Thursday, January 29

The Long Dark Tea Time Of The Soul

I absolutely HAD to use that as a title. It was too good to resist (and I think by now most of you will concede that I am a Douglas Adams addict).

It's been nearly a week since my previous entry. In that space of time I've been rushing to work and back, invigilated exams, spent huge amounts of money, laughed (and secretly cried) and basically trying to cram as many "good" time memories into a week as I can. That familiar sinking feeling in my stomach's back, and the familiarity does not help despite what people say.

There's about a week left. I've ranted before about how time can fly, so I won't start again. As I write this entry, I'm also composing a quick email to a certain university regarding my PhD placement. Over the past few days those evil little niggling doubts stopped by several times bringing with them their (usually) unhelpful cargo, and usually at night:

"Are you sure you want to do this?"
"You don't even know if you have a chance."

To a certain extent, these doubts are only to be expected, if only to remind myself that as with everything else in life there are no guarantees, and right now I'm toying with a particularly dangerous flame. Honestly speaking, I don't even know where to start once (or if, God willing) I get there. The place I'm at now is not an easy one to get out of, and how do you rebuild that old feeling?

It may turn out that I very well can't, and that some feelings are dead forever. We can't magically make someone feel a certain way about us, no matter how hard we snap our fingers or twirl around in our ruby red/black/suede sneakers/pumps/heels (or in real life, try). That is the risk I'll have to keep reminding myself of, and perhaps the reality I will have to accept. What I can do is make sure I get my doctorate done reasonably well.

And of course, if that tiny .05% chance does appear, maybe I can get that other thing, too.
Anyone care for a spot of tea? This particular tea time lasts quite a bit.


Sunday, January 25

And Then You Wake Up..

Which I just did. It's Sunday already, dammit. Continuing yesterday's thread, this particular day of the week has always been my least favourite. This is simply because of all the endings it signifies: of weekend revelries, of sleeping late and getting up doubly late (which I'm incapable of doing) and of swatches of time gone by that you know are gone forever.


There are times when life feels like someone pushed the fast-forward button a little too hard, and this is one of them. There seems to be a million things to do before she leaves but hardly enough time to do it in. And I can't get over the feeling that I need to make sure she's got loads of good memories to take with her, simply so she doesn't get lonely..and so she doesn't forget.

I've said this time and time again: I hate goodbyes. They're necessary, yes...but altogether too nerve-wracking. Watching her pack, I'm torn between that selfish urge to stop her and plead for her to stay, while the rational part of me reminds me how I'll never forgive myself if I do. I don't really tell her I still love her, though. I think she knows. It's one of those character faults I have: I let things like that leak into every action I take.

So we've got a week and a half. That's alright. There are things I wish I could have done better (or over) but all in all I stand the same. Thank you for the memories, and I think we have just a little more time to make some more.

You can never have too many of those, eh?


Saturday, January 24

This Is One Of Those Posts..

..that don't really go anywhere.

I love Saturdays.

Sitting lazily in an armchair on a Saturday morning (with my head buried in Karim Raslan's Ceritalah), I realise that for the first time in weeks, I'm actually at peace. Maybe it's one of those POBT (Pockets Of Bullet Time for the uninformed). Whatever it is, explanations are unnecessary. I just love Saturdays.

They're those interstitial (I wonder if that's the correct use of the word) days when everything's in-between: you don't actually have to do anything, and it's another day you can stay up late or go out, or whatever. As far back as I can remember, I've always gotten up early on Saturdays. They were always too precious to waste. During my boarding school days, it was the time we had the most fun (especially since most other kids would go home and leave the grounds for us to conquer). On weekends that I did go home (or holidays) I'd get up early anyway. The Edison Twins, Ewoks, SuperGran, Starsky and Hutch and the various cartoons were just too tempting, plus can any Malaysian tell me they haven't at least heard of The Girl From Tomorrow?

Now that I've grown up (or at least I think I have), I've found that Saturdays haven't really changed in their capacity: as days when lazing/hitting the Xbox or PS2 with Jo/attempting to swim/karaoke are optimal, and best of all, excusable. The best parts of it is that little stretch of time between 7.30 am and 9.00, when hardly anyone's awake and it's nice and quiet and somehow...private. It's one of the best times I know for cuddling (and whatever else it entails), reading or just being with yourself.

Did I mention I love Saturdays? Hopefully yours will be good, too.

Take care, people.


Friday, January 23

So Much For The Afterglow

It's 1 am on the second day of Chinese New Year. The reunion's done, vast amounts of food have been ingested as well as copious amounts of laughter, and everyone's so, so tired. I'm supposed to sleep sometime soon, but I think I'll ramble on for a bit. On the whole it's been a very good celebration, with happy faces and mostly happy memories. There were some of those twinges especially during the day when the cousins were with their respective partners, but thankfully I was kept busy enough that I didn't have time to concentrate. Maybe later.

