Cellphone Memories

It’s hard to get lost anymore. I remember back in the days when we didn’t own GPS devices or have smartphones, finding a place you hadn’t been to before being such a daunting task. You’d have to ask for landmarks, which roads to use, and so on. You’ll even get traffic information to help you plan what time you should leave home. Last time we’d have to meet at a common point and convoy together to a destination. Now, we just look it up on the internet and send the address to people. They’ll find a way to get there.

Before cellphones, we’d have to schedule appointments using our home phone and head to the meeting point at the right time. If a person was late, there was nothing to do but wait around because there was no way to get in touch with them once they left home.

I remember making phone calls to home using a payphone in school to inform my mom I’ll be home late. Sometimes the payphone wouldn’t accept my coins and I’d have to run around scrounging for change from other people or the canteen. If the phone call was unanswered, I would have no other way to inform her.

That was solved when my parents got cellphones, but I remember they charged like a ringgit a minute, so calls would frequently cut off because I didn’t have enough coins. That was partially solved with phone cards. I don’t remember if they could be topped up or you had to replace them. Either way, most of the time I was stuck with coins.

I remember my first phone that wasn’t a hand me down – the Nokia 3310. Man, that phone was the shit. I think I used it for five years. Snake 2 all day, every day. I was also a fan of customization back then, with phone shells (you literally replaced the plastic of the phone, you didn’t use phone covers to customize your phone back then). I swapped batteries and even changed the LED colors once.

I guess you could say I’m a big fan of customization. That trait has carried on with me throughout my life, manifesting in different forms. Now it’s the homescreen for my Android phone, cosmetics for Dota 2 heroes and keycaps for my keyboards.

The first time I was mugged, I lost my Nokia 7610 – my first color screen phone. It was a hand me down from my sister. I only had it for about a week before the mugging incident. That event traumatized me for a bit (I was constantly looking over my shoulder every time I was walking in public and crossing roads so I didn’t have to walk past strangers). I liked that phone. I enjoyed listening to music and playing games on it. It made Chinese New Year gatherings less boring.

My first smartphone, the HTC G2, was stolen from me. People like my phones? Or thieves aren’t very choosy. I’m not sure. Fortunately my phones haven’t been stolen from me in a while, and I hope it remains that way.

56100 Memories

I read that memories are much easier to recall if they have strong emotional attachments to them. I remember feeling abandoned because there was once, my mom didn’t pick me up on time after school. Almost everybody else had left and I was one of the few kids remaining. I was close to tears, and then my mom showed up. She was late because of traffic or she forgot the time to pick me up.

There was another incident when I left my school bag on the shelf outside the toilet before I went in to use it. When I came back out, my bag was gone. Somebody had taken it. Along with my school books. I felt really sad that day. Being a victim of theft. I’m pretty sure I cried while explaining what happened to my mom.

I remember the feeling of being lost looking for my seat at lunch. Back then, your parents could opt you in for prepaid lunches in school. You’d be assigned a number at a table, and during lunch time you’d sit and eat the food on the table. However, at the beginning of each school term, the numbers would change and your first day would be spent looking for where your seat was. I don’t remember talking to anybody during lunch time though. Lunches were probably unmemorable occasions for me.

When I was in primary one, I remember a classmate asking me, “hey, do you want to see my peanuts?” I was puzzled, and asked him “what do you mean?” The next thing I knew, he pulled up one leg of his shorts and pulled his underwear aside to show me his balls. Due to the pressure of the elastic pressing against them, it made the testicles look like nuts. We both burst out laughing. I guess I appreciated toilet humor from a young age. I’m not sure where he went after school, we didn’t keep in touch. I don’t remember anything else about him, yet I can recall that memory without any effort.

Back when we were kids, it was all about who could run the fastest as a measure of how cool you were. A lot of our recess games involved running. Tag, cops and robbers, fire and ice, and so on. It wasn’t uncommon for kids to challenge each other to races. I have a scar on my knee which is a constant reminder of a stupid downhill race I had with a friend (our school was on a steep hill). I don’t remember winning it, but I do remember tripping and falling, and the aftermath of cuts and blood all over my legs. It was a painful memory.

I remember attending my first funeral. It was my grandmother’s. I don’t remember feeling sad, because I was having fun with my cousins. We played with bottle caps and folded hell paper into airplanes. I also remembered the scent of the joss sticks and the smoke that made my eyes tear. Maybe I was too young at that time and nobody told me what had really happened.

I remember the first time watching the pilot episode of Adventure Time. I was so happy that there was a cartoon I clicked with on all levels. I had never seen anything like it before. I re-watched it many times that week, and recommended it to all my friends. It made me really happy. I think that was also the moment when I realized that cartoons could have jokes for adults without being crude or vulgar.

