31 December 2008

Year End Escapades

The end of the year is always a mixed bag and way too fast a way to close the year for me. But like all boring people who aren't out there screaming a countdown and drinking their livers to poop, I'm blogging. Ok, I've got a glass of wine in one hand... but that doesn't count.

The fest-acti-vities begin with Christmas. (Christmas Eve panic shopping to be exact.) A drive to the serene rubber-estate-cum-kampung for a mega Eve bash with the Kong family, their inlaws, outlaws, grandkids and other farm animals. Then comes Christmas day dinner with my family. A short respite in between and then it's wife's birthday (29th) and the curtain drops on the 31st.

I've learnt that panic shopping lands you up with crummy gifts. By crummy I mean you feel really crappy when you open up your presents and find expensive fragrances and such and you remember that you gave them a shower radio or picture frame. I tried to make up for the injustice by treating my family to Dim Sum on Boxing Day.

Christmas Eve

The festivities in the outback of Kuala Sawah on Eve never ceases to impress me. It's always phenomenal - the amount of food, the number of people and the family dynamics. In that order. This year there was so much food I was hoping all the poor and homeless of Seremban would show up; and even then there'd be food to spare. People did stream in till late night, some in their BMWs and Mercedes negotiating tight estate dirt-lanes. And the family, oh my - there's the multilingual pastor-uncle who leads a service, an octagenarian great-grandma who puts the fear of God in all things alive, the 50-something aunt who cycles up mountains for fun and bakes up cakes to live and die for, and the uncle who roasts turkeys... just to name a few stellar characters.

Christmas day

We slept in and crept into the Nepalese service instead of our regular English one. I'm glad we did. We didn't understand a word, but that was not the point. It was celebrating in a way that encapsulated the spirit of Christmas in the most poignant way. Here we were, three Chinamen in the back of a hall of strapping Nepalese men (with odors to match, I might add), feeling altogether foreign. And they were singing beautiful hymns and carols in a language I didn't understand about a God who did understand all human flesh and its faltering attempts to reach Him; about a baby born to live the life we couldn't live; and about the man who died that we would not. Jesus showed us true empathy - entering into another's experiential world fully and sensitively; living our lives, dying our deaths. And I got to taste a tiny bit of the spirit of that empathy for the briefest moment.

Boxing day?
The Yaps basically hunched and slouched around a feast of Dim Sum, gorging dumplings, slurping tea, reminiscing everything from Castlewolfenstein (a PC game which me and my brother spent disproportionate amounts of our childhood on) to I can't remember what.. I was drunk on tea.

Wife's birthday.
Now this is when the stress hormones work overtime. Getting this one day wrong is the beginning of a year of misery. Having a wife who works shifts and gets her weekly roster on Sunday (when her birthday is Monday) DOES NOT HELP. And when you've got a barely-2-yr-old whose meals and baths need to be planned down to the ounce - it's a disaster until proven otherwise. But GOD was smiling on me this time. From the moment I got confirmation of Monday & Tuesday off, I got to work, and things just miraculously fell into place. Online booking for hotel & spa package - click click click done. Call to mom for babysitting - dial, beg, done. Plan itinerary and cover story. Done.

Come the morning, we dropped off Ethan at mom's and he gleefully bade us go and have fun. Didn't she say she wanted to shop at Isetan? So to KLCC we went. Oh, you don't need me to hang around and rather I bugger off to look at gadgets? Meet you in an hour? Great!! In that one hour I sprinted off to Impiana, checked in, got a top-floor room to get a view of KLCC park, confirmed the spa booking, ran back to the KLCC, got flowers.. all in the knick of time. Ring ring.. where shall I meet you? How about Sundanese food darling? Sprint sprint.. hide flowers under the chair, stop panting. In walks the love of my life, I pull her a chair and spring the lilies on her. A symbol of your feminine sexuality, I proudly declare (I got that off Google while crossing the road!) OK.. let's go somewhere else now. As we pulled out of KLCC and onto Jln Pinang (which is where Impiana is), I exclaim, OH NO, I left something at KLCC!! I gotta turn back! And swerve into the hotel car park. It took her all of 20 seconds before she realised that's where we were going to stay.. Well, it was worth the short suspense. The room was cosy and sleek. The massage sensuously amazing (a Balinese massage better than what we got in Bali, to be honest.) And the horizon pool perched over the city with the towers in full view, breathtaking. She was thrilled to bits. 2009 is going to be glorious.

Well, today is New Year's Eve. For the first time in my life I can look back and say I achieved all my resolutions for 2008. And that's because this time last year I didn't make any save one: I resolved not to make any resolutions anymore. That's the secret formula to fulfilment by the way: F = A/E (where F= fulfilment, A= accomplishment, and E= expectation). When E --> 0, F --> infinity. INFINITE fulfilment! Genius no? Well, while the fireworks are banging off and beers are being consumed by the barrel, I'm thumping on my PC which will soon be decomissioned while my Mac is running BootCamp. I've got a Merlot smooth as silk in hand and my wife is cackling behind me reading Tony Parsons. It's a good life, she just planted me a kiss and we wished each other Happy New Year. It's been a mad year but I wouldn't trade it for anything else. Come 2009 - give me everything you've got!

20 December 2008

Mac Day 2

Sharp learning curve ahead.

First stop: how to network and share files between Mac and PC.

These links look promising:
My First Mac

Will report later on networking.

Next stop: All about Mac OS X

Looks like Wikipedia has got what I need.

Mac Day 1

It arrived in a lowly brown box, dumped on the gravel street, pebbles still stuck to the tape. DHL had no idea what magic they were carrying in their hands. It didn't take me long to pull it out of the box and less to place it on the table, plug in the power cable, keyboard and mouse. I looked a few times in the box - no installation CDs, no motherboard software, no driver CDs, not even a warranty card... Strange. Only two manuals - 'Everything Mac' and 'Everything Else'.

