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Sunday, January 29, 2012

A Silent Scream

So, I was going down the Palace of the Dead one last time (using up ALL my palace guides), hoping to get three more guides, a dark 2-h sword (which forms the only armor set I don't have) and a couple of heavenly forks (from the two bosses) before finally getting my lightning spear for Ravness. But when I reached Floor 98, which was supposed to lead to Floors 101-115, nothing happened ***screammmm inside head***... it turned out I'd forgotten to check a scene before my descent into Hell (how stupid is THAT?) So I ended up having no palace guides left and just one heavenly fork ... which I can still use to get the lightning spear from a Divine General in San Bronsa ~ but that's it. Finito. I am NOT doing PotD without those guides. It just means I will never have the complete set of armor that slows enemies down, which is going to bug the hell out of (the completion-ist) me! 

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Google vs FB/Twitter etc

I've always liked Google (and Wikipedia). For years now (can't remember exactly how many), I've been using the Google search engine for both work and leisure, it's a service that is open to ALL, without the need to sign up. I admire that. After all, information should be free to all. It's very democratic. Facebook, on the other hand, you'd need to sign up to be part of its community. It's free to sign up but you have to sign up all the same. Most information generated from this community, useless or otherwise, is inaccessible to those who don't sign up. That's why I am not on Facebook, partly because I think I'd become an online stalker if I join but mostly because it has created this enclosed community that makes information exclusive. Twitter leans more towards Google in that while people have to sign up to use its service ~ to tweet ~ (which is fair enough) information on Twitter is available to all. You don't need to sign onto Twitter to read other people's tweets. 

Now, FB/Twitter and other social networks are accusing (well, this is how I understand it anyway) Google of favouring its Google+ contents in its search results; i.e. Google+ contents will come up First in a Google search. Hmm, let's see ... FB and Twitter contents still come up in the top ... just not the first result. I just don't see HOW these networks, especially FB, accuse Google of "being evil" while they are totally restrictive with their own contents (?) as pointed out by this poster (mantrik00) in The Guardian:

"It should be realised that the terms of Facebook and Twitter obviously restrict Google from displaying/using their data on its search results page. Using any other (out of the way) means to bypass their terms of agreement to include Facebook’s and Twitter’s data in the search results page would make Google vulnerable to legal challenges from these firms. After all, these firms are extracting fees via agreements with Microsoft for giving access to users data on their network to be used in Bing's search results. Remember Google use to list profiles & data from these sites earlier, but it discontinued the practice after the terms of Facebook and Twitter became restrictive. (Now that they are facing the heat of competition from Google they are using unofficial hacks to get into the search listings. They should change their terms of agreement).

"Facebook, Please don't preach. Google is the best we have in a world of evil. Facebook, for exampe, has close to 1 billion locked-in users who cannot easily take out their data and move to competitors. All of Google's services on the other hand provide unprecedented control for the user to opt in, opt out, and move to other competitors with their data."

I agree.

A Controversy (2)

The controversy over "What is Yoga?" rages on (http://india.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/01/17/the-great-yoga-divide/?ref=yoga) and it makes me think more about my own approach to yoga. What is it to me? A form of exercise? A form of meditation? A form of escapism? A form of lifestyle? The last one is interesting as it encompasses every aspect of my living: how I eat, how I work, how I make choices etc. 

I think, for me, it did start off as a form of exercise: i.e. okay, I am gonna bend a little lower/deeper in the next class. Even to this day, has it changed my diet? Not really. I might have eaten more greens/salads but there hasn't been any fundamental changes in that. Has it changed the way I live? Other than having a regular practice (I have a class @ pm today, for instance), I still play my Tactics Ogre and go around the city looking at the latest phone models. I still download TV shows and films to watch. I still work. Come to think of it, my life is extraordinarily ordinary and yoga hasn't really changed that in any way. 

But, at the same time, it HAS changed me and I'm still trying to put my finger on exactly what it is that has made these changes (and what are these changes). Something (I don't even know how to describe it) has affected my attitude towards life (one of the changes). Something has sharpened my sense of awareness ... of myself, of people around me, of the world, of life. And I think that is why yoga is beyond exercising for me now. I'm not sure whether it's good, or bad, (or even if it matters) to be more aware but all I know is I've simply become more aware (and even sensitive) towards people/things/events around me as well as myself.

At the end of the day, yoga is a tool. How people choose to use that tool is entirely up to them and what they/we get out of using this tool will be as diverse/different as the people who use it. Take a toothbrush for an example. For most people, it's a good and useful tool to clean teeth. But some people might use it for other things like polishing metal or, I know, combing a cat. You can also use it to jab yourself in the eye but most of us wouldn't do that -- even if someone asks us to - for obvious reasons. So to say practising yoga, especially in its "westernised" form, is dangerous doesn't quite make sense. It really largely depends on how it is taught and practised. Yoga itself is not inherently harmful. 

A Warrior Track




Okay, this is my fav TO track right now. The theme kinda switches between major and minor keys, the West and the East. Love it. Wouldn't it be great to yoga to this track (doing all the Warrior poses...)


Saturday, January 21, 2012

OCD

Honestly, Tactics Ogre is bringing out the OCD in me. My latest mission is to have THE perfect save of Chapter Four so I can replay over and over and over and over and over again the various side quests. The thing is that this morning I managed to locked myself out of the Pirate Graveyard so I REDID a big chunk of Chapter Four just to unlock it ... and may I add I already played this particular side quest once ... but I really like to re-live this particular part of story and dialogues again and again and again ...

Did I say I really like this game?

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

A (Minor) Injury

Sometimes, things just ... happen.

