Saturday, July 27, 2019

Overthinking It


Sometimes, a sudden surprise baked cheese tart is just a surprise baked cheese tart.

Sometimes, a sudden surprise baked cheese tart could mean, "It looked like you were feeling out of it, you know I don't know how to help, but here's a treat to cheer you up."

Sometimes, a sudden surprise baked cheese tart was because it was a durian-flavoured baked cheese tart and you didn't place the flavour until it was not-so-subtly pointed out to you when you said thanks and was told your breath smelled of durian. And it was a surprise durian-flavoured baked cheese tart because, hey, durian flavour.

Maybe the thing to remember is that, that's the language the Chief is best at communicating in, when you're not communicating at all.

Thursday, May 09, 2019

Getting A Break

It took going in for a surgery, and being warded for a couple of days post-op for monitoring, to finally get us to take a proper break, like taking that vacation where you did nothing except stay in the hotel all day, calling for room service and not even stepping foot out of the hotel except for a short leisurely stroll.

Because even on our planned vacations, those turn into full-on planned trips where we’re out almost the entire day and are only in the hotel to shower and sleep. Except for our Phuket trips, where we instead sleep on the beach part of the time. But we’re still heading out to Jungceylon instead of just doing absolutely nothing in the hotel room, and even on the beach part of the time is spent wading in the waters or wandering the stretch of the beach. We’ve never really had a vacay where it was purely doing nothing except eat and sleep, where rest was really just resting.

Being warded? Well, it wasn’t at a great time as there were work deadlines and projects to factor in (it never is a great time), but we needed to get the surgery done stat so we decided better now than later, when we might have second thoughts about getting the surgery done. And while we couldn’t avoid the occasional work text and all, it was relatively quiet during the time we were warded because it was just after May Day and we decided not to bring our work laptop along to the hospital, and our colleagues were already informed we were going for surgery. Meals were served at certain hours, but were just left on our table or us to dine when we woke up, no pressure (and we don’t mind eating cold meals).

With most of work issues able to be safely ignored, all that was left was for us to get some much needed down time and rest. Not just in the physical sense post-op, but actually more towards some me-time/quiet time. It was the kind of down time that one couldn’t get when resting at home really, well at least not for us. While we had to put up with nurses coming in every other hour to take our blood pressure, heart rate and temperature from 7am until 2am, all we did was just stay in bed, left to our own devices (books, iPad, iPhone, and Switch namely). No gallivanting. No visitors as we didn’t announce what was going on on social media, nor did we give exact details to others who had some idea we were going for a surgery.

We suppose it was also because rather than the usual ‘taking a day off to get personal stuff done’ or similar, where if something urgent came up at work we felt that we had to invest some attention and time to resolving it, this time we could allow ourself to really feel justified to ignore anything and everything, and just...rest. Work can fuck off until we go back. Other people can take care of themselves. To be honest, even other personal matters like the upkeep of our pad, or our motor insurance renewal (which was an early reminder really) all just took a back seat. And we found the ability to tell anything you don’t want to do to fuck off, I need to rest now, to be justified for it and also personally not feel guilty about it, to be rather liberating and novel.

That enforced rest felt...good. We were thankful that we pushed for admission the night before the surgery (as it turns out the regular practice for afternoon surgery was to be admitted in the morning of the surgery itself), and that we were still warded for monitoring a couple more days post-op. Except for the night after the surgery itself, where we were irked by the other patient in our room (note to self, if ever hospitalised again push for single room and pay the extra) to the point we didn’t sleep the entire night, thankfully he was discharged the next morning and peace reigned in our room after that.

It’s not the same once we were discharged and came home. Granted, we could take a proper shower once the dressing and drain was removed, but...
...we can’t have the a/c on the entire time (because the electricity bill!), and the days are hot and sweaty currently...
...while we can just stay in our room, we are still staying with family, which while we were still left mostly on our own it was still a tad stifling as we had morning barge-ins to ask if we were going to wake up to eat our breakfast and fixed dinner times...
...once discharged, and with the dressings and drain removed, we were pretty much mobile with no restrictions, which meant we would also feel like going out rather than staying home...
...and we’ve started checking work emails, sigh...

