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.

Rain

For the past year, every time I’ve sent my car for a wash, it would rain later in the day. Case in point, I sent my car for a wash two days ago during lunch and it rained in the evening. I’m not even kidding. Unless you believe that there’s some greater being out there trying to fuck with me, there really is no relation between my car getting washed and the weather. But it did get me wondering why this always happens.

Do I have a biological barometer that instructs my brain to send my car for a wash whenever it thinks it’s going to rain? Instead of my bones starting to hurt or my body getting aches, my tells me, “hey – the weather is going to get wet, you should get your car ready for it!” I don’t know why I don’t check the weather before I send my car for a car wash. It’s literally one swipe away on my homescreen.

I know I’ve had some polarizing thoughts about our weather – before I experienced snow, I wrote about how great it would be to have cold weather in Malaysia but after that I wrote about how it was a hassle having to put on a coat and gloves every time you headed outdoors. The weather we had in KL last weekend was perfect. It was cold enough to put on a hoodie if you wanted, but not too cold to walk around in shorts and a t-shirt.

Rain is great – if you’re not caught in a traffic jam or have anywhere to go to. It’s the perfect complement to a cup of hot coffee and some cigarettes. The sound of rain falling and hitting a roof is calming and therapeutic. I guess there’s a reason why RainyMood.com exists. I don’t know if it’s just me, but for some reason I feel colder whenever I put it on.

Rain always comes to mind when I think about assigning values to situations/problems in life. To an area that is suffering from drought – rain is heaven-sent. To another place that is suffering from floods, rain is a nightmare. Rain, like everything in life, itself is neutral – it is your situation/mindset that determines how you see it.

Gig #111: KL Journal Open Mic

Wow, it’s been a while since I wrote one of these. Tomorrow I’ll be playing my first show of 2018, also my first gig since playing with The Propositions in Penang last November. Should be fun! Drop by if you guys wanna listen to cool tunes while drinking chill beer. Brendan de Cruz is headlining, that dude’s voice is smooth as silk.

Event Page [Facebook]
Date: 18 January 2018
Time: 8-11pm
Venue: KL Journal Hotel [Google Maps]

The KL Journal Open Mic is our brand spankin’ new open mic night right in the heart of Kuala Lumpur that happens every Thursday! #openmicmy

***FEATURED ACT***

BRENDAN DE CRUZ

Passion, and persistence without exception are the two key things that would best describe Brendan de Cruz as a person, and most of all, as a musician.

His strong vocals make up for his seemingly reserved personality, but stay a little longer and you’ll learn that this talented musician is so much more than meets the eye.

With a heart made for music & a voice that leaves quite an impression, Brendan James best defines who he is & what he does when he says,

“As long as I’m making music, I’m happy.”

Follow him: https://www.facebook.com/brendandecruz/

***YOUR HOST***

SHANEIL DEVASER OF THE ENDLEAVES

Shaneil Devaser has been around the block! From fronting Crossing Boundaries back in his college days, to backing Mystery Tapes on bass and vocals. He has gigged all over Malaysia and beyond, including stints in Singapore, Australia, USA, Japan and Hong Kong, and has even pocketed a couple of VIMA awards! With 2 albums and a few EPs from various projects under his belt, he now tours with his rock band The Endleaves to promote their releases nationwide and across the great divide! Join the revolution!

Follow him: https://www.instagram.com/shaneildevaser/
…and his band: https://www.instagram.com/the_endleaves/

***OPEN MIC***

#1 Jenssen Kuek
#2 Dowandofla
#3 Yasher Shafiai
#4 Yo-Gi
#5 2storeyheart

Sign up by emailing us@openmicmalaysia.org 😀 #kljournal

JOM!

#jointherevolution

For more info on our other events, visit: http://openmicmalaysia.org/

Running from the Light

Seven in the morning, another blue Monday, I thought to myself as I swung my legs off the side of the bed and sat up. I had one of those unmemorable weekends that flew by without much thought. I couldn’t even remember what I had for dinner on Sunday. But I appreciated the rest I got. Not having to think about work was something that I enjoyed. Alas, that time has come to an end.

I wiped the crust from my eyelids and dragged my feet to the bathroom. As I turned on the tap to wet my toothbrush, I heard a loud crash from the living room. What the fuck? I turned off the tap, dropped my toothbrush into the sink and strode quickly out of my room.

In front of me stood an armored man wielding as sword, pointing it at me and yelling, “Dark Lord, your reign of terror ends today!” Around him lay my door in half, splinters all over the ground. This crazy person had destroyed the door to come into my home. I was not amused.