I'm at as much peace as I can be, for now. So far the "taking it one day at a time" approach is working fine, and I hope it stays that way, at least until she leaves. Can't believe it's only about two weeks away. I know I'll miss her terribly, and I know it'll take some time till my life settles again, but I'm pushing for the PhD thing, and who knows? I might be leaving in a couple months.

Till then, I'll squeeze every last day to its fullest, thanking God for the small favours and working hard for the big ones. And better than any angpow packet is those Pockets Of Bullet Time. Thank God for those, too.

Good night, you. Hope you had as much fun as I did.


Wednesday, January 21

Morpheus, This Is Just TOO Weird

This is an early, early post. I should know, since it's bloody 6 in the morning and I'm up after a particularly weird dream. I'll try and transcribe it before it runs off like they always do.

It started off with me and an unidentified girl (she looked mat salleh) who were characters in this black and white movie. We found ourselves trapped in a strange castle where everything outside looked like some village in the UK. As we made our way out, we found that said castle led to a thick forest. The escape looked good until we got trapped by the master of the castle and his cohorts, strange animal-like beasts. Their master cast a spell that left our bodies sleeping in the forest but our souls trapped in a dream. For some reason, I was unafraid and managed to trick them into escaping. Weird point number one: I did so by persuading the master to change into a pot of hot tea and drinking him (hmmm). The whole process was convoluted and involved myself telling many stories, including one about an evil regime who executes dissidents by making them lie on their stomachs naked and stabbing them with bayonets up you know where. And there was a ring involved, too.

Anyway, we woke up from the spell and made our way to the outskirts of the village we saw when all of a sudden the locale changed into something very much resembling Tioman, and the girl had changed into my ex. To make things even stranger, her whole family was there including several uncles and aunties. Apparently we had several rooms there, and though the weather looked stormy and ominous, we were all gleefully heading out to the beach to snorkel. I was quite irritated to see several colleagues were also there. We made our way to the beach (which looked increasingly like Tioman) and I could see a lot of people already setting off in boats to a little island located just offshore. Weird bit number two: There was a lot of fish, including sharks AND though the weather was absolutely stormy, around that little island it was as calm as anything. Even the clouds formed a ring to let in the sunshine, while outside it was all dark and stormy.

As we walked to the jetty (me, my ex, her family) we could see a lot of people rushing to the beachside to look at the various strange fish that were swimming close to shore. There were sharks, weirdly shaped dolphins and even technicolour fish. Suddenly, we saw something that looked like a walrus bobbing its way along the shore. My ex shrieked in delight and was about to touch it but I knew something was wrong about it. I was right. As we got near it, it suddenly reared up out of the water to reveal a long appendage that opened up into some sort of sucker and it started wailing like a banshee. I managed to pull her away before the thing somehow caught me and started pulling.

I decided then that enough was enough, so I woke up.

Ugh. I wonder if can decipher THIS. A lot of familiar themes around in this one, and I'm sure it's someone trying to tell me something about my current predicament, work, emotional or otherwise. Anyway, more updates later..have a safe one, people.


Tuesday, January 20

Sometimes You Just Exist

Second day of pre-CNY preparations, and am happy to report that am still reasonably well balanced (well, at least as well balanced as I can be). The little turmoil going on inside the head/heart took a back seat to a rather full day of rushing about and getting things done (not to mention the shock of what happened in JB recently). Whatever was going through the mess that is my emotional state quickly took a backseat to that, and as usual it was a much needed reminder that the world is bigger than any one person's yearnings, or whatever you call it (thanks for those who wrote with their concerns).

There will be nothing anyone can say that can bring that little girl back or even really console the parents. The fact of the matter remains that through a mix of inaction/complacence and opportunity, three beasts took it upon themselves to torture and hasten the death of a 10 year old girl. Point all the fingers you like, it's happened. And unless we stop making promises and actually DO something, there will be other Nuruls. We may not even know their names, next time.

Perhaps some think it trivial if I link it to the recent finale of CSI. Why did that episode grip us so much if not for the fact that we're all too frightened to imagine little Emma and Robyn's fate had Stewart Otis really had the time he needed? Sexual deviants are not only in novels, tabloids, movies and crime series. They share our world, they co-exist with us. In short, they leech from the lives around us to feed their own twisted ones.

To those responsible, I hope you get caught. And I have faith that no matter what religion you choose, what gods you serve, none will look kindly upon your act. I won't even pray that they have mercy on your souls. There are some who don't even deserve that.

Al fatihah.


Monday, January 19

Chinese New Year Redux

So here I am again, a year gone. Arrived this afternoon at her house for the customary pre-CNY helpabout. Right now, everyone's in a festive mood and there's a lot of rushing around and last minute preparations to handle. Which is perfectly fine in my book. Some might think it strange that I choose to hang around even though there's no technical obligation to. That's perfectly alright, since even I think that way, sometimes.

