Supreme Master of Loving Huts

In today’s episode about technology, we’ll talk about going down the never-ending rabbit hole that is the internet. Have you ever found yourself on a site or a video where you read a comment or you think to yourself, “How the hell did I end up here?” The depths of YouTube, some call it. It also happens when you’re browsing Wikipedia or TVTropes. It’s not something new. I’m sure everybody has been down that road at least once in their lives. I think it’s been prevalent ever since the dawn of the internet. Just that these days, our internet speeds are so fast that it becomes trivial clicking on a link because you don’t have to wait for anything to load. My trip today took me to some interesting places.

I was doing some research on Indonesia for work today, and found out that the country was known for having birds of paradise. I decided to then look up if there were any cartoons featuring birds of paradise. I entered it into Google and a few links to the same animation pops up. Oh cool, there’s one cartoon about the topic. I decided to check it out. While watching the intro to the animation, I started reading the description of the video. Nothing out of the ordinary, except that it was attributed to a story by “Supreme Master Ching Hai”. That piqued my interest. I mean, come on – who wouldn’t want to look up information about someone called the Supreme Master?

And that’s where the rabbit hole begin. It started from me reading a Wikipedia entry about this person, putting their name in Google, looking up some Reddit threads and watching some YouTube videos. So, today I learned about the Supreme Master Ching Hai, her story, her mission, and her chain of restaurants around the world. I’d do a write-up about her, but Phoenix New Times already has a well-written piece on her that covers everything you need to know and how I feel about it, and there’s nothing else I can add with my limited knowledge on the subject. I quote from the article:

“In one such setting, Hai informed her supporters that crop circles are a kind of alien road sign through which extraterrestrials leave messages for each other. In another, she contended that the pyramids are meant to act as lighthouses for UFOs, showing them where to land safely.”

However, I learned something from today’s little adventure: while I (and a lot of other people) may find it easy to make fun of or laugh at an outrageous religion, it’s only because I know so little about it. Not that I’m an expert on other religions, but the fact that it is new compared to other religions, it hasn’t had enough time to settle in the world as something that’s accepted worldwide. Just like Scientology, except that the Quan Yin followers don’t seem intent on doing horrible things to its members or other people in society. They’re just vegans who are fanatic about their Supreme Master. Maybe one day they’ll turn violent and start terrorizing people, but for now they seem like a pretty chill bunch. Maybe in the year 5000, those religions will still be around and they’ll be as accepted as Christianity or Islam, who knows?

Start a religion so you can sell merchandise and stay exempt from taxes (the Supreme Master has her own line of jewelry and artwork available). Seems like a pretty good business model. Anyway, if you spend your money on such things, you probably deserve to have that money taken from you.

Other interesting things I discovered going down the rabbit hole today: she actually has a sizable following here in Malaysia. There’s a Loving Hut outlet in Malaysia (which I’m keen on checking out, even if it means supporting her), and last year there was a screening of one of her musicals in KL. Today I experienced the same feeling I did when I discovered that there were Mormons and Scientologists here in our country. I don’t even know why I was surprised. Anyway, like my favorite saying goes: you learn something new everyday.

If you’re keen on learning more about the Supreme Master and her teachings – there’s the Supreme Master TV channel streaming her content 24 hours a day:

Teething Problems

There are many things we take for granted each day. And it’s only because we’ve been doing them our whole lives without having to change a thing. For example, walking, dribbling a ball, cycling, driving a car, and swimming. We can do all these things because we’ve been doing them for years. Muscle memory, they call it.

One of the activities that fall under this category is typing. For my whole life until recently, I’ve been typing on regular keyboards. Though they have been in different sizes, they all maintained the standard 60% layout (number row on the top, QWERTY staggered layout, and modifiers accessible with both hands). I’m a touch typist, so for me to type, I rely heavily on muscle memory. However, that has changed recently with my acquisition of the Vortex Core – a 40% keyboard. For reference, here’s a picture of it:

Ever since I started touch typing, I have been resting my fingers on the home row (ASDFGHJKL) – two rows below the number row on a keyboard. On regular keyboards, my method for finding the home row is touching the edge of the number row, and going down two rows. On the Core, this number row is missing, so I have to consciously make an effort to only move my hands down one row from the edge of the keyboard. Fortunately, typing letters on this keyboard is the least of my concerns. Without having to punctuate my texts, I can still hit my average of 70 words per minute.

