What’s in a Name?

I am an ancient person. I existed before the internet was a thing.

You see, there was no need for usernames back then. Videogames were all offline. If there was multiplayer, it was on the same machine, and we all Player 1 or Player 2. We’d have the same character but skinned in a different color. Usually red or blue.

If I needed to enter my name for a high score, it would be my initials GW or GEO, depending on how many characters the game accepted. I remember it was a hassle to input W because not all games had a wrap-around for character inputs.

Then the internet came, and we had to pick a username for our dial-up account (Jaring). I’m not sure whose idea it was but ytwong was suggested by default – the initials of my Chinese name. Funny story, I’ve pronounced it wrong (still do) thanks to it being misspelled on my birth cert and every subsequent legal document containing it. Oh well.

Dial-up internet; Image credit

I didn’t think much of it, since that was just my dial-up username and I rarely used it. It was about a year later when Microsoft came to my school and did a presentation on Internet Explorer, Hotmail, and some other topics. We all left school that day with a CD-ROM that was chock-full of Microsoft goodies. The Internet Explorer installer, Comic Chat and I don’t remember what else.

Rushed home, popped it in, installed my new web browser, and one of my favorite chat programs til today – Comic Chat. Of course, I signed up for a Hotmail account. I wasn’t so adventurous and didn’t stray too far from my originally assigned name, geowongyt. A contraction of my first name, my last name, and my Chinese name initials.

Comic Chat; Image credit

It was easy to remember, I kept it and still do. It’s my longest-lasting email account, and I still use it today. Fun fact, I had the idea but never had the balls to register [email protected]. I thought about it many years ago and felt so clever, it’s probably taken by now, also it’s not very fitting for someone like me. Maybe one day, if I scrape up enough money to buy it off whoever owns it.

Then came the world of webchats. I was introduced to WBS and created an account on the site. I picked the name Gus091. Gus was taken, so I added 091 at the end, inspired by my favorite basketball player at that time, Dennis Rodman. This was before I became a Hawks fan and Mutombo stan, of course.

Writing about webchats, I remember running around this furry chat/game called Furcadia. I had no idea furries were a thing, I participated because my friend asked me to, and it looked like a fun RPG. Also, holy shit – the service is still up! I don’t remember the name I used on it, but it was probably Gus091. That name stuck around for a while.

Furcadia; Image credit

Then came the age of PC gaming. Back then, internet gaming wasn’t widespread yet – our home connections were too slow for that. However, we still had our fix of online gaming thanks to LAN. And the first game that I found myself playing was this first-person shooter called Quake II.

I needed a name for myself. Something that was badass. Gus091 was much too soft and not cool enough. I came up with a name I thought was clever, DeFragger. You see, kills in Quake were called frags. There was a Windows program called Disk Defragmenter which you ran occasionally to optimize the way your hard drive stored files and improved its performance. And that’s the history of my very first gaming handle. Not bad for a start, I suppose.

Windows 95 Disk Defragmenter; Image credit

DeFragger ended up being the gaming name I used for a long time. It wasn’t until college that I started playing Counter-Strike and I had some friends who changed their names all the time. It was at that point I realized that names didn’t need to have so much meaning and I let go of whatever loyalty I had to my username.

So off I went, using a name depending on my mood or whatever was the flavor of the month for me. From bands I enjoyed, mURDERDOLLS, names that would look funny on the kill feed, an old lady, to band member-inspired names, mUNKY_sLAYER, and many song-inspired names like old robot (not Young Robot because I’m old), old sausage (inspired by Old eLeVeN), and lyrics like MULTIPLE STAB WOUNDS and most recently, I'M CUMMING EVERYWHERE. Special shout out to Dank Soul, my first Dark Souls character name which I kept for all three games and Elden Ring.

Dank Soul

I’m sure there are many more I missed out in the list above, but the point is, names aren’t something I hold sacred or dear to me anymore. Like Shakespeare, I agree with the point that names have no intrinsic value and they’re merely used to identify people or objects. People spend way too much time thinking of names for things in their life.

What a way to segue into my admitting that I spent money last weekend to purchase goodnewsgeorge.com. Yes, you read that right, I parted with my money on something I deem worthless. Just kidding, it’s not worthless (also, I practically burn money buying cigarettes, see the pattern?), it’s a functioning URL, which points you to this blog – for now. Who knows what it’ll turn into in the future?

