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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Last Posting Before 2014



Yes! I've made it! Year 2013 shall not go down in my blogging history as the laziest. But I have to say this has been a close one (well, statistically by one entry). For some reasons I haven't been blogging as much as I should. Even though, ironically, and thanks to Spambot, "Monday Morning with ..." has, allegedly, recorded quite a lot of eyeballs lately (this month has been pretty astonishing!). *snigger* who cares, really? I just love blogging cos it lets me vent and *** bad language alert *** it lets me get my own back on some moronic blogger retard (new word learnt this year: "fucktard") who talks shit (about yours truly). Hey, fucktard, just because you blog, it doesn't mean 1) you can write or 2) have an opinion, let along an intelligent/valid one, or 3) you can slag off other people and think you can get away with it. But hey, free world/society, so whatever ... 

Anyway, I'm looking forward to 2014. I'm not going to make any New Year resolutions just yet, though high on the list, I'm sure, will be to up my tolerance level of fucktards ... I swear, they are taking over the world.

Happy New Year!

Two More Entries ...

First of which will be about my yoga practice. The Hatha class I took several days ago was surprisingly effective despite it being quite a gentle session. We did do some core exercises, which left my core, well, sore today. Maybe it's just that I'm unfit (!?) Anyway, cos my hip flexors are also feeling a bit sore I was a bit worried that I might have torn my hamstrings (again) ... but given I haven't been practising the (half) split I doubt they are torn ... and sure enough, they aren't (phew) ... so maybe I just need some rest before this weekend's practice (which promises to be extremely challenging...)

Oh, did I mention that I've decided to take teacher's training next year? Not that I really want to teach but I'm just curious what that entails and whether it would help me with my practice. Today I looked into the mirror (something that I really seldom do) when doing a wide leg forward bend, and I noticed my lower back/spine instead of "folding", it was curving (which didn't look right). I had to lift myself up to stretch my spine (which is more the point of the pose). But my hips just don't rotate/tilt forward far enough to allow my lower back to fold, that coupled with my tight hamstrings ... I'm wondering if my inflexibility will be a major issue in advancing in my yoga learning & practice??

Monday, December 30, 2013

Spambot VampireStat

I mean, how stupid is that? Apparently this vampire thing has been leeching onto my blog ~ no wonder it has recorded some spectacular spike in its page-view figures lately (!) But you know what? I don't really care cos it makes this blog looks, like, popular! The only thing is, DO NOT click on its link or else, it's, like, inviting it into your house. Sheer horror. Oh, and I just found this in some forum talking about these spambot:

Kayla G: "They don't gain anything. From what I've read, they are bumping your blog view count simply because they want to make you curious about them. If you see that something called vampirestat has read your blog 40 times in one day, you might be curious about going to their website through their link on your stats page. Then, when you get there, viruses download themselves onto your computer and they can either control it or simply destroy it. They are really there just to cause trouble. Some people are just mean."

Agree. Well, suck it VampireStat, I ain't gonna click on your stupid link but thanks for boasting my page-views all the same!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

More on Final Fantasy X-2 HD (Part Two)

Have been making some cool progress in this fun game and have just found out how the "Coliseum" works. One of the many appeals of this game is that it's just so ... vast! Other than the main story (split into, like, five chapters) there is tonnes of side-quests and missions to do and battles to fight. I'm sure there is more to be discovered so more reports later.

Meanwhile, I think its theme tune is beautiful...


PS yes, with two more days to go, I think I'll have enough blog entries this year to make 2013 not the laziest in its four-year history ...    

The Hobbit

Hello, dinner

I do wonder who actually like this film series/franchise other than the people who made it (I don't know, maybe not even them). Just watched The Desolation of Smaug and thought, what a lot of bollocks it was. Did I just spend, like, almost three hours watching a bunch of bearded men (dwarfs) looking and acting like a bunch of idiots? But they ARE (!!!) Pray tell, where is the story? It was SO tedious. Basically the movie version of this J.R.R. Tolkien classic is, like, one very, very, very long (and did I say tedious???) tale of this, what, talking dragon that, in the first instalment, goes to sleep; then in the second, wakes up; then ~ and I'm ONLY guessing here, folks ~ in the final, dies. Like, wtf. I'd rather watch paint dry than sitting through this literally very dark tale of nothingness (if I only knew!) If I had the patience, I might read the book, which am sure is more interesting cos I probably have a more vivid imagination than the director. Actually, did I imagine it or the dragon Smaug (sounding terribly regal and English?!) became, like, Disney-fied at some point? Oh look, there is a slight tilt in the mouth corner that suggests it might be, like, smirking (in that wicked and English sort of way)? 

