Tim's Blog

30 July

Carlos from Madrid sent me this postcard today along with the photo he took of my brother and myself at the Cable Library in Helsinki. I met Carlos while staying at a dorm in Helsinki. He writes,

Tim, here's your "torero"! Juan Belmonte is his name and I think he died a long time ago in the sixties. I don't much about "toros" but if you have the chance go to a "corrida" and check it out yourself. My best wishes to you and to the new couple! Adios, Carlos.

Carlos at the bus station before he left for Finnish coastal city of Turku for sightseeing.
06:12:55 PM - timyang - No comments

26 July

Sauna pics from Finland
I went to a sauna while I was staying in the Finland countryside. The experience combined nature and re-living childhood.

Me sticking my foot in the river while the sauna was heating up. There's a steamer inside the sauna room that burns wood.

Everyone else checking out the river. I think they said they temperature was minus 10 million degrees Celsius. I don't know. Wasn't paying attention.

Me in the sauna.

Everyone else in the sauna with me.

Me jumping into the river after the sauna.

Everyone in the river with me.

Hey, look! A UFO!
11:56:17 PM - timyang - No comments

24 July

Helsinki bay at 4pm. It didn't rain but it was overcast. In the distance is one of the Suomenlina islands.

The Finnish WWII submarine that was built at Nazi shipyards. Beached at Suomenlina island as a tourist attraction.

My brother's father in law, mother in law, my brother and his wife at the wedding party. Heiki is about to give a speech.

I can't remember his name, but he came with us in the same convoy to the wedding party in the countryside. I think he was the husband of one of Mari's cousins.

Mari's sister Laura dedicating a song to the wedding couple.

My brother Mark and his wife Mari.

They were made to sit through guessing games about their sex life.

Mari's father, Heiki, standing at the river near the cottage where we stayed.

The cottage where we stayed is on the left. The outhouse is on the right.

The river near the sauna. We jumped into it after several minutes in the sauna.
11:57:22 PM - timyang - No comments

23 July

I hate those holidays where you have such a great time and when you get back you find that many things have gone wrong. You come back feeling high then you're dropped down the pit of death.

Well not high, high. But high as in feeling good.

The first indication was when KLM put me on a MAS (Malaysian Airlines) flight back to Malaysia. MAS has the advantage of personal movie screens for each seat and airconditioning, but so what. They played Just Married and Kangaroo Jack for the movie selection. That's death, man.

MAS has the world's worst trained crew. They're robots. I'll bet if I turned them around, I'd find a key sticking up their butt.

MAS tends to hire stewards and stewardesses who aren't confident in their English and then train them to boredom. They only thing they can present you with is the routine. Take this for example:

Stewardess: "Menumenumenumenumenumenu-"
Me: (very loudly): "No, Arsenal."
Stewardess: (pause)
Stewardess: Menu, sir?
Me: Yeah sure.

It's as if MAS trainers don't trust their students and whack them on the wrist when they try to make a non-approved non-textbook response. The only time the crew was smiling was when we leaf the plane. You could smell the pure relief (or was it sweat) on them.

MAS don't put their pilots through the same training. These guys seem to really enjoy listening to their own voice over the really loud and scratchy intercom.

Pilot (over intercom): We are now ascending.
Pilot (over intercom): We will now be showing the safety information video.
Pilot (over intercom): I am going to take a leak.
Pilot (over intercom): Opps, I forgot to zip my fly.

Hell, the captain and first officer even gave their navigator a run at the intercom.

Navigator (over intercom): We are now flying over Russia.

Why the hell would I want to know that when I am at 35,000 feet and everything outside my window looks like tofu soup?
09:46:55 PM - timyang - No comments

22 July

Can't wait to get home
I've spent way too long in Stockholm and way too much money. For three days in Stockholm, I could have been three weeks in Thailand. I've also got to find out what the fuck happened to a bunch of things that were supposed to happen in Malaysia while I was gone and haven't happened and a bunch of people are too scared or being too much of assholes to tell me over email.
12:36:16 PM - timyang - No comments

Sleeping at airports
I just spent the night sleeping in a seat at Terminal 4 Arlanda airport in Stockholm because my flight is at 6.50am and I ran out of money. I laid out on some green and black seats facing the runway. Looks like the entire flight had the same idea. I get up at 5am and all the seats in Terminal 4 are taken by other people. The place is filled.
11:11:31 AM - timyang - No comments

20 July

Back in Stockholm
It was nice to be in the countryside, but now I can't wait to get out of Europe and back to somewhere nice and cheap.

I am finding out how the Lonely Planet is becoming a poor source of information. Here's my list of things that should be in the Lonely Planet but are not:

1) Keyboards. The @ symbol is created by holding down the alt-gr key (unique to Scandinavian keyboards) and the 2 key.

2) Don't change your money at Arlanda airport and at most money changers. They will charge a 50kr fee for each transaction. This is really killing for those who don't plan to stay long and want to change only small amounts. Instead, locate the money changer in the centre of town, a few minutes walk from the Central Station. It is on Klarabersgatan, infront of the Ahlens department store. They don't charge a transaction fee. But you won't need to change money until you get to town. The express bus into town takes credit cards for 170kr for a return trip.

3) The boat-hostel called Vandrarhem af Chapman is the first hostel on the Stockholm list. DO NOT STAY THERE! IT'S A TRICK! Staying on a boat might sound like a neat idea, but the damn thing has no ventilation. The rooms stink of dirty stocks even though you can't locate where the smell comes from. I've tried. And the current prices at 50kr more than the ones listed in the Lonely Planet.

4) Although I haven't investigated this fully, but the City Backpackers hostel looks to be a far better choice. THe Vandrarhem is a kilometre away from anywhere. It's on a tiny island that's no where near a super market. The City Backpackers hostel is not only within walking distance from the Central Bus and Train terminal, but also has a super market nearby.

5) Eat at McDonalds. I don't usually recommend this but in Stockholm, it is the cheapest choice. BigMacs are 25kr. Or if you want, take a street side hot dog which costs 20kr-25kr. Do not eat from the breakfast buffets at the hostels. They look at you funny if you try and stuff buns into your pockets.

6) Don't take the 2-hour boat tour of Stockholm's rivers. I'm not saying don't take any boat tour, just not that one. The commentary on the tour has less substance to it than the hot dog I just ate outside of the Nobel Museum. And you might think 2-hours gives you a very thorough tour, but you're actually stuck for about half hour at the two Locks -- the bridges splitting the Baltic Sea and the Stockholm lakes. Think about taking the cheaper and shorter history boat tour instead.

7) You can keep your left over Euro coins if you're coming from Europe and use them in Sweden for the internet machines at the Central Bus Train terminal. They accept 1E or 2E coins only.

8) Don't bother buying the Stockholm Card with free entry into museums. The museums are crap here.

9) If you've been to Brussels, Stockholm will look damned familiar. If we had a teleportation device, you could blink between Brussels and Stockholm and wouldn't notice a difference.

10) The cheapest public lockers are at the Arlanda airport, terminal 4. They're only 15kr there. The ones in terminal 5 costs 20-25kr. And the ones in town at the bus station cost 25-35kr. I got tricked into using the ones in terminal 5 before I found the ones in terminal 4.
07:48:22 PM - timyang - No comments

17 July

I'm in Stockholm now. I'm here to visit a friend called Erika who tells me she is now in the countryside on her summer holiday. Great! I get to see more of the Scandinavian country!