I remember spending a week in the hospital when my fever didn’t go away for a long time. It wasn’t very interesting. All I did was wake up for crappy meals and medication, watching videos on my tablet, playing a bit of guitar when there was nobody else in the room and going to bed early. I remembered my first cigarette after being discharged. I felt light-headed and couldn’t even finish the stick.

I’ll never forget the first time I consumed ash. It was at my cousin’s house party. I was young and couldn’t drink beer then, only shandy. I saw a can of shandy on the table that I thought was mine. Without second thought, I lifted the can and poured its contents into my mouth. Immediately I could tell something was wrong. Somebody had used it as an ashtray and I had a mouth full of ash. I spat it out and never touched another can of shandy again that day. I felt disgusted.

Latent Rage

A couple of months ago, I was in my car on the way to work when I encountered some obnoxious pedestrians. They were trying to cross the road while they were wrong. Here in KL it’s a pretty regular occurrence, and I don’t have any issues with it because those people usually know that they are wrong. But if there’s one kind of person that’s more annoying than the wrong pedestrian, it’s the wrong pedestrian who thinks they’re right.

It’s kind of difficult to put into words what happened, so I’ve illustrated a diagram to make things clearer:

Full image

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Airport hues

It’s been awhile since I had to spend an extended period of time at an airport. The last time this happened was when I was in Japan. I had arrived after midnight, and there were no more trains and buses out from the airport. I had no choice but to wait until the first bus of that day.

I remember walking around the airport aimlessly. Almost everything was closed so there was nothing much to see. Nobody else was walking around. People were all strewn across chairs or on the floor, sleeping. Waiting for their next flight or like me, a bus out of the airport. I managed to find an open restaurant and bought a bowl of Udon noodles to fill my empty stomach. After that, I just loaded up Twitch on my iPad and watched some games to pass the time.

Fast forward a few years later and we have me in a similar situation. Waiting for my connecting flight to Heathrow, sitting at a Shake Shack, listening to some tunes by Dance Gavin Dance and typing out this post. Dubai’s airport is a hell lot busier at this hour. It is brightly lit, there are tons of people walking around in search of food, a place to rest, their departure gate, or just walking because it’s better than sitting around.

I was sitting alone until 5 minutes ago when this stranger just took up the seat on the table connected to mine. I didn’t acknowledge him. Not that I needed to. He was a person looking for a place to sit, like me. I don’t think I’ll engage in conversation with him. According to my laptop’s clock, it should be 5am in Malaysia now. I would be asleep at this hour. However, I slept almost the whole flight earlier so I’m not tired.

It was an uneventful flight. I watched This Is Spinal Tap for the first time. I fell asleep about 20 minutes from the end of the movie so I’ll probably finish it later. I had the aisle seat, which I didn’t mind at first until I realized it meant that I would have to give way to the two passengers next to me if they wanted to use the toilet. Good thing it only happened once. I would’ve been annoyed if I had to do it a few times.

The food was pretty good. I had some chicken curry and rice. And carrots and long beans. And a piece of chocolate. Oh, for some reason I received two prawn salads. I didn’t complain. Also ate some bread sticks. Had a lot of water. A glass of gin and tonic.

When I was sleeping, I kept feeling my hands getting wet. I have no idea if I was sweating or it was just in my head. But it was a weird sensation. I did drool a lot. One of the passengers next to me had a strange laugh. She sounded like she was going to die. I just put on my headphones to listen to the Giant Bomb podcast and ignored her. I pulled my beanie over my face and fell asleep.

My flight to the UK departs in about an hour. Great. I’m looking forward to freeze my balls off.

Oh, 70 AED = RM85, I found out today. Priciest fast food I’ve ever paid for in my life. At least it’s cheaper than rap CDs.

MPEG-2 Audio Layer III stories

MPEG-1 and/or MPEG-2 Audio Layer III,[4] more commonly referred to as MP3, is an audio coding format for digital audio which uses a form of lossy data compression. It is a common audio format for consumer audio streaming or storage, as well as a de facto standard of digital audio compression for the transfer and playback of music on most digital audio players and computing devices. [Wikipedia]

One of the best things about the internet is the amount of entertainment available for people to consume at any time. With a quick search and a click of a button, your favorite artists’s latest song can be playing in your ears in seconds. Compressed music is one of my favorite things about the internet. Without the internet, my music library would be a thousand times smaller than what it is right now. There’d be so many bands and singers I would have missed out on because they don’t get any airplay on radio over here.
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Read Only Memories

“It’s about time you change that phone of yours. Come on, it’s a frickin’ iPhone 3G!”
“But it’s served me well!”
“Half your screen is dead, your home button doesn’t function anymore and you can’t adjust your phone’s volume!”
“I can still text and make calls, that’s what matters!”
“You might as well be using an old Nokia then, come on. I’ll give you my old phone. It’s rooted and I’ve got a custom ROM on it so it’s speedy and battery life is still great.”
“But I’m so used to my iPhone!”
“I’ll install an iOS-like launcher for you, but trust me you’ll never want to go back to an iPhone after moving to Android!”
“How much are you getting paid, shill?”