The first delicious thing about setting it up is that it is only ONE piece. No desktop, monitor and one hundred dangling cables and figuring out which goes where. No wifi card, bluetooth dongle, nothing. ONE single masterpiece.

The second thing is ripping off the clear plastic that wraps everything and unveiling the black reflective apple logos embedded on the silky white.

By the time finger hits ON button, my heart is already racing.

Moment of truth. Push. And the universe leaps off the monitor. Ok I'm exaggerating. It's some kind of nebula or something captured by Hubble and stars are dancing all over the place flashing WELCOME in 10 languages or more, I can't remember. I hit BACK a few times just to watch the video and feel this tingling sensation sweep over me.. Magic washing over. Ok ok..

Now comes the wildly impossible experience(s).

I'm asked to key in my email and password - the one I used to buy this product online! This machine had traveled across the globe (from HK apparently) to one master and one master ONLY. It didn't have to spend a month configuring it till it becomes specially mine. It was MINE before it even met me. It was made for me. It's one mission is to serve me. My address and phone number appears instantly and I'm asked if anything should be changed and if there are any other users.

Then I'm told to sit in front of the Mac while it takes a picture of me (with the built-in cam) to get a profile pic without me having to hunt it down from some ancient snapshot on a faraway vacation. Nay.. 1 day old Mac wants to get a good look at his master. Pic taken, identity confirmed, it unfolds itself...

I'm trembling here. What comes next? Will the exciting welcome end here and the head-banging, hair-pulling, bug-fixing, system-crashing nightmare begin? I'm a wounded victim of years of Windows-abuse you see.. please be gentle on me. Before I hit a key, a screen pops up. GASP! It says, WiFi signal detected. Choose your router. Key in the WEP. You're connected!! What the... Was that all? No Wifi configuration, no PPP dialup codes, no nothing?? No way...

The bluetooth icon is hovering temptingly above. I click it. Detect devices. Sony Ericsson P1i detected. Paired. Ok.. not bad. Hang on, what's that? 3G Modem detected - use it to connect to Internet? Hell YES!! Maxis, WAP, Unet, etc........ CONNECTED. Oh my Gooooddd.... The Mac figured out how to get online through my 3G phone without me even asking it to! What took weeks of configuring and failed connections with the PC, ploughing through Mobile Networking Wizard and m-Router configurations took the Mac a total of 1 minute. WITHOUT any guidance from ME. This is like driving a car without every having to open the bonnet while using a PC is like keeping a trunk full of tools, spare radiator tubings, jumper cables and a few extra spark plugs just in case.

OK. Look here, Mr Cocky Mac. If there's one thing that will make you my best friend forever, is that you can SYNC with my Sony Ericsson P1i. All the forums I've read out there say SEP1i and you just don't get along. Not that you're hostile but the SEP1i is just plain Mac-dumb. Now can you do it?? Start iSync (used the Help to find it). Device detected. Device not compatible. Ok... How about a little help here? Sony Ericsson's website seems to have a plugin available. Download. Installed automatically. iSync again (without rebooting 10 times). Sudden flurry of activity. Synchronising.. it says.. Can this be true? I've been fooled by this endless 'synchronising' spinaround that gets zilch result. The first few times I did it with the PC it took me 2 days, a few meals, a few walks in the park. Don't give me that rotating two-arrow sign. I will not be deceived... What's that? DONE? Whaddya mean done. All 2530 contacts and 190 calendar events downloaded?? NO WAY. NO %^*&#^($#^( WAY. This is when I shudder. This is when a get golfballs in my throat. This is when I want to break into tears... IT IS FINISHED?? In 2 minutes??

I shake my head in disbelief. My jaw drops like my masseters were mush. I stare at all 20inches of messianic magic. Words fail me. There aren't adequate analogies or symbols for this kind of an experience. How can I describe it? It's like being given the keys to a Cadillac after 20 years of riding a beatup Proton that needed to be brought into the workshop every week, whose air conditioning fails in the hot sun, and power windows jam sequentially. It's like being told you never have to look into the engine, you can take off your grease-covered rags and wash off that rust - it's time you drove a real car now. You deserve it.

And this is just DAY 1. I'm just scratching the surface. I'm just playing with the tip of the iceberg. I'm ready to be wowed. I'm looking forward to a life time of pleasurable machine usage and not heart-wrenching disillusionment. Mr Mac. Don't let me down.

Things I would like to do in the coming weeks/months:
1. Get PARALLEL and run Windows apps on the Mac (better than a PC does I hear!)
2. Catalog all my digital photos (6 years worth, some 100gb of it)
3. Get my KORG 01/W hooked up by MIDI and play some serious music along with GarageBand
4. Edit my home and medical videos with speed and style
5. Organise my MP3s on iTunes
6. Discover everything else I didn't even know I could do, and do all the things I never knew I should be doing!

Ahhh... the dawn of a new era for me.

19 December 2008

The Little Drummer Boy

Seeing that Ethan has got a real passion for rhythm, we couldn't resist getting him his first drum set.

Since then he's been experimenting various styles of banging, asks for his audience to sit and watch or sing along so he can beat.

Look at him go!

Now I wonder when I can get MY own drum set... What was that?? Sorry I'm a bit deaf.

Family Outing at MidValley

It's great when the whole family can get together and chill.

Our recent outing-pigout at MidValley and landed up stuffing our faces at Paddingtons.

Bali Videos

I've only recently had an uninterrupted connection to upload our holiday videos. Here they are: