Tuesday, July 29, 2008

junkie the slacker

Actually, quite the opposite. My work, my studies and my travelling have converged like three vectors ganging up on a tiny point to pretty much swallow me into a head-pounding, self-loathing vortex.

So yeah that means I'm kinda lazy to update these days, although I've been Plurking like mad regularly. Join Plurk and Plurk with me! Been also using it to brush up my language skills - I've discovered its hidden use as an excellent language tool.

I know I still owe you guys my Greece trip post and photos. So sorryyyyyyy.... Oh I bought the Sony Ericsson C902, will check it out in Friday and will post a review on that too!

(Throws a random distraction into the fray) You know the song Brimful of Asha, by Cornershop? You should definitely have heard of this at some point - the chorus of the song goes

Brimful of asha on the 45
Well it's a brimful of asha on the 45

And so on and so forth. BrainyBoy once told me, hey, he's always thought it was

Grim poodle basher on the 45
Well it's a brimful of asha on the 45

I looked at him and I was like, look, that makes no sense. He retorted yeah, like 'brimful of asha on the 45' makes a whole lot of sense.

Point taken, I suppose.

Then there's the Eiffel 65 song, Blue:

I'm blue da be dee da ba dai
Da be dee
Da ba dai
Da be dee da ba dai

He suggested:

I'm blue and I'm in need of a guy
And I'm in need
Of a guy
And I'm in need of a guy

*Weird look from me to him* Ok........

I'm blue if I were green I would die
If I were green
I would die
If I were green I would die

Yeah, BrainyBoy's weird. But that's what makes him awesome. Looking forward to seeing you this October, boi!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

junkie house-views

One day I found myself house-viewing with a real-estate agent.

Now I'm not the kind of person that particularly enjoy house-viewing - I see it as a necessary activity to acquire a nice and comfortable home to kick back, relax, and build a nice nest. However, whenever I'm house-viewing, with the combination of having to take various modes of transport, navigating to unfamiliar places, and making dozens of calls to a score of either very persistent or very nonchalant people, I'm generally feeling a potent mixture of annoyance, sense of harassment, and general lack of personal hygiene. This is a state normally not conducive to selecting one's future home, however, one does the best one can.

This particular episode, as I walked into the house with my real-estate agent, I was also feeling another nagging/irritating feeling. My feelings were kind of like a weird horse race, like the ones you see on TV with BBC commentators narrating. Wash Me Not and King Annoying were pretty much tied neck for neck, with HairAssment trailing behind. However, there was another eager dark horse, usually lagging behind, but today enjoying a winning streak - I Need to Pee was enthusiastically clopping along, leading the rest of the pack.

So there I was, this babbling real-estate agent showing me around this rather sterile, white flat (which to it's credit was rather spacious), and I trying to be interested and telling myself I should be interested. Meanwhile, I Need to Pee put on an extra spurt of energy (BBC commentator: I do not believe where this beauty is getting his energy today!) and started extending his lead. I start really squirming and ask the real-estate agent if I could use the place's toilet.

Why sure, says the real-estate agent, and proceeds to showcase the bathroom to me. It was really quite nice, with a white gleaming porcelain bath and a disconnected-style wash-basin. The agent was doing his routine of explaining the bathroom's design - however, at this time all my attention was only focused on the white, gleaming, virgin surface of the toilet bowl. I wait for him to finish his spiel then I am alone in the toilet. I take care of business with relief and then rejoin him.

We walked about the flat some more, me marveling at the space of the apartment again. I was going to ask the real-estate agent how much was the apartment going to cost me when (the most amazing comeback, ladies and gentlemen!) I Need to Pee came bursting back to view, with new-found vigour and a thirst for revenge. I did a involuntary squirm on the spot and thought to myself 'WTF?' I asked the agent to show me the apartment's other toilet, and looking at me rather quizzically this time, he led me upstairs to the second bathroom.

I forego the niceties. I knock over the agent and use the toilet straightaway. Flushing and striding out of the toilet, I realised I needed to pee again!!! WTF? I did an abrupt U-turn in front of the by-now thoroughly puzzled agent and went back in again.

While peeing, these thoughts went through my mind:

  1. Once home I'd better see a doctor straightaway. That's always assuming I ever stop peeing long enough for me to get home in the first place.
  2. This would make a great post for my blog.

This was when I started swimming back into consciousness in my bed. It's 5am, I've been dreaming and I REALLY need to pee.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

junkie flies 1st class

You know the episode in Friends where Chandler and Monica try to get into the first class lounge en-route to their honeymoon, and Chandler tries to blag his way in by acting all cool and posh? The attendant asks to see his seat number and he goes "That's ok, I have it memorised - it's 1A."
My flight today:

Junkie bullies boss into getting not an economy class, not business class, but first class ticket. "1A" can.


Friday, July 11, 2008

Signs that you are dining in a Michelin-starred restaurant

I had the pleasure and great fortune of being invited to a dinner recently. Not having heard of the restaurant, I checked out its website. It was there that I saw a list of awards, and along with various other accolades and rosettes and what not:

Michelin starred

Ok, fine, it's not a big deal. It's a big deal to me ok? I've never eaten in one.

Sadly and to my great regret, it was a business/work dinner and therefore I couldn't be snapping away like a maniac (although I wanted too so much!), so you guys'll have to settle for my vivid literary descriptive skills. The photos featured here are actual photos from the restaurant though.

Here are the list of signs that would alert you that you are dining in a Michelin-starred restaurant:

1. You have to travel a shit-long distance for that restaurant. It's like driving one hour and getting lost for 2 to get to that really great and cheap Klang seafood place that is near the river thing. Really good restaurants are always a way out for some reason. It's like they want to test your dedication to eat there.

2. You don't notice there are waiters, but you love the maitre d'. The maitre d' is nice and jolly and explains the entire menu from top to bottom explaining how it is cooked, makes jokes, enquires about your health, never misses a thing you say, and always gets all your orders and food delivery right. The wine and water and various food items seem to magically appear because you never notice them bringing them to your table or refilling your glass. Seriously.

3. You honestly want to order everything on the menu. I've heard the phrase 'I don't know what to order, they all seem so good' but never really took it seriously - for the first time, I really wanted to order everything. I settled on:

Trilogie if Salmon,Caviar and Fromage Blanc - three cuts of salmon prepared in three different ways, one with caviar, one wrapped and seasoned with herbs, one in a pickled salad, with a herbed white cheese

Sea Bass and Crab Croustillant,Surf Clams,Antiboise Sauce - Sea bass and crab meat baked into a one-layer filo pastry on a bed of steamed vegtables, surrounded with surf clams

Hot Chocolate Fondant with Pistachio Ice Cream - this thing is damn good. A chocolate sponge pillow with melted chocolate inside, with pistachio ice cream on a thin wavy waffle thingamajiggie

4. Everything is perfect. The maitre d' knows exactly what to do whatever questions you have. There is not a single brown spot, tear or any imperfection (I checked) on any of your greens, no matter how small nor insignificant. The filo pastry is perfectly baked, with no black spots and absolutely no flaking at all. None. The starter came with two triangles of 'toast', except 'toast' is too lowly a title for that heavenly concoction. It was bread, perfectly white (instead of browned, don't ask me how they do it) and evenly sliced, and when I pushed my dinner knife into it, instead of 'squishing' slightly like normal toast, it sliced cleanly through with a orgasmic krrrrrk. With my blunt dinner knife!

5. Everything is delicious. Anything and everything that is presented to you as edible will be great-tasting. Some olives were on the table before we ordered, and while I don't like olives, I thought I'd try one, what the heck. I ended up gobbling about 4-5 of those.

