Tag Archives: Thoughts

News Thoughts

And salvation for humanity shall be delivered in a bomber’s cargo bay

Iranian president Mr. Ahmadinejad was quoted in today’s news as saying: “The jet, as well as being an ambassador of death for the enemies of humanity, has a main message of peace and friendship.”

This wonderfully oblique statement is in reference to the unveiling of Iran’s first “domestically built, unmanned bomber aircraft”.  I get the “ambassador of death” bit, but where does the “peace and friendship”, (or as the NY Times translates it, “Salvation for humanity”) come into a play?  It is a bomber after all, whose sole purpose is to rain death and destruction on a population somewhere.

The statement is absurd.

Unless Mr. Ahmadinejad sincerely equates his new bomber with both peace and death (in which case I’d really like to catch a glimpse of the thought process at work here), he is most likely attempting (and failing) to gloss over the fact that Iran is simply building up their capabilities for warfare.

This is a shame, because Iran sounds like a culturally fascinating nation (if the information on Wikipedia is anything to go on).  I say it’s a shame, but again I kinda-sorta understand the need for a nation to be considered one of the “big boys”.  I just hope that someday we’ll be able to get over associating a nation’s military capabilities with their perceived “worth” in terms of world affairs.


If it ain’t broke…

I’ve just spent nearly 3 hours fiddling with my site… with nothing to show for it.

After the fun I had playing with Photoshop yesterday, I wanted to see if there was another plugin that would display image galleries a little more nicely.  I rather like the Simpleviewer plugin and thought I’d give it a shot.  However…

I found that my current WP theme doesn’t really allow for much manipulation.  I then thought, “heck, why not go for a new theme – I’ve had this one for a long time and something new might look nice”.  Fast forward 20 minutes, and I still haven’t found a theme I was particularly fond of.  So…

I thought I’d play around with the CSS files of my existing theme.  Now, I know what CSS *is*, but I haven’t really used it aside from editing some existing themes on other websites in the past.  After mucking around with the styles sheet, and various php pages (which, frankly, I know nothing about), I gave it up as a bad idea.  I think at some point I’ll have to take the time to sit down and design a theme of my own, but that’s going to have to be at some later point down the road.  Anyway…

I went back to see if other plugins would offer more flexibility, and I found several, installed them, tested them, but all didn’t play too well with the site (again, I think my current theme limits quite a bit).

I’ve decided to call it quits for now.  3 hours gone, and nothing to show for it… but hey, at least I didn’t break the site right?  ..Right?  *grumble*


The world is getting scarier

Headlines such as this used to be like something out of a science fiction movie, just… not anymore.

Pentagon Looks to Breed Immortal ‘Synthetic Organisms,’ Molecular Kill-Switch Included

Unfortunately I can understand the military’s point of view/reasoning behind research into such technologies.  Namely, if “we” don’t do it, “they” will do it, and we’ll be at their mercy.  It’s always about the race to be the one carrying the “bigger stick”.  You need to be powerful, or have something that others want,  if others are to take you seriously.  Unfortunately, this aggressive streak, while great for fostering survival and competition, makes for a bleak and frightening future if things progress as they currently are.
Maybe they’ll find a way to eliminate the gene for war/conflict.  Now THAT might be worth it.

Happy Holidays

Well,  it’s rapidly approaching the end of 2009 and boy has this year gone by fast.  I think I’ve mentioned it before, but I think life started accelerating once I hit 19 – since then, each year has gone by faster than the last.

2009 has certainly had its challenges, particularly in the workplace after a good  friend and mentor was let go.  Since this is a publicly accessible site, I won’t go into any details, but things were fairly stressful at work for a good few months.

There were also frustrations/uncertainties of a more personal nature, but… sufficed to say that I’m still sorting through those.

In the long run though, 2009 was a year of growth in many ways.  Not that one doesn’t try to progress in some way in any given year, but this year I finally moved to a place of my own.  It’s not the biggest place in the world, nor in the trendiest part of town, and doesn’t have anything especially unique – but it’s my place, the first time I’ve ever been completely on my own… and I’m loving it!

I’m happy to say that I’ve also cleared through most of my (modest) goals for this year as well:

  • Move to my own place – done!
  • Save money so I’m not living paycheck to paycheck – done!
  • Get a driver’s license – done!
  • Exercise – done!
  • Start cooking more – done!

I didn’t get to accomplishing ALL the goals I had, namely:

  • Get an IT certification
  • Improve my Japanese (I think I’ve actually gotten worse)
  • Buy fewer books (But the I’ve bought a Kindle so maybe that balances things out? 😉

I’ll create a new list of “resolutions” after the New Year rolls around, but so far 2009 has been, despite its challenges, a pretty good year.  Let’s see if I can keep up the momentum and do even better in 2010!


More thoughts on the Kindle (and other things)

I’ve now really started using the Kindle in earnest, and I’ve gotta say I’m a pretty happy camper.  Though as previously mentioned it is somewhat heaver than I was expecting, it is great for reading on the crowded trains since one can flip through the “pages” one-handed.  I find myself pulling out the Kindle whenever I’ve got more than 5 minutes to spare (of course, it helps that I’m reading a really good book, but more on that at a later date) and reading a few pages before the next stop.

