a tapestry rendition of a painting, probably famous. But she didn't know by whom.
Oh wait, look I've a bit more space and some time to kill. Here's another photo that was taken in London.
This guy summarises all the top stories in haiku
. It's cute if you can overlook the strangeness.
Isn't this typical
I looked all over London along traditional mens-wear shops in Picadilly Circus and in the royalty-custom shops in Knights-bridge and even along the better department stores along Oxford Street and I can't find a collar bar anywhere.
Collar bars are worn under the knot of the tie, clip-secured by both collars, thus propping the knot and keeping it firmly in place. Ties tend to droop down my collar without a collar bar. Collar bars also have the advantage of giving a very classic neat and polished look.
One shop attendant even tried to suggest that collar bars are out of fashion. This was in Harvey Nichols.
What else did I expect? This is the same country where all the men dress in black suits or dark grey. What happened to the classic navy suit? Don't men take pride in their dress sense these days?
Laure and I spent last Saturday spotting English tourists while we were touring Paris. It was a very simple process. All men dressed in rugby or football sports jerseys were English. No self-respecting man from the continent would be seen in such attire. All women dressed in tank tops and tights, especially those with tummy-exposing and panty-strap exposed, were English women.
England I have decided is a collection of stuppored louts and fashion victims.
Pierce Brosnan swills beer with his mates and pukes up on the streets every night. Michael Caine walks down the high street in summer with shorts and his shirt off even when the sun isn't out. Alec Guinness spends his lunch hour leering at trash magazines like Maxted. Sean Connery gets drunk and picks random fights on the street while ironically screaming Queen anthems at the top of his lungs.
The stiff upper-lipped English gentleman is gone. Long live the flabby English houligan.
"Cleaning my apartment is therapeutic," she said. "It helps keep me calm."
Her duplex loft apartment in the heart of Brussels wasn't quite as clean as it was when I arrived on Monday as the day I left on Saturday.
Granted Sharm had just moved into it a couple of weeks before I arrived, it wasn't as if she hadn't had the time. After I came back from my one night excursion to Amsterdam, I found that she had had the kitchen mopped, arranged all the glasses and cutlery in their respective places and filled the fridge. It wasn't a Go-Go Pizza when I left, but when I came back it was to a hospital.
Later as I thought about it, about the conversations we had along the way, I think I reminded her of something in her past. I am a relic of it. The last time we met, she was the one who was travelling, and I was the one who was trying to make ends meet.
I am certain I disappoint her with the stories of what had happened over the last seven years. Of what I had become compared to what she thought I might have been. Naturally I thought it was my fault. That I had revealed too much. But how could I have? It isn't easy to hide that I still have all the same insecurities about myself.
We were much alike so the comparison was easy. She had ideas and so did I. And those ideas could not be encased on a pebble in an ocean like Singapore.
And I knew what it was. I reminded her that this is as good as it gets.
She had left Singapore three years ago in search of something better. She came the Brussels having no command of the French language. But she knew Spanish, having been motivated to learn it by having a few Spanish-speaking boyfriends in the past. The Spanish had helped her as she met with a few people such as Maria who ran a confectionary store near the Broukere (the central brokerage house) in downtown Brussels.
She got a job as a convention presenter. She would dress up in themed costumes and show convention attendees to their seats for seminars or direct them to exhibition booths. There was a need for people who spoke both English and Spanish in such a job because the deligates often came from all over the world. She said she was often mistaken for a native of the country that the deligates came from partly because of her dark complexion. For example, Cubans would start to speak to her in the local Cuban patois and so would the Spanish in the with references to events and places in Spain.
You might say that it was particularly brave and adventurous of Sharm to wander out to an unfamiliar place and start over. I think Sharm was just being Sharm. She is an irrepressible and unconfessed idealist. She always wants things to be perfect. Like myself she will always be on the prowl for the next thing. Hoping for it to be the perfect thing, although secretly we both know it is just an excuse to never stop looking.
Sharm now as a "responsab" in a government-run convention hall. A responsab literally translates into the-person-who-is-responsible. She helps to organise conventions and exhibitions in the hall. She micro-manages a few dozen people to process paperwork and arrange for catering and arrange the booths and seating in the hall. She often finds she works late, and on the weekends. But her main complaint is that it is difficult to motivate the people she works with because of the social support system that Belgium operates with. The hefty dole that is handed out to the Belg results in less efficiency. Furthermore, the management don't understand that the convention hall has to compete with the convention halls in the hotels in the city so it has to be run as efficiently as they do.