And the best thing is, I'm not even Chinese. I've been spending the last 3 CNY celebrations at her parents' house in Perak, drinking in the atmosphere and festivities, so much so I've never realised how much we were a unit (yes, were..I know it's in the past tense) until most of her relatives/friends unconsciously ask after me when they talk to her. Pity the girl. It's like I left a "we" stigma on her (sorry, dear).

Funny, huh. I remember how scared I was the first time I joined them, and how self conscious I was. Fast forward a couple years and it's amazing how close I've gotten to the family. I can't even imagine considering severing my ties with them since being around them is just one of those things that just...make sense.

I'm glad that up to this point at least, I've been able to keep a somewhat stable hold on my emotions. This friend role needs some getting used to, but thank God I've been coping not too badly. It's just the way it is: I'm still quite in love with her, and there are times when the yearnings are almost overpowering and you just wish things could go back the way they were. Sometimes it gets weird how I can "discover" things about her that just make those feelings stronger, and I end up falling more and more into her, as it were.


But they can't, at least not now. So whatever it is that's churning inside my muddled head (and various other body parts) will have to stay there. It's not often that the Ox lives in the moment, but for the next few weeks, he'll try to do just that: taking it in as it comes and enjoying every single minute of it.

I'm actually okay, and I'm (quite rightly, I think) very amazed. For those of you celebrating Chinese New Year, drive safe and have a good one. For those of you who don't, well..enjoy your holidays, anyway (but I tell you it's fun!!).

For now, if you'll excuse me, I've got some holiday cheer to absorb.


Sunday, January 18

Slight Delays

Woke up late. Had TWO of those dreams again, and this time they were so intense I actually DIDN'T want to wake up.

If they're harbingers of the future, I hope they're accurate.
The Ox can't take too much of this.


Saturday, January 17

On The Road Again

The Ox is packing. He's leaving up north tomorrow, for a week till the end of CNY. There are several things that require his attention up there, and some of them are very close to his heart (plus they won't be here for long). So as usual, he's trying to stuff FAR too many clothes inside a single bag while wondering at the same time: where did the time go?

He's a little worried. The clock's ticking, and he needs to rush his PhD application (not to mention possible sources of funding) as soon as possible if he wants to leave before June. Right now the single overriding fear in his mind is that he'll muck up and lose this window of opportunity. It stays close to him, this fear, always in the corner of his eye. And he knows more than anything he needs to get moving faster and get more results. "Focus, Ash. Focus" he chants like a mantra, hoping it'll help him clear his mind and draw a bead on what he really wants (or perhaps what he THINKS he wants).

He's scared. But he also knows that no-one can do this for him. He needs to finish this once and for all, and maybe the other thing will sort itself out. The Ox truly doesn't know. There are dreams to be chased (even if they are ultimately only shadows and dust) and some semblance of happiness (perhaps). So he'll walk/run/swim/fly, simply because he has to.

And perhaps more accurately, because he wants to.
Good luck, me.


Friday, January 16

Ash The Ox Has An Adventure

Well, not really an adventure. That's just a title I thought would bring more people to me blog! What DID happen however, was something that made me rethink some things, and remember others. I was in Sungai Wang this afternoon, making some purchases. As I was walking towards the HSL in BB Plaza, an elderly mat salleh man beckoned to me in the walkway. He was smartly dressed in a light jacket and shirt and more importantly looked very very lost. As I found out a minute later, he WAS. According to Allan (as I found his name was), he'd just bought a little pendant from one of the numerous arts and crafts stalls in area and decided he needed to make an alteration to it. Unfortunately for him, he found himself on the second floor of Sungai Wang with no idea where the entrance he came in from was.

I remember looking him up and down whilst he was explaining his predicament. It sounds mean, I know but I guess living in a big city it becomes almost second nature to do so. He was a typical old Briton, slightly stooped and quite pink (we're legendary for roasting tourists, you see). He was clean, didn't smell of liquor and was quite obviously embarassed having to explain to a young man like me how he got lost. I did what anyone else would have, I think: I offered to help him find his mysterious "entrance". Besides, it's not like I was in any kind of rush, anyway. I nearly laughed when this bent old man suddenly straightened up and asked me "Shall we have an adventure, then?". I could only nod.

So as we walked (and sometimes stumbled) I found out several things about my new friend: that he'd been retired awhile, that he was in transit after visiting (of all places) New Zealand and Australia and that he was amazed just how much things have changed since the war. He told me that he used to be an engineer, and before he retired he worked in the Education Department back in the UK (in a place near Manchester, I think). After a group tour earlier today he felt like walking, so he made his way to Sungai Wang from his hotel (!!). We spent the better part of an hour looking for anything that could remind him of his bearings but to no avail. I could see that he was putting on a brave front (lost people tend to do that regardless of age) and he was trying very hard to remember where he'd been. From time to time he'd grab my arm to steady himself, or instinctively put his hand into mine as we made our way down the escalators. I remember thinking how vulnerable he must feel, all alone in a bustling shopping complex and putting his trust in a (rather absent minded) fellow he hardly knew.

