When I saw the news a few days ago that Malaysia would be bringing these two dogs to sniff out pirated VCDs, I let out a slight laugh, mostly because I was genuinely tickled by the idea that dogs could be deployed to sniff out VCDs. Sure, I've heard of dogs hired to sniff out drugs, but it hadn't crossed my mind that they would now deploy dogs to discover VCDs hidden in all sorts of weird places - typically in a man's luggage or inside the back of a truck.
Maybe I shouldn't be laughing now.
I'm not sure whether the dog unit has been targeted by drug lords in the past, considering how effective these dogs are in sniffing out heroin and other drugs. And we know how drug lords usually have a good amount of money, not to mention access to assassins trained to kill animals. You would therefore think it natural for the dog unit to take relevant protective measures to ensure their chief assets - the dogs - stay alive.
What you wouldn't reckon is how the VCD pirate syndicates may be equally powerful and rich, and equally inclined to think of killing the law enforcers who get in their way. This news is certainly suggestive of that possibility. Which... isn't a good thing.
A couple of years ago, I bought this Hong Kong music concert VCD and popped the disc into my home player. The first scene to show on TV was a little clip talking about how buying pirated VCDs is a form of funding triads, little gangs and other such social menaces. Of course, the filming was a bit exaggerated, but you get the point. I didn't take it all that seriously at the time, although perhaps I should have. The average pirated VCD stall, sometimes highly makeshift in nature, could well be part of a super-elaborate syndicate, as opposed to a two-man operation. Which makes them a little messy to handle, of course.
Let's just hope the police don't get into too much of a bother with their new pets. gambitch [
Thursday, March 22, 2007
Organizing bloglinks again. Some old links just had to be shaved off.
Zac's blog had to be removed after close to nine months of inactivity. The last time he declared he's stuck without a computer I had figured he might get the problem fixed in three months. Doesn't look it. And he's had no new compulsion to post.
I was introduced to Zac's blog through Ian McG, whose blog I still infrequently visit. But since I'm not a frequent visitor, nor do I leave comments as frequently, I've been dropped from his bloglinks. I'm keeping his on mine though, but the political fervour which I used to enjoy seeing has given way a little to slightly more mundane real-life stuff of little people like you and me. Normal, perhaps. I still like reading the site though.
Moomoo is off my list too, as I no longer run into him and so cannot converse with him. More importantly, however, his blog's virtually dead unless you're a close friend of his, in which case you get to see something different, presumably. Since I'm not that close, I cannot afford that.
I've had to debate the merits of keeping a few other bloglinks, but the Promising Prodigy is one of those I have had little difficulty scratching off, again because he doesn't seem to update nearly as often. Also because he seems to have moved to a new blog which he'll only share with close friends, and again I do not fall under that bracket. Which is fine with me, really.
Changes in life and an alteration in focus would necessarily mean that bloglinks get updated from time to time. So old friends might have to make way as they stop treating me as closely as they once did. Some other links stay, though, mostly because they make for interesting reading when you come back to them once in a long while.
Instant bowl noodles typically come in four parts, namely the bowl, the cover, the noodles, and the condiments and other stuff. When you peel the cover so that you can pour the hot water into the bowl, you're not supposed to peel the whole cover off, just enough so that you can pour water in before covering the whole bowl again. To help you do this, there's usually an extra little tab where you pull to start peeling.
Now, as mentioned above, one of the four parts is the packaging of condiments and other stuff. The whole point of providing the condiments is so that you can add a bit of flavour and garnish and such, so that the bowl of noodles isn't just noodles and hot water. And because the condiments and stuff are pre-sealed into a little packet, you need to remove the packaging and pour the contents into the bowl before adding the hot water - although some like to do it after adding the hot water, but that's besides the point.
Of course, in order to pour the contents of the packet into the bowl, you need to take the packet out of the bowl in the first place. And since you're not supposed to peel off the entire cover before pouring in the hot water, that means you have to be able to extract the packet out through what little space you make out of peeling back part of the cover. Logically, that means the packet should be sitting on top of the dry noodles, preferably somewhere close to where the tab is, to facilitate easy extraction without peeling more of the cover than is desired (typically half the cover at most).
The operative word in that last sentence is 'should'. Sometimes, you'll find the packet somewhere else, maybe wedged to the side at an inconvenient location, or sometimes just sitting right down at the bottom, below the noodles, which means to take the packet out, you have to take the noodles out first, which is kinda dumb.
How is such a thing possible? Sometimes it's down to sheer bad luck as the bowl is moved and transported from factory to home (or wherever else the buyer stores the noodles). Shake it around a bit, and the packet might just make its way below the noodles. Tough luck? Maybe.
