Monday, November 30, 2009

To All The Vampire Aficionados

"New Moon", the movie, is screening in most cinemas right now.

I did not catch this movie and I have no plan to do so. This article is therefore not intended to be a movie review.

"New Moon" is a fantasy film based on the novel of the same name by Stephenie Meyer. It is also the sequel to last year's "Twilight", also based on Meyer's previous novel of the same name.

Since its release on 20 Nov 09, "New Moon" has been sending box offices soaring. I have heard much critics about "Twilight" and I was expecting "New Moon" to be a flop. I have been so wrong.

The stories in "Twilight" and "New Moon" center around the romance between Edward Cullen (played by Robert Pattinson) and his human female friend, Belle Swan (played by Kristen Stewart). The fact that the main character Edward Cullen is a vampire has sent viewers around the world fantasizing about the undead.

This thing about vampire is really odd. Few believe it is anything real but millions never seem to get sick of it.
Vampires are mythological beings who live on human blood. They are believed to be susceptible to garlic and light.

Similar legends exist across cultures and they have been around since the start of human history.

In the Chinese culture, the equivalent is probably the "Jiang Shi" (僵屍). Strictly speaking, "Jiang Shi" has a closer resemblance to zombies, rather than vampires. Just like its Western counterparts, the idea of "Jiang Shi" has inspired many Hong Kong made movies.

Regionally, the Malay culture has its equivalent of 'Pontianak' and the Indonesian, 'Matianak'. Over at the Philippines, they believe in the 'mandurugo' and the Japanese have their 'Nukekubi'. Similar folklores are also found in the American and African continents.

The vampires are indeed the true blue global citizens.

The story of 'modern vampires' began in the early 19th century, most notably in the story of 'Dracula'. Since then, the interest on 'modern vampire' blossomed and 'vampire-based' stories are used in movies, plays, novels and literature.

The vampire stories need not always be scary. In the 1980s, the popular movies "Fright Night" and "Fright Night II" sent their viewers roaring with laughter.

In the latest movies, it is hard to pin-point the success factor of "Twilight" and "New Moon". These movies may be the beneficiaries of the tried-and-tested 'vampire formula' or it could simply due to the appeal of Edward Cullen
. *cough*

Whatever it is, it is not difficult to note the influence of 'vampire' in these two Edward Cullen movies. Last week, it was reported that the popularity of the movies has sent the sales of pale foundation soaring. Amazing! I can't wait to see all the pale faces walking around like zombies.

This whole craze about vampires make many want to know more about the old legend and what a vampire really is. If you are one of the curious ones, check out "How Vampires Work".

For the new parents who are so bitten by the vampire bug, you might consider one of the famous vampire names for your little ones.

If you are even wondering whether you are a vampire yourself, take the quiz of "Are you a vampire?". If the result of the test makes you truly believe that you are one or can become one, the "Temple of the Vampire" can help you discover your 'talent'. (This is sounding increasingly insane, I know)

Just as the popularity of "New Moon" is soaring, it was reported that, one of the main 'weapons' used in warding off vampires has also seen its prices shooting pass gold. In case you are wondering, I am referring to garlic.

Pure coincidence? Perhaps.

Alright, I shall stop here before it gets more bizarre.

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Sunday, November 29, 2009

Dating My TV #8

See "Dating My TV #7".

It's been almost a month and I have not established a fondness for the "TV on Mobile" service. The main culprit is the instability of data streaming.

When I watch the TV at home, it is usual for me to expect TV commercials. No one likes to be cut off in the middle of an exciting movie but we have gotten used to that. The TV companies need revenue. They always do. The saving grace is that, the TV commercials are always brought in at logical breaks and thus minimizing the pain of disruption.

Unfortunately, I cannot say the same for the "TV on Mobile" service.

It would be a rare treat if the entire viewing experience is uninterrupted by the lost of connections. Usually, I can easily reconnect and I would be able to continue my less-than-flawless viewing 'enjoyment'.

The thing is, these interruptions could take place anytime. Missing out 30 to 60 seconds of the program may mean missing out a meaty chunk. Not to mention that sometimes, reconnection can be futile leaving me 'hanging' there.