“What is the meaning of this?” I yelled back. I couldn’t see the man’s face behind his helmet’s visor, but based on how he reacted, he seemed surprised.

“Did I get the wrong house?”

“You sure as hell did!”

“I’m utterly sorry,” he apologized. “I was told that this was the house of the Dark Lord!”

“Not another one of you fools!” I sighed, shaking my head. I looked at my watch, I was going to be late for work.

“For the last time, can you tell whoever is giving you the information that this is the wrong place? Please stop bothering me. I’m tired of having to buy a new door every time this happens!”

“My sincerest apologies,” said the man who lowered his sword. He put it back into its sheathed and turned around, going through the now door-less door frame.

As he left I breathed a sigh of relief. Phew, I guess it’s time to look for a new place to live in. It had been a while since the light side discovered where I lived. They’re probably going to send more men next time. Next time, I won’t be around.

I phoned in to work to tell them I quit. Then, I went into my room, packed my backpack and teleported to another dimension.


Writing Prompt from Reddit: You are an average person going about their day when suddenly your door is busted open. Outside is a man in armor wielding a sword, who points it at you and declares, “Dark Lord, your reign of terror ends today!”

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.

Wedding Dates

Over the past few years a lot of people I know have been getting married, with a few more later this year. Anyway, a number of them went to visit mediums to find the perfect date to have the wedding, which got me thinking. Would two different mediums give you different dates for your marriage? I mean, if their calculations/faith etc worked – they would give you the same dates, right? Are you allowed to cross check? Do they get offended if you question or choose not to follow their suggestion?

I thought about it and maybe there’s something more behind the scenes. I’m probably talking out of my ass here but hear me out: what if wedding planners, restaurants and hotels are working together with these mediums? It’s nothing complicated or nefarious – venue owners will shave some sort of schedule showing which days they have been booked for weddings. This information is passed on to their network of mediums who keep those dates in mind. When people come to them for a date suggestion, they give them these dates where the venues are available to host weddings.

It works out for everybody. The couples get a place, the mediums get paid for their advice, and probably a fee or cut from the booking, the venue gets business. It’s like using booking.com to find a place to stay, instead you’re consulting a religious person to help you decide when to get married. Doesn’t seem too far-fetched, and it is a lot more reasonable than believing in signs, the zodiac or calculations of dates.

The End of a Season

As my holiday draws to an end, I thought I’d sit down and reflect on the past few months of my life. I can summarize them in one word: great. It’s been amazing not having to worry about anything work-related. I didn’t do anything productive, as is the case with most holidays, but I did have a good time. They were probably the best months of 2017.

A short list of things I did:
– woke up late
– go to bed late
– drink lots of coffee
– visit Cameron Highlands
– played a couple of gigs in Penang, as a bassist for The Propositions
– recorded a few demo tracks
– resumed reading
– wrote a novel
– resumed blogging
– watched a lot of movies
– watched a lot of TV series
– partied a few times
– caught up with friends
– got myself hooked on mechanical keyboards
– started the design document for my first game (it’s been like 3 years, I know)
– got my first plant (LUL)
– got a new bed
– got a haircut
– played a game of basketball

Anyway, the main thing I learned about my season-long holiday is that a break from work does wonders. I’m feeling refreshed, re-energized, and re-centered. I’m ready to get back into the daily grind – in fact I’m looking forward to it. I’ll probably try to utilize my leaves as often as possible to give myself these brief respites to keep myself happy. I’m not getting any younger after all. 2018 is going to be great, I can feel it in my bones.

What I intend to do this year:
– finish my first game
– record songs that incorporate keyboards in some way
– play more sports
– learn to play a Dance Gavin Dance song

Rain, rain, go away

Jimmy’s head was a mess – his hair flat and stuck to his forehead, dripping with rain. A far cry from how it looked at the hair salon an hour ago. His buttoned white shirt was now extra fitting, his nipples showing through the wet fabric. His grey pants looked like he had pissed himself – which was an accurate representation of how he was feeling right now.

His girlfriend had invited him over to her house for a family dinner and this would be the first time he would meet her parents. He thought he’d make a good impression by dressing up, but the weather decided to throw a wrench in his plans.

So now he stood, outside the front door of her house, waiting for his clothes to miraculously dry in time for dinner. Despite the traffic, he had managed to arrive earlier than expected. He figured he’d wait a bit before he announced his arrival, there was still time. He sat down on the driest spot of the bench outside the front door and unlaced his wet shoes. He had drenched his socks running from the car to the front porch.

