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Thursday, October 31, 2002

The return of No (for good)

The exam results are out. As dreaded, mine's crap. The percentage is so low, if a computer had as much RAM not even Minesweeper would run. The GPA is so low, if a cow had as many stomachs it would be the bovine version of Callista Flockhart. And I could round up enough students in my faculty with scores anywhere close to mine to play a game of checkers inside a public restroom cubicle.

I've told no one, except Mr. Hanafi and my closest friends in the college. No one thru the phone. That's right, not even my parents or my best friends. And certainly none of you, through — heck — a weblog.

W-w-wait. Mr. Hanafi, the lecturer, college warden and the cultural dance group's advisor? Yeah.

We were having intensive practice sessions in the advent of Festival Seni's traditional and creative dance competitions. We start nightly at about 9 p.m. and may carry on until 4 a.m. Our advisor is usually around to look on while we practice and pour sweat off our asses. (You can imagine ME, the epitome of lazy, and my great hate for these exhausting nightly practices.) If it does get as late as 4 a.m., he at least soothes us with free supper.

One day, during one of our much-craved supper timeouts... as I was breaking off from the others to go wash my hands, Mr. Hanafi pounced. Being the warm and friendly man that he is, he beckoned to me for a private, chatty moment. He asked me the dreaded question.

How can I not keep the information from him?? He was asking in my face. To keep it short: I ended up getting comfortable and drifting into a lengthy discussion. A counselling session, maybe. I gushed out my boredom in studying to be an engineer and loads of other related stuff.

He then told me that matriculation students hardly have a chance to switch to a non-science faculty. And he solemnly advised me that career is something to worry about AFTER graduation.

And so I made my final, most ultimate decision. Remember what I mean by Yes and No? I now officially discard the Yes without hesitation, and embrace the No without remorse.

Am I crazy or what? After all you've been reading about the cowdung and horseshit I've been through, you must think there's something terribly wrong with the innards of my head now that I've settled on courageously staying put. Good luck to me.

Before he let me go (and let me satisfy the sacred call of hunger, forcryingoutloud), I declared to him that yes, I will change my outlook. And get excellent results this semester. It was like a damn promise. And I badly do intend to fulfill it.

I hereby pledge... to get at least... a big, shiny three-pointer... for the good and hope of slackers and underachievers... everywhere. [Imaginary Applause]

| 10/31/2002 08:28:00 PM Reading blogs at work? Click to escape to a suitable site!

Sunday, October 27, 2002

I joined a contest

Forgot to mention that I registered for the university's web design competition last semester. And I procrastinated for like a whole month before the closing date for entry submission, which was about a week ago. I called up the organisers and luckily managed to get some extension time. Twice. (I take pride in my sweet-talking.)

With the few days I had available I was able to put together a four-page website that fulfilled the minimum requirements. I had the slick English, the pro-looking design, the technical skill (I used XHTML, CSS and some stylesheet-switching Javascript for the judges to play with) and the code neatness going, but I wonder if some sloppy typos and my rather simplistic layouts would contribute to the possibility of not winning. I should think there aren't very many participants, which would give me an edge, but I can't just assume.

They will announce the winners tomorrow.

| 10/27/2002 11:46:00 PM Reading blogs at work? Click to escape to a suitable site!

Sunday, October 20, 2002

You might be living in a simulation

If you've seen movies like The Matrix and Dark City and et cetera, you'll easily understand what this is about. You and everything you know might not be real, and you can never tell. A comprehensive website addresses this intruiging subject.

Don't ask me what I think. Doesn't matter really.

| 10/20/2002 04:59:00 AM Reading blogs at work? Click to escape to a suitable site!

Friday, October 18, 2002

Dilemma 2

You know what I'm wishing? I'm actually wishing that I didn't send that letter, so I'd have more time to think! (Not that I had time anyway; the semester was over.) I must be displaying total stupidity, my shameful indecisiveness. But I can't take back what I told everyone and what I posted on a weblog.

Every day I get new insights on the subject of changing faculties (from engineering to education... what a departure.) and its impact on my future, both encouraging and not. I fear the future this much.

ENCOURAGING: I always imagined myself in university studying something that I want and enjoy, regardless what. I always thought it was the place and time to do that. Now look at me. I'm struggling in engineering. I'm not enjoying. Why did I choose it in the first place? I guess it was hip. Popular. I was good enough for it. And I didn't know what was coming. Besides, I had no specific ambition and I didn't know what else to take. Well, I had my taste, and I'm recoiling from it.