For "TV on Mobile" to be accepted by the mass market, the streaming problem really must be nipped first.

See earlier "Dating My TV" posts

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Thursday, November 26, 2009

Picture Blog #7: Surf Photography

Surf photography is fascinating.

Surfing is human's way of playing with nature. In this case, it is the wave. It is a sport which is graceful and yet offers endless adrenaline rush.

Surf photography attempts to capture images of waves at their most beautiful and perhaps, oddest. It is not difficult to see why surf photography is challenging. We are talking about going after an object which has no definite shape, moving rapidly and yes, very wet.

I am not a surfer (only on the Internet) and I am barely an amateur in photography. This makes surf photography exciting and admirable to me.

In this picture blog, I have gathered some great shots. Let's get wet!

Surf Photography by Clark Little

Surf Photography by Jeff Devine

Surf Photography by Jack English

Get some tips on how surf photography is done (for beginners).

"A wave is like a woman;
it comes in many shapes and sizes;
it will excite you with anticipation,
wrap you in a cocoon-like embrace,
and either scare the hell out of you or
give you the ultimate pleasure."

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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Dating My TV #7

See "Dating My TV #6"

Last weekend, I had a date with "TV on Mobile" at the East Coast Park.
I was there to enjoy a relaxing late morning breakfast (or was it lunch?). It was a great time to catch some TV programs.

I was hoping to eat and watch something at the same time, much like what you would do with coffee and newspapers. I ordered my food and waited for it to be delivered. I tried to turn on the TV and waited for the connection to be successful.

I waited... for my food and for the images to come on.

The 'hour glass' on the phone was 'spinning'. I retried a few times but could not get beyond the 'hour glass'. My food came and the 'hour glass' was still there. I munched and meddled with the mobile phone at the same time and that went on throughout my meal.

When I took the last few bites of my burger, the TV came alive. From that point onwards, it was at its best behavior. The reception was good and switching channel was easy.

My 'munch and watch' plan was foiled.

Rating: 6/10

See earlier "Dating My TV" posts

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Monday, November 23, 2009

Happiness Quotient

What is your "Happiness Quotient" (HQ)?

I have been wondering why some people are happier than others? I have come to a firm conclusion that it has nothing to do with money, power, fame and possession. If at all these well sought after things are seen together with happiness, it is either a perception or a coincidence.

Having realized that the good old worldly stuff are not the answers to happiness makes the whole quest for happiness even trickier. Is it really so difficult to be a happy person?

The answer is 'no'.

Becoming a happy person is not our main challenge. The greatest difficulty is reaching a realization that happiness is a state of mind which is totally within our control.

Typically, unhappy people attribute their lack of happiness to anyone and anything.

They blame the economy for their business; they blame their teachers for their grades; they blame their spouses for their marriage; they blame their parents for their childhood; they blame their employers for their career and they blame the politicians for their living conditions.

Don't get me wrong. I am not a "Happiness" guru and I am definitely not the happiest person on Earth. I have my blues and I am aware that I am susceptible to feeling unhappy and instinctively want to blame someone for something.

However, I have come to realize that blaming others is just a temporary reprieve. The reality will soon hit again that I remain unhappy with the problem still staring at me.

Just like many people out there, I am constantly looking for ways to improve my HQ and wonder what would work best for me. Recently, I came across a short article "9 Secrets of Truly Happy People". Nothing in there is new to me but I hope to share my thoughts based on the nine given aspects.

1. They know what really matters

It is common to see people place great emphasis on material achievement. They pursue money and possession and soon find themselves less happy then before.

Truly happy people know what really matters to them.

To find out what really matters to you, imagine that today is the last day of your life. If you were to recap moments in your life which have made you happy, what would those be?

From today onwards, live your life that way.

2. Choose just 2-3 important projects for each year

Big and ambitious goals are often fuzzy. It is easy to shout "I want to be the most successful person!" but what does that really mean?


Taking life one step at a time has its advantage. It is helpful to define goals which are realistic and attainable. Think about a couple of projects to work on in the next 12 months or so. Focus on them. Work on them. Let them give you some purpose in life.

3. They put time aside for them each day

Face it, you only have 24 hours a day, everyday. If you do not consciously carve out some time for yourselves, others will definitely help themselves to it. Your family members, friends and co-workers are queuing up every day to get their share. Give them what they deserve but don't forget to give yourself some too.