Anyway, it’s a domain name I’ve been eyeing for some time now. I’ve thought about retiring the blorgy.net domain (which is embarrassingly childish) for something I can say aloud without thinking twice. I have no idea if it’s going to fuck up the thousands of links I have throughout the past 15 years of this blog and any SEO scores I’ve built up (LOL) but we’ll cross that bridge when it comes. I still have a few months to go before I have to renew or release it.

So why, goodnewsgeorge? Why is this name so important that I needed to own the dot com? To be honest, I don’t even know why I’m attached to it. For one, it’s not even original.

It started when I listened to a band called Bad News Bears, who put out this catchy Hellogoodbye-esque tune:

I enjoyed the song so much, I looked up the band. Turned out their name was inspired by the 1976 film of the same name. I couldn’t use the name, obviously, so I decided to give it a twist. Replace Bears with George and coincidentally, Bad with Good to keep the XYX naming scheme.

Good News George was a fun alternative to Sunshine Boy (or was it Kid? I can’t remember), a nickname some college friends had given me because I smiled all the time. It was easy to remember, reflected my personality, and wasn’t offensive or cringey. Also, it was available on every social media platform I used, which made it a no-brainer to use.

Which got me thinking, what if 30 years down the line, when I’m dead and gone, I wonder if my goodnewsgeorge accounts and blog will still be around? Will the internet even function in the same way?

What if some kid thinks of the same username and tries to register it for himself? He’ll then stumble upon this blog on the Wayback Machine and learn the story about some old geezer who took the name first. And he’ll never be able to use it.

Sorry, goodnewsgeorge, I’ve got some bad news for you.

Situation Never What You Want It to Be

A couple of weeks ago, I noticed that my tailored pants were a little tight around the waist. So that night, I pulled out the weighing scale and checked myself. Eight-three kilograms. Fuck me.

It had been a while since I weighed myself and I remember it was around seventy-five. I had put on a significant amount of weight since then. It’s back to calorie counting again.

I recounted this story to my colleague, who replied with a quote that was shared with her.

You don’t get fat overnight.

What a simple but profound statement that got me thinking. Why do we expect to see results so quickly when we put in the effort to lose weight? It doesn’t make sense that you can undo months or years of bad habits by simply working out for a week.

Unless you’re made of LEGO pieces that you can remove from your body at will, it’s going to take effort and time. You don’t lose weight overnight either.

We can also apply that theory to other things in life. Like playing an instrument, a game, or a sport. You don’t get good overnight. It takes practice, patience, and knowledge.

I’m not good at guitar to begin with, so when I learn a new song, it’s going to take me weeks of consistent practice (assuming the song is at my skill level, to begin with) before I can play it. I might start by learning the intro, then the verses and choruses, and I break it into bits.

Eventually, I can play the whole song. The key is never giving up. It might not be obvious, but when something feels easier to do than it did yesterday, you’ve made progress. And you’ll continue to progress, as long as you’re not “doing it wrong”.

Like this quote from Denzel Washington in The Equaliser, “Progress, not perfection”. Rarely anybody expects perfection from you. And if they did, it’s usually for a good reason.

Many things in life are difficult to accomplish. That’s why we celebrate the people who make it look easy.

You don’t have to be as amazing as your idols, but as long as you’re better at something than you were the last time you checked, you’re allowed to be satisfied. Then strive to get better the next time.

It might take a while, but if you don’t give up, you’ll reach what you set out to achieve.

My pants are going to fit me fine again.

One Man’s Cringe Is Another Man’s Tattoo

I haven’t been in the mood to write anything new.

Every time I sat down to write, I told myself, “It’s okay if I don’t write today. I’ll get it down another day.”

The scenario repeated itself, again and again.

Until today.

I turned on my laptop, sat down with a cup of coffee, and did what I used to do when I wanted to be productive.

I launched WordPress, clicked on New Post, and forced myself to start typing. Something. Anything.

When you want to make yourself do something that seems monumental, break it down into little chunks. It becomes easier to accomplish.

You don’t need a clear idea of what you want to write. I mean, that’s great if you do. I didn’t and still don’t.

I scrolled through endless notes on my phone, no writing ideas. Tons of random lyrics, but nothing I could design a blog post around (without trying too hard).

It got me thinking. Who am I writing for?

This blog is my personal-public space (what an oxymoron). I don’t make a sen from my writing, in fact, I’m losing money paying for web hosting instead of using my free, already existing blogger account.

Who even reads this drivel?