She barely sleeps. She takes sleeping pills every night and has to switch brands every week in order to prevent her body from adapting to them. I hear her at night from my make-shift cot on the living room floor. She snores, suffocated by her weight of her ideals. She hardly does the partying that she used to. And her evenings are often spent chatting with Latecia, a 20-something Spanish-speaking French who pursues studies in humans rights, who stays in the ground floor apartment.
I remind her of that more carefree life she had, living with her parents in Singapore. Having enough money to be a regular at Fabrices, the latino-spinning bar under the Tang building and watering hole of the expats, and go dancing with the latino band members. What happend to that girl, she must wonder. I think she is still there. Sharm tells me that she wants to move to Spain next year. To escape the city life and exact a more idyllic lifestyle.
Oh yes, that girl is still there. She just has a cleaner house.
What are you taking?
A comprehensive site
on over the counter drugs, their generic product names, the brand names they are sold under, and a comprehensive description of the chemical content. Excellent!
Arrived yesterday afternoon and had dinner with Robert and Vicky at a restaurant by the Thames. We tried to get into the London Eye on our way to dinner, but the line snaked all the way around the eye and reached to the aquarium nearby. I would have gotten more souvenirs at the gift shop if only British Airways, the builder of the London Eye, hadn't branded them so heavily.
Today I spent the day with Ann Stavely-Taylor, or Ms Louis, as I remember her. In the last 12 years since she taught me literature, she got married, had three lovely daughters and lost her husband to a brain tumour.
She is now moving to Singapore in August while her house in one of the richest sections of Greater London is put up for sale for �600,000. Her husband, Michael, god bless his soul was a highly-placed executive in Unilever and gained a sizable pension that will see her and her children through the next few troubling months.
It was fantastic to see her again. I got her London address from, Mrs Thomas, the principle (now retired) of my secondary school in Singapore a couple of years ago and I decided to look her up when I got to the UK. For some strange reason, she still doesn't look a day over 30, and the long lingering death of her husband hasn't taken the toll on her good looks.
But I cautioned her about moving to Singapore. Her children will be entering a society that, based on the way they treat their maids, has very little comprehension of the value of human life and human dignity.
Tomorrow, I'll spend the afternoon with Vicky and Robert at the new Tate Modern.
I wonder if I should get my photo album done like this guy's
Oh yeah and...
Lesson 4: There are more ATMs that accept your VISA card for withdrawing cash than money changers in Europe that accept travellers cheques. So don't bother getting travellers cheques if you're travelling in the larger cities in Europe.
While shopping in the centre of Brussels near the Place du Grote, Sharm and I walked into a tapestry shop. Tapestry
is a flemish art form of loom weaving. We were hoping to get me a souvenir and we came across a tapestry of a composition centering on a slim young noble woman with a crown done in what could be a 16th century style.
She wore a soft white gown draped lightly with a cloak of blue silk. She sat on a cushioned couch in a room made from large stone blocks with her left hand casually stroking a grey coloured hunting hound with her fingertips. On either side of her in the background were open windows. The window on her left featured the tower of a distant castle in a lush valley, possibly a depiction of her home or the home of her husband-to-be. Blocking the window on her right were two young court ladies, one a white woman, the other black. She had large eyes with long blonde hair parted in the centre by her crown. She sat with her right side slightly facing the viewer with her head tipped slightly forward, in an inviting manner. Her expression is at once gentle and if you were to move, it would turn demanding and contemptuous.
The woman at the tapestry shop called the tapestry 'The Lady' and that it was a rendition of a famous painting. But she didn't know by whom.
Sharm suggested I get it. But I told her that it was a picture of an idealised woman and that it would restrict my imagination of what feminine beauty might be.
The truth is, the lady reminded me of Sharm.
The city that never smiles
Amsterdam is one place that doesn't use the smile reflex often enough. For example, I have yet to meet a front counter staff in Amsterdam who greets you or even asks how they can help. They just stare at you like automatons. I can see how you might be tempted to think,"Hey, it's you! You're always giving off don't-even-look-at-me vibes.". But it isn't just me. They do it with every one, even the Dutch speakers.
But I can't really blame the locals. This place is so overwhelmed by tourists. I can imagine how marginalised and isolated they feel especially when the city administrators constantly make decisions for the good of the tourists and not the residents. Such as holding back the upgrading of the communications system in centraal Amsterdam for fear of disrupting the downtown tourist trade and piece-meal upgrade of the roads for the same reason.
There are so many American tourists here I had to ask three times for directions before I got a local to point me in the right direction. The map I got didn't show most of the streets and had labelled many of the streets wrongly. I guess the map makers must have had an equally difficult time keeping up with the odd road constructions in Amsterdam.
But I'll give Amsterdam this: the night life is excellent!
