176 Recount: Kinabalu Part 2

The Kinabalu Montage: So many photos, so little time...
As with all uploaded photos, which are extremely big but adjusted to fit, click on the picture the enlarge. It's a very large photo, and you can zoom in to see the details of each photo more clearly. Imagine the amount of time it would take to upload the photos one by one.
I apoogise if the photos are arranged messily, I didn't want to waste anymore time than I already have picking the photos to put and arranging them according to their locations on the map. But nonetheless, all the photos are beautiful and leaving any out will not do them justice. I'm going to Sg. Petani, Kedah for the weekend, so I'll be away for a bit. Have a great weekend!

175 Restrooms and...

Some signboards were never meant to be explained. For example, look at this one:

I saw this at a stop along the Ranau - Tamparuli Road, in Sabah. A few thoughts come to mind at this moment. Some of mine were

  • There's a frog-infested toilet out there. For safe measure, I decided against using that particular toilet

  • Frogs are a local delicacy in Sabah, like it is in France, and it happens that they thrive near dumping grounds. Note to self: don't eat locally-produced frogs

  • Frogs are kept as pets around here and/or sold to tourists. You'll never know when you'll need a frog when you're in the interior of Sabah. Why tourists like me will want to buy them still escapes me. Especially those found near toilets.

  • Maybe it's like a "Beware of Frogs" sign. So, tread carefully, there may be frogs hopping around back there, and killing them will incur the wrath of the locals. And... it brings a whole new dimension to the phrase "Answering the Call of Nature".

  • They're just selling frogs and/or edible part of frogs near the toilet. But that's just unimaginative, isn't it? Not forgetting to mention, unhygenic, too.

Others are just cute. These two were seen at the Kundasang War Memorial:

First sign : "Steal Flowers, $100.00 fine, there's a TV"
Second Sign : "Don't step on me, or I will die"

Until the next post, bye, and have great days ahead.

174 Remote Control

I was watching a Season 3 episode of Numb3rs on AXN today, and I made an interesting realisation regarding the nature of remote controls, particularly TV remotes. The idea of a remote control is to avoid the 3-metre (I hope that's the distance you're from the TV scren) commute between the couch and the TV. Sometimes, ironically, it causes more work to be done... but first, a brief flashback...
Back during the days of Sesame Street and TV video game consoles that weren't called Playstations or XBox, the TV used to be a simpler device. There was a power button, and a row of buttons containing numbers for channel-changing. Now, despite the fact that we had to stand up to adjust the volume, set the frequency and change channels, it was simple and so hassle-free that I could do it... once I learnt how to count.

The Remote Control : The TV viewers' friend and foe

So, then came a TV with a remote control. It was rudimentary by today's standards, but well, it has the most practical functions, like the volume control and all those numbers. All it didn't have was the power button, it had a standby button in its place. But frankly, placing a TV on standby isn't very intelligent, due to something known as vampire power. No, it's not something out of the horror stories I've been reading, though the images that come to mind at this moment is not short of bemusing. So, we made it a habit to press the power button on the TV everytime we're done with the box. Only my father presses the standby button, much to my annoyance when I use the TV, because the TV will turn on blank, and I will have to make an unneccesary hunt for the remote, which is somewhere in the living room, and easily mistaken for the remote for the VCR (tape player, as we used to call it), Astro Decoder, radio and VCD player.

Quick, call Buffy! It's standing by! It's a power vampire!

But the best thing about that TV is that, when, in the unfortunate eventuality when the remote runs out of batteries or cannot be found after a 5-minute search, there were still buttons on the TV in a concealed area that can control the volume and change channels. So, we were never rendered helpless around the TV. And, sometimes we used the buttons anyway, to save time, when a quick glance around the room doesn't reveal the location of the Holy Grail of TV. And, at the very least, while we were otherwise couch-potato-ing, we'd have a reason to stretch and exercise.

Now, I have a new flat-screen TV. It's great, since it's wide and everything seems bigger and Paula Abdul and Tyra Banks look like they haven't been dieting and Oprah, well.. umm... normal. But, the only button on the TV is the button that puts it on standby, and that means the only way to turn it off is to pull the plug, and the plug happens to be somewhere within a mess of wires, dust and cobwebs, which would compel anyone who have handled it to go to the washroom. Well, we know it's a good habit to wash your hands before meals, but who does it before watching TV? Of course, what irritates me a little is that now I have a power vampire in the living room. Forget the Astro decoder (it takes too long from the decoder to recover from being switched off for the generation that's full of ADD kids). And now, I can't change channels when the batteries run dry. It hasn't happened yet, but it'll happen one day, be assured of that, and there'll be a lot of very irked people when that happens.

And of course, the amount of frustration that comes out of looking for a missing remote control, especially when the show you want to watch is about to start, doesn't justify the comfort not having to walk to the TV after that. And, though we only have ourselves to blame, after we reached our destination channel, the remote is a forgotten friend until we find a need to change the volume or channel. Talk about fair-weather friends. But, I still think the work to locate a remote, and the irritation when the remote has no power still doesn't compensate for the convenience of not having to walk to the TV. Or, I just need to place the remote in more noticable places without allowing it to slide into blind spots and concede that I'm just a lazy guy who needs to go out more often.

173 Redang Plans Part 3

The Road To Redang: Click on the picture to enlarge

475 Kilometres from Kuala Lumpur

8.5 hours of travelling

across 3 states to...

1 island resort...

... in a 9 - island archipelago

Now that the trip is more or less confirmed... it's time for me to do my part. Since Seng Yen is not going, we have 10 people, myself included. Here's what I want to know:

Can we all leave from Kuala Lumpur?