Me, I guess. Does it matter who’s reading? Not really. It’s nice knowing that some people are entertained by this, but it’s not essential.

That’s just how art is as a hobby. I enjoy the process of creation. It doesn’t matter if other people didn’t enjoy my work. I had fun making it. That’s the best part.

While this blog started off as some sort of diary/journal, it evolved into a place for me to simply write.

Anything I wanted.

Rants? Check.

Thoughts? Check.

Dreams? Check.

Naruto x Demon Slayer hentai fan-fiction? Not yet.

The point is, there is no point.

Like an artist who is consistently drawing in sketchbooks to hone their craft, or a guitarist practicing the scales and strumming patterns – repetition is required to improving a skill.

The more you do something, the better you get. At least, that’s how practice works, in theory.

There are caveats like ensuring you have the correct technique so you’re not repeating the wrong methods and turning that into muscle memory (yes, looking at you, right hand (I use the same guitar strum pattern too much) what were you thinking?) but you get the gist.

By writing often, I hope to improve. It’s a skill essential to my current job and I’ve relied on it to make a living. I can’t be bad at it, can I?

By writing often, the process becomes easier. It may not seem like it, but this is practice for me. Each sentence I form helps future George be more confident about placing words onto a page.

By writing often, my audience gets more to read. All twelve of you, I know you’re out there. Thank you for reading.

By writing often, I understand the rules of writing better. That way I can create entertaining pieces that are informative at the same time. Edutainment, it’s called. My favorite way to learn.

By writing often, I can ramble on about not being able to write when I’m facing writer’s block. At least I’m putting words onto a page and not yelling into the void or keeping it to myself.

Is writer’s block real? Or is it some excuse that writers came up with so they didn’t have to admit they were lazy?

What I do know is writing makes me feel like I’m being productive. Even if I had spent the rest of the day loafing about. It’s a bit like negative bias but not really.

I’ve typed out six hundred words for this piece. Guess it’s time to call it a night. Don’t want it to drag on.

Perhaps next time I’ll practice my endings.

I Am A Two-Percenter

On Wednesday, I joined two-percent club. I loaded a Wikipedia page like I had done every other day and was hit with the following message:

To all our readers in Malaysia,

Please don’t scroll past this. This Wednesday we ask you to sustain Wikipedia. 98% of our readers don’t give; they simply look the other way. If you are an exceptional reader who has already donated, we sincerely thank you. If you donate just RM10 or whatever you can this Wednesday, Wikipedia could keep thriving for years. We ask you, humbly: please don’t scroll away. If Wikipedia has been useful to you, take a minute to donate RM10. Show the world that access to reliable, neutral information matters to you.

Thank you.

It wasn’t a strange message. I had seen similar ones in the past and never had trouble ignoring them. However, this time it felt different. Maybe because it blocked the top portion of the page and I had to scroll down to read the article.

Or maybe because this time I noticed they said “readers in Malaysia”, which made it feel personal even though I knew it wasn’t. Whatever it was, it triggered something within me. It made me think about how often I used Wikipedia.

I use Wikipedia very often. When I’m learning about a new topic, it’s one of the first websites I visit. I love that they have such detailed entries on whatever I happen to look up, especially when it comes to music and bands.

I love tracing the history of my favorite musicians and finding out which bands or side projects they’ve been a part of, so I can check out more music from them. From those articles, I discover even more related musicians to listen to.

Sure, these days we have Spotify’s “fans also like” and their curated playlists, but they don’t give any context to why I should listen to them. I enjoy discovering the lore of musicians, why they leave or get kicked out, and their ties to other musicians.

I also like knowing the names of obscure bands and releases so I can hunt them down on Soulseek or YouTube. Spotify doesn’t have every song out there, unfortunately. Wikipedia makes sure I know that.

Beyond music, I’ve used it for looking up GPUs, countries, languages, comics, books, and everything under the sun. I know Wikipedia isn’t just one person. The site is great because its contributors do a fantastic job of filling up and updating the pages.

It’s not a reliable source for academia due to its editable nature, but I’m not using it for such purposes. All I want to do is grasp certain concepts quickly, or look at information compiled in neat tables. I click on external links when I want to find out more.

Easily editable is a double-edged sword: it means that it’ll be constantly updated, unlike encyclopedias. On the other hand, people can choose to fill pages with nonsense. Fortunately, attempts to vandalize articles are usually spotted and fixed very quickly.

