Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Friday, January 22, 2010

Boardgamecafe 100115

After two years being absent from regular boardgaming, we'd finally found ourself back at Old Town Kopitiam Cheras to meet up with the Boardgamecafe regulars for a night of boardgaming! This group, as coined by Datuk Long, is quite hardcore when it comes to boardgaming. Not just in terms of the kind of games they play, which range from the simple to the intricate, but also because a meetup for games can go from 9pm Friday night till 6am Saturday morning.

Goodness it's been some time since we've done that. And to think that we were going to stay just for Round 1 (simpler games till before midnight).

The evening started with us making our way from work to Cheras, and us deciding to use the Federal, take the exit after MidValley where others will also exit to Old Klang Road, taking the toll that'll lead us to Cheras somewhere before finding our way to OTK.

Ugh. We should have just remembered how we used to go there and stick to the tried-and-true formula.

First, there was the traffic snarl from Amcorp all the way to MidValley. An hour of senseless crawling. We took the opportunity to snack of crisps and a Christmas candy cane to while the time away and keep from starving. Once heading towards Cheras, the road miraculously cleared up and we rushed towards Cheras.

Once we reached Cheras, the fight began anew: this time with aggressive drivers. Imaginelah, a driver who sped down the emergency lane, tried to left-overtake us (and failed), and wanted to head straight on while we needed to take the left exit with him trying to block us in his attempt to overtake us. Oh oh oh and another, who sped all the way until near the divider where the left lane goes under a roundabout while the right lane goes up a flyover, and this sakai driver ignores the long queue of cars and tries to cut in just before the divider.

Thank goodness our own driving skills never really lost that edge when it comes to beating aggressive drivers at their own game. Of course, we wouldn't put Aidan in terrible risk, but that doesn't mean we let these bastards just walk all over us.

Stress levels? High by the time we arrived at OTK near 8pm and discovered that the rest have yet to arrived at 8pm. Soon, though, everyone started trickling in and we'd all did dinner first before delving into our first game.

With the food court nearby closing down and OTK expanding their menu, the Root Beer Float is very popular.

We'd all started off with blownfreak's Long Shot, a horse racing game! With jack208 explaining the rules, it dawned onto us rather quickly that we were essentially gambling (with fake money! With fake money!). Horses move based on the roll of the dice, money would be bet on potential horses in the lead or cards would be played to meddle with the movements of the horses, and the player with the most money in the end will win.

A good game with an easy theme. Plus it can take up to 8 players! Here's one interesting thing that took place in the game, tho'.

Now for Long Shot, you most likely will own a racing horse, and, if your horse was in the lead with other players placing bets on him (not to mention that you've place a considerable amount of money on him too), we're sure you would do whatever you can to make sure that horse won first place and snagged the prize money making you richer too, right? Not with Havoc Hewey, who instead of getting his horse past the finish line, instead got another horse that no one (save ayheng) had bets on into the lead. Havoc Hewey's horse saw a lot of money lost that night...

From there we moved on to Bang! Another game that could take 8 players. Unfortunately jack208 couldn't find his expansion set to allow a 8-player game so he sat out and allowed the other 7-players duke it out. We were sitting to the right of the Sheriff, making us the last player to move, and Sheriff Blownfreaks rather mercilessly peppered us with bullets using a Volcanic gun that allowed him to fired nonstop. We barely lasted two rounds, as everyone else avoided the trigger-happy Sheriff and targetted everyone else instead.

Some players soon left, and rhyen brought out Power Grid: Spain & Portugal. It was at this point that we lost track of time and thought it was only 10pm-something when in actuality it was past 11pm. We thought we could play a game, then leave the gang to spend the rest of the night having a game of whatever 18XX train game they brought to play. We got a shock when near halfway through the game, we looked at the time and saw it was past 1am.

A game where players build cities and then use their power plants to power said cities, Power Grid: Spain & Portugal turned out to be a punishing map where uranium was rare and expensive if you were running a nuclear power plant. Thankfully we snagged two hybrid power plants (which could use either coal or oil) to help keep our expenditure flexible, but we haven't played in ages and was thinking of expanding fast early in the game. A poor strategy for this map with resources refilling slowly and city expansion expensive.