As we stopped for the umpteenth time outside the complex he suddenly brightened when he saw the ParkRoyal hotel across the road. He said he remembered having some drinks there the night before and he'd be able to find his way back to his hotel. I was worried, and offered to call him a cab but was cheerfully refused: "Don't worry about me, even I don't worry about me." With a very firm handclasp and some profuse thanks, he made his way into the crowd and melted in the throng.

I stood there for several moments, hoping to see him (or his jacket covered back, at least) but somehow the little old man had gone. As I walked back into the complex, I thought of how brave he was, not letting his age and physical condition stop him from travelling ("The doctor says I ought to walk at least a mile a day,") and how frustrated he was that he couldn't remember how he got to the second floor of Sungai Wang. It's a fear I know well, since my family has a history of Alzheimer's. But the thing I remember the most was how for a moment he had this twinkle in his eye and a cheeky look on his face and invited me on an adventure. It was like in all the Enid Blyton books I'd ever read.

So, Allan (I didn't even get his last name) I hope you're okay. I'm terribly sorry I couldn't have helped you more, but I trust you wouldn't have wanted it too. I DO know that if ever someone asks me on an adventure (or something like it) I know exactly what to say:

Yes, let's. An adventure sounds good.


Today's Episode Has Been Brought To You By The Letter "I"

It's been a long day, but one that ended on a surprisingly mild note. Was hard at work throughout the morning and afternoon, balancing exam papers, thesis submissions, an unstable emotional state and various other items. By the time I left the office, I was just eager to land on a couch somewhere and sleep.

That was shot to shit, but in a good way. Jo called and invited me for a gaming sleepover. Haven't had one of those in awhile, so was quite excited. So what's a gaming sleepover? It's basically several hours of solid PS2/Xbox gaming followed by another couple hours sleep. This is why I'm in front of the monitor at 1.30 am, waiting for a wave of drowsiness big enough to swallow me and take me to whatever land single mixed up Taureans dream of. The adrenaline from Ghost Recon is just about subsiding, and I'm happily wallowing in the afterglow.

It's a hectic semester, but I'm determined to at least try and get my PhD affairs over and done with ASAP. There's a lot riding on this be it careerwise, emotionally and even physiologically (I think). The destination, God willing will be somewhere in NZ or Australia. Even if it IS a long shot, all we can do is try.

And try I will. Or maybe try isn't the right word. Maybe we need something more concrete, so at the end of tonight's ramblings we turn as usual to the wisdom of the Jedi:

"Do, or do not. There is no try."

I happen to think so too. Amazing what little green puppets can tell you, isn't it? Good night, and God bless.


Thursday, January 15

Never Sleep On A Full Head

An old friend of mine blogged about the things she misses in her life. Looking at her list I realised I if I had one of my own (which I think I probably do, but have squirrelled off somewhere) it would read almost exactly the same.

In a way, perhaps that list reflects what I've come to expect from a relationship. Almost a year down the line, and I find that I keep feeling the same way and having the same instincts (ie the urge to send a text when I see something my ex would like, or the way I unconsciously think of "our" availability before agreeing to anything). Funny, it's so automatic it's like breathing. Only this time, there IS no "us". It's been gone for the past 12 months.

This post is rather directly inspired by a dream I had last night. It was one of those painful ones, where in it you're blissfully happy but at the same time painfully aware that it's just a dream and in the end you'll wake up. I haven't had one of those in awhile, and usually I wake up grumpy and irritable (when am I not, I wonder?).

I need more things to do, I think. On slow days like these, oftentimes work is the best solution.

And hopefully I'll be able to keep myself busy. Am looking forward to a slightly better afternoon.


Winding Down

It's past midnight, and I should be sleeping. There's an 8 am class tomorrow, but I'm not too worried (since I'm giving them assignments to take back during Chinese New Year. I've been in front of the PC since about 8 pm tonight, still drafting exam questions. This is the first time I'm actually in charge of a subject all by myself, and it IS a little freaky knowing that my questions will be scrutinised and debated if they're not up to par (or more likely IMO too much above par).

I wanted to blog about my first ever entry, earlier..but I think I'll save it for the Insane Ox's first anniversary, which is coming soon. Besides, my brain's a bit too drained to think. CSI: Miami ended its run on AXN tonight with what I consider to be one of the best season finales ever attempted for a TV series. It was a tad melodramatic at the end, but all in all it was easily one of the best episodes for the series and serves to pique our interests for more. Here's hoping the talented team of writers will continue churning out good storylines/plots before retiring gracefully (and not go the way of the X-Files).

Well. Anyway, I'm supposed to be asleep. This is a dangerous time for me, this little window between the death of one day and the birth of the next. For some reason it's one of those times when I'm most vulnerable (there are others of course, but no sense telling everyone everything). Usually it's at times like these when my brain starts to wander which in turn unlocks all manner of things I'm better off not thinking about.