Wikipedia isn’t as “rabbit-holey” as TV Tropes, which I’m glad because if it was, I’d never get anything done. Then again, it can already be quite a time sink in its current form but that might just be me and my curious nature.

After donating, nothing changed. I received a thank you email from Maryana, Wikimedia Foundation’s CEO and I resumed using the site as normal. I didn’t gain any extra perks which would have been a nice touch, but I guess that goes against the spirit of donations.

I guess it feels good knowing I’m doing something to keep one of my most-used websites afloat, even though it has been running for over twenty years will continue doing so without my help.

I’m sure I underpaid Wikipedia but that’s okay, other people can pick up the slack. What am I, Mr. Moneybags?

These Old Eyes

The other day I learned how much my eyes deteriorated again. I had taken off my blinkers for funsies and realized the words on my laptop display were a mess. It was a strange feeling.

For the past decade, I have never had any issues using a laptop without glasses. Sure, the text would be slightly blurry but I could still get things done. This time it was different.

I couldn’t decipher the text in front of me, which meant I couldn’t work. My laptop was at the usual distance away from me, approximately fifty centimeters. Regular brightness, standard resolution, etcetera. The only variable was my lack of spectacles.

Here’s an approximation of what I saw:

One hundred percent true

I promptly put my vision apparatus back onto my nose and there they remained until the end of the day. Of course, I removed them in the shower. I, too, worry about rust.

The incident opened my eyes to how damaged they were. It made me think about how I take my eyesight for granted. My silly brown irises.

I used to tell myself I didn’t need my optical equipment to survive. I had no issues driving without them, provided I didn’t need to follow signboards. I could read books, use the computer and go about my daily life with naked corneas.

What caused this disaster? Was it age? Bad habits? All those years of swimming without goggles? Who knows. Probably a combination of everything, like everything else in life. What I do know is that it’s an affliction I’ll have to spend the rest of my existence with.

I used to tell people, and I still do, that I wear goggles because they give my appearance character. And I look weird without them. That hasn’t changed, but I have one more reason to add to the list: I enjoy people mistaking me for a famous activist I can’t see well enough.

Cultivated Loyalty

Whenever I need to pump gas into my car, I’d head to the nearest Shell station. And for the longest time, I didn’t have a reason why I chose that petrol station. Not that anybody asked. I didn’t know how to justify my loyalty to the brand.

I was like a soccer fan who couldn’t tell you why I supported a specific team. Even when any excuse would have sufficed because you didn’t know anything or care about the sport, you were just being polite trying to make conversation.

Just say you watch them because they have the hottest guys, or they can always pull crazy comebacks. Or they wear your favorite color. Or shoes. Anything! It doesn’t matter!

Why did I choose Shell? After all, fuel from all major brands is meant to be interchangeable without damaging your vehicle. There’s no particular reason to use one brand over another other than for convenience’s sake.

And so, the other day, on one of my introspective drives home, the answer came to me. My obsession with Shell started a long time ago. Back when I was a kid tasked with pumping petrol for my mom, while she waited in the car.

She would hand me the cash or credit card to pass to the attendant or cashier, I’d grab the pump (after making sure it wasn’t diesel), slot it into the fuel tank, and pull the trigger. If there was no lock, I’d hold it until I felt the pump stop.

I enjoyed the smell of petrol and it felt like such a grown-up thing to do. I enjoyed the chore. My mom got to relax in the car. It was a win-win situation.

Back then, we didn’t have any gas station loyalty. It was whichever happened to be on the way to our destination, we played no favorites. One day, that changed.

I don’t recall the exact point in time but it was at least 1998 because that was when BonusLink launched. My mom got herself a card and because Shell was the only petrol station they partnered with, she made sure that she would only get gas from there. She wanted to collect as many points as possible.

In addition to giving the cash or credit card to the staff, I also had to hand over a BonusLink card.

The only time when we didn’t pump Shell was when our fuel tank was reaching empty and had no other choice. Even then, we wouldn’t pump the car to full. We’d only get enough gas for the current trip and head back to Shell to top off the remainder. We had to maximize our points!

Not that it was a bad thing, mind you. If I owned a reward card for a particular gas station, I would have done the same thing.

For years I helped my mom pay for gas at Shell stations until I was old enough to drive. Then I was given a BonusLink card (which was under my mother’s account) to buy Shell fuel for my own car as well.