Thankfully for us halfway through the game the power plants that came up in the market for auction were obsolete and that caused a gap between players, with us and jack208 owning newer power plants that could power 5-7 cities at least while the other players could only power 5 at most. Dodya's strategy of holding back to gain initiative in buying resources and building cities backfired at this point as there wasn't any suitable power plants for him to help earn enough cash to keep up.

Was the night over when Power Grid finished at 3-ish? Nooooo...we moved downstairs and started two games of Puerto Rico. Two more players left, leaving jack208, ayheng, ryhen and us, so before calling it a night we decided to do a game that everybody knew and was quick to set up. Puerto Rico it was.

So, yeah. Whether we can think of doing this regularly every fortnight or so? Hahaha not quite likely.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Twenty-Nine And A Bashful Dine

With the Chief being extra busy with an ever-increasing workload, we were asked what we would like to do for our birthday party this year instead (well, just how many times can one expect to pull off a surprise birthday party?). And we suggested to have the party at Mage Cafe for once and invite everyone and the Chief was receptive to the idea, so we both headed down there to discuss the menu with Tracy.

After that, the Chief took over organizing everything and we were very much in the dark as to the attendance list and how receptive the attendees may be towards the boardgaming lean of the place. It got to the point that we thought that the Chief might be pulling some surprise twist where instead of a party it would be, in the Chief's words, " it's going to be just the two of us, with a candlelit table in one corner and Ryan and Tracy waiting to serve us, is it?"

The thing is, with the Chief, that might be possible. Quite possible.

But in any case when we left our house we packed along a few boardgames, just in case, to help keep groups occupied.

On hindsight we probably didn't need to bring our own games, and we should probably think of investing in our own set of Heckmeck seeing how easy it was for everyone to get into the spirit of trying to get worms.

And we felt quite paiseh when we thought of the crowd of people...so much so that we were telling the Chief to just send us home and let everyone enjoy the party. Perhaps it was something like public speaking, the onrising panicky feeling knowing everyone is out there. How did we handle two years in the choir? A very significant difference: friends that we care about and who matters, and complete strangers.

Oh and that we don't wear our glasses during a performance so we cannot make out faces in the crowd.

But in a closed setting surrounded by good friends we were a bit overwhelmed...till we couldn't even stutter a thank-you speech and hid under the table when the birthday song was sung. Shy soul we are.

Still, everyone were great sports and put up with us, and we ought to have not thought of getting games set up so much that we spent our time running here and there to troubleshoot games rules but rather just enjoy the company and conversation a bit more. Hopefully everyone had fun. Thanks for giving face to us and sportingly getting into the games ya.

Our dearest Chief who managed to fit in time to organize the birthday party for us!
otousan, Alex, 'Nic, Froggie, 'Vin, lad, Nivlac, NJAPF, SK, Little Prince, Bunny and bro, Apollo, Lifebook, Takashi, Gabs, Germ, Just Jean, Ir1, Junior, Jin, Leggie, Long Leaping, ArdoLeo, LiL, Lemon, Sinner, lingo, Puddy, BravingKL, Rhyen, Ryan, esteban for making our 29th celebration simply awesome!
And Ryan and Tracy for hosting and coming up with the excellent menu!

Here's to many more birthday celebrations to come this year!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Tale Of The Court Magus And The Invasion

The king stood and looked out from the battlements, his commander to his right, his court magus to his left. Below him, armies numbering in tens of thousands march towards his castle, seeking his destruction and to claim his land under their banner.

The land shook in tempo to the marching.



"As you can see, the invaders outnumber us over ten to one. Our men, even the stoutest of hearts, cannot hope to hold out for long in this war."

The commander's lips, pressed together in a grim smile.

"I do not wish to lose a single man, magus. I ask for your assistance now because you are the only factor that may help turn the tide of this war in our favour. The enemy has no magic-users, all have been recalled back by your magic-user's Council."

"The Council will not partake in war and wanton destruction. I am allowed to stay with you because of my reputation for nonviolence, and because I am not learned in any form of destructive magic."