It was good while it lasted. So it is rather saying something that we have to consider getting warded as one of the better moments we’ve experienced so far this year.

Wednesday, May 01, 2019

Layan / Tak Layan

It’s a bit fucked up when you put on your game face for people you don’t know so well, but can’t find the effort and decency to layan your closer group of friends, the ones with whom usually your introversion doesn’t show so much and you can comfortably interact with, but visibly show your fatigue and disinterest in keeping your end up sometimes. What more when you’re also comfortable being on your own and keeping quiet too.

It’s fucked up because it can be awkward and tiring for all parties, and sooner or later everyone may just drift apart, leaving only the ones you have to keep putting your game face on for.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

You’re Your Own Worst

There’s this friend we know who, from some observations (the occasional posting on social media, behaviour around most folks in general), have looked like the kind of person who doesn’t make things easy for themselves.

As in, the belief that most people don’t really like them or are out to belittle them.

Doesn’t help that said friend’s social media postings do offer a little insight into just how pessimistic one can be to one’s own work and efforts.

You are your own worst critic/enemy, after all.

We’ve at times, observing this, thought, “They shouldn’t be so hard on themselves.”

We guess it’s a good thing we never really said that out loud to said friend, because reflecting upon it now, it does sound uninformed and a tad condescending. Like, if we got the retort, “You think I don’t want to ah?” and looked upon with disappointment for making some judgement call with little understanding, we probably deserve that.

And now just looking back, our first sentence here should be corrected to: could be someone who doesn’t have things easy.

And if we don’t know how to help, we should hopefully try not to add to their troubles.

Tuesday, December 05, 2017

Let's Rock: Highlights

Well, it started when we joined the YCA Chorus for the first project this year, where we sang for the Kingdom Hearts show. That was awesome, as the last time we sang with an orchestra was for the Lord of the Rings Symphony (9 years ago!).

Then YCA Chorus participated in the SoundBridge Festival, which was hectic with only one month to prepare.

Then straight after that was to prepare for Let’s Rock, a performance featuring the KLPac Symphonic Band with conductor Kevin Christensen, Bihzhu, Fuad Alhabshi, Nick Davis, a 4-man band consisting of Loh Ui Li (the superwoman who arranged all the songs for this concert), Wafi, Kamal and Ruvi.

So, memories:
- Let’s Rock rehearsals were maintained on Sundays to avoid clashing with YKLS rehearsals on Mondays, which we didn’t like because usually our Sundays are for, ah, other commitments.

- Thankfully the songs were familiar songs from the 90s, and songs we have already performed for YKLS Rocks. Only had to make sure we didn’t mess it up with the YKLS Rocks arrangement.

- How we had to translate HoppĂ­polla in order to memorise it.

- The first rehearsal of the symphonic orchestra with Ui Li and Kevin Christensen at KLPac Indicine, where Serene, Yen Peng, Simon and us were just ‘keypoh’-ing to listen to the band play (and recording them so we have a better reference to sing to). And when it came to Zephyr Song, Kevin turned to us all and said he can’t hear us sing, thus giving us permission to sing along and making it known that we won’t be disrupting band rehearsal by doing so...and so in the recordings that followed we all could be heard singing (and probably a bit shiok sendiri as well), sans sopranos.

- Everyone packed into Studio 5 at KLPac. The noise level!

- Choreography - very simple. Ian cannot dance, so if Ian can do it, we can do it! Except due to sound balancing, most choreography had to be cut down so we can stick close to the mics.

- And when we had to stick close to the mics: during the Friday night show sound check, Cason, who is on our right, exclaims, "I ate durian today!" It's a good thing we actually like durian. Then again this could be revenge for us having Skippy's pizza with loads and loads of diced garlic in oil before bump-in on the 28th.