There are, of course, other sub-plots peppered throughout the epic but they kinda got lost and drown in the ... boredom of it all. Gandalf the Grey kinda drifts in and out of the narrative like a warning bell, ringing caution and all the dread to come ~ the same dread that he himself cannot escape as he gets consumed by this ... eye (or is it something, more, err, sinister and even sexual???) The romance is kinda moving ~ and interesting ~ as interracial relationship obviously gets the thumbs up here, even if it's between a messy (but unusually tall?) dwarf and a clean and no doubt gorgeous-smelling she-elf.    

Maybe The Desolation of Smaug suffers from what is known as the middle-child syndrome: the second of a trilogy, the-one-that-precedes-the-final-movie, is always plain and boring because the filmmaker saves the best for the last. (We all remember the Harry Potter movie that precedes the last one, in which Potter and his mates go on this terribly whingy, yawny and long camping trip that it threatens to kill he-who-must-not-be-named before his number is up...) 

At the end of Desolation, Bilbo the protagonist asked ominously: "What have we done?" Yes, I wonder that too; howabout: just wasted three hours of people's life?

Anyway, I hope the last Hobbit movie, There and Back Again, is more interesting and, yeah, kill that bloody gold-proof dragon already. 

Saturday, December 28, 2013

More on Final Fantasy X-2 HD

This is what I just posted on a game forum re: my first impression of the game:

"Okay, so far so good!! Taking a bit of getting used to deciphering the language but it isn't that big a deal (sure, it requires extra effort but it's worth it!).The quality is quite superb; since I've also been looking at YouTube clips of the PS2 gameplay, I'm sure SE'd tweaked the graphics and made imrprovements. I'm surprised how simple the command execution is (just like FFIV, which uses the same ATB system). The fun part is, of course, the "dresspheres" but have yet to work out exactly how the garment grid and dressphere work together ... so will continue to explore that (with help from the English walkthroughs!)

Compared with, like, type 0, this is FF on saccharin; the tone is light and it's very bubble-gummy (if not girly), which is fine as it feels like a breath of fresh air. Can't wait to learn more about the unique gameplay features!

One thing I'm quite disappointed though, is that the game doesn't really make use of the Vita (hmm, if there are features that require the use of the touchscreen, I haven't discovered them yet!) Also, to navigate around, all you need is the left joystick so basically I don't get a 360-degree view of the enviro, which sucks BIG time cos what's the point of porting it to the Vita if they are not gonna exploit its capabilities (??)"

It's all Japanese to me
Abroad Celsius
Yuna ~ so tiny in front of a save point

Friday, December 27, 2013

Yuna ~ from Final Fantasy X-2 HD


Yuna in FF X-2
O.M.G!!! The wait is over! Final Fantasy X-2 HD was released last night (well, on Boxing Day) and I don't care if it's in Japanese (the localised version will not be available until March). I Just. Want. It. Since this is a remake, it already has a walkthrough in English so at least I can get all the basic info there. But first, I didn't even know the difference between Final Fantasy X and X-2 (FF X HD was also released last night). Since I've played Dissidia before, I vaguely know FF X features Tidus and Yuna, while the latter is very popular among FF fans, not the same can said about her boyfriend who comes across as a complete brat. Anyway, I chose X-2 simply because I love Yuna (her being a Summoner) ... though, to my dismay, after I started downloading the game from PSN, I realised there is NO summoning in X-2. The game, however, does have, apparently, a fantastic gameplay, which I shall be testing tonight :o) The game did take some 12 hours to download (stupid PS Vita paused in the middle of the night) so didn't have a chance to start playing it until after work (then I had to re-install Final Fantasy IV the Complete Collection onto the Vita cos, me being totally anal, I want all my FF games on the same memory stick).  

Anyway, it was well worth waiting for. The graphics of FF X-2 is really good and I love the turn-based battle system and, finally, I'm getting the PS console experience on my handheld. The only thing is, of course, the language ... but apparently this game is not exactly cerebrally challenging so I should be okay. 

Okay, off to replay the opening sequence (I missed some items at the beginning so I wanna go back and get them!!!) 