All the Klang Valley people from the Novena Apartment, it shouldn't be a problem for you. Just return home after College Day, get your stuff packed and get ready to go. Aren't we all just quivering with excitement? But three people will present a spot of bother (sorry, I meant no offence)... this is also assuming the worst case scenario (i.e. no Novena Apartment)

Ryan, my offer still stands if you're wondering, so it shouldn't be much of a problem for you at the moment...

Mun Hon and Ei Hong, I really need feedback from you guys... that's it for now, I will be updating real soon, I hope...

PS: Regarding payment: I will be coming down to Singapore this Thursday, can I pay direct to Shean or Ryan?

172 Reading Materials

Well, I've finally moved away from the television, and begin concentrating once more on the written word. Other than newspapers, I've been reading horror fiction. Not Russell Lee's "True Singapore Ghost Stories", Mr. Midnight, or any of those stories written for the general excessive TV-watching population, mind you...
I'm reading classic ghost stories written by authors like Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu, Oscar Wilde, Edgar Allen Poe, and the likes. Thus, if you haven't heard any one of these authors before, well, these stories are really too painful for you. It's not that they scare you death, but it's because the vocabulary and writing styles are really beyond reach for a large portion of Malaysian secondary school students. My cousins tried picking it up, but couldn't get past the first of the 100 stories in the collection. So, please, don't think I'm reading R. L. Stine...
For a taste of the worst that the stories can get, here's the first line of the story "The Ghost and The Bone-Setter" from the Purcell Papers by J. Sheridan Le Fanu.
"Why, thin, 'tis is a quare story, an' as thrue as you're sittin' there; and I'd make bould to say there isn't a boy in the seven parishes could tell it better nor crickther than myself, for 'twas my father himself it happened to, an' many's the time I heerd it out iv his own mouth ; an' I can say, an' I'm proud av that same, my father's word was as incredible as any squire's oath in the counthry; and so signs an' if a poor man got into any unlucky throuble, he was the boy id go into court an' prove; but that doesn't signify - he was as honest and as sober a man, barrin' he was a little too partial to the glass, as you'd find in a day's walk; an' there wasn't the likes of him in the counthry round for nate labourin' an' baan diggin'; and he was mighty handy entirely for carpenther's work, and mendin' ould spudethrees an' the like i' that. An' so he tuck up with bone-setting, as was most nathural, for none of them could come up to him in mendin' the leg iv a stool or a table; an' sure, there never was a bone-setter got so much custom - man an' child, yound an' ould - there never was such breakin' and mendin' of bones known in the memory of man..."
And that's only two sentences... the story goes on in this manner for another five and a half pages. Ultimately, it's about how the bone-setter ( think of him as the guy who treats sprained ankles at the Traditional Chinese Medicine Hall, only a little bigger) meets this ghost at the castle of his Squire (landlord) while he sits in to take care of it, while the Squire's off on a holiday (it's the tinants (tenants) obligation to do so), and how he (rather humourously) got rid of the ghost.
Here's an idea of how he did it: it gives a whole new meaning of pulling someone's leg...
and the book only costs RM 12.00. Talk about value for money... here's the trick for getting dirt cheap new books, visit book warehouse sales, you won't believe the prices you get for books. I got a couple of good books, so why don't you check those out?

171 Relook

Look carefully... This newspaper clipping proves whether you are colour blind, or otherwise. For your information, there is no printing error and I did not edit the picture in any way.
What do you think? Am I lying?

170 Reality TV

After the American Idol results show, I was trying to visualise the idea of 97.5 million, that is, the number of votes that the show received for the finale. Ryan Seacrest said and I quote, that the number is larger than the population of Canada (the second largest country in the world, in terms of area), Ireland, Spain and Australia (the largest island in the world, if it is allowed to be called an island). As a matter of fact, that is true:
31 million (Canada) + 3 million (Ireland) + 40 million (Spain) + 19 million (Australia) = 95 million
Besides what he stated, 97.5 million...
  • ...is only smaller than the population of 11 out of 200-odd countries in the world: China, India, US, Indonesia, Brazil, Pakistan, Russia, Bangladesh, Nigeria, Japan and Mexico.
  • ...is also 1.7% of the world population, and 35 % of the US population. It is also more than 4 times the population of Malaysia, and about 14 times the population of Singapore
  • ...is slightly less than the number of websites on the Internet today, the number of iPods that have been sold, and about the number of bytes of music in a typical CD.
  • ...is also about the speed the Earth revolves around the Sun in miles per hour.
  • ...is slightly less than the number of votes for the George W. Bush for president.
  • ...is 3 times more than the number of seconds in a year.
  • ...means that there were about 24 million votes per hour, 400000 votes per minute and 6700 votes per second, in the 4-hour voting period after the American Idol show.
Now that's a big number...

169 Recipes

Who would have thought? As the Shirley finds out, all culinary roads lead to only ONE place: It's All Indian Food...

168 Reassurances

This is proof that numbers never lie, the statistical analysis method I explained in the earlier post "Results Predictor" worked perfectly when it came to predicting, most importantly, the winner of American Idol, and also the margin of victory. Please don't click this link, unless you know the results already. No, it's not reverse psychology... and once again, no I'm not reverse psyching you about the reverse psychology...
And, yes, I edited the bar graph such that people who don't know the results yet won't be in haste to press ALT + F4, or click the "x" sign at the top of the window, or any other action that will terminate the window my blog is currently located in. Pressing the power button on the CPU and pulling the computer's plug out of the socket are also known to work, but they're not recommended if you have any other programmes running, such as, but not limited to, torrenting, reading some other person's blog or downloading American Idol performances from iTunes, because they may terminate prematurely. But, you knew all of that already, including the fact that a David won.
Lastly, congrats to Sam (who is on a media blackout, by the way, and won't be reading this post until she watches AI), and Ryan for finally getting into NUS...