I was in a hot yoga class (great in this cold climate) last night, partly to work/exercise my right hip. I think I've identified the source of my pain that I can feel only when I'm stretching my right leg; it's those (tight) hamstrings again. But this time, the pain comes from closer to the groin (so maybe it the upper segment of the muscles that got pulled). So, for now, I'm being extremely cautious in doing stretchy poses like the Triangle. In fact, I am avoiding Warrior 3, Half Moon and Vertical Split because these poses - basically standing on just one leg - place a lot of stress on the standing leg/hamstring muscles as well as my lower back ... my "core" alone is just not strong enough to support the rest of my body. However, that wasn't my problem last night (in fact, my hamstrings seemed to have loosen up a little in the hot room).

The problem was me getting out of a pose too quickly. I was doing the dancer's pose with a twist (literally!) and when I was done, I kinda collapse onto the mat and on my way down I think I turned something (neck?) too quickly and I could feel pain shooting up shoulder/neck region. Uh-oh. The pain kinda lingered for awhile before it took up residence in my right shoulder. So on top of my hamstring and neck (on the left where I had the pinched nerve), there is now also pain in my right upper shoulder.

I think I will/need to stay off the mat for a week ...

Sunday, January 15, 2012

A Controversy

I have to say when I first saw The New York Times article titled "How Yoga Can Wreck Your Body" (
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/08/magazine/how-yoga-can-wreck-your-body.html?_r=1&ref=yoga) I was immediately intrigued. But how? I thought. Having read it, I sent it onto a couple of my yoga friends. Always better than safe than sorry, I told them. That was last week. Today, I read in The Guardian another piece in response to the NYT piece (apparently the yoga "community" ~ or US$5billion industry ~ in mainly the US is up in arms, saying the article was a piece of sensational journalism). My take on this is that you HAVE to listen to your body (sometimes, it's easier said than done). 

Today, for instance, I am taking a break as my body is saying: "I want some rest". Either due to the recent damp/chilly weather or the way I've been sleeping, a nerve (?) that runs from my upper back (close to the left shoulder blade) up to my neck is a bit sore (but only when I turn my head at a certain angle). My right leg/hip area has also been tight. So, since last week, I've been taking the more therapeutic classes than, say, the power/flow classes that I usually go to. The neck pain definitely has nothing to do my yoga practice but I'm sure if I'm not careful, I can make it worse by doing some of the poses. 

That way, I think yoga CAN be dangerous ~ just like any other sports, really. The most important thing is not to push and to acknowledge my own (physical) limitations. Hence I have now come to terms with my tight hips/knees; no matter what I do, they are not going to suddenly become loose and flexible (well, unless I "break" them I guess). To forcefully "make them more flexible" will only lead to injuries. Likewise, there are more challenges poses that are for really experienced yogis. To attempt them without thoughts or preparation is just asking for trouble. And I guess that is what The Guardian is saying in their article: http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2012/jan/14/yoga-can-damage-body-row

A Cute Little Tune


Heard this on the radio this morning ... it's the original of a Cantonese version, which I'd always liked...


Gary Lewis and The Playboys' Save Your Heart for Me (1965)


Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Harry Potter (For A Few Hours)

This is distressing. Now that I'd obtained the final spell that I'd wanted for my Tactics Ogre game -- I replayed most of the Law route just for that -- I really feel I need to move on. So, I bought Harry Potter Years 5-7 (for PSP), hoping that the new purchase'd get me off TO (did I sound like a drug addict just now?) This is the Lego version of the HP titles and, having played its version of the Indiana Jones titles, which was quite fun, I thought I'd give this a go. But no. This game truly is just for kiddies. All you need to do is go around smashing things up and that's about it. Zzzz. So, naturally, I returned to TO and ... before you can say "let us cling together" I am replaying the Chaos route, to recruit the notorious Cressida. The thing is, I can now avoid the "death match" (killing my own troupe) as part of the condition in recruiting this necromancer because there is a way around that in a replay.

So ... it's on with the game!!!

Just returned from my Yin class this evening. Two things: a nerve that runs from my (upper) back (near the right shoulder blade) up to my neck is hurting, and something else down my right leg (nerve? tendon? muscle? Am not sure) is also a bit sore too. I don't think I did anything to injure myself but after I came across this New York Times article on yoga injuries yesterday I'm not taking any chances and am now paying extra attention when practising. Some of the cases cited in this piece is Quite alarming.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/08/magazine/how-yoga-can-wreck-your-body.html?_r=1&ref=yoga

Friday, January 6, 2012

Some More Glass Pumpkins

I canNOT believe I'm back farming these bloody glass pumpkins in the Palace of the Dead ~ again!!! This time, it's for those palace guides so I can skip 70+ floors to get a couple of equipment that I'd missed in my last, err, THREE+ runs. Other than that, I just completed my first run of the San Bronsa Ruins, where I got ALL the high-level spells (Heavenly Judge I + II, Satrfall I + II, wow) ... my Rudlum (Lich) is now super strong. But it was when I tested the Gnome II earth spell with Sherri that my jaw dropped. She can now practically wipe out half the map with this spell ... and I cannot WAIT to test it out again against those phantom dragons and golems in the PotD.

Needless to say, I'm still Tactics Ogre-ing ... I even dream about my fully-equipped team, hacking and slashing their way through to victory ...

Hours later ...

Apparently this original image is too sexy for the
US so those legs are all covered up in the North
American release

And I find myself re-playing (I know...) the Law route because apparently there is this Dark spell to be had in Chapter 4, which I missed last time. Great opportunity to level up my new ninjas -- Folcurt and Jeunan, both are extremely mobile. I really would like to have a rogue class on my team but it just didn't work with Folcurt (hence turning him into a double sword wielding ninja). My white knights will also be levelled up, though am leaving my Divine Knight for now; she is just not very practical (she has a great sprite though).