I laughed in response. “Chill here for a bit, I’ll head to my room to grab the phone.”
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Hi, my name is

When I was growing up, I didn’t like my name very much. I always thought ‘George’ was so uncool and wondered why my parents would give me such a name. All the kids making fun of it didn’t help either.

Georgie Porgie, pudding and pie, kissed the girls and made them cry.
When the boys came out to play, Georgie Porgie ran away.

I guess I can be glad I didn’t grow up in the 2000s – I didn’t have to suffer from any George W. Bush flak. However, George H. W. Bush was president that time and fortunately he didn’t get that much hate (or I was too young to be aware of it).

Later on in life, it was all about George of the Jungle, which I guess wasn’t so bad either since people enjoyed the Brendan Fraser movie…right?

I remember wanting to be named Gus. Since I couldn’t change my name, I drew comics about a character named Gus who was supposed to be me. My first online handle was Gus091 (Gus was taken). I got excited watching the cartoon Recess because there was a character named Gus. My mom and sister made fun of me for wanting that name – they said it was disgusting (haha).

I don’t remember at what point in my life it was when I started embracing my name. But it was probably when I realized that having an English name, especially one that was in my official identification, was quite special in this country.

People always asked me, ‘is George your real name?’ My answers began with ‘yes, why would I call myself George?’ and eventually to just ‘yes’ and when I started embracing my name, ‘yes, it’s even on my birth cert’.

When I looked up the meaning of my name – farmer, I thought it was pretty cool. I mean sure, it’s no destroyer of worlds but hey – at least it wasn’t something lame like Baby Boi.

Who knows, maybe I’ll become a farmer one day and finally live up to my name. It will become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

And as for my Chinese name – that’s a story for another day. Kek.

Of Wasted Food And Hungry People

When I was younger, I was constantly reminded by my mom to finish all the food on my plate. I was told to never leave a single grain of rice. I remember being told that if I didn’t finish my rice, my future wife would have tons of pimples on her face (corresponding to the number of rice grains I didn’t finish). Now, I don’t remember if I believed her when I was a kid, but I did it anyway. It didn’t matter how much food was on my plate – I always made sure it was clean by the end of my meal.
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Down with the sickness

It’s been awhile since I last fell sick, and even longer since I blogged about it. I guess it’s kinda pointless to write about being sick anyway. There’s not much to say. I’m on meds, not really in the mood to write, but fuck it. Just write anyway because I haven’t hit 5 posts this week.

If there’s one thing that sucks about being sick, it’s probably having to run to the toilet every 15 minutes or so because you can’t contain the shit (heh) inside. Anyway, I’m on drugs for my fever, cough, flu and sore throat. On a side note, why isn’t flu spelled as ‘flue’? I seem to automatically type flue on the keyboard for no reason.
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Age of Experience/Mommy’s Boy

A few years ago, I was asked by an insurance sales lady out for coffee. Mainly because she wanted to sell me insurance, and not to chat. But she found out that I already had my own insurance plan (I can’t even remember how she obtained my number) – but anyway, since I wasn’t going to buy what she was selling, the meeting turned from a sales pitch to just two people talking to each other. Mostly she talked, because she seemed to have a lot to say. I can’t remember everything she said, but I clearly remember thinking to myself that day, “hmm, are old people inherently this interesting?”. Prior to that day, I hadn’t had conversations with many old people (I still haven’t), and so I was just amazed at how much she could talk and keep me engaged throughout the whole conversation.

She spoke about her childhood, her family, kids, life etc. Some of the stuff that I had experienced myself growing up, but most of it stuff I hadn’t heard before. It was fascinating. We finished our coffee that day, and I went home feeling happy because I had made a new friend. Anyway, we haven’t spoken to each other since then, but every birthday I’ve had since then, she hasn’t failed me to send me a greeting. I don’t know if it’s an automated message or if she takes the time to craft a message every year (and for every one she knows) but I do know it was unnecessary of her to do so.

Anyway, I didn’t intend to spend this post talking about her.
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