- More on choreography: at one point during bump-in we overheard Su-San saying “OK, later we cannot lose to the other side!” Given the men stood at the back on higher platforms, this led us to observe that (for songs where no choreography was set) the girls on the left half were doing one thing while the girls on the right were doing another. 'Cooperative Competition' kot.

- YKLS members shared the Have A Good Show tradition outside the changing rooms, and then Ian shared both the passing-the-energy and the Have A Good Show ritual to everyone involved in this production. Band members were rather unsure what to expect at first, what will this bunch of excited flers do to me ah why want to hold hand hold hand... to some old members it felt like energy was only going one direction ‘cos some others may not know what to do what’s going on.

- Have a good show also had one-thirds of the members bouncing and screaming HAVE A GOOD SHOW while others stayed rooted to the ground. There was no bouncing into the centre of the ring as well because all the band member’s music stands and instruments were in the way.

- Bihzhu’s excellent effort at learning everyone’s name. Considering we can work with our choir members for one whole production and even come show dates we may look at someone and not know their name.

- Note to self: Imprint Conan O'Brien.

- Progressions from concert day 1 to day 3:
“Think about what the song means when you want to do choreography,” says Ian. “Everybody Wants To Rule The World” is about war.” Day 1, muka serius sikit, tried not to make body language look too joyful. Day 3, everyone’s doing the step-left-step-right fun times backup singer dance.
The band! Day 1 still seated professional musicians. Day 3 waving instruments in the air and even one point standing to rock!
Something Just Like This: Day 1 bopping to the beat, Day 3 jumping on the platforms eff all if it breaks.
The audience: oh wow the audience was totally awesome for all three days. But it got wilder and wilder still each day!

- We learn about Caltex mamak. Actually not sure if we’ve been there before (we suspect we might have gone once before back in 2008 for Breakin’ It Down but don’t really remember). This time we learn not only it’s decently priced for the portions you get served, most of the dishes are past our spice tolerance. And then there’s the apom special.

- We didn’t take many photos this round to post for social media, and even less so taking with everyone. The guys weren’t as active as the girls in taking photos too so there will be less to see compared to YKLS Rocks.

- Serene is another superwoman - after an already energetic performance on Friday and Saturday night, she then continues with her singing gig after that until 1am.

- Though there’s no cast party, we all (singers) ended up heading to Uncle Don’s Hartamas to celebrate the end of the production. And ended up singing the Let’s Rock medleys, Disney songs (there was a request from another table for Lion King), Michael Jackson songs (also requested from same other table), and Christmas songs until near 2am. We don’t know which tag they used, we do know it’s on Insta Stories somewhere possibly...

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

The Nexus Experiment

So at the start of the year we had managed to snag ourself a second-hand Nexus 5 to play about with the Android OS, because we've always been curious to experience the OS. You would think given the number of phones out there running all manner of Android, getting a cheap low-end phone just to play about with would be easy, but it's been quite the headache because:
1. Our preference to experience stock Android and not some skinned version;
2. All the talk on specs makes us wonder how badly certain apps (especially games) would perform on a lower end phone;
3. Which version of Android will it be running, considering that it may get updates to the newer versions of Android (probably be stuck at Marshmallow);
4. How cheap is cheap compared to what we want from points 1 and 2.

So it was a stroke of luck when we came across a second-hand section at DirectD PJ, and so thought, why not? We'll try it for a couple of months and then if we get freaked out by how Google tracks everything we'll stop using the phone. We're also not replacing our iPhone with the Nexus, but using it as a secondary phone, because we're too tied into the Apple ecosystem. Universal apps and iCloud Photos syncing on all our devices meant photo editing and music creation for choir work is a breeze, so it isn't as easy to 

Side note: Maxis's Multi-Sim 1 Line isn't as it used to be anymore, where you can choose which phone to receive calls and texts and switch at any time using a hash code, now there's just a primary phone that receive calls and texts, while all sims have access to data. Well making data calls would still work, but we find it slightly limits the purpose of having multiple sims.