I've heard that in the UK they had a reality show where the contestants are not allowed to sleep for a number of days to see who could remain lucid the longest. Interesting. I remember instances when I did that and everything started to bleed into one another, like the shiny film rainbow thing on an oil puddle.

Right. I definitely need some sleep. Actually, what I need is some peace.

From myself, and from the little voices in my head that wish, and want, and hope.

Goodnight, and safe dreams.


Wednesday, January 14

And In Other News..

Right. Here I am, supposed to be drafting exam questions for the upcoming finals (and the deadline for questions is Monday!!) and what am I doing? Blogging yet again. It's too hot for me to even think of what to ask the students, and honestly I don't have the foggiest idea how to do this. Oh well. Anyway, here are some highlights of the day so far:

1) Free lunch, courtesy of faculty Langkawi trip Post Mortem. There was Satay. Yum.

2) Dean (who was also invited) specifically asked me (very loudly, I might add) if I'd filled in a circular regarding my imminent PhD departure, even though there were other candidates in the room! Might this be a sign?

3) Volunteered to be one of 3 faculty members to draft questions for a national ICT competency exam. Stint starts in Feb, and promises some pay (as well as extra visibility!). Volunteered almost as soon as the Dean popped the question. Office politics at work here!!

Am hoping these initiatives will grease the wheels when I submit my application for my doctorate. It's the home stretch now, and everything counts.



Sorry's Always The Hardest Word

There was another card in my room this morning. Couldn't really miss it, actually. The bright yellow envelope practically screamed to be opened. As I sat down, I debated opening it. On the one hand, opening it might lead to a whole other world of messes. On the other, it's not like this thing is actually threatening, or I'm in an actual relationship with someone (not in real life, anyway). So I opened it.

Two lines, ending with: I'm sorry.

No teddy bears, no weird flowery messages. Just an apology, for a perceived wrong done.

This is new to me. Not entirely new per se, just long forgotten and unfamiliar. It's been awhile since I've even considered myself any kind of attractive, so you can imagine the effect something like this would have. I'd be lying if I said the attention wasn't..flattering, or if I said it was totally unwelcome. Sometimes we're too busy chasing shadows, we lose sight of the small things. And honestly, right now, I wouldn't mind a little distraction at all.

Maybe having an admirer of sorts wouldn't be so bad after all.

And for what it's worth, I'm sorry too.


Tuesday, January 13

Great and Not-So-Great Expectations (Remix)

Hello again, people. Was rather rudely awakened this morning by another cheery message from my "fan". Managed to resist urge to send very cruel retort by remembering that for all she knows she's just being friendly. Can't blame people for that, eh? Getting my very own secret admirer of sorts set me thinking yesterday of how as we progress through life, our prejudices and expectations continually evolve as well. Yup, I said prejudices. Like it or not, almost everyone has their own. It may be as simple as not liking a particular brand of electronics to something as un-PC as disliking an entire race. Whatever it may be, as humans we'll definitely be able to find something we don't like.

But I digress. As I was driving back from work, I found myself thinking back to when I was in primary school and got my first fan-sent letter. I was in Primary 4, and she was two years older (for some weird reason that's always been the case, at least till now). I remember taking a look at it and very quickly tearing it up and stuffing it into the trash bin. Guess even then I was a snob. Of course, one could rationalise that it was the classic case of girl-bashing that every schoolboy goes through, but then I remembered exactly why I did it: I had this amazing crush on another girl (who of course, didn't even know who I was). Gah. And did I mention it lasted all of 3 years? As a schoolkid of course, what I wanted was very simple. To be cool, and to have a girlfriend (looking at myself now, I don't think I've fulfilled either criteria). Mostly I just wanted to be accepted. I was a bit too nerdy, back then.

In my secondary years I came to understand that I would only be interested in a certain type of person. Of course, I tried my hand at the typical puppy-love scenarios (think of any Malay song video) but as I approached my late teens I realised that I could never really accept relationships of that nature. My expectations still ran in the same directions: be cool and get a girlfriend (who should also be pretty AND cool). While I was never really cool in school, I did have my share of (usually older) girlfriends. To me, they WERE cool, simply because they were usually rebellious and more worldly (make of that what you will). Being in a private school kind of spoiled me, I suppose. I learnt several things that would be quite useful in my later life..

By the time I got into uni, my list of expectations had shrunken and grown simultaneously. No longer was my only goal in life to get a girlfriend (or get laid, but that's a whole other story) but now it had expanded to actually getting through uni with good grades, getting a good job, the whole shebang. Relationships with girls lost prominence in life, although I found I had the same set of expectations from the people I associated with. This did not work as well as I'd hoped, though. For one thing, living in a house with 7 other mates who are more often than not out with their respective girlfriends tends to amplify your single-ness. For another, there were too many compromises to be made. I nearly lost my spoken English ability, my short, myself.