The thing about Stockholm that I notice is that it appears far more industrious than Helsinki. You can always judge that quality by the amount of construction debris you see piled on the road side. Bits of rubble, iron pilers, rusting tractors and those towering thingys that you always see lifting huge foundation grids at construction sites. The highway from the airport to Stockholm was lined with them. Compared to Stockholm, Helsinki (and the rest of Finland for that matter) is the Tidybowl of Europe. It is just sparklingly clean. Yanni was always picking up bits of debris off the road and when we were at the supermarket, she was picking up litter from the parking lot. She says it's just her nature. But I think it applies to a great number of Finns as well.
02:39:10 AM - timyang - No comments

16 July

The Finns invented the sauna (pronounced sahu-na), says Penti. Of course Nokia also invented the mobile phone. As well as spaghetti.

My brother doesn't like the sauna, dismissing it as a scalding bath. But it's a big part of Finnish life. When the Finns build a house, the first thing they do is construct the sauna. And there's nothing they like more than a sauna in the countryside.

They have six weeks of summer holidays, which many of them spend in the countryside in a sauna house by the lake owned by their family. Every family has one, small or large. I spent the last couple of days at the summer cottage of Jenni with her parents.

By the time I got to Jenni's place, I'd already experienced the sauna once. For four hours. You get really hot in the sauna, which can go up to 80-degrees Celsius then you run out and jump in the lake. I'm serious. The water is cold but after a sauna, it feels like heaven. Laura had warned me that Finns go to the sauna naked. Or at least she tried to warn me. I thought they'd make an exception in my case. So there I was: me, Mari, Yenni, Paula and Auli all scrunched in the sauna, buck naked. No wonder my brother hates it.

It's relieving, I swear to you. You have never experienced anything like the freedom of sweating everything out in a hot steamy room, running up and down a hill side buck naked and jumping into what would otherwise be freezing water. Then we just sat outside and enjoyed the hot afternoon, yakking away (still buck naked) in the meadow. I have never spent so much time with my skin. And no one thinks twice about it. For the Finns, you're the odd one if you don't want to do it.

Of course we couldn't spend that much time outdoors. The mosquitos and flies here are twice the size of anything in Asia. I caught a mosquito on my arm and I thought I'd switched my glasses with a magnifying glass. These fricking things are the size of cockroaches.

No wonder the Finns have never heard of roaches, the mosquitos ate them all!
09:59:38 PM - timyang - No comments

Penti, the father of Jenni (one of the bride's friends -- pronounced Yehnni) insists that Nokia is Finland's second largest industry AFTER logging. (And I believe him. For the first time in my life, I saw loo paper the thickness of a sponge.) The chief export, Penti says, is paper and wood. And there's a lot of wood here. Birch trees and fir trees line every road in the countryside. And they're not like the rubber tree plantations in Malaysia. They grow wild and natural -- as if Finland has its own Johnny Birchtreeseed.

The wedding was held right here in a cottage that Heiki, the bride's father built from the structure of an old school house which he taught in and later bought. Only it wasn't a wedding. It was a reception since there was no wedding, just a marriage in front of a judge a few weeks earlier.

Mari (pronounced Mah-r-r-r-r--r-r-r-r-r-r-ri), the bride, is a tall skinny and strikingly pretty brunette (or is it "tall pretty and strikingly skinny brunette"?) who is training to be a art school teacher. She'd invited everyone she knew from school friends to a woman whom she'd stayed with in Denmark when she was training there. My brother on the other hand brings Cole, a yoga teacher from California who moved to Finland 8 years ago to live in the same country as his kids and ex-wife. Yanni complained that Cole didn't even dress for the occasion, wearing just a wooly shirt in checks and grey jeans.

There was tonnes of food and Mari's sister Laura (pronounced Lahu-ra) did a solo on guitar, dedicating a song that I think Celine Dion sang to the newly weds after Heiki made a speech about good advice for the newly weds, with Rita, his wife translating into English for my brother's benefit. After several months in Finland, my brother has shown no indication of willingness to learn the language -- something that has Heiki and Rita worried.

