Excuses or Dependencies?

I’ve previously written about how I’ve conditioned myself to write when I’m outdoors with coffee and cigarettes. It’s not much of a problem, since I don’t write that often, and I’ve been only writing for fun. However, today, as I sit here at a cafe, smoking and drinking coffee – I think I might have turned it into a habit. A dependency.

Like sure, it’s great, I get to compartmentalize my life – home is for relaxing and fun, cafes are for working. I don’t think about work when I’m home, I just think of all the fun things I can do. But because of that, when I’m home – I don’t feel like working at all these days. Like, I can’t even take my laptop out to write a simple blog post. I have to drive out of the house, get a caffeinated drink and light up a stick to get the engine running.

I admit, it works, but I don’t think it’s good in the long run. What if one day I have to quit smoking or drinking coffee? I guess I’ll learn to adapt, but if it’s in the middle of the day and I’m at the office with no chance to go out, then what? I sit at my desk and stare at the blank screen for hours?

Maybe it’ll be different when I actually do start work. Since it’s been a long time since I’ve held a writing job. But I’ll probably have to condition myself again to work differently. Unless I get an office with a smoking room (hah!) that would be fun.

What about other routines I have like taking a shit in the morning if not I’ll feel uneasy until I do? Is that a bad habit? People tell me it’s good that I have regular excretion habits, somehow I feel like I shit too much. It feels terrible leaving the house without taking a shit in the morning (i.e. I’m in a rush for a morning appointment). Especially during traffic jams. I always get the feeling like I’m about to shit my pants. Fortunately that hasn’t happened yet, but it’s bound to happen someday. right? I’ve had to deal with this for the longest time. Seems like another dependency to me.

Just like the first stick of the day. I usually have one while waiting for my car engine to warm up or as I’m exiting my condominium if I’m in a rush. My day just doesn’t start without one. I guess it’s like brushing your teeth before you go to bed or when you wake up. Nobody feels good going to bed or going out without doing it. Right?

Dragonfang

“Fabian, we need your help!” came a cry from outside my open window. “Please! This is an emergency!”

What is it now? The last time I fell for their tricks was six months ago when they told me that my crush was waiting for me around the corner. Instead it was my buddy dressed up in her clothes. I never went out with them again. They still came over to my place to hang out though. I had a PlayStation VR since I saved up my money instead of spending it on booze and parties. While I know they weren’t sincere friends, I did enjoy having some company over every now and then.

I put down the latest issue of Weekly Shonen Jump and stuck my head out the window sill. The sun was already down, I must have been lost in its pages for some time.

“I’m not falling for your tricks again,” I replied.

“No, this isn’t a joke, I swear to god!”

“You know the story of the boy who cried wolf?”

“I’m serious, Fabian! You gotta believe me!”

“Fine, if this is another one of your pranks you guys aren’t coming over to use my PlayStation VR for a month.”

“Hurry! And bring your sword!”

Sword? That was a weird request – but not something that I was going to refuse. Dragonfang had been sheathed for a while now and was thirsting for some blood. I decided to bring her out. “Sorry,” I told the other swords in my arsenal, I would bring them out another time. I quickly pulled Dragonfang off my sword rack and strapped it around my body. I put on my fedora, hopped down the stairs and opened the front door.

Tommy was standing in my front yard, looking extremely distressed.

“We’re under attack by some monsters! They just came out of nowhere and started killing everybody at the party!”

He was either telling the truth or the giving the performance of a lifetime. I wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt, but monsters?

“Dude, monsters don’t exist in the real world!”

“Oh trust me, they do! See this blood stain on my shirt? It doesn’t belong to me, that was from Sarah – when one of those beasts took her head off!”

There was definitely a bloodstain on his shirt.

“Why didn’t you call the cops?”

“We did, but they were all killed! Some back up is on the way but I don’t think that they’ll be enough. I managed to escape the party with a bunch of other people but most of them are still trapped in the house. I didn’t know who else to call!”

“All those nights spent partying when you could have trained in the art of sword fighting with me. Tsk tsk,” I muttered.

“Come on! We’ve got no time to debate, I’ll learn the art of the blade with you – if we survive this.”

“You promise?”

“I promise! Let’s go!” Tommy said as he turned and started running towards the party.

I pulled the tip of my fedora downwards, arched my body forward and raised my arms behind me to streamline my body.

“Dattebayo!” I yelled and ran after him.


Writing Prompt from Reddit: While others partied, you studied the blade. Now they have the audacity to ask for help.