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The Shiny Disc

I remember when Apple first announced that they would stop putting CD drives in their laptops. Back then I thought it was in idiotic thing to do – I was still a heavy disc user back then. Listening to music on CDs, watching movies on DVDs and burning files to CD-Rs. I was like, this was never going to fly, what are Apple thinking?

Fast forward to this morning, there was someone in my office asking around if anybody had a CD player – she wanted to test a disc she had. Unfortunately for her, nobody had a drive. I looked around the room at everyone’s laptop – not a disc drive in sight. I thought that was pretty insane that nobody had one available for her to use. Then I started thinking about my own media habits and realized that I haven’t used discs in a very long time.

At home, I have a PC with a disconnected drive. The drive is sitting there in my computer’s case, but it’s not plugged into the motherboard. Why? When I was building my PC many years ago, I made a conscious decision not to plug it in because I hadn’t used it in a long time.

The DVD player at home is still hooked up to the TV cos my mom knows how to use it to watch movies, but these days she’s getting her shows over Astro anyway.

I remember when I got my first DiscMan – I was so happy that I could finally listen to music without having to rewind cassettes. I could listen to songs on repeat conveniently (previously, I used to record blank tapes of my favorite song repeated so I didn’t have to rewind to binge on the same song). It was a game changer for me. Over the years I continually purchased CDs to expand my music collection. It was when MP3 players became affordable, it became a game changer.

Now, I don’t even touch the CDs I own. The stacks of burnt CDs with music that I have sitting in my car? Untouched for years. These days I stream music from my phone via Bluetooth or I listen to it off a USB stick that’s perpetually plugged into the player.

RIP optical discs. It was fun while it lasted.

Words Per Minute

Typing is such a fun activity. I remember when I was first introduced to a computer when I was a kid, I saw my uncle typing in commands in MS-DOS, and I thought it was such a ‘pro’ thing to do. So when I got my first computer, I was always booting up to play my games in MS-DOS mode even though they could run in Windows 95. I just preferred typing in commands in the console to run them – that was how much I enjoyed typing.

Fast forward many years to a couple of years ago when I had to use my sister’s old laptop (because I didn’t have my own laptop) and installed Linux onto it, I had so much trouble using the command line (and Linux was all about the command line) because I couldn’t remember anything beyond the basic commands. Sure, the GUI was fully workable, but to make the most out of the operating system, you had to use commands. I was Googling how to do something different almost everyday. I was quite happy to switch to a Windows laptop after that.

These days, unless I’m writing music (it’s quite a feat to write down lyrics with a guitar on your lap – much easier to put words on paper with a pen), I write with my keyboard. Like many things I enjoy, I’m not the best at it (gaming, music, drawing) but that doesn’t stop me from doing it. For some strange reason, it is satisfying to see characters appear on the screen each time you hit a key on your keyboard. Instant gratification. I guess the feeling of typing on a mechanical keyboard accentuates it as well.

I’ve been spending a lot of time working on my typing speed recently by doing speed typing tests on Type Racer and Keybr. I have only hit 100 WPM once, but my average of 70 WPM is pretty good I guess. I probably need to type more (which I’ll do with my new job, starting next week yay) and eventually I’ll get faster.

I don’t type correctly. I definitely don’t use the proper touch typing method – my pinkies don’t do a good job or picking up the slack, and I use my index fingers way too much. Not sure if I’ll be brave or bothered enough to learn a new layout like DVORAK (apparently you can form more words on the home row than with QWERTY) but as long as I type fast enough to be a qualified typist, that’s probably good enough for me.

Maybe that’s why I enjoy playing Invoker. Casting combos quickly is as enjoyable as typing out a sentence quickly. With the added bonus of seeing enemies being blown up on your screen.

Do I love typing more than writing itself? I guess there’s a chance that’s true. Then again I disliked taking minutes at my old job. I probably just enjoy typing what I’m interested in.

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.