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

What Really Goes on on a Yoga Teacher's Mind (?)

By an "anonymous" yogi, published in The Guardian earlier this month:

"The typical image of a yoga teacher is a vegan, teetotal Buddhist, but I'm partial to a kebab after the pub. I'm also supposed to be a "conduit for healing", but my mind is often anywhere but my class. I'm usually picturing the ice-cream I'm going to devour when I get home. I struggle with the po-faced earnestness of my role: it's hard to "teach from the heart" when I'm sniggering about what they all look like with their bums in the air. Sometimes I ask them to go into particularly amusing positions, such as the camel and the lion, just for my own entertainment.

My students aren't much better: they squabble about their favourite spots and compare each other's outfits like a bunch of children. The room is often "alive with energy", but it isn't due to the yoga, more that they're eyeing up the attractive bloke who always takes off his T-shirt at the first opportunity.
Some of my students' choices make me boggle. Take the man who insists on wearing micro-shorts: it's a rare week when he doesn't expose more than his inner serenity. It's hard to open your heart to love with that in your peripheral vision.

As the class warms up, a distinctive aroma begins to brew. Alas, it is not coffee. It's sweat. Every class has a stinker; mine doesn't believe in deodorant. "Tolerance,", I think to myself, "forgiveness." I imagine it oozing over me like warm syrup. But that just takes me back to the chocolate sauce I'm going to drizzle on my ice-cream tonight."

Eyes Closed (2)

Rather interestingly (and coincidentally), today's special Christmas yoga class was all about striking the right balance -- with our eyes closed. Balancing between breathing in and breathing out, between breaths and movements, between left and right, between front and back, between up and down, between tension and relaxation, between the physical and the metaphysical. And one way to actually find that balance is not with the eyes opened but closed. That way you become so much more focused (thanks YTSL for your interesting comment & sharing in my last entry on this topic!!) so you can "see" yourself much better: Am I breathing too hastily? Am I being too tensed up? Am I leaning on my side and placing unnecessary stress on it? Am I striking the right balance in my life? Am I too good without being a little bad (it OKAY to be bad!) Is there too much Yin and not enough Yang in my life ...

Balancing Life on the Head ...

The list goes on. However, closing the eyes also, sometimes, induces fear. This may sound really weird but I've recently developed this "phobia" in my home's shower cubicle because, for some reason, I think the boiler (which is actually physically inside the shower cubicle) is going to explode, killing me inside. The thing is, when my eyes are open, things are okay, but the second my eyes are closed, I imagine there a bang so loud and devastating that it feels SO real I have to open my eyes. In fact, I also developed this fear of flying some years ago that's kinda weird, given I've been "flying" before my teens. Anyway, this may be something I can work on in 2014 ... conquering imagined fears...   

Another Quick Entry

I'm trying to cram in as many blog entries as possible before end of 2013 ... so this year doesn't go down in history as my laziest? *lol* 

One thing I have noticed lately is that this blog has been getting more (regular) page views than before (which is kinda nice given I don't really write for a particular audience other than myself). But I do wonder which particular topic generates more interest (I know anything "medical" will get lots of hits from the health-obsessed US... Russians are more into tech and games, I think). Anyway, I'd like to think that I can share my experience -- whether in gaming, gadget-ing or yoga -- with others (and vice versa) so that, hopefully, we are all, like, better informed.

I'm all for information sharing (suck it, Facebook!) cos knowledge is, indeed, extremely empowering. Like, if I Google for info, other people's Blog entries (containing that specific piece of info that I'm searching for) will show up, without the need of me signing up in order to access that info (did I say Facebook sucks?). I don't mind signing up for Google-related services, such as Gmail, for instance, because it IS a service but for social networking sites, I think information should be free and made available whatever and whenever. Granted, I think nothing is really private or personal on Web-land these days (oh yes, I was rather amused that the person I play online games with could well be a spy ~ so thank you, Mr Snowden for confirming our suspicion!), still it's the principle, isn't it?

Off to a holiday special yoga class this afternoon for some inner nurturing ... I need that before returning to work after a five-day break! Merry Christmas everyone!




Tuesday, December 24, 2013

A Moment of Reflection (2)


Sony Xperia Z that reminds me of Cadbury
chocolate bars 
What can I/ anyone say about the latest phone releases (?!?) Nothing much really. Where I am people use either the iPhone (5S) or Samsung (Galaxy S4 or Note 3). How boring is that?!? Remember those days when Nokia (yes, Nokia ...) produced all these handsets with groovy designs? Now everything just looks the same. Not one to follow trends, I still use a Blackberry 9900 (yes, how trend-bucking is that, right?!), Sony Xperia Z and maybe either Nokia 8 or 7280 (yes!) or the DoCoMo F-02D (Japanese phone). Since I've just bought a T-Mobile (Sharp) Sidekick LX2009 on eBay (which I doubt will be here in time for Christmas ~ boo-hoo), I was thinking maybe I should now sell the DoCoMo and 7280 but neither have any market value (so will have to just, yeah, give it to the shop where I trade in my old phones). I might as well just keep them (but the problem with old phones is that once you shelve them away, they die...) 

Good news is, I've just recently changed the trackpad on my Blackberry and it totally fixed the (extremely) annoying problem it had: the cursor would go bonkers when the phone is exposed to direct sunlight (I used to refer to my 9900 as a vampire phone). Now I think/hope I can use it for another year or two before it retires. Well, who knows what fate awaits for Research in Motion (RIM) that manufactures the Blackberry... So, other than that, think I will continue to use these (six!!!) phones in the coming year.

(Update: the Sidekick LX 2009 - beautiful - just arrived so decided to let go of the DoCoMo and 7280 cos they have started to playing up ... so am down to four phones now ~ phew!!)

Patrick Creelman in
parivrtta janu sirsasana

Last night I actually dreamed that I could do this amazing leg-behind-head yoga pose ~ can't remember exactly which one (parivrtta janu sirsasana, perhaps?) ~ but yeah, exactly, only in my dreams!!! I have made much progress this year despite the fact I'd practised fewer hours. I've come to believe that, like most good things in life, too much of yoga is actually not that great for the body. I still remember I used to have this quite subtle knee pain during the first few years of my practice. My issue being that I have v tight hamstrings (thanks to all that cycling I did during my youth!) and equally tight hips that, when I tried to do certain poses (esp those that place A LOT of stress on the hips), instead of my hips taking the pressure (through rotation or any other pressure-releasing movements), my knees (!) end up taking ALL the strain ... But as I become a lot more mindful with my practice -- something that I cannot over emphasise when I share my yoga practice with my friends -- I realise there are poses that I simply cannot do and turn to modifications (something that yogi David Swenson had encouraged us to do -- even with Ashtanga). I also have managed to rein in that bouncy little monkey in my mind ... that brief (but wonderful) experience I had during a morning meditation session in Koh Samui this summer has been most inspiring.

And I think with all that I began to make progress. In the coming year, I'm hoping to take a 200-hour teacher training course. I think will see if yogi Patrick Creelman will be heading any programmes where I live cos I think he is one of the best and most recognised teachers in town (I'm getting used to his wild Canadian accent...) I think I'm now ready to take my practice to another level...

A Moment of Reflection (1)

It's that time of the year again when I look back and ... realise I haven't been blogging as much as I should! The number of entries this year has been the lowest yet (only 54 including this) as I celebrate its fourth anniversary... I guess I just have been quite busy this year (esp October ~ zero entry)! But I'm happy to see this blog is now regularly visited ... by people looking for tips on yoga practice, gaming and (sometimes gadgets). 

And THIS is a bumper entry (in two parts)!!!


Have to say ever since I bought the PS Vita (last March?), I've been gaming A LOT more. Years and years ago (we are talking about Pokemon Ruby Edition here!) I was just a moderate gamer, playing mainly turn-based (card) games like Pokemon and Yu-Gi-Oh (which I still love). Have never been really into hack and slash. Then I started playing the Ultimate Marvel Alliance games (first one still the best) on the PSP before moving onto my first ever (life-changing) Final Fantasy game (by Square Enix). With that game I had to confront my inability to coordinate between, like, my brain and my fingers. It really took a lot of practice for me to learn different sequences of moves, how to execute them and with precise timing (am still crap at that though)... that was followed by Dissidia (played this series for more than two years, I am sure) and Third Birthday (with the notorious bonus shower scene), which was basically a shooters game (not my cuppa) before I moved to PS Vita.

Persona 4

PS Vita has fantastic graphics/screen resolution, which is why I love playing on it so much. In terms of gaming experience, I think my favourite games this year (and last?) will have to be Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling TogetherPersona 4 the Golden (fantastic OST!) and Final Fantasy Type-0... all of which I played right through to post game, with Type-0 the only one I still have to "complete" (I really cannot grind) ... talk about grinding, Disgaea 3: Absence of Detention was also fun but to grind up to level 9999? Not that crazy (yet). I also had, like, a hack and slash galore with Dynasty Warriors: Next and, similarly, One Piece 2 (latter I'm still playing). But really not my style of gameplay.


So, lately have been itching for a new (great) game to sink my teeth into but they really are hard to come by these days esp for the PS Vita. Thanks to the fact that much gaming has now shifted platform from hand held to, like, *spit* the mobile phone (gee, Angry Birds and Candy Crush and even Injustice?!?!? Come on!!!), the market for the Vita has shrunk so much outside of Japan I think it'll probably die soon. So, while it lasts, I'm hoping they will release Final Fantasy X-HD soon (even though I have a feeling it's going to be an anti-climax) ... the last time I heard it's not gonnabe released until, like, next March (2014). I'll probably have lost interest by then.



In the meantime, I've recently bought (and played) Valhalla Knights 3 (okay but Boring after post game) Y: Memories of Celceta (don't like), Atelier Meruru Plus: the Apprentice of Arland (bit like Holy Sorcery Story but more extensive and have yet to get into it). Surprisingly, I've picked up Final Fantasy IV: the Complete Collection and started to get into it. I've put it off for quite a long time simply because I'm very annoyed I lost the guide I bought for it ... and trust me, to fully enjoy the game, you HAVE TO HAVE this guide (despite what others say on games forums). I already missed a few, er, missables but, okay, it's annoying but no big drama. Nonetheless, it has a great score (really, really good) and I love the gameplay (turn-based!) despite it being a very old game. 

Up next: other passions of life: Phones (not as burning as before) and, of course, Yoga ...

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Eyes Closed


Something that we don't do often enough I think. Before I started practising yoga regularly, I think I seldom closed my eyes during the day. Now, I'll keep my eyes closed whenever I have a chance on and off the mat, mostly to block out the outer world and to seek calmness in, or bring focus to, the inner self. It's a comforting and nurturing feeling. Also, I think we are constantly distracted by what's happening around us that we forget about the self: how are we feeling physically and emotionally? Is the body sending out signals that we are ignoring? Having/increasing self awareness is a good way to maintain one's physical (and metaphysical) well-being. Taking a few short moments during the day to breathe deeply and go inward is very nourishing for the soul...

  

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Iyengar Yoga

Stumbled across this beautifully-shot short documentary by Lindsey Clennell this morning, showing how Iyengar yoga (founded by B.K.S. Iyengar) had helped people (former addicts/ ex-convicts/orphans) lead a better life. It features interviews with the guru himself.


Have to say how this particular school of yoga is taught in India is a bit rough & tough (more like something out of a correctional institution), which is not really my thing ... the practice serves a more functional purpose (think Iyengar yoga puts a big stress on alignment and is used to help practitioners who suffer from scoliosis) than being a lifestyle choice. Interesting all the same. 

Rather unfortunate that yoga is getting a bit of a bad rap/rep lately, with one scandal after another (John Friend and Bikram Choudhury in particular), which is a shame cos I still think practising yoga is good for the soul. Just gotta show even gurus are subject to human flaws...  

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Not Much on the Go...

My PSVita has been collecting dusts lately mainly there aren't that many good games on the market right now. I've stopped playing Valhalla Knights 3 after entering post-game, it just got a bit repetitive and tedious. Ys: Memories of Celceta, despite reasonably good reviews, isn't really my kinda game. It's mostly hack and slash and I rather play One Piece 2 (which turns out to be quite a long game!!!) Downloaded Rainbow Moon last night -- good thing it is only a trial (free) version because it's not that fun. Tactics Ogre (and maybe P4G) is still the best turn-based RPG ever released!

Patrick Creelman in King Pigeon

Progress, on the other hand, is being made in my yoga practice. Last week I took a class that focused on back-bending and after much warm up (King Pigeon pose!) I was able to advance on my wheel pose: when I was in the pose, I was able to shift forward and backward, thus allowing my lower back to further loosen up and my arms to really straighten up (yeah!), which is very encouraging. Though I don't practise as much these days but I still find taking three classes a week is quite optimal for my body.