I'd like to assume the factory wasn't that stupid as to drop the packet into the bowl before the noodles. Notwithstanding the technical quibble that a factory can't be stupid because it has no brains, of course. But sometimes you might just have an idiot who designs the assembly line wrong. It's highly improbable, though, so I guess I can reduce it to sheer bad luck.
It still sucks, though, to have to retrieve the packet by basically unpacking the entire instant noodles bowl. Surely there's a better way to design the thing so that it doesn't happen.
Okay, so we missed the cut. But it was a pretty fun experience and a good evening. I don't mind missing the cut if the whole thing was pretty enjoyable.
It was great hearing you sing and play. First time I've seen you sing and play. That public performance? I'm glad I missed it, because this was a better first time than that would have been.
As for me, I knew I was below form, but it was pretty good. I don't think I showed nerves, which is to be expected. Which means I have not much of an excuse other than not having properly warmed up.
But that's why I'm not a professional performer.
But I want to come back for one of those nights when "the stage is yours". And I'd love it if we could team up.
Truth is, if you didn't do it, I wouldn't have done it either. Although even if you really fell that sick and only came to watch me, I'd still have done it.
And I wouldn't mind dragging a couple more friends along if they were willing.
So now, the audition's over and I'm not in the next round. But I don't mind.
Because I've had the fun I wanted out of this try. And that makes me a contented boy already.
Of course, now I'm itching to sing six or seven other songs I didn't think of singing earlier.
But that can wait till another week. gambitch [
Monday, March 19, 2007
Not that much in The Amazing Race today, as Uchenna and Joyce finish last in the fifth leg but are not eliminated. Looks like non-elimination has come quite early this time.
Of course, after four legs in South America, it was about time they started looking for some other places to go. But not before they go through one of those usual "find your own clue using some tools in a nice different place" rituals. This time it involves looking for and digging up some beacons in the middle of an icy glacier. They usually do this in places like Iceland, but this time they've decided having it at the southern tip of the world isn't a bad idea either. But the clue, only the first in the leg, is not supposed to be too much of a challenge, so apart from saying the scenery was nice, there's little I can comment on.
But anyway, that's the last we see of South America for this season, and from there, we go to... Mozambique! Did I ever mention how I love the way the spelling for that country goes? Well, I do, okay? So they go there, and the first place they make their way to is this training field for - dig this - rats! They apparently use these giant rats in Mozambique to help find landmines, which is a bit like the work some military people train dolphins to do, except this is on dry land, not in the sea.
The Roadblock here basically involves getting these rats to help find a deactivated landmine. Teams have quite a fun time with this one, apparently, with lots of questions asked about what the rats' names are, and little things like that. But one team left the field not entirely happy, and that would be Charla and Mirna (as usual). Apparently their rat had a bit of a problem, like not wanting to work for these two mad women. Which sorta held them up a bit. But, as many would argue, not long enough.
The Detour then comes up next, and it can get quite interesting. One of the options, actually, is to paint nails. Yeah, manicures. And apparently, in this city, the men do the painting. Interesting thought, that. Wonder what most of the women out there would have to say. But a task that might possibly appeal to Team Guido and Cha Cha Cha is instead passed over in favour of carrying ten bags of coal. Man, do they feel like doing menial labour or what? Not to mention how that would spoil their manicures!
The item that caused the biggest disappointment about this episode is Charla and Mirna coming in first, largely because they picked the nails option. No one knows whether they can fill ten bags of coal, but that's hardly the point, because I just so wanted to see them go away from the screen by being eliminated. Seeing them get right in front thus just... It just irks me. Yes, I know, pretty strong feelings against these two mad women. But I doubt I'm alone. I want entertainment, but that's not what these two irritants give.
Then again, perhaps it's just as well, because I don't think I would have been that happy to have them finish last in this leg, only to learn it's non-elimination. That would probably have disappointed me even more.
One good fun bit before the review of this episode ends. There's this scene where Danny and Oswald are running to the pitstop, looking dirty and all from the coal task, and Oswald is running right up to Phil and insisting he wants to hug him. For probably only the first time this season, we end up seeing Phil do more than just stand at the mat - he actually runs away from Oswald and Danny as they try to hug him! I mean, I understand, but it's nice to see something a little different like Phil running!
Anyway, that's it for this episode. There's still a long day coming ahead, with the main event being the audition. Hopefully you're feeling better... gambitch [
Sunday, March 18, 2007
My first game in weeks, and I have to say, I really played like rubbish.
Not to mention the fact that the lack of exercise means I am totally exhausted.
I seem to be suffering from a sharp drop in stamina though. And considering where the starting line is, that's a pretty big surprise, not to mention a bad thing.
I managed to muster enough energy to check out this new shopping mall though. It's not yet fully operational, and a fair number of shops still have yet to open. But the big disappointment is the lack of a proper bookshop in the mall.
Tomorrow, the audition... Are you feeling better? gambitch [