Rude Awakenings

This morning I was woken up by a phone call from another telemarketer. This time it was a lady who was trying to sell me an insurance plan by my credit card. Anyway, she started her pitch off the bat. It was a special plan that would pay out a lump sum to me if I was ever diagnosed with cancer, some heart disease or something else (stroke, I think?). I was half awake, I couldn’t remember what she said. Anyway, she was really persistent on the phone despite my continuous negative replies. It got kind of annoying, and I’m not sure if she was annoyed (because I made her explain the whole plan before shutting her down) but it made me glad that I’m not a telemarketer.

But anyway, I was just thinking about the call the marketer made. How much information do they have about us? Or was it just by chance that the covered illnesses were something that I was at risk of (stroke in the family, cancer from me smoking). Also, they must have known that I could afford the insurance plan. I wonder if the list of diseases are different for each person they call. Reminds me of Watch_Dogs, where you can identify people you come across the street and learn about their history and current convictions.

If we all had that ability, I wonder how it would affect our daily lives. I think past criminals wouldn’t stand a chance in society. Then again, they’d probably hack their information to show something else. Which reminds me of the watch list I read about in a Reddit thread. Supposedly, there’s a leaderboard out there with our names and how many points we have for suspicious behavior on the internet. Accumulating a lot of points in a short period of time will probably raise some flags and draw attention to yourself.

Do telemarketers have a similar sort of list of people to call? Targets with higher susceptibility ratings and people to ignore. I’d like to get onto the latter list.

Also, please stop using my email address to sign up for shit. Whoever you are. And no, you’re not going to be able to reset my gmail password or log in from another location because I have 2FA on. Sometimes I wish I signed up for my first gmail account with a different username.

Yes, I still do reply to spam mail. Feel free to send this guy some donations:

Out With The Old

Today I spent about an hour clearing random shit from my room. Since it’s the new year, I figured that I’d tidy up my room a bit. I went through my desk and four drawers, picking up and throwing away stuff that I didn’t need. Turns out I had a lot of shit that was lying around. Bills, cards, broken pens, pieces of paper, my old TESOL assignments and teaching material, books, batteries, 56k modems (I found two of them), broken cables, used organizers, and press kits from my short stint reviewing movies a few years ago.

Initially, I took the time to go through each item and realized that it would take too long, so I only took minor glances and what they were before deciding to throw them away. I had tons of rubbish, ended the night throwing away four bags of random shit.

I applied the following principle to efficiently clean my room: if it was something that I hadn’t touched in years and there was no reason to keep it, I threw it away. I mean, if I hadn’t needed the items in years and I didn’t even know they were lying around in my room, they were as good as missing and it will probably be unlikely that I’ll ever need them in my lifetime. Hopefully this won’t come to bite me in the ass in the future, but we’ll see.

I made some surprising discoveries – I found a lint roller and a portable vacuum cleaner. Two items that I had purchased in the last month. Could have saved myself some money if I had bothered looking for them (or remembered I had them in the first place). I also found my old cellphones – the Galaxy S2, Moto G and Redmi Note 3. I think they’re still semi-working, but I have no use for them. I’ll probably donate them or keep a couple around to mess with them.

Next up, time to go through my cupboards to find even more things to throw away.

I’m probably going to throw away my empty alcohol bottles because I don’t think it’s cool to keep them anymore. Also, they are a waste of space and a possible hazard. I’ve got tons of boxes that I kept because I thought they looked nice. They’ll be going too since I’m not going to move anywhere or resell those items they contained. I’m also going to go through my closet to get rid of clothes I never wear anymore. This should be fun!

I’m retiring Music Mondays because I feel like they’re a bit too samey (both the bands I recommend and the way I describe them). Monday posts are now going to be miscellaneous!

Time Internet Telemarketers

Earlier today I received a call from a Time Internet telemarketer. I’ve no idea how they received my phone number but they knew where I was living. He immediately started his pitch, telling me about faster speeds, lower prices bla bla bla. I told him I wasn’t interested. He asked how much I was paying for my current plan, I told him. He pitched again – cheaper, faster. I told him no. He hung up the phone. The whole interaction reminded me of my job in PR previously – I made a lot of calls to publications, sometimes cold, just to invite them to our events. I also had to call up other people for venue inquiries and bookings. It was probably one of the worst aspects of the job.

I always felt like I was being an annoyance. Personally because I’m not much of a phone person these days (I used to love speaking on the phone as a teenager, not anymore) and it felt so inefficient to me. You spend five to ten minutes on each phone call, with no guarantee of getting a positive answer. Compare that to sending an email or text message which takes less than a minute to send to everyone (after you’ve crafted it, of course) and it’s pretty much the same result. Interested media will reply/RSVP, uninterested ones will ignore it. On the plus side, you haven’t wasted half your day making calls to people who may or may not be in the office or attending another event/meeting. And you didn’t need to be verbally rejected, after all the effort you put in.