I slept till 8pm after getting back to the Princess Hotel and left shortly after with my camera. I quickly found that it wasn't safe to take photos at night. The streets were rife with drug dealers and I didn't want to get caught accidently catching one of them in a shot.
I spent last night wandering around the neon streets until after midnight, lights and 80s disco music blaring on all sides of me. The air was thick with ganja and cigar smoke from the open windows of the coffeeshops. I swear there's more tobacco here than in Cuba. It was almost a surreal experience eating hot tongue-burning fritters and mayonnaise while doing my window shopping in the biting cold. I felt giddy, but I think that had partly to do with inhaling the ganja expellants.
No one offered me a drink or a joint. And I probably wouldn't have accepted. As a rule I never accept free stimulants unless I had back-up somewhere in the vicinity. A few of the drunks stared at me as though I were an oddity not being red-faced or walking with a lilt. I've been told that stimulants are wasted on me because I'm too much of a tight-arse so I've never been able to relax even when I'm drunk or stoned on grass or ecstacy.
I'm in Amsterdam now. Having a miserable time. I'm not one of those travellers who enjoys too many new experiences at one go. I'm one of those sad people who get brain over-loads even from microwave cooking instructions. I'm here on a spur-of-the-moment split-second of weakness to please Sharm. She says she travels out of curiousity and she wants me to see more of Europe while I am here.
She doesn't understand that I just don't want to be in places where I don't already know at least one person. I can't relax enough to enjoy myself when I don't. Having someone who knows the city also provides a personally-insightful view of the city. At least it's better than the way I go sight-seeing which is to aimlessly wander the city and get lost.
Besides which I have no affinity for Amsterdam at all. I remember when I was in Bangkok and Perth as a child, I just hung around the hotel room for the whole trip simply because those places didn't peak my interest beforehand.
I arrived in Amsterdam around noon, having left Sharm in Brussels around 9am as she was headed for work. Sharm gave me a short list of places she thought I ought to visit.
The Van Gogh museum was one of them. Unfortunately, I don't have much interest in impressionist painters. I've always felt that one can only appreciate art if one understands much of the periods during and preceding in which the art was created. Just like literature. You can't understand Shakespeare by applying the same language rules as modern English. Only by understanding the politics of Spain, England, Scotland, Netherlands and France of the era can you get all the in-jokes and political references strewn throughout the texts. I quickly lost interest and wandered outside where the children feeding the pigeons in the park held more of my attention.
I also left because I distinctly reeked of fish and onions which I had for lunch. The Dutch make an excellent fish sandwich from fresh raw herring and onions between two toasted buns.
I also visited Dam Square which Sharm swore would be filled with the best art students from the Dutch art schools plying their skills for tourists. All I found was a version of the mechanical monstrocity known as a fun fair. At night when the fun fair was shut down, instead of fair operators, drug dealers offered "Cocaine? Ecstasy? Anything you want?" from among the crevices.
Can't wait to get back to London to see Robert and Vicky.
In Brussels, the littlest mob-run city
Was in Brussels yesterday and I met with Sharm, eventually.
She and her current boyfriend Serge showed me around town. Brussels is a really small city. You can't walk more than 5 minutes without bumping into someone you know. Not me of course, Serge and Sharm, I mean.
Brussels is also a really mixed-up city. It's liberalism gone mad.
They allow almost anyone in who wants to be there. It's gotten to the point that you can't tell who's a tourist and who isn't. There are some good points and bad points. The one most relevant to Serge is where architecture is concerned. He pointed out on several occasions when in a single view, you can see a mix of four or five different types of architectural styles jammed together in one block. It was a very jarring and horrible effect especially after coming from culturally homogenous Paris.
The issue most relevant to other residents of Brussels, as Sharm says, is the crime level. We were discussing her ex-boyfriend who owed the mob money and on one occasion had a gun pointed to his head in the middle of a crowded restaurant. And apparently this sort of thing isn't uncommon in a section of downtown Brussels called '1000 Brussels'.
The humans rights activists are so powerful in Brussels that as soon as the police catch anyone, they're released because by a hu,an rights lawyer who argues that it is the fault of society not of the individual. The police are powerless in this city to enforce its laws! Ironically, Brussels had at one time constructed a a huge law court called 'Palais de Justice et Place Poelaert' to emphasise its commitment to justice.
Lesson 1: Never arrive in France after 5pm. All the shops are closed, including all the tabacs where you might get phone cards and maps. The banks and money-changers are also closed.
Lesson 2: All the phones in Paris don't take coins, only phone cards.
Lesson 3: You can't get a Parisian taxi hailing on the street. They must be booked by phone.
That was a really scary time not being able to contact Laure when I first got to Paris. But it was a great weekend. I was the consumate tourist. And Laure hates tourists. :-)
Laure and Lionel, her fiance, are wonderful cooks and I have now got a bread and cheese fetish. More on the Paris trip later...
Je suis non-Americain
Lqst zeekend zqs help the poor strqnded tourist zeekend in Frqnce. Despite zhqt you�ve been told, the French qre one of the most helpful qnd concerned people I�ve ever ,et. There qre of course exceptions. But by qnd lqrge it zqs q very pleqsqnt zeekend:
In fqct the ,ost trouble I�ve hqd is leqrning hoz to use French keyboqrds, zhich qs you cqn tell, I hqve yet to mqster.
Wait, I'm getting the hang of it. I have to glance at the keyboard every once in a while but I'm getting there.
I think the myth of the ugly Frenchman came about because of two things. The exotic French sense of humour that includes harmless sarcasm. For example as Laure motioned to a ticket conductor on a train to Paris, "Do you want my ticket?", he replied "That is what I live for." That was actually very funny. But I don't imagine that everyone will think so. If I had to take it on several occassions, I'd go shopping for an Uzi.
The second thing is the reception the French have been giving to the Americans. And the British. And they've been spreading the word. As far as the British are concerned, let's not go there. The enmity has always been there. They been countless wars between kings of both lands who sent hordes of tourists bearing arms instead of credit cards and did the usual tourist things of the day like pillage and rape. The French today don't think it's so different with the Americans. You should hear the venom in Laure's voice when she explained that the piped classical music heard throughout the immense royal gardens at Versailles is "for American tourists". Although she did agree later that the French kings did have piped music in their gardens played by orchestras of the best French musicians they could find. The inside joke in France is that the phrase for "stupid tourist" is "Americain".
I think the French hate the Americans because, unlike the British, they don't make as many concessions as foreigners when they're abroad. At least the British, like my landlady, tried to learn French before travelling. Most French actually have had English-language training in school, says Laure. But it is so rudimentary it's at a third-language level. And they become very self-conscious of it which manifests itself as arrogance when faced with stupid tourists.
Furthermore, the rolling American accent really grates on French ears. Or so they say.
So I quickly added this new phrase to my French phrasebook "Je suis non-Americain". I never had to use it because I don't look typically American.
(This is just an exerpt. I've been taking notes for a better and definitely more thoughtful story later. I can't really write when I'm on the move. Actually I might just ditch this entry later...)
Currently in London
At 6am, my alarm clock found no one to rouse. I was already awake, in fact sleep escaped me and flitted off to the land of Worry, not Nod.
I still had not been able to contact Sharm in Brussels. Either I had copied down the wrong phone number or her mobile is on the fritz. I really want to see Sharm again. We have so much to talk about. It's been seven years since I've seen her. My contingency is to go to Brussels anyway and try to play detective with the local phone book or at the Singapore Consulate. But I'll try calling her brother-in-law Azraf in Singapore again later today.
Furthermore, I didn't have either my Eurostar nor my plane ticket to Malaysia.
On the plus side, Laure called me yesterday and relayed instructions on how to get to her apartment in Clarmant. Unfortunately, I didn't understand a single word she said because I had no reference of the places she mentioned. I shall have to wing it when I get there.
It took me 10 minutes to pack. Most everything given over to TNT for delivery to Malaysia yesterday. And yet I was concerned I overpacked again. Overpacking is the embodiment of my fear of treading on the unknown, lest the unknown decided to tread on me.
I took the 7.30am train to Waterloo instead of my usual coach fare. It was a last minute decision when I reached the train/coach station. I just wanted a different view. Train rides are wonderful for observing commuters. On the coach, you can't. For one thing, you only see the top of everyone's heads. For another, it isn't so convenient to interact on a coach trip. Whereas on a train, people do funny things like trying to operate laptops while the strong sunlight obscures everything on the screen. I took a couple of nice illustrative pictures on my train ride. But I can't upload them yet until I find a terminal that will accept the USB drivers for my digital camera.
At about 10am, I got all the tickets and my student travel card from Helen and her boss Joseph. The travel agency had an interesting poster on the wall. It was a picture of Beirut and the slogan for the city was "The city that never surrenders." Hilarious. I took a picture of it as proof.
In any case, can anybody enlighten me on how to say,"And same to you, jerk-face!" in French? You can never tell when useful phrases like that might come in handy.
A collection of terse quips about other weblogs
. Tries to be fair, but features blurbs that aren't so much reviews as they are overviews. Go on, submit your blog. You know you want to!