"So will you cannot help us?"

"Why are you still here then, magus?!" barked the commander, unkindly.

"I can, sire. That is why I am here, good commander."

"War will soon be upon us. Their troops will soon be within firing range of our arrows. And that would put us in their firing range too. We cannot stay here long," the commander commented. "Whatever spell you may have up your sleeve, you'd best do it soon."

"I've already made preparations."

Two servants appeared carrying a bucket filled with water and ice.

"And it is time to begin. Stand behind me, please."

The king stood slightly behind the mage, and the commander behind the king. The magus took off his shoes and stepped into the bucket, with a sharp intake of breath at the coldness of the water.

A wave of the arms. Gestures. Some, in fact, were very suggestive and explicit. The king raised an eyebrow. Are magic-users sworn to celibacy? he wondered.

"They are coming!" growled the commander.

"Yes, they are..." muttered the magus.

Then, a silent shockwave! The king tottered. The commander jerked and blushed. One of the servants who stood too close to the trio moaned and fainted.

In front of them, out on the battlefield, legion after legion collapsed, prostrate and twitching as if they were in terrible pain. Some of those in the front lines could be seen holding on to their groinal regions, as if they had been kicked in the valuables. Collective moans and groans rose up to the battlements.

Beneath the magus, the water had sizzled and evaporated into steam, leaving the bucket empty.

"Wha...what just happened?" faltered the king.

"I thought you said you have no destructive spells, magus. It looks as if you had dealt a mighty blow to everyone out there."

"While I may be adverse to doing harm and violence, commander, I understand that you will have your duty to do. You should bring your forces to subdue the enemy in whatever way you see fit now, while they are rendered incapable of anything else."

"Yes, commander, get your forces out there," panted the king, straightening up. "Remember that our prisons aren't very big, though, commander, to house all who are out there now."

"Understood, sire." The commander took his leave. The king turned back to the magus.

"What I felt definitely did not feel injurious in any way, magus. I suppose I did stand a little too close to you. What did your spell actually do, magus?"

"Every one of them out there, sire, is experiencing intense multiple orgasms that will last for about an hour."

"By the gods!"

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

It's The Principle Of The Thing

Every time we look at our Maxis bill, we get a mild headache. Honestly, so what if we took Accountings as an added subject for SPM? SPM Accountings was very clear cut, with this total on this debit column matching up with this credit total on this credit column in this other accounts. Maxis's bill, on the other hand, isn't so easy, even when our bill is itemized.

We recently decided to take up their iData Plan, 500mb for RM50 every month, and this being the first bill with the data plan charges we had to check to make sure that everything was okay and we weren't being overcharged or something. Whatmore with the bill totaling three times our usual average under the Value 50 plan, we definitely needed to check the bill for discrepencies.

After a bit of scribbling with a pencil on the bill with arrows pointing from where a total ends up elsewhere we had a fair few question marks to deal with. Like:

1. How did our 5% service charge jumped from RM2.50 (5% of RM50) to RM3.23? Why such an odd value? (This we called a second time because we forgot to mention about it on the first, and it was justified, luckily. Good customer service where agent said he would check and call back in half an hour, and he did.)

2. Why, on our Maxis Mobile Internet charges, after paying RM50 for 500mb of internet data, does the rebate not cover everything and that we still have to pay 2 sen? Yes well it's ONLY 2 sen but if we've already paid RM50 and we've not overshot the limit, why are you still asking us to pay???

3. What is this 'Internet 2kb: RM0.73' that we are being charged for when we were in Sporeland? We did not go online using our L'Amour, nor did we receive nor send any picture messages during our entire time in Sporeland. How came about this internet charge?

4. In our previous bill before we started some serious mobile internet usage, there's also always been some Maxis Mobile Internet charges. Less than a ringgit but there's always that. We just never bothered about it before because at times we did go online using WAP, or we assumed that it's a slight service charge for being able to send picture messages. But since we're on a roll to complain about the nitpicking ways Maxis tries to leech our cash, we might as well bring the subject up to find out what, exactly, are we being charged for.