4. They surround themselves with people who motivate, inspire or build them up

The good news is that, 'happiness' is contagious. The bad news is that 'so is unhappiness'.

It is your choice if you should let unhappy people infect you with their gloominess. If you are already feeling unhappy, you do not want to make it worse.

In "Be Inspired To Seek Inspiration", I said that "we need inspiration as much as the tyres need air." You just have to find your daily dosage of inspiration.

5. Happy people eat well

Who doesn't know that eating well leads to better health? However, you may not appreciate that it too leads to a happier you.

The whole matter is physiological. When you eat well, you put the right chemical into your body. Consequentially, your whole body, including your brain, works at its best.

Many people gauge their health with what they see on the weighing scale. They control how much rather than what they eat, in order to reach the ideal number. Their binging and yo-yo diet is certainly not helpful to their HQ.

6. They take time to play or to just ‘be’

We are the happiest when we are allowed to be ourselves. However, most of the time we have to be someone else because we are expected to be.

As a child, we wanted to be the child our parents would love to have. In school, we tried to conform so that we do not go against the rules. At work, we go along with corporate culture and achieve bottom lines. Out there we observe social norms so that we do not get into trouble.

Given the normal course of things, we rarely get to be ourselves. All the more so, we ought to remember to find time 'just being ourselves'.

7. They learn not to make excuses, justify, or cop out

People love to make excuses so that they get to wiggle out from tight corners. They soon find themselves back to the same tight corners again and they are unhappy about their own behavior. However, the urge to avoid reality is so strong that they continue to do the same. They get onto a slippery slope and they see their HQ dipping.

A common big fat excuse is "I don't have time" (sounds familiar?)

Happy people MAKE time. They don't find time.

8. Happy people take time to be grateful – for themselves and for others

This idea is simple. Let me summarize it this way:

Unhappy people dig out their one and only set back in life and feel unhappy about it. Happy people count their blessing and feel happy about it.

How more simple can that get? No one has no reason to celebrate. You just have to train your eyes to spot those reasons, however little they may seem.

I once updated in Twitter "Yesterday could have been my last day. I am grateful I have today". My morbid optimism was noted by some.

9. They get something done

Only real actions can translate 'what you want' to 'what you have'.

Unhappy people procrastinate and continue to feel unhappy about their under-achievement.

On the other hand, happy people know the secret of 'getting something done'. They set short term goals so that they get to harvest achievement regularly. Each day, they remember to find at least one task to accomplish, no matter how small. One thing for sure, they celebrate their accomplishment all the time.

That is it. I will leave you to read the article yourself. Try to map each aspect to your current state of mind and behavior. Work on them a bit at a time but do not stop. You may never be the happiest person in the world (whatever that means) but your HQ can only go up.

The secret for being a happy person is not that complex. Don't make it so.

"The foolish man seeks happiness in the distance,
the wise grows it under his feet."
~James Oppenheim~
1882-1932, American Novelist

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Sunday, November 22, 2009

Dating My TV #6

See "Dating My TV #5".

I have dated my mobile TV on several occasions. During one of those times, I turned on the TV program and had my mobile phone (OMNIA II) mounted onto the dashboard of my car. See "Dating My TV

To cut the long story short, I did not get to watch anything on the go because the reception was too disruptive. However, it kept me thinking about this whole idea of watching moving pictures while driving. Commonsense tells me that it is dangerous.

Samsung Traffic Safety Research Institute has conducted a series of experiments using driving simulators and found that drivers watching mobile TV are as impaired as drivers who are legally drunk.

Somehow, many people do not seem to feel that way. (and that includes the Singapore traffic police?)

I have seen far too many cars with video players mounted on or above their dashboards. Many of them play animated movies to keep their junior passengers entertained while on the road. The idea is sweet but what about the distraction to the drivers?

In South Korea, there is a service known as Digital Broadcasting Media which is similar to Starhub's "TV on Mobile". Many drivers started watching TV on their mobile screens in their front seats since its launch in 2005. The Korean police believed that such enjoyment had been the cause of many traffic accidents.