Number 10 Downing Street - The Gameshow
Haha! The BBC is certainly not above the latest reality gameshow craze. It is broadcasting an election night gameshow
As the votes come in, a huge swingometer will swing between Labour, Conservative and Lib-Dem (the three main parties) to show who holds the larger share of the parliamentary house.
"Welcome to Vote 2001, with your host Peter Snow. Tonight our contestants are Tony Blair, William Hague and Charles Kennedy. All vying for the top prize of the prime minister's chair. Who will win? You, the audience, will decide. Cast your votes now!"
Spent the whole morning calling around to all the customs and excise offices in England trying to find out about something called an Inco code that was demanded by TNT, the freight forwarder.
Nobody knew what it was and I spent a total of three hours on hold to various people while they tried to be helpful while shuttling me from person to person.
Me: Hi, I'd like to ship some items to Malaysia and I need an Inco code.
Customs: What's an Inco code?
Me: I don't know. TNT told me customs and excise would be able to tell me what my Inco code was.
Customs: I think you mean a tariff number.
Me: Sure. How do I get that?
Customs: We don't deal with that. You need to call tariff classification.
Me: Hi, I'd like to ship some items to Malaysia and I need a tariff classification.
Tariff: What are you shipping?
Me: Personal effects.
Tariff: Sorry, we don't do tariff classification for personal effects.
Me: What do I need?
Tariff: Call this number at customs and excise and ask for Form C3.
Me: Hi, I'd like to ship some items to Malaysia and I need a Form C3.
Customs #2: Ok. What are the items you'd like to bring to England?
Me: No, no. I need to ship stuff out of England to Malaysia.
Customs #2: What you need is Form C4.
Me: Sure. Where do I get that?
Customs #2: Call this number...
That's when I run out of money for my mobile phone and patience as well.
(Incidently, I found out what an Inco code was. It's a code that specifies who pays for the duty and insurance, the delivery company or the sender. It's normally covered on the delivery contract inherent in every TNT delivery invoice. The Inco code or incoterm as it is more properly called, was an attempt to standardise delivery terms for all delivery companies in the UK in order to protect both the delivery company and the senders and receivers. It's apparently a throwback from pre-1999 when there wasn't such a system. I figured this out when the local Chamber of Commerce faxed me half a book on UK customs and excise regulations. It was all written in legalese, but I figured it out eventually, called up TNT and educated the stupid bastard who told me to call customs and excise when it is TNT who is supposed to tell me what my incoterm is.)
Was just watching a movie that at the halfway point looks pretty good. It's called Gun Shy
and stars Liam Neeson, Oliver Platt and Sandra Bullock.
Neeson is an undercover cop posing as a mob enforcer who wants to get out of his job and have "an ocean view". Sandra Bullock is a nurse working at an enema machine at a clinic which Neeson goes to in order to relax from his extremely stressful job. It's one of those gangster comedies with the psychiatric shtick ala Analyze This
Bullock: Would you like some champagne?
Neeson: Champagne gives me gas.
Bullock: So we'll drink it outside.
Mustaffa and Ati
"I'm going to have to charge for this," chuckles Mustaffa as he poses together with his wife Ati. But he doesn't. Mustaffa owns the Islam internet cafe from which I do a lot of my interneting and in which this photo was taken. He's English, but he's very active in the muslim community. He wears only traditional muslim attire having converted two decades ago in his thirties while he was in Singapore maintaining an oil company's computer system. Like Muhammad Ali, mild-mannered Mustaffa took on a muslim name after conversion. Back then, he was known as Martin Pryor.
Just before returning to his native Bournemouth, ash-bearded Mustaffa spent a few years in Kosovo as a foreign aid worker. He helped rebuild homes for the muslims there. One of his four daughters is still there helping to clear mines with what he insists was two weeks of basic mine clearing training. He assures me that his daughter is quite safe.
Mustaffa is hoping to continue his muslim-aid work with a contingent from the US. They plan to make a trip to the middle-east on missionary work, bringing the word of Allah to whatever pocket needs its faith shoring-up and wherever the word of Allah has yet to reach.
In the meantime, this balding and bespectacled man with youthful eyes spends his days pottering about his internet cafe. He dug up several of the cafe's computers from trash heaps and restored them to working order, one of which you can see on his right. When I met him, he slept on the floor underneath his main server counter. That was before he brought his Malaysian wife, Ati, over from Malaysia a few weeks ago. Now they're both staying in a hotel until the tenant in Mustaffa's apartment moves out so that they can move in.
Ati is a young deeply religious woman who wears her tu-dung (Malay scarf headress) all day. She can, as you can see, do her ironing just about anywhere. Now Mustaffa spends most of the day teaching her about the business of running an internet cafe.