I don’t know if the media enjoyed receiving calls from PR people, but I sure as hell don’t enjoy receiving calls from telemarketers. I know these people are only doing their job and I shouldn’t hate them for it, but if there was a less annoying way to sell products to people. Like email or text messages? Hmm. Then again, people probably think that customer interaction is an important aspect of their company/product. I’d like to see the numbers for the success rates of telemarketers. If people are still doing it in 2017, I have a feeling it must be working somehow. If not, companies are just flushing money away hiring people for the job.

Personally, I’m okay with ads even though I use adblockers on my computer mostly because I hate pop ups and any possible malware risks. But the best form of advertising to me has always been recommendations by friends and endorsements by people who I care about i.e. esports players, teams, tournament sponsors, streamers. When I decide what product to purchase, they play a factor in my decisions. However, when it’s an endorsement by someone irrelevant (i,e. movie star or badminton player promoting anti-virus software) I immediately dismiss it. If someone I know has personally used something and recommended it to me, I think that is much more effective.

Like in the case for Time Internet – if my neighbor told me that he switched from Unifi to Time because it was cheaper and he could download Steam games much faster or his Twitch streams were 1080p with no lag, that would have probably pushed me over the edge into signing up for Time. Right now, Unifi works perfectly for me at home so I see no reason in switching. And it’s not something I can easily switch back to if I was unhappy with Time. Also, it would be a hassle setting up my home network again. Also, if more people switched to Time in my condominium, that should free up the congestion on Unifi’s lines and make life better for me, right? kek

Why I Don’t Vote

Disclaimer: most of you probably don’t agree with me and I don’t expect you to, but since I’ve been asked multiple times throughout my life about voting and politics, I’ve decided to put down my thoughts on the subject. I’m not expecting to change any minds and these are just my thoughts. If you think I’m ignorant or stupid for doing so, it’s okay, it’s your right. I don’t hate people who believe in voting, it’s your life and you’re allowed to do whatever you want with it. So am I.

I’m not a registered voter.
I’ve never registered and until they make it a crime to not vote, I don’t have any plans to do so.

Why?
I don’t care who wins. I have more interest in the winner of the next Dota 2 TI Arcana vote than whatever is going on in the political scene.

Stop telling me I need to do vote. I don’t.


Instead of worrying about who is going to control the fate of Malaysia, why not utilize your precious time and energy on how you can improve your own life or situation?
Selfish? Maybe, but it’s definitely going to be more effective than trying to swing the outcome of a public vote that isn’t even a guarantee.

Which brings me to the upcoming new year’s eve rally to protest the petrol price hike.

While you’re out there standing in the sun, think about what you can be doing with all that time instead. Perhaps preparing your contribution to your New Year’s Eve potluck you’re attending later?

I never understood the point of these rallies. What does it accomplish? Awareness? Oh, as if people don’t know prices of petrol are going up. I’m aware and I wasn’t even looking out for it.

How about working harder for a raise or getting another job to improve your economic situation? How about switching to a lower fuel consumption vehicle? How about commuting or walking? How about spending less on other things? How about anything instead of protesting? If you can afford petrol, pay for it. If you can’t then resort to other ways to get around. It’s that simple. I’m a smoker. Instead of joining a rally when the prices of cigarettes went up, I adapted to the situation. I could have quit smoking (I didn’t) but instead, I adjusted my budget accordingly. I also picked up vaping, which did cut down the amount of cigarettes that I smoked though it wasn’t the reason I started – it’s just something I enjoy.

But hey, you can go and protest if you want to.

“Don’t talk shit about things you know nothing about!”
Then stop asking me to get involved with something I don’t care about.
“But George, you’re just bending over and getting fucked by the government. We need a change!”
Oh, how sure are you that the new government is going to give you the change you want?
“We don’t know if we don’t try.”
Why not try working on your own life instead? I guarantee you that you’ll see more results instead of wasting time with politics. Spend your time doing what you enjoy or hone your skills in something that makes you money. It’s way more satisfying and you’ll accomplish more. Don’t sit around on your ass blaming the government for everything bad that happens.

You know why we’ve been able to survive for so long? It’s what humans beings do.
We’re adaptable. We can live in difficult conditions.
And to be honest with you, life in Malaysia is pretty damn good.