The level of attention to detail is bordering on ridiculous. It is definitely a unique dining experience, and certainly not just about enjoying the taste of the food, but the presentation, the attention to detail and the quality of the service and dining atmosphere. These people make all the restaurants I've ever dined in look like amateurs.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Love among the ruins

[Mini update 1: Murder weapon of the year.]
[Mini update 2: A sign that oil is a really really attractive commodity.]

Below is a surprisingly heart-warming and touching love story....in a nursing home. Just goes to show that human emotions and love transcends everything. Also it's kind of hilarious.


She was 82. He was 95. They had dementia. The fell in love. Then they started having sex.

Bob's family was horrified at the idea that his relationship with Dorothy might have become sexual. At his age, they wouldn't have thought it possible. But when Bob's son walked in and saw his 95-year-old father in bed with his 82-year-old girlfriend last December, incredulity turned into full-blown panic. "I didn't know where this was going to end," said the manager of the assisted-living facility where Bob and Dorothy lived. "It was pretty volatile."

Because both Bob and Dorothy suffer from dementia, the son assumed that his father didn't fully understand what was going on. And his sputtering cell phone call reporting the scene he'd happened upon would have been funny, the manager said, if the consequences hadn't been so serious. "He was going, 'She had her mouth on my dad's penis! And it's not even clean!' " Bob's son became determined to keep the two apart and asked the facility's staff to ensure that they were never left alone together.

After that, Dorothy stopped eating. She lost 21 pounds, was treated for depression, and was hospitalized for dehydration. When Bob was finally moved out of the facility in January, she sat in the window for weeks waiting for him. She doesn't do that anymore, though: "Her Alzheimer's is protecting her at this point," says her doctor, who thinks the loss might have killed her if its memory hadn't faded so mercifully fast.

But should someone have protected the couple's right to privacy—their right to have a sex life?

"We were in uncharted territory," the facility manager said—and there's a reason for that. Even the More magazine-reading demographic that thinks midlife is forever (and is deeply sorry to see James Naughton doing Cialis ads) seems to believe that while sex isn't only for the young, exceptions are only for the exfoliated. We're squeamish about the sex lives of the elderly—and even more so when those elderly are senile and are our parents. But as the baby boom generation ages, there are going to be many more Dorothys and Bobs—who may no longer quite recall the Summer of Love but are unlikely to accept parietal rules in the nursing home. Gerontologists highly recommend sex for the elderly because it improves mood and even overall physical function, but the legal issues are enormously complicated, as Daniel Engber explored in his 2007 article "Naughty Nursing Homes": Can someone with dementia give informed consent? How do caregivers balance safety and privacy concerns? When families object to a demented person being sexually active, are nursing homes responsible for chaperoning? This one botched love affair shows the incredible intensity and human cost of an issue that, as Dorothy's doctor says, we can't afford to go on ignoring.

Dorothy's daughter, who contacted me, said that, in a lucid moment, her mother asked her to publicize her predicament. "We're all going to get old, if we're lucky," said the daughter, who is a lawyer. And if we get lucky when we're old, then we need to have drawn up a sexual power of attorney before it's too late. Who controls the intimate lives of people with dementia? Unless specific provision has been made, their families do. And for Dorothy, which is her middle name, and Bob, which isn't his real name at all, that quickly became a problem.

"Who do you love?" Dorothy asked me, right after her daughter introduced us. She'd married her first—and only other—sweetheart, a grade-school classmate she'd grown up with in Boston and waited for while he flew daylight bombing raids over Germany during World War II. Together they had four children, built a business, and traveled all over the world, right up until she lost him to a heart attack 16 years ago. But she never mentions him now and doesn't like it when anyone else does, either, because how could she not remember her own husband? Her daughter visits every evening, and because Dorothy loves kids, her daughter pays the housekeeper to bring hers over every afternoon, "and she thinks they're her grandchildren, and it makes her happy."