Mustaffa is the least loquacious person I know. Except when you get him started on the Masons. "They're evil and must be attacked!" he vents. Underneath that amiable exterior, he is obviously a man of great passions. But is smart enough to keep them in check. A trait that's too much in short supply these days.
Been trying to get my stuff packed and shipped. It's been a nightmare.
Because of the postal strike last week, my plane ticket, my student travel card and my Eurostar ticket have been lost in the mail. I shall have to drop by the travel agent's in London before I head for Waterloo station to catch my 3pm Eurostar to Paris. The travel agent is definitely not going to be pleased to see me. I've been pestering her for my tickets over the phone for a week.
It took five phone calls to TNT before they could give me a decent quote on shipping my clothes, books and iMac back to Kuala Lumpur. They'll have to be shipped to Wolf's place until I find an apartment of my own. He still owes me RM2,000. He probably blew it all. That's ok, I've still got some pithy amount of funds in my bank account that will last me a couple of months. He sounded really depressed in his last email. Min left him, but I think they're still friends. She should have left him long ago. Poor bastard's got no future. It's been five years and he's only cut one demo album which he's been flogging around for that entire time.
Laure is meeting me at her apartment in Paris at 8pm. I shall have to find a way to get there myself. Par le vous Englaise?
Bad bad bad
I shall have to face the prospect of having to work in Malaysia again.
I won't have a problem finding a senior copywriter post. But it will be a dreadful and depressing experience. As you have noticed, I'm starting to display all the morose symptoms of depression already. That's why I said I'd have to stop blogging before I go back to Malaysia. If I carry on, this will quickly turn into a goth-blog.
Now it begins...
(In two weeks, I shall stop updating this blog. You won't hear from me for a long while, if ever. During which time, I shall try not to top myself.)
The camera icon now points to my Zing.com photo album. More photos soon.
Going back to work
There are a number of issues to consider before going back to work in Malaysia.
Lack of training in the advertising industry. The industry still uses tools such as the unique selling point. It will mean that I will get a lot of blank stares if I were to mention that the ubiquitous Porter's Value Chain would be a useful analytical tool to evaluate an organisation's marketing-readiness.
Lack of critical analytical thinking. This is related to the fact that very few people have attended university where training in methods of critical thinking is administered. This means that during planning stages of advertising campaigns, assumptions will be made without fully considering all the issues at surrounding the marketing situation. I will have to slowly introduce critical analytical thinking to my colleagues. This won't be easy and I will be accused of being argumentative since analytical thinking requires debate.
Lack of motivation to improve on current tools. This stems from the lack of awareness of other tools, a lack of motivation for accountability and from a lack of critical analytical thinking which might be used to create appropriate and relevant methods of planning advertising and marketing. If I were to suggest new methods and tools and strategies, I will be accused of loading more work on people who want to leave at 5pm.
Lack of managerial support for progressiveness. This stems from the penetration of the old boy network in upper management which views any new methods of planning advertising and marketing as threatening to their position. I will thus be accused of rocking the boat.
I cannot win. I hate my life.
Well actually nothing in the issues suggest that things cannot improve with slow and steady injections of training and making alliances with colleagues who have had some college training.
So it is possible for things to improve in the advertising industry in Malaysia. I shall have to play a massive catalytical role in the process. It will help that I am a recognised senior player in the industry. But if I accept my role, it will mean no sleep for me for the next twelve months. Sigh.
No confessions online
"Where two or three gather in my name, there I will always be"... I seem to remember something along those lines in the New Testament as said by Jesus but the Vatican thinks where the internet is concerned it should read "where two or three and a priest...".
Several churches are already broadcasting sermons on the internet. Admittedly most of these are of the protestant or one of the other evangelical denominations. But the catholic church is ignoring the potential outreach as it declares that the acceptance of confessions is not allowed on the internet
. Unfortunately the article does not elaborate on why the Vatican should feel this way.
The Mole Blog
If I wasn't going to be away next week, I'd join The Mole Blog
Fuji Finepix 2400
All I wanted out of a digital camera is something that would take quite decent quality pictures that I could use for website design. At 2.1 megapixels, the Fuji Finepix 2400 zoom suffices. It is one of the cheapest 2.1 megapixel digital cameras on the market right now if you can stomach the price.
It has all the standard features
including a self-timer, an LCD screen and three picture sizes (640x480, 1280x960, 1600x1200). You can manipulate the quality between Fine and Normal at 1280 and 1600 modes to give you extra savings on the file sizes. At Fine mode and 1280 picture size, the manual suggests that you can reach 101 pictures. You might get slightly more or less since the files sizes do vary quite a lot depending on the solidity of the subject and light conditions.
