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Monday, August 27, 2012

Zadie Smith


Recently dug up British author Zadie Smith's On Beauty, which I bought some years ago (she just published her latest book NW), and started reading it. Forgot what a great writer she is. Her narrative is vivid, fluid and engrossing; her sense of humour is so natural and biting. I remember reading her debut White Teeth (and The Autograph Man) and felt this sense of contemporary London-ness oozing out of the pages, which I love. I read that NW is about the British capital too but it is written in one of those disjointed styles, which really ain't my cuppa ... so maybe I will skip that.

Love the book cover


However, back to On Beauty, which is a great book (winner of Orange Prize for Fiction 2006) that pays tribute to E.M Forster's Howards End (Forster also happened to be one of my fav writers when I was confused teenager) ... Read half the book in several days and decided to slow down ... this is one of those books I don't wanna end (Forster's A Room with a View, Donna Tartt's The Secret History ...) cos the characters created are so real and you feel like you have made new friends. 

Talk about books, recently trying to resuscitate our three-year-old Kindle, which stopped connecting with the 3G network. Called up Amazon and their costumers services are absolutely top notched and their centre in the Philippines has sent me a brand new one after having exhausted all trouble-shooting options. What a great company, huh?!?

Yoga practice has slowed down a little lately mainly cos the studio schedules really sucks right now ... and all my fav instructors had either left or moved to other time slots. Am now "stuck" with one who is a great yogi but whose teaching is still a bit raw ... but he is helping me to -- well, not exactly overcome my physical limitations but -- to feel some of the poses that my physical limitations are barring me from feeling (as simple as Child's Pose!!) ... but will continue, even though it means I only have max three sessions a week, which is still not bad as that gives the body time to adjust. Pinched nerve in right neck/shoulder is playing up again so maybe have to visit chiropractor again ... sighhh, the joy of old age!!!

On the technology front ... it's all quite boring. I'm not anticipating the iPhone 5 or the mini iPad *yawn*; not interested in any of those Samsung Nexus/Galaxy variations and I'm quite pleased with the Nokia N8 that I'm refrained from buying those old/retro/refurbished/cheap Nokias that you can buy via ebay or Amazon. I still miss the 7280, 7600, 6820, 3220 ... Nokia really knew how to have FUN with their designs ... right now, all phones look exactly the same and it's REALLY boring.

On the Game front ... am quite done with Disgaea 3 but no new games available so am just going back to it whenever I am on a bus/train to kill time. Playstation offered me this new drive game ... had a fiddle but the control totally sucks (but it could be just me being really sucky with these kinds of games ...)

Think will return to reading ...  




Friday, August 17, 2012

A Reality Called Death

MSN has a story today about this young lad who has leukemia and had recorded his last video blog hours before he died ... I won't post it here cos it's quite upsetting ... but not so long ago, a local celebrity also posted a video of herself before she died of a terminal illness. 

Death is now brought to our computer screens, courtesy of modern IT and the growth of social media. Without saying it's right or wrong (don't think it's either), what this trend does is it makes us think more about the inevitable (oh, last posting I said end of the world was October, but maybe it's December...) and how people react and deal with this. Responses to the MSN clips, mostly from the US, are deeply religious, with ample of references to God. I take a more scientific approach to death; i.e. when something dies, it dies (oops, I am actually a Roman Catholic since I was both baptised and confirmed). I tend to think it's just a "return" to the state of nothing; after all, when I didn't exist, I was, well, nothing so we all kinda "been there" before. But I have to admit it's quite a overwhelming thought to think that there is no more tomorrow, no more friends and family, no more songs and movies ... just no more. But it's the reality and, as there is a Chinese saying that goes, "there is no banquet goes on lasts forever" ... and everything, everyone will come to an end one day.

That's what I find "staying in the presence" in my yoga practice very, well, practical in that, it reminds me to just enjoy the Now ... because that makes living that bit more "meaningful", at least, to myself. So when the time comes, before the brain switches itself off and that one final breath, I'll think, Ahh, that was one wild ride and it was fun.

Talk about Fun; have switched back to my Nexus cos Everyone seems to be using a Samsung phone these days (Galaxy S III) ... I just feel I'm not using the social media apps enough (my friends' Instagram photos are SO interesting!) ... so will have to take more "Now" snaps ...

Oh, just saw this "drop test" for the iPhone and S III (I own neither) on YouTube ... poor phones, brand new one minute and dead the next ...




Monday, August 13, 2012

A Miracle Called Life

Will the world end this October? Well, not that I'm concerned about that at all but was thinking that Earth has been around for such a long time it'd probably "ended" many times before (think Dinosaurs) ... It's so true that every day IS a miracle: that all (and every) conditions are just right to make Life, like, happen. But I don't think Life will go on forever though; our civilisation is nothing but a little, tiny, little speck on Earth timeline and, yes, something will happen and something else will "replace", just as humans replaced dinosaurs. So, enjoy every day. Also, I doubt I will witness the end of this civilisation ... simply cos I will end before then (!!) 

Friday, August 10, 2012

Grind Fest 4

100+ hours into the game and I have just one final boss left in the first playthrough (this game allows players to do at least, like, a dozen playthroughs for different endings). But to defeat this final boss I think I'll need to grind for another 100+ hours. No thanks. Really. That is the major difference between Disgaea 3: Absence of Detention and Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together. Disgaea really encourages grinding whereas TO the grind is optional. I guess I can just redo some of the maps for all the characters I have unlocked ... I have to say Disgaea has much, much better graphics and that's the only reason why I am still playing it.

Well, until I get my hands on the Limited Edition of the new Vita (White)... okay, I'm still thinking about it but the Vita I have has been playing up lately (need rebooting ...) 

On the yoga front, I took a class called Universal Yoga ... the instructor was quite tough but I did walk out at the end of the session feeling "opened" -- especially in the shoulders. But I was exhausted the following day and even the Yin Yang class was a challenge (pain everywhere! Mental note: do NOT take another class for at least a couple of days). This is the only challenging class I take these days ... maybe take one every month.

  

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Grind Fest 3

Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together vs Disgaea 3: Absence of Detention

Okay, 80 hours in and I think I've pretty out sussed Disgaea; sure, I could grind for another 8,000 hours but there really isn't much point to that unless I just wanna OHKO everything -- which is kinda dull (why have an attack that can take out 10 billion HP while 10,000 already does the trick?) 

What I find most fun about this game is not collecting all the top weapons and unlocking all the exclusive characters (as in TO: LUCT) but just enjoying the totally zany story of Mao the Overlord and Raspberyl the Delinquent Teacher (and all the side quests). There are simply too many classes/characters to unlock in Disgaea and not all of them are that great (bad base stats and special skills). I've unlocked about 20 now and I'm, like, no more please! 

Though there are all these side missions to be completed, I'm taking my sweet time doing those. As far as the grinding goes, since I have now unlocked the two major items that are vital to win most of the battles, the major challenge here is more about solving the various puzzles (battle maps). Some completionist gamers would replay the story mode or "cycle", like, a dozen times to unlock different endings but, unlike, TO, I don't see the point of doing that unlike you want to level up all the characters to Lvl 9,999.