Verdict?

  • We like Google Now and the suggested cards of articles to read. Tried using one of the popular launchers available only to find ourself going back to the Google Now launcher.
  • We're made more away on how Google tracks our locations (because notifications pop up to confirm if we've been to a place), even when we have the Google Maps app closed.
  • Google Assistant's voice recognition is super.
  • Because spec-wise it isn't that great, we rarely use the camera and Google Photos (which we also rarely upload personal stuff). Our surprise seeing a loading bar (that isn't part of the app UI) whenever we start Ascension also puts a dampener at using it to play games.
  • It's great for Google Maps and Uber because we save battery on our main iPhone.
  • We think because it's a Nexus running stock Android, it still runs smoothly (again, never tried more intensive apps).
  • Material Design is nice, but the way text gets cramped in Google Maps when there's a long name is a bit jarring.
We suppose why it didn't see more use than we'd expect is because the apps we do use (Pixelmator, ForScore, Notion) are already paid for from the App Store, we don't use Google Photos (the privacy issue), and because Whatsapp only works on one device at a time, the silly bugger. Also likely because when we use Google's stuff (GMail, Docs) it's on a desktop.

This Nexus phone is also quite unfortunate somewhat - to keep it handy we did not get a casing for it, only to have it fall to the ground twice. Once on a laminated floor screen first, resulting in a long line across the screen, and once more on the asphalt causing it to be a bit more beat up than usual.

After 10+ months we're finally ending the Nexus Experiment, we're calling it off. We're switching the sim over to our old iPhone 5, because iOS 11 has been horrible on battery life so a second device for battery-intensive stuff right now is a good idea still.

Tuesday, September 05, 2017

YKLS Rocks: Highlights


Our director, Ian, always tells us to remember how we feel and treasure the memories of the moments during the production and there were definitely some good ones when we joined back this year:

The best memory we have? When both groups finally get to view what each has done in terms of choreography and arrangement for the Sing-Off songs. For Mr Brightside, Kathleen started flirting with all men, and the shocking reveal that Justin was her beau had our jaw dropping.

Other stuff...

During the twice weekly rehearsals, it was split to have the directors work with Rockabye Baby on Monday and Undecided on Wednesdays. Except due to time constraints, the other group usually heads upstairs to rehearse and figure choreography. Or in one case for Undecided, to sit down, chitchat and eat salted egg yolk fish skin snacks.

When Ui Li first joined in rehearsals to play the piano (after the second half group songs were nearly finalised), the Undecideds were sitting near the piano. Except we weren't really sitting, a bunch of us (especially Serene) were up and jumping and rocking to Viva La Vida and Mr Brightside.

Rachael's initial rock band name!

Dressing room burns by Tristan:
Simon Chong: Tristan, how do you say, "Welcome to the YKLS 15th Anniversary concert?"
Tristan: We say it in English.
Simon: NO. NOOOOO.

- and another time when Justin came in with a wet plastic bag -

Us: But why is the bag wet?
Justin: I washed it because it was sticky with banana sap earlier. The bag's still good, so...
Us: Ah, going to reuse the bag la.
Tristan: Why, Justin? Are you in financial trouble?

Hmmm again as in earlier productions, we take a fair bit of photos and videos early on in the year (although mainly to be used for promoting on social media), but come actual showtime to the end we sort of fatigue out and so don't really have much behind-the-scenes photos during bump-in/post-show or even cast party. While during these time we'll see loads by other members.

The rock songs chosen by Serene and Justin to be played pre-concert during the group rituals - just like how in prior productions the sound tech would play pop songs and Lex would even do choreography as it it was a Zumba class.

'Passing the energy' this year not as Morse code crazy as it was during Illuminations! Phew.