The cottage became very very warm in the afternoon, despite a slight drizzle. I went outside to have a smoke that I bummed off Alex, a dark Cuban who is married to one of Mari's friends (whose name I don't think I got). The countryside is beautiful here. There are cows grazing in a field to the distance. Helicopters are buzzing around near the Russian border. Heiki says that they are Russian military, presumably looking for someone who has crossed the border illegally.

There's nothing but trees here. As we drive down the road to the cottage that we are going to stay in for the night, the tree line occasionally breaks suddenly to reveal a wooden house, or a field of green, a grazing field, or a field of yellow flowers that the Finns make cooking oil out of. The breaks surprise me, there is no warning ahead of time. Compared to Finnish agriculture, all others seem desperate with their clear-cutting measures. Finns seem to grow things without the need to measure rows or lines or maximise the yield of the field. The logging fields seem to have trees scattered from midair, a farmer with the hand of God.
09:29:18 PM - timyang - No comments

11 July

I'm in my brother's mother in law's house
My sister and I will be staying here till Wednesday while the rest of the family is in the countryside preparing for the wedding. The wedding is tomorrow.

Now we know why everything is so expensive in Finland. The Finnish middle class live like kings. I am in a 100,000 room house surrounded by a coniferous forest and butterflies that must look like a blind man's dream when it snows.

This is better than setting up camp in Ikea.
03:25:06 PM - timyang - No comments

The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry based in the UK has released a report stating that global music piracy is up and has a list of 10 priority countries to battle music piracy from. Malaysia is not one of them.

Heeeyyy!!! I demand a recount!!! We're numbah one!!! We're numbah one!!!
03:19:42 PM - timyang - No comments

10 July

Ric, Carlos and Kisma
I met an American called Ric Baldwin who took bunkbed A in my room and Carlos, a Spaniard from Madrid who took bunkbed F. Ric was a 40+ year old Greek American with dark skin, curly salt and pepper hair and a pair of aviator glasses which he wore at night. Carlos on the other hand was a smallish balding young man of perhaps 25 with a large lower lip and had never been to a bull-fight even though Ric raved about them from the time he went to Spain.

We went out looking for a boat to a collection of islands called Aland, in between Sweden and Finland that can only be reached onboard one of those pleasure cruises which the locals take to booze up on duty free alcohol. "You know you don't hear any horns," observed Carlos as we walked down the Esplanade. And it was true. In fact we were the loudest thing on the streets of Helsinki with Ric yelling, "People don't talk to each other on the streets here!" With every girl that we passed on the street, Ric made growling noises and yipping noises and I remembered that he said he was in the service in Vietnam.

Afterwards, we went to the Cable Library to use the free internet service and who happens to walk in but my brother Mark whom I haven't seen or spoken to in oooohh, five years. Even though Helsinki is a very tiny city, it was surprising. "Hey what are you doing here?" he asked. "Same as you," I replied. "Checking my email." He still looked astonished. "I have the weirdest luck," I explained.

I left Ric and my brother (I made arrangements to meet Mark again in Saturday at his wedding) at the library while Carlos and I went to go to the bus station to get him a ticket to an old Finnish town called Turku which the Lonely Planet says is the most photographed town in Finland. I decided to give it a miss on that review. Along the way, Carlos explained that next week he would be in France to take part in a mass pilgrimage called El Camino de Santiago to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. Thousands of pilgrams make that trip by foot every year in summer, some from as far as Germany. "You can even walk from Malaysia," suggested Carlos. I thought not, but I decided I wanted observe a Camino in Santiago in the near future.

I spent the afternoon (where I am now) on the island of Suomelina where I wanted to go see a beached German U-boat exhibit (which turned out to be a Finnish submarine commissed by the Germans, and not a real German U-boat -- you didn't know that the Finns were Nazi-collaborators, huh?) The exhibit attendant looked positively evil when I asked what number this U-boat was and he explained that this was not a German U-boat as he must have done thousands of times to thousands of tourists who asked the exact same thing.