Fast forward a couple years. Post-Uni, the list of expectations I have from people finally congealed into a somewhat solid mess (and I mean mess). I find I treat warmer the people who:
1) Have a basic grasp of English (or at least they try)
2) Don't resort to funny slang words in their e-mail/text messages(kerjer, pon, klas, suker)
3) Have ambitions in life (career, travel, etc)
4) Have opinions (especially when theirs don't agree with mine) on movies, books, hell even the weather, but don't force their beliefs on you
5) Read. And by reading I don't mean Sembilu Tertikam or Budak Setan or others of the ilk

There's more, but I think I've driven my point across. I'm prejudiced. There, I've said it. I've got no problem with people in small towns or rural areas (I grew up in one). However I DO have a problem with people who are given the opportunity/chance but decide not to make use of it. Oh hell, I'm just a stuck up snobbish SOB who'll probably end up with someone who's the exact polar opposite of my List. That'll teach me. But till then, I'm holding on to it simply because I don't think I'll want it any other way.


Monday, January 12

I Have A Stalker

This is getting freaky. It started with an e-mail landing in my Outlook inbox Saturday. Then there was a mystery SMS later that afternoon. And this morning, during the drive to work, another 2. That's right folks. I officially have a stalker. Admittedly, there IS some sort of a buzz knowing that someone finds you interesting..but I guess I'm just guilty of conceit. In layman's terms? I'm a snob. And I feel bad as hell.


Talk about biting the hand that feeds you. Maybe it's just me expecting too much (and I know I shouldn't) but I've come to expect a certain level of...grammar(?) in my everyday texting. When one comes along that sounds exactly like what my students would write, I automatically go on the defensive and try and quash the thing. Call it self preservation. In my line of work, engaging in "friendly" SMS banter with students (especially female ones) can be very hazardous indeed. I try and keep my relationship with them professional. Secondly, I've realised that I don't really appeal to the typical girl of my race. I guess I've seen too many relationships like that (that do work) but are not exactly my cup of tea. So there, I'm a snob, and I'm not proud of it.

However, I know now that my mystery "admirer" is not a student (thank God). I also know that in all regards, she has access to my office (since I found a card in my room). Right. We'll just see how this goes, then, and I can only pray she's ready for the can of worms she'll unleash. Maybe I should link her to my blog?



New Mobile Phone Review: Samsung SGH E700A

Right. I've gone and done it again. Barely 6 months after what I promised myself would be the last tech related buy (well, major one at least), I went and traded in my trusty Nokia 6510 and got myself the smashing-spanking new SGH E700. I seem to have a penchant for twin buys. In 2002 it was two GBA units followed by two Palm m130s (which I still use religiously till now). This year kicked off with me and a significant (well, to me at least) other equipping ourselves with said mobiles.. sort of a new year party pack thing.

Heheh. Okay, I'll wipe the silly grin off my face now and concentrate on the review. I've been wanting a flip phone for awhile, since I've never had one before. Internet buzz was very favourable towards Samsung clamshells (especially for the displays!), and I would have gotten one sooner if not for one fatal flaw: the T9 dictionaries on previous models didn't allow users to enter new words. For a guy who thrives on texting, phlogging (and now moblogging!) I find that to be a serious issue indeed. The E700 promised to fix the bug and also add some more features which would be deemed desirable to the fashionable crowd. I'm no fashionbug, but one has to admit, Samsung's been consistently good with design (well, better than the horrendous things Nokia calls phones nowadays). Which brings me to my first point: the form factor.

In a word: gorgeous. People who know me well will tell you how much I love curves, and this phone is no exception. There's no sense of enforced roundedness, but there are loads of subtle, sleek hints in the outline of the phone. Closed, it almost begs to be picked up and opened. And once you do, you'll find that it sits nicely in the palm or on your ear. Very good job, Samsung.

At the end of the day, I'm still a practical person. A phone therefore has to be able to do its job regardless of its style. The E700 doesn't really boast the most features of the bunch, but I find that they're more than enough for me. A word of warning though: this phone DOES NOT have Bluetooth, so for those BlueJackers out there, you're out of luck. Otherwise, it contains what you'd expect of a typical next-gen phone: built in camera, 40-poly ringtones, the ability to assign tones and graphics to different callers, PIM functions, a very fast WAP browser, and JAVA games. Unfortunately, for some reason this variant of the phone does not allow pictures taken with the built-in camera to be used as phonebook entries, while the E715 (US edition) does. A boo-boo for some, but not something I can't live without. It has about 9MB of onboard memory, which is shared dynamically between applications. For a phone this size, that's a lot.

The UI is similar to previous models, and though I had some difficulty initially adjusting to the menus (and especially texting) I found that it's pretty easy to get used to. The 65K display is clear and very sharp but don't expect it to be too sharp in sunny conditions (typical of LCDs). The outside display only supports 4096 colours but also doubles as a viewfinder for self-portrait shots and displays battery status, caller info and the time, among other things. The built in CMOS sensor camera allows shots of up to 640x480, and so far I've been quite pleased with the results. Don't expect Exposure Bracketing or other advanced features, but this is definitely one of the better camera phones I've seen. It can also take up to 9 exposures in rapid succession, which can then be turned into screensaver animations, which is cool. Other than that, there are framing options and several effects (including sepia and emboss). Again, good job.