“George, you’re an immature, privileged, spoilt piece of shit. You don’t understand!”
Maybe I do. Maybe I don’t. Look, the people who are dependent on the government – they don’t want the current guys voted out. They want the hand outs and what not, good luck fighting that.
For the rest of us, the “oh-so-privileged” citizens of Malaysia – work to improve your own life. What’s stopping you from doing that?
If you’re too comfortable doing what you’re doing and expect things to magically get better, you’re out of luck. You’ll never strike gold if you don’t mine for it.

Be the change – in your own life.

The Stranger

It was just another night – or so I thought. Like everyone else, I liked to unwind at my favorite bar after a long day of work. I was minding my own business, reading tweets on my phone while taking sips of beer in between puffs of my cigarettes. “Heh,” I chuckled to myself after reading a joke about abortions. These people sure know how to make something cruel seem funny. It was a quarter to midnight, almost time for me to get home. I had work the next days after all.

The bar was almost empty save for a young couple seated at the other end of the room and the bartender standing behind the counter. 80s music was playing through the speakers at a low volume, while the TV was showing some football match I didn’t care about. Football was never that interesting to me, I found basketball to be a more entertaining sport. The faster pace and higher score line seemed much more exciting.

The door bell chimed and a man stepped in. A stranger to this part of town, I immediately thought. After drinking at this bar for the past ten years, I recognized everybody who visited. Everybody who frequented the place knew me as well. Apparently, so did this guy.

“Jimmy!” he turned to my direction and greeted me as soon as he entered.

I stared at him, puzzled. He was unfamiliar to me. He was pale skinned, dressed in black and had a bald head. He reminded me of a knock-off Lord Voldemort minus the fucked up nose, though he did have a creepy smile. The man walked towards me briskly and sat down opposite me.

“One bottle of Carlsberg!” he called out to the bartender.

The bartender nodded and headed to the fridge to get him his order.

“Do I know you?” I asked the stranger.

“Sure you do! It’s been a while though, and circumstances were very different. But I’m sure you don’t remember me, so I guess you don’t know me…” he trailed off.

I was confused. I was expected to know who he was, yet I didn’t. But somehow I felt that he was someone I should know. It was a curious feeling – like trying to explain a dream to your friend when you can’t remember every single detail even though it was so vivid moments ago. Or like trying to Google a song when all you have are the wrong lyrics and a tune you can’t sing for shit.

“Could you tell me who you are?”

“If I did, I’d have to kill you,” he replied, his expression suddenly serious. Then he broke into a smile, “jokes, jokes!”

I laughed nervously. Who was this guy? It was bothering me. I repeated myself.

“Who are you?”

“I’m death.”

“Death?”

“Did I stutter? Death.”

“What kind of name is that?”

The bartender brought the man’s drink over to our table and walked away.

“Well, it’s not really a name per se. It’s just what I am.” Death lifted the bottle of beer to his lips and took a gulp. “Ahhh.”

A chill ran down my spine. Somehow this creepy man in front of me started to feel familiar – but I still couldn’t remember why.

“Are you here to kill me?”

“Yes,” he laughed. “Oh dear. You really don’t remember?”

“No, I don’t. What should I be remembering?”

“How do I tell you this? You made a decision to be part of this world. You wanted to experience what it was like to live among mortals before you died. The devil granted you your wish and gave you some time to live on earth, exactly ten years ago. Also, we had to wipe your memory, for obvious reasons.”

“I only asked for ten years?”

“Well, the devil wants to take over heaven and can’t do that while you’re still alive, so he agreed to give you a maximum of ten years to live.”

“Huh. If I was god, then why was I going to die? Shouldn’t I be immortal?”

“Well, no. You’re impervious to death by ‘regular’ means, but the devil isn’t a regular person. Cosmic beings can kill each other. The devil managed to trick you and had you in his grasp.”

“This is all so strange,” I pondered. If I was a god, how could I be tricked? In fact, couldn’t I just have willed the devil out of existence? If I wanted to live on earth, I could have created a being that I could possess and control. It was strange that I’d give up my own life for something so trivial. It didn’t make any sense to me. Then again, for the past ten years I didn’t even know that I was a god. Come to think of it, I didn’t have memories of the time before I found myself living in this town.

“This is either a dream, or I’m tripping,” I said, breaking the silence.

“You are one funny fuck!” said Death. “Anyway, finish up your cigarette and your beer, it’s almost time.”

I sighed to myself. All the time spent on this planet had come to an end. I didn’t even get to go out of the country. I should have asked for more time. I finished my beer and put out my cigarette stub.

“Is it going to hurt?” I asked.