I met with a Finnish goth girl on the pier who was one of the only five people I ever saw in Helsinki light up a cigarette. I took out a pack of Dunhills which I keep for the purpose of opening up conversations and asked her for a light. (I never smoke it, I just use it to pick up girls.) She introduced herself as Kisma - she had black-dyed hair and striking blue eyes. She said she comes to Helsinki every summer from her home town near Lapland for the annual heavy metal concert outside the central train station. "Tomorrow night you will see lots of people dressed in black. Just follow them." I said I would come, but I lied.
07:37:19 PM - timyang - No comments

Museum hopping
Went museum hopping yesterday.

Kiasma - The modern art museum of Helsinki. They have an exhibit there that consists a tent made of a porous cloth-like material in a darkened room with a human-sized statue lying on the floor wrapped in a black cloth. Approaching the entrance of the tent, I got a sense of dread of death living inside the tent. I hesitated for a moment stepping inside -- I guess it was about accepting death as part of life. There was also a special geek exhibit that consisted a large screen featuring three 3-D rendered wolves and you could make your wolf move and interact with the rest of the pack by growling and whistling like a wolf yourself. I think I was the first one to make the wolf have sex with the others.

Ateneum - Translated: "The museum of everything else that doesn't fit into the Kiasma". There was a oil painting there from the turn of the 20th century that featured a village girl and her fisherman father called "First lesson". The father looked so fascinated with his daughter that I wondered who was teaching whom. It also had a painting of a Russian woman dressed in black that I really wanted to just steal.
07:29:20 PM - timyang - No comments

09 July

I still get lost
Peter left today for his flight back to Germany from Stockholm airport. He told me about the daily ferry between Stockholm and Helsinki and I'm starting to regret getting that flight. They're apparently fun-filled booze-ups for the locals and a mini-holiday with parties onboard.

I know Finns love their alcohol, but this is too much. Every shop in Helsinki sells ale -- the department store, the boutiques, the antique shops, even the bookshops. Oh wait. I get it! ALE is the Finnish word for SALE! *slaps forehead*

Some toilets in Finland are funny. They don't have locks on them. You have to turn the handle upwards to lock the door and turn them back down to unlock them. The way I found out about them is when someone walked into the loo while I was peeing.

I found an internet cafe at a call-centre on the outskirts of the centre of Helsinki. There was an awful Australian girl there masquerading as an American. Loud, demanding and definitely very ugly. She tried to make a call to her mother in Melbourne and couldn't get the phone to work. Then she demanded that the girl at the counter let her use the shop's business line which she then proceeded to dominate for the following 40 minutes until the owner of the call centre had to call the counter girl on her mobile and tell her to get off. And still the Australian wouldn't get off the phone and got angry when the owner asked her to pay a small fee for the phone usage. "Don't worry about it, she's crazy," I told the girl at the counter after the Australian left because she was visibly upset. "Not all Australians are like that, but she's crazy." "Yah, she's crazy."

You don't have to worry about getting knocked down by cars in Helsinki. You just worry about the bicyclists. Some braniac at the city authority decided to put the bike tracks on the outside of the pedestrian walks. So when you want to cross the road, you have to look twice. Almost got run down three times today.

I also found out why I keep getting lost and why the locals can't help me. The damn maps are all wrong. Many street names don't appear on the map because the streets are too short and the damn names are too long for them. I ended up getting lost for three hours and wore my shoes out trying to get back to town from the call centre.

I also took the tram tour and went past the old senate house with the high steps and the statue of Tsar Alexander in front of it. As I was looking up at the building with the twelve apostles on each pillar, the skirt of an old woman flew up in the wind and I caught sight of what was under it.