I don’t remember when we stopped using BonusLink but it didn’t matter. All those years of pumping gas at Shell stations had done a number on my brain. Until this day, I haven’t stopped filling my car at the McDonald’s-themed gas stop (it’s red and yellow too).

I have no incentive to fill my car at Shell. My family hasn’t used BonusLink for years. I still do it anyway.

Hearing anecdotes over the years about how Shell fuel is more efficient than other brands also reinforced the belief, in my already biased brain, that I’ve been making the right choice. I tell myself and other people that I’m not picky about where I pump gas, it doesn’t matter to me. But somehow, I always find a Shell to pull up into.

When I know there’s a Shell up ahead, my brain tells me to push the car a little further to get fuel from there instead of Petron, Caltex or Petronas. Or god forbid, BHP. I can’t even rationalize why their stations look so unappealing to me. Something about the orange and yellow, even though I normally like those colors.

Thank you, BonusLink. One day, I’ll break the cycle.

Coincidences, Attraction/Prediction

On Friday I was chatting with a colleague and the law of attraction came up. The topic ended with them saying, there are two magical outcomes if you believe this theory. You think so much about something that it happens because you attracted it or you’re a fortune-teller because you predicted something before it happens.

Despite the many anecdotes (some of them outrageous) I’ve listened to about this theory coming into play, I’ve always chalked them down to coincidence. It’s simple, really, thanks to our cognitive biases.

Think of all the times when you’ve really wanted something, thought about it, and never got it. There are way more of those incidents than successful ones. Since there are fewer successes, it’s easier to remember what they are.

Objectively speaking, there’s no winning at this ‘game’. Not everything you think about is going to come to fruition and things will happen in life — whether you think about them or not.

On the same night of the law of attraction conversation, two incidents happened. First, this video popped up on my YouTube feed:

For context, here’s what my typical feed looks like (screenshot from today):

It’s mostly gaming videos, music, and random crypto crash videos because I was on a Coffeezilla binge a few weeks ago. Nothing philosophical or pseudoscience related since it’s been a while since I’ve watched videos like that. A video on “the backwards law” was completely out of place.

Out of curiosity, I watched it and I’m glad I did. I’m no expert on such topics, but the video resonated with me. Since I agree with the points discussed in the video, my cognitive biases made me feel that it was informative (as opposed to useless).

When you try to fall asleep, your effort will keep you awake. Only when you stop trying, you’ll doze off… When we stop trying to be happy, we’ll be happy because there’s nothing we need beyond what is… Thus, the only way to have what we want is not to want it and that’s what the backwards law teaches us.

The backwards law teaches us not to be fooled by the idea that the pursuit of happiness leads to happiness. And with that knowledge, we’re able to enter that blissful state of ‘not wanting’ a bit more often.

Stop Trying to Get It And You’ll Have It | The Backwards Law

My key takeaway is the backwards law is the opposite of the law of attraction. Instead of focusing your thoughts on what you’re lacking (your wishes), make the most of what you currently have. I’ve been unconsciously practicing it. No wonder I’ve been told that I’m too apathetic or relaxed about everything around me.

Turns out I’m just zen.

As someone who’s all about the present (sure, I whine about the past in my lyrics but I’m a singer-songwriter) and never thinking about the future, this video validated my views on life in a more articulate manner.

Next, this video appeared on my feed the same night.

Guess what happened after that? I ate a curry puff for supper and had diarrhea that lasted until Saturday. Urgh.

What a coincidence, especially after watching a video about dirty water.

I was going to eat the bad curry puff that night. I could have skipped it, but I was hungry. Nobody told me it was going to make me suffer. That would have changed my mind about consuming it. Was it my own fault? Doesn’t matter.

Just like how I ruined my watch’s ability to function as a credit card when I updated the Samsung Pay plugin yesterday. Fuckin’ Sammy, please revert this change.

That’s a story for another day.

You Have A Lucky Face

“You have a lucky face,” said the stranger who approached me as I was walking out of Suria KLCC.

He was an Indian man, in his early thirties, dressed in a white shirt and jeans. I stared at him, puzzled.

“As if,” I thought to myself, adjusting my face mask while checking to make sure it was still on.

How would you know what my face looks like? You haven’t seen it before.

“Huh?” I said, pretending I didn’t understand him.

“Do you speak English?”

Fuck, I could have pretended not to speak English, I guess I’ll use that next time.

“Yeah”

“You have a lucky face.” As if saying it twice made a difference.