NOT: I'm confessedly reluctant to abandon the hipness that is being an engineering student.

ENCOURAGING: The job market has to be considered. Civil engineers, I heard, are the most unemployed engineers. Something like that. On the other hand, educators get jobs. Lecturers, especially, live a frickin good life. I know it's a risk hoping for this. But that's where I see myself, when I'm thinking practically.

NOT: One time, I asked my coursemate Jalie: "are you confident you'll get a job?" He paused as if it was the first time anyone ever asked... and then, smugly (he's well aware of my distress), he actually answered the question. "I could join the police force. My dad's a cop, y'know." It was then I was reminded that what you study now does not necessarily dictate your future career. Sigh...

And it goes on. After sending that letter, which signified my committed desire to change faculties, I felt stupendously relieved for awhile, and I thought the agonizing feeling of irresolution would go away, but no, not for long. Instead, the debating voices of ambivalence have only abbreviated themselves into the more desperate Yes and No. Ironically, it felt a lot worse. Crippling.

At the youth prayer camp I felt an overwhelming No, which means stay on in engineering. Was it a calling, a divine hint pointing me into the right direction? Don't know. I met a lot of enthusiastic engineering students there. Can that count as "a calling?" Be informed that Bundu Tuhan (sort of the #1 venue in Sabah for prayer camps) is surrounded by beautiful highland-rainforests, sans TV/radio/newspapers, and very forget-your-worldly-worries-for-a-weekend. So does the venue lend any significance to the No that I had? I was convinced it was. Come on, you would, too.

You can guess how devastating the No was, having already sent the letter. I was hoping my request won't be approved. Fortunately—in a sense that my sanity has been saved—I received a don't-worry-email (thanks Alicia) that helped put back into perspective what I'm really after in education: the simplicity, the broadcasting/journalism options (me very interested in these), and the salary, no doubt. I feel Yes again.

So. All is well, for the time being. Right now I can only worry about what the dean decides. Gulp.

| 10/18/2002 10:01:00 PM Reading blogs at work? Click to escape to a suitable site!

Back in KL

Well, I'm back. I probably won't blogging for several days because I'll be occupied with intensive dance practice for the university's coming Cultural Arts Festival, and if not, I'll be occupied with Jedi Outcast. Really cool first-person shooter, by the way. Correction: really cool first-person swashbuckler... when wielding the lightsaber, of course. Coupled with cool Force powers; y'know, all that telekinesis and mind tricks and electricity arcing from your fingers. Wild.

| 10/18/2002 09:48:00 PM Reading blogs at work? Click to escape to a suitable site!

Wednesday, October 16, 2002

Holiday post mortem

I'll be returning to KL tomorrow. And I just feel so thankful I chose to come back to Sabah for this two-week break. Met old friends, even made new ones, and simply being with people I CONNECT with, thanks in part to language/accent/dialect coherence. Ain't it grand to feel at home again.

If I weren't at home, I could've otherwise been in either Korea with the cultural dance group (only if I was selected to participate anyway), or staying at the residential college, playing computer games for all two weeks. I must've been mad to have actually considered it and miss having a super time at home! I actually did! I must've been totally insane!

What has changed after being away for six months:
- Mum bought a new desktop PC for the family. Not as cool as mine, even with Windows XP versus my Windows 98 (which I'm comfortable with).
- My brother Thur has a PDA, given to him by Dad who got it from his company and doesn't want to bother using it. He's only a school student fogoodnesake. (I want one.)
- My brother Wil is suddenly a fan of anime, watching the stuff day and night on AXN and constantly having the family PC playing annoying anime music.
- My cousin Bee from Tawau is now staying in our house. Apparently he's working here in KK.

KK herself and my brother Jason haven't changed much in six months. Disappointing somewhat.

I look really good. I'm bronze all over from the recent island outing. Feel really good, too. Warm and fuzzy inside. The sunburn isn't terribly bothering me and it doesn't feel like it's gonna last for more than just a few days.

Bye, home sweet Sabah! Wish I could stay forever. Bye! I'm frickin waving, see?

| 10/16/2002 09:31:00 PM Reading blogs at work? Click to escape to a suitable site!