I've never had a poly ringtone phone before, but I CAN say that the tones from this baby sound really good. They DO have a tendency to be very loud, so be aware. Samsung failed to take Nokia's cue in presenting users with different sound profiles. I miss my Silent and Outdoor settings. Nothing detrimental, but it can turn off prospective buyers.

The built in GPRS and WAP browser is quite fast, and I've had no problems so far accessing any sites online. There's even space on the phone for additional JAVA games and apps, and with the ever widening variety of games out there, this is definitely a plus factor for me. Battery life is about what you'd expect from a phone like this, lasting about 3 days on a full charge. I've read on the net that apparently Samsung has pushed the Li-On battery to its limits with this phone, and I can see why. So pick up an extra battery or car charger if you expect to be on the go a lot.

Finally, there's no software included in the package. You'll have to download it from Samsung's site. This is where it gets a little iffy. The phone's still too new right now, and you can't really find ringtones/graphics that are fully compatible. Give it a couple of months to get the user base running, and I foresee this problem shrinking. The PC-Link software requires a data cable or IR link and you need to fiddle with it a bit (since the English isn't too good) but it gets the job done. I expect some more updates to be available on Samsung's site.

In the end, all I can say is the E700 is not for everyone. Techies will be repulsed by its lack of Bluetooth, Nokia die-hards by its lack of User Profiles and so on. But if you're looking for an uncomplicated, stylish flippy, this one won't be far off the mark. Recommended, with reservations.

The Ox gives the Samsung E700A a 4 out of 5.

By the way, check out my moblog! It's at As you can see, I'm having a blast!


Sunday, January 11

Department Of Corrections

Mulling over my last post, I realised that I forgot something very important (well, to me at least): option C. It took some reminding earlier today to spark the train of thought that finally led to that particular conclusion. So what, you may ask is option C? Well class, before we carry on, let me reiterate yesterday's lesson:

Ox is a 26 year old who has two choices in front of him.
A) Pursue career advancement and girl of dreams who may not be able to reciprocate feelings (also who may be in another relationship by the time he arrives in said city).

B) Give up the whole thing and pursue career in a wholly different city.

Now up to this afternoon, I thought that was it. However, I have now decided that (as always) there's another slightly hidden and less popular choice:
C) Get used to the whole "just being friends" scenario and save his final strike for when (or if) he gets to the city, but not hoping for too much (basically knowing it's a long shot).

It took a long time for me to realise that life isn't always delineated in black or white. More often, the decisions we make are outlined in shades of grey. Unlike science where almost everything is dealt with in absolutes, life is generally a hodge-podge of explosions, butterfly effects and chaos theory all rolled into a huge ball of Mess.

How absolutely fricking hilarious.

I know that by now probably most of my readers (that's right, all 3 of you) are thinking will this supposed saga never end? Right now I can tell you that I wonder the same thing, sometimes. Maybe I just hate loose ends. They tend to snag and trip you over when you least expect it, and in the worst case, end up unravelling your whole life because you didn't take the little extra effort to tie them up neatly in the first place. Or it could be that I have a sudden need for things to go my way, and I'm straining slightly with the effort of keeping all those unruly feelings in check. I DO wonder where all my legendary patience went..

Note to self: I really need to minimise talking in metaphors. They make me dizzy. Oh, and did I mention I got a mystery e-mail AND sms all on the same day? It seems I have a secret admirer, LoL. This should keep me suitably occupied at least until next week, heheh. And besides, someone's actually interested in moi? Hmm..

Oh well, time's a wasting and I seriously need to get some sleep. See y'all next week, and keep safe, eh?

A little note: I wish I didn't make things so complicated sometimes, and I know you don't need the extra pressure. These are some things I'll need to handle better, so you just go ahead and live your life. Be beautiful, be successful, and most of all, be you. If I make it there (God willing) I'll try again. But if I don't (or I'm too late and you're with someone else), just remember what I always say (well actually what Guinness says): Someone's gonna do it, so it may as well be you.

Sleep tight.


Saturday, January 10

Cantaloupe, Cantaloupe

Two days without a post. Maybe I'm slipping. Or maybe it's the fact that there's just a huge pile of work that's to be done (at the office or otherwise), and I'm trying not to spend all my Pockets Of Bullet Time at one go.

Life. Bah.

Ever feel like an extra before? You know, like in the movies? The director gives you a little bitty part (one that's not too visible but terribly vital to the big picture) and hands you your lines, all two of them. From time to time he'll remind you that you ARE important, and then resumes pouring his full attention on the stars. Deep down you feel that he doesn't give a shit if you get trampled by the elephants from the big gladiator fight scene (or mauled by the imported tigers) but you do your job anyway, since it's probably the only thing you know how to do well.