“It’s okay,” I waved him away before he could continue his next sentence. “I’m not interested.”

The man walked away, defeated.

I assumed it was a scam from the get-go and since learning my lesson, I’ve had no time for scammers. Nothing good ever comes from talking to strangers.

I shared the weird exchange with my friends and promptly forgot about it – until today. Seng Yip said the same thing happened to him in Publika this afernoon. No fucking way it wasn’t a scam.

I looked it up on the internet and found a bunch of results, including a blog post dating as far back as 2011, with a comment in 2017 about the same thing happening in KLCC. The biggest article I found was a news report from Australia about victims who fell for it.

This is how the con works: they approach you with that opening line to get your attention. They then talk to you, ask you questions, and deduce your answers by using mentalist tricks.

After using these theatrics to gain your trust, they pull out the big guns. They tell you that they need money for an orphanage back in India – preying on your sympathy. Or that you’ve got bad luck/health problems and if you give them money they’ll help you out (with their powers). If you refuse, you’ll die in a year. Sounds just as ridiculous as kickstarting a rap career, oh wait.

Seeing how it’s been going on for so long and is still around today, it must be a pretty successful tactic. It’s an elaborate scheme and requires a decent actor or conversationalist to pull off. Doubt it would work for uncharismatic people. While it takes a lot more effort than begging, it is actually scummy.

In this post-pandemic world where everyone has a face mask on, they’ll need to come up with better opening lines if they want to thrive. Perhaps something along the lines of, “Your hands are too big.”

“Too big for what?” you’ll ask.

“To hold deez nuts!” then they drop their trousers to show off their massive balls. While you stand there stunned, they grab your shit and run off. Not before pulling their pants up because they might trip otherwise.

Clown Feet

It’s been a while since I’ve had to wear shoes. Working from home for the past two years and rarely going into the office meant that my shower slippers were what I wore 99% of the time.

A few weeks ago, I put my shoes on because I had to visit the office. All seemed fine until midday when the soles of my shoes started falling apart. I had to hobble back to my car with half the class of the Mentos lady.

I figured, old shoes, untouched for a long time, they’re expected to deteriorate.

Fast forward a couple of weeks, I put on the nice dress shoes I hadn’t worn in years. The soles literally crumbled as I stepped out of my house onto the welcome mat. What the fuck was going on?

I looked it up. Basically, shoes are designed to crumble so they don’t clog up landfills when they have been disposed of. It’s called Hydrolysis. The materials in your shoes are broken down by water and this process is accelerated when they are kept in places where moisture can’t escape (like in a regular shoe cupboard). The solution to this is simple though it sounds counterproductive: wear your shoes frequently so they can dry out.

With two pairs destroyed in this manner (and one more falling apart, though I think it can be saved with shoe glue, will be bringing that to the cobbler), I decided to shop for new shoes.

My requirements were simple: footwear suitable for formal and casual occasions (so I can wear them more frequently), brown in color, and within my budget of RM500. I didn’t want to spend over a thousand bucks on something that is meant to be replaced.

Which led me to the most unfruitful shopping trip of my life. It wasn’t that I couldn’t find shoes that matched what I wanted – far from it, I’m not that picky. There were many pairs I could see myself wearing if only they came in the correct size.

I walked into almost every shoe shop in Mid Valley and Gardens (Aldo, Clarks, Isetan, Aeon, Metrojaya, Tomaz, Bata, Pedro) – none of them stocked shoes that fit my feet. Geox and Ecco were out of my budget but looking at online stores, it doesn’t seem like they have larger sizes either.

For context – I wear a range of sizes, from UK 11 to 13. Even though size 11 shoes are the correct length, they usually aren’t wide enough to be comfortable for me. I have to buy larger sizes to accommodate my extra-wide feet. This width isn’t standard across all brands and types, hence the variation in my shoe sizes.

Initially, I thought it was a budget thing – maybe cheaper brands don’t have so many sizes, nope. After talking to everyone at the different stores, they don’t stock shoes for people my size. Even Zeve Shoes, a store which a few friends recommended, told me they don’t stock larger sizes anymore – nobody bought them. They recommended I get custom-made shoes instead. How crazy is that?

For feet lovers

I thought, maybe it was an offline store issue. They have limited inventory space, so they can’t keep every single size in stock. Would you believe me if I said Zalora has the same issue?