But even showing me around her well-appointed, little apartment in the nice-smelling assisted-living facility was an exercise in frustration for Dorothy: She joked and covered, but she might as well have been guiding me through Isabella Stewart Gardner's house, because all around were tokens from her past that have lost their meaning for her. There were tiny busts of Bach and Brahms, a collection of miniature porcelain pianos, Japanese woodcuts, and some Thomas Hart Benton lithographs she picked up for a few dollars in the '40s. "These are all my favorites," she said, pointing to shelves of novels by the Brontes and books about Leonardo da Vinci and Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt. But her expression said that she couldn't recall why she liked these volumes best, and what I think she wanted me to know is that she once was a person who could have told me. When her daughter mentioned Bob's name—Bob, who was led away in January, shouting, "What's going on? Where are you taking me?" right in front of her—it wasn't clear how much she remembered: "He came and he went, and there's nothing more to say."

So it was left to her daughter, her doctor, and the woman who runs the assisted-living facility to explain how this grown woman, who lived through the Depression and survived breast cancer, managed a home and mourned a mate, wound up being treated like a child. "Come back anytime," Dorothy told me sweetly.

Downstairs, in her bright, tidy office, I met the woman who runs the facility—one of the nicest I've seen, with tea service in the lobby and white tablecloths in a dining room that's dressed up like a restaurant. In 30 years of taking care of the elderly, she's seen plenty of couples, but none as "inspiring" or heartbreaking as Dorothy and Bob. Which is why she keeps a photo of the two of them on her desk. In the picture, Dorothy is sitting at the piano in the lobby, where she used to play and he used to sing along—with gusto, usually warbling, "I dream of Jeanie with the light brown hair," no matter what tune she was playing. She is all dolled up, wearing a jangly red bracelet and gold lamé shoes, and they are holding hands and beaming in a way that makes it impossible not to see the 18-year-olds inside them.

Before Dorothy came along, the manager said, Bob was really kind of a player and had all the women vying to sit with him on the porch. But with Dorothy, she said, "it was love." One day, the staff noticed that they were sitting together, then before long they were taking all their meals together, and over a matter of weeks, it became constant. Whenever Bob caught sight of Dorothy, he lit up "like a young stud seeing his lady for the first time." Even at 95, he'd pop out of his chair and straighten his clothes when she walked into the room. She would sit, and then he would sit. And both of them began taking far greater pride in their appearance; Dorothy went from wearing the same ratty yellow dress all the time to appearing for breakfast every morning in a different outfit, accessorized with pearls and hair combs.

Soon the relationship became sexual. At first, Dorothy's daughter and the facility manager doubted Dorothy's vivid accounts of having intercourse with Bob. But aides noticed that Bob became visibly aroused when he kissed Dorothy good night—and saw that he didn't want to leave her at her door anymore, either. (Note to James Naughton: Bob did not need what you are selling.) His overnight nurse was an obstacle to sleepovers, but the couple started spending time alone in their apartments during the day. When Bob's son became aware of these trysts, he tried to put a stop to them—in the manager's view because the son felt that old people "should be old and rock in the chair." When I called Bob's son and told him I was writing about the situation without using any names, he passed on the opportunity to explain his perspective. "I don't choose to discuss anything that involves my father," he said, and he put the phone down.

But according to the facility manager, the son was convinced that Dorothy was the aggressor in the relationship, and he worried that her advances might be hard on his father's weak heart. He wasn't the only one troubled by the physical relationship. The private-duty nurse who had been tending Bob also had strong feelings about the matter, said the manager: "At first, she thought it was cute they were together, but when it became sexual, she lost her senses" for religious reasons and asked staff members to help keep the two of them apart.