“Shit,” he cursed to himself.

Taking off his socks was the last thing he wanted to do, but he couldn’t see an alternative. For as long as he could remember, he had always kept his socks on when visiting his friends’ houses. It was the reason he never wore sandals (despite some of his friends telling him how trendy they were when matched with socks). Growing up, he was bullied for having extra toes on his feet – so whenever he left the house he made sure he was wearing socks and shoes.

When word spread, he was constantly reminded by his peers that he was a freak and would never be accepted. So when his family relocated and he got into a new school, he made sure that he never left the house without shoes and socks on. But thanks to the rain, it seemed like he would have to face his insecurities again.

He got up to his feet and started pacing around, hoping that walking around would help him dry his socks. All he did was wet the floor of the front porch. As if the rain wasn’t doing a good enough job. He sat down on the bench again and sighed. He looked at his watch again, it was now dinner time.

“Maybe they won’t notice”, he thought to himself.

“The trail of water you leave behind or your twelve toes?” his other voice replied.

Suddenly, the front door swung open and he saw a familiar face.

“Jimmy! You’re here!”

“Babe!” he replied, surprised.

“I knew you’d be on time, how come you didn’t ring the door bell? Come on in!”

“I was waiting to dry off a bit before going in.”

“Don’t be silly, I’ve got a towel for you to dry yourself off.”

His socks squished audibly as he got up.

“Urm, babe, you should take your socks off. Mom wouldn’t like it if you made a mess all over her carpet.”

“Oh, yes, I forgot,” he replied.

Jimmy sat back down on the bench and started to gingerly remove his socks. He decided to draw her attention away from his feet and started some small talk.

“So, what’s for dinner? It smells good from here!”

Jenny beamed with excitement, “you’re in for a treat! My mom’s famous pork in ginger sauce and I’ve also prepared some lovely – what the fuck, Jimmy, your feet!”


Writing Prompt from Reddit: His socks were wet but he waited patiently.

The Selfie ‘Expert’

I’ve been watching movies in the cinema quite often over the past few months and when you are early, you get to sit through tons of advertisements before the movie starts. I wish we got to see more trailers, but I guess those don’t make any money for the cinemas.

Anyway, what I’ve noticed recently is that we get tons of ads for phones. While the selling points of phones have changed over the years, one thing remains – the phone’s camera. However, since we’ve reached a point where our phone’s rear cameras are as good as they can be, the focus has now shifted to the other camera on phones – the front facing camera.

I’m not sure who started the trend, but almost all the phone adverts these days are about their selfie capabilities. It’s like the advertisers are only pandering to the generation of narcissists. What happened to all the other unique features that make a phone great? Battery life, storage, graphics/performance, customization features, UI, security and all would make great selling points. But I guess it wouldn’t pander to the Instagram generation of today.

When I purchase a phone, the last thing I care about is its camera. Because I know that cameras these days have all pretty much reached a quality that is acceptable on most phones. I don’t take many photographs and Instagram filters can salvage my shitty shots into something presentable. Also, if you have a cute subject (i.e. my dog), you don’t really have to try very hard.

Maybe I’m too old (LUL age as an excuse) and I care more about reliability than anything else. The last smartphone I purchased and am currently using is the Xiaomi Redmi Note 4. Why? It has amazing battery life – I can be out all day and using the phone actively and still have battery left to spare by the time I get home. I’m not a fan of lugging power banks around just to make sure my phone still runs.

It is fast – apps run smooth, even multiple apps at the same time with the not too recently added splitscreen feature, and I had no problems with dual-SIM operation (I used to travel a lot for work). The display is standard – nothing to shout about, but it’s large enough to make watching YouTube videos and Twitch streams a pleasant experience. 4G and GPS works well, and there’s a slot for an additional memory card if I choose to use it (64 GB onboard is sufficient at the moment). Oh, it also charges really quickly and looks pretty sleek. And the fingerprint sensor is in my preferred position (behind). With the customizations I made to the launcher so I don’t have to use the default MIUI, it’s the perfect device for me.

I guess I strayed away from the point of the blog post – basically, phones are much more than selfie machines and marketers should think of other ways to sell their phones. If everybody is doing the same thing, nobody is standing out from the crowd – who is going to remember your phone being advertised? The ads are going to continue and I’ll still sit through them, but I’ll finally be excited once they start showing new or different ones in the cinema, until then, I’ll try to arrive just in time for the film.