The flash comes in five modes. Auto, Red-Eye Reduction, Force Flash Off, Force Flash On and Slow Synchro. The others are self-explanatory except for the last one. Self-Synchro starts the flash but only after 3 seconds to allow more light to enter the image naturally. This is similar to the effect of slow shutter speed on a regular film camera so you can do those light-bending night shots.
There is also a pseudo aperture control on the camera. In manual mode, you can adjust the white balance and you can adjust the exposure on a scale from +1.5 to -0.9. The difference in quite discernable in low-light conditions.
The 3x optical zoom which stretches between 35mm to 114mm is a plus. It isn't terribly useful because at 2.1 megapixel quality, you can basically crop as you want on your image manipulation software like Photoshop without too perceptible an image loss. But don't expect to have a very sharp image.
Two things I really dislike about this camera. It requires fairly heavy pressure for the shutter button to register. I've missed several good shots when I hadn't depressed the shutter heavily enough. This is a design feature, not a flaw. A light tap on the shutter button allows the Finepix 2400z to adjust its autofocus onto subjects of your choice that you place in the viewfinder's centre.
The second thing I dislike is that it requires 2-5 seconds for the image to be constructed in the memory. If you forget that, or have shaky hands or are on a boat in the middle of the ocean, you'll get a lopsided image that probably has some motion blur. This means that no matter how good the autofocus is on the Finepix, you'll never get it 100% focused. And nothing in the manual suggests that it has a shake compensation feature. But it does have a shake-alert in case to tell you if you're shaking too much. But it only came on when I shook the camera to simulate a 4.5 on the Richter Scale. On the plus side, if you like to take action pictures with a slow shutter speed, this flaw is great.
Overall, it's not bad for a first camera. I can get used to the slow image construction and the heavy pressure shutter. But you'll definitely want to upgrade from this camera ASAP.
Just got a Fuji Finepix 2400 today. It's a decent digital camera. Been taking some snaps on the beach since it was a very nice day. But I came across one problem immediately. The 2400 requires a steady hand for a couple of seconds while it creates the digital image. So almost all my photos have motion blur on it because I was doing an indiscriminate snap-and-go test run of the camera.
These photos were taken at 1pm in the afternoon as I walked along beach. More photos here
Mother and child. A carefree child plays in Bournemouth Bay while her mother looks on.
Lonely ship. A single ship lazes on the water of Bournemouth Bay, overlooked by wisps of clouds and the Isle of Wight on the right.
The spire of St John's Cathedral. Framed by the blue sky and the greenery of Bournemouth Square gardens.
Beach front property. These are some of the beautiful and new houses built along the beach with a gorgeous seaview. For sale signs hang on several of the second-storey balconies -- the prized summer getaways for couples and families on house-share schemes. I was almost run over the road while crossing it by the couple whose car you see in the foreground. They were so anxious to move into their new summer home, before I could ask them how much they paid for it, they had slipped into it. I reckon, you could steal these for just �210,000.
Mmmm... beach bunnies.
Beach cliffs. Covered by the violet and yellow flowers of summer, these cliffs have seen countless invasions from Vikings first, then the Saxons and in World War II, hundreds of small ships filled with soldiers escaping the slaughter of Dunkirk beach. I was attracted by the surrealism of the juxtoposition of the wispy sky and the texture of the cliffs.
I was watching a show about a poker tournament the other night on TV. Here's a pretty good quote that one of the tournament organisers said regarding the game.
"Poker is not a card game played by people. It's a people game played with cards."
The 1st Kaycee Award
The Kaycee Awards are the occasional (as soon as I get my butt around to it) awards that are dedicated to people or organisations who provide the chicanery and fakery that makes life a bit more interesting. Politicians are not eligible to apply... they'd win all the time then where's the fun?
Today's award goes to: Columbia Pictures
For: Creating fake critic comments to sell their panned movies.
(So that's why Hollow Man was "so well-received by the critics"... hmmm. I wonder if the other studios do the same...)
Send your nominations to Tim
. Thank you and good night.
Conversation with Robert
Me: "My ambition is to make enough money so that I can buy domain name hosting for a thousand years."
Rob: "That's a Chinese thing to do."
Me: "How's that?"
Rob: "I mean leaving something for your ancestors."
For me I don't think it's so much Chinese as just an unwillingness to die quietly.
I've spent every year of my life searching for something. What I've found hasn't been what I thought I was looking for. I expected by this stage that I would be rich, famous or something. I thought through those things I would gain the respect I craved for. My life thus far has been barren of any of those things. I have not even found the self-confidence that might be a pre-requisite for fame and fortune.