Employees wound up choosing sides—as did other residents, including some women who were apparently jealous of Dorothy's romance. And because the couple now had to sneak around to be together—for instance, cutting out when they were supposed to be in church—their intimacy became more and more open and problematic. At one point, the manager had to make Bob stop "pleasuring her" right in the lobby, where Dorothy sat with a pillow placed strategically over her lap. In all of her years of working with elderly people, the manager said, this was not only her worst professional experience but was the only one that left her feeling she had failed her patients. She had a particularly hard time staying neutral and detached, she said, because she kept thinking that "if that was my mom or dad, I'd be grateful they'd found somebody to spend the rest of their lives with."

One day when Dorothy's daughter arrived to visit, she found Bob sitting in the lobby, surrounded by a wheelchair brigade of dozing people who had been posted around him by the private-duty nurse to block Dorothy from approaching him. That's when Dorothy's daughter got the state involved and started throwing around the word lawsuit, which only made things worse, the manager said. "Once she started talking legal, that pushed things over the edge." The state did send someone in to try to mediate the situation—but then the mediator was diagnosed with cancer and died just five weeks later. Though the mediator's replacement tried to pick up where he had left off, she was never able to establish a rapport with Bob's son.

Finally, Bob's family decided to move him and insisted that neither he nor Dorothy be told in advance. No one in either family was there the morning Bob's nurse hustled him out the door. Later, the manager called his son and asked if there was any way Dorothy might come and visit just briefly, to say goodbye. The son thought about it for a few days and then said no, his father was already settled into his new home and was not thinking about her at all anymore. The lawyers told Dorothy's family that there was no way they could make the legal case that Bob's rights were being violated by his family, because you couldn't put people with dementia on the witness stand.

Dorothy's son-in-law, who is a doctor, suspects Bob's son of fearing for his inheritance. Bob had repeatedly proposed for all to hear and called Dorothy his wife, but his son called her something else—a "gold digger"—and refused to even discuss her family's offer to sign a prenup. According to Dorothy's daughter, Bob's son told her, "My father has outlived three wives, including the one he married in his 80s, and your mother is just one of many." But surely Bob's safety was a true concern, too, and maybe his son had religious or moral qualms? "I don't think so," the manager said. "I don't think he meant his dad any harm, but he couldn't see what his dad needed. … He wanted his dad to have a relationship but on his terms: You can sit together at meals, but you can't have what really makes a relationship, and be careful how much you kiss and don't retire to a private place to do what all of us do."

Though Dorothy might or might not remember what happened, "there's a sadness in her" that wasn't there before, the manager said. Bob "gave her back something she had long lost—to think she's pretty, to care about her step and her stride." She eats in her room now rather than in the dining room where she shared meals with Bob. And she no longer plays the piano. A new couple in the facility has gotten together in the last few weeks. The manager called their families in right away and was relieved to see that they were happy for their parents, and the families have been taking them on outings together. As a result of the whole experience, the manager, who is 50, recently had a different version of "the talk" with her 25-year-old daughter, instructing her never, ever to let such a thing happen to her or her husband: "I hope I get another shot at it when I'm 90 years old."

Dorothy's doctor also took their experience personally. "Can you imagine as a clinician, treating a woman who's finally found happiness and then suddenly she's not eating because she couldn't see her loved one? This was a 21st-century Romeo and Juliet. And let's be honest, because this man was very elderly, I got intrigued; my respects to the gentleman." His patient was happier than he could ever remember; she was playing the piano again, and even her memory had improved.

And though the doctor never laid eyes on Bob, in general, he said, the fear of sex causing heart attacks is wildly overblown: "If you've made it to age 95, I'm sorry, but having sex is not going to kill you—it's going to prolong your life. It was as if someone had removed the sheath that was covering [Dorothy], and she got to live for a while." But after the trauma of losing Bob, Dorothy's doctor came close to losing his patient, he said, adding that most people her age would not have survived the simultaneous resulting insults of depression, malnutrition, and dehydration. "We can't afford the luxury of treating people like this. … But we don't want to know what our parents do in bed."