It's not as if they were charging us exorbitantly and expecting us not to notice. It's not as if we can't pay the little bit they put on here and there. It's, WHY THE HELL should we pay for you to indulge in crooked and dishonest ways?!

So we jot down the few questions to ask, and we called 123 and tapped our way till we got a customer service agent on the line to speak with. Once we got someone on the line, we got him to open up our bill and directed him for question 2.

You can click to enlarge, but generally we've only used 51mb out of our 500mb, and before they rebated us the amount, they bloody rounded down the figure. Hence making us pay another 2 sen. Well, we sure didn't sign up for RM50.02 for 500mb data per month as we remember. So customer service agent (CSA) looks at our bill, thinks for a while, and goes...

CSA: Oh sir, that's because your data charges is prorated, so the 2 sen is excess.
Janvier: Is that so? Then please tell us how much our prorated rebate is, because our data usage so far is only about 51mb, which is about some 10%, and we're sure our prorated rebate should be more than 10%.
CSA: Er.....hold on ya sir.
Janvier: We think what happened is that your billing system rounded down the rebate.
CSA: Uh, yes sir you're right.
Janvier: Go find out what happened.

To his credit the CSA subscribed to 'The Customer Is Always Right' motto, and after that shot in the dark about our charges being prorated, he listened to the rest of our grievances and we told him to call back tomorrow with answers. Since it's not his fault directly we shall give him time to get back to us with answers rather than throw an embarassing and idiotic tantrum a la Bad Tempered Crazy Indian Girl & Patronizing Misguided Indian Mum vs Astro Customer Service.

Ugh. Imagine if we have to harangue them every month.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

The Tale Of The Old Men And The Horse

In a sleepy village somewhere in India, there lived five venerable old men. This little village consisted of nothing more than a few houses built near a train stop, and there was no need for any vehicles.

These five men were not blind at birth, but the long years have slowly eroded their sight, leaving them with only memories of their past. But the five old men did not mind, and cherished each other's company as people with similar ailings would find consolation in one another. It became their daily ritual to walk around the village and sit on a rough stone bench near a stream and the railway where they will listen to the sounds that whisper past.

They would play guessing games, when it came to sounds and smells that were new to them, and kept scores among each other when one guessed correctly.

Everyone in the village knew these five men, and their routine of walking around the village and sitting on the bench before heading home. Everyone would greet these five men if they happen to meet the five men on their way, and would step aside to let the men pass first. In their little village nothing much changes, and if there were, no one would disturb the path the five men took.

Only once, a boy named Apu decided to be cheeky and stood quietly in the path of the five old men, wondering what would happen. The story of how one of the five men, without breaking his leisurely stride, confidently swung his walking stick and struck Apu on the side of his head was still told around the village by mothers to teach their children manners.

"Oh, did you hear? Apu has returned to the village."

"He should now be a young man. Didn't he go to the city to work? Why is he back here?"

"He is now making moves, I think."


"I think you mean movies. I heard it is a kind of moving pictures with sound."

"Really? He's become a painter then? And he has come back here to paint?"

"Then who are all the people that has come with him? And a lot of noise, too, they make!"

"And they brought animals!"

"Animals? Here? What kind of picture is Apu painting? Our village with animals?"

And the five men laughed. The way they talked, it was like a man with five heads. No names were needed, the chatter was constantly flowing without pause.

"My amah heard him say that he was doing a prawn movie."

"Prawn movie? What is a prawn?"

"I do not know. But this prawn movie involves a lot of people it seems."

"Yes. This city people, I can hear them from across the village, they are so loud."

"Yes! And they have very weird uninhibited ways," -Here the old man's voice goes down to a whisper- "Do you know, last night one couple were down by the stream, the man shouts, 'Action!' and then the woman starts singing as if her maidenhead was being taken!"

"Aiyoyo! What a very obedient wife to entertain her husband with such kind of singing! But by the stream?"

At this point the five old men sensed that their path was blocked. It so happens that the filming crew had brought along a horse and dogs, and this horse had somehow escaped and is now standing in front of the five men. One old man slowly walks forward.