Whatever I say about the Finns, they make excellent sandwiches. Now if only they could stop giving me gas...
05:12:21 PM - timyang - No comments

08 July

I'm staying at the Erottajanpuisto Hostel in a dorm room with 7 other guys. (Ok, that link took like ages to write -- the position of non-alphaneumeric keys on a Finnish keyboard is completely jumbled up.)

I got the lower bunk on one of the four bunk beds and Peter a German pastor from Bavaria has the one behind me. He's got a kind face, blonde hair and balding (but you can't really tell that at first because his hair is bushy and Einstein-like). He came in on the boat from Estonia on a 4 week holiday around Scandinavia yesterday a few hours after me. He says he's embarrassed and lucky that at the age of 40, he's still staying in youth hostels.

It took ages for me to find this hostel. I learned that you should never ask for help with the words,"Can you help me?" Finns tend to think you're asking for a handout and walk away. Instead I started asking if they spoke English and that opened them up. But it wasn't terribly helpful. Twice they looked at my Lonely Planet map and got our location right, but pointed me in the wrong direction.

I got up this morning and made the mistake of picking up my shirt from my bag on the floor. Then I realised it wasn't my shirt and it wasn't my bag. It belonged to the guy sleeping above me and he got up just in time to see me do it. I bet he wasn't pleased.

After a breakfast of milk and a candy bar that looks like a Finnish Mars bar, I went round to the tourism office downtown. There I found the kioski owner next to the "Tour Expert" office more helpful. He is a Chinese man of about 50 and you can tell he's Chinese because he looks exactly like Peter Seller's Fumanchu with a goatee and moustache, only shorter and with a stoop.

After collecting a bunch of brochures, I took the one hour city tour bus. As the recorded guide tape explained a bit about Finnish history, I realised the Finns bloody have no history. They were conquered by the Swedes for 600 years, occupied by the Russians for the next 100 and when it came to fighting for their independence, their slogan was (get this) "We are not Swedes, we are not Russians, so let's be Finnish!".

No wonder the Finland flag looks exactly like the Swedish flag but with different colours. No wonder they have two national languages (Swedish and Finnish). And no wonder their universities have to maintain two campuses -- one for Swedish classes and one for the same classes in Finnish. They've got Loser written all over. I'm just a visitor and I'm already disgusted with them.
10:18:55 PM - timyang - No comments

There's something very odd about Helsinki.

For one thing it's hot. Surprisingly hot. I'm getting a sunburn sitting on the bus. The sun's out. The fir trees are smiling. I'm still waiting for the reindeer to dance across the road.

No, that's not it.

It's not the fact that there's hardly any graffiti around here. All the graffitti I see are only on wooden hoardings of construction sites. As if the Finnish are afraid to mess up things that are permanent (maybe afraid is the wrong adverb to use).

It's also not the fact that service people here never smile. First time it happened was at the airport. The information counter woman told me where to get the city-bound bus as if she hated giving out that information. The second time at the bookshop in central Helsinki where I got some postcards. I thought it might have been something on my face or hair or something. Nope. They just don't smile.

It's not the odd number of blonde and tanned women in this city. And there are no tanning salons in sight.

It's not the fact that local burgers are the worst in the world. To all those people who say McDonalds tastes like cardboard, I dare you to try Finnish burgers. Hell, the Coke has more taste than the burger I got at a Finnish burger chain called Carrols.

I think it's because in a country where every child is born with a Nokia mobile phone embedded in his tiny hand, no one on the street is going HELLO! CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW! I'M WALKING DOWN THE STREET! YES, I'M BEING WANKER, HOW DID YOU KNOW? No irritating ringing tones. Nothing. This is a country where you can dial a Coke machine's number to get a Coke with no money needed. And there's no one using a mobile phone as if there's some kind of massive mobile phone pinching spree and everyone's lost their phone. Or if you're like me, left them in a taxi somewhere.
02:34:03 AM - timyang - No comments

07 July

Amsterdam Schipol Airport
It's 7.20am local time now. I arrived here half hour ago. I hate long haul flights and this one was about 13 hours long.