Then the daughter interjected that Bob's son certainly didn't want to see them having oral sex, and the doctor proved his own point. Holding a hand up to stop her from saying any more, he told her, "I didn't need to know that." But maybe the rest of us do.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Running junkie ragged

I've been uber busy with work last week, and the last weekend consisted of

  1. catching up with sleep
  2. working some more
  3. studying for a qualification I was stupid enough to keenly sign myself up for
So yeah. Not particularly happy with the state of life, wanting a convenient door to escape my busy-ness.

Door to relieve all your troubles - spotted one day on the way home from work (about 3 storeys up)

Anyways, I know I promised you my Greece pictures, but there's been a bit of a hiccup transferring the pictures from camera to computer, so pictures have been delayed. Meanwhile I thought I'd dump pictures from my mobile phone instead.

Very politically incorrect toilet door signs
When dining in London recently, I went to the toilet, and looking for the right one, I was pleasantly amused.

As you all know, toilet door signs only serve two purposes:
  1. It lets you know a toilet is behind this door
  2. It lets you know men or women or both can use this toilet
And while these toilet door signs accomplish both objectives, I must say they do it in quite an unorthodox manner.

'Gentlemen' is a term used loosely here

The sign for the 'Gentlemen' toilet. An astute illustration of the 'gentleman' at work. Note the proud thrust forward of his hips to emphasise his activity, and the subtle tilt of his head downwards, pensively regarding his area of interest. This clearly took inspiration from classical sculptures.

I could never understand why ancient artisans wanted to sculpt this. Anyone can tell me?

Of course, this raises the next immediate question - so how did they illustrate the 'Ladies'?

Not in a dignified manner, that's for sure.

Not all that ladylike, as presently pictured

Wah, a bit obscene can? An accurate if particularly undignified illustration of who should be using the toilet. Just in case some were confused as to what should ladies do in there.

After that particular horror...

Sneak preview to Greece
I found two Greece pictures in my mobile, which were panoramas which turned out quite well. Voila:

A view from more or less my front door of my hotel room

Greece accommodation is so expensive, more so Santorini, but the views are amazing. And serene.

Perissa Beach, my favourite beach in Santorini

Afternoons in Greece are as hot as Malaysia, i.e. you better find a place to hide about 2-5pm every day. Ang mohs don't seem to understand this, they flock to the beach everyday to plop their asses under the beach umbrellas and proceed to lobster-ise themselves. I don't know how they stand the pain from the heat.

And with that, I'm sorry to say that I've run out of Greece pics for the moment. Stay tuned for more, I promise loads of cool pix! :)

Off to more kerja,

Friday, July 4, 2008

Why Google Adsense will never work for me

[Mini update1: Now it keeps insisting readers check into drug rehab!]
[Mini update2: More craziness added.]

Google AdSense is an awesome idea.

The basic idea is simple: a bot (probably similar to the one that helps Google users search online) trawls a AdSense advertiser's website, and thinks what would viewers to the website would most probably want to buy/see adverts of.

Thus, if you were in a gadget review site, you'd get links to buy the latest gadgets. Similarly, if you were in a fashion blog, you'd get links to Prada, Gucci, Vogue, etc.

But I found out today that AdSense may not suit me. Here's what my friendly neighbourhood Google Bot suggests to be featured by the ad in my sidebar as of the moment (it's probably still there):

JunkieMunkie.com - too sophisticated for Google to comprehend

Damien Hirst - I have no clue why I would be related to him.
Amsterdam Coffee Shop - That one's from my Amsterdam trip post, probably.
Dogs Diarrhea - Lol. That's probably from the Dogs post.
Dog Tired - I dunno. What randomity is this.
Feel Tired - Roflage!!!

Somehow I don't think readers would want to buy liquid dog crap.

[Update:] The Google AdSense bot has now reached new levels of insane advertising, taking a rather violent twist. Regardez vous:

Dogs vomiting blood? Puppy diarrhea lol.

This is probably a vicious circle.