Tuesday, October 15, 2002

Island in the sun

I'm so superlatively glad I'm back in Sabah for the holidays! I've just been on a two-day-one-night stay on Manukan Island with people from UMS whom I only just met by chance a couple of days ago. (Making me seem less wild, I'll mention that one of the guys was an old classmate, Theng.) Another bunch of great new friends made—another in Bundu Tuhan last week—within this one-short-fortnight break. Am I having the time of my life, or am I having the time of my life.

The ten of us took a remote chalet on top of a small hill by the sea; was perhaps the most expensive in the resort (Whoopee). Here's an unfortunate shot of my silhouette in the chalet with a view. Those are neighboring islands in the background. Go try use powerful imaging software to make out my facial features.

Who's blocking the great view?

Here's a candid of us guys swimming/snorkeling/wading in the sea close to sunset (The gals are somewhere else on the beach, and Theng was taking this picture). I'd say it's not one of the best, with the boat, jetty and buoys littered all over it. Heck I can't even make out which person is me.

A clump of young men, hardly discernable at this time of day, soaking in the late afternoon sea.

Sorry I didn't take better shots of the beautiful seaside panorama to share with. I was so focused on the people I was with, having just being acquainted, and getting along so well with them. And being a coastal Sabahan, world-famous tropical islands to me are like, what else is new. (Remember Survivor I? The venue was an island off Sabah, Tiga Island now a.k.a. Survivor Island.) Yet I didn't even take proper everybody pictures. The others did though with their film cameras, and I'm waiting for them to have them scanned and emailed to me.

I did try snapping a view from the motorboat that took us to and from the island (it's a few minutes away from KK), but it wasn't such a good idea since the boat went so fast it was practically skipping over the water; hence I kept missing my targets sitting in such an overly bumpy ride.

Don't get me wrong; I took lots of perfect pictures with my cheap digital camera, but most of them were solo, duo, trio and quartet shots of us. No point posting them here.

We — at least the swimmers and the enthusiastic — snorkeled almost all day long looking at the Discovery Channel tropical fish (some of which were constantly nipping at our legs) and the corals and other sea critters. The corals got bigger and weirder the further I explored. I went so far offshore, and they got so big and weird and colourful that I couldn't dare go any further for fear of whatever just-as-weird living thing that might grab me from under the coral jungle, shallow water or not. Pretty chicken for a guy who swam two football fields lengthwise off the beach, huh?

I was especially bonding with one of the guys, we being the only two good swimmers in the bunch. The pair of us explored deep, off-limits water together, sunburned together, napped an afternoon and slept the night together (we're just friends, please).

We had a barbecue dinner. Lots of chicken, sausages and fizzy drinks. Very appetizing when we first started grabbing away, but— Ugh... well, you can guess how we felt later as the night went on. Leftover meat and cola aplenty by midnight.

We had loads of time to play Uno (the card game).

We huddled together in the sheets that night with every intention of having a ghost storytelling. Theng, the ufologeek as I know him since school, kinda ruined it by shifting the paranormal-sharing-moment to the subject of aliens and his trying to convince us to believe in them. Ruined because we were trying hard not to LOL. The stories were still spooky, though, while still ridiculous...

The music cassettes collectively taken along were The Calling, Five For Fighting and Avril Lavigne. I didn't bring anything. Someone brought an MP3 CD full of Backstreet Boys and Aerosmith, among others. Ugh.

All in all, it was an great vacation. This outing with these people — strangers just three days ago — has made us definitely more than just acquaintances. Probably won't see them again for a whole semester tops, but we'll be keeping in touch. Promised I'd send them the pictures I took. Hope to see them again, and whipping out their own photos as well.

| 10/15/2002 06:28:00 PM Reading blogs at work? Click to escape to a suitable site!

Saturday, October 12, 2002

The world's funniest joke

It's official:

Two hunters are out in the woods when one of them collapses. He doesn't seem to be breathing and his eyes are glazed. The other guy whips out his cellphone and calls the emergency services. He gasps: "My friend is dead! What can I do?" The operator says: "Calm down, I can help. First, let's make sure he's dead."

There is a silence, then a shot is heard. Back on the phone, the guy says: "OK, now what?"

| 10/12/2002 02:12:00 AM Reading blogs at work? Click to escape to a suitable site!