“Not really. The last bottle of beer you had was laced with poison. In a short while, you’re going to lose consciousness and you’ll cease to be alive.”

“Oh, that’s good to know.” Death was right. I began to feel drowsy and everything around me started to blur.

“Any last words you want attributed to you?”

I half-laughed as I slumped back into my seat. Like a drunk person who had too much to drink before passing out, I managed to mutter: “In the end everything must die, even gods.”


Writing Prompt from Reddit: Write a story with the last sentence being “In the end everything must die, even gods.”

Mechanical Me

I was thinking of ideas for a blog redesign today when I remembered what my original banner used to be and I realized – shit, I’ve actually been interested in keycaps for keyboards all this time without knowing it! Just kidding, I never had an interest in keycaps until recently, but I thought it was funny coincidence that my old banner used to look like this:

That was a vector trace of the keycaps of my old ass Microsoft keyboard (which was this, minus the wrist rest) that I used for over ten years. It took a long time for me to hop on the mechanical keyboard train because I always thought that they were too expensive and everything I could do on one I could already do with my existing keyboard.

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September Never Stays This Cold Where I Come From And You Know

So while going through bands I wanted to share about, I realized that I had yet to write a post about one of my favorite bands of all time. Taking Back Sunday – one of the first few bands that molded my music tastes to what it is right now. Without any hesitation, I can name my favorite song off each album and probably recite the lyrics to half of their discography. These guys have been monumental in influencing my music. Sure, I’m not as creative as Fred/John/Matt/Eddie when it comes to guitar but I try (haha). Their heart on sleeve lyrics were what sold me to this band, as well as their signature dual-vocals. Think Les Miserables with electric guitars. They’ve also inspired countless handles and blog titles worldwide. Teenage poetry for sure.

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Thoughts on the 25th

My favorite cafe, Doiffee, is closed today. Strange, because it used to be open all the time, even on public holidays. Which was what I liked about the place. I had somewhere to go for good coffee and quiet environment to do my writing. No biggie, I relocated to Encore today. A pretty good cafe as well, known for its desserts. The coffee here is good, the tables are a bit small if you plan to use a laptop with an external keyboard, which seems to be the only way I write these days. Typing on your laptop’s built-in keyboard is for plebs. Just kidding, it’s just much nicer to type on a proper keyboard.

A few years ago, I wasn’t really into mechanical keyboards. I felt that regular keyboards could do the job as long as you could type on them. Now, I own four of them and I’ve been investing in keycaps to replace the stock ones I have. I’m browsing a lot of /r/mechanicalkeyboards in my free time as well. It’s become quite a hobby, dressing up these pieces of plastic. I guess the next step would be ordering a kit and building a keyboard of my own. I’m not enthusiastic enough to do that just yet. Because it would mean I’d have to pick up soldering skills. Hah! But I’ve learned to never say never. Thanks Justin Bieber! Thanks Seng Yip!

Yesterday I flipped through the newspapers – the first time in a long time. There was nothing that really interested me, and I didn’t feel like I’ve been missing out all that much. I mean, whenever there’s big or important news, I’ll see it on my Facebook feed or on the Reddit front page anyway. That means anything unimportant has been filtered out, and I don’t have to waste time reading about it.

Obituaries are still a thing. I’ve always wondered why people announced the death of somebody. Doesn’t it just draw attention for money-grabbing relatives to crawl out of the woodwork, looking for a slice of the pie? Does anyone have so many relatives that it would be impossible to inform all of them via text or phone call? I guess people use obituaries as a way of celebrating someone’s life, however necessary that may be. Then again, I believe that money can be better spent instead of being used on afterlife amenities. Dead people really don’t give a shit what happens after they’re gone (they can’t).

Last night, I drove by a couple of churches that were counting down to Christmas. I wasn’t interested in joining the festivities. I haven’t been to church to worship for about ten years. The same amount of time I’ve been working. Coincidence? Not really. During my first job, I stopped going to church because I was working six-day weeks and wanted to rest on the seventh day. I started going less, and after a few months I realized that it made no difference to my life. Eventually, I stopped praying and even thinking about God. Then I discovered how funny religious jokes were and how liberating it was to not live my life by some arbitrary rules found in a really old book. I mean, we already have enough rules to live by in this country and at our workplaces – why bother adding another set to the mix?

The best part about this time of the year is the music that gets played in public places. I think we should have Christmas songs playing all year-long. It always makes shopping a pleasant experience. Also, Christmas songs are fun to sing along to.

The world stops running for a day today, at least for most of the world. And in a week’s time, it’ll be another break for the start of the new year.