Couldn't get much sleep. At least this KLM flight wasn't like the Malaysian Airlines flight to London. In a complete reversal, this one was freezing rather than over-heated. My eyes didn't smart as much, but a blanket and a pull-over didn't do much good.

The seats were so cramped, you could squeeze pimples when you sit down.

And you don't get a personal screen. I could live without that, especially since they decided to show Daredevil on the cabin screens.


I notice KLM seems to select air crew based on how tanned they can get on layover. They all look like potential cancer patients.

And for some strange reason, the flight was filled with Chinese. Old Chinese, young chinese. Chinese who only spoke Mandarin. Chinese who only spoke very loudly. Chinese who make the plane bathrooms stink after they leave them.

I tried to make conversation with the Australian girl I was sat next to. Now that's a face I wouldn't mind waking up to in the mornings:

"Are you flying to something or flying from something," I asked. She gave me a look that meant None Of Your Beeswax. Then she laughed and replied,"A bit of both I guess." As we de-plane she helps me get my suit carrier from the stow-position behind our seats.

First thing I did when I got off the flight was to find a bathroom and get a shower. No showers, dammit. I thought KLIA was the only airport in the world that was so uncivilised. At least I got to brush my teeth. And I finally found this internet cafe that uses credit-card self-swipe machines for payment (no cafe attendant needed) at the rate of 3 Euros per hour half. These Dutch sure work fast to get your money while you're on transfer. My connecting flight is less than two hours from now to Helsinki.

A black guy with corn-rows at the sandwich bar asks me,"What sandwich would you like?" I look and oddly enough there are only four bacon lettuce tomato sandwiches on display. I nod and say,"A bacon lettuce tomato please and a coke." I hand him a 20-Euro note. He puts it in the till and asks me,"You gave me a 20, did you?" "No, I gave you a 50. Nah, I'm just kidding. It was a 20." If I hadn't stoped myself, I think he would have given me change for the 50.

As I eat the sandwich, the announcer comes over the intercom and pages for "Mr David Shite". It could have been some kind of German or Nordic name, but it didn't stop my Coke being coughed up.
01:37:45 PM - timyang - No comments

06 July

Flight to Helsinki
Sorry to pull this on you so suddenly, but I'm on the half-past midnight KLM flight to Helsinki via Amsterdam. Would you come and see me off? I'll be at KL Sentral at 9.30pm with my small backpack, duffel bag and a suit-carrier.

Why a suit carrier? I'm going to my younger brother's wedding. He's marrying some Finnish girl called Mari.

There's a story going around the family that when I was told about my brother's wedding, I said, "Two years six months."

What's two years six months?

"That's how long his marriage is going to last."

Not that I wish my brother ill. You see, my brother enjoys his personal freedom as much as I do.

(Anyway, I'm not going to repeat that story there. My new in-laws may not understand my sense of humour.)

I'll post from Helsinki (and also from my short detour to Stockholm to meet a friend) but expect it to be sporadic. The Scandinavians are excellent with mobile phone technology, but they're really crap with internet penetration.

If you'd like a postcard from either of those places, send me an email or leave a comment here.
09:44:15 AM - timyang - No comments

04 July

Jeezus, someone's been a busy Google bomber
Search on Google for weapons of mass destruction and click on I'm feeling lucky.
08:54:02 PM - timyang - No comments

Tabbed browsing
Just can't wait till the HTML standards committee adds a target="_tab" attribute to link tags. Wait! What do you mean they're not even considering it? *Tears hair*
12:22:54 PM - timyang - No comments

On top of KL Tower
My friend Julian is a hypno-therapist and on July 19th, he's doing a seminar for 40 people to conquer their fear of heights -- on top of the KL Communications Tower! (That's him pointing to the tower.)