"I think it is an animal that Apu's friends have brought along with him. Shall we guess what it is?"

He reaches out and touches the horse's leg.

"It feels like a small tree trunk."

Another walks and touches the horse's stomach.

"No, it does not feel like a tree. It feels like a water pouch."

A third grasped the tail.

"It is a creature that brushes things!"

The fourth groped.

"Aiyoyo! It is a naked giant we are touching! His lingam is at the level of my face!"

At this point the horse, nervous at all the attention, reared up, neighed, trampled the four men and charged for the fifth. The fifth man spun and ran at the noise and the frightened cries of his friends being crushed and ran smack into a wall. And then was pinned by the horse trained for a beastiality porn movie.


Moral of the story? Who said that there was a moral to the story?

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Cryptic Crosswords

lad: treasure hunt training
Janvier: Ooh. Cool beans.

And that began rather badly, because when we found out it was a crossword puzzle site that lad sent us to, and even after giving it an initial go, we soon enough closed the tab after only managing to solve one word and was stumped over the rest.

Then somehow or another, we actually found ourself opening another tab back to the site again, and this time we went through the tutorial, and found out that all the clues do not test current general knowledge to a Trivial Pursuit extent!

'Political party that uses braille (7)' does not need us to know what kind the name of political parties at all (well yes, since it's an Australian website we can pretty much rule out the answer being BN or PKR or summat)!

And the tutorial made it clear: the clues are somewhat similar to those we've been facing in our treasure hunts. Goodness.

Of course, we've only been playing on the easy difficulty for crossword puzzles so far, we've yet to see if the harder ones will trump us. After that we shall check the newspapers to see if those are the same. If so, all the more practise for us!

And we'll hopefully do better (that is, faster) this year!

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Carpark Calamities

So, we've decided. This year we're going to take a break from the choir, even tho' this year the Young KL Singers will also be taking things easy and will not be working on producing a show. While it may sound ok to actually continue on with the choir this year because of that, we still think it's time we gave it a break and give priority to other things that have given way the last couple of years, like making sure we don't have any rehearsals causing us to rush off or miss our friend's birthday parties or being able to go for Monday's Combat consistently again.

We might be itchy and end up joining the YKLS for gigs. Who knows. We love the experience with the choir after all.

Speaking of Combat, gym this year started with us heading to Curve for Combat! After sporadic attendance for two years, we shall be able to get back to a regular schedule! About halfway into today's class, what with FCI doing four tracks in a row and us shouting ourself hoarse by track 3 our throat was killing us when we headed to the water fountain to get a drink before plunging back into class. Rather tired after Combat, (and still as sweaty, no change there).

And as we were leaving the car park at E @ The Curve (still better remembered as Cineleisure to us) we got trapped.

Everything was proceeding smoothly with us paying at the Autopay, heading to the car, driving up to the barrier, and as we slotted in our token and prepared to drive out, the barrier didn't budge. So we pressed the intercom button and waited for assistance. The speaker blares out a ringing tone as if we just called for help using a phone.

And then it switched to the engage tone you get when no one picks up.

After almost 10 minutes of repeated stabbing and no one answering, we were losing our temper and decided to head to the office instead. Let some other poor bugger try the machine and see if he gets stuck. All the better if he does too, that way we can have a line of irate people wanting the car park management to resolve matters.

Only...the office was empty too. Hence the unanswered intercom calls.

Our temper wasn't getting any better and it didn't help when we tried the landline number written on the poster suspecting that the phone in the office would start ringing (it didn't, instead we got through to the fax instead) and that, sitting right there just behind the counter on the table for all to see, was a walkie-talkie. We were thinking whoever who's supposed to be manning the office couldn't be responsible enough to even take the walkie-talkie along.

After about 5 minutes we headed upstairs to the information counter, but seeing how it's already after 10pm no one was there. Headed back downstairs to further seethe.

After waiting in front of empty office for another 10 minutes, we see a guard on a bike, waiting outside the door to the carpark looking in at us. Who knows when he appeared there and why he has not dump bike aside and ask us why we were waiting there.