167 Redang Plans Part 2

This is the tentative transportation plan to Redang, so pay attention please... (heh, now I sound like a teacher) :
Due to the uncertainty of the status of the Novena apartment, the number of people leaving from Kuala Lumpur and Singapore are still in question. However, the travel plans for either groups are mostly in place.
There will be two starting points, one is Singapore and the other Kuala Lumpur. According to Ryan, there are buses twice daily departing from Singapore at 9 am and 9 pm, in a 10-hour journey to Kuala Terengganu. Estimated Time of Arrival (ETA) is 7 pm and 7 am respectively. So, the Singapore group will be taking the 9 pm bus on the 6th of July arriving at Kuala Terengganu on the 7th of July at 7am.
The Kuala Lumpur group will also depart on the 6th of July at 10 pm from Hentian Putra, (near PWTC), and arriving in Kuala Terengganu on the 7th of July at about 6 - 7 am. Both buses are Transnasional buses. This is a 8 - 9 hour journey. Ok, that's it so far, I won't be able to book tickets until I get the exact number of people in each group. The timing is such that the two group will arrive in Kuala Terengganu almost simultaneously, and continue on to Redang from there.
And if you haven't realised yet, we'll be travelling all night, so yeah, you'll have to sleep in the bus.
PS: I nearly forgot one more thing... The fare for Singapore - KT is about S$ 35, and Kuala Lumpur - KT is RM 30.

166 Resolution

"Always account for variable change" - from the movie "21" -

Well, yes, if the University Admissions puzzle could be solved by a mathematical equation, I would have made a gross miscalculation.

All through this month, I filled in the unknowns in the equation from interview results, stories, friends' choices, etc. and all the while, I forgot about an unknown that didn't strike me as being able to be filled in with the range of data that was available to me. That's right, I missed out a key variable in the equation, the ASEAN undergraduate scholarship at NUS. The reason was this, I thought I would only know the results after the 2nd of June. It's now apparent that my assumption was flawed, but it was for an unexpectedly good reason... and that is because...

I got it!!! The letter arrived this morning... I thought it was the USP offer letter, but it turned out to be the offer letter for the AUS (ASEAN undergraduate scholarship), what a surprise!

So, yes, I'm expectedly over the moon with the receipt of this piece of news, and this is an essential variable that swayed my decision irreversibly to NUS. And, after many days of stalling the choice, I finally was able to enter this page, and do, what I always wanted to do...

The universe really has a weird way of making dreams come true... but, so be it. It's been a good year so far, and it's getting better. Now, time to get those forms filled and handed in...

165 Redang Plans

Pretty important stuff, huh? Of course, after getting Ryan's e-mail, I wasn't only watching American Idol, or any of the previously mentioned activities. I had already been working on the theoretical aspects of the transportation there, pending more information... One pivotal question I had been asking and hoping someone could answer, is this:

Is there anyone leaving from Singapore?

The question, is contingent on whether we can/want to remain in Singapore (the Novena apartment, of course) during the short period of time between College Day (4 July) and departure for Redang. This plan saves travelling time and money, for the most of us who are not PRs in the apartment. The Singapore - Kuantan route (via the Federal Route 3) is also definitely faster than Singapore - KL - Kuantan.

But this applies for those who will attend College Day. Ultimately, the rest and most probably the East Malaysians will have to start off from Kuala Lumpur. The Kuala Lumpur - Kuantan route is the most important travel arrangement we have to make, since there is a 100% probability we are going to use it.

Now, if no one departs from Singapore, then, the plan is as follows (assuming everyone is at their homes). The people living in the Klang Valley and in its proximity will not present much difficulty, but the people living outside this area, will have to find their own transport to KL (assuming the obvious fact that we want to get to travel together). Ryan, correct me if I'm wrong, you're now staying in Kuantan permanently, right?

The West Coasters and the East Malaysians (flying into KL) will meet Ryan in Kuantan, and from there will have to make our way into Kuala Terengganu, and then to Redang. Getting back is just the complete reverse, although some of us might want to stay around at Ryan's place a little longer

Finally the time line, and that's where it gets a little more complicated. KL - Kuantan takes about 4 hours, because now it's highway all the way (thank Samy for that), and Kuantan - Kuala Terengganu is another 3 hours, (no highway, sorry). From Kuala Terengganu, there may be yet another short transfer to a town called Merang, the port-of-departure to Redang. All together the total travel time will amount to about 8.5 hours on the KL - Redang route. Now, the million dollar question is, how do we spread the travel time out? I don't have the bus schedules etc. so I'm a little behind in that department. Lastly, do we squeeze all the travelling into the 7th of July, or spread it between the 6th and the 7th? These questions and more will be answered as soon as I get more info, OK?


The East Malaysians: Once this Redang thing is confirmed, and you've gotten your tickets, do note the arrival and departure dates and times... and ah, yes, you definitely have to spend a night somewhere in the Peninsular other than Redang, since I doubt you'll plan to take a flight on the 7th. So here's advance notice, do arrange accommodation.

I assume that you are fine without chartered buses, if you object to that, tell me...

Singapore - Kuantan - K. Terengganu takes about 10 hours, if you're wondering... Ryan, you should be familiar with the bus schedule for this, right? You take this route to go home during the holidays during the McNair days...