So yesterday, we went to have a look at the facilities and speak to the managers of the Banquet Deck -- the level above the Observation Deck, the highest most people will reach. It's also the place where top-level government officials and industry chiefs hang out. And we were ushered in before another pow-wow was to take place.

The plan wasn't to rub shoulders, but to convince the management to let us up to the roof-deck of the tower and for me to take promo shots of Julian with my digital camera.

Success! We didn't have any trouble at all. We took the service elevator right to the top! Amazingly, there's barely any wind up there. And there's no guard rail on the roof either -- just a wide brim for the window cleaners to dangle their winches off of.

(Ok here's another shot of Julian on the roof of the KL Tower. My photography sucks, but it's a great excuse to take an excursion.)

In fact, while Julian was discussing it, the managment suggested bringing the seminar participants up to the roof! If that doesn't help them conquer their fear of heights, at least it will put hair on their chest. (Holy mixed metaphors, Batman!)

And, yup, that's me goofing off on the top of the KL Tower.
01:43:16 AM - timyang - No comments

03 July

I'm depressed. I just realised that my only actual skill is standards-compliant HTML and CSS scripting, of which I'm an expert. I can barely use Photoshop and I can barely read PHP and I rely on javascriptkit.com and dynamicdrive.com for all my javascript needs.

Good thing I've been offered the opportunity to do the generic design for Ditesh's new online catalogue software. I gotta get back into HTML or I'll lose that expert edge.

(If you're going to go check this blog's code against W3C's HTML validator, it won't validate. I haven't updated the template to match the latest W3C standards yet. And of course some scripts just won't validate.)
12:35:23 PM - timyang - No comments

In the news today
Roman Abramovich, a Russian oil baron, takes over the ownership of Chelsea Football Club. Said Abramovich of his new purchase, "I enjoy England and I'd like to see every Chelski, er, I mean every Chelsea game."
11:19:15 AM - timyang - No comments

02 July

Terminator 4
Yes, it's in the works. Well as least as far as the new media arm of International Media Film, the producer of Terminator 3 is concerned.

They bought up terminator4-themovie.com, terminator4themovie.com and terminator4themovie.net. But they were very late to get terminator4.com, .net and .org. Sorry fellas, but you won't be back.
01:32:45 PM - timyang - No comments

Penny-arcade.com is brilliant

[via Jennythegreat] <-- Aizuddin, this is what we call "attribution".
03:09:09 AM - timyang - No comments

01 July

ISP-level anti-spam or ISP-level bullshit
TMNet, a local ISP, has been spending thousands to tout a new ISP-level anti-spam and anti-virus service. A call last night to their offices reveals that it is a selective service that only applies to people who use their @streamyx.com or @tm.net.my POP email service. How can they call it an ISP-level service when it only applies to email users of only two domains?

(Since they have a definite potential user universe and they have direct access to them, it begs the obvious question: couldn't they have just emailed all their users with this promo instead of wasting all that advertising money which they could have plowed back into getting more resources for their clogged nodes? Doh!)

Apparently this service scans "attachments and body text" for viruses. WTF virus is there in "body text"? (What, will my eyes melt if I read it?)

And their anti-spam service also purports to filter out emails with "racial slurs"? WTF?! If anyone has subscribed to this service, can I send you an email about the shiny CHINKS in armour of the COON Rapids, Minnesota, reenactors club and see if gets through?

This we get from an ISP that cannot even be arsed to set a non-www URL (cannot be resolved) despite controlling their own servers.

Actually on reconsideration, there is an implicit threat in a body text filter. One wonders whether such a filtering service will be used to filter out references to the prime minister or embarrassing late night shenannigans of a politician or police chief. Stay tuned.
07:42:19 PM - timyang - No comments

Recognized around the world as the best source for completely fictional news and information.

When you're not looking for a reliable, accurate website for computer industry news, there's only one place to go:


All fake. All the time.
[via Blogdex]
01:52:43 PM - timyang - No comments