I filtered men’s shoes > formal > brown > size 12 UK. I got a whole bunch of shoes, but almost every shoe I clicked on was out of stock for UK 12. The only brand that had shoes that size was called Kings Collection (3 out of 27 listings) and I had never heard of them before.

After some deliberation, I decided, fuck it, pulled the trigger, and purchased a pair. I never buy shoes online because of my need to try them out (also, I find the process of returning goods such a hassle) but seeing how I don’t have many options, I might as well go through it once. Let’s hope they fit properly first try.

If I can’t walk into one of Kuala Lumpur’s largest malls to pick up a pair of shoes that fit, something’s very wrong with this country – or me. Am I the only person with clown feet in Malaysia? How do other people deal with this?

Farewell Doiffee

Back in 2014

I’ve never frequented a place long enough for me to see it open, shut down, reopen, switch owners, and then close for good – until l discovered Doiffee. It was a tiny cafe in my neighborhood, run by a husband, wife, and their sons.

I remember my first visit – I was there with my sister and my nephew. I had my first taste of the shop’s signature beans, a cup of hot long black coffee. It became my go-to taste for years to come. From that night onwards, every cafe I visited led me to compare their long black against Doiffee’s. Doiffee always won.

It was the perfect blend of bitterness and thickness and perfectly priced. Since it was cheaper than coffee at western cafes everywhere, tasted better, and was a few minutes away from home, I had no reason to go anywhere else. I have yet to discover a cafe that uses the same beans.


Coffee and cigarettes

I spent many nights there after work, on weekends, and on public holidays. They used to open till 10 PM on weekdays and midnight on weekends. It was quiet, they had fast internet and plenty of seats. Perfect conditions to work or chill on my laptop. I’d even go there to read.

They were rarely closed. If I wasn’t anywhere else, I’d be at Doiffee, on my laptop while I sipped coffee and smoked cigarettes. Occasionally I’d order beers or food but I was mainly there for the coffee.

Unfortunately, times got tough for the cafe. Over the years they started losing customers. It wasn’t common for me to be one of their only customers for the whole day. I’m not sure why, perhaps it was all the other new places opening up in the neighborhood, or the location of the venue. I didn’t care that much. As long as they served the coffee I enjoyed, everything was alright. However, one customer does not keep a business afloat.

Then the pandemic hit. Doiffee had to close its doors. They tried doing deliveries for a bit but it wasn’t sustainable. I couldn’t visit the cafe for a long time. Many months passed without any change. Then one day, when I was in the area, I saw the shutters opened for the first time and wandered in. I met the new manager of the place and he told me that the previous owner had sold off the business. He was the new person in charge. They were making some renovations before they reopened it in a few weeks.

I was ecstatic. Doiffee was coming back! And it did. I resumed my trips to the cafe again, as soon as possible but one important thing had changed – they weren’t using the same beans anymore. Despite the fancy new food menu, their coffee was no longer the same. But that didn’t stop me from returning.

I spoke to one of the staff about the beans and he said I wasn’t the only one who noticed the different beans. I wasn’t the only customer who had brought it up. Eventually, he convinced the manager to switch back to the old signature beans. All was good in the world again.

At this point, traffic to the cafe was decent but it was still nowhere close to what it was in its heyday. Their closing time was now 6 PM but it was better than not being open at all. Things weren’t looking promising.

A few months after the reopening, the new owner pivoted the business. They were no longer interested in cafes and turned it into a Chinese restaurant. They renovated the place, gave it a new name, and changed the staff. That was the end of Doiffee. Though the food there was decent, it was no longer a place to get coffee or to sit and work at. The business was much better for them, but I no longer had a reason to work there.

I’m not sure what happened but a few months later, the Chinese restaurant closed down and turned into a western food place.


One day I’ll find a replacement

Since then I have found another haunt to frequent but I doubt anywhere will be able to replace Doiffee for me. The number of hours I’ve spent there – writing, working, finishing online courses, reading, performing, and chilling with friends – have made it a significant part of my life.

Although I wish it was still around for me to enjoy, a part of me is glad it’s gone. Like a dying animal put to rest – it no longer has to suffer. Would it be right to equate it to your favorite TV show canceled early? Or ending before it dragged on and turned into a mess?

I guess that’s how life is. Everything has an expiry date, we’re merely not privy to that info most of the time. That limited lifespan teaches you to appreciate them before they’re gone. You never know when your favorite cafe (or pet/person/place/thing etc) is going to disappear. Enjoy it while it lasts.