164 Recent activities

Here's an update of the things that have been going on these past few days:
  • I received an e-mail from USP (pronounced oosp) saying that my application was successful, so here's yet another unknown filled into the University Admisions equation, and another reason to dread the results of the CN Yang Scholarship interview. This is what a friend and I call the Good Student's Dilemma.
  • I got another e-mail from a long lost friend from Alor Star, (yes, not many people know about my Alor Star days), who found me via a second degree friend of mine. And so we exchanged niceties, added each other on Facebook, and all the other this long-lost friends do when they find each other.
  • I was playing Astropop on my new SE k550i during meals, between episodes of American Idol and during boring performances. Why a new phone? My old phone took a dip in washing water, just don't ask me how that happened. On the bright side, now I've got more phone memory...
  • I realised that using a box monitor makes your computer look about 5 years older. The flatscreen monitor had problems, and while it's gone for repairs, I'm using a monitor that makes every page look a little smaller than normal.
  • The best way to clean the porch is to use a high-velocity jet-spray of water. It does the job of cleaning it in half the time, but fails miserably when it comes to the lawn. To prove it, the lawn now smells like compost, from the rotting cut grass.
  • Lastly, I finally got around to making a new header and of course, it's another Kinabalu photo. Stuck to the shades of blue, but my sister doesn't like it, but I guess it will be a while before I change it again.

163 Results Predictor

My sister was doing some Internet research on American Idol, and during lunch, she told me about a programme that has accurately predicted the weekly results. So, I decided to reverse engineer the programme and this is, (I think), how it works...
The Science of Interactive Reality TV Voting Prediction
Voting, on shows like American Idol, is done via phone lines, to various call centres with toll-free number(s). Think of it like an altered Election Polling Station.
In a normal poling station, the voters queue up in a few lines to cast their votes, with one ballot box per line. Voters of, say Party A and Party B, are normally distributed within those few lines, and they cast their vote, regardless of affiliation, into the same ballot box. It would be difficult to predict the voting trend in the centre based on questioning a sample set of people since, the ballot is supposed to be secret. Hence, the alternate way is to "steal" one of the ballot boxes, and predict the voting trend from that box. Of course, in real life, one ballot box represents a locality and may be biased and may only reveal a trend in that locality.
Now, let's alter this station. This will never happen in reality, but it reflects the system of phone voting. Voters of Party A and B are made to queue in separate lines and vote into boxes designated for that party. However, to maintain secrecy, the voters line up in a pitch dark room, thus concealing the length of the line of voters of each party, and hence, preventing a foregone conclusion on the voting results. To increase efficiency, there are a few of these ballot boxes for each queue and the voter is streamed into one of the available boxes. Since there are more voters than boxes, there is a decent chance that you may end up in a short secondary queue to get to anyone of the boxes.
But... a phone line is binary, i.e. it's either busy or not. And so, if there's a person at the "box" when you get there, you have to start over. In the case of this station, "stealing boxes" is useless, since they will hold no information on the voting trend. So, we have to be even more creative...
Any one person will not be able to tell you how many people voted along with him, since, remember, the room is pitch dark... and of course, in this case, multiple votes per person is allowed, so the number of people (even if he knew) is not representative of the voting trend, since there may be more over-zealous people on one party than the other which in turn makes asking a random group of people WHO they voted for inaccurate.
But, this hurdle can be exploited... now, since multiple votes are allowed, we can send in bugs. Since voting costs next to nothing and has no limitations, other than time, a statistical analysis method could be used. By sending in a large but equal number of bugs and votes for both parties, and than calculating the number of times we encounter a busy secondary line and compare it against number of attempts, we will be able to estimate the number of votes being cast per unit time. How is this done?
Say we have 10 voters for each party designated as bugs, and they will vote as many times humanly possible in the voting time window. Say also, that there are 10 boxes available per party station, but an unknown number of voters. The average ratio of busy:available lines at that section of time should be about 1:1 if there are 20 voters including our bugs. Conversely, if we achieve this ratio when other voters are present, we can safely assume that there about twice the number of voters compared to the boxes. However, in reality, the number of voters is far higher than the number of bugs. and there is really a lot more boxes to vote into... we have to be content with a small sample set of these boxes per test...
...so, in real life, we assume that the boxes we have tested are representative of the larger box population, and thus the extrapolating the number of voters we predict in our box population to the larger population, to predict the number and hence percentage of voters for one party as compared to the other party, to a decent margin of error.
The programme works this way. Some people will download the programme into their computers, and the programme will instruct the modem to dial the phone number to vote repeatedly. The modem will then report the number of attempts, busy lines and available lines to the database. The more busy lines there are, by commonsense, will imply that there are more voters. Given that enough people run the programme simultaneously, the programme will have sufficient data to construct the voting trend for any particular period of time. From these numbers, we will be given a ballpark estimate of the number of people voting for that party at that period of time, and from comparing the activity of the lines for both parties, we will know who will be the next American Idol...
PS: Based on past weeks' trends, David C. is more likely to win...

162 Repeats

Well, the reason for my "disappearance" is that I was caught up doing something that some may view as completely useless. I was in front of the TV on one channel for over 30 hours, cumulative, that is about 10 hours a day, yeah?
What's with that channel, you may ask?
Star World was and is still showing an American Idol Season 7 marathon, and I've been watching almost every last minute of that show. And why my sudden interest in that particular show, that has already been on for 6 older seasons?
...because I am addicted to Ryan Seacrest saying "This (pause) is American Idol", OK, fine, just kidding. The reason is, this: data collection (wow, that's nerdy). I'm trying to figure out which David is better... and please don't ask me which of the two I fancy, it's a secret... but here's a hint... "Imagine" "Just Another Day In Paradise"...
...since with respect to the latest season, I'm a late starter... well, after Idol Gives Back, to be exact, but when you like someone's music, you really fall head over heels... though "Somewhere.." or someone got me temporarily "...Over The Rainbow", but it went downhill after that, because he was getting a little boring... and did someone compile a list of similes used by Simon Cowell? I would really love to see it...