I don't like myself any more than I did twenty years ago. That's why I guess I haven't found anybody I like to share my life with. Actually I haven't been looking. I'm the sort of person who will always be thinking "Why is she with me?". Then I'd feel trapped and try to push her as far as away as possible. I'd hate to be the sort of person to make someone else suffer like that.
I think I'll spend my entire life searching for something. As I chronicle it, I hope my journal might have enough drama, internal or external, to be worthwhile reading. That would be a really cool gift to try leaving to my descendants. An ancestor who was interesting.
I won't bore you with any more details than you've probably already heard about the movie
My advice is to walk into the movie 40 minutes after it has started then walk back out 40 minutes later. Don't stay for the beginning which is the bland love-triangle set up between the three protagonists. The ending is the revenge-for-Pearl-Harbor attack on Tokyo which left a really bad taste in my mouth for the suddeness of the turn-around of the defeat.
The people on Pearl Harbor were heroes already for having endured such a vicious attack. Why try to exagerate it even further by having a come-back? The film-makers made all the survivors look like twits.
While Roger Ebert might not recommend watching the movie
, I would. If only just for the detailed action sequence during the attack. Michael Bay borrows Titanic director Cameron's sense of detail while plotting each piece of debris and body-part flung during the attack and tracking their exact movements across the screen. Actually, Bay already showed his adeptness at this style of movie-making while filming Armageddon.
Truckers as mentors to kids
Here's a novel idea... how about we get a bunch of truckers and have them teach kids about life and trucking. It's been done
Etrucker.com purports to be an organisation that is "dedicated to helping educate and mentor the nation's schoolchildren via a pen-pal relationship between professional truck drivers and children in grades 2-8".
If I had an eight-year old kid I'd definitely want him to know the intricacies between driving down Route 49 and Route 50, where to get the best chillie en-route to Kansas City and how to hold an indepth debate over which waitress in Alabama has the biggest hooters.
Class of 2000 Harvard
This is an enormously funny speech written
by Conan O'Brien and delivered at his alma mater.
Switched to Diet Coke
I've always hated the taste of aspartame. Urrrk! It has a slightly sour aftertaste which is ironic for a product with a brand name like NutraSweet.
So when I had to switch to Diet Coke, it wasn't the easiest decision to make. I love caffeine. But without the sugar-rush, it doesn't do much good for me.
But I had to quit because drinking a six-pack of Coke a day was wrecking my teeth. It's true, kids. Just say no to Coke.
A guy enters a ritzy restaurant and he notices a gorgeous woman sitting at a table nearby, all alone.
He calls the waiter over and asks for the most expensive bottle of merlot to be sent to her, knowing that if she accepts it, she would be his.
The waiter gets the bottle and quickly brings it over to the girl, saying, "This is from the gentleman."
She looks at the wine and decides to send a note over to the man.
The note says: "For me to accept this bottle, you need to have a Mercedes in your garage, a million dollars in the bank, and 8 inches in your pants."
After reading the note, he sends his own note back to her which reads, "Just so you know, I happen to have a Ferrari Testarossa, a BMW 850iL, and a Mercedes 560SEL in my garage. Plus I have over twenty million dollars in the bank. But, not even for a woman as beautiful as you, would I cut off three inches. Just send the bottle back."
Bring me the head of the Sex.com bandit!
This is so rich! The guy who had the sex.com domain stolen from him then returned by a court order has offered a bounty of $50,000 from the $65 million in damages he received
on the guy who stole it from him and is now on the run in Mexico. Yeah! Kill him! Kill him! Kill him!
I can't help thinking that that's exactly what we should do to spam marketers as well. Fine them millions for the damage then use the sum as a bounty on their heads. Better yet, use the entire sum for the bounty. Yeah! Kill them! Kill them! Kill them!
The cafe was crowded yesterday so this really huge woman in a dirty striped and faded t-shirt with a walkman sat across from me. She was red and sweaty from the heat. She was so fat, for a moment I thought her stomach was going share the table with my greasy eggs and sausage breakfast. I couldn't help but think of a close-up shot of a pregnant farm pig lying on her side that I saw in National Geographic.
Sert brought her order and it was a salad and four slices of buttered bread. I remember thinking,"Lady, eating that salad ain't going to help your health. Why don't you order that hamburger you're thinking of." And then before she ate her salad, she did something I hadn't expected. She emptied half the salt shaker into her salad.
That's when I lost my appetite and returned my plate to Sert.
AIDs scandal in China where the health authority sold blood to pharmaceutical companies
and got several people infected in the process? Dude, this is Asia. What did you expect? Asian cultures uphold what you might call corruption! We just call it "helping each other" and "not my problem". Cynical, moi?
The Buddha and Hitler show
A funny site
. Uh, not really. But a cute idea!