I just re-read that whole paragraph, and I'm damned if I make sense. I apologise, people. Somewhere in that tangled mess there's a point, if I can just find it.

Oh well. 10 days into the new year, and already I feel like the kid who missed the school bus because he woke up late. There's this feeling I get sometimes that too much is happening, and if I even blink I'll miss my cue (there's that extra reference again) and ruin everything for everyone. In MPH today I read a book that told me I'm an Earth Horse in the Chinese zodiac. Apparently beasts of burden figure a lot in my horoscope, what with me being a Taurus and all. In any case, it only confirmed my suspicions: I'm one of those stalwart dependables. Always good to have around, but not very noticeable. And apparently I'm faithful as hell till I die (which some might say also translates to being clingy).

Whatever. That just about sums up the story of my life. So right now in the next two months I'm supposed to finish up the current semester and get a place in an overseas uni for my PhD. Question is: where do I go now? Do I follow with plan A (also known as the Gamble) in order to try and fight for someone who in all probability CANNOT return my affections while excelling (hopefully) in my studies? Do I strike out for somewhere totally different (ie give up)? I know I can probably make it anywhere, God willing..but it always helps when there's someone who cares nearby. And I don't think I need to explain anymore just what caring entails. Both plans have their risks: A might find me landing only to find I've missed my window of opportunity and restarting the bloody cycle. B on the other hand might have me wondering about all the what ifs. Ugh.

The day when I have to make that decision draws nearer. I wish it all depended on me, but it doesn't. It never does. All I need is a glimmer of hope and I'm there. But as always, you can never force a heart to feel a certain way.

And maybe I'm just too scared of finding out that there IS no glimmer.


Wednesday, January 7

Pockets of Bullet Time

There are times when somehow, everything falls into place and for a brief moment you feel that whatever's wrong has been righted and you're strangely at peace. You can sense reality peeking around the corners, waiting for normalcy to resume and its machinery to start working again. But in that golden moment, which has that elastic quality of sometimes seeming never ending and at others blindingly swift, you know reality's hung its hat and taken a coffee break.

I had a couple of those today. They were of the swift kind, but I've learnt enough to know you don't question these things. For several wonderful moments, life went on hold and I could breathe again. In short, it felt like it should. I know I shouldn't treat them as anything more than temporary reprieves and illusions, but they are gratifying, in a completely absurd way. Of course there's always the danger of attaching too much meaning to them and thus bringing about the whole quagmire again but I'd like to think I'm slightly more prepared this time (hmph).

Maybe I'll call them my own little pockets of Bullet Time: places where regular rules of reality stop, and my rules have some purchase. Pieces of bliss floating about in 3 dimensional space, transient but tangible and real enough to those with the good fortune to stumble onto them or better yet, find them. The Ox is old enough to know that once Real Time starts moving again, it'll all come back to him: the bills, the responsibilities, the whole shebang. Then again, he's also young enough to understand that you take what you get and you use it to its fullest, especially if it's a handful of time with a person that gave him his world in the first place.

I know you may not be able to give what I ask for (and I understand, really)
but for the time well spent (at least)
Thank you.

I sleep well tonight.


Tuesday, January 6

Tender Timed Young Turkey


6th day of new year, and am still groggy from temporal transition thingy (how's that for an excuse?). Of course, you can also read it as: I have no mood to work. Gah.

People coming back from sunny, beach-y vacations are supposed to be refreshed, rejuvenated and all that. I think that under my layer of crispy fried skin those qualities are hidden, somewhere (note to self: having almost written quailities instead of qualities, must find witty way to incorporate that into another blog entry).

Anyway. Have decided to wear glasses the whole day as to hide raccoon-like mask that has formed after several hours of intense killer equatorial sun. On another note, have managed to come to terms quite surprisingly that am still quite in love with person who (in all probability) may not be able to reciprocate. Time for another note to self, I think (tough luck. Think this unrequited love thing's personal? It happens to everyone someplace somewhere somewhen).

Hmm. Stomach grumbling, and have a little brunch thing with friends. Yes. Friends are nice to hang with. They say funny things, insult you (in the most wonderful way) and generally forgive you those stupid things you tend to do from time to time.

See you later, blog. The Ox is off.


Monday, January 5

Burnt To A Crisp But Back

Hello folks!

The Ox is back from his little sabbatical down south, slightly poorer, darker (and perhaps even weirder) but altogether none the worse for wear. The new year's about 5 days old as I write this, and all I can say is it's about how I'd expected it. Hot with slight thunderstorms in the evening, and a capacity to be messy.

I guess my quiet disappearance this past week may have perplexed several close friends, and for that, I humbly apologise. Anyhow, I'm back now, and there's a boatload of blogs to read, work to do and people to see. Looks like another typical month in the life of the Ox.

As for the other things..well, let's just take things one day at a time, shall we?
Have a good week, people.