PS: Data Collection, my God... that's one heck of a way to say, "I can't get enough of them, even though I've seen them for 5 episodes".

PPS: ... and before American Idol, it was the Big Bang Theory... go figures...

161 Recount: Kinabalu Part 1

The Many Faces of Mount Kinabalu:

160 Reproduced question

Quite self-explanatory, and sorry, my whiteboard has been used up for more mundane purposes, so I had to be content with a piece of paper..

Now, let me answer your next two questions... no I'm not pulling your leg, hands or any other extremities, and no, I know what I meant when I said "interview". It's a verbal (or oral, but saying this would be hazardous to Freudian Slippers) interview. And, if you have a third question, the answer is that the interview was conducted in Singapore, and I'm sorry, I do not wish to reveal where exactly.
Finally, I do not wish to give false hope or mislead anyone but I still have not gone here yet...

...but if you're wondering, I have all the NUS forms, documents and other stuff all lined up, filled, signed, sealed and only short of being delivered. I'm only waiting for NTU to spring a surprise at me... really! I'm not kidding. So, the university admissions saga goes on...
PS: Oh no! I revealed my real name... it's OK, never meant to keep it secret for so long, after all.
PPS: I forgot to celebrate my blog's second birthday... darn!

159 Renaming

5150 Kilometres Travelled

2 Countries
5 Malaysian States
8 Days
That comes to an average of over 600 kilometres per day over the last week, the largest distance covered in 1 week in my lifetime so far. Sabah, back and forth, Singapore, twice in three days and the Klang Valley, thrice in seven days.
The distance was covered by 2 aeroplanes, 2 different cars, 1 van, 3 buses and also on foot. In addition, includes stopping at 14 different places for food and other activities. They are Kota Kinabalu, Ranau, Kundasang, Poring, Mount Kinabalu, Seremban, Kuala Lumpur, Seri Kembangan, Sepang, Petaling Jaya, Melaka, Johor Bahru, Gelang Patah and Singapore.
Elevation range covered from nearly sea level to the highest point in Malaysia, 4095.2 metres above sea level and also two flights, cruising at about 10000 metres above sea level. Travelling speeds range from 0 km/h, up to 900 km/h. Slept on 6 different beds for 6 consecutive nights (Home, Petaling Jaya, Kinabalu Pines, Mesilau, Gunting Lagadan, Kinabalu Pines).
So, many numbers describe what I have done in the last week, and two more sets of numbers are coming up to commemorate this meaningful week.
The 10 worst names of places in Malaysia (with the name's English meaning)
  1. Chukai, Terengganu - Tax
  2. Kuala Lumpur - Muddy Confluence
  3. Pusing, Perak - Spin
  4. Tumpat, Kelantan - Dense
  5. Gurun, Kedah - Desert
  6. Lumut, Perak - Moss
  7. Ayer Keroh, Melaka / Ayer Hitam, Johor / Ayer Kuning, Negeri Sembilan - Murky Water, Black Water and Yellowish Water respectively
  8. Batu Maung, Pulau Pinang - Smelly Rock
  9. Bau, Sarawak and Rasa, Selangor - Smell and Taste respectively
  10. Pekan, Pahang - Town (really, the town is named Town)
The 10 best names of places in Malaysia (with their English Meanings)
  1. Semporna, Sabah - Perfect
  2. Sitiawan, Perak - Friendship
  3. Mambang-Di-Awan, Perak - Angels in the Clouds
  4. Pantai Cahaya Bulan, Kelantan - Moonlight Beach
  5. Taiping, Perak - Peace
  6. Taman Pelangi, Johor - Rainbow Gardens
  7. Bandar Maharani, Johor - Queen's Town
  8. Sabak Bernam, Selangor - Six Friends
  9. Pasir Mas, Kelantan - Golden Sands
  10. Kota Bahru, Kelantan - New Town

158 Replays

Because I'm in severe need of a very good laugh at the moment, I'll see what funny stuff comes out of this: Tagged by Shean
How are you feeling today?
British Theme from Pandora's Box... I don't know what to say, you should have seen my eyes roll just now... sorry, this has started really weird
Will you get far in life?
Come Back To Me by Blue... let's see, hmm.... maybe someone or something I realy love will return to me in the course of life, it could be very Biblical too.... going back to God?
What's your best friend's theme song?
Up Where We Belong by Richard Claderman... well, in that case, my best friend is my mother, because we had quite some fun together when we last heard this song... how appropriate it's Mother's Day soon.
What is the story of your life?
Witch Doctor from Alvin & the Chipmunks OST: more like "Not-so-mad Scientist" really... and the amusement I get from this one of the reasons I'm doing this, and it working well so far...
What was high school like?
Harry Potter Suite. Hogwarts?!!! Oh my God!! If only that were true... Magic spells, flying broomsticks, and all that... if only I could change the question to, "What would you have wanted your high school to be like?" ... and did I mention that SAJC banned Harry Potter books from the MRL...
How can you get ahead with life?
Skull & Crossbones from PotC OST... My life as a pirate? Arg, matey, swab the decks, hoist the sails... That would be interesting... now, once again, if the question were changed to, "What do want to become in life?", it would actually be rather logical... this is really very amusing...
PS: Is it referring to the DVD piracy thing?
What’s the best thing about your friends?
Switch by Will Smith... Turn it over and hit it? What the....? Or does is mean that there are two-faced people, or that I should change my group of friends. Note to self: don't take this game too seriously...
Describe your grandparents
I'm Your Angel by Celine Dion... I'll be your cloud up in the sky, be your shoulder when you cry, I hear your voices when you call me, I'm your angel... aww, that just so beautiful, perfect, and sublime... this question made me tear... who'd have thought, they're my angels, who really care for me... you know my grandma cried when she heard my A-Level results...
How's your life going?
What We Shall Die For, PotC 3 OST : University Admisions, heh.... ha, ha..
What will be played at my funeral?
Ain't No Mountain High Enough: Great choice, and feel free to dance then... and hopefully, it will be a wonderful reflection of my achievements in my lifetime... lol
Will you have a happy life?
My Love Don't Cost A Thing by JLo... - It's supposed to be a Yes/No question isn't it? Perhaps the key to a happy life is to love your other half unconditionally. Now, that's a lesson for all you married and coupled people out there, as for me, I'll leave a memo about that somewhere first...
What do your friends really think of you?
Stick To The Status Quo from HSM OST... Is that true? OK, I was always thought you people wanted the total opposite, well, that seems to be a rather good idea... so, sing along guys, "No,No, No, stick to the stuff you know, if you want to be cool, stick to the rule"... Science at NUS, here I come!
How can you make yourself happy?
At Your Side by The Corrs... Where's that memo? All the omens, and portents are pointing towards me getting a soulmate in the course of my lifetime... that's good news!!! This tag has really made my day, Shean, thanks once again, stuff from your blog keeps making me happy...
What should you do with your life?
Unwritten by Natasha Bedingfield - Err... yes, definitely it's unwritten, but listen to the lyrics..
Staring at the blank page before you
Open up the dirty window
Let the sun illuminate the words
That you could not find
Reaching for something in the distance
So close you can almost taste it
Release your inhibitions
Feel the rain on your skin
No one else can feel it for you
Only you can let it in
No one else, no one else
Can speak the words on your lips
Drench yourself in words unspoken
Live your life with arms wide open
Today is where your book begins
The rest is still unwritten, yeah
Makes a great life philosophy, doesn't it? Once again, I must say... Physics and NUS, here I come!!!
Will you ever have children?
Flying Without Wings by Westlife... "some find in the faces of their children... no one can deny the joy it brings, when you found that special thing, you're flying without wings" Oh my God, I'm so happy, I'll be able to find this sort of happiness in my life... such that I'll be flying without wings... Yippee!!!!
What does your mom think of you?
Anyone Of Us by Gareth Gates - I guess that's kind of true, when we argue, anyone could have been wrong, but just let that stupid mistake past, why don't we?...
What is your deep, dark secret?
Bop to the Top from HSM (again) ... Kiasuism, hmm, definitely, maybe...
What is your enemy's theme song?
My God from Sister Act OST - OK.... for the record I don't hate nuns, or Christianity, or corny movies...
Whats your personality like?
Song of Joy by Julio Iglesias - Well, I'm generally a rather joyful fellow, and I hate myself when I get upset, but I do get upset, and I'm sorry for that, I try very hard to be happy and stay happy, so please don't ruin it...
What will be played at your wedding?
That's What Friends Are For by Dione Warwick, Gladys Knight, Stevie Wonder and Elton John - Perfect, Sublime, Beautiful, Ideal, Great, and Appropriate, this is the best song and indeed the song I really want played at my wedding, it's a tribute to friendship, love and everything that makes a good marriage, and it is also a tribute to all of you, the perfect ending to this tag

I tag: Michelle & the others who haven't completed this tag yet... wow, so much has passed when I was at Kinabalu... so really there isn't anyone to tag, and guess what?
...The next song on the playlist is "Time To Say Goodbye" by Celine Dion and Andrea Bocelli... how appropriate, so now, it's really time to say goodbye...

157 Reached!!!

4095.2 Metres above Sea Level

8.72 Kilometres of Climbing Trail
7.5 hours of Climbing
70 degree gradients
4 Degrees Celsius
2 Trails & 2 Certificates
5.5 hours of sleep
5 layers of shirts
2 layers of pants
3 pairs of socks
4 Guides
1 Mountain
Yes, folks, I reached the highest point in Malaysia, and one of the highest points in South East Asia. The numbers say it all... but there is definitely more. Photos and the whole story should be coming up later, since now I'm very busy trying to get "acclimatised" back to the whole University Admissions thing once again. So, if you'll excuse me, I've got a large envelope from NUS to look through.
PS: Did you know that the picture of Kinabalu on the RM 1 note is not the highest point of the mountain, it's actually the picture of the South Peak, the most beautiful of the few peaks of Kinabalu?
PPS: I didn't know that the MBTI thing would stir up that much discussion...

156 Reopened: Free Will

I'm probably resting, in much pain and agony at this point in time, or having a celebratory dinner, but whatever I'm doing, I should be pretty happy and satisfied with myself. I would still be in Sabah today, and I'll be leaving tomorrow, and returning from one of the largest islands in the world to the peninsular (the Almost an Island).

Note:In Latin, Peninsular is made from Pen- and -insular, which means almost and island respectively

Now, to the main post...

This is the opening of a study I wanted to write about free will, but it got stalled because I keep jumping from project to project, when I'm free, but I think it's quite nicely written so I didn't want to let it go to waste, virtually rotting in My "My Documents" . So here it is, I hope that the opening will inspire you to thnk twice about free will:

A simple consideration for you

Here is a question that would neither seem to be rather difficult to answer nor strike you as being extremely profound. Did you choose to read the first sentence? Maybe, in jest, you would answer no, because it would be absurd to start reading at the second sentence. Humour aside, it would, to most of us, be an intuitive (if not natural) yes. My question in response would be a resounding “Why?”

The freedom of choice, as we call it, has been taken for granted in our everyday life. We do not ponder whether we had the right to walk (or drive) down the road to the grocery store, or whether we can choose what to have for lunch with John. We naturally assume that it is a right or our abilities as human beings to make decisions in our life. Of course, a commonsense view would also extend these privileges from everyday trivialities such as shopping, to life changing decisions such as ethical or social choices. It grants us the power of judgment; it creates impressions and even go as far as altering our social reality. Life, some believe, is the sum of all our past decisions; the power of free will can create identities.

Yes, these statements are all but obvious, it would seem that any further discussion of free will is useless, irrelevant, and it should end here. Free will is just another part of life, a tool, as important but as mundane as walking, talking and eating. Or is it?

Now I invite you to take a step back, and ponder. Free will seems to be a given to any living sentient being. We have an innate ability to choose, but how sure can we be that this is not a persistent illusion? Can we be sure that what we do is not already scripted or determined? And can we be sure that when we make decisions, it can only be attributed to ourselves, and ourselves only? These are some of the questions that will interest us in the coming sections, as we begin to pick apart the surface of our pedestrian perception of free will to gain an understanding of what lies beneath and beyond these veils. But first, what really is free will?

The word “will” in the context of “free will” is an ability to desire and achieve that desire. We often speak of a person’s willpower as the extent a person wishes to achieve something. However, will is sometimes with constraints. For instance, perhaps John has the will to tell a white lie about his mother’s health, but the will neither necessitates the action nor does it mean that he can achieve it. There may be factors that prevent him from following his will. Therefore, whether he does tell the lie is not determined whether he has the will to do it.

Next, we shall now introduce the concept of “free”. “Free” basically means without restrains in any aspect; physical, social, divine or ability. If John has free will, he should be able to choose between whether to tell or not to tell the white lie, independent of societal views of him, his ethical principles or any other reasons, which may force him to pick one in favour of the other. In short, free will is about having the ability to make any particular decision, (ethical, mundane etc.), without any restraints from any external factors, keyword being without any restraints. Now that we have laid the foundations of this study, let us examine this rather interesting concept.

155 Reopened: Rhenium

Today is Day 2 on the mountain, and obviously, I still do not have access to a computer, or the Internet, so this is actually another pre-written post. Today, would also be the day I reach the top of the mountain, and I hope by the time this post is published, I would have already done that and on the way down from the mountain, and out of the Kinabalu National Park. I would also be in great pain, from the muscle strain and the exertion, and definitely in no shape to blog, so here's yet another reason to believe that this post was written beforehand...

This post is about a Youtube video I stumbled upon a while back, and which inspired me to buy the Photographic Periodic Table. The song is titled "The Elements", written and sung by Tom Lehrer, a Harvard professor and a great composer. The song contains all the elements known at the time the song was performed, and let me tell you, it's quite interesting to try to memorise and sing. I gave up after a few attempts, because

  1. I'm a lousy singer
  2. There are over a 100 elements in the song, it will take quite some time
  3. I'm not that bored
  4. There's no one to sing it to, and nobody's going to be impressed

Here's the song, followed by the lyrics...

The lyrics

There's antimony, arsenic, aluminum, selenium,And hydrogen and oxygen and nitrogen and rhenium, And nickel, neodymium, neptunium, germanium, And iron, americium, ruthenium, uranium, Europium, zirconium, lutetium, vanadium, And lanthanum and osmium and astatine and radium, And gold and protactinium and indium and gallium, And iodine and thorium and thulium and thallium.
There's yttrium, ytterbium, actinium, rubidium, And boron, gadolinium, niobium, iridium, And strontium and silicon and silver and samarium, And bismuth, bromine, lithium, beryllium, and barium.
There's holmium and helium and hafnium and erbium, And phosphorus and francium and fluorine and terbium, And manganese and mercury, molybdenum, magnesium, Dysprosium and scandium and cerium and cesium. And lead, praseodymium, and platinum, plutonium, Palladium, promethium, potassium, polonium, And tantalum, technetium, titanium, tellurium, And cadmium and calcium and chromium and curium.
There's sulfur, californium, and fermium, berkelium, And also mendelevium, einsteinium, nobelium, And argon, krypton, neon, radon, xenon, zinc, and rhodium, And chlorine, carbon, cobalt, copper, tungsten, tin, and sodium.
These are the only ones of which the news has come to Havard, And there may be many others, but they haven't been discavard.

154 Reopened: Researched

Today is Day 1 of the Kinabalu Climb, and by this time of the day, I would be really, really, tired... so exhausted, in fact, that I shouldn't even be able to type this post out. But I am , and surprising there's WiFi on the mountain, along with handphone reception, would you believe that? Actually, I'm lying only about the WiFi... I'm told there's Digi service at the summit. Well, looks like the Yellow Digi Man is telling the truth about "I will follow you" (to the tune of that song), he already climbed the tallest mountain in the country, bravo!

But that begs the question... how am I blogging? Well, thanks to Blogger, I'm able to schedule my post releases earlier in time, so, in truth. I'm writing this before I climbed the mountain. Told you there would be some sort of surprise....

Today's post is actually a study I did during a boring train ride from Seremban to Singapore, where I analysed the number, type and distributions of advertisements. It took me two hours to complete it, from the data collection to the tabulation and graph generation. That is about the time it takes to get from Seremban to Gemas. Yup, the train is that slow... it takes two hours to leave my own state. Based on a Tuesday edition of The Star Newspaper, here's what I found...

Pie Chart showing number of ads in each newspaper section

Pie chart showing number of each type of ad in the whole newspaper
Bar Graph showing the distribution of each type of ad with respect to newspaper sections

NB: Legend
  • SHO - Shopping
  • F & B - Food and Beverages
  • FIN - Finance
  • TEL - Telecommunications
  • TRA - Travel
  • VEH - Vehicles
  • EES - Electric, Electronic and Software
  • HEA -Health products and services
  • BIZ - Business & Business-realted
  • SPO - Sports
  • FUR - Furniture
  • OTH- Other products & Services

153 Reopened: MBTI

I've already touched down in Kota Kinabalu, and on my way to the Kinabalu Pine Resort (I think), where I will spend the night, before ascending the mountain the following day, at this point in time.

This is the second of the canned posts, and it is chart showing the MBTI profiles of the people I know. I cannot assure you that it is accurate and/or anyone has changed their personality. This chart is actually quite old, as I constructed it during the McNair days, and it doesn't cover everyone, and I'm sorry about that. So, here it is:

Hmm... Do I really not know any ENTJs?

152 Reopened: Rewritten 2

Who'd have thought that I would be able to blog all the way in Sabah... well, actually, I'll explain later.... The posts in the next few days are canned posts, which never got around to publishing, due to one or a combination of the following reasons:

  • They were "missing" stuff that I planned to put up, but I forgot about them
  • They were posts I wanted to put up, but due to "over-blogging" constraints and "lousy WiFi" constraints, they had to be shelved
  • Old blog materials that I just found, in some obscure corner of my computer memory

The first of these "mysterious" posts is the Nanyang Scholarship essay, like the USP essay, it's put up because it's considered a good luck charm to place your essay on your blog, at least, according to some little-known Malaysian subculture. So here it is:

Is a scholar an elitist?

The principle behind awarding scholarships is ostensibly deemed as one of the tenets of meritocracy, forming the basis of the question. While we have to agree that scholarships are awarded to those who have shown outstanding academic achievements, we cannot extrapolate the statement to argue that a scholar is an elitist.

Elitism has been cited as a negative by-product of a meritocratic society, which upholds practices such as awarding scholarships and they are thought to be ticket for the bright student to enter the upper class, However, herein lies the misconception, since elitism is a result of condescension of this so-called upper class, to those who are not as “worthy”. I will not attempt to deny that elitism is degraded form of meritocracy, where the “worthy” upper class has amassed enough power to form a vicious cycle causing the lower class to never advance. In this case, the scholar has definitely become the elitist, since he has access to many more opportunities. However, this situation will not occur if the scholar does not perceive and accept that there exist stratification between him and the “others”. If the scholar does not choose to condescend and discriminate the “others”, all people will be on equal footing, since the scholar will assist, using his privileged position, to ensure everyone achieve their best. Ultimately, it is up to the scholar to choose whether to perceive himself as of a class of his own, or reject the label of elitism. It may be bold to postulate that this is a question for the scholar himself, but elitism is a result of a group of people creating an “upper-class”. When no one believes and acknowledges that a particular boundary has been drawn between the “elites” and the “non-elites”, the ideology of elitism is moot.

PS: My interview is no longer on the 9th of May, it's been postponed the following week...

151 Ready, Get Set...

4098 Metres

10 kilometres

42 hours

3 Days to go

The Kinabalu Numbers
...and if you don't really understand what this has got to do with the show Numb3rs, all you need to know is that every episode starts like this. 4 numbers, that you'll find referred to in the course of the show.

It's all going well, and I just finished downloading Season 3 of Numb3rs, and I'm having a great time watching them. Of course, the post-show research has also been keeping me happy.

The Kinabalu Trail, and as you can see, there are no Wifi Hotspots

Hence, I can't be updating the blog from the mountain, and this blog will be relatively quiet for the next few days, since I'll be heading down to Kuala Lumpur tomorrow for the final preparations. But, I've got something interesting lined up for you, in lieu of my ranting of everyday events. So, do check back often... because you and I will never know for sure that there's no WiFi on the mountain.

PS: I wonder whether 1000 orang utans, given wireless internet in the jungle, hitting computer keyboards randomly, will be able to produce something we call blogs. But, someone told me that's been proven by Malaysians...

PPS: If you don't get the joke, read up about the infinite monkey theorem...

150 Restraints

I'm going to do this again, so please, just bear with me...

2 Universities

31 Days
4 Years

275 Kilometres

1 Dilemma

This elegantly sums up a lot of things I have to complain about. Numbers definitely does a lot more talking than words...
... and I have seriously been watching far too many episodes of Numb3rs. Somebody, please issue a restraining order between my and that TV show, and do make it as creative as this:

Yes, I realise that my laptop has to move with me in a parallel line...

... and lastly, as I'm preparing to pack for my Kinabalu trip, I realise that there is a Mathematical method which can be used to help me pack, known as the Knapsack Problem.

The Wikipedia Illustration of the Knapsack Problem

This is how it works, say, I have a lot of stuff, which I may or may not want to bring. Each object has a particular weight and is assigned a particular value (in terms of usefulness). I want to pack the objects such that my luggage does not exceed a particular weight, but I also want to maximise the total value of the objects I bring. So, using a mathematical equations, I will be able to determine the optimum number and type of objects I should bring. Maths can be so useful sometimes.

But seriously, I'm not going to do it... I'm too lazy to assign values to the things I'm going to bring and weigh each one of them.