In 2008, the local authorities decided to ban the use of the system in the front seats of taxis and the ban was challenged in court.
Oddly, the court ruled that the taxi drivers get to keep their screens on the dashboard.

What is the position of the law in Singapore? So, did I go against the law when I mounted my mobile phone on my dashboard and 'attempted' to watch some TV programs? Perhaps, someone can enlighten me.
Well, even if it was not illegal, what I was given would not have granted me this modern distraction.

Just as well.

Related Post: Dating My TV #1, #2, #3, #4 and #5.

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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Don't Depress Problems of Depression

Robert Enke passed away on 10 Nov 2009. He killed himself.

It feels awkward to even write something about his death but his story caught my attention. For some reasons, I could feel his pain which drove him to his death.

Robert Enke is not a stranger to soccer enthusiasts. I am not one of them. For that matter, I am a certified soccer idiot. When I learnt about his death over the radio, I was disturbed by his chosen course: he threw himself in front of a train near Hannover on that fateful day . The Germany goalkeeper may have given many spectacular saves on football pitches but not his life. He was 32.

That day, I did not dismiss the sports segment on the radio (I usually would). I wanted to understand more. I wanted to know why.

Robert Enke had an impressive sports career. He started playing soccer professionally in 1995 and in 1997, he began his international career. At the time of his death, he was one of the likely choices for the German goalkeeper post at the 2010 World Cup.

However, his personal life was far less lustrous.

He suffered from depression in early 2000s but it was known to very few. In the first place, it is not in the very nature of his job to reveal such illness. In 2007, he lost his 2-year old daughter who died of heart defect. He and his wife later adopted a daughter.

In the eyes of his fans, Enke was known as a person who fought setbacks to triumph in his sports. But to his wife, Teresa, Enke was a "terrified" person. According to her, Enke was prepared to accept medical treatment for his condition. However, he has feared that such revelation may lead to the end of his sports career and their adopted daughter may be taken away from a father who suffered from depression.

Robert Enke was not the only silent sufferer of depression.

Millions of people are suffering from psychological depression. It is medical condition caused by an imbalance of brain chemical and sufferers do not just 'get out of it' by exercising some self-control. While medical treatment is necessary, few go for it. Many of these 'silent sufferers' are in the same dilemma as Robert Enke.

Medical depression is a much misunderstood illness. It carries social stigma which relate to 'madness' and people shun talking about it in the public. The truth is, anyone can get depression just like how all of us are susceptible to catching a cold. It is not necessarily linked to our social status or up-bringing.

Unfortunately, many choose to suffer in silence and dragging their loved ones along in their suffering. Blame it on the general lack of awareness of the illness.

The first thing the sufferer must accept is that the illness can hit anyone and that it is treatable. Unfortunately, the sufferers usually are the ones who fail to recognize the symptoms or are in constant denial of their condition. See a short video for a simple explanation on 'depression'.

The sufferers of the problems are the most unlikely person to go for treatment. It is precisely this reason that we must all learn more about the condition and understand what really goes on inside them. It is useless to go on encouraging them to 'cheer up'. With a little knowledge, we can help to save lives.

This is not a medical blog. Get professional help.

See more

Facts About Depression

Understanding Depression

Depression In Teens

Enke death: What are the roots of depression?

"We can't help everyone, but everyone can help someone.
Dr. Loretta Scott~

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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Dating My TV #5

See "Dating My TV #4".

So far, dating on the go both in the car and in the MRT train were no good. This time, I decided to test "TV On Mobile" at home. Yup, dating my TV at home.

Getting the line connected was a breeze. I was able to switch from one program to another rather effortlessly. I managed to watched a little of CNA, BBC, Disney and AFC.

Throughout the test, I was seated in front of my 43" flat screen TV. Each time I raised my head, I was greeted by a more pleasant screen. Let's accept it, a 3.7" screen is nowhere near one which is 43".

At the end of the test, I was totally satisfied with the streaming smoothness. However, I came to my senses that I was watching "TV On Mobile" at home! The whole idea of this service is to allow me to watch TV programs on the go, not at home.

So, to sum up, the experience was good but ironical.

Rating: 7/10.

Related Post: Dating My TV #1, #2, #3 and #4

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