I actually hadn’t intended to gripe about anything Kindle-related right now, but now that I think about it, I do find myself wishing for a better Kindle case than the one I have.  The current cover is one that feels good, doesn’t add too much heft or thickness, at least keeps the screen protected when it’s in my bag.  The downside to it is that it flips open too easily.  In other words, a strap of some sort, or some kind of unobtrusive locking mechanism would be better.  Oh, and if waterproofing could be incorporated into the case/cover, it’d be perfect! (something to consider when a typhoon is blowing)  But enough of the gripe – I’m sure a better case will come out soon enough.

What I had actually wanted to talk about was free books.  EBooks, to be precise.  I’ve actually known of Project Gutenberg for some years now.  Back when I was still in university and working part time, a friend showed me a CD containing hundreds of books he had downloaded and saved to read later.  I thought the concept was great – thousands of books readily available to read – for FREE?  And we’re not talking about unknown novellas that no-one’s heard about either – many great classics by such authors such as Dickens, Keats, Victor Hugo, Mark Twain, Emily Bronte, Tolstoy, R. L. Stevenson… too many to list here.  But many of their works are freely available to download and read.

What enthused me less though, was that…well… they were “E”books – meaning they could only be read on a computer.  Now… many of us work in front of a computer all day.  The last thing we want to do is come back home and sit in front of another computer.  It also doesn’t make much sense to print out the books since we can probably get the Massmarket Paperback version for cheaper than the cost of printing ink and paper.  Finally, it’s really not practical to lug around a laptop to read on the train – not unless you want to expose your thousand-dollar system to the risk of dropping or the elements, as well as have to deal with the frustrations of batteries that deplete after 2-3 hours.

Well, no more.  The (yep, you guessed it!) Kindle (or any other modern eReader for that matter) solves this.  To be honest, I hadn’t really thought much about using the Kindle for reading free ebooks.  However, (again, as I’ve previously mentioned) I’ve realised that while the Kindle books are cheap(er) than most of their paperback counterparts, the ease of buying and getting a book means that I will probably be spending whatever I save in book costs getting new books!  Enter Project Gutenberg (and maybe later, Google Books).  I’ve just downloaded “The Count of Monte Cristo“, “Dracula“, “Great Expectations“, “War and Peace“, “Paradise Lost“, “The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes“, “Les Miserables“, and a dozen other books – all for free. 🙂

Amazon Kindle supports eBooks in the .mobi format, but unfortunately not the epub format.  However, there is even a workaround for that in the form of Savory – a freely available application that converts epub books into mobi format directly on the Kindle.  To be honest, I haven’t tried it yet since I have too many books to catch up on as it is, but it’s good to know that such an app is out there (and I really REALLY hope that Amazon isn’t so fussy about 3rd party apps that they’ll try to take it down).

Knowing that there are thousand of free books out there gives one even more reason to consider getting an eReader at some point.  While I fully FULLY agree that nothing can replace the feel, the smell, the texture, the “warm fuzzies” that one gets when holding a real book, I do think that eReaders are definitely going to become more commonplace as more and more content gets digitized.  I hate to say it, but I can easily picture younger generations growing up not ever handling a paper book; I can imagine a future where books are, if not luxuries, then at least regarded the same way something like the… abacus is viewed today – something functional, and even elegant… but somewhat antiquated.  Or perhaps the way the iPod has supplanted the cassette tape Walkman.

I think the quote by Douglas Adams (of “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” fame) is quite applicable here:

  • 1) everything that’s already in the world when you’re born is just normal;
  • 2) anything that gets invented between then and before you turn thirty is incredibly exciting and creative and with any luck you can make a career out of it;
  • 3) anything that gets invented after you’re thirty is against the natural order of things and the beginning of the end of civilisation as we know it until it’s been around for about ten years when it gradually turns out to be alright really.Apply this list to movies, rock music, word processors and mobile phones to work out how old you are.



I’m still around!

It’s been a little over a week since my last post, but there simply hasn’t been enough time in the day to do everything…

Work in particular has been particularly crazy, even requiring me to work on the weekend when something got hosed during a systems upgrade and we needed to make sure all was good before people came back into the office on Monday morning.

Heck, even today has been a full day with 2.5 hrs of taichi in the morning.  Then I spent most of my afternoon hunting around Tokyo for a rental tuxedo (I’ll post more about that later), then going to the supermarket for groceries, and dry cleaning!

I hope, hope, hope that work will be a little less crazy this week…

My busyness hasn’t all been completely work-related though.  I’ve (still) been searching for furniture and only as of yesterday can I say that I’m pretty much finished.  I’ve been to so many different places to look for a table, chairs, a bed, and a sofa, but simply wasn’t having any luck getting things at the size I needed (the dimensions of my place are rather quirky).  Finally turned to the interwebs and lo and behold, I found some items that sound decent (though I really do wish I could have seen them first).  As of now, all my bookshelves have arrived and I’ve completed building them as well as putting my books away.  Next weekend will see the arrival of my bed, table, chairs, and sofa.  Then I’ll pretty much be done!

I’ve also been doing some “crafts”/DIY projects for my place, and will post pictures of those shortly (which reminds… I think I need to get a new camera…).  I actually have a fair amount of material to put up – I’m just too tired and fall asleep too quickly once I get home!

For now, I’ll just leave you with pictures of my dinner – very spur-of-the-moment with no particular organization.  It was basically “toss all ingredients together and hope for the best” since I didn’t even taste test what I made before eating it!  😛

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For the curious, it’s simply frying a quarter of an onion (hey, it’s for 1 person, so don’t need more than that!) in sesame oil till golden, adding chopped ginger, mushrooms, and garlic a few minutes later, followed by 1 chicken thigh cut in 3 pieces, and finally dousing the mixture in some soy sauce.  Cover and let sit on the lowest heat for several minutes, uncover, turn, stir, and let sit for another 4-5 minutes or till the meat comes apart easily without showing pink.  No measurements provided because I didn’t bother looking up a recipe – but I’m happy to say it turned out tastily enough (for me anyway!) 😀 (though there is a regrettable lack of veggies…)

That’s all for tonight folks!


*bangs head on wall*

I am a proud non-reader of books” says Kanye West.

Now, I don’t listen to his music, I’m no fan of rap or hip-hop (or heavy/death metal for that matter) though I understand that many others do enjoy listening to those genres of music.  I don’t have anything against Kanye West – I really don’t know much about him.  I just feel sorry for him, not knowing just how wonderful books can be.  It sounds like he’s never read a good book before (which is surprising given that his mother was an English professor).

I also find his statement somewhat hypocritical – you’re not a fan of books but you “kind of” wrote one (it was a collaborative effort and, given that the description of the “tome” states that some pages contain just a few words while some pages are completely blank, leads me to feel that it didn’t necessarily require a momentous effort on his part) and you want your fans to buy it?

I think my biggest issue with this is that I’m sure he’s got a huge fan base – many of them young children and teenagers, and I worry that his scorn of books will influence them negatively.  As it is, I already think that not enough people read, preferring instead to turn to TV, computer/console games, or the internet for entertainment. (not that there’s anything wrong with those as a form of entertainment – they are also a valid and fun way to pass time…as long as it’s done in moderation and not at the expense of other important things – like reading. 😉 )

What frustrates me is that many people now prefer information “bites”, a la twitter, or the quick 30-second infomercials on TV, or skimming through magazines…instead of picking up a real book and actually reading it.  Kanye’s “book” sounds like more of the same – easily digestible tidbits of “thoughts” that you can read once before moving on to the next hot topic.  Heck, apparently you also have blank pages you can use to rest eyes that have been oh-so-strained from the act of absorbing such brain-heavy dictums as “Get used to being used”.  Ponderous thoughts indeed.

I’m just hoping that not too many will interpret Kanye’s pride of being a “non-reader” as cool and strive to emulate him…

To end on a positive note, I leave you with a picture of that best of combinations – books and food! (image shamelessly taken from Cake Wrecks – a great site which is also where I stumbled across the link to the Reuters article that trigged this overly lengthy post..)

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Ze internets – eet iz mine again!

Yes, I’m back online after nearly two weeks of no internet access.  Oddly enough, I missed it much less than I thought I would.  I guess partly because I was still able to check mail from my blackberry, and in a pinch also access it from work, the withdrawal wasn’t quite as painful as I had been anticipating.  But now I’m back online!  Which means… more posts to come soon 🙂

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For a larger version of that map of the internet, click HERE.


Quick update

Sneaking in another quick post from work since still no ‘Net access.  Not that I particularly miss it too much right now – less distraction while I focus on unpacking, cleaning, and putting things away.

In terms of progress – I finally have gas up and running which means I can now have hot showers again!  I’ve realised that I’ve become quite pampered since leaving Africa.  There, cold showers were the norm, but I think since Jakarta I’ve almost always had warm showers.  So… Thursday and Friday showers were a bit of a shock.  Heck of a way to wake up though, I’ll give you that. 😛

Aside from the gas being turned on, I now have a gas “conro”, or countertop grill/burner combo.  I think this is the one I got.  So I will be able to start cooking soon! 🙂

The remaining “big” appliances I need to get are a fridge, washing machine, and microwave oven.  Following that will be a bed at some point (still sleeping in a bundle of blankets on the tatami floor), shelves, table… lots more money to be spent. *sigh* 🙁

One “downside” to having one’s own place (at least in its current state, where things are just too messy to invite people over) is that it can get somewhat solitary.  I’ve always been a bit of a loner, but even when I was ensconced in my little room at my old place, there always were people there, even if I didn’t interact with them.  Here, it’s a different sort of solitary, and it’s bringing some negative emotions.

Ah well, perhaps the weather (raining solid for the past 3 days) has also contributed to my moodiness.  Pity I’m not like some people who can get a lift out of shopping, because I’ve been (and still will be) doing alot of that! 😛

Hehe, so much for a “quick” post – I’d better get back to work!