Wednesday, October 09, 2002

WC3 isn't so bad

Understatement. WarCraft III is great. The gameplay is revolutionary. The graphics are top-of-the-class amazing. I was dissing it before because I had wildly different expectations after years of anticipating its release. We must never ever do that again.

After completing the single player campaigns and deciding that the whole tale sucked, I naturally moved on to multiplayer mode. Very refreshing. (Now, if only I had Internet connection.) Later I discovered the scenario maps, alternative games to play within WC3. (I remembered that StarCraft had these, too, sweet extras from Blizzard.) It was appetizing playing actual action-RPGs and arcade style games in our same WC3. WC3 is so versatile.

Of course, that led to entering the WC3 World Editor where you can create and script your own maps, and essentially, your own games. It's been said that the editor is virtually unchanged from what the game developers actually used to make the single-player campaigns. There seems to be few limits to your creativity in here, and it's mind-blowing to imagine what I might do here!

I had experience scripting custom games before in StarCraft. It's a time consuming process, which covers coming up with good story dialogue, landscaping the map and programming the in-game events. But it's fun, and once you have an idea in your head, it's engrossing. I was on my way to creating an elaborate StarCraft campaign (really), but shit, one day the computer went kaput and the hard disk had to be reformatted, and it was all gone. Heartbreaking it was to lose all that creative toil. No different from, say, losing that novel you were done writing halfway through. Just imagine that. Do you feel my pain now?

Anyway that was years ago. Forgetit.

| 10/09/2002 09:50:00 PM Reading blogs at work? Click to escape to a suitable site!

Monday, October 07, 2002

Back from camp

The youth prayer camp that Mum made me go was actually great. I wouldn't mind going again next year.

Thought it was going to be awkward since I had no friend available to take along that time. Plus I had a major haircut (cropped short but long enough to part; boring) only a few hours before I was off to camp. Plus I had my silver earring off which had been on nonstop for over half a year. Felt naked a little.

Of course I was wrong about the awkwardness. The familiar faces were mostly the ones who run the youth prayer group activities, and the ones who regularly show up. And though my face very rarely makes an appearance, they still recognize it. And they go:
"I remember you from somewhere..."
or: "I know we've met before..."
and even: "Oh, so you're Lionel! I've heard about you..."

Must admit, it's great when people, especially strangers, remember you, and even get really curious about you. I had a couple of getting-to-know-you conversations.
"Oh yeah, you were a baritone in the Christmas concert choir last year!"
"There aren't many Lionels and they're usually very interesting."
"What's a weblog?"

I feel bad about hating Mum making me go. Not because I enjoyed the camp, contrary to what I expected ab initio. One of the new friends I made at camp was also a guy who went because his mum made him. But a few days before, he had killed his best friend in a drunk driving accident. (He was to serve time in jail soon after returning from camp.) I understood that he unquestioningly went for this camp not just because there was no way he could say no to his mom, but also because he really needed this retreat for some serious soul-searching. To think that I was complaining to myself about not saying no to Mum.

| 10/07/2002 11:20:00 AM Reading blogs at work? Click to escape to a suitable site!

Thursday, October 03, 2002

Take off those glasses and get laid

No, it's not another teen movie. NewScientist reports that "Swapping glasses for contact lenses can dramatically increase success with the opposite sex, research on short-sighted students in a nightclub has found."

Hey, this is why I wear contacts.

| 10/03/2002 12:43:00 AM Reading blogs at work? Click to escape to a suitable site!

Wednesday, October 02, 2002

Home for the hols

End-of-semster break. Back home in Kota Kinabalu. What am I gonna do for two weeks?

Been hoping to meet old friends. But they're not having their holidays yet.

Mom signed me up for a youth prayer camp at the Bundu Tuhan Retreat tomorrow. Couldn't say no. I'll go. Not going to argue like once before. (It's not the first time I've been asked to go somewhere and do something almost immediately upon returning home for the holidays, which I don't like.)

Dad wants me to cut my long hair, which I was just starting to get used to. And he says it better be done before you go to the camp. Fine, fine, fine.

In the meantime, I'm trying out C&C Renegade which I bought for my little brother. I like it. Might even keep it. That's not nice.

| 10/02/2002 11:15:00 AM Reading blogs at work? Click to escape to a suitable site!