Anyways patrolman got onto walkie-talkie and managed to get office attendant who was upstairs "getting reports". Attendant makes his way downstairs and was very meek, and soon we were on our way home.

Am considering writing nasty letter although think would not get any concessions like free parking for entire year.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Bon Annee 2010!

We honestly don't remember how last New Year's Day was spent riffled through our photo folders and found out that New Year's Day last year saw us having lunch with the guys at Tony Romas at Cineleisure, and that the BFF celebrated the countdown to 2009 at Bunny's. Sometime after Christmas we were planning to do a New Year's lunch and movie with the guys, with Avatar (in 3D) in mind for the movie. As for the lunch venue, we weren't sure but thought that there were some places on the first floor in 1 Utama's old wing that we could try.

The Chief then commented on a radio ad about a restaurant in 1U where each patron had his own steamboat to eat from, and the others thought that the ad must be for Plus 1 Shabu Shabu.

Turns out that they were correct about the place and so we were soon led to a round table for six. Round tables really make for great conversing among the whole group, especially when waiting for our food to cook!

We decided to go for the chicken set while the Chief opted for the pork set, and our food was served in a jiffy. The Chief had the Chinese herbal broth and we risked the tomyam soup. The tomyam soup turned out to be not spicy and rather delish that we ended up not dipping our food in any sauce at all!

The meal was ok, but we suppose what makes the dishes taste better would be their selection of sauces available. We tried the fish sauce but that turned out to be too strong, and we ended up just drinking our tomyam soup.

Also the meal portion wasn't so filling that as soon as we were done eating we were all considering dessert elsewhere. After a toss-up between desserts or ta kei, the arcades won out and we all decided to buy popcorn instead when in the cinema.

The arcades in 1U still had a variety of games other than the fighting and racing games! There's the whatchamacallit claw game to try and snag a doll, penny drops, even a Guitar Hero-like game, air hockey (where Lemon and 'Vin battled it out so fiercely that the puck kept flying out from the table!) and...

The boxing game. Sans boxing glove now. That game has been there ever since the arcade opened for business and well, we were rather curious as how the game works as we never stopped to watch people play it before!

Lemon, 'Vin, Chief and us took turns playing. 'Vin was up first and started the basic game on Easiest mode, where the screen showed a cartoon ahlong trying to get money from him and 'Vin was suppose to knock him out.

First punch! And he scored some 70-something Mtrs (Metres, as in how far the victim flew? We don't know). We them find out that you have three punches total in order to score some 250-260 Mtrs in order to proceed. With an average of 70-something Mtrs per punch, 'Vin soon lost.

We were next up when we accidentally chose the camera function mode: instead of a cartoon ahlong, the game took a picture of our face and superimposed it on said ahlong's cartoon body. Seeing this the Chief perked up and volunteered to take over from us...However the Chief is gentle and thus scored an average of 60-something Mtrs.

Lemon decided to try the Medium difficulty instead! He managed to sock a 80 Mtr hit but with a required total of 290 Mtr to win he too was out. Turns out he wasn't trying for a higher difficulty but thought that it was just to change the victims.

Us, we scored the same as 'Vin, with 70-something punches. Discussing about the game we figure the punching glove would have made it much easier to score. Still, all in good fun!

And yes, Avatar 3D!

Interestingly, everyone except the Chief and us had already watched Avatar, in fact, 'Vin watched it in 3D too! This made it his second viewing in 3D!

Our take on the show? Excellent. Show's pacing did not seem sluggish nor rushed, the story helped immerse us even better into the Pandora and the Na'vi culture. Oh and after a while we forgot all about 3D, heh. Definitely a great watch.

Next up will be, as the Chief put it, Gong Zhu Jing Wah, and we've yet to catch Sherlock!

And movies we're looking forward to this year: Prince Of Persia (please be a decent game-based movie please), Clash Of The Titans (stunning effects, does anyone have a minus one of the song "The Bird And The Worm" that was used in the trailer?), Iron Man 2, Shrek Ever After (Puss now makes us think of Garfield!